23 March 2012

Curriculum Vitae by Alissa Valles

I was born in mid-winter.
A bird obscured the sun.
It was a public holiday:
rubbish stood uncollected
in the streets of the capital.
Soldiers sat smoking
around mountain fires.
My mother wore red,
the doctors wore white,
my father came running.
My education proper
began when my uncle
fell into my room, nude
but for a tumbler of whiskey.
I kissed his knees and feet.
From then on, it was one
mad success after another:
the first of my sex allowed to
do rifle training, prizes
in ethnic understanding.
An artist I posed for said
a woman worth painting
looks clumsy in a dress.
At graduation, I recited
and I long and yearn
bringing tears to many eyes.
I believe I am suitable for
the position of his majesty’s
concubine for several reasons.
I rarely speak: since I left
school, I’ve spoken only
to decline marriage offers.
I rarely weep: once, when
my son was taken away.
It’s said the emperor likes
games of flight and pursuit.
If I may say so, without
being thought immodest,
I’m an accomplished prey.

21 March 2012

Goodbye Shawn Kemp Carwash

Shawn Kemp Carwash began on 15 March 2011. Today is 21 March 2012. I took my car to the wash this afternoon but did not smoke pot (ala Shawn Kemp) while inside. As my final SKC post, here is a picture of that experience. Goodbye:

20 March 2012

The Broken Gaze, by Paul J. Leslie, III

Every salesperson at least one point in their career has been asked about their competition by a customer. It never looks good to a customer when you talk bad about your competitors. When you use The Broken Gaze you will be able to say nice things about the competition that your customer will perceive as negatives without you ever saying or expressing it.

1. You must be in excellent rapport with good eye contact with your customer from the beginning.

2. When the customer asks about your competitor, break the eye contact and slightly lower your voice.

3. When you are done talking about them instantly re-establish eye contact and previous voice patterns.

For example:

You and Mrs. Smith are talking about the fine washer and dryers your store sells. You are in good rapport and have anchored `quality and dependability' to yourself. You have excellent eye contact. She then asks about Jones Washers, who are down the street. You immediately break your eye contact and slightly lower your voice and say, "I have heard that there are nice people down at Jones". You immediately reconnect your eye contact and bring back your voice pattern to normal to tell Mrs. Smith about your free delivery offer. If she asks later about Jones Washers you try the same approach. Her brain will link losing rapport to Jones Washers, so it doesn't matter what they offer she will feel disconnected to the competition.

You have succeeded in your sale without bashing anyone.

12 March 2012

The Flasher

SKC's Jeff Alessandrelli discusses baths and flashing in a good review of Adam Peterson's new book over on HTMLGIANT.

07 March 2012


First Second Song

Clyfford Still Museum

Although not as well known as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, or Robert Motherwell, Clyfford Still was part of the first generation of Abstract Expressionists, all of whom employed expressive brush work upon canvases that were large in scale, more often than not meant to convey the grand human narratives of life and death etc.

Still died in 1980 and, subsequently, over 2,400 of his works (approximately 94% of his output as a professional artist) were kept from public viewing until, in accordance with his will, a permanent home for them was built to house them exclusively.

Denver, CO won the bid and the two-story, 28,500 square foot museum officially opened in November of 2011. It is located next to the Denver Art Museum.

Below is an image of the Still paintings PH-4, 1952 and PH-1060, 1954:


06 March 2012

Don't Let Me Forget To Feed The Sharks

Bro has a new chapbook called Don't Let Me Forget To Feed The Sharks out on the Poor Claudia imprint; it's wicked sweet and shit. You can purchase it here.

$1000 Atheist Poem

I'd encourage anyone who is an atheist and reads this blog to enter Bill Knott's $1000 Atheist Poetry contest. Info below.



Cash prize: one thousand dollars will be awarded for the best new anti-religious poem
submitted/accepted/posted on this blog in the year 2012.
(No entry fee, judging will end December 1st.)

