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Friday, April 25, 2014

Bad ideas, with art by Joakim Drescher

by Joakim Drescher

Paul used to say—like if I suggested
going up to the G sharp and ending
the song there—never returning to D—
he’d crash the cymbal and cry, “Bad thinking—
let’s try it!” One advantage of our band

aligning itself with Dadaism
was how experiments tended to stick
around, fermenting into pearlescent,
ginger liquor that could thrill or sicken
audiences. My squeezebox case is closed

these days, and my creative output picked
into friendly, nit-free execution.
It’s been years since I grabbed a trout and whacked
it against piano keys in passions
of Art. The cleaning staff hasn’t minded,

it seems, the less explosive expression
of my most dissonant, fishy notions.



Friday, April 18, 2014

Ill, illus. by the incredible Cybele Rowe

Ill



Woke up a few inches above the sheets.
My bones were poking out of every pore.
The blankets hovered on my sharpest points.
I warned my waking wife, “Don’t roll over.
I’m pokey again.” “What? Ow. Okay. It’s

going to be all right.” She rose fast to pour
lotion into my hands. This I patted
on, leaving globs suspended from the hair-
thin needles covering me. She chattered
to make it all seem normal. “I think that’s

a good reason to call in sick,” she said.
“Would you do it?” I asked. “Okay. You go
to the garden. I’ll call Guy.” The sky bled
pinks and golds as I stopped and let my toes’
tender skin greet the cold, bare soil. My core

felt warm though frost stood in the garden rows,
and I was naked as a winter rose.





I'm totally honored to include work by the renowned sculptor Cybele Rowe.
Check out her art at cybelerowe.com.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Eclipse during Saturn return, illustration by Chamisa Kellogg

O:
A black hole
in a ruddy glow.
The moon went incognito.
The earth followed suit. We reeled below

like drunken twentysomething werewolves in snow.
Two men gone bloody under the penumbra. When clans
of carnivores meet their brethren, we howl concertos—
hunt and howl long Os in transcendent, blood-bound harmonies.
Sleek-furred, open-nostrilled, taut-muscled, Josho and I

twined our vulpine, astronomical supplications
for connective joy—for mirrors, partners, orbits—
we caterwauled our throats raw for women.
When the frozen white light returned,
we panted our prayers, so

blessed by earth-moon
union.






by Chamisa Kellogg. Yeah, Chamisa!


This is a great example of an illustration that changes the poem. For me,
it wasn't a poem about werewolves, though the memory I wrote about
certainly had that flavor and worked with the imagery of lycanthropy.
At the same time, other poems in the book refer to vampires, Frankenstein's
monster, The Pale Man from Pan's Labyrinth, and so on. I like the
interpretation of this as a "monster poem." Were were pretty bestial
after all.

Friday, April 4, 2014

"Mickey, who was a social worker," with art by Veronica De Jesus



Imagine The Three Stooges’ Larry Fine,
the curly haired one, as a loveable
gentleman with enthusiastic eyes.
Even when I was a kid and babbling,
he’d look at me like the shiniest dime.

I can see the mensch now, unshakeable
in the fertile bedrock of family line—
and his seven kids, equally stable,
so that when I talked, they paid attention;
and when I grew I recognized the signs

of traditional Jewish compassion,
the transplant’s sensed duty to share the bread.
Pre-nuclear family American
head of a larger household, wherein heads
put together put meals on the table—

food for the city, haven for the child.
Whatever I said, Uncle Mickey smiled.



Veronica De Jesus does amazing portraits. If you're in SF, check out Dog Eared Books on Valencia at 20th St.