Friday, February 29, 2008

Everything Else Begins or Stops

One born of sea foam
may just as well have been born on a bus
somewhere between Salinas & L.A.
but born in a shack on the waterfront
in the rain would question
the intent.   Her lips were
pale at dawn.   I made a distinction
when I should have
shut the fuck up.   The sky mixing
shades of blue as yet
undefined.   Just another way of singing.
The color of pearls I think
was her answer thus born of sea
foam & darkness beneath the waves.
The moon a coin in her hand she
flips it to predict the tides.
Once the hours hollowed out it was
carried on the wind to
carve its trace as a lustrous
sphere.   I swallowed two & held my breath.
The bus was pulling in to the stop.
It was noon.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Open the Door, Jimmy

The music of her eyes
(an underwater saxophone
diminished in the tide)
“What’s yr music like?”

A disco ball eaten by a chainsaw

Do you really want to know?
All these simultaneous sounds (I
pretend I’m listening
as I could be hearing something
entirely different
                    a shadow falling across a
                              feather of concrete
for example)
U  N  D  E  R  T  O  W
wind-chimes, drumrolls
& Mexican feedback
                veering off the reverence
waiting for the woman
                        with the sunset eyes


Goodbye, Dirty Machine (part 5)

When I met them both I played heavy towards Celeste because I knew her straw was shorter and because there I was a gentleman grimacing at the sounds of the second-rate musician and his cursed electronic piano banging around in the air behind us...Ramona could say hello but most of her conversation took place in her eyes and gestures...flash, proprioception, nerve...she knew very little English I could tell...There was, in the newness of that night, convenient fictions parading around in the guise of small talk as Celeste and I went through the motions of courtesy, filling the ears of one another with our precious how-did-we-get-here fantasies...and the Drinks...the drinks had to become kinetic, one after another, everyone was in agreement on this concept--including my mother--that the exchange of money and booze would be none other than the bloodline, the psychic stream of liquid manna from which we could siphon off courage, outrageousness, and the seeds for our eternal suffering...It was from this vantage that my shadows moved closer towards reality and the circumcision of my manhood...there was some angling going on between Ramona and I for our proximity increased... at the bar on a couple stools where I could get my legs in close to hers and rise from history...I broke the dam on my broken Spanish, not used since some ill-trips in college days to Mexico, and it was a miracle the way those verbs and sentence constructions came back to my lips, dormant since the sprint age of 18...could a poor soul such as myself, having lived the life of an American without travel, without maddening dreams of anything beyond my hometown, and only calculated San Francisco nights of full tremelo ordinary-ness plus old stag film bravado, could I really have all of this, this Ramona?.. I had had none of it and could only speak lowly English, never that I could speak another tongue! But--here it came, Spanish for the love of cunt--from my mouth, for the love of beauty...I had it going!

I asked her where from, how where, how old, when this, when that...I interjected, pontificated, and maneuvered in broken Spanish and she was taking it in beautifully, answering with care, making sure I understood how delicate her life was...and I'm thinking the yin energy of dark earth, the irrefutable MAYA of feminine existence put here on this earth to move man to the edge of his sanity—I'm thinking of her naked, raw, in cahoots...lovely broken front tooth, Oakland freckles, brown eyes, occult skin, the holy whole of her...where were she taking me that I hadn’t been...thhe hand of a woman held me...If I had been smart or even lucky, I would have dropped it all right there, all of WOMEN, but to do so, to lose their particular smell, to stop looking, tasting, and being wholly consumed, this is difficult and rare...So I watched the hands of Ramona, searching for reasons to condemn them, but could only find perfection...

-Michael Price

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Gravity Rocker

A ticket to meaningful
& the detour
if anything to drain you
                        your love of darkness
              as I have so often claimed

that damp w/silver in the veins
taken away in the crash of waves
or flames


in pieces gravitate toward
                      what likewise reflected
          a borrowed poise

transformed as I would be
something other than the time it

only the tender caress of annihilation
can take the guesswork out of mercy

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

From an Intertidal Zone

The beauty of it imagine several
diminished options diminishing re-
turns being anywhere here plays
the B-side of all further
attempts at consciousness the
weight as it is to be so carried
scribbled on the blank page of a
            night in Long Beach or
                        some other stretch of
against the lark & drag
staring into the double-reflecting transparent
imagery of a face lost in the
          like the smoke version of
                  The Descent from the Cross
left out on the pier as the fog rolled in
                        got folded into that
Feel it in yr knees when the wind rips
thru LAS PALMAS (elegant green plumes
revving their engines)
              as the edge of the continent crumbles
in the crush of gray-green avalanche
                                  ocean landslide thunder
                    on the darkened sand
one more time

