Tuesday, April 29, 2008


[Urchin-esque assignment. We read a story by Maria Donovan entitled "Pumping Up Napoleon," about a Welsh university history professor who falls in love with an almost but not quite back from the dead Nappy B. Their assignment: resurrect another historical figure into their lives and write about it. We've had, among others, Marley Bob, Jesus (natch), Che, Henry Ford, the Marx Brothers (with Zeppo, not Gummo), Vlad the Impaler, and here, my second date with Maria Sklodowska, aka Marie Curie.]

After an afternoon searching the drag, I found Maria Sklodowska in Toy Joy, staring at the lava lamps.

“This I do not understand,” she intoned severely. “Lava this is not. I know lava: lava is not your friend. Who would make lamp with enemy of Mankinds?”

This from a woman who handed out radioactive dross like it was candy. A glowing bouncy ball ricocheted off the wall behind Maria Sklodowska. Her ears were glowing: no earrings, just the ears themselves. She loved the blue-green glow of polonium set just inside her lobes. Daddy Pierre was crazy for it, but Daddy Pierre was gone, pobrecita.

“It’s not lava, Maria,” I said. “It’s just goop.”

“Goop, Bob?” she said. “What is this goop?”

“What you see bouncing up and down. That is the goop.”

“Radioactive it is? I love radioactive.”

I hated to let the chica down, but radioactive love was not a joking matter. “Sadly, Maria, no.”

“Sadly, Maria, what? Sadly I am not. I love life. Today I make intercourse for Quizmaster.”

“Make intercourse, Maria? Something tells me you made something else.”

“I to Quizno’s, I fill out papers, I make intercourse with manager.”

“You make—”

“Words, Bob, I make words with him—”

“Interview, Maria. You make interview.”

“Interview, intercourse, what is—”

“Believe me, Maria, there is difference.”

Why was my English turning Polish? My indefinite articles were vaporizing. I needed to assert my homeland.

“So, what is Quizmaster, Maria?” I asked, slip-sliding farther down the slope of my eroding Mother Tongue.

“Ah, Quizmaster, Bob. Quizmaster is Assistant Manager of store. We are boss of artists.”

“Artists in a sandwich shop?”

“Sandwich artists, Bob. You do not think food is art?”

I smiled ruefully. “Well, I’ve learned that fiber is art, so I suppose food can be art as well.”

“What is this art of the fiber, Bob? I think that I eat this fiber. Am I eater of art, Bob?”

“Consumer, perhaps. Eater, no. Different kind of fiber, Maria.”

“Of this I am glad, Bob. Picasso is not food. I am not sure Picasso is even art.”

“About that assistant manager job, Maria—”

“You like ice cream, Bob? Jen and Barry’s?”

I decided to roll full tilt down the eroded bank. “Yes, Maria Sklodowska, I love Jen and Barry’s.”

She smiled her ghastly blue-green smile upon me, her latest unstable nuclide. I could feel the benevolence of her canines, in rough collision with the vicissitudes of her molars. In her sleep, Maria Sklodowska was a grinder.

Jen and Barry-lovers though we were, we opted for Amy’s Ice Cream just down the street. Easy access, homegrown bidness, sleepy little dive under Benign Godzilla at Mangia’s Pizza. A win-win-win.

“Zodgilla is Marxist, Bob. Is leering like Karl.”

“You knew Karl, Maria?”

“I may be radioactive, Bob, but I am not ancient. Statue of Karl, Bob. Statue of Karl in Gdansk leers like Big Candy Mountain Rock. When I see your Mount Rushmore, I think that Roosevelt Comma Teddy is leering just like Karl back home. I do not trust your Safari Man with asthma.”

How do you respond to a Republican campaign speech like that?

“Forget Zodgilla, Maria. Let’s head for the ice cream.”

No surprise, Maria Sklodowska was gaga for Blue Rocket—rainbow sherbet in shades of blue, one glowing strip of lime right down the middle, like a camel blanket from the boys at Pixar.

“Is radioactive, the—”

I decided to call the end of the world as we know it. I felt fine and, yes, I was in love, a radiant vibraphonic isotopic hyperpsychic interphasic fusion jerryberry Michael Stipe biopic of middle management soul attraction. L-O-V-E, cher. Love. I be in it, I be by it, I be with it, I be from it, I be in the oh so glorious jiminy-cricket ampersand OF it.

“Sweet sister Maria, I hates to tell ya, but the Whole Wide World of Sports is radioactive.”

“You tellin’ me, Bob. Into the Blue Rocket we jump together, cheri?”

“Dollop of Mexican Vanilla on top, sugar. Pound in the gummi bears, sweetness, and you got yourself a date.”

