Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Rhyming Love song for a corn-chip

If you were my bong water, I’d be the bowl
If you were the handcuff I’d be the bed pole
If you were the atom I’d be the quark
If you were the tree of life, I’d be the skin on yer bark
If you were my Tristan I’d be your Iseult that did go crazy with spiked- luck
If you were Jay Gatsby, I’d be the daisy you plucked
If you were my Socrates I’d be your guzzled hemlock
If you were a horny teenage boy I’d be your favorite cum sock
If you were a misanthrope, I’d be your cynic
If you were an STD I’d be your walk-in clinic
If yer body were the old testament I’d be your original sin
If you were straight up tonic water ,I’d be the gin
If you were my Nietzsche I’d be your caroling abyss
If you were all wet I’d be your clitoris
If you were the kayak I’d ne the paddle
Pin you on all fours and mount you, sans saddle
If you were the alphabet I’d be your vowel
After your workout I’ll be the sweat on your towel
If you were French royalty I’d wade in your court
If you were an unwanted pregnancy I’d be your abort
If you were stranded in space I’d be you breathing afflatus
If you were my facebook profile I’d be your hourly status
If you were a winking eye I’d be batting the lashes
If you were cremated  I’d be  your ashes
The way you swivel on that barstool is witty and flirty
If you were a martini you would be just a little bit dirty
You are the symbol behind every sign
I love how you are gentle and thoughtful and kind
I love how you smile with lips that do teem
and how you really are somehow everything I’ve ever wanted in a human being
If you were a Tao I’d be yin to your yang
If you were the universe I’d be your big bang
--Silly poem for Sweet-Tea and Sherry (lee)..twn lasses of light who rocked the gravity of my existence last autumn....(nothin' liek harboring a hardcore cyndi lauper fetish)....

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Time of year thou mayest in me behold....

...Flaring autumnal botanical stalk of life screaming (occluding) casa DVB like an amoxicillin-addled Phoneix.. (photo taken by my cool, sexy neighbor down the street Kirbie Holland, ie, chop-chop ie 'pain-in-me-phuckin' butt-butt, ie, smiles....

Monday, October 08, 2012

As Long as we are here we are immortal...

... home made poetic sampler specifically designed  for Dirty Laundry Lit!!! (sold by skylight books!!!)

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Dirty Laundry Lit (eary) autobiographic questionnaire of sunken light..



1. Why do you write?

Writing fiction is a lot getting drunk off the draught of the keyboard (Home Row Happy Hour) and then squeezing your heart into an empty gin bottle and hurling it as far as you possibly can into an ocean of unknown variables. You don’t know what sort of current your script will get caught in; how large the tidal wave will be. You have no clue how many seasons your heart will spend bobbing up and down, succumbing to the sloshes of nature, the indifference of mankind, the boiled insouciance of an accelerated society whose paws have more and more freely adapted to the rectangular scepter of the remote control and less and less to the tattered lapels of a book jacket. You have no clue what foreign shore will be privy to your psychedelic scribbles or if your heart will even wash up in the hands of an appreciable audience at all.

All you have (intrinsically, I think) is the joy of composition. The moment when that blank slate of the computer screen is gradually dotted with syllables and motion—the inward paradoxical feeling of having somehow, magically, traveled simply by sitting on your ass for eight for hours straight and tapping out crunches into a stream of jittery alphabetical shapes. You have that feeling of feeling less alone in the world, the feeling of connecting with something inexplicably spiritual. The feeling of devising a story, of living out that story through composition and in giving that story (and not caring, in a way, if the story ever quote unquote “makes-it”—in the immortal gothic cadenza’s of Black Sabbath “Give it all and ask for no return/and very soon you’ll see and you’ll begin to learn/ that it’s alright—yeah it’s alright” ).

2. If you didn't write, what would you do?

Probably masturbate….wait….

