Poets and writers drink more intensely. Smoke more intensely. Worship God more intensely. Poets and writers fuck more intensely. Poets and writers give more willingly-- spilling the alphabetical marrow of their souls out into the albino sonogram of hope that is the page, hoping some stranger whom he or she has never before met turns to his crafted syllables in time of dire need and somehow finds solace, finds laughter finds a friend.
Thursday, May 09, 2013
Drinkin' beer, engendering art and reading poems in West Peoria w. Kyle Devlak...a hymn (hymen) to the West Peoria Bars...
Early in Zach Sievers ( a young Bradley student with a vision)cinematic vignette CLOSED
FRAME there is a riveting close up of coffee beans pendulously churning in a
roaster bin as if searching for the elusive God particle in a nuclear
accelerator at the end of time.
There is a really hot girl pensively pirouetting through the still-life
linoleum commerce of Haddad’s market place in West Peoria, plucking a Hallmark
tithe from an unassuming kiosk of loss. There are stuttered jump-cuts
key-signatured in waves of amplified static scratching against vinyl
is the guttural hiss from the chrome udder of the espresso machine evincing
plosive wisps ofenveloped time, the
serrated silence and truncated awkwardness of human interactions, the sadomasochistic
propensity to slice into the supine flesh of the (capital oh) ‘Other,’ to mix
your body fluids with them, to find yourself momentarily ensconced in the
gravity and sockets and friable ziggurats serving as the constricted tarp
pinned across the joints of the human anatomy like a makeshift sail, 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 with
every forbidden sip of the Sirens’ refrain. There is a really cool actor whose
name I will learn is Raj who stands sentinel-postured beguiled in poetic
paralysis at the cosmological scent of the creature standing in front of him,
tete-a-tete, as if counting the lapsed integers of metered blinks waiting for
his vision to explode in tandem plops while staring straight into the frissoned
bangs of the blinding sun.
There is also bleach, as the cinematic auteur
stipulated was his chemical muse, the portly papal white plastic container
tucked like a donor-awaiting liver in the intestinal substructure of kitchen
sinks. The sterility of bleach. The searing corrosiveness of various compound
chemicals mixed into an ablution that cleanses and burns. Bleach with its
olfactory-offensive aroma and alchemizing disinfectant swill. When I was 21 I
inadvertently washed a load of clothes mistaking a cup of chlorax for a
half-pint of dainty liquid detergent.The mixture of bleach and water transitioned my damp raiment into
archipelago-ridden patches of loss, turning my laundry into leprosy, corroded
pink and albino splotches gnawing into the fabric, the color semen makes when
mixed with blood and copper shelling’s microscopically assayed underthe neon glower of a blue light yawn.
Bleach with its blank-baptismal assurance to be
washed clean and somehow be born again.
The allotted ending of thefilm feels as if David Lynch decided to
redirect Blue Velvet visually supplantingersatz suburbia for the topography and tumult of an Hieronymus Bosh
patina. Poignant and emotionally vacuous and metaphysically distillated and
raw. The standing room
only crowd at Champs West basked in a stream of silence. The girl standing next
to me broke down into triangles of tears.
Preparatory to anything else (as Leopold Bloom once
poetically posited) poet Kyle de valk and I started out the evening with cursory
tours of the West Peoria bars. We ate Larry’s driftwood pizza at the Owl’s Nest
while hanging out with cool bartender Holly. When Kyle crashed with me last
year hardly a day went by when we weren’t plucking amber stems from buckets of
beer between intellectual banter at the Owls ‘Nest. For some reason we adopted
the habit of peeling off the label from previous pounded libations and then pinning
the sloughed label on the side of the aluminum bucket like wallpaper. Occasionally we espy a bucket with one of our pasted
PBR labels still adorning the cylindrical brim after seven months like a war
badge and feel like we have left our mark in this world.
I harbor a hardcore deference and loyalty to the
bars within crawling distance of my apartment.
There is something about the West Peoria bars (esp.
the Getaway and The ‘Nest) that feels like you are taking your Drivers’ Ed test
while wearing beer goggles skidding through the sawdust paragraphs of John
Steinbeck’s Cannery Row. Fraught with blue-collar brotherhood they used to be
called PODunk. Now everyone is christening them with the moniker of ‘Dive bars
while trying to sound like they are some authority on the matter. To me, the
five bars located above the hill in the geographical rhombus of Western,
Waverly and Rohmann will always be family.
