True Love in the Age of Microwaves or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love my Dumb Poemsкод для вставкиСкачать
TRUE LOVE IN THE AGE OF MICROWAVES OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE MY DUMB POEMS A THESIS Presented to the Department of English California State University, Long Beach In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Fine Arts By Benjamin Klein B.A., 2000, Chapman University May 2005 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. UMI N um ber: 1429241 INFORMATION TO USERS The quality of this reproduction is dependent upon the quality of the copy submitted. Broken or indistinct print, colored or poor quality illustrations and photographs, print bleed-through, substandard margins, and improper alignment can adversely affect reproduction. In the unlikely event that the author did not send a complete manuscript and there are missing pages, these will be noted. Also, if unauthorized copyright material had to be removed, a note will indicate the deletion. ® UMI UMI Microform 1429241 Copyright 2006 by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved. This microform edition is protected against unauthorized copying under Title 17, United States Code. ProQuest Information and Learning Company 300 North Zeeb Road P.O. Box 1346 Ann Arbor, Ml 48106-1346 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. © Copyright 2005 Benjamin Klein ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. WE, THE UNDERSIGNED MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE, HAVE APPROVED THIS THESIS TRUE LOVE IN THE AGE OF MICROWAVES OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE MY DUMB POEMS By Benjamin Klein COMMITTEE MEMBERS CHSnes Harper Webb, Ph.D. (Chair) English - .................... Gerald Locklin, Ph.D. « English George Hart, Ph.D. English ACCEPTED AND APPROVED ON BEHALF OF THE UNIVERSITY Gerry Riposa, Ph.' Associate Dean, College of Liberal Arts California State University, Long Beach May 2005 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. ABSTRACT TRUE LOVE IN THE AGE OF MICROWAVES OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE MY DUMB POEMS By Benjamin Klein May 2005 This thesis is a collection of thoughts and poems concerned primarily with investigating the wonderful and ridiculous problem of my life. My hope is that the poems herein contain ingenuity, wit, and charm, as well as shameless charisma and style. This project is intended as a means by which I can begin to understand, refine, and elucidate the themes which motivate my writing, education, and my life. Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER Page 1. INTRODUCTION................................................ 1 2. METHODOLOGY....................................................................................... 7 3. CONCLUSION............................................................................................. 14 APPENDIX............................................................................................................... 16 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Beginnings give me the “heebeejeebees.” Something in them reeks of duplicity, connivery, charlatanism. In other words, how should I know? The golden sun rising majestically over the hills, the where, how, who . . . none of it interests me. I have always had trouble making my brain sit still. I seem unable stop the words in my head from becoming sentences, which in turn become thoughts, which in turn become concepts, assertions, ideas, ad infinitum. This biological quirk has proven itself somewhat of a stumbling block to the establishment and maintenance of what one may call a normal, functional life. I am an insomniac, and I did not learn to tie my shoes until the fourth grade. I routinely forget important dates, deadlines, and occasions. I barely remember my birthday let alone anyone else’s. I misplace crucial documents, lose money, and can never find socks. All things considered, it seems that my brain has long since abandoned the “real world” with its necessary mendacities, and is content gallivanting about the cosmos with little to no regard as to how I can get through the day without my car keys. This is where the poetry comes in. Gradually, the words and thoughts featured in my daily and nightly meanderings and ruminations have worked their way onto paper in the form of lines and stanzas. By and large, this is my poetry. At night, under the merciless scarlet glare of the clock radio, 1 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. at work, in museums and grocery stores, I talk to myself. I have imaginary conversations. I think about my credit cards, friends, women, sandwiches, art, and God. I imagine what I will say at my father’s funeral; I imagine making love in a submarine; I wonder what Budapest is like and which one of my wives lives there. I sing songs to myself. I think about dying, and living, and sex. I mumble incessantly. People comment on the circles around my eyes, and say I should take something to help me sleep. Writing has been if nothing else the survival mechanism which has allowed me to retain a rudimentary amount of sanity throughout my life. I now think, for the most part, in poems. Poetry is simultaneously the referee, the traffic light, and the pinball machine which has taken up residence in my mind. Imagine if you will the Swedish Chef (Muppet), Wonder Woman, and Woody Allen siring a child. I have developed a mania, an obsession for getting the proper words out of my head and onto the pages in the proper order. Ultimately, I am thankful for poetry and the outlet it provides. I can think of no other forum wherein the collective flotsam and jetsam of my psyche, the nonsensical, cosmically dimwitted detritus of my cerebral cortex as it has come to manifest itself is not only tolerated, but celebrated. As a result, when I am writing poetry, there arises in me this sort of dynamism. A pervasive energy, coupled with a sense of well-being and happiness which I can find virtually nowhere else in my life. I laugh; I