Thursday, April 30, 2009

Vampire's Bite

Vampire’s Bite

Bukowski always said, “Don’t do it, unless
you can’t help it,” as I find myself scribbling
madly on a napkin, a 3x5 card, or scraps or sheets
or rolls of paper, anything that is receptive
to capturing those damned verbal insects,
that disturbing imagery, the honeyed feelings
I had while shaving, that abstract line of prose
that rose with the sun, a reworked lyric or line
from a movie, someone else’s cleverness,
a tattered corner of my emotional scrapbook,
some muddled memory struggling up for air,
those few good artists who love to paint Indians,
my constant fascination with native mythology
and magic and red dust, bright colored feathers,
the owl dance, the stomp grounds, commodity cheese,
Navajo blankets, Hopi hand-made pottery,
cliff pueblos, the roots of jazz,
Robert Johnson and 37 kinds of Delta Blues
with slide guitar riffs echoing into the fog in front
of me, and behemoth breasts beautiful as new ship keels
bursting huge from the silver screen of the Drive In
that is now a ticky-tacky row of Condos;
remembering how my hunting knife felt this morning
in the flat of my palm, heavy at the leather wrapped
hilt, the name “Killer” stamped deep
into the blood slit of the nickel-plated shiny blade,
with a lethal row of serrated teeth hungry and bare
near the handle; a joke really since I only actually killed
some ants, a couple frogs, several robins, a thousand spiders,
twelve snakes, some fish,
a doe, a dog, one cat, my health—hardly anything
of consequence in this life, but yes,
simmering strongly beneath my long lashes
genetic memories, throbs of my darkest naked instincts
make it triple clear that death has been no stranger
to these strong hands, these eyes, this heart—
that now weeps at every shred of sentiment,
even more so as my stride shortens, my hearing
diminishes, my hair grays, my arteries harden,
my reach barely equals my grasp;
how I habitually slip through the pre-dawn indigo
tingling with alacrity,
watching nervously for those constabularial sharks
who might, who can spring from concealment
and snag one of our group, flock, brace, troop—
bellicose and bulbous, behaving like sliver-buckled
voracious sun-glassed lions leaping
on our thin metal backs with guns drawn
and claws out; or more, the pungent air itself
pregnant with spring the season, full upon us,
covering the bright redness of my truck
with the softness of many-colored blossoms,
or pounds of thick yellow pollen, randy and ready
for all forms of gestation,
teasing these old bones like a tart,
sexy and alluring with the promise of summer,
despite the chill and ice I face
alone early in my alley
as the fog of my breath mantles
the single star visible over my garage,
and the noise a small plane engine makes
hidden in the clouds as it searches for a landing strip
I cannot see, but I know must be somewhere close—
capturing, explicating,illuminating divers icons
of one day, begging to be tallied, stroked, consumed,
digested, and assimilated --begging like a sultry
seductive sinuous bitch to become

Hell, Charles, I guess it’s true,
and I just can’t help myself,
so I will just keep doing it,
until I go blind, or die, or grow a third arm,
or learn to walk through solid walls
scattering molecules
like a dart through dandelions.

Glenn Buttkus April 2009

So You Want to be a Writer?

so you want to be a writer?

Charles Bukowski

if it doesn't come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don't do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don't do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don't do it.
if you're doing it for money or
don't do it.
if you're doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don't do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don't do it.
if it's hard work just thinking about doing it,
don't do it.
if you're trying to write like somebody
forget about it.
if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.
if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you're not ready.
don't be like so many writers,
don't be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don't be dull and boring and
pretentious, don't be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don't add to that.
don't do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don't do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don't do it.
when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.
there is no other way.
and there never was.

From sifting through the madness for the Word, the line, the way by Charles Bukowski. Posted over on Poets.Org

The Suicide Kid

the suicide kid

Charles Bukowski

I went to the worst of bars
hoping to get
but all I could do was to
get drunk
worse, the bar patrons even
ended up
liking me.
there I was trying to get
pushed over the dark
and I ended up with
free drinks
while somewhere else
some poor
son-of-a-bitch was in a hospital
tubes sticking out all over
as he fought like hell
to live.
nobody would help me
die as
the drinks kept
as the next day
waited for me
with its steel clamps,
its stinking
its incogitant
death doesn't always
come running
when you call
not even if you
call it
from a shining
or from an ocean liner
or from the best bar
on earth (or the
such impertinence
only makes the gods
hesitate and
ask me: I'm

Copyright © 2005 by Charles Bukowski. From Slouching Toward Nirvana: New Poems.
Posted over on Poets.Org

Dangerous For Girls

Dangerous for Girls

Connie Voisine

It was the summer of Chandra Levy, disappearing
from Washington D.C., her lover a Congressman, evasive
and blow-dried from Modesto, the TV wondering
in every room in America to an image of her tight jeans and piles
of curls frozen in a studio pose. It was the summer the only
woman known as a serial killer, a ten-dollar whore trolling
the plains of central Florida, said she knew she would
kill again, murder filled her dreams
and if she walked in the world, it would crack
her open with its awful wings. It was the summer that in Texas, another
young woman killed her five children, left with too many
little boys, always pregnant. One Thanksgiving, she tried
to slash her own throat. That summer the Congressman
lied again about the nature of his relations, or,
as he said, he couldn't remember if they had sex that last
night he saw her, but there were many anonymous girls that summer,
there always are, who lower their necks to the stone
and pray, not to God but to the Virgin, herself once
a young girl, chosen in her room by an archangel.
Instead of praying, that summer I watched television, reruns of
a UFO series featuring a melancholic woman detective
who had gotten cancer and was made sterile by aliens. I watched
infomercials: exercise machines, pasta makers,
and a product called Nails Again With Henna,
ladies, make your nails steely strong, naturally,
and then the photograph of Chandra Levy
would appear again, below a bright red number,
such as 81, to indicate the days she was missing.
Her mother said, please understand how we're feeling
when told that the police don't believe she will be found alive,
though they searched the parks and forests
of the Capitol for the remains and I remembered
being caught in Tennessee, my tent filled with wind
lifting around me, tornado honey, said the operator when I called
in fear. The highway barren, I drove to a truck stop where
maybe a hundred trucks hummed in pale, even rows
like eggs in a carton. Truckers paced in the dining room,
fatigue in their beards, in their bottomless
cups of coffee. The store sold handcuffs, dirty
magazines, t-shirts that read, Ass, gas or grass.
Nobody rides for free, and a bulletin board bore a
public notice: Jane Doe, found in a refrigerator box
outside Johnson, TN, her slight measurements and weight.
The photographs were of her face, not peaceful in death,
and of her tattoos Born to Run, and J.T. caught in
scrollworks of roses. One winter in Harvard Square, I wandered
drunk, my arms full of still warm, stolen laundry, and
a man said come to my studio and of course I went—
for some girls, our bodies are not immortal so much as
expendable, we have punished them or wearied
from dragging them around for so long and so we go
wearing the brilliant plumage of the possibly freed
by death. Quick on the icy sidewalks, I felt thin and
fleet, and the night made me feel unique in the eyes
of the stranger. He told me he made sculptures
of figure skaters, not of the women's bodies,
but of the air that whipped around them,
a study of negative space,
which he said was the where-we-were-not
that made us. Dizzy from beer,
I thought why not step into
that space? He locked the door behind me.

From Rare High Meadow of Which I Might Dream by Connie Voisine.
Posted over on Poets.Org

Cathedral of the North

cathedral of the north Poems
by Connie Voisine.
Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, $12.95 paper.
Reviewed by Denise Duhamel.

