Saturday, March 31, 2012


The new Kenneth Patchen letters book
is now available pre-order from
in hardbound and soft cover.

Here's the chapter list:

Chapter One:


Chapter Two:


Chapter Three:

BEFORE THE WAR (1935-1937)

Chapter Four:


Chapter Five:


Chapter Six:


Chapter Seven:

ONE WHO KNOWS (1942-1943)

Chapter Eight:


Chapter Nine:


Chapter Ten:


Chapter Eleven:


Chapter Twelve:

A VOICE OF FIRE (1950-1951)

Chapter Thirteen:

SAN FRANCISCO (1952-1955)

Chapter Fourteen:


Chapter Fifteen:


Chapter Sixteen:


Chapter Seventeen:


Chapter Eighteen:

ON THE SIDE OF LIFE (1967-1971)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Rejected New Yorker Comic

A while ago I sent in a few cartoons to
The New Yorker magazine as a joke.
They all had to include a snooty phrase.
This is the only one I still have.
Unfortunately, their rejection reply
got lost behind the refrigerator of
the old house we used to rent.
This one is still funny.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Speaking of Lincoln

In honor of Bernard Waber's books
this is a story from my Home Recordings
(2009, Bird Dog Publishing) originally
published in Pie in the Sky magazine #24
March 15, 1993 12:24 PM:


They decided to wait until winter to cut at

the blackberry bushes piled behind their house.

When January set in across everything, the vines

would shed their leaves and snake back to burrow,

then they could cut them and rake the ground and

turn it into a garden in Spring. It would be good

to have it gone. In August they picked ripe berries

to make their last ever jam and pies.

Early in December, snow fell, but they were

going to wait a little longer. The vines tangled

in the cold. Wearing double layers of clothes,

Elmer Ford marched up and down the hall,

ringing a bell. This was the morning they had

all been waiting for. Children came running

through doors. Outside, they fell around the

frozen vines and sliced at them with rakes

and wooden swords. Elmer even tied a rope

from the bumper of his Model T and dragged

roots out of the ground. That’s how he dislodged

the tube. It was plowed out of the earth like

a bomb, it sparkled as something golden

from Mars in the weak sunlight.

Elmer’s children were making drum noises on it

with their rakes and weapons when he got out of

the tin car and made them stop. He examined

the steel hollow tube and he found letters on it,

underneath the dirt and weeds. Already one of

his sons had discovered a silver door handle

on the side and he turned it open. The hiss

of steam threw them all backwards, they stared

as a tall man stood up. It was him, it was

Abraham Lincoln. He put on his stovepipe hat

to shade his eyes from the glare of the

twentieth century America. To get his bearings

here, in a ruin of blackberry vines fifty years

after the war, he cleared his throat and gave

the Gettysburg Address again.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Just Like Abraham Lincoln

Last night we read Just Like Abraham Lincoln
by Bernard Waber, Houghton Mifflin Co, Boston, 1964.
What a great book! What will happen when Mr. Potts
pushes his Lincoln obsession? Will he defy history
and appear at the school theater? And how about
that surprise ending?!

"I'm not saying..."

I'm not saying I know who drew this fish
and taped it to the new display case at work
but I bet it's the same person who put a
photo of Richard Nixon on the paper shredder...

(By the way, these were taken down pretty quickly.) 

Monday, March 26, 2012

The $5 Ghost

The $5 Ghost

My sister bought a ghost for five dollars.

Her friend arranged the sale and gave us

specific directions which we followed precisely.

First we wrote a welcoming letter to the ghost.

At 8 o’clock we opened the front door an inch

and placed the note beside a candle. We sat

in the hallway for a while, lit by the yellow glow.

We were tuned to the ghost frequency, listening

for the smallest sigh or voice, jumping at flickers.

I guess we were expecting a ghost to arrive with

a suitcase. I know I was. It was easy to believe

in that. But after waiting a while, my sister gave up

grabbed the letter and stormed to the phone.

Maybe we were swindled. It’s hard to tell

when you’re buying something invisible

and just because you don’t see what

you expected doesn’t mean something

didn’t happen. Who knows?

I shut the door, blew the candle out

and carried the smoke with me.

drawings by Rustle and Rosa
another chapter selection from
the autobiography I've been working on.

