Saturday, February 27, 2010

ink in middle age
for jean vengua

drift thru the swift current like an anomaly of spirit

thinking yr tough begets the rough like watching enter the dragon

for the 15th time and just try to do a dropkick that pulls

you by the balls oh the comedy of age

tethered to an ipod the strut inspired by the cure’s ‘just like heaven'

Thursday, February 25, 2010

because sometimes the moment needs
a little late '80s neo-hippie vibe

the buttercup grill & bar couplets

some places are so retro they might be mistaken for trendy
in grease with menu so ancient one can order a plate of calf liver

grilled it says so to perfection or purr like a feline
where the average age was tipped just under ancient

a place where depends adult daipers and breathing apparatuses
multiply like the rotting corpses of the morti viventi

it happened eating here i found my double only much older
i think much older just the same wore his white hair like mine

thick black clunky glasses same build even same shirt down
to the pattern he was so serious quiet studious like a monk

in his cell but seriously funny the muzak called for solemnity
and a plain expression that i couldn't hack no more

it was anna who brought our twinned lives to my attention
when she whispered to me that i was him or him me

maybe bukowski or ginsberg could've made something out
of it but for all i could do was suppress an urge to laugh

and say yeah i could see me in a few decades eating
in a booth beside a wall of peeling paint

writing poems to the beat of muzak
digging every minute of it

with or without companion
staring into space too sober to be so stoned

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

i don't know what it is but. . .

from silliman's links i find amy king is asking who are the most innovative poets. king got a lot of responses. the question is useful but doesn't it all boil down to naming our favorite poets? what's the criteria for innovative writing? ain't it like asking who are the hardest rocking bands now? sure, i can list hard rocking bands but my list would be what i think these bands might be and so my list would be about my favorite bands.

what do i know anyway? i try to eschew such classifications myself even if my ears are cocked toward what i think is experimental writing. i was just reading a short essay by a young poet, will grofic, that i just ran across thru my surfing the aether, why write poetry? grofic's post is unrelated to king's query but grofic is a young poet just beginning who is trying to situate himself in the totality of the history of writing. which is a reason for list-making, a defining of the times and our places in history.

these are daunting tasks. an exhaustive list of innovative writing would be vast and each name is mumbled among the seas of our poetries. much like grofic's wondering how to write well and why write at all when we will mostly likely be writing to and perhaps for oblivion.

as for poetries i don't know what it is but i like it. i try to make my own definitions but often fail miserably. as another poet, steven waling, just wrote about his own practice, just follow your nose. that i try to do all the time. my tastes range from this to that and all in between. whenever i attempt any sort of definitions for anything i fail. we all probably do, and hope that we fail better for the tasks we make.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

things to do this summer by nicholas lopez
[transcribed by his old man]

go to funderland


water balloon fights


visit the white-tipped
fin shark at the o st aquarium


go to the drive-in movies


travel to sweden


go to the state fair


play date with james


fireworks on the 4th of july


visit a waterpark


go to james' birthday party
at the folsom aquatic center


go to the lavender festival


ride rollercoasters


visit the zoo


visit the monterey bay aquarium


go to muir beach


get a goldfish and name him shiny


look at dolphins


go pick blueberries


go to the county fair


have a bbq

Saturday, February 20, 2010

sittin' around / doing nothing

but for a purpose. we have satellite tv, and two of the receivers went on the blink, so in recompense the satellite tv provider offered to install hdtv w/ dvr. we bought an flatscreen hdtv a few months ago. now i'm sitting while the technician installs these marvels. if only we got a cell phone and ipod we'd fully enter the 21st century.

life goes on, as you know.

in the meantime, been googling aussie poet sarah k bell. she's terrific. for example, dig this piece. bell also maintains a blog, said the sparrow to the horse, but which goes for weeks without an update. what's up with that, ms bell? please post more often, okay?


Friday, February 19, 2010

this means nothing to me

for no other reason but that this haunting song by ultravox rocks

there used to be a tv show called, if i remember correctly, videowest backstage pass, a precurser to mtv

this must've been around 1979 or 1980

i saw a live performance of this song by ultravox

maybe this live performance and was entranced and haunted and i've never forgotten it

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

the tao of the vcr
for ernesto priego

Popped the tape and the world exploded

The film was a *classic* of cinema

The student and the teacher locked into

A symbiosis of flesh that death

Couldn’t know a woman trapped

For an answer sex is life

Sex is the coronation of an event

That opens a vein and stumbles upon

The last road to hell

on the eye-popping experience
of watching a tape of the porno chic
classic the devil in miss jones
on a betamax

quote unquote

How the Zen Master Got through Airport Security

“Did you pack your own bags?”


