Friday, February 29, 2008

is there no orthodoxy in poetry, whether it be avant or mainstream? and what do those terms mean when it seems there is much cross-pollination thru the web?

today reading a british poet-blogger who wondered aloud if younger poets read both larkin and ginsberg since many writers appear comfortable with both formal writing and experimental practices.

and my gut reaction to that is a resounding yes. at least for me. i've never had difficulty admiring poems by richard wilbur and by jackson mac low. i've no idea what it all means but i find there is so much nourishment to be by enriched that worrying about fitting any sort of conceptions of writing is rather foolish.

i've even come up with my own label which i know sucks but it works just the same: alt-lyric poet. well, why not. if there can be alt-music which is still pop, or alt-cinema which is still moving images on a screen to tell a story, then an alternative lyric writing is possible.

but fuck it. only when one worries about fitting in to this dubious historical era do labels seem to matter. the use of labels for poets is similar to when we learn how to diagram a sentence in grade school. it certainly helps when we are starting to write, but when the rules of grammar and sentence structure are internalized we spend the rest of our lives writing to forget the rules.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

trying to get out of my comfort zone. started a poem with a specific goal in mind rather than let the writing go where it wants to take me, which is usually how i write. got half a poem written in quatrains in the form of a letter to penthouse forum. god knows how it'll turn out, but the goal i have in mind is to write a comic piece. and i mean funny ha ha, rather than funny weird.

back in the '90s when i was just a lad i used to go the local comedy clubs and watch stand-up comics on tv. i tried to learn from comics their techniques in timing and language. i'm convinced still that comedy and poetry are intimately related. listening to a comic who is a master of his/her craft is not unlike listening to a poem. both depend on language and timing and rhythm to succeed. comedy is the familiar made strange. so is poetry. both the poet and the comic rely on the tangential to achieve dislocation. it is that twist in language where the listener/reader, and by extension the comic/poet, think they are on firm ground only to find the ground opens up.

i don't mean poets must be funny like comedians. what i admire about comedians is that they are also in language and use language very similar to how writers use language. but for my poem i am attempting to use comedy. and what i mean by getting out of my comfort zone is to approach writing in a fashion that my not be new but is new enough for me so that maybe i might get that zap and the ground opens up.

strange thing about last night's meteor is that there is no mention of it anywhere. not even as a ufo sighting. it seems i was the only one who saw it. some have suggested that it was a piece of that spy satellite the navy just blew up. could be. who knows. others are wondering if i think i've been abducted, being prepped to return to my kind.

har har har

i witnessed an amazing sight.

i just can't believe i am the only one.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

this could be a poem

the air was clear with a few big clouds hovering on the walk home at a little past 6:00 pm / i was thinking of dinner when i looked up / and i saw it / the biggest freaking meteor i've ever seen / a fireball with a trail of flame / arcing to the ground / it was probably miles and miles away / but it seemed to be just above me / and when it was out of sight / i swear i thought i'd hear / the concussion / from impact

Monday, February 25, 2008

from crumpled notes

dude this morning
in the

w/ his
boom box on

'major tom'
by pete shelley

which was a
very shale

Saturday, February 23, 2008

well, last week was real goofy. spent most of the time, beginning last saturday, with a cold. we all got it, and we all still have vestiges of it. instead of my usual late night writing/reading jags i'd end up falling asleep around 8:30 pm. a couple nights past i even fall asleep, more like passed out, reading the newest new yorker and waking up at 2:30 am not knowing where i was. reminded me a bit of transtromer's poem 'the name' where the speaker wakes up from a nap taken in the backseat of his car not knowing who, what or where he is. so he thrashes around in that void of hell for a few seconds until he remembers his name and the world settles back into that familiar solidity we think we possess.

and so a huge storm is just beginning as i type this. supposed to be huge as we were informed by local news. and i can see the rain coming down in thick sheets and the wind gaining strength and buffeting the house. it is a perfect night to stay home and read and watch movies. i'm rereading, this time very slowly, mccarthy's novel the road, enjoying mccarthy's spare biblical prose. i find much more religious imagery in it now then i did the first go-round. perhaps that's just how i read the book. at any rate, the prose is superb and the story of a man's and his son's work of survival in a dead and predatory world is just up my alley.

