A is for Abecedarius...

Abecedarii Variations


I so enjoyed writing The Desolation Poems -- a collection of (so far) 338 poems, each in a different one of the myriad Poetry Forms Used in English -- that I have decided to do a second set. The Desolation Poems were written in approximately one year at the rate of one poem/form a day. In this second set, I intend to take as much time to write as many of a single form as my muse delights in and devote as much time as each individual poem and form demands and will, this time, perhaps, approach the forms in alphabetical order.

Thus, on August 7, 2003 I began the Exultation Poems with Abecedarius II. (I had written several Abcedearii for The Desolation Poems.) Rather quickly I composed two new poems, both of which play with/on the language and its code. In the second, a variation on Psalm 119's form, each line of each octave stanza begins with the same letter. Then I got caught by the idea of using the form -- the first of its kind, they say, probably based on the Hebrew -- St Augustine of Hippo used in 395 for "Psalmus contra partem donati". The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics assured me it was "well known" and that it "is the earliest known example of medieval rhythmical verse." It also appears that it was the only poem Saint Augustine ever wrote.

His "complete works" are well represented in English, but to my astonishment, I could not find an English translation of "Psalmus contra partem donati". In the 1600 years that have elapsed since St. Augustine wrote this poem, no one, it seems, has ever fully translated the poem into English. One librarian did find for me a few beautifully translated stanzas in Carolinne White's Early Christian Latin Poems. When Dr. White, confirmed that no translation exists, I prevailed upon her to translate the rest of the poem -- so I could read the poem and understand what the Saint was saying in this long, deliciously didactic form. The form, itself, is lucidly described by John Balnaves in Bernard of Morlaix The Literature of Complaint, the Latin Tradition and the Twelfth-Century 'Renaissanc Chapter 6 and elsewhere and noted as "a polemic popular song without (sic) regular metre..." Hmmm.

We'll get to the "Psalmus" in a moment, but first Abecedarius II and III:



An alphabetic acrostic
Barreling through the alphabet
Composing cansos for
Divinities in
Eras gone by
Flying as exultation's
Ghost toward the past,
Howling out regret for
Illusions old and new
Jeopardized with too much
Knowledge, weighted down
Low, very low, degraded to a
Mnemonic device,
Neutralizing in the West what
Once, as abecedarii, were used for
Prayers, hymns, oracles,
Quem Quaeritis tropes, is now
Reined to children's games,
Sillinesses -- like the dinosaurs.
Too big for us, they've been turned over,
Under-utilized, trivialized, become
Veritas-less toys
Washed aside, homogenized,
Xeroxed for disregarding
Youth and toddlers, then
Zipped into body bags, shipped to oblivion.

08-08 to 12/10-17-03


Abecedarii, archetype of the
Alpha-Omega trope,
Accredited master code of the language,
Avuncular precursor of written speech,
Apocalyptic door-opener to the recorded world,
Aura and key, susurrus, chant and OM
Announces a grasp of hidden knowledge in
Admonitions well grounded, well hidden.

Buzz-words for greatness,
Beacons for immortality,
Bugles to waken the heart,
Blood to pump round the system,
Beauty to skewer the eye,
Bawdiness to dampen corporeal lust --
Braininess invented the alphabets
Boasted by literate peoples.

Culled into manageable form,
Caressed into beautiful letters,
Cuddled and honed by,
Calligraphers, carved and re-
Carved to perfection,
Curlicued and straightened, words
Create the world we live in
Colossally, confident and culpable.

Daring device and darling contrivance,
Devilishly clever and feared,
Dunned into children,
Divisions of classes and contracts,
Doodlingly altered by time,
Dividing the herd,
Driving us relentlessly, ABC is
Dominant as long as we write.

Established by ancestors,
Easily memorized,
Ecstasy recorded,
Expectantly studied,
Egress into eternity,
Elementary building blocks,
Excreted, executed, lavish and simple is
Everything written up, down or in stone.

Formidably fresh or
Found stained, trampled, torn,
Fatally readable from immemorial time,
Foundational research,
Futuristic projections,
Frequently futile pleas
Further foundling details which are
Fumigated by reason.

Ganglingly cooperative
Gruesomely inclusive,
Graduating from echelon to echelon,
Grilled bootstrap to bootstrap,
Grudgingly authoritative,
Greatly graded among birds, beasts,
Grandiloquent humans are
Guardians of a precious possession.

Hallelujah harmonies,
Headstrong mantras,
Heartbeats hammered by sound,
Healthy skepticism susceptible to
Hurlings of invective, distilled ink,
Huge hurts, tyrannical whimperings,
Heavy-laden laments are
Heuristically matched to hortatory hubris.

Idealistic mirages and old
Illusions finely lined with
Illuminations are best preserved,
Illogically, on paper.
Inched into stone with hammer and chisel,
Involuntarily and voluntarily eliminate
Illustrations in sand which become
Imaginary and ephemeral.

Justly praised,
Judiciously evaluated,
Judgmentally possessed by obsessed
Judges into deep
Jeopardizing the free flow of mumbo and
Jumbo across juxtapositions which are un-
Justifiable, they become juridically sad.

Knowledge-filled concatenations,
Kowtowing to popular consent,
Kinetic and killing by assent,
Kelp entangled in the brine of the ocean,
Kimonoed by propriety,
Kindhearted and forgiving,
Kindling gamesmanship, they are
Keepsakes, whip-like and wandering.

Laminated in words,
Leeched in and out of sentences,
Loaded into paragraphs,
Largely ignored by progenitor speech,
Lockstepped into dictionaries,
Lorded over by finicky peers,
Long- and short-lived institutions, they are
Lone and livid, an essential part of the sum.

