Monday, December 31, 2012


reshimmer and gladden

above the blue tv noise

entertain and bide

take up meditation and practise kindness

be considerate and still be punk as fuck

nick asked, 'what are your new year's revolutions?'

Saturday, December 29, 2012

philip whalen where ya been all my life!?

okay, i admit i'm a bit slow.  i've seen this book on the shelves for years now.  even tho i think of it as just brand new published i thought i'll pick it up next time.  it's not like whalen is an unknown poet to me.  as luck would have it my mother-in-law had a first edition paperback of donald allen's seminal and vastly influential anthology the new american poetry 1945 - 1960.  i said had because i 'borrowed' it some -- oh i dunno -- 20 years ago.  it's beside me as i type.  whalen is of course in that anthology.

and poets that are very important to me, like lew welch and the german buddhist stefan hyner [who if you don't know his work stop what you are doing right now and google his name for hyner is one of those rare birds who is political, earthy, and mystical at once], who were greatly influenced by whalen.  all that and i've never really read whalen.

until this morning.  last night on the way home i stopped at time-tested books and bought overtime: selected poems [penguin; 1999].  i began reading it this morning on the john.  if i may allow myself a cliche here, i was totally fucking blown away.  this is a poet who is cranky, silly, earthy [again that word, but this is a quality i think important because to be earthy is to know that we are human; every human posses desires, has to eat and shit, loves and hates, has sleep-gummed eyes (a title of a poem by another very important poet in my life, jimmy schuyler) is born and will die] and wise.  this is a poet that speaks to me with a very deep but goofy voice. 

still too early to quote from the old buddhist abbot.  i need to really immerse myself in whalen.  i think i read somewhere that michael rothenberg [another fine poet and whalen's literary executor (if i have that correct)] is at work on a collected whalen.  in the meantime below is a poem by lew welch that features whalen in his zen earthiness.

                   Whalen's Feet

      One day Philip Whalen and I were walking down Howard Steet, near 4th, in San Francisco,
and Philip had to take a piss.  I wasn't drinking then, or at least not that early, so I stayed outside
on the corner, in the sunshine until he returned.

          This is how he greeted me:

          "I really hate to piss in skid-row bars, the floors are always wet and I have holes in my shoes."

Thursday, December 27, 2012

beyond and back

just returned from a show.  b. and i headed downtown to the ace of spades to see x, live and in person.  all original members, too, d.j. bonebrake, billy zoom, exene cervenka and john doe.  i was whelped on punk and x has loomed large in my life for over 30 years now.  but i've never, until tonight, seem them live.  don't know why.

the band was a tight unit.  aside from some minor p.a. system problems x ripped it up.  john doe always had a golden voice and the harmonies between him and exene were right on.  they seemed to enjoy themselves onstage.  that matters.  a band that looks bored or indifferent or sick of their own shit makes for hard concert-going.  and all band members have aged very well.

i would've been happy had they played 'nasauea' or 'los angeles'.  they played the most of their first two albums, LOS ANGELES and WILD GIFT.  guess where i was.  yep, i was in heaven.  ace of spades is located in a strip of restaurants and when we parked the car the attendant asked, you here for burgers and brew?  what? we asked.  the guy said, you here for the show?  hell yeah, he continued, i'm 43 and i think all the old punks are inside.

the guy was right.  i looked around and saw many grey heads wearing their chuck t's and social d. t-shirts.  i was in good company.  b. and i sidled toward the bar, ordered a couple of newcastle ales, and raised our bottles to middle-age punk. 

my ears are fucking ringing. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


it rained all day a very heavy rain

had a wonderful christmas veggie lasagna dinner with two kinds of pies, pumpkin and blackberry

santa dropped by last night leaving gifts for nick [yes, he believes in santa]

my father told me -- saddened, horrified, and disgusted with the massacre at sandy hook -- that he will spend the rest of his life working towards sanity in our country and abolish the presence of weapons of death

spent an afternoon talking movies and zombies with my brother and his oldest son

read again 'a child's christmas in wales' by dylan thomas

now the rain has abated and it is time for bed

Sunday, December 23, 2012

not too much, not too little

i had to do a little last minute shopping at fry's, a giant of an electronics store, tonight.  the store has a huge selection of dvds from nearly every genre ever thought of by humankind.  its a treasure trove for the film lover even if we are moving toward online streaming platforms.  i'd forgotten how wonderful an experience it is to wonder among the aisles of discs with no set purpose and making discoveries. 

