DALE M. HOUSTMAN
Dale features in the Comrades special surrealist poetry feature in this month's issue (7), also was made Poet of The Week recently. Of his life he says:
"I was born in 1950. What occurred before I was 18 interests me less and less. My birth in England is now important for some vague mental intimacy with Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, and other great vendors of nonsense. I cherish this involvement. But nationality means little to me,. as I think it to be a disease of the imagination. At the very least it constitutes a blockage.
At 18 - beneath the duress of the Vietnam draft, and just awakening from a defensive social coma - I was birthed directly into the counterdrift of the 60s; slowly I gathered a new language to explain myself to myself. The fact is that - essentially and in ways I will not explain here - the audience-idea is of disinterest to me, and I am out to surprise only myself. I want to find myself walking in a marvelous world. That some portions of this new tongue (and not necessarily the meatiest portions) were prompted by drugs no longer concerns me: what is crucial is the excrescence of the imagination, or infoliation of observation. I awoke to find myself outside the house for the first time. I ran off.
At 22 I read Arthur Rimbaud's "Illuminations" and poetry was taken apart and re-made in my head. Although I had only been writing consciously for a few years, these grotesque lenses focused my attention: I was taken by a dead boy!
And from Arthur the central lesson: that poetry lies beyond the page, it is the clearing in the flowers that the words can only attempt to fill. And then the Surrealists, drifting above the pathways to that clearing, planted sunflowers in the eyes of dead princes in airplanes. Modernity entered.
I digress -
Again I had lumbered across the very language that would explain what I could not uncover in myself. The mummy awoke to the clatter of diamonds. It wasn’t that Surrealism was a strange land, but that I felt I had arrived home, just in time for tea. The table was set, although haphazardly, and I was instructed to wait for the others. I left immediately, somewhat insulted by this delay. Yet I came again and again: eventually I noticed that the tea had cooled, its cream congealed, and gave off the odor of a jetplane.
Writers and artists and thinkers who have been of importance to me include: Emily Dickinson, Arthur Rimbaud, Andre Breton, Buster Keaton, Samuel Beckett, Murnau, James Whale, Marlon Brando, Orson Welles, McCartney & Lennon, Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac, Doestoevsky, Kafka, Dickens, Jean Arp, Rene Magritte, Muhammed Ali, Houdini, Philip K. Dick, Rod Serling, Jack "King" Kirby, Sandy Koufax, Charles Xavier Fourier, Jonathan Swift, Pliny the Elder, Ovid, Sid Caesar, Laurel & Hardy - and a thousand others. At various times of my life these people mattered.
I have parents (Delten and Joyce), a brother (Gary), friends, influences, an ex-wife whose bouquet still lingers, partners and comrades. All are still loved. They appear in my work, and to some I dedicate a piece or two. This is probably the best I can do."
Dale's books, some of which have recently been published:
Alice is Talking Again
the unwritten complement
the attractive principle
the gradual disappearance of explanation
Topologies: Elevations & Depressions
The Perfumed Fence
The End of the Gold Season!
Naked to the Invisible Eye
The Straying Edge
100 Julia Sets
Ghosts Are The Conscience of Light
The Radiant Kingdom
Short Grace Pass
The Starlit Dog and Other Tales
Shocks & Struts: prose fragments
Ghost Posters: idle drawings
THE ANIMAL HOUR|
© Dale Houstman
We remember the beer-colored buildings and the ginger beer streets
where dust's feminine animals fell crying into retirement
and splendid vacant temples sacred to a single tree were fitted
with silly porcelain doors (absurdly small) and blue windows
whose fugitive light, yellow as the great public river
was worshipped by the dogs as a rough but fair justice.
And the long, humidity beaded consultations of the sentimental guru
clutching all that is cheap yet baffling to his scheming bosom;
from every ancient, wise and humiliated torsion of literary sex
to every woman forced into the dove's body beneath a dark and heavy archway.
