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you keep checking your watch, but you are in this time zone, and your watch is correct
2. around the curve at more than 35 MPH, which means, at this speed on a dirt road in the Colorado backcountry there is no way to hit the brakes without losing control, so you just steer alongside—missing them by inches—the two pickup trucks parked side by side in the middle of the road, drivers talking to each other, as you blow by, raising a plume of dust
3. In Colorado, I got up before 5 AM to deliver breakfast to smoke jumpers in the Piceance Basin.
Hundreds of miles of pinon, juniper scrub, dry forest on dusty, eroded rock piles like they’d fallen off the back of huge dump trucks.
The smoke jumpers had parachuted onto a ridge line and chainsawed and pick and shoveled hot fire lines for days.
They needed the food and water in the back of the pickup truck. Summer alfalfa fields wafted in the dark as I left town.
Pasture land and hay fields in the bottoms as I took some turns too fast, pushing the truck past 80.
The radio, the only station I could get in that country, Oral Roberts healing sinners:
“And they brought their young man to me in his wheelchair!
And I lay hands on his feeble frame and prayed over him, ‘With the power of Our Lord Jesus Christ I command you, get up! Throw off your weakness and come to me!’
And the young man was healed of his bodily weakness by the Holy Spirit and did rise up and walk!”
But the radio said I was an hour late! So I roared down the highway through tiny sleeping country crossroads.
Through green bottomlands, under the dusty ridge lines. Past darkened houses in tiny towns like Meeker (named for the repressive Indian agent killed by Utes in 1879).
Later, the radio program announced that it was out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and I realized the signal was broadcast from another time zone.
But for a couple of hours I thought I was late. Off the highway, I pushed the truck up unpaved back roads, the frame shuddering and tires slamming holes and ruts.
I swerved around a bend too quickly and the back end fishtailed in the dirt. And I thought suddenly a boulder or tree was about to fall on the truck.
The big shadow of an eagle flashed across the hood and dusty windshield, and I saw only what it was in a glimpse over my shoulder.
after a winter downpour, slowing hard on the Pasadena freeway and evading cars that have collided
List of 100 of Essential Books
Auschwitz and After by Charlotte Delbo
Collected Stories by Isaac Babel
Moby Dick, or the Whale by Herman Melville
Collected Stories by William Faulkner
Last Evenings on Earth by Roberto Bolano
The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Snopes: the Hamlet, the Town, the Mansion by William Faulkner
Go Down, Moses by William Faulkner
The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald: A New Collection
The Complete Collected Stories of Ernest Hemingway
The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
A Future of Ice: Poems and Stories of a Japanese Buddhist by Kenji Miyazawa or Miyazawa Kenji: Selections
The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
The Journal of Henry David Thoreau 1837 – 1861
Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
She Had Some Horses and Other Poems by Joy Harjo
Winter in the Blood by James Welch
America is in the Heart by Carlos Bulosan
In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens by Alice Walker
History of the Russian Revolution by Leon Trotsky
Fire From the Mountain by Omar Cabezas
Capital Vol. 1 by Karl Marx
Memoirs of a Revolutionary by Victor Serge
Resistance by Victor Serge
Let’s Go by Otto Rene Castillo, translated by Margaret Randall
Clandestine Poems by Roque Dalton
Rosa Luxemburg by J. P Nettl
Small Hours of the Night: Selected Poems by Roque Dalton
Collected Poetry and Prose by Walt Whitman
Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Bound for Glory by Woody Guthrie
Memory of Fire Trilogy (Genesis, Faces and Masks, Century of the Wind) by Eduardo Galeano
The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture by Wendell Berry
What Are People For? Essays by Wendell Berry
Lunch Poems by Frank O’Hara
Collected Poems by Allen Ginsberg
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac
The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State by Friedrich Engels
Poems by Pier Paolo Pasolini
The Complete Stories by Franz Kafka
In Danger: A Pasolini Anthology by Pier Paolo Pasolini
Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Doblin
Poems for the Millennium Vol.s 1, 2, 3 by Jerome Rothenberg
To Change the World: My Years in Cuba by Margaret Randall
Hopscotch by Julio Cortazar
We Love Glenda So Much and A Change of Light by Julio Cortazar
Riprap and Other Poems by Gary Snyder
Cronopios and Famas by Julio Cortazar
62: A Model Kit by Julio Cortazar
The Lover by Marguerite Duras
Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame by Charles Bukowski
Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo
Somewhere in Advance of Nowhere by Jayne Cortez
On the Imperial Highway: New and Selected Poems by Jayne Cortez
Savage Dreams: A Journey into the Landscape Wars of the American West by Rebecca Solnit
The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 by Karl Marx
The Spring of My Life and Selected Haiku by Issa Kobayashi
The Collected Poems of Kenneth Rexroth
The Greatest of Marlys by Lynda Barry
One Hundred Demons by Lynda Barry
A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
