Five Sonnets by John Lowther

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Five Sonnets
John Lowther

I never resist temptation, because I have found that things that are bad for me do not tempt me.

That will make more sense when we’re actually doing it.

This kind of judgment emanates from a hot emotional space, not from a cool intellectual one.

To whoever tagged this “gonads and strife”: Excellent.

You know, vacuum, dust, mop and help me move the furniture so I can clean behind them as well.

Certain people I imagine naked every time I see them.

Ultimately this is the only thing that interests me.

Yeah, that’s right, I said it.


I’m so over school.

I got my own ideas.

I like to sleep a lot.

The ethic that is never relinquished is that which embraces exploration, experiment and play.

This sentence no verb.

Clean and set this wig.

You change life for me.

If the egg sinks to the bottom, but stands on its point, it’s still good but needs to be used soon.

Nothing is possible.

You left this at mine.

Theoretically, yes.


You have to make retarded podcasts to keep yourself entertained because porn is so boring.

I think it depends on how much you consider humanity to be an invasive species on the earth.

Meditation on scripture is like a cow chewing its cud.

That requires a tank, and something pneumatic to run.

My life is like a glacier.

Fate doesn’t give a fuck.

Any event, once it has occurred, can be made to appear inevitable by a competent historian.

As an unabashed shoe person, I gotta say that I love the blue satin pumps and am meh on the boots.


 Piss off fuck face.

This is not a pipe.

We found a real gem.

I had my face done.

Get over yourselves.

You’ve eaten earwax.

Give him a blow job.

Enjoy the jewelry.

Look at her lips.

Use insecticide.

This is not rain.

A change in enunciative value is produced as a result of the new system of inscription, which because it is organized, has wide-ranging, yet regulated, effects.

Some people, though, simply do not ‘telegraph’ any information about their sexuality.

Here’s the kicker.

You should think of a lesson as a weapon in love.




This is my time.

In both directions at once.

I can only see the dead ends everywhere I look.

There is great disorder under heaven and the situation is excellent.

Blocking relationships are computed for local pairs of parts that are in contact with one another.

It’s a huge myth that unconditional love, or radical acceptance of someone you care about, requires you to accept them for who they are.

That’s the gist.

When in doubt, freak ’em out.

All the road signs have been pulled down.

Russian roulette isn’t the same without a gun.

Note on the Text
555, is a collection of sonnets whose creation is database-driven and relies upon text analytic software.
The frame or measure is quite mechanical. I crunched and analyzed Shakespeare’s sonnets, then divided by how many to arrive at averages for words, syllables and characters (inclusive of punctuation but not spaces). These averages (101 words, 129 syllables, 437 characters)became requirements for three groups of sonnets (185 in each).
Parallel to this I started a database for lines found virtually anywhere (though I tended to avoid poaching from poetry). Values for word, syllable and character are recorded. Typos and grammatical oddities are preserved and the lines cannot be edited, though they can be swapped out for other lines of the same value.
Line selection isn’t rule driven and inevitably reflects my reading, watching, listening and thus my slurs as much as my passions, my amusements and those things that disturb me. I espouse only the sonnets, not any one line. Some irk me, others please. Some are just off somehow. There are also intentional banalities as I think they can be made to resonate as well as horrible statements that I try to break in some fashion through context.
Sonnets are assembled using nonce patterns or number schemes, by ear, or notion, or loose association, by tense or lexis or tone. Every sonnet must match the average exactly.
The completed sonnet count as of this writing is 404. I’ll be done when all 555 make it through editing. So at the level where all this database and text analytic stuff takes place things are pretty frosty and procedural, but line selection is extremely idiosyncratic, and as the implementation is not automated inevitable mistakes creep in (which I correct if I find them). I often think of Pound’s “dance of the intellect among words” but it is less words than sentences (or units punctuated as such) amongst which I move. The dance in question tracing out a knot (rather, a gnot) that holds the lines together for me.
Poetics Statement
I’ve already said too much it seems to me, but here I go (in somewhat didactic form). All Language Is Poetry (that we do not always recognize this is due to “occlusion” otherwise known as “taking language for granted”). ALIP, a lip, All L is P, lisp. Writing from the head, by what is called “inspiration” is all well and good if that is what you desire, but we are all Systems of Low-Level Regularities (Harry Mathews), SLLR, which read upside down with bad glasses is “slurs” which works quite well doesn’t it? Just as the drunken fool tells you the same story thrice, that we are systems of low-level regularities, that we have slurs — poetic habits at the conscious and unconscious levels — requires (if one might wish to outrun these things) that we adopt other measures than inspiration with which inspiration can, perhaps, combine. Having a poetics, like having a “voice”, is something I try to stay one (or more) step ahead of. Something is following me though, I catch sight of it now and then, it means me no good. It speaks.
John Lowther co-founded the Atlanta Poets Group in 1997 and quit in 2012. The University of New Orleans Press published The Lattice Inside: An Atlanta Poets Group Anthology in 2012. Forthcoming from Lavender Ink is John and Dana Lisa Young’s book Held to the Letter. He edits 3rdness Press. He is writing his dissertation on the intersections of Lacanian psychoanalysis and queer theory with issues raised for these by transgender and intersex people. For the moment, he lives in North Carolina.

One thought on “Five Sonnets by John Lowther

    5 @ AltPoetics | John Lowther said:
    November 15, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    […] I hadn’t set up this blog yet when these came out, but was reminded of them today. So, here’s the LINK. […]

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