Things Brian Eno Taught Me by Ben Fama


A few years ago—though not in such a dissimilar headspace as I live in today—I would try and use my Brian Eno albums to convince people to come home with me on weekends. I’d tell whoever was still out at the end of the night about all his records that I had, and that if they came to my apartment we could listen to them. I think it worked a few times, though mostly not. I guess it gave me the chance to listen to them alone a lot and learn a lot of lessons.


Maybe an artistic “project” is ok.


Glamour is better than ok, (but you better have your shit together.)


I used to sit and stare at the album covers. The first one I had was actually Evening Star (Robert Fripp and Brian Eno). I could never tell if Brian had on a hoodie or if his hair was styled into that shape. In the picture on the back cover (he’s on the left) he looks as relaxed and as blissed out as the music. I always loved that.


Everything is on the same level. The “minor” songs (such as “Becalmed”) hang there as significantly as the more ready-to-use song as “St. Elmo’s Fire.”


And knowing that it will all be part of the same drama—that you can do things with the general composition of an album just the same as a manuscript of poems. I think of Tomaž Šalamun’s poem “Jonah,” which seems to hang in relation to Šalamun’s body of work, the way the title song off of Another Green World, buried deep on side one of the record, reacts with other wearable singles like “St. Elmo’s Fire,” or “Third Uncle.”


by Tomaž Šalamun

how does the sun set?
like snow
what color is the sea?
Jonah are you salty?
I’m salty
Jonah are you a flag?
I’m a flag
the fireflies rest now

what are stones like?
how do little dogs play?
like flowers
Jonah are you a fish?
I’m a fish
Jonah are you a sea urchin?
I’m a sea urchin
listen to the flow

Jonah is the roe running through the woods
Jonah is the mountain breathing
Jonah is all the houses
have you ever heard such a rainbow?
what is the dew like?
are you asleep?


Getting “beyond thinking” (Eno’s words). Do the ambient albums alleviate anxiety by removing them from the mind or filling the mind with something else? Does it just get in there and rub it a little bit?


Things Brian Eno has said:

“A piece of music becomes real to me when it seems to become a place, when I could feel what the temperature would be … I started making music deliberately to create a more desirable reality.”

“I hate remembering…it’s all past”

“I wanted to look sensational, and most of the science of looking sensational had been pursued by women, not by men”

“Q: Was it a myth then, that Bryan Ferry was irked that you got more girls than he did? [long pause] ENO: I don’t know whether he was or not. Q: Well did you get more girls? ENO: Yeah”


The Universe Sees You

The universe sees you
in the triangle, grabbing at the air

I don’t know if you’ve got it,
but I think you do

and now you always
appear in my chat list

if only you would
take me into the sea

after that I would ask
you to paint over everything

what’s different tonight
an explosion up in the tower

break into the rain
there is no word

to park a wedge
under the landscape

I knew a woman
she bloomed magnificently

but she blew me off like a dandelion
now everything is so different

time: what a cool mess
more planets: a viral campaign

the desert lifts
Adrian says my Saturn is returning

and she will never come
because monsters have

at night taken me in
among their shadows

I love reality but
there’s no money in it

Ben Fama is the author of the chapbook Aquarius Rising (UDP 2009) and NEW WAVES (forthcoming from Minutes Books). He is the founding editor of Supermachine Poetry Journal. His work has been featured in GlitterPony, notnostrums, LIT, Poor Claudia, and on the Best American Poetry Blog.

Questions, compliments, (hopefully not) complaints? Contact Jackie Clark: jackie [at] coldfrontmag [dot] com.  Check out previous POP essays here.