dimanche 29 mars 2009

"Webster, Mass. - 1972" to be published

The first poem I wrote for this blog, "Webster, Mass. - 1972", has been accepted for publication in Rain magazine, a glossy magazine of writing, art and photography, published yearly in Astoria, Oregon. This will be Rain's 41st edition. You can link to the poem here.

vendredi 27 mars 2009

Alain Bashung - Faites monter

Extrait de l'album de Bashung "l'imprudence" (2002), une volée de mots, de noirceur à écouter et réecouter sans fin...

Dans ma cornue
J'y ai versé
Six gouttes de ciguë
Un peu d'espoir
Ca d'épaisseur
Et j'ai touillé

Du fond de ma boutique
Monte un cantique
Un hymne à l'amour aurifère

Faites monter l'arsenic
Faites monter le mercure
Faites monter l'aventure
Au-dessus de la ceinture
Et les pépites
Jetez les aux ordures

Dans ma cornue
J'y ai versé
Une pincée d'orgueil
Mal placé
Un peu de gâchis
En souvenir de ton corps

Dans ma cornue
J'y ai coulé
Une poignée d'orages
Dans ma cornue
J'y suis tombé
Quelle autre solution
Que de se dissoudre

Faites monter l'arsenic
Faites monter le mercure
Faites monter l'aventure
Au-dessus de la ceinture
Et les pépites
Jetez les aux ordures

Dans les faubourgs
Je décante
Le soir à la lune montante
Au matinje reprends connaissance

Faites monter l'adrénaline
Faites monter l'arsenic
Faites monter l'aventure
Au-dessus de la ceinture
Et les pépites
Jetez les aux ordures

Faites monter
Faites monter

Faites monter l'adrénaline
Faites monter l'arsenic
Faites monter l'aventure
Au-dessus de la ceinture

Faites monter
Faites monter

House on Fire

Pour Alain Bashung qui m'en faisait envie¹

My favorite singer and songwriter of all time and the person I often called "le deuxième homme de ma vie", Alain Bashung, died Saturday, March 14, 2009, in Paris. One week later, I scrawled out this poem "House on Fire"; the theme was mixed up with things I had been angry about, Alain's death being #1, but also my own sickness and pain and NOT being in Paris (where i belonged, of course). It was a short-lived depression; things settled down once more, and I went back to work on the poem a week later, bound and determined to honor this great poet and the struggle he had fought valliantly for six years with cancer. After five hours of writing, mentally exhausted, I listened to Alain's music for the first time since he had died; I hadn't even realized that I'd been avoiding it. Wrestling with this poem and with his beautiful music streaming into my ears, I suddenly realized the full loss of him and could finally cry out with tears of grief.

Three weeks before Alain Bashung died, he was honored with three French Grammies, Victoires de la Musique, for best concert, best male performer, and best album of the year, and the distinction of garnering more Victoires than any other musician before him. He was physically weak that night but he performed splendidly, and received several long standing ovations. His fans were all so happy for him; he deserved every accolade. Although he had been in chemo and radiation therapy all year long, he never stopped touring until the final two weeks... at 61, he took the stage unabashedly, without hair and eyebrows with his signature hats and dark glasses; and in spite of the cancer, he never lost his beautiful voice, as I describe it, of velvet and bone. I was fortunate to see him again in May 2008 in Lyon, knowing then it would be the last time I would see him alive; I was awed by his energy and courage.

Alain leaves his beautiful wife Chloé Mons , their 3-yr old daughter, a 17-year-son, and thousands of fans who grew up and old with him. And I, the late-coming American in 2002, was forever changed by him for the good. Merci à jamais, Alain. Your music has made you immortal; it's just this damned body that got in the way.

"Etre mort, c'est une chose, mais continuer à mourir..." ~A.B.

This house is on fire
I'm getting out
while I still can
Ice is melting
off the ceiling
Floorboards crackle
beneath my feet, like
Sacagawea, I'm a
guiding light, seeking
freedom from the
burning bush and
I'm in a rush
a big rush, I'm
arrhythmic, reactionary
and drugged
aware of nothing
but my pulse, my pulse
the fastest flames
flicking at my nightshirt
heat on my skin and
that impulse to live
in spite of everything

This house is on fire
I must get out
before it's too late
before my dreams are
vanquished, every
memory overcome by
pain and murder
and there's nothing left
but my ignorance
for this life i've
freely given, that
infinite life of ours
where everyone lives
100 years and
there is time to
realize one's raison d'être
or cross oceans, like
a pioneer, I've survived
savage attacks, I've fought
back and slackened when
things got safe
I'm human

