john bennett | sometimes you feel so all alone

10 12 2011

Charles Bukowski | Photo by Herb Ritts

POETRY DISPATCH No. 360 | December 10, 2011

John Bennett

Sometimes You Feel So All Alone

I’d like to address the court. I’d like to address the hung jury. I’d like to address the envelope in the best penmanship possible. I’d like to dress up like a Lilliput and go traipsing thru the streets of Chicago. I’d like to dabble in redress to ease my distress. I’d like to respond to the warrant. I’d like to warrant your love. I’d like to live in a warren and watch the world pass by.

I wish I could stop tap dancing and snapping my fingers. I wish I could take off this grease paint. I wish I could lay down and die. No, seriously, how bad could it be? Except I wonder how long my brain will continue to churn after my heart has stopped. I wonder if they’ll be unkind to my body.

I’m partial to a funeral pyre pushed out to sea. Or just lay me down in the leaves in some deep forest dressed in everyday clothes. I don’t need a service where people show up who’ve stopped thinking about me years ago. Let’s not make a lie of it on the cusp of my last breath.

Sometimes you feel so all alone it just feels right.

Goodbye, Charles Bukowski.





john bennett | the silent treatment

16 09 2011

POETRY DISPATCH No.352 | September 16, 2011

The Silent Treatment
John Bennett

Sitting around
Ferlinghetti’s
apartment
over his
print shop
on upper Green
almost
40 years ago
after Bukowski’s
first
City Lights
reading
with Ferlinghetti
Bukowski
Rip Torn &
a host of
minions
someone said
Bukowski
you’re the
only one
who’s
done it &
I said
no one’s
done it
or we
wouldn’t
still be
trying to
do it &
Ferlinghetti said
the Beats
did it.

The Beats?
I said.
Kerouac?
Ginsberg?
Ferlinghetti?
But then,
you’re Ferlinghetti
aren’t you.

The room
got very
still &
Bukowski
smiled
down into
his beer
cradled on
his great
protrusion
of gut
& said
Now you’ve
done it
Bennett.

Ferlinghetti
stared at
me with
ice blue
eyes
that said
we’re
going to
silence you.

Which they
never did.


John Bennett

Battle Scars

John Bennett

30 new poems.

All 125 books signed by the author. Twenty-five of the books come with a signed watercolor by Henry Denander.

Mini-chapbook format, in wraps.

Cover art by Henry Denander.

Please click here… if you are interested in buying this book.





norbert blei | the poetry of persona and the divided self

6 02 2009

self-divided-1995x

Poetry Dispatch No. 269 | February 6, 2009

The Poetry of Persona and the Divided Self
by
Norbert Blei

Not every poet finds a reason or need to develop a voice within a voice, another ‘persona’ if you will, but for sometime a number of poets (Americans in particular) have been getting outside/inside themselves in a way writers of fiction create `characters’ or characters to voice other levels of meaning.

CAUTION: It may seem an easy thing to do. But it’s not something you can play around with like: “I think today I’ll write a sonnet” ten consider yourself Shakespeare. Rather…it’s a voice that may (or may not) call you when you are ready to listen—and record. One way or another, life itself propels you in this direction. Which is always the way of authentic writing. When it’s bullshit, it’s bullshit. When it’s true, it’s true.

The late John Berryman, author of an American classic, THE DREAM SONGS, is one of these poets who introduces the character of Henry in his work. A likeable guy. So much so that the reader begins to feel comfortable in the possibility that Berryman and Henry are one or share the same sensibility which the recorded moment requires—sad, sensitive, self-indulgent, self-disparaging, confessional roustabouts with something unsettling to say about life, art, the American dream:

Books drugs razor whisky shirts
Henry lies ready for his Eastern tour,
swollen ankles, one hand,
air reservations. Friends at the end of the hurts,
a winter mind resigned: literature
must spread, you understand,

–from “Dream Song 169” of THE DREAM SONGS, Farra, Strauss, Giroux

berrymanHenry = Berryman? Some resemblance, perhaps. Though Berryman himself states: “The poem, then, whatever its wide cast of characters, is essentially about an imaginary character (not the poet, not me) named Henry, a white-American in early middle age sometimes in black face, who has suffered an irreversible loss and talks about himself sometimes in the first person, sometimes in the third, sometimes even in the second; he has a friend, never named, who addresses him as Mr. Bones and variants thereof. Requiescat in pace.”

