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George Orwell

13 Jul

this essay from my bff george orwell has been on my mind for a few months. one guy i like talking about other doods i like & making me reconsider them, myself & you.

 

from: Inside the Whale Part I

by George Orwell, 1940

 

… When Tropic of Cancer was published the Italians were marching into Abyssinia and Hitler’s concentration camps were already bulging. The intellectual foci of the world were Rome, Moscow, and Berlin. It did not seem to be a moment at which a novel of outstanding value was likely to be written about American dead-beats cadging drinks in the Latin Quarter. Of course a novelist is not obliged to write directly about contemporary history, but a novelist who simply disregards the major public events of the moment is generally either a footler or a plain idiot. From a mere account of the subject matter of Tropic of Cancer most people would probably assume it to be no more than a bit of naughty-naughty left over from the twenties. Actually, nearly everyone who read it saw at once that it was nothing of the kind, but a very remarkable book. How or why remarkable? That question is never easy to answer.

 

… The truly remarkable thing about Ulysses, for instance, is the commonplaceness of its material. Of course there is much more in Ulysses than this, because Joyce is a kind of poet and also an elephantine pedant, but his real achievement has been to get the familiar on to paper. He dared — for it is a matter of daring just as much as of technique — to expose the imbecilities of the inner mind, and in doing so he discovered an America which was under everybody’s nose. Here is a whole world of stuff which you supposed to be of its nature incommunicable, and somebody has managed to communicate it. The effect is to break down, at any rate momentarily, the solitude in which the human being lives. When you read certain passages in Ulysses you feel that Joyce’s mind and your mind are one, that he knows all about you though he has never heard your name, that there some world outside time and space in which you and he are together. And though he does not resemble Joyce in other ways, there is a touch of this quality in Henry Miller. Not everywhere, because his work is very uneven, and sometimes, especially in Black Spring, tends to slide away into more verbiage or into the squashy universe of the surresalists. But read him for five pages, ten pages, and you feel the peculiar relief that comes not so much from understanding as from being understood… It is as though you could hear a voice speaking to you, a friendly American voice, with no humbug in it, no moral purpose, merely an implicit assumption that we are all alike. For the moment you have got away from the lies and simplifications, the stylized, marionette-like quality of ordinary fiction, even quite good fiction, and are dealing with the recognizable experiences of human beings

… The prose is astonishing, and in parts of Black Spring is even better. Unfortunately I cannot quote; unprintable words occur almost everywhere. But get hold of Tropic of Cancer, get hold of Black Spring and read especially the first hundred pages. They give you an idea of what can still be done, even at this late date, with English prose. In them, English is treated as a spoken language, but spoken without fear, i.e. without fear of rhetoric or of the unusual or poetical word. The adjective has come back, after its ten years’ exile. It is a flowing, swelling prose, a prose with rhythms in it, something quite different from the flat cautious statements and snack-bar dialects that are now in fashion.

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… What Miller has in common with Joyce is a willingness to mention the inane, squalid facts of everyday life. Putting aside differences of technique, the funeral scene in Ulysses, for instance, would fit into Tropic of Cancer; the whole chapter is a sort of confession, an exposé of the frightful inner callousness of the human being. But there the resemblance ends. As a novel, Tropic of Cancer is far inferior to Ulysses. Joyce is an artist, in a sense in which Miller is not and probably would not wish to be, and in any case he is attempting much more. He is exploring different states of consciousness, dream, reverie (the ‘bronze-by-gold’ chapter), drunkenness, etc., and dovetailing them all into a huge complex pattern, almost like a Victorian ‘plot’. Miller is simply a hard-boiled person talking about life, an ordinary American businessman with intellectual courage and a gift for words.

… As for the comparison with Voyage au bout de la unit… Both books, use unprintable words, both are in some sense autobiographical, but that is all. Voyage au beut de la nuit is a book-with-a-purpose, and its purpose is to protest against the horror and meaninglessness of modern life — actually, indeed, of life. It is a cry of unbearable disgust, a voice from the cesspool. Tropic of Cancer is almost exactly the opposite … So far from protesting, he is accepting. And the very word “acceptance” calls up his real affinity, another American, Walt Whitman.

… Millers outlook is deeply akin to that of Whitman, and neaarly everyone who has read him has remarked on this. Tropic of Cancer ends with an especially Whitmanesque passage, in which, after the lecheries, the swindles, the fights, the drinking bouts, and the imbecilities, he simply sits down and watches the Seine flowing past, in a sort of mystical acceptance of thing-as-it-is. Only, what is he accepting? In the first place, not America, but the ancient bone-heap of Europe, where every grain of soil has passed through innumerable human bodies. Secondly, not an epoch of expansion and liberty, but an epoch of fear, tyranny, and regimentation. To say ‘I accept’ in an age like our own is to say that you accept concentration camps, rubber truncheons. Hitler, Stalin, bombs, aeroplanes, tinned food, machine guns, putsches, purges, slogans, Bedaux belts, gas masks, submarines, spies, provocateurs, press censorship, secret prisons, aspirins, Hollywood films, and political murders.

