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Ben Pease

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from KING OF THE FOREST

from City of Moths

 

My friend thinks that poetry has nothing to do with words. Poetry she says, is a mountain. An actual mountain. A thing that fools climb simply “because it’s there.” Poetry is there, but why do we constantly feel the need to prove it exists? To point to it? Like a mountain appearing in the distance. “Be an uncarved block of wood” is what the Sarah Lawrence kids, who hadn’t slept in 40-some hours, still high off ecstasy and acid, sitting Indian-style on the rock, otherwise-silent, would shout at me during tennis matches. They were right. What lies in the uncarved block of wood. Whorls and grains, stories and held smoke. Surrounded by. My block of wood, another person’s mountain. The sound of a finger pointing to some unseen thing. To be reckoned with, or perhaps, reckoned by. Something to draw a door in.

Poetry is exactly like sexual harassment. Don’t ask. Listening to James Brown I understood what you meant about poetry having nothing to do with words. Maybe my mountain is a woman…lying…down. Try me, a bridge, the black lightning of the body. Point to point, nearness to nearness, the point is always to get to the next poem. That’s it. Nothing else. There’s love, but either way, you end up going crazy. Pain is to have seen and tasted one’s desire, and to live with that apple in front of one’s face, forever, with no way to touch it. But that part of the story comes later. After we listen to Bob sing, One good thing about music, when it hits, you feel no pain, poetry is the opposite. Language gets in the way. What I’m really trying to say is, Please, please, please…don’t leave me…be…wildered.

 Things fit together. Two inconsequential things can combine together to become a consequence. The poem doesn’t exist by itself. There is only poetry. The theory of relativity. Which means our fears and desires, our angers and dreams are not unique, they relate, become one and like us, will die if left alone. Did I tell you I was watching Game 2 of the Playoffs between the Pistons and the Orlando Magic when suddenly there appeared on the screen this skinny little white boy with glasses, a Pistons fan, maybe 10 years old, shirtless, standing in the aisle, flexing imaginary muscles, and painted on the entirety of his chest in glittery pink and blue spray-paint was the message, “There’s No Such Thing As Magic” and POOF— you were beside me, naked and trembling in my arms?

from The Dreams

The sky is way too blue like a TV set after kids have fucked with the remote, and for a second I don’t even see it— an enormous hot-air balloon hovering like the perfect ending to a simile. Then it hits me—this is the bright-striped balloon from the chemistry book I’ve been editing. I’m driving as if the sky won the war and there are no more roads. Just drifting toward whatever the air offers up. Following the law of we-all-need-a-balloon-to-help-us-home. Hypnotized by the bright balloon and its exquisite interruption of blue, I barely saw them, had to slam my brakes to avoid hitting the four giant buzzards sitting in the middle of the road, their backs to me, congregating over the carcass of something I couldn’t see but knew had to be the air from that beautiful balloon.

 

_________________________________

 

Impossibly this is an attempt at escape. Gravity, his uncle once told him, is only in your mind. There is a scene from Before Night Falls where the dream of escape is so beautiful it outweighs any consequence of the real: one would rather drown going down in a hot-air balloon in the ocean on the way to Florida than remain alive another second without freedom. The dream of it. A carcass of air. Language is secondary to silence. The most beautiful things we do, we do without words. Once, when he was the King of the Forest, he was chased by his brother, Emperor of Grasshoppers into an old overgrown greenhouse, a good 15 feet in the narrow aisle he realized his brother was no longer behind him and alone with the sound of his own breathing, he turned to see he was surrounded by over a dozen giant buzzards roosting eyelevel on marble slats— the next 10 seconds of this story is the stuff that dreams are made of.

The People of Distress

Going through a box of old ephemerae
I found a tiny notebook called The People of Distress.
The day I found the notebook
was the day I started reading up
on the gnostic gospels
late at night in Vermont, stoned,
the laundry rinsed
by the thunderstorm,
its slow musk
behind our ears
and inside our wrists.
I’m not sure, but I suspect
we have all been given the secret kingdom of God.
Taking VHS into the shadowy back bedroom;
Gesturing to blackflies and moths banging at the windows
that we are mighty
and merciless—
this is how I sit, a box of old papers
between my knees,
a warrior beyond death.
Nothing comes to us.
We work with what is already here.
We live at the garrison
tinfoiling over half-eaten peaches
while out in the world
there are those who believe
Jesus never kissed Mary Magdalene on the mouth
with his great, red, pharmaceutical tongue;
and there are those whose bodies
are perfectly made for erotic positions
in the seamless electricity of stark apartments.

