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George Spencer: god: a quarterback without a playbook

George Spencer: god: a quarterback without a playbook

god gets nervous when we get too close to him
— rene leclerc. god and his ways 

attention flutters, takes a walk. the narrative grinds on
boards so marched over aging thespians throw lines away.
cell phones buzz. messages zing round our heads. 
red onions eavesdrop and gossip underground.
all’s so bland road-kill is news  as a worm is cut in half by the gardener’s shovel  
but still they repeat beautiful the dew, lovely the garden

 there’s blood in my ear now and i’m happy to spin a song of small sins,
of the deceit of love’s sticky ropes
 from which sad young wannbe icarus tried to escape,                                                        
mounting the diving board over the empty swimming pool.
we’ve seen it a thousand times
and the motel isn’t responsible for unattended kids. 

the other side’s worse chaos 
where god’s a quarterback without a playbook.
a nihilist, solipsist,  ironist,  
 aslant his tongue overflowing with love
for the eighth false prophetess of  extended sunrises.

 too much of a bodice-ripper this life on the lamb.
perhaps ‘tis better to just accept the good with the bad
and let the dust settle where it may.   


— George Spencer 


Copyright © by George Spencer. 2016. All Rights Reserved.


George Spencer interviews poets and writers for the Poetry Thin Air cable show and produces a cable series about multimedia artists, Arts(Performing)@Tribes. These interviews and documentaries are in the collections of The New York Public Library, the Fales Collection at NYU and many others.

His visual art is about power and who has it. This can be seen in his feature length film Tom, Sally and the Marquis that asks who, de Sade or Thomas Jefferson, is the sadist and who is the hypocrite. A recent documentary explores the cinematic work, paintings, sculpture and writing of Nick Zedd, originator of the Cinema of Transgression, that is dedicated to the concept that power corrupts, that we live in a controlled environment and that opposition is the only way to arrive at self-realization.

His sculpture is made from found objects and is preserved as photographs. The sculpture is disassembled  and the  components go back into an inventory of objects to be reused in new sculpture.

His preference is for the camera embedded in the iPhone. 

He is working on a fictional biography and continues to write poetry.


Quick Note

Quick Note

Robert Mueller, a fre­quent con­trib­u­tor for Spin­oz­ablue, has added to his list of pub­li­ca­tions in other venues. He has a poem in the #5 issue of Black­box Man­i­fold, and will be review­ing works by Robert V. Wil­son in the next issue of that mag­a­zine. Robert also wrote the introduction for George Spencer’s new journal, Far Out Further Out Out of Sight, and helped him with the launch. George Spencer has contributed several poems to Spinozablue as well. We wish him the best of luck with his new magazine.

The Unnameable

The Unnameable

Kandinsky’s Composition X. 1939


 Composition as Cipher, or Number. The work after his ninth, or a painting to represent all paintings. Whatever his intentions regarding the title, the painting strikes me as musical, like pretty much all of his art, and he wanted that music to come from within all viewers so that they could become seers like Kandinsky. The inner artist meeting the work on the wall and turning it into a tunnel back to themselves. A tunnel with ears.

In your works, you have realized what I, albeit in uncertain form, have so greatly longed for in music. The independent progress through their own destinies, the independent life of the individual voices in your compositions is exactly what I am trying to find in my paintings.

— letter to Schönberg, 1911, after the performance of Schönberg’s second string quartet and the “Three piano pieces.”

George Spencer brings us a new poem below about things that perhaps shouldn’t have a name, like poems, and things that could or should populate those works. Riffing from a work by John Ashbery, he plays the meta-game and finds a few new twists. Here’s an audio clip of Ashbery reading the poem within the poem in question, with a short intro:

 And Ut Pictura Poesis Is Her Name, by John Ashbery



George Spencer: Untitled

George Spencer: Untitled

No Title


You can’t say it that way any more. / Bothered about beauty you have to/Come out into the open, into the clearing,/ And rest.  Certainly whatever funny happens to you/ Is OK

And Ut Pictura Poesis Is Her Name,  John Ashbery


The greatest problem in the arts today is the title; this tag that tells us what something is about: Battle of…,  Portrait of….,  Bowl of… Of course this gives even the most humble subject a coat of arms, presto a seigniorial dwelling, white picket fence and garden, all the dignity it deserves and Sunday painters so admire. But is this good? This, I would argue, has infected poetics, this aboutness, this supernatural force like it can’t be escaped. It’s the tongue lolling like a lazy sunflower tropistic by default.  But now I’m bored with this riff and need to take off in another direction which reminds me that most people can read maps,  understand the conventions. There are others that are bored with cartography and prefer unreliable directions from the guys at the gas pump. I think this was really what Rabelais and Cervantes did.  They were great travelers, happy never seeming to get there. That’s why don Q, Sancho P and Pantagruel so love the circumloquacious travels of a John Ashbery poem.



— George Spencer



Copyright©2009 by George Spencer. All Rights Reserved.

