June 30, 2010

I stayed at home on the Fourth of July
And I pulled the shades so I didn't have to see the sky

charles a. kraus, peace, freedom...are they one in the same?

Old Phone-adelphia
-- by Eric Amling

Hey Bovine, a tiny application of brainwork
is needed to chew your cud. And like the owl
an analysis of your refuse says much about you,
but slash open the black bear and muck around
the innards of a larva city
there will be the valuable gallbladder.

For those who ride the perfect horse
with their favorite gun, in a lighthouse sweater,
nerdy-looking, a sky unadorned with no more Concords,
having a recent eye and ear infirmary service your skull,
the mind something terribly cinematic and daggy
like two nunchuck entangled ninjas frozen-to-death
atop the Matterhorn, or worse. Much like the conch shell

seems to have nothing of value inside, but the direct descendent
of the rotary phone, with which to extend our clairvoyance
to relatives in the city of narrow perimeters and say,
hey Kite, hey Skeleton Key, you’re the best.

Early Sunday Morning
-- by Edward Hirsch

I used to mock my father and his chums
for getting up early on Sunday morning
and drinking coffee at a local spot,
but now I'm one of those chumps.

No one cares about my old humiliations,
but they go on dragging through my sleep
like a string of empty tin cans rattling
behind an abandoned car.

It's like this: just when you think
you have forgotten that red-haired girl
who left you stranded in a parking lot
forty years ago, you wake up

early enough to see her disappearing
around the corner of your dream
on someone else's motorcycle,
roaring onto the highway at sunrise.

And so now I'm sitting in a dimly lit
café full of early- morning risers,
where the windows are covered with soot
and the coffee is warm and bitter.

The Ghost of Walter Benjamin Walks at Midnight
-- by Charles Wright

The world's an untranslatable language
without words or parts of speech.
It's a language of objects
Our tongues can't master,
but which we are the ardent subjects of.

If tree is tree in English,
and albero in Italian,
That's as close as we can come
To divinity, the language that circles the earth
and which we'll never speak.

June 29, 2010

I Want to be the Girl with the Most Cake

Walker Evans, Abandoned House, 1973

* Must Read: David Malitz on Hole's show at DC's 9:30 Club. excerpt:

Make no mistake - this was an astonishingly awful performance that had few moments of redeeming musical value. Song titles, lyrics, guitar chords - Love remembered only some of them, and infrequently. Then again, what was really the best-case musical scenario? A competent recreation of songs more than a decade old, played by Love and her latest hired hands? Is that what people wanted to see - Courtney karaoke versions of '90s MTV buzz clips? Maybe. But probably not. Perhaps a bit more professionalism would have been nice but in 2010 you pay your $45 hoping for the Courtney Love Experience. And Sunday night was an experience like no other.
When Love got around to singing, her voice sounded as if something died in her throat earlier in the day. Love has a blood-curdling howl, by far her most effective asset as a performer. She just should have used it more on Sunday. During the choruses of "Miss World" and "Violet" - two of her best and most popular songs - she turned the microphone to the crowd and didn't even bother singing. Other times she skipped lines in order to cough, or take a sip of water or just ... not sing. Of the nearly 30 songs (or song fragments), not even a handful were completed without some minor disaster.

Love took a request for "Rock Star" despite admitting she didn't remember how to play it. She stumbled through half the song without strumming anything resembling one correct chord. (Why didn't she just Google the tablature on the iPhone?) She played a new song, "Pretty Your Whole Life." It was bad. Half an hour later she played it again. It was worse.

Love eventually decided to have some of her fans join her on stage. She started plucking some from the crowd and they simply sat off to the side. "Do you really like rock music?" she asked one female. "Because you're African-American. That would be like me being into Lil Wayne." She wasn't joking. One fan came on stage with a poster and asked Love to sign it. "No socializing! Go sit over there."
Before the encore another one of Love's handlers told the remaining faithful that they would have to be loud because there was someone who was waiting to have sex with Love and it would take lots of applause to get her to delay that appointment. Sure enough Love did re-emerge, this time wearing a skin-colored see-through top, sans bra. It would have been blurred out on TV, even on E!

