Sunday, January 10, 2010


One week ago today there was a guerrilla reading of Gertrude Stein’s work at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, organized by the inimitable CA Conrad, Philly poetry’s modern day Ben Franklin. I got to it late but did get to read the following passage from A Long Gay Book, a work Stein began writing over 100 years ago:

Beef yet, beef and beef and beef. Beef yet, beef yet.

Water crowd and sugar paint, water and the paint.

Wet weather, wet pen, a black old tiger skin, a shut in shout and a negro coin and the best behind and the sun to shine.

A whole cow and a little piece of cheese, a whole cow openly.

A cousin to a cow, a real cow has wheels, it has turns it has eruptions, it has the place to sit.

A wedding glance is satisfactory. Was the little thing a goat.

A, open, Open.

Leaves of hair which pretty prune makes a plate of care which sees seas leave perfect set. A politeness.

Call me ellis, call me it in a little speech and never say it is all polled, do not say so.

Does it does it weigh. Ten and then. Leave off grass. A little butter closer. Hopes hat.

Listen to say that tooth which narrow and lean makes it so best that dainty is delicate and least mouth is in between, what, sue sense.

Little beef, little beef sticking, hair please, hair please.

No but no but butter.

Coo cow, coo coo coo.

Coo cow leaves of grips nicely.

It is no change. It is ordinary. Not yesterday. Needless, needless to call extra. Coo Coo Coo Cow.

Leave love, leave love let.

No no, not it a line not it tailing, tailing in, not it in.

Hear it, hear it, hear it.

Notes. Notes change hay, change hey day. Notes change a least apt apple, apt hill, all hill, a screen table, sofa, sophia.

Ba but, I promise, I promise that that what what is chased is chased big and cannily and little little is big too big best.

No price list, no price list, a price-list, a price and list and so collected, so collected pipe, all one cooler, a little apple needs a hose a little nose is colored, a little apple and a chest, a pig is in the sneezing, no blotter, raised ahead.

I promise that there is that.

The hour when the seal up shows slobber. Does this mean goat. It does yes.

Be a cool purpose and a less collection and more smell more smell.

Leave smell well.

There was some concern as to whether the museum or, more importantly, its guards might object to a dozen people suddenly appearing in a gallery to read from the works of Ms. Stein, and I understand that negotiating did occur at the moment of the reading’s inception that resulted in the exchange of portions of a chocolate bar to sweeten the deal, the remainder of which was later divided among poets in compensation for our efforts. At the end of the reading – which turned out to be me, laggard that I was – we gathered at the rotunda that joins the modern & European wings of the museum & simultaneously tossed pennies into the fountain.