Wednesday, January 30, 2013

last night a tornado touched down in ware, illinois, which set off an old memory of mine that was probably better off undisturbed. ware is a nowhere kind of town, but it's along the river and it's on the way to cape from where we used to live. it was a site of a very disturbing piece of history, the trail of tears, but i don't know so much about that, and in fact have never been off the road in ware. the road comes through ware and you don't even see many houses.

but i have this memory of another town, which i believe was also called ware, and when i was driving through that town one lonely night, that town had a lot of houses out by the highway, and a dog came out to bark at my car as i was barely even slowing down for the houses. i hit the dog, and i could hear it, but the dog ran off. i stopped the car but was unable to find it. some people were in my car but i can't remember who.

now the heck of it is, my memory places this town in kansas. but i can't for the life of me find a ware, kansas, or remember where the town was. i'm not sure it was called ware although somehow, that's how i remembered it. but in my mind, i replay hitting the dog a lot, maybe in my dreams. it's a recurring dream.

there is no ware, kansas. there's a ware iowa and a ware mass. but i never lived anywhere near either of them. the one in iowa, i could have driven through once. it's way out in western iowa, on a back road, but it is a row of houses. could that be the one?

somehow when i encountered ware illinois i thought of that place, and my memory of that poor dog was kept alive. i knew it wasn't the same ware, because ware illinois has no houses on the road. when i heard about the historic tragedy of ware illinois - people dying by the river, because it was winter, and they couldn't cross, i thought, this is a tragic place. illinois is beautiful down there, by the river, tucked into the bluffs and all.

as a kid i had a dog who ventured out into the street once and got hit. scared, he ran all the way across the city, and that was uncharacteristic of him, but someone found him, because luckily he had tags, and we got him back. when he came home he licked his wounds a lot and didn't go out as much. he kind of got the wind taken out of his sails. i felt bad because naturally, i thought maybe i could have prevented it. now that we have only one dog, i'm getting along with her fine; we go out to the porch and throw the toy a lot. she'll fetch for ten, maybe twenty minutes until she wears out. she's never been hit that i know of. we live on a busy street, though. maybe in the back of my mind, i'm replaying a reel. town of ware.

i think maybe it's that one in iowa. that's a whole state full of scenic little turns in the road, that are blazed away like a branding iron in people's hearts. it's just the way it is. you sleep by a window of any kind, your soul will end up out there in iowa, reliving something.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

i've always been a fan of the false spring, 'cept that one year it destroyed all of southern illinois' peach crop, but i wasn't quite prepared for west texas' version of it, which apparently hit us already and it's not even february. in iowa they would call it 'january thaw' though it was just enough for the ice to melt once, then go back under for a few more months of careful walking. down here, we actually had daffodils for a day or two, scores of people out with their dogs in the dog wallow, people playing frisbee and laying around in it. then comes today, and they said, make friends with those lubbock weather folk, watch out, when the wind, and the rain, and the dust all get together you get these globs of mud and it's all streaky and pretty messy.

the globs of mud never materialized, but the wind did rise and it shifted from southwesterly to northwesterly to northerly, 'til it was coming straight down flint while i walked, and when i came around the park and went back north on flint it came down flint and hit me in the face, a hard cold plains wind. not so much sand in my teeth though, and no mud, though maybe they had that earlier. just a cold hard winter wind with a big huge honkin full moon up there, and some clouds flying through.

the clouds are amazing, it's like you're up in a plane during the day, because they're so sharp, and they move, and the sky is so big, maybe it's because we're 3000 feet up already. it's a wild and dramatic sky. so when they say the heavy stuff is coming, in the afternoon, i give my kids a ride the six blocks from school and i don't mess around with it. but at night, i need my exercise and i go out in it, sand in my teeth or not.

so i've got a grim fascination with these fourteen actualists, whose poems together comprise the actualist anthology, a small almost-out-of-print book that i recently got and am now devouring one poem at a time. some of these folks were my friends; some actually good friends; some acquaintances; some i'd never heard of 'til the book arrived in the mail again. i'd lent my first copy out to a friend and never saw it again, then moved, so i had to up and order another to replace it and now i'm impelled: i want it to be distributed again. it's a classic, in my opinion. one of the all-time classics.

