Saturday, April 30, 2016


what does it mean when i dream about fellow writers reading their books and filling up the margins with notes & i have not inked a scratch within the covers of any book since i was in school

Friday, April 29, 2016

hippy-ish dialects

what eco
when what flies
is the will to live
+ the will to die
as rene char reminds us
[i'm paraphrasing]
death in life is repugnant
death in death 
is nothing
for that which seeks
for those who see
the humming bird
framed by the kitchen window
is just a bird alive


Thursday, April 28, 2016

watching the bottle green humming bird at the feeder
be natural                                              & ordinary

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


each time i go some
where i try to peer into houses
to see what they're watching on TV
every time i go some
where i head to the grocery
store to see how they buy their food
each time i go some
where i head to the local mall
to find what i've been missing
of ordinary life
& my travels are never
really very far
i want to know
how people muster the will
to put on clothes in the morning
shave eat breakfast
& go to work or school
i want to know how
people show courage
by the fact of living
in a crazy world
i've stubbed my toes
in exotic locales
i got drunk
in a stockholm bar
& once i felt the need to pee
so strong in the streets of london
i was going to burst

Monday, April 25, 2016

i have long held an earthy affection for the oz poet les murray.  luckily youtube is awash in many les murray readings.  but i like the above video for its brevity even as the filmmakers exhibit murray's vitality.  then again perhaps i like murray not just for his writing but because we both come from working-class stock, possess ordinary names, and live by the word.  in any case, murray is both a traditionalist poet and a poet who doesn't seem to give a wide fuck what people think of him.  les murray is the fonzi of poetry.  he's cool.   

Sunday, April 24, 2016

this is the band that i am fucking missing tonight!!!

i have three favorite bands, you can write them on my tombstone, social distortion, slowdive and lush.  i've seen social d. a few times in my nearly 50 years on this clam shell.  slowdive reformed a couple years ago and did the summer festival circuit in 2014.  when i found out they were set to play the warfield in s.f. in the fall i was sure the hell not going to miss them.  i didn't.  b. and i had a great time at the show.

lush, who completes this holy trinity for me, reformed late last year.  anna heard their newly released single a couple months ago i flipped.  lush broke up in 1996, 20 freakin' years ago, after the death of their drummer chris acland.  interviews with their singer, miki berenyi, over these long years indicated that reforming lush was way outside consideration.

well, fuck me, because when anna told me about their reformation i hit the web.  i thought they would do a tour schedule similar to slowdive, hit the summer festivals then tour the u.s. in the fall.  nope, they are doing both.  i learned they were scheduled to play the warfield in s.f. on sunday, 4/17/16.  i immediately purchased tickets.  i made arrangements, got time off work, i was ready to go.  that was last sunday.

here's the thing.  lush announced they were suffering visa issues.  anna got the email [she bought the tix for me] late friday afternoon.  the band postponed both their shows at the coachella music festival on saturday, and their show at the warfield to this weekend.  lush is playing at the warfield tonight.  for myriad reasons i wasn't able to make it to s.f. tonight.  

i was - i am -- in the immortal phrase used by kevin kline in the film a fish called wanda [1988] DISAPPOINTED!

rather than rant about visa issues, the universe and the fact that i could not see them tonight, i'll just say the proof put to the phrase: you are never to old to rock.  for the band members of lush are my age, i'll be 49 next in a little over a month.  despite the signals of aging like getting fatigued more easily, or getting grey hair, or my knees giving out after years of walking to and from work, the mind thinks of itself as ageless.  and in a way we are ageless even as we age.  not that rock&roll can cancel the wear and tear of age but it does, like all art, provide a proof that life is meant to be lived at the first intensity, no matter your age.  we only have this one life to rock.  make it count.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

in honor of the purple one i'm gonna party like it's 1999

r.i.p. prince

nothing compares 2 u

Sunday, April 17, 2016

saturday night: a poetics

last night i found myself adrift on youtube after falling asleep watching the band the silversun pickups perform live at coachella music festival.  i find the band a little boring.  hence my sleeping thru their set.  but perhaps it is mere age because after a sunday spent doing household things i watched a TED talk given by a man who thinks we will live on mars by 2027.  i fell asleep to that too.  seriously, living on fucking mars!?  not that we can't not do it but the hubris of our species who believe we must reach out beyond the stars and populate the universe is galling.  the universe doesn't need us.  it doesn't even know we are here on earth.

