they walked among you, you stones.

these walked among you, you lonely trails.

they walked among you, dim plains.

these walked among you, down long shores.

they walked among you, misty trees.

these walked among you, cities of forgetting.

they walked among you, fallen petals.

these walked among you, empty shining skies.

i comforted myself with pork, BLTA, fat pastrami sandwiches, french fries, sack stained with grease, wiping my fingers on my shirt, drinking Coca-cola, hot cup of 6 AM dirty coffee in Newark airport. i comforted myself with hand-pulled noodles at Omar’s, octopus sashimi at Tokoro, birria tacos at Grand Central Market. 

i comforted myself with dreams and nightmares, trips through avenues of mushy memory, across states of varying dishevelment, climbed mountaintops in Wyoming, Washington, Calif., sat down on granite benches over thousand foot drops and tried to weep or make grand gestures but felt only relief of exhaustion.

i comforted myself with poetry that never ends because poets crank skinny lyrics out of their metaphysical garrets, singular delusion of tercets and quatrains plying my feelings of disdain and unhopefulness, sweetness of aesthetics that comfort with pliant illusion.

i comforted myself with women, vibrant elegant realism and gentleness so much the antidote to macho desperation and bitterness, their POV so often the entry into wild country beyond the obvious—-in reply to Taylor’s question, “How do you make it through?” i said, ”Always listen to the women.”

i comforted myself with my own communist ideation, teeth with so much more bite than the endless academic nattering of the New Left Review, the Monthly Review, white leftists straight out of grad school and the Frankfurt school, French critical theory and the Situationists.

i comforted myself with recorded music, Rahsaan Roland Kirk to the Sex Pistols, Victor Jara to Cafe Tacuba, Pablo Milanes to Bob Dylan, in endless rotation on the stereo as i clocked thousands of miles on the black odometer, distant lights of houses or buildings passing through nights.

i comforted myself by donating money to organizations after the collapse of the communist movement and the Soviet Union, which it turns out had provided refuge and support for liberation movements throughout the 20th century, destroying its best minds and then itself. after that, after the collapse of the party, collapse of cliques and party-building circles, survivors took up positions as outriders—outriders whose column has dispersed.

i comforted myself with narratives, Italian and Japanese movies of the 1960s, Herzog and Fassbinder, Shoah and The Sorrow and the Pity, the Wire and The Harder They Come, i lost sleep staring at the flicker of shootings and murders, kabuki faces and melodramatic stares across the years, as the night grew later and later.

i comforted myself with the Blue Demon of fury, we spit in each other’s faces testosterone saliva that immunized us against care, against Second Guessing, against hindsight about details and losses, while his helpful suggestions about suicide were left at the gate. (In the U.S. 80 of the daily 100 suicides are men.)

i comforted myself with looking at birds and listened to them tell us there was a whole other life—the crows burbled with laughter as they chased each other over the hills, the stilts and sanderlings stood in the river and watched the water go by, the gray heron just looked at us and said, “i don’t live like you, i live a different life,” the seagulls pecking at the missing face of the dead seal pup scattered before us, the line of brown pelicans flying in formation said, “we’ll never live like you do, we live a whole other life,” before peeling off in corkscrew dives into the top of the water.

