December 22, 2010

like a bird on a wire
I have tried in my way to be free

Tal R, Riders from the Sky, 2000

Sad Advice
-- by Robert Creeley

If it isn't fun, don't do it.
You'll have to do enough that isn't.

Such is life, like they say,
no one gets away without paying

and since you don't get to keep it
anyhow, who needs it.

To Whom It May Concern
-- by J.V. Cunningham

After so many decades of ... of what?
I have a permanent sabbatical.
I pass my time on actuarial time.
Listen to music, and going to bed
Leave something at the bottom of the glass,
A little wastefulness to end the day.

-- back in 2011

December 20, 2010

The dust blows forward
and the dust blows back

Don Van Vliet (RIP), Fur On The Trellis and Just Up Into The Air, 1985

* From Harper's January 2011:

-- Number of offshore oil and gas leases approved by the federal government since 2005: 4,603

-- Number of offshore wind projects approved since then: 1

-- Estimated price paid by panhandlers in Johannesburg to rent a baby for the day: $3

-- Tons of marijuana the Mexican government burned in October following a major seizure: 148

-- Estimated number of joints that could have been rolled with this much of the drug: 268,000,000

* Palace Songs: Christmastime in the Mountains.

* "Genre is a bookstore problem, not a literary problem." -- Rick Moody

December 15, 2010

I needed an anchor
Safety and light

Catherine Opie, Ice House, 2001

One in the Afternoon
-- by Franz Wright

Unemployed, you take a walk.
At an empty intersection
you stop to look both ways as you were taught.
An old delusion coming over you.
The wind blows through the leaves.

Chapter Heading
-- by Ernest Hemingway

For we have thought the longer thoughts
And gone the shorter way.
And we have danced to devils’ tunes,
Shivering home to pray;
To serve one master in the night,
Another in the day.

Night Thought
-- by Bill Knott

Compared to one's normal clothes, pajamas
are just as caricature as the dreams
they bare: farce-skins, facades, unserious
soft versions of the mode diem, they seem
to have come from a posthumousness;
floppy statues of ourselves, slack seams
of death. Their form mimics the decay
that will fit us so comfortably someday.

December 13, 2010

slay the beast
and win the cup

Michel Rovner, Untitled, 1990

* How Music Works.

* And a nation turns its lonely eyes on nude Joe DiMaggio.

* "In some ways, art is the most terrifying of human inventions. It preserves the right to undermine all the categories." -- Richard Powers

December 10, 2010

It's Christmas time in the mountains
Everything is white tonight

Cara Ober, Time is the Guide, 2009

Three Poems by Hal Sirowitz:

Seen You Around

Each time I've come to this bar,
she said, I've seen you here.
You look like you come here often.
You must be having trouble finding
a steady girlfriend. I hope you
don't think I'm being critical.
I can't find a partner either.
I go to different bars, so it isn't as obvious.

We Try Harder

While I was getting a drink at the bar
a half hour ago I saw you deciding,
she said, whether you should talk to me,
I tried making your decision easier
by smiling at you, but you started
talking to someone else. I'm
your second choice. Just like
Avis has to try harder than Hertz,
I have to try to outshine the other women.
Knowing you picked her over me
makes me want to tell you
to just go back to square one.

Not a Cause of Death

No one died from lack of sex,
she said. So you're not going
to die if I don't sleep with you
tonight. I know I said I would,
but I said that when I was in
a different mood. I'm not
always in control of my moods,
just like you're not in control
of when you can do it.

December 9, 2010

With no window in sight, nothings right
But color television as a reading light

Christa Parravani, Kiss, 2003

* Jeffrey Toobin on the 10 year anniversary of Bush v. Gore:

Momentous Supreme Court cases tend to move quickly into the slipstream of the Court’s history. In the first ten years after Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 decision that ended the doctrine of separate but equal in public education, the Justices cited the case more than twenty-five times. In the ten years after Roe v. Wade, the abortion-rights decision of 1973, there were more than sixty-five references to that landmark. This month marks ten years since the Court, by a vote of five-to-four, terminated the election of 2000 and delivered the Presidency to George W. Bush. Over that decade, the Justices have provided a verdict of sorts on Bush v. Gore by the number of times they have cited it: zero
What made the decision in Bush v. Gore so startling was that it was the work of Justices who were considered, to greater or lesser extents, judicial conservatives. On many occasions, these Justices had said that they believed in the preëminence of states’ rights, in a narrow conception of the equal-protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and, above all, in judicial restraint. Bush v. Gore violated those principles. The Supreme Court stepped into the case even though the Florida Supreme Court had been interpreting Florida law; the majority found a violation of the rights of George W. Bush, a white man, to equal protection when these same Justices were becoming ever more stingy in finding violations of the rights of African-Americans; and the Court stopped the recount even before it was completed, and before the Florida courts had a chance to iron out any problems—a classic example of judicial activism, not judicial restraint, by the majority.