3. Your favorite writing quote?

There’s a quote by Anne Sexton I read when I was in high school from a letter she wrote to a burgeoning writer I’m really fond of, a poetic Polonius urging an unfledged literary Laertes to, “Get to work man, and let the publishing come in its own time even if its 15 years from now. No matter. Fight for the poem. Put your energy into it. Force discipline into madness. Push for the stars or at least go back and push one poem all the way up there. I did it, why not you?” There’s another really well anthologized quote from Heart of Darkness which I used to have pierced over my writer’s desk where the narrator comments, “No I don’t like work…no man does, but I like what’s in the work. The chance to find yourself.” There’s a book on atomic positivism the size of a Sunday school bulletin by Ludwig Wittgenstein entitled, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus that just destroys me with metaphysical maxims like “The single thing proves over and over to be unimportant but the possibility of every single thing show us something about the nature of the world.” and, “If eternity is understood not by endless temporal duration but by timelessness then he who lives in the moment lives eternally.” Of course David Foster Wallace’s 1993 contemporary fiction Dalkey achieve interview with Larry McCaffery where he talks about, “Fiction is what it’s like to be a complete and sentient fuckin’ human being vs. a rather sophisticated mammal.” just disintegrated every cell of my anatomy when first perused. Somewhere Michael Chabon has a great quote about if you want to learn to be a fiction writer you must learn, “to sit on your ass,” and although it’s not hip to reference there’s a quote from Loius L’amour’s autobiography EDUCATION OF A WANDERING MAN (the book Chris McCandless was reading at the time of his demise) goading the reader to “Start writing no matter about what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”

The most significant literary quote, the quote that  I received when I was sixteen while reading copious amounts of Eliot and acting like I was the Peach pit of the Prufrockian fool comes from the fourth couplet of Walt Whitman’s long poem I Sing the Body Electric.  When I was in high school the highlight was coming home after classes brewing a pot of coffee and just looking out my bedroom window lost in the spangled drape of a zinfandel-flavored autumn at dusk, leaves the color of bruised cranberry and light-copper skirting beneath the alleyway below while I sat at my desk, flagellating wisps of fresh ink across the albino topography of each page. Every afternoon while writing I would pause and listen to THE WRITER’S ALMANAC which for me, is indispensible, listening as Garrison Keillor’s plosive vowels whisper like an illegitimate zephyr across the airwaves. Even though it’s been eighteen years I can still tell you that the sun looked like a mandarin nerf-ball orb as light stretched in elongated planks and spluttered prisms across the wall my old bedroom and time seemed to stop and Garrison recited this poem. I won’t quote the whole thing here (it’s an individual experience) but it starts out with the phrase, “I have perceived that to be with those I like is enough…”     

Wait, you wanted quote singular.
4. Your favorite non-writing quote?
I have a crinkled rejection slip from the New Yorker pinned like a botched homecoming boutonnière above my writing desk at my mom’s house. It reads as follows: “Play with words, not with yourself, Mr. Von Behren.”

5. What vegetable do you hate to eat and why?  
The first poem I wrote for Miss Mooney in third grade was a five-seven-five haiku about Rutabagas. It went like this:
  Rutabaga, babe.
  Don’t you want to eat it, babe?
Rutabaga, babe.
Basho Beware.    
6. What are three elements that you need to mention in order to tell someone your most embarrassing moment? 
 There was a lot of alcohol and a lot of public nudity and (what the hell) lets throw in an elderly nun in a wheelchair brandishing an oxygen tank and clutching a rosary in the fashion of flailed Mardi Gras beads ….it only gets better…

7. Why did you decide to read for Dirty Laundry Lit: Hungover?

Boy, the story would have to convene about eight years ago when poet laureate Billy Collins was reading at the University where I worked and I was hanging out with a young poet named Lindsay Gail, who is hummeled-cheek and buxom and whose northern hemisphere looks like it was poetically purloined from the logo’d stem of a St. Pauli’s girl emblem. 

