March 31, 2006

together they have left the straight and narrow

nadine spinoza, untitled

Saturday Morning
-- by Hugo Williams

Everyone who made love the night before
was walking around with flashing red lights
on top of their heads-a white-haired old gentlemen,
a red-faced schoolboy, a pregnant woman
who smiled at me from across the street
and gave a little secret shrug,
as if the flashing red light on her head
was a small price to pay for what she knew.

-- by Hugo Williams

The smell of ammonia in the entrance hall.
The racing bike. The junk mail.
The timer switch whose single naked bulb
allowed us as far as the first floor.
The backs of your legs
as you went ahead of me up the stairs.

The landing where we paused for breath
and impatient key searching.
The locks which would never open quickly enough
to let us in.
The green of the paintwork we slid down
as if we had nowhere else to go.

-- by Hugo Williams

The evening advances, then withdraws again
Leaving our cups and books like islands on the floor.
We are drifting, you and I,
As far from another as the young heroes
Of these two novels we have just laid down.
For that is happiness: to wander alone
Surrounded by the same moon, whose tides remind us of ourselves,
Our distances, and what we leave behind.
The lamp left on, the curtains letting in the light.
These things were promises. No doubt we will come back to them.

Selecting a Reader
-- by Ted Kooser

First, I would have her be beautiful,
and walking carefully up on my poetry
at the loneliest moment of an afternoon,
her hair still damp at the neck
from washing it. She should be wearing
a raincoat, an old one, dirty
from not having money enough for the cleaners.
She will take out her glasses, and there
in the bookstore, she will thumb
over my poems, then put the book back
up on its shelf. She will say to herself,
"For that kind of money, I can get
my raincoat cleaned." And she will.

March 30, 2006

everybody has their own thing they yell into a well

slanted and enchanted, by dronepop.

* A favorite bit from John Fante's Ask the Dust:

"There was a letter from Hackmuth in my box. I knew it was from him. I could tell a Hackmuth letter a mile away. I could feel a Hackmuth letter, and it felt like an icicle sliding down my spine. Mrs. Hargraves handed the letter to me. I grabbed it out of her hand.

"'Good news?' she said, because I owed her so much rent. 'You never can tell,' I said. 'But it's from a great man. He could send blank pages, and it would be good news to me.'

"But I knew it wasn’t good news in the sense that Mrs. Hargraves meant it, for I hadn't sent mighty Hackmuth a story. This was merely the answer to my long letter of a few days ago. He was very prompt, that Hackmuth. He dazzled you with his speed. You no sooner dropped a letter in the mail box down on the corner, and when you got back to the hotel, there was his answer. Ah, me, but his letters were so brief. A forty page letter, and he replied in one small paragraph. But that was fine its its way, because his replies were easier to memorize and know by heart. He had a way, that Hackmuth: he had a style; he had so much to give, even his commas and semi-colons had a way of dancing up and down. I used to tear the stamps off his envelopes, peel them off gently, to see what was under them.

"I sat on the bed and opened the letter. It was another brief message, no more than fifty words. It said:

Dear Mr. Bandini,

With your permission I shall remove the salutation and ending of your long letter and print it as a short story for my magazine. It seems to me you have done a fine job here. I think "The Long Lost Hills" would serve as an excellent title. My check is inclosed.

Sincerely yours,
J. C. Hackmuth

"The letter slipped from my fingers and zigzagged to the floor. I stood up and looked in the mirror. My mouth was wide open. I walked to Hackmuth's picture on the opposite wall and put my fingers on the firm face that looked out at me. I picked the letter up and read it again. I opened the window, climbed out, and lay on the bright hillside grass. My fingers clawed the grass. I rolled upon my stomach, sank my mouth into the earth, and pulled the grass roots with my teeth. Then I started to cry. Oh God, Hackmuth! How can you be such a wonderful man? How is it possible? I climbed back to my room and found the check inside the envelope. It was $175. I was a rich man once more. $175! Arturo Bandini, author of The Little Dog Laughed and The Long Lost Hills.

"I stood before the mirror once more, shaking my fist defiantly. Here I am, folks. Take a look at the great writer! Notice my eyes, folks. The eyes of a great writer. Notice my jaw, folks. The jaw of a great writer. Look at those hands, folks. The hands that created The Little Dog Laughed and The Long Lost Hills. I pointed my index finger savagely. And as for you, Camilla Lopez, I want to see you tonight. I want to talk to you, Camilla Lopez, and I warn you, Camilla Lopez, remember that you stand before none other than Arturo Bandini, the writer. Remember that, if you please."

* Don't fuck the vapid: First two parts (part one; part two) of a three part piece by Kevin Smith on his relationship with Jason Mewes, who is about to celebrate his third straight year of living completely drug and alcohol free. excerpt:

"On a mid-December early morn, circa 2003, on the balcony of my house in the Hollywood Hills, Jason Mewes, my friend of seventeen years and co-star in five films at that point, dropped a bomb that shoud’ve repulsed the shit out of me, or at the very least, made me vomit a little in my mouth.

"'Last night, at the Spider Club, Nicole Richie dragged me into the bathroom and fucked me.'

"And yet, instead of retching, I found myself battling another type of growing lump in my throat – the kind induced by watching your child enter the world, or the last ten minutes of 'Field of Dreams.' I was suppressing tearful joy, momentarily setting aside the compulsion to smack Jason upside the head, hollering "Don’t fuck the vapid, dammit!" due to the fact that I was so insanely proud of how far the boy had come and relieved that we were having this conversation at all."

"See, for years, Jason had had what seemed like an unbeatable, untreatable addiction to, alternately, heroin and oxycontin. It was a heartbreaking, trying and puzzling five-year stretch for me, so I can’t imagine how bad it was for him (well, that’s not entirely true. Mewes would periodically flash self-awareness with statements like 'If I’m still like this when I turn thirty, I should probably kill myself.')."
"It was in this fashion that I sort of reluctantly inherited Mewes. And while I had volumes in common with Bry and Walt, on the surface, Mewes and I were about as different as could possibly be. Without Bry and Walt around, I bristled at his what-if scenarios. I’d spend double or triple time in a conversation with the kid, as I’d have to define over 50% of the words I used for him. And all the while, I remained resistant to his charms.

"Until that day at the Rec Center.

