No. 9


John Matthias 

Laundry Lists and Manifestoes

People often leave no record of the most critical or passionate moments
of their lives. They leave laundry lists and manifestoes.

       A.S. Byatt

I am writing a manifesto and I don’t want anything, I say however certain
things and I am on principle against manifestoes, as I am also
against principles.

       Tristan Tzara

He brought me also a box of sugar, a box of flower, a bag full of lemons, and
two bottles of lime juice, and abundance of other things: But besides these, 
and what was a thousand times more useful to me, he brought me six clean 
new shirts, six very good neckcloaths, two pair of gloves, one pair of shoes, 
a hat, and one pair of stockings, and a very good suit of cloaths of his own,
which he had worn but very little: In a word, he cloathed me from  head to foot.

      Defoe, Robinson Crusoe


Nausicaa heard a buzzing in her ear. 
A whisper – Girl, you left
The laundry waiting over night.  That list, where is it?
Sashes, dresses, bedspreads, sheets & socks,
Your royal father’s robes . . .
Expect a manifesto any moment that may issue from
The throne – not Alcinous’, but one
Much higher, darker, grander, more sublime. I may look
Like Dymas’ daughter, but behold:
I bring you soap and bleach and starch from very heaven.
Take your girlfriends and your maids.  Take
A beach ball too.

                             Elsewhere in that meanwhile, Yahweh
Stood complaining in the water that was now
Just ankle-deep – Girl, he said to Japheth’s wife, you left
The laundry waiting over night.  That list, where is it?
Quick before the waters all recede and we stand here in sand:
Wash the dirty linen and the garments of them all – Japheth,
Shem and Ham, N himself & Mrs N – 
Here’s the soap and bleach and starch. Here’s a beach ball too.
But where is Noah’s manifest?

N in fact had lost it, drunk inside his tent, and couldn’t
Reconstruct it from his memory; all those birds and
Mice and cats and dogs and even bugs and things. It seemed
As arbitrary as a laundry list. Still, old Yahweh’d brought
Them through and wanted an accounting. He took
His own frustration out on Ham who stood outside the tent
Staring at his father’s genitals. Don’t stare at my genitals, said N,
And soon thereafter issued his explosive anti-Canaan manifesto. . . 

Meanwhile in the elsewhere, Nausicaa was playing 
With her beach ball having done the wash and laid it out on
Rocks to dry: her thong, her super-low-cut jeans, her black lace
Demi-bra and other things she’d ordered from the catalogue
She read with flashlight in the night hiding underneath her sheet.
Suddenly a stranger came out of the bushes holding
Just a leafy twig to hide his genitals. She told him that her name was
Nausicaa and that she’d come to do the wash.  Then
She asked to see his manifest.  Alas, he said, I’ve lost it with
My ship and all  my men, but you can put this on
Your laundry list – and took away the twig.  Impressed, she
Bathed the stranger in the stream where she had washed
Her under things along with father’s robes and brother’s
Cricket togs.  But soon she realized she’d left the list itself at home
With half the things the whisperer had spoken of.

We have the record of the stranger’s deeds, his wily ways,
His journey home when washed and dressed and
Celebrated at the court of Alcinous. We have the history of
Abram’s offspring after Babel. But Shem and Ham and Japheth,
Gomer, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, Tiras, Riphath,
Togarmah and many others on the J & P lists might as well be
Coat and tie and shirt and trousers on the one Nausicaa left at home
That floats up on a foreign shore right now. 
Of Nausicaa little else is known (though more has been
Surmised.)  She went on with her wash.
Zeus & Yahweh went on to become Suprematists
(The empty squares of cities not, as Kasimir Malevich 
Was to say, mere empty squares).

