Tuesday, May 31, 2011

the cartographer's sigh

when i lifted my head out of bed
this morning i had to check the date
on the calendar for the season is still rain & cold

5/31 -- wtf?!
i then checked first a map
then my gps device

to see if somehow sac
switched with seattle
or maybe i was in sweden after all

Friday, May 27, 2011

prince of serendip

after nick and anna went to bed i switched the remote to the movie channels to see what's to see. revenge of the nerds [1984] was about half-way thru. i tuned in where the nerds pay a visit to u.n. jefferson, assayed by the gallant bernie casey, head of the fraternity lamda lamda lamda in order to found their own chapter at adams college. this is a wonderful comedy. long a favorite of mine so i watched it all the way to the rousing finale with the nerds gathering the crowd at homecoming to the swelling chords of 'we are the champions' by queen. brings a tear to my eye everytime.

what caught my eye tonight is gilbert's [played by anthony edwards] girlfriend, judy of the omega moos, who looked terribly familiar but i couldn't quite place her face. then i remembered her other films. i always thought that the character judy was pretty cute underneath her large-rimmed glasses and oversized coveralls, details that try to hide her prettyness and emphasize a nerditude favored by the filmmakers. judy is played by michelle meyrink who turned in another nerd love interest in real genius [1985] and one of the cool val-chicks in what i humbly consider one of the great love stories of all time valley girl [1983]. meyrink i don't think did very many roles after the 1980s.

so i looked her up at imdb.com and on the message board i learned meyrink is in a documentary on zen buddhism titled zen buddhism: chop wood, carry water that can be watched in its entirety at youtube.com. guess what i did next. yep, i watched the documentary. now here is where it gets interesting, at least for me. recently i've been reading the poems, essays, and blog of zen priest/poet norman fischer and fischer, along with meyrink, is the focus of the documentary. there you have it, movies and poetry, and zen, in one place as if the planets aligned and brought it all home as a single package.

goofy yeah, but i'll take what i can get. the documentary is okay, doesn't dive very deep into its subject but how could it at less than 30 minutes. it is lovely to see both fischer and meyrink [who is still very cute, by the way] and their practice of zen buddhism. i'm not a buddhist but there is much to the discipline i find very agreeable to my own outlook and temperament.

you can watch the documentary here in parts 1, 2 and 3.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

after the word salad

--you get


quote unquote

I am a poet of failure. Failure is my art. That is what this is about.

--geof huth

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

i always need to remind myself

be positive or FUCK YOU

Monday, May 23, 2011

footsies in the water

every one here? make it thru the non rapture okay?


Friday, May 20, 2011

eschatological essays

thank god for the internets otherwise harold camping and his ilk would've made their prediction in relative obscurity and that would have been that. today, because of our media saturated world we know, everyone knows, about the rapture scheduled for tomorrow at 6:00 pm. problem is we don't know if that is eastern standard time or pacific standard time. since camping's media empire is based in oakland, california -- just down the freeway from where i now type -- maybe the world-wide earthquake will be at 6:00 pm pacific standard time.

sounds like the plot to a cheapo zombie film. but news is news and we even had a end-of-the-world potluck at work today. i brought an angel-food cake, because i am ever the hopeful optimist. anyway, two of the best responses to camping's goofball ideology is mark young's conflation between camping and california's recently departed guvanator here and tom clark's brilliant meditation found here.

so save the date, and i'll see y'all on the other side.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

quote unquote

I am on the amphetamine of the soul.

--anne sexton

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

this is the end?

naw, not really. but if you believe harold camping, a preacher who leads an evangelical radio network, the rapture is coming this saturday, 5/21/11. the chosen will be beamed up and the rest of us will be stuck here on earth to endure misery until the end of times, which is, according to camping, in october of this year.

how does camping know the rapture is well fucking nigh? the brother's got some mad arithmetic skills and saw the numbers in the bible which, if you use the right set of figures, spells out the date and the year. npr did a very good segment today on camping's equations. which begger belief.

that is the point. make the formula as esoteric as possible and viola! you got a following. camping's gone this route before. he predicted the rapture would occur in 1994. i remember that because he had a tv show on cable where he would sit before the camera with a very thick, very worn, bible on his lap and pronounce all and sundry in a very leathery voice. i wondered if he would stay on the air when his prediction turned false. i wondered if he'd still have followers.

the answer is yes and yes. if you live in the u.s. you've probably seen the billboards that exhort us to SAVE THE DATE for the rapture. as if the rapture were true you could somehow forget that may 21st 2011 is the day. imagine your chagrin when you're not beamed up and on sunday you wonder where everyone had gone. doggone it, you missed the rapture.

there's even a man in a lark that sits in downtown with a sign for us to prepare. i saw him this morning and coworkers told me he's been sitting in the same spot with the same sign for a few weeks now.

