Bukowski’s Bluebird August 16, 2016Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, poem, Poetry, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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Not only words in his mouth
but what look like feathers,
clamped tight in his teeth
like an anxious gambler’s cigarette.
Cat eyed and smiling at the bar,
he caught beauty perched on a stool
and swallowed it in one bite.
Now odd notes issue from his throat.
His words come out as songs.
Also published in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.
The Wild Wood April 6, 2016Posted by The Typist in Bayou Diaries, New Orleans, poem, Poetry, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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In a row of canted half-drowned oblong stones
the park ends & the wild begins again.
Stand back in awe of the anhinga’s wings
drying in the sun on the horizontal branches
of a half-drowned fallen oak root-bound
to a spot of shore hard as planted rock.
The plans of scheming shovel men are toppled
but the oak is propped up on ship stuff
insists on its green camouflage
in which the anhinga unfurls itself
& mocks the thought of park, the bread begging
white ducks & quarrelsome geese
which draw the crowds up to the edge
of the collapsed rocky landing & no farther.
The anhinga asks who is master
& the oak’s broad-fingered reflection answers.
Fragments April 2, 2016Posted by The Typist in poem, Poetry, The Narrative, The Spectrum, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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It is the fragment of a song
the symptomatic single verse
which best represents
mania stuck in its groove,
free from the ADD-inspired
of random light & bells
the silver balls of thought
ricocheting from bumper
to target & I bet you thought
it was all about needing
a chess timer for conversation.
in such a quiet moment,
alone with the tumbling
one might enumerate
the reasons for staying,
not unplugging the machine
first the children
(who frankly could use
the insurance for school)
and your lover, who says
she lives through
her fibromyalgia pain
only for you; & then
you are left wondering
if counting up why not
constitutes suicidal ideation?
This latter is the part
Jimi Hendrix’s mad guitar
doesn’t slow down to capture
in “Manic Depression,”
(A merman I should turn to be)”
gets the morbid rumination part
rather nicely and the sea,
the sea is straight ahead, straight up ahead
the beautiful moonlight highway
into the motherly shushing of the waves
but remember the children and &tc.,
so many bright, shining worries
left to worry as the manic burning sun
breaks the spell in a palette of beauty
& leaves you with a moment
of poetic clarity & a pencil
and the suddenly welcome
frenzy of energy &
the day begins again,
just you, your thoughts
& the tumbling tumbleweed.
As if February 16, 2016Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, Pedestrian I, poem, Poetry, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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it didn’t winter enough
for them to stop
& think to take
the time to
Periplumb August 14, 2015Posted by The Typist in poem, Poetry, The Journey, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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Full-moon Venice preriplumb
Vaparetto No 2. S. Marco:
Campari soda at Harry’s Bar (2)
linen slacks, lime sherbet shirt
my best hat (American, called Milano)
new Italian loafers (no socks)
squandering Euros for a moment
of history, of artificial beauty–
better leather, tan-complimenting
French nails, Italian movie glamour.
The anarchists are out
in the dark like rats:
case por tutti
non si ama liberi
Sheila can you dance like Mussolini?
but the grave carabinieri
who shared my boat,
a blocky, Homeric man
with a square beard,
hefty Berretta on his hip,
keeps their paint bombs
away from S. Marco.
Abandon Harry’s mirrors,
women dressed for Venice
but not Venice, tawdry
among the marble.
Vaporetto No. 2. S. Marco,
round out the periplumb.
One woman alone: brown hair,
glasses, simple slacks and blouse,
natural, a primal Italian beauty,
a noble line of face
fit to strike in metal
the color of her skin.
Glances at my age are flattering,
returning them feels unbecoming but
alone in full-moon Venice
is temptation monumental.
By happy accident I take a seat
in the bow across an aisle
wide as the Grand Canal.
No words. No room. No hope.
Her glances continue, presuming
some intent in my choice of seat.
She removes one shoe, stretches red toes
suggesting the continuation
of lithe curves tending toward
a narrow alley in some quiet sestieri
but no. I watch the passing palazzo.
She turns assertively
to look the other way.
My Venice adventure passes by,
Ca’ Desdemona dark in the moonlight.
My periblumb ends as it began
Crow’ Theology January 25, 2015Posted by The Typist in poem, Poetry, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
Tags: Crow, Ted Hughes
By Ted Hughes
Crow realized God loved him —
Otherwise, he would have dropped dead.
So that was proved.
Crow reclined, marvelling, on his heart-beat.
And he realized that God spoke Crow —
Just existing was His revelation.
Loved the stones and spoke stone?
They seemed to exist too.
And what spoke that strange silence
After his clamour of caws faded?
And what loved the shot-pellets
That dribbled from those strung up mummifying crows?
What spoke the silence of lead?
Crow realized there were two Gods —
One of them much bigger than the other
Loving his enemies
And having all the weapons.
My Warehouse Eyes May 26, 2012Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, odd, poem, Poetry, quotes, Toulouse Street.
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Sad-eyed lady of the lowlands
Where the sad-eyed prophet says that no man comes
My warehouse eyes, my Arabian drums
Should I leave them by your gate
Or, sad-eyed lady, should I wait?
His Dream. His Toy. His Rest. May 18, 2012Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, Fortin Street, poem, The Narrative, The Odd, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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mumble grumble mumble work mumble tired grumble mumble drink, Yes? mumble YES mumble hmmmmm… thwssk!shhhh . . .
. . . There ought to be a law against Henry.
—Mr. Bones: there is.
Fear of Falling February 23, 2011Posted by The Typist in poem, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
Tags: François Villon
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In my own country I am in a far-off land
I am strong but I have no force or power
I win all yet remain a loser
At break of day I say goodnight
When I lie down I have a great fear
(taken from Hunter S. Thompson’s Hell’s Angels)
Untitled blues May 22, 2010Posted by The Typist in books, New Orleans, NOLA, poem, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
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Laying on the couch slowly recovering from my daughter’s 3 a.m. senior prom breakfast at our house, reading Yusef Komunyakaa’s Neon Vernacular, and came across one of the best New Orleans poems I have ever read, on a topic lately on my mind, and just had to share:
after a photograph by Yevgeni Yevtuskenko
I catch myself trying
to look into the eyes
of the photo, at a black boy
behind a laughing white mask
he’s painted on. I
could’ve been that boy
Sure I could say
listen to a Buddy Bolden cornet
cry from one of those coffin-
shaped houses called
shotgun. We could
meet in Storyville,
famous for quadroons,
with drunks discussing God
around a honky-tonk piano.
We could pretend we can’t
see the kitchen help
under a cloud of steam.
Other lurid snow jobs:
night & day, the city
clothed in her see-through
French lace, as pigeons
coo like a beggar chorus
among makeshift studios
on wheels–Vieux Carre
belles having portraits painted
twenty years younger.
We could hand jiv
down on Bourbon & Conti
where young tap dancers hold
to their last steps,
mammy dolls frozen
in glass cages. The boy
locked inside your camera,
perhaps he’s lucky–
he knows how to steal
laughs in a place
where your skin
is your passport.
— Yusef Komunyakaa.
