Posts Tagged ‘Nik De Dominic’

Nik De Dominic: From Henry Sturgis’ Essay “The Iron Spine” from Old Adventures of the West

The following is a poem by Nik De Dominic made via a process of erasure on the text named in the title. It is published here for the first time. Nik provided this statement on the project:


“I xeroxed pages out of a book my mother had sent me that had a pretty cover, yellow and green. I’d had it for years and had never looked at it. I hadn’t written for awhile and thought I would try my hand at an exercise I often work through with students, manipulating a found text, to generate, to get me out of my own head and tics and language and habits and techniques and the things that were probably causing the block in the first place, the me. I eliminated phrases, redacting away with a black chisel tip marks-a-lot . I felt like a spy. Or rather a person who redacts things for spies. It felt good. When I was finished I sent it to my friend Andrew Wessels and told him I’d made an erasure. I wanted his approval. Andrew is much smarter than I am. When he read it, he wrote back, “This isn’t an erasure.” I could imagine him shaking his head and judging me. I asked why not. He said, “erasures (that at least seem to work best to me) are works that find an otherness in the text, an unintended result of the problems of circumscription in the derridean and/or de manian meaning of that. difference/difference/etc. i think reddy (either written somewhere or just in conversation) has mentioned it as a ghostly voice within the text..you are finding your own story/poem there. the original text as generative for your own purposes. this poem feels like a nik de dominic poem/story.” I said, but Andrew, but I erased shit.”



From Henry Sturgis’ Essay “The Iron Spine” from Old Adventures of the West



          the raw afternoon
                                                                                                            dedicated



both oceans


                                    Before




                                                      a bystander


                  shouted






                                                                                                            hush





                                    the hissing
                                                      at the junction point






                                                                                                                                                the
    “Dot, dot, dot.”


                                                                                          aswarm from headlight to cab



                  discreet
    now truly – physical –






                                                                                                            driven home.)



                                                                                                                              wrangling
          each other’s pockets



                                                      and laying         under


them foolish. Nevertheless,


                                                      drawn
aside



                                                      and lumbering along




                  Good Hope.
                                                                                                           glowing
                                                                                         in the lush




                                    urge











                                    :a wagon            halts



                                                                                                                              the well-connected
















										

                                                                                                                                                                  parched
right-of-way














                                                      Iron                  one         fate would scorn





                                                                              The job called for
                                                                        Judah.


                                                                                                                                                                  recalled years
later


                                                                        ,


								

I’m going to have         to do     it.






                                                                                                            probed deeper
                                                                                          the magic
                  tried to convince those who would listen



                                                                                                                                                as     harmless if tire-


some






now preoccupied



                                                                        he handed in


the mountains

			


										      

                                                                                                                                                                        an old
wagon




and the Nevada flats beyond. That was it—
                                                                        for tunnel hogs and blasting crews.




Judah charged back                                                                         to his headquarters at
the drugstore.





                                                                                                                                                Judah went chumming
for bigger fish.
                                                                                          a number of fruitless meeting



                                                                                                                                                among them were








                                                                        a manipulator, a money raiser




		


                                                      a railroad to the Missouri.




                                    Judah told his wife







                                                                                                            “It’s about time





	


                                                                        in the construction of this road.”
                  a distinct asset:




	

                                                                                          the most wild-eyed






elephant.                                                       we can harness                                     up.
              What Judah did not know was







                  arm twisting




                                                                                                                                                                  Judah was






                                                                                                                                                                  alluvial soil







The cronies were                                                                         an eye



                                                                        later estimated





                                                                                                                              a number




                  Judah                   boarded a steamer for the East,






                                    he died.




the widow.                       got on with     heir business


                                                                        a





                  prime mover.












                                    ,                       (seated, third from left) .



                  schemes afoot. For Instance,













                                                                                                                                                                  hard-handed
men in the field.













You are about to build                                                       a country that has
neither law nor order.








                                                                        he was ordered to
pacify some of the more troublesome
troops of horses.



                                                                                          “Nobody knows where he is but everybody
knows where he has been.”




                                                                                                                                                                  The
railroads could                       issue








                                                                        the Missouri River
The Lord           so constructed



                                                                                                            fit to belong
to the profession.” There were, however, two major hazards: distance and Indians.














                                                                                          “Away she goes!” Then,         the
                  rail boomed




                                                                                                                                                the spikers and clamp-
ers                                                                                                                                           carried iron rods,
steel bars, cable, rope, switchstands,



				

                                                                                                                              A reporter from
the                   Deseret
                  the flatcars;




























Some                                                                                                             work                   in the High






So efficient



                                                                        one mile of




                  frantic race


                                                                                                                                                                  to their
considerable joy
                                    gamblers, peddlers, and prostitutes, all eager




                                                                        progress,
                                                                                                                                                  the pleasure-mon-
gers



					

                                                                                                                                                “Watchfires gleam
                  sea-like
                                    “while inside soliders
                                    are


                                                                                                                              a fellow creature












Sierras.                                                                         the terrible                                                       everyone.


