My buddy Bobby Fisher just wrote a blog for our friend and anti-hero, the abstract expressionist Tim Tatman. When Tim died last year he left a vacuum in the art world. I dated Tim when I was young and stupid. He was the Sartre to my de Beauvoir, the Miller to my Nin. Here's a poem I wrote about him titled after a painting he gave me called:
How the Mind Works
1)The quantity of nerve cells
in the brain is in direct relation to need.
sea nettle jellyfish spends
on the purchase of nerve cells for his brain.
is bell-shaped and bold beauty
to passive prey.
2)To hunt active prey you need
more nerve cells.
warmth of leaves.
brain weighs data
trigger the oozing of juice
a hapless earthworm,
is dissolved and consumed.
3)Social animals have larger
weeks before death
honeybee is set free
currying combs, setting wax.
Now a forager
fluffs food from purple coneflowers
a flower diary.
at the precise moment
petals open for penetration.
4)Survival depends on our
ability to learn.
last boyfriend painted large canvasses.
come to bed smelling
he’d aroused me
return to his paints.
the henna of daybreak
consider my naked form,
moon breasts, burnt sienna hair
with the wet oil of color.
noticed the hair in a painting
red, yellow, cerulean,
eyes chartreuse, with teacup breasts,
5)To kill a scorpion you crack
its husk. Once you figure this
out, you’ve mastered the technique for life.
Days and Nights Festival and (((folkYEAH!))) Present
Philip Glass, Joanna Newsom and Tim Fain
The Warfield Theatre
Monday, June 25, 2012
There are stories to be told without
words, and lyrics that yet unfold in the
hollow corner of your heart, a space you
did not know existed until the bird of song
unfolded her wings there. And you felt
a truth in this wind created by this beat
of wings, this beat. Philip Glass, Joanna
Newsom and Tim Fain weave such musical
stories. Through their music something
rare and beautiful emerges. Emily
Dickinson said hope is a thing with feathers.
What these amazing bards will leave
you with tonight is not so much hope, but
a passage wherein you can find the way to
your own personal truth. This is a mythic
musical journey you are about to embark
upon. Enjoy the ride, it’s a magic carpet
you tread upon.
Maria Garcia Teutsch
Henry Miller Memorial Library
"Music is the can opener of the soul."
wherein Mike Scutari once again outdoes himself with his verbal repartee. This event promises to be epic. Will post pictures. Will listen to the entire soundtrack to L.A. Woman while driving down there. Will pass the ocean: sea oats, otters, pelicans, Monterey Cypress; then farmland: lettuce, lettuce, grapes, grapes, tumbleweeds; then climb the Grapevine, look at houses perched on hill tops, and finally arrive.
Both have thematic links to my limited edition chapbook featured above, available only at my readings or through the Henry Miller Memorial Library: www.henrymiller.org
all proceeds go to the fundraising campaign for the Library.
For music lovers everywhere there is a special music edition of poetrycrush
This music edition features essays by the best writers around on: Tracy Chapman, Joni Mitchell, Cass McCombs, Will Oldham-aka-Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Pixies, Cowboy Junkies, The Mountain Goats, Joanna Newsom, Nina Simone, Leonard Cohen, Tori Amos and Martha Wainwright. It's a who's who: check it: www.poetrycrush.com
Below is my contribution to poetrycrush's music issue on guess who? That's right, Radiohead.
Many people whose opinion I admire say that Radiohead’s lyrics are
weak. Not so, mon frère. Radiohead is composed of mad genius poets.
Their lyrics do stand up on the page, though admittedly an entirely new
form of language is created when joined with their music and Thom’s
warbling. I chose “Idioteque” at random knowing I wanted something off
of Kid A. There is an homage to the Dadaist poet Tristan Tzara on this
album, and the band has admitted to using his method of cutting up
lyrics and arranging the songs by drawing words out of a hat. As a poet
and editor, I find this immensely satisfying. There is even a made up
word in “Idioteque:” skwrking, at least in the lyrics I’ve found.
