Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bachman is Bat Boy's Really Dumb Sister

I can really understand his being ashamed to cop to this. I'm kind of ashamed to know it.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

For a Wild Girl

(on her birthday)

It is not because I killed you.
It is not merely because I killed you.

There are numbers of reasons which justify my intent.
But none closer to the heart of it
(I admit)

To wit:
I have done it again.
Dug you up
and rolled with your bones.

But there is no atonement
or respite
for him who killed
the light.

I feel you, sometimes
behind me in crowds
and you’re on the periphery

of everything I see.
Your vanished voice still echoes
and rings:

Do you still love me?
Then kiss me, ducky.
Finger my wounds
and chase the blues away,
constant one, o constant one.

I had a memory of you,
earlier today. A glimmer of you
from someone else’s face.
That cloudy day on the deserted beach:
You, me. The wind, the sand, the sea
and the smell of rain.

You were reading something.
Baudelaire, I think. Maybe Rimbaud.
You bit your lip, squared your jaw—
that thing you did, when you were deep in thought.
Blowing your hair away from your face
you remembered I was beside you,
gave a start, tilted your head
just a trace, and angled it toward me,
then gave it a teasing, haughty toss.

Leaning over then to me, we kissed—
playfully, at first, then
lingeringly. And I felt the shiver—
the familiar ache—resonate through me.

I wanted to wrap myself in it
to cleave to your shattering
and exist out of time

to fill myself
with the jaggedness
Of your going.

How sharp it was!

But there is no release.
No bodkin, no disease.

No atonement
no respite
for him who slew
the light.

Never forgiven this earth
that gave, then took you away.
Cold, careening rock
that hid you under dirt.

Never forgiven the stupid boy
more in love with love than love could take.
Who for the sake of love and pure
spent your love away.

All was finished, that time ago.
Unforgiven, all we turn and spin
breathe and be
as if you hadn’t been.

What more to say that isn’t said?
Nothing left, but for that I’ve bled
And leave undone—

So sleep, and well, my dreaming one—

And the face of night which is become
the ghost of all your days but touched
will merge to one—one light, and such
as star or sun that heaven’s never seen—
and you will be free.
Of all. Of me.

Dreaming better dreams.

Contemplating one or other
lying noble Roman
searching the bottom of the row
of the history shelf
absently even less aware
than usually I am
turned abruptly
to my right—not thinking
not glancing not giving a damn
for on-coming traffic
you know—
nearly plowed her to the ground
poor thing
almost murdered randomly
on Saturday afternoon
at Waldenbooks
by a book-drunk stranger who
should have had his browsing licence
qualified long ago—
a pretty one she was
kind eyes
brown and wide
with an amused ironic mouth—
and a smile which graced
even reckless men
who menace chain-store aisles.

Mumbled apologies
so little aware was i—
no problem, said she
looking up at me
still smiling
as she squeezed on by—

and i—
and i—
i looked at her
then began my descent
into my favored hell
nothing beneath me
to break my fall
just fell
and fell
and fell
into the place
where’s kept your face
and i reduced
and you were not
and nothing—

nothing was all.
Contemplating Romans at Waldenbooks
nothing was all.

You didn’t see me seeing you
one gray November day
under the old tree
behind your father’s house
as you waited there, for me.

You couldn’t hear
when I spoke your name
under my breath,
not in the way you needed—

no, too reverent and too soft—
like you were Maia,
outstretched in clover and lost
in some reverie of heaven.

When rain began to fall
I wavered before calling out,
trying first to learn the order of it;
leaned back on your elbows,

your left leg pointed at the clouds,
like you were guiding them, I thought;
citizens of that glowering sky
enthralled, by you, as I was.

But you were just a wild girl,
with loops in her hair,
softness in her skin,
and light in her eyes;

no wildness, no softness,
no quality of light
could subdue those bawdy strings,
that pasty elder—

(How thinly,
they throb.
How utterly,
they sting.)

When you sensed me there
Behind you, you cocked
your head around,
And grinned.

I was apple cactus.
You were the moon.
Closed fast in dreaming,
I could only bloom

in your eyes.

