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she buses the tables, pertly beautiful clad in black, black hair tied in a knot on top.
i see she’s the age of my daughters, i see it in the side of her face as she goes by.
i think i know something about her, about her life, she’s young—starting a new life.
like my daughters recently moved to far-flung corners of the continent, starting new lives.
how exciting it all was when i was that age! (i was already a father; everything was new and the world large).
this young woman bustles gracefully in silence, eyes demurely downcast, but i believe this about her.
like my girls who have waited tables, this waitressing job might be a fleeting moment among new adventures.
what a wild world it was, when i was that age! this one is that young, so beautifully alert.
valley boulevard, traffic, shining in the sun on the other side of the windows.
of course i know nothing of the waitress or her life; she clears a table and carries dishes into the kitchen.
Date: Friday, November 21st
Time: 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m (reception to follow)
Place: UCLA Humanities Building, Room 193
Blacktop Ecologies: Los Angeles Poetry and Poetics is a one-day symposium of writers active in Los Angeles today. Though largely drawn from the interaction of poetry and teaching, the poets range from highly experimental, even “conceptual,” writers of lyric, narrative and political poetry, as well as translation and performance writing. There is no “subject” for the symposium — it is not concerned with Los Angeles or even its poetical history — but a snapshot of poets in Los Angeles today, how they think and make their work. Each poet will make a short presentation of their recent thinking and read selections of their work; each “lane” will be followed by a question and answer (for passenger loading only) period.
Breakfast will be available starting at 9.
Lunch will be available starting at 12.
Blacktop Ecologies: Los Angeles Poetry and Poetics
10-11:45: Lane 1
Aaron Kunin teaches at Pomona College (Milton, English literature 1500-1800, Poetics). His works include the novel The Mandarin (2008), and three books of poetry, Folding Ruling Star (2005), The Sore Throat & Other Poems (2010) and the forthcoming Cold Genius (2014). Grace Period: Notebooks, 1998-2007, a series of aphorisms, was published in 2013. He is a widely published reviewer of poetry and art.
Maggie Nelson teaches at CalArts (Poetics, Non-fiction) and is the author of five books of nonfiction and four books of poetry. Her most recent book is The Argonauts, a work of “autotheory” about gender, sexuality, sodomitical maternity, queer family, and the limitations and possibilities of language (May 2015). Her nonfiction books include The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning (2012), Bluets (2009), and Women, the New York School, and Other True Abstractions (2007). Her poetry books include Something Bright, Then Holes (2007); Jane: A Murder (2005), The Latest Winter (2003), and Shiner (2001).
Andrew Maxwell is co-founder and -editor of the poetry journal The Germ (1997-2005) and presently founder and co-curator of the publishing collective and reading series at the Poetic Research Bureau. Long an advocate of local, small run publishing, he is the author of two collections of poetry, the aphoristic Peeping Mot (2013) and the forthcoming Candor is the brightest shield (Dec 2014).
Harryette Mullen teaches at UCLA (African American Literature, Creative Writing) and is the author of Urban Tumbleweed (2013), Muse & Drudge (1995), S*PeRM**K*T (1992), Trimmings (1991), and Tree Tall Woman (1981). Trimmings, S*PeRM**K*T, and Muse & Drudge were collected into Recyclopedia (2006) which received a PEN Beyond Margins Award. In 2002, she published both Blues Baby: Early Poems and the widely acclaimed Sleeping with the Dictionary. Her selected essays and interviews, The Cracks Between What We Are and What We Are Supposed to Be, was published in 2012.
12:45-2:30: Lane 2
Christine Wertheim teaches at CalArts (Image+Text, Feminisms, Aesthetic Theories) and is a poet, performer, artist, critic and curator. Her books are mUtter-bAbel (2013) and +|’me’S-pace (2007), and she has edited the literary anthologies Feminaissance (2010), The n/Oulipean Analects (2007), and Séance (2006), the last two with Matias Viegener. Crochet Coral Reef, with Margaret Wertheim, is forthcoming in 2015. She has a PhD in literature and semiotics from Middlesex University. With her sister Margaret, she co-directs the Institute For Figuring, a non-profit dedicated to the intersections of math, science, art and pedagogy whose solo shows include NYU Abu Dhabi, the Smithsonian, Science Museum Dublin and Hayward Gallery London.
