Ben Mirov - We have boring ideas, this is called living. And when she bleeds on the sheets we want to know why

Ben Mirov, Ghost Machine (Caketrain, 2010)

"Ben Mirov’s Ghost Machine was chosen by Michael Burkard as the winning manuscript in the 2009 Caketrain Chapbook Competition. At first blush, the bluntly unadorned veneer of Mirov’s poems suggests a mode of confessional domestic realism, the “I”/“Eye” who simply “can’t let go of the things I write.” Indeed, our ghost—however transitory, fugitive, adrift on a river of sulk—remains fascinated with, even enamored of, the human condition. But as these mantric poems build upon each other, layering realities sentence by sentence, the machine unravels its exotic tendrils, teasing the reader toward unprecedented perspectives on love, loss, the connective urge and the phantom desires that twist like smoke in the lungs of the living."

“The character, Ghost Machine, in Ben Mirov’s extraordinary poems creeps me out. It makes me feel uncomfortable, frustrated, and, at times, flat-out angry. I want to tell it to do something and be done with it. ‘Get a life,’ I say. But it never leaves me alone. Creepy’s good. Discomfort and anger are good. Feeling anything intensely in this life is good, from both sides of the grave.” - Ralph Angel

“The arrival of character into poetry’s stream of complexities, in this case, plenty complexity recycled for sure, is a cause for celebration when its arrival brings with it ideas, feelings, experiences and challenges filled with life-fortifying, exponentially enriching currents. Mirov’s poems sometimes seem as though they are composed with ghosts in mind, jilted zombies who eat and drink just like we do, who deadpan and mix explosive combinations to surprise and maybe, maybe let us visit what we’d miss if we weren’t invited into Mirov’s plan: I plan to be another language in the body of a deer.” - Dara Wier

“Ben Mirov is the champion of the sentence. Every sentence is perfectly carved from a cold metal machine in the BART tunnels of Oakland that loops reality. They erase what they compress. I read this book and then puke in the shower. I read this book and then bleed on the sheets. My earlobes are wet. My pants are too small. These poems are about needing to touch something that you know your hand will go through. Mirov’s poems are sick and crushing. This book marks the end of fucking around.” - Zachary Schomburg

"This book is freaky, incredible, and one of my favorite sublime objects in a long while." - Blake Butletr

"The ghost is spirit, immaterial, beyond the boundary of what lives. The machine has a mass; it is made from parts and moves though it remains stationary. Thus Mirov's poems move like parts, yet remain immaterial; they describe a world of the spirit where we see moving parts. The sentence rules. The imagination is based upon a foundation of parataxis. If the poem is lineated on the page like a poem, if the poem is given the contours of a prose poem, this means almost nothing: these poems explore the sentence in its simplest, most marvelous form. 'My ideas are boring. She bleeds on the sheets.' We have boring ideas, this is called living. And when she bleeds on the sheets we want to know why: is this an ordinary bleeding or a more sinister flow? Mirov doesn't tell us. We have imaginations. 'I act like myself at a coffee shop and try not to shake.' I remember something called phenomenology, an excruciating inventorying of every noticed moment and its content. These are phenomenological poems. The ghost of Jack Spicer presides. Daily life is both plague and joy. 'I just want a job with an income.' And 'The earlobe is wet.' The ordinary collides with ecstatic renewal, something. The narrator of Ghost Machine isn't writing a novel though he might as well be. 'I go to the shop where they sell machines that keep you up.' In our dreams the machine is what helps us live; in our nightmares it is something other, a low hum of menace. It seems as if the ghost in this machine is an elementary school teacher, or works with children in some capacity. 'My kids fall asleep in dirty t-shirts.' We don't ever know for sure. People go to clubs. 'I arrive late and don't buy a drink.' People have relationships. They are sad. 'I get nervous about dating.' It doesn't matter. It does. This book feels like a novel. One can read it as a novel, quickly. One is absorbed in tracing the connections between various points, as one does in a story. Mirov might well be a novelist hiding in a poet's skin. The lines are often beautiful. 'I plan to be another language in the body of a deer.' The spirit can move from body to body, poem to poem, line to line. Everything is moving, existence a river. Echoes are heard throughout. Lines are given a variant drift. One thinks one hasn't read a poem, only to discover one has. The context shifts. The pressure is urban, like New Wave French cinema. These poems seek love, that great vast emptiness. These poems seek an impossible authority. 'The streets are filled with outlines coated in rain. I have to erase what I compress. I can't get to the end of the block. I turn around and hear a voice.'
Ghost Machine exhibits an elegant sense of design - font, page layout - and a wonderful cover. If you are willing to buy one book of poetry this summer, make it Ghost Machine and take it with your wherever you go." - Jon Cone

