Thursday, May 2, 2024

Stephen Bett, excerpts from SongBu®st


 SongBu®st (BlazeVOX, 2024), Stephen Bett
Cover image by Geoffrey Gatza



Breaking into song, or breaking it apart? Maybe a bit of both. Simultaneously a celebration & a send up of iconic pop culture lyrics.


That Micropoetics Buddy


Stop the tape

it aint Peggy Sue


— cool at the loo

(ah hey, fountains R us)


Every day it’s a gettin’ vaster

’til some mutt says go ahead ’n ask her


A hey, a hey hey

that infrathin delay


Blast of gun shot,

bullet hole in target


Gorgeous cover, & ah’m stumped


PS: Love like this will suRly come their way

(a hey, the hay hay)[1]

difference, however miniscule, between two seemingly identical things—eg., looking at an object (hearing a sound, etc.) now, and then one second later; or Duchamp himself noting, the “infrathin separation between the detonation noise of a gun (very close) and the apparition of the bullet hole in the target.”

I couldn’t remember which Buddy Holly song kept the “hey hey” brain-worm in my head; thanks to Carol Reid for remembering, and thus releasing me.

Then there’s Duchamp’s urinal, titled Fountain & signed R. MUTT

And Patrick Stump (originally Stumph—rimes with Donald Drumpf, hey?) did a truly gorgeous cover of this Buddy Holly song, “Every Day.”


Hey, Third Rail Infrathining


Ooh hey, hey, hey

Sunshine on a kick’d back day

Light me up, grrl …


Talkin ’bout

your livewire jag

lyin’ on yer ol’ third rail


I.       guess.       you’d.       say.

What can make me feel that way?

Sounds like live ’Murican gunfire play 


But tell me more …!

glued    — like a stamp to a letter

(like birds of a feather)

says you been charged

poli-sci’d out, runaway Sue


Caint make you’m be untrue


Nuttin’ you could

say or do [2]


That Magic Sailor


I sailed an ocean, unsettled ocean


Magic, magic, magic, magic


Oracle —   more nautical

than prodigal

Polis has eyes on da field


“We are a coast people … no-

thing but ocean out beyond us”

Edge of dumb-struck space


Sail on, sail on sailor

Sunshine kick back day


This magic mo-ment …

so different & so new

(nuttin’ you could say or do)


   Brought to us by our

favorite (third rail) multi

model relational database

management system

(oh please…    please me)


Support your local Global

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure

(New Regions coming soon!)


Sail on, oh magiK Oracle …

Whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh [3]


Infrathin Hall of Mirrors Effect (or, Calling Out the Joneses)


For what it’s worth      ’cause

something is happening here

& you don’t know what it is

do you, Mister Jones?


    Man with a gun over there

telling me I gots to beware


Wait …     it’s Mr Jones his Self! 

that there “Me and Mrs Jones”

We got a THING going on

know it wrong   /   much too strong

let it go now (go now

go now, ooh …


(Feels so suicidal, jes’ like

Bobbie Zee’s clone cojones)


Tarnation …     schlepping wit’ them

damn Joneses       coupla dude-

bro infra-thin’ers

nuttin in ’em       the space

between front & back

sheet a’ paper


What I’m writing is an infra-novel

  … connects the dots   (sailor Jones


Everybody look what’s goin down

whole lotta shakin      rimes they

are a’changED   /   more’n enough

ordnance for y’all


Children, what’s that sound?

Workin on the chain     ya-hay-hain

or lolling themselves

to death (LOL) [4]


The Creeley / Spicer Outtakes



Instant Karma’s gonna get you

Gonna look you right in the face

nuttin’ you can do or say ’bout that one, ace


Well we all shine on

Like the moon and the stars and the sun

Give it up for sailor grrl, happiness sho’s a warm gun

— kickin’ ass on a sunshine day, sport! aint we got fun


            *                  *                  *


He come groovin’ up slowly, he got walrus gumboat

he say will dance, chow down— yo dis’ lumpen brute


He roller-coaster, he got early warnin’

nothing’s out beyond us, it jes’ riding the swells

an empty creel, taint no spice wuz forwarnin’


