Falling

, as one does.  Because one does.  Movement toward the larger, compulsory, losing grip.  Compulsive.  A whirling in the ear belies, the eyes know only sky and sand.  We wring and rage, plummet toward the carpet, shriek in the late night streets.  Precipitation breaks the fall just as it instigates the spring.  And where the bed?  The loaming field?  We find feathers all about us in the air, pressure on the chest and face and groin and splaying limbs, and pungent soil rising somewhere underneath.  And we bequeath.

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ANNOUNCE  ::  I’ll have a few blinklists, pieces of my text art, up for the month of March at 17 Jewels, a spa on Telegraph Ave in Oakland, along with a few gorgeous pieces of also wordart by Sara Biel.  There’ll be an opening on Friday, March 7 from 6-8 as part of the Oakland Art Murmur / First Fridays events, which will include a reading by myself, Sara Biel, Kevin DeMary, and Aqueila Lewis.  Stop on by for fresh words on the walls and in the air!

ANNOUNCE  ::   I’m super happy to have a piece in the Spring 2014 issue of The Marsh Hawk Review, the online journal for Marsh Hawk Press.  This issue is edited by Bay Area poet and novelist Mary Mackey, who rocks the socks in my opinion.  It includes 20 fab contributors including Marge Piercy, Al Young, Dennis Nurkse, Jane Ormerod, Joan Gelfand, and, uh, myself.  Mary has graciously chosen to print ”Upon Reading Something”, a poem I wrote in response to reading the first part of Ed Dorn‘s The Gunslinger, and more especially the intro by Marjorie Perloff.  So now you know where the darn thing came from.  The journal comes in the form of a 40-page downloadable pdf.  Just click on the title above, or here, to find it..

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Round the carousel respires a musty pas de trois recanted, recanted until breath becomes a sage sere way packeting a pure chinook.  To fill the bellows to bursting then let the land ride out is a sure day on the continent beneath the addled stars.  Finding, finding we catenate and pile until the sheer black locket cannot be found.  Go to ground, and let the wind prevail, and you may flood the body with enough joie de vivre to sound the shale for matter, mind for mud.  Then, in the distance, calliope and pas de trois tinkle on across the plains, singing the stains of the human heart and the stars of a sureshot eye.

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REFLECT  ::  Had an actually magnificent time last month at the San Francisco Writers Conference, bumming around with a ragtag bunch of poets and musicians in the superswank Mark Hopkins Hotel.  We were somewhat misfits at this huge event that’s focused greatly on the fiction and non-fiction publishing industry, and what a joy to mis-fit with the likes of Mary Mackey, Andy Jones, Aya de Leon, Joan Gelfand, Michael Zapruder, and Brad Henderson.  Was asked last year by Joan to present at the last minute, and had mixed feelings and impressions about the affair, where the poets can easily, if unintentionally, become ghettoized.  But this year’s troupe was rockin’ the stockin’, drawing interest from lotsa folks with lively presentations, vigorous debates, and a couple of kickass readings.  This year’s poetry track was org’d and run by Bookbaby’s Brian Felsen and Chris Robley, and Brian also did a truckload of extra presenting and moderating himself when Chris was snowed in to Boston (he may still be there somewhere under the ice).  Basically, I’m saying that B. Felsen was the poetry superhero of the weekend, and really needs to design himself a spandex costume – not to discount the vast fine work they both put in.  Did a lightning critique session at the unspeakable hour of 9am, a presentation mixing text with music and visual art (super-fun), and an electric reading/performance with Mary, Aya, and Michael.  Also caught a couple of terrif panels on using poetry to feed your prose (and vice-versa), and a crazy interesting discussion called “Are Poets Better Off Now Than 200 Years Ago?”, which I expected to be about our towering victory over tuberculosis, but which actually generated a lot of fierce debate over the pros and cons of overpopulation, the internet, pop culture, self-publishing, and a slew of other hotbutton wordcraft issues.  Went to a shimmery awesome open mic with a jazz trio (Don Alberts on keyboard, Barry Finnerty on guitar, and Brad Henderson on drums) who played gorgeously behind everyone from microphone virgins to grizzled veterans like myself and special guest Liana Holmberg (nix the grizzled part for her), and which proffered moments both ecstatic and surreal, with words tumbling from writers of all sorts from all corners of the country – a singular event.  Managed to get stuck in traffic for the second big reading by Micah Ballard, Indigo Moor, Arisa White, and Matthew Zapruder, but heard it left people walking on fire.  All in all, superimpressed with the quality of work and thought, and the generosity and connectedness that the poetry folks and attendees and presenters in general all seemed happy to impart, and I’ll certainly be there next year, if they’ll have me.

