Wednesday, August 31, 2011


after work

lovely flight to the bay

* * *

dinner and

the movie right outside

and below our wing

* * *


ruddy sky

big thumbnail moon

hammered to the set

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

good read

after a long day yesterday i came home and found a package waiting for me. i didn't order anything and i couldn't make out the return address on the package. i don't know why because when i opened the package and saw the contents i knew immediately the address and who sent these two books.

i read them both almost immediately. these books are Percy & Bess [hank's original loose gravel press, 2011] and the arrow that is hollywood pierces the soul that is me [otoliths, 2011] by alex gildzen. if you stop by here now and then you know that alex is a good friend and a favorite poet of mine. what is cool about alex is that both he and i share an obsession with movies. our obsessions were achieved at an early age. we also both write poems, reviews and miscellany about the movies and those individuals who make, create, and star in the cinema.

that these two publications are about the movies and those grand personalities that make up hollywood then comes as no surprise. alex crafted texts that are short, melodic and rich in imagery that are also high in hollywood lore. for example, this poem from the book the arrow that is hollywood pierces the soul that is me:

ray bradbury rollerskates
to paramount studios

where he pesters
W.C. Fields
for an autograph

the king of gin blossoms
finally accedes

"there you are
you little son of a bitch"

this poem is perfect in design and execution. you get the whole of hollywood noir and the love of hollywood in all its excesses and humility. fields is a king not only of comedic films but also 'gin blossoms', a great alcoholic who hates children. and we have too bradbury, that great imaginative writer, as a child who cannot take no for an answer even if it is uttered by a world-famous grouch. plus the concluding couplet is a punch line. you can't but laugh when you get to it.

percy & bess is a book containing two series of poems, one for actor percy helton and the second is for actress bess flowers. don't know who they are? such is the beauty of alex's writing. for not only are these lovely poems outright but they are also lessons in hollywood history. you don't have to do the research to enjoy these poems but with the internet you can add to your delight with a few quick searches.

these books are wonderful gifts. i urge you to seek them out. if your interested in percy & bess you can hit me or steve tills up with an email. for alex's hollywood book the link above will take you to otoliths storefront.

Friday, August 26, 2011

flying high again

two weeks ago today we drove out to the yolo causeway to see mexican cave bats wake to their night's hunt and fly in ribbons underneath the causeway like it is a cave and over a tree that they think is the cave opening. the lands beneath and around the causeway are restored wetlands habitat that are also used as flood control. each winter the wetlands become reservoirs to store excess water and prevent flooding in the sacramento valley. in the summer these wetlands are also used as farmland. and it was the farm roads we travelled to get beside the causeway and watch the bats.

the yolo basin foundation hosts a bat talk and walk where biologists and docents give a lecture regarding indigenous bats and then lead a drive to the causeway where the mexican cave bats make their home. an estimated 250,000,00 bats make up the colony. the evening was perfect, including a full moon to add to the ambiance. the ribbons of bats did ascend higher and higher. anna pointed up in to the quickly darkening sky and said, look. you can see bats way up there. we asked a docent, how high will they fly? she told us that they've been observed to fly up to 20,000,00 ft to get to their meal of moths.

much myth is made of the bat. including misperceptions of their size. they are not large. as proof the biologist who gave the lecture brought in a couple of bats in her care. they are no bigger than your thumb without the wingspan. nor do they suck blood [for the most part. there are no vampire bats in california] or change into humans who prefer to sleep in coffins. instead we were privileged to the astonishing sight of thousands of bats waking to their hunt in a gorgeous section of restored habitat home to egrets, herons, and bugs galore. it was an evening where we could step out of our harried day-to-day muchness and recline into rhythms of the bats.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

writing everything

watched a video of nirvana circa 1992
they were the musical guest on saturday night live
the song was hardcore punk
and the band tore thru it
then likewise did the same with
their instruments
thrashed the shit outta them
the camera cut to commercial
while cobain was busy spearing
the marshall stacks with his fender
yes it was theater
but the mind delights in it
because of the band's fuck all attitude
and abandon to fucking shit up

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


today is jorge luis borges' 112th birthday?

i forgot

in the middle of my life i find my self in the middle

of my life

oh no problem

the day went okay

* * *

in the morning i'll face my


in the mirror

and wonder who

is writing this sentence

* * *

if this is the floating world

this must be the flotsam

quote unquote

Amusement is a full time preoccupation, and, as Rimbaud usefully insisted, one is wise to make ‘the magical study’ which happiness is. Just so the fact of William and Catherine Blake sitting stark naked in their small back garden in Lambeth, reading Milton’s Paradise Lost. When a friend surprised them there, Blake’s response was, ‘It’s only Adam and Eve, you know.’

