Saturday, August 29, 2009

apathy and facebook

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Instead of talking, today we are cleaning or something like it -- I may actually have something resembling my own space by the end of the day, for the first time in a long time, for art, photos, work, writing, maybe even music ... but not a word is spoken.

or so it seems to me...
I'm done with facebook. A short association to be be sure but not a good thing. A superficial and very shallow excuse for communication - I don't see it a a means to conect or to communicate. Only twitter could possibly be more destructive of human relationship - the aura, the pretense of connection, of communication, when there is little or nothing there. It is like we pretend we communicated but we never did and when that realization arrives, what a fool I feel ... duped by my own stupidity.
If what I have to saw can be said in 140 characters it probably doesn't need said. If the scope of my communications with another are limited to that little rectangles marked comment, which seem available for everyone to read, i prefer to not rather than pretend communicate.

Not that anything will change by my decision to reject facebook - there was nothing really there anyway and while there may be no one reading this there's also no one pretending they did and pretending to "talk" or communicate by virtue of a few inoffensive, shallow and generally inane comments.

What does it [facebook] really have to do with me? with you? with anyone?

For my daughter I understand it - she's at Tulane keeping up with friends all over the country and the world, but they also skype and email. It's like the message board for her and her roommates outside the door, so they can get and leave messages when they're out. If the entire communicaiton was only what's posted on their little board there's not much being said or shared, is there?

It is the failure to connect and to communicate -- honestly or at all -- that is creating an increasingly intolerant, strident and violent world, so why do we as a society relish and encourage this emptiness?

Monday, August 24, 2009

it doesn't have to be so hard


there's nothing
we're not
all of us
trying to do

name one

make it so hard
so tedious
for everyone

have to be
so hard

does it?

what's so
have to
have it
have to
do it
have to
be it
have to
own it

control us
dominate us
alienate us

to a stranger
you will pay
but not
your blood

sitting there in the corner
by your self

was it worth it?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

or it might be ...

"Poetry is concerned with using with abusing,
with losing with wanting with denying with avoiding
with adoring with replacing the noun."
Gertrude Stein, Lectures in America

poetry is...

"Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality."
T.S. Eliot, "Tradition and Individual Talent"

Saturday, August 15, 2009

in this life
in this mode
tainted skies
skies painted
shades of grays
in this space
in disgrace
mighty well
might as well
mighty swill
might is will

Thursday, August 13, 2009

rain music

The singly measured
deliberate and slow
a poetry unspoken
waning morns
a flame
snuffed out.

And comes the crescendo
another day
once again we left
much more than before

Notes grow to chords
measured still
deep with resonance
the cadence of repetition
three deep chords.

The whiffle of a pony breath
slightly damp in the hand
and the warm smell of shit
giving life.

This time it really was
the end of the world.
The rebellion so quiet, now reaching
the dark secret coves, the
lichen covered boulders

Survivors are few
the ones we acknowledged.
Our eyes closed against the day.
We are disowned, from you it was expected
but ourselves, so insignificant it was too small a surprise

Who brought you here?
How did you find us?
What do you want from us?
Nothing, I know, you want nothing,
this is voyeurism.
There's nothing here for you.
You should never have come here.
You have nothing to say - you stand there dumb, waiting.
There is no message -- just keep your eyes down.
No one wants to see.

In the whole world
there is nothing beautiful left.
Sinking into silence
we have nothing to say
but you are right,
we never did have anything to say
We shoulda shut up a long time ago
as in we never should have said anything to begin with.

What's wrong with you?
Sooner or later
and it may as well be now
you realize no one has anything to say.
Not me, not you.
Talk I wish for, but we both know it's not there.

This time I will read it to you,
a promise to never come back here.

Do not move
and no one will see
Do not speak
and no one will hear
Stay as you are, far away
Keep your distance and no one can reach us

We are free

There's no end to it
from this moment to forever
but here at least
for now, free
at last, for the time,
whatever that means.

A sort of peace for yesterday
just before the lilies died their blooms went to white

Why should I tell you anything?
Why now?
you have nothing to say
but are a pointed avoidance.

It is a voice I will never forget.
The reasons are forgotten,
there is
nothing else.

We stay as we are.
There is no end to it.


Teeming with water
mist against boulder, swirling

It's a strange chase.
Laughing children far away
skin to water, those eyes
mirrored perfectly
onyx on porcelain
wet on cold.

