Wednesday, September 28, 2011


where i hang my hat

i don't know why here rather than there

no compunction or need to travel

i like the world just as it is

* * *

last rites

the talk turned to how you want to be buried

me i said i prefer cremation

maybe my ashes scattered on telegraph st in berkeley in front of moe's bookstore

maybe they said you can be burned along with your favorite books

an urn heavy with the ashes of words and the ashes of flesh

Monday, September 26, 2011

hatchet ii [2010]

if you think i've stopped watching really bad movies, think again! i love films, i love the cinema, i really love horrible movies and this turd is truly awful. how so? let me begin.

21st century scream queen -- and real cutie -- danielle harris stars as a young woman who escaped the evil clutches of a deformed, mutant, bloodthirsty killer nestled in a louisiana swamp. her family was massacred and she vows revenge.

the following night she enlists the aid of rev. zombie, a swindler and tour guide of these same swamps, assayed by the stately tony todd. zombie knows that there is a curse in that swamp. a curse that visits the deformed, mutant, bloodthirsty killer known as victor crowley upon the innocent and soon-to-be-dead. he figures if he can break the curse and kill crowley the swamp will be open for tours again.

zombie enlists the help of a few locals armed to the teeth to help dispatch crowley. little do the locals know that they are really fodder for crowley to kill off so that zombie can get harris to bring a relative of hers so that relative can get killed by crowley. why? something about harris' family starting the curse and it can only end when the killer can exact revenge.

well now here we go. the writer/director adam green sure does love his horror, particularly 1980s slasher flicks. what is the sound of one reel changing. because by the end of the first reel we get the first kill all in splatterific red. the fx are this side of cheap but they are imaginative. no suspense, no tension, no duh. each extra is rounded off like so many third grade sums.

crowley is played by some big dude named kane hodder whose long career of playing bogeymen include the nefarious jason voorhees of the friday the 13th films. in this stretch you'd think the ugly off of crowley would be enough to scare his victims to death. nope. need more? yep. got power tools? check. got electric sander? check. got a chainsaw? check. got a big-assed humongous chainsaw? check check. now crowley's good to go.

tony todd is really a magnificent presence, i think, even when playing bad guys in cheap horror movies. it's his character's hubris that is his downfall. crowley and todd go mano a mano. if filmmaker green didn't make todd's death so easy then perhaps he wouldn't have very much feet of film left over to shoot our final girl's tet a tet with crowley. she does get mediaval on the monster's ass.

is that the end? i'm not sure if the curse is lifted. i don't care. nor do i care about this being a sequel. it was the number two in the title that gave that away, didn't it. this is low budget filmmaking at both its finest and its worst. filmmaker adam green is a fanboy at heart and all fanboy's tastes are circumspect. to love the horror genre is also to love some crap-awful movies. oh what the hell. that bad taste will wash out in a few days. in the mean time i'm going to get another beer.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

a single

i've been lying low the past couple of days sitting quietly and doing nothing. took a couple of much needed days off work to rest, read, watch, listen and sit on my ass. i am also recovering from a cold that developed last weekend and man i'm here to testify that feeling like shit sure can ruin a mood. not that i'm complaining so much since the weather here has been unbearably hot, triple digits, making going outside and doing anything a real bitch.

well but anyway, i did read the paper but mostly avoided the news. read the markets tanked on thursday, a heavy chunks of space debris will land some where, possible here, tho i doubt it since i am writing this on saturday night and i think the satellite was expected to fall by this time. news is bad, all round, but still can't help but enjoy being alive. even if my state of being includes the shivers, a cough and a nose that won't stop running.

also heard that the great band r.e.m. called it quits. not lamenting that fact. i stopped listening to them long ago. at least since automatic for the people, i think. i saw them perform only once in 1989 when they were on tour in support of their great album green. i've used the word 'great' twice now in the space of three sentences in reference to r.e.m. because they were great. together the quartet, bill berry on drums, mike mills on bass and vocals, peter buck on guitar, and michael stipe on vocals, together were, like the beatles, a sum greater than their parts.

