Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Nghiên cứu văn hoá: and a response

In order to admit that I found this myself, I would have to admit that I look myself up on the WEB. Well, I am not willing to admit that. In spite of this, the following website has come to my attention:


And there I am. I recognize the (old) poem of mine because there are very few poems that I have ever written that have "Arthur Miller" and "Marilyn Monroe" not to mention “chẳng có gì cả" In them. And here is where I need your help:

What the hell is this, anyway? And who is it, and why do they love me, or hate me? I know what you are thinking. “Chẳng có gì cả.”

My sentiments exactly.

Still, I am not admitting to anything.

Please, somebody, help me!


Hello Friends,

But especially my friend "Dan." This friend–this "Dan" if you will–has exercised his lingo savvy know-how and kindly responded to my query regarding the mystery of Nghiên cứu văn hoá. Here is what my good friend, my "Dan", has said:

"Chẳng có gì cả" means "nothing" in Vietnamese. "Nghiên cứu văn hoá" means "cultural studies." Your poem "Cultural Studies" was translated into Vietnamese by Lê Liễu Chi. Mr. Lê appears to be a Vietnamese poet and translator living in Australia. The guys at TIỀN VỆ are trying to establish some kind of pan-media Vietnamese arts center in the Vietnamese diaspora. I think they put out Việt magazine as well, although I think it's only online now. If it is any comfort, no one seems to express any love nor any hate for you. The interest seems to be respecting your musings on poetry in popular culture.
Cultural Studies

there comes a time in which, no matter how important poetry may be, it seems more important to go out and buy throw pillows. sometimes it even seems more important to watch television, although you could argue that poetry is more necessary, but in order to write it, television must be watched. that's possible.

"what's on tonight?" "nothing." well; it doesn't matter; it's still important. more important than poetry? no; the two cannot be separated, one might say, however, one might also say, if it is a particularly important day, or program, then yes, it is. if it isn't, or doesn't. I suppose it also depends on the poem.

of course, if there is a poet on television, reading a poem, that's when life can become difficult and decisions can be excruciating. it's not like going out in the ocean on a surfboard and getting all banged up and coming in and saying "forget it!" no, it is more complex. the t.v.? the poem? the throw pillow? all in one? totality? nothingness? eternity? etc.?

yesterday, arthur miller was on television. they never once mentioned his voluptuous wife, marilyn monroe. they talked about terror and fear. he seemed really old and tired. "do you believe in god?" "well, as I gaze out into the vastness of…" click. off goes the t.v. set. the little luminous dot in the center of the screen reminds me of everything that was good about childhood. even marilyn monroe. even throwing pillows. it is enough.

Originally published through 42 OPUS, some time ago. Thank you, 42 Opus.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


S is for the Swayze that makes me love the word Patrick!

W is the way in which I love the words – Patrick Swayze!*

A is for the grade that I give to the man that we call Swayze – Patrick Swayze to be specific!

Y? Because Walt Disney says ‘We love you’ every time he draws a picture in order to please you and make you happy and lest you draw neigh fearful of your mortality: Turn the key deftly in the oiled wards! Walt Disney says, Seal the hushed casket of my soul!


Z is Zygote, the first stage of a new unique organism when it consists of just a single cell. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the group of cells formed by the first few cell divisions, although this is properly referred to as a blastomere. A zygote is usually produced by a fertilization event between two haploid cells - an ovum from a female and a sperm cell from a male - which combine to form the single diploid cell. Thus the zygote contains DNA originating from both mother and father and this provides all the genetic information necessary to form a new individual.

E is for EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!! I am so happy watching Patrick Swayze in ROADHOUSE because he is the MAN! Think Tough Bouncer Taming The Dirty Bar When The Dancing’s Over And Now It Gets Dirty! The Man he is, and I am sure watching Him every time I watch ROADHOUSE! Not you, Sam Elliott, nor you, Ben Gazzara, nor especially you, Chino ‘Fats’ Williams (as ‘The Derelect’) nor you John William Young (as ‘Tinker’) NOT EVEN YOU, Cheryl Baker (as ‘Well Endowed Wife!’) – no! None of the above except the preceding above: PATRICK SWAYZE, I watch you, and this movie, this life, this world, is ROADHOUSE.**

* W can also stand for “Why? Because we love you” which Walt Disney invented.

