Wednesday, April 16, 2014



--IT STARTED WITH A WHISPER


I just finished Bud Smith’s fantastic poetry collection, “Everything Neon.”  In many ways, the poems feel like love letters the reader has found stashed in a shoe box in someone else’s closet.  Both tender and wise, Smith’s pieces are rendered with the kind of confidence that comes from a writer whose heart is laid bare on his sleeve, nothing to hide, nothing left to loose.  No matter the length, each poem is wrought with vitality and tenderness and an acute awareness that the moments in between the bigger moments are often the ones that matter most.

In “I Kiss My Wife” Smith writes:

We’re just one window
of a thousand windows
looking down
on a shared riot.

The collection allows us to scour through the author’s heart and soul by whatever means we might choose, and in doing so we discover joy, wide-eyed boyish wonder, and romance in experiences that we might otherwise overlook or even find trite.

Through Smith’s lens, we journey down city streets replete with fire escapes, fire alarms blaring, bored policemen, ambulances streaking by, bridges sagging under the weight of neglect, taxis, and an ever lurking moon.

Littered among longer piece are potent gems like “Youth”:

When we were little
our mutual dream
was to slam dunk
so hard we’d shatter
the glass backboard
that was it
our whole dream
and now
here we are.

Some poems, such as “May 4th”—about the author’s marriage in a movie theater where he’s written his vows on a parking ticket-- are so goddamn sweet and romantic they make you smile inside, even while being envious.

“Everything Neon” is riddled with wise observations and clever lines such as this from “Dead”:

Life is a weird rumor
somebody started somewhere.

Other times we are put on notice, as in the cleverly titled “We Collect Skulls”:

fair warning:
most of our heroes get shot in the head.

Finding poetry this honest and vulnerable, while also being entirely accessible, is a rare thing these days where most poets rely on gimmicks or word play strung together without any sense of cohesion, let alone any kind of narrative arc.   Smith’s poetry is like an urban take on what Raymond Carver might have written, spare yet lush, brimming with answers about what it means to be clear-eyed and alert while everything around us spins, entangled.

Reading “Everything Neon” makes one want to fall in love, or in the very least take a new look at the world we experience and flush it full of bright light.

You can your copy here:


http://budsmithwrites.com/books/everything-neon/

Monday, April 14, 2014



--EVEN THE STARS FALL FOR YOU

…How was your weekend?
Where I live, we had stellar weather.  You reside in a place where it can rain for four months straight and then the sun appears, well it’s kind of spiritual.  You certainly appreciate sunny days a lot more than say, a Floridian or Californian.
…I’m reading many books at once, which I used to never do.
Here are some, and they’re all good so far:
-“Everything Neon,” Bud Smith
-“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk Home, “Ben Fountain
-“The Submission,” Amy Waldman
-“Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned,” Wells Tower
-“The Zero,” Jess Walter
-“Going After Giaciatto,” Tim O’Brien
-and also, “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” which is not so good.
 …Whenever someone (usually someone famous) says they have no regrets, would never change anything that happened in their life, I call bullshit.  Who wouldn’t want certain moments, choices, events altered?
…I love babies and kids.  I wish there were more of them in the world.
…I want to learn to be more grateful: grateful for everything that exists that is good, grateful for my life.
…Deer are incredibly graceful creatures.  I don’t know how anyone could shoot one.  It’s be like killing a child.
…The “Shameless” season finale was pretty good, but not as terrific as the episode it followed.
…”The Walking Dead” is very addictive.  What a great cast of characters (and I’m not talking about the zombies).
…Today should be a good day, don’t you think?
…Here is the notable commentary from last week’s Facebook posts:
-The very elderly man in front of me in line at Rite Aid purchased the following:
- 80 condoms
- 2 enormous bottles of multivitamins
- toilet bowl cleaner
- nasal strips
-It's a beautiful day today, despite the fact that a seagull just shit on me. I'm hanging out in a gasoline storage tank field. They look like birthday cakes under vast blue sky. Mucho sunshine. The weekend right here. Even the gasoline smells nice. I have forgiven the seagull.
-Totally officially divorced. Fuck yeah.
-Your sex life is a not yet written Sci-Fi novel.
-There are a lot of great things about getting older, by the way. One of them is you can take your clothes off in the kitchen.
-I have now witnessed the ultimate in internet irony. Someone called someone else a mooreon.
  -Ah Monday, you capricious little prankster. A 5 hour power outage and right on into 38 degrees with a bone chilling driving rain! Such a lively imagination!