I’m down at the river
gnawing at a sugar maple.
I’m down at the local bar
sheathing famous drinks into myself—
and I see it all—
so give me the parables, natural graves,
the androgynous hallelujah national forestry
of mid-state; give me the lightening,
armament of antique hatpins;
and give back all the bad poems,
because one day you’ll have to answer for them,
all the things you didn’t say.
I am patiently waiting.
Reading my early manifesto
which merely explains that I will one day
write the People of Distress via words
but for now it is all pictures.
It ends magnificently: I am nine now.
And it’s never been judged. Never been typed.
I wish I could take the offspring
out of the gnarled nests of my life
and let them drop.
All the luck of the world would let me in.
And good people
would have me over
for endless bright bloodshot evenings.
The People of Distress would get smaller
and the essential classical masterpieces
would get bigger.
And they would come out—the great tutors,
into the cool night breeze,
perfect gentlemen, grand madams,
to look at the stars of our hemisphere. To recite,
and nod, knowingly,
that this is how we see things through.
This is how all things end.

__________________________________________________________
Bianca Stone is the author of several chapbooks, including Someone Else’s Wedding Vows (Argos Books), and the poetry-comic I Want To Open The Mouth God Gave You Beautiful Mutant (Factory Hollow Press). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Best American Poetry 2011, Conduit, and Tin House. Bianca Stone is also a visual artist and her collaboration with Anne Carson, Antigonick, a new kind of comic book and translation, was published in spring of 2012 by New Directions.

It’s Fair

Our life is boring.
The fat caterpillar makes a ring
on your walking stick. I want

to be consumed by wind,
the smell of oyster mushrooms

and red horses. When folded, things become
unrecognizable like hotdog paste.
Thank god for the unresolved.

The corner of your mouth
a heron holding lavender in its beak,
headed east and west

where the unripe pumpkins jump
in the oven by themselves, covered
in paint chips. The old house

they uprooted from the stinging nettle garden
in Brooklyn delivered itself
like a baby, like a block of ice

sure of itself. Its roof was sleeping
swans laying eggs to feed the ghosts
trapped there from the era of edible roses.

They press the chickens
when they pluck them
and break the wishbone.

__________________________________________________________
Margarita Delcheva is a graduate of the NYU Creative Writing Program. Her recent poems have appeared in Sixth Finch, Fugue, Ep;phany, and Tuesday: An Art Project. The Eight-Finger Concerto, her poetry collection in Bulgarian, was published in Sofia, Bulgaria. Margarita currently resides and teaches in Brooklyn, New York.

from [Practicing Vigilance] 

I’m looting the altars of my former forgiveness
like a cacophony of snow blowers
I’m between making dinner plans
and opening a can of sunshine onto the supernal room
standing in a very quiet desert
forcing the mean soliloquies out
with their un-simulated volcanic ash
hardening my exact replica.
I used to put a miniature rosebush
in the ground each year
to counteract my squalor.
Don’t tell me that definition of madness,
doing the same thing over again etcetera.
The definition of madness
is a certain enthusiasm, then there has
to be another person there
to not share in it—who is oppressed by it
who can only stare into it.
Tell it to the bluebird rustling over my head.
Tell it to a satellite orbiting in its delusion of being a moon.
I’m coaxing the black bull out of my mouth
with a red flag and a beer. I’m constructing
out of my faulty genes, my last sentence, my last thing
which addresses the dilemma obliquely:
we shall perceive our own pain in others.
And we shall know if we are capable of loving them.

__________________________________________________________
Bianca Stone is the author of several chapbooks, including Someone Else’s Wedding Vows (Argos Books), and the poetry-comic I Want To Open The Mouth God Gave You Beautiful Mutant (Factory Hollow Press). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Best American Poetry 2011, Conduit, and Tin House. Bianca Stone is also a visual artist and her collaboration with Anne Carson, Antigonick, a new kind of comic book and translation, was published in spring of 2012 by New Directions.

