Solid Quarter

Visit Trembling Pillow Press for poetry books, broadsides, chapbooks, and Solid Quarter Magazine.

Visit New Orleans Poetry Fest for the annual 4 day poetry festival directed by Bill Lavender and Megan Burns.

Megan Burns' Poeticsofbone&city project on Tumblr

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Tell Me I'm A Bad Girl, Dick

Dear Chris:

Let's talk about voyeurism and how it relates to art and how it relates to sex and how it relates to being alive.

The astounding thing about pornography is the amount of repetition and how little variation is needed to stimulate response.

In Episode 2 of I Love Dick, there's a great sex scene right at the beginning that works on several levels to capture a "female" gaze from both within the scene and external to the scene. It's interesting that the word "scene" is often used in S&M play to delineate the borders around fantasy and reality. A scene has parameters, and it has a clear beginning and an ending with characters "acting" out their roles. This fact is crucial. Within the anatomy of the S&M scene, there is at once the person and the role played by the person, a duality from which pleasure is derived on a single body.

Take note: This is art. This is the body. This is the body. This is art.

We as viewers of the scene in I Love Dick interrupt. We have not been made privy to the rules of the scene. We know the players, but we don't know the guidelines. Film creates a heightened sense of the role of the voyeur more so than almost any other medium. Here we are in the bedroom while Chris and Sylvere fuck and while a fantasy Dick watches, and we watch. The artist aware always that the art we make is subject to an audience we will never meet. And so we watch the watcher watching and even here now, as you read this, find yourself the watcher watching me watching Dick watching Chris.... it's an endless gaze.

Not a male gaze.... an endless gaze. For what is sweeter than the thing itself is sometimes knowing the witness is there to absorb your pleasure, to record and take note of your experience. It's why children look to the gaze of the parent. I both experience the world and I experience the world through that which adores me... my experience witnessed. It's the appeal of social media, the root of all religion. The gaze. We are never alone. We are so precious as to elicit the desire of a constant gaze.

There is no couple that does not triangulate. Here the scene is literally made flesh through Chris' desire. It's the woman's fantasy, and yet it still pivots on the standard roles. Dick is bad daddy. Chris is the bad girl. Why does this get repeated so often? Role Play like pornography seems to be suspended in its own repetition, an ouroboros of caught langauge, a script from which we enact and reenact the Freudian theater of childhood abandonment and desire for total union. Dick, with Chris' letter in his hands is actually taking cues from Chris. She is calling the scene and it is as if Sylvere is not there at all.

Classic Cuckold S&M game: 

In 1966, Lenore Kandel wrote a small pamphlet of poems called "The Love Poems." It was seized as pornography and the book declared obscene.

from God/ Love Poem

I love you  / your cock in my hand
         stirs like a bird
in my fingers
as you swell and grow hard in my hand
forcing my fingers open

What is it about a woman's desire that is most monstrous? Most ob/scene?

Etymology of "obscene":

1590s, "offensive to the senses, or to taste and refinement," from Middle French obscène (16c.), from Latin obscenus "offensive," especially to modesty, originally "boding ill, inauspicious," of unknown origin; perhaps from ob "in front of" (see ob-) + caenum "filth." Meaning "offensive to modesty or decency" is attested from 1590s. Legally, in U.S., it hinged on "whether to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, the dominant theme of the material taken as a whole appeals to a prurient interest." [Justice William Brennan, "Roth v. United States," June 24, 1957]; refined in 1973 by "Miller v. California":
The basic guidelines for the trier of fact must be: (a) whether 'the average person, applying contemporary community standards' would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest, (b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law; and (c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

Who is the average person? Who decides if a work lacks literary or artistic value? Can we even allow for the average person to have any parameters for what constitutes artistic value?

Dick tells us when to CUM. His hairy chin is the average chin of an average man demanding a woman's pleasure be performed for him, and we are watching to see if language has that power. What can a word make you do? 

