Thursday, July 26, 2012

Red Shuttleworth-Two Poems

Concluding Winter

The boy watches the men
near the warped-boards corral sharpen
knives, did snuff, judge girlfriend snapshots.
The wintered bulls are trailered,
except for a cancer-eyed Hereford.

The men’s coats and jackets
are draped on corral posts
and a light south wind ruffles
them toward the Dakotas.
The boy owns two words,
Yep and Nope. He rides sheep
to prepare for broncs and bulls.
He wears a hand-me-down Resistol
battered by work and weather.

One man notes the promise of a spring
of slush and mud. The others nod, spit tobacco juice,
and a burly one joshes about a girl gone-to-town.

The men agree... sooner or later everyone
Bleeds: thumbs lost to rope-crush saddlehorns,
Driving on Kessler’s Whiskey to the tune of lost-woman,
Prom night fights... And do you remember
that Keya Paha kid who got the earring ripped off?

The boy watches the men stand, stretch,
and shake their heads at the bull,
good for one season,
now bound for hotdogville.

from the chapbook "The Beef State" 

In Deep Bourbon Cover

No one wants to be
tracked down like 35-pounds
of rapid coyote.

I want something luminous-blue...
magical moon or plaid snap shirt,
Bowie knife or edgy horse.

I kick into oblivion hotels,
strapped to jet-black
notebooks of frostry hindsight.

Locate me at the edge
of a a West where no revelation lasts
longer than Great Basin rainwater.

from the chapbook "The Silver State"

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Jack Kerouac-Bowery Blues

The story of man
Makes me sick
Inside, outside,
I don't know why
Something so conditional
And all talk
Should hurt me so.

I am hurt
I am scared
I want to live
I want to die
I don't know
Where to turn
In the Void
And when
To cut

New York City, March 29, 1955

Friday, July 6, 2012

Manifest Destination by Adrian C. Louis

A hot wind curls the leaves
and chases the dogs digging
deep into the dry soil.
I live in the gut of the bright failure
called America. I live in
this hell named Nebraska.
It's one hundred and seven today
and grasshoppers from outer
space are dancing in my brain.
The air-conditioner is broke
so I run a tub of cold water
and submerge every half hour.
There's a wet trail from the bath
to the couch and nearby fan.
The air is heavy with grain dust.
The "wheaties" are up from Oklahoma
with their caravan of combines.
I crave winter. I want a blizzard
that blinds me to my fellow man.
These are my dark times.
Every other day I grieve for the me
that was and every man or woman
I see fills me with contempt.
Nine out of ten Skins in town are
hang-around-the-fort welfare addicts.
Every weekend their violence
and drunken wretchedness
fills the county jail, but I'm
far beyond embarrassment because
the white people are even worse.
Varied branches of that inbred, toothless
mountain trash in "Deliverance,"
settled here and now own
the bank and most businesses.
It's undeniably true that these
white people in Cowturdville
could be hillbillies except for
the fact that these are The Plains.

Drive on, rednecks, to the edge
of your flat world and fall
down to a better hell.

Every single thing about this
town is sadly second-rate
and I haven't been laid
in more than two years
and there's this fat lady
with varicose veins who
calls me late at night
and begs me to come over
to her trailer for a drink.
Here, in this Panhandle town,
farm kids speed desperately up
and down the main drag wearing
baseball caps backwards and throwing
gang signs they've seen on the tube
and their parents, glad they're old
and tired, truly believe that
those pictures we're now getting
from Mars have meaning.
As far as I can tell, I'm one of the few
people in Cowturdville who's gone
to college and I often wish I
never had, but Christ on a pogo
stick . . . I think I'm starting to like
it here in this American heartland.

Thunderheads are forming
and the sweet-ass rain
of forgiveness is in the air.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tom Stoppard On Playwriting

I write plays because dialogue is the most respectable way of contradicting myself.

I think theater ought to be theatrical . . .. you know, shuffling the pack in different ways so that it's —- there's always some kind of ambush involved in the experience. You're being ambushed by an unexpected word, or by an elephant falling out of the cupboard, whatever it is.

The central paradox of theater is that something which starts off complete, as true to itself, as self-contained and as subjective as a sonnet, is then thrown into a kind of spin dryer which is the process of staging the play; and that process is hilariously empirical.

Words deserve respect. Get the right ones in the right order, and you can nudge the world a little.

In writing plays, I find that the problems — if that’s what they are — are very mundane, and in a way surface. The wellspring of a play is often curiously uninteresting — it derives from insubstantial stray images and ideas, What it doesn’t arise from at all, I don’t think, is anything like a complete sense of the whole. You know, What am I going to try to achieve here? What is it going to be about underneath?

I seldom worry about underneath. Even when I’m aware that there is an underneath. I tend to try and suppress it further under, because theater is a wonderfully, refreshingly simple event. It’s a storytelling event. The story holds or it doesn’t . . .  The same would be true of a short story or a novel.

One of the built-in ironies of being a playwright at all is that one is constantly trying to put into dramatic form questions and answers that require perhaps an essay, perhaps a book, but are too important and too subtle, really, to have to account for themselves within the limitations of what’s really happening in the theater, which is that the story is being told in dialogue.

I use this ill-suited medium (to account for) matters like morality or empire, or the authenticity of romantic love (with the reservation) that failure is almost built into a play if that is its true purpose, its true function. And so one avoids failure if one can, by denying that that is the function of the play. And one says that, no, that was merely an aspect or a sidelight of the play’s function and the primary function is to tell an entertaining story.

My primary delight, which is a good enough word for the fuel that one needs to do any work at all, is in using the language rather than the purpose to which language is put . . . and more than language, I would say theater — the way theater works, through disclosure and surprise.

One of the things I like most about the theatre is not its literary side, altought clearly that has an appeal to me, but what I love about the theatre is its pragmatism, it’s a pragmatic art form. I love it for being adjustable at every point. There’s no point where theatre gets frozen unless you walk away from it.