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National Poetry Month Continues : with Justin Chin

Back When I Knew Who I Was 

i was content to spend my afternoons
wondering what co-dependent meant
not realizing that those lazy
humid daylight hours was better  
spent figuring out the physics
of dependency and codeine dreams

back when i knew who i was
i was much better than i ever thought i was
i could conjugate fuck like nobody’s business
       fuck me, fuck you, fuck it, fuck him, fuck her
       fuck them, fuck yourself, holy fuck, goddamnfuckit

i could shovel dead pets off the driveway
     that my aunt ran over on her way to choir practice
     and not shed a single tear
i could choke down every family fight about money,
every caning that would come for no reason after those fights,
every time we were forced to go to my rich relatives for dinner and we’d
find ourselves in the kitchen cooking and doing the dishes.

i believed i knew the meaning of alcohol
i believed i knew how to get out of every scrap
i believed i wasn’t gonna make 25
i believed in 18 molecules of carbon
21 molecules of hydrogen
3 oxygen and one fab nitrogen
all in a sweet mixture enough to make me
feel like jennifer beals in flashdance
twirling my ass
in front of the snotty audition,
praying for a stinking place in 
the dance-a-thon of actuality

back when my balls were the size of brazil
and my ego was the size of the antarctica
and my courage was the size of phlegm
i learned to trust few people
learned to want little
and to need even less
i learned to say “FUCK IT”

with such ease and venom
the most cynical rattlesnake
would have its underbelly turn emerald
in two seconds flat.

you could wake to find yourself in some sweet danger,
in some piss-flavored version of addiction
designed to make up for lost time,
lost ideals, lost lovers, lost causes, lost saviours
but -shit- these days,
all i find is myself back when i was
back in the conga line of perpetual desire
the territory of an incessant need
i crave my one habit of a good man
and i want to secede from
the grip of addiction philosophy,
from the colony of “i should’ve known better”

fuck that 12-step thing, i say,
i like to keep my options open
and i like having the option
to get absolutely fucked up
when i feel like it,
and not feel like i fucked up, dammit.

do things change that much?
can some stupid sign from the almighty
whip you right around?
maybe i should be looking for visions of jesus
in billboards of spaghetti sauce,
visions of buddha in men’s semen,
maybe i’ll be a much better person
if i knew who i was when i knew who i was
but who the fuck do i think i am?
i can’t even piss straight into the bowl,
can’t even tell my lover that i want to cook him
breakfast for the rest of my life,
can’t even cross against the light,
     (ooh, walk to the light, walk to the light….)
can’t pay my bills on time nor balance my checkbook
can’t dance, can’t mosh,
can’t get fucked up like i used to, not that i want to anyway
can’t take it like a man, whatever that means.

all i can is kiss who i was
back when i knew who i was
goodbye, one great big tongue smooch
and wish him a good journey
as he walks to the light
and falls off the edge of the earth
and into a peaceful hell.

i’ll meet up with him later.

Justin Chin, from Bite Hard
     Manic D Press, 1997

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And Up Next, In Honor of National Poetry Month : Sparrow 13 Laughingwand

from the anthology Signs of Life [ Manic D Press : 1994 ]
as well as Hell Soup [ Manic D : 1996 ], Sparrow’s collected works, self-described as “ranging from Hillbilly childhood to savage sissy.”

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In Celebration of National Poetry Month : Gazpacho by Michelle Tea