"Walt and I had just come back from our weekly new comics run, and were quietly sitting in the Rec library, bagging and boarding our books. The kids hadn’t gotten out of school yet, so it was deaf-child silent in the building, save the metal rantings of King Diamond emanating on low volume from a nearby boom-box. Then, suddenly, the stillness was shattered, as a sent-home-from-school-early Mewes kicked the Rec door open, marched into the building Groucho Marx style, and proceeded to fellate everything somewhat phallic in the room.

"Walt and I watched with wonder as Mewes grabbed a pool cue and pretended to suck it off. Losing interest, he ran up to the phone on the front desk, grabbed the receiver from the cradle, and pretended to suck that off. He grabbed the flag pole and did the same. He grabbed a whiffle ball bat and did the same. This went on for twenty minutes, with seemingly no regard for our presence whatsoever. He never looked at us as if to say 'Are you seeing this shit?' He never looked at us at all. He didn’t seem to care that we were even there. This wasn’t a show for our benefit. It was as if he’d been walking around Highlands moments earlier, took a gander at his watch, and was like 'Wow – it’s two o’clock. I’d better get down to the Rec and suck everything off.' The kid had an agenda, and he was actively fulfilling it.

"It was when he finally reached the Rec’s only video game – a standard 'Asteroids' kiosk that time had forgotten – that he finally paused. Studying it momentarily and finding nothing dick-like to pretend to suck off, he seemed stymied. There was no joystick to give him purchase; just a roller ball and a fire button. Walt and I watched with great curiosity, waiting to see how he’d overcome this unforeseen obstacle.

"After what felt like five minutes, Mewes shrugged, bent down to the game controls, and started working the roller ball like it was a clit - his tongue darting in and out of his mouth, lapping at the orb as he spun it with his finger. That’s when I finally caved and fell completely in love with Jason Mewes."

Read the whole thing. Part three will be available soon.

* A interview / podcast with David Berman, featuring an acoustic version of O Captain! My Captain! played in his hotel room.

* "Criticism's first duty is to follow and stress the complexities and only after this is done to say, if necessary, genius is simplicity." -- Veronica Forrest-Thomson

March 29, 2006

fiery pianos wash up on a foggy coast

tracey emin, just remember how it was, 1998

This work is typical of Emin’s confrontational and uninhibited style. To make her monoprints, Emin places a sheet of paper, or cloth in this instance, on an inked glass surface and spontaneously scrawls out words and images. This technique produces single, unique prints. The artist is required to draw and write in reverse, making the process awkward. The use of stitching in this work connects it to Emin’s large-scale blankets and other appliquéd work. When seem from a distance, her art has a child-like simplicity which belies its raw expression and directness. It has an immediate impact on the viewer.

-- by Jim Harrison

At dawn I heard among bird calls
the billions of marching feet in the churn
and squeak of gravel, even tiny feet
still wet from the mother's amniotic fluid,
and very old halting feet, the feet
of the very light and very heavy, all marching
but not together, criss-crossing at every angle
with sincere attempts not to touch, not to bump
into each other, walking in the doors of houses
and out the back door 40 years later, finally
knowing that time collapses on a single
plateau where they were all their lives,
knowing that time stops when the heart stops
as they walk off the Earth into the night air.

O Captain! My Captain!
-- by Walt Whitman

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up--for you the flag is flung--for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths--for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You've fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

-- related: Watch David Berman and the Silver Jews perform O Captain My Captain (from the Baltimore show)

The First Twenty-Five Years of My Life
-- by Frank Stanford

I met my father in a library in Memphis, Tennessee.
Bees flew out of the sun.

The strange country of childhood,
Like a dragonfly on a long dog chain.

This is the signature of the doctor, the money from home.
Before, when each star was a minnow
Dying naturally in a tub, we slipped off
From the others in our boats.

We left in the mornings.

The mosquitoes were in our coffee
And the snakes broke ice for our journeys.
The crickets wanted to die.
Your head was in my lap.
We trolled twelve poles.

Like the owls you bulldozed into the woods,
I called you many names.
Your voice was a log under the water,
Blue channel there.
Do not reach into this wood.

Butterflies hover under the bridge before death,
I take my shade in the borrow pits of the moon.

Cloud making shadow, I cover my body now buck naked
With light, calling my name in my sleep.

March 28, 2006

I'd be riding horses if they let me

maqbool fida husain, untitled (horses)

* Courteney Love's family curse. excerpt:

"But the family's penchant for squabbling in print predates the Oprah Book Club era. Courtney's National Book Award–winning grandmother, Paula Fox, wrote a series of novels and memoirs (Borrowed Finery) detailing her own tormented relationship with her mother. Linda calls this written history, now spanning at least four generations, 'the curse of the firstborn daughters.' It's an epic tale of maternal concern alternating with neglect, mad antics, destructive creativity, and decades of estrangements as cold as liquid nitrogen. Though it's jaw-dropping gossip, it's more than that. Courtney's warlike tribe has cut a vast swath across our culture, and her legacy raises profound questions about personal identity in the face of fate.
"The story begins with Elsie Fox; she was Linda's grandmother and Courtney's great-grandmother (see family tree), though neither one knew she existed until 13 years ago. Turns out Elsie was Courtney's intellectual wild-child doppelgänger. She partied hard with her husband, Paul Fox, and his cousin Douglas Fairbanks, and wrote screenplays so godawful that Graham Greene called one, Last Train From Madrid, 'the worst movie I ever saw.'

"'They were wild,' says Linda. 'I think what's fascinating is that Courtney has this showbiz life inside her that emerged with no knowledge that it was in her background.' Seven decades before Courtney grabbed Quentin Tarantino's Oscar for Pulp Fiction at a wild Hollywood party, Elsie was hitting the fast lane with Fairbanks, the Australopithecus of Hollywood party animals. 'Humphrey Bogart once threw my grandmother in a lake,' says Linda. Why? 'My grandmother was quite awful.' Was she simply outspoken, ahead of her times? 'No, she wasn't. She was really mean.'
"Frances comes of age amid a welter of words that tell her family's story. But what story will Frances tell about herself? Will she write the concluding chapter to the epic Curse of the Firstborn Daughters? All we have to go on is a mini-interview in Teen Vogue: "I don't want to be titled as Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain's daughter. I want to be thought of as Frances Cobain." But her forebears leave her a paradoxical legacy—example after example of heroic self definition against all odds and equal evidence that character is fate, as ineluctable as Greek tragedy. As Mark Twain put it, 'History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme.' Linda thinks Frances will turn out fine because of the sturdy character she's already evinced. As Linda says, perhaps unconsciously echoing Kurt Cobain, 'I really think we come as we are.'"