Triggermoon Triggermoon

"What have I done to this world" (9), asks the speaker of "There Was a Bridge of Tattered Rugs," which is the opening poem of Julia Cohen's Triggermoon Triggermoon (Black Lawrence Press, 2011). She poses the question, it would appear, in response to the series of images that precede it: "A nightgown soaked in milk / The bassinet in the greenhouse / A boat-shaped spider crabbing the high corner." The world she creates, the one she questions, is a world populated by images slightly askew, each separated by (oftentimes) large associative leaps.

These poems, then, alter our world to the extent that it becomes a "non-world" that "occasionally rolls over" us, producing "Birdsongs [that] appear as abstract patterns" (14). But if we are to piece together something more than abstract patterns, we are told that our eyes must "darken to enliven the birdsong" (14) and form more concrete, visible images. I can only assume that to darken our eyes, we must close them [1] and let the imagination (i.e. our mental imagery) take over.

Perhaps the poem that expresses this strange state the best, at least with regard to the rhetoric of its content, is the first section of "Hello, Goodly," which follows in its entirety:
When you practiced reading on the couch
in Rhode Island, it was the goodly sound

of the weekend

'I have trouble with my sentencing.'

It is true that I had woken up & may have
been disoriented.

It is also true that during moments

of sleepy confusion as we rise, time, with us
in it, has the most clarity.

It is when I am the most confident & the most
vulnerable—to sit by you & secretly water

your shoulder in the right way.

'Do you see the pear tree
growing between the couch cushions? (52)
Waking up in a "sleepy confusion," wherein the mind is still "disoriented," the speaker is both confident and vulnerable. The competing tensions in these moments (manifested in troubling sentences) create an amalgamation of fantastical imagery, such as a "pear tree / growing between couch cushions." A pear tree and a couch cushion, unto themselves, provide little in the way of the extraordinary; but when combined, they produce a "non-world" in which the "something living in these / lives I've not yet found" (47) is found.

[1] It's important to remember, though, that "When we shut out eyes they are actually still open only / covered by a lid" (60); in other words, just because our eyes are "closed," we do not detached from reality, merely interpret reality from a different, darker perspective.

This is what happens when you take the train from Chicago to Lincoln

Exquisite Corpse 1

When do we know the world’s ending?

There is a musty, quaint sense of possibility.

What does the silence of a fact resemble?

Shit it’s all shit. You drive by and smell shit.

So what kind are you?

A damp wind entering your pants.

Why do babies stay alive?

“Because I am lost without you.”

Furious trees resemble the touch. What do I say to

If you go sit under a tree it will hit you.


Behind the supermarket’s loading dock.

Who is the woman with the twitching cheek?

The decision was mine alone. Until.

What is the sense of sensation here?

June 17, 1965. The station wagon had fold down back seats.

And I’m still wondering how you came along.

By sitting still for a very long time.

Exquisite Corpse 2

Why is your face so unreal?

Because since then I’ve grown.

Pray tell me?

Because I painted it to fit the mood.

Where does the act of a play begin and the world end?

On your beautifully landscaped front lawn.

How do you know the meaning of life?

Through the keyhole. With a long steel rod. At night.

And when else would I?


The sky is pagan, taking shape before we realize. How does it do that tonight?

By smelling the milk to guess the animal.

Where does one find a decent meal?

Omaha. I drank it out of a cowboy boot.

Where the hell were you?

In heaven. In Paris. In Tucson. In the clouds. Remember me there. Stand still and firm.

05 March 2012

I ♥ Your Fate

The poem "Putin With Lynch" in Anthony McCann's book I ♥ Your Fate (Wave Books, 2011) functions, to my mind, as an ars poetica, offering readers some sense of how to read the collection:

But there's a parallel world attached to this world
Which are these paths drawn thinly down through the woods
And I meet you there now under the bridge
Where we hear the snow sing snow songs to itself (21)

McCann's poems, indeed, are parallel worlds where "the snow sing snow songs," which in turn allow us, through the confluence of sound and the imagination (i.e. the acoustic-image), to sing our own songs while reading each of them. "But there's a parallel world there under the snow," and in the parallel world below the world parallel to our world, there is "grass thinking snow thinking snow thinking snow" (21): a thought below worlds of song twice removed.