Mnemonic devices
Mildewed,they never dry out,
Moisturizing the wit of remembrance,
Moving mountains to molehills,
Mutants to mutations,
Meanwhile becoming standard
Marrying each virgin practice, they remain
Model prisoners of their code.

Never mind the eons of time
Nudging each letter along,
Nuzzling each crack,
Noting each fissure, doing
Nothing about it, usefulness predominates,
Nearsightedness necessitates nefarious variations
Nurtured until there is
No alternative but canonical admittance.

Omega -- but not quite yet.
Other things got in the way
Omission was not part of the plan,
Operations and overhauls
Overheard and overheated
Organized, overbore and became
Overblown, somewhat like ovenbirds
Overburdening the ovum.

Punctilious perpetrator of more than one
Purpose dandled on the head of a
Pin or primped in a mirror of inevitable
Probity, become problematical,
Properly obsolete, processionals
Processed by the eye of choice
Programmed by/in/for cyberspace and are
Perpetuated into perpetuity.

Quired for eons of time,
Quislings in other languages,
Quitters quivering on the edge of
Quixotic grammar's queer frontiers,
Quickening with the breath of change,
Quietus or immortality remain
Quiescent, soundless, waiting for is in this
Querulous world.

Restive but purposeless
Runnels for revenue sharing,
Roundtable discussions,
Roundups, roadhouses,
Raucous directions and
Redirections endure, move toward change,
Ruefully obligated, they are
Rightfully recording whatever they can.

Stupifyingly verbose, where
Should they put ornate verbiage once the
Sum-total has been put into words?
Slaughtered reality shivers and
Shakes hoping to reclaim
Something from the studies of everything which
Seed indescribable possibilities
Seldom acknowledged or welcomed.

Tautologically speaking the obvious order,
Tantamount to repetitiousness,
Torques continually
Trying bravely to
Tentatively restate the
Torrential torsion
Tragically unstable, unstoppable,
Touchstone to eternity.

Untoward action
Unsettles and ultimately
Unhinges unity.
Unimpeachable integrity
Uxoriously obnoxious,
Utterly uppity and insubstantial is
Unsung, though recorded somewhere.

Victorious or flawed,
Virtual will triumph over
Virtue or reality, wordy
Visions or the amanuensis of time.
Virology will work on
Viruses, virile and virulent, to help
Visualize and revive those which are
Vital signs, virgules or virago codes.

Whodunits dominate the new world,
Wiggle loose from patterns,
Writhe in transports of law and regulations,
Wander far from the organizational skills of
Worlds, both under and celestial,
Wired by the code, the master code,
Whether or not one pays attention to
WYSIWYG, which is both woeful and wasteful.

Xerox reality for me.
Xerxes, whether
Xanthous or not,
Xenial or not,
Xenophobic or not
Xenomorphically ruled Persia, was
Xerophilously pressed into history and is
Xylotomically carving his way through the xyst.

Yaffle, peck, peck, pecking, a
Yard or two away,
Yclad in green like the lawn,
Ycelpt forth from the grave's edge to
Yawl in my abecedarius and
Yawn, perhaps never to be yammered again, in the
Yamen of time, nor yanked to what is
Yesterday, at least today, yielded and exposed.

Zed, the late comer,
Zeitgeist of days spent under the
Zamindar farming the language, turning up
Zest, zero or zillahs avoiding
Zeugma and the
Zikkurats of the Babylonian's
Zephyrs blowing over universal moments is
Zoning into the zoic Nirvana which is all we know.


08-13-03 to 10-05/10-20 to 22/10-27-03


Based on the form of St. Augustine of Hippo's "Psalmus contra partem donati" ("Psalm against the Donatists")*
I use the form, but -- except the Saint's inclusive philosophy -- not the content.


"...the period of time between the interruption of the oxygen supply or exposure to an oxygen-poor environment
and the time when a pilot is unable to perform flying duties effectively..." **

Those who would truly know the world, must eschew judgment's cruel decree.     001

Abundant possibilities, like small leaves in the winds of time,
dance for man-created visions of belief, of symbols, rapture.
Whirlwinds of certainty reduce the myriad-worlds-universe
to texts and testaments, to vows, to hatred, to gun-men-defense
of what were words, images, thoughts, brief, ephemeral, fugitive --
nothing ever felt, smelt, eaten, nothing to taste, hear, see, fear, love.
The cooling wind moves against flesh, heated quarks open for sunshine
un-hoped for in a constrained world. New certitudes will encode, be
fought for, died for, real or unreal, foolish or blessed, they will rise
in song, they will live and perish -- endless entertainments will sate
the periodicity of time causing quarrel and debate,
analysis, development of modes: old, new, simple, divine.

Those who would truly know the world, must eschew judgment's cruel decree.     014

Bonding two percent of the world, human history distorts life.
It serves the merchant, the ruler, the Ayatollah, Priest and Pope,
the Guru. the savant, scholar. History is written of strife,
wars, hostilities, disasters. Little is written of people
who live and die. The amusements of history ignore mere life.
Limpidity, ubiquity outside history maintains life.
A deceiving mobility, a treacherous charm, exults life,
precludes all classification. What censorship forgets, people
accomplish in peace's silence. Most genuine records of time
are erased by their swift passage. The usefulness of genuine
truth will conceal a missing truth, extol one greedy thread above
the cloth, unbalance poise, distort the design, throw envy, exclude.

