Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Flarf (Found?) Poem

The other day I received the following sentence string in one of the numerous spam messages that bombard my email box daily, and it such a sheer touch of (Language) poetry that I decided to turn it into a Flarf-style poem, mainly by breaking it into alternating couplets and quartets. (For a while, like electronipoet Latasha Natasha Diggs, I was saving these things but finally I just decided my inbox was close to bursting.) Michael Magee links to K. Silem Mohammad's and Gary Sullivan's definitions of "flarf" here, so maybe the doggerel below isn't really flarf, but just, well, doggerel. I've labeled it an anthem, since its utter lack of sense listing towards meaning strikes me as particularly fitting for our current societal moment. I guess the one thing it lacks is sufficient reference to celebrity (save two) and brand names. Strangely enough, that ominous "buchenwald"--and "gop" uncapitalized--really was in the original string; I couldn't have outdone it if I'd...tried?

What most interests me about these spam strings is how there'll be some initial semblance of semantic coherence, as in the initial stanzas, with their echoes of later Eliot (channelling Ashbery), or the actual syntactically correct "thy mother is looking" or "of life in a perceived manner without the body," which could easily have been lifted out of Jorie Graham (and some computer program might very well have done that), before the generator just gives up and starts spitting out real and nonce words linked by "some" and "and" and "what" and "or" and "not" and "may." Some may remain or not and whatnot. The erotic potential of some of the strange combinations shouldn't be overlooked.

Actually, it's metrically sound enough that it could be set to music. Particularly very mellifluous or very loud music. I lack that skill, but I welcome anyone to try. If you do, please send jstheater the link to the file!

Amy or Antonio, a New National Anthem

What beastie what thoroughfare not decisionmade and duplex
neither broadside nor biconcave that hoary donkey hemorrhage

was first to speak: thy mother is looking
for some basic transportation fluorescence
in revery they saw his eyes wander over
all the gay marvels of this serially lighted steady war

by the electric athletics which fell from experiences
of life in a perceived manner without the body

in calfskin it's notated that certified and contemptible
a whirlwind like lenin left masks fluttering truisms
more direct in neuroses his cotangent like blackbirds
the committeemen mutter leitmotifs on bellatrix

yet presumptuous may depend on the gypsy
or mere christopher not mccabe his detractor

invade only when circled in boy meat
scream hershey to adage the special or specular
a confinement in epicyclic by way of toy certificate
some bema may ahoy in your city root petal

as large as his backstop what floor in that rank luge
as cerebral an inkling that ironist stank: foulmouth

that aisle what adulterous what stall or codify
what deplete when cameroun what coax as dispute
not wispy what fate the electro some portage
out camming a bifurcate or leaking baseboard cartels

as paranoid as angelina as yacht though yet confiscatory
youth turns her crankshaft that's bronx when it's covered

to tower with moustache over ephemeral bureaucracy
a first in toxicology may browse but excruciate
not sunburn nor efficacious that guinea individual
alderman so barmy it's meg so brant it's granary

oh lo we're farther on tearful yet what collision without icicles
or agave as slender a spencer whose conjugal certainty

or sender when tugging as palladium terminate not morphology
may seaboard may plumbago what annal june persistent
a clarence may continuant but telecommunicate as soluble
and deciduous in rockies or delicious continents yet enviable

some vexation a fatty genie it's chub and would caveat
or blanche in bombast motels and charleston a czech bobby

on sicken but gap junction some dionysian (not tissue)
to graham but famish when haggling what proclamation
it jujubes it libels some cauliflower (oh shiloh) through geoduck
seventy isotopic belgians still dragnet the adolescent

antonio who knew planetaria in nagasaki
when dreaming a capistrano nicole in heine

and now rhododendra of a jansenist like atalanta
as warmish as black feeney the amide old lynch
savor cognitive as frenzy whose accolades save fusiform
drunks on abolition like khrushchev transcriptions

seeking addition or saris please stagger your holography
and beggar their landscape true boone farm accompanist

plays thimble not atavism and beplaster its harrison
not buchenwald not gop not cutlass not angeles
it's amy the afflicted contemptous elephantine granddaughter
whose rambling brambles though conservativist may upswing


  1. Hi John,

    Just wanted to let you know that the site doesn't belong to me anymore. Someone adopted that URL after I took the serial poem "My Angie Dickinson" off the web. The 153 poems I wrote in that series will be published as a book by Zasterle Press this fall. Meantime, a better link for me is:


    Michael Magee

  2. Hi Michael,

    Thanks for the correction! I'm adding the new link now.

  3. I started reading the poem and remembered the sheer pleasure of found-and re-made-language. I had forgotten how thrilling it could be to lose myself.