Friday, August 31, 2012

creative reading

if i ever teach [god help me!] i'd develop a course with the above title.  every creative writing program hosts the obligatory workshop.  but how many teach the love of reading? 

one would assume that students would already possess that love in abundance by the time they've signed the application for the program of their choice.  but if student attendance in mfa programs matched poetry book sales then we might indeed have poets who could live off royalties. 

not so.  it seems that not every writer is also a reader.  hence my course because a writer is nothing if not a reader too.  everything is grist for writing.  everything.  including reading.  texts are built upon texts.  why; because reading is the greatest pleasure [or one of the greater pleasures] for the writer.  reading is inspiration.  reading is writing.  one of my favorite sub-genres of portraiture are photographs of readers.  especially photos of my favorite writers reading.  if you google jose kozer you'll find some pics of kozer reading and i think they are some of the most beautiful of the kind of genre i'm talking about.  kozer's poise, reading glasses, the way the book fits into his hands, are all testaments to a life of adventure and pleasure.

adventuring is reading/writing.  i've thought of getting a skateboard recently but i'd kill myself on a board.  i've done a few skydives in my life but to quote a poet-friend, i'd rather jump into the oed.  it would seem that writing/reading would be the safer activity than skydiving and skateboarding.  physically reading/writing is the safer activity.  but it is also one of the riskiest.  why qualify that statement at all.

for proof please check out the blog of one of the greatest poetry readers/critics steven fama's the glade of theoric ornithic hermetica.  for the past several days i've been reading thru its archives with great delight.  fama is a serious poetry lover, yes, but reading thru his essays and you discover how powerfully life- and thought-changing poetry is.  fama's writing speaks for itself.  it doesn't need me to defend it.  i'd love to see a collection of steven fama's writing published in the fetishized form of paper pages and a glued spine.  fama is one of those adventurers i spoke of and is an exemplar of creative reading.


when the chair speaks

Beloved be the ones who sit down.
Beloved be the one who works by the day, by the month, by the hour.
Beloved be the one who sweats out of pain or out of shame.
The person who goes, at the order of his hands, to the movies.
The one who pays with what he does not have...
The one who sleeps on his back.
The one who no longer remembers his childhood.
Beloved be the one who sits down.

--cesar vallejo [from the poem stumble between two stars.  translation was the inspiration for the film songs from the second floor [2000]]

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

now a few lines
electric blue hum
another distraction

* * *

sleepy and  alert
          thinking of crows
               erotics of attention
lines by larry eigner

* * *

stepped out the door

3:47 pm -- 3:54 pm

Monday, August 27, 2012

it's intermission time!

this is the last week of summer.  last unofficial week that is before the kids go back to school and minds turn toward autumn.  what's more summer-like than an evening at the drive-in? 

below is a vid that is the next best thing to being at the drive-in.  it's a favorite of mine and  the video is so redolent of summer nights.  listening to it and watching the flyers you can almost smell the bbq and feel the swelter in the air.  the announcer is a d.j. playing early rock&roll and shilling the grub at the snack bar.  not sure where and when the recording was made but i guess it's probably the early 1960s and, given the d.j.'s accent, the drive-in is located in the south. 

the flyers are crudely made to sell the exploitation movies shown at the drive-in.  they are like outsider art in their plaintive simplicity.  i fucking love 'em!

this video is a love letter to the drive-in experience and was made by the seattle dvd outfit something weird video.   i have lots of swv discs in my collection and all of their dvds are packed with extras like this one.  but this one is my favorite of favorites.

let's all go to the drive-in and get ourselves a treat!

Friday, August 24, 2012

would you believe

the only thing i had to read in a reno hotel room was a gideon's bible

i sat on the john and read THE PSALMS

Gather Around and Taste the Star Shine

reading the iron in a meteorite is the same as the iron content of our blood
the chemistry of body and the cosmos recalls an acid trip
one late summer night at the american river under a full moon
light trails from one or two stars striated my vision and slowed time
i was the star of my own movie played at half-speed
that's when i knew the stuff that made my mind and body
is the same stuff that composed the moonlight and starshine
i was totally out of it i quoted a line from that flick where the hippy says,
let it be known SATAN was an acidhead drink from my cup and let's all freak out