couple of kids had a bad car accident on flint the other day, way up north, the other side of campus, about a mile and a half north, and i read the description in the paper, one lost her life over it, so it was quite a tragedy, but best i could figure, somebody just took their time turning right, onto flint, and that caused the other car to swerve and that set the whole thing in motion. these people, and i'm not sure it's a southern thing or what, they just take a little too long getting out of the way. and we all know it's the one behind him's fault, we all know that. you gotta let them crawl out of that right lane at their own pace. i've been there.

my problem is, i dont' know twenty mph wind from forty mph. how do you tell? it all seems pretty bad to me, especially when it bears down from the north. an old can was jumping down flint tonight as i got out there, making a big racket, caught in the wind, which i figure was about twenty. then, i figure, when you feel like you have to hold yourself down to keep from blowing away, then that's maybe thirty. and then when i feel that way, and i weigh two-twenty or thereabouts, then it might be more. and if i really feel like i'm about to blow away, then i guess i don't want to be out in it, even if it's something to see or has that haboob quality. let's face it, this new stuff, i kind of want to see it, i'm like those people my sister criticized, here they had this hurricane/tornado in new york city, and what did people do but go out and try to get pictures of it, go for a stroll. no do not go for a stroll in this stuff, stock up on toothpaste and lock yourself in the back room. or upstairs if there's water involved. i'm not into putting myself against the weather.

and then, you have to take my word for it about the sky, because, when you get down to it, i don't take many pictures either, even though my camera is perfectly well capable. you here, are stuck with the print version, because that's all i've got. i promise to change that though, liven things up a bit.

so i heard a gun shot tonight, it seemed to come from the southern side of the dog-wallow park that i walk around, but i couldn't say much more about it, could be a backfiring motorcycle engine too, as there was a fairly loud motorcycle in the neighborhood at the time. reminded me of a basic difference between texas and the rest of the u.s. in texas, they responded to the sandy hook shootings, basically, by making guns legal in the schools, and even helping the schoolteachers carry them. making it easier for the teachers to have them. in their mind, that's safer, because guns were always for safety, to protect you against wild hogs, and wild armadillo, cougar, or whatever. makes perfect sense if you live in a truly wild west, and you respond to real danger with real gunpowder. so what's bothering me? in my city mind, giving some poor teacher a gun is kind of like setting it out there on the desk where anyone can come along and use any devious trick to get it in their possession. and this would be safer? somehow i picture people who really really need guns going after the schoolteachers because they know it's possible, and because they're desperate. am i twisted or what? ah but the world is twisted, and i'm still trying to bring my kids up in it.

but it underscores a point: we live in a world where guns are traditional, you take them with you, you're alone ten-twelve hours of texas plain, wild boars charging you or whatever, of course you have one and it's loaded too. and everyone is sensible about it, they don't go shooting up schools and such. after the shot in the park, i waited for people screaming, or an ambulance, or police to converge from anywhere two miles away or less, where people would surely have heard it. but it didn't happen. they're used to it, out here too, it was probably no big deal. i'll check for the fox, i hope that feller's still around. i'll check my tires too, because you never know, though my car was in the garage the whole time. that wind will turn, i'm sure of it, and there may yet be some rain too, or at least, the feeling of things softening up and being a little more hospitable. who knows, maybe that's short, maybe it's over by march. but whatever, my eyes are wide open, bring on them tumbleweeds, and duststorms, and whatever else there is. my wife says she saw the virga, a kind of fake rain or a rain that starts, and doesn't quite reach the ground. you see & hear all kinds of stuff, if you ask. now, i'm kinda curious.

