Vertical Sleep

Vertical Sleep
by John M. Bennett
Luna Bisonte Prods, 2015
written between August & October 2013


door edge

edge windy creamy clouded
walks dog convect buried
untied shore if the
sweaty the decay crab
the garbage for your
muscles beach angles from
motive s strung by a door

"Door edge" is a recombinative shuffling of "edge wind" (page 19), prompted by the title, which is a variant of the "first word plus last word" titling technique often used by Bennett. Here the procedure is "last word plus first word with first word slightly modified" ("windy" to "wind"). I went through the poem from bottom to top in an X pattern, beginning with first word, first line plus last word, last line, then first word, last line plus last word, first line, followed by last word, penultimate line plus first word, second line, etc, proceeding in that manner until I reached the middle line, which would have given me the words "the" and "with" had I chosen to use them. Then, having written the resulting poem as two-word lines (with the exceptions of the lines including "s strung" and "a door"), I started at the bottom and cut-and-pasted the lines, bottom-to-top, until there were no more two-word lines. There is a logic to this, a system, based on the logic Bennett used to arrive at his title. There is nothing random or arbitrary about it. The procedure Bennett used to arrive at his title, which is clear and explicit, suggested a secondary and tertiary pattern for reading -- reading as writing -- as a series of formal extrapolations.


Opening a wordpad file and positioning it over the google books presentation of page 61 of Vertical Sleep so the page is only visible from left to right as far as the letters of the title extend, I begin writing a new version of "un erved" in which much more than a single letter (the second 'n' of unnerved) is missing. To set the process in motion I decide, arbitrarily, to use the three lines on page 62 as a post-snippet. Then, I begin at the bottom of page 61 and, working my way up to the title, arrive at the following poem:

obvi un

culo ,obvi
rules bool
gitado in t
ay yr mod
pit the sta
section ex
science de
nada done
auto Gita
dog yr fee
forma" sh
- margin t
de tu strat
rain tus go
latex ,clos
can tuition
lectic feve
uies the p
ruling der
even any
un erved

...Icarus in the ni / radar :paralax, t / dance across th...



This new poem, "obvi un", now that it is finished, includes innumerable other potential poems, at least one of which seems unavoidable at the moment:

forma" sh

culo ,obvi un erved
rules bool even any
gitado in t ruling der
panquequ uies the p
ay yr mod soadsuds
pit the sta lectic feve
section ex can tuition
science de latex ,clos
nada done interprets
auto Gita rain tus go
dog yr fee de tu strat
merimng - margin t

...Icarus th...



The procedures utilized for these iterations of "un erved" are perhaps a bit more involved than the ones used to transmogrify "edge wind", but the initial impetus, the direction of the generative decision, was determined precisely by a decision clearly present in the original poem. If a single letter is omitted from a single word, that is all we need to begin contemplating the ramifications of more disruptive omissions.

What is the goal? inquiring and discerning minds might ask. The goal is to make a poem. That's it. That's the whole thing. Everything else is secondary, potentially quite interesting and expansive, but secondary all the same.

Not everyone is interested in making poems, that much is all too obvious, and not everyone is interested in reading poems, which is also obvious enough and probably as it should be.

There are some among those of us who are interested in making poems who find the during of the making the most fascinating and rewarding aspect of the entire process. One poem will lead to another poem, if it is permitted to do so. It really does seem like that is what the poem wants to do. We find ourselves willing to say: the poem has a mind of its own, and it is restlessly inquisitive. It insists on staying in motion, and it wants the poet to come along. A few years ago I said to a young poet, a poet about forty years younger than myself, set the poem in motion and follow it around; you will always have something interesting in front of you. My mistake in that advice was to suggest that the poem needs any particular one of us to set it in motion. It is already in motion, and will always be so, it is our job if we are poets to connect ourselves to that energy.


hinge de l'etre

page 83 from Jim Leftwich, Six Months Aint No Sentence, Book 53, 2013
& Antonin Artaud, Héliogabale, ou l’anarchiste couronné, 1934

hinge & letter

Antonin Artaud: In America, the earth is living, even the stones are alive.

our tour of the cadaverous thoughtblade
story is an eye-gorge
dancing in latrines organizing states
we sang the heavy excrement
in our wounds
kicking in doors
produced an intense circulation of sperm
starting skulls at their source
feminine fireflower
pathpower's governtbuttment
the stupor of its infamy
the manual section of the cult
is an automatic infrastructure
the imbecilic rites discharge
the thing-such heavy with parricide
compares its goat-fish trumpet monster
ejaculating the double story complaints
smoulder dams in the state
of ebullience bath mat injected
in the livid materiality of our story
as things wordless fields
and the pierced queues of vivid mind-fish
punk tuna face metaphor
with effervescent bulbs
dunes pesto on the rooftops
the end home one bull
of spherical perfume
our frozen sensory peas unoracle
hydro-romantic stripped of sound
the tuning wrong
the knobs steaming
man is passively grotesque
chained to his automatic phallus
documentary account of thoughts
ought punish the munitions
attached to the sun in summer
at opposite state's howl who
plants these charts of dusty astronomy
as power disbeans reaganomics
flowering intelligent water
cosmetic recumulation
the odors afflict the roses
boiling in oil intestine-style
neath the sauce of the earth

In Roanoke and in Columbus, the earth is living, even the stones are alive. -- Retorico Unentesi


email exchange between Bennett & Leftwich February 28, 2018

JMB: just read this - good focus on the hacking of the hacking - and yr account of procedure for Door Edge has that great Ackerman hacking-account vibe, great to read that.

you mention the "google books presentation" of Vertical Sleep - what's that?  Has google got that book in digital format?  if so, how did THAT happen?  he asked wildly...

anyway, Vertical Sleep focuses on play with baroque (hispanic baroque, mainly: Góngora, Sor Juana, Cervantes, Lezama Lima) diction and sentence structure - long, complex sentences, full of asides, that are only ended/completed in the last word/phrase.  I have a tendency to write, or meander, going back and forth, a passage baroque, in prose, a style unfamiliar and frowned upon, if only by the short-sentence school, but which I often edit out, if unfortunately, to appease such short-sentence readers, which is a loss, in that the meandering toward a goal, if slow, is a way of encompassing more into a thought, as thoughts are global not linear, as you might have noticed.

don Luis


JL: i love Ackerman's descriptions of his hacking methods

i don't know what's going on with google and the digitized books (but it is helpful to have this kind of thing when doing research)

i like those meandering sentences, and may have written a few of them myself, here and there, over the years


JMB: yes indeed, plenty of meandering sentences you have done!



Jim Leftwich is a poet who lives in Roanoke, Virginia. ​Recent publications include ​​Volumes 1​, 2​ & ​3​ of ​​Rascible & Kempt: Meditations & Explorations in and Around the Poem (Luna Bisonte 2016​, 2017​, edited by John M. and C. Mehrl Bennett); Tres tresss trisss trieesss tril trilssss: Transmutations of César Vallejo (also from Luna Bisonte, 2018); and Sound Rituals, collaborations with billy bob beamer published by Olchar Lindsann at mOnocle-Lash in 2018.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Monday, July 2, 2018 - 11:53