Jubilee Hitchhiker

I’ve been reading William Hjortsberg’s brand new
biography of Richard Brautigan, Jubilee Hitchhiker.
I’ve been looking forward to this one for a long time.
Just this morning, before I had to run off for the bus,
I learned of, “Brautigan’s high regard for the work
of Kenneth Patchen…According to Virginia [Alder,
his first wife], Patchen’s poetry ‘was one of the
first things we talked about.’ ” (p. 124)
This book is fantastic, a huge saga of
one of my favorite writers.
Up to page 236 now, still in awe
Hjortsberg's writing is like a movie
Brautigan and his story as alive as can be.
I almost missed my bus again this morning
looked at the clock in the kitchen
running through the woods and now
it's 11:49 PM and awake from sleep
I'm reading it again.
That being said (up to page 476)
there's something monstrous too
about this book, from its 'Sunset
Boulevard' beginning to the sheer size
and weight of it, holding on to it to read.
Also, reading it before going to bed,
it sits there all night like 'Donovan's Brain'
creeping into your dreams.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Son of the Fly

A man walked past a wall covered in sunlight.
He swatted at a fly that rested there.
Why should a fly get to enjoy the sunny day?
The fly didn't go far, it found a leaf
on a new spring flower. It held its wings
shining back light.
The man went into a tall building
and reappeared a minute later
trapped behind a window.

Annotated 'Son of the Fly':
This is my Drive-In movie idea
written two days ago on the first
sunny day we've had in a long time.
koan: which one is son of the fly?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

movie time

Time to watch a good movie:
Fellini's Nights of Cabiria (1957)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

1968 Fairbanks

Today I mailed off the corrected proofs
for the Kenneth Patchen Letters book to
Larry Smith of Bottom Dog Press. I told him
all night long Patchen kept appearing in my
dreams. Just before the alarm clock woke me,
he was driving me around in a blue 1968
Fairbanks (?) a car he was quite proud of.

This is Larry Smith's response:

Larry Smith responded:

"Miriam may have enlarged on the facts at times,
but she says Henry Miller really couldn't drive
a stick 1940s...or any car I guess, and
Kenneth took him out and taught him to drive,
but they were both quite concerned for Miller's life
when he took off...and ultimately wrote
The Air Conditioned Nightmare...about U.S.
He drove a 1948 Fairbanks, I think."

(You can sense the long Paul Harvey
pause before the last sentence. Of
course there is no '68 Fairbanks car,
at least not in this dimension.)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Kenneth Patchen Cover

This is the cover artwork
(from a letter Kenneth Patchen wrote)
for the Selected Correspondence book
due next month in April 2012
available from Bottom Dog Press.
333 pages.

Friday, March 16, 2012

a week of rain

The Wonderful Wednesday

That’s Thursday For You

Fly Away Friday

Saturday Submarine

Sunday Morning Radio

Monday Turned Green With Scales and Wings

Finding Sun Above Tuesday

Wednesday Again

The Wonderful Wednesday

I woke up to the little bird who lives

in the coffee can beside my bed.

After I stood in warm water

washing off good dreams

I made a breakfast from

the spaghetti we ate last night.

That’s Thursday For You

You’ve got to be very quiet

step on no twigs looking for them.

Somewhere there are sand dollars

hiding in this morning.

I myself was reading a book

and forgot to look.

Fly Away Friday

With feet of sparkling flying fish

see how they move her and hover

at puddles in the rain. It’s obvious

there’s no need to ask how she

floats on the air.

Saturday Submarine

Oh, that’s not rain

there’s a watering can

above the house.

Come outside, look

you can see the tree is

holding the handle.

Sunday Morning Radio

Featuring the chickadees

the pat of rain on leaves

and below are soft footsteps

my boots in mud

Monday Turned Green

With Scales and Wings

All night the dragon

flapped up and down

the street, perching on

a rooftop now and then

to blast out wind while

every fang toothed fir tree

snaps at the sky

Finding Sun Above Tuesday

By now we’re used to it

We live in it like goldfish

When I go to work at dawn

I use the rain as stairs

walking up them through doors

down hallways and up more stairs

and someday I’ll just keep going

Wednesday Again

A week of rain

the ground as soft as

clouds to walk upon

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Kenneth Patchen Letters Release

Since last summer, Larry Smith and I
have been working on a new collection,
Selected Correspondence of Kenneth Patchen
which will have its book release in Ohio
at the Lakewood Public Library near Cleveland
on April 26th. I'll try to be there too.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Couple Life Movies

A Couple Hundred Years Ago

Our first failed Capitalist venture occurred one summer night

when we went to the parking lot of the Shop N Save

and tried to sell bright red t-shirts with smiling devil faces.

Goat-headed, the evil one leered at the shoppers

as they pushed their carts full of groceries back to cars.