Federal Bureau of Investigation

you give great masthead
take it from me
I have a microphone
where my soul is supposed to go
if you put your ear up to it
you can hear the future
ten thousand girls
going crazy
at a chess match
and we’re not coming
out of this closet
for any amount
of Klondike Bars
a bird with a broken song
is still a threat
wind can commit murder
and will
if left unchecked
my big black car breathes
or bleeds
a huge floating lung
above the parking lot
dripping privilege
and something yellow
what would you write
in the wet cement
is a test question
that blanks me
like snow arrested
for conspiracy
I need an air-craft carrier
of coffee right now
skin is our biggest enemy
untaxable & international
like the sky
freeloading
crowd pleasing
changing at will
without a pill or talk-show host
a hold over
a secret
history’s history
in other words
we never should have hired
those poets
to explain desire
jesus I’m famished
pass me a slim jim
what’s the deal
with all these babies
and how the hell
did they get Level 4 clearance
let’s talk about science
for a second
the mirrors in this place
make me look
12 pounds lighter
got a great glass guy
could blow god
wanna ditch these yomen
& kick it at the firing range
first dibs
on the anti-idea gun
I get an erection
just saying cold war
BTW
your tax documents
made a great mouse pad
for my spy porn
calm and hostile and alien
we hover above
the price of possibility
like a pissed off umlaut
that decides it doesn’t want
to be a part
of this sentence anymore
not concerned with making music
just content being noise
it is deep in fall
and I’m standing by my motorcycle
like a line of poetry
you take away from a dream
being alive is unbearable
and beautiful and sticky and bright
believe me
I’m not trying to tease this bull
I don’t want either of us to die
but if you wash off the blood
you’d see what I’m waving
is a white flag
and an invisible fist
through the street
through the flood
through the fire
love is a fleet
of tanks flying by
the soul grows dark
the trees turn gold
and the file on Alone
reaches the moon

__________________________________________________________
Sampson Starkweather was born in Pittsboro, NC. He is a founding editor of Birds, LLC. He lives in Brooklyn, NY with his girlfriend, the escape artist Paige Taggart.

Photo by Marco Munoz.

I always liked making things up, improvising, using my “imagination.” I do not remember my dreams because I spend the greater part of my day restructuring the past and fitting it into schemas of relationship and disrelationships, and not to any discernible end. In short, I am always in a dream. Perhaps it is the ends of art I hate–the way it is “valued” rather than integrated into the dynamic of being alive. You have to be careful saying art is for everyone because this is a sales pitch from the creativity experts and another way to make money.

Art is not for everyone. Many people are happy never to have a moment with art if they can possibly avoid it. Hell, I am happy to never have a moment with art if I can possibly avoid it. If you define art as a judgement of aesthetic value, then this is the least interesting part of the experience of making things up, improvising, and using your imagination.This is the morning after when you look at the thing you made and say: “What the hell was I thinking?” Almost everything I have ever made–songs, poems, stories, has elicited this response from its creator. I am disappointed in all but perhaps 4 poems, one story, and a couple of music compositions. I have never liked the poem of mine that is most anthologized: “Ode to Elizabeth.” I know it is the perfect “representative poem”–not my best poem, and, honestly, all it truly represents is a moment in 1980 when the chemical fires in Elizabeth, New Jersey were inspiring Time Magazine to refer to my home city as “grimy Elizabeth.” In the poem I never talk about the chemical fires, and I never argue against Elizabeth being grimy. The whole poem is an answer to one question: given that something is grimy, can it still have value–and not the value of feeling sorry for it, or wanting it to be other than it is–but the value of what no one but a consciousness that has been formed by that place can see? The poem praises Elizabeth New Jersey by saying: yes, it is grimy, and unartisitc, and full of people who have lousy taste in furniture, but I saw Amarcord there, and with a bunch of friends who had no idea about the snobby distinctions between movies and cinema, and we had a true experience of the film. We responded to it: “if art moved us at all, it was with real amazement/ we had no frame of reference.”