“Jelly up and jam tight, mój niewielki becquerel
. We commit centrifuge tonight!”

…Yes, when you hold me tight, you make me feel all right…

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Time-Wise: The Ballad of Marie Curie

When we were wee chocolate, I could never write Google Magic. I was the inner life of pets, a bedtime story of punishment and reward, a slippery-haired wicked phenomenon of spicy eccentricity.

“These are my shoes,” said Ms. Magic. “My deepest, darkest fantasies in the news.”

My hotel stories were just so much baggage—two cents and a fortune cookie. I was the country mouse, but I wasn’t sure whether she was urbane or mouse. Aquarius, yes; rodent, questionable. Magic, indubitably.

“I have an idea,” she said.

“I fought the law and the law won,” said I.

“Ooh, how yummy crush. Did you tell your diary?”

The question gave me goosebumps, and I got that sinking feeling—I did not want to be the passenger in my life. I wanted to be the passenger in her life, her dream inspiration, her skin-toned chronicle.

“Me, I carry my misspent youth,” said the Missus.

“I’ll be your donkey,” qouth slavering I.

“My ass.”

“Your Oprah ocean—who else could I be?”

“Holiday memories?”

“Three wishes, then,” still slavering.

“Shouldn’t I be granting, thief?”

“As you wish.”

“So. Second chance, collector personality.”


“Comono, biblioteca boy. You got imagination in there, too?”

“If I could stop time—”

“Well, you can’t, Ms. Sarkisian. Nor turn it back either.”

“Dream journey?”

“Granted. Cleveland, I presume.”

“I’m an Erie baby, baby.”

“You’re just troubled, darlin’. Last wish. Andale.”

“Two peas in a pod.”

“Odd choice.”

“We are—”

“Are what?”

“—two peas in a pod.”

“Eric and Leif?”

“Batman and Robin?”

“Vanelli and Liberace?”

“There’s a difference?”

“Enough of this. I need your hospital money, honey.”

We were in the atrium of funk, exasperated earth scientists, the Billy Bob Thorntons of plastic surgery. Evil ears filled with persimmons. Our fanny packs were filled to bursting with the Lord’s golden promise. Mangos.

“Bubbalicious burritos, man.”

“Which of us said that? I’ve lost track of the markers.”

“Let’s count.” (This is me.) “Okay: I think you said ‘honey, money.’”

“Thank you. So, you’re ‘bubbalicious burritos, man’?”

“I suppose.”

“And I am ‘man’?”

“Only in my fantasies.”

“Whoa, nemesis. Who else can I be?”

“Polish, I’d think, though I’d worry about Maria Sklodowska.”

“Hear they make a mean kolache.”

We put down the interrogator. We were disco-yummy, one of the year’s best. Roger was moved, Gene was doubtful. He found cheese in the dialogue, we were an ooze of oozy sludge, but the gates were still wide open, who could deny it? Maria was lurking in the Nobel shadows, all two of her, her pockets lined with radioactive isotopes. She was a 20,000 zloty banknote, glowing in the rippling dark, a blue-green ionized fairy, headmistress of the Warsaw Radium Institute, marigold spinster after Pierre’s fractured skull, after the Pauline scandal, after the polonium of extramarital radiographic spunk.

Hear me roar.

She sold los dos nobeles for una vestido colorado. The Swedes were not amused, but she had “bidness,” she said. She couldn’t be bothered by a gang of Kronorheads, she was hot for Hollywood, Raymond Chandler, the viscosity of Marlowe. She ran the streets of LA in her red threads, her Bela Lugosi widow’s peak, her casual interest in the magnetic properties of various steels.

“Name yourself after your husband’s chair,” we said.

“I would rather the Floating University,” she said. She smiled ruefully, teeth aglow, her beloved pretty blue green. “I am a blue wave,” she added, handing out her petite curies like candies. We passed. She passed out. No safety measures, these distractions from her scientific labors.

“Fancy some butter pecan?” said the Missuss.

Maria Sklodowska was still reeling. Out of the corner of her eye, a Marian apparition, blue and rose, bare feet, but an ophidiophile to boot. Ball pythons on both wrists, Helena Bonham Carter the boa around her shoulders.

“Cecil,” said HBC, giving it the British SESS-il, don’t you know.

“I am not a right triangle,” said Maria Sklodowska. “I am completely isosceles.”

We tabled the butter pecan, for fear of higher math. We still had the rapport of the possible. Muy posible.

“I am the only,” she said.

“I am the only to win,” she added.

“I am the only to win two,” warbling on.

