fickle word: poetry can never catch pop. Then there are the uglier consequences,
the swift passage of life's stream. "Jimmy cracked corn." "I don't care."
Poetry: something that is nothing. The local scene begins to gel.
h yes, the narrowness of the winding ever upward social ladder; it confines
the mind as well. "Irish, I take nothing at face value." I had admired her
ability to osmosify. We all have decidedly unique ways of achieving our objectives,
and once locked into these particular rituals, we pay hell breaking with them,
though sometimes the divorce from redundancy is the work of an instinct for
survival. In the hide and seek of words, patience wins (more often than not).
nselm was doing an on-camera interview in his boxer shorts. He was talking
to a flirtatious Asian beauty that he had followed down many corridors in
their conversation. Finally, when they entered a large circular room, the
camera pulled back to reveal that Anselm had a woody. Then more women arrived
in various states of deshabillement and the scene got darker and darker until
the lights went out.
reak down every observation, every moment, experience into verbal formula,
subject reality to exploitation and evasion. "The whole desire for definition
has to do with the Renaissance in which we demanded clarity and got it. We're
no longer in such a time and such definitions are no longer of any use to
us." Everything I do now is done in sections, fragments, mind bytes, maximizing
any spare time I can find. A writer must manipulate perception to his advantage.
Some require fewer details than others, some are never satisfied.
ommunication exists as a formula. The word "pretty" comes from the old English,
"perdy" which comes from the corrupt Latin "per Deus" meaning "by God" or
"of God". Trust your unconscious on these matters, playful and timeless. There
is no excuse for that kind of a word (kind words)! Sometimes it simply adds
up, other times it takes an Einstein.
ead, he is examining road maps on a table, folding, unfolding, tracing a route
with a finger. He's looking for maps with a particular symbol on them, but
can't seem to find them. He turns away from the table, dissatisfied, irritated.
I begin clearing the table. He demands to know what I think I am doing. I
shouldn't assume that he's done yet. I explain that this is my job, to straighten
up, to file things away, to classify. This is what I do for a living. This
appears to interest him. That I impose order on things and put them away in
drawers. Alphabetically. This perks him up. "Like in the military?"
This, like nothing else I ever did, pleases my father. I wake, sweating.
ID THE EARTH MOVE? I hadn't flown in over ten years and so there was always
that tiny bit of reservation at the back of my mind -- I wasn't taking it
for granted that this thing was actually supposed to fly. I blinked, though,
when the pilot's voice came over the speakers and announced, "Um, ladies and
gentlemen, we seem to have a problem." I looked out the port at the wing.
The jet engine looked fine on my side. I was in too much shock to think beyond
that, but my shock became consternation when the pilot continued. "The Bay
Area has just experience a major earthquake." I don't think it was actually
disappointment or even relief. What had begun in my mind as a very specific
and personal tragedy had become something much more universal; in reality,
it was a general catastrophe from which I had been effectively excluded.
ry rot of the bunghole, this place stinks of old farts. "I would go to the
stake for a sensation and remain a skeptic to the last." said Oscar Wilde
with ardor and indifference. Homo elektros is accurate for the moment. In
the long run, a grounds keeper.
ach poem is its own proving ground, and its own diversion. Sometimes I get
it right the first time and then spend years trying to prove it myself. In
sleep, I'm at swim with the electrons. Moments before waking, a woman I can't
identify asks me to sample the strawberry jam on her cheek. I also dream that
my pillowcases are large manila envelopes. The degree of difficulty of any
work distances itself from entertainment and increases its atomic weight,
inches toward the eternal. Blame it on the mitochondria.
ame makes you detested by your own kind. The more you are identified, the
more you are hated so a rise in popularity can cough up some real venom. It
sticks in the craw of your contemporaries.
rammatical altruism. Early morning rush out the door, barely awake even after
two cups, the brew of centuries. I shut out the world with noise until the
batteries run low. Impulse: the shortest distance between two points: thought
and act. That's me, it always has to be right away, reflects the immediacy
of my needs.
ope is grammar. The benefit of my experience: I don't call the shots. New
York City, just a big ghetto with Paris-envy. Incarnadine intent. Absolute
beauty is already the quest of death. The intervening years come to this.