Read the whole thing. who knew Paula Fox was Courteney Love's grandmother?

* Dylan and Patti Smith called in to help save poets' love nest on London's Desolation Row. excerpt:

"Musicians Bob Dylan and Patti Smith are being dragged into a fight to save one of literature's most debauched and disreputable love nests.

"The dilapidated house in Camden, north London, was the backdrop for the absinthe drinking, drug-taking and scandalous affair between the French poets Rimbaud and Verlaine who lived there in the 19th century.

"The home is now to be sold along with two adjoining houses, and campaigners fear it may be redeveloped to erase the house's literary link unless a sympathetic buyer is found. Rock literati Dylan and Smith, both admirers of the poets, have been approached to give muscle to the efforts to preserve the property."

"Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine - cited as inspirations for artists such as the Doors frontman Jim Morrison and John Lennon as well as Smith and Dylan - became lovers in the 1870s and made their base in Camden, writing some of their most famous works as they lodged on the top floor of what is now a tatty, grime-coated house. Graham Greene is also said to have an association with 8 Royal College Street."
"Both Dylan and Smith have acknowledged the inspiration of the poets in their work. In the song 'You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go' from Blood on the Tracks, Dylan sings: 'Situations have ended sad, relationships have all been bad; mine've been like Verlaine's and Rimbaud ...'

"In Smith's first single, 'Piss Factory,' she describes the salvation she found in reading a stolen copy of Rimbaud's Illuminations while she worked on an assembly line. She has also given lectures on his poems and was last year honoured by the French Culture Ministry partly for her appreciation of Rimbaud's work."

* RIP Buck Owens. Here's a video of the Beatles doing a Buck Owens song.

March 27, 2006

If I could be anything in the world that flew
I would be a bat and come swooping after you

van and dots, sara padgett

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"8. Roy Moore

"Our final set of paranoid ramblings this week comes courtesy of perennial conservative idiot Roy Moore. You may remember Moore from such works as What's Wrong With Legislating From The Bench?, The Separation of Church And State Can Kiss My Butt, and, Oh No! I've Been Fired. (See Idiots passim.) Moore is currently running for governor in Alabama and part of his platform includes opposition to an animal-tracking system which would help identify potential cases of BSE, otherwise known as Mad Cow Disease. Yes, you read that right - he's opposed to it. So of course the recent discovery of a BSE-infected cow in Alabama has Moore reaching for his tinfoil hat.

"'It's a strange coincidence that we have a case of mad cow disease at the same time the Senate is debating this bill,' Moore said last week.

"Oh come on Roy, isn't it obvious? Hillary Clinton flew it down there in her black helicopter just to freak you out."

* Food pyramid for drinks. excerpt:

Food isn't the only culprit in America's battle with the bulge. Nutrition experts say at least a fifth of the calories we consume come from what we drink.

Now a panel of top nutrition scientists has created a beverage guide in hopes Americans will start counting the calories in their cups!

Today, a cup of coffee isn't complete without a shot of something sweet and a creamy top.. "I get two or three refill." Add a soft drink or a fruit juice and pretty soon you've consumed a meal's worth of calories - without even feeling full!

Barry Popkin Ph.D., Nutrition Researcher: "We're getting heavier and heavier and more and more unhealthy, we have to be concerned about these calories from beverages." That caloric concern inspired nutrition scientist Barry Popkin to spearhead a panel that has created a beverage guide for consumers - think of it as the food pyramid for drinks.

Barry Popkin Ph.D., Nutrition Researcher: "The core beverage we need for life for health? It's water." Along with four to six 8 ounce serving of water - the guide recommends up to 8 cups of unsweetened tea and up to four cups of coffee.

"No sugar. No milk - nothing." Artificial sweeteners are okay. And up to four servings of diet drinks and two of skim or lowfat milk.

"I like the natural juice." But juices are packed with sugar - only one serving is recommended. Ditto For soft drinks and other sugary beverages Popkin says are like the candy of the food chain - only worse.

* ". . . if you look at walls covered with many stains . . . with the idea of imagining some scene, you will see in it a similarity to landscapes adorned with mountains, rivers, rocks, tree, plains, broad vallerys, and hills of all kinds. You may also see in it battles and figures with lively gestures and strange faces and costumes and an infinity of things which you can reduce to separate and complex forms. And with these walls . . . it is as with the sound of bells; in their ringing you may find all the sounds and words that you wish to imagine." - Leonardo da Vinci, 1492

* In DC? The Caribbean play DC9 tonight. check them out. with Pagoda.

March 23, 2006

let's be undecided, let's take our time

bart van leeuwen, andy warhol lifting weights

* the lion sleeps tonight, a happy ending.

* check out dick cheney's suite demands: all televistions turned to Fox; all lights turned on; and the temp must be 68 degrees.

* "The scientist who yields anything to theology, however slight, is yielding to ignorance and false pretenses, and as certainly as if he granted that a horse-hair put into a bottle of water will turn into a snake." -- H.L. Mencken
we've never been promised there will be a tomorrow

robert buelteman, avena fatua

* my Joos tour is over. the shows got better each evening culminating with a fantastic performance last night in Baltimore [review]. many thanks to DCB for finally taking the show on the road.

* March 8
-- by David Lehman:

Every so often my father comes over
for a visit he hangs his overcoat and hat
on my hat rack I brief him on recent
developments and serve us coffee
he is surprised that I like to cook
once when he made an omelette
he flipped it in the air much to my delight
and it landed on the floor yes that
was the summer of 1952, he remembered
the high breakers and how fearless
I was running into the ocean anyway
the important thing is to see you doing
so well he said and took his coat and hat
and left before I remembered he was dead

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
-- by dylan thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Poems in memory of William R. Fox, July 12, 1944 - March 23, 2002

March 20, 2006

everybody's going down on themselves

silver jews setlist, boston [via sjbb]

* Two more shows -- Philly and Baltimore -- to go, things will be back to normal around here on Thursday. For reviews of the NYC shows, go here.

