Saturday, January 31, 2009

Dismantling the Beached Cadillac

All the parts add up
like names you can’t remember
the world as such laid out before me
here to read through with prescription
binoculors & a crescent wrench
as I would compile secret inventories
minus any lyric disclaimer
with a Fuck Death harpoon tag
relegated Torch Ballads, Tambourine Blues,
Saxophone Flashbacks & Mariachi Breakdowns,
Scenes of Life at the Capital by Philip Whalen,
The Pleasures & Pains of Opium / De Quincey,
Call Me Ishmael by Chas. Olson,
random scrap manuscriptos de Opstedal,
a pencil, a dirty ragged wedge of Sex Wax
wrapped in plastic,
threatening letters, a bottle of pills,
a harmonica, an out-of-date tide chart,
a small stack of postcards I never sent
& an empty Tecate can that you’ll hear humming
softly to itself when it’s quiet enough

Friday, January 30, 2009

Midnight Railslide

Park it on the street
where that powder tastes like
the rusty edge of a night in Long Beach

The wires pulled tight
against the light crystal pendulum
that never measured anything
let alone the capacity to cry on demand

Laying down near the Innerspace Blues
a lullaby rocker with electric cowbells
that roars toward you like a tractor
with the high-beams on

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Transsiberian Luau

A ghost Cendrars wearing a
steel-plated beret tilted at a 45 degree angle
just drifted past the deciduous cathedral
also tilted at a 45 degree angle

Puffs of smoke accentuate the sky-
blue aluminum & glass recycled from some
other time (southeast of here)

I was counting sand pebbles in the
fading light as the wings of cormorants
divided now from forever just
inches above my head

The sun tumbling over the horizon
the way movie stars dive off balconies
whatever the reason
into tear-stained buckets of cement

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Catching Air

Breathing is a full time job
              even more so if you spend your days
diving into puddles with a speargun
                              & a 12-pack of Corona Extra
              like a pantomime Ishmael
                                                standing in line at the Moby Taco
                              wearing an Ahab t-shirt

You can always pass out behind the wheel
pop the clutch & fishtail up the coast
hold your breath until the sun sets
& scratch your name into a fender of sand

Something about the way stones breathe
              when you’re not there
aligned with the hollow myth of a future
                              that doesn’t pan out as you
              bank on an imagined history
                                                made of thick Mexican glass
                              shattered on the dark side of the heart

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Order of Arrival

It’s called a waiting room because
that’s all you can do there
Urgent Care really doesn’t have any
sense of urgency
All the clocks seem to be broken
as we thumb thru ancient magazines
avoiding eye contact
hoping to keep our pain & fear
a secret even though it may be
the only thing we share here

Monday, January 26, 2009

Chinese Ink

The sky gets shut down
              with winter clouds
as I zero in to zone out
                              but like Eddie Poe
              cradling a 40 of laudanum
sitting back in a burgundy naugahyde

              near the outer limits of a
                              lassitude to be so devoutly pursued

& it’s like a grip of smoke
              where the strings of my
                              demolished harpsichord snap in the
              vast tidal sweep
                                                on a moonlight drive
                              off the end of the pier
              with you still wearing those pearl-colored
                                                                neon shades

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Drainpipe Concerto

Puttering around in the narcotic cemetery where pink plastic flamingos are planted in place of tombstones.   The inscribed epitaphs like closed captions in invisible ink beneath names & dates all of which are the same.   I have a map & a scorecard but without a telescope it’s hopeless.   The shake & bake flowers are nice though.   They bow their heads & mutter vague obscenities to themselves.   Bathed in albacore light the place is peaceful enough, like an underwater themepark in midwinter.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Archives: Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Central Library downton Los Angeles.   Lewis MacAdams reading & publication party for The River: Books One, Two & Three (photo by Gary Leonard)


Total eclipse
Damped strings
Tamales in the parking lot
rain (all day with the motor running

Strands of uncertain tinsel

At the far end of the beach turning
your back on the ocean

find your own path thru the debris

bloodcolored rust, twisted
pieces of steel & concrete

Empty bottles warped by darkness
nestled in among
stones that burst into flames

Friday, January 23, 2009

2-Ton Feather

Many apparent ocean hieroglyphics
WATER seeks its own level
Squalor is the easiest explanation
I wonder where that silk-lined wet-suit went

Is there anybody out there?

