Sunday, December 17, 2006

Todd Moore


The Kid followed Three Fingered Jack Slocam down the alley that separated the Desert Rose Saloon and Tess Wilson's Big Trail Gambling Hall. Slocum didn't even know the Kid was there until he heard a boot scrape dirt. When he turned the first thing he saw was the Kid's crooked teeth shining in the red light coming through a window in Tess' joint. He smiled and said, Billy. The Kid said, I'm curious. How did you ever lose those two fingers on your right hand? Shot off, Jack replied. But, you knew that. Sure, the Kid said. But you have to say something to be cordial before you kill a man. At the word kill, Jack went for his pistol, then twisted sideways with three slugs in his guts and chest. How come, he asked bleeding into the dirt? It was your hand, the Kid said. It gave me bad dreams. According to Tess, this was one of the Kid's unrecorded kills.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Bryn Fortey: The Great Grey Hope Resurfaces

I've had a few enquiries (or is that "inquiries"?) in the poetry community about the mysterious disappearance of that near-mythical Welsh bard Bryn Fortey, publisher/ editor of the best-ever poetry magazine "Outlaw". It seemed to some that he just dropped off the map, after breathing new vigour into the post-Beat scene with the aforementioned little mag.
Why are they asking me? Well, in global terms, Bryn and I are near-neighbours for one, him being just a short hop down a long road and a few jolting hill crests away. And I made no secret of the fact that I admire the hell out of him, and may not even have been writing today without the encouragement he gave me to continue when absolutely everybody was treating my poetry like barely-warmed-over dogshit.
But anyway. I had a note from him today following on from one of mine and he has asked me to extend his apologies to anyone who was expecting correspondence from him and didn't get it. Aside from having a few problems at home, which I'll leave him to tell you about, Bryn had a mountain of correspondence (inevitable when you are the Great Grey Hope of poets everywhere thanks to your impeccable judgement and counter-cultural daring), and he just fell behind with it. Happens to us all: I have inadvertently insulted many a poet, including some major leaguers, by losing their correspondence, losing their submissions, taking their money and giving them nothing in return. We are poets who run magazines, after all: you don't get too many head wraiths who are also great office workers.
He will catch up on his correspondence when and if he can. The important thing is that he's still with us, and according to the note I had, he may even get back into the game sometime. And when that happens we'll all get a lesson in how it's supposed to be done.
The post-Beat scene awaits his return with beer bottle suspended in mid-air, roach flame winking in the fading light.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Book Proposal

A note for the gent who wrote to me today with the book proposal about a certain American actor. I won't publish your name just in case you are legit and you wish for the project to remain confidential. I know the publishing game works that way, especially when big money is involved as it would undoubtedly be with the actor in question. But you know who you are.

You will appreciate, kind sir, that I get a lot of emails making similar proposals, and I have to be careful about responding to them too rashly, in this age of internet scamming. Someone out there might be offering me a phoney deal so they can collect my banking details and filch my vast fortune.

If you are legit, and it does sound on the surface like a very interesting idea, can you email me your postal address so I can write to you? Snail mail is so much safer. I will not, of course, divulge your address to anybody, because unlike these internet scammers I'm not an unprincipled criminal scumbag. If you are able to do that, my friend--provide your postal address--I think we will be able to do business.


Monday, December 04, 2006



herald the coming
or such as you saw -
millions of thighs carrying shit-filled underwear
for garbage dumpsters smeared with egg-yolk-tagging
& corona of shell blinking through -
the French laveriette barked "aucun etranger de facon!"
to requests of scrub
soak /sink /dry on a line
& tho' not a lick of French to save rats from skinning
do commuters know,
they understand the ridding of shit
as their own task.

only oil-men hang Gandhi's corpse by his own homespun loincloth
& hand-crush his folded spectacles
belching their oleo-oh! mouths gripping cigar
stuffed with Apollinaire's fingertips & shrapnel-skull
as they go chuckling :
"the old brownie-baldy is nothing without his glasses ;
a saint my ass! Punjab can't saw outta the eyes Jesus gave heem! what kinda holy man
needs glasses to see shit in the toilet?"