anyway, i woke up last night and found myself wide awake.  i typed james dickey in the search bar and watched that wonderful clip of dickey playing the sheriff at the end of the film deliverance [1972].  dickey was enamored of technology.  i read somewhere dickey mused aloud if there had been audio and visual of keats or coleridge or rimbaud what a boon that would be.  i think dickey would have probably embraced the internet and youtube too.  so anyway that video led me to others including a clip of dickey together with robert lowell.  i'd been thinking of lowell a couple days ago.  nothing deep.  but that lowell had been a very early love of mine.  i recall back in the late 1980s i spent a lovely afternoon in the haight in s.f. while my then girlfriend visited her girlfriend.  they were doing some major catch up and i wanted to explore the city.  while they visited i took off in search of everything.

i found a bookstore, a rather large one, i think it was called booksmith, with a large poetry section.  i was still learning to read poetry.  i gobbled up everything i could by berryman, lowell, hart crane and dylan thomas.  so when i found a robert lowell biography in hardcover for a pittance i snatched it up.  i had a lovely afternoon in the haight -- the neighborhood was so post-hippie and wonderfully scrungy -- secure in my purchase of a good book.  i discovered charles olson in the bio too.  and gregory corso. yes, both poets make an appearance in the life of robert lowell.  poets who seem antithetical to each other share in the common art of poetry.  in my mind, then and now, there are no divisions or hierarchies in poetry.  we are all brothers and sisters in the art.

so when i have friends who are post-beat, l=a=n=g=u=a=g=e, confessional, traditional rhyme and meter, street, small press and not so small press, etc. etc. i am in no distress by diversity.  i call myself an alt-lyric poet because the phrase is a catch-all for a diversified poetics.  i take my reading and writing seriously.  i take my living seriously too.  life and poetry are too large to be so narrowly divided.

so after reading a bit of lowell this morning while sitting on the john i thought of the wonderful poet reginald shepherd who was -- is -- a brilliant prose writer as well.  in shepherd we find a poetics that terms the traditional and the experimental into a profound experience he called lyric postmodernisms, the title of an anthology of poetry he edited.  shepherd tendered the tradition of poetry to encompass the whole of life and experiment.  as i read reginald shepherd's poetics took the best of everything poetry could supply.

i could not fall asleep reading and watching dickey, lowell and shepherd.  i was up late, real late.  tho my saturday night extended to early sunday morning i was half dead from exhaustion but was also so alive with poetry.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

inversion layer

sky falls up & then down
sets up a shell corporation
on a wind-swept isle

struggles & disappoints
all levels of inequality
on a shrug of so what

[2nd draft]

Friday, April 15, 2016

inversion layer

serious sky falls up then down
sets up on all fours
for a shell corporation
on a wind-swept isle
& struggles & disappoints
levels of inequality
to a shrug of so what

Thursday, April 14, 2016

centurion [2010]

being a fan of director neil marshall's previous films i couldn't wait to see this pic when it was released.  much to my chagrin that wait extended to nearly 6 years.  i blame it on time itself.  time is an odd dimension.  it seems to get faster the older we become.  for example, a couple mornings ago i picked up a chapbook by one of my favorite poets.  i was thinking the chap was published only so long ago.  i was shocked to see it was published in 2012.  what seems brand new to me is 4 years old.

