Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sky Dive

burned out abandoned
in muted tones) Light which is palpable
(whispers in the palm leaves)
cement rotting into the sea) The Ohlone said
“Dancing on the brink of the world”
meaning here (The tattooed sand
the ocean stretching out past forever (not even the
feather of a doubt (written like thunder
in her eyes

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Numbers We Left Behind

w/Death’s hand upon his shoulder
desperation & the obscure grave
                                                                                  reduced to TV time

                              the armor in the rock
                              the blood in the tulip

& twisting in the pencil rain

              The red neon script I read backwards
              the death of rubys & dark emeralds

                              out there beyond the ruins
                                                & the bells of St. Kahuna

Monday, December 29, 2008

Beneath the Radar

The beach already dark
& the wind

riding in with the tide

Five pelicans
                              swooping in low over the waves

Pelicans possess some kind of ancient wisdom

“Conspire to invent a world”
                              (William Carlos Williams, out of context)

What would Joanne Kyger say?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Rooms of Open Sky

                    (for Pamela)

The horse itself is motion, the
study sequential
                                                each freeze-frame a figure
of what flowing
                                                (walk, trot, canter)
upon a shock of color
a grid engraved
                                                no longer abstract
The depth of perception
                              is not reserved for the eye
              Listening you can
                              hear the sound
of hooves
                                                drumming in the brush stroke
The pattern spans whatever the heart
              tiled texture & image
                              Shimmer steps through
is not only the eloquence of saying so
across the variegated colored squares but
in time a
                              place you know by hand
& so memory
on the right in blue dots balances
              the flat photo of a fence left of the equine
                              to document this dance
The appaloosa turns her head
              (“to be born & live”)
& so the mare’s clear eye, the long
                              muscles in her spotted neck

falling past a turquoise & crimson

              dancing at the edge of memory

graceful as soft
                              diffused light
              touching shadow

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Down three blocks then over two & across the vacant lot

These clouds
gathering rain & bits of string
from the roadside
                                                as did St. John of the Cross
before he rusted out

                              Halos of evenfall
                                                in doll-like syllables

                              every numberless number therein

                                                neither light nor eyes reveal
              & from where darkness
                                                I know as well
                                                                has wings
                                      is thus hovering

                              & gray like sheet metal whispers in the tide

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Eternal Company

                    to Patrick, Micah & Sunnylyn

I’m always there
except when I’m not (there)
                              just a sweep to be swept aside in the
general tumult & lull
The zing-strings of what must be forged outright
into shapes of color & tinted glass
                                                but The Winter Palace
                                                                (whatever is left of it)
you had every right to believe & indulge
                              ―an act of kindness? a pun?
                                                an Elizabethan getaway?
                                                                something to do…
Against the raw twilight I’ve got
this turquoise parking lot,
                              a bottle of hunger & some Mexican hardware
& though we recite Verlaine into the drain-
                                                our wrists are strong
                                                                & the night
when it gets here
                              will be true

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Telepathic Taco Wagon

                    an xmas miracle

Tequila, egg nog
& an infamy burrito
for breakfast

An early morning disappearing act

“No room for us among the dead in the
burnt mountains, not yet anyway” (saith Leweye)

nor rainswept where I recite the 242 choruses
straight from the book of my dumbass dreams
& thank whatever precarious

Peeling a wet ten dollar bill
from the pavement
at the corner of Ocean
& Water streets on this
the feast of the nativity

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Goodbye, Dirty Machine (part 73)

I wanted to go home with Joanna and wreck some things…I don’t know why her friend didn’t like me, but it was clear she wanted me gone.   To that end, she drug Johanna outside to a cluster of golf carts around a late-nite pork and beans stand, dishing out staples to drunk and dazed Odyssean home-bounders…a few young black bucks sat idly in their carts, very familiar with Johanna and her friend…I stumbled over and got her just enough on the side to ask her if she wanted to come over…she had downed a couple of aquardientes and like lightning in a snowstorm she laughed…and I knew then that I had a chance…but not tonight she said…I asked when and she gave me the location of her employment, the Tropicana Beach Club, and said she’d be there any afternoon at the outside bar…and I saw that smile slide into something dirty, standing in the moon of lights…I wavered off with a kiss to her cheek and began what was becoming a routine walk home, bopping along under a palm tree prosidy…I thought of Johanna and I thought of Ramona and I thought of guilt.   I may have felt some, but I didn’t let it ruin the inky stroll homeward…I went to bed spinning on the heat and tar of Los Angeles and dreamt of myself blowing poetry, and Johanna blowing me…