Goodbye, Dirty Machine (part 4)


Ramona’s many charms and presences had been made known to me two days earlier upon my arrival to the airstrip on the west edge of town...picked up in a golf cart by my mother and led through the old west two main streets of sand and sanctity town...small stores, stray dogs, walk-up bars, colorful and smiling people, activity, the beating sun, the tumbling breeze...Everyone I met had something to say about the lovely Ramona...But it was at Fido’s, in the newly broad light of my mother that I first put my gaze in the direction of the Ramona’s particular folly and water spirit lovliness...she was in the small jewelry shop that sat street side under Fido’s giant canopied palapa roof.   She was with Celeste, her Belizian/American friend, also a friend of my mother’s, and I knew right away that the miracle of incorporation was close at hand, that I somehow possessed her from that moment, when I knew I could walk away from her at any time...that I had reached the primacy of some sexual prowess just by being in Central America & I had anticipated meeting her, I could feel the force of her moving towards me, as I myself moved in a ribald zig across the United States and down into the Equator...

It was December 18 and everything was flung wide-open, there was decay in the air and I was to work on it...I was getting the gentle breeze that blew in off the Barrier Reef a quarter mile out across the emerald highway...I had sat at my new altar that morning in tropical sand-yard newness, in the house with no ceilings, the house of my mother...The Universe was telling me to work on what had been spoiled and that could only be my ex-Wife...which could only be my own wretched self, a self in a thousand, a million, a billion, a trillion...”I have a little dog and they want to take it away from me” Oh my self!   How I had satisfied, pleased, and delighted my self with foods, spices, colores, various unguents, jewels, conveyances, banners, hordes of friends, cars, drinks, and hours, hours of crayoned-like rainbows, adorned with schizophrenic mandalas...”My disease, my personality, and my penis”...I was going to work on my SELF and recoil from work and danger...However, there was, amongst this undeniable call for reform, a second and profound whisper along the lotus-sitted path of mirth...there was to be a Preponderance of the Great, the joyous lake above and the gentle wind below...with lovely pink wings Ramona was going to blow in and I would be forced to extraordinary measures...

-Michael Price

Way Gone

                    for Nettelbeck


The Bones of Clouds
He dropped coins into the burning
pool & made a wish

Close Cover Before Striking
Breath fogging the windshield
half-past midnight & going nowhere
gets to be habit
the world in flames

The body of a young woman
in the parking lot at Greyhound Beach
burned beyond recognition


                        “doll house in a shallow grave”

I can still hear you


Mockingbird, my nightingale, sing sweetly now

                  Who do I need to kill?


Her finger tracing
the faded red highway line
on an old defunct triple-A map

It’s a road like a vein that
no longer has a pulse
          going nowhere beneath
                    a sky the color of cough syrup
                              but with ocean-colored feathers

“Lead her to the shadows: that place is fitting for the silent.
She shall be a nymph…” as Publius Ovidius Naso says,
but a nymph of “infernal swamps” or something (I don’t have the book within reach)

                  It’s all a game of echoes
                                              emotional sonar
                              done with mirrors
a still life
in blood the shadow
no longer there

South of the Border

The embarassment of looking thru
another poet’s CD collecton

“Tijuana Brass?”

(I remember growing up in
L.A. people said it “Tia-wanna”)

Monday, February 25, 2008

And Then Some

A specific locale could be
                          & so indeterminate
numbers exhumed
just the fingers (alleged)
“The Deed”

Dust of palm trees, beach
sidewalks stained the
night around you the color of a blade

To know that you can walk away
is enough in
time the colors fade

you fall to your knees
hear voices, see God, etc.