I noticed you right away
leaning against a wall across the room,
your long dark hair bound back
but spriggy rings of it dangling free
around your ears, like stray flowers
refusing to adhere to some prosaic gardener’s
sterile decree. Your eyes grew wide
and you caught your breath
just when i did—i swear, i saw you do it—
and you nodded my way, and smiled.

I saw the gap in your teeth.

Nothing could be done, then. I was gone.

You were standing with your back against
a crooked tallow tree.
And your head was raised, just slightly,
anticipating me.

But Zeus was hiding,
behind the hedges;
lethal, profane
and soft, around the edges.

I know a sad case.

A backwards guy.

A sanctimonious God-talker, who grew into confusion.

Long ago there was a girl, with a gap between her teeth, and long dark hair that flowed like tiny wreaths of silky vines over her shoulders and along her back. She smelled like sunlight, and had eyes that transfigured what they saw—they transfigured even him—eyes that glinted possibilities that live even in the meanest of moments, and people.

The darkness knew her name—hated her, desired her. Used her, tried to consume her, to make her part of the its massive, glowering emptiness.
She ran from it, hard and fast as she could, racing for the light that lives in the shining water, and the glittering sky—saw it, in front of her, somewhere down the road—remembered it in her flight, as she tumbled down the hill. Held it close, as she twisted into metal.

(On the flutter of an eyelid, everything turned)

Time froze, and contracted to its beginning. Awareness loitered palely about the edges, hollowed-out and stopped-in-place, while he faltered, reeling; captive to it, undone inside it—before everything unwound again—in a tsunami of gush and ache that remade the entire world. And even him.

But everything was out of synch, when time rebooted, a dissonance which remained; he persuades himself sometimes this has abated, or at least his sense of it has. Deep down, though— where his heart will not beat in common with illusion—he knows it never will.

She was, and must be.

He barely is, can barely be.

Time is an irrevokable moment, from illimitable perspectives; witnessed by stars, which see everything we can and cannot see; possessed, all, by a transfiguring girl, in the arc of her flight, on her crooked journey to a kinder home, and a truer light.

That is what he thinks, at least. It's the only thing that makes sense.

And it comes, I think, to this:

All’s been done so many times
and nothing’s left to say. Desire.
Need. Possibility. Just words,
anyway, and they’ve all been said.
Tellable told, thinkable thought.
Saleable sold, buyable bought.
And what has changed? Not a fucking thing.
Cause I’m still here, and she’s still there
and you—you’re wherever the hell you are—
and I’ve grown tired. Really tired.
A dragon, I think. A pyromaniac
gone weary of fire—and of everything
but stars.

And maybe, in the end, that’s all
there ever was.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Ave Maria. Barbacoa tacos, with lime, cilantro, and a wedge of avocado. The 1941 version of The Maltese Falcon. The smell of oak, wet with dew, at 6am. Cactus roses. Prufrock. Adam’s Curse. Peter Quince at the Clavier. Chicken Masala. Lady Lazerus. That Morning. Kindness, whenever it happens. Iced tea. Red Wind. Weaver’s perfume, wherever I may find it. As I Walked Out One Evening. The Ode to Joy. Look Homeward, Angel. The red dirt of home. Cherokee Creek. Spunky Holler. Tamales. When John Wayne holds Natalie Wood up in the air, and says, with gentleness and humanity, Let’s go home, Debbie. The British version of The Office. The Lady Eve. The Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor. Gatsby. La Mexicana. Nessun Dorma. Redemption. Compassion. Red beans and rice. The game afoot. The Royal Tenenbaums. Buffalo grass. Sunflowers. Nothing but net. Love and Mercy. Thunder Road. Noir. That’s how it crumbles. Cookie-wise. Chana Masala. All things Gonzo. The smell of a baseball glove. My wound is geography. Baba ganoush. The Grievous Angel. Crossing the Colorado River, into San Saba County. If You See Her, Say Hello. Batboy. Colonel Blimp. The Big Sleep. Nigel Tufnel. Hey Jude. The Diary of Adam & Eve. Happy endings. The Lubitsch touch. Texas. Uva uvam vivendo varia fit. Mystery Girl.  I recommend pleasant. And you may quote me.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

If Equal Affection Cannot Be—

What is the poet's purpose? The artist's? Varied, I suppose, as the sensibilities of the neurotic human beings who populate the arts, but with some commonality, I hope.