“Have your bags been under your control?”


Surely it is a problem of translation. The agent produces a laminated card with two dozen scripts. “Which language do you understand the question in?” He studies the card with great concentration before looking up.

All of them.

--andrew schelling

Monday, February 15, 2010

very nearly spring

it was like proserpina visited northern california a bit early. but as usual for this time of year we get a few days of warm, sunny weather. we kept busy, stunned as we are still by hugo's death. we worked cleaning the garden all day yesterday until our muscles ached and our spirits emptied. we didn't know the negation of hugo would become, as donne said, a luminous absence. he was a large personality, often aggravating to the point of seeing red [hugo had a nasty book habit. he was not a book reader; he was a book eater], but one that makes the world for us poorer for him no longer being in it.

the day demanded a quick road trip and as it was a holiday we decided to take nicholas to muir woods. after a couple of missteps that took us thru both san anselmo [we passed by the college of marin which i pointed out to no one interested is the school that the current u.s. poet laureate, kay ryan, teaches] and marin we managed to get to mill valley and hwy 101. it was thick with traffic and the parking spaces for the entrance to muir woods were all taken. seems everyone also had the same idea.

i prepared myself for a bit of aggravation, or so i thought, by rereading a few poems by jaan kaplinski, an estonian buddhist. i don't like crowds. they try my patience. yet the dappled northern california light on utterly transforming beauty of the redwoods helped. we looked for the famed banana slugs but they were all hiding, it seemed, under leaf mold and tree bark. nicholas was pleased just the same to find a clutch of lady bugs and a grey-colored beetle that was unknown to us.

nicholas had a blast finding every pile of mud and dirt and jumping directly in them like only a five-year-old can. we had to settle for a t-shirt and a postcard of a banana slug. if it seems we were obsessed with seeing the critters it was because we were. to make the matter even funnier it seemed the gods were teasing us in our frustration for a little banana slug sighting with a sign in the parking lot that told us to watch out for migrating banana slugs because a trail of 19 were found crossing the path in early january.

a quick glance around just in case a banana slug was waving bye-bye before we piled back into the car and took the long road home. the time was late and the crowds dilated just enough for us to have an unremarkable ride back to our house where it remains preternaturally quiet save for the bark that lives in our hearts.

Friday, February 12, 2010

hugo est mort
(2000 -- 2010)

a hole is left in our lives. hugo was a large presence . what a dog. a mixed breed lab/pit bull. after a short illness, very short, hugo shuffled off this mortal coil and barks now only in our memories. and what a bark. the sound shattered the very molecules of the air.

long live hugo. i loved that fucking mutt.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


some put their trust in a round imagination. just going is enough for me.
--rene char

q: if there is no fame, no money, no tangible gain -- why do you continue to write?

a: i write because i am alive and verbal. i write to participate in my creation. i write to participate in this gift: the delight and agony of being.

post-script to 'my beckettian life'

the walk home last night was uneventful but for one incident which is the second time in as many weeks this has happened. i don't know what it is, perhaps i look like a mark, or goofy, or too easy going. what i don't look like is a tough guy, a bruiser, a villain out of a kung fu movie. so there i was trying to cross a busy intersection when across the way was a group of real or wannabe gangsters in a cloacal mass blocking the entrance to the chevron station. finally they parted like the red sea to let a suv in to the station. then the light changed and i started walking across the street. i eyed an opening between the wannabe gangsters when i see one is sizing me up. he stands in my way and as i try to pass he makes a motion for a sucker punch and yells BAM! i jump, grab his arm out of instinct and yell, whoa dude! his friends crack up and that was that. i was more startled than angry nor did feel i was in any real danger. as i walked home i was thinking of an incident i'd read about samuel beckett. that he was randomly attacked and stabbed one night on a paris street and was seriously wounded. rather than becoming morose or getting angry at his attacker beckett took an amused detachment. in my reading of the incident i pictured the great old writer processing the attack as he did with language with parries and jabs and retreats and always with humor, mostly black humor, but his language is nearly always funny. thus i began the poem before i opened the door to my home.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

my beckettian life

give me a break
miracle of survival?
some chumps
in a clump
clog as it were
the scene make no
pass as i attempt
to pass or rather
parry the fake
jab and roar
of one coked-up
bum crossed
between here
and my way

                6:20 pm

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


richard lopez loves long walks, short piers and small hands.

spread the word

Continuing Availability: Jim McCrary's All That

This collection of chapbooks, McCrary’s first full-length book, spans over twenty years of the author’s efforts.

