Tag Archives: Peter Davis

a treadmill balloon and Andy Devine and other meaningful objects

The National Book Critics Circle announced the finalists for their 2011 awards. My man Ander Monson rocks it with Vanishing Point.

Woot! Woot!

*

Readings can be dark or light. Cavern or cascade of whitewater. Tight walls. Drippy walls. Angles or smoosh. Smells of linseed oil, smells of urine. Cleavage or ankle bones. Skinny eyeglasses, striped hipster caps. Three minutes. Hair like an encasing dress. Mostly young. Much more older. Really long hair. Walls. Buzz cuts and beards. Bright. Aphotic.

Once at a reading I felt a fat fist in my throat. Like a toad.

Once I washed ashore wet as a clam’s ass.

Once I felt primary, sovereign, but it might have been the dank porter.

But I digress…

Andy Devine is reading in a bright art gallery.Wait, this photo isn’t bright. Let me rip one from Vouched. Ok, here we go:

As usual Andy insulted the audience and the other readers and insinuated we–Matt Bell, Aaron Burch, myself–were simply warming up for Andy’s majesty. Andy said his book was better than moving water, or watching the French Open while having sex, etc. He cackled several times, not a laugh, a cackle. I had an urge to punch Andy Devine. I curled my fingers into a health farm of a fist. I thought, “I will go rustic on your forehead!” This is the same man who recently bragged:

Also, once a year, for a few days, the city of Kingman celebrates Andy Devine Days and Andy Devine Avenue in Flagstaff is named after me.

Then Andy read. His words were like the sun asking the moon out on a date to the symphony and with a handful of Lorcet and golden half-light honey mead and later the sun and the moon make out in a tricked-out car in an alleyway made of circus. Andy put all of us in our place. We were warming up for Andy Devine. I felt waves of nausea. My writing life was a tragic joke, a wet napkin of nothingness, a fraud. In an odd way, I had to thank Andy Devine. He silenced me. I went home and deleted over 400 drafts of various flash fictions. I held a wet towel to the back of my sweating neck. I then opened a Word document and started anew. I wrote the word the. I slept for two days. I drove back out to Indianapolis to watch Aaron Burch eat nachos.

Now that is a happy man. Why? Nachos. I keep trying to tell you folks…

*

Parker Tettleton with a mesmerizing flash over at elimae.

*

The lift activator on my treadmill exploded. This is the second time. Fuck. Me. The first time mechanical dude wanted $110 to fix the lift activator. I paid him, sure, I had to–I needed hill training; I was about to run the Boston Marathon. But I watched him and took mental notes. So this time I replaced the lift activator all by myself. I had this surge of Wow I can fix things. It felt good.I felt less guilty about the generational putrescence of any actual skill. Like my grandfather could build a car out of an ear of corn and some baling wire. My dad could flip the stop lamp switch bracket and pour diet Pepsi into the radiator to cool it down. Me? I pay someone $35 to change my oil. But I did fix the treadmill. I repaired the treadmill. The treadmill, ready for the running, sir. Yes, yes, yes. I then ran MIXED INTERVALS like a fucking roller coaster goat.

Ive started to like the words “Mixed Intervals,” not sure why. Mixed intervals. Mixed. Intervals.

I went all:

6:00 mile pace X 3 minutes/6:00 mile pace X 3 minutes/5:56 mile pace X 3 minutes/5:56 mile pace mile X 3 minutes/Ran a 5:52 mile/5:49 mile pace X 3 minutes/5:49 mile pace X 3 minutes/5:45 mile pace X 3 minutes/5:45 mile pace X 7 minutes.

The last part was tough. I was grinding. I had to turn The Smiths on, and I rarely run to music. Since The Smiths are the only music I like, I had to go to them for extra verve, for a little thrusty-jump!

CROOOOONNNNEEERRRRRRRR…

It worked.

Can I just say I am tiring of everything breaking? My treadmill. Then this middle light of three lights in my dining room. It keeps going dark, like every other day. And I lost an earring last Tuesday. It just fell off my ear I guess. And then my .50 caliber muzzle-loader was recalled.

Knight Rifles has received a small number of reports from the field of Revolution muzzleloading rifles accidentally discharging as the user closed the action.

Exsqueeze me? You mean my rifle might just fire? That’s slightly deadly, sir. That’s slightly fatal, young lady. Whoops, I just fired off a .50 caliber weapon. Well, look at thar! Dern. So I have to send the rifle action away for repair. They are supposed to send me a box and pay for the mailing and whatever. We’ll see.