There's nothing else to tell
but for the old man peering
with nothing good in his heart.

Gardens full of lilies
a white glow
in the summer heat
some say lilies for death
others appear inevitably
after the rains
rising up in pink
five slender petals sway,
nodding assent to their short life

Time passes
absent some new life
if only that love
could be so easy
just once
needing no words, no flesh
to survive even the deepest of snows
hoping to peek only once more
at another life beyond

The most perfect
cannot be other than nothing
it simply is
or not

Not much is.
You should know that
Of course you do.
Maybe for you prending is fun
Us we find it necessary.

Like the Russian steppe travelled in caravan
so many pilgrims lost
so much busyness
a leery familiarity
a netherworld strangeness
somewhere in space
we've been here too.

I know you say
It never happened
never was.
You don't believe us
It's not the first time.

Prayer wheels, toothless smiles
of women
always the women
the rest are disappeared
but where?

The men they ran
grabbed their entitlement
all a girl is good for
they took her and ran
innocents snatched
they ran trampling the garden
smashing lilies underfoot
unable to stand any beauty
anathema to their distortions
Pigtails shorn, bonnets smashed
all thrown in the fire
burning the remnants
whatever's left.

And then they run.

Flat brown rivers, frozen steppes
this time is different,
not as a stranger but one of them
not any better
but with manhood proven.

They stole his innocence
He has only just returned the favor.

And then they run.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

give it up

I thought it was a good thing to quit my job -- it seemed like the right thing for the right reasons at the time and now... now I'm not so sure.
I intended to start finishing up the Ike repairs ... I have done not one damn thing.
I cleaned the oven and the stove, but didn't even wash the vent hood or scrub the counters, much less trim the plants and herbs in the kitchen window.
I haven't even made a list of what I need to do.
I started cleaning the garage last week, since the garage clean is the first thing so we can put in shelves and storage ... but too hot, too lazy and I didn't get it done.
I'm barely working and I have no energy.
I think if I could make a list and tackle rooms one by one that is the only way to make progress ... but not a list in sight ... I don't know where to start.
Limited contract hours means limited money so it's not like we can just go and hire someone ... but I can't put one step in front of the other.
I think I really screwed up, I had a job with security, benefits, steady paycheck, some flexibility ... and the most important thing, fixing the house, is already fallen by the wayside.
I am too lazy, too undisciplined, to be self employed.
But its too late to do anything about it ...
If this is the way it's gonna be I may as well just run as fast as I can and try to get a real job, at a greatly reduced salary no doubt cause no one wants to hire women and especially not women my age...
Boy did I blow it and in this environment, with so many young perky pretty female lawyers I think there's no going back.
Time to buy a lottery ticket ... that's as likely as getting a decent job, especially since I do know only one thing -- I do not want to try any cases.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

know how

We can't always do what's in our brain

Galaxies spin.
complete annihilation
sucks at our sleeves.

Come sleep
not talking, not feeling
not moving, no control
and there's nothing no one can do about it

We must all know how to have a failure
How to be

Forever with the devil
sitting on my chest,
whatever the space is supposed to carry our heart
I used to think our soul was there
but nothing could be bigger.

May as well, sooner or later
maybe we can enjoy it more now
before we get too old
but that we wake
though only on waking
do we suspect
we may not be
after all.

Sleep the smallest of fears
stranger is the night
like passing
to wake in Idaho.


This is a crowded conversation
the voices of madness only by default
moving on of its own numbing mindlessness
to a past just as real as tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

... but willie, john and bob were excellent

So last week we went to see bob dylan, opened by willie nelson with john mellencamp sandwiched in between.
it's been a long hot week, dry but for buckets of sweat ... at the concert all the guys on stage were dropping buckets, they looked like watering cans.

Willie Nelson I saw before at HOB ... but he was a lot better this time. He seemed more comfortable, more at home in the outdoor setting that is Cynthia Woods Mitchell. He sure seemed to enjoy himself a lot more. Willie is long past his prime and I wasn't necessarily that keen to see him again but it was a good show, much better than at HOB. He has a lot of energy for an old guy ... he just started out and ran through (not all) his hits (there are too many) but he played pretty much non-stop for over an hour. I think he may not be around all that long so I'm glad to have seen him put on a good show...

