John Kilroy 11.30.03
Wave for Mickey Dora
surfed Killer Dana
before the marina
till the river made me sick
shot the pier at Newport
back when it was legal
surfed Salt Creek
before the Ritz
before the oil wells
surfed San Onofre
before the power plant
before the toll road
up in Malibu
down by Carlsbad
surfed Santa Cruz
till I nearly drowned
the day it took the pier
at midnight, naked
surfed Oak Street
the day eight kids
stomped a fag
when my father died
and now i can't go back
surfed a war that had no reason
surfed the politics of crime
surfed the vandals' way with money
surfed relentless loss of hope
surfed 25 years of falling down
surfed drunkenness and dope
surfed failure as only i could make it
surfed the fear in my children's eyes
surfed women strong as tides
surfed with everything i know
surfed the day that i will die
now, they want to take Trestles
turn doe-skinned bluffs to stucco
and make an ocean view
well, i surfed waves big as buildings
and i've been tunneled for a week
the only thing that can't be surfed
is this wave rolling from the east
a wave too big, a tube too black
even for Da Cat
except we all know Dora
never thinks like that
copyright by John Kilroy
A RANDOM BULLETED LIST
Work has been brutal over the last few weeks, but I've managed to sneak into a few readings around town and read some books on planes and lunch breaks...so here are some news and notes for your enjoyment:
- Coffee Cartel -- my "home reading" -- has been going through a rennaissance of sorts lately with some terrific features and good open readers showing up almost every week. Take one of the new regulars, John Carmichael, as an example. It's rare to find people in the poetry community who a) read poetry at all, b) read a wide range of poetry, and c) perform work from other people at readings. Well, John does all three...and MEMORIZES the work in order to perform it for maximum effect -- I'm still buzzing from the week he NAILED a performance of Theodore Roethke's "Dolor." And, oh yeah, his own work is outstanding as well...hopefully he has some new poems in work. His wife, Karen Carissimo, graduated from the Masters In Professional Writing program at USC, has been published in several journals, and is an incredible poet in her own right -- in fact, she's starting to show up on the calendar as a featured reader around the Southland. Keep an eye out for these two at a reading near you... Also sighted in the crowd in recent weeks: Robert Carroll, Carine Topal (who only read one poem but OH what a poem...), Leslie Maryann Neal (who read something new and excellent), FrancEyE, and Wanda Van Hoy Smith. The poets who have featured for the Redondo Poets have been excellent of late as well. Richard Ferguson ripped things up with his highly literate spoken word performance the last week of October. Susan McCabe, a professor of poetics at USC, delighted with a personable reading supporting her new book from Red Hen Press, Swirl . Michael Andrews, co-founder/publisher/editor of Bombshelter Press and ONTHEBUS (with Jack Grapes), merged visual and written art into a beautiful series of broadsides -- the "text" from which he read. Upcoming features in December include the aforementioned Karen Carissimo and Robert Carroll, a publication reading for SOLO #6 , and Zack Wolk.
- I got a copy of Leigh White's new chapbook, Leighbonics , in the mail a few weeks ago with a personalized inscription and a half-pound of C4. (OK, just kidding about the C4.) It's good, and I'm not just saying that because I got a poem dedicated to me, either. No one else writing in the local scene has her knack for crafting disjoint poems that make a weird kind of sense in that part of your brain which is constantly cajoling your animal self to breathe. I suspect that a lot of her approach to poetry subconsciously comes from the fact that she is a visual artist first and foremost -- and indeed, the pages of Leighbonics are not only filled with arresting imagery in the poems, but black-and-white reproductions of some of her recent paintings as well. (It's too bad that the book isn't printed in color...) You can get a copy of the book (and buy some of her art) at her website . And you have to click on a hidden link to buy the C4.
- From my network of Orange County sources, I hear that I missed one of the best readings of the year when Victor Infante and Lea Deschenes read at the Ugly Mug. The Southern California expatriates returned to town for a few weeks, and their reading for the Two Idiots Peddling Poetry brought out some of the best poets around: Michael Paul, Paul Suntup, Beth McIlvaine, Mindy Nettifee, Rachel Kann, Rives, Leigh White, Aaron Roberts, Jeremy Stephens, Catherine Turner...and those are just the ones I heard about. I did manage to make it down to the Mug this week to see two San Diego poets on a road trip: Sally Bonn and John Dutterer. As usual, the Idiots have great taste in features -- it was an solid, entertaining performance by both poets. The last performer of the night was a girl named Ann Fleischer (probably butchering her name, sorry) who had a friend tape her performance as an audition for HBO's Def Poetry Jam...unfortunately, the room was mostly empty by the time she went on because a lot of the audience took off at the break. Hopefully the remaining people made enough noise to impress someone at the network...
