Monday, August 31, 2020

Torching the Pier by Kevin Opstedal


Just released from Blazing Stadium, this small 27 page chapbook/pamphlet carries 15 of my poems. This is a very limited edition, so if you'd like to purchase a copy visit

Monday, August 3, 2020

East of the Sun (& West of the Moon)

Summertime blues
my speciality

                             pasted to a dogeared page of the
            heavy gray sky
                                        w/silver mists retrieved

but who'll push the buttons?
who'll spin the dial?

                      - I fear for this metaphor -

Ono no Komachi
Joanne Kyger
Art Pepper & the Hollywood All-Stars

          summoned out of chaos
                       as one would summon their familiars

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Spin Cycle

Anyone's permutations anymore than my own
sleepwalking from Tehuantepec to Kubla Khan
loaded to the springs

Early morning spillover of pearl gray light
wind cold off the water
too greasy to surf Purgatory Point

               The specific gravity of a rainy day
                        charting alternate routes to nowhere

Practicing the old soft shoe as they used to say
old wounds, telepathic radio & paraphernalias
a kool-aid bubble w/a sea scum shine

& all of it riding off into the sunset
behind the wheel of an El Ranchero hand grenade
as the credits roll up into the bruised pink haze
drenched in gasoline
bottled at the source

Monday, June 8, 2020

Bending Like a Spoon to the Flame

On an empty beach
just me & the
bitter angels of my nature

it could have been anywhere
after sunset

but w/pale neon blinking in the mist
so that it was like Chinatown 
under water . . .

         I have stood on the street there w/my
         chow mein & notebook
         as the weather swept up the coast
         from the south
                                driven it would seem
                                by sea creatures
                                         who resemble devatas
                                                     from an ancient sandstone carving
but w/seaweed in their hair
                                         & wearing damp sunglasses
to hide their incendiary eyes
                                         from those like me who would
like to know

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Saturday Matinee

It's springtime now that it's almost summer
not like but is
as a family of trolls
tumbling out of a dirty green Dodge van
folded into the sound of traffic on Mission Street
rush hour

The bright sunlight takes me somewhere else entirely
goatfoot tapdance across the sand gravel path lined with
native grasses, lupin, young thistle

                               to think that the roots bite down
in this hard & rocky soil
                                               & outrageous blossoms burst

               the birds & bees & cigarette trees

                               harmonic diversions

Leaf & petal slice a corner off the sky
                                               a small blue corner
pick it up & take it home
                              another piece of the puzzle

Monday, June 1, 2020

Some Assembly Required

The music was piped in on a
ship-to-shore set-up
bouncing off a satellite east of Arcturus
sending ripples across the estuary
w/sea mist & pearls dipped in sunset
blue yellow red green & turquoise
w/chrome inlay
repeated in the windswept cypress & wet sand
when the tide is almost full

& as if to resume the distances
the weight of California leans on Mexico
just a shade past suspicion
downloading the Dance of the Mollusk & other
psychic disorders on a scale of 1 to 10
last seen carrying a slingshot & a blanket

skip the gutter / shoot the breeze

A voice from on high
but not high enough

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Echo Beach

Dealing in the sub-rhyme
(Word is saving "The Poems"

i.e., the white noise of dueling tambourines
in the kelp grove)

around here this is considered a "lifestyle"

Now I am free to be driven to distraction
in a gleaming sky blue Cadillac El Dorado

Clouds sliding past ruin'd Ilion
somewhere in Baja California
around the corner from Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji

Dog Days (underlined in red) & it's not even June
banging around in the rearview mirror
w/a measly palm tree or two
& those subliminal green waves

endlessly rocking

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Circling the Drain

One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three...
a timing device
(leading w/the middle finger)

The difference is different
trembling as it would be a certainty

Those colored squares & the woman that
holds them there
                                       in the mind
patterns built of patterns

The real biography could be found in the footnotes
"machetes on the mezzanine" comes to mind
pursuant to & not for nothing
exploring every vacant lot from Santa Cruz to Eleusis