Perhaps the most compelling actualization of this idea poetic-concept-world occurs in the poem "In the Visitors' Locker Room." The poem begins:
Now imagine the vagina
Picture the unfolding of the
Buttery vulva

Picture the swollen wrinkly lips
The shiny pulsing clit (60)
There is the world of the reader (and writer), then there is the world parallel to that world in the poem and it's filled with an "unfolding... / Buttery vulva." The worlds stimulate a vision within the reader's mind: specific, clear, and isolated. But it is also a world attuned to (vagina) song in the internal rhyming of "imagine" and "vagina" and the half rhyme of "lips" and "clit," as well as the assonance of "Picture...wrinkly lips / ...shiny...clit." But, once in this world, we are asked to go elsewhere into another world:
And then picture the world

A parking lot
In the desert

The rumble and rattle of traffic
The day's last light
Darkness settling
Over the pumps

You are a traveler
You are entering
The glass cube
Of this Chevron station (60-61)
The abrupt shift between worlds is made all the more drastic through the juxtaposition of two disparate images: the close-up of a vagina contrasted against the desolate but panoramic Chevron station and its "parking lot / In the desert." The other shift, of course, is that the reader (i.e. "You") has enter the poem world; no longer a disembodied sexual organ, we now see ourselves actively participating:
Your hand is on the door handle
You are pulling open the door
The little bell is jingling

And you remember nothing else
Not where you are from
Nor where you are going (61)
This world, then, becomes so focused and so all-consuming that we no longer remember where we are from or where we are going. Likewise, the fact that our actions are so simple, contain such basic imagery, and are relatively innocuous enable most readers in the modernized world to connect with them. And just as we're settling into this new, banal, precise-but-less-than-overwhelming world:
So that this wonderful vagina
Has become even more appealing

And you can touch it with your nose
And you can wiggle your nose in it
And then you can kiss it (61)
We return to the vagina, but this time we are going down on it. One would assume, given the claim that we "remember nothing else" beside the Chevron station in a desert, the poem is having a bit of fun at our expense, or at least pulling us out of our modern petrol reverie and reminding us of our sexual longings; but moreover, reminding us that even while we're deep within one world, there is a parallel world existing alongside it, whether we think of it or not. And that world is filled with the repetitive songs of an "And you can" anaphora. But, yes, the worlds shift again:
Meanwhile in the world
A scraggly little animal passes
It scurries through the lot
All dust and twigs (62)
And then, another world within an already other world:
And on television
The one over the gas pumps
Kobe Bryant
Is talking about his father

He is speaking very slowly (62)
And then worlds begin to intersect and revelations present themselves to us:
And you listen very carefully

Which is when you learn

That the most important thing
in this game

is to win

this game

And that this

Kobe Bryant
Has never forgotten (62)
We figure that that game Kobe Bryant refers to is basketball, but what game must we win? And why has Kobe "never forgotten" this, but we can "remember nothing else" besides our hands pulling a door handle and little bells jingling? Why all these worlds? Not surprisingly, we are told:
Now you feel very confused
You will try to remember your own father (63)
But in this confusion [1], which includes a switch to the future tense, we have very little time to think of our fathers. Instead, we return to the desert parking lot:
As the animal disappears
in the scrub brush
beyond the dumpsters
and in the sky
a kind of gloaming
is happening

But you don't remember the word
and you would never say gloaming (63)
And now we know that the "You" of this poem, or at least the "You" of this parallel poem-world, might not actually be us because these words in this world we've never known and never care to use. You are not "You"; "You" is someone else that may or may not resemble you, but we are in the world and looking through "You's" eyes nonetheless. In all this confusion, then, we return to what we've seen most clearly and what we've longed to see once again, primal, clear, and lasting:
And you think again of the vagina
The marvelous vagina
The wrinkled bloom of the labia
The mute pulse of the clit

The night is not a mirror
This night is not the Void
It's a wonderful vagina
You've been standing here for years (63)
[1] It should also be noted, although formatting for Blogger makes it difficult, that the Kobe Bryant section is scattered about the page in a field/organic form, further maximizing the confusion.