Thursday, January 31, 2008

stop making sense

clicking thru the host of u.k. journals collected here today i find the work of scots, irish and welsh gaelic poet rody gorman. i want to say something about how marginal languages and poetry [for many a marginal art] seem to cohere sometimes. that gorman is an interesting poet based on the 2 pieces i read today here and there where he mashes gaelic and english together as both languages translates into a new form of poetry. and that translation might be one of the essences of poetry. for we are always trying to convey some sense or fragment of thought by that most slippery of appliances: words. so gorman writes his works in english and gaelic and translates simultaneously, and i'm sure there is something i mean to say, but can only point out the obvious that poetry is marginal for some, but for the rest of us the source and nourishment for our lives and that translation, whether in fact or deed, is primary to poetry. an interview with gorman is found here.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

sitting around, doing nothing

well, not quite since i worked a bit on the poem posted below while listening to aphex twin at pandora, then i read this piece about tom stoppard's habit of lugging his way heavy book box on his travels versus the comfort and ease and portability of the e-book reader kindle. and it reminds me of the time when i moved to south florida for a bit when i was in my early 20s. i had 2 suitcases with me: one for my clothes and assorted sundries, and the second for my books, which included copies of the dream songs by john berryman and a selected borges reader.

one of my roommates was a tech freak, she at the time subscribed to a very early internet ipo whose name eludes me at the moment. the year was 1990. anyway, she said if there was an e-book i'd not need to lug a 100 lbs of books like i did.

i scoffed at the notion. now i think she's right and here i am reading poems, listening to music and working on poems on my laptop and blogging about it. and yet, i love my books. the weight, the smell, the dust that accumulates so quickly. i gaze at their spines as they sit on my shelves as if i were looking into the eyes of a lover. and each room i go into i have an annoying habit of stopping for a few minutes, pulling a collection of the shelf and read a page or two, a poem or two.

so no. i'm still like stoppard and will lug my books thru the end of my days. lifting their collective weight is not a beast of burden but the labor of a deep and abiding love and passion. sure i'll get an e-reader too. print whether in digital or analog forms is still language. and it is not an either/or thing regarding paper or pixels. i want them both and now.

in other yet i think releated news please read ernesto priego's finsbury park manifesto.

word to your mother

everything, everything

maybe the best lives happen when our hearts stop

cold still or beat up control so that the heart can stroke

up & not stroke out & when i asked a friend when is

middle age she replied it is when you hit your 60s &

maybe she's right most of us will live pretty long lives still

why stay young anyway when i'm shaken and surprised to

read tonight in the paper that MADONNA as in THE MATERIAL GIRL

will be 50 this august 2008 which is as you know just the dawn of

our 21st century it has a long way to go what is to be discovered

what developments & love & horrors await us that time is not a threshold

or a current but a permanent stasis it seems so still that only our

perceptions are moving even as flesh age the mind is like that rough

bright spot on your jeans a stain on the fabric of space & time which

used to fit so well and made this boy stroke up in heat & light

when i bought the MADONNA issue of playboy magazine circa 1985


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

the desire for ink is inexplicable. it is similar i suppose to the obsessions of a life in poetry. without hammering out the comparisons of the two separate arts, there lies a relationship with the need to mark the flesh in imagery and the compulsion to mark the world in systems of signifiers. both types of obsessions are addicting. it is not uncommon for a young man or woman to take up the pen, then put it down in the midst of life, only to pick it back up later in life and begin writing as if for the first time. the same perhaps goes for ink.

at least for some people. at least it is for me.

i'm not the only one in my obsessions. here's my favorite poet thom gunn on the matter.

'Blackie, the Electric Rembrandt'

We watch through the shop-front window while
Blackie draws stars -- an equal

concentration on his and
the youngter's faces. The hand

is steady and accurate;
but the boy does not see it

for his eyes follow the point
that touches (quick, dark movement!)

a virginal arm beneath
his rolled sleeve: he holds his breath.