Next day was Sunday, and I thought long and hard about going to see Johanna.   It tainted my day blue and crimson, so I paid homage to the King of Literature by shacking up with Whalen’s “On Bear’s Head” and writing poems.   I kept thinking of Ramona’s teeth, her perfect strong dentals white as light….how often she flashed them, and how it made those around her stumble…I do be turned on…yes.   But it was by the blackness and pink privates of Johanna, counter to the mouth of Ramona that got me breathing hard…It left me in somewhat of a quandary and so I sat and soaked in it, waiting for tomorrow…

Monday I put on the swim trunks and running shoes, tuned the cd player to Dylan Albert Hall Concert, and leapt from the beach back door into 242 choruses of sunshine, breezy palms, and lone mangroves…I reeked of tender reveries and ghastly acts of love.   It was a good half mile past where I usually turned around, so I was sweating profusely when I reached the Tropicana…

-Michael Price

Day to Day

One place as good as any
a creased spine & blank
words filling every page

              the Taj Mahal, Hermosa Beach,
                              Crater Lake, Haleiwa,
                                                the Sea of Cortez

vagaries of innocence

              an only ritual

or vengeance
which taps the silver
las palmas

& nobody knows your name

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Out of Reach

One mirror staring down another

A mirror of flesh & bone

A blank sheet of concrete
fluttering in the cool sunlight

catch it later on the playback loop
                              beneath a sky imported from
              another dream

Monday, December 22, 2008

All Fish Go To Heaven

Steam spray tossed
              up across the sand
a rail of jazz
                              from the pipes
              & crushed cinderblock

Windwaves (a Chinese dragon tattoo)

I’m tumbling inside a washing machine on TV
                              with God doing the voice-over
              bumming a smoke

There will be a silver snake
              wrapped around yr wrist
in the ruins
                              darker along the sand & beach
              concrete where the sky is
carrying a shotgun harpoon
& a book
                              a Bible (dark) or poems
& like the hammer of dreams
descends beneath the lamp
at street level
the skeleton of a Tibetan trumpet
mumbling drizzle
              noodle precipitous
                              dank wherewhithall
                                                Jack of Diamonds
in the raw damp serpentine
of sea-mist dawn

Sunday, December 21, 2008

It's Only A Movie

Should you expect
the weight of the tide shaped exactly like
a winter sunset
but Tiny spells “virtue” with an “F”
a Grecian urn balancing on a hat pin
where our final option is always the first
to go as the plot depends upon
a beached harpsichord
played upon by Thelonious Monk
in top hat, wetsuit & tails

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Double Down by Michael Price

We can’t live long
Without beauty &
The red hues of
Descending light

We take some part
Of the infinite
Noir night
With its true truth

Its great swan
Of hurled hope
& we lay down
to weary sleep

For eight years
Of trying for naught
We dance we fuck
We make whitening

Expressions we eat
Desire & shun taking
Our medicine we are
In fact wrong

About the way we see—
Our lust driving our right
Action into wrong
Desire It’s an easy
Long hour to get lost
In And we do

And do I wish
It was saffron &
Red dreams for
The large bloc of blood

Ignorance in the middle
But it is finally
The middle way
Which will free us

Dressed in western
Clothes our future
Burning ground
The pyre of the Midwest

Seeking always to go
Lower like water
Blind purpose to kill
Or fuck or play

The odds are we destroy—
Dead city void of water
High in wind “some
Parts of the world

May have to be
It comes too soon
Like anything else

                        -Michael Price

FROM CHANSONNIERS by Patrick Dunagan

by Patrick Dunagan

A tender lyric sequence like a tight-rope walking tuba band performing without a net 20,000 feet above your tired eyes.

Cover by Ryan Coffey.
2008.   5.25” x 8”, saddle-stapled.   $7.00

from Blue Press

AMERICAN STUDIES by M.Price & K.Opstedal

by Michael Price & Kevin Opstedal

A short suite of collaborative poems by the founders of Blue Press who prove without a doubt that American Studies begin in Japan.