Maybe one silver tear drizzles
down yr cheek (a page ripped from the
Book of Rain)

The empty circle, the vacant lot, the
beach deserted & the horizon
too dark to see it but if you could you’d
know exactly just how far you
have to go

Goodbye, Dirty Machine (part 3)


I met Maria on the wrong side...she was brown and lovely from the beach when I saw her and there was hesitation as I ran my daily run, ran for my life, running to some teacher...I saw that the beach was scattered with various jewels, studded with lapis lazuli and inlaid with jewel flowers of wicked scent...I know now that this was the detritus of Maria’s destructive path, the jewels of her torn lovers, her stilted menfolk…it would be later that night I would find my friends at the Holiday hotel, the first of San Pedro town where Reuel was a night bartender and at 19 one of the quickest and learned Belizean woman cat hustlers...a beautiful tall smooth-talker with a heart of multitude made of May winds and golden beers in the sun...He loved the American women of which I could not favor, not having found a single one of understanding and character that wasn’t completely confused about the means to possess the FEMININE...god that dirty foul word, that smell, that American women have learned to despise it and how American men have reached new lows of cowardice in not demanding it, in letting the concentration called sphere of the unobstructed eye of vision of all romantics and lunatics, fade into a callous mirth of material pleasure, a digital acceptance of manicured activity all designed to tear the soul from its ten pure directions...Reuel liked to say that the one saving grace of American knits was their knack for the cock suck, agreeing that for the arts of horizontal, they fell somewhere between fish and sloth...and I had to wholeheartedly meet him half way and agree...I could not find the guts of wisdom amongst their tittery talk and pursuit of hair products and purses…the really remarkable thing about Reuel was that he was only 19...the Kid had a behavior range of 18 to 27, depending on what the age called for, what sweet friday night fever love of rum and ginger pursuits he was demanding...

Said was a different story...his eyes were illumined by the lightning of Saudi Arabia, a deep brown manifestation of essential middle world wisdom...Muslim wisdom both quiet & cool and sure of its uncertainty, this being twenty years old and full of American University mischief...a handsome strapping most suredly unusual middle eastern with a soft demeanor like that of Ramses the Great...He had small bumps around his eyes, not quite acne, but some condition that added to his character...landscape...the grit of honesty and humility surging up through the skin with chemical, toxic urgency, releasing the dark intuitive secrets of thousands of years...the first time I saw him was at the warehouse disco Barefoot Iguana’s...I was with the stunning Ramona, a 20 yr old Ecuadorian princess with ONE BODY like I had never seen before and the face of angular crime, crime against beauty, somehow stolen more than its share from nature...and long-braided hair which piled around the back of her head, shoulder to neck, neck to head...And to mention the clothes she would don...original and tight, a mixture producing a separate abstract heterogeneous force...curves understood by all who saw her...Every man turned his head in perfect primal obedience, opened his mouth, and whether he was finally able to utter words or no, what came out always paled, always fell somewhere at her feet, short, which I then promptly stepped over with a smile permeated and dissolved by spirit...for somehow she had become mine...I was on top of the heap DESIRE and I reeked of shit and aires...and I put up boundaries, false fronts and frontiers, between my ego and her delicate cunt... they battled constantly for my attention, with projection and introjection, subterranean currents of air and gyration as only a Latin woman and an American Character-armor could produce...Not to forget the lovely Maria, whom I will renounce later...I met the Ramona princess a few nights earlier at Fido’s, the beginning and end of San Pedro town, the hold-out for ex-patriot American and British washouts from all walks: cons, drunks, tourists, dive-masters--all of them cunt-struck and wretched, holding each other fast with rum tongues, bad Caribbean music, and hundreds of cigarettes an hour...I felt deep sorrow amongst these, a mad truth of sorts, a hate born of worn-out glory and sentimentality...a deeply western malaise manifested in over-acting, over-emphasizing, and over-reaching any action...there was nothing more agonizing than watching schizophrenics pass beyond insanity into the grey ordinary of ignorance...God to have Dionysus’ mad company, his raging paraphernalia of the wise lust and libation, for it is Bacchus who breaks down the boundaries, releases the prisoners, gives the idle a grace, a primordial light of unity in folly...breakdown to breakthru...

