With Girlfriends Like These

Historically humans
can be known by their latrines,
traced by the detritus in their wake,
Calomel at abandoned campsites,
Dr. Rush’s little pills.

Fish, eggs, garlic,
the homeless in the dumpsters,
about as obnoxious as Fordyce spots.
Mithras wearing surgical gloves
rummages throughout Ravenna.

Hollow mask optical,
Lord Kitchener Wants You.
Who can understand the Polari of teen talk?
The cant of discarded teen blood and lust,
their bloodlust, ablution attained in emojis.

Michelle: Are you going to do it now?
Conrad: I just don’t know how to leave them.
Michelle: Say you’re gonna go to the store or something.
Conrad: I want them to know that I love them.
Michelle: They know, that’s one thing they definitely know.

You’re over thinking.
I’ve been over thinking for a while.
Are you gonna do it now?
I still haven’t left.
Why?
Leaving now.
You can do this.
I’m almost there.

Look at them, budding scientists researching their homework. How oddly picturesque. 3200 ppm for ten minutes, death in a half hour. Truck is diesel, low carbon monoxide levels. Portable generator in bed of truck would work. The one I stole from my father is broken. Did you read the manual? Go to Sears, they sell generators, they can help. A new one is only $135 bucks, that’s cheap go buy one. Just Google how to fix a broken generator, lots of stuff comes up, you can make CO from candles and glass.

Michelle looks in the mirror, she wears a cloche hat.
She’s found her raison d’etre, activism, suicide prevention,
maybe a softball tournament, “Homers for Conrad.”

She dreams Balls Mabille,
dances in her dream, eyes closed
holding down close her cloche hat,
Brigadeiros on the night table.
She mourns her long lost friend
with a sip of grenadine,
such a small sip, grenadine
reddening her puckered up lips.
A thought snaps her reverie,
a nasty thought snatches up
her cell phone, erases texts,
nasty texts, the Fons et Origo
of her Lusus Naturae.
“I must aver.”

Find a spot.
I’m thinking a public place.
If I go somewhere private,
they may call the cops.
Someone may notice you.
Do you think you’ll get caught?
Park your car and sit there.
It will take like, 20 minutes,
it’s not a big deal.

Conrad stares at the Fairheaven K-Mart,
the parking lot empty, the clouds beyond
passing by, floating by, shaking cold.
He feels the husk inside him circulating air.
Michelle calls every few hours, logorrhea mouth.
He is a procrastinator. He’s fine with that.
His watch a Swiss Belair, platinum, black band,
he never looks at his watch. He looks at his phone,
Facebook, Angry Birds, angry texts, Instagram.

All the girls throw their heads back and smile
or they bend forward laughing at the funniest
joke in the world. Their mouths are impossibly large
with their white teeth when they wave at the camera.
Surmoulage, bronze statues copied in white.
Korean dude, his large smile, his squinch eyes,
the larger his smile, the squintier his eyes,
green Heineken bottle, how does this happen?

Michelle, I’m scared.
I’m unsure about this.
Fucken get back in.

Apse Mosaic, the dome of the truck,
Christos Benedictos, two fingers up,
Nike and Victory banners trailing,
Conrad, the anointed one, melts.
He swallows his life. Vide Supra.

Advertisements
Posted in My Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Body

The body has acquired an extended life, floating down the newly created Venetian canals of New Orleans, almost lazy in disposition, face up like a tourist, gaping at the beaded verandas and abandoned terraces of a moratorium Mardi Gras.

The missa cantata happy hour has been suspended in the Big Easy.

The body floats past blankets strewn on rooftops and folks shielding themselves from the unrelenting sun with handmade signs beseeching assistance and reprieve.

A child blowing bubblegum dips a yo-yo on the edge of the rain gutter as the body floats on by as if it was, well, just like any other body.

This body seems more overweight than bloated, although the cracks along the cheeks and forehead betray what used to be thin once, a few days ago, darkened fingertips practiced at a charcoal piano perhaps, clenched and split-lipped like the numerous unemployed trumpet players of the French Quarter.

A drowned black cat joins the body, a faithful pet, two tied hefty trash bags trailing behind their only meager hobo possessions.

They wade in place patiently when a helicopter hovers to throw some bottled drinking water at a wheelchair bound elderly woman slumped precariously over a leaning balcony. Three of the five bottles splash into the current, another knocks off a potted fern recently placed on the railing, and the last bounces into a darkened opened room next door.

What a strange wake through the discarded streets of a much beloved city. The body undulates slightly from the ripples created by distant crisscrossing swamp airboats searching for survivors.