Daniel Tiffany teaches at USC (Modern Poetry and Poetics) and has published several works of important, idiosyncratic literary criticism: My Silver Planet: A Secret History of Poetry and Kitsch (2014), Infidel Poetics: Riddles, Nightlife, Substance (2009), Toy Medium: Materialism and Modern Lyric (2000) and Radio Corpse: Imagism and the Cryptaesthetic of Ezra Pound (1998). HIs most recent book of poetry is Neptune Park (2013), preceded by Privado (2013), The Dandelion Clock (2010) and Puppet Wardrobe (2006). He has also published translations of texts by Sophocles and the Italian poet Cesare Pavese, as well as Georges Bataille’s pornographic tale, Madame Edwarda.
David Lloyd teaches at UCR (English) and is the author of numerous books of criticism including Nationalism and Minor Literature: James Clarence Mangan and the Emergence of Irish Cultural Nationalism (1987), Anomalous States: Irish Writing and the Postcolonial Moment (1993), Culture and the State (co-authored with Paul Thomas, 1997), Ireland After History (2000) and Irish Times: Temporalities of Modernity (2008). His most recent book is Irish Culture and Colonial Modernity, 1800-2000: Transformations of Oral Space (2011). Arc & Sill: Poems 1979-2009 appeared in 2012 from Shearsman Books, a collection of his many chapbook publications. A new sequence, Kodalith, appeared with the online press Smithereens in 2014. He has long been the organizer of the Effie Street Reading series.
Diane Ward, early associated with the Language poets, is the author of numerous books and chapbooks including: Theory of Emotion (1979), Never without One (1984), Relation (1989), Human Ceiling (1995), Imaginary Movie (1992), Exhibition (1995), Portrait As If Through My Own Voice (2001), Flim-Yoked Scrim (2006) and No List (No List) (2008). Her work is anthologized in Out of Everywhere: linguistically innovative poetry by women in North America & the UK (1996) and Moving Borders: Three Decades of Innovative Writing by Women (1998). She is presently pursuing a degree in geography at UCLA.
2:45-4:30: Lane 3
Sesshu Foster has taught composition and literature in East LA since 1985. He is the author of the book-length poetry sequences City Terrace Field Manual (1996) and World Ball Notebook (2008) as well as American Loneliness: Selected Poems (2006). He co-edited, with Michelle T. Clinton and Naomi Quinonez, the anthology Invocation L.A.: Urban Multicultural Poetry (1989) and is the author of the novel Atomik Aztex published by City Lights Publishing in 2005.
Jen Hofer is adjunct faculty in the MFA Writing Program at CalArts and teaches part-time in the Graduate Writing Program at Otis, and is a poet, translator, bookmaker, social justice interpreter, public letter-writer, knitter, urban cyclist, and co-founder (with John Pluecker) of the language justice and literary activism collaborative Antena, which recently had an installation at the Blaffer Art Museum at University of Houston. Her latest translations include the chapbook En las maravillas/In Wonder (2012); Ivory Black, a translation of Negro marfil by Myriam Moscona (2011); sexoPUROsexoVELOZ and Septiembre, a translation from Dolores Dorantes by Dolores Dorantes (2008); and lip wolf, a translation of Laura Solórzano’s lobo de labio (2007). Her most recent poetry books include the chapbooks “The Missing Link” (2014), “all at once and one at a time” (2013), and “Front Page News” (2013), and a book-length sequence of anti-war poem-manifestos, one (2009).
Will Alexander is an incredibly prolific poet often associated with Surrealism and the Negritude but a native of Los Angeles. His books of poetry include: Vertical Rainbow Climber (1987), Arcane Lavender Morals (1994), The Stratospheric Canticles (1995), Asia & Haiti (1995), Above the Human Nerve Domain (1998), The Sri Lankan Loxodrome (2009), Compression and Purity (2011) and The Brimstone Boat (2012). In addition, he’s published the essay collections Towards the Primeval Lightning Field (1998) and Mirach Speaks to his Grammatical Transparents (2011) as well as works of fiction and theater.
