A few years back…

A few years back I roused my rotting carcass to write some poems. I’m looking at them now because I have some time and nowhere to go.  Of course those poems were written before the events of this spring, the pandemic and protests around the death of George Floyd. Everything that existed before will have to shift a bit, argue anew it’s rationale for existence. My poems are the private garden of an uninteresting man. And also at times very abstract. These poems aren’t trying to fix any of the many things that need fixing. If a bit of odd introspection isn’t appropriate right now, I’m fine with that. I wasn’t taking up any space anyway. Just in the natural order of things, without a national reckoning happening, I should probably have already been consigned to the dust heap so the young can claim the age old rites as their personal inventions. The poem that I am posting below was published in 2015 on a website that was defunct by 2017 or so. Sometimes the defunct web journals stay on the web, like ghost ships. This one disappeared like a stone in a well. What started me on this post, was musing over whether it would have been better to have been published in an equally obscure print journal just for the souvenir of the printed journal on my shelf. Then as you can see some unprocessed stuff came bubbling up. Of course, I am grateful to have been in the journal and that the editors and readers of Here/There Poety read and liked the poem enough to choose it. The least bit of attention can feel like water when you are walking in the poetic dessert. I just misspelled desert on purpose. See how awful it is when one seeks approval. The poem is definitely an artifact from before times. I can tell because it is about riding the subway, something that I haven’t done for a little over three months.

“For Smith and Ninth…”
(A service announcement on the F-line, heard approximately from 2010-2012)

Some conductors swing it,
Flattening the vowels on the heavy beat
And snapping short the consonants.
Some of them mumble
Like it’s too much to give
Their voices to all these strangers. 
The one today has got no rhythm,
Syllables held too long and given up too easily.
None of the notes hitting lucky,
Each remaining off-key in a key-less song.
In the absence of art, I think I know him.
I hear his too earnest song to women,
His stubbornness in singing it,
Until one, to his amazement,
Puts her hand on his shoulder 
And corrects with silence.
Maybe a woman like the one standing above me.
She wants to join with summer
By being alluring. 
I see her in front of morning’s mirror
Evaluating herself, using her hand to smooth
The tremors of doubt in the flat field
Between her hips. 
This is all I know
Of these strangers in a train full of strangers.
It is almost more than I can bear.

More than usual…

More than usual, I don’t know what the next thing will be. Today, I had beers with friends behind my apartment building. We sat in chairs a little more than six feet apart. It was the first time that I had spent time with anyone other than my family in over two months. I enjoyed it but the first moments were frightening. Here’s a story from before times:

https://louisville.edu/miraclemonocle/issue-14/jason-primm

Two Poems from Last Year

Here are two poems. One is a poem about disliking poetry. I think every poet must write those poems, sooner or later. It’s true on the odd days of the week I guess. And on the first day of a month. And when the joints of my body ache. Or when some stupidity plays out in front of me on the subway. And when it’s not true, I don’t spend my time talking about it.

Dodge-ball in Breakwater Review

This other poem is about trains and poetry and a junkyard.

Endings in Atticus Review

 

 

 

 

I am not my characters!!!!

I’m going to tattoo this on my backside. Or maybe I’ll have a character tattoo this on their backside. Spring is changing the world again. Bees are running amok and those attention hogs, flowers, are waving in the breeze saying look at me, look at me. Oh, and I have two stories out this season, one on-line and one print journal.

Click the link below for a story, Teeth, in Frigg Magazine. It’s got dentists and sharks and massage parlors and a giant neon shrimp.

Teeth in Frigg Magazine

Clink the link below to read, A Day at the Beach. It has margaritas and a sea monster in it.

A Day at the Beach in Zone 3

 

 

Another Quickly Jotted Coffee Shop Poem- Lark on Church Ave

9:12 am, 11-3 at Lark, Church Avenue

The time was 9:11
but I wouldn’t type that
(still) so the lyrical
universe lurched
forward a minute.
No one knows
anything unless
we tell on ourselves.
There were only a few
bagels in the basket.
From yesterday.
I ordered the cinnamon
raisin with butter.
The bagel for people
who don’t know better.
What if nothing ever
happens to me again?
In the extra room,
there’s a toddler music
thing happening,
tambourines and drums
and chanting. A riot
(You are My Sunshine My Only)
of happiness and a room full
of gleeful emperors.

Some Quickly Jotted Poems at a Few Brooklyn Coffee Shops

I’m only accepting anti-laurels now. Hardly.

