Wednesday, January 26, 2005

11:35AM - Tuesday January 25

So... i'll respond to the comments posted on my site by the Anonymous blogger. By "modern literary study" i'm loosely referring to 20th Century literature as written in the mainstream (i'm going to jump all over in responding to your concerns). I'm not suggesting that only writers have a responsibility to examine themselves. We all do. However, as cultural standard-bearers, the writer's thought processes and visions of the world are on display, and whether or not writing has chosen you, i think it is impossoble to ignore the marvelous opportunity that writing gives the writer to examine his/her own thinking on a daily basis. Of course, some folks look at their belief systems, examine themselves and choose some modes of thought that are unfortunate. Such is likely the same for a very many of us in or out of writing. I still think, though, (and maybe this is my naivete at work) that an honest examination of why we think the things we do, an honest rational investigation of all the ideas brought to bear on why we think this way about this thing or that thing, will yield more opportunities to make ourselves better people and to challenge our world on a day by day, living basis.

As for V.S. Naipaul, his prejudices run really deep and i think, are steeped in all sorts of cultural complexities based on being Indian in English colonial Trinidad in the time when he was. In short, brother got issues! And yes, he is a brilliant writer. I think his best work is still "A house for Mr. Biswas", and there are in that novel and many of his other works an understanding of his world that while prejudiced, sheds a particular kind of very exposing light on that world. Because it is well-written, you get to make your decision about the characters, about the world he is portraying (in my opinion) without necessarily being interrupted by the author's prejudices.

In terms of creating personas in poetry, i think the decisions one makes in the poem, give us some sense of the deconstruction of issues and facts that are taking place through the eyes of a character (or thing) which if well written attends to all the complexities involved (see Patricia Smith's "The Undertaker" or anything from Ai's "Greed").

So that's it for me and this subject for the time being. Here's a suggestion (you may ignore it if you like Mr./Ms. Anonymous). How about making yrself known to me so that i may send responses to your future comments directly to you (so that even if i don't feel like addressing your discussion on the blog, i can still respond).

Meanwhile, rehearsals every day for VIA's "Tough Line" for the Dickinson College residency. I've taken on a very Zen attitude towards it though. I will not be flustered or frustrated. I will balance my anxiety levels precisely; just so, that i might be alert enough to perform well but not so that i lose my mind and want to stab anyone before the end of the residency.

later - GQ magazine has really interesting articles about Jamie Foxx and Javier Bardem and Strom Thurman's black daughter.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

2:58AM – Pacific Standard Time – Thursday Jan. 20th

My set at the Seattle Slam tonight (or last night) was very good. A packed, standing room only house, listened very very intently for my half hour and I felt for my whole set like I was “on”. Moreover, it was good to reaffirm my work by doing a lot of my Trinidad based work to audiences that know nothing about the culture I’m referencing and have them still dig it. I felt like I was very firmly involved in my ability to make form out of the performance that did with my body what my writing did with the page.

Seattle’s slam dn open-mic are of a fairly high quality. In fact, there slam featured tonight many poets whose work I really admire – Karen Finneyfrock, Jack McCarthy, Karyna McGlynn all were part of the show. Daemon Arrindell (originally of Queens) graced the open-mic and Roberto Ascalon (originally of NYC) hosted the show.

We capped the night off with a game of big-booty. If you don’t know what big-booty is then this next segment will mean nothing to you, but the home-field advantage was in effect so that in the long run I lasted through the field of 13 to be the last one eliminated, with Karen and Karyna (who is responsible for having taught us big-booty in the first place way back in 2003) capturing the top spots. Karen wasn’t drinking enough anyway and playing sober should be considered cheating.

Mikela, who I met on the bus to Eugene came to the show; and judged in the slam. It was her first time ever to a poetry reading and she stayed on for the big booty festivities. It was cool to connect with someone as randomly as that and to have that person like come through and just chill with you.

