Month: January 2014

Prose Poetry by Matthew Kirshman

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Prose Poetry 

by

Matthew Kirshman

 

Jaguar and the Joking Tree

All of nature is a giving and receiving of signs.  The air around the body collects in mosaic fraternity.  A wee worm wriggles its way up and gets lost in the Alien World of Creation (AWC).  Before the first recorded dream, before the soothsayer and tribe, in the heart of the jungle stood a hard, dark tree, beneath whose limbs crouched a sharp-toothed Thing (T).  With infrared KillerVision®, it spied two figures approach, interlopers in the Garden of God’s Astounding Desire (GGAD).  Try and hide.  The jaguar’s first slice is fine and light.  With no warning, you are TradeMarxed© completely.

 

Folk Legend

I photographed them get into the car.  Have you read my “Manhunt of the Year” (Life May, 1977)?   How about that close-call with the law, which might have ended it all?  Their escape was a travesty, bought by suitcases of cash from the Narcotics Agency.  How ironic, the shootout took place at the Ford Pharmacy.  They entered Cincinnati on page 96.  With a trunk full of gelatinous explosive, they headed to the Flamingo Motel.  From there they followed a well-established strategy.  Do you think they looked like newlyweds?  I find it difficult to credit.  I tailed the Jaguar to Chicago, where a cult following had sprung up overnight.  To the journalistic eye, their pop-appeal was transparent:  the lore of outlaw lovers, with sirens closing in.

 

Mysticism and Meat

Ideally, you are devoured in your prime by medicine men and not as junk-meat for the communal pot.  With the breakdown of tissue, the cells issue a mortal cry.  Around the Cook’s Bible chimes a chorus of sous chefs.  The page emits a campfire glow from which a cannibal emerges.  What’s missing?  Pretty soon, your arms and legs—seared and smoked until dripping from bone.  In the aftermath of prayer, when chords rise from the planet, you make the rounds of the soothsayer’s intestine. 

 

The Hungry Python

All of life the python seeks to know.  He slips through the flea-market with a clinging stomach, catching in his glittery eye items from the old world:  sheet-music, tunic, ice-cream scoop, top hat.  To touch these with quiet flicks of the tongue.  At the sound of thunder, the merchants start to pack, placing wares hurriedly in boxes and covering these with plastic sheets. 

 

 

Bio: I live in Seattle, Washington with my wife and two daughters.  I am an English teacher, but before that have had a varied career–telephone repairman, bartender, and cook, to name a few.  Writing since the early 1980s, my publication credits include: Charter Oak Poets, Dirigible: Journal of Language Arts, Helix, Indefinite Space, Key Satch(el), Mad Hatters’ Review, Phoebe: The George Mason Review, posthumous papers (NothingNew Press), Vangarde Magazine, Xenarts.com, and Z-Composition.

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Poetic Statement by Mark Lamoureux

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Poetics

Poetics is a tricky subject.  It seems to start as many fights as religion, albeit less violent ones with a few exceptions.  Likewise, it is about as empirically provable as religion is.  What is poetry?  What is god?  Do either really exist?  God and poetry have been declared dead about as many times, yet books & magazines & churches & temples still exist.  I prefer books & magazines to churches, so that is all I will say about god.  People like to complain that there is something wrong with contemporary poetry.  Most of them haven’t read much contemporary poetry.  Our poetry needs to change, they say, in order to be of greater interest to society, when what really needs to happen is that society needs to change to be of greater interest to poetry.  Society runs screaming from poetry & complains that poetry is getting too far away.  Poetry that gives chase winds up out of breath & stranded in a strange town where Justin Bieber glows on flat screen televisions & everyone is famous.  We need to let society run spastically into the CGI sunset & leave us alone with poetry.  Wasn’t this what we wanted all along?  That, I suppose, is my poetics.

 

Everything you need to know about poetry is written on air.  This statement will make many people furious.  Therefore, it is poetic.

 

* * *

To put it another way, poetry is a manner of speaking that differs from speech, which isn’t to say that it doesn’t say anything.  Of course it says something, or it wouldn’t exist.  Some will say that contemporary poetry means nothing.  This is impossible since words do nothing but mean; they are meanings in & of themselves.  To say poetry can mean nothing is like saying abstract painting is invisible.  If it were possible for a poem to mean nothing, it would be the greatest poem of all time. In Shavasana in yoga the mind tries to empty itself of itself, but this is mostly impossible; the mind attempts to extinguish itself in a crackle of memories and images, disjointed from each other and not particularly attached to anything—a kind of static that is as close as we can come to emptiness—never necessarily empty, but as divorced from ordinary thinking as we can be & still be alive.  Poetry functions like this as well; even poetic narrative leads to emptiness—a state where language is no longer necessary.  Mere language can only ask for a hunk of cheese, but it is all we have.  This doesn’t mean we should not try to get past language, to outgrow it.  That is what poetry is for.  “Shavasana” means “corpse pose;” everyone knows death and poetry are old friends, even the ones who want to run with celebrities.  A yogi(ni) in Shavasana is like a corpse in the same way a poem made of words is like a poem.

