Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Larry Rivers History

Larry Rivers History LessonIn spite of everythingthat's hard and coveredin cigarette burnsThere's not a ghostof a chance thatthis exact world hasbeen here beforeI entered the museumto stare at statuesand rooms full of soaked canvas,Washington crosses the Delawareas though posing fora glossy magazine ad for whiskey or fabulous airlines,Manhattan is nestled inthe forests aroundGreat Lakes country,Those who fire firelong riflessee only the bloodtheir red coatsincite in the eyesof those whose farmsthey burn on sketchy grounds,History and advertisingoverlay each otherand leave their tracesas rough drawings wrestling for control of the wrist that holds the pencil,The world in outline,fading reds and bluesdrifting out of the lines of what the eyesees in one viewing,the easiest dimensionThat shimmers, blurs,stutters on viewing,repeats itself endlesslyalong with so many deathsand births that crowd thecalendar days,Damn I wouldwalk a mile for many a Cameleven thoughI smoked my last oneten years agothis fall.



I am sleeping
while I make the
eggs the way an army likes them,
guys with guns
and armor
who came by last night,
looking for a party,
finding religion instead,
the only thing to
do when there are no women
in the house and no war to
fight except a yawn
and some obscure itch
at the scalp line,
an army of scared rabbits,
a  receding hare line,
a joke the eggs me on
snoring as I flip
the eggs, scrambled ,
like an alphabet soup,
onto plates, snoring
and sawing logs with nostrils
flared like pants on a ballroom dance floor,
an army praying for women, just some one to pick a fight with,
I find myself chewing my tongue, head against the pillow, awake in the light that comes from the bathroom , there is water running, the sheets are wet with sweat and drool,
I see your mouth glisten with  lipstick,
your dress hangs on you
so right and precise as it molds itself lovingly over your breasts and
hips that it hurts me to say goodbye again, I know what you will say
when  you see me watching,
“You’re still asleep, friend, go back to the
other dream,
an  army waits for you
that could  use your knowledge about
things to do
when everything is done”,
so I close my eyes, a tail of your dress
whipping around a corner, through a door ,
and  there are dirty dishes,
guns and armor all over the carpet, tired men
with out wives or girlfriends
to love them
mediating on uniforms and regulations  in an age
when war is only dreamed of
in philosophy,
this world
fades, the shadow
at the end of each street
I  think I can enter into passing by
in cars and buses,
doors and windows looking onto other dreams
of armies naked in their
lack of  dreams, a religion of standing around,
waiting for a whisper,
this dream before the next one,
a pillow between our worlds.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Poem during the eleven o'clock news

Poem during the eleven o’clock news

A car backfires around
the block and the news
that night still comes to
nothing but the same old scores
and the same teams swing clubs,
throwing tethered balls, not a word
of who ran out of gas on the tracks
as the train appeared in a movie

Maybe, yeah, a movie
we were watching
about someone's stalled car
coughing for gas in the tail pipe
as a locomotive approached
around a dark, bend of the mountain
and a basketball bounced and rolled
off the playing floor to the showers where
the   towel boy dropped the phone
he'd just answered,
dropped the soap in a shower you were taking,
female and foamy and curved like the lines
of cello pressed between legs
of a musician who watched a foot ball game
with pork rinds on his breath,
the tips of his fingers,
you ask for a towel,
a new cake of soap,

I slip train tickets under your pillow,
think of the moon in low, stirring tones
of rich wood purring sounds that are
nothing like cries for help,
the TV is on in all these worlds
that are passed through.

I dream sports on tracks a planet
thriving  on humidity and cigar smoke,
you say "give me your money
and make a wish, please,
make a wish and don't tell me..."

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Recent Fiction Less Than Five Years Old

Meet Me in the Parking Lot
Stories by Alexandra Leggat
Flannery O'Connor, Russell Banks and Jersey Kozinzky meet for coffee, hash browns and small talk about psychic exile and the best sort of knife edge to hack through a bothersome bit of bone. Odd, disturbing, violent material here--violence either explicit or always at the edge of the crystallized situations here--all of which are made more jarring with Alexandra Leggat's taste for terse sentences and abrupt endings.

