Thursday, June 30, 2011

on the classical chinese poets
for jbr

at the office i am the old man but there is always someone older
the weather turned hot making walking home both pleasant and painful

the streets were explosions of people sights and sounds
an equally old man skated by me on his longboard with extra-sized wheels

technical difficulties

last night, between the hrs of 11:00 pm and 12:00 am, i wrote a review of the movie super 8 [2011]

i went to publish it

when i hit the button i lost connectivity to blogger

i continued to have connectivity problems until today

turns out there was a major glitch with blogger because a lot of people had the same difficulty

oh well figured that the review was finished and saved as a draft so i'd post it tonight

um only a paragraph and a half was saved

i deleted it

too pissed to rewrite it tonight

somehow i can't go on but i'll go on

you know the rest

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

once in a lifetime

it rained today. huge. cats & dogs. i was told that this is the 3rd time it had rained on june 28 since records were kept beginning 1870. didn't feel like a big deal. it did feel wet. very wet. i was soaked when i got home. luckily i was prepared and brought my rain gear. others thought that the most we'd get is a spattering of wet. or some precipitation that would evaporate before hitting the ground. they were the ones without jackets or umbrellas and did their best to walk as stoically as they could in the rain as if they had the power to divert the water and walk between the drops. not so. and just think, this weekend is the 4th of july. what with all this wet weather i had to check a map. make sure i didn't go into a fugue and find myself somehow in stockholm or london. neither did i find, as david byrne once sang, myself in a shotgun shack or in another part of the world. i'll take the reprieve from the heat. because it's supposed to get to the triple digits in time for the holiday weekend. i've been feeling a bit low the past week, a tad lost even. i hadn't written a word. the rain centered me and even, dare i add, caused a smile.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

lunch poem

today was the beach blanket party
wet noodles and tofurkey veggie slices
hunched over my computer
felt like quasimodo by the end
of the day singing
like the idiot i am
the bells! the bells!
o for tenure
and the sweet gig
i am reminded i just had a b-day
i return with a thanks i'm 44
--what's that you're writing, a poem
--yes i answer
--how long does it take you to write a poem
--it's taken me 44 years and 30 seconds
to be done

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

filmed on the solstice
for jh & ag

1st 100+ day of the year
instead of being sweaty miserable
the walk home was utter joy
then [o god forgive my
when i watered the plants
at dusk
with the hot valley
breeze on my face
i thought of drive-in movies
those creatures of the night
and we, the punks and bastards
who love them,
who work
upon the world
our kind
our very pure love

Sunday, June 19, 2011

the mule

in this dream i am a courier for some party but don't know what i'm ferrying or why except that it involves 2 full plastic garbage bags 1) for the pick up 2) for the exchange but all i do is for my boss who seems a reasonable man so that when [here it gets fuzzy as my brain is quickly deleting my memory] i grab both bags and drive my late '70s model black trans am [the type burt reynolds used in the film smokey & the bandit (1977)] to the ferry across the bay then to the train station i realize with horror that i grabbed the recycling rather than the stuff and now i don't know what to do when the lights turn on

Saturday, June 18, 2011

catullus says i stole this haiku

as the sparrow flies
          i fucking love & i hate
this summer peach

lines scratched from a green notebook

reading a poet
who had this vision
of snapping the ligaments

of his right knee
and holding a green notebook
written in arabesques

it was then
he knew he'd be a poet
well for me

i was 19 and dreamt
i'd grown grey-haired
bushy-beard and tattooed

looking a bit like berryman
well ok two of the three became true
and remains so

tho who knows how it
might end
except but for maybe berryman

taking that plunge off an icy bridge
and the insertation of that fact into this text
let's us cut short this little narrative

Thursday, June 16, 2011

new email

because my hotmail account was hacked i've changed my email

you can find it in the profile section of this blog

please start using this as i'm gonna ditch my old account

i'm starting to send notes to y'all with my new address so

please hit me with a note because i need to rebuild my contact list

the hack was bad shit

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


it appears that my hotmail account has been compromised. if you get an email with some goofball link in it, don't open it. i've taken action and so far i think my hotmail account might be okay. but again, if you get some email that doesn't sound like me, then it ain't me!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Flying over Northern California

the plane, the plane

the wide, majestic american river

got the folsom prison blues

a reservoir, an enclave called rancho murieta

say hey to a few moo-cows

the decommissioned nuclear power plant rancho seco

guess who is flying the plane

Friday, June 10, 2011

quote unquote

The poet retires between
chrysanthemums, travels 10 000 miles
not moving an inch & wouldn't wear a hat
if it couldn't be used to pour out the wine