Monday, January 28, 2013

finally got it together to make a post about actualism which has been on my mind as it seems that not too many people have been noticing it. what happens is this. ok, it's about 40 years since these guys were wandering around iowa city. some of them are dying or at least suffering health problems; one of the founders died in '86 of alcoholism or so it's said. this guy, writer of the actualist manifesto, darrell gray, doesn't even have a wikipedia entry though he's a great poet, or so i think, i haven't read it all. others are whiling away in obscurity because they lived in iowa city, not san francisco or new york. my impulse is to put them all in a novel, the whole bunch.

course i couldn't do that, because i knew about half of them, and that would mess with my pure impulse to be free with the facts. it's a rough world, i've gone back to work (see below), i'm on that nasty streetcorner every day, with the crushed glass in the brick, remnants of the last victim. i'm trying to swim three times a week which means i cross that place even more, but, i'm keeping my head up, it'll all work out. have a tesol presentation coming up too, in some ways, doing actualism is avoiding that. and finally, i haven't totally let go of my linguistics book, though i certainly have failed to read a great book i got from the library which should help me with it.

so how's texas? a big wind came up today and seemed to blow dust and other stuff all around though it was very sunny, and still there was a huge sky, with a sunset, and it seemed like one could enjoy the sun and the cool weather if one could stay out of the wind and the blowy stuff which made some people complain of allergies. i see these tumbleweeds occasionally and to me they've come to symbolize the complete rootlessness of life on the plains, the wind is tough, the wind wins, all the rest of us just blow around according to its whims. one of them had cotton in it, like a jackrabbit, that might have been out by the airport where it gets flat and wide and there are a lot of cotton fields. it's actually a prosperous area, what with all this cotton, and the planting they've done has probably kept some of the dirt still instead of blowing it all the way north to wherever. why should we give our land to oklahoma? they hate us anyway.

so i do a little research on these actualists, there are fourteen in my book, actualist anthology, and i'm kind of fascinated by this piece of work although i haven't read it entirely cover to cover. and one thing that fascinates me is this: most of these actualists are drifting into obscurity, even friends of mine, chuck miller, jim mulac, john sjoberg. four or five other names in there, i don't remember at all. morty, he's ok, because he's a publisher, and this darrell gray, he's semi-famous, just because he's really good, and he was in san francisco a while. but even he doesn't have a wikipedia page, and he's been dead 27 years. actualism itself doesn't have a wikipedia page, and it's been around forty years or so. dave morice has a great wikipedia page, but then he's been doing non-stop theater for forty years.

what then is the lesson? one has to decide what one will or won't do for fame. ron silliman, he's an interesting study, he had a particular kind of poetry that he loved and kept writing for what, thirty or forty years. but he started a blog and eventually just made it the poetry blog of all poetry blogs, not least because it linked to every single other poetry blog there is, which was quite a collection. but in reality what he sold was this: he wrote extensively about poetry; he knew what was good; he wasn't afraid to criticize, etc. he was like me in that his blog was never very fancy or worked up or special-skin. and then, recently, he got tired of writing. he retired. he didn't need it; he'd made it as a poet. people ask him to read, and he does; they like him because of his unquestioned fame. the blog was his path to fame.

don't know what i think of that. i've been fiddling a little, one side of me never minded going toward fame. found a bunch of bluegrass pickers and old rustlers hanging around playing the classics with a few southern ones thrown in, dixie, washington & lee, and such. i'll have to practice these. i'm a be famous yet, one way or the other. probably later, not sooner. chou

Sunday, January 27, 2013

went out for another long walk tonight, but didn't get started 'til late for a number of reasons. some of the late-night watering people were working their lawns, but the main dog-wallow park, a large thing about .6 miles around, or a k, bone dry, brown as brown could be even in january. the weather had told of a virga so we looked that up and found out that it's when a cloud lets go of some rain, and it falls, but it doesn't make it all the way to the ground because it evaporates too quickly on its way down. i never saw this, by the way, all i saw was a bunch of clouds, and even that was at night. but while it looked like rain, it obviously hadn't, except where these lawn-waterers were active.

now i continue to shake my head that they allow these people to pull up water from the aquifer for the pure purpose of making a lawn green, that wouldn't be green naturally, and doesn't have a chance at staying green, once the season gets going. but the water commissioner quit, and they can't find another one, and people are bucking like crazy just because they have to keep track of how much water they've taken, they don't feel it's anyone's bidness how much they took. you live in the country, you get a well, you take what you want, then you gotta get another well 'cause people are taking so much, you have to keep digging deeper.

