May 31, 2012

it only happened because I couldn't stop drinking
it only happened because I couldn't drink more

Jenny Holzer, Survival Series Silver Stickers, (1983-1985) [via]

in this cage some songs are born
-- by Charles Bukowski

I write poetry, worry, smile,
continue for a while
just like most of us
just like all of us;
sometimes I want to hug all
Mankind on earth
and say,
god damn all this that they've brought down
upon us,
we are brave and good
even though we are selfish
and kill each other and
kill ourselves,
we are the people
born to kill and die and weep in dark rooms
and love in dark rooms,
and wait, and
wait and wait and wait.
we are the people.
we are nothing

Not a Cause of Death
-- by Hal Sirowitz

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.

Sudden Opera
-- by Frank Stanford

In Arkansas the liquor costs
The wind lifts a finger
And that is all

You look over your shoulder
When you have a chance
Your bottle is empty

If I could go somewhere
I would go where the music doesn't have knuckles
And the dancers don't wear boots

I'll never leave here
The creeks are so cold and solo

My tie-rack is a convent
The pool hall is closed

May 29, 2012

Some people want an endless line that's true
But all I have is a little time with you

Xylor Jane, Nox Rex #23 (Fiver), 2012

* From Harper's June 2012:

-- Number of inmates in federal prison for drug convictions, per 100,000 U.S. adults, in 1987: 6.8

-- In 2011: 38.7

-- Percentage change in the past twenty-five years in the net worth of Americans sixty-five and older: +42

-- Of Americans thirty-five and younger: - 68

* Read Richard Yates' Uncertain Times, about his time as a speechwriter fro Bobby Kennedy.

* "You may delay,but time will not,and lost time is never found again." -- Ben Franklin

May 23, 2012

Tonight I'm swimming to my favorite island

Yoichi Tamaki, untitled, 2002

Three poems by Klipschutz:

I’m so glad I don’t have a blog
or it would be full of useless shite like this:

I hate libertarians

they’re all hypocrites

who don’t even agree

with each other

Oh, I see, you don’t

want people to

interfere with you

Stop reading

nutrition labels

and expiration dates

or belly up and join the human race


[Stay tuned: Next I’ll eviscerate

scofflaws who don’t recycle]

Dictated But Not Read
By Nicanor Parra

“Infallibility is no joke.
Ask the Pope.

He doesn’t mess around.
Make that fuck.

We have this much in common
and that’s no bull:

Ideas I have in the shower
are never wrong.”

Probation, Probation, Probation

Rights! Karma! Faction!
Metaphysical Therapy!
E.U., E.U., will you demarry me?

May 19, 2012

the pleasure seems to balance out the pain

happy birthday Pete

Quick One Before I Go
-- by David Lehman

There comes a time in every man's life
when he thinks: I have never had a single
original thought in my life
including this one & therefore I shall
eliminate all ideas from my poems
which shall consist of cats, rice, rain
baseball cards, fire escapes, hanging plants
red brick houses where I shall give up booze
and organized religion even if it means
despair is a logical possibility that can't
be disproved I shall concentrate on the five
senses and what they half perceive and half
create, the green street signs with white
letters on them the body next to mine
asleep while I think these thoughts
that I want to eliminate like nostalgia
0 was there ever a man who felt as I do
like a pronoun out of step with all the other
floating signifiers no things but in words
an orange T-shirt a lime green awning

May 18, 2012

We Are Real

David Berman, Technology, 2006

The Mutes
-- by Denise Levertov

Those groans men use
passing a woman on the street
or on the steps of the subway

to tell her she is a female
and their flesh knows it,

are they a sort of tune,
an ugly enough song, sung
by a bird with a slit tongue

but meant for music?

Or are they the muffled roaring
of deafmutes trapped in a building that is
slowly filling with smoke?

Perhaps both.

