Wednesday, April 16, 2014

feedback

Here is my latest collaborative conceptual poem:

Thursday, March 27, 2014

chase scene #16

we’re in the steamfitters hall peeling walmart stickers off hundreds
of copies of the mark of athena. athena will be free, and kids will
love her, and kids will leave her for the sea of monsters, and the
sea of monsters 2. you can’t get away from blue, a little girl tells
me. then here we are—blue—blue rolls the street thru as each april
will. to mess you up a little. a little april pointed at the wrong
people. overproduction. over the rainbow, the luxury of committing
to nothing. blue peels off. liberty motel, liberty gas. liberty thru
and thru.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

chase scene #15

we're surviving, so there's a show. some lines i grow jealous
of. bills flow thru my body, wet day dreams. you can have that
line. make it stroll out the mouth of a fish. see something, say
something. i wasn't expecting to be moved by the zombies, but
i was. the vast pastures of irrelevance. the pervasive motorization
of petty individualisms. their detours of pleasure scribbled in
hurry--those streets await our faith. we can have them. like the
birds. birds are pervs. pervasive motorization, one tweets. one
squawks. one fucks.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

winter

if fast food is public space
stay warm in wendy’s
be a stranger
the stranger the weather the better
the small talk, a little history
a little ancient been-around
and biggie fries
you feel ancient
the ancient’s been around
you just bought a lot of stuff
in a sea of status
so you’re tired
not the end of anything
sit down
be a frosty
and sunny’s the runniest dated feeling as
a wknd should be a long fuck sprawl
into other histories
of meaning it
greed
of love sliding
fingers into
words
you can whisper
whose streets
our streets
whose streets
our streets
the poem
is a glove
you said it
to form is
to empty
the vent’s lashes
are dogs running
what
blue
synechdoche
a stale stranger thaws out
to be wet heart
of city
a pretty girl blinks in
and what commercial makes you cry
and what would a united states of feminism
look like
ask the person next to you
and ignore the super bowl
don’t let it get you down
just stop watching it
stop watching it w/ me
for years and years
or minutes
til your team makes it
then you can cry
and cry
and we will listen

Friday, January 31, 2014

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

chase scene #14

we’re a hammer in the radiator, naming every instant of collective
joy—in person, in person, to make the platform each nothing and
pulsing, a sea of exes on a ship of toothpicks so the music’s a
question to match all the preaching. passenger pigeon to joe jerk-
off: can we just be people. then a quick row of faces—nope, nope,
nope, nope it’s just fall, a hole in the iris like a ten-cent cloud of
witness, and what evidence. transpass, leaf under shoe, wawa gift
card, a “moderate” who tells us to “keep working on that message.”
let’s dump out his coffee! dump that motherfucker already—yes 
him to death, yes him to death!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Amiri Baraka






“The most valuable quality in life,” Amiri Baraka wrote, “is the will to existence, the unconnected zoom, which finally becomes in anyone’s hands whatever part of it he could collect. Like dipping cups of water from the falls. Which is what the artist does. Fools want to dictate what kind of dipper he uses.” That’s from his 1964 essay “Hunting is not those heads on the wall”, in which Baraka challenges the capitalistic worship of artifact over the activity of making art. For Baraka, that making was/is history, wide awake and ceaseless, and you can hear this in his poetry—you hear the making in the made thing. He showed the American poet’s dilemma in clear terms, how the “academic western mind” can shut you down.

9/11 hit when I was 22, and those insane jingo-bush years had me dazed—I couldn’t shake my disbelief over Afghanistan, Iraq, the Patriot Act, Guantanamo, the fools who wanted to dictate everyone’s lives. Because I was ignorant of history myself. When the newspapers started trashing Baraka in 2002 for having written and performed “Somebody Blew Up America”, I got pissed and wrote the Philly Inquirer, argued back and forth with a columnist who couldn’t tell me why her paper was pretending, like the government, that the cause of 9/11 was that terrorists hated our freedom. It felt very personal, that attack on Baraka. I was just waking up, but somehow I already knew you don’t fuck with a poet like Amiri Baraka.

Like many, I first encountered him in the context of a college class on “Postmodern American Poetry”, i.e., mostly white experimental poetry of mid-20th century—a context Baraka wrenched himself from in order to join a revolution, to use poetry as a weapon of revolution. His influence reaches far beyond poetry scenes. Before he went to Cuba in 1960, Baraka had thought of revolution as “one of those inconceivably ‘romantic’ and/or hopeless ideas that we Norteamericanos have been taught since public school to hold up to the cold light of ‘reason.’ That reason being whatever repugnant lie our usurious ‘ruling class’ had paid their journalists to disseminate. The reason that allows that voting, in a country where the parties are exactly the same, can be made to assume the gravity of actual moral engagement” (“Cuba Libre”, 1960). Baraka broke boundaries and sought possibilities for a better human world. Reading or listening to him can spark this sense of possibility.