Paul Zimmer, (FAMILY REUNION: NEW AND SELECTED POEMS, THE ZIMMER POEMS, etc. University of Pittsburg Press) is an immensely entertaining yet serious poet with his own special take on an alter ego who looks at the real world through the small-town eyes of a character named Zimmer. The titles alone pull you immediately into his world: “Zimmer and the Ghost”, “Zimmer Remembering Wanda”, “Zimmer Imagines Heaven”, “Zimmer’s Last Gig”, “Zimmer Is Icumen In”…

ZIMMER’S HEAD THUDDING AGAINST THE BLACKBOARD

At the blackboard I had missed
Five number problems in a row,
And was about to foul a sixth,
When the old, exasperated nun
Began to pound my head against
My six mistakes. When I cried,
She threw me back into my seat,
Where I hid my head and swore
That very day I’d be a poet,
And curse her yellow teeth with this.

My friend, Illinois poet of the people and the prairie, Dave Etter, has to date never developed a whole book of poems to a character of his named Doreen (shades of an old high school sweetheart, word has it) but she pops up occasionally in his work, especially in a book of prose poems, HOME STATE (Spoon River Poetry Press).

PAJAMAS

Doreen always sleeps in a pajama top—that’s all. Winter or summer, just a pajama top. Who wears the bottoms? How would I know? Nobody, I guess. She probably uses them for dust rags, or maybe she gives them away to some girl who sleeps only in pajama bottoms. The way Doreen squirms and kicks her legs in bed, I can understand very well why she opts for tops over bottoms. What do I wear between the sheets? Well, it’s none of your business, but if you must know, I wear neither pajama tops or pajama bottoms. You wouldn’t either if you slept with Doreen.

On the international scene, one poet in particular of the post-modernist school, Zbigniew Herbert of Poland, brings a thoughtful character to light, Mr. Cogito, who seems to carry the whole sad history of Eastern Europe on his shoulders as he ponders the state of our times.

MR COGITO THINKS OF RETURNING TO THE CITY WHERE HE WAS BORN

If I went back there
probably I wouldn’t find
even shadow from my house
nor the trees of childhood
nor the cross with n iron plate
the bench where I whispered incantations
chestnuts and blood
not a single thing that is ours…
…while all around
piles of ash are growing
up to my shoulders
up to my mouth

from MR. COGITO, The Ecco Press

Back in the rural Midwest, over in Minnesota, the poet Leo Dangel sometimes sees the world through Old Man Brunner’s magnificent, munificent eyes:

OLD MAN BRUNNER SITS ON HIS PORCH

Old Man Brunner never cuts his weeds.
Right up to the house,
sunflowers and fire weeds
grow tough and hard as small trees.
In the summer evening, Old Man Brunner
sits and surveys his jungle,
his sleeves rolled up,
his cracked shoes beside him.
Old man Brunner’s feet are white,
white as angel feet.
He hold one white foot in his brown hand
and cuts his toenails
with a tin shears.

-from OLD MAN BRUNNER COUNTRY, Spoon River Poetry Press

It is almost impossible to read any of the many collections of the late Bukowski’s (Charles) poems, stories and novels and not come up with a street-wise character, part buffoon, part philosopher, part loser, part poet…semi-serious slant on himself, Bukowski likes to call Chinaski:

THE SOULLESS SELF

I met the movie star, he’s playing Chinaski
in my new movie, I pout my hand on his shoulder: “you’re
all right, Ben,” I tell him.
then the famous Italian director puts his leg up on
the table: “now I’ll drink with you Chinaski,” he says.
(that’s the way he always drinks, I’m told.)
“o.k.,” I say and I put my leg up on the table.
I drain my glass, he fills it again, I drain it
Again, he fills it again.

they know I’m a real guy then.

-from, OPEN ALL NIGHT, Black Sparrow Press

Tom Montag, one of our best Wisconsin poets did a book, Ben Zen THE OX OF PARADOX with my press, (Cross+Roads Press) in l999 which is a wonder to read, behold. I won’t say It’s all Zen; I won’t say it isn’t Zen. I will say that for any reader with the slightest interest in the subject, not to mention a love of poetry—Tom Montag speaks to you in this book—through the simple presence of a wise old farmer, who sounds a lot like a Zen monk, speaking in koans:

strichstrich


Engineers are like poets,
Ben says, only backwards.

strichstrich

If you don’t have
Truth in your heart

You won’t know
What you have.


Anything will fit, Ben says.
You just have to learn to wear it.