Paul Vangelisti is the Chair of Creative Writing at Otis College and has long been a staple — as writer, editor, curator of radio plays and publisher — of the Los Angeles Poetry community. He was co-editor of the literary magazine Invisible City from 1971-82, editor of Ribot, the annual publication of the College of Neglected Science from 1992-2002, and presently editor of or, a journal of poetry and translation. He is the author of twenty books of poetry, including Alphabets: 1986-1996 (1999), Days Shadows Pass (2007), Two (2010) and his selected poems Embarrassment of Survival (2001). His editing activities include Specimen ’73, Abandoned Lattitudes (including work by John Thomas and Robert Crosson, 1983) and Los Angeles Poetry, Place as Purpose: Poetry from the Western States (with Martha Ronk, 2002). He is currently editing, with Luigi Ballerini, a five-volume anthology of contemporary American poetry from 1960 to the present, Nuova Poesia Americana, for Mondadori publishing, Milan. He is also editor of Transbluesency: The Selected Poetry of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones (1961-1995) and the forthcoming selection of Baraka’s poetry, S O S: Poems, 1961-2013.
for more information: https://blacktopecologies.wordpress.com/
“Audacious and fearless, lyrical and brilliant.”
Joe Milazzo’s debut novel Crepuscule W/Nellieexplores, via imagined as well as reimagined circumstances and incidents, the relationships between jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk, his wife Nellie, and his patron and confidante, the Baroness Pannonica De Koenigswarter. (Crepuscule W/Nellie is the first volume in the #RECURRENT novels series, edited by Janice Lee)
“Milazzo dug this lost recording of the Monk/Monk/Pannonica trio—dug as in figured, as in got into, as in exhumed—out that ‘dustbin’ folks talk about. And since the composition called Crepescule W/Nellie is this time a story storying history, the good mess Milazzo so expertly messes with alchemizes the linguistic odds-and-ends that make a vernacular both high-falluting and low-down; the factual scraps that member a fiction into a rich speculation; and the individuals ignored so long they must come back to us in books. Our author has given us a fascinating one. Dig it, dig it, dig it.” —Douglas Kearney, author of The Black Automaton and PATTER 3
“The challenge in writing on behalf of Joe Milazzo’s fiction is finding the language to convey how special it is, but let us begin with audacious and fearless, lyrical and brilliant, superbly imaginative and assuredly accomplished—one of tomorrow’s great novelists on the cusp of his moment.” —Steve Erickson, Author of Zeroville and Our Ecstatic Days
“… [A] bountifully generative crumbling-down. Crepuscule W/Nellie reminds vividly of Duchamp’sNude Descending a Staircase, No. 2, where motion is a collapse that does nothing but give back form to that very motion.” —Achraf A. El Bahi
“A polyvocal narrative that’s part Faulkner à la midcentury Manhattan’s jazz epicenters, part early 90’s avant-pop crossed with Black Mountain poetics, and part ghost, Joe Milazzo’s genrebendingCrepuscule W/Nellie boldly re-imagines the relationship between fact and fiction.” —Claire Donato, author of Burial
“Joe Milazzo’s Crepuscule W/Nellie is a blast. So rarely do we get a novel this momentous, challenging, ambitious—Crepuscule W/Nellie transcends expectation. I’m moved by the fierce acuity of the maximalist prose, never less than adroit and vital as it parses a famous triangle between the maestro, Thelonious Monk, his wife Nellie, and the Bebop Baroness, Panonica de Koenigswarter, the most storied music patron of the 20th century. Triangulating the infinite personal declensions between struggling black musicians and the white patrons, between the women and their men, Joe Milazzo’s language brilliantly echolocates that essentially American distance, sounding out an American loneliness that is with us still.” —Sesshu Foster, author of World Ball Notebook and Atomik Aztex
“Joe Milazzo’s Crepuscule W/Nellie takes as its great and original subject a care-giver’s, literally home-maker’s immensely improvising relation to a creative genius, a demanding, needy, powerful, enigmatic, often disappointing man who was her husband. That is what this long, intimate, painfully American, many-voiced rumination of a novel is about – though also, and indirectly, about much that is implied by its title, which was first that of Thelonious Monk’s shortest major composition, one of my favorites, with its outer, measured clarity and inner, off-balance infinities and shadows. Has Milazzo added the lyrics? I think rather that he has written a deep, interior book about lives that included jazz and everything else. A book that will last. “ —Joseph McElroy, author of Cannonball and Women and Men
About the author:
Joe Milazzo is a writer, editor, educator and designer. His writings on music and experimental sound practice have appeared in Copper Press, Paris Transatlantic Magazine, One Final Note and Bagatellen,the latter for which he served as Editor-In-Chief. Milazzo’s literary criticism has been published in Electronic Book Review, The Dallas Morning News, The Collagist, andHTMLGIANT. His fiction and poetry appears in Drunken Boat, Black Clock, Antennae, Super Arrow, H_NGM_N, kill author, Exits Are, the anthology Dirty : Dirty (also from Jaded Ibis Press), and elsewhere. Milazzo holds a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science (MLS) from the University Of North Texas and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Writing from the California Institute Of The Arts.
