Saturday, April 30, 2011
Friday, April 29, 2011
— a founding member of Amnesty International and to my mind an elegant spirit and mind at work, and for decades, for human rights and health, poetry, and the mother of four with her late husband the writer William Styron. The latter often over shadows the gifts of Rose Styron, but not really, since she gives fully to the work and now memory of her husband of over a half-century. On a hope, I once wrote to Rose Styron for some of her poems to include in the Origin sixth series I was collecting and editing in memory of its founder Cid Corman. She gave immediately and generously, without the usual latchings of a contract. I was a stranger tapping at the back door for a small handout, and she was just the type to answer and give generously. I trust we returned the favor.
on his pedestal is sad.
Form Moscow to Chicago,
Paris to Damascus,
Capetown to Saigon,
lovers cry out to him
“Sing, sing for us, Pushkin!
The world is mad.
No one can hear our song.”
From Harlem to Havana,
Lima to Prague,
in snow-laced Leningrad
“Give us your land!
Fiercely we’ll guard and glorify
it as you taught us.
Trust us. Trust us.”
Lovers are never wrong.
The world is mad.
Through parks of iron,
forests of bone and chain,
lovers are crying,
“Find us, Pushkin, sing for us,
unhinge the door!
Our view is honor
but we miss
each other and the trees
and all those promises.
How long we’ve had
trysts to keep under your hand.
And lovers cry,
“Should we have known
there’d be no other chance?”
After such deaths as these
(the world is mad)
one love may meet
another, even dance
in Pushkin Square
but that love dare not be
stone flowers spring
from street to sky.
if you cannot sing for us
those stone years
© rose styron
ORIGIN, sixth series
edited by bob arnold
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
The bus let him off at the end of Parish Road
he walked past our house every night of the week
it was a dry town, working men
who wanted a drink had to go down to The Falls
and some women, they all had to get the last bus
up Central Ave.
He's drunk, ain't he?
No, my mother said, he's not drunk.
He doesn't drink any more, my father
said, not like he used to. Once in a while
he'll take a drink but that's all.
He walks like a drunk.
No, my father said, Charlie used to be an alky
but he walks like that because he was burnt.
You can't see it, my mother said, unless you get close
to his hands, but his legs
and part of his body are burned. He
can't help but walk that way.
He fell asleep smoking, my father said, the mattress
caught fire. Murray saved his life.
Saved the house too.
That's what makes him limp so.
He's a nice man, my mother said. He was always
a nice man, even when he was drinking.
They both are, those two,
they don't bother anybody.
(Listening Chamber, 1995)
Down from his hometown of Boston, Massachusetts, Duncan McNaughton wrote his first poem in Provincetown in 1961. Fifty years later he's going strong. There seems a conscientious pacing and rhythm between books; I recommend each one. The Poetics Program at the New College of San Francisco well remembers his contribution, as well as other Bay area events, in Europe, and his work in the mimeo generation as editor of both Fathar and Mother.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Monday, April 25, 2011
Miss Crick's Workshop
or pearl -
Bryan Broom's Room
Anything may, with strict propriety
be called perfect
which perfectly answers
the purpose for which
it was made:
a packet of seeds
in the folds
in a glass
the dry blue
the fine grass
of these dunes
of the sea
in a casement
as the braid
of a bird's
in the snow
from the shelves of
the alternative bookshop
the plans for
a dexion wheelbarrow
selected from SEEPAGES
The Jargon Society (1988)
Saturday, April 23, 2011
A North Carolina folklorist, lawyer, musician — what a cherished combination once upon a time!
Banjo and fiddler.
He first recorded this song the year my father was born, and then again in the late 40s.
Everyone of note has copied it, which is what you do in America to get ahead.
Friday, April 22, 2011
Thursday, April 21, 2011
poem in july
water falls from the cup of a hand
late the moons silhouette behind clouds
wind in this hour
is the sound of a young girls dress
mist on the hair of her arms
her face sudden petal
trees cross the fields alone
windrows of new mown hay
a bird flies into her sleep
scent of rain
the wind pauses
knowing she is the sky
from Selected Poems 1970-1983
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
We saw first how the traffic was coming at us
Monday morning, a week of school vacation
And all this traffic, from where?