 After the reading I approached the poet laureate and tried to say something witty about lanyards and he completely ignored me all the while ogling Lindsay Gail’s cleavage.  Finally I grabbed Lindsay Gail by her wrist and said something to the poet like, “We’re formative young poets. Who do have to sleep with to get published?” Collins continued to ignore me before I inquired again and he annoyingly swatted back, ““Why don’t you just go to Breadloaf. They call it Bedloaf.”
That summer (2004) I fell salivatingly in love with this classy older married woman and wrote 300,000 words and blew my wrists out like an overtly-plugged amp in a teenage garage band.  Fast-forward eight years to last summer. I had just gotten rejected from a semi-prestigious literary magazine and it was one of those desultory, “Yer-shits-good-but-we-just-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-you,” rejection missives. The healthiest advice I’ve ever received about publishing is that when someone says “no,” you mentally supplant the word “no,” with the word “next,” so the fear of rejection in completely reneged, but for some reason instead of mentally hearing the word “next,” I heard a lot of internal swearing followed the by the word game and by the word on. I mostly write long-crazy novels and give a couple poetry readings a month but I wanted to start hammering away at the windshield of the page again and just tie the reader up to the linguistic bedpost of each sentence, Odysseus voluntarily trussed to the totemic strip-pole mast of ecstatic longing unable to defer from emotionally ejaculating into the cradle of his cod-piece (or whatever they wore back then) with every forbidden sip of the Sirens refrain.
Sometimes when you feel the need to be heard you scratch and howl even though it seems like no one is paying attention to you at the time and I started copying and pasting and then splattering seasoned blog entries from eight years (about a fourth of my lifetime) ago into the fair forehead of ye olde Facebook status update rectangle everyday. They were all stories that were each about 2,000 words long scribed solely for the velvet-haired “muse” creation I was in love with all those years ago. Via the magnetic mire of incestuous social-networking conduits   I ended up befriending fellow, “Bedloafians,” one being a dear poetic brother from Vermont named Larry Bradley (whose first name is that of my favorite Uncle and last is that of the University which fired me). It was through poet Larry Bradley that I met the refulgent gazelle-eyed sensuous scribe Natashia Deon who invited me to recite my poetic tithes at Dirty Laundry Lit at a time when I direly needed validation for my craft.
That said I’m honored to be a part of Dirty Laundry Lit. Honored to be a part of Natashia’s vision attesting to the narrative potency of the human condition evinced through the linguistic medium of words. Honored to hang out with writers of exceptional glory I admire.
8. If you could have any two people in the world, dead or alive, to show up to this reading, who would it be and why?
You. I want to read just for you. And you. I harbor a hardcore second-person pronoun fetish.

9. Where did you grow up? If more than one place, where would you call your childhood home?
I’m extremely proud to be an Illinois writer. It’s the state that gave birth to Hemingway, Carl Sandburg, Nelson Algren, Mike Royko, Studs Turkel, but I’d argue that in the last fifteen years alone thirty percent of the authors deemed contemporary and significant who will be read and taught 100 years from now have roots in this state.
George Saunders, who I had the privilege of introducing at a book store before he was well known, was born in Chicago and is just pure south side blood. Dave Eggers grew up in the ‘burbs and attended one of those high schools you always see featured in John Hughes films where beanie clad members of the school bridge club are always making pacts over lunch trays to lose their virginity by Arbor Day. Richard Powers ( Galatea 2.2!!!) grew up near Chicago and teaches at U of I.  Jonathan Franzen was born in a suburb of St. Louis—but on the Illinois side. Jennifer Egan lived in Chicago as well Being a young impressionable novelist and knowing that David Foster Wallace finished proofing the galleys for Infinite Jest in my same area code was just tremendously important to me when I was nineteen years old and just getting out of that perfunctory Kerouac-induced “Look ma, no punctuation, say something Zen that is seemingly profound,” mandatory male writer phase.