Here, a snag next to a light post marks a spot for reflection. A wild-eyed man hurries chest deep holding a rifle, a loaf of bread, and a fifth of whiskey over his head. He sneers at the body, a temporary perceived threat or impediment.

Not any more, the body merely continues on a concluding journey to redemption, a small eddy swirls the body around slowly in a contemplative arc, one long last sweeping look at the unforgiving crescent fishbowl where dreams came to fail and to die at length, just one more story in Storyville.

A truly somber waterlogged procession carries the body to a realized final resting place, at the foot of a submerged exit ramp, amidst the accumulated debris, garbage, refuse, and stink, amongst the other lost souls who arrived there first, to greet the snarling feral starved dogs fighting and slobbering.

Posted in Lyrical Prose | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

OLD PUNK ROCKERS NEVER DIE AND I WISH THEY WOULD

This evening I took the redline into DTLA at the invite of a friend. From the moment I walked in she was on her cell phone. Whatever. I don’t care. I’m tired at staring at my four walls so I guess I’ll just go stare at her walls instead. Law & Order was on TNT. Law & Order is always on TNT. I don’t think TNT shows anything other than Law & Order. I got really sleepy. I’d been up since 1:30am because I worked a 3am shift this morning. I worked an early game broadcast on a popular sports channel. I wanted to see how the afternoon game broadcasts were doing because I had set them all up. I couldn’t figure out her remote control. I tried everything I knew how to do. The most I managed was to somehow turn on her Netflix panel through her Blu-Ray player. I also changed the channel to some static and then I had to sit there as her cable box set up all of her 2000 cable channels again and scroll through them. When that was done I hit default or reset and TNT came back on again. Law & Order is permanently being broadcast on a loop on TNT.

I took a nap. I woke up two hours later. Law & Order was on TNT. I felt really guilty because I came to see my friend but I fell asleep. This happens to me all the time at other people’s houses and I always feel really guilty and stupid. But I can only go over to visit my friends on my free time and I am always fatigued during my free time. When I am at home and I have some time to squander I usually go to sleep. This makes me feel old.

Either my friend didn’t notice or she didn’t care that I fell asleep on her loveseat. She was still on the phone. I made hand motions that I was about to leave. She said wait a minute to whomever was on the phone and then said to me “do you want some cobbler?” The original incitement for me to come over was that she had some peach cobbler and vanilla ice cream. I got really excited and nodded my head yes. She said, “it’s in the fridge, help yourself to some.”

I got the cobbler and ice cream out of her fridge. The cobbler was cold. I wanted to microwave it. I got a bowl and put the cobbler in the microwave. I only needed to microwave the cobbler for :30 seconds. I pressed a button and the microwave began cooking for 3 minutes. Nope. I press stop. I pressed another button and now the microwave is cooking at ½ power level for 5 minutes. I press stop. Her microwave is all presets. I can’t figure out how to just do :30 seconds. So I press the popcorn icon and count off :30 seconds from a 2:30 cooking cycle.

The cobbler and ice cream were good and I sat at her kitchen nook table and smiled at my friend and she looked at me and smiled back while she kept talking to somebody on the phone.

On the ride back to North Hollywood on the redline, I sat with my back to these old two aging punk rockers discussing punk rock history in LA. Believe it or not, this is a very common conversation I run across almost everywhere I go in this city. If I am in line at the 7-11 ultimately I will have to suffer overhearing a conversation about who is more punk rock than whom. “Hey man, you weren’t here when TSOL played at the Hong Kong.” “Dude, Agent Orange used to be Punk what are you talking about?” “I saw Mike Ness blowing some dude at the A-Go-G0 on a Thursday night, man.” I will overhear these conversations everywhere. If I am at Gelson’s or at True Value in Los Angeles and I see two people over 50 with spiky hair and leather jackets discussing something, odds are they are arguing who is more punk rock than the other.

Sure enough, these two old farts were comparing punk rock dick sizes. They argued over everything from how “El Jefe” got his nickname in NOFX to whether China White played a set on stage with The Vandals or not. I couldn’t stand it. I wanted to turn around and rage: “There are no punk rockers anymore!” “Nobody in this whole wide world is a punk rocker. No more punk rockers exist assholes!” “My dick is more punk rock than you, suck my dick.” “If you live at the Brewery, I’ve got news for you, my shit flushed down to the sewer this morning is more punk rock than you.” “Henry Rollins has been reduced to writing self-indulgent opinions for the LA Weekly and Flea lives up in some mansion above Camarillo, get the fuck over yourselves already!”

