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poem for dolores

Poem For Dolores   The worst part of grieving is waking up the next morning and they’re still gone, your love, your friend, your ambitions, your ideals. And that still, in the little house beside the stream, in the penthouse looking down into the the cities’ maw, in the trailer that rattles in the wind, still, you have to get up and make fucking breakfast and the breakfast tastes stupid because breakfast is stupid, more of the ubiquity of living, it all happens here and most of what happens isn’t worth a shit.   But really the worst part of grieving is waking up weeks later and forgetting that they’re still gone and you’ve had breakfast and read the paper and are on your way to work before you realize your grief is slipping away like everything else, back into the stream, into the city crumbling, into the wind and all that the wind carries away.

Things I Find Beautiful Today

…compassion, that certain Slant of light, the sound of ocean waves (especially at night), the taste of metal, pixie haircuts, well-informed people arguing to consensus, mushrooms, thunder, Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn speaking to one another, Fernando Rey diving into the latrine in Seven Beauties, scissors, home runs that hit the foul pole, nil-nil draws, old televisions imploding, necks, the poems of R.S. Thomas, the smell of cut grass, broken teapots, A Death in the Family, my wife trying to figure something out, seedlings, wheelchair lifts on buses, birdshit that’s turned pearly blue, vines on the abandoned house across the street working their way through an upstairs window. CDs listened to recently: 554) Suba: Sao Paolo Confessions; 555) Mandrill: The Best of; 556) Buffalo Road: Through the Sun; 557) Southern Culture on the Skids: For Lovers Only; 558) DJ Vadim: USSR: The Art of Listening; 559) Swervedriver: 99th Dream; 560) Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares: Vol 2; 561) Moloko: Do You Like My Tight Sweater?

Publishing Conundrum, Help Requested

A friend and I have been bantering about the state of publishing in general (and literary and young adult publishing in particular), thereby crystallizing, for me, a bundle of questions I need to think through. First among them is, why do I want the books I write to be published? Other questions branch off that one: what do I want a publisher to provide? Who do I want to reach with my writing? Do I care about prestige and awards and recognition? My production and distribution ethos, as distinct from my artistic ethos, is based on the punk/DIY, mimeographed and stapled world of the 1970’s and 80’s. If you wanted to have a concert, you found a room and put on a concert, if you wanted to make a record, you made a record, and so too with magazines, books, and so forth. Quickly enough, sympathetic people began distribution networks, then other people smelled money and co-opted the same, but the premise was always that art was local and anyone could do it. This meant lots of people made bad art, but so what, people always make lots of bad art, some of it just has more slick packaging. So,…
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Describing Utopia

I posted this a while back on Facebook, but I want to have it up here too, so: W. H. Auden included the following questionnaire in his book of essays, The Dyer’s Hand. It’s meant to make potential critics think about what sort of Eden (his term) they envision; I prefer “Utopia,” but the point is the same. So: describe the following characteristics of your Utopia: >>>Landscape A very steep mountainous region sloping downward through a wide plain, leading to the ocean. Marshes on one side of the plain, forest of Redwoods on the other. Plenty of streams and rocky bits throughout. The ocean region should have one pristine beach and one very deep harbor, otherwise cliffs and crags. >>>Climate 2 Months of winter (Dec/Jan), including at least 1 heavy snowstorm that makes everyone have to stay home and drink cocoa. 3 months of summer, including at least 1 blazingly hot day that makes everyone have to snooze and drink lemonade. Spring and Fall should be pleasant, something like the Mid-Atlantic US or southern Europe. The occasional roaring thunderstorm. >>>Ethnic Origin of Inhabitants As varied as possible, including the search for new genetic material in outer space. >>>Language All local…
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Stuffs and Things

I’m exhausted with coverage of the Republican party flaming out in the US, and I don’t even watch TV. It does seem clear we are witnessing the death rattle of the GOP, hence all the coverage of conservative heads discussing what bulbous phoenix will rise from the ashes… and like I said, I don’t even watch TV, or listen to the radio much, but I get enough out of the corner of my ear to put it all together. Then again, I don’t care: not about Republicanism, whether or not there need be such a counterweight to what Democrats and progressives propose is a topic for another day. It’s the coverage I’m sick of, it’s tawdry at best, and downright depressing in a worry-about-the-fate-of-the-species manner. But, it’s in the air, so to speak, and that’s my excuse for thinking about media coverage of the Republican primaries, circa 2012, when reading this tidbit: the motion performed by us in consequence of irritation, are owing to the original constitution of our frame, whence the soul or sentient principle, immediately, and without any previous ratiocination, endeavors by all means, and in the most effectual manner, to avoid and get rid of every disagreeable…
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Charles Potts: Inside Idaho

