Monday, January 31, 2011


A new poem~card from our press!

Head to our bookshop (always open) and get yourself one.


This brother & sister duo are a gas, and still performing to this day nearing on age 70. Rockabilly never dies.

Larry and Lorrie ("Lawrencine") Collins could often be caught on 1950s tv: either with Tex Ritter's "Ranch Party", or on "Town Hall Party", where Ricky Nelson eyed Lorrie and they became an item. Lorrie appeared as Ricky's girlfriend on his parents tv show...years and years before reality television shows, which I've never seen, and won't.

What we are listening to here is Larry as a guitar whiz at age ten or so, and Lorrie a few years older. He plays the solos, they both sing. If you told me they were Wanda Jackson's kids, I'd say, "Had to be."

It all came about when Sweetheart and I pulled out the map of California, as we often do in the dead of winter, and saw the stretch of open highway through the desert to the Sierra. We have the desire; we just need the right car.

Play the song.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


O beautiful hour, masterful state, garden gone wild. You turn from the house and see, rushing toward you on the garden path, the goddess of happiness.

Franz Kafka, Zurau, 1917

You want stillness?

Out in the deep snow this morning I could hear the chickadee's call from 100 feet off. Flatline zero degrees. In a tamarack, one of the few in the valley, one I planted 35 years ago. 75 feet tall. The bird's busy signal of a call.

Listen even closer and hear the river barely bubble beneath too much ice.

Our snowshoe track we use every day has its simple trail leaving the back door and winding through the woodlot, hill & dale, and while up there we pick up another log or two from the cord of rock maple & beech and under each arm bring it home. The wood cache is midway and at the highest point, so it's almost downhill when returning with the firewood.

A neighbor caught us working and nearing home with the wood and asked what we were doing. We told her, melting smiles as we all talked. A very cold day. Snow banks between us.

The plumbing hasn't worked right in the house since last summer, but between us and a plumber friend we thought we had it licked. Always find a plumber that doesn't mind cobbing together a new trick, especially for a very old house. Old houses never sleep! However, for the moment, all the cobbing ain't doing the trick. And if it's coming from the well the well is way way under snow, but not really — I keep the well head available. Still it all looks way way under snow.

We stopped counting how many feet we've had from the sky.

Ten years ago we thought about a snowblower and that's as far as we got. Something about grabbing a shovel, and we own six shovels for just snow. I still own one I bought forty years ago when tools lasted forever. Now we don't even last forever.

We're shoveling a 200 foot driveway, and pathway to the back door. This doesn't count the other pathways, both porches, stairway, and all the roofs to move. One part of me says so-what, shutup, enough of this heroic stuff already, live silently as you have and stay at your work. The other part of me says ~ nah, life is good (even if it is bad), celebrate, and let the chips fall. Invite everyone in.

I'm happy to say the roof we installed last summer is a beautiful pal. Snow can't stay on it. And this is the winter snow is staying on steel roofs. When I was putting the steel roof down I noticed just how slick it was. Dangerous then, a service now.

There's plenty of firewood. Kokomo (Cutie Pie) is feeling better; if anyone is wondering why all the music on the Birdhouse I'm actually restraining myself. I could set on favorite tunes day and night. That's what you get working outdoors, building a sweat, coming back in and stripping off and drying an hour by the woodfire and listening to a song, or two. Even if nothing is playing but something is in your head. You want to share it. I add one more song. Clothes are dry, get back outdoors, it's waiting for you.

For close friends ~ Sweetheart had a dream a few nights ago that I found Janine herding cows on a fine grassy steppe high outside an Alpine village! Don't you love it. There is a long history of Sweetheart's dreams and Janine. She only told Janine.

We are making many booklets, too, like cookies. All these poets we love. Cookie-sheeted and on the kitchen counter by a warm lamp. If we love you, we print you, or we at least try to. Though if we haven't printed you it doesn't mean we don't love you.

Oh yeah, we shut the tv down in August. What we're saving (the crooks) we just paid for that steel roof.

Stay warm!

photo © bob arnold

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Another rockin' classic written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, on their Spark label from 1954 and performed by a black gospel group, if you can believe that, letting down their hair for this one. Leiber & Stoller dubbed the group "The Honey Bears" for the handful of tunes they cut that day in the studio and then they were gone, I think forever. "Love Me" was another of the group's tunes recorded in that session, later picked up by Elvis as one of his early hits.

The tune below should correctly read "One Bad Stud". It's all in the wording.

leiber & stoller:


A new booklet from our press!