- Publication Date:
- Oct 07 2014
- 1937543609 / 9781937543600
- Page Count:
- Binding Type:
- US Trade Paper
- Trim Size:
- 6″ x 9″
- Black and White
- Related Categories:
- Fiction / General
Order here: https://www.createspace.com/4930152
an excerpt, from The American Literary Review: http://www.americanliteraryreview.com/joe-milazzo—from-crepuscule-w-nellie-jaded-ibis-press-november-2014.html
From Crepuscule W/ Nellie (Jaded Ibis Press, November 2014)
Monk plays and John listens. It is all new, but Monk’s playing most so. Monk’s new composition commences with an entirely impromptu blue lick played almost into parody. Its tonal center almost splits into a clash as the notes descend the mournful length of the prefatory melody. In it, John can hear the cast iron plate hovering over the piano’s tonewood, the spruce he used to conceive of as the instrument’s soul, only now he feels his notions diverting. Wouldn’t a body, even one unseen, resonate more? His new tenor, does it take to its idleness? Monk paces out the lick again, bending every note. And John continues, not knowing how or what to play. And John is lulled even more, by this start of song but by the haze accentuating the proximities of dusk within the apartment. In a sudden something, there is a crashing of pitches, then Nellie pushing back the door.
Oblongs of wan illumination cross those richer shades that have been filtered through the glass of her window onto stacks and crumbs. Nellie is entering—and the riff is just then spiked with unpremeditated dissonance. John sees Monk jolted out of his hands at the sound of the apartment’s aperture choking open to admit his wife, a scent whose pungency John cannot quite place (although he knows it is clean), the hall, the not-so distant clamor of Monk’s neighbors also coming home. Yet Monk’s muff somehow makes sense, it is not hectic, rowdydowdy, John can sense that immediately. Monk plays it all—the oddment of blues, the hesitation, his wife’s aleatoric contribution—again, halts, and suddenly turns sideways on his bench, craning over in a scramble for quick notation. Monk upsets some funny pages pooling with Silly Putty and a steel-strung ukelele with the white hibiscus painted on its face so that some outer petals and the tip of the stamen brush the sounding hole. He reaches not his portfolio but a glass-less picture frame, the kind you stand up on a dresser or mantel, that at first appears to be empty. But Monk pops something free. A card, not the icy blue of SOCIAL SECURITY, but orange, and with Monk’s name nearly obscured by an almost legible brownish smear reading REVOKED. Monk takes the card and places it on the piano’s otherwise vacant music rack. The cardboard backing in the frame now shows, and to John, where it is untouched, which is all over, it is raisin-y, speckled. Monk fishes a yellowish-brownish (“Maize”) crayon out of his inside breast pocket as Nellie approaches the near wall. She rips down the calendar. She does not pick it up either, from where it plops face-down on the green warp and blue weft, overlapping in midnight checks, of a bathrobe’s incidental tartan, piled there between the calendar and the floor’s defiling. Monk writes, and keeps writing, and John tries not to be startled, but he is.
Nellie drags towards the kitchenette. To put leftovers on? Nellie has no energy to scowl as she glances back, roughly in their direction. (John wonders what direction really means in Monk’s apartment). Monk still scribbling horizontal lines, John wisely—so Nellie agrees—swallows his greeting. I’ve seen you in your night clothes. Damn. Haven’t I?