Connie Voisine’s Cathedral of the North is an intriguing account of the working poor of Maine, a place where the speaker’s “yard blooms with refrigerators and cars inside out and rusting.” Like Carolyn Chute’s earlier novels, Voisine’s poetry is wholly unsentimental, tactile, and filled with unexpected beauty.

She is political in the best sense. For the most part, she lets her images stand for themselves, so that when she makes such assertions as “Many know the exhaustion of public assistance. / How fear can pretend it is pride. / How deeply unreasonable the notion of an omnipotent god seems at these times,” her reader stays with her. While Voisine’s work does not concern itself directly with shame or self-loathing, many of her poems deal with escape and fantasy. In “Hungry,” for example, a fourteen-year-old has a steamy correspondence with a pen pal who is in prison and to whom she lies about her “pretty clothes her palomino disco records gold rings.”

There is also an obsession with dirt and cleanliness throughout Cathedral of the North. In “That Far North,” the speaker’s mother says, “I don’t care how poor you are . . . you can at least be clean.” In “The House by the Dump,” Voisine writes, “My mother washed my knees / with Brillo on Saturday nights.” In “Cameo,” the speaker saves change in a sock so that her mother can go to the car wash: “I watched the soapy foam / shoot over the window just above my face, / the whips of the cloth-brushes spin and / beat me in my box of glass.”

The poem “What Was So Beautiful About the Father” serves as the emotional center of the book. It’s a brilliant collage that concerns itself with the speaker’s father and his job as a logger, his impossible efforts to make ends meet, his literal and figurative “broken back.” Voisine swings from the economics of logging to the very personal story of one family, from obscure movies to photographs, from memory to floods in Maine. In one prose poem section, she writes that “the past was magical and true . . . It had an air of the tragic, if only because its result was the dull, difficult wait we lived now.”

The father of the poem has lost an eye in an accident, and the theme of dismemberment occurs again in “Route One”: the speaker’s aunt marries a man without thumbs the same summer that a man with plastic legs, “army legs,” comes to town. Moreover, in “Grandfather,” Voisine writes, “As a kid, you lost / your pinkie to a saw, cutting the lake for ice, / and your glove remained whole.”

One of Voisine’s strongest poetic gifts is the collage, the putting together of incongruous imagery, the way the speaker trades her “free lunch cake” for money (in “Cameo”) and her “surplus cheese from the state / for an electric Lady Shaver” (in “Hungry”). This is a dazzling, brave, and surprising first book.

Denise Duhamel’s most recent title is Queen for a Day: Selected and New Poems (Pittsburgh, 2001). A 2001 NEA fellow in poetry, she is an assistant professor at Florida International University in Miami.

Posted over on Ploughshares

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

True Stories

True Stories

by Connie Voisine

Already pregnant, she
writes her name and his,
Lou and Mike, over
the cloudy pictures in True Stories.
Black-and-white pictures
of a leggy woman (Lou) draped,
the arching stem of her throat
almost tears from her head,
so thrown back with pounds
of hair and a dark man’s
(Mike’s) kisses. Done eating,

Mike scrubs the wishbone
from supper and dries it
in the wind on the porch
with Lou and her ancient parents.
All digest and watch cars
go by, what happens every night
when it’s warmer. Mike gives Lou
a leg of the ashy bone. They break it
as the light falls and all
color goes away. The parents

hoot Who won? Who won?
and Mike takes her shorter piece,
says This is the man.
He waves the other part
that kept the joint, says
This is the shovel, and delicate,
he, in his palm, buries
the man with the shovel.

Posted over on Ploughshares



by Connie Voisine

for R. Voisine

His father, two brothers, and me, we turned off our saws
for a rest of water and cake. Thirsty, he stopped, walked over
and the loader’s back gate yawned and slipped it
catch, threw him down onto a fresh stump, still
that pink-white wet. I scooped him up. Blood
fell on the path, my arms. He asked to walk by himself,
and I let him, my hands tried not to slip on his shoulders.
When we got to camp, he said
Still, I’m thirsty, and the cook and foreman, they ran
for water. He took it carefully so he wouldn’t drop
and break it. He drank what they gave him. The water poured
out the bottom of his jaw and struck his chest
while the saws stopped in the woods.

Posted over on Ploughshares

Love Poem

Love Poem

By Connie Voisine

Although the angels of numbers and letters
wrestle darkness into shapes, and the plane
descending over the I-10 wraps

my car in the gust and sonic draw of velocity—
it too has a flight path and calm passengers and no
fiery end for us—I duck and think so this is it.

Medievals thought hunger lived its own life in the
body, parasitic, our organs entered by it.
Love was like this too, a contagion, the blood-

filled heart unlocked by his face, her voice,
and we suffered from its side effects of hedonism,
forgetting. The geranium on my porch seems to be

a testament to the finite, the stable, in the warp
of its knobby stems and the slip of white
at each petal's seat, 99 cents at Kmart, but lush

hairs blur the edges of leaves and its musk
supercedes—the water I drink standing near it tastes
heavy and spiced. This flower unlocks, hunger-like,

borders (my mouth, my nose, the water) as does the 747.
Overfull, virulent, the plane dissolves the differences
between my arms, the steering wheel, the airport's

sky and fills me with a roaring which medievals
could only see as dangerous. Animals
killed for slaughter spill their hunger, see how they

continue to bite at the earth? They believed this pour
was absorbed by the grasses and trees, geraniums,
air, and see how much and why I lose myself to you.

Connie Voisine
Posted over on Slate

Connie Voisine

Biographical Statement from New Mexico State University:

In 1987 I graduated from Yale University with a major in American Studies, with a concentration in film. While there, I was part of a theater company that took its plays to housing projects and prisons. As a member of that company, I taught playwriting and acting at Greenhaven Maximum Security Prison (for men) for a summer, discovering that I was energized by the way that art and activism could coincide, and that I loved to teach. During school, I took what creative writing classes I could (few were offered) and was part of the oldest creative writing workshop in America through a class called Daily Themes.

Because I grew up in a Maine border town with few creative outlets, I moved to New York City once I graduated. I began studying writing with poets Nicholas Christopher and Philip Schultz at The New School, the Poetry Society of America and Writers Studio. New York launched me on a wonderful apprenticeship as a poet and I worked flexible jobs--from bartender to development researcher at The Brooklyn Museum--to facilitate poetry study and summer travel to Europe and Central America. Besides attending as many poetry readings as I could, I developed into an avid dance and music performance attendee, became interested in the visual arts, often going to five or six events a week. Overall, my immersion in the avant-garde art world of the 19801s allowed me to understand the benefits of a vibrant art community and the role of an artist within one.

I got an MFA at University of California at Irvine and a Ph.D. in English at University of Utah. Before teaching here at NMSU, I taught for two years at University of Hartford in Connecticut. Currently I live in an old adobe house with my husband, the writer Rus Bradburd and our daughter Alma.