We who have nothing to lose April 18, 2010Posted by The Typist in 504, cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, NOLA, poem, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
Tags: Knopf, Langston Hughes, National Poetry Month, Treme
It’s National Poetry Month (you did know that, right?) and I have signed up again for Knopf’s Poem-A-Day email. I had just finished putting up a post on the Back Of Town Treme blog about the first second line after the Federal Flood, comparing a video of the actual event to David Simon’s portrayal. Then I opened the poem a day email and there were two short poems by Langston Hughes, including the one below.
Some things are just meant to happen a certain way. Or at least that’s the story the crow told me.
Who have nothing to lose
Must sing and dance
Before the riches
Of the world
Who have nothing to lose
Must laugh and dance
Lest our laughter
Yeah, you right.
A Child’s Christmas in Wales December 25, 2009Posted by The Typist in poem, Poetry, Toulouse Street, Xmas.
Tags: Child's Christmas in Wales, Dylan Thomas
A Child’s Christmas in Wales
One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.
All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky that was our street; and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in the snow and bring out whatever I can find. In goes my hand into that wool-white bell-tongued ball of holidays resting at the rim of the carol-singing sea, and out come Mrs. Prothero and the firemen.
It was on the afternoon of the Christmas Eve, and I was in Mrs. Prothero’s garden, waiting for cats, with her son Jim. It was snowing. It was always snowing at Christmas. December, in my memory, is white as Lapland, though there were no reindeers. But there were cats. Patient, cold and callous, our hands wrapped in socks, we waited to snowball the cats. Sleek and long as jaguars and horrible-whiskered, spitting and snarling, they would slink and sidle over the white back-garden walls, and the lynx-eyed hunters, Jim and I, fur-capped and moccasined trappers from Hudson Bay, off Mumbles Road, would hurl our deadly snowballs at the green of their eyes. The wise cats never appeared.
We were so still, Eskimo-footed arctic marksmen in the muffling silence of the eternal snows – eternal, ever since Wednesday – that we never heard Mrs. Prothero’s first cry from her igloo at the bottom of the garden. Or, if we heard it at all, it was, to us, like the far-off challenge of our enemy and prey, the neighbor’s polar cat. But soon the voice grew louder.
“Fire!” cried Mrs. Prothero, and she beat the dinner-gong.
And we ran down the garden, with the snowballs in our arms, toward the house; and smoke, indeed, was pouring out of the dining-room, and the gong was bombilating, and Mrs. Prothero was announcing ruin like a town crier in Pompeii. This was better than all the cats in Wales standing on the wall in a row. We bounded into the house, laden with snowballs, and stopped at the open door of the smoke-filled room.
Something was burning all right; perhaps it was Mr. Prothero, who always slept there after midday dinner with a newspaper over his face. But he was standing in the middle of the room, saying, “A fine Christmas!” and smacking at the smoke with a slipper.
“Call the fire brigade,” cried Mrs. Prothero as she beat the gong.
“There won’t be there,” said Mr. Prothero, “it’s Christmas.”
There was no fire to be seen, only clouds of smoke and Mr. Prothero standing in the middle of them, waving his slipper as though he were conducting.
“Do something,” he said. And we threw all our snowballs into the smoke – I think we missed Mr. Prothero – and ran out of the house to the telephone box.
“Let’s call the police as well,” Jim said. “And the ambulance.” “And Ernie Jenkins, he likes fires.”
But we only called the fire brigade, and soon the fire engine came and three tall men in helmets brought a hose into the house and Mr. Prothero got out just in time before they turned it on. Nobody could have had a noisier Christmas Eve. And when the firemen turned off the hose and were standing in the wet, smoky room, Jim’s Aunt, Miss. Prothero, came downstairs and peered in at them. Jim and I waited, very quietly, to hear what she would say to them. She said the right thing, always. She looked at the three tall firemen in their shining helmets, standing among the smoke and cinders and dissolving snowballs, and she said, “Would you like anything to read?”
Years and years ago, when I was a boy, when there were wolves in Wales, and birds the color of red-flannel petticoats whisked past the harp-shaped hills, when we sang and wallowed all night and day in caves that smelt like Sunday afternoons in damp front farmhouse parlors, and we chased, with the jawbones of deacons, the English and the bears, before the motor car, before the wheel, before the duchess-faced horse, when we rode the daft and happy hills bareback, it snowed and it snowed. But here a small boy says: “It snowed last year, too. I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea.”
“But that was not the same snow,” I say. “Our snow was not only shaken from white wash buckets down the sky, it came shawling out of the ground and swam and drifted out of the arms and hands and bodies of the trees; snow grew overnight on the roofs of the houses like a pure and grandfather moss, minutely -ivied the walls and settled on the postman, opening the gate, like a dumb, numb thunder-storm of white, torn Christmas cards.”
“Were there postmen then, too?”
“With sprinkling eyes and wind-cherried noses, on spread, frozen feet they crunched up to the doors and mittened on them manfully. But all that the children could hear was a ringing of bells.”
“You mean that the postman went rat-a-tat-tat and the doors rang?”
“I mean that the bells the children could hear were inside them.”
“I only hear thunder sometimes, never bells.”
“There were church bells, too.”
“No, no, no, in the bat-black, snow-white belfries, tugged by bishops and storks. And they rang their tidings over the bandaged town, over the frozen foam of the powder and ice-cream hills, over the crackling sea. It seemed that all the churches boomed for joy under my window; and the weathercocks crew for Christmas, on our fence.”
“Get back to the postmen”
“They were just ordinary postmen, found of walking and dogs and Christmas and the snow. They knocked on the doors with blue knuckles ….”
“Ours has got a black knocker….”
“And then they stood on the white Welcome mat in the little, drifted porches and huffed and puffed, making ghosts with their breath, and jogged from foot to foot like small boys wanting to go out.”
“And then the presents?”
“And then the Presents, after the Christmas box. And the cold postman, with a rose on his button-nose, tingled down the tea-tray-slithered run of the chilly glinting hill. He went in his ice-bound boots like a man on fishmonger’s slabs. “He wagged his bag like a frozen camel’s hump, dizzily turned the corner on one foot, and, by God, he was gone.”
“Get back to the Presents.”
“There were the Useful Presents: engulfing mufflers of the old coach days, and mittens made for giant sloths; zebra scarfs of a substance like silky gum that could be tug-o’-warred down to the galoshes; blinding tam-o’-shanters like patchwork tea cozies and bunny-suited busbies and balaclavas for victims of head-shrinking tribes; from aunts who always wore wool next to the skin there were mustached and rasping vests that made you wonder why the aunts had any skin left at all; and once I had a little crocheted nose bag from an aunt now, alas, no longer whinnying with us. And pictureless books in which small boys, though warned with quotations not to, would skate on Farmer Giles’ pond and did and drowned; and books that told me everything about the wasp, except why.”
“Go on the Useless Presents.”
