October 29, 2010

After all is said and done
I did alright, I had my fun
I will walk before they make me run

Joyce McCarten, Innocence Lost

Baseball Canto
-- by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Watching baseball, sitting in the sun, eating popcorn,
reading Ezra Pound,
and wishing that Juan Marichal would hit a hole right through the
Anglo-Saxon tradition in the first Canto
and demolish the barbarian invaders.
When the San Francisco Giants take the field
and everybody stands up for the National Anthem,
with some Irish tenor's voice piped over the loudspeakers,
with all the players struck dead in their places
and the white umpires like Irish cops in their black suits and little
black caps pressed over their hearts,
Standing straight and still like at some funeral of a blarney bartender,
and all facing east,
as if expecting some Great White Hope or the Founding Fathers to
appear on the horizon like 1066 or 1776.
But Willie Mays appears instead,
in the bottom of the first,
and a roar goes up as he clouts the first one into the sun and takes
off, like a footrunner from Thebes.
The ball is lost in the sun and maidens wail after him
as he keeps running through the Anglo-Saxon epic.
And Tito Fuentes comes up looking like a bullfighter
in his tight pants and small pointy shoes.
And the right field bleechers go made with Chicanos and blacks
and Brooklyn beer-drinkers,
"Tito! Sock it to him, sweet Tito!"
And sweet Tito puts his foot in the bucket
and smacks one that don't come back at all,
and flees around the bases
like he's escaping from the United Fruit Company.
As the gringo dollar beats out the pound.
And sweet Tito beats it out like he's beating out usury,
not to mention fascism and anti-semitism.
And Juan Marichal comes up,
and the Chicano bleechers go loco again,
as Juan belts the first ball out of sight,
and rounds first and keeps going
and rounds second and rounds third,
and keeps going and hits paydirt
to the roars of the grungy populace.
As some nut presses the backstage panic button
for the tape-recorded National Anthem again,
to save the situation.

But it don't stop nobody this time,
in their revolution round the loaded white bases,
in this last of the great Anglo-Saxon epics,
in the territorio libre of Baseball.

-- by Vincent Katz

When he looks at
anyone, he sees:
dollars. And she
wasn’t adding up.

Funky floozy
in a sideways suit.
Dank idiocy phonic
lackluster suck.

There’s a price tag,
and also a sense
of importance.
Raw cattle prod.

The Pulitzer-
jerks off.

The Critic
would rather
be watching

October 27, 2010

By the time that I'm through singing
The bells from the schools of walls will be ringing
More confusions, blood transfusions
The news today will be the movies for tomorrow

John F. Peto, In the Library, 1900

-- by Charles Bukowski

one of Lorca's best lines
"agony, always
agony ..."

think of this when you
kill a
cockroach or
pick up a razor to

or awaken in the morning
face the

Your Punishment in Hell
-- by Gary Leising

Someone will douse a cobra in gasoline,
light the sucker, and shove it headfirst
down your throat. It'll speed straight
through your esophagus, unfurl
its hood to fill your stomach
then begin to strike and strike and strike
and strike and strike: fangs pierce
your stomach, venom pours in,
the little burn of incipient ulcers
grows quick, paralysis sets in.
Your lungs stop before your brain,
before your hand, which lifts
to your mouth the plastic-lidded
paper cup holding the caramel
macchiato cappuccino with a double
shot of espresso and frothed soy milk
topped with two shakes of cinnamon
and no, NO (yes, you said no twice)
sugar that was made for you
slowly, while I, already running late,
waited behind you for a simple,
already-made black coffee.
You will lose all motion before
that drink reaches your mouth,
but you recover and the drink,
strangely, has vanished, and barrista
and cobra-douser-slash-lighter do it all again
and again. I know this because,
for my angry impatience,
I am behind you in line in hell
forever, the pot of black coffee
behind the counter steaming,
turning, I know, bitter.

-- by Ronald Wallace

Just once, you say,
you'd like to see
an obituary in which
the deceased didn't succumb
after "a heroic struggle" with cancer,
or heart disease, or Alzheimer's, or
whatever it was
that finally took him down.
Just once, you say,
couldn't the obit read:
He got sick and quit.
He gave up the ghost.
He put up no fight at all.
Rolled over. Bailed out.
Got out while the getting was good.
Excused himself from life's feast.