Connie Voisine

That Far North

That Far North

I invented my own sign language.
I wrote it down with elaborate descriptions
of the positions of my hands and
where I touched, how I moved them.
The path through the woods behind home
was double-rutted from an old tractor,
abandoned, and I walked in its grooves.
I took out books on flowers,

identified the unbeautiful few that could grow
that far north: mustard, hawk's-eye,
ragwort, and I invented and recorded
for each a silent sign. I found a book
on eating them and began to eat
bark off trees, lick the sap that beaded
on their cuts and buds. I dug up thistles
and ate the roots while my mother,

without my help, cleaned the house
like a woman possessed. I don't care
how poor you are, she said, you can
at least be clean. The tiny leaves
all around me at the bald top of the hill,
furrowed down to our house.
From up there, I watched the mill lose
its black crown of sparks, and my mother,

big as my thumb at the clothesline,
fought sheets from the wind.
I knew they weren't clean,
she would always work hard,
and each year, the mill rolled enough paper
so it could go, but didn't, to the moon
and back. One of the odd songbirds
half-finished its song. The guide said

these leaves are hardy, adore full sun and
well-drained soil. I picked ten,
rubbed them clean on my pants,
and ate them. Sour. Bright. The sun
slid behind the mill and mouth dry,
I practiced signs to my mother's
small figure, as she began
to mow our acre of lawn.

Connie Voisine
Posted over on Kicking Wind



He eats in silence as frost plumes
at the panes and stars tighten,
teeth marks on the freezing sky.
His boots stand in snow water,
melting by the wood stove that he burns
hot to husk his legs of cold.
The fire bumps, drops, cracks
in the stove. His wife and daughters’
talk goes louder then softer,
in and out of the raw, raw
of the chain saw still in his head
where he fells trees that moan
before they drop muted by the snow.
His legs hurt in the snow,
then his body heat loosens the ice
in his beard and as he prunes
the fallen trunks, he opens the zippers
his wife sewed into his pants
across the thigh, behind the knee,
like the slits in a pie. The trees
don’t bleed in winter.
Sap pulls back to the core.
He rises, shudders a crowbar
through the slender iron doorway
to the red flare inside.

Connie Voisine
Posted over on Ploughshares

There's a Certain Brightness the Forgetful Mind Allows

There’s a Certain Brightness the Forgetful Mind Allows

We were young then, fledglings
with no real fingers to speak of.
Moist-eyed and bleery,
Memory provides a vague, large shape
And unconsolable sounds. I think of one ton
of sadness stomping through the garden
and you and me fleeing – into the woods?
To roost, at boreal as we were then?
Maybe blackness swooped beyond
our catapults and stones,
its triangular head aero dynamic
and mocking above the smoky swamp
we called ours.
We might have taken it home
for domestication, we did that then,
but I don’t know.
Would it have torn the curtains, shat
on the floor? Did it turn
in its humid kennel, choking
on groans? What we ignored during
dinner, during sleep, during all he
puny housekeeping?
when we found, centuries later, rocks
wounded by work, rocks full of
gorgeous bones, we saw them as books
full of strangers.
With our happy tools and fire, we were
sure we had never known something so
odd and cold-blooded. On sunny days
we might catch a streak of dark scuttling
through weeds, stumble over an awkward tool,
or a hiss of dry skin animates
a crack in the garden wall

Connie Voisine
Posted over on Manual Labors

I Made a Book

I made a book,

made the pages
from cheap, lined paper stolen from school,
from the torrid leaflet left under the windshield wipers
by Holy Rollers in the parking lot, from squares
of plain cardboard

released from the clutches of mother's pantyhose,
glued in a few modest wafers smuggled from
sacrament for my introduction
and illuminated capital G's and M's (for 'Going...' and
'Moreover...') with the lock
of my sister's once long hair, illuminated with curls
of white birch bark from winter,
and borrowed its central mystery from the Avon catalogue's
more scented pages,

stole a kind of heat from
the Avon Lady's ashtray full
of Taffeta Sunset-ringed butts,
stole my heroine from sheets of mica
near the pond illuminated
from within I swear, and borrowed
enemies from the smooth slate of the river bottom
where it never quite freezes
while I colored my book with the flush
of a rabbit's ear
and glued-in four leaf clovers, Bible-pressed, frail,

and pages and more pages--
of ice, of the wasted softness
in my father's hands, a scab, a bull's horn
heated and flattened out, to make a comb

and a page for my book, the skin of dust
on the TV was included to symbolize frailty,
the wrapper from a hamburger to suggest
the pain of forgetting
baby teeth became page

numbers, also figures for greed,
dry fronds--last Palm Sunday's--unbraided, removed
from above the door became the spine, our grandfather's
handkerchief and his face
when he beat the dogs were spread thick

to dry and then cut to shape for the spine, as was the steam
off the swamp or fluff off dandelions,
the damp, gray haze from winter noons that
I could almost gather in my arms like an animal or a child, and
the delicate ampersand of cooked sugar
cooled on snow.

Connie Voisine
Posted over on Sante Fe Poetry Broadside

Unfinished Letter to Death

Painting by Egon Schiele

Unfinished Letter to Death

Though we've often passed on airplanes,

at the library, in the desert, I've never

Imagine my surprise when

First allow me to introduce my colleagues and their

Let's be honest: that dog had already

And we really didn't know that insects

I agree, the arguments for the first attack seemed

Moreover, the sun gets very hot during these months,

would it be too much

In the ring, most boxers

Vodka itself is not so terrible if

The tobacco industry has systematically

You see, if I had only been ten minutes earlier,

The toaster and the hairdryer are indeed

flawed appliances but

It only took one despot, a painting by Degas,

and an angry mistress to

War, to many of us here in the United States, seems a bit

Please, think of the How much would it take to

From now on, I promise to

I can guarantee, not only Geronimo and his ghost

This is to advise you that you are not to come within

Without further adieu,

Connie Voisine
Posted over on Campbell Corner

New World

New World

Here the minimalist sky.
Here antelope (pronghorns) and the burnt,
high-plains grasses
bound to the edge of the compound,
the edge of town the edge of, the edge of.
Here glints polish the air to gold.
The antelopes and the few stunted trees
dream about Jonah in the belly of the sky.
Let's have nothing
but gold-it's so pleasing.

One night a man took out an accordion.
So loud, the instrument in this night and so many
romantic waltzes that I wept just
outside the fire's circle of light.

I knew a lot, once.
Wasn't Naturalism about to happen?
And really, the French and the English
why should they quit-a battle here, one there,
and their navies refulgent?
And Levinas, saying such things:
"the night is the very experience of the there is"?
Once I knew
that pastries could have a thousand leaves.
The bishop wore a fabulous hat and forks and knives
were polished monthly, to meditate
in their velvet boxes.

Here the sky cares only about
being blue and large and represents nothing
but itself. The doves ask "who cooks for you?'
(in the translations)
and scorpions sleep in your shoes.
Us, we go along
inventing new ways to die:
by the cutting off of hands,
of hair, death by one dirty blanket and
death by walking.
Death by six pine nuts, by bloody
sunset, by obscure mirage.

Connie Voisine
Posted over on Campbell Corner

Calle Florista

Calle Florista

Don't you remember
our little house on Calle Florista,
the calle with lots of flowers?
There weren't flowers so much as
cats, at least a hundred, lounging in the neighbor's yard
while the bushes roiled with kittens.

They weren't kittens so much as
pecan trees and weeds of the nightshade family,
unwatered except on irrigation days
when the whole neighborhood stood up to its knees in water.

And the water was not water, so much as
gravel, and the Calle was not a street, but more
a bunch of rocks lined up in a particular way.
And the "Florista" started last year. The maps
still say Iris Lane.

There were no irises so much as one fat Sharpei,
the guard dog to Chinese Kings said the uncle next door,
as Sassy yowled in the yard.
Sassy was not a guard dog so much as
not very smart,
though Tio was kind of Kingly
sitting in his minivan with a Keystone Light.

