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Selected Poems 1960-2010

Richard Tagett

Demodulating Angel selected poems 1960-2010 

Richard Tagett 

Ithuriel’’s Spear San Francisco

To the best of my knowledge these poems are presented in the order in which they were conceived, received, or in a few cases published. Some were self-published in various folios, flyers, broadsides, and books under the Diogenes San Francisco imprint; and some first appeared in one form or another in the following publications. Mirage v. 4, no. 8 (2000) for ““Aesthetic Judgment””; Vector v. 4, no. 7 (1968) for ““As It Were and Yet Unborn”” and ““Poem””; Ur Vox no. 4 (2006) for ““Coeur du noir””; Chelsea no. 32 (1973) for ““d’’être”” and ““Without Necessity””; Empty Elevator Shaft no. 1 (1974) for ““Dear Alfred Charles Kinsey””; Ribot no. 6 (1998) for ““Karichimaka””; Ur Vox no. 2 (2002) for ““Lakeshore Geology””; The Sonoma County Stump v. 7, no. 14 (1978) for ““Numbers””; The Male Muse (The Crossing Press, 1973) for ““Ragazzo””; Manroot no. 4 (1971) for ““Pluralities””; Angle, no. 1 (1997) for ““Scherzo for Jack”” (from ““5 Scherzi””); Yen Agat (Bangkok, Thailand, 2004) for ““Triptych for Believers””; Sebastian Quill no. 2 (1971) for ““White Angels.”” Thanks to my teachers: Arnold Weinstein, Jack Spicer, Jack Gilbert, and Robert Duncan.

Copyright © 2011 by Richard Tagett Cover and book design by Plainfeather Printworks Front cover painting by José Laffitte, courtesy of the Estate of José Laffitte Photo following page 143: the author sometime in the 1950s Back cover photo of the author by William Cloud, 2010 Authors’’s blog: ISBN 978-0-9793390-8-0 Library of Congress Control Number: 2010943196 Ithuriel’’s Spear is a fiscally sponsored project of Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco

THE MUSIC ALL OVER AGAIN for Patrick Those rarifying skies blow And you ain’’t no kid anymore. With the creaking weight of your insect breath Clouds well at the window And you lose yourself among alien children You resemble. Too old to suffer civilities You embrace them. To think that you could talk through them. To think that you were a pronoun We could exchange between us in a mirror. It’’s only outrageous in the details Nobody wants to listen to. The music all over again That wasn’’t there to begin with.


OPEN SPACE for Brian You quiver too much alive to apprehend the sun going down behind the mountains, the existential signs in every valley, evening’’s decision, billions of little deaths bringing their shadows hungrier for life, for you full of cool, with tiny ferns growing from your limbs, six-foot, long step, drunken boat. I shiver too easily a delicate breeze I know is hers, Earth, her last face behind the dark r-trees in the undermists, your bottomclouds, my hill prince, where owers grope ale in the twilight. Side by side we are face to face with nothing but she breathing her hedonism, and all desire turns to dreaming sweet sensuous ecstasy of living. I stand here and wait leaning against Hotel Imminence, holstered hearts, boulders, ships of friends, res, achings, Indian hungers singing hims on pathways of soft grasses, hot purple elds, 57

solid rock dissolved in clear water color of music opening gates to naked commingling ups & downs intoxicated world.


DREAM SPOT On a warm spring night in the geography of desire where a bar called Shouts is the pin of all memory marking . . . no, shouting how good it was: the y in its own mask with its own meaning, its own winged shouts alighting this incredibly smooth territory, insatiably licking the musk, the owing. How good it was. For even in that place we dream up—— cherry, insect, ball, bell, a Samuel Adams—— all melts into memory. So too how good it’’s not a kingdom but its own music, its own incestuous meaning unmasked for what it is: a quarter note of lust in soprano voices.


LAST MINUTES Take the words for what they are. We don’’t know whence they came. Or why. This dark struggle at roots where ants devour landscapes of columns of intellect. The reader is divided in 2. Out of reach. Beware the object born blowing in the wind over your head. The microphone is dead. But words return, reiterate like sick cows, their swarming ies sucking off a yawn. The party’’s breaking up——forever tomorrow. Forever—— as in the nal minutes—— it ain’’t the jackknife of discovery but the touch of your hand. Fuck the words.


KARICHIMAKA Crooked desert cock tool shed, wolf’’s den, strange beds, metamucil nightmares, old man faking it pretty damn well, gonna meet the oracle, pretty strong will. Feels good beige blue sun, small roar of cars behind me, too early to meet the man, always too early for esh & stuff, too late for essences, little boys, burns, brandishings——too many Bs. Not enough keeps the engine running.


It’s easy to overlook consistently even a poet of great talent, but I,

who have known Tagett for some time, didn’t realize how consistently great he is till I read his manuscript. Now I write this apologia through a red mist of shame aerated only by sheer delight. Fifty years at work in the field, he has been changing with the times, alert to the tiniest of human feelings as well as to the larger currents of shared social struggle. Like Jack Spicer, with whom he worked closely and on whom he coedited a volume of lasting value, Tagett knows when and how to lure the right words to his page, and how to insure they stick close to his branches. We have here a kind of Rorschach, a mirror in which reading will tell you as much about yourself as it will about the master Rich Tagett. I know of no other American poet whose very pages are as well filled out. What an accomplishment! — Kevin Killian

These seminal to septuagenarian poems walk cantankerous magnetic dogs along edges defined by the basic principle

of oink. From youthful confusions to later hesitant embraces of the failure of language, all the while Eros in yogic contortion sits an onanist’s distance from its obscure object of desire. These are not cocoon tunes, but a narrative of the fox in the box who eats our rules and may offend by doing so. These angular angels wiggle like rectangles after having their feathers read. They pant likes ants under a reign of fog drowning in telephonic hum, but please do not tell anyone. You have to suffer, you have to fill up in order to implode, so fill up on these drowning peonies, nameless one. — Brian Lucas

In the book of changes, the first hexagram is Ch’ien—the creative. The 19th hexagram is Lin—the approach. This is work of the creative approach, the Indric web of desire, the primal procreative power of heaven burned down to the roots, coming “back, always back to the approach.” — Patrick Monnin

Demodulating Angel can be ordered online from Small Press Distribution in Berkeley:

Ithuriel’s Spear

San Francisco, California

Rich Tagett's New Book  

A preview of Rich Tagett's new poetry book: Demodulating Angel

Rich Tagett's New Book  

A preview of Rich Tagett's new poetry book: Demodulating Angel