You're making a joke and
I laugh, though you can't know
I'm considering exactly that:
no radical prostatectomy for me,
no matter what General Practitioner
and Major Oncologist may say.
I think, let that walnut-sized
pipsqueak have its way with me,
that pebble in cancer's slingshot
that brings dim Goliath down.
So, old friend, before I go
and take all the wide world with me,
I want you to know
I picked up the tip.
I skipped the main course,
I'm here in the punch line.
Old friend, the joke's on me.

October 25, 2010

That's what I sell
I sell fucking fun

Eleanor Antin, 100 Boots Aces High, San Diego, California, June 13, 1972, 10:40 AM, 1972

* From Harper's November 2010:

-- Number of English-language schools operated by the Walt Disney Company in China: 15

-- Number of women who served on the boards of major corporations last year in Japan and Kuwait, respectively: 15, 30

-- Net domestic profits earned by U.S. corporations since the fourth quarter of 2008: $609,000,000,000

-- Net decrease since then in the amount these companies spent on wages and benefits: $-171,000,000,000

-- Percentage of American corporations whose stock is currently rated as a "buy," according to Bloomberg: 29

* Marijuana, the big picture.

* "We never stop reading, although every book comes to an end, just as we never stop living, although death is certain." -- Roberto Bolano

October 22, 2010

If you feel you're not good enough then you're probably not

Barry Nemett, Couple, 1971

Clarence Thomas
-- by Klipschutz


Remember the photograph of him
and his wife in People magazine
after his by-a-whisker confirmation,
in their living room of an evening
like any other, reading the Bible on the couch?

Eighteen years later, the Poster Dude
for Affirmative Action gave a speech
to tell us we are self-indulgent
and don’t make the sacrifices
our parents and grandparents did.

After the speech, in response to a question,
Mr. T. named Lincoln as his favorite POTUS,
but chose not to reveal his favorite color.

He must be doing something right—lifetime job security.
You won’t find that position on Craig’s List!


Yes, Virginia, this is not a dream, your life,
you are the wife of a Supreme Court Justice,
and are entitled to trumpet your beliefs,
call for an end to the “tyranny” of Obama,
along with your fellow Tea Party lunatics.

No one can stop you from leaving messages
for Anita Hill asking that she come clean
about your husband an eternity ago.
The pubic hair, the Coke, the high-tech lynching.
You go, Ginni Thomas, sing your song.

-March 16, 2009/October 19, 2010

- Article re: Anita Hill’s character and veracity

* New Chain and the Gang song, Not Good Enough, check it out!

October 20, 2010

What is not but could be if

Elouise Schoettler, Mirror Mirror

The Trouble with Our State
-- by Father Daniel Berrigan

The trouble with our state
was not civil disobedience
which in any case was hesitant and rare

Civil disobedience was rare as kidney stone
No, rarer; it was disappearing like immigrants' disease

You've heard of a war on cancer?
There is no war like the plague of media
There is no war like routine
There is no war like 3 square meals
There is no war like a prevailing wind

It blows softly; whispers
don't rock the boat!
The sails obey, the ship of state rolls on
The trouble with out state
-- we learned it only afterward
when the dead resembled the living who resembled the dead
and civil virtue shone like paint on tin
and tin citizens and tin soldiers marched to the common whip

-- Our trouble
the trouble with our state
with our state of soul
our state of seige--

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.

-- by Franz Wright

There are a few things I will miss,
a girl with no shirt on
lighting a cigarette

and brushing her hair in the mirror;
the sound of a mailbox
opening, somewhere,

and closing at two in the morning
of the first snow,
and the words for them.

October 18, 2010

When's a crime forgiven by them
You can never live again
I can only advise to another
Never, o never forsake your brother

Kim Anno, Liminal, 2006

* From a 1962 Playboy interview of Miles Davis:

PLAYBOY: Linked with your musical renown is your reputation for bad temper and rudeness to your audiences. Would you comment?