She quickly became self-conscious and asked the audience for a bra, promising unlimited merchandise to whoever gave her one. One came flying onto the stage and Love removed her top to put it on. She did this at the back corner of the stage, so we could only see her bare back. She then repeatedly talked about how the bra was too big for her.

The encore contained a Rolling Stones cover (the second of the night), a Leonard Cohen cover ("Take This Longing") and the back-to-back of originals "Car Crash" and "Awful." Was this irony or were we well past that? Most of her backing band had retired for the night by this point leaving Love and guitarist Micko Larkin alone on stage. Then came a cover of Big Star's "Thirteen" that likely had Alex Chilton doing 360s in his grave. Before closer "Northern Lights" she ripped off the bra. Obviously. It's actually somewhat surprising she didn't play Nirvana's "Pennyroyal Tea" while completely topless.

"This is a really weird show," Love said in perhaps the understatement of the night a bit earlier. "I can't tell if it's really terrible."

Courtney, let me tell you something. In just the past year and a half, I've been to about 400 shows. I've seen some really terrible ones. And this was really the most terrible. No question. But the vast majority of those 400 shows, I went there, I saw it, and almost immediately forgot I was there. I'll never forget this night with Courtney Love, no matter how much I may want to. And isn't that really what she's always wanted?

* Have you had a significant psilocybin mushroom experience? Please take this anonymous Johns Hopkins survey csp.org/hopkins/psilocybinsurvey Because they need many responses, please share the link widely. Click for survey.

* "Surely all art is the result of one's having been in danger, of having gone through an experience all the way to the end, where no one can go any further. The further one goes, the more private, the more personal, the more singular an experience becomes, and the thing one is making is, finally, the necessary, irrepressible, and, as nearly as possible, definitive utterance of this singularity." --Rainer Maria Rilke

June 28, 2010

Come out from the world
and into my arms
like wind on the water with me
come out from the city
come out from the town
build stone by stone a wild mountain home

Antonio McAfee, 6/30/2007

* From Dropping the Spoon:

A well-read student of Sigmund Freud, Salvador Dalí—who never used drugs and only drank alcohol (especially champagne) in moderation—turned to a most unusual way to access his subconscious. He knew that the hypnologic state between wakefulness and sleep was possibly the most creative for a brain.

Like Freud and his fellow surrealists, he considered dreams and imagination as central rather than marginal to human thought. Dalí searched for a way to stay in that creative state as long as possible just as any one of us on a lazy Saturday morning might enjoy staying in bed in a semi-awake state while we use our imagination to its fullest. He devised a most interesting technique.

"Sitting in the warm sun after a full lunch and feeling somewhat somnolent, Dalí would place a metal mixing bowl in his lap and hold a large spoon loosely in his hands which he folded over his chest. As he fell asleep and relaxed, the spoon would fall from his grasp into the bowl and wake him up. He would reset the arrangement continuously and thus float along-not quite asleep and not quite awake—while his imagination would churn out the images that we find so fascinating, evocative, and inexplicable when they appear in his work…” —from Provenance is Everything, Bernard Ewell

How simple, how obvious and elucidating this is! To think that those images of towering giraffes, lions stretching out of pomegranates and 4-dimensional tesseract crucified Christs were in fact straight of out dreams makes one realize that the mojo of the king of surrealism (not to mention a potion for creativity strong enough to intoxicate the likes of Newton and Beethoven) is in fact available to us right here and now, and the only cost would be trading in a nap for a drowsy state of temporary self-denial, the hardest part is simply not letting yourself go all the way to sleep.

* "Written history is composed of actions; real history is actions compounded invisibly with refusals to act" -- Robert Grudin

June 23, 2010

Two characters in search of a country song
Just make believe, but so in love
Two characters been listin' all night long
for voices from Nashville above

Nigel Cooke, The Painter On His Way To Work, 2005

The Place on the Corner
-- by William Matthews

No mirror behind this bar: tiers of garish
fish drift back and forth. They too have routines.
The TV's on but not the sound. Dion
and the Belmonts ("I'm a Wanderer") gush
from the box. None here thinks a pink slip
("You're fired," with boilerplate apologies)
is underwear. None here says "lingerie"
or "as it were." We speak Demonic
because we're disguised as ordinary
folks. A shared culture offers camouflage
behind which we can tend the covert fires
we feed our shames to, those things we most fear
to say, our burled, unspoken, common language --
the only one, and we are many.