photo by Jessica Ceballos

photo by Jessica Ceballos

HELLO LITTLE FRIEND>>>>>I LOOK FOR YOUR TINY FLOWERY FACE>>>>>IN THE LITTLE SCREENS>>>>>THAT EVERYONE IS HOLDING NOW>>>>>LIKE TALKING BURRITOS>>>>>LIKE A TACO FLAPPING OPEN TO TELL THEM>>>>> WHAT TO DO>>>>>BUT IN MINE I DON’T CATCH A GLIMPSE OF YOU>>>>> ONLY YOUR VOICE>>>> COMING OUT OF THE PAST >>>>>LIKE A TREE RISES IN A FIELD>>>>> IT IS COMFORTING>>>>> IF THERE IS ONE TREE IN A FIELD, THAT’S WHERE COWS WILL GO>>>>> WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS BURRITO>>>>> WHY WON’T IT COMMUNICATE>>>>> IT WON’T SEND ME YOUR VOICE IN THE PRESENT>>>>> MY OWN FACE REFLECTS IN ITS LITTLE SCREEN>>>>> VANISHES WHEN I TURN IT ON>>>>> HELLO LITTLE FRIEND, HELLO>>>>> IF I TAKE A SELFIE, WILL YOU WEAR MY FACE? >>>>> WHERE CAN YOU APPEAR IN THE PRESENT>>>>> TAPPING ON THE LITTLE SCREEN OF SYNESTHESIA>>>>> I ONLY SMELL MINT OR GASOLINE >>>>> I PRESS THESE SWRINKLED GLASS KEYS OF MEMORY>>>>> PRESS BURRITO TO FACE AND EARS SO I CAN BE IN TUNE LIKE EVERYONE NOWADAYS>>>>> WHY DO THEY HEAR YOU>>>>> WHY CAN’T YOU SPEAK TO ME>>>>> LITTLE FRIEND WITH THE CERTAINLY FLOWERY FACE>>>>> I AM TALKING TO YOU>>>>> LITTLE GLASS BURRITO>>>>>

lali 9-21a

I did think of Lewis Macadams in passing (—happy 70th birthday, Lewis!)— at 7 AM as I rode my bike fourteen miles (7 each way) on the L.A. River bike trail where it starts near a bridge from Glassell Park up to zoo, Autry Museum and soccer fields at Griffith Park, passing joggers, old people walking, some with dogs, bikers on nicer bikes streaming past me, this heavy 25 year old bike, river flowing peaceful under floating mats of vegetation, around islands of trees, laurel, willows and bamboo where homeless people live (one encampment had a little arrangement of potted flowers and stuff at the entry path to the island), shopping carts parked on the bike trail, past studios and fabricator’s factories, the armored car depot and sheet metal sheds in the dusty smog wind off the 5 freeway that runs alongside, white egrets, black-necked stilts and lots of mallards in the river, black birds (cormorants I think) sleeping on a wire overhanging the river, Canada geese, (one dead coot in the bike trail), a hawk, but I was in a hurry to do the run, had to get to a meeting, so I pushed it and turned abruptly off the trail at the end, too fast, hit the sidewalk and flew over the handlebars, sprained my wrists when i somersaulted and landed on my back, an old lady calling, “Are you all right?” Nothing was broken, “Yes I am, thanks!” a little skin scraped off my hands, back on the bike, pedaling off to my breakfast meeting. gas-board-echolot

Avenue 50 Studio
and
Hollywood Institute of Poetics

It’s Autumn! Let’s FALL in love with poetry!

Please join us for our October
BLUEBIRD READING

SUNDAY OCTOBER 12th | 2PM

PROUDLY FEATURING:

Alicia Partnoy
Kenji Liu
Sesshu Foster
Vickie Vertiz

plus OPEN MIC!!!

Sign up begins at 1:45

Hosted by:
Jessica Ceballos

Books will be available for purchase and signing

as always – FREE!
2pm

at

Avenue 50 Studios
131 North Avenue 50
Highland Park, CA 90042

__________________________

the Bluebird Reading series is a component of
Avenue 50 Studio’s literary arts programming.

Avenue 50 Studio is supported in part by the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council, the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, and the California Community Foundation.

Avenue 50 Studio
www.avenue50studio.org

jessica ceballos
www.jessicaceballos.com

ave 50 reading

King Kong versus pterodactyl

King Kong versus ants

Jack London versus Jack Kerouac

William Blake versus Walt Whitman

USSR versus reality

ANC versus neoliberalism

black versus night

night versus nothing

thought versus nothing

fried egg on a tortilla versus nothing

proletarian internationalism versus eco-tourism

surveillance versus subversion

crows versus ravens

memory versus dreams

slope versus angle

cliffs versus the ocean

dog versus indifference

poem versus indifference

milk versus time

habanero versus thai chile

water versus drought

Calif. versus everywhere

sleep versus eons

sleep versus the sleep of reason

dreams versus moments

bad ideas versus pig’s feet

Ray Foster versus Paul Foster

the present versus the future

incipience versus the outward manifest

solidarity versus charity

potentiality versus waste

the apartheid imagination versus mestizaje

the apartheid imagination versus actual lives

peanut butter sandwich versus salami

this thing versus the next thing

pink versus magenta

distance versus experience

Oakland versus San Francisco

Bay Area versus L.A.

happiness versus Coca-cola

bitterness versus greenery

bones versus stones

king-kong

4.