What did I do all day?
The boy hit my car with a stick.
His sister stood in the plastic swimming pool.
When would the pecans drop? Tio was waiting.

It wasn't so much waiting as the kids and Tio
worrying about the occasional helicopter
battering by,
the dog and the cats, who were not cats at all
And me in that little house, writing about
our street which changed every day
subtly and in complicated ways.
But for you it was most different-
you were the one who didn't exist,
except as someone
who did not live on Calle Florista.

Connie Voisine
Posted over on Campbell Corner

Big Song

Painting by Sharon Hodgson

Big Song

I have tried it. The brag, with permission
of democracy. The royal we. The big
words, like courage, excellence and power,
brilliance. Have tried to supercede the bound-

aries of skin, hair, scarred hands, the fatigue
housed by the majority of my bones,
to launch a spirit large as a whole group
of people--waitresses, sisters, women,

poets, lovers, mammals etc.--
so that I could be the throat, the tip of the
tongue expressed. Oh, the vocabulary
of it all, filed beside Whitman, Ginsberg,

with snips of the old testament,
the syntax of presidents and most
romantic poets. I am a student,
with flash cards and coffee, of the necessary

exuberance, the jaunty-angled hat,
the workingman's clothes, the apoplexy
of the pilgrim, the V-Day. The cock's strut,
the virtuoso flourish, the chest swell,

that crescendo of being that shoots through me
and explodes into the perfect us-ness
of the larger sentiments, inspiring
love and generosity in the afterglow. I have over-

studied the sweet, opened door, the letter
that solicits, the look backward with smile,
all phyla of permission, I should just
photograph them like South American birds

and be done with them.
I over-respect the bigness of some--
their unselfconscious motions to include--
and guilt's smallnesses in others.

Some arrive at big through abnegation--
the potlatch, desecration, the holy
stamina to blaspheme has its own stuff,
its lovely scatology of excess,

the spangles of self to burn. I have tried,
analyzed, faulted, pushed, and faked,
spewing from my fist-tight lips
like a girl spinning in her mother's chiffon,

stained prom gown, thin and scared.

Connie Voisine
Posted over on Campbell Corner

The Internal State of Texas

The Internal State of Texas

This much is known:
It's large and largely dry.
It's been called terrarium-like by experts.
At first, I felt it slowly growing
the requisite cactus and coast.
I wrote letters to the president
but he vacationed inside me for months at a time.
I can't say Galveston was anything
other than sweet heat and water,
though Dallas was a bitch until I passed it.
It was the fighter jets that got better and better.
They came to appreciate me too.
In those fabulous formations they swooned
curlicues on those bluest skies,
burning elaborate fuels like there was no tomorrow.
"Dear President,
the streets of downtown El Paso
are quite dirty and packed with people
vagrantly wandering."
He was photographed
inside me, with chainsaw,
concerned about longhorns.
I wanted something
even though the dollar stores simmered
like hens on their nests of cleaning supplies,
spatulas, and hair ties.
"Dear President,
I had wanted something, I don't know,
prettier for myself by this age.
Please advise."
Meanwhile, men unscrolled miles
of scotchguarded materials.
Ezekiel Hernandez was shot
herding goats and Krispy Kremes
blindsided everyone. But I was younger then,
before the daring, handsome surgeon
who wore cowboy boots,
before the long convalescence
and all that doctorly handholding.

Connie Voisine
Posted over on Campbell Corner

We Are Crossing Soon

We Are Crossing Soon

It was hot. We wandered on the pavement.
We knew that soon we would get there.

We thought we were prepared-one says goodbye
and looks for a knife and a proper comb

and while doing so avoids a crying person.
Soon we would get there, or not soon but

we would, the bridge not too crowded, the agents
distracted, and the water would not be too wet.

The desert weeping manna in the cool morning will provide.
The streets of El Paso will provide.

We surfed on the ocean and kissed blond girls named Melissa
with each other astride the dumpsters

behind the TV factory. We were not suave
and we wouldn't like living alone, wondering what our

mothers were doing at that moment. At that moment
our mothers were sewing small pieces of old clothes.

Certainly we would arrive the way birds arrive, not through
maps and memory, but some other dark

knowledge, though we knew some would drop
dead from the sky. We had cousins. We smoked cigarettes

whenever we could and the avenues yawned, flustered
with feet-it was so hot-and beyond lay the river

in its cement trough, the highway, the fields
of peppers. We shined your shoes with a vigor

unexplained by democracy, our boots crooked
but shining, then your shoes were shining,

spotless down the dusty streets, the quarters
in our hands were shining like a teakettle we would own.

Connie Voisine
Posted over on Campbell Corner

The Beginning of Things

The Beginning of Things

for Rus

Your west each
gives doves--night

dissolved by torrents of
and of doves--a

constant coo, coo
stretches into
your room. Here, no easy

song. Melody,
with its grace
note skitterings above

avoids these empty (rusted blades
of a windmill,
a radiotower, browned peak)

skies. It's only
doves, and you pull
towards my back,

pull back towards
sleep where you don't,
you tell me, dream. I doubt

daily--though here's
heat, body, the weakness
(giving in) to your scratch

and pitch, voice. Flesh
is grass. Rare
high meadow of which I

might dream?
Or meaning everywhere,
like the ache

of miles of desert, the beaten
armor of mountain? And doves
insisting, wherever

they are. Waves of alto and the
blue square of window holds
nothing tangible

again: flat light, jets
evaporating into
white, heat that stands

like a man with a sword,
this sudden need
for belief. My new love.

Soon you won't
even hear them. White
noise, you said and still

I listen. I hear
a steady
question, who?

Who are you,
narrow stranger? Trust me,
you said one night,

swung a heavy stick
into the hive-shaped tree
they're in there.

And dark bodies
flew upward
a hundred in one teeming cloud.

Connie Voisine
Posted over at Campbell Corner

The Poet at 37

The Poet at 37

I drive to work--but not every day--through construction
barriers, dumptrucks and backhoes, distracted
by what I have to say that day and to whom.
Lujan's is on the right where they make little biscuits
of molasses shaped like pigs in the local tradition. Carl's
Jr. and then I turn. A friend told me she saw a girl
get it crossing this street, described the arc, how the body
flew up onto the car, and she bounced
back onto the sidewalk. A human being, all those
intentions. I eat strange meals, often standing,
of bits of things-a cracker, an apple, a bowl of cereal,
alone. I sometimes think, this is my life and push
away the edge of despair with my hands. I think
of Moses. How he begged god for only one thing.
The god he had obeyed for years without
question-he wanted to see his face. What face
would he have? This desire is clean and pure
as a child's. Show me your face. I spend nothing
and am never extravagant. Sometimes I go to Mexico
on the Stanton Street Bridge, and for 25 cents enter diesel smoke,
bodies, vendors, well-oiled hair of street musicians,
the blind couple. She has holes for eyes and sings with
a can between her knees, the coins, percussion. He plays
a catalogue guitar and has dark glasses.
And a watch. There's a man in Juarez who paints
landscapes the size of a postage stamp, one American
dollar. See the pond, the waterfall, dense willows,
two swans, necks linked on an easel made of toothpicks?
See the elderly waiters in their Eisenhower jackets,
sentinels at Martino's plateglass window?
They wait for the sun to go down. Which always happens,
fortunately. Sometimes I climb the nearest mountain--
the bald, dry mountain, a whitewashed A on its side, an A
I can't see once I have achieved it.
There are other landscapes here of geologic interest:
the desert of white sand soft as snow, so bright
it is said astronauts navigate by it. There are quartz peaks,
purplish and severe. Sometimes wearing a skin of snow.
And new this year: I feel like there is a before and an after.
And this is the after. I read the Medievals
who believed in divine order (for comfort?). As William
of Conches put it in the tenth century,
the world is an orderly collection of creatures, and
like a great zither. A tuned instrument,
with purpose and scale. My mechanic sends me a Christmas card
reminding me to reflect on my blessings. He's right--
I have a good job, my health, and the war hasn't started yet.
One anonymous disciple of John of Fecamp asks, who
shall give us wings like those of the dove so that we may
then fly through all the kingdoms of the world
and enter within the southern sky? Show me your face.

