Sunday, May 31, 2009

2 by slowdive



2 by piana



Saturday, May 30, 2009

street sign

driving down fulton ave

there's a sign all in text

with a little graffiti flourish at the top left and bottom right corner

exhorting all who read it to not commit manslaughter tonight

i couldn't believe it

public art advert for a video game or psa

the prologue to a horror movie

with no known plot

note on dreams

reading reb livingston's post about dreams made me think a little about my own dreams and their impact on my writing. when i do remember my dreams i do because my dreams are vivid manifestations of a host of stressors. mostly memory of my dreams evaporate upon waking and become wisps of unconnected images by day's end.

when i do remember my dreams i don't try to tease out the symbols to get at the root of their meanings. i accept that my brain is attempting to work out a logic of reasoning behind whatever worries and/or obsessions i'm in at the time.

e.g. i posted a poem a couple of weeks ago, '2 dreams', dedicated to ernesto priego because i had a dream about ernesto and the imagery from the poem comes out of that dream. i've no idea what the imagery's significance might be but i know that the dream was about friendship and physical distance. the result of the dream was the poem.

how does one know that the life of poetry become a life? for certain the life in poetry, the life of poetry, does not come from some manual even if we, or me, read biographies of writers when just starting out because we, or me, are trying to figure out how to become a writer. the life in poetry is a continuous process of accretion of readings, experience, accident, determination and luck. it is different, even if the ambitions are the same, for each person. we never know if we've arrived even if by age of 60 we've accumulated about 5 ft of shelf space with publications with our names on the covers. the life in poetry is a series of missteps, stumbles, exultation and utter pleasures in the going and never arriving. the tao of poetry, yes.

well then anyway, i suppose i became comfortable in self-doubt and poetry after a dream. since my late teens when i began to think of writing as my way of living i entered my 20s filled with extreme shyness and doubt. i knew my writing sucked ass but i was determined to develop. by my early 20s i was taking a writing class and befriended a couple of student-poets. the classes, i think, really had no impact on my development as a poet. my education came from living in the stacks at the library and going to poetry readings.

it was the night before a reading when one of my friends was a scheduled reader. at the time i was pretty well hooked on berryman's dream songs. i'm the furthest poet from berryman. i'm no natural scholar, i don't have a monumental drinking problem, i don't have a huge ego either. i don't think. anyway, berryman was my man at the time. i loved his look, thick, black-framed glasses, tweed jackets and thick, grey, wiry beard. i don't remember the particulars of my dream but what i do remember is that i was a tattooed version of berryman. i relayed my dream to my friends who gave me a quizzical look. tattooed berryman? they asked. yes.

i was not a confidant man then, nor do i think i'm confidant now. what does it matter. when in doubt fake it, is my mantra. the pose becomes the stance. i've been alight with language and imagination since my dream. it perhaps was no confirmation of my becoming a poet. but neither does writing, reading and publishing. for any of us. i conclude my dream was a way to say yes to poetry. the tao of poetry. for me there's been no other way.

Friday, May 29, 2009

face dances

past but
sitting quite still

evening, hot
still and plain

bus stop
a woman singing

song i
do not recognize

hi there mister
she says

pass, big
smile, lost teeth

hi there, again
as he

up at me
points and

there goes
mr alec baldwin

Thursday, May 28, 2009


out for
the word *heart*

i hear
the word *heat*

if this
could not control

but long
on the art

between the
road and home

dante's inferno [2007]

i caught the first 20 minutes of this flick some weeks ago and finally got to watch it in its entirety last night. the title makes the flick sound like either a bad action movie or a horrible porno film from the 1970s. rather it is an updated retelling of the italian poet dante alighieri's journey thru hell in the form of a paper puppet show. sounds goofy indeed yet the poet, voiced by dermot mulroney, is a laid-back slacker with quite a lot of charisma. the puppetry is quite simply spell-binding. hell is the united states during the bush-era and the usual roster of deviltry is represented in the nine circles including dick cheney whose soul in the living world is occupied by a demon [which is something most of us probably already suspected].

dante, as we know, wakes up in the middle of his life to a journey toward illumination. his guide is that most sane of roman poets, virgil, voiced by james cromwell. dante is so laid-back that his character reminded me a bit of jim rockford, played by james garner, from the 1970s tv crime drama the rockford files, which is a mixture of humor, resignation and some action. i recall the scenes when rockford would return home to his trailer by the sea and some thugs would be waiting for him to kick the p.i.'s ass. rockford would just shrug and sigh, ah man. the same goes for mulroney's dante as he gets himself into some serious jams as virgil gives the younger poet quite a visual and visceral tour of the netherworld. yet, when virgil tantalizes dante with a few glimpses of his guide for heaven, beatrice, the poet becomes all gaga and starry-eyed. nice touch by the filmmaker.

