A HYBRID NOTEBOOK OF POETICS AND PORNOGRAPHIES

Pornography Disclaimer

This is a an imaginary diary of facts, confessions, or messages. This is a notebook of working but broken ideas, lines, images, notes on books I'm reading, writers I admire, and brief fantasies of language. Here unfiltered  all mannerings pseudo-private, publicized, ur-. Here I am art and unrevealed: poetic, political and pop. These are my moonlit rough beginnings and should not be taken literally, directly, truthfully, reliably, and none of it is legally binding. These lies are all choreographed, but only haphazardly. Beware.

23.2.08

BLUE COMPLAINT IN THE DARK GARDEN

. . . . . .

But this complaint is a pleasure rocketing forth, bright then lost. The disappearance has a flavor, a blind tang.












EVIDENCE

Blue is the evidence of what I do,
the lies I'll leave behind, no more, no less.
This is the past, and so it must be true.

This stack of DVD's, of overdue
pornography, the titles meaningless:
blue is the evidence of what I do.

This is the coat from Saks Fifth Avenue,
charged to my old American Express--
this is the past, and so it must be true

that once I loved this wretched shade of blue.
I dreamt of men whom I could not impress.
Blue is the evidence of what I do,

the letter here that ends in I love you.
My prose was from the heart, my heart a mess.
This is the past, and so it must be true

I lacked the guts to send it off--I knew
of certain things that one should not confess.
Blue is the evidence of what I do.
This is the past, and so it must be true.


I spent one of my rainy evenings here in a pizza hut on Pico Boulevard reading Randall Mann's Complaint in the Garden, winner of the now defunct Zoo press' 2003 Kenyon Review Prize. It's fitting to wait out a hurricane while keeping time with Mann's work, filled with metrical precision and a lot of what many poets tend to sneer at--the rigors of strict form. David Baker's nice introduction says enough about his motifs (natural history of Florida and the Caribbean, gay life, and what Baker calls Mann's "engagement with poetics and poetic history"), but what I find most lovely about the book is its precision with regard to eros. It's as if form allows Mann to withdraw the thorn from the mark and leave us with the dissolve of emotion. 

Like Cavafy's work, many of these poems create a kind of distance in which the reader too suffers a memory, a wonderful nostalgia for a once passionate ruin. In them we are reminded that the lover's pain is like warm color, more a necessary idea, a place of struck imagining and awe, more a feeling we can consider as it leaves us than it is actual physical suffering.  Love in Mann is hurt pleasure, the nostalgia for an early abandonment, an early joy. In the poem "Blood" he remembers us: 

I drank the least expensive bottled beer 
and blindly followed kindly, foreign men 
into their cars, their rented rooms, their beds-- 
the rest of this is darkness now, is lost.

Desire in this book is greatly tempered by form, so that in the end we are not overwhelmed by visceral existence, but instead find ourselves reciting Mann's lyric attentions to the several weathers of our bewilderment. "And you will say the word love" he writes "as if it were not meaningless, as if / we were not dying." 

I left my pizza half-eaten, nourished instead by his satisfying equations. I hungered instead for old and memorable nights.

. . . . . . . 

20.2.08

RAIN YOU ARE WRITTEN

god I'm finding it more and more difficult to visit this spot. today

worked on my rain, my empty pockets, and broken loves

. . . . . .

a poem I wish I wrote, by Paul Guest, from his first book:

The Report From Home


Here is the topography of false starts. Here
a whole constellation is lousy with desire.
Here what passes for love is the same
as anywhere. Here no one has said
a prayer for the stars, and here no one
comes, except to leave, except to stay
long enough to bruise. Here the apples
do not fall and the theorems go unproven.
Leaves take root in the air, here,
and here the wind has stopped, waiting
for a word none of us know. Here
there are no dancers to love and dream of.
Here time is bearable in music. Here
it's our own hearts buried and beating
beneath the floor, and here the pages turn
in no order to no end to no avail.
Here the weeds in wreathes hang on doors.
Here the knife's edge has dulled
though no one can say how, daring it on skin
to remember itself. Here the rust
grows like moss. Here the truth is tired.
Here the castle of sand lasts longer
than the ocean is deep, and wide and blue.

