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Vol. I No. II Spring 1972

Statement of Editorial Policy

The editorial board of The Noiseless
Spider agrees with Henry Miller that the pangs
of birth relate not to the body but to the
spirit. It was demanded of us to know love,
experience union and communion, and thus
achieve liberation from the wheel of life and
death. But we have chosen to remain this side
of Paradise and to create through art the il-
lusory substance of our dreams. In a profound
sense we are forever delaying the act. We flirt
with destiny and lull ourselves to sleep with
myth. We die in the throes of our own tragic
legends, like spiders caught in our own web.

Published by the English Club of the University of New Haven



Interview with

Joel Oppenheimer


A Eulogy Is

Not For You

Tony Crocamo


Scattered People

A. Zaglauer



John M. Grudzien



Michael W. York


Oh Lone Ranger

Tom Peterson



Alvin Fritz



Robert G. Finley



Lynn Hagman


At your throat

Peter Moore


Radio Rune

Claudia Stephens




Rachael Deitsch Sandman


Mr. Johnson Let His Wife

Keep the House and Children

Alice Tucker


Supermarket worker

Peter J. Moore



Alvin Fritz


If I Declare Myself

Tom Peterson



Wally Swist



Tony Crocamo



Linda Mandeville


To the Sirens



Excerpts from the Unpublished

Journals of Colin Wilson



Robert G. Finley



Peter J. Moore's Supermarket worker is the recipient of this issue's
award for the best literary work submitted by a student to be published
in THE NOISELESS SPIDER. Runners-up in no special order are: Oh
Lone Ranger by Tom Peterson, A Eulogy is Not for You by Tony
Crocamo, Mr. Johnson Let His Wife Keep the House and Children by
Alice Tucker, V2 by WaUy Swist, and Paranoia by Alvin Fritz.


Interview with Poet Joel Oppenheimer

On December 10, 1971, the
UNH English Club and the editorial
staff of The Noiseless Spider invited
the well-known poet Joel Oppen-
heimer to give a reading from his
published works at the University
of New Haven. The remarks which
follow were made by Oppenheimer
in the course of three separate ex-
changes on that day. The Noiseless
Spider takes full responsibility for
the accuracy with which the vari-
ous strands of the poet's conversa-
tional web were later woven

Spider: May we begin by offering you a dynamite cup of
our English Club coffee?

Oppenheimer: Great. I could use something liquid after the
drive up here.

Spider: It's not terribly good, unfortunately. One of the
girls cleaned the percolator the other day (for the first time
since September) and our Java has lost some of its zing!

Oppenheimer: That'll suit me fine. I'm on the wagon, any-
way. Not too much zing will be just the thing . . .

Spider: We realize this is your first actual visit to this
campus, but in a sense you've been here many times be-

Oppenheimer: I have?

Spider: Yup. That is, your poems have been on this campus
many times. For instance, Donald M. Allen's famous an-
thology The New American Poetry, which contains a gener-
ous selection of your poems, has been used in a couple of
courses here in recent years. So has Walter Lowenfels' Poets
of Today. Joel Oppenheimer is hardly a stranger around

Oppenheimer: Well, now I know why the mud-turtle green
of these walls looked vaguely familiar . . .

Spider: Tell us about some of your favorite writers. Nor-
man Mailer has been going around for some years boasting
that he intends to KO the champ, Hemingway, right out of
the ring. Who do you consider the champ in the sphere of
American poetry these days?

Oppenheimer: Well, I can only speak of the poets who mat-
ter to me personally. Norman's lively metaphor is not so
easy to apply to poetry. As for the domain of prose, I
think Norman himself is uncontestably the champ at the
moment. Nobody in America is doing so many things so
well as he in prose today. He's a fantastic talent! I find
myself disagreeing with a lot of the things he says and
does, but nobody even approaches him as a prose stylist.
As for the poets, I would say that those who matter most
are people like Bob Creeley and Paul Blackburn and Ed
Dom. I've learned a great deal from Charles Olson, of
course— for years and years he was my master, my god!

Spider: What about Denise Levertov? She's an important
talent of the Black Mountain group also, isn't she?

Oppenheimer: Denise is a very nice girl. And of course
she's been indefatigable in her opposition to the Vietnam
war . . . [Roguish pause] .

