vendredi 31 décembre 2010


Photo by Jamie Rood (permission pending). Jamie took this photograph somewhere in the Texas panhandle.

for Stephen

we hopped into your 50s chev
and away we went
you from your french horn
second seat miami orchestra
me from my boredom and wrath

you were 25
and i was just 15
yet i made you love me
to follow my every command
by exercising your anxieties

you were so easy to
jerk around

i channeled god
as we road the north
florida borders
the scent of jasmine
wafted in and found us

yet i felt nothing
but heat and death
and wanted nothing less
as we disappeared
into texas

helotes that tiny town
with so many men
your army friend who
laughed at you and left
we never knew where

i told you about the
apocalypse and you
bought every word of it
but little did you know
that i was going under

under the knife
as i seized and cramped:
in the recovery room
i called out your name
i want my husband!

i gave you religion
and you gave me
i suppose i deserved it
for using you that way

but the scar is still there
after 40 years

mardi 28 décembre 2010


there's nothing black and
white in this life
if not hues of rainbows
there are infinite grays
and shades of past
and future lives
complicated questions
irritating subtexts
and massive attacks
like losing everything again
standing in the rain
with your old yellow backpack
and a paper sack with an
empty cigarette pack inside
a signpost to boston
and not one car on the road
and yet you go on
and on and on and on
in the great undertow
with patterns of light
that your feet just seem
to follow as if
driven or guided
or whatever finds you
safe and alive

dimanche 26 décembre 2010

for charlie sonier, forty years on

i remember sitting in your
small room in worcester
a year after our separation
you seemed so timid and tender
and i missed your small hands on my body
the way our long noses fit together
as if the universe had created us
like a puzzle one for the other

you took your guitar into your arms
and played albeniz and bach
gone were the blues of robert johnson
you carefully lifted a record from its sleeve
and reveled in the voice of cleo laine
singing "friendly persuasion"

i was so touched by your evolution
and knew in my heart that
it happened because i left you
took my broken raped tortured soul
and moved to webster
where i wept over your loss for years
remembering your strong hands
and how they loved and healed me

forty years on
i still find myself thinking about
your beautiful french-italian nose
the way you played my body
like you played guitar
with that plaintive love and longing
that continues to make me
a better person

samedi 25 décembre 2010

a very bad christmas

when your whole family
thinks you're a fraud
and it's christmas eve
and you're driving home
in the pouring rain
after being yelled at
by your eldest son
for always being sick--
"not her fault," says your husband
"whose it then, god's?"--
after you've passed the day
in the endodentist's office
having a root canal on your
second front tooth after two
days of nerve pain from hell
and the residual pain from
your earlier visit with mom
and all you want to do
is come give your grandson
his christmas presents and
see and share his christmas joy
show each of them your love
but it's not good enough...

when you've driven for
four hours to see your mother
in spite of nausea and exhaustion
and all she does is taunt you
for being lazy and stupid
because you don't get, never have
that she's weak and half-blind
a recognition missing from your
relationship all these years
she's a bitch and she knows it
why not take her advice and
go away and leave her alone!
whatever you do won't be
enough, for example
the "new yorker box"
you made by hand is
clearly shelved, as she sits
on her porch with a cigarette
and her third vodka and tonic
and you're hurt but silent
as you shut the apartment door
start the car and drive 
the four hours home.

you ask your husband
to call your youngest son
because he won't take your calls
rejects your emails
tells you you were the
worst mother on earth and
writes on his blog that his
father, dead one year, is his
hero, the father whose abuse
drove you to your first
nervous breakdown, threatened
your life and beat the love right
out of you, and now at christmas
you who always use your
illness as a crutch, after you
spent hours on the phone
helping him through anxiety
attacks and bad breakups
and you know now that it will
never be enough, not after
you asked that same father to
shelter him and he told your
boy terrible lies about you
and now at 25, he won't talk
to you and all you do is worry
because the motto on his
myspace page is: i think i'm
dying, really...