So I tire of this, all this breakage and loss. Everyone knows why. The tendency to degrade. The universal force. Entropy. As in: WE ARE ALL FALLING APART. I feel it as every day passes, it, shimmering in the air, and so do you. Fucking physics. What can you do?

I don’t know.

*

Peter Davis is reading in a dark bar. Peter read funny poems about Tina. I heard a girl next to me say, “Wait until Jared reads. Jared is loud.” Jared Sexton read. He was LOUD. He read a fabulous story about a man with a girlfriend and the girlfriend keeps mouthing off drunk in public and so the man has to get into various fistfights. He loves his girlfriend sober but is maybe frightened of what will happen when she drinks. It’s an interesting situation. Other readers on this evening were melancholy. In fact, I distinctly heard two melancholy sonnets. One reader I couldn’t hear too well. I think he said something about a monkey. Could have been money. Could have been Vivi, like a poem about a girl named Vivi? I don’t know:  the sound waves got caught in the mushy walls. Or maybe fell into the square pit of the bartender’s boxing ring. I noticed the bartender was overwhelmed and pouring very heavy drinks. She might have been an inexperienced bartender. The drinks were heavy. I drank a vodka and tonic. And then a tonic and vodka. They are not the same.

*

MEANINGFUL OBJECTS

Flash needs meaningful objects. What? Exactly. The cut-glass tumbler. The bowl. The red shoe. The big gob of phlegm. The blackberry. Creamy tops of glowing lantern in the night. The river rock. The paring knife. The cat. The canoe. The nipple. The paper plate. The solitary bean. The Turbo Dogs. The mockingbird.

They must connote, as in echo off the page. They exist to argue for their existence. You have to give the reader an opportunity.

Little Things by Raymond Carver. A domestic fight. Move to the kitchen (for all the obvious reasons–one of the finest places to have a fictional fight is in the kitchen). And:

Let go of him, he said.

Get away, get away! she cried.

The baby was red-faced and screaming. In the scuffle they knocked down a flowerpot that hung behind the stove.

What of that flowerpot? Doesn’t matter. You gave us an object. Now our minds will grapple for reverberations.

–flowers as already metaphorical. We don’t need pointy PhD hats for that. Flowers are not given/received due to  a sudden spike of interest in botany right around birthdays, first dates, and Valentine’s day.

–I just like the crash of the pot on the floor.

–He gave her that flower, man!

–Their love once grew like a flower and now it’s…

groannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

–Yeh, I’m with her, me too, and the dirt all bird-footed out, the way we can’t put it all back together.

–I don’t get how you hang a flowerpot. That’s some phony shit.

–I need to go to the bathroom.

–I think the pot is supposed to point us back to a better time for this couple. I mean it’s in the kitchen and its clearly not utilitarian. It’s not a spatula. It’s a flower.

–The pot is a manifestation of—

OK, OK, let’s move on. You’re all wrong and all right. Carver gave us a chance, is what I’m saying. We are all gods of our stories. Didn’t have to be a flowerpot. You could all place something else behind that stove. But give us a chance, folks. Give us an object.

Kathy Fish is one of my favorite flash fiction writers. Often she will use objects as a way to characterize. Watch now. You could form someone wary, yet open to experience, hard, but with an underlying sentimentality, a person who—

Or you could just dump out their backpack:

I empty my backpack onto my bunk: euros and condoms, a photo of my dog, digestive biscuits, a can of mace, and a bottle of spring water with a picture of a cow on it.

Objects, objects, objects. Sometimes they make me happy as a little stove.

Check out the opening of this recent flash (Go read it all–it is glow) by Mike Meginnis, over at JMWW:

This body can’t stop throwing up. Cheeto dust and Gatorade. Power bars. Granola. Macaroni. Cheddar. Grains of rice. Frito Lays. Taco Bell. Refried beans. Paper bag. Bendy straw. Fishing line. Dog food. Dog sick. Dog fur. Powerade. Lettuce leaves. Carrot peel. Orange peel. Jelly Belly jellybeans. Gummi worms. Taffy. Chewing gum. Fingernails. Cocacola. Cocacola. Cocacola.

In the toilet, on its rim, on the floor, in the grout. Pooling in this body’s shaking hands.

See? Things, people, things. Let me end this little constitutional with one of my favorite flashes and uses of objects, Four Hard Facts About Water, by Damian Dressick:

After your two-year-old daughter trips and falls unseen into the neighbor’s in-ground pool while you are in their summer house trying to find steak sauce…

Steak sauce. That’s why you weren’t there when your two-year old entered the pool. Steak sauce. Could Damian Dressick make a philosophical argument concerning the oft banality of human mortality? The very absurdity of how we enter, leave, die? How grief confounds even the most…Yes, yes, he could. Or he could give us a meaningful object.

