Sunday, February 19, 2017

Mark Young, Three Poems


Baron Münchausen, image by Daniel Y. Harris



A line from Willem de Kooning

Baron Münchausen looked
on & sought for symptoms
& synapses. At first glance an
absurdist point of view, but

those earlier drafts have now
been shown to have significant
economic benefits. Bayern München
opened with a performance of

Palestrina's famed two-part
motet, Sicut cervus. Then they
played a leading role in New
York's antislavery politics

during the early years of
the war. Ended up winning
everything there was to
win. They were so lifelike.


Robert Creeley enters the water

             some
of the time

the line
goes taut
o-
illogical

but I am
beaten to the
body & left
with a grab-
bag full

of glassy-eyed

head-
lines

“…the last day the sharks appeared.”

*

                                           painted my
                                                 self into
                                                     a cor-
                                                         ner


using the
first line of
an other's
poem as the
last line
of my own

now I'm in

open
water

out of breath / out of my depth

&

the
sharks real-
ly do appear


Analectical Chemistry

K’ung Tzu wrote that the
scrutiny of connective tissue,
when coerced, should only be
accepted if supporting evidence
such as large marine eels living
in the mother’s birth canal could
be found. It was a patriarchal
attitude, like so much of The

Analects. A kind of ancestor wor-
ship, extolling the Superior Man,
the fabled father of the people. Un-
fortunately for K’ung Tzu, the eels
whose presence he prized so greatly
were animists, & showed no filial
piety when they emerged one night
& conger lined up to eat him.


—Mark Young




Mark Young lives in a small town in North Queensland in Australia, & has been publishing poetry for almost sixty years. He is the author of forty books, primarily text poetry but also including speculative fiction, vispo, & art history. His work has been widely anthologized, & his essays & poetry translated into a number of languages. His most recent books are Mineral Terpsichore & Ley Lines, both from gradient books of Finland, & The Chorus of the Sphinxes, from Moria Books in Chicago.  A new collection, some more strange meteorites, is due out from Meritage & i.e. Press, California / New York, in early 2017.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Clayton Eshleman, A NOTE ON BUD POWELL & IMPROVISATION


 Birdland, NYC, 1957; © Francis Wolff, Mosaic Images, LLC 




A NOTE ON BUD POWELL & IMPROVISATION

I started glancing at Downbeat magazine, around 1951, when I was a sixteen years old & a student at Shortridge High School in Indianapolis, Indiana. While I had been taking piano lessons initially from a neighborhood piano teacher & later from the concert pianist Ozan March, I was only vaguely aware of the existence of jazz. I taped two quarters to a Downbeat order form & mailed it off for a 45 RPM recording with Lennie Tristano’s “I Surrender, Dear” on one side, & Bud Powell’s “Tea for Two” on the other.
  The simple armature of that tune engulfed in improvisational glory roared through my Presbyterian stasis, sinking a depth charge into my soul-to-be. I listened to it again and again, trying to grasp the difference between the lyric & what Powell was doing to it.  Somehow an idea vaguely made its way through: you don’t have to play someone else’s melody—you can improvise, make up your own tune!  WOW—really? You mean, I don’t have to be my parents? I don’t have to “play their melody” for the rest of my life?
   The alternative—being myself—was a stupendous enigma that took me another six years to begin to approach. I had to get completely bored with all the possibilities my given life had prepared me for (including playing the piano) before I could make a grab at something that challenged me to change my life.
   Later I realized that Powell had taken the trivial in music (as Art Tatum did with “I’ll See You in My Dreams”) and transformed it into an imaginative structure. William Carlos Williams, I noted, had done something similar in poetry. Alan Groves has written: “From 1947 to 1953 Powell was the supreme jazz pianist. These mature years produced some of the most startling piano ever recorded. Most of the best of his high-speed linear improvisations build toward a continuous driving climax. His lines would be based on a tune’s chordal structure but flowed independently of it.”
   While reading the Sunday newspaper Comics on the living-room floor was probably my first encounter, as a boy, with imagination, Powell was my first encounter, as an adolescent, with the force of artistic presence, and certainly the key figure involved in my becoming a poet.
   In my book The Gull Wall (1975) I wrote a poem which brooded about Powell’s tragic life and about what he had offered me in 1951 which, in the writing of the poem, cut all the way back to the neighborhood piano teacher lessons my mother started me on when I was 6:

          Bud Powell
          locked in his Paris bathroom so he wouldn’t wander.
          Sipping his lunch from the cat
          saucer on the floor.
          I see him curled there, nursing his litter,
          his great swollen dugs,
          his sleepy Buddha face
          looks down through the lotus pond,
          sees the damned, astral miles below,
          amongst them a little unmoving Clayton Jr.,
          placed by his mother on a bed of keys.
          Powell compassionately extended his tongue,
          licked my laid out senses.

Concerning the imagery in this poem: in 1954, Altevia Edwards, nicknamed Buttercup, became Powell’s common-law wife and manager. She & Powell lived in Paris from 1959 to 1962, during which time Bud’s alcoholism nearly killed him. During this period, Buttercup collected his earnings, held his passport & papers, & denied him any real degree of independence. I read somewhere that when Buttercup would leave her & Powell’s hotel room she would lock him into the bathroom & deposit what she thought of as his lunch in a dish on the floor. This story was the source of some of the imagery in the poem just quoted, which also included my improvisation on what I understood to be Powell’s pathetic situation as well as his extraordinary gift to me.
   In bebop, musical structures and performance events shift between fixed or unfixed aspects, sometimes occupying both simultaneously. For a pianist like Powell, rapid melodic lines in the right hand would be punctuated by irregularly spaced, dissonant chords in the left. Fixed aspects would include pre-existing harmonic sources, such as the chord progressions in “I Got Rhythm” whose original harmony became the basis for Powell’s “Bud’s Bubble,” his new improvised “melody”, so to speak.  Other examples of well-known original harmonies & new, improvised melodies are “Cherokee” as the basis for “Koko,” and “How High the Moon” for “Ornithology.”

          Rounding the gym track listening to WEMU.
          Suddenly Sonny Stitt entangles “Koko” with my mental vines.

          “Cherokee” lyrics, schlock “Indian romance,”
          pulled inside out by “Koko,” “Cherokee’s” vital ghost.

In the mid-1980s I wrote a sestina fantasia based on Powell’s eleven month hospitalization in 1947 in the Creedmore State Hospital where he was administered two series of electroshocks. It is said that he drew a keyboard on the wall of his cell so that he could mentally keep up his chops while incarcerated.  In my poem I used material from the Odyssey as my “original harmony,” & envisioned Powell as a kind of Tiresias in the Odyssey’s Book Eleven as my “new melody”. Since a concert grand with raised lid resembles (from the position of the audience seated before it) a headless bison, I had Powell in the poem attempting to imbibe blood-like sustenance from his sketched “bison keyboard.”

     THE BISON KEYBOARD
    
     Onto the keyboard of a concert grand Bud Powell shot his fingers
     Was he, elbows flexed, a kind of Tiresias drinking from a trench
        beheaded bison blood?
     Are we not, at birth, like bison, deposited on a terrestrial keyboard?
     Each depressed key makes an omen trench.
     Thus does the earth become grand
     & we suck, with Tiresias intensity, as did infant Powell, to prophesy.
     Powell is face to face with a bison apparition, a lacquered black
        ghost.
     Unlike Tiresias, he must draw, through a keyboard, directional sound,
     & even if he has a grand it is hardly a trench of warm blood.
     To be a seer is to re-enter the trench out of which we emerged.
     Powell made contact, but failed to drink.
     For a grand, in profile, lid propped, evokes a headless bison,
     whose chest cavity, the keyboard, releases sound Tiresias needed
        blood to utter.
     And Tiresias, who re-entered the essential trench, did guide
        Odysseus.
     At the keyboard, Powell clawed for blood, as if stabbing at a bison
        sacrifice.
     Thus he proposes a grand dilemma: the living, no matter how grand
        their C chords,
     lack the Tiresian recipe: to be all soul & bison vivid, a
        cunnilinctrice of the goddess trench.
     On his cell wall in Creedmore asylum, Powell is said to have
        sketched, in chalk, a keyboard.
     Powell, now the ghost of a grand, stared at this keyboard.
     “O how get home, Tiresias? How drink bison music in this hellish
        trench?”