Next up, John Mellencamp. I wouldn't pay to see him, but he was on the ticket so ... passable and I guess it was a good show if you like Mellencamp. He seems to have had a come-to-Jesus moment and his newer stuff is a little more bluesy than his older songs, but I still wouldn't pay to see just him.

Then, on time and as scheduled, at 9:10 pm, comes Bob Dylan. You might think this is a strange grouping anyway -- Mellencamp, Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan -- apparently they put a tour together based on their experience doing Farm Aid together ... M said what is farm aid? after researching on her trusty i-phone what the relationship was between the three. But leave it to M to leave no question unanswered, or at least to leave no answer not searched for. I didn't realize how long ago all that was, or how old I am compared to what I used to be.
So here comes Bob Dylan.
First thought ... he's bigger than I thought...
followed quickly by
what big feet
and then
he's really not that big but he has a long waist ...
and his voice is about shot if compared to most of the Dylan you might hear on the radio, leaning not unfavorably more toward Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen ... I thought Waits and M thinks Cohen, who she really likes a lot.
So here's Bob and what he calls his "all stars;" all-male band all in white jackets, black hats but for Bob, he's in all black and a planter Jim hat. Too electric if you ask me, which no one did ... but judging by the mass exodus as Dylan played there were an awful lot of people less than overjoyed by the result. Like a stomped anthill, lines and lines of people in constant motion toward the exits ... and since CW is an outdoor venue with the stage at the bottom of a hill the effect was much exaggerated as we're sitting near the stage and could see the entire "hill" from where we sat.
I don't know why I noticed his boots but for such a small guy his feet are really big, or at least hsi boots were ... shiny black pointy toed boots. Looked like cowboy boots, maybe the pointy toes made them look longer, and the shininess didn't detract from the perception that his boots seem dispropotionately long for the rest of him. No one cares about his boots or his feet for that matter, I'm sure, and I know I don't care, and I realize it's a weird thing to notice about anyone, but ...
The music ... all M wanted to hear was "Like a Rolling Stone" but she figured after 40 years and innumerable requests he'd never play the song but he did ... although M didn't recognize it 'til I told her that's what he's playing. And she didn't recognize Watchtower either, or understand most of the lyrics (they were all pretty mush-mouthed mumblings) but she really did like the show ... the "accompaniment" as she says.
I - not being a music critic, knowing nothing about it - was a little disappointed. I didn't expect him to sound like "classic" Dylan but I also didn't expect someone who seemed to be just going through the motions, overpowered by his band. Still overalll the show was pretty good. My personal preference would be he lose the big electric band and play himself, something more than a wail of the harmonica here and there and a coupla riffs on the keyboard. It was mostly a wall of noise by the white-clad band and some mumblings, almost impossile to discern over the amps. How about playing the guitar, strip down the band, turn down the volume so we can hear the music and the lyrics rather than be accosted by it? Those few lyrices you could hear were promising, and he did play for more than an hour, pretty much non-stop, but he didn't seem to have any fun. No interaction, not that you'd expect a lot. At the end he introduced the band, they're standing there in a line, and it looked like Dylan was going -- was really trying -- to say something but couldn't quite get it out.
Would I go to see him agaain? Sure. But if this was the only Dylan I'd ever heard, or even the most Dylan I'd heard, I don't think I would. I wonder why he's doing concerts if he's having as much fun as he seemed to.
For a guy who was introduced as "the voice of the 60s" and whose status as a protestor was touted the whole thing was kind of incongruous and, in retropsect, the whole thing was kind of sad ... like he had to do a show 'cause he sure didn't seem to enjoy being there.
But what do I know?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

michael franti's rotten appendix sucks

What a disappointment ...
Michael Franti's appendix burst and he went to hospital for surgery
That's all good
but ...
it sucks.
Last night went to a concert at the race track, really just to see him,
but he wasn't back
I never went to a concert at the race track
hadn't been to watch the horses in a long time either.
Still smells the same, honest
The other bands counting crows, augustana
Not that they didn't put on a good show,
play a long time
they were very engaged as was the crowd
But halfway through
no michael franti cause his appendix ruptured and he just got out of hospital
and he thought he'd be for last night's date
but not ...
I would have gone to CC if M asked, she likes them
but my interest was seeing Franti and Spearhead
Tomorrow in Austin, then to Grand Prairie,
NOLA on August 9
Austin City Limits this fall with a slew of others
but M will be at Tulane and it's not the same to a concert alone ...
So it really sucked ...
but at least it was cheap, I guess
and it's not like the concert was bad
it's just that the only reason
i went
was Franti
I guess
I'll have to go to some other show
some other time
who knows where?