--robert creeley

Friday, August 19, 2011

theoretical interrogatory

there is a poem in here / somewhere

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


by hadrien larouche
it seems to me jean genet
structured his life as poetry
that there was a symmetry
to it so that you can maybe
hum the tune with your
eyes closed replay scenes
in your head that his
immorality was really
the joy of living
and calling bullshit
by its name
but still there are
certain factors in life
one can't account for
they just are
like the odd juxtaposition
of keeping pace with
the garbage truck as
it made its rounds
down g st and the surprised
o of the driver's eyes
each time he stopped
the truck to pick up
a load of trash
only to see me
still walking
right beside him

Monday, August 15, 2011

thru the sun
for thom gunn & john leslie

even if the equation is fucked

showing your work distorts

a series of palimpsests

that declare you’ve given up

i’m almost there

that when the scene gets

to be too much i say screw it

we are all responsible for own erections

okay then so bring your best

because when i get home

i wanna get punched in the mouth

fragment hit

scum and thick clotted ink stretched over wrinkled skin the emptiness of wishing the duck crossing the street the quack the oink the seriously jaded embedded into their laptops coffee and croissants let it go thru if they can open their bags offal stink orange zest pity

Sunday, August 14, 2011

quote unquote

Being a poet is not writing a poem, but finding a new way to live.

--paul lafleur

[from eileen tabios' interview 10 or 20 questions conducted by rob mclennan]

Thursday, August 11, 2011

our barbaric yawps

it's depressing the state of the world right now. so much its difficult to keep on balance and remain sane. i often question myself what efficacy can writing have when the world is burning. i suppose my question is as old as writing, as old as civilization, and that writing, reading and living do go on.

don't they.

well but so to fight depression and oppression. even saying no to the present realities might be just enough even if it is not an adequate response. by saying no i mean to say fuck you to the paranoids and oppressors and their creation of our toxic political and economic moment. as joseph brodsky said it wasn't strength that held him together during the old soviet oppressions; it was his obstinacy.

still i haven't a fucking clue. i turn to the roman poets, to classical chinese poets, to post-war eastern european poets for strength and guidance. i learn from them that we always have the right to language and poetry and must exercise our rights for writing/reading in every possible configuration we can make. the most political act writers can do is to write and read whatever the hell we choose.

we make the world as we go along, and the world makes us up too. i am doing my best not to despair or succumb to bland numbness. i demand my rights of poetry. in every manner of making. fucking hell yes.

i began this rant with the intention to write a little about the feelings of writerly neglect. you know the feelings. we all have them. these emotions can lead to despair and a sense of worthlessness. what does it matter. why all these words. will they, will i be remembered? then i thought it doesn't matter at all. i make my poems because i want to. because i need to. because i am alive. you too. all of you. if something of ours is remembered and/or is considered great, okay. but we won't be around to bask in its glory. rather write/read because your life depends on it. read/write for the love of life. yours and mine. read and write because of because. if there is glory to be had in the making it wholly resides in the act. no fame, no fortune, nothing but our supreme pleasures in the live actions of writing and reading.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

stake land [2010]

stake land might be the best movie of last year you probably never heard of. this flick is the second feature by writer/director jim mickle and star/co-writer nick damici. their first effort is the fantastic revisionist zombie flick mulberry street [2006]. both of these movies are studies of human character rather than simple blood and guts exploitation. mickle and damici are to horror as say lars von trier is to the arthouse set.

that might be quite a bold comparison but i mean it to underscore how horror films tend to be marginalized no matter how original they might be. mickle and damici work with a minuscule budget but get the most bang from it and make bigger budget flicks look like crap in return. stake land is an arthouse horror film that should have a greater audience.

the world has gone to shit. a vampire plague destroyed the underpinnings of the united states. the government crumbled and our leaders scrambled for whatever safety they can muster. the economy is in shambles. the survivors either travel the land looking for refuge or are holed up in 'lock downs', small towns sequestered against the night. the vamps are not the only ones to be feared. religious fundamentalist organizations such as 'the brotherhood' have sprung up in response to the horrors of the new reality and reign a system of superstition, paranoia and bloody violence to any one who gets caught in their path.

in this midst is mister a hard-ass fighter played by damici who takes under his wing martin played by connor paolo, a young teen, being schooled in survival both against the brotherhood and the vampires. oh yes, kelly mcgillis is also in this flick. she playes a nun called sister who is rescued by our duo from two scumbag brotherhood rapists. along the way they pick up a young pregnant woman belle, played by 21st century scream queen danielle harris [who turns in a marvelous performance] and a stranded soldier willie, played by sean nelson.

together this group travel the blasted u.s. in search of a haven called new eden. unremittingly grim and beautifully photographed, scored and edited, director mickle keeps the pace at a quick clip. the filmmaker learned much about how to frame his shots and choreograph the action since his first feature. not a frame seems wasted. the story is kept taught while letting the characters develop. if the conclusion appears obvious it might be because both mickle and damici wrote a damn fine script where the story grows organically. nothing is forced and there are no standard scary movie jump scares or unnecessary gore. the tone of the movie, grim and prepossessing, is frightening enough.