For a few years, at the tail end of graduate school and the nose end of my post-graduate life, I wrote many reviews and essays about poetry, most of them very critical, some of them snarky, some even caustic. I’m not sure now why I chose to write that way, other than the books I was reading really did leave me feeling dry and uninspired, but soon enough the job of trashing even poems that I genuinely loathed became a chore. So, I stopped, but lately I have again felt the urge to write about poetry, instead of just writing poetry, to find some contemporary poets whose work I can dive into, read deeply, and learn something from. My only agenda is to try and stay away from the standard reviewers tool box: no poetic genealogies (unless absolutely necessary), no armchair psychology, no breathless-but-nonsensical praise; even if I dislike a certain kind of poetry, I will at least try to learn to read and judge it on its own terms. Then again, I might have another agenda, one (or more) that I’ve hidden from myself, and at least one goal of this project will be to investigate my own preferences…
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Oh Lordy…

I’ve been naughty, Santa, I have gotten so very behind listing all the CDs I’ve listened to, there are piles of them beside the computer… to recap, I am trying to listen to every CD I own, which is many, so here’s the latest batch. Sorry, Santa, don’t bring me that bottle of Scotch I asked for. No, actually, bring that, just keep the pipe cutter: 501) Dirty Three: Horse Stories; 502) Big Jack Johnson: Daddy, When is Mommie Comin Home?; 503) Funkadelic: Standing On the Verge of Getting it On; 504) Squirrel Nut Zippers: Hot; 505) A Camp: A Camp (has grown on me); 506) The Pretenders: The Singles; 507) Peter Tosh: Legalize It; 508) The Kinks: Arthur (or, The Decline and Fall of the British Empire); 509) The Stranglers: Black and White (lovely, thanks); 510) Mercury Rev: See You On The Other Side; 511) Emmylou Harris: Red Dirt Girl; 512) Brooklyn Funk Essantials: In the Buzzbag; 513) Darren Hanlon: Little Chills; 514) The Amazing Royal Crowns: The Amazing Royal Crowns; 515) Tom Waits: Heartattack and Vine (old Waits or new Waits? Cold pizza or hot pizza?); 516) Dead Kennedys: Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables; 517) Cowboy Junkies: One…
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Unmutual

…I was watching The Prisoner, cool as kitsch SciFi paranoia show from the 1960’s, and one that I remember was on my local PBS station when I was a kid, when I was struck by the idea that totalitarian nightmares are not a popular trope in Science Fiction these days. In the episode we watched, #6 had his aggressiveness “removed” by some kind of medical/brainwashing process–ok, he didn’t really, he was just faking, as is #6’s wont, but of course that’s also the premise of Clockwork Orange, that medical removal of aggressiveness is a crime against humanity. It also brought to mind Stanislaw Lem’s Memoir Found in a Bathtub, which, aside from the apocalyptic agent (a virus that eats paper, well, eats all the paper, and the world collapses into anarchy), is fabulously scary and paranoid.  But Bathub is unlikely to get made into a movie anytime soon, because totalitarianism no longer threatens people the way it did when the Cold War was a primary existential frame, and corporate power is too non-ideological. All of which is not remotely enough to make me yearn for the Cold War, but it does make me think about ways a more insidious, creeping…
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Dogs Dream of Dogs

I just finished re-reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night, though the last time I read it was 20+ years ago, so there wasn’t much “re-“ in the re-reading. I remembered Dick finding out Abe North died, and I remembered the “crazy” passages that were supposed to be Nicole’s stream-of consciousness… and then I was stunned to discover, on the last page, that Dick’s exile to the U.S. included a long stay in Lockport, of all places. I’m fairly sure I didn’t even know where Lockport was 20+ years ago, and now I live here. So. The page after the book’s ending, the author bio page, indicated that Fitzgerald earned enough writing that he not only lived well, but lived very well, traipsing around Europe, following the moveable feast around. The idea that one could make a living at all as a novelist, as any kind of artist, always gives me a twinge—I’m jealous, because I have had to work at other things all my life on order to have the time and space to make art. Then the feeling fades, quickly, as I realize how necessary all that other work is to me as an artist and human…
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Reading Cowper on the Beach

I went to the beach twice this year, once to Destin, FL, for a friend’s wedding, and once to Rockport, MA, just because. And that’s the part that still confuses me a bit, the “just because,” the raison de la plage, and not just the reason for the beach, but for vacations in which doing nothing is the goal. Vacations crammed with activities are equally puzzling, and the reason they confuse me has to do with what they are vacations from. If I am following correctly, the message is this: most people’s lives–your life, sayeth the adverts–are stress-filled dashes along the edge of an emotional precipice, and we need to either spend a week or two each year being vegetative, or a week or two consuming as many “fun” activities as possible. A blend of the two is optimal for some people, a morning laying in the sun, reading trashy novels, followed by lunch at some over priced and over decorated joint, followed by jetskiing, then dinner, then dancing in a schmaltzy disco so everyone else can watch you dance while you watch them dance, then…. the activities are another way of becoming vegetative, of course, but don’t most people spend a…
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