(Until Heslop has his own blog up and running, hopefully tomorrow, this serves as his ammo dump.)
the mixers and dumpers and flatteners
cursing and groaning a cacophany
of ill-gotten sounds playing across
the summertime heavy
a bird stands still
on the fresh cut grass of this afternoon,
amid a whirlwind of cement
thin lines of dried mowed grass
chalking his twig
legs as he
just trying to find a god damn
or a little
as the red wine stews
speckled with floating cork bits
twirling a bit with a slouched rhythm like lost sailors
as you pull
pull at tobacco
as you bite the lip
you try and juice the dry shell of dust,
try and whisper music at the treachery
of yet another abandoned evening,
the pale afterbirth of another
it was a day of celebration, though.
yesterday the absurd meat parade stunk up the stage
and today the buffet
with its subtle tyranny,
the little wisps of old ladies
grinning in a back room
counting the dollar bills,
while the men and women,
the endless procession,
sliding their plates along the stainless steel,
portioning out one ration of each,
rice, oo what’s
onion rings for
sushi for the eccentric,
the children following along on
straightened leg, learning,
doing the same.
what a joke.
and I’d laugh,
but I’d choke.
but I wouldn’t
but I hear no
the movement of the lost,
the weary and broken souls,
the supposed saviors of
an obese or swollen-bellied
jabbing each other
in the back with steaming white
plates for the last
of the chicken
a peculiar way...
rain coming down
swaths of it
hellbent and studied
on the art of the
and the dry grass
didn’t know why
and the birds
and the worms
and the nourished
and the famished
and the bleak
maybe some just
a peculiar way
(...and stirring in a dollop of prose...)
the most heartbreaking of images I carry with me is the sight of tourists poking about in antique or novelty shops checking each empty box for content, but, finding it empty, become increasingly more disappointed moving
from box to box, sometimes leaving the lid half-off to save trouble for their fellows, who inevitably check the box anyway. saw this sort of thing a lot when traveling down south... especially true of travelers who can afford to
spend money frivolously. oddly, that experience is simply a loosely patched together series of moments of suffering and tragedy in other cultures. there was the fried haggard young man in Jamaica who requested a plate of barbequed chicken (smoking on the barbecue mere meters from the shops, all to accommodate the tourists
and exclusively this pack of raving animals alone), in exchange for some canvases- got three canvas, on my wall, in exchange for all the fucking chicken the painter and his hangers-on could eat. not great works, but fragment the dam
of reminiscence and bring on a flood of joy in a bed, a sea of suffering, the grass blowing heavily in the wind, eyes blood coloured more numerous than toes.
The day after tomorrow (Sunday) Kevin and I are getting together so I can show him how to work his new blog here on the open mic site. But he's chomping at the bit this evening. He has these poems he's just written today, and there will be more tomorrow, and also on Sunday. Two-day-old poems are ancient history for him. Okay I could go over now instead of posting this here, but Linda's out with the van and I've done my day's walking already.
Anyway, it gives me an excuse to say something about this guy's poetry. I've been following his writing for literally half of his writing career, which began two years ago, and he turns out so much that I haven't had any time left over to read anybody else's (except our featured poets' latest books). Not that that's a new thing. I had never read much before this last year either (except my own doodlings, of course). So I can honestly say that I'm a lousy judge of poetry. If you hear me exclaiming or declaiming, feel free to ignore me. But following Kevin for so long, and so thoroughly, and from such a young age, has definitely made me a Heslop fan. It's like having two minds, my own and his. Because he isn't some Dead Poet. This is Kevin, who, right now, is just over the other side of that forest I'm looking at from my balcony, and across the river and up the slope a bit. He just sent me an email a few minutes ago, a very interesting one. When my mind isn't thinking up something, I know his is. And it'll get deposited in his blog any minute now. Two minds are definitely better than one.
Nevertheless, Kevin may be a substandard poet for all I know. The only thing I'm really sure of is that he's a heck of a lot better than I am, and he's only just begun.
So even though I can't say how good he is, what I can do is tell you some interesting things about the evolution of his production line. For starters it never stops. Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration, but it's a fairly small one. He doesn't talk much. He listens. Watches, Thinks. Creates. It seems to me that part of his mind is now always 'in the groove', as the Beatnics used to say. In a poetic space. Even when he's pissed out of his mind he's seeing things that way. When he just steps out for a walk, it's going. When he doesn't step out for a walk it's going.
Kevin's idea (he told me something to this effect) is one we've all heard, to read a LOT, which he does, then to imitate the poets he comes to love the most, which he's done: Buchowski (cut to the bone), D. H. Lawrence, now Kerouac (expand). And then back. And forth. And eventually out of that will come a unique voice. Eventually means in its own time. Whatever that means. Kevin's time is a speeded-up version of most of ours.