Even in Vienna they could feel the earth shake as Poseidon
Dropped a mountain in the harbor of the Phacians.
For a moment, Donna Anna ceased to sing Come furia disperata;
Il Commandatore dropped his guard
Just long enough to feel the sting of Giovanni’s sword. As they
Resumed, the maestro lost his place & skipped to Leporello’s
Laundry list: Ogni villa, ogni borgo -- 
Sing along with me yourself --  in Italy six hundred eighty,
Germany two hundred twelve, France a hundred,
Spain a thousand -- wenches
Maidens,  ladies of the court: the laundress
Or the duchess or the barely legal teen: any shape or any age:
Nella bruna, la costanza; nella bianca, la dolcezza;
Tall or short or thin or fat, horny singles, desperate wives,
Non si picca se sia ricca se sia brutta se sia bella
Purche porti la gonnella . . . 

                                             Giovanni turns up as
A stoned guest in Zurich, Tristan Tzara thundering
Against the 1 and 2 and 3 of things
While Leporello’s list of ladies finds its way to Ararat to
Be released as species in the long dream of Darwin.
But who was girl eighty-six in Germany?  girl fifty-four in Italy?
Who one hundred three in Spain?  Who was thin and
Who was fat, who was barely legal? Simultaneologists debate
These questions with the Paratactical Historicists.
The friends of Nausicaa were Tamar and Elvira?  Zeus & Yahweh
Sang like Il Commandatore, looking on the dead at Troy
And Sodom and the Somme? 
                                             Nausicaa washes on and on, 
Her hands all red and gnarled.  Her father wouldn’t know her,
Nor would you.  She washes out the blood of centuries.
Her list is endless and includes those things
You got for all but nothing at the Army-Navy store:
The shirt with corporal’s stripes, a neat hole through the pocket
Right above the heart; a greatcoat out of which she never 
Got the stains.  The manus in the manifesto was cut off by Saladin, 
Strictly following Koranic Law.  Profit not by Prophets, one
Apostate’s declaration had begun.  Yangtse not by Yahweh
Sang a lost Confucian ode.  Rebel Angels in a flight
Of biwing planes out of meanwhile into 
Elsewhere and beyond . . .


For their fine linen, Chapman’s Homer says, Trojan women and
Their fair daughters had a Laundry.  Heywood: Except the sonne
That our clothes may dry, we can do ryght nought in our wash.
Crabbe: Fair Lucy First, the laundry’s grace and pride. . . .
And as for Lists: did Homer crib his own from sub-Mycenaean 
Catalogues all full of places no one can identify & captains who arrive 
In ships with fanfare out of elsewhere, never to be mentioned once 
This was not the place where all his listeners nodded off
Or turned the dial back to classic rock. It was his great & cinematic 
Of memory, & everybody hung on these 300 lines claiming for himself 
Otherwise unknown and well-born forebear, basher of skulls,
As the high if broken branch of their family tree. He’d take off into
It by error sometimes trying to remember what came next
In his more recent poem. In the midst of Odyssey the fans of Iliad
Would startle him by shouting out: Do the bloody ships.

Fair Lucy First, said Crabbe.  Who was Lucy Second?  Or was he
Counting off a list, with Lucy first, Sally next, then Jane?
(All of them together laundry’s grace and pride)
To list . . . 
                 incline to one side, tilt; heel over as in danger
On a stormy sea; listen as in List, Nausicaa, you left the laundry
Over night –  or List,  Donna Anna, do it like a Furia Disperata;
To be pleasing or to satisfy, to be disposed; n.— a desire or inclination;
A narrow strip of wood; an area for tournaments, a place of combat,
Ridge thrown up between two furrows by a lister; written entry
Of particulars or people sharing things in common, as
Pêneleôs, Lôitos, Arkosilaôs, Prothoênor, and other captains,
All Boiotians: Eilésion, Erythrai, Eleôn—
                                                                Or Sidon, Heth, 
And others from the seed of Noah out of whom the Y god
Made his nations; or the girls
Of the Anti-Giovanni League whose manifesto was the work
Of Lucy I, executed by authorities, succeeded by 
Her daughter, Lucy II, honored as a forbear in
The long awaited listserve Cyborglog .com
Good St. Wystan; Never trust a critic who does not like lists – 
The genealogies in Genesis, the Catalogue of Ships.
Manifestos, meanwhile,
can be used like Manna (4): exudate of the Eurasian ash,
Fraxinus ornus, taken as a laxative 
In any kind of wilderness [Aramaic, mannã,
Hebrew, mãn]. There was a knight who listed for a maid,
But we are merely in the background of his great
Seduction scene, plowing furrows, sorting beans and lentils,
Coriander, wheat. 