Rocas del Caribe, Isla Mujeres, 1967
-- by William Matthews

Broke, we went when no one else would, July,
and got a corner room. "The wind," the desk
clerk grinned, spreading his arms full span, "will frisk
your room." I'm sure that's what I heard him say.
Breeze surged through the room like gossip. The fear-
fueled calf we shared the ferry with was on
the menu every night. We ate in town.
"Camarones?" "Shrimp." It can take a year
twice for a week's vacation: first you save
that long for it and then it lasts that lone.
The stubborn surf broke into spume and lace
above the rocks. Bored silly face to face,
we told each other there was nothing wrong,
but filled with dread like a pair of sieves.

Thinking About Thinking
-- by William Matthews

The purpose of art is to save us from the truth,
Nietzsche thought, perhaps because he feared
the purpose of truth was to save us from art.
I don't feel in such constant peril, except
perhaps from the urge I have to know what
I think and then say it over and over
like a cupiditous schoolboy using a new
word in a sentence. Suppose what we think
we know proved instead to be a chance
to think again. For example: the cat
walks by itself, but not the the dinner bowl.
Or: even paranoids have real enemies,
and, likewise, mirrors. Or: the cut worm
forgives the plow, twice. My love says I think
too damn much and maybe she's right.
The sorrow of thought is that it replaces
the world that stunned us into thought,
and leads us not to awe but to new
morose connections between language
and desire. So is the purpose of my love
to save me from thinking? I think not.
And this time, for once, she agrees.

--- summer hours this week, back Monday

June 22, 2010

the tissue box is empty
no coffee for my cream
dogs howl in the alley
crazy women scream

Ed van der Elsken, Couple, 1970

* From Lester Bang's 1974 essay How to Be a Rock Critic:

The first thing to understand and bear in mind at all times is that the whole thing is just a big ruse from the word go, it don't mean shit except exploitatively and in the zealotic terms of wanting to inflict your tastes on other people. Most people start writing record reviews because they want other people to like the same kind of stuff they do, and there's nothing wrong with that, it's a very honest impulse. I used to be a Jehovah's Witness when I was a kid so I had it in my blood already, a head start. But don't worry. All you gotta do is just keep bashin' away, and sooner or later people will start saying things to you like "How do you fit the Kinks into your overall aesthetic perspective?"

Well they won't really talk that jiveass, but damn close if you travel in the right (or wrong, as the case may be) circles. Because that old saw is true: most rock critics are pompous assholes. Maybe most critics are pompous assholes, but rock critics are especially--because they're working in virgin territory, where there's absolutely no recognized, generally agreed on authority or standards. Nor should there be. Anything goes, so fake 'em out every chance you get. Rock 'n' roll's basically just a bunch of garbage in the first place, it's noise, it's here today and gone tomorrow, so the only thing that can possibly trip you up is if you begin to reflect that if the music's that trivial, can you imagine how trivial what you're doing is?

Which actually is a good attitude to operate from, because it helps keep the pomposity factor if check. Half the rock critics in the country, no, 90% of the rock critics in the world have some grand theory they're trying to lay on each other and everybody else, which they insist explains everything in musical history and ties up all the loose ends. Every last one of 'em has a different theory and every last one of the theories is total bullshit, but you might as well have one as part of your baggage if you're going to pass. Try this: ALL ROCK 'N' ROLL CULTURES PLAGIARIZE EACH OTHER. THAT IS INHERENT IN THEIR NATURE. SO MAYBE, SINCE WHAT ROCK'N' ROLL'S ALL ABOUT IS PLAGIARISM ANYWAY, THE MOST OUT-AND-OUT PLAGIARISTS, THE IMITATORS OF THE PRIME MOVING GENIUSES, ARE GREATER AND MORE VALID THAN THOSE GENIUSES! JUST CHECK THIS OUT: THE ROLLING STONES ARE BETTER THAN CHUCK BERRY! THE SHADOWS OF KNIGHT WERE BETTER THAN THE YARDBIRDS! P.F. SLOAN'S FIRST ALBUM WAS A MASTERPIECE, WAY BETTER THAN BLONDE ON BLONDE (I know one prominent rock critic in Texas who actually believes this; he's a real reactionary, but so are most of 'em!)!

