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  • Writer's pictureNeuro Logical

Crystalline Sword - Tom Snarsky


I’m not comfortable enough in November

The knife in my mind’s ankle

Second layer of icons on the desktop

Itemized list of raptures

I don’t understand why he’s using his voice

His kitten voice

Brick by brick by brick by brick

Rhyming with something from Frances the Mute

No idea how this will look on a phone screen

Lines dissolving before they come

The hopeless stacks of books

Thinking about Jon Anderson’s “The Inner Gate”

And noise poems

This didn’t start as an essay but now it is one

“The Inner Gate” lost its epigraph

From Borges

When it went in The Milky Way

The epigraph said:

My internet’s so slow right now

After all, what is writing

but controlled dreaming

I like it better without the epigraph

Which frames it too much I think

In dreaming

Noise poems are a little like dreams

Erik Hoel has a paper about how dreams

Are maybe just a thing for keeping

Our brains from getting too complacent

Noisy inputs they have to figure out

How to deal with

“The Inner Gate” is not a noise poem

But it’s an input like that

“A diary of aesthetic change.”

In the poem Anderson’s speaker

Follows a man

In a group of men who

“in a former life [...]

I had seen as my future.”

But the speaker also recognizes

In the man


“Terrible submission to the traps of the familiar,”

Which the speaker doubles a little

“In my singularity of following”

Anyway Anderson’s speaker is voyeuristic

He watches the man

“as he ate & read [...]

& as his light went out.”

From this voyeurism (sound

Familiar) comes a weird pang for violence

“If he had stepped

outside [/] I might have strangled

him, [/] Only to see

His face fill with blood. [//]

I desired a single, terrible event,

The passage from which would measure time.”

The speaker wants to take

His crystalline sword

Carve the real right in two

& not doing so

Means the end of real love

For him

“And if,

this morning, [/] I should turn

& touch your face

Or caress your throat lightly,

As if in love . . .

[//] This is not love, but care. [/] Yours

is the world [/] I dream in

when I fail to dream.”

This hits so much better without

The Borges epigraph


Not closing the book

Not back anywhere near

Where we started


Of cleaving

With the big lustrous blade

We get

“These are the raptures of falling in space forever.”


Noise poems do not have to be good

Or even try

That is their power


A noise poem is a way of still falling

Matt Hart already

Wrote the definitive essay on this

But here I am so let’s look at some

Noise poems for example

These* aren’t getting attributed sorry

& in fact before we continue

Go find a noise poem for your own pet example

Or write one

I’ll wait

Got one okay

What was it like to read all those

Yours included

Hopefully you just started skipping down

Not really reading

But don’t skip the part about finding

/writing your own poem

That’s too important

What did it feel like trying to make something

Out of all those pieces

& just to be clear those were probably

Pretty tame noise poem choices

On my part

For example they still had words in them


Which is not necessary for a noise poem

A noise poem can be literally whatever the fuck you want

Or don’t want

It can be your father-in-law playing the jazz stylings of Candy Dulfer

On the television

It can be a req. 7 max damage Crystalline Sword

In Guild Wars 1

With no inscription or damage modifier

You know best what a noise poem is for you

Just take what/how you usually think

Walk it way out into an open field

Where the young deer are grazing unsupervised

& remember you’re only a hundred yards

From where you dumped the body

Of that dead rabbit

The one you watched die

In a cardboard box


Cruel metric grace

Let’s call it

That little miracle

When noise poems carry

A signature

Despite everything they’re doing to not

“Make sense” or admit an Andersonish following

Prynne’s recent white noise poems

Don’t you dare call them late I won’t let you

Smell like the OED & Oxbridge

& I’d know a J. D. Nelson poem anywhere

I love it

When Hoa Nguyen tells us to

Write Fucked Up Poems

& the roses all over that directive

Scooch us over to the beetles in “Hennecker’s Ditch”

The ones I want tattooed on me


*I left out my favorite noise poem

Which I had to redownload from Twitter

To share with you

**but then again citation is a form of love, and it would be deeply unfair to those poets above to

whom I owe a whole lot not to give them the credit they’re obviously due, so here are the poems

you buzzed through:

“Owl Wool” by Eric Baus,

“In Fine Balance” by J. H. Prynne,

“I am speaking of the trash in that cube” and “the clown in the tired tree” and “the plaid beverage” and

“X” by J. D. Nelson,

“Sorry is a Girl, Grown Up” by Hannah Regel,

“Unto Greek Fire” by J. H.

Prynne, “Black Glass Soliloquy” by Ben Mirov,

the poem you found (or, I’d honestly prefer, wrote),

and “The Crocus Turn and Gods” by Joseph Ceravolo.

For surviving all that propriety, here’s the best noise poem ever written, imo, by Veronica Forrest-Thomson:



Tom Snarsky is a special education math teacher at Malden High School in Malden, Massachusetts, USA. His chapbook Threshold is available from Another New Calligraphy. He lives in Chelsea, MA with his wife Kristi and their three cats: Niles, Daphne, and Asparagus.

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