Maidens, kilt your skirts and go?
Mary, I want a lyre with strings Me so oft
my fancy drew Men grew sae cauld, maids sae unkind
Methought I saw my late espousèd saint Milton!
thou shouldst be living at this hour Mine be a cot beside the hill
More love or more disdain I crave Most Holy Night
that still dost keep Mother I cannot mind my wheel Much
have I travell’d in the realms of gold 
Music, when soft voices die My Damon was the first to wake 
My dead love came to me and said My dear and only Love
I pray My delight and thy delight My heart 
aches, and a drowsy numbness pains My heart is high above 
my body full of bliss My heart is like a singing bird My heart 
leaps up when I behold  My little son
who look’d from thoughtful eyes My life closed twice 
before its close My lute, awake! 
perform the last My mother bore me in the southern wild 
Mysterious Night! when our first parents knew . . .

we’d sort out seeds – beans & lentils, coriander, wheat, maids
And musics, all the Ms, the Ls, the Ps – 
Marie and Psyche, you and I, Lucy one and two – 
Hot and tired with heavy work, listless by the end of day.


Broken bits of tablet, tokens, tallies, notches,
Tabulation in cuneiform.  In Tom Sawyer’s pocket there are
Nouns: fish-hooks, a lump of chalk, a marble.
Ubi Sunt or Blazon?
Distributio, Expolitio, Incrementum: or make a mingle-mangle
Of it, or a concatenation. Congeries. Enumeratio.
Rocks, caves, lakes, fens, bogs, dens and so and so and so.
For a chance to fly, a dead rat & string to swing it on.
Rebel Angels in their biwing planes . . .
                                                            Pierre Albert-Birot,
Blaise Cendrars, Filippo Tomasso Marinetti.
Antonin Artaud.

                         Crusoe, like Odysseus
And Noah, lost his original list, like
Ishmael was the only soul among the farers on his ship the sea released.
Coins and precious metals were no use, although in time
He counted them. One by one he inventoried items of survivor’s gold.
Spirits in the guild of fraud and guile 
Perforce at Pandemonium
One by one stood up in council making manifesto of their 
Will: Manifesto for an Open War.
Manifesto for Ignoble Ease & Sloth. Manifesto for a Nether Empire
In the Flames. Manifesto for Seduction of the Ones who
Dwell in Music, Phacia, Indices, Cockaigne, & Realms of Gold. 

Them did Yahweh
Hurl headlong filthy into laundries cursed by
Noah in the son of Ham whose Canaanites and neighbors
Named the spirits (former names all lost and blotted out) the likes of
Chemos and Astarte, Thammuz, Dagon, Rimmon, Isis and Osiris,
Orus, Belial, along with Ion’s Greeks, the sons of
Japheth’s sons (Japheth’s wife still working with Nausicaa
Somewhere on the other side of 12 degrees and 18 minutes latitude:
A storm blew westward and the ship struck sand, the sea
Breaking her apart . . .

                                    . . . bags of nails & spikes, 
Screw-jack & hatchet, grindstone & musket balls &
Guns: a quantity of powder, small shot & hammock: 
Top-sail rigging rope & twine a hogshead of bread.
Runlets of rum the cables and a hawser – 
Salvaged in the end by swimming out & rafting back 
Eleven times until the wreckage of his battered ship blew off
The sand and sank.
Floating on the flood tide, a large red ball.
And on the beach Beelzebub with Klebnikov.
Against whom hum, said one.
Him who heaved the wave? The other, Hum who will his tune.
A time there was when toil gave us tithing.
Teething gave us tooth to frighten toves. Timber built a threat
To talismanic tomb. 
Temper well the will to wake and wend. 
A landing strip was built close by the opera house, while in
The monastery Marinetti was the single scribe
                  love of danger, energy, revolt.
Speed and the machine. A racing car. Aggression & destruction of
Academies, museums. Only war is hygiene. Hymn who can 
The multicolored polyphonic tides, the vibrant nightly fervor
Of the arsenal blazing underneath electric moons.