. . .Now that it is finished, he
hands a few bills to Blackie

and leaves with a bandage on
his arm, under which gleam ten

stars, hanging in a blue thick
cluster. Now he is starlike.
i understand gunn got his panther by the famous lyle tuttle but i don't know when. the poem above is from the 1961 collection My Sad Captains.

Monday, January 28, 2008

the weekend before last i did manage to see the big monster movie using hand-held cameras as pov a la blair witch project cloverfield. i didn't expect much since most monster movies are rarely frightening. but i admire the moxie of the directors of blair witch who managed to create a piece of cinema that i thought was disturbing because the creature chasing the 3 student filmmakers is never seen. the use of hand-held cameras also creates a bit of flavor that strengthens the limitations of working with a minuscule budget. plus, using hand-held cameras is a kind of cinema verite that i thought worked pretty effectively. in other words, i loved the style of blair witch and if there's a monster that has to attack manhattan - and it seems like a monster has to attack manhattan every other week in the world of filmdom - then by god use hand-held cameras so that the viewer - me - feels like i'm right in the midst of all the chaos and destruction.

so most of the minuscule budget of cloverfield was spent on creature cgi and special fx. yes, we see the nasty monter and yes that bitch was unstoppable. the shambles of a plot concerns a quartet of twentysomethings searching for their leader, rob's, girlfriend who left for her flat after a quarrel with rob at his own going away party, about an hour before the creature attacks. there needn't be a plot at all since the movie was about the confusion of an attack on manhattan. there were plenty of post-911 imagery, such as billowing dust and asbestos from falling buildings, people walking around dazed and shellacked with debris, papers floating to the ground and fires everywhere. nor is there an explanation as to what the monster is. there shouldn't be for in most decent horror films evil just is and that is all.

most of the set pieces were good, including the creature's attack on i think it was the brooklyn bridge. there were also shades of our lives in contemporary media culture. for example, when the head of the statue of liberty - shown both in the teaser and full trailers - is shot down the street by the creature, rob and co. stop to take pics of it with their mobile phones after it stalled on a taxicab. and when hud, our pov in this nightmarish vision, is on the brooklyn bridge he films a guy who is filming him as they both film the sight of the headless statue of liberty as she is examined by the klieg light of a police helicopter.

but before you think i hated this movie i will end this piece by saying i didn't. if the post-911 imagery screams exploitation then i must remind ourselves that the japanese responded to nuclear holocaust with their own radiation spewing monster that attacked tokyo, of which this film is so indebted. and as for the reports of people barfing up either their drinks, popcorn, lunch and/or dinner while watching this film, i can't speak for them. because i loved the jittery, sometimes unfocused lens of hud as we watch him and rob and crew try not to get eaten by the monster or blown up by the military. oh, another piece of proof that this movie is a horror film: because in this small universe made by producer j.j. abrams - of the oft red-herring baited tv series lost - and director matt reeves, the military are one of the good guys.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

without boring the shit out of everybody let me just say that the past week has been a test of stress management. so then anyway driving around yesterday doing a few chores with the radio on a band called wolfmother has this song that reminds me a lot of classic rock, you know like led zeppelin, the who, creedance clearwater revival, but the band is pretty good and hardrocking. i crank the beast up to 11 and somehow the stress for a moment lifts.

and in other news the newest listenlight just went live with poems by phil primeau, francis raven, kara dorris, mackenzie carignan, christopher mulrooney, angela papala, craig perez, william harris and richard lopez.

dig it

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

writing is collaboration. taken from the quotidian and the extraordinary the texts we read, the movies and music we see and hear, the streets we drive and walk are texts that are built upon and worked on contemporaneously with texts of sight [site], mind and language. here is borges on the matter:

A miracle happens: from the fortuitous conjunctions of a Persian astronomer who condescends to write poetry, and an eccentric Englishman who peruses Oriental and Hispanic books, perhaps without completely understanding them, emerges an extraordinary poet who does not resemble either of them.