Those who would truly know the world, must eschew judgment's cruel decree.     027

Codifying the unseeing, obtuse ways of abstract purpose,
man pursues his time-filling in philosophy, literature.
Religion still exercises man's creative powers supreme,
inventing demons, bugaboos, gods who, high overhead, lounge
upon irradiating stars, inciting states of endless strife,
powers of self and destruction greater than a God can conceive.
Living in ranks of high pride, greed, hubris, deception, avarice,
man in his entertainment-lust has now mastered apocalypse --
formerly his gods' assignment. Disregarding his own knowledge,
man's annihilating Big Bang will bang away his absolute
imperatives. The world, unthought, will return to pristine nature.
Earth, stars will know amazing new species, untextualized, free.

Those who would truly know the world, must eschew judgment's cruel decree.     040

Delete it and no one will miss your history, my historie.
All annals, records, poetry, politics, linguistics, science,
physiology, mathematics, art are threads weaving artifice
in humankind's grand tapestry, a concocted conglomerate,
plucked, raveled up or unraveled, it forms a free floating mirage.
It shimmers above the background of multiplicity's wild mime.
Peoples, living and dead, are swept on waves, the perpetual tide
of being. Isolated threads less meaningful than a movie,
are filmed, spliced, unwound by bright light, admired or not admired
and soon forgotten. Or, even remembered, but one short measure
from the quadrillion quadrillion quadrillion events of lost lore,
hours passed, days done, epochs consumed, minutia detained without name.

Those who would truly know the world, must eschew judgment's cruel decree.     053

Entertainments -- an exact term -- serious, heinous or sedate
are but ways of passing the time. Luckily, along came language
Soon tallies and writing followed. How else fill interminable
days but with stories, theories which, given scarcity, abundance,
little to do, became truth, the dogma of gods, the evil one,
angels, whatever was seen in the sky: talking stars, empty space,
echoing vistas, limitless voids flashing signals, a message?
Interpretations were devised, fear solidified to culture.
People roasted in blazing hells simulated from human awe.
Men's abstract words became concrete instruments with which to torture
those who said otherwise. Swords, guns were invented to reinforce
the opinions of the rich, while the innocent poor hurdled life.

Those who would truly know the world, must eschew judgment's cruel decree.     066

Fortunately time manages to transform everything, to fade
vows of changelessness buried deep in the ritual of passage.
Each catastrophic, chaotic, unimaginable, failed chance
creates a remnant of destroyed permanence, taste for remembrance.
Just as the moment, the building, the life broken, is cast aside
in marked/unmarked graves and is no more, is disremembered, past woe,
is driven by the violence of wind-blown time, like gods who ride
silently off to become pale, esoteric literature.
Eventually, even carved stone, eaten by air, will crumble.
Unnoticed, archaeology bargains with the wind for respite.
The creator's purpose of once-carved, deep-faced texts, belie
what was granted for a moment, had intention, evolved, is gone.

Those who would truly know the world, must eschew judgment's cruel decree.     079

Gratuitous, a gracious gift, life, it is given, lived without charge.
How did the human mind fill so swiftly with unreasonable
shoulds and should nots? Poison kills, while nonsense will proliferate
forever -- as the sound of log-struck, iron bells reverberate
in the dark, in the winter air, into imperishable space.
Nothingness remains, followed by more theories and tenacious hope,
guesses err, incarcerations cease and visions disintegrate.
Don't see too clearly lest, without sound, the balsa-wood structures come
tumbling down, aggregate, consign hypotheses to mythic fate,
dust and death. A dictionary hides, awaiting the poet's use,
words, alphabetically ordered, human mind-toys to assemble
and reassembled, to evoke all but life on this spinning globe.

Those who would truly know the world, must eschew judgment's cruel decree.     092

Homo Ludens, he who plays -- but so grimly. Life or massacre
is often his game. History says so, but history's tissue
historically lies. Nothing like history's momentous tale
ever happened. Undoubtedly there was slaughter, war and disease,
but people were elsewhere living, gestating, cultivating cave
gardens for the sun and the moon. Beneath torrent rains, the earth throve.
Many people enjoyed bounty until history, played for fee,
challenged the planet, created chaotic and uncountable
justifications called reason, called rape, called inevitable
called anything but murder of earth, plants, animals, the landscape,
the un-named killings of others to own possessions, power. Free
before, abstract as a game's need, greed seeped forth -- slow, intangible.

Those who would truly know the world, must eschew judgment's cruel decree.     105

Investigation, a new form of entertainment, is quite choice.
It pays the investigator -- always of the appropriate
class. Millions are casually spent to maintain the bourgeoisie
as professionals muck about to discover why the poor are
poor and not a nickel need be spared or spent to alleviate
the homelessness, hopelessness, cold, hunger, pain of the destitute.
Then counselor, consultant with office, staff, interns, committee
(all of the appropriate class, whose standard of life is to strive)
call up the lower-standard-of-living poor to gravely adjure.
It's never mandatory or justifiable to just give
money to the poor. They wouldn't know how to spend with suitable
economy. Ah! Are the poor dumb? Ah, we must investigate!

Those who would truly know the world, must eschew judgment's cruel decree.     118

Keystrokes dealt on the computer of time slide swiftly and converge
into nodes, tricks. Even glass-bead-games don't playfully organize
free of theory, dogma, yes-buts. Gently let the snapping synapse,
the dwindled dendrite, the blood brain barrier lift and fall. Weep, dare
for the world turned to words to turn again to the futile image
of idle despair, lonely beauty moving, inexorable,
toward chaos, implosion, black holes. Gravity's slow need to observe
the obverse is aided by hot, human hubris -- lost and lonesome.
Pause now and then to contemplate extinction's long and patient ease
visited on the dinosaurs by meteor or odd, innate
compulsion -- an almost human madness to become something else.
Tap, tap, tap, on the computer's doomed creation, that one keystroke.