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… But in general the attitude is ‘Let’s swallow it whole’. And hence the seeming preoccupation with indecency and with the dirty-handkerchief side of life. It is only seeming, for the truth is that ordinary everyday life consists far more largely of horrors than writers of fiction usually care to admit. Whitman himself ‘accepted’ a great deal that his contemporaries found unmentionable. For he is not only writing of the prairie, he also wanders through the city and notes the shattered skull of the suicide, the ‘grey sick faces of onanists’, etc.,etc. But unquestionably our own age, at any rate in Western Europe, is less healthy and less hopeful than the age in which Whitman was writing. Unlike Whitman, we live in a shrinking world. The “democratic vistas” have ended in barbed wire. There is less feeling of creation and growth, less and less emphasis on the cradle, endlessly rocking, more and more emphasis on the teapot, endlessly stewing. To accept civilization as it is practically means accepting decay. It has ceased to be a strenuous attitude and become a passive attitude — even “decadent”, if that word means anything.

But precisely because, in one sense, he is passive to experience. Miller is able to get nearer to the ordinary man than is possible to more purposive writers. For the ordinary man is also passive. Within a narrow circle (home life, and perhaps the trade union or local politics) he feels himself master of his fate, but against major events he is as helpless as against the elements. So far from endeavouring to influence the future, he simply lies down and lets things happen to him.

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Poetry Crush Valentine 2016, vol. 2

12 Feb

I’ve been meaning to mention some love-themed pieces that stuck with me this year: Jenny Zhang’s love note to her family,  Morgan Parker’s essay Love Poems are Dead and So Sad Today’s twitter.

Here is volume 2 of now 3 valentine issues.  This issue features work by heart-throbbers Kate Micucci, Bridget Talone, Amy Lawless, Rena J. Mosteirin, T Kira Madden, Timothy Liu,  Anchia Kinard, Sampson Starkweather, Paige Taggart, Brynne Rebele-Henry, Maria Garcia Teutsch, Kathleen Rooney, J. Hope Stein, Todd Colby & Joanna Penn Cooper.

Thanks for reading and passing the issues around. I have a crush on you.

j hope stein

 

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♥♥♥ Illustration by Kate Micucci

 

 

There’s No One On This Road But Us and the Night ♥♥♥ Rena Mosteirin

1
“There’s no one on this road but us and the night,” you say
the bugs are invisible and everywhere: summer.
Winter will naturally debug the kitchen
but tonight I need a drive.

You said your father would drive you around when you were sleepless,
together you’d cruise the night roads of Maine.
I imagine if you were sleeping when you got home, he carried you in,
used his foot to close the door. I imagine the weight of your little boy body

as he placed you in your bed. I believe an idea can have weight before words:
I was with you there, though I wasn’t a body, but a math.
Black and white headshots of old movie stars
somehow always look familiar. It must be an algorithm.

2
“It’s the clothing my soul wears,” I say, picking at my skin.
On television they are running races.
The code you are looking at is not the code that is running.
On television Gidget is surfing.

Change the station: an anesthetized alligator
goes into the bag like a body bag.
The options are: copy/distribute/modify:
or take me home/ in kind.

3
In our strange extinction history
we are on the chapter of death: in a rainforest there’s only that one pretty math:

and it goes into the bag like a body bag.
On television they are drowning.

The code you are looking at is not the code that is running.

I can see you sometimes as a little boy, there are ways you turn
and your boy-self flickers on. Hit save.

 

 

BROMANCE  ♥♥♥ Timothy Liu 

Our kisses won’t be posted
on facebook. Nothing to like

or comment on. Outside

the station at Lake and Clark
with the mercury dropping

in early winter dark, he leaned

to kiss me, his neck scarf
woven by a Peruvian woman

grazing my cheek, each kiss

different from whatever came
before. What if a co-worker

or worse, his wife, happened by—

what might we lose? To risk
what has been for what is

yet to come is the reason

why others have been willing
to take us down with boxers

at our heels. When he placed

his palms on my cheek bones
and said: Just let me do this
 
just this, I could feel my clock
 
being taken apart. When he took
his hands away, something

remained—his fingers drawing

slow ovals on my temples
as we rode in the back of a cab

to O’Hare. Home is where

the heart has given up on
mythical pursuits—well-oiled

kisses as prelude to mechanical

sex. Touch as a means toward
climax rather than for touch

itself. Doesn’t everyone know

real desire makes bad porn—
unscripted love no gawkers want

to follow? Let’s not perform

what’s passed down from father
to son—pre-cum out of cock slit

shocking our mouths awake.

 

You Are Sacred ♥♥♥ Amy Lawless

 

You are sacred on thermal currents
We are so small
We feel no wind
We are creeps
It was never our intention to be preyed upon by the doll watching through Jesus eyes
It was weird during the chanting when you called twice
I was chanting and having my hypothalamus massaged via the creation a specific sound with my whole body stimulating nerve growth factor
which is painful for me to read about
because it’s about love, really, which I want more of, am starving for
I have ethical issues with the creation of love artificially
I’m natural: in the mirror my headhair cascades
leaving no need for a hat
Desires not quenched, not pressed
I feel sacred and eternal
My body scrolls throughout the night
My heart ticks toward death, a song never too long
My lungs buzz like little suicide packet bombs worn as a vest,
killing me and sustaining me
a productive-yet-dying bug pronghorn felled over and in need
My core strength holds me up during dance parties
My angles are soft rolling hills
My ability, when not bored, to connect with others
in kitchens and back rooms
to cause a disruption in the prefrontal cortexes –laughing –
in the brains of my friends and in the brains of my non-friends:
People need more of this:
Fine fine fine. I’m not the kind of scientist that you are used to
but I’m the kind you need

 

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♥♥♥ Illustration by Kate Micucci 

 

 

 

 

Who Knows What Could Happen To Us ♥♥♥ T Kira Madden

My first kiss was with a girl named Patricia Posternack. We were at a theme park, just off a roller coaster, and the blood-thump-high hung between us like radioactive dust. In the checker-tiled bathroom we spun in circles, tipped our skulls between our knees, joking that we could unwind the dizzy that had spooled us up.

