Saturday, June 29, 2013

oh man this is hot!

when it is already 80 degrees at 9:00 a.m. you do what you can before the sun gets all mega-mega watt and turns the ambient air into a blast furnace.  we did our usual saturday chores and worked in the garden before noon.  it is 10:30 pm as i write this and temperature is 87 f.  it is fucking hot!!!

but it's a dry heat and what is summer in sac without a many few 100 plus days.  after our chores we closed the drapes, turned on the A/C and hibernated. 

i am catching up on blogs and read this lovely, thoughtful post by my great friend in life and art, tom beckett.  i too never wanted to be teacher.  i too work in a job that cares little for art and poetry.  it is of my choosing.  poetry is not a career.  it is a vocation.  an obsession.  a life.  and if lucky we find other like souls who make our journey thru life so much better, grander and richer. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

world war z

perhaps our obsessions with zombies has burned itself out.  for this film, directed by marc forster and produced by its star, brad pitt, forgoes the usual zombie stations and instead presents us with a pandemic of undead people.  those people act like the virus itself as it searches for living people to be new hosts.

a novel concept.  one that was explored by danny boyle's excellent movie, 28 days later [2002].  it appears that forster, a shitload of screenwriters and producers, tapped into boyle's movie to create superfast and strong zombies that are treated as infected rather than monsters.

the premise of zombies as the infected works up to a point.  brad pitt is a rather game actor as he essays his role as a u.n. hotspot agent [it is not really clear what he did for the u.n. before he had a bellyfull of being in the bloodiest parts of the globe and quit] who is more thinker than action hero.

vanity fair published an article last month detailing the troubles and ballooning budget of this film.  you didn't need to read the article to see where the seams are in this movie.  the first third is pretty damn good with a couple of excellent set pieces.  the second third slows down a bit.  the last third looks as motley as the magazine article detailed it to be. 

there is a set up for a sequel.  i'd read somewhere that pitt wants to make this film a trilogy.  ah yes.  perhaps it'll get better with each subsequent film.  the source novel is of course a superior read.  you can see bits and pieces of that novel within this pic.  for example, ham radio operators at the end of the movie.  in the novel there is a few scenes devoted to the horrors heard and experienced by ham radio operators.  instead we get the triumphant cauterwauls of these operators announcing victories over 'undead zeds.'

i would like the dvd to add as extras the cut portions of this movie including the last battle at moscow which i read about in vanity fair.  that scene was cut because it was too bloody, it made pitt's character look like a one-dimensional action hero, and the studio wanted to keep the rating at pg-13.  we get snippets of this battle in the conclusion as pitt's character was using a voice-over narration to plot where we are in the ongoing war.

still, kudos to the forster and the producers for making a zombie film.  the verisimilitude felt right.  after all, if  the world succumbed to such a thing i do believe the military would still be up and running, and there would be pockets of organized humans keeping going.  when the shit finally goes down i'd like to be one of the fortunate few that finds itself on a navy ship protected by distance and armor. 

what the hell is with all the spam

in my comment box?  i saw a couple of comments and i thought woo! someone's taken the time to say something about my work and instead what i get is some kind of odd shill for i don't know what.  aw, what the hell, that's capitalism, right?

this week's left me drained.  i come home from work, do my usual dad and husband things around the house, then when anna and nick go to bed i am also crashing.  plus i'm reading a few books that i bought at city lights last week including a collection of essays by h.l. hix and a novel by jaan kaplinski.  it was kaplinski that inspired the last set of dailies.  in a short essay by sam hamill that concludes a volume of poems by kaplinski, the wandering border [copper canyon press; 1987], says this about his identity as a man, poet and human being:

          If I write about Estonians, I mean Estonians, but if I write about Indians, I mean Indians.
          And in a sense, I am an Indian too.  I am a Buddhist, and I am simply a man.  And,
          primarily, first of all, a sentient being, a sensitive being.  And my poetry is a poetry
          written by such a being, not simply by an Estonian.