Pretty pompous, huh? Well, that just happens to be one of my basic theories, although I don't really believe all the stuff I said in there (not that that makes a diddley damn bit of difference), and you can have it if you want it to bend or mutate as you please. Or come up with your own crock of shit; anyway, it's good to have one for those late-nite furious discussions leading absolutely nowhere. See, the whole thing's just a big waste of time, but the trappings can be fun and you always liked to whack off anyway. Like, look, you can impress people you wanna fuck by saying impressive things like "John Stewart Mill couldn't write rock 'n' roll, but Dylan could have written 'An Essay On Human Understanding.' Only he would have called it 'Like a Rolling Stone!'" (Dave Marsh of creem Magazine actually said that to me, and everybody else who lived with us, and everybody he talked to on the phone for the next month, once.) Just imagine laying that on some fine little honey--she'd flip out! She'd think you were a genius! Either that or a pompous asshole. But in this business, like any other, you win some and you lose some. Persevere, kid.

* Eric Amling will be reading from his new chapbook "Total Surfdom" Saturday June 26, 2010 at Sunny's Bar in Red Hook, Brooklyn (253 Conover St) starting at 7:30pm. Also reading: Al Duvall. Stop in if you are nearby.

* Salon reads so you don't have to: ten best parts of Pat Benatar's memoir.

* "You know, a lot of people feel sorry for him, because he's so tall and awkward. But I'll tell you this -- if everyone in the world was a Manute Bol, it's a world I'd want to live in." -- Charles Barkley, RIP Manute

June 21, 2010

Well, you’re drunk in the alley, baby
With your clothes all torn
And your late night friends
Leave you in the cold, grey dawn

Christopher French, Heat Index, 2009

* From Harper's July 2010:

-- Percentage of Afghan police units that the U.S. military believes are capable of operating without assistance: 12

-- Chance that a new Afghan police recruit knows how to read: 1 in 10

-- Percentage change since 2007 in the number of alleged sexual assaults committed by U.S. service members: +18

-- Chances that a young Egyptian woman thinks a man should be allowed to beat his wife for speaking to another man: 2 in 3

-- Number of U.S. states in which it is legal for first cousins to marry: 19

-- Percentage of English soccer fans in North America who would fast for a week to see their country win the World Cup: 93

-- Percentage of Italians there who would: 1

* Podcast: A close listen to the post-evangelical songs of Bob Dylan.

* "The misfortune of ethics: because it knows everything better, it learns nothing." -- Elias Canetti

June 18, 2010

there are times
when all the world's asleep
the questions run too deep
for such a simple man

Linda Vallejo, Mujer Flor, 1993

-- by Connie Wanek

First you'll come to the end of the freeway.
Then it's not so much north on Woodland Avenue
as it is a feeling that the pines are taller and weigh more,
and the road, you'll notice,
is older with faded lines and unmown shoulders.
You'll see a cemetery on your right
and another later on your left.
Sobered, drive on.

Drive on for miles
if the fields are full of hawkweed and daises.
Sometimes a spotted horse
will gallop along the fence. Sometimes you'll see
a hawk circling, sometimes a vulture.
You'll cross the river many times
over smaller and smaller bridges.
You'll know when you're close;
people always say they have a sudden sensation
that the horizon, which was always far ahead,
is now directly behind them.
At this point you may want to park
and proceed on foot, or even
on your knees.

Hand With Jar
-- by Tina Celona

for Renee

There was a hand. There was a jar, the hand was lifting the lid off the jar and nearby there was a big red fruit. To the left and in the distance were ferns. To the bottom center and right the sun was coming up. A blue Egyptian flower sprouted from the branch on which the red fruit was growing. It looked like the jar was standing on a table. The important thing was the circle of light around the jar. You could not look away from it, you could not look at the painting without looking at the jar, because the painting was so small part of it could not fill up your whole eye.