Monk props up his notes. Nellie has returned along her supper-ward route and now takes her routine place at the window, waiting for this urban sunset to finish off the warm, dry day that has finally come. Monk hums his stuttering line once, nods with cute finality, stares up at John with a prompting roll of his eyes. John takes his eyes off of Nellie, his only eyes. Monk pushes John’s horn up to his mouth.
— Fractional. All of it. Bear in mind, bearcat. Fractional.
John opens. Monk hammers out that down-in-the-dumps contraction. This time, Monk slows the aspects down. John plays those first five notes, and his version struggles to lift off in a momentum appropriately contra- Monk. Repeating, Monk includes—too rapidly for John yet, who blats a tenor pejorative — that jarring ba-da-da-DOMP in the progression. The ba-da-da-DOMP is reiterated, Monk accents the composite of beats by wobbling his head at a reduced rate, his lips pinioning his tongue fast. ba- da-da-DOMP: Monk plays it so methodically, in a sort of non-tempo, with such misanthropic clarity that salad bowl clatters quietly against the tall glass mottled cream inside with the dehydrated foam of the Ballentine that Monk favors but Nellie will not buy except when it has been put on special, and a fork unglued from mayonnaise crustings makes a sympathetically sterling echo in the recess of a plate. Monk stops, hands raised, just as John licks the corners of his mouth.
— Hold up.
Monk budges his head back, as if he were canting some immobile feature straight to the ceiling. But John feels Monk is leaning back far enough to look at his wife. Just briefly.
— OK. All right. Hold up.
Still leaning like so, almost in a pose of rapture or supplication except his eyes are wide, Monk plays what must follow the ba-da-da-DOMP. He builds down or backwards ( John can’t decide, not like this, still getting acquainted with this tenor, on the spot) to where the first phrase might have led until Nellie exerted her abrupt concision upon it. Monk comes again to a now- modified ba-da-da-DOMP. This rhythmic anomaly is now all the things this tune could have been had Monk sought it—John hears it, I hear it, man, I hear [italicize this “hear”] it—sought it and impelled its aberrations towards other resolutions. Monk plays again, easing. Monk topples forward and balls up the aluminum hulls (and this is what John estimates) so their sympathetic tingles (both visual and aural) won’t distract either man. But, as he does crumple—and with his left hand now striding, strolling alone, at an absurdly low octave—Monk essays the melody so far once again. Monk lets the whole thing, this new song, stoop its way into a melody so wordless it must be a lament, and it does lament, this a melody which cannot be freighted with any words because its rhythms do not meet the mouth. So John marvels. It is very long, this line, with no feeling of approximate resolution. ba-da- da-DOMP is ba-da-dada-DOMP suddenly, but this expansion is no ending. Solo piano like this, and almost rubato, John knows the tune sounds right but positively stripped, clumsily disrobed, shiveringly tense with attempts to cover itself, but unfurled somehow, maybe hesitantly but all the same.
And the dim reddish light of an awareness reaches John from a nearness that yet stands utterly outside his suit and his skin.
I thought I was. All this time, how I thought I was the one watching them. But no. It’s not that there’s no one. It just isn’t me.
JZLS16 (Stereo Master / Take #17)
Nellie is not really listening. Absently, she has brought with her into the living room the fat, sauce- and defrost- coated spoon that has just scampered in four separate pots. On the yet-untidied floor, there is a fan of brown- tinted and chestnut-backed photographs. Some of the pasteboard has been handled too often, the layers of pulp and inlaid ink proceeding to unattach and hint at all the information behind the studio’s and photographer’s imprint, and behind the members of Nellie’s pre-Monk family as well, in all their permutations—Sunday dress, overalls, step-fathers, aunts, nephews, sisters, Big Papaw sporting a dickey and holding his cantankerous mandolin on his thigh, his brother standing in a posture of shy pride, with his arm sweethearting the eyelet of a long wooden propeller, all four feet and who knows how many pounds of it canted 1 to 7 rather than 12 to 6, but expertly carved all the same, and the little girl, not so little she should still be clutching a doll, raggedy and eyeless, a little girl Nellie has convinced herself grew to be Effie’s mother—posed and portraitured, as though their tempers were one temper: imperturbable. These families disappear and reappear around split corners in the heap, frontispieces, looking like themselves or not in the stack dispersed when her husband dashed them to the ground. Nellie has not yet marked them who and when, and she may never get around to it. She will not look at them; she already knows what looks out of them at her.