“Bags of moist and many-colored jelly babies and a folded flag and a false nose and a tram-conductor’s cap and a machine that punched tickets and rang a bell; never a catapult; once, by mistake that no one could explain, a little hatchet; and a celluloid duck that made, when you pressed it, a most unducklike sound, a mewing moo that an ambitious cat might make who wished to be a cow; and a painting book in which I could make the grass, the trees, the sea and the animals any colour I pleased, and still the dazzling sky-blue sheep are grazing in the red field under the rainbow-billed and pea-green birds. Hardboileds, toffee, fudge and allsorts, crunches, cracknels, humbugs, glaciers, marzipan, and butterwelsh for the Welsh. And troops of bright tin soldiers who, if they could not fight, could always run. And Snakes-and-Families and Happy Ladders. And Easy Hobbi-Games for Little Engineers, complete with instructions. Oh, easy for Leonardo! And a whistle to make the dogs bark to wake up the old man next door to make him beat on the wall with his stick to shake our picture off the wall. And a packet of cigarettes: you put one in your mouth and you stood at the corner of the street and you waited for hours, in vain, for an old lady to scold you for smoking a cigarette, and then with a smirk you ate it. And then it was breakfast under the balloons.”
“Were there Uncles like in our house?”
“There are always Uncles at Christmas. The same Uncles. And on Christmas morning, with dog-disturbing whistle and sugar fags, I would scour the swatched town for the news of the little world, and find always a dead bird by the Post Office or by the white deserted swings; perhaps a robin, all but one of his fires out. Men and women wading or scooping back from chapel, with taproom noses and wind-bussed cheeks, all albinos, huddles their stiff black jarring feathers against the irreligious snow. Mistletoe hung from the gas brackets in all the front parlors; there was sherry and walnuts and bottled beer and crackers by the dessertspoons; and cats in their fur-abouts watched the fires; and the high-heaped fire spat, all ready for the chestnuts and the mulling pokers. Some few large men sat in the front parlors, without their collars, Uncles almost certainly, trying their new cigars, holding them out judiciously at arms’ length, returning them to their mouths, coughing, then holding them out again as though waiting for the explosion; and some few small aunts, not wanted in the kitchen, nor anywhere else for that matter, sat on the very edge of their chairs, poised and brittle, afraid to break, like faded cups and saucers.”
Not many those mornings trod the piling streets: an old man always, fawn-bowlered, yellow-gloved and, at this time of year, with spats of snow, would take his constitutional to the white bowling green and back, as he would take it wet or fire on Christmas Day or Doomsday; sometimes two hale young men, with big pipes blazing, no overcoats and wind blown scarfs, would trudge, unspeaking, down to the forlorn sea, to work up an appetite, to blow away the fumes, who knows, to walk into the waves until nothing of them was left but the two furling smoke clouds of their inextinguishable briars. Then I would be slap-dashing home, the gravy smell of the dinners of others, the bird smell, the brandy, the pudding and mince, coiling up to my nostrils, when out of a snow-clogged side lane would come a boy the spit of myself, with a pink-tipped cigarette and the violet past of a black eye, cocky as a bullfinch, leering all to himself.
I hated him on sight and sound, and would be about to put my dog whistle to my lips and blow him off the face of Christmas when suddenly he, with a violet wink, put his whistle to his lips and blew so stridently, so high, so exquisitely loud, that gobbling faces, their cheeks bulged with goose, would press against their tinsled windows, the whole length of the white echoing street. For dinner we had turkey and blazing pudding, and after dinner the Uncles sat in front of the fire, loosened all buttons, put their large moist hands over their watch chains, groaned a little and slept. Mothers, aunts and sisters scuttled to and fro, bearing tureens. Auntie Bessie, who had already been frightened, twice, by a clock-work mouse, whimpered at the sideboard and had some elderberry wine. The dog was sick. Auntie Dosie had to have three aspirins, but Auntie Hannah, who liked port, stood in the middle of the snowbound back yard, singing like a big-bosomed thrush. I would blow up balloons to see how big they would blow up to; and, when they burst, which they all did, the Uncles jumped and rumbled. In the rich and heavy afternoon, the Uncles breathing like dolphins and the snow descending, I would sit among festoons and Chinese lanterns and nibble dates and try to make a model man-o’-war, following the Instructions for Little Engineers, and produce what might be mistaken for a sea-going tramcar.
Or I would go out, my bright new boots squeaking, into the white world, on to the seaward hill, to call on Jim and Dan and Jack and to pad through the still streets, leaving huge footprints on the hidden pavements.
“I bet people will think there’s been hippos.”
“What would you do if you saw a hippo coming down our street?”
“I’d go like this, bang! I’d throw him over the railings and roll him down the hill and then I’d tickle him under the ear and he’d wag his tail.”
“What would you do if you saw two hippos?”
Iron-flanked and bellowing he-hippos clanked and battered through the scudding snow toward us as we passed Mr. Daniel’s house.
“Let’s post Mr. Daniel a snow-ball through his letter box.”
“Let’s write things in the snow.”
“Let’s write, ‘Mr. Daniel looks like a spaniel’ all over his lawn.”
Or we walked on the white shore. “Can the fishes see it’s snowing?”
The silent one-clouded heavens drifted on to the sea. Now we were snow-blind travelers lost on the north hills, and vast dewlapped dogs, with flasks round their necks, ambled and shambled up to us, baying “Excelsior.” We returned home through the poor streets where only a few children fumbled with bare red fingers in the wheel-rutted snow and cat-called after us, their voices fading away, as we trudged uphill, into the cries of the dock birds and the hooting of ships out in the whirling bay. And then, at tea the recovered Uncles would be jolly; and the ice cake loomed in the center of the table like a marble grave. Auntie Hannah laced her tea with rum, because it was only once a year.
Bring out the tall tales now that we told by the fire as the gaslight bubbled like a diver. Ghosts whooed like owls in the long nights when I dared not look over my shoulder; animals lurked in the cubbyhole under the stairs and the gas meter ticked. And I remember that we went singing carols once, when there wasn’t the shaving of a moon to light the flying streets. At the end of a long road was a drive that led to a large house, and we stumbled up the darkness of the drive that night, each one of us afraid, each one holding a stone in his hand in case, and all of us too brave to say a word. The wind through the trees made noises as of old and unpleasant and maybe webfooted men wheezing in caves. We reached the black bulk of the house. “What shall we give them? Hark the Herald?”
“No,” Jack said, “Good King Wencelas. I’ll count three.” One, two three, and we began to sing, our voices high and seemingly distant in the snow-felted darkness round the house that was occupied by nobody we knew. We stood close together, near the dark door. Good King Wencelas looked out On the Feast of Stephen … And then a small, dry voice, like the voice of someone who has not spoken for a long time, joined our singing: a small, dry, eggshell voice from the other side of the door: a small dry voice through the keyhole. And when we stopped running we were outside our house; the front room was lovely; balloons floated under the hot-water-bottle-gulping gas; everything was good again and shone over the town.
“Perhaps it was a ghost,” Jim said.
“Perhaps it was trolls,” Dan said, who was always reading.
“Let’s go in and see if there’s any jelly left,” Jack said. And we did that.
Always on Christmas night there was music. An uncle played the fiddle, a cousin sang “Cherry Ripe,” and another uncle sang “Drake’s Drum.” It was very warm in the little house. Auntie Hannah, who had got on to the parsnip wine, sang a song about Bleeding Hearts and Death, and then another in which she said her heart was like a Bird’s Nest; and then everybody laughed again; and then I went to bed. Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-colored snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steady falling night. I turned the gas down, I got into bed. I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept.
Agoraphonia December 2, 2009Posted by The Typist in poem, Poetry.