Thus he would inflate Nausicaa’s ball.

As for arsenals, Crusoe built his own – the warehouse or 
The magazine, he called it.  He tells his diary that he’d omitted from 
            his list
The pens, ink and paper, compasses and dials he’d salvaged
From the wreck.  Also charts, perspectives, books
On navigation.  He had from Portugal a Popish book of prayer;
He had three English Bibles. Needle, pins and thread, a shovel
And an axe.  He stored his arms and powder in the arsenal.
He built a desk. He read a Bible and he wrote,
But not like Klebnikov, whose blather near the landing strip
Annoyed him. Declaiming through a megaphone,
Klebnikov would shout: Zaum. Mountain. Island lu lu ssob.
Nicht nicht pasalam bada eschochomo.
In a fever thought he saw a man descending in
A cloud—Yahweh, Zeus, Beelzebub as anthromorph? – 
Who then became bright flame, who made the earth shake
When he walked upon it. His voice was terrible.
He said: Mein Herr, sing for anything you like you wish you want. 
The ague made him thirst, so he sang: Water.
Waiter, menu of medicinals
                                                Hellebore, H. lleborus orientalis,
Berberis vulgaris, Papaver somniferum, Tamarisk, Pearl Wart,
Baldur’s blood and Bryony. Mandrake root.
Nicht nicht pasalam bada eschochomo.
In delirium, he spat up manifestos just like Klebnikov: Island lu lu 
Mountain. Zaum.
All of which was Manna (4): exudate of the Eurasian ash,
Fraxinus ornus, taken as a laxative
In any kind of wilderness. [Aramaic, mannã,
Hebrew, mãn]. Mine be a cot beside the hill
My dead love came to me and said My heart is high above
my body full of bliss My heart is like
a singing bird Mysterious night!
when our first parents knew you’d sort out seeds
and number names.


Number for example Lord Chamberlain his men & courtesans – 
Banded players in a worst of times and branded
Best of teams,
                        trams on down the Strand
Where horses draw the mighty
Quartered for the pleasure of the bull baiters
Bear baiters
Tosspots watching sly Will Sly and fat Will Kemp
Burbage Cowley Duke & Sinklo
Hemmings tosses bright red ball Nausicaa put in play to
John Grabowski Urban Shocker Combes in center
Ruth in right and Gehrig (Yankees just before the crash) first base.
Baseless claims against the mano / manus fundamental to their
Manifesto also hands for pleasuring the prurient the skills of
Blanche d’Antigny La Barucci Cora Pearl
Mademoiselle the Maximum Marie Duplessis Apollonie their little hands
On little balls and pricks of players bandits poets
Princes brought to practice upright just
And honorable men.

                                 Manus. Festus. Gripped by hand.
A manifest a kind of handgrasp, then a slap.
Some Cora’s John in Chamberlain his men’s most recent
Travesty of history,  thumb and digits set to curve a little Latin o,
Hurls haptic knowledge over printer’s plate
As now garroting or the axe could end the asking touch me now.