After leaving the ‘Nest we stop in for a quick Milk
Stout at the Tartan Inn. When I first moved back to West Peoria four years ago
the Tartan Inn was my favorite watering-hole. It went downhill for a while, and
a lot of hard-drinkin’ hedonistic West Peoria locals vehemently refused to set
foot in there. Last autumn Tom Inman and Joe Hauk and a cool dude named Bradley
bought the place and literally transitioned it into the neighborhood bar of my
dreams (well, if they served an occasional cheeseburger with a side order of
beer battered onion rings I’d never go anywhere else) the sight of Guinness and
various Microbrews and IPA on draught makes me look at the tap as if it were
constructed out of a baroque-themed pipe organ festooned with dorm room
Christmas lights. I chugged several
Milk Stouts while Kyle marveled over the refurbished interior before we left
About three years ago I started the tradition of
always stopping at Mike’s Tap for beer prior to the poetry readings at Champs
West. Last week there was a picture ofowner Roy in the newspaper drinking with columnist Phil Luciano at
Hemingway’s in Bartonville and I immediately cut the picture out, trundled down
the street and taped it to the door of the establishment. The picture was
removed when I got there but our barkeep jovial Julie (who is a bit of a Ham
radio junkie and immediately inquired why the fire dept was at my house last
month) welcomed both Kyle and myself and
we drank several beers from the oak cask before heading off to the reading.
We had not had a reading in Champs West for almost a
year. For a while we moved the readings into Gavra Lynn’s formidable art show
gallery in the Twin towers plaza and reveled in a great deal of linguistic
spoken word glory. We also had some epic readings at the Speakeasy Art Gallery
in Pekin and a few domestic duds (thank you, Dust) at the (now comedy club)
Cornerstone building. Our last reading at Champs’ was Bloomsday 2011 (well, we
actually had a pretty successful reading Feb 2012 but I had to leave early and
go to work). Art Show closed and Gavra started tending bar three nights a week
at Champs and has moved much of her artwork into the backroom, sometimes
referring to it as Art Show II, while hosting acoustic hootenannies during the
week. Dedalus Hotspur who orchestrates the readings
left to teach college exposition and now he is back.
And somehow it felt like coming home again.
By the time we arrived at Champs the brachiating
limbs of many a late twenty-something’s (many clad in beanie stocking caps and
horned rimmed glasses) were already frothing across the coniferous/menthol
interior of the bar, engaging in philosophical-fueled discourses, clinking shot
glasses, blathering about books and literary aesthetics. Beer bottles alighting
like syncopated pistons amidst conversational cogs of trumpeting wit and
It was a hip
crowd and there was hunger. They wanted to view Zach’s movie. They wanted to
drink beer. They wanted to hear poems. They wanted to witness rivulets of
alphabetical warble guised as sound carbonate and fellate from the nozzle of
the microphone. They wanted sentences that bruise and leave narrative welts
across the inky flesh of the page. They wanted to be fucked visually in swift
cinematic jump-cuts and thrusts. They wanted the clitoris of their chest to be
chafed with joy.
It felt real good to hear Deadalus say, “Silence in the
Pews,” once again.
can describe the nearsighted
of the sub-atomic kingdom
Apiary den of molecules
Scuba-divingpast the coral
barrier of microscopic Quarks
theory resembling cuneiform on unblemished
strip pole plank scale—oomphalos
nowhere and everywhere
drizzles of consciousness
what we have perceived as chapters of\
is nothing more than thinly veiled
of saran wrap, Nikola Tesla’s lunch
everything is simultaneously occurring
will re-incarnate again and again ad infinitum.
masturbates to Jeopardy!
arpeggio, two fingers
in the collected sonnets of her loins
the question before the
syllable of the answer is revealed
Rabelasian blindfold occluding her sight
in a rococo bathtub
Brandenburg concerto chiming in the background.
mist of spring.
when we are making love how gravity
reverses itself in dyslexic applause
fractal of our limbs iterate in evolutionary flap
defy the stolid linearity of physics
and kneecaps parallax constellations
tight algorithmic recipes, square root of our
thighslaunching like sputnik, skirting
circumference of the over head ceiling fan
frenzied apollonian orchestration before crashing
quantum concavity of the cosmos
in the hush of her eyes.