See?

*

My favorite type of writing is the smashing together of the natural world (glow) and the artificial world, the world of media vomit, neon sign, advert (blar). What a touch, what a touch by Fausto Barrionuevo over at deComp:

BARN OWL

Pigeon coops, roach motels, mouse traps,
veiled by the billboards back-bending lamps,
veering out like tree snakes.
Hushed yellows on the backs of mosquitoes
by the Barn owl, steady on the scaffold.
Her shadow flying on tropical winds
above her bold profile.
A cold breath flows from her cracked beak,
thrusting seas running like waterfalls
through her cavernous lids.
Under the painted orange sky, a slogan in the sand:
All buffets open till midnight.
Rain drops snap onto granite
as clouds, black as pavement, roll by.
A herd of deer dashes across the interstate,
antlers charging into dark forest.

J oak maple cedar pine Achilles Lo

You’re right. Yes. I know. OK. OK. Jesus.

I haven’t slogged in a while. But there are reasons.

1. work.

I keep filling out forms. They slot me more forms. I fill it out, and there’s another form. Forms. Forms. Forms. Teeth of forms. Armpits of forms. Musty barn jackets of forms. You put the jacket on and someone slots you a musty barn jacket and says put it on. You put another jacket on, sort of bulky now, and someone slots you a musty barn jacket and says put it on and you put the jacket on, sort of hot and bulky and hot now, and someone slots you….Ah, balderdash. This is all I would like to say at this time about forms.

[speckled Canada goose]

2. injury

I am injured. My left Achilles heel is fucked. It is a brick, on fire. Here, hold this flaming brick. Now I can’t run the Purge of Knees. How long have I been training for it, looking forward to, imagining the possibility of flying up Mount Lemmon?

A long fucking time. Now I can’t. I can’t realize my goals and my left Achilles is a flaming brick. It’s like someone is treating my life like a little rock. Or they gave me this prize, this cool roses-of-gold prize, then took it away and said, “Psyche! Your life is just a little, bitty rock.”

[i could have been a weird itch of a man, but now…]

Do you know what a runner does when they can’t run? they don’t blog, folks. They spiral into depression is what they do. They don’t blog. You have to have some sense of human spark to blog. You can’t be down on that bottom grocery shelf with the dusty candles and the Kosher dills and that crumpled box of baking soda and the fucking dead cricket. You can’t be an embroidered lamb mitten found behind the refrigerator once you finally move your refrigerator (you had it 27 years and now, now it breaks! right before the party?!) and behind the refrigerator dust-balls big as your forehead and a steak knife and a book of matches and some pink pill (hey now!) and an embroidered lamb mitten from some kid, who knows what kid, some happy, distracted kid probably a sad adult now, probably sang like a fish under this very roof before you lived in the house, most likely.

[collaborate with myself]

ICE. IBUPROFEN. BEER. ACE BANDAGE. NEW SHOES? BEER. REST. FUCK ME.

Did you say, rest? A few minutes ago I ran a 5:42 mile to Lady Gaga.

Brick. FLAME.

3. internet

Thought my modem was blar but it was my router. Two weeks of being too busy to deal. Forms. Can’t use the internet at home. Now what? Shoot my bow I guess or sweep the floor or go fishing with Boy or bet on sports or wax my bow or wax myself (uh, no) or watch some TV show about the Titanic…

Did you know the Titanic came within 4 feet of hitting a huge ship on the very first seconds of its maiden voyage? I didn’t. I do now.

2,227 people on board.

Lifeboats for only 1,178 people.

OK.

Why in the hell would you want to recreate the Titanic voyage and then go and park above the sunk ship and stare down into the water, you sick douche bag tourists.

Comcast customer service woman # 1: Way too smart, professional, witty to be working her job. I kept wondering what she looked like. I mean I was attracted to a customer service professional over the phone. Weird. Anyway, we got disconnected and she was no actual help.

Comcast customer service woman # 2: OK, I was sort of a little gin parabola and I shouted at this woman. I don’t feel good about that. I want to be a better person. I apologize. She was no actual help.

Comcast customer service man # 1: This dude went on some insane rant about how all the kids today are being bullied at schools and that everyone needs to be armed all the time. He said kids need guns and to go outside more often. He was no actual help.