The closer we got to town, the more it appeared jumbled
Big pickup trucks and impatient drivers
Some frightened looks behind windshields
Then we saw the center of town was struck
A large fire on main street finally damped down
At the most elegant and historic section
Five floors, brick facade, slate roofing
Flames jumped for their lives for hours out the busted windows
Fire's devilish horns out the roof
Hysteria in the center of civilization
150 firefighters from three states were called in
Two million gallons of water was hosed
Firefighters were sent to the hospital
It was night time and a full moon was rising over our wooded hillsides
In the aftermath, in daylight, you could tell the different
Firefighters and towns by their different colored uniforms
Otherwise, all were equal all were spent
Water washed everywhere
Heavy smoke and water damage to all the stores on the bottom floor
This includes a thoughtful bath and kitchen boutique I went into once
An Asian craftsman, a Middle Eastern seller of fine delights, a restaurant that
Started as a bank where we obtained our house mortgage eons ago
Two shops at least that have just finished complete remodeling
Back to mud
And a legendary bookshop that shelved some of my books and much more
All that water used on the fire above---had to go somewhere---down
My wife and I walk up the startled main street closed to traffic
It now takes a state of emergency to find a town this quiet and humbled
Town folk walk dazed bewildered searching recalling sickened lost found
The closer we get to the building my wife holds me by the arm
Thirty years ago she worked here
When I look around I see behind us a young couple huddled, new to me
I don't know them but I do know them, she points high to
A blackened window for her companion's sake, and cries
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Monday, April 18, 2011
The Nameless Numbers: Counting Wolves, Counting Sheep
for Wolf 314F
“Through the centuries, we have projected onto the wolf
the qualities we most despise and fear in ourselves.”
—Barry Lopez, Of Wolves and Men
They killed her, those bastards, she with no name except Wolf 314F. They killed her with Compound 1080, laced inside the leg meat of a dead deer. Of a sheep. Colorless salt, used as metabolic poison. Convulsions, dizziness, uncontrollable running. Vomiting, hyperextension of the limbs, unbearable pain. She died alone on a quiet Colorado road. Dirt. Ranch hands at the slack. Twenty-four miles north of Rifle. Picture that as you try to count yourself to sleep. Count the unlaced sheep populating your eye, the salted sheep dropped from planes that should make you want to die.
Let’s talk numbers. Let’s say the effectiveness of sodium fluoroacetate as a rodenticide and mammalian predacide was reported in 1942. Let’s talk science. Let’s say the number 1080 refers to the catalog name of the poison. Let’s say sodium fluoroacetate occurs naturally in at least 40 plants in Australia, Brazil, and Africa. That it’s so powerful, a teaspoon could kill 100 people. That it’s classified as a chemical weapon in France. In Spain. Count with me, repeat: 1942, 1080, 40, 100. 314F. Numbers say, Stick to the numbers. Forget her name. Let’s say one, two, buckle my knee. Shoo fly, don’t bother to bite this plague perfectly into us. Kick the canine bitch into a ditch, they say, where wolves can no longer whelp.
Okay, you bastards, let’s talk numbers. She had traveled through four states. Logged more than 1,000 miles from her Montana home. She had howled with five others from the Mill Creek Pack, had left Yellowstone, alone, to find a mate. She had nannied and licked three pups from new-birth blind into joyful uncoordinated tumbling toughs. She had precisely seven and a half whiskers on the muzzle of her snow-mount face.
Gray. 314F was gorgeous gray. Beautiful bark of the lovely dark. Moving in moonlight across snow. Shadow of a secret self. A cloud-covered moon across all that cold. So much is falling from the sky. Such lost sleep. So many pieces we count as we shake ourselves awake. The project entails distributing fluoroacetate-baited meat from the air. Sheep, deer, belly of the calf.
They killed her and she had no name. They killed her and she licked the salt. They killed her and she convulsed into yelps. They killed her with the meat of something dead. Sheep, sheep, they count the sheep. In bed. They are already dead themselves.
Numbers? You want to hold the entire painful equation? In your mouth? They shear the sheep and buy a wool shirt. Exhaust the hens and lay a college fund. Drive the cattle to market to lace the table with steak. Nothing is as simple as good and wrong, right and bad. Uncomplicated as addition adding up to subtraction. But poison, I say, is poison. Never ranch-worthy. Convulsions, always cruel.
Numbers? You want numbers? The numb numb numbing of primordial deep? Cut the sleep mask open into complete darkness. Count the sleep medicines moaning in the sink. Remember in your insomniatic sexual urge that each lamb jumping the gate can drop a wolf permanently dead.
They killed her, and she had no name. (I would have called her Elsa or Shadow.) They killed her, careful, on a Colorado road. They killed her in Rifle without a gun. They killed what was once a young tumbling pup. They killed the shadow of the shadow’s sleep. Alone. Elegant. Gray. They killed the lovely of the lovely dark. Shame on them. Shame. Shame shame shame on them. I give this to them, those bastards—dropping into their sleep this leg meat of words laced with cyanide, with strychnine, with 1080 grains of the cruelest salt of everlasting blame.
