Alden Nowlan

I’d forgotten how deeply I was influenced by the poetry of Alden Nowlan until I bought a copy of his collected poems for myself a year or so ago. My shelf is so extensive it’s taken me until this year to start reading it. It is a doorstopper. When asked what Canadian poets influenced me early on I would say Margaret Atwood, Susan Musgrave. 

Nowlan’s writing is conversational I guess I didn’t think of him as someone to mention. He didn’t write capital P poetry. I’d read others like Milton Acorn, Al Purdy but they didn’t stick to me the way Nowlan did.

In reading this collection I recognize that my usually conversational style come directly from him. He wrote about ordinary things, cows in a field, the smell of a hospital bed and fashion them into powerful moments. He was also a master of the end line, as I tend to be, that turns what one has just read, on its head to reframe everything.

 

I also have his CBC recording Alden Nowlan’s Maritimes – in which he reads some of his poetry one one side, the other side is a radio play based on one his short stories. I did meet him once when I was at the University of New Brunswick summer writing workshop. He didn’t lead any workshops but some of us were invited to his home to talk about our poetry. He was most encouraging.

 

Next to Dylan Thomas there is no greater influence I can think of on my poetic vision.

Arachnologic Romance

what’s that word

you know the one

that you call a kiss

that feels like walking 

into a dew jewelled spider web

on a sunny day

while looking in the basement 

for that lost sock

you know that word

 

that kiss 

that slip of the tongue

that tip of the tail

wagging excitedly

yet with a vague damp unease

at the same time

wanting to give in

yet feeling it’s all too sudden

too stuck on your face

while one hand reaches up 

to brush the spider web off

the other wants to fondle the spider

 

what is that word

I have to get the right word

for that sensational sensation

also a word for that rapidly

elusive need for the right word

I have to tell you all this

in exactly the right tone of voice 

if I don’t

it may never happen again

I may never find that sock

I’ll have to go with one foot bare

on this chilled concrete floor

while other in snug in a sock

trying to balance that tightrope

of grit under one foot

and comfy protection on the other

 

when did I lose that sock

when did I do laundry last 

don’t I have another pair

upstairs in a safe room

in neat rows in a drawer

no it has to be these socks

the ones you like to pull off my feet

with your teeth

 

you like to undress me

kiss each bared part

my outline in your silver silva

draws me into that web

the bad at the centre

where we devour each other

without a second thought

what about the the other sock

 

the word has escape me

I thought I had it trapped

like your tongue

held firmly in my grasp

as it slips slides

elusive fleshy fragments

tender mysteries

and all I can think about

is the tender shock of 

cobweb on my face

don’t want it to get into my eyes

bad enough 

it has caressed my lips

it has a dusty sooty taste

is it hygienic 

can I catch insect infection

eating a cobweb

one hand darts up to brush it away

but stops when I see 

the spider scuttle away

back into the dark

shocked by the size of this catch

not ready to crawl across my shoulders

the way you do so well

not ready to take the seed

and play it into new shapes 

along my stomach

each breath slithering cool trails

laughing at the moment

 

turning over in the bed

looking for our clothe

time for clean socks

the other must be in the laundry

I’ll be right back

only I’m stuck here

caught in a loss for words

looking for a definition

that will wind you around me forever

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6


http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday 2019


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

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Émile Zola

Nana was my introduction to Émile Zola. I bought a copy of it way back in the 70’s when I was living in Cape Breton. It floored me. I knew he was writing, publishing in France at the same time Dickens was publishing in England. Both wrote about class, labour, family but that’s where the resemblance ends. Zola wrote adult fiction full of drugs, druggies, adulterers, prostitution, social disease and nice people too.

Nana floored me with its frank sexuality. No classic novel I’d read by Scott, Stevenson, even Dostoyevsky approached this level of sexuality. At points he delves into the lesbian subculture of Paris that still amazes me today. It certainly wasn’t what I expected in a novel of that time & also showed me that there is a hidden gay history too. Nana uses her sexuality to move up and down the class ladder. In fact all the women in Zola novels are clearly sexual beings, not always in control of it, not always giving into it.

He has a great grasp of human psychology from a time when human psychology wasn’t even a field of study. I have, on my Kindle, the complete works – which I hope to finish before I die 🙂 He was prolific & as a result as popular as Dickens. I bought the complete works to get the novels that are out-of-print in translation. As a result I can’t commune ton his ability as a stylist – the translations are good enough for me. His plotting is solid. Went, or more of them, are a family saga that rivals any daytime soap. The family tree of his fictional family is impressive, as was his ability to keep it organized. He was a social commentator who spared no one.

