Thursday, April 30, 2015

Poem In Your Pocket Day 2015

Every April during National Poetry Month, one day is set aside for Poem In Your Pocket Day, a day when people take a favorite poem with them through their day to share with the world. This year, the event is today, April 30th, 2015.

And today, I will be sharing the lovely, bittersweet poem "Before" by Ada Limón. It captures a feeling that anyone who has lived will understand...


No shoes and a glossy
red helmet, I rode
on the back of my dad’s
Harley at seven years old.
Before the divorce.
Before the new apartment.
Before the new marriage.
Before the apple tree.
Before the ceramics in the garbage.
Before the dog’s chain.
Before the koi were all eaten
by the crane. Before the road
between us, there was the road
beneath us, and I was just
big enough not to let go:
Henno Road, creek just below,
rough wind, chicken legs,
and I never knew survival
was like that. If you live,
you look back and beg
for it again, the hazardous
bliss before you know
what you would miss.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

"This Is The Thing"

In honor of National Poetry Month, I am posting new work by myself every Wednesday (previously here, here, and here).
Here is "This Is The Thing."

This Is The Thing

The planets wobble while spinning on their axes and
travel a drunken orbit in a little leaping dance,
laughing at us, mocking.
Some are orbiting further and further away—
we can’t even say that they will always be here.
Worlds turn on imperfection in this tour of broken stars:
our star erases everything.
There is no new, no clean, just different states of
The true song of the universe must be the sound of
molecules collapsing.
Meanwhile, the soup is getting cold…

© JEF 2006-2015

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Public Service Broadcasting: "Go!" and "Gagarin"

Recently released: "The Race for Space," a new collection of Space Age inspired tunes by Public Service Broadcasting.

From their website:
PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING is the corduroy-clad brainchild of London-based J. Willgoose, Esq. who, along with drumming companion Wrigglesworth, is on a quest to inform, educate and entertain audiences around the globe.

PSB's uniquely spell-binding live AV transmissions see them weave samples from old public information films, archive footage and propaganda material around live drums, guitar, banjo and electronics as they teach the lessons of the past through the music of the future - beaming our past back at us through vintage TV sets and state of the art modern video projection devices.

Here are two fun songs from the collection, "Go!" which celebrates one of humankind's finest hours, and "Gagarin" which celebrates the first man in outer space, Yuri Gagarin.

Monday, April 27, 2015

"Why I Am Not Coming In To Work Today" by Jess Zimmerman

In honor of National Poetry Month, here is "Why I Am Not Coming In To Work Today" by Jess Zimmerman:

Dear employers,

I will have to take the day off today because:

☐ It’s December and the streets are papier-mached with wet bronze leaves and it’s so dark outside that the cars have their headlights on at 3pm

☐ I have recently been through a breakup, or I have been through a breakup at any time in my life really, and I woke up today with the absolute conviction that I will never be loved again

☐ A dog looked at me

☐ I got a text from someone for whom I feel a mix of concern and frustration and recognition and longing that is both more and less than romance

☐ Someone made a joke about dead pets meeting you in heaven

☐ Daylight savings time

☐ I passed a knot of flowers that were so bright they glowed through the dim grey water of the day and when was anything in my life last that luminous?

☐ Girls are too pretty

☐ For the first time I genuinely comprehend that there is not enough time to have all the lives I wanted

☐ I accidentally listened to Leonard Cohen

I am submitting the following documentation:

☐ A scrap of an old lover’s favorite flannel shirt

☐ Trembling cupped hands full of rainwater

☐ Light angling over the face of a brownstone at 4 on a winter afternoon

☐ A blunt-edged ticket stub from a movie of which I remember nothing except how soft her hands were

☐ A crumbling copy of my favorite novel from childhood

☐ The universe

☐ The peachy glow of a sodium lamp far ahead down an icy pitch-dark path

I think I just need to:

☐ Stare at a cup of tea held in nerveless fingers and slowly leaching heat

☐ Watch the sun glow ruby through the dogwood leaves until I regain some capacity to be comforted by beauty