Thursday, August 23, 2012

slow day

i  had a slow day too.  jean vengua published a marvelous poem-essay yesterday about having a slow day which inspired me.  i love slow days when the mind is free to wander and the stress of life lifts for a while.  esp. as the weather and light changes to fall.  i think of halloween and pumpkin pie.  two of life's greatest pleasures.

today i clicked around a bit at the poetry foundation blog harriet.  the usual po-biz shit but there were a few cool pieces.  like this informative post about mexican poet-activist javier sicilia on a month-long peace caravan in the u.s. about the stupidities of the war against drugs and the escalating gang violence in mexico.  sicilia lost his son to the violence.  i have no words to add but offer up peace of my own.

there was also this story about poets and their day jobs.  all i have to add is duh!  no surprise that poets need to eat too and pay mortgages.  i think the myth of the romantic poet suffering in his/her garrett for their art is way past moldy.  as the cuban-born poet jose kozer said of himself [i'm paraphrasing cuz i'm too lazy to get up and find a direct quote], i'm a poet who worries about how his pension will rise.  i had a shower this morning.  etc. etc.  i bought the messianic trees: selected poems by kit robinson at city lights bookstore a couple weeks ago.  robinson works, as you might recall, in the computer industry.  many of his texts are about the language of work and how the lingo changes the life.  in one marvelous prose poem robinson iterates the details of his day and the poem is for me an utter delight.  so as a poet who has a day job too what i say to younger poets: stop worrying.  if poetry is your life then you'll make that life happen whether you have to punch a clock or no.  in fact, having a job can get you out of  yourself and open you and your texts to happy accident and surprise.  the poetry does not die even if you are on the assembly line.

finally i saw this piece on writer roxane gay.  this was my first encounter with gay's name and her writing so i can't comment on her work.  i did enjoy her guide to becoming a writer.  and i fell in love with the photo of her.  click on the link above to see it.  can't quite explain my feelings regarding the pic but she has this absolutely wonderful presence.  perhaps it's her tattoos, as i'm fond of the ink, which marry well with her sensible blue shirt and khakis.  a doubling of bohemia and intellect.  whatever i'm reaching for it's a great photo of a singular woman. 

okay that's it.  time again to go slow.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012


for john b-r

watching snakehead terror [2004] on the chiller channel

after having the shit scared out of me watching another killer episode

of paranormal witness

yep, i like killing brain cells and the entropy of tv

even if culture experts claim, going on now 60 years,

tv is the beginning of the end of our civilization

started the day reading some poems by anselm hollo

hope as long as the weather will hold

as it did and it does

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Sunday, August 19, 2012

war of the worlds [2005]

okay, don't hate but i'm not the largest fan of steven spielberg's films.  a few early ones, like jaws [1975] and duel [1971] are awesome.  his more recent work is, to my taste, rather schmaltzy.  that does not detract from spielberg's talent as a filmmaker.  he's very, very good.

which brings me to this flick.  i'm kinda live-blogging as it is playing as i type.  i'm up late, as usual.  we'd come home after seeing a play tonight with our good friends b. and c.  the play, a musical, was quite entertaining about love gone wrong , then right, in a north florida trailer park.  now i'm having a beer and watching spielberg's revision of director byron haskins' classic h.g. wells' adaptation from 1953.

i've pressed the pause button [we have a dvr which is great because we can record our favorite programs and pause live tv for a while when we want to] at the scene where tom cruise loses his son on a hilltop when the u.s. military is getting its ass handed to it by the invading aliens and tom and his daughter take refuge in tim robbins' house.  robbins turns out to be an utter psycho that endangers cruise and daughter so cruise kills robbins because of. . .um. . .i'm not sure.  i mean cruise could leave robbins to his insanity and his house.  but he doesn't.  out of desperation cruise knocks off -- conveniently off-camera for despite the dire circumstances of an alien species systematically killing off earth's dominant species this is still a family film -- robbins. 

but then that's why i'm watching the flick, other than the terrific special fx.  spielberg does great at creating these large tableaux of human drama.  the panic and horror in the crowd scenes are fantastic, master classes of filmmaking.  the scene where cruise is trying to drive thru a crowd of people to get to a ferry but is stopped by the crowd is beguiling.  spielberg's thing, or theme, is ordinary people caught in extraordinary circumstances.  he does that very well.  makes watching some of his more sentimental films bearable when crowd scenes are boiled down to the scale of individual drama.