hell is a place we all recognize. there's even an airport where the sinners are beaten mercilessly by airport security. one poor soul is taken aside, placed in a room and when the door shuts the screams of horror and pain hit me like a two-by-four across the bridge of the nose. luckily, scenes of such visceral horror are few. the filmmaker is heavy-handed when portraying contemporary sinners such as lobbyists and insider traders who are forced to spend eternity bartering their inner organs. the messages are without irony and clumsily drawn. the direction of the film is rather flat in spots and the filmmaker takes a kind of care into showing the production of making the movie, such as the occasional hand controlling the puppets that the viewer need not forget that this is a post-modern telling of the poem.

at any rate, the movie is quite a feast. if the punishment of the sinners are drawn in crayon then so was dante's original vehicle of social and metaphysical commentary too. i liked the slacker language of the movie which captions just enough snippets of the poem to illustrate the literary qualities of the source text. most of the time when you call something 'literary' it is meant as a pejorative. not in this case for the film as a puppet show illustrates the literariness of the source text. watching the puppets is kind of like reading the text. if the film were pure animation or live action the filmmaker i think would find the story of a poet, and i emphasize poet because we are not to forget that dante and virgil are both poets -- there's even references to dante's books and his being a sell-out, visiting hell turned into an action movie. the puppets ground the source text into film and allows the language to become visual representations of the action of the poem.

should a movie be judged based solely on how often it runs thru the mind after viewing it then this movie succeeds. if i found that the direction at times a bit stilted that didn't prevent me from enjoying the whole spectacle. this is an inspired work of cinema. it makes me want to immerse myself in the poem again. perhaps i like this film so much because it is a bit of self-identification as i am about the same age that dante was when he set out on his journey. and i can identify even further with mulroney's slacker poet. whatever the cause of my pleasure watching this flick i find myself, unlike dante, still trying to wake.

Monday, May 25, 2009

tv movies

recently i was told by a co-worker that i was the most nostalgic man she ever met. that might be true, i admit, but rather than getting worked up over being the most nostalgic man in california, maybe even planet earth [if that ain't a big stretch] i'm happy enough to still have a mind working well enough to remember the past. i don't think i live in the past but i do make frequent visits.

encouraged by anna who recently found a childhood flick she watched as a little girl in class on the internet with just two clicks of a mouse i fired up the laptop to search for a movie that has haunted my memory for as long as i can remember. back in the day the three television networks, abc, nbc and cbs, would create their own full-length features. the networks promos would get me salivating like pavlov's dogs.

not that most, or even any, of the movies broadcast were any good. still, there's a kind of innocent cheesiness missing in current broadcast media. often the movies made by the big three networks were heavy on exploitation and horror yet because they were subject to strict censorship the sex and gore were most often implied rather than made explicit.

and so but good, there's a movie i remembered that aired either in the late '70s or early '80s about a computerized house that tries to kill a couple. images of the movie have haunted me since first seeing it. and i've seen the film perhaps only twice. i had developed a massive crush on the woman lead. yet, i couldn't remember much about the film except for a backyard swimming pool that boils someone alive and cameras positioned around the house with closed-circuit tv monitors that the house used as eyes.

i fired up the computer and with a couple of clicks i found the flick. the movie, this house possessed [1981], starring parker stevenson as a rock star recovering from a nervous breakdown and lisa eilbacher as his nurse who has a mysterious tie with the house. now, i've not seen this flick since the early '80s and i'm guessing it is pretty cheesy indeed. and yet, i lovingly remember the movie. so far as i know there's not been either a vhs or dvd release of the film.

there is a pretty good synopsis of the movie here and soon as i read that i knew it i knew it was the same film that i recall. the last i read the big three networks are still reeling from the competition of cable channels and the internet. they seem to have fixated solely upon reality programming of which, for the time being, is a huge money-maker. it's not that i'm nostalgic or nothing. but i do have good memories of holing up on a friday night to watch movies like this house possessed or smash-up on interstate 5 with a pizza and the long night ahead of me. but on second consideration, if that makes me the most nostalgic man in california, then okay, then.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

steady now

today's horoscope predicted that i will fall back in love with life. yesterday my nerves were all shot and life and me were having a row. it'd been a long week with next week not looking any better. but sure enough my horoscope proved prescient. after the previous weekend's triple digit temperatures, this weekend is down right gorgeous. i have the window open as i type and there is a cool breeze and the air is soft and feeling rather snuggly.

