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Jackson Mac Low


Jackson Mac Low was born in Chicago on September 12, 1922. He was a poet and composer, and a writer of performance pieces, essays, plays, and radio works. He was also a painter and multimedia performance artist, and often worked in collaboration with his wife, Anne Tardos. Mac Low's books include Two Plays: The Marrying Maiden and Verdurous Sanguinaria (Green Integer Books, 1999), 20 Forties (Zasterle Press, 1999), Barnesbook (1996), 42 Merzgedichte in Memoriam Kurt Schwitters (1994), Pieces o' Six: Thirty-three Poems in Prose (1992), and Twenties: 100 Poems (1991), as well as the compact disc Open Secrets (1993), comprising eight works performed by Anne Tardos, Mac Low, and seven instrumentalists.

Educated at the University of Chicago and Brooklyn College, he taught at many schools, notably the Mannes School of Music (1966) and New York University (1966-73). In has taught creative writing and lectured at SUNY-Albany, SUNY-Binghamton, Temple, UC-San Diego, Naropa Institute, Schule für Dichtung in Wien (Vienna), Bard College, and Brown University.

He was the recipient of fellowships and grants from the Creative Artists Public Service Program, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, PEN, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. He received the the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets in 1999. Jackson Mac Low lived in New York City with his wife until his death on December 8, 2004.

Jackson Mac Low
Photo credit: Anne Tardos

By This Poet


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?

Forties 30: Troelstrup Nightmare Flare Competition

Troelstrup nightmare risen     quiz motivátion-issue tincture reality
twélve-knit tissue crest     nést-modulation excrescence nativity
flý-by-níght trilateral tusk     tenser flagrant rag     mortal
limp insistence ancilla Detroit     tourmaline torque encarceled discography metal 
    alert     turnabout         Timorese
liquid equipment Falásha                twíce-tóld

Notice     emblematic tamper     various     mérit-badge particulars     tango anoint soporific
flicker monastic inéquity-requital     fóreigner-enactment
toast     nótion-counter ASCII fortune loris          lordosis
sole     Mon tortilla ferocity laminated klieg     Mittwoch deuce     dapple     nepotism 
    rábbit-page          Nanook alleluia
noûs capíto eastern scholia strobe

Liberá me    end of Borrómmlio fair as two trace          reply
our room     quando coeli movéndi sunt unscheduled saint in progress sticker
laboratory victim     metonymic strait     safehouse mix
ticket activity fantasy answer encyclical láff-movie Rupert in serigraph rubric telepathy sappy 
    paper sapience odds
grow     sac melography metaphor axial

Sank     drift     cyclic metaphysics amylation tocks deco_
Nostradamus income tax excerpted fa-lá     twist     cove
summarized eightfold share     appearances dance endure
atom-come-and-góne-again taking different forms     passing dream     bad tomatoes unfolding 
    into the light          no     real     self
persist in that union forever

Persia couplets Sufism section     merchant parrot sorry
zeal increasingly wary of slogans     Dallas reforms     television
Cuba's foreign trade excéss     ideological álly     sugar     oil
rationing purity earlier petrol fumes     cue          now-it's-wórse     hurt     everything'll come 
    despised     difficulties doubt
not in social prop          áptitude-depict 

Political pester to click     yeárs-execution     held for nonviolent
sentence conditions abuses admit     basically fearfully
armed economist     distant enthusiasm dense     impossible town
improve eclectic witness latest fuse     hula radio map     pole they hold     sanctions imposed on 
    violator loch installations
optimistic place resolve     shéd-jewel beat

Neither the wherewithal nor the subdominant topical speculate
involved interlocutor confident rich     wínter-par stucco
virtually key     decision slake discovery repudiate a long way off
influx of likely condemn     hostile application ripening justice labor remainder integral Münster 
    reminder provisional
meaningful change     largely invited observers

Court sforzando journalist     Irawaddy délta-area separatist
flagpole valiant local Midol pressure     immer-adorátion pasture
selfish figures cancel leísure-potential méssed-up plants
how well government harvest Albania probe across the Balkan state     chunnel critiques support 
    foreseeable sea
foreseeable Hague     flare competition



Caesural spaces = durations of silence and/or prolongations of 
final phonemes or syllables:
               4 letter spaces [    ] = 1 unstressed syllable;
8 letter spaces [        ] = 1 stressed syllable or beat; 16 letter 
spaces [                ] = 2 beats;
none occurs between typographical lines; breath pauses at verse-line 
endings ad lib.


Nonorthographic acute accents indicate stresses, not vowel qualities. 
Each hyphenated compound is read as one extended word: somewhat more 
rapidly than other words but not hurried. [ - ] indicates a 
slowed-down compound (each member, one beat). Indented typographical 
lines continue verse lines begun above them. 

Twenties 26

Undergone swamp ticket   relative 
whist natural sweep   innate bicker 
flight notion  reach out tinsel reckoning 
bit  straddle  iniquitous ramble stung

Famous furniture instant paschal 
passionate Runnymede licorice 
feature departure   frequency gnash 
lance    sweat lodge rampart crow

Neck Bedlam philosophaster rain drape 
lack fragile limitation   bitartrate 
fence lenghen tinge impinge  classed 
Fenster   planetary knocked market

Glass killjoy vanity  infanta part song 
king  cleanse vast chromium watch it 
neat      intense yellow cholera 
ornithology insistence     pantry

Torque normal fax center globe host 
yammer ratchet     zinc memory 
yield  texture  tenure   Penelope 
reed liter   risible stashed incomprehension

             11 February 1990
          Kennedy Airport. New York
           en route to San Diego

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