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.

3.8.09

SUMMER WITH AN OILY DARK

This summer: school is not a childhood moon
California is dead cash
AKA shoot me now shoot me up my eyes
Night is a white drip
My war is thirsty

. . . . . .


"The Dull Flame of Desire (Modeselektor Remix for Girls)" Bjork
"I'm In LA Trick" LMFAO
"Angel" Madonna
"Friend of Mine" Lily Allen
"Crazy In Love" Antony & the Johnsons

. . . . . .


"As of Monday, Aug 3, 2009, at least 4,330 members of the U.S. military had died in the Iraq war since it begain March 2003, according to an Associated Press count."

Documented Iraqi Civilian Deaths: 92,519 - 101,006:

"Monday 3 August: 14 dead

Anbar
Saqlawiya: suicide bomber kills 5.

Babil
Iskandariya: car bomb kills 1.
Hilla: bombs kill 6.

Ninewa
Mosul: 2 killed in separate incidents."

. . . . . .

"I'm rockin' Vans / I'm in the sand / I got a rebel&vodka upin my han- / D!"

. . . . . .

Somewhere in my head is an essay that reads like an essay and not a schizolisting.

Still got a current for Fellner's idea that a good political poem should do certain things.

Still got a midnight like a white bat on my neck.

Somewhere I'm more than my blood's advertisement.
. . . . . .

A book I love: Warhorses by Yusef Komunyakaa.

A plant: Kingshade: bloodleaf before it's shot: that sootpurple, morbid cabbage

A dream: my grandmother dies but first she sews her pills into her pillow, and some buttons, and a gold cross, and some shapes the living cannot see but the dreamer can say thank you.

weepy falsetto: "your touch / got me looking so crazy right now / your look / your look"

. . . . .

"When our hands caress bullets & grenades,
or linger on the turrets & luminous wings
of reconnaissance planes , we leave glimpses
of ourselves on the polished hardness.
We surrender skin, hair, sweat, & fingerprints.
The assembly lines hum to our touch,
& the grinding wheel records our laments
& laughter into the bright metal.

I touch your face, your breasts, the flower
holding a world in focus. We give ourselves
to each other, letting the workday slide
away. Afterwards, lying there facing the sky,
I touch the crescent-shaped war wound. Yes,
the oldest prayer is still in my fingertips."

K's book is not so much a book against war, as it is a consideration of the warsome impulse.

His contemplation of the duality between murder and love is matched with kaleidoscopic flexibility by a muscular practice of poetic form. In three sections:

a sequence of (mostly) Petrarchan sonnets in which a historical or mythical war story as octet (Cain&Abel, Odysseus&Penelope, warriors counted by Homer and nameless tribal hunters) is mirrored by a sestet that contemplates erotic love as combat.

a sequence of more standard free verse poems that meditate on wartime implements in history (The Helmet, The Catapult, Grenade, Warhorses, Surge), Art (Guernica, The Clay Army, The Panorama, The Warlord's Garden) and Wartime places (The Hague, Twin Towers, Clouds, The Crying Hill)

a sequence of tiered couplets "Autobiography of My Alter Ego" in the voice of a bartender vet that illustrates with imagination and pinache the life of a soldier who murders, loves with desperation, loses everything, and must face the history of shame, prayer, loneliness, nationalism, hunger, and the frankly delectable brutality of his own experience.

The book is itself a sequence of variations on the theme of war in which Komunyakaa flexes his muscles, strikes with imagistic fervor, syntactical precocity, and with a direct, meaningful voice that both wonders that our human capacities for war and love are archetypal, inescapable, and violently beautiful.

"HEAVY METAL SOLILOQUY

After a nightlong white-hot hellfire
of blue steel, we rolled into Baghdad,
plugged into government-issued earphones,
hearing hard rock. The drum machines
& revved-up guitars roared in our heads.
All their gods were crawling on all fours.
Those bloated replicas of horned beetles
drew us to targets, as if they could breathe
& think. The turrets rotated 360 degrees.
The infrared scopes could see through stone.
There were mounds of silver in the oily dark.
Our helmets were the only shape of the world.
Lightning was inside our titanium tanks,
& the music was almost holy, even if blood
was now leaking form our eardrums.
We were moving to a predestined score
as bodies slumped under the bright heft
& weight of thunderous falling sky.
Locked in, shielded off from desert sand
& equatorial eyes, I was inside a womb,
a carmine world, caught in a limbo,
my finger on the trigger, getting ready to die,
getting ready to be born."


William Logan finds K's book overly sentimental, but I find his review of it rushed and insensitive. Who else is writing such viper-ed lyrics, with consideration for the line and a sensual rendering that takes the current wartime predicament seriously? Here, Bullet is well-reviewed and popular, but I don't understand the virtual invisibility of Komunyakaa's timely and more mature voice on the subject.

"Ah. Abu Ghraib.
Guantanamo. Lord,
if the dead could show us
where the secret graves are
we'd walk with bowed heads
along the Mason Dixon Line
till we're in a dusty prison yard
in Angola or Waycross,
or we're near the Perfume River
or outside Ramadi. You see,
the maps & grids flow together
till light equals darkness:
an eye, a nose, an ear, a mouth
telling a forbidden story,
saying, Sir, here's the skin
growing over a wound,
& this is flesh interrogating a stone."

. . . . . .

The dead body is a witness what
do the living see summers of

eucalyptus coastlines burning nightly
green soot in their mouths

bright shroud
skin

flag for my living
I'm addicted to the thought of your

absence color
of a sunset passing into ash

. . . . . . .




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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.