i don't do identity poetics/politics too well neither.  i live in california, have a common hispanic surname, but am a descendant of norwegian, spanish, english, and who knows what else.  i am the progeny of california full of hyphens and hybrids.  if someone asks me what i am i say i am simply a human being.  yet i love all cultures.  i love mexican culture[s], european, slavic, asian, southeast asian, indian and everywhere else that makes california such a bounty. 

i am a lopez.  i am a factor of all that i love and influences me.  i am a northern irish-polish-eastern european-russian-mexican-norwegian-swedish-spanish-asian [et al.]-baptized catholic-bastardized buddhist-following-his-own-dharma-practice poet.  there is that lot of me and all so luscious.  i don't exclude nobody. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013



serious moonlight

serious like a hit of blotter on the tongue

making things happen getting in the know

rather like krusty the klown on his television show

what a card what a geek

when he got serious he loosened the bow tie

sat down on the stage

pressed the mic to his lips

send in the klowns


identity poetics

have an average name

look into the mirror until your image

laughs back

take a page from that lot of us

all so luscious

you are so hyphenated

and you like it like that

the scoop

alex gildzen has a nice little write-up on his sf tour including a couple pics of me.  it was a lovely evening.  magic, really.  please click here for the scoop.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

just got back

the drive to and from sf was uneventful.  i took the prius which has its own gps navigation system so getting into the city and over to the parking garage was smooth as can be.  i was marvelling at our technology earlier today when i went to the local apple store to buy anna a new cord for her i-phone.  the sales guy took my payment by swiping my card thru his phone and then said the receipt will be emailed to me.  no sweat, i said.  then when i got to my car and when i touched the driver's side door handle to unlock the prius it hit me, we live in a pretty awesome sci-fi age. 

i'm a little tired.  my father was quite impressed by the poets he met.  he loved meeting alex.  i did too.  we had a lovely dinner at francis ford coppola's zoetrope building -- a big green thing right in north beach.  our conversation steered toward aging, death, decrepitude, poetry, poets, movies and d.a. levy.  the death and aging thing sounded like morbid topics but let me tell you that there was a lot of laughter at our table. 

now for the reading.  canessa park gallery is an intimate venue in a really cool old building.  i met my fellow readers, jean day [stoked to finally meet her as i've known her work for some time] and steffi drewes [who is a fantastic younger poet.  i loved her poems and her wonderful reading voice].  the reading was well attended.  i was very very happy to see jonathan hayes and his wife yuki too.

i confess:  i'm a bit of a ham.  don't know how my reading style and work gets across.  i'm sure my style is not for everyone.  i do think reading is performance.  it shouldn't be sacrosanct.  imagine going to a concert and seeing your favorite band take themselves so seriously the occassion is joyless.  you want your favorite band to take pleasure in their music because that pleasure will be yours too.  worse sin i think in poetry is to forget that poems are killer fun.  they really are.  so don't be boring!

my many thanks to avery burns -- a killer poet himself -- for inviting me to read. 

yuki and jonathan walked with us to the parking garage in chinatown.  we lingered over our farewells.

we had a bit of an adventure driving alex back to his hotel.  we kinda lost our way.  sf is not a big city.  we found our destination, finally.  it's the journey that matters.  and alex is a grand soul. 

then i turned the prius right on market st found the onramp to the freeway heading toward oakland and were soon on our way home without the aid of the gps. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

heading out

to sf in a couple hours

meeting alex gildzen who is in the city for a movie gala

taking my father too

he wants to see what kind of things his kid digs


Monday, June 17, 2013

father's day

we did chores around the house in the morning.  in the afternoon nick and i headed to the crocker museum to see an opening of the field: jess, robert duncan, and their circle exhibit.  if i might sound like a beatnik for a moment, like wow man go! 

i knew nick would be bored standing around while his crazy poet dad is looking at static pictures on the wall.  he was a good sport.  the crocker recently modernized, updated and expanded their galleries and from the strength of this particular show have become bolder in their tastes. 

