Tuesday, June 30, 2009

All the Messiahs - Mud Luscious (5 new poems)

A handful of my "All the Messiahs" poems are now up at J.A. Tyler's "Mud Luscious"

I've just read through the issue and there are lots of really interesting pieces (poems and short fiction).

Here are some bits and pieces that spiked my brain

from "Brother" by Mike Meginnis

I am not like the moon, I am like a beach. The tide is out. There are shelled creatures and baby turtle corpses and dead jellyfish scattered around him in the gray sand of me. My organs I guess. He is dead on the beach, or sleeping. He is waiting for the tide. There is nothing more lonely than to have a person inside you.

from Killer Time by Pecho Kanev

I have problems with my head
I have problems with the world
I have problems with all these empty bottles
of Beck’s all around me
I have problems with my lonely nights
with my lonely erections-
useless and trivial

from The Final Feast by Ethel Rohan

At the end of the beginning of love lies the origin of man’s inferior spirit, his shriveled heart, violent longing. I know it. I know it and don’t think I can contain the conviction of it inside my skin. No, the truth of the end of the beginning of love must get outside me in the same way that babies must get outside their mothers.

from We Grew Pianos by Russell Thorburn

Instead of gardening
we played the piano side by side,

following as the sun hung there
on our bare heads

and, last, but not least :)

from Intersect by Tia Prouhet

So we leave each other now,
jerk ing and snap ing
our way to other beds
full of flesh and hands
that will teach us
how to curl.

to check it all out go here

Friday, June 26, 2009

I Can't Stop Eating!

In December 1998, he had a gastric bypass. By June of the following year, he had lost a hundred pounds.

Then, as he put it, "I started eating again." Pizzas. Boxes of sugar cookies. Packages of donuts. He found it hard to say how, exactly. His stomach was still tiny and admitted only a small amount of food at a time, and he experienced the severe nausea and pain that gastric-bypass patients get whenever they eat sweet or rich things. Yet his drive was stronger than ever. "I'd eat right through the pain-- even to the point of throwing up," he told me. "If I threw up, it was just room for more. I would eat straight through the day." He did not pass a waking hour without eating something. "I'd just shut the bedroom door. The kids would be screaming. The babes would be crying. My wife would be at work. And I would be eating." His weight returned to four hundred and fifty pounds, and then more. The surgery had failed and his life had been shrunk t the needs of pure appetite.

The above's an excerpt from Atul Gawande's book of essays, "Complications: A Surgeon's Note on an Imperfect Science."

Gawande's a decent writer but this book can be very boring. And the writing's often just Cheesy and clunky (especially in his ready-to-wear descriptions of people, towns and houses). But passages like the above made it well worth reading.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

In Memoriam In Memoriam In Memoriam Ad Nauseam Fcking In Memoriam

Am I the only one who's fcking sick and tired of the phrase "In Memoriam" ??

I mean come on it's like trying to build a greek (or roman, i guess) temple around your heart. Like wearing a lion's oracle-wig and placing a bunch of feathers in your ass. (maybe?) Mercury, Mercury, Mercury

Why can't our grief or respect be in english? Simple, plain, here-and-now english.

I'm tired of death. O, God, I'm tired. But I'm also tired of billions of chickens blowing there tears through a cheap and cheesy iron-latin whistle.

From generation to generation to generation.

Like cathedrals.

Or baseball.

A kind of garlic. Or praying for rain.

A rotten old hag. Garlic dried-up and rotting between her legs. She pokes her head over the railing. Her tits are sour, tongue a big fat ball of bloody need. Her brain a thorn of blood. A dead swollen thorn all disfigured nondescript and boring and opening its mouth (scarred and impotent) in grief's hard piss. Like a fcking dog. But without the honesty.

I need a drink. O, Christ, I quit drinking. Christ!!!!!!!!!!