"GHOST MACHINE by Ben Mirov is 110 pages long. It is composed of 42 individual poems. Many of the poems were composed between 2006 and 2007 in the Mission District of San Francisco, California. The poems in GHOST MACHINE can be best described as collage poems. The poems frequently reuse certain lines, putting them into new contexts. Words like and, or, it and a recur frequently throughout the collection. Pronouns such as I, he, she and they also frequently recur. This repetition of words and sentences contributes to the sense that these poems are pretty boring. Very little seems to happen in individual poems and throughout the course of the collection. Many parts of the book seem to encapsulate moments where very little to absolutely nothing occurs. Here is a selection of some of the most boring sentences in the book:
1.) I was buying broccoli.
2.) I’m sleeping on a couch.
3.) I switch cheese steak for burrito and feel the same.
4.) My ideas are boring.
5.) I switch Hot Lesbian Sandwich for Elements Taken From Trees.
6.) I look at a plastic bottle.
7.) We find a boring lake.
8.) My penis looks at a table
9.) They have office-sex.
10.) I hang around on someone else’s couch.
Many of the sentences in GHOST MACHINE are about a young, occasionally unemployed male who spends most of his time making poor life decisions, in bad relationships, at bars or parks or asleep. The narrator in these poems seems like an undesirable individual who lacks a strong sense of ethics. The narrator in GHOST MACHINE can best be described as passive, emotionally ambivalent, under the influence of illegal narcotics, horny, lonely, confused or all of the above. Many of the sentences encapsulate moments of extreme ephemerality. Some of the sentences contain typos and or make very little sense. A large number of the sentences seem detached from reality. At times the book seems to contain a linear narrative, but mostly the narrative threads don’t go anywhere. Here is a list of places it would be good to read GHOST MACHINE:
1.) 2007, Hush Hush Bar, San Francisco, CA (14th and Gurrero)
2.) Tundra
3.) 2079: San Angeles, People’s Republic of California
4.) riding the “porcelain tractor”
5.) kitchen floor
6.) in bed, fully clothed, 2-4pm
7.) shower, fully clothed, crying
8.) next to refrigerator, naked, crying
9.) street corner, invisible, crying
10.) next to Ben Mirov, naked, in a loud high pitched falsetto
After reading this book somewhere between 200 or 300 times, I believe it is fatally flawed. Many of the poems seem content to be total failures. It seems like the only thing GHOST MACHINE succeeds at is failing. Here is a list of things you can do with your copy of GHOST MACHINE, besides reading it:
1.) Inadequate Halloween Mask
2.) short-range frisbee
3.) domino
4.) sandwich pedestal
5.) time machine
6.) mobius strip
7.) Valentine’s Day gift for loved one.
8.) Mother’s Day gift.
9.) 7 Habits of Highly Ineffective People
10) Swamp.
As a work of literature, GHOST MACHINE will probably never be considered “an eternal classic.” It will probably never be mentioned in the same sentence as works of literature such as The Selected Poems of W.H. Auden, or that one poem by Edgar Allen Poe about the bird. If this book ever becomes a well-regarded piece of literature, it will probably happen sometime in the future, like the year 2060. Someone, probably a disillusioned grad student, will find a copy of GHOST MACHINE in the dollar bin at a used bookstore and attempt to write his or her thesis on it. The thesis will receive a B minus, but because of the obscurity of the book, the grad student’s peers will embrace it as a lost classic. Consequently, they will write many posts about it on various literature blogs and futuristic media outlets, thereby rescuing GHOST MACHINE from total obscurity and improving their credibility amongst small select groups of their peers. GHOST MACHINE will go on to determine the course of American Poetry for about two or three weeks, but the author, Ben Mirov won’t care because he will have spent his entire life working as an adjunct English professor in downtown Brooklyn or he will have moved to Chico, California to raise llamas and die alone." - Ben Mirov
Ben Mirov, I Is to Vorticism (New Michigan Press, 2010)