the show was a cool glass of water on a hot day.  jess is a very funny, energizing artist.  i didn't take notes as i wasn't thinking of writing a review.  however, the show runs until the end of august and i'll be back to see it at least one more time before it closes.  i want to get the catalog.

ah, art books.  why the hell do they have to be so expensive?  i saw this really cool tome on bruce connor in the '70s.  i took it to the cashier and she told me that it was a rarer book brought in by a local bookseller.  she looked up the price.  $60.00.  okay i said.  we have what is called a roving membership with many local museums and that entitles the members to a 20 percent discount.  60 smackers is still a lot of scratch for a book.  but what the hell.  YOLO, right. 

i was also hoping the store stocked lisa jarnot's robert duncan biography [i've been jonesing for a good bio to read lately], but no, they didn't have it.  anyway, back to the connor.  the lady said, oh no!  this is a $90.00 dollar book!  [she said this after she rang it up.]  did i still want it?  no, i said.  a bit too steep.

instead i purchased jess: o! tricky cad & other jessoterica [siglio; 2012] which is a collection of jess' collages and paste-ups.  pretty cool.  still the bruce connor book was awesome . . .hmmmm. . .

nick got a light up ball.  he smacks the ball against something and the ball lights up.  nick was pretty cool with that. 

we had a half hour before the museum closed.  we went back up stairs to the jess and robert duncan exhibit.  the gallery was devoid of people but for me and nick.  it was wonderful.  i took my time and sat with a few of the pictures.  i got up close, took off my glasses to see better the small print and details.  a few video monitors played a short film by james broughton, a short documentary on robert duncan, another video showed images of the interior of jess' and duncan's home, and another monitor displayed a collaboration piece by jess and an artist whose name i can't recall.  that piece had a long title but i remember the last part i thought fantastic, jess' didactic nickelodeon

when the museum closed nick and i headed home with our loot for a belated birthday dinner with anna, her mother and sister [my birthday was sunday before last.  i am for certain moving faster toward geerzerville.]  a perfect end to a good day.


i'll be reading in san francisco this friday night at 7:30 for avery burns' canessa park reading series.  i am reading with jean day and steffi drewes and i am stoked and a little -- can i admit it? -- nervous. 

i am doing my best to get out of my comfort zone and take some risks.  which means when one invites you to read you say yes! 

a link to the Poetry Flash calendar with information on the reading is here

if you are in or near sf friday stop by and say hey.

Friday, June 14, 2013

scanning the dial

it's easy to become jaded and bored.  particularly as you get older.  been-there-done-that.  nothing-new-under-the-sun.  the task in life for the middle-aged is how to keep that lust for life iggy pop sang about going.

thought i'd give you an easy answer to that question?!  ha!  nope.  there is no answer.  each person must find their own lust for life. 

we are so forward-thinking and looking for what's new.  nothing but new will satisfy, right.  and yet. . .and yet. . .a couple nights ago i was running a few errands.  i don't like driving but i do drive because it is a necessity.  we subscribe to satellite radio.  there is some really good stuff on satellite radio. 

i was scanning the dial and hit upon the '50s station.  fats domino, jerry lee lewis, hardcore rockabilly, doo-wop.  a veritable freaking universe of music!  it hit me just like that.  there is so much stuff to discover in the past that is as fresh as what was recorded today that i'd need a hundred lifetimes to make an adequate study. 

stuff from the past!  all brand new to me.  fucking broke down my own middle-aged smugness.  at least for a while. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

on UFOs

watching passenger jets approach sac international airport i marvelled at the shapes they made against the sky while their lights slit thru the air at odd angles no wonder these planes are sometime mistaken for UFOs it occurred to me that if an advanced alien civilization were indeed cruising in our skies wouldn't they just make their craft look like ours wouldn't they use camouflage and know how to blend in i mean even we know how to make a tank look like a shrub from the air  