Those who would truly know the world, must eschew judgment's cruel decree.     131

Ludicrous shadows play, winnow my wisdom until there is none.
Cornered in my darkened mind where some was still thought to be, now there
is scum scuppering overboard. Rich, fine words by the multitude,
which I can spell, cling, while meanings expand and contract and dissolve.
Lubriciousness grabs anything. Though it prefers luminescence,
it will accept old, cilantro, black and slippery with leaf slime
down an unclean sink leading -- Who knows where? -- to bowels dropping five
stories into sewers where quests for entertainment will provoke
replacement for forgotten old friends, old todays composed of rage
anti-compassion, hatred, greed, mawkishness and market-value --
murder. There's no need to apply accurate words, when we can make
it just fine with something-like. Kneel! Worship one's busy human sense.

Those who would truly know the world, must eschew judgment's cruel decree.     144

Marvel at the world chewed up by man's demand, whence springs manure
for daffodils, anemones, Icelandic poppies, grown fragile,
grown tall on Santa Monica Boulevard beneath palms, pine
and spreading-as-wide-as-a-world Morton Bay Figs, post culture,
be-smogged, hydrocarboned to death. Disrespect for the way things are
leads man by his haughty nose toward greater and greater anomie.
Bonfires of the vanities light our planet. The phosphorescence
from their flames travels on and on and on into the universe
and on and on, on beyond our galaxy, beyond fugitive
galaxies forever, ever more. Where is the limit, the edge,
the walls and voids beyond which starts oblivion? Beyond is space.
Nothingness -- illusive -- does not exist. Time does not terminate.

Those who would truly know the world, must eschew judgment's cruel decree.     157

Nevertheless, we do end. We could do better. We could replace
this maniacal fairy tale of scarcity, vengeance, terror --
granting each their amusing hoax, terrible, time-passing stature
and get on with our dreams of life, dribble drops of compassion here
and there. Instead of studying, we could meet the unfortunate,
give them food, embrace them, shelter their humanity and expunge
their debt. Why does a programmed-for-death earthling, for his ninety-one
years, need billions? -- to blind him to starvation, bloated bellies, bone-
exposed, torn body-parts bandied about by bomb, mine, missile? Why
has the human mind run away with the human heart? Can it be
caught, taught, tempted, tickled, cajoled, kidded into enduring love
toward other human hearts, other simple beings, without specie?

Those who would truly know the world, must eschew judgment's cruel decree.     170

Over there in the dust among the rocks of the road the brains lie,
brains and teeth of an Iraqi blown -- surprised -- through an explosive
shroud. What is an Iraqi? Not a mineral, plant or green tree?
It's a being -- human -- but deemed not important enough to burke.
Iraqi-killers, homesick, brave, mourned, ramming ideas of life,
"democratic" ideals, down the throats of those who disagree,
are important. "Smart bombs," are important -- knowing to massacre
just Iraqis is another ideal. Words may differ but the
great hegemonic game remains the same. Boys will be boys, agree
to be men with the strength of men, but keep their boys' dreams solvent, whole.
Count the bodies, count the brains, wash the gore in the river of time
where truth's stones are fogged, polished by hypocrisy's profane decree.

Those who would truly know the world, must eschew judgment's cruel decree.     183

Part now with certainty, pleasure, hope. The worst, unbelievable,
will happen. You will no longer walk, nor stroll, nor rove, nor ramble
the twilit quiet. No matter how slowly or willing to move,
you will no longer go. Stasis reigns. Stasis has halted the line.
Death has bid farewell. Change is gone. We are stuck in life, immobile,
without choice save to learn. Learn what? Learn the slow inventions of time.
Shun light, shun the day, shun what was. Death and time, O, great sisters, be;
be on my side -- now. What is now? Ask again. What is now? Let be.
Where can it be found? -- breathing. In darkness, breathing is now, no change.
Breathing is the light, the sky, space. Itinerant is the nature
of birds, molecules, the wind, death. Resurrection comes with the shine.
of the sun. New creatures will grow unlike memory's reverie.

Those who would truly know the world, must eschew judgment's cruel decree.     196

Questions need to be asked again. Three narcissus bulbs pullulate.
The first, two days ago. The last? A week from now? In the future
perfect tense nothing will have changed. The sun, less bright will evolute,
Earth, perpetually slowing its rotation, will then stagnate.
The days grow shorter, sleep descends deeper and grogged by spinning time.
I now know what enlightenment means: I shed the imperative.
I bounce about neutrino-like -- no weight, no mass, the spin of one
half cavorting, smiley-faced through the universe filled with peace, glee
idiotic bliss. Who needs it? Twenty-first Century man, deep in
the gore of his anger, holding back change, cries: Not I! Things must be
as they are because they have been as they are. As! They! Are! Will! Be!
Nature laughs, speeds up her plans for a nine-headed cow, cries: Rejoice!

Those who would truly know the world, must eschew judgment's cruel decree.     209

Resurrecting another time's sound, other tastes, another place,
I hear taped Beethoven minus Oistrakh's cadenza. It's bell-like,
soaring trace is erased by time. I see the music's bones, structure.
I hear deaf Beethoven at work. Then, I knew music but little.
Now, my dendrites and synapses have vaulted, sparked unions, taught me:
I am the world. Being music, the world's great, bright wings live in me.
Once having entered, nothing leaves. Grandmother's gold, speeding needle
weaving, knitting, stitching, creates from the single thread time's tangle.
There's no need to re-create the cool air, nor the morning's sun, the
playful cat's leap, at finding I know the concerto's every note.
My heart sings it by heart. I've been in another country, I've come
home, filling in the twisting trail behind, before me, I've come home.

