Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Gifts

Two half-moon hubcaps off a ’56 Chevy
A garland of seaweed
A pair of beach-glass earrings shaped like the
history of Buddhism in America
A rusted compass rose
A ticket to see The Flying Burrito Brothers
at Ash Grove, Los Angeles, November 7, 1969
A barnacle-encrusted horse shoe
Chuang Tzu’s butterfly
The rhyme scheme from Gerard Manley Hopkins’ Pied Beauty
Eskimo pajamas

A knowing look from brown eyes that have seen the things
I only thought I saw

Friday, December 20, 2013

There’s a taqueria at the end of every rainbow

Someone says (quite naturally) “Never
eat anything bigger than your head” 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

A shopping list:
1) Flowers (light & dark)
2) A pavement saw
3) A repair manual for a California fan palm
5) It wasn’t easy but it had to be done

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

From here the ocean is
blue, green, turquoise, white & slightly tilted


This is where the West begins & ends
(the East as well)


I’ll meet you someplace
between where you’re going
& where you’ve been

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feathery                                 between the stuttering neon
(feathered)                            & the wet pavement
wisps of smoke

Monday, December 16, 2013

Das Gedichtete by Patrick James Dunagan

There’s a wonderful sustained resonance that rings throughout Das Gedichtete, the new chapbbook by Patrick Dunagan.  Whether you hear it with your ears or in some labyrinthine hallway of the mind, it’s like a tuning fork that was struck on the concrete floor of a house of mirrors a hundred years ago, or maybe just a minute ago, but it continues to hum, dialed in to a frequency that causes bubbles to pop in a dream, which describes a presence I think these poems claim. 

I took the assemblage of these lyrics to be both a meditation and an improvisation upon the essays in Adorno’s Night Music, which Dunagan cites as an inspiration, if not a source, or launching pad, for these hauntingly beautiful songs –

Objects in transformation
beloved images
depicted in mental form
evoke memory of Something
no more real
than the scars embedded
upon them
                        (page 6)

There’s no escaping the fact that we are eternally “eavesdropping” on the ventriloquist at work in this artfully composed collage of largely untitled verses.  Dunagan is adept at not only throwing his voice, but at strumming the language.  He is taking a philosophical vocabulary, monotone and appallingly logical, and is tickling out a melody.  This can at first seem merely a poetic exercise, later maybe a bit like hotdogging, but at its core Das Gedichtete is a finely crafted sequence of events that “Go beyond meaning”.  As good a definition of “The Poems” as any.

born into this
eternal delight
how suddenly
it lasts
            (page 18)

Das Gedichtete is published by Ugly Duckling Presse in an elegant chapbook format and only costs $10. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Eric Dolphy’s Third Eye

All dark velvet, darker silk,
you know what I mean,
maybe you’ve been there?
strumming Telluric currents
emerald & steel
& where it falls in the index of beach pavement

shifting sand             There to glance a moment
surging water           carrying a bent tuning fork
                                     & a bag of flashlight batteries

The drumroll pipes in advance of the sea-
tumbling across the arroyo alleyway
between tattoo parlors & dive bars
hustling kelp blossoms beneath
the reliquary palm trees of winter
shadowed in pale sunlight

It’s all within walking distance

drifting sand             Conscious recollection
painted water           arranged in acoustic patterns
                                       maybe you’ve heard it?

Chinese surf music
Engines in the bougainvillea
Peruvian wind chimes

often folded into the origami seascape
half past sunset on Green Dolphin Street

Friday, December 13, 2013

One for Odysseus, Elpenor, Tiresias & all the boys down at the shop

What goes here is now gone
a fleeting memory if even that
mid-morning sunlight slanting in thru the
asian pear tree
yellow leaves that
have their own light
as I’d like to think we all do but
wait until after midnight

hibscus chrysanthemum candelabra flashlight

All it takes is a slight push
the city sliding into the sea from whence
w/torches lit we return

shadows disperse & reconvene in a parking
lot near the beach

& though the tide may carry you away
it sometimes brings you back again
blinking the salt water out of your eyes
staggering beneath the neon glitter of sunlit mist
dragging yr knuckles through the sand

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Little Green Bag

Maybe a minute before sun-
rise the surface of the ocean
its dark iridescence heaving &
falling (a complex delivery system
driven over an edge that seemed so pure
once upon a time)
hammered steel
& velvet & neon eyes blinking


(my name is difficult to pronounce as well)

The cool sand streaked w/tar
dual pipes breaking over the reef
threaded w/mist like
Chinese postcards mailed from Guadalajara

& so down the broken concrete steps
one more time reading the waves as though
they were words on a page

There are moments that reveal
less of what we truly are but
this isn’t one of them

Monday, December 9, 2013

Nevermind the flying robotic jellyfish

Tell me something I don’t
know & we’ll
let it go at that thinking
as the reflection lays flat

by merely looking up
we may be just that
far gone & described
even the long way round

Sometimes we drift like this
gathering what others have
let fall whispering like a
20 dollar bill across the counter

from one hand to another
if you think that way
the one with the floral design
& secret compartment

a system of ropes and pulleys
with which to orchestrate the
evening tide as we should either
hitch that mule up or turn him

out to pasture rather than haul
it all back to a place that possibly
exists only in the mind
A page torn from one Homeric

hymn deserves another but
you can burn out the clutch that way
speed-shifting from cypress to starfish
& back again

That blue sparkle on the water
looks as though it’s been spot-welded
to a piece of sheet-metal
& it’s a brand new day

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Molotov Cocktails for Two

That the sunset sky is soaked in
gasoline speaks for itself
like a mirror smeared w/lipstick

You might want to ask what it means but
that’s the wrong question the
notion of anything having a “meaning”
is a short, dead-end street w/no
interesting scenery at all

I am more inclined toward
listening to bubbles
in the water
quite possibly in Sanskrit

That all this could resemble the bent
fender of a stolen Chevy Malibu is
coincidental like my hand beneath your skirt
driven off a cliff just a few miles south of here

where together we can watch the sunset

which I think you’ll agree
looks like a tangle of bright cold flames
hidden beneath a rock
on the bottom of the sea

Sunday, December 1, 2013

In my paintings

Blood colors
(crimson, vermillion, rust, or
silver) stain the ceremonial
t-shirt & jeans

I could never see the percentage in
dealing in the sacraments
but then I’m always cutting corners

A norteƱo accordion is tuning up on the beach
& for all I know multi-colored tears are filling the
eyes of strangers all over town

Green, pink, orange, & blue perhaps
which is strange for this time of year
when pearls & moths should be the prevailing hue

but just as she would reclaim a thousand ships
& tie them round with a colored ribbon

any color will do