I once had thought I'd live out my
final days in Big Sur or Bolinas
a one-room shack filled w/books, empty
picture frames & a wood stove

but my final days are now
& always have been

Saturday, May 9, 2020

The Next to Last Tango

The first part opens w/a simple melodic phrase
establishing a theme elaborated upon in the second section
the third part is a duet for clarinet & fuel pump
while the fourth & final section 
takes us on a detour thru a wind tunnel
begging indulgence
                                        without vows or refuge

                    LOVE TRIUMPHANT

                    a roll of the dice

                           such as would secretly engender
                                     a tender sense of desperation

H e a r t  &  S o u l
A silver spoon (blue w/rust), dengue fever, & the legendary
paradox that left you untethered somewhere in the vicinity of the
lesser Antilles

          clouds rearranging themselves 
          in anticipation of the next million dollar idea
                    dimension evoking divinity in hindsight
                              heaven for those who watusi in their sleep

& even if my heart's a boomerang w/yr name on it
I'm pledging my time & fancy footwork

Friday, May 1, 2020

We Were There (Weren't We?)

The notion of knowing. Anything.
Non-negotiable. When the safest thing to do is hide.
Just in case separation was a cure.

I'm just saying.

          The clouds broke apart & the sunlight
                    tilted her halo at a rakish angle.
          She had taught the fish how to swim.
                    Grey whales & the odd crustacean in attendance.

I was probably riding in Bob Witte's Datsun at the time.
          A case of Pabst Blue Ribbon in the back seat.
                    A bag of Thai sticks in the front.

I kept my eyes behind dark glasses
in the vague hope that it would induce invisibility.

It seemed logical to assume
                                                      but logic often eluded me then
as it does now
                             which is how I got here.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Latitude & Lostitude

A dragonfly drops into the yard
lands on the rock rose
asks "Did you hear about Lewis?"

"All rivers flow into the sea" etc, but
then what?
                      An exercise in planned obsolescence
falling thru the trap-door in a shopping cart
abandoned beneath the 4th Street Bridge

Summer Breeze
Foxtail grass, the songs of dead poets,
& that Chevy El Camino wrapped in caution tape
parked outside the bait shop

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Air the Color of Wind

for Leweye

"Whether we are free enough
                                     to say good-bye"
is what I'm hearing
                    a voice with a hint of Texas in it

& the soft rustling of reeds at the river's edge
just a breath away from here

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Lewis MacAdams, 1944-2020

Rest easy my brother.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Tone Deaf

Rocking the phraseology of April
a type of currency

         snare drums & Ave Marias

                  except she meant every word of it

& like crossing the bridge between
summer rain & revelation
"There's more where that came from"

where it went

The clouds over Four Mile Beach
resembling ancient Chinese poems

         & why not the singing telegram
                  & whatever was spray-painted
                           on the overpass

Thursday, April 9, 2020

The Square Root of Ground Zero

In the transparent & possibly forgettable confluence of myth & biology, a quick spark of light or recognition, after the long swim & the engendering, determines the color of yr eyes. The 3 sisters in their dirty white robes kneeling on a blanket throwing dice & keeping score. The numbers written in indelible ink. The construction proceeds according to preset measures along w/the selected variables. Limited options to be sure. An architecture built from the inside out. Proteins & carbons & lots of water. The wiring can be a little tricky.

Images of an ancient Hawaiian cave burial. Dead body placed in a fetal position. Many Native American tribes buried their dead in a fetal position as well, sometimes in a basket or clay urn. We'd like to believe there's a meaning to it all.