and yet my memory is for shit.  because i was looking for a film that was released last spring that i wanted to see in the theaters but missed it during its two-week run.  the name of the movie was right on the tip of my tongue but still wouldn't come.  i searched among the horror flicks, because it was a horror flick, and came up with nada.  that quote from samuel beckett about old age really hit home because my memory, and my once impeccable spelling, is like a needle skipping the grooves of an old fashioned vinyl lp.

oh well.  anna digs an hbo series about hollywood agents that i also couldn't remember.  the show i think was on the air for five or six seasons.  when i was at rasputin's in san francisco a few months ago i found a couple of seasons for dirt cheap that i bought for anna.  tonight i couldn't remember the name of the series.  i thought if i could find a season or two that anna doesn't own i'd pick them up for her.  i gave up.  i simply couldn't remember the name of the show.  but it was in the act of giving up and moving on that relaxed my mind which was frozen in concentration.  when i gave up the name of the show hit me with full force.  i remembered, entourage is the name, and i found all five or six seasons.  and then, i couldn't remember which seasons anna owns.  i had to move on.  again.

as for last night's adventure, the anger of violating our personal space is still acute but the comedy of the situation is alight.  i do not wish harm for the guy.  he might not even be a bad guy either.  most of us are neither bad nor good.  we just are.  people.  some of us are more evil than others.  some of us are more kind.  i'd rather practice kindness.  and let go of my expectations.  for in the letting go i find myself more often than not surprised and delighted. 

so in that frame, friends, every one, have a wonderful christmas. 

i'm still looking for a bottle of cold duck to help bring in the new year. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

happy mutherfucking x-mas

not less than 20 minutes a go a serious fucking grinch got up on our front porch and stole -- yes, that's right, stole -- a lighted garland that was draped over our front door and an extension cord.  anna first heard the asshole, looked out the window, startled the fucker who did a cartoon double-take, as he snatched our christmas decorations and extension cord and made a b-line down the street.  anna opens the door and yells, i'm calling the cops!  to which she promptly did.  the perp is on foot and probably still in the neighborhood.  may the ghosts of christmas past, present and future haunt this twerp till the end of his days. 

* * *


we recovered our garland and extension cord.  the goofball dropped them on our lawn as he high-tailed out when anna scared him in mid-theft.  after the anger comes the comedy.  but still one must wonder what the hell is going on in the idiot's head as he attempted to baldly steal our shit from our front porch as our house lights are blazing and the neighbors are to-ing and fro-ing.  it is not the loss of material things i care about.  i care about the loss of feeling safe in our home.  here the art of kindness married to an action of unfucking the world and never getting nearer to an end. 

quote unquote

But now he grew animated, waxing lyrical about the benefits of age: loss of memory, of vocabulary. . .'It's great,' he concluded, 'I've been looking forward to it all my life!' He was obviously sincere, and apparently unaware of the joke.

--derek mahon on a visit with samuel beckett


this is not the way the world ends

soft pink sky clouds light pink and rain

marching thru the patches of wet

facing west a double rainbow of such intensity

i look for the presence of leprechauns

'it's the end of the wold as we know it and i feel fine'

not with a whimper but a bang

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

the past few nights i've been falling asleep watching the news.  cnn mostly.  yep, you got it.  if there ain't no bad news then there is no news at all.  or depressing news.  heartbreaking news.  what-the-fuck-can't-get-shit-together news.  i read on another blog the question, why can't there be a GOOD NEWS CHANNEL.  don't wanna sound pollyana-ish, but yes, why not.  because guess what.  when i walked home tonight i didn't hear one scream, or gunshot, or witnessed any sort of brutality.  people were minding their own business.  traffic was going along.  and get this, a car even stopped for me, just for me, so i could walk across the street.  that's good news.  oh, and another thing.  i turned on the tap and guess what i got.  clean, drinking water.  that alone is not just good news, but a real bonafide miracle of technology and civilization.  it really is.  there is so much heartbreak.  there are an even greater number of daily miracles of cooperation, fellowship and -- dare i say it -- love.  if we open our goddamn eyes and awake to see them.  as the buddha said, i am awake.  shanti shanti shanti. 