Channeling William Carlos Williams, Ed Dorn, Robert Grenier, Joanne Kyger and others on and within the airwaves, McCrary has created a body of poems that snips and snaps, chuckles and guffaws, tugs and strokes, kisses and bites. Steve Tills puts it this way: “Jim has devoted his spirit and heart to pursuits decidedly antithetical to self-aggrandizement. Quietly, he has followed a most courageous lineage of others also both gentle and careful in their approach to telling the truth and making it uniquely compelling. You’ll sometimes recognize that lineage when you take up All That. You’ll frequently marvel at the quiet, substantive authenticity McCrary has achieved in the sometimes lonesome but always deeply communal turns his truly individuated, unequivocally human poeming has taken.”

Or as K. Silem Mohammad puts it: “Out of the wild Kansas plains comes a howling wind, and in that wind is a howling wolf, and in that wolf is a howling lamb, and in that lamb is a Russian doll with another Russion doll inside it, and inside that one another one, and inside that one a plastic pill bottle because one of the dolls got broken, and in that bottle one last Russian doll, and in that last doll another howling wind–and here we go all over again. Somewhere in there, probably around the first wind and the wolf, is the poetry of Jim McCrary, which is really really really really good.”

All That

Including interview excerpt with Tom Beckett
171 pp.
ISBN-13: 978-0-9798478-0-6


ManyPenny Press

1111 E. Fifth St.



$15.95 + $3 postage

Make checks payable to Crag Hill

Bookstores should contact Crag Hill at to arrange for discounts.

If you would like to order on-line,
go to:

[ripped from crg hill's poetry scorecard]

Monday, February 08, 2010

porno koan

what is the sound of one hand typing

Sunday, February 07, 2010

the word as archipelago

i'd rather watch the puppy bowl on animal planet channel than watch the superbowl but we are doing neither. it is a beautiful day. big, silvery clouds punctuated by golden shafts of sunlight, after a rainy saturday, warmish, thoughts turn to spring and we all have a touch of spring fever.

so instead we headed to the farmers' market located under the freeway on x st and loaded up on citrus fruits and root vegetables and a clutch of tulips. as one would suspect on superbowl sunday the crowds were light. a perfect day to head off to the bookstores.

haven't been to a bookstore alone in some time. i went to town. had a credit at an indie bookstore and a gift certificate for a commercial shop. and i bought these.

metapolitics by alain badiou [verso, 2005]

first as tragedy, then as farce by slavoj zizek [verso, 2009]

columbia poetry review #22

american hybrid ed. by cole swensen and david st. john [norton, 2009]

the balloonist by eula biss [hanging loose press, 2002]

ufo religions ed. by christopher partridge [routledge, 2003]

it takes one to know one by michael lally [black sparrow press, 2001]

trashfiend by scott stine [headpress, 2009]

yeah sure, lists of books bought might be boring as a post but man i like reading them and i like the variety of these books. the last on the list is a book on collecting 1960s and 1970s horror movie memorabilia and the book edited by partridge won me over because of an essay about the history of ufo's in finland. so there. it has turned into a lovely evening and it is time to watch a little scooby-doo with nicholas.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Rose Hobart*

Glass as varied time as if the moment criss-crossed

Details of images launched at silent speed and the blue tint

Of smoke the lunar eclipse of rock splashing into the pond

Concentric then to be forgotten the wrap-around view

Of the city on a platter understanding the breadth of it

For a smile nervous laughter and a long cigarette

Attendant of the frames the confusion of the noise

Were it matter nothing lasts fade to black

b-movie queen of the 1930s and ’40s. subject of a film
by joseph cornell.

