Monday, July 23, 2012

Look At the Way She’s Twitching

So maybe she’s draped in several yards of handmade
Chinese silk carefully dyed with the blood of an
albatross that was captured live off the coast of Java
sometime near the end of the 19th century

& the long string of pearls around her neck
the silver & the jade & shark tooth ear-rings
& power tools

She dreams in suspicious languages
beneath carboniferous cabbage leaves she
very deliberately picks up & holds like
Tibetan chalice rags in the wind

I love the way she wanders in through the back
door of my mind, unsteady as she tiptoes barefoot swaying
in the golden California light 6:32 PM Pacific Standard Time
& everything around her turns to glass

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Check Out These 2 Reviews in SWITCHBACK

(Switchback is published by the MFA Writing Program at the University of San Francisco.)

The Cosmology of Transience: Kevin Opstedal's California Redemption Value by Alex Rieser

Coastal Poetry: Dear Oxygen and California Redemption Value
by Patrick James Dunagan

Friday, July 20, 2012

GYPSY & POET by Michael Price

Torch songs, ballads, & lullabys in the heart’s smoke-filled back-room, these beautiful poems by Michael Price are loaded with lyric echoes of Wyatt, Campion, or maybe Andrew Marvell, thus furthering that poetic tradition into the 21st Century situational ethics of the windswept Colorado this poet calls home.   “There is a healthy / Dependence on truth / And love’s nameless / Dream,” he says, and he means it.   But “her voice from below / crawled into my dark mood / and took up home where the mystery / of feeling normal continually / plays Judas to my Steve McQueen”.   There’s no other poet I know that can pull off the old switcheroo like that.   Price has the chops, the know-how, and an ear so finely tuned to the lucid ambiguities inherent in the American language, that it is simply dazzling.   It is a true pleasure to experience his poetry as it plays out upon the page.

Gypsy & Poet is available right now, direct from Blue Press.   What are you waiting for?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Brief History of Rock & Roll

I read your story in the depending hyacinths
or nasturtiums
                              spilling over the seawall
beneath the spectral cypress
              & intervals of rusting eucalyptus
                              gargling the seabreeze like a flooded carburetor
& just offshore less than a mile from here
              the blood of sacrifice by moonlight
at high noon
                              but in the sand gravel parking lot
where the pavement gleams wetly out of the past
              seems set like a jewel in the last stretch of land before
the heaving Pacific
                              swept in red sunset turquoise
drizzled in the milk of alleyways purpled w/blood or mist
              swamped in a brown corner by Rembrandt
with simple manifestations of allegorical contingencies
                              trembling like a drop of dew in anticipation
maybe Golgothas & la luz de Oriente
              flying in off the lip of the Pacific
night & day crashing the sunburned sidewalk
                              outside no-name hamburger stands
w/surfboards nailed to the walls
              & I was waiting for the tide to wrap in around the jetty
the sky rocking back on its heels
                              drifting           half your life at least
the half you can still remember
              for a minute there I didn’t know if I was in Salinas
or Bolinas—as it turns out I was on the PCH
                              somewhere between Oxnard and Zuma
which is a kind of synthesis of both those places I guess
              if you’re standing on your head & haven’t eaten for a week
The setting sun was like a pelican’s wing soaked in gasoline
                              & all I had to do was light a match

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Find Me a Golden Street

It has to do with balance
              the inner ear listening to something else entirely
Spare change? (Not today)
                                                I was listening for once
                                                                                (for a change)
Motors Running in the Fog
Memory’s Gracious Gift
                                                                (thinking this)
              & a deeper gloom than all your Topangas
                              shrouded in smoke & mist of Aztec or
                              Abyssinian origin but with hula girls
tragic on a sand road in the lemon dusk
suddenly appearing & disappearing
              vacant & inexcusable except for the
                                                way their hips move & the rustling of
                              grass skirts like the rainy cape of pneumatic
                              kelp groves rocking underwater to the
                              ache & tremor of ocean tides precariously
                              tilted at this hour
like 1001 tangos walking the plank           in another life
that so closely resembles this one it’s hard to tell the difference

Monday, July 9, 2012

Performance Enhancing Drugs

I thought all drugs were performance enhancing

although the meth head on the river levee has a different
agenda when it comes to performance than the
heroin addict living in a cave on the beach off West Cliff

Did you see how that last wave broke?

Thanks to a few Phyllomedusa Sauvagei frogs with superpowers
there’s a new polliwog produced painkiller
said to be about 40 times more powerful than morphine

I can’t wait for that to hit the street

we could see something truly Oscar worthy

Saturday, July 7, 2012


The Days of Blood & Roses
A pale golden light behind
the distant darkness
in her eyes

Herbal Extract
That boat has left

Hamlet with a Gun
The Prince of Denmark
wearing a midnight wetsuit
& carrying a surfboard
made of steel
loaded with lead

The Code of the West: Chapter 372
“Fuck you
& the Prius you
drove here in”

Manchurian Space Reggae
We go where the wind goes

Thursday, July 5, 2012

And Bring the Octopus a White Russian

You were peeling the moon
              with a book of Buddhist matches
& I was learning to listen with your eyes
                              hoisted from the wreckage of a
windswept rooftop with pearl inlay
              & that same feathered wisp of cloud that
followed us from Pismo like Blake’s worm
                              above derivative sunlit streets near the beach
as if to say “Let’s just sit here & tell each other sad stories”
              chased the night out along the catwalk pier
in the middle of the afternoon
                              & it was like silk or aluminum out there
at that depth & from the rolling surface tension lifted
shallow roses & the fake sombrero
shaped like water…
I just naturally assumed there’d be electric guitars
              & the true life confession in a million words or less
drums pushed over a cliff & rudimentary exercises in
iambic pentameter
& bowing to the four sacred corners of Sky, Earth, Ocean
& Time starving in the bell of a saxophone
I make the following introductory speech―
“counting fingers & toes” “converted to a silvery new religion”
“just the shadow of” “& reaching for the page”
“at the end of the mind”
“Palm Leaves Disinclined by Virtue of Engines”
“like ghost mules in the fog” “tideropes & tabernacles”
“in the blue morning air” “of night”

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Standing at the Drop Edge of My Heart

for Pamela

The morning breaks clear mid-summer here
a small southwest swell lifting smooth & clean
waves of timeless silver-green glass
with brocade & collision insurance
seascape dioramas above which a cloud leans precipitous
pausing briefly in it’s glide southeast
(it’ll make the Arizona border by nightfall)
One long lonely call will crease the sky
a seagull clearing its throat
or the smaller more detailed
bell-like chatter of damp syllables at low tide
speaking in a language I will learn one day
& in the distance dimly lit Embarcaderos or Insurgentes
knocking in the rainy neon margins that situate
smoke halos I watched bend in your eyes
where vast karaoke machines are assembled for
recitations from The Greek Anthology
& a cool ocean breeze rattles the popsicle sticks
from a thousand summer vacations
reliquary & haunted no doubt in the sense I have of it now
as I climb the rotting concrete steps
up into the waking streets
to look for you