Saturday, December 31, 2005

below are a few pics taken at christmas. the toys nicholas is playing with are his favorites. each one talks, sings and makes all kinds of racket. in fact, contemporary toys for kids now all seem to talk and/or sing. which kinda freaks me out. i half expect a toy to start talking back a la some kind of horror flick. makes the skin creep, really, when putting together a few of those toys they would moan, yawn and say, 'oh hi.' what's next, artificial intelligence?

been a crazy, weird, wild and wonderful year, my first year as a new poet/father. the world is fucked, it seems, but the individuals i know as friends are a restorative from the insanity that seems to be our lot. the same for the poets i've been reading. for example, been marveling at the exuberant optimism evident in berrigan's work. is it a matter of temperament, or is it hard-won?

at any rate, i've always loved the changing of years. poetry is a way, i think, to make all time the present. not by stopping or freezing time, but simply by using the fields of language that make contemporaneous the writer past and present, with the reader past and present, that in turn, makes a future that remains unknown, but when it does arrive, as it always does, it become knowable.

or something to that effect. as the great shaft would say, sheeeeiiit!

so then, as chinaski does at the end of barfly, i raise a glass and toast all my friends.

happy new year

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

my favorite homage from one poet to another is by jack collom. there is so much here to like, from the humor in the writing and of its subject, the love and affection of one writer for another, and the sharply drawn details packed with daily living, such as running an errand to the grocery store. perhaps the love of particular texts reveals very much about the reader of those texts. perhaps it's too complicated to call, buried too deep within the reader. i've read, and continue to reread, collom's text; i've lost track how many times.

Conversation with Ted (made-up)

Hi Ted.

Hi Jack. I'm just finishing this story. So he said, my heart is broken. And I said, don't bet on it. Alice, where's my pants? I used to see W. H. Auden at this deli on 5th Street. He led the chemical life. One day he was standing there trying to eat a hot dog, spilling mustard all over the floor, talking about this asthmatic boyfriend of his who breathed like a dog. He looked terrific, like a walnut. Uppers for breakfast, a glass of brandy late morning, some hash after supper, snort a little coke and take a bottle of wine to bed. How're you doing? Ten years ago you looked a little blue in the left hand. I'm going uptown to sell some books. Can you lend me eight cents for a cab? Alice, what do we need besides Pepsi and macaroni? Toilet paper. Here's my new book. You'll notice I'm not even in it. Let Eddie have that crocodile awhile, Anselm. Ron and I used to worry about the problem of continuity in poetry until we finally figured out when you say something, say something else. So long.

April 18, 1982

from Nice to See You: Homage to Ted Berrigan, edited and with an introduction by Anne Waldman (Coffee House Press, 1991)

Monday, December 26, 2005

been pretty much offline for the holiday, being with family and watching nicholas get engrossed not in his presents, but as is the wont of a 1-year-old, the wrapping paper and boxes. he had a blast playing with those. i saw a while back that there is a toy hall of fame somewhere, and this year the cardboard box got its induction. it fits, there is nothing better to a small child than a box, and the imagination. the mind reels at all the possibilities!

and but so, got the jan. '06 issue of fuck!, a stapled, 6-page zine published out of arizona by lee thorn, last thursday. this edition is so good that it made me reread a number of back issues. when thorn is on, he is red-hot, his picks of textual poetry and vispo is spot-on. anyway, this issue has a couple of poems by jon cone, a writer so good that i had to google him to find more of his stuff. he is the reason i went thru my stash of back issues. i first read his poems last year. there are some writers i wish were also bloggers, jim mccrary is one, and jon cone is another. i want to read everything they have written, and will write. i couldn't find if cone has published any books, or chaps, so if anyone got any info on him i'd be much obliged.

subscribe to fuck! by sending 20 bucks to lee thorn at box 85571, tucson, az 85754.

and and check out this fascinating conversation between geof huth and jim andrews on the nature and definitions of digital writing.

and and and i received last week coltsfoot insularity, a collaboration between poets jess mynes and aaron tieger, which i read twice in a row. a bit more on that later.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

the best christmas song, ever i think, is 'fairytale of new york' by the pogues. a gorgeous duet with shane macgowan and the late, great kirsty maccoll. fuck sentimentality. it is an ode to love, and the endurance of love. here is a taste.

she: you're a bum
you're a punk

he: you're an old slut on junk
lying there almost dead on a drip
in that bed

she: you scum bag
you maggot
you cheap lousy faggot
happy christmas your arse
i pray to god
it's our last