I wanted to turn around and say something but I didn’t because of bullshit. Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. A literary press in Los Angeles is called Punk Hostage Press. Smile. One of their books has the following critical blurb: “…They [the poems] are in the spirit of resistance to dudebro culture and beefpizzle literature. This book is a heartless and utter rejection of the white cis male death grip on all our lives….” What? Yeah. Cis-gendered male death grip. Think about that. Or don’t think about that. You either think about that too hard and your brain will break or you will not think about that hard enough and your brain will make the transition over to NCIS or some bullshit.

While my mind was wandering, the two ancient punk-rockers-who-will-never-die had transitioned to how much they hated grunge in the 90’s. They were arguing L7. One of them says, “I thought L7 meant you were lame.” He makes a rectangle with his fingers but has to turn his hands to show a square. “See ‘L’ with one hand and a ‘7’ with the other- ‘square’.” The other punker’s reaction was deadpan, “I thought L7 was a play on the word ‘lesbian’. L-seven. L-sesbian….” What? Yeah. I had actually heard that.  Instead of standing up and kicking everything in sight, I simply got up and sat somewhere else, out of ear shot. I used to have the hots for Donita Sparks. She would pull out and throw her bloody tampons out into the crowd from stage. Ok. I think that just happened once. But still. I can only achieve Zen thinking about how Donita would have reacted had she just overheard the conversation I just overhead on the redline.

Ommmmmmmmmm. Zen and the Art of Used Bloody Tampon Delivery Systems.

Posted in My Daily Life | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hello

Hello,
another funeral,
another trip home.

When the clouds part and the plane
dips north to south,
like it always does,
I see that shoreline creeping over
to that crooked finger in the distance.
I have to steel myself
and not just for the harsh landing.

Ah, San Juan, Puerto Rico de mi alma,
graffiti city,
fuck you too, you have claimed
too many lives. The bards sing about
your beauty and your essence.
I will not deny you that
but I am your bastard son.
I have walked where bards seldom
make an appearance.

La Perla:
Where the sea salt corrodes every fiber
of your being.
Worse than termites, the wooden shacks
become standing flotsam through the years.
My childhood cot I slept on was always damp
and never dry and my clothes,
my three shirts and two pairs of pants,
waterlogged and seaweed smell.
We were all tanned Calibans.
I remember lifting my feet on the rocking chair
and letting the crabs scurry by in the common room,
not living room, I said common room.

This time, it was my cousin, the musician.
He lived in El Fangito, the muddy place,
you drove your car there at your own risk,
it could get stuck for weeks.
The sidewalks changed with the direction
of the the wooden planks, eventually,
the mud sucked those down too and you
had to lay down new ones.
At least the land was free
and you had no fear of development, at least,
not yet;
in Puerto Rico, there are no new houses
being built, there is no more land,
just new houses being stacked.
You can pay your mortgage by selling
permission to build on top of you.
In El Fangito, you are forced to add extra
rooms above when you see the mud
seeping up through floor.

Anyway, my cousin, the musician.
He’d played at one party or another
and he’d sang a ribald song at the wrong girl.
He was quick with a “bomba”, that guy,
and he’d already gotten one underage
girl pregnant. He was sitting outside
on the porch drinking a medalla when
somebody on horseback rode up,
on horseback,
and struck him across the neck
with a machete.
A gallop-by-slashing, you could say,
and just one of the many ways
to die in Puerto Rico.

At the funeral, resentment hung thick
with the smoke in the air,
for the death, for the circumstance,
for their lives, and towards me,
who had nothing to do with any of it.
You see, I had escaped,
after a fashion, and I had done
the unspeakable and moved to America.
I wore my small modicum of success
without even trying,
much in the same way they bore
their jailhouse tattoos or inch-long
lacquered pinky nails
that was the new fashion trend
to decorate the cocaine nail and
not think it the least effeminate.

My sisters were present as well,
full of resentment,
for having to be there at all.
On the last trip, Maria Elena,
the youngest, wore flip-flops
to take a bath in my grandmother’s tub.
She saw a lizard in there.
The flip-flops started the avalanche
of gossip about the “gringo” side
of the family.

I knew how to get along with them.
When they would walk up to me
and ask how that “writing” thing was going
they all know I moved to Los Angeles
to become a writer- I would reply
as coarsely as I could, what writing?
The women or masturbation over the women
interfere with the writing. I knew
how to earn that slap in the back and
beer in my hand. My resentment can be
understood in the fact that everybody
is conflicted with the place where
they were born and raised.