So often—too often, today—art seems exclusionary. Too hip by half, self aware, even masturbatory, created by a select few for the edification of a select few. It is a bitter truth that few poets today can sell their books (beyond the sales imposed by teacher-friends upon hapless underclassmen). Some of these writers are, frankly, those of limited ability and muddled ideas; others certainly have talent, and some notion of something to say, but neither group seems too awfully concerned with the 99% of the world who have given up trying to read their work. Perhaps this is to be expected; after all, there are a number of reasons for the dimunition of the audience for poetry and literary fiction. Because the slide into (relative) irrelevancy began for reasons beyond the control of individual artists, the bitterness I mentioned at the outset is understandable.

However, the attitude of the artist in the wake of that slide has largely been to stop considering any kind of greater audience, and instead to play to the first couple of rows; in the case of some, the aim does not extend, as it were, beyond the lurkers in the wings.

I believe this is sad, for everyone. For the restive many out there yearning for the solace of art, many eroding, piecemeal, beneath the wheel of off-the-rails radical capitalism; and for the artists who never come to full realizations of their talents or themselves, because they never locate their identities within a larger context—the zeitgeist, or whatever you want to call it—the place where their identities and those of the poor slobs at the People of Walmart blog, who hipsters love to ridicule, are the fucking same—because face it, they are the same, we are the same, we are equal in our humanness, occupying the same spaces in time, regardless of what the Dumbass Idea Worm may tell us. Our differences matter far, far less than our sameness—our commonality, to sound banal, but the idea is far from that. In your soul, you know this is true. And like one of the most humane of souls once told us, We must love one another, or die. This is so, now more than ever.

We must not lose our love. Not only for our families, not only for our friends, but for all the people out their estranged from our senses of community by the blurred nature of modern perspective—we must not set ourselves up as being so different, because in every crucial way, we are not (do not be so dense as to ask which way this is—you know, and I know you know—we share senses, we share fears, and hopes, and desires, we share skin and blood and bones—we share death, for crissakes).

At a conversation during lunch, the topic concerned protesters of an ilk not much sympathized with among many I know. It occurred to me that I know of the sincerity of each side in the struggle at issue—the struggle itself having no bearing on this thought—and how fucking sad that is. The vitriol, and the rage, invested toward people who share far more than they differ, separated by imaginary walls, set upon one another by often cynical forces, beyond their understanding or control. It made me tired, and melancholy, desirous of another way of relating—can you understand what I mean? I am sick, thoroughly sick, of bitterness, and venom, and acrimony.

These lines occurred to me then, from the same poet I mentioned a few paragraphs ago, coupled with the title of this entry: Let the more loving one be me.

This is how we should live our lives, how I want to live my life, by that credo. Is it possible, do you think?

Let the more loving one be me.

And is it possible that poets, like Auden, can once again speak to us with humanity and love, and teach us how to live?


Here is the poem, once again, in its entirety—from a time when poets had a thing or two to say. The More Loving One, by WH Auden:

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.

Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total darkness sublime,
Though this might take me a little time

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ralph Emery

go see for yourself


The Thing Redux

(from last year)

Watching one of those chicken-fried hoe-downs—"Pop Goes the Country", hosted by Ralph Emery, who has this enormous dead animal on his head (very disconcerting, and it feels like its staring at me). I dvr'ed a bunch of these shows from the RFD channel (quality programming like this is obviously the reason everyone should have dish network).