Oh to a be the junkman, Ben says.
To have everything no one wants.

strichstrich

Much as I’ve been,
Ben says,
I’ve never been enough.

strichstrich

There do not seem to be as many women writing the poetry of persona as men, though one in particular, Lyn Lifshin, whom I have read for more than twenty years in hundreds of little magazines, has written “more than a thousand” (she tells me) “Madonna” poem (in addition to her regular poetry) and is still writing them. Her “Madonna” is—ribald, rambunctious, erotic, excessive, demanding, demeaning, ironic, iconic, horny, heady, outspoken, outrageous…born to deliver the double whammy. Her latest books are: COLD COMFORT and BEFORE IT’S LIGHT (Black Sparrow Press). Collections of her Madonna poems, are hard to find. Check out: www.lynlifshin.com I leave you in her (“Madonna’s”), warm, anxious hands:

MADONNA OF THE MESSY HOUSE

around her bed:
spoons like lovers
licked and left

LEFTOVER MADONNA

makes you feel
good twice

WOK MADONNA

gets you going
fast, leaves
you in your
own juices

INDIAN SUMMER MADONNA

unexpectedly hot
but she doesn’t stay

MADONNA OF THE SEVEN DWARFS

is into feminism
likes to tower over men
thinks of them all as dopey

POETRY SUCKS MADONNA

takes what she
can’t use
and uses it
so it won’t
use her

from Wormwood Reviews, #’s 82, 87, 92, 117

strichstrich

For a number of years now a local character by the name of Olaf has been knocking on my door, pulling up a chair here in the coop, drinking all my brandy, telling me some of the damnedest stories. But I’ll save him for another time.





charles bukowski | the darlings

3 12 2007

monkey_on_bicycle_vintage.jpg

Poetry Dispatch No.161 | March 21, 2007

The “Other” Poetry

Yes, it’s the first day of spring. We should write and read of warmth, melting snow, the good earth, birds, flowers, and above all, hope.

This is also the 4th anniversary of the Iraq war. Deserving perhaps that “other kind of poem.” We should remember and write and reflect upon this too. I’m all for the feel-good poem, the poem that challenges our intellect ,the poem that makes us smile, poems electric in language, poems that remind us how good it is to be alive…internal rhyme schemes, no schemes, poems of patterns we all comprehend and even attempt to imitate. Here’s to the classic bards, who wrote so admirably of a time that had meaning and beauty.

But this is a good time to remember that “other” kind of poem, that “other poet,” who serves it up straight on the plate. The poets and poems that are sometimes harder to swallow, more difficult to digest. The in-your-face poets. The poets whose words sometimes spill over. Fall on the floor. Leave a stain on the tablecloth. Cause heartburn. Indigestion. Mess up the sweet poesy with attitudes you’d rather not entertain on a day the robin has returned to your backyard

Poets of attitude, conscience, anger…a lot on their mind, in their gut. And it ain’t always pretty. But these, our ‘beat’ brothers and sisters deserve a piece of the poetic action too, have every right to be heard…every right to go against the American grain. The poets who see ‘it’ for what it is. For what we are. They’ve been around for a long time. Whitman was one of them. Sandburg too. And the entire Beat Movement in America. Still out there beating the drum.

Big mouth Bukowski had his hands in it as well. He always knew how to translate the bullshit into poetry that was good for us. Norbert Blei

strichstrich.jpg

The Darlings by Charles Bukowski

a world full of successful people’s sons
on bicycles
on the Hollywood Riviera
at 3:11 P.M.
on a Tuesday afternoon…

this is what some of the armies died to save
this is what many of the ladies desire;
these stuffed fractions of beings
pedaling along
or stopping to chat while
still seated upon their mounts
gentle breezes sifting across
their undisturbed faces…

I understand very little of this
except maybe the armies killed the wrong people
but they usually do:
they always think the enemy is
those they are directed against
instead of those who
direct them:
the fathers of the
darlings.





charles bukowski | nothing is as effective as defeat

5 10 2007

defeat.jpg

 

Poetry Dispatch No. 23 | November 7, 2005

nothing is as effective as defeat by Charles Bukowski

always carry a notebook with you
wherever you go, he said,
and don’t drink too much, drinking dulls
the sensibilities.
attend readings, note breath pauses,
and when you read
always understate
underplay, the crowd is smarter than you
might think,
and when you write something
don’t send it out right away,
put it in a drawer for two weeks,
then take it out and look
at it, and revise, revise,
REVISE again and again,
tighten lines like bolts holding the span
of a 5 mile bridge,
and keep a notebook by your bed,
you will get thoughts during the night
and these thoughts will vanish and be wasted
unless you notate them.
and don’t drink, any fool can
drink, we are men of
letters.

for a guy who couldn’t write at all
he was about like the rest
of them: he could sure
talk about
it.








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