Monday, April 23, 2018

WE CROSS AND UNCROSS OUR LEGS


We cross and uncross our legs
at the same time, light one cigarette
and then another, one for each hand,
check ourselves into rehabs and rental cars
that are out of control and useless to
a decent conversation,
it's just that we don't talk,

we just borrow each other's make up
and best stolen ad libs,
that is to say that stuff
is getting in the way of my stuff
and the more I try to describe
your best features , my image
vanishes in the bathroom mirror,
should i leave the seat up or down
and should you pull out a chair or a
gun and a bag of candy?
one of us will leave this relationship

and it won't be either of us, I will say that much.
otherwise , we should confine our remarks
to how we can stretch the meaning of words
and even rock solid ideas of reality as easily
as we can the waist band of a pair of stretch pants
one of us bought on the internet, stretch it until it breaks
and everything we created
 in 1st and 2nd person
drops to our ankles
 and neither of us
 gets anything from the other,
not even a middle finger.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Bruno Mars


To the matter as to whether Bruno Mars , who is not black, is appropriating black music and an aesthetic born of African American experience, created by talented black artists, well…I don’t know the man’s music, let alone his version of Black Style. I will him be and not mention him again in this harangue. Appropriation has been with us forever, although I would suggest that the non-black musicians playing music that is African American in origin have, for the most part, a genuine love of the sounds they've been exposed to. Theft is theft and black creators must be located, credited and their families paid for the use of the bodies of work that formed the foundation for a huge amount of American culture and a character, but at the same time it seems reductive and ironically bigoted to suggest that only black musicians have the right, let alone the sole ability to make authentic jazz, blues, or rhythm and blues. Forcing matters of creativity into a any kind of requirements for acceptance is absurd and contrary to what art is supposed to do, the process through which an individual--an artist--experiences the world and , through the use of whatever medium moves him enough to create objects of beauty of contemplation that hadn't existed before. Pretty much going with Marcuse on this one, as in his bookd the Aesthetic Dimension, where he argues that Society, The Establishment, the Powers that Be, need to leave the artists and allow them to perform their task with their art making, to produce joy. Otherwise, if held to aesthetic principles that are contrary to inspiration, it ceases to be art. It is Propaganda. We do not need an American version of Soviet Realism, no matter where it comes from. It goes to authenticity that one writes in a style that is natural to them; whites writing in idioms that makes sense for Mance Liscomb is clearly insulting to black musicians and black culture in general. It is a not so subtle form of racism: it says "I think you're exotic, not quite human, something wholly "other" than normal. I will take your funny sounds and use them to decorate my cosmology." Absent the absolutist argument that only black musicians have the right to play blues and are the only ones who can have anything authentic expression (its' a powerful argument), the bottom line of the blues is the clear, simple, emotionally honest expression of one's experiences. That would mean that one find their own voice, something they can bring of themselves to the music they desire to perform and make it genuinely personal. There is a difference, a fine one, between having a personal style greatly influenced by black music and singers and one that slavishly tries to impersonate the sound, causing all sorts of suspicious Rich Little-isms. Those influenced by black artists but who have their own style, free of affectation: Butterfield, Mose Allison, Van Morrison, Tom Waits. Those who fail : Jagger, when he sings blues, Peter Wolfe, others galore. Wolf is listenable and usually effective as vocalist and front man, but he never convinced me that his style was cleverly constructed, contrived. I won't go as far as to say he's guilty of minstrelsy, but his his banter where spews hip argot, rope-a-dope rhymes and other offerings of hep-cat impersonation, comes off as cartoonish, stagy, really stereotypical of black performance; whether Cab Calloway or James Brown or an inspired preacher sermonizing from the pulpit of a black church, Wolf's machine gun is appropriation straight out. I had often wished he'd just keep his mouth shut and just sing.Yes , I realize the irony of the last sentence,but I think you see my point even if you might not agree with it. J.Geils is a band I've enjoyed a great deal over the last few decades, but there are times when Wolf's unreconstructed enthusiasm turns into caricature and stereotype. He reminds me of someone trying to beat his influences at their own game rather than forging something that is really his own.

Monday, March 19, 2018

THE SHAME IS NOT IN THE FALLING DOWN


Not a minute goes by
where I don’t reach from my chair
to the coffee table
for a drink that is only water,
lukewarm at that, ice melted,
sides of the glass perspiring.
Too many people smoking
their cigarettes to the filter,
not enough ash trays,
the glass of water is grey and black,
soggy and swelled filters
crowding the glass top to bottom
like bodies recovered
from a boat that sank
a week ago
off the coast of nowhere
no one here can name
nor cares to talk about
instead of what they watched
on tv last night
or exactly how bad
their service was at the steak house.