Ronnie Milsap came on, few minutes ago. I used to like ol' Ronnie when I was in high school, and it's kinda nice seeing him again. Now he's sitting at the piano, singing a medley of pop songs (originally sung by women, a strange, curious choice). "You're No Good", was the first one, now "Let Me Be There"...and I really can't tell you how good it is, cause Ralph Emery is sitting next to him on the piano stool, and that damn thing on his head is hypnotizing me. There are mean beady little eyes inside that thing somewhere, I'm sure of it, and I think it has somehow burrowed into Ralph Emery's brain, because when he was talking to Charlie Daniels a few minutes ago he called him "funky" about 3 times, and I swear, at one point he reached over and stroked Charlie's hair—could he be planting one of those things in Charlie's head, too?

So, now, like I said, he's sitting next to Ronnie, and Ralph is casting these furtive glances his way, and, you know, Ronnie is vulnerable...'Cause he's fucking blind, you know? And even though this ostensibly happened in 1975, I feel sure it's happening right now—I think Ralph Emery winked at me, man! Jesus!!!—Although, intellectually, I know this can't be so—

Reaching for the remote...Must somehow destroy this thing before it...telepathically... reaches across the decades...and though i can tangibly feel a force trying to induce me otherwise...I have turn

Silence now...I can feel...the thing's influence...waning... My God, what was it? Did it infect Ronnie? Charlie? This is impossible to know... i just googled Ralph Emery's current image... He has to be 80 now...And there is a different thing on his head now, a sleek gray animal which appears to be dead. One thing I feel pretty sure of, though--if I could peak beneath it, and see the top of his natural dome—something I expect no one has seen in many, many years—at the very least a slight indentation would be revealed...Most likely, though, it is a crater...

And Ralph still has furtive, crazy eyes...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sexy Film Scenes—I Know Where I'm Going!

(from last year)

The scene I'm posting (and the movie it's taken from) is a favorite of both mine and of Paula Jane's; after seeing it again the other day, it prompted a discussion of the sexiest film scenes we know, especially those which don't show sex explicitly (and while you may disagree, I think that's a disqualifier anyway). She thought it would make a good topic, and I agreed—obviously, because here we are—and hopefully she'll have some things to impart, as well. I'm gonna choose my top ten, and post em in no particular order over the next few weeks, beginning with the scene in question, from I Know Where I'm Going!.

The Film was a production of The Archers, a legendary British film unit led by director/screenwriters Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, and consisting of a remarkable group of actors and crewman who collaborated to make some of cinema's best and most criminally under-seen masterpieces, among them The Life and Times Of Colonel Blimp(1943), The Red Shoes(1948), Black Narcissus(1947), A Matter of Life and Death(1946), and numbers of others, including of course, I Know Where I'm Going!, in 1945.

Similarly, the films stars are actors not much celebrated these days, but far superior to legions who are. Pamela Brown plays Catriona MacLaine Potts as though she was both a person and an element. Seeing her in the film for the first time, climbing a grassy hill with the easy grace and earthiness of a Celtic Goddess—clutching a brace of rabbits in one hand, a rifle in the other, and leading a yammering pack of hounds—she could've been Danu, in the flesh. When she enters the house a few frames later--rather, bursts into it, free and large and passionate as any man or god—she rather takes one's breath away (watch the stunned reaction of Wendy Hiller—mirroring the audience). She and Michael Powell were beginning a life-long love affair, and it's easy to see how he fell under her spell; and although her role is a supporting one, it is vital. The strength and authenticity of her character, as well as her odd, disquieting beauty, reflect the place, its people, and the way of life they hold to.

Roger Livesey is a key actor—perhaps the key actor, considering the vehicles he starred in—in the annals of Archer films. His performance as the title character, Clive Candy, in The Life and Times of Colonel Blimp demonstrated his astonishing range, conveying deep humanity to a character only seen as caricature to that point. It is a performance for the ages, one I encourage you to see immediately. A Welshman of lumbering appearance, and soulful aspect, there is a bit of Prufrock about him, ostensibly; deeper investigation reveals an actor whose gentle masculinity is more genuine (to me) than a dozen Clark Gables stacked together. In this film he plays Torquil MacNeil, the Laird of Kiloran. He is a naval officer on leave, and has leased his property to a rich London industrialist. He has done so from necessity, because he cannot afford to maintain it. If he leases it for 2 years, he reckons he can live on it for 6.

