Saturday, June 17, 2006

In case anyone's still looking, I've closed this blog in order to devote my energies to a series of poems and novel I'm smack dab in the middle of. I appreciate that anyone at all has come here on occassion to read my poems and rants, and I think I know most of you personally!

I'll be back with a new blog in the fall.


Friday, May 26, 2006

Jamaican ska great Desmond Dekker dies

Sunday, May 21, 2006

For Gerrit, Joe, Jim, Dan and Others on the Occasion of Their Flooded Basements

The Water!

It never fails

to find us...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Monday, May 08, 2006

Forgot I had this on my camera phone

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Please go here and here to learn about Net Neutrality, if you don't already know what that means. Then please go here here to sign a petition to let Congress know that you're sick of them aiding big business at the expense of our ideas and money.

Please please please....

Monday, May 01, 2006

Happy 9th Birthday to my wonderful daughter.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Reading report: Fanny Howe at Umass Boston, April 26th

To my ears Fanny Howe is one of the best writers working in these United States. With that in mind, it was a particular pleasure to hear her read this past Wednesday morning in a small conference room on the Umass Boston campus. Readings don’t get much more intimate than this. Put together by Joe Torra, currently working as an adjunct in the creative writing department there, it was attended mainly by students from his past and present classes as well as a couple of strays (like myself) who were fortunate enough to get the news from one of Dan Bouchard’s very generous emails.

Fanny read two excerpts from her most recent novel, Indivisible, which she claims will be her last. Later she would tell us she is “Not interested in questions of plot anymore”. Neither Joe nor myself were inclined to believe her. At least, we should all hope that she’ll soon change her mind.

Her recurrent themes were in evidence even in this short reading : The soul/religion (an obvious subject of many of her poems as well), less than reliable parents (see Nod, also), children trying to cope with the confusion of an adult world, sickness, and more than a little verbal and even physical violence. But done with the kind of gorgeous and dense lines that would shine if broken into poem size chunks.

The real treat followed the reading, when Fanny asked the members of the audience to join her in a conversation. This is the kind of moment that’s hard to find at a poetry reading, where at the end people are rushing to get out and on with their busy lives, or to a barroom where folks will gather in their various factions and conversations will deteriorate along with brain cells. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

The discussion was blessedly devoid of any wrestling with questions of dull, algebra-like “poetics”, nor did anyone break out that old chestnut, "What's your, err, process?" Fanny talked at length about her activist father and his politics, her mother, and keeping together a household of her own in Jamaica Plain decades ago where something like a dozen people lived at any time, each contributing money so that Fanny and her then husband could earn a living. It was personal, honest, and at times touching. “My father was consistent, which was good for me”, she said. “My mother was, well, Irish.”

Favorite line of Fanny’s from the conversation other than that last one: “I have a fear of irony”. I realized at that moment how little irony there is in all of her work (and this comment coming from a writer who early on eeked out a living by writing pulp novels with titles like Saigon Nurse*). It’s a nice thing to hear from a writer nowadays, where we’re fairly swimming in an ocean of crappy ironic gestures (usually just cynicism or its mouthpiece, sarcasm) and poetry that sounds more like stand-up comedy than art. Irony isn't dead, nor should it be; but quality irony seems to be in short supply

* Interestingly, the heroine of this novel is North Vietnamese, which Fanny says was possible because she was paid by the page. If the number of pages were sufficient, and the action tawdry enough, no one seemed to care or notice.

Jane Jacobs died on Tuesday at 89 years. I read The Death and Life of Great American Cities for the first time more than 2 decades ago, and knew instantly that it was the kind of life changing book that would stay with me always and guide my then developing social and political instincts. Today I'll once again pick up my copy and read it as if it were new.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

New Pressed Wafer foldemzine featuring Mike County, Amy Marengo, Erica Mena and John Mulrooney, edited and with cover art by Joseph Torra, out now. If you don't receive Pressed Wafer stuff and would like a copy then I'd love you to have one of the thirty I have in my possession. All I need is your address.

This poem, from a forthcoming Pressed Wafer "Foldemzine" that I will confess I'm included in, just breaks my tiny little compressed and frigid heart. Go Johnny go!


