Tuesday, January 24, 2012

satnrose



TO RESPONSE THE RESPONSE 

the mile being level the sharp air
center where you burned the warm
my eye heard the sound of the thing
but only the sound my blade was
made of the thin blue ice mile under
the river it skates by pushing that
in the limit which it maintains and in
regard to response the response
to her whom the rhythm which is
the harmony is where am I where I
am of the feet which move aligning
me without any conscious thought
until I am in you thought simply that
if we make a quick survey of the
river the wood which it pulled
would hide the string which did not be-
long here together and with her eagerly
before me the pain would then
break and each step slide on down
the hill fast enough perhaps as if it
was possible and if I do not need
to go up to the top I just need to try 


================================    

BEFORE THE TRIAL


the city and you you are there so
your love is the you man and the you
corner of the street is defended you
use the come on to come in and let
someone far cross the time someday
just for the hell of it you lost me
on the stairs I hear the heart ex-
plaining the beat so many years if some-
one was you then you would know
it I was expecting you so use one in
a million what is true someday he’ll
someday do what can be done be-
fore the trial and then you will know
you know and I’ll make your bail   


=========================


THE LAST MESSAGE IN THE LAST BOTTLE 

being the last message in the last bottle
it was something that I had to
read when obtaining the good ones
ignore the lie of the differential it
is thought that we want entirety
entirely but if or when we get it then
we can’t handle it I was crossing
the garden to watch the fight of the
red ants with the white I was not
unaware of the similarities between
ants and men but for honest sweat
and the promise of the brown earth
you see with one eye more than
half of what you see with two and so
what is chosen is as good as the
land can produce it is no empty small
thing but as big as anything can be big
hard to imagine I listened to the 
strange purple flowers who talked to
me I opened the door to the NO
of empty thought but surely no matter
how elevated you get you have
to come down sometime so I be-
lieved in self-reliance but you know at
some point we all need help when
the hot day deserted me I was left in
the cold to find my own way over
the fences topped with broken glass
and barbed wire but the top
of the mountain was up there where I was
going the boundaries made no difference
so ignorant of any aftereffect
I had to steal the where from the
nowhere to wake up and fly right but
moved by the mercy of the salt
like a child who has it easy easy the gun
held to your head and the well full
of your own blood and the so-called
epiphany you got wasn’t what you
hoped for so it’s back to the factory
for you you puppet and next time
you’d better have the proper respect


=============================  


THE DRAGONS CAME ROARING OUT 


she provided the liquor
and the fire pedestrian lit the room the roses
danced on the table
and the cat insulted me all night which I thought
was hilarious and the
cat just got pisseder and pisseder and so in the
morning the landlord
kicked me out on the street someone came up
to me and spoke a
Spanish I could almost understand and I just kept
nodding and they
went away shaking their three heads the mountains
separated in front
of me so I dragged my carcass up thru the canyons
and sheets of ice
glared back at me a dog wanted to bite at me but it
had a steel wire muzzle
so I grabbed at him and his walker ran away
with the bitch so I
went to ground but didn’t have the technical skill
to put the slug in the slot
and the brakeman pushed me through and
out on the tournament
floor the dragons came roaring out and I had
to step into the belly
to get to where I was going I looked at all this
as if I were my own
ghost and I guess I should have been frightened
but if you must know
to tell the truth I just didn’t know who I was

====================  


THE MYTH OF THE WEALTH OF NATIONS 

the achievement of wealth is a chimera
you can take the appropriate
expedient and clip its wings whether
grasping at the best straw is a
wise course of action or letting the
mystery play play itself out we do
what little we can to lighten the
damage if the process can go or be
reversed you have to have known
that something would change the
cost is not large in the short-term
but in the long term brutal money
wasted is only time so someone
stabilizes while someone else tries to
get rich quick the rule of law
and legislation won’t stop the process
of  erosion but only slow it down
or else speed it up so in light of the
present condition we can either
try to sit stock still or run it into the
ground cause either way y’know
absolute power stupefies absolutely

