Will Alexander /Water Dog meets Blood Penguin

The Water Dog

The dog is the species most accustomed to accompanying early travellers by land and sea…

Thor Heyerdahl


Born under butane & water 

under snapping fire of icebergs & razors 

like a compass 

pointed at the fact of combustible granite 

pointing far beyond 

the panorama of glaciers & icy landlocked schooners 

to Anatartic labouring blisters 

to  special atmospheric codes 

where ice sends up a smoke

like an exploded measuring jar 

those expanded zodiacs of lightning 

his tongue 

crystal & fog  & fire 

his power 

like a galaxy of anteater’s rabies 

a noxious weather vane of lions 


Zambian kangaroo 

the isle of Wight

the beautiful  moraine of Bermuda 

pointing to arcane solstice mountains  

seeing like a cenobite 

into the glassy fires of the Caspian Sea 

into the blackened imaginary fires of the Sahara 

a tense perilous compacting of weathers 

in a unit of diamonds 


on sandy Egyptian mountain ranges 

filing its neurological hearing 

so that the poles of Venus 


with the Gulf of Castellammare 

with the curving throat of Sicily 

like a ruthless intentional steam

marking in the Mongolian steppes 

with his hierohlyphical paws 

of intuitive malachite & sunstroke  

an Ibis in Genoa 

a linseed spiral 

part Damascus 

part of the Swiss Thunersee & Paris 


the grown dog amounts 

the magical snout alignments 


at threads of Amazonian life 

at its headwaters rotting 


kabbalistically to its bottoms with his breath 


to the asteroidal fields of Ceres 

the darkened pre-globar entropies with


with howling & starlight 

with magic geometries of panic a diviner 


with landscapes of darkness 

briefly dazzled 

by starlight & pumice 

who seizes every particle of ground 

his breath pointing 

to butchery shelters & loneliness 

like a telepathic pine juice 


microbiology & vineyards 


at those sacred iguana Dawn’s 

looking magical cracks in the skin of space 

sucking in eclipse & lightness 

the principle force of ice balloons 

a wave of lotus junctures 

all the sundown bluing 

all the nucleic barium breathing 

across asteroidal isles 

across the proton- neutron 

of this life 

of this present profusion 

the force 

of bays & winds & stars 

the deep mercator blankness 

the mutant compass spinning 

the  anti-osmium sussurations 

issuing from his electrical skull 

from the musical stride of his forceps’ blackness 

because of his fierce navigator’s  bonding 



his wayward nitrogen calendar 

his stupendous rose war ignitions 


he is the water dog 

the dog 

between non-being being & being 

able to distinguish the flux 

between Graham Bell Island

& the Bay of Biscay 


Revillagigedo in the Mexican Pacific

& the inland flames of Ulan Bator 

the dog angel 

at the origin of hydrography & fire

at the genesis of arc-light & magnesium  

the dog angel 

the water dog on fire 

the synonymous Arctic star 

the occult illuminal wire 


the blood 

the spaces the cunning ammonia 

of cyclic ambrosial dimensions 

Extracted from Impulse and Nothingness (available in Kaleidoscopic Omniscience, 2013, Skylight Press)

