Thursday, March 31, 2011




I grew up with horses and poems

when that was the time for that.

Then Ginsberg and Orlovsky

in the Fillmore West when

everybody was dancing. I sat

in the balcony with my legs

pushed through the railing,

watching Janis Joplin sing.

Women have houses now, and children.

I live alone in a kind of luxury.

I wake when I feel like it,

read what Rilke wrote to Tsvetaeva.

At night I watch the apartments

whose windows are still lit

after midnight. I fell in love.

I believed people. And even now

I love the yellow light shining

down on the dirty brick wall.

from In the Middle Distance

(Graywolf Press, 2006)
photo : flickr

Long before days dawned cynical, one after the other, and poets weren't as clinical, in fact they were truant and almost wanderers, and would admit easily to something like falling in love and believing in people, Linda Gregg grew up as a poet. It's made for her some immaculate and endearing poetry. I came upon one the other day, far from home, where I reached a book of poems down from a shelf and standing there minding my own business, just started to read.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Pinetop Perkins
Belzoni Mississippi July 7, 1913 – Austin, Texas March 21, 2011
legendary Delta blues musician ~ he was playing right to his last days

David "Honeyboy" Edwards
Shaw Mississippi June 28, 1915
still playing

photo : billboard
photo :






Tuesday, March 29, 2011


You'd be hard pressed to see the Kansas in Kansas-born Louise Brooks when she made two films for G.W. Pabst in the same year (1929), both genius classics — Pandora's Box and Diary of A Lost Girl — if anything she was all Berlin. In her short film career she made about twenty-five films, seventeen of those silent, and many of those now lost or damaged. Her first film was shot in 1925, a year after Kafka's death, and her last in 1938, pretty much a throw away western with John Wayne, whom she liked. The bulk of her starlight ranged over a handful of years, still unsurpassed. Elizabeth Taylor and later Hollywood would be like comparing a Robert Parker detective yarn with a deep Pacific deadly by Raymond Chandler, it just can't be done. With a hairstyle forever known as one of the ten most influential, and lovers ranging from Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo (I can probably stop there) to CBS founder William Paley, who had the benevolence to send her a stipend for life, which may have kept her alive for almost another half-century...when she grew out the famous bob hairstyle and looked very much the lean and tough rail Kansan.

It's an honor to show a clip from Lulu in Berlin (1984) with Louise Brooks chatting it up later in life. A film by the late Richard Leacock, another courageous sailor in the storyteller's art of celluloid. To imagine these two together is enough to ignite a romance of cinema. The love of pinpointing that ideal portrait and light.

photo LB :

Monday, March 28, 2011


Bob Kaufman


Pale brown Moses went down to Egypt land

To let somebody's people go.

Keep him out of Florida, no UN there:

The poor governor is all alone,

With six hundred thousand illiterates.

America, I forgive you ... I forgive you

Nailing back Jesus to an imported cross

Every six weeks in Dawson, Georgia.

America, I forgive you ... I forgive you

Eating black children, I know your hunger.

America, I forgive you ... I forgive you

Burning Japanese babies defensively —

I realize how necessary it was.

Your ancestor had beautiful thoughts in his brain.

His descendants are experts in real estate.

Your generals have mushrooming visions.

Every day your people get more and more

Cars, television, sickness, death dreams.

You must have been great


from Cranial Guitar
(Coffee House)

"My head is a bony guitar, strung with tongues, plucked by fingers & nails," is how Bob Kaufman once put it. One of the great improvisational poets, it was his wife Eileen Singe who put onto paper many of the poems Kaufman worked in the oral tradition. Born in Louisiana in 1925 and gone from us in 1986, Kaufman was one of the co-founders of
Beatitude after he moved to the San Francisco Bay region in 1958. His books have been solid showings from both City Lights and New Directions.

Sunday, March 27, 2011



Between sea-foam and the tide
his back rises
while afternoon in solitude
went down.

I held his black eyes, like grasses
among brown Pacific shells.