also, the sets are beautifully decorated. i say beautiful because it is mind-blowing how they create the reality of the story with a few props and junky cars even if the sets are populated with the corpses of the murdered and the suicides left dangling from telephone poles and buildings. mickle's camera doesn't linger on these scenes but composes his scenes with the totality of his vision so that, again, the places the protagonists visit and pass feel terribly real.

it is tempting to call this movie timely because of its theme of religious toxicity. i'll leave that discussion for others to take up. rather i think mickle and damici made a very damn good movie. thier vampires are feral, voracious creatures that weave together strands taken from zombie movies, pandemic fears, and the frailty of civilization while investigating contemporary concern for rising religious fundamentalism. again, this might be the best movie of last year you probably never heard of.

Monday, August 08, 2011

light in august

it is, so far, a very mild summer / you can count the number of triple digit days on one hand / usually by this time in the season / the city is under lockdown / shuttered windows / chugging air conditioners / pissed-off faces sweating and sweltering / beneath this meat-eating sun / not so for this year '11 / the light / o the light is changing from fluorescent to amber / walking thru midtown and downtown takes an added pleasure / when i look up and around to see how the light makes every thing and every one / just a bit more / pretty / so what the fuck / chuck / eat it up / i was reading the odes of horace this morning / horace reminds us that we all age get old then die / so drink the wine and love your honeys / because tomorrow gets here fast enough / and today is already gone

Saturday, August 06, 2011

let us now praise lucille ball [& desi arnaz]
--happy 100 ms ball--

below is the trailer for my favorite lucille ball movie

Thursday, August 04, 2011

KONG -- king of the world!

upon my 1st viewing of the original version
i turn to my dad and say -- even if this story
turns round to myth -- LOOK DAD A MONKEY
i was maybe 5 years old

the original movie was released in 1933
the world was in shambles
about to get even more fucked up
who knew that but in retrospect

kong's been remade twice since 1933
i prefer the classic
for one screening i said
o holy crazy kid did you know yeats was alive

in '33 & might have seen this flick
yeats' poetry seems so old
kong appears ageless
rippling muscles thru ripening fur

the figure of skull mountain
the march of soldiers in europe
the flare of blood & fire
the held purpose of something written on water

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

quote unquote

If I had a thing of bottled water I would hold it up and say this is why we’re not going to have a revolution, because if people will pay for water bottled in plastic they will suffer any indignity.

--derrick jensen

Monday, August 01, 2011

what monsters may come

watched a program on the sundance channel last night that examined, lightly examined, two sorts of movie bogeys in cinema: vampires and zombies. my preferred movie monster is the zombie, that unthinking, devouring, brutal creature. vampires can be okay and there have been some very fine examples in film however vampires always seemed too delicate, too ratcheted in their sexuality, to be seen as a great threat to society.

zombies on the other hand are the masses. zombies are blind, unthinking, devouring brutes with no reasoning skills and if you happen to get caught in a zombie horde no matter how much pleading and begging you do will matter naught. because those damn creatures will simply eat you.

every age processes the horror of its times thru its literature. movies are, i think, literature and horror movies are usually the foil by that we confront our fears. when times are good, like in the '90s, horror movies are usually fairly tepid works. the more tumultuous the era the greater torque in horror. thus in the '90s we got anne rice's vampire lestat assayed on the big screen by tom cruise. i was scared only by the lackluster performance by mr cruise. by the turn of the millenium things were going south and the silver screen saw a resurgence of zombies and splatter movies the likes we haven't seen since the 1970s.

well but now u.s. horror cinema is in the doldrums. the good stuff is coming from countries like norway, sweden, france and spain. it's instructive to remember that these are nations that have not been known for its genre films. why these countries are churning out rocking shit like the norwegian monster movie troll hunter [2010] and the french high tension [2003] and we are making prequels, sequels and remaking classic horror i don't know.

not that the u.s. isn't making good movies -- even pretty good horror movies are being cranked out such as the wonderful lo-budget paranormal activity [2007]. bad times might look good with some perspective. yet these are bad times in the u.s. and i wonder where horror cinema might go. there isn't any one overriding theme to either u.s. or world horror cinema.

the program on the sundance channel didn't make any predictions on the future wave of horror movies. max brooks, author of the fantastic oral history world war z [which is currently being shot as a feature film starring brad pitt], gave two scenarios: 1) if we are terrified of a class of superrich that use their money and power to artificially prolong their youth we might have a spate of vampire movies. or 2) if we worry about the older generations living very long into super advanced age who will overcrowd the younger generations we might get zombie films.

interesting; the future horror movie most probably won't be such a stark binary. there's a film that should be released on dvd tomorrow that i'm very much looking forward to seeing that explores religious fundamentalism as well as feral destruction of culture and civilization thru the prism of very vicious vampires. i'll write about that pic soon as i see it. in the meantime i'm just very happy to be living in a time where horror movies are world cinema.