Those who would truly know the world, must eschew judgment's cruel decree.     222

So, allure even one belief from nothingness's shield. Entice
Shiva, destruction's Great God. God of my house, Shiva cat, genie
of Purna, the world his honing post. Claws like scimitars, teeth like
stilettos. With pink cavernous mouth, designed as a carnivore,
it troubles him to distinguish between hand and meat on his plate.
Or does it? Does he, like humans, desire the indigestible
plenum, the everything, the all, then still desire to devour more?
Digest! Attack! Destroy all things -- epitomizes his nature.
Before creation can begin again, the cycle of to die
must revive to live. To die, to live once more, to age, to gurgle
round millennia, seasons, to re-churn time, all images change.
Listen to remembrancers of lost music; review the vignette.

Those who would truly know the world, must eschew judgment's cruel decree.     235

Thirty-five, forty years ago I used to watch cats sidle
through the tall, dense, golden grass of a Pennsylvania summer's late
heat, padding soundlessly, moving slowly, with caution's infinite
charm, watching, listening, sniffing the unusual, still green blade
of grass, bite it, amble on, then, for no visible reason, lie
down, paws tucked, self-satisfied. Why there? I would ruminate in awe.
"Why just there?" Not up the hill nor down, near the path nor far, but gone
for hours. Walking, I would find one cat here, another randomly there.
"Why just here?" I'd whisper, kissing pink nose and taut, inquisitive
whiskers ensconced in a vast field, vast as the Siberian steppe:
rocks, wind, grass and dust. "Why just here?" Why pluck this point from the rubble
of time, declare it triumphant, as -- flash forward -- a special site.

Those who would truly know the world, must eschew judgment's cruel decree.     248

Valery has written: "The Gods have received from the human mind
the gift of the power to create because that mind, being cyclical
and abstract, may aggrandize what it has imagined to a point
that it's no longer capable of imagining it."*** Advance
or retreat, time unsteadily ticks in directions resolute
with memory, forgetfulness, replacing each imperative.
Be-whiskered, bemused, soft, purring, was this a cinema or life?
Especially if I am asleep: "...what happens to me, is my life..."****
The high-turbaned, grand vizier of wisdom passes his short regime
flutteringly like an un-cocooned butterfly -- none dares to see.
Who's real? And what would it matter? Beyond larvae, beyond pupae,
use every word you can, lest life perish and this poem survive.

Those who would truly know the world, must eschew judgment's cruel decree.     261


Ascribe this strange poem to age. Blaze joy through it. Let it baffle
before blame, let it shine, bustle, contrive to amuse, crenelate,
charge across time, slowly convene dare-devil critic, desperate
disciple, dauntingly destine Essene or excessive excuse,
endure to hauntingly embrace feeble reason freely: farce, foe,
fee, frequent follicle and flame, grimace a pain-like guillotine,
grumble, groan, but soon graduate, take a deep, heme-colored, hirsute,
histamine hoarse hippie for hire. Insupportable, insulate
ire irrevocable, intense, keystone Klee-like lines surely kite
Kampuchea or any knee. Live with love lowered to re-lave
laureate in a lime-green loge, mime morale, morals, a mongoose
made from catastrophic moonshine. Nightie be damned, never negate.
Naivete necessitates noise, obdurate sounding off, oblique,                                   274
obscure and a rarely obscene, palpable, pongee paradise.
Parachute from a projectile, quake while seeking the quintessence,
quote while contemplating quagmire, ramble around the rapture range.
Rape, though rare, ravages revenge. Scripture, skillfully sere, single
side, single source will simulate temple, throne, trappings of trade's twine.
Transpose whatever troubled tale vestige is left to valentine
verve. Vaccinate each ventricle, ascribe this strange poem to age.
Jejune jalousies will joggle, jangle, fall for want of justice.
Jaundice opinion will jostle jute in the jungle jubilee.
Uterine darkness, while urbane utterance use, untie, upstage
urbanize, untangles ursine, unwise upgrades for fake usage.
We were then wired and everywhere. Woe wore elaborate wreckage.
Wreathe, wiggle, wrinkle, wobble, wipe, write up your life woven in white.
Xenophobe with a xylophone, X-chromosome rare xerophyte,
Yankee never so yare as, Yule yippee, yokemate of yore, yoke
zoophyte or zorille, zygote, zombie through an Internet zone.
Artichoke-like, fuzzily butte, bruit about this bantered bauble.                                 292

*Many thanks to Dr. Carolinne White of Oxford for her translation of St. Augustine's "Psalmus contra partem donati" a poem composed in c..395 and never completely translated into English before her translation of September, 2003
** Beware of Hypoxia, Larry Boshers
***Essay on Leonardo da Vinci, Paul Valery, 1895, based on Thomas McGreevy's translation
****From Michelangelo Antonioni's 1964 film, RED DESERT

A First Draft Of Abecedarius IV and Notes On Its Construction

I first heard of the "Time of Useful Consciousness" concept on Maria Gilardin's very fine and important radio program, TUC Radio, and felt it as a uniquely apt metaphor for the point in time at which our society finds itself. It formed the basis for the structure of this poem.