I held his fine lips
like a salt boiling in the sands.

I held, at last, his incense-chin
under the sun.

A boy of the world over me
and Biblical songs
modeled his legs, his ankles
and the grapes of his sex
and the raining hymns that sprang
from his mouth
entwining us like two seafarers
lashed to the uncertain sails of love.

In his arms, I live.
In his hard arms I longed to die
like a wet bird.



Entre la espuma y la marea
se levanta su espalda
cuando la tarde ya
iba cayendo sola.

Tuve sus ojos negros, como hierbas,
entre las conchas brunas del Pacifico.

Tuve sus labios finos
como una sal hervida en las arenas.

Tuve, en fin, su barbilla de incienso
bajo el sol.

Un muchacho del mundo sobre mi
y los cantares de la Biblia
modelaron sus piernas, sus tobillos
y las uvas del sexo
y los himnos pluviales que nacen de su boca
envolviendonos si como a dos nautas
enlazados al velamen incierto del amor.

Entre sus brazos, vivo.
Entre sus brazos duros quise morir
como un ave mojada.

translated by Kathleen Weaver

Nancy Morejón
Where the Island Sleeps Like A Wing
(Black Scholar Press, 1985)


Saturday, March 26, 2011


Roberto Bolaño


The books that I remember best are the ones I stole in Mexico City, between the ages of sixteen and nineteen, and the ones I bought in Chile when I was twenty, during the first few months of the coup. In Mexico there was an incredible bookstore. It was called the Glass Bookstore and it was on the Alameda. Its walls, even the ceiling, were glass. Glass and iron beams. From the outside, it seemed an impossible place to steal from. And yet prudence was overcome by the temptation to try and after a while I made the attempt.

The first book to fall into my hands was a small volume by [the nineteenth century erotic poet] Pierre Louÿs, with pages as thin as Bible paper, I can’t remember now whether it was Aphrodite or Songs of Bilitis. I know that I was sixteen and that for a while Louÿs became my guide. Then I stole books by Max Beerbohm (The Happy Hypocrite), Champfleury, Samuel Pepys, the Goncourt brothers, Alphonse Daudet, and Rulfo and Areola, Mexican writers who at the time were still more or less practicing, and whom I might therefore meet some morning on Avenida Niño Perdido, a teeming street that my maps of Mexico City hide from me today, as if Niño Perdido could only have existed in my imagination, or as if the street, with its underground stores and street performers had really been lost, just as I got lost at the age of sixteen.

From the mists of that era, from those stealthy assaults, I remember many books of poetry. Books by Amado Nervo, Alfonso Reyes, Renato Leduc, Gilberto Owen, Heruta and Tablada, and by American poets, like General William Booth Enters Into Heaven, by the great Vachel Lindsay. But it was a novel that saved me from hell and plummeted me straight back down again. The novel was The Fall, by Camus, and everything that has to do with it I remember as if frozen in a ghostly light, the still light of evening, although I read it, devoured it, by the light of those exceptional Mexico City mornings that shine—or shone—with a red and green radiance ringed by noise, on a bench in the Alameda, with no money and the whole day ahead of me, in fact my whole life ahead of me. After Camus, everything changed.

I remember the edition: it was a book with very large print, like a primary school reader, slim, cloth-covered, with a horrendous drawing on the jacket, a hard book to steal and one that I didn’t know whether to hide under my arm or in my belt, because it showed under my truant student blazer, and in the end I carried it out in plain sight of all the clerks at the Glass Bookstore, which is one of the best ways to steal and which I had learned from an Edgar Allan Poe story.

