Saturday, December 31, 2011

What I Read in 2011: Book Edition


January

1. Selected Poems, Apollinaire
2. Sky, Michael Benedict
3. The Complete Poems, Stephen Crane
4. Ulysses, James Joyce
5. Poems Seven, Alan Dugan

February

6. The Tormented Mirror, Russell Edson
7. Off the Map, Gloria Fuertes
8. Vita Nova, Louise Gluck
9. What Narcissism Means to Me, Tony Hoagland
10. Collected Poems, James Joyce
11. Passing Through, Stanley Kunitz
12. Masterpieces of Japanese Puppetry; Sculptured Heads of the Bunraku Theater, Roy Andrew Miller, English adaptation
13. The Whitsun Weddings, Philip Larkin
14. Travels, W.S. Merwin

March

15. Dear Blood, Leonard Nathan
16. Love Poems of Ovid, trans. Horace Gregory
17. Winter Trees, Sylvia Plath
18. Selected Poems, Pierre Reverdy
19. A Simple Plan, Gary Soto
20. Malloy, Samuel Beckett
21. Riven Doggeries, James Tate
22. The Dirt, Nance Van Winckel

April

23. Swann’s Way, Marcel Proust
24. Riding the Earthboy, James Welch
25. The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck
26. The Foggist, Dean Young
27. Family Reunion, Paul Zimmer 

May

28. Fate, Ai
29. The Stillness, the Dancing, Linda Bierds
30. Within a Budding Grove, Marcel Proust
31. The Poems of Catullus, trans. Peter Whigham

June

32. The Bomb, Howard Zinn
33. A Drifting Life, Yoshihiro Tatsumi
34. Candide, Voltaire
35. Aunt Julia & the Scriptwriter, Mario Vargas Llosa

July

36. Boone’s Lick, Larry McMurtry
37. The Crying of Lot 49, Thomas Pynchon
38. A Russian Beauty & Other Stories, Vladimir Nabokov

August

39. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
40. Poems Seven, Alan Dugan (2nd time this year)
41. Collected Poems, T.S. Eliot

September

42. Something Rotten, Jasper Fforde
43. An Imaginary Life, David Malouf
44. Complete Poems, Kenneth Fearing
45. The Great Fires, Jack Gilbert

October

46. The Erotic Poems, Ovid, Peter Green, trans.
47. The Legend of Light, Bob Hicok
48. War & Peace, Leo Tolstoy, Constance Garnett, trans.

November

49. La Vagabonde, Colette
50. The Moviegoer, Walker Percy
51. Ghost Town, Robert Coover

December
52. Inherent Vice, Thomas Pynchon
53. The Dwarf, Par Lagerkvist
54. The Complete Poems, Randall Jarrell
55. The Art of Love, Kenneth Koch

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Rewriting Jarrell's "The Soldier"

In the first year
of the first war
each taught each
to give all for all,
all alike, the poor
& the poorer,
deaths sown over
continents like salt
for the old
evil--the good
of trade, so books
once red
as blood may show
a profit to die for.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

In a Dream

You see her standing
under a bare tree, red hair
tied in a kerchief, raking
leaves into a basket.  Clouds
rest atop branches,
fading into white.
But look! in the pocket
of her flowered smock
is a letter she's addressed
to you, her secret pal.

________________________________________

Note: What is it about this poem? It's about as deep as a pile of leaves, but maybe that's why I kind of, sort of like it. I wrote it some 20 odd years ago--bizarre years, to be precise--after receiving an anonymous greeting card in the mail. On the outside, a woman rakes; inside,below a predictably unmemorable message, it's signed, "Your Secret Pal," with each letter amusedly printed backward, as if I would want to hold it up to a mirror to crack the secret code. More than likely, I like the poem not because of its poetic merits, but simply because it reminds me of the "mysterious" card. What would I.A. Richards say about that?Cleanth Brooks? I can't recall submitting my little poem for publication--I've spared it that indignity. In fact, I've shown it to two or three people prior to posting it here, which brings the number to upward of, say, five readers. One problem, I worry, though possibly it's just me, that the expression, "her secret pal," may sound a bit, albeit unintentionally, like a euphemism for menstruation.  Anyone?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Toward a Better Tomorrow

Despite the illusory nature of freedom, I've long been Pro-Choice, but lately I've seen the danger of such liberal thinking.  Now I've thrown my considerable weight--it's glandular--behind mandatory abortions.  A simple analysis of current crime statistics, not to mention the problem of overcrowded prisons, alone would justify my position.  Plus, as any nimrod can tell you--Sean Hannity, for instance--you can't be too soft on crime.  Take the problem of illegal aliens, which is, foremost, the term, "illegal aliens."  They, if I'm not mistaken, began as unborn babies. Erecting an electrified fence around our border would prove unnecessarily idiotic when worldwide mandatory abortions would not only cut out this problem in its pre-infancy, if you will, but also close the legal loophole that protects anchor babies.  No baby, no anchor, no problem.  The solution is so simple that it's surprising that Michele Bachmann hasn't stumbled across it. 

To place mandatory abortion in an historical perspective, if everyone were forced to have an abortion in, say, the late 19th century, a poor working Euro-tramp wouldn't have given birth to a boy who'd grow up to be--yes, that's right--Adolf Hitler.  Roundly recognized now as the poster child for evil, Hitler could now become the poster boy for mandatory abortions if Rush Limbaugh won't sign on to the cause.  I suppose Glenn Beck would do in a pinch--he'll do anything for a buck.

Obviously, the aforementioned mothers would have been well advised not to have had down & dirty demonic sex with Satan & his minions, but once mandatory abortion becomes law, the threat of demon spawn is effectively minimalized. To be fair, it's time we stop vilifying the devil & give him his due.  According to pulpit pundit Pat Robertson, slavery ended in Haiti thanks to Satanic intervention. If true--he swears it is--then we need to reconsider the hackneyed image of the devil as evil incarnate & accord him the recognition long overdue for his admirable work as an abolitionist. All praise Satan!

Of course, if abortions were mandatory, then only outlaws would have babies. Well, that's not what I was going to say, but there's that to consider. It certainly doesn't take much imagination, so no doubt some Hollywood hotshot, perhaps the same person who ripped off my Rock'em Sock'em Robots idea, is rushing into production, at this very instant, a cheesy sci-fi flick in which a young couple in love & on the lam wander across a crumbling dystopian landscape of overreaching religious symbolism, hiding in one slummy hole-in-the-wall after another to escape the soulless bureaucrats who, out to out Herod Herod,mean to terminate, as is the law in those dark days to come,the unborn babe, who represents the last glint of hope for humanity. Featuring High School Musical's Katie Morgan as Ave Maria & the omnipresent Shia LeBeouf as Joe the Plumber. What, no Seth Rogen?  No, he's busy writing & producing his new project, in which he stars as an underachieving donor sperm, who, with his ne'erdowell friends, must overcome internal conflicts & biological warfare--literally--when they're injected into Katherine Heigl's system in order to fertilize her lovely, lonely egg in an hilarious remake of Fantastic Voyage.