Wendy Hiller plays Joan Webster, the singularly determined young woman (she knows where she is going) engaged to be married to the industrialist. Hiller was George Bernard Shaw's favorite actress, and she is among my favorites, too. Brilliant in everything, she acted primarily on the stage, and is probably best known for being the original, and most compelling, Eliza Doolittle (on both stage and screen) in Shaw's Pygmallion, as well as the idealistic heroine of Shaw's Major Barbara. (Additionally, Anne of Green Gables fans undoubtedly remember her as the difficult and invalid Mrs. Harris, from Anne of Avonlea.) Not conventionally beautiful, with perpetually surprised eyebrows, insolent lips, broadset eyes, and little visible softness, she bore the more credible and genuine attributes of talent, intelligence, and luminescence to great effect.

In the film, Hiller’s Webster is in a hurry to join her fiancĂ© in Kiloran, where they are to be married. It is a small island in the Irish Sea, off Scotland’s western coast, and it is often inaccessible, because of the fierce seas surrounding it. When she arrives at the little hamlet where the ferry to Kiloran is located, it is during one of these periods of high winds and dangerous waters, and she is compelled to wait for days at Mrs. Potts’ house, in the company of Livesey’s MacNeil, who is waiting to cross over, too. He is immediately and unabashedly drawn to her—as she is to him, although she fights it for all she’s worth. The scene that follows is a depiction of a typical Celtic Ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee), in particular a Clan Campbell celebration of an elder’s 60th wedding anniversary. The people are vivid, and unaffected in a way that is unfamiliar to Joan, but nearly as magnetic to her as MacNeil is. They watch the action from outside, she on a ladder, to get a better view, he directly beneath her. When the pipers—her pipers, hired for her wedding, stranded on the mainland just as she is—play My Nut Brown Maiden, MacNeil quotes a verse:

Ho ro my nut-brown maiden,
Hee ree my nut-brown maiden,
Ho ro ro maiden,
You're the maiden for me.

The pay-off is his delivery of the last line—the audacity of it, as he looks directly at her, with sudden, smoldering, unapologetic intensity. Cheeks blazing, her alarm and excitement are palpable.

Enjoy it (and watch the damn movie, if you haven’t seen it):

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Maud Gonne: O Love is the crooked thing

(Too tired to post. This is a retread from last year. I stand by it.)

Yeats wrote that. Then he said, "there is nobody wise enough to find out all that is in it."

Me, I've seen all kinds of it. A blonde girl black and blue, carrying a tiny yapping rat-sized dog in a purse slung over her shoulder, eating french fries from a paper bag, maundering to an unfurnished trailer on the beach. A lanky, glowering dark-haired guy, undone by his best intentions, and events beyond his control. A small, quiet, chubby kid, who loved to laugh and fish and drink beer, too afraid to ever declare himself. He ran out of time one Saturday, the fast lane of south-bound 45, between Galveston and Texas City.

Seen other kinds, too. Passion enduring for decades, passion that wanes, passion that never was, at least the way we might think of it—there's no recipe, really—lives completed, interrupted, ruined—crushed, beneath gnarled metal—haunted, by ghosts.

Could Yeats have loved Maud Gonne as deeply as he claimed to love her, if she did not reciprocate, in kind? I have always doubted that. Perhaps his love, impossible as it seemed, was merely a tool, an extension of his artifice, like Plath's resentment of her father, or Steven's evocations of human feeling.

I've always thought unrequited love to be an illusion—a projection, i guess—expressing the desire of the projector, and having little to do with the projectee. It is a desire, too, that can come at an oppressive cost.

But what the hell do I know?

Maybe Dante really loved Beatrice—the essence of Beatrice—with a pure and simple heart. Maybe his idealized vision of her was some kind of fucking truth.

And maybe the best thing he could do, loving her so, was to stay the fuck out of her life, so that she could be really loved—good and loved, so to speak—by someone with a pulse.

Maud Gonne was born 145 years ago, today. God bless your constant heart, Maud—for living on your terms. For rejecting objectification. For not permitting the throbbings of the ravening, flailing, desperate sex to define you.