~ George Kalamaras
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Saturday, April 16, 2011
It was the custom of my tribe to be silent,
to think the song inwardly, tune and word
so beautiful they could be only held,
not sung; held and heard
in quietness while walking the end of the field
where birches make a grove, or standing by the rail
in back of the library in some northern
city, or in the long dream of a tower
of gothic stoniness; and always we were alone.
Yet sometimes two
heard it, two separately together. It could come
nearby in the shadow of a pine bough
on the snow, or high in the orchestral lights,
or maybe (this was our miracle) it would have no
from Brothers, I Loved You All
(Sheep Meadow Press)
Ever the New Englander, born in Connecticut in 1921, Hayden Carruth lived the last few decades of his life teaching and getting by in and around Syracuse, New York. A work horse technician with the long poem, narrative, essay, jazz portraits and as a longtime editor in the field. The poem above comes from his seminal long poem "Paragraphs", written during his richest (I'm biased) years in Vermont.
photo : nndb.com
Friday, April 15, 2011
It's been a long winter of isolation, snow shoveling, snowshoe hiking and publishing many new booklets see here.
Bob's new book of back country life YOKEL is out and circulating, and we're working on forty years of Bob's love poems to be published in early 2012.
All the while B. has been reading aloud American noir novels to Sweetheart (and anyone else over hearing in the laundromat, in the truck, parking lots, kitchen, thawing porch): Chandler, Cain, Goodis, Fearing, Thompson, Himes. Hardcore.
With Scott and Helen Nearing scholar Greg Joly we are preparing a small book of nonfiction by Helen Nearing ~ Helen's reminiscences of an old-timer they met on the Maine coast when they arrived there from Vermont in the 1950s. A previously unpublished piece with black and white photographs.
For anyone interested we are working on the literary archive of old family friend Janine Pommy Vega, who passed away late in 2010. We all miss Janine. Bob is Janine's executor. Bob is also the literary executor for both Lorine Niedecker and Cid Corman. We have recently released a new booklet by Cid of his personal ink stamps used on all his correspondence, and for those who ever received a letter from Cid, you know just what we are talking about. This one is titled Chop.
A new and extra large Longhouse booklet has been issued of Janine's last poems
Walking Woman With The Tambourine.
We're always working on moving Lorine into all corners of the world. And many help us along.
New booklets of all sizes are also ready from John Bradley Fordtopia, and Ken McCullough Diet for the Smallest Planet, plus a palm-size booklet of Li Po translated by JP Seaton, ideal for that spring hike in the woods. New poems by Hanne Bramness in Norway will be issued in May.
So, we're busy and mainly outdoors, and in the night and on rain days, we'll build the Birdhouse.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Dock Boggs was born Moran Lee "Dock" Boggs in 1898 and died on his birthday in 1971. Two of Dock's classic songs were on Harry Smith's 1951 Anthology of American Folk Music. A coal miner most of his life, Dock Boggs began recording in the 20s and like many treasures hidden away in the hills, he stayed hidden while working his trade and living with his back and hands. He was one more discovery in the 1960s from the youthful pursuit of musicians like Mike Seeger, who sought out their folk heroes to perform again live and likewise head into the studios to record. A round of applause for this good sense. Virginia born, the youngest of ten children, Dock Boggs drew much of his music from the landscape and those found therein: African-American itinerant players, camps, stories heard around the table, in the field. All his recordings are gems, perhaps the easiest to be found are on the Folkways and Smithsonian labels.
An excellent piece on the coal miner and "up-picking" banjo player by Jack Wright may be found on the link below.
I also include, w/ pleasure, Kaleidoscope at work.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
[posted by Susan]
Recently Banned Literature
Site updates, poetry, notes, and marginalia by William Michaelian
[Monday, April 11, 2001 post]
Monday, April 11, 2011
BORN TYING KNOTS
When he came out, into the world,
the umbilical cord
was around his toes.
This didn't trouble us,
that he was tying knots THAT EARLY.
We untied it.
Later, he heard his birth
It caused him to begin tying knots again.
He tied things up near his home,
TIGHT, as if everything might float away
in a river.
This river came from
a dream he had.
House things were tied up
at night. Shirts, other clothes, too,
and a kettle. All those things
were tied to his feet
so they wouldn't float away
in the river he dreamed.
You could walk in
and see this.