every now and again we hear or see something that changes us and defines us. if we are lucky we have these experiences several times in our life. the changes that happen might be hard to pinpoint but the definitions are relatively easy. our tastes changes, or minds expand, protocals are exploded etc. for me one of those moments is the song 'radio free europe' by r.e..m. i've had many such experiences, i don't think i'm unique in this respect at all, we've all had them, but 'radio free europe' when i first heard it broke open the borders that at the time what i thought defined me. the song was nothing like i heard before. the vocals are low in the mix. the jangly guitars riding even with the rhythm section and the lyrics, fuck i couldn't tell you what the song was about. plus stipe's angular, beautiful singing enchanted me. yes, the music haunted me. haunts me still. suddenly, when i heard that song, i had another definition of what it means to be alive.

that might sound like hyperbole but it isn't. there are other songs, poems, and movies that have done similar damage to me. i've read enough poems on mingus and bird to know that the jazz greats have also had such an effect on others. i can't quite say why it does, i can only mention how it does. perhaps there is something like growing up in the post-hippie era when a song had a certain structure and sentiment. then when i got into punk rock there was some real fresh air in circulation. by the time r.e.m. released their single the pop song was invented anew for my generation and for any one willing to listen. i was at the time brought to tears by their music. not for the last time. other songs, such as 'fall (on me)", 'driver 8', 'south central rain', and 'superman' have had similar effect on me. those are beauties. r.e.m. crafted great albums too like life's rich pageant, murmer and the aforementioned green.

i own several albums by r.e.m. but only one on cd. the rest are on cassette. that's how long it's been since i've listened to r.e.m. part of that is getting older and not updating my collection. but then hell the band sonic youth is also a bellwether in my life and i still have yet to upgrade their album daydream nation from cassette to cd. guess it doesn't matter. the music continues to buzz in my head, my ear and my words. what i can do is simply give thanks.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

yes : music

a few months ago i wrote a post titled the no : music. that post was my thinking out loud my own fears and desires of what i want from my writing. there is a danger i think of making categorical statements that begin with 'always' and 'never'. as we often later discover after making such statements that the world is present in its varies forms and it, you and i occupy the spaces between yes and no.

my wanting no music in my writing stems from my belief that i am a citizen of the world and i am seeking a translatability in my work. my poems, i hope, are translations already of the language buzzing in my head to the words i write down to i hope an easy vehicle to other languages. i've been greatly influenced by translations and i want my poems to also translate from my language to another without losing meaning. that, and i am also mostly a film kind of guy and if i had to do my education over again i'd probably go to film school and study filmmaking not in the hope of becoming a director or screenwriter but to learn the techniques of cinema for use in my writing. because i am a hopeless case. i knew what i wanted to be and do at age 16. i wanted to be a writer. when i hit my late teens and early 20s that desire for writing transmogrified into poetry. i've been a sucker ever since.

still but so music is essential in my life. punk rock defines me still, from my political stances to how i wear my hair, the tattoos i've burnished onto my skin and the chuck t's i wear on my feet. ever since i heard the dead kennedy song 'california uber alles' when i was 15 i've been a sucker ever since. how music shapes my writing is too complicated to tease out. i will say that song lyrics have had as much influence on my poetry as have poems. when i go to youtube -- which is pretty damn near every day, at least for a while -- i learn over again that the video website is great for films but even better for live music. my tastes in music can be called catholic. i am no longer the snarling young punk who shouted 'kill the poor' in my best mock swiftian repose. my range has broadened and admits the music i once disdained. my only critiria for live performances is that it be passionate. i love it when the band, or performer, smile in mid-play because i know they are enjoying it as much as i am. when the crowd is sweaty and jumping and swaying i think that there may still be hope for our humanity.

it is that kind of ecstatic joy that i hope i can get into some of my writing. we are here for a short while. we cause great suffering. but we are also the cause of tremendous pleasure, joy and kindnesses. when we are young we want to be brooding and dark and dangerous. we want to be little rimbauds fucking shit up taken seriously for serious artists. we suffer and want the world to know our suffering and that we suffer for the world. yes, there is much to that. there is also the dickinsonian tradition toward ecstatic repose. to find the world in a drop of dew and delight in it. this station will be gone soon. in the meantime, love and find love and share love and create love. in the end the beatles got it damn right, 'in the end the love you take / is equal to the love you make'. perhaps more so because the worlds around us need an increase in kindness and love. look around. i learned that in a song.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