Break lights like cigarette ash
hover in the grimy thaw.
Revelations must wait at the drawbridge
and neither new year’s sparklers
nor the rush of ambulances
can reinstate the flow.
In fire we are lost and in fire found.
We are brambles underfoot
of strange angels, cunning,
clumsy and untrustworthy.
We balk, we blink, we turn away.
Once preciousness made no sense
and there was a god in everything.
The year’s dead ringer voice
that sounds like lost luggage
tells you to scratch your phantom limb,
and you do.

— John Mulrooney

How come nobody loves poetry anymore?


Meant to tell you about
this crazy dream I had:
Pogues, Orpheum, you're
to my right and
we both badly want to hear
"Down All The Days"
So Shane asks if
anyone has any questions and
I say "Yeah", so he
calls me to the stage
and I say in a stage whisper
"I hear you fuckers have been playing
that song about Brown at
shows from Seattle to NYC",
and he says "Yeah, mate", turns
to the crowd and shouts in perfect voice
"Is that what everyone wants to hear?"
The crowd screams its approval and
off they go into a song about Brown,
but it's not "Down All The Days", it's
something awful in a "Blue Heaven" style
complete with Busby Berkely dancers.
It's just fucking awful, James, but
we sing along to
what words I
don't know........

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

This is good news. Yo La Tengo has self-released a disc of cover songs they've done over the past decade or so at fundraisers for radio station WFMU in New Jersey. Called Yo La Tengo Is Murdering The Classic, here's the track listing:

01. Tighten Up (Archie Bell And The Drells)
02. The Night Chicago Died (Paper Lace)
03. Raw Power (The Stooges)
04. Sea Cruise (Huey "Piano" Smith)
05. Favorite Thing (The Replacements)
06. Baseball Altamont (Ned Hayden-Philip Shelley)
07. Meet the Mets (Bill Katz-Ruth Roberts)
08. Oh Bondage, Up Yours! (X-Ray Spex)
09. Ding Dang/ Interplanetary Music (Brian Wilson-Roger McGuinn/ Sun Ra)
10. Captain Lou (NRBQ)
11. Oh! Sweet Nuthin' (Lou Reed)
12. Route 66 (Bobby Troup)
13. Roadrunner (Jonathan Richman)
14. Tijuana Taxi (Ervan Coleman)
15. Mendocino/ Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head (Doug Sahm/ Burt Bacharach)
16. Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) (Eurythmics)
17. Baby's on Fire (Brian Eno)
18. Mary Anne With the Shaky Hand (The Who)
19. The Hokey Pokey (Larry Laprise-Taftt Baker-Charles Macak)
20. You May Be Right (Billy Joel)
21. Mama Told Me (Not to Come) (Randy Newman)
22. Roundabout (Yes)
23. You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet (Bachman-Turner Overdrive)
24. Don't Worry, Kyoko (Mummy's Only Looking for Her Hand in the Snow) (Yoko Ono)
25. Downtown (Petula Clark)
26. Let the Good Times Roll (Shirley Goodman-Leonard Lee)
27. Never on Sunday (Manos Hadjidakis-Billy Towne)
28. 20th Century Boy (T. Rex)
29. Rock the Boat (Hues Corporation)
30. Shotgun"(Junior Walker and the All-Stars)
31. Medley: My Sharona (The Knack), Mr. Apollo (Bonzo Dog Band), Sonic Reducer (Dead Boys), God Only Knows (Beach Boys), If and When/The Summer Sun (Chris Stamey), Schizophrenia (Sonic Youth), Another Girl, Another Planet (The Only Ones), Bedazzled (Peter Cook-Dudley Moore)

If only they were, errr, more eclectic?

I've just about finished a new series of poems, longer responses to 9 untitled poems that I'd written in recent months. The untitled poems were originally written as complete thoughts, but at some point I had the idea that it would be interesting to try and respond to one's own work, to try and convey something new by using one's own poems as a starting point, rather than any other inspiration.

Maybe I'll call it

After County

That should endear me to the larger poetry community. Even dedicate it to myself, something like

To Michael, in Friendship and Admiration

So rather than calling these revisions, the longer responses are unique poems, with titles, with themes that stretch into new places. It's all very poetic and shit.

Any poets out there who'd like to read them and comment? I've got a thick skin.

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