And there was a bat swooping through
and some big old fireflies
so that was pretty neat.

But I sure wished Franti had played
cause I don't really know
I'll have
another chance.

a gift of watermelon pickles

Never have i sat down and read a book of poetry through and through, except for perhaps when I was very young .... I somehow got a book ... "A Gift of Watermelon Pickles" that I loved ... my grandmother made watermelon pickles and the book was read and re-read, and at least once it was from cover to cover ... and yes, I know how to make watermelon pickles ...

I had a really good friend Perk who ran the neighborhood ice house, was 84 when he died, buried on Good Friday. Looked just like him in the casket 'cept I never knew him to wear a suit when he was alive. Sometimes i'd skip work and we'd go to a ball game - he couldn't drive that far. Or maybe he just wouldn't, all of 5 miles from home and he wouldn't do it ... curious since his former life before the ice house he was a truck driver.
And he never drank either but there he was at the ice house, serving morning beers and evicting anyone struck his fancy ...

Perk never stepped foot when they built the new ball park, fka enron field, now minute maid park ... he loved the astrodome and if they weren't playing ball there he wasn't going to go.
And he never did.

But I digress, yes...

This was a real honest to good ice house. My best friend's grandfather started it and sold hunks of ice a hundred plus years ago. He died and his son took over but in the meantime came refrigeration and so the place went from a place selling only ice to a place selling ice and beer ... really cold beer ... from 7 in the morn til midnight or 2, depending on the day and how busy. Used to be they had a lot of shift workers come in at 7 for beer, and that was the only shift Perk worked was 7 to about noon, so if you wanted to see Perk the morning is when you stopped. So me and Perk and sometimes the owner would have coffee and the paper and bananas every morning, with watermelon in the summer. Not any melon, had to be a hempstead melon, which is the kind we grew up eating and could buy 3 big ones for $5 back then. But now they were harder to find and if Perk couldn't get one Perk didn't eat watermelon.

Somebody brought him a mess of melons one day ... they looked and smelled and sounded okay to me, and they tasted just fine, but after one bite Perk wouldn't eat another one. It wasn't a hemsptead melon, and that was that.
I don't know what he did with them, there must have been about 8-10 of them, but I know for sure he ate nothing more after the first bite

Perk was kind of the granddad I didn't really have.
He shined my shoes at least every week, whether they needed it or not, whether they were ropers or pumps. I never in my life shined a shoe, but i know to use a dab of vaseline or chapstick or somesuch to cover up if necessary ...
but that's neither here nor there.

Perk would eat 3-4 melons a week in the summer if he could get the right kind ... whoever was passing through hempstead knew to bring back as many as they could. They all went into to walk in, same as the beer, and if a beer at 34 is great on a hot summer's day melon at 34 is better than most anything.
Cause this was a real gulf coast ice house ... garage doors up and a fan or two in the summer, with the sun beating down on the old shiplap building ... the smell of the place unique, not nasty like a bar but ice and old wood and the city and the heat on the concrete and smoke and whatever might be cooking, usually barbecue...

But we'd have watermelon, Perk cutting it with one of the biggest pocketknives I'd seen, and sharp too, in the hot workday mornings ... he'd cut it, stab it, pass it over to me ... dripping jiuce on the paper we're trying to read... and then he'd save me the rinds, cutting out all the red but leaving the skin for me to take off. He'd save them in the walk-in for me all week and then on a saturday or maybe a sunday i'd make 20-30 pints of watermelon pickles. If it weren't for Perk there'd be no rinds, and no pickles, cause it's hard to eat enough watermelon to get enough rinds to make it worth the work ... you wouldn't do all that work with just one or two rinds, it wold take the whole day and not much to show for it.
I never knew anyone that could eat as much watermelon as Perk.

I have not made any pickles in a long time, nor preserves nor canning of any sort. It's one thing that I can actually do well.
And no watermelon pickles since ... not for a long time.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

where it comes from

What "real" poets do i read ... whatever happens to be available. Most of my books are still in boxes, having not yet gotten round to replacing bookcases and such that were flooded in Ike and had to be taken out. The sheet rock is all replaced but not painted and until that happens, probably no bookcases and therefore no books ... too many boxes to dig through and no idea what is where. I did pick up a book of Robert Penn Warren the other day at the resale shop ... it's all they had. M wanted to read Auden so I gave her Bukowski instead. She's had it for a good week now, likes it. Usually she says Emily Dickinson is her favorite ... she's ok, Dickinson that is.