Bathed in a golden light he crouches & waits & eventually emerges on a rainy night in February 1956. The place is Saint John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California. Saint John's Hospital was founded by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth in 1942. Saint John the Apostle was the author of the Gospel of John, the 3 Epistles of John, and the Book of Revelations. He was the only one of the 12 Apostles to die of natural causes. Santa Monica was named after Saint Monica, the mother of Saint Augustine. She is the patron of difficult marriages, disappointing children, victims of adultery, & the sacred conversion of relatives.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The Orient Express

Stagelit streets descending
as in Tangier
or Todos Santos
or an Albuquerque by the sea
w/Jesus Christ
(or is it Keith Richards?)
riding across the beach on a crocodile

The salt spray
the stuttering neon archives
& the slow fade
bending harmonicas in the dark
concert hall of the heart

Even if the dance goes sideways
we know the spirit moves
has moved
is moving
though not perhaps as we had at first imagined

I no longer recognize the face that
stares back at me from the bathroom mirror
but that's okay
it's clear that whoever he is he
doesn't recognize me either
though we're both wearing the same Yater t-shirt
w/the blood stain on the left shoulder
as in the Palatine Anthology

Meanwhile the marine layer flattens out
as light & shadow trade places
excavating the protocols of redemption
dropping leadweight epiphanies in the green room
& I'm digging my way to China
w/a plastic spoon

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Shelter in Place

Trying to get as far away
from myself as possible
without leaving the room

Knossos, Chichén Itzá, or Zuma Beach

counter intuitive measures
& the bongo relevance
if only to put the proper
looney tunes spin on it

Polite Society:
They bare their teeth to show they're friendly

Nothing to lose & nowhere to go
but I can't be the last to leave

That doesn't explain anything I hope

The itch in yr sneakers too

Beneath the Panamanian moon

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

ACE of TENTACLES by Kevin Opstedal

The original ACE of TENTACLES manuscript was/is 130+ pages, which I ruthlessly cut down to 22 pages for this chapbook. Nevertheless, it still has a kick to it. Published by Sunnylyn Thibodeaux & Micah Ballard's Auguste Press. 

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Accordion Book w/a Pop-Up Heart

Any moment you could be there listening
or right here not listening
but hearing it all tumble
in one ear & out the other

An unobstructed view

Maybe it was the way the pavement laid down at her feet
the sky not quite as dark as her eyes
& the wind if there was any wind must've been cold

Wake up to find that I'm starring in this movie
a mistake down at central casting
a movie I must watch thru binoculars from the balcony section

What would I remember? The plot twisting
as the music swells, subsides,
dissipates into tinkle bells, sledge-
hammers, bird voices

That kind of carelessness
                              it isn't so easy to master

When I get to Mexico all her broken vows will be mine
our children will understand then & the rain will
step into the street & survey the damage
w/eyes of translucent silver

Friday, February 21, 2020

SELECTED PROSE (2008-2019) by Micah Ballard

Poems in prose clothing like Mardi Gras traveling incognito conjuring San Francisco street scenes through a Cajun filter with mystic Tarot reading kickflips and Southern Baptist backslides while a half-forgotten dream lingers somewhere off-stage fiddling with the dial.

Get yourself a copy today.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

I Heard You Paint Houses

The key to the motel room was a metaphor
rhyming with the allegorical sunglasses

which may be the point of it all

pointing due north

An ounce of nightingale
versus banjos in the eucalyptus

which I took to mean the prototype

& to lay it down then 
         w/a little 2/4 oom-pah beat
                  spinning the wheel of outrageous fortune

                           like taco Tuesday on a Wednesday

but knocked from the karmic loop
         whatever is going to happen
                  like it already has

& all of it leaning up against yr mind
like a bulldozer
leaning against a feather of mist

Sunday, January 5, 2020

HOW I MET JACK BUSWOLD by Stephen Emerson

Here's what the poet Ed Dorn wrote about Stephen Emerson's short stories in 1982: "Steve Emerson notices everything. At the center of his style there is always some detail which, when uncurled, reveals the story in its veins." That statement holds true with Emerson's latest, his first book in over 30 years, How I Met Jack Buswold, a new selection of nine short stories now available from Blue Press. Get yourself a copy today!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

They Call Me Pagliacci but My Real Name is Mr. Earle

All that I no longer am
yet carry w/me
an inheritance left unclaimed

         half buried in the sand
                  half washed away in the tide

w/I suppose Oceanities of misappropriated
                  shadow wings on the waves?

         Only the tender caress of oblivion
                  can take the guesswork out of mercy
                           is another way I could have said it

but if I was talking to you I
wouldn't have to say a thing