Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bad Poems Written By Famous Poets (Issue #7)

The Devastating Fecundity Of Being by Heinrich Hiene (translated by Harry Hiney)

I squirted hand soap on my toothbrush this morning.
This cannot be a good sign of things to come.
The things I ask myself while getting dressed:
How many days in a row have I worn this shirt?
Do these pants stink in the rear end?
Are there too many holes in these socks?
My Fräulein has left me for an artificial lawn salesman,
and the snow is piss yellow in my dreams.
The prosaic and dull lock arms with Saint-Simonian hoodlums
while my temper steadies and dips, and my spirit wanes.
God, would you look at this sad sack of Spätzle and Sauerbraten?
My right to whine is uncontestable, though,
and I get around the more obvious mores with less pizzazz than a subterranean mole.
Shapes that shape me,
the rough-edged powder-haired ditz of my ways.
I am offered less than lower seeps of try to give cares their worn out where,
in the bundle of sheep-eyed morticians’ contoured glibness.   
Guess my weight.
Win a doorknob.
It is all I’ve got.

The Oiled Motions Of Avoidance by Pablo Neruda (translated by Howie “Boy” Dukes)

Lowly, in sweeps the hybrid breeze to coastal nests and
climbs ringing
in surety. I too
have similar rants to match less wits than
who take home supper
Seaweed pie and crabby hunches
I’ll never see--
aquamarine tides of thought lingered to forever’s bask.
Got placenta marmalade?
I platonically smash igneous rock to splintered chips, with
or without
detrimental attached worship of myself.
I glue glitter to my boxing gloves to avoid
malfeasance fees.
I oversee the feeding of Australian spotted qoulls in dreary late-night outcrops
just like 24-hour cafeterias at 4 a.m. on a Tuesday.
Nobody hassles me for the time of day.
Nobody snitches.
There are more colugos and nitwit eutharians in all the realms of
mystique and horror
than in any distant corner of the scrubbed and polished world
we partake in.
Guessing the difference,
our scrabbling overwhelms us with visitors; and
it is not
too early for some
atrocity of selfish love to wreck in the wrack
sailing ships come to honeymoon
with Spicebush Swallowtails in the sea-green clouds of destiny.
We are little, but
in touch. Forgive me,
mother, for I
have not
sinned enough.  

In The Peas by Arthur Rimbaud (translated by Grayson Silver)

I’ll tell you how it’s going,
It’s going shitty.
Fire me.
I’m not worth my weight in wine.
Dying is about all I’m good for,
deposed and shit on by sun and moon alike.
Deprive me of one fist and I will only
punch all the more with the other.
Bloody sheets. Bloody shoes. Bloody mouth. Bloody life.
I’m putting all my francs in the death trade,
in the jaws of wolves and hideous men.
I’m an upstart slacker,
a horseless carriage with no rider,
and on the shit-brown shores of uncompensated lust,
I get by on borrowed swagger,
swindled out of my last suit,
left for alive in the short burst of tedium’s dread.
Shit, I’ve staved off madness for this long.
Might as well not give up just yet,
I guess.

Gooby’s Lament by Federico García Lorca (translated by Henry “Shot Put” Cortez)

            I had a handle-with-care label affixed to my heart and a pack of temporary tattoos in my back pocket. There was everywhere to walk to, and we did. Just yesterday, presenting late company to be excluded, we lolled in tulips’ swiped daffodil-yellow. She had all the jokes, and all I knew were punch lines that didn’t go with them. A no-bell prize. A maybe knot. And in the sweeter tending of hapless jabs at jobless wonder, we had it and lost it at once. It wakened what wasn’t dangerous enough while the squirrel monkeys scrambled and fed, while the hats slept beneath the bed, while hours counted themselves out before we had time to be poor in days. A fold of up. An out of down. Brushed off-and-on with a tug at shabby skies, we held out for less and got bargained into more. For a ritzy shot at resisting rest, for a moss-and-string placard of dust-colored chagrin reading, “Just Be Klutz” in the shape of a ginger rhizome, for valueless valor, for creeps and jerks of old and doofus rage, we strained backwards to a perfect fault and found backwash tinged with love in the lees of our last together. Over lights. Covered under. Raining up with drunken kudzu. Splashed dry, we tumbled and forgave kumquats their slow float. We skimmed the nights with greedy eyes while the booze hummed my name below the music our mouths made out of neon and saffron and cephalopod dreams.   


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Bad Poems Written By Famous Poets (Issue #6)

The Girls Down By The Striptease Shows by Charles Bukowski 

We are all worth less than what we owe
To all the worthless eyes around here
The saddest guy on the block
Tripping over his own dismal shoelaces
In the lightest dark you’ve ever seen
We are all tipsy in the afterglow
The sheen of buses going by
It’s less than windows breaking in the feints of dawn
But we keep tipping so it’s okay
In the musty clump of ourselves
To find ATM receipts and combs with broken teeth
We are drawn and floated over
We are packed up in a suitcase and smuggled overseas
We pay for our dalliances and then some
Nobody’s running green lights
Nobody’s stopping my mail
So get your goddamn hands off her
And let me pass
Waltzing by without a cent to my name
Just a bad haircut and a torn suit jacket
A battered brain and a patched-together life
We are well aware of the extenuating circumstances surrounding your demise
It’s just that the expiration date for your coupon for survival
Has passed
And we’ve got more indecencies per square foot than any place around
Get the paper
If that puts the pants on you mornings
And keeps them on all day
We expect less than most
And in the distance where the horses race the sad dogs of winter
For tomato juice disasters
And ground beef dealers
Who keep talking and talking no matter what and through all kinds of no matter what
So just for asking
For hire
For that long-shot hope that keeps ruin in your veins
Just for the courage to stalk the moon along streets long dead with lamplight
Because it’s just that the wise time has gone
And the blinding lights of taxis is enough to keep us from seeing
What it is
We’d rather not ever be