The town I live in is called Peoria and it’s pretty much the genital wart of the Midwest. All of the sociological flotsam and jetsam sifts down the muddy eddies of the Illinois River and just gets stuck here. It’s the birthplace of Richard Pryor and the hometown where comedian Sam Kinison entered puberty. It’s inexplicably referenced as a footnote to Ginsberg’s Howl as “Holy Peoria,” and is the setting of DFW’s swan song epistle to corporate tedium THE PALE KING.
It’s a town (or city circa maybe half-a million if you include environs) that’s a working-class wet dream stranded on a hilly bluff with a lots of old money and beautiful old houses that were built by bootleggers in the prohibition era. It’s the home of Bradley University, where state poet laureate and friend Kevin Stein teaches, and the home of the late journalistic legend the great Rick Baker and  almost monthly there will still be poetry readings where fifty people show up. I have a dear friend, poet Kyle Devalk who is always reading poems on the top of overturned garbage cans or vacant church steps.
 What I love about living here is that, few places on the planet I have observed where the quilt of disparate social-stratums seemingly overlap each other. As a writer you are sort of born wearing an ontological periscope like a spelunkering cap at all times as you sift through this chasm of life called reality. You observe compassion in a different way. You observe poverty in a different way.  You feel the pulse of love and the pangs of hurt with more intensity and with escalating vigor because that’s your job.
Parts of P-town are extremely ghettoey. The high school I attended had the lowest ISAT scores in the state and the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the nation. Parts are extremely opulent and yuppie. Down the river it looks like William Faulkner country and there is more white trash than you could bag up with a twist tie.
People get stuck here. I sauntered into my best friend from high school a few weeks back whom I hadn’t seen in fifteen years and he told me he had been arrested 52 times and then he lifted up his shirt to show me the welts where he had been stabbed on his front porch a few months earlier and then he started rapping and he started doing spontaneous things with language that I just can’t do even though I write my ass off every day.
But perhaps what I love most about living here is that if I am having a bad day I can get in my dilapidated BMW and in five minutes just be out driving across desolate country roads and chasing the tangerine splash of the sunset and looking at barns. That’s all I want to do when I start selling books is just refurbish a barn and write eight hours a day and brew my own mead and can my own vegetables and, every Saturday night, smoke my pipe while listening to Prairie Home Companion.
Not a bad life indeed.
10. One word to describe your childhood hometown?
Remember those confetti vignettes collectively culled from the scrapbooks of childhood when you first discovered books and you were involved in summer reading programs at the library downtown in the summer and you were wearing shorts and you could feel the air conditioner  rattle and hush and purr against the bare whiteness of your legs and that girl you harbored a hard-core crush on, the red headed girl with freckles who is taller than you who always sits in front of you with her back extremely straight and whose northern limbs elevate like an exclamatory mark every time she knows the answer in math class and who always colors between the lines and who somehow, perhaps by divine providence or happenstance, you saunter into her at the library at the check out counter while you are ferrying a pagoda of young adult tomes by CS Lewis and Franklin W. Dixon and various Newbery award lauding scholars and you become embarrassed because your mom is next to you and you are wearing really thick glasses that look like  abandon television sets which you just got a few weeks earlier and, even though everyone in your family wears glasses and your mom tells you that they make you look handsome you still refrain from looking at her directly but can tell from the semi-dampness of her hair that she just went swimming that morning and the stalk of her entire anatomy smells like chlorine dappled with hints of sunshine and you try not  to feel maladroit and intellectually deficient as your moms talk and you notice that she is checking out books at a higher Accelerated Reader caliber than the ones you are currently checking out and  you say goodbye really quickly while looking down as if to verify that your shoes are properly velcroed and at night, when you read with a flash light under the dome of your EMPIRE STRIKES BACK  sheets and try as hard as you can you cannot stop thinking about the red headed girl in the library check out line and how, every sentence you read still from time to time, moving your lips in warbled static, carries with it the fragrant scent of sunshine and chlorine.

  11. Wanna add something? Please do.
As a dangling coda (shhhh!!!) is that when Natashia first contacted me I didn’t open up her e-mail because she looks, in an almost Secret Sharer kinda way, almost exactly like my friend Shawn. About a block from where I live there are all of these seedy writer bars kinda ol’ school blue-collar Cannery Row type taverns you can still smoke in that look like something Eugene O’Neil might stumble out of after three days of consecutive imbibing with a draft of Ice Man Cometh tucked under his arm. One of these bars is called the Getaway and the first time I slipped inside Shawn was stationed behind the bar and when I ordered a beer she lifted her top as if playing a rendition of Simon says. Before she placed the sudsy libation in front of me she hiked up the frayed hem of her denim skirt like a flower in spring by the railroad tracks and after I told Shawn she just made a patron for life she asked me if I could do legal work for her. So when I first saw that Natashia had contacted me I refrained from opening the e-mail because I figured it was a Shawn-pseudonym soliciting funds.
 ...and oh, since you have a hard time making yer lover come, you should come to DIRTY LAUNDRY LIT  gala of joy on Oct 6th. The stage is going to explode into bouquets of light leaving the audience hedonistically hungover indeed…

--all questions interrogated by (push-cart prize princess) Diva Natashia Deon...whose fragrant poetic pulse inspires us all...

