Tag Archives: night

pop culture seance

i have 2 poems here that are calling upon the ghosts of two major pop culture figures: james dean and bob dylan. i kind of think they represented a certain archetype of their time and age with which i am infatuated, so the tone and content of these 2 pieces is very similar.

For James

You glower ghostly from the projector shroud.
My planchette hands backlit black reach to you
in a cinema divination drawing me down Grapevine Road
at 70 mph, hurtling towards the specter spot at Cholame—
to hell with tickets and portends, angels and charms,
to hell with the red warnings blazing on that fateful day:
the sheen of the Porsche’s engine-hot hood, the collar
of your rebel coat, the label of your last Coke—you
ripped across that ribbon of concrete as the bloody
sunset stabbed your eyelids at skull-crushing speeds
and the Ford Sedan glared through the windshield—
better give me something, give me something fast—
I see you swiveling the steering wheel as you flick
the last cherry spark of your cigarette and battle
the demons twisted into the transmission, your eyes
fixed on the rangeline of dusk and day—a softness
like the final fade-out on the milk-wash screen.

Leaving Hibbing

You found the guitar arthritic in the attic, by
the mahogany Detrolla with an upside-down atlas
glowing on the face as Hank Williams quavered
airwaves and Odetta howled on the up-down strums:
50,000 watts voodooing through the atmosphere.

A country record in the cradle made you different,
deviated topography snagged on the compass rose.

There’s no room to rebel in this weather: a pastoral
purgatory of milk and lilies, snow-stiff flags
on the white-wash porches—what happens to these
nine square blocks when the iron mines shut down,
the fields dessicate and the red canvas awnings clap down
slow in the final autumn? Change your name
to anything, walk anyplace—Supertramp Napoleon,

get in our heads, pin us down. Seek the crossroads to séance
the folkster canon. With a dirt-thumbed copy of Bound for Glory,
you called upon the gospel according to Guthrie before
he boarded the crazy train. Stolen vinyl, shorn hair and hunger
as hard and hollow as your instrument—will you fill us,
make notes tone holy and speak something slanted radical?

Cinderella or Romeo, you can go everywhere
when you’re someone else, and you’re always
bygone and becoming, halloping to the horizon bevel
on the throstle and rise of rock-n-roll, the poetry
of the lemon crate in the gutter, the hum of a green
grain shoot stirred by Minnesota dew.

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Filed under New Writing, Summer work, Uncategorized, Unedited, Unpublished

After Overdosing on Sean Singer

Reading Discography by Sean Singer in class this month. I was going through his book and also his stuff on From the Fishouse (AN AMAZING LINK TO SOME SWEET HONEY, GO ENJOY THAT SHIT), and I realized that this dude was blowing my head off. HE IS INSANELY GOOD. I couldn’t even hang on to some of the language he was pulling off in his work, but a week later his lines are still rattling around in my head, particularly from my favorite, “Echolocation”:
“Into a dustbowl of annihilation the rotating head/seizes its empire of blood; a storm collapses each/mouse bone as the threnody of rain crushes the air.”
But he also has a Robert Johnson poem that puts mine to SHAAAME because of the line “Doping doping all through the grape night.” LIKE. AAAAHHH.
His knowledge of jazz and blues, travel and history and his exercises in self-persona construction are amazing. So I stayed up til about 2 reading everything I could find on him and trying to soak up his tone and voice for a second. I wanted to try on his style for myself in a piece, so here’s what I came up with. Anything I do pales in comparison to his prowess though–I guess this is just a little shoutout to him for taking my skull on a walk last week. CHECK. HIM. OUT.

After Overdosing on Sean Singer

I close against this cobalt
wall of insomnia,
unforgiving in its grind.
Meanwhile
an ocean rolls off a distant ridge—
slow dope-draw of traffic
to the hypoderm
at my temple, the thinnest veil
bearing the heart’s starved
hypoxia, its
drag and ratamacue.
Meanwhile
Singer slips another
line down the gyri: jazz and
its hawkish homology
making another loop—
he wishes I were an onion
so I can feel his thumb
peel my layers.

Meanwhile
the water trembles
over, too much at the glass-rim,
darkens in ominous polygons
on my carpet—some cartography
of the dreams ahead: jaws
and cheeks and shuttering lids
rising like the hedron
in the eight-ball—what
waits in the smalt-wash
of these indigo visions
and sleepless strokes?
Meanwhile
I’ll theorize about the sounds
the animals make in my walls,
scratching wider passages
through the plaster,
their empires of arteries
pushing work in the dark.
Their bodies will fold
into some appropriate
hugeness, like how
the cavern of my mouth
cradles the bite-bruised
petal of my tongue.