 From To Fuck with Love Phase 1

positions and pleasures of need my body
transforms into one enormous mouth
       between my legs
suckfucking oh that lovely cock

 When does pleasure turn to pain? When does desire make us suffer, and why can our bodies sometimes not distinguish the difference?

 From To Fuck with Love  Phase II

my cunt is honeycomb we are covered with come and honey

The best moment in this scene is when Chris throws Sylvere off of her to make herself cum. She takes over the whole scene. She is the sub and the dom/domme, she is the writer and the actor, the bad girl and the daddy, she is the alpha and the omega. That is the core of this scene.

From To Fuck With Love  Phase III

I kiss your shoulder and it reeks of lust
the lust of erotic angels fucking the stars.

There are just four poems in Kandel's obscene pamphlet The Love Book. While I think censorship is horrifying; I must admit to a kind of romantic notion that is fascinated that four poems about a woman extolling fucking and the pleasure it gives her as being seen as a threat to society. What did the average person find offensive then and what does the average person find offensive now? Are we post-obscene? Is violence the only obscenity left to us that we hunger to consume?

"There are no barriers to poetry and prophecy; by their nature they are barrier-breakers, bursts of perception, lines into infinity." L. Kandel, 1967

" eroticize what you''re not, secretly hoping that the other person knows what you're performing and that they're performing too." -C. Kraus, I Love Dick 

Does the artists know the space between making art and living? What is that space called? When does one begin and one end? What is the scene and what are the roles assigned?

I have nothing but questions tonight, Chris. 


Collected Poems of Lenore Kandel by Lenore Kandel, (North Atlantic Books, 2012)
I Love Dick by Chris Kraus, (Semiotext(e), 1998)

Sidenote: I could write a whole other blog post just on the spelling and usage of "cum" vs "come." I prefer cum when talking about sex, so that is what I always use.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

when the form is in place, everything with it can be pure feeling – C Kraus

"Because in the end you are really alone, whatever you do..." M. Abramović 

"When we die it ends. Until then we are all tied up." -L Montano

"I'll never understand why I write what I do as I do"  -K. Acker

did i poet every day/ every waking hour/ i wanted to make something that mattered -M.B. 

Dear Chris: 

We get lost. A year ago. 

July 26, 2016 (at my father's house): "silence holds us like a bridge/ i can 't cross/ so i gather my words where they stay/ unspoken/ think i came to writing/ to survive/ from disappearing

July 29, 2016 (breakfast w/ Dick) "what lies between us/ the space we keep safe/ i tell you everything. anything./ what does it matter if you care not/ who i see or what i do" 

August 5, 2016:  "dear love, this was the day you left me/ we went to the beach/ you flew back to Arizona/ we didn't cry or say good bye/ the world turns on/ insignificant gestures/ what makes a thing desirous/ you hid from me all of our time together/ but we mirror/ i hid too" 

I wrote my lover two letters when he went to rehab: 

in one letter i spoke of rain & our love/ a lifetime/ in the next i was saying good bye b/c i wanted to be the one to say good bye first/ seeing how you were the one leaving

It's true: strangers walk into our lives and they rearrange us. They pull us apart and put us together.

I started Basic Programming thinking I would talk about infatuation and desire and obsession. And by the end of the summer, I started Volume II. And I spent my time in deep meditations. I went to Kali and gave her my name. I burned fires and threw everything in. I counted 108 steps down in the underworld where Inanna showed me how to hang my skin on a hook. I laid in meditative sleep healing each part of my body. I chanted and moved energy and learned the names of each aspect of the subtle body. I wrote spells. I dream walked. I stayed in the space between here and there and I waited for each veil to lift. I went to the bottom of grief. I gave up knowing. I stopped taking the medication. I met the Empress who laughed and in a cottage, a trio of women who knew the way to the crystal city. I spoke with the dead. I watched my mind unfold. I became unplugged and panicked. I asked for help to be pulled back to shore. I went too quickly and then I learned the way to go slowly. I read the cards. I watched as it all fell further and further away. My brother reached out and touched me and when he did the entire universe was there, like lifting up the edge of a rug. I went looking and saw beautiful things. That is how I finished the book. I learned to read my programming.

