Geoffrey Long
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Days of Poetry and Punk Rock.

I have not been blogging lately. My previous post moaned about not having blogged for a month, and now this post arrives a week later. I've been reading a lot of stuff that I want to get out of my inbox (and my browser windows) and share some thoughts about, and I basically need to make more pots. More on that oddball phrase in a minute, but first up on my to-share list, courtesy of MediaBistro's GalleyCat, is the following interview with poet Eileen Myles, reflecting on the heyday of poetry and punk rock in New York in the 1970s...

That's something I miss - the sense of poetry as dangerous, vibrant, alive, cutting-edge and some basically serious shit. As Myles notes, it made a comeback for a while in the 90s, but I think we've lost it again. I think there's some technical things we could do to seriously shake that up a bit, but that's going to take some more thought.


30|09:18 Ksenia

Welcome back, old friend
Academic, translated
Tell Harry pривет

30|09:17 Noir

The blonde in black leans against the iron railing,
Exhales long and slow, whispering smoke,
A promise formed in the plume,
Tells our man what he needs to know,
What he doesn't want to hear,
And he disappears into the fog
The sound of his departure cleverly masked
By the thunder of the 9:45 Express rumbling through.
The world is blacks and grays with bits of red for emphasis,
Punctuating flowers and lives and femmes fatales,
The drumbeat set by the cocking of revolvers,
A saxophone somewhere, a clarinet in reply.
The timeworn detective shakes his head and grits his teeth,
The corpulent crime boss leans back in his chair and brays laughter,
Two thugs loom up out of the darkness like battleships or tanks,
And the women - oh, the women - lay in the heat and pout.
The ice clatters in the glasses like dice on a table,
The whiskey pours in after like a flood bearing down,
The smoke is either from cigarettes or the early morning fog,
And the screams are sirens or sirens.
What does the city want, demands the mayor -
The city wants its own back tonight, the city wants revenge,
The city wants to be heard, to be seen, to be felt,
The city wants nothing but to be standing tomorrow.

30|09:16 Salem

Air is crisp, sky is gray,
Cups of cocoa as handwarmers,
Friends in tow, leaves are fireworks,
The tall ship in harbor welcoming us to town,
Pumpkin ale at dinnertime, jelly pumpkins for dessert,
The witch is lit up in green neon and the game is on,
The bookstore sells games and movies and awesome,
A wooden book, a store of a million paperbacks,
Don Quixote watches over us as we plan our assault,
Museums and mansions and tours and terrors,
A dozen candy ghosts on sticks haunt us,
Marionettes and masks in shops by the water,
Children in costume run by screaming laughter.

30|09:15 The Next Big Little Thing

Gender is done, racism is done,
Sex and bodily fluids and carnage and the inside out is done,
What is next in art? What is left?
Let us turn inwards, perhaps,
What would it be like if urban sculptors and animators and designers
Moved on to the next bit of the cycle,
Checked the grotesque and shocking off their to-do lists
And turned their playful gaze
To the issues of the renaissance,
After all, isn't that what we need now,
A renaissance or re-enlightenment,
To see us through the great recession?
What would Leonardo Da Vinci have created in Flash?
What would Michelangelo have sculpted in vinyl?
What is the shape of happiness when semen and stains aren't involved?
Skateboards are done, the city is done,
Let us turn for the Next Big Thing to the wilds and the villages,
Let us recognize the beauty in the local hyperlocal,
Let us know what art is being made in a tiny town a hundred miles outside Vienna,
Let us see what is being made a hundred miles from anywhere,
What is being filmed, what is being written,
What is life when the headlines are gone, when the clichés are gone,
What is life beyond the chemical and the Hollywood, the Bollywood,
What is the story of the marriage that isn't driven apart,
What is the good life still good,
What is the love and peace and quietude that isn't small-town racism,
What is the wisdom of the corner store, the bodega, the spa,
These lives that aren't constant clichéd struggle but are in fact still wondrous things,
Life in cars with fast food hamburgers and iPods and conversations,
Late night joes told over hot chocolate at Denny's,
Band practice in the basement or out in the garage,
Dreaming not of fame and fortune but of being right here,
Of being in the music, the story, the art,
Of doing what they're doing and having that be amazing,
Have it be enough, how much is enough,
Is that the glory? Is that the Next Big Little Thing?

