Mike Topp

 

 

 

 

A few more observations, haiku, extremely short stories, by Mike Topp

who lives and works in a large, Eastern metropolis, but who can be reached

at mike_topp@hotmail.com.

 

 

 

 

LOUVRE

 

I first visited Paris at the time I was finishing my doctorate in art

history. I was shown through the Louvre by someone from Paris who had an

enormous familiarity with the collection. After viewing all this great

art, I began to feel ill. I thought that I was having an aesthetic

experience. The next day in Belgium, I learned that I had food

poisoning.

 

 

 

 

FRUIT BOWL

 

A painter fell in love with a bowl of fruit. They enjoyed each other so

fully that they hardly ate or slept for two months and a half. One

morning the painter received the visit of an important person, who

bought all his paintings and had them exhibited in a famous museum. The

bowl of fruit was on the cover of an art magazine owned by the same

person. The painter and the bowl of fruit bought a castle in Spain. They

became farmers, read books, and helped needy people.

 

 

 

TWO HAIKU

 

 

THE WHITE HORSE

 

It farts three times,

the white horse,

then silence.

 

SUMMER

 

Mosquito at my ear

a takeout menu

slides under the door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

UNTITLED

 

 

Frozen together,

What are they dreaming?

French fries

 

 

 

 

 

SOY BOMB

Summer 1998

New York City

 

POEM

temperate barometer radical weathermen

 

POEM

I shot

Taylor Mead

 

RHODE ISLAND

Nothing to write home about.

You and what army.

A ratís ass.

As if.

 

POEM

Connecticut

Italy

Rhode Island

Sicily

 

WHITE SPOTS

Moisturizer is the answer.

 

THIS

This fly

doesnít know

itís in my room.

 

 

 

PERSONAL

20 yo old black male seeks young lady (18+) to punish me and my bare

bottom. There are no strings attached.

 

AMERICA

That Frosted Flakes--even after the introduction of Count Chocula and

Golden Grahams--is still the number one cereal ought, it would seem, to

restore oneís faith in something.

 

MR. SHOW

One Sunday I woke up on my couch and the Virgin Mary was ringing the

doorbell. I opened the door and the woman looked shocked. Then I looked

down, and I had puke all over me. It was orange, because Iíd been

drinking screwdrivers the night before. I apologized and invited her in,

and then she raped me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

POECILOBRYON AURATUS

 

We aren't the Pencil Fish of Brazil,

we don't swim in a most peculiar manner,

we don't hold our bodies at an angle of forty-five degrees

with our heads up,

we aren't related to the Nannostonus,

lateral stripes

aren't our chief color pattern.

Step step step,

the fresh morning breeze,

step step step

the fresh morning breeze.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PHRASES I HEARD IN DREAMS

 

"Day by day

they take some brain away."

"I donít want my brain warshed."

 

 

JOSEPH BRODSKY

 

One day I saw Joseph Brodsky at a cafe and asked if he had any advice

for a young poet.

He said, "Donít use too many adjectives."

 

 

AQUEDUCT QUATRAINS

 

Bouncing Around

Jet Black

Exuberant Slew

Pearl Blossom

Diguiseindeed

American Double

Distinctual

Livy

Milliondollarsmile

Ms. Star Duster

Jade Sky

Rose Creek Rose

Mr. Sinatra

Wild Tempest

Private Song

Fire King

Punch Line

Premium

Oro de Mexico

Johnny Legit

 

 

ADULT MONEY

 

Iím spending all my adult money at once!

$9.95 for On Golden Blonde,

$12.95 for Girlsí Town,

$29.95 for Big Butt Latin Babes.

Goodbye, adult money!

 

 

OUR TOWN

 

Hooterville

Gilliganís Island

 

 

 

 

 

(UNTITLED)

My girlfriend and I were at the beach when she commented on how

appealing she found a seagull that was eating nearby. I told her that it

wasn't cute, that it might not even really be a bird.

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEW NONALCOHOLIC BEERS

 

Emptyhauser

Vacantmeister

Blanch

 

 

 

 

 

DEATH TRIP

When I am alone, I see pigs covered with mud and a car full of devils.

The guns in the closet are the first guns to come out. They are not

enemies but partners. I hope it rains tomorrow. Tehn all doubts and

suspicions will disappear.

FAVORITE COLOR

My favorite

color on

barns is red

but on people

I mean ghosts

it's blue.

FLAUBERT'S KITCHEN

People are like food. There are lots of people who seem to me like Cool

Whip: party hardy, lasts for weeks, and a chemist's delight (sorbitan

monostearate, polysorbate 60, and xanthum gum). Other people are like

Slim Jims, Spam, Wonder Bread from General Mills, Jello-O (in shimmering

Crayola-crayon colors), Tater Tots, and Twinkies. Me? I'm like Hamburger

Helper, without the hamburger. No longer will your pebbly ground beef

need to loll repulsively in a puddle of its own grease in a frying pan

while you hunt in vain for a can of Veg-All or lima beans to disguise

its oily nakedness.

WHAT DO BOOKS SAY?

You cannot live a minute longer without oxygen. You are being held

underwater by the Industrial Revolution. You leave for China the next

day, hoping to find the notebooks of Louis Braille.

Not necessary.

POLICE STORY

The police told me to continue what I was doing, and to spread joy and

revolution.

THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS

Aeresol cheese, Muzak, monster trucks, maraschino cherries, artificial

Christmas trees, eating at Hellenic diners while wearing elevator shoes.