Spider: And Sylvia Plath? Many of the students here regard
her very highly.

Oppenheimer: It's true that Sylvia had an extraordinary
talent, but what she wrote was British and not American.
Her poems are strictly mandarin poems— highly finished
pieces, rather brittle in form, entirely "English" in their
treatment of the language. Everyone speaks of the terrible
risks she took during that prolific, white-heat phase at the
end. But actually, the greatest risk of all (as I see it) she
never took. I mean the risk of using language as a spoken,
"unfinished," on-going thing. You get the feeling while
reading her work that each poem is utterly "composed,"
both in its subject and in its language. She's of the school
of Henry James and Eliot— brilliant, I admit— but poets like
myself are more responsive to the example of Williams and


Pound. Particularly Williams and the incredible things he
did to make the American idiom available to poetry.

Spider: Quite a number of us have been reading Williams'
Peterson lately. How would you rank that book as a con-
tender for the championship?

Oppenheimer: Not very high. Of course, it's a marvelous
book and it contains some terrific passages! But I think it's
in his short lyrics— particulary some of the "spoken" lyrics
in The Collected Earlier Poems and Pictures from Brueghel
—that Bill really is at his most brilliant. Frankly, I think he
only wrote Peterson to show Pound he could do it tool
Pound's Cantos was not the best kind of model for a poet
like Bill to follow. Pound's lyrics, on the other hand, are
largely failures in my opinion. I think The Cantos is
Pound's most characteristic and most successful work, while
his shorter poems are less important. With Williams, it's the
other way around. It's the shorter poems that strike me as
main -line Williams, while Pater son is a magnificient and
futile failure. It seems to me largely wasted effort for a
poet Uke Williams (such as whiz at ensnaring the human
voice on the wing!) to labor on that kind of a long Kulchur
poem. I think poets should concentrate on what they can
do best.

Spider: That's logical.

Oppenheimer: Oh, I'm logical. If there's anything I really
dig, it's logic. I believe with Aristotle (or was it Krishna-
murti?) that everything should have a proper beginning,
middle, and end. A friend of mine, incidentally, says that
every human life has a kind of logic: it consists of "a be-
ginning, a muddle, and an end." I thought that was good
enough to put in a poem. The "muddle" is one of my
favorite themes.

Spider: What do you think of Allen Ginsberg as a writer?

Oppenheimer: You know, for years Allen's writing has been
a problem to me. I've had the greatest affection for Allen
as a man all along, but for a long time I think I under-
estimated his achievement on the pagel Allen's a fantastic
reader, as everyone knows. If ever I had any doubts about

any of his poems, all I needed was to hear Allen read them
aloud for all of my doubts to be dispelled immediately.
Much of his poetry has to be heard to be appreciated. He
belongs to a bardic oral tradition that goes back centuries
before Homer! But lately my eyes have opened up to his
marvelous structures as well. He looks better than ever on
the printed page. I think he's one of our best writers.

Spider: Are there any single poems among your own works
that you like more than the rest?

Oppenheimer: Well, I'm fond of the William Carlos Williams
elegy that I read aloud a while ago. And I still like an early
lyric called "The Bath," despite the fact that the Women's
libbers always say it could only have been written by a
male chauvinist pig. I don't think it was. I think they say
that because many Women's Lib types simply don't know
how to read. But actually the poem I like most is always
the one I'm about to finish, the one I'm working on at the

Spider: Have you got any plans for an ambitious long work
at the moment?

Oppenheimer: As a matter of fact, I'm at work on a novel
in which the entire action takes place in a bar. There are a
number of characters in it who (mainly) talk. One of them
is half-Indian, half- white; another is part- Jewish, part-Gen-
tile. They talk and talk, mostly about the problems of
growing up in a country like this which people like them
would have to face. I rather like the characters. (Long
pause.) As for me, I still haven't decided what I want to be
when / grow up . . .

Spider: Well, whatever it is, we have a feeling it will be

worth reading about and we hope you'll consider coming

back to tell us all about it. It's been a treat talking with
you, Joel.

Oppenheimer: Thank you. You know, I like it here. I liked
it very much. The kids made me feel very much at home.
But would someone please do me the favor of pointing out
the nearest Little Boys' Room to me? After all that hot
coffee, I've gotta go badly!