Air Station router dude: We talked so long that I got ear sweat. He seemed cool. Finally he said, “Well, we tried everything, so I think you’re screwed. Go buy a new router.”

He helped. I bought a new router. I have internet now.

4. someone in my family, not sure who, maybe my wife or maybe my kid, my dog, not sure, i need to pay attention more, but sometimes I don’t listen and start thinking about Boy George or something, and anyway, somebody had this in their fortune cookie:

FOR TRUE LOVE? SEND REAL ROSES PRESERVED IN 24kt GOLD!

WTF?

So that threw me off for two days, thinking on that fortune.

5. the new HTML GIANT.

Looks pretty rad, no?

6. all the cool shit…what cool shit?

Ok, I went to a musical, in a big-ass classroom. That was odd. It was The Circus in Winter, and based on Cathy Day’s book, The Circus in Winter.

I get to work with Cathy Day and that makes me glow.

Also I really dig this book. I am reading it right now and learning a lot. I like to learn while I read.

I glowed the musical, too.

Best part of the musical-in-a-giant-classroom was this young lady would blow a trumpet in your face every time they mentioned the elephant. Scared me once. Then twice. Then I got used to a trumpet in closed quarters.

BRRRUUUUUUUMMMMPPPPP.

*

I went to a reading. Four readers.

1. Some student I have never heard of. I can’t remember what he read. I’m not even sure I was there.

2. Shanna Compton.

Shanna had the sniffles. I thought maybe she was on cocaine but she claimed a cold.

Here’s a glow article Shanna wrote about poet-bloggers.

Here is a Shanna poem.

3. Jennifer L. Knox

You know Chicken Bucket, right?

Chicken Bucket

Today I turn thirteen and quit the 4-H club for good.
I smoke way too much pot for that shit.
Besides, Mama lost the rabbit and both legs
from the hip down in Vegas.
What am I supposed to do? Pretend to have a rabbit?
Bring an empty cage to the fair and say,
His name’s REO Speedwagon and he weighs eight pounds ?
My teacher, Mr. Ortiz says, I’ll miss you, Cassie,
then he gives me a dime of free crank and we have sex.
I do up the crank with Mama and her boyfriend, Rick.
She throws me the keys to her wheelchair and says,
Baby, go get us a chicken bucket.
So I go and get us a chicken bucket.
On the way back to the trailer, I stop at Hardy’s liquor store.
I don’t want to look like a dork
carrying a chicken bucket into the store—
and even though Mama always says
Never leave chicken where someone could steal it—
I wrap my jacket around it and hide it
under the wheelchair in the parking lot.
I’ve got a fake ID says my name’s Sherry and I’m 22,
so I pick up a gallon of Montezuma Tequila,
a box of Whip-Its and four pornos.
Mama says, That Jerry Butler’s got a real wide dick.
But the whole time I’m in line, I’m thinking,
Please God let the chicken bucket be OK.
Please God let the chicken bucket be OK.
Please God let the chicken bucket be OK.
The guy behind me’s wearing a T-shirt
that says, Mustache Rides 10¢.
So I say, All I got’s a nickel.
He says, You’re cute,
so we go out to his van and have sex.
His dick’s OK, but I’ve seen wider.
We drink most of the tequila and I ask him,
Want a Whip-It?
He says, Fuck no—that shit rots your brain.
And when he says that, I feel kind of stupid
doing another one. But then I remember
what mama always told me:
Baby be your own person.
Well fuck yes.
So I do another Whip-It,
all by myself and it is great.
Suddenly it hits me—
Oh shit! the chicken bucket!
Sure enough, it’s gone.
Mama’s going to kill me.
Those motherfuckers even took my jacket.
I can’t buy a new chicken bucket
because I spent all the money at Hardy’s.
So I go back to the trailer, crouch outside
behind a bush, do all the Whip-Its,
puke on myself, roll in the dirt,
and throw open the screen door like a big empty wind.
Mama! Some Mexicans jumped me!
They got the chicken bucket,
plus the rest of the money!


I look around the trailer.
Someone’s taken all my old stuffed animals
and Barbies and torn them to pieces.
Fluff and arms and heads are all over the place.
I say someone did it,
but the only person around is Rick.
Mama is nowhere to be seen.
He cracks open another beer and says,
What chicken bucket?

Well, that was a long a time ago.
Rick and I got married
and we live in a trailer in Boron.
We don’t live in a trailer park though—
in fact there’s not another house around
for miles. But the baby keeps me
company. Rick says I’m becoming
quite a woman, and he’s going to let Mama know that
if we ever see her again.


