by Swoon and David Tomaloff

See Exit Strategies No. I-III

Swoon on the Exit Strategies Videopoems

I worked with David Tomaloff before on other projects, and I loved his poetry and his style. I asked him if he was interested in doing a videopoem-chapbook, and he gave me a link to Exit Strategies, a chapbook he had written early in 2011, which was published by Connotation Press. “They’re a bit dark,” he told me. “Great,” I thought, “Dark is my middle name.”

I loved the atmosphere of the six poems. I loved how they related to each other. My first idea was to create a ‘main theme’ for the soundscapes. I wanted them to be the mortar of the videopoem-chapbook. For the images I used a lot of footage I shot in the fall of 2011. Blurry images, dark brown, fading. I was looking for a desperate feel.

I wanted each video to have a title that was a single word from the text of its poem. Those words/titles gave me a first direction about where to go to with these.

The overall ‘storyline’ I put in these videos is a personal one, but others might see or pick up different meanings. I just hope they evoke something. It doesn’t matter if it’s not what David or I intend, but that’s the fun of poetry and videopoetry.


Notes on Exit Strategies (The Poems) by David Tomaloff

Exit Strategies is a collection of six prose poems, each serving as a kind of monologue or vignette voiced by one of six different—or maybe not so very different—speakers. Ultimately, my hope is that each reader will come to his or her own conclusions in terms of finding a sense of meaning within the text, but what these words deal in is the sense of a universal longing to survive: at the heart of each of these pieces is the threat of impending force bearing down on the speaker, whether it is the sea, the city, the government, or an agent of the natural world. There is in each of these pieces a unifying question, and that question is, without a doubt, “what next?” Also implied, though, is a question of boundaries: who in these pieces is the aggressor? Who in these pieces is the real trespasser?

In terms of the multimedia project, I had worked with Swoon in the past and my sense was to let him do what he does best. My part in the presentation was simply the recording of the poems themselves, in which I sought to unify the voices by reimagining the pieces as field notes read into a recorder by an observer who is becoming increasingly embroiled in what is being observed.


{IV} I come apart when the authorities arrive, spread across the room like an ocean doing the same. I am reaching behind me now. Every morning with them was cause for another string of misdemeanors. I talked on the phone then. I drew pictures of women and men doing their best to relate to one another, like lines drawing lines upon lines, over and over again, insecure. Dinner was the time of day reserved for crows and me. We gambled excuses in exchange for a minute more before turning out the light. It is well past dinner now, and the light has been out for days. The rafters are humming; bullhorns, relentless; the fields are dividing; they know me by this name: Penance. Vibrant lights scribble non sequiturs across cracked plaster. I am all lungs in here. IF THIS IS A BATTLE HYMN, I AM THE DRUM, THE WINTER, AND THE HAMMER WHICH BEATS THEM FORWARD. The men in plainclothes finish cigarettes while we wait.


{V} Picture. Petition. Wrecking ball. A filament. LOOSE FALLING SNOW DRIPPING AS STATIC, MY BALTIMORE, AND I AM AS IF I AM DAWN, AWAKE. Tiny radio, my pocket, a form of oxygen apparatus here. Its every verse a wandering, careening toward a suitable chorus. We get, in this way, what we deserve most. We give what we are, in this way, of ourselves. Microphone. Reject. Car alarm. A furnace. Some sort of perdition, some rules for the road. I tried. I tried again, and failed, where I could not remove your picture from the wall. Its face took me down instead, trembling me from basement to heavens. Where a crossing out of the minor. Where the burning of middle initial. A team of ghost prayer horses. A bloodletting. A home.

{VI} O SOLEMNLY STAY THIS, MY FILM PROJECTOR HEART. I WROTE THAT SENTENCE FOR A FIRE ONCE. I built a fire from a forgotten friend. I drew ghost water from a lover and took it to bed, a train. This is my machina, with its gears softly turning beneath the rolling of a forest floor. When night appears again, we are both friend plus enemy; the blood and the calm; menacing to some as Chinese New Year. Our manual of snow misses a page the way I miss pulse, and dark, and the borrowing for the sake of the borrowing alone. I covet this place, though I am summer’s end. I am love song, the cross-fade, the badge, the brought in screaming. Wolves here know this as a baptism of war. WE KISS WITH CLASHING TEETH BEFORE THE RAIN, AND I FOLLOW YOU DOWN THE MOUNTAINSIDE, WE, BRINGING LIFE TO WHERE THE FIRE HAD GONE BEFORE US. Stay close and don’t tell the lions your name. DEVISE A METHOD FOR TURNING THE NUMBERS INTO SAND. Inhale. A coming. Exhale. The ghosts.




About Swoon: Swoon is a Belgian video-artist/soundcreator. Poetry, words and dreams form an important basis for his work. As a stranger in our midst he recycles ‘virtual’ internet images, shoots his own, creates soundscapes, and makes dreamlike, moving paintings out of it all. A dream made real out of vague bits. Swoon’s work has been featured at numerous festivals. He’s also an autodidact…

About David Tomaloff: David Tomaloff is a writer, photographer, musician, and an all-around bad influence. His work has appeared in several anthologies and in fine publications such as Mud Luscious, >kill author, PANK, Connotation Press, HOUSEFIRE, Prick of the Spindle, and elimae. He is the author of the chapbooks 13(Artistically Declined Press), A Soft That Touches Down & Removes Itself (NAP and Red Ceilings Press), Olifaunt (Red Ceilings Press), Exit Strategies (Gold Wake Press) and Mescal Non-Palindrome Cinema (Ten Pages Press). He resides in the form of ones and zeros at