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Anselm Berrigan reads from Pregrets


I have been to many Anselm Berrigan readings over the years and they are always a pleasure because Anselm is a pleasure, and his latest reading was no different.

For some, however, pleasure might not be the first word that comes to mind when they open Pregrets, his new book that plays, as one might guess, with the word regret.

Decisions are ultimatums; the word once spoken or the deed once done cannot be unsaid or undone ever again. We all know that, but what about before and after? In Pregrets, every poem is punctuated with commas, not periods, poems without end in a sense, that might seem on first appearance monoliths, not to be so much read, as scaled to reach the top and crow from the summit, “I’ve done it!” But not so.

“Touch anywhere to begin,” one poem says. You can begin anywhere you want, but of course, you have to start. Don’t be scared; breathe; or rather, read, and you will be surprised and pleased by all the sights (sites) you’ll see. 

The poems reminded me of a boyhood stream I used to go to where you had to plunge in from a cliff, always glad when you dared and did. Go with the flow and you will know. Jump in.



I’ve typed out three poems from Pregrets to get a little closer to the playful often uncanny images, words reinvented, sound and sense, little eye blinks of epiphanies, one after the other, and there is humor; sometimes you have to chuckle, which is always a pleasure, don’t you think?



I shouldn’t be yelling at these little ones 
so often, I shouldn’t put them through
yelling how much I despise finding myself
yelling, a cruel Russian doll of stupidity
I call myself stupidity hereinhere and
force a flat feeling into view between this
and you, sorry about that, I lack many life
skills, yet the form’s renewal when you sends
back the check to lonesome box
all the way over where, my being from a
colossal nobody there, draws a crowd’s
blood from its great figurative style, I don’t
know dick, I administer all punishment
get broken down to my constituent parts
cyclically, each one reverts to complex
symbol marinated in non-poignant oils
Tom, Dick & Harry being nasty, oblivious
vaguely reticent embargoes of community
if society is truly breaking down, it’s not
happening fast enough, for myself, as a
parent, I have to bake pain into the plastic

brain will skip these stations in both directions, black
out blink on the mind, on-the-go transit info kiosks a
hit, you know Planned Service Changes didn’t do it
the Degas rehearsal dancers in their slasher flick masks
didn’t do it, the El Greco portrait of St. Jerome’s hung
too high over the fucking fireplace to do anything, no
grip to lose, happy bestriding a grotesque fish, decom-
posure on mantle, innocent of alienware gaming grunts
open to unremediated flowsure of misperceptions, ding
set for news, there comes unnamable horror, an endless
scroll of possible names to choose, or here goes, rococo
twist of sconce and reflection, Admi, Ado, Annihi, fella
always dressed only in white, white top, white slacks
white egg shell cap, white mutterings, for years nearby
picks up flattened can, halfway across 3rd & 1st’s white
ladder walk, chucks it, in the nw corner trash, cult of blue
sky’s derangeable mail campaign ass-ready to interject
q-tip’s voice following body from room to cave to slide-
walked afterpath, handwriting an only drawn idea
accords with the choke-enticed ocelot at the animation
pit, slant shack swallows shadow snack, all this time
banished, let the ghostly remains go image, hope it’s a
sweet cost, let the ghostly remainders scatter, or move
let remains of a ghostly image remain, you better move


weirding spotlit apertures, cormorant neck in hell’s
gate grey, oathkeeprs patrol the fringe, making images  
of controlled insanity, a closed cube unborn to non- 
interior, the blues come forward, white a deathly 
institution, cross concept punishing armature, inert 
reflectivity is a sign the interior ruptured pineapples  
are cloning, coming, outwards seep, recesses shooting 
up ink is what the de fantasizez over, the spaceship 
snapshot of the former planet lay plainly on my  
desktop, green-like, blue-like, oil-like red, cylinders 
float stuck-like, to what techno was when, no window 
blues assault an illusion of light into the body whole  
fold me, creature in male skin lurks between stranger 
& corner, I test the lock politely, this other person  
recedes into rent, sometimes I’m cool with the colors  
being flat, mantle thumps behind my spine, wash  
tannins off mugged conscience, should I read this 
shit in progress to the wifi stranger to my left, phone 
dead you can’t find me, who can’t quite understandably 
the understanding platform eraseth, wear the whether 
suits, I’m a skin that bears slovenly dress to uphold 
a counterpro invisibly, there were hole histories in 
every body that spoke, directly or half, near and to me  
the ledge commands a conclusionary charcoal magenta 
smog the others stammers a gentle subsidy to go 



Pregrets is published by Black Square Editions. You can check it out here:



drawing by Brendan Lorber


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