* From the April 2006 edition of Harper's:

-- estimated ratio this year of the U.S. defense budget to that of the rest of the world combined: 1:1

-- percentage of Americans who say they trust the military, the presidency, and Congress, respectively: 74,44,22

-- Amount by which Americans total spending last year exceeded their earnings: $41,600,000,000

-- Last year in which spended outstripped earnings: 1933

-- Portion of the grants in President Bush's $415 billion AIDS initiative that has gone to religious groups: 1/4

-- Estimated number of Marshmallow Peeps that will be consumed around Easter this month: 800,000,000

-- Estimated number of pigs who died to make them: 125,000

March 16, 2006

just got back from a dream attack
that took me by surprise

david berman March 2006

UPDATE (Friday): Charlottesville was magical. Soi Disantra has the setlist and some comments on the Charlottesville show. Off to NY.

* Off to the Joos' shows in Charlottesville and NYC, check
here for reviews of these shows.

* Watch the Jeff Krulik short King of Porn, about former Library of Congress administrator Ralph Whittington, who has possibly the world's largest private collection of porn. Other great Krulik shorts, including the fantastic and famous "Heavy Metal Parking Lot" at the link.

March 15, 2006

can you tell the answer from the ants

cerith wyn evans, exit

-- by ee cummings

the boys i mean are not refined
they go with girls who buck and bite
they do not give a fuck for luck
they hump them thirteen times a night

one hangs a hat upon her tit
one carves a cross in her behind
they do not give a shit for wit
the boys i mean are not refined

they come with girls who bite and buck
who cannot read and cannot write
who laugh like they would fall apart
and masturbate with dynamite

the boys i mean are not refined
they cannot chat of that or this
they do not give a fart for art
they kill like you would take a piss

they speak whatever's on their mind
they do whatever's in their pants
the boys i mean are not refined
they shake the mountains when they dance

What Are Years?
-- by marianne moore

What is our innocence,
what is our guilt? All are
naked, none is safe. And whence
is courage: the unanswered question,
the resolute doubt, -
dumbly calling, deafly listening-that
in misfortune, even death,
encourage others
and in it's defeat, stirs

the soul to be strong? He
sees deep and is glad, who
accededs to mortality
and in his imprisonment rises
upon himself as
the sea in a chasm, struggling to be
free and unable to be,
in its surrendering
finds its continuing.

So he who strongly feels,
behaves. The very bird,
grown taller as he sings, steels
his form straight up. Though he is captive,
his mighty singing
says, satisfaction is a lowly
thing, how pure a thing is joy.
This is mortality,
this is eternity.

the great fires
-- by Jack Gilbert

Love is apart from all things.
Desire and excitement are nothing beside it.
It is not the body that finds love.
What leads us there is the body.
What is not love provokes it.
What is not love quenches it.
Love lays hold of everything we know.
The passions which are called love
also change everything to a newness
at first. Passion is clearly the path
but does not bring us to love.
It opens the castle of our spirit
so that we might find the love which is
a mystery hidden there.
Love is one of many great fires.
Passion is a fire made of many woods,
each of which gives off its special odor
so we can know the many kinds
that are not love. Passion is the paper
and twigs that kindle the flames
but cannot sustain them. Desire perishes
because it tries to be love.
Love is eaten away by appetite.
Love does not last, but it is different
from the passions that do not last.
Love lasts by not lasting.
Isaiah said each man walks in his own fire
for his sins. Love allows us to walk
in the sweet music of our particular heart.

* Bars & Guitars reviews the new Dust Congress Records release, SJBB3P: Part 2. Drop a line if you'd like a copy.

March 14, 2006

Dig up the laughing photographs

yellow tree, sara padgett

* Silver Jews Ashville, N.C. setlist and short review, by Karl.

-- related: soi disantra has other setlists and audio links up.

* the rude pundit. excerpt:

"One would like to think that it causes John McCain actual, physical pain to bend over and lick George Bush's anus. Not the act of giving the rim job, but the bending waist, half-bent knees, the body in general, all have to be aching from his Vietnam War torture injuries whenever McCain does one of his public asshole lappings of the President. While at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, which was surprisingly not a KKK meeting, McCain proclaimed for all to see that he loved the taste of Bush's sphincter, as he asked the gathered delegates to write-in Bush's name for a straw poll on who they wanna have fer President in 2008. It was perhaps the gayest action at a Republican event since Richard Nixon and Roy Cohn performed a duet of "Anything Goes" in drag at the 1952 Republican Convention.

"In his speech at the SRLC this past Friday and in his 'private' conversations with the President, John McCain sacrificed whatever phantoms of "maverick"-ness he still had surrounding him. As Paul Krugman says today, McCain is just another ultra-right-winger who happens to have done one or two things that make it seem as if he's not. He's all talk, McCain is, a chipmunk-cheeked blowhard who, like every other Republican, makes noises that he's independent and free-thinking when, in reality, like Olympia Snowe, like Arlen Specter, like Chuck Hagel, he's just in a line waiting for Karl Rove to let him into the Oval Office washroom so he can lick Bush's asshole clean. Rove calls McCain after Bush has had another bad delivery tamale lunch.

"In our Fox 'News'-infected world, 'straight talk' means about as much as 'fair and balanced' and 'no-spin zone.' When, as McCain did this past weekend, you can say of a man who defends policies on torture, policies that break the laws of the nation, laws you swore to uphold, 'We should all just keep our personal ambitions a distant second to standing with the president ... in good times and bad. ... He's our president, and the only one that needs our support today,' then you have placed all your chips on red, and you better hope that motherfucker doesn't drop on black."

* A Chinese menu with shocking English translations.

March 13, 2006

when the sun sets on the ghetto
all the broken stuff gets cold

this week the Jews are in N.C., Virginia and NYC

* From the Atlanta Silver Jews show: MP3 of smith and jones forever. other reviews, and directions to other live downloads can be found on the SJBB.

* Top Ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"7. Jim Welker

"While we're on the subject of racism, let's take a peek at the recent antics of Colorado State Representative Jim Welker (R-Obviously) who previously made the Top 10 back in April 2005 for suggesting that gay marriage would lead to bestiality (see Idiots 192). Last week Welker was 'blasted by his colleagues for e-mailing an essay written by someone else that accused 'welfare-pampered blacks' of waiting for the government to save them from Hurricane Katrina,' according to the Rocky Mountain News.

"Welker later said he didn't agree with everything in the essay, although he didn't make any mention of that when he forwarded it, adding no comments. The essay contained a passage which read 'President Bush is not to blame for the rampant immorality of blacks.'

"When he realized that his racist email had caused an uproar in the Colorado General Assembly, Welker came up with the lame excuse that he forwarded the email 'because of its message about society victimizing people by making them dependent on government programs.'

