Saturday, January 30, 2016

Community Hall

THE RESERVOIR IS FULL

So there’s not a leak.
Maybe it’s what I spilled
When I was changing the water pump.


YEAH THEN SO

There was that charity thing.


HEY GUESS WHAT YOU NEED TO DO?

Unless you’ve the strength to do nothing.
In which case, more power to you.


I’M LIKE

Listen.


I TOLD THEM

Look.


SO NOW I’M CURIOUS

How do you say Dairy Queen in Ukrainian?


I’M ALL WHAT? 

Uh huh. Yeah.


IT WAS SOMETHING

That’s the only way I can describe it.


SHE HAS A HOUSE SOMEWHERE OUT THERE

They’re always building, building, building.


IT ENDED UP BEING

A ton of work.


WHO IS THAT?

Who are we talking about?


RIGHT BEFORE

Gypsum Springs.


ALL

Mostly.
95 percent.


OH, DINOSAURS

He loves dinosaurs, too.
Dylan we’re leaving.


THERE AGAIN TOO

My grandpa was a truck driver.
He did OK.


A LOT OF PEOPLE LIKE THEIR CHIHUAHUAS TO BE FRIENDLY

The bad thing is they’re very possessive.


IF I HAD TO GUESS

I’d say Sam Smith.
Or Anita Baker.


A PERSON CAN SEEM HAPPY

But actually be agonizingly depressed.


LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD?

How about plowing it under?
How about a scrum in cuckooland?


AND HOW BIG DO YOU SUPPOSE

Oh that’s wonderful.


I LIKE TO JUST

Pretty much.


HONESTLY

I kind of was like whatever.


I SEEM TO REMEMBER

District offices.


I GET NERVOUS

But I never had a rash before.


YOU’RE A FIERCE CONTEXTUALIZER

I’ll give you that.


I DIDN’T EVEN WORK LAST NIGHT

I was in the door and I was out the door.


HAS HE ALWAYS BEEN

Like.
What he is?


WE’RE TAKING OFF

We've got to go back home
To put the trash cans out.


FACING EXTINCTION?

No, man.
White rhinos.


AND THEN YEAH

That’s the best way to go right there.


DON’T GET ME WRONG

They can do a lot of things.
But I don’t know about that.


AN EAR OF CORN WITH WINGS

Was flying through the house.
I hadn’t been drinking anything.


I DON’T KNOW ABOUT THAT EITHER

Get those lasers in there, man.
Break that shit up.


IN OTHER WORDS

He recommends you take the court attorney.


HEY

You ready to bounce?










Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Short reviews: books by Meg Tuite and Kenyatta Jean-Paul Garcia

Bound by Blue, by Meg Tuite


The book is a collection of entertaining short stories. They have their own little style (they should, she teaches writing and edits magazines) and meet the criteria of writing being like unto a controlled accident. Humorously grim, most of them, the stories feature characters (people who would name their dogs Rasputin, Fanta and Pigeon, for instance) affected with the often drugged out contemporary urban/suburban anomie that slides along the streets and curls about the housing tracts and apartment buildings we live in (a  mother who “rarely slept, lived on No-Doze and diet Cokes” or a mother and daughter watching TV “the claws of a laugh track scratching holes into our brains” or a teenage daughter looking for love in all the wrong places “I jumped into a truck with a guy who spent seven years never graduating from high school.”).

And Meg Tuite is good about piling on.  In one story a young college graduate, unhappy, unattached, and underemployed in dead end jobs and suffering severe depression for which no types of therapy are working, is on her way to Brazil after learning about a healer who might have the answer to her mental agony. As day breaks on the overnight flight to Brasilia, the already suffering woman finds herself in need of freshening up.

My lips were stuck together and my face had been plastered to that lumpy half-pillow all night, so I grabbed my bag and stepped [...] into the aisle...There was a line ahead of me. Lanky, teenage Brazilian girls from a soccer team were traveling with us. I was getting older by the minute just standing there as they tossed their hair and bantered back and forth in Portuguese.