The word “hybrid” comes from the Latin hybrid, defined as “the piglet resulting from the union of wild boar with tame sow.” This hybrida root stresses that the incongruity of the fusion derives not from different species but from the intermingling of wild & tame states. Translating these states into anthropological terms, it defines aspects of both shamans & witches whose identities & activities are comprised of wild & tame, or wilderness & cultural, experience. Translated into bebop terms, tame is fixed, wild is unfixed. To hybridize is to improvise, and the earliest examples of improvisation are to be found in the Upper Paleolithic cave images of southwestern France.  One of the most remarkable which I discovered while doing research on Upper Paleolithic Imagination in the Dordogne in the 1980s is to be found in the cave called Les Trois Freres (or, in English translation, The Three Brothers):  seated inside of a prancing, bison-headed man, is a young woman. This image is dated at around 14,000 years ago.
   Bebop, from this point of view, appears to be a marvelous 20th century extension of hybridization, the creator of imagination in folklore & the historic arts.  

  
   —Clayton Eshleman

Saturday, February 4, 2017

David Alpaugh, SEX AND THE DOUBLE-TITLE POEM


Fembot Fatale of the Hivemind, image by Daniel Y. Harris



SEX AND THE DOUBLE-TITLE POEM


KISSING…

Only 46% of our world cultures enjoy
this phenomenon—the majority bored
or repulsed by oral contact. In Europe,
one-percenters were the innovators, as
Kings and Queens and courtiers tried

Kissing. Commoners (always eager to ape
the antics of their oppressors) gave it a try;
found it good—and kissing became the fad.
In case you think I’m mad—I read this in
National Geographic! For that 54% I feel

SAD…


COPULATION…

The wren and the small gilded fly don’t need
royalty to urge them to go to ’t. Darwin 101!
Nature’s first mission, survival—not of you, or
me, but our species. America agrees with King
Lear that if we’re to thrive—we must promote
               
Copulation. Lear ordered England to teem with
bastards so he could stick it to Goneril & Regan.
But the more we cheer the orgy on—with Viagra,
Hip-Hop, Sex Education, In-Vitro-Fertilization,
the more we abhor & deplore—the steady rise in

POPULATION…


VIRGINS…

72. No more. No less. “Promise, large promise,”
Johnson says, “is the soul of an advertisement.”
At 16, hormones raging, the only female bodies
he’d seen were burkha’d from head to toe. How
provocative those eyes!—HUGE, that promise.

Virgins! In heaven! Unburkha’d! 72 of them!
So he strapped a vest to his own virgin body
& blew himself to bits (with 26 infidels: men,
women, children). 72 virgins? Caveat emptor!
Too late. This deal’s done. He didn’t even get

1…


ETHNICITY…

Isn’t just a mankind thing. Take pigeons: 38 in
a coop in Plainfield, New Jersey (circa, 1952).
Homers, Trumpeters, Jacobins, Fantails, Kings.
They made love; sat on eggs; raised their kids,
multi-culturally—with deep respect for birdly

Ethnicity. I never saw a Jacobin slight a King—
a Homer cluck a slur at a Fantail. Still, when it
came to mating, Kings only had eyes for Kings;
Jacobins—for Jacobins. So much for kumbaya
elation. Pigeons don’t give a flying shit for—

ASSIMILATION…


PUTTANESCA…

Not created by 5-star chefs, but 50-lira whores
whose mama mias taught them that the way to
a man’s pants is through his nose. That aroma
raised the eyes of many a hungry Napolitano—
to 2nd story windows, offering 2 for 1 delights. 

Puttanesca. Olives, garlic, anchovies, capers.
Perfect recipe for busy working girls bent on
cooking up a cheap but savory dish. Easy to
put together on the fly. Still sooo delectable!
Yet, I suspect, even tastier, before it became

RESPECTABLE…


SHOULD’A…

Lays guilt trips on whatever goes awry—
Should’a done this... Should’a done that…
(always followed by—Sorry, it’s too late).
Swears to be Angel of teachable moments.
(Don’t be fooled. Should’a’s full of hate.)                