I woke baroque and unafraid
                   reginald shepherd

the mexican free-tail bat

separated from the colony

under the yolo causeway

dipped overhead

and dropped into the watery rice field

we saw it swimming for the berm

a little wake

pin-prick of dark on a darkening night

we thought it dead when it landed

motor running and it not moving

we wrapped our hands in plastic

to touch

it burst into flight

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

reading in libraries

it's a habit i developed when i was in school.  instead of doing homework or attending class the lure of the stacks would draw me in.  often i find i'm the only one standing in the rows rabidly scanning the spines of books.  when i found one i'd open it up and read standing right there in stacks.  often it is a book of poetry in my hands.  i would read from back to front last page first as if it were a japanese book.  i read magazines like that too.  discovery upon discovery made in libraries pulling one lovely tome after another.  i'm on display of a sort doing a private act, reading, in public.  the delight of holding a book in hand and smelling the pages.  sometimes the eye simply scans the text letting the mind pick random words that become almost a totem.  a certain sense develops and meaning is made from the randomly scanned words as i flip the pages.  memories are made too.  i recall finding letters to lorca by jack spicer upon pure chance.  i remember taking a book by jackson mac low off the shelf opening it up and marvelling at the compositions so strange and startling.  i recall reading a book of interviews by ted berrigan and feeling like i just snorted a few lines of speed myself.  i remember getting annoyed at a girl at the next table over because she wouldn't stop talking as i was trying to read back issues of sulfer.  the habit never left me.  i make pilgrimages to the central library a few blocks from work.  i enjoy the silence of the stacks.  the library is shelter to street people.  the library is often host to political events.  i remember asking to see mary oppen's meaning a life in the special collections room and having to wear white gloves to read the book.  i do still stand in the middle of the stacks with a book in hand and reading last page to first flipping the pages sometimes and  scanning the text for the odd word that will make a meaning of its own.    

Monday, June 10, 2013

the exorcist [1973]

it is still a scary movie.  director william friedkin throws in some odd touches to keep the viewer off kilter.  for example, there is a quick shot of the demon's face interposed onto regan's contorted possession.  the flash of the demon's face is subtle but one to knock people back into their seats in a what-the-fuck-was-that? mode. 

i remember when this movie was first released and the electric fear it generated.  i didn't see it until a couple years later but hearing the adults talk about it was a freak out on its own.  but the movie holds up okay today.  the pic is tame enough nowadays to show on daytime basic cable tv which is where anna and i caught the last half hour. 

oh yes, the channel cut a few choice words said by the demon.  you'll recall that the demon was the picasso of dirty language.  other than that it was full-bore fright fest.  call me jaded.  the pic simply lost a bit of its punch.  i kept thinking why would a demon bother with a little suburban girl.  wouldn't there be bigger fish to fry? 

still, i say that when i watched it with my love in the full light of day.  i could say otherwise if alone and in the middle of the night when every creak and moan of our old house would set my nerves on a razor's edge.

Saturday, June 08, 2013


i'm a bit of a fan of the new alt-lit writers led by tao lin and steve roggenbuck.  roggenbuck particularly is an enthusiast for life and uses the above-referenced word all the time.  yolo is a county just across the sacramento river.  i had no idea what roggenbuck et al. meant by it.  i just learned yolo is the initials for YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE. 

obviously.  we need to be hit over the head with the obvious every now and then.  roggenbuck could be accused of lacking irony and distance in his writing and living.  the dude seems to grab life by the cojones and love it till it bleeds. 

why not.  i think perhaps i might be accused of being too optimistic and joyful too.  but when will you get another shot at this thing called life.  our lives are boiled down to moments and they pass and you won't have another one. 

even when i battle the blues i remember that this life is the only one.  what we do with it is what matters.  take if from an old man born during the hippie era called the summer of love.  you only live once.  do with it what you will.  