HIS INSOMNIA

"If you don't go to people's funerals, they won't go to yours."

 

 

 

 

TRADITION AND TRANSMISSION: THE POETRY OF MIKE TOPP

 

 

Mike Topp is a poet in the manner of Adam (he of Paradise). As John

Rockwell put it, in The New York Times, "As the unchallenged father

figure of American experimental poetry, Mr. Topp wields an influence

that extends far beyond his words alone . . . Indeed, the entire art,

fashion, and club scene in downtown Manhattan would be unthinkable

without Mr. Toppís poetry, writing, and genially avuncular personality."

Two anecdotes may suggest a tentative definition of Topp. Alice Quinn

invited me to lunch with Topp at Katzís delicatessen on Houston Street.

(February 14th, 1999). While enjoying some excellent borscht, we were

joined by Hal Sirowitz. During the entire meal, Topp said nothing,

except at one point to make a rather silly (I thought) reference to his

new "borscht belt." He ate only some party mix, with cheez doodles, and

wadded the wrapper into a ball. Later that same day, however, I noticed

that something had changed: a joyful sun lit up the depths of my soul.

On another occasion, I had the good fortune to spend a weekend with

Topp. This was a Sunday, and his wife, at the time, was going into Paris

on the train. Some time in the morning, Topp got a call from her and she

had gotten off the train. She was sobbing. She had lost her ring and

Topp said, "Well, I know where it is." He walked upstairs, went into the

bedroom, put his hand between the mattress and box springs. Went in up

to his shoulders, got the ring, came back down and said, "Iíve got it

right here." And thatís a true story.

To turn from the man to the work: This sampling of Topp is long overdue,

partly at least because Topp himself wanted no part of it; our thanks

should go to the editors of Real Poetik magazine for assiduous literary

detective work in tracking down some of the more fugitive manuscripts

here. For instance, there had been rumors about the early haiku for

years; but it was not until November 1998 that one of the editors came

across a haiku copied out on the back of an envelope addressed in

Sparrowís hand:

I have discovered that by using a very long straw,

I can drink soda

from my neighborís apartment.

The postmodern line, as Albert Mobilio pointed out in a review of Take a

Seat: I Have to Tell You Something, creates a tense transition between

the delicate efforts of the early lyrics, like "Come In," with its

Calf, calf,

polka-dot calf,

Mother Cow

is a polka-dot cow.

Look like Mommy.

to the rich irrationalism of Toppís later work, which has had such a

profound influence on Anselm Berrigan:

To be serious is expensive

Thereís a nickel in my apartment

Often someone blows me

Off but you know what they say

About honey bears when you pluck

Topp without question must rank among the foremost contemporary poets.

His humor is reminiscent of Hilton Kramerís. He is also indebted to Erik

Satie, as the French spirit has sometimes tapped him on the shoulder,

and he has joyfully felt its ironically glacial bite. If there is one

key figure who is a key to the whole, it is Topp, standing as he does at

the crossroads of the New York School, traditionalism, the Jack Kerouac

School of Disembodied Poetics, the New Romantics, appropriation,

creationism, L-A-N-G-U-A-G-E, lettrism, formalism, Mike & Dale, Straight

Edge, spoken word, Edwin Torres, Bob and Ray, Joe Brainard, William

Wegman, the Oulipo, Dr. Ducky Doolittle, Eileen Myles, Elaine Equi,

Grand Slam, OGM, voyeurism, masculinism, feminism, webzinism, Kenneth

Rexroth, the Beats, neo-Between C&D, the Nuyorican, the Gathering of the

Tribes, the New Gothic, rap, the soi-distant Tulsa School, Maggie Estep,

Bob Holman, Miguel Algarin, Darius James, Chloe Vevrier, Tracie Morris,

Jewel, Jeff Stryker, Ron Kolm, Sander Hicks, Steve Cannon, Steve

Buscemi, Michael Portnoy, postmodern art for young executives, the

Unbearables, Maoism, Zionism, Marxism, and Leonism.

 

Marvin Taylor

Fales Library

New York University

New York City, 1999

 

 

 

 

SUBURBAN EXPLORATION

 

On vacation. The map. A tour guide. What is it? Heís right! The basement

workshop where baseball was invented.

 

 

 

DODGE BALL

 

They are all playing dodge ball. Oh, how sad! A well-meaning teacher

starts to speak. They all start crying. Poor coach! Heís trying to fly a

kite in the gymnasium.

Y2K

Donít miss this one!

"Very interesting."

"Good."

"Very intriguing."

"Really good."

 

CAME HOME EARLY

 

His wife came home early. She hid in one of the drawers.

 

VERY MOVING

 

Very affectionate

Very boring

Very carefully

Very Christian

Very down to earth

Very far away

Very lost

Very much

Very nice

Very sheepish

Very shining

Very silent

Very suitable

Very white

 

TURKEY

Under the pomegranates

Up on your fingers

 

ABDUL & CLEOPATRA

 

Cleopatra used to let Abdul pet her asp.

Cleopatraís dancing made the monkeys weep.

So she danced on one foot so as not to upset Abdulís parents.

Abdul liked watching her dance.

 

 

 

 

THE BEACH

My girlfriend and I were at the beach when she commented on how

appealing she found a seagull that was eating nearby. I told her that it

wasnít cute, that it might not even really be a bird.

 

 

 

Mike Topp