=====================


Bio: "satnrose is a well-known antiquarian bookseller, and formerly a not-so-secret messenger in the innermost depths of Capitol Hill and K Street. He has been published in a number of literary magazines, but since his reincarnation as 'satnrose' a couple of years ago, he has been published in EVERGREEN REVIEW, ICONOCLAST, DANSE MACABRE, COUNTEREXAMPLE POETICS, wtf.pwm,  OYSTERS & CHOCOLATE, APPARATUS, GLOOM CUPBOARD, ESCAPE INTO LIFE, MAD SWIRL, METAZEN, THE NOVEMBER 3RD CLUB, STRAY BRANCH, THE CITRON REVIEW, THE COPPERFIELD REVIEW, THE HELL GATE REVIEW, THE BLUE JEW YORKER, MASTODON DENTIST, FULL OF CROW, FORGE,  ROSE & THORN JOURNAL, THE MAYNARD, NEFARIOUS BALLERINA, COUNTERPUNCH, deadpaper, theviewfromhere, MAVERICK, CALLIOPE NERVE, THE BATTERED SUITCASE, PSYCHIC MEATLOAF, HAWK & WHIPPORWILL, etc., etc."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Michaelsun Stonesweat Knapp

When a poet sends a really good batch, it's hard to say no to any of them. Here's another three by Michaelsun Stonesweat Knapp. For a brief bio of the poet, go to last week's posting.

If Crime Doesn’t Pay Sandwiches Will

There are two reasons
I know of
Why most people
who are missing fingers
lost them in the first place

either they’re a great carpenter
but lost the digit
to a saw blade
while they were distracted

or a  Yakuza
who failed their Oyabun
and had the extremity cut off
to teach them a lesson

So when the woman at Quizznos
handed me my two Sammies in their brown bag
and I noticed she only had
one knuckle per finger
my immediate thought was
she had to be the world’s greatest woodworker

but then it occurs to me
why then was she
working the register
at a sandwich joint?

So the only logical
explanation
is that she was
at one point
just a really shitty gangster.


***

Rob and the Birds



Rob is a carpenter
for the county fair;
has been since high school
before either of his kids were born.
He’s the one

who does the work
in the repurposed hanger
with tall wide doors
that lets birds and the wind in.


Every night at closing
he walks between the walls
of the hanger
and the facades
he builds every year,
throughout the year,


looking for people
who went through an access door
to hide. He never finds anyone,
but what he does find
, next to the various wrappers of God knows what
, resting on the sea of kettle corn that he walks on,
are dead birds.


The ones the wind brought in
and left to twist
in the cool air conditioner breeze.


The sparrows starve
and fall, unable to fly or even waddle.


The pidgeons find the corn
back there and their stomaches soon burst.


The hawks are the worst for Rob.
They manage to look so stately
, so immortal,
while trapped in the hanger.
They last the longest
, eating the other birds,
but they too die. And Rob


brings them all out. He
carries them like friends
, wraps them in white newspaper,
and takes them to the dumpster out back
where the birds had wanted to be
from the moment they flew in,
and couldn’t fly out.


***


Sink or Float?


A carrot?
A potato?
A can of tomato paste?
Sink.


A fork?
A rock?
A coke?
Sink.


A Florida orange?
A four by four?
A plastic orange?
Float.


A car?
A scream?
A brother?


Saturday, January 07, 2012

Michaelsun Stonesweat Knapp and Natalie Morales

Michaelsun Stonesweat Knapp

Venice on the Second


it’s twenty eight hours shy of July Fourth,
in Venice, by way of the 10 freeway, 
and the sky groans in its sleep
with premature fireworks and
electricity running relay races on telephone wires.
In this city by the sea,
in the parking lot of a Ralphs,
a homeless dog is tied to a shopping cart collector
and alternates saying first, “Save me,”
but then “Go away.
I listen, eating a peanut-butter cup
I’ve gotten for being a good boy;
sit on the hood of mother’s Toyota Sienna,
which both looks and drives like a whale,
and after considering the dog’s requests
I turn to him and reply
“No,”
and he hushes-up and lays down
until he’s picked up by a man
who isn’t a homeowner either.


Bio: I am a 22 year old, Native American, college graduate from the Los Angeles area. I have been published in In Somnis Veritas, Creepy Gnome, and will be in the upcoming editions of Carnivalitmag.com as well as California State University San Bernandino's newpaper The Coyote Chronicle.


 NATALIE MORALES



For Kathleen


Some people would rather you stay with the abusive boyfriend
who demanded seventy-five hundred dollars
in return for your life
who bought you birthday gifts with your money
because he’s a chivalrous motherfucker
who put a cigarette out on your face
since the ash tray was full.