and in other news, i'm please to announce the pdf of jonathan hayes's and my chapbook hallucinating california is live. many thanks again to francois luong for hosting it on his servers.

now download and disseminate far and wide. go on now.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

rainy days and mondays always gets me down

well, not really, since i love rainy days. and mondays are nothing but sunday's tomorrows. and it is raining right now. a lovely, light downpour that cleans the air and dusts away the mind's cobwebs. except for i've taken today off from work since i awoke hacking and utterly exhausted from this cold.

so it is a day of rest and recuperation. at least.

i usually don't remember my dreams, but i do remember this one. gold medal olympic swimmer from back in the day and a local hereabouts sometimes mark spitz was expected to show at my work. there was a bit of a buzz thru out the office and my friend p. and i were given an old photo of spitz so we could recognize him. the pic dated from the 1970s when spitz was in his prime. he had his trademark moustache and a thick beard too and dressed in a lumberjack shirt. alex gildzen was with us and anxiously awaiting spitz arrival. and then. . .i don't know. i woke up and that's the end of the dream.

what does it mean? certainly alex is in my thoughts. and spitz? maybe it has something to do with watching make me a supermodel on the bravo channel last night. we watched the top 15 minutes before we turned the tv off. it seems so silly, such preening and ego-tripping just for the chance to prance around in clothes. which is quite unlike project runway which anna and i, or at least just me, have become reluctant fans. runway is about the development of the creative process and altho there's a lot of ego-tripping there too, the designers are using their minds and muscles to create ravishing works. if i don't understand those works, it is just as well. i'm sure the designers would scratch their heads over the poems i love.

but back to supermodel. the spitz connection just might be this: when i was in my early 20s i dated a girl whose hairdresser thought i, yes me, should become a model. so a session was arranged with mark spitz's sister who was/is a local modeling agent. instead of killing that idea dead as i should have right when it was brought up, i went to the session. and somewhere around here are a few contact sheets of me looking bewildered and utterly silly. i shit you not.

relating that story just brought on a hacking jag. now i need to cleanse the palate by watching cannibal holocaust and taking a long nap.

Monday, February 18, 2008

what i should be doing is getting some rest. we've a holiday - presidents' day, a combination of both george washington's and abe lincoln's birthdays - and we have the day off. after a bit of cleaning the garden i'm feeling rather pooped, as is anna and nicholas. we all have a cold now, and my head feels like an over-inflated balloon and my energy level is that of a dead 9 volt battery.

instead i just read a really good book by swedish poet lars palm: mindfulness. i sort of expected a series of poems about buddha nature and such. rather palm's poems are iterations on the same theme with subtle variations of the poems structure. these are 20 line poems each with their own titles, and upon first look they seem to be the same poem. but here i guess is where 'mindfulness' comes into play. read the poems carefully and what you'll find is a playfulness in regard to syntax and diction. what appears to be the same are often quite dissimilar in tone and meaning. perhaps it is about buddhism after all. one of the first things, i think, one learns in buddhist practice is to carefully pay attention.

9 bows to francois luong who is set to host the pdf of hayes' and mine split chap hallucinating california on his blowfish zine. we are also about to go to print with the chap. i'll put a link up when the chap goes live.

thank you francois.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

anna and i both caught nicholas's cold. so we are both holed up with our respective blankies and i'm feeling like a fat, fat pig cuz i just tried to eat a big honking piece of cherry pie that i shouldn't have. oh god, it hurts!

ernesto tagged me but instead of listing the books i'm reading, which i just did a few posts back, i'll begin with a short list of blogs i've been returning the past few week to that i've not linked. and i'll make the list with the name of the blogger rather than the name of the blog, okay.