Kaleidoscopic Omniscience

The Blood Penguin

“I am the carnivore 

the hounded night walker 

searching for my wings scattered under glass 

they claim I should return to monomial transfixing

to exhibit A & no further 

to some

I am six foot & lizard 

to others

I am considered a mange lamb 

returned from the tropics

I am never given due as to sum or proportion

I am seen as the source  of something leprous  

as no longer the, motive of who I was thought I was shaped to be

I who live as mislaid damage 

as part of pointless verbal ejecta 

there are no nouns to ensnare me 

to fish up my blood so as to summon consensus 

I am never that condition within the fire of conjoinment

I am never to be 

the human boy genius 

the archivist 

the bartered child contending with study

I am none of the above  

none of the aforesaid compendium

I am the animist 

the vertical lion tundra 

the diamond  bird who burrows under snow

because of my leaning

I know the stark Egyption soma 

much as would a blinded cemetary scribe

& because I understand 

ones basic neural unravelment 

I a, seen as piacular 

as spectre 

as both standing & freezing 

being of some other form from other planet 

as clinical moral addendum 

this contains in itself 

blackened scrawl marks from Moravia 

from squandered quanta from the Sunda Islands 

from quaking dogs from Santiago 

they say I suffer I suffer from powerful deafening by resistance 

my eyes & infectious with lapses 

the attention span blunted 

the astrological paralysis shifted  

so they say the unknown is the trigonomic 

is the transcended nucleus 

the born educational spell 

according to the flaws in universal summoning

I am ancient pantomime  

who cannot transgress his inherited Ladino 

as to Mayan glyphs & squares

I am plummeted

I am without the means to conduct my own prism 

to take on the culpable mean 

at circumstantial limit

I exist through negated practical limit 

through parallel sub-causes 

without knowing the desire 

to seek the enzymes in living

I am without & without & without

I who create doubt & the genetics of perpetual conflict

I could be strange as a human half wrought 

who poses himself as Illario Pozuelos

& what is claimed against me 

is not unseasoned 

is not the treason of post-fanatics 


it is a curious treatise on circumstantial exhibit  

it says 

my values are possessed by distance 

like someone humbled or plauged by a treaty 

my dispossessed senses 

described by these methods 

under the forms of the treasonous  

it tells me I am lifeless blood equipment 

that my Gene’s are not useful 

that my mind is simply stricken or exposed 

yet such a chronicle loses spores in the glaciers 

it says

I am of Ghana & the Seychelles  

of insular breakage near the Azores 

yet it states my non-placement 

my cavern 

my debilitating refuge 

not even a dwelling beneath the stars 

as etheric camp base on Saturn 

such is the ether climb 

the sub-revelation as dialectical cartography 

conjoining with the ocelot  swimming across the prisms of Mauritius  

or simple flatland in Manchuria

these are seen as soils no known warrior can claim 

because I readily announce my resistance 

my tone as carnivorous scarring wandering beyond pervasive death concussives  

claimed by genetic dis-logistics 

by anarchic ruin 

by genetic sibling serosas

I cannot describe by cursory enclosure external motivation  

or any rotary or back-flowing water attainment  

it is described as similar 

as ghost data 

as hibernation through  pillage 



partaking in part as Jonquil & longevity  the 

of course the cells blaze 

infinity evolves 

the monsoons project through containment 

yet nothing revolves 

nothing forbears & is clement

I exist 

as steep electrical ice 

asking of myself spells 

of pointless dominating fuels 

within this agnostic current

I describe 

myself as one who’s hellish 

who’s buried his weight with double insistence 

who seems to sleep in a brazen cylinder of peril 

then after a pause in listening calling myself The Blood Penguin embraced by squalls 

by an oily & misshapen blinding”

Extracted from Compression and Purity (City Lights, 2011)


Writer, artist, philosopher, and pianist Will Alexander was born in Los Angeles, California in 1948 and has remained a lifetime resident of the city. He earned a BA in English and creative writing from the University of California–Los Angeles in 1972. Alexander’s books of poetry include Across the Vapour Gulf (2017), Compression & Purity (2011), The Sri Lankan Loxodrome (2009), Asia & Haiti (1995), and The Stratospheric Canticles (1995). He has taught at many colleges and universities, including the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, the University of California, and Hofstra University, among others. His collection Singing In Magnetic Hoofbeat: Essays, Prose, Texts, Interviews, and a Lecture (2013) was awarded an American Book Award. His other honors include a Whiting Fellowship for Poetry, a California Arts Council Fellowship, and the 2016 Jackson Poetry Prize.
Though his work is frequently described as “surreal,” Alexander does not fit any clichéd image of the generation of avant-garde poets that began publishing in the 1970s and ’80s. The son of a World War II veteran, Alexander was influenced by the revolutionary struggles that first inspired his father during a military tour of the Caribbean. Alexander’s father found there was a sharp contrast in how Black Americans lived in the United States as compared to other countries, according to Harryette Mullen, writing in an issue of Callalloo that included a colloquium on his work. “There, the elder Alexander was impressed to see black people in positions of power, and his story of that experience left a distinct impression on his son, who counts among his culture heroes Césaire of Martinique and Wifredo Lam of Cuba,” Mullen noted.
Alexander’s influences include Bob KaufmanOctavio Paz, Jean-Joseph Rabéarivelo, and Philip Lamantia. According to Clayton Eshleman, writing in American Poet, Alexander was probably first published in 1981 in the small press literary journal Sulfur. Since the mid-1990s, he has given readings of his work and held artist-in-residence posts at various colleges.