-Michael Price

Bird Bone

We can assume
1) the torque of dreams
2) “She lived in mystic seclusion”
3) a sound as of wings
              out in the street
                              a rainy night in Tijuana
                    had as its measure

She was a distortion of the truth
in a black bra

                  speaking several languages
                  & saying nothing really but shadows
                  paved in blue
                                        & the occasional couplet

It All Turns to Glass
A fine mist of haze
                will cancel her eyes
while her precious adrenaline simmers
                            on the lid of the tide

Topography must be good for something

            The third mudslide this month has closed the
            highway out here
            on the west coast of a rapidly
            declining democracy
                            (for those of you still keeping score)
            although the wind isn’t concerned

“In the house was a kind of altar, and on the beams of the house and on the trees round it were hung human skeletons, head down.”
                                                        (Frazer, The Golden Bough)

            Dim phantom of solitude
            we turn toward you
            listen as the wind kicks leaves across the
            gravel of a path that’s
            too steep to climb
            in the rain

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Rosarito 3-Day

There’s a hinge in the sea-cloud
falling off the edge of the sky
& you wear a rain mask

skate jewel facets of concrete
“branching & leaving”
makes you want to dance?

tiptoe & glide & stepping
back a moment slightly outside desultory
& the stain washes over us

Add 10 more levels & a vert ramp
made of bone as perhaps the inside of
the skull would be the perfect bowl section

before the dark settles in
or seizes to the aerial reprise
sketched out in blurry, sacrificial neon

Goodbye, Dirty Machine (part 2)

Which is to say that the only true thing about California is the land...for the people, the equation es caca...those poor souls of San Francisco and their identities, their polo-tics, their sex and more sex...I was a dead chained soul amongst the chains of dead. I wanted to be one of those brave enough to live with art...”only those who know the ocean ponder death...” So to the ocean it would be...


And here I am.   Costa Rica.   This night I was afraid.   That a voice comes in the night where having sat in the dirty and dark kitchen of the whores I had dreamed of, igniting the incendiary and guileless blood that was now bursting up and out of my lotus heart, caught in the grip of enemies...I was so afraid.   The enemies are the mind, the doors, the broken keys, half starts...I had been walking in one tremendous Calle de los Blancos and it was March in Central America...I was reading Lawrence for the second time...”Sons and Lovers” and am thinking now of “Women in Love” with its strange hesitating paramours like begotten children...and the children I had found myself eating cinnamon fried plantains with some mornings...whores, or their imitations, children, lovely generous children...the whores and escorts; the truth; they’re all coming at me here, from fetters, from chains, from slander, a twisted form of truth from Maya...all are bandits or Imperials...I was thinking the other day in Belize that romance was invented by John Lennon...

But back to Belize...My mother had moved there after thirty five years in Colorado...she was divorced from my father with the malaise and the sundown...tho’ it was she who fled the Colorado winter...I was also a broken man, a cuckold, a failed dying bird, orange and black and red in the throat...I had to leave San Francisco to find boredom, to somehow break my heart there...there was need for complete break and it would be my will to subjugate desire to its own ends...I will make masterpieces and I will make bombs...I have this image of myself over a typewriter and there is death on the page, on these very blood tracks...It is this recognition, the rotting personal detritus, the air around my failures that has brought me to the brink of dispassion and an awkward grace...

-Michael Price

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Tapping on the Glass

              We diligently
                          apply ourselves to
certain vices

Antique Vision
  (plaster at rest)

            a reference (pointing)

                        “I saw what I thought was a bird
but the thought changed”

              The wet cement was as dark as her eyes

“O Rose, thou art sick!”
                    (the junkie’s anthem)

Just the ache & tremor of it now

from a space beyond mere presence

The Shining

Something glitters in the sand
tiny mirrors, grains of glass, dust of
stars or the sun-
light all broken up on the rippling
ocean out there
next to I don’t know diamonds
capsules of mercury
el coronado
(sparkle, like the story my brother
tells about being jumped by a gang one night
outside the Venice High gym they wanted money but
he didn’t have any money so one of them
yanked off the St. Christopher medal he wore around
his neck— Why do you think they did that?
I asked him & he said, Because it was

Rare Surf, Vol. 2 / review

One Minute Rock Concert

“A man could spend the
rest of his life
trying to remember
what he shouldn’t say”

Friday, February 22, 2008

Goodbye, Dirty Machine (part 1)

Goodbye, Dirty Machine is the memoir-novel-letter-long poem of a period in my life spent embroiled in the tropics.   It chronicles my run from everything in San Francisco--my previous life in shambles, my future life murky, if not downright dirty.   I was raw and open.   I chased women, I lived with my mother, I drank copiously, and I traveled into new lands with helpless idiocy.   I started to write all of it down in a whore's kitchen in Costa Rica.   I banged out a page a day on any typewriter I could find.   Upon returning to the states six months later, I continued this ritual until I had 367 pages of stories.   And then it stopped.   I couldn't finish.   I was spent.

