Friday, September 20, 2013

Poems + Drawings = Zine!

I'm currently working on a new zine that will feature poems and drawings.  Here are a few recent poems, with corresponding drawings.  You can pick up your very own copy of this amazing new zine at BOOKMACHINE books + zines during the next Downtown Fullerton Art Walk on October, 4th.  The zine is called "The Loggerhead and other poems."

Business Degree

I am seriously considering
going back to school
for a business degree.

Not because I want to be
a successful business man,
but because I want to understand

business, from the inside-out.
I want to see what college
business courses are like.

Sort of like how David Foster Wallace
took accounting classes
to prepare himself

for his last novel,
The Pale King, which is set
in an IRS office.

I think, by understanding business,
I might get a clearer sense
of what is wrong with America.

As a student, I will
ask questions like,
"It works, but is it humane?"

If I am asked to give
a presentation, I will not
wear a suit and tie.

I will wear jeans and
a punk t-shirt that
exposes my tattoos.

I don't even care if I
get bad grades. I don't care
about grades anymore.

I care about understanding.
I hope my professors argue with me,
or are, at least, mildly annoyed.


Hell is a Landfill

In the Bible,
hell is sometimes called gehenna,
which was a burning trash dump
outside Jerusalem.


Election Night

On the election night,
I was in a place where 
there were no news vans
or reporters or big crowds.

I was at the Rialto Cafe,
in my hometown, listening
to a young veteran talk about
why he ran for city council.

He was not well-funded.
He did not have important
political endorsements.
He was just a guy who cared.


Sunkist

It's appropriate that I'm drinking
a can of Sunkist soda as I read
an interview with an old orange
rancher from Orange County.

Sunkist was local brand.
It used to represent oranges,
but now it represents
sugary soda water.

And what do the oranges represent?
Power. Political, economic, local.
Unrecognized immigrant labor.
The Ku Klux Klan.

Patriotic parades.
Segregated housing and schools
and theaters and pools
Segregated people.

The haves and the have-nots.
First and second class citizens.
Church-goers blind to social injustice.
That is what the oranges represent to me.


I Prefer Books

I've been sick the past few days.
Being sick is boring,
because I tend to watch too much Netflix,
old X-Files episodes,
so many episodes
that I start feeling like a zombie,
like the zombie
agents Mulder and Scully
encounter in season 2.

But today I felt good enough to go to school,
and on my break between classes
I started reading a book
by my friend Dan Joyce,
and I did not feel like a zombie.

I felt alive,
my head and heart full of life,
and I wanted to go outside,
and so now I am outside,
writing.

For this reason,
I prefer books to Netflix.


Lemons into Lemonade

To be happy in life,
you have to practice
turning lemons into lemonade.

I am speaking both literally and figuratively,
because there really is nothing like
a glass of homemade lemonade.

But the metaphor
about turning misfortune into fortune
is also important, I'm learning.

When my laptop broke,
I saw it as an opportunity
to read more books.

When all the music
on my iPod vanished, I thought,
"Now I get to find new music."

When my truck broke,
and I couldn't afford to fix it,
I thought, "Now I get to exercise more."

It's easy to go through life
wondering why raindrops
keep falling on your head.

But to learn to use those raindrops,
to see the hidden blessing,
is an occupation for the saint.

In America, we try to insulate
ourselves from pain,
and this is probably normal.

But, in my life, the most important
things have happened
when the insulation failed,

when I came into
direct contact
with life's bitter heart.

If I had not had a major
clinical depression
during my second year of college,

I may have never discovered
the importance of art.
Lemons into lemonade.

And if the art gallery I helped found
had not been a continuous
worrisome financial failure,

I might have gone along
thinking its purpose
was to make me money.

I don't think it's a coincidence
that out of the greatest tragedy
of American history,

human slavery and racism,
arose the only truly American
artforms: the blues and jazz.

I'm not saying the oppression
and suffering were justified.
Such things are never justified.

But the ability to transform
that suffering into beauty
was an occupation for

Charlie Patton and Son House
and Robert Johnson and Miles Davis
And Charlie Parker and John Coltrane.

Out of his Siberian exile,
Fyodor Doysoyevsky gave the world
The Brothers Karamazov.

Same thing with Dante and the Divine Comedy,
Milton and Paradise Lost,
Picasso and Guernica.

The ability to crush
the bitterness of tragedy
into sweet song

Is an occupation for the artist
and the saint, who are
sometimes one and the same.

I'm not saying, "Seek to suffer."
I'm saying, "Follow your heart
with fearlessness and tenacity."

If you do that, in this world,
you will probably suffer.
But what will you do next?


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