The Gift Project 2005

Sunday, September 25, 2005

These 20 postcard poems were written to the contributors in the Jill Magi gift project. I looked through my box of cardboard and found 13 boxes of White Rose Onion Soup and Party Dip Mix. I thought about how much of the cardboard I wanted to use, if I wanted to trim it down further so it could be mailed at postcard, and not first class, rate. I went to my local post office to show the whole box to a postal employee and ask about whether a nonmachinable surcharge would apply, and was told it wouldn’t if I would orient the cardboard like a postcard. I saw the stamps that were set out and instantly knew I wanted the Buckminster Fuller one. On my walk home I knew I had a Fuller book in my library and thought it could be fun to incorporate it in the project. So I located the book, Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, and decided to take the first line on each of the first 20 pages of text, to correspond in order with the 20 names on the gift publishing address list. I then thought what music Fuller might have been listening to back then, and grabbed my Jefferson Airplane collection 2400 Fulton Street, and played it while I wrote these cards. One postcard each was mailed to the 20 different people listed below. Here are all 20.

Poem beginning with a line from R. Buckminster Fuller

To Joanna Sondheim
#1, 9.22.05—12:35 p.m.

I am enthusiastic over humanity’s extraordinary and improbable ability to retain all the lyrics to songs by Kool and the Gang some two decades after they were released. Now, mind you, there was a time when Kool and the Gang ruled the world, and some of their songs have survived that time passage, but only some, and only lyrical improbability continues.

To Ellen Baxt
#2, 9.22.05—12:46 p.m.

too often inadvertently, in earliest childhood, we wet our beds, though later we discover it wasn’t inadvertent, but because of anxieties we were dealing. in summer camp if we wet our beds we had to wash the sheets ourselves and then hang them on our bunk’s clothesline so everyone would soon know who wet their bed.

To Tracy Grinnell
#3, 9.22.05—12:51 p.m.

seem to get melted up about every 25 seconds when i’m near her, every 25 seconds, and i barely know her and maybe that’s why every 25 seconds, every 25 seconds, it’s this melting, it’s this stopping the world and melting with her.

To Matvei Yankelevich
#4, 9.22.05—12:58 p.m.

First I’d like to explore a few thoughts about the dilemma in choosing the occasional nighttime snack foods. I used to buy potato chips, pretzels, sour cream, and onion dip, but lately I’ve been wanting to stay away from the sour cream and have been buying tortilla chips and salsa, the salsa much better for me and filled with corn and beans, too.

To Albert Flynn DeSilver
#5, 9.24.05—3:34 p.m.

All universities have been progressively organized, but how progress is defined here is the question to pose when you hear that statement “All universities have been progressively organized.” I’m not sure if organizers have learned from the mistakes of the previous, if they have attempted to have progressive agendas, or if, ultimately, even education was a job just.

To Sarah Rosenthal
#6, 9.24.05—3:42 p.m.

of course, we are beginning to learn a little in the absence, of hair brushes and yarn, of hocus and pocus, of i saw you, and i saw you, and i saw you, this mantra method sitting here, now walking and always breathing. of you living near the most beautiful post office in the world, not by architectural standards but by the measure of their boxholders’ publishing output. it was my post office once.

To Katey Nicosia
#7, 9.24.05—3:53 p.m.

make out better than the others.” It was the most he’d said to me in weeks and I didn’t quite know what to think. He’d usually left all this boy-girl stuff alone, and I’d never thought making out to be a competitive sport, even after this directive. and the last woman I made out with I’d met at the Ralph Kramden statue outside Port Authority after her bus in from Jersey and long phone calls before we headed to the only bar in my neighborhood I like.

To Shin Yu Pai
#8, 9.24.05—4:02 p.m.

built and operated, first, local river and bay, next, i hadn’t gone on my older brother’s boat since he took it out of the water, unable to pay to dock it, and had it up on blocks in his backyard like that 1931 Model A he never quite restored in our driveway when i was a kid and he was still seven years older.