Loosed by Diane di Prima

the one-armed diabetic taxi driver
who swears twice in every sentence at least
karaokes The Only Living Boy In New York   
just about every night
after his shift
at Club Tango Tango on California
he wears a studded bracelet 
and a black ZZ Top tank top
and his voice trembles into a falsetto every time
and the audience roars
and the KJ claps and screams his name
Lewis! Lewis!
his name is Louie
the only living boy
or taxi driver
in New York
or San Francisco
or wherever the hell else
as if it matters

The Doorman Of Ewer Place by Robert Hass

I see this guy walk by all the time,
sometimes with a girl,
mostly alone;
and one time
cradling a bottle scotch.
He seemed happy that time--
more than the others.
I like his shoes;
they seem comfortable.
And he always,
wears a tie.
I respect that.
Sometimes I think that
maybe this guy,
he’s just a short-order cook,
or a busboy,
or a file clerk at a hospital,
but then,
who knows?
It could be he’s the manager of Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club,
or the VP of some up and coming startup,
or perhaps just a barista at Peet’s. 
I don’t know.
All I do know
is that this guy,
he walks by this building all the time,
every night pretty much,
and sometimes a few times a day too.
I guess there are still some things
you can depend on in this world.
Well, at least he’s not embarrassed about himself,
I am,
quivering alone here by the door,
listening to the sound of all these cars swishing by and
making their futile noise in the street,
opening the door for these refined duds
who reek of sour sumac and high-end perfume,
and who walk dogs that eat better than most people.
I have thoughts of other lives
I could be leading
quite often.
But not this guy
whom I always see walking by,
face sort of smashed in and pocked like a war-scarred anteater,
fluffed hair like a chopped-up clown wig,
wizened chap-lipped mouth,
and eyes--
well, I’ve never seen eyes quite like that:
sort of dim, but playful and deadly,
moody and sublime.
this guy?
This guy,
he’s probably got it all figured out,
and I bet there’s nowhere else he’d rather be
than right where he is,
wherever it is that he’s going
walking by this building all the time.

Oliver’s Stoning by Li-Young Lee

brash professionalism
out of keeping with who’s diving up
turns in
to not be heart worthy
hardly a heel
would take a knack to it
sweethearts of another era
and now it’s the sunshine barking of the damn dogs
go without it
try and forget
one moist towelette
no longer wet 
another life story never told
weep in the cottonwood shade
because like ai wieie says
there are no outdoor sports as graceful as throwing stones at a dictatorship

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Bad Poems Written By Famous Poets (Issue #5)

A Banana In The Moon by Lawrence Ferlinghetti  

Walk these streets in a sour and confused state, tongue firmly planted inside cheek. Lonely gargoyles? Check. Had to tooth it between Jones and Taylor. Forget it. I’m made for spying on guys carrying gas cans into alleyways. I’m on a list of automobile deserters. I don’t make small talk with strangers. Checkerboard windows overlooking cityscape of drab off-whites and clay-baked roofs. I do not have time for troublemakers. Please, tip me over so I can swim before I fall uphill. Torment the jackhammers of the morning with silence. Toss potato peels to the pigeons. Take care of my debts with horseshoes and Barleywine. Just don’t let the ribbons of your past get tied together to trip you or bind your hands. The tenement buildings and scrubbed-clean Vicotrians line up across from each other along the narrow one-way, steeped in some stolid posture of repose. Lines forever drawn in cement and in stone. I am idling near their prospects. Brandishing a lightheaded nerve, a mordant glee like pain’s joy, I co-opt a few dreamy misgivings from the liquor store and make reluctant thoughts my give-and-take glory. “Hop to it,” scream the socialite worms. “It is high about time nigh that you wrap your head around some of this gunk. Just you hurry. Wait.” The real indiscretion here is one of lazy bumptious swagger. The real culprit is a sad Blue Jay named Robin. Well, there’s more clomp left in these shoes then you’d think. But how happy we used to be sitting in sun-filled windows drinking beer. And now, well, the windows have all gone dark and the bottle’s filled with gnats, and I sing of listless things that round corners in the dark. You too might meekly rankle the leeway of power from fading daylight. A shift in temperament might be nice. Think of it: a daring welt in the surface of being you for a moment. Trouble is, we don’t make music out of enough of it. Trouble is. We’re down and off key, swinging with simplicity, implicitly troubled, late-sleeping bastards that we are, walking past liquor stores a few times before going in. It’s lights out in Worry City. I am not ever ready, and I don’t ever make my bed. The go is all gone from my afternoon. The watchers of game shows take the rift from the spoils and eat cake for lunch. I get wished a nice day about a hundred times a day by people who talk into their collars, who sniff the wonder from their lives with phone calls, who make money and then die with it. We are all steamed with bored delusions of everything being locked and simple into the memory our portable devices. There are no contact lists in heaven; I’m pretty sure of it. But in hell? Who’s to say it’s any worse than this? Download my sentiments. Store them for a later date. No. Shit. Here it is: Take pleasure in noticing the smallest things, the things nobody else notices. Be the tangible and incoherent and abstract nothing that you are at all times. Scrape by, just barely. Eke out what you can from the corrupt and twisted dynamics of the thing. And at last, be alone. After all, you are nothing without it. Could the rest of our cares wash the streets free of who we’ve been up until now? It’s a tossup, and I’m up for none of it. Down, down, down, down. That is all that is left.   