One thing he hasn't told me, and which is sheer speculation on my part, is that he has deliberately refrained from using some of the standard rules of poetry. In order to leaave his own future open. Rules like don't repeat words, unless... And like one-word lines. If you're going to have a line composed of only one word, that word better be damned important. Same with single lines. A good share of Kevin's poetry is made up of single lines and single-word lines. It's a bit weird to read it till you get used to it. But when you do it's fine. Well, for the longest time I was reading these long, skinny, thin poems, with a few long lines here and there. Then suddenly he got into Kerouac, and went to the opposite extreme, paragraph-length lines. And he got into the Kerouac thing in poetry, which you don't see very often. It's the view out of the eyes of the poet, second by second, or time by time, not cut to the bone, but with the little things of life put back in, jacked-up versions of the way they were felt. The bits of stuff that give life it's colour. Kerouac did that like nobody else. Except maybe Heslop.
And then, the other day, he went back to the skinny poem kerplunk and hit the jackpot. See what you think:
in this dimly
as patient watchers,
as the wondrous scarlet
ripples of the
this silent play
is perhaps more
than it was
are filled with
After I read it a few times, I was convinced it really had to be written like that. Although I can imagine that might be a minority opinion.
Anyway, today Kevin bounced back with a Kerouac paragraph. Simply because he had gone out in the drizzle.
bon appetite (working on the rhythms)
young girl say, 18, moving it down the forlorn sidewalk of drizzling afternoon gloom in June, stretching her long sincere stems to wherever she intended to go or get away from, and I, passing in rain-bead beaten window of car, lumping through yellow winking lights amid all the togetherness of turning or blinking brake light automobiles each drizzled on and weary. moving through it, each one. the forgetful slouch of curbing giving way to the timeless grass shortened by the very clock-maddened man of industry, say, stepping by in blue overalls with ragged white shirt and dark running shoes pushing the mower up and down his solemn patch of green and leaving little continuous hills of cut grass which seem to lengthen his patch into significance, but which will dry and brown and blow away in the first dry breeze of the year, poor chap. but in the car, and slouching past, in the beaten weathered traffic, the jumping shop signs and billboards bouncing ideas at you faster than your eye can keep up, and keeping up like water rising at the chin while trying to shift into second, no, back to first and pause, tail lights blooming on the tarmac, wonder at how no bumpers bent in the drizzle of this warm day of another day at it and at it again- the treadmill. the boat rowers rowing and rowing with arms which tire exactly at the moment of lunchtime, and so shuffle off with the same folk to the same joint for the same roast beef sandwich hold the mustard that the waitress has mastered and greets you by name, and she, a wonderful old doll, fine strands of lonesome faded brown wandering wisps bordering her warm eyes loopily, wavering, and flattening over her nose as she turns to fetch coffee for the clan, the familiars, and draw the chair back say “same chair I set at 14 years munchin’ these sandwiches and slurpin’ this coffee and a fine thing all together”, hang coat on chair back, beads becoming rivulets with the tiredness of the weight of the gravity and your hands, sore and working t’wards arthritic, but warmed palms by cupping old cup of warm java just arrived, already dressed as you please and welcomed rolling down down and making warm ripples of belly smiling gleefully at
the recognition of lunchtime Tuesday afternoon. roast beef being danced up by ol’ Fred in back with the tenderness only experience (and perhaps resignation) can bring, and he, the crinkled fades of smile at corner of eye, smiles having been smiled, and in picture frames, little more anymore with the wifey a square marble plot to talk to only ever talk to these days, though she stands sometimes solemn in white night gown in doorway back lit before he rubs his eyes retired and she vanishes and he settles in flopping book on bed side table and cradling pillow hunkering down for another from which he mayn’t wake, and her picture frame gleaming darkly in the moonlit moonlight night coming in the t-crossed window and plundering the memory of the sleeping man, but standing now, and awake in the kitchen, his leather hands not even reaching or flinching or even thinking about dressing any god damned mustard on your sandwich, wouldn’t consider it, so far from mind as closing time 5 hour and some minutes away (again either this being reconciliation or resignation maybe either or both or none), but the sandwiches prepared and pickle-halfs skewered in the fresh plush white bread and ring bell and let it dazzle about the pans drying on the rack with its warbling metallic resonances, and waitress comes like a fluster and takes plates to table and I bet you didn’t see all this happening- too engrossed in table talk chatter hop top office bits and bites for appetizers- as the plates clink into your forgotten dreams chirping like little children on the playground, coffee grounds in your cup bottoms, bon appetite.