Idiot bravado. The realization of my cartoon existence.
don't have the proper credentials to teach at any level of education. There's
a basic requirement that has to be met which I've never attempted to attain.
I've taught a few workshops in the past but never thought that what I was
doing actually benefited anyone. As a professor, and in particular as a workshop
leader, you have to be a salesman. I always felt like I was hosting a Tupperware
party or hawking Amway products. It's something that I just don't have the
aptitude for. But teaching has its pitfalls. It's quite a seductive occupation.
The mantle of professorship carries a lot of authority, and unfortunately,
in all but a few very special cases, the poet becomes subordinate to the professor.
The academic influence has been known to erode artistic integrity. Even when
he is not a guest on campus, today's poet is, as never before, under pressure
of academic attention and expectations. Consciously or not, numerous poets
begin to write a type of poem that will reward the structural analyses of
college and university classes. The opportunity for compromise is always at
hand. And with each compromise comes a loss of authenticity. I don't care
to be a party to the lemming march up the daisy chain of ambition.
f you don't think we're on the road to extinction, take a stroll through any
supermarket on a busy weekend and look at all those types on whose gene pools
natural selection won't bother renewing the contracts.
have gone on forever rejecting the opinion of others, and simply because I
have found myself gridlocked in accepting the well traveled. I followed a
path for many years, one trod on by others and then one day set off on one
entirely of my own making. Surprisingly (or not ) I ended up crossing my old
path as well as many I would never have considered. Destiny, fate, whatever
you want to call it, has nothing in common with a straight line.
still remember what it was like to be a kid (a particular kind of gleaming
innocence) though with each passing year more of the details get preserved
in the syrup of my idealization. A bite has been taken out of crime but then
it has a perpetual ass. I didn't see it because it was right in front of me
the book I searched the house for now I can't remember why I was looking for
it in the first place. Sometimes I feel like I'm the newspaper on the floor
that the cat always finds to perch upon.
magine time as a checkerboard with each square a time frame of a century or
an era but none contiguous to sequence, and then add another dimension. Don't
look for the obvious, but don't be surprised when it is. "The basis of art
is change in the universe," said Basho. A book of poems is a process,
a development, not an exhibition (exhibit). Plants are blind to everything
but our love. Disconnected or unconnected, doubtful word behavior.
uice or water will do. Poetry is a necessity not an affectation. Tiny black
specks swarm over cold kitchen tiles, warmer than outside to them. Alone at
last, idle and uncertain, have I ever been alone or this alone by myself?
I create the anxiety of too much time on my hands, room to room each as empty
as I am alone.
ost in the myth of metaphor, thinks the insignificant anthropoid, "ghosts
are shadows." Motor pool. Larger than the assignment of peace or the
makeshift derogation of an unknown sound pigeonholes. He didn't say "jab it"
with the stick. Wriggle spasms. His whole life in the rough calculations in
the white dust on the table erased by a breath or dismissed by a wave of the
hand a can of carbonated liquid sucrose a tailor-made tube of tobacco, he
became a fragile statistic.
ut here at the high end of the zip code, a work of random genius. If you let
the wind take you wherever it goes, have a look at where the other things
the wind blows around end up. In a state of constant negotiations, I cross
anicked by their inner selves, people run away. The immovable spot, joyful
anticipation in the sorrow of the world, the vortex of suffering, the crisis
of the threshold, mind stuff, gross matter, time asks for violence then one
day your body says make peace with yourself. Moments of faith allow me to
write and being able to write allows me faith. You try to never step into
the same poetry scene twice.
igeons roll in the gray sand to warm themselves. A blue heron wades in the
shallows of a risen river whose placid surface reflects a gorgeous beauty
of red yellow orange and green abstract pools of light. Floating in memory,
a picture of the perfect painting.
eading about angels, I am buzzed by a fly. If our greatest blessings come
to us in our madness, I unwittingly chose the path of sanity and remain unfavored.