i posted that bit from tom andrews yesterday because i'd pulled the book from the shelf quite by random. i'd wanted something to read in the john. it is a memoir, written in prose and verse, that i've read many times over the years. andrews was the first poet i'd read from my generation who had written of eating at kentucky fried chicken, listening to jimi hendrix, seeing the clash and studying the paintings of joan miro. in short, his was a kindred spirit and i found his work by chance while reading an excerpt of his long poem by the same name as his memoir 'codeine diary' in the magazine harper's in the early '90s when i was an undergrad and working as a night janitor. by the time i hit my twenties i knew i wanted to be a poet. but i'd yet to meet poets my own age. all the poets that i read in the journals of the time seemed to be born in the 1920s and discovering andrews was like a tall glass of cool water after a long trek in the desert.

andrews was a hemophiliac and passed away at a very, very, very early age. i have read all but his collected poems. he even wrote poems as film scripts that influenced my own thinking of poetry and the movies. andrews wrote from the position of gratitude; a stance easily forgotten in our irony-rich age. he was a happy poet. i've no idea if he was a happy man, and his poetry is not without confusion and despair, but for the most part he was, as i read him, a poet so delighted in the mysteries of being that it is difficult not to share in his delight.

it was the right book for me to pick up at the right time. all by chance, not providence, but a gracious luck. i've no idea if andrews also influenced my own thinking of randomness and luck, i think auden also held some sway. however, i've been reading this poet for now two decades, which in my lifespan accounts for a significant amount of time. at this stage in my life i've reduced my responses to things that lie in either two poles: 1) happy, which is obviously a good, and 2) not happy, which speaks for itself. happiness is i think it's own reward. to be happy does not mean the end of depression or despair. to be happy means to know that this one life is a gift. what one does with this one life is all that matters. there is no fame, no immortality, no such thing as self-importance. if you are a creative person all you can ask for is that maybe some other persons might take pleasure and maybe even nourishment from your work. that's all. and by that measure andrews makes me happy.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

from codeine diary [little, brown & co., 1998]

"Chance is myself," said Artaud. A troubling notion, and yet what could be more obvious? We know from physicists that chance is at work in the foundation of the atom. We know, too, of course, that we are constructed of atoms. But an abyss lies between our understanding of matter's mercurial hidden life and the affirmation that our lives are irradiated through and through by randomness.

--tom andrews [1961-2001]

Friday, May 22, 2009

dig thru this

the newest galatea resurrects is live and kicking serious ass. this most excellent review zine is back, large, and stomping thru the cityscape of contemporary poetry like godzilla awoken from a long slumber and tearing thru tokyo. watch out. and read up. you'll find many delights. i have pieces in it which you can find by clicking here and there.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

state of obsession

geof huth's vispo rumination 44 can also work i think for any person's obsession -- obsession that turns into acts of love. as much as i'm in love with images i really dig texts, words, print. whether it be on the screen or on the page. you know when you're in love with poetry when the look, its shapeliness, of a poem can make you weak at the knees. first thing my eyes gravitate toward on dvd box art are the font and shape of the title of the film. my life is in language. a life lived in love with words. sex, death and text. booya.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

blood is thin

wet from the wound
life should be
like a line of poetry
splashed w/ blood
[mishima dir. by paul schrader]
the echo is a lie
is not
a place for your mouth
the camera creates our seating
at the table
behold the image
la fille walks out
of the frame
in search of tools
for her madame
that grin
blood is thin
the camera creates
the stations of our seating
la fille
skin blurs
the frame

Monday, May 18, 2009

teenage lobotomy

on saturday night the conversation steered toward guilty pleasures. the kind of shit that we know are in fact shit but like them anyway. i have them, these guilty pleasures, and i know you do too. for me my guilty pleasures don't involve food, sex, movies, or books. nope, i'm pretty open about all of that. for me guilty pleasures are certain kinds of music. perhaps they aren't so guilty after all, i mean, i love contradictions and to hear of say some metalhead who also loves cat stevens is, i think, quite bracing.

at any rate, a few nights ago i was feeling rather self-destructive so i fired up the laptop and navigated toward youtube to find a video of a song that i remembered from the late '80s when hair metal bands dominated mtv. i don't know. sometimes one gets into a mood where all you want to feel is pain. or if not pain, then acute annoyance. the song i looked for but didn't find the video is 'wait' by a band called white lion. there was some live vids of the band playing the song, but i wanted the video. no luck.

