Sunday, September 30, 2007

alright, laying low these past couple of weeks. as i type the windows are open and there is a lovely breeze: cool, comforting: autumn. in spite of the incipient blues when the weather is so mild and cool, when the light in california transforms from burnt yellow in high summer to a smudged umber of early fall, one - me i suppose - can't help but fall in love.

silly sounding granted but just the same all the more real for it. we had dinner over b.'s and s.'s house yesterday. their little guy and our little guy are best friends but play is always punctuated by cries over who hit who or what toy the other won't share. even so, b. and i drove around on the crowded folsom, california [famous for it's prison, the one johnny cash sang about] downtown streets in his vintage 1970s era monte carlo for a quick stop at the supermarket on the way to the mexican restaurant where we had ordered takeout. and lemme tell you that blasting along the streets at warp speed is a thrill. folsom was once a pretty hilltop enclave of early to mid 20th century homes. now it is a bustling ex-burb, but large swaths are still charming. the hilly roads and night-time lights made me feel at moments like i was sulu on the bridge of the enterprise, as i was pinned to my seat, and where the city lights that seemed to be always over the ridge. the views were spectacular.

at the end of the evening b. and i were in his garage. he was burning a cd for me: the misfits, '80s era roxy music, spandau ballet, iggy pop and the stooges and david lee roth era van halen as we bullshitted over the hood of his car. i know nothing about vintage muscle cars. can only admire them from a distance, even if i was standing right over one. then tonight as i was puttering around on a couple of errands i listened to the cd. the array of music collected on the one disc surprised me for a moment. its eclecticism is i suppose something i wish to emulate in my writing and life. too much of everything and yet i want it all. too much to ask? sure. but life in writing and in ordinary living is a muchness of extreme fullness. i hope so at any rate. life's too short for anything less.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

my friends who know me fairly well know also my disposition not toward melancholy but. . .shit, the word ain't coming to me. . .but a discussion of mortality. life is extremely brief. and whether one might believe i saw a ghost or not, i tend to think that his go around is the only one. conversation, esp. lunch time conversation, inevitably returns to death. and why not, it's the prime motivator. we do things because and in spite of death. jump out of an airplane? yr saying fuck you to death.

live long enough if yr a poet and you'll be writing about death. in the u.s. death is usually hidden with hush-hush words and closed doors. no one dies in america. everyone is young and beautiful, as if. my friend poet pearl selinsky who i think is in her late 70s and who lost her husband, vic, last year thinks what makes poets different than the madding crowd is that poets think of death all the time. i don't know about that, i mean the specialness of poets. i think everyone considers death.

which is often the subject of conversation with me. and yet, death is not tragic, so to speak. it is the natural conclusion of living. it isn't the price you must suffer and pay. death takes everything but it is free and available to every living creature. no one gets off earth alive.

i've reached the middle of my life. it astonishes me to say so. but i have. when i have aches and pains, for example just this moment typing my back is aching from sitting too long in this chair, i have to remind myself of my age. i think and act like a 25 year old. my body however is not 25.

i'll end this ramble by saying i think i've hit that stage in my life when i realize shyness and apathy are killers. mean what you say when you say it. something like that. for fuck's sake, i don't want to go to my death with the regret of not telling someone i loved him/her. life's too fucking short. i have so many ideas for poems and projects that i know i won't complete a quarter of them. who cares. poetry and death are intimates. i want to raise a middle finger to all bs. as long as i can write and read, i shall say this is the life.

sitting around - doing nothing, i'm surfing a bit, too tired to write and too awake to go to bed. so i'm looking around a few genre movie websites and come across this discussion of poetry used in movies. that is significant because the discussion is not about poet movies, movies about the poet as anti-hero, but poetry as it is used in films. i was making my own list as i was reading the posts and found that most of the movies that i could think of are talked about. i've got nothing more to add, except that this might be an example of poetry - as in poetry generally - read and known by a wider audience.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

we get together every few weeks or so to watch movies and bullshit. last friday we screened doug liman's movie go from 1999. no one, except for me and anna, ever heard of the flick. starring sarah polley the movie is 3 interwoven tales about one night - xmas eve - in lost angeles.

rather than telling you about the plot i'd urge to to see the film itself. it barely got notice upon it's initial release. liman's better known flick swingers from 1996 inspired a mini-craze of martini swilling, sinatra blasting hipster doofuses. go did not inspire, as far as i know, gaggles of groupies to take x-tacy and go to raves. pity, since this movie is my favorite of liman's career thus far.

interspersed among songs by massive attack and others the thumping score is composed by dj bt. i'm not a big fan of bt but then i have only 2 of his albums and that is not an adequate assessment of his work, i was surprised to read on the credits on this viewing that bt did indeed compose the score, which is heavy trance, esp. in the club scenes. watching the film my head and feet were trying in my own lame fashion to keep time.

