Some Mantic Daemons

Futurepoem Books, 2002


With only a chapbook and two modestly sized full collections to his credit, Garrett Kalleberg already seems on the way to establishing a unique presence among the more idiosyncratic voices in contemporary poetry. “Write words” he observes in a poem that derives its impetus from—among other sources—the cold but exacting language of computer operating systems, “and this other stuff happens.” This other stuff, in Kalleberg‘s case, is a dense synthesis of textual echoes—from procedural manuals to spiritual reverie—that achieve a compelling if unstable focus when channeled through the poet’s nearly obsessive state of hyperconsciousness.... It takes time—and no small degree of collaboration—to catch Kalleberg’s feverishly mantic drift, accept his abridgements and turnarounds, his rattling metaphorical contraptions... and nuanced continuities, and learn to immerse oneself in this admitted “theater of tricks.” But there is no denying the gravity of its intent or the brilliance of its invention. —Boston Review.
A prophetic ferocity joins visceral appetite in Garrett Kalleberg’s powerful new collection; spirit and matter couple to spawn a ravishing anxiety, ‘a beautiful disaster.’ For those who wish to go where poetry is rendered as a limitless limit, fretted with knowings and unknowings and their generative inquisitions. Once again, the life of the mind finds its avatar. —Ann Lauterbach


* * *


Strings in an Empty Container

a Confession, an Apologia, a Palinode

in ordinary language

please forgive me

for, what do I know?

in figurative language
I know, now

if I only had two cups

I would put my strings into them.
But my hands are tied with my own tongue
and my knots are
the stars
a sun
a mountain
a tree
an execution
a hand
an order
a tongue
an interrogation
an eye
a witness, a
bird, as of a crow, witnessing this,
a pen and inky blue
black sky and sea, as of the sea, also a boat
lost on the sea. Yes lost,
I said! though its sails be a child’s white
crayon on masonite, there’s got to be a way out

of this logical hell (I said)
now write (I said)
with a stylus-cantilever probe
attached to the probe stage, the most difficult part
of the technique being
that as the probe is dragged
across the sample, the stylus moves
up and down in response to surface features
is then visualized as a
topological 3-dimensional shape, no

prospect of a beginning, no vestige
of an end. The only remotely recognizable wreckage
remaining the beloved’s
name in minuscule
drawn out on the convex of the ultimate
world, the way in and the way out,
the same. And all along, a familiar
pattern, until strangely
this looks like my own home. This is
your home, said one and instantly
I recognized the voice of my beloved

calling from the mouth of a crow
picking at an empty string
in a container. What do I love? think
(I said), though the sentiment appear in
finite lines, or closed loops formed
by strings, in an empty
container, a one-dimensional curve with zero
thickness, enwrapping a medium in which
the absolutes oscillate. Until a world
of infinite & adequate grays
appears, and all the fundamental forces
of the universe unify,
as surfaces in a many-
dimensional space, a turbulent
flow rather than
as lines or loop elements, open or

closed strings. A body lost also
in beauty, sadness, simple joys, in intellectual
development and dissipation, in corporeal
individuation grows
out tears itself out with a stylus-
cantilever in the right hand as though the life
of the organism moved with a vacillating
rhythm, and never quite here
senseless and brutal and without
meaning, purpose, or positive effect
though this not keep me from writing.
And if I write, always, to you?
it depends on what we mean by you.
And if I follow a certain impulse,

it depends on the impulse
though every impulse return to the dust
of ice trails, solid air, sound
of the stars and the light they carry, the radiation
signature & luminous anomaly, the
radiative zone, or envelope of unevolved
material through which energy from the core is
diffusively transported by successive
absorption and emission of radiation in collisions

between the things themselves,
what was thus born
by that name, what will even
come to pass, what
has been called the messenger,
what had already shone on them,
what is given differently by different authors,
what in the hearing of the ear,
what in multiplying I will multiply—


I shan’t say
I cannot say
I do not know.


* * * 


Kubark, the Light

I turned on the light and looked directly into my soul and asked myself, is there an entity, or a thing, or a being, which is God? and I didn’t know what to answer, so I adjusted the light and asked myself, is there a God, which is a being or entity, which actually exists? and I turned the lamp away from, then towards me, asking, is there a God, which actually exists, who has existence, is an existing or real thing? and pulled the light in closer, is there a supreme being, or entity, called God, which actually exists? and I didn’t answer, so I pulled the chair up closer to the table, is there a God who or that actually exists, a being who is behind it all, the universe, and everything, is there a supreme being called God? and twisted the lamp, is there a God behind the universe, or in front, or in or throughout, is there a being or entity called God actually existing? and pulled the lamp up close, then backed it off a bit, is there a God, or what is called God, or what some call God, who actually exists, as a being or entity in the universe, a supreme existing being or Being? and did not answer, so turned the lamp higher, to the higher setting, then again, but turned it too far, and then one more time back on again, is there a God, in the universe, or in this universe, or is there a God, in existence outside the universe, in a space or time of God outside the universe as we know it, answer me, but I did not answer, because I didn’t know the answer, and pushed the lamp in closer, is there a God, what the religious and the sanctimonious and the affected call God, what the dying and the hurt and in pain and suffering call God and call upon as God, is there God, is God existing, in the world, or universe or wherever he is or it, is, is God, answer me, is God actually in existence or existing or a real thing or a thing of any kind answer me, but I didn’t know what to answer, and brought the light in so close, so that there was nothing but the light, is there a God, does God or has God existence, or life, has or does God have life, is God alive, is God living, or existing, or even surviving, and the light, the light, until I said yes, yes God is existing, and smacked the lamp and nearly threw it upon myself saying you liar goddamn you liar you and and said did you son of a bitch did you did you better fucking answer me did you yourself think that you were something unique, different, particular, and unlike anyone else and I was so relieved that I was asked something I knew the answer to that I said yes, yes, I was the one.


* * * 


Published in 2002, Some Mantic Daemons has the honor of being the remarkable Futurepoem Books' first publication. 

Some Mantic Daemons is available from Small Press Distribution.