It works, for the most part, and the arc through the stories, life inside cars, on dark streets, side roads, parking lots behind anonymous bars, presents us with any number of dazed, abused and high strung women and rattled, crazed, raging men enacting any number of strange movements and quirks. At best, these stories are an adrenaline jolt, speaking truly to the sort of flash that gives one the urge to leap in front of traffic, to challenge immensity of grave and incalculable danger. Fans of Joyce Carole Oates take note , as Leggat seems a likely and artful heir to her position as chronicler of the Imperiled Woman.


Still Holding
A novel by Bruce Wagner
There's something refreshingly unforgiving in Bruce Wagner's lacerating Hollywood satire; those readers who've had a love/hate relationship with the movie business, an attraction-repulsion dynamic that loves movies themselves and yet is sickened by the business culture that makes it possible, will find the nasty laughs here telling, truthful, and an overdue joy to read.

Anyone else who desire something redeeming to emerge from all the bad faith, a kind act or sacrifice arising from some forgotten reservoir of decency would be better off seeking less severe wit. Wagner mines the old joke about Hollywood that "underneath the tinsel there's more tinsel", and obviously appreciates Jean Baudrillard's theories on simulacra, where the slavish and stylized impression has replaced the real; set this heady abstraction on to the business of celebrity lookalikes and the community that arises among them, we get a twisting , fun house mirror of Hollywood , a parallel existence that mimes the worst and most inane features of the stars they imitate. Wagner, in addition, writes like a wizard who knows where all the bodies are buried and the garbage is dumped.

Stories by David Foster Wallace
At his best, David Foster Wallace is an astute chronicler of the often needless (and fruitless) complications characters create for themselves. In these eight stories, he outlines the absurdity, sadness, and sheer comic reality of the outer-edge of consciousness. Fashion magazine editorial boards, consumer research companies, and paranoid office situations are among the areas fictionally explored where human activity fractures into dozens of frantic, nervous tangents. Oblivion is a dizzying, daring set of tales - a riveting virtuoso performance. Ironic, yes, that Wallace's exhausting "maximalist" style, which seems dedicated to fitting everything in sight into a sentence that contains everything else, works best in his shorter pieces: the humor hits harder, the stretches of associations don't have time to die on the vine.

The Body Artist
A novel by Don DeLillo
DeLillo is perhaps the best literary novelist we have at this time, which the career-defining masterwork  Underworld  made clear to his largest readership yet: at the end of all those perfect sentences , sallow images and and long, winding, aching paragraphs is a narrative voice whose intelligence engages the fractured nature of identity in a media-glutted age.
The Body Artist  has him contracting the narrative concerns to a tight, elliptical 128 pages, where the Joycean impulse to have a private art furnish meaning to grievous experience is preferred over the dead promises of religion and philosophy. What exactly the woman character does with her performance body art, what the point is of her ritualized , obsessed cleansing of her body, is a mystery of DeLilloian cast, but it's evident that we're witnessing to a private ritual whose codes won't reveal themselves, but are intended as a way for the woman to again have a psychic terrain she can inhabit following the sudden and devastating death of her film maker husband. The entrance of the stranger in the cottage turns her aesthetic self-absorption , slowly but inevitably, into a search into her past in order to give her experience meaning, resonance, a project she quite handily ignores until then. The sure unveiling of her psychic life is a haunting literary event.
DeLillo's language is crisp, evocative, precise to the mood and his ideas: you envy his flawless grasp of rhythm and diction as these traits simultaneously make the cottage on the cold , lonely coast seem sharp as snap shot, but blurred like old memory, roads and forests in a foggy shroud.  A short, haunted masterwork.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Nights are cold in the canyons

Nights are cold in the canyons

Cross your arms when speaking
of your wives and their telephone calls
in the night, on the back porch,
sobs and crickets carrying on through
until sunlight comes over the garage,

Bless yourself again
for having a family
whose eyes saw you falling?
and whose arms caught
you and laid you in a bed
until another morning
came and the sun emerged
from behind
night and morning low clouds,

Give a man a quarter
for what he needs to drink,
nights are cold in the canyons
where you lost flashlights
and pocket change,

