preface to going out in daylight*

Mole Fizz & GHOSTS

Boris Dralyuk’s translation of Yevtushenko’s “People” expounds that in mortality, “it isn’t people but whole worlds that perish.” With the entry of Mole Fizz into circulation among word lovers, we move slightly closer to the worlds we lost in Michael Ball. I suspect they were vast and many, and perhaps sometimes terrifying but also euphoric.

Sharks (“in the heart / slaphappy”), asphodel, Liberace and Margaret Mead populate those worlds. So do “dopamine street sausage democracy” and “the sun’s dossier.” If we tried to create a concordance to Michael Ball, we’d stupefy ourselves with the range and the audacity, the erudition and the profanity – and we’d wish Michael was around to have a beer and talk with us about his deep history in visual art, tours with the Navy, readings of the classics (I mean, classical: Ovid & such), and the bare bones logistics of the day to day.

Mole Fizz is a journal of Michael’s writing from a five-year span in Baltimore, where he shook up poetry as a curatorial tour de force. While promoting other poets, he seldom sought publication of his own work.‘s lack mountain project, “devoted to missing and fugitive poetries” and backed by the boundless creative energy of Buck Downs, rectifies this void.

(, incidentally, is also where you can find rare copies of Rod Smith’s The Boy Poems along with vintage Rodefer: “So I am a sexist adventurer or aging puer complexed daffy duck flaneur dandy.”)

Michael probably never imagined that a 326-page book gathering his Exacto-edged poems would be a thing, posthumously or in life. And the thought of other creatives (Magus Magnus, Chris Mason, Ric Royer, Rod Smith and Terence Winch) writing essays about him to include in that book might have induced paranoia or role dissonance, for it was always Michael who spoke of other poets but retreated from talking about himself.

(In fact, Michael spoke to me of his feline friend Dekker more than he spoke of any other facet of his life. Even our shared origins in North Carolina did not generate a whole lot of conversational fodder. As I wrote in the supplement to Mole Fizz, “What passed between poets was Michael Ball’s poetry. He thrived on the converse of it and withdrew in its absence.”)


On that score, Michael spoke on a very granular level. Mention CA Conrad or P. Inman, and Michael could tell you which poem of theirs was captivating him at that moment in time. He knew the poetry of his peers better than we knew his. Call me karma-forward, but with Mole Fizz in the world, the universe might feel a modicum more balanced. pairs Mole Fizz with Gary Lucas’ interpretation of avant-garde jazz composer & saxophonist Albert Ayler’s Ghosts. Ayler’s own performance is formidable, but Lucas’ gift for caesura on the steel guitar rings true juxtaposed with the spatial terrain of Mole Fizz.