guffaw; I smile; I gesticulate unabashedly. Hopefully, this energy is manifested in the poems themselves, and some of the heart and soul poured into each of them manages to wriggle its grubby way into the retina and corpuscles of the reading audience, whoever they may be. I am 2 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. by no stretch of the imagination the most industrious or disciplined of writers. I have no set writing schedule, do not keep a journal, and oftentimes am lucky if I can find twenty minutes out of the day to devote solely to the creation of poems. However, when I am prevented from writing for long periods of time, whether due to my own negligence or circumstances beyond my control, I become depressed, and lethargic. I have found that more often than not, the quality of mood I am in can be attributed to how often and how well I am writing. When I am writing frequently and well, I, much like Frosty, am a jolly happy soul. Conversely if I am writing badly, or not at all, I, much like Frosty in July, am a decorticated puddle. Writing seems to play a vital role in the maintenance of my basic psychological and physiological well-being, and some of my happiest moments are those spent cloistered away in a comer somewhere scribbling to my heart’s content. Those are the times when my consciousness relents, slides over to the side, and lets the ever-present backseat-driver in my head take the wheel and steer for awhile. There are of course a myriad of variables when considering the roots and influences of my poems. Genetics is partially to blame. My father was a sports journalist for a great deal of his life, and my mother insists she read copious amounts of Blake, Verlaine, and Neruda while I was in her uterus. My mother is extremely intelligent. I do not believe h a - for a minute. I do however credit my mother for passing on to me her penchant for the printed word. I distinctly remember her as always having a book hovering just in front of her face, eyes glazed in a silent meditative reverie. I must have been intrigued by this 3 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. voluntary catatonia she immersed herself in, because I was soon begging her permission to read the books that she read. At some point she acquiesced, and I immersed myself in the pop-fiction of writers like Dean Koontz, Stephen King, and Michael Crichton. As a result, my first attempt at fiction was a three page sci-fi novella, in which the main character was either a time-traveling mutant, a vampire, or both, I cannot remember. I was eleven. My mother read it, and yelled at me because on page two my protagonist utilized the expletive “goddamn it.” Of course it was not long until I grew tired of relatively mundane and predictable best-sellers, and I began to root through the library for something different. It was here that I encountered writers like S. E. Hinton, Aldous Huxley, and J. D. Salinger. Books like Brave New World and Rumble Fish completely altered my understanding and appreciation of fiction. I began to recognize reading and writing not only as recreational activities, but as incredibly powerful cultural phenomena that held within them enormous potential. With writing one could create at will, give birth to entire worlds in the span of a paragraph. Writing seemed the conduit through which thoughts and ideas took on relevance, significance, and ultimately meaning. A way to be heard. Despite some of the early critical response I had experienced, I continued writing, though never in any organized, thorough manner. The vast majority of my early “work” consisted of a haphazard collection of awful short stories, tepid novellas, and truly ghastly poems read only by myself and my closest companions. However, I enjoyed reading immensely, and was able to mimic what I read well enough to begin to put a 4 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. sentence together from time to time. My rather voracious reading habit, coupled with the need to crank out hundreds of essays throughout high school and college is how I learned the nuts and bolts of writing. I received my bachelor’s degree in English (creative writing emphasis) in the year 2000 A.D. from Chapman University which is located in Orange, California. When I graduated, my favorite professor admonished, “Ben, just put off getting a real job for as long as possible.” I still believe this is one of the finest pieces of advice I have ever received. Never one to ignore professorial guidance, I took a year off to figure out what I was going to do next. It was during this time that I traveled extensively in Western Europe, which turned out to be rather boring. I have written a few poems about it. There are a lot of great old buildings there, and some great paintings, and sometimes the women will talk to you, but by and large it is just like here, only smaller, smarter, and less overtly obnoxious. After I returned from abroad, I got a job working in a book store located in that veritable Mecca of intellectuality known as South Coast Plaza. I was not in school, was not writing, and was not pining for Rome. As fate would have it, the poetry section was located directly in front of the cash register, and after I had finished the autobiography of L. L. Cool J, my gaze happened upon a book with a grizzled old man on the cover. The book was You Get So Alone Sometimes It Just Makes Sense by Charles Bukowski. I read it, as well as two others by “Buk,” that night, and by the next day I was writing. Within a year I had decided that poetry was the only medium I was interested in pursuing, finding 5 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. myself unable, and perhaps unwilling, to write anything else. As I told a professor-friend of mine, “I would like to keep writing short stories, and maybe a novel, but without characters, dialogue, plot, or a specific setting of any land.” Upon hearing my decision to pursue a master’s degree in poetiy, my father asked, “When do you get a job?” I spoke to my father yesterday, and he asked me the same question. When I tell