crisply edited and lushly photographed the drug scenes are so genuine that it felt like i was having a flashback. the movie is an exhilarating rush of youth and recklessness. polley proves her chops here and is one tough cookie. she is amazing to watch.

our group is sometimes wary of letting me choose the films we'll watch. they suspect my tastes run only to cheap exploitation. fair enough, i say, cuz it does, but go is a film i like so much i own a copy. i watched my friends' faces as they watched the movie. not because i like watching their faces but i wanted to gage their responses to the film. and that is a pleasure in its own right. cuz not much is better than kicking back, eating a big meal, knocking back a few and watching a good movie with our friends.

Monday, September 24, 2007

20 lbs holiday sonnet

sonnets of flesh could still model my torso
les murray

so it begins
the holiday season
as if matters for platters
of halloween candy

can make me fly
i'm going for it sucka
they say the average person
gains 10 lbs during the season

make mine a double
as bowl after bowl
of sweets slide down

that's right bitches
there is that lot of me
and all so luscious

Thursday, September 20, 2007

epistle to vengua


just watched a ginsberg documentary and started thinking of you and how even in the middle of my life there is still so much to learn that i despair that i'll not even get to even a few of the things and one of those things is the practice of meditation and i don't mean the popular notion of trancendant arrivals i mean how the discipline might allow one to learn to become life with in and out side of our routines and if this note sounds a little kooky it is probably so for we have to say goodbye to our kitty tomorrow night and i know i've been gifted with the presence of her life



Tuesday, September 18, 2007

kik owt da jam mudderfuggers!






Saturday, September 15, 2007

Words are heavy,
with deliverable masses.
I know, for I ama word.
There are other words like me.
Perhaps we are all one word.
But it is my word, too, is me.

from 'Birthday Poem'
bill griffiths 1948 - 2007

Friday, September 14, 2007

Atonement, dir Joe Wright, starring Keira Knightley,
James McAvoy, Vanessa Redgrave

The film of Ian McEwan’s novel Atonement summons up
many literary antecedents, such as L.P.Hartley’s The
Go-Between or D.H.Lawrence’s Women in Love (or a kind
of compendium or abridgement of many Lawrence or
Lawrence-like novels or stories). The word nostalgia
breezes eerily across the film’s opening shots, a big
stately home, like Mandalay in Daphne du Maurier’s
novel Rebecca or hosts of other possible period
stately homes which might form a list too long for
this review. The sepia tinted shots of the big house
unfold then into its interiors, a labyrinthine place
with multi-various rooms, halls, landings, all leading
onto further rooms, halls, landings.

Many of the scenes and dialogues seem rather
contrived, as if they had been made with the English
Heritage Industry in mind (ie “Briony your a brick.”
Etc etc. Has anyone ever heard the word brick ever
deployed in such a colloquialism in everyday speech,
or is it simply an empty aristocratic slang made up
for use in these English Heritage Films?) In fact the
script is so shot through with clichés of upper-class
mores and customs that it becomes difficult at times
to take the film at all seriously. In one scene,
after the evacuation of Dunkirk, one of the central
characters, Briony Tallis, manages an act of atonement
(that term infested with shades of meaning from the
Judeo-Christian Tradition) by comforting a young
French soldier in terms of her own Franglais. This
amounts to an exchange of Je suis Ian, Je suis Tallis.
Je habite Paris. Clearly McEwan’s daytrip to Calais
had not been wasted or perhaps this is some lost
version of the Ballymena French so prevalent in this
reviewers Belfast youth.

Atonement says nothing of importance about McEwan’s
novel, or about novels in general, about life in
England, Britain or anywhere, or even, and this
perhaps saddest of all, about films and film-making.
McEwan’s novelistic usage of time lapse and
retrospective is curtailed by the fact that he begins
at the very beginning of the events depicted.
Obviously it all would have been so much more
powerful, but so obviously retrospective, to begin at
the end and work back. Ultimately the ending seems
lame and tacked on as a result. The real film is to
be found at the beginning, when, as a result of the
baneful English class system and conventions of sex
and relationships, Robbie (played by McAvoy) sends a
letter to his loved one Cecila (played by Knightley,
seemingly a model pretending to be an actress) via
their go-between Briony. Predictably Briony reads
this letter, a chain of unfortunate events thus
unfolds, built upon a 13 year-old girls mis-perception
of what is a totally frank letter. In fact she
probably understands that the letter is intended for
her, as so many letters given to other people seem to
be, fails to comprehend her role as a go-between,
insinuating Robbie as the rapist of her cousin Lola.
Robbie goes to gaol but is given remission provided he
joins the army.