One postcript to the funeral:
at the very end of San Juan Bay,
at the very tip of the peninsula,
in the old city, stands guard
a picturesque Spanish fort, called El Morro,
which boasts being one of the oldest structures
in the new world.
(The oldest is a brothel)
This fort once guarded the entrance of the bay
and the old city walls from pirates and
enemies of the Spanish crown.
Now, this tourist attraction is where the family
gathers for a quick get together from their
self-imposed diaspora the day after the funeral.

A lone sentry tower extends over the cliffs
overlooking the ocean. About 100 ft. below
are the jagged rocks. I used to love this spot
as a child enthralled with the myth of
forlorn lovers who threw themselves on
the sharp teeth below.
What is new, what is impossibly new,
is that on the two largest rocks,
somebody, somehow, spray painted
the words- “hello”

Hello.

I mean, you can’t swim down there,
the water is too rough, even on a
rowboat or dinghy you are risking
your life. There it was,
mocking and glaring,
and written in English to welcome
the steady stream of tourist looking
out of the sentry tower.

Hello.

Most ironic and most sad
is the angle of the drooping lettering.
By the way the surf was pounding
those rocks,
what was most obvious,
was the letter “o”.
The letter “o” would be the first to fade
and wash away.

Written in 1996, this poem appeared in my first chapbook, Brown Recluse, in the year 2000.

Posted in My Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Six Faces

I live in a miasma of ashes
and the haze of Southern Comfort,
speaking molasses, stuck in sorghum,

and the only sweetness in this life
was watching her smoke
Newport Lights out of the hexahedron.

The tiled table top holds
nail polish droplets,
poker bloodstains and gin rummy,
Peach Shnapps and dominoes,
the girls laughing at the guys.

The bed sheets have been stripped
into bandages and banners
announcing the end of the world,
the odds of love are even with lightning
and true happiness striking lottery winners.

I found a beige bra and a mini skirt
in the bottom drawer; did we eat
bloody steaks across from each other?

Late night Jerry Springer and clatter
before the internet age took over,
drunken dawns and halitosis face to face,
fucking till we were out of breath,

I discovered six faces after developing
lost Kodak cartridges; witness ecstasy
and death, a toothache, a summer’s dress,
a crooked smile over pot filled eyes.

So easy to forget about that time,
looking out the gravel driveway,
the lights being turned off
at the end of the cul-de-sac.

This poem first appeared in Poetic Diversity in April of 2012.

Posted in My Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The One I Love

Don’t bite I said
biting is base
she turned her back to me
sat on side of bed
kicked her legs out tiny tantrum
channel on MTV changed got louder
she hummed a song she liked
sang she half-knew the words
we made out wet saliva
I turned my head
really sought her lips out
kissed them sucked them
she smiled stuck out her tongue
licked my lips I let her
I stared into her pouty
pushed harder into her mouth
with my mouth she sat up again
said no no huh huh naw no no way
time passed on tv was on
some movie
Netflix movie
fan twirled overhead
she stretched
took off her shorts
she naked underneath
keenly I already knew
she asked if I liked her ass
she writhes on bed
I told her I loved her ass
she looked angrily
how much do you love my ass
I said her ass is awesome
her ass is best
she has one hell sexy ass
I want to fuck her ass
she screams pounds on pillows
her fists tiny tiny fists
did leg tantrum kick again
confused I would not fuck her ass
only fuck her from behind promise
she exhausted breathing shallow
I thought she fell asleep
she stretched again looked at me
cunningly cuntishly
asked do you like my ass smiled
innocent not innocent
grabbed me kissed me bit me
I rubbed her ass she stuck knee between my legs
pressed nipples against me
breathed over bit my ear
hard don’t bite
base I whispered softer
I tried convincing her
hey baby I love your ass
I love everything about your ass
your ass really turns me on
I rubbed her ass reached between her legs
parted thick pubic hair from behind
dipped tip of my fingers in
she arched her back no
kicked legs bounced on bed
yelled grunt never gonna happen
never ever gonna happen
slap my hand slapped my face away
scratch claw.

Las Fajitas
we sat outside she could vape
hot as blazes sunglasses reflection
two sips strawberry margarita
threw up down side of balcony
right when they brought entrees
paid I don’t know forty bucks
left food on table
starved stopped at Sonic
she insisted on a Coney
you’re too drunk to eat honey
I’ll be hungry later.

Later
Redbox movie
all I want to do sweetie
watch this with you
already return overdue
The One I Love
about fighting couple
couple who are fighting
go cabin up in the woods
mountains nature
fix their relationship
meet their doppelgangers
their doubles something
their twin selves
no not a horror a romance
you will love this film
already tried watching twice
got sick yesterday
I slept on recliner
you passed out I took shower
somehow gum in my hair.

