CLICK or cut & paste this LULU address into your browser

to preview CIEN SONETOS (One Hundred Sonnets – written in English) at the Luna Bisonte Prods website.

CIEN SONETOS by Iván Argüelles was published January 2019 with
a foreword poem by Jack Foley, an afterword of sonnet hacks by John M. Bennett, and back cover comments by Jake Berry.

CLICK or cut & paste this WORDPRESS address into your browser: then scroll down the page to read an interview by Paul Brookes, the editor of Wombwell Rainbow, with Berkeley CA poet, Iván Argüelles.


10. Excuse me, I really have to go

09. Excuse me, I really really have to go

08. Excuse me, I really really really have to go

07. Excuse me, I really really really really have to go

06. Excuse me, I really really really really really have to go

05. Excuse me, I really really really really really really have to go

04. Excuse me, I really really really really really really really have to go

03. Excuse me, I really really really really really really really really have to go

02. Excuse me, I really really really really really really really really really have to go

01. Excuse me, I really really really really really really really really really really have to go

P.  go

11/20/2018  C. Mehrl Bennett


Posted: September 2, 2018 in poetry, Uncategorized
Tags: ,

paisley bow tie.jpg(Revised excerpt from Ringer One 2015)

Paisley bow tie on foot –
Where is your Before Shrieker?

Inside a box under the BIG TOE

BIG TOE – Who’s your worldly
Wizened Anguished Pal?

A hip duck diode with no
Duck to paddle to the other
Side of the sandbox where
A dead dog lies

– CMB –

C Mehrl Bennett, Diane Keys, and Jonathan Stangroom – photo by Adamandia Kapsilis

Photo by Andrew Oleksiuk – CMB, Keith Buchholz in the womb, Diane Keys

FluxmaZZ score for two priestesses (Diane Keys & C. Mehrl Bennett), deacon (Jonathan Stangroom), and congregation performed May 27, 2018, at Portage Park during Chicago Fluxfest, an annual event organized by Keith Buchholz, who is the baby Being “born again” in the photo above by Andrew Oleksiuk.

Priestesses each wear a penny stole: first one was originally designed/sewn by Mary Campbell and C. Mehrl Bennett made a second stole fashioned after the first. Photo credit: Adamandia Kapsilas. “Holy Bible” and “Liturgical Flux Packet of Prayer” were created/written by Diane Keys.

Objects on table: Red Wine / dixie cups / candy body parts / peanut butter jar labeled “Wyrd of Glob” / Glob spreader / “Wonder” bread – (bread for Glob &  loaves for”AfterGLOB event) / “Holy Bible” / pink materials to swaddle initiates / hand sanitizer labeled “Anti-Fluxus Gel” /  “Flying Cow” suspended from a string/ hand bell

Deacon Duties: Bowler hat is used for collection plate – Deacon passes it around asking for “common cents”                     (a few pennies already in hat) – Deacon gives each member of the congregation a Liturgical Flux Packet of Prayer on which is printed prayer responses “Praise Cheezus Crust” and “Eminem”. M&Ms in packet are referred to as “Fluxpills”. Each pill is to be taken when giving the “Eminem” response [an alternative response to “Amen”]. – When priestesses say the following phrases: “Holy Bible” – “In God we Flux” – “Praise be to Glob” or other ritualistic phrases, the Deacon rings hand bell to signal for prayer responses. If congregation does not respond, the deacon must ask “Can I get an Eminem?”

Three Part Communion Ritual:

“Holy Bible” – Open Bible revealing holes drilled inside and say, “Holy Bible”. Put straw thru biggest hole. Communion begins. Say “The Blood of Crust” as ‘wine’ or other purple liquid is poured through the big hole inside Holy Bible, and caught by communicant holding a cup underneath. Next they are given a candy body part using phrase, “The Body of Crust”. Next they are offered white bread and a knife for peanut butter, as priestesses ask each to “Spread the Wyrd of Glob.”

“Be Born Again” Ritual:

Priestesses swaddle each initiate in a pink cloth for the rebirthing ritual, rocking “the newborn” either on the ground or standing up, whichever they prefer. When initiate comes out of pink cocoon, they are told what a beautiful baby they are and anointed with “anti-fluxus gel” (hand sanitizer) via an “X” on the forehead.  Each born again baby is encouraged to praise each subsequent “born again” baby.

Eternal Circle Ritual:

The two priestesses wearing penny shawls perform this ritual, which is based on an old saying about an action for good luck, “See a penny, Pick it up.” Priestesses each take  pennies from the donation bowler hat and follow each other in a circle, alternately dropping and picking up pennies. Event ends when both stop dropping pennies or no more pennies can be found (which did happen because we performed on grass!).