Somehow, I’ve cheated on Monk. I’ve taken his confidence and promised him something. But I’ve been a busybody and now it doesn’t fit him anymore. I’ve missed the ways in which he grew, and I don’t think I’ll ever account for them.
But Nellie, she had mentioned nothing to that Hippocratic vivisectionist, that silver-haired impresario, that Teutonic whatever he was. She had rehearsed so diligently. Oh, but she had only rehearsed under the assumption that, when the farce would being to flounder into its momentum, she would be writing all the punchlines. Knock-knock. Humble Nellie, Tame Nellie, she had answered, had practiced how to command a mutability so forthright as to neutralize anyone’s aspersions. Nellie had decided that, if the inevitable asking did come, she would talk about her history as if who she is now had always been present in her life, like some guardian angel. She confirmed it to herself: most people would find that comforting, but this Doctor, I bet it would just gall him. That had been wager. It was a strategy not terribly elaborate, but, Nellie had credited herself, it was a self-conscious strategy. If only it had not disappointed her.
Monk plays, and Nellie is not really listening. But she knows what in media res means. And don’t some of Monk’s piano stories—the stories he tells in playing what he does—speak to you in just this same way, telling you as much about what you’re not going to hear as they tell you everything else?
That Baroness, pretending to be a matchmaker for a man and woman who’ve been married all these years.
My goodness, what is he doing now? What is that racket? I bet Brahms never made such racket.
Maybe, Nellie lectures herself, if she was ever sure of what her husband was thinking or feeling, she could rest. Has she ever, say, in even one overwrought minute—of ecstasy, of rage, of aspiration, of reliance, of shared event— known Monk? Really known him? Is it even possible? Nellie does not want to control Monk, not like she does. But she is compelled to wonder: what is he thinking? Is his thinking feeling? Can’t I ever be vigilant enough?
John has—and he doesn’t know how—determined just the right time, fleeting anyway, to blend his tones with Monk’s. Playing, harmonizing, John tries to chip against a certain sharpness in Monk’s diction, yet the tenor’s unfamiliar timbre keeps him apprehensive. Jesus, he hasn’t played a horn this big since the days he subbed on baritone, sandwiches at breakfast- lunch-and-dinner, chewing on only one side of his mouth, marking time on the G.I. Bill in Black Bottom. So it’s funny, so-sad-it’s-funny, that the lid of Monk’s piano is strewn just like the bars he strolled and moaned on then, an organ shouting his march on. John has to snort a chuckle up through his nose and the glottal into which his saxophone translates the aborted humor results in a unity of line that John, catching up without thinking to, realizes makes the song.
BA-DA-DA-DOMP. John sees Monk sneak a less facetious backwards glance at Nellie. His wife, her own looks are fixed outside.
The blues section picks up steam, a vamp slinking more like the blues John more often resists. He flexes his diaphragm. The song’s earlier breadth of general caricature has slimmed to something specific but sensual. Now the helpless, cat’s-tongue-rough luxuriousness of the larger sax’s voicings— John’s new voice; courtesy of Bean, he gets it, he’s being offered a second chance at puberty, and thus at exiting it a more auspicious man—John can’t help it, but his own sound that he’s hearing suggests to him Nellie’s shape as she sits alone, twi-lit, in that damn window. What is she looking at? Is she looking for something? No, she’s not yearning for her freedom, not so much, she’s just looking. I know that look. She’s just looking for all those places from which she will have to gather her thoughts, gather them here. She’s already found that place. Perhaps only when her eyelids droop and she’s run the gamut of her household occupations, maybe later, then Nellie’s looking will become a looking for Monk. John turns back to Monk. John looks at Monk, maybe for further direction, but he sees Nellie without looking at her, and no other images are superimposed on this reality: Monk, making conclusions. John’s upper lip pops off the tenor’s mouthpiece as Monk repeats his ending. John is convinced, he always was… these are Nellie’s nights in these rooms, her “Where are you?”s broadcast soundlessly back at herself from all over the city.