Tags: agoraphobia, Bernadette Mayer, lunch
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Trying to read Bernadette Mayer’s surrealist Agoraphobia in a loud & crowded food court is like a holiday in schizophrenia. I don’t recommend surrealism for lunch. Try the Mexican instead. Just when I think I have the sense of it her sentences run like rivulets after a wave back into the ocean of voices echoing off the walls & I can no more get the gist of it than I can explain the mathematics of fractals or tell the tamale from the enchilada under all this salsa queso. I think I’ll wait for some foreign translation I don’t understand, Russian perhaps & take that down to lunch & admire the Cyrillic arabesques twisting like rivers viewed from the air, the droning voices like the subtle roar of engines at high altitudes & imagine myself bound somewhere other than back to my desk: anywhere, just so it is out of this whorl.
Cross-posted from Poems Before Breakfast, which is mildy ironic as this is what I spent lunch thinking about.
Crow’s Fall December 2, 2009Posted by The Typist in poem, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
Tags: Crow, Ted Hughes
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So it’s Wednesday and I’ve nothing much to say so why not another Crow poem on One Eyed Jack‘s day.
Painting Raven Passion from The Sacred Crow Treasure Box
By Ted Hughes
When Crow was white he decided the sun was too white.
He decided it glared much too whitely.
He decided to attack it and defeat it.
He got his strength flush and in full glitter.
He clawed and fluffed his rage up.
He aimed his beak direct at the sun’s centre.
He laughed himself to the centre of himself
At his battle cry trees grew suddenly old,
But the sun brightened-
It brightened, and Crow returned charred black.
He opened his mouth but what came out was charred black.
“Up there,” he managed,
“Where white is black and black is white, I won.”
Odd Words Addendum November 9, 2009Posted by The Typist in books, literature, Odd Words, poem, Toulouse Street.
I don’t know how this slipped by mind last Thursday (or all week, really, and now I’m pretty sure I can’t go) but poet C.D. Wright will be reading at Newcomb College at 730 pm this evening (Monday, Nov. 9) in the Freeman Auditorium, Woldenberg Art Center. Wright is the 11th Florie Gale Arons Poet and will be teaching and giving workshops as well.
I had not heard of her until this was announced a few months back and I started Googling up some of her work online and damn but I am pissed that I am not going to be there.
Here’s a taste found online as an inducement to you to go:
There was a dance at the black school.
In the shot houses people were busy.
A woman washed her boy in a basin, sucking
a cube of ice to get the cool.
The sun drove a man in the ground like a stake.
Before his short breath climbed the kitchen’s steps
She skipped down the walk in a clean dress.
Bad meat on the counter. In the sky, broken glass.
When the local hit the trestle everything trembled —
The trees she blew out of, the shiver owl,
Lights next door — With her fast eye
She could see Floyd Little
Changing his shirt for the umpteenth time.
Copyright © C. D. Wright. From Ploughshares (Fall 1983)
Yeah, I think anybody down here should get that immediately. There’s more here.
Doin’ That Maple Leaf Rag October 25, 2009Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, poem, Poetry.
Tags: Maple Leaf Rag, Portals Press
John Travis of Portals Press kindly encouraged me to submit some work for the next Maple Leaf Rag after I read at the Sunday poetry serires, which I did and he promptly and kindly turned right around and accepted three poems.
So three more poems I had posted at poemsbeforebreakfast.wordpress.com go poof off the Internets until such time as they are published. (I don’t know the date for the fourth edition of the collection of poems by writers who have read at the Maple Leaf Bar Sunday poetry series. Sorry).
The three accepted poems were “Blinded By Sunrise”, “Red Against Blue” and “Lucky Harrahan” and until they come out in print you won’t find them on PBB. (If you’re really curious and you’re reading a blog I suspect you know you can find them on Google archives). Pretty soon all the good stuff will be gone from the my poetry site but that’s not such a bad thing.
I hope its not over, and good-bye October 6, 2009Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, poem, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
Tags: Everette Maddox, I hope its not over and good-by, Maple Leaf poetry series, Selected Poems of Everette Maddox, UNO Press
Everette Maddox: He was a mess, by everyone’s assessment including his own and so reads his memorial, a plaque in the patio of the Maple Street Bar where he hosted the long running poetry reading series he founded. He is a bit of an obsession here on Toulouse Street, where we frequently take him down from the shelf and longingly look at that copy of The Everette Maddox Songbook on Amazon for only $215.
Now the University of New Orleans Press is releasing I hope its not over, and good-by Selected Poems of Everette Maddox with a kick off party at the continuing poetry venue, 3 p.m. this Sunday at the Maple Leaf Bar in New Orleans.
Even if you don’t read poetry (and you’re probably not that sort, given that your here and the amount of other people’s work I post up here when I’m tongue-tied or bored), I can highly recommend this site unseen because Maddox’s work is, among other things, highly accessible. In his own poem “GIFT” he describes his writing as “whimsical little gifts” and I can’t think of a better description. It is by turns wry and dark and I think you will come away from reading it thinking as I do: damn, this is someone I wish I’d had a chance to have a drink and a long talk with.
Editor Ralph Adamo promises his selection from Maddox’s four books provides a “novel organization [which] also suggests new and surprising readings for those who know the work, or thought they did.” Now there’s an irresistible teaser, at least for the likes of me and maybe you, too since you’re here.
I never met the man. I was too busying trying to help my first wife drink herself to death at Betz Brown’s Abbey on Decatur Street when Maddox was at the top of his form and the bottom of his run to the end of the row of bottles the gods had allotted him. Maddox was something I discovered looking for every last word I could find to read on the subject of New Orleans to escape the bright lights, big city madness of Fargo, N.D. and I’ve been reading and rereading him every since.
In honor of the occasion of this book launch (that’s 3 p.m. Sunday at the Maple Leaf) here’s a poem that’s been rejected by some of the best regional journals in the south. If I get drunk enough mid-afternoon and there’s open mike, I might attempt to read it there but don’t count on it. I still don’t like the way the lines are laid out, and I’ve just cut out a middle section. If I can ever get the lines breaks just right, I’ll have to have another run at the reviews.
Blinded by Sunrise
For Everette Maddox
it’s not like we ever met
or anything, but
I think we’ve both been
blinded by sunrise
refracted in a bar glass.
It’s like this:
I’ve had just enough
of a taste of your words
that I’m haunted
like a man in love
who’s suddenly not sure where
his next drink’s coming from,
except–it’s not from her.
She’s up and left.
You being dead and all
I’m sorry to bother but
if you scare up a copy
of the Songbook in
some discount street-side box
I might happen to pass by,
I promise I’ll have them
bury me with a bottle so
I can repay the favor.
Pure Despair for the Savor of It September 30, 2009Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, poem, Poetry, The Narrative, Toulouse Street.
Tags: Everette Maddox, Malebolge
No, he’s not about to jump. He’s just some guy whose roommates preferred he smoke outside, catching some rays on the ledge outside the window of his third floor room in North Stadium at LSU sometime late in 1976. The Odd thing is they snapped this picture while he was likely doing precisely that, stepping out for a smoke, and ran it in the last edition of the Reveille for the year over an excerpt from the found journal of some candidate for taking the final’s week dive off of the high rise dorm (Miller Hall? I don’t remember; it was a long time ago).