To Mark Lamoureux
#9, 9.24.05—4:15 p.m.

we see the specialization being greatly amplified and impairing all manner of dissection, all grandeur and predilection, all phobias and elections that find themselves in troubled times, with artificial limns, and butchered hymns, and always alice, whitening and frightening and passing the magician’s assistant and nothing.

To Brenda Iijima
#10, 9.24.05—4:25 p.m.

to the, everywhere around the world, amazed by how my back feels, how my neck feels, how they feel like victory. crooked and crunched and bent and creating. The Jefferson Airplane are singing of Saturday afternoon and it is Saturday afternoon and I’m creating, crooked and crunched and bent and creating i am.

To Jill Magi
#11, 9.24.05—4:34 p.m.

forced—“national” claim upon humans born in Brooklyn, but how does this effect me? i grew up in Flatbush from birth until almost 10, but I was born in Doctor’s Hospital opposite Gracie Mansion in Manhattan, but I’ve always considered myself to be born in Brooklyn, though my literalness compelled me to answer Manhattan when obtaining my passport seven years ago.

To Michael Willard
#12, 9.24.05—5:44 p.m.

obviously we need to pursue further the origins of us, the parameter of we, it’s evident. go grab that old bottle of Ketel One off the top of the fridge. Why do we still have this? If you tell me I may let you keep it, if you don’t I’m throwing it away. It’s your lucky bottle? Huh? Oh, you hooked up with two different women after drinking with them from this bottle. The origins of us maybe.

To Alicia Askenase
#13, 9.24.05—5:49 p.m.

they preclude possible discovery of the significance of birthplaces and deathplaces of when is someone most themselves and what makes them them, the rattle of a hand when gripping another’s when walking, almost all days gone, almost all life experiences lived and now slowed down, or is it the initial, the steps first ginger, when formation ensues, when doing is being.

To Jennifer Firestone
#14, 9.24.05—5:55 p.m.

had high proficiency in dealing with celestial seasonings tea, of alternating between lemon and red zinger and peppermint for nighttime cooldowns. the next time i head to Boulder to go to Naropa i would like to tour the Celestial Seasonings plant much like i did the Hershey’s plant as a boy.

To Johannah Rodgers
#15, 9.24.05—6:01 p.m.

Operating under the patronage of the Duke University varsity men’s basketball team he became a man of letters. Yes, a man of letters sponsored by lettermen. They were washing cars and selling cookies, fresh baked cookies. The money they earned scalping their seats didn’t go into their pockets, but to sponsor this man of letters. Coach K said former player Grant Hill, a piano player since childhood, started this during his playing days.

To Dana Lomax
#16, 9.24.05—6:09 p.m.

Commandants of the Navy yards where they set their motorized crafts into the sea, they would audition each of the boys who wanted their ships to enter their water, and sometimes permit them to get wet alongside their boats.

To Donald Breckenridge
#17, 9.24.05—6:17 p.m.

Ships and naval bases commanding all the great fleet enemas of all the great asses needing cleaning before their proctologist probing were there. it was a delicate operation, but they were cleaned out, they were lima beaned out, they were fill the soup tureened out.

To Gina Myers
#18, 9.24.05—6:29 p.m.

and conquer.” You divide up the other man’s ships and conquer. That’s what you do, conquer. be sure you never see the whites of their eyes, this will make it harder to conquer. Take it long-range, take it Red Grange, gallop, gallop, conquer.

To David Kirschenbaum
#19, 9.24.05—6:34 p.m.

claim. The more massively bejeweled the king’s gold the more massive the king. ’tis true. His massiveness bedecked in gold, on his fingers and his toes, having not seen his sweet friend Gypsy Rose. Even gold inner soles in his shoes for support, his size 22 shoes.

To Lydia Cortes
#20, 9.24.05—6:41 p.m.

specialization. Of course, it took great wealth to make his life go away, erasing himself from public records, and then all copies of newspapers’ archives, all electronic versions and all microfilm and then rewiring all the brains of anyone who ever knew him. It took great wealth to make his life go away and he still had more in the bank.