“And the mother of another,” we cried, and did we ever—all our goodbyes, all our earliest memories, all our portraits down the long nosy corridors of time.

[Okay: those Sunday Scribblers gave us a Wendy's Buffet-ful of prompts a while back, said to pick one and run. I was hungry: I took just about one of each and ran to the bank. The urchins could choose as many as they wanted, weaving or not. Somehow Marie crawled in, too.]

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Great Blue

An acrostic suite from 2001...


heron meditations


good fellow: strange vision exhilarates the nest.
rarely have i known the direction of your mist. until now.
enviable, is it not, your race
across time to
this moment of mississippi, shore

bought from what
legacy of pasts only you can
utter. they come, floating, fishlike -
elegant waste of piney ocean depth


glass eye, i think from my distance, so like esche-
r’s orb, a world turned in, turned under:
eternal sleep, a pearl in wait. spillway
a mighty punctuation to our dreams:
therein lies the irony of your long comma.

bridewell, hale fellow, get my drift?
lunacy’s sunken treasure
unfurled, the gar that ate jackson mississippi -
evolution’s finest hour.


gargoyle at seaside: can death be more still?
read this palm i lay before you.
eat of it. taste if fate is
altered in the fractions we have left.
taste if time cuts as a rule,

bereft of moorings
line for line
uranographer as mighty walls crumble
epigraphist of the gathering mists.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

The memes have it.

Tagging back at San who wants to know wassup on the desktop. Here's the one at the Instituto. Tears are runnin', they're all runnin' down your breast...

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For Olga

[Olga Samples Davis has been guest shepherd at Reconciliation’s Adult Sunday School class this past month of April. Her powerful Yemaya joy and laughter have blessed us all.]

(for, and from, Olga)

O, how the sweet Lord
L ives through this sweet sister’s
G race, overflowering, over-rivering
A ll our souls,

S himmering in a pure
A fterglow of rhythms
M ade whole by the stamp
P owerfully driven home:
L oves abundant,
E asters restored,
S abbaths overflowing—

D aily, Sister calls us
A ll to Joy,
V ectors of God’s Play
I n the nooks & crannies of this blessed world, to
S izzle & samba in the Lord’s dazzling prayer.

[In grateful thanks to the Joy of Olga: 27 April 2008]

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Neil Young - Cinnamon Girl (need we say more)

What, Neil wasn't pretty enuff, camera had to moon the audience? (At least they're having fun: was one of them not Rebecca DeMornay?) J-Lo's moves ain't got nuthin' on NY, cher. (Apologies to ALT: gramps is waxin' nostalgic agin.)

Sunday Scribbling #108: The Future of the Plantain

Dexter Wallabee wallows to the One Stop, search of dentine. It ain’t the fact of the matter, it just is. It didn’t have the reason until just now, in the annunciation of downtown Mobile, in the instant of recent communications, in the red fire of the bleeding sky. The blood wonders too, cuz she has a hankering and a predilection. Secretly, she still wonders if there’s a difference: Dexter assures her that there is, but only when his saxophone tones are most blazing. You blaze under a bleeding sky, see: you don’t wonder too far: the fiery grip gathers you up and you sing for your supper and all the seven dwarves of insinuation. Until that moment, it’s Henry David and his mung beans, but when the Holy Ghost and 7-11 descend, you just about ready for a good game of frozen food, dereliction guaranteed. Teddy comes beggin’ at the door, Alphonse knows no bounds, and Mahalia is just pure M-jay. We’re not talkin’ rapture, we sure ain’t talking bugaboo, we just talkin’ simple Bartleby and James. The pigs is sleepin’, the wheat is wry, the hay is in the barn. Karaoke died, sympathy for the devil too, even the Almighty Ford has seen the cinnamon girl. I can be happy, for the rest of my life…

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

They're back in action

prettiful dreamness

low calorie funny
major motion picture
instrumental fiji partners
Boatinator of the Boatness

the raja queen
the chemically few
the constipated handrail
the mojo mama Motorola
the elvish chasm drooping west

invariable variables
unimaginable religious boat ears in
the Boat O’ God
transparent sacred memory
the ultimate cheese
in the yellow submarine
subterranean subway systems submerged
to be the incalculable
Abraham Lincoln Christ.

[middlers and the middler chaperone]

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Monday, April 21, 2008

This one's from waaaaaaay back

August 2005, snippet from an old class blog, in the daze before the Institute (this was adult education at its, um, grooviest). Ran across Lady T this afternoon: this snippet was from an earlier time, when I'd run across her after years of assuming her to be sadly off the radar. Well, she weren't: believe me, she weren't.