Anyway, I was going to say that if abortions had been mandatory centuries ago, certain great personages would have never existed.  Sadly, this is true, but the downside of not enacting mandatory abortions carries such great risk that society simply can't take that chance.  Ultimately, it comes down to math:  for every Albert Schweitzer, countless dictators, rapists, murderers, pedophiles, pickpockets, CEOs, & Fox pundits are allegedly born.  There'd be no Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Thor or whatever, but on the upside, there'd also be no The Passion of the Christ, or subsequent anti-Semitic Mel Gibson rants, so think about that.

Indeed, most of the world's problems--terrorism, overpopulation, global warming, drug abuse, racism, sexism, inequality, poverty, disease & so on--could be eliminated via mandatory abortions.  Clearly, humankind--"humanunkind," more like--is responsible for nearly all the world's problems.  Why don't our so- called leaders have the guts to address this issue?  Hell if I know. Do those guys ever make any sense? Not to me, who, one may rightly argue, would not exist if my stinking fetus had been aborted all those years ago. However, that's hardly a new idea.  During my late teens & early 20s, my parents constantly & loudly lamented that I'd ever been born. I confess to similar feelings myself--about my parents.  I mean, my dad was a lifelong alcoholic who never finished high school, yet I could never do anything to live up to his "high" standards. Then there's my mom, who kept buying New Coke for me, no matter how much I complained that it tasted like a skanky stripper pissed in a bottle. (Yes, I know how that tastes--true story!)

Admittedly, even if mandatory abortions were made law this very day, we would still wake up tomorrow with many of the same problems we face today.  Change takes time & meanwhile, life drones on.  What can we do now to bring about immediate change?  I suggest, as a stopgap measure, privatizing the United Nations to make it an effective, multi-national corporation.  Next, institute the Profit of Peace program, which, to sum up quickly, works thusly:  if a nation wants peace, it has to pay for it.  Can't pay?  Won't pay?  That would be viewed as an act of war.  U.N. forces would then converge upon the financially strapped country with all its shock & awe.  This may sound like extortion to a wuss, but as any pinhead knows--shout out to Bill O'Reilly--the Great Depression ended because President Lincoln, guns ablazing, entered WWII. So, ipso-facto, if governments today can't afford to pay for peace, a U.N. military invasion will invigorate the economy of otherwise depressed countries.  It's a win-win situation unless, of course, you invade Afghanistan--that place is a money pit!
   

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sir Philip Sidney's "An Apology for Poetry" (Abridged)*

If I offended anyone, I'm sorry.  Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa. It was a poem, OK?  Maybe someone who's knighted shouldn't make poems, but people need to recognize poetry when they hear it.  So I'm not going to apologize for poetry.  It's not a waste of time & the mother of lies, but a superior form of communication that serves a host of purposes.  Plato may be right when he says "secure the border" against poetry & that may mean electrifying the Gates of Poetry or deploying troops where it's truly terrible. Poetry should instruct & delight.  I like poetry, so I'm not walking away from it.  I just don't want to offend anyone.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Walter Sobchak's Take on Occupy Wall St.

What can they do? They're a bunch of fucking amateurs, & meanwhile, look at the bottom line: Who's sitting on a million fucking dollars? Those rich fucks! This is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass! I did not watch my buddies die face down in the muck so that this . . . shut the fuck up, Donnie!  This is not a worthy adversary. These men are nihilists. These men are cowards. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, at least it's an ethos. Fucking Nazis. As if we would ever "dream" of taking your bullshit money!  You know, I myself dabbled in pacifism once. Not in 'Nam of course. Have you ever heard of Vietnam? So you have no frame of reference. Pacifism is not something to hide behind. We're talking about unchecked aggression here. You're entering a world of pain. You want a toe? I can get you a toe, believe me. There are ways. You don't wanna know about it, believe me. Hell, I can get you a toe by 3 o’clock this afternoon . . . with nail polish.  Has the whole world gone crazy? Am I the only one around here who gives a shit about the rules?  For your information, the Supreme Court has roundly rejected prior restraint. Also, let's not forget–let's not forget, that keeping wildlife, an amphibious rodent, for uh, domestic, you know, within the city–that ain’t legal either.  Am I wrong?  This is not 'Nam.  There are rules.  Fuck it, Dude, let's go bowling.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Real Steel Or Reel Steal?

I may be flogging the proverbial dead horse, if that's what the kids call it these days, but before you answer the title question, you'll need to read my post "Rock'em Sock'em Robots:  The Movie" from May 18, 2009.  Go ahead--I'll wait.

Back already?  Whoa, what are you, a speed reader?  I barely had time to check my Facebook page & believe me, that doesn't take long.  Sheesh, over 700 friends & I rarely hear from anyone.  Will Rogers-- brother of Roy, I think--once said & he said a lot of things, "A stranger is just a friend you haven't met."  On Facebook, the converse often holds true. 

So anyway.  So I had an idea for a movie & it's possible that someone may have used--without my permission, I may add & indeed, I believe I just did--that idea in a movie, starring Huge Jackass, no less.  So?  So consider the copyright statute:

Copyright protection subsists, in accordance with this title, in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.  17 U.S.C.102(a)

Real Steel?  Or Reel Steal?  You be the judge--I can't afford an actual one.  They're pricey! 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Odi Et Amo

When down, I read.  To give you an inkling of the depths of my depression, I'm currently reading War & Peace.  It's the traditional translation by Constance Garnett, no longer the "preferred" version, but it's free online.  Besides, I doubt if a new translation would deliver a much better rendering of Tolstoy than the following passage:  “Looking into Napoleon's eyes, Prince Andrew thought of the insignificance of greatness, the unimportance of life which no one could understand, & the still greater unimportance of death, the meaning of which no one alive could understand or explain.”  That pretty much sums it up for me.  Halfway through the book, I don't know how it will all turn out, but I feel fairly confident, like most stories about princes & princesses, that it'll have a happy ending.

