Wednesday, June 30, 2010

alex gildzen's bookshelves

I've always liked this portrait R. B. Sprague took of me in my study.

I've always been surround'd by books. actor Kevin McCarthy took this of me in the livingroom of my Twin Lakes house way back in 1976.

another old photo.....

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

quote unquote

When I remember that small, changing society of holidays and weekends, I picture a great communal embrace. For what is the point of a holiday if we cannot carry it back into working days? There is no good reason why that hedonistic and communal love of the Geysers could not be extended to the working life of the towns. Unless it is that human beings contain in their emotions some homeostatic device by which they must defeat themselves just as they are learning their freedom.

--thom gunn

there ain't no cure for the summertime blues

--eddie cochran

Sunday, June 27, 2010


it's been a long, cold, wet spring. today was the first day of triple digit temperatures. the sky was ruddy and the sierra nevada mountain range, tho still packed with winter snow, was invisible hiding as they were behind and beneath a scrim of smog. we went up the hill anyway, to apple hill, a sequence of wineries and orchards nestled at the bottom of the sierra nevada to pick blueberries.

call it a stereotype. call it what you will. but if you are, or happen to be in love with, a swedish person you will experience that peculiar swedish need to pick berries. i understand swedes in the motherland drive in the countryside with empty baskets just in case a promising bush steers into view. all hands on deck the swede will pull to the side of the road, pick up the basket and head into the interior ready to find the most ripe, the most luscious, the most mouthwatering grip of berries to be found on earth.

it's no exception in california. apple hill also is home to a couple of blueberry farms. the bloobs come into season late june and the season lasts for just a few weeks. blueberries require hot, dry weather to ripen into fullness. the bloobs on the bushes today needed a couple more weeks of hot dry weather to fully ripen. instead of berries leaping off the plants and into our buckets like they did last year, we must search a bit harder for the purple ones.

berry picking requires a patience and an aptitude for manual labor. even if one is possessed of both qualities it is damn hard to maintain one's composure when the temperature is at 11:00 am 88 degrees f. it's going to be a hot fucking day. it was. the crickets were chirring in the tall grass. but even they gave a sound of indolence that said, it's too damn hot even for love. we picked nearly 3 lbs of berries before sweating to a stop. nicholas was in full swing and found the farm's cat, all plump and mewing, ready for a round of petting. we did what we could, paid for our lot, and left, rounding out the rest of this very hot day at the local pool where we met up with our very good friends, b., s., and their boy, j. the rest, as they say, was a wash.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

quote unquote

I’ve always leaned more toward a punk taoism myself

--kevin opstedal

Thursday, June 24, 2010

quote unquote

i love you
i love you
i love you

but i love rock&roll
more than i love you

--zombina and the skeletones

it came from lawrence!!!
mccrary's bookshelves

tooks some pics of desk and shelfs. Iris the cat is sleeping on pile of Andre Codrescu's and Laura Rothenthal's Exquisiste Corpse which I used to publish in. Near pile of Dorn and new Crag Hill. Other side I was organizing stuff (again). Just found a stash of Brautigan paperbacks with which I think is iconic cover from 60['s with his girlfriends portraits. Also recent stuff from Eileen Tabios and beautiful and smart new hand printed broadside from fellow Lawrencian Megan Kaminski.



Monday, June 21, 2010

the crawling walls of the backroom!!!
for john b-r

there is another shelf on the far right
chock full of dvds

because the backroom is also my screening room

these shelves are on the opposing wall

a panoramic view of the above bookcases

the bookcase on the far right of the above

most of my small-press stuff including my own chaps are stored in cabinets right below these bookcases and there is also an amoir that houses more small-press pubs and chaps and electronic equipment

and there are also a whole shitload of dvds stored in a cabinet right below the bookcase pictured above

the dining room and the front room has more shelves stuffed with books and each bedroom too

that's not including the shit i've placed in storage containers out in the shed and in the basement