"Yeah, sure he did."

* Momus discusses allen ginsberg. excerpt:

"At moments like this I think of Allen Ginsberg. I think of that gimmick he had -- and it also wasn't a gimmick -- of launching into a mantra at any given moment. Here's one, his Vajra Mantra. It's a lovely recording, a serious and sensuous pronunciation of holy syllables. And I think of Ginsberg's self-awarded license to pronounce these syllables as a strategy, in part, to avoid other syllables. His embrace of Buddhism might have been, amongst other things, a way for Ginsberg to be post-American, a way out of all sorts of conversations with people at universities, rallies, in cars and cafes, wherever; a way out of small talk which would ultimately just confirm certain American fixed ideas, and also confirm him as an American Jew. By becoming some sort of satyr-devotee, by mixing cultures and invoking gods who were non-gods, Ginsberg could escape all that rubbish, all that restricting clutter. I wish I had a gimmick like that! I wish I could break out a small electronic shruti box and just start chanting! Where do I need to apply for the license to do that? Do I need to be a 1960s person? An eccentric? A famous poet? A visiting lecturer?"

* Feingold plans to introduce a resolution in the U.S. Senate today to censure President Bush.

* "I refuse to have my best efforts - already heavily filtered in advance and subjected to the constraints of finance and time - rejected by any criteria whatsoever." -- Pete Townshend

March 10, 2006

and the robot said 'oh, but someday you will'

david berman, 2006


Poems by David Berman:

Imagining Defeat

She woke me up at dawn,
her suitcase like a little brown dog at her heels.

I sat up and looked out the window
at the snow falling in the stand of blackjack trees.

A bus ticket in her hand.

Then she brought something black up to her mouth,
a plum I thought, but it was an asthma inhaler.

I reached under the bed for my menthols
and she asked if I ever thought of cancer.

Yes, I said, but always as a tree way up ahead
in the distance where it doesn't matter

And I suppose a dead soul must look back at that tree,
so far behind his wagon where it also doesn't matter.

except as a memory of rest or water.

Though to believe any of that, I thought,
you have to accept the premise

that she woke me up at all.


Walking through a field with my little brother Seth

I pointed to a place where kids had made angels in the snow.
For some reason, I told him that a troop of angels
had been shot and dissolved when they hit the ground.

He asked who had shot them and I said a farmer.

Then we were on the roof of the lake.
The ice looked like a photograph of water.

Why he asked. Why did he shoot them.

I didn't know where I was going with this.

They were on his property, I said.

When it's snowing, the outdoors seem like a room.

Today I traded hellos with my neighbor.
Our voices hung close in the new acoustics.
A room with the walls blasted to shreds and falling.

We returned to our shoveling, working side by side in silence.

But why were they on his property, he asked

Piano and Scene

A child needs to know the point of the holiday.

His aunt is saying grace over a decaffeinated coffee
and her daughter is reading a Russian novel
whose 45 chapters are set
on 45 consecutive Valentine's Days.

Grandpa is telling the kids fairy tales
from Pennsylvania's pretzel-making region

and it's hard for me to be in the mood
you want me to be in right now,

as I'm suddenly wrapped up in this speculation
on the as yet undiscovered moods of the future,

like nostalgia for a discontinued model of robot
or patriotic feelings for your galaxy

which will probably resemble nosalgia and patriotism
as we now know it, but with added tiers of complexity.

Even if we could manage to travel in time, who's to say
we could relate with those who receive us?

Perhaps we would not be able to read the expressions
on our own descendants faces for what they mean.

As advanced as we consider ourselves,
we still allow ad copy to pander to us.
The scam exposed, it endures with our permission
as a parallel narrative running beside our lives
where we sit with an unbuttered baked potato
and a warm beer in multiple versions of Akron
leavened with foreclosure, heartburn and rain.

Great-grandfather's hobbies, whether they be botany or magic,
can barely make sense to a boy named Occupant III.

Their genius was to let us criticize them
until it became boring and obvious to do so.

Meanwhile they were up ahead, busily constructing a world
in which boring and obvious criticism
was about the worst thing you could do,
and when we reached them in the time they were waiting
with their multiple Akrons,
always one link ahead in the chain of consent.

Maybe we need to give up on these simplistic
"us vs. them" oppositions that we shouldn't believe in,
but in our anger do.

Perhaps we should be concentrating
on what's going to happen an hour or two from now,

whether the human race will survive into this afternoon,
what kinds of food they will eat at the dinner table

and what tales they'll tell of this morning.

* send any reviews of the shows to hackmuth11 at yahoo dot com

March 9, 2006

fell into an ancient age

gordon parks (rip), ella watson

* Abramoff talks with Vanity Fair. excerpt:

"The piece makes much of many prominent Republicans' denials of having worked with Abramoff. Abramoff reminisces about jokes President Bush, who now claims not to remember him, made about his weight training program. Abramoff also recalls discussing the Bible, opera, and golf with Tom DeLay.

"Abramoff also alleges that RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman provided Abramoff political favors--including aiding in the removal of a State Department official."
"The article is supported by images of Abramoff with everyone from Ronald Reagan to Newt Gingrich, and is prefaced by a two-page spread of the lobbyist golfing with Tom DeLay. The Gingrich photo is signed, 'Your friend, Newt Gingrich.' 'I have more pictures of Newt than I have of my wife,' the fallen lobbyist tells the magazine.

"The article also notes that the photographs taken with President Bush, which are in Abramoff's possession, are the lobbyist's sole 'potential source of funds.'"

"Abramoff says it would be 'stupid' to send him to prison, saying he'd rather sweep floors at an Indian reservation.

"'Let me teach English, history, music,' he quipped. 'Or let me sweep floors at the reservation. Instead you’ll be paying to feed me to sit in a jail."

-- PDF file of the interview here.

* Clusterfuck Nation on the housing bubble. excerpt:

"What these pimps and geniuses don't get is that America's future is all about discontinuity. Virtually everything you see out there will not keep going. We will discontinue granting interest only, adjustable rate mortgage loans for half-million-dollar McHouses to schlemiels one paycheck away from bankruptcy -- because the practice will prove to be reckless and ruinous not only for the schlemiels, but for the financial system as a whole. Americans will stop moving to the Sunbelt when they discover what life is really like in Phoenix and Houston without cheap air conditioning. After the suburbs implode financially from a pandemic of defaulted mortgages, we will see how well they operate on $5-a-gallon gasoline (or higher), and how carefree it is to heat a 4000-square-foot McHouse in a permanent natural gas crisis. We'll also discover that telecommuting over the Internet is not so 'cool' in brownout nation.