The Oldest Cowboy In The Bar by Randall Jarrell 

sail or search out
in for it
rallying past a cry
to top or shove
glamour down
guess first
it’d test out
it’d drum for the lights
fashion taps at fingers
swell at last
to guess closer
still swimming
out of it
keep shaving
keep in gear
we are not memories
the moon’s hung with violets
blunder better
we get mentioned
we get so tired of our own company
there’ll be a piano in the swimming pool
there’ll be ruins to explore
rattling traps
something leveled serious
through cahuengas of drift
no mottled cheer
no chancier weather than this
some dusky loft of complacency
grouped apart
there isn’t an ask left in us
so we cull a try
from a swarm of weddings
that’ll do no bad
that’ll pan fries and unplug the fridge
born right away from
vanished stereos translating love
into money
upped all the way down
only to swing with less sweep
bowling for neckties
a stick that squares
and doesn’t stay
eons gone since a last kiss
picked between strawberries
we’re hardly figured 
perpendicular to all parallels
in voice-activated gloom
as taxi lights
draw us asleep without windows
like lassoed clarinets whispering last call
all will be 
fine and magnificent
in the end

popular kids by Robert Frost (found scribbled on a napkin tucked away in a Band-Aid box in his old medicine chest)

you don’t like me as much as it’s true that one could like another one too we’ve had this hard-up time to spend in other lives and through other windows but you don’t like me and that’s for sure because my lawyer she tells me so before the money’s gone at least we’ve got each other but then again you can’t stand me and you’re on the way to other lives and you’re getting used to looking through other windows so that’s just something I can’t control so I guess I’ll run down to the shoreline and make some use of these sea legs at last at least until the money’s gone or my heart so I guess I can be free but who cares because you don’t like me because you can’t stand the sight of me because you want to erase me from your memory for all time and you you you you don’t like me at all no not at all and I am free and everything is never going to be okay again

Testament To A Goner by Patti Smith

A glob of yellow moon’s slopped on under night’s black eyes,
and Merle sits still on a curb
contemplating the sound that buses make going by,
and this while rummaging in copper-plated visions over another snack-less midnight.  
And this, too,
another “this too”
to add to the spreadsheet of her existence.
A bit of basil soaked in her thoughts,
it’s now that’s gone.
Comestible thoughts,
she thinks.
That sure does it.
She doesn’t think
it’ll be ever by noon again
in any hovering slowpoke of a way.
The greyhound clouds are escorting misbehaving stars on treasure hunts,
cruddy as Merle sees it.
And alone’s a disaster
she craves to be hers
A signpost she kicks at,
one that might as well read:
“Does not play well with others.”
But others play her like a Chopin nocturne.
But others…
It’s a swell that wanes to wax another day.
It’s the taffy stretch of care
swirled with smiled shadows,
with indifference and plunged compassion.
Merle stands up and does her best Harpo Marx,
balancing on her toes
on the curb edge,
off kilter and right in time
with the swayed shoulders of her past.
With what’s a battery-powered gumption
at least a sunstroke away
for her now
it is every girl for her
which of course
in the gory streetlight’s sodium yellow
it is,
but just another
of course
hounding graver eyes than
any streetlights she’s ever thrown
a rock at
or stood beneath
just to be below something
that glowed
or suddenly broke
and then
just did not.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Bad Poems Written By Famous Poets (Issue #4)

All That Glitters Is Not Gary by Robert Pinsky 

They came for me, finally, by the dawn’s early light.
I’d been waiting for them,
hunkered away,
long in the curtains,
glaring in the rocket-colored haze
through a cheap nocturne’s fumes of dismissal. 
They came for me.
Knocked down the door of my home.
I had a switchblade comb in my shoe
and a tiny rubber leister in my back pocket.
I had floor crumbs and spills to contend with.
Dementia, or the early signs of it, are possible here.
I admit as little or a much as is allowed.
They broke the door down.
They sashayed through the window too.
They rose well past the occasion.
I am blessed to be a squatter,
a man who identifies with rats and marmalade stains on carpet.
Resounding speeches were not made.
They told me of resignation and hospital beds.
They wanted to liquidate water to add to their insurance assets.
They were told to erase the trail of my ways,
and leave business cards for heaven behind.
They did as they were told.
The radio was tuned to a religious station.
I had two slices of bread in the process of becoming
They told me that I wouldn’t be missed,
that I was obsolete and easily replaceable.
My closet was obliterated.
My phone was smashed.
My shoes and credit cards were torn to bits.
I am a lucky man
to live well on so much ill.
I am saying more than I will ever see,
flag or no flag,
spangled to death and seeing stars,
waving goodbye to those
who came for me
and then left by ways they’d never thought to enter,
leaving the land a tad less free and brave
as the home it had been
before they’d arrived.  