I'm also reading The Erotic Poems, Peter Green's translations of Ovid's Amores, Art of Love & Cures for Love.  To be honest, I like Horace Gregory's Love Poems of Ovid better, but that may derive, at least in part, from familiarity, given my having it read many times since I found it at a used bookstore decades ago for under a buck--what a bargain!  My main complaint about Green is that he often strikes me as too genteel.  For example, in Amores 3.7, which he dubs an explicit poem, Green renders politely:

She tried every trick--wound her arms (whiter than snow or
     Ivory) around me, pressed
Her thighs snug up under mine, plied me with sexy kisses,
     Tongue exploring like mad,
Whispered endearments, called me her master, tried me
     With nice four-letter words--they often help.
No good.  My member hung slack . . .

Rather than explicit, I'd give it a PG-13 rating, tops; perhaps a Hard-R is too much to ask from a poem about impotence.  Such priggishness reminds me of the reluctance, until late, to translate pedicabo et irrumabo in Catullus' infamous poem. Obviously, the thought was that readers were much too squeamish to hear threats of being forcibly sodomized unless uttered in Latin.  Today's audience would undoubtedly find it amusing were Bruce Willis, with his quirky trademark smirk & steely stare, to deliver a modern translation.

On the upside, not only does Green provide the complete poems, but also a concise biography of Ovid, as well as such bountiful endnotes that they comprise half the volume. If I recall, Green even gives endnotes to his endnotes. (In your face, TSE!) For the most part, these notes are informative, as when he points out lost puns, discusses the components of, say, an epicedion, or explains why Augustus found Ovid's poetry subversive.  At other times, I find the notes a bit befuddling, as when Green speculates--nay, insists--that various vaguely misogynous lines are directed at one of the poet's ex-wives.  Green doth project too much, methinks.  Elsewhere, Green compares Ovid's diction to that of "a bitchy homosexual."  I suppose Green feels it's ok to appeal to stereotypes to make a point--I just wish I knew what that point is.
 
Peccadillos aside, Green provides an informative, enjoyable read.  After I finish this collection, I plan to read his translations of The Poems of Exile: Tristia & the Black Sea Letters.  Also, I now have Horace Gregory's translation of The Metamorphoses.  (I've read both the Rolfe Humphries & Allen Mandelbaum translations.)  So if dead leaves, bare trees, the faint last rays of sunshine, or Tolstoy's epic fairy tale don't lift my flagging spirits, at least I have plenty to peruse.

Happily Ever After

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Return from the Himalayas, Part 6

An all-or-nothing choice is an example of a false dilemma; in reality, all is nothing.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Dream of Wheat

Dream of Wheat
Back in college, I dreamt one night about wheat. While I don’t recall the particulars–years erode memories–I remember the intensity of color. The vibrant sun shining on a bright yellow field filled me with wonder. At the time, I’m unsure now why, it struck me as vaguely sexual, but to paraphrase Freud (shrugging his shoulders): What isn’t?

Upon waking, I wrote down the dream, then began a rather lengthy project of molding my impressions, as is my wont, into poetry. What an impossible task it seemed to me–as if I were charged with rebuilding the sun! If I could find the poem, I’d consider posting it here, but Fate, a cruel mistress, has decided otherwise. For what it’s worth, my recollection is that it included the requisite allusion to Aldous Huxley, a soft-R depiction of Gaea’s long blonde hair streaming across my face during the impassioned throes of our lovemaking, & lithe, lean lions with golden manes. How all of these came together in a wheat field, I honestly don’t know, but back then, I had a thing for lions–& blondes!

Like Richard Dreyfus in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, I became rather obsessed with the dream’s imagery. Frustrated by the poem’s failure, like lumpy mashed potatoes, to capture the experience–dreams are experience– even though I’d not painted in several years, I attempted to recreate it in a watercolor (I’d dabbled in high school, though I much preferred acrylics & oils). The above image is of the wheat field, but feeling that it lacked the dream’s vivacity, I flipped the image over (see below) & called it, "Daybreak at Clearwater." I used to live there.

Daybreak at Clearwater

Friday, September 9, 2011

Lines from An Imaginary Life


Recently, while reading David Malouf's An Imaginary Life, I stumbled across the following passage, which I plucked from an awfully long paragraph & recast, with a couple of quick fixes, as a poem.  The ending may lean a tad to the unimaginative, but overall, I give it two imaginary thumbs up:


We are preparing to shut ourselves in.
Against the horsemen from the north,
who will surely appear again
as the river freezes & against the wolves.

 In each of us there is this sense of withdrawal
into ourselves, this retirement
into the body’s secret
light & warmth, out of the coming cold; this moving

further into some deep inner self that must remain
untouched by the closeness that will be forced
upon us in these winter months, when first
the town is shut up, then our houses . . .

We will spend days & nights equally
huddled together above
the one peat stone in the big central room

over the byre. Winter here is a time

of slow smoldering resentments, of suspicions,
of fantasies that grow as days move deeper
in the year’s darkness & cold
drives us closer together, yet further apart.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

On Last Looking into Eliot's Collected Poems

Eliot, as Walt Disney, introduces
"Mickey Among the Nightingales"
on The Wonderful World of Color.
I’m convinced that my previously held conviction that T.S. Eliot (pronounced "Z'eliot," as the "T" is silent), with the notable exception of two, maybe three poems--in particular "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," long a guilty pleasure--well, I don't want to say "sucks," but yeah, he kinda does, you know.*

One reason is Eliot's anti-Semitism, (e.g., his various allusions to The Jew of Malta & other depictions of Jews in a bad light). Admittedly, Eliot was a product of his time & in those days, anti-Semitism was all the rage. By that logic, however, one could argue that if everyone else is banging your daughter, you may as well bang her too. Sorry, perverts, but popularity doesn't make it right--even if she's ripe & practically begging for it, what with her trendy black jackboots & swastika tramp stamp.