Art then that does not delight, move, amaze, or engage one’s most active intelligence is what I call aesthetic bureaucracy–the means that have forgotten their original ends and serve only their own process as “value.” Such art needs experts and gatekeepers, and protectors and advocates. It needs prestigious presses, and “award winning authors.” It makes me ill–not because I have been excluded from it (I have been allowed through the back door of this world, and can flash certain badges such as a New York Times articles on my poetry, featured with Allen Ginsberg, Stephen Dunn, etc) but because I never thought I was insignificant to begin with. I consider my mind, flawed as it is, to be in communion with a living God, and know that I never wrote a single poem or song, or story for “publication.”

Everything I did was out of Lordly, Godly, arrogant impulse to waste time–to spend my time making things up, and using my imagination, and scribbling on my tomb so to speak. Death is coming. it will be our only permanent accomplishment. Everything then, beyond this, is a scribbling on the tomb, a sort of ferocious, and desperate, and, yes, holy/sacramental graffiti. Everything, including how your friends remember you, is a version of “Kilroy was here.”

This personal essay then is inspired by something that happened to me recently. One of my best friends, and former students, Adam Fitzgerald, wrote “call me!” on my Facebook. So, being me, I thought something happened to him, and, being an insomniac who had just enjoyed the only two hours of sleep I was going to get, I called him. He was en route. People in Manhattan are always en route. He was with Bianca Stone and going somewhere, but he wanted me to know that Bomb magazine had said something wonderful about the chapbook we published through Monk Books by Mark Strand called Mystery and Solitude in Topeka. Great! I tried to be enthusiastic, but all I really wanted to do was Google “Long Branch, New Jersey” and remember which president died there (James Garfield). I was a little ill, and a little weary, and the book is beautiful, and the fun part was instigating it, and funding it, and watching Bianca and Adam do all the real work, and seeing the result. Affirmation of Mark Strand seemed beside the point. The guy has had his share of affirmation. I was thinking, “what about Bernadette Meyer’s chapbook, or even more importantly, Ben Pease’s chapbook, which contains one of the best and most adventurous long narrative poems I have read in years?” I was being a party pooper, a role I find myself playing with increasing frequency. On paper I should be thrilled: I am the “publisher” of a Pulitzer Prize winning poet and the book I helped bring into being is being lauded by Bomb–a well known literary zine. But whatever this is, it didn’t register as deeply with me as my then urgent desire to remember that Long Branch was once the summer resort of presidents and that James Garfield went there to recover from a gun shot wound and, well, he didn’t recuperate. I attempted to imagine Long Branch then–late 19th century swimming, the anciently sudden and suddenly ancient smell of salt marsh and wave spume. It was a rude way to behave towards a friend. As Shakespeare said: “you treat comfort like cold porridge.” I behaved like my Irish relatives who, when informed that you won the Noble Peace Prize, would remind you that your cousin Pete was a state champion spoon player, and much better looking besides.

Wet blanket? Far beyond that. I realized that achievement to one who has lived all his life in loss and failure, and who has experienced more or less constant rejection, is, itself anti-climatic. The joy exists in the possibility of things–in their perhaps. Years ago, I read at an event called the Paterson Poetry Marathon. I did well, and Philip Levine, the headliner, came over to me and shook my hand and said: “I want to thank you both for your humor and your outrage.” I should have been thrilled. Instead I went into the bathroom and cried because my parents were dead and my grandmother was dead, and everyone who could have been happy for me and who I wanted to be happy for me (the people who stand and wave at you while you are going around and around on the kiddie ride) are dead. I felt desolate, destroyed. So-called success seemed to have all the flavor of cardboard. If no one had come up to me, it would have been worse, of course, but I realized the losses and years of being a tool grinder on the night shift had rendered me incapable of being achievement-oriented. I am possibility-oriented, doing-the-deed-oriented. While I am reading or writing, or playing a piano, all is possible. After that, it’s hard to take anything seriously. If I had to think of truly meaningful moments in my life as a so called artist, they’d be some of the following.

