Thursday, September 30, 2010


A jazzy screwball comedy released in May 1957 with the
unbeatable pair Hepburn/Tracy, who once again challenge one
another's wits — this time Tracy marketing a computer (then called
an "electronic brain") against Hepburn heading up a reference
library crew of workers for a network (think NBC, the exterior shots
are all Rockefeller Plaza) proud of their book skills and learning.
It raises all sorts of dilemmas and ideas that still reach into today
re communication and the value of a human touch.

Written by Henry and Phoebe Ephron who would go on to raise four
daughters, and all writers, one called Nora.

Speaking of writers — we lost a fine one with Michael Gizzi. A shock to
learn of his passing on Wednesday morning.

Michael did all sorts of things in the life of a poet — teacher, editor, man
about town, tree surgeon, publisher, an attractive raconteur. Jazzy. Years ago
we walked about a few towns together just talking things out...faraway
from the poetry reading scene and just inspecting the neighborhood.

When Ted Enslin and I read one winter at Melville's Arrowhead in the Berkshire hills,
Michael didn't have to, but he took it upon himself to set up a table of our
books where he took care of selling things. Years later I ran into him bumming
around with a literary famous one, bookshop haunting, and both were perfect
snobs. You could never tell. But I always trusted Michael could flip back and

He loved books and rummaging in poetry and he wrote some fine books of his
own — somehow not quite getting the recognition I thought he deserved. Maybe in
another lifetime.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


William S. Burroughs

Today we took a day off. In a northern town, sunny all throughout, books and hikes around the neighborhood

“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.”—Nathaniel Hawthorne

and we even get a peek into a William Burroughs tiny exhibit where we held two copies of Naked Lunch: the Olympia Press first edition

and the first edition Grove Press.

Sweetheart had to put her pocketbook and satchel into a locker before the books were permitted near her. She gave her driver's license to the authorities. I simply sat there waiting for the books, unarmed. Here came the softcover French edition and the familiar to us cloth edition. Both signed by Burroughs on the full title pages with a ball point pen. When we were done we took the books over to the authorities. They smiled. Two women. One gave back Sweetheart's property, the other asked to see the books. She seemed to be handling and peering into both volumes as if for the first time in her life. A book approximately a half century old. Still dangerous.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010




let me tell you one thing about suicide

if a loved one has the guts or the heartbreak

to pull this off, you better have the same to

say this is how it all ended

even if you argue with her or him in your mind

every day as you bake bread

rake leaves

drive to work

return library books

tie your shoes

walk a cross walk

mail a letter

split wood

and try to sing in the shower again

48 pages
hand-sewn wraps
three color text with photographs
limited signed edition $20

order here through Paypal, plus $3.95 s/h (US shipping only)

Monday, September 27, 2010


When we finished the roofing job and then the chimney stack of top enamel tiles and came back down onto the ground, the earth, we played this song. Something very far from us brought close. It was for the samba mambo bomba joy.

Born in Scotland in 1952, David Byrne hit the streets of New York City (where he lives today, often found moving on bicycle) as a young man with musical friends. In 1975 he formed Talking Heads with these friends and never looked back. Known through the New Wave, World Beat channels Byrne was accomplished with guitar, accordion, violin and harmonica before entering high school; he's tripled his instrumental arsenal since then and moved from the Talking Heads into world music, film, theater, producer, and founder of the music label Luaka Bop (1990). The album Rei Momo was released in 1989 garnering a Scotsman understanding of Afro-Cuban-Hispanic and Brazilian styles.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


What Is Borne


[ please click on image to enlarge ]

Three color booklet of new poems

by John in fold-out splendor.

Both signed and unsigned editions.

Longhouse offers a free half-reading above.


Signed limited edition $15.
Unsigned $8.95

(International orders kindly inquire)

order here through Paypal with free shipping

photo by Jana Brubaker

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Art Tatum

Art Tatum tended to work alone — few musicians could keep pace with him — the advanced harmonic vocabulary and all.

Blind in one eye and the other eye forever weakening, he drew deeply from the great American songbook: Tin Pan Alley, Broadway, popular tunes from the 20s-40s, building upon a stride and classical piano background, which went on to influence Bud Powell, Monk, Bill Evans and about any other musician who lent an ear, no matter their instrument.

My favorite remark about Art Tatum is by the pianist Kenny Barron, "I have every record [Tatum] ever made — and I try never to listen to them … If I did, I'd throw up my hands and give up!"

That's versatile Ben Webster joining Tatum on this recording.

Gone to us before the age of 50 (d. 1959), his wife Geraldine was buried beside him at Forest Lawn Cemetery at her passing in May 2010.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Brooks Johnson with Farid Matuk and Susan Briante, 2006

the people of the state of illinois
brooks johnson


[ please click on image to enlarge ]

Three color booklet of new poems

by Brooks in fold-out splendor.