The three objects were evolving. One was a collection of safety pins. One was some kind of tropical fruit. The three were like weapons with sharp, knifelike edges and you could not tell if they were the same size on either side.

I was certain you were a genius. Your paintings were the size of your ego. Your notebooks were a place to hide them.

-- by Franz Wright

Then the point comes
when language decides
to start strangling itself
on its leash, make a break for it
or to turn on you --
no longer the mournful
appearing, intelligent
and silent being who guided you
in a dark world.

June 17, 2010

there are only moments
that's all there'll ever be

Andreas Gursky, 99 cent, 1999

* From Hos, Hookers, Call Girls, and Rent Boys, by David Henry Sterry and R.J. Martin, Jr. (Soft Skull, 2009): Rules Phone Sex Workers Had to Follow:

"There were many mothers [among the phone sex workers]. All were great women, and talking with them during the slow periods was the best part of the job. Let's just say odd jobs collect odd characters to work at them, so the stories they had were great. ...

"The first call [I received] was on the one-nine-hundred number, which requires the workers to follow special rules. The one-eight-hundred number involves the use of a credit card to talk to a woman, so the age of the caller can often be verified, but many callers who use the nine-hundred line are under eighteen. We had a fiber optic Big Brother occasionally monitoring the phone calls to make sure we followed the rules. So we needed to make sure that we obeyed the rules and didn't verbally give any hard-ons to minors (without them really working for it).

"In addition, the rules for phone sex lines out of California in the late '90s, as explained by my supervisors, specified that there could be no talk of bestiality, underage sex, or incest. This was taken so seriously that we couldn't even use phrases like 'Daddy's little girl' or 'Let me be your sex kitten' without verbally clarifying that we were over eighteen and not related to the callers, or that we weren't actually feline. Do you know what a c**k block it is, during a naughty-high-school-cheerleader-being-disciplined-by-the-principal story, when you have to stop and explain twice that you are an eighteen-year-old high school cheerleader?

"So, to make sure the callers were eighteen or older, we played the math game: We had to get the callers to give us not only their age, but year born and year graduated from high school. There was a chart of corresponding years so the phone sex workers wouldn't have to do the math. If callers messed up on the math, they failed, and not only did they not get any 'Baby, give it to me, give it to me hard:' but their coded phone numbers were put on a list. If any number appeared on the list more than three times, our supervisor would call the parents. Yes, the phone sex line would turn you in, junior.

"Along with Minor Math, we had to play Feed Me the Line. We couldn't use any sexually explicit words or phrases till the caller used them first. We couldn't actually talk dirty to callers till they talked dirty to us, and strangely enough, getting a very horny man to talk dirty to you isn't as easy as it seems. Most of the callers are slightly socially retarded toward women. If they were able to talk to women about what they wanted, they would be getting laid without Ma Bell playing madam. The typical career expected you to be an easy verbal lay: Just dial the number and instant orgasmic satisfaction. But I couldn't give them what I knew they wanted without them 'feeding me the line.' So it was a conversational tug-of-war: 'Talk dirty to me.' 'Tell me about what you want me to do for you.' 'Talk dirty to me.' 'Come on, baby, tell me your fantasy.' 'I want you to talk dirty to me.' 'Tell me exactly what you want me to talk about.' 'Talk dirty to me.' And so on and so on."

* "Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash". -- Leonard Cohen

June 16, 2010

Rub out the catlight,
rub out the village
red and white exit light
that's exodus damage
Why don't people think of who they use?

Drew Beckmeyer, Earthquake, 2010

High Windows
-- by Philip Larkin

When I see a couple of kids
And guess he’s fucking her and she’s
Taking pills or wearing a diaphragm,
I know this is paradise

Everyone old has dreamed of all their lives—
Bonds and gestures pushed to one side
Like an outdated combine harvester,
And everyone young going down the long slide

To happiness, endlessly. I wonder if
Anyone looked at me, forty years back,
And thought, That’ll be the life;
No God any more, or sweating in the dark

About hell and that, or having to hide
What you think of the priest. He
And his lot will all go down the long slide
Like free bloody birds
. And immediately

Rather than words comes the thought of high windows:
The sun-comprehending glass,
And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows
Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless.

