Saturday, April 30, 2005


The University, not the country.

Poems read:

"A Captain America Pez Dispenser Floating in Brake Fluid"
"On the Trail of the 'I'm a Little Teapot' Murderer"
"I Was Kissing Your Ass Yesterday, I'm Kissing it Now, and I Can't Wait to Kiss it Tomorrow"
"Love Poem From a Depressed Romantic"
"Ringer" (first time ever read in public)
"It Will Be a Train"

(Photos by MsAPhillips)

Friday, April 29, 2005

Word Up

Thursday evening's reading went incredibly well. Columbia University's Our Word organization hosted a terrific event with several top-notch writers reading from their work in various disciplines.

This, the group's 5th annual reading, was open to grad students from other MFA writing programs in New York City. I, along with Danyel Smith, a superb fiction writer with a seriously impressive resume, represented The New School.

Naturally, I'm hopelessly embarrassed by the various retarded fears that haunted me about this event. Our Word was founded as a group for writers of color at Columbia, though all writers are welcome to join - and read. I could not imagine more welcoming hosts, nor a more receptive audience.

I agonized over which poems to read, but figured out a set list that was only slightly in your face - and contained zero curse words (!). The funny stuff got tons of laughter, the more poignant ones received the appropriate knowing silence.

There are some pics floating about, which I will post later.

Many thanks to Our Word, a tremendous organization!

Thursday, April 28, 2005

8-word poem

If you weren't
So oblivious,
Would you notice?

Our Word Reading Tonight

Thursday April 28, 2005

Our Word Fifth Annual Reading
Room 555 of Lerner Hall
Morningside Heights Campus
Columbia University
7:30 p.m.

Featured readers:
Jennifer Farideh Assef
Victoria Bond
Meredith Broussard
Steve Caratzas
Diana Marie Delgado
Gail M. Dottin
Aisha D. Gayle
Tania James
Mohan Sikka
Danyel Smith
Rhena Tantisunthorn
Kao Kalia Yang

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Creative Thesis final vote tally

Lest I be accused of rigging the election - a routine almost as trendy as languishing in a persistent vegetative state - I present here the final vote count, as tabulated by the accounting firm of Toilette & Douche:

The Incredulity Tour - 3
On Spotless Authority - 2
The Book of Lewd Enlightenment - 2 votes
No Fabulous - 2
Poems About Death Are Really Poems About Love - 1
There is Something to Be Said For Not Saying Something - 1
Where Were You When the Rapture Didn't Happen? - 0
Hell on Earth, Inc. - 0

Thanks to all who voted!


Has hit the road! (Well, the electronic road, anyway.)

I have only minutes ago sent off to my advisor my MFA thesis, complete with cover sheet, 52 poems, and a 22 page critical paper (including endnotes and bibliography).

Many thanks to all who helped me to decide on a title, which is basically the one I started out with, though it was a hard choice to make. (The critical piece was entitled: "Echoes of Haiku in Modern Short Form Poetry" for those keeping score at home.)

This is still all subject to my advisor taking a blowtorch to the thing, but I am cautiously optimistic. And to think, it is done with about nine days to spare!


Another drunk dream—
Taking the bull by the horns:
Billy Dee Williams.


With what frequency
Does one need to consider
Transparent bullshit?

Monday, April 25, 2005

Creative Thesis Title Vote Count

The results from your voting so far:

The Incredulity Tour - 2
On Spotless Authority - 2
Poems About Death Are Really Poems About Love - 1
There is Something to Be Said For Not Saying Something - 1
Where Were You When the Rapture Didn't Happen? - 0
Hell on Earth, Inc. - 0
The Book of Lewd Enlightenment - 2 votes
No Fabulous - 1

In some cases, voters gave more than one choice, so these votes were added to the tallies. The only title that was first on more than one voter's list: On Spotless Authority.

iTuneage - recent baker's dozen

1. "Jennifer Juniper" - Donovan
2. "My Back Pages" - The Byrds
3. "It Ain't Me, Babe" - Duane Eddy plays Dylan
4. "Good Morning Starshine" - Oliver
5. "Lido Shuffle" - Boz Scaggs
6. "Girl" - Beck
7. "These Days" - Nico
8. "Dance Away" - Roxy Music
9. "Powderfinger" - Neil Young
10. "By Your Side" - Sade
11. "When the Whip Comes Down" - The Rolling Stones
12. "Levelland" - James McMurtry
13. "That Summer Feeling" - Jonathan Richman

Sunday, April 24, 2005


No, not the dopey rock song that will forever be associated with Bic lighters, the Confederate flag, and swigging Jack Daniels straight from the bottle. And also not the pro wrestling tag team combo (which, come to think of it, will also forever be associated with Bic lighters, the Confederate flag, and swigging Jack Daniels straight from the bottle). I'm talking about Freebird Books & Goods, a very cool place where I attended an open mic this evening.