Ok, one may ask, granted that anti-Semitism bites the big one, how does Eliot's biting it reflect negatively on his poetics? Simply put, content matters. Technique & craftsmanship alone don't great poems make. Poetry uses words & words have meanings. Get a dictionary if you don't get that. 
Eliot, as Bob Hope,
in The Big Broad-
cast of 1938

Speaking of content, another fault in Eliot's poetry lies in its didacticism. If he's not berating Jews, he's crowing like Simon Peter about Christianity. Both "Ash Wednesday" & "Choruses from The Rock" seem little more than overt attempts to proselytize the reader. (Personally, after Tooth Fairy, I didn't think The Rock could sink any lower, but "Choruses from The Rock," in my estimation, is worse even than Race to Witch Mountain.) **

As for craftsmanship, I don't know which I like less about these poems--the desire to proselytize readers or the shocking lack, line after preachy line, of imagery. Didn't Eliot say he preferred the Metaphysical poets to the Romantics because the former attached emotions to images? What happened to the objective correlative? The only image is the one in my imagination of Eliot in grand ecclesiatical robes perched at the pulpit reading his sermon while I slip, not so quietly, out. ***

Eliot, as Jack Benny, strikes
a familiar pose in It's a Mad,
Mad, Mad, Mad World
 In an oft-repeated story, Eliot gave pages & pages of rambling, disconnected lines to fascist friend, Ezra Pound, to make sense of.  In retrospect, in light of Pound's Cantos, this strikes me as hilarious. Reportedly, Pound cut huge chunks of trifling tripe; the leftovers we know today as The Waste Land. It makes my head swim, as if I were being waterboarded, to contemplate what material Pound felt too extraneous to leave in The Waste Land, a poem without a center, but I've essentially avoided the doubly long pre-Pound draft, published as a facsimile after Eliot's death. To be frank, I don't need more obscure, willy-nilly references to understand Eliot is a pompous ass, though I'll confess I sometimes have a cockeyed curiosity to read the unedited version, much like one will rubberneck a freeway car wreck for a passing glimpse of somebody else's tragedy.

Eliot, as Prof. Wagstaff, at the 1955
London Caedmon Readings
Perhaps a more apt analogy in this case would be the propensity to examine one's finger upon its removal from the nose to see just what was up there, given that Eliot's constant arcane allusions serve to showcase his snooty, snotty, superior intellect. As for his often satirized footnotes, my "favorite" includes a rather long passage--in Latin, of course--from Ovid's Metamorphoses, which Eliot cites for its "anthropological interest." The specious reasoning for the citation as well as its length--part of a footnote, remember--reminds me of my undergraduate essays, in which, under time constraints, I'd add particularly long quotations, pertinent or not, in order to to make the required page limit in order to maintain my GPA. For Eliot, though, it seems a matter of maintaining pretensions.

In short, beneath much of his poetry lies the same simple, moralistic possum: the only hope for breaking the vile & vicious cycle of birth, copulation & death--the curse of humanity--comes via God through a once-in-a-lifetime offer. Some restrictions may apply. Please check your ethnicity for availability.
____________________________

Notes:

* "T.S." stands for "The Shit." I lied beforehand.

** The Rock has actually appeared in worse movies, such as . . . just about any of them.

*** What the thunder really said: Shaddup shaddup shaddup.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

When I Was Young


I liked to draw & paint.  For a while, I considered majoring in art when I went to college, if for no other reason than live nude models.  Though true that, decomposition aside, dead models can seemingly hold a pose forever, scouring cemeteries for fresh graves to locate suitable corpses for my artistic endeavors proved exhausting, especially on school nights.  Ultimately, poetry--my first love, my only love--won out.  Being a poet doesn't require skulking about graveyards, but it sure to hell doesn't hurt.  Since I'm unfamiliar with the statute of limitations regarding grave robbing, I'm reluctant to share examples of my "art necro" here, but perhaps the sketch shown below may illustrate why I opted to study literature & creative writing instead.

Self portrait at 17



Thursday, August 11, 2011

Follow Your Dreams

We're often told to follow our dreams, but sometimes in the day-to-day hustle & bustle of trying to make a buck, our dreams are lost along the swerving, curving highway of life. That's why it's good advice to tag your dreams electronically, much like scientists do to track animals in the wild. Thanks to today's state-of-the-art monitoring devices, you'll always know where to find your dreams, no matter how far you are from them, so you'll never have to scour through the stinking rubble of your faded hopes & discarded aspirations again for that last tiny, shiny shard of your lost dreams.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Return from the Himalayas, Part 5

If someone were to ask if I'm happy, I can truly say, without hesitation, "You kidding?  I'm so goddam happy I could shit circus fucking ponies.  Thanks for asking, asshole." 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Good News

I've heard of it, but that kinda stuff only happens to other guys. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Obama's Yes, We (Republi)can Agenda

With the debt-ceiling deal, his latest piece of legislation, perhaps it's no longer accurate to accuse Pres. Obama of caving in.  More than likely, he's being true to his belief in Milton Friedman's economics.  The debt-ceiling "crisis" was a manufactured disaster that allowed the Blue Dog White House to enact regressive right-wing policies, not to mention to take attention away from his continued abuse of the War Powers Act.  Obama may claim he's for Main Street, but that's just the usual political rhetoric. (You don't get elected saying you side with the fat cats.)  Like most dupes in Washington, he's a fully owned subsidiary of Wall Street.  Just like free verse is free because you don't get paid for it (not really, but I wanted a poetry reference), there's a reason it's called "disaster capitalism":  the results are a fucking disaster.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Quote of the Day


The harder I try, the harder I work, the greater disappointment & frustration I feel when I don’t obtain what I’m working toward.

–Anonymous

Friday, July 29, 2011

Ratify

v.tr., ratified, ratifying, ratifies. 1. To cause the transformation of oneself or another into a rat. 2. To decree or to confirm officially as through legislation that one is a rat. 3. To act in a manner closely associated with a rat. [Latin, ratus, past participle of ratsass, to decline giving a fuck]

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

French Phrase Book Theatre


Scène première
SIMONE, JEAN PAUL

SIMONE:  Allons au restaurant ce soir!
JEAN PAUL:  C'est trop cher.
SIMONE:  On pourrait aller ailleurs.
JEAN PAUL:  Il fait nuit noire.  Attention a' la marche.
SIMONE:  Cet homme est un genie.

Scène II
SIMONE:  Tout le monde aime le bon vin.
JEAN PAUL:  Je ne bois plus une goute d'alcool.
SIMONE:  Coupe la viande, s'il te plait.
JEAN PAUL:  Il faut aiguiser ce couteau.

Scène III
JEAN PAUL:  Ce n'est pas juste.
SIMONE:  Ce que tu es mauvais joueur!

Scène IV
SIMONE:  On ne nait pas femme, on le devient.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Heat


if something doesn't turn
up soon I’ll officially
become a monk as if
you’d notice days echo
days begging the question of
how long before I drop
like a clay pot from the ledge
screaming

sorry I missed you sorry
for nothing last night
I nearly drove my mercury off
a hill trying like a teenager
driving with his dick to be
cool gawd almighty
it’s hot & people are dying
everywhere

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In Light of My Recent Birthday

I present a dark photo of myself at 19.



I know it looks as if I'm smoking, but I'm not.  In fact, it's an altogether different bad habit.  Lost in thought, I'm nibbling on the nub of my ballpoint--no doubt my lucky Papermate Slimline, glowing with the fire caused by the incredible velocity in which I wrote, perhaps immortalizing a pub napkin with one of my early poems, let's say, "Scenes from a Sonata," which appeared umpteen years later in Hunger Mountain.