Longhouse offers a free half-reading above.


Unsigned $8.95

(International orders kindly inquire)

order here through Paypal with free shipping

photo courtesy Kent Johnson


Thursday, September 23, 2010




[ please click on image to enlarge]

Three color booklet of new poems

by Pam in fold-out splendor.

Longhouse offers a free half-reading above.


Unsigned $8.95

(International orders kindly inquire)

order here through Paypal with free shipping

photo courtesy of Pam Brown

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


That mackerel sky. Came to us out of nowhere.

And here's to those who suffer (and you do) the loss of thousands of trees in and around the boroughs of New York City during a recent macroburst. The photographs and stories have been tragic. There are people who walk the earth with a goodly part of their lives respectful and in gratitude to the trees that line their neighborhoods, otherwise gone to hard times and damages. Having that tree outside the window, or as greeting figure right out the door, is bigger than you may think. I can think of beautiful most beautiful poems by Lorine Niedecker, Robinson Jeffers and Philip Booth about their trees. Which are yours. Ours.

Back at the roof job it was time to dismantle the 42 foot by 18 feet of wood scaffold across all the front of the house.Talk about trees! We had deemed it "Michelangelo". We'd take down 3/4s of it and leave a final 1/4 up right at the center of the house with the front door (never used, bookcases are behind it, but one day we discovered a Jehovah Witness caroler knocking there) and lined up with the chimney. The chimney is the next target.

We'll raise the 16 foot aluminum ladder with hook up there by the weekend and latch on at the ridge cap which will allow just enough working room to begin a new design on the chimney. From the rear I can get there by a shorter ladder and hook, and I already have a piece of staging left there from the roof work. On that staging will go the tub of mortar and tools, and eventually me.

I have a plan in my head to ring the top of the chimney with Mexican tiles. Enamel finished. I've been working with these for decades. Around here I once found tiles in shops for a dollar each. That was years ago. Now they can range anywhere from $5 to $10 each depending on the venue. With a little sleuthing by Internet, Sweetheart found a treasure-of-the-sierra-madre trove: 100 tiles at a song. Made and packed up in Mexico in an old box and mailed from Texas. Don't sit and count the days, it'll take a little while before the tiles arrive. By Fed Ex ground and a very sassy young driver who didn't like the fact we don't have a number on our house. "But you found us?" I asked. "I guessed", he hurled. This was the only part of the transaction from old Mexico to old Vermont that reminds me once again that progress hasn't progressed. The lack of etiquette, and etiquette can be sweet.

So into the tile box we go and find 5 tiles wrapped as if by Santa's elves in their own styrofoam package. One after the other, shaped in a cube, packed like sardines. Not a scratch, not a chip, not a break to any tile. Remarkable. I need 18 to do the top circumference of the chimney, and between Sweetheart and me we found the chosen ones. Set them aside. With no idea in the world how they will look. Live on and by the seat of our pants.

We saved all the styrofoam packing. We even tried to read the crumpled up newspaper from Mexico used for padding; got so far. But the styrofoam we will use again right out of our bookshop. In the meantime, with the scaffold dismantled and stacked on the ground, the new roof opens up to us. The little things excite us.

I won't even go into the body pain, tough sleep, bad backs, hip to leg pain we've had for weeks and weeks. It'll take all the romance right out of it. This isn't from this one job, it's from 3000 other jobs, all sizes and predicaments. The worker at a certain age is nicks and bruises and a grin (if lucky). It was Samuel Beckett who told us all not to take this life so seriously. He was correct. And he wrote his best stuff unknown, struggling, an underground war resister against the fascists. I always liked his Irish-French perspective.


If you've gotten this far with me, thank you. I must be testing our endurance.

Finian's Rainbow? Yes! "Follow the fellow who follows a dream" is the essential line in the film. It used to keep campers in line and neighborhoods in-step, and then the big lie was exposed — there is no rainbow. You're actually one step from homeless. But with some desire you might build one yourself — a rainbow. So go build.
"Follow the yellow brick road". Ridicule these sing-song lines but they have gusto. There's a graffiti specialist in NYC by the name of Momo who one day got it into his head to strap a container onto his bicycle and with a handmade spray hose device draw a line as far as he wanted to go. He happened to go 8 miles. It took 15 gallons of paint. He did this between 3-6 AM. Follow the fellow who follows a dream. Yes, sometimes it leads to nowhere. Start again.

as if playing chess

We pile the spruce 2 x 4 / 12s in one area, the 2 x 6 / 12s nearby. By nightfall I will take some of the shorter 2 x 6 used as scaffold bracing and tear out and build a new outdoor stairway for the faraway cottage at the edge of the woods. The last stairway lasted ten years. Here's another ten years.