I should have lawyered up and paid my way through private school on the proceeds (did they not teach Sullivan v. N.Y. Times at the J-School at LSU?) but instead I just saved the entertaining picture and moved on. Go with the flow, man. And yes I really was once that skinny and had that much hair. Like I said; it was a long time ago.
I don’t know why but when my biorhythms start the long plunge down the luge run into malebolge I don’t dive headfirst into escapist television (wow, a World’s Deadliest Chef marathon!) or read cheerful and uplifting stuff (anyone seen my bio of Helen Keller?) No, I tend to just ride the tide and dive right into some lovely Everette Maddox (he was a mess, by everyone’s assessment including his own) or perhaps some Charles Bukowski, pure despair for the savor of it like a cheap cigar.
Today’s inspirational verse is taken from Everette’s epistles to the Carrolltonians and is absolute poetic proof of the positive power of drinking alone. So as The Byrd’s All The Things plays at unneighborly volumes and the weeping pedal steel guitar sets up harmonic vibrations in the aluminum empties at my elbow, here’s a little something to cheer us all up.
By Everette Maddox
The cream stucco
of my ex-wife’s dentist’s office
across the street
Light green budding liveoaks
A sky-blue Volvo backing up
on this side from
behind the red white and blue
Dark figures in the front
of the dark bar
faces edged in TV baseball light
from Busch Stadium
And down at this end me
If I should die now
Oh if this moment
should indeed prove
to be the corner
I’ve spent thirty-five years
painting myself into
think only this of me
That one more cheap camera
against the world’s beauty.
Life, friends, is boring. July 18, 2009Posted by The Typist in literature, New Orleans, NOLA, Odds&Sods, poem, Poetry.
Tags: Dream Song 14, John Berryman
While I try to scrape something together that does not bore me (much less you, poor soul who’s wandered in here looking for the Doobie Brothers or something), I offer you this:
Dream Song 14
By John Berryman
Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so.
After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns,
we ourselves flash and yearn,
and moreover my mother told me as a boy
(repeatingly) “Ever to confess you’re bored
means you have no
Inner Resources.” I conclude now I have no
inner resources, because I am heavy bored.
Peoples bore me,
literature bores me, especially great literature,
Henry bores me, with his plights & gripes
as bad as Achilles,
who loves people and valiant art, which bores me.
And the tranquil hills, & gin, look like a drag
and somehow a dog
has taken itself & its tail considerably away
into the mountains or sea or sky, leaving
behind: me, wag.
The Lordly and Isolate Satyrs July 10, 2009Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, poem, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
Tags: Charles Olson, Jack Kerouac
Various recent events–some conversations, listening to a few local performance poets in person and their CDs–Moose Jackson in particular–put me in mind of the Beat angels, the people Kerouac described as “mad to live, made to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”.
And it lead by strange paths but for reasons self-apparent if you make the long read below to one of my favorite poems from many years back. (I grow afraid to take this book down, the 35 year old paperback’s glue coming undone). Those of us who read widely and we hope well, who still read poetry, who write a little: we desperately admire those who burn bright as tigers with their creative voice and stand a bit in awe of them.
This poem is not kind to its subjects, to the Admitted and their Schools, famous among themselves but as irrelevant as faery to the wide world, but it does not diminish them. It simply places then–a still life, fruit in a bowl in just such a light–into a world transformed by their presence. And if you don’t read poetry and know something of them then you walk through a world bereft of magic, as if visiting a museum blindfolded.
(This looses much of Olson’s formatting, but that can’t be helped here. You can read this in its proper format here.)
The Lordly and Isolate Satyrs
by Charles Olson
The lordly and isolate Satyrs—look at them come in
on the left side of the beach
like a motorcycle club! And the handsomest of them,
the one who has a woman, driving that snazzy
Wow, did you ever see even in a museum
such a collection of boddisatvahs, the way
they come up to their stop, each of them
as though it was a rudder
the way they have to sit above it
and come to a stop on it, the monumental solidity
of themselves, the Easter Island
they make of the beach, the Red-headed Men
These are the Androgynes,
the Fathers behind the father, the Great Halves
Or as that one was, inside his pants, the Yiddish poet
a vegetarian. Or another—all in his mouth—a snarl
of the Sources. Or the one I loved most, who once,
once only, let go the pain, the night he got drunk,
and I put him to bed, and he said, Bad blood.
Or the one who cracks and doesn’t know
that what he thinks are a thousand questions are suddenly
a thousand lumps thrown up where the cloaca
again has burst: one looks into the face and exactly as suddenly
it isn’t the large eyes and nose but the ridiculously small mouth
which you are looking down as one end of
—as the Snarled Man
is a monocyte.
Hail the ambiguous Fathers, and look closely
at them, they are the unadmitted, the club of Themselves,
weary riders, but who sit upon the landscape as the Great
Stones. And only have fun among themselves. They are
the lonely ones
Hail them, and watch out. The rest of us,
on the beach as we had previously known it, did not know
there was this left side. As they came riding in from the sea
—we did not notice them until they were already creating
the beach we had not known was there—but we assume
they came in from the sea. We assume that. We don’t know.
In any case the whole sea was now a hemisphere,
and our eyes like half a fly’s, we saw twice as much. Every-
thing opened, even if the newcomers just sat, didn’t,
for an instant, pay us any attention. We were as we had been,
in that respect. We were as usual, the children were being fed pop
and potato chips, and everyone was sprawled as people are
on a beach. Something had happened but the change
wasn’t at all evident. A few drops of rain
would have made more of a disturbance.
There we were. They, in occupation of the whole view
in front of us and off to the left where we were not used to look.
And we, watching them pant from their exertions, and talk to each other,
the one in the convertible the only one who seemed to be circulating
And he was dressed in magnificent clothes, and the woman with him
a dazzling blond, the new dye making her hair a delicious
streaked ash. She was as distant as the others. She sat in her flesh too.
These are our counterparts, the unknown ones.
They are here. We do not look upon them as invaders. Dimensionally
they are larger than we—all but the woman. But we are not suddenly
small. We are as we are. We don’t even move, on the beach.
It is a stasis. Across nothing at all we stare at them.
We can see what they are. They don’t notice us. They have merely
and suddenly moved in. They occupy our view. They are between us
and the ocean. And they have given us a whole new half of beach.
As of this moment, there is nothing else to report.
It is Easter Island transplanted to us. With the sun, and a warm
summer day, and sails out on the harbor they’re here, the Con-
temporaries. They have come in.
Except for the stirring of the leader, they are still
catching their breath. They are almost like scooters the way
they sit there, up a little, on their thing. It is as though
the extra effort of it tired them the most. Yet that just there
was where their weight and separateness—their immensities—
lay. Why they seem like boddisatvahs. The only thing one noticed
is the way their face breaks when they call across to each other.
Or actually speak quite quietly, not wasting breath. But the face
loses all containment, they are fifteen year old boys at the moment
they speak to each other. They are not gods. They are not even stone.
They are doubles. They are only Source. When they act like us
they go to pieces. One notices then that their skin
is only creased like red-neck farmers. And that they are all
freckled. The red-headed people have the hardest time
to possess themselves. Is it because they were over-
fired? Or why—even to then beautiful women—do the red ones
have only that half of the weight?