Maybe the dream stopped
because it was no longer comfortable
to sleep with shirts tied to him.
Or a kettle.
After the dream stopped,
he quit tying things,
EXCEPT for the one night he tied up
a small fire.
Tied up a small-stick fire!
The fire got loose its own way.
QUIET UNTIL THE THAW
Her name tells of how
it was with her.
The truth is, she did not speak
Everyone learned not to
ask her questions in winter,
once this was known about her.
The first winter this happened
we looked in her mouth to see
if something was frozen. Her tongue
maybe, or something else in there.
But after the thaw she spoke again
and told us it was fine for her that way.
So each spring we
looked forward to that.
WALKED TOWARD THE LYNX
He knew a lynx has two voices.
There is one that is a growl
and can teach a baby pheasant to fly QUICKLY,
and frightens us too, sometimes.
And one other voice. It is when a lynx
scratches its claws on bark.
This boy would hear that scratching
and walk toward it.
If he was a lynx-ear
he could have heard it CLOSE UP!
Or a whisker.
Which is what
he wanted, I think.
I saw him climb trees where he'd seen
a lynx, and find the place
where the scratch marks were left.
Then he would rub his fingers over them.
One finger at a time, gently,
or all of them at once.
His fingers heard the lynx talk again
TOOK HONEY WITH HIS FACE
He knew how bears got away
with it. He watched one
stick her nose deep in a hive
and get good honey on the face.
He knew this way
So he dressed that way too,
with an old bear skin all over him
and mud-leaves on his face and hands.
AND STUCK HIS FACE IN A HIVE!
STUCK HIS FACE IN!
Got his feet stung.
But he got honey that way.
No one told him to use the wet
to get out those bees.
No one told him this for a long time.
They liked watching his way
He took honey that way
a few times.
Then someone told him
how to use smoke.
Or he saw it done
She had large ears, and this seemed
to please her. Even the time a man
joked at her ears
and said they were BATS,
she chose to believe it!
She said to him, "Yes. You are right. They are bats!
I'm glad you came to tell me.
And I will send them into your house
THIS VERY NIGHT to hover
and listen over your face!"
This quickly stopped
Also, she liked to listen to large sounds
with those large ears.
Maybe the two things
Before storms, she would sit along the edge
of a lake, EVEN AFTER IT BEGAN RAINING,
to listen to thunder!
Sometimes she shouted back
to it, "Louder! I can hardly hear you!"
Even though the rest of us
had our hands over our ears, as we sat
Listening with our smaller ears.
WHO ONCE LIVED ALONE
One summer this boy chose to live
by himself. It was never a secret, no, he just
said, "I'm going to live
by the next lake, to the north."
We could tell he had thought about it
a long time. He built a dwelling there.
It had rain fall on it, and had sun fall on it.
And the foxes didn't try to move in,
so, then for certain, it was his home.
He lived there all summer. We seldom heard him,
or knew where he was, except some nights
we knew he was out on the lake
because the loons were quiet.
There also were nights we wondered
how well he was eating, and that's when we walked
to where he lived.
Walked out at night to see
the bending pole. It was a pole
he had stuck in the ground.
This came about because he fished with long
stick poles, and he had stuck one of them
in the ground near his dwelling. After each day's fishing,
he bent that pole to let us know his luck.
When it was bent low by the rocks tied to its string,
we knew he was catching fish.
When the pole was straight up,
we left fish for him.
I've always watched
turtles. One lived around here,
the one who caused my name.
At an early age I waited for turtles
to come up on their logs.
Everyone knew this
about me. I'd wait. Wait. And one turtle
would be the last out of the water. He had
moss, mud, sometimes sticks on his back
and he was a slow one.
Other turtle watchers gave up. But I would
wait until he came out
to tell me things
and no one else.
So, in that way he caused my name.
The last one to wait for.
Up on his rock or log.
from BORN TYING KNOTS
Swampy Cree Naming Stories
Bear Claw Press (1976)
NAMINGS: AN INTRODUCTION
Two weeks travel on foot, northeast from Lake Winnipeg. Along certain stretches of one river here, Echoing River, trees come right down to the rocky banks forming acoustic corridors. You can echo your voice best here. The Cree call these places Mwoakoopawmiko tuskwi, or "Loon-wind-throats," for the eery vibratos that are sent out among the rock, air, water and trees. The sound of a duck splashing with its wings as it lifts from the river echoes a long way. So does a moose call, or the human voice.
There's a place near Split Lake, named Achewita hotoowuk, or "Their-horns-are-locked," after a stand of trees whose branches are intertwined high up. From a distance they look like great racks of antlers.