now i'm at over 700 in e pluribus, and it's filling out in what i considered its weak points, places where states just don't have enough. i wasn't in every state in every season, and some, like south carolina, i was only in once, at night, and didn't see much of it. so, you come right down to it, i have to research to evenly distribute, and, i have to conjure up some things that weren't true, in a grand sense. no matter, i'm writing like crazy. i carry colored paper around folded up into tiny squares. the other day i came home looking for my poetry, and couldn't find it. i had four rhode islands, an iowa, and an arkansas on there. i checked every pair of pants, and checked shirts too. i checked my desk, and the living room. i got the sense this poetry would get laundered so i checked everything in the basket.

finally i went to work and checked my desk, but it wasn't there either. it did finally come through the laundry, much cleaner, in little pieces caught in the lint trap. but the heck of it is, i remembered every one of those poems and recreated them before that happened. it was interesting. each was a kind of puzzle that i'd worked a while on, so, when it got right down to it, the tracks were fresh. i have a geographic memory. the main part was where they were stored. my poetry in general is organized this way. it's nice to have a place that's organized how i like to organize stuff. it's like my own garden, or my own wallet. it's got a lot of dead links though. it's like these people don't keep pictures up of "spring" very often, or "summer" or "winter" for that matter. but it's true, you have a little better luck with "summer;" don't know why.

the traffic slows down a bit on flint. the sirens had a busy night out there, but the cars have let up a little; it's almost one. the computer's almost dead too. maybe i ought to just let it go, sleep me a little of that texas night. somebody, somewhere, is probably missing the place.

Monday, January 21, 2013

saw the gray fox tonight; i was walking around the terrace park and he crossed the road into it, and down into the center part of it, looking back at me a little as he circled around. he was larger than a cat and had a huge tail. but he was like a cat in many ways. guess he could have been a coon, or something else; i couldn't see his face at all really.

i've been walking around the terrace park at night; recently they put up a sign saying basically that five times around is a five-k, or about three miles. i go only around, but i generally walk on the grass, not the crushed gravel, and the center has become somewhat full of dogs during the day which leads me to call it dog-wallow park, most of the time. this is a recent development; it used to be five people, five dogs, now it's ten or fifteen, or twenty of each, all day, every afternoon, an entire holiday. but at night it's generally empty, maybe one or two dog-walkers, and those with leashes, or way out in the center, which is the wallow. so what do you think this fox was thinking? i'm figuring he was hungry, and was looking for neighborhood cats. second time around the park, i looked for him/her, gone already. fourth or fifth time i heard this pitiful wail from the neighborhood to the north, as if he/she had gotten someone and was killing it slowly. a while ago i feared for our neighborhood stray, suzie, who wanders around free, night and day, she's not really a stray, she's a maine coon, belongs to people across the street, but they let her go and she comes around to tease the others. one thing about her, she crosses flint like she owns the place, much more relaxed than anyone i've ever seen. yet she's survived this local fox, at least so far.

i take my walk seriously, when i take it, and try to notice as much as i can. i see a lot of stars, more than i used to in carbondale even; mostly orion, cassiopeia (sp?), taurus the bull, the pleiedes (sp?) - your basic winter stuff. there are some planets out there. dogs bark to the east and sometimes to the south. ambulances make a lot of noise; that's mostly to the west, but sometimes to the north or south. lots of people use the place; they park by it, and use their phones, or make out, or just sit there trying to get away from whatever. some bring their dogs. one guy tonight walked maybe three laps talking the whole way; it seemed like it was to himself, but, you never know, he could have some invisible machine tucked up in there, and it was dark, so what do i know. i occasionally overhear conversations, or parts of them. the dogs snarl at me. i don't generally start up with people.

the fox would have several hiding places, if he chose to use the park as base. there are sewers of some sort beneath it on the edges. there are alleys that come out, near there. this fella has a kind of urban lifestyle. i'm sure he's rather hungry, come ten p-m on a monday night.