ryan daley

rodney koeneke

reb livingston

francois luong

chris piuma

claire becker

chris tonelli

magdalena zurawski/kathryn l. pringle

tyler carter

catalin kaser

cds i'm currently obsessed with

neon bible by the arcade fire

10 years by armin van buuren

drukqs by aphex twin

damaged by black flag

split by lush

dvds in my collection that i've yet to watch


big doll house

the libertine

incident at loch ness

gone in 60 seconds ['70s original]

survival of the dragon

amityville horror 4 - the evil escapes

sleepy hollow high


mishima - a life in 4 chapters

[keep in mind most of these films i've seen before many, many times. some were simply cheepies found in bargain bins.]


[okay, i watch tv. probably a lot, but sure as hell not a whole lot. i don't have favorite tv shows. at least nothing that gets me to set my watch so i can see them. but if i'm around the tv when the following shows are broadcast, then hell yes, i'll say these are my faves.]

ufo files

anthony bourdain: no reservations

london ink [when it was on. it is no longer broadcast.]


wire in the blood [when it is broadcast on bbcamerica. and i will set my watch to this show. it is bar none one of the very best crime dramas on television.]

* * *

there you have it. consider yourself tagged.

Friday, February 15, 2008

below is probably the best known scene from lost highway. it is the scene at andy's [later killed by pete (balthazar getty)] party where fred [bill pullman] meets the mystery man [robert blake]. i've must've watched this clip about a half dozen times. i admire the way lynch sets the scene and has the background music fade when the two meet. it is so like a man facing his singular obsession in the flesh. i don't know how else to describe it.

perhaps the mystery man is indeed fred's anger, murderous rage and jealosy. consider how renee and andy flirt right in front of fred just before the mystery man appears. and that the mystery man is both in front of fred and also at fred's house, where the mystery man claims he was invited, that he becomes the physical focus of fred's desire, rage and jealosy, which for fred began in the home he created with renee. so it seems natural that the mystery man was indeed invited by fred into their home, and that is where he'll stay. it is an absolutely fascinating and brilliant piece by a master filmmaker, david lynch.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

lost highway

i don't know why it's taken me 10 years to see this film. the novelist david foster wallace wrote a good, longish piece about being on the set of david lynch's film which was published in wallace's essay collection a supposedly fun thing i'll never do again that i had read when that essay was first printed in a now-defunct movie magazine back in the mid-'90s. that's the thing about time i guess. i'm always picking up books or having the intention to watch films when they are released then realize that by the time i get to watching or reading them years have passed, and not the few months that it seemed to be.

so anyway, i watched this movie last night quite by accident. i turned the channel to ifc just as the starting credits were rolling. and sometimes, joel, you have to say, what the fuck.

visually arresting, with an unusual score of ambient sounds, lou reed, david bowie and the cocteau twins, the film is rather a non-story about a jazz musician who kills his wife. all the characters, played by bill pullman/balthazar getty, patricia arquette, robert blake, and robert loggia each have their doubles and often portray their characters with a dislocating lack of affect and a haunting violence. each person also has their double so that it seem that pullman/getty are the same person, as well as arquette who plays the cool, affectless wife, renee, and also the moll who's into kinky sex, alice. loggia is the gangster who seems to own alice as both the hyper-violent mr eddy and dick laurent.

so much for linear interpretation. it's nearly impossible to watch/read this movie without thinking in freudian, or lacanian as one critic frames an essay about highway, terms. in fact the character the mystery man played by blake appears to demand psychoanalysis. surely, the mystery man is the ego of pullman who later retreats from his crimes of killing both his wife and mr eddy/laurent.