Some of the funny material can turn ugly on you quickly, such as this scene where a young teenage girl comes home late after hanging out with her equally troubled friends and gets an earful from her mother:

“My God, what the hell are you up to?” The good thing was that Audrey’s mother was a drunk and her stepfather a bastard who sometimes beat Audrey’s mom. Audrey never had to explain. “What do you think, Mom? A lot of things happen here while you’re passed out on the couch.” “Don’t talk back to your mother, you little monster. You’re lucky I don’t kick your skinny-hag ass out of here!” And Audrey’s mom would stalk off for her stash of Advil and a Bloody Mary and that would be the end of it.

But the frankness and cynicism can also be endearing, such as the senior in a wheelchair who is tired of everyone feeling the need to extend a greeting:

A few more vague faces poke in on my space and contaminate me with their goodwill.

It’s easy to get hooked on the generous instances of laconic, drop dead writing (that language thing, the way people express themselves), and one story in particular, “What Was That I Was Searching For?” is like a slideshow history 12 loser boyfriends/relationships in a woman’s life, starting from puppy love in fourth grade through college to a young single professional working at a bookstore in Chicago. It's devastating, and I could quote the whole thing, but I don’t want to spoil the fun.


Playing Dead, by Kenyatta Jean-Paul Garcia

Riding home one evening after work I noticed on a sidetrack a long series of shiny but old fashioned looking train cars belonging to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which was in the city for a week of performances. That memory returned to me as I was reading Playing Dead, a book-length poem, a long, almost dreamlike train of observations about life, death, and spirituality, playing off the aura of the circus, the train, the tracks it runs on, the aspects of performance, the mystery of the surrounding ballyhoo.

...Trains enter higher devotion/find more souls for transport...

Kenyatta Jean-Paul Garcia assigns these dreamlike threads to three major players: the Ghost, the Main Attraction, and the Carny, who are then associated with the big top and its environs as a metaphor for life, life as performance, performance as life, the show stopping, spellbinding essence of which he captures concisely:

...the attraction is the hidden desire to imitate – there is no insistence upon the self in an audience...

Playing Dead is an epic recitation of the strange equations of mortality:  instincts and illusions, certainties and appearances. Even the con becomes consecrated in the sideshow symbols of play and delight—cards, cups, games of chance, but also shows the gravely serious potentialities of magic tricks, deception, and sleight of hand.

...miracles are precise, magic takes in/collateral damage...

The poet intones in an almost rosary like meditation issues of time

...how long is a moment when pretending...

and space:

...where there is no more what less is left...

For the Main Attraction, the Carny, the Showstopper, the Ringmaster, and any number of hucksters and shills, ghosts, the whole freaking greatest show:

...to be/was to act...

and what will be

...each act knows its end...

There is much good imagery in this poem, nicely choreographed on the page. An engaging work.




www.randystark.com


Monday, January 25, 2016

The Young and the Thuggin: more clips from urban fiction

Most of the novels are around 99 cents and a ton of them are available on Kindle and, I’m sure, everywhere else. Wikipedia says “The tone for urban fiction is usually dark, focusing on the underside of city living. Profanity, sex, and violence are usually explicit.” I get a kick out of them, I love the language, and they have influenced my world view; for example, I now refer to my car as my whip.  


Being from Chicago myself, I particularly enjoyed this novel even though there aren’t any Windy City landmarks that figure prominently.

Here's a quick recap:  At one point Bitch says: “If Chaz plays his cards right, he could probably be my nigga one day.” Thug, whose name is not Chaz, suspects something going on between Bitch and Chaz:  “I hope this nigga Chaz does not call himself liking my bitch. He a cool lil nigga, but I will kill that nigga if need be.”

And sure enough, stuff happens and: “I looked around the room to see if I could see any deceit in these niggas eyes. I looked that nigga Chaz dead in the eyes and he was sitting over there like he ain’t just rape my wife. I had something real special planned for that nigga.”

But Chaz isn’t the only one living on borrowed time; take Raymond, for instance: “Raymond was the only nigga in the room looking nervous as hell. I’m gone have Dirty and Pimp follow that nigga. I don’t give a fuck about him being Kane’s brother; if he jeopardized my empire that nigga dead. I knew I had to watch this out of town ass nigga I thought.” Very exciting.


There is both humor and gravity in this book. “I kept noticing Anastasia’s ass giving me a dry ass stank look” represents the funny, but my heart went out in commiseration and empathy for the character who, after everything good goes straight to hell, laments: “Things had been dope as fuck, too.” I feel you, bro.

