I have watched the shadow of the crow,a Roman omen,cross my shaking hand,an enigma even for us to read,a crowsfoot scribble--when I was with my friend,I never knew that I had hands.A man without a wifeis like a turtle without a shell--
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Some closing of the gates is inevitable after thirty, if the mind itself is to become a creative power.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Course 1: honeydew melon and prosciutto, sparkling ciderCourse 2: lobster, butter sauce, sparkling ciderCourse 3: tomato and mozzarella salad, sparkling ciderCourse 4: lime meringue pie, green tea
There’s no denying him
announced the old lady at Bud’s Shop ’n Save,
grabbing your father’s coat sleeve, eyeing you
up and down like post-office criminals.
Flat cheekbones, shock of hair, same aloof,
thin-hipped stride, same touch-me-not scowl:
six years old, already the masked man.
What have I done to deserve lover and son
so beautiful, both remote as trout in green shallows?
I fritter my squirrel antics on the bank, swing
head-first from a cedar bough: Notice me, notice me!
You cock his cool stare and flit into shadow, my slippery fish.
But dangle the lure, the words—
up you flash, sun bronzing your quick scales.
“Away went Alice like the wind!” you cry; “In Lear I love the Fool!”
Feathers sprout from my worldly paws, your gills suckle air.
New born, we flee open-eyed into the east,
bright wingbeats carving cloud, below us the unfolding sea—
white chop, clean spray.
You know the story.
[forthcoming in How the Crimes Happened (CavanKerry Press, 2010)].
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
from Autumn FugueJoe BoltonThere was something greater to the sadnessThan simply the going away of your lover,Or even our own past failure at love.What sadness there was carried with it the weightOf something intensely formal, and which would notBe overcome by anything so commonplace.from Sheep in FogSylvia PlathThe hills step off into whiteness.People or starsRegard me sadly, I disappoint them.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
“Is it true?—is it really true? Is Barry
huge back east?” begs the twelve-year-old
girl in the “Barry” hat answering the knock
of an earnestly hungover Greenpeace canvasser
originally planning to tap into his standard
manifesto on harp seals, Monsanto, and the awesome
bullying powers of the Rainbow Warrior; now trapped,
thunderstruck and tongue-tied, on this freezing
doorstep in Edina, Minnesota, overcome by vibrations
that might be the fault of last night’s tequila
but feel like a fireworks blast of unsubstantiated news:
a vision of the northeast decked out as Gargantua’s
Copa, rhinestones glittering from fire escapes, golden
showgirls high-stepping through glitter-lit trails in the dirty
snow; and there, rubbing shoulders with the Empire State
like a smooth King Kong, it’s Barry the Man himself,
stretching forth a slim white hand, tossing his shiny hair,
ready to belt out the song that makes the whole world sing,
even, for a second, this part-time do-gooder
emerging from his daze on a stoop in Minnesota,
still primed to tell Barry’s little fan, “Hey,
Manilow’s the greatest; he’s a sensation everywhere!”
though he suspects the right thing to do
is to break the news that “this is the 80s, kid.
Punk rockers drink in the bar around the corner.
Get with the times”; and the truth is that “Mandy”
is, like, his least favorite song ever; so the question is,
What’s the spirit of Barry doing here, stuck in a time warp
on this grim suburban plain? No doubt, the girl could
explain it all; he’d like to plunk down on her shoveled steps
and let her show him exactly how the Barry magic
works; but something stops him, a sort of awkward
muzzling of wonder, like when smack in the middle
of a long wet kiss, you sneeze: and instantly
every trace of romance bursts like a blister
and the angel you’d been about to die for
tucks in her shirt and decides to go to class;
and what he ends up doing in Edina
is to rub his cold nose against his splintery
clipboard, scuff his Sandanista boots
on the Vikings welcome mat, and mutter,
“Uh, I don’t know. . . . Is your mom home?”
[forthcoming in How the Crimes Happened (CavanKerry Press, 2010)]
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
from the Wikipedia article about Joe Bolton
Bolton's work is regional in that the southern locales of the poems, his upbringing and education in Kentucky, and its rather southern gothic quality add a Faulkneresque quality that is absolutely authentic.
Bolton's long-lasting value, however, is not in his free-verse or regional influences, but rather, a quality that was fresh in his work and the by-product of his times, the 1980s. This "certain mixed-attitude toward life," as one critic described it, may be described as post-modern, or even late-Imperial American. If Bolton were writing in New York City, he might have been marked as an all-American poet, but Bolton extrapolated from the American South, not Whitmanic Brooklyn. Bolton was writing about the south, but really, America, and doing it with a vision more akin to punk-rock, sub-pop, and indie-rock than high-academia.
Perhaps this commentator has a point, but I'm not sure. Do those of us who grew up in the 80s uniquely possess a "mixed-attitude toward life"? I always kind of thought Shakespeare had one too.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
from PageReliance upon language was its undoing. . . .But someday it will be all that is left of me.Death bothers its margins like gulls along some shore.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
International Day for Climate Action
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2009
13 POETS & A CHEMIST
Reading for Carbon Reduction
The Poetry of Earth is never dead.