She moans now
torturous sleep
sleep nightmares
guttural low moans
distortion discomfort
restless leg syndrome
she twists in bed twister
catathrenia
I shrink make myself small
stay long I can stand
watching her
agonizingly
instinctively
she guards her mons venus
she will wrench
thrash twist diagonally
pushing me out
her sweat
vodka breath sweat
get out get out get out
head butt butt heads
sit up push me
flop down moan
dry heave
sleep burp moan.

Some nights
I sleep on the couch
I sleep on the floor.

Posted in My Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jameson Bayles – “searching for a voice” & “haiku”

“Jameson Bayles, a Kansas City, Missouri resident, has been published in various literary magazines and journals. His most recent work can be viewed in issue #10 of Hedgerow and in the poetry anthology ‘The Artistic Muses,’ published by True Colors Press.  Jameson was a featured reader at The Cellar Poetry Series at the Weston Wine Company in Weston, Missouri as well as being featured at ‘It’s A Poetry Thing’ at The Bottleneck in Lawrence, Kansas during National Poetry Month.”


searching for a voice

miles davis and I
went out lookin’ for ms right
the other night

i
remember
my first time

dana scully showed up
pinned me
to my overused easy boy recliner
impaled me
with that midsummer sky stare of hers
she whispered
“semantic symbolism
semantic symbolism”
’till I passed out

when I opened my eyes
i saw a young girl
who slit her wrists
and a poet
dripped
onto
the
floor

i wanted to have her pale palms read
by those who knew her, but they replied
“not all pencils have erasers”

miles davis grabbed
his hypodermic voice
and replied
“string less guitars
overfed dresser drawers
pigeon shit on discarded pages of the Wall Street journal.
reversed circumcisions,
road rage,
frightened coins in a dry urinal.

strap me to your water logged crucifix
pitch me over that bridge you burned long ago
I am underneath the water’s edge like
prechewed gum after a seven o’clock show”

i said
“do wop be bop
and how the fuck
is miles davis anyway?”

i guess I just wanted
to make him proud
of

Haiku

empty post office –
my echo flees
an eager child

stronger than I –
my dying pet
takes his final breath

unanswered questions –
an attentive cat
watches me shave

*Editor’s Note

I have become interested in Haiku and Senryu within the past year or so. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment but I can say with certainty that my interest was peaked after reading an excellent series of Haibun written by the Los Angeles poet and editor, Marie Lecrivain. I liken the discovery of my interest in Haiku to finally drinking a good bottle of wine which sparks an interest in vinification and oenology. In fact, Haiku and winemaking both have many traits in common: Both take years to master, both vary widely by region, both are deceptively simple to the uninitiated, both induce a rare pleasure when imbibed.

I won’t bore you with the details of writing Haiku, in fact, the details would entail complete volumes. The last several books on writing poetry I have bought and read have all been about writing Haiku. My favorite book which I recommend is “The Essential Haiku” edited by Robert Haas. This book contains an excellent introduction and also contains poetry by Basho, Buson, & Issa, the three great masters. Suffice to say that, in my limited understanding, what I enjoy about Haiku and Senryu is the terseness, sparse language, pithiness, strong forcible metaphor.

Japanese Haiku is stricter to form and more traditional. American Haiku is more, ahem, “loosey-goosey.” This is not to say that American Haiku is subordinate to the Japanese original. This is to say that American Haiku has employed a different path and evolution in the poetic form. For instance, in American Haiku, a poet does not have to count syllables. Well, Japanese poets did not have to count syllables either because “syllables” do not translate very well in Kana. But, in American Haiku, a poet doesn’t have to sit there and count strictly to seventeen syllables is what I am trying to say. As long as a poet is “in the ballpark” is good enough. Three line stanzas can be broken up to four lines or five lines, whatever. A poet can even write the Haiku one word per line.

My friend Richard Modiano told me once a long time ago that the difference between Haiku and Senryu is that Haikus have a focus on “nature” and Senryus have a focus on “human nature.”

Jameson Bayles’ poem, “searching for a voice” is a perfect example of a great poem which incorporates Haiku elements into the body of the complete poem at large. The first stanza is a well written Senryu if isolated. The same with the first three lines of the “Dana Scully” stanza and the first three lines of the stanza of the girl with the slit wrists. The language is sparse, concise, precise, and forceful, like a machine gun.

My favorite stanza is also a Senryu where Bayles inserts actual rhythm and music, “i said / ‘do wop be bop / and how the fuck / is miles davis anyway?’”