This will be the new end.   I will post a page a day, erstwhile editing each to have a justifiable 2nd draft when this is all through.   I am grateful to my loyal friend and fellow poet Kevin Opstedal for providing the space and the patience for this to happen.   It's been a long time undone.

Michael Price


"Fucking is so very lovely who can say no to it later”
                -Ted Berrigan

“I don’t care who I copy, as long as it’s not myself”
                -Pablo Picasso

“Real life begins when we are alone, face to face with our unknown self.”
                -Henry Miller

“Even a lean pig has it in him to rage around.”
                -I Ching



It was a dirty spring.   An ashen winter, filled with promise, but a rotten, filthy spring.   How joyous it was to be embarking on the happiness of the flesh, to be moving from the escape of my mother and into the arms of my ex-wife and back into the arms of my blessed mother...a seminal song wrought through late fall in my tiny monk’s room 14th Street apartment in the heart of the Mission...a drudge in my muse, afraid of virtue and on the heels of sweet vice, I had become a steady customer of desire and a frequent speculator in the business of women.

San Francisco was dead.   The bitter waters of the Pacific lapped at the commercial wharfs, the people had become more jaded than artificial intelligence...there was an angry dyke on every corner, a dirty mayor liberal on every street car, and confusion was more dense than the summer fog...My god the city was dying all day long and the only thing to do was get summers I waited, and what was a San Francisco Summer but the dreary winter?   I had slipped into the net of a lazy lefty tunic, but now was my chance to waylay a piece of history...get out and become real again.

It's all about the music

I’ve made this drive
so many times I
figured I could
do it w/my eyes
that was a
one hundred thousand pounds of pressure

(tap, tap)

endlessly rocking
behind the wheel of a
rusted-out Chevy
El Camino
three miles south of
folded into the
azure origami
of twilight’s last gleaming

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Bit by a Spider

My sunglasses keep me honest
spare-changed into existence
begging to be lied to

& the day is
                            rippling cypress light
            grass plumes
a hook in the heart

          buried now in a corner of the surf

or relayed along the rusty curve of sunset
like a convoy of razor-pink flamingos
& stolen hubcaps

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Beggar's Banquet

                for Micah Ballard

Pattern of stars from shoulder to bicep

Dragon (at the nape of the neck) clutching a large pearl
it’s body snaking along the spine

HUNGER in gothic script on back of left hand

Bolivar Blues
The Land Beyond Land’s End
a set of intructions on how to work with fiberglass

5 foot curl in green with white foam a movement
in perpetuum

sand in my shoes

There are 108 distinctive signs of perfection
none of which are apparent at this juncture

“Prodigal Son” on the right pectoral

a twilight situation the heart
only slightly bruised

“Say it isn’t so, or lie & say it is”

an anchor
a dagger
a pierced heart
crown of thorns

The Mermaid’s Song

Emblems of some past wisdom
on the tip of her tongue

Thermal Inversion


calculate, calibrate


Fu Manchu

Requiem w/View

The sky doesn’t quite shine
        we say if the light falls
just so or
            the streets
humming a deep ocean song

transgressed by imagery (internal)
            & w/the adjacent walk-up
some drama turning
                  over beckoning

Whoever would resemble these final
                  prophetic taco stands except
it glows in the dark
                              like tide pools
tablature & pebbles

What I’m asking love
as perhaps the possession of some
        that has already passed me by

An oily tequila afterburn
            folded in half like a
sheet of blank paper

Behind the Shoe Nebula

                for Joanne & Donald

Cypress & eucalyptus
        (ritual implements?)     A   I   R

& sunlight above the soggy world this day
the Year of the Rat

I’d like to sing you a chorus of Auld Lang Syne
in Mandarin
but I don’t have the chops

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Art of Poetry

I was living on the 2nd floor of
a Mexican building (thick plaster walls,
stone stairways).   I had to run down to meet
& smoke a cigarette w/Duncan McNaughton
in the public patio, or plaza, in front of
the building, high up above the beach.
We sat at a little table smoking, watching
the huge waves which suddenly turned
all rust colored & then thickened up
& froze like plaster.   An odor of rotten
fish drifted up from the motionless sea.
“That’s red tide,” I told Duncan.
He made a face & said, “Well, that’s
disappointing.”   I told him I was sorry
& he stopped me―   “You can’t apologize
for the ocean,” he said.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Allegory & Ode (Condensed)

