Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Girl, Blue Stockings

Girl, blue stockings, high heeled
going badly with this uneven
gummed terrain, and so
piggy-backed through Piccadilly
you ask for water, a little salt
excruciating slow under the gilt
red drapes, a shocker, looks
to be a three-o-clocker
back to the ever
so sleight of hand with a tip
and a flourish
back onto the street where twice-timed
girl, blue stockings, falters, halts, impedes and
halo'd by streetlight we, laughing,
fall over ourselves home.

Thursday, October 25, 2007



There’s a vast difference between creation and composition. Creation gets it down on the page while composition is a long process. Composition has many stages—first creation, then editing and peer review, which alternate until a poem finds its form.

R Creation
N Editing
T Criticism

The poet Marvin Bell offers a key to the creation of poetry: to begin we must give ourselves permission to move a pen over paper and let the ink run where it will. Leave it in the notebook. Tear it out if you must. But write. And in the act of writing, momentum builds from which the prima materia of poetry will emerge. Creation is the first step.

Next comes editing—the long process of boiling down, refining and condensation. The art of editing is like the distillation of a rare spirit. It’s the discipline of showing up in the morning for your shift at the condensery.

Give yourself permission to create now and edit later. Write the good the bad and the shitty. Nothing’s permanent. Go back later to edit, to compose, to polish. Attempting to create poetry while mentally editing does little more than cause writer’s block. We all have felt boredom accumulating under our seats while the clock ticks thunder behind a blank stare. Frustration smoldering. Behold the gaping nada happening on the page. Ecco! Get that hand moving—something much easier to do when out from under the crippling expectation that a gem ought to materialize fully formed. Most of your best poetry will not emerge for another ten revisions. Composition is a long process. Mind extends out into the tip of a pen and moves. Conflating creation with composition is the quickest way to halt this miracle of motion before it has a chance to begin.

To creation and editing I would add criticism, thus making a trinity of composition. Peer review strengthens a text through opposition. Many minds pounding away at a piece can only make what remains more robust. Pound said, “If the stone isn’t hard enough to maintain the form, it has to go out.” We work so long, with so little reward that the temptation to flatter and take our strokes where we may sometimes overwhelms our purpose. Ego rots. But the work remains. Misplacing our focus, attention goes from the work to the writer. In a sort of reverse ad hominem, we gush. We fail our office to create vibrant, healthy language by withholding criticism and allowing literature to decay. Living language becomes a husk—next stop, abattoir [read: the evening news]. Is it any wonder that Everyman ignores poetry, leaving us to our own inbred audience?

The hotter the flames purge, the brighter our phoenix. Like uncle Ez said—If the rock can’t hold the form, it must go out with the rest.

Jean Cocteau on opposition—

Fighting stimulates us, whereas a kindly disposed public sends us to sleep.

We continually need a wall, as in a game of ‘pelota’, in order to carry out our game, either alone, or with or against others. It is this that brings down on us the reproach, now of arrogance if the wall we have selected is a masterpiece universally respected—now maliciousness if our wall is a ‘master’.

But in no case is either masterpiece or master a target. The wall in the game of ‘pelota’ is not the target. We are not playing with arrows that stick in, but with balls that bounce off. No one in the Basque country ever feels sorry for the wall. It is precisely in order not to have to feel sorry for the wall, or spoil it, or make holes in it, or split it, that we choose strong ones, upon which even the hardest balls leave no mark.

Let me run and jump about and take my exercise.

Professional Secrets, COCTEAU’S WORLD, p. 380

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


of flesh

us in

this world


Tuesday, October 23, 2007


as if wistfully intoxicated
on cider from the offie,
as if rolling weed up
in a rizzla, thinking lazily
about a summer walk
with a boyfriend months ago,
as if clipping toenails
by a two-bar heater
watching "crossroads" on the telly,
sandy denny's voice floats out
from the broken-down old stereo
in my flat above the street.
and the girls in sports cars
flashing by my window
look tragically misguided
passing, while she sings:
perfect hair, expensive
victoria beckham sunglasses.
sandy denny looked like shit.
but listening to "liege and lief",
jesus, what a beauty!

Monday, October 22, 2007



early morning
first dawn light
far horizon
cardiac until bed
remote television mute
recycling weather channel
digital clock blinking
live sometime ago
waiting sunday morning
“newspapers” excuse
escaping modern wife
munising madwoman
upper peninsula tranny
petrol filled
warm beer breakfast
serious buzz waiting
crossing mackinaw bridge


12 o’clock high

awkward ‘v’ formations
returning springtime geese
louisiana flyway miles
empty spaces
gaggle members lost
like b-17 squadron ghosts
bishop cobb wilson zimmy
daylight bombing raid
schweinfurt germany
flak fw 109

Thursday, October 11, 2007


predecessors & newcomers

there are more ants
appearing on the kitchen floor
i slap some with a newspaper
they don't stick to it though
their small little black bodies
remain on the white tile
like wiggling burnt flecks
from the frying pan
some don't move at all
i am on my way out
so i leave them scattered
until i get back
but upon my return
there are more again
the tiny corpses of
their predecessors
do not deter the newcomers
from invading
they just walk around them
and head up towards
the kitchen countertops

This is the last of the current crop of poems by Rob Plath, though I would hope to publish some more in the future. In the meantime you can read more by Plath at his MySpace site (see link on the right), which he updates with frightening regularity.

Sunday, October 07, 2007


getting up at six.
black coffee in the dark.
porridge reading
poems from japan.
night drawing back
over the village
at precisely eight
somebody drilling
instructions barked
across the brittle air.
the stream of cars
steadily increasing
until they flash by
monk tinkling
on my stereo at nine
free-form piano
anachronistic brass.
on sundays
all you do
is wait and watch.
the day starts
at ten o'clock
when the supermarkets open.

Saturday, October 06, 2007


jonny brokenworld

jonny brokenworld sneaks out of the shadows
of alleyways to grab still-burning cigarettes
flicked onto the sidewalks by passersby
most of them are taken down to the filter
but jonny doesnt mind, he smokes the filters
gathers the fumes into the branches of his lungs
"that's where the heroin is," he mumbles to himself
"that's where the heroin is, fuckers"
then he blows his crooked bumpy nose
by placing a thumb over one nostril
& snorting out of the other into the gutter
then jonny slinks back into the alley shadows
& jonny brokenworld sleeps beneath a cold tarp
& jonny brokenworld swims in all of our plasma

Thursday, October 04, 2007


the gladiators

long before i began writing
the typewriter made my gut jump

in a good way that is

the entire machine intrigued me
from the keys to those two thin
metal rabbit ears in back
that held the paper up

same goes for liquor bottles
long before i ever cracked a seal
the different colored bottles
set something off in me

i sensed something
good & powerful in these things
& then a few years later
i found i was right

they are the true weapons
of gladiators

There will be more poems from Rob Plath, and a bio for the curious, in the coming days.

poem: JAN

precise physical resemblance
proves nothing, dearie.
strong gift at the typer? pshaw,
don't get sentimental on me.
they surround his corpse
like feeding crows, you know,
all these failures and fuck-ups
fifteen times removed.
there must be some kind
of goddamn screening process.
can't throw ten thou at every
old drunk with a letter
that promises the world.
soon there would be nothing left.
except the books, of course,
yeah, except the books.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

poem: jack

for gerald nicosia

jack denied fatherhood
of a whole generation
of long-haired sensitive seekers.
one beauty of a talented
daughter also, straight
off the books, right out of the will.

his good qualities are famous,
and he wrote like a dream.
he was just that sort
of absent dad, i'm afraid.