in a poem by roberto bolano 'godzilla in mexico'

bombs were falling

but birds are everywhere


Monday, December 17, 2012


at work all day 'sitting around doing nothing'

big intake of breath as if

bluish glow from monitors

contrast with the hangnail moon silvery slide

over and against drained storm clouds

and an exhausted sun that simply said, fuck it

Sunday, December 16, 2012


jittery like i mainlined a gallon of coffee

a memory of silhouettes and light flickers

a little outside the driver's side window

jittery like audio tape jumping its spool

rain and wind and then sun opening

pools of wet drying my hands shaking

my hands finding jacket pockets

my hands balled into fists

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

the dewdrop world

i heard on the radio that shitloads of couples are getting married today because of the date, 12/12/12.  that's cool.  tho i don't put much stock in numerical symbolism.  after all the world is supposed to end next week on 12/21/12 because the mayan calendar does not go beyond that date.  except that i heard/read somewhere that there is another mayan calendar that goes way beyond the 21st. 

go figure.  most of us want a beginning, middle and end.  but for i suspect that time is a construct and that we are here in the continuous present.  here and now.  of course the here and now will become yesterday's memories.  but i cannot go back to yesterday, nor can i extend my hand into tomorrow.  i live right here in the present.

i am working on a big book of happiness if only i could find the words to write it.

i am awed by silvery clouds illuminating starlight.

i write poems in black ink on black paper -- the words disappear the moment i lift the pen.

i have a song looped in my head that i've forgotten the words and can't hum the tune.

i am the father of a happy child who turned eight today and was given a fender stratocaster and small amp so he may rock the free world. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

dig into this

jonathan hayes' newest collection Nippon: Drinking Sake and Staring at Fireflies in the August of Cicadas

now in e-form but soon to be fetishized in paper too

an outstanding group of poems chronicling the adventures of the poet in japan and in marriage

dig it

Friday, December 07, 2012

Remembering Paul Blackburn

By Jim McCrary

Just the other day my old friend Tim says to me: “Do you remember that time I visited you in New York. You and George Kimball were living on East 7th St. in some apartment over McSorley’s bar. We sat on your stoop and watched a stick ball game. You and George explained all the rules and variations to the game…what happened when the ball went under a car or stuck on a fire escape or went all the way up to 3rd Ave. Then we went into the bar and drank beers. Do you remember that?”

Uh……..not exactly that. I’m afraid that moment is gone. But yes…7 East 7th St. It was heaven for a young 20 something kid not long out of the military, separated and soon to be divorced a self-proclaimed poet from out of Kansas on the Lower East Side. Jeez. 7 East 7th was Paul and Sarah Blackburn’s apartment and somehow George had gotten the sublease for a period I can’t remember exactly if it was when they went to Europe or just driving across the country. It must have been 1968 or 69. It was before the cancer. I had been living in NYC for a while, staying at a friend’s loft on the Bowery. It was across the street from Robert Indiana and when the lights were bright in his loft it meant party…..some food and booze for sure. Of course the bars on Bowery back then sold a glass of beer for 15 or 25 cents. Rough crowd so to speak but pretty harmless and somewhat easy to talk too. I worked at an ad agency in mid-town, actually working for something called ‘market research’. Not Mad Men deal but did have something to do with IBM punch cards…sorting them and doing something with reports. Who knew. Best time of day was lunch when everyone walked over to Times Square for a hot dog or slice of pizza. Some opted for a more exotic lunch which include a bag of smack. A slow afternoon at the office for them. I worked there for some time and often walked home….40 some blocks I guess….was young then. A slice of pizza on the way and money left for the bar(s) and dope at night. Sneak a jug into St. Marks for the poetry reading. Who remembers.