Patricia pulled me by the pinky into a bathroom stall. This wasn’t unusual, we liked to LaLaLa while the other peed, one flush, because we’re best friends that’s why, but what was unusual was Patricia leaning with her back against the stall door, her fingers lacing up behind my neck, red bangs sweat-smeared across her forehead. Her braces gleamed. Do you love me? she asked. I did, and said so. Like a sister? she asked, her chin down, eyes up. Well, sure.

And then I said I wanted to practice, for when the real time came. I said who knows, Patty. Who knows what could happen to us tonight. Who knows what could happen in the hotel, your parents sleeping, rolled over as dead whales in the Disney-pink bed. We could meet some boys in the lobby, I said. Wear our new tube-tops, bandana headbands, look drippy and older with our strawberry lip-smack shine.

She opened her mouth for mine, just like that. My mouth was not even close to her mouth yet. Her mouth just hung open, her eyes gently shut, the O of her choir face, and so I leaned right into it. It was sloppy and ripe. I felt like I could taste the colors of her orthodontic bands—teal, black, teal, black, teal, black, teal—like her mouth was my mouth and there was no reason for them ever to separate again.

What happened to you, Patricia Posternack? I think about you now, your scabbed knees, your high-soprano pitch. Your sister never left this town. She works in the local hospital, stitched up my index finger from a rusted up nail. She said, what ever happened to you girls that night in the hotel, when our parents couldn’t find you?

We did meet those boys. We did what we said we could do. I remember it all: just us kids out by the hotel pool, that aquamarine glow on your bare stomach, one of the boys leading you away as you let go of my hand, laughing, saying I’ll be right back.

 

< 3  ♥♥♥  Sampson Starkweather

Your love
the thickest spliff
let’s get
lifted
into this
Bliss’s slow
insurgence
A season
or war
In bloom
And you

 

Blizzard in Berlin ♥♥♥ Maria Garcia Teutsch

Everything’s sexy in Berlin.
Purple umbrella shot inside out

dropped by the door, a leather
dress balled up, the red wine

spill hidden, your boots
tucked beside a suitcase,

while my stilettos make
a W where I kicked them in
the air when I made a V.

You
framed by the whipped cream
of sheets, asleep—

and snow traveling outside
easterly and westerly simultaneously.

The lines on the street
scraped salted graveled.

Inhale this rooftop horizon
of jigsaw high-rises.

Dead Kaiser Wilhelm’s
broken steeple ushers out

the night and punctures
in light. This is Spring in Berlin:
snow, silver, a punch of gold.

I am shivering in my slip–
a black crow

lands on the windowsill,
my face caught in glass,

and then yours–kissing
each cheek, and lifting me there

in the corner window
above Ku’damm
for all to see, and I let you in—

no longer afraid of the darkness
within, and say the word
you wanna hear–

 

 

 

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♥♥♥ Illustration by Kate Micucci

 

 

 

From:  I Lob You ♥♥♥ J. Hope Stein

My great uncles were gypsies
They were so handsome
the villagers longed
to be robbed by them.

When I met you, you asked me
if I could think of any reason why
you shouldn’t marry her

& I said “no-you-are-perfect-for-each-other”
& you never invited me to the wedding –
But your brother did—

& I am in all your wedding photos
& to this day,
your relatives still talk about the snare
our hips drummed up
on the dance floor.

& I said, “Hey, nice wedding!”
& you said, “If you don’t leave now,
I’m going to kill you
or myself or both.”

& It was when the band played
the Doobie Brothers’ What a Fool Believes,
your brother’s mouth lobbing
the unsuccessful neckline of my dress,

where I wrote my first book—
a cross between
gypsy & disco.

 

 

 

Imminent Reprisal ♥♥♥ Paige Taggart

licking the back of a wizard’s mouth
I procure all sorts of data and lay my wet fat body on the tile
I do sit-ups and the pressure between the bridge of my back and ass make
a cupping sort of farting sound
I call in my boyfriend to watch
and witness the detail
he takes notes, later he might try this
pen to the pad of paper
sketching a drawing of minimal
exertion but lots of percussion
it’s a god send
we’re lucky to have radio silences
and wine to drink
we’re lucky to feel the kickbacks of gen-exers
it’s an utter disappointment
to complain all the time
(esp via text-message to distant friends)
I have relatives in high-places
and we prosper from them
till we really fuck up and the castles
dormant bricks fall upon us
life is something to lay under and take the pressure; otherwise, we’d all be juggalos

 

 