and you sit next to your husband
bumping along at 55mph
sick as a dog on christmas eve
blinking in and out of consciousness
and you wonder how to go on
when the people you love the most
don't believe you're sick, only
believe you're crazy
and it's all about them
and how your unreliability affects
their plans, your mother is yelling
just don't come! if it means
she'll have to wait another day
even if you stay a day extra
or your son is yelling, just don't
come! if it means that you won't 
be able to spend the night on
his couch, even if you love him enough
to come after a root canal
to spend time with your grandson
oh how he loves you and grandpa
he called a week before just
to make sure you got there,
and you promised.

what have you done wrong to be
so utterly dissed by your family?
and if your family can't understand
what about the rest of the world
that doesn't have any attachment
to the wretched and disabled?
your husband grabs your hand and
squeezes it. you don't need words
as you ride the mountains
toward the coast, your sadness
and anger palpable as sandpaper.

mardi 21 décembre 2010

pensée libre

je me sens femme
sans borderlines
sans fin
sans zeitgeist du temps

femme dans tout les sens
blanc de l'innocent
noir du profond
femelle mâle
petite graine d'un enfant
idiot savant

bordella mortelle
mistah sistah
wicked witch
phénix aux cendres

see me fly, papa
hear my name, mama
je me sens:

samedi 18 décembre 2010

A Fragile Peace

I'm brokering a peace 
with myself everyday,
negotiating the pitfalls 
of redundancy:

A warmed half apple 
sweetens my blood,
i'm up and moving, feeding the cat,
watering the plants:

They've outgrown their pots,
lying on sticky counters,
and I make a mental note
to buy new ones
once i can leave the house again
and face the bevy of stressed faces
dashing down the snow-white 
aisles that blind me,
once i can pick up the dried sticks, 
the tinder of this illness, 
and put them aside.

I might even make a bonfire
and invite the whole family over:
We can celebrate the coming year
the way we used to,
with a large red Le Creuset 
of my Christmas stew,
myriad guests and neighbor kids
running through the rooms,
the exchange of gifts
bought with hard-earned dollars
from the work I loved
before the crippling started;
but it started long before 
I was conscious of it.

As I sit down to rest
and gather that fragile peace,
I shuffle through the piles
of unread books:
the best sellers, healing
manuals, and chapbooks
of friends and confidants.
Perhaps this will be the year
that I join them, the year
I can concentrate long enough
to gather my manuscript
and submit it.
I'm making progress,
tapering off the narcotics,
writing poems for it.

I hear the water boil for
my umpteeth cup of tea,
and I'm again on my feet.
The cat straggles behind me
hoping for a treat:
I give her one, pulling
open the foil and dumping
a few squares on the floor:
I scratch her raised-up bottom
and she purrs, with that ruh-ruh-ruh
she makes while she's eating.

Back at the couch,
I scan the satellite guide for movies:
A Christmas Story, Miracle on
34th Street, The Lion in Winter.
I will begin them all before
Christmas comes, I'll lie
back on my pillows and fall asleep:
I'll dream the plots as if
I were writing them.

My daughter-in-law Vengie and me, Christmas '09 

mercredi 15 décembre 2010

politique de noël 2010

her white-headed boy
her brave son, as she calls him
will not be detered from
his stated purpose
walled underground
in a solitary cell
awaiting bail that
may never come

julian's mother
knows what's going on
as a secret grand jury
is being cobbled
together in virginia
probably close to
bradley's holding cell
in quantico, the prison

both mothers must be
brokenhearted this christmas
must hope that all the
wise men gathering
round their sons
can save them from
a public crucifixion

an early easter threatens
not the birth of truth and justice
but the end of it

mercredi 8 décembre 2010

A Working Class Hero: John Lennon on his 30th Anniversary

"If you want to be a hero, well, just follow me..."

