Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Okie Audio: Bela Fleck and the Sparrow Quartet at Castle Clinton

Thank you all for listening and for your kind words on here and on facebook.  This is my next to last recorded poem I'll be posting.  Wish I had more. Thanks again.

Bela Fleck and the Sparrow Quartet at Castle Clinton

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Okie Audio: Forever Home on Mind

I wrote this over several months in 2003 and 2004. At the time, I was writing my senior paper over Allen Ginsberg, which is apparent. This is the first poem I was proud of having written.

Forever Home on Mind

I wept into the sea; it did not overflow.
(Buddhist meditation)

Spread out over a great distance
     like a tremendous giant fallen dead,
          my heart, heavy with sadness, covers over my daily duties

I can’t eat, write, work, speak, but
     walk the familiar corridors—
          in rooms I’ve danced with friends,
          in rooms I’ve philosophized,
          in rooms I’ve sat as I do now,
               red eyed and staring as in meditation but
                    only feeling pain without enlightenment—
     till I grab the keys and drive to the shopping strip
          bubbling with beautiful people
               who love the machinery of consumer competition.
          The mob about me—blonde, small, large, brown—
               shuffle up, down, back and forth, comforting me
               with the wishing that I could be comforted
               by the bags they carry.

I hit the streets
     and pass the town—the three stop-lights of Grove, Oklahoma—
          down to the low-water bridge
     where a light stream trickles over small rocks between bare trees
          where I once strummed songs
               while peers drank the evening down through Coors Light cans,

     then down to the Water’s Edge—
          a gravel boat ramp in a small bay of Grand Lake water
               with eternal western view of twin moons, water and sky—
     where I myself got drunk the first time
          with my doe-eyed older brother
               and he with glee punched his fist bloody
               through a dock door window,

     then back to home,
          but outside the familiar corridors
               where the expanse of green bluff hums memories in the distance.
     An occasional deer, close enough to toss a rock at, eats mother’s
          under the single telephone pole for miles in the back yard.
               The pole where my father hung a make-shift basketball goal
                    that rarely felt a ball and decayed
     as my mind does
          while I turn to see tears shine on my face reflection
               outside my bedroom window.

My eternity bounces me to and from this homestead
     in dreams and reality, nightmares and reality—

home where my pregnant mother fell off a shoddy doorway ramp
     to the mobile home door and
          bruised her legs black
               cursing God for poverty and an unexpected pregnancy,
home where my parents’ shallow life savings was spent on
     rheas, awkward exotic birds, that ran scared—
          chased by our neighbor’s dogs—
     and died of heart attacks and
          Dad cursed God and cried on pregnant Mom’s belly,
home where my doe-eyed older brother ran away,
     cursing God and Mom and Dad,
home where I, frustrated in sleep,
     kicked through a storm-window barefooted and
          awoke bleeding on the bathroom floor
               while Mom held the vein and cried for God to heal
          to save from the emergency bill.

Home dear home,
     forever clear and profound on the senses,
          forever never disappearing.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Okie Audio: Walking Stiff Blues

Today's poetry reading is of a few of the 3-line poems in the Walking Stiff Blues series. I haven't included links to the specific poems because I think it's kind of fun to listen to them without the text. But if you'd like to read them, you can click on the WSB label below.


Thanks to Electric Literature for the recordings.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Okie Audio: Aunt Sylvia

Thanks to Chloe at Electric Literature, I now have several quality audio recordings of my poetry.  I'll post one recording a day for the next week.

Here is the recording:

Here is the poem: Aunt Sylvia.

I'm very excited about this.  Thanks for reading/listening.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Insanae et vanae curae invadunt mentes nostras

Fiction Excerpt

New Yorkers are no longer conscious of their personal space, but their consciousness was harshly and quickly eroded.  Each hated his first rush hour on the subway as much as the next: having a woman's purse rub against his crotch for several stops, a sour armpit in the face -- in fact, the bums, though most are crazy, are more protective of their space; they intentionally muddy their boots in the park to prop them on the seat beside them, collect cigarette butts to scatter around them, or skip a rare opportunity to bathe, though it's uncomfortable, so their extreme stench on a late night train will send boarding passengers fleeing, allowing a peaceful sleep.