—John Keats, 1816
Program of Events
11:45 am Come early & meet the poets,
browse books, & enjoy live jazz:
12:15 pm Welcome, Kathleen Ellis, Coordinator, Story Room
Carbon Cycle: KATHLEEN ELLIS/chemist FRANÇOIS AMAR
12:20 pm CHERYL DAIGLE • CARL LITTLE
12:40 pm LEONORE HILDEBRANDT • HENRY BRAUN
1:00 pm LINDA BUCKMASTER • GARY LAWLESS
1:20 pm CANDICE STOVER • CHRISTIAN BARTER
1:40 pm KRISTEN LINDQUIST • ELIZABETH TIBBETTS
2:00 pm DAWN POTTER • JEFFREY THOMSON
2:30 pm Reception, book sales, & signings
Friday, October 16, 2009
from The Mill on the FlossGeorge Eliot[Maggie] turned away and hurried home, feeling that in the hour since she had trodden this road before, a new era had begun for her. The tissue of vague dreams must now get narrower and narrower, and all the threads of thought and emotion be gradually absorbed in the woof of her daily life.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
from the digital re-release of The Reckless Pedestrians Walk the Dog
1. Empty Bed Blues
We debuted in a dorm basement
painted dirt green,
with low ceilings and dollar beers.
All our songs were covers of Carpenters tunes
that the lead singer had learned in high school chorus.
We were trapped by the past—
the effervescent desires
of Casey Kasem,
the static buzz of AM radio.
What options did we have?
You hear folks bad-mouth the Carpenters,
but try to sing like Karen
if you’re a fat nineteen-year-old boy
with glasses and a narrow range.
Nothing works out the way you hope,
as we discovered that night,
the room emptying out fast, folding chairs
parked against the walls, blank as a bus station.
It was depressing,
but we’d read enough Kafka
to accept misfortune.
Confusion is chronic;
and anyway, only the Japanese
are doing Carpenters covers these days.
2. Seven Day Fool
In the eighties the natural place for a girl
in a band was on bass,
except if you were the Go-Gos.
We were past that Linda McCartney-and-Wings shit.
In our yellow-curtained apartment
we embraced our instruments like babies,
trying to force three chords
into the lush harmonies
of Burt Bacharach.
The cat yowled; neighbors quarrelled
far into the night. Only
when the drummer began fiddling
morosely with the zipper on Sticky Fingers
did the answer come to us,
the last notes of “Close to You” fading
swiftly into the forgotten past,
Mick Jagger’s threat to remove his trousers on stage
rising like a phoenix—oh, we were young,
and in love, and happy to take ours off too;
and we could play all the notes!
It was like seeing Rothko for the first time,
then turning to the nearest stranger
What the fuck have I been doing with my life?
3. Look What Thoughts Will Do
The guitarist stored a tattered copy
of On the Road in his case
and randomly read aloud from it
between sets. The bass player
toiled through every break;
her fingers toughened like a farmer’s,
while the guitarist, pacing,
intoned Kerouac at the ceiling:
“ . . . arc, pop out, brake in, run. . . .
Somewhere along the line the pearl. . . .
‘Terry,’ I pleaded with all my soul. . . . ”
The roadies kept quitting,
the bathrooms smelled like puke,
and even “Freebird” can get you down
on a rainy night in March,
far out in the Amish wasteland.
It was the gulag, but we were alive:
catching the last train to the city,
dropping our cases on the stairs,
rolling into bed at dawn
with the crows outside just starting
to quarrel and the garbage men
slamming their loads
in the tender morning light.
4. Love Is the Drug
And here we all send our thanks
to Jon Bon Jovi for his good advice
about shopping-mall acoustics,
which served us so well in the years
spent traveling from one Ground Round
to the next, bodies fueled by Coors
and dry yellow popcorn, fan club asleep
on the jukebox, the rest of us pounding out
ballads at two a.m. like this was the last
honkytonk on earth, fluorescent lights
faltering off one by one: bulldozers
could be moving in from the west
to destroy the place by morning,
and only electricity would save us—
AC bleeding through the wires,
guitar solos fervent as Jesus,
drummer hunched over, dripping with sweat,
and the lead singer taking off his glasses
to rub his eyes, calm and exalted,
like Socrates waiting for hemlock.
5. Baby Let’s Play House
Some say Walk the Dog is the worst album we ever made.
But intonation aside, this was a record about love:
the purest, most pop-driven kind—
four happy people in a band, kissing each others’ hands
on the train, waking up at noon,
eating cornflakes without milk and playing our record collection
in alphabetical order because that kind of asceticism
would make us great.
Listen to every Boston album, and you’ll soon learn
how much eleven-year-old boys crave beauty,
in whatever surreal form.
We had the big picture in our heads—
rock-and-roll as undergraduate abstraction:
life spent cheek to jowl,
the guitarist’s head in the drummer’s lap,
King Lear parked upside-down on a speaker,
unread, hissing and muttering under his breath,
all of us singing “Sweet Jane”
as if Lou Reed had written it with us in mind—
screeching so loud that the little girl next door
banged on the wall in ecstasy
while her parents, on their knees,
begged her to think hard, honey, and please,
please, remember where she’d hidden the Moped keys.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
The bus driver bites his nails, snatches at the top of his head, and now and again leans over to wildly shake out his left ear. More than once he mutters, “Friggin crap.” When the bus stalls out on the railroad tracks, he says, “Holy friggin crap.”
Across the aisle from me sleeps a very fat woman. According to her tote bag, her name is “Leslye.” When she got on the bus, the driver had to push her up the stairs from behind. Meanwhile, she laughed merrily.
The driver hasn’t said anything about friggin crap for five or ten miles. Maybe he feels better now that he has yelled at the Asian guy in the row behind me. “Stop talking on the phone, or you’re off this bus,” said the bus driver. “Somebody translate that for him.”
I eventually stopped taking notes, but bus and driver continued to behave badly. Fortunately we received a new mechanically sound bus in Boston. But it was also very crowded, and I had to sit behind the world's loudest kissers. They weren't exactly making out; it was more like frequent loud pecks, but each peck resembled a quick slurp of water going down a semi-clogged drain. This went on intermittently for 5 hours.