Cover by Russ Pope.
2008.   5.25” x 8”, saddle-stapled.   $7.00

from Blue Press

Friday, December 19, 2008

The pavement was still damp

Empty red dust sunsets hypnotize themselves

I had to soak them in gasoline

an aloha waltz across the razor horizon
that neatly slices the sea from the sky

but we got bottles of Mexican amber
              albatross enchiladas
                              & plenty of dark places
                              to get to

              walk around the puddles
              of light
                                                reflections of nothing
                              like your eyes
                              transparent for the moment
                                                                & that’s what I wanted
                                                I always wanted
                                                to look right through you

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Where'd You Get That Bruise?

The way silk clings to her body after
& the silver on her wrists like
winter on the coast

memorize the dreamless
dark blonde sand

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I Wish You Would

It’s easy to fall, that’s the popular belief, but I think sometimes you have to work at it.   To fall you have to let go.

She didn’t want to but there seemed to be no other choice.

“I woke up.   I went to sleep.   I painted the walls rust to match my blood.”   There is forever this delicate balance to maintain?   Then you fall, you trip, or get pushed (accidentally on purpose) like the Roman Empire.

“You have the standard edition, right?   The one with the inelegant stain?”

I was looking for my reading glasses, it was a vision quest.   She had left me a neolithic candle & a 16th century book of curses.

[ The Flashback reveals what we’ve suspected from the start—   she has complicated shoes.]

Horizontal bars of light & shadow on the wall, late afternoon sun streaming in through venetian blinds.   The business with the needle is drawn out for an incredibly long time in a series of tight close-up shots.   It’s like watching a rose blossom unfold in real time.   When the scene is finally over half the audience has left or fallen asleep.

As the day winds down she appears to various people simultaneously;  on the pier, in the supermarket, holding a shovel in someone’s backyard, standing on the highway hitch-hiking with a handwritten cardboard sign that reads “Yesterday”.

The speed of light, something about time travel, a time machine, warp speed, a glitch.   How time got here & where had it been?   The Wayback Machine.   This is a dark place where nothing happens.   This is a place blasted with light where everything happens.   Dries clear.   Never needs ironing.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Radio Alarm Clock

I’m down with the mysteries & harmonies of the universe
“You walk in the front & walk out the back”
just don’t fuck with my car

Music lies coiled deep
beneath the sea
where shapes hide what we might or
might now know
                                                And the secret
                              riding on the surface is simply
                                                                a matter of syllables

clouds               a few, scattered near the edge of the sky

wheels               only at rest when they are in spin

takes a moment to dream it right thru articulation

                                                Wasn’t what was said but how

The streets quiet within their colors
morning slanting through

You might think of engines humming beneath the waves,
how shadows crowd the pier, format the text, trim the spine

Dark passage what I said these dim luxuries I needed them

beach motel tango
pussy weather flatline

Monday, December 15, 2008

Reef Dance

I learn to live each perfect broken morning
all of it tipping back a rusted bottle
& sifting thru the top ramen for that last
nickle we already spent in a past life past
caring anymore as time dips your eyes in the
lead-based paint of a sketchy sunrise
where you always manage to find something

you always manage to lose something too
the trade-off as symmetry & a faulty sense
of balance tripping over the rails of the heart

Friday, December 12, 2008

Under the Bubble

Waiting in the rain-shaped
              (yr cloud-torn eyes
                              & all that’s left (the
              bell curve swept the
pulse of the pavement
beneath (when you’re not there
                              the broken mirror
                                                Sea Hunt
                              electric No-Doz foam
              in shipwreck colors

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Everything Turns to Water

Drum, possibly dream
              from the froth of Ocean crossing
distills that which pelicans in their wisdom
glide above
                              only to be returned as such
is possible the pursuit seems actually to have
occupied less than the hours
                                                & what else to tell
layered transparencies against the
              one doesn’t ordinarily read but lit up at night
              having traveled this far
                              up from the waves as mist
                                                snagged on telephone poles
or drifting across a parking lot (itself
              Not from eyes intent upon
                              nor the blue window light only just lifted
but as the tide
                              a measure
                                                duly noted

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Goodbye, Dirty Machine (part 72)