The Human Fund By Ezra Pound

ease, humb  --a --  ly (Lee!
give me
4   I
have eat
(en)  no more
n    “I”
‘ve …be
cause there are more hinds in sight
ever dare
2 imag-
be blued to
(All) (Ready)
sin (or con, too)
much urgency
;dot. dot. dash-dashing-dash;
listen: carpe -motherfucking- diem

The Ayatollah Khomeini And A Houndstooth Coat by Anne Sexton  

i pinch open the drapes
it’s 3:37 a.m.
and the night’s burnt with orange lamplight
a caper-slow wringing of fallen leaves
a destitute shrug sings moody and empty-parking-lot sad
the wind’s loss
the sidewalk’s deadpan struggle
four less cops and the car alarms ring off with your head
i stab at typewriter keys
and rail at blank pages
plunging triscuits in egg-salad mush   
as the sweep and shush of scant traffic ponders by
there are no crickets for a hundred miles
and the city lights are dim at best
at 3:37 a.m.
but still
all finger-snapping aside
the ayatollah khomeini sings about his houndstooth coat 
and the reaches of squashed grapes
splatter bloody streaks on dull windows
i twitch matches alive
and sneak oil through odd customs
where sandpipers poke despair into muddy courage
maybe there’s a use for all of these delinquent things
all this clabbered joy slunk with wear 
but for now i’m spotting bruised blues and watercress
in predawn’s attenuated shuck
while i hold out
or on
as if waiting could matter
to anyone outside of this small dark room
whatever time it might be
wherever that is or isn’t
just 3:37 a.m.
or forever
droning static through what dreams don’t last
to a sound asleep arm
and a head jellied to shunt the rest
through soft tawny hues of hate
you glance clockward
it’s only 3:38

Precluded Preview Of Never Coming Attractions by James Merrill

A movie showing in an empty theatre.
We are all riveted.
A silent academy haunched in nepotism and back-scratch favors.
Do the good luck girls all break so easily when auditions dry up?
Headshots come and go, and they catch you taking a sweater as your personal.
It is ochre corduroy smiles all around, and we dilute the poison with hay juice and mulled bathwater for good measure.
The utmost originality is trivial.
The importance of tearing up on cue is a diverse speculation only, for we’re just grommets and joists playing floor-tile bit parts.
Honk once if you mistake capsules for caplets sometimes.
Give the gaffer and the best boy the finger.
We move along in the magician black of it, spun in furcated eddies, bleached bright white and stinking of gold watches.
A casual glance caught in slowmo instant replay.
A cameo of true nonbelievers.
A day-for-night drive around and around the block until the black-and-white sun rears its weary head.
And then you find yourself lost in a cutaway, and that martini shot has come at last to the busted stale box you call your life.
Action screams itself to a cut’s fiver, and in the nope and curdle of lying low you seek restitution in what remembrance can only be called fairly fond.
McQueen never had to beg for a smoke break.
Paul Newman is dead.
A turbulent kid is whisked away parentless into the spotlight.
There is not time for well whisky now.
The benison-tongued are lunching with spies.
Growing down is all that is left to do.
And in a soon’s now we are trapped undulant with whispers and badly lit scenes.
The time for approaching is near and far.
All the HID lamps have gone out.
The stars are asleep, drunk and barefoot.
The set’s quiet as a tickle.
Move a muscle.
Go ahead.
See what it gets you.          

A Boy And His Gun (unfinished) by Gary Snyder

Left home
just before sunrise,
the holy smack of dawn shucking harvests of death
as I shook off the husk of wormwood dreams,           
and galloped towards Calico with revolver in tow.
Trees spotted with owl dust and Chinese-lantern light.
The human-devoid fields before me.
The heart of the world fresh and unspoiled.
And what’s left?
The behind is what creeps up,
and it shudders at my crepitant hesitation,
at the hushed lush wonder of sap-soaked boots on pine needles.
I am Ephrem The Syrian come for my spoils.
I wander and teach choruses of birds to sing my hymns.
I’ve got enough bullets to last until the end of the world.
Trust me,
there is no dawn lovelier than the last.
That there is never an all,
I believe
that we are all just waiting
biding this beautiful time we’re given--
too diffident to spend it.
And the real answer to it all is

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Bad Poems Written By Famous Poets (Issue #3)

(A note from the author scrawled on the next page of the journal where the following heretofore unpublished poem was found) --
“Oh, dear lord! I wrote this deranged and careless thing last night. Shows what a bad job even I can make of things while under the influence of too much Schnapps. Is it of some worth, though? Lord, I do hope not. I write this under a hangover’s last dull nail hammered into the jagged and coarse walls of my skull, and perhaps I am too weary and etiolated to care for such things in this state. I think, though, that I will not burn it. I think that it may be of some use to somebody in the future: an ex-butler perhaps, a rodeo clown on vacation, the victim of a dune-buggy strike, or a scholar of the indecent minutiae of once famous scribblers. But for the moment, oh dear lord, what have I done? I do hope that nobody ever reads this.”