Connie Voisine
Posted over on Campbell Corner

This Is For the Silver of Highway

This is for the silver of highway

through Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, for
the idea of open road, how it makes of the world
a camera lucida—a timeless, illuminated room.

The psalmist felt this shine, wrote the womb
of the morning, wrote the mountains skipped like rams,
and the little hills like lambs. David Copperfield

begins tenderly, his voice earnest on the first
of eight tapes of the BBC radio play,
announces his desire to tell us the journey

of his life, while one October, in Wyoming,
herds of black cows turn into mythical animals
because they are black and shiny and stand head to toe,

bodies fusing in the bright sun, one tar-black body
with two opposing heads. Tar, tarmac, macadam,
asphalt, highway, freeway, interstate,

scenic byway while Copperfield is rescued
over and over by ignorance and luck combined with
his own good soul. Where am I? I ask gas station

attendant, cashier, hotel clerk. One August through
Ohio, I sweat up the steering wheel, seat, lay bags of ice
across my lap, hurtle past exploded tires,

wild anemone of wire and rind. You torrent,
you headstrong, they whisper. September, an Iowa rest stop
hours from anywhere, I watch a man unload

a lawnmower from his truck, the motor vivid
in the quiet air as he begins to cut the grass around the latrines.
A congregation of small, brown birds lifts

from the bushes as if of one mind and my body trills
with that highway feeling, of feeling the world
and mind are one. It's a giddy amnesia—history,

responsibility lose their dominion in February, in Nevada hills
mute with sage. It's religious how I remember
July, the air-conditioned relief of the Chicago Art Institute,

where grimy, the road still droning in my arms, my chest,
my inner ear, I want to explain to the becalmed tourists
the velocity of Whistler—the twisted, crossing, intersecting

lines of sight from boatman, wavetip, to wingtip,
to fin. I return to my car and navigate acres
of backhoes, dumptrucks, a massive construction

site ringing the hogbutcher to the world.
One June I get a speeding ticket in Pennsylvania
because the radio's playing an optimistic song

from the 1970s while the speed limit changes
and I am watching instead a farmer harness up
two golden draft horses, pull them right

to the porch of his house and a bonneted woman
emerges to admire them. I admire them.
Where am I? In a motel in Cheyenne,

filled with school kids and their band
instruments and the mountains are green,
because this time it's early, it's May, and David Copperfield

has lost both women he loved, two weak, incompetent
women and still I cry—this is how it happens,
passion and its unreasonable vaults of soul

and what fills me are miles and David's sad love
and the plain face of a girl holding a trumpet
on a Super 8 Motel balcony in Wyoming.

Where am I? The stuff of my life in boxes, thrown out,
whittled to a few books, a computer and some clothes.
I think I am suffering, but I don't know. Here's to

not where I'm coming from and not where I'm going.
Here's to gypsy movement (as my grandmother
calls it), the infinity of living between.

Connie Voisine

Rare High Meadow of Which I Might Dream
The University of Chicago Press
Posted over on Poetry Daily

Ode To My Backyard

Jannie Funster over at Funsterland has got Lane Savant all pumped up with his manliness, and he serenades his chainsaw and her. Lots of fun out here in the cyber puddle.


Ode To My Backyard

I gotta chainsaw -
I gotta ax -
You want some firewood -
I’m the guy to ax -
I c’n chop the stuff,
and split the stuff -
I c’n stack it in yer woodpile,
For your fireplace in the winter
I c’n chip it into mulch,
to warm your flower bed -
You want that forest leveled -
I got that chainsaw touch.

Lane “I’m a lumberjack and I’m O.K.” Savant

Comes Love

Comes Love

(Lew Brown/Sammy Stept/Charles Tobias)

Comes a rain storm
Put your rubbers on your feet
Comes a snow storm
You can get a little heat
Comes love
Nothing can be done

Comes a fire
Firemen come and rescue me
Blow a tire
You can patch the inner tube
Comes love
Nothing can be done

Don't try hidin'
'Cause it isn't any use
You'll just start slidin'
When your heart turns on the juice

Comes a heat wave
You can hurry to the store
Come a summons
Hide yourself behind a door
Comes love
Nothing can be done

Comes a headache
You can lose it in a day
Comes a toothache
See your dentist right away
Comes love
Nothing can be done

Comes the measles
You can quarrantine the room
Comes a mousie
You can chase it with a broom
Comes love
Nothing can be done

That's all brother
If you've ever been in love
That's all brother
And you know just what I'm speakin' of

Comes a nightmare
You can always stay awake
Comes depression
You could get another break
Comes love
Nothing can be done
Nothing can be done

Artist: Joni Mitchell
Album: Both Sides Now
Year: 2000
Title: Comes Love

At Last

At Last :

(Mack Gordon And Harry Warren)

At last
My love has come along
My lonely days are over
And life is like a lovely song
At last
The skies above are blue
My heart's wrapped up in clover
Ever since the night I looked at you

I found a dream that I could speak to
A dream to call my own
I found a thrill to press my cheek to
A thrill like I have never known
Oh when you smile, when you smile at me
That's how the spell was cast
And now here we are in heaven
I found my love at last

I found a dream that I could speak to
A dream to call my own
I found a thrill to press my cheek to
A thrill like I have never known
Oh when you smile, when you smile
That's how the spell was cast
And now here we are in heaven
I found my love at last
At last

Artist: Joni Mitchell
Album: Both Sides Now
Year: 2000
Title: At Last

You're My Thrill

You're My Thrill

(Words By Sidney Clare; Music By Jay Gorney)

You're my thrill
You do something to me
You send chills right through me
When I look at you
'Cause you're my thrill

You're my thrill
How my pulse increases
I just go to pieces
Every time I look at you
I can't keep still

Nothing seems to matter
Here's my heart on a silver platter
Oh where is my will
Why this strange desire
Flaming higher and higher
Every time I look at you
I can't keep still
You're my thrill

Oh where's my will
Why this strange desire
Flaming higher and higher
Every time I look at you
I can't keep still
Oh you're my thrill

Artist: Joni Mitchell
Album: Both Sides Now
Year: 2000
Title: You're My Thrill

Ray's Dad's Cadillac

Ray's Dad's Cadillac

Ray's Dad's Cadillac
Rollin' past the rink
Past the record shack
Pink fins in the falling rain
To the blue lights past the water mains

Ray's Dad's Cadillac
Weekends we'd get
Ray's Dad's Cadillac
Rock 'n roll in the dashboard
Romance in the back of
Ray's Dad's Cadillac

Ray's dad teaches math
I'm a dunce
I'm a decimal in his class
Last night's kisses won't erase
I just can't keep the numbers in their place

Ray's Dad's Cadillac
Last night we had
Ray's Dad's Cadillac
Rock 'n roll in the dashboard
Romance in the back of
Ray's Dad's Cadillac

