Introduction to T to C: Sun
T to C = Travels to Capitals. It’s a verse novel. The capitals are Donald Evans’s, who created postage stamps of imaginary countries. DE avoided fleshing out his world because he wanted to allow room for his friends’ imaginations. I didnt know him, but I take advantage of that allowance to legitimize my appropriation of his terrain. If Evans’ world is the “x-axis”, then Michael Palmer’s Sun is the “y-axis”. I worked my way through Sunpoem by poem, using MPs nouns in order as I came to them. I was not limited to his nouns, I use many of my own, and sometimes wander far afield, but I always return to the MP axis. There is a narrator; he’s like me, but he isn’t me. There are a number of other characters. Some exist in the world you and I share; some do not. All are equally real.



Empty Circles On The Earth

Joy writes from the “Côte des Morts”:

“The only trace of too many towns and villages:

“Clustered scorch marks

“Empty circles on the earth

“No wonder Pilate asking ‘what is truth? … would not stay for an answer’

“The militias swept the place 

“I found one object:

“A bent piece of wire maybe six inches long

“I held it and cried

“I wish I were an artist

“I think I only live to write this down …”

Steve says:

“I once had a hound I took to the tidal pools in Palos Verdes

“I saw him bound ahead a couple hundred yards 

“As I got closer I could see he was rolling around in the carcass of a seal 

“Just covered in gore”

Michael’s house has burned destroying his library

He says:

“I want to build a wall of broadsides

“A book I can walk in …”

So we dance

We dance

Wrapped in the skin of this ecstatically rotting world 

Michele says:

“According to statistics the most depressing day’s the 24th of January”

Francoise says:

“Did you hear about Gladys Murphy?”

Vicki’s crying again

I haven’t seen Paul since his mother died

In a room outside the Music Library someone plays a pretty mean piano

Someone else says:

“That’s the theory …”

I read spine labels from Alpha Liar to Eternity

Pine needles scatter on the surface of the new-fallen snow

Make perfect no-patterns somewhere between Klee and chaos theory: 

A photo by Bohnchang Koo 

(From the “Pencil of Nature” series)

That’s important too

Joy’s letter continues:

“Rain washed away the soil 

“The mass grave opened and out rolled the bodies

“Like pages in a book I couldn’t stop reading

“That night I dreamt I held a dead man to my breasts

“Milk wouldn’t stop flowing”

Michael says: 

“How fragile we are”

I wash my face and neck and when I get in bed and shut my eyes the dark flashes silver

Asleep I see Medusa coins 

(Tongue protruding

Snakes hissing) 

Awake I sit in the pale light with a mug of tea and a chunk of bread

I read the newspaper:

“A beautiful married blonde withdraws her money from the bank puts on her best jewels and buys a train ticket from Nashville's Union Station to Chicago

“Days later her body is found by a ferryman and fished from the river …

“Minus her fourteen hundred dollars and her diamonds”

Joy writes:

“A bent piece of wire maybe six inches long”

My friend the young photographer shows me a photo of a photo from the genocide museum

The dark young man looks right at us

We’re going to kill him as soon as we kick in his teeth

Someone says:

“Drop a coin into the slot of the food machine”

Someone says:

“A dream door into a peach blossom world”

Someone says:

“The people in that country wash and wash with disinfectant”

I read this story in a book called Ghetto:

“My neighbor began building his house two months before the rains

“I didn’t like him much so I didn’t tell him how stupid he was

“After the first heavy rain his kitchen fell down so he began cooking in the bedroom

“Next the bedroom caved in and the whole family moved into the last remaining room in the house

“By the time the rains had stopped his whole family was sleeping under a plastic sheet”

So we dance

We dance

Wrapped in the skin of this ecstatically rotting world


John Bloomberg-Rissman is an editor and mashup ethnographer slash maker of texts. Among other projects, he has co-edited one volume of the series Poems for the Millennium and a two-volume anthology called The End of the World Project, as well as currently co-editing The Collected Poems and Verse Translations of Anselm Hollo. His own work is ongoing and has been for about 15 years. It's called Zeitgeist Spam, of which three sections have been published; the fourth is currently in progress. He is aging-in-place in San Diego, California.