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Filed under New Writing, Poetry, Unedited, Unpublished

the last one for today.

no prompt, just me on a lonely winter walk.
i have a lot of poems like that.

Do You Hear What I Hear?

I crunch the wind-shocked snowpack, cast out
into Saturn, the last eponym of the season’s storming.
This is me cooling off in the rip of a come-back winter
jet stream, furious with the battle I make against this
relentless and offensive weather—boots angry
on the stairwell at spring so far away, so unhappy,
unwilling to work against unhappiness anymore.
I am no one’s favorite tonight, even my blood seethes
against me, withdrawing from fingers seeking stumbling
words. It’s just me and this Marlboro—God damn,
there aren’t enough poems about girls
with cigarettes in the snow, breath and smoke
indistinct below the wind-hull, hands cold. I want
to go home and lay low—maybe I’ll dig
into this drift here—emerge on the other side
to a parking lot apocalypse, sparrows falling
like ice-heavy limbs to the street, chased down
by a prowling hawk. Then wanders a misplaced
carol: Do you hear what I hear? No, if only
the scrape of shovels against cement echoing
in the reverb of a blizzard-tide. If snow falls
silent against the steel and glass, persistent,
then the trunk coming down in forgotten woods
must make the most desperate and lonesome sound.

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another blues-inspired piece (to be read aloud)

i’ve been thinking a lot about the page v stage debate of writing poetry. poetry is great for reading, but the performative aspect of poetry has become more important to me as my friends and i continue to do group readings together at a cafe in town. so anymore, i write with the thought in mind that i’ll have to read it aloud to a crowd that isn’t familiar with its construction on the page. so my voice on the page is more concerned with sound, rhythm, significance of content/message, etc.
aaannnyways, here’s something i pretty much spoke as i wrote it.
it’s also about blues again (I HAVE A LOT OF LISTENING HOMEWORK FOR THIS HISTORY OF THE BLUES CLASS). and me feeling aggressive and placeless in the (in)security of travel and late-night wandering in an unfamiliar place.

Chicago for the Weekend
“I just feel dissatisfied baby, / I don’t know what to do.
Have you ever had that same feeling, babe, / to come over you?”

—Leeroy Carr, “Blue Night Blues”

When I was little, I wanted to be a firefighter.
I got bigger but still too small to fringe the flames
of a burning building, so I stuck with the embers
seething in my stomach and ripped wild across cornrows
and factory fields to this new dreamscape, circling
the streets of this blasted city like bomb-shocked shadow.
Cigarettes drown in the rain-wash of sewers clogged
with street trash and stench, skunked booze
and vegetables cooked to death—
no nourishment lurks here, no satisfaction. I love
the labyrinth of this urbania, the dark fall
of skyscrape on walkways where hooded figures
hulk hungry, weaving their looms of history
into brick-blood and aged iron-cast eaves.
The corner blues-prophet exhales exhausted
lines into the smog, his internal purge adding
to the empty choke of air-waste and endless
smolder, and I’ll moan mantras under his divine
apocrypha, the agonizing rot of dying so
alone and undone in the after-hours—all bound
by frayed gut-string. Oh, hold me slow, hold me hard,
hypnotizing rock of underground bench-beat
rattling subterranean railways. I am not
from here, I know no soft place to rest.
Cold winds whip their cadence of crying
into verses of ice, alchemizing energies
of loop traffic and neon-bright tunnel rush—
yes. I need the heat of forgotten jazz scratching
the vinyl and spilling to the backstairs, the quiet
crumble of the fire-escape parting from the high-
rise. You are my surrogate tonight, my lover
arcing back in some orgasm of blown-out
voice and anxious time. Your sirens scream
so red in their flash down alleyways, searching
for the torturous scorch of my slow jam
imploring the ruby truck to stop by, to deliver
relief from the brutal knuckling of this angry kiss.

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Filed under for class, New Writing, Poetry, Unedited, Unpublished

theodicy

the next post is the product of the prompt: ‘describe a scheme gone wrong.’ i thought it worked nicely with this thing i’ve been kicking around in my head about good and evil and religion. if god exists, why do bad things happen in the world? this is the elementary question of the religious doctrinal debate known as theodicy. so. here’s my contemplation of god’s existence in the face of evil.