people I am pursuing a master’s degree in poetry, they say “What are you going to do with that?” I usually say, “Conquer the entire universe,” to which they usually reply, “Oh.” I am a fan of healthy skepticism. In this case, it is probably entirely warranted. Poetry is not exactly the most lucrative of fields one can go into. In fact, I think it ranks just below assistant rodeo clown in terms of income. But as an exceptionally deluded individual once said, “Money isn’t everything.” I write, and I want to write well. Period. I enrolled in the MFA, which has proven invaluable to me in terms of my growth as both an aspiring artist, and an aspiring person. I can say that my exposure to the exceptional work and ideas of my peers and professors, as well as their gracious and careful consideration of mine, has benefited me in ways that I am just now beginning to fully comprehend. If I amount to anything, it is no doubt due to these gifted and amazing individuals, to whom I am eternally grateful, and cannot thank enough. 6 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. CHAPTER 2 METHODOLOGY It is important to know what to give up. In the fourth grade, I abandoned saxophone after only three weeks. A few years later I picked up the drums, and I ended up playing reasonably well for a long time. Last month I sold my kit for sixteen-hundred dollars. I cannot explain the sense of relief I felt when I loaded my drums off into a complete stranger’s track, and watched him drive off into the proverbial sunset. If asked why I felt this way, I might say, “Have you listened to a Buddy Rich record? Who needs the pressure?” I am not a brilliant musician, and it is partially out of the immense respect I have for brilliant musicians that I decided to stop playing. I did not want to become yet another boring musician, playing boring music, with nothing interesting to contribute, who for all intents and purposes should have stopped a long time ago. My assertions regarding music are directly analogous to my feelings about writing. I write poetry because I feel I do it well and have much to contribute to the world of poetry in general. Writing, like music, should be performed with the utmost vivacity, passion, and commitment, or not at all. I have no patience for average music, average writing, or average art in general, and furthermore I will not be an accomplice to, or responsible for, its proliferation. I demand that the poetry I read, and especially the poetry I create, be engaging, compelling, and extremely well-written. 7 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. One would think that this attitude would be commonplace in the creative community; however, a seemingly overwhelming majority of individuals seem quite content with creating boring art. There are a lot of people writing extremely bad poetry. Furthermore, there is a whole lot of bad poetry being published. So much so, in fact, that poetry’s popularity is at an all-time low in contemporary culture. And dare I say, rightfully so. Unfortunately, this is what occurs when not enough people know when to quit. Not enough people within the artistic community have the decency, or presence of mind to question their talent, or decided lack thereof. The copious production and overrepresentation of bad art and the subsequent necessity for better, more ingenious art is now more than ever virtually self-evident. This is an assertion which is as far as I can see beyond debate. However, while endeavoring to create art in a dynamic fashion, an unfortunate upshot which can occur is excessively high standards. While it is often the case that poets and artists need to be more cynical and demanding in regards to their own work, it is possible on the other hand to be so critical of one’s own work, that nothing ever gets written. For years, I could not write anything that was good enough to warrant putting it down on paper. I was caught in a kind of “Catch-22” wherein I wanted so badly to create a relevant piece of writing, yet nothing I wrote seemed to satisfy my lofty aspirations. I became obsessed with finding the right words. I spent months where I could not write so much as a legible sentence without analyzing it to the point of exhaustion. I was terrified of writing, and terrified at the prospect of failing. A professor of mine has a phrase he likes to use which has proven invaluable to me. The phrase is: “They can’t all be Prufrock.” Up until I began to 8 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. appreciate the fundamental truth behind this phrase, I was a bit of an obsessive wreck. I was an objectivist one moment, a performance artist the next. I did not “write poems,” I “arranged language phenomena.” I bristled at being called a writer, and cringed at the word “poetry,” and I was exceptionally wary of everything I wrote. If something came onto the page that was not about to blow the roof off of the entire artistic community, if not the entire planet, I wanted nothing to do with it. I was a delusional goofball with the best of intentions. As trite as it sounds, there is a point where one has to learn to like, if not love one’s own work. This typically involves looking into the mirror one day and saying: “I am not Charles Bukowski; I am not Ezra Pound; I am not Robinson Jeffers.” I believe the technical term is, “Getting Over It.” One of the most important things I have learned in the MFA is how to stop worrying and love my dumb poems. Be they experimental, vulgar, solipsistic, overtly funny, or downright weird, I have come to appreciate the fact that it is perfectly acceptable to write all kinds of poems, and that one is much better off not trifling over relatively irrelevant problems of definition and interpretation. At this stage in the game, I am grateful that anything got written in the first place, and I hope it keeps coming. I have come to the realization that you do not necessarily need to worry about what comes out, so much as you need to worry when it stops coming at all. I do not like to think of myself as an especially lazy or apathetic