All collaboration is mysterious.

from "The Enigma of Edward FitzGerald" by Jorge Luis Borges

and that faulkner used to say if he hadn't written his novels somebody else would have written them.

thanks to ernesto who sent me back to borges tonight.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

can't say that today was a fucked up day. it only felt like a fucked up day. who was it that said, i think i'm in hell. therefore, i'm in hell. was that m rimbaud?

a long day, at least. bent over my desk. back hurts. legs scrunched into pretzels and feel just as doughy as uncooked pretzels. this is a short history of my melancholy. who was it that wrote the book titled, a medicine for melancholy. was that ray bradbury?

at the end of a long day, i read heath ledger died today. the news is not the source of my blues but it is like the cherry on top of a shit cake. unexpected. unreal. for he was so young and so good at his art.

the news struck me like the day of river phoenix's death. unexpected. unreal. for he was so young and so good at his art.

life is sometimes terribly short.

Monday, January 21, 2008

i've not forgotten geof's meme. the past week i'd go thru my archives and find that i've been blogging since april '04. that's seems to me a long time. so finding faves thru my stacks of posts proved a daunting task. i asked anna if she had any favorite pieces of mine and she said yes. there was one where i'd written about death that she liked so much that she shared it with her co-workers. when i asked when i wrote it she couldn't remember, and because i'm an idiot, i don't title or tag my posts, i couldn't find it.

so i limited my search to the year 2005, which is the beginning of our life with nicholas. as i've just said, i don't title my posts so i'll use the categories as links to my favorite pieces.

here goes:


the birth of nicholas bronson lopez was the most momentous, the most important, the wildest, craziest, and the most cherished and beloved, event that happened in my life. this photo of nicholas is my favorite of my favorites pics of nicholas. i can't describe it other than i think anna, who took the pic, captured an essence of our son that is serious, playful, and just really cute.


oz poet/editor mark young is one of my first friends i found in the ether. i dedicated this poem to him because of mark's acute intellect and love of strange details in life and science. plus i think that the poem may not be perfect, well far from perfect, it is i think an interesting prose poem, a form that i find difficult to write in. in other words, the poem written in friendship ia a noble failure on my part.


i hate 2nd hand smoke, but i love the paraphernalia of smoking. i used to smoke and i used to enjoy smoking. i gave it up permanently when both anna and agreed to stop. i was 25 and anna i think 23. society has come down hard on smoking and smokers in the past 15-20 years. a shame really. perhaps it has something to do with our ideas of youth and the vain desire to live forever. i don't know but i still like the stuff of smoking and this post i think illustrates why.

something i love

my own sentimental education was earned at the movies. not only do i love watching films, i love the stuff of movies: posters, lobby cards, and theaters. but what i love most of all was watching flicks at the drive-in. sac had an abundance of them when i was a wee lad in the 1970s and since it was cheap entertainment my mom and dad would take me and my 2 younger bros. i'd beg and plead to go to the drive-ins. and since my parents didn't censor my viewing my life-long love of horror and exploitation movies were formed at the drive-in. now whether that is for good or ill is up for debate.

free choice

this last post is a case in point regarding my love of really bad movies. i enjoy writing movie reviews and this post is about one of my favorite films of the past 5 years or so. and hopefully there are a few readers who also enjoy these sorts of films. but what i hope about writing reviews is not to convince the reader to go see the movie in question but to enjoy the review as an entertainment in itself. that's what i look for in other bloggers' pieces. my obsessions are not, can not be, the same as yours. and vice versa. what i want is a writing that takes the whole of the subject with an enthusiasm and joy. even if that joy might be of a negative variety, and yes i think there is such a thing, without defining it here, as negative joy. so my reviews, and i think i've written far too few of them, are pieces that i hope convey my love for the movies. even those movies i loathe.

okay that's it. i've promised anna that i'll link to the piece that she enjoyed soon as i find it. and yes, i'm gonna tag a few brethren too. so get ready. but if you don't want to do it, as mike myers used to say in that old saturday night live skit: no big whoop.