Without a doubt, these must be blossoming symbols of compassion
undiluted by regulation, unnatural and beautiful as a policeman's red veil;
so that, leaving behind the learned delicacy of begging-
all the rest is mere satiation, and we collapse in the open market
The gods repose their full marble length in silk-hung alleys,
their peddler's sexuality triumphantly zoological and hesitant
and their perfumed expirations constellated with black eyes
to spy upon the insects, the richest souls in the world.
And the Most Adored Emperor of the Police carting his many portraits
upon the back of an elephant painted red to embarrass nature,
and the pool full of women whose vaginas are expensively jeweled mosques,
or union contracted tearooms, or mother-of-pearl railway stations
hidden high in the Himalayas behind advertisements for British petrol
where we find Jupiter's snake-sister cashiering at a morality playhouse
whose secret name has twenty syllables, and whose curtain is human skin
inscribed with the calligraphy of regiments and repellent love poetry for the dead
who also remember these beer-colored buildings and ginger beer streets
disappearing into a marvelous fog of children's blood and oranges and the sun
"SUNNY DAY SCHOLAR" by Dale M. Houstman.
This one is my favourite out of his Surrealist artwork featured this month.
CLICK HERE to view "A GOOD DAY" - also by Dale
CLICK HERE to view another of Dale's artworks: "THE PARTY'S OVER"
(Both of these are shown smaller than actual size, for ease of loading). Dale's poetry continues below.
© Dale Houstman
Inside virtue's allegory hides
rarefied and dangerous affections: meaty and supple
sons and daughters stand for the centuries
on hand-polished and classical footstools,
while the One True Object remains
a Byzantine Madonna, reliable for warm white rain
and white idiot families.
Yet, discretion is the un-birthday gift of theology
just as bestiality is bestowed by agriculture. And the kisses
of the rare and magnificently collared nocturnal Husband Tapir
shouting wish-fulfilling fantasies at gale force
through a stretched and urine-soaked cheesecloth
as a sanitary measure
are just as riddled with contracts and overdrafts as ever.
It is difficult to marry; sharp-tongued, frequently ugly, always vulgar;
the monstrous offspring of space and Time asleep
in an antique iron tub and gallons of ice water.
So? The modern world could have been predicted
by the patterns thrown on faces by an auto-da-fe,
even as arabesque jokes about blue rubber cathedrals persist
everywhere that love appears incapacitated by love.
On a more professional level: bishops and businessmen
violate the thresholds of a million hot baths
in grotesquely over-priced yet conventional loin cloths-
the Renaissance didn't alter so much. An illegal kiss
purchased in a train passageway or up any shaft
can still cost a few precious crowns. And brothels introduced by brutal men
in a fit of excised courtesy-though often painted with urban egotism,
are otherwise little improved over the slaughterhouses they always were.
Heretics hoard contraceptives while the sumptuaries and libertines
once so pretty and adored for their haute couture flush
have been made interchangeable (by cynicism's upwind erosions)
with the crabby camels, the ambitious dung beetles, and the merely rich.
The desk-job sodomites of imperialism
are too often bitterly slow in their pleasure-taking, sometimes disgusted
by the boot-lickers who worship beneath them.
At the close of any intriguing involvement, perpetual laws cover ashes and bones
with the autumn scents of gold and rot, that manly cologne, carefully distributed
behind our backs. Copulation (considered as a night job)
has become genuinely serious, and disavows any need
for those outrageous postures assigned it by Aretino,
and the daily rites of condemnation, even revulsion,
are perhaps an erotic sub-group all to themselves.
Still, the sickest yellow ghost of a beggar's dog
licking mud puddles in the mountains of Peru,
and the scarred jaguar still reigning between the falling trees,
and the velvet-chained cormorant rising,
and even the fish that it gently folds into its receptive beak
share love like the moon is shared;
we are surrounded
by a vaudeville of sex and humor,
grounded herds and imprisoned flocks
which overt punishment (extracted from pure horse sense)
administers in a lengthy dream punctuated with eggs
and marries one to the other and all coincidentally
to those mysterious "Virgins of the Sun" who sleep on high peaks
drowned in blood's night lights, circled by diamond fences
waiting only to spill over
and to expose their infinite and compliant surfaces;
Fronts facing, heads first, or whatever celestial posture
(now divorced from Aretino)
the spirits sketch for you upon
the virtue hides.