A couple hundred years ago they would have burned us

at the stake, but now they ignored us and kept us

trying to laugh, always on the edge of giving up.

Life Is a Movie Always

Waiting to Come True

Like something I would do, my friend

fell in love with the deaf girl who bagged groceries

at Shop N Save. He kept trying to tell her in words

what she couldn’t hear, and finally he decided to

write her a note. He bought some cheap cans

of chili and green beans and when she paused

to put them in paper, he passed her the letter.

Of course she was scared by what he spelled

the sudden words dropped out of the blue.

Who wouldn’t be taken aback and need time

to figure out the mystery of you?

He had to go hide under the trees

the branches tied to the ceiling in his room

pale and sad with broken heart records hurting

when you take everything to heart and believe

life is a movie always waiting to come true

These two stories appear in my
second book Bowl of Water
(Bottom Dog Press, 2004)
They feature my friend who also
stars in 'The Jellyfish Movie'
(see two posts ago)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Kenneth Patchen Letters

Kenneth Patchen in San Francisco park
We're almost ready to publish his book
of selected letters, featuring E.E. Cummings,
Henry Miller, Dylan Thomas and others.

Letter from September 3, 1936:
"We must extract the concept of the gun
and the sword from the mind-world
in which too many of us live.
The fault lies not in what we are,
but in that thing which we would become.
We must make over not the present
world of sham and hypocrisy, but ourselves;
this means time will leave us when we
leave it. And we must get away with
a fuller heart than was ever permitted us.
All art will follow the art of the living"

The Jellyfish Movie

The Jellyfish Movie

Walking along, we made up a movie, seeing it happen.
The lights faded out like sunset, the curtains parted and
onto the screen the flickering movie began. A father
and son were fishing. Their feet dangled over the edge
of the pier, the boy kicking his sneakers as the man
sunk a hook through the worm and cast it out into sea.
They talked about the baseball scores and laughed
about their neighbor’s car. Hungry gulls watched
from the circling air and something else without eyes
sensed them through the cold water. The boy tugged
his fishing line, he thought he felt a bite. Small waves
lapped around pilings and his father was telling him
about the footbinding tradition in Japan, when a
weird noise bubbled towards them from the depth.
It sounded something like a backwards foghorn
being played in an oyster shell powered by
rubber bands. A tense moment passed, then
the father laughed, ruffled his kid’s blond crewcut
and lit a cigarette. His hands trembled, cupping
the flame. Quickly, he threw the match into the sea.
“When I was your age...” the man began to say,
but suddenly the water turned into foam as a
four-story jellyfish raised itself, gurgling out
of the water and pulled them away. The water
calmed down, the seagulls landed on the dock
and ate their abandoned chicken sandwiches.
That was it, the film slipping through the projector
clacked at the end of the reel. The houselights
came back on, calypso music played on speakers
for the two people waiting for the next feature.

Annotated Jellyfish Movie:
Yes, we used to walk along in Portland, Maine
the movie theater and making up our own
big ideas like this one for a Super-8 film never made.

Jellyfish picture:
by Rustle

Friday, March 2, 2012

August 16, 1975

August 16, 1975

Our next door neighbor came to our door

with her hand wrapped in a red towel.

It was Elvis Presley’s death that sent her.

She was in grieving and tried to cheer up

with a big slice of chocolate cake.

Sadly, it was in the freezer, hard as a brick

and the knife had sliced her instead.

My father drove her to the hospital.

I didn’t know much about Elvis then.

I liked his song ‘In the Ghetto.’

Advertised as part of a record set

it appeared during commercial breaks

in my Saturday morning monster movies.

That weekend our neighbor took us

to the circus. Before we got to the big tent

she pointed her bandaged hand skyward.

High above the parking lot, a man ran

inside a cage, tiny as a white dot

with everyone on the ground watching

waiting for him to fall.

Annotated 8/16/75:

Another autobiography chapter.

The photo of Elvis is from Tucker.

He used to take pictures from TV.

There's an adventure with him

coming up next...

The Ministry of Magic

In this time of reassignments, restructuring
reallotments, 'retirements', raises for some
and the razing of the Mendery,
the Human Resources department
distributed these thick rubber bracelets
to the employees of the library.
'Empower' (note the inside is stamped
with the words 'It's up to you')
At the slightest sign of distress
or negativity, we are urged to give
a violent snap of the bracelet.
In other words, self-inflicted pain
is the official policy. It does seem odd.
But also very familiar. The first thing
I thought of was Harry Potter.