Working Outside at Night
-- By Denis Johnson

The moon swells
and its yellow darkens
nearer the horizon
and soon all
the aluminum rooftops

shall appear, orange
and distinct beside
the orange sun,
while the diamond
flares in its vacuum

within. It is simple
to be with the shovel,
thoughtless, inhabited
by this divorce,
it is good

the luminous
machinery, silenced,
waits, nice
that the conveyor
belts choked with sand

convey nothing.
When I return home to
coffee at
7:45 the lithe
young girls will be going
to high school, pulling

to their mouths stark
cigarettes through
Arizona’s sunlight.
These last few months
have been awful, and when

around five the roosters
alone on neighboring
small farms begin
to scream like humans
my heart just lies down,
a stone.

1920 S St NW: The Chateau Thierry
-- By Terrence Winch

If you opened the door without thinking,
the entire neighborhood gushed into the apartment
like an open hydrant. We gathered around the black
and white TV like it was a tabernacle containing
the secrets we yearned to know. The first Gay Pride Day
made the building tremble so violently the roaches
scurried from the cracks and crevices looking
for safter quaters. Theodore, Edward, and Al
ran the only manual elevator still going in our
part of town. Church, violent and crazy, dealt coke
out of his first floor apartment. Mara owned
a dozen petite dogs to be avoided at all costs.
Zoltan Farkas wrote The Baltimore Poems
Then disappeared completely from the landscape.
I had a brass bed, my altar of love, and a cat
named Spooky. People yelled my name
up the side of the building, I threw them
a key out the window, and they rose
up to the fifth floor and through that open door
into my abode of bliss, which I still miss.

June 15, 2010

marijuana substitutes mean nothing to me
I fly to Amsterdam to get the real thing

Lisa Yuskavage, Faucet, 1995

* On the World Cup, via Strange Victory Strange Defeat:

It has long been recognized that the World Cup is about a whole lot more than just soccer. For most people around the globe, these players are more than just showstoppers -- they are gods. And they enjoy the personality cult and salaries to match. In fact, some call it the "most important sport in history," and the numbers are telling of its elevated importance.

It has been estimated that more than 715 million people watched the cup final in 2006, notably 10 times the number of people who watched the Super Bowl that year. Known as a "lingua franca," for most nations around the world, the game becomes an expression of national identity, in fact, 204 nations tried to qualify for 32 spots in this year’s World Cup, while there are only 192 states in the United Nations. This startling statistic is in part fueled by examples like this: the British use it as an excuse to dissolve their union and play as four countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Despite the astronomical salaries of football’s greatest stars and the marketing and manufacturing of the whole sport, there is a powerful link between the boys kicking a ball around on the beach to the stars in the stadium, in a way no other sport can claim. There is a purity at the heart of the game, especially as players rarely come from the middle classes, rather their heartlands are the slums and shantytowns, the favelas and the mean backstreets.

* Lego versions of iconic photographs.

* “Facts sometimes have a strange and bizarre power that makes their inherent truth seem unbelievable.” -- Werner Herzog

June 10, 2010

Well the whistle just blew, the conductors going to complain
Play the song, on the wall, come on pass me the ball


Marble Hill
-- By Sarah Hannah

You've missed the train—
The birds care nothing about it.
In the brush, in the eaves of rock
Yellow moths wink like paper.
You've missed the train,
A perfect miss; it snaked by slowly
As you stumbled down the steps from the subway overpass.
Starlings rattle in the brush.
A dayliner passes, puffing clouds in silence.
Maybe you should have married
That rock guitarist from Jersey.
There was a pleasant stillness then—
A home, yellow flutterings—
Which you cannot help considering, bound,
For another hour, to this stubborn plain
While the afternoon sun makes water of the air
And concrete, and in this heat
Edges blur between outcroppings:
Sooted cliffs, car mufflers, non-refundables.
You're getting older;
You're less able to contain your questions.

Is there any marble in this hill at all?

* In Pittsburgh? The Caribbean play Friday June 11 @ Brillobox, with Marriage Blanc and Delicious Pastries. 9:30pm.