now we have a man smarter than god, stephen hawking, telling us that heaven is a fairytale. i don't know about you but i'll take the word of a theoretical physicist who's brain seems to contain the universe over sweaty, leathery preacherman. i'm not devout. i don't believe. i think when you die you die. i'm respectful of belief and awe and humility before the mysteries. i simply can't get on board with the idea of an elect being whisked away by a just, but vengeful god.

the poet told us, death is the mother of beauty. i believe that. we are finite and thus more beautiful because of it. i just read a wonderful post by canadian poet amanda earl -- click here -- who reminds us that we shall die, blink out, simply not exist anymore, so be grateful for life and for the company of our beloveds. i believe earl.

if the end comes not in a bang but a wimper, what shall we do until then. as for me, i'm surrounding myself with my beloveds because love is stronger than hate but harder to cultivate and thus more worthy of my energy. i am going to watch films, read/write poems, blog, read blogs, listen to music and remember that life is the greatest gift i'll ever know. i shall bring all that home with me. i shall bring it home.

Monday, May 16, 2011

as the pixies asked

where is my mind

--fired up the laptop
to look up a movie
& watch the trailer

then after booting up
wondered what the hell
movie i was thinking about

[revised 5/24/11, 10:01 pm]

Friday, May 13, 2011

thor [2011]

the summer movie season begun! and, man, i'm getting tired of 3-d. every fucking film is either shot, or converted to, 3-d. does it improve the film? maybe yes. maybe no. maybe, but who cares. 3-d hasn't run its course either like it did in the 1950s and '60s, early 1980s, when the movie studios thought they had to compete with television and later the development of the vcr. now the studio execs think they have to compete with every conceivable form and platform of entertainment on god's good earth. perhaps they do. after all, anecdotally, most people when asked say they prefer to watch a movie at home than at the theater.

there shall always be people who love to go to the movies. i'm living proof. so is nicholas. and we decided to see this early summer offering. in 3-d! it took a good chunk of the trailers, also in 3-d, to shake off the feeling of dizziness. normally i have a pretty strong constitution and think that those unfortunate few who barfed during screenings of the blair witch project [1999] because of its hand-held camera work are a bunch of wimps. even with such a strong stomach, and after adjusting my eyes, brain and gullet to 3-d, this flick was not improved with the added visual flair.

what to make of kenneth branagh, he who directed one of the finest film adaptations of henry v [1989] and the very fine noirish thriller dead again [1991], all low-budget indie-type fair, compared to this multi-million dollar spectacle? it was told that on a moonlit night ken walked down to the crossroads and made a bargain. maybe not. all in all, even if branagh sold his soul to the devil he made a decent action pic.

problem is, i was never a fan of thor. when i was a kid i was a religious reader of marvel comics, like spider-man, iron man, powerman & iron fist, et al., but thor was a god and to me a bit boring. at least peter parker was a mortal who also had to rely on his wits and ingenuity. thor has muscles, supernatural powers, and for a father the daddy of all gods, odin. thor was born into it, and parker had to earn his way, so to speak. for me parker was, and is still, THE MAN.

branagh chose his actors well. thor is nicely assayed by a gent with a flair for fighting and the sweets of a rom-com lead. natalie portman is the love interest but certainly no dame in distress. oh, there's anthony hopkins as odin and the wonderful actor stellan skarsgard as, um, i don't know, couldn't figure out why he was in the film. never you mind. the 3-d doesn't not add a lick to the action. however, branagh composes what might be termed the thinking person's action sequences. they somehow add to the development of the characters rather than be mere set pieces.

overall, the movie is, eh. i mean we liked it enough. and the set designs are wonderful. it is getting more and more difficult to tell the difference between cgi and real world things. but it is still a summer action flick and when thor retrieves his mighty hammer there is not a doubt in the world who will win the fight. that was not worth all the popcorn in california.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

from BLAST

lost in leafy translation
she throttles the vespa
rides the notion we might all
fall                     or is it winter
forget it
the bees explode
and bloom by her passage
                              12:38 pm 3/11/10

* * *

she remains at this threshold
it may seem like shadows surround
her or is it maybe me

i choke it back
again and offer
her another fistful of

pomegranate seeds
                              11:08 pm 4/1/10

* * *

right in the center of it
she skimmed the streets
on what looked like
a logan earth ski circa ‘78
get outta my way
i heard her cry
as she ground the trucks
against the scrim
in an ode to concrete
so sweetly it would
make old orpheus blush
                              10:32 pm 3/22/10

* * *

the fact of particles
upends my theory
of desire           as she stood there
waiting for who knows what
i don’t know                     robed
in green and holding
either 4 maybe 6 pomegranate seeds
                              10:47 pm 3/16/10