Falling For My Side Nigga, by Racquel Williams

I had trouble relating to the characters here, although when one of them comments wistfully “Once in a while, a nigga needs quietness in his life,” I could do nothing but agree. 


Another Thug.  “I sat outside [the] crib, smoking a blunt while waiting for his ass to come out.” (Wikipedia should have mentioned the ubiquitous drug culture in this genre.) And speaking of cribs, there’s a funny moment when one of the couples are getting ready to go out and the woman says to her man “Nigga, hurry up. I gotta stop by my mama crib before we go to the trap.” But my favorite passage is this piece of analysis and reflection: "Niggas be havin' shit confused. Just because a nigga act one way for his lady, don't mean I'm a pussy. I'll still fuck a nigga up if it’s necessary," Dontay exclaimed.” Outstanding!

Gangstress, by India, contains one astonishing moment in an otherwise disappointing book. I love strong women, but Gangstress herself was not near as exciting as I’d hoped. And I get distracted by errors like “Taylor made suits” and “except my condolences for...”, etc. But when Gangstress poses this rhetorical profundity---“What type of nigga would stop at the mall when he have a dead body in the trunk? I thought to myself.”---well, I just have to shake my head in awe. 


The forward by Lil' Boosie is an imprimatur of gold as far as I’m concerned. And talk about violence! (“It was me who gave you your first .380, remember?”) There is such an array of weaponry and free wielding of same ("After seeing my AK-47, the HK-91, my MAC-11, our AR-15, Country’s German Luger, our Beretta 9, my twin Desert Eagles, Country’s Glock-17, and our bullshit-ass TEC-9, I gave Mookie the Luger, pocketed both the Beretta 9 and the Eagle...") At times I felt like I was in a young and thuggin’ Roy Lichtenstein exhibit while reading. It's appropriate to quote from the text in bullet points. (The bold italic emphasis on the onomontopeia is mine.)
  • But you know there’s always got to be some stupid ma’fucka to fuck shit up. Blap! Blap! Blap! Three shots from what sounded like a cheap nine millimeter came from nowhere. I immediately began to cut my choppa loose. Blocka! Blocka! Blocka! Blocka! Blocka! Blocka! Blocka! Blocka! Blocka! Blocka! Blocka!
  • Baaaaaaaam! Baaaaaaaam! Baaaaaaaam! Baaaaaaaam! Then niggas started emerging from everywhere. T. Roy looked up at me like, ‘What the fuck?’ I returned his eye contact. ‘The fuck if I know.’
  • Bluga! Bluga! Bluga! Bluga! Bluga! Bluga! Bluga! Bluga! The shotgun continued to shoot.
  • Chic chic bluga! Chic chic bluga! Chic chic bluga! Yeah, you already know. Someone sat on the passenger side, busting a sawed-off shotgun at us.
  • Pow, pow, pow! was the sound of the other man’s .38 Special . . . Bop, bop, bop! came the sound of another hustler’s smoking .357.
  • The moment I saw them easing up just a little, I went for my Glock 17. “He’s going for a gun!” I heard one yell and commence to firing. Blop! Blop! Blop! Pow! Pow! Pow!
  • Then, at last it was the ultimate sound, or should I say the supreme sound of a choppa. Blocka! Blocka! Blocka! Blocka! Blocka! Blocka! Blocka! Blocka! Blocka! Blocka! Blocka! Blocka! I peeked over the hood of the Astro van and saw Meathead and some more project niggaz had come to our rescue. Blocka! Blocka! Blocka! Kneeling on one knee was Meathead busting an AK-47, while some little black-ass nigga next to him was squatting with what had to be an AR-15.
  • Boc! Boc! Boc! Boc! He took four shots from my semi-automatic and tried to run, but after only a few steps, he collapsed in the middle of the street. I sprang off the porch and crutched behind him. Boc! Boc! Boc! Boc! to finish the job.
  • I placed the Luger against the window. Boc! Boc! Boc!
  • ...aiming a Mossberg pistol-grip pump shotgun at us. Chic chic bluga! Is the sound the sawed-off shotgun made as our rear windshield blew out. ...Chic chic bluga! Chic chic bluga! ...Chic chic bluga! Chic chic bluga! Chic chic bluga!
  • I reached for the rifle, and the moment there was a pause in the shooting, I surfaced with the fifty-caliber and made it do a drumroll. Dat-dat-dat-dat-dat-dat-dat-dat-dat-dat . . .
  • Pow! Pow! Boc! Boc! Pow! Boc! They shot at us anyway. Blocka! Blocka! Blocka! Blocka! Blocka!
  • I ran into the middle of the street and cut the AR-15 loose again. Blocka! Blocka! Blocka! Blocka! Blocka! Blocka! Blocka! Blocka! Click! Click! Those eight shots dropped Tank’s lil cousin and a pack of unknown daredevils, but I didn’t see Tank. Cow! Cow! Boc! Pow! Boc! Boc! They fired from all directions, with many different motives. I slapped in my second clip, but before I could fire . . . Boc! Boc! Boc! Boc! Boc! Boc! A busta wearing a R.I.P. Richie Rich T-shirt had me dancing in the street. “You can’t kill me, nigga!” I yelled after taking all six shots in the chest. Once I collected myself, I squeezed. Blocka! Blocka! Blocka! Blocka! Blocka! Blocka! Blocka! Those shots sent him and two daredevils home, and left another one wounded. “Yall can’t kill me, niggaz! I’m No Love. I started this shit!” Then I saw Tank. Chic Chic Bluga! Chic Chic Bluga! Chic Chic Bluga! Tank’s sawed-off shotgun took me off my feet and knocked me backwards. The impact of the twelve-gauge sent me flying onto the hood of Flat Top’s patrol unit. When I halfway gathered myself, I realized I’d lost my choppa and some fool with Desire Pride tatted around his neck was running toward me with his tool. Pow! Pow! Pow! I took those three shots then went for my Taurus. Boc! Boc! Boc! Boc! Boc! Boc! I fired. “That’s all yall got, nigga. When you fuck with me, you fuckin’ with a heavyweight, nigga.” Before I could raise up from the hood to find my choppa, someone snuck up behind me and slapped me in the head with a Louisville Slugger. Whop!