☐ Read old emails from someone who loved me because he knew nothing

☐ Move to Omaha without telling anyone and find work as a sympathetic bartender named Roxy

☐ Learn to live alongside the fundamental meaningless of existence, not just mine but everyone’s

☐ Get a drastic haircut

☐ Listen to Tegan and Sara’s “Heartthrob” on repeat for 24 hours

☐ Scream into a pillow until my throat feels like it’s going to split

I will be back to work once:

☐ I can get out of this empty bathtub

☐ It is spring

☐ Someone gorgeous has brought me warm milk

☐ The consequences of being terribly drunk start to seem more grim than the consequences of not being terribly drunk

☐ I have watched every episode of Key & Peele



Sunday, April 26, 2015

"Animation" by Young Juvenile Youth

Singer/songwriter Yuki and producer Jamapur are Young Juvenile Youth, a Japanese music group.
This is a new song "Animation" which will be released on iTunes later this month, the 27th of April, 2015.
The camera swings like a pendulum, hypnotizing...the song slowly pulses...and Yuki's softly urgent voice murmurs...

"Umi" by Pinkshinyultrablast

A little Dream Pop ditty for you today: "Umi" by Pinkshinyultrablast.
Of their music, they say: "Happy songs for happy zombies."

Saturday, April 25, 2015

"StylO' The Times" Prince vs. Gorillaz by DJ Zebra

This mash up highlights one of the best songs Prince ever wrote or recorded. And yes, I am a Prince fan.

Fresh & Noble feature this track by DJ Zebra who hybridized the melody and words of "Sign O' The Times" with the rhythm and bass line section of "Stylo" by Gorillaz.

When Prince released this song in 1987 on his opus double album of the same name, it gave fans and non-fans alike a reason to pause. It was darker, heavier, and more relevant that anything he had previously created. The sparse instrumentation of the original song signaled its seriousness, and the addition here of the fragment from "Stylo" does not betray that. The particulars may have changed but the songs lyrics (viral pandemics, gang violence, natural disasters, poverty, drug abuse, and impending war) and sentiment are as relevant now as they were nearly thirty years ago. The most heartbreaking section of the song though is the last verse. The idea of a small family against the tide of disasters and ills just recited is the point of the entire piece.

Oh yeah!

In France a skinny man died of a big disease with a little name
By chance his girlfriend came across a needle and soon she did the same
At home there are seventeen-year-old boys and their idea of fun
Is being in a gang called The Disciples
High on crack, totin' a machine gun

Time, times

Hurricane Annie ripped the ceiling of a church and killed everyone inside
U turn on the telly and every other story is tellin' U somebody died
Sister killed her baby cuz she couldn't afford 2 feed it and we're sending people 2 the moon
In September my cousin tried reefer 4 the very first time
Now he's doing horse: it's June

Times, times

It's silly, no?
When a rocket ship explodes and everybody still wants 2 fly
Some say a man ain't happy unless a man truly dies
Oh why?

Time, time

Baby make a speech, Star Wars fly
Neighbors just shine it on
But if a night falls and a bomb falls
Will anybody see the dawn?

Time, times

It's silly, no?
When a rocket blows and everybody still wants 2 fly
Some say a man ain't happy, truly until a man truly dies
Oh why, oh why, Sign O the Times

Time, time

Sign O' the Times mess with your mind
Hurry before it's 2 late
Let's fall in love, get married, have a baby
We'll call him Nate... if it's a boy

Time, time
Time, time

And for reference, here is the original by The Master:

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Poetry of Rock n' Roll: "Moving"

To observe National Poetry Month, I have been featuring lyrics of rock n' roll or pop songs that also double as exquisite poetry (previously here, here, and here) and this is the last installation for 2015.

