Poem: Probelem

This poem is a free-write. It is concerned with something I think we have all felt, which is an involuntary(?) memory that comes and we wish it hadn't. Memories that remind us of something, some aspect of ourselves and our lives of which we are not proud. Such memories are striking. They remind us of our attempts to create a narrative for our lives. They remind us that these narratives are much larger than what we would imagine or wish. They are painful but somehow beautiful. Beautiful with the ring of truth. Geez, this is a real earnest one.


the tone wasn’t funny last time either

penetrating, quickly forgotten:

the failure.


of shame that stops sleep

stops memory

roaming in the wilds

a course we can’t fathom

groping to touch

the forbidden

hiding in the dirt

pushing the pin

to poke out the eye

the whole month was a failure

the mountain wouldn’t grow

the room wouldn’t walk

the milk soured each time it was poured

and there were whole forgotten novels

of intentions and perceptions

aborted with the rain

nearing catastrophe

beyond making the scene

some airplane keeps circling

water stops draining

animal without form

pacing the bed of reason

a beautiful photograph of shame

the last stand of earnest feeling

don’t you understand?

Kid, nobody asked

Mountains Poem

I have lived in Pennsylvania a long time. As such, the landscape of this place has worked itself into my brain. This is a landscape of contrasts, the beauty of mountains and the wreck of post-industrialism. For example, the gap in the Blue Mountains through the town of Palmerton is flanked on both sides by mountains denuded from the pollution of the town's zinc company. Another of the places in America where rivers have burned. All through the region you can see it, winding roads, worn down dirty old company towns, the most extreme of which is Centralia, a town destroyed by underground mine fires. A town the state is paying to have steamrolled.

Most people do not think much about areas like this. However, the coal country of Pennsylvania is very interesting. For much of its existence the area was basically an interior-colony. Controlled by companies down to the layout of houses. An area where capitalism dropped like a bomb. Where the future is dictated by forgotten events of the past. To grow up in an area like this is to learn early the arts of alienation. I sing now for all my brothers and sisters, the strangers, the strange, who have learned how to carve out an innerspace of beauty in the midst of this depression. This poem is a fantasy of the future we know in our sleep, a future now beginning to creep into view from the border zone.


hulk of the bare slope.
a mountain is a ridge,
strung out in its chain
a context
the apocalypse,
that old thing.

concrete sarcophagi lie twisted and broken
their purpose packed up as freight and taken away.

For the trains when they must come
a triple red zone danger run.
they pile the speed on,
to plow through bulwarks of timber and junk
erected by
the fucked
wearing their trash bags
throw bottles
and scream,
futile wisps
that fade with the track.

a movie crew drops in to film the nothing,
shots of smoke rising at dawn and the evening
deer skeleton in a stream,
a cracked road painted with 4-wheeler rubber
and graffiti,
"welcome to hell" "gun town justice"
celebration on the day at the slag
heap when wild dogs
wander into
the frame:
they chew through old cans,
fighting over scraps
the big dog stands apart watching,
starts a ragged breathing
blowing mist,
the best boy panics
his squeals attract the pack

abandoning their gear
the crew scatters as the haze blooms
the yowling and barking roars and breaks
around all sides of them.

Those as remain, join with the fucked,
melting like wax,
up the foot-hills
of the new world.

Poem 11

Hello! Hello...

This post marks a special moment for Butchered Switch. It is the first time a poem has been posted that was written entirely from a need to have something to post on Butchered Switch.blogspot.com. Is that our formal name? Anyway, this is a free write that was half written before and half written spontaneously and immediately, right after the typing of this note, in fact. We are moving in a strange real time.

Can you guess where the one section ends and the other begins?

FREE WRITE FEB. 15th 2 0 1 0


Possessed, possessive, exasperated, clenched

These are the qualities of a Grouch. And they show

shining unpleasantness
in the land of the king

From here to the sea, in no portion herein
will there be allowed
to be dens of wickedness, iniquity, oblution
to practices of atrocity.

Practices of atrocity
generate the holy-unholy (double function) madness:
a mound of mixed w/

(some or another conjectural;)

all equally unlikely, phony, artificial
gropes. Sour
grapes, kid. You must be a real bumkin talking to me like that. I'm a known killer, a blood spiller. Take you to task. But I like you. You're not drunk? You have to.


Slowing down the throb of this impossible drum
to realize it is my own heart

going into a world where noone is known to me
and I fail even, to have a thing to say,

then I see
look back on all those times of frantic babble,

as in a new light (as if cursed)

this is the spontaneous fear by which i ruin my own ghost departure,
Trying to catch hold.

If the ghost does turn
the implacability
its continence need maintain
may waver

in the face of
the atrocities
these beast men love
to play act

(i gave my boy a cookie i had baked him
i did this thing i did
you too we all do)

I guess I needn't talk about it

Bible stories/Poem

The bible is a highly contentious object, around which swirls the highly contentious object of Christianity and religion in general. Without getting into its merits as a fictional or factual document and the place of religion as a force for good or evil in the world, I will say some things about aspects of the bible as I notice them as I read it.

The first, and perhaps most striking thing is the strangely staggered pace of telling that occurs. Time is staggered, especially in the telling of Moses and the flight of the Israelites out of Egypt. The story progresses into the ten plagues and Moses relationship with god then retreats back in time to trace Moses and his brother Aaron's lineage in the tribe of the Levites as they branched out in Egypt.