Included after the poem “searching for a voice” are three Haiku written by Bayles so that the reader can compare and contrast his written single Haiku with the Haiku elements he incorporated into the longer poem.

– Angel Uriel Perales, June 22nd, 2015

Posted in Featured Writer | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Snee Poets

Going through the two dozen or so banker’s boxes in the back of my storage closet has only served to remind me how much University work I’ve done which I have then consequently forgotten. Four boxes full of essays, essays on movies, books, mysteries, art, literature, humanities, and writers, I’ve forgotten how much I photocopied in the library before the age of the internet, boxes full of articles and chapters taken from books and even sometimes whole books copied altogether. Then there are the screenplays, many provided by the film conservatory itself. I have original copies of Chinatown, Fatal Attraction, The Hitcher, Terminator, The Apartment, The Exorcist, to name just a few. We really did live on that campus 24-7, taking classes in the morning, then taking advantage of the library before afternoon classes, then watching screenings going into the night, and then studying and writing past midnight. How we made lasting friendships at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts I will never know. We barely had any time for socializing. And we also had production, making student films constantly all four years. I think we socialized on set and that was about the only time.

Among my papers I found reminders of my life 20 years ago. Love letters, Dear John letters, letters from home, bills paid and unpaid, grades, notes from professors, I have your autograph Laura Hart McKinny, you of OJ Simpson Trial infamy and awesome screenwriting teacher, on a note letting me know of a pending office meeting. I found a 1997 phone book of Winston-Salem, why I thought that was important to lug across the wasteland of America to Los Angeles I have no idea. I found a catalog for “Adam and Eve” which was about my only access to masturbatory titillation at that time. I found two SVHS tapes labeled “student films 1994” probably containing my sophomore final project and that of some of my classmates. I found a post-it note which simply read, “Fuck you Romulus.” I found a torn piece of paper which read, “Michael Cacoyannis, See Stella today don‘t forget!” I imagine that was a reference to attend a screening or to check out the LaserDisc from the film archives to watch for a class the next day or later in the week. I underlined Stella in the reminder three times so the admonition must have been important.

All that knowledge taken in. All that knowledge consequently forgotten. And by the time I got to Los Angeles none of that knowledge mattered. None of it mattered, not the fact that I was a Dean’s Scholar and a recipient of a scholarship all four years or that I absorbed all the classic films like a fish first experiencing water. None of it mattered. The only thing that mattered was how well I got along with others in a workplace and how fast I could turn my work around without mistakes in a newsroom and if I was willing to work through my lunch or work overtime without complaint. Being clever and educated took a back seat to being able to connect with others on a very basic level. I had to be able to talk sports with the guys and gossip about the love life of celebrities with the ladies. That was the extent of what got you noticed in a workplace. This life of a love for films and writing poetry and actually being educated extensively in what became an avocation secondary to a vocation was better kept secret, lest you be branded “strange” and a “weirdo” and “something is off, just not quite right” and the worst label- “pretentious.”

I spent all that time preparing for my move to Los Angeles because I felt that I needed to be at the top of my game to compete in this city and when I get here I find out that I am working with people who could care less where you went to school, what you have learned or what you have studied, what you can actually bring to the table except, of course, what is expedient at hand.

In the LA poetry scene, the question is how long have you been active locally? Or how long have you hosted a particular venue? A poet could be the shittiest writer alive but if they have been active in the scene for 25 years and hosted some open mic at some coffeehouse for the last 10 of those years then they are venerated as the greatest living LA poet alive ever. And you have to play the game, you have to get in the queue and coo and caw over these venerated poets for a bit before you are even vaguely acknowledged by the cool kids. If you come in roaring and lay down the gauntlet and demand respect according to your writing ability, this will never work.

Case in point- I went to see the feature of another Puerto Rican poet once. She seemed very nice, went to an Ivy League school, got up and read poem after poem about race and political identity. I was happy. Then I introduced myself and spoke to her in Spanish, told her I was also from Puerto Rico and during the open mic I read a poem about my childhood “3 Facts for Mathilda.” Result? She was unhappy from the moment I introduced myself as another Puerto Rican poet and she has never talked to me again. Ever. And I’ve seen her several times at several poetry events. I smile and wave at her. She looks away.

