Sunday, January 10, 2016

DENISE LEVERTOV vs. BRUCE LEE


Denise Levertov is buried in Lake View Cemetery in Seattle, Washington.  For this (Soma)tic poetry ritual I would first walk through Volunteer Park which is next to the cemetery, one of the most beautiful urban parks I have ever had the pleasure to visit.  Crows are one of my favorite kinds of people on Earth and there are thousands of them in Seattle living like pigeons do in other cities and several in Volunteer Park knew I would feed them and would follow me from tree to tree until I sat in the grass.  In animal spirit lore the crow represents finding our higher authority, choosing a more enlightened direction for our lives.  After feeding the crows I would take notes for the poem, then close my eyes to listen to the world around me for a little while.

I would then walk into the cemetery, giving myself 27 minutes after passing through the gates to locate the poet Denise Levertov’s headstone.  If I did not find it I would spend an hour in front of the grave where I stood.  Bruce Lee is also buried at Lake View and his dedicated super fans would take the pilgrimage.  Throughout the afternoon young men whipped off their shirts to do marital arts moves in front of the headstone while their girlfriends made videos with their phones, those distinct sounds Bruce Lee made with his voice being imitated, echoing throughout the cemetery.  I am certain I am not the only one to read a Denise Levertov poem aloud with Bruce Lee sound effects as the backup vocals.  I would read, “He himself must be / the key, now, to the next door, / the next terrors of freedom and joy.”

The best rituals are when the unexpected inserts itself.  One day while looking quietly for Levertov there was a young man watching me.  He was dressed in black with thick black eye liner and fingernail polish.  He wanted to know what I was doing, said he had been watching me.  I asked why he was there and he told me he liked to masturbate behind a shrub while watching the half naked young men do karate.  What shrub, I didn’t see a shrub.  He took me to the shrub that was no one where near Bruce Lee, but of course we could hear the super fans making their warrior cries.  We had sex everyday from that point on, and it became part of my ritual and part of my notes for the poem.  When I found Levertov he wanted us to ejaculate on her grave but I vehemently forbade it, stating that we should only consecrate a gravesite if the poet would appreciate a shower of our semen, like Jack Spicer, John Wieners, or some other faggot poet.  I insisted that Levertov needed our tenderness and we kissed instead and held hands while I read the poem “The Broken Sandal” where she says, “Where was I going I can’t go to now, unless hurting? / Where am I standing, if I’m / to stand still now?”  The notes became a poem titled POEM AS STORM NOT AS REFUGE.




Thursday, December 24, 2015

Friday, November 27, 2015

POWER SISSY INTERVENTION #1: Queer Bubbles



I occupied a busy street corner in Asheville, North Carolina to bless children with bubbles that will make them queer.  Not gay and lesbian, but QUEER!  Bubbles of course do not have such powers, bubbles have only the power to be bubbles, and some parents knew that and thought the whole thing was funny and would say, “That’s cool, I will love my children no matter what.”  I took notes for the poem.

But MOST parents were not happy about Queer Bubbles at all, “Ooo bubbles, look at the bubbles sweet heart, look at the pretty bubbles.”  I would blow bubbles for their little hands and say, “These bubbles will assure that your child will grow up to be a healthy, happy, revolutionary Queer who will help rid the world of homophobia, misogyny, racism and other forms of stupidity.”  Parents pulled away nervously saying “Sorry, sorry.”  One mother abruptly yanked her blond son’s hand, “C’mon honey ice cream, ice cream!”  The boy cried, reaching for the bubbles as she refused to look in my direction, pulling him from the queering of the bubbles.  Most parents though just said “Sorry, I’m sorry” as they walked away.  I took notes for the poem.

The fear of queer will not dissolve with sorry, the apology is not acceptable, especially if their children grow up to be queer.  Asheville purports to be a liberal, laid back city, but Queer Bubbles pulled the veil aside for a closer look.  One man said, “Jesus loves you.”  I said, “I don’t think so.”  His face screwed up and he yelled “YES HE DOES!”  Jesus loves the queers, isn’t that nice?  And his angry messenger roams the street to tell us so.  WE MUST INSIST that a redistribution of wealth always include The Love.  How can we be there for one another?  How can we be assured that everyone gets The Love?  Notes from the ritual became a poem.