A Eulogy Is Not For You

(for Joel Oppenheimer)

I was hungry when you came
(having never seen the farm)
and to me you looked old

There were words

to let us in

then you told some poems

while your foot bounced.

I ate half your egg-salad sandwich
(it only made me hungrier)
when you left
to me you looked a poet

— Tony Crocamo


Scattered People

Scattered people, sitting silently, listening to incantations
on high. Removing the chalice the holy father turns to
bless the cup, water to wine, wine to body and blood;
Christ takes the last step barring his destiny. People rise
and begin to move towards the altar. Hands cupped, folded
in silent reverence. From the back, running late, an old
woman rushes cautiously to the front of the altar. A broad
hooked nose and shaggy eyebrows peer through her dark-
ness. Hands pocketed not in prayer, she kneels. While recit-
ing directions of thought and prayers, he places the host
upon her lips. She stands, facing the priest, draws a gun
aimed at the head of the church. With the butt of the gun
she knocks down the priest and leaps over the rail. While
the unholy woman calls out for all to assemble beneath the
pulpit, a torrential flow of blood emanates from the river-
head onto the tesselated floor. Her gun taunting the brave
and her intrepid gaze transfixing the complacent, we all as-
semble. Her sermon begins.

"My children, for all are my children, listen! There lies
your god dead for he never lived. He lived in the minds of
those who impregnated your minds with him. Children let
me explain the circumstances leading to Jehovah's concep-
tion. There was a time when women ruled the earth. Their
rule was traditional, unchallenged. Man challenged this tra-
dition. A battle waged, the battle lost, man overcame his
submissiveness. A Patriarchal society superseded the Matri-
archal society. The women leaders and elders were banished
from the land. They could not return for they would not
submit to Man's rule. In secret conclave the women elders
sat. The council began to debate whether another attack
should be ventured. The Eldest spoke: 'No, my children,
next time Man's justice might not be so lenient. We are
alive, we could be worse off. Better to live outside of Man's
domination, I have a plan. Man speaks of freedom, democ-
racy. His subjects are free to choose as they please. Tonight
I shall steal into their camp, under cover of darkness and
seduce the foolish people into choosing freely the fruit of
my wisdom.' Darkness arrived and the Old Woman ap-


peared at Man's encampment. Only seven days before a bat-
tle waged and a kingdom lost. Now all is quiet beneath a
moon hallowed by the clouds. She entered the woodland,
following a path she knows well, leading to a secluded cot-
tage. The brightly lit cottage, encircled by woods, mirrored
the moon. The Hag approached the door with caution and
knocked. She was greeted by a young woman. The Maid,
clad in nightclothes and cap, urged the old woman inside,
for the hour was late and the night air cold. The crone
seated herself beside the maiden. The fire, which had
caused the brilliant effect from the outside, dwindled as she
neared her seat. The wood whistled a steady tune as the
flame wove a weblike trance over the girl. They talked and
the Hag poisoned the Maid with the fruit of her knowledge.
She left as she came, cloaked by darkness."

The church echoes her voice, groaning, moaning, mock-
ing me. Her lips move, but her words slide past.

I see the world — begin,
I see the world — end.
My mind wonders close behind.

It's here — It's here — It's gone.
I dream — I sleep — I dream,
I sense — I feel — I think, my mind no longer wonders

I see.

I hurdle the rail; her gun taunting, her eyes blaze, I meet
her gaze. She drops the gun, I pocket it, she flees the

— A. Zaglauer


When the wind dies down

We will catch a rail

And stop hiding in cathedrals

Standing in cold wet boots

Looking at cannon trails in the snow

Where barbed-wire fences separate the seasons

In Telegraph square

Where an epileptic frog sells newspapers

I don't want you to get lost

Nor in the cold halls overgrown with bookmarkers

Looking for our friend in the fallen rain

We found truth dead in an alley around the comer

Heading for the Sea of Senses

Past the howling dogs

And the pretentious false starts

Great smoking piers, stone tenemented shelled
Through greenhouse wards of old coughing people
twisted in pale sheets

They are outside lying and waiting
In the yard beyond the pools
"Canton don't want to look at anything"
"Not even the hangman in the elevator'


The Great Western Steam packet sails
Across the allancing waters
Under steel girders that shake
From the following waves

What a night it was when they were calling
out all the friends of the air
and voices dimmed out each other
like the cough of a cold gear

— John M. Grudzien

To touch through cotton candy
sweet but

no substance
I cry for meat
for flesh

— Michael W. York


Oh Lone Ranger

Oh Lone Ranger, how I feel for you now.