individual; however, I am becoming increasingly wary of any activity, particularly in the way of art, which requires an excruciating amount of effort on my part. Big Fat Lie: “Nothing good 9 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. ever comes easy.” I have come to realize that one of the reasons I write poetry is because for me, it is easy. Not only is it easy, but when I am doing it right, it becomes as effortless and enjoyable an activity as holding hands with an attractive woman, or eating jelly beans. I try to write as quickly and as painlessly as possible. I cannot see the value in getting worked up and making my life miserable over something. It is not good for the artist, or the art for that matter. Big Fat Lie: “Art is suffering.” This is a delusion that I labored under for an embarrassingly long period of time, and it is as pretentious as it is dangerous. If writing makes me poor and angry and miserable, I should do something else. In other words, no more poems about not being able to pay rent. As far as techniques, I like short lines. I prefer three to five words per line, and I have noticed my stanzas gravitate around the five-line mark. My poems are generally one to two pages in length, but have been known to ramble on for up to six depending on the occasion. I prefer not to have a lot of punctuation cluttering up the page. I find excessive dots, quotation marks, and other such debris distract the eye, and thus interrupt the overall velocity of the poem. I am not a fan of capitalization. Something about capital letters reeks of authoritarianism, bravado, and machismo. I enjoy the understated, even demure appearance of the lowercase. I have heard that my poetry is laconic, terse, deadpan, and minimalist. My artistic influences vary considerably, and include professional wrestling, women, cities, joy, music and failure. I have heard that there is some interesting range and eclecticism in my poetry. Part of this is deliberate, merely poetic ingenuity, and 10 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. shameless creativity; however, most of this results from random phenomena which have occurred throughout my life. I was lucky that the first cassette tapes I owned as a child were the Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bollocks, Bill Cosby’s Wonderjulness, and an audio recording of the novel Tom Sawyer. I try to write good poetry. This may, can, and often does include poems which are called language poems, post-modem poems and surrealist poems. I have also been known to write poems that are called post-structural poems, stand-up poems, funny poems, and sad poems. I am not sure, but I may have written some poems that are called jazz poems deep-image poems, and slam poems. I try to avoid writing poems that are bad poems, lame poems, and dumb poems. I try not to concern myself with poetic debates. Much discussion has taken place regarding the role of poetry and the poet within the contemporary literary and artistic landscape. Is poetry still relevant? Does poetry matter? I have a difficult enough time managing to find a pair of socks that match; I do not need poetic responsibilities confounding the issue. I find myself with ideas and words. For me this is where the proverbial rubber will always meet the proverbial road. My poems are the words and ideas that I like the most. Poetry is relevant for those who choose to make it so. I do not know, nor do I particularly care if poetry matters. Evidently, I care about writing poems. If my attitude changes, I will stop writing poems. Whether or not any of this matters in the grand scheme of things is anybody’s guess. Despite what many in the academy and the arts would have us believe, it is my firm belief that poetry does not need rescuing. Poetry does not want me returning it to its 11 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. rightful place of “immanence” in mainstream America. Poetry does not need me. Poetry will do what it needs to do. It will die if necessary. It will be reviled, championed, run through the ringers of the academy, snuffed into the ashtrays of publishing houses, spread up one side of die cosmos and down the other if it so endeavors. I think one of the most important aspects of writing is learning one’s insignificance in relation to the art. Most importantiy, be humble. Be gracious and appreciative. Be grateful to be allowed to take part, for however short or long a time, in the joy and rhythm and life of it. I detest poetry that labors under the illusion that it is poetry, and seeks at all costs and at every opportunity to remind its respective audience of its authenticity. I hate art that is self-conscious, self-congratulatory, and self-obsessed. I have nothing but disdain for poetry that is utterly convinced of its own merit and worth. Need we be so eager to proclaim ourselves poets, and what we write as poetry in the first place? As it is articulated by poets such as Gerald Locklin, Russel Edson, and Frank O’Hara, perhaps it is not our place, and best left to posterity, to deem us worthy of such titles. .1 have a feeling that one of the sole moralities of poetry, and I hope my poetry, lies in its ability to deal in the self-evident. Poetry composed of words which have an inherent beauty and such-ness, and what can be referred to as Right-Here-Ness. I like to think of the poems I write as Right-Here. The Right-Here poem is a poem that starts before it begins, and continues starting throughout its duration and eventual ending. It can be understood as an extension of tension. It is a process by which the poem aspires to a level of velocity, a momentum which carries the reader down the page and suspends the reader after the poem has finished. 