I guess if you go far enough out-- you realize in the coding, it's all ones and zeros. There is no Dick. But there's also no us.

I forgot for awhile that making art was supposed to be fun. I am trying to find my way back, Chris. 

I have been gone a long time looking for something I hid away to protect in this life. I found her. I like how in interview magazine, you said: "I'm really committed to telling the truth in writing. ... I think that's what writing does. It tells the truth about something." 

Art changes us sometimes more than other people. Other people can be the door though, can't they? We walk through and nothing is ever again as we knew it.

And here we are now. in the menstrual hut. a trio of women, with the keys to the crystal city.






Monday, July 24, 2017

"....orbiting around the Big Dicks..."

Dear Chris:

You said: as if sex can provide the missing clues….
I’ve been meditating for a long time now and the more stable I become I wonder if it is ruining my art. I mean, how does hysteria help us.. get there… how to embody that Kali energy… is there another side to come out on.

I stopped having sex a few months ago because I got tired of fucking strangers… and by tired, I don’t mean really tired, because I loved it. I never got bored fucking strangers, but it’s like eating chocolate cake with every meal. You don’t start hating chocolate-- it’s just you reach a point where you want something else for dessert.  And what’s the alternative to meaningless sex. Is it love?

Is it nothing. I thought maybe I’ll save all of that energy for my art. But my horoscope last week read that this was a bad idea. It literally said not having sex is bad for me … I’m an Aquarius with a rising Sagittarius and the tarot card reading I did last week-- to see if I would ever reunite with my ex-love-- came up 3 of swords, popping out of the deck before I even did the spread. How can you argue with that? So I stopped talking to him at all.

I don’t think you should ignore signs. It’s all signs isn’t it Chris? Like now it’s just you and me here.

Two girls. Two Women. Two Bodies with Holes. Two Body Suits talking about art.

I’m gonna try to not think about fucking you just yet. Because I want to take it slow.
I think about fucking almost everyone I meet. Is that normal? Is it because sex provides a clue (..... LOL to the fucking bank, Barthes...) ...we need to know how the other sees us? Do I even exist if no one wants to fuck me?

Let’s talk about hysteria and its aesthetic. Is it even necessary to say female here?

I saw a review online that described I Love Dick as vomiting on the page.
Proust isn’t vomiting on the page. DH Lawrence isn’t vomiting on the page. Fucking Milton is not a vomitorium of morality. Faulkner is certainly not vomiting and jerking off at the same time. Hemingway is never diarrhea. They are all the opposite of expulsion from the body. They are the insertion into the body. Only hysterics vomit it out, take it out of the body and put it on view.

The monster under the bed is only scary because we know
a) that the monster exists
b) we know the monster is in the room with us
c) currently we cannot see the monster, but at any moment it may come into view

Free from the Salpêtrière: where are the hysterics contained?

I read another review of I Love Dick where the reviewer seemed offended that at some point the author was performing “art” and not life. That at some point, Chris, you became self aware of your hysterics and decided to make it art. Decided to create something bigger than your self. Decided…. to shed the helplessness of female passivity and step into your person suit of autonomy shoving aside your role to be an emotional caretaker to those men whose lives you circled… you… you….. monster….You made something with your name on it. You are practically a real girl now.

“…anything that is repeated so emphatically must always be suspected of being a kind of denial or refusal of awareness…” – Luce Irigaray

When I wrote Basic Programming  I spent a year fucking strangers to learn about how attachment works inside me so I could write poetry. I used these men’s bodies to write poems because I’m a genius.

I used these men’s bodies to write poems because I am Genius. Just like you, Chris. Just like Augustine writhing under the gaze of a man thinking he was going to tell us what it means to be hysterical. Going to measure it out. Going to take a picture of it in practice. Going to note the symptoms and the treatments. Going to be left holding my limp "dick" in my hands when that bird called Augustine flies away… monster us all. Wait long enough, and I’ll write you an ending that really matters. Write enough letters to free us all.