and yet sometimes lynch's villains are very real and not the figment of a diseased mind. consider bob from lynch's tv series and film version of twin peaks. bob was a real malevolent spirit who did serious damage. so who is the mystery man? consider there is a scene near the end when alice and getty's character pete, who i think is indeed the figment of pullman's guilty conscious, fuck in the sand as 'the song to the siren' by the cocteau twins play. pete says, 'i want you' and when finished alice says, 'you can never have me', then disappears into the bungalow where both pete and alice are awaiting to fence some stolen items taken from yet another of alice's lovers who pete had just killed. pete thinks he's rescuing a damsel in distress but when he gets up off the sand he has turned back to pullman's character fred. remember fred was married to renee, now alice, and with whom he was sitting in a jail cell on death row for renee's murder. to get the point here, as fred walks into the bungalow he finds the mystery man with a video camera pointed at fred. he asks the mystery man, 'where is alice'? the mystery man says, 'her name is renee. and you, who the fuck are you'?!

by which we don't have the answer. who the fuck is anybody. yet, i can imagine the frustration made by this film on a lot of viewers because it does lack a linear narration. because lynch populated his movie with a lot of dream logic. because lynch refuses a system of relative easy classifications.

there is another scene i find haunting. after pete murders alice's lover andy - and the murder is designed and orchestrated by alice - he feels sick and asks to go to the bathroom. it is in this scene i think we find evidence of pullman's guilt for killing renee/alice. lynch explodes the score with a song by the german metal band ramstein as pete's eyesight is blitzkried by what i can only describe as hyper-kinetic video, his view is dessicated by blurs and freezing frames. pete opens the door to the bathroom to blood-red lighting he finds the raven-haired renee [alice is blonde] being fucked doggy-style. renee says, 'don't you want to talk to me. don't you wanna ask "whyyyy"'? the question she interpolates is both i think about her hyper-sexuality which in turn relates to her infidelity that had i think led fred to murder her.

it's a brilliant scene among a series of brilliant set pieces. and that is what lynch has achieved, a piece of cinema that is the sum of its parts. whether we are supposed to read this movie as a hard fact, a record of some seriously disturbed people much in the way of lynch's earlier blue velvet, or deep investigation of the shattered psyche of a condemned man is open to the interpretation for each viewer. what filmmaker david lynch has created is an unforgettable movie. i just can't believe i've waited 10 years to finally see it.

wish you were here

staying home today because nicholas caught a little bug. coughing jags and rhuemy-eyed nicholas is doing okay tho to try to keep an active 3-year-old in bed to get rest is like, in the phrase of maxwell perkins on editing thomas wolfe's ginormous novel, putting a corset on an elephant.

and but so going round blogland a bit i find some posts about how crappy the weather is, because it's winter in the u.s. and it tends to get blustery and snowy and shit everywhere it seems but here. because here it is sunny and warm with just a few clouds in the sky. the air is clear and clean and if you have a mind to, the mind turns to the garden and planting and clearing and cleaning. because it is warm and sunny, see.

i want to say na-na-na but that's simply braggadacio and unseemly. you could move here because here is probably a bit cheaper but probably not much or maybe not at all than there and it is right now sunny and warm and the garden needs planting.

momma mia

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

this just in from richard hansen

Raul Salinas passed away last night...

"Words, sounds, speech, men, memory, thought, fears and emotions, -time - all related...all made from one..all made in one" - JohnColtrane

Elder statesmen, Xicanindio leader, poet of the people, giver of hopeto the oppressed and incarcerated, Raul Salinas passed away last nightin Austin, Tejaztlan.

Raul will be greatly missed. His work, poetry, and philosophy will live on in the good works of poets, artists, musicians and culturalcentros throughout America. His spirit we lead us all and help us tosurvive and thrive in difficult times.

His words/poems should serve as maps for us all in our quest to keepculture, heritage and tradition alive in our barrios, cul de sacs, suburbs, ranchos...wherever you/we live.

Thank you, Raul. You have blessed us all.

