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.

29.8.09

PINA MORTE

All summer, where have I been.

Amnesia of mediocrity. The walk again and again and again into a wall.

Then, school ends. I have a week off before I fall. To sleep. Read. Steal books. Touch my garden, pot fuschia, kalanchoe, kingshade. Reality as if it were a dream. The moon of a skating rink in the deep center of an abandoned mansion. The dead slump of a woman rolled into the darkening shawl of her blood--like the prey of a spider sleeping now in its raw cocoon. Dark glittering and cold. Half-eaten moon blurring over the sea. Night mist. Ghost mist.

Reading old news. Summer news.

Pina Bausch is dead.

. . . . . .


. . . . . .

I saw Pina Bausch twice. Once ten years ago, in a performance of "Carnations". Then last year at UCLA in a performance of "Ten Chi".

"Carnations": dogs, men, and women:

Color, speech, and repetition:

Is the flower a grave.

Is Form the Burden.

And the threat of the body: Helene Cixous:
"a given love merits a given death":: Kazuko Shiraishi:
"a leap is already / a tragedy".

. . . . . . .


. . . . . . .

Come on, honey--if you've got a demonside, let's dance.

. . . . . . .

6.8.09

SUMMER DUBIE AND THE STORMS OF TWILIGHT

It's after one and I can't sleep. I think it's the insomniac shellacked moonlight across the dark harp strings of the sea. I feel roped to the mast like one of Odysseus' crew. Stormed by blackness, rain, and the nightsong of a siren.

Pulled off my shelf Norman Dubie's The Insomniac Liar of Topo, and I don't know if he's my rope or my mad heart's need.


. . . . . ,


At Sunset

Fucking get back. I have cut
the white paper gasket
out of the apple. Yes,
it's a seed packet
like the wife's whalebone jacket
ruling the fat lamps of the Orient.
The faint straight lace of it,

sounds.
Ashes and wormwood
in a brand drawer.
The horses' testicles tossed
into straw for the cats.
Was it not mad John Clare--
that night, and it mad, last night Clare saying
it was a sound
going off in his head. A mainmast snapping.
The man standing next to you hears it.
Suddenly you're naked running through pasturage
like a woman's hair.


. . . . . ,


Dubie has this masterful phrasing that delivers a Frostlike alliterative richness to each sentence. His locomotion is matched by an unapologetic Victorian gothic sensibility, one marked by romantic visitations of a preoccupation for foreign exotic ware and a cinematic quality not unlike say late Francis Ford Coppola, Youth without Youth, imagery palimpsested over idea, as the camera pulls back upon the larger landscape of a larger historical scene. Small things carress their demons in his shadow. A remarkable intensity of the music makes his poems ever more intimate. He has Scarlatti's jealous intensity against the inevitable failures.

His eye is on the dream of history; History, like the dream inside each sleeper wakes.

History
like the linkage of the human nights of many strange and fragment visions.


. . . . . ,


The Tantric Master, Lord Marpa, Twice Dreamt of the Prophet, William Blake

The great translator thought
he had suffered the sleep of a cloudless day
in a boat of skins
on a cold and black inland sea.

Elohim, the eye of minor periphery
broke bread with him on the moonlit water.
He washed his beard and hair
and said your daughters are now stepping from furnaces.
But if we wake
by their drying looms
with a mountain of salt between me and them,
then the diarist wife
has taken these margins of yellowing shoreline
from us.

London sleeps with its cousins and sisters all winter
while naked surgeons cross through the city
bearing torches. . . well, citizens,

this is the cult of worms
who by physical inches of devotion are measuring a churchyard.
The owls forming a morbidly obese question
from Ovid.

The Word is always out weeping in the evening
refusing the hot custards, stealing
from sick and defenseless travelers.
The last Republic is out too, burning on the horizon.

Phoenician men sitting on the purple rocks
mending their nets, chewing
on roots, laugh
and then walk out across the water.

They've been doing it for centuries,
that is,-- mending their nets with laughter.


. . . . . ,


Dubie believes in ghosts, particle physics, quantum radioed spirituality. One gets a dizzy, wine-ful feeling when reading his poems. They are hallucinatory, and you don't seem to wake from them so easily. Suddenly daylight has dreamlike proportions, and personal history wormholes forward backward into the lives of artists, politicians, and other nameless lovers. Brutal, gorgeous, and playful with accident. I love these poems for their adjectives, their Shakespearean descriptions, and for their sonnetto echo.

. . . . . ,

Winter Rains off Pointe Du Hoc

The wind is a failure of forms
a calamity of content--it is
cutting the white peaks from great
green waves
making cold abbreviations of salt
that are the pith eyes on ghosts.

Across the cliffs
in the fields above the water
martyred dead rest in some soft
tropic of wind, some tropic of the hidden variable

that pierces sinew, neck,
or the helmet. The suits
praise his valor, the gunnery sergeant Nash
from Missoula, Montana, who says,
the bear nests up in the wind
with a smile of margarine,
has courage, and
the bear is my friend--

when the bear stumbles,
you ba-bas must understand,
the bear dies large
not like a pigeon at a Legionnaires convention.

. . . . . ,


My favorite poetry always brings me back to Lear. Lear and Odysseus.
Dubie is a kind of hybrid hero, Cause and Care of my solitude, my own heart's ruin.

He visits me tonight with mean wild storms.

. . . . . ,

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

. . . . . . .




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.