** R stands for “Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse” which is currently featuring a complete three course meal for only $39.99 at local participating franchises as advertised in the sidebar to the IMDB information portal regarding the movie ROADHOUSE, although there is no ‘R’ in ‘Swayze’, only in ‘Patrick’ or I guess, ‘Roadhouse.’

Saturday, August 15, 2009


I have a friend, let’s call him Dan, who talked to me for a little while on Saturday about an album called HALLELUJAH SQUARE. There were six smiling men and women on the cover and the men were all dressed alike and the women were all dressed alike–except for the shoes! It was a very religious-looking album and we wondered why it wasn’t important to wear matching shoes if you were wearing matching clothes when you are making a very religious album like HALLELUJAH SQUARE that doesn’t seem to have any dark overtones or irony or anything like that in it. Then we thought – perhaps it IS important to wear shoes that DON’T match when you make religious albums. Why? The answer to this is something that we don’t quite know yet.


We also wondered why it wasn’t called HALLELUJAH SQUARES, like HOLLYWOOD SQUARES – we thought that this would be really good marketing at a time in which HOLLYWOOD SQUARES was a very popular TV show. Then again, if you can’t afford matching shoes for the cover of your HALLELUJAH SQUARE album, you might not have made sound marketing choices in the past and so might just be the latest in a series of poor marketing decisions – but then again, being spiritual isn’t all about marketing yourself – it’s about God and singing about all the things that are important to you.

I am sorry that we didn’t look to see what the songs were on the HALLELUJAH SQUARE album. But not real sorry–just a little sorry.


We also wondered if the square was an important religious symbol. Circles, sure, all the time, circles, and triangles also, sometimes. But what about squares. I asked Dan, who said I don’t know, do you? And I said, No, I thought that you would know and Dan said, well, it’s not technically ‘squares’ anyway, it’s ‘Square’and so we asked Pete who said something that seemed unrelated to the shapes we were talking about that was more about an album by Robert Fripp which we both thought had a better title than HALLELUJAH SQUARE and it was called or his group at least was called THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN which changed the conversation a bit, and I asked Dan if he had ever heard of anyone in the Bible described as a ‘gentleman’ and he said What? and I said, For instance, has anyone ever said There was once this interesting gentleman named from Anathoth named Jeremiah but he said No, I never have heard that before; Me neither, said Pete. The Bible doesn’t talk much about gentlemen someone else who was looking through the Big Joe Turner vinyl said and I said But they do talk about gentle things like lambs and Dan and Pete, who rarely agree on many things although they do at times, said, Yes, lambs.


We all thought that perhaps if the HALLELUJAH SQUARE singers were to wear their unmatching shoes and form a big circle for the album cover that this would be a great cover. Or a big bubble would be nice. If they sang from inside the bubble that would make an interesting sound. But the album should say something about how the SQUARE singers recorded their first album inside a bubble on the cover I think. Otherwise the sound would seem creepy rather than interesting. I imagine a bubble that is jelly-like and a swimming pool-blue. Kind of scary.

It makes you think a little bit about Hell.

Sometimes we wonder what would happen in Hell, and what shape Hell might take. Bubble or square or cube, nobody can escape, that’s for sure. You know, when you have a jelly bubble enveloping a Christian singer who is afraid and wondering if he did bad things that he forgot and he starts screaming and saying Is this Hell? Is this Hell? Is this Hell? and then starts kicking and you see one brown boot penetrating the gel membrane, and then from another singer a black boot, or sandal, and then a different shade of brown boot and all these boots get stuck in the membrane and all the sreaming for all eternity and so on. My friend whom I called Dan because, actually, his name IS Dan, is a good man. He is always doing good things for people. I think he would be more earnest and concerned than I about the fate of the singers in a gel membrane bubble such as this and so I asked him what he would do and I mentioned all the details that of the scenario, making certain to include the black boots, the brown boots, the sandals, square v. circle, gelatinous membranes and Hell. How could people in such a dire situation possibly escape, Dan?