If you are unfamiliar I would recommend Thérèse Raquin, (http://wp.me/p1RtxU-Cx) or Nana. Germinal is also amazing & inspired my novel Coal Dusters – good too are L’Assommoir and La Bête humaine.

 

Plus he was very handsome: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Émile_Zola#/media/File:Émile_Zola_by_Carjat.jpg 

The Fault In My Chromosomes

there is a theory

that when the first atomic bomb 

was exploded

the molecular structure of life 

of our dna

as we know it 

was changed

 

there’s always some explanation

for what went wrong

the first match

the first man 

who looked at the moon

and thought 

that’s not god

why am I blood-letting goats

to make sure

the moon will rise again

to insure sure we get good crops

 

us assuming that there is 

some secret level of control

we can manifest 

if we find the right path

we can work down 

to the chromosomal level of life

get at the delicate tissue

to harness it 

or our our personal gratification

then everything would work out swell

 

no war

no struggle

no hunger disease

no TV – that’s going too far

what if the atomic structure of life 

was changed by the first TV broadcast

what if those beams

were controlling us humans

telling us what to say

what to wear 

what to eat

when to go out

how many layers of clothing we need

that would never happen

we can’t be manipulated

at the cellular level by a cell phone

electronic conveniences are our tools

we aren’t their tools

they do our bidding

they have no control over who we love

over how often we hook up

they don’t conspire against us

we are in control at all times

we can turn them off 

see I’ve set my cell phone to no ring 

I can leave it that way for hours

often I don’t even check for texts

some people can’t imagine that at all

somedays I don’t turn on my TV for hours

don’t check my email

I am always in control of my universe

 

when the first atomic bomb

was exploded

molecular structure was changed

so I am not responsible for my actions

nothing is ever my fault

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6


http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday 2019


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2019’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

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Big Dickens

I have the complete Dickens on my shelf – paperback & hardcover. The paperbacks are Penguin classics with lots of notes. Some of the hardcovers are the classic Oxford editions. My Nicholas Nickleby is a 2 volume reproduction of the original serialized version that includes the ads etc. Some of the books I have read more than once. I have also sat through various Masterpiece Theatre explorations of the novels, seen movies & musicals of same & have Five of the Christmas books also as mp3s. I have resisted downloading the entire works as ebook.

I’m not sure which Dickens was the first I actually read – probably A Christmas Carol, though it could have been Oliver Twist, or was the Pickwick Papers? There was one of the Pickwick stories in out high school English literature text. The one where they go skating. I was in focused pursuit at one time of getting everything, even the obscure ones, like Master Humphrey’s Clock.

It was the boy hero that captivated me. I didn’t recognize the accuracy of his depiction of the poverty of time though. Recent readings show how unstinting he was with that cultural context. People caught up in journeys, quests in following their dreams & hopes. He was a master plotter who did count on coincidence a bit much, & often fell back on the long lost relative, but who cares.

What still inspires me about him is his ability to create complex, human villains i.e. Mr. Murdstone, Daniel Quilp, Uriah Heep, Bill Sykes. He had a gift for names that rivals Shakespeare’s. His heroes were too good to be real, his women either good little wives, generous relatives or harsh thanks to the men in their lives. His narrative structure was simple, almost formulaic, stories were told in linear movements, with some backstory when needed.

I’ve always like the fact that he was an unabashed sentimentalist and that as a writer he had no compunction in manipulating the readers emotions. When I realized he wrote drafts by hand – let that sink in a little – by hand – I was staggered. Of course he was being usually paid by the word so his books did get rather long. But his shorter works are also stunning: Hard Times is one of his best works.