Sunday, June 20, 2010

after milosz

let us begin as this is so late
perhaps he could do nothing else
but maybe cook a little meth
make a still for corn liquor

who knows how his absent-mindedness
bugged the shit out of friends family and neighbors
could it be otherwise this foundling
without a foothold in this world

very well let us go visit the poet
at his job at the drive-in projection booth
cramped upon his broken plaid la-z-boy
scratching his verses on his knees

in summertime ink smudged in smoke
and sweat a bottle of bud on the table
and a novel by ed wood jr
used as a stop to keep the door open

Saturday, June 19, 2010

riding the walls

todd colby posted a photo of his bike -- link is here, don't want to rip colby's pic without his say-so. what i'm doing is looking not at the bicycle but the stuffed bookshelves. very few things i like more than a room packed with books. when i go to some one's house i can't help but scan the bookshelves. i'm sure i'm not alone. i recall catching a poet friend scanning my own shelves when i went to get us a couple of beers. the same goes for movies. shelves bulging with dvds and videocassettes seriously gets me right in the woozy. i'm looking at the spines of the books and the font of the titles. hits me right here every time.

Friday, June 18, 2010

graduation day

tonight nicholas graduated from preschool. next fall he is an official kindergartner. papers signed and records checked. he's a big boy now. the graduation ceremony was adorable. the children dressed in caps and gowns and got diplomas. afterwards there was cake, punch and goody bags for the kids to take home.

it couldn't be a more beautiful night. there is a strong breeze and the temperature is very cool, chilly in fact, which is rather unusual for this time of year. usually for early summer the days and nights are a series of very hot dry heat. normally the air is still and the only sounds one hears in the varied neighborhoods, other than the electric whirr of crickets, are air conditioners.

there we were, the parents, sitting in chairs so tiny that it made the seats in coach on airlines seem luxurious. the graduating class was lined up and ready to take the stage, make-shift as an outdoor stage can be. then, blam! nicholas was clutching the side of his neck. at first we thought it was an irritation caused by the tassel. nope. some bug either bit him or stung him. either way it hurt nicholas like hell. there were tears. and there were recriminations against a bug behaving in such a manner.

cake soothed the hurt, a bit. then it was off to vic's ice cream, an old neighborhood creamery in business for over 60 years. the celebration was in full throttle. vic's is an old school ice cream shop. dinner tonight was had by the scoop. the sugar rush hit everyone hard.

i needed real food. something to chew on. when we got home and nicholas was checking out his loot via the goody bag i went to trader joe's and loaded up on veggies, bananas [a staple in casa del bronson/lopez] and other goodies. the air was cool and soft. northern california has this light, beautiful, hazy light, that renoir and other impressionists would have killed for. this light is the feeling of home. that if we lived anywhere else on earth and we came back to northern california in either fall or summer the light would bring everything back that makes us us. wherever one is raised is the template that the environment is measured and for anna and me it is this light by which we score our lives.

poems should be written about this light. but then it must've been the high from the graduation ceremony and the cake and ice cream, the cool, soft air and that dazzling light that the woman ringing up my purchases at trader joe's made me laugh so hard. the soundtrack at th stores was from the 1980s. acts like abc, devo, chaka khan, had everyone in the aisles singing along. i told the young woman at the check-out that i liked the music. it makes me feel like i'm in high school again. me too, she said. she had this very blunt way of talking that was fast and funny. i liked her immediately. she asked if i watched today's world cup match. i told here i only listened to the bbc on the radio and understood that the contest was quite the disappointment. indeed it was, she corroborated. then she told me her girlfriend played in the world cup for the irish team. told me her name and said, i didn't know about her until i googled her name. you do that too. i was cracking up because the way she talked about her partner and how watching the world cup in her house is an intense affair. and the fact that this woman, the checker's girlfriend, was quite a big star in the world of sport and that she didn't know until after a couple of years together. all this, the sugar high, nicholas passage from preschool to kindergarten, the cool, soft air and this light caught me hard as i was listening to this young woman tell me about her partner's playing for ireland. i left the store again in love, again with life.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