After that, after I stole that book and read it, I went from being a prudent reader to being a voracious reader and from being a book thief to being a book hijacker. I wanted to read everything, which in my innocence was the same as wanting to uncover or trying to uncover the hidden workings of chance that had induced Camus’s character to accept his hideous fate. Despite what might have been predicted, my career as a book hijacker was long and fruitful, but one day I was caught. Luckily, it wasn’t at the Glass Bookstore but at the Cellar Bookstore, which is—or was—across from the Alameda, on Avenida Juárez, and which, as its name indicates, was a big cellar where the latest books from Buenos Aires and Barcelona sat piled in gleaming stacks. My arrest was ignominious. It was as if the bookstore samurais had put a price on my head. They threatened to have me thrown out of the country, to give me a beating in the cellar of the Cellar Bookstore, which to me sounded like a discussion among neo-philosophers about the destruction of destruction, and in the end, after lengthy deliberations, they let me go, though not before confiscating all the books I had on me, among them The Fall, none of which I’d stolen there.

Soon afterwards I left for Chile. If in Mexico I might have bumped into Rulfo and Arreola, in Chile the same was true of Nicanor Parra and Enrique Lihn, but I think the only writer I saw was Rodrigo Lira, walking fast on a night that smelled of tear gas. Then came the coup and after that I spent my time visiting the bookstores of Santiago as a cheap way of staving off boredom and madness. Unlike the Mexican bookstores, the bookstores of Santiago had no clerks and were run by a single person, almost always the owner. There I bought Nicanor Parra’s Obra gruesa [Complete Works] and the Artefactos, and books by Enrique Lihn and Jorge Teillier that I would soon lose and that were essential reading for me; although essential isn’t the word: those books helped me breathe. But breathe isn’t the right word either.

What I remember best about my visits to those bookstores are the eyes of the booksellers, which sometimes looked like the eyes of a hanged man and sometimes were veiled by a kind of film of sleep, which I now know was something else. I don’t remember ever seeing lonelier bookstores. I didn’t steal any books in Santiago. They were cheap and I bought them. At the last bookstore I visited, as I was going through a row of old French novels, the bookseller, a tall, thin man of about forty, suddenly asked whether I thought it was right for an author to recommend his own works to a man who’s been sentenced to death.

The bookseller was standing in a corner, wearing a white shirt with the sleeves rolled up to the elbows and he had a prominent Adam’s apple that quivered as he spoke. I said it didn’t seem right. What condemned men are we talking about? I asked. The bookseller looked at me and said that he knew for certain of more than one novelist capable of recommending his own books to a man on the verge of death. Then he said that we were talking about desperate readers. I’m hardly qualified to judge, he said, but if I don’t, no one will.

What book would you give to a condemned man? he asked me. I don’t know, I said. I don’t know either, said the bookseller, and I think it’s terrible. What books do desperate men read? What books do they like? How do you imagine the reading room of a condemned man? he asked. I have no idea, I said. You’re young, I’m not surprised, he said. And then: it’s like Antarctica. Not like the North Pole, but like Antarctica. I was reminded of the last days of [Edgar Allan Poe’s] Arthur Gordon Pym, but I decided not to say anything. Let’s see, said the bookseller, what brave man would drop this novel on the lap of a man sentenced to death? He picked up a book that had done fairly well and then he tossed it on a pile. I paid him and left. When I turned to leave, the bookseller might have laughed or sobbed. As I stepped out I heard him say: What kind of arrogant bastard would dare to do such a thing? And then he said something else, but I couldn’t hear what it was.

This essay is drawn from Between Parentheses: Essays, Articles and Speeches (1998–2003) by Roberto Bolaño, translated by Natasha Wimmer, forthcoming from New Directions on May 30.

Seen as well in The New York Review of Books, MARCH 22, 2011

photo :

Friday, March 25, 2011


Holcombe Waller

From many accounts — a quiet artist on the path of glory, Holcombe's first record Advertising Space appeared in the late 90s, followed by Extravagant Gesture (2001), Troubled Times (2005), and Into the Dark Unknown (2008). He was a visiting artist in 2009 at the University of California/Berkeley and recently showed up in Austin at the annual bash South By Southwest.

photo :

Thursday, March 24, 2011


The terrible habit of theater.

Respect man's nature without wishing it more palpable than it is.