HALL OF THE DECOMMISSIONED PANTHEON


(Soma)tic Poetry Ritual for the Pulitzer Foundation’s
2014 Exhibit “Art of Its Own Making”

The Mona Lisa was wrapped in fine red satin and sealed in a specially designed wooden box before being transported to the countryside in 1939.  Art in the middle of war needs dedicated stewards to keep it hidden from invaders.  Even with the most trusted well-trained people a museum’s curators and other staff can fall prey to enemy gunfire, poison gas or drone attacks.  You are in the museum alone at night and the staff’s dead bodies are stacked in the basement.  You have a chance to save one piece of art before the looting begins, what do you save?  What are your criteria for choosing which to save, because it’s the most valuable, the most popular, because it’s your favorite, or what?  Take notes.

(Soma)tic poetry rituals provide a window into the creative viability of everything around us, initiating an extreme present.  Documentary notes are not important; in fact the movements we make inside the ritual inform the way the notes come out of us, no need for exacting detail.  Take notes as fast as you can, faster than you can think about what you are writing.  Later type the notes into a single document, print it out then carry it around to extract lines and words to shape your poem.  Approach your chosen work of art, thinking about the safest way to remove it from its mount on the wall or floor.  What tools do you imagine needing?  Stop to take more notes.  You will live with it hidden in your attic or as a lover under the covers next to you.  How will it feel seeing this coveted object each day?  Take notes.

Create a password for your hidden art by first choosing an ancient god or goddess.  What is your favorite home appliance?  Think of the nights you turn them all on to sit and listen in the dark for the most pleasing of the chorus.  Combine the god to the appliance, like Jupiter Egg Beater.  Take notes.  Go into a stall in one of the museum restrooms and write the password onto your naked flesh.  Take notes.  Write it again harder, then harder.  Take more notes.  Walk up to a stranger and say the password.  Just say it.  How do they react?  Take more notes.

(Aphrodite Microwave was my password.  Nicole Eisenman’s painting Breakup at the ICA in Philadelphia was my focus.  How far are the doors from where it hangs?  There is a subway entrance just outside the exit, but what if, and what if, okay, then here we go THIS WAY instead?  The notes became a poem titled “NOW THAT THE PRESENT IS SO ENDANGERED WE CAN STOP WORRYING ABOUT THE FUTURE.”)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

BEE Alliance

MANY THANKS TO TC Tolbert for publishing this 
new (Soma)tic poetry ritual and resulting poem 

PLEASE CLICK HERE
(one of THE BEST THINGS i ever saw in this 
shitty world was a wild horse who never knew
the feel of a buckled saddle on her back)

Friday, October 2, 2015

#123: Bee Alliance



Lavender, roses, dandelions, squash blossoms, honeysuckle, sitting by flowers is where I waited for the bees.  My fingertips to their vibrating furriness, lightly brushing them, giving them some love as they tirelessly work for their queen.  I have been greeting not denying my gray hairs, my wrinkling, loosening skin of my half-century vehicle of flesh.  Dear Fred, I am forever seeking the strength to deserve poetry and if I do not have it some mornings I pretend I have it until I believe I have it and then I have it.  I took notes for the poem.

I pressed the tip of my tongue to the back of a large bumblebee and fell into the grass with eyes closed to savor the taste.  Blotches on my skin, waning sperm count, weakening eye sight, looking in the mirror, “I am made of billions of cells and we are now half way (or more than half way) through the magic of being alive together.  We will leave this world while living by the strength of poems.”  There is a mirror, flowers to smell, bees to pet and taste, and more notes for the poem.

Dear Fred, sometimes trees clear as I drive along rivers and I glimpse the veins of our planet pouring over boulders with green scum and fish.  Anne Boyer taught me the Latin for “learn to die” and I shout to the water “DISCITE MORI!  DISCITE MORI!”  Bloodletting rivers of us cavort downhill in a world of distraction.  Behind a Frito Lay truck, imagining the delicious Frito corn chips in boxes and crates as I pass him on the left to catch his beautiful smile.

Dear Fred, sometimes the bees out here taste like an insecticide a poet wrote the advertising jingle for.  Taking notes for a poem, aging each second.  Horses and new colts race past a patch of wild violets I found on a clump of sun-warmed earth.  This is when I found a hive.  I could hear them at first.  They must have known I was completely at ease, landing on my eyebrows and toes, dancing, but no stings.  My final goal was to have sex near a hive but my boyfriend Rich backed out at the last minute.  I placed an add, “Queer seeks man for sex next to beehive.”  Some responders said they would have sex with me in the woods, but minus the beehive, and one said I sounded weird and he had to meet me.  So I was on my own, masturbating next to the purring honeycomb. They were curious of my activity dancing on my shoulders and thighs, but no stings.  It took me five decades to have sex with bees.  That’s too long to wait.  My notes became a poem about horses titled “Bug I Love You.”