The Lady T, Part II

(pb) Friends: how be the math this lazy grey rainy morning? Wasn't that rain the best way to wake up this fine day? She-bop.

Local biblioteca served up my ordered copy of Ms. Teena Marie's latest CD, La Dona. Ms. T out of the catacombs 15 years since Ooo La La La, the Queen of Ivory is on fire, laying down 80 minutes of gotta get all this out now conflagration, she be burnin'. An unfortunate bit of WWF/telenovella to open, but for the next 78 minutes she does not miss a beat, soprano quiver ice/slice shiver to full tilt belladonna opera in the blink of an eye. Lady T can scat with the best of them - hell, she is the best of them.

(Sidebar: my son came to me yesterday and with that wry knowing grin asked: "Dad, do you know what scat is?," and he did not mean what Lady T can do...)

Be forewarned: this album is not for the faint of heart. If I ever give it back to the teca, you might want to check it out.

Because I can't stand the rain / Falling on the inside / Of my window pane / It gets so cold inside / So if you leave / Please make haste / Cause it's starting on the inside / And it just might be too late...("Black Rain")

"Ooh La La La"...it don't come better for pure soulful loveliness-funk.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

y mi novia es...

Doesn't He Have Anything Better to Do?

Sunday Scribbling #107

"Compose": I nearly decomposed doing it.

quicksilver decomposition

D eadly cinnabars trill
E ven-tempered,
C alibrated
O bsessions—
M ythologies dispersed,
P lainsongs unearthed,
O bsidian trine:
S ing for your supper, urchin,
E ach and every time.

quicksilver compote

My right-brained
twithers in the
blitz of left-
compost. Bring
your rastas to the pas
ta party—plastic
parties, Vanelli
shrines, acu
punctured quaff-

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eddie's poems

Three English classes riffing off of e e's "because i love you)last night":

because i love you) last night
clothed in sealace
appeared to me
your mind drifting
with chuckling rubbish
of pearl weed coral and stones;

lifted, and(before my
eyes sinking)inward, fled; softly
your face smile breasts gargled
by death: drowned only

again carefully through deepness to rise
these your wrists
thighs feet hands

to again utterly disappear;
rushing gently swiftly creeping
through my dreams last
night, all of your
body with its spirit floated
(clothed only in

the tide's acute weaving murmur

e e cummings

and now the riffers:

Too Much Is Not Enough

leggy black chance
up her lovely
racing mind’s phase
through dreamy glaze
the 8os never die
legwarmers warm your arms
Afros invade
in a fiery red blaze
controlling the movement of the mole’s instincts
racing underground to find shelter
where is the freedom—the cowards hide
brave men rise
jimmy’s legendary escapade
in a milky white Escalade
the spinners on the rims
a new war begins
the gopher from Caddyshack still lives
the C4 did not kill him
but all life goes dim
low odors in rare graves
all life goes on
seen in movies, just not controlled.

(middling urchkins ([sevenths and eighths])

Beast With Two Fronts

war and peace
love and hate
(wham, bam, thank you—)
chevy and ford
that would be nice
that would be mean
all of a sudden
it is nigh upon us
humans and ogres
up her lovely
guns and olives
mind bottling hate
porsche 911 and ferrari f430
doors and knobs
fire colada
eyes wide with fear
to again utterly disappear

(junior englishers)

rigor mortis

i’m not a first line person
the birdies go quack quack (meow)
inexplicable mysteries to be dealt with
histories abounding
vispict bad burritos
finite differentials
pink volumptuous pete is
spiderman awesome
do you really want to solve this?
i need some chapstick
the punches life throws
poets are thieves, so don’t write this down
10 month preggerman
10 month straightened crazies

(sophomore englishers)

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Source

[In all fairness to the man, I should offer the original. I love it when awesome poems blow the socks off of high schoolers.]

For Jane: With All the Love I Had, Which Was Not Enough

I pick up the skirt,
I pick up the sparkling beads
in black,
this thing that moved once
around flesh,
and I call God a liar,
I say anything that moved
like that
or knew
my name
could never die
in the common verity of dying,
and I pick
up her lovely
all her loveliness gone,
and I speak to all the gods,
Jewish gods, Christ-gods,
chips of blinking things,
idols, pills, bread,
fathoms, risks,
knowledgeable surrender,
rats in the gravy of two gone quite mad
without a chance,
hummingbird knowledge, hummingbird chance,
I lean upon this,
I lean on all of this
and I know
her dress upon my arm
they will not
give her back to me.

Charles Bukowski

[In working with the poems, one of the exercises is to pick the line that you think is Mr. B's favorite. This one was easy.]