God would rather you use your soul
to carry around demons
like an old suitcase
Pastor would rather you batter-ram your emotions
into a sardine can
on the tip of a pinhead.

But let me tell you
—sister—
who you are is fine with me.
And let me tell you
—sister—
the caged bird doesn’t sing.
You’re a peacock, not a parrot
—sister—
so let your wings breathe.


Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Hello Marylou: Lu Anne Henderson Tells It Like It Was


“One and Only: The Untold Story of ‘On The Road’”
by Gerald Nicosia and Anne Marie Santos
Viva Editions
ISBN: 978-1-936740-04-8

Cultural and literary studies of the 1950s tend to focus on two things: conformity, and its breakdown. Which is really one thing, of course, in different phases. Along with Marlon Brando, James Dean and Elvis Presley, in the ethnocentric, superficial examination of this cultural stasis that everybody was supposed to be frozen in, the Beat writers and poets are generally credited with shaking the citizenry loose and leading them to the cultural revolution of the Sixties. That’s too shallow, too convenient and too easily-rubbished a theory, but I’m happy to go with it when I’m not feeling pedantic and ready for an argument.

For a long time, how you felt about cultural revolution defined how you felt about the Beats, at least if you were a casual reader or an interested but unaffiliated poet/ novelist in your own right. If you liked rock and roll, cars, drugs, hair, peace and sex – if you were sceptical towards institutional authority – you probably liked the Beats. And if you didn’t like those things, you probably hated the Beats. From the start the Academics had their own snobbish put-down agenda, based on who knows what (the sheer impudence?) and most of the hoary young-old bastards still do. It must drive them nuts that nobody except other Academics or people who wanted to be Academics ever listened to them. You can, after all, get a copy of “On The Road” in almost any decent-sized bookshop in the Western world (not that that’s much of a measure of quality, when I think about it).

But since the Seventies a type of criticism has been developing that Beat aficionados can’t ignore, and that’s the one analysing Beat writing and culture as rooted in deliberate or inadvertent misogyny. The university in my own town, Northampton, teaches to this day that Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady, in the journeys back and forth across America that make up the narrative of “On The Road”, were partaking of a freedom that the women of the time couldn’t; any woman who accompanied them – like Lu Anne Henderson - was brought along as some sort of victim of their terrible sexual machinations, and would be maligned by society as a teenage whore. Jack’s was a boy gang, as the blurb for Joyce Johnson’s 1983 memoir about, among other things, her time as Kerouac’s girlfriend. Women were minor characters at best.

 “One and Only: The Untold Story of ‘On The Road’” is a very important book, in that it turns the current critical wisdom about the role of women and the Beat Generation upside down by presenting, at length, the largely unmediated testimony of the one woman who hasn’t really been heard, and – you might argue – the one woman who really saw the Beats up close. The woman is Lu Anne Henderson herself, known to all who’ve read “On The Road” as Dean’s “beautiful little sharp chick Marylou” (Kerouac 4). Lu Anne, who’d been Cassady’s wife and travelled by car and bus across country with him in 1946 when he was heading for New York to fulfil his dream of going to Columbia and learning how to write. Lu Anne, who’d met Kerouac and helped Neal and the reticent Jack form a friendship that would ultimately give birth to the novel. Lu Anne, who in 1948, despite their annulment and Neal’s marriage to Carolyn Robinson, travelled back across America with Cassady and then Kerouac at a later stage of the journey. Lu Anne, who smoked opium with Cassady, Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg to celebrate New Year’s Eve 1948 and then went with Jack and Neal to Algiers, Louisiana to take their friend Helen Hinkle away from the house of William S. Burroughs, where she’d been living on the charity of the man who’d write “Naked Lunch” one day and had finally outstayed her welcome.

I could go on for three more paragraphs about Lu Anne’s counter-cultural adventures, as described so beautifully in her own words in the book from the transcriptions of two interviews Gerald Nicosia did with her in 1978 when he was researching his monumental Kerouac biography Memory Babe; but I think the point is well made. Lu Anne didn’t stay at home in a nice little suburban house venturing out only for Tupperware parties and baby showers and making sure that her husband always had his dinner on the table when he came home from work. That’s one of those Time magazine clich├ęs about Fifties womanhood that have taken hold in the minds of Academics because in the postmodernist age intellectuals can’t tell the difference between the real world and media representations of it. Lu Anne didn’t stay home when her old man, or someone else’s old man, took off across country for a trip either. She went with him. It’s like she says on page 122 of the book: I went on that trip solely as an adventure. […] I loved to go anyway; I was always ready. I was like Neal in that respect – it didn't take very much to move me.