Day and Night

day never holds me 

as fully as the night

in light there is always

a part that doesn’t get revealed

doesn’t get illuminated

turn as fast as I can

part of me is always in shadow

 

light is not the total lover

always leaves one part untouched

night covers all

nothing gets omitted 

over-looked

holds me in toto

comforting tender complete

caressing even where I cannot see

I was submerged and protected

no night burn for me 

for being too long naked in its glance

but I do welcome the sun

the energy released in my flesh and bones

by the ignition of my skin

 

if I had to make choice 

between night and day

as to which would be the better lover

I couldn’t say

day brings flowers

night brings stars

both return despite 

my placid display of cliches

tender is the night

bright is the day

as one retreats 

to make way for the other

I am saddened

I want to hold them both

straddle those slippery moments

when one makes way

gracefully stepping aside 

they do not fight 

to see who will be next

there is no resentment

that I have taken each 

in their own time

that I give myself equally to them

give myself without question 

without doubt

so do not make me choice

 

when I die

will I go into the light

or merely roll over 

into the comforting dark

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6


http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday 2019


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2019’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

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Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson may not have invented the paranormal investigation genre but her novel ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ certainly made it an economically viable film genre. There is a history of pulp fiction psychic detectives which is worth searching out but they all involve solving & debunking in a crime context. Some treat the paranormal as real other as fraud. In The Haunting there is no crime & Jackson allows the reader to draw their own conclusions but one feels she was on the side of ‘ghosts’ being real.

 

Her life was a nightmare in & of itself. A domineering, womanizing husband who controlled her earnings, because as a fragile woman she couldn’t be trusted with money. I simplify but much like other female writers (i.e. Grace Metalious) she was confined by success rather than liberated by it. Much like the investigators of the house who are trapped by psychology and the unknown.

I’ve read some of her novels & enjoyed them, as well as her wonderful short stories. She writes about the paranormal in such a casual way it becomes believable. Her female characters are vivid without being over-the-top. Her plotting is satisfying without explaining every detail. She allows the reader to fill in some blanks.

I’ve talked with people about The Haunting & some say they don’t get the ending – they want something clear cut – is Eleanor delusional? Or has she really made contact with the spirit of the house? They find the horror elements of the book too subtle – no slasher just cold air, noises, door knocking & that chilly hand holding moment.

What inspires me about her writing is how powerful plain language can be; how one can create mood & tension without blood & gore. One doesn’t need literary CGI to give readers goosebumps. 

An Empty House

the smell of cooking

warm meals on the table

a pork chop with a bite out of it

kettle boiling

a shower running upstairs

steamy vanilla body wash

a damp towel on the sink

a change of clothes on the bed

an email ready to send

a cd on repeat

the same song over and over and over

a cellphone ringing

unattended lawn mower growling on the lawn

echoes in an empty house

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

November 15: Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam – 8p.m. – Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto
http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

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H. P. Lovecraft

H. P. Lovecraft is a master of both purple prose & terrifying visions. I remember reading him in my late teens & being drawn in totally to the out-of-kilter world he created (or was he merely describing an alternate reality that wasn’t fiction at all?) On my Kindle I now have his complete fiction: short stories, novels & even some poetry.

He took me to a disturbed Maine seaside long before Stephen King moved in 🙂 I was impressed by his writing style, though now I find it a bit florid, and was even more impressed by his decision to dispense with the happy ending. There is no escape from the tentacles in his Cthulhu Mythos.

His invented language, strange rituals & decaying churches enthralled me. One of my favourite short stories has the escapee struggle from captivity to find themselves in front of a mirror & being terrified by the monstrous creature they see. My other favourite is the room with weird angled corners that drives people mad. The Dunwich Horror is perfection (& the movie isn’t too bad either).

Re-reading many of these stories as an adult, on my Kindle, I am both transported & a little bored. How many decaying churches, or deep underground caverns full of malignant artifacts do I need to read about anyway. He has spawned an industry, though, of novels, short stories that are still being written to explore & expand his worlds. 

I was inspired by his use of language, his story telling and the ability to create & sustain a complex & compelling mythos so rich that some believe it is not fiction. I approach my Village Stories with some of this in mind – though I didn’t go for supernaturally scary but for a more emotionally culturally-scary mood.

Delete Delete Delete

I went for a walk

took my camera

to see the world as an observer

not a passer-by

I took shots of

stray shoes stray cats

a frozen smile

dirty gutters budding trees

windows that needed washing

people that needed washing

teens smoking

locked doors

cars too close to the curb

a small dribble of blood

bicycles that rotted all winter

posters pasted on closed shop windows

spray tags on mail boxes

an empty threat

cut flowers at a corner store

empty park benches

the distance between the aches

clumps of soggy newspaper

the mouth of a cave

hands holding empty air

three cellphones

a dog killing a rat

a birthday cake

a broken object that beeped faintly

green teeth

a missed opportunity

a wrong turn

a gathering of indifferent hoodies

an orange chain link fence

the last of the great ones

discarded bloody bandages

a farewell to arms

a Tim’s cup trapped in subway escalator

a dead fly in a camera shop window

a reason to go on

undergarments in a storm drain

an absent ache

dead batteries

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

November 15: Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam – 8p.m. – Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto
http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday

October 5/6/7 – Gratitude Round-Up

https://www.facebook.com/TorontoGratitudeRoundup/

October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

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Paul Simon

Paul Simon – one of my non-literary inspirations recently released ‘In the Blue Light’ a new recording to celebrate his 77th birthday. He’s taken some of his older songs & reimagined them as pop jazz. I would have liked him to go even further back to his Simon & Garfunkle work. It is a fine set of songs all the same. Listening to it made it clear to me that some of my influences weren’t the dead poets I was forced to study in high school or even the literary poets that ‘real’ poets cite as inspirations so that can sound educated.

 

Simon’s lyrics weren’t necessarily that complex. I Am A Rock spoke to my teenage sense of isolation. Little did I realize ‘I am an island’ was a John Donne reference, nor did I need to know in order to be drawn into the words. It had alliteration, evocative imagery – things that became a part of my own early writing style. It was so simple & direct that it made poetry accessible & seemly easy to write.

So I wrote endless poems in imitation of Sounds of Silence, Old Friends, For Emily. I actually still have some of those high school explorations somewhere. His longing for love was never dark – like, say, Jim Morrison; nor was his search as wordy or complex as Bob Dylan. His music itself was sunny. Even my sexually explicit poetry maintains, I hope, the sense of innocence than runs through his lyrics.

Later Simon became more personal to him yet never felt forced, overly bitter or oblique. He used humour to express some of the difficulties he was going through as he got older, as his fame became less rewarding or as his reputation stood in the way of his just being a guy who wrote and sang. It’s only looking back now as I think about my inspirations do I see how much I owe him.

Why I Want To Be A Clown

the clowns enjoy 

making babies cry 

the highlight of their day 

is when they get a good scream 

out of a baby 

elated when they scare a child

say around 9 or 10 years old

into crapping his pants

 

oh they can’t get enough 

of the shame on a kid’s face

as bowels let loose

because of their crazy 

smeary greasy faces

they would plunge surge

surround an innocent kid

huge mouths agape

with broken teeth 

speared with reds and greens

from the make up they ate 

to get them geared up 

to charge into the ring

 

stumbling bumbling drunk

pretending to vomit in a bucket

throw confetti at one child

then real puke on the next

to the hilarious roar of the audience 

 

when they found the one 

preferably a boy 

because girls were no challenge

the older that boy the better in fact 

one who acted uninterested 

invite him into the centre ring

mock him with garish faces 

bray till he ran out crying

made that little fucker 

shit shit shit his pants

they slap each other on the back 

as they exit the ring

 

sniggering 

at the the lion tamer

who relied on whips

not on wigs

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

http://buddiesinbadtimes.com/event/hot-damn-its-a-queer-slam-feat-janice-lee/

http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday

October 5/6/7 – Gratitude Round-Up

https://www.facebook.com/TorontoGratitudeRoundup/

September or October but to be confirmed – feature – The Art Bar, Free Times Cafe

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

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Emily Dickinson

My east-coast high-school English literature poetry focused almost entirely on dead white British men. The exceptions, that I remember, are E. Pauline Johnson & Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886.) I have no recollection of what Johnson poems I was forced to parse or whatever it was we were supposed to do with them – explain somehow in a way that lined up with the teacher’s understanding, as opposed to our actual feeling about the poetry.

The one of Dickinson’s I remember starts “Hope” is the thing with feathers – but it is her life that I remember even more clearly – a recluse for much of her life who refused to see people – who stored her poems in a drawer. That fewer than a dozen of her nearly 1,800 poems were published during her lifetime.

 

She wrote unlike any poet of her time – short lines, short poems, random Capitals – the Use of the dash – other than the Random capitals – her verse had the appearance of modern verse. Her use of images was/is very contemporary. The ‘meanings’ were easy enough to figure out as well. Which made them perfect for the limited attention span of teenagers. I can’t say that I liked her then but she was more approachable on the age than Shelly or Wordsworth.

I was fascinated by her decision for solitude. There was also a sort of mystery about her life – only one known photo of her exists. I have the complete poetry unedited. As well as “My Wars Are Laid Away In Books” a biography by Alfred Habegger – which is well worth reading.