All the scaffold was built with double-headed 16 common nails. We pulled them all, saved 75%, about 100 nails. I straightened them all out with my hammer on one of the low garden stone walls right where we worked. Reuse every single inch you can. Not a board or plank broken, split, damaged or wasted. All back in a neat pile ready for the next job.

I finished building the cottage stairway in the rain — yes, rain! It's been awful dry around here. We haven't seen old friend rain for weeks and weeks. Beautiful rain. Just tear open the late summer corn in the fields and have a look at no-rain. Returning to the house with the rain I went and had a look at how the steel was behaving in the rain, nice and steady and long, smooth as glass.

CODA (as of Saturday) ~

We are back at the tippity-top (chimney) and maybe one of the more crazed jobs I have attempted: ringing the top side of the chimney stack with Mexican tiles. Where in the world did I dream up this idea? Maybe Finland? Where my mind must come from, or old Ireland? Some inventions are best done alone, but Sweetheart was up there with me and tending to every tool and caulking and wet rag and bottle water spray and mortar tray and trowel needed. Ladder and hooks draped both sides of the roof. Of course mortar dropping wet onto the new and old roof and I have to wash both sides by hand with a water bucket and wet rag. It looked like I was up there polishing the new roof! From the ground Buster Keaton shouted, "It's lookin' good, but you missed a spot!"

photos © susan & bob arnold

Monday, September 20, 2010



I couldn't locate "At the Crossroads", one of Sweetheart's favorite songs (and mine), and Sahm's barrel-house version of Lowell Fulson's "Reconsider Baby" would have been my choice for Saturday night becoming early Sunday morning.

But it's early in the week, we all need an uplift, and no better than a native San Antonio true-blood showing how the music never stops. Doug Sahm was stopped by a heart attack in Taos New Mexico (Kachina Inn / in his sleep ) in 1999. He'd just turned 58. He should have lived to be 200 by how much body and soul he gave to his music, life and baseball (a fan).

He started out as a child prodigy on fiddle, steel guitar, mandolin, and at the age of eleven was on the stage at the Skyline Club in Austin with Hank Williams. The date: December 19, 1952. Hank Williams would die less than two weeks later on New Year's day.

Sahm led the life the majority of white rock 'n' roll musicians can only dream about, mainly because he played almost every genre and looked it, too. From the Sir Douglas Quintet (with his Texas accent, and 2/5s of the band members being Hispanic, plus Augie Meyers, trying to pass off as an early British invasion 60s band — you just have to love the nerve of this guy), his own bands on the Mercury and Atlantic labels, the Texas Tornados, Los Super Seven supergroup, his two sons playing with dad and now on their own — it was all the
neverending tour that Bob Dylan was undoubtedly inspired by. Doug Sahm was doing it since he was a kid, when he cut his first record "A Real American Joe". By the time he was a teenager, it is said he was offered a permanent spot at the Grand Ole Opry, but his mom shot the idea down wanting her son to finish school. Yep, he was but a mover.

(let's pretend it's Saturday, late)

(and no getting away without the Texas Tornados:
Augie Meyers, Doug Sahm, Freddy Fender, Flaco Jimenez)

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Treehouse Haibun


[ please click on image to enlarge ]

Three color booklet of new poems

by Merrill in fold-out splendor.

Both signed and unsigned editions.

Longhouse offers a free half-reading above.


Signed limited edition $15.
Unsigned $8.95

(International orders kindly inquire)

order here through Paypal with free shipping

photo of Merrill Gilfillan by John Deason, 2005

Saturday, September 18, 2010



Young woman


green dress apron translucent white prayer bonnet

strings of her bonnet trailing in the air

rollerskating down the road

by herself alone in the air and light of an ungloomy Sunday afternoon

herself and her skating shadow

the painter said

beauty is what we add to things

and I

chainsawing in the woods above the road

say what could be added

what other than giving this roaring machine a rest.

Somewhere else, I, like others, have showcased this poem before. I can't get enough of it.

Of course it is the girl, the balance of the body (girl and poem), everything of the day spinning in almost midair, her following shadow, the poet with roaring chainsaw knowing it was time to give "it a rest" — both loud living as well the poem. Though this poem resonates, it stops on a feather, a thread. A dime hasn't yet been invented where this poem is coming from.

John Taggart is the son of a preacher man. My bet is no one but the son of a preacher man would ever see this sexual and divine image of translucent white prayer bonnet.

Nothing's perfect, but this poem is close.

There are 350 pages more of the same.

is music
selected poems
John Taggart
edited by Peter O'Leary
Foreword by C.D. Wright
Copper Canyon Press, 2010

photo : John Taggart
c/o Big Bridge