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Fun With Buk and Jane

More variant fun with Bukowski"s Jane:


gods that never die,
idols of common verity,
rats gone mad:

her back to me leans,
risks the loveliness,
darkens the night,
sears the flesh—
lean surrender—

all the gods,
all the knowledge,
all the chips of blinking chance.

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not johnny mathis

After Bukowski’s “For Jane: With All the Love I Had, Which Was Not Enough”:

[black chance]

give her back, blinking
verity, lovely dress,
lean idols:
they will not,
they risk not,
they spark not—
black flesh, black
chance, the black
of marble death.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008


It's a few years old, but today it's for ALT and the ravens.

[take out]

all kinds of tacos she sez
and i am –
all kinds cast off
out of egypt full of chorizo
and beans and huevos con papas
no light no fire
un gordito full of shame and loss
whose arms whose sighs
to the corner of brazos and el paso
a cross to bear lightly
to bring to the wall
a tiny candle, cinnamon stick
café con leche am i
pan dulce on grey morn
aftertaste, afterthought
pico de gallo. menudo. barbacoa.
handmade for christmas

mary sighs from across the street
calls in her order
breasts flowing she must keep up
her strength
i see them gathering her plates
tiny cups of salsa
in blue paper
blue of her stained glass
blue of her stained heart
blue taquito tears

find a home she sez
sister juanita in the lime green dress
will be your guide
take the broom, sweep the floor
angels will dust your feet
light the candles for all the milagritos
ancient of daze
ancient of heart
guadalupanita’s piñata
guadalupanita’s fiery little treat

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Secret Life of Words

I’d brought it home from Hollywood Vid last year, but it languished for its week in residence here and then was plopped back in the video drop at the HV, unwatched. I’d pass it on my prowls through the year, but something always said wait. Last weekend Tina watched it with a friend and brought the friend’s copy home; she said she thought it was time.

What a sweetly beautiful, sweetly tragic film this is. I’ve just spent some time surfing a bit about it: it seems to have been given short shrift by quite a few folks, including in some cases folks who liked it. There are voices that speak from the crevices of its characters’ lives, voices that speak through the bodies and spirits of those who are present, or who at least appear to be present: Sarah Polley’s exquisitely portrayed Hanna has a lot of ground to cover: not all of her survived the Balkan Wars. As one who worked for years with people who were navigating their bodies’ and minds’ capacities for remembrance and witness, I found Hanna’s navigations to be remarkably accurate.

It’s a wonderful ensemble, with Polley and Tim Robbins and the few remaining “ghosts” that populate an oil rig out, I assumed, in the North Sea somewhere. Haunting music throughout, right on through the credits. True to its landscape of brokenness, it often feels fractured, unexplained, elusive, untidy: I loved this about it. I felt as if I were watching a cousin to the Irish movie Once.

The Secret Life of Words (directed by Isabel Coixet).

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sunday Scribblings #106 ["Fearless"]

No Better

Walk off into the paparazzi night, blue-stoned lips, narrowsmith dollhouse, mercenary rhyme. That’s my blood down there—treasure rears its ugly heads, visionary times, distillate joys. The applicants are waiting. We’ve brought you round to see the ashes, but the ashes never linger, pride never lingers, just the astral plane of our disinfected souls. I know no better than you, I pried my eyes out, there’s nothing left but augury, the fashionable turns of late afternoons in June, sun splayed across the Charles, honeysuckle at play: stifled, still lambent, mortuary bloom. Was it across this bridge, was it in this frame, should we linger or perish on? I fear the last of you, I fear the least of you, I fear the least that may last beyond these times. Carrion. Bestiary: jaguar’s doom. Play the midnights until they’ve run themselves out: I…can…no longer…spare. Territorial imperatives, the dragon’s heat. These your visitations, into august night.

Bloom cowers. She is rampant, as the night has bled. Vitriol weeps her last—wrath of a fearless queen.

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Chrysalis Dreams memes. Meme-droid that I am, I join the fray:

4 Jobs:
1. Bushhogger (El Rancho Doce Robles, Knippa, Texas, and Virden Farms, Jacksonmiss).
2. Land surveyor (Uvalde, Texas).
3. Archivist (Jackson, Mississippi and Afton Mountain, Virginia).
4. Garage Sale Superintendent (New Orleans, Louisiana).

4 Movies I watch over and over:
1. Sense and Sensibility.
2. Sense and Sensibility.
3. Sense and Sensibility.
4. Sense and Sensibility.

4 Places I’ve lived:
1. Tres Leches, Tejas.
2. Cambridge, Massachusetts.
3. Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
4. Moscow, Idaho.