Kissing Turtles - Capturing and Manufacturing Energy - First Book Questions

Keith Montesano just interviewed me re Holy Land for his First Book Interviews series which is starting back up after a hiatus.

among other things I talk about

---My father's Bar Mitzvah Bible
---Star Trek
---Violence and Tenderness (yawn)
---The Shape of a Storm
---Ego-Management (rejection sucks)
---"Amping" things up
---dream dream dream dream dream dream dream


and, o, yeah, I talk about my first book, Holy Land

check it out here

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Vice, Horror and Ecstasy, etc - New Action, Yes

New Action, Yes is live

a note from the editors:

Please visit the new issue of Action, Yes

"Dances of Vice, Horror and Ecstasy": A special section devoted to the poetry and art of the scandalous cabarets performed by Anita Berber and Sebastian Droste in Weimar Germany.

Abstract comics!(Including a preview of Andrei Molotiu's upcoming anthology from Fantagraphics Books.)

"Always/Only/A/Plenum": Tim Wood's essay on Robert Grenier and Grenier's response.

Translation of writers Agrafiotis, Dragincescu, Froger, Lamat,
Rubinstein, Sacré.

Per Bäckström's essay " "Crush the Assholetters Between the Teeth": Språkgrotesk in Henri Michaux and Gunnar Ekelöf."

"Dead Can Dance," Geoffrey Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle's ruminations on Decadence.

As well as poetry, visual poetry, collages and prose from Downing,
Lundwall, Yankelevich, Schapira and others.

I'm heading over to check it out now

Monday, June 22, 2009

Innocence and Experience - Dreams and the Telling Thereof

I enjoyed Adam Fieled's post about Dreams in which he looks at poems by Max Jacob (French Prose poet and friend of Picasso writing mostly between the wars) and Anne Boyer.

((--Adam's post caught my attention because dreams and how you tell them (or make them) are really on my mind right now. I'm in the final revision stages of a chapbook entitled "Dreaming" which will release from Scantily Clad Press in the next month or two--))

Anyways, here are the two poems Adam's talking about:

Max Jacobs - 1914

Doesn't lightning look the same to a foreigner? Someone who was at my parents' home was commenting on the color of the sky. Was that lightning? It was a pink cloud moving toward us. How everything changed! My God! Can it be your reality is so vibrant? The family home is there: the chestnut trees at the window, the prefecture right up against the chestnut trees, and Mt. Frugy right up against the prefecture, only its summit visible. A voice called out "God!" And there was light in the darkness. A huge body hid most of the landscape. Was it Him? Or Job? He was poor; his pierced flesh was showing, thighs covered by a scrap of cloth: what tears O Lord! he descended...How? Then couples larger than life descended too. They came from the air encased, in Easter eggs: they laughed and the balcony of our family home was littered with black threads like gunpowder. We were frightened. The couples set themselves up in our house while we watched through a window. For they were evil. There were even black threads on the dining room table where my brothers were taking apart Lebel cartridges. Since then, I've been watched by the police.

Anne Boyers (untitled I guess)

Fairly clear the end of the world had come or the end of the world as we understood it had come or the end of the world of humans in a civilization had come and this end had come through some water-borne contagion or at least a backed-up broken-down water and sewage system.

Knowing all this, we went to a large clean building in the middle of a city for an ART SHOW. This building was a hotel or convention center and on the fifth floor or so a woman who may or may not have been Kiki Smith had organized the ART SHOW before it was clear that the world was at its end. Many people at the show were vacuous or self-absorbed or on drugs or whatever so that they did not know it was the end or did not pay the end much notice. Very pale, thin, and glamorous people who were part of the art installations strode in threes naked or half naked and the other half cloaked in fur. Even at the end of the world I was envious of their beauty and furs and paleness. And in one room, there showed an ART FILM. This film was about WHAT YOU COULD BUY to prove you had been at the ART SHOW.