 AfterGLOB Event: BREAD FIGHT with loaves of Wonder Bread – (Feed leftover bread to chickens/birds/fish. BREAD FIGHT event is by Keith Buchholz, published under the title “Communion” in his book SCORES FOR A CHURCH, and was originally performed as part of FluxmaZZ at a church in Roanoke VA on 3/5/2011.

NOTE: This documentation was previously posted in June 2018 at: thanks to Mobius

Blood of Crust poured through the Holy Bible is caught by communicant with a small paper cup.
Photo by Allen Bukoff- from left is Jonathan Stangroom, Diane Keys, CMB, Andrew Oleksiuk

Kharms, Daniil, Russian Absurd: Selected Writings, Translated from the Russian by Alex Cigale, Northwestern University Press, 2017. $24.95 (also available as a Kindle e-book at

Early on in his career, Daniil Kharms joined a sound-poetry group with other avant writers, including the poet, Alexander Vvedensky. Vvedensky would become Kharms’ close associate until Vvedensky’s death. He died only a couple months before Kharms starved to death at the young age of 36 during the Nazi siege of Leningrad as he was imprisoned in the psychiatric ward of a prison hospital in February 1942. Both men were invited to join the Association of Children’s Writers in December 1927, and a month later they founded OBERIU. This group included writers, poets, actors, musicians, and playwrights who would perform in public until the Soviet State banned their events. OBERIU (after a Russian acronym standing for The Association of REAL Art) was a movement that developed as a reaction to, but also as an evolution of, the avant activities of the Russian Futurists (1920-1930), which included poets Vladimir Mayakovsky and Velimir Khlebnikov.

“Zaum”, meaning transrational and translinguistic, was a phonetic sound based poetry, or deconstructed language that was reconstructed as non-sense words. Zaum does not need translating into other languages, as its meaning is asemic. A listener’s mind would naturally be inclined to construct its own meaning from Zaum language based on relationships conceived from their own experience with language. It’s no coincidence that the Russian Futurist poets Velimir Khlebnikov, Alexei Kruchenykh, and Elena Guro were all artists before they became writers. When looking at Russian Futurist poems that have been laid out in non-grid format with multiple fonts and sizes, a connection between Zaum and abstract art becomes evident. Zaum was included in some of Kharms’ early poems, eg. Sec (dedicated to his first wife, Esther) from 1925. From what I’ve read in a 1996 text by Gerald Janecek titled Zaum, the Transrational Poetry of Russian Futurism, San Diego State University Press, the relationship between OBERIU and Zaum is fairly complex. The sounding out of Zaum phonetic poems is essential to its communication, and I can envision the eccentric character of Daniil Kharms reveling in the theatrical performance of Zaum in public.

Soviet authorities banned what they saw as political dissidence in OBERIU’s Zaum-based public performances.  Works which foreshadowed the European Theatre of the Absurd, such as Kharms’ popular “Elizabeth Bam”, were perceived as being in opposition to Stalinist realism which was oriented toward proletariat emancipation. Cigale writes in his introduction that Kharms’ plays and early Zaum-based poetry were not selected for this book for the sake of brevity. (Note that Daniil Kharms and the Poetics of the Absurd, edited by Neil Cornwell, Macmillan Press, 1991, has a translation of “Yelisabetha Bam”.) What we have here is still a generous selection of early, middle, and late Kharms work presented in chronological order, with a poetry section at the end.

Russian Absurdism, much like it’s contemporary – the Dada group which started in Zurich, Switzerland – arose out of a reaction to the absurd conditions brought on by war, but also to Stalinist cultural repression. Red Horizon was a 2017 art exhibit at our local art museum in Columbus OH that I attended after I read this book. It was curated from paintings and photographs collected by Neil K. Rector from a period shortly after Joseph Stalin’s death in 1953 until the late 1980s and beyond, when artists attempted to represent the everyday realities of the USSR and Russia. Notably, many of those artists, like Kharms and his associates who wrote children’s literature, could only make ends meet as illustrators of children’s literature. These were Moscow based artists whose ‘unofficial’ works came to prominence in the 1960’s and 70’s. In conjunction with writing this review, I also read that the Russian punk rock group, Pussy Riot, during their 2012 trial for “hooliganism” in a church, cited Kharms’ friend, Vvedensky, as a their hero. 2017 was the centennial of the 1917 Russian revolution, and so it was so very appropriate that Northwestern University came out with Cigale’s translation of Kharms’ works.

