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Tuesday, 20 October 2009

"Who needs Apollo..." (with Ted Berrigan)


File:Apollo 15 Rover, Irwin.jpg

Money is boring
Who needs ideas

Who needs hot tears
Which drown ordinary joy

Who needs Apollo 15
Not me

File:40 A15Sta8.jpg

I need the moon
To remain free

I want to go on
And to be on

A silver dollar
Still alive

File:Peace dollar.jpg

I want to be on
My human feet

Spending my days
Like sunlight, opening

The people
And talking to them

File:Apollo 15 Space Suit David Scott.jpg

Poem: TC with Ted Berrigan, August 1, 1971

Jim Irwin and the Apollo 15 LRV, before the Mons Hadley rille, Palus Putredinus (Marsh of Decay), Mare Imbrium, 31 July, 1971: photo by NASA

Apollo 15 landing site, panoramic view: photo by James Irwin, 1971 (NASA)

US Peace dollar, 1921

Apollo 15 space suit of astronaut David Scott, Smithsonian Museum, Washington, D.C.: photo by Jawed Karim, 2004


gamefaced said...

opening the people..

Phanero Noemikon said...

Well hell, stay home, I'll go be a damn astro-farmer, just cuz it'd be weird!

TC said...


Now it can be told: that curious proposal was volunteered by my collaborator.


Just east of the photo-site on the Marsh of Decay there is the memorial of the eight Fallen Astronauts, if they were actually in there it might make a good plantation spot.

Phanero Noemikon said...

Ohhh, do tel!

Hey Tom, my Grampa, Arnie Jewel Smallwood of Hobart / Lone Wolf Oklahoma got on National news in the 1970's for being a pioneer of small private sunflower farming. It was pretty cool wandering through his fields or sunflower forests to me.

on the mystic front:

i just wrote a poem using the term

now glial cells are also called


an perform a kind of weird set of shadow functions, mostly logistical, and are a separate submerged brain within
the neuronal brain.

Einstein's glial density was enhanced I've read.

We're not breeding for glial density, so space will be that much more difficult to think in
once out there.

It's a nutrient bandwidth issue,
like a bus issue.

I'm working on this with my colleagues at the Planck institoot.


TC said...

Prof. Lanny,

Every reputable Institoot needs to keep up its musical level with a good Glial Club.

Phanero Noemikon said...



xileinparadise said...

Ah, the lost art of collaboration. That poem has me looking for that series of little books pub'd around that time, from Boston, I believe, included Aram, Gerard Malanga, Ted, Ron, and yourself. They must be in storage with the rest of my NY School memorablilia. Back then a poem like that was a flare that lit up the dark night of poetry. Still has plenty of sparkle.

TC said...

Thanks, Pat. Ah, how bright and shiny the toy world of limitless American ingenuity and accomplishment once seemed!

Nowadays though the space suit looks a bit rumpled and ungainly, perhaps it's the wear and tear of all that new frontiering...

Anonymous said...

Oh I am liking such, muchly.
'I need the moon
To remain free' ditto and that last stanza beautiful, you. No I do not lie. I am loving 'opening the people and talking to them' Absolutely loving that.

Rachel said...

Wonderful poem. Collaborating, when done well, does open up all participants to create something bigger than the parts. I love it!

Anonymous said...

The moon is much more romantic when we think of it as untouched by man, unspoiled, unreachable...

TC said...

Lucy, I agree about the moon. Humans have ruined enough of the earth with their silly toys and games. I'm happy the moon is currently being left alone.

Yes, SarahA, "opening/The people/And talking to them" ... isn't that what we poets are always working on?

Rachel, what I miss most about the great age of collaborations is the simple physical fun of being in the same room with somebody, one chair, one typewriter, you do your line or two and vacate the spot, then your collaborator has a turn... and the chair is always pre-warmed.

(I know there is such a thing as e-mail collaboration these days, but it's not quite the same -- two separate computers, no pre-warmed seats...)

Elmo St. Rose said...

paraphrasing Pres. John Kennedy:

"we'll go to the moon and do the
other things too....not because it
is easy but because it is hard"

TC said...


I have a feeling that at present there are things to do on this planet that are of greater importance and will prove even harder.

Elmo St. Rose said...

Yes, of course, but I did pick
an Irish President with a flare for
the bright're not gonna tell me you didn't like him...for
suggesting and pursing the possibilities of the world.

TC said...


Well you've caught me there, he was greatly liked in my family and in others like ours for it had been generally assumed that "one of us" could never get into that job... and in my high school yearbook photo it appears I have even adopted his hairdo... but sometime around the transition out of ROTC I guess for me the bloom came off the rose a bit, maybe it was just my inability to keep my boots and brass spit-polished, my rifle bolt clean and well-oiled and my head in the Dream that made me quake thereafter during parades... not that I hadn't enjoyed them as a child, with my baseball cards woven into the red and white and blue paper bunting in my bike spokes, slapping like little intricated idealistic windmills to the unapologetic strains of Sousa on the Fourth of July and Memorial Day.

And lest I sound too cynical I should hasten to add that my collaborator here was what you, Elmo, would recognize as a fellow crazy like a fox American poet patriot, "of the first water" like they say. The first title of this work was probably Ted's idea -- "Under the Patriot Sky." The "in" joke (there was always an "in" joke, then) involved the New England Patriots, a team from Ted's -- and JFK's -- sacred precincts.

On the Apollo 15 mission, though, the key guy, Irwin, was not a back East or Down East sort but a graduate of my alma mater Michigan, yet did I remain obdurate in my voluntary immunity to alumnus pride for I saw the whole enterprise as a dwarf grand mister wizard erector set of hubristic american we-rule-the-stars silliness. For by then my wanderings had taught me that pursuing the possibilities of the world would mean pursuing its possible sufferings along the way, and for all the missionary kindness, I never saw a new frontersperson who wanted to do THAT. I mean, shooting the moon didn't really mean all that much. The same week we wrote that poem I person I had been to high school with had his legs blown off in Laos, as I would a little later learn. By then the great disconnect between the pristine technological dream and the potentially bloody human reality was already making an impact.

But Elmo I will concede you this, in traveling in Muslim countries in the Sixties (and I know you think those are eighth century civilizations, but maybe you haven't considered that chronological historical progress may be over-rated), there was more than one occasion upon which the characteristic hospitality of people in those countries was immediately triggered when it was made clear where one was from -- "JFK!" was an exclamation of welcoming and endearment. It's now plain to me that whatever charm or magic it had taken the man to inspire THAT response is due fair credit. (I'm just always hesitant to accord too much credit to charming bullshit Irishmen, once perhaps having been one myself, albeit devoid of all skills of statecraft.)

aditya said...

This is a bloody good poem Tom !!
You have captured the sense of my thoughts so well here .. Strange. :)

I like it.

Money is the worst creation on this planet. Why did they go ahead with the industrialization??

If only I could live a farmer's life 10 years on ..

But then, its too late .. for that kinda non sense now.

TC said...


Well, you never know. The world may be old and tired and rundown with its global financial industrial insanity but you are young and full of energy and ideas and life, maybe you and others of like mind will be able to change things about a bit before it's all over. Don't give up hope my friend! Back to the earth! I believe in you!

aditya said...

Heyy Tom

Thank you for such uplifting words ! Hahah ..

But don't you think it's all gone the wrong way, this detour the world took way back.

It is hard to find peace these days. The life of the old was better, as I see it. The life of a farmer, with the tranquility and satisfaction of being close to nature -- what else does a man's heart desire??