He say “one and one and one is three”

Got to be so jacked when you’re one-eye at sea

(one to one to one they’s too Unfollowed)


            *                  *                  *


Come together

Right now

Over me


Lordy, lordy …       Q ’n boogaloo

rearin’ up down south

we aint never gon’ free [5]


You put a spell on…  you


You put a spell on…  you

beCAUSE you’re ff-EYE-nn

caint stop the things that you do

no, we aint lyin’


It’s your recombinant flirtation

(odor & colour combo’d)

a singular touch of the marvelous

sewing brain farts together

on the bizarro spectrum

(your tried & true normal)


No, aint buyin’ your fortuitous

backdated gas up w/ sewing

machine & umbrella


Sunshine days you skipped

the light fandango, a

capella, & up the tarantella

(but after… salmonella)


Brainpan chem leaks chill ’n

drill down fried wire, sail on

lighter grades of third rail


Back on the coast we was

feeling kinda seasick,

walleyed circuits always

runnin’ round


Watched you triple down

on the ol’ narrative shtick

(hey hey hey)


So we shone a gloss

on your cabeza [6]


Cubed & Walleyed Leftover


Reprise & refrain


Sugar, ahh,

honey, honey


infra- infra-

thin sides of a sheet


Eye to Eye

Same face


Cross eye

frisson! [7]


Not in the Margins, But (snugly) in the Kerning


I’ll l’ight the fire

You place the flow’ers in the vase

(dude crude lewd…

chick bailiwick shtick)

La-la, la-la-la-la-la


Come to me now (come to me now)

And rest your head for just five minutes

Such a cozy room (such a cozy room)


Y’all CSN  Young cool coots

unkerned it’s N  Y corduroyed off the sill

cozy, cozy       insistent! (in Creel voice)

infra-aged, in that lil’ split second


Our mouse is a very, very, very fine mouse (very fine mouse)

With two cats [bats, rats] in the yard

Life used to be so h’ard

For you “a fluent” faux-freak (zed-head?)

… some kerning & tracking for sure


La-la-la-la, la-la-la-la-la

I (’n) sip it (lol-lol)

if U kern t’ do id


Catchy as catchy can

(aka, rasslin’ w/ Picabia)

coddled catch, all holds bar

two half-C’s on


Snug as a bug in smug

a mis-kerning? [8]


The Great Contender


The man who shot Liberty Valence

clearly didn’t care mucho much for Valencia

(nor likely cross-town rivals VillaRReal)


That derby hall a’ miRRors…    a’gin & redux


When Val rode to town the womenfolk would hide

(Rreal men & transfolk, they’d abide onside)


Give me hibbity jibbity or give me the point of a gun

the only law that [libs] understand

lib·bard·y for not from dems wackos


Rrose Sélavy likely-wise cried snide

in zir Yellow Submarine

(it’s true, #LookItUp!)


Putt it right on the platter

The man who flipped a birdie on yr Lib Pal

— poor Burt Bacharach, dead

at 94 just this week —

He was the [gravest] man of all

he was the Great Contender


Just laughing and gay like a clown

in my town [9]


Inhabiting the Sound Gaps


I said see, C.C. Rider

Oh, see what you have done


You slipped ma’ disc, sailor grrl

Chopper Couture din’t stand a chance


Well now see, see see rider

… SEE what you have done


thIN diff:   dis ultra-tiny-tinny fit

you DISappeared, gap in the hall a’ …



I said see, see see rider (see, see rider)

see what you done done


Doubly (& parenthetically) minced

coma zone-out in my comma


Très infrathin of infra-thin & infra thin

the ol’ miRRor image RE-flect E-ffect overload


So whose fleet feet turns the page

tha’s extreme tenuity   (ThieRRy Davila)


published Dec 17, 2010, at 11:22 am

updated Dec 17, 2010, at 11:22 am


Same Diff times t’ree    — w/in da minute

one & one & two & two


Inhabit every in·ter·val (a hey hey)

C.—gap—C. at sea, oh see here sailor grrl


You are that dancin’ sound


Slippered outta dat vis·U·al hegemony

some différance, n’est pas?