The makers of this film have clearly invested quite a
lot in a film of shadows not substance. For all that
the film is convincing, were it not for the
recollection of so many antecedents and influences: in
fact, too many. The scenes set in and around the
Dunkirk evacuation do little to propel the story, seem
tacked on to the film as a Ps, thus providing a
definite sense of identity, historical context.
However, this could easily be left out, seems to serve
as nothing more than an excuse for the cinematographer
and his crew to recreate a period.

In short Atonement is a tired, derivative film with
little to say. There are some definite non-actors in
leading roles, but also some definite actors too.

Paul Murphy, Ealing, London

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

mike hauser's been posting some very good shit on his blog lately. including this piece regarding accessibiltiy and readability of texts. if i read mike correctly he makes the correlation between the written text as not being as visceral experience as say a piece of music is a heavily emotive [my word, mike uses the word 'visceral'] experience.

i agree with mike regarding the power of music. all of us have been to a concert and probably were caught up with the crowd so that it becomes a collective, mesmerizing event. music is critical to my life as a man and writer. but i don't agree with mike regarding the relative coldness of poetry, esp. in its written form.

i've been deeply moved by texts. i recall the high i got when i discovered the pleasures of caffeine and the intoxicating deliriums of rimbaud at the same time. the first poem that deeply moved me, and made me want to become a poet, was john berryman's sonnet 'i lift'. i was talking about jean genet with jonathan hayes on the phone last weekend. and i told hayes that genet was a profound, early influence, and that reading and rereading his novel a thief's journal is a profound pleasure. a pleasure that makes me feel lucky to be alive, want to have sex and eat a great meal and drink enough beer to get seriously fucked up. even if i didn't understand the texts i read, such as hart crane and rene char in my early 20s or tom raworth in my mid 30s, the poems deeply moved me to the point where i'd get goosebumps from joy, which is the condition i think mike means regarding the fissions of bodily pleasure one gets from music rather than getting that same pleasure from poems.

and that is in essence my poetics: deep, lasting, abiding pleasure. why else bother if you don't enjoy it at the first intensity. poetry is not comcommitant with life, it becomes, with discipline, life. and that life, even when facing death, is the greatest pleasure and joy. i say that knowing full well the horrors of our worlds.

but don't take my word on the pleasures of the text. take for example the cliches we use regarding music and poetry.

e.g. when someone executes a beautiful play say in football or any other sport, or to mix metaphors if we see a beautiful man or woman walking down the street, we call it: poetry in motion.

when we listen to a piece of music that moves us, or a film or play, we call it: pure poetry.

when a writer, sculptor, athlete, scientist, filmmaker etc. etc. displays genius we call that person: a poet.

contrast that to how we esteem music.

when a person expresses a vain, naive hope we call that: whistling in the dark.


when a person appears to be shrewd and purchased a highly valued item or service on the cheap, we call that: bought for a song.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

from linh dinh's killer blog comes this post and poem about/from brazilian poet regis bonvicino

it's been a fucked up day. our cat, berta, fell ill and stopped eating and drinking. she is one of two cats, the other is ernie, that's been with us since anna and i moved into our first apartment. she is between 14 and 15 years old. so we took her to the vet who said berta is having renal failure, and that there are two options:

1. euphemistically put her to sleep
2. treat the infections and go from there

we chose the second option. she is at the vet now and i need to call tomorrow morning to get an evaluation.

i know death is part of life. i've accepted that a long time ago. still, it sucks when facing the death of our loved creature. berta, anna reminds me, is my cat. she was the second addition to our household. the first was ernie. when anna called me to tell me she was bringing home berta i was reluctant. didn't want to disturb the harmony of the home. i was wrong. one look at the kitten and i fell in love. both are dumpster cats rescued from the back lot of the construction firm anna was then working.

i took the day off from work and spent it taking a nap, reading and commenting on some blogs, watching fulci's movie conquest, writing a couple of emails about berta, and being strung out.

part of trying to decompress from the stress of berta's health was watching the fulci movie - a seriously goofy, deliriously surreal hodgepodge of zombie-cave man a la quest for fire-sword&sorcery flick - but also watching the trailer for the new j.j. abrams [of the tv show lost fame] untitled move about a dozen times since my brother showed it to me last saturday. there is a helluva mysterious viral campaign associated with this flick. i'm a sucker for conspiracy stories and mysteries and all the buzz on the internet is fascinating but overall just silly. abrams is crazy about leaving a trail of clues as is evident in his tv program. the trailer for the movie - tentatively titled 1-18-08, the date it opens in wide release, and cloverfield, is pretty well done. essentially, it's a monster movie, but the style of filming using hand-held cameras, at least they are used in this trailer, is what got my interest peaked.

check it out. and yes, i'm aware of the irony of posting a trailer for a movie about a monster attacking nyc on the sixth anniversary of 9/11.

or maybe it's not an irony. not meant to be for me at least. it's a movie that simply struck my fancy, and because of the trailer, i'm looking forward to seeing it.