Touch me how, old clown? Some festive Feste’s ball game
Play house place of ill repute?  Even in the elsewhere
With their handicaps.  From the handbook: bite the hand that 
Feeds you eat out of another’s hand & oh
Although hands down
And on the other hand lay hands on him high handedly
Throw up your hands or tip just one they’re clean it’s heavy
Got to hand it to you . . .
                                         handkerchief or handiwork
Or Nausicaa’s red ball –
Manifesto of the Fully Opposable Thumb:

[ . . . although between ellipses & in brackets, toes 
Of manifestoes must be noted too: Man the nomad,
Aboriginal, creature of the large toe
Before the thumb, may have got a toe-hold on the
Path or rural route, sung his world into
Being, exited his animal & cave through a desert
Or an outback, grown his brain beyond co-laterals,
Memorized his lines, walked from Egypt,
Walked from Chareville
– a misprint in our own recent treatise on the
Bogomils confuses songs and slogs –  Lettre du Voyant a
Manifesto of the foot and not the hand?
Ask the Abyssinian Rimbaud if toffs at dinner back
In Trojan’s Dinar Diner (pizza and kebab)
Know enough to throw a toggle switch or even
Tattoo tau: a young lady in my colleague’s
Final class before retirement going to the dean about
His sexist language when he said she
Shouldn’t pussyfoot around, prevarication not to
Be desired but also not to be confused with
Eager toe of prurient intent . . .
     Slog on] 

. . . thumb that makes for consciousness, &
Not the other way around. Forty thousand years, more or less,
Since Chiro Adónaison uploaded agency.
No paw or claw or forefoot but the Ur-tool blessed by every
Tinker tailor soldier spy who
Once was hominid & grasped itself becoming manifestal
Agent for a span beyond biology –  Anaxagoras, who
Shook the hound of Aristotle, tooling down
The highway in his supercharged Lamarck. Thumb is up or down
Or meeting digits picking up a pickled pepper
Thumb opposes fully human fall from grace and makes
With fingers ancient fist to shake against the sky. Handsome Tom
Says touch me now Apollonie she says I will
My sweet and lovely biped all because of chiro-genesis.
Chiromancy to reveal Arminians among the flock?
Manifesterians all, depravity is only partial, freedom opens
Like a chiropractor’s palm. 

Hand me down prehension goes that line of thought
Or you’ll construct a Calvinist at Leiden.
Courtesans in court deny their destiny is manifest
But list their favorite tricks.  Prehensile tallies where
The RBI statistics all emerge, but prehistoric to a one
The hook-grip, scissor, five-jaw chuck
The disk- & sphere- & squeeze-grip: pops it up in short left field
Where Robert Meusel hauls it in and throws
It all the way to Gehrig catches runner well off base besides.
And who’s that girl whose touch becomes professional – 
Former maid of music, product of the crazy Liszt– 
Handy in her knowledge of applause
When sign of wantonness and frank caress
May guarantee a patron and the reigning Traviata
Singing like a caged Macaw?  In Crusoe’s dream a thumb
And fingers slip into her house the night she dies
And take her tinker taylor’s tintype, take her 
bird food, bracelet, banquet table, comb
And brushes, candelabrum, Bible, letters, contraceptive pills
And all the words that tell her story. They take the gifts
Nausicaa left her, all the notes she played, her
Brooklyn lover and her Dumas fils. They take her aux camélias
Her Duplessis and her Marie. They
Take her touch me here and bon nuit mes amis

Therefore, they pass by – Nausicaa and the
Demimondaine girls – with nothing to declare at customs
By the foot of Ararat except themselves
While at the summit of the world above a Sea of Boos & Outrage
He who makes the martyrs to the proposition that
Sublime is Always Now and Everything is Always the First Time
Declines in power wondering if everything is always
The last chance. In Epistemon’s visit to Elysium
The riffraff out of Rabelais work on: Joyous Dr Festus who
Was hand-gripper, hand-groper,
Puts his hands not in the bowl of cherries but in earth
Beside a grove where all the others labor too
Digging their own graves.  Xerxes cries for mustard, Cyrus
For his cows; Ulysses sews a shroud while
Agamemnon washes corpses and the sons of Fabius
Thread beads . . .
                            Poor Marie must sort out seeds.
Given Psyche’s task, she can’t tell beans
From lentils on her list, can’t tell oats
From peas from Q’s from qu-bits, can’t find missing
Letters of the alphabet or find the cancelled tickets
For the lector’s lecture on the laws . . .