good movie?  i'll leave that up to the individual viewer.  good, bad, whatever.  films are finally drawn to individual tastes.  i like this film for the crowd scenes.  i'm still not a cruise fan.  he is a good, but overrated, actor.  at least he is to me.  but what do i know.  whenever i watch a cruise film -- and surely each film he is in is a cruise film -- i'm humbled by his charisma, good looks and his abilities as an actor that i have to rethink my own opinions about him and the choices he has made as an actor.

i'll leave that out of this piece for the moment.  i'm going to hit the play button and watch this movie for as long as i can. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Plop of Samuel Pepys

could have been worse but certainly been better at home watching a very good sleeper from spain before the fall [2008] by javier gutierrez washed out daylight dusty plains as a meteor is about to wipe out the planet and yet damn if the movie really wasn't about the end of the world but the dynamics of a man who is awkward and dumb who rises to protect his brother's children i am impressed by the filmmaker whose deft hand controlled the perfect pitch of the flick but then after the movie ends i go online looking at skateboard vids of pro skater rodney mullen whose book how to skateboard and not kill yourself i thumbed thru a couple weeks ago and almost bought it but i know that if yep i do try to skate i will probably kill myself but i like the title and thought of penning a primer in verse titled how to write poetry without killing yourself too late i think what the fuck i should be writing this in code

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

totally like don't care about the summer movie season anymore.  i've seen only one flick this summer, dark knight rises, which i wrote a review and i was frankly underwhelmed by the pic.  i think my review was a bit more positive.  oh well.  not that i no longer love films but frankly the summer movie season -- and recall i was 8 years old when jaws was released which is credited as being the first summer flick to bust the block; i've lived with summer blockbusters nearly my whole life and i would get jazzed about summertime moviegoing -- frankly sucks.

why name names here.  i mean movies that fail to compel my interest.  i've seen only two movies this whole summer.  the other was battleship.  i took nick to the drive-ins earlier this summer and battleship was the only movie that was even remotely age appropriate for nick.  i keenly love drive-ins and everything about them but with battleship i nearly lost my faith in humanity.

at any rate, the summer in nearly done.  i want to take nick back to the drive-in one last time.  and my great friend b. and i have not done our annual summer drive-in knock-out too.  the weather should be warm until october so b. and i still have a couple months to get our asses in gear and get to the drive-in.

speaking of october, yep, that's right brothers and sisters.  halloween.  i need a witness.  i nearly bumped into the halloween candy displays at the grocery store yesterday.  it's still hotter than the surface of the sun here in sac but there are traces of fall in the changing foliage of chinese pistache trees and that great golden northern california light. 

i'll be doing my 60 days of halloween beginning in september.  i won't be posting stuff everyday but when i find something cool to write about and/or watch a good really bad movie to review you'll see it under EVERDAY IS HALLOWEEN title on top of the usual poems, sketches and bits and pieces posted here.

in the meantime, i've stopped worrying about whether good movies will be produced again.  i'm catching up on episodes of paranormal witness on the syfy channel.  allegedly true tales of hauntings and other strange encounters that are sometimes pretty scary viewing.  follow that link and you can watch some episodes and judge for yourself. 

happy haunting.


Monday, August 13, 2012

quote unquote

There in your grief itself is your emancipation.  Your tears are the blood of the universe, coming forth elsewhere in the song of the cuckoo and the darting of geckos.  Each breath is truly inspiration and then expiration, life and death.  Every day really is a good day.

