Call me Earth Punk and fuck you if you don’t. I’m not here for the fashion. I’m not here for the hair. I’m not here for the scene or the being seen. I’m here for the passion. I’m here for the song. I’m here for the truth and noise and anger and politics. I’m here for the dirt. For digging in dirt. For the politics of dirt. Digging the loam, the must, the marrow, digging the mirror of the mind, the unkempt world, digging the space between molecules, the space between us, the lines and lack of lines, the borderless, the endless flow and interchange, the pulsing skinless fallacy of I. I’m here for the digging. I’m here for the roots and air, the striving outward, the grappling. I’m here for the suck of wind, the information of sun, for the finding of the dew. I’m here for the rain. For the sheer cleansing drench of rain. For the pounding soaking rain that drums away difference, that drains away spite. That deionizes the sky and land. That deionizes us, turns friction into grass, melts conflict into luscious soil, feeds life. I’m here for the taste of it, the taste of earth in my cells, the scent of lightning, the hair-raising audacity of trees. The resoluteness of trees. Got conflict? Got oppression? Got strife? Yes! Lie face down between old roots and take a deep draught. Then decide a course of action. The politics of earth are no different than the human melee. Yes, we love each other, and yes, we fuck each other up, always have and always will just like moon ocean rock ice leaf flame rain dust. But unlike our muddled monkey-sight, the ideology of soil is relatively pure – live and rot, become, transmit, transform. Sure, you can rape life, sell the air, pretend to own the sun, rip and tear and die writhing in inexorable need, or you can be the vine that twines and stays. Eat dirt, sisterbrothers. Drink sky, my friends. Wrap yourselves in lakes and stone. Those are not commands. You know me. I don’t command. I don’t even ask. Those are what you do every day. Those are what you are. Dig?
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IT’S HERE! :: Sudden Windows, my new book of flash prose, Is being released on Sunday, June 19 at The Octopus Literary Salon in downtown Oakland, and I’m very excited. Haven’t had a new book with real pages and binding and everything since Poems for Teeth in 2005. Sorry for the long wait! But I think you’ll find it was worth it.
This is a collection of short prose pieces the likes of which you can find on this very Home Page any month of the year. Some have in fact appeared here and some have not. Some might be prose poems. Some might be rants (like this month – ahem!). Some might be unretouched snapshots of the far-too-retouched world. Some might be tiny fables trickling from my leaky mind. But all are windows waiting for you to gaze, and perhaps fall, through. Please do have a gander.
Jennifer Blowdryer says, “These are not crossword puzzles for the recoil of lush indignation. They are about a death in the family, a life in the family, and a call to spin, rustily and noisily, through this stint on earth, trying not to plagiarize emotions or listlessly cover hits.”
Joan Gelfand says, “Loranger is no innocent bystander. He becomes one with the earth as with a lover’s body. He tussles and then melts into it until we feel his bones turning to ash…. Add a pinch of anger, a tablespoon of despair and a cup of rage and you have a book that, shot out like a rocket to space, shall endure through the ages. I’d like to read this book in heaven.”
But don’t take their word for it – check it out and let me know what you think. Really. Let me the heck know.
Copies available NOW through Zeitgeist Press – just click on the press and it can be yours. Or if you’re in the SF Bay Area, come on down to The Octopus on June 19, and help me celebrate along with readers Bruce Isaacson, MK Chavez, JK Fowler, Julia Vinograd, Paul Corman-Roberts, and the inimitable Steve Arntson. Joan Gelfand will be hosting, because after reading the book for a blurb, she insisted. Which I take as a good sign. Your money back if you don’t leave enlightened. Of course, what is money anyway, really? And the event is free of charge.
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Beat to a foot-pulp in Yosemite Village Café and getting ready for more. Let the tendons rip from their moors – I’m gonna see this beautiful shit. Gonna breathe it. Gonna atomize into that pine-fed mist. Is this living? You betcha! Cause it’s finding the planet we live on. Sniffing and scratching this big rock. And why should that matter? Because without it you have nothing, and without recognizing that you have less than nothing. You have only your fake insatiable black hole self. Your I, which without a we to give it revv and make and cause becomes drifting molecules, not mist, less effectual than mist, no matter what construct of power you may daub, purposeless and toxic, like particulates but less interesting, like pollution, like stain. Which doesn’t mean you can’t redeem yourself with a little hard-trail pain. So hit the road, brothersister, hit the fuckin hills and find yourself a frillless fill. I’m a-gonna right now.
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REFLECT :: Yes, went to Yosemite for the first time in years to clamber around, sleep in the woods, and variously injure myself. But seriously, really, went for the waterfalls, which are in full bloom after several years of drought, and who knows when they’ll pour like this again. Had a seriously sexy geologic time making out with giant cliffs and snuggling with redwoods and the pine-prone soil. A few days is not enough to let it really soak your cells, and a crowded weekend is very strange, making the trails feel more like a Disney ride, but a few thousand breaths of old earth is enough to carry with me for a while. Really felt my age this time, can remember skipping up the Half Dome trail with friends at 26 (damn you, twenty-somethings!), and this time wasn’t prepped as much as I could (practically gotta prep to make toast these days), and had to turn around before the top of Vernal Falls. Still the gorgeousity was everywhere, did walk by rushing crashing streams, inhale a lot of sequoia, and gaze at length into Mirror Lake, and most of all, I know that I’ll be back there soon for a quieter, longer stay.