however, the singer of white lion in one performance of the song went on a rant about how the '80s was a time of fetes and revelry and that bands that ousted hair bands from the airwaves, such as nirvana and pearl jam, were earnest, stolid and way too serious to let their hair down and party. all the fun i guess was used up by the hair bands because they all, or so i surmised from the singer's tone, partied like it was 1999.

i came of age in the '80s and let me tell you with nancy reagan telling teenagers to just say no to drugs, the meece commission investigating pornography for oh i don't know what - maybe smut? the iran-contra hearings, reaganomics, trickle-down theory, the savings and loans being bailed out of their own hubris with billions of taxpayer dollars, and crap on the radio like white lion, it sure didn't feel like a party.

mercy mercy me. back to my guilty pleasure. sometimes i just got to rock the house. i'm not a fan of limp bizkit but man this live performance of 'break stuff' gets the adrenal gland all juiced up. it's idiotic and also fun. like a teenage lobotomy. that's just how i roll.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

the wrestler [2008]

i'm on record as being a huge fan of mickey rourke. huuuuuge. i came to this movie expecting to love it all to hell. the film is a bang-up job and rourke is very, very good in the movie. not knowing the director, darren aronofsky, previous work i wasn't quite sure what to expect. the movie is grittily photographed and aronofsky has a near-fetish for the details of damaged human skin. every tattoo, each cut and spots of blood, bruises and scars are nearly hymned to the heavens. the wrestling bouts are brutal, roman fetes of violence, i nearly expected lions to be thrown into the ring.

still, even if the direction is solid while rourke did a memorable job of portraying a seriously fucked up soul who tries to make things right but simply is unable to do so, the story itself is predictable. the hand-held camera work i think behaved like a structural device which framed randy 'the ram's' life inside and outside the ring so that even on the job working as a clerk at a grocery store becomes a performance just like inside the squared circle of a wrestling match.

but even so, the ending was telegraphed at the second reel. and rourke, brilliant actor that he is, was not the scene stealer. that honor goes to marisa tomei who is near miraculous as the ram's counterpoint in despair. tomei's stripper character, pam - stage name, cassidy - is also aging in a field that prizes youth and novelty. hers is a tour de force performance and when pam softens to the advances of randy i was utterly transported by the complexities of her character.

tomei is what made the movie for me. she is a great actor. the wrestler is a very good film but lacks i don't know what. i'm happy to see rourke get serious attention again. he is a first-rate talent. but perhaps this wasn't his movie to show his chops again. maybe i should lay the blame on the director, but really, the conclusion of the movie was, even if the most obvious, necessary. sometimes fuck ups remain fucked up.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

notes from the road

i'm one fucking happy movie geek. the long-delayed film version of cormac mccarthy's novel the road is officially slated to open this fall, 10/16/09, the same day the spike jonze version of maurice sendak's beloved children's' book where the wild things are opens. i rarely get amped for new flicks, not because i think most new films are shit, but because all films soon find their way to dvd. but there are a few movies that i simply get all goose-pimply about and can't hardly wait to see.

so october 16, 2009 will be like christmas come early. i've no idea how the film version of sendak's book will turn out but according to some lucky bastard at esquire magazine who has already seen the road and has written a piece on why he thinks it is the best film of 2009. his only complaint are the trailers that were cut to sell the movie. the trailers begin with some stock footage of cataclysmic events and a newscast about an impending natural disaster. this sets up an expectation of a kind of post-apocalyptic blockbuster where the audience will expect huge set pieces catering to our collective desire to see shit get blowed up on the big screen and a performance by the principals of a kind of bruce willis a la die hard movies bravado and cockiness. all of which are absent from the book. the genius of mccarthy is that he shows us a dead world as it is with no explanation on how it got that way thus allowing a greater empathy with the struggles of the father and son. the mysteries of ontology and teleology played on a small scale of a great human love. and according to the critic who already seen the film the teaser trailer does a disservice to the haunting gorgeousness of the movie. for the movie is most definitely not a post-apocalyptic action-adventure via the mad max franchise. this is a great love story set at the end of our tenure on earth.

i'm one happy film geek, indeed, because tonight i fire up the laptop and find the teaser trailer was just released today. follow this link here to watch it and you can see that the esquire critic was absolutely correct in his assessment of the trailer. be that as it may, the film stars viggo mortensen as the man and possesses a killer score by nick cave. i'm ready to be blown away.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009



spring / procrastinator's / haiku

      hearing the crow cack
                    i think to wait
                              then wait

Sunday, May 10, 2009

5 band names that could be real

1) we will bore you to tears
2) the harry mole
3) slobberchops
4) puss sputtering
5) drool so good