A bus ticket east is the
Code of the West & the grass
grows all the way to China

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Local Legend

Outside a teardrop airstream
in the dry grass & broken bottles of a vacant lot
there’s what could be a white flamingo
or maybe it’s a whooping crane
a crestless heron or an ibis
rendered in lifesize plastic
They say the real heavies used to tap it’s
beak before sessions at the Point
A kind of Surf City hoodoo everyone swore by
until Freddy broke his neck on a real
bonecrusher in ’85 & now no one will
get within 10 feet of that fucking bird

Drop the Hammer

Xanadu Jobs dot Com
Meth Lab Assistant
Celebrity Endorser Needed
Part Time Ethereal Accountant
Immediate Opening: Stun Gun Test Subject
Director of Epiphany Dispersement

Help Wanted
She had a pretty good working
knowledge of oblivion
enough to fill in the blanks
on my employment application

The Employment Picture
All applicants will be subjected to
a background check, a credit check
& a drug test.
We are an equal opportunity employer.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Letter from Philip Whalen, Feb. 21, 1987

The Calm Before

                        That feeling
does it come from the movement

          of the hand       over strings


When the mouth makes profound
                    what is mundane
      it misses the actual thing–
                  not meditation–but

      “Trying to find meaning, etc.”

    and lying around the ten knives

        ‘anything goes’    wrong-mind    Heart-in-darkness

    covering a plastic truth

        ‘The problem is not the arm has a cut
              but that we think it’s an arm at all’

Art then         not wood

                  is that by which we should build silence and shelter

          and light for the inner-ear

to finish the start
                      at the end of beginning

Gravity’s certain death (Opstedal called it “THE GREAT FALL”)

-Michael Price

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Queens Tunnel to Lexington

Not enough
dreams where the real
life is lived.
Surrendered realms
which initiate
the inner workings of deals
left undone.
Until there are none to be done.
the premonition
of where we’ll be when they arrive
& what’s next
after they’re gone.
It all returns.   But is it morning
or am I still here from yesterday?
Blood rushes below.   Rain
seeps through windowpanes
the bell
rings.   No.   I will not rise
to receive their grievances
nor their praise, false ambitions
material poetry.
There is another communion to tune in with.
Something more immediate than flesh.

-Micah Ballard

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ask Me Again

A machine specifically
                a program (the
ghost of it an alias
          from one to the next)
I don’t later resume
              nor one thing
        any more than the
other, something
waiting there
            (the time I liberated a case
                of Mexican beer)
put to that sense
          is a place a situation
enough to lie down on the sidewalk
in the rain
a passage apparently
          as thru smoked glass
                pale moonlight falls
against those eyes
          all tricked-out in
fever haze
            I wouldn’t know from
where I part the drizzle but that
you were there
              anymore than I

- Kevin Opstedal

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Dialing Near Bermuda

"But that a downright simpleness, under the affectation of simplicity, prosaic words in feeble metre, silly thoughts in childish phrases, and a preference of mean, degrading or at best trivial associations and characters, should succeed in forming a school of imitators, a company of almost religious ardent admirers, and this too among young men of ardent minds, liberal education and not

with academic laurels unbestowed;

and that this bare and bald counterfeit of poetry, which is characterized as below criticism, should for nearly twenty years have well-nigh engrossed criticism, and the main, if not the only butt of review, magazine, pamphlet, poem and paragraph; this is indeed matter of wonder! Of yet greater is it, that the contest should still continue as undecided as that between Bacchus and the frogs in Aristophanes, when the former descended to the realms of the departed to bring back the spirit of old and genuine poesy."

--S.T. Coleridge, from Biographia Literaria

T'is an obvious take upon what "The Poems" means (as I would say to Pricer at some godawful reading I'd say, Look, man, that dude is okay but he doesn't know "The Poems", which takes it deeper & should be a standard by which to read & know & what's got that fore-arm shivver to the heart & the mind of it) just that there ain't a whole lot of the hundred thousand million soi-disant poets what knows "The Poems". The fucking schoolboys & profs have no fact maybe nobody does, since it's not a quantifiable or empirical, it's always gonna be that feeling that is only there in the words that dance it, sing it, & defy the Definitions 101 class dissection unit. We can only talk our way around it, but it takes a while to get hold of that notion since we'd like to explain these things. Bad human habit

"Poems were made for the pleasure of making them, not for the purpose of being merely 'understood' by the literary scholars and bluestockings who edify themselves with the 'study' of poetry."