4 People I would give a Fred Flintstone vitamin to (sorry, can’t go with the BSRITMONW option):
1. Mijo.
2. Mi novia.
3. Casey, for his story “How to Survive a Gnome Attack.”
4. Quinn, since it’s two days till QuinnFest.

4 People who email me regularly:
1. My Yahoo Calendar reminders.
2. Tina.
3. Sister Laura.
4. Mi madre.

4 TV shows I watch (“Fiction”):
1. Masterpiece Theatre.
2. As Time Goes By.
3. Seinfeld.
4. Um,…

4 TV shows I watch (“Nonfiction”):
1. Masterpiece Theatre.
2. As Time Goes By.
3. Seinfeld.
4. Um,…

4 Places I’ve visited:
1. Lemuria Bookstore, Jackson, Mississippi.
2. Pig Stand on South St. Mary, Tres Leches, Tejas.
3. Chapel of the Black Madonna, Tres Leches, Tejas.
4. LeRuth’s Restaurant, Gretna, Louisiana.

4 Favorite foods:
1. All things Middle Eastern.
2. All things Indian.
3. All things Italian.
4. All things ice cream.

4 “Wheres” I’d like to be right now:
1. Avalanche Gorge, Glacier National Park.
2. The Napoleon House, New Orleans.
3. Grayton Beach, Florida.
4. Örebro, Sweden.

4 Things I’m looking forward to this year:
1. The End of Bushmania.
2. The return of the size 34 waist.
3. Dylan’s new wardrobe.
4. Padgett Powell’s new 54 page novel.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Crash landings

As I was drawin’ me bath this evening, sinuses sodden with oak pollen, Waugh’s Men at Arms within reach, blurry images went through me head, images of the book and of this weekend’s viewing of Atonement. Echoes of the viewing itself, during which I felt film and book blurring as well. The astonishing surrealism of the beach scenes in Atonement seemed to blend right in with Waugh’s dark farce. All that and the fog of my oak-laden head.

I flashed to other art collisions I’ve experienced in the past, and wondered about those experienced by Tribe SA/East and West.

In addition to Atonement/Men at Arms, these come to mind:

1. Hesse’s Siddhartha and the Who’s Who’s Next: Freshman year, home for Christmas break, friend Mary plops the book into my lap one cold Jackson eve: I go home and, to the blaring repetitions of the Who’s tour de force (the violin surge of “Baba O’Riley; the lunar landscape of the entire album), I read and listen and listen and read until 4 in the morning (Van echo, much later: Four o'clock in the morning' / new full moon shinin' down through the trees), until book and music are inseparable. I cannot see the blue cover of the paperback without immediately seeing the four blighters who have just pissed on a concrete monolith (pissing on Kubrick?) in their lunar wasteland.

2. Last week was an odd triumvirate: I Am Legend / No Country for Old Men / The Pursuit of Happyness. The first two collided first, as I viewed the second right on the heels of the other. Both lay in an extremely dark wash on their canvases, into which are introduced the faintest of lights, both films invoking the same theme of small light within darkness. My crazy slip-sliding self then threw in the latter, thinking: I Am Legend is what Will’s character in Pursuit “wins.” I know: it’s my cynical self: I wept through TPOH, wept at the love and desperation and brutality, and yet when Will’s Chris finally (finally…finally) breaks through in the end, we’re given 30 seconds of triumph. 30 seconds. After which, I thought: this was triumph? To have broken through into a business that basically bankrupted the American economy through the 80s, with its rapacious greed? And then the engineered virus “cure” wipes us out. The “good” “cop.”

3. Orlando (VW’s book) and Orlando (Sally Potter’s film): I read the book and then saw the film a few months later. Most folks I knew hated the movie, feeling lost in its swerves and omissions. I’ll be the first to skewer a film for eviscerating its source (don’t get me started on All the Pretty Horses), but this pairing was simply fortuitous: the film ended up feeling like the soundtrack to the book itself, visual pairings that just seemed to work.

4. Frampton Comes Alive/Mozart: I’ve written of this before in the Ark-Hives of an old old classroom blog: thirty years ago in a record (yes, record) store on Broadway, north of the Loop here in Tres Leches, I was the only customer browsing for a good hour or so (needless to say, with traffic numbers like that, the store is no more, though it was a favorite of mine, off the beaten path, plenty big, and plenty sumptuous in its inventory). During one long stretch of this visit, Mlle. Manager played, at Gwar-like volume, PF’s classic “Do You Feel Like We Do?”—a song which has never sounded better. As it was hitting its colossal finish, I wondered, “What next?” PF crescendo splurge, guitar hero endless repetitions on the way out (you can just imagine the blond locks flailing—his, not mine) and then…Mozart. Lovely Mozart. Lilting Mozart. I look the managerial way across the record racks and she sez, “Why not?” And “Why not?” it were indeed.

