Sunday, February 24, 2019

On Berryman

I've recently been obsessing over John Berryman's work. I've been rereading The Dream Songs, and I also purchased Homage to Mistress Bradstreet and Short Poems. Both purchases were discontinued library books. Short Poems was a first edition and only checked out once. Bradstreet was never checked out.

I know that I'm a rare weirdo because I still read and write poetry outside academia, but really? One of America's greatest poets of the 20th century has a book that was checked out once in 50 years, and another book that was never read, until I bought it.

Also, both were academic libraries.

T. S. Eliot said, "The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future." Sorry, man, the future doesn't have hope for your art form.

God bless the soul who acquired this library stamp.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Incomplete Idea #2

If language can compose
a home, each word
is a brick, and this stanza
begins the foyer of this poem.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Incomplete Idea

We’re taken aback by a cat’s greeting another with a backside sniff, the same for dogs, and scold a child for seeing the world, mouthful by mouthful. But it’d make less sense if a soul assessed the world without its senses.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

They and Their Song Shape and Sleep Manhattan

During the revolution, iron
chains ate fighter
ship hulls beneath
my rippling reflection.
British and American
blood gurgled the cold dark.

The Hudson's nervy
waves erode Manhattan,

but curving around
the cloisters, slowly
cutting stone, the white-
capped water continuously salutes
West Point soldiers. Now,

if you're sitting still, you'll
hear kind calm lullabies
roiling through sea
air. Violent deaths cannot
muffle the songs of valiant men,
even under watery graves.

Monday, December 7, 2015

100,000 Pageviews

I just saw that I now have over 100,000 page views.*

I feel like this:
Kyle, Holly, and Nicolas

*Who cares if ninety percent of the views are likely my own naval gazing.

A Letter to Nicolas Erickson

All the walls will fall. I've labored over a work for you for over a decade -- many works, actually. Salinger's Buddy Glass had Seymour, and I have you. I relate to the second born of a large brood, and to one who likes to write. By default he became the eldest because of an absent first born. You're not absent, but you've often gone your own way regardless of others' wishes and sometimes regardless of understandable logic. Forgive me if this opening is cruel. I've had to be cruel to myself to write this. I'm currently writing purely from the heart, so this is trash. I hope art will enter later.

There's no doubt you've bravely blazed your future legacy with all sincerity. Oh! the cost of being fearlessly earnest! If we could but wear another face for a while, prepare a face for the faces that we meet -- to rip off Eliot. But we can't.

You know, I've recently torched my own trail. I have regrets, but as Joy Harjo said, we must "let go of regrets."

This is a poorly constructed letter. Each paragraph builds an incomplete thought and leaves the reader wanting. Let me begin again.

All the walls will fall. By this I mean "nothing gold can stay." Brosef, we're so heavenly minded we're sometimes no earthly good. William Blake took pride in this state, but though it doesn't show in his writing, he had to be terribly embarrassed at times. I hope he was ashamed. I am. I'm ashamed of how much I've longed for transcendence. Our family has suffered for our being overly heavenly minded.

As you know, Whitman stirred my soul and confused me. I experienced "church" with Whitman, and I thank poetry for making me want to stay in this world.

Czeslaw Milosz confessed he'd be likely damned to a lower level of hell because he loved making literature more than his loved ones. What happens to us who love loved ones so much that we know we must be honest to our calling regardless of whether or not they understand?

I thank God for His grace and mercy, and I thank my family for the same.

How does anyone stand this world. I can only "get the news I need from the weather report." Televised news in America is heartache.

I'm still too honest in this letter to construct a descent metaphor.

Back to the news. Can poetic intuition help one disregard the pain of the world? No. Pa-pa asked us when we'd be ready to be Christ for the world. No one can be Christ but Christ. Yet, we endure our attempting to be like Him. And we're horrible at it, brother. We can't remain sinless, and attempting to do so leans toward the type of pride that got Lucipher kicked out of heaven.

Kyrie eleison! Our primary prayer and life's work must be a cry for mercy and forgiveness -- for ourselves and others. Christ said, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." I say, "Forgive us because we often no better and don't choose to do it."

As I ended each previous paragraph, I'll end this letter abruptly.

I love you. I miss you.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Mental Music

Eva asked, "You have
a photographic
memory?" "I don't

know," I said. "Bluebirds
are my favorite
aves. They can make
melodies that quake

my heart to weeping -- .
Spell your name from back
to front, add an "s",
and think of blue wings.

Sing, Eva, and you'll find
mind photography

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Counter Poems #10 - #12

Rick Farmer said, "keep
putting one boot in front
of the other." It's easier
to turn a boot than a rudder.

I'm from Oklahoma and Texas
where knives and guns
are as ubiquitous as chewing gum.
I couldn't care less about a Lexus.

When the Earth Shakes
bake bread, do what your
mama said, and wake
early. Brothers are a bore.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Counter Poem #9

What is more intimate: a New
Yorker kiss on the cheek
or a Southern hug? Either
way, you breathe in a friend.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Counter Poem #8

"I've been in prison. 
I've had beautiful women -- 
had a seat next to Mick
Jagger. Life is good."

How to Prepare Heart

I broke one of my rules and wrote this review while attending Alabaster Rhumb's How to Prepare Heart at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. I typically rely on my memory and don't annoy fellow audience members by writing during a performance, but I was sitting in the back near the bouncer. Nobody cared.

He is aural satisfaction incarnate.

Close your eyes and enjoy the sea voyage, particularly Calliope.

I'm biased, as a poet, but I think Rhumb could use fewer words. His capillaries are clean. The whites of his eyes are clear. His "I'm so scary / see my capillaries" is a bare-bones lyric, utterly sung from the gutter. Catgut strings are the sole accompaniment.

I confess that I know Rhumb and Godin (the producer) -- two precious souls that too few have had the gift of meeting -- and seeing her face alight to his crooning is a highlight for me.

Rhumb is soul salve for a tender heart.

"We're all lost / in madness"

Frankly, I believe in God, and I'm amazed by anyone who produces such tremendous art because I think all great art is from above. Whitman would have interrupted Rhumb to sing along with him. Whitman's pantheism strangely works for me, and I hope it does for Rhumb. Rhumb is a holy conduit.

"I want to be a bird" is a solemn flamenco tune, full of duende. Lorca would be proud -- better yet, he would dance.

At the end of the experience, I found all to be necessary. Let me repeat: there is nothing superfluous in Rhumb's creation. All is necessary.

Counter Poems #3 - #7

Every body worships
some diety by living,
eating, and defecating.
Wash your hands.

My job ate my
life. My wife
saved my dreams.
A furry belly sings.

[For John Foti]
"Who is the biggest Yankee
fan here?" "I don't know,
I had a shit ton of Whiskey,"
said Jeremy.

Tennessee Williams moaned,
"If I got rid of my demons,
I'd lose my angels, too."
Lose 'em both, start anew.

[For Evan Karachalios]
"You got your back
to the corner. You
protect your kin,
friend. Good on ya."