 

Les Amants ♥♥♥  Kathleen Rooney

If Loulou the Pomeranian had seen the master as a child, he’d have known him by his smell: lemon and nutmeg, and pepper – a dash. If Georgette had caught a flash of the master as a child – well, wait, she did, in the carousel-salon at the fair in Charleroi, where they fell, fell, fell in love: still but moving among the wild wooden horses. If they had seen each other years later – well, wait, they did, unguarded amid the blooms of the Brussels Botanic Gardens, where they fell, fell, fell again, never leaving each other’s side thenceforth unless forced.
When he was 14, the master’s mother, Régina, was tired of life and she fell, fell, fell into a river. No, Magritte’s mother killed herself. Jumped, jumped, jumped. When they fished her out, her nightdress clouded around her head like impenetrable mist. No dog Loulou’s met has ever committed suicide.

In this painting, the faces of the lovers are covered, but Loulou can tell: that’s Magritte and that’s Georgette. Are they suffocating? No, they’re going in for the motion picture move of the close-up kiss, despite being shrouded. Are they going to die? Why yes, eventually, but not right now.

The master insists his mother has nothing to do with any of this. Dismisses the theory of the Sambre River as the source. Beauty ought not be reduced to a personal neurosis. Loulou has heard the master say that love is above everything: “Love cannot be destroyed. I believe in its victory.” Loulou loves how these lovers are inside, two walls behind them, moulding over their shoulders and no window anywhere to give entry to the skies. Invisible but still too big to be disguised.

 

♥♥♥ poem by Anchia Kinard

when she misses me
the tears
only come
after teeth
after nails

grip-gasp
we made it
so good
handprints
painted on
the walls

 

Smoke From My Hair ♥♥♥ Rena J. Mosteirin

1

A song like the ghost of a mill girl, a song heaving and sick
and pregnant, a song like my grandfather worked

many lifetimes simultaneously so I would never have to hear.
A song that took away everything. That night

they came down from the hills to Havana,
and some sexy black woman was singing this song

into the boozy faces of tourists
and because of the song they could taste Havana

on her, they could smoke her hair
and call her home for the night, tell everyone
that they could see themselves living on her forever.
2

A song to change your life to,

to change the tone-tune-tenor of your night,
Cuba has put her song in your American ears

and as it grows up in my garden I realize
it’s always playing, underneath all the other musics: this song

is my mantra, my calm lake, my Cuba.
At Starbucks they play Guantanamera whenever they want,

but that is not the song, that is not the brush with life
that enables authenticity—if for one night only—this is the song we die to.

 

3

Cubans can come back from the dead when this song is playing,
and dance with their lovers again, groping through gardens at night,

 

making my cows turn into pregnant teenagers—it’s the song—
MTV knocked them up, all of them stupid and sexy

mooing the fields, all big dark eyes and so shy
as they tell you it’s ok if you want to touch their swollen bellies.

Shake it up baby. The song plays to the trees
and the cows dance and we realize we’re all stuck in the mud,

some more than others. I’ve got short legs
and I’m udders-deep, but under the mud the song has spilled roots,

roots like apple trees, thick and tall into the dense Earth,
and each apple of my days has a single white worm

in her dark heart of brown seeds, eating, always eating…
Start at the center, and I too am rooted in the basket of the Earth,

for it is the only way I can keep mooing,
settle in and let go—so shake it up baby now—the cows get down,

and I am keeping my head above ground:
hair on fire.

 

 

Clarion Hotel  ♥♥♥ Brynne Rebele-Henry

I did cocaine once, in the middle of Idaho
my throat felt like afterbirth
the hotel’s swimming pool
thighs/bruise/thrash/your hands/too-long-nails
then we took our clothes off in a fountain and the water was
spit-like, I thought the pennies could be barnacles against
my knees—I’m not very good at bending down
once I wanted to be someone
but then I just decided to waste my life
I’m sorry
your skin was chlorine, vodka-spit
and I’m always fucking and my exoskeleton is fragile at best
we took a night train to Berlin
once you bought a butterfly knife
it made a spreadsheet on your thighs
I like to imagine my own death
soon I will pull out my teeth and will
you say my name?

 

Elaborations on notable crushes from my 7th grade diary: ♥♥♥ Bridget Talone

 

James Caan as Sonny Corleone

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Sonny Corleone is an obvious choice for a crush. Sonny sometimes wore an undershirt and when he did you could see that he had great arms. He was often out of breath from fucking or from beating somebody up. He pinned a bridesmaid up against the wall for some quick standing sex at a family wedding, crushing her pink taffeta dress. He says “just a minute,” in a sort of sad, serious way, when someone knocks on the door and when he leaves she slides a little ways down the wall. When he’s shot to death on the Causeway, he opens his car door and falls out. His body lay there in crumpled heap, not unlike a dress.