(from the album if i should fall from grace with god, 1988)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

just read this review about the poet john wilmot, earl of rochester. johnny depp portrays the poet in a movie based on his life. i just found out about it, the movie, i mean. sacramento isn't a big enough market, i guess, for it to be released theatrically so i'll have to wait until it is released on disc.

not that i'm sitting here on the edge of my seat for a movie about a poet. god knows, there have been scads of film stock wasted already about poets. each film i see about poets and poetry is worse than the last effort, either produced by mainstream studios or independents. writing, a life in writing / reading, doesn't easily lend itself to visual representation, i guess. the filmmakers are reduced to portraying just the more scandalous areas of life. it feels like a cheat.

i recall about a decade ago going to an art theater to watch a film based on the relationship between french poets rimbaud and verlaine. rimbaud is huge in my universe, and leonardo dicaprio starred as the teenaged genius. i was nearly salivating to see the movie total eclipse. i skipped class that night and headed to the theater right after work. the theater was empty. i thought, i've never had a whole theater to myself. and was near-giddy at the prospect. but no, a couple entered the theater right when the house lights went down. and of all the empty seats to choose from, they picked seats next to mine.

i digress, but only slightly, since the experience of almost having the theater to myself mirrored the film onscreen, if only in my disappointment. dicaprio's performance was so shrill and obnoxious without the least hint of rimbaud's genius that i nearly walked out. director holland sorely needed to focus, but her direction was slack and enervating. what should have been a movie about a pair of poets whose lives were so cinematic that making a film about them should've been brilliant first-year film student projects, became a study in total boredom.

then there was a merry war, recommended to me by my friend, poet andrew sullivan. i rented that turd from the local blockbuster. anna and i watched it in bed, which was an excellent spot, since after a couple of beers i fell asleep by the third reel. there is nothing about writing in this movie, only the drooling stupidity displayed by the principals of the film. genius can't pay the rent, it seems, so don't quit yr day job. duh! however, the poet, played by richard e. grant, the long-faced suitor of steve martin's love interest in the otherwise wonderful, whimsical l.a. story, decides he can't do both so he quits period, mopes about, then quits again, before going back to his day job as an ad-copy writer where he possesses his real genius. less a cautionary tale, than pure muck. nothing about poetry, only the wretchedness of watching a couple of goofballs in love, with what i can't fathom.

but what about barfly based on the soiled life of ol' buk of san pedro. i confess to a soft spot i have for this film. i like it, despite my better judgment. i think mickey rourke is a great actor, and i've sat thru many a rourke movies, crappy and some not so crappy, to watch him at work. in fact, this movie has one of my favorite scenes, about how chance runs our lives. the scene is where chinaski, the buk character, hears some scuffling and screams from the room next door at his girlfriend's (faye dunaway) flophouse. chinaski is soused but has a bit of spark, so when he breaks down the door to the room he finds an old drunk beating the shit out of his pissed wife. everyone is on one big wooze here. the old man tells chinaski that she likes it, and she spits out an affirmation and tells the hapless idiot to fuck off. chinaski doesn't take a shine to that, and when the old man hits his old lady again, that's it! they struggle, the old guy has a knife, they fight for it, then old man gets shivved in the gut. he says to chinaski, that's just pure dumb luck. chinaski lurches a step and responds, yeah but that counts too.

again i digress, but as a movie about poets and poetry, writing and living, it sucks. i've no idea, other than knowing already the film is based on buk, what rourke's character does. and what little stream-of-consciousness garble he does do we hear as a first-person narration, almost, as it sounds like the worst sort of high-school poetry, affected, melodramatic, and very purple in its suasion. as charlie brown was fond of saying, good grief.

i could go on, since i've not given up all hope on finding a good film about writers and writing. the subject is not very cinematic. poetry is one of the most exciting acts i know, but to someone watching me writing, or reading, would soon contemplate suicide if only to end the numbing tedium of watching my actions. such is innerlife, that actions appear to be non-actions. fuck it. i've found out matt dillon stars as buk in a movie based on the former's novel. there is no hope, even tho i've got my fingers crossed.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Though eventually, or maybe initially, one has to ask, "Why do it?" What is writing poetry for? That is, after realizing one can't shake off the compulsion to do it. Poetry, in and of itself, the poem, let's say, can't generate significant profit. A career, yes. But that's poetry embedded in some context other than itself. One can be a poet and teach, or edit, or lecture. But one can't be a poet, and nothing else, and eat without some form of inheritance or charity on hand. This, I am thankful for: It allows me to imagine an Epicurean monasticism which oddly enough eases the sense of being neglected by providing it a shelter.