The house is on fire and
I've lived so many times, there
are no more reprisals, I've
done my penance, I've
boiled the onion, I've
stocked the shelves
with my earthly
goods, I've raised
children, buried
spouses, loved
men and women, I've
given up the ghosts
of the past except
those that clung like
sublimation, but my
body broke, so I
took my pills like
a good man before God
and a few too
many doctors who
thought they were
Still they tried to exorcise
the demon cancer and
I must thank them

Now our abode is
burning to the ground
and with it mon corps
and my only thought
is get out, get out!
And yet I feel guilt, that
sixth sense that blesses
my oriental spirit
that failure of logic from
trauma after trauma
and analysis I've never
done when danger
came crashing through
the proverbial door

Don't you see,
my darlingmost?
I was born with
this birthmark
on my breast, and I
must confess, I probably
deserved it because
I've toyed with life and
sometimes lied, mostly
to myself, but now the
fire is setting off every
alarm on every floor
and I'm anxious for
a reason, I must
protect myself, I must
prendre place
There is not enough
air left, not enough
blood, I'm running out
of layers of onion
I'm down to nothing
but fire, ice and
a compulsion to run
with love, with love
to rescue myself
from the tyranny of
the kill, it's setting fires
all over the world
burning the earth
dive-bombing the poor
and the s.o.b.'s
have no conscience

In these days of ours
death has become arsonist
and I his next victim
but not down with
this house, this fire trap
this insignificance
I feel as I await the
the grim reaper
He will come one day
cigarette in his hand
sickness in his eyes
the blue white and red
cradling the sky
and blazing from his head
an enormous bonfire
and it's all
the sweetest nonsense
my dreams spun by
fairy spiders, my nightmares
over, my body restored
to its former glory
and my love, my life
my France on approach
like l'aube for Rimbaud
or the voice of Bashung
et moi libre, libre

¹An allusion to Bashung's song "Faisons envie" which
kept me alive more times than I care to say

mercredi 25 mars 2009

Slug Fest

Tonight I'm studying
slugs, the way they
appear on the rug on
my front porch by
the door each time
storms appear over Astoria
and deluge the earth
with their highly charged
ions and nourish
spring's first buds
and fill up puddles.

I often think the
slugs are already dead,
they never move but
hang out in the center
of the carpet, matted
wet on the unprotected
porch, as the slant of
rains pummels the
floorboards and the
line of empty pots that
hold my cigarette butts.

When I go out next,
when a dense craving
overwhelms me, the
creature has moved to
a new position, a
trail of glistening slime
behind it, its tiny
antennae slowly moving
back to front and
again in a dance,
feeling each sliver of
drop or gust when
wind gets woolly
before a downpour.

I think it must be
safer on this half-protected
porch than down below the
walk, in the dirt, the
muck, the grass, where on
each object holds
something like an ocean
for smaller slugs, but
that does not explain
the largest ones, fat
and fetid, who make
their way to the carpet
in summer, only to
get stuck and dry out
and die in a sort
of Dante's inferno, the
ultimate setup for a
doomed slug fest.

When the next wave
of wanting comes, I
make my way to my
rocker and sit, but as
my bottom hits the
seat, my slipper slips
and slides on the
little body, the object
of my former study, and
horrified, I look down
to find that I've
quickened a life for
its demise, and
now I must do the
only thing I can, push
harder on it, smash
out its little life on
earth, on this rug on
a porch which was
once its asylum.

How brutal life can
be for slugs, for all
of us, for you and me
who try our best to
live like saints only
to give up the ghost
in a torrent of
spring or in summer
just as we ripen or
in autumn when the
macintosh apples hit
the ground or in
winter when we're
ready, when it's a
blessing to be rid
of this cold cold
world and its slug
fest and its endless
fits and starts at zero
when we're too fatigued
to do it all again or
we don't have a
chance in hell like
my onetime friend
who did nothing but
seek refuge on my rug
and found a kind of
love that was both
compassion and
cruelty rolled into
one, and I a god, a
seeker and
a murderer.

jeudi 19 mars 2009

Les Funerailles de Bashung vendredi matin

Merci pour tout, mon amour...

Politics vs. Spirit

oh yes, and it’s all about power, isn’t it? and isn’t that where it all becomes so political instead of sooo spiritual? and if there is a god, wouldn’t that be the alpha-omega of all power, and wouldn’t one just want to become smaller and smaller before it?

any challenge or even assumed competition to political power is always hated, recoiled, chased away. and the beat goes on… between the abusers and the abused. break the cycle, bébé! it’s beautiful out here, in here. ~lt xooxox