The hear of her·e·sy

what you just Undone


Yas hear don’t see it

Surfer·Grrl [10]


Insta Surfing


Li·ddle surfer, li·ddle one

Made my heart come all Undone


(Sailor’s gurl, heart’s a twURL)


Teeny-tiny itsy dot fitter-upper

reeled in, bought you by Rreal men

(In my Woody them’s would take you…)


Diss ol’ Miss O’ Ginny RE·verse flipped

chic-o-layin’ cutie pie voice print

all over our gooey screens


Do you wuv me, do you wi’dul star-twick one?

(jes’ me & mah Woody)


’N don’ go DISappearing in the gap

there’s have all Rreal womyn gone


Whoa, oh, mercy mercy me

things aint what they used to be


On stage now #FiveSeconds Get·It & Forget·It

please identi·size Rupi Kaur

for Po·it Laur·E·ate

(made 30 mil las’ year!)


Infra-Mincing our way to you,

dear insta·read’R …


Lie-la-lie-lie-lie-lie-lie, lie-lie-lie-lie-lie



Lie-la-lie-lie-lie-lie-lie, lie-lie-lie-lie-lie [11]

Infra Lasting


If it’s infrathin it’s gotta be well short

of “infrasimilar”


As gurl to grrl…


Same diff, or not really?

 (an A’muricanISM)


Go teach your grandmother

to suck electric prunes (dear)

(masquerading in the fridge?)


This crew at sea —

[We’re] not ready to face the light

[We] had too much to dream

Last night


Think dream, sailor

If thinkin’ could be dreamin’

(more than a thin diff)

wch aint for real, that

boat sailed


Well, I told you once an’ I told you twice…


InfraTHIN’s “the very lastness of things

… [a] frail and final minimum before

reality disappears”


(Bang, homesteader)


This could be the last time…

Oh, no      Oh, no-o-o


So darlin’, save the last dance

… us mincing ones


It’ll put your duplicitous reel

on edge [12]


M lettered ready for USE


Last night

Thinkin bout las’ night…


It was reel it back in


It was She-e-e-e-e-e-ry, Sherry bay-yay-bEE


It was mincing up airy-fairy & fiery

— Oh no, oh no, you’re gonna b-u-u-rn! —

right down to the lastest glittery ember


It was rolling round the roses Rosie

mein frau dug infraRED out of sight


It was won’t you come out tonight

pyre higher & higher on a magiK

red-hot-wire carpet flier


It was Sher-err-erry airheads flambée

bloodstains track the hall of miЯRors

(It were nowhere Rreal womyn’d done gone)


It was Sailor Grrl cresting adrift

our on·lie the lone·lie muse, feisty

M lettered ready for USE [13]




Looking out on the mourning drain

I used to feel so Un·In·spired (oow-OOM!)

(Lord, it made me feel so wired)


… ’til Sailor Grrl rode in on the waves

(with Liberty Val & the lib·bard·ies

… thems PO’ets)


Born to it, like (notwithstanding



Nat·U·ral muse-worthy

fender bender syn·the·sizer


Wishin’ & hopin’ (& thinkin’ & prayin’)

gets you dis·harmonized

just a mate’s pre-tender

in tha’ Hall a’ MiRRors


The right grrl, on the left

(we got steely about Miss O’ Ginny)

she weren’t ah’mused

won’t “wear her hair just for him”


Steady rain water on the brain

all fluids a go-go

return to sender [15]

[1] Marjorie Perloff’s new book on micropoetics, Infrathin, gets after Duchamp’s notion of “infrathin”: there is a

[2] The Temptations, “My Girl”; Mary Wells, “My Guy”

[3] The Beach Boys, “Sail On Sailor”; The Drifters, “This Magic Moment”; Jack Spicer’s “coast people” quote, redux (again); Oracle Corp, Silicon Valley: yet another term & concept ripped out of Western Civ.