Once you were the proud masked man,

laced in silver bullets, guns and spurs,

riding the thirsty trails into frontier towns

filled with three-fingered peddlers, whores and death.

But the powerful paws of enterprise dug deep,
scooping out high rises, fords and profit,
and now you stand sheepishly before the camera's eye,
reduced to selling pizza rolls and aqua velva.

Oh Lone Ranger, how I feel for you now.

— Tom Peterson


It wasn't getting old
that bothered my father
but getting dead,
the reverse labor
Dying caught on the way out

surviving between two existences

paralyzed and dumb with sorrow

trying all night after night

to fall asleep

by counting the oxygen bubbles.


Suddenly death

is going to be quick,

and the doctors, relieved

to close their books and
Death soon your eyes,

call me across big America,

and I'm trying to get there

on the slow spin of a plane,
I love you
I love you
I love you down

to the stones, how death takes

the poetry out of things, stones

that forget the useable parts of the dead,

the illegible scars,

the forsythia blooms bend to read.

— Alvin Fritz

Ephraim Carter died hereabouts

On November Fourth Seventeen

Hundred Ninety Six AD

So says the stone

Gray cold and detached

The stone doesn't give a damn about


Neither does anybody else
That's the way it goes, Ephraim

I'm probably the last person in the

world to know where Ephraim Carter
Is buried. Rest in pieces E.C.
There's an interstate going through in the
Spring— then even the stone will be buried.

— Robert G. Finley


Genesis 1:

The sea is not always eating the land:
Not all tides come in to feast on the shore.
There are shallow coves, thick with weed and sand,
Where the tide plies mildly its routine chore.

In such coves, children and the gulls can play
Safely at the feet of the rising tide;
For the ocean here does not bear away.
But brings fresh silt to the continent's side-
As if building with another coast's loss.
Intent on preserving its child, the land.
But the shore's rocks, though slick with peaceful moss.
Know that this is not always how things stand:

In even the quiet coves, there are times
When the tide comes seething in, not at ease.
It ravenously attacks the gray slimes,
Pulling its soil-gift back into the seas.

At such tides there are no breakers, no white:
The rising surface is held at level.
While below, the sea is boiling with might
To chum loose the silt, to grab, to bevel.

On such nights, to be at the water's brim
Requires stepping backward quite steadily—
Now the sea is moved by a savage whim.
Rising on the beach with ferocity.

One thinks then of maidens left to the tide.
Their long hair tied to seaweed on the rocks;
And one thinks, if the sea won't be denied—
Just when will the land succumb to these shocks?

The Second Partition was left to chance.
Not bound by any ordinance of Jove's:
No law limits the sea's hungry advance
As she feeds, in even the quiet coves.

— Lynn Hagman

At your throat

Did you see the way

she walked right by you,
like you weren't even there?

There's something about the whole

thing you didn't tell me, my friend

— Peter Moore


Radio Rune

I tried timing you in the other night

on my radio, FM of course

The selector hit upon some waves I thought were you

but turned out to be

roller skate keys


old-fashioned love songs

all I ever need's you's

winter of '65 drives

baby I'm yours's
but you were there, hidden in them,
bringing the flood and
moving me to re and re and re-assure you
that what flows in me becomes part of you
forever, never emptying

— Claudia Stephens


Was Thoreau a Male Chauvinist?

Henry David Thoreau is generally regarded as one of
America's greatest writers and thinkers by both cultural
leaders and literary critics. Yet this paragon, like many less-
er men, was not entirely without faults. Even his most
universally admired book, Walden, though fully deserving
the praise that has been lavished upon it as one of the un-
doubted classics of American literature, contains consider-
able evidence that Thoreau was a male chauvinist.