4. Peter Davis.

I’ve seen Peter Davis many times now, and I keep glowing his Poetry Poetry Poetry poems.

Here.

Here.

Read them. Read the damn poems! You will feel like that moment, that moment right after statehood.

*

Oh go disc golf on your flaming brick of a heel.

Here’s a blog I wrote about my recent Michigan D golf trip, but, really, who cares?

Much more interesting is this gentleman’s write-up of one of the courses, Cass Benton:

People, people, people. The term Casshole only scratches the surface. Deuchebag circus kind of covers it. From over-privileged kiddie punks to obnoxious adults to vagabond rapist-looking weirdos who seem to wander from time to time, there’ s a little of everything. Because this is where I started playing, I thought every course was like this, thank goodness that’s not the case. Plus, there’s always big groups of 10+ who sometimes lack common courtesy to let you play through. Luckily the course layout can allow you to skip around them with enough hustle.


I sort of love the term Douche Bag Circus…

*

Katie Hartsock has:

1. a badass name.

2. a glow poem at Diagram, with whiskey cake recipe.

3. Another poem here.

Thank you for the words, Katie. Your words pull knees to chest and dunk like animals. Glow.

galaxy nachos nine feng also i ocean i nightclub

Galaxy Nachos recipe.

*

Wells by Nina Feng at wigleaf.

I have noticed a lot of writers now have glow-wicked names. Nina Feng sounds pretty cool. Like a weapon or something. Like maybe a blue weapon you would store under the neon cash register.

“Commander, bring me the Nina Feng.”

Or maybe some orchid?

Or maybe the minute before midnight. Like we have names for times. People will say, “It’s noon.” So why not: “When do we meet for the drop?”

“Set your watches. We meet at exactly Nina Feng.”

I’m not sure. Possibly I am foolish, all radio, static-eater, etc.

Who is Nina Feng.  I don’t know. wigleaf says, “Nina Feng is a candidate in the MFA program at the University of Iowa. She has work forthcoming in the Alaska Quarterly Review and upstreet.”

What does it mean to be a candidate?

Doesn’t matter. What matters are her words:

I worked behind the meat counter at the grocery store. Soft curlicues of ground chuck swung together, depressed a breath and squeezed; steaks lounged in casual sheets, lipping one another’s firm bodies. The light was watery and stinging and spit pools into the meat.

Word

She put me there. I am there. Now she can take, her words can take me, whatever her whim. Strong.

Be sure to read the entire piece. The sentences are re-dunkulous glow. Lutz-like.

Looking forward to more Nina words down the line…

*

12 poems from Peter Davis. These are from his new book, Poetry! Poetry! Poetry!

I’ve seen him read these before and it kills. The delivery, the subject, the meta. I don’t find that many poems truly funny, as in layered funny. Davis does that. Get the fucking book is what I’m saying. It is and is not poetry. That’s the thing to me. It is wonderful. It is odd.

*

So I get take0out nachos but they come in aluminum tray/pan and you know, you know the dog slips her leash and is running, running across the lawn, into street, up street, out into highway, possibly to Kansas the land of grasshoppers and eternal highways (Are we there yet?) corn/corn/corn/splat! (grasshopper)/corn and I’m out dog-stumbling, dog-stumbling with a 2.5 beer buzz and the whole time I’m clambering the highway shoulder I am thinking of my nachos back home. They are in the oven. I put them in the oven to retain their heat. I found my dog, alive. My dog had a look like, “Brain cell, one.” My nachos were mashed. That’s the point. My nachos looked like a soup. What to do? Here’s what you do:

Get fresh tortilla chips. Layer until they look like your forehead.

Pour “nacho soup” on top, circular, concentric pooling.

Now you have created a double layer of nachos. You have refreshed your nachos, I say. You should be happy like inflatable coffee.

*

What in the hell is an odometric wheel? I don’t know. But that’s why we read poems. Thanks David Sharp!

I’m going to use that word. I’m going to use it soon.

I begin teaching summer class next Monday. Introduction to Creative Writing.

“Class, my name is professor Lovelace. We are going to study odometrics this semester. We are going to get odometric. What do I expect from you, odometrically speaking? Well, that’s a manner of odometrics. Let us begin.”

*********

“If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, then you got a problem.  Everything else is odometrics.”

“The odometric is not that there are odometricss.  The odometric is expecting otherwise and thinking that having odometrics is an odometric.”

*

Spring has sprung. I put a 1970s filter on this photo. Not sure why.

But My Boy is catching fish like songs.

S