Last Train To Oblivion by Frank O’Hara

Who speaks of rhinoceroses in silver weather?
Is there an adman free to sell me serviceable parts of modus operandi,
one to install megaphones in my rotary capability, ad nauseum?
Cease all questioning, madam.
Cease all moans and crane-operated smiles.
Cease dumbfounded coddling and fortunetellers who only tell of the present.
Oneirism is my weak suit.
I’d say more, baby,
but your drift is too light upstairs.
Capable of drafting squared circles for mediocrity’s role call,
I’m in the boom of crush, and liked by seagulls.
Serendipity’s moss has grown dead,
yet keeps spreading its fun-sucking tendrils.
Sandy Koufax might as well be a goner
as the days’ pitch count ups the ante’s fury for another winter,
for another off season of poorly executed distaste and warm beer.
I am intrepid and loved by pelicans.
I am as dull as fallen leaves crushed under the foot of a wayward child.
Nobody spills their goods like I do,
into the gutter and mealy with wine-dark dares.
Who sprints along with horses in cinnamon weather?
Who feigns hunger at the soup kitchen?
I am altered and adulterated to live in sumptuous poverty,
and I am willing to give out or in,
depending on the tact of situational living.
Call me Ishtar.
Call me Calvin Coolidge The Third.
Call me Early For Breakfast.
These self-service fads are just waves like chips of chocolate to pummel my radioed-in nature.
I cannot wait for patience to come on like an ulcer
or a slice of death.
There are buffalos in the basement treading the tepid floodwater of existence.
We do not have names for them,
Who runs crazy octagons in the geometry of night’s illicit chamber?
Who exercises?
Pause and peruse, I say.
And just in time too.

my father was führer of mean by ee cummings

my father was führer of mean
in nice lands of try
through fat to had
plush with fail and lost

my father cussed from haves of not
and strutted away spring with dust
while i slipped on joy
and killed kind’s rule
with wingless nights

my sleep troubled none but flies
as cooled creeps tied old scores
in sunk weather’s ruin
clear-skied with closed doors

my father who chomped ice
and betrayed love for tits
made laughs scatter to bits
well beyond scraps of fun
grossly judged just
my only meter of right
courted ire through might
in coats of ill-done

wronged with scars and
slightly less care
than falling petals take
from up’s down-there
to be booted dreamy towards give
with razor-stained wrists
i was give-long and light
to pawn courage’s fists
and crash because
into another because

my father
you see
that emperor of scorn
made salt out of water
and never sailed sadly
beyond regret’s shallow tacking
or jibed brave in now’s past

and if a want gives way
to a grip’s iron brand
or is belted to halt
with a buckle’s last word
then to lesser worlds than a lash 
go all yeses to no
and pluck’s degraded
in a jackknife’s splash
that soaks all leaving
into one final go


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Bad Poems Of Famous Poets (Issue 2)

Make It Up by Carl Sandburg

involved in love
included in cloud cover
occluded over sound
chop chop
sing the news hounds
today is not tuesday at least
and the flesh wears itself out
under little
umbrellas stink of rain
I am rememberful
forged in forget-me’s too
your supper
is never served
for I am not bluto
carved crew cut while shaving
into being out
plunk plunk
go the dailies
I am out of toothpaste and silverware
in the rain
in the rain
popeye is waning weak
and I misread my mail
in the deceit of being delivered

Radio Inactive by Edna St. Vincent Millay

i sew or
am seen
in the green smell of felt
tied today to a tuna melt
and breezing through gaps
in the gory alley
below is all the fall
that i am
canopy canopy sing canopy
swing canopy then
newfoundlings strewn
reach for backwards
tied to iron
i sway
lacking the nerve to sense any better
and just explode

Stewardess by Gwendolyn Brooks 

I forgot
to polish

Courtly Tennis In Arpeggio by Walt Whitman

I scream to thee incessantly, and if it were but for scour-hot landscapes and thrilled horses galloping to a clopped cadence of courage’s creed.
But I mistake gruel for beauty and feed my soul’s suffering with hayseed, stocked with orderly chaotic whims.
You who do not wholly know leaves from branch from trunk from roots from soil,
We must chart higher offices of foraging for light.
Grassy chances gone-- lobbed and served and chalky with rough strokes--
I am wet and dull and gay in the backseat of carriages.
I am surcharged and grieving.
I am the apple picker’s pluck, the veiled lady’s stable flux, the moon lookers soiled prayers, the castle’s mote, the hurt’s waft of careened joy, the politician’s mucky lurking, the palm tree’s torn frond dangling shiny in the lamplight.
Nobody seek my herons; they are unused and stubborn; they are ruffians spent with terror and holiness.
It does not pay to be money-less in the moon-burnt streets, in the feces dropped, in the potholes flowed with muddy waters, in the coinage of a new frontier: a cut above lawless splendor, a retreat of homage to a never-told past.
I, who dream to thee effortlessly, like the baby’s last mumbles before language takes hold, am soured to drown in the space left after the flood while the rag pickers take their pick of my spoiled joy.
Go ahead.
I dare you.

