Transmissions: The Imaginal Bubble Backward and Forward


Going over the history of the NSI–which is only to say the New Surrealist institute, which rejects all precepts, all places, all commitments, all attempts to impress other groups or even ourselves,  everything but the liminal spaces where sewers may be eyes ovulating in alka seltzer giggles eyes–we have discovered some of our old dialogues, our old posts, and everything in the Ministry of the Interior of the Feathered Purple Glove.  The Memory Hole has opened.  We intend in the next two months to produce a handmade magazine which covers the entirety of the NSI from first to last.  Let us welcome our new members before we descend into which continent Eurasia was at war with, though.


What is Neo-Surrealism:

Lee Ballentine

It is a worthwhile question to ask. For if surrealism is a dead thing,
finished and laid in its art-historic and literary-theoretic grave,
then to partake of its spirit perhaps we do need something like
“neo-surrealism” to moderate between ourselves and history. And if,
as some poets do, we find ourselves taken up with all the phases
of surrealism, early and late, with experiments in broken and erotic
grammars, with works of ecstatic religion or ecstatic unreligion, 
and with heady documents of the machine age; with dreams and
rant and the found . . . does this make us “neo-surrealists”?

I say no.

This single, definitive, but ultimately inappropriate tag has seduced some.
It is an angular little compound that has apparent advantages. It’s a search 
key that librarians, bookselling people, and other masters of context are 
likely to find useful. It does manage to thumb its nose at the posers in every 
era who’ve imagined themselves (their only authentic act of imagination) to
be surrealists. However as Andre Breton wrote in This Quarter in 1932, 
albeit of a slightly different population, “unable as yet to treat itself to an
ambulance, surrealism simply leaves these individuals by the wayside.”

We have passed the end of what may with justice be called the surrealistic 
(though not surrealist) century, when eyeballs are juxtaposed with
razors daily and both are for sale. Like the pillow of the same name, the surrealistic century was hallmarked with the monogram of surrealism. Predictably however,it failed to integrate surrealism’s essential character. So it is no surprise that some people shrug at the naked ism and try to see an improvement in the addition of neo.

Fortunately, and especially as we still have a few poets with real (if I may 
put it so) and original credentials to resent the insult, it turns out that the 
neo is wholly unnecessary. For surrealism is always and inherently new. 
Anything posing as surrealism that needs to defend itself against the new is 
by definition no longer surrealism. The neo makes a tautology: surrealism 
is already neo-surrealism, it was born fully fledged in its mature freedom.

But surrealism has learned some new strategies to surprise. 
The new day it is making replaces an era which actually 
ended some time ago although few were awake to notice. The crystalline 
purity of the marvelous that was smeared with the excremental impurity 
of the horrific has been chopped into regular polygons by new machines 
and seduced into the inexact, probabilistic, but still beautiful miasma 
of new equations and the force of new approaches to language, or indeed, 
to entirely new language. Underneath and out of all these purities 
and impurities still rises the underlying voice, the voice of the dream.

Lee Ballentine, 2000

Sir Edward James' surrealist garden, Las Pozas...

Sir Edward James’ surrealist garden, Las Pozas, Xilitla, Mexico (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Words Are Made For Dreaming

John Olson

Words are made for dreaming. But when the words come awake, a metaphor crawls out of its torpor and begins a new world. The eye of a tiger opens. The color ocher emits a tongue of maniacal red. Bedbugs and belladonna shine like Egyptian onyx. What kind of world is this? It is a world of words. Hallucinations of language, the murmur of subterranean rivers. My emotional spectrum is suddenly so large that a pound of sound condenses into teeth. Thought is the echo of a distant proximity. The near is so far that it appears to be solid, like a handful of hypnogogic candy. Oysters of Montmartre lust. A stupefying vagina large as the membrane of reality opening to deliver a baby of trembling demands. Desire collapses from its own weight on the page and rubs itself in consolations of touch. As one walks through the poem, one realizes one is not in a cave, but an imaginary space so large that it blazes with light, wind, fire, and sperm. Cézanne leaves imprints in the outrageous spring mud. The mouth opens, glimmering with ecstasies of light and coughing up speculums of red. The spurs of a dragon answer the feet with contingent silver. A convocation of angels in drag drop Jungian confetti. Words quarrel with the grammar of their construction. A delirium in the blood animates the bones of a leathery shadow. The shadow speaks. It says that the human ear is a turbulence of skin and that this must be taken as a sign of language secreted into a web of convulsive silk, and that poetry is an exploration of the psyche. We hear the song of wild blackberries under scudding clouds. We hear the sound of a carillon in a cherry orchard. We hear the rustle of consciousness illumined by the light of an ancient flame. A strong odor of antelope dilates an ageless exaltation. A piece of infinity ripens in the movement of snakes. Horses and bison embellish the tyranny of stone. When we reenter the light, our animal eyes open to a literal sun. We create ourselves step by step. I have sewn these words together to make this happen. To make these words hang upside down whispering experience in pursuit of a lip. THE BRUTALITY OF ORNAMENT