Zbigniew Herbert. Czeslaw Milosz. Ginsberg.
Plath, Poe and Paz.
Milton, Dante and Blake.

Kafka. I wonder if I could write like Kafka if I rented the same little blue house he rented in Prague with his sister, a respite from his work as an insurance company lawyer?

Shakespeare's sonnets - to read the plays is not so great, but seeing them in theater is great; I survived college Shakespeare by seeing all the plays in England at Stratford on Avon and the Barbican. But the sonnets - those i like.

Perhaps a better question - who or what is not a part of the milieu that prompts me to write...
I can and do read some of anything that passes my way, some i discard and some i hold for a particular time -- that explains so many boxes. Kerouac's "on the road" in the original scroll form, much better than the book all chopped in chapters. As a scroll it reads as though you are on the road, blowing and going and racing and smoking, the sex and the drinking and the trips down south to the bayous and to mexico ... that's a trip.
William Least Heat Moon's "Blue Highways."
Road trips.
Snatches of this and that, a smell, a feel, the way the light hits something seen a thousand times or never before, like a sun through a thuderstorm not yet arrived
"Leaves of Grass" at different times, maybe just a piece here or there.

Never have I sat down and read a book of poetry through and through, except for perhaps when I was very young I had a collection "A Gift of Watermelon Pickles" that I loved ... my grandmother made watermelon pickles and the book was read and re-read, at least once from cover to cover ... and yes, I know how to make watermelon pickles and i have to say they're among the best I've ever had.
But that's another topic.

I saved and bought that book and kept it for the longest time but god knows where it went to. It was freedom in that book. It was what I thought I wanted and knew I didn't, would never, have.

I don't know that I remember the first time I wrote anything ... mostly I don't remember very much at all ... but I do remember the first time someone read someting I wrote and it was ... it was terrifying.
I don't know the words of what I wrote and i don't know how it is that anyone came to read it but I'd rather it never happened ... except in the sense that who I am now depends on all the things that came before I guess it was a necesary thing, but I'd still rather -- if I'm being honest -- that it had never been written or read.
I don't know.

I was small and probably young too -- though young is not helpful in pinpointing events, I hardly ever know how old I was, but only small is what I remember. I had been canoing or on the water or I was thinking about it anyway because I remember on the water was the setting ... not the setting, but anyway what I wrote was about that, being out on the water. My mother got it, i don't know where ... i recall it was written on lined paper. Where her anger, her rage, the violence came from I don't know. I would have thought my brother went snooping and stole it to show her cause that's the kind of thing he might have done ... he taught me all the nastiest cuss words and beat me til I said them, calling him names and then when dad came home he'd tell on me and then it would repeat, only this time it's dad beating me until I repeated the words that i wouldn't have even known 'cept brother taught me them ... but I guess he was just surviving the best he could. Only one could get beat at a time.
But my brother had nothing to do with this ... I don't think.

My mother got it, the paper and for whatever reason she was as mad as I'd ever seen her. She asked him about it, the poem and where did I get it and whatever else she was screaming I don't recall ... but I think I remember my brother telling her to leave me alone and it was mine and I wrote it and the rest I don't remember, how it ended. I just recall the feeling, wishing I was dead and never wrote anything, not knowing what I did wrong.

Why would anyone be mad and hitting and screaming over something a dumb kid wrote that had nothing to do with them or with anyone or anything, for that matter? I never did figure it out. I never knew what it was she wanted me to say or what I did that was so bad.

Do I know where that one came from?
Do I know what made me want to write anything, much less that?
No I don't.
Did I keep on writing? I don't know ... probably not for a long time, as I found other ways, more acceptable, to keep shut up. When there is nothing felt there is nothing writ.
But then, after a time, I began again, still just as shut up as before, still as numbed as I could be, because even when I couldn't think and as hard as I tried to not feel it didn't always work, probably ... just because.
Writing has never been anything that i much make a conscious decision to do, it just happens.
But I still try to be careful what I call it, who sees it, and I might would disown it in a heartbeat if it would save me from having to justify whatever it is.

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houston, tx, United States

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