Tiny Holdings by Robert Creeley

Somebody told us it was a good idea to flattop these hills.
We heard the different ways to mistake trying for goodwill. Not of us;
not in us;
not for or against us.
It was a cheap return we avoided like crepuscular gnats. And
if there is purpose in the picture taking of real estate agents, and
if there are poinsettias in our cereal, and if we behave like garfish in eel grass, then perhaps
there is no real “decision” to be made,
We will keep stuffing our pockets with ones.
We will walk faster than most joggers.
You see,
the deer here are lazy with Dear-John esteem,
and my holdings are merely gravel
and forced salutations.
Feel free to regret the boulevards their lights,
their pushpin dots of direction and swindled or swooped curve.
I know these things by smell alone.
and you
and I
and they cannot be stopped.
It is finished.    

Monday, February 18, 2013

the bad poetry of famous poem makers

Now Accepting Compliments by John Ashbery

I first noticed the ambush early one morning before the walking started.
It was puce;
and the color threw me;
and if there were a disassembly line--
something that could be monitored and controlled--
even in the worst of weeks
(as flying dazes lots of malicious mischief makers)
through and thorough with looped deliverances,
and still water.
Nobody’s getting any deeper.
put on your pants;
it is movie time.

Shaman Blues by Allen Ginsberg

an earworm for your thoughts bozo who seeks clown suits in higher places than overly stilted swampcabbage dearly paid for what’s the price you know it’s not me who crumbs to bums in the ticktock seatime of old nursing places and where’s home but for the heart’s when in the event of crucial bodhisattva histrionics it is an if’s eternal entity of being ad hoc and suited to whatever’s got your tongue, cat. get it?

Poor Man’s Jimmy Stewart by Sylvia Plath

i am awake
this little misstep of who
drenched caring whites away the core
of it
something that would have been blacker if not bold
in the heart’s charm
we who glisten less
we who swear to stop cussing
you don’t understand what the screen test shows
nobody would
not even me
i am awake
bite my arm a bit
i want teeth marks on my triceps
just for old time’s sake
and not just because
I want to stay

It’s Not Time For Ovations, Just Ovaltine by Dorothy Parker

an extremely precise weather report
of the sort
that rings instead knocks
dashing as a head on rocks
would sound
not oval
in the ketchup-colored light
look harder to be lost
one less cookie tossed
after last night’s spell
binged it all to hell
it is raining if it is not
a lot
if up you hang
ps-- you rang?

Dictated And Substantially Inarticulate Too by William Carlos Williams

The mornings start later and later, and the nights get to happening sooner all the time.
The rain clouds have come to stay.
I do not invest my time in reaping or harvesting.
Most of my trembling is frayed nerves.
Doctor this.
Doctor that.
Do not call me anymore.
My depending is weak.
My wheelbarrow is out of service.

Johnny Don’t March Around Here No More by H.D.

Original limits of imagists like us
-- contrary
. And to think of me as (if no glasses, then with bob, and petty, and all)
We are
so dissimilar
after all.
And I am the honey to your lusts.
Guns drawn
this is not
war. Not

Hope by Wallace Stevens

In the middle there was a dream.
It lay listless on the bed’s folded linen.
Towards the beginning we had streetcars.
We had this Eiffel-Tower dismay to contend with.
You, sir
Are not smog.
You are not the arms and legs of the thing.
We are built to not last,
You see.
And the dream,
Towards the end
Had to be reshaped, soldered, and imagined yet again.
Nothing hurt the shuddering gap between what there was
And what was never up or down
To what you’d always dreamed was gone
But never was.
At least what you suspected was here,
a thing that grew cold and mushy
as old French fries,
stayed put.
There are seraphim in your coca-cola.
Your day is lucky
that way.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

caressing passes

(the picture taker)

“Why do people not like more of my things I post?” he said. She said, “Because the things you post are deranged. People like pictures of cats and babies and food, and links to more pictures of cats and babies and food, and snapshots of people they know showing off how much they don’t.” “But I post pictures of stupid things too,” he said. “Yes,” she said, “but your things are not for showing, not for others. Just for yourself. Nobody cares about the things you care about.” “But I don’t have a cat or a baby,” he said. “And my pictures are telling of something more than just pictures-- really, if you think about them.” “People don’t like to think,” she said. “People want to be entertained.” “I think I’m going to move to Mars,” he said. “Or maybe Istanbul, or down the street. Maybe I’ll find people there who are more decent to each other,” he said. “Or maybe not,” she said, “people are the same all over.
(the following of other events)

              The distributor is out to lunch, the fan belt needs a new owner, and there is no hood to speak of. Every level’s crooked. Wherever is lost. All the potholes are healing themselves with screamed Jehoshaphats three times a day. I don’t steal pencils from the blind. I do borrow a mannequin now and again, but never the stripped ones, only the at least partially clothed. Scanners react badly to good news, now, and my sheets are riddled with holes that stretch from dime-size to half-dollar overnight it seems. Being at large is for the birds. I’ve got my harpoon-machete. I’ve got my holy rabbit’s tail. I’ve got my cat’s foot and my brown-bag breath. Nobody bothers to check in on me. It’s nice.
            “That guy was driving a Cadillac flower car all over town back then. You know where that name comes from? Cadillac? Well, they took it from a French explorer who founded Detroit, and he borrowed the name from a commune in the south of France: Cadillac, Gironde. Henry Ford was kicked out of the company a year or so after it was founded, and the guys needed a new name, as they couldn’t go around calling themselves The Henry Ford Motor Company if Henry Ford was no longer with them, so, well, there you go. They even used the French guy’s coat of arms as their new company’s crest. But this guy, let’s call him Jasper, well, he’s got this flower car, but there aren’t any flowers in it, ever. Mostly he just keeps his belongings in the back there, all open to the elements, and cruises the hulking thing all over town, windows tinted, driving nice and slow and easy. Cruising. Now, Jasper’s got so much junk back there-- all sorts of crates and splintered furniture and used books and records and clothes, popcorn makers and door-less microwaves and what have you-- that he’s riding sort of back heavy, you know? You couldn’t miss him going by. We all got a real kick in the shins about it. Jasper going by. He was a sort of neighborhood hero to us.”          