	

                                                                        in daylight unwhipped




                  In                   daylight                                                       gliding through


                                                                                                            slung to                         waist.”

		


										

                                                                                                                                                                  passing out
riffles                                                                                           his toughest ironmen, walked slowly
through town one summer night.





there in the graveyard





Several small advance parties of
                                                                                                                                                                  the
trapped                                                                         in the flaming
Occasionally



                                                                                                            an iron horse alive

											

                                                                                                                                                                                    in-
fused with magic
                                                                                                                                                                  a
medicine rope                                                                                                                                       swept under
the wheels









											

                                                                                                                                                                                    with
little or no damage


                  the work of road                                                                                           the work of
                  making







	


                                                                                          the ink
The fact

											

                                                                                                                                                                                    of
                                                                                                                                                the                   good


                                                                                          The securities






                  The kited profits













                                                                                          The referee











									




changes my line I’ll quit the road







                                                                                                                                                                  the road





                                                      We all want                   to say with the road.




										

                                                                                                                                                                  there was
                                                                        the line


                                    no trouble at all –
                                                      passes to ride                                                       and
hitchhike









                                                      the assault
                                    modestly










                                    Roaring                                                                                                                             cease-
lessly, bragging, bullying



                                                                                                                                                                                    the
summit passes


                                                                                                            Flat on his back



                                                                                                                              shouting profane





of



                                                                        scheme, and the remaining


























                                    (standing under bird cage) settled the quarrel between
                  evening                                                             s
water, boiled











                                                                        sheer                                     rock                   miles from the
                                                      wove baskets of reeds





                                                                                                                                                while the nitro blew.
                                                                                          steam
                                                                                                                                                burrowed
through




                  the fall



                                                      hitched                         to




                  the
                  death in canyon bottoms:







                                                                                          The                   ordeal was over.





                                                      the                               boys spurred ahead.












              When they came     rivers or ravines,





                                                                                          Snow and even                   river ice
                                    laid rail                                                       so narrow
in the water










                  to carve parallel                   within sight of each other.




										

                                                                                                                                                                                    that
                                                                        of the nonsense












                  on a junction point









                  from sunup to sundown                                                                         for
ten miles and two hundred feet.





                                    it began to rain



                  the mud to champagne
                                                                                                                                                The track hands
                                                                        drunk                                                                         ramshackle





                                                                                                            rails met








                                                                        What was it the engines said,





	

                                                                                                                                    this was one hell of a way to
build a railroad.


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THERMOS 6: Nik De Dominic

Nik De Dominic teaches in Orleans Parish Prison and in the Bard Early College New Orleans program. He’s an editor at The Offending Adam and New Orleans Review, and my favorite poet living and publishing in New Orleans today. — AS



Ataxia


We wait at the toll behind a train
of cars along the side of the highway


a work truck pulled over a man
stands in an empty field high


grass to his knees he stares
up at a billboard its planks


of plywood weathered curl
base and top to center


here we they meet



from here
I can only see the river how we cross


how it snakes through the city
an empty field:



*



here is the line the beauty
in its crossing


sound across the bay         holy roses
wrapped up in burlap bed sheets


the image an icon
your name on it don’t leave


California license plate key chain
bleeding


in the bed
an empty glass
rolling in the linens


let’s build a church here
the bottom



*



from place from place
from roadside fires and Waffle Houses
from the man-sized pines that litter


the highways of the southeast
places I’d never been I’d been before
fantastic things happened the night before:


You set fire to the cattle last night.
The whole field orange in the dark
the headlights of a passing truck.



*



Behind the school a small alleyway
fenced off from the sidewalk
sits a magician’s trunk


here is the line
to divide to limit space:
nine men wrestle


a round a foul
trains of birds
in molt in mid


dle in heat in
deed only action
in tents and in purses


each holds
ache holds
the other


sectioned
in threes by
brass hardware:



*



locks and hinges—draped
in a child’s purple sweater


dusted wood shavings
collapse chain-link
separate myself from you


separated in three by the woven steel
when I remove my hands already
I know what they’ll look like



I keep asking if we have gone.



*



Here is the line


to delineate symbol & thought:



red hat


spent book


matches


jar


content spill


the asphalt:


countless rubber bands


rubbers the bands


child’s skull


metal electroplating


metal salad bowl


cupric cupid


water-insoluble


rust



*



A church


sides the roadside


tinny bodies


all ten ears


grounded await


charge/change


in currents


a brief


electrical storm



*



You’re body your body underwater the smell water the smell chlorine your body body underwater body water each particle its taste tilt-a-wheel spin cycle washing machine maker heat comes pools body you are body so many bodies left here her to this holy roadside.