Stop speaking of
former loves
and open every window
and listen to noise
that does not come
from inside your cranium
buzzing like electric shorts
in an old house at the end of
an ugly, washed out street,

Kneel when BB King
plays his guitar
or someone reads
a Frank O’Hara poem
about being stunned
because the lights have changed
and the whole city waits for him
to cross the street
and have his breath taken away,

Play your harmonica
until your lips start to bleed
at which time you’ll be ready
to kiss all the invisible gifts
that makes this life worth sticking around for.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Poetry as Stiff Drink

Somewhere in space, the tempest of intellection vs. emotion in contemporary poetry ensues, participants more passionate than habitual losers at downbeat racetracks. No one walks away happy from these discussions, of course. Although common sense, the proper place for one or the other of those qualities lies in the middle, with a dominant tone depending on what is being composed, matters get sidetracked to issues that leave aesthetics behind and land somewhere in the swamp of Deeply Held Personal Beliefs. The outcome from that kind of morass, in the extreme, are crusades, jihads, and obsession with celebrity murder trials. Barry Goldensohn's poem "Reading Faust When Young" hasn't calmed me down, in any case. Sometimes it's harder to stay in the center of a discussion than on other occasions:
  Reading Faust When Young for David Mamet I remembers only the leap from the bridge into the turbulent river after knowledge, but not what special knowledge or what power ever came his way in the old story. I was young when I read it. Immortality meant art, and Faustus was never an artist. And as for girls, you didn't need the devil when you offered everything. What did he really need to know? What did she feel and could never say about the girl because she had no words for it? He had little to say to the Greats. Helen was a peep-show. And the stuff about his soul— well, that was religious and historical. Overreaching for me was natural. I wanted to know everything, to stay forever in school taking courses. God and the devil never figured in. With his snaky tail, the devil was too fanciful to explain the lines waiting for gas or a bullet and ditch and firebombs and carpet bombs and the icy rapture of ideologues shouting about who to kill and who to save. My fellow humans were real: their evil was sufficient. The sacred was love and art and the political dream. The world-drunk heart was what I took for the soul, which dulled the edge of Faustus' sacrifice, and god was never real enough to love or lose. ©2003 Barry Goldensohn

 All told, this is not a bad bit of remembering, though it seems a fanciful evocation of some delayed connecting of points whose effect, I think, ought to have less earth-shaking patios. There's a lot of throat-clearing harrummmmmphing going on in the lines as I read them where a slighter, more minuscule rhetoric could have prevailed. There's something to be said for distanced irony, the now-I-get-it school, but since the instances were fleeting, minor, gradients of perception building to a larger, if not earth riving sharpness, a voiceless swaggering in its couched self-loathing would fit the material better. It would seem a better idea if Goldensohn hadn't mentioned Faust or Jung at all but in the title, and instead placed us smack dab in the action of his past thinking, the incidents as he vividly recalls doing them in his earnest, youthful practice of applying his hormone-fused enthusiasms upon his world. The mention of the big names and their ideas, though nicely arranged and phrased, are too precious for me to take this as anything more than an occasional poem that would normally find its way to the bottom of a drawer: it fairly gloats with its knowingness, and the author sounds too close to thinking that his eventual lesson learned is something to glory in. 