12 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. The idea for Right-Here comes out of my desire to create poems with an immediacy to them, an urgency. I want my poems to convey a kinetic force, a transfer of energy which interacts between the author, poem and reader. The poems I enjoy most are poems that “hit.” I want to read and write poems that “hit”. I try to steer clear of descriptive language, overt sentiment, and political or social didacticism in my poems. I do not insist that my poems “mean,” either. I prefer to rely on images, sounds, and rhythm, and I deliberately try to employ to the best of my ability intelligence, wit, humor, style, and charisma in my writing. In other words, I am sick of boring poems. 13 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. CHAPTER 3 CONCLUSION Unlike beginnings, endings do not give me the “heebeejeebees.” They do however give me the “willies,” and occasionally even the “creeps.” They bring with them a distinct air of fallacy, melodramatic melancholy, fatalism: “The blood-red sun dipping ominously into the ocean.” What can one hope for? My sincerest desire above all else is that I will continue writing. I would hate to think that I have put this much time and effort into something only to discard and abandon it as readily and carelessly as one would a dilapidated ceiling fan. Furthermore, I would hate to become the type of individual whose conversations gravitate towards the fact that they used to do something worthwhile. I hope I will never live to tell people that I used to write. It is like telling someone you used to be attractive or interesting. I would like nothing more than to have the privilege of one day becoming an English professor. It is really the only profession I can imagine myself in, and consequently the only one I am somewhat qualified for, besides hand-modeling or professional air hockey. Whether or not my formal education will continue, I cannot say. As of now the idea of pursuing a doctorate seems daunting, if not impossible. Of course I 14 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. can recall thinking approximately the same thing about an MFA after receiving my bachelor’s. Annette Funicello, of course, said it best: “Que Sera, Sara.” This entire project is intended among other things as a solemn and sincere love letter to the many professors, (particularly the ones on this committee), friends, comrades, and colleagues who I have been lucky enough to associate with over the duration of my academic years. I am forever indebted to you all for the patience, humor, and wisdom you have shown me, and I consider you all family. I pray that this introduction, and the preceding poems are worthy of your attention, and in some way a testament to the life you have given me. I would like to thank my sister Molly for being a great friend and partner-incrime, and my mother and father for their weird genes, as well as their unwavering support, financial and otherwise. I wholeheartedly thank the women who have allowed me to bask in their wonderfulness, and shamelessly fiddle with their extremities, to whom a great number of these poems are dedicated. Thank you Discover Card, Check ‘n’ Go, Prince, Frank O’Hara, Buk, the Sex Pistols, and any other entity or establishment that has made things easier on me. 15 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. APPENDIX 16 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. gun ask yourself when was the last time you made a gun out of your fingers and pretend-shot it at some body only to realize that the same hands which made your pretend-gun which you pretend-shot are now pretending all by themselves they pretend-wave pretend-hold with other hands they pretend to touch the make pretened-guns without you and pretend-shoot whoever they damn well please 17 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Comrade Doomnikov and the Legend of the Siberian Deathlock It is common knowledge among professional wrestlers that the Siberian Deathlock can only be successfully administered by six individuals in either hemisphere (Comrade Doomnikov is one such individual) yet many are unaware of a crucial prerequisite that the Siberian Deathlock must only be performed in years ending in a prime number on only two occasions has necessity required Comrade Doomnikov to utilize the deathlock the first against Mexico Max the Man-Mangier as a result Mexico Max never wrestled again and for the rest of his life had trouble dancing and couldn’t have played badminton even if he had wanted to the second against Rude Mike Comrade Doomnikov Was in danger of being publicly debased in his hometown of Bethesda, Maryland and out of desperation 18 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. administered the Siberian Deathlock and having failed to consult a calendar that day spattered all 345 fans in attendance with Rude Mike’s upper middle and Iowa: intestines along with the vast majority of what was later identified as his spleen 19 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. the man thought to have invented irony explained to the ketchup bottle in the center of the table “yes the whole irony thing... i had up until that point been earning my living through jaywalking exclusively a fact that you may find fascinating remarkable even.” he opened his briefcase and finally showed me the manta-ray to which he had been constantly alluding and onto which he promptly emptied the contents of his wine glass before the briefcase closed he gave the beast a reassuring pat on its back and said “but you know the old saying: give them enough rope...” 20 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. a license plate frame in front of me in traffic reads: “Zionists out of palestine! stop the holocaust!” i thought about the driver of the car at the county fair or maybe the mall reading the sign on the booth “personalized license plate frames while you wait” considering the prices and the colors looking over the display frames: “zero to bitch in sixty seconds” “don’t laugh your daughter may be in here” and then asking the guy working there “can I get one that reads: Zionists out of palestine stop the holocaust?” 