George Spencer: Get it Right the First Time

George Spencer: Get it Right the First Time

Alexander Calder, 20th century neglected master, said a piece is finished when the dinner bell rings. Clearly he knew truth was ass-backward. Beethoven’s Ninth is pretty good backward too; maybe better. Poor guy, a captive of his times, pressured by the Imperial Court. He had to code his message but he should have outfaced the constabulary and started with the hosannas and cheering and work back thru the darker parts, slogging thru piles of hubris. It’s clear it’s music about a type of joy that’s temporary. Myself, I always bear this in mind. Anyway it’s finished when it’s finished, when it’s as good read backward as forward. Some agree saying put Molly Bloom at the beginning. Others disagree. They say, when looking at Pollock or Gorky you must always start in the upper right hand corner. And there’s Beatrice in a short skirt. I’m in the subway. It’s always full of Dante’s people. She’s pulling her skirt down to cover her panties and anyway how can she, Beatrice you know, make a skirt the size of a handkerchief into a curtain and I can’t tell if it’s modesty or the metal seat’s cold. How many eyes are glued on her? All the scholars for sure.  This one guy’s hitting on her and Virgil’s the conductor so it’s getting pretty heavy here so let’s climb up a couple of circles and talk in peace in a little coffee shop as the snow quiets the streets. Then I’m going to my dermatologist. She deals in surfaces. She has special lighting/magnification equipment to get all the details…


 — by George Spencer


George Spencer’s Obscene Richness of Our Times is due out in 2009 (Poets Wear Prada). He is translating poems from the Ecuadorian slam series he started, to be published as Slamming in Quito. Recent poems appeared in CLWN WR, Poetry MidWest, Caveat Lector, Stained Sheets, NewVerseNews, Phoenix and 63 Channels.

 Copyright ©2009, by George Spencer. All Rights Reserved.



The Mystery of the Rose

The Mystery of the Rose

Mysteries, by Knut Hamsun. 1892

Okay. So, yes. The title of my blog post is a bit misleading, if not melodramatic. It’s a bald attempt to merge two new additions to Spinozablue — by Alexis Wingate and George Spencer, respectively. Here and here. Alexis brings us a provocative essay on Knut Hamsun’s novel, Mysteries, and George gives us his unique improvisation from a line of Barbara Guest’s poetry.

But there is a precedent for that merger. Women and roses have been connected for millennia, in obvious and covert ways. Mysterious ways. Wild, secret, deep under the surface ways. Secret societies used The Rose as a multi-faceted symbol for woman, growth, love, birth, beauty, the unfolding of life, surprise, shock and awe. Perhaps Dagny is Hamsun’s rose. Barbara Guest used the symbol in a variety of forms as well. Its range runs the gamut from the subconscious to the easily seen and back again.

The ancient Greeks linked the rose with Aphrodite, and the Romans used it as a sort of talisman to protect secrets. The Latin phrase, sub rosa (under the rose) means secretive or private. Christian symbology associates rose petals with the wounds of Jesus, and the rose itself with Mary. At various times during the course of Christian history, these associations have been accepted or rejected, depending in part upon the degree of tolerance for ancient “pagan” beliefs and rituals.

Much has been said about roses in literature, paintings, music and so on. It seems Gertrude Stein tried to have the last word:

Rose is a rose is a rose.

Like Andy Warhol’s soup cans, we can poeticize exhaustion, add comedic touches, make the point that things are what they are, but we really can’t stop the flow of human expression and attention to Mystery. We really can’t stop minds racing for connections to the unseen, the unknown, the forgotten or the misplaced. We will always search under the rose for new meanings.


George Spencer’s The Guesting Rose

George Spencer’s The Guesting Rose

A Line from Barbara Guest’s Roses

That air in life is important but may be less so in the arts interests me. But we are 60% water and worth $28.49 in bone, fat and chemicals so should we focus more on water and $’s and less on air. But you may respond the atmosphere that encases us is all air but this is not completely true since there is pollution and those little filaments we see when light shafts float into a room and illuminate the air. Then we see what we think is truly there. Of course this ignores the question of the further reaches of space where air may be solid and water may be a gas. Then we would have to understand plants differently since plants would have to adjust and worms and beetles too.  Maybe there is some type of traveling incognito and mysterious communication that happens in the air, a space that, for all we know, is a proscenium arch theater? And are our plants mutations or an advanced evolutionary form or just poor cousins? So perhaps we should start by admitting that we know very little even about what goes on in our own heads let alone the heads of our neighbors, of course speaking both literally and metaphorically?  It is why one develops an attitude toward roses picked in the morning air, even roses without sun shining on them. I had hoped that looking at parts of her poem might help me understand her intentions. That did not work. Then I took from her poem the line above and used it to start writing this poem after a period when I felt I was neither water nor air. Only emptiness.  Now I reread her poem and it is perhaps slowly opening a little to me like young roses that, frozen in time and space in a painting, offer themselves but will never deliver all their rosiness leaving to us to imagine the still  hidden or perhaps sadly not.
— by George Spencer
George Spencer’s Obscene Richness of Our Times is due out in 2009 (Poets Wear Prada). He is translating poems from the Ecuadorian slam series he started, to be published as Slamming in Quito. Recent poems appeared in CLWN WR, Poetry MidWest, Caveat Lector, Stained Sheets, NewVerseNews, Phoenix and 63 Channels.
Copyright ©2009, by George Spencer. All Rights Reserved.

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