Speaking of, "Scenes from a Sonata" is the opening poem in my Greatest Hits, which, last I checked, still isn't listed (for whatever reason) among the other such chapbooks at Pudding House.  However, as far as I know, you can purchase the book there.  In fact, you should purchase it--by whatever means necessary-- because the Google preview of Greatest Hits doesn't include the book in whole.  Also, the preview contains errors, most significantly a misprint of the aforementioned poem, that were corrected before the actual release of Greatest Hits, so I'm not giving a link here

Or perhaps, despite my wearing a winter coat in the above photo, I had just written "Heat."

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Blogma

  • Anthony Bloggus, A Blogwork Orange
  • Blogclair Lewis, Arrowblog, Blog Street, Blogsworth, Bloggit, Elmer Blogtry, Kingsblog Royal
  • Carson McBlogger, The Heart Is a Lonely Blogger
  • Charles Blogens, A Blog of Two Cities, Blogiver Twist, Blog House, The Old Curiosity Blog, Blog Expectations, David Bloggerfield, Blogolas Blogleby
  • Daniel DeBlog, Blogison Crusoe, Blog Flanders
  • E.M. Blogster, Where Angels Fear to Blog, A Blog with a View, A Passge to Blogia
  • Ernest Blogingway, For Whom the Blog Tolls, The Old Man & the Blog, The Sun Also Blogs, To Blog & Blog Not, A Farewell to Blogs
  • F. Blog Fitzgerald, The Great Blogsby
  • Flannery O’Blogger, Wise Blog, The Violent Blog It Away
  • Franz Blogka, "The Metamorphoblog"
  • Gabriel Garcia Blogquez, One Hundred Years of Blogitude
  • George Blogwell, Animal Blog
  • Gustave Flaublog, Madame Bloggery
  • Haruki Blogakami, The Wind-Up Blog Chronicle
  • Herman Blogville, Moby Blog, Billy Blogg, Blogito Cereno, "Blogleby, the Blogger"
  • Honore de Blogac, Pere Blogiot
  • Isaac Bloggis Singer, Blogsha
  • Jack Blogdon, The Call of the Blog
  • James Blogwin, Go Blog It on the Mountain
  • Jane Blogsten, Blog & Blogibility, Northblogger Abbey
  • J.D. Blogginger, The Blogger in the Rye, "A Perfect Day for Bloggerfish"
  • John Blogsey, Blogoshima, A Blog for Adano
  • John Steinblog, The Wayward Blog, The Blogs of Wrath, Bloggery Row, Tortilla Blogs, The Blogger of Our Discontent, To a Blog Unknown
  • Kurt Bloggegut, Jr., Slaughterhouse-Blog
  • Leo Blogstoy, Anna Blogenina
  • Marcel Blogst, Remembrance of Things Blogged (or In Search of Lost Blogs)
  • Miguel de Blogantes, Don Blogote
  • Nathaniel Blogthorne, The Scarlet Blogger, The House of Seven Bloggers, "Young Goodman Blog"
  • Pearl S. Blog, The Blog Earth
  • Philip Blog, Blognoy's Complaint
  • Rudblog Kipling, The Jungle Blog
  • Salman Blogdie, The Satanic Blogs
  • Saul Bloggow, The Adventures of Bloggie March, Humblog's Gift
  • Stendblog, The Red & the Blog
  • Steblog Crane, The Red Blog of Courage
  • Thomas Pynblog, The Blogging of Blog 49, Gravity's Rainblog
  • Toni Bloggison, The Blog of Solomon, The Bloggest Eye
  • Upton Blogclair, The Bloggle
  • Vladimir Nablogov, Bloglita
  • Victor Blogo, The Hunchblog of Notre Dame
  • Virginia Bloog, Mrs. Bloggoway, To the Bloghouse
  • William Blogkner, Blogsalom, Blogsalom!, As I Lay Blogging, Light in Blogust
  • W. Bloggerset Maugham, Of Human Bloggage

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

For the Love of Liszt

First, let me begin by saying how sorry I am about the misleading title--yes, it's a pun.  The truth of the matter is, however, I'm not in the least bit sorry.  Frankly, I've heard worse puns.  Anyway, to the point, since everyone is apparently obsessed with what I'm reading, I've provided below, with limited comments, a list of books of poetry I've read--in many cases re-read--thus far this year:

Selected Poems, Apollinaire (bow before his greatness)
Fate, Ai (yes)
Sky, Michael Benedict (underappreciated)
The Stillness, The Dancing, Linda Bierds (currently reading)
Collected Poems, Stephen Crane (prefer his fiction)
Poems Seven, Alan Dugan (best book I've read in a long time)
The Tormented Mirror, Russell Edson (the expected unexpected)
Off the Map, Gloria Fuertes (amazing)
Vita Nova, Louise Gluck (disappointing)
What Narcissism Means to Me, Tony Hoagland
Collected Poems, James Joyce (beats Ulysses, heh)
Passing Through, Stanley Kunitz (well, I don't dislike it)
The Whitsun Weddings, Philip Larkin (I met him once)
Travels, W.S. Merwin (more later in re: "Manual Cordova")
Dear Blood, Leonard Nathan
Love Poems of Ovid, trans. Horace Gregory (I <3 Ovid)
Winter Trees, Sylvia Plath (if you haven't read it, tsk tsk)
Selected Poems, Pierre Reverdy (cet homme est un genie)
A Simple Plan, Gary Soto (good stuff)
Riven Doggeries, James Tate (not his best but ok)
The Dirt, Nance Van Winckel (meh)
Riding the Earthboy, James Welch (more meh)
The Foggist, Dean Young (enjoyable)
Family Reunion, Paul Zimmer (Zimmer-esque)

If you've read any of these books, or maybe a title sounds a tad familiar, please feel free to share your thoughts & opinions here.  Also, if you have candy, preferably chocolate, I'd like that too.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What Are You Reading?

The Spring 2011 issue of Georgetown Review (see left) includes "Walking in Chicago with a Suitcase in My Hand," the title poem of my forthcoming collection. For the sake of clarity, I should point out that I haven’t yet exactly found a publisher, but I’m diligently looking for one, so "forthcoming," when I say it here, implies a certain degree of optimism.

If you can’t wait for the publication of my book–believe me, I know how you feel–then read on. For now, an exciting offer, available exclusively from The Great Encyclopedia of Universal Knowledge, brings the bluesy tapestry of poetry that has appeared (in addition to Georgetown Review) in various literary magazines, such as ABZ, Blue Collar, Blue Mesa, DMQ, Hunger Mountain, Interpoezia, Runes & many more, directly to your computer screen.