so i tag:

steve caratzas

gina myers

ernesto priego

w. b. keckler

logan ryan smith

jean vengua


alex gildzen

no risk but in things
in risk

in failure

or so it goes, since the idea of risk is, i think, always on the minds of writers. hell, risk is probably always on the minds of each individual regardless of obsessions, occupations, or stations in life. risk as a notion belongs in the category of failure since to face risk, or to challenge risk, is also to court failure. but failure is not an option. it is guaranteed in life and endeavour. thus the arts of life and its attendant obsessions require that we must fail, always. success is measured by how well we fail. faulkner noted that the writer's task is to put the whole of life on the head of a pin. an impossible success even as it ends in failure.

* * *

tonight the history channel will broadcast life after people.
looking forward to watching it.

i love that sort of stuff.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

instead of writing tonight i watched again danny boyle's movie sunshine. upon a 3rd viewing the seams begin to show. what was more interesting were the extra features which includes deleted scenes. one was the 'alternate ending' which was just a cheaply shot version of the theatrical ending.

it puzzles me why such a gifted filmmaker, a movie-maker with such a delicious sense of black humor [see trainspotting; see shallow grave], would opt out in this film for the cheap happy ending. boyle's previous effort, the revisionist zombie flick 28 days later, had an alternate ending added as a bonus feature to the dvd where the tone matched most of the tenor of the entire movie: it was bleak, and thus in my mind refreshing. and i prefer the alt-conclusion to 28 rather than the optimistic ending of the theatrical print.

so rather sunshine ends on a note far too positive and quashes the film's buddng metaphysics: the nature of man and the will of god. but that theme is too shallowly explored to develop past the notion of, um, whatever.

just the same, boyle's films, even when failures are visually and aurally impressive. boyle chooses just the right score as ambient textures and musical notes gathers up and delivers us to a fantastic field of vision of smeared, blasted light. that alone makes a sitting thru sunshine worth the effort. i think.

speaking of film scores. i think one of the best i've heard in a long time is the soundtrack to 30 days of night, where there really wasn't any music at all but it was all texture and weight. i'd best describe it as a latter album by aphex twin, just almost. i can't weight for the dvd release for that movie.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

going thru my archives in search of posts that match the criteria of geof's meme i think that it's gonna take me a while. better give myself a bit of time. but going thru my first year of blogging, 2004, a persistant subject that kept cropping up is what is the ideal job for a poet.

i'm less anxious about it now since i've met many different poets who have a variety of careers and jobs working either day or night. the best job i gather for a poet is the one that pays the bills. i reject the common belief that teaching, presumably at the college level, is the only proper job for a writer.

a few night back i was googling for poems by the d.c. poet buck downs. i've long dug his work and his ethos of self-publishing. cuz it's the work that matters, and how that work gets done. here is downs on the art of diy poetics and self-publishing:

I'm sure that my opinion gets read as some kind of sour grapes and/or blithering contrariness. But I would put it to anybody who writes poetry and is baffled or unhappy: stop sending poems to strangers who edit magazines; make a list of the friends & fellow poets you want to share with; send those people your poems, & expect nothing. If the results you get are half as gratifying as mine, you'll never go back.

can't argue with that.

finally, the romantic in me long thought that driving a cab might be the best job for a writer. oz writer martin edmond's blog derives is precisely about his adventures as a taxi driver in sydney. i think i wrote about my idea of a perfect job being a cab driver before. well, maybe it ain't but edmond makes it sound like a great adventure. i still like to daydream. and yes, teaching is a great gig if you can get it. but if not, no big deal. the worlds of poetry - poetries - demand only that they be fed. however one gets that income is the job to have.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