Should’a’s relentless; will rat-tat-tat away
till you shout, why didn’ t I make him wear
a condom? wish I never married the creep.
Only way to end the bullying—play the IF
card. If I could’a, you know damn well, I

WOULD’A…



—David Alpaugh



Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Mike Ferguson, excerpts from Novel Finds


from Heart of Darkness, Snake, image by Mike Ferguson 



excerpts from Novel Finds 


Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

Ours

Seems to me that
the small miles of the sea
are low buried,
ours.

The distant sea
is a leaden line beyond,
intersected with dark,
raw,

bleak places
feeding on beginnings
overgrown with
shivers.

My impression is
our sea
shivers too,
growing afraid.


Pork (Not Alone) With Gravy

There’s a subject!
There’s a subject!

Gravy!

(spooned onto my plate)
in parenthesis

A discourse!
A homily!

Gravy!

(a pint onto my plate}
in parenthesis

A Sermon!
Hypothetical!

Gravy!

(pork gravy on my plate)
in parenthesis

Subject!
Text!

Gravy!

(plenty of gravy today)
in parenthesis:

A Carvery
for Ray.


Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson

Long Tongue

“Hm,” he said.

“Well,” I sighed.

“It’s not easy to describe. I really am ashamed of my long tongue.”

“Yes, I think it is,” I said.

I want to ask, but with weight of consideration and obviously sullenness in the bargain I can’t.

“You see,” he said.

“Must be deformed?” I inquired.

“No, sir,” he presently resumed, “something displeasing. I use it I know.”

“What sort of man…..”

“I am of the other party.”

“You might have warned me. Detestable.”

He was an extraordinary looking man. Pedantically exact. A down-right long tongue. I saw him use it.


Possibility

This dreadful
shipwreck,
the duality
of a man

Dreadful man
in this
duality of
a shipwreck

I told myself
exposed to
discoveries
I had learned
both truths

Exposed to
learned truths
I myself
told both
discoveries
Struggling
Pleasure
Together
Evil
Knowledge

Knowledge
Evil
Together
Pleasure
Struggling

Struggling with
evil,
the pleasure
of knowledge

The pleasure of
evil knowledge
with
struggling

To dwell in
the duality
I pass beyond the
point of
primitive possibility

I pass the
possibility
of beyond duality
to dwell in the
primitive point


The Hound of the Baskervilles – Arthur Conan Doyle

Inferences

His calling-card
a mischievous smile

broad enough
for a mastiff,

too broad
in my opinion.

I said,
My dear fellow

you have a
dog’s jaw.

Astutely observed,
he said,

dog teeth very
plainly visible.

My inferences
were unambitious.


Surprise Interrogation

Watson: What is it?
Holmes: A terrible sound.
Watson: How do you know?
Holmes: The growling ground.
Watson: Where did you hear it?
Holmes: Inside the hound.
Watson: When were you there?
Holmes: Once he was found.
Watson: Why did you listen?
Holmes: I was duty bound.



from Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad


Horror

The expression

The horror!

is more than a breath.

If a whisper,

The horror!

cried in ruthless surrender.

The veil of a hopeless

The horror!

is a hopeless desire.

Did he?
Did he?

Oh….


—Mike Ferguson


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Ed Coletti, Dark Drama Darkening


Be Here Now, image by Ed Coletti 



Dark Drama Darkening
                                                (in the key of D)

Drugged disillusioned daylight departs.
Dismal dingy duskiness descends,
                   dawning’s downward direction.
Dude-demon dismantling decapitates
                                                          diffuse departments.
Dionysus drinks desiccates delight,
                                                      Demon dragon dresses.
Demigod despoils decency defames Demeter*
                                                                 disciplines Dinlas.*

Dolorous drumming dunderheads
                           “Drumpf!”
Doorbells ding dung ding dung Don
Donut-dunking dimwits dragging
Democracy’s demise
                      dangling dazed dreamers
Daniela Dominguez
                                                Diego Delmar
down doleful dens dachshund-desperate
Dogcatcher dingo-dumb dopes delighted
departmentally dangerous dentally drilling
doing damage daily draining dreams
                                             dry dribble dregs.