Wednesday, April 9, 2014



--SOMETIMES GOODBYE IS A SECOND CHANCE



        Facsimile


She worries about becoming an imitation of herself, of having conjured up a physical facsimile of someone she’s not.  Sometimes her secrets gurgle and brew so loudly that she’s afraid she’ll be found out.  The two abortions.  Making out with a girl one summer at camp.  An uncle’s hairy hand under her shirt.  The year she compulsively shoplifted mascara from Rite Aid.

The cat curls around her ankles like a scarf as she plucks an eyebrow in the bathroom mirror.  Last night she made love to George Clooney although it was her husband inside her.  Now he’s suited and ready for work but gives her a kiss on the head where her wet hair is parted.  He says, “Love you.”  He says, “I’ll be late tonight.  Don’t Wait Up.”
After he’s left, she gets the fireplace poker and smashes the bathroom mirror.  Shards the size of carrots lie angled on the tiled counter, dissecting her reflection, reproducing a million frauds.  She picks up a jagged piece and holds it against the inside of one wrist.  She remembers a girl in high school, Lisa, who did the very same thing.  She remembers being flabbergasted that anyone would want to kill themselves
Now she lets her robe drop to the floor and climbs inside the tub.  She runs the water hot, wanting to burn, to hurt, but not enough to die, wanting instead a way out of this hoax of her. 

She drops the chunk of glass on the floor, thinking; I can do this, somehow I can, I can be a real person.  The faucet floods out water.  The water smokes steam.  Pieces of the broken mirror lie idle without speaking.  She closes her eyes and starts at the beginning.  “Who am I?” she asks.

Monday, April 7, 2014



--THE MORE YOU IGNORE ME, THE CLOSER I GET


…Unlike a lot of people, I’ve never been a huge Beatle’s fan.
Yet this year marks the 50th anniversary of their scoring the top 5 singles on Billboard, along with Billboard’s #1 and 2 albums on the same week. 
That’s impressive by any measure.
At one point, they had 14 singles on the Billboard’s top 100… Even more impressive, if you ask me.

…I learned this week that 16,000 people in the USA die from heroin overdoses.  That’s now the leading cause of injury death in the United States, surpassing motor vehicle crashes.
Amazing.

…I also learned that more people die from coconuts falling on their head than from shark attacks….

…Yeah, so here are some interesting comments from Facebook friends last week.
-It's nice out. Anybody wanna follow the train tracks with me to see a dead kid?
-Being a hybrid author like myself, an author who has published with presses AND self-published, is like being bi-sexual. It is very hip.
-According to Tumblr, I own a nifty catheter company in Florida.
-I swear one day I'll sign into Facebook and discover that I'm dead.
-everyone on facebook is talking about making out but I am not making out with anyone
-
-ok now everyone is talking about being gay on fb but ive been gay all day so im good you guys
-Bookseller:...and here you are. All of Shirley Jackson's books.
Customer: This doesn't look right. She wrote all these books?
Bookseller: Uh, yes. You've heard of the Lottery?
Customer: (pause) Oh! I'm sorry. I was thinking of Shirley Temple. Do you have any books by her?
-Would it be bad to stab myself in the abdomen?

 -I just saw a Vespa gang ride by and it has inspired me to NEVER EVER START A VESPA GANG, OH MY GOD, HOW FUCKING PATHETIC.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014



 --A LOT OF TIMES IT’S DIFFICULT TO FEEL NECESSARY


…We get a lot of rain in the Seattle area, but March was a doozy and we broke the old record for rainfall, set in 1950 at 8.5 inches.
This March it rained a whopping 9.5 inches.

…Salaries for professional athletes continue to confound me.  I thought the Detroit Tigers paying Justin Verlander $180 million for seven years was crazy until the Tigers gave Miguel Cabera  an eight-year extension worth $292 million.  Tell me that’s not obscene.