--Philip Whalen

The UC Press New California Poetry series is a good example of how academia has skewed the picture. The books published in this series, allegedly designed to be “reflective of California literary traditions”, have more to do with a worn-out east coast academic intellectualism than with the reality of a living California or West Coast poetry. Actually they could have been written in any university setting, anywhere, & are "reflective" of nothing but that closed, self-sustaining system.

Fuck it all can slam your head against it all you want. Corporate poetry is what it is & has been for as long as I can remember. "O, poet! show me your resume!"

My take on California poetry is all West Coast -- a poetry that perhaps is best characterised by the ancient indigenous Ohlone song which goes,

“Dancing on the brink of the world.”

NOT VERACRUZ by Joanne Kyger

Sometime in the winter of 2005 Joanne told me that she & Donald were planning a trip to Veracruz. They'd made several trips to Mexico over the years, always during the winter months when it can be pretty dismal, cold & wet, in their hometown Bolinas. Joanne often returned from these trips with a bunch of new poems, great suites of poems notably published in little bokes like Patzcuaro (Blue Millennium, 1999) & God Never Dies: Poems from Oaxaca (from our own Blue Press, 2004 - we still have a few copies in stock

I guess it was in December when I heard that the Veracruz trip was canceled & that she & Donald would be holing up in Bolinas that winter. Joanne didn't let that stop her as evidenced in this new boke Not Veracruz published by Libellum in 2007.

The poems in Not Veracruz continue the attention to the delicate conversation between space and mind, or location and thought, that powers Kyger’s verse. Of Not Veracruz Kyger has said it’s “a Day Book for lack of a better way to address what I think of as a daily practice of brush stroke immediacy.” Written during the first 3 months of 2006, these lyrics are solidly grounded in her home of Bolinas & touch upon such topics as the weather, friends & passing political news reports that seem to be constantly playing on a radio or television somewhere in the background. A nervous, sometimes irritating source of inspiration for this poet

I need friends from outer space

to save me from knee jerk belligerence
and total lack of coherent thought

(from “The Studio”)

I’m still getting my energy from Not Veracruz. These are poems that pick me up and set me down, scattering me across a familiar landscape, one that I know by heart although Kyger always makes it seem like a place that I’ve never been before.

Monday, February 11, 2008

stepping back a moment...

False Start & Breakdown Take

It is now the morning of another day
which is after the day that was here
but now isn’t.

Futile & drab.
Farfetched & dubbed.
                    Voice over.
                            Benedictine monk.
                            St. Skald the Viking.
                            The last ripple flexed.

I don’t know what secret identity to assume.

(That was then. This is later.)

“I start in the middle of a sentence
& move both directions at once”
                  (John Coltrane)

as the muse drives a little pink tractor
thru another brutal sunset


(edited by Michael Price & Kevin Opstedal)

"This would seem to be an anthology of a dozen poets/a dozen poems, but with names like Ang Xiao-Stubbs, Valerie Bang, Horton Lee Nash & Morrison Lopez...who knows?" - Art Gomez

Get yourself a copy at

a poem by Micah Ballard


to rage with them
these worlds, their war
tears on the canvas.
Half our lives
torn together.
Quick to rage without them
to rage within their empty spaces
to hold each battle inside
blood on the walls
I take from their mouths.
We initiate one another
I am in front. In the night
They are in front when
we sit down to bleed
We face one another in the dark.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Check it out.

DON'T SAY A WORD by F.A. Nettelbeck

A terrific set of 18 poems from a fucking terrific poet. If you don't know Nettelbeck's work you sure as hell should. Wikipedia has an article on him here & he has his own poetry blog and webpage which you should take a look at &

Here's what Miguel Price says about Don't Say A Word:

"Like rays of ether...some great wipe-outs and slashing, a few lyric lunch breaks, and a keg of gunpowder. Fuck, it's really good. It's all really good. That last poem of his, 'After Fucking', is bar none one of the prettiest works of poesy I've read in a while."

Get this book now at