Karyna, Roberto and I ended the evening at IHOP (after a dance club called Des Amis) getting into some mad complex poetic stuff about artifice and honesty / artifice and manipulation. We talked at length too about identity in poetry and modern literature as a whole. One of the few things we managed to conclude is that while literary study encourages us to separats the writer from the narrator, we feel that the writer needs to be held accountable in many situations for the narrators approach to the world, since the line separating them both (especially in poetry) is either thin or non-existent – it is of course not so cut and dry – but in essence, our work and the extent to which we as writers are willing to self-examine and hold up our own understanding to critique have to be held responsible. Modern literary study often lets us off the hook with thily weiled sexism, racism, homophobia etc under the guise of the personas for whom we are writing. Understand of course, that there are occasions in which there are indeed personas through whom we are intending to trumpet a particular understanding (or lack of it), but our work should always (I think) be attempting to examine everything about the ways in which we see the world; and taking to task these views when they do not hold up to our examination.

Still, a good night though. I’m tired. I’m going to see Hotel Rwanda tomorrow. Will tell you how that went.

1:50PM PST January 21

On plane back. Last night in Seattle was a good one even though someone stole my jacket with my cell-phone charger in it out of the Cha-Cha Lounge. Was having some drinks with Mikela and Laura Nicona (sp?), after having a fantastic dinner at a Senegalese reataurant in Belltown with Christa Bell (Yes, Christa Bell lives in Belltown at the corner of 1st and Bell – no joke), Daemon, his partner Inti and Karen Finneyfrock. We preceded back to Daemon and Inti’s house where we hung out and watched the DVD of Bamuthi’s one-man show, Word made Flesh; a good show with solid writing, which uses poetry and dance to tell the story. Ultimately, we felt there were some aspects of his story that we felt needed to be fleshed out, if we were to feel more emotionally connected to the show; but again, a good show, well-worth the time and money to check out.

Before that, Christa and I went to check out Hotel Rwanda. Holy Shit! it was a brilliant movie and one that was thoroughly draining to see. I recommend the movie highly, but never alone. You WILL need someone to hold you midway through the movie. I cried for about 20 minutes straight. Some days some things rob you of all faith in humanity. The circumstances depicted in this movie did that on a number of levels, but never more than in the scene in which a Tutsi journalist is telling a foreign cameraman that the fundamental difference between Hutu and Tutsi was one made by the Belgian colonists; and not an organic ethnic one (not that even those are ever absolutely organic, or that they justify atrocities), but to have a people set-up over time for this sort of possibility based on aritificial differences made by a conquering colonist is beyond me. It was weakening to watch. Still… go see it. Don Cheadle is phenomenal and absolutely believable in the lead role, as are most of the other actors and actresses, largely unknown to American audiences…

(and switch…)

The Seattle airport bar was hilarious this morning. This is the drama as it unfolded next to me.

(Main character Roger has had his second pint of Alaskan Amber and an order of Buffalo wings. There are two bartenders, whom we shall call Jennifer and Art. Art is a 50-something year old man and Jennifer an early 30s blonde with a nose ring. On both sides of Roger are two Businessmen. Businessman 1 and Businessman 2)

Bus’man 1: Heeeyyy! how about a Bloody Mary?

Art : Sure thing! you can get an extra shot in there for only 2 dollars

Bus’man 1: I should probably just go with the single shot. I’m best man in a bachelor party tonight in Reno and there’s a helluva night planed…
(half smiling into his drink and to no-one in particular) Got a long night ahead of me…

Art: Can I get you something to eat, Sir?

Bus’man 1: Noooo sirreeee…
(then to Jennifer)
Lemme gues, you go karaoke twice a week too, dontcha?

Roger: (head swivels around, stunned by the utter randomness – says to self in low tones)

Jennifer: that’s right, but only for your pleasure and only when I’m totally fed up of work, tired and need a drink

Bus’man 1 – Yup! just gotta sing on them days, dontcha?

Jennifer: That’s right!

Roger: (bewildered) What??!!

(On the TV overhead are several nattily-clad black men being judgemental on other black folk and examining the question “Is Poverty a Disease?”, while giving testimony on how they used one of the black men’s self-help books to cure themselves of the disease of poverty.)