Monday, July 6, 2015

(Soma)tic Ritual Collaborations



We poets have been the ugly cousins of the arts for years, painters asking us to write poems serenading their paintings.   Collaboration can mean creating together, but it can also mean being a traitor and working with the enemy.  Let us honor the first of these definitions.

(Soma)tic Rituals can fuse with any artistic discipline.  For instance, the poet creates half the ritual, the painter the other half.  The two halves are then combined to make one ritual we both perform together to write and paint.  I have created (Soma)tic rituals to collaborate with such artists as Candice Lin, Yuh-Shioh Wong, Jonas Slonacker, and others.

Here is an example.  The poet and the painter deposit letters for one another inside newspaper boxes on opposite sides of a street.  We wave to one another then begin reading the letters, which explain the ways we would like to die.  Found in the morning on the floor of a boat after being impaled in the chest by a swordfish while night fishing.  Or fragment of my bloody shirt found after having sex with lions.  We read our letters then begin writing or painting in view of each other. 

An hour later we meet in the middle of the street to embrace and dance the Foxtrot with the painter leading, then switching with the poet leading.  We return to write and paint within view of one another.  The experiential collaboration of (Soma)tic Rituals has infinite possibilities and there is no reason for poets to ever again subjugate ourselves to other artists.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Felix Bernstein interviewed me for The New Museum on Speculative art and praxis

What’s death and destruction got to do with your art?

“From Whitman to WalMart” is a new poem I am writing where I start at Whitman’s doorstep viewing him as head cheerleader of empire with his essays calling African Americans “baboons” and his poem for the western pioneers written during the great extermination of Native Americans.  80% of WalMart stores allow sleeping overnight in their parking lots, which I do, meeting homeless families stretching across America, the true results of Whitman’s love of Manifest Destiny.  I show Whitman’s writing as the original TV commercial hiding the true body of unbridled greed that continues to destroy everyone and everything in its path.  I refer to myself as an intestinal expatriate poet.

“Resurrect Extinct Vibration” is another new poem.  In this one I saturate myself with field recordings of recently extinct birds and animals while taking long naps on the earth across America.  I begin writing as soon as I wake, but in the sleeping I return the vibrations of these creatures to my cells, viewing a degraded ecology as vibrational absence along with its poisoned air, water and soil.  In September 2014 the World Wildlife Fund’s biennial “planet index report” claims 52% of wild animals have vanished in the past three decades.  I am accepting and recording the sixth mass extinction currently underway.

Since 2006 I have stopped cutting my hair as both a reminder that my nation is at war and to use as a measuring device for the latest body count for a long poem now over 3,000 pages long.  We are currently bombing six nations simultaneously where we were bombing two when I started.  

To directly answer your question: everything.  I am a queer American who had a boyfriend I loved but someone bound, gagged, tortured and raped him, then covered him in gasoline and burned him to death.  His name was Mark.  He changed his name to Earth.  He was beautiful.  Do not forget this.  The artist Jason Dodge published my serial poem about this that you can read to not forget at fivehundredplaces.com


What’s philosophy got to do with your art?

Well I believe poetry is strong enough.  The power of poetry has not failed me like it has failed some poets in recent decades who hoist philosophy to buttress the poem.  It feels misogynistic in a way, like poetry is too feminine, too weak, needs a man’s ideas to move forward.  Love philosophy -- go ahead, I’m not an anti-intellectual I simply don’t need it to make poetry appear more vigorous.

Sigmund Freud said, “Everywhere I go I find a poet has been there before me.”  Not philosopher, but poet.  And you can have whatever feelings you want about Freud but no one can disagree that he changed how we view the landscape of human emotion and the origins of feeling.  “Everywhere I go” is bold.  It’s direct and from a man who was as careful with his words as a poet.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

#121: MY FAGGOT KANSAS BLOOD CONFESSIONS TO THE EARTH

In a Kansas field I spent several hours burying my feet in the soil while listening to the insects, birds and cars on the highway beyond the trees.  I was born January 1st 1966 at the 838th Tactical Hospital, Forbes Air Force Base of Topeka Kansas.  My mother said the doctor held me by my ankles and announced, “ANOTHER FINE SOLDIER FOR JESUS!”  And I say FUCK YOU to those first words said to me!  My mother ate food grown on this land when I was inside her; we drank from the same aquifer, the sky was as big as it is today.  I took notes for the poem. I dug a hole and deposited shit, piss, vomit, blood, phlegm, hair, skin, fingernails, semen and tears, and in that order. I apologized for being alive.

