Return of the World

Todd Baron

1988 • 48 pp. • $9.00
ISBN: 9780929022024

Purchase from Small Press Distribution

Return of The World is really airy and wide open to multiple associations which widen to a continually enlarging expanse: “no scheme to the possibility that creation was all matter, a boat somehow without lake, flying, above us, no part yet to go to.”


Born in Hollywood, Todd Baron was a child actor, performing in movies, television, and voice-overs, for twelve years. He attended Immaculate Heart College for two years, studying with Martha Ronk, and later—focusing on contemporary poetics—with Peter Levitt. In 1984 he moved to San Francisco, studying at New College with various California poets, including Robert Duncan, Michael Palmer, Lyn Hejinian, and Diane DiPrima. He earned his Master’s degree in poetics in 1989, returning to live in Los Angeles.

Earlier, Baron edited a journal, ISSUE (1982-1876) with Tosh Berman, and when that journal ceased, he began Re*Map (1989-2001). With Dennis Phillips, Martha Ronk and Paul Vangelisti, he co-founded Littoral books in 1991, a press that developed out of these poets’ relationships with Lee Hickman. In 1997 he and Noah De Lissovy ran a poetics reading series at Otis Art Institute (now Otis College of Art). Over the past few years he has written art criticism for various journals, including ArtnewsArt Issues, and New Art Examiner.

Baron taught at the Otis Art Institute, Los Angeles City College, and West Los Angeles College. For the past eight years, he has taught at the Crosssroads School for the Arts and Sciences in Santa Monica. He also continues to work with film, serving as a literary consultant to Klasky Csupo animation studios.

Although clearly influenced by his various teachers along the way, particularly in connection with their relations to “Language” poetry, Baron’s writing is often centered on a fludity of movement in line and meaning strongly influenced by film.


The Rooms

we stuff machines or they stuff us
yet coming back to one body
that is really a gutter stream
from up the same block, some-
one washing or watering his car
was bald of course,
he had no hair & we being right
took what little comfort playing dead
in the upper reaches of a tree,
climbing thru a window to look for
something up there, up &
filled from side to side with music,
inside the room, was always dark, &
everyone’s house was like that, no scheme
to the possibility that creation was all matter,
a boat somehow without lake, flying, above us,
no part yet to go to, it, being
nothing of the sort, we talk now, later
from an incomplete list brought about by some advent
that hasn’t the time to
pluck itself from the book, to focus such
attention of the sound of this pronouncement,
careful in consideration, you might
smash the past with doctrine, making all the time
an essay on syntax,
leaning to the remainders, a table, there, if broken
yields light, from where it can be seen,
down to where the action is, we had
nothing to speak of & yet were the lucky ones,
thinking, shouldn’t they be the happiest children
on earth, the planet, resolves, a sound like
water, water like sound, over there,
behind spread fencing, topped at the top with razor,
who thought they’d improve the barbing-
if we indeed decree by moon or light
“up-there” passing inherent
to where it came from, gone
as it were, in the passing phrase, back &
once again, further on, where
names withheld me, or
we fluttered by in the whiteness
of nothing else, late or passing
by, inherent in every-
thing, we must have focused on
the difficulties down, waiting for another bed,
thinking, a dug out place a hundred years later,
a narrow bed a sea or lair
withstanding the physical sense, satisfied, is
nothing left, late, about the space
we turn over, then, if it is so,
more space than time, no change
in everything actual, rings
at the bottom of a pool, head biting head,
where the real flower sits
as it’s known, splitting open.
something there that comes,
that comments on or will,
there by itself, grammar
of the field, field anywhere taken
where voice is fact of air, now that
seasons come over the bridge, a man
woman or child, the act of stating “that’s it”, or
That is it. sitting & reading, call it
Out on the Playing Field, a ball
held tightly by rope, the wrist, red, upper portions
of the plate,
place is a black substance, a rest
not a glottal, memory coherent with time
taken from him, linked to sleep &
language taken in seams, not by breath, a cool’d longing
what voice is mines, what voice is voiced, over
the drum humming,
by wanting
time & tone again, paper refolds
& is folding a secretive want
by the waves or the wants
fenced in the sentence’s turning, in with an out
of a thick fingered now
light light reflection, say
nothing, say self is bound
for circumference to stop,
temporality timed for collusion
where nothing heard
on hearing drops.