And somehow then there was family. Syllables and
vowels flouncing off the walls in ricocheting orbs oflight. Will read poems I had never heard
before with gavel-sentencing vigor. Kyle (who always flagellates his forefinger
while reading his poems as if taming the vagaries of language) read the “I
can’t help when it happens,” poem that I adore. Shannon Moore (impeccable
scribe as she is) read. A cool writer from Bradley named Sam ripped up the floor
with his rhythm impending sonatas. The
actor Raj recited an arresting colloquy from Richard III (I meant to yell out
something about reading that they recently unearthed poor Richard’s skull
butI was three sheets to the spring wind
and all I could think of to exclaim was
And there was family. At the end of each individual
recitation the audience didn’t applaud. The audience chaotically erupted in
echoed plumes of incendiary howls.
privileged to introduce poetess Laura(telling
the audience that Petrarch’s muse was also named Laura ) making her debut, who
looked divine draped in this cherry-blossom oriental Kimono-thingie that I had
to inquire if she was performing aria’s from Madame Butterfly. Straddled on the
bench outside next to the NO SKATEBOARDING sign my new friend Krista read me poems from the lens of her cell-phone.
Normally when people read me poems from their cell phones it looks like they
are trying to scrutinize dates off an expired package of birth control pills, but
Krista has a very Victorian voice and alluring good wedding china countenance
and was able to launch emotions with romantic yearning and stirring resolve.
When Krista finished reading she pushed her glasses
up the Euclidean slope of her nose and into the drywall of her forehead and
then looked up.
I could not refrain from smilin’.
And it felt like family, sporadically dappled with
the aunts and uncles of academia. Dr. Blouch made a cameo appearance (it’s hard
for not to cry when I see Dr. Blouch, who in her splendiferous English 300
classes at BU always refers to each of her students’ as individual‘authors’). I felt honored to bask in the scholarly silhouette
of Dr. Greene. Dr. Greene teaches philosophy at Bradley and is the most
incisive intellectual orator I have ever heard. When I first read his book Bataille’s Wound
back in 1999 it was so beautiful that I had to read it standing up. Twice. Ironically I was looking for my autographed
copy of CIVILWARLAND IN BAD DECLINE earlier in the day and I stumbled across
Greene’s bulletin of pithy phenomenological aphorisms and when Dr. Greene
arrived Kyle and I just started heralding him with Husserelian hosanna’s about
how brilliant he is and he just sort of looked at us funny.
And how it felt like family, sitting around side table
drinking beer and chatting about the battered bohemian impulse to yearn. Meeting
fellow local artistic stewards Natalia and her cool beau. “Natalia Talk a la
francais to me!”
Sauntering into my new friend Micahel galletii.
Mike who is the formidable lyricist and lead singer
of the band The Dirty Gentlemen. I met Mike a few days earlier at Champs and
after he told me that his favorite author was my late mentor David Foster
Wallace we immediately left the bar, purchased an aluminum bouquet of PBR 16oz
cans from the liquor store and traipsed around West Peoria for an hour talking
about Post-modernism(I’ve met only one
other person in this area code who knows who William Gass is) between taking
swigs from our alcoholic scepters.A
couple of hours later we re-entered the bar in an hyperborean frenzied stated
and everyone looked at us as if we had just shot heroin.
No, we were talking about books.
This is why I endorse the reading at Champs West
which, along with what dulcet eye-lidded Natashia Deon is doing with Dirty
Laundry Lit in Hollywood, I find to be the best literary series in the country.
This is why I will stop into Champs several times during the week (even though
the beer selection sucks) and hang out with Gavra and visit Monica on Taco
Tuesday and stop in for one of Pam’s signature six-dollar lunches during the
week and (if I’m lucky) amble in late at night on a Tues. to smoke a cigar with
the legendary PJ Star editor the great John Armstrong.
This is why I endorse the readings—because the life
of an artist is often one of imposed solitude and loneliness and it’s the best
feeling in the world when stragglers from different artistic vocation gather in
the emerald coated cum-stain watering hole that is a local neighborhood tap to
foster each other’s creative calling and to grow. Because every year (even in
the bar that night) I come across a fellow artist who has cut their hair short
and jettisoned their dreams for a steady paycheck. Because putting your life on
hold for five years’ while you do nothing but bang out sentences and while
working menial jobs is just flat out taxing and hard. Because the worse feeling
on the scalp of this planet is when you feel compelled to spend hours
transcribing human ache into linguistic scratches when you’d much rather be
cuddling with the person who inveighed such emotional pain
Because every year I hear of a friend of
immeasurable literary talent who just couldn’t take it anymore and decided to
dash one final punctuation mark in the narrative of their lives by ending it.
Because writing is a lot like
putting your heart into an empty gin bottle and then tossing it out as far as
you possibly can into the ocean of cyberspace. You never know whose shore the
bottle is going to brush up on. You never know who's going to uncork the
capsule of your life's story. Never know who's going to be moved by it.
Because this is how art works.
Because the best feeling in the world is when
someone you don’t know comes up to you, squeezes your hand and tells you that
something you flippantly compose four, five(or shit) even nine years ago added something to their life and helped
them get through hard times.