missed the george strait concert; missed the playoffs too, and missed all that obama stuff. i liked the cartoon that had martin and said, i have a dream on top; it had obama and said, i have a drone on the bottom. i'm still mad at him for bombing random strangers, citizens and nationals of another place, for no legal reason, but rather perhaps as a favor to some government that might consider someone a terrorist? i have no faith. to me he's bombing random strangers, bearded stragglers out on the mountainside, whose crime is what, saying something bad about the west? i haven't heard a reason yet. does someone think they can go bombing people in some country, and not give a reason? do it in our name, and not tell us why? is this a war we have declared on someone, and if so, who was it that declared it, was it petraeus (sp?) or someone? in our name? excuse me?

enough of that, these are things we have no control over, clearly. my control goes this far: i decide not to go downstairs and turn on the television. i stay up here, in the light, by the window, sometimes i throw the toy for the dog, in the sun; it seems like both of us are very happy with this arrangement, i because i slowly get my throwing arm back, she because a lab lives to fetch. the traffic on flint, slowly, it becomes part of my psyche, background noise, it's just there, and though it occasionally is too fast, or too noisy, or too whatever, it's just there, i have no control over it, sometimes i put myself where i can watch it; there is a regular pattern, you do notice stuff after a while. the boys tend to go all-media to try to drown it out. all video games, or all television. but sometimes, i just like to hear the tires on the road. watch out for suzy, and the gray fox. we're talking like, flint and twenty first.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

my sister was here, and this brought up a lot of topics, some of which, like my family in general, i rarely go into much here. but she's a new yorker in texas, and has a number of acute observations about the general state of things, and we of course having lived here for about five months have a few of our own.

texas has been extremely friendly, not only friendly but nice, people are genuinely welcoming and she noticed this also; she said, even on the road, at a rest stop, people have a lot to say and will tell you whatever you like. i notice that they bring up football a lot and you have to be conversant in the basics, like kliff kingsbury and tuberville, these guys who are big on the tech football team, the new coach and the old coach. these guys get millions, and have entire staffs to attend to their needs, and one would think some would be a bit miffed that people are starving, the economy goes to hell, etc. yet we pay huge fortunes to these, well, whatever, people don't mind, and besides, from their point of view, they have jobs and there are jobs around. football's just a common cultural focal point, like you have to talk that for a while before they get a feel for how much you really care about what they care about. but then she brought up natalie maines because she as a musician wanted to hear a story about one who was virtually banned from a town because of what she said.

i haven't been able to believe she'd be in such trouble just for badmouthing bush in england, but, as it turns out, two songs she wrote after that might have been taken very personally. one, quite obviously, was 'lubbock or leave it,' but the other, 'not ready to make nice,' basically slammed racism and whoever the person was who threatened her life over the bush comment. ok, so i'd never even listened to the words of 'not ready to make nice,' assumed it was about relationships, but in this case, it's kind of about relationships, yes, between her and the folks around here, or maybe even her family.

so you're wondering how people could take this stuff personally, but it's like, if you even appear to put your family in these songs, and everyone knows your family, then i guess, well who knows. my sister says people hold women artists to a higher standard, because women always have to be so nice and all, and if she's crabby or needs some peace and quiet before a gig, they're all like she's a b- in person, rhymes with rich, and all that.

so george strait was in town, king of the country singers, he played the arena friday night, so the restaurant was all full of these dressed up folks, cowboy hats and all, and i figure lots of them had come from all around to see him. he likes lubbock, he said, so he started his tour here, and his tour was 'cowboy rides away' so he's the cowboy, he's riding away, isn't going to tour any more, this is his last rodeo. so i'm curious; this is what, sold out i'm sure, big money and all, but, actually, remarkably polite, in terms of the traffic, and the people at the restaurant for example. country singers, i figure, they're the good guys, since they don't encourage young men to bash each other's skulls repeatedly and then get back into the game, and bash skulls more. i couldn't drum up much interest in pure country amongst the family, only the youngest really likes it. my sister didn't much care for it, didn't even know much about george strait. didn't know the song, somewhere down in texas, which is my favorite of the songs i know. one side of me wouldn't mind being george strait, wouldn't mind it at all. my sister says, you ought to just get a hat. i'd have me a persona, i'd get up there and croon away, and i'd be sincere, just like george himself, it wouldn't bother me a bit. unlike talking football, which, to tell you the truth, is getting to me a little.

