Saturday, November 30, 2013

i know a film, reuben, reuben [1983], about a soused scottish poet played by tom conti, who hadn't written a word in years and when his estranged wife, who was given a large advance to write a memoir about their lives together, challenges the poet on his lack of poetic production the scots shrugs, then she reminds him that his great ambition was to be a conductor with a mad wink and a lock of unruly hair dangled over his eyes but couldn't manage the back-breaking work it required to attain the podium so instead, the lazy ass, turned to poetry with its long history of drunken bums and i think to call her summation of the ancient art of wordslinging bullshit not out of professional concern but because of what elizabeth bishop called the art of losing hence poetry is a loser's art and to keep that up for a lifetime takes an enormous amount of stamina and work    

seeking a friend for the end of the world [2012]

actor steve carell seems to be the nicest sincerest dude in movies today.  he's such a lovable everyman that even dreck -- if he's in it -- shines bright.  i don't know much about his co-star keira knightley, i don't think i've seen any of the movies where she has a role.  part of the advantages of aging is a not-give-a-shit kind of attitude and i really don't care who is hot or not in pop culture.  often i scan the gossip rags in the grocery store check-out line and wonder who the fuck are these people?!

at any rate, carell's wife leaves him in a panic when they learn an asteroid is on a collision course with earth.  in three weeks all life on earth will be snuffed out.  knightley is carell's kooky twentysomething neighbor.  together they travel in search of carell's lost high school sweetheart and he promises knightley he can get her on a plane to england and back to her family.

a three-prong movie: road, romantic comedy and an entry in a very long list of apocalyptic fare.  since the turn of the millennium end-of-the-world films have become a dominant sub-genre.  phd dissertations can be -- and probably are -- written on the 21st century end of times kind of cinema.  because i am a sucker for all three prongs i liked this movie better than the movie actually deserves.

i like this movie because filmmaker lorene scafaria populated her end of the world film full of sweet well-loving people.  there are kooks, like the trucker, played by the always watchable william peterson, with a terminal illness who commits suicide thru a hired assassin.  then there are the restaurant workers who choose to spend their last weeks serving food and drinks and engaging in drunken orgies.  then there are the beachcombers who have family picnics after either getting married, or blessed by a priest [?], i couldn't tell.  whatever was happening on the beach the picnics were hosted by sweet natured people and our heroes were warmly welcomed.

that's what got me about this movie.  there is a bit of chaotic violence in the beginning when carell and knightley meet and bond during a deadly riot which sets them on the road but this pic is a very sweet natured movie.  its denizens are ordinary, confused, frightened, and loving toward their fellows.  i'm a sucker for such sentiments.

i like end-of-the-world movies because i like to see how people would behave at such an intensity.  carell and knightly have just enough chemistry to make their odd pairing work.  in the light of a killer asteroid hurtling toward earth carell's and knightley's age difference is of no consequence.  they connect as lovers because it is the end-times.

i believed them as lovers, and during the final frames of the couple lay entwined in bed as background explosions signaled the end of the world i was moved.  call me a sucker for romance but i say only the cynic, the realist and/or the sour could deny the strength of love, at the end of the world. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

i'm deep in it.  each time i fret and fuss over this and that i tell myself to back off and give in and give up.  sounds passive but i'm here to tell you it is not.  what i do is my best to accept things as they are.  what i can change i change what i can't change i accept.  that's goddamn hard thing to do.  i'm not at all stoopidly saintly either.  i'm not.  learning that little bit takes a lifetime and i still forget to let go.  hence shit tends to bubble under the surface and stress is manifested in a tightening of the lip, a furrowed brow and sleepless nights.

and but so that is no different than how most of us experience our postmodern world.  or post post modern.  or whatever.  better than a pre-raphaelite world for d.g. rossetti et al. were after an idealized, romanticized reality that would not, could not, be realized again.  utopian thinking.  not that the world can't be a better place.  it simply will never be that place we hold dear in our minds.  as werner herzog says, the poet must not avert his/her gaze, the poet must look absolutely at the world.

well, enough of this silly rant.  i'm afraid i'm losing my humor.  samuel beckett was correct, the world is both tragic and funny.  sometimes we are in on the joke.  sometimes the joke is on us.

