BackStories From The New HAGL CD Project

No Land


No Land
“A Box” (built)
from Gertrude Stein’s
Tender Buttons

up and out from a room


of barred poems, banned poems,
glass poems, shard poems
glycine poems

of the emotional-orality of Fragile Description, myth laden & welded.

in her hot button issue buzz Poet chose words like: cattle, disappointment. i saw old Photograph – “the steerage” – musty, with the rope lassoed over the crowd.  spirits & coats. stuck on boats.

then. she cleans us- poet Straightens us – all stoic – like: “see a fine substance strangely” and “pin” and “being round” and “rudimentary to be analyzed.”

if you will analyze some of these fine substances: sand gold – or Potentiality Powders- that shine-reside in the cloud box treasure (of the human) chest – let it point to the bass gut of any substance in question. can a secret or a mind myth override the bass gut string– which moves you to intuitive act. activating fine substances.  whiteface powders turning Red & runny & the other substance: clairvoyant rudeness

if you don’t call for backup among the living, you call upon a poet. poet’s not alive / dead. poet is here. in all planes & plains, if and when your ordinary-button dials to the world break. poet’s an Apparatus of the multi Lair. and layer. you can cull out of the cattle a Way of being that suggests a pin head or a pearl. succinct slip away. exit. if a poet maestro’s Prowling, or a bureaucrat thief is lurking. an aesthete-creep on your Paint Trail, or sickness brews an inexplicable secret…

pointing again and again and again and again– Might grow a deity with Infinite Arms. infinity does her destruction. Arms in infinite shooting (bam) directions. becomes a pinwheel Poem. spinning in all the pointing (wind-blame) until a perfect circle, infinite loop cassette (rebirth) heats up. molten enough, blade wheel enough, to burn thru any box

there’s no such thing as a box in the real world. not here. here we sit down to hear Heroes hear us describe what might be Artificial so we can have a few moments or a life time with/away from all that. “lets have no more of that”- once said poet Anne Waldman, who championed Stein to the men at poetry Conferences when they called Stein “silly” and moved along. with a redo (Summon it)– we could be here. not of or out of a box or a button frame. not running for portals built from fragile powders and breath. but here

Crystal Good 


“Singing That Artificial Happiness


Thomas Sayers Ellis reminds me of a coal miner. His cold
mind shows up for work everyday, there are calluses on his
typing fingers and he moves and motivates in a familiar
union spirit — all for one and one for all – and sometimes we
all, HAGL, go on strike with each other and the world.

I live in West Virginia. I know a lot about coal, coal miners
and the politics of energy. I know everything in this world
is about energy. I claim an identity in the coal region of
Appalachia – Affrilachia. Kinda. I found my way to HAGL
through the windy mountain road called, Affrilachia

Old school Affrilachians remember the strikes. I’ve lived
through a few strikes in my years. I always knew a strike
was coming when my aunt started stocking up in the RC
Cola. Then when my first son was born, his father a
UFCW man went on strike. I was a young mother, 20
years old, so impressionable to the world and afraid of the
times. During the strike, family took care of us, the union
sent us food and I learned the power of togetherness, to
hate scabs and to judge a person by their work ethic and

Hard work and struggle are virtues to me – or so I
thought until along comes an email, an idea, a question as
simple and demanding as — Which Side Are You On?


October 26, 2016  /  Thomas Sayers Ellis


Demo / To be Re-recorded / Open to ideas from Band / Idea came about

when I said / sang the title to JBL and he sat down at piano / sax at Ambrose’s

and put this together and Janice and Crystal sang to help with Demo

(as I recall)

It’s not full yet

and, at this point, it can mean whatever we want it to mean

but at the beginning of “The Avant-Age Garde I AMs of the Gal Luxury”

Randall says “…my own artificial happiness button…”

we can name what the term means, if anything to each of us…it’s pretty straightforward to me : anything they feed / we feed us … for temporary joy / high / survival

“who got pills,

who got bills?


Artificial Happiness Buttons


Artificial Happiness Buttons? What does that mean – to me?

I had just bought a new car when TSE sent the email. My car starts with a button not a key. A button that says “START ENGINE HERE” in glowing red. Well.. that’s definitely a AHB I thought. Now, I have a car payment and I pay for GPS aka government tracking system – artificial happiness indeed. I wondered if the whole work hard, exhaust yourself, struggle and acquire – be that for a car or an award is an artificial happiness button?


I started making my list of Artificial Happiness Buttons

(starter kit)

Good Morning
Happy Birthday
Thank You
Merry Christmas
I love you
Half Off
Black Friday
2 for 1
Buy one get one free
“I now pronounce you…”
Free at Last
Award winning
International acclaimed
Just add water
Give blood
Happy Hour
“Hey Sunshine!”
Call now
On your mark,
Get set,
It’s a boy!
Thank God
Final Four
Sweet 16
March Madness
Super Bowl
High IQ
Signing Bonus
Made bail
Jay Ooo Bee (Job)
“Ding dong the witch is dead”
Friend me
Bill later
No additional costs
Knowledge is power
Black don’t crack
Start engine here
New and improved
New: shoes, phone, dress, house, boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, conditioner
Free shipping
Settlements settling
Sperm donors
Getting there
I can do bad all by myself
How are you?
Fake news
Real news
Clean coal
Jobs jobs jobs
Iphone dating
Sitting on panels
Gated communities
Van Jones
High rent
Low rent
Baby shower games
You won!
I win!
Bless your heart
I’m a real filmmaker, poet, etc..
Clitorial orgasms
Hard work

One time after a HAGL show, JBL said, “The work is entertainment – to make people enjoy themselves and the people don’t enjoy themselves unless the entertainers are enjoying themselves, even if they are not.” Is that Artificial Happiness? When do we ever get to feel this thing called happiness?

It seems that TSE and JBL as band leaders are burdened to collective bargain not only with the group but the ideas and message of the songs and how they fit into this world. I stand on the front HAGL line and sing ARTIFICIAL HAPPINESS BUTTON – I  pay my dues. I feel happy or what I think is happiness when the band is commUNION.

The making of AHB was labor. The making of AHB asked me – what makes me/you/us happy  – why,  and equally what makes me/you/us sad?

I started to hear in a new way, with a understanding that we or I confuse effort with the reality of results, that I and others applaud people for wearing themselves out for “us” – we judge output by our or their tiredness. This is most certainly an artificial way of being.

In the making of AHB both the song and the album I found real joy and real pain. It’s there, it’s all in there — a button to push where the hard work is not in the making of the thing but in the listening.