Head to our bookshop (always open) and get yourself one.


Although they have been drained
of their juices
the leaves still stand up straight
in the frosty air

She runs toward the river
and finds a hole in the ice
to have a dip
while the light turns red

Friday, January 28, 2011


When you're down to one or two stock photographs of yourself kicking around, you're either Thomas Pynchon or Tommy Johnson, top of the line author and bluesmaker of underbelly America. Both authors delving into the Seven Deadly Sins. Both fresh as a daisy. Scholars and copy cats tear their hair trying to figure out how it's all done. Long before Jimi Hendrix there was Tommy Johnson on guitar, with that growl or spine tingling falsetto, somewhat captured these days by Geof Muldaur. Johnson was born in rural Mississippi and lived there all his life. Died of a heart attack in 1956 after playing a party ~ what do we expect from one who truly sold his soul to the devil? A heavy drinker, he sang of drinking methanol from Sterno in his classic song "Canned Heat Blues". The roughest of the rough: Robert Nighthawk and Howlin' Wolf learned from him, and the Los Angeles group tore their name from his song.



Self-portrait of an artist above, Edgar Miller (1899-1993), like Ezra Pound, Idaho-born, was cut out of the American frontier.

Miller landed in Chicago at age 17 and would inch-by-inch begin to transform the architecture of certain sections of this vast and original city.

"One should learn from nature" was how this prolific and gifted craftsman went about his work with animal and plant motifs that he would turn into woodcarvings, paintings, stained glass windows, ceramic tiles, frescoes, mosaics, and illustrious household murals.

Fond of using used materials, and in fact insisting on its use — everything was spared — and spun into gold. Oak doors layered with intricate chisel chop and entwined imagery stand to this day.

At age 89 it wasn't unusual for Miller to work a 12 hour day with his hand tools for ten days straight to complete a masterpiece entry door.

One more of the hidden delights of the world, dear Edgar Miller.


A new booklet from our press!

Head to our bookshop (always open) and get yourself one.

pappy with a khaki sweatband

old bowed potbellied barnyard

that only he noticed

the old fart was smart


Thursday, January 27, 2011


Deborah Harry

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Geraint Watkins

Something somewhat recent (2003) from the infrequent recording artist born in the blues roots capitol of South Wales, UK. Dylan Thomas blow me down.


A new booklet from our press!

Head to our bookshop (always open) and get yourself one.


Railroad dick throws us off —

we hop back on —

the smiling fisherman


Tuesday, January 25, 2011


When you settle into a night of Bobby Blue Bland, you settle into those early Duke records, even though at age 80 the lion of the blues is going on strong. Born in 1930 in Tennessee and raised in Memphis, I'm pulling up two gems from Bland's 1974 album Dreamer. Those Duke recordings are behind him here, so is alcoholism, some rocky relationships, and bands. He's got the look and sound all his own. The ideal blend of gospel, blues, R&B, and nothing comes easy.



When the axe

handle busted

after thirty


(it was


I came inside

with two logs for

the wood fire and

added the axe head

to the fire —

it burned the old

wood handle out


(we two who

heat a home)

photo © bob arnold

Monday, January 24, 2011



A span of 20 feet —
Someone, but no
One’s around, once
Laid down these log
Poles and nailed the
Planks for what I balance
On and cross, and then
Turn and once again
Walk over, because I
Like the feeling, a
Mountain creek beneath
And leaves floating,
The range of light —
Now back across slowly
The last time
Finally into my direction

====================for John Levy

© Bob Arnold
from Where Rivers Meet
(Mad River Press)

photo © bob arnold

A new booklet from our press!

Spanish ~ English poems.

Head to our bookshop (always open) and get yourself one.

En mi soledad
he visto cosas muy claras
que no son verdad

In my solitude
I have seen very clear things
that weren't true


the kings of rhythm (clockwise): billy gayles, eugene washington, jesse knight, ike turner, eddie jones and raymond hill

The whammy bar of Ike Turner blows through the front door of this 1956 kicker he penned on the Federal label, and sung by Billy Gayles (also "Gales") who worked with Turner on his Clarksdale recordings in 1954.

That's Bob Dylan saying a little something at the tail end.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


A new broadside to frame from our press!

Head to our bookshop (always open) and get yourself one.


Robert Duncan

There are so many ways to say a book is fantastic. Maybe best here to allow the author some space to describe why the night sky (we all have) is fantastic.