these are details maybe, they bore you, you'd rather hear about my fam maybe than my dreams. ah, but i write about my dreams. that's sometimes as close as i get. this george dude, he's playing just four or five blocks from my house. this is kind of new to me. other folks will come through too, 'cause this is a city, and it's on the tour path. in fact, it's not far from wichita falls, amarillo, albuquerque, some of the others. some people say it's far from everything. i say, yes, distances are far here, but actually it's right down in the middle of it all. dallas, austin, san antone, and then ya got tucson, phoenix, denver, vegas, this is the grand tour these days. and you see a cactus or two from the plane, or maybe, you just keep on going to some place like china where there's real money. i don't know how it works. the sun shines a lot here though, i can see why george likes it. once you learn how to put on a good show, you just get up there and belt it out. over & over. as dreams go, you could do worse.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

when i arrived in iowa city in january of 1975 i landed in the middle of what was called the actualist movement in poetry; i, however, didn't realize it at the time. in fact i was interested in the writer's workshop, a graduate program at the university of iowa which was famous in literary circles, but, when i enrolled at the university that spring, and took a writing course, it was held in a bar, and i didn't make much of a connection with the teacher; soon i dropped out for another five years or so, disillusioned with the university writing scene.

the actualists actually thrived on rejection, or rather the snobbery of the writer's workshop. they loved having a common enemy, and using street poetry or actualist poetry to highlight the difference between themselves and the workshop, which had perhaps become too aloof, too academic. as i look back i find plenty of evidence of the actualists' feelings, their reactions, the spontaneity and immediacy of their writing. but i didn't know anyone in the workshop. how do i find out how they really felt?

one day i was walking down the street in downtown iowa city when i saw a small crowd standing around, looking up. dave morice was writing a poem, literally over the edge of iowa city's highest building. he was big on poetry as theater: he wrote poems across bridges, poems that spanned the longest day, etc. he dressed up in a kind of uncle-sam tuxedo and top hat that were covered with letters, so that he was known as "dr. alphabet." he was a leader of the actualists, but surely not the only one.

my own trajectory meanwhile was leading me directly away from writing. a friend i had met in the workshop borrowed the journal that i had written as i'd traveled 48 states, and lost it. as i tried to write, with more pressure, in a classroom situation, i couldn't. when i quit school, i started a restaurant with some friends and devoted myself to it. eventually this restaurant served breakfast and became competition for another well-known restaurant, the hamburg inn which was known as "the burg". We were actually very poor competition, as we weren't as organized or experienced as they were. it was my ambition at that moment, however, to compete.

the burg, being a kind of everyday hamburger joint, was loved by the actualists, or at least frequented by them, whereas it was scorned by the workshop people, who generally went for finer dining, if they went anywhere at all. nobody quite knew what to make of stone soup, the hippie restaurant, but it being a lively counterculture scene and all, the actualists embraced it also. this is where i met and befriended a number of them: john sjoberg, morty sklar, chuck miller. dave morice, i knew more from elsewhere, i figure. i don't remember clearly exactly how i was involved with these people, but they were friends.

then there were the workshop people. the one guy, j.j. by initials (not the same jj who was at one time my best friend in iowa city) just out-and-out lost that traveling journal, though not intentionally. but really, i wasn't mad at them so much as disappointed in myself, that i couldn't just produce good stories on demand, or that i didn't have a repository waiting to be criticized. i just became disinterested. i was more oriented toward living life than writing about it. i got the sense that they scorned the burg (one even picks this up in the book, the burg: a writer's diner, but i think it's unfair to make generalizations especially about a crowd that is clearly very diverse. so i'll just say: i didn't know much about them.