 

* * *

 

I like to write next to things: paintings, songs, trees, people, which is not to say that I like to write about them, but they are there nevertheless;  have you ever tried to ignore a tree?  Or a Miró?  The poems here were written next to a bunch of songs that were popular in some clubs in England in the sixties, seventies and eighties.  It is difficult to say how the idea came to me, but nevertheless it came.  I listened to the songs & then wrote the poems; this is about as explicitly as the process can be described.  Post hoc ergo propter hoc would suggest that they aren’t actually related in any way, but fuck logic.  The poems are accompanied by prose pieces talking about the people who wrote the songs because it seemed like the right thing to do.  These pieces do something very different from the poems, so I really consider them to be prose, although they do not sound much like your garden-variety expository writing.  Some might call them prose-poems, but I call them prose &, ultimately, they are my children so I can call them whatever I want.  Like siblings who don’t necessarily get along with each other, they both happen to have the same parent & neither one can deny this.  Most of my projects are very different from each other—the only thing they have in common is me; this is a failing of sorts insofar as the best poems will eventually abandon their authors. I try to let the poems do whatever they want.  Some people might say I am a bad parent, but these peoples’ poems probably grow up to hate them.  Their poems will grow up to become lawyers & accountants.  My poems will probably wind up in jail.  I am so proud of them.

 

 

From It’ll Never Be Over For Me by Mark Lamoureux

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From It’ll Never Be Over For Me

by

Mark Lamoureux

K-JEE

after The Nite-Liters

 

Slinky

descending

a staircase, yellow,

plastic & full

of air.  Something pale

from the automat,

headlong, sidelong into

the wireless future.

The kiss of a suture,

the cinnamon spark

that eats up

the fuse.  What results

is something

that one saw

coming, from the vantage

above the food court,

where the fountain reached,

deaf & dumb

toward the lacquered ceiling.

They fill it

with pennies.  Pennies

for ice cream, pennies

for the long afterlife.

The mute slot like a weeping

snake-eye.  Multiple sixes

to the nines.

It’s not the end

of the world.

Dance dance dance

under the fireflies, under

the seeking planes, crucifixes

dripping antifreeze,

UFO pips, the stupid translucence

of the inside

of the dice.

 

Lucky SEVENTEEN

Morning, noon & The Nite-Liters.  Nothing light about a band of seventeen whose biggest hit would peak at seventeen, heavy numerology.  Brothers & sisters tattooed by trumpets & guitars, some groovy sans-serif.  Not the only good thing besides Kentucky Fried Chicken to come out of Kentucky, quipped the Channel 13 DJ on November 1, 1972 as he proceeded to bungle the dudes’ names while they killed it onstage in matching baby blue sailor suits to an all-black crowd, PBS still segregating acts in ’72, the real deal not much like Sesame Street ,but it sounded cooler at any rate.  Becoming New Birth to summarily die—they had it & lost it all in the Hollywood Haze, hemorrhaging members across the decade, done by ’79—Nite-Lite(r)s out, enter monsters.

 

EARTHQUAKE

after Bobbi Lynn

Lined up behind the dull chrome of the clouds,

the armies of ruin, prepped to drag premises all along

the neglected ground.  Brown dirt the universal principle

of absence, world opened like an orange.   We perturb

its thin skin only.  What waits for us in the alien core,

geoded bubbles harboring air unblemished by the stain

of our being.  What lies below: iguanas the size of dinosaurs,

three-lidded demons or some abhorrent mycelium,

immortal, uninterested in us.  No shaker of earth,

this God—so who to curdle & still the shifting plates

that sleep below our folly?  Fear always what lies

below, but look always there.  You, named to bury

your dead.  Conjugal bed of mind & universe, the union

so poisonous to skin—that bower that calls to us in low

frequencies, whips up the puddle of the oceans.  This life

a mad dash away from Mother’s arms until we are called

home by the booming voice, inexorable but inexplicable,

but we still too young to answer.

 

THE ELUSIVE BOBBI LYNN

You know in life, some people try to make it, some don’t.  Some keep trying, some give up.  I tried to make it & this is my story.  Well I was born just around the corner, about half a block from Opportunity Street.  I lived 18 years of good memories; I’ve had 27 since, every meal to eat.  I met a boy just around the corner about half a block from Opportunity Street.  He had charms at 20 nearly drove me mad, but he stole my love, took everything I had on Opportunity Street.  It seems to me that I could see there must be another way, but some don’t get another chance & I guess I’ll have to stay.  Now a word to all you people, about half a block from Opportunity Street.  Listen to me, if you lived the life you planned to be, just make about face & take a look at me: Opportunity Street.

 

Statement:  These pieces are from a project called It’ll Never Be Over For Me, which is a meditation on the Northern Soul youth culture in the U.K. in the 70s and beyond, whereby the kids formed this kind of cargo cult around obscure African American soul records from Detroit & elsewhere, among other things.  The book takes the form of lyric glosses on the songs themselves coupled with prose investigations of the (often tragic, sometimes privileged, sometimes unknown) lives of the songwriters.