I was 1/3 pink, 1/3 blue, and 1/3 green and it was high moment to awake out of sleep, poetic reverie, and my very own gov’t issued junk withdrawal...I figured my figures and came up with massive glee, emainating from drunken patrons, who, like me, were adept at the blonde waltz...I focused on the matter at hand…to the only detail that seemed to matter...getting in carnal with this highway Johanna...God was she something to experience...all her magic, grace, mystery, femininity, and intelligence...I was youth in a Jerkin Frieze among a bevy of scamps, louts, tear-aways of all kinds...we were on the back edge of the par quay when the PUNTA music moved in and gripped the throngers...and like a sudden new art movement, Johanna was moving in eighths and sixteenths, with broad sweeping brushstrokes of a lyric intensity and compression I hadn’t seen since the sonnets of Wyatt...I moved my arms in perfect mimesis to the movements of her hips and torso...I sent the orders down to my mid-section to duplicate what my peepers were taking in but the lines must’ve been crossed because what my hips were doing looked like Thomas Eakins up against De Kooning…I didn’t care because the Seagram’s or Jack had oiled me welll...and shouldering my spear I kept at it behind her, running my hands up and down the contours of her hips and waist...the arcs of those lines were fabulous to hold and had a most interesting effect on the planes of my thought...I wanted in the finest sense to behold the perfection of big machines at work even behind evil corporations, big green power plants where infinity and long division were commonplace, behind the ax and behind the wonderful rooms full of drink and electricity where we were just lanky puppets gassing on their exhaustive half-truths......they made us dance for sugar booze and sugar sex and sugar hope while they raked in the dough...

I was dancing best I knew how, which aside from some admittedly good disco moves I had honed in college, was not much for the was hard to tell what Johanna was thinking—judging by her non-verbal communiqu├ęs, I was pretty sure she was considering a late night chance encounter...younger, greater, ever truer shivers were going through her body right in to mine and the improvisation of gadfly minutes was getting better and better with each insane song that was spun...when it came time to Punta I bowed three times to St. Jude and let it rip...

I guess this went on for a couple hours until finally she just walked off the dance floor with just a slight glance over her shoulder to let me know that it was just barely ok for me to follow...and over she went to her girlfriend I hadn’t met yet who had also danced a few numbers with a crazy adept punk man right in front of us...and that lady had absolutely no use for me, shouldering a cold millisecond nod as if to say “white nights in shitty armour”…

-Michael Price

Food for Other Fish

Back on the street (pointing) the
sky sort of breathing
& nowhere to go but over the edge

“by the sea / by the sea”

It took me weeks to get the sand out of my ears

I painted the walls rust
to match my blood
downloaded the brainwash ringtone
& locked the door

Just me & a six-pack of euphoria
“when the bell tolls it tolls for yr heart-shaped
crime against nature” (or something)

When I finally came to I found myself
paddling toward a lone palm tree
stapled to an otherwise
empty sky

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Double Indemnity

I’ve been counting down

every number has its history
from pity to deceit

walking now through the canyons

“I left all my visionary equipment in the car”

the backstory deleted & the
sun multiplied by towers of glass

(The ghost of an elegant abalone shell abstraction
you’ll see if you close your eyes

              all the details are just reflections)

But dark as the long trip back through
endless constellations
of streetlights & neon defined
to trace that spectral
& return

The graffiti on the overpass says
“Sooner or later
you too shall burn”

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Comes a time you’ll change yr name to
Quentin Nemo or
Jalisco Ocean
watch love burn like Bagdad
spend yr days pitching pennies in the tide
the sky ending like memory
drowning in a handful of tears

as perhaps the possession of some future
returned to the changing sand

where we walk away in another language
& slash the wrists of clouds

Friday, December 5, 2008

Goodbye, Dirty Machine (part 71)

I sucked it up, reverently and physically, finished off the Jack and Seven I had switched to, and made my way over, watching her notice my approach from the corner of her eye and doing her best to stay as cold as possible...”black butts make good book ends”.   Again.   This insane iambic refrain was running through my banal mind as I got closer...a last ditch mantra to try to will some cool into my neck felt like it was fastened in a wooden cangue and my mind was caught in a bad infinity...I was listless and vile and in spite of it all, I said "Hello, Michael," (hand out) "What’s your name?"   Nothing.   No smile.   A slight nod of the head.   Enough to keep me going.   “Do you have a name?”   That brought a sneer...but words cameth:   “Johanna.”