--- Back Tuesday

June 9, 2010

Got on the bus half drunk again
the driver glared at me

Guy R. Beining, Worm, 2008

North Beach Yuppie Bar
-- by A.D. Winans

Hard to believe Richard Brautigan
Jack Spicer and the Beats drank here
As I sit and watch two business men
Playing liar's dice at Gino and Carlo's Bar
In the heard of North Beach
Their faces white as pie crust
Wearing double breasted suits
and Italian imported shirts
The legal mafia making their own rules

The one with the twisted smile
Hides behind his dice cup
His coconspirator silently poking
At the olive in his martini glass
Looking like a hit man waiting
to fulfill a contract

Death of a Lawn Mower
-- by David Ignatow

It died in its sleep,
dreaming of grass,
its knives silent and still,
dreaming too, its handlebars
a stern, abbreviated cross
in tall weeds. Where is he
whom it served so well?
Its work has come to nothing,
the dead keep to themselves.

The Couple
-- by Louis Jenkins

They no longer sleep quite as well as they did
when they were younger. He lies awake thinking
of things that happened years ago, turning
uncomfortably from time to time, pulling on the
blankets. She worries about money. First one
and then the other is awake during the night,
in shifts as if keeping watch, though they can't
see very much in the dark and it's quiet. They
are sentries at some outpost, an abandoned fort
somewhere in the middle of the Great Plains
where only the wind is a regular visitor. Each
stands guard in the wilderness of an imagined
life in which the other sleeps untroubled.

June 7, 2010

Death to everyone is gonna come
And it makes hosing much more fun

Jeff Huntington, Rift, 2010

* RIP David Markson. Here's an excellent Bookslut interview of Markson from July 2005. Wittgenstein's Mistress -- blurbed at its publication in 1987 by a very young David Foster Wallace as "a work of genius...an erudite, breathtakingly cerebral novel whose prose is crystal and whose voice rivets and whose conclusion defies you not to cry" -- is a must read.

* From William Burroughs' Deposition: Testimony Concerning A Sickness (1959):

Junk is the mold of monopoly and possession. The addict stands by while his junk legs carry him straight in on the junk beam to relapse. Junk is quantitative and accurately measurable. The more junk you use the less you have and the more you have the more you use. All the hallucinogen drugs are considered sacred by those who use them--there are Peyote Cults and Bannisteria Cults, Hashish Cults and Mushroom Cults--"the Scared Mushrooms of Mexico enable a man to see God''--but no on ever suggested that junk is sacred. There are no opium cults. Opium is profane and quantitative like money. I have heard that there was one a bbeneficentnon-habit-forming junk in India. It was called *soma* and is pictured as a beautiful blue tide. If *soma* ever existed the Pusher was there to bottle it and monopolize it and sell it and it turned into plain old time JUNK.

Junk is the ideal product . . . the ultimate merchandise. No sales talk necessary. The client will crawl through a sewer and beg to buy. . . . The junk merchant does not sell his product to the consumer, he sells the consumer to his product. He does not improve and simplify his merchandise. He degrades and simplifies the client. He pays his staff in junk.

Junk yields a basic formula of "evil'' virus: *The Algebra of Need*. The face of "evil'' is always the face of total need. A dope fiend is a man in total need of dope. Beyond a certain frequency need knows absolutely no limit or control. In the words of total need: "*Wouldn't you*?'' Yes you would. You would lie, cheat, inform on your friends, steal, do *anything* to satisfy total need. Because you would be in a state of total sickness, total possession, and not in a position to act in any other way. Dope fiends are sick people who cannot act other than they do. A rabid dog cannot choose but bite. Assuming a self-righteous position is nothing to the purpose unless your purpose be to keep the junk virus in operation. And junk is a big industry.

* Tomorrow (Tuesday June 8) The Foreign Press plays @ The Velvet Lounge (915 U nw wdc). With Kadman and Israel Darling. 9pm $8. Come on out.

* “The times spat at me. I spit back at the times.” -- Andrei Voznesensk, RIP

June 4, 2010

one of those bands got paid I heard
one of those bands got pai

Sandra Beasley reads her poem The Story (from her new book I Was The Jukebox: Poems)

-- by Lowell Jaeger

I once shoplifted
a tin of Vienna sausages.
Crouched in the aisle
as if to study the syllables
of preservatives, tore off the lid,
pulled out a wiener and sucked it down.