The whole of the country is in effect an oral map, for the specific place-names should be spoken aloud upon arriving at each one. This way you bring alive what happened, or still happens, there. When you arrive at a place, and live there in an attentive manner, you see where its name comes from. "Many-weather-place," "Place-otters-slide-to-the-left," and on.
* * *
In Cree the lynx is called Pi'sew, or "Wild Cat." But there is an older name. Sometimes it shows up during the telling of a Wichikapache ("trickster") story, about a time when only totem animals and Wichikapache roamed the earth. The language gets older during these stories. Often, when the lynx is mentioned, he is called: "Cat-who-nightly-screams-from-high-trees." Think, if you will, what this name encompasses in terms of the compactness of the Cree language, what specific knowledge it has gathered in, then how this knowledge it has gathered in, then how this knowledge places the lynx into thelarger realm of life: a classificatory system. We know it's a cat.* We know one of his voices. We know one time to listen, one place to look for him.
Now, if you want or need it to, comes a moment when this old lynx name leads you out into its world. You have the particulars preserved in the name: you can take them out into the trees. Then wait. Probably you will wait many nights.** Sometimes it works, you see a lynx. Or think you hear one. Most times the cat huddles quiet, or is padding around far from you. But by waiting there, in one place, you feel something of where the animal lives. You know the name better then. And that it came from others like you who waited, watched, recalled by telling you about the lynx.
* * *
The personal name-origins translated in this little book (selections above, ed.) were told to me by Samuel Makidemewabe, a Swampy Cree elder. He lived several places in northcentral manitoba Province, Canada. It's a vast lake, muskeg, dense boreal forest region. One of his jobs in the community he lived most often in, was to chronicle in stories how certain people earned their names during childhood. For the names included here are kuskatchikaos, or "earned" names. Makidemewabe wasn't present for all the incidences from which these names came from. He was right there for some of them. With the others, basic information was brought to him. These stories, then, illuminate every storyteller's option to embellish as long as the necessary core of historical fact is clearly presented. Every teller knows this about his craft. Some of these people whose names I was gifted to hear about are still alive. The youngest is many Talks who is about eighty. The woman named Quiet Until The Thaw is alive, and others. Some of these people I never was introduced to, except through these stories which certainly are intimate in their own ways. Makidemewabe said, "To say the name is to begin the story," which leads you into this book.
* Not to be taken for granted, as the Cree classification of animals is often complex. Bats are birds. Otters may be fish if, say in a story, they are talking underwater to fish, etc.
** Say the name over to yourself, in different voices, in melodies, and you have a lynx-song to wait with.
I share all of this from an original pamphlet, close to me, published by Bear Claw Press once upon a time in simple spool binding and now age-toned papers. Slowly but surely the book is moving back to the earth. (BA)
Sunday, April 10, 2011
photo : Vincent Yu/Associated Press
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Small Prayer for Fallen Angels
too many of my friends are junkies
too many of my psychic kin tattoo invisible revelations on themselves
signing their manifestos to etheric consciousness with little
hoofprint scars stretching from fingertip to fingertip
a gory religiosity akin to Kali's sacred necklace of fifty human heads
Kali-Ma, Kali-Mother; Kali-Ma, Kali-Mother
too many of my friends are running out of blood, their veins
are collapsing, it takes them half an hour to get a hit
their blood whispers through their bodies, singing its own death chant
in a voice of fire, in a voice of glaciers, in a voice of sand that blows
Kali-Ma, remember the giving of life as well as the giving of death
Kali-Ma, remember the desire is for enlightenment and not oblivion
Kali-Ma, their bones are growing light; help them to fly
Kali-Ma, their eyes burn with the pain of fire; help them that they see
with clear sight
Kali-Ma, their blood sings to death to them; remind them of life
that they be born once more
that they slide bloody through the gates of yes, that
they relax their hands nor try to stop the movement of the flowing now
too many of my friends have fallen into the white heat of the only flame
may they fly higher; may there be no end to flight
from Word Alchemy
Grove Press, 1967
By the time she had moved to San Francisco in 1960, Lenore Kandel had published three very short collections of poetry (now extremely rare) having been born in New York City in 1932, her father the author of the hardboiled classic City in Conquest. In the movies it starred James Cagney. It all makes sense to Lenore Kandel who rode with the Hell's Angels, was exotic provocateur of The Love Book and for decades on end kept her reputation as an author on that slim dynamo of a book and Word Alchemy ~ no two books in the poetry world like them.