The Night Cafe by Vincent van Gogh

This harsh erosion, combined with the bizarre social dynamics of the city, turns people inside out.

I'm not just talking about how distrust or fear of being attacked will cause people to pass a dead man on the street more than once. I'm talking about how people's having no intimate community, not only allows secrets and the opportunity to live multiple lives as business man, drag queen and serial killer, but more subtly it removes the inside voice (inside a room voice and inside a head voice).  I passed a woman today, perfectly attractive woman in spandex and a sweater, jogging and singing Christmas carols to her dog.

But it's not just the killers, freaks, and crazy talkers.  The city can remove shame and guilt, which form the greater part of the foundation of common decency. In a small town, public drunkenness, one-night stands, and outrageous cursing at a neighbor's negligent infringement have consequences.

All this combined with the filleting of conversation to its bones for efficient excessive business communication disembodies the soul, disembodies the mind. I walk in others' thoughts, am robbed of others' guilt, and use soulless language more than is healthy. We are the Hollow Men.

No wonder the arts flourish here! We need them, not to guide us through our inner life, but to be our inner life.  The comedian becomes our shame, the dancer our soul, literature our mind -- but you see? more and more contemporary art is created by disembodied souls. What happens when we look into a mirror and nothing's there?  Nothing, if we're used to seeing nothing. But a fever threatens to sweat out what remains of our soul if we once saw ourselves.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Logic and Sex

"In this there is no measuring with time. A year doesn't matter; ten years are nothing. To be an artist means not to compute or count; it means to ripen as the tree, which does not force its sap, but stands unshaken in the storms of spring with no fear that summer might not follow. It will come regardless. But it comes only to those who live as though eternity stretches before them, carefree, silent, and endless. I learn it daily, learn it with pains, for which I am grateful: patience is all!"
-Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet

"Logic and sex."  I wrote that in my journal right after I wrote the Rilke quotation. I'm not entirely sure why.  It has something to do with my frustration with life's forcing me to logically sort out my daily duties for survival, health, social interactions, work, etc., when at times, I'd like to approach life more like sex: discovering and progressing through instincts and the senses. Logic aids sex and instincts aid navigating life, but I feel logic gets more attention.  Probably for the better. But it still makes me squirm sometimes.

Instead of writing an essay, I'd like to write a poem on "logic and sex", but I can't really figure out how to do that right now.

Rilke's words are a comfort, because he says instincts help, and analysis (computing/counting) isn't always best.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Book Father on 5th Avenue

Got Blake's Songs of Experience from man on street with foldout table and 50 paperbacks who prides himself on his selection.  He sits and reads and sells all books for $5. Three weeks ago, not knowing him, I asked if he'd accept my 4 sole dollars for a book, and he said: "No, but you can take the book for now and come back with the extra dollar later."

I'm always attempting, I think, to dive into the soul, into what matters in life, and this man has it. He was endlessly charming, sitting on his chair and selling books that mean something to him.  When I told him he had a nice selection, he said "I try to keep one."

Old man enjoying his retirement, giving wonderful books to others -- cheap, but in good condition. All books are clean, though used. And he has not only good taste in literature, but editions as well. I bought a van Gogh set of prints collected with biography and essays for $5 -- paperback w/excellent prints (color) and in excellent condition.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Okie in the Literati

I just read and loved Gerald Howard's essay, Never Give an Inch, in the latest edition of Tin House. It's about the class divide in contemporary American authors, specifically the lack of working-class American authors and fiction.

Howard mentions that an author's bio used to contain the many jobs of his past, illustrating that he had been around the block and knew what he was writing about.  Now an author's bio lists his degrees, universities attended, and the prestigious lit mags in which he's been published.  Ivy league schools, which are economically difficult for working-class students to get into,  produce the current authors, publishers, and editors -- and the divide grows.

Oscar Wilde

Aside from just giving an accurate picture of the class-ism in contemporary fiction, the article reminded me of things I often consider as an aspiring author and son of a stone mason.

Are my affinities for T.S. Eliot, Dvorak, van Gogh, and ballet lessons genuine affinities or a striving to transcend my blue collar roots?  They're both.