needless to say, i finally saw this period roman picture.  it's not a peplum but marshall is a genre movie freak so i'm sure a bit of the old sword-and-sandal cinema of the 20th century was on his mind when he made this movie.  the film stars michael fassbender as a roman soldier whose garrison is overrun by the picts in scotland.  fassbender joins up with the IX legion where legend tells the tale of the missing 3000 strong legion.  some say they were massacred by the picts.  others say they disbursed into germany.  in this story they are massacred.  fassbender and a few other romans fight for their lives behind enemy lines.

it's a good action movie.  the set pieces are blitzkrieg crazy.  fassbender and co. are formidable foes for the picts.  as for the picts they are led by the warrior, etain, played with relish by olga kurylenko.  she is a tracker too and never lets the romans rest for a moment.

here's the thing.  i think i was supposed to root for the romans who were exhausted, starving and hunted.  but etain was a woman who survived atrocities afflicted by the romans.  her father was murdered.  her mother was raped to the point she begged for death.  etain was raped then had her tongue cut out.  she, i think, understandably, wants to kill all the invading romans.

i was rooting for etain all the way.  but this was not her movie.  marshall plays loose with an ancient story.  he's a very talented filmmaker who found what seemed like an underdog story and built an exciting, bloody narrative around it.  still, as i watched the movie i couldn't help think upon all the killing onscreen.  this is your one life and you want to spend it by killing and dying?  to what end?

we can ask that question now.  for we haven't changed at all in several thousand years.  we kill and die for all sorts of dumb-ass reasons, like the perpetuation of empire.  i'm reminded of a poem i read this morning by the late norwegian poet olav h. hauge that ends this way:

     There's so much to think about here in this world,
     one life's not enough.
     After work you can roast pork
     and read Chinese poetry.
     Old Laertes clears brambles
     and hoes around his fig trees,
     and let the heroes battle it out at Troy.

this is my attitude anyway.  i fear i've gone afield.  this is a fine action/adventure pic.  i can't wait for neil marshall to make another movie.  


Sunday, April 10, 2016

underworld: evolution [2006]

this pic picks up right after the events of the first movie, underworld [2003], left off.  now we have selene and michael on the run from vampire elder marcus who is none-too-happy for all sorts of reasons.  marcus wants selene dead.  i don't think he gives two shits for the vampire-lycan hybrid michael.  seriously, i couldn't find a story within this story at all.  we do get to see michael and selene deepen their bond by having sex, a long, languid sex scene that is as tasteful as the law allows.  the esteemed sir derek jacobi plays the father of marcus, one of the eldest of elders in the clan of immortals.  jacobi is a good guy and helps make selene a hybrid herself.  don't worry, i didn't give too much away.  the writing, at least the dialogue, is a bit better.  the action sequences directed by len wiseman are good.  but the movie is lacking the pure bad-assery displayed in the earlier film by kate beckinsale.  she can still kick serious booty but now relies upon the help of michael and others.  which i don't get.  for selene is an awesome presence who you don't cross or wrong.  not if you want to stay breathing.  but i do get it.  these are b-movies for our young century.  when nick saw what i was watching on TV he asked me if this is another of those vampire films.  i said, yes.  is it good, nick asked.  no, i said.  then why watch it?  because, i replied, sometimes watching a bad movie can be a pleasurable thing in and of itself.  in this world of uncertainty, pain, humiliations, socio-economic change, and potential climate upheavels, the pleasure of trash culture is reason enough.  i am now a fan of selene.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

watching the wizard of oz [1939] on TCM on a rainy saturday afternoon

absolute magic

Friday, April 08, 2016

colors [1988]

this was the rage in the late '80s, gangsta rap, violent city streets, gangbangin' til you die from a bullet in the head.  ice-t even had a hit song from this movie, remember?  i sure as shit do.  robert duvall is a veteran cop with the l.a. p.d partnered with a brash young rookie played by sean penn.  they clash as they navigate the gang-infested city.