 

24072al-pacino-postersAl Pacino as Michael Corleone

If Sonny Corleone’s appeal is obvious—athletic and superficial—his youngest brother Michael has more in common with the criminals Jean Genet writes of in the beginning of Our Lady of the Flowers. Genet says of the photos of men decorating his jail cell: “If I have nailed him to my wall, it was because, as I see it, he had the sacred sign of the monster at the corner of his mouth or at the angle of the eyelids.” I could see Genet liking Michael, with his broken cheekbone and they way it caused his nose to run. Genet would make a relic of the massive white handkerchief with which he dabbed at his nose. Michael’s broken cheekbone not only set his criminal life in motion, it fundamentally changed his relationship to women. He stopped being a citizen, a boyfriend. He went into hiding, a monster. All of his life, his motives and desires, seemed plunged into a dark room. With a monster’s patience, he waited to find women to bring into that dark with him. His eyes had adjusted to the room but that would never be true for anyone who would join him here.

 

John Cazale as Fredo Corleone

tumblr_inline_nurx19lNOI1ryh1c8_400Fredo’s crime was weakness. For his weakness, he was sent to live in the desert in Nevada. He died out on the water, in the weakly lapping waves. Fredo dressed flashy, like a flower no one wanted. At nightclubs in Havana and Las Vegas, Fredo cultivated a voyeuristic relationship to sex that was superfluous to the act itself; that rendered him descriptive. In this way he was unlike his brothers, who, moved within the field of sex as though they were a part of it. When I interrogate my younger self for adding him to my crush list, it’s easy to ascribe it to a juvenile confusion and general thirst for all men. Sometimes men’s mere proximity to each other is attractive. Let Fredo come over. But, by that logic, I should’ve included Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen, the adoptive brother of the Corleones. And I didn’t. (Why didn’t I? I hereby add Tom Hagen.) I talked to my sister about Fredo’s spot on this list and we briefly discussed the erotics of weakness. She proposed that what’s erotic is what happens to you as you make your way to that thing that seems smaller than you and agree to get down to its size somehow. It shows a penchant for complication, the knot in a thin fine chain you can’t work free. We know there’s death in fucking but some people keep it from you. They keep it from themselves, or they keep it for themselves and put you into some other relationship to it. With Fredo it would be different. He’s incapable of keeping anything at bay, and you both see it, see the little abysses opening up. I don’t think a person chooses Fredo knowing any of these things. I didn’t. But for me, choosing Fredo at all, even impulsively, predicted an almost hormonal attraction to description, to observation, a desire to grow eyes in the dark.

 

 

 

Quest for Consideration ♥♥♥  Todd Colby & Joanna Penn Cooper

My quest for consideration began on a damp
bed. I knew from the smell of the room that it was
a Saturday. Sometimes you want a drink first. Other
times you find yourself crawling through it
all stone cold sober. You or I, it’s all the same.
Did I ever mention The Rolling Stones in a poem?
Exile on Main Street is a lovely record. One of us is
Mick Jagger to the other’s Marianne Faithfull. I mean,
it’s possible Mick has had his heart really broken once or twice,
but you’d never know it from the way he moves his hips.

 

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♥♥♥ Illustration by Kate Micucci

 

Poetry Crush Valentine 2016, vol 1

8 Feb

Part 1 of the 2016 Poetry Crush Valentine Issue with contributing sweetpeas: Bianca Stone, Timothy Liu, Jennifer L. Knox, Steven Leyva, Joe Hall, Loren Erdrich, Joanna Penn Cooper, Brynne Rebele-Henry, Lauren Gordon, Vanessa Gabb, Cheryl Quimba & J. Hope Stein (me, duh). ♥♥♥ 

 

Be Mine

Be Mine

♥♥♥ Bianca Stone

 

 

 

 

Summer Fling

Alone enough tonight
to settle for

a beer, crack

open whatever we
can get our

hands on—high

summer sizzle on
a wraparound porch

where voices

of our unborn children
are reciting Rumi

inside an oak.

♥♥♥ Timothy Liu

 

 

Shock Collars

“Where are we going?” Sandy asked Todd.

We’re not going anywhere. You’re getting shot into space,” Todd said and clicked Sandy’s belt into the buckle.

Suddenly, she understood. All the hours he’d spent with her, his slavish attention. How happy he was when she pushed the button and the pellets came out. Way, way, way too happy. Sandy had often wondered if Todd was actually retarded.

She didn’t bother saying anything as he flipped the final switches.

“You’re a good dog,” he told her, crawling backwards through the hatch.

“Go to hell,” she said.

***

“I don’t feel that you love me—I don’t even feel that you really like me,” Mishka said, on the verge of tears.

Sandy kept her eyes glued to a page in Where the Red Fern Grows.

Mishka waited, then lost her shit, “This is exactly what I’m talking about! You’re too—what?—busy?—to talk to the only other person alive on this planet? You’re nicer to the spidercats than you are to me!”

Sandy raised one eye to the window. Yep, the spidercats were still out there, waiting patiently for her in the light emanating from the window of the rocketship. Once the dust storms died down a little, she’d go out and toss the gravity ball to them. They loved that. And gazing at their own faces reflected in her mirrored helmet.

♥♥♥ Jennifer L. Knox

 

 

 

Dinnerware

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♥♥♥ Loren Erdrich

 

Aubade for Nuit #1 

Sunrise burst in like an angry lover
packed its things in a trunk of fog
And wasn’t heard of again for days

You said “fuck off” fogging the apartment window
your thigh pristine with sweat instead of sunlight
and I thought that curse was for the eye

of heaven not the swaying drunks
gawking on the cobblestone streets below.
What darkness filled the night’s yawn

did not wholly give way as we closed lips
around wizened mugs of coffee. All the x’s
had fallen off the calendar, and we sat

naked on the kitchen floor, two days married
laughing at obtuse angles of our fumbled sex,
under your breath you said “how do teenagers

do it,” and I had no answer, so we laughed
again, and watched men now free of vomit
walk unwittingly into the sky’s discarded nightshirt.