Friday, June 07, 2013

hotter than the surface of the sun

today is the first triple digit degree day of the year.  so hot concrete melts beneath your shoe soles and cats become puddles of fur on neighbor porches.  i mean holy shit hot.  the kind of hot that would vaporize frosty the snowman and make the old scratch himself weep in pain.  i'm not complaining.  summer in sac translates to at least a few days of super hot heat.  but oh the light.  the lovely california light.  van gogh and the rest of the post-impressionists would cum in their pants upon witnessing such light. 

and so in this heat the mind coagulates and thoughts turn to sludge.  the soul seeks refrigeration.  the body chooses to stay indoors, watch movies, read, do a little youtubeage, not cook for turning on the stove is anathema because it will heat up the house, and drink whatever is at hand, even glasses of water. 

why complain.  as david bowie once said, i don't need t.v. when i have t. rex.  today i read this interview with oz poet les murrary.  i have somewhere subhuman redneck poems and murray's verse novel fredy neptune.  what can i say.  the interview was refreshing to my spirit.  murray's deft talents are in abundant evidence.  the dude's anti- attitudes were a medicine for my melancholy.  my education was similar to his.  we both chose to unearth poet after poet in the stacks at our school libraries rather than read thru our syllabuses.  murray's work is not what i cottoned to in the past.  his poetry always seemed a bit too formalist for my taste.  the problem lies with me.  can one love the ramones and and not love bach too?  can i not love the writings of w.h. auden and d.a. levy?  short answer -- yes i -- you -- can. 

oh there is something about the vernacular republic in the name les murray.  so common.  so plain.  but there is beauty in it too.  a google search tonight led me to another les murray, a well-known sports announcer.  why should that make me happy?  have you tried googling richard lopez?  fuck, there are millions of us.  even if i shortened my name to rich lopez there are vast numbers of us.  still life is lived in the demotic.  my own name is plain as plain yoghurt.  there is an army of me.  i delight in my own vernacular republic.  poetry i discover is everywhere i see.


Wednesday, June 05, 2013


after work


turn off my computer

stretch from my desk

it's personal

inside the public library

scan the shelves of contemporary poetry


read the bios

O professionalism of the pro-et

poetry is not an occupation


i walk home

quote unquote

if you think you are secure.  read contemporary poetry
if you think you are insecure.  read contemporary poetry


if you want to make it a better world

go buy sum flowers for someone

support yr local police

give a cop a rose

--d.a. levy [sub-Troll sheet #2 WITH EVERYTHING UPSIDE DOWN]

Saturday, June 01, 2013

a fable

today i was at a friend's back garden.  i saw a brass headboard used as a trellis.  my friend said that he has a brass bed with a brass headboard, a big, beautiful thing, in his bedroom, and that this brass headboard was recently replaced by a newer headboard.  i said i am deathly afraid of brass headboards.  why, my friend asked.  i said, because when i was a boy i went to a drive-in movie.  in that movie a man lost in the woods was given shelter by three pretty young women.  they fed him and then showed him his room.  his bed for the night was a brass bed with a large headboard.  the three pretty young women cuffed the man to the headboard as he slept.  when he woke up the three pretty young women slowly undressed him, poured wine over his stomach, leaned toward his belly as if to kiss it, then took a chomp and preceded to eat him.  that's why i am deathly afraid of brass headboards. 

question and answer

q: If you could construct an ideal poet, what attributes would you give him or her -- dress included?

frank kermode: I like Stevens' idea of the ragged old tramp who nevertheless on suitable occasions takes his place at the head of the table. (Cosmic poverty and its momentary redemption.)  He or she could be wearing clothes appropriate to the vice president of an insurance company, assuming them to be proper to absolute poverty; or full evening dress, thought proper to a great celebration;

from the symposium the man in the back row has a question vi [paris review #154, spring 2000]

quote unquote

I want a fever in poetry : a fever, and tranquility.

* * *

The surest sign of the aging process is that one continually looks for blood coming out of some bodily orifice.

-- james dickey [sorties; lsu press, 1971]

a poetic sketch

don't give in
give up

don't hold
let go