I have silently fired the corrugated cardboard gun of suicide at my corrugated friend, lingering on the glare of broad Pacific as seen from high bluffs, bottles clinking, bottles and tubes looking at many (or some of us) without eyes, “flimsy excuse” for a man walking in my direction through a reflection, “mild promise” of a child thanking someone in the crowd for illnesses of dust, “pigeon wire” of adolescent corrugated friend obscured by telephone pole, writing a check for fusillade of crumpled papers which were owed to the corner of the room where the ants were reading, except for the blind ants, it turns out (all of them), pressed the corrugated friend on any Sunday as we aged in 2 dimensional houses, 2 dimensional cities filed under the subject heading, “national forest”

5.

shot by corrugated trigger of cellophane of optimistic optometry, a squirrel tail of the runned-over squirrel in the street wiggle-waggles in a wind ever full of life, buns fresh from the oven of mislaid hours, buttered with best wishes from the sweet (or not) girls, the little breezes flushing life through all these leaves and copper wires and porous ceramic folks, doubly entertaining when they dip and dither, glad-hand and foreswear; as my copper-stained friend, hurtling laterally intermittently as sonic vibrations in the greenery, would put it over lacquer tray of cardiac

why-has-america-dining

1.

how about when they lay hands upon the gloomy profile, so that the glandular fear swells tumescent yellow, fatty tissue was reminiscent of a flexible, steel-framed friend, who was “modular spectacular” and “groomed arroyo”—cottage rooftops which casually descend to the level of the fences, mired in normative formulations interwoven with glad membranes (liver and aspirin) some explosions, popping noises, smoke or fumes (follicles rubbed off) once revealed as if by a receding tide, jagged crowns of rocks splashed and swirling with bubbles, dripping greasily down the paper they had pasted on the wall to cover it, the steel-framed friend (or eyeglasses, some would have it) “humidity of the poles” headed to the right “20th century straw teeth mastered by filigrees of rosy bronze as if into a sheen of air” (blistery white gum), (tooth and porcelain door knob) hand and arm reaching across the table of the landscape, unfurling disagreement and emboldening fingertips almost tapping like little balls of yarn in a fringe hanging from the curtain, so that “broken dogs” casting green “Chinese shadows” along the saline front where spots of excrement and peaches recount toilet paper rolls in alignment accordingly the hanged men of the calendar, those rubbishy fermented alcoholic notes, toward the tall immensely abbreviated folder of the steel-framed friend, not pine-scented about…

photograph by LIndsey Bolling

photograph by LIndsey Bolling

2

…yellow scales on the green-framed evergreen, Sino-green temperate forest map left in the car, yellowed desiccated grainery rice sheaves, grasshopper popping up into the air of Fall like summery afterthoughts, we have regular ideas about them in the Main Street plateglass, Japanese New Year plates of memory gauze smeared with aguacate-cream of swervy pulp, child weeping she said of dead greatgrandfather while she herself homeless last year, my green-framed friend turned to yellow sunshine splayed across entrance way, enemy forces and their guitars and socks and their tickets could be in Calif. or NV, or AZ, cactus bristle toothbrush mustard and watercress delight in byways and alleyways of long days gone inside long nights, thin reeds of bones played by insect messengers and amphibia in 1960’s green twilight, closing the billfold on my green-framed friend’s license, (his or her) picture of leafy shadows on headlight wall flashing past momentarily like the gantry of space rocket, chopsticks could be used to extract from car collision the bits of still useful trembling, Oakland there mighty amber “All our agents are currently on another call, please hold on the line and we will get back to you in a moment,” green-frame

lali12

3.