Manuel Diosdado Castillo, Jr.San Anto Cultural Arts

an obit can be found here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Monday, February 11, 2008

from the back row comes a question

if your not
serious why bother

on the matter of the human comedy

it takes a serious pratfall

why so serious

it's so damn funny

Sunday, February 10, 2008

playing at the exploratorium in sf as the old man looks on

nicholas looking out the window. the picture within the picture on the right is me and anna taken in trafalgar square in '02.

sometimes it doesn't get any better than today and yesterday. the weather is so very like spring, sunny and in the high 60s, that just driving around with the windows open to the sun and air is a restorative. this part of california usually gets a taste of spring in february and i am grateful for it.

in other news check out guillermo parra's blog as he translates opinion pieces by two young venezuelan poets willy mckey and santiago acosta, editors of the new journal el salmon.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

here's a medicine for melancholy

please read john forbes' poem

dean martin's definition of happiness

because i like to read other poet-bloggers' reading lists
i'm gonna do the same
so here's a short of list of books
and one cd i've been imbibing lately

damn the caesars vol. iii ed. by richard owens - with work by bill griffiths, thom donovan, dale smith, rachel levitsky and a host of others

expensive magic by cedar sigo - poems

writing down the days by martin stannard - poems

conversations with myself by martin stannard -reviews and notes

nemesis by lew daly - poems

the sense record by jennifer moxley - poems

prau by jean vengua - poems

no other way by charles north - essays and reviews

kevin is running late today but will be in by kevin thurston - cd

beyond terror: the films of lucio fulci by stephen thrower - criticism

7 tattoos by peter trachtenberg - memoir

speaking of tattoos you know how much i like ink
so lately i've been grooving on the work of french artist
yann black who has a style that is reminiscent of
the visual style of the film the nightmare before christmas
but there is something about black's delicate drafting
in black line even if the images are grotesque and simply drawn

see for yourself right here

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

at his blog ryan daley responds to a comment i made re: translation.

as i say in my comment i am mono-lingual. however, i recall coming across a sound file of osip mandelstam reading his poems a few years ago. i don't know russian, and i only know mandelstam thru translation. and yet, i sat there listening this master read in a language i don't know and was moved beyond words. and it was that precise tone and manner that captivated me.

i remember some debate i had read about re: pure and impure language and poetry. i think the debate was had back in the last turn of the century. however, i thought that was nonsense since language itself is an impure medium. in other words, language changes over time. its meaning and even spellings morph. consider the slang you spoke as a teenager, and listen to the slang spoken by the teenagers today. it's different, like totally, no.

so poetry is in itself continuously translating meaning, event, thought and feelings. to be even more literal, translations of writing have been extremely important to me as a writer and as a reader. esp. as a reader. e.g. last week i got the urge to look up what i could on the mid-20th century czech poet jiri orten. there's little of orten in english but i am grateful for that little that is. are the translation of orten's poems precise? i can't say since i'm unable to read the originals, but i hazard that they are not.

they are poems tho, and poetry is not what gets lost in translation. poetry i suppose if i were to take sides regarding that silly debate of pure v. impure, is rather impure. poetry is slippery and protean. it takes and takes to give of itself. and its sources are various. poetry is impure because it is about serendipity and fortuitous accidents. luck plays an enormous part too. but thru discipline the poet can perhaps develop luck. i'm interested in the interstices, those places between meanings and languages. i'm interested in a poem becomes a poem rather than mere words on the page/screen. we begin at translation because that is where we find language.

Monday, February 04, 2008

the bridge

watching it
tonight i was

how human
suffering often manifests

fanfare or
sets of rehearsals

the person
beside you thinks

feels yes
feels that pushing

door out
is done by

irrevocable leap
off the bridge

i'm feel
ing pix
al ate d

Sunday, February 03, 2008

richard and rachel hansen publishers of the micro-press poems-for-all series celebrate the 13th anniversary of their indie bookstore the book collector. richard reminds us of the precarious state of the indies and exhorts us to buy a book you bastards!

Friday, February 01, 2008

i got sucked into watching the season premier of lost last night. didn't mean to since i think the show is too much tease and too little pay-off. but it is compelling storytelling. so anna and i watched an hr recap of the previous seasons as the story thus far was narrated. then came the premier, an hr's worth intrigue and mystery. and at the end of the hr of my life i lost watching this tv program i said aloud, that's it?

oh well. i've lost my will to give a shit.