Y’all out there in your lives who have as little to do in them as I do in mine, lemme know of your collisions.

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Philip Schultz: Pulitzerman


is this man sitting here weeping
in this swanky restaurant
on his sixty-first birthday, because
his fear grows stronger each year,
because he’s still the boy running
all out to first base, believing
getting there means everything,
because of the spiders climbing
the sycamore outside his house
this morning, the elegance of
a civilization free of delusion,
because of the boyish faces
of the five dead soldiers on TV,
the stoic curiosity in their eyes,
their belief in the righteousness
of sacrifice, because innocence
is the darkest place in the universe,
because of the Iraqis on their hands
and knees looking for a bloody button,
a bitten fingernail, evidence of
their stolen significance, because
of the primitive architecture
of his dreams, the brutal egoism
of his ignorance, because he believes
in deliverance, the purity of sorrow,
the sanctity of truth, because of
the original human faces of his wife
and two boys smiling at him across
this glittering table, because of
their passion for commemoration,
their certainty that goodness continues,
because of the spiders clinging to
the elegance of each moment, because
getting there still means everything?

[2008 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, for his book Failure]

Saturday, April 05, 2008

26.2 miles

Stole a big one for all you marathon meme-ers out there. Remember to hydrate, y’all.

1. What is in the back seat of your car right now? A lavender umbrella. (I shall wear lavender when I grow old.)

2. When was the last time you threw up? On the second question? My, aren’t we pushy. It’s actually been a long time. But, New Orleans certainly saw its fair share. That food was rich, cher.

3. What’s your favorite curse word? The Irish do it best, and most pleasantly: fock. That’s, frankly, the only way to say it.

4. Name 3 people who made you smile today? I’m the only one up right now, but it will be the two beauties who’ll be up later and, probably, the Blue Dog.

5. What were you doing at 8 a.m. this morning? Sittin’ right here, a-bloggin’ away.

6. What were you doing 30 minutes ago? Uh, see #5. I never said I wasn’t addicted.

7. Where were you born? Santa Rosa hospital, San Antonio, Tejas.

8. Have you ever been to a strip club? No: I am a strip club.

9. What is the last thing you said aloud? “Come on back in, Blue.”

10. What is the best ice cream flavor? Chaka Khan (or Mochachochalattayaya).

11. What was the last thing you had to drink? Organic apple juice (I’m fastin’ this weekend).

12. What are you wearing right now? A nightshirt.

13. What was the last thing you ate? A bowl of granola and soymilk.

14. Have you bought any new clothes this week? No.

15. Where were you last? In bed.

16. What’s the last sporting event you watched? A spurt of the Kansas-Davidson regional final.

17. Who won? I’d say they both did.

18. Who is the last person you sent a comment/message while blogging? jsd at Influx Transposer.

19. Ever go camping? Si, comono.

20. Where do you live? Tres Leches, Bouvet Island, San Antonio, Tejas.

21. What song are you listening to? In my head, I’m hearing Roseanne Cash singing “It’s raining, raining in my soul…”

22. Do you tan? No, but I tan-go.

23. Do you drink your soda from a straw? Aber nein.

24. What did your last text message say? Ah, happy to say, tis against me religion.

25. Who’s your best friend? Mrs. Baby, of course: she is indubitably this man’s best friend.

26. What are you doing tomorrow? “North and south and east and west of your life…” Sorry, it brought out the Streisand in me.

27. Where is your mom right now? Jacksonmississippi.

28. Look to your right, what do you see? “The rain, the park and everything. I love the flower girl, O I don’t know just why, she merely caught my eye…”

29. What color is your watch? Ain’t gonna. Haven’t worn one for 10 years. And no, I don’t use a cell phone instead—don’t wear one of those either.

30. What do you think of when you think of where you live? Love and happiness, which must mean I think of Reverend Al.

31. Ever ridden on a roller coaster? Just my life, thank you.

32. What is your birthstone? Topaz. But it’s carnelian on me wedding ring. Contrary to poor Gary Lewis, mine still shines for me anymore.

33. Do you go in at a fast-food place or just hit the drive through? I walk in. I love to look at the art work.

34. What is your favorite number? 7

35. Do you have a dog? Blue: a hybrid: Blue Heeler (Australian Cattle Dog) and dervish.

36. Last person you talked to on the phone? Mrs. Baby.

37. Have you met anyone famous? No, but they’ve met me.

38. Any plans today? Finish this marathon. Mail a book to Santa Fe San. Hobnob with Mr. Baby and his buddy Mateo. Hit the biblioteca. Check my email about 80 million times. Watch some of Kidnapped when Netflix drops it at my door. No, no real plans.