--stefan hyner

Thursday, June 09, 2011

old man papa poet

it happened. it happens to everyone. i turned 44 today. with a little bemusement and a lot of head scratching. not because i regret being in my mid-40s -- hardly, i'm pleased to be here at any age -- i am simply wondering how does the time go so fast. you know, we all feel this, one moment your 25 the next you are staring down the barrel of 50 years.

the day went well. my co-workers decorated my cube like a haunted house. because they know i love halloween imagery. there were zombie babies, severed limbs, disembodied heads, lots of bats and pumpkins, a real abattoir. then there was work to get thru. afterward my friend, p., a pilot took me for an hour's flight over the flat lands of the valley, toward folsom lake [and the famous prison beside the lake], over the lake to then turn toward rancho seco, the decommissioned nuclear power plant, and back to the airport. a great flight and an exhilarating ride. pics to come tomorrow.

the weather is back to nearly normal for this time of year. we didn't get a spring. we got a long, wet winter, and now it is sunny and hot. oh well, spring and fall last both, if we are lucky, no more than two weeks. the wet weather made me happy because it reminded me of swedish summer days, but the hot weather makes me happy too. wherever we grow up that is the place where we measure all other landscapes and weathers by. so for me summer is supposed to be blazingly bright and hot.

i titled this post partly 'old man' for two reasons. one is because i was calling my father old man at this age i find myself, and two because a co-worker was teasing me about being an 'old man papa' because i have a 6 year old. i'll take that. i felt i was old when i was young and now i think the years are starting to catch up. besides simply being alive can blow my mind open.

i love being a father. hands up, or down, i love it. nick is an astonishing great good. but he's also a great person. for example, a couple of weeks ago we went to the county fair with our friends b. and s. and their son j., who is a couple years older than nick. both kids love each other and go ga ga together. well, it got very rainy at the fair, a real humdinger, so we decided to have an early dinner at a neighborhood pizza joint. this pizza place has a bank of video games that the kids like to play. it also has one of those claw machines where you can try to get a stuffed animal with the claw. nick has been trying to get a prize out of that claw machine for ages. we are sitting at a table where we can watch the two boys and we see j. get a stuffed animal out of the machine. a wonderful feat. then nick takes a turn at the machine and wins a stuffed animal. j. tries again but didn't get an animal. nick goes for a 2nd time and we see him get a stuffed animal. our jaws are dropping because we can't believe nick's good fortune. the claw deposits the animal, i can't remember what it was, into the chute and nick bends down to retrieve. he straightens up with the toy, and hands it to j. who immediately cuddles it. that was the most astonishing act of kindness i've witnessed. nick is not just a good kid, but he's a good person. both anna and i are so proud.

there it goes. another year and another day. this morning i was reading the poems of stefan hyner, a german buddhist political poet, and came across this passage:

I demand excessive joy & fresh air.

i'll let that be the epigraph for today.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

from an email to jh

dude, i'm turning 44 on thursday. two things: i can't believe i'm in my mid-40s now, and i didn't know i'd make it this far.

getting older sharpens my need to take it all in. that i have only this one life so try to get as much pleasure as i can. my pleasures are rather simple things: reading, writing, movies, but also these include the love i have and share with my family, and my friends. sometimes i feel life so keenly it is hard not to walk these streets without a goddamn goofy grin on.

Saturday, June 04, 2011


man i miss the hardpack
whack against the flat
of the hand
and the click of my Zippo
but i quit some time ago
we can still make
images and texts
even, ahem, sex
even when we shall
all die someday of something
so relax
because you can't smoke in heaven
but maybe if we're lucky
we light up in hell

--amor y paz,


Friday, June 03, 2011

meek's cutoff [2010]

i watched this picture tonight at the local arthouse after work. it's one of those indie features that get a certain amount of buzz. there were maybe 15 or so people in the audience. to be fair the theater is itself quite small. oh, another thing, i was pleased to see that the movie tonight was projected in film and not, as is more common today, digital. there was a graininess to the print that heightened the harsh landscape of the oregon scrub land.

the director, kelly reichardt, i think is still developing as a filmmaker. she found a voice and a tone with this film which stars the very lovely michelle williams as a young wife in 1845 on the oregon trail with 2 other families. the meek of the title is their guide, stephen meek, who may or may not be a complete buffoon. what meek does do is get the families lost in the oregon desert and are increasingly desperate to find water.