I've cheated on exams.
Made love to foldouts.
Walked my paper route in a snowstorm after dark,
so I could steal down a particular alley
where through her gauze curtains, a lady
lounged with her nightgown undone.

I've thrown sticks at stray dogs.
Ignored the cat scratching to come inside.
Even in the rain.
Sat for idle hours in front of the TV, and not two feet away
the philodendrons for lack of a glass of water
gasped and expired.

So many excuses I've concocted to get by.
Called in sick when I was not. Grabbed credit
for happy accidents I had no hand in.
Pointed fingers
to pin the innocent with crimes
unmistakably mine.

I have failed
to learn from grievous error.
Repeated gossip.
Invented gossip. Held hands
in a circle of friends to rejoice
over the misfortune of strangers.
Pushed over tombstones.
Danced the devil's jig.

Once, when I was barely old enough
to walk home on my own, I hid
behind an abandoned garage.
Counted sixteen windows.
Needed only four handfuls of stones
to break every one.

-- by Allen Ginsberg

It leaps about me, as I go out and walk the street, look back over my
shoulder. Seventh Avenue, the battlements of window office
buildings shouldering each other high, under a cloud, tall as the
sky an instant — and the sky above — an old blue place.

or down the Avenue to the South, to – as I walked toward the Lower
East Side – where you walked 50 years ago, little girl – from
Russia, eating the first poisonous tomatoes of America – frightened
on the dock –

then struggling in the crowds of Orchard Street toward what? – toward

toward candy store, first home-made sodas of the century, hand-churned
ice cream in backroom on musty brownfloor boards –

Toward education marriage nervous breakdown, operation, teaching
school, and learning to be mad, in a dream – what is this life?...

Ai! ai! we do worse! We are in a fix! And you're out, Death let you out.
Death had the Mercy, you're done with your century, done with
God, done with the path thru it – Done with yourself at last—
Pure – Black to the Babe dark before your Father, before us all—
before the world—

There, rest. No more suffering for you. I know where you've gone, it's

June 2, 2010

contrary to what theologians say
there is no savior in our society
i can disprove what they call facts
and show it's all make-believe bullshit

Cara Ober, The War Goes On, 2009

Three Poems by Ted Berrigan

Anti-War Poem (for Robert Harris)

It's New Year's Eve, of 1968 & a time
for Resolution.

I don't like Engelbert Humperdink.

I love the incredible String Band.

The War goes on
& war is Shit.

I'll sing you a December song.

It's 5 below zero in Iowa City tonight.

This year I found a warm room
I could go to
be alone in
& never have to fight.

I didn't live in it.

I thought a lot about dying
But I said fuck it.


So long Jimi,
Janis, so long.

You both were great.
We love you.

But, O, my babies
you did it wrong.


In Joe Brainnard's collage its white arrow
does not point to William Carlos Williams.
He is not in it, the hungry dead doctor.
What is in it is sixteen ripped pictures
Of Marilyn Monroe, her white teeth white-
washed by Joe's throbbing hands. "Today
I am truly horribly upset because Marilyn
Monroe died, so I went to a matinee B-movie
and ate King Korn popcorn," he wrote in his
Diary. The black heart beside the fifteen pieces
of glass in Joe Brainard's collage
takes the eyes away from the gray words
Doctor, but they say, "I love you"
and the sonnet is not dead.


June 1, 2010

and you come to me like a summer breeze

Arthur Dove, Sun, 1943

* Reminder, psychedelic drugs are not for everyone.

* RIP Dennis Hopper -- "Hopper was a wonderful photographer, a collector, and an early supporter of Andy Warhol; he was the first person ever to buy one of Warhol’s soup can paintings, when all 32 paintings were put on sale at the Ferus Gallery in 1962." [via the Dean & Britta email list]

* The Caribbean play the Black Cat this Thursday night June 3 @9pm. 8 bucks. Opening will be Baltimore's Small Sur, a terrific band from Baltimore. Jon Meyers of the vinyl district will DJ before and between sets.

* “The truth, of course, is that a billion falsehoods told a billion times by a billion people are still false.” -- Travis Walton