Kharms’ nonsense exposes a high level of cynicism that can be both sad and hilarious at the same time, and sometimes violent and frightening. Cigale advocates that Kharms’ writings be grouped with the likes of Sartre, Beckett, and Camus, based on their existential bent. I’ve read elsewhere that Kharms’ imagery is like the magic realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez of Columbia. Cigale gives a thorough briefing about Kharms’ short life in his introduction, and throughout the book provides diary entries and letters that give perspective on everyday life in 20’s and 30’s Soviet Union and of life with his first wife, Esther Rusakova.

Kharms’ notebooks were rescued by his second wife, Marina Mavich, and fellow OBERIU member Yakov Druskin, from a bombed-out building. Many of those plays, poems, and stories circulated illegally in underground publications and came to influence generations of non-conformist writers and later on, the Russian Minimalist poets of the 1970s and ‘80s. Most texts were not officially published until the Gorbachev period in 1980’s Russia.

In a 1937 diary entry, Kharms wrote, “I am interested only in pure nonsense; only in that which has no practical meaning. I am interested in life only in its absurd manifestation,” (from Cigale’s introduction to Part III, Selected Poems). So you will see old women falling out of windows one after another due to over-inquisitiveness, and men melting into thin air. These stories may end with a moral or a masterful punch line, or abruptly with an anti-climax or dead-panned “That’s All”. Readers should leave themselves open to whatever happens, as Kharms’ short stories do not follow standard forms of fiction writing.  What follows is a book excerpt from page 7, specifically the first of five “Rules for Sentinals on the roof of the State Publishing House”, from an early period in Kharms’ writing:

The sentinal may be a man of the OBERIU faith, in possession of the traits listed below:

  1. Of moderate height.
  2. Brave.
  3. Farsighted.
  4. Voice booming and authoritative.
  5. Mighty and without pretensions.
  6. Able to make out by ear various sounds and not susceptible to boredom.
  7. A smoker, or, under extreme circumstances, a non-smoker.


I was fascinated by Russian Absurd: Daniil Kharms, and learned so much about Kharms and his creative circle of writers who aspired to creativity during a time of war imposed poverty and cultural repression. The reader may want to go on to read other translations by Alex Cigale, who was awarded the 2015 NEA Literary Translation Fellow for his work on a Selected Poems of Mikhail Eremin.                                                           – C. Mehrl Bennett

Note: An earlier version of this review, edited by Eric Lorberer, was published in the 2017 Spring/Summer print issue of RAIN TAXI magazine, which is a review of books based in Minneapolis MN USA. Rain Taxi online version is@:

For further reading and references see this NY Times review online@:

Read an extensive Kharms bio@


Recipe for The End of The World



A head in a cage

Cash on bread

Masses of hair on salami toilet rolls


A crying turtle

Ducks in jeans and boots

A stuffed child bobble-head


An apple of bone

Hairy eyes

A video camera in a white nightdress


Rock phone

Teeth sandals

His nose vegetation


Empty magazines

An elephant of gray rock

The sweat of an ashtray collection


A galloping horse of water

A hand of mud from the bank

Hands sewn to legs


Also, the rest of her cash, birds, and

The ghost in a brown paper bag

They all lay in pieces at the kitchen table


Indifferently, she stirs it all

Into a pot of boiling water

With the parts of a lot of old lawyers


To season, she adds their last years of childhood,

Sugar, and rose salt

All this leaves a void in her hand bag


(Every feather costs you around

Twenty thousand dollars as a

Whale falls onto the cash register)


She stared out the window

As if her own head were in a cage

Her shadow flat on the kitchen table…


As boiling stew steamed the window

She phoned Manet

On the stomach telephone


A dinner invite ensued in a

Paced, cautious, swollen voice

With her arm stretched out over the bay


Manet came over

Every step taken flaggingly

Thoughts of bacon forming a cloud


Before Manet arrived she felt

The Shadow staring at her

Prone on her bed in a chain-smoking suit


While pushing The Shadow into a closet

Her hand passed through him

Bubbles broke open and words came out


The wardrobe rose up

Impaled by breathless sound

And meaningless words


Upon arrival Manet

Pointed at the hovering wardrobe

And asked “What’s that?”


“The sun,” She replied

And so, Manet munched the sun

And threw up the brain.


Note: Most of these words are bits of selected text from Texas Fontenella, who outlined them on scraps of pages torn from pulp books and mailed them from Australia to C. Mehrl Bennett in Columbus OH USA on 12/01/2017. On 4/09/2018, CMB selected phrases from that envelope (view some from 2nd section of this collaboration in the image below, scanned in order), and she stitched together this collaborative poem (patching in articles here and there), and gave it a title.

On 4/17/2018 she revised this poem & added the image below.