DAVIS: Why is it that people just have to have so much to say about me? It bugs me because I'm not that important. Some critic that didn't have nothing else to do started this crap about I don't announce numbers, I don't look at the audience, I don't bow or talk to people, I walk off the stage, and all that.

Look, man, all I am is a trumpet player. I only can do one thing -- play my horn -- and that's what's at the bottom of the whole mess. I ain't no entertainer, and ain't trying to be one. I am one thing, a musician. Most of what's said about me is lies in the first place. Everything I do, I got a reason.

The reason I don't announce numbers is because it's not until the last instant I decide what's maybe the best thing to play next. Besides, if people don't recognize a number when we play it, what difference does it make?

Why I sometimes walk off the stand is because when it's somebody else's turn to solo, I ain't going to just stand up there and be detracting from him. What am I going to stand up there for? I ain't no model, and I don't sing or dance, and I damn sure ain't no Uncle Tom just to be up there grinning. Sometimes I go over by the piano or the drums and listen to what they're doing. But if I don't want to do that, I go in the wings and listen to the whole band until it's the next turn for my horn.

Then they claim I ignore the audience while I'm playing. Man, when I'm working, I know the people are out there. But when I'm playing, I'm worrying about making my horn sound right.

And they bitch that I won't talk to people when we go off after a set. That's a damn lie. I talk plenty of times if everything's going like it ought to and I feel right. But if I got my mind on something about my band or something else, well, hell, no, I don't want to talk. When I'm working I'm concentrating. I bet you if I was a doctor sewing on some son of a bitch's heart, they wouldn't want me to talk.

Anybody wants to believe all this crap they hear about me, it's their problem, not mine. Because, look, man, I like people. I love people! I'm not going around telling everybody that. I try to say that my way -- with my horn. Look, when I was a boy, 10 years old, I got a paper route and it got bigger than I could handle because my customers liked me so much. I just delivered papers the best I could and minded my business, the same way I play my horn now. But a lot of the people I meet now make me sick.

* "Loafing is the most productive part of a writer's life." -- James Norman Hall

October 15, 2010

It is the evening of the day
I sit and watch the children play
Doin' things I used to do
They think are new

Erin Shafkind, Jeppa's Belly National Park, 2010

Waking at Night
-- Jack Gilbert

The blue river is gray at morning
and evening. There is twilight
at dawn and dusk. I lie in the dark
wondering if this quiet in me now
is a beginning or an end.

The Beautiful American Word, Sure
-- by Delmore Schwartz

The beautiful American word, Sure
As I have come into a room, and touch
The lamp's button, and the light blooms with such
Certainty where the darkness loomed before,

As I care for what I do not know, and care
Knowing for little she might not have been,
And for how little she would be unseen,
The intercourse of lives miraculous and dear.

Where the light is, and each thing clear,
Separate from all others, standing in its place,
I drink the time and touch whatever's near,

And hope for day when the whole world has that face:
For what assures her present every year?
In dark accidents the mind's sufficient grace.

Last Call
-- by Kim Addonizio

It's the hour when everyone's drunk
and the bar turns marvelous, music
swirling over the red booths,
smoke rising from neglected cigarettes as in each glass
ice slides into other ice, dissolving;
it's when one stranger nudges another
and says, staring at the blurred rows of pour spouts,
I hear they banned dwarf tossing in France,
and the second man nods
and lays his head on the bar's slick surface,
not caring if he dies there, wanting, in fact, to die there
among the good friends he's just met, his cheek
in a wet pool of spilled beer.
It's when the woman in the corner gets up
and wobbles to the middle of the room,
leaving her blouse draped over a stool. Someone is buying
the house a final round, the cabs are being summoned,
and the gods that try to save us from ourselves
are taking us by the neck, gently,
and dropping us into the night, it's the hour
of the blind, and the dead, of lost loves
who come to claim you, finally, holding open
the swinging door, repeating over and over
a name that must be yours.

