...the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Poem Up

At Zocalo Public Square. For your pleasure...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Leonard Cohen

"As I grew older, I understood that instructions came with this voice. And the instructions were these: Never to lament casually. And if one is to express the great inevitable defeat that awaits us all, it must be done within the strict confines of dignity & beauty."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Film Death

Time to elegize it, maybe. Probably.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Protect My Child"

Why Critics Can't be Trusted, Wrote the Critic



The Kid I'm Angry At

is bouncing the basketball in the yard
out back, has ignored me when I asked
if he'd help out, is singing or talking to
himself. The ball goes pat pat pat on
the cement then a break then he holds it.
His head is like mine, in some way.
It must be. What makes me so bad
is my refusal to stop what I know makes me
so bad, and could make it worse for me,
us, for him. He mocks openly because
he's young. What I do is what's been done.
Like him I don't know how to stop.
Or I do, I do, but my body, and my will.
The lines carrying electricity and
information above his head are arrayed
like a funnel of sin beneath the sky
bringing dispatches pulse-propelled
to the hole above the window and
down the wall to me to where I type.
I can feel a world opening at my touch.
It can't be his fault, his anger-making
actions. He's too young. Protect him.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

yeah yeah

everyone's keeping me out.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

[Last night, I took the kids to see it at The Bay Theatre. Below is a thing I wrote up as a way to get a reviewing job at the now-dead District Weekly.]

Steven Spielberg has a lot to answer for—Michael Bay, for example—though it’s not exactly his fault. His movies from the 70s and early 80s are rich in spectacle and detail. His followers kept the spectacle and missed the detail. That’s why Close Encounters of the Third Kind is still playing in revival, as it is this week, instead of, say, Pearl Harbor. Yes, the spaceships are cool, but the earth-bound stuff is cool, too—even, at times, awe-inspiring: Witness, for example, the astronomers rolling a globe through the halls of an office building, like children with a giant beach ball; or the sea of hands in the Indian desert pointing up in unison toward the washed-out sky; or the moment when Richard Dreyfuss and Melinda Dillon exit their car and see Devil’s Tower lifting out of the Wyoming landscape. That image alone—and not just the climactic vision of the mothership hovering over the same mountain—will more than compensate for the eight bucks it’ll cost you to see it on the big screen. Images like that are what movies are for.

Friday, November 4, 2011


It is comfortable, for a change, to mean so little.

Tom Waits

I like writing melody without an instrument, just so it's more like the, the choreography of a bee. You just go. There're no frets on your neck.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Hoops and Lines

On offense, the team gave itself over to nonstop cutting and ball movement, what guard Walt Frazier called "making a poem."

- Free Darko Presents The Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History, p 74


That dog with the big, bushy tail,
as slow as a slow-witted whale:
nothing can stoke him,
no creature provoke him,
except for the man with the mail.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Woody Allen

Midnight in Paris, which we went to last night, is a pretty enjoyable movie, once you let go of the fact that nobody--and I mean nobody--talks like the people in that movie do.

[The heavy use of Bechet on the soundtrack helps things out.]

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Victoria Williams

Why must it start? / Why must lovers part? / Why does the cheating go on? / Why have hearts turned to stone--why look at that moon!

Joe Strummer

"They used to ask me, 'So you think you schmucks can change the world,' they'd say to us. They said it so often that you began to believe them, which is fatal."

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Two Challenges, Post-Road Trip

=updated to be less ridiculous=

Today we leave for other climes etc. yeah, but post-road trip I will finally be freed up, tho I've always been freed up (excuses are easy always and fun sometimes to make), to meet two challenges:

1. 300 words a day, no exceptions.
2. 10 miles per week, no exceptions.

Levertov, for inspiration:

grief, mercy, language,
tangerine, weather, to
breathe them, bite,
savor, chew, swallow, transform

into our flesh our
deaths, crossing the street, plum, quince
living in the orchard and being

hungry, and plucking
the fruit.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


"I took four bullets to the chest and all I got was this lousy gravestone!"

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

It's inevitable:

a Counting Crows resurgence among the young will soon be upon us. I predict it. College students will be writing as epigraphs for their poems
'Round here we stay up very very very very late.

Auden & John Garrett

A great many people dislike the idea of poetry as they dislike over-earnest people...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Wonderful, Strange Review

This is by Jordan Davis, whose criticism I've enjoyed before. The open-hearted, unrevised nature of the thing is what strikes me, esp. as coming from a so-called post-avant. Fascinating.

Also, I wrote one, here.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Monday, May 2, 2011


"We actually saw the small tornado as it was forming, the big one grab it and suck it in, and it expanded like the mouth of hell." - Constance Foster, from the story headlined 'South Picks Up the Pieces After Deadly Tornadoes' on today's All Things Considered

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

LET man's soul be a sphere, and then, in this,
Th' intelligence that moves, devotion is ;
And as the other spheres, by being grown
Subject to foreign motion, lose their own,
And being by others hurried every day,
Scarce in a year their natural form obey ;
Pleasure or business, so, our souls admit
For their first mover, and are whirl'd by it.