We look at them, and begin to know. We begin to see
who they are. We see why they are satyrs, and why one half
of the beach was unknown to us. And now that it is known,
now that the beach goes all the way to the headland we thought
we were huddling ourselves up against, it turns out it is the
same. It is beach. The Visitors—Resters—who, by being there,
made manifest what we had not known—that the beach fronted wholly
to the sea—have only done that, completed the beach.
The difference is
we are more on it. The beauty of the white of the sun’s light, the
blue the water is, and the sky, the movement on the painted lands-
cape, the boy-town the scene was, is now pierced with angels and
with fire. And winter’s ice shall be as brilliant in its time as
life truly is, as Nature is only the offerer, and it is we
who look to see what the beauty is.
These visitors, now stirring
to advance, to go on wherever they do go restlessly never completing
their tour, going off on their motorcycles, each alone except for
the handsome one, isolate huge creatures wearing down nothing as
they go, their huge third leg like carborundum, only the vault
of their being taking rest, the awkward boddhas
We stay. And watch them
gather themselves up. We have no feeling except love. They are not
ours. They are of another name. These are what the gods are. They
look like us. They are only in all parts larger. But the size is
only different. The difference is, they are not here, they are not
on this beach in this sun which, tomorrow, when we come to swim,
will be another summer day. They can’t talk to us. We have no desire
to stop them any more than, as they made their camp, only possibly
the woman in the convertible one might have wanted to be familiar
with. The leader was too much as they.
They go. And the day
Everette’s ghost of awe plays pachinko June 8, 2009Posted by The Typist in Everette Maddox, poem, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
As I usually do when I find that the site www.everettemaddox.org has gone down, I shoot off an email to the fellow who keeps it up and let him know. And when he gets it online again I celebrate by posting up one of Everette Maddox’s poems. This being Monday the idea of actually having to think through and write something, well, that transgresses the fine line between propriety and masochism.
Here’s one I like if only because the poet and I appear to both suffer the odd symptom of spending most of the night in REM sleep, and being woken all the time by our dreams. Dedra tells me this is a symptom of sleep deprivation and she more than anyone would know, but I like to think of it as part of the lucky curse of an over active imagination. All that stuff just rumbling around somewhere behind the daily grind of the counting house has to pop out somewhere, if not here.
I love the line “the ghost of awe” in POEM. It has a certain musical ring that I don’t have a technical term for (near assonance?) but which lights up my synapses like a digital pachinko, a vibrational affinity that sings as clearly as an easy example of assonance. (My favorite example of that being Bob Dylan’s “the ghost of electricity howls in the bones of her face” which I like partly because of its wonderful mix of assonance and the soft alliteration of “s” and soft “c” sounds. Just my personal favorite. There are better technical examples. Try googling “Sound and Sense” if you must have one).
So now I’ll just do my lazy online jig of joy (Cntrl-X! Alt and Tab! Cntrl-V! Cha-cha-cha!) and offer this up from the Everette Maddox Songbook. (It’s in my Amazon wish list for only two hundred and some odd dollars if you’re feeling guilty about missing my birthday, or just won the lottery and are thinking of ways to share the joy). Oh, and if you can identify the line in this post above this point that is a quote from Everette Maddox, I’ll buy you a scotch, from the well, at the Maple Leaf. Oh, and you’ll be entitled to give this post a more sensible title.
After everything quits,
happening. The phone
rings. A knock comes
at the door. Lightning
flashes across the bed
where you bend, looking
at the dictionary.
Asleep, you keep waking
from dreams. The surface
of your life keeps
being broken, less and less
frequently, at random.
Raindrops after a storm:
surprise: the ghost of awe.
Crow June 1, 2009Posted by The Typist in poem, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
Tags: Crow, Ted Hughes
If we seem obsessed a bit with crows of late here on Toulouse Street, well, a person has to be obsessed with something, just as stones are obsessed with their spot, plants with the day star, cats with their creeping prey and crow, well, Crow I think is obsessed with us: watching, askance and laughing.
Crow Blacker Than Ever
By Ted Hughes
When God, disgusted with man,
Turned towards heaven,
And man, disgusted with God,
Turned towards Eve,
Things looked like falling apart.
But Crow Crow
Crow nailed them together,
Nailing heaven and earth together-
So man cried, but with God’s voice.
And God bled, but with man’s blood.
Then heaven and earth creaked at the joint
Which became gangrenous and stank-
A horror beyond redemption.
The agony did not diminish.
Man could not be man nor God God.
Crying: “This is my Creation,”
Flying the black flag of himself.
PARK BENCH POEM May 20, 2009Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, NOLA, poem, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
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Busy and a bit cross-eyed and at a loss for words. Thankfully, others have come before us and found all the best ones. The rest of us just collect and rearrange them, like old homeless men shuffling in their carts to make room for one bright shining bottle among the crushed cans.
PARK BENCH POEM
By Everette Maddox
Mind if I put up
a park bench
in your mind?
I mean, if
the mind is a park,
why not have a poem in it?
After all, when
you get through
buying hotdogs &
getting a load
of the swans
some place to
sit down. It
ought to be fairly
the time a few
have worn it
smooth, & the paint
off – though
the original idea
was to advertise
my product: my own
green life, now
flaking into winter.
On another note, EveretteMaddox.org is down again. I have to hunt up that guy’s name (lost in the last hard drive crash) and remind him to check the site.
Find someone or something to cling to May 9, 2009Posted by The Typist in 504, 8-29, Bloggers, cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, NOLA, poem, Poetry, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
Tags: Ashley Morris, Kim Addonzio, Ray Shea, Storm Catechism
Purloined from today’s Poetry Daily (see the RSS feed down the gutter at right), something in this piece at the bottom of this post seems to speak to this day in New Orleans like an especially apt horoscope. The news that another one of us is leaving, torn away by the whirlwind of a bitter child custody dispute, reminds us that we defy the gods to be here and risk the price they can extract.
When I first moved here and through some contacts in the media was interviewed as a willing transplant to a disaster zone, I was asked if I knew of any other post-Federal Flood arrivals. I always recommended Ashley Morris and Ray Shea.
Ashley died last April. In the afterword to Carry Me Home, I recalled something from his funeral:
Three of us were written up by the Los Angeles Times: Ray Shea, Ashley Morris and I. Ashley died April 2, 2008 at the age of forty-four of a heart attack. As we listened to the Hot 8 Brass Band playing at the cemetery after wards, someone came up to me and said, “Now it’s just you and Ray.” It sounded not precisely like a curse, but certainly an unlucky thing to say in a cemetery in New Orleans….
Does that make me the last man standing? By no measure. NOLA is full of people who love this place madly, who by words or paint or music or food or costume or dance live out that madness in a very public way. Its not only false, its a vain conceit, and if one is even a bit superstitious perhaps a dangerous one. Not precisely a curse is what I wrote last year, but Ray’s departure still seems a reminder of the potential price of our defiant stance here on this uncertain ground.
May he, like Odysseus, return home.
The gods are rinsing their just-boiled pasta
in a colander, which is why
it is humid and fitfully raining
down here in the steel sink of mortal life.