When it comes to mathematics
I got static in the attic
"No sir, nothin's clear!"
I'll be blackboard blind on Monday
Dreamin' of blue runways
On the edge of here
A little atmosphere

Blue lights out on airport road
Motown, in a field in a farmer's grove
Big planes comin' overhead
You can see the bolts
You can see the tire treads

Ray's Dad's Cadillac
Weekends we'd get
Ray's Dad's Cadillac
Oh, little darlin'
Rock 'n roll in the dashboard
Romance in the back of
Ray's Dad's Cadillac

Ray's Dad's Cadillac
Ray's Dad's Cadillac
Ray's Dad's Cadillac

Artist: Joni Mitchell
Album: Songs Of A Prairie Girl
Year: 2005
Title: Ray's Dad's Cadillac

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cherokee Louise

Cherokee Louise

Cherokee Louise is hiding in this tunnel
In the Broadway bridge
We're crawling on our knees
We've got flashlights and batteries
We've got cold cuts from the fridge

Last year about this time
We used to climb up in the branches
Just to sway there in some breeze
Now the cops on the street
They want Cherokee Louise

People like to talk
Tongues are waggin' over fences
Waggin' over phones
All their doors are locked
God she can't even come to our house
But I know where she'll go

To the place where you can stand
And press your hands like it was bubblebath
In dust piled high as me
Down under the street
My friend
Poor Cherokee Louise

Ever since we turned 13
It's like a minefield
Walking to the door
Going out you get the 3rd degree
And comin' in you get the 3rd world war

Tuesday after school
We put our pennies on the rails
And when the train went by
We were jumpin' round like fools
Goin' "Look no heads or tails"
Goin' "Look my lucky prize"

She runs home to her foster dad
He opens up a zipper
And he yanks her to her knees
Oh please be here-please
My friend
Poor Cherokee Louise

Cherokee Louise is hiding in this tunnel
In the Broadway bridge
We're crawling on our knees
We've got Archie and Silver Screen
I know where she is

The place where you can stand
And press your hand like it was bubblebath
In dust piled high as me
Down under the street
My friend
Poor Cherokee Louise
Oh Cherokee Louise

Artist: Joni Mitchell
Album: Songs Of A Prairie Girl
Year: 2005
Title: Cherokee Louise

Urge For Going

Painting by Joan Healey

Urge For Going

I awoke today and found the frost
perched on the town
It hovered in a frozen sky,
then it gobbled summer down
When the sun turns traitor cold
And shivering trees are standing in a naked row
I get the urge for going but I never seem to go

I get the urge for going
When the meadow grass is turning brown
Summertime is falling down
and winter is closing in

I had me a man in summertime
He had summer-colored skin
And not another girl in town
My darling's heart could win
But when the leaves fell trembling down
Bully winds did rub their faces in the snow
He got the urge for going And I had to let him go

He got the urge for going
When the meadow grass was turning brown
Summertime was falling down
and winter was closing in

The warriors of winter they gave
a cold triumphant shout
And all that stays is dying
and all that lives is getting out
See the geese in chevron flight flapping
and racing on before the snow
They've got the urge for going,
they've got the wings to go

They get the urge for going
When the meadow grass is turning brown
Summertime is falling down
and winter is closing in

I'll ply the fire with kindling
and pull the blankets to my chin
And I'll lock the vagrant winter out
and bolt my wandering in
I'd like to call back summertime
and have her stay jut another month or so
She's got the urge for going
and I guess she'll have to go

And she get the urge for going
when meadow grass is turning brown
All her empires are falling down
Winter's closing in

Artist: Joni Mitchell
Album: Songs Of A Prairie Girl
Year: 2005
Title: Urge For Going



If you can keep your head
While all about you
People are losing theirs and blaming you
If you can trust yourself
When everybody doubts you
And make allowance for their doubting too.

If you can wait
And not get tired of waiting
And when lied about
Stand tall
Don't deal in lies
And when hated
Don't give in to hating back
Don't need to look so good
Don't need to talk too wise.

If you can dream
And not make dreams your master
If you can think
And not make intellect your game
If you can meet
With triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same

If you can force your heart
And nerve and sinew
To serve you
After all of them are gone
And so hold on
When there is nothing in you
Nothing but the will
That's telling you to hold on!
Hold on!

If you can bear to hear
The truth you've spoken
Twisted and misconstrued
By some smug fool
Or watch your life''s work
Torn apart and broken down
And still stoop to build again
With worn out tools.

If you can draw a crowd
And keep your virtue
Or walk with Kings
And keep the common touch
If neither enemies nor loving friends
Can hurt you
If everybody counts with you
But none too much.

If you can fill the journey
Of a minute
With sixty seconds worth of wonder and delight
The Earth is yours
And Everything that's in it
But more than that
I know
You'll be alright
You'll be alright.

Cause you've got the fight
You've got the insight
You've got the fight
You've got the insight

Artist: Joni Mitchell
Album: Shine
Year: 2007
Title: If

Strong and Wrong

Strong And Wrong

Strong and wrong you win--
Only because
That's the way its always been.
Men love war!
That's what history' s for.
A mass--murder mystery...
His story

Strong and wrong
You lose everything
Without the heart
You need
To hear a robin sing
Where have all the songbirds gone?
All I hear are crows in flight
Singing might is right
Might is right!

Oh the dawn of man comes slow
Thousands of years
And here we are...
Still worshiping
Our own ego

Strong and wrong
What is God's will?
Onward Christian soldiers...
Or thou shall not kill...
Men love war!
Is that what God is for?
Just a Rabbit's foot?
Just a lucky paw
For shock and awe?
Shock and awe!

The dawn of man comes slow
Thousands of years
Here we are
Still worshiping
Our own ego
Strong and Wrong!
Strong and Wrong!

Artist: Joni Mitchell
Album: Shine
Year: 2007
Title: Strong And Wrong

Night of the Iguana

Richard Burton

Night Of The Iguana

The tour bus came yesterday
The driver's a mess today
It's a dump of a destiny
But it's got a view...
Now the kid in the see-through blouse
Is moving in hard on his holy vows...
Since the preacher's not dead
Dead drunk will have to do!

Night of the iguana
The jasmine is so mercilessly sweet
Night of the iguana
Can you hear the castanets?
The widow is dancing
Down on the beach

The starlight is steaming
He'd like to be dreaming
His senses are screaming
Not to be denied...
But if the spell of the night should win
He could lose his bus
For the same sweet sin
That took his church from him
Then how will he survive?

Night of the iguana
The jasmine is so mercilessly sweet
Night of the iguana
Can you hear the castanets?
It's the widow and her lover-boys
Down on the beach

The night is so fragrant
These women so flagrant
They could make him a vagrant
With the flick of a shawl.
The devil's in sweet sixteen
The widow's good looking but she gets mean
He's burning like Augustine
With no help from God at all

Joni Mitchell.........from SHINE 2007

Bad Dreams

Bad Dreams

The cats are in the flower bed
A red hawk rides the sky
I guess I should be happy
Just to be alive...
But we have poisoned everything
And oblivious to it all
The cell phone zombies babble
Through the shopping malls
While condors fall from Indian skies
Whales beach and die in sand...
Bad dreams are good
In the great plan.

You cannot be trusted
Do you even know you're lying
It's dangerous to kid yourself
You go deaf and dumb and blind.
You take with such entitlement.
You give bad attitude.
You have no grace
No empathy
No gratitude

You have no sense of consequence
Oh my head is in my hands...
Bad dreams are good
In the great plan.