[the rest...]

Friday, April 15, 2011

Southern Cal

Today is one of those days where you can put up with it, and where you realize why you put up with it. Here's a good song to go with it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I've got a poem in this book. Many poets of note have poems in it, too. Buy it. Support this little independent venture.

Monday, April 11, 2011

This is a narrative of very heavy duty proportions.

- Dr. Teeth

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Jesus is a burning fire

Jesus is a burning fire
the preacher said consuming
all in a flame of love and
what survives is what love
therefore burnishes for
eternity and that that
vanishes into ash cannot
last so where do you
put your trust and how
do others know you have
faith which means acting
on what cannot be
seen he said and sipped
from water and the faces
were blank around us
and my heart I could feel
in my neck I wish I was
dead I thought and you
are I might have heard.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Dvorak: Piano Trio No. 4 in E Minor


When you’re stuck in a box

and the walls are thin but

breaking one would make

the whole thing collapse

and those remaining in it

would suffer needlessly,

as all who suffer certainly do,

despite what jerks say,

then I think the thing to do

is to figure out how escaping

and keeping it intact despite

your wanting to burn it up

is an art that few can master

and fewer can imagine

but I’m starting to think

in my way that we must try.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fie on Thee, Spring!

I heard flowers breathing freely
after the rain. And then I heard
the heartbeat of trees enjoying
clean wind. I heard the moaning
of insects circling the ripe fruit
held by the trees. The fruit
sounded slick and drippy, and made me
feel slightly sick. I'm all for love,
brothers and sisters, but such
absence of decorum approaches
the very bounds of breeding
and fine manners, and may give
to the impressionable young
feelings for which their as yet
delicate minds have not the
forbearance to resist. Fie!, therefore.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Monday, February 28, 2011

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Wilcume means Welcome

In English that’s old,

Though nobody speaks it--

Or so I am told.

Yet each pilgrim I meet,

My greeting's the same:

Wilcume min sweostor

Beowulf is min nama.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Identifying lies told by powerful political leaders -- and describing them as such -- is what good journalists do, by definition. It's the crux of adversarial journalism, of a "watchdog" press. "Objectivity" does not require refraining from pointing out the falsity of government claims. The opposite is true; objectivity requires that a journalist do exactly that: treat factually false statements as false. "Objectivity" is breached not when a journalist calls a lie a "lie," but when they refuse to do so, when they treat lies told by powerful political officials as though they're viable, reasonable interpretations of subjective questions. The very idea that a journalist is engaged in "opinion-making" or is "taking sides" by calling a lie a "lie" is ludicrous; the only "side" such a journalist is taking is with facts, with the truth. It's when a journalist fails to identify a false statement as such that they are "taking sides" -- they're siding with those in power by deceitfully depicting their demonstrably false statements as something other than lies.

- Glenn Greenwald

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Recommended for headphones or,

better yet, next time you're driving at night: The first three songs of Dire Straits' Making Movies, especially the first, "Tunnel of Love." Loud while driving is best. I can't recommend it highly enough. Great for Valentine's Day or not.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Lewis Hyde

Barnet's language, the language of gift exchange, has procreation at its root. Generosity comes from genere (Old Latin: beget, produce), and the generations are its consequence, as are the gens, the clans. At its source in both Greek and Sanskrit, liberality is its desire; libido is its modern cousin. Virtue's root is a sex (vir, the man), and virility is its action. Virtue, like the gift, moves through a person, and has a procreative or healing power (as in the Bible story about the woman who touched the hem of Jesus' garment in the faith that it would heal her: "And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned about in the press and said, 'Who touched my clothes?'").

Friday, February 11, 2011

I Don't Pretend to Know

all--or even a little--of what the events unfolding in Egypt mean.

Nevertheless, I find myself pretty exhilarated by what I've been watching. I hope it turns out beautifully, though I know it might turn out dismally. Let's hope for better than what it could be.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pound on a Ford Madox Hueffer (Ford) Simile

Don't use such an expression as 'dim lands of peace.' It dulls the image. It mixes an abstraction with the concrete. It comes from the writer's not realizing that the natural object is always the adequate symbol.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Beach Boys & T.S. Eliot

From "Good Vibrations," 1966:
I don't know where but she sends me there.
From "Burnt Norton," 1936:
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.

A New Thing

I will attempt to post one new thing here daily. That's my new thing. Let's see if I can do it, yo!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Frost / Kennedy

Here's an essay my friend Aaron wrote that I much enjoyed. Perhaps you will, too.

My Band

When he said, You’re band is ok, it’s

Pleasant, it sounded jokey—the tone—

Though he meant it. In the intervening years,

Surplus CDs have scarred birds

Raiding the fruit trees, have served

As coasters for drinks for guests who

Sometimes “drop in,” and have been hung

As part of a shiny, clicking wind-chime,

For reals, made with binder clips,

And twine. The cases I have no use for.

Thursday, January 20, 2011