At that time three backpackers entered the room with backpacks. These backpackers knew it was the end of the world: they had put all their things in backpacks and decided to take off, to travel, as it was the end of the world and staying put, i.e. STAYING AS NORMAL, would only mean the end. Other people noticed the backpackers and maybe started waking up to the seriousness of the event of the end of the world, and fearing a panic, my companions and I decided to leave the ART SHOW and take the elevator to the top of the building.

We stepped in the elevator. I started to worry the sewage-contagion problem would damage the power grid. Would we be stuck on the elevator for all of time? Would we die on the elevator we took to escape the ART SHOW? My companions tried to calm me, to tell me "It is too early in the process for the power to go out," but I could smell the stink and contagion, and asked to what purpose is going to the roof of the building of the ART SHOW.

I said- Shouldn't we be doing something other than going to the top of the building at the end of the world?

These dreams are certainly different. And the ways of telling them are different too. Adam claims that the Jacob poem has an "edge of innocence" while Boyers' has an "edge of experience."

(note: Boyers' poem, Fieled maintains, has "more gravitas" because it engages in satire, tackling "real-world issues directly." Okay. Sure. Why not?)

But, I'm not sure I understand exactly what Adam means by edges of innocence and experience. For me the difference in the poems seems to be a matter of detachment or immersion (inside the dream or outside of the dream - a matter of whether you're lost in the moment or not). And perhaps that's a kind of innocence and experience.

Let me clarify (thinking this through as I go I guess):

Jacob's writing embodies emotion. Is drenched with it. His speaker is feeling deeply. Is not watching himself. Is not detached.

Boyers' speaker is detached. Reports on her emotions like she's another person:

"I was envious of their beauty"....."and fearing a panic"...."and asked to what purpose...."

The words for the emotions are there (envy and fear) but the emotions are not really embodied in the writing. But with Jacobs they are. His speaker is lost in the dream. And lost in the telling of it. And the writing surges with that same sort of energy. Is charged with it.

Boyers' speaker is detached, it seems, inside the dream and outside of it. And so the telling, in her case, is flat. (and both these ways feel valid enough to me. I've dreamed flat. And I've dreamed surging. And, regardless, one can certainly invert the truth in the telling...)

Perhaps to be caught up (lost) in emotion is to be "innocent" and, conversely, to be detached and almost 3rd-person in the telling, is to be "experienced." If so then I guess Adam and I are kind of on the same page with Innocence and Experience.

Adam also says that "Jacob uses an edge of whimsy, that brings out a kind of comedy in the darkness." Again, Adam and I are kind of on the same page. Jacobs is often whimsical and comical. But just as much he is deadly serious. The comedy is a bit of veil or icing. So, I like that Adam said "a kind of comedy."

The Jacobs poem certainly does has something of the ridiculous or hysterical about it:

Our family was littered with black threads like gunpowder. We were frightened. The couples set themselves up in our house while we watched through a window. For they were evil. There were even black threads on the dining room table where my brothers were taking apart Lebel cartridges.

I'll end this post with some trite uncle-ish advice:

Writing poems about dreams (real or invented) is tricky.

Like anything, of course, it's all in the telling.

Actually it's not all in the telling. The dream needs to be interesting. Compelling. Blah, blah, blah.....

Everything's a new opportunity to lie.

Colbert - Muldoon

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Paul Muldoon
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorStephen Colbert in Iraq

I'll let this one speak for itself

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Why Artists Have Such Bad Taste in Music ? - Or How Billy Bob deceived me (dumbass!!--me that is)

I think it was Blake Butler who complained a while ago about writers having terrible taste in music. Of course he was referring to "most writers." Writers like me, of course. (Maybe he wrote this on his blog a while back or maybe he said this in a bar.)

At the moment, for example, I have a huge crush on The Boxmasters.

(And I didn't even know Billy Bob (W.R.) Thornton was the lead singer. This video, The Poor House, was starting to haunt me. And I was thinking "Man, this guy's got style." And I fantasized a life and past and mind for this guy who could look so suave on stage. And then it turns out this guy is an actor. An actor. An actor! Well, I feel used. But, still, the crush persists.)