21 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. kill-bot i removed the last feeding cartridge from his tube and set it out to dry alongside my dished we sat across from one another my attention wandering my eyes following the metronymic motions of his humming defibrillator (tick ping) his ocular receptors reset to an aperture setting 6 head tilting 3 degrees left (setting: concern) i carefully patted his death claw and reminded him to pick up some eggs tomorrow fiber optic lines sprockets cogs wires fluids (ping) in the shower i could hear the faint slurp of his coolant valves draining and i repeated the letter over and over again in my head while he powered down for the night kill-bot darling, we had to know that it would be this way we had to know that it could not last but i will 22 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. never forget the nights your l.e.d. lights coloring the walls that throbbing red my fingers lips and tongue dancing across your cool monitors gauges soaring Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. creative writing all you need to get started is immense self-loathing a hatred for sleep punctuality money work and food no soul a pen and some paper with some luck in forty to fifty years you might have something but really probably not 24 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. pink cookies in a plastic bag getting crushed bv buildings is an L L Cool J song and i cannot adequately express the nearly overwhelming sadness envy an visceral emotion i feel when i hear it the title alone does it i like to repeat it to myself over and over and when i die i know with utmost certainty a ziploc heavy with day-old frosted animal cookies will beckon 25 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. three days of music at 315 am i was awoken by my penis vibrating and emitting a barely discemable hum when suddenly it raised itself slow and flaccid with what seemed a sober solemnity a kind of dignity bordering on the theatric and the asymmetrical goldfish lips of my urethra parted and out came the motown hit: “meee-e aaa-and mrs. mrs. jones” when the song finished the urethra closed and my penis fell lolled lazily against my body assuming again its slothful repose i sat there for a moment then turned on the light and went to the bathroom under the light i took it gingerly in my hands 26 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. gave it a few inquisitive shakes a few light smacks as would administer a drunk relative then i drank a glass of water and went back to sleep the next night sitting up in bed indian-style eyes glued to lap again my penis began to vibrate and again raised itself up and still again the motown hit: “meee-e aaa-and mrs. mrs. jones” i went to the bathroom and took a shower roughly angrily nervously i scrubbed my penis with dove and scolded it “what was that?!” “what is wrong with you?!” i toweled it off and dabbed the edges with rubbing alcohol then drank a glass of water 27 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. i convinced a girlfriend of mine to come over the next night assuring here that my health was at stake i stood there hands on hips while she looked on confused at 314 and 50 seconds i said “ok watch this” and to my relief “meee-e aaa-and mrs. mrs. jones” when it was finished i stood arms outstretched eyebrows raised she sat there eyes glazed in relative boredom and disappointment i said “dont you find this the lease bit unusual?” she issued a long sigh and laid down back against the carpet she hiked her skirt up parted her legs and slid one hand between 28 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. i heard a low hum thighs trembling a shaft of light shot out from between her legs and there splayed across the ignoble beige wall of my studio apartment began the opening credits to Gone With the Wind in all its technicolor glory 29 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. ooh yeah, life goes aw-on rome is alright not a figurative rome but the actual one in italy it’s alright my point being that you get off the train and you may or may not be arguing over who sang Jack and Diane bryan adams or john cougar mellencamp or the innate problems and advantages of pop songs their significance in general and the kind of culture which produces them but you get off the train and there’s a gustav klimt exhibit who you like or don’t but for ten-thousand lire who can say no and you stand in front of these paintings and playing in your head is “ooh yeah, life goes aw-on” 30 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Everyone is rich, everyone is beautifulAndy Warhol Everyone everyone recites the diamond sutra in their sleep everyone administers fellatio with the fervor and precision of a Chinese gymnast everyone yawns the thick quiet of honeycombs and dying spiders and everyone loves you 31 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Glitteropolis Kid Lemonade did it all he saw the Hug Factory and Gigglesnap Meadows met and rode Bulby the Giant Sleepy Butterfly ate honeybugs in the Fun Tree he even hiked Tickle Mountain twice but best of all that night at the Gliterweee Picnic he married the Unicom Twins 32 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. birth of the cynic i was bom sick a koi pond residing sleepily in the center of my chest they had trouble naming all of the fish as they continued to dart through tiny crevices amid the viscera an unfinished monopoly game lodged in my upper right ventricle some scoundrel hid hundreds under baltic ave. my father tells the story well how they removed it all with microscopic diamond-encrusted tweezers how my tiny body glowed a blinding fahrenheit orange i dream often of the cursed obstetrician glaring at the x-rays pinned to the wall like spooky movie posters clinically appalled at the whole mess of me 33 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. good old ghettoblaster nightmare-kissing agony techniques keep the fuses warm 34 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. carfhage might i compare thee to a lopsided paper lantern? the hamburgers and pickup trucks? and the vaulted gates of the republic cringing in rapid succession wince laze and shut like the solidity and dumbness of a promise like flags or can like the shriveled lungs