For a mere $10, the price of an exceptionally expensive cup of coffee, you can now receive a new poem, many from the approximately seventy-page "forthcoming" book, every month for a year. Like coffee, this poetry will energize you & give you that "can do" feeling to help you through the day, but unlike coffee, it won’t spill onto your keyboard or make you pee.

As a Poem-of-the-Month subscriber, you can offer comments or make suggestions about the poems (admittedly, I probably won’t listen) before my book actually goes to press.  Also, when a publisher accepts my book, you will be notified immediately with updates & information, as it becomes available, on how to purchase a copy for yourself & yes, posterity.  Imagine–you now have the potential (or perhaps I should say "poet-ential") to get in on the ground floor of the future of literary history!

If you or someone you love or like in the slightest or know from work or are vaguely acquainted with–perhaps you met online or at a party or whatever–are interested in this incredible deal of a lifetime, then contact me via this blog for details. As somebody famous once said: You won’t live to regret it!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Toward a New Disambiguation

Because of the problem previously discussed here, as of now, I'm changing my name so that, from this moment forward, I will be known as Matmosphere. Not Matamorphosis. Not Matallica. Not Matronymic, Matomic, Matropolitan, Mativation, Matzvah--though I kinda like that one--or Mattitude.

Matmosphere--got it?

If you call me anything besides Matmosphere, I'll refuse to answer. If passing on the street, you address me by my former name or any of the aforementioned names, you may as well talk to the air, for I won't even turn my head to acknowledge you. 

I should note that I plan to continue to publish as Matt Morris, as I've done in both this century & the last, the past millennium as well as the present.  To change it at this juncture would prove nothing but confusing. Therefore, I'll still write under my established name, albeit with one crucial difference:  Matt's now the diminutive form of Matmosphere.

This change has become necessary because the same legislation that gave us the Baby Bells & broke up Microsoft, kaff-kaff, also allowed anyone & everyone to write poetry under my name, resulting in confusion as well as notable dilution of the poetry written under that name--as if any besides myself were actually Matt Morris!  Indeed, it should come as no surprise to anyone that these poetasters are wholly owned subsidiaries of Haliburton, those world-killing bastards, whereas I remain, like Walt Whitman, a kosmos. 

Yes, Matmosphere is everywhere at once, wherever you turn, like the penetrating rays of the sun or a deluxe tanning bed.  I'll also be around in the dark, so leave a key where I can find it, such as in the mailbox or under an unassuming garden gnome. I'll be there in the morning, reading in bed & lounging about in my bathrobe most of the afternoon too, but then I have to take off that evening due to a prior commitment.  For wherever there's a snooty snob blathering bad poetry, I'll be there, even though I'd rather not be.  I'll be there in the way folks stifle yawns, crack their knuckles & clear their throats when they're gawd almighty bored.  I'll be there when they stand & walk out in the pretentious midst of a reading by a wispy graduate of Brown into the dystopian night because they can't take any more & we'll all go out for dinner because we're hungry & we'll have drinks & everyone will be munching succulent morsels & raising their voices & clinking their glasses & laughing like the kids of satyrs.  I'll be there too, if it's at all possible, so scootch over a scootch or two, would you?

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Few Thoughts on National Poetry Month

It's not as if I suddenly decide to read it because of some artificial designation--poetry provides my very sustenance throughout the year--but if saying April is National Poetry Month encourages a few non-poetry readers (i.e., everybody else) to at least acknowledge its existence & maybe even read a poet who isn't dead or named Jewel, then yippee.

What's with its unpopularity?  You'd think with the general public's seemingly insatiable hunger for incredibly moronic crap, folks would gobble many of today's poets right up!  Oh, but I kid poetry & its self-congratulatory clique of smarmitude 1) because I love & 2) because it's true.

If boring inanity isn't going to move poetry off the shelves, you might think the Great Guardians at the Gates of Poetry would look for something different, perhaps even enlightening.  Sadly, unless you have copies of my books--if not, plenty remain available for purchase--you probably won't be reading me.  In the past few years, I've published maybe ten poems.  I can't seem to give my stuff away, which is, after all, what I do most of the time with poetry.  Especially irksome is the kind of tripe that gets published instead.  So fuck all y'all & you know who you are.

From this indignity, however, an obvious question springs to mind:  Is there a correlation between my near anonymity & poetry's lack of readership?

Naturally, I'm not saying--I'm just saying . . .

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ars Poetica

A stranger with bad teeth asks for one can
only imagine what. Nobody recognizes

his guttural tongue. Shaking his head, the bar-
keep polishes a tumbler. The stranger babbles

insistently louder. Talk of politics
quiets at a table of locals. Talk

is useless. Tearing his rumpled shirt, the man
bares a map tattooed to his chest, thumps

his fist against a place unknown
miles away. The ceiling fan creaks. A fly

lights on the globe, casting a monstrous
shadow.


first appeared in DMQ, (Spring/Summer 2008)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Return from the Himalayas, Part 4

It is not enough to participate in life; true happiness occurs when you "heart"icipate. 

(Note:  This message comes not from the mountaintop directly, but through a series of seemingly random items, individuals, & events--such as a 14th century Mongolian invasion, a phony Taoist priest, the simple yet painstaking combination of sugar, flour, eggs, & water, & a 20th century labor-saving device--by way of a fortune cookie, whose sweet, crispy, twisted shape resembled a broken cinerary vase bearing a facetious deity's face, along with lucky numbers 4, 6, 14, 18, 31, 36.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dear Blah Blah Blah

Going old school, I recently read Leonard Nathan's Dear Blood (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1980).  Nathan, a former Berkeley professor, "won wide critical acclaim," as well as a Guggenheim Fellowship & a National Institute of Arts & Letters award for poems (I'm taking this directly from the book cover) that "have an explosive meaning barely contained in the few words that hold them together."

Ok, I get it: Nathan's a minimalist, but how do words hold the poem together if their meanings--to borrow an expression from renowned SCTV Farm Film Review critics Big Jim McBob & Billy Sol Hurok--blow the poem up real good?  Moreover, it strikes me as rather ambiguous to say the "meaning (is) barely contained" in the words, which makes it sound, in one sense, as if Nathan doesn't quite understand what the words mean. When a blurb bothers me--even though it doesn't necessarily follow that the poetry is similarly flawed--I usually take it as a bad omen.