Kevin's email I mentioned above just happened to be about the very thing I've been talking about here, his propensity for rule-breaking. Only he says it in much more interesting language than I could ever muster, as you'll see. (I had just emailed him with a few pleasantries about the above drizzle poem.)
Subject: Re: check this out
Date: Fri, 28 Jun 2013 20:28:24 -0400
Glad to get the thought we shared down. Having a tough time wrestling with any limitations whatsoever. Let it come. Be more vessel than director (starts to slip into rhetorical monologue addressed to self).
Cheers. I needed the boost. Been shouting at mountains. Smug and indifferent motherfuckers they are.
So I'll start a river and carve into the bastards and force them to take notice. God dammit.
The words keep coming though, shit. Even now. It's like the un-kinking of some hideous hose spitting back water and smudge into your living room or through your kitchen window. No choice but to embrace it. Or it might leave a smudge on the china.
From where the fuck?
It's soothing, something like jacking off a horse. For the horse, that is. Something to focus on. Something to wonder about. Some ending to anticipate without being able to palpitate it fully. A mouthful of air. A menu. The smell of McDonald's fries at 30 yards.
Good God man. The source. I can tickle it with my toes. And fleeting. Good god- it has places to be; once described as a wind coming from over the hills. To such an extent that this particular poet said she wrote the poem down
backwards if she got to pen and pad too late. And behold. I've the luck to find a keyboard beneath my fingertips at this particular moment.
No need to read or respond to this (though that is of course always appreciated), for this practice has merit even in throwing it at the wall. To connect the mind and the fingertips. To navigate space and time with one's total
focus and attention upon words, upon the achievement of the illusive sentence. And to begin again.
Good God man, I've got to start writing this shit down...
Well, anyway, until we get Kevin's blog up and running, on Sunday, this will serve as his private repository. With me as sidekick. Oh yes, one final thing about Kevin. I can get away with this kind of maybe-too-positive comment about him because I know that he knows who he really is, which is partly a good poet. He's convinced of that by means of his practice of the art. It doesn't matter what anybody says. I mean, blowing him up isn't going to blow him up. He's in the groove. I wish I was, but at least he is. I like watching it happen.
I was just reading Frank Davey's 'Speech on Poetic Climate Change', declaiming the language pollution so common
in today's poetry. Here's the excerpt that stopped me in my tracks.
'But what we’ve learned from this and from foreign books
like R's Boat, Bardy Google, Eunoia, Flatlands and other disasters
is that we’ve got to build smarter, more resilient language infrastructure
that can protect our conversations and communications,
and withstand more powerful epics and even flarf.'
When I read that last line I laughed, farted and barfed. All over my poor little poetry maker, which was already busted. But, cleaned up, it obliged me with this description from Wikipedia.
'Flarf poetry is an avant garde poetry movement of the early 21st century. The term Flarf was coined by the poet Gary Sullivan, who also wrote and published the earliest Flarf poems. Its first practitioners, working in loose collaboration on an email listserv, used an approach that rejected conventional standards of quality and explored subject matter and tonality not typically considered appropriate for poetry. One of their central methods, invented by Drew Gardner, was to mine the Internet with odd search terms then distill the results into often hilarious and sometimes disturbing poems, plays and other texts. Pioneers of the movement include Jordan Davis, Katie Degentesh, Drew Gardner, Nada Gordon, Mitch Highfill, Rodney Koeneke, Michael Magee, Sharon Mesmer, Mel Nichols, Michael Paradis, K. Silem Mohammad, Rod Smith, Gary Sullivan and others.'
There's a word that will definitely float around for a while.
Those of you who were at the June 5th open mic heard me say that I was going to try to stop this thing of constant stream of new ideas, trying them out on everybody all the time. I said I was burnt out and had to reverse the amount of work I have to do. All that is true. Well this new idea is to post for volunteers, for a Facebook/website manager, a videocamera person, a still camera person, and possibly an ebook editor. Even though we're adding more to the open mic, I won't have to do them. Ha ha ha.
And the volunteers will get this big reward: a personal blog right here, just like this one. They can post whatever they want: prose, poems, YouTube videos, pictures. They just have to take their job seriously, and responsibly.
What's the big deal about having a blog on our website? Well, if you get one on Blogger or somewhere like that, you would be lucky to get 10 visitors a day. Very lucky. But our website has been averaging 120 individual visitors a day, and rising, and once on the site they tend to look around. So any blog here will do pretty well.
I'm looking forward to adding a few more people to our organizing committee.
Organizer of London Open Mic Poetry. former support worker for people with autism and developmental disabilities. former farm boy, former adventurer, former florist.