4-41-framed friend, 326 fan palm trees tilted in the brushfire, sugar my 4-41 on one side a sidewalk and not on the other, one side side sunny sunny and hot and hot and not not another another, 1965 Mercury Marauder sniffling choked up with sentimentalism of 4-41-framed friend, bent side mirror flying off at high speed on the Interstate, she kept you coming back, didn’t she, so? Swap old man in furnished room for old man in managed-care facility with roads, shuddering hamburger case full of articulate cartridges sparkly like thighs of juniper thought of tomorrow—which went by parade “of history”—through passive Mediterranean or Caribbean lateral differentiation we didn’t decide one way or the other, it was done by animals, the rest was holding laminated national forests I surmised, I appreciated 4-41-framed coherent sea coast you remember, the biological (hanged men of the century)

why-has-america-lounge

postcard to lisa

“In Chamacuaro in 1923 lightning struck the door of ther temple and many women were thrown to the floor. Eufrosina Nieto, who was one of the fallen, invoked the miraculous Saint Nicholas and nobody died.”

She got up at 7 AM and probably ran five miles on the arroyo seco, which drains into the L.A. River, when storms run out of Hahamongna watershed, a Pasadena City-owned watershed where they siphon water for their town from the San Gabriel Mountains.

Yesterday evening we hiked down into the arroyo from Devil’s Gate Dam, which holds back a reservoir full of dry white gravel.  We carried a blue-throated skink and a red-eared box turtle.

They had been carried off athletic fields, which get regular soakings from sprinklers, by maintenance men and kids who delivered them to her to dispose of. We walked down the rocky eroded trail into the canyon of the arroyo in toyon, alder, eucalyptus, yucca, creosote, buckeye, buckwheat and brush, looking for water holes and found none.

Drought. Even as we drove north through Pasadena, past barriers and cops directing traffic away from some mass spectacle at the Rose Bowl, where ten of thousands of teenage girls and their moms were amassing for who knows what weird ceremonies and rituals (and traffic was royally fucked up, cops everywhere, parked at intersections, light bars flashing), brown smoke of fires rose from the south (from Chino Hills?) and from the west, smearing the sunset with rusty color.

devil's gate postcard

Although she was hungry and protested against it, we parked in the falling dark and took a flashlight and walked in the dark up the creek behind the lights shining in the new parking structure at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory campus, with its parking lot emptying out, last workers on satellites and space projects, mars probes and secrets of outer space, project managers (one of whom we know is a belly dancer in her spare time) and rocket scientists heading home to the freeway home, an owl in the tree looking down on us as we looked down on JPL.

We crossed the first bridge over the creek and found flowing water under it. The skink was let loose in the sand by the boulders and the turtle was placed on the edge of a pool in the rocks, under white alder. It waited awhile, emerging from its shell, to stalk into the pool.

Night mountain bike riders with lights mounted on their helmets passed us heading up into the dry rocky mountains. The owl was gone. We drove to our favorite Thai restaurant.

And the Chinese kid who drowned, he is alive, though with visible brain damage—he is back in school, fighting to regain the life he lost and grabbed back. His hands shake, he has weakness and short term memory loss from the stroke, but day by day he is fighting his way back.

devil's gate postcard1

hammer image

it’s okay that the artists are all white, even the nonwhite artists (2?) are kind of white

it’s okay that the curators are all white, it’s

okay that the l.a. reflected in this show is like the l.a. in robert altman’s “shortcuts” which is a strange all-white l.a.