I didn’t think so

despite the opium dream of every
blessed morning diluted with coffee
& introspection

you bury your fingerprints in the wet
sand at the water’s edge

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Inside the Rain

A darkstar nasturtium (the
              secret part of the dream)
                              ambulance or something mythic
              like Chinatown underwater.
                                                I have stood on the street there w/my
                              chow mein & notebook
                                                                & a 24 oz. can of Modelo Especial
                                                in a brown paper bag.
              The weather swept up the coast from south of here
                              coming in off the water
                                                                (driven it would seem
                                                by sea creatures
                                                                                  who resemble devatas
                                                                from some sandstone carving
                              but with seaweed in their hair
                                                & a pair of damp sunglasses
                                                                to hide their incendiary eyes
                                              from those like me who would
                            like to know
                                                  regardless & so across the wet
                                                                                  concrete & iron
                                                        the hollow stone steps that
                            lead to fog plumes & forgetfulness
                                                            dark overcast skies drill down
                                                                                  a spit of drizzle
                                                                        & the gulls fly backwards

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Early Warning

The neon innuendo the
hosanna of broken glass the rubble
we’re buried in the complete english poems
& selected sunsets of.   Inside it’s
much the same—clouds
nailed to your eyes as shapes of
color against what stomps the ocean
floor.   A wraparound radiance.
An open door.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

At the Door of History

that such a thing as a nation
could expect
even against it as the first
light here ignites the vast
Pacific sky & restlessness of
waves beneath
the trace of a timelessness
in time that we may
find a way written in a
litter of stones of petals
& leaves the wash of some
inner tide that rocks the
meter of our loss or
lifts that broken covenant
to defy the chronicle
we have become

Monday, January 19, 2009

Seabreeze Tango

She may have sifted down
thru the grillwork of heaven
but I’m still paddling thru the quicksand
as her spine recalls
the slight curve in the palm tree
which shapes the wind I suppose
just to say it makes it so
a translucent
Botticellian beauty
with attendant angels, mermaids
really, with enhanced cleavage
& bowling trophies ala de Chirico
stalled out above the
signature waves

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Nettelbeck/Opstedal Reading in Santa Cruz, Feb. 8

Nettelbeck & Opstedal will also be featured on The Poetry Show on KUSP 88.9FM, from 9 to 10pm, that same evening.

Doesn't need a reason

Loading up on virtue, poetry or
a 12-pack of silence
              while a herd of gulls
                              flap scatter into empty air

              The Beachbreak Sutra says
                              “Fold up the cloud cover
                                                & carry it away”
              So gently step the other side of the spoon

a slow dance a distant memory a diversion
              all the clutter in shapes of dreams like
                                                aerodynamic submarines
                              drifting upsidedown
              inside the sound
                                                your heart makes

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Swamp Knuckles

A fire death surf zombie
taking the mirror’s pulse

at dawn w/a gunmetal eyedropper
occludes the tinsel logic

that rains down between spinning
wheels of sunlight

tapping the lip of the tide pool
or quiet beneath the diesel concrete

running the numbers that fall from the sky
you can’t rely on defeat to snatch you

from the jaws of indifference
anymore than these scrap iron wings

when I bail out

Friday, January 16, 2009

Slashing the Hula

Strip the chrome from your fingers
stoned beyond the pale
desultory moonlit sonata spinning in the parking lot
like a six-way mexican standoff

That’s the synergy of a kind of
chaos theory I refuse to
believe in like an ocean sunset
in a ziplock bag

                              All my heroes are staggering in
                                                the dark somewhere
              it’s all I can do to keep my
                              head in the clouds & my sneakers
                                                somewhere between the boardwalk
                              & eternity

