April 30, 2013

there's no easy way to free

Tod Papageorge, Central Park, 1978

The Poem That Changed America's Diapers
-- klipschutz

It was fitty years ago tonite
Sargent Shriver taught us wrong from right

No wonder de Tokeville came from France
to knock out a book of quotations

A frontier lot we were, a load in our collective pants
City Slickers got released & then the sequel

The rest is not quite history but you’re getting warm
Coast to coast we’re clean as hounds’ teeth in the rear

& spend more on toilet training cats
Than certain U.N. members do on condoms

Thanks to Our Way Of Life & Miramax & Jerry Wexler
But mostly thanks to "Bowel"

-- William Carlos Williams

The city has tits in rows.
The country is in the main--male,
It butts me with blunt stub-horns,
Forces me to oppose it
Or be trampled.

The city is full of milk
And lies still for the most part.
These crack skulls
And spill brains
Against her stomach.

Bargain Hunt
-- Ron Padgett

for Tessie

Suppose you found a bargain so incredible
you stood there stunned for a moment
unable to believe that this thing could be
for sale at such a low price: that is what happens
when you are born, and as the years go by
the price goes up and up until, near the end
of your life, it is so high that you lie there
stunned forever.

April 29, 2013

I heard there was a secret chord that David played
and it pleased the lord
but you don’t really care for music do ya

Giosetta Fioroni, Liberty, 1965

* From Harper's May 2013:

-- Estimated percentage change since 2007 in the number of U.S. veterans committing suicide each day: +22

-- Percentage change since 1980 in California's spending on public universities: -13

-- On prisons: +436

-- Profits earned by Facebook last year: $1,100,000,000

-- Tax refund the company received from the federal government: $429,000,000

* Replacements bootlegs.

* "Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen." -- Robert Bresson

April 23, 2013

Sitting on a subway train and
Watching all the people lose their senses

Rebecca Kennedy, Glowing Eyes, Pastel

Children's Book
-- David Berman

My children's book will commence
with a moment of remarkable traction
when a semi-circle of eyeshadow cannons,
two warthog musketeers drafted
from the realm of Functional/Unwanted,
and an adolescent clerk with
the ghost of his father
living inside his haircut,
meet up in the misty borderlands
at the climax of authorial impairment
for a journey deep into the tie-breakers.

Like the wigs of continental congressmen,
the clouds in my children's book will hang over
a housing development called Scotland Groin
whose residents will suffer from an insomnia
caused by the wearing of tophats;
greatly complicated by random explosions
coming every few pages
from a nearby paper bag factory.

There will be plenty of lads
with boiled cheeks,
the requisite foolish old woman
riding an ironing board out to sea,
as well as terrific deer salons
with bramble perimeters
and a battleship made of harmonicas
wheezing in the bay.

There will be kid ideas woven into the story
like "Kick a rock, change the world",
and a disembodied voice that solemnly asks
"who can apologize for the way things are"
after a group of senior citizens
is abruptly turned into wild animals.

The characters will travel
over stale beer creeks
and through eight room forests,
hauling convivial objects
that have many times survived their ownership
up wind-lickt heights
and over grassy hemispheres
until they are so far outside
the administered world,

with all their wristwatches gone dark,
and all their cheeks scratched by rain,
in a hard-to-see place
where no rules obtain
and someone else's dream
dying in their hearts.

Swing Shift Blues
-- Alan Dugan

What is better than leaving a bar
in the middle of the afternoon
besides staying in it or not
having gone into it in the first place
because you had a decent woman to be with?
The air smells particularly fresh
after the stale beer and piss smells.
You can stare up at the whole sky:
it's blue and white and does not
stare back at you like the bar mirror,
and there's Whats-'is-name coming out
right behind you saying, "I don't
believe it, I don't believe it: there
he is, staring up at the fucking sky
with his mouth open. Don't
you realize, you stupid son of a bitch,
that it is a quarter to four
and we have to clock in in
fifteen minutes to go to work?"
So we go to work and do no work
and can even breathe in the Bull's face
because he's been into the other bar
that we don't go to when he's there.

April 15, 2013

my love is bigger than your love

Stanton Macdonald-Wright, Conception Synchromy, 1914

* Excerpts from an interview with Paul Fericano (editor/publisher of The Broadsider and Poor Souls Press, and editor and co-founder of the first parody news syndicate, Yossarian Universal News Service (1980). He is the instigator of the Howitzer Prize hoax (1982) and founder of Stoogism (1976), a mock-literary movement that mocked all literary movements.):

Q: Do you believe "Stoogism" has seen justice? That literature can confront the “prison” of the spirit and mind?