in the meantime i am giving thanks.  thanks for my friends, like b. c. and their son j., my friends in the art, my family, anna and nick without whom i could not walk upright on this earth, my partners in poetic collaborations, the art of grade z cinema, reading and writing poetry, being alive and conscious on this earth no matter how long i live i do so in utter amazement of this gift of life, books, the internet yes for with the internet i have found many many writers made lots of friends and created more and i hope better work by their example, dvds, and the luck of having just the least bit of facility with words so that i might express my wonder.  this is not an exhaustive list.  it is not the least list either but an outlet composed at a moment's notice.  let these awkward utterances stand and sing, as the great stevie wonder once said, in the key of life. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

i am taking this holiday week off work i have the house to myself today and spent the day troubleshooting one of our satellite TV receivers and yes i got it to work again just don't ask me to repeat how i did it because i don't know also i am writing poems usually daily like the one i posted yesterday i don't know if it is a good poem i fell asleep last night reading a few pages of a journey to armenia by osip mandelstam and thinking my poem is not a poem at all it's not even an anti-poem it is a failure of writing but even failures are worth their effort so i decided to post the poem even if the poem is worth less than the exercise required for my fingers to tap the keys to type it up and publish it i did that because i hate that mealy-mouthed kind of shirking of responsibilities by some writers who refuse to claim poetry as their calling and refuse to use the noun poet to inscribe their lives whoa i'm not naming names after all everyone has a right to his/her opinions but if you write poetry and have declared poetry to be your life's work then it follows poetry becomes your life and hence you are a poet it does not matter if you are a good poet or bad poet or if history will remember your name you are a poet and should you be as obsessed with poetry as i am and i'm sure you are then everything you do turns into poetry even your life which may sound like a justification of writing and publishing bad poems but it turns out even in the end bad poetry is a work of life

Sunday, November 24, 2013

lines for an album cover [misdemeanor by ufo, 1986]

first thing a girl in a cowgirl dress holding a revolver with both hands above her right ear

second thing the girl's tattoo on her left forearm of a bosomy cowgirl

so much cheesecake one might get a toothache

but a confession i don't know the band and heard only one song by them and i thought that song really really sucked

i have become an expert at being such a nincompoop these days with all worry and trouble

i wasn't born when JFK was killed i wasn't even a dirty thought in my parents' minds

inherit the wind or go fuck yourself?  if you can teach an ape to write uh oh that might start the revolution

john lennon warned of the naughty girl who let her knickers show

 would it be a lack of taste to say that out loud

the girl holding the gun has this oh so naughty expression i wonder what she was thinking when she showed up on the day of the photo shoot

a thousand times i've seen the zapruder film and i have read the conspiracies

but one lone gunman can change the world

the girl in the photo occupies the same world i do

she has that tough is tender vibe

my heart broke on the day JFK died

Saturday, November 23, 2013


that's right i am doomed

a wrong fit for a right world

might not be much

the obsession with words

even in midlife

sometimes i do not recognize

the face in the mirror

sometimes the face speaks

with another voice

who knows

why this obsession

who knows

why the wrong fit

is right for this life

Thursday, November 21, 2013

the subjects for poetry are _________________

a life in poetry is a poem a poem becomes _________________

when one wakes into poetry one becomes________________

if language is a camera life becomes a___________________

expanding a vocabulary expands a____________________

to change a life one must change_____________________

to forget the self is to find___________________

freedom to love is freedom to____________________

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

cat sits in my lap
rain blurred glasses
i've forgotten the problem

Friday, November 15, 2013


you brought a water hose to a knife fight

you remember the title of a book deaths & entrances

by a well-loved poet

when the end is always death

why ask

the hole in your head is about the size

of your imagination

about the size of the economy

Thursday, November 14, 2013


the day is a stranger

the other you likes long night walks

while the you you would rather watch TV

on cold nights with the blinds closed

the other you stepped into the alley

where a young woman was foraging in the dumpster

both the other you and her were caught by surprise

she walked quickly without a word away

while the you you admired the shape of the moon

against the agate sky before turning in for bed

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

quote unquote

According to Shklovsky, the essential function of poetic art is to counteract the process of habituation encouraged by routine everyday modes of perception.  We very readily cease to "see" the world we live in, and become anaesthetized to its distinctive features.  The aim of poetry is to reverse that process, to defamiliarize that with which we are overly familiar, to creatively deform the usual, the normal, and so to inculcate a new, childlike, non-jaded vision in us.  The poet thus aims to disrupt "stock responses, " and to generate a heightened awareness: to restructure our ordinary perception of reality, so that we end by seeing the world instead of numbly recognizing it. . .