temporal modality

if the walls shimmy and you shake
to singing the chorus of an old song
you spin me right round like a record
as you gallomp thru the house
mercy on the child who stops
you in mid-arc when he asks
daddy, what is a record?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


to and fro

i get a fucking cold

i have nothing but

a pocket full of sudafed

and a bellyfull of nyquil

* * *

timor mortis conturbat me

Saturday, September 17, 2011

sitting around doing nothing

which is simply one of my favorite things to be doing in all the world. instead, anna and i worked in the front yard and back garden planting mums and putting down bark making it look like fall is coming. i think we did a fair job, more than fair, and the front and back of the house, garden-wise, looks damn pretty. but then i am biased towards our house as we live in the 1925 california bungalow and it is the sort of house i wished i lived in if i didn't already live here.

if that makes sense. nick and i did some shopping this evening and as we were driving thru mid-town to get back home, this was about 8:15 pm, we passed a couple of night spots, clubs and restaurants, and the streets were packed with partiers out looking for a good time. nick asked if this is THE TOWN. i ask him to explain what he means. THE TOWN as nick defines it is downtown, the center of the city. i say no, this is mid-town, downtown is further on down the street, but, i continued, we live in a very lively part of the city. and, i told nick, we are lucky to live here.

see because i love urban living. okay, my burg ain't no sf, or la, or nyc, but it is plenty lively and big enough for me. and you can't beat the weather. today was gorgeous early fall weather. sun was shining as the high temperature hit the mid 80s. it is the light in northern california that's killer. i've always thought that if the post-impressionist painters witnessed our light they'd fucking die of happiness.

well but so nick and i went to one of those spirit halloween stores, the kind of temporary seasonal shop that sets up in a vacant store. nick was a bit nervous as he is old enough to learn to be frightened by things. there are some scary items in that store such as a life-size animatronic pinhead from the hellraiser films. nick was brave as we explored the store. he even bought himself a thing of blood, liquid candy housed in an i.v. drip bag. as for me i thought the store was indeed terrifying because when i asked the lady behind the counter if they had cd's for sale -- halloween music and soundscapes [i've bought scores of halloween cd's over the years, usually from seasonal halloween shops] -- she said no. they don't sell. no more cd's! that's how the world turns, i guess.

then we hit the local barnes and noble. the only big box bookstore around. c'est la vie. i do remember a time when the only bookstores were local indies before the big box stores put them out of business. now it appears that the big guys can't cut it and the survivors are the little indies. irony of ironies! the reason i wanted to go to b&n is because i still had 35 dollars on a gift certificate and there was a certain art book i've had my eye on for most of the summer. the art book cost 60 bucks and i am normally skittish about paying that much for almost anything. not that i'm a cheapie. i just couldn't justify the expense to myself for myself. but then. . .i splurged. because it was half price with the gift certificate. nick wanted a magazine about model airplanes. that boy is totally into mechanical things. he likes the things that are made and how they are made. don't know where he gets it from. he's naturally good with numbers. i am not. nor can i make or build stuff nor do i care to make or build stuff. nick loves those things that go zoom.

but then the boy just finished his second week of 1st grade. he's got many, many years to discover who he will become. his mother and me are along to guide him and be amazed by him. and we are indeed amazed by him.

the art book, you wonder? nobody's fool by yoshitomo nara. i discovered nara's work in 2000 at the sfmoma. okay, call me a savage, a philistine, whatever. i love pop and pop art. i don't distinguish between high and low arts. the division is artificial and rather silly. but give me a good graphic design over a great painting by, say, jacque louis david any day. well, okay, i won't have to choose pop art or classical works. looking over nara's paintings i am sure that he was influenced by another favorite of mine, phillip guston. there is also a diy aesthetic at play in nara that suits me just fine. in nara that aesthetic is rather warm and inclusive and his pop idioms express a connection with the viewer and their maker that i find lacking in other pop artists. then again, it could be because nara loves punk rock and made a drawing about my favorite band, social distortion. that could be it. whatever the means, nara is my sort of dude.