. . . mislaid by fingers that mis-key command for mitzvah,
Change Nausicaa’s to Eurekas
In a spell check: Cyborg Manifesto is immediately downloaded
While the courtesans gather up their reputations, enter
Through consumption in the lungs of Verdi’s score: Virus has her
Way with Listserve, hands re-tool as handmaids 
Of the process working on its own. Letters of the alphabet interpreted
As all the saved epistolary files, and so the poem in progress
Is sent out from A to Z.  Giovanni grows prosthetic
When confronted with the simulacrum of the Dada Modest Woman,
Baroness Von Frytag-Loringhoven plus 
Attachments: coal-scuttle headdress & the nipple-rings dangling
Down brass balls.  Cyborg manifesto steps
Around both Zeus and Yahweh to embrace Chimera as a fabricated
Hybrid: Tools are coded stories and the copies don’t
Require an original.  It may cost an arm and leg, but consider
The alternative.  Where medicine’s a hermeneutic of the network, 
Noumena become Das Nichts.  Arrange a nano-implant and proceed
To disengage: Cyborg semiology signals to theology; God nor
Goddess may survive the creatures of an integrated circuit
Leaving laundry lists & manifests trailing from the greatest moments
Of their lives, dualisms of a hierarchy naturalized 
Before the language took on fusion of the manus & machine
Whereby Nausicaa never wakes despite the urging of the one
Disguised as Dymus’ child.

                                           Noah says Who cares about my
Genitals when Ham looks in his tent.  Kasimir Malevich paints
Away at academic nudes; Klebnikov embraces the
Horatian ode.  When Donna Anna sings Come furia disperata,
Il Commandatore kills her on the spot; Caruso sails
Away where 12 degrees and 18 minutes latitude’s the formula
For song; Tzara praises 1 and 2 and 3.
Biplane avant-guardists loop their loops in functions
So recursive there is no avant to guard, radio an
Elsewhere in the meanwhile where it’s all
A mingle-mangle, concatenation.  Surface now
Outfaces depth and replication reproduction as the odd
Dualisms will no longer dial up: whole/part, woman/man
Living/Dead, maker/made or courtesan or maid or player or
The played. Aacisuan and 911 and Sessylu respond
O Mussulmans, save our goods from wretched unbelievers,
Look what’s in our pocket, Tom: He words us, girls,
Mechanic slave with rule and hammer, saucy lector catches
Us like strumpets, scald rhymer who extemporally enacts 
Our greatness as a squeaking boy – 
Fish-hook, marble, lump of chalk.  O dead rat and 
String to swing it on! 

                                 First image ever streaming in of Monad
Claiming two hemispheres and four
Calculators for its cinema, gonad aching from a Yankee
Curve that got it in the groin: grainy movies of
The all-departing all escorted by the simulacra on their screen:
Counter tenors, sheep and goats, fallen angels, obtuse
Angles, David’s armies, birds of paradise and beasts
Of the apocalypse. Clans of courtesans & baseball fans hurrah
Among the tangled wires and brachia
The polys, seriations, pleonasms in extreme
While slipping into sequence of possessive phrases
Of the quantum of the zero of the one of the watcher
Of the disambiguating
                     decoherence of the end of the beginning
                              and beginning of the end
Of the letter of the law of the laughter of
           the lawless . . .

. . . while on a promontory broken off
The screensaver image of an ancient SE10
Madam C’s nine cognates gather around boxes dropped 
By Ever Afterlife Balloonists working on the script
Of Cargo Cults. They argue (the cognates) that a manifest
Attached to shipment listing all collaterals and cogs,
Codes and codices for Mme’s Nothing Else Cockaigne Machine
In fact are elegiac poems, that David sings for Jonathan,
Gilgamesh for Enkidu. They inscribe themselves as
Manifestoes which proclaim their faith in algorithms of an
Unknown field of force. They’re cognizant and they can glow.
They’re coeternal, and they rise to an occasion.
Although they tell no story of their lives, their little trumpets blow.




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