When I Lost Faith in God

Baby, we almost died on that street in Montmarte.
We felt so free, so drunk in our wrenching
open of the world, lapping up the marrow
of life: Bordeaux on the lawn of the Basilica of Sacre Couer,
lime and rum in the streets of Le Marais, staggering
through the cobbled streets of Bohemia—
The sour suction of guilt drains down my scalp
in a migraine, turning my stomach, boiling
up my throat. I suffocate on the reverb of memory
echoing through my lungs, on every shard
of the trauma that touched us that night: you, ripped,
using your body in ways you never dreamed
to save it; me, adrift, my limbs too heavy to fight—
from the backseat of the Parisian cruiser the sun
stroked the mullioned face of Notre Dame
with a pink and peaceful ray and I snarled
at the fantasy. Forty hours of insomnia, stale coffee
and imported cigarettes with Che’s face on the carton,
Oh God, Jesus, Fuck—theodicy unraveling in the cruelest
fashion as the train rocks us back across the English Channel.
Calls come in from the hospital, the embassy, parents
too far away: static on the airwaves save for the halting
breath that inquires into the anguish, wavering, falling
flat. I am a poet strangled to inarticulation, Frenchless,
Englishless, stripped of every fiber of intelligence
that flew me over these seas. Clinging to you, I feel
the miles spiral under us in the city of broken love
as its bore its brutality to us: hypnagogic gyrations cut
with sallow streetlamps and concrete, harsh alien syllables,
sterile waiting rooms and pooled blood in smoke-scratched
eyelids praying to close, to break the bad dream.

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i got a little sick of the happy

The listening portion of the Beach Boys course I’m in right now is kinda driving me crazy. The love songs are so happy lovey-dovey, so I decided to write a song-poem that turned that shit on its head. Love is a scary, dangerous thing, folks. Too much of a good pop song can break you. 

Kiss Me, Baby

I was not afraid when the bottle bashed
across my jaw and awakened me to love.
You and I under the florescent falls of suburbia
too full of Brooklyn Pilsner and bladed words
for the time of night. The front door with a broken
hinge, the mildew seething in the kitchen tile–
you grabbed my arm and the soft space
between the nest of your palm and my wrist
drew maroon puckers on my skin.
Please, don’t let me argue anymore
The white curtains with pink roses, grubby
from years of neglect. The sting of my fingers
as they shattered over your temple. The evening
thunder loomed, far away with darkness
like the clear water I’ll use to wash out the wound
as Brian Wilson whines on the stereo.
Kiss a little bit, fight a little bit—
The sheets of rain crushed into gray piles
on the stoop outside where you smoked.
KISS ME, BABY, LOVE TO HOLD YOU—
I felt the blue drapes of my body
loop over themselves, thick and rubbery
as the heat of busted-bottle blows bloomed
down my neck, slow as a caress
that stabbed me, stabbed me, stabbed me, cold.

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Filed under for class, New Writing, Poetry, Unedited, Unpublished

Another poem about being under the weather.

I feel like this trend is developing in my writing of having mini existential crises in bed when I feel ill/depressed and the weather is bad. There’s the couplet poem about a storm, the nightmare from when I was sick (which I didn’t post because it was kinda lame), and the writer’s block I experienced during a particularly dreary day. And now this.
I was told that I’ve been pretty ‘safe’ in my writing this entire semester, and I would say that’s true: I know what works with my style and language and I go for it. I know what mistakes I make and how my readers will react. Mostly I did this because of time constraints…a poetry assignment needed to be done so I just did it. But I want to try to branch out. I want to try to create something where there is some uncertainty in its reception. I just don’t know how to go about doing that. Maybe if I try getting more personal and less reliant on my ‘research-oriented’ form of writing, the results would be riskier, more interesting.
But this is what I have for now.

5 AM Thunder

This is the space you’re allowed to occupy
in my head. White-violet ribbons rip my eyelids

apart: the isolated roar of bus route runnings,
the soft marbles of rain clattering in the gutter.

I will wait, I will try to listen to the way
my landlocked heart contemplates like the rush

of waves in a shell—my own blood pooling
in tidal-rocked rhythms. A musty electric scent

rises from my sheets as I shift, every sore
muscle clenching fistlike against my skin,

while bones cut and pinch, snuffing out
circulation, sending limbs back to sleep.

Your animal turns over in the saddlebacked
mountains of my brain, murmuring with cloud

convulsions and gale-washed sighs. I could
give so much more to you, but I am stuck,

frozen fast in the knotted fingers of this storm,
a fire under glass burning the edges black.

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Filed under New Writing, Poetry, Unedited, Unpublished