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Close to combustion the bomb sits quietly in your palm.  It knows.  You know.  And the day moves on with sun and breeze.  Which is more important?  The question dances around like an imp in the street, singing I said so, I said so, I said so in the fine falsetto of the uninformed.  A bee buzzes by, all about that scrumptious nectar, focused full.  The bomb sits.  In the distance you hear a gentle crashing that might just be the sea.  Yes, that’s definitely salt in the air.  You turn and walk toward it.

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REVIEW  ::  Death & Disaster Series by Lonely Christopher

I am either showing my overlarge cajones or tossing myself posthaste into poet’s hell, but regardless I am going to make a few comments on a book which is partially dedicated to me.  That would be Death & Disaster Series by Lonely Christopher, NY poet, fictionist, and playwright.  This fellow has concocted a deeply moving poetry for the 21st Century, filled with grief and rage and confusion and tremulous hope, both challenging and essential.  Informed by poetics ranging from traditional prosody to the most contemporary esoteric conceptual/linguistic, this work is refreshingly not about or focused on poetics, as so much has been, but rather functions as a medium – and I am thinking agar, limen, fuel – for Lonely Christopher to lay bare heart and mind.  Or rip them out and splat them on the altar.  This is dark stuff for dark times sucked through the cornea of a young man losing a beloved parent, but also a young man working out how to live in and unkempt and oft indifferent world, who looks toward love and hope simply because he has experienced them and knows they’re there to be found.  On the one hand we have (from “To Loosen the Hand and Have Mercy”):

Songs of power and discord have reached
me in my stupor, you are a dream I crush
between my sibilant toes and the carpet
when I have no more joys for the weight
of late capitalism and a good john who
cares as much about the rise as the fall
 

and on the other (from “Friend Song):

O my friends
take coverage
under the unsaid
verbiage
O my friends
be my friends
in an extracurricular
space
accidents provided
 

Death & Disaster Series comprises three sections, or smaller books which are really series unto themselves:  “Poems in June”, “Crush Dream”, and “Challenger”.   Respectively, they document the experiences that Christopher had watching his mother suffer from late-stage, undertreated cancer; his ensuing grief and witnessing his relationships and world through the filter of all that pain; and, as time passed, a more reflective stance in which the pain is still present, but garnering a distance and finding its place relative to other challenges of Late-capitalist America.  So there are lamentations, yes, many, honest, often brief and incisive; but also rants, vignettes, lyrics, abstract stretches, phrase jumbles, and the occasional narrative and haiku-like flash regarding the politics of queer love and sex, faith, money, desperation, and the purpose of art in our dark and plastic culture.  But more than anything, these are very readable and relatable moments, pangs, howls that show an obstinate determination – not just of Christopher, not just of youth, but, we hope, ourselves, all of us – to persevere, to clear sight, and to flourish whenever possible and otherwise just maintain attitude in the face of the adversity and chaos of a crumbling state.  Witness this adorable smidgen of attitude from “Before Breakfast”:

OK just push me
I will put up my dynamite
and do something pretty
with it
I will go all Bugs Bunny
in my leathery bolster
the little girls turn green
bleed out when I cut their
magazines
kiss my chemotherapy
I do more fucked up shit before breakfast
than you’ve ever dared or dreamed.
 

No kidding.

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Crashing, crashing down on March to sanctify the wretched grass and the dry determination of our lives with a drop of rare alembic from the corner of the sky.  How the breeze can make a difference, while oil splatters from the planes of greed gobs of paleozoic upon our lingering lines.  Already the politicians are clamoring for more, more, so to give us less, less, while we recline transfixed by network as our children die for beads.  Oh give us protein, give us rain, that we may give them to ourselves.  It’s been a bitter month, though it isn’t always, and I can only hope the patience of another day, that I may sheave the heart to wheel, that you can find the space and time for ruth, that we can all have ruth.

Sincerely,
Richard

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