June 26, 2012

The closer you are the quicker it hits you

unknown, Monk playing ping-pong

-- by Frank Stanford

I aimed to get some of my blood
back from the Snow Lake mosquitoes
my belly was full of lemonade
and my hair had Wild Root on it
I took to the thicket at dawn
not knowing where I was from in the man in the moon
there were trees with so much shade
you shivered
like someone chiseling the year in a graveyard
the shadows seeped thick as smoke
when you touched them
even breathing drew blood from the wood
it was dark
as a swarm
they smelled like olives
and feet in a garden
when you bowed and kissed them

one thirty-six a.m.
-- by Charles Bukowski

I laugh sometimes when I think about
Céline at a typewriter
or Dostoevsky...
or Hamsun...
ordinary men with feet, ears, eyes,
ordinary men with hair on their heads
sitting there typing words
while having difficulties with life
while being puzzled almost to madness.

Dostoevsky gets up
he leaves the machine to piss,
comes back
drinks a glass of milk and thinks about
the casino and
the roulette wheel.

Céline stops, gets up, walks to the
window, looks out, thinks, my last patient
died today, I won't have to make any more
visits there.
when I saw him last
he paid his doctor bill;
it's those who don't pay their bills,
they live on and on.
Céline walks back, sits down at the
is still for a good two minutes
then begins to type.

Hamsun stands over his machine thinking,
I wonder if they are going to believe
all these things I write?
he sits down, begins to type.
he doesn't know what a writer's block
he's a prolific son-of-a-bitch
damn near as magnificent as
the sun.
he types away.

and I laugh
not out loud
but all up and down these walls, these
dirty yellow and blue walls
my white cat asleep on the
hiding his eyes from the

he's not alone tonight
and neither am

June 25, 2012

Oftentimes Im reminded
Of the sweet young days
When I poured punch for the franchise
And thus was knighted
Got so excited

unknown, roller coaster, glen echo park, Maryland, 1926

* From Harper's July 2012:

-- Percentage of independent political spending on television advertising in the past year that came from anonymous donors: 91

-- Number of college graduates currently working as astronomers, physicists, chemists, mathematicians, or Web developers: 216,000

-- As waiters or bartenders: 216,000

-- Number of native-born Italians living in Manhattan's Little Italy, according to the 2010 Census: 0

-- Factor by which a religious website is more likely than a pornographic site to infect a computer with malware: 3

* "We have two American flags always: one for the rich and one for the poor. When the rich fly it means that things are under control; when the poor fly it means danger, revolution, anarchy." -- Henry Miller

June 22, 2012

Someone does you wrong you give away your whole life to prove it
You wear your pain with pride, you refuse to remove it
You become the evil that plays with you like a doll
Big rules only make our lives small

Lisa Yuskavage, Night, 2000

From Michael Brownstein's "epic, visionary, kaleidoscopic treatise/poem" World on Fire (2002), which if you haven't yet read, you really should:

...Notice how language is used here, dear reader.

Why should protected lands be despoiled for at most six years
worth of energy?

Do you trust the phrase "environmentally friendly?"

Is there any connection between drilling for natural gas and
addressing the problem of power shortages?

How easy is it for you to spot the greed peeking out of every

Understand that Mr. Bush, his cronies, and many of his
appointees are the oil industry.

Realize that nowhere above is development of alternative energy
sources mentioned.

Consider that the energy crisis referred to might be minor, tem-
porary, or even intentional.

Glance at the calendar as you read this.

What's today's date?

How much of the above has already come to pass?

What other areas of potential profit have been approached in
similar fashion?

See Under:
-- by Joanna Rawson

There's a word for a beggar who fakes being blind.
Another for amnesia about all events underwater.
For the exact center of gravity in a skyscraper.
Without motive, a bullet whittled from ice
utters murder into a toddler's chest.
The sun makes a pool of water around her body
that will evaporate by noon, a shadow
advertising the precise time of death.
There's a word for a cannon fired from a camel's back.
Another for a rain gauge fueled by the sun.
For anything that lasts all night.
The rumor of a violent stormfront
keeps arriving,
but somewhere else.

June 14, 2012

make a new cult every day to suit your affairs

Christine Gray, Late Lights, 2010

three poems by Jack Gilbert:

More Than Sixty

Out of money, so I'm sitting in the shade
of my farmhouse cleaning the lentils
I found in the back of the cupboard.
Listening to the cicada in the fig tree
mix with the cooing doves on the roof.
I look up when I hear a goat hurt far down
the valley and I discover the sea
exactly the same blue I used to paint it
with my watercolors as a child.
So what, I think happily. So what!


I can't remember her name.
It's not as though I've been in bed
with that many women.
The truth is I can't even remember
her face. I kind of know how strong
her thighs were, and her beauty.
But what I won't forget
is the way she tore open
the barbecued chicken with her hands,
and wiped the grease on her breasts.