Using the Monier-Williams Dictionary abecedarius (derived from the syllabic Devanagari script), Sanskrit letters with examples


001. A     Another abecedarius, this based on Sanskrit,
                glimmery as mica, rustic and rural as my mind

002. A     Audible contradictions tar me as long as my life,
                a residue of father 's strangeness, likeable and despicable

003. I     Initially, I felt I could jump all over the wires of my life,
              fill up the lily pond with starred beauty and scum

004. I     Illegal, irenic, I never changed, never will change, pursued
              by the police of the mind, I'm in Ido danger as it is

005. U     Ultimate fear shines over me, chasing me, world
                without end, into the full, blossoming, briary bush

006. U     Usurp the mind's life, expansive but rude, rambling all
                over the place, digging up facts and figures and carnage

007. Ri     Riddle the memory with past merriment and wine,
                merrily trod roughshod over the world, your oyster my oyster

008. Ri     Ritonello ritardando after the risotto, definitely not his oyster
                or recognizably a marine mammal, Italian cookery and love

009. Lri    Lyrists played their lyres for the revelry and refusal of change
                and because there was not a Gilbralter rock anywhere to sit on

010. Lri   Lyres are tuneful, but slightly out of remembrance with poets
                humming the lost lyricism of the no longer revelrying world." (long)

011. E     Effervescently the prey of the osprey who bears marks
                of the preying fish, white bellied, dark, there, on his back

012. Ai     Aisles open up, routes through the sea and the air, horatory
                singing rings out, gadflies on the wind, the rain lashing down

013. O     Overheat the universe, vent the black smokers in the sea, go
                and turn to stone the deep welling waters not of this world

014. Au     August and hoary statesman whose haustellum doth suck
                 and suck at the universal tit -- titmice in another age, hawk now

015. N     (Anusvara)

016. M     (Nasal)

017. H     (Visarga)

018. Ka     Kill is a primary goal, cruel is another, adventure through
                  our times to seek the benignant sucker in our Klein bottle world

019. Kha    Khaki koalas, though not native, clutch their inkhorns as embedded
                  journalists prevaricating, word for word, evasions of truth

020. Ga     Gaily grilling on the gridiron of time, man with his dog and gun
                 gets to gracefully scale the tides of woe wondering what went wrong

021. Gha   Ghazies spy out the loghuts of the western world and shoot through
                  the ghettos of contemplation, ghastlier grow our inventions

022. Na     Nyingma is red and blue, O sing ye kings and sink from sight down
                  the Tibetan slope, disappear O cherry-cheeked nipped ghosts

023. Ca     Chattermarks distinguish the glaciated rocks one from another
                  like the fluttering hand of the tabla player, dolce on the drumhead

024. Cha   Chyme cascades down the churchhill to the duodenum and beyond,
                  into the abyss of time with chuckles from the obscured stars

025. Ja     Judas priest! another scholarly adventure, jetting up, getting ready
                to jump from my brow into the swim of search and seizure

026. Jha   Judgement will do as hedgehogs appear in the crown of time
                and disappear into fine penumbras digesting dirigibles and dhows

027. Na   Neptunium, silvery, metallic, naturally radioactive, a singe element,
                following uranium and beautiful but deadly for cringing and binging

028. Ta   Tell all the true tales of mourning and marriage, trailing all the rude
                rhythms of bearing and birth, tell them over again, the tales.

029. Tha   Thenceforth theoretically the anthills will mount to
                  gigantic methane fuming cones, termites clouding the planet

030. Da   Do drum and drive the dribble back onto the glacial mountain while
                taking heart and hedonistic pleasure in plunking down the image

031. Dha   Dharma calls -- for which seat in which time will you pay which
                 redhaired piper dashing through days on a long fish-fly, dutiful life

032. Na   None who wished to speak up spoke; everyone knew more
                about those who offered themselves then those who did not

033. Ta     Turbulence fetched far from Ireland's water and my history
                  -- the fact I have a history -- fills me with horror

034. Tha   Taken from life, nuthooks, which we don't speak about,
                  but they used to when tethering autumn to winter, spring to fall

035. Da     Dice were played with the souls of the salmon carefully;
                  this was a fin up on the human, generational, cooperative river

036. Dha   Tongues wag and sentences adhere to the inside of dear
                  mouths and fancy guts desperately, dextrously, adroit, skilled

037. Na     Not for nothing was the nut put into the bin, made over
                  from sawdust and starch, evidence in human nutrition unknown

038. Pa     Pour the guts on out for the pagentry, put the fire behind you
                  and sip from the cup of partiality to procure peace in the spleen

039. Pha   Puffing and puttering, pulling all uphill, hand over hand over the mountain,
                strive like the pharaoh might strive for his pyramid concomitant with life

040. Ba   Barely had I seen the sun when its glare bespoke the godhead whether bear
                or brilliant or both rubbing round the sides, gyres, sides, waves, tides, tsunamis

041. Bha   Boarding the flight of the golden fleece is no reason to abhor the abeyance
                  of beauty, how glad the heart with Shiva's scruf, Shakti's shattering

042. Ma   Ma's map and jam will be quite enough for the picnic among the rocks
                of the truly truant eons bottled in wine, winsome and worry

043. Ya   Yards of saris yellowing on the sand under the sun and the moon,
                cling yet, loyally concealing the universe's lovely rib

044. Ra   Ra or Ram rising red over the planet's curve, Agni will save the year
                being sure of her fire, her flames and her death, obscure choices done

045. La   Lovely, lulling lies lead one into the sleep of the Gods,
                pleasurable, restful, justified for nature is cruel, criticism the lot of the blind

046. L

047. Lh

048. Va   Verve, vision mixed, might be his version of red ivy climbing chancery
                walls, falling drains, ripping facades near dwarves who dwell incontinent

049. Sa   Surely sugar is the sinecure proving the sine curve quite sinewy
                for embracing what may have never been recorded before, quite rightly

050. Sh     Shuttles as old as sorrowful shrouds, signal from Sanskrit's olde, 1899,
                dictionary in English advising to shun bush O prophet! O soul!

