We Circumvented The Remix

October 18, 2007

More and more it seems like the internet is getting closer to being the way I always wanted it to be. These are all things I wish I had written:

Fumbling with a Field Guide on the Back Arroyo Trail

I write ash in my notebook & think less of leaf-shape or branches
below me on the ridge than of acoustics, monosyllabics,
the need to evoke what remains, even if none of it corresponds
to this morning’s lit particulars: sage clumps & clustered indigo petals,

juniper & yucca blooms. Or what I’m guessing is cottonwood now.
I can name so little of this world & have been trying, hopelessly,
with a field guide again, to affix nouns to what’s within reach. For now
it’s even all I ask. To unfold my pocketknife, cut a single blade of grass,

to walk deeper into this silence & have it fill with words. Years ago,
during a performance at a church, I heard 4’33”,
a piece composed of nothing but silence that seemed to be only
a joke. The pianist bowed ceremoniously, then sat motionless,

poised, his fingers merely resting on the keys. A cough, mints
eased from cellophane. A snicker. Some wind-flung dirt.
And then the sounds from a practice room below rising up
through the floor: the opening notes of the Moonlight Sonata,

barely recognizable, barely played at all, hands cascading
in a bungling forte that lurched the melody a little further along
before the chords collapsed & whoever was playing pummeled the keys
& bellowed For Christ’s sake! Shit! & began again. Which made

the silence bearable. Which made the silence his & filled the room
with inaccuracies that gave us a reason for praise. Were it not
for these raven wings quickening the air, or the riverbed trickle
from yesterday’s storm when flash floods washed out whole roads,

this moment might approach silence too. This is only another walk
in which I try to learn words for whatever’s in my hand, in which
I’ll skim drawings of quackgrass & sprangletop & six bluestems
& recognize none of it & give up this gray-blue bit of scrub

&, despite today what I’d promised & planned, thread down the path
a few miles more where it dead-ends in a field of shot-up cars.
There, at least, amid the metal’s ruin & a sea of broken glass,
are the wild, indelible loops of graffiti, the retrievable,

effortless names: Oz Sucks Dick. Popper on the Loose. Dibz.
The Good Son. Sack D.
Many miles from here, trying to waste
an afternoon, I once found a deer collapsed near a lake — sleek,
immaculate, & unmoving except for its antlers, which swarmed

with orange-&-black-speckled butterflies that obliterated
the velvet beneath. Whatever word explains this,
I don’t want to know it yet. I only watched them open & fold
sporadically, or in what looked like unison at times,

& when even more flickered across the grasses & collected on its rack,
the deer became, because of their gathering, something else
entirely, & the insects became, too, as soundless & implausible
as the accents & breves that once covered a man’s book while he watched

from across a café. This is, at least, how it’s told. In Berkeley, in exile,
he glimpses a woman working, pen in hand, through a book of poems
he recognizes as his own. She seems almost frantic, scribbling
annotations & scanning each syllable, oblivious of the crowd

& plate-clatter around her, darkening everything she reads.
When finally he rises, & stands behind her, & watches her hand
now quicken across an elegy for his cousin, he sees the words,
as he put it, devoured. And knew that what he’d written — smoke,

a pair of trousers, quicklime, & clover
— was all wrong & would never last.

— Matt Donovan

People who are doing the kinds of things that I want there to be more of:

1) Adam Koford’s Laugh-Out-Loud Cats:



More here.

2) Jay Smooth’s Ill Doctrine (Dipset Anthem):

[podtech content=http://media1.podtech.net/media/2007/06/PID_011658/Podtech_illdoctrine_anthem.flv&postURL=http://www.podtech.net/home/3366/the-ill-doctrine-national-anthem &totalTime=79000&breadcrumb=00b4061ba7224d11997d12d0a1532a6f]

More here.

3) Brandon Bird


More here.

The Haunting of Archer Avenue

For the most part it’s all true:
the white dress and fade. Radio
static and the street slicked black

as cats. Ask me where the light goes
and I say dance halls, their music
dwindling to a note that silks along

the inner ear. But here, I’m
an understudy of dark, the slip
in the shadow that speaks

like a girl, but isn’t. Kiss me
and I taste like broken light bulbs.
Batteries draining in parking lots.

Doubt inhabits the space between cars,
the drag of headlights over grass
just thickening in the cold. Imagine,

if you will, the pitch between stoplights.
Kiss me and the landscape swerves left.

–Kristy Bowen

found here, more here.

Julia Bloch’s “Letters to Kelly Clarkson”:

You and I, one hundred years ago, could have been pissing in a bucket for the right to vote.

Sarah Smallwood’s “Eunice Cooper, 82, Says George Clooney Can Have Sex With Her If He Wants”:

We would sip our tea in the afternoon sun, laughing, as if we’d done it every evening for the last 50 years, and maybe I’d say something that made him remember a girl he once knew, their love, their passion, and he’d see that in me, oh yes, and his eyes, crinkled with smiles, would turn serious, and then he’d look at me hard and pick me up and lay me on the veranda and if Patricia called to tell me about her husband’s umpteenth liver surgery I would not pick up that phone because she should have left him years ago but there’s just no telling some people.

Rachel Loden’s “Miss October”:

I think Hef loves October best / Because although he cannot / Say so, he is this close / To death.

Should you revisit us,
Stay a little longer,
And get to know the place.
Experience hunger,
Madness, disease and war.
You heard about them, true,
The last time you came here;
It’s different having them.
And what about a go
At love, marriage, children?
All good, but bringing some
Risk of remorse and pain
And fear of an odd sort:
A sort one should, again,
Feel, not just hear about,
To be qualified as
A human-race expert.
On local life, we trust
The resident witness,
Not the royal tourist.

People have suffered worse
And more durable wrongs
Than you did on that cross
(I know–you won’t get me
Up on one of those things),
Without sure prospect of
Ascending good as new
On the third day, without
“I die, but man shall live”
As a nice cheering thought.
So, next time, come off it,
And get some service in,
Jack, long before you start
Laying down the old law:
If you still want to then.
Tell your dad that from me.

–Donald Davie

(Happy Easter, everyone!)

She juliets him from a window in Soho,
A “business girl” of twenty.
He is a florid businesman of fifty.
(Their business is soon done.)

He, of a bright young man the sensual ghost,
Still (in his mind) the gay seducer,
Takes no account of thinned and greying hair,
The red veins webbing a once-noble nose,
The bushy eyebrows, wrinkles by the ears,
Bad breath, the thickening corpulence,
The faded, bloodshot eye.

This is his dream: that he is still attractive.

She, of a fashionable bosom proud,
A hairstyle changing as the fashions change,
Has still the ageless charm of being young,
Fancies herself and knows that men are mugs.

Her dream: that she has foxed the bloody world.

When two illustions meet, let there not be a third
Of the gentle hypocrite reader prone to think
That he is wiser than these self-deceivers.

Such dreams are common. Readers have them too.