when i found there was such a thing as "pen" and "paper" ,
( i recall tonguing sharp protrusions from gums - first appearance of TEETH
coinciding -)
boy did the shit diaper gallop furious!
these visions no-one saw or stuck around long enough to hear!: beheaded soldiers
hanging in
trees! ,
battleships passing between houses & i could see Mary there combing hair through the
mast, the window & drapes her mother pulled apart at dawn !
dead great-grandmother knitting me grey sweater there at the foot of my bed & boy-
body - couldn't wear it around mother for she would notice & say : "where did you
get that sweater? loose threads - wide neck - tattered even new - (sniff) smells like
Chesterfields!? where did you find this Paul?"

so good luck when i try to donate old clothes to Goodwill charity -
drive me a garbage sac fulla treats for the naked
only to hand some sweet red-smocked fluttering-nose-haired memere a sac of air
she balls up & tosses to waste.
'swhat happens when the dead make yr clothes for ya : nothing's ever ill-fitting eternal
& better buy yr underwear at full price.
so i wrote - wrote it all & my socks kept warm feet in winter sleep where i found
spiral notebooks the immensity of palm sandwiches on Sunday snow;
little pocket notebooks & you could buy shirts with full-frontal pockets over nipple!
be a regular Wild Bill Hickock of the Mounting Poetry Outlaw Re-emergence ;
bells instead of bones!

shirts right with pockets fit enough for the world through human eyes remind ;
i could still hug girls & dream of open-eyed kisses without an "excuse me for a

i forgot more than i give you.....a letter for my sister saying : "no one more sturdy
during the old man's licking another woman's sag than you that night at dining table
while football on muddy-television-turf & mom crying in her hands"
- just remembered.

i learned to play the sitar in my dreams - holding it as if i was a woman - contorting
legs into tubular bells & wending them around the pumpkin-swell where the neck &
treble ran into -
straddle a sitar , youngblood, with a body ghost-ships will pass through
& you cant callous a woman for her yellow teeth or sweaty hair.

Bernstein covered me in his sheet music as i had sleep with human-nakedness
& i woke - panting want for wool.

"what piece are playing Leonard?"

"Snoring No.5 - you will listen to yr dreaming heart & bless the femur with raucous
interpretation of dream-body's obedience to its brethren the body of bells"

a fart woke me up again before spontaneous composition & Bernstein dissolved like
yet only the stink left behind & i thought maybe my HAH-CHOO was a "BRAVO!"
the body delighting in its precision - burning what it needs for power & propulsion
while launching the refuse out back-door.

around here,
folks take their shitty underwear out the front door

& Beelzebub asked the same questions Gandhi posed :
"why is this door locked?"
"why do you carry the key?"

thing is, Beelzebub didn't write any of it down...
men came long after & wrote what they were told
to write about Her
& children grew up pissing their pants
& kissing crucifixes until the money......
Gandhi at least wrote his mind for you -
and they laid his body on flowers o'er the heads of lovers
& roofs of cars
where not even an ant would see him.

& underwear
& carrying of shit
& oil-men lighting cigars of our hair
& our bones singing -

they are all but the broken skeleton of Lucifer,
this world - Beelzebub piecing Her skeleton
back to Angel!

herald the coming
or as such as you saw!

falling from yr fingers
yr eyes
yr kisses
yr cumming alone in the lips of moon !

wings breaking from bullet holes!

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Bill Morgan's Big Bomb of a Book
By Jonah Raskin

"Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb."
That famous - or as some might say infamous - line appears, of course, in
"America" one of Allen Ginsberg's most famous poems. The line doesn't
show up in Bill Morgan's new greatly disappointing 702-page biography of
Allen Ginsberg that's entitled "I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private
Life of Allen Ginsberg." The poem itself receives only a passing mention
by Morgan, on page 216, and it's not the only important and significant
poem by Ginsberg that goes unexamined and uninterpreted.
"I Celebrate Myself" (published November 2006) may be the oddest
biography of a 20th-ccentury American poet that has ever written - for
the simple reason that it doesn't discuss Allen Ginsberg as a poet.
Morgan makes pronouncements about Ginsberg; he was "one of the century's
greatest poets," he writes in the Epilogue of this overblown biography,
but nowhere does he explain how or why Ginsberg was a "great poet." Of
course, Bill Morgan doesn't know a thing about poetry; he has no business
writing a book about a poet in the first place.
I would also like to say that I do not mean this as a personal attack on
Morgan. I know Bill. My name appears in the Acknowledgments at the end of
the book, and Morgan was kind enough to provide a blurb for my book about
Ginsberg - "American Scream: Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" and the Making of the
Beat Generation" - which appeared in print two-and-a half-years ago. This
is about the integrity of the art of biography and about the historical
record. It is about keeping the Beat flame burning brightly.
Morgan has written a book about Ginsberg that gets the facts wrong, that
applies broad brush strokes, loses sight of nuances and just plain
garbles the truth of the matter.
Perhaps I could start at the end. In the last sentence of the last
chapter, Morgan writes, "In death Allen Ginsberg had become a safe
topic." In fact, when the rabbi at the Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco
wanted to hold a memorial service for Ginsberg, his congregation opposed
the idea. He held it anyway. George Will, the conservative columnist,
attacked Ginsberg personally and insisted that he had "a talent that
rarely rose to mediocrity."
Morgan would like to make Ginsberg a safe topic for him to write about,
and he has in fact depoliticized Ginsberg - made him far less of a radical
than he was in fact. Morgan makes Ginsberg into a kind of egomaniac and a
narcissist - hence the title of his book -
"I Celebrate Myself."
But Ginsberg not only wrote about himself. He wrote about America, about
the nation and its history, and its outlaws and visionaries, its mad men
and mad women. Morgan also minimizes and trivializes the whole of the
Beat Generation. He says "In truth, the entire Beat Generation phenomenon
could be see as a group of writers who had little in common
stylistically, but who were united by their friendship with Allen
Ginsberg." Granted, Allen had friends, and granted Allen was a great
publicist for the Beats, but the Beat Generation was a form of cultural
rebellion, as Kerouac argued and Ginsberg argued, and as Morgan
stubbornly refuses to see. On the subject of Kerouac, he writes, "Kerouac
was politically conservative, religiously Roman Catholic" but that
statement ignores and denies the radical Kerouac, the Buddhist Kerouac,
the anti-war Kerouac.
Morgan writes that "On August 25, 1955, Allen sat at his typewriter. and
composed the original draft of what would become the first section of
Howl." But on August 19, 1955 Kerouac wrote to Ginsberg from Mexico with
his comments about Howl. So Ginsberg would have had to have written the
first draft in June or July. Mail to and from Mexico was slow. It would
have taken 2-3 weeks to get a letter to Mexico and then a letter from
Mexico to the States.
Morgan gets dates wrong, facts wrong. He gets Ginsberg wrong. Too bad. He
spent decades researching and writing about Ginsberg. But perhaps he was
too close to his subject. He worked for Ginsberg for years; he was paid
by Ginsberg.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti once said that to be a good writer you had to be
hungry and angry and have passion. He was right then and he still is.
Morgan isn't a hungry writer, or an angry and impassioned writer.
Hopefully a young, angry, hungry writer will come along and tell the
Ginsberg story truthfully and accurately.
Meanwhile, as Ginsberg said, "Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb."


then (memories of hendrix and mcqueen)

this old guy, he was a hippie.
he'd been around, but settled
for a time in london, early seventies.
he resembles a kind of fragile bird.
he says, over coffee yesterday,
listening to one of my cds:
"that's jimi hendrix. he was
a decent bloke. i used to sell
belts to him off my market stall.
the day he died, we'd said
we'd meet up for a pint.
that was how it was back then"

another guy had been a journalist.
his thing was bikes in those days.
i am 41, i've known him since
childhood, and he drops this in
an email: " in the sixties i met
steve mcqueen. i had two beers
with him in a kettering pub.
he only talked about motorcycles.
pumping me with questions all
the while. and he asked me for
my autograph. i was so
embarrassed i had to ask
for his.
my wife lost it
sometime in the seventies.
i wish i had it now.”