Winning on the Black

The silence is so complete he can hear
the whispers inside him. Mostly names
of women. Women gone or dead. The ones
we loved so easily. What is it, he wonders,
that we had then and don't have now,
that we once were and are no longer.
It seemed so natural to be alive back then.
Soon there will only be the raccoon's
tracks in the snow down by the river.

June 11, 2012

Some people seem so obsessed with the morning
Get up early just to watch the sun rise
Some people like it more when there's fire in the sky
Worship the sun when it's high
Some people go for those sultry evenings
Sipping cocktails in the blue, red and grey
But I like every minute of the day

André Zucca, Following Fashion, Jardin du Luxembourg, May 1942

* From a Tank Magazine interview of Momus:

SHUMON BASAR: You've lived in a number of major metropolitan cities over the past three decades for long stretches each time. How premeditated was this?

MOMUS: It wasn't premeditated, but it wasn't haphazard either. A city, at a particular moment in history, has a kind of gravity force, some apparent affinity that first draws you into its orbit then flings you - like the Voyager spacecraft - off on some new trajectory. London drew me from Scotland because independent record labels were there, and were doing quirky and exciting things at the time. But when the labels went mainstream, all that was left in London was Thatcherite values, football and money. So I headed off to Paris thinking I'd find art and sex there. I found expat Japanese people and fashion and snobbism. Then the internet got hot, and all eyes were on America. So I went to live in New York. But New York got fascist and paranoid in the wake of 9/11, so I headed off to Tokyo. Tokyo was mostly about high-level shopping experiences, so I went to Berlin. And Berlin was great, an experimental city that cost practically nothing to live in. But I found I was basically trying to create a synthetic Japan around me, and that was a lot easier and cheaper to do in Japan itself. So I settled in Osaka, which is a sort of Berlin in Japan. In theory, anyway. Let's see.
SB: Do you think, unconsciously, that all the things that influenced you early on endorsed urban environments as ideals for living?

M: It's just self-evident to me that cities are more interesting. All those beautiful girls flitting around in cities, all those chances to meet likeminded people! Making money, making art, making love! Ambition, success! Buildings, buildings, bigger buildings! Tiny little filthy alleys that stink of piss! Cities are obviously glorious. They're humanity's ant heaps.

SB: From the beginning, your music was explicitly informed by anti-Anglophile literature. In retrospect, were they all also urban voices?

M: I remember reading the description of London in Bataille's Blue of Noon: "Dirty dragged herself over to the window. Beneath her she saw the Thames and, in the background, some of the most hideous buildings in London, now magnified in the darkness. She quickly vomited in the open air. In her relief she called for me, and, as I held her forehead I stared at that foul sewer of a landscape: the river and the warehouses. In the vicinity of the hotel the lights of luxury apartments loomed insolently." That vision has the same dark glamour, for me, as Bowie's song "Future Legend", which describes "Hunger City", a post-apocalyptic bombsite populated by gangs and prostitutes. Urban dystopia can seem so close to urban utopia. There's always something glittering in the murk and mire.

June 6, 2012

I like to stay home
and play guitar and play it back

Cynthia Connolly, Letters on top of buildings, 2011

Wanting to Experience All Things
-- by Robert Bly

The blind horse among the cherry trees --
And bones, sticking from cool earth.
The heart leaps
Almost up to the sky! But laments
And filaments pull us back into the darkness.
We cannot see --
But a paw
Comes out of the dark
To light the road. Suddenly I am flying,
I follow my own fiery traces through the night!

-- by Kim Addonizio

In goes the cafeteria worker in her hairnet.
In goes the philosophy teacher
explaining the theory of eternal
return, and Anton Stadler with his clarinet,
still owing money to Mozart. In
goes Mozart. Everyone flopped into the creel
of the happy fisherman, everyone eaten.
Every river is Lethean,
so why should we care
if it’s not the same river? I hate
how everything changes, tree
to failing term paper, chatelaine
to beheaded plotter, drug dealer to narc.
The heart softening faster than cereal
but then hardening to a relic
which turns into another line
of depressed poetry to recite
to the next eager trainee
anxious to be more than lint.
Going up, you’re also going down, so either
way, as your mother said, Be nice.
When she went in, she was very thin.
Earth, air, fire, water, mother.
Fish pulse slowly under the river ice.

Smothered by the World
-- by Robert Bly

Chrysanthemums crying out on the borders of death,
Lone teeth walking in the icy waters,
Once more the heavy body mourns!
It howls outside the hedges of life,
Pushed out of the enclosure.
Now it must meet the death outside the death.
Living outside the gate is one death,
Cold faces gather along the wall,
A bag of bones warms itself in a tree.
Long and bitter antlers sway in the dark,
The hairy tail howls in the dirt...