reichardt manages to take in the wide expanse of barren scrub and make it claustrophic by carefully composing her scenes within the limited frames of say the bonnets of the women, or between the canvas shell of a wagon train as williams throws out items to lighten the wagon. this is a western, albeit a revisionist western, from the perspective of the women on the trail, particularly williams. but reichardt does not pack her narrative with action. she lets the narrative flow with the monotony of walking and working and waiting for deliverance of some kind.

williams' character is canny and she doesn't trust meek. now, i think reichardt is playing on the word meek and the name of the character to give us a clue to his character. but i might be quite wrong. we don't know what makes meek the man he is. we don't know if he's full of shit or not. what we do know is that he's as lost as the families he's been hired to guide. so when an indian appears the families take him prisoner and force him to become their guide. they don't know if they can trust the indian either. he could be leading them to water, or, as meek balefully warns, he could be leading them to his tribe to be slaughtered or taken as slaves.

we don't know. and that is a problem for many viewers. williams is a strong character with more than a twinkle of intelligence in her eye, unlike the buck-skinned, theatrical meek. she also shows the indian kindness where it counts. however, the ambiguity of his character will, i think, drive many viewers mad with frustration.

when this flick ended, and it ended as i suspected it would, there were a lot of, huh?, from the audience. to give you a hint to the ending think of the final episode of the sopranos. hope i didn't spoil it for you as i think this movie is worthy of your time. kelly reichardt is a talented filmmaker and the only thing that frustrated me was her tendency to laden her frames with portent and weighty symbols. not that i see anything wrong with artifice but as i read a review last night about a book of photographs the photographer was too much taken with the digital tools of the trade as she was learning her art. the photos were too gussied up to have any richer meanings. the same might be said of reichardt.

after the gasps of huh? most of the audience sat thru the credits and then began talking about the movie. if buzz is a measure of success than this flick is buzzing big time. i walked home in the late evening as the city was coming to life. it's still overcast and cold. the rain is expected tonight and supposed to last thru sunday. the steel grey sky seemed to match the mood of the movie as i replayed a few scenes in my head as i walked for home.


i don't write every day but i write all the time

* * *

life is too short to be in such a hurry

Thursday, June 02, 2011


is it unfashionable to declare poetry, the obsessions of reading/writing poetry, a religious calling? i think i've made it clear that i am an atheist but i am a man who was raised nominally catholic and still wishes for transcendence. of some sort. i ran across a phrase regarding another poet recently that i liked very much, pulp metaphysics, that i think pertains to my own obsessions and my own desire for uplift.

i've also said on this blog that i do think poetry is a calling. a devotion, along with the attention to ritual and even, dare i add, ceremony, that are so very much like what we find in spiritual practice. i don't mean that i think poets, and readers, are holy, or that the obsessions for poetry are sacrosanct. i mean to suggest that poetry is not a moneyed occupation, nor does it come with fame. rather we engage in poetry because we are called to it. poetry is larger than us. i do add that the calling is for everyone who wishes to head the call. there are no elect in poetry. there is the practice of poetry which if maintained becomes a life in poetry.

i found myself reading a bit the cuban born poet jose kozer and watched this wonderful conversation with the poet last night. kozer quotes proust, i do not believe but i have great faith, and for kozer that faith is in poetry. the ceremony is the daily ritual of writing a poem. every day. like prayer. like meditation. that calls to my mind another poet, one opposite of kozer in style, but who also wrote a poem everyday, william stafford. stafford was asked what he would do if the poem he wrote in a day wasn't very good. he said, i lower my standards.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

what blows my mind

is that on june 1 i'm wearing a sweater & two coats to work

to jim mccrary

morning buzz i forget to find my way and am late very late for work and moving at breakneck speed or for what passes as breakneck when you do your very best to go slow and savor yes savor what is it life has to give so i pull the nearest book off the shelf before heading out the door shuffle thru the pages and at random read this

The truth? I’m loony about li ching chao, it’s a crab that won’t let go:
I’m going to plop this china doll in my lap, hell’s
bells, I’m going to eat her alive, to hell with feminism
I’m 64 years old, I’m not sucking up to anybody,
I’m going to give li ching chao (big time) whatever
she asks (whatever you want I’ll give you baby) it’s
tit-for-tat: me, I pay, and she - with any luck she’ll
tickle my dong.

-- jose kozer

i’m happy as fuck to read that because kozer is talking about a chinese poet of the 12th century and is so brimming with ecstasy of living how can i not get a high from that like going for baroque because as another poet wrote you add to/you don’t cancel what you do which may or may not be true but what of it for this in this life as the purple one rocked on in this life we’re on our own and that high lasted the whole day