"Obviously these clowns are whistling past the graveyard as the air audibly hisses out of the housing bubble, and the very appearance of these fatuous reassurances in America's chief enabling organ of popular delusion ought to be a signal to the still-alert out there to run shrieking for safety. It's interesting to note, by the way, that the New York Times ran an editorial last week titled 'The End of Oil,' by Robert B. Semple, stating starkly that the global oil production peak was for real. The catch was that the chickenshit Times editors only ran the piece on their Web edition, not in the printed newspaper. The next day, in the print edition, they ran a big display ad from Exxon-Mobil saying that peak oil was just a shuck-and-jive by a claque of alarmists. Of course, one of the wonderful things about democracy is that people are free to believe whatever they like."

* "I was not looking for my dreams to interpret my life, but rather for my life to interpret my dreams." -- Susan Sontag

* Review of Silver Jews' 'secret' Nashville show.

"The way Nashville was buzzing last week with news of the Silver Jews’ unannounced pre-tour warm-up gig, you would have thought Elijah the Prophet was finally showing up at the Seder table. Hell, even that legendary indie-rock tastemaker Brad Schmitt was in on it. Given lead Jew David Berman’s notorious reclusiveness, the excitement was understandable. And even with all the hubbub, there were still doubts whether the dirigible would ever get airborne.

"All such worries were for naught—the Red Sea parted, as Berman, his wife Cassie and the rest of the Jews led a packed house to the Promised Land Monday night at The End, with a ragged-but-right set that began with American Water’s 'Random Rules,' highlighted material from last year’s Tanglewood Numbers and included old faves like 'Trains Across the Sea.'

"Trial run or not, it was a festive atmosphere—Berman even looked up and smiled at the crowd a couple of times. The rest of the Jews likewise seemed to be enjoying themselves, perhaps relieved to have dusted off the first-show jitters. (It was good to see guitarist William Tyler onstage—there had been whispers that he had slipped below his eight-bands-at-one-time quota.) To close the night, Berman and crew did their best to correct one of modern music’s great oversights—a dearth of T.G. Sheppard covers—with a ripping version of 'I Loved ’Em Every One.' The Jews kick off a five-week U.S. tour Friday at the 40 Watt in Athens, then head to the U.K. for a few shows in late April."

March 8, 2006

you're so good at being a bad example

luca pagliari, six minutes of eternity

Keeping Things Whole
-- by Mark Strand

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body's been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

Living in Sin
-- by Adrienne Rich

She had thought the studio would keep itself;
no dust upon the furniture of love.
Half heresy, to wish the taps less vocal,
the panes relieved of grime. A plate of pears,
a piano with a Persian shawl, a cat
stalking the picturesque amusing mouse
had risen at his urging.
Not that at five each separate stair would writhe
under the milkman's tramp; that morning light
so coldly would delineate the scraps
of last night's cheese and three sepulchral bottles;
that on the kitchen shelf among the saucers
a pair of beetle-eyes would fix her own---
envoy from some village in the moldings . . .
Meanwhile, he, with a yawn,
sounded a dozen notes upon the keyboard,
declared it out of tune, shrugged at the mirror,
rubbed at his beard, went out for cigarettes;
while she, jeered by the minor demons,
pulled back the sheets and made the bed and found
a towel to dust the table-top,
and let the coffee-pot boil over on the stove.
By evening she was back in love again,
though not so wholly but throughout the night
she woke sometimes to feel the daylight coming
like a relentless milkman up the stairs.

I Am in Need of Music
-- by Elizabeth Bishop

I am in need of music that would flow
Over my fretful, feeling fingertips,
Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips,
With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow.
Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low,
Of some song sung to rest the tired dead,
A song to fall like water on my head,
And over quivering limbs, dream flushed to glow!

There is a magic made by melody:
A spell of rest, and quiet breath, and cool
Heart, that sinks through fading colors deep
To the subaqueous stillness of the sea,
And floats forever in a moon-green pool,
Held in the arms of rhythm and of sleep.

Ask Me
-- by William Stafford

Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.

March 7, 2006

take your protein pills and put your helmet on

New Dust Congress HQ

* Yesterday, myself and the to-be mrs. dust congress closed on the above house in Mt. Pleasant (wdc). Then, we bought two bathroom vanities, a stove and a dishwasher. How exciting. But not much here today as a result.

* "All men dream -- but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible." -- T.E. Lawrence

* The SJBB3P: Part Two is available. Write for more details. Additional information to be posted later this week. Quickly: its good, and your collection deserves a copy.

March 6, 2006

Now the sun's fading faster, we're ready to go

wang gongxin, portrait rights no. 9

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"7. The Pentagon

"Best News To Come Out Of Iraq In Ages: It should come as no surprise that the Pentagon last week 'dismissed' a poll of U.S. soldiers fighting in Iraq. The poll showed that 72% of U.S. troops stationed there believe that they should pull out within a year. Only 22% thought that they should stay in Iraq 'as long as it takes,' while one in three want the U.S. to withdraw immediately.

"Clearly these numbers do not bode well for the Bush administration, and the Pentagon must now be scrambling to come up with a way to raise the morale of that large majority of troops.

"So I have a proposal: given her strong belief in the Iraq war, I would like to recommend that Rep. Jean Schmidt of Ohio be sent to Iraq to tell the troops there that 'cowards cut and run, Marines never do.' She seemed pretty firm in that belief on the floor of the House, so I'm sure she'd be glad to take her message to the 72% of American troops in Iraq who want to come home within a year. Come on Jean, put your money where your mouth is!"

* Leonard Cohen wins $9 million judgment. excerpt:

"Leonard Cohen has been granted a default judgment of $9 million U.S. against his former manager, who allegedly drained more than $5 million in savings from the recent Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee.

"The ruling was made in Los Angeles County Superior Court in response to a civil suit that Cohen had filed last August against Kelley Lynch, his business manager from early 1988 through October 2004. The Montreal-born singer, songwriter and poet alleged fraud, negligence and breaches of contract and fiduciary duty on the part of Lynch.
"Cohen claims that his retirement fund had been reduced to $150,000 by late 2004. He alleges that he was misled into believing that the proceeds from the $12-million sale of his publishing holdings had been put into a company called Traditional Holdings that was 99 per cent-controlled by his children Adam, 34, and Lorca, 32. Traditional was actually 99.5-per cent-owned by Lynch, who was Cohen's lover for a brief time in 1990."