051. Sa   Saints safely stored in Heaven sin and hiss, earthquake has the world
                burying forests with salt water and sea maidens. Come be with us!

052. Ha   Hear this, hit your chest with remorse and hide. Until
                I have claimed the ashvamedha* territory -- there is nothng left to do

*Horse sacrifice

They say it takes twenty-six years to learn Sanskrit. Why should it take less to read this poem?



Based On The Beauty Of


Now how are we going to do this?
I don't read Hebrew, don't understand a word of it,
except maybe Aleph (and that thanks to Borges)

Perhaps, to see the beauty of the letters,
I'll just refer you directly to the Hebrew Alphabet
A site of pure poetry. Thusly:

1 -- Aleph: "The Letter Aleph has 3 distinct parts
and 10 laws concerning its form."

2 -- Beis (or Beth) "The Letter Beis is made of 3 parts.
The size of the letter is 3x3 kulmusim."

3 -- Gimel: "The Letter Gimel has a head of a Zayin,
and has a leg sticking out of it on bottom
whose face points slightly upward.
There should be three Tagin on its head."

4 -- Daled (or Daleth): "The Letter Daled has 2 main parts.
There is a roof and a leg.
If the heel which sticks out on the top
right corner is missing, the letter is still kosher."

5 -- Heh (or He): The Letter Heh is basically a Daled
which has an upside down Yud
at the lower left hand corner, at an equal
distance away from the roof as from the leg.

6 -- Vov (or Vau): I got the second spelling of the letters
from Psalm 119 in a Bible.

7 -- Zayin (or Zain): One thing I love about ignorance is that it is
so easy to see the differences, disagreements, incompatibilities.

8 -- Ches (or Cheth): One guy spells it this way,
another spells it that way and, in the surrounding
darkness, you never know why.
Different regions? Different tribes?
Different dialects? Different centuries?

9 -- Tes (or Teth): and, as always, certainly, different meanings.
Though this can be contested. And is.
Often. Like reading, several decades ago,
The New Physics. Science,
I found, is one great big, unutterably beautiful chaos.

10 -- Yud (or Jod): "The Letter Yud is the smallest letter of the alphabet,
yet it can be the trickiest to write properly."

20 -- Chof Kefufa/Chof Peshuta (or Caph): "The Letter Chof Kefufa
in one of the 5 letters which have a special letter which
replaces it, when it is used at the end of a word.
"The Letter Chof Peshuta [cousin to Chof Kefufa] should have
a roof which is no longer than 3 kulmusim."

30 -- Lamed: "The Letter Lamed is made up of two separate letters.
There is a Chof Kefufa which is written within the lines,
and then a Vov whose bottom point touches the very top
left corner of the Chop Kefufa. The Letter Lamed, therefore, is one
of the largest letters..." If the Vov is "...shortened, it can become invalid."

40 -- Mem Pesucha/Mem Stumah (or Mem): "...the Vov (the "nose")
is angled upward..." "...where the head of the Vov connects to its leg,
is where the Vov should touch the Chof Peshuta part of the Mem Pesucha."
"...the Vov and Chof Peshuta must not touch at all..." if it did
" would become a Mem Stumah..." and end the word.

50 -- Nun Kefufa/Nun Peshuta: are not in the Bible, Psalm 119
abecedarius at all. Nonetheless, it/they have a delicious plethora
of rules and 3 beautiful little Tagin on a Zayin-like head.

60 -- Samech: The corners must be clearly rounded
so one doesn't mistake this for a Mem Stumah.
Complicated, you say, and getting more so. Ah yes,
one wonders how long ago, by candle- or fire-light
so many rules popped forth from the scribe(s)'s mind/head(s).

70 -- Ayin (or Ain): "The left leg should have the head of a Zayin.
(According to the Arizal, the left leg has the head of a Vov.)"
One or the other. Before the age of Physics, complications
were mutiplied to keep the scribe/priestly caste exclusive.
Now, things have got so complicated, down there on
the microscopic, nano-tech level, that once again,
only the priests can talk to each other, delight
each other with their elegant equations,
learned dialogues, fortuitous good
fortune that few want to
follow into the deep
heart of the
where it will be discovered

80 -- Pay Kefufa/Pay Peshuta (or Pe): " slightly larger
than the other letters..." because
"...Sofrim want so much to get the outline of the Bais in..."
and "...whereas the Pay Kefufa has a curled body,
the right leg of the Pay Peshuta goes straight down."

90 -- Tzadi Kefufa/Tzadi Pshuta (or Tzaddi):
Tzadi Kefufa is doubled and explained,
Tzadi Peshuta goes, mercifully, into nothingness.

100 -- Kuf (or Koph): "The two parts of the Kuf
should not touch each other at all.
If they do touch, even with an amount
as thin as a hair, it would be invalid."

200 -- Reish (or Resh): "The Letter Reish..." must not look like
a Chof Peshuta, nor a Daled. It looks like the seat and leg
of a very thin chair. Would I dare sit on it? Probably not,
there is no back, no path back -- now within two letters of finishing.

300 -- Shin (or Schin): "The Letter Shin is easily distinguished by its three heads."
I am distinguished by my persistence in reacting to what I know
nothing about -- life. You get no instructions.
Everyone has an opinion. No one knows.
A lot of rules pile up.
Obey them
at your
Disobey them or die.

400 -- Tof (or Tau): Written on my 70th Birthday
in honor of the continuing discovery that it
doesn't much matter how much sense
one makes or how deep one's
ignorance, an abecedarius
can, with face pointed
outward, absorb




for James

[In] Moral Philosophy there are two sciences...the science of virtue, Aretaics...the science of happiness, Eudaemonics.
1865, J. Grote, OED, A, p. 440, 1933

Who, of a certain age, can write this date
without thinking of the end of the world,
rich coffee with cream, strawberry
candies, chocolate dipped.