Roger: What?! Check Please!!

The End…

But now my flight out of Seattle is delayed and there is every chance I will not make my flight connection in Chicago. If there is a place I’d have to pick to be stranded at an airport, it would be Chicago. I know the whole damn city and O’Hare airport has every manner of distraction available – food, drink, video games, magazines and it’s easy to get to the city from the airport on their subway. I’m not relishing, however, having to get in even later than the 8:30PM I’m scheduled on right now. Freakin’ Alaska Airlines!!!


8:15 PM – Central Standard Time

Crazy delays out of Chicago. So I missed my connection of course, the one that would have meant that I’d already be back home and instead I’m flying on a seven o-clock out of Chicago to LaGuardia that actually got going at 8:10.

There was de-icing of the wings, then waiting, then the pilot getting out of the cockpit, walking back into the plane and checking to see if the de-icing stuff had “held” so to speak after the long delay. I’m not sure if it’s more or less reassuring to see the pilot come back and look out the window at the plane’s wing. I mean, I could have done that for him, and I figure that if I could have done it, it’s not good enough. Shoukdn’t there be a really cool robotic machine that comes up from inside the wing and checks to make sure that shit ain’t frozen? Wouldn’t that make everyone more comfortable?

Anyway, if I’m on the final leg of a flight back home, I guess the tour is officially done. I have VIA rehearsals for the next week steady (including all day tomorrow and all day Sunday) to get ready for Fairleigh-Dickinson next week or week after or whenever that is…

I’m reading Karyna McGlynn’s chapbook which is really quite fantastic. She is a Seattle poet, who is very active in their slam and in the spoken-word world and her “Strawberry Coats” shows a sublime attention to and understanding of the specific American landscape that makes her. The language she choses to convey that understanding is itself quite evocative and her chapbook is easily one of the best I’ve read amongst those of us in the spoken word world and would be considered very good in just about any other forum too. I’m also re-reading Kimiko Hahn’s “The Artist’s Daughter” again. It is darkly fascinating, pehaps even moreso the second time around.


Wednesday, January 19, 2005

And oh... this is what i've been writing over the last coupla days (2 poems follow). as usual, feel free to comment critically...

Muhammed Ali plots his return

Float like a butterfly; sting like a bee
Rumble young man; Rumble
Bundini Brown

They were always lookin’
for a white boy who could beat me

or a dumb black brute
or a nigga with a slicked-back shine
or a blindly patriotic
smiling gorilla

In the end even their jails
couldn’t stop me
even tough-as-nails Oscar Bonavena
mocking my name in
another colonist’s tongue
my covenant with Allah
felt some right to shame me

so I bloodied him in His name
tattoed him over fifteen
when I could have dropped him
in six

my left jab lightning
I combinated
like ping-pong balls in a bingo machine

They finally thought they had me
in Zaire against the scowling giant
even my friends weren’t sure
I’d last

after that they just waited
for the moment I was the kind
of weak they needed
to drag out in front of their cameras

Look ain’t so fast no more is he

a blind Samson
in the fools’ crumbling temple

Now I’m lighting the Olympic torch
kissing their babies
selling their sneakers

Fools – Allah never left me
His warrior Muhammed
His prophet

they’ve counted me out again
believed a knock-down
could slow me

paying no notice
to my gathering strength

no heed to the cracks in their temple walls

dumb luck
(for Karen)

what dumb luck forces us back
to the scenes of our crookedest smiles
is unclear – what perverse energy
untrue to our truer selves
at work against every fight/flight
we know whispers to us
to whisper against the shutters
of windows we entered
to love so hard we maimed
to want so hard we forced
the most exquisite fragile human
we knew to vanish away and away
from us

what is a giant’s dialect?
what blood of an Englishman
craved when he is blessed/
cursed with the strength
of a thousand men
and only the simplest will?
Does he wonder after
the creaking of bedsprings
or a more simple conversation;
noise close enough to his ear
to sound to him like love?
12:41AM – Pacific Standard Time – Monday January 17th

End of day 3ish. Found a brewery with Wi-Fi. that’s all I have to say about that. It’s called Elysian Brewery! yes… Elysian. Of course heaven is a brewery with wireless access!