Look away.   Total disinterest.   She wouldn’t look at me...le vice anglais.   Le vice white.   “What did Black say to you” I stuttered, laughing uncomfortably and nearly apologizing for my weirdness...She started to show the faint upward curve of a smile at this one, as if her and Blackie had shared the juiciest bit over on me and there I was, capsized in a sea of evil with thousands of years of very major imbalances tipped in my favor but knowing inside that karma had a higher hand over these things than politics or shift-shape morals...ah, a vale, a refrain, an alibi....”Would you like a drink?"   We were right up to the corner of the bar and she finally said "Baileys and cream"

Huh.  That was a new for me, had heard of drinking Baileys in coffee, but with cream?

"On the rocks?”

Incredulous.   I told the bartender to make it a Baileys and cream on rocks and a Jack and Seven and inside I'm thinking, Jesus—two Dylan song birds—first Ramona and now Johanna.  Was I headed for some elegant, eloquent choice between the lies, the truth, and the pain?   I fiddled with money in my pocket and thrust some on the bar top, the girl behind me, sitting on a stool five sensing the scene…I made a great presentation of this Baileys and cream on the rocks ...she was totally non tactile, taking the drink from me with no overlap of hands or fingers, no skin on skin not a minute too soon or too late, just smooth smooth manipulation of the "lets pretend" school of theory and panel door wisdom…

Johanna, meanwhile, took nickel sips from her drink while I asked her stupid questions, answering in shakes and nods mostly, causing me to pick up the pace of my drinking so that I might bury my head in the nearest ass and be done with chunky motions...I wondered where the sozzled wisdom and beginners luck I had grown so accustomed to was…In the face of black beauty it was nowhere to be seen...However, just when I had reached my often ridiculous limit, she surprised me by speaking.  “I'm going to dance.   You can come with me if you like.”   Literalism.   I liked it.   Pars pro toto…saying vamanos to my 36 selves and following what I now saw was a really blythe and beautiful visage, as I said, mall white, and smooth with nary a faint line suggesting underwearables of any kind...She moved through the crowd in a historical critical rational manner...

And the humpty dump dance square was moving, nearly ablaze...Johanna fluidly made the transition from pedestrian to spectacle, not missing a single was as if she was more at ease in motion, whereas I could be caught enjoying a more sedentary repose not quite showing off my junky dance moves...but in this situation there was no choice but to chase a sudden breakthrough, keying the cipher of uncertainty as to where it all might roll to, hips rolling, yes, there were hips rolling when spied down through my tropic goggles, rolling like danger, like aspirin in the palm of the hand, high crack laughing here, this wonder woman moving like water running down a pane of glass...and nothing to do but slide in behind her and behind every action she was about...

-Michael Price

The Opstedal Ultimatum

I just walked in
& walked back out
staggered on the steps

whoever I was going to be
had left the building
before me

My eyes went turquoise
it was genetic
as were the midnight RayBans

& the long road back

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Built on Sand

She said I said yesterday
Don’t open the window unless you
mean it

Sunset lament (in the shadows)

The sky over the central coast has been
closed for repairs today
& her heart is Point Blank Baja
as performed by Jimmy Twang
& the Hitmen

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Sinking of the Sushi Boat

Cloudy gray granite w/sparkles in it
stars or windows (seen from a great
height) two-way mirrors

headlights in the fog

I was driving nails into seawater
trimming stones at Ryoan-ji
raking the pavemnt in Santa Cruz

all the reasons for & against

slip away from pale fingers,
windswept airplane glue, dark
palm trees with darker church bells

chopsticks carved from martyr's bones

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Out of the Ashes

Someone (minus
shoes) driven
under the

Monday, December 1, 2008

Desert Sky Beach

Wearing sunglasses Death
is more about dying
that spells doom
in Samoan

What to look for & where to go
makes as little sense
but then w/ritual percision
slicing the silence

you could drown the Reaper
in red wine & still make it back
w/a black skull cap, a bottomless
beer can & Mexican shoes

Here it’s all low grade thunder
& residual blues (harmonica
& dulcimer tuned to the tide,
tacos at midnight

elusive reasons to breathe
(room for two where
we’d boomerang & decline
w/our blades laid out

for all those doomed to follow