On spring break of my sophomore year in college, I visited my brother who was working in Manhattan.  And I thought it odd that he had become more Okie than he ever was in Oklahoma.  His drawl was almost more Southern than Oklahoman, and he wore cowboy boots.  The only time I remember our wearing cowboy boots growing up was in costume. But I did the same after living here a short time, in fact I just bought two plaid shirts and wear jeans and labor boots to the office more than slacks and dress shoes.

Away from our Okie family, we both identified ourselves more with our roots as a way of amplifying an identity easily smothered by the urban masses.

Ken Kesey

I also have a tug-o-war with writing for the people in their language and writing of the people in heightened language -- and there's a few monkeys dancing on the rope between. Can I write in heightened language? Who is that for? No one reads poetry but poets and academics, anyway. When the poets, the seers of society, can not relate to the working man, how well can they see?

I jump back and forth in what I read, too, primarily reading classics, literary fiction, and poetry -- and comic books.

I first started this blog with an entry, Scents of New York, and other early entries that reflected my honeymoon with NYC.  Readers commented on the novelty of the NYC experience, but more often connected with my later posts about family and my Oklahoma anecdotes. This leads me to my crux: should I write about what is novel, literary, and intriguing, or about what I'm connected with? Both, but I hope the latter always takes precedence.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

This post is uncalled for

Today I took the local train to work to read more.

I took a long lunch break to go to the bookstore.

Tonight I ate dinner and kissed my wife, and talked to her about her comedy set.  Afterward we walked across the park at dusk and wrote at the coffee shop.

I just finished reading Poetry.

Now I'm going to have some tea and go to bed.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Mixed Metaphor

Inspiration blooms within,
a blood-rose rising in water,
becomes a crystallized cactus,
connects to the inner navel,
spins, and purees organs --
amoeba-ooze out

A tasty organism best
served in chilled stanzas.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Bowery Electric on 9/11

Tonight we left the Bowery Electric rejuvenated, excited, and well . . . electric.

Brick walls, beers, and artistic veterans of the Bowery crowded the stage for a 45 minute stop on the NYC Lit Crawl.  Les and I came to see only this event because Bob Hollman, the creator and proprietor of the Bowery Poetry Club, was reading with friends, and because I was leery of going to any performance event on 9/11.  Though this day brings the city and much of America together, it's gloomy.

New Yorkers above all have a right to be gloomy. But they weren't.

The host opened with silly one-liners and the truth that a single event has turned the nation into a Kingdom of Fear.

Hollman got the night rolling, his cigarette baritone dancing tenured poems a la tango and retro and humorous.

But Jim Feast had us in stitches with a piece on Bloomberg's losing sleep, planning his election on the night of 9/11: "Why the towers? Like a moth to the flame, the terrorists chose a skyscraper -- not a bungalow or cottage or motel. And if only a skyscraper were in the the Bowery, a center of poets not stockbrokers, the city would be clean of vermin and clear for commerce!"

Steve Dalachinsky closed the night with a poem "written too soon after the event, but what the hell" that made me warm to gloom, to NYC, to being here and now.

Before the-powers-that-be traded artists for towers in the Bowery,  before terrorist smashed faith for fear with a plane, these guys were here and still are.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Time Spent

How much time do we spend doing something to avoid doing nothing, regardless of whether or not we want to do anything?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

To Youth in Transition

"There's no limit to what you can know if you stop talking and thinking about it." Some Zen guy said something close to this.

The weight I put on myself in deciding whether or not to change my major from drama education to writing!  I fasted, prayed, reflected ad nausea, bothered all my friends and family with my crisis.

Here are a few things I wish I was told or was told but didn't listen.

What do you enjoy doing most in your free time, enjoy reading about most?  Can you get paid for it or can you work a job that will allow you to do it in your free time regardless of whether or not you get paid?

If you like to do many things, pick 3 and focus your energy on them for a year to see what happens.  A year is a very short time.

College is better than high school for diversions and late nights and stupidity and education and vacation and pretentious conversations on art, philosophy, politics.

In the real world, you are your own merit system.  Moms help, though.

All those overly romantic journal entries and conversations about love and life are healthy.  Keep 'em up till you die.

Read poetry.