Read Karen some of Kimiko Hahn’s work from The Artist’s Daughter. Marvelled again at how fly Hahn is.
It rained for about 20 hours straight. Tomorrow we’re going to a big fancy new pretty library. I think I’m a full-fledged geek/nerdlet now. I got excited about a new library…

Off to revise some poems.


1:47AM – Pacific Standard Time – Wednesday january 19th

Okay – no-one’s gonna believe this. I hung out tonight at the CHAC (Capitol Hill Arts Center) and it’s not just that they had a Gong Show tonight, or that I ended up being the star of the show, or that I ended up beat boxing for my drunk-as-hell newest best friend Amy Baransky; no, it’s none of that…

the bartender, Kat – a wonderful human being – lives in the house that Ms. Cleo used to live in (Yes! Ms. cleo of “Call me Now!” fame). Here’s the kicker: They still get her mail! She brought some of it with her to the bar tonight. She now knows all sorts of stuff about tarot reading because of Ms. Cleo’s mail ( not to mention the cardboard cut-outs of Ms. Cleo that come to her in the mail).

It’s spectacular and wonderful and Kat is going to be my new newest best friend, because she drives a Volkswagen beetle and lives in Ms. Cleo’s house and acts like that is the most normal thing in the world. Of course there were a few shots, a short-lived game of truth or dare, a beer called Roger’s (I swear I’m not making this up), another coupla beers called Fish Tail and several whiskeys…

I’m back in the house now. the bartender droves us home . This is how fly seattle is…

Monday, January 17, 2005

3:05AM – Pacific Time – Saturday Januay 15th

The change over in flight at Chicago was a little harrowing and I had to run from gate K13 to gate H16 to get my flight, which in O’Hare airport is quite a pull if you have a back pack on.

Karen Finneyfrock met me in baggage claim and Daemon picked us up and it was off to the hilariousness that is usally Seattle. I grabbed lunch and a drink (Jack Daniels neat w/an India Pale Ale at the Elysian Brewery Pub, went back to K-frock’s place and slept. At 8:15PM I awoke, did 60 push-ups, had a shower and a drink (Jim Beam neat). Me and K-frock headed out to the Chac (Capitol Hill Arts Center) to meet Amy Baransky and then to deluxe to get some food and drinks.

Jim Beam
Rat City Pale Ale
Jim Beam
Irish Car Bomb
Mac and Jac’s African Amber

…and we’re just about done. Seattle is 20 degrees. I’ve heard this much about Seattle’s poetry. It involves Morris Stegosuarus (who I believe now lives in Providence) and it’s all I have to say so far…

Roast stork, again?
it’s all we’ve been eating
since the abortion…

Yes – a haiku… I’m very… tired… must sleep now…

Seattle to Eugene

11:40AM Jan. 15 – Pacific Time

So now I’m on the bus to Eugene. It’s on… like socks…

I’ve begun the requisite friend-making that bus travel necessitates, because I’ll be on here for another eight hours. Riding by Greyhound is it’s own American wonder. It can be harrowing or let you in on a kind of weird American underbelly that is unavailable anywhere else on the cultural plane.

When I first started travelling outside of New York to do gigs, I went by bus a lot. This was before folks thought that paying me to come somewhere and paying my flight and hotel and stuff was a good idea, and I learned more about remote corners of America that way than I have any other way. I wrote some of my best works on buses – Naming and other Christian things on the way from New York to Dallas, Jennica… on the way from San Francisco to Chico, Bird Watching on the way from Los Angeles to San Francisco – and got to see the full moon hang low over the Mississippi at 3AM in Memphis.