30|09:14 Puppetry

Just down the street from the Staatsbibliothek
A group of street performers in black jumpsuits and white facemasks
Are using a full-body puppet made of yellow and orange styrofoam
To deliver a form of exquisite harassment upon a poor tourist
Just trying to determine what exactly it is
That sets a Starbucks in Berlin apart from one in Denver.
The puppet bobs and weaves, waves and thrusts its hips,
Beholden to a strange determinism at the end of long spindly poles
Wielded by the merry pranksters, their identities concealed
And thus rendered safe to act out their frustration
With this invasion of foreign currency, of foreign coffee,
Americans go home, they seem to be thinking,
While the puppet itself thinks I'm sorry, I'm sorry, it's not me.

30|09:13 Henry

Suspenders, stripes, beard,
Convergence or spreadable,
Miss you when you're gone.

30|09:12 Yatta

This wasn't quite what they had in mind.
Towering overhead, brushing skyscrapers aside like nuisances,
Shrieks a hundred-odd storeys of doom, destruction and chaos,
Shooting sparks the size of buses from its gaping plastic maw,
Eyes flashing with bulbs like tiny suns,
The clockwork gears inside its mammoth chest
Grinding and screeching so deafeningly loud
The noise shatters any windows its clacking claws leave intact.
The otaku should be overjoyed, the geeks should be dancing in the streets,
Voltron has come to New York, Ultraman has come to Los Angeles,
The giant robots have finally emerged from the sugary imaginations
Of a billion young couch jockeys and arcade dwellers,
On the scene, large and in charge,
Autobot Decepticon Battletech Mighty Morphin Power Whatever
Ain't so pretty when it's your Grandma's apartment going flying.
Call in the military, can we get Godzilla,
G.I. Joe, He-Man, the Inhumanoids, Chip and Dale's Rescue Rangers,
If these guys are here then it's all up for grabs,
Hell, get Jeff Goldblum with a PowerBook 1400c and a 14.4 modem,
He'll get these alien motherfuckers fixed right up,
Just you wait and see. By sunset this'll all be good as new.

30|09:11 Coffee to the People

COFFEE TO THE PEOPLE, reads the big green letters
Mounted to the beige backdrop above the storefront door,
Its logo a fist gripping a steaming cup,
A caffeinated, subjugated form of rebellion,
And I suppose it's a coincidence that they're Starbucks colors,
That these Haight-Ashbury baristas were here before the Seattle invasion,
I suppose that they'd be furious to read these lines,
But walking in, it's not that different,
The menu is hand-drawn, the wi-fi is available,
Kids are reading Voltaire and writing poetry on computers,
Unobjectionable music is playing over tinny hidden speakers.
I wonder if they'd give me coffee for free,
If I asked for it, if I pled my case,
If I explained my hardship and my right to caffeine,
As a citizen of our shared country, coffee to the people,
A Columbian mother's milk to nourish one and all,
I'd point to the neon sign in the window,
I'd shout the joint's own name back to the tattooed kid behind the counter,
I'd start a rally. I'd instigate a revolt.
Pitchforks and tampers and latte spoons at dawn!
We'll march up and down the street,
We'll recruit the stoner wannabes hitting up the tourists for change,
Promise them twenty bucks and some Doritos in exchange for their support,
We'll rise up and overthrow those who oppress us!
Those who stand between us and our cappucinos!
Coffee to the people, Goddamn it, coffee to the people!
Give us your cold, your sleepy-eyed masses,
Stand aside and let us at those Illy machines,
I pull these shots to be self-evident,
That all mochas are created equal,
That we all have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of jitteriness,
Coffee to the overworked underdrugged and just trying to get by people!

30|09:10 Modernity

In the lobby of the hotel beside the convention center
You stand and seethe, smoke curling from your ears,
White-knuckle grip on the credit card in hand
Which has just been so politely declined.
There are thoughts you think at these moments,
Crazy trainwrecks of credit card fraud, of hacked systems,
Of banks that had collapsed without warning,
Of fat cats in billion-dollar suits blowing your savings
On trillion-dollar toilets and vacations on Mars.
You think to yourself what could have happened,
The money was there last week, yesterday, this morning,
You've been traveling frugally, but did something happen?
Was there a bill you'd paid but forgotten about?
Did you buy a car when you weren't looking?
This is America, this is fear,
This is terror not of Jihad but of grocery bills,
Of unexpected children, of opportunities missed
Due to the chains clapped round your ankles by student loans,
The bill for the American Dream coming due
And despite all your work and glory and degrees
You're still found so, so wanting.
In the end, the truth comes out -
A freeze slapped on your card not for lack of funds
But for lack of locality, a skepticism of travel,
A suspicion of fraud that you find all too understandable,
Cleared up with the help of an operator and a few clicks of a mouse.
If only all of our fears could be assuaged so easily.