The joint is run by an alum of the New School's MFA Writing Program, and is very into the whole independent bookstore routine. They support local authors (as of tonight they are carrying my chapbook, It Will Be a Train), actually have a fairly extensive poetry section, and host all sorts of interesting writing and reading programs. I would love to do more readings there in the future.

It was a tiny crowd, six people in total - including me (though I did manage to sell a chapbook!). It felt more like a workshop than a reading, though there was no critiquing. I read the following poems from my chapbook: "There is Something to Be Said For Not Saying Something," "Poems About Death Are Really Poems About Love," "Death Comes in Flip-Flops," "On the Trail of the 'I'm a Little Teapot' Murderer," and "It Will Be a Train."

It finally occured to me that my poems are fairly death-obsessed. I wonder why I never noticed that before, even though other people have suggested this to me.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Creative Thesis Title Quandary

I have just about completed my MFA thesis, which is comprised of two parts:

1) The critical piece, an examination of the influence of haiku on modern short form poetry (done - awaiting sign-off from my advisor);

2) The creative piece, roughly 50 of my poems arranged in some sort of sensible sequence (not quite done). I will be arranging the order soon, and possibly swapping in a few newer poems to round the thing out.

The dilemma: what to entitle my creative manuscript?

Here are a few ideas running around in the old noggin:

The Incredulity Tour

On Spotless Authority

Poems About Death Are Really Poems About Love

There is Something to Be Said For Not Saying Something

Where Were You When the Rapture Didn't Happen?

Hell on Earth, Inc.

And, of course:

The Book of Lewd Enlightenment


Thursday, April 21, 2005

I say!

I was pointed to this linguistics test by the good Dr. Chingasa. Good, clean, harmless fun - unless you are overly zealous about the region of the U.S. you inhabit, or find people who refer to soda as "pop" ridiculous.

I find the use of terms like "yankee" and "dixie" interesting. Why not just cut right to the chase and employ "dad-blamed city slicker" and "hayseed"? Or "Goodfellas" vs. "Deliverance folk"? The possibilities are endless.

I'm rather (not ruther) surprised to see that I only scored 45% General American English - I would have thought all those years of listening to my Wink Martindale diction tapes would have paid off somewhat more handsomely. Then again he was from Tennessee. Oh well....

I credit my 10% Dixie score to a life-long love of barbecue and the old National Wrestling Alliance (which would later morph into World Championship Wrestling).

Your Linguistic Profile:

45% General American English

45% Yankee

10% Dixie

0% Midwestern

0% Upper Midwestern

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Huckleberry friend:
Never quite got the meaning;
Melody haunts me.


The pond water clears,
Accomodates the diver,
When he prays for faith.


Well now, here’s a man who wants
To get right to it.

A man’s attitude goes some ways toward
How a man’s life will be.

Did you think about what I said and answer
’Cause you truly believe that to be right?

I guess you could be a person who does
Not care about the good life.

Let’s just say I’m drivin’ this buggy—
You fix your attitude and you can ride along with me.

When you see the girl that was shown to you
Earlier today, you will say: “This is the girl.”

* * *

Poem wriiten by appropriating dialogue of the Cowboy from Mulholland Drive.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The New Pope

Is a German named Ratzinger.


Monday, April 18, 2005


Put the map down. Don’t bother to fold it,
That could take hours. Leave the keys, but not
In the ignition—this isn’t your blue-blooded
Father-in-law’s country club. Set them right
On the seat, a gift to the next poor fuck who
Will try to outpace his destiny. And don’t
Slam the Goddamn door, gently close it. No

Need to make a scene, not now. You passed
The point for kicking and screaming some miles
Back. The tank is half full; your fatigue is not
A factor: You ran out of road, that’s all this is.
Bobby Fuller sang “I guess my race is run,”
And he ended up dead from swallowing gasoline.

If you linger long enough you may see them
Come to dismantle the scenery; try to appreciate
The effort that was made for you. As they roll
Up the sod and wheel off the trees, give thanks
To whomever you think could have kept this up
For so long. It wasn’t easy. He/She/It has been
Merciful; funny that you just never realized.

Sunday, April 17, 2005


I sure as
Won't miss


Right and wrong again:
The umbrella needs the rain—
This Zen shit is harsh.