Before that altering apple
We were one with everything
No sense of self and other
No self-consciousness.
But now we have to grapple
With our man-made world backfiring
Keeping one eye on our brother's deadly selfishness.

And everyone's a victim!
Nobody's hands are clean.
There's so very little left of wild Eden Earth
So near the jaws of our machines.
We live in these electric scabs.
These lesions once were lakes.
No one knows how to shoulder the blame
Or learn from past mistakes...
So who will come to save the day?
Mighty Mouse?
Bad dreams are good in the great plan.

Joni Mitchell............from SHINE 2007



Hana steps out of a storm
Into a stranger's warm, but
Hard-up kitchen.
She sees what must be done
So she takes off her coat
Rolls up her sleeves
And starts pitchin' in.

Hana has a special knack
For getting people back on the right track
'Cause she knows
They all matter
So she doesn't argue or flatter
She doesn't fight the slights
She takes it on the chin
Like a champ

Hana says when life's a drag
Don't cave in
Don't put up a white flag
Raise up
A white banner
In this manner-
Straighten your back
Dig in your heals
And get a good grip on your grief!

Hana says, "Don't get me wrong
This is no simple Sunday song
Where God or Jesus comes along
And they save ya."
You've got to be braver than that
You tackle the beast alone
With all its tenacious teeth!
Light the lamp.

Joni Mitchell...........from SHINE 2007

If I Had a Heart

If I Had A Heart

Holy war
Hate and cruelty...
How can this be holy?
If I had a heart I'd cry.

These ancient tales...
The good go to heaven
And the wicked ones burn in hell...
Ring the funeral bells!
If I had a heart I'd cry.

There's just too many people now
Too little land
Much too much desire
You feel so feeble now
It's so out of hand
Big bombs and barbed wire
We've set our lovely sky
Our lovely sky
On fire!

There's just too many people now
And too little land
Too much rage and desire
It makes you feel so feeble now
It's so out of hand-
Big bombs and barbed wire...
Can't you see
Our destiny?
We are making this Earth
Our funeral pyre!

Holy Earth
How can we heal you?
We cover you like a blight...
Strange birds of appetite...
If I had a heart I'd cry.
If I had a heart I'd cry.
If I had a heart I'd cry.

Joni Mitchell.........from SHINE 2007

This Place

This Place :

Sparkle on the ocean
Eagle at the top of a tree
Those crazy crows always making a commotion
This land is home to me.

I was talking to my neighbor
He said, "When I get to heaven,
if it is not like this,
I'll just hop a cloud
and I'm coming right back down here
Back to this heavenly bliss."

You see those lovely hills
They won't be there for long
They're gonna tear 'em down
And sell them to California
Here come the toxic spills
Miners poking all around
When this place looks like a moonscape
Don't say I didn't warn ya...

Money, money, money...
Money makes the trees come down
It makes mountains into molehills
Big money kicks the wide wide world around.

Black bear in the orchard
At night he's in my garbage cans
He's getting so bold but no one wants to shoot him
He's got a right to roam this land.

I feel like Geronimo
I used to be as trusting as Cochise
But the white eyes lies
He's out of whack with nature
And look how far his weapons reach!

Spirit of the water
Give us all the courage and the grace
To make genius of this tragedy unfolding
The genius to save this place.

Joni Mitchell.......from SHINE 2007

Renee Zellweger Said

Being horrible in a big film is a quicker nosedive than doing an obscure film and making no money.
Renee Zellweger

Deep down, I'm a Texas girl looking for that big romance every girl dreams about. Biologically, I look forward to being a cornerstone of a family. I'll be in my glory when I have a child on my knee.
Renee Zellweger

I believe in love, but I don't sit around waiting for it. I buy houses.
Renee Zellweger

I remember just lying in the grass, staring at the clouds, wondering where they drifted off to after they floated over Texas. I never would have imagined that one day I would follow one of those clouds and find myself in Hollywood.
Renee Zellweger

I still feel like I've crashed the party.
Renee Zellweger

Once you've reached the point where you can pay rent, you can go to the vet and you can go to the grocery store, after that point it's all the same. I don't have the appetite for a decadent lifestyle.
Renee Zellweger

Throughout our courtship, Kenny told me that he had proof that Saddam Hussein was a threat because he possessed weapons of mass destruction. I told him, 'You had me at weapons.'
Renee Zellweger

Moon Unit Zappa Speaks

Every job I've ever gotten has been an accident. All the jobs I actually go after, I don't get.
Moon Unit Zappa

Gag me with a spoon!
Moon Unit Zappa

How strange, when your father's wearing women's clothes and platform shoes, that a pair of loafers looks incredible.
Moon Unit Zappa

I didn't have any concept of age or authority. I remember realising, Oh, the world has rules and we don't.
Moon Unit Zappa

I don't want to lose my name because that's how I know myself. There is a legacy here.
Moon Unit Zappa

I grew up with too much freedom. You can't define yourself.
Moon Unit Zappa

I had a friend whose family had dinner together. The mother would tuck you in at night and make breakfast in the morning. They even had a spare bike for a friend. It just seemed so amazing to me.
Moon Unit Zappa

I have a tree man coming to trim the jacaranda in my front garden.
Moon Unit Zappa

I like to think of myself as a New Yorker, which is pathetic.
Moon Unit Zappa

I made enough money to buy a house. That's crazy, but fame proved ephemeral.
Moon Unit Zappa

I peaked early. I was told I'd missed my boat.
Moon Unit Zappa

I should just drive around this city and take photos of all the buildings I've been humiliated in.
Moon Unit Zappa

I spent most of my life locked in my bedroom, miserable about my raging acne.
Moon Unit Zappa

I think I have a dark view of the world. I have to make everything funny, otherwise it all seems so sad.
Moon Unit Zappa

I would think: Stay close to the implants! They must know something because they keep getting asked backstage!
Moon Unit Zappa

I'm totally convinced I can write the perfect pop song.
Moon Unit Zappa

I've got a new relationship and I'm trapped in this old life.
Moon Unit Zappa

If there's anything more mortifying than being famous at 14, it's being washed up right after.
Moon Unit Zappa

It occurred to me, when I was old enough to make rules of my own, that they should be fair and simple.
Moon Unit Zappa

My Dad was so open creatively that I was off in search of black turtleneck bathing suits with long sleeves.
Moon Unit Zappa

Life, Poetry, and Barf: The Poetics of Eileen Myles

Life, Poetry and Barf--the Poetics of Eileen Myles

By Bobby Byrd

"I bought a refrigerator the other day, the first refrigerator I have ever bought in my life and the man in the store, Gringer’s on First Avenue, asked me what I do and I said I’m a poet. Let’s hear one he said. I balked, maybe feeling a little cheesy, you know like I should entertain him while I’m buying a refrigerator, like those cab drivers or waiters who flirt with women while they work, so that you’re reminded that you’re never really a customer, you’re always just a women, or a poet. I recited one--not well--I kind of stuttered. It was short. He looked at me blankly. Do you want to hear it again, I asked. No. I think that one went over my head he said, and turned his attention to the next customer."