I saw singer-songwriter-illustrator-writer Jeffrey Lewis open up for a performance by Scritti Politti in 2006 (an odd pairing to be sure) and he sang this sweet little song which certainly doubles as poetry. The empty apartment stands in for thoughts of impermanence, death, and what is precious to us in this world. The essence of this song is so bittersweet and vital, touching on time, change, and the inevitability of loss and things we can't ever get back, all told through a simple tale of moving day... just breathtakingly lovely.

by Jeffrey Lewis

It went well, you didn't have to do it all by yourself.
Some friends came over and helped,
a hand truck, a friend with a van,
and you're moving out again.
Remembering when you first came,
it's crazy these streets are the same,
they looked different when they were strange.
And it is always weird to erase
every personal trace
from a place you called home for a while
and see all that you own in a pile.
A place that turned into a friend,
to return it to how it had been,
to become friends with whoever moves in.

And you stick around after all the boxes are down.
The fridge is empty--just one ice tray,
and you've swept and mopped more today
than the entire time that you stayed.
It's a shame you now gotta leave,
the place is actually nice when it's clean.
It wasn't hard mopping the floor,
why didn't you ever do that before?
Now the van is there on the corner,
and you've done everything that you're gonna.
There's some pennies and dust on that shelf,
but the landlord can clean it herself.
You're not sure, but you're gonna claim
the blinds were busted like that when you came.

Man, it's so existential in that room,
it's existential with that broom.
'Cause the room looks the same
except there's no life left,
and you start thinking about death.
When you die, will it be the same?
No more thoughts decorating your brain?
An empty space for the world to reclaim?
You're on the verge of thinking something deep,
and then you hear the van give a beep,
and then you take one last look around to make sure,
then you go one last time out the door,
and you'll never again see the angle
of the street you saw from that window.
You take the key out of your pocket,
you close the front door and you lock it,
drop the key back through the slot,
sure hope there's nothing you forgot.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

"120 Years of Cinema" by Joris Faucon Grimaud

This incredibly moving 7 minute survey of cinema is dazzling, from George Méliès' "A Trip To The Moon" in 1902 to Christopher Nolan's trip across space-time in 2014's "Interstellar." Hollywood as an industry can be ugly and self-obsessed but I still believe in The Story, and this shows the sheer stirring power of Cinema.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Happy Earth Day 2015

Image taken by the GOES 14 (GOES O) weather satellite on May 22nd, 2013.

"Answers To Unasked Questions"

In honor or National Poetry Month, I am posting new work by myself every Wednesday (previously here and here).
Here is "Answers To Unasked Questions."

Answers To Unasked Questions

No, you won’t, none of you, but it won’t matter.
You’ll understand after it happens.
You will be like man primeval, mute,
finding language.

Because of the black tide in their hearts,
sons and daughters of an ancient rage,
they will try. It will be the
worst one in history—and because of that,
it will be the last. Those who survive
will make sure.

Yes, you can, but you’ll have to
isolate dark matter first.
Think of this as a recipe and
here are the ingredients:
Collapse four neutron stars.
Flood them with gamma and helium flashes.
Spin: change the speed.
Just not yet.

And to the final question you
keep like a sparrow in a shoe box
buried in the backyard of your heart:
Of course, why wouldn’t it be?

© JEF 2015

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

BEAUTY: Painting--Jordan Buschur

Jordan Buschur paints stacks of books as if he were the love child of Francis Bacon and Wayne Thiebaud! There is a nice geometry and safety with books (they hold and safeguard information), but here they seem haphazard and lumped together. A nice juxtaposition...

Top to bottom: An Outline; Complete Guides; How To Be; No Thank You; Options Open; Possible Potentials; Step One; Weight

Monday, April 20, 2015

In old Savannah...

I just returned from a wonderful visit to Savannah, Georgia, city of lush squares and parks, monuments, moss, and shrimp and grits. Although I have been to Georgia many times, it was my first trip to Savannah and it was a wonderful surprise to see a modern, vital city with its roster of international students attending Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), and its hipsters and Bohemian hippies spearheading a wonderful organic and sustainable food and lifestyle movement. But the Southern roots are visible in every inch of the city where each square boasts grand mansions and enough Colonial history to make even Boston jealous.