Once in Europa by John Berger
On Photography by Susan Sontag
Selected Odes by Pablo Neruda
The Complete Poetry by Cesar Vallejo
The Essential Neruda or Selected Poems by Pablo Neruda
Pluriverse: New and Selected Poems by Ernesto Cardenal
Cheyenne Autumn by Mari Sandoz
Crazy Horse: the Strange Man of the Oglalas by Mari Sandoz
The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien
Waiting for Godot: A Tragicomedy in Two Acts by Samuel Beckett
The Stranger by Albert Camus
Journey to the End of the Night by Louis Ferdinand Celine
Collected Tales by Joseph Conrad
Notes from Underground, The Double and The Gambler by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
A Room of One’s Own and Three Guineas by Virginia Woolf
Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley
Three Lives and Tender Buttons by Gertrude Stein
I-Hotel by Karen Yamashita
Passionate Journey: A Vision in Woodcuts by Frans Masereel
The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs
The Collected Poems by Federico Garcia Lorca
The Collected Stories of William Carlos Williams
The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams Vol.s 1 & 2
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
The Palm-Wine Drinkard and My Life in the Bush of Ghosts by Amos Tutuola
Twilight, Los Angeles 1992 by Anna Deavere Smith
For colored girls who have considered suicide/When the rainbow is enuf by Ntozake Shange
Collected Essays by James Baldwin
Early Novels and Stories by James Baldwin
The Origin of the Species and the Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin
Three Plays by August Wilson
Poems of Nazim Hikmet (revised and Expanded Version)
House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
The Fierce and Beautiful World by Andrei Platonov
Soul and Other Stories by Andrei Platonov
—then, starting over:
1. Collected Poems by Muriel Rukeyser
2. The Life of Poetry by Muriel Rukeyser
3. Nicaragua by Susan Meiselas
4. Secret Games: Collaborative Works with Children 1969 – 1999 by Wendy Ewald
“I got an electric postcard from Nicola Tesla. It was shocking,” said the Monday earthquake.
It zipped through the world, angling from Europe to Los Angeles. Folded metal.
Sometimes it cast a shadow, sometimes several shadows— lives. Ice, seltzer bubbles.
It was folded into words; horizons visually torn. Not too many things. Glass, porcelain.
Images/ was made of cloves, discarded nutmeg cartons, second thoughts.
Now 2 NYPD cops clop on horseback down Adelphi Street, Brooklyn. Voices. Granite.
Motionless fans, the pear tree just like trees below the Cascades and Sierra Nevada.
—thanks to Andy and Lisa!
Mom was one of nine or ten siblings lodged, with grandma and grandpa, in the Santa Anita racetrack horse stalls off Huntington Blvd, before they shipped them to the camps. There’s a big mall next door to it, and the airport was replaced by Arcadia Co. Park. Mom said they took her brothers’ driver’s licenses away before they died, because they blacked out while they were driving. Uncle Bill told me he thought he was having heart attacks on the freeway (once he blacked out approaching the City Terrace exit), but his doctors at White Memorial didn’t say anything about it when he told them. Uncle John said he saw Jesus in the hall before he died. Mom mentioned that a couple times, once remarking, “Better watch it if you start seeing Jesus.”
Various sentences go here. Or fragments with palm trees leaning on the smog.
It should say something here about the timber around the lake, the reservoir behind the dam. Great stripped logs, bare as limbs from immense broken statuary, jammed against the dam, looming above the huge spillways like tusks jutting from a concrete jaw. Far out above the surface of the water, a great stump stuck out above the water on an island that was not really visible, giving the impression of an immense rootball of a tree floating atop the water. I supposed the blackened wooden pipeline, about five feet in diameter, banded every few inches with steel bands screwed taut, used to take water to the big canneries and lumber mills in Cannery Cove, but those were abandoned and rusting now. The pipe was full and still carrying water somewhere. Citlali and the others collected berries along the pipeline trail in the intermittent showers. I could describe the mist floating on the trees, thick forest of red cedar, western hemlock, sitka spruce. Cloud banks poured off the slopes, shredding on the breeze, delivering scattered showers. Misty day in Southeast Alaska. The great woods and green dripping moss could be described more.
Ryan’s dog, Knot, ran ahead of us, every once in awhile returning to check on us with her gold staring eyes. We’d comment every now and then on the dog, or one of us would call to the dog.
Vic Chesnutt (the musician) took an overdose of muscle relaxants. Walter Benjamin overdosed on morphine tablets at the border town of Potbou on the Catalonian coast. Julia OD’d in a San Clemente motel room with a plastic bag over her head. Iris Chang (in a car parked along the highway), Frank Stanford and Mayakovsky shot themselves. Iris Chang’s suicide note included the sentence, “I had considered running away, but I will never be able to escape from myself and my thoughts.” Richard Brautigan and Hunter S. Thompson shot themselves. Kerouac drank himself to death. According to the American Association of Suicidology, “Suicide ranks third as a cause of death among young (15-24) Americans behind accidents and homicides.”