- Although I haven't been writing poetry these days, I have been reading a lot of books, and wanted to pass along some nice words about some which have really impressed me. Michael Paul and I have been exchanging poetry recommendations lately, and at his suggestion, I decided to pick up Satellite by Matther Rohrer, his most recent solo work. (Rohrer's most recent book is a collaboration with Joshua Beckman titled Nice Hat. Thanks. -- an interview with them and some sample poems were in a recent issue of American Poet .) I liked the book a LOT -- read it three times in a row on that same trip, in fact -- and especially liked "Beautiful Things," "Homage To My Waitress," "After The Wedding Party," Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence," the first excerpt from "The World At Night," and "Credo." The only reason I haven't yet picked up A Hummock In The Malookas , his first book, is that Christmas is coming and I need to give Mom my list of desired presents. (So, Mom, if you're reading this...yeah.) Another book which got the multi-read treatment was Some Ether by Nick Flynn. I picked this up on the basis of a quick skim in a bookstore in Washington D.C., some poems I had read earlier on Poetry Daily , and the Graywolf Press name and was well-rewarded for taking a chance -- there are some harrowing, thrilling poems in this book. Standouts include "Ago," "Radio Thin Air," "Angelization," "Cartoon Physics, Part 1," "No Map," and "Some Ether." Finally, I would rave about Mark Bibbins' Sky Lounge , but I have a funny feeling I may have more to say about his amazing poetry after I hear him read tomorrow night (with Monica Youn) at Portrait Of A Bookstore. So, suffice it to say that it's brilliant, and you should check it out.
- If I WAS secretly writing poetry and not telling anyone about it, I might (or might not) be listening to Boards of Canada, the Lost In Translation soundtrack (best movie of the year so far, by the way), The Karminsky Experience, Inc., Bent, or The Wrens. But I'm not, and it's entirely hypothetical.
- I got an email from a really cool girl in Sweden named Fanny who wanted information on where she could hear slam or spoken word on the internet. Of course, my immediate reaction was to be highly amused -- I have about as much slam credibility as a department store mannequin. (Lingerie department, if you must know.) Among other places, I directed her to the Luca Moved Upstairs collection on IUMA -- 20 MP3s from some highly-regarded performance poets, available for free download. (I'm kind of surprised that the site is still up, to be honest, so download the tracks while you can.) Fanny's letter brings the number of emails received by me from near-total strangers because of my articles on the site to FOUR. (Speaking of which -- does anyone out there know if Tina Brown Celona is still writing?) I mention this only to remind you to feel free to get in touch with me or anyone else on the LitRave staff. We love to get your reviews of poetry events, books, and journals. It's cool when you send your own poems, but it's cooler when you get out in the community, connect with a performer or a book, and share that viewpoint to close the loop.
- Hey, Mom, if you're still reading this -- subscriptions to Swink and Fence would be nice.
- Unfortunately, I recently bought a book of poetry which disappointed me greatly: What Narcissism Means To Me by Tony Hoagland. The poems in the book may, in fact, be excellent. But out of the entire book, only two reached me in the same way that virtually EVERY poem did in Donkey Gospel and Sweet Ruin : "Windchime" and "How It Adds Up." Admittedly, Hoagland is trying to do something different with his poetry ( this interview is enlightening), and the subjects he tackles are certainly the questions of the hour as our nation grapples with the consequences of our foreign policy and domestic consumption. But these poems seem to lack much of what I loved in his earlier work: the personal insights are so personal as to be almost insular, the sly humor is much harder to find, and the charming authenticity doesn't always come through. (The poems which dealt with race issues rang especially false.) Hoagland is still a wonderful craftsman, and I can't help but think that a lot of my disappointment is fueled by how much I LOVED his first two books -- you can only be truly disappointed when your expectations are the highest. When I get the book back, I will try it again...in the meantime, I'd be curious to hear what others have thought about the book.
- Last but not least, I finally was convinced to join Friendster. I have no CLUE exactly what I'm supposed to do now, but as far as I can tell, I get to send emails with little pictures of my face next to them, and I'm now related to Kevin Bacon in some way. If you're a poet who's on Friendster, get in touch...we can swap works in progress. Or pixelated photos. Or something.
Neil Aitken 10.27.03
FOUR DOGS PLAYING POKER
It's deceptive at first,
four dogs at a table
You almost miss the tell-tale signs:
the violin case on the bar room floor,
the circle of beer in bottles and cans,
the shotgun leaned against the far wall,
the smoke crown over the dealer's head.
In the other room the tv blares.
When Higgins calls his dogs,
two of them turn their heads
towards the door.
A Girl, Punk 10.27.03
Some of my Words
Living day to day facing negativity, no productivity
for those of us trying to cope, stay off dope, not cut or own throats
its hard when our system keeps taken us in, it's more like going home,
not to the pen. We never win. we never win.
Its not only people of color, who run for cover, have cracked out mothers
get stomped on by others, even my brother and sisters can't keep it real,
we were never taught how to feel, how to love, no hugs, I did drugs to feel good.
Started hanging in the hood , always up to no good.
