Red Pick-Up Truck Daddy stood sticks In the corners of the bed And tied on a tarp To keep the worst of the sun off us. He laid down blue moving pads And lifted us little girls With our frayed cotton dresses And brown, bony knees Into the bed with coloring books And a few […]
DRUNK AND HELPLESS IN THE DARK
Some of us lie
Drunk and helpless in the dark
Waiting for the angel that never comes
Because there is no her
Beyond the sad spiraling reveries
Of the drunken insomniac
Smiling wanly in the glow
Of a halo
That exists only
HUMANITY IS DOOMED
I heard the birds that chirp at night
And I saw the cats under the tree.
I know the cats need to eat
And I know the birds want to live.
So here I am
In the parking lot of a Walgreens,
Rooting for nothing.
At high noon my wife smashed a fly against the living room window with this book in the middle of our first pandemic summer. The room erupted into puppy yelp, child screech, fly-wail and the desert sun breaching the ceiling, grabbing us by the ankles, holding us upside-down to drain us into our shadows. All this, especially the fly-wail, fits flawlessly with this book about fly swatting, language, number theory, action and surrender.
Hugo Ball was a German author, poet, and essentially the founder of the Dada movement in European art in Zürich in 1916—maybe you already knew that. Maybe you learned that from some stuffy-teacher-induced-research-based-half-cocked-noviate-solo-tour. Maybe you visited some cold websites in search of Hugo Ball. Did you ever figure out why nonsense is such an enduring quality of art?
Emerge Lane Chasek, from behind the purple beaded curtain, to introduce us to Dada and Ball—the way a friend might—in his new book: Hugo Ball and the Fate of the Universe: Adventures in Sound Poetry (Jokes Review, 2020). Chasek is anything but a stuffy teacher. He’s drunk—but it’s an airy-lover-don’t-mind-inviting-“My Back Pages”-kind-of-buzz necessary for this type of Hero’s Journey where the Hero seems to be speaking the most rarefied strain of white gibberish ever.
Chasek has found himself dangling from his own family tree like a crucifix on a dandelion chain wondering how to handle what he’s hearing on Democracy Now. Hugo Ball had the same problem. Like one veined bubble sharing a townhouse membrane with another in the vesper service of language’s aftermath: Chasek–through Ball’s sound poetry—connects us with the madness of the past.
The way this hitchhiker’s guide of sound poetry surveys post-language allows us to make discoveries right along with the author. The tone is serious insanity, congenial nonsense. For example, there’s a rando paragraph on page 76 that starts like this, “My poem would involve chinchillas. Lots and lots of chinchillas, since I really like chinchillas. And thousands of keyboards hooked up to thousands of main frames, all dedicated to storing the corpse that will be my magnum opus. I’d caffeinate those chinchillas and make them immortal if I could.” Will the chinchillas help our Hero acquire the superpower of not making sense?
Sound poetry is a kiss in the face of Shakespeare. Sound poetry is what happens when language stops feeling pain. There is scat singing and math and laughs in this book. There are childhood friends, new friends, and a few sound poems. American Puritanical Christianity™ is here too, “Sucking out all the poetic verve Christianity used to have. After all, there’s an entire book in the Old Testament that’s an erotic poem. Never forget that.” Had you forgotten that? I sure had.
By the end, Chasek has written his own sound poem; in an interview, he said writing it, “felt like a creative temper tantrum—uncontrollable, but oddly liberating.” Through the course of the book, he shares his process of hamstringing language; I felt comforted by his tremendously mellow and jovial tone. Maybe this book will inspire you to write your own sound poem. Logic is all there is to lose.