“Idioteque” is a timeless piece that encompasses the destructive
force of wars, both past and present, and looks toward a future desolate
landscape wrought by our need to consume unabated. The repetition of
“women and children first” reminds me of piling into lifeboats, like on
the Titanic. For me, “Idioteque” embodies the breakdown of reason
inherent in any war, or in anyone who holds a gun and shoots it at
another living being.
Who’s in bunker, who’s in bunker? Women and children first Women and children first Women and children I’ll laugh until my head comes off I swallow till I burst Until I burst Until I.. Who’s in bunker, who’s in bunker I’ve seen too much I haven’t seen enough You haven’t seen enough I’ll laugh until my head comes off Women and children first And children first And children.. Here I’m allowed, everything all of the time Here I’m allowed, everything all of the time Ice age coming, ice age coming Let me hear both sides Let me hear both sides Let me hear both.. Ice age coming, ice age coming Throw me in the fire Throw me in the fire Throw me in the.. We’re not scaremongering This is really happening, happening We’re not scaremongering This is really happening, happening Mobiles working Mobiles chirping Take the money and run Take the money and run Take the money.. Here I’m allowed, everything all of the time Background: (The first of the children)
I’d like to introduce you to the collection, Talking Doll, by J. Hope Stein, published by Dancing Girl Press. What Ms. Stein has wrought here is Genesis and the Big Bang birthing a corporate reality where everything and nothing is co-opted.
In the beginning there is “The Inventor’s Last Breath,” inspired by Thomas Alva Edison, but taken inward to that space in our lizard brains where we are all inventors:
Ladies & Gentlemen The body
is the soul’s model T
A factory of microscopic men tug the diaphragm We breathe
into stomach not chest Ladies & Gentlemen
these are the principles that guide the machine
you see before you The Inventor’s final secret
found by the great-great-granddaughter
of the mistress of the Inventor
Ladies & Gentleman if
we were to voluntarily stop breathing we would
lose consciousness and the tiny men would take over
The final stanza in this poem tells us: “The story of a man/can be told in a single breath,” how true. This first poem serves as a Greek chorus for the rest of the collection. The inventor says let there be light and “names his disciples: The Insomniacs.” The inventor “births the Talking Doll.” The inventor here gives form to every dream you ever believed to be true. The secret every girl throughout centuries knows for sure is that dolls have always been able to talk. Ms. Stein guides us through the depths of our very stem cells of what we love and hold dear. It is the inventor who keeps us firmly rooted in reality and says, “the motivation/for evolution is dollars & problems—“ There is a masculine philosophy counterbalanced by the perceived feminine. In the “Invention of Light Bulbs, Hand Massage 1890” the feminine is made manifest:
She rubs the factory from his palms
salutes each finger like an admiral—
Removes the ring
and begins on the bark of his hands.
It feels good to him when it’s off
& she makes putty
from elbow to finger.
She slips the ring back on. (It feels good to him
when it’s on) & how he finds himself by daylight.
In “Boneless Squab & Virginia Ham” we return to the world of men, and the dichotomous tightrope walk of this collection: science versus the natural world. Where men create and destroy and women “see inside your bones.” There is a Franny and Zooey moment when the inventor says: “when I drink milk I get God he says./My legs throb and sell. GOUT not GOD.”But there is no Buddhist moment of Aha! Here, there is a man complaining, not seeking enlightenment, but rather a wish to command enlightenment. The inventor is not seeking god, the inventor believes he is god. In the poem “John D. Rockefeller & Charles Schwab,” Orville Wright enters the narrative and “whittles his wood by the paw/makes true monument & insult to gravity.” These men seek to conquer life in an attempt to conquer death, but the maleness stays the same, the need to conquer is inherent.
Finally, there is much to admire in the construction of the collection, Talking Doll. There is a precision of language and word choice that is at once anthem and chant as exemplified in the poem “Starfish and Pinheads:”
Man is microscopic starfish.
When man dies, the starfish move on,
swarm with new starfish to become
cat or asparagus.
The collection ends with the poem “The Inventor’s Last Breath 2,” and this bit of wisdom: “all there is/to know about a man is in his breath.”
This collection reminds us that between the inhale and the exhale there are galaxies upon galaxies of potential within each one of us, to create, to destroy or to do both.