The last time Joe Salerno came over my apartment in Elizabeth with a mixed cassette tape of music he had been recently excited by: it was truly mixed–Hadyn, Mozart, and Charles Ives. We drank saki and talked about music for hours. Joe liked trees the way I did, and I took him drunk and a little unsteady up the block to show him a full grown American Elm (rare after the dutch elms disease of the 40s). I didn’t know it, but the city had cut the tree down that morning. There was only the stump. We held our glasses full of saki. We reflected like two grown men standing over a blown engine. “Well,” I said, “there’s the stump!” We laughed. Joe reminded me of the great Chinese poem in which the poets get drunk and go into the garden to admire the flowers and the flowers lament that they have gone to all that trouble of blooming to be admired by a bunch of drunks. He quoted the poem. We laughed some more. Joe was dying of lung cancer, but he had not yet been diagnosed. Six months later he was dead, and I played that mixed tape for years until it felt apart. The possibility of talking music and poetry late into the night with a friend and neither of you are talking about the art business… that has meaning. It is the not graffiti on the grave. It is the eternity hidden in transience–what Keats best expressed.

Back in 1988: Dave Roskos and I are in Manhattan placing our new magazines Big Hammer and Black Swan in a book store. It may have been St. Mark’s books. Anyway, Gregory Corso is in there talking with the manager, and he’s pretending not to be Gregory Corso, and we’re pretending not to know he’s Gregory Corso, and he leafs through our magazines and says: “I don’t know these guys… Wait, I heard of Keith Sheppard.” He reads the poem by Sheppard. “Not bad,” he says. We place the magazines on consignment and split into the hot summer’s afternoon and we are laughing because Keith Sheppard is one of my aliases, and I am new to the poetry scene and have filled one quarter of my first issue with poems I wrote under aliases (including a nun who is an expert on Hopkins and George Herbert). We have good Mexican food, and meet up with my painter friend Elieen Doster who has hair the color of new pennies. Great day–again, nothing to do with achievement, but with possibility.

1985: I’m with my friend Marco Munoz in a long defunct art gallery called Oroe Electric in Hoboken. The clarinetist Perry Robinson is playing with his father, Earl Robinson, winner of an academy award, and a man who played with Leadbelly, Pete Seeger, and whose songs were performed by Paul Robeson and Frank Sinatra. Earl is an old radical and union man and calls me brother when he finds out I’m a tool grinder on the night shift. The party after the event hosted by Susan Shafton, includes a lot of wonderful musicians, including Gary Schneider, conductor of the Hoboken Symphony Orchestra. I am young and arrogant and happy and drunk enough to play piano among them, and sing my songs, and Perry joins in, and Gary likes the way I play piano, and Earl shakes my hand and beams. No hierarchy, none of that stupid, God forsaken, spiritually bankrupt pecking order we call “The arts.” We play for hours–folk music, atonal music, hard bop, weird mongrel versions of all of the above. I am dressed in a cool suit and so is Marco who scats happily along. Joy, art. Not “the arts.” I hate “the arts.” It takes all the fun out of things.

1977: The year my mom died. My friend Huey is over my house, and I am playing a song I wrote. I hear blubbering, and I look over and Huey is crying–this big, good looking jock. he says: “that’s beautiful.” I never had a friend say that to me before. where I come from, it takes great courage and a good heart to say such things openly. 34 years later, it means more to me than getting nominated for Pushcarts. You can put Pushcarts on a curriculum vitae, but its not what makes you create. If it is, then you’re pretty fucking pathetic. Nothing is more pathetic than someone who achieves and is not alive except for their achievements. Such a person is a slave to the wrong master. It is terrible when no one appreciates your art or wants to hear or see or recognize it. It is more horrible when that’s all that matters.

1999: my first year as an instructor at arts high. The students don’t want the class to end and I teach a summer program (for free) in a wonderful place called Rutgers gardens. There are kids playing guitars, and writing poems, and hiking through cedar and bamboo forests, and I am not making a dime, and they are not getting a grade, and everyone shows up every Thursday for no other reason than we are making shit up as we go along, and enjoying the energy of making shit up as we go along. The next year, I have forty kids in the woods–Adam Fitzgerald being one of them. My former friend’s son, Danny Salerno comes by to visit and recites Beowulf in the Anglo Saxon and the girls (and probably some of the boys) all swoon because he is good looking. Later, at the pizza joint we repair to after working on being artists, Danny and Adam get into a huge fight over whether Falstaff or Hamlet is the greater character, and they almost come to blows. I am not there since I have to go to my 4 to 12 shift job in the factory, but I hear about it from the other students, and I am delighted. What teacher would not want 17 year old students almost coming to blows over Falstaff and Hamlet?