Here’s the first stanza I ever read by him:

Luxury, then, is a way of
being ignorant, comfortably
An approach to the open market
of least information. Where theories
can thrive, under heavy tarpaulins
without being cracked by ideas.


So then I went to the library, I found The Dead Lecturer. I found Transbluesency. I thought harder about what education’s for, what it’s really for. “Maps/weep/and are mothers and their daughters listening to//music teachers. From heavy beginnings. Plantations,/learning/America, as speech, and a common emptiness. Songs knocking//inside old women’s faces…”

This endless fountain that he's left us with, of poetry that pushes beyond poetry--what to do with it...

Thursday, December 19, 2013

back to the present

if i get to you
on the seniority list
of wasps
in the ass
of the corporate
buddha
don’t blink too fast
at the cats
at the chair hobbling on
its two good piles of
coins
rolled at the knees
hurt back sticking its
thumb out on
the boulevard
it’s the michelin man
it’s 4pm
you are unemployed
finally
let’s delight in being a gross bachelor
write riffs that go nowhere
incredible hulk
eat a dozen donuts
half pumpkin, half who cares
half wave to the primetime commute
bye bye, okayville

Saturday, November 23, 2013

chase scene #12

we’re on record, skipping around in the washington post amazon
buys. the store greeter hawks a poetics. i get her number. what is
love, she says. the answer: heavy possibility, the sag of the feeling
of a time you miss, the balls full of cum—the the-the-the, that’s all.
in other words, monopoly. the year we did not see each other’s
faces. in other words, wrong question. that shit is adjunct, hole of
the essential. like a septa we sunk our life into. that tease of the
page-to-page life. listen, where we left off i was saying don’t play
basketball when i’m talking about heraclitus. but you play basketball.
and i talk about heraclitus. we dribble in the same river twice. the
river is broke and the blackbird is flying. the adjunct, my friend,
is blowing in the wind.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Material Girl

You should read a book called Material Girl by Laura Jaramillo--here's my explanation why.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

chase scene #11

we’re in jingo retard heaven, and you are a cloud, so get in
the car. there is no “becoming.” the poets, handcuffed, police
each other’s authenticity. their world shrinks to a nugget.
bukowski’s tombstone: don’t try. nickels and dimes, the wheels
on the bus, which is us. a halfslave spins off, never just half--
"who you are"--the sources hurt, how the irony fails. if a word’s
a flag just stick it in the ground, walk out the cemetery. don’t
stick it on your car. your car will be towed. it will be towed
by a christian single. what is a christian single?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

poem

             after Maged Zaher

we must be the world’s cop
my dentist tells me
and begins to drill
knowing it’s a poem
one person to a bench
won’t help me look at a face
each line is a flowering
truth under the skin
jesus i’m anxious
something good might happen
in a tradition of arrogant bullshit
your lover’s at least two punching bags
even john ashbery needs a blurb

Friday, September 6, 2013

heart attack

care is the heart of my work
care is the heart of my work
care is the heart of my work
care is the heart of my work
care is the heart of my work
care is the heart of my work
care is the heart of my work
care is the heart of my work
care is the heart of my work
care is the heart of my work
care is the heart of my work
care is the heart of my work
care is the heart of my work
care is the heart of my work

Saturday, August 24, 2013

chase scene #10

we’re in toon town. gag orders pause a judge up the creek
like a FREE sign taped to garbage. your life is whose? the trees
sneeze and cough, we’re all dirty water, minor poets. it’s a
certain kind of person expects to be cleaned up after—every
body, anybody lurching for the jackpot. i hit it, jessica rabbits
hop all over me, make one great jessica rabbit. in her mouth
all weeks leak out thighs for sleep, no wait. rent paid then
monday heaves, shucks hi and this malaise you’ll forget—now,
which could be anything—amargi, sumerian word for freedom,
return to mother, literally. you die, love, whatever, still my
friends are buildings. they fight off despair all the time, all the
time. in their bricks heat of sadness of capitalism, god! fuck it—
to the beaches, the look of beaches in our faces, okay—zero
killed—oceans, oceans, oceans—down to earth, earth, earth—

Monday, August 12, 2013

chase scene #9

we’re in mcglinchey’s, dancing to the juke box, iggy
pop. no dancing, says bartender, but we keep dancing,
the waitress comes over, for real stop dancing or you
gotta leave. it’s the law somehow, but we’re drunk
and we want you, come dance w/ us, please—please be
the girl we used to love way way back, she won’t crack
the slightest smile. i don’t know who i’m even talking to.
is this a poem? a poetry reading? she drags my dead horse
across the bar and says look, who wants this joke. you
think it’s my job to listen to you, it’s not—it’s to serve
you hot dogs while you drink yourself back to the womb—
which is what—you don’t know, and that’s your job—to
find out. i’m not the passenger. i do not ride and ride
and ride.

