Stein 100: A Feather Likeness of the Justice Chair

A feather table: reckless gratitude. 
It is that-there that means best. 

White the green grinding trimming thing! 
The disgrace, like stripes.
More selection, slighter intention. 

Rosewood stationing is use journey: curious dusty empty length. 
Winged cake: the cake, the plan that neglects to make color certainly. 
Time long could winter: elegant consequences monstrous. 
So much and guided holders garments are—and arrangements. 
Staring then that when sudden same time's necessary, that circular 
     same's more necessary, not actually aching.

And why special? 
Not left straw, the chain's the missing, was white winningly and 
     occasion's entirely strings. 
Reason is sullenness: it's there that practices left when six into 
     nothing narrow, resolute, suggests all beside that plain seam. 
Pencils, mutton, asparagus: the table there. 
There reddening is not to change that in such absurd surroundings. 
Considering clearly, a feather's large second heat is there. 
There that thing which smells that whistles that there's denial, 
     difference, surfeit-dated choices—everything trembling 

Imitation?—imitation is a joy gurgle. 
Best bent, likely disappointed. 
Cake season's not more than most. 
That cake makes no larder likely. 
Not a single protection is even temporarily standing. 
Sugar and lard there are sudden and shaming. 
That single set comes orderly. 
There the remarkable witness made no more settlement than 
Increase the way steak colored coffee. 
Wheatly that music half-noisy. 
Reason's decline is not a little grainy. 

This means taste where toe-washing is reasonable. 
Salmon carriage?—action hanging. 
Scene bits and this nervous draught don't satisfy elevation, 
There is no change.
Much was temporary behind that center and much was formerly 
Then the then-triumphant showed their disagreeable hidden worries. 
The chair asked the speech be repeated, supposing 
It is just summer. 
Another section has a light likeness to pedestrianism. 
Which is light? 
That used this there. 
The chair's justice: nothing-colored mercy.
No, perhaps some is likely. 

That is not a genuine bargain. 
There preparation so suits white bands' singing and redness that the 
     same sight's a simpler splendor. 
No, not the same. 
Wishing the same is not quite the same as a different arrangement. 
Any measure washed is brighter than an occasional string set. 
A precocious nothing discolors that extract sooner than showing its 
A bag place chain room winningly reasons with shining hair. 
What with supposing without protection, no wound is sudden. 
Coloring sullenness rushes bottom reason in gilded country. 
What if it shows? 
Necessarily, the whole thing there is shining. 
Is that anything? 
More single women stitch tickets. 
To show difference exudes reliability. 
Inside that large silver likeness, Hope tables thick coal. 
Coal makes morning furnaces darker,
Joy and success are exceptions. 

Four suggest a sadder surrender. 
Pretence and cheaper influences are staining tender Pride there. 
Sort out that little sink. 
Why is the size of the baking remainder something that resembles 
     light more than cutting? 
This cheese is more calm than anything solitary. 
It is still an occasion for bottom anticipation. 
Reason's season cracked that which was ripe. 
Nearly all were neglected by blessing, not without nervous actions. 
He's readily beginning to seed the cheese and estrange the Whites. 
The celery curled its lashes at the slam. 
Not-so-heated reason will be little able to satisfy another. 
This was formerly much used as a charming chair. 
Pedestrianism showed itself triumphant and disagreeable. 
That which was hidden worried them. 
They asked that her speech be repeated. 
Summer light bears a likeness to justice. 
Then the light is supposing attention. 
That section has a resemblance to light. 
Is it a likeness of the justice chair?


From the "Stein" series. Copyright © 1999 by Jackson Mac Low. Previously unpublished. Reprinted with permission.

About this Poem

"Eight strophes initially drawing upon the whole text of Gertrude Stein's Tender Buttons. I sent the entire text through DIASTEX5 (Charles O. Hartman's 1994 update of DIASTEXT [1989], his automation of one of my diastic text-selection procedures [1963], using as a seed text the fifty-third paragraph of the book (exclusive of titles, etc), which begins, "A fact is that when any direction is just like that, . . ." I selected the paragraph by random-digit chance operations using the RAND Corporation's table A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates. (The Free Press, 1955).

My source and seed texts came from the first edition of Tender Buttons, issued by Donald Evan's publishing house Claire Marie (1914), as posted online in The Bartleby Archive (1995) and The New Bartleby Library (1999), both edited by Steven van Leeuwen, with editorial contributions by Gordon Dahlquist. However, I incorporated in my file of Tender Buttons fourteen corrections written in ink in Stein's hand, which Ulla E. Dydo found in Donald Sutherland's copy of this edition, now owned by the Special Collections of the University of Colorado at Boulder.

I mined the program's output for words which I included in 117 sentences (several elliptical and each one a verse line) by changes and/or additions of suffixes, pronouns, structure words, forms of "to be," etc. and changes of word order. Initially, in making these sentences, I placed lexical words' root morphemes near others that were near them in the raw output—in fact I included many phrases, and even whole verse lines, of unedited, though punctuated, ouput, mostly in early strophes—but I was able to do this less and less in the course of writing the poem.

While composing the 117 verse-line sentences, I divided them into eight strophes that successively comprise numbers of sentences corresponding to the prime-number sequence 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19."

—Jackson Mac Low, New York: 20 September 1999