It’s interesting, isn’t it, how inconvenient a view that is of a woman when there are still, thankfully, a few people left in the world who admire such carefree behaviour in a man. Why do male and female commentators (feminist writers have charged the Beats with misogyny for years) prefer to think that the women who travelled and the women who stayed at home in their phoney historical construct weren’t equally responsible for their own decisions? Lu Anne is clear throughout the transcript that she was responsible for hers at every point along the wild, dangerous, thrilling road she travelled. She wasn’t manipulated by anybody; she didn’t miss out on anything – except perhaps the intimate love she might have shared with Jack and Neal at different times, although she saw deeply enough into the souls of both to understand why it never happened – and she definitely wasn’t the loose-moraled “slob” she felt she had been portrayed as by Carolyn Cassady in her book “Off The Road” and in the movie “Heart Beat”. What was so wrong with three people who loved each other sharing a bed at the same time? Lu Anne asks in “One and Only” ( Heart Beat, a rather average movie as I remember, shows Carolyn discovering Lu Anne in bed with Neal and Allen Ginsberg.) Indeed, what is wrong with that? I wouldn’t want to do it myself, but what?

The majority of the narrative in Lu Anne’s interview recalls in detail the same events Kerouac describes it “On The Road”. It’s like the same novel, but from the point of view of Marylou; and she is a wonderful storyteller, with a memory for detail and a gift for the evocation of scene that might have made her a great novelist, if she’d ever attempted to tell her story on the printed page. But we have her great gift memorialised now, thanks to Nicosia, and the form in which it’s presented to us and to Time (that of the interview instead of the novel) doesn’t matter; gas station attendants can be poets, as Bob Dylan says. Or was that farmers?

Later sections of the interview reflect on the precipitate decline of Kerouac when fame arrived – too late for a man already exhausted and disappointed by life, she says. Lu Anne privileges us also with a last glimpse of a weary Neal, with whom she had maintained irregular contact right to the end, heading down to Mexico on that last, fateful trip. “Where do we go from here, babe?” Neal asks her (Henderson in Nicosia 157). It was clear that the answer, for Neal, was nowhere. The railroad tracks in San Miguel de Allende, and a lonely death from exposure, awaited.

“One and Only” concludes with an unsent letter from Lu Anne to Neal, dated 1957, a consideration of her role as an important facilitator of the Beat movement, a biographical section about Al Hinkle, Ed Dunkel in “On The Road” and lifelong friend to Lu Anne, and lastly, a lovely, intimate and very moving 31 page account of her mother’s life by Lu Anne’s daughter Anne Marie Santos. I don’t know whether it was the cumulative impact of the book, or just the post-Christmas mood I was in, or whether Anne Marie’s story had got me thinking unconsciously about my own mother, also gone now and dearly loved, but by the time I reached the last page of her account I was in such a state of heightened emotion I cried. I genuinely can’t think of the last time I cried at a book, other than in the case of Ann Radcliffe’s “The Mysteries of Udolpho”,when I cried in anguish because it was so boring.

My feelings about “One and Only” should be clear by now, after the long weeks we’ve shared together dissecting it. I think it’s a beautifully conceived, edited, and written book, and for the reasons I’ve already outlined, I’m convinced it is the most important addition to Beat scholarship since Nicosia’s “Memory Babe”. Bookshops may not carry it so you could find yourself doing a little work to track it down, but it’s worth it. Failing anything else, or perhaps as your first stop, try visiting the publisher’s website at http://www.vivaeditions.com/. Then come back to BEATNIK and let me know what you think.


Bibliography

Johnson, Joyce. Minor Characters. London: Picador, 1983.

Kerouac, Jack. On The Road. London: Andre Deutsch, 1973.

Nicosia, Gerald and Anne Marie Santos. One and Only: The Untold Story of ‘On The Road’. Berkeley: Viva Editions, 2011.