One would think that writers with finely-tuned "ears" would naturally have good taste in music. Wrong. The writing ear is, evidently, completely unrelated to the ear that writes (and reads as a "writer.")

For the record I'm also a big Madonna fan. And I'm hot for Katy Perry. Spanish pumpkin divas like Shakira and Paulina Rubio. I also am "into" Crash Test Dummies, Enrique Iglesias, Fastball, The Go-Go's, The Killers, Johnny Cash, Big Country, blah, blah,.... no rhyme or reason except for my stupid music ear.

Note: while writing this post the power went out (3rd time in last week) so I dropped to the floor and gave my dogs' tummy rubs and though about how bad I felt when I met Jack Gilbert. His first books had impressed me greatly and then here was this little, lame man nothing at all like those poems (more like "Refusing Heaven," actually, which hadn't released at the time yet.)

Lying on the floor this blog post was going to make some great twists and turns. Then the lights came back on. I had to walk the dogs. It was still raining. The greatness evaporated. Blah, Blah.... and now I'm listening to "The Poor House" and ya know what I feel great. W.R.'s style (what isn't fake, stage, acted, anyways?) gushing through me like sunshine.....

And now I'm letting "Turn it Over" (Boxmasters again) fill me with a different angle of sunshine. This song sure has a lot of "one Headlight" to it... but hey who's counting.... It's past my bedtime..... My brother's an alpine chicken...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New Zealand!

Ross Brighton's chapbook "A Pelt, A Shrub, a Soil Sample" has just been released. Ross is a frequent contributor to this blog. And he's a New Zealander. Congrats, Ross.

For more info check out Ross's blog

In other news New Zealand have just been eliminated from the World Cricket 20-20 tournament. South Africa, however, are still in it.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Yukio Mishima's Breasts

Yukio Mishima is an acclaimed author. I read his "Thirst for Love" and though I thought some of it was a bit clumsy (especially the 2nd half) it was filled with great phrases, descriptions, psychological insights, etc, etc.

The entire flashback of the young wife nursing with strange relish her husband to his death is fascinating-- incredible, really. I highly recommend that flawed but compelling book.

"The Sound of Waves" is the 2nd Mishima novel I've read and it has none of that "Thirst for Love" brilliance. But, it's a simply and neatly told story. And interesting the way soap operas are. (Lately, I've been enjoying these sorts of books in my down time in the middle of the day. On the way and into sleep.)

But this is a post about Breasts!

And, so, here are some amusing breast-excerpts from "The Sound of Waves":

"Bending her head, she started slapping her breast with open hands. Beneath her sweater, which all but seemed to be concealing some firm supports, two gently swelling mounds were set to trembling ever so slightly by the brisk brushing of her hands.

Shinji stared in wonder. Struck by her hands, the breasts seemed more like two small, playful animals. The boy was deeply stirred by the resilient surface of their movement."

and, many pages later,

"two small, firm breasts turned their faces slightly away from each other, as though abashed, and lifted up two rose-colored buds."

and, many pages later,

"Shinji's mother was proud of the fact that her own breasts were still young and fresh, the most youthful among the married women of her age. As though they had never known the hunger of love or the pains of life, all summer long her breasts turned their faces toward the sun, deriving there, first-hand, their inexhaustible strength."

and, lastly,

"Between two small mounds that held on high their rose-colored buds there was a valley that, though darkly burned by the sun, still had not lost the delicacy, the smoothness, the veined coolness of skin-- a valley fragrant with thoughts of early spring."

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Million in Prizes - Justin Marks

I think I mentioned before that my next interview's going to be with Justin Marks re his just released debut book "A Million in Prizes." I've been wrapped up in my own work lately, but this is still first in line. And soon-ish, hopefully.

In the meantime, though, here's some news from Justin:

Hi All,

A few things to share:

1) I'll be reading with Julia Cohen and Heather Green this Saturday, June 13, 2009, 7:00pm at Pierre Menard Gallery, 10 Arrow Street, Cambridge, MA. Hope to see you there!