Thursday, January 15, 2009

They say drowning is painless

Each beer can a handgrenade
              & the delicate streets like torn paper
skidding past the Earthquake Taqueria
                              in the rain when it isn’t raining

              I’ve got things to do that never get done
                                                but like a diamond footprint
                              on the step or flowers strewn on a watery
grave my past lives have devoured the future
              & I hunker down in the voluptuous shade
                                                w/a dog-eared book of matches
                              & a fiberglass harp
                                                                strung with seaweed

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Blood in the Water

The Golden West sorts thru dreams
like sand pebbles at the foot of the
Hollywood sign sinking beneath the weight
of pale pink angels who
talk out the side of their mouths
& carry guitars zipped up in a body bags

You can always trade those thick tears
for a bucket of flashlights
gun the engine & chase down the
starlet who wears crooked shoes

I’ve got a pipe bomb in the tank
& she’s got black silk eyes

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dime Bag

One step, to either side
(who toppled oceans in his
stride but within the disassembled
heaven, hell & the flip-side
(the mere reflection
we turned to look through & past) as one
maintains that distance a face
behind a face kept.   The last of the
last in need of a bed
& a bottle of something dark.
One gets bent by the light & the
stagger waltz hauled across
by diligent tropical fish.
There is a realm, a prospect
the skyline of which melts
like a gumdrop on the windshield of
Paradise the way rust inches along
a strand of barbed wire & you count
the grains of sand between here
& Yokohama.   It is an emblem
of our disintegration then
that draws out the shadow
like a blade.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Pretty Vacant

The wings of a gull like a pair of
machetes & the rain like beads like
arrows falling before the sun that
splits the clouds & levels the pier
so you can feel that gear slip
in your heart & the sky open up
blue dark with turquoise & bleeding
pink along the horizon
& in the waves so the lip of the curl
like Elvis sipping Drāno
beneath the fluoresecnt mask of sunset
becomes a narcoleptic episode for two
out where the pavement meets the sea
as in welcome to nowhere (the
transparent version

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Don't You Think

It takes one, & then another
w/reflections in a puddle of breath
left out on the sidewalk
lulls in the atmosphere
I‘d say if it wasn’t for those bent
trees you’d never know
how thirst measures the gleam
spinning in the eyes of some random
yet essential stranger
hypnotized by threads of smoke
& leaning against the refrigerator
as though the wreckage of the night sky might
trip the scaled-down version she
carries like a funeral march
down Kamikaze Blvd

Friday, January 9, 2009

Your Guess

                    for Guidry Ballardeau

When asked about your past
you fill the the blanks w/fictional
cities, streets, tequila hinges
& counterweights
all of which
relegates the weight of breath to
a 40 ounce chalice
lifted to Poseidon, Thetis, Nereus,
                              various nymphs, mermaids
painted waves for surfzilla
              floating face down
                                                in the acoustic foam
& nowhere apparent
as my own ghosted presence then
taken by such indifferent kindness dealt
spent sands adrift
a brutal lullaby
to shift the doubted pace
that arcs the traces left as relics
under stained glass

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Bongo Knock-Off

It may be possible to read the future
in the rocks & sand that close out
the shoreline
but it takes a lifetime to learn
to haunt the beach like a prehistoric seagull
sorting thru tangled strands of seaweed for
that last beer can & scoping the horizon
w/tricked-out eyes as the sky bends away
& the tide slides in beneath it
              a watery page in the Book of Nails
                              an outerwave demo w/oriental guitars
              a twilight flamenco theme still humming
              in the pipes as you zero-out
                                                on the incandescent haze

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hollow Point

A rake of feathered clouds at the
edge of a fibergalss moon
& you wrapped in lace as black as my heart

                but those eyes like damp pavement
                              & the incidental music of your fingers
like El Kabong in the banzai fallout

                              The resignation we slid past w/ritual
                                                disregard & poems scrawled in lipstick
              still a place you can command when

your love has turned to dark silver words
                              & a pale light flickers overhead
against the night

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I Feel Turquoise I Said Rehearsing a Kind of Distance

The trees are throwing shadows back
into the white sky where
God has gone to sleep it off

We’re on the edge of a low pressure system
coming in off the Pacific with plenty of whales, sea
otters, great white sharks, polynesian girls & potent
cocktails served in coconuts, etc.