            Just after I was done thinking that the platinum blondes around here all take the short way home and then run off with garden-hose salesmen, this girl named Lovely starts in on telling me about getting elbow drunk, and then she kicks me in the knee. Yep, just the endless numbing of the days growling by. So we sneak up above Clothesline Alley and drop some pennies on the miscreants below. The whites are out dripping in the high-noon sun.
            At some point I ask her, “Did you know that there are roughly three million lightning strikes each day on this planet?” She just nods softly and takes a nap on my shoulder. I go on: “All those nitrates, the clearing of dead trees and animals, those nutrients enriching the soil so as to make way for new growth, new life, another chance at breathing with the lungs of the earth: plankton bloom. We’re just passengers sightseeing for a bit, along for the ride for the fun of it. Protected from the destruction and/or complete annihilation of sun flares by our magnetism.” I might as well be talking to a red-throated bee-eater. The wind makes a pass at us, but I brush it away with a dangerous sweep of my hand. Nothing improves afterwards. All is brush fire smoke and bolide dust. We’re cozy in the crook of a fire escape, and nobody’s asking after our day jobs. Being prepared is for the sidewalk makers. Me? I look everywhere for nothing, and try not to let girls get the best, or worst of me. 
            How do the Valentine’s Day wishers get away with it? It must be the attack pigeons nesting in roosts of leisure above the pineapple stand. Even the moping raincoat merchants go for the cheats and pale harmonica players. We reach but never grab hold.

            Why do I keep falling love with girls named Claire? I don’t want to be in love. In love? Nope. Not no more. Not with some girl named Claire. Not for me.                            
              Maybe I’m not doing anything wrong, but I’m certainly not doing anything right. It’s ruined and left for alive, in a heart attack’s wake, and some guy named Hambone is whispering in the jukebox’s ear, and we’re drugged with compassion right along with the slowest bus lines in town, stuck behind a garbage truck of horrible music that’s blasting over construction noise and, well, everyone in this dead-end town needs the emptiness of their head examined. We’re all ready for all the bad things to come, just up ahead, where we’re all headed. A place in the dark with a bottle of decent scotch, that’s all I need, without the verse, without the harmony, without a woman telling me what it is I’m supposed to do. Don’t you go worrying about my time; I’ve wasted it all on away. There’s an ashtray in my vest pocket and a pool cue running down my spine. The doormen all forget my name. The girls all strangle themselves in the sodium yellow glow of lampposts. We are wishing what we remember to stay still and play mean for a bit. The bar top’s littered with torn, wet napkins and Ritz Cracker crumbs. Nobody gives a damn about your Joan Crawford smile and your Bogart teeth. People are mostly assholes who take pleasure in the misfortunes of others. And then there are those who are challenged to scream something like, “Fuck off gingerbread dick!” at any takers. I’m setting off the fire alarm and staying put. 
             One man’s robot is another’s fiancé. We all get what we don’t need. It’s a soused trombone player making amends with rowdy angels. It’s a hurricane of dirty clothes. It’s better off wrong. Diluted thunderclaps of courageous overtones in the meek of heart, and we’re left here-- god’s awful administrators-- with a go-to sense of entitled despair. Help comes from the strangest of corners, and the dust of us is all that’s left, for the most. 
            Some girl with violin hands is making the squares say their prayers. It’s never late enough in the morning for any of it. I am fit to be taken apart piece by cracked and ugly piece, rounded and curbed, lost in chants of racemation-- a bunched clubbing of the soul’s weakest sunken caisson. We who take nothing in stride and speak to televisions in our sleep. We who run the obstacle courses of oblivion just to pass the time. The armchair’s got a supporting role. There are no elements left to name. Music’s nothing but airport security officers whispering to drug-sniffing dogs on their break. It ain’t the Betty Ford Clinic, but it’ll do until we find classier crooks to check in with.
            I was feeling damn pleasant, sitting at a table by a large window with a glass of beer, watching the shadows crawl over old brick and wood and in the street. Nobody was around to bother my at the moment. Wes Montgomery was filtering in lightly over the sound of people at other tables clinking glasses and laughing and other sounds of general bereavement. A man in tight white pants was standing by the curb with both hands shoved into his back pockets, a good way to scratch one’s ass in public I guess. A cigarette was smoking away as it twitched up and down from his lips. He was ruining my peaceful landscape. I glanced over to the bar which ran along two sides of the room in a V shape. A well-lit plant was the showpiece of the joint. I’ve got to admit, it looked good up there behind the bar, like it was on a stage. I wanted it to be called May or Wilhelmina. It probably wasn’t though. It could have been just one of those things that goes through this world without ever having a name. Some guy sitting on a barstool had a most unfortunate case of accidental back-tucked-out shirt, with way too much of his bottom half showing for my taste. I told my eyes to mind some other business, and they went back to my beer. I drank it down fast. It was cold and strong and made my head feel full and clear again. I sat there and felt content for as long as possible. There was nothing else to do. 


