Sunday, July 31, 2016

damn!  it's too hot to relax.  i should be heading for bed.  instead i'm wide awake clicking thru the internet.  ever watch a TV show or movie about a writer and you find yourself looking in the background for books.  if you find no books you say, shit, that ain't a writer.  if you find stacks of books scattered in the house, office, car, etc. etc. you find yourself pausing the TV show or movie to see what kind of books.  yes, deep in our digital age, when i find myself using my kindle and laptop more and more, and streaming movies and TV shows, rather than going to the theater or getting DVDs, or even, gasp!, VHS tapes, i love books, their physical weight, their architecture, their smells, and yes, i still read, mostly, books and love them.  so i watched a couple things this weekend, streamed via the internet, about writers and saw their homes, office, cars, etc. etc., filled with books.  yes, i paused and tried to read the titles.  and that is one of the great pleasures of life, a house filled with books.

poet/editor mark young has unleashed the latest issue of otoliths which, in my opinion, is one of the very best lit zines produced today.  a cornucopia of visual art, visual poetry, verbo poetry and prose this edition is dedicated to the poet ed baker who passed away on 3/28/2016 just a few weeks short of his 75th birthday.  i am a great admirer of ed's work, and am happy to see mark published a selection of ed's visual pieces.  start clicking!

'things have been dark for too long'


Saturday, July 30, 2016

jack micheline on america


hang on

-contemplate the immensity of the universe

-run yr tongue against the pit of yr gums where yr teeth once lived

-watch the news the horrible news and ask what's new

-yes that's right you sometimes don't recognize the face yr shaving

-grey hair every where even even there

-she reminds you ain't dead yet

Thursday, July 28, 2016

knocked senseless by this heat.  way over triple digits.  makes the walks to and from work exhausting.  i'm reminded of that lyric from the song by modern english i melt with you except when i get home i melt into the couch.  i used to like the heat.  now, it's just fucking hot!

oh man, but let me point your browsers to this great review by billy mills on the collected poems of the much missed late bill griffiths.  believe me, both mills, as a reviewer and a poet, and griffiths, are worth your while as a reader and writer.

just finished watching the og night of the living dead [1968].  a harbinger of our times?  hmm. . .tho i think romero's talent as a filmmaker is nonpareil.  particularly the ending sequence when the film becomes a montage of gritty still photographs with a seriously spooky synth score.  that's when the movie looks like a documentary.

okay, i'm bushed.  it is still very very hot outside.  the cats are puddles.  and i want another beer.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

quote unquote

The forms of freedom are not without constraint.  If we do not know how to restrain, retrain, our desires, then we will not know how to align our power to the limited resources of the world.  If we do not begin to reimagine our power, we will use it to constrain others.  How to convey the urgency of making choices and decisions which lead to forms of life that do not impinge on others, bully them into agreement, mock context, trivialize faith, thwart rights, waste resources, collude need with want?  Poets, I want to say, are expert at the complex ratio of limit to possibility.

Poetry, I want to suggest, is one way to not be surprised by death.

--ann lauterbach ['9/11: after the fall', p. 234; the night sky: writings on the poetics of experience, viking, 2005]

famous last words


Friday, July 22, 2016

I Regret

not getting a PhD.
friends & family could've sd
when they see
what's up, Doc?

Friday, July 15, 2016

let us now praise famous women

kirsty maccoll


Thursday, July 14, 2016

i make these notes to shore up my fragments

upon this desiccated life
still for him to think
is to love

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

this song is dedicated to john b-r
walk me out to the morning dew, my honey 

read this

eileen tabios' review journal galatea resurrects is fresh and frisky and ready for your eyeballs to revel and your mind to delight in a very many reviews and engagements with our beloved art of poetry.  within its contents you'll find two reviews of this here [theenk books, 2015] by my favorite poet - anti-poet - jim mccrary.  one of those reviews is by me.  nine bows to ms. tabios for editing and publishing this great journal.  get to clickin'!   