I am not knocking people who are achievement oriented. I wish I could feel proud of anything I achieve. I can’t. Even if I won awards, and became a “living legend,” I’d still be short and balding, and full of the griefs I experienced, and I’d still be most excited by a chord progression I accidentally stumbled upon. I’d still miss the people who died and who I loved–which is almost everyone I ever loved. The best thing about being famous would be the money. I’d blow most of it on instruments and art projects, and taking my wife out to eat. I’d give money to artists I thought were unrecognized, and I’d be able to shit on the heads of all the so called big shots who snubbed me over the years. Being “snubbed” is part of “the arts.” I hate the fucking arts. I love the possibility of 40 young people in a field fucking around with paints and guitars. Maybe only one of them becomes well known, but it took all forty to create that one well known artist. Desire is never isolated.

Three years after I started teaching the summer program, the school made it official and put it in doors, with air conditioning, and ruined the integration of painting and poetry and music, and put each in its proper hole. They had the best intentions. I hate intentions. I had only one–to waste time. I was teaching my students how to hang out. Who the fuck died and left the experts to decide what is significant or worthwhile? If no one invites you to the party, throw your own and fuck them! This is what I was teaching. I was trying to teach my students the necessary arrogance of art, and its humility. The humility is this: nothing will ever feel as good as actually doing it–not awards, not achievements, not anything that results from doing it–nothing, and if the other things begin to take precedence, you are in danger. I hate “the arts.” Right now, I wish I knew a good cello player, and one who could wing it, and they’d come over and play with me for a couple hours. Sometimes, while I’m playing the piano, I can hear the cellist beside me playing other riffs. I get excited and I start to dream of the possibility. if a real cellist came over they would want to work towards a goal. A truly accomplished cellist would probably snub me, so a half-assed cellist would do just as well. As my grandmother said: If the picture is crooked, and you can’t adjust it, adjust your head.” My standards are low. A 17 year old student so passionate about Shakespeare that he takes on a 22 year old guy who can speak Anglo-Saxon is as exciting to me as Bomb magazine praising a book I was involved with. Whenever that isn’t true, I begin to feel spiritually sick inside. So my apologies to Adam. What really thrills me is that I knew Adam when he chewed key chains incessantly and played Visions of Johanna 20 times a day. I am happy to see him flourish. It’s like being a parent and watching your kid go around and around on a ride and, suddenly, you realize he isn’t a kid, and he’s calling you up when you’re ill and tired and lonely for a world that was not all fucking achievements and kudos and you ought to wave–even if you’re half dead. I feel more than half dead. Possibility is hard to come by, especially when everything is to a purpose. I believe in wasting time. I am trapped in a goal-oriented, sick America of insane positive thinking and achievement psychosis… someone get me a half-assed cellist. Quick! Someone get me a park and 40 young artists wasting time. I love making stuff, writing, composing, fucking around with my garden. I hate “the arts.”