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

inscrutable trivialities

             I want a never-ending supply of toilet paper, dollar bills to throw around like spaghetti, and a fleece sweater with pelicans on the sleeves.
            Whistling Sweet Georgia Brown all the way to the poorhouse. And everything smells like wet dog. It’s just that…well, don’t go putting your business on the street like that. Besides, she’s a pretty snappy dish to take it out on. Just be completely yourself, at all times and costs, even in the wolfed-down state of affairs that you’re jostling around in. Me? I wish I had 365 pairs of underwear. And I wouldn’t wash any of them. I’d just wear a different pair every day of the year, depending on how I feel.
            Alleviate some misunderstandings with being misunderstood. Better glad rags to go with the shrubbery. In plumose attire, at least in theory, to match that whole feather-in-the-hat genuine article over by the cigarette machine. A relict of weepers, running the banks and the bowling alleys with the same touch, whatever takes the place of the heart’s gone. Like a wild rye ear with awns, scraping by. It pouts. It moons. It is not always yours to keep.
            I only need the music of eructation, the swamp song of morose frogs, the blue that breaks day’s jar and crumbles to sand. If I need and only want, then want’s need is overcome by torched joy and in springs the bed for the just needy, or perhaps not.
            It’s not a test. It’s an emergency waiting to happen. Sipping louched absinthe, dripping with the faucet, bowled under, thinner around the middle, enduring and erring, most of the ripped-off loonies in this here villa depend upon the meanest of neighbors to get over being less than substantial in the swing of things. Too many rounds had gone to the sufferers of lightness, and it was tread or be trod before the lack caught up with you. The yard was nothing but graves. Trip-toed, and never a tad heavy on the good news at all. We tapped happier, after all, when the moon wasn’t so droopy.
            “He’s got his collar half-cocked like Jim Stark in a suit at the police station, drunk. And The Pickle Boys are nursing their gin rickeys as time sludges on and the bored fountain angels get their fix. Last night he went out and bought himself a homemade spatula. The moon’s pants are halfway down. There’s no sleep left in his early, and he’s jogging Etruscan around the park. Don’t go begging Mars for candy. Don’t be less than half-full twice around. Around this place the blocks number themselves while the streetlights jab and jaw. So don’t get caught with your foot in the grease jar.
            “He’s taking the bread out of canceled reservations. He’s showing off his socks by law. A cricket hounds him for his story through the broken heart of thin-skinned walls. Sure, tomorrow’s either on deck or in the hole, but he’s laughing all in Spanish, with his knees bandaged to hide yesterday’s scars. You’ve got to listen or you’ll miss almost everything he sees. There’ll be holy water in his brandy when he finally makes his pleas. He eats scarecrows for breakfast with a side of steamed dandelion stems and boiled lima beans. He’s dedicating songs to himself. He’s got Top Ramen in his hair. Don’t tell him what’s his hurry. He’ll be gone before you even care.”

            A Marabou Stork for your nightmares.
            Today’s special: a slice of baked eagle with saltwater hash. It goes with all you’re never saying. It takes the pie and chucks it at a yield sign. Ornery robots spill their dimes and sleep to the noise of their internal fans. The scientists stay up late counting all the blessings around. The buttons are all pushed. The ceiling’s falling. The sky’s limit is nothing the robots can’t handle. Buffered and holding all the rest of everybody’s ground, they nod to battery-powered life, charged and plucky, and the scientists can’t tell for whom this all’s getting murky and stained. One of them mumbles, “We’ve had monkeys before…we’ve had coin-operated lives, too.” The cooperation of numbskulls gets their mechanical goats, and the robots emit a collective eye-rolling sigh. The room sparks to life with electric lice. The circuitry of loss is rewired with chrome tinsel. It comes down to this-- in hoc signo vinces-- for a robot in hock:
            “They seem to like me, over there, like in a tell-them-I-went-to-Alaska sort of way. The place would fall apart if I weren’t around to spectate. Always a crisis with those boys. Great sense they make, you know. Lie around and slop around all day-- maybe a chance to relax in there too, high foreheads and all. Still, it gets greener still.
            “I grow anxious. It’s about now that it’s about time. My pictures get blurrier. The lights go down for the count. But hell, over there? Over there they seem to like me. And that’s where we have to draw that proverbial line in the moss. Dead leaves conceal what the cement don’t know. Well, drop forge me in China and call graver diggers. I’m out of ideas. 
            “Moments come around. Christ. And here I go taking one.
            “Poorly moneyed, and just a nick above scratched. I stay on. I sit. They seem to like me. Over there. Roll up my sleeves and pass the job on to nobody else.
            “Whiskey and dead flowers are my companions through pastures of missed phone calls. I half try almost all the time. I am beginning to wonder. It’s not just a start anymore. It’s trouble in the lowercase. It’s just a hat to toss from a tomb. And if it’s swanky enough for me, hell, let’s make a date of it, or let the wind come around and try to blow it all away. Just let it try.”