brief essay on symmetry

loading our trays at the salad bar nicholas looks at the chunks of tofu and says can i have some

i pile it on and put the ladle down

can i have that one asks nicholas

which one i reply

that one

i make an attempt

no no no that one

i try again

no no no THAT ONE

anna says let me have a try

yes that's the one grins nicholas

later anna tells me how she knew which one it was


because it was the piece that was perfectly square

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

on being an [early] geezer

i think many of us have old souls and might feel older than our years. i don't necessarily mean that the body aches, creaking joints and an overall cranky disposition are symptoms of having an old soul. they might be. then again, some of us try to prolong our youth for as long as we are able to.

doesn't matter, i suppose. even when i was young i thought i was old. or at least older. not that i felt i was an old man at say age 25. just older than my age allowed. not that that imparted wisdom or humility or even say a companionable grumpiness. just an old soul.

i've always been a late bloomer. in everything. what can i say. it happens. now that i am indeed getting older and starting to look the part i still feel that i'm just beginning. i recall in my late teens and early 20s admiring the shaggy grey hair and beard of jerry garcia. that dude was beyond youth culture and looked old at a relatively early age. the effect was a timelessness.

and thom gunn went the opposite route, effectively looking like a biker all his life. still, gunn, i think didn't hide his age so that when he indeed hit is advancing years he looked, to me at least, as cool and timeless as the fonz was thought to be.

shit. so it was at a very early age when i decided to ignore the artificial constructs of the barriers between generations. they don't matter. at all. there is you. there is me. there is we. forgiving rather general generalities of course. one must still mature and change into the person(s) one develops in to being.

i'm not done with my changes. i don't think anyone is. it is with delight that i read this post by philly poet jacob russell who asks where are the awards for late blooming, geezer poets. i ask the same. or at least ask on behalf of those old soul, early geezer, poets. like me.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

brilliant opening

how one begins a film sets, obviously, the tone of the flick that follows. we have a long, rich, deep history of cinema to find examples of brilliant openings -- please make your own lists -- but for me one of the best is the montage francis ford coppola devises for his flawed masterpiece apocalypse now [1979]. the song, 'the end' by the doors, is just right and rightly dark as the soundtrack opens to a static shot of the vietnamese jungle. interpolated with the music is the chop of a helicopter blade. then the runner for a chopper enters the frame from the left and exits to the right in slo-mo. this is repeated once or twice until the treeline in the static shot explodes in fire. the camera pans to the right and dissolves to the sweaty face of martin sheen lying prone and smoking a cigarette. then the frames collage sheen with the napalm attack in the bush while at least two helicopters fly in and out of the frame in slo-mo. the chop of the helicopter blades on the soundtrack segues to the whirr of the fan in sheen's sro. the collage then rests on the sound of the chopper's blades with the movement of the room's ceiling fan. this is, for me, one of the cleverest segues in contemporary cinema. coppola's palette is olive green and deep orange from the napalm attack and is utterly frightening and beautiful. coppola with a few strokes instantly creates this land of mesmerizing horror.

idea(s) for a tv show

the conversation veered from poets to poetry to movies to tv shows, which always rounds back to the state of the world. we in our human activities seem to be a collection of serious fuck-ups, short-sighted and often mean-spirited. s. mentioned that he and his wife are fans of the critically-acclaimed television program mad men which recreates with astonishing vivacity and authenticity life as it was lived in the early 1960s thru the agency of an advertising firm. now, i was born in the late 1960s, the hippie era of free love, drugs, rock&roll and social foment. the world a few years before i arrived on the scene was often radically different.

s. got his daughter to watch an episode or few because his daughter, a young woman of the early 21st century, might've forgotten how historically the role of women in society was often subservient to men, an era like the early 1960s. s.'s daughter was enraged when one of the characters, the wife of one of the ad execs, was seeing a psychiatrist, yet the dr. consulted with her husband rather than the wife herself. such a thing is inconceivable now but the early 1960s was not so very long ago.