Sometimes you can smell the truffle oil
and hear the ambrosia being knocked back,
sometimes you catch a drift
of laughter in that thunder crack: Zeus
knocking over his glass, spilling lightning
into a tree. The tree shears away from itself
and falls on a car, killing a high school girl.
Or maybe it just crashes down
on a few trash cans, and the next day
gets cut up and hauled away by the city.
Either way, hilarity. The gods are infinitely perfect
as is their divine mac and cheese.
Where does macaroni come from? Where does matter?
Why does the cat act autistic when you call her,
then bat a moth around for an hour, watching intently
as it drags its wings over the area rug?
The gods were here first, and they’re bigger.
They always were, and always will be
living it up in their father’s mansion.
You only crawled from the drain
a few millennia ago,
after inventing legs for yourself
so you could stand, inventing fists
in order to raise them and curse the heavens.
Do the gods see us?
Will the waters be rising soon?
The waters will be rising soon.
Find someone or something to cling to.
Vol. 12, No. 3
The Oppression of Blooming Magnolias April 17, 2009Posted by The Typist in books, literature, New Orleans, NOLA, poem, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
Tags: Lay Down in Darkness, William Styron
I find myself, at age 51 and on the urging of a close friend, reading William Styron’s Lay Down in Darkness for the first time since I was at U.N.O. 30 years ago. I find it a difficult slog in spite of the beautiful telling of the awful tale. It is not a good book for a middle aged man in a certain frame of mind to read, unless the keys to the liquor and gun cabinets have been handed over to a trusty retainer.
The verse below just sort of came out the other night when I put the book down to go out and smoke a cigarette, and sat thinking about it. It is not meant as an indictment of Southern literature (although that would be a fair reading) but as a part of the thoughts of someone who feels a bit to close to many of the characters, someone living in a city strangled in its southern heritage.
It is oddly in agreement with the sentiments of someone I took off after quite a while ago in another post. The author of the quote in that post sent me an email a while back taking issue with what I said, and I’ve never answered it. I think I will have to go hunt it down and give him his reply.
I have a blog post on the subject of “a city strangled in it’s southern heritage” rumbling around in the back of my head, planned for HumidCity.com, but it’s not ready yet and it’s French Quarter Fest weekend. So, for now, here is a visceral and entirely personal reaction to reading Styron’s novel.
The Oppression of Blooming Magnolias
On Reading Lay Down in Darkness in Middle Age
I am weary of Lear in his linen suit
and his Shantung straw, with his whiskey neat
and his southern drawl, with his lisping women.
Williams, Styron, Faulkner: I have studied, father,
all the chapters in the sacred scripture
of southern damnation, and remain unredeemed.
Let us bury them under the old willows
among the Confederate dead, lay down
their burden by the river and
Rise up, wide-eyed and gasping, born again.
Only then will the oppression
of blooming magnolias be lifted from us all.
Monday. Again. April 13, 2009Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, poem, Poetry.
Tags: Everette Maddox, The Future
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Why are holiday Mondays, even after a good night’s sleep, so damned gruesome? Back to the counting of dollars until we have no sense left, making them into the piles of Monday, Tuesday, and so on until we have topped off Friday’s stack and so purchased another bit of freedom.
So, with this bit of good advice below under your belt, just crack open Monday’s paper (not too far, just a peek; it’s awfully early yet) to remind yourself: it could be worse.
Oh hush up
right there on
plate, and you’ll
yell “Take it
But there won’t
— Everette Maddox
So you want to be a writer? March 7, 2009Posted by The Typist in 504, New Orleans, NOLA, poem, Poetry.
Tags: Charles Bukowski, So you want to be a writer?, writer's block
As part of our continuing effort here on Toulouse Street to keep something up on the blog while I lay on the couch conducting an extended study of Brownian Motion in dust motes, here’s another lazy cut-and-post: this one featuring Charles Bukowski on writing and inspiration (or the lack thereof).
so you want to be a writer?
by Charles Bukowski
if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
forget about it.
if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.
if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.
don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.
when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.
there is no other way.
and there never was.
The man with the beautiful eyes February 15, 2009Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, Dancing Bear, poem, Poetry.
Tags: Charles Bu
A long day, and too tired to write. Thankfully, others have come before us and found all the best words. The rest of us just collect and rearrange them, like old homeless men shuffling in their carts to make room for one bright shining bottle among the crushed cans.
Praise Song for the Day January 22, 2009Posted by The Typist in literature, poem, Poetry.
Tags: Elizabeth Alexander, inauguration, Obama, Praise Song for the Day
The following is a corrected transcript of the inaugural poem recited by Elizabeth Alexander. The original post from the NY Times was incomplete (see comments).
Praise Song for the Day
Praise Song for the Day
A Poem for Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration
Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other’s
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.
All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.
Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.
Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.
A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.
We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.
We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what’s on the other side.
I know there’s something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.
Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,
picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.
Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.
Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?
Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.
In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,
praise song for walking forward in that light.
Happy Damn New Year January 2, 2009Posted by The Typist in Everette Maddox, New Orleans, poem, Poetry.
I found today that www.everettemaddox.org is back online after a brief hiatus. Thank you Tom Woolf.
On account of this great occasion and the New Year, consider this:
Oh hush up
right there on
plate, and you’ll
yell “Take it
But there won’t
— Everette Maddox, from The Everette Maddox Song Book
Cemetery in Snow December 11, 2008Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, poem, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
Tags: cemetery, haiku, Snow
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New Orleans snow turns
old tombs white again. Later
rain repaints them gray
I spent yesterday in the chill drizzle photographing 231 tombs to collect names for a statistics project for my daughter. I wish I had been there when it snowed instead of trapped high up in the beige boxes of Place Sans Charm. The counting house gods also do not approve of posting to Poems Before Breakfast on company time, so this will go here.
Until this morning I didn’t know much of the history of St. Louis No. 3, except that it was built as a yellow fever cemetery. You can find a number of burials from 1878, presumably from the yellow fever epidemic of that year, along with quite a few from 1897 and 1905 when the fever also swept through the city
Google later confirmed that, yes, it is those Tujague’s and Galatoire’s who are buried at there, along with the members of many religious orders. There are the tombs of the Little Sisters of the Poor (who once begged door-to-door barefoot in New Orleans) and and the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, an order founded by St. Francis Cabrini.
Visited St. Leo’s masoleum but forgot to bring a cigar. Sorry, big guy.
Fireworks Suddenly July 21, 2008Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, Dancing Bear, poem, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
Tags: beach combers, destin, fireworks, flashlight people, Florida
They come out at night, the flashlight people
combing the tide line, lights swinging wildly
like some Shakespeare clown watch with a bottle.
What do they think to find out in the night
that would not wash up in the glare of day?
Fireworks suddenly burst over the sand
with a bang whoosh snap pop hiss of colors,
bursting metallic blossoms in the dark,
leaving a column of smoke, hesitant
then rushing past us like a crowd of ghosts.
A whale, my son turns and says as sudden
as the fireworks. What, I ask? A whale,
that’s what might wash up. Let’s go down and look.
Blink: one flock of lights vanish. Down there some
thing large and dark sings a watery blues.
Cross posted from Poems Before Breakfast. The flashlight people in Destin, Florida fascinate me. I don’t recall them from my trips here as a child, or on the beach in Rehoboth, Delaware.