…Here’s a funny article I saw in the newspaper:

A Las Vegas masseuse stole a client's $35,000 Rolex and hid it inside her vagina, police said.
Christina Lafave, 25, allegedly pinched the valuable watch whilst giving a relaxing $300 rubdown to Kenneth Herold, 66, at the Wynn Hotel in January.
The pair reportedly met in the hotel's bar in the early hours of the morning, and headed up to his private room soon after.
Herold claims that he undressed and got onto a massage table in his suite. Some 30 minutes into the session, he says Lafave asked him to remove his watch so she could work on his arms.
Putting the watch on the floor where he could see it, he realized around five minutes later that it had gone.
Herold accused Lafave - who has Metro-issued work cards allowing her to dance at Cheetahs, Cover Girls and Babes strip clubs - of stealing the watch and called hotel security. 
Cops arrived and searched the room, but could not find the ticker.
Lafave eventually admitted to stealing the watch, and to stashing it inside her private parts.
Officers took her to University Medical Center, where it was removed.
"Prior to medical staff assisting Lafave with the removal of the watch she admitted to them that she had stolen a watch and concealed the item in her vagina," a police report said.
Lafave was arrested and faces felony charges grand larceny and possession of stolen property. She was released on $40,000 bail. 


…And lastly, here are a few things I like midway through the week:

“It's a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you're ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There's almost no such thing as ready.  There’s only now.o such thing as ready. There's only now. And you may as well do it now. I mean, I say that confidently as if I'm about to go bungee jumping or something - I'm not. I'm not a crazed risk taker. But I do think that, generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.”  And you may as well do it now.  I mean, say that confidently as if I’m about to go bungee-jumping—I’m not.  I’m not a crazed risk-taker.  But I do think that, generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.” Hugh Lurie

“So, then, to every man his chance -- to every man, regardless of his birth, his shining golden opportunity -- to every man his right to live, to work, to be himself, to become whatever his manhood and his vision can combine to make him -- this, seeker, is the promise of America.” Thomas Wolfeo such thing as ready. There's only now. And you may as well do it now. I mean, I say that confidently as if I'm about to go bungee jumping or something - I'm not. I'm not a crazed risk taker. But I do think that, generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.”

“Life is not holding a good hand; Life is playing a poor hand well.” Danish proverb


“Do not postpone joy.”  Teo Ruiz

Monday, March 31, 2014



--MISSING YOU IS A THING THAT I DO


…I am surrounded by books.  An L-shaped unit behind me is filled with over a hundred of them.  On my desk, inches from this keyboard, is a stack of fifteen to my right, and as many to my left.
I find a lot of comfort being encircled by the written word.

…I like politics and knowing what’s going on in the world, so most of the time I’ll leave the TV turned onto CNN during the day.
 For the last three weeks the coverage has almost been entirely about the lost Malaysian airplane.  There’s never anything new to say, yet they keep at it.  Today they had a panel of six experts, all of them saying the same thing, essentially that it’s all conjecture at this point, same as I has been the last three weeks.  It seems remarkable that they can keep reporting on news that really isn’t news.  This morning, in a surprising move, one of the announcers shared that CNN’s ratings have doubled since the plane went missing.  He said each day he keeps expecting their viewership to begin waning but they just stay steady instead. 
I wonder how long they keep this up.
What would they be talking about if the plane had never disappeared?

…I started watching “The Walking Dead,” albeit a little late in the game.  I can see why it has a cult following.  I’m only a few episodes in, and while it’s grizzly and I don’t have a thing for zombies, the writing, directing and acting is sharp. 
Looking forward to seeing how it plays out.

…Yesterday I finished re-reading Dorianne Laux’s poetry collection, “Facts About The Moon.”  I didn’t enjoy it as much the second time.  She’s one of the fifty most famous poets in the world, yet she didn’t quite to it for me.

…Here are some pithy musings from Facebook folk last week:

-Ariana Huffington claims that 20% of people use their smart phones during sex. That's 1 out of every 5 people using their phone DURING sex.
out dragging an animal with you everywhere, eh? The attention your animal gets you is not attention you earned or deserve. You have not accomplished anything by forcing an animal to sit on the floor of a coffee shop while you gossip about your shitty friends. It's gross behavior, and you should change it.

And Portland business owners, I am mad at you for being enablers. Get your shit together, gurl.
-Not making this up: the dog that bit me Monday is named Karma.
-So excited! My "Topless Putin" calendar finally arrived. April has a pic of Putin riding a unicorn shirtless and bareback. I mean, Putin is shirtless and the unicorn is bareback. U know what I mean.
-If dying is a euphemism for sexual climax, does that mean that aging is a euphemism for foreplay and suicide is a euphemism for masturbation?  Is a funeral a euphemism for rolling over and going to sleep?