Ah, my tingling poesy sense served me well!  For if Nathan is "a storyteller & a fabulist" as the lying rat's ass of a cover claims, it's only if he intends his numerous poems to/for/about God (the majority of this book) to be seen as not so much fable as complete fabrication.  Take "Gap," in which God is the absence of a spider & the presence of a butterfly.  (FYI:  He's also the absence of dead leaves.)  That God's so much a part of the absences may be why, in "Habakkuk," Nathan says, "In conversations with the Lord, / you can't tell always / who's talking to whom."  It's kind of like someone talking on a Blue-Tooth in a dead zone.  Or the indigent street person constantly talking to an invisible other, maybe God, or maybe the ghost of Leonard Nathan himself.

In other poems, Nathan wanders a'wonderin' down a trail of abstractions, as in "Hieroglyph": 

Much is behind you
not to be known
and much ahead
of where you stand only for one true sound
(less maybe than a word)
before knowledge passes on.

Be ready,
be clear.

(For a detailed explanation of these lines, click here.)

Also included in this volume is "Memo," posted in its entirety below:

Who wrote
"I love you daddy"
on this white page?

The littlest daughter did
on this white page
under which lie concealed
thirty virginal pages
for later messages.

Looking beyond the general saccharine sentiment--if that's possible--& forgiving the use of the homey "littlest" (which Nathan does a couple of times in the book for, I suppose, emetic effect), the entire foundation of the poem rests upon a ridiculous rhetorical device.  The answer to the posed question depends on whether the speaker has any young children at home.  If yes, these children may provide an invaluable clue to the sought after information.

If not, then who?  Louis XVI, that bad egg?  Steve, the mechanical man?  Sylvia Plath?  Henry Pussycat?  Lolcat?  Oh, I don't know--maybe it was Satan? 

Do you know who wrote the note?  If so, please comment with your guesses.  You need not make a purchase to enter; you may enter as many times as you want.  The person who submits the winning entry will receive a slightly used copy of Leonard Nathan's Dear Blood.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What "The Change" Means to Me

At the recent AWP conference, apparently a hubbub erupted over Tony Hoagland's "The Change."   I didn't attend the conference myself because I couldn't book a room.  Not because I waited too long--I had the itch, just not the scratch.  But like some guy who stayed at Holiday Inn Express--that'll make you scratch--I heard Hoagland read several years ago.  He'd prefaced "The Change" then by saying that it bothered him that poets tend to write self-congratulatory pieces, that poets should examine the negative self as well, no matter how uncomfortable the truth.  At the time,I found it vaguely unsettling, but given his introduction, if not my intoxication, I took the poem, albeit bland, as a confrontation of one's deep-seated, albeit regrettable, racism.

However, Hoagland has been of late roundly & soundly ripped on the Internet as the snarky, conceited, racist, sexist, mysogynistic, golden (read white supremacist) boy of poetry.  Some have suggested that Hoagland exemplifies the racism/sexism inherent in literary history, dubbing all so-called great white poets of the past as nothing more than a school of Moby Dicks--er, well, so to speak--while others have called "The Change" the most racist poem ever written.

Ok, hot button issues, such as racism--which, by the way, sucks & sexism too--often cause people to make hyperbolic statements in anger, which is understandable, but the most racist poem ever?  Anyone who's ever read Hoagland's What Narcissism Means to Me knows that's not true.  "The Change" isn't even the most racist piece in the book.  That dubious distinction belongs to "Rap Music," in which the speaker, hearing rap booming from a car pulling up beside him at a traffic light, imagines "a lot of dead white people in there," beaten to death with bricks so that their skulls can be used to "drink blood from."

For me, that trumps anything in "The Change." 

Tempting though it may be to leap to accusation, neither poem necessarily means Hoagland is a racist.  For example, what if--as an astute friend astutely asked--Hoagland had written in the third-person?  Indeed, readers often, though erroneously, equate the "I" of the poem with the poet, though oddly, these same readers seldom presume that the first-person narrator of a novel or short story is actually the writer.  Few people, besides myself, think Stephen King should be declared a deranged madman & stopped before he writes anything else, but I digress.  The point is that Hoagland probably would have insulated himself against the brunt of ad hominem attacks through the use of a third-person persona.

On Facebook--oh, to what depths I've sunk--at least one person may not have found third-person narration a solution.  Her problem--with the poem, I mean--is that even though the speaker acknowledges Venus Williams' superior athletic skills lead to her victory, his opinion of her race & gender doesn't change, which teaches the wrong moral.  (Good point.  In a related matter, who can forget Jesse Owens winning all those gold medals at the Berlin Olympics, impressing Adolf Hitler so much that the Fuhrer realized the folly of his whole Aryan master race thing?  Remember?)  Poems such as this, the Facebook-er lamented, make it more difficult to teach students about race. 

Should poets write with the classroom in mind?  If so, maybe I should pen a sonnet sequence on avoiding the passive voice.  Also, abstractions!  Beyond that, I disagree with the implication that only literature as didactic as an ABC After School Special can facilitate classroom discussions.  In fact, the firestorm of reaction to "The Change" suggests that it may generate student interest; surely an enlightened instructor could turn this into a teaching moment.

I don't know Hoagland's racial views.  Perhaps he is, as some have suggested, a bigot.  Or perhaps he hopes to provoke, with his combustible statements, open dialogues about race.  Perhaps he simply sees himself as true to his aesthetics.  Perhaps he just isn't hitting the mark.  Whatever the reason, it would seem prudent at this juncture that he stop drinking the Kool-Aid marked "Whites Only."  The bad taste alone would turn anyone away.

As for the poetry on the whole, I doubt if many would call What Narcissism Means to Me one of Hoagland's best efforts.  Much of the volume, as the title suggests, seems self-absorbed, with the poet--or rather persona--rambling on about his friends & the mundane middle-class life of the literati, the kind of poetry Frank O'Hara, had he lived, might write today if, instead of witty, he were boring. 

I won't say there's nothing good here.  Take, for instance, the closing lines to "Man Carrying Sofa":

this damaged longing
like a heavy piece of furniture inside you;
you carry it, it burdens you, it drags you down--
then you stop, and rest on top of it.

Now that sounds like a splendid idea.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

With the Goo-Goo-Google E-book Previews

If you'd like to sample my work, then follow this link to the Google book preview of Here's How.   The preview allows you to read six of eighteen poems, including personal favorites like "Road Service," "Hole," & "Night at the Improv, c. 1600."  If you read only one book of poems this year, that puts you one up on most people I know, & Here's How is an excellent choice.   