. . . . . .

At some point an essay on apples, those stolen ones, like kisses in the garden.

. . . . . .

I think we are all brief light and seizure

there's probably a poem there, where the music hurts

. . . . . .

6.2.08

CONFESSIONS OF A GREEN LIGHT IN THE CITY: AWP NYC

. . . . . . .

1. Virgin America: pink mood and purple lighting, digital t.v. Early landing in NYC. "Seat 9F has sent you a message. Would you like to accept?"

2. "I laughed ambiguously. Deep night in the fireless temple. Cold knees. The great ancient pillars of the temple towered round us as we sat there huddled in our secret conversation."

3. Chelsea Hotel, corner of Lexington and 23rd. The darkness makes a scarf.

4. Michael Burkard reads a ruby. He touches my book. My shadow laughs.

5. Apizz. An Italian gnozzi. A walk to St. Marks. A mouth, a bruise before morning.

6. I sign my book and someone claps and says "passion."

7. A thief pursues his darkness. If you dare me to, I will exploit the underside of this beauty.

I've come home with these books:

Michael Burkard's Envelope of Night
Tadeusz Rozewicz' New Poems
Paul Guest's Resurrection of the Body and the Ruin of the World
Rigoberto Gonzalez' Butterfly Boy
Jane Miller Midnights
Donald Revell Thief of Strings
Laura Jensen's Memory
Dean Young's Primitive Mentor
Kazim Ali's The Fortieth Day
Juliet Patterson's The Truant Lover

and four chapbooks:

Sean Nevin's A House That Falls
Charlie Jensen's The Strange Case of Maribel Dixon
Mathias Svalina's Creation Myths
Stephanie Lenox's The Heart That Lies Outside the Body

8. Breakfast at 5 in the evening. 2 Girls and a Cup. A few hours drink themselves like smokes at night to absence. James Hall. Eduardo. A storm of black.

9. I get a Valentine Tattoo. She steals my pen, then gives me a nail file to make my great escape.

10. Eduardo you snore like a Godzilla. But first: "Did you feed him?"

11. Rathkamp, Pollack, Schnabel, MOMA. Winter, your blackbird is broken into pencil, green shadow.

12. My book sells out, thanks to Javi Huerta. His book is worth two of mine.

NY Fashion Week, I love your heels and glam!

14. I marry Kelly and B. A rip in time. Bathsheba is imagined, born, loved, loathed and sold into pornography.

13. On the white envelope we pay the bill. We eat the pizza next to a time warp. Time loves us, the way we love each other.

15. Two Aussies in Central Park. The high kick. I say, she's so demure. He says, you're not tall enough to model. Anyone call themself a mandarin?

16. Perseus has a great ass. At the Met more Rothko and Twombly. More gold mask. More than green rain.

17. I love to shop at Faconnable and split my feet until I eat some lollies. Wear flats?! You must be crazy--

18. Two bags, Whole Foods. Opera Singer, hurtling softly his Italian arpeggios through the late car toward the subway Bronx.

19. Mint Teabag. he Want, he got.

20. Snow. To return. Green foam is sprayed on each wing.
My photo
I've got one foot in the grave and the other's in my mouth.

Poetry Disclaimer

My work has been awarded the Katherine C. Turner Prize from the Academy of American Poets, a Swarthout Award, and has twice been nominated and shortlisted for the Pushcart Prize. My first book, A Book Called Rats, was selected for the Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry (Eastern Washington University Press 2007). I'm curating editor for the online journal of poetry: PISTOLA and my poems and reviews most recently appear in Massachusetts Review, Beloit, Ploughshares and RAIN TAXI. I currently teach writing and literature at Santa Monica College in southern California.