from THE  NOTEBOOK

the shoulder has zero light
the shoulder has no reason
to rotate its discus in
perpetual motion unless
it is seasoned for a
tennis serve, I swerve
when I talk, let my
speech reply, here is an
audio grandstand
a launch into the public
biosphere, oh dirty
laundry how crumpled
and full of sense, this is
a poem where every object
take on meaning, where
it extends its
existence into the
voyeur’s eye, there is no
needle to rescue in
the haystack, there is
no in the sack to recoup
from, here everything is
a velvet potato
a perfectly lauded gift
set on its own
blessing, if I give this
to you all you owe me
is respect in the form
of food, like cooking me cabbage
then laying it out like
pillows, this is all written in
my will so no need to try and
memorize it just yet
this is where the
poetry turns, this is
where it becomes genius
this is where the doldrum
uproots itself, this is me
apologizing to my brother for
rubbing his eyes with tiger balm
this is everything that you
ever wanted to coming true
this is real historical
mass, mass on the subway,
mass in the form of many
strangers falling asleep
at once, they almost look
hypnotized/head-slumped
forward, the subways
hum sings them to sleep
I have a pie at home
and a window full of the
paperless things I can’t see
past like white lies
& karate smoke & an abandoned
bicycle, there are the kids
jumping rope, jumping fences w/age
award reaped benefits for
a singular provider, here somebody
is turning over on a white horse
a location is building-up
in the vein of prestige
I am putting my French
sunglasses on, reordering the
oracle, a frosted wishbone
how absolutely still the pie
lies, how begetting of circumstance
the trolley is delivering eggs
throughout the neighborhood
there is localized insurance
if you fall skateboarding
an elder will clean your
wound, rehabilitating the oxygen
cavities takes a nexus of
cytoplasm, reverberated
toothbrushes, through the gold cap
everyone’s a dentist who needs
a friend, try quitting
smoking for a change, melodramatic
knight in shining armor
rescuing your lung from the curse
of a violent death, willpower
ensues, try sleeping with
lesions, with the biggest wound
in the woods with a cabinet
builder insisting on finishing
the bookshelves at 3 am
prying the orange paper machine
apart in your sleep
like a Chinese character bent
sideways, contingent on its
placement lending it a new
meaning, if I were to walk
around town on hand & not
foot, how might the fabric of
my belief change, the brash
cause to wrap my fingers with
gauze, or an elliptical—
imagine that, that we
dance holding feet, so attuned
to the clever immobility
when the risk of losing
action makes its way into
the poem, the risk is boredom
how there are many ways of
losing where you digest
a loop, like that game
of pickup sticks on
the trottoir where nobody
is talking not noticing the
eagle eyes unflinching for one
who drops the stick
can never recreate a habitat
is it inhibition that makes
the sucky people keep on sucking
the lack there of I meant,
but instead I was busy
catering the floss to my teeth
some sort of tectonic
light bulb needs to go off so a
posse of angels can come down &
bless me, I’m mad ungrateful
sometimes to have a job
feels like the opposite of
survival
I fear that once we start we won’t be able
to come down from this mountain,
domino effect on the inside
where all the pride gets dismantled
and takes the form of a rock
I’m trying to come back to some sort
of original way where you don’t
want to fix the poem cause
the poem is alive, an inverted
tent takes its shape from the
wind, so many meaningful
pictures spread-out so full of
language tropes you just
have to be the one to color them
in with whatever kind of
vision you can stick with
it’s difficult to swing the
lantern all the way through
a mystery caught on the
outer-hinge causing the
little metal hinge to swing open
and whisk out the light
or however you want to
label this effect
it’s not a defect unless you
struggle w/it everyday

              have you ever walked across the
              floor to find another floor?
              how to be desperate, I mean
              in a situation where you’ve
              locked your keys in your car
              why do my wheels spinning feel
              like triangles, clunk,
              clunk, clunk
              batter up— hit the
              dinghy across the bay

all that was selfish became
prismed by our desires
to keep one another healthy
in the most acute perceptions of
our lives we’ve managed to keep
one another holy, with all the
growing sounds around us & the
obtrusion of light in our sleep
like whisks of smoke
that hold the ground by fire
after the wolves attack
after love is one of the causes
for fantasy that holds
the vinegar into the
lemon, sometimes such taste
such sour artifice recedes
into a velvet damask
this is what I say, what I fear
that we are all fake, no real
compass or station to hold
as I once was a sergeant
in my past like the dream of
myself inside a space shuttle
like the self that came
before the self before I
fingered the wreckage in
the dark before sifting
through the silt of an
underwater vessel, after
we were all attacked
and leaned back and attacked
others and saw that it was
identical, the same thing
standing in the same way
of one another, the
record breaking human
condition, the active body
of peoples, the peoples like
the squirrel’s acorn if we
were god that’s what sight
would be like, all a seen
protocol, the same for sadness
one takes washing-off
& clutching to a library of panic
“the pain parade”

from Gift Horse

you carry me
I bend
I bend so you can
carry me
I carry me you bend
you bend
beggetingly

the earth is on
crow fire
don’t forget
to powder
your wig

I’m a museum
with a hat of gold
my education only comes
once a year
I am w/out friends
standing in a field
my imagination is a hinge
endless swinging door
upon grass and pale sky
the frame
the only obstruction

yr. dog bites off
yr. doll’s talky head
dripping with starch
you bury the head in
a lilac field
plastic bones
bloom
begin again

my plastic Neanderthal
has a tongue ring
carries a flag
faux gravitas
etched with lions
somebody should
really stop him

into the black sky
one wing open
a French door
unlaundered by intuition
rain come over me
still prism
black market holiday
the new symbolism

root canal in summer
a hot bleeding waterway
lift your head to the nurse’s call
Gideon’s crossing
you slap your cheek against it
it’s gonna save you