Another case in point- I was at the Cobalt when this other poet gets up on stage and talks at length about attending the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. She talks about how hard the school was being a conservatory and all and how she consequently made her way through auditions to Los Angeles where she is now trying to make it as an actress. After her feature, I walk up to her and I tell her I too am a graduate from UNCSA (except at the time I graduated the school was only NCSA.) She had a hard time suppressing her incredulity. After asking me a few question to establish my bona fides, she changed the topic and never spoke to me about UNCSA ever again. This poet was friendlier than the Puerto Rican poet, at least this one accepted my friend’s request on Facebook, but whenever I tried bringing up her experiences at UNCSA it was like I was bringing up rotting dead babies in a ditch or something; she always made a distasteful face and refused to talk about school, even though we attended the same school ten years apart.

LA has a habit of forming their own poetry groups where they then give out their own poetry awards. This is really hilarious to me. Some poet makes up some group like “The Poets Who Say Snee” and then they have an open mic at some coffeehouse for a few years and then they put out an anthology of “The Snee Poets” and then if they build this up after a while they start giving out “The Snee Poetry Awards.” If you happen to point out that some of the Snee Poets are not very good, then you get shot down with a “What have you ever done for the community? Have you ever run your own Snee Poetry group for six years hmmm? No? Then shut the fuck up nobody cares about your opinion.”

Ok. I’m tired. I don’t know how to end this rant. I don’t know how to bring about a denouement. In my papers I found a photograph of a tomb whose headstone read, “Hitchcock.” This was not Alfred Hitchcock’s tomb, no, for he died in Beverly Hills and was cremated with his ashes scattered over the Pacific. This was some poor sap buried in Old Salem, in the Moravian cemetery, “God’s Acre,” about a mile from the film school.  I took a picture. I lost the picture. I found the picture 20 years later in a cobwebby banker‘s box. I then pinned the picture to a cork board in my kitchen.

Posted in My Daily Life | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SENRYU SENRYU SENRYU

April is fun poetry month and, in the spirit, I asked my Facebook friends to send me some Senryu.  First let me provide a definition of Senryu.  From Wiki:

Senryū (川柳?, literally ‘river willow’) is a Japanese form of short poetry similar to haiku in construction: three lines with 17 or fewer total morae.   Senryū tend to be about human foibles while haiku tend to be about nature, and senryū are often cynical or darkly humorous while haiku are more serious. Unlike haiku, senryū do not include a kireji (cutting word), and do not generally include a kigo, or season word.

Ok so that Wiki description was a bit academic.  The short and sweet of Senryu is that Senryu is like a haiku but instead of focusing on regular “Nature” the poem focuses on “Human Nature.”

So without further ado, here are some Senryu my friends sent me:

ERIC LAWSON- Inglewood, CA

Driftwood bonfire flames
Keep my coffee fueled daydreams
Afloat for night owls

Her hair, once blonde hue
Now a shimmering brunette
Still reeks of henna

Oral fixation
is but a taste-tester’s perk
amidst free samples

FRANK MUNDO- Rancho Cucamonga, CA

Let’s order pizza
For our wedding reception
Said no gays ever

Bush and Chaney swore
The economy was sound
And fury followed

If you do not see
People in terms of color
You only see white

No one can erase
400 years of slave trade
Except Ben Affleck

STEVE GOLDBERG- Cleveland, OH

Vertical #1
Looking
Up
and
down
reading

forward
and
sideways

reveal
new
meanings

Vertical #2
Japan
writes
like
this.

We
twist
heads
to
read
our
way.

Eastern
wisdom
here.

Vertical #3
Mind
climbs
down
from
sky

lands
on
earthbound
meadow
brook

Mud
sucking
feet
home.

(My apologies to Steve.  I couldn’t format the poems the way he wanted them to cascade down on the page.  I tried for hours but WordPress was obstinate in denying me the technical skills to format the way the poems should look on the page.)

RICHARD MODIANO- Venice, CA

Sitting in the easy chair
No cat
In my lap

MANI SURI- Lake Balboa, CA

“Spring Night”

Hunger
One early spring night
Came I just lonely to her
And ravenously.

Joy
That early spring night
Came she on chargers divine
In utter delight.

Birth
Some early spring night
Look you to the stars above
Find our nebula.

KURT HARGAN- Santa Monica, CA

Creeping kitchen bugs
City streets full of people
Go and get the spray

Homeless cries and begs
His Oscar should go well with
His expensive shoes

I know you will think
This was written about you
Sides hurt with laughter

Next door speaking loud
Door open for us to hear
All their emptiness

Mower blows over
All his trimmings to our side
Tomorrow blown back

CHARLES CLAYMORE- Los Angeles, CA

Oh, I don’t know. Let
me think about it a bit.
I’ll get back to you.

Ah, I got nothing.
Would that it were otherwise
Another five beats.

Call for poetry!
I never know what to do.
Everybody writes.