There is no solo by either man. The theme is played over and over. Each refinement and modulation of the tempo, the abnormal precision of the syncopations that bridge the short A and the long, long B, the elisions of the flats in the second measure, and goddamn if those aren’t more parallel sixths (John recognizes the Monkish apothegm), all of this will be remembered because it’s happening now will be made to leave such a heavy, such an unshakeable trace. And that limbering, stout dissonance, the sketchy ba- da-da-DOMP… ba-da-dada-DOMP… it becomes the pivot of the piece, it is what keeps the chromatic line so well-proportioned even as it stretches. And this crucial chain of events can still be exercised only by Monk hands, criss-crossed and pacing with fallen arches.
John does not have to hear himself anymore. But he needs to hear and not see Nellie. Even if it’s only with recalcitrance, he needs Nellie to acknowledge her song. Now? Now? What’s she doing? Fey John tilts his horn, moving it fully out of the attention his eyes are focusing towards: Monk, and piano, and song, John needs to feel her. Come on, Nellie. The music he’s participating in, it seems gradually to coil out from the center of the dirty room, wreathing, finding its embracing way around the accumulated, unsorted, and blunted—or is it, John asks himself, soft? Tender?—clutter of these two lives lived together. Here. The windings, they trace another apartment the exact dimensions of the one inside of which they are propagating. The windings, they touch this woman with a grandmother’s hump gestating in her back, they touch her enough, John can see it even through the song’s blindfold, a phantom massage, they touch her enough to make her slowly swivel her harshly-shorn head around.
Receiving the imagined gleam of Nellie’s eyes, John fluffs a note. Breath tumbles out his mouth as his teeth’s grip on the horn’s mouthpiece slackens. A microphone would hardly detect the leakage, or take it for the half- roundhouse pull of a brush against a ride cymbal, but the suddenness of this song that wants to lose John knows the noise and knows it as a glaringly convenient excuse to stop its reel and start all over without him. John looks to Nellie. She hasn’t noticed. Or she doesn’t want him to fuss over how she has noticed. How much. John plays the hushed coda to his fumbled exhalation: he sprains up to a ramrod stance and, still looking to Nellie, asks too much.
— Monk, man, where are we, does what we’re playing even have a name?
Nellie yanks her hair into a painful bun and holds it in place at the base of her skull, her knuckles bulging whitely. John, please stop staring at me. I’m too ugly. Too ugly for that. Nellie and her skinny legs. Nellie, his wife, she has half a mind to think her own long immobilities with Monk, inadvertent or not, keep her from knowing—feeling—whether she has really moved at all. Her other half tells her her self will stir when Monk makes the move her stillness begs him to make.
Without taking his eyes from the keyboard, pulsating black and white, nicotine and caffeine, the salon piano’s damping pedal so loose that it makes it look as if the whole apparatus is inhaling and exhaling as he prods, Nellie’s husband sings.
— Fast falls the eventide; The darkness deepens
Is he singing? Is it John? No, it is Monk, Monk alone singing.
— When other helpers fail and comforts flee, help of the helpless, oh, abide with me. Point me to the skies, earth’s vain shadows flee. I’ll triumph still, if only you’ll abide with me.
Coagula Curatorial 974 Chung King Rd, Los Angeles, California 90012
Join us in Los Angeles on Friday night, November 7th to celebrate the “Ping-Pong” Release Party and the 50th Anniversary of “Tropic of Cancer” Ruling for Free Speech and against Censorship
Some important points about the reading Friday night:
1. It is a fundraiser for the Henry Miller Library around the issue of free speech/banned books to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the the Supreme Court ruling on Tropic of Cancer, and the 80th anniversary of the publication of TOC, this will also be the release party for Ping-Pong journal of art and literature.
2. Each reader/artist to read/talk about a selection from a banned book/poem/work of art that meant something to them in perhaps a transformative way. Then they will also read an original piece(s).
This event will be really epic, and it is for a really good cause: the non-profit cultural arts center that is the Henry Miller Library–stalwart champions of artists and free speech for over 30 years!!! Special guests TBA. Food and drinks!
Maria Garcia Teutsch