What brought mankind to
Its knees wasn't a nuclear
Bomb, or a movie villain
Or even an army
You can't see or
Or even fight
Man's own creation
Turned on him
To destroy himself
Tommorow we wake up
Hoping the movie will be
good morning. I hope it is, at least. as it feels like the world is looking at the sky, one foot hovering over the threshold of their bomb shelter. and suddenly I’m caught between feeling extremist for calling it a bomb, and guilty because I know others are actually being bombed, and suffocated by the idea that – if I just repost one more graphic if I can just memorize the right data if I have “the hard conversations” – maybe I can fix it. good morning. maybe it can be, if we let it. the sun is so bright this morning (that’s not a metaphor, it literally made me squint) and yes, it’s a sun that is piercing our ozone and giving weight to the smog we create but it’s shining. and drawing the shades tight, tugging on the top of our twitter feed like a toddler at a hem trying to get what they want, will not change that. we have tried to change so much. and we have. as companies proclaim “BLM” across the street from the house of a man who fights back with “all lives matter” we can see change. as grandparents and uncles and siblings and friends soften to new ideas of justice and switch the sign in their yard we can see change. as metal straws clang in reusable bottles and wedding cake is smushed by a man into his husband’s mouth and The Daily is a suggested podcast even for people who “don’t get political” we can see change. and finally, as the number of people voting this year soars past 2016’s record, yes we can see change. so let’s rest. just for a day. battering our own mental health as some sort of penance won’t change the outcome. and the outcome won’t necessarily change the fight. so let’s allow ourselves a moment to just be. be kind to ourselves, to our neighbors to those who feel unsafe, to those who may have gotten too comfortable. give yourself and others grace, if just for today. we’ve posted and protested we’ve pleaded and prayed we’ve scrolled (and scrolled and scrolled) we’ve lost friends and learned facts, each point of data chosen meticulously to help others understand. politics have become deeply personal and our emotions are somehow partisan so today, on this most political day let’s protect those emotions. keep them safe, snuggled up away from what’s been weighing on them for weeks, months, years. for one day one good morning.
Glass for the Looking
And daybreak lifts from the Pacific
Like tracing paper from a hairdryer
There is not any living object
Of this world that turns to you,
Your honeycomb tiles
In your desert/dessert—depends what day it is—citadel.
Marram grass like wind-bent strands
Of floss coloured olive gesticulate to a
Reacquainted with a rusting fringe,
Flames for eyelashes
A dribbling of gulls across the skyline —
Gunned down from sight at sundown.
Kindling has evaded all eyes of this day
Eyelashes have entered
Toes made unlovely
Like those on ends of foot-bound quondam souls.
Panache of catwalk like hollow death.
I saw it all
Or did I?
A seascape for threadbare eyes looking out
A glass of truth nor self-reflection.
"Can I watch Pokemon on phone?"
"No, draw a chair, colour something
on the papers lying on the table."
The long kitchen ends into a child drawn
rill trilling on the crags until its evanescence
means a lost picnic, a fishing rod streaming far.
"Cannot you draw anything else?"
She draws a Pokemon with father's face
down in the dirt flashed from the stroke
and sketches trees screaming and a bird
tired to be any bird specific reduced to a V.
~ A poet and a father, Kushal Poddar, edited a magazine – ‘Words Surfacing’, authored seven volumes of poetry including ‘The Circus Came To My Island’, ‘A Place For Your Ghost Animals’, ‘Eternity Restoration Project- Selected and New Poems’ and ‘Herding My Thoughts To The Slaughterhouse-A Prequel’. Find and follow him at https://www.amazon.com/Kushal-Poddar/e/B07V8KCZ9P
One of those things
I’d like to believe in but can’t
Because of the logical improbability
And the pile of unanswerable questions
About who and when and how and why.
But just suppose
(It’s ok to have a little fun)
That after 200 years of conscious sleep
Some benign authority
Brought you back, age 20
In perfect health, memories intact.
What would you do first?
Something with creamy garlic sauce—
Strawberries—chocolate ice cream.
And then make love
Again and again and again, with every sense
On overdrive, and doze off
Smelling her sweat and hearing her whispers.
You’d almost forgotten
How sensuous sleep can be.
Wake up. Repeat,
But with a change of menu:
Coffee, hot eggs with cheese melted over,
Cold white wine, bacon,
Peaches and whipped cream.
Continue this for forty years
Then turn your attention
To intellectual growth and refinement.
Sit with works of Plato, Milton,
Kant, Chaucer, and St. Augustine.
Twenty minutes should do it.
Then get back to the important stuff.
A soft wind blew across the moor,
And the heather danced in tune,
Some grouse flew up to test the air,
Then snuck back, into its sweet perfume.
A sparrow hawk circled low,
In anticipation of its prey,
Then attracted by some other thing;
It quickly flew away.
A beauty haunts this desolate place,
With its contours shaped by ice,
Where beasts can still roam wild and free –
A small touch of paradise.
Bracken on the moor-edge slopes,
Mixed flora in the glens,
All produce their radiant colours,
Without the help or seed of men.
The walkers-path is overgrown,
Not many came this year,
The changes in the weather,
Have brought many summer storms to Clare.
There are some patches now of topsoil,
I hadn’t noticed at first glance,
Just a small sign – like so many others –
That we are on our final chance.