Dead Poets' Society is a good movie, but don't kill yourself.

Ripped this off a site that ripped it off from somewhere else.

You will fail, and you'll learn more from it than success.

Laugh at yourself.  Women have been saying it for centuries: a sense of humor is very attractive.

When you know you're brilliant, remember everyone shits in relatively the same manner.

Pay your bills on time.

Your list of those to drunk dial should be very short.

Family and friends matter more than anything else.  If you're lucky you'll get an almost equal number of face slaps and pats on the back.

Turn off the music and TV, and do the dishes.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Ignorant Questions for Society and Its City (2)

Why would your citizens prefer Paris Hilton's crapping in the street to the Mona Lisa?

Disposable trumps durable: what consequences the yang of our yin?

Must bums cherish the cool stoop-sleep of Saint Patrick's while red-faced tourists tick-tock into TGIFridays at Times Square?

Efficiency vs splendor? Or why does efficiency = euphoria?

Where is holy?

You kiss your mother with that mouth?

To Navigate Space and Time





Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ignorant Questions for Society and Its City

Why are all the crazies yelling on the street angry? Sadness doesn't yell? Happiness is of the healthy?

Hipster scoffed my moleskin. Does my notebook encompass me?

If I give a moment of attention to each sound (bark, honk, chirp, chatter, zipo flick) heard in a minute at Union Square, will Christ return before I'm finished?

Why do Black Americans have round faces and round butts?
Why do Asian Americans have flat faces and flat butts?
Why do White Americans have no faces and no butts?

If NYC is knowledgeable, is nowhere-town wise?

Can pretension and pragmatism kiss and make up?

Dolly Parton?

Hayden Carruth says we're a "post-literate" generation, okay?

Privacy? Therapy? Facebook? Community?

Does it matter that I can build a house?

Should Ravel's Concerto for the Left Hand be listened through any other medium but live musicians?

Keats said, "A poem needs understanding through the senses. The point of diving in a lake is not immediately to swim to the shore...."


Saturday, June 5, 2010

While Rugged Dogma

While rugged dogma
wheeled monastic rack
and wrung me, lithe
gazelle of haloed ears,

roiling sacred haunt
inverted phallus,
and fright-flung me 'cross
mad forest shears, where

bellowing the moon,
creeping white phlox bloom,
snowball viburnum,
hostas, roses white --

Moor flames a gather
'neath mother's dark noon
glow, shriek-songing
my gloaming heart stone.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Kidnapping, Robbery, Attempted Murder, etc.

Awoke to 5 text messages from my mother that composed one long text chronicling my baby brother's nightmare of last night and this morning where he was kidnapped, assaulted, car-jacked, robbed, and fired upon.

Before my brother, Drew, was born, my dad received confirmation from God that Drew had a great calling on his life.

Within 12 months, he's had 2 near death experiences; the other I wrote of in August.

An hour ago, I received this text from my mom:

"Drew said the two guys were so stupid that he felt like he spent the night with cookie monster and big bird, i cracked up"

At 7 a.m., I received the following 5 messages containing the below text, character for character (I only excluded names)"

"Hey kids, dad and i are on our way to OKC to see drew, he got off work last night and was at the gate of a gated community where XXX and XXX live, and two black guys held a gun to him and told him to scoot over, they were wild, wrecked his car, took drews phone, his gold ring i gave him, they gave him a hard time, but he eventually got away and took off through some woods running for a few miles, he is banged up,they were shooting at him, he was running and hiding. Poor guy was praying the whole time. He went door to door until someone helped him and they called the cops. Please, please pray for him pray they find the guys and his car.  He is ok, but emotionally shattered, he is giving god all the glory."

Upon the initial surreal experience of reading this, knowing it was my baby brother's experience, I, of course, was reading as fast as possible to get to the part that mentioned he was okay.  I didn't know that part existed.  That part could have easily been the opposite, and all that could have entailed.  Upon my reading reading, I felt he had to be okay, he had to be okay he had to had to....

Last night I was on a terrace on the Upper West Side, having Cotes du Rhone and hors d'oeuvres on a gorgeous spring night while my brother was quite literally running through hell.

"Consider the lillies." "Death brings perspective." etc.