* * *

a candy colored clown called the sandman
goes the tune as she struggled to lift
the seeds of the great central valley
check out her ass
said one dumb-ass with a comb-over
the scene lit by a sprig of incense
a handle-bar mustache
and those mirrorshades
reflecting the globe of light
of a bare lamp used as the mic
                              10:53 pm 3/15/10

* * *

hits of helium makes the throat constrict
don’t know / the shadows collect
around this dizzying prospect of her
riding her vespa
at full-throttle
                              10:51 pm 4/7/10

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

morons & maniacs

the late, great philosopher george carlin distinguished two distinct types of driving personalities. 1st is the definition of the driver going faster than you: a maniac. 2nd is the definition of the driver going slower than you: a moron. thus if we read our freeways and streets as text, and enlarge our perceptions of the other, we have encountered the hermeneutics of our daily commute.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

no music

who was it that said, 'all art aspires to the condition of music'? perhaps so. esp. for poetry. but for me i've long not wanted for music in my writing. maybe it's because i grew up reading a whole lot of translated writings, from polish, french, german, you name it. i even went thru a period of reading the british martian poets, e.g. craig raine and christopher reid, because they were writing out of a translatese. and one book i'd been obsessed with, reading it obsessively, is doubled-flowering: from the notebooks of araki yasusada [roof book, 1997] because it is a fictive poet writing directly in english from an elsewhere of the japanese language.

instead of aspiring to music in my writing i turn to the cinema. images and editing techniques matter more to me. not that i don't love music. anna and i have rediscovered music and have returned to attending shows. there's some really great indie music, or is it musics, happening now. punk rock not only informed my sensibilities but changed my life. but i want a kind of writing that is not so dependent on sound. i want a translatable kind of text. not that i think i'm very successful in writing the sort of texts that i think rock, like the yasusada poems.

doesn't mean i'll stop trying. besides, movies have mattered much more in my life. when i was 16 years old i knew i wanted to be a writer. when i was 18 i discovered poetry. then i got sick. when i started to regain my health i was well on my way towards poetry as a way of life. when i returned to school i re-found the cinema and took as many film classes as i could. when i look back on it i probably would've majored in film studies rather than english. not because i wanted or want to be a filmmaker -- even if i harbor the dream of making my own crappy low-budget horror film, just for the fun of it -- but because i want to learn the techniques of filmmaking for use in my own writing.

the path of poetry was already set but i've always been a terrible student. i make mistakes and fumble. perhaps that's why i aspire to a cinema based writing that details editing-sense over sound-sense and makes awkwardness part of the aesthetic. maybe it's still the punk in me that thinks anyone can do this as long as you have the desire and the need to pick up pen or keyboard and create with a level of generosity and love of the art.

quote unquote

love night death sex fire numbers signs words

--james dickey

Thursday, May 05, 2011

film school

when i was in school & took my first film class i was amazed i mean i thought that you cut school to go the movies & that school could teach you about the movies well as you can see i have a lot to learn

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

revision & its discontents

a few days ago i emailed a poet friend and asked, 'do you do much revision'? short answer: no. my friend detailed his writing habits and how he likes to compose slowly and allow the poem to wander and make its discoveries as he teases out and delves deeper into the subject matter. he is the sort of writer that creeley called olson, 'maximus'.

i'm nearly opposite in that most of my poems are pretty short, a 'minimus' sort of poet. but like my friend i don't do much revision. i write my first drafts fast and make changes as i go. when i was in my apprentice stage i revised all the time. it is an addicting process. i also wrote mostly in longhand. which is awful, my handwriting i mean. i do keep a moleskin but most of my writing is done on the laptop. and my revisions happen on the fly of that initial pulse of writing.

what has changed is that i tend to think of poems in sequences, chapbook-length, as i compose. i'm presently writing a sequence that i think might go somewhere. i put two restrictions on this sequence, write late at night in whatever state i'm in, exhausted or not, and keep the lines to 5 in number. i don't have a theme in mind and i discovered that i'm using collage and outright quotes in the texts.

another thing has changed regarding my attitudes toward obsessive revision: i no longer think of poems as marmoreal, immortal edifices. they are more likely expressions in the process of living a life. my texts will be bumpy, fractious, good-humored, sometimes fluent, and often awkward. just like my life. or an approximation of my life. i don't believe in literary immortality, for me, or for anyone for that matter.

still, even with my sequence i think i'll need to do a bit of revision. and the poems i've posted here on this blog and saved in folders on my hard drive probably need some cleaning up. it is hard to take the obsessive out of the obsessive personality, right. one thing i've discovered in my life of writing/reading is that i've no idea where i am, we all are, heading. rather, i've learned to hang on and try to keep both hands on the wheel. soon as i think i've figured something out, i find out that there is still so much more for me to learn. i ask only to stay obsessed with my craft and sullen art, and not draw inward and cultivate an unnecessary crankiness. because everything is all wide open.