If I got one poem published in San Francisco, they wouldnt like it. It wouldnt fit in the shape it’s supposed to, according to them. Probably according to just about anybody. Somehow the shoe never really fits the foot, the collar the neck, but the sock almost always fits the foot. And I’m more a foot poet and most socks fit me but they confuse the shoe with the sock which is an odd thing to do but very prevalent considering we’re in the one-size-fits-all era. So I’m very close to what I fit and I fit it well and a lot, almost anything well. Unbeknownst to them. Oh well, you can’t win anything by trying if you must write what comes natural. You have to pretend you know what you’re doing and shape it according to more popular ways.
And there are popular ways, waves in poetry. You sniff the mood and know it spells danger. It tells you to mix metaphors and you never mixed metaphors before you sniffed the mood. Or vice versa — you did it all the time and they don’t. And it’s the power centers that smell most of danger. Where a club threatens to exist. Iowa or N.Y. or San Francisco. Or just the odor is rank and doesn’t suit you. Like I like the FM radio and Lenore likes the television. And we clash constantly without either one changing. I think if that can happen in a happy home clashes should occur even more virulently in the art-shoulder world. Where you rub shoulder to shoulder with artists/poets. Art works should clash not concur. I’m spreading out into art when I should stick to poetry. Poems by different poets should clash not concur. And often in the same poet, clashes.
Above I mentioned happy home. I meant a home that continues on in a viable relationship — I should have said durable home. Just as in God there are no revisions and God is each poet. Each person who wishes to break God the Father down into the only viable pieces – pagan voices. Or simply voices that urge your doing. Back to Art: things you see that command. Or is that photography. What is sculpture? Snakes coupling. Nobody knows. Least of all the hierarchy of critics who continually protect their jobs by writing formulas over the carcases of artists/poets. Criticism is formula writing on dead or living carcases of artists. Educated blowflies, maggots, carrion flies. Feed on poets, particularly dead ones, to make their money. Suck away living ones’ potential jobs by winning out on degrees and supporting the vicious circle tradition. The gold-plated circle ain’t so vicious after all. They win, we die.
If the shoe fits, it’s not good enough. Don’t worry about the sock. But I’ll bet you it will fit your foot. False hope. My poetry is old-fashioned. It is either small, medium, or large, depending on your attitude toward it. But the funny thing about it is it’s large in concept but fits a small foot. 8 ½, to be exact. I hesitate to admit it, but it’s true.
larry goodell / placitas, new mexico / 16Feb1985
I wrote this during the height of the “Language Poetry” phase of American poetry, when some friends’ writing diverged according to their affinities & practice of “LP” . . .
A much earlier piece I wrote for Stephen Rodefer, 1977 . . .
THE LANDSCAPE OF POETRY
/for Steve Rodefer
Golden shadow of the other hand
leader but not leader, lost but not lost
who advised me to get lost in my long lines
I try not to come up from the base of poetry that lies below like the landscape
active in particles of voice.
Scorpio leader, lost & gained
give us hope to establish air between us
that claps & breaks
& washes our impurities down below
where the shadow of your hand passes over.
Larry Goodell / 23Jul77 / Placitas, New Mexico