Tattered and stunned in the dunes, across a river of slate-grey, I had forgotten collections of religious effigies. Red handprints of bronze, dig a yard beneath their secret grave and you find them: snakes and cymbals. You find them, separated, each complete in its own being. Still, life has no chance against the brutality of ornament. Its optical collisions cannot explain night’s black and lucid flower.

Lee Ballentine

And poet Allen Parmenter’s latest mysterious ballad:

“Bone Graffiti” –

In time time’s bruised kisses fed
graffiti into our bones

Museum Bones 2

Museum Bones 2 (Photo credit: aha42 | tehaha)

we talked a stranger’s talk
old violence in the shift of a hip
but our gestures composed
in shadow-stations
between the moons
beyond the sun

“The escalators are drowning. Each cube is a razor cache. The crevices between each finely dull square are bleeding dice. The end is a flipping of each one. Your number is coming up as the dice roll, a thundering sound, beneath the waterless abyss.”  

John Thomas Allen


In a boat in the wondrous ocean, cloaked in Our Lady’s mantle with her secretly beside me beneath the turbulent turquoise sky, I see the Queen Of The Night blooming as she does only once a year in the darkness although if it’s foggy she’ll continue through into the moaning morning. I see the mother-in-law’s tongues with their sharp tips, I see all the striped plants praying with their hands held upwards and tinged with stigmata, the waves sighing. In Spain there is a desert where women come in droves in their wheelchairs, reading the arid scratches in the ground for truth while a black man tells us slyly that unearned suffering is redemptive and that grace is unmerited mercy. In Japan men who are not doctors are using electronic scalpels to change the lines on people’s palms. The horses of the morning trot by but I am disquieted, I need more than mercy or the pretense of my fate being changed, I need those with surgical exactitude, I need the wisdom of those who will extract whatever they must from the deepest caves of my heart, I need the stars on Our Lady’s mantle to twinkle. But instead I have you, you who do not care, you to whom selfishness is survival, you who in the hurricane say Listen to the doctor, you who walk through lush forests alone never hearing birds of every color cry out until their wings turn to silver and they fly magnetized towards the moon, you who like to help the animals only at a distance although you think that you understand them, you who don’t believe in miracles, the miracle of millions of blades of grass screaming beneath you, the miracle of the shouting sun to revive you, the miracle of white plants whose bells are filled with water when this journey of foolishness is beyond you, the miracle of women in spotless white gowns who can cure you by merely singing while holding your hand underwater. But I see red and yellow globes of fire falling from the sky, the cattle mooing in sympathy, the mouths of the richest sinners filled with thorns, the seas applauding, the aromatic lawns that extend into forever, the huge bells of morning languorously intoning the darkness of every nation, the sleeping children yearning to return to heaven where even there they may be safe no longer, the vaults of every bank in the world automatically clicking open, the chanting of the faithful unsealing every door and window, the lilies of the valley turning even their own shadows towards the mountains, the nuns of insanity no longer mourning. In the hospital corridors all is glory, no one is measuring anything anymore, no one blames the greenery, no one is scared silently, every soul appears as it absolutely should be, the tiniest boat in which each of us floats rolls itself backwards towards eternity, the clouds have lost their mystery, the magician raises his fingers from the earth to the sky bringing each river to its source while he’s beckoning each creature to fruition, reminding us that we and the seas are all water, churning water, women rinsing their hairin purity, as we are miracles beyond surcease and spectrum. And in the Garden of the Night the Mother who has sewn every conceivable light into a garment of protection now sleeps, she sleeps cashing in on the results of her labor, she sleeps because the water will carry her underground, she sleeps because the rhythm that none of us fathoms is as simple as dreaming, she sleeps because in sleeping she becomes one with every Other, kissing everything beyond every imaginable horizon, touching everyone who has ever lived and who ever will be, sleeping away every nonsense, cruelty, disorder, blessing me, blessing me, blessing me. And I have you, who plucks the Queen of the Night from her stem and tramples her, you who holds sway over practically nothing dressed up in your rags of treachery, you with crocodiles biting your feet beneath the water, I have you so that I can believe in a miracle.