* "We plan our lives according to a dream that came to us in our childhood, and we find that life alters our plans. And yet, at the end, from a rare height, we also see that our dream was our fate. It's just that providence had other ideas as to how we would get there. Destiny plans a different route, or turns the dream around, as if it were a riddle, and fulfills the dream in ways we couldn't have expected." -ben okri

March 3, 2006

I'll give you the wind to take you to the oceanside

Tomorrow Night
March 4, 2006 @ DCAC (adams morgan wdc)

flyer by stereogab

Four Bands No Bucks

-- the fake accents

-- the caribbean

-- the foreign press

-- plums

beer and wine served, music and film begin @ 9pm.

Also, this show will serve as the release party for the SJBB3P: Part Two (which features songs by both the fake accents and the foreign press). more details to follow next week.

Ode to Hangover
-- by Dean Young

Hangover, you drive me into the yard
to dig holes as a way of working through you
as one might work through a sorry childhood
by riding the forbidden amusement park rides
as a grown-up until puking. Alas, I feel like
something spit out by a duck, a duck
other ducks are ashamed of when I only
tried to protect myself by projecting myself
on hilarity's big screen at the party
where one nitwit reminisced about the 39¢
a pound chicken of his youth and another said,
Don't go to Italy in June, no one goes to Italy in June.
Protect myself from boring advice,
from the boring past and the boring present
at the expense of an unnauseating future:
now. But look at these newly-socketed lilacs!
Without you, Hangover, they would still be
trapped in their buckets and not become
the opposite of vomit just as you, Hangover,
are the opposite of Orgasm. Certainly
you go on too long and in your grip
one thinks, How to have you never again?
whereas Orgasm lasts too short some seconds
and immediately one plots to repeat her.
After her I could eat a car but here's
a pineapple/clam pizza and Chinese milkshake
yum but Hangover, you make me aspire
to a saltine. Both of you need to lie down,
one with a cool rag across the brow, shutters
drawn, the other in a soft jungle gym, yahoo,
this puzzle has 15 thousand solutions!
Here's one called Rocking Horse
and how about Sunshine in the Monkey Tree.
Chug, chug, goes the arriving train,
those on the platform toss their hats and scarves
and cheer, the president comes out of the caboose
to declare, The war is over! Corks popping,
people mashing people, knocking over melon stands,
ripping millenniums of bodices. Hangover,
rest now, you'll have lots to do later
inspiring abstemious philosophies and menial tasks
that too contribute to the beauty of this world.

-- by Frank Stanford

She pours sweetmilk over me before the sun comes up
Her dress is like a tent in the desert
Her whippings don't count

She buys the young men suits
And they cross the river with someone else
And check-in at Hotel Nemo

She buries her pay in a bucket
Every new moon
She cuts her snuff with happy dust

I trace her butt in the shade
Like a Spanish Oak
We throw light bread to the fish

She mosaics the Lord's mysteries
With scales and egg yolks
Emma is a humming

The Abnormal Is Not Courage
-- by Jack Gilbert

The Poles rode out from Warsaw against the German
Tanks on horses. Rode knowing, in sunlight, with sabers,
A magnitude of beauty that allows me no peace.
And yet this poem would lessen that day. Question
The bravery. Say it's not courage. Call it a passion.
Would say courage isn't that. Not at its best.
It was impossib1e, and with form. They rode in sunlight,
Were mangled. But I say courage is not the abnormal.
Not the marvelous act. Not Macbeth with fine speeches.
The worthless can manage in public, or for the moment.
It is too near the whore's heart: the bounty of impulse,
And the failure to sustain even small kindness.
Not the marvelous act, but the evident conclusion of being.
Not strangeness, but a leap forward of the same quality.
Accomplishment. The even loyalty. But fresh.
Not the Prodigal Son, nor Faustus. But Penelope.
The thing steady and clear. Then the crescendo.
The real form. The culmination. And the exceeding.
Not the surprise. The amazed understanding. The marriage,
Not the month's rapture. Not the exception. The beauty
That is of many days. Steady and clear.
It is the normal excellence, of long accomplishment.

Here Follows an Account of the Nature of Birds
-- by Dan Chiasson

Here Follows an Account of the Nature of Fish.
Here follows a description of an unknown town.
Here follows the phoenix-flight from human eyes.
Here follows the friendship fish and langouste.
All the marvels of erotic danger follow here.
Here follows the phone number of a dead person.
Here follows a game based on perfect information.
Five minutes have passed since I wrote this line.
I mistook my baby’s cry for the radiator hiss.
Here follows the address of a place to buy cocaine.
Big sadness come your way, sunrise, skyline.
Let’s do it some new way next time we try.
Do you have anything you can put inside me?
Here Follows an Account of the Nature of Birds.

March 2, 2006

are you honest when no one's looking

stefan bruggemann, dream

* Mountain Goat's John Darnielle on literature and pop music.

"To me, 'musical influences' are so much less important than literary ones. My chief sources are: Joan Didion, the best writer alive and the most interesting person on the subject of what narratives are and how they work or don’t; Faulkner, though it’s been so long since I read him that the main memory for me is the florid descriptive technique, with which I have a complicated relationship; John Berryman; Robbe-Grillet lately but hugely; also recently wielding a big ol’ influence stick is William Gass’ The Tunnel; Seneca’s plays. The list is long, but I feel I’d be a poor sport if I didn’t actually name some musicians/lyricists whose craft I envy and whose phrases I’ll corrupt and steal: Nick Cave, but not recent-vintage Nick Cave; Lou Reed; Mexican singer Ana Gabriel just for purity of tone, transparency of craft, overall awesomeness; Jimmy Reed; Iron Maiden; Jeffrey Lee Pierce; Randy Newman, certainly; Steely Dan.

"These last two write very complex stuff which I couldn’t hope to match, but again, the main thing for me is what’s going on lyrically, and Donald Fagen and Randy Newman both do some really gorgeous method-acting, and neither one’s tempted to wink at the camera too much, if ever — the most important thing when you’re adopting a persona."
"Lethem makes a fantastic point about 'rock-as-Dionysiac-domain,' though it’s absurd from the standpoint of the craft itself. There’s nothing wild and free and libidinous about Mick Jagger’s 33rd consecutive attempt to get just the right quantity of sneer into 'I’m no schoolboy but I know what I like' in 'Brown Sugar,' but the Rolling Stones are notorious studio perfectionists, and 33 is probably a conservative estimate.