Friday, February 05, 2010

our age

poet/blogger adam fieled posted 5 questions re: poetry and the 21st century. pithy and succinct these queries are. i think we as we live in and thru our new age are developing a new poetics that is anchored with the internet. we are still developing yet it is instructive to ask what these new poetics might be. is it more open, less dependant on universities [as i sure hope so, not because academe is bad for poetry but that poetry and its practitioners make for a healthier eco-system because of variety of experiences and working lives]. however you answer fieled's questions one thing for sure is that the internet, online poetics to use a phrase by jim mccrary, makes this an exciting time to be a poet.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

the hurt locker [2008]

funny that has the year for this flick as 2008 yet it was released last year and is up, as most everyone knows by now, for a few oscars. perhaps it did come out in 2008. there was only a very limited run at the local arthouse then it went pooft into the aether only to land into the laps of reverent and clamorous critics giving this movie every bit of praise that can be dreamed up between the screening room and the fingers hitting the keyboards.

perhaps 2009 was a paltry year for films which makes the hurt locker the critics' darling. not that this is a bad movie. director kathryn bigelow [a piece of trivia: she is the ex-wife of that other director who made the world's biggest grossing film ever, to date, and is up for a few academy awards himself, guess who that might be] is an immensely talented filmmaker. i've been a fan of her work for many moons now. she made the revisionist splatter/biker/white-trash vampire flick near dark [1987] that is so goddamned good that it makes all these rather fey vampires of today look like sissies.

which they are. notable exceptions noted of course. this is an intense movie, superbly directed, with gorgeous photography and crisply edited. the acting for the most part is nearly up to the level of bigelow's talent. almost. the lead character, a bomb diffuser, played by an almost local boy, he's from modesto which ain't too far from where i sit now typing, jeremy renner is addicted to the adrenaline rush of combat. he's cool under pressure but outside the kill zone he's wild as fuck. and his wildness, as essayed by renner, rings hollow. renner cowboys up too hard and it looks like he's acting rather than being the character. his body movement and his voice sound false. he seems too passive to be acting so aggressive and so makes up for it by being as over the top as he possibly can.

renner is a good actor. i've seen him play the lead in dahmer [2002] where renner's passivity is made up so creepily good in a character that is lost in a psychotic fantasy world of his own making. and i've seen renner portray another soldier in 28 weeks later [2007] which capitalizes on his strengths. but for this flick renner is stumbling toward a psychosis that never seems authentic. he's playing gung-ho crazy like it was another person's idea of gung-ho crazy.

plus the movie is so intense that it becomes monotonous, nearly washed out, almost grey. by the third act my attention began to flag. yeah, yeah, war is hell, it is an addiction, it will get you killed, yadda yadda yadda. not that the movie lacks realism. several set pieces work extraordinarily well. and there's a scene where renner's character heads to the camp's showers still dressed in battle gear after a very grueling mission and we see the blood and sand wash from his clothes and down the drain. damn that was a good scene.

perhaps it's because i'm pissed. the very charge levelled at my favorite movie of last year, which was also made in 2008 but not released until '09, the road, is that the monotony of grim intensity made the viewing unbearable and thus boring is the same quality i found in the hurt locker. only for me the movie version of cormac mccarthy's book was populated by two idiomatic characters who sere into your grey matter. that movie got fuck-all of a distribution and was roundly ignored by the movie-going public.

i wish kathryn bigelow the best and as for the oscars i hope she gets one. she really is that good of a director. bigelow has made only a handful of films ranging from the exciting to the sublime. and i wish jeremy renner more interesting projects to come his way. the technique and overall execution of the hurt locker is first-rate. there are some haunting set pieces that will have you replay them over in your head again and again. there is no big but as tho this movie does not deserve its accolades because it does. i was just whelmed with the experience of watching it and almost fell asleep near the end. the intensity is exhausting but not because it feels like you've run a marathon and your heart is racing and you feel so alive. it is exhausting because that intensity becomes monotonous. if one were to make a simple graph of this flick it would be a single straight line.

quote unquote

What draws me to psychedelics -- though it's rare that I actually ingest any -- is the same thing that draws me to poetry: a hunger for beauty, a compelling desire to encounter the Other, and a fascination about what lies beneath the skin of thought.

--steve venright

Monday, February 01, 2010


i will be tattooed
have limbs of gold
be idle and brutal
be the oldest greyest
catankerous mother
fucker that ever did
have a drunken
sleep on the beach