(in charlton heston’s “omega man,” (1971) i think the head vampire or whatever they were who was menacing the ‘real’ last human beings on earth, that is the humans who were not vampires or whatever (all white, except maybe the black woman hipster with her militant afro) was black)

let’s not go into “planet of the apes” at this juncture, but in the apartheid imagination of the future white people are in peril, isolated with jutting jaw of manifest destiny determination like charlton heston with his guns and his alzheimer’s

it’s okay that the curators at the ucla hammer museum think that ‘minorities’ are best represented by white queer artists (that shows diversity like on “star trek” the aliens are white people who wear prosthetic make-up or paint their skin blue or green—that’s a kind of diversity)

it’s okay that the white artists who are queer artists don’t have anything to do with POC (people of color)

it’s okay in the little museum labels where the curators note the background, issues and ideas in the artist’s work, that none of it referenced POC even when it mentioned “highest rates of incarceration in the world in spite of having only 5% of the worlds population” (it’s okay not to mention that blacks and latinos make up 60% of the incarcerated even though they are 30% of the american people)

it’s okay

it’s all right, like when i sat in one day in marilyn robinson’s mfa writing class at the university of iowa and she shared her course reading list which was all white except for one book by the only black writer and only POC in creative writing at U of I, and she asked did anyone have any remarks or suggestions, and i said, apart from the one, the reading list isn’t very diverse, it’s all white

robinson didn’t answer, she just smiled and white students (maybe i was the only nonwhite in the room) said, “it’s a very diverse list, already” and “yes, for example, look at all the women writers” and “and kafka,” one added

and robinson just smiled

and i left

that’s all right

it’s okay

that was in 1994, 20 years ago

it’s okay 20 years later to walk through the ucla hammer museum through an all white show

when i was a kid i thought maybe american apartheid would slowly change

and now we have a black president who does everything white presidents do

he does everything just like them, all his policies are the same—he’s like colin powell

and in the 1990s i felt like things could change, maybe

but now i see white thinking’s not changing and this exhibit and the exhibits at every other museum in the city show this, but

it’s all right because the ucla hammer museum curated and hosted “now dig this! art and black los angeles 1960 – 1980” which exhibited from october 2011 to january 2012

so it’s okay, because “black los angeles” had its day

it had the one exhibit

it has black history month every year

it had wanda coleman (in those days)

so it’s okay that all the official museums in l.a. show white art all the time

it’s okay because you can go to the “california african american museum” if you want to see art by POC or you can drive to long beach to the museum of latin american art, or the l.a. county museum of art probably has one or two frida kahlos or diego riveras and some great precolombian ceramics

so it’s okay

if the all the other museums like lacma and moca and etc. show white art at all times

asco had it’s one lacma show “asco: the elite of the obscure, a retrospective 1972 – 1987” on exhibition from sept. 2011 to december 2011, so it’s okay

they had that one

one is good, now we can go back to our regularly scheduled programming

like after a public service announcement

it’s okay that the apartheid imagination remains in place and is not disrupted

thank you

that reassurance is like walking on a broken toe

 

gas-board-echolot

sesshu foster

alhambra, ca

Probably you were making love a couple times, you were getting busy.

Laying sod, planting trees, paving a walkway. Perhaps you called your mother.

Perhaps your child. Driving from L.A. to the Mexican border can take what.

The estimate for the bathroom, 15 to 20K. What’s the weather going to be like, when you arrive?

Something about Gaza. The woman’s car in the intersection…

You parked and by the time you got there, two other guys showed up to help push.

Rutsu 18, or Tokoro in S. Pasadena? Bombed out buildings like from World War II, gray concrete dust.

Gray concrete dust on survivors. The Israelis.

News on in another room; saturated arena colors of a flat screen in a sports bar, Washington DC?

Dim sports bar? A toddler cradled in a hunched father’s arms, missing the top of the head.

How much had you? How much more to drink? Two or three maybe.

Phrase, tit for tat, something like that. It canceled out. How much money was it to you?

New appliances, developments in robotics, software versus hardware. Debt.

How’s traffic? How’s it look? If you peeked and saw Gaza you saw it.

You saw the end of your world, your own death in a way, the limit of sighs.

A breath, your own, and someone talking, saying something you didn’t quite catch.

Hedges, fences and trees as you drive on. Houses, neighborhoods of night streets. Little universes.

 

story-of-airship-dining-promenade

October 2014
M T W T F S S
« Sep    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 53 other followers