 

Parade Coffee on Caton Ave, 9-30-17

 

A poet                  saying goodbye            to poetry
has to write           a poem                    and then there’s
the paperwork           Tomorrow                  thirty years
from now                when I’m gulping          the air
and the names           the simple things         floating around me
it won’t be            the neglect               reserved
for genius              My poems                  will be the chore
of the super            Parsed                    by the furnace
turned smoke           Is it defiance            To keep on
making them             say No                   Do I fail
because I want          to succeed                I should write
the smallest           Poem I can                Something
too small               to say No to              and revise it
with sharp              knife                     the oblivion
a shiny flake           of your lava              I’ve kept
all these years        a souvenir                in my sock drawer
spat up                 by the fire goddess       from Earth’s seam
syllable edge           shaved by half            and folded in two

submitted in triplicate

stamped Approved with the waxen seal of the Drunk Ambassador of Poetry

-they played the song from Portlandia.

 

 

Uptown Coffee, Seventh Ave, 10-12-17

 

Sweating in fancy clothes
from walking my kid to school
the hot coffee isn’t helping.
Tempted to pat myself dry
with the napkins. Don’t
look I’m repulsive and have
been for at least a decade.
It doesn’t matter. I’m
the only one that has to
endure this body. It looms
over no one. Nobody
has to pretend anything
to keep my feelings from
being hurt. Except for
myself in the mirror
when I shave. Squinting.
Maybe it was better at
the old place where there
wasn’t an outlet and
I felt my face until it
was smooth.

 

 

Steeplechase, Fort Hamilton Parkway 10-15

 

This is the closest
one and I’d write
here more often
but there are small
wooden signs
forbidding laptops
on all the best
tables. The other
notable feature
is that napkins
are distributed
from a roll and
cut to the exact
size you need.
I got a pecan
sticky bun and
had to go back
three times.
I started going
to coffee shops
in college.
Back then, I loved
the shop more than
the brew.
The attraction
was wasting time
with a book
in a place where
my friends might
by chance distract
me from myself.
I thought myself
a writer then
but all I did
was read.
Now I need
the coffee as much
as the shop.

– they played The Old Crow Medicine Show

 

Return to Uptown Coffee, 10-27

 

The chorus of the song
is Guilty as Charged.
Music like a dangly
ear ring, heavy
and shining.
I don’t hear enough
to know what she did.
Claimed love, squandered
love, rebuked love.
It’s just an edgy pop
song. No real cowardice
revealed. Nothing
unsettling, just that
the night is long
and everyone surrenders.

Talking Boats

After reading Robinson Jeffer’s play, Medea, in college, I had always wanted to write about Jason. As a hero, he needed a lot of help from Medea. And when he was done with his tasks, he dropped her for a pretty blonde princess and a more conventional life, being a king, raising children. The first attempt at a poem involved a washed up Jason sitting in a bar when Medea happens to walk in. This poem started in college and got some revision later, but it’s an old poem, the equivalent of that college paper that you thought was brilliant. I think I do a few things better now. I can see Medea’s point of view more. She wasn’t just the temptress I put in my poem. I’ve included that old unpublished poem below.

 

Jason at 50

Am I drunk and dreaming?
Is it you, Medea,
Come for me at last?
I could lie and tell you
the past doesn’t matter.
That I gave up my regrets
like my sword and shield.
But you know,
your legs still bewitch.
You put on the satin skirt
flaming around your hips.
You painted your eyelids
the cool green of sea.
Is it still my fault?
How many men and women
have you left that question?
Let Euripides drink donkey piss.
Anyone who has danced
in your web knows.
Have you come to tell me
you saved a son after all?
That he waits to avenge
the gray streak in your hair?
Don’t bother. I’ve lost
a brood since then.
Have you come to see
what lust can shake up
in these old bones?
Will your magic make me
a great unhappy man again?

 

*Putting an unpublished poem in a blog is like driving it to the vet to be put to sleep. It means that poem will go no further.

Some people roll their eyes at poems based on Greek myths. I like writing them. Using myth gives me enough emotional distance to be honest with myself. After one more poem on the myth from an unnamed crewman, I decided to read more about it. I read the Wikipedia entry on Jason and the Argonauts. I downloaded the Argonautica to my Nook. From that I learned that the myth was a little like an action movie. It was loaded with the stars, the heroes of the day. For example, Hercules and Orpheus were on the Argo until they found better adventures along the way. This time the crewman had a name, Hylas. He disappeared like the guys in red shirts on Star Trek. I’ve included a link below.

Poor Hylas | Jason Primm

The other important thing I learned from the further reading was that the ship talked. I imagined that when the men slept, early or late, Jason and the Argo would talk. The poem is from the point of view of the ship, years after all the glory chasing. It’s a very long poem. I am so pleased that Light/Water published it. See link below.

Light/Water

 

 

The Fly

This morning I am treating myself to a wicked mocha and a chocolate croissant from Jacque Torres. It’s summer in the city. I get a light sweat going in the mornings walking to and from the train. Then a clammy feeling when I hit the air conditioning of my job. So many boundaries being crossed, family me, alone me, read on the subway me, hot me, cold me, look at the river out the window me, sigh me before summoning a bit of discipline and getting some work done.  Recently I watched The Fly with my eleven year old daughter. The result was this poem which the good folk at pioneertown just published.

The Fly