Though what to do about immortality? Didn't being neglected amount to vanishing? Isn't that the real risk? Since I began publishing in 1968 there has been a steady paper trail of appearances or mentions. Likewise, there were enough good personal libraries where, read or unread, my books sat on shelves. So the work exists. It wouldn't be too hard to find when my name bobbed up, or someone decided to track me down. Late modernism is full of such discoveries. Besides, the chance of being forgotten is as certain as death.

"On Being Neglected" by Thomas Meyer (First Intensity #20 / 2005)

Monday, December 12, 2005

here is a list of movies to make yr holidays jolly and jumpy.


cannot say why
what i like about texts

but explain those

Friday, December 09, 2005

an idiosyncratic highly subjective list of top-5 vocalists who have that i don't know what

otis redding
marvin gaye
shane mcgowan
kristin hersh
bob mould

you no like? make yr own!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

below are some pics from the saint lucia festival last weekend in san francisco. traditionally in sweden, the christmas season starts on december 13 when the eldest daughter of the household, accompanied by her sisters and brothers, wakes before dawn, puts on the crown of lights, and serves a breakfast of coffee, tea and saffron buns to her parents. not sure how an italian medieval saint became an icon of christmas for swedes. something about meshing with viking pagan winter holiday, and later christianity.

the white stuff to the left on the photo of me and nicholas is not the result of spirit photography. anna is holding a stuffed toy for nicholas.

taking today off work cuz nicholas has a cold. now i'm bone-tired, could use a real long nap.

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

all right; this is intriguing. some of those dudes look like models. now, how about a journal that publishes a poet centerfield. dig this: the pouty lips, the sensual pose, the come-hither expression and least of all the likes and not-likes. such as. . .


moderate to severe alcohol intake
roland barthes
prose poems
sunset walks in the park
deep sleep
falling in love


decorative language
waking up early
being single
not being single
without love

now, how about me as a model? you don't want to look at my beer belly, my panther tattoo and my greying hair. right?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

we spent the day in the bay area. the weather was clear, the sky blue and it was freaking chilly. in short, a gorgeous, glorias day. first we spent the morning in san francisco at the cathedral on geary to usher in christmas with the saint lucia festival. it is an annual tradition for us, anna's mother is swedish, so it brings home many memories for her. we arrived a little after nine a.m. perfect timing, cuz the place soon gotthick with tall, good-looking swedes. i've not heard swedish spoken aloud in quite a while so hearing the language also brought lovely memories for me visiting the country. i held nicholas for most of the time. he loved it, we took pictures so as soon as i upload them i'll post a couple.

then it was across the bay to oakland. there is a small shop, called nordic house, on telegraph that specializes in scandinavian goodies. the store also has the balls to sell two kinds of lutefisk. what is lutefisk, you ask? it is a traditional christmas entree of cod cured in lye. i could never bring myself to eat that shit. even lotsa swedes, norwegians, danish and icelanders can't eat it. but many, and i mean many, do love it. can't fathom why, the cured fish looks like watery piss all gelled up.

then we drove down telegraph to berkeley for a little book shopping at cody's books and moe's which is probably the best bookstore on the planet. didn't have much time for either shop today, only an hour, which was a bummer since i've not been to berkeley in quite some time. shit, i should simply make the time. the drive is reasonable, and nothing beats the pure pleasure of browsing the stacks and making discoveries.

for example, at cody's i picked up the journals first intensity and chain, as well as the chap afterday (beets and gasoline press; san francisco) by john sakkis. there were lots more books and journals to browse thru of course. i was pleased to see stocked on the shelves eileen tabios's book reproductions of the empty flag pole. that made me happy, and thought whoever is in charge of the poetry section has good taste.

at moe's i found heart of the breath: poems 1979-1992 by jim brodey, a real find. brodey is a good poet too-liitle known for his talent. also i picked up readiness / enough / depends / on (green integer [ed. by robert grenier]) by larry eigner, a favorite poet of mine.

there was much more. wish i'd taken pictures of telegraph ave in berkeley. that bastion of hippiedom and counter-culture remains frozen in time, a perennial time-flux forever to loop the year 1969. and san francisco simply is one of the most beautiful cities on the planet. a couple of pictures the city from the bay bridge would've been good.

oh yeah, clicking around some journals yesterday i found this poem by eileen tabios. a scorcher, after reading that i needed to take a cold shower.

now, if you'll excuse me, i'se got a little reading to do.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Lemonade 2c

Kathy was my
first customer
naturally, I
turned her on
she put her
cool hand in
led me to her
dark & sweaty
kissed me
Lord, how our
lips trembled
how bitter-sweet
& cool
that lemonade

--William Wantling