I am, though, still thirsty,
bored with coffee,
needing something cold, clear,
no sugar, to sooth
the splintering edges of my throat.

When I cough,
it sounds like mountains
sliding into dramatic ravines,
it feels like being shot
with an arrow an archer
lost sight of once it was
fired into the sky.
My friend is a woman
I’ve known as a mystery
novel for decades
and she asks me
what I desire tonight
in a living room full of smoke
and distracted chatter.
I tell her water
and she kicks me in the foot,
She is a mystery novel
I will likely not finish reading
because I
really hate
coming to the end
of a genuinely good time.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Don't think about dying

I don’t think about dying crossing the bridge, my shoes are the wrong hue for just a rude thing to do in the middle of the day And drivers on cell phones making hay before sunset speed by in blurry clouds of exhaust with a coffee cup wedged between their thighs peripherally and only for a second think they saw someone at the slimmest edge of their distractions climb over the safety rail, arms stretched and then reaching up as if to pounce from a diving board, they shake their heads and get back to their driving and manic chatter , the really hot coffee is still cradled between their thighs, about to spill and that’s no thrill at all, after all.

Friday, December 29, 2017

"My Little Numbskull"

There were no separate beds we fell from but there were different doors we left through, giving a kiss over steam and burnt toast only to vanish into dimensions that both played the worst music on stations cursed with the grittiest static a white man could invent. Later , over french fries and cold cuts left over from some party or other, we discuss the news we heard twenty four hours ago. This was before the internet and phones that poked you in the ribs or purred against your privates when something / anything / nothing at all was happening somewhere / anywhere / nowhere you could name happened, is happening, or is about to happen soon, can’t say when. Cigarettes to smoke, a column to write, a costume to draw perchance to stitch , drinks and then fairy tales, stories from books, lazy diction and funny accents of farm animals in short pants carrying tools to the barn where they are building a big boat as dark clouds form over the horizon of a grey, roiling ocean.
There were no separate beds, as I said but after an hour of saying good night and sweet dreams, we drifted into our different acres of nodding mist, I in a car and then flying, no plane, over all the rooftops of houses I’ve lived in here and there and anywhere I recollect, you, as you said later, in a boat that comes up to a grand hall and you’re somehow now in front of the stairs in the best gown ever made waiting for a man of fortunes known and mysterious to arrive and take you to places where there is only harmony, nothing but sweet notes as you pour the milk into your cereal and sip coffee that tastes of spirits that would circle you toe to the part of your hair and keep you loved,warm , safe from my worst habits and best intentions.
You told me that when you were mad at me. I lit a cigarette and gave it to you and then lit another and took a drag. “My little numbskull” you said to me and I don’t think I’ve been as happy since then.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

WE GOT THE BEAT

(for Jill, Violette and Emily)

Her singing was off key
and her daughters
swung their dolls
barn dance style
repeating after Mom
laid down the ladle
and laid down the law
of this tiny kitchen
and every kitchen
from now   on
until the sun rises
with a nod
rather than a wink
and

WE GOT THE BEAT!
we got the beat!!!

WE GOT THE BEAT!

Big sunglasses,
floppy hats
big frilly dresses
shoes too big
and socks
so loud they
wake the sleepiest
of feet,
the tiny women dance
as the drums pound hard
and the guitars   crash
into one another,

It's here
I realize
half awake
that breakfast
will wait
or be not at all
because there is no  time
like the present
and, Mom  says
who   needs to eat
when
WE   GOT THE BEAT?

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Fidel


We named the cat Fidel  until there were no more scratches at the door after the bars closed
and the stereo’s tone arm played the edge of the red Columbia label.
The noise it made, the bald needle bouncing off the spinning circle of company brand and song titles  was the sound we heard when neither of us spoke.
The unending clicks  and whispering scrapes,  the scratch at the door, a scraping sweep of claws  and a low rumbling growl.
We awoke in absence of one thing, the familiar violation of the silence  which never quite happened.
We go tout of bed and put on our pajamas , walked around the apartment, poked the bushes and circled the trees as if thinking Fidel would surrender,  paws raised, and stop his nocturnal adventure so some of us may sleep in fields of odorless amnesia.