October 14, 2010

The snow packs as the skier tracks
And people forget
Forget they're hiding

Markus Veter, Together We Can Defeat Capitalism, 2006

* From Stoner by John Williams:

“He had come to that moment in his age when there occurred to him, with increasing intensity, a question of such overwhelming simplicity that he had no means to face it. He found himself wondering if his life were worth the living; if it had ever been. It was a question, he suspected, that came to all men at one time or another; he wondered if it came to them with such impersonal force as it came to him. The question brought with it a sadness, but it was a general sadness which (he thought) had little to do with himself or with his particular fate; he was not even sure that the question sprang from the most immediate and obvious causes, from what his own life had become. It came, he believed, from the accretion of his years, from the density of accident and circumstance, and from what he had come to understand of them. He took a grim and ironic pleasure from the possibility that what little learning he had managed to acquire had led him to this knowledge: that in the long run all things, even the learning that let him know this, were futile and empty, and at last diminished into a nothingness they did not alter.

“Once, late after his evening class, he returned to his office and sat at his desk, trying to read. It was winter, and a snow had fallen during the day, so that the out-of-doors was covered with a white softness. The office was overheated; he opened a window beside the desk so that the cool air might come into the close room. He breathed deeply, and let his eyes wander over the white floor of the campus. On an impulse he switched out the light on his desk and sat in the hot darkness of his office; the cold air filled his lungs, and he leaned toward the open window. He heard the silence of the winter night, and it seemed to him that he somehow felt the sounds that were absorbed by the delicately and intricately cellular being of the snow. Nothing moved upon the whiteness; it was a dead scene, which seemed to pull at him, to suck at his consciousness just as it pulled the sound from the air and buried it within a cold white softness. He felt himself pulled outward toward the whiteness, which spread as far as he could see, and which was a part of the darkness from which it glowed, of the clear and cloudless sky without height or depth. For an instant he felt himself go out of the body that sat motionless before the window; and as he felt himself slip away, everything-the flat whiteness, the trees, the tall columns, the night, the far stars-seemed incredibly tiny and far away, as if they were dwindling to a nothingness. Then, behind him, a radiator clanked. He moved, and the scene became itself. With a curiously reluctant relief he again snapped on his desk lamp. He gathered a book and a few papers, went out of the office, walked through the darkened corridors and let himself out of the wide double doors at the back of Jesse Hall. He walked slowly home, aware of each footstep crunching with muffled loudness in the dry snow.

“During that year, and especially in the winter months, he found himself returning more and more frequently to such a state of unreality; at will he seemed to be able to remove his consciousness from the body that contained it, and he observed himself as if he were an oddly familiar stranger doing the oddly familiar things that he had to do. It was a dissociation that he had never felt before; he knew that he ought to be troubled by it, but he was numb, and he could not convince himself that it mattered. He was forty-two years old, and he could see nothing before him that he wished to enjoy and little behind him he cared to remember.”

* "Habit is what destroys art." - – Jim Harrison

October 13, 2010

When I stand, my back to the sea
A big white cloud, looking right down on me
Sound of sun, missing my eyes
Everything's clear, everything's bright

Jane Tam, untitled, 2007

Bionic Hearing
-- by Deborah Ager

I hear your voice in Hyderabad.
I hear particles shift in a butterfly’s wake;
the particles change to dirt clouds
that gather more particles and turn to storms
that turn to a microburst that splits your shed,
so you search the streets for your gardening tools.
I hear the lightning before it hops through
a window, and I hear you want to leave me
and I hear the sirens come for my neighbor
and I hear morose notes through a composer’s window
until they’re downed by a screaming train.
I hear the holy bells of St. Andrews calling for services.
The tolling wakes the dead, and I hear the dead
complain it’s too hot and I stuff earplugs into my ears
and I hear how much noise my body makes,
vibrating against my bones. I hear when no one speaks.

Common Ground
-- by Paul J. Willis

Today I dug an orange tree out of the damp, black earth.
My grandfather bought a grove near Anaheim
at just my age. Like me, he didn't know much.
"How'd you learn to grow oranges, Bill?"
friends said. "Well," he said, "I look at what

my neighbor does, and I just do the opposite."
Up in Oregon, he and his brother discovered
the Williamette River. They were both asleep
on the front of the wagon, the horses stopped,
his brother woke up. "Will," he said, "am it a river?"