That’s why I’m writing to you, Chris. There’s not enough written to counter the tide yet.

“… the less we see and recognize… the more powerful and insidious is the fiction at work…” –Luce Irigaray

So let’s see each other. Let’s see how we are hysteria and not how it is told to us. Can a woman create without a man? Can a woman create art without a man? Come into the menstrual hut with me. Our womb, our hystere…in the menstrual hut: we examine the “logos” outside the spectacle, we erase through repetition, the way a poem sings into existence a type of life forgotten. A poem rivets on the image, images seep into the gateways of our sensory perception and tell us how to structure the world. Hysteria is the counterpoint of control defined by the hegemony: image of what you are allowed to be and how you want to be perceived.

 We have been asleep.

But it’s all in there. It’s all inside there, under the “bed.” It’s 2017 and we are still waiting on a discourse on female anal eroticism… [how can it be, Eve?]

Where is our tree? My spirit animal is a snake. A fucking snake.... I wanted a wolf or a crow, but there we are, sexed in the clues all the way fucking down a rabbit hole of metaphors. I imagine you are soft. I imagine we lay together on the bed and look at plastic stars affixed to the roof of the hut, and the animals come in and we each take turns naming them. 

There's no getting away from the body. There's no getting away from the sex of the body. There's just far enough we can reach with our fingers. There's just far enough we can get inside. The contraction of the uterus when it bleeds, the contraction of the vagina as it cums, the beat of the heart and the poem:  a space waiting to be filled universes inside us... count me in words not yet delineated to square off the medium of what now communicates between... count off till I'm allowed to let go. 

Sex isn't at all like making art, is it? 


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Do we all get a Dick?

Dear Chris:

I have a Dick too. His name is even four letters long and starts with a D.

I met him on Fetlife and we slept together a few time, went on a few dates and then he decided we should just be friends. I was infatuated already though, thought I was in love with him. I started writing this book about infatuation. I left poems on his porch. We stayed friends. It turns out he hates women. We have these long tedious debates about feminism. He often says… “all women…” and when I point out that I don’t do that and I am a woman, he’ll say, “you’re an exception.” So maybe, I am not a woman because I don’t perform all of the acts that women perform that allow him to both hate them but also sexualize them in a way that he can’t with me because I act like what, … a man?

Of course, I would fall in love with a man who hates women. I’ve been programmed my whole life to save that broken bird.

I kept writing my book and thinking about attachments and obsession and strangers. I met my Dick by trying to be less attached to the man I was having an affair with, and I fell in love with my Dick while the man I was living with moved out and left me. And I thought now I just have to write this book and understand the way I attach to people and by people, I mean men. So, I started fucking a lot of strangers and watching how, in some cases, I felt no attachment after the fact and in some, I felt an enormous misplaced attachment. I realized my Dick was the perfect muse. I was writing this book to him, to seduce him, which is to say, to seduce myself; art being first and foremost a facet of narcissism: To solidify what I feel in language as poetry has done for centuries/repetition a  masturbatory act, love only really occurring in the confines of the idea. Lacan is right (write?)  when he says sex is always narcissistic.  It’s a thin line between the desire to please for your own pleasure and that moment when it is crossed, and you believe someone is taking advantage of you for their own pleasure; it means they are receiving more pleasure than you and that’s not what you signed up for, doesn’t it? The narcissism of using an "other" body in which to enact our desires, our pleasures up to the point where we perceive the reciprocity is off, then the balance of two narcissistic acts becomes unstable. I’m not talking about abuse, but the more subtle moment. You know, the moment when you keep blowing a guy because it takes him forever to get there, and sometimes you love that and sometimes you just want to throat punch him. Or the moment you know that it’s taking you a long time but you just don’t care because patriarchy….  or insert whatever gender roles you want in the examples and as many bodies as you want, because the metaphor remains consistent. Even exclusive of orgasmic conclusion, any physical or even media based sexual act is the desire to be seen and to be wanted by the other -outside of a sexual economy-   the desire to fulfill our desires enacted on a body not our own, conceptualized in a body not our own, various in a body not as familiar as our own. 