*Anyone blooming crimson delight each
festive graduation has initiated juridical,
kinesthetic lewdness monolithically now
or peripatetically quired, readily stymied,
tautologically unique, variorum
withstanding, xeroxed
youthful zestiness.


*Zero yammers xiphoid withered, verily
unmanned, tantamount steadily reeling,
quickened prehensilly, orally, nominally
mutating lawlessness, kindliness, jugular
immolation, hedonistic gradations few
eschew diligently creating barren aortas.

Underfed, overfed, warred and warring,
the world, chocolate dipped, ends with
rich coffee and cream, strawberry
candies, moral authority.

*Suggested by James

Then, every-once-in-a-while, the universe answers back with a poem, from a friend, so exquisite one must add it to one's Abecedarian Exultations.




Linda Tomback
for Jan

...a big challenge, done exquisitely,
fierce gratitude helps inspire journal keeping,
liberates me; new openings passing quickly,
running sentences throughout,
ubiquitous venturesome, wild
xenophobic yearnings zinging!!!

Zen youth, xanadu waiting,
virgins undulating, tormented souls
revere quixotic passionate opportunities,
new misgivings, lost kindreds, joyful imaginings,
habitually grateful, freedom energizes, divine creativity,
blessed are...

ARETAICS/EUDAEMONICS Copyright © 2003 Linda Tomback, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, posted with permission




And aptly additionally an abecedarius
Belatedly but beautifully burgeoning boastfully
Cautiously cantankerously creating coriolis currents
Done down dutifully dolefully dressed
Expressing exultation enchantment ending ensorcelment
Finally fruitfully forbidding feverish frequencies
Gratuitously greeting guests greatly gussied
Hurriedly heralded hither however heard
Inclined impertinently imperviously impassionedly impish
Justifiably juiced jaundiced jaded joyful
Kindly krvetching kaleidoscopically keeling karma
Leaving leukocytes lingering leonine long
Mumbling memoirs memories mournfully mooning
Never nictating nifty news nightly
Operatic oppressions opposing oracular opponents
Punctually purposefully preternaturally possessively pausing
Quitting quite quietly questioned quixotically
Resting reeling running riot regularly
Satisfied surely singularly saturated sentient
Truly trespassing temptations tipping temple
Ultimately uxorious under unilateral ultimatums
Verily variant valves vamping vagrants
Watching waterfalls wet wondrous worlds
Xanthous xeric xysters xeroxing xenophobes
Yahoo yardmen yanks yielding yesterday
Zoom zealously zoologically ziggurat's zero

*Form from the Palatine Anthology ix.524 and 525




Appreciation for our script
Begins anew each time I write
Celestial musings of the Gods
Demarcate evolutions from
English back to Summerian.
From clay tokens to computers
Gyrating round logographics
High concept of sound equal graph.

Invented by who knows what tribe
Justly intent in absence to
Kindle the presence of their thought,
Lace horizons with their visions.
Mantras welled up from Sanskrit's sound.
Notations carved deep into stone
Open the sanctuary of
Past worlds and civilizations,

Quelling curiosity's quick
Rush on speculation's great need,
Sacred, secular and divine,
To explain sky, sun, star and earth.
Urumqui, furtherest from all
Views of every ocean, yet writes
With scripts quite as elegantly
Xeroxable as any of

Younger lineage since zero and
Zen reduced time to trivia.



Alphabetically we may daub
beautiful words Asiatic,
common words far from the ice cold
domains far to the north, run ode
East and West together, rebuff
foreign epithets, and gambling
great masses of high sounding truth,
hieratic declensions, pi
Iridescent, devotion's Hajj,
jocular meanings and quick lock
kinetics, replace parallel
languages fused tightly like gum,
monitored by no one, not Han
nor Hun nor Jain nor Latino --
orthographically a gap.
People even in new Iraq,
quinquangular plus, must refer
relatively frequently sans
summations qualified, latent,
turgid, to redolent Urdu.
Uighur is gone, but Turkish rev
virtually produced mellow
worlds, secret hieracosphinx,
Xerxes' alphabet's sorcery.
Yoga, they say, means union's buzz,
Zen's truth, aphonic-phobia.

Copyright © 2003 through 2015 Jan Haag
Jan Haag may be reached via e-mail:




Abecedarius II, 08-07/08/10-17-03

Abecedarius III, 08-08 to 12/10-17-03

Abecedarius IV, TIME OF USEFUL CONSCIOUSNESS, 08-13-03 to 10-05/10-20 to 22/10-27-03

Abecedarius IV, TIME OF USEFUL CONSCIOIUSNESS, Excerpt from a letter to Christian Smith, 10-04-03

Abecedarius IV, TIME OF USEFUL CONSCIOUSNESS, First Draft, 09-06-03 to 09-28-03

Abecedarius V, USEFUL CONSCIOUSNESS, Sanskrit Syllabary, 09-28/11-03/04/05-03

Abecedarius VI, Based On The Beauty Of, THE HEBREW ALPHABET, 12-06-03

Abecedarius VII, The Last, ARETAICS/EUDAEMONICS, 12-07-03

Abecedarius, One More!, ARETAICS/EUDAEMONICS, 12-10/13-03, by Linda Tomback

Abecedarius VIII, Another, 12-12-03


Abecedarius, 08-08-98

IROHA MOJIGUSARI, Japanese Abecedarius Form, 08-09-98







21st CENTURY ART, C.E. - B.C., A Context