Friday, September 16, 2011

life lesson

many lessons many years
over the long haul
i've learned that we
are never too old to rock

Thursday, September 15, 2011


poesy might need no defense but some times it needs to be told it is loved so i say i love you

because one might not need have a degree or be the smartest one in the room

because language is the force field that surrounds us and binds us

because poesy is with me always it is in the air it is everywhere

because of the sense and sound of these words

because even when i am feeling half dead i am so alive

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

i can scare myself with my own desert places

this is my favorite time of year
and halloween is my favorite holiday
but of course for a guy who has a pumpkin
inked on his shoulder everyday
as ministry said is halloween
there is a bit more spring
in my step because of the change
in light and season
as i make my peregrinations
thru my beloved town

last night i watched 'real' ghost videos
at youtube and yes i know the vids
are all crap fake and silly but it got late
and my defences were down
my head was bent toward the screen
and out of the corner of my eye
was a play of light and shadow
shaped like some thing
just so which startled the devil
out of me

ah i love how the human mind
even when it knows better
can scare itself
such is the magic of the movies
that is able to lift the curtain of disbelief

i recall using a ouija board with
an old girlfriend
the protocol if i recall correctly
is to say goodbye to the spirit
you were talking to
when you are done
we forgot and let the board
hit the floor
a few minutes later i said oh shit
we forgot to say goodbye
so i placed a finger on the planchette
said goodbye and that planchette
with me hardly touching it
bolted to the word GOODBYE

i knew it was me making the words
but damn how so it gave me the chills

Saturday, September 10, 2011

a night at the opera

actually it was an evening at the drive-ins but i couldn't help but make a reference to the great old marx bros. movie. the place was packed. the local drive-in theater has six screens and is called, natch, the sac 6. i've been seeing flicks at the sac 6 for as long as i remember. that was in another century. now it is a new century. b. picked me up in his prius. we stopped at the local jimboys to pick up some tacos and burritos. b. also made a quick stop at the store before he collected me to get a couple bags of chips and drinks. thus we were well fortified for the night out. the sac 6 earlier this new millennium was near death. the place was crumbling. the bathrooms were shot. the snack bar was unspeakable. you took your life in your hands if you bought food there at the snack bar. a few years ago, in the midst of the drive-in's decrepitude, i was walking around the snack bar area. the snack bar is in a building constructed in a circle like the hub of a wheel while the spokes are the six screens. i was walking outside this circle looking in and saw a girl digging into a large open container of relish for her hot dog. she must've seen my look of horror. why on earth would any eat from any open container in that joint?! the girl returned my look with one that spoke, who is this crazy old man?! now the sac 6 is cleaned up considerably. the bathrooms are clean and the food at the snack bar appears edible. i say appears because i've still not worked up enough nerve to eat there. no matter as the place usually has a long line and is filled with the latest video games. it was a lovely if very warm evening. we watched a flick called warrior [2011], a mixed martial arts rocky styled flick of no plot and too little action. doesn't matter as we were more in to the ambiance of the place. a car parked in front of us half way into the pic. out spilled a mother, father and three very small tykes. they took off soon as they stopped their car to the snack bar. they returned a few minutes later with the children each carrying a lighted sword, a toy they sell at the snack bar, and these kids spent the reminder of the run-time of the movie chasing each other with their swords. these children were more entertaining then the movie which we couldn't hear very well anyway. again, no matter. i couldn't think of any other place to be on a night like tonight. as faulkner said, the past is not past because it hasn't even passed. looking out to the others sitting beneath the one or two stars twinkling in our city sky i could easily think it was the 1970s. but then a different twinkling broke that spell. because all around us were the lights from phones as every one, and their mothers, texted to who knows about god knows what.

Thursday, September 08, 2011


standing on the corner

waiting for the light to go by

freeway off ramp

red truck runs red light

* * *

for a few seconds

lucky for me

i looked

for a few seconds time stops

* * *

it goes like that

chance and luck

and chance again

if i am here

* * *

i am here

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

hachi: a dog's tale [2009]

we have a dvr. a great pleasure in owning a dvr is the ability to record tv shows and movies at will. i have a habit now. before i leave for work i scan a few favorite channels to see what if anything is worth recording. i found this movie, watched a few minutes of it while i was dressing, thought it was interesting, then turned the tv off. but when i got home this movie was just starting so i hit the dvr to record it. we ended up watching it as it recorded just the same.