I'd like to thank, as always, my dear friend, the beautiful and generous Sherry Page for not only putting together another outstanding Culinary Getaway but for sharing her home state and her childhood memories with us. I also want to thank the culinary legacy and spirit of Mrs. Wilkes; The Savannah Bee Company for a delightful and eye-opening mead tasting; the staff at Alligator Soul for a delicious meal (which did actually include alligator!); James Beard Featured Chef Peter Russo of 700 Kitchen Cooking School at the Mansion on Forsyth Park for his kindness, enthusiasm, and expert knowledge; Brian Torres of FORM for an exquisite five course meal with pitch-perfect wine pairings...and the best cheesecake I have had in my entire life; the staff at Clary's Cafe for their hospitality and a delicious Southern-style breakfast; the historic Gryphon Tea Room; Sherry's sister Lea Ann for making the hour and a half trek (!) to bring us barbecue from Ware's Bar-B-Q in Swainsboro (they were the best ribs I have ever had, and the Brunswick Stew was a new dish to me!); and the charming Greg Butch, co-owner of Elizabeth on 37th for taking such good care of us.

It was all a lovely experience. Thank you so much!

Seen In Savannah

"Rather the dew on the window of" by Robert Montgomery

In honor of National Poetry Month, here is "Rather the dew on the window of" by Robert Montgomery:

Rather the dew on the window of
the castle than the castle itself
Rather the flight of the bird
Rather burned than captured

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Poetry of Rock n' Roll: "Breaking Glass"

To observe National Poetry Month, I have been featuring lyrics of rock n' roll or pop songs that also double as exquisite poetry (previously here and here).

Here is David Bowie's fantastic, brief, enigmatic tale "Breaking Glass" from his 1977 album "Low," part of his Berlin Trilogy.

"Breaking Glass"
by David Bowie

Lately, I've been
breaking glass
in your room again.

Don't look at the carpet:
I drew something awful on it.

You're such a wonderful person.
But you got problems.
I'll never touch you.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

"California Highway Conditions Report"

In honor of National Poetry Month, I am posting new work by myself every Wednesday (previously here).
Here is "California Highway Conditions Report."

California Highway Conditions Report

Motorists are advised that the following conditions may be encountered:

A black ice advisory is in effect. Use caution when taking curves in this windy mountainous area as vehicles may hit patches of black ice, fishtail, spin, and ram head first into a muddy hillside, snapping the front grate yet somehow, miraculously, leaving intact the front bumper, headlights, tires, and hood. Unusually kind teenaged boys in blue suits who witness this and stop to offer assistance are available.

Southbound 1 mile before the 680 junction: Traffic is subject to smoke under the hood and stalling engines leading to the discovery of fires caused by faulty heat shields which may engulf entire front halves of vehicles. Drivers may be notified of a recall relating to defective heat shields via US MAIL up to six months after their vehicles have been destroyed, effectively narrowing down any chance of legal action against the automobile manufacturer.

Southbound at the Devil’s Slide area between 5937 and 5975 California Coastal Trail: Vehicles with drivers suffering from depression are prohibited as they may entertain suicidal thoughts of driving off the cliff road and plunging into the Pacific Ocean far below.

Southbound 1 mile before Larkspur Drive exit #41: Motorists are advised to expect phone calls from their mothers asking for understanding of and support in the decision to stop their chemotherapy and radiation for brain tumors. Drivers are advised to take the Larkspur Drive exit and pull to the shoulder to receive this news.

Northbound approach to the Golden Gate Bridge: Traffic is subject to views of post-earthquake fires destroying the Marina District of San Francisco. Drivers are urged to use caution not to become frozen with fear by the unholy orange glow against the lightless black city.

Southbound at Stage Road 1 mile north of San Gregorio State Beach: Night time conditions in winter may include a breathtaking view of a silvery-white valley to the left, bathed in full moonlight, still, hills sparkling with frost.

© JEF 2015

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

BEAUTY: Man--Luca Sguazzini

I have been a fan of the beard for a while now but my first love was with long hair. And for the love of all that's hirsute, model Luca Sguazzini has both in glorious abundance...*sigh*