Look at me. I am wrong on a higher plane. The piece is overloaded with references and glancing mentions of religion and myth; the poet's voice aside, this poem reads like an abstract of a freshman's ill-crafted term paper. One may ask Isn't a lyric poem supposed to be about emotion? Yes, a lyric poem is the verbal equivalent of a musical evocation of intense feeling that defies the logic of words to express adequately. Thus, the looping chains of association, the constant comparisons of unlike things, including the sounds of the words creating euphony. Intense emotion colors the entire world, cast in all engrossing tints. The world to the perceiver makes a certain kind of sense, though the sense eludes them more often than not; there is even an element of paranoia that can come to play here, as in the notion that everything in the world, be it people, places, things, institutions, weather, are all somehow connected to the internal transformation. The irony alone isn't an emotion, but because it has something to do with an individual's perception, whether the poem's speaker or the reader, it can become a key determining factor in how hot emotion might boil or cool off, whatever the case may be. Irony concerns the incongruity between what is said and what actually is the case. Since a lyric poem operates on the transcendent level where emotion bypasses logical argument in pursuit of impossible language, capturing the inexpressible conflicts, disjunctions, distortions, and contradictions between myth and fact, action and deed are likely to happen as default conditions. They will ratchet up the energy a lyric swoon requires. I do think that my own work and explications regarding verse aim toward a Dionysian expansion. Still, unlike a host of others before me who pursued that expansion into sheer incomprehensibility --Kerouac, late John Ashbery, Pound, Language poets who never stopped being enamored of their ability to type non-sequiturs--I think the image, lines, and music need to be reined in, operate within strictures, Jazz is hardly a formless expulsion sans melodic infrastructure, since the quality of the best sets of spontaneous composition requires suitable composed materials to contextualize the extrapolation; the form of the melody being extrapolated upon gives shape to the musician's improvisations. There's a point in the kind of poetry I find appealing and the poets I think do interesting work where they have to acknowledge something a real subject set in the material world, the physical world, and that there is a need to link the most fanciful forays and high-flying linguistic maneuvering to real emotion, producing something at the end resembling whatever effect the writer thinks he's working for. It's a dialectical process, for want of another term, thesis, antithesis, synthesis. Simply because something is transcendent about existence does not imply that it is illogical or incomprehensible. Exactly. I think there are many instances, occasions, events, emotions, all sorts of confounding affairs that are absolute without meaning as we understand based on the equation of binary oppositions, i.e., something that is not this must therefore be that. 

Still, I believe that there are ways of understanding that instances require an acute use of intuition and instinct.I am not opposed to intellection coming into works of emotional duration, but something needs to connect with the reader as a felt experience. Otherwise, it's a waste of time reading a work composed solely for the novelty of showing off what one remembers from undergraduate survey classes. don't mind, and even encourage a poet to intellectualize as they write their lines, but the issue is about proportions and ratio. Goldensohn's intellection is strained for the amount of memory he's actually working on; the epiphany is too slight for the evocation of top-heavy names like Faust. Faust, of course, could have been used effectively as a reference serving a satisfying conclusion, but the hand is heavy here when the name and its cache is played. Irony trumps everything, as the saying goes, but it can also kill everything that's going on in work, and the willingness to abstract compulsively here makes for a small work that is all over the map. It's an over-packed suitcase. 

 Stevens's strategies are better, in so far that his work is about the experience, at the moment, in the intelligence of a perceiver who is in witness to things that will not yield their essence in the metaphysical sense. Though not overtly emotional, Stevens crafts a supreme fiction he often spoke of to take the place of the secrets that are forever unknown, a dramatized system of perception that acknowledges the world as its own adequate symbol. Stevens was entering the world, and to have the world he experiences shape and forms his readings and writings; I think he wrote as a man who was in that legendary state of constant becoming. Goldensohn sounds lost at best, though I am sure he can write a decent poem. This isn't one of his better ones. Stevens believes in the adage that there ought to be "no ideas but in things..." (concisely phrased and explained by William Carlos Williams). Stevens, with compatriots Williams, Eliot, et al., were, in their varied ways, obsessed with making language a hard, malleable material no less than clay or steel, and they wanted to write and elaborate upon images that didn't obscure the fantastic qualities of the world their language was supposed to be writing about. Perception is a dominant concern for this generation of modernist poets. I believe Stevens followed the loose dictates brilliantly and developed a methodology of processing the world that could capture in it many of its amazing juxtapositions. What is amazing about Stevens' work is that he develops a philosophy of perceptual imagination from the world as it already is. 

 As for supreme fiction, well, it's Stevens' term, and it is a brilliant shorthand for his unique compositional practice. The work isn't about methodology and philosophy, it's about the world Stevens experiences as a human being and the ideas these experiences brought to him when he came to write about them.  Any good writer gets a set of ideas they work on throughout their careers as artists, and Stevens is no different. I don't call it blabbing, however, since I think his work grew deeper and more refined, and his voice became more refined and musical as he aged, all in the service of developing his subjects and the ideas they inspired. Eliot, Shakespeare, Whitman, Rilke, Goethe, O'Hara, Dickens; each developed a set of ideas they wrote about continuously, though hardly as a matter of adhering to some doctrine they were locked into. The result is work worth reading and digging into, though one makes allowances for individual preference.