39. How many states have you lived in? 8 (Texas, Missouri, Kentucky, Mississippi, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Idaho, Bliss.)

40. Ever go to college? Si. It’s what made me the blogger that I am today.

41. Where are you right now? Blogging in the wi-fi café at the Taj Mahal. What do you mean, where are you right now?

42. Biggest annoyance in your life right now? Question #41.

43. Are you struggling to forgive someone right now? No.

44. Are you allergic to anything? Shellfish, but then I am vegetarian, so it doesn’t really matter anyway. For anyone missing shellfish out there, let me recommend the newly discovered popcorn tofu at Greens Restaurant here in Tres Leches. Oh…my…gawd.

45. Favorite pair of shoes? A tie: The size 7M black leather ankle-boot (left foot) shoe Mrs. Baby was wearing when we met. I placed it on the altar of the dashboard of my old van. The green Elefanten shoes my son wore when he was two.

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Friday, April 04, 2008

Sunday Scribbling #105

Funny thing: if you go to Rebecca’s site, you’ll see the first photograph that came to mind when I saw this prompt. I liked the (likely) unintentional ambiguity of this statement of hers: "Immediately, I thought of Gregory Colbert's photograph below, which touched my heart and I immediately fell in love with myself." I think she means that she fell in love with the photograph (as did I, and used it for several weeks as my computer desktop), but I like the idea that a photograph might move us to fall in love with ourselves. Still, short of Rebecca’s photo of the elephant girl or Stieglitz's portraits of Georgia or Steichen’s photograph of the Flatiron Building or Ansel’s wild and wide-eyed wonders, or short of being either professional photographers or more than casual viewers, it’s hard to get right down to the real soul people of photographs that have moved us to love ourselves—translation: it’s hard to do it off the top of your head.

As a boomer, I keep thinking of photographs on album covers, because album covers were the libretto to albums long before printed lyrics were de rigueur: Santana’s Abraxas and gorgeous sleeping ebony Yemaya, the blur of the cover of Stan Getz’s Sweet Rain, Van in his ridiculous leprechaun matador getup on A Sense of Wonder, or Van with those very cool Irish wolfhounds on Veedon Fleece, Cassandra Wilson’s sleek coffee-colored back on New Moon Daughter, Monk and his porkpie hat and curling smoke, Dizzy with his Albuquerque Balloon Festival cheeks, Johnny Guitar Watson and his shamelessly incorrect cover to Ain’t That a Bitch, Miles in profile on Jack Johnson, all those nasty-tasty Ohio Players covers, Dylan as a Nashville leprechaun on Nashville Skyline, Dylan-Rimbaud as the troubadour of Desire, sister Joni naked as a jaybird over the blue Pacific on For the Roses, Nyro’s classic head thrown back pose, getting ready to channel the muse, Keith Jarrett lost in possession by his muse, bent in prayer over the keys of his piano on the Köln Concerts…

wild wonder moves hard:
the chill of Abraxas
torn off the top,
back from the blur,
ready to muse:
is it wonder?
are we lost?
will we curl and fall in love,
porkpie jaybird on the leprechaun
this, my sweet libretto,
my new moon rain,
my fell in love again—

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Book it

Got that Tuesday night meme-ing feeling. Prowling, I find a book meme:

1. One book that changed your life: Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury: with this one, I said goodbye to political science and never looked back.

2. One book you have read more than once: Gravity’s Rainbow: used to be the Easter book.

3. One book you would want on a desert island: Grace Paley’s Collected Stories. All you need to feed the soul.

4. One book that made you laugh: Padgett Powell’s Aliens of Affection. Or his Edisto. Or his A Woman Named Drown. Or his Typical. Or his Edisto Revisited. Or his Mrs. Hollingsworth Men. Or just him.

5. One book that made you cry: Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove. You-know-who’s death. Read it on the fifteenth floor of the Melrose Hotel in Dallas and boohooed like nobody’s business. Even knowing it was coming.

6. One book you wish had been written: This one makes no sense to me. For seventeen years, I wished Pynchon’s follow-up to Gravity’s Rainbow had been written. Of course, I’ve got two novels in the can that I wish had been published.

7. One book you wish had never been written: The Horse Whisperer or any of John Bradshaw’s derivative dreck.

8. One book you are currently reading: Evelyn Waugh’s Men at Arms.

9. One book you have been meaning to read: Thoreau’s Collected Journals.

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