Monday, July 11, 2016

after work i promised to take nick to REI, the outdoors-person store.  it's his favorite place.  nick love all the gear, camping equipment, first aid kits and water treatment devices he can see.  i am the loving and dutiful father i take nick to the store where we spend an hour among all the cool things the kid can see, touch and hold.  yes, he did get a small something: a collapsible food bowl designed to fit in a hiker's backpack.

and despite my own mild form of the blues the field trip delivered a much needed respite from the despair and anguish i mostly have created for myself, anyway.  i've not written a poem in a couple of weeks.  i am reading several books, blogs, websites, twitter feeds etc.  but for my own writing i want something a little different.  i've taken to my notebook, and when i have penned a few lines, i am using a character i call the projectionist.  i am allowing myself to be messy as hell with these drafts and not worry about making a finished version.  hammer them out in my terrible handwriting then turn the page and wait for the next group of lines to come.

ah, lady be my muse!  or not.  i have great respect for the muse but i don't trust her.  she's fickle as fuck and really she is like nature, utterly indifferent to a poet's needs.  all i can do is call upon the muse and work like a motherfucker on my own. 

then there is life to be lived.  poetry and life are not distinct.  nope; they are the same, or similar.  navigating thru a poem is much like exploring the streets of your city and/or beloved landscapes, be they mountains, rivers or beaches.  being a poet, again to quote paul la fleur, is to find a new way to live.  i think giving our riotous era, the fucked up beauty of our world, a new way to live is by love. 

so it is that i took nick to REI and on the way there, and on the way back, we passed cal expo, the sight of the california state fair.  i loves me some state fair!  nick asked how they are able to set up a whole midway full of rides in such a short amount of time.  i saw the monorail, a mainstay of the fair, pass thru a couple of buildings.  the monorail is my favorite ride.  it is old!  i mean so old that state fair officials were going to retire the monorail on account of not having replacement parts for the cars.  that was met with old timers like me who love the monorail so much they convinced the officials to keep them running. 

just like me, old, older at least, and still running.  i am doing my best to practice a way to live by love.  i fail but as i quote beckett before i shall quote him again, i fail real good.

today the poet sez

give in / not give up

read on twitter but i can't remember the source

if the choice is the perfection of the art or the life
choose life, fuckhead

Sunday, July 10, 2016

it has  been a crazy month, and particularly a very insane week.  which included some personal travails that are not interesting in of themselves tho i am happy to discuss in private.  readjustment; realignment; mortality, and insept dates [to quote from a favorite movie].  i am behind on a writing assignment that i feel terrible about, not the assignment but about being late.  other things too.  to quote dogen, 'to study the self is to forget the self; to forget the self is to be enlightened by all things; to be enlightened by all things is to forget the barrier between self and Other'.   i am doing my damnedest to forget my self.  i shall fail, of course, but i hope, in the phrase of samuel beckett, fail again.  fail better.

Monday, July 04, 2016

today, the 4th of july, we are doing very little but a couple of projects for home and waiting for nightfall so we can light a batch of fireworks.  but in honor of this day i am posting a video of the magnificent jim harrison reading two poems by the late, wonderful native american poet/novelist james welch.

have a happy and safe 4th of july

still figuring shit out

i find myself googling the venice, ca based artist billy al bengston.  i like his work, and laid back personality.  venice is a very cool place.  i've been there only once and it was like god smacked me upside the head.  visions of surf, surfing, skateboarding, and a gritty serenity enveloped me when i stepped on to the beach.  i'm no beach boy by any means.  but there is a kind of vibe that venice produces that agrees with my own sine waves.

then again when i was in my early 20s i made several trips to so cal with my brother.  often we would hop in the car with no destination in mind.  just drive down i5 and see where the road took you.  the road took me to a library in downtown l.a. when my brother had business somewhere and i was killing time.  i found a small press anthology of local poets.  i can't remember the poets but i do remember the book was cheaply produced and its edges were ragged.  the library was sparsely populated but for the odd street person.  and i was in love with the whole experience of reading gritty street poetry in a public downtown l.a. library.

then there was the time when the road took me to the l.a. county museum of art.  i was still figuring shit out.  like artists, art, reading, writing, learning how to navigate this odd, peculiar, dangerous, beautiful world.  i discovered the boxing painting by george bellows that knocked me flat on my ass in awe.  that was the place i saw the coolest dude i had, at the time, laid my eyes upon.  he looked like the art mafia, but oh man!  dressed all in black wearing doc martin boots his grey hair clipped very short with a bushy steel grey beard and round tortoise shell eyeglasses.  i was sure i was staring right at the productions of late 20th century painting.

i thought that when you reached a certain age you would have lots of shit figured out.  i was totally and utterly wrong.  the older i get the more i know i don't know, and will never know.  i reread this weekend an essay by the canadian poet roo borson.  she writes about approaching the age of 50, and rereading basho who in his own middle age set upon his journeys that were collected in his book of travel haibun the narrow road to the deep north.  borson is also working toward an understanding that she will not be able to figure everything in her life.  aging is a curious affair.  when you are young time is seemingly infinite and un-constructed.  the whole universe is waiting for you to explore it.  when you age time constricts.  your mortality slaps you across the nose and yells, your days are numbered, dumbshit, what the fuck are you gonna do with them?  