1:30 a.m. gazpacho in my room
red and green and tasting
like tucson like too much
parsley and cocktails on
the porch, mezcal, tastes
like tequila someone played
a trick on we bought it cheap
in mexico two bottles per gringo
over the border gazpacho and
burritos enough to feed the
neighborhood and i did because
the neighborhood was crashing
at my house showing up at sunset
to eat at my cinderblock table but
it was cool i could afford it could
afford to pay rent buy groceries buy
jugs of red wine to get them all drunk
bongs of pot to keep them all stoned and
gas tank full for road trips i
was making lots of cash and we were all
cool liberal fuck liberal we were
radical, anarchist cookbook beside
the moosewood cookbook on our bookshelf we
knew all about things like the
distribution of wealth and like i said i
was making tons of money and they weren’t
making any they were unemployed because
finding work is hard or they’re students of
in the emergency stage of the sexual abuse thing or
some other piece of laziness doctored up as
politics you know capitalism blah blah blah so
i was supporting an ever-changing band of lethargic
sunbathing potheads because i was making so much
money and yeah i was making it by leaving my body
so that strange men could fill it like a kind of
demon spirit but fuck it was my choice no gun
to my head no linda lovelace scene here and
i was really into communal living and we were all
such free spirits, crossing the country we were
nomads and artists and no one ever stopped
to think about how the one working class housemate
was whoring to support a gang of upper middle class
deadheads with trust fund safety nets and connecticut
childhoods, everyone was too busy processing their
isms to deal with non-issues like class
and besides,
you don’t think rich families have problems
you don’t think rich families have secret rapes and
alcoholic dads and feed their kids bad food with
sugar and preservatives i mean when you
get right down to it we’re all just humans,
all on the same path to destruction because
our mother earth is being raped (is it ok
if we borrow that term from your
oppression, it’s reall powerful) anyway,
the class trip is just divide and conquer,
blood money is just a redundant phrase and all work
is prostitution, right? and it’s just so cool
how none of them have hang-ups about
sex work they’re all real
open-minded real
revolutionary you know
the legal definition of pimp is
one who lives off the earnings of
a prostitute, one or five or
eight and i’d love to stay and
eat some of the stir fry i’ve been cooking
for y’all but i’ve got to go fuck
this guy so we can all get stoned and
go for smoothies tomorrow, save me
some rice, ok?

Michelle Tea

from the anthology Signs of Life [ Manic D Press : 1994 ]
as well as The Beautiful [ Manic D : 2003 ], a collection of Tea’s poetry

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It’s National Poetry Month . . . Shake The Dust.

“This is for the hard men
Who want love
But know that it won’t come
For the ones
Who are forgotten
The ones for whom the Amendments do not stand up for
For the ones who are told to speak
Only when you are spoken to
And they’re never spoken to
Speak
Everytime you stand
So you do not forget yourself…”

 

Anis Mojgani

 

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On Criticism

“ It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. ”

Theodore Roosevelt

« © »

And another thing: his work is completely devoid any sense of gravitas. In fact, it’s just…void. Only style — or attempts thereof, rather. Neither substance, nor emotional complexity one finds inherent in a truly genuine talent, like J.T. Leroy. Now there…mark my words: there —

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There’s A Term For Anyone Who Gets My Work/Resemblance/Words/Whatever Tattooed

[ & that ‘phrase that pays’ is ]
“V.I.P., For Life

pictured above :
about as obvious a reference can get
to Cottonmouth Kissescottonmouth kisses, clint catalyst

[ If you don’t own a copy by now?
I don’t even know what’s wrong with you… ]

Massive Thanks
to
ßite Me ßlair ♥ !

Honored :: & :: Appreciated

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Because We Ain’t Simple And Love Ain’t Simple