as i search thru my archives for my meme let me point out a long poem by jonathan hayes: t(here). been meaning to write a bit about it for some time. i think it is hayes' most ambitious work to date. it is a mix of lyric and prose and collage that demands the reader to slow down and savor it as the narrative breaks and breaks down the reader to produce a bit of mesmerism. not that the piece is slow, hayes is nothing if not a muscular, blunt, poet. rather that the details accumulate as any good large text should do allowing the reader a little bit of magic. and that is what i guess i mean by mesmerism. good poems must allow for a bit of magic. i think. at least it is magic for me when i read a piece by a poet that i admire because i'm amazed how the writer managed to compose a set of words that can get me high. the effect is amazement. hayes' text needs to be read rather than have me write about. so read it. now.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

a big thanks to everyone who wrote supportive emails and commented on my last post. i am deeply, really, touched. at the moment i am back to my old self and feeling rather pretty good. the sun is shining, birds are chirping, dogs and kitty sleeping, as i have the window open to let the fresh air in.

just a touch, a light touch, or a reminder, of spring.

and but so, today as anna and nicholas do some shopping i've read two books by martin stannard, conversations with myself and writing down the days, and reread the chap expensive magic by cedar sigo which arrived in the mail yesterday. next up is prau by jean vengua.

and and just got the final manuscript of our split chap by jonathan hayes. next step is to send it the printers.

finally, geof huth hit me up with a meme and you know i can't resist a meme. expect it in a day or so.

peace and love

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

just skating the inside of a level of anxiety that can become toxic. if that sounds like hyperbole it isn't since i've long suffered from panic disorder and twice in my life i've been so knocked out by the disease that i could hardly leave the house. what really worries me is not just the loss of control from the state of my mind, but that language becomes difficult. speaking sometimes takes a herculean effort and tho i've managed to continued to write under extreme duress the fear of loss of control makes the act of writing an art of phobia control. for in panic disorder a host of phobias can develop and it can take years to recover from them. any activity might seem to bring on an attack and therefore that activity is usually associated with the disease and thus avoided. that alone is horrifying.

but that sounds more awful than the level i'm currently experiencing. i've promised myself and i promised anna to get medical help if my attacks increase in their severity. what worries me is the personality altering effects both of the attacks and perhaps even the medication should i be prescribed them. i worry about losing my pleasures of reading/writing which in my life is my life. i worry about being unable to sit thru a feature film. i don't worry about my family since i've always taken comfort and pleasure in my relationships even when i was in the depths of hell.

i worry too much just the same. talking about the disease helps i think. guess that's why i'm stating it here. for the most part i think one of my abiding resources is my ability to take pleasure in my mere being of living. i could write more about my personal coping mechanisms but frankly who cares all that much. i don't. better to get on with it. life demands nothing less.

just finished watching sunshine, a movie i've been waiting to see on dvd since i first seen the film last july. a few stray thoughts before bedtime. the film holds up better than i expected. there are some gaps in the story but it never gets in the way of the storytelling. certain motifs, such as 'we are made of stardust', work better than i remember, and the photography, editing and score are fantastic. if you can get past the seeming unbelievability of a gorgeous crew - cillian murphy is particularly pretty, there is no other word to describe him - sent out to save the solar system, or even the soft science of the sun flickering out like an old light bulb, you'll find a very good movie.

as for my previous post, i've had that rem song looped in my noggin for several days. it seems apropo to my anger about the whole stupid, and very silly, process of candidates campaigning for what might be the worst job in the world. at least in my definition. therefore, any person who seeks public office and willingly go thru such travails and lies, both by enduring and telling them, must be suspect because such a person wants power so badly. as for the end of the world, well, when is it not ending. and yes, i feel fine about that just the same.

peace and love, suckas
cuz in the end the love
you take is equal
to the love you make

Monday, January 07, 2008

it's not that i'm apathetic or apolitical. i've been an active voter since my early 20s. just this time i can't stand all the fucking blather and bullshit of the candidates i'm not listening to their speeches or debates. u.s. politics appears to be just a naked grab for power. i mean, who the fuck would work so hard, spend so much money and kiss so much ass, not to mention spin so much bullshit, for the job of president of the united states of america if it wasn't a sharp hunger for power. also imagine the messes of the current administration that the next leader will need to clean-up and i think the person who wants the job has got to have a hole in the head. so anyway, we in the u.s. are in the downward spiral to election day. with that i have a song in my head as a kind of anthem.