that is a fair question.  one of the pleasures of aging is the knowledge of how vast the universe is and how limited your life is.  against such vast-ness the older person rediscovers a vitality.  you, the person with intellect and a lusting body, are limited by time.  you are also limited by your abilities too.  never mind all that.  joy to the man or woman, or transgender person, who can look upon the present moment, whatever that moment might be, in utter awe.  because, we are fucking here.  yes, it sucks, sometimes.  the buddha tells us, life is suffering, life sucks.  even when i despair that we will not make this a better world i do my best to persevere.  i don't know where the hell we are going.  the future is looking pretty grim.  and yet, the life we live is predicated on mutual love, respect and understanding.  i am sure of that.  anything less is sure of our destruction as a species.

borson reread basho at the age of 49 because she still hadn't figured shit out and was looking for a guide.  so am i at the same age.  i don't know what success is.  if success is measured by wealth and fame than i am fucked.  if failure is ascribed by the continuing exploration of how to live than call me a failure.  i like bengston because he is a california artist.  i am a california boy too.  not a beach boy even if you looked at me right now tanned as a motherfucker and still shaking out the beach sand from my shoes.  i still haven't figured shit out.  but i know what the danish poet paul la fleur said, to be a poet is not writing a poem but finding a new way to live.  in this place called earth we all occupy finding a new way of living is the hardest art.  that is how i'll end this essay.   


Sunday, July 03, 2016

oblique mottos

life is 2 short
2 b in such a hurry

pay attention, motherfucker!

old man at the beach


Friday, July 01, 2016

my dream last night

i don't put much stock in my dreams
rarely do i remember them
but i think the salt air and the sound of the surf
did wonders on my nervous system
i dreamt i was with a few of my favorite poets
like jean vengua eileen tabios tom beckett john b-r
to name a few we were at a writers festival
we all woke at the same time
eileen was passing around her latest collaboration
with her two toms, tom beckett and tom fink
a heavily revised paragraph of prose poetry
i watched jean as she slipped outside i wanted to say something to her
i woke to the sound of the surf with nick and anna beside me
feeling deep peace and a well-earned serenity

yesterday in the surf with nick
a wave that was so big
it punched me in the face
24 hrs later i still haven't found my landlegs

what is you?

this morning i awoke to the sound of the surf right outside a lovely foggy morning at our annual beach house holiday in cayucos, ca, the beach town time forgot

tonight i tap out a few words in casa de lopez/bronson it is still very hot outside the range of temperature today my body went thru is off the charts [not really but i was wearing a jacket as we looked at young elephant seals at their annual molt near hearst castle because it was damn chilly to a several hour drive thru my beloved state back to my city where a heatwave just broke and everything looks parched]

i recall in morro bay [a larger city a couple miles down the road famous for a giant rock sitting in the bay and three smoke stacks from the long shuttered power plant also on the bay] buying a couple things for anna at a garden store when i handed my credit card to the lady she looked at my name and blurted you don't look like a lopez

her face then turned red and she apologized for her rudeness i told her it's okay i've heard that all my life

turns out last year i did a dna analysis thru national geographic where they trace both your genes from both your mother and your father staring 60k years ago in africa

no surprises since i knew already my mother's family is from bergen, norway and my father's family is from spain but what caught my attention is that i am 14% native american and i am more or less a son of the laplanders in northern scandinavia [my mother-in-law who is born and bred swedish guessed on that last one because of the structure of my eyes]

i am a california hybrid a 21st century boy

but like many of us we are the sons and daughters of many peoples i make no special claim i grew up in a house where my norwegian mother grilled tortillas for dinner as we ate norwegian pancakes on a sunday morning i put my on zapatos one at a time and had to pick up my dirty chonies off the floor of my bedroom all the while digging grandma's spooky norwegian trolls she had hanging all over her house

life is always a mixture of many things

i take great delight in being a mix of cultures living is complex even if i try to attain simplicity i am always failing

like the micro-climates [hot in one area foggy and cold in another part of the state] of my beloved republic of california identity is un-fixed because we are always changing as we move thru the limits of our days the lady who blurted i don't look like a lopez is fixed on an image of what the owner of the name lopez looks like but really a name by any other is just as sweet because we all come in many forms