--terence hawkes structuralism and semiotics via ann lauterbach the night sky: writings on the poetics of experience [viking; 2005]

Sunday, November 10, 2013

NPR did a story on friday -- i think it was friday, could've been thursday, you get my drift -- that the once giant video store chain, blockbuster, is shuttering its stores but for a handful in texas and alaska owned by an independent franchise.  that means the era of renting movies is pretty much dead.  there will be small operations in service i think.  my local grocery store has a RedBox kiosk where you can rent dvds, blu-rays, and games for less then two bucks.  the store used to house a blockbuster kiosk but well you know the rest. 

i miss the old brick&mortar stores.  nick recently found my membership card to blockbuster.  i got that card in 1999 when we just moved into our house and i wanted to rent movies.  i still have my tower video membership card too.  all the good arthouse, exploitation and horror movies [porn too] were found at tower.  oh how i miss that place.  saw william t. vollman buying books at tower books one night.  we both live in the same city and yet that has been my only vollman sighting.  for what it's worth.

i don't have a netflix account.  we still subscribe to cable tho we have a DVR where we record most programming we want to watch.  but other than the walking dead and a travel program on the travel channel there is not much on TV i give a shit about.  i do buy dvds.  we purchased pacific rim [2013] yesterday and watched it last night.  if i want to watch movies i either buy the dvd, record it from TV or watch a film from my collection.

the digital age is full of marvels.  it is full of some seriously scary dark stuff too.  but what it lacks is the primacy and pleasure of the material object.  holding a book in your hands and scanning its pages as you just pulled it off the shelf at the bookstore.  something caught your eye.  the euphony of the author's name, perhaps, or the title, or the design of the book.  too, the old VHS tape with its artwork and copy.  it caught your attention, you pulled it from the shelf and as you weighed the worth of renting that copy you read the back cover and scan its pictures on the box.

that is a visceral pleasure that cannot be duplicated at all.  if you grew up in the Mom&Pop video store era of the 1980s that pleasure is married to the smell of cooked, buttery popcorn that was always at hand in the store, and the large sounds of an obscure flick played at high volume on the store's only video monitor chosen by the obsessive movie-nerd clerk at the counter.  aye me!  the weight of so much nostalgia carried in those preceding sentences!

i am not the only one stuck in such feelings of bygone eras.  tonight i discovered a lovely blog that dives deep in the VHS era lost video archive where its author scans pics of labels pasted on tapes from Mom&Pop stores, scans of VHS boxes and reviews of some of the most obscure movies to ever grace a rental shelf.  click and relieve a long lost era.  who knows you might be inspired to seek out a long forgotten film or dig thru your own dusty collection of VHS tapes that have not seen daylight since the turn of our new century.      


climb a tree take a look in the fish stocked pond

no nibble and a skinned knee

early Nov and peppers and tomatoes are in

season still

no rain lots of sun

Saturday, November 09, 2013

currently playing at casa de lopez/bronson

'sonsick' by san fermin

this is a very gorgeous song that i think is one of the best i've heard in a long long time.  the arrangement, the soaring horns, and the beautiful harmonies make this a special piece of music.  this is a great performance that brings, i'm not shitting you, tears of happiness to my eyes.

'no stranger' by small black

this song would not be out of place in a john hughes movie and i love it for that.  gentle synths married to a solid rhythm topped by a sweet voice and man it's like the '80s never died.

Thursday, November 07, 2013


witness to an accident at the intersection on my way to work

got to my desk and the computer began to whirr

a long day bent to page and screen

with a mind thick as day old porridge

when i flipped the page on

the word of the day calendar

it said mush

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

poem written while watching seven blood-stained orchids [1972]

moonlight thru cornstalks
naked beauty come closer
she has entered the mind

* * *

if the party happened and i wasn't there
is it still a party

i am watching always

* * *

o mewling cats diseased and spent
she sees the horror
the milk dropped on the floor

bloody eyes
paint painted painting
i am behind you with the phone

* * *

black gloved black night
the train me and you

* * *

why silver half-moon pendants
tokens gifts tchochkes of a spattered love

* * *

o tried victim you wear red well
a honeymoon a mystery play

* * *

station to station by the mysteries

* * *

paranoia or persecution
you see me
go away

* * *

when you are the last one
pay attention

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

four movies that should be in every gen-x'rs dvd collection

not that i care so much to distinguish one generation from another after all we are all human and we all help create the world.  but there are some cultural touchstones that do mark a generation, i.e. woodstock for baby boomer; the great depression for what tom brokaw calls the greatest generation etc. etc.