"I wish the music world would just embrace its entirely literary nature. Nobody’s worse with the 'you gotta feel it!' junk than rock people. The problem is music from rock forward is construed as being 'about sex,' which is at least partly correct. But there’s also this complicating notion that sex is 'about youth,' or at least for youth. This problem does not exist in the literary world. Not to say that sex appeal doesn’t help sell books: It does, of course it does; but the whole culture of literature, across the magazine spectrum from NYROB to Granta to The Baffler to McSweeney’s, is less heavily reliant on this particular region of smoke and mirrors. I also wish the pop world shared the literary world’s open lust for verbiage. Once a year you’ll read an essay somewhere about how analyzing a song will kill it. Yaaaarrrrgghhhhhh. Hulk smash.

"Contentwise, I don’t really draw any distinction between pop songs and literature, so they can’t really learn from each other in that sense, as they are more or less the same person."

* Watch Indie Clerk Assholes. complete with pavement and pitchfork references.

* The Roast [via]

It started off in the town of Choriamb as a simple dinner party. All of the poets in the world had gathered at a really big tavern for the sake of fun and fellowship. Haggis was served. Robert Hass brought blackberries. Wendy Cope brought bananas and her lawyers. Mark Strand ate poetry. Ink ran out of the corners of his mouth and everyone looked at him as though he were disturbed. Dana Gioia sat in an arm chair telling everyone about how he had invented (see paragraph 2 of his NEA bio) Slam Poetry, Cowboy Poetry, and how the idea for the invention of the Internet had been stolen from him by the pesky Democrat Al Gore. Ted Kooser sat in a corner talking to local cats and dogs. Billy Collins got drunk and bragged about taking off Emily Dickinson's clothes. He then tried to hit on Denise Duhamel, who poked him in the eye with a Barbie Doll. Rita Dove tried to get everyone to dance but she had a bit of trouble because so many poets got into poetry when young because they were geeks and social misfits and therefore didn't date much when young and therefore never learned to dance. Everyone at the party displayed really bad table manners, but this was all ok. They were among friends.

Or so they thought.

Suddenly Sharon Olds screamed.


"What? What?" Ai came running over.

"WILLIAM LOGAN JUST BIT FRANZ WRIGHT! I think he thought he was a potato...."

"OMYGOD," Carolyn Forche said, "Is he all right?"

"No," said David Berman sadly, leaning over Logan and taking his pulse. "He's dead. Hm...maybe I should write a song about this with Billy Corgan...."

"Where is William Logan?" Derek Walcott said. He had such a cool West Indies accent that everyone paused for a moment in awe.

"He ran off," Olds said, after she had recovered from her awe of Derek Walcott's accent, "wearing a long black flapping coat and an evil demonic grin...and looked, momentarily, when Logan bit Wright, like Logan had...fangs!"

Seamus Heaney (who also has a cool accent) and Amiri Baraka picked up Franz Wright and put him into a spare room. All of the poets then resumed the party. Jewel sang. All of the poets were sad at first, but then they consumed lots of alcohol in Wright's honor and things got much better. After several more hours of partying many of them started going back to their hotel rooms so they could sleep.

Meanwhile, in the spare room, Franz Wright came back to life.

(sort of.)

Franz Wright touched his teeth with his tongue and found they had turned into fangs.

"What...what happened to me?" he said.

He looked up. William Logan was standing above him, smiling.

"Logan?" Franz Wright said, "I'm going to kill you!!!!!!!!!!!!"

"You can't," William Logan said. "I'm already dead."


"So are you, my friend."


"Stop saying that. Shut up. You're dead. Also, you're now a vampire. Accept it. I did you a service. Poets only become famous after they are dead. SO, the only way to resurrect the sad state of poetry in this world is to kill it.

"You and me, boy, we have some work to do..." William Logan licked his fangs. "Together, WE WILL RESURRECT POETRY! Let's now go find us some more tasty poets!"

"Yum, yum!" said Franz Wright.

March 1, 2006

second floor of a church stop me if it hurts

Chris Johanson, Untitled, 2001

Seeker Of Truth
-- by ee cummings

seeker of truth

follow no path
all paths lead where

truth is here

Mingus At The Showplace
-- by William Matthews

I was miserable, of course, for I was seventeen
and so I swung into action and wrote a poem

and it was miserable, for that was how I thought
poetry worked: you digested experience shat

literature. It was 1960 at The Showplace, long since
defunct, on West 4th st., and I sat at the bar,

casting beer money from a reel of ones,
the kid in the city, big ears like a puppy.

And I knew Mingus was a genius. I knew two
other things, but as it happens they were wrong.

So I made him look at this poem.
"There's a lot of that going around," he said,

and Sweet Baby Jesus he was right. He glowered
at me but didn't look as if he thought

bad poems were dangerous, the way some poets do.
If they were baseball executives they'd plot

to destroy sandlots everywhere so that the game
could be saved from children. Of course later

that night he fired his pianist in mid-number
and flurried him from the stand.

"We've suffered a diminuendo in personnel,"
he explained, and the band played on.

Dutch Interiors
-- by Jane Kenyon

Christ has been done to death
in the cold reaches of northern Europe
a thousand thousand times.
Suddenly bread
and cheese appear on a plate
beside a gleaming pewter beaker of beer.

Now tell me that the Holy Ghost
does not reside in the play of light
on cutlery!

A Woman makes lace,
with a moist-eyed spaniel lying
at her small shapely feet.
Even the maid with the chamber pot
is here; the naughty, red-cheeked girl. . . .

And the merchant's wife, still
in her yellow dressing gown
at noon, dips her quill into India ink
with an air of cautious pleasure.

She Didn't Mean To Do It
-- by Daisy Fried

Oh, she was sad, oh, she was sad.
She didn't mean to do it.

Certain thrills stay tucked in your limbs,
go no further than your fingers, move your legs through their paces,
but no more. Certain thrills knock you flat
on your sheets on your bed in your room and you fade
and they fade. You falter and they're gone, gone, gone.
Certain thrills puff off you like smoke rings,
some like bell rings growing out, out, turning
brass, steel, gold, till the whole world's filled
with the gonging of your thrills.

But oh, she was sad, she was just sad, sad,
and she didn't mean to do it.