I have a big gift
for a horse
a quilted water vest
you make your mark
across the lake
shimmy a row by
aren’t we all adults?
I stand in
as proof

POST SCRIPT

MACTAGGART JEWELRY

Buy Paige’s handmade jewelry and make sure to check out the impressive selection of poems she has published online!

Digital Macrame from Poor Claudia.

Polaroid Parade forthcoming from Greying Ghost Press.

The Ice Poems forthcoming from Doublecross Press.

Warcloud
The gentleman who collaborated and experienced paranoid delusions with Paige’s brother.

Paige’s brothers’ music:
Sydney Ducks
Blue Sky Black Death

Extract from My Ragged Company, #19

I asked Alice to ask me to marry her. She asked
if I wanted to lick the painting on the hotel wall.
That’s a poster, I said. Just a paper Hopper: a sad
woman in a red teddy sat on a hotel bed reading
a yellow letter: He’s not coming back. I asked
for a kiss. She asked for a testament. Outside,
I asked a man to point me to a lake or
a liquor store. In Michigan, the man said,
a liquids most obvious attribute is repression.
But, he said, all taverns in Michigan share
one trait: inside is someone that will make you feel
at home. I followed his pointer. I walked across
the street. I took the ferry. I climbed a hill and a tree
and sat in a deer blind for a week until two hunters
found me and took me and carried me to a bar
and resuscitated me with schnapps depth charges
and I drank until I felt very at home and then
I passed out and dreamed my way back to Alice.
The next morning I walked to the bathroom.
My penis was stained. Merlot. Rust. Tide. Blood.
I jumped on the bed, naked before her.
“You’re free,” I said.

__________________________________________________________
Peter Jay Shippy’s most recent book is How to Build the Ghost in Your Attic (Rose Metal Press, 2007). These poems are from a new project, My Ragged Company.

See some of Ken Chen’s poems and find links to items mentioned in the podcast.

Ken Chen Interview

See some of the poems Colin reads in the podcast and find links to items discussed during the interview.

Colin Cheney Interview

See the poems Solmaz Sharif reads in the interview and find links to some items discussed during the interview.

Solmaz Sharif Interview


Read
some of Deborah’s poems here and find links to some of the things Ben and Deborah talk about in the interview.

Deborah Landau Interview

Click here to see some of the poems Ben Mirov reads and find some other links to items from the interview.

Ben Mirov, Part 1

Ben Mirov, Part 1

Ben Mirov, Part 2

Ben Mirov, Part 2

Anthropology, publishing houses in elementary school, estrangement, ants conferencing over Frank Zappa. Morgan Parker describes herself as equipped with the eyes of a surrealist, ears of an ethnographer, tongue of a cynical comedian, and heart of a brooding sixteen-year old.

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Morgan Parker, Part 1

Morgan Parker, Part 1

Morgan Parker, Part 2

Morgan Parker, Part 2

Sarah Schweig, neighbor to airfields, estrangement, mythology, imagination, opens up about how she came to be a poet of departures. Pardon my inability to pronounce Catullus.

Sarah Schweig, Part 1

Sarah Schweig, Part 1

Sarah Schweig, Part 2

Sarah Schweig, Part 2

He’s just a west-coast boy, living in New York City, he took the express train to where good poems reside. I must be tired or going insane, but Josh Bettinger is without a doubt on his game in these five poems—five because he claimed they were all shorties, but it’s not long into the interview that we see how stocky these poems are—look at these guys the wrong way and they’ll tear your face off.

Josh mentions this movie trailer several times in part 2, he insists you watch it: It’s all about the three parts of the trick.

Josh Bettinger, Part 1

Josh Bettinger, Part 1

Josh Bettinger, Part 2

Josh Bettinger, Part 2