It’s selfish, even when we sugar coat it with the Disney premise of romantic love, even when we believe all we want is to please our partners, deep down we know the line is there, we know the minute it’s been crossed and because the line exists, ultimately, we have created a boundary around what sex is for, what is our end goal.

Sex in all of its permutations remains of the body and of pleasure when not abusive—which is not sex, but violence manifesting against our bodies in a sexualized way—and therefore subject to the illusion of our senses, the distortion by which we can write many kinds of fictions all over it. And we grow tired of all our desires… which is why we created romantic love as Lacan also points out. Desire only takes us so far…. but it’s everything in the writing. It’s a fire, isn’t it… unrequited desire. What I wouldn’t say to make you want me?

I am the I of the body and the I of the mind and the I of the Story; the story of I.

Chris, I have this fantasy. I have this fantasy on one end where the muse is replaced by the Dick. That we all get our Dicks and write like our minds are on fire. We put Dick in the role of the muse: passive, ethereal, angelic phallus in the house. And the other end that I tread even closer towards is the menstrual hut. I want to get back into the bleeding of it. I want to know a world written only from the vacuum of what occurs in the menstrual hut. I want discourse only of what is in the menstrual hut. I want art only made in the menstrual hut. I want language only created in the menstrual hut. I want to know what that world looks like… I want to have never known that there was a Dick we were measuring up against. Can we imagine that kind of universe… my book became about programming. How we are all programmed in our responses, in our attachments, in every thing we know about love. And if that is true, then we can break our coding/ we can hack into our own known variables and we can code anew… I think we can get back into the menstrual hut. I think we can learn to create out of the menstrual hut effectively erasing the fictions of history that program how we use our senses to make art.
I think our lives depend on it. I think it's something we remember, can remember, it's located in our DNA. This world inside our consciousness that erases any DICK that comes before the womb. It's our hysterical future.

More soon,


Saturday, July 22, 2017

Who Doesn't Love Dick

Dear Chris:
 what happens when we begin to think about consciousness…
 the way art is made. what is desire. the name for our product. our vehicle. the design for our liking.
 I’ve been reading women artists for decades… what does that make me. I’ve sat under the influence of women writers for decades….
 what kind of monster box are we in.  (there's nothing to see here)
 still in the boomerang of deflection, even as we speak to each other, we are still speaking against others… but now, let’s chat. Just you and me, Chris, about what it means to use words. and images. to say anything.

Season 1 Episode 1:


Nine percent of films directed by women means 91 percent directed by men.

This is my office

in the beginning, there was the womb.

the closet off of the bedroom, the womb space… it’s tight, cramped, cramping

we see it.

the phallus in the guise of a peeled banana in the reflection while the two women talk in the doorway of Chris’ office… the phallus ever present...  we, always trapped in its reflection.

Hidden Mickeys in a Disney Film.

Enter Hysteria:

At 3 minutes and 52 seconds in,  we get the first hysterical episode. The monster is so loud she alerts the neighbors, she evades reason, she throws her body about, arms flailing, she messes up her hair. The scene cut into stills to capture the female body in its messiness, its natural habitat.

-as horrified you see yourself invented-

Look at her. She de-monstrates.

Introducing Toby: beautiful ingénue

(with underarm hair)  Toby exposes her underarm hair while undercutting Sylvere’s technique of impressing women with his travels. She tops him. He can’t help but wince when he sees a soft tuft of reddish hair beneath her arm, a hairy pussy laughing at him… too much beauty provokes anxiety, or the bewildering moment when Freud states: a surprise to learn from analysis that girls hold their mother responsible for their lack of a penis….