♥♥♥ Steven Leyva

 

 

 

 

from Easy Poem

3.

To be a poet and alive
is to be this river, to drink your piss.
That is, I want to drink your piss and eat your shit—
To watch you grow
a curious tail of feces
on the bank of the banks

of the bank of the banks—
divided by revulsion, to lick up
the hot
—scalding—and swallow
sin-eater for a funeral for something so large

—from Samir Naqqash, Mizrahi novelist, “My exquisite wine
has turned to vinegar. My blood
to excrement.” You blurt out: “What do you want?”
“Steal!…Steal!
…Steal!”

Taking care for awhile, that’s what property is.
Poor are God’s friends,
a thought could be worse.
Free sample,
expensive meal.
So long as there is the productive sun
how much does this life weigh
baked from crumbs?

So there’s that, Beloved.
Here’s another shot
at a song:

♥♥♥ Joe Hall

 

 

 

 

For the Purposes of Accuracy  

Toward the end of couples therapy that day, she looked down at the empty water bottle she was holding and had the urge to beat herself on the forehead with it.  As Mark Rothko once said, “Silence is accurate.”  Or, in this case, beating yourself on the forehead with a water bottle is accurate.

As she walked out the door of the therapist’s office, she shook his hand and chuckled, a shrugging kind of chuckle, by which she meant, “Whelp.”  In the car on the way there, she’d heard a song called “Sad Jukebox.”  On the way back, she listened to a song called “Strange Victory” and chuckled again, then muttered, “I’m not crazy.  You’re crazy.”

♥♥♥ Joanna Penn Cooper

 

 

 

 

Buckingham 

In the sad ocean the men say that two girls and
Four legs and a red gape is nothing new
I would purge/I would use my rib for a necklace
Go to the canal and let the sun burn us open
We spit out watermelon seeds like little organs
I crush grapes with my molars and grind until everything splits open & the juice
Runs into both of our mouths and we rinse it out with tepid water and citrus seeds
I say make my body a building and light it on fire and we
Walk to church with your wings stuck across your back with Elmer’s glue
Feathers sticking between my teeth and the glitter we doused ourselves in like gasoline Sloughing into my eyes and lips like a million small planets

♥♥♥ Brynne Rebele-Henry

 

 

 

 

That Old Chestnut 

everywhere and everywhere unfettered
in our bank rolls, and this looks normal

the dog snores in sleep, peanut butter
and bread-mouthed squirrels are porched

even the grubs in our loamy tomatoes
are dreaming of legs, muscular calves

to run on         this home an ocean
a cemetery of shitting sparrows

this bruised cheek an island, handy
figment of peace, the baby a white flag

everywhere and everywhere marriage
to batten, to seal the shutters

♥♥♥ Lauren Gordon

 

 

 

Before you leave

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♥♥♥ Loren Erdrich

 

The Lady of Civilization

Don’t get married. A great love does not exist without protest,
my mother told me, have a beautiful run without law, with protest!

Organdyed from birth, with a godless belief in the system of things,
in search of some twin belief, a diadem in your mouth, you were named protest.

I named you and you went, taking extremities into you for decryption,
opening into wheat fields, your hands passing along without protest.

Everything that passes for voyage is us awash in injustice, mortal,
mortal, being young we bleed, loving nothing more than protest.

What could be more legitimate than an idea between us,
fatal or not, here or not, time must pass and so we must protest.

A love poem begins with hazard somehow, the concept of time, a cloud
calling itself gas, only that, and I calling that protest.

♥♥♥ Vanessa Gab

 

 

 

 

A Stone Etching: Vows 

I, Edmund Dantes, do
solemnly swear to
burn the world
in effigy. Small flames.

What else is just? Here, name
revenge after me.

Next I plan to skin skin
as in a sack of wine
a time to flay and tell
all goats, “Get over it”
this cold sore on the lips
of every guard with a tray of food.

the lock up stole
more than my future
children, my great love
of sea, my ability to sleep

in a bed, I must be on,
at all times
the bare floor,

alone – I was
alone again – again
condemned to silence
and no trial, nothing like a trial.

To live is not payback
enough

some magistrates need hurt
and memory will kill.
The Reaper’s greatest gift
Is remembering

to show up. I keep
showing up

promising the only escape I
know; I am sewing
a sack of canvas
for god. The future is black,

Mercedes, as night in your hair.

♥♥♥ Steven Leyva

 

 

 

 

Into The Next Blue

We live
improbably

in this time with drinking
glasses

with green sprouting oh
how I wanted

savage like an undertow
break-necked
coarse

you only
that

loosely limping

mine

remember
remember

this entreaty: on and on is

improbable but still
sure

♥♥♥ Cheryl Quimba

 

 

 

 

The Violence 

It was so quiet you could hear
an envelope being slid

under the door. Even without

tearing it open, you knew
it was over. The same way

you found an orange rind

that still had a whiff of citrus
to it and knew it was his

though he hadn’t stepped

into your kitchen for years.
His hunger had been all

too casual, ear to your chest

late at night, the neighbor’s
TV coming through the walls

with much excitement even if

the voices stayed muffled.
Back then you knew his cock

was the best thing between

you as he peeled off the shell
from your hard-boiled egg

morning after morning

in one complete spiral without
saying a word—the salt

on the table left untouched.