-Is there a way to stop dating men who cry in Whole Foods?

-I joined a cool new literary website called "A Band of Angry, Menopausal Women". So excited.

-Today I was told that my new profile picture makes me appear unattractive. So I am keeping it up for a good, long time.
-Jay kissed Rho, then Rho said, "Your kiss is happy in my mouth."

-i guess i have to clean up cat barf.
-Jay says to me, "If one person is murdered during sex and the other person finishes, is that considered necrophilia?" On principal, we are NOT having sex tonight.
-Upside to living alone: naked time.
Downside to living alone: was convinced last night that every single noise was a serial killer.


-Thursdays are a giant boil on the butt of the week.

Friday, March 28, 2014



--YOU LOOK BETTER THAN EVER.  REALLY, YOU DO.



…Well, look what we have here: a weekend.
Over the years weekends have meant many different things to me.
I believe most people really look forward to them.  When I worked retail, Sunday was maybe the one day off and Saturday was a big, important business day, so it always felt like more pressure.  If you threw Friday into the mix, weekends could make or break you.
When I was a kid we picked fruit all summer—strawberries in June, Raspberries in July, cherries in August—and I was always envious of kids my age who were out playing in, or on Saturdays, lounging around watching cartoons.
Now that I’m home all the time, weekends don’t hold much of an appeal one way or the other.  They’re just days to be lived, no more or less special than other days.  The good news is that Mondays don’t give me a bitter taste in my mouth.

…I have always been a fan of Anais Nin and I found this on a blog the other day so I thought I would clip and share as I think it’s interesting and refreshing, even if it is many decades old:

In December of 1946, Harper’s Bazaar editor Leo Lerman asked Nin for a short auto-biography to use in a profile feature. She respectfully declined. Her letter to Lerman — disarmingly honest, brave and vulnerable at the same time — 

I see myself and my life each day differently. What can I say? The facts lie. I have been Don Quixote, always creating a world of my own. I am all the women in the novels, yet still another not in the novels. It took me more than sixty diary volumes until now to tell about my life. Like Oscar Wilde I put only my art into my work and my genius into my life. My life is not possible to tell. I change every day, change my patterns, my concepts, my interpretations. I am a series of moods and sensations. I play a thousand roles. I weep when I find others play them for me. My real self is unknown. My work is merely an essence of this vast and deep adventure. I create a myth and a legend, a lie, a fairy tale, a magical world, and one that collapses every day and makes me feel like going the way of Virginia Woolf. I have tried to be not neurotic, not romantic, not destructive, but may be all of these in disguises.
It is impossible to make my portrait because of my mobility. I am not photogenic because of my mobility. Peace, serenity, and integration are unknown to me. My familiar climate is anxiety. I write as I breathe, naturally, flowingly, spontaneously, out of an overflow, not as a substitute for life. I am more interested in human beings than in writing, more interested in lovemaking than in writing, more interested in living than in writing. More interested in becoming a work of art than in creating one. I am more interesting than what I write. I am gifted in relationship above all things. I have no confidence in myself and great confidence in others. I need love more than food. I stumble and make errors, and often want to die. When I look most transparent is probably when I have just come out of the fire. I walk into the fire always, and come out more alive. All of which is not for Harper’s Bazaar.
I think life tragic, not comic, because I have no detachment. I have been guilty of idealization, guilty of everything except detachment. I am guilty of fabricating a world in which I can live and invite others to live in, but outside of that I cannot breathe. I am guilty of too serious, too grave living, but never of shallow living. I have lived in the depths. My first tragedy sent me to the bottom of the sea; I live in a submarine, and hardly ever come to the surface. I love costumes, the foam of aesthetics, noblesse oblige, and poetic writers. At fifteen I wanted to be Joan of Arc, and later, Don Quixote. I never awakened from my familiarity with mirages, and I will end probably in an opium den. None of that is suitable for Harper’s Bazaar.
I am apparently gentle, unstable, and full of pretenses. I will die a poet killed by the nonpoets, will renounce no dream, resign myself to no ugliness, accept nothing of the world but the one I made myself. I wrote, lived, loved like Don Quixote, and on the day of my death I will say: ‘Excuse me, it was all a dream,’ and by that time I may have found one who will say: ‘Not at all, it was true, absolutely true.’