We sweat out all the wilderness left in us 

Toby is everything Chris is not. We are asked to compare. We are asked to contrast. We are always asked to hold one woman against another, aren’t we?

What spectacle licks our faces in theater dark?

Penis-Envy as Aesthetic

"The pleasure gained from touching, caressing, parting the lips and vulva simply does not exist for Freud." 

In this scene, Dick will play the role of Dr. Charcot and Chris will play the role of Augustine in the great hospital of mad women: Salpêtrière.

Dr Charcot: Augustine, you don’t want to be well. If you wanted to be well, you would be. It’s just a question of desire. A question of want and you don’t have it.

Augustine: (redacted)

“The gaze has always been involved.

Now the little girl, the woman, supposedly has nothing you can see. She exposes, exhibits the possibility of a nothing to see. Or at any rate she shows nothing that is penis-shaped or could substitute for a penis.” 

Dr. Charcot leans over to Freud (here played by Sylvere) Is she any good?

Sally Potter, Jane Campion, Chantal Akerman

Is she any good? Is she any good? Is she any good?

Woman on film bends over, the lead positions himself behind her. This is how it works, he tells her. I want you and so I know you want me, even if you do not know it.

Sally Potter on why she doesn’t call Orlando a feminist film: "I have come to the conclusion that I can't use that term in my work. Not because of a disavowal of the underlying principles that gave birth to that word – the commitment to liberation, dignity, equality. But it has become a trigger word that stops people's thinking. You literally see people's eyes glaze over with exhaustion when the word flashes into the conversation." Frilot, Shari (Summer 1993). "Sally Potter". BOMB (44): 30–35.

I made a movie about my life. The opening shot a polluted river, the closing shot my daughter’s eye

“Campion was a month away from having won the Palme d'Or. She was two weeks away from giving birth to her first child, a son whose presence was already inescapable in the Sydney apartment she shares with her husband, Colin Englert, a television producer and director. The baby's crib was set up in Englert's small office, and Campion lifted her billowy white shirt once to stare at her swollen belly. "Is he kicking?" her visitor asked. "Mmmmm," she answered, lost for a moment in that curious bubble that encloses the pregnant.” Mary Cantwell (Sept. 1993)
 “Jane Campion’s Lunatic Women” New York Times

Jasper, Jane’s son, lived 10 days with medical support, and then she brought him home to die.

That the quiet in a house swims as film in its emulsion, image rising

“I won’t say  I’m a feminist film-maker…I’m not making women’s films. I’m making Chantal Akerman’s films” (London, 1979) –C. Akerman

Within the doctrine of unclean hands, her shame is made clear as a metallic ringing in the ear.

“Here again the little girl will have to act like the little boy, feel the same urge to see, look in the same way, and her resentment at not having a penis must follow and corroborate the horrified astonishment the little boy feels when faced with the strangeness of the nonidentical, the nonidentifiable.”

  Dick swallowed by womb

"in other words, is it possible that the phobia aroused in man, and notably in Freud, by the uncanny strangeness of the "nothing to be seen" cannot tolerate her not having this 'envy'?" 

There's nothing to see here.

…and what else is a line of verse but a casting and recasting of the inside of the body?


Let us not neglect the fact that the historical analysis of women's sexuality hinges on the gaze of the man and the hysteric's desire to please the man at any cost, to be seen; for why come to analysis at all if one cannot the seduce the viewer into seeing what they most desire to see. 

SUBJECT TO DESIRE : "A problem to be solved by putting the Phallus at the beginning, and at the end."


dear: Chris Kraus, author of I Love Dick
images: I Love Dick (Jill Soloway and Sarah Gubbins) Amazon Video
italics: Rag by Julie Carr (Omnidawn, 2014)
highlighted text: "The Blind Spot of an Old Dream of Symmetry" Speculum of the Other Woman by Luce Irigaray (trans. by Gillian Gill) Cornell Univ, 1985 (orig pub 1974)