Monday, September 10, 2007

discussing clutter at work, i admit that i'm a pack rat but most of my shit consists of books and discs. asked what kind of books, i answer: poetry, essays, criticism, some fiction, movie guides and all manner of journals, zines and sundry fugitive publications. asked why poetry, i say poetry is language set to its limits, that poems are all at once music and movies and thought and emotion. i catch myself before i go on to lecture that humans are creatures of language and poetry is our summation and action. i shut up

and the silence is everywhere.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

rich sonnet

never to borrow
nor begger be
that wisdom
from gilligan's isle
ok slap my bitch up
i knew show me
the money
would crack them up
it do wah wah diddy
p ain't nothing but
a g thing
but seriously folks
my arm is
cramping up

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

so much to write and read so little fucking time
[sounds like a refrain]

but do please see jonathan hayes' poem here
and ryan eckes as the featured
poet here

some textual creature named richard lopez
creeps somehow into both texts

the weather today would've been called an indian summer the start of autumn the temp. was in the low '90s & there was smoke hanging thick in the air carried over from a nearby brush fire so redolent of the fall in sacramento during the 1970s when the rice fields outside the city would be burned & that thick acrid smoke hugged tightly everything

i'm taken back by that smell the smudgy light & the heat to childhood memories that are so strongly tied to scent

living begins again somehow here interpolated in our elsewhere

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

epistle to thurston


i'ts been a helluva day
if you come
we'll together

have to
settle for
going to the flicks
& watch michael myers do it for me



Monday, September 03, 2007

sometimes i come across a movie that i've never heard of but for its title and subject i take a chance on. this afternoon i picked up for 2 whole bucks an obscure piece of celluloid with the title american drive-in. with a title like that you know i couldn't just pass it up.

so i watched it this evening as nicholas watched a spongebob squarepants disc [i've never watched spongebob before but the cartoon is hilarious]. i didn't expect much, and didn't get much from the movie. it takes place one night at a drive-in called city limits located at the east end of hell. for a plot, lets suppose a gang of greasers wait to attack a girl they fancy. this is supposed to be a comedy but there isn't a laugh to be had within the whole running time.

for all but 3 minutes the entire action takes place inside the drive-in. the denizens compose of an older gay couple, two old biddies in a 1950s-era car that could've come from the set of american graffitti, three hell-raising pre-teens, an out-of-work little person actor who is there to watch himself in the feature film which is titled hard rock zombies [this i understand is a real movie, produced and directed by the same no-name who is responsible for this feature], the young man who is the beau of the young woman the greasers want to bang, an intellectual couple who deconstruct the movie as we watch it, a prostitute who runs her services in an rv on the backside of the drive-in, and the list goes on and on. the director i think was trying for an ensemble cast with a cross-section of society. each frame is packed with people and cars. the soundtrack is horrible '80s synth pop.

for all that i got a kick out the movie. the projectionist is an old drunk who acts as the chorus to the film. at one point he looks at the camera and says, 'i don't know why people rent this junk' by which he means the film itself. the movie was released in 1985. the drive-in theater was pretty much like what is shown in the movie, but by the mid-80s if you wanted to watch idiotic exploitation fare you rented it and drive-in theaters hung on to dear life by trying to go legit by screening first-run stuff.

somehow the movie escaped my notice. and i was renting at that time every kind of bad film imaginable. i was also going to the drive-in a lot. the film must've been straight-to-video fodder whereby i passed it over for some other straight-to-video fodder. it's sorta hard to convey now, but the excitement in those early days of vhs and mom-and-pop video stores, of watching movies in yr own home, man, that was like the best high. if the movie you wanted was out you rented whatever was available. and you - me i mean - rented movies every night.

the stores themselves were small, sometimes dingy, that smelled of popcorn and often with a monitor overhead the cashier running god-knows-what kinda movie. no neon that i can remember but there were often those white light glass balls strung around movie posters. and the horror and porn sections were thick with every sort of movie one can imagine in those genres. i mention those because those were the genres that got a big boost from the age of video. no longer was there a stigma to going to a theater to see those movies. you could surreptitiously rent them and watch them in the privacy of yr own home.

which of course this movie was not about. the movie i watched tonight was not another mid-80s teen comedy. instead it was a vicious little flick that takes a mean turn at the end. the cast of no-names do a game performance. nothing above the level of suck, but even still i quite enjoyed this anti-gem. i could end and say you could do worse than this film, but that would give you the wrong impression. i could do worse than watch this film. that is the highest praise i can bestow. for the rest of you, seek it out and view at yr own peril.