PF: Absolutely. True poetic justice is our obsession to be connected to everyone and everything with little or no intention of communicating honestly. Reality TV is one indication that we are slowly slipping into the morass of our own frenzied non-existence. We happily immerse ourselves in the underwater wrecks of other people’s lives week after week. Many of us claim to be abhorred by this painful, public spectacle of self-conscious, self- revilement. And yet, we have no problem informing the rest of the world on Facebook that the sushi we ate last night gave us diarrhea. If literature is ever going to confront the prison of the spirit and the mind it has to do it through consequence and circumstance. Expanding the inconsequential and imploring the circumstantial are risky but necessary components of a sane presence. Accept what you don’t know and you embrace a genuine life free of mouthwash commercials, SUVs, and people eager to show you they aren’t wearing any underpants.
Q: Are there any memories from Ginsberg, Bukowski, A.D. Winans, Micheline and Kaufman, which you’d like to share with us?

PF: I first met Allen Ginsberg in 1981 at the American Library Association convention in San Francisco. I had an exhibitor’s table with my press at the time, Scarecrow Books, and Stoogsim Anthology was on display. Ginsberg dropped by with his entourage in tow and stopped at my table. He picked up a copy of Stoogism and started reading it. Then he smiled and asked what possessed me to put together such an outrageous anthology. I told him about a dream I had one night in 1975. I was sitting with Moe in a pew at old St. Mary’s Cathedral on California Street when he turned to me and said as clear as a bell: “This place is haunted.” (I didn’t know how right he was until years later.) As a kid I was a huge fan of the Three Stooges so I figured the dream was a message of some kind. Shortly after that the idea for Stoogism arose and the anthology was just part of a natural progression. Ginsberg seemed to appreciate this explanation. He even mentioned how he once dreamt of Harpo Marx speaking to him in Groucho’s voice. Then he reached into his pocket and paid for Stoogism Anthology with a crumpled five-dollar bill.....

The only contact I ever had with Bukowski was when he sent me a postcard around 1980. It bore his return address in San Pedro and arrived unsolicited and out of the blue. I always assumed Bukowski heard about and maybe even saw a copy of Stoogism Anthology from poet Gerald Locklin (who appeared in the anthology and was a good friend of Bukowski’s), but I never got around to asking Gerry. The post card was great fun. Bukowski scribbled only two words on the back: “stoogism” and “ass-boggling.” Then he signed his name next to a small drawing of a face. I wrote him back and thanked him but never heard from Bukowski again.

* “We are put on this planet only once, and to limit ourselves to the familiar is a crime against our minds.” - Roger Ebert

April 10, 2013

the nights of my professional life

Lee Krasner, Summer Play, 1965

The Art of Simulated Poetry
-- Paul Fericano

the creative process here
is both difficult and challenging
but also highly rewarding

this being the task:
the poem
correctly analyzed and programmed
into an extremely effective
poem model
creating the perfect operative
poem image
eventually validating
the poem itself
and thereby completing the cycle
within the created environment
but without the continuation
of reality
to achieve aesthetic results

of course
the easy part is getting the grant.

Learning How to Make Love
-- Denise Duhamel

This couple couldn't figure it out.
The man licked his wife's genitals while she stared straight ahead.
The woman poked her husband's testicles with her nose.
The man put his toe in the folds of the woman's vulva.
The woman took the man's penis under her armpit.
Neither one of them wanted to be the first to admit
something was off. So it went on --
the man put his finger in his wife's navel.
The woman batted her eyelashes against the arch of her husband's foot.
They pinched each other's earlobes. They bit each other's rear ends.
To perpetrate the lie, they ended each encounter with a deep sigh.
Then one day while the husband was hunting,
a man stopped by the igloo and said to the wife:
I hear you have been having trouble.
I can show you how to make love.
He took her to bed and left before the husband came home.
Then the wife showed her husband,
careful to make it seem like the idea sprang
from both. After all these years of rubbing one's face against the other's belly
or stroking a male elbow behind a female knee,
this couple had a lot of catching up to do. They couldn't stop to eat or sleep
and grew so skinny they died. No one found them for a long time.
And by then, their two skeletons were fused into one.

April 4, 2013

You are a book for me to read
Line after line I read on and on
You are a film for me to see
A string of frames that just goes on and on and on

Christopher Merlyn, Clockwork, 2007

* From Harper's April 2013:

-- Portion of American gun deaths in 2011 that were suicides: 2/3

-- Number of reports of record-high temperatures by U.S. cities: 362

-- Number of reports of record lows: 0

-- Chances that a U.S. worker doesn't get paid sick leave: 2 in 5

-- Percentage change since 1992 in the portion of U.S. women who diet: -32

* Chickfactor interviews Thalia Zedeck.

* "What America is, to me, is a guy doesn't want to buy, you let him not buy, you respect his not buying. A guy has a crazy notion different from your crazy notion, you pat him on the back and say hey, pal, nice crazy notion, let's go have a beer. America to me should be shouting all the time, a bunch of shouting voices, most of them wrong, some of them nuts, but, please, not just one droning glamorous reasonable voice." -- George Saunders, from the short story My Flamboyant Grandson