 Christina Zadawisky 

(Christina is the author of “The Hand on the Head of Lazarus” and a new member).

Christina Zawadiwsky is Ukrainian-American, born in New York City, has a degree in Fine Arts, and is a poet, artist, journalist and TV producer. She has received a National Endowment for the Arts Award, two Wisconsin Arts Boards Awards, a Co-Ordinating Council of  Literary Magazines Writers Award, and an Art Futures Award, among other honors. She was the originator and producer of Where The Waters Meet, a local TV series created to facilitate the voices of artists of all genres in the media, for which she won two national and twenty local awards, including a Commitment to Community Television Award. She is also a contributing editor to the annual Pushcart Prize Anthology, the recipient of an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association, and has published four books of poetry, The World At Large, Kissing The Murderer, Sleeping With The Enemy and The Hand On The head Of Lazarus. She currently reviews movies for  HYPERLINK “” , music for  HYPERLINK “” , and books for  HYPERLINK “” .

We are also happy to announce the arrival of Mong Lan, American poet, musician, and all around Apollonian extraordinaire:

Miss Lan apparently has a flair for the arcane avenues of dissipation which boil as storming clouds do in monsoons of earmarked rain.


BANGKOK [neon lights]  by Mong-Lan, from her chapbook “”Love Poem to Ginger & Other Poems.”

O the orchids of Bangkok!

O the luxuriant ladyboys, their devilish seductive smiles
O the decadence, the freedoms of Bangkok!
your serpentine ways
into another unawares our embrace defined night-days
one thinks in embraces

young girls from the village pretend to be go-go girls
naked from waist up
city girls completely naked
Go-go girls dancing like embarrassed sardines
in the lady-boy club   an effervescent pretend land . . .
Miss Brazil, Miss Mexico,
Miss France, Miss Singapore, surgically amplified.

in another bar
birds breathless up cunts,
ping pong balls inserted, being thrown out
birds flying out of cunts
needles & needles being pulled out of cunts.
a whole string of sharp needles
razors being pulled out     a whole string
of razors being pulled out.

— Mong-Lan

from The Antioch Review, Winter 2005, v. 63, no. 1

Mong-Lan is a multi-disciplinary American poet, writer, painter, photographer, dancer (of Argentine tango), singer (bel canto, tangos), and educator, left her native Vietnam on the last day of the evacuation of Saigon. Mong-Lan’s first book of poems, Song of the Cicadas, won the 2000 Juniper Prize, the 2002 Great Lakes Colleges Association’s New Writers Awards for Poetry. Her other books of poetry include Why is the Edge Always Windy?; Tango, Tangoing: Poems & Art, the bilingual Spanish / English edition, Tango, Tangueando: Poemas & Dibujos ; Love Poem to Tofu and Other Poems (chapbook), and Love Poem to Ginger & Other Poems: poetry & paintings (chapbook). A Wallace E. Stegner Fellow in poetry for two years at Stanford University and a Fulbright Fellow in Vietnam, Mong-Lan received her Master of Fine Arts from the University of Arizona. Her poetry has been frequently anthologized to include in Best American Poetry, The Pushcart Book of Poetry: Best Poems from 30 Years of the Pushcart Prize; Asian American Poetry —The Next Generation; Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia and Beyond (Norton) Visit:


Oh Blue Croon
Blurry man with a hatchet lunar eye
Your memory is a putty axe handle spinning
Oh, blue croon
The cheap karate instructor
A Dollar A Color
The starship made with green dice cheese
The coiffure guitar banjo, held
in wreaths of rain