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And the wind, luscious and brutal – what is it? Breath of gods, fingers of fate, a pushy New Yorker huge and invisible shoving his way across the plains, everything bouncing around on the shelf of a tumbling rock, bouncing, tumbling air and particulates and molecules, but really force, a force, torque of earth tossing us carelessly about, tearing screens and cracking mountains, heralding the transience of all things. So those who fear mortality and decay and drifting sand often also fear the wind, hate and oppress it with walls and roofs and cloaks and shields, just as they hate and fear darkness, and wilderness, and the disreason of their own minds. As they hate and fear others, and themselves, because we are also wind, a force of the planet, physics of matter and motion, and there is no reason in physics, but there is beauty. And as such, you are terribly beautiful, and don’t let anyone fucking tell you that you aren’t.
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REFLECT :: More tons of fun this month attending an unholy number of lit events, total of eighteen in May, seven in the last week alone, hosting a couple hours of the Nomadic Press Marathon Reading at the Oakland Book Festival, tromping around the San Mateo Peninsula with Marvin Hiemstra and around the Bay poetry scene with Lonely Christopher, and managing to fit in coffee dates with a few lovelies. Less fun having nowhere near enough work, getting crushed by bills, getting fingers crushed by a garage door, having my computer and phone acting up, and having my van declared undrivable by the Douchbag Mobility Vampires. But somehow all of that, ALL OF THAT is salved and sparkled and vigored and rebirthed by the sweetest, most inspiring, supercharged, levitational, DNA-altering poetry party of the decade, and the final lit event of the month after an avalanche of amazing wordification. That was a small salon to honor the presence of Bill Polak, poet and carpenter extraordinaire, who made a rare visit to the Bay Area this last week of May. Bill was a seminal influence in the SF poetry scene of the early-mid-1980’s, catalyzing and recharging part of the scene after the dissipation of the Old Spaghetti Factory readings (read your SF poetry history, kids!). Along with Ralph LaCharity, he started one of the few post-Spaghetti series at the Chelsea Square Café at the corner of Polk and California Streets, which morphed into the Chelsea Square Open Air readings actually on the corner after the café itself closed down. That led to the Meat Market series in Noe Valley which led to the Café Babar readings. He also founded Bench Press, which published Julia Vinograd’s award-winning Book of Jerusalem, and Crow, an adamant photocopy journal of crest-of-the-wave post-Beat SF poetry that was later helmed by David Gollub through the Babar years, and spun off into W’orc’s by LaCharity (who occasionally still puts out an issue). Bill Polak wandered off in 1986, just before the start of Café Babar, and was nary heard of since. Of course that’s not true, just not by us, until I met up with him last year in Cincinnati, where it turns out Ralph LaCharity has been hiding him all these years. Somewhere in there he also founded what became the Jawbone Open Poetry Festival in Kent, OH, which has been running now more than twenty-five years (hover over link for a brief history). This is a man of industry we are talking about here, a man of taste and vision. So when I heard in late April that he was planning to stop through within the month, of course I selfishly and without question wanted to hear him read. Now Bill to his credit is adverse to big to-do’s, as well as to the pomp of featured readings with all their publicity and important introductions and everything – he’s an old open mic man, a lover of the spew and the vox populi – so instead I set up a little salon to bring together a few poet-friends from back in the day, and a few others who I thought would be simpatico to the Polak word-earth zoom. I was hoping for a nice little gathering, but had no idea I was lighting a match to a great big kiln. I’ve written about a lot of excellent readings this past year, but this was transcendent, a force that had been bubbling below the surface for decades. And why is that? Because the circle that Bill was part of, and partly energized, carried a giant giddy charge of San Francisco Poetry Energy from the late Beats toward the Café Babar and beyond, engendering all kinds of stuff along the way. Because that circle was its own specific energy, its own specific wild horse force that morphed into something else when Bill left. And even with just a few original members present, that circle re-formed for the first time in decades, and whaddaya know, there was that horse rearing again in the middle of the room, and rather antsy after such a long sleep. A little gentler, perhaps, a little more wizened, but that same unbridled current, that same electric shoobadoo. Five of us were there from back in the day: Bill, QR Hand, Rudy Jon Tanner, Julia Vinograd, and myself. And four were simpatico guests there to ride the ancient energy: Jan Steckel and Steve Arntson, who both joined the gang a bit later during the Babar years; Kate Polak, Bill’s daughter on the wind with him from Ohio; and Debbie Vinograd, Julia’s sister, who offered her amazing art-filled space for the event. Those were the elements, and chi was the charge, and to say we sat around and read to each other and shared music and art and stories would not tell the tale. We melded, in a way that only family can meld, the family that forms when living creatures recognize each other.
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Chip. Chip away. Chip and flake. Grain by grain, you disappear. You change. You crack. You who have stood for time out of mind. Who have been left here, who are the negative space of glaciers, who have been carved by rivers, by the action of water. Who have remained, for the moment, to complete your own action. Chipping. Flaking. Granulating. Remaining and changing. This is your action. You become. You reveal. There’s that basalt. There’s that vein of gold. There’s that freshest stream, coursing underground for eons, emerging from your face.