There are also always the stories – the biscuits and sludge-like gravy at the bus station in Nashville, TN, the fat woman who fell asleep on me in Washington, DC, making out with a stranger on the way from Washington to New York, the woman in Monterrey who wanted to examine my teeth. There are old rusty bridges and fantastically and bitterly beautiful cotton fields, acres and acres of yellow mustard flowers and gorgeous mountains. There are art-deco stadia and rivers.

I guess only something this wonderfully complex could spawn so much beauty walking hand in hand with so much grotesque; and America is grotesque – managing to make Christianity out of capital and all – making it sometimes really difficult to differentiate the beautiful from the truly sad; but I’m in it and I have a good life and I’m about to figure out how to capture all that is true and commit it to memory (mine and everyone else’s) so that when shit falls apart, we have something worth holding on to.


1. King Oscar Motel
2. Taco Time
3. omni Military Loans
(what the hell is this? do you get money for like… a start-up militia?)
4. Fort Lewis Military Museum
(really weird – there are tanks and silos on the front lawn!)

So my first friend, Michaela, just got off the bus in some town whose name I don’t know. She’s from New Mexico but lives in Seattle now. She and her friend are going to the hot springs in this town. I had half a mind to join them. I gave her a CD and she left me a note with a pen-drawn picture. The note said “you make me want to be myself. Thank You” This makes me happy. She’s going to try to come to my show on Wednesday in Seattle. Now I have to try to make some more friends…


1. Red Lion Hotel
all you can eat every Friday at 4
2. U-Neek RV Center
3. Gospel Signs Available
(with phone number beneath)
4. Fibre Federal
your community credit union
5. Edelweiss Inn
German-American Restaurant
6. Blackjack Fireworks
World’s Largest Selection

We’re leaving Portland. We had a half hour lay over there, so I had my first meal of the day; tuna on wheat, french fries, water. The Northwest is experiencing really curious weather. It rained ice from here all the way south through Oregon last night and this morning, it is 30 degrees and there was a 50 car pile-up on the highway as a result. The city doesn’t have too many salt trucks and stuff cuz that sort of thing just doesn’t happen here, so now we’re going veeeerrrryyyy slllloooowwwlllyyy.

No new friends and the bus is almost empty now. I doubt the frat boy type who is now sitting across from me will become that next Greyhound friend. The coach is also warmer now. I’m digging that and the view is spectacular. We’re going through mountains and stuff and the view of other mountains in the distance and the bay reminds me a lot of Alaska. That’s that for now. I have the feeling I may be pulling into Eugene late with not very much time to spare before the show and that blows a little bit, but what it means is that I’d better figure out my set list before I get there.

By the way, I just got done reading Kimiko Hahn’s The Artist’s Daughter. It is a fascinating collection which focuses primarily on the psychology of love as it pertains to cannibalism and necrophilia in humans, complete with several poems about famous necrophiliacs in history and the folks who chronicled their deeds. Hahn displays an amazing ability to draw us into this car wreck of a subject. Indeed, the ironies she examines pile themselves one atop the other. One feels as though she is almost daring the reader to enter that world and feel the panicked pull of this sordid lust, in the same way she accuses the chroniclers of these deeds and by so doing accuses herself in the examination. The collection is an Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole of a ride. Hahn’s craft and unusual form are brave, sexy, cruel, beautiful all at once; and I got it for $5 in a raffle to benefit the tsunami victims. Pay whatever you need to, to get it.


1. Gallops Saddlery
2. Jiggles exotic dancers
3. O what fun it is to ride…
with a designated driver (picture of angry reindeer here ____)

So now I’m in Eugene at the venue – Territorial Vineyards and Wine company. The slam is held in the warehouse of a wine company. It’s kinda fly and very eclectic - casks and barrells and all sorts of winery stuff all around. Melanie picked me up at the bus station. Melanie was sent by Jesus hisself. Melanie is a 5 foot 9 inch red headed pierce-up lesbian singer/construction worker. She took me back to Marietta’s house (Marietta is the host), cooked me an omelet (Feta Cheese, bell peppers, onions, artichoke hearts – yes artichoke hearts!!), gave me a glass of Emergen-C and a straight whiskey – you know, what we all need to freshen up after 8 hours of travel. I grabbed a shower and we were ready to go, when she gave me a cigar. We walked to the venue (it is Eugene after all) and now I’m here. The open mic is beginning and I’m raring to go…