                  When did it start raining?



                  when we wake it is still
                  night close to light our bodies


                  in damp the taste your mouth
                  a burnt field barren dry without



                  then its hot glow the scar tissue raised
                  white floats above your hipbone


                  under your breasts circles areolas down
                  the spine under the jaw rope burns


                  here is where the body parts father
                  would say looks like you got into a hatchet fight


                  without your hatchet but you are not
                  I know this in fever dream



*



would say you look like you that we don’t like this but the night of cars along the side of the highway. Under the jaw rope burns. Here my father. Heat comes pools your body and singular. When I remove my hands already sectioned in threes with brass hardware: locks and hinges. The scar tissue raised white, floats all of them and the round’s on him. Left here to her this holy roadside how it snakes through the city there sits a magician’s trunk. He stares up at an empty billboard:



                  This is a body.



Last night
we met a guy who was a mobile glass guy:



                  drive to your house replace windshields et cetera
                  on your car as you wait—or don’t wait.


                  Leave a lot of receipts in newly sealed vehicles
                  insurance invoices et cetera.



*



Yeah I do of course when I install
large panes and everything is pre-cut at the shop


before I drive out of course et cetera. So I just slap it in
seal it and leave. But I don’t wear gloves pre-install


during the clean up the vacuuming et cetera of course
and the shit gets everywhere like glitter—even


the safety glass like glitter and now with the sun out
as it is et cetera my skin gets cut gets into my socks


in my chonies everywhere my whole body glows
et cetera et cetera et cetera et cetera et cetera et


here is the line



*



to catch and direct the eye over a given course
take me to the river orient a city from it watch


as we’ll go mad running our mouths out
filling our mouths with mouths


the ice cream truck loud
outside won’t you


you spare us
a quarter a field a billboard.


This is a vehicle.
This is the limen.



*



show position in space and/or time


Aboard about above across after against along amid among anti around as at
Before behind below beneath beside between beyond by


Down during
Except excluding


Following for from
In inside into


Like
Minus


Near
Of off on onto opposite outside over


Past per plus
Regarding round


Save since
Than through to toward


Under underneath unlike up upon
Versus via


With within
Lastly, without.



*



I knew a girl called Lila yeah yeah yeah
Here is the line to produce grey or tonal gradation:


we enter here from a place that looks like the others
its cheap patterned carpeting and leather-backed chairs


sectioned so we cannot sleep even if we wanted to
outside the window concrete divided


by yellow small carts wheeling around
the plane looks the same this one


perhaps smaller someone eats graham crackers
this is the first time that’s happened:



*



above us nothing


below the sectioned


patchwork of country


a singular body the line


to create arrangement


PXP 2013: Schedule of Events

THERMOS’s editors will all be in New Orleans Nov. 7-9 to host the second annual Poetry Exchange Project Symposium at Tulane University and at other locations in the city. All events are free and open to the public. If you’re in the area, please stop by. — AS



Friday, Nov. 8 (Tulane campus, St. Charles Ave. side)


11:30am: PXP presentations, Norman Mayer Hall, Rm. 125
            Students from Tulane, University of Georgia, and University of the Arts deliver
            presentations of completed PXP projects.


1:00 pm: Panel A: Poetry Beyond the Classroom (Norman Mayer Hall, Rm. 200B)
            Moderator: Dan Rosenberg
            Panelists: Nik De Dominic, Melissa Dickey, Anne Marie Rooney, Jay Thompson
1:00 pm: Panel B: Poetic Lineage (Norman Mayer Hall, Rm. 125)
            Moderator: Andy Stallings
            Panelists: Peter Cooley, Robert Fernandez, Carolyn Hembree, Laura Walker


2:00 pm: Panel C: The Life of Contemporary Poetry (Norman Mayer Hall, Rm. 200B)
            Moderator: Zach Savich
            Panelists: Matt Hart, Mary Hickman, Paul Killebrew, Teresa Villa-Ignacio

 

3:30 pm: Ian Zelazny Memorial All-City Student Reading (Norman Mayer Hall Rm. 200B)
            25-30 students from schools and universities around the city and region read poems.


6:00 pm: PXP Keynote Reading (Rogers Memorial Chapel)
            Robert Fernandez, Matt Hart, Mary Hickman, Paul Killebrew, Anne Marie Rooney and Laura
            Walker read new poetry.


9:30 pm: Party and Concert (2433 St. Claude Ave., Entrance on Music St., byob)
            Students and symposium participants are all invited!



Saturday, Nov. 9 (Buddhist Community Center, 623 N. Rendon St.)


12:00 pm: Hunter Deely Memorial Reading
            Brief readings by Carroll Beauvais, Megan Burns, Carrie Chappell, Peter Cooley, Nik De
            Dominic, Melissa Dickey, Cassandra Donish, Maia Elgin, Rebecca Morgan Frank,
            Elizabeth Gross, Michael Jeffrey Lee, Kay Murphy, Brad Richard, Dan Rosenberg,
            Zach Savich, Shelly Taylor, Jay Thompson, Afton Wilky, Mark Yakich