the conversation turned to historical alzheimer's. how we often forget that the rights we enjoy today were hard-won because of the thinking and actions of individuals and organizations that fought, sometimes literally by suffering bruises, blood and even death, to gain these rights. i'm speaking generically of course but as hard as some rights, the rights of women to be recognized by law to make their own decisions, the right to vote, the right to their own bodies and reproductive health, etc. etc. these rights so hard-fought and won can also be eroded.

i said what they should do is make a tv show about the wobblies and have us remember that there were people who died for the rights of workers, the right to a fair wage, the right to overtime pay, the right for collective bargaining, the right to an 8-hour work day and 40-hour work week, the enactment of child-labor laws. because we have short memories and we have forgotten, esp. now with the ascendancy of the far-right and their free-market ideas of no government regulation, and now we are witnessing a few of the horrors of a deregulated energy market, that these rights we currently enjoy can be, and in some instances, like collective bargaining [i know there are still unions but we live in a union-busting (began when reagan crushed a strike by air-traffic controllers) era and the popular conception -- not shared by all, of course -- of unions as being corrupt, morally and fiscally] , quickly eroded. i am, again, speaking broadly and i know that some would think that the wobblies politics were odious but they did fight, and sometimes died, for the rights of workers. i would like to see a show about the workers of the world and perhaps we might remember a little of what the world was like before there was such a concept as workers' rights.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

quote unquote

And "happy", as everyone knows by now, just means so damn glad to be alive.

--john bloomberg-rissman

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

ode : age






Tuesday, June 08, 2010

a few new links

i don't know if a trip to the department of motor vehicles [dmv] is a metaphysical adventure or no. but just sitting for my turn trying to read my book while having one ear on the pa system that is calling out numbers in a soothing, hushed voice, because no i don't want my turn at the dmv to be a missed connection on account that i was too far engrossed in the essays/reviews of martin stannard. so it happened. i had, by law, to appear at the dmv to renew my driver's license, which expires on my birthday tomorrow, and take an eye exam and have my picture taken because the past couple of renewals were by mail. the richard lopez on my old license is not the same guy who looks at me from the mirror. even the clerk said, when i handed her my license, boy that doesn't look like you. we all age, now, don't we.

i'm pleased to announce that i have updated some linkage. look to the right for the evidence. also, jean vengua is back to blogging. that makes me very happy. her blog is found in the links and also by clicking here. now to somehow organize my links. . .

oh, just thought i'd mention a northern irish poet/blogger that i used to read fairly regularly a couple years ago. i googled the blogger's name, ruari mc nally, last night and found his blog. mc nally hasn't updated his blog in over a year. bummer, because i liked reading his short quips about sandwiches, tv viewing habits, the odd bit of verse, and office life. he has a good sense of humor. and i've long had a fascination with northern ireland. what got me in the end as i was reading back into mc nally's archives was a sensation of the quick passage of time. i mean, once upon a time the length of a summer felt like a lifetime. now i the years all blur together. that alone is no bad thing. what floors me and blows my mind is our sense of permanence despite all evidence to the contrary. perhaps i should just say my sense of permanence even if i know that nothing is permanent. what i am doing is my best to go with the flow. lord knows, i am trying.