1:00PM – Sunday January 16 – Eugene to Seattle

The set went well and of course there was all that wine to sample afterward. It was a very fruity, rich Pinot Noir, which “has grown up quite nicely” according to Jordan “despite having been very playful early on”. Jordan is a very good looking, heavily tattoed, jewelry making wine expert (I love hippie towns). She allowed us to taste a number of selections including a very deceptively alcoholic Pinot Gris. After heading over to another bar, where a man I do not know at all started quizzing me in trivia at the bar (I apparently am cool now because I knew that the Nile is the world’s largest river that flows North) and because I almost got right what the world’s largest living organism is (apparently it’s a huge-ass mushroom somewhere in Indiana).

This morning, the fly-ass thick-ass coffee in a bell jar, the best Bloody Mary ever and another omelet with a cape on its back (chili, cheddar, avocado) and Marietta rocked some of the best roasted potatoes this side of a well-flipped egg.

Marietta and Melanie are stellar hosts. I’m now back on the bus to Seattle. I’ll get there about 9PM. Maybe I’ll write a poem. Maybe I’ll make new friends…

3:00 PM

1. Sheep (apparently sheep are grown in Oregon)
2. Buffalo Jerky / Jerky Pepperoni

No new friends. Fine with me. The 2 Brittney Spears white-trash look alikes across from me aren’t my idea of stimulating conversation anyway.

Woodburn, OR is the most depressing po-dunk, down on it’s luck, dilapidated looking town I’ve ever seen. This shit make Detroit and Newark look like Times Square. I want to slit my wrists. There is an interesting Urban Planning convention, that places the bus station in most towns on the other side of the tracks. In most towns and cities, there seems to be a very specific attempt to hide that city’s squalor from outside, so that for those of us who can afford to travel lavishly (driving or on the way from an airport), we don’t get to see the poverty, the folks of color, Skid Row that sort of thing. It is what makes bus travel such an adventure because then you get to see how people really have to live in America. This sort of Urban Planning is symptomatic of the general attitude towards life here. No-one wants to be confronted with the harsh stuff as long as thngs are alright in their own lives. Everyone can tell you where the bad neighborhoods are, but people seem even reluctant to discuss them when they talk about their towns; unless plans are underway to “clean-up” that part of town (read: gentrify). In fact, the last time I came by bus through Eugene and Portland, the neighborhoods surrounding the bus stations were desolate, warehouse type spaces, inhabited by the itinerant and the barely surviving businesses. This time (in Portland in particular), it is swank. There are fancy restaurants and sheik art galleries and while all these things are wonderful, few cities seem to have a real urban plan for how they might improve the lives of the citizens they have to move, the folks whose businesses they buy out and we generally condone it all, when we buy in. I’m not sure either how we fight back; if there are referenda for this kind of planning or if most of this is just taken out of our hands by political wrangling with big business in local government back rooms. Anyhoo, we’re going to be in Portland for a good hour, and I’m going to need some grub. You have no idea what the food is like in Greyhound bus stations. You wish you could run up on a McDonald’s, so I’ll be exploring the new gentrification, seeing if a beer might sidle up to me for a spell.


Back on the bus and leaving Portland. I had an entire hour and ten minutes lay over. I asked a security guard where he thought I could get a beer. He hemmed and hawed and eventually said he knew of a place but I should be carfeul about having something to drink because the driver might not let me back on the bus if he smelled alcohol. Can you imagine the place we’ve got to? This is a free country?! I shouldn’t drink before I get on a bus for a trip I’ve already paid for?