TWO FREAKS IN A MEAN GOD’S SWEATY FIST

next morning over grits and aspirin
i remembered          jack oh shit honey
i can’t believe i fuckin did that
convulsive recall cut through whiskey obscurity
like the knife
my knife in my hand and jack grinnin it off       just us
friday night drunk again except i was pitbull furied
about a blank spot
i was holdin’ up steel to my lover
i was serious
what do you mean he asked me at the table
so i had to say before god and my coffee
i threatened to cut you last night didn’t i man
more sorries and panicky lovetalk started runnin out of me
until the grin came back        he said oh
that’s right    i’d forgotten all about it      he held that little smile
so long i wanted to scream motherfucker but  i started cryin
instead
he’d been as loaded as me        didn’t know what issue
brought together me and him and the knife and something mad
enough to shank eight years of us
somethin that backed down when he just said
you know sparrow if i felt like it
i could get really pissed of about this            the movie stopped
there for both of us
he was holdin me while i came apart again
me and him know each other clear
to the marrowbones and black mirrors by now
me and him go on anyway
eight years or twenty thousand
sparrow and jack is the road we’re goin down
without a simple love poem in sight
because we ain’t simple and
love ain’t simple
love has vicious motherfucker midnights curled up waitin in it
like when we were naked makin war words
about how if
ordinary common people are shit and i hate everyone
i must hate him too
right then i did but he was the one
who said i hate you first and got up to leave
i gave him my back like the finger      told him thanks
for tellin me one piece of truth tonight anyway
and i would have said more but he kicked me off the bed
before i could and if love was somethin simple
it would have busted like a wine bottle right there
it took us two days to cry about it together
but that man has hands that make me forget sometimes
how much i hate my body
that man can keep tellin’ me after the first thousand
times i told him that was a
goddamn lie
that man is as smart as me and too weird to ever be boring
with his head full of politics and priestcraft and philosophical
terrors
he can tell me about because i’ve got em too
me and him know each other all right
it’s our damnation to
it’s our damnation to know that hate walks beside love
like a shadow that has teeth
it’s our damnation each to live in the other’s
valley of flames
because our demons are crazy drunk
on love for each other
the same way we are
two freaks in a mean god’s sweaty fist
it’s our damnation practiced to perfection
we’ve done it for years
we’ve done it for lifetimes and some of ‘em ended like this
could have
but we keep comin’ back
we’ve got stuff that ruins us for anyone else
we need each other’s weirdness and rage like dope
it ain’t simple           it’s got thorns
it’s got roots that wrap around bones and boulders
all the way to the heart of the earth
sparrow and jack is the road we’re goin’ down
together in this poem
this car with the back seat full of monsters
that were always driving drunk
the hit of murder keeps us awake for the ride
sparrow and jack it the road that starts and ends
in the worlds we have where the other one is the only man alive
and those are worlds
big enough for all the pain we throw around
because we’re men and we can’t help it
all we can do is wrap our arms around love
even and especially when it smells like shit and looks like
the black sponge soaked in blood at
the center of trust’s shattered bones
and around each other after the storms die down

—Sparrow 13 Laughingwand

from Hell Soup: The Collected Writings [ Manic D ]

*Please note: some line breaks “auto-corrected” by WordPress.
[ Apologies, Apologies ]

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“…like a captured moon might be.”

¨


Rushing


Wild moths beat your eyes wide.
You are the candle and arc of light.
You find the fragile blue pulse.
You say it’s all in the smell
of alcohol and ripening lemons.
The lightbulb, glistening yellow metal
like a captured moon might be.
It’s sailing the harbor at Puerto Vallerta,
swimming warm water and black sharks
to a cove of wild boars and waterfalls
choked by ferns. You taste it,
filling your mouth and lungs
as you ride into the Salinas Valley
drought-hot November, vineyards
and walnut trees gone red. It’s behind
your eyes. It’s on your tongue.
It’s the field where Daddy took off
your training wheels and you careened
that first bicycle through stakes of stiff
ash-colored birch.
It’s learning to tell time again
and not get in cars with strangers.
Thirteen years of psychiatry
and they’re right. It’s mother,
unbuttoning her blouse,
giving you her great white breast at last.
You bite through her startled ribcage.
It’s day breaking over Hollister, California,
land of pine cones and artichokes
hills of horses caught behind the spoils
of fences as you ride to the white caps
and ice plant clawing the slow dunes
at Moss Landing, fields viridian, fields
salamander and coral, all edging into harvest.
And it’s Mazatlan and Moss Landing,
Massachusetts and Mallorca.
My God, it’s the fields of Mars.
Stiff winds cutting paths through
red grasses, beneath the twin amber breasts
before the moons went blind and the vines dried.
So, you’ve swallowed it all. Dust trails and ridge
of shadow gouged by a stagecoach ninety years ago.
Your arms? Your arms have been carved by stars.
A Santa Ana wind slams through your lungs.
This is love, baby.
You are young, naked,
your navel filled with platinum.
It’s a sea breeze curling in soft swirls
across cliffs just born on the moon.
And it’s all of your childhood,
all at once, before you pull the needle
out.


Kate Braverman, copyright 2005 – 2006

“That Is My Story, Simply Told…”

“Please do not ask again. I have told you in order to issue a warning. I have been damaged. Damaged people are dangerous. They know they can survive. All damaged people are dangerous. Survival makes them so. They have no pity. They know that others can survive, as they did.”

from the book Damage by Josephine Hart

:: image of Clint Catalyst by Dirk Mai ::

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