My grandfather, he cooked for the army during the war,
the first one. He flipped the pancakes up the chimney,
they came right back through the window onto the griddle.
In the Depression he worked in a laundry during the night,
struck it rich in pocketknives. My grandfather,

he liked to smoke in his orange grove, as far away on the property
as he could get from my grandmother,
who didn't approve of life in general, him in particular.
Smoking gave him something to feel disapproved for,
set the world back to rights. Like everyone else,

my grandfather sold his grove to make room
for Disneyland. He laughed all the way to the bank,
bought in town, lived to see his grandsons born
and died of cancer before anyone wanted him to, absent
now in the rootless presence of damp, black earth.

For Sylvia and for cheeseburgers
-- Ted Theodore Hughes

When I heard you killed your-
Self, my first thought was

I gotta burn those journals
of hers! They make me look

Like a fucking creep! And then
I got a cheeseburger! Yum.

Sylvia, you will always be a
Better poet than me, and I'll

Always vaguely cash in on the
Fame of your suicide. But

Not you're dead. So you'll never
Get to be Poet Laureate.

Which is too bad because you
Would have been a hot one.

I am going to cheat on
My new wife now. And write

Fox poems for the next 50 years.
Have you seen my brown shoes?

I guess I will never find them now.

October 12, 2010

As we go up we go down

Rafal Karcz, 1970, 2008

* From an interview of Franz Wright:

The influence of music on me personally and I hope very much on my writing has been incalculable. That is one incredibly fortunate thing about my upbringing, which, as I think I have hinted, was mostly a botched improvisation on my part, as my parents were too busy being lunatics to be of much practical assistance. However, they did love me, and that is something. Anyway, one wonderful thing was the constant presence of classical music in the house, as my father spent almost as much time listening to it and forcing me to listen to it as he did reciting Shakespeare and forcing me, thank God, to listen to it, until he departed when I was six or seven.

I loved music, have always loved and physically hungered for music, of every kind. As a child I used to mentally improvise classical music in my mind to fall asleep—it never occurred to me that this might not be a normal activity, and at four I was playing little Mozart pieces and so forth on the piano, and studied classical and jazz trumpet between ages 10 and 15, when I gave it and everything else up for poetry. The Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan when I was in fourth grade in San Francisco, and from the first note of that weirdly joyous music I burst into tears and—like every other child in the country—was never the same again. I attended high school between 1967 and 1971 and lived in northern California. I was at Altamont, along with just about every other teenager in the Bay Area at the time. As a teenager, I was of course heavily under the influence of the astonishing range of very great young rock musicians and composers of the time, and remember going to hear Neil Young at Winterland Ballroom a lot, as well as the free concerts the Grateful Dead put on in Golden Gate Park. As an adult I developed a love of every conceivable form of music. There is no genre I am not interested in, and lately it is a lot of sacred music, Bach to Bruckner to Bill Evans to Arvo Pärt. But I listen to and am quite knowledgeable about jazz, and there is still rock and roll. I love Paul Westerberg and would very much like to have a talk with him (we have mutual friends, but have never met). I love West African music. At this moment I am listening to Salif Keita.

* Recording of someone scanning NYC radio the night John Lennon died.

* "Fiction is experimentation. When it ceases to be that, it ceases to be fiction." -- John Cheever

October 5, 2010

If you had such a dream
Would you get up and do the things you believe in?

Matt Clark, Past Presentation, 2009

The Manger of Incidentals
-- by Jack Gilbert

We are surrounded by the absurd excess of the universe.
By meaningless bulk, vastness without size,
power without consequence. The stubborn iteration
that is present without being felt.
Nothing the spirit can marry. Merely phenomenon
and its physics. An endless, endless of going on.
No habitat where the brain can recognize itself.
No pertinence for the heart. Helpless duplication.
The horror of none of it being alive.
No red squirrels, no flowers, not even weed.
Nothing that knows what season it is.
The stars uninflected by awareness.
Miming without implication. We alone see the iris
in front of the cabin reach its perfection
and quickly perish. The lamb is born into happiness
and is eaten for Easter. We are blessed
with powerful love and it goes away. We can mourn.
We live the strangeness of being momentary,
and still we are exalted by being temporary.
The grand Italy of meanwhile. It is the fact of being brief,
being small and slight that is the source of our beauty.
We are a singularity that makes music out of noise
because we must hurry. We make a harvest of loneliness
and desiring in the blank wasteland of the cosmos.