of carthage can like vacuous torchlight of Nuremberg can the heart tune a spastic truth narrate an adultery of pieces of words a collective adultery of cash machines gum-blackened sidestreets pom-spattered asbestos? can suffocation be considered a gift? 35 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. for mv uncle who looks like the illegitimate son ofkenny rogers and wrestler ric flair who taught me blackjack at age ten and assured me that i would quote “get my ass kicked outside of a poolhall one day” who smokes Kool cigarettes with something akin to piety whose wife is ten years younger and a born-again Christian and whose love advice i remember as “you’ll have time for that shit later” 36 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. mv hotel fetish we cannot fault order cannot hold within our lucrative breasts contempt for the perfect the unmistakable the guiltless i believe that nearly every move i make should be regarded with suspicion know for example how envy can chisel the heart-strings and make mockeries of the towels pillows and mouthwash in its miniature emerald resilience you have taught me the value of guilt the beauty of disposability the hysterics of limbs and legs and vulgarities when played out against your cool pastel walls and beige ice buckets i impotent as the t-rex the guillotine the catapult our temples our ziggurats are thirsty for love and dying 37 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. retribution if i ask a girl out and she says no i usually say “well i know someone who won’t be getting any olive garden this evening” 38 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. the last pinball machine a steady derelict can impersonate the plink and pang laser-light and were you planning on breaking through the glass and unscrewing each of the tiny lights on the TILT again or finally stealing the ball to have your way with to suck on were it the last and best and coldest and most resilient of jawbreakers and ultimately jamming it down pinball day after pinball day into your body full in the knowledge that you ruined it for everybody else 39 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. i went to europe shot one half of one roll of film and it didn’t develop i went to europe stood in paris and pointed at the eiffel tower i went to europe and took a picture sitting in front of trevi fountain in rome with my right thumb up i went to europe and got drunk in a hostel in amsterdam and sat cross-legged on the floor where in a conversation with a young indian man regarding the egregious foreign policy of the u.s. i set the record for consecutive repetitions of the word “fuck” and the phrase “do you know what i’m saying?” i went to europe and took a picture of some french school children and actually said “alright kids, say fromage” i went to europe and kept telling myself that i was in europe 40 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. gil elvgren 1914-1980 your everyday fascist attractions pulsing the dark across vibrating in the magazines so fever beautiful than the present-tense light cleaving the first lies like wet flowers feel when no fire between them bums 41 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. iohn coltrane built the ex-girlfriend graveyard hands to the badness you bad you bad sitting standing lying walking of it remembers everyday what laughter and smiles were hearted in the green floodlight of burnt Octobers choking wounds in red or far blue tempests far farther away one about one who writes to empty walls understands convincing skin and telling walks lovely the lonely panther cascades his fire and soul shake and shatters the planet rock worlds rock and perfect orgasms rip through hummingbird bodies tearing apart the shivering day 42 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. condoms arena football watching fireworks with a welding mask on eating filet mignon with a dinner jacket around your tongue wearing tap-shoes to the beach non-alcoholic tequila smoking dope with your mom sushi wrapped in tinfoil universal studios a shopping spree at mervyns 43 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. mv hospital fetish some mouths only meet with the delicacy of cement trucks or sledgehammers crippling bright-red bowling balls ephemeral lines of graham cracker and milk-saliva stretched out between chins a chipped tooth and a swelling lower lip dizzy with first and last acts performed within the confines of irrefutable heroism some like the desolation about the eyebrows and the sterile halls gleaming squeaky hard and think about the precarious paper hat and bleached backward treachery like a click of the bone setting of the stiletto heel of the dueling pistols of the boxers and juveniles and victims the syringe the rattle coughing worse the music breathing wheezing music catch some sleep doc you are tidy enough to ward off the spells 44 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. your tricks are the best noggins to scoop out like diet jack o lanterns limbs to pickle the only amputee is me and does he reach up to polish that diploma with the comer of his cuff and wink to his reflection at the end of the day? 45 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. the flier read: “A Night Of Women Poets” and the only line i remember was “My pussy is my prison” and how i had to do everything in my power to keep myself from throwing my hands up as if shackled and yelling: “Book me baby! Book me!” 46 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. to the guy who lives below me next time at least play devo or ccr next time at 833 in the morning or after i come or after dinner do it with prince or the cure or lawrence welk play anything but what you play now what i can only identify though my walls as whale farts accompanied by a freshly-slapped queen sitting on a washing machine but understand were this dodge city long before the stomping the complaint forms the night after night of jackhammer bass and asinine counterfeit wailing assailing my slumber and rattling my wine glasses