time passed. i had a kid. i quit the restaurant and worked in the bakery for a while. then i quit that and did a number of other things, documented herein. stay tuned!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

last day before i go back to work, and as usual i've put off thinking about work for as long as possible. i have not, however, accomplished everything i could during break, and in fact found myself incredibly distracted with what free time i did have. i did get a fair start on my linguistics book, but got caught up when i really got to what a self-organized system is, because like most people i'm not exactly sure. ah then, that's what research is for; it's back to the drawing board.

i ignored my novel altogether, and virtually ignored my texting site, although i have a presentation soon about the effects of technology on the modern language learner. i love love love studying the intersection of technology and grammar, but unfortunately my daily life has moved me a bit further from where i can really study what happens to young people who have such access to such technology all the time. what happens, i believe, is that they are ultimately unable to string sentences together well, because they are so connected that they can't get through a sentence without going back to their language a few times. and the computer is constantly redlining, greenlining them so that their confidence is totally undermined.

but how do i present this to an audience of esl/efl teachers from around the world? many of them are hoping for technology to just solve their grammar problems. in fact they often have grammar problems themselves, and just want to know more about how some machine can just fix it. but machines don't fix it. and they certainly can't explain it, though they make a good college try.

so in the end i got into poetry, and not only got a slightly better presentation of my book (see below), but also wrote a few more; in the end, i kind of got into this, and now have over 670. i cleaned up the site a little too, took out the dead links, got more righteous maps in there, etc. with 670 you'd think i'd have plenty of everything, but in fact i have as few as eight for some states, and they're poorly distributed, so some states even now have ten summer, but no fall. many states have none of any given season, and i'd like to address this, although with fall, for example, i'm kind of stuck on football and leaves, which are to me among the only dead-out clues in most of america. i have to apply myself to this situation; it must not stand. people react to the book by opening their own state. one lady said, "i want to see what you have on florida"...i was embarrassed, because i don't have enough on florida. this break i wrote about four or five on florida; it's looking a little better. hawaii and south carolina are still somewhat weak. then there's alabama. people read that first; it is first. yet it has more than anything my prejudice against dixie and against football. it needs to lean a little more to the subtle, and let that prejudice go in states like mississippi or virginia, that are later in the alphabet where you're a little more used to it.

the interesting thing is that, of the things i do, this is the one that kind of stirs people, i'm not sure why. the stories, ho hum, my brother tried his best to tell me, come on. i tried to compile them over break but i'd only written about twelve of them and it wasn't enough to make a book. music? i've practically stopped playing, but that's a temporary condition and if i could find a country band, i'd start that up again, i think. it also caught my fancy, the idea of starting a texas bookstore, only it wouldn't sell books so much as tex-arcana, and have good coffee, and poetry performances, etc. so i went to this place called the "last bookstore" and the guy had actually set aside a room for girls girls girls stuff in order to stay in business. such is life in lubbock; i'd obviously have to be clever to make a bookstore work here. i'd love to be surrounded by books though, especially texas books. texas history. old picture books and westerns.

speaking of which, got a movie from a friend, made by and about kinky friedman, now there's a texan for ya. more or less independent of mainstream media, he made a band that made fun of everyone (insulted everyone), wrote a number of books using the people he knew, got to know lots of politicians and musicians, started a no-kill shelter to raise money to keep his ranch going, smoked a cuban cigar on every part of the film, and virtually guaranteed that he'd have an image of his own making, forever. he helped define texas, in the sense that when somebody asked me if there were any jews in texas, immediately i could say, well there's kinky friedman, at least i think he's jewish. a lot of people have never heard of him. but i say, you hear the name of his band, you may never forget, though i guess some people probably did. it was an inspiration. a person can make a living being a texan, and having a grand personality.

so, my dreams are slowly but surely moving into the texas movie-set where i feel like i could get involved in something that would certainly be all-consuming. country band. texian bookstore. cowboy poet. whatev.