[4] Buffalo Springfield; Bob Dylan (x2); Billy Paul; Moody Blues; John Lennon; Jerry Lee Lewis; Sam Cooke; Calvin Tomkins, Duchamp: A Biography (p. 346), quoting Duchamp’s front & back sides of a single sheet of paper as another example of “infrathin”; Laurent Binet’s very fine novel HHhH (p. 241), a postmodern historical metafiction as an “infranovel” of infinitesimally fine distinctions over a singular historical event (the assassination of Heydrich, architect of the Final Solution & “Butcher of Prague”)

[5] John Lennon, “Instant Karma” & “Come Together” (& “Happiness…”); Creeley’s “One thing done”: “let / me sing, one to / one to one, and let / me follow” — such loveliness no longer seems possible, given the grotesque rise of white nationalism presently around us

[6] The Alan Price Set, “I Put a Spell on You”; Procol Harem, “A Whiter Shade of Pale”; Philip Lamantia, A Touch of the Marvelous; Comte de Lautréamont: “the fortuitous encounter upon a dissecting-table of a sewing-machine and an umbrella” —“one of the most famous images… to play a major role in surrealist thought and poetics” (S.C. Bett, Incidentally Philip Lamantia: A Study of the Poetics of Surrealism, p. 26)

[7] The Archies (again), “Sugar Sugar”

[8] Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, “Our House”; Marjorie Perloff’s advance praise for derek beaulieu’s VisPo work in his Surface Tension: db’s “poetry of difference, chance, and eruption? Marcel Duchamp would have called it the poetry of infrathin” (my emphasis); one of beaulieu’s poetics’ statements: “Write not just in the margins, but in the kerning”; Creeley’s “Some Place” (“had I, had / I, insistent”);  “Catch as Catch Can”: a late 19th C wrestling phrase used as the title of a 1913 Francis Picabia painting

[9] Gene Pitney, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence” & “The Great Pretender” (the latter also covered by The Platters, & both songs written by Burt Bacharach); properly speaking, Valencia & Villarreal Club Futbol are cross-region derby rivals (the latter’s motto: The Yellow Submarine”); & fondly recalling Grade 4 club Membership Card for “The-Look-It-Up-Club (motto: “We Don’t Just Guess, We Look It Up!”)

[10] Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels’ version of “See See Rider” (aka “C.C. Rider”); C.C., as in Chopper Couture (chopper apparel, huh?); several commentators on Marcel Duchamp’s infrathin or inframince concept, easily googled—among them: quoting Thierry Davila, curator of the Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art (Geneva); David Zerbib’s review of Davila’s book Infrathin: Bref histoire de l’imperceptible, de Marcel Duchamp…(published & updated within the minute, note); Paul Matisse (step-son of Duchamp, & grandson of Henry Matisse, collected & published Duchamp’s notes under the title Inframince: “inframince [is] the very lastness of things…[the] frail and final minimum before reality disappears”

[11] Beach Boys, “Surfer Girl”; Paul Simon, “The Boxer”; Marvin Gaye, “Mercy Mercy Me”; as good an estimation of these ‘identity excl’ Instagram poets as I can see (& time-honoured too): “‘stop deceiving the uneducated crowd / with empty sweetness’ (Metamorphoses 5.308-9) / aesthetically superficial / ethically dishonest” — Joe Safdie, Scholarship, p. 44

[12] The Electric Prunes, “I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)”; Rolling Stones, “The Last Time”; The Drifters, “Save the Last Dance for Me”; Re: “the very lastness”— see Paul Matisse footnote to “Inhabiting the Sound Gaps”; Re: “the real” as duplicitous—see Robin Blaser’s essay on Spicer, “The Practise of Outside”; David Dowker introduces us to his (?) term “infrasimilar” in his poem “The Information Paradox” (Dissonance Engine)

[13] The Traveling Wilburys, “Last Night”; Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons; Arthur Brown, “Burn”

[14] “Coercively Assigned Gender At Birth” (oow-OOM!)

[15] Aretha Franklin, “You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman”; Dusty Springfield, “Wishin’ and Hopin’”; for a very insightful take on Aretha F’s voice see Paul Headrick’s story “The Franklin Chair” in his collection The Doctrine of Affections

Stephen Bett, excerpts from SongBu®st

    SongBu®st  (BlazeVOX, 2024), Stephen Bett Cover image by Geoffrey Gatza SongBu®st   Breaking into song, or breaking it apart? Ma...