Looking at her now as an influence she showed me the power of the simple image, she used direct language as well – not the endlessly florid style of Byron. She didn’t rely on classical references or biblical contexts to convey her thoughts. Plus she clearly wrote for the joy of writing not for the acclaim of publication.

That perhaps has been what inspires me most about her. As much as I’d enjoy being published I’m also quite content to write without that as my sub or even sur text. Instead of tucking my writing away in a drawer I hide it here on my blog. 

Lost Kiss

grief will become

a door you aren’t afraid to open

a shirt you can finally throw away

an aftershave you can’t stand on anyone else

a book you have no one to talk to about

a lawn you have to mow

a sunrise never seen before

an echo in someone else’s laugh

a song that is always him kissing you

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6


http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday

October 5/6/7 – Gratitude Round-Up

https://www.facebook.com/TorontoGratitudeRoundup/

September or October but to be confirmed – feature – The Art Bar, Free Times Cafe

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

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T.S. Eliot

Writing about ‘inspirations’ has me thinking about my high-school English literature courses where we had some Shakespeare, some Dickens – smattering of short stories (The Lady or the Tiger) and lots of verse, most of which I have no real recollection of, by the classics Tennyson, Shelly & the like. Ornate & fussy is all I recollect – though I have read them since as an adult & now merely find them lofty.

There was some Canadian poetry represented by E.J. Pratt, Robert Service – butch man’s writing. The only female I recall is the dainty Emily Dickinson. No actually modern poets except for T.S. Eliot. One it was his big hit: The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. After the forced feeding of the sacred texts by Tennyson, Shelly – Eliot was a breath of fresh air.

Surreal imagery that used ordinary English but wasn’t a pop lyric. Did I understand him? Probably not, because trying to write an exam essay on this was a stuttering stumbling mess. The layers of meaning in his work was merely hinted at by our high-school English teacher. 

This was probably the same English teacher who told me I’d never be a writer because my spelling was ‘inventive’ and my grammar was hopeless. That teacher made me feel stupid. But I persisted.

I have Eliot’s collected poetry & plays in one book & his essays in another. Plus a biography. I’ve read them all. His essays are a bit too academic for me to say I enjoyed them. His poetry is more comic than one expects. reading it today I find him to be more sardonic than perceptive. Prufrock is much easier to ‘understand’ when seen as a humorous poem. The Waste Land has great comic moments as well. I re-read the poetry every three or four years.

What inspired me about him was his concise use of language to covey multifoliate meanings. His work isn’t melodramatic or high-flown the way the romantics became. He wasn’t confessional even while talking about himself. Narrative line was more stream of consciousness as opposed to story telling. He freed me find the shadows that fall between the words.

Calypso’s Cave

I want to return to Calypso’s cave

for more erotic instruction

the ways of love I had been taught

never seemed enough for this world 

 

like Lazarus I could not 

remain in the shelter forever

I cannot rely on Neptune

to fulfill all my body’s longings

 

released from his tender endless coil

onto this shore where

I am unsure of my welcome

unsure of my name

 

unsure of anything except

I need another seven years 

to prepare me for cities of silver glass

for the fumbling turmoil of men

 

who tumble excitedly 

grasping for quick satisfaction

not having the time

to indulge in the erotic lore

I have received and long to pass on

 

let me return to Calypso

for another seven time seven

this school of sorrow and longing

I have been cast into a world

that holds no secrets for me

or is this the next lesson 

 

pleasure isn’t the end 

only a beginning

sorrow isn’t the result 

only a symptom

 

as I wander these streets

I cannot feel the river’s flow

I see their mouths open 

but no water comes forth

 

I want to return with Neptune

after sailing seeking

from one golden fleece to the next

is there anyone awaiting me

 

or am I the one waiting

to bring new light the cave

where Lazarus wrote on its walls

Calypso’s joke

Neptune’s revenge

 

the lover of the world 

ready for love 

yet no river bed 

to lay my body on

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6


http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday

October 5/6/7 – Gratitude Round-Up

https://www.facebook.com/TorontoGratitudeRoundup/

September or October but to be confirmed – feature – The Art Bar, Free Times Cafe

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

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Ginsberg


Is Allen Ginsberg taught on any Canadian high-school English course? The most daring poet I remember readings at that time was T.S. Eliot, some Dylan Thomas (more about them later.) Then the rock bomb went off with Bob Dylan, Paul Simon & the like. My first exposure to Ginsburg was via pop music. Only at the time I didn’t know it.