Monday, August 5, 2013

chase scene #8

we’re sitting in sallie mae’s driveway in delaware, arms locked
singing songs to cops in stupid hats. they won’t let us in the
shareholders’ meeting because we’re not rich and we don’t
believe in fucking people over. our heads get burned up in
the sun but we keep singing to the cops and to ourselves.
then all at once the hundred of us blow our little red whistles
that say SLAP, deafening everything—excruciating, it’s excruci-
ating, the cops are cursing at us, oh shit! i would give you a
trillion dollars to make it stop. i would give you five million
lamborghinis, i would give you 15,000 private jets, i would give
you 140 private islands and every team in baseball one trillion
times. i would give you one trillion decades of war in a country
you’ll never have to see. sallie mae, i would feed you the corpse
of your mother, inch by fucking inch.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

hush money

don’t sue your parents
kobe bryant
don’t make me
make meaning
over you
the burbs you
bounced off
a man’s going
apeshit
under ground
in my face
DON’T SUE YOUR PARENTS
he warns me
exiting the train
the story
the paper
the nba
is not a man
the burbs bounce off
the empty train
suing all your parents
julius irving didn’t
sue his parents
wilt chamberlain didn’t
sue his parents
who sues their fucking
parents
general motors
sues their parents
general motors
sues the balls off
the dead of
summer
a wake of the coulda been
fluid city of trollies and nobody
to sue
in your dreams
in your dreams
of no money

SLOW

NO

WAKE

PLEASE

and the river’s on you
fare hikes
and shitty service
can we listen to another
general motor
we’re surrounded
by pictures of lawyers
i wipe the public
from my eye
whole foods
workers wearing red
tee shirts that say LOVE
they have to
that sucks
four bucks
a pound
peaches
you can suck
on a quarter
for a quarter
of an hour
like a valet parking
for no one
my ass sweats
past south street
bullshit
the big stuff
august
a paycheck sooner
than thought
would open
the plans
the crotch of
saturday
we circle like flies
whole paycheck
on the brain
my tongue is a boardwalk
to dawn
a poet asks
will i lecture
some poor kids
on recycling
no way
no way

Friday, July 12, 2013

chase scene #6

why does your milkman whistle in the morning? because church
is a puddle we piss in together—no debts. no drinkus interruptus.
LA’s gone under, thank god, before new orleans. a toast to the ice
on our tail—chase it til hard work melts the carousel of progress
and we’ll swap spits like grandparents atop new year, stop being
the thing we were thought into. 11:59 pops into 12:00, looks fake
but isn’t. as if you were ever a citizen of anything. be proud of
your friends and the luck between you—call it a country, even, til
you gag on it—because you are a fool, and fools go on.

Friday, June 21, 2013

chase scene #5

we’re in chik-fil-a spiking the sweet tea w/ birth control.
the deep state of coming hard spreads an all caps hush of
southern hospitality. finally i get it. we can barely contain
ourselves. hell dies, who wants coffee? all day the drip in
my step elects the ground i walk on—a joke you can bite
like a peach. see the coins we trust in—those are gods
passed out on the bathroom floor.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

chase scene #4

we’re in a greyhound station in baltimore w/ an hour to kill, staring
at the tv. cnn’s in love w/ the bombing of the boston marathon, and
cnn’s in love w/ 165,000 new jobs created, 165,000 new jobs, yes.
they can’t stop asking what it means. they zoom into their analyst
who’s been staring at the mayor’s face. i can see the mayor’s tears,
he says, the mayor means it. he’ll make a wonderful ronald reagan
some day, just as the last four presidents, just as the president
today who picks up your phone—anybody there? anybody says “my
dumb life” but in the station and on the bus nothing rings and
nobody means a thing, so we’re a tribe. it’s communism, calm as a
yawn til the next city, where we’ll be sucked out and dispersed
by vacuums of identity. finally we board. the man next to me asks
if i can watch his bag. sure i can.

Monday, June 10, 2013

public record

Baseball-Loving Nun Prays For Autographs



"I pray for the person who signs it – or for whomever they want me to pray for," she said. "It’s fun. Anybody can sign it."