All that firepower and he gets hit in the head with a baseball bat!  That kills me.



Saturday, January 23, 2016

Touching Down

WHERE THE SOUTH FORK COMES IN

Between the media room and the study.


IT HAPPENS EVERY DAY

Police say.


I HAD A GUY TELL ME

Work hard and play by the rules.


I SHOT HIM

A look.


TRUTH RUNS TO FAT

Justice is smoked.


NEWS ON THE HOUR

On the half.
And whenever it breaks.


THAT’S WHAT

Police say.


I DID AN MFA IN ARCHITECTURE

Of the hottest Hollywood stars’ homes.


DAY DRINKING

Sangria and antidepressants
Deposited me on a far shore.


YEAH RIGHT NO

My thoughts are your geography.


A COUPLE HOURS WEST

Refugees and mummers, a million wild burros
Dancing on the head of a pin.
Rakehells and footnote whores.
Nurses in scrubs.
Fairies, tinkers, tailors, bellows makers.


DEER FROM THE MONASTERY

Swimming in the wake of the ferry.


A VERY JUST ART IMITATES LIFE

Type thing, police say.


NO

Yes and no.


I’M TRYING TO CAST OFF BEELZEBUB

Arguably the greatest brand driver in the universe.


THERE’S NEVER BEEN A BETTER TIME

More games, more streaming.


YOU COULDA JUST GOOGLED IT

But now it's too late.


ASSAULT IN MONROVIA

Robbery in Hawthorne.
Home invasion in Norwalk.


SAYING HE IS QUOTE

In a state of shock.


THE OTHER THING TOO IS

Failure has no outlet store.


WHAT WE NOW KNOW

Three Chaldeans hurt.
Koreans rather.


LOWEST PRICES OF THE YEAR

You pay nothing.


DRY BRITTLE DAMAGED HAIR

Due to an earlier crash.


ASIA’S AHEAD OF US

You know with the flu.


PREQUALIFY

Close in ten seconds.


HOW MANY THINGS

On this list
Can you have
And till not be considered
You know.