♥♥♥ Timothy Liu

 

 

 

From: I Lob You

Sometimes two countries touching are too much for their people. Sometimes we talk about love like two professionals dismantling a bomb. The last time Millie saw Demetri, her neck was red from kissing & Demetri brought two mittens to her face & said – “Hey, try some snow.” —You can travel all the way to I-don’t-care-where but it’s not going to change the way you feel about this: When Demetri’s mother saw his body lobbed over the fence from the explosion, she said – “That’s not him—that’s just the body of a dead cat”— When we first met you crawled up my overalls & up my braids & sat on my shoulder for years.

♥♥♥ J. Hope Stein

 

 

 

The Small Self is Not So Real After All

The human being is dumb most of the time.
Raving on his phone on the street
like escaped gods. Raving like a plastic bag
caught in a tree for decades. Raving
like an electrical wire at the starlings.
The grocery stores are holding back
a great wave of perpetual sadness.
The famine is never coming. And panic lies
just under the little disturbances at the checkout
along with the frightening experience
of realizing the people who cared for you
are completely insane.

♥♥♥ Bianca Stone

 

 

 

 

Bye 

Loren3

♥♥♥ Loren Erdrich

 

Zora Neale Hurston & new year

7 Jan

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“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”

Zora Neale Hurston

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Alice Notley & Ping-Pong

12 Oct

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The new issue of Ping-Pong & the cover is pumpkin soup! 
In the new issue of Ping-Pong there is a 20-page conversation between Alice Notley, Maria Garcia Teutsch & I which took place in a cafe in Paris earlier this year. In person I would describe Notley exactly as I experience her on the page: utterly beautiful and in touch with a great otherness. 
Below is a mini-excerpt.
JHS
With The Descent of Alette at what point in the process did you figure out the form it would take with the quotations and the breaths? Did that come early or late in the process?
 
Alice
That came early. At the point where I got the form, I could write it.
 
JHS
Did you write the first piece first?
 
Alice
No, I wrote it last. I wrote the first two last. I didn’t have a beginning for two years and then at the end I had a beginning. It sounds a little tiny bit different from the rest of the poem, but not very much.
 
JHS
It contains almost the whole book within it.

 

alice
Alice
Yeah, I think it’s a very epic-like beginning. I give you an entrée that is also kind of a synopsis. But it’s very terse.
 
JHS
It teaches you how you’re going to read the book and also has information in it but at the same time it’s beautifully lyrical. All of those elements are perfectly balanced.
 
So you always knew you were going to use the quotations?
 
Alice
Yes, because I had already done them in a couple of poems. I had used them before for “A Choral Effect.” Right away I realized The Descent of Alette was going to have a first person singular. And I was going to have a unified voice, not choral. But it suggests choral. But it’s not choral, the way those two poems from “Beginning with a Stain” are. And also “White Phosphorus,” which is a mixture of voices.

 

Because when I was writing those I was listening to Monteverdi, who wrote 16th century Italian choral music. I carried that with me for a year or two until I got to the point when I wrote Alette. Then I had the one voice, but I had the quotation marks, but then quotation marks changed into demarcating the measures, more than suggesting the voices or voice.
Read another mini-excerpt from this interview here on Maria Garcia Teutsch’s blog. The full interview is ONLY available in the new Ping-Pong.
Ping-Pong is the the official literary journal of the Henry Miller Library and this is my first issue as an official Poetry Editor. While I can’t help but miss having my poems in Ping-Pong, it has been a fantastic experience being poetry editor and working along with Poetry Editor Joanna Fuhrman, Prose Editor Shelley Marlow and under the magical leadership of Editor-in-Chief Maria Garcia Teutsch. And I got to work with great writers and talk with my hero Alice Notley. The absolute highlight of the issue for me occurred deep in our conversation with Notley, when she shared some details about her vast treasure chest of fascinating yet-to-be-published works– bringing sexy back to the phrase “unpublished manuscript.”
Also in this issue, poems by: Alice Notley, Ilya Kaminsky, Shane McCrae, Timothy Liu, Danielle Pafunda, Melissa Broder, Leigh Stein, Jennifer L. Knox, Kate Greenstreet, Lina Ramona Vitkauskas, Tyler Gobble &more.  Plus an Ales Steger story translated by Brian Henry & Urska Charney and a micro-anthology of Russian poems translated by Ilya Kaminsky & Katie Farris.

BUY THE ISSUE 

Poetry Crush (Clean Slate) Autumn Writing Playlist

14 Sep

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Fuck that summer. Let’s forget it even happened. Here is a Poetry Crush (clean slate) autumn writing playlist.