Dearly defiant dudgeon don’t depart drifting.
Drugged daft disillusioned disinterested
Deutschland darkhorse dazzles Darwin’s dog,
Dodo Deuteronomy declares destruction,
Disunited Districts of Dystopia
                                                            deride democracy.

Decartes’ Discourse delineates doubt
debunks decorum, deifies defiance.
Donald Drumpf dollop of dandruff
Dean of disorder Dunce of DunScotus
Despoiler of Darwin, Dewey’s dead dualism
Deferred decentering Derridan deconstruction
Destabilizing disestablisher dismantling,
Daresay dastardly darkhorse
draft-dodging, dress-debrider
deflowers decency
                                        demands diaspora debauches
decent debutante daughters
                                                  disfigures and denudes,

Deprives derelicts Doubles-down diabolically
deluding deplorables
denies decay damage destruction,
devours Deucalion* – Deluge’s descendent,
desecrates  dictionaries, digests daffodils.

Dragon-Doge, Deutschland’s drum,
Dean of Dixie, doubles deport down.
Denounce-Depose Donald.
Do not delay-dawdle-drift.
Doggedly debunk denial.
Distill daylight, decant dreams.
Decimate dejection, Dazzle!

DO


—Ed Coletti


*Demeter – Goddess of the Harvest
*Dinlas - Guardian of the ancient city of Lamark, where wounded heroes could heal after battle.
*Deucalion - Only male survivor of Deluge; father of Helen. A survivor with his wife Pyrrha of a great flood by which Zeus destroys the rest of the human race.

Monday, January 23, 2017

AC Evans, GET YOUR GROOVE ON


Altered States II, image by AC Evans 




GET YOUR GROOVE ON

As the gloves come off beautiful blooms, sheer box office.
Jackpot event, get it delivered, let’s hit the fast lane.
Kinky dancing, dirty prancing, scandals, champagne,
Custom fittings round the rear. A quick selfie and we’re off!
Yeah er good er no er hello yeah I’m good yeah yeah.
Listen up for a wake-up call from The Dread Masters;
My third eye sees an altered state an altered state in Hell;
Unsafe zone, seriously para-normal, my knickers say wi-fi here.
Oh, lah-de-dah – open wide, heh, heh.

Like I was in this dream, like it was some film, you know?
What happened?
Like, you know, I was taken prisoner by Bluetooth the Pirate, and
We were in his undersea city you know, some horrible, damp dungeon,
There were, flashing images, disturbing scenes, and
Strong language like it was just so horrible, you know?
Looking for a change?
More of a good thing?

Ritzy everything – get your groove on.
Dry riser requiem, tipsy girlfriend in the courtyard
Wearing a glo-in-the-dark interactive t-shirt.
Good day bad day (don’t ask) monster voice-changer
Ride more top-notch honey bunny kiddo girlie.
Got cool flow?
Swish, swanky, premium silk, black contact lenses,
And another curious incident. Do you get it?
Have you got it?
The group played materialistic Subtopian Neo-nonsense, and
Then the group played a heritage wine-cooler; pure heaven,
Like an armillary sphere paperweight deluxe solitaire
Portable swivel vice. Gnarly teeth, my braces fell out.
The surprise gift was an Art Deco heated eyelash curler.
Totally terrific.
Then, we were enticed down a psychic corridor, and
A jigsaw landscape shattered into a thousand pieces;
We were caught in the eye of a storm, beyond the sea of glass.
Yes, Planet Oasis Beauty Boutique was a happening place
For happening people – people just like us!
Sign up today, meet the satellite girls!
Just remember, you have to play to win.
Switches and sockets burn with blue fire in the dark.

Sure, I love it, she muttered seductively.
Utter nonsense? Oh, you know what?
No it was really nice, yeah , jackpot event, yeah.
Bit like mad and like, it’s really good, sooo crazy,
Aren’t they? The group banged on and on.
We all got our groove on, as they say.
Quite intense, quite emotional, really.
Yeah, no, it was really quite nice feasting on aphids.
Force shut down. Cancel.
Thoughts?



—AC Evans