Shadow arrythmia,
story of the chalk maiden a banished woman
DOA, they called the dope
and she was dead on arrival
Since she passed I ate my voodoo beads one by one
And everyone heard my sermons
As I passed pearl gallstones
In front of the faithful
John Thomas Allen


Hommage1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Heretofore a script was immured with this light of words untouched by imagination, only to say no inhabitantss of the City of Golgonooza. Only the smoking letters moved as weak preying mantises, darting from thumb to thumb in mere cheap sensuality, as that of a Beast in it’s last days of heat: this was the modern script. Even fireflies were to lively for it, too filled with life and vision. Only inhabitants and engaged plugs in the magnetic fields, perhaps USB inserts in an ocean’s floor recorder, could truly accomplish or reach beyond mere minutes slinking the drowning green dots of a digital watch with insomnia.

Also a new Head we have in our group, Peter Cherches, is the author of Lift Your Right Arm and two previous volumes of short prose, Condensed Book and Between a Dream and a Cup of Coffee. His work has appeared in the anthologies Poetry 180 and Up Is Up, But So Is Down: New York’s Downtown Literary Scene, 1974-1992. His fiction and other short prose work has been featured in a wide range of magazines and journals, including Harper’s, Semiotext(e), Transatlantic Review, Fiction International, North American Review, Fence and Bomb. Cherches was active, on page and on stage, in the raucous and unpredictable literary, music and performance scenes of downtown Manhattan in the 1980s. Sonorexia, the avant-vaudeville music/performance group he co-led with Elliott Sharp, appeared at such legendary venues as The Mudd Club and CBGB. Cherches also writes about food and music and is a two-time recipient of New York Foundation for the Arts fellowships in creative nonfiction. He is a native of Brooklyn, New York.

The following is an unpaid presentation of  Dadadeedooooooo, and if you’ve ever had trouble dating, this performance by Mr. Cherches is where it’s at.

Peter Cherches, Brooklyn author of "Lift Your Right Arm," a blogspot entitled "Word of Mouth", and

Peter Cherches, Brooklyn author of “Lift Your Right Arm,” a blogspot entitled “Word of Mouth”, and “Condensed Book”

The Blogger

And we are now privileged to have the company of Skull Man, aka Alan Graham: record producer, singer, author of “I Remember Jim Morrison” available from and his own personal website:


Alan is also one hell of a singer and saxophone player, as evidenced by his home on YouTube:

In other good news, SHAHla ROsa and I have found a home for our Magnetic Fields Redux with Deleted Scenes:  “The Manifestation of Creation”.  On that note, a closing excerpt

A: The icy sound of the gem cutting factory, the rainbow blade squares down, through crystal bits that role like volcanic thimbles and refract the light from all sides, spider web triangles of rainbow tarantulas, I have bitten the teeth of the rainbow blade and filed the clippings.  There are color spectrums out of our concern.  Turn mercury on the porcelain highway, you don’t know where?  Here comes somebody, maybe I should be put my seat belt on.

SR:  A small bird cage can be filled with pieces of railway terminal or lump of sugar. The natural wood can open a door in a frame which is resemble a brick wall. 

A fluttering heart can change in to a white spiral and manifold activities.

JA: The fire escapes wind like captured spiders chasing free legs, but if you DO chase the chart will cease fluttering–secrets of the flying circus, the smashing pagination of the soul, the confetti smoke rings, and the perched branch of your lucidity will burst about, too much for that fluttering 

heart, but only enough.

SR: The capillary tubes horizontally released the liquid to aid varnish the region.

The region of shots drops the dazzled splash which occupying the positive identification.

The luxury of searching and discovery, follows hope and inspiration towards extraordinary statement and a solid foundation, an ignorant desire, could simulate the timid powers

JA:  Only that which remains within itself for a time has any strength.  The rest have no seen that which HAS NO CONTEXTHave you seen the Yellow Sign?  The rituals were unspeakable, candy colored cars running clean in synapses of malachite, barely avoiding the edges….but only the carnivore dumplings who run in the sunlight from this to that  are who trouble our world. (The Positivists.)