Cooking pork chops yakking on the phone

There’s nothing for us here but
what the smoke leaves on the wallpaper
in the aftermath of the grease fire
that raged a minute too long,

All that remains of the fish tank
is broken glass and the pots
you through at it,

All I asked was whether you
borrowed a Penthouse
and lost it somewhere under
all that smelly laundry
that gets higher in the hallway,

You weren’t really hungry
is what you say now?
but I can already hear your stomach growling,

Remind me, please, to not
argue with you
about my porno and beer cans
when you’re cooking pork chops.
yakking on the phone,
tore up on speed.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Stellar Conditions

Stellar Conditions
Under west coast umbrellas
you rain on parades
that don't float your fleet
of boats whose hulls bulge
with your endlessly paired desires,
your presence lets the air of my tires
and calls my mother on the phone
to say that I've beena bad boy
with the lunch money
and the guest houseyonder back,
just beyond the golf course.

Why do I love you so much
that every day of
my fifty plus yearsis gone
like vapor escaping
a covered pot of boiling water,
my resume is shredded,
my works are undone,
every line in my faceand ache
in my bones means nothing
when I'm in the center of the street
or alone in the house
as you walk away,
a teen age boygassed
up on hormones
and jack rabbit guitar solos,
grinding my teethand yelling your name
from a hurt that
is deep and full
of colors turned inside out,

There are lines of menand womenup
and down each side of the main
street drenched from a constant rain,
ashen under lunar light
in the middle of the night when
all should be having dreams of their plans
for the next day's obligations,
but your negations change that,
fisher of men,
collector of women,seducer of secrets,
black scarab love,we glow under neon signs
for Budweiser and One Hour Photo,
muttering your nameas streetcars spark past on their rails,
we chant your nameas you open a magazinewhen the plane turns
over the ocean,we call your nameas
you order headphones for the in flight movie
that you'll watch under stellar conditionsas long as there is fuel
and credit cardsto cross the county line with.

Friday, September 16, 2005

A Fearful Tale

A Fearful Tale

Strange as the rain they didn’t predict I was there staring across the when the phone rang.
The phone was black as arrest warrant ink, a quality that was more ominous by the sound of the bell, which was shrill like the cry of man bobbing on the line where the sky meets the lake.
Mary turned her head from the mirror where she was watching herself undo a ribbon around her neck as I stood in the middle of the room, counting the rings with the tap of ay big left toe.
“Silly” she said, walking to the phone, two strands of ribbon blowing over her shoulder in what seemed like a wind, “your games amuse me, but really, someone might be trying to get through to us.”
She stopped just short of the n1.ght table the phone rested on and picked up the receiver from the cradle with an arch of the back and a swoop of the arm that seemed professional, very profess
The phone seemed to leap into her hand through attractions unspoken of in the city. though by some natural attraction, L paper clips soaring to the north and south poles of a horse—shoe magnet.
Mary said a few words, nodding, cradling the phone between her Mar and shoulder as she finished untying the knot around her neck.
The ribbon floated to the floor as Mary took the phone from her ear and pointed it my direction,
“It’s for you” she said, “it’s Andy
The walk across the room took along time.
“Hi Ted, this is Andy. I wanted to see if you’d gotten those poems I dropped off?”
His breathing was a gurgling, grating rustle of congestion and worse. The black holes of the receiver appeared to vibrate, pulse in time to his rasping. The receiver felt clammy felt clammy, and the wallpaper, which I hadn’t noticed before, was suddenly bright and screaming with reds, yellows, pinks, and punishes blacks. This was all wrong. My scalp felt as though my hairline had been stapled into position as a guard against a long and blustering wind from the desert.

“Well?” asked Andy, “Whattaya think of the poems”.
“Yer poetry sucks and yer mama dresses you funny, Andy…”
“I see…”
“Kerouac was a weenie and you gotta leave that shit alone”.
“Gotcha. What else?”
“You spell like a muthafuckah!”
“Oh yeah? Well, you suck”.
“Fair enough” I said, “Lunch tomorrow?”
“I’m there” said Andy, “My treat this time…”
“You’re on…”
“Fuck off. Later.”