=================================MARCH 10, FRIDAY. 1961. (1963)

Naming the stars out of the seas of heaven, men drew a net-work. The knots were suns, were burning. What the poets who bound the dragon of their confusion spun were lines of association where figures of light appeared, giving direction. All life is oriented to the light from which life comes. The bees in their dances are oriented to the sun and, if it is dark, will dance in relation to a candle flame. Men found at night a new orientation in the stars, found a heaven, a spreading mesh of lights, that became a projected screen of where and when they were as they danced, an image of another net that in memory we throw out over moment and place that are suns in time, the net of our selves. The bees dance to tell where the honey is.

They memorized as they realized. In turn, now, the surfaces and involvements of the brain were an imprint of the seas above; and the skydome above was the image of another configuration in the skulldome below. So, a network there too bound the dragon of a confusion in constellations of living cells that made up a body or series of imaginary bodies a man was, is, would be.


It was a map. It was a great design of where they were and then of when. Night after night here in the country I have been learning my stars. The wavering cold of a mixed winter and spring, as if those distant lights were within the aroma of March blossomings, the lilac, lemon, and grasses, of the star-world, brings a fragrance of stars. Earth sparks of scent seem just to have flown up into those signs of the ancient ways in which the book of when-where sparkles and glows. As we come home from an evening with neighbors, Orion is in the high heaven.

I found my copy, new, uncorrected proof, last fall tucked into the corner of a children's book display at a local bookseller's trade if not quite knowing where to categorize the book. $2, "NOT FOR RESALE". I'm going by the early tatters of this text — affection for my found copy.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Elizabeth Smart

Born to an upper-crust Canadian family in 1913, the poet Elizabeth Smart wrote one of the more fallen from grace memoirs with By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept, first published in 1945 in only 2000 copies, and maybe most of those were banned in Canada through the influence of her mother — not at all happy about the book — and what wasn't banned, mommie dearest bought up and burned.

Smart was a long time lover with poet George Barker, a married man. Passion holds no bounds, together they had four children that Smart raised herself while working as an advertising copy writer.

It's been said Lucian Freud went to paint her portrait and only got down as far as her eyebrows.

Her poems must be read, and her volumes of journals. There is something special about an independent soul up against the odds. This one was stopped in London in 1986 by a heart attack. In the meantime, her books have a life of their own.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Some evenings it's James Booker playing, or Otis Spann, or Mose Allison, Percy Mayfield and when none of the above, someone cut from the same cloth of all these hombres: Mercy Dee Walton. Rural-rooted Texan (b. 1915) who moved to California before WW2 and maybe best known for the blues standard "One Room Country Shack" originally cut on Speciality Records. He made ends meet working in the fields of California and playing a million club dates, touring often with Big Jay McNeely. Arhoolie would release the LP above in 1961. The following year, Mercy was gone.


A new booklet from our press!

Head to our bookshop (always open) and get yourself one.

Nashville warbler

lost deep in a box elder —

the master plan.


Dead Reckoning (1947) with Humphrey Bogart has always been my favorite Lizabeth Scott film. As soon as I say this I say to self, "But wait a minute! — how about I Walk Alone and how about The Racket? Yeah, how about it?

Lizabeth Scott was born in 1922 of Ukrainian background and is with us today at age 88. If there is anything I marvel at, and I like to quietly marvel, is how many silver screen legends are still with us. Women. Often living as quietly as my marveling, after decades of dynamic work, unforgettable performances, and often being treated as second fiddle because of the heroic male squad, which ain't always as heroic as the women. Think of Bogart without Bacall in
Dark Passage. Think of Hollywood without Bergman, Davis, Crawford, Hepburn, Lombard, Lupino, Garbo, Arthur, Hayworth, Grahame, Stanwyck, Gardner, Colbert, Taylor, Novak, Winters, Bacall, Tierney, Scott, Kerr and we haven't even left the country yet. Or warmed up.

So here's to "Mike", "Slim", "Veronica", "Angel Face". And Marie Windsor. And Audrey Totter. And Ann Savage. And Jean Gillie. And Linda Darnell. And...

Of Lizabeth Scott's twenty films (she dropped the "E" on Elizabeth purposely) three-quarters were out of the smoke of film noir. No other actress appeared in more as a key element. She began in John Farrow's
You Came Along (1945) and retired from film no less than twelve years later alongside Elvis in his second film Loving You (1957). Personal troubles and controversy may have spurred this disappearance from the screen. She did appear one more time in 1972 with the film Pulp, but forget about it. Swim between 1945 and the next ten years with Lizabeth Scott.