Read the full cover story here.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

chase scene #3

we’re in a classroom, which is a store. the professor tells us the true
writer must destroy his own ego. do not tell stories, he says, unless
they are someone else’s. do not say i. i look at the clock and the clock’s
the wind. it says one tongue per king, and that pulls on me like a sad
movie. i just watched five easy pieces w/ my girlfriend, what a bummer.
what a bummer he left her and life up in the air like a dead piano. i’m
sick of the road as the end as if no gas station rots forever round the
bend. one tongue per king, the poem becomes its own thing. so what’s
this? not america, not this professor pulling maps down over the board.
he’s the enemy, which is at least tens of thousands of people. i’m not
looking for the enemy. call on me, call on me. let’s see what happens.

Monday, May 6, 2013

ONandOnScreen

The new issue of ONandOnScreen includes a poem from Valu-Plus paired w/ a video by Cari Freno--read and watch it here.

And then watch more of Cari's videos here.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

chase scene #2

what is marriage, and why do people want it. i mean, i'm open to role-playing.
if you want me to be a girl scout, for example, i'll work for my ambassador
good credit financial literacy badge. i'll close my eyes and open my mouth
and you can tell me what's in it for you. the prophet says, "let there be spaces 
in our togetherness." the prophet sleeps around, and keeps it together, while 
my job chews thru my life and the population explodes.

Friday, April 5, 2013

chase scene #1

we’re in applebee’s, and you have a gun. okay. high art lives, the stomach
is greased. am i talking too matter-of-factly about suicide? there’s a reason
wal-marts and pet-smarts keep popping up all over: it’s hero time, still. your
daughter’s getting sleepy, the bus boy wants to take her home. watch out—
he doesn’t pay taxes, never will. look at him, shredding our right to work.
man this chase scene’s getting elitist fast. let’s slow it down, all right? sure
i’ll read your broke-ass poem for the fourth time. let’s let this place be
paradise before the next round of fires. take off all your clothes, and put
your hands on my head.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

for love

25,000 a year
i’m told be grateful
—to whom?

big hole
in the ground
waiting for you

spirits

“could be worse”

THE PAIN CENTER was demolished
and the sign’s now in dirty frank’s
under the dartboard

the misfits are
the sam cooke
of punk rock
let it get to you

true joke
can’t sleep
for too long

i got 35 hearts
they’re all a bunch
of customers

i want their skulls
piled up in the make-out
booth where a penn kid
is begging for authority

he’s going to be fired
by a girl

your mother in her 20s
who needed no school

where can i pay for this

no

i mean it’s something how
the moon won’t swim ever
into the sewer, just stay stuck
like that
all this time
a nickel in the sky
w/ your past in its ear

i can’t believe what
you say to me


Thursday, March 14, 2013

next big thing

it says NO PASSING THROUGH
but people pass thru
a clothing store opened
in the first unitarian church
for example
so to be people
we could fuck in the dressing room
and be fucking in a frank furness
i mean how easy it is
to be a person
you just gotta
hop trains
pull the covers over
your head
in the morning
like someone hollering
bullshit on the corner
like a trash truck
chewing gum
and if one pops
a question
like where did the idea come from for the book?
and you say what—uh, well, i woke up it was
the city—obligations—birds, birds—strain
of the heart—hiss of the radiator—call on
the phone—people—and their “ideas”—all
the moral baggage—scattered at the door
to the dollar store—how may i help you, etc.

the poem goes on
w/ strain, hiss
and dollar
no wonder
my labor exists
as is
piss on my leg
and tell me it’s raining
the monk's champion socks
are showing
underground
so six more weeks of winter
on this car
holler down the drain
for all the yes bags
who say "middle class"
to get the job
this is your one-sentence synopsis
which leaks
everybody
and i mean EVERYBODY
wants you
to do my dishes

Saturday, February 23, 2013

christening

tired of songs
you show up in a true story
like a fist
the corner needs
& the corner needs
a new stop sign
so the city
which is two hired men
come to change it
& in that bare minute
they retire the old
sign to their truck
a little dog comes along
& takes a quick piss
on the new one
right where it says
ALL WAYS
& trots off


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Furniture Press


Furniture Press, which published my book Old News and will publish Valu-Plus, is having a subscription drive right now to help raise funds for a big reading tour in the fall, so if you like good books and you've got some dough, consider spending some here.

To hear what some of these poets sound like, check out this recording from last summer at Penn Book Center in Philly.

Friday, February 1, 2013

pep bowl

the pope’s toilet was
the movie i was trying
to think of after
the bowling league girl
from northeast philly
told us her plans for
bolivia in dirty frank’s
and how to fix a broken
relationship
like the one
we were talking about
just loud enough
to be all ears
215-952-BOWL
her tee shirt said
i remember that
and lincoln high school
where oh yeah my mother
went there too
just a few
years after sylvester
stallone dropped out
because i guess he had
better places to be
like the pope
in the movie
who broke a whole
town’s heart
by not showing up
in a true story


                 for ian davisson