The ejaculatory force of the eye.

My movie is born first in my head, dies on paper; is resuscitated by the living persons and real objects I use, which are killed on film but, placed in a certain order and projected onto a screen, come to life again like flowers in water.

To create is not to deform or invent persons and things. It is to tie new relationships between persons and things which are, and as they are.

Radically suppress intentions in your models.

Shooting. Put oneself into a state of intense ignorance and curiosity, and yet see things in advance.

Passionate for the appropriate.

A whole made of good images can be detestable.

The noises must become music.

Your film — let people feel the soul and the heart there, but let it be made like a work of hands.

Don't run after poetry. It penetrates unaided through the joins (ellipses).

Someone who can work with the minimum can work with the most. One who can with the most cannot, inevitably, with the minimum.

Unbalance so as to re-balance.

Montaigne: The movements of the soul were born with the same progressions as those of the body.

Not artful, but agile.

Be the first to see what you see as you see it.

Dig into your sensation. Look at what there is within. Don't analyze it with words.Translate it into sister images, into equivalent sounds. The clearer it is, the more your style affirms itself (Style: whatever is not technique.)

Practice the precept: find without seeking.

Corot: One must not seek, one must wait.

The persons and the objects in your film must walk at the same pace, as companions.

It is in its pure form that an art hits hard.

Retouching the real with the real.

Cut what would deflect attention elsewhere.

Don't show all sides of the objects. A margin of indefiniteness.

The actor is double. The alternate presence of him and of the other is what the public has been schooled to cherish.

Make the objects look as if they want to be there.

I remember an old film: Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo. Life was suspended during thirty wonderful seconds, during which nothing happened. In reality, everything happened.

Ten properties of a subject, according to Leonardo: light and dark, color and substance, form and position, distance and nearness, movement and stillness.

Telephone. His voice makes him visible.

Bach at the organ, admired by a pupil, answered: "It's a matter of striking the notes at exactly the right moment."

These horrible days — when shooting film disgusts me, when I am exhausted, powerless in the face of so many obstacles — are part of my method of work.

One ought to be born with a special sense for reconciliation and harmony.

The things we bring off by chance — what powers they have!

translated Jonathan Griffin
(Urizen, 1975)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Elizabeth Taylor
(Feb 27, 1932 ~ March 23, 2011)

photo :


Rabindranath Tagore

Last Poems


I know life is sacred.
One knows not by what unseen path she has come,
Rising from the fountain of the Unknown,
And taken form in wondrous reality.
Filling his golden pitcher
The sun bathes and purifies life each morning.

The life has given voice
To the day, to the night;
It decks with flowers the temple
For the worship of the Unseen,
And in silent twilight
Kindles the lamp of evening.
Her first love
Life offered to the world.
At her golden touch
All my daily loves blossom forth —
I have loved my beloved,
I have loved the flowers of this world;
Whatever she touches,
She makes it her very own.
With a look she enters the world —
At first the pages are bare,
Gradually they fill,
And when the day ends
The picture becomes clear
And the beads of self-knowledge are strung together.
Then the heedless artist
Draws a black line
Through the letters;
But a few remain —
Those in letters of gold.
They shine along with the Pole Star —
A delight to the heavens.

25 April 1941

from Wings of Death
the last poems of Rabindranath Tagore
translated from the Bengali by
Aurobindo Bose
(John Murray)

A Bengali mystic, philosopher, poet and music composer, Rabindranath Tagore was born in 1861 and passed away in 1941 writing poems right up until the end. Known to write a poem every day, he dictated one the day of his final surgery from which he never regained conscious. In 1913 he won the Nobel Prize for poetry. These last poems, during the years when the poet was in chronic illness, are considered some of his finest work. He died in the home where he was raised.