ANGEL URIEL PERALES- Valley Village, CA

White skulls feed flora
in Aokigahara Forest,
my centipede smile.

Japanese stark
slices of life,
a tatami mat,
three balls of rice.

DEBORAH P. KOLODJI- Temple City, CA

empty bottle
of sunscreen
Black’s Beach

LA traffic
our lady of the perpetually
late

your sour face
I add pineapple
to my grapefruit juice

*lingerie drawer
after the divorce
skimpier

*first published in Japan in the Shichi-Go column in the Daily Yomiuri (8-10-2004), reprinted in the Winter 2005 issue of Simply Haiku, anthologized in “After Shocks:  The Poetry of Recovery” edited by Tom Lombardo, Santa Lucia Books, 2008.  Reprinted here with permission from the author.

TERRY MCCARTY- Canoga Park, CA

My Fisrt Senryu
three in the morning
watch film noir again
part of safe exciting life

DOUGLAS RICHARDSON- Los Angeles, CA

Pedro in the streets
fearing for his life
hip-hop anthems ring hollow

rest stops on a highway
everyone and no one
are going my way

MARIE LECRIVAIN- Los Angeles, CA

“Monsterpalooza 2014, Burbank, CA”

So many creatures
Jam up the halls
It’s a monster mash

werewolf, vampire,
and swamp thing,
the Three Musketeers

A young Vampira
glides past
24 inch waist

Sleestack
or Lovecraft candles
both shine darkly

“Do you sell
Hentai DVDs”
silence

Butch Patrick mobbed
for autographs still smiles
like Eddie Munster

inside every girl
resides
The Bride of Frankenstein

theremin waltz
in A minor prelude
to a ghostly encounter

| Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Apryl Skies – “a capella”

a cappella

there is a page I continue to turn to
where a southern pacific marine layer
dissipates over a valley horizon.

angels are imagined but fall hard
despite such hopeful wings.
there is eye contact over whiskey and wine,
a cappella rendition of song few have heard.

time releases a universal pause,
music is made, art adored and
poetry perceived in an empty glass
on a lacquered, oak wood bar.

he knows the exact shade of her eyes, she his
she is reminded of clouds
over the slow flame of Leonard Cohen,
the blue burn of Coltrane and Armstrong.

a thing of alchemy here in this darkened room,

absorbing the sunshine of each other’s bones.

———————

BIO:  Apryl Skies, an LA native, shares a birthday with Anaïs Nin, W.H. Auden and the emotive Nina Simone. She is an award-winning author of A Song Beneath Silence and Skye the Troll & Other Fairy Tales for Children. The latter, Skye the Troll has been adapted to clay animation, winning the 2010 Gold Pixie award by the American Pixel Academy. Skies is founder and editor of Edgar & Lenore’s Publishing House of Sherman Oaks and with several titles hitting the number one best-sellers list for Amazon, she is currently building solid momentum in the publishing industry. Skies expresses her devotion to the written & spoken word with a quiet intensity; a superbly visual and telling writer, whose work holds merit among authors both classic and new. Skies work has been published in the U.S., Ireland, Canada, Australia, U.K., Spain & France. Skies is currently studying Irish Gaelic, Italian and Spanish. Several of her poems have recently been translated into Spanish.

——————————————————


*Editor’s Notes:

Form is in the beauty is in the form.  A quick way to recognize and differentiate poetry from prose is in the change of conventions as learnt,  no capitalization, chosen punctuation, lines long enough for only a full breath of mental vocalization.  Also, a poet must craft with a delicate artistry, place specific words with X-acto knife pen precision.  On top of that, the poet must incorporate sound, meter, and thought into a flowing cadence of impacted meaning.  Apryl Skies weaves all these elements masterfully in the above poem.

First stanza establishes locale as inspiration and grabs the reader’s attention.  Second stanza elaborates while simultaneously condenses into specifics.  Poets please learn this technique as exemplified:  Elaboration is specification! We know where we are, we know what is happening, we are being inundated by feelings invoked.  Poetry rarely works as well as this.

Third stanza is about the memory made and the reason the scene is worth poetry.  This stanza is also a perfect transition into the significant intention for the writer.

Love, affection, connection, communicating with another human and letting the world know this human is important to me is, possibly, one of the most important functions of poetry.  Revealing what is hard to convey in a beautiful manner augments exponentially a writer’s depth of feeling.  The last two stanzas bring this point home.  The ending couplet being the indelible exclamation mark binding the writer to her subject and beautifully done.  Form is in the beauty is in the form.

Posted in Featured Writer | Tagged , , | Leave a comment