i'd forgotten this flick was directed by dennis hopper.  the direction is sort of, um, slow.  in fact, hopper's vision is pretty flat.  the action sequences are okay.  and they are small parts played by all kinds of people you'd still recognize today.  oh, the soundtrack is that shiny plastic synth beat quite common in movies from the 1980s.

i ask myself is this movie good?  hopper achieves a gritty gravitas at the end as the story arced toward tragedy.  yet i can't help but scoff at solemnity of the filmmaker.  because, on balance, this is an exploitation movie capitalizing on society's fear of black and brown gangsters who, in this universe, seem to be everywhere.  no where to hide or avoid.

l.a. is a pretty gritty place.  it is also an extraordinary city, and the people who live and work there are like people everywhere.  good, bad, outstanding, ordinary and so on.  more so and more complicated than this pablum.

and yet here's the thing.  i remember reading an essay by the late poet larry levis about a visit made by the polish poet zbigniew herbert to l.a.  levis was tasked to chauffeur herbert hither and yon and provide companionship for the visiting poet as he made his rounds here and there.  while on the famously choked freeways of l.a. levis asked herbert what he thought of the city.  herbert replied, burn it.

pretty harsh summation by a great 20th century poet on a remarkable u.s. city.  as for this movie it would have been better to have written a script about the complications made by gang life, the hows and whys of joining a gang, and the necessities, hows and whys of fighting those gangs by law enforcement and shoot that movie.  sometimes movies are life and sometimes they are reflections of life.  this flick is a reflection of a reflection.  entertaining in parts, excruciatingly bad in others.  an interesting failure.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

quote unquote

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

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

 --frank kermode ['the man in the back row has a question vi'; paris review, spring 2000]

Sunday, April 03, 2016

april is the cruelest month, so sez t.[erribly s.[exy] eliot.  i don't agree but then again i do dare to eat a peach.  and apples.  and pears.  and bananas.  oh yes, me loves some bananas.  i worry that climate change will kill off my beloved breakfast fruit very soon but until they are rendered extinct i have a clutch of bananas every morning because they are, in a word, delicious.  april is also national poetry month.  yep, again.  every year we remind ourselves of the necessity of poetry.  in april, of course, because eliot reminds us to do so.  poets don't need to be reminded for, we hope, to live in poetry everyday until we can't.  i just watched the movie the big short [2015] which is about the lead-up to the economic meltdown of 2008.  the flick begins with the an epigraph

       Overheard at a Washington, D.C. bar: "Truth is like poetry. And most people fucking hate poetry." 

it's a pretty good movie but the epigraph sounds like it was made up to have something profound and vulgar at the start of a film about exotic financial products that knock the shit out of the world economy.   besides, give me a fucking break.  do you drink beer?  coffee?  do you remember your first sip of either?  if you say that you found coffee and beer delicious on that first try i call bullshit.  you develop a taste for them and then you become a connoisseurtry a little poetry.  you may not like it at first but keep tasting and you will find poetry can help build you a life.

but it ain't my job to preach the word.  much.  in the meantime do check out the annual tattooed poets feature at the estimable blog tattoosday

and keep rocking the freakin' free world brothers and sisters.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

the late great philosopher george carlin on the anthropocene

Friday, April 01, 2016

an old rocker on friday night

a 1980s song* on the store's p.a. the young man making sandwiches says i love this song i concur it is a good song one i know well can you name the band i ask he says no were you a rocker i say i was worse when i pay for the food and start walking out the door the young man calls after me can you name the band i answer yes and i do

just down the breezeway the young woman making burritos is singing along to a 1980s song# she says i love this song it's one of my favorites i concur it is a good song one i know well can you name the band i ask she says no were you a rocker i say i was worse when i pay for the food she calls after me can you name the band i answer yes and i do

*'take on me' by a-ha
#'eyes of a stranger' by the payolas