 

It wasn’t until years later when I picked up the City Lights edition of Howl that I realized where Bob Dylan had sprung from. Reviewers mentioned the Kerouac influence but not the Ginsburg. Was it to avoid tainting the new rock God with Ginsburg’s deviant sexuality? No that couldn’t be there was no homophobia is that scene.

I have the massive Collected Poems, Barry Miles’s biography, “Howl” Fifty Years Later, edited by Jason Shinder, plus cds of Ginsberg performing his work. I have read Ginsberg’s direct influence as well: Walt Whitman (more about him later). I am a fan.

I was lead to him via the beatnik connection & reading a Kerouac biography. I knew the famous opening ‘I have seen the best minds’ but was unfamiliar with anything else of his poetry. The Collected Works is a challenging read solely for the quantity but it is worth working through. Not that everything he wrote is a work of genius but it is compelling, emotionally real & his imagery is frequently stunning.

What inspires me about him is that he was only queer though the hippie era at a time when ‘free love’ merely meant men getting as much sex from women as they could. Where there any gay people at Woodstock? At the love-ins? Much of his work is of the moment & about himself in a gentle yet revealing way, frequently very conversational. Some of it is also timeless & reflects things in today’s world that remain true – I have seen the best minds of our times lost to drugs, street violence & cultural genocide. 

end song 

the float of cups and spoons
moons and leaves
wet midnights broken by laugher
left to reflect on the puddles
red sticky slicks that caress the stage
invite the applause of over-hanging gaspers
soon to be disgraced with apologies
wondering not aloud 

what if this isn’t the moment 

to leap up once and for all 

get it over with

no beginnings only ends
only a bar counter to wipe ready
for weary prisoners to stop   rest   gripe
about the fairness of their sentence
how they deserve what they want

and they want it now 

piping hot
heaped dishes of freshly chopped
branches of moon strung stings
to replace the end of things

we all know that end is looming
bigger than 

a pole-dancer’s ass 

that hovers over 

your out-stretched glass

another drop pretty pretty please
please squeeze harder 

we know you can do it
before the song changes
it has to be on that note
the universal choir
chasing clouds of chords around
looking for the car keys put down in a hurry

your car running in the garage
who is in the back seat drifting
as the red slick sends
reflection of spoons to the moon

each prisoner barely turning
in their stools asking
are we up to guessing what comes next 

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L.S.D and threesomes

JackieB

rough draft

L.S.D and threesomes

you know Dunc

I never really liked sex that much

not that I refused it

or never chased after it

I always felt it was something I was supposed to

as opposed to something I wanted to do

 

some of it was good

I certainly enjoyed myself at times

even going through the motions

can have some positive results, right

 

the only man I ever really loved was Zal

we were both so young that it couldn’t last

I didn’t expect it to

 

usually I didn’t know what to say

once it was over — thanks for the tumble

when Cohen apologized

for touching my then perfect body

with more than his mind

I wanted to laugh at his conceit

 

often it was the only way

most men would let you near them

they weren’t interested in conversation

I certainly didn’t want to know

what they thought of my work either

 

the stories of them

are always more interesting than the having of them

l.s.d and threesomes with Janis

the senator who later ran for president

the silver-tongued devil

 

though I did like some of them

I merely wanted them to want me

if I could have been wanted

without being had

I would have done that you know

xmastree

I figured I’d close April with another piece about music. This one a companion piece to the Blues Magoos piece on Monday. Both were written for Jacob Scheier’s ‘writing about grief and loss workshop’ a couple of years ago. It’s also from conversations I had with the late Jackie Burroughs. I’ve put together bits from several of them, in which she named names but for the piece I opted to be more oblique.

She told me about her flings, about her acting misadventures and such. One of which was being on the film crew for the Festival Express in 1970 on which she became a drinking/drugging pal of Janis Joplin and they must have been a formidable pair to have crawl into a bed with – Eric Andersen was the particular target they never managed to get.

snowcone

It was clear that sex was an excuse to meet some of the men – a way into their lives – that could only be accessed with her body. It also made it clear to me the sort of price many men and women are willing pay to create connection. It seems nearly impossible for non-physical friends between the opposite sex to exist.

snowfort

I’d like to suppose this has changed but they’re still making movies about how this never works – sure I know movies aren’t reality but all too many take them as instructional videos. She said the sex she had with famous men was no different than the sex she had with stage hands.

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broken

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