Such men most often
look as if groan were all they could do,
yet a woman, in spite of herself,

knows it's a tribute:
if she were lacking all grace
they'd pass her in silence:

so it's not only to say she's
a warm hole. It's a word

in grief-language, nothing to do with
primitive, not an ur-language;
language stricken, sickened, cast down

in decrepitude. She wants to
throw the tribute away, dis-
gusted, and can't,

it goes on buzzing in her ear,
it changes the pace of her walk,
the torn posters in echoing corridors

spell it out, it
quakes and gnashes as the train comes in.
Her pulse sullenly

had picked up speed,
but the cars slow down and
jar to a stop while her understanding

keeps on translating:
'Life after life after life goes by

without poetry,
without seemliness,
without love.'

-- By Kim Addonizio

For a while Rita works
at a massage parlor on Eddy Street
All she has to do is jerk them off, no
fucking or kissing.
She washes her hands seven,
eight times a day. Dreams
of scrubbing off skin,
red strips of it falling
into a sinkfull of suds.
She buries what's left
of her hands in the white
froth, piled like new snow
she would scoop out
as a child to make
a man.

-- by Harvey Shapiro

Drunk and weeping. It’s another night
at the live-in opera, and I figure
it’s going to turn out badly for me.
The dead next door accept their salutations,
their salted notes, the drawn-out wailing.
It’s we the living who must run for cover,
meaning me. Mortality’s the ABC of it,
and after that comes lechery and lying.
And, oh, how to piece together a life
from this scandal and confusion, as if
the gods were inhabiting us, or cohabiting
with us, just for the music’s sake.

May 15, 2012

The city clown will soon fall down
Without a face to hide in
And he will lose if he won’t choose
The one he may confide in

Mary Ellen Carroll, Federal (detail), 2003

* David Markson on Malcolm Lowry's alcoholism:

The man could not shave himself. In lieu of a belt, he knotted a rope or a discarded necktie around his waist. Mornings, he needed two or three ounces of gin in his orange juice if he was to steady his hand to eat the breakfast that would very likely prove his only meal of the day. Thereafter a diminishing yellow tint in the glass might belie the fact that now he was drinking the gin neat, which he did for as many hours as it took him to. Ultimately he would collapse — sometimes sensible enough of his condition to lurch toward a bed, though more often he would crash down into a chair, and once it was across my phonograph.

* Paste Magazine lists its top 70 albums of the 1970s.

* "I can't write without a reader. It's precisely like a kiss - you can't do it alone." -- John Cheever

May 9, 2012

Pursue the small utopias: music, friendship, intimate love

Kevin Tachman, Colombo Market, 2008

Drinking Like a Fish
-- by William Greenway

Though blue at a distance,
the surface is clear
as gin with a tension
that can bob you like
an ice cube. What
you really want, though,
is to float below
in chartreuse light,
to glide through tonic bubbles
above the swaying kelp,
borne along on currents, while
your heavy body, stranded
on land, still stumbles
and gasps. This
is your true element,
where predators
ignore the pinstripe
of the inedible.
You're even
a Pisces.

Deeper and deeper
you go, to the bottom,
fin silt that swirls
like bourbon in branch water
to darken the gloom
where things with gelatin
wings glow blue
as a gas flame.
And this is where
you want to live
forever—to grow so
transparent, so fragile,
even the weight of the sea
cannot crush you.

Round About Midnight
-- by Bob Kaufman

Jazz radio on a midnight kick,
Round about Midnight.
Sitting on the bed,
With a jazz type chick
Round about Midnight,
Piano laughter, in my ears,
Round about Midnight.
Stirring up laughter, dying tears,
Round about Midnight.
Soft blue voices, muted grins,
Excited voices, Father's sins,
Round about Midnight.
Come on baby, take off your clothes,
Round about Midnight.