Bush v. Gore would resonate, in any case, because the Court prevented Florida from determining, as best it could, whether Gore or Bush really won. (Recounts of the ballots by media organizations produced ambiguous results; they suggest that Gore would have won a full statewide recount and Bush would have won the limited recount initially sought by the Gore forces.) But the case also represents a revealing prologue to what the Supreme Court has since become. As in Bush v. Gore, nominally conservative Justices no longer operate by the rules of traditional judicial conservatism.

* The Caribbean's upcoming album, Discontinued Perfume, finally gets an official release date: February 22, 2011. Until then listen to Mr. Let's Find Out.

* "It is difficult in life to be good, and difficult in art to portray goodness. Perhaps we don't know much about goodness." -- Iris Murdoch

December 8, 2010

the only thing I'd change would be the ending

Sarah Small

Dear Reader
-- by Kim Addonizio

Tonight I am amazed by all the people making love
while I sit alone in my pajamas in a foreign country
with my dinner of cookies and vodka. And I am amazed
that my own country still exists, though I am not in it
to speak its language or break its drug laws. How astonishing

to realize that I am not the glass being shattered
on the street below, or the laughter that follows it;
I'm not even one of the congregation on my small TV,
getting the Lord's good news, though I can reach
the screen by leaning forward, and touch

the wavering line of each transfigured face. I tell you
I can't get over it sometimes, I still have trouble
believing that an egg deep inside my own body
went and turned into someone else, who right now
is on a tour boat on the river, having forgotten

how she used to hold on to my legs whenever I tried
to leave the room. Right now, somewhere I am not,
the history of the world is being decided,
and the terrible things I'd rather not think of
go on and on without stopping, while I separate

the two halves of another cookie and lick
the creem filling, and pour myself one more
and drink to you, dear reader, amazed
that you are somewhere in the world without me,
listening, trying to hold me in your hands.

The Beautiful Poem
-- Richard Brautigan

I go to bed in Los Angeles thinking
about you.

Pissing a few moments ago
I looked down at my penis

Knowing it has been inside
you twice today makes me
feel beautiful.

(3 am, January 15, 1967)

After We Saw What There Was to See
-- by Lawrence Raab

After we saw what there was to see
we went off to buy souvenirs, and my father
waited by the car and smoked. He didn't need
a lot of things to remind him where he'd been.
Why do you want so much stuff?
he might have asked us. "Oh, Ed," I can hear
my mother saying, as if that took care of it.

After she died I don't think he felt any reason
to go back through all those postcards, not to mention
the glossy booklets about the Singing Tower
and the Alligator Farm, the painted ashtrays
and lucite paperweights, everything we carried home
and found a place for, then put away
in boxes, then shoved far back in our closets.

He'd always let my mother keep track of the past,
and when she was gone—why should that change?
Why did I want him to need what he'd never needed?
I can see him leaning against our yellow Chrysler
in some parking lot in Florida or Maine.
It's a beautiful cloudless day. He glances at his watch,
lights another cigarette, looks up at the sky.

December 4, 2010

the automobile is a wheelchair

December 1, 2010

what a beautiful thing that can flash on a screen and be gone

Alexa Meade, Transit, 2010

The Love Cook
-- by Ron Padgett

Let me cook you some dinner.
Sit down and take off your shoes
and socks and in fact the rest
of your clothes, have a daquiri,
turn on some music and dance
around the house, inside and out,
it’s night and the neighbors
are sleeping, those dolts, and
the stars are shining bright,
and I’ve got the burners lit
for you, you hungry thing.

Flying at Night
-- by Ted Kooser

Above us, stars. Beneath us, constellations.
Five billion miles away, a galaxy dies
like a snowflake falling on water. Below us,
some farmer, feeling the chill of that distant death,
snaps on his yard light, drawing his sheds and barn
back into the little system of his care.
All night, the cities, like shimmering novas,
tug with bright streets at lonely lights like his.

Christmas Tree Lots
-- by Chris Green

Christmas trees lined like war refugees,
a fallen army made to stand in their greens.
Cut down at the foot, on their last leg,

they pull themselves up, arms raised.
We drop them like wood;
tied, they are driven through the streets,

dragged through the door, cornered
in a room, given a single blanket,
only water to drink, surrounded by joy.

Forced to wear a gaudy gold star,
to surrender their pride,
they do their best to look alive.