I apologized for the animals I shot and killed to prove I could provide dinner.  I apologized for having no answers on how to stop the hyper-militarized police on the streets of America while the US military is on the streets of Arab nations. I apologized for paying taxes that purchase the bullets, bombs and drones.  I am a citizen of the United States my nation is guilty of war crimes.  I apologized for not convincing my queer sisters and brothers that repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was only putting a sympathetic face on a multi-trillion dollar military industrial complex.  I apologized for not finding a way to protect Chelsea Manning.  I apologized for not preventing my boyfriend Mark from moving to Tennessee where his murderers awaited.  I am a citizen of the United States my nation is guilty of hate crimes.  I apologized for many things for a long while then covered the hole with my offerings and took more notes for my poem.





MY DIARY IS UP FOR AUCTION
AT THIS LINK (a RADAR fundraiser)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

SLEEPING AT WalMart

A few people have written to me about my “From Whitman to WalMart” (Soma)tic poetry ritual I am currently doing.
Part of the ritual involves sleeping in my car in WalMart parking lots.
Some poets have written saying they also want to do this.
Please let me share some information with you.

80% of WalMarts allow parking to sleep, but make sure you are parking in one of the 80% that allows this.

Always sleep in the drivers seat.

Always have the windows all the way up.

Always have keys in the ignition READY to go.

Please ALWAYS park so you have a straight shot out of there, and please don’t ever park so that you
need to back out.

I made the mistake of parking at a WalMart among the 20% that doesn’t allow parking to sleep and I woke to find a group of men (I don’t know if it was five or six of them) around the car looking in the window at 3 in the morning. 
One of them had either a baseball bat or 2X4. 
But in just a second I pulled myself forward with the steering wheel, turned the ignition and floored the gas to get out of there.

Close calls are part of living on the road and should be expected.
Please consider my advice because you never know…
Also it is important to have conversations with the other people parking to sleep because most tend to want to talk, especially the homeless.
The retired folks parking their campers and RVs seem less interested in talking, but the homeless, especially the homeless families want to talk because they share information with one another about how to survive out there.

For the better part of 1970 my mother and I lived in our car.
I keep trying to think if it was easier then or now and my conclusion is that it’s a little of both for both.
If you get a WalMart that allows sleeping you are safe so far in my experience.
In 1970 my job was to take care of the can opener.
The can opener was a valuable tool back then but not so much for my life today.
Restrooms are much nicer today of course.
In 1970 gas station bathrooms had a kind of abrasive, toxic powdered soap that came out of a dispenser and it seemed to take a lot of water to remove the oily film it left on your body.
There were far less cars back then and it seemed easier to sleep in out of the way locations.

My one cousin in the army is giving me a camouflage net to throw over my car so I can park off-road and this is not ideal of course, but might be useful.

I hate to make this JUST about survival because it is a beautiful thing to be living on the road, meeting new people, stretching across the belly of the planet.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

New (Soma)tic poetry book

MANY THANKS to artist Jason Dodge
for publishing my new book 
DETAILS AT THIS LINK
poems I wrote about my
boyfriend Earth's (aka Mark's)
murder in Tennessee
R.I.P. dear man


Monday, February 2, 2015

#120: SUPERBOWL BASEBALL


I went to a sports bar during SUPERBOWL SUNDAY wearing a Phillies baseball cap and ordered vodka with orange juice.  Every once in awhile I would raise a fist and yell “GO PHILLIES!”  At first people around my table murmured.  Then I was told to shut up while taking my notes for the poem.  I was waiting for the person in the room who would confront me and I finally found him.  AG = Angry Man:


ME:  WOO HOO PHILLIES GO PHILLIES GO GO GO!!

AG:  HEY BUDDY WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU IT’S THE SUPERBOWL!!

ME:  YEAH MAN I KNOW, WOO HOO HOO HOOOOO GO PHILLIES!!

AG:  DUDE ARE YOU FUCKING HIGH!? 

ME:  What?  HEY MAN this is PHILADELPHIA YOU CAN’T DISS THE PHILLIES WHEN YOU’RE IN PHILADELPHIA!!

AG:  I ROOT FOR THE PHILLIES WHEN IT’S BASEBALL SEASON DUDE!!

ME:  WhaaaaaaatEVERRRRRRRRRR!!

Some of the others had been waiting for the brave man to confront me so they could be louder with their condemnation.  THESE were the men I wanted to look at, the weak ones, the bottom feeders who need someone with more nerve to step forward and speak for them before they open their mouths.  A brave man has never once frightened me.  Weak men are the danger, always seeking ways to hide their cowardice at the expense of others.  And there they were, all around me, and it was just like old times.  I held out my hand to the brave man and thanked him.  “YOU’RE THANKING ME!?”  “Yeah, thank you.”  He shook his head, “Okay man.”  I took more notes and my notes became a poem.