Sanctus Alienus: Purring Missals and Soft Black Stars


The relation between the decadent movement of the 19th century–figures like Oscar Wilde, Arthur Symons, Ernest Dowson, Aubrey Beardsley, Thomas Lovell Beddoes, James Thomson and all of those who of whom one could simply say (“They were all Yelllooww..” NOT A COLDPLAY REFERENCE) has a semi well defined place in “the canon” of English literature, although we often fashionably leave out the most extreme–and therefore the most revelatory of these figures: David Park Barnitz:


(Barnitz, the son of a preacher and classmate of Wallace Stevens, was probably the last American decadent and the entirety of his work has been relegated to a website)

Or Emile Nelligan, the unfortunate young man who toppled over into psychosis early in life after writing a collection comparable to Rimbaud or Mallarme:


and the Surrealist movement of the 20 and 21st century is ill defined, indeed.  There are a few books on the subject, but most of them skirt over the actual “literary” connection by focusing on the occult interests of all involved, which is now kind of a moot and obvious point.

We know that Andre Breton was interested in the occult in all forms, of course.  His thirst for transcendence could not be sated by poetic marvels alone: it required corresponding external symbols that rang with what swelled within.



The sense of “the marvelous”, the concept of “objective chance” are indeed all manifestations of ideas by decadent poets, though significantly altered for what was then modernity: objective chance is, really, nothing more than Baudelaire’s idea of “correspondences” given a new name.
Coincidence multiplies when we pay attention, above all when we are charged with certain energies and moving outside the grooves of familiar routines and mindsets. André Breton, the French Surrealist, called coincidence “objective chance”. In his amazing narrative L’Amour fou (“Mad Love”) Breton shows us the state of mind, and the pattern of behavior, that turns us into walking synchronicity magnets.
What required is the kind of openness to the unexpected the French call disponibilité and, beyond this the choice of “lyric behavior”: the willingness to give oneself to the “dazzling revenge” of the imagination on a world of stubborn facts.

Baudelaire, the decadent par excellence, was perhaps more clear:


Nature is a temple where living pillars
Let escape sometimes confused words;
Man traverses it through forests of symbols
That observe him with familiar glances.
Like long echoes that intermingle from afar
In a dark and profound unity,
Vast like the night and like the light,
The perfumes, the colors and the sounds respond.There are perfumes fresh like the skin of infants
Sweet like oboes, green like prairies,
—And others corrupted, rich and triumphantThat have the expanse of infinite things,
Like ambergris, musk, balsam and incense,
Which sing the ecstasies of the mind and senses.. . .

The obsession with dreams, reverie, the ideal–that puffy burst of white ivory leaving dimples that grow, in the suffocating silence of everyday life (which is to say the music made by words separated in the cadences of space) and then stop speaking as a necessity of another puffy burst–began more with figures like Alfred Jarry, Jacques Vache, indeed, more with figures like Hopkins and Novalis than it did with Breton.

The difference between the decadents embrace of death and Surrealism is simple but not, and in that respect is a pretty good confirmation of what The New Surrealist Group is really about.

A Huysmans would have been content–an early Huysmans, probably–to let the buck stop at his idle reveries, at his attempts to escape into the pure state, whatever that really is–and while Huysmans is listed in the Surrealist Manifesto as one of our progenitors, Surrealism has never supported resignation or death worship of any kind.  (Or has it?)  Some of the greatest figures of the surrealist group, as with the decadents, came to early or bad ends: Artaud, Crevel, Unica Zurn?

There is a paradox here which is cheap because of the simplicity: it is a duende struggling with itself, indeed, clawing itself to death in and effort to live.  How does a surrealist find balance when his very existence is predicated upon the constant and vehement rejection of any security at all?  How does he not either burn his psychic energies in extremity and lament in old age or just die an early death?

The answer, this Neo Surrealist believes, is given shape in the form of poems by figures like Will Alexander, Lee Ballentine, Andrew Joron, Jayne Cortez, SHalha ROsa, Adam Cornford, Julian Semilian, or John Olson.  These men are not mad, at least not that i know of, and are also still alive, still living the dream even when they aren’t awake.  Perhaps this is the best development we’ve seen in the 21st century–men and women who may be torn and frayed by the quest of the wanderer along the highway but still walking.

A note from the extreme secular arm:

“Comrade Breton, your interest in phenomena of objective chance does not appear clear to me. Yes, I know well that Engels referred to this notion, but I ask myself if, in your case, it isn’t something else. I am not sure you aren’t interested in keeping open [his hands described a little space in the air] a little window on the beyond.” Leon Trotsky