In case you're wondering, yes, my other Pudding House chapbook, Greatest Hits, is also available as a Google book preview.  Strangely, the preview contains a number of printer errors (corrected prior to publication), so I'm not linking it here.  Of course, if you're determined, it's easy enough to find.  Simply type "greatest hits" & Google instantly links you to sites for Greatest Hits t-shirts, tickets, tailgate parties, maps--all the information you want & need about Greatest Hits.  Or read the 99% error-free version by purchasing Greatest Hits wherever Greatest Hits is sold. 

But now, Here's How.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Blog Rage

Nope, I'm not writing another blog entry until you read my last post.  Every last word!  I treated you to one of my most popular poems, "Aspects of Dagwood," along with a faux introduction--the kind I might give at a reading--but very few readers have availed themselves of this opportunity.

I bet readers in China would love access to my blog, but they're not allowed.  I don't know that for a fact, but it's possible.  As if you care!  Bah!  Just look at yourself, lounging about on the sofa, Cheetos-stained fingers diddling with your laptop, free for now (as Net Neutrality is apparently dead) to browse my blog at your leisure & yet, you take this privilege for granted, throwing your freedom (or its pervasive illusion, to be more accurate) into the trash bin like a snotty Kleenex.  Or worse: a generic brand.

I'm not made out of words, you know.  I don't have a blog tree in the backyard, branches bowed low, heavy with witty words that I can pluck whenever I want to post something new.   As a writer, I have to work to put entries on this blog.   So if sometimes I reprint previously published poems, well, I thought you, my readers, would appreciate that.  Apparently not.  Apparently you have more important things to do than read poetry.  O, I'm so sure it's important.  Enjoy your porn, perverts!

Damn right I'm angry--& hurt.  (Gentle reader, not all of you are guilty, so I apologize for scolding everyone for the actions of a few.  Well, more than a few & the lack of action, to be precise.  But anyway, sorry.  You caught me on a bad day, a bad life.)

Know what else pisses me off?  Rejections.  Ok, I mean, it's part of being a writer & most of the time, rejections mean nada to me.  Just part of the routine.  As Michael Jordan would say if he were a poet, not the former superstar basketball player:  "I have more rejections than publications."  Isn't that a clever way to think about it?  Clever.  You miss more game-winning shots than you make, but when you make them, everyone likes Mike.  Especially (according to court documents) the ladies . . .

But sometimes, sometimes when I see the big clock running out, well, Jesu H. D. Cah-rist, I can't help but think I've dedicated my entire life to poetry & what do I have to show for it?  An uneven scrap of paper bearing a Sarah Palin-esque bridge to bullshit "thanks but no thanks," along with an invitation to subscribe to the selfsame rag (which you can't find at any bookstore or even on Google) in which not even one of my poems, in the little magazine editor's estimation, is fit to print.  Or maybe in today's high tech world, I get an email with a curt, "I've decided not to use your poetry."  That arbitrary.  Editors, by & large, if I may paraphrase Shakespeare, suck on donkey dicks.

One of the reasons I keep this blog is in the wild hope that I'll attract readers to my poetry.  Crazy, I know.  Like the devout, head tilted toward the heavens, the sky's lit but nobody's home.  Swear to Ungod, I feel like giving up--as if it matters, so few people read poetry anyway, much less mine--but no doubt, if my personal history serves as any indication, I'll go on, true & fixed as the North Star.

Because I'm fucking insane.  Et tu, Brute?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Last Respects for Dagwood

When Dagwood Bumstead died earlier this year, it hardly made a ripple in the media's nonstop stream of celebrity news & loud-mouthed political punditry.  To be fair, most readers of the comic strip had long since passed away themselves years & years ago--much like the newspaper, the medium the strip appears in--so to say that he'll be missed is perhaps a white lie, which seems fitting, given it's hard to be much whiter than Dagwood.  He is survived by his wife, Blondie; his son, Baby Dumpling; his daughter, Cookie; & three grandchildren, Huey, Dewey & Louie McDuck.  He was 78--though he seemed much, much older.  Also, he wore a toupee. 

Those who know me may find it odd that I noticed Bumstead's death.  After all, I hate comic strips, or funnies as they're sometimes called, both misnomers because they are, by & large, neither.  The "phonies," more like!  Comic?  To be honest, I'm not even sure if they're strips. 

However, as a youngster, they were my favorite part of the paper.  While I was never a fan of Blondie, it had top billing in the local rag when I was growing up, so Dagwood's antics became imprinted on my impressionable mind.  Who knew that as a young adult I would turn this childish distraction into something--dare I say--literary?

I wrote "Aspects of Dagwood" for a poetry workshop as a first year grad student way back in the last millennium.  This demonstrates its timelessness.  A parody of Weldon Kees' "Aspects of Robinson" (the curious may wish to read my tongue-in-cheek account of its writing by clicking here), it first appeared in Poetry Now (the one E.V. Griffith edited) & has since turned up in various other places, including both Nearing Narcoma & Greatest Hits, available wherever hard-to-find books are sold, but if you click on the book covers to your right, by the power of the Internet, you'll be directed to sites that sell them.

Aspects of Dagwood

Dagwood dealing poker in Ed Feeley's garage; an unshaded
Bulb blares over his pin-cushion head. At the table,
Simple men puffing black stogies, quaffing frothy mugs.
The one with red hair, buck teeth takes the pot with three aces,
A king, & a queen, all the same suit. A fearful voice.
—Here comes Blondie mad as a goose, Dagwood.

Dagwood at the office snoozing at his desk, an unsigned
Contract floating to the floor, pretty as a dream.
His comic cellblock switches from lemon to plum to tangerine,
Serving to foster an atmosphere of insecurity,
Fitfully punctuated by the business end of the boot.
—Dagwood! You do-nothing dimwit! You're fired! Get out!

Dagwood at Herb Woodley's hiding from the wife.
Dagwood at the pool hall making a three bank shot.
Dagwood at the bowling alley knocking down all the pins.
Dagwood at the doorstep bickering with a salesman’s
Onslaught of hard sell punches. Dagwood,
Bruised & beaten, atwitter over his new gizmo.

Insomniac Dagwood with a fat sandwich of cold cuts.
Dagwood squawking in the tub when the ladies' club
drops by. Dagwood dangling from the bathroom window,
Drippy wet towel draped around his bottom,
Red Z’s masking his face like a bland whodunit. Bells.
—Mr. Dithers wants you, Dagwood.

Dagwood whooshing out the door. Dagwood late for the bus.
Dagwood sporting the familiar bow tie & slouch hat.
Dagwood in polka-dot boxers, hiking his trousers,
Pecking Blondie on the cheek, slurping down coffee
As he runs out, slamming pow! into the postman. Letters
Flutter around them like fragments of Dagwood's recycled pulp.