Friday, June 04, 2010

on (y)our own

after squeaking out the poem i posted online last night i found myself reading some aussie poets in various online pubs and blogs. i don't know, i feel an affinity for writers down under, whether that feeling is warranted or not. what have you. there's some astonishing writing coming from australia and new zealand. and i've even tried to copy the style of one or two younger oz poets. just don't tell them that, okay. i claim myself, as thom gunn did of his own work, a derivative poet and delight in that.

that was last night. after a long day at the office i dragged my sorry ass home, made dinner for us, then afterward managed to burn my left pointer finger with battery acid. don't ask. recall we have a 5-year-old and this house is awash in batteries, old and new. i'd invite you to my pity party but i'm fresh out of invitations.

one thing led to another and this being friday night and all. i set up nicholas to watch a few episodes of scooby-doo while anna did her own thing and i pulled off the shelf the tiny #2 because i remembered jonathan mayhew published a couple of poems there. damn! what a fine mag this is. i think there was also a #3 but i don't have that issue.

what i do have is a relative sure sense of my commitment to poetry. however, every writer is in possession of a fairly steady sense of insecurity. it comes with the territory like alcoholism and depression, or for some mysticism and ecstasy. i emailed a poet friend this morning about my ideas of self-publishing and pointed to a younger british poet, rob stanton, who self-published some chaps that are available here at last month i told some local poets my intention to do my next chap on my own and utilize probably multiple formats, such as posting it here on my blog, email the pdf to friends and anyone who would like a copy and also fetishizing it in paper.

i got the feeling from my friends that while self-publishing is probably a worthy endeavour it might not be the most professional of habits. well, phooey on that. poetry is the least professional, if you want to define profession as in getting paid $$$$, of the arts or of any human undertaking. boo hoo.

back to the self-pity. we all sometimes, by varying degrees, suffer from oh-woe-is-me. my d.i.y. ethos sounds great on paper or the pixels but how can i be a real poet if i don't have a book from some trade publisher. oh shit. now i'm on a slippery slope. not that nobody cares so much. least of all me. still, there it is, the pity. i told myself to do myself a favor, and forget it. do your own thang, and fuck all the rest.

but then, i began thumbing thru the tiny #2 and rediscovered shanna compton's wonderful essay, 'Why DIY? On Vanity, Legitimacy, & Other Nonsense'. a breath of air, finally. i don't know if this essay is available online but it should be. compton puts things in perspective with a healthy dose of earthy humor. here she is on our own gumptiousness.

If you're a writer at all you're probably a megalomaniac. Just calling yourself a poet is to admit your vanity. You may seem the insecure, shy, self-depracating creative-type at parties, but you believe you're a genius, at least on occassion. It's all right, really -- you're in great company.

compton continues with a list of poets who not only self-published but also self-reviewed their own work. you know the names, whitman, blake, dickinson etc. etc.

compton's essay is essentially a primer to creating alternative distribution channels by opening up the eyes of poets that if you are waiting around for some one(s) to recognize your genius then you are on the wrong track. poetry is not a career. it is not a hobby. it is, if we are lucky, a life. she skewers attitudes and contemporary publishing myths. compton lays it down. do it yourself. her essay evaporated my self-pity and was just what i needed after a very long day.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

doing a few lines at the sac 6 drive-in

its intermission time

                    hurry hurry hurry folks
                          come to the snack bar
where you can try
our mouth-watering hot dogs
                          enjoy your favorite beverages like
ice-cold coca cola & piping hot coffee

we have all your favorite candy bars

our italian-style pizza w/ zesty sauce
can be delivered right to your car
                    & our bbq is so sassy your momma
will slap you in the mouth

the show will begin in 5 minutes

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

poem ending with a line from peter orlovsky

seriously do tell all
if you can measure
your foot by your
hair's breadth
should it really
come down to
this all shit-stained
and glad-happy
just from the look
of you
we could be twins
romulus and remus
save your entries
for another day
we knew what's what
and bargained
for more on that first
morn when we traipsed
in and declared it all
a bust but damn fine
it was to know
i.q. 90 in school, now
specialized i.q. is thousands

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

thread count

after the self
google gave
him the giggles
he invited her
to sit on his lap
no no not for
any sort of
lo jinks
but to take
a new pair
of trousers
purchased at
the local eddie
bauer for a test run
oh you've got
to be shitting me
she said
that is like starting
to count
the hairs on your head
first you begin
with one
she said
balling her fists
and then it goes on
and on