Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Michael Rothenberg, Track

Ho|ma|ge to Phlebotomy Tubes, image by Daniel Y. Harris 


Roots travel
Madrid to Galicia
Paris to bougainvillea

Field guide to love and civilization

Water the garden
War blossoms

Beauty and perpetual anxiety

Soul fire, sulfur, sullen harmonies

Out of the center 


Drunk at 2am
I knocked on Lennie’s window
Woke him up
After an hour rambling on & on
He threw me out
The police picked me up on the street
Booked me for public drunkenness
and disturbing the peace

Fan turns
105 degrees Fahrenheit outside
The dog licks his balls
I chew gum

            Bees swarm the baklava


Peaches, plums, nectarines
Apricots and melons

            Barbecue three times this week
            Food is the only thing that interests me

Stiff ass and a bum gut
This might be a good time to get a real job


Some beautiful puzzles broken and unfixable
It takes forever to hear back from the manufacturer

The dog poops on the end of a leash
Then pulls me down the road

The reference remains obscure

50 years towing the hoe, whoring the woe
And a handful of maple leaves shudder 
Shift. Switch
Drop back or step in

I compose by contrast and condition

Slumber party in Orense

Raccoon knocks over birdbath
and crushes abutilon

Looking for lots of places

Lizards chase each other
across the crunchy madrone leaves

On the death of Billy Graham’s wife Ruth,
“a spiritual stalwart and modest mentor
who provided a solid foundation –
both biblically and geographically –
for her globe-trotting husband.”

Billy tells the reporter,
“"I wish you could look in that casket
because she's so beautiful,"

I think I’ll pass


Corrosive devotion sweeps the theater

Leaky hot tub too hot to handle

Robert Johnson morning glory hat trick blues

            33 pounds of noir travel wear

Angel food cake itinerary

            Everything is depressed
            and second-rate


A boy is lost in the redwoods
We look for him


Invisible repair


Alone in the house
The hot tub too hot
I take a shower


Right here beside the rug is a house

What do I think of when I grind my teeth?

Last night I read a poem by Miguel de Unamuno
Poet and philosopher born in Bilbao
who worked to dissolve the boundaries
between genres

Beauty resists resistance


Methhead whore
tricking truckers
on River Road

The World’s Ugliest Politician
announced in New Jersey


Sleep without remorse


Sudden oak death threatens the neighborhood

Spiders, mosquitoes, hip-hop, jazz
Anti-social dissociation and assemblage


Yesterday's leaky toilet turned jackhammer
(some kind of air pocket in the pipes)...
How much will that cost?

Hernia surgery gone awry

Dog needs his teeth cleaned
Trunk release won’t release

The surgeon says give it another 3 months
Meanwhile the blue jay tears up the garden


“The door’s wide open!” Terri says
             “I did it on purpose” I say
“I know but you’re letting in all the bugs”


“Rich fucks” 


Too full to shower
Too dirty to get into bed

Remember what the Buddha says:

“Stay Spunky!”


A man left a million dollar violin on a train

Another man got temporal mandibular joint malfunction
After shooting a man in the head while hunting grouse


You try, you try, you win, you fail


Drive across Pyrenees in an amphitheater

What is going on? I said to myself




Mutual aid survives mutual funds
Utilities are over utilized
Craft kisses Art goodbye


6 squirrels lounge around the birdbath
Grooming, dozing, chirping

Rodents armed with knives
Try to kill me in my sleep

I make plans for revenge
They’ll never catch me now!


I learn how to raise bees
Plant lemons in a wine barrel
Journalize delusion


Swarm of black bugs eat the house
Then attack the dog
I beat them off with a broom

A peacock comes to live on the deck
Beware of this feathered woman
she will possess you

Ruddy ferns on Goat Rock


My problem is that I want attention
But when I get it, it makes me nervous

. . .continuing

Spider silk stretches
from Morning-Glory
to glowing redwood


Arabs in Spain
Gypsies in Paris
Jews in America

Diaspora clothesline

            “We are in a global state of emergency and must stabilize
            our existence?” George Bush says

My son sits up until 3am watching movies about Spain
thinking about where he can buy a beer and a joint
with fake ID manufactured in Mexico

There would be no peace
even if we closed the borders.

We don’t believe in peace
We believe in Original Sin.