but there's one more that kind of pushed itself on me. an old friend, dave morice, had a heart attack, and i realized that time is running out on the actualists. they were a band of wild poets in iowa city in the 1970's who responded to the snobbery of the writers' workshop in a very 70's kind of way, by making a lot of noise, printing a lot of mimeograph poetry magazines, and having these conventions that were wild partying affairs. the workshop by and large hated them, but that was temporary, lots of workshop people are not snobs, so one has to be careful i think, what one says about the workshop. the actualists, however, were energized by a common enemy. and their poetry, by and large, was defined by being opposite of elite/effete; it was actual, and lively, oh how to explain it. the question is, is it my job to explain it? i arrived in iowa city right then, mid-seventies, and wasn't really a poet or writer, was only vaguely aware of the movement. but somebody should document it; it's by and large undocumented, hard to find on the web and elsewhere. i'm somewhat inclined to write a novel about it, because then i'd have the freedom to really explore and bend the characters a bit. but i'd have trouble, even then, with the ones i know. how do you bend them? kinky could do it. i'd have a little more trouble, i think.

but i got in touch with my old friend from those days, and he sent me a few copies of the actualist anthology, a fine collection of the best of actualism...said he only had a few left; they certainly aren't selling like hotcakes. to me, though, this is the classic book of all time, and he was delighted that i took an interest, and even signed a few copies for my kids. he shared with me what he could about actualism and the ball is in my court, so to speak. i can either write about it (as i've done a little here), or not. but the heart attack gives me pause. it's like, the main sources, they're getting old. the time is now.

over the holidays we took a major trip; flew to st. louis, rented a car and drove through snow down to carbondale, where the snowmen were bowing when we arrived, due to the snow having stuck around maybe a week more than usual. saw a number of friends, and that was good, and then went up to st. louis, where we saw four grandchildren and got them all in one room though they weren't much up for all four being on one couch for a photo shoot. i talked a lot with two of the older kids; one said, you know, we in our generation look up to you from the sixties and seventies as being kind of special, as doing all this wild stuff, look at the hitchhiking for example, we could never do that these days. and the actualism is kind of like that, it's a wild picture of that era and all the things one could do when a small town let you do it, because, well, it was a place that celebrated poetry.

one other thing, i compiled a smaller poetry book, based on carbondale haiku most of which is also online's called boxcars on walnut and hopefully will expand. for now, though, it's what i've got; it's carbondale, and i, having moved out, may have less to say rather than more.

i'm back in lubbock, and it's rained a bit, but i'm basically back to work tomorrow. all that stuff i put off, i need to get on the stick and work on it. like syllabi, for example, that kind of stuff. i am still a teacher, after all, in spite of these dreams, these visions, these things i'm supposedly writing...lubbock, in fact, is a kind of actualist place. they have their cowboys, sure, and their agriculture, and their prosperity, to some degree, but its duststorms, its dryness, its flat unpretentious high-plains kind of way, it celebrates cowboy poetry, and buddy holly, but it doesn't pretend to be austin. it's home, anyway, and it's back to the grind for me.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

e pluribus haiku 2012
now available in paperback on amazon...
if you go to the amazon site, you can "look inside", but if you really want to experience the poetry, you can go to its original site...

Monday, January 07, 2013

Friday, January 04, 2013

i sit in the house of my friend, on a main street in the small town where i lived for eighteen years. the traffic goes relentlessly east here, three lanes of it, though it's a nice house, old, charming, kind of like the one we live in now in texas. the three lanes of constant traffic make a rhythm that i'm sure eventually seeps into your bones so that you don't even hear it; to my friend, i'm sure, this place is restful. to me, i have emotions from the eighteen years, from seeing people who i knew for all those years, while now, i sense a gulf growing, as their lives continue here and mine starts all over again, elsewhere. i said to a friend, so, what's new around here, in town, politics or business, what's happening in the town itself. she looked at me blankly. it was like, i shouldn't expect her to know such a thing, or, more likely, what do you expect ever to happen? or perhaps, why do i care.

it's all a little depressing, but i'm on my way out of here now; i'll give a report as soon as i return. promise!