-- robert aitken

Lines After a Poem by James Wright

the chinese pistache trees are starting to brighten
the air is hot and smudgy brown
acrid to the taste

fall catalogs arrive in the mail
i have seen the first halloween magazines

at the checkout line
and i am in love

Saturday, August 11, 2012

looking at a painting by joan brown
i said to p. she's a bay area figurative painter
p. said, i don't see a figure
i said, look among the washes of color and thick paints
the look might cause you to shift to a new position

Friday, August 10, 2012

san francisco days/sacramento nights

got off the train after spending a few day in sf and fucking a!  the triple digits hit me like a nuclear bomb.  i'm a native sac-tan so 100 plus degrees is not unknown to me in august but being in the bay area where the skies were sunny and the days in the hight 60s and lo 70s -- in other words, a kind of paradise -- that to be out of 100 degrees even for a few days is a shock to the systems.

in sf: hung out with jonathan hayes and his wife yuki; went to the sfmoma where i did see the cindy sherman exhibit but was blown away by a few joseph cornells, a few paul klees, and a small display of sf diy artists dubbed THE MISSION SCHOOL particularly the work of rigo 23 who photographed flyers for lost kittens then sent those pics to his grandmother -- if i remember this right -- for her to sew those pics into frabrics for display; ate lots, drank lots; fell in love with the sounds of the city, again; i am a walker and sf is a city made for shoes as i explored many parts of the city on foot without realizing the distance i covered.

i am glad to be home.  sf is a gorgeous city.  sac is my home.  both cities need not be jealous of each other.  i am in love with that lot of them, and all so luscious.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

me, an acmeist

just for a day

between chores and errands read parts of osip mandelstam's collected critical prose

then reread seamus heaney's essay on the mandelstams

 acmeists demanded a hellenic clarity

a 'thisness' of our world

acmeism reminded me a little of the poems of thom gunn


the day ended with talking with jonathan hayes on the phone

then logging on to watch the landing of the curiosity mars probe

Saturday, August 04, 2012


the ascendancy of china as a world economic power assumes greater cultural currency.  generally artists, filmmakers, writers and so on enter into world consciousness as a country acquires such vast wealth as china is doing.  ever more so for china because china threatens to eclipse the united states as the sole superpower.  that china practices capitalism but a capitalism without democracy, without a population guaranteed inalienable civil rights, i think will force us in the western world to rethink the dynamics of capitalism.  for we in the u.s. grew up believing capitalism, human rights, and democracy go hand in hand.  in china they do not. 

and yet china produced the artist ai wei wei.  ai is as much influenced by western art, especially conceptual and pop art, as he is by chinese traditions.  at least he seems influenced by western conceptual and pop art to my own untrained eye.  now there is a documentary on ai wei wei that is in current release in the u.s.  i've not seen the docu but i sure have been following ai's dissident activism ever since he came into my consciousness a couple years ago. 

not that i'm a ai wei wei specialist.  just a fan.  both for his courage in the face of government oppression and his art.  what is also very admirable is ai's embrace of digital technologies like twitter and blogs in order to create and communicate with the larger world. 

the title of this post was also the title of an exhibition by ai.  the title of the docu is never sorry.  both are true statements, i believe, from ai. 

the 20th century was filled with political artist dissidents, mandelstam, a great influence on many writers including me, died in a soviet gulag.  we have not moved beyond repressive regimes and the 21st century now has more than a few dissidents from china.  i wonder if there are chinese poets who, like ai, have embraced digital technologies, social media, and own life stories like ai.  there must be.  who are they?

i can't embed the trailer for this documentary.  there are other trailers for this same docu available but i like how this particular trailer is cut with some seriously good content.  you can find it by clicking here

Friday, August 03, 2012

from the trailer park

pump up the volume [1990]

a very good teen us-vs.-them flick.  i can't believe this movie was released way back when.  i've seen it only once at a second-run theater that charged 75 cents admission.  those kinds of movie houses are long gone.  so is the premise of this movie: pirate radio.  christian slater is solid as the brainy outlaw d.j.  samantha mathis is his love interest and she is an utterly unsung actor.  she is, at least for my eyes and ears, a pleasure to watch whatever the film.


Thursday, August 02, 2012

I Remember

i remember entering the 40000 sq ft antique mall when antique shops were all the rage with my mother-in-law who looked around at that vastness and said, 'god, we humans make a lot of crap'

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

alfred e. neuman haiku

late for work i stumble out the door
100 degrees already
a cat stops me dead in my tracks with a *what? me worry?* look

click this

a new issue of the brilliant zine otoliths

i'm all a'dazzle

lots to read and see and explore

two faves at the moment

these earthy poems by paul summers

and these electro-dynamic visual pieces by james mclaughlin

read it, brothers and sisters