Saucy. What is the Value of Poetry? Blake, and Komunyakaa. I like Rotel.


Still Life: Dinner Decisions.

(If anyone ever wants to talk hot sauce, let’s do. I rank hot sauce up there with iced beer, reading a river eddy/swirl, making out at 3 am [probably in a car, parked illegally on a blue-lit acetylene street], the pleading shape of a perfectly thrown disc golf disc. Etc.)

(Does anyone know the best hot sauce festivals? Aren’t they usually in Texas? I am a-feared of Texas, but could visit briefly, skip in like a dragonfly, nibble and pause to warm the wings, then lift away.

I’d like to visit a hot festival festival. Before I die, preferably.


I am teaching a multi-genre graduate class. So now we’re nearing the dark side, the cold moon of shivers and empty beaches, the electrochemical switches, the fever, the bleeding wings–poetry.

So, immediately: what is its worth?

(Is this actual question a symptom of something? Maybe. And I hold a bit of it myself, in my ventricles, so a very fair inquiry. But is it a sign, something involving consuming, throwing away [repeat until death] everything, skating above anything actual, anything real, this bright, bright layer, a way to just push aside every/any thing of substance?

A code, a mantra, dare I say? A code. A programmation?)

I just made up a word. So what, jabberwocky?

We do things without any questioning, but poetry won’t allow that. No sir.

Poetry makes us sit a moment. Watch. Chill. Observe.

Makes me wonder what the worth of a sunrise is, or the gurgle of river over quicksilver stone? The moss on the backside, slippery, shimmering like an voice, quivering, opening shadow.

Worth of nacho.

Worth of playful and musical language.

Of its place as flourishing WAY before prose, before creative nonfiction, as the basis of every allusion: Shakespeare, bible, Greek mythology, Homer–poetry.

How does cave painting deal with preserved shark? Shark sold for 12 million dollars, so there….

Of the day you first wrecked a car, that slow-motion, teenage blur. Remember who was in the passenger seat? I bet you do.

Of T.S. Eliot: Poetry is not the assertion that something is true, but the making of that truth more fully real to us.

Of day I threw egg. Or my shoelaces caught in bike pedals, the tumble.


Almost everyone I encounter is amused that I write or read poetry, and I am frequently challenged to defend the purpose and function of poetry and literature in a disposable society so dedicated to consumerism and earning potential. Even my best friend since I was six years old frequently asks me what good is learning Shakespeare or Keats. “After all,” so he says, “look at me, I’m doing just fine and I’ve never read either.” This issue features a poem by Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy. While I selected the poem because of its quality, I wonder how many readers will be surprised that Spock writes poetry? And if they are surprised, why? What should a poet look like? It amazes me too how every other person I meet is either part Cherokee Indian or a closet poet. Hell, even my banker told me just yesterday, in a hushed and secretive voice, that she has a folder full of poems she’s written. And yet mainstream America seems to ridicule poets in movies and television. This just doesn’t make sense. If people would come out of the closet about their love for poetry, we’d likely learn that it’s one of the most common activities in America right up there beside owning a dog or cat.

(John Smelcer)

Worth of shelling beans while talking to my grandmother about tornadoes (I’ve yet to get paid for this true pleasure–weird.)

Of watching a mocking bird pluck a grasshopper from the air.

Of angles, light on skin, panties, triangles, white cotton…

Poetry is physical. It enlists the participation of the senses, beginning with the sense of hearing, of vibration, and its pace derives from and attends the body’s motions. I believe that poetry, which in the end may come to include the other uses I have named, begins as language does with the urge to give voice to the unsayable in our lives and in life itself.

(Robert Hass)

Of cross-eyed hipster.

Of suitcases leaping the tornado (and bedpost)

Of who do you text back, call back, ignore?

Of Yusef Komunyakaa, total badass:

Lately, I feel like I have been cornered by Robert Hayden’s infamous Devil’s Advocate, the Inquisitor, a shadow figure in the poet’s psyche who keeps one edgy and true to each word in his or her personal canon. Maybe this is the same force that prompts us to pick up the pen in the first place: A discourse which leads to discovery. Here, at this moment in our history, as we prepare for millennium parties around the world-big on commerce and short on celebration-perhaps what Plato feared has happened in modern America: The poet has become the philosopher, the composer and caretaker of the most fundamental and urgent questions voiced to the agency of human existence. And, in this sense, it seems that the poet is responsible for questioning and gauging every facet of our system.

Of Baileys and coffee with mom, who never drank. Before cancer. Now she drinks. I drink with her. And we talk, real things.