Accompanying this diachronic mode of telling is a structure of repetition. Rules, decrees, prophesies, even songs occur as passages, then occur again a few pages later. This is evident in the end of Exodus and Leviticus, which are concerned with God's decrees for how the different offerings are to be made, and how people are to compose their lives.

Inside of all this is the fact that everything passes pretty quickly. For all their cultural/mythological significance, which makes them seem so big in a way, many of the famous stories in the bible happen fast, for example the story of samson and delilah is only a page long.

All of this makes for a situation in which reading the bible can be, a.) confusing and b.) boring. Personally, I like reading the bible because it establishes a really incredible tone and rhythm, only it takes work to get onto it. Further, no matter what one thinks of it there is really no denying that much of the subject matter illuminates many basic aspects of being a human and wrestling with this brain that we have and the sense of our place and purpose in the world. Even the non-religious think about these things, so it is really interesting that stories about these issues are delineated in a super old book.

So, in the interest of pulling out some of these more immediately interesting things, I think it is a good strategy to isolate individual stories, letting them function more as standalone fables. This is what I have done with the story of Jacob, who wrestled with god. The poem which follows is meant to capitalize on the conversational tone of the parable and is vaguely meant to function as its counterpoint.


The present passed on before him, and Jacob was left alone.
A man walked out of the dark and came upon Jacob
and began to wrestle him. Seeing he did not prevail,
the man touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh,
putting it out of joint as he wrested with him.

Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.”
But Jacob said, “Not unless you bless me.”
And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said,
“Jacob,” he said, “no longer shall Jacob be your name,
but striving in the face of god, or god strives, Is real.
For you have striven with god and men and prevailed.”
Jacob asked, “What is your name?”
But he said, “Why is it you ask?” And there he blessed him.

And Jacob cried, calling the place Peni’uel, that is, the face,
saying “For I have seen god face to face yet my life has been preserved.”

And he passed Penu’el limping.

-Genesis 32, 21-32


“A goose in the desert, more precious than diamonds.”


She whipped me with a strap.
Birds chirp in the snow: A-theism, A-theism!

Devils, devils everywhere, hiding in corners, hiding in the dust bin!


cannot be sought, though it is.


The being created not preserved, You only write
when you’re stoned. Flat on your nose.
Not knowing where you are
in some motel lodge or your parent’s house.
Leprous white, falling out of a chair, drunk.


Death gathered him to his people and his people to quarreling.


Wonderment contrasts frustration
as opposing forces emanating
from the environs into the brain
and/or vice versa.

in the skull.

…F and B lose all sense of their differentiation.

…as individual’s focus broke is lost,
there remains only the focus unknown,

the phantasmagoria of dreams and death
to say the least

the private inner world,
then finally no relevance
to these process.

mechanic writing

This post's poem was created in the same mechanical/procedural manner as the poem INCIDENT. Which means, it was created by scrambling and scrambling a long free-write to see what conjunctions and coincidences were created. Then that was edited down into the form you see. Along the way text was added. I like this method because it is partly chance partly intention. In doing this, there was not a clear picture of what the poem was about per se. I was guided by a vague idea of a process, an undoing which was also an emergence...


Masturbate or forever,
not beginning.
Punishment everyone holds
must be respected.
Not a beginning,
Forget the difference.
The past emerges,
flowing up hill.
Never stops,
shoots into space:
No more monolith.
Take this judgment and be
Free again
and free means:


I really respect the poetry of J.L.Borges. Among other things, I like the way in which his poems achieve a directness, and a clarity that often seems like simplicity. Also, he makes the subject matter of his poems very clear before hand, often through a descriptive title. I like this because it clears the stage for the reader, i.e. the reader does not have to guess what the poem is about, rather they know and can proceed to soak in the subtleties and impressions which made J.L.B. writer about them in the first place.

As a thought, his poems seem very conventional on the page, but it is said that he composed them first through memorization after losing his sight. So, what would be the representation of a poem in a blind man's mind, given that this former director of a library did know how poems were often represented? My guess would be a gradually increasing freedom and musical formlessness. Colors in blackness.

This poem is attempting to achieve directness, to whatever degree of success.


Speaking means


to cross

that ocean.

Fluorescent hum.

The floating tubes. White

walls and linen. Turned

to the right or left or.

Time only the hands

bringing the tube.

It doesn’t matter.

Stillness draws itself up.

The overlap begins.

Dawn breaks

and the beauty thereof.

And the rain accrues.

The river spills.

Only a dream.

The infinite, holy


holds me.

Poem-The Visitation

I am a real fan of the horror form and this poem is my attempt to pay it homage.



To the child, a horror dream.

Voices, litany.



they carry away


little boxes, doors,

low. The boxes move

themselves, rearranging and


Making a corridor.

A door swoops down the end of.

Bangs open and shut.

With a scream.

The child writhes in bed.

Mother, framed in the door, brandishing a bible, screaming at

the demon crouched over the boy’s body.

The wraith’s eyes dilate with hate.

Inducing hallucinations.

Entranced, the mother

stands babbling spit.

Wraith turns to the boy and dives back in