All the bad luck, terrible accidents, cruel circumstances, the waking horror
that we have all been through which we brush off simply to continue.
e: Black Bart, the Shotgun Poet. Consider the poem that he leaves at the scene
of the crime. Consider the audacity of that act: anyone can rob a stage, but
to leave a message, let alone that it was a poem, is, for that day and age,
practically unbelievable. It certainly presupposes an audience, and, ultimately,
publicity. It challenges the accepted notion of the illiterate desperado.
It is also a literary event certainly more popularly remembered than, say,
Tennyson's podium pounding reading at Oxford. It also has an endearing quality.
Undoubtedly someone who writes poems is not a threat, is perceived as benign
(how soon we forget Machievelli). At any rate, another question poses itself
(self-portrait of a question): which came first, the poem or the idea for
the robbery? Ask yourself, did Black Bart rob the stage and then sit down
and scribble his poem, or was it something he carried around on a scrap of
paper or in his memory? It is, we should assume, original with the stage robber.
The sentiment is certainly anti-establishment, and it's a good bet that it
was a widely held, popular sentiment. Ask yourself also, was it a perceived
injustice at the hands of bankers that lead the passion of Chas. E. Boles
to pen a panegyric and which lead to his ultimate course of action? Wouldn't
you agree that his was among the originals of literary happenings, isn't this
the apex of performance poetry? Or is it just another case of life imitating
tory idea: SLOGAN( pronounced SLO-GUN). The story of a politician (nothing
polite about politics), a man from Mars who runs for president, and what's
crazy! he has a good chance of getting elected due in large part to the tabloid
majority, a mass media self-fulfilling prophecy, prurient interest as a raison
d'être and so much for the "Enlightenment" and its fluke, democracy;
the urge of myth and hierarchy is much more basic.
en years ago I was still recovering from the flood of the year before. My
successes were as minimal as they are today. My habits have not changed much,
and I've just made it through another flood. Not much changes and repetition
can be as comforting as it is boring. The same songs on the radio elicit the
same sentiment. My pen plays across the page with the same predictable scribbles.
Topsy-turvy, a phrase I don't often use, but appropriate for the present situation.
How everything is upside down, books piled every which way above the potential
flood water line.
he fool is truly alone, without one friend or even enemies. What do I expect?
Too much, obviously. I'm inaccessible, even to myself. The simplest of things:
light touch on the keys. Matchsticks accumulate. I am gone even more than
before. Repeated assurance: once I was more than I am, but I am still who
I am; the formula for being.
he moment is greater than the totality," said in a fractured French syntax.
Elders repeat the lesson youngsters don't always hear the first time, preoccupied
with their immortality. Language manipulates reality, reality masks illusion,
illusion explains language. Truly domesticated, housework, the stage for my
he more you have the greater your fear of losing any of it. I'd be dead by
if I weren't so much alive. Herein lies the terror. Taken for granted, what
is granted, this daily bread of life. "Do you swear to tell the truth,
the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you, God?" I don't
have to answer that. I get into my car, a four-door gutless supreme, and drive
home where I join my family for the evening. The square box illuminates us.
he spirit located in the heart is known as "common sense". Its role is to
collect all messages coming in from the body's sensory apparatus. Once in
the heart, these messages are converted into a mode accessible to the natural
intelligence of common sense, and this mode is image or phantasm. Common sense
does not comprehend without images.
he tragic thing about being psychic: you will know your own death and are
alone with its inevitability to face the ghost of yourself. If anything, it
hardens your I-don't-care attitude. This late in the year, that one hulking,
hairy ice age fly.
hen there's the real me and I ask why?" Some stray lyrics to a song misunderstood.
Deliberate ambiguity and arcane formula, this cannot be taught. My family
thinks I freak out too easily. Late night, stumped again.
hings that don't agree are disagreeable and in that sense bothersome, irritating
when some kind of resolution can't be reached. There is no camaraderie to
buffer these feelings and senseless fears. When you're alone, really alone
with nothing or no one to fall back on, to boost your sense of worth and add
that meaning to your life. "I could be alone in a crowded room."
hen you can perfectly forget yourself, you'll finally see the rest of the
world. As you get a little older, when elder poets depart, you go part of
the way with them. Another possibility fades into the past tense and what
could have been isn't. Class is what you do with what you have; classism is
the arrogance of self. It makes sense if you stop and think.