Thanks so much to my friend Paulette Thomson for remembering this song, so poignant on this 30th anniversary of John's death by the hand of a lost soul. The line above is so ironic in retrospect because it's a path that few would choose, a path made from the actions of heroes, people who sacrificed vain glory and lived fearlessly in order to see a better day for others, ordinary people like you and me who did the extraordinary.

We raise our hands to the sky and demand, Why, in the end, are the great souls of peace and justice murdered? I think we already know one answer: because they and truth stood in the face of powers that will do anything to silence them and maintain the imperialist status quo. Religious powers. Political powers. Powers of the powerless driven to irrational acts.

The documentary "The U.S. vs. John Lennon", written and directed by David Leaf and John Scheinfeld, details the file the FBI kept on John Lennon. The final shots that rang out on December 8, 1980, were as politically brutal as those that struck Gandhi, John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy. I'm sure there are millions more heroes throughout history whose names we will never know. For then and for now, we salute you. ~LT

Working Class Hero
(John Lennon, 1970)

As soon as you're born they make you feel small
By giving you no time instead of it all
Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all

A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

They hurt you at home and they hit you at school
They hate you if you're clever and they despise a fool
Till you're so crazy you can't follow their rules

A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

When they've tortured and scared you for twenty odd years
Then they expect you to pick a career
When you can't really function you're so full of fear

A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV
And you think you're so clever and classless and free
But you're still peasants as far as I can see

A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

There's room at the top they are telling you still
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill
If you want to be like the folks on the hill

A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

If you want to be a hero, well, just follow me
If you want to be a hero, well, just follow me

mardi 7 décembre 2010


it's 4:40 and dark as mud
they've changed the clocks
to accommodate the
bean counters
no one likes their beds
calling them at 7
and each one knows
there will be no recovery
inside where it counts

everything will stay
heavy and off balance
until the maiden comes
with her bloated apron
of seeds and wildflowers
for summer wheat
and after the scattering
lays herself down
and accepts into her own
the sun's great body

edvard munch, winter night, 1923

lundi 6 décembre 2010

Trouble - Cat Stevens

une chanson qu'on se sent dans l'âme...

samedi 4 décembre 2010

Des Armes / Weapons (A Translation)

by Léo Ferré as covered by Noir Désir. The French rock group broke up as of 12/01/10.

Des armes, des chouettes, des brillantes
Des qu'il faut nettoyer souvent pour le plaisir
Et qu'il faut caresser comme pour le plaisir
L'autre, celui qui fait rêver les communiantes

Weapons, fantastic things, brilliant things
Things it's necessary to clean often for pleasure
And that it's necessary to caress as if for pleasure
Also, what makes the communion takers dream

Des armes bleues comme la terre
Des qu'il faut se garder au chaud au fond de l'âme
Dans les yeux, dans le cœur, dans les bras d'une femme
Qu'on garde au fond de soi comme on garde un mystère

Weapons blue like the earth
Things it is necessary to keep warm in the center of your soul
In your eyes, in your heart, in the arms of a woman
That you keep in the center of the self the way you keep a secret

Des armes, au secret des jours
Sous l'herbe, dans le ciel et puis dans l'écriture
Des qui vous font rêver très tard dans les lectures
Et qui mettent la poésie dans les discours

Weapons, in the secret of days
Under grass, in the sky and then in writings
Thing that make you dream very late in your readings
And that put poetry into our discourse

Des armes, des armes, des armes
Et des poètes de service à la gâchette
Pour mettre le feu aux dernières cigarettes
Au bout d'un vers français brillant comme une larme

Weapons, weapons, weapons
And poets in the service of the trigger happy
Lighting the last cigarettes
At the end of a line of French poetry shining like a tear

trans. Laura Tattoo

mercredi 1 décembre 2010

Happy Birthday, Alain. Live forever.

A video I made for the 2010 birthday of Alain Bashung (Dec. 1, 1946 - Mar. 14, 2009).