Alexander’s first work to attract critical attention was Asia & Haiti (1995). Writing on the collection for Sulfur, John Olson commented, “Poetry and politics make peculiar bedfellows. One is private experience made public, the other public experience made private. In Will Alexander’s Asia & Haiti … poetry writhes like a wounded snake in a miasma of brutality and oppression.” He added, “Shelley called poets legislators and prophets, visionaries who drew their authority from ‘that partial apprehension of the agencies of the invisible world which is called religion.’ This is what gives Asia such tremendous pathos, taking China’s invasion of Tibet as point of departure. It is a poem with a surrealistic aperture, oracular lens and Delphic tripod.”

In discussing a passage from Alexander’s Towards the Primeval Lightning Field (1998), Eshleman wrote, “The desire in such writing is for a paradise of language, for the creation, in language, of a reality that uses particles from the observational world to foment interlocking nonsequitor constellations that ignite new constellations as they burst.” As Alexander wrote in the first paragraph of the work, “It is not with the steepness of vultures that I seek to procure an arcane stability in the void, but by the blending of halts and motions, like the vertical equilibria of fire, brought to an incandescent pitch of value.” In his introduction to Towards the Primeval Lightning FieldAndrew Joron pointed out that Alexander’s imagination is imbued with the pre-Romantic idea of imagination as “the link of links”: “Here, the energy of the imagination has not yet been harnessed (as it would be in Romanticism) to the goals of bourgeois subjectivization. It can never be a matter of ‘possessing’ this imagination, but only (as in the communalistic spirit of voudou) of being possessed by it. Imagination is the conductor of primeval lightning, the fiery trickster leaping between frozen and fragmented realia, the universal translator of the multitude of tongues (both human and inhuman) emitted by the Signal of signals.”

In American Book Review, Mark Scroggins stated that Alexander is “acutely conscious of the issue of poetic voice, and is unwilling to let poetry’s potential for ventriloquizing or exploring the voices of others be subsumed in an impersonal écriture or ultimately homogenous montage. He seems as well interested in the spiritual dimension of poetry, especially in the degrees to which poetry can give us access to spiritual or emotional states beyond those we normally experience.” Alexander has likewise described poetry as literally transportive: “I think of myself, the poet,” he wrote in “On Anti-Biography,” “sending signals into mystery, and having them return to me with oneiric wings and spirals, so much so, that I forget my prosaic locale with its stultifying anchors, with its familial dotage and image reports, with its dates inscribed in trapezoidal faces. I am only concerned with simultaneity and height, with rays of monomial kindling, guiding the neo-cortex through ravens, into the ecstasy of x-rays and blackness.”

Critics have observed that Alexander reaches for entirely new lexicons while making use of the inferences of the language he has at his disposal. Mullen explained, “Although Alexander resists discussions of the technical aspects of writing, it would be useful to have a fuller account of his process of lexical selection and combination; to understand how his reading habits and writing practices overlap in the intertextuality and diverse vocabularies incorporated into his poetry; to appreciate how certain rare, unusual, specialized, foreign, or archaic words are used in the poem for their precise denotative meaning, connotative meaning, metaphorical resonance, aural or phonemic qualities, or all of the above.” In the surrealist tradition, Alexander works through automatic writing, trying to achieve a state of trance, as Mullen pointed out. His preference for the British spelling of English words adds a whole dimension to his use of language. Mullen concluded, “His literary influences connect him to an international avant-garde, just as his experience as an African American connects him to a black diaspora, and to the political struggles of Third World people.”

In a piece on the book Above the Human Nerve Domain (1998), Mullen wrote: “The domain of poet Will Alexander’s nervy curiosity ranges from the icy Himalayas, to African savannahs, from physics, astronomy, and music, to alchemy, philosophy, and painting. Orishas, angels and ghosts all sing to this poet, instructing him in their art of verbal flight. This is a poet whose lexicon, a ‘glossary of vertigo,’ might be culled from the complete holdings of a reconstituted Alexandrian library endowed for the next millennium.”
Alexander’s recent work has continued to mine the visionary depths and lexical heights of his work from the 1980s and 1990s. He has written across genres, in novels such as Diary as Sin (2011), the story-like collection Sunrise in Armageddon (2006), the play At Night on the Sun (2017), and theater pieces collected in Inside the Earthquake Palace (2011). Other essay and philosophical writings are included in Mirach Speaks to his Grammatical Transparents (2011). His essay collection A Cannibal Explains Himself to Himself was published by The Elephants in 2019.

Facilitated by / Giorgia Pavlidou And Mohsen Elbelasy



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