East 7th Street was a wonderful place then. Of course the anchor was McSorley’s but there were wonderful Ukrainian bars stuck into the basements of a few of the brownstones and the Fillmore East was around the corner (you could sit out back in the alley and hear the bands). A most beautiful woman owned an African import shop next door to our building and it was always a place to fall into and relax off the street. And this was during the ‘revolution’ don’t forget. Lots of running around to demos and setting trash cans on fire and what not. Was also acid and crabs and “Jersey boys and girls” on St. Marks Place. There was a wise guy bar somewhere down 3rd Ave we could go into. The rule was we couldn’t go in back room, or play pool…sit at the bar and DO NOT bother the guys in tight fitting silk suits. The ones with rolls of bills the size of soup cans! No problem that. And Sun Ra playing over by Tompkins Square in some storefront bar… Sun Ra and theArkastra. Ai yi yi.

But it was McSorley’s just as Blackburn describes in his poems….lit by hazy sunlight filtered through the cig smoke, bouncing off a cat in a window, the smell of ale and onions, Matty behind the bar. Quiet it was too. So we met, Paul and I and like so many new “poets” to NYC he took time. We spent several afternoons over ales, smoking and looking over poems. I had a lot of them from my time in Kansas. I think most of them were pretty awful. I was young. When you’re young you write crap. That is true for all of us. Me for sure. But that was not mentioned by me or Paul. And he brought in a stack of typed poems of his. I read his, he read mine. I still have that stack of paper somewhere and I remember him circling several lines I had ended with “ing”. “See that mark. Fucking Paul Blackburn made that!!” I used to say. Now, not so much.

But there we sat. Both reading. Maybe joined for a while by someone…George Kimball or one of the waiters or the ice man or other guys. He would turn over the poems and we would chat with the visitor. What’s going on. You can read all that in The Cities or the other books. I don’t remember at all what Paul and I talked about the poetry. I am sure I couldn’t have said much about his except “Cool” or “Far out” perhaps. I wish I could remember what he said but I can’t. Too bad. But one thing I am sure is that he was encouraging and not mean and not put off at all by my attempts. He, if memory serves, may have been starting up a new series of readings and told me to come. Can’t remember where though.

We would sit in McSorley’s for hours it seemed and then maybe walk over to one of the Ukrainian bars for vodka and a sandwich or maybe around the corner to Ratner’s Kosher Dairy Bar. But never very far and not for long. He would be home when Sarah came home. Upstairs at 7 East 7th. I don’t know how many times we did that…maybe half a dozen. We talked a lot about Kansas…he was somewhat curious about the poets out there..Charley Plymell, John Fowler etc. I don’t remember him talking at all about women or girls. It was all about poetry and writing and maybe what was going on with the Lions Head softball team. George played on that. Maybe Openhiemer too.

And then they, he and his wife, left town and George and I moved into 7 East 7th St. It was a perfect NYC apartment a long hallway with tiny kitchen, couple bedrooms, living room up front (if you got locked out you could crawl up front somehow – I forget how). Or just wait on the stoop for someone….always someone. It was a small neighborhood. You were always seeing people you knew. “Locked out”. Yeah. “Wanna crash at my place.” Sure, why not. Off we went. Was never too far. There was also a lot of yelling to get keys tossed out windows.

I don’t remember seeing Paul when he returned to that apartment or again after that. George and I moved to somewhere over on Ave C and then I burned out on NYC and came back to Kansas. Never saw Paul again.

He was a good guy for me. Now 40 years later I cherish the time spent and honor the fact that I can say: “Yeah, I knew Paul Blackburn. Wadda ya wanna know? He was a great fucking poet! Read his Journals for God’s sake. Do not forget him and do not put him down for some dumb stuff he wrote. We all do that, for christsake.”


Wednesday, December 05, 2012


he had on working man's clothes faded jeans plaid shirt boots mid-50s he's half a block away but walking toward me when a young man turns a corner and passes him when the working man spins around and says something making the young guy turn shrug and smile

the working man catches up to me and keeps my stride i caught that kid turn around twice to look at that pretty girl across the street me i'm too old too grey now i don't even look hey man you've been hit hard by the grey too how old are you you are 48 49 

close enough i've been going grey since i was six 

no shit it works for you have a great day

the working man turns the corner and is gone

Monday, December 03, 2012


sheeting rain      then

sun sunny sunray

leafblown hard over streets

my eyes are pitched

toward burntorange and blowtorch

yellow      my sneakers

torn     smeared by dogshit hidden

under these leaves