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.

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.