Monday, May 29, 2017

just found out via tom clark's blog that the poet larry fagin [1937 - 2017] died

fagin was profiled some years back in the magazine poets & writers [you can find the article on his website]

i admired fagin even tho i didn't know him personally, he was a handsome man, who lived a relatively long life on his terms

but the funny thing about age in the 21st century is that a septuagenarian is no longer thought of as an old person but in the time of yeats it was, yeats was the grand old man of letters

but age today is something else so when i look at photos of fagin i see, yes, an older man, but a vibrant, charismatic, good looking poet in love with the art of living, of poetry and the teaching of poetry

now that i'm getting up there in age too i can only hope to be as cool as larry fagin was in his relatively long life, who wrote poetry at the first intensity


Sunday, May 28, 2017

i am not presumptuous about my walking habit as being the art of the flaneur but i do have literary and artistic airs and my walking has become a necessity for my physical as well as my mental health

i do not own an iPhone either so when i walk i turn my attention to my surroundings, ambient sounds and sights, people and vehicles

not that everything has my attention because sometimes when i walk i am so far into my head i don't notice very much

but it is early summer and the weather is fine which means all the beautiful young, and not so young, people are outside which crowds the streets but makes for this literary walker and people watcher a tad more interesting environment

i love city streets and can walk on them all day and night, i recall a long evening a few years ago with a good friend walking the streets of san francisco, we started at union square and we traversed, it seemed, the length and the width of the city, stopping along the way for dinner at a down-home mexican restaurant, and window shopping at the geegaw shops in chinatown, we ended urban sojourn back at union square where we had a couple of beers at lefty o'doul's [closed up a couple months ago on account of the landlord wanting to charge even higher rents] that my brother from another mother jonathan hayes introduced me to the night before

and so it happened on friday morning i was walking to work when the traffic seemed to be stuck in the ninth circle of hell,  vehicles leapt upon me as i was crossing the streets like unleashed dogs, keeping me paranoid about crossing the next street just up ahead

speaking of dogs, i approached a young couple walking their doberman pincher, the woman was bent toward the patch of grass from which she was lifting a dog turd in her plastic bagged hand, but as i got closer the dog growled, barked, snapped and leapt toward me with such anger and hunger i nearly pissed my pants, the young man held firm to the pooch's leash and expressed an apology for which i said, de nada, even tho my hands and legs were wobbly

but that's not all, because on the next block it got even worse, i was in my head, thinking about the poem i had written the night before, the poem where the first text had been erased by my cat, noah, who danced on my keyboard as i stepped away from my laptop, when i head a crow caw above me, i wasn't thinking much about the caw since i see and hear crows, for they are a city bird, all the time, when i felt something swoosh by my left ear, WTF?, then another half block the crow was above my head in a tree, i saw it, i heard it, when it pulled a kamikaze sortie toward my head, again, and swooped past my left ear where i can feel the air rushing around the bird, that got my heart pumping, crows have enormously big and powerful beaks and claws

i felt like the ol' farmer seamus from the irish parable, seamus who is shunned by his children, whose wife left him, and whose crops always fail, seamus a pious man in a moment of doubt and pique asks god why he is made to suffers so, he is answered by a tear of thunder and lightning, then a giant forefinger hits seamus in the chest and pins him against the wall of his house, when a loud voice says, cuz I fookin' hate ya!

it was an odd day, all day, at work, but i managed thru it, and at the end i met up with my friend, the poet tim kahl, and others for our monthly get-together where we have a couple beers and share and critique our poems, what seemed like a curse ended in a celebration of poetry

if not a celebration of poetry then it was an example of living in poetry, all the bad that comes with it, and the good, for was it not the poet paul la fleur who said, being a poet is not writing a poem, it is finding a new way to live and for me, my way to live is expressed by writing and walking, one can exist without the other, but i've been walking for so long that i think of them as parts of the same whole

by which i mean i don't know how to end this essay except to say that life, like poetry, like walking, goes on until it doesn't, until it ends in death, and death happens to everyone and everything

i've said on more than one occasion that our chaos of transition, political and ecological, have left me unable to write for how can my verse be adequate to the task, in short, it is not up to the task, we are living in wonderful, and grim, times, but as a friend wrote me tonight you accept and acknowledge the horrible and you can still be an optimist, sounds like a contradiction, but life is like that too, so is poetry

i'll continue until i don't

Thursday, May 25, 2017

has this happened to you

you sit down to write a poem

you open the word program

you work for about an hour and get a decent text going

you step away from your computer for a minute to get some water another beer talk to your spouse etc etc

you come back to your computer and find it's locked

you have a devil of a time logging back on

because when you were gone your cat decided to do a little jig on your keyboard and switched the user interface

when you finally log back on you find your poem is now a mass text of xxxxxxs and gggggggs

and your poem is gone like tears in the rain while your cat is grinning if a cat can grin because you have to start again at the beginning

and you are seething like rambo wanting to draw first blood

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

quote unquote

translation fights cultural narcissism

--chris daniels

Thursday, May 18, 2017

anecdote on the education of the poet

scene: a sylvan moment.  the poet and his love interest are walking along the dirt path of the local woods.

and your education?  where did you go to college?
you went to oxford?!
                                I did something more important;
I was expelled from oxford! 