so it goes with movies.  believe me if i saw star wars [1977] for the first time as a grown man that film would have had no impact on me whatsoever.  i didn't see it as a grown man.  the pic was released when i was 10 years old.  i remember that blistering hot summer day waiting in the parking lot of the the local cineplex for four hours to see luke skywalker against the evil empire.  the heat and the wait was worth it.  i can close my eyes and still see that star destroyer flying overhead in the opening moments of star wars.  hence that movie experience is one that has defined much of my movie-going life.

i know dvds are nearly passe, that they are on their way out.  we stream movies now, right.  except for me.  i love the physical thing of the disc and its container and that container's cover art.  i love looking at my shelves loaded with one splendid disc after another.  it is dvds i collect so my list will maintain a dvd collection.

now before i begin let me add that my list is my own tastes.  they may not be every gen-x'rs cuppa.  i do think these films define being a teen in the u.s. at a certain time.  ask anyone between the ages of say 35 to 50 to name a favorite movie and that person might probably name one of these flicks.

here goes.  and, oh, if you don't like my list make your own!

 valley girl [1983]
 great soundtrack, beautiful girl, and nicolas cage as a sweet love-struck punk.  director martha coolidge made magic.  the story is timeless, boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl.  even today i get weak-kneed every time i hear 'i melt with you' by modern english.

fast times at ridgemont high [1982]
this is a transitional film.  the styles were changing from 1970s to 1980s.  by 1983 the high deco fashions of the '80s were firmly present but in 1982 there was still a lot of shag carpeting and jackson browne on the soundtrack.  this movie was written by cameron crowe who based the script on a series of articles he wrote for rolling stone when he posed as a high school student.  director amy heckerling crafted a zesty year in the life story of a group of teens as they lived, loved and got high in an l.a. high school.  many of the actors later became huge stars.  funny, poignant and sad just like being a teen this pic was one of the first i recall to create a catch phrase for popular culture, stoner-surfer jeff spicoli's 'hey bud, let's party!' was soon heard on campuses all thru the land.

say anything [1989]
would i be too far gone to say that this film is a romantic comedy masterpiece?  writer-director cameron crowe's study of a charming underachiever who loves only two things in this world, kickboxing and his school's beautiful valedictorian is a marvelous telling of the boy meets girl boy loses girl boy gets girl paradigm.  who among is not moved by the iconic image of the boy holding the boombox over his head playing 'in your eyes' by peter gabriel to win back the love of the girl?  crowe's film is a whipsmart study of love and desire that refreshes our faith in our human frailties and nobility.

sixteen candles [1984]
what?  did you think there would be no john hughes' movies on my list?  pshaw!!!  this is one of hughes' best films with a great soundtrack, overdrawn comic characters and the sweetness of a girl who loves a boy out of her league.  the girl's sister is getting married and everyone forgets her birthday.  mayhem ensues in a way the master of teen movies, john hughes, knows how to orchestrate.  yes yes the girl who deserves love gets the boy and that final image of of the young lovers leaning in for their first kiss over a lighted birthday cake while 'if you were here' by the thompson twins is seared onto my brain like the ink tattooed on my arms.

there you have them.  four movies that punctuated my youth and the youth of my generation.  it's probably years since you've seen some of the films but i wouldn't be surprised as you are digging thru your own stacks that you have a disc or two of these movies.  and if you don't go rectify the situation and get thee hence to your local target where these films can be had on the cheap.  go now go!

Monday, November 04, 2013

doubleanniversary sonnet

              i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i
u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u
              i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i
u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u
              i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i
u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u
              i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i
u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u
              i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i
u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u
              i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i
u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u
              i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i
u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u

u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u
              i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i
u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u
              i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i
u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u
              i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i
u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u
              i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i
u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u
              i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i
u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u
              i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i
u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u u
              i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i