Shredded clouds
hover over the anxious house


Reserve a room in Figueres

“A foot that is injured has no eyes,”
a West Indian saying


Castles, cider, Spain
Another fascist cemetery

Medieval romance
Next week Gaudi, octopus, tapas in general

Then to Paris


Bladder report
Short and urgent

Death over semantics


I don’t need traveler’s checks
I need a piggy bank for loose change
and a brain for loose screws

I’m not going into town today

I found them in a file cabinet

A century ago
Yesterday, this morning, a minute ago

I am embraced by a shadow


Empty out hot tub
Move plants off the deck
Closer to departure



Rain all day & Joan Miró sleeps late
How many discos?
Bowls of fried minnows and olives
On the Ramblas
Go on some side street
Suddenly, Christ
There’s a huge church that drips tears
and a mission of bells clang
Rome in ecstasy
Catalonia is not Spain
Marilyn Monroe in the “Metropolis”
You can see Paris Hilton everywhere
I remember The Surrealists
Nostalgic groves
A thousand cars bumper to bumper
Eager to visit that quaint little village, Cadaqués
Animal crackers in my paella
Take a picture
Ride back over the mountain
Cafe Americano
The singer is a fraud
VISPO is a village in Spain
“M” is for Maria Madrid
Aquarius, the world is your oyster
The earth is your old mother
Your sunglasses at home
Visions of langostinos on the promenade
The crooked line
The escalator
Gondola, Taxi con gas
Hernia on tranquilizer
Ascent of Miró
I had a print of one of his paintings
On my wall  for 40 years
Assassination of umbrellas



25 Euro- Sagrada Família
16 Euro- Casa Batlló
16 Euro- La Pedrera


The Imagination of Space


We are so proud it kills us


Simplicity of paying bills
Complexity of dreaming

Terror of invention
Fear of insomnia

Donuts and boobs on the Costa Brava
Cured ham and clams

Outside Teatro Museo Salvador Dalí
Vertigo and a drunk art student from Denver



I can see the Eiffel Tower
from the toilet in my Paris hospital room

Deck builder’s hammers echo in redwood valley 8am
Art and prophecy a parlor trick

Chunks of sunburned Styrofoam become stelae
Illuminate a personal mythology


Déjà vu Doodles: Or, things I already drew


One rainy day I was stopped for running a red light
I told the cop I didn’t see the light because
my windshield wiper was broken
He gave me two tickets


Crazy Americans


We wake to rustling in the leaves
A flock of human babies forage
among new shoots

The shepherd, a wizened mutant, guards the perimeters
from ravaging crocodiles

Life is easy in the redwoods


The velvet night
The orange rose


Chiqui the dog likes Cheerios
with his morning coffee

               September fog crisis
            I miss those voices

            I used to write everything until Joanne said,
“You don’t have to write everything”
                        NOW I can’t write anything. . .

Terri takes Chiqui for a walk
He likes to go for a walk after his morning coffee

                        Three deer in an oak leaf crush

    “The Earth's shadow will creep across
the moon's surface early Tuesday, slowly eclipsing it
and turning it shades of orange and red.”

“Don LaFontaine has the rare distinction of being
influential yet invisible.”

I look for some sloppy personality footprint,
Something stinky in the verse like greasy bacon
or muenster cheese.

Familiar bad logic, stigma obsession, redundancy. . .

            Velvet stars, cherry blossoms & peanuts,
                                                             deer, bears and Buddha



                         Steal apples from neighbor’s tree
            “The Gleaners”                                  

Mea culpa

               hummingbird feeder
               pig mask

                        Terri takes the trash out

September 17 at 3:15

BERLIN - Skippi, a wily kangaroo on the run since early August was returned to his home at a petting zoo Monday in southern Germany, after a chase through the German Alps that left the animal with a strained leg.

I’m allergic to milk but I’m okay looking at it


There’s a massive spider web in Lake Tawakoni State Park, Texas
You can hear the mosquitoes screaming

I’m violently attached to my ego

WYOMING, Mich. - A car wash employee got tangled in the giant, automatic brushes and died, authorities said.

“Be careful of the scaffolding,” PW


A journal (with no dates)
Horrors, terrors and rainbows
A lock of Che Guevara’s hair
goes up for auction


Luciano Pavarotti goes missing in a song
Antonio Machado stuck in my head


The ficus tree that grew in my backyard
when I was kid
The one I used to climb all the time
One day I came home and it was gone


I don’t like change



“A shark knocks you stupid and you wake up dead”


Dogs offer a “semblance” of love


A thousand dollars later the hot tub still leaks

The middle class feels guilty
The rich are still shameless

The occupation continues


Jim says I have an impressive package


I'm OCD and don't know
whether to cut my hair or slit my wrists!