Natalia Manzurova, one of the few survivors among those directly involved in the long cleanup of Chernobyl, was a 35-year-old engineer at a nuclear plant in Ozersk, Russia, in April 1986 when she and 13 other scientists were told to …

Tuesday, March 22, 2011




Whorehouse, and all you backroom soldier boys,
nine pillars down from the Brothers of the Beanie,
you think you're the only ones who've got the tool?
Do the girls hand you special screwing permits?
You call the rest of us a herd of goats?
Well listen, I'll hand the whole crew of you,
200 at a time, sitting in a row with your feet
in your mouth, something better to suck on —
I'll plaster pricks all over the walls!
Because this girl of mine, who ran out on me,
(no girl will ever get the loving I gave her)
a girl who got me into one fight after another,
ends up inside, and all you high society glamor boys
sleep with her, which is a dirty shame, because
you're a pack of crawling, back-alley sneak fuckers.
But the worst of the lot, of all you curly headed wonders,
is that Celtiberian refugee from the rabbit country,
Egnatius. He's a black bearded phony, and on top of this,
he brushes his teeth with Spanish piss.


Egnatius has white teeth, that's why
he's always smiling. Go to court
when the lawyer's got the crowd in tears,
he smiles. At a family funeral,
a mother weeping at a grave of her only son,
he smiles. Whatever or wherever it is,
you name it, he smiles. It's sick
if you ask me, not nice or even civilized.
So let me tell you something Egnatius my man.
You could be Roman or Sabine or Tiburtine,
an Umbrian skinflint or a fat assed Etruscan,
or some bucktoothed black from Lanuvium,
or a Transpadane, just to mention my own,
anyone who cleans his teeth with fresh water,
and I still couldn't take your smiling all the time —
I mean there's nothing dumber than a dumb smile.
But now you're Celtiberian. In Celtiberian country
they take a leak and save it for the morning
to brush their teeth and rub their gum up red,
so the whiter and brighter your teeth sparkle,
the more piss of yours we know you've been drinking.

Selected Poems of Catullus
translated by Carl Sesar
(Mason & Libscomb, 1974)

Catullus was born in the town of Verona, 250 miles north of Rome, in about 84 B.C. He lived and wrote in both Rome and Verona, stayed at times in Tibur, a suburb of Rome, and at Sirmio, a peninsula in present-day Lake Garda, and traveled as far as Bithynia and a few other places out in Asia Minor. He died at the age of 30 or so, in about 54 B.C. Of his works, a total of 113 poems and a few fragments survive.

(thanks Steven)

Monday, March 21, 2011


...the other day

photos © bob arnold

After four months of woods life snow ice and mud we took a car trip in the right direction for almost a summer day. Same earth.

Sunday, March 20, 2011



Every father is old —

Bad news has him

Cry for his children

Every mother is young —

Her old earth is born

Every day

photo © bob arnold

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Lafcadio Hearn, one of the truly exotic lives (27 June 1850-26 Sept 1904) wrote some of his greatest work from years living in New Orleans, and later Japan, where his reputation grew legendary. His many books of supernatural, folk tales and wonder include Glimpses of Unfamiliar (1894), Gleanings in Buddha-fields (1897), Kwaidan (1903)...years later transferred into the classic film.




One day the Earth will be
just a blind space turning,
night confused with day.
Under the vast Andean sky
there'll be no more mountains,
not a rock or ravine.

Only one balcony will remain
of all the world's buildings,
and of the human mappa mundi,
limitless sorrow.
In place of the Atlantic Ocean,
a little saltiness in the air,
and a fish, flying and magical
with no knowledge of the sea.

In a car of the 1900s (no road
for its wheels) three girls
of that time, pressing onwards
like ghosts in the fog.
They'll peer through the door
thinking they're nearing Paris
when the odor of the sky
grips them by the throat.

Instead of a forest
there'll be one bird singing,
which nobody will ever place,
or prefer, or even hear.
Except for God, who listening out,
proclaims it a goldfinch.

translated from the French by Monica Alvi


Jules Supervielle (16 Jan 1884 ~ 17 May 1960) was a French poet and writer born in Uruguay.