So whatever!... I bundle up and head out. No one can reconnoitre a beer in a strange city better than I can. For a minute though, I thought I’d been foiled. Portland is as dead as a (well I had a really great analogy in mind, but it’s wrong AND it’s politically incorrect…)… so it’s just dead. Eventually though, as I crossed a corner I spied out of the corner of my eye, two blocks away, the ‘E’ and the ‘N’ of a flourescent “OPEN” sign, and I headed off in the direction. I came upon Taco Del Mar and as I looked through the window wistfully, I saw another neon martini glass sign and I knew I had arrived at the oasis in this alcohol desert. The chicken burrito was really really good (way better than I was hoping for) and significantly better than anything I would have eaten in the bus station. I also had a local Oregonian IPA and I feel refreshed. So now I’m back and there’s just 4 hours of travel left; word!


Olympia, WA – almost there; kinda. Just an hour and a half to go. I wrote me a poem but it’s really scary. I don’t know if I can share it with concerned readers. Every likelihood is that someone will try to commit me if that piece is read by the general public. Having no phone on this trip has been a strange revelation. I’ve been forced to sunsist with my thoughts and mone alone; in a way that hasn’t happened since… since before I had a cell-phone.

1. Aladdin Inn?
what could this possibly mean?

The invention of the cell phone has changed everything about the perception of human interaction; who you are based on your availability, and how you relate to the world. On this trip though, I’ve been forced to observe. I tend to be very observant anyway, but I’ve been forced to be quiet and look out the window… a lot. Without the laptop (and the Kimiko Hahn collection) I might have just gone mad. I have also managed to get quite a bit of sleep which is always a good thing in my world. There is much I would not have seen if I had my phone with me. I’d have pestered someone to keep me company during the voyage, but as it is I had the opportunity to see stuff, contemplate the wonders of… Fibre Federal for instance.

Tacoma next. Still no new friends. Unless something extaordinary happens, it’ll all be left for another day.

Thursday, January 13, 2005


Last Night at the Asian-American Writers' Workshop, there was an over flowing to capacity crowd for the Tsunami Victims Benefit reading. On a night in which the weather outside was dreary and inside it was over crowded, hot and uncomfortable, no-one minded sitting through the very well-organized and stellar poetic line-up that came across the stage, including Patrick Rosal, Steve Cannon, Bassey Ikpi, Edward Garcia and others and was hosted by Ishle Yi-Park. $4000 was raised.

...and ultimately that is what art is good for. Cash receipts notwithstanding, what art does (to answer the ultimate cynics) is get enough brilliant poets together and folks with pockets full of goodwill to right the rotation of a world richtered into high speed by the earthquake's blast. What the world always needs, is the Acentos crew (Rich, Oscar, Fish) and Ed Garcia doing the dozens in the back while Kevin So sings the world back into rotation, so the planet comes back in correct on the break beat, adjusts its hat and leans back bumpin'

Then you need nine folks who laugh so hard, they continue to ensure the blue marble turns itself round right and you load them up with 4 Southern Comfort shots each and various other beverages. You know what, evil doesn't want any of this; any of this thigh-slapping, drink-sputtering, joy - the kind of evening God bothers to ever save the world for, inclding a young woman (Sarah), who after several shots, could still on command recite one of the most obscure psalms and make it sound like a love-song.

So of course, now i'm up (since about 4:45) because i can't sleep and my life is good. It's all Patrick Rosal's fault and just to show him, i'm not taking this lying down, i'm returning the favor when i get back from Seattle...

Friday, January 07, 2005


It's hot as hell - in my apartment at least - and i'm loving it. I'm listening to Brent Shuttleworth's CD and if you don't know who he is, you should try your best to find out. I had the privelege of going to his CD release party last week and was thoroughly impressed there and the CD delivers on the promise of that. I only wish there were more tracks on the CD.

I've been also reading Calalloo (Afr American Literary Magazine) and Tracy Smith (who is a phenomenal poet) has an interview in the latest issue in which she talks about the journey of her understanding of herself as a poet, the role Modernism as a movement has played in poetry and in the evolution of the "I" in modern poetry, how it differs for African American writers and a host of other subjects. It is one of those interviews that is at once exciting, because it confirms so many things i believe, and daunting because it reminds me how much i have left to learn and frustrating because i think i'm way back. However, i plan to live an annoyingly long time, so i'm thinking i'll give myself quite some time to do all that i want to, and learn all that i need to. What i'm saying is, check out the issue. There are also intervies from Thomas Sayers Ellis and A. Van Jordan, two of my favorites, but i haven't got to those yet, but i feel confident that it'll be worth your money and your time.