POLICE SAY 

You can mix and match.


NO SOONER AWAKE

Disappointment hits me in the head like a tool chest.
I’m still alive.
What stage is that?


CALL RIGHT NOW

And you’ll receive a free hip replacement.


PHONE’S TOO OLD AND CHEAP

Talk to the feet.


MORE CHOICES

Yet gentle to your stomach.


DON’T PLAY THE LOTTERY

If you can’t dream big.


LAUNDERED MONEY

An absorbent amount.


GOT ME MY

Free flipping kit.


NATURE’S WINTER EVENT IS BACK

Let’s take a look.


POLICE SAY YOU’LL NEVER GROW OLD

If you moisturize and take your supplements.


ALSO AHEAD IN COTE D’IVOIRE

High surf advisory in effect.


A QUICK PEEK AT TRAFFIC

Pretty crawly.


IS CREDIT CARD DEBT KILLING YOU?

Do you eat snow geese?


THE SEARCH FOR SUSPECTS

Continues,
According to police.


AND IF YOU DIDN’T EXIST

Would somebody have to invent you?
I’ll have that answer coming right up.














Thursday, January 21, 2016

In Memory of The Muffin Man

MET OPERA

Theo and Myrah marriage
Was crazy. Then Darnell
Enter the picture
With his sexy self
And end up getting hit
With Myrah crazy self!


A LYRICAL PSYCHOLOGICAL MYSTERY

Based on the experimental formalist sizzler
About age, decay, addiction, frailty, and loss.


TEN VOLUPTUOUS VILLAINS

Jaws hissing.
Arms quivering.


THAT ARIA WAS SICK

She killed it.


PREVIOUSLY HER CAREER HAD KIND OF BEEN

Hosting a poker show.


ALL THESE MUSICS

Bring to me a new fill of living.


TIP-TOP LIQUOR

Cooking is better with wine.


TOOK AND BROWNED THEM

Did a wild rice and pheasant stew.


SHE SAID POETS TRULY INTEREST HER

I smiled in response.


TALK CROATIAN TO ME

She purred.


AND IT RAINED UNTIL THE ROOSTER

Tipped over the longest night of the year.
Coyotes yipping.






Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Snow Goose Jerky


Doing a little research on snow goose jerky and I came across this very enjoyable piece of writing.  His (rbranstner) reviews and other posts are entertaining as well. He writes plainly and vividly.


Saturday, January 16, 2016

Kind of Still There

WHEN THE WORLD BE ALL UP IN YOUR SHIT

As never before.


THERE’S NOTHING LIKE INFINITE SPACE

The largest facility of its kind.


A SINGLE DAY POP UP

Or a lump sum of leisure.


THE AIR TASTES MINTY

And if persimmons could talk.


RUN BY TWO SISTERS

The raddest women I’ve ever met.
Permit us to feel you.


IF YOU’RE BUSTED OUT

They have payment plans.


YOU CAN REDEEM LIKES

For free nights.


BEAUTY

Endless.


FIRS

You know.
The big trees?


BARRACKS

Lemon scented bunk beds.
Honey sweetened pillows.


THEY HAVE THESE

Great big heavy towels.


I REMEMBER FEELING

Mornings began at dawn.


THE COFFEE POT CROWING

Calling the skillet black.


MY GOD LISTEN

Jesus.
Son of a bitch.
Isn’t that beautiful?


OUTDOOR CATS DRINKING SCREW TOP WINE

Mewing like chainsaws.


I’D LIKE TO GO BACK AND 

Oh man I remember once.


DINNER

Roasted soy beans and boiled seaweed.


A SERVER NAMED DESIRE

Wrapped in jalapeno and bacon.


THE TWO OF US

Matching trousers.


GIVE ME THAT YOU

Ahhahahahahahaha.


HEY HEY HEY

Remember that thing?


MAGIC CUMBIA RIDE

Timbales!


TO ME I GOTTA TELL YOU

I am kind of still there.





Saturday, January 9, 2016

Afternoon Break at the Conference

AND WELL RIGHT

When we that’s.


YEAH WELL YOU KNOW

Habits.


NO OH NO

When people go there they don’t like to leave.


THIS IS WHERE

I mean you know.