Your redeeming qualities
On a spoon

Reflected in the eye
Of the world’s only decent
Handjob artist

Paraded around
On an escaped cardinal’s

Lifted from a ditch
Like an unsolved

Collected in pairs
& stored sideways
On a ledge

Kept company
In bed with
The body dirt

Near the sheetrock
For the doldrums when
The rain came

Saturday, April 16, 2005

8-word poem

My stolen dentures—
I'd know that
Smile anywhere!

Friday, April 15, 2005


Late to the reading—
I reach for my eyeglasses,
Focus on your face.

Thursday, April 14, 2005


Asked the chaplain
Standing nearby
To close his eyes
If they remained open:

"Take them down
Before they take
My body."

Just before a grimace
And a groan, said:
"It tastes like rubber."

8-word poem

If you think
This is real,
It's not.

8-word poem

Love you,

Frank Sinatra

Says it's

8-word poem

You remind me

Of someone
I hate.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


Random lunacy
Takes the heart to the cleaners:
Light starch, on a hanger.

8-word poem

You go through
Men like a
Bad taco.

* * *

Collaboration with La Bouche Douce.

Haiku Lunch

Met today with the former president of the Haiku Society of America and editor of The Haiku Anthology, one Cor van den Heuvel. We talked about haiku and the related short forms senryu and tanka, as well as things like baseball and Max's Kansas City, over a leisurely lunch of Thai food in the East Village.

Cor is a luminary in the world of haiku, and a true gentleman.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


What Deliverance?
Burt Reynolds: alternative
To a Jon Voight life?


Jitterbug jonesing:
Febrile palpitations steal
Your Mulholland drive.

Monday, April 11, 2005


Riddle, I humbly thank usage
At that moment opportune.

Did he chase airdrop
And at once?

* * *

Both this poem and "Sawfish" (below) were composed entirely with oddball verbiage that accompanied two spam emails I received some time ago. The titles are taken directly from the respective email subject lines. Nuts, hey wot?


Immobility and it must.

Coronary, to whom
Among, to me, to receive.

Telephone, accessible,
Hand so that.


Broken beer bottle,
You great impromptu paintbrush—
Red blood, white sidewalk.


It seemed like life to me—
The joy of traveling
Is worth the loss.
Did you find any more believers?

There goes my salutation;
I’ve seen the pictures.
Legendary shackshakers—
Too far away!

August is out,
I wonder why no June.
Take off for the south side
Of a dank alley that month.

I could white knuckle it
For a couple hours,
If I plan my relapse right.
It could be a real hoot.

Pragmatic like that—
They should have lived so long.
Had a sign that warned:
“Beware the fucking reindeer.”

* * *

Collaboration with MsHellion.


My barbaric tongue
Tells you where to go, how fast.
Where's the empathy?

Sunday, April 10, 2005


Caution Caution
Hard hat required
Rough sex

* * *

In collaboration with Daniel W.K. Lee

Not in strict syllabic haiku form. In the course of my research for a thesis on the virtues of short form poetry, it has become clear that the writing of haiku in Western languages should utilize far fewer syllables that the traditional 17-syllable format of Japanese (owing to differences in pronunciation and various other linguistic nuances, etc.). Indeed, it has been insinuated (gently) by members of the Haiku Society of America that adhering to the 17 syllable form identifies the offending haiku artist as a poser.

3-line/8-word poem

So many things:
Sunset, sundown, etc.
Fed up.

Saturday, April 09, 2005


You never know when it happens, especially when it

The endless guitar solo wouldn't surrender to
Decorum or anything like decency or even gravity.

When things on stage fall, they tend to break

But instant gratification is deplorable regardless
Of the circumstance.

Did you hear what the drummer said when she

Neither did I nor anyone else, sadly.

The solo should never have exceeded my expectation,
And it did, sadly.

Bronzed muscles, on the beach, are non sequitur, sadly.


* * *

Collaboration poem with Steve Roberts (slightly edited).


Brown shoes slick.
Torn between lips that offer llittle to consider
How one should love his own.
Familiar lines, creased skin, telltale lies.
There goes my beautifully estranged autumn,
Whose colors never fade while the wind remains.
Delinquent leaves continue their rush
Toward winter.
Still you accomoddate my memory.
Less is never mine.
Willful hands continue.
The echo calls "Never will I be silenced in this
Split," however these doubts are endless if only
The truth slits imagination like an apple.
You are too kind to belong here now among this
Broken day.

* * *

A collaboration poem with Daniel W.K. Lee.

Friday, April 08, 2005


New School Writing Program presents:

Day Long Intensive Collaboration Class

Matthew Rohrer / Joshua Beckman

Saturday April 9
Noon to 6:00 p.m.