i'm a fan of richard gere. he stars in this flick. so does joan allen. she plays gere's wife. gere is a music professor who takes the train to and from work. one night he finds a stray puppy at the station, an akita, a real cutie. gere takes the puppy home. he falls in love with the puppy despite his wife's protestations of having another dog [it's very strongly hinted that the couple lost a dog in the recent past]. she gives in. man and dog make an inseparable bond.

i'm also a fan of sweet-natured movies. this one is very sweet. gere is a wonderful man, husband and father. his wife is a terrific woman, wife and mother. they live in an idylic small town. richard gere is incredibly good looking. he gets better looking as he ages. i mentioned this flick to a coworker the next day and she asked if the movie features the young richard gere or the older one with grey hair. i say the older one. she says, YUMMY!!!!

there you are. swedish arthouse filmmaker lasse hallstrom was responsible for this film. i'm not sure if this movie is a remake of a japanese original. the story is based on a true story of the bond between a japanese professor and the stray akita he adopts in the 1920s. i'll say no more. i will say that if you get to the last 10 minutes and you are not balling your eyes out then you might want to consider making an appointment with your doctor. your heart may be defective.

i loved this movie. i think it needs no defence. there must be a space for movies that are about feelings, heart, sentiment, without any bloodshed or explosions, cgi or the wicked machinations of players looking to score. there must be a space for the tear-jerkers, those movies that were once called four hanky affairs. this movie is sentimental like william saroyan's novel the human comedy is sentimental. you can't get to the end of that book without reaching for your hanky or drying your eyes on your sleeves. so goes too this movie entered the world with little fanfare. it is sure worth your time.

Monday, September 05, 2011

long day's journey to the end of summer

tho it really never felt like summer to me. maybe it was because the weather had been so mild. maybe it's because i'm a grown man and those easy, breezy days of long nothings are way behind me. maybe it's because we didn't make it to the drive-in movies -tho b. and i have made tentative plans for next weekend to go to the drive-ins.

whatever the case we tried to make the most of it today. we spent a few hours at the public pool where we have season passes. we all have deep tans acquired from hours spent poolside and in the chlorinated waters. i read for about an hour in the back garden before we left. a memoir by the poet alex lemon. i read a chapbook published in i think black warrior review a couple years ago and enjoyed the poems. i think that's the name of the journal but i'm too lazy right now to get up off my behind and search for it among the stacks. i'm on a memoir fix i guess. i just finished nick flynn's book about post-911 paranoia and torture and fatherhood, the ticking is the bomb. i've not read flynn's poetry but for the odd poem here and there. i had read flynn's first prose book, another bullshit night in suck city, which i didn't care for. just the same, flynn has a winning voice and his fatherhood book is quite good. as for lemon's book it's too early to tell but i have a soft spot for poetic fuck-ups so we'll see how this one goes.

what is even more strange about this summer is how the three months of hot weather passed and i didn't watch one beach movie. usually, summer ain't summer if i don't see frankie avalon and annette funicello do their thing. that again might account for why summer this go round didn't feel all that summery.

whatever the case. summer is done. the light's changed. soon the days and nights will grow colder. already the stores and shops are setting up for halloween. that puts a bounce in my step. i'm no longer a boy of summer. i am a man of autumn, and winter. perhaps that goes with my advancing age, even if i still feel pretty damn youthful. no wonder then that the end of summer is a still drop while the beginning of fall is a leap of joy.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

quote unquote

down yesterday
up today
it's just
the magic
of being

* * *

I'm at my best
when I'm Mr Nobody
only happens when I'm alone
so no one ever sees him but me

* * *

as long as I can shit
piss & fuck
I'm flying

--billy jones

Thursday, September 01, 2011

es verdad

is the title of the newest chap by jim mccrary published as a pdf e-book. it's a complete delight. then again, i'm rather biased toward mccrary as a man and poet. in my book, there is no other. still, you should read his work. start here. if you'd like a copy of es verdad email me. i'm sure mccrary, that great diy poeta, wouldn't mind that i send copies to whomever asks for them. this is a book of pics of horses taken in the yucatan where mccrary and his wife, painter sue ashline, have travelled for 20 years, and accompanying texts. the real clincher for me is a photo of the author and a dog that would melt the heart of any winter warlock. the expression of the dog will slay you. it's a killer, and so is this book.