And the phone went dead. And then the sun exploded.
In heaven I was seated on a café on a cloud over looking planet debris. Monkeys were at every table, tossing silver ware and plates across an endless expanse.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Waking up is hard to do

The depth of sleep
digs its nails into the wall
that separates you from
a planet that is awake
from the tallest peak to the
smallest crack in the concrete,
slumber pulls you deeper
into the lake where
nothing moves.

Waking up is hard to do.

You’re forever confused
about the change to leave
on the table after coffee,
and who’s smiling and why any
of it should matter.

There are so many time
I wanted to say
I love you ‘though
I didn’t sleep at all last night.

Lets just say that
the art of evasion
is the occasion to rise to
when the drinks get honest
and nothing else seemed to matter.

We shall find our places
and assume our positions
of surrender and on waking
shower and dress and comment
on the drive to work that
there seem to be more and more
mattresses tossed out of homes,
leaning against dumpsters
like working girls reclining
against streetlights and payphones.


Sunday, September 11, 2005

Talking about the weather

Talking about the weather

So little time left
in a day that's already done with
by the time the sun
rises in the East
over the warm water oceans,

Microphones and men
with expensive hair
scream into camera lenses
to where the world is dark again
and ready for strong drinks
and toasts to sorry bastards everywhere
they don't happen to be,
unless, of course,
the water in their drink
is brown from the tap
and reeks of limitless amounts
of DNA recombined and
recycled in every form fit
for a natural disaster,
it's then time to drop the drinks
and microphones and head for
high ground, the tops of buildings
that no longer seem so tall,

Bad news travels fast
with the best seats
on the plane
as cities full of lost citizens
ask their politicians
what just happened
when the storm clouds gathered
and squeezed out the light
that shone over the land,

Politicians scratching their
heads until their
fingernails are encrusted with
dandruff and blood
as they look up to the sky
with their mouths awed and gaping,
waiting for God to answer their
demands about
what just happened
all while it rains,
and they drown where they stand,
dumb as turkeys
around a rain barrel.

Friday, September 9, 2005

spin cycle

she was hours ahead of schedule
so she sat down while the clothes
did their spin cycle thing and in an instant
was in the backseat of a limousine
that moved up a long black avenue
to where the skyline became a spire
like hands pressed together in prayer
under lights of the night that makes the
windows of the soul fall sad expressions
down to where the holes in the street
are deep with where the rain
gathers in songs about closing time
as drinks stick to coasters on bars
burned with matches and gouged with
penknives where names are carved over names
called from payphones one checks
for returned coins as they walk with baskets
full of socks which she collects and mends
and sells between shifts at the Woolworths
where she stands at a register under a cardboard
poster of orphans with wide eyes who look as cute
as they starve themselves
to becomecreatures so beautifully
taut on their boney frame
that they cease to breathe
but now her watch beeps
just as a buzzer sounds
and clothes stop rotating
and all the dreaming stops
suddenly, suddenly,
hard like brakes
screaming in the distance
just as you drift into a sleep
that is now stolen from you.

Thursday, September 8, 2005

Half the world has ceased to be

A Map of the World

Every piece of the puzzle
hasn’t found a fitting contour
eventually falls to the floor
as we make room for cups of coffee
and places to rest our elbows,

This map of the world has
holes in the cardboard ozone,
lakes where there should be
mountain ranges across the
severest edges of Asia,
gaping oceans of nothingness
where neither land nor sea
define the tides or the shape of
the wind blowing over flatlands
and highest peaks,

Quite a world, you would think,
coming into being without
all its parts present in the roll call,
and even the curved and islet shaved
bits finding peace as they are pressed
into place, forced to make nice
with border cuttings that make no sense
nor which force the wrong populations
into the same small area,

And even now things get worse
with desert, which comes on a tray
that’s set on the table, we make remove
our cups and saucers,
take away our magazines and ashtrays,
the tray is moved onto the table top,
and the puzzle moves forward, to the edge,
and by the time the first slice of pie is
served on a dish with small forks
wrapped daintily in thin paper napkins
half the puzzle goes over the table’s edge,
off into the brief outer space between
surface and floor, half the map of the world
has ceased to be,

Irregular bits of the former world
resting in dissociated shards
on the worn wooden floor,
and it’s not over yet,

Dear brother drops his
desert dish
and now
what used to be the
half of the planet
I dreamed about in a romance of travel
is completely, thoroughly
and covered in cake
and sticky, runny icing.