Washed out shadows of winter disguise the sleeping hydraulics
of spring.   Persephone.   Demeter.   Aretha Franklin.

I’m describing everything but explaining nothing
in order to replace your inner resolve with a slab of concrete

I guess we all need to learn something mechanical

like Peruvian gin

& savor someone else’s darkness for a change

Monday, January 5, 2009

Even More Beautiful

She did her Dance of the
Dying Seagull for me.
It was awful.   She was
very strung out.

She said her name was Eileen but
I didn’t believe her.
Her boyfriend was a biker.
He hit her.
They didn’t get along but she said
she loved him.   Then we fucked.

She didn’t want to kiss.   She said there
was something in saliva that was addictive.
If she kissed me she would fall in
love with me, be addicted to me, & she
couldn’t do that because she was in love
with the biker who beat her up.

She had a lean, beautiful body.
Small breasts & long legs.
We smoked cigarettes & caressed
one another.   Then we fucked again.

In the morning I drove her out to the
train station.   She bit my ear & rubbed her
knee against my crotch.

She wrote her phone number
on an empty pack of Marlboros
& gave it to me.

I watched the train pull away.

The sky had tilted into a dull brilliance.

I tossed the empty Marlboro
package into a trash can
& walked back to my car.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

In Shades

Cold winds cutting in off the churning wash of waves
with St. Cadillac the
patron of Western roads
              The Sand Beneath the Pavement
                                                The Outrigger
                              Kon Tiki of the Broken Night
              Mysto Reef, Boneyard, Steel Pier, The Pipe
Medieval cathedral bells
in the predawn stillness that is
more like a ship at sea
than anything else I can
think of right now

A day & night of reckoning
                              banjos in the eucalyptus
                                                this side of a leadpipe morning fog
              & darkness the texture of naugahyde

Rosy dawn at the door to the Pacific’s what I’m thinking
                              & not Odyssean but ukuleles
              & steel guitars with guttural twang
                                                in seeming deep waves returning

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Monsoon Season

We drove to L.A. from San Diego.
It was late & we three had just given a
poetry reading at a bookstore
in La Jolla.

Miguel was driving.
I rode shotgun.
Dudley was sprawled out
in the back seat.
I think he felt sick.

We had all drank massive
amounts of Pabst Blue
Ribbon which the proprietor
of the bookstore had kindly

It began to rain.

The ’68 Impala was a beast
held together with duct tape
& coat-hangers.   The
windshield wipers didn’t work.
That is, the switch didn’t work.
If you got out & monkeyed with the
wires under the hood
they’d spring into action.

We drove along & the rain got
heavier.   Miguel couldn’t see.

“Fuck, maybe it’ll stop,” he said.

“This is Southern California,” I told him,
“it ain’t gonna stop.”

Miguel pulled over.

It was uncommonly dark on the
405.   Cars hydroplaned past.   The rain
was pouring down.

I climbed out & popped the hood.
I couldn’t see anything.
I reached my hand in to where I
thought the wires might be.
I was drenched with rain.
It was a monsoon.

Miguel jumped out to
share in the misery
& eventually we got the wipers

Back in the car Dud was
moaning something about
car crash & a watery death.

“I don’t think he feels so good,”
I said to Miguel,
“he’s mixing metaphors.”

“Ah, he’s fine,” Miguel said,
gunning the Impala out
into the wet
freeway night.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Some give themselves to cold sapphire flames

Listening to the sunset
the color of the wind
immaculate inaccuracy of tidewater eyes
                              strung out beach sleaze
              blood on a surfboard

              Groove cut sand dune
              veins in marble
                              eucalyptus light
              & dark against it

                              a page of haze torn in half
                              & half again