Gwendolyn Brooks – Beverly Hills, Chicago
Lana Del Rey – Ride
Foxygen – How Can You Really
The Strokes – One Way Trigger
ELEL – 40 Watt
Sun Kil Moon – I Know It’s Pathetic But That Was the Greatest Night of My Life
Maps – To the Sky
The Strokes – Chances
Lorde – Team
Zola Jesus – Dangerous Days
Cibo Matto – MFN 
Karen O – Ooo
Lana Del Rey – Fucked My Way Up To The Top
The National – Hard To Find
Gwendolyn Brooks – Kitchenette

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I’m always struck by the restraint in this poem by Gwendolyn Brooks. Instead of using divisive language about racial and economic injustice, which is easy to do and which most of us do… with messages that will only reach people who think exactly the way we do and box out people who don’t…. Brooks uses supreme clarity, restraint and craft to speak more powerfully and in ways that will never leave you.  She can reach any person of any lack or abundance of privilege in any time period walking down any street in the world.

Beverly Hills, Chicago

The dry brown coughing beneath their feet,
(Only a while, for the handyman is on his way)
These people walk their golden gardens.
We say ourselves fortunate to be driving by today.

That we may look at them, in their gardens where
The summer ripeness rots. But not raggedly.
Even the leaves fall down in lovelier patterns here.
And the refuse, the refuse is a neat brilliancy.

When they flow sweetly into their houses
With softness and slowness touched by that everlasting gold,
We know what they go to. To tea. But that does not mean
They will throw some little black dots into some water and add sugar and the juice of the
cheapest lemons that are sold,

While downstairs that woman’s vague phonograph bleats, “Knock me a kiss.”
And the living all to be made again in the sweatingest physical manner
Tomorrow….Not that anybody is saying that these people have no trouble.
Merely that it is trouble with a gold-flecked beautiful banner.

Nobody is saying that these people do not ultimately cease to be. And
Sometimes their passings are even more painful than ours.
It is just that so often they live till their hair is white.
They make excellent corpses, among the expensive flowers….

Nobody is furious. Nobody hates these people.
At least, nobody driving by in this car.
It is only natural, however, that it should occur to us
How much more fortunate they are than we are.

It is only natural that we should look and look
At their wood and brick and stone
And think, while a breath of pine blows,
How different these are from our own.

We do not want them to have less.
But it is only natural that we should think we have not enough.
We drive on, we drive on.
When we speak to each other our voices are a little gruff.

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The lyrics to this Sun Kil Moon song remind me of my long-ago teenage Hungarian summer boyfriend. Marcel, Marcel, where are you now?

I know it’s pathetic but that was the greatest night

It was backstage in Moscow late one night
We shared a cigarette, a kiss goodbye
Her name was Cayenne, so young and soft
Her hands trembled badly, her eyes trailed off
To bottles and objects around the room
My backup guitar, a tray of food

We didn’t have very much to say
She said that she’d come from some other place
A town called Troyskirt, maybe Troysworth
I was pretty distracted packing my stuff
But I did make a point to ask her to stay
But she said she had friends that she had to go see

Later that summer I picked up my mail
She sent me a letter with a touching detail
“I used up my minutes calling hotels
To find you that night but to no avail”
“I know it’s pathetic,” she continued to write,
“But that was the greatest night of my life.”

Fruitvale Station

19 Aug

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With the latest senseless police shooting, I can’t help but to think of the film Fruitvale Station.  This is my favorite film from 2013 (along with Her) and I’ve been meaning to write about it for months.

Fruitvale Station is a beautiful and truthful film about the last day in the life of Oscar Grant – a not so perfect guy, trying to be better – who was wrongfully shot and killed by a police officer at the Fruitvale Bart Station in Oakland, CA in front of a car-full of witnesses.   Michael B. Jordan (Vince from Friday Night Lights and the kid on The Wire) is unforgettable as Oscar, wow.  So is Octavia Spenser who plays Oscar’s mother and Melonie Diaz who plays Oscar’s girlfriend.

This is a film that brings awareness to the injustice of the police shooting of Oscar Grant, but it does so not by dividing good guys and bad guys.  It bypasses statistics, politics and this country’s history of racism and shows us what is at stake in closeup: a young mother and a young daughter and the young father who is trying to be the man his family needs him to be.  And the film, despite the horrible inevitable outcome of its main character, is delightful, funny and entertaining …  after all, he has no reason to think he is going to die that day.

Fruitvale Station released last year when Trayvon Martin was in the news and theaters were reported to be filled with sobs when the lights turned on at the end of the film.  I’ll spare you from telling you how much I cried, other than to say that when we hear these stories in the news we get angry and frustrated and are in  Phase I of our sadness.  Fruitvale Station begins the very deep mourning process which there is never time for because there is always another news story.  This is a humble and powerful film.  It should be mandatory viewing in schools, police academies and the homes of all humans.

One of the most striking images from Fruitvale Station is this image of Oscar aiming his cell phone camera at the police officer, knowing it is his only weapon.  One of the images of our time.  Still, it wasn’t enough to save his life.

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Also, this Michael Che piece on the Daily Show re: the shooting of Michael Brown made me laugh and cry in the same breath.  It’s devastatingly sad and funny and sad.  Awfully sad.

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/stewart-goes-after-fox-in-powerful-ferguson-monologue/#ooid=w1bnh2bzq3D2gsDBBPlRQ9Eoy97b_JPI