Pardon me if I’m brief. I have to run out this morning and replace the landlady’s blender.
UNDER THE BANYAN TREE March 26, 2008Posted by The Typist in 504, cryptical envelopment, Dancing Bear, Everette Maddox, poem, Poetry, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
Tags: 504, banyan tree, Everette Maddox, literature, New Orleans, NOLA, poem, Poetry, Rutledge Youngblood
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Cheer up, @skooks. it’s always darkest just before the 16 ton weight drops from Terry Gilliam’s drawing table onto one’s head.
RUTLEDGE YOUNGBLOOD REFUSES TO LIE UNDER THE BANYAN TREE ANYMORE
By Everette Maddox
Rutledge has made up his mind
this is the last day he will lie
at length in his glinting hair
his eye fixed on a fig
his toes alive in the permissive mud.
Out beyond these roots in a pool
clear by day dark by night
purple eels jiggle:
that is another universe of course
but that is not where Rutledge lives
and neither is this.
Though the air is thick with bells
bizarre with flutes
Rutledge lies on his belly now
billowing like a child’s balloon
and it means nothing to him
that ultimates and ultimates buoy him up.
He will leave in the morning
by the ordinary door
and walk in the shrill gray streets
in the old soot and sunshine.
He has learned all he needed to know,
what he already knew, that he is happy.
Visit 13 Possums.
Young in New Orleans March 3, 2008Posted by The Typist in 504, cryptical envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, NOLA, poem, Poetry, quotes.
Tags: 504, Charles Bukowski, last night on earth poems, New Orleans, NOLA, poem, Poetry, young in new orleans
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starving there, sitting around the bars,
and at night walking the streets for
the moonlight always seemed fake
to me, maybe it was,
and in the French Quarter I watched
the horses and buggies going by,
everybody sitting high in the open
carriages, the black driver, and in
back the man and the woman,
usually young and always white.
and I was always white.
and hardly charmed by the
New Orleans was a place to
I could piss away my life,
except for the rats.
the rats in my dark small room
very much resented sharing it
they were large and fearless
and stared at me with eyes
women were beyond me.
they saw something
there was one waitress
a little older than
I, she rather smiled,
lingered when she
that was plenty for
me, that was
there was something about
that city, though
it didn’t let me feel guilty
that I had no feeling for the
things so many others
it let me alone.
sitting up in my bed
the llights out,
hearing the outside
lifting my cheap
bottle of wine,
letting the warmth of
as I heard the rats
moving about the
I preferred them
being crazy maybe
is not so bad
if you can be
New Orleans gave me
nobody ever called
me and the
and my youth,
even through the
it was a
of something not to
from: Last Night on Earth Poems, 1992
Copyright by Charles Bukowski.
It’s pretty widely distributed on the inter-tubes
but remains the properly of C Bukowski. I’m
just borrowing it.
Winter in New Orleans February 8, 2008Posted by The Typist in 504, cryptical envelopment, Dancing Bear, Debrisville, New Orleans, NOLA, poem, Poetry, Rebirth, Toulouse Street.
Tags: azelea, flower, New Orleans, NOLA, poem, Poetry, winter
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The small azalea, potted
on my porch, draped
in wilted clippings ripped
from neighbors nearly killed
by that frost insists
on budding, perhaps mourning
the red ribbon removed
on Twelfth Night. Bloom
I whisper and chase
these winter blues away.
Trust your story January 26, 2008Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, Dancing Bear, ghosts, New Orleans, NOLA, Odds&Sods, poem, Poetry, quotes, Remember, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
Tags: Borges, fantasy, Fragile Things, ghosts, Neil Gaiman, New Orleans, NOLA, quote, story, Toulouse Street
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Remember your name.
Do not lose hope–what you seek will be found.
Trust ghosts. Trust those that you have
helped to help you in return.
Trust your heart, and trust your story.
— Neil Gaimain, “Instructions”
I can’t for the life of me imagine why Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things is remaindered at Borders. It’s a fantastic collection of stories and some oddments (a set of very short pieces titled “Strange Little Girls” that were the liner notes for a Tori Amos recording, some poetry including the one quoted above) and is otherwise chock-a-block with fabulous short stories.
I fell into the modern/urban fantasy world via Charles de Lint, but the more I read of Gainman the more he is my favorite. I think the attraction is the shorter works. He is clearly, in stories like “The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch” or in “Diseasemaker’s Croup”, the clearest heir to Borges I have found, and I’m awfully fond of Borges.
Space is the Place January 18, 2008Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, Dancing Bear, Debrisville, home, Hurricane Katrina, New Orelans, New Orleans, NOLA, poem, Poetry, quotes, Rebirth, Remember, Sinn Fein, Sun Ra, Toulouse Street, Uncategorized, We Are Not OK.
Tags: New Orleans, NOLA, parade, poem, Poetry, Rebirth, space is the place, Sun Ra
“The first thing to do
is to consider time
officially as ended.
We work on the other side
— Sun Ra
I want to march like Sun-Ra
in glittering alien threads
into an Oakland pool-hall
and declare our intention to embark.
New Orleans, as ruined as the pyramids,
rising up majestic in the air
on howling trombone notes of joy
to launch another crescent in the sky.
The sun will strike us colorblind
once we’re beyond the atmosphere.
We’ll cast the last debris off over Kansas
and shower them a carnival of stars.
Together like stranded astronauts
who’ve exhausted the last of our air,
we’ll lift off the mask at last
and dare to breath together.
We’ll claim our place at last
in the ancient parade of zodiac
where Bayou Andromeda
brushes up against the Milky Way
Cross-posted from Poems Before Breakfast.
Bar Scotch January 3, 2008Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, Dancing Bear, Everette Maddox, ghosts, poem, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
Tags: 13possums, Bar Scotch, Everette Maddox, poem, Poetry, rare book
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Cover price of seven bucks, plus shipping. I hardly know what to say, except that I instructed my wife the other night that I am absolutely, positively to be buried with a bottle of scotch.
Thank you Mr. Maddox, wherever you are. I’ve already posted one of the Bar Scotch poems up to 13possums, where I hope to try to recapture some of what was lost when http://www.everettemaddox.org went dark. Look for more poems posted there as I get a minute to type instead of just read.
Farewell 2007 January 1, 2008Posted by The Typist in jim morrison, poem, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
Tags: Doors, jim morrison, music, New Year, New Years 2007, When the music's over
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Tomorrow is another year, or at least tomorrow morning is. Until then, this is Dancing Bear signing off for 2007, my first full year home, the year Godot did and did not come to New Orleans and it did not matter because we we clung to each other, happy to wait here until the end. Until our next regularly unscheduled transmission, remember this: Music is your only friend until the end:
Before I slip into the big sleep I want to hear the scream of the butterfly.
The Green Fuse December 28, 2007Posted by The Typist in Dylan Thomas, poem, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
Tags: Dylan Thomas, green man, jack of the woods, piper at the gates of dawn, poem, Poetry, The Force that thorugh the green fuse drive the flower
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And I am dumb to tell a weather’s wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.
Dylan Thomas, “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
It’s an animation, not an actual film but something someone has built from a still photograph plus the audio recording. It matters not.