Pinking Shears, Dan said.

Really? Is that a real term Dan? I asked. Yes, Pinking Shears is a real term Dan said. I laughed. Pinking Shears! Pinking Shears! Can you lend me a pen? I want to write that down. Pinking Shears. And Dan said, Yes, here is a pen. Whoa! I said. Dan, that is MUCH too nice a pen to write down the words Pinking Shears with and Dan said, or retorted


No, please, be my guest and so I did and I wrote down Pinking Shears and the ink flowed ever so gracefully from the pen just as I thought it might and then I took the piece of paper and folded it twice lengthwise and placed it in my breast pocket and said goodbye to Dan and goodbye to Pete and left feeling happy on a beautiful Saturday morning thinking Pinking Shears Pinking Shears to myself and knowing in my heart that I didn’t really feel any closer to solving any problems or to understanding anything and how happy I was really I was happy at that just the way things are.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I once visited a city named David. I know you think it sounds like a joke but the city really was named David. This was the only time in my life that I ever wanted to be named David. Or at least be called David, kind of like a nickname. And it isn’t that I liked the city–I really didn’t have any strong feelings about it. In fact, I just stopped for a little while in David to pick up a loaf of egg bread, a few slices of mortadella, a pineapple, a chocolate wafer, and the smallest bottle of olive oil that I could find.

If I had been named David, and if I had said “I am here” as I entered the grocery store to the cashier or the bag boy or to that scary guy outside the grocery store in David it would not have even made any difference because to the naked eye I do not appear to be David and so the response would have simply been a So What?

My parents loved me a lot but they didn’t particularly fancy any of the following people listed below and in alphabetical order:

David Brubeck

David Eisenhower

David Hasselhoff

King David (of Israel)

David Herbert Lawrence

David Lee Roth

Sam & David

If they had, my life might have turned out quite differently. I might have even been given a few slices of mortadella for free on occasion, perhaps even the smallest bottle of olive oil that I could find, at least once I produced my charge card to the cashier and smiled my smile of David. But still, I have no

Regrets: I am happy right where I am, and with the way things turned out. My life enjoys a constant, delicious breeze; the trees glow like emeralds; I have yet to be bitten by a scorpion; somewhere, someone loves me; living in a land of clouds, without a name, a mile, I think, above the sea, I; I; I...

Sunday, August 09, 2009


with your left shoe

with your left shoe

you didn’t even have to think about it;
like running into a burning building when
you hear a cat meowing within

I wonder if you would have done it before
you had the blackberry mojito

you have a beautiful singing voice,
but he will never know that

I only would have been worried
if you had jumped up and down
with both feet

“The insecticide won’t do,”
you said. “And the house will carry
the aroma of clove cigarettes, lingering”

It’s funny that we were just talking
about reincarnation

yiddish for: “Soul condemned to wander
for a time in this world because of it's sins.”

It’s not as funny that we
were just talking about
Milton Berle

I wish I could say that it was
Kafka’s birthday, but it was

It was Judy Holliday’s birthday: IQ: 174

I love me some Blossom Dearie: IQ: unknown

me, too. I like being with you, too.
Life is so mysterious and unpredictable.

13: NO
I wonder if a cockroach ever thinks
about how mysterious and unpredictable
life can be.

now that it is all over,
how about a kiss?

let’s leave our shoes
out here by the stoop
let them cool and dry
in the buttery night air,
rich with death

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


I thought: don’t go to a really exotic place if you have a dull life. If you do, you might end up killing yourself in an interesting way so that you can say: “I died in a really exotic place, and in an interesting way.”

I didn’t expect to see hundreds of centipedes crawling over each other like a swath of braided rope in precise formation and constant motion, but I did.

Today I saw the delicate grass fronds wither and disappear when I tried to touch them, and then they came back when I went away. (Metaphor?)

Today I decided that I would buy Charles Darwin a beer, were he to still want one.

Today I finally realized that I wouldn’t crush a scorpion if I saw one, because I did see one.

Today I saw my first real live coffee bean. I wanted to crush it SO badly!


Today I discovered that Wolfman Jack’s last words were “I’ve never been so happy to be home in my whole life.”