DOES A RIVER RUN THROUGH MACON? 

I dreamt one does.


THAT’S RIGHT

That’s what I’m saying.


TO WHERE

We are able to really see.
Hey man.


SO I MEAN I DON’T KNOW

Yeah. No.


IT’S BEEN

I mean.


SURPRISE ME

Or else.
I’m serious.
Punch it.


ABSOLUTELY

That’s my thing dude.


LISTEN

Yes, it did.
No, it was.


MY GUT FEELINGS

Are usually never wrong.


WELL UH

But uh.


I WAS LIKE IN YOGA

All of a sudden
I was like wow.


TALKING ABOUT LET’S FACE IT

I mean you were the.


JUST IT’S ALMOST

I could see where.


IT MAY BE THAT

I don’t know.
It’s hard to say.


A SENSE OF

Well I mean when you.


YEAH BUT NO

I’m just not a hundred on why.


GREAT QUESTION

You know why?
You want to know why?





Thursday, January 7, 2016

If Ye Love Me, Eat My Commandments

LOCATION

The context in which a measure is taken.


LITTLE ITALY

Formerly Pride of Italy.


I SAID HELL

Take it where you can get it.


OUT OF THE SHOTGUN

A broken play.


DYING TO HEAR

St. Peter call my name.


POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS

Lust, gluttony, avarice, sloth, anger, envy, and pride.


AND SEE ALL THE PEOPLE

Packed like birdseed.


DYING BY SWORDS

None would choose to live by.


HEY GOD

Bitch.


I FOUND MY LORD AND SAVIOR

At Paradise Valley Dodge.


THOU SHALT NOT PROFANE

Another person’s hustle.


IF YE LOVE ME

Eat my commandments.


IF YE LOVE ME

Sleep in my hammock.


THEY DID

They turned me in.


I ONLY WANTED A LITTLE

Extra, your Honor.


SAW MY P.O. MONDAY

He goes yeah.


IT COULD HAVE BEEN THE END OF ME

046AR39B2.


NEXT TIME TRY USING YOUR HEAD

For something besides a battering ram.


THAT’S KIND OF HOW IT IS

Eeeeyeh huyp huyp heee.




Monday, January 4, 2016

Paulina, Devin, Noor

BLUE SCRUBS

India.


TERRORISM

Make me to cried this horrible news.
These innocence people don’t dessert this.


EYES

Oubliette to the soul.


SLOW TEARS

A line of cars at the Jalisco Express drive-thru.


BYGONES

His ex-wife and her potatoes au gratin.
And her big screen.


SLEEP OVER

Sweet, cool lips.


SHOWER

Hurry up.
Get in there.


CHOPPER

Can’t see the motherfucker.
Oh there it is.


BIRDS AT DAWN

Pachinko parlor.


BABY TALK

Hi baby girl.


BIG SIGH

Coffee maker.


TIME TO GO

Pretty much sort of right now.


FREEWAY INTERCHANGES

Thick growth.


MORE BABY TALK

Hi Chula.
Pick up.


QUIK ‘N’ HANDY

Liquor. Lotto. ATM.


BUTTER

1 stick.
8 TBSP.
4 0z.
113g.


SPRING MAGIC

32 loads.


TEN O’CLOCK GAME

Indy.






Sunday, January 3, 2016

Back When I was Youthful and Approachable

THE TIME

Dreadfully exciting.


BEFORE I BECAME A DIFFERENCE MAKER

And a genre breaker.


WE’RE SITTING IN FIRST CLASS

We’re flying back.
And I’m thinking wait a minute.


WOW REALLY?

What’s up with that?


IT’S NOT ALWAYS

Let alone.


FUCK NO

I already had another pack.


THAT GUY

That FBI guy.


I STARTED TO THINK

Uh.


WHENEVER

I had my.
Um.


WHERE OF COURSE

Oh incidentally.


EVERYTHING ABOUT IT

Seems to suggest.


KIND OF MAKES SENSE

I mean you know.


EVERYTHING’S ALL

You know.
One thing leads to another.


THIS GUY

He specializes.


THE PROBLEM IS

It sort of doesn’t work.


I KNOW

Next time.
Right?


DO WHAT I DO

Hit the weight room.
That’s what I do.