"Bad-assed and woven of very rich thread, Mirov’s debut is an awesome and highly entertaining one. Let’s hear from the experts on the subject: “A recurring character in the poetry of Ben Mirov is Ben Mirov, part charming host, part self-inflicted lab experiment in a debut dedicated to demonstrating our daily, perilous transformations. These poems are sudden, agile, heart-strong, and as wonderfully unsolvable as their analogical title. Welcome to the surgical theater. You’re finally going to learn how to sleep with your eyes open.” — Dobby Gibson

“These poems and parables celebrate the idea of no self, even as they sing a host of eccentric alter-egos and delightfully strange secretidentities into being. Using ‘interstellar ventriloquism,’ Ben Mirov is able to inhabit several worlds at once. He deftly mixes the mythic with the mundane, the literary with the cartoonish, sincerity and simulacra. The result is an impressive, often hilarious, book that truly works on many
levels.” —Elaine Equi

"Recently Ben Mirov sent me his chapbook I IS TO VORTICISM. I read through it several times and it's wonderful. The poems are beautifully written and both weird and quirky enough for me to enjoy them.
In his poem, "Orgasmanism," he writes:
"When I think of our relationship
I think of a magician with a dove in his pants
or a giraffe that must fall six feet to be born."
In, "Monkey Heart," he writes:
"I love my fucking life.
Even my secrets
and the terrible things I've done."
In, "Until a green flash consumes my raft and I," he writes:
"If I throw the baby into the sky the sky
won't accept it.
But if I drop the baby into the sea the sea
will absorb it."

It's a really solid collection and well worth the $9.00." - Brandi Wells

"The poems of Ben Mirov come at you from odd angles. They seem about to tell you something – eat a hamburger, learn to juggle, go to the movies – but surprise you instead. One feeling is ‘[a]nger at the cucumber’ and ‘beer is also a feeling.’ Literary and artistic allusions abound – Max Jacob, Robert Walser, James Tate, Moondog, Tu Fu, Haruki Murakami – yet these poems aren’t freighted like you might expect. They’re light, they move quickly, short efficient lines, spare images in simple language that ask the reader to leap from one line to the next. Though Mirov nowhere mentions him, Tomaz Salamun - the Slovenian poet who will one year in the near future receive the Nobel Prize - is a looming influence. Just as Salamun proceeds recklessly through a poem, so too Mirov. In an age when workshops distribute their polished fakery everywhere there is something incontestably courageous in writing a poem that aspires to be nothing less than a sincere and final dishevelment. “No feeling is also a feeling,/a powerful one surrounded by all feelings.” The poem concludes with a wonderful fragment that ‘[f]lows together at 4:17 in the afternoon.’ This seems an allusion to that other wonderful poem about Time’s passing: Frank O’Hara’s ‘The Day Lady Died’. Whereas O’Hara chooses to move his banal catalog of time-ridden duties to that moment where the narrator experiences a grief-filled alertness – and experiences being thrown out of time - Mirov uses a catalog of timeless instances – narcotic, artistic, poetic, sensual – to remind us suddenly that this flowing outside of Time is nevertheless surrounded by Time: all things flowing together at a specific time in the afternoon. I wish I had Mirov’s facility for producing poems with such grand aristocratic ease – at least this is the way his poems appear to me. I wish I had his material disregard for what a poem should be or sound like. And I wish I had his ability to leap from line to line, to segregate revelation and issue the results sequentially in a way that yet makes a sense. Of his parents Mirov writes: ‘They are so dear to me/like two wolves who raised me/to be nothing like them.’ A group of people playing ultimate Frisbee gives each other high-fives and this is an occasion to wonder about high-fives, what they mean and what happens to them as the occasion for their display recedes: ‘The high-fives continue well into the night, at the bar, thought the intensity of the exchange grows less and less. For some of us the high-fives continue even longer, as we lie alone in bed.’ Loneliness kept at bay is what high-fives are really about. The image is poignant, innocent. It suggests. The prose poem ‘Cloud of Unknowing’ is a collage piece based upon an English textbook for Nepalese students: ‘How many years did the house stand after it was built? […] Did the various automatic machines in the house realize that there was no one home in the house that day? What do you think caused the sickness and death of the dog? What happened to its dead body?’ The original writer was some kind of genius that Mirov discovered and worked on as Lish worked on Carver. And the odd title? It’s given an explanation, of sorts. This collection comes highly recommended." - Jon Cone

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