Today I discovered that the couple on front of the cover of the WOODSTOCK album are still alive, still together, and still in love.

Monday, August 03, 2009


While I am in an admiring mood, a mood that I really like and I hope that I can stay with a nice long time, I have to add the following woman to my list of really great writing people:


But first, I must say a few things that I don't like about her.

1) There are too many 'L's in her name. Three, at least. Two, I feel would be more than enough.

2) That's about it.

Here she is, courtesy of MUDLARK, who first published this (prose poem collection called ELEPHANT ANGER), and of course the extraordinary, passionate sensual and yet scholarly Ms. McCullough herself:


There’s a backstory—there always is—Topsy was a live elephant and you can see the black and white video on the Web, or maybe you already saw the video of the decapitation by Islamic terrorists of an Australian journalist and this is just too tame. I watched it though, and I’ve been to Coney Island, the boardwalk at Asbury, and to Palisades Park. I was there for the World’s Fair in 1964. The Sinclair Dinosaurs haunted me, the incorrect Brontosaur that couldn’t find a home after the fair was done; its head moved; its jaws opened and closed. I was only four. I never saw the Diving Horse at Atlantic City. But you want to hear about the elephant. I saw the video, the elephant led in, then nothing—there is no sound track or voice over—than the tremble as if the creature has been startled, then the smoke coming up from its feet, and then it lists and falls forward, crumpling like a toy. It was all about a war: Edison versus Westinghouse, and Edison had been electrocuting cats and dogs for years with AC claiming his DC was safer. When Coney Island wanted to hang their rogue elephant for killing the man who fed him a lit cigarette, Edison had a better idea. I don’t get AC-DC, I bet you don’t either, but I get why destroying someone else’s electricity is an insult, thrusting them into prehistory. Dinosaurs and humans didn’t live in the same era, though if you go to Creation Evidence Museum in Glen Rose, Texas, you might be convinced they did. They have human footprints in stone right next to those of dinosaurs. It could be true, couldn’t it? We always leave something behind.

I would like to write her and ask her how she does it. I want to, and I think I will.


Sunday, August 02, 2009


It was like this: I thought what everyone else thought about the Monsieurs Dickman – twin poets, Diane Arbusy looking guys with a hint of James Spader – parlor trick, even though no one really has a parlor anymore. I know I don't. So – garage trick? Well, no one has though, either. OK, well, it was some kind of trick. Knowing or thinking that, I read the work in the NYer last year quite quickly and with an evil eye and took nothing away from it. Then I heard this:


and even though this Michael Silverbatt joker has that voice-slithering-up-your-leg sound-in-the-bad-not-the-good-way I was quite taken by the two poems (and back story) that MD (not to be confused with his brother, MD) presented herein. I heard the right voice reading the right poem – all the coy and irony seemed to be quite not there at all and there were some truly beautiful and vulnerable moments in both, with a desire to convey a true feeling, a sentiment of the heart, something that is so hard to come by in poetry these crazy days. Well, perhaps the problem is that they are not crazy enough. Oh, if you read them you will see what I mean, and you should. Sorry, MD1 + MD2, for anything I thought but did not say. I prefer to say when I don't think like I did, but more like I do now.

Only a small part, and with my apologies but I do think

The French
philosopher Gilles Deleuze jumped
from an apartment window into the world
and then out of it.

My brother opened
thirteen fentanyl patches and stuck them on his body
until it wasn’t his body anymore.

Larry Walters became famous
for flying in a Sears patio chair and forty-five helium-filled
weather balloons. He reached an altitude of 16,000 feet
and then he landed. He was a man who flew.
He shot himself in the heart. In the morning I get out of bed, I brush
my teeth, I wash my face, I get dressed in the clothes I like best.
I want to be good to myself.

it's beautiful

Saturday, August 01, 2009


Maybe, just maybe, I was wrong about Matthew Dickman's poetry. Luckily, I didn't tell anybody what I thought. Not that it matters, I mean, come on.

Still, I haven't rethought anything about MICHAEL Dickman's poetry.

I plan on doing that tomorrow, instead of church.
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