* * *

Looking forward to this immensely. I've studied with Matthew Rohrer in the past, and will be including the work of Joshua Beckman in my thesis on the virtues of short form poetry.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


A man's attitude
Goes some ways toward how
A man's life will be


Grateful, terrified—
So cruel a combination,
Though motivating.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


Dutch courage:
Gravitas of gravity
Knives and royal javelins.

Spitting Devil with
Pantomime poisoning—
Fruity gusto has made him
A ward of the state.

With clueless coldcuts
In retrograde
And skulkers delighting
In chilblains,

The one percenters
Wonder: “Why didn’t any
Of this happen before?”

Monday, April 04, 2005


I enjoyed the Atomic reading last night immensely. It was a great crowd, plentiful for a Sunday evening, and most of the laughs generated by my poems were in all the right places.

Once again, "The Jethro Tull Story" brought the house down. The formula remained intact from the time I read it at Ozzie's: I read the title, great laughter; I read the first two lines of the poem, increasing gales of laughter; I read the final line, uproarious pandemonium.

Why I can't get this poem published is baffling. Perhaps it will only work as a spoken word piece.

Nice to know, though, that people really do have a clue as to who/what Jethro Tull was/is.

Ka-ching: sold three chapbooks!

Sunday, April 03, 2005


Tonight I am one of the featured readers at Cheryl B.'s Atomic Reading Series, at the Lucky 13 Saloon (near 5th Avenue) in Park Slope, Brooklyn. No cover!

I don't know the work of any of the other readers, but have attended a few of these readings in the past, and they always feature interesting artists.

The show starts at 7 p.m., and usually ends at a very civilized hour, considering the whole thing happens on a Sunday evening. See you there!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Another sign of the Apocalypse.

Should the friggin' NHL ever come back from its full season of exile, one change being considered to improve the sport is this abomination:

No, don't run out to LensCrafters to get your eyeglasses adjusted - you are not suffering from eyestrain parallax.

Curved and bulbous weirdness that, while adding 13% more net area to shoot at, would definitely consign the NHL to an even more absurd standing than it currently enjoys. Doesn't this goal design just scream: "extreme sports"?

If these things actually become the standard, I'm outta here.

Hey, the Pope's dead again!

Or so says Yahoo! as of 3:37 p.m.

His condition should be worsening again shortly, if my guess is right.

Dead or Alive?

Did anyone else have this experience?

At around 3 p.m. yesterday afternoon I saw a Yahoo! headline: "Pope is dead." Five minutes later, that headline was replaced with "Pope's condition worsens."


Then, at approximately 7:15 p.m. the counter person at Ozzie's coffee house in Park Slope was apparently quite distraught by a news report right around then indicating that the Pope had just died.

What gives?

One can't help but wonder if he'll lie around in a P.V.S. (persistent vegetative state - my new band's name, by the way) for the next 15 years or so.

Can you imagine the shitstorm that would be ignited if someone tried to pull the plug on his holiness? Forget it!


Reminded me of a gun-metal grey voting booth, that
Made me think of the inertia of civil service, that reminded
Me of getting a marriage license, which inspired
Thoughts of committing suicide, that brought to mind
Prescription pills like the kind I took when I had my wisdom
Teeth pulled by a dentist reminiscent of Josef Mengele,
Who got me thinking about World War II, that had me
Recollecting World Championship Wrestling, and that
Brought Greco-Roman Wrestling to mind, then I remembered
"Ode on a Grecian Urn" and recalled how little I earned
Last year, then I thought about Last Year At Marienbad.
That made me realize how forgetful I have become—
I had forgotten how much I once admired Captain America.

* * *

I debuted this poem at Ozzie's Poetry Night last evening. The reaction was great, with much laughter and interest coming just from the title, and building steadily onward. Comparisons were made to Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ" (!), and a spirited discussion of Last Year at Marienbad was provoked.

Alexandra van de Kamp, who publishes the bilingual (English/Spanish) literary journal Terra Incognita with her husband William Glenn, seems keen on putting the poem in a forthcoming issue. Keep your fingers crossed!

Left: A Captain America Pez Dispenser Floating in Brake Fluid. Right: "Piss Christ" (Serrano, 1989).

Friday, April 01, 2005


Governor weighs in—
Your pardon has been denied.
"Take my shirt off, boss?"


Ringing indictment:
How I failed you in this life.
Better luck next time!

Sorry, can't resist!

Yahoo! headline: "Pope's Condition Worsens."

To which, I: "Now he's really Catholic."


The spitting Devil
Has pantomine poisoning:
Hamlet, do your stuff.


Sometimes a buggy:
Fear drives mine in the fast lane—
Always has and will.