-- by Dennis Mahagin

In my sweetest dream,
you are tattooing my trussed white ass
as flour-dusted pizza dough on a heart-shaped cutting board,
while your twin sister stands under the birthday pinata pony
lactating Milk Duds, Red Hots and Candy Corn--
the pony, lactating, that is, not your
sister, and then you softly whisper:

"Aren't you forgetting something mister?"--
pushing the bolus button at the base of my testicles
like a toaster lever, ‘till that prodigious penis it

pops right up,
and Sis is able to toss her lime green hula hoop
as a horseshoe bulls eye smack dab on the pulsating
purple head, while clapping out the funky rhythm
for first verse of Mickey the cheerleader song.

I've told you already
about the eye patch and permanent
palm prints on my pasty forehead, that came from playing
Patty Cake and Rock-Paper-Scissors with a paranoid
schizophrenic Three Stooges fan in Washington Park;

I let you know about our previous life together
as Appalachian flower children riding astral planes
made from my magic carpet tongue sparks
flogging your flint rock nipples.

I've given you the password to my heart
in all its anagrammatic permutations; but you seem
to insist this is nothing but a start; so herewith, at
last comes the story of my first puppy--
an Airedale named Chipper

who could jump
five feet into the air
to kiss my cheek, and then spin
and spin, like Brian Boitano,
all the way back down
to the ground.

October 3, 2010

like a rabbit freezing on a star

David Salle, We Back Them Up, 2003

* Hunter S. Thompson's "application" to the Vancouver Sun:

To Jack Scott,

October 1, 1958
57 Perry Street New York City


I got a hell of a kick reading the piece Time magazine did this week on The Sun. In addition to wishing you the best of luck, I'd also like to offer my services.

Since I haven't seen a copy of the "new" Sun yet, I'll have to make this a tentative offer. I stepped into a dung-hole the last time I took a job with a paper I didn't know anything about (see enclosed clippings) and I'm not quite ready to go charging up another blind alley. By the time you get this letter, I'll have gotten hold of some of the recent issues of The Sun. Unless it looks totally worthless, I'll let my offer stand.

And don't think that my arrogance is unintentional: it's just that I'd rather offend you now than after I started working for you. I didn't make myself clear to the last man I worked for until after I took the job. It was as if the Marquis de Sade had suddenly found himself working for Billy Graham. The man despised me, of course, and I had nothing but contempt for him and everything he stood for. If you asked him, he'd tell you that I'm "not very likable, (that I) hate people, (that I) just want to be left alone, and (that I) feel too superior to mingle with the average person." (That's a direct quote from a memo he sent to the publisher.) Nothing beats having good references.

Of course if you asked some of the other people I've worked for, you'd get a different set of answers. If you're interested enough to answer this letter, I'll be glad to furnish you with a list of references -- including the lad I work for now.

The enclosed clippings should give you a rough idea of who I am. It's a year old, however, and I've changed a bit since it was written. I've taken some writing courses from Columbia in my spare time, learned a hell of a lot about the newspaper business, and developed a healthy contempt for journalism as a profession. As far as I'm concerned, it's a damned shame that a field as potentially dynamic and vital as journalism should be overrun with dullards, bums, and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy, and complacence, and generally stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity. If this is what you're trying to get The Sun away from, then I think I'd like to work for you.

Most of my experience has been in sports writing, but I can write everything from warmongering propaganda to learned book reviews. I can work 25 hours a day if necessary, live on any reasonable salary, and don't give a black damn for job security, office politics, or adverse public relations. I would rather be on the dole than work for a paper I was ashamed of.

It's a long way from here to British Columbia, but I think I'd enjoy the trip. If you think you can use me, drop me a line. If not, good luck anyway.


Hunter S. Thompson

* "What the world really needs is more love and less paper work." -- Pearl Bailey