Saturday, May 09, 2009


keckler's horror story of wearing cologne that smells like catpiss reminds me of a similar tale of woe

when i was a wee undergrad i had this killer sweater that i wore all the time

the damned sweater was so loved it was ripped up and full of holes

that's right the garment was holy

i also used to wear a red hot chili peppers baseball cap until it also worn down to nothing and then simply disappeared

i think maybe anna threw it away because she hated that cap

but back to my sweater story

one cold winter morning i was rushing to class and pulled my sweater out of the closet and bundled up as i headed out the door

in class i began to smell some serious catpiss stank and i wondered who or what the hell reeked to high heaven

then i shifted in my seat which brought my shoulders up thus bringing my sweater closer to my nose

i smelled that stank


and to my horror discovered

it was coming from me

there i was trapped for the duration of the lecture with a sweater that reeked of cat urine

the smell was so sharp it could cut off limbs

our cat ernie k ernst as a kitten had the nasty habit of spraying everywhere and obviously had hit the closet

i think that happened when we lived in our second apartment

ernie's still with us

the k in his name stands for killer

this is a live vid of one of my most favorite songs on the planet performed by sonic youth

you know how every couple considers a few songs their songs well '100%' is one of our songs

and i thought of the song last night as i read that sonic youth will be at the fox theater in oakland in august

the song was on a mixed tape i made way back when and that we listened to constantly

that tape was so loved that the tape snapped after years of play

Friday, May 08, 2009

keep on rocking the free world

sometimes you know the days dovetail into nights and suddenly you look around and wonder where does the time go

well i think it is better to have more on yr plate than not but oh man

the past coupla nights i fell asleep with a book across my chest and wondering where the hell i am and what time it is

the dreams blur until they are just a faint smudge of light

* * *

did you see this piece by gina myers about what a [post]feminist[poet] looks like

and these poems by lars palm

* * *

tomorrow night anna and i head to oakland to the fox theater to see the shins

and maybe hit up a bookstore or two

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

on 1st looking into roth's hostel ii

pity the deadman no more for i am he scratching my head in wonder at what the fuck the deal is

big money i suppose but were it just for the dinero only what does it matter

e.g. this chick walks into a trap and we know whats in store for the young lady

seriously it would be funny if it wasnt so obvious a setup

i could see my shrink and ask whats wrong with me for watching

but i think i know the answer

                   young man young man i tell you no lies
                   fairies wear boots & you gotta believe me
                   i saw it i saw it with my own two eyes

Monday, May 04, 2009


stake to the the scent of lavender & honey

that summer of love un

done & w/ out a black

out it could be that

hippiedom is wired w/

in my dna i'm go

ing to hell

Sunday, May 03, 2009

trip to london

without anything else pressing for today anna suggested a quick road trip. our destination: placerville, aka old hangtown, in the historic fields of california gold. the town is about 45 miles or so east of sac and is also on the way toward lake tahoe. placerville is also, i shit you not, the hometown of thomas kincaide, the self-styled 'painter of light', and should i make a comparison of u.s. art to food then kincaide would be a twinkie.

it's been raining all weekend. and as we headed into the hills the downpour got heavier. it's not unusal for it to rain in may but every year we tend to forget that fact. still, it was warm and by the time we parked the car on main st the rain let up and finally stopped completely giving us an overcast but beautiful day.

what can i say. our neck of california is filled with historic gold rush towns. placerville got its nickname, old hangtown, because locals were quick back in the gold rush era to summarily execute folks from an old tree. that tree's long been cut down but there is a marker attached to the building where it once stood.

even more exciting is a little used bookstore located on main st called the bookery. a maze of shelves and stacks of books i went in and found i could lose myself within its midst for hrs. instead, since we have an energetic 4-year-old i confined myself to the poetry section and left with two books, storm over hackensack by august kleinzahler, and dreaming close by by rick london.

it was the london that got me once i picked up the book. a quick search on the web tonight revealed that london is a sf based poet. the book i bought today was published by o books in 1986 and was designed partly by leslie scalapino. i read it this evening and the collection made me happy. a system of fragments collected as suites london is an experimental writer who appears unafraid of lyricism. the texts are minimal in scope yet large in meaning. i need to give this book several more reads to really get into it. but like a good film its lines and images are now looped in my noggin. i'll have to find more of london's work. i'll also need to perhaps write a bit more fully about this book after another reading. but for now i'll end by stating again that london's texts make me happy. in my estimation there is no higher measure.

Friday, May 01, 2009

concentrate night

listening to 'what's inside a girl'
by the cramps


come forth now the rain