One could argue that since he died over one hundred
years ago, Thoreau cannot be held accountable to people
existing today or to present-day attitudes. Yet his ideas in
areas such as civil rights, specifically in his essay "Civil Dis-
obedience," affected current history. This essay influenced
Gandhi, who influenced Martin Luther King, who in turn
influenced a whole generation of people. Thoreau the phi-
losopher was indeed sensitive to the civil rights movement
of his day, and as a consequence, his genius reached out
into our century and helped improve the quality of our
lives. One can only wish Thoreau had been as sensitive to
the values of another conspicuously active movement of his
day, the women's rights movement. However, Thoreau did
not exhibit any interest in this movement. In Walden, par-
ticularly, he hardly discusses any specific women. Of those
mentioned the following are typical.

James Collins the Irishman's wife is mentioned. So is
John Field the Irishman's wife, who cooked

many sucessive dinners in the recess of that lofty stove; with
round greasy face and bare breast, still thinking to improve her
condition someday; with the never absent mop in one hand,
and yet no effects of it visible anywhere.

Also mentioned is Zilpha, a former inhabitant of the area
whose house was burned by the British during the War of
1812. But quite incidentally, as if the house mattered more.
Most outstanding was Mrs. HoUowell whose husband sold
Thoreau the HoUowell farm, but before he gave Thoreau
the deed, "his wife— every man has such a wife— changed
her mind and wished to keep it." Mr. HoUowell offered
$10.00 to be released from the agreement, but Thoreau "to
be generous" allowed him to keep his farm and his $10.00.

These women Thoreau specifically describes were other
men's wives or inaccessible in other ways— nor do they
seem particularly appealing to Thoreau.

Thoreau does mention that visitors who had rarely come
to the woods visited him, including some women. One as-
sumes these visitors were his friends from town, most likely
educated friends. Thoreau writes that among his visitors,
girls, boys, and young women most appreciated the woods
and pond and benefited most from these visits in the
woods. None of these women are mentioned by name or
described, whereas three men, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Amos
Bronson Alcott, and William EUery Channing, are. Obvi-
ously none of the women visitors made as great an impres-
sion on Thoreau as did Mrs. Field or Mrs. Hollo we 11.

Thoreau does discuss women in the abstract. He seems to
have two prevailing views of women.

The first view is of woman as the symbol of nature, or
Mother Earth. Woman as the supreme fertility symbol and

Throughout the book he refers to Nature— always capital-
ized like a proper name— as a woman. "Nature herself,"
"When Nature made him, she . . . ," a ... "promise of
Nature to rear her children and feed them." Thoreau refers
to Nature as the mother of humanity, and so on through-
out the book.

Thoreau discusses the "elderly dame" with the herb gar-
den who "has a genius of unequalled fertility." Two para-
graphs later he writes that the "pill which will keep us well,
serene, contented ... is our own great grandmother Na-
ture's universal, vegetable, botanic medicines . . . which she
used to keep herself young always and to feed her
health ..."

Thoreau writes that when working in his bean-field,
"they attached me to the earth, and so I got strength like
Antaeus." He also writes of the myth of the Indian hill
which sank and became the pond, Walden. Only one In-
dian, a woman named Walden, escaped death and the pond
was named after her. She, being a woman, is the symbol of
fertility and symbolically gives birth to the pond.

In all these instances Thoreau uses women as symbols.


Many women object to being used as a symbol, any sym-
bol, even a symbol of life. I believe giving and nurturing
life— whether physically or spiritually— is the greatest form
of creativity and thus of life. Therefore I don't strongly ob-
ject to women being symbols of life.

What I do object to is Thoreau's second opinion of
women— women as corrupters and destroyers of life.

In discussing clothes Thoreau nastily puns when he
writes that "clothes introduced sewing, a kind of work
which you may call endless; a woman's dress is never done"
(my emphasis). In discussing fashion Thoreau writes that
when he asks for a particular style of clothes his tailoress
tells him, "They do not make them so now, as if she
quoted an impersonal authority." I had not realized that
tailoresses existed in the mid-nineteenth century, only that
seamstresses for women did. Thoreau managed to find the
rare exception.

In discussing food he mentions living on a vegetable diet
and tells of a young man who experimented living on hard
com. "The human race is interested in these experiments,
though a few old women who are incapacited for them, or
who own their thirds in mills may be alarmed" (my em-
phasis). "Old women" is obviously a derogatory term
meant to include all people who may be alarmed by these
experiments, therefore "old women" are by nature opposed
to useful experiments.

Thoreau discusses the uselessness of post-offices and
newspapers. "To a philosopher all news, as it is called, is


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