2) The first review of A Million in Prizes is now available here at Cold Front:

3) I was interviewed recently on Poetic Asides:

4) A Million in Prizes was included (along with many other fine poets) in Stephen Burt's essay, The New Thing, in the Boston Review:

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Shoot the Dog in its Face

The point of this post is (i think) that a reviewer, like any reader, comes with his or her own tastes and quirks of personality. But. But. But.

Last year Melinda Wilson reviewed my book, "Holy Land," on Cold Front Magazine , and it was, in general, a positive review.

But Melinda took issue with the violence towards animals (specifically, dogs):

Well, most suffering and violence is okay in this book. It makes its point. But when animals are used to make a point, I’m unimpressed. For instance, “People mean well. Then they grab your dog and beat him to death in front of you.” No matter how wronged one feels by life, by God, by people, leave the dogs out of it. Leave the bleeding to the humans, even the human children.

I appreciated Melinda's review. It was obvious that she'd read Holy Land carefully and thoughtfully. But this last part had me scratching my head. How can anything in poetry simply be off limits? Just be Taboo?

Melinda's other beef with Holy Land was the "narrator’s crude moments." The "surprising turns of bawdiness." And to make her point Melinda quotes the following:

“A rat climbed out of her cunt (or maybe her asshole).”

That too made me scratch my head. And I'm scratching it again now.

Anyways, for whatever it's worth here, in their entirety, are the two poems Melinda quotes from:

(The one with the crude moment)

We’d been out a few times and she’d promised this was going to be the night. So, I came out of the bathroom, ready but nervous, and she just lay there. A rat climbed out of her cunt (or maybe her asshole) (or maybe it’s just one hole), up her stomach, up her neck——and it grunted up her nose and became her brain. I can see this happening to every one of us, in front of our TVs, all across our country. She pulled me down, inside her, kissing me all the way. And I went blank (blanker than ever before) and marched into battle pissing.

(And the one I should have left the dog out of)

People mean well. Then they grab your dog and beat him to death in front of you. You’re listening to the news, and you find yourself ironing your daughter’s chest. Sewing up her cunt. This world comes down to you, and you pass it on.

And here's a poem that almost made it into Holy Land:

On my way downstairs I looked out the window and I saw a woman leaning down to pet her dog. She looked up at me, shot the dog in its face, and walked away. Now, I’m cleaning my navel. Pieces of lightning shoot through the trees like children on a bus. My first day at school I got in a fight. They called my mother. She came and undressed me. It’s one of my earliest memories: I’m on the sidewalk, my mother is touching me and the entire world is watching.

This poem originally appeared in The Mississippi Review and the reason it didn't make it into the final draft of Holy Land has nothing to do with violence to animals.

I love dogs. But what the hell's that got to do with the price of apples?

And the dog pictured above is my Pekingnese Chuy. But again what the hell's that go to do with the price of apples? (I used Chuy's picture here because he, as you can see, has lots of sex appeal. And that's why people read blogs.)

Anyways, I just read Melinda's review (again on Cold Front) of Star in the Eye by James Shea. (Fence Books).

Melinda seems also to have enjoyed this book. But, again, she takes issue with the portrayal of violence towards animals (dogs):

the speaker shoots a dog multiple times and his uncle “puts his barrel / into the wounds and fires.” The dog’s head “halves open.” I will say it again. Leave the dogs out of it.

Again: a reviewer, like any reader, comes with his or her own tastes and quirks of personality. But. But. But.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Armada (kind of)

And suddenly all the boats came in close. Pointed right at us. The decks were packed. Sailors in white. And orange life vests. (I wondered if they were still giving away cake. Last night it was mayhem. Absolute fucking mayhem). And then they turned around and sailed away. We felt so lonely. Like a pregnant woman abandoned just before the baby comes. And, then, we noticed, the boats were scattered. (Did I exhale?) They've no idea where they're going. There are so many ways. Needles into veins.