i’d have moseyed on downstairs kicked in your saloon doors popped four in you and two in that godforsaken player piano and left you both smoldering and wheezing in the sawdust understand 47 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. were this feudal japan your neck would have been relieved of its burden long before a contemptuous eyebrow was cocked the blades glorious flash the sublime fountain of crimson justice decorating your subwoofers all long long before the first syllable of “could you please turn it down?” hit the air so if the few hours of peace i manage to glean from god each night are to be so unceremoniously wrenched from me if i am to endure this punishment next time do it with ccr or otis redding or Aretha or public enemy or iron maiden mel tonne morbid angel the muppet album with john denver Christopher cross the clash sex pistols sheila e olivia newton john ray charles 48 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. in other words the next time you’re going to wake me up at least at least at least do it with a little bit of style asshole. 49 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. the problem with mv ex-girlfriends mother was that she had no concept of transcendence dear ivy i’m sorry about the lateness of this birthday card but hey i figure better the card being late than your daughter know what i’m saying? Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. the art show on Wednesday these are good people happy attractive kind fun people i assure you showing off photos paintings drawings sculptures talent skill nice good pausing smiling nodding afterward across the street i bought a french cruller some curly fries and a chocolate milk eating and then breathing eating breathing in and out and i know exactly what you’re thinking. 51 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. apollo creed the dream i have of you is that you’re yellingi hate you your mouth toes teeth your liver your eyelids and your hairy right nipple not to mention your not-quite-as-hairy left nipple and your tempermental hemorrhoid your crescent-shaped scar on your right middle finger just above the top knuckle your two gold molars and that one really long hair that grows out in the middle of your forehead that you wont pluck like it serves any purpose like it’ll start a trend your beat-up shoes your new shoes your multi-vitamins and the story about how you met apollo creed and your picture of you and apollo creed that’s not even his real name well then why do you call him apollo creed like that’s who he is i suppose you think it’s kitsch or post-kitsch or a criticism of something don’t ask me to make sense and don’t ask me to make you eggs anymore in fact don’t talk about my eggs you’ve been relieved 52 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. of all egg privileges if you leave heavy metal messages on my cell phone how can you expect me to look at you with anything but disgust? and not even a nostalgic disgust like flying into Newark and it’s already 83 degrees at 6 in the morning and you’re trying to get to new york kind of disgust where there’s not even a chair but just all this warm green linoleum and the samsonites make their 90th revolution on the carousel and you make a joke about buzzards and you hear someone in the baggage claim clearly say nigger not even whispering it not even whispering it kind of disgust that’s not what i’m talking about so take your sentimental trinkets and apt comparisons and get out of my face that’s not an artistic temperament you’ve got there bub it’s somewhere between idle parody and sheer assholery and nowhere near anything interesting and i say: how could you not like the apollo creed story? 53 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. the clandestine blues anthems of southern California nothing wrong with humanity sleeping so consistently but whatever did happen to that toe tappin’? whatever did happen to that toe-tappin’? trains and busses curses and cusses my my my my my my and far off camera b.b. sings in arthritic fingers the thrill is gone and omette blow and blow baby his black brains to a broke sax 54 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. debating the mall eyes for one please processions of paper roses backlit across stages peeking from out the eyesockets of sweetbread concha and painted sugar skulls such vibrancy when your eyes are closed to you that wouldn’t see back in me when i look for eyes in the storefronts at the clerks the signs and ask and think does anyone kiss anymore? on the eyes for the eyes were it to touch the eyes they are ice black sharks preening and selling and don’t look in the eyes anymore don’t you really slow dance anymore? because sweet eyes only mean it when shut do something like that make them all purple and swelled up like nickel slots you really wanna make your man 55 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. cry like that dressed up in silver white light makeup counter bastards those lashes remind me of a dead roach for one thing and where exactly have all the shy people gone? 56 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. sex is funny i usually end up hitting my head or twisting something or saying “goodjob” or “that was neat” 57 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. watching the fireworks over Disneyland from a back bedroom in anahiem noiseless bursts the colors set against the black flower red gold green blue glitter blooming forme like when she opens forme me so silent the back of her neck everything so silent this way 58 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. you’re not even pretty there are not real problems there are not many real problems there are not many real big problems what will happen? what? i am still surprised when my car runs out of gas and i run out of money still disappointed when everyone i meet doesn’t just fall in love with me already then say oh what will happen something will happen what will something will what something 59 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.