(aside) my phone is dying. it's been doing things like turning off and on, on its own for a while now. i've been trying to ignore it because my contract runs out in March and i figure if i wait long enough, i'll just get a replacement phone (with an upgrade) for free. In the meantime, i have the ouija board phone, which particularly likes to turn itself off in the middle of my text messaging. I've started taking it to meaning that the universe intends that i not correspond with that person just yet, and this way i rationalize the phones behavior and refrain from pitching it against the wall (which has acted fine and has done nothing to deserve such contumely) or out the window. If i pitched it out the kitchen window, i'm bound to hit a pigeon to besides and i'm scared of the pigeons who hang out on the fire escape because they're loud and always fighting (or fucking - who can tell the difference between the sounds sometimes) and they look in at the window like they're always trying to start some shit; especially the one friggin white pigeon.

Anyway, this coming Monday i'll be slamming at Bar 13 for a chance to represent the LouderARTS Project at the Individual World Poetry Slam in Worcester, MA next month. Come see me and a bunch of other folks if you have the time or the remote inclination.


Monday, January 03, 2005


The New Year is here and there is much happening. The world is recovering from the greatest natural disaster it has ever seen and Shirley Chisholm (black woman running for president in 1980) has passed. January is cruising along at temperatures that average 50 degrees or so. What does it all mean? I'm not sure if it means anything at all; but i am having a hard time wrapping my mind around a disaster that (when the final numbers come in) will have killed upwards of 200, 000 people. These numbers make hurricane Floyd look like a walk in the park; nothing more than a kind of off day for a city. In this atmosphere and with help of a writing exercise from Marty, i've embarked on a new series that looks at super heroes' obsessions with normal human life. Even as i'm still writing them, i understand them as a sort of... critique? i think of an entire world of folk who would like to go back to the business of being human for just once; but whether natural disaster or folks killing their wives and cutting the unborn out of their bellies, haven't we been heading here ever since the Industrial Revolution? Haven't we, ever since the birth of virulent capitalism created the circumstances that create cults of personality in such unhealthy ways that every situation, even when money isn't involved can only be seen in terms of its potential for profit?

I'm not saying that capitalism created the tsunami in Asia, but we do have to examine very closely our environmental policies amongst other things in the face of the planet's throwing up in the way it just has. A fellow-poet, Patricia Spears-Jones points out today that Shirley Chisholm's motto when she ran for the presidency in 1980 was "Unbought and Unbossed". She asks if any candidate to run today will be willing to claim that slogan; can without reservation, wear it. This is an interesting question; one which one will have to ask oneself as we go through the world if we are to achieve anything within the scope of our own personal revolutions; and therefore affect the world in some larger way. Anyhoo, here's my next poem in that series:

Superman abandons Clark Kent

“… and that’s how Superman sees us;
weak, ineffectual. Clark Kent is Superman’s
critique of all humanity…”
Bill (Kill Bill Vol.2)

I hated the subterfuge
feigning vulnerability
to make the humans comfortable

so when I strode
into the Rain Lounge truth is
I was looking for a fight
a good old-fashioned bar-fight

I’d be careful no laser vision
be certain not to hurt anyone
but I’d make sure to win

cuss bray pound my chest
afterward toss a last drink back
and go home feeling
like a man
maybe with a girl
one who seemed impressed
by such things

but the bar felled me
before I could pick a fight
the bass was thumping
and a woman
bigger and more real
than Lois would ever be

was laughing
calling me “Sugar”
and that’s how I ended
the whole Clark Kent business
because they were all dancing

I ordered that drink
and when the DJ came
back in on the break beat
I joined in
and had to remove my glasses
to shake my ass

Have a good night folks...