Saturday, April 6, 2013


6 April 2013
Why is milk good?
        Gertrude Stein, “Say it with flowers”

First play
So much milk
rivers of milk
my milk runneth over
    you mean your cup

    yes, a cup of milk for your thoughts

Second play
spilt milk
milk and honey and tea
milky t

don't sour my milk now

Third play
Here comes the milkman!
    Milkman who?

    Milkman Dead.
    He is?
Oh mother, we’re out of
milk again.   

Fourth play
Born in a stroke of milk
    mother’s milk
    father’s milk
under the milkweed

    (too rough for fishing today)

Fifth play
Hurry hurry, the sick won't wait
bring your brolly &
milk of magnesia

But I prefer jelly


(Last Act)
I photographed this shelf of cobalt blue bottles last summer in Billy Proctor's Museum on Gilford Island, Echo Bay, BC.  For more on Echo Bay, Billy Proctor and his museum, see

The idea for dividing a poem into discrete exchanges or actions, each of which you might call a play--rather than a stanza--is borrowed from Gertrude Stein's early experiments with writing plays, in which heavy formal titles divide snatches of overheard conversation and wordplay. See for example, her Geography and Plays, first published in 1922.

Milkman Dead is a character in Toni Morrison's novel Song of Solomon, the boy who won't be weaned, and who then flies away.

The lines "too rough for fishing today" and the idea of visiting the sick with jelly and poems are taken from Under Milk Wood, Dylan Thomas's 1953 poem/play about the events of a single spring day in  lives of the coastal villagers of Llareggub, Wales. The piece, which is written as poem, radio play ("a play for voices") and for stage performance,  is filled with dreams and ghosts, inward musings and overheard gossip; it is a more highly structured, evolved, and palatable form of the sorts of play/poems Stein wrote.

(Last last act)
Why is milk good?
Is it?

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