When my baby brother is tormented by the least financial concerns or whatever petty concern overwhelms a teenager, I pray.  When he escapes death, I have to believe there is a God who listens.  There is only the slimmest of rare circumstances that prevented me from receiving a text in which my brother was not alive and not jokingly calling his tormentors Big Bird and Cookie Monster.  For this moment, I'll be eternally grateful.  And hope to maintain that gratitude, regardless of what else happens for the remainder of my relatively short time span on this rock of soil, water, blood, and wonder.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Poplar: a tree especially accustomed to the droughts and floods of the plains

Your house was a womb.
Heavy canvas maroon curtains.

Did you feel you'd be stillborn
into heaven with Linda?

Widower. A cruel name,
as if you had done something.
No, you had died first and
shattered her,
but you returned with a second heart.

And then you crafted the womb upon her death
to bear her back into the world, slowly if necessary,
with her electric lighthouse as your séance candle,
with all her antique model ships surrounding you --
many ready vessels.

But framed
and prominent
near the TV
was the
poster of the
man dwarfed
by the lighthouse
that was dwarfed
by the wave
crashing into it.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Vernal launch of sun
is brightness arrow striking,
vibrating third eye

Image stolen from Wikipedia

Monday, March 29, 2010

100th Post

My blog dashboard just informed me that my last post was my 100th.  Cool.  To celebrate, my high school self will perform a big hair dance.

Still shot from Big Hair Dance.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

27 March 2010

Housing Works, one of my favorite places that I rarely come to in the city -- books, coffee, hardwood floors, high ceiling, balcony, small wooden chairs and round tables . . . over stimulation of nostalgia and loved ones everywhere:
  • Monet and Brklyn Bridge books = Mom
  • tables/chairs = Tulsa dreams of Beats in NY
  • Blake's Marriage of Heaven and Hell = Brixton-aparment sutra epiphany
  • cute wife and notebooks = college IHop late nights/early mornings
  • metal rolling ladder to high shelf = smell of portland mix, sun burnt arms/neck, stained hands of summer stone masonry
  • stage lights strapped to pillars and celing = back stage of ORU's Howard Auditorium where I catch Leslie who stradles and kisses me in costume shop
  • inappropriate children run and scream 'round shelves = inappropriate children run and scream 'round pues of worship
  • charity to prevent AIDS and HIV = all forbidden scandalous thoughts of homosexuality and poets and classics and Michealangelo, Whitman, and Nureyev
  • coffee buzz, rock music, bookshelves = dreams of intellectual peers, coffee buzz "behind the eyes", tape recorded conversations w/brother in midnight living room on E 21st in Tulsa
Amazing/eerie vibe of life collage in scene, as in a dream.

Monday, March 22, 2010

yes, I still write these things

I want to dance the
rainy Brooklyn sidewalks, lead the
bums and misfits into a choreographed
showtune of puddle splashin',
lightning lighting, thunder percussion --
spin off the walls and wail into
the lamp posts

     Cliche crab apple Hollywood cream and more . . .

I'll tie his shoes and he'll spit
shine mine . . . then, an arm-and-
arm street-funk shuffle, by couples,
'cross the Brooklyn Bridge
-- small lighted
globes on girders are the only stars in
the galaxy of soft-shoe stutter-step
into Big Town . . .

Baby baby baby it's gonna be
a long night of kiss and squeeze --
straight to hell, and OH the
happy Persephone parade . . .

Blind folded, one by one -- tick-tock
cadence of moon tide clicks our
stiff limbs into clop clop
clop, one-by-one moan stride . . .

-- all hidden eyes blazin' with glow of
ocean --

(Oh, each of us -- a drop in a
tidal wave . . . but we're comin' down,
baby, we're comin' down)

     *sound of wave crashin' . . . 
whatever the sound of ideas, people (water?), and 
bloody hearts upon
pavement (stone hearts) sounds like*

*whatever that sounds like*

Monday, March 1, 2010

Saturday, February 6, 2010

On Becoming a Poem

Like a balloon

      my skull and its skin


translucent in their


          by a diffusion that


     pressure in its expanding

And the sound

     is a constant


of crystal cocoons

     ever nearing

          never revealing

the whole