Some people look out across the water, as if through a reflection, trying to see inside.
Insisting in your face: [Expletive] your possum eyes make my stomach hurt, [threat, or implied threat]. [Laughs, blatant fake laughter] Ha ha ha, I keel you. Oh, jew focking wit me today eh man? So you wanna meet my little fren’? Eh? [Unintelligible derivative dialogue seemingly repeated as misremembered from movies. This repetition is not only senseless, but mechanical. As if controlled electronically via regurgitated narratives that retard the collective imagination in a dunning stupid rage, it is social. They are collecting money to recycle these “ideas.”]
Here, hold this.
The East Los Angeles Dirigible Transport Lines (ELADATL) has announced the opening of new dirigible passenger ticket stations on N. Main Street adjacent to the L.A. River, easy access to San Antonio winery, wino on a bike, La Mano studios, Lanza Bros Italian Market Famous Italian Sandwiches since 1926 or 1986, plus river kayaking (in season) near at hand—as well as our new El Sereno Station, kitty corner to LEAD mural & pollo truck, access to nearby Lincoln Park, Plaza de la Raza, Wilson & Lincoln High Schools, Floating House and Stairs to Nowhere. New stations projected to open soon in Highland Park, Elephant Hills, HP, City of Vernon, City of Industry, Rosemead, and Frogtown.
In order to better serve these communities and promote dirigible use of free air space, ELADATL’s Ray Palafox has developed ground transportation lines of connecting LAND DIRIGIBLES. In the interests of public transport, public welfare, freedom of movement and the public good, transfers available on any flight for ground service wherever you may go. Simply ask the inflight conductor or the ticket booth attendant at the station, you will see. Sometimes at the El Sereno Station you might want to go around the side and check out back if you knock on the door and no one answers. Somebody is always around.
These new lines now open:
Pacific Electric Train Images copyright Pacific Electric Railway Historical Society (www.peryhs.org)
These are notes from an exchange from I don’t remember when, last year or the year before. A poet recently sent me poems asking me whether they were any good and where could he get them published. Really, I think that poets or writers should ask these questions and reflect on the answers, because it’s part of your practice as a poet or a writer. It’s part of your job.
It’s not my job, or anybody’s, to tell you where to publish or not to publish. It’s part of your practice. Because publishing is sharing and creating community. Common, community, communication share the same root. This creation and creativity, via communication, is a necessary part of any artist’s practice.
So when poets and writers ask this, they are asking me to intervene in their own practice.
But I’d like to be helpful. So the last time a poet asked me, I reviewed his work, and made suggestions (including sending a list of journals or magazines or other resources). And I did not hear anything in reply. That lack of response—when he himself asked for feedback—to me indicates a lack of reflection on the writer’s practice. In part I post these notes to refer such queries to in the future.
Q. Where to send a poem or piece of writing?
Haha! Just this second, really just this moment, a squirrel jumped onto the balcony and looked at me out of the one eye on the side of his head. He was surprised to me see me. There was a little dried out avocado lying on the balcony. He just grabbed it in his teeth and left.
Back to the question.
A. It depends on your interests. Here’s my theory:
I think of publication as a discourse, a dialogue. You enter it as a writer when you publish. Some professors, and some agents of the writing bizness, might suggest that a publication is a product, a commodity—you produce it, other people consume it. They might suggest that’s basically all there is to the exchange. I would disagree. Poems are fundamental in that way, and the monetary aspect of the exchange is non-existent. In poetry it’s all, entirely, about something more fundamentally personal and human. What mags or journals publish writers you would like to be in dialogue with, see your work in dialogue with? Who’s addressing the human issues (which might be bicycling, it might be anything), and making points that your work might contribute to? Which mags or journals publish interesting writers saying something interesting—or useful?
What are your goals or objects for the piece? Mags and journals have discrete purposes and utility. They might focus on academic-literary material (publish or perish, university journals for example, read by students and academics), they might be local/regional, serving some sector in the area (newsletters for groups like the Sierra Club, or “Brooklyn & Boyle”), they might be buddhist, political, issue-oriented, etc., and how do you see your work covalent, or contributing to that type of thematic discourse?