Of this:

Now Blake thought that this creative power should be kept alive in all people. And so do I. Why? Because it is life itself. It is the spirit. In fact it is the only important thing about us. The rest of us is legs and stomach, materialistic cravings and fears.

How could we keep it alive? By using it, by letting it out. By giving some time to it. But if we are women we think it more important to wipe noses and carry doilies than to write or to play the piano. And men spend their lives adding and subtracting and dictating letters when they secretly long to write sonnets and play the violin and burst into tears at the sunset. They do not know as Blake did, that this is a fearful sin against themselves. They would be much greater now, more full of light and power, if they had really written the sonnets and played the fiddle and wept over the sunset, as they wanted to”

Whatever…Whatever all of it. This question. This question.

Here’s a story: Saint Francis enjoying the night air one evening in the village of Assisi. When the moon came up, it was huge and luminous, bathing the entire earth in its radiance. Noticing that no one else was outside to enjoy this miracle, Francis ran to the bell tower and began ringing it enthusiastically. When the people rushed from their houses in alarm and saw Francis at the top of the tower, they called up to ask of him an explanation. Francis simply replied, “Lift up your eyes, my friends, look at the moon.”

Done, as for poetry (for now, me).


The new Keyhole Magazine is HAND WRITTEN. I believe this qualifies as bad-ass.

Blake Butler is there. I was wondering when Blake was going to publish something.


I feel like this today:


9 responses to “Saucy. What is the Value of Poetry? Blake, and Komunyakaa. I like Rotel.


    Try their sauces

    The Jolly Roger is a killer, and the Canceaux Sauce is great on shrimp if you like it hot.

  2. Doc Holiday’s Feel-Good Elixir is one of my favorite hot sauces. I bring it with me every time I visit Creole Kid.

    There is also a sauce called Howl at the Moon, or Howling Wolf, or something like that. I’ll get back to you. Both are supremely delicious.

    I read this and the last entry and enjoyed. Hope you don’t mind.


  3. Love that keyhole cover.

  4. I started wanting to talk about one thing, then moved through various phases:
    1. That shirarcho(sic) hot sauce, the asian shit….my favorite. I used to dowse fried spring rolls in that stuff until my mouth cried. and then I would lay in pain for hours afterwards. (i miss Memphis’s Vietnamese’s cuisine)
    2. I have been reading Gary Snyder poetry. I find I can’t just sit and read it. But if I take a ride on my bike, and stop somewhere, I can read a poem, and just stare at the lake’s and think about shit.
    3. Ha, what the hell do you feel like a guy shoveling hay? thats hilarious

  5. PS: It’s called “Howling Hot Sauce” and it is available at Smokey Bones in Greenwood and Ft. Wayne.

  6. the only immutable truth is sriracha.
    it makes me feel like i’ve just smoked 3 filterless cigarettes.
    there was a point last year, where my daily caloric intake was like…2/5 sriracha. the other 3/5 being white bread.
    none of this is useful to you but…hot damn is that shit delicious!


    Good stuff from PR. How bout cholula? The sriracha is good too, but a bit thick if sometimes you want it drippier. Texture counts – I like to vary it.

    I loved that hot sauce pic. You’ve got some great ones. Franks, too, I saw in another pic of yours. I like that. Classic.

    Poetry is -great. But some people find it intimidating. I wish they didn’t. Poets are a bit to blame for that. A bit- I really mean a bit. Generally, people are feareful. Humans and their flaws…

  8. okay, look. poetry isnt just something everyone does for the heck of it, its someway people get all their memories and secrets on a page in a form that sounds, well, beautiful. and thats what poetry is. silly, funny, amazing, and beautiful. here is one i wrote on my note pad in my cell, but its short….empty pangs of silence
    hang around me without tone
    but its only when im with so many
    i feel the most alone

    in the silence i am a dreamer
    in the dark i am enclosed
    in crowds i feel like nothing
    but when im with you, im a rose

    see? poetry isnt something you can grasp practically. at all. you have to look at it with a free mind. lik an art. wel heres something else i wrote, for the time being, to show u all what i mean

    blue eyes
    frozen glance
    deep regret
    at one lost chance

    small tears
    shining glass
    like crystal balls
    behind this mask

    down small cheeks
    burning red
    never smiling
    almost dead

    from this heart
    hardened stone
    always shrinking
    left alone

    with my small love
    ever true
    in a box
    not for you

    wel, thats all i gota say, so please think about it….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s