To the Senate
© Dale Houstman
Universal nature, though we are still much confused, continues
to seek the terminus of its will, to cage it, to secret its tendons
behind clouds of providence, or to seed tendencies
we might otherwise forget to cultivate.
This is termed by certain gentleman as "seasonable,"
seasonable as the common cause of farms when winter arrives
or as seasonable as a discussion by the treasurer.
Thus, we consider feeling to be a form of farming;
the breaking of large clods into small clods,
and the patience upon the whims of climate.
But how glacial of late the light which falls
upon our gods and from our gods.
Nothing is great-the light seated in each soul
is without assignment.
And this nothing is further divided, thus:
our legions fly the flags of both Lily and Nettle.
Is this (as the Greek said) "a sensation only lacking sensation"?
And what finally are we to be deprived of?
How frail our opinions, even when heated.
Our hungers are small, easily filled;
where is the promised lark's-tongue?
Where the wine and mountaintop ice?
the gallery promptor begs me to quicken my speech -
How hard we have toiled up from dirt to this dais
to revive a thousand antique disappointments
of the heart and the liver we shall finger for calculi,
seeking the will's terminus there.
it remains all gossip and giddy rumor.
And this "seasonable" virtue
is it also profitable
I hear you all begin to ask. How small
the light which falls. How dim the tasks.
dedicated to Candace Pert
© Dale Houstman
Day emanates from theories about the "average day". It is Judea's proposal season.
Stone birds explode in Saul's emergency head. The divorce taps are stolen
from the dream "mice on cocaine versus mice on strong ale":
what's that grandiose word for debasement's Severini sky? Ah yes: "work".
Descartes Blanche (relying on strangeness in Der Kinder) chews
the soul's irreparably cloven tea cakes.
the violent tech-opiates are set to jam with jade wiring
up a rathersome grunge ladder of lunar-dose response curves
monitored at the angel-binding site.
Dream of the ego dreaming
and then walk down to open the night at the other end of the ward.
Every skin's position encompasses the larks of friendly fire
upon the road kneeling beneath each breath
and the talk big as cities' breath-fixed guns
upon the Hot monkey Walls, and girls so with it,
their necks bubblesome little nuggets and cups of hearing breaking
to reconcile the birth of timed Greek sea-lane lights,
our skeleton's brittle map pins, map bones, and map feathers:
cambric affinities gleam in the child's bed
full of Dixie monkeys crying the skin's still coral stem
buggered through with white tunnels.
Tibet is thick and wet in the hand.
The treetop lulls the army lip of daughter days. You know:
tolerance got sick using the filing system of filing systems.
the dresses Alabama-tilted patois flower-brewski June. The beds brown nicely
gravies on a rock repletion.
A breeze cured by the ghost's proposing sweat
to a body counting the aeroplanes.
Her green gold instep
and shoes blonder than sleet
fallen in a jazz club.
The Russian isolatium warehouse
with pink nipple-peek shirts, the pupils repaired. Our Little golden Hour Book.
Period in the oven smelling of that fur fragment girl-A crime cologne
deep-red martins struck wire through nobody bleeding in a Rolls Royce tonight,
sharing the pretty clown's slag of cash. Poor asphyxiated shrimp.
Nigerian saffron bottomless and topless soup bindles
pale in the cold udder under the woman's fingernail,
thorns in warm sons, Uncle Widdershins.
Nothing stood and the Moscow-fish dances
a sack of mechanic's minted tips in bolt grease.
Providence administers lashes with an orange.
Providence smells of onions.
Providence ruffles its cheek against the skylight.
The sun complained of the cuisine
and that autumn's mirror-tooled Cleopatra is lost in her bronchitis.
St.-Sulpice has a shirt he gets high in
staring at a woman's forehead full of cold tea.
Dr. Steady gives one more dry lesson about mushrooms
to be found in the classicist's faunal body.
What a wind!