How to Listen
-- by Major Jackson

I am going to cock my head tonight like a dog
in front of McGlinchy's Tavern on Locust;
I am going to stand beside the man who works all day combing
his thatch of gray hair corkscrewed in every direction.
I am going to pay attention to our lives
unraveling between the forks of his fine-tooth comb.
For once, we won't talk about the end of the world
or Vietnam or his exquisite paper shoes.
For once, I am going to ignore the profanity and
the dancing and the jukebox so I can hear his head crackle
beneath the sky's stretch of faint stars.

May 7, 2012

There's a portrait
In a back room
Which I keep for days upon

Carrie Schneider, Burning House (July, sunset), 2011

* Listen: Ed Sanders on NPR.

* Listen: Amazing collection of Bukowski readings.

* "What's any artist but the dregs of his work?" -- William Gaddis

May 4, 2012

the things that pass for knowledge I can't understand

Josef Albers, Homage to the Square, 1967

* On Big Star's Third:

Third is an album of soft moonlight and deep black holes. It's the sound of confusion and dislocation. It's an album that sounds as if it was being demolished even as it was being recorded, where a heartstoppingly beautiful melody might at any moment be washed away by a scree of white noise. It's an album where Chilton, the record's creator, might one minute be singing about a "wasted face … a sad-eyed lie … a holocaust" and the next be thanking his friends – "wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you". The guiding principle behind its recording, all its surviving personnel agree, was chaos, and the guiding theme behind its songs was disintegration – of Chilton's personal life, of his career, of his music.
Chilton's maverick spirit, and presence in New York, made him an attractive elder statesman to the punk scene, and began the rehabilitation of Big Star. He returned to Memphis, bringing the Cramps with him to produce an EP and LP for them. He recorded a solo album, Like Flies on Sherbert, whose derangement makes Third seem sedate – "That's a descent into madness, for sure," says Pat Rainer, who engineered it – and helped form the bizarro rockabilly-punk outfit Tav Falco's Panther Burns. Chilton's name cropping up on the sleeves of these hip records made him a contemporary figure again, and spurred interest in his past. "It's the auteur theory, right?" Robert Gordon says. "We get interested in the artist's lives. Alex is an example of, and he defies, the auteur theory. You certainly wouldn't put The Letter, #1 Record, Third and Like Files on Sherbert together and go: 'This is one person's career.'"

* "To diminish shock, I throw high dice, get sauced, go to Egypt, scythe a field, screw." -- John Cheever

May 2, 2012

Her mind was dirty but her hands were clean
at the Temple beautiful

Cara Ober, 2012

Instructions for Angels
- by Kenneth Patchen

Take the useful events
For your tall.
Red mouth.
Blue weather.
To hell with power and hate and war

The mouth of a pretty girl...
The weather in the highest soul...
Put the tips of your fingers
On a baby man;
Teach him to be beautiful.
To hell with power and hate and war

Tell God that we like
The rain, and snow, and flowers,
And trees, and all things gentle and clean
That have growth on the earth.
White winds.
Golden fields.
To hell with power and hate and war.

The Origin of Baseball
-- by Kenneth Patchen

Someone had been walking in and out
Of the world without coming
To much of a decision about anything.
The sun seemed too hot most of the time.
There weren't enough birds around
And the hills had a silly look
When he got on top of one.
The girls in heaven, however, thought
Nothing of asking to see his watch
Like you would want someone to tell
A joke --"Time," they'd say, "what's
That mean --time," laughing with the edges
Of their white mouths, like a flutter of paper
In a madhouse. And he'd stumble over
General Sherman or Elizabeth B.
Browning, muttering, "Can't you keep
Your big wings out of the aisle?" But down
Again, there'd be millions of people without
Enough to eat and men with guns just
Standing there shooting each other.

So he wanted to throw something
And he picked up a baseball.

Nuremberg, U.S.A.
-- by Bill Knott

In this time and place, where "Bread and Circuses" has
become "Bread and Atrocities," to say 'I love you' is
like saying the latest propaganda phrase...'defoliation'...
'low yield blast'.
If bombing children is preserving peace, then
my fucking you is a war-crime.