ladies and gentlemen,

'it's the end of the world as we know it [and i feel fine]':

Friday, January 04, 2008

light in '69 san francisco
for nick phillips

Poor junkie girl

Nodding out

Scrivenings of mind

Inside the locked cell

Sex is syntactic

Tenderloin of man

& woman

Identities merge

The black tours

& towers of stables

Hiding horses

What is love

A map of tracks

A slant of works

it's a day that demands we do nothing but cozy up in our abode while the storms rattle the house and pelts us with rain. very, very windy and very, very wet. i love it. we've taken the day off and the only reason i got dressed was to go out and clear the street of debris, leaves and fallen branches. i got soaked. it's a big, big storm. i'm writing this entry again because i lost it as i was about to publish and the power went out, thus losing my connection.

even so, just received by copies of kevin killian's and dodie bellamy's mirage #4/period(ical) #146 where my sonnet sequence about filmmaker/novelist ed wood jr sit next to poems by landis everson and elizabeth hatmaker. this doesn't just make me happy. it gives me a high high.

and but wrote a draft of a poem, watched a few movie clips at youtube and reading venus ill-treated by the odd ones / envoi by the late italian poet dario villa and translated by duncan mcnaughton.

finally check out this reading by seattle poet mickey o'connor at the subtext reading series last summer.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

okay this is a trip. i was watching the end of a slasher flick on ifc when nicholas comes out of the bedroom asking for some milk. nicholas like warm milk. i go into the kitchen to heat the milk. not much is happening onscreen but nicholas is watching the tv. slasher movies from the early 1980s are pretty bland affairs with lots of dead, boring, space between slashes.

however, i was in the kitchen worried that he's gonna see something that'll give him nightmares. so just when i hear the music cue up to telegraph the next bit of grue i run out to turn the tv off and see the tv is already off. i've kept my eye on nicholas the whole time i was in the kitchen and didn't see him leave his seat nor did he have the remote which was propped on the coffee table a few feet away. i ask nicholas if he turned off the tv. he says, no the tv did it.

perhaps the tv, or a helpful spirit, had more sense than the dumb-ass father who left the dumb-ass movie on to heat up a little milk while his son watches the said dumb-ass movie and turned it off before there was a scene to freak the boy out. i don't know, but it was strange just the same.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

last night was thinking of an elderly local poet, janet carncross chandler, who passed away i think more than ten years ago. i didn't know her well, but i recall a lovely evening spent chatting with her during a group reading that i participated in when i was i think 21 or so and still a very wet, goofy guy. i can't recall but i think our group, which included catalin kaser, either then or just a bit later called itself THE BEATRICE COLLECTIVE.

when it was my turn to read i think i pissed my pants i was so nervous. i apologized profusely for not having my poems typed up and being an overall wreck. when it was over i could feel the sweat dripping off my forehead and onto my glasses. i returned to my seat next to janet who offered a bit of encouragement and this one piece of advice:

never apologize for your work.

i try to remember that even when i think my poems suck. who knows what anyhow, and who cares. it is the life of the work, and the work of life that matters. in a more general phrase: there is only one you and that you is not replaceable. let the life of poetry be as it is lived. without rehearsals. or self-reproach. hardly a livable ideal. what is a writer but a collection of neuroses and self-doubt. but janet's advice struck me as being kind of punk rock. no need to complain, explain or apologize. after the first death there is no other.

and now for a bit of self-promotion - okay?!

please see the newest concelebratory shoehorn review where you'll find artwork, music reviews and poems by poets such as a dude named richard lopez

read on
and discover other
fantastic work there
like the likes of reb livingston
and reginald sheperd
whose autobiographical essay - sheperd's - in the newest
poets and writers magazine
is the only reason to buy poets and writers magazine
if you might want to buy
it at all