Be exploited, living lies, standing by, watching while life passes by, waving hi,,
alone , in jail, no bail. No bail that the story of my life , strife,
being a fucked up wife and mother of three who I love more than
drugs and the thugs I chose over them. No bail.
Now I cry, wounded as life goes by, no more getting high, or living lies
feeling deprived..., The day of the Dead , wishing and hoping, coping.
Feeling that jones to get high, say bye, catch you later, Hasta La Vista Baby, maybe
I can keep it under control, be on a roll ,not in the hole this time,
Ya know maybe..........
Yea and maybe, I'll win the lotto, be president and change the world. Im a nothing girl
that's what I've been led to believe, so you see its hard to conceive , the idea of me being
something I'm not. I was never taught a single thing, everything I know I learned on my own
not from home, I was alone, Alone in a family (or group) of five , noone knew I was alive.
So now I strive to recreate my life, doing time at my moms, it feels wrong, its taking too long,so I sit around writing songs, pen in hand writing thoughts, dreaming about my drug fueled days, living in a haze, wondering if I'll return to those places I used to love , making myself hate, hard to anticipate the change. Turn the page.
Maybe I can keep under control, slow my roll, else they'll be digging a hole for my coffin,
buried in the ground getting rotten, bugs that crawl in and out, in your stomach and out your mouth, you know the kind. Maybe they will just burn me up, throw me in the oven, on my way to heaven I'll stop by hell, I give a shout out to all that fell, maybe I'll stay there who knows.
TAKE YOUR SHOT
I TOOK MINE
PULL THE TRIGGER
ONE MORE TIME
SPIN THE BARREL
ROUND AND ROUND
FOR THE SOUND
DID YOU HERE IT
I HOPE SO
PULL THE TRIGGER
"CLACK" IT GOES
ITS MY TURN NOW
I START TO SWEAT
SHIT MY HANDS
ARE SOAKING WET
I LOOK AROUND
A DEADLY QUIET
FILLS THE ROOM
I PULLED THE TRIGGER
BUT NOT BEFORE I TURNED
I AIMED AT YOU
AND WATCHED YOU SQUIRM
YOU BEGGED FOR YOUR LIFE
AS I SHOT YOU IN THE HEAD
WHAT A PITY "BOOM" YOUR DEAD!
i live in Los Angeles, and want to get into the scene i used to promote bands and punk showa in hollywood and worked in music for awhile. ive been chillin and trying to write and want to learn to read my poetry, maybe someone could read some of my stuff and give me some advice and direction, thanks peace
Richard Beban 10.26.03
Cats Don't Care How You Spell "God"
I prefer the apparent
indifference of cats
over slavering fealty
of canines. Imagine
god a constant,
forever seeking your
barking his dumb assurance
of "security," the way Star Wars
is supposed to protect us
from suitcase bombers--
which is to say noisy,
I prefer my god (& goddess)
by example the concept
of free will. Beyond food,
water & a bit of attention,
god spends his day
in sleep & play,
hunts to eat,
sometimes sits staring
into realms we cannot
see. Purrs her psalms,
teaches yoga in lithe,
26 October 2003
For news of poetry & fiction workshops, readings, etc., visit http://homepage.mac.com/r.w.b/Personal2.html
Felipe Cabral 10.26.03
Jelena's story inspired me to think about these things. Here's the first thought that came. I like it. Thanks Jelena.
God stood on the mountain
Hi great voice booming from
Fire in a never consumed bush
And no one listened.
God pounded upon the sea shore
With waves that rent the rocks
And frightening crashing sound
And no one listened.
God shot fire from the sky
And thunder shook the ground
And its power was Eternal
And no one listened.
God crept into our hearts
Through the eyes of a pained puppy
Softest whisper of a whine
And we all listened.
Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 10.25.03
Dogs Are Gods in Disguise - A Challenge
As faithful LitRavers would remember, not such a long time ago, somebody in our ranks started the "I Am The Sofa King" challenge. I'd say, we all had a blast contemplating the Sofa King concept. To that end (having a blast writing on a given topic), I have come up with a new challenge. The topic is "Dogs Are Gods in Disguise." (Cat lovers, please feel free to submit your thoughts, too.)
The idea came from the actual background for one of my own poems. A couple of months ago, my boyfriend's dog was in severe distress, having torn tendons in one of his hind legs. He spent one whole night whimpering pitifully, licking his injured leg, and begging us for help with sad, long glances of his big brown eyes, until we finally managed to get him into the vet's office the following morning. Out of that experience came the following poem:
licking each other's wounds
overtaken by kindness,
in his eyes;
our shadows dance
in his mirror of souls.
(Copyright J. Andjelkovic, 2003)
Looking at the same poem weeks later, I realized that something much deeper than the plea of an injured animal came through it, so I titled it "GOD." The title, read both forward and backwards, perfectly suits the poem. So, here you have it: dogs are gods in disguise! I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject. I know LitRavers are always up for a good challenge.