Tuesday, September 6, 2005


An outbreak of law and order,
cont'd on A-4, col. 3,
threatens livestock and poultry in
the middle of California,
precious things
wilting, withering,
on the cracked and caked floor of a
dead lake,
all without warning
as farmers, dry as basket straw,
wish they could muster a decent spit
for their cracked lips,
caked with
dried dust
hungry for water,
thirsty beyond repair.
mindless for a drink,
mindless as I am in front of this glass
on this table where
I sit
                                              STONED, daddy-Oh,
thinking that Muzak is the death of art and the reason to breathe or to go on eating
because it leeches the life from the simple chords
that made life
seem a chorus worth sitting through.

I 'm staring at the paper, the photographs and captions,
window to the world,
worried about cops at the end of the lunch counter feeding their faces with coffee and
cherry pie, I know they know something is horribly wrong with me,
they see me fight back insane

all that dead cattle
that never made to
the bun.

The hills wash away

All of us
lucky sons of bitches
live on the hill tops
high over the fatal diseased
stew that the village has become,

And one of these days
it will stop raining,
the water will stop rising
and we'll be able to use
the roads down the hills again,

But in the mean time
we will gather our pots and pans
and not mourn over our terraces
that have collapsed with the onslaught
of water and wind
that howls and whistles through
loose joints in the wood.

New Orleans

New Orleans

Waters are black with
what this city used to be
before the levee broke
in those places,

And yet no sins are washed away
and every streetlight goes dark
as the lights go out in
the eyes of every face
staring up from the bottom of the pool,

Three coins in a fountain
and God blesses no one
who hasn’t a car with the gas
to drive to the high ground,

There’s nothing spicy
on the Latin menu,
this is not Holy Water
coming up the avenues
and rising to the pitch
of the wooden roofs,

It’s a jazz funeral,
it’s the worse
of all opening sentences,

It’s a little man
in a pilot’s costume
staring at the screen
wondering why every station
have the same pictures
of bodies floating
where a city used to be,
angry that his lips
are chapped from kissing
those photos of John Wayne.

Monday, September 5, 2005

radio waves

song is always
the saddest
when it reaches the
high note
on a chord
that is torture to try for,
bones ache
and the voice breaks,
the world shatters again
on the half hour
just before some smoky,
faceless voice
reads off the call letters
that lead up
to news at the top
and half past the hour,

it's a headline that
everyone knows
yet no one reads aloud,

"hearts broken at midnight",

"another boyfriend screams
at passing cars"

"girlfriends sob into sweaters
that defies weather on weeknights"

all the news as the
drums gallop forward
guitar solo cuts
through a room of
subdued colors
and rattles its separate notes
like jar full of bees
who can't wait 'til
they break free,

it's a song with s name
that has a buzz
no amount of drink
or smoke can whisk away
as if it were a stain
that would fade away
as the song fades out
on the endless
lapping choruses
on the rocks of
all expectation,

number one with a bullet
that makes each heart
that bleed into
every river of tears.

Sunday, September 4, 2005


there is no one left to jump
this fence with not enough
upper body strength to
haul the boxesafter
I cut through the pad lock,all
that good shit just going southt
to people who have money,

so I got a real
job to rob,

I showed up in
my paper hatand a piece
under my shirt,said gimmee all that cashand

I was goneup the street
and around a corner and up againsome
flight of stairs to
a door at the end
of the flightwhere some clown
busted my actionabout sorry mofos
and traction winders,shit,
he grabbed my piece and my money
and popped me three times like a tattoo,
telegraph and the next thingI remember
was thinking here I goto
some dark monkey palacewhere there's
no money either.