What axes do you grind, or aesthetics do you promote as a writer, or as a person? Literary publications almost always promote certain aesthetics based on generally consensual assumptions of some usually undefined aesthetic “school”, or by generation—writers of a certain time, or region/area, or academic lifestyle, or ethnicity(s). Needless to say that most “mainstream” publications that I publish in are 90% white (and sometimes non-whites published in these publications are foreign nationals, sometimes in translation), while journals which publish lots of non-white writers are those that identify an explicit need to do so (in ’09, I published pieces in Asian American and Latino journals, including the bilingual English/Spanish journal, Mandorla)—which function as a kind of affirmative action in democratic cultural representation. Just as much mags and journals have thematic niches, they develop aesthetic ones as well. Again the question there is, how do you see your own writing covalent or contributing to the discourse and dialogue being developed around particular aesthetics by specific mags or journals?
Maybe I should admit at this point that when I began first publishing in mags and journals I answered probably none of these questions. Instead, in practice, I proceeded haphazardly. Here’s my actual practice:
1. I gave away my work in bulk, sometimes entire notebooks, to friends who expressed an interest (otherwise I usually threw them away). In high school, it was one of these friends who was working on a Little Tokyo community journal, Gidra, who published some of my first pieces.
2. For a few years, as I accumulated more and more actual typewritten manuscripts (I used to buy portable manual typewriters at yard sales for $15 or $20 and then literally wear them out) I would gather manila envelopes of pieces and, going through the Dustbooks (Paradise CA) Directory of Small Press/Magazine Editors & Publishers, which is organized alphabetically, I sent work to random mags starting with “A” and working my way to “Z”—and then backwards from “Z.” Starting with “A” resulted, for example, of a poem in “Poetry Australia” in 1977. Usually I heard nothing back; occasionally I received (sometimes years later) two copies of an issue in which some piece of mine appeared.
3. I had always read small press books, not only because that’s where most of the poetry in America and the world is published, but because I felt (and later confirmed), that that’s where the freshest, sharpest edge of innovation in writing is published first. I started looking for mags and journals that published those kinds of writers and started targeting those publications to send my work. After a few years, I stopped using the Dustbooks directory.
4. Now I’m back to square one again, as I mostly focus on book publication, and lately only send out poems and other pieces of writing to friends, or others, who personally ask me for my work. I’m always glad to do that. In some way, those friends and editors who ask me for work are answering those three questions above in some way.
So, the short answer is what axe (I’m thinking of Kafka’s famous axe) do you want to swing?
My view of the field is—maybe like most people’s—partial, stale, provincial to an extent, unsystematic. I am a supporter (member) via donations of Small Press Distribution in Berkeley, which periodically sends me their catalog, and if I’m in a good bookstore I sometimes look at the journals and mags, but although the Internet is at my fingertips I never browse it for on-line journals. Not sure why, but I don’t read for pleasure on-line, only for research.
What mags and journals have I enjoyed, lately? Bomb, the Journal of Protest and Aesthetics, Sickly Season, Orion, Mandorla, Xcp: Cross Cultural Poetics and its on-line co-publication xcp: streetnotes (http://xcp.bfn.org/streetnotes.html), McSweeney’s, Hyphen, Poetry Flash, http://www.molossus.wordpress.com (Molossus), High Country News, Polygon (my daughter co-founded it with her friends), Amerasia Journal, Sierra, and random others; most of those I actually subscribe to, among others. I used to collect piles of mags I never read, New Yorker, Fence, NACLA Report on the Americas. Now I just get the odd issue, including recycling my mom’s subscription to the L.A. Times, reading the news a couple days late.
One off the top? Check out Mark Nowak’s Cross Cultural Poetics or on-line to xcp:streetnotes.
Happy Birthday Umeko! your birthdays
often happen out at sea or far away
and we’re always thinking we miss them;
once at Sunset Kaiser, the doctor and nurse
told your mom, “Don’t push, don’t push!”
yammered, going on about movies they saw—
Your crown emerged, black hair wild from
a rough night’s sleep, pinched eyes swollen
shut like you were trying to get some rest—
She groaned and heaved and out you
flew, the doctor made a slippery grab,
almost dropping you, catching an arm
and a leg, all slathered with blood and
whitish foam, I didn’t have to dive on the
concrete to catch you, thinking, “Kaiser!”
Just like the other birthdays lately, you
didn’t get much outside getting stabbed
for a PKU blood test and other sad tests,
or new hospital diapers with a thin dry
cotton blanket. Your mom said later,
marveling at your marvelous Foster head,
“That felt like getting hit by a two-by-four.”
You fed right away and rested, no stopping
you, a coffee cup, canned beer or dog
leash in hand, the years wash down as cloud
banks pour over Deer Mountain, each
moment glistens like wet moss, green and real.
Ketchikan or Behm Canal disappear in the
mist, and you’re busy doing stuff, “That’s new!”
you said—(maybe at dangling purple bells
of bird vetch—an invasive species) blooms of
milk vetch or fireweed, when a shining rainbow
juts out of Tongass Strait because of an opening
in the sky. Even if it’s just an ordinary day,
in your big black truck as you drive the one
highway, your garden redolent of summers.