Friday, May 12, 2017

the leftovers: the saddest, the best show on TV right now

hitting the tail of fashion

i am not a trendy kind of bloke.  indeed, one could call me, alors!, a fuddy-duddy.  that's what nick says about me.  i wear the same shoes, the same jeans, the same work clothes.  i respond, cool is always in style.  but i'm not cool.  i'm light-years away from cool.

my late friend, the poet pearl stein selinsky, said that fashion is as important in culture as, well, anything else.  i agree.  i like a sort of academic louche punk rock touch.  i was just looking at photos of a favorite british poet who is in his early 60s, wears slacks, scarves and sport coats, rings on his fingers, and sports longish, messy grey hair.  something about this poet's ensemble that says to me bohemian and intellectual.

i prefer to wear my hair short.  in fact, i don't like how my hair sits on my head.  hell, i confess, i don't like the shape and size of my head.  so i use a lot of hair products on my hair to keep my hair in place.  i look at the photos of the poet described above and admire the dude's long locks.  i wish i could wear my hair like that.

and this morning on my way to work i passed a chap who could be my twin.  similar body shape and grey hair.  this dude was voluble and stopped to talk to a couple of people as i was walking behind him.  i noticed he had gold hoops in each ear.  he wore workman's clothes and held in his hand a construction helmet.  but those earrings looked, in the parlance of 1980s skaters, rad.

i have my left ear double pierced but i haven't worn a hoop since i was married.

sure, perhaps i'm revealing more my own fears and insecurities than anything else.  still, i think most of us have a style that we are attracted to.  and fashion, trendy and not, is how we present ourselves to ourselves and the world.

as james dickey, channeling charles baudelaire, said about fashion, mon frere!  a fellow phony!

but if fashion is phony, i posit that the construction of phoniness is a human construct.  even in bed i pose, wrote thom gunn, another fashion victim and fellow phony, with his leather jackets, biker boots, gold hoop and tattoo.  we have an innate need to pose and construct images of ourselves.  phoniness is real, and conditioned by our human being.

there are poetry anthologies on tattoos, sitcoms and computers.  i wonder if there is an anthology devoted to fashion.  but is there a need for such an anthology?  perhaps not, given that we are driven by our human nature to dress and redress ourselves in our own particular way.  

Thursday, May 11, 2017

bbc news coverage of nuclear war

this video is a fictional bbc news broadcast of the escalating tensions between NATO and russia that lead to full-blown nuclear war

this is fiction but the realistic details of the broadcast of the war will pucker your sphincter

watch till the end it will scare the shit out of you

Sunday, May 07, 2017

the rock

we as a family are trying to give more gifts of experience than of material things

one of those christmas gifts of experience was a day visiting the infamous federal prison and site of native american occupation in 1969 to 1971, alcatraz island

when you travel to san francisco it is very hard to miss alcatraz sitting in the middle of the bay a jewel among jewels

in fact this is the my third visit to the rock, the first time was when i was about 10 or so, the second time was when anna and i were brand new newlyweds

things change, e.g. when i was a little boy the tour of the prison was led by a docent and when you got to the isolation cells you were invited to step inside, the docent would close the door, and you would experience the cold darkness of the prisoners, i mean, i didn't step inside the isolation cells with the door closed, i was born a chicken, i will leave the earth a chicken

now, the tour is an audio led self-tour that is as much a story of the prison as it is a recreation of the actions and conditions of living and working on the island, the isolation cells are still available to step in to but the doors remain open and the prisoner narrating the hellish experience of being trapped inside without any light on the digital device hanging around your neck is still a chilling experience

and that is what blows my mind, because a steps away from the isolation cells, outside a door you face the breathtaking vista of san francisco, to your left is the bay bridge, to your right is the golden gate, a view denied the men caged within the walls just a few feet away

that even the most horrible among us are still human and, i think, if you treat them like human beings, allow them a measure of respect because they are fellow living creatures, then they might behave in kind

the rock, in spite of formerly being a prison, is a spectacularly beautiful place, the gardens built and tended by the cons are gorgeous, the vistas can bring tears of joy, the views, the sun, the fog, the salt air and the sound of crashing waves bring the better part of our natures

at least for the most part, there are horrible incorrigible people among us, and what do we do that tiny minority?  i don't know

shit is complicated, ain't it?  but perhaps we need to remember we are all ordinary, limited human beings, the better of us, and the worst

at any rate, nick was dazzled by the views and his phone died because he was taking so many photos, and nick was so involved in his pictures he often forget time and us, it is amazing to see our young man at work composing his photographs

oh, we also avoided driving into the city, driving in the bay area always sucks, so we took the ferry from vallejo to s.f. , an hour's journey across the bay, we avoided the noise and bustle of city traffic and parking, kicked up our heels and enjoyed our sun-drenched day on the rock

Saturday, May 06, 2017

this is what nuclear war looks like, you fucking bastards: threads [1984]


Friday, May 05, 2017

i wish i can find the meme but the cutest one i've every seen was a photo of an adorable kitten wearing a sombrero facing the camera the captioned read, it's friday! i have the sombrero, now i have to find the tequila

it's cinco de mayo!  a day when everyone is mexican!  well, maybe that's a stretch but california, nay u.s., culture is so entwined with mexico that we have a hybrid mexican/u.s. culture in california that nearly everyone know a little spanglish

that's not a stretch or exaggeration you can take that to the bank

so the weather turned a bit cooler with a fairly strong wind, but softer, easier to be outside, a quite lovely day that turned in to a gorgeous evening

because of the holiday the streets of downtown and midtown were packed the mexican restaurants of which we have in abundance [indeed, i confess i'd have a hard time living in a place that had no mexican food, for that is my most favorite cuisine, and no, it ain't because i am a lopez, it's because mexican food is that fucking delicious!] had bouncers because of the crowds, mariachi bands and flowing tequila

sometimes one has only to open her eyes to see the confusing, irrational beauty of the world


Wednesday, May 03, 2017

it's been a while since i've looked forward to a book or movie

as for movies there are a couple coming down the pike that look interesting but i am not holding my breath

as for books there is a book by one of my favorite poets ryszard krynicki, translated from the polish by one of the very best translators clare cavanagh, that is expected to be unleashed upon the world in september

i am so looking forward to that book