Ray Gonzalez

Ray Gonzalez

Roberto Bolano

Law number one:

Stars are matter.  Poems do not matter.

Law number two:

Always use a green pen.   Never use a pencil.

Law number three:

Do not throw any drafts away or they will haunt you.

Law number four:

The spirit in human form is not the same as the spirit in oral or written language.

Law number five:

Always know where your shoes sit under your writing desk.

Law number six:

Black holes are not made to consume artistic depression.

Law number seven:

Black holes are not made to consume artistic expression.

Law number eight:

Distant stars have nothing to do with your life and using them as metaphors is outdated.

Law number nine:

Distant galaxies do not have an answer to human knowledge or misunderstandings.

Law number ten:

Poems can breathe on earth, but not on the moon.

Law number eleven:

Poets who dream about the moon will be arrested at the border.

Law number twelve:

Puncture flash nothingness.

Law number thirteen:

“Luck” is a four-letter word and so is “star.”

Law number fourteen:

The planets in our galaxy revolve around the sun.

Law number fifteen:

The sun in our galaxy revolves around the poet and puts stars in his eyes.

Law number sixteen:

Select one:  A blank page or a black hole.

Law number seventeen:

Martian poetry shall always be embedded in Jack Spicer’s grave.

Law number eighteen:

Martian poetry is the secret ingredient that makes poets fight with one another.

Law number nineteen:

The poet is an UFO.

Law number twenty:

Never replace the word Flying with the word Fucked in the above law.

Law number twenty one:

“Dwarf planet” does not refer to any famous poet, only thousands of unknown ones.

Law number twenty two:

Pluto’s orbit is 248 Earth years per cycle. Its characteristics are different from other planets, which follow circular orbits around the Sun, close to a flat reference plane called an ecliptic, not an elliptic as the recent elliptical poets might claim.  Pluto’s orbit is highly inclined to the ecliptic (over 17°) and is highly eccentric, thus should be considered the poet’s planet.

Law number twenty three:

There is no law number twenty three because Pluto was recently removed as an official planet and exiled to a new list of dwarf planets.  Poets shall always love the topic of exile, though this is not a law yet.

Law number twenty four:

Chain limited premium.

Law number twenty five:

Barefoot poets do not know how to read star charts.

Law number twenty six:

Poets who wear sandals believe in the concept of cosmos, but do not know what the concept means.

Law number twenty seven:

Poets who wear boots only believe in themselves.

Law number twenty nine:

In theology, cosmos can be used to denote the created Universe, minus the creator, as in God.

Law number thirty:

Never mistake “the creator” for the poet, as in creating a poem.  If you do, you will be in conflict with the laws of the cosmos and, if you get away with it, you will change the laws of nature, though everyone assumes nature is another story tied to the earth, not the cosmos, though some would argue the earth is part of the cosmos and, indeed, someone or some “thing” created it, though creation must be argued in terms of the cosmos and not poetry because poetry does not want to be in conflict with heavenly bodies that were created before language was discovered.  This is why most poets do not like humans who once roamed the cosmos, but fled to earth after the first poem was written in a galaxy poets love to journey to—the one inside their heads.

Law number twenty eight?

That is a metaphor.



Some of us have always been Martians, blessing planets with words, others putting a flame to the poem as Jack Spicer opens his sweating hands and writes, “The Martian invasion has begun.”  He wrote that the aliens were everywhere and poetry was a way to get a message to them.  Jack, drunk and stumbling down a North Beach alley where he heard The Martians gathered, through their machines lifted long ago.  In the bricked soil of the angels, Spicer fell down and lay there breathing hard, trying to listen for Martians calling him, the city growing dark as sirens sounded in the distance.

In his Magic Workshop questionnaire, Spicer gave the following assignments to participants: 1. Write a blasphemy.  2.  Create a universe.  3. Become a flesh eating beast.  4.  Choose a character from the Wizard of Oz who wants something and impersonate him in a poem.  Later, in the long list of questions, he says, “Think of a page on which you are writing a poem as being also a map. Do you write the poem with or against the sun?”

Some of us invade with the sun at our backs, rising from the dark alley to finish the poem, while others rage at the bitter struggle of the human race—no galaxy, no stars, merely strange apparitions behind houses and on the page, something calling to Spicer to go to his apartment because they have broken in.  When he gets there, the documents in his trunk are glowing in many colors, though they are all there, and Spicer is blessed with knowledge that we will never know.  He kneels by the trunk and pushes it until one of its heavy corners points in the direction of Mars, his papers waiting  after his early death to be translated by friends, the quiet ones who do not need to be convinced the Martians are coming back.



Ray Gonzalez is the author of twelve books of poetry including Faith Run (University of Arizona Press, 2009), Cool Auditor: Prose Poems (BOA Editions, 2009) The Hawk Temple at Tierra Grande (2003 Minnesota Book Award for Poetry), and Consideration of the Guitar: New and Selected Poems (2005).  Turtle Pictures (Arizona, 2000) received the 2001 Minnesota Book Award for Poetry.

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