Her poems wander. They like to wander because her mind wanders. Her poems pay attention to her mind wandering. She gets up in the morning and goes outside. Just like the rest of us. Our bodies are working. We know because we are breathing the air. What kind of news is this? In one essay presumably about poetics but probably more about life Eileen insinuates that every day is like barf because it just happens. Like barf happens. We are not in control when we barf. That includes you, dear reader. You just sit back and suffer and watch or you enjoy and watch or you just don’t pay attention. Eileen pays attention. And she writes poems. She wants her poetics to reflect how her day happens. She wants her poetics to reflect how she pays attention. It’s a subversive message. How a day in her life, like every day in her life, can be like barf. She gets distracted. A poem can follow along. That’s its job, that’s the poet’s job. She is an open door. It shuts and closes. She is outside, she goes back inside. She is awake, she goes to sleep. She is a function of the universe. She breathes, she eats, she shits, she makes love, she writes poems, she gets happy, she gets sad, she lives in New York City, sometimes she lives elsewhere. We are all a piece of the universe. We are all a piece of the same cloth. It’s empty, it’s not empty. Yes, yes, I know she is a lesbian. Let me tell you--she was a lesbian before everybody else was a lesbian. Do you know what I mean? In 1992 she came to El Paso. She was running for President of the United States. She thought it was important that a lesbian poet who looked and talked like a Kennedy should run for President of the United States. It was the thing to do. It was the moment to do it. It just happened. Part of her platform was to celebrate her dog Rosie, a pit bull. Very un-PC, even in 1992. Rosie is dead now, but she was a wonderful happy dog, and Eileen loved her dearly. Eileen believed that a lesbian poet in the White House required a well-adjusted and contented pit bull. The world would be set straight. In a poetics sort of way. But I digress. Like Eileen digresses. So she and Debbie Nathan went across the river and walked down to the concrete ditch that people still call the Rio Grande. They carried with them a bucket of red paint and big brushes and they wrote in big red letters: EILEEN MYLES FOR PRESIDENT. She was running against Bill Clinton, the first George Bush and Ross Perot. It was not even close.

"See a poem is a tiny institution. I just write lots and lots of them, and it gives me a way to be in the world. It’s actually a very worldly job, there really isn’t a wrong place to be, a poet kind of goes with anything, any kind of decor, indoor, out. Presidents like to have poets next to them, we’re sort of like a speaking wreath, the kind of poet you pick tells the kind of president you are, the hell of dating or marrying a poet is that certainly we will write about you, so if you don’t want to be seen, don’t date a poet, anyone should know that. Because really a poet has nothing better to do than look at you. A poet’s best friend is her dog, because instantly the dog will take the poet on walks, the poet is like the earth’s shadow. The sun moves and the poet writes something down."

So when Eileen ran for President, I didn’t vote for her. Did you? Debbie probably didn’t vote for her either. Debbie doesn’t vote. It’s an ideological thing. I’m sure Eileen voted for herself. She’s solid and real that way. She’s a very substantial person. My growing up poet friend Harvey Goldner would have voted for her except I don’t think the Eileen Myles for President campaign knocked on many doors in Seattle. Like Rosie the dog, Harvey is dead now. He voted for Bill Clinton in 1992. He liked him because Bill was from the south like us. Harvey laughed when he thought about Bill’s white chubby thighs chugging down Pennsylvania Avenue in search of manhood or a MacDonald’s. Whatever came first. Back then Harvey was driving a cab and working some in the psych ward of the public hospital. He was busy becoming a legendary underground and unknown street poet. Ten years before that he turned himself into a detox unit and dried out. He had been an alcoholic since probably both of us were 15 together in 1957 listening to James Brown and Bobby Blue Bland and Jimmy Reed in Memphis, Tennessee. I told this to Eileen once. She said 1982 was the year she went on the wagon. She too had been an alcoholic. 1982 must have been a good year for poets, she said. Harvey told me about his terrible DTs that he suffered through. He was curled up in a corner of his room. He was afraid. The door was locked. It was really a cell. Every time he looked up and peered into the darkness he saw way out in the distance a giant wheel of light coming toward him. It was pure light, it was pure energy, it was terrifying. It chewed up everything--men, women, babies, high school basketball players, lovers, houses, automobiles, trees, mountains, even the sun. It mangled them up and swallowed them whole. It horrified him. He wanted to get drunk and forget all about the wheel of light. But Harvey knew it was over, his drinking, because he had been privileged to see the wheel of light churning toward him. He had been blessed. I thought about this story when I decided to write this piece about Eileen’s poetics. She doesn’t let us forget the wheel of light rumbling down the road toward us. Her poetics are subversive that way. I know I said that already but I don’t want you to forget. She does this in an off-hand fashion, a conversational way. You’re being had. Especially if you think you’re cool. Take me for instance. I think I’m cool. I read Eileen’s poem and her prose all the time and at first they taste like candy I’m enjoying them so much. I want to call up my friends. And then she pushes me into different places I’ve never been before, places I don’t want to be, thinking about things I’ve never thought about before. Places where maybe I don’t belong. She’s a woman, she’s a lesbian, I’m a man, I have a family, grandkids even. How can I understand? I am uncomfortable. Unsure of myself. But there I am listening and watching. It’s like she’s talking to me. That’s okay, she says. Sit there and watch and listen. You’ll be happy you did. And then she’ll say something offhand like that little story about buying the refrigerator. It seems so inconsequential, so silly even, but thinking about it I realize the story is very serious, very real and substantial, like she is, like her poetics (how could it be otherwise) and I understand perfectly. this:

"Once my girlfriend moved to Paris, like 1986, and I took her to the airport. Then I got on the train and went home. It was a big deal but I wasn’t upset. I walked into the bathroom and began shitting and puking at once. I felt like a worm. Like there was no difference between me—and anything. It was just this force flowing through me. Loss. I must be feeling bad I thought, sitting on the can leaning into the sink."


The excerpts in this piece are from a commencement address that Eileen gave at Hamshire College, 1998. The “barf” references are from her essay “Everyday Barf” that concludes her book SORRY, TREE (Wave Books, 2007). Billy Sullivan did the portrait of Eileen. You can learn more about Eileen and her work and listen to her read poems at her two websites at and

Bobby Byrd

Posted over on BOBBY BYRD , A terrific place to read about poetry, poetics, and poets, written by a singular voice, outspoken, focused, spontaneous, randy, in-your-face, and right on. Oh, and remember one can find a lot of Harvey's poetry here on my site if you look for it.


Backyard B-17 & 450 Bucks

Backyard B-17 & 450 Bucks

Twit-ku 2.5

The back yard clean up operation
creeps it's unsteady pace

and a B-17 flies overhead.
450 bucks for a 20 minute ride.

Notice the gong on the right.
Notice the chipper covered in a white tarp.

That chipper may get some workout
this afternoon.

Sharp eyed viewers may notice
the disappearance of one more pile.

Doug Palmer April 2009
Originally posted over on Feel Free To Laugh

**If less is more in Twitter terms, what is more?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Charleton Heston Westerns

Charlton Heston (October 4, 1923 – April 5, 2008)was an American actor of film, theater and television.

Heston is known for having played heroic roles, such as Moses in The Ten Commandments, Colonel George Taylor in Planet of the Apes, Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar in El Cid, and Judah Ben-Hur in Ben-Hur, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor. In the 1950s and 1960s he was one of a handful of Hollywood actors to speak openly against racism and was an active supporter of the Civil Rights Movement. Initially a moderate Democrat, he later supported conservative politics and was president of the National Rifle Association from 1998 to 2003

He appeared in 127 films, not counting PEER GYNT, an amateur film he did in high school in 1941. Out of this 50+ years of career he appeared in 12 westerns, many of them in the 1950's. Long and lanky, he rode a horse well, and used firearms with proficency. His Westerns were:

WILL PENNY (1968) My personal favorite.