Monday, October 01, 2012

Oct 1st, 1998. Fourteen years ago t'day...

She sat on the lip of my bed as I played to her this song, her boots skimming up past the stalks of her kneecaps, sprouting up into the ashen stems of her thighs, a veiled skirted hem swaying in sensuous cadences inches below her torso, part of a self-contained outfit with black straps etching up past the topography her shoulder blades before sprinting down, criss-crossing her spine, X marking the spot of her deeply poetic heart from behind. She wore a vignette of what looked like a Betty Boop methed-out china doll on her shirt. She would later tell me that she chose that particular outfit because she realized then that, if we embraced, "The boots were staying on," that the goth-naughty -well-read- voodoo-doll-baby-catholic girl raiments were staying in place, taming the itching orchestrations of my lecherous finger tips by a simple assurance of her smile.

The night before we sat together in the poetry reading of Keith Ratzliffe. I had a beer and talked to the poet at the reception. We had the same creative writing class and although I was envious of her innate abilities to fuel the English language with an ardor and imagery that has seldom, I still fucking believe to this day, been matched (I was a green daschund cheeked Salieri to the magic of her Mozart) but every time I was shrouded in the presence of her breath I felt in awe.

Outside the entrance to her dorm I told her that I needed to tell her something important and when she smiled I told her that I thought she was gorgeous and then I picked her up and twirled her around and we embraced but still there was no kiss.

That afternoon I kidnapped her after our creative writing class. We dissipated into the carpet of leaves banking the sidewalks as we discussed writing and art and movies and life. Somehow we traipsed though the geometry of the west bluff and found ourselves on the doorsteps to the only house I have ever known. As I tried to kiss her lips folded into a dinner napkin and she handed me a missive and requested that I read it before the possibility of anything romantic exploded.

As I fell inside the orifice of her lips, riding the life boat of her tongue into the sweet oblivion and electric spontaneity of post adolescent amour. Both of our eyes closed at the same time. It was terse, spontaneous like a child pirouetting in front of a water fountain perching his lips at the rail of continuous fluid in search of wet nourishment.

I remember this song was played on that day, now exactly a decade andfour skittering years ago. For some reason I wanted this brilliant Penelope scribe to listen to the shattering chords of the opening hymn like an introit to something that might have been yet never was--the way a glass chandelier snapping into triangles of ice, realizing that this crystallize emotional Armageddon droping like an end of the world avalanche inside the nest of your chest was transpiring in both darkness and in light somehow above and below you both simultaneously waiting with the gestation of pregnant goddess carrying in her womb the magic and molecules of something incubating, something fighting, something waiting to peck into the planet and hatch and breathe.

I asked her if she liked the song and she said it was ok. She was a PJ harvey Courtney Love sorta lass. She wasn't into the moribund New Wave alternative anthems that had shepherded me like a maudlin metronome through the nihilistic teenage perils of youth.

We left my bedroom and walked back to campus that autumn, our hands forming one solitary bouquet of fingers--a tugging orb buoyed in the scent of a new found connection. She told me that today was her parents' wedding anniversary. We walked next to the house where she would live in a years time and where our rapport would end in heart-fraught-with-splinters-and-thorns fashion but for that moment, the plainsong of her smile pushing through the hyphen of her lips made me feel that the end of the world and the world to come had somehow lapsed without me knowing and that this sheet of time currently was disintegrating into a sea of random quarks and neurons and that all that existed was the sight of her eyes, the scent of her body and the newness found in the interior cusp of her warm palm squeezed tightly in mine.