"Don't worry,” Jim says, “You don't have to choose, you can do them both"

Terri says, "Cut your hair first"

A friend who has OCD writes:

“I'm having trouble piecing together the juxtapositions.
The 1st & 3rd section could fit if I knew more about the ‘package.’
Am I missing something? The other thing is that when you say OCD
to me it has a very different weight & meaning
than it does to the average reader. I have OCD up the wazoo.
You're offering humorous OCD that sounds more like
indecisiveness than real OCD. So I find it funny, tongue in cheek,
but so far the strongest relation I see between 1 & 3 is
‘throwing the baby out with the bath water,’
which is the whole hog way some OCD folks would operate. 


Reflex tics. . . borderline personality. . .slow gray morning


Hysterical propaganda
Apples and honey with Bambi and company

Fall here

Crow, sorrel, pink rose
Civil war, moon walk
Neo-Nazis in Israel

Tantra, farmer, anarchist


Gray-haired hippies in Monte Rio airplane hangar movie house
watch Sicko and weep


Paint window frame green
Kathy has a surplus of eggplants
But only gives us one

A man and woman jog through the redwoods
With a large Golden Retriever

Organic chicken and apple sausage
Watching Washington “die-in” protest on TV
Some dead and undead


September 17, 2007
9am, Hall of Justice
Jury Summons

Decide whether repeat sex offender,
convicted twice of rape and having served his time
should go into a mental hospital or be released

Fill out hardship form:
Insomnia, under treatment for a year, difficult to concentrate
Weak bladder, under treatment for about a year,
need to get up 2 or 3 times an hour to pee
Have travel plans to read poetry in Tucson & New Mexico
in two weeks therefore unable to sit in on a long trial


Rush out of the room with copy of Democracy in America
and The Journal of Albion Moonlight


Dear K___ ,

Don't mind David. He always has this anxious crankiness and it doesn't mean anything at all. Sometimes it makes me tired but I never take it personally. Maybe it's general anxiety disorder. That's what I have. My counselor says he doesn't believe in all that stuff because people are so different. But if I have to have something that's what he thinks I have. So onward,

Love, Michael


Dizzie Gillespie and Joan of Arc wing
through invisible curtains

Squirrel taps the fence
Demands more bird seed

Wake up, Goddammit!

The congregation kneels
at the edge of the great chasm

I dive into the aquarium
Read poetry to the sharks

How did transparency get so complicated?

Scorpion on the sink

I discover something permanent
But don’t know what to do with it

Various petunias hatch from my skull

What do you believe in?


In Chiricahua Park outside of Bisbee
he says, “Enough! Enough! Too much beauty. I can't take it. All the clouds and cacti!” So we go to a rundown, kinda rundown desert town, Douglas, on the border, check how our American money is being spent on fences to keep us in and them out and so forth. Big billboards with methheads dissolving against the desert sky. Drove up to Coronado national monument, gravel road mountain overlook. I got vertigo but kept it quiet mostly. Awesome views of Mexico, road runners, sparrow hawks, agave, desert spoons, ocotillo, black caterpillar, deer, and a black and white lady bug David snatched from my sleeve to make a wish. The poetry reading went well last night. A very sweet crowd of friends, locals. Hospitable and receptive. Today Tucson. Stop in another desert park I can't pronounce.


The nurse says, “Look, I have too much to do to worry about germs.”
Is all irony poetry?


Solomon Excavation Company: “The King Digs”
“I’m a stranger in paradigm”

Porcupine Wash

250 miles an hour, dollars a minute
Nothing’s been the same since the Beatles broke up

Punk rock desert
Saguaro crucifix

Crazy, craggy, jagged mountains
Tap dancing across the wild and wooly west

Where have all the postcards gone?
“Doing Pilates on the banks of the Ganges”
The pose and poems of yesteryear?
“Postcards meet & merge & mutate,
become one great wall size poster
that you can’t mail.”

The improvisation takes over

“Cicada Sonata”


David sleeps in, overdosed on Saguaro and cholla forests


Road to Moab
Cryptobiotic crust

Snow flurries
Sandstone arches and the sky beyond

The Beauty becomes painful and The Void

takes the breath out of us all.

—Michael Rothenberg