Prague Dog Eat Blog

Fine poetry at expats.cz

Jan 12, 10:06 (Filed under: People, Poetry )

Chris Crawford, one of the hosts of Prague’s Poezie a Provokace open mic series, has posted one damn fine poem over at the expats.cz lit forum – so fine that I felt compelled to send him sms kudos for it just now.

Actually, Chris has posted quite a number of damn fine poems and prose pieces in the forum since its humble beginnings two or three (or more?) years ago, back when I was moderating it. I don’t think it’s up to me to give away all the aliases he’s had over the years – Chris, if you’re reading this, use the comments section below to post the names folks should look for, you’ve got a body of work in the expats.cz lit forum that deserves attention.

Spot-on comments

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A poem: open to burn

Dec 14, 07:00 (Filed under: Poetry )

c’est dommage: it’s too bad, and obviously abnormal, though I could be wrong:
love is a word, love is a chemical imbalance, love is a swordfish, a genie’s wish and
a spilled glass of burgundy on white shag carpeting;
I don’t know whether it’s good or bad that
tight bleached jeans and cowboy boots, sports bars and discotheques,
fashion magazines, double headers, office towers,
Sunday morning mass, the top-20, the national anthem –
all inspire me with the dumb grey stillness of a constipated storm cloud.
there is no hope, possibly, for comfort
for anybody, with a few exceptions – others who tried and ultimately failed
(but came so close to succeeding):
Poe, Plath, Hemingway,
Jones, Bonham, Moon,
Phoenix and Cobain.
there are those who simply took the shit the world gave them
and threw it right back with brilliance:
Burroughs and Bukowski come immediately to mind.
these types, the reciprocators, still exist
in various pockets, holes and cracks of this world:
morning disk jockeys, pit bull trainers, graffiti artists, buskers,
shoot fighters, pimps, pop stars. . . .
however,
I guess the trimming of fingernails is significant
and a moth bouncing off a dying lightbulb
in a dusty room at four a.m.-
wanting the beauty, but not quite willing to burn for it;
or a cemetery of classified satellites and tincan coffins,
that coast the muddy orbit of your heart with their engines,
with their sour engines
that lick you and drift away
to the less certain tune picked off a broken Stratocaster;
or carrying heavy loads just for the hell of it
while smashed on good port, through all those styles and stares and points of view
that pull and violate your belly like the sorrow of fresh lost love.
and the spotlight, it’s never on,
rainsong and loss, loss. . .
redbacks, paperbacks, thighmasters;
unemployed, uninspired, unimpressed,
Hoon lying prone, tattoos fading into the bones.
a postcard from Vegas, okay, that’ll do,
or a rejection slip from Heaven, stamped by God’s secretary,
or a couple of wasted sluts ripping each other apart in a dark bar
thick with old love songs and impossible dreams.
and, usually, I can ignore it, comfortable at the bar
my tongue a pasty white, my eyes a lazy red
standing there thinking about Cohen and Miller and McCullers
and sometimes even Kerouac,
and conjuring up the sound of R.E.M: Half a World Away
maybe the Hip’s Every Time You Go.
waitaminute, I don’t give a shit, and it’s too bad.
I sometimes meet up with a woman I once thought I was in love with,
back when she was the editor of a university newspaper.
she tells me I’m usually right in my opinions
I’d rather not have opinions;
the world seems somewhat easier to live in when you don’t have to think about it.
yesterday I found myself under clouds in a park near the city center,
wanting something, needing something and
feeling something, and making my way out
I ran into an ex-girlfriend who always laughed a dull laugh;
she says she is happy, now, but she still bores me, and all around us
there were trees:
trees for birds to breed in, trees for dogs and bums to mark, trees waiting patiently
for their leaves,
patient as the spiders in the corners of my window and reaching.
then her last words disappeared, each of these words as temporary as seconds
with no tangible remains – it meant nothing to me – and I started walking home, wondering where it was,
and I knew what to expect:
a silent telephone, the neighbour’s radio, a headboard slamming into the wall,
a well-hidden scream.
then, it was a little strange,
I considered the love tragedies
that I have watched during the old love songs in the bar,
close to Shakespeare, close to Dickinson, close to Chopin. . . .
I’d prefer to think about it the way it was instead of the way it is
to delay the future, to procrastinate,
like the putting off of shaving,
and despite the fact that I remembered the editor’s words,
I think she lied.
but as to the furious late-night rhythm of mothwings on bulbglass
and the nervous shiver of winter branches in an impatient winter wind
I sometimes listen.

Spot-on comments

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Frat Burlesque

Oct 10, 22:20 (Filed under: Poetry )

Goddamn, I love being ahead of the game, even if we’re talking about the dregs of American pop culture. I wrote a poem about the Pussycat Dolls something like two years ago, after reading about them in an article at nerve.com (sorry, I can’t seem to find the link to it – I think it’s now premium nerve.com content). The author coined two phrases that struck me as being pretty cool: “Maxim: the musical” and “frat burlesque”.

I don’t know why I felt compelled to write a poem about a band I’d never heard before. I think the piece was more about the article. It evoked a very clear image of a lonely and pathetic, tough-talking, yet not completely deluded, frat-boy or wannabe ladies man, and the poem just sort of wrote itself from there.

Chris Parsons put some blues guitar behind it and helped me turn it into a performance piece. I also performed it with other musicians, but none of the newer versions we came up with could pump up the poem the way the simplicity and sleaziness of Chris’ guitar could. Whenever I introduced it, I’d ask the audience if they’d ever heard of the Pussycat Dolls. Nobody in Prague had, so I’d end up giving the poem a lengthy intro.

Well, now the Dolls have a hit thanks to their thieving skills Tori Alamaze and Busta Rhymes. And after that lengthy intro, here’s the poem:

developing mannerisms based on the latest trends
our maxim has become musical
and I don’t give a damn about the lyrics
pussy shake pussy take pussy makes the engine
rev into breakdown
whisper how much you love me
as you sing torch songs off-key
to my fellow caveman
bump and swivel and grind
and purr….

your celebrity construction will
grow old and your valleys will
grow rancid with time
oh yes oh yes
why bother thinking about it now
you’re young and phenomenal
we’re getting sucked into your display
sucked off into heaven
your fine heaven
and my mythology develops strange cravings
and rapid-fire mood swings
as I comb through the gristle
of your finely-shaven delta
in regret recovery repeat

christ, I’m so thirsty and focused
see these stankin pussycat powderpuffs
perfect in their persuasion
pretty in their performance
glitter and garter belts
wild manners stroking poles
while I floss my teeth with angel hair
wanting so much
to stay in this condition
forever, the bar so thick with
imaginings
you could be mine tonight
you will be mine tonight

much later I’ll have you in bed
in the palm of my hand
another stain collected
once I’ve decorated your face
in the back of the bus
along the skin of your teeth
I’ve carried you to the peaks of mountains
that have no names

talk to me pussycat
settle into the crack
of my bug-eyed stare
ah I’ve got you pussycat
settling down so quickly
quietly
purrrrrrrr…...

Spot-on comments

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Corner office

Sep 14, 06:35 (Filed under: Poetry )

I lean out to feel the sky
the way it gasps
throughout its cloud-pocked expanse
below me, beneath the sidewalks
insects survive
more graceful in the dirt
than we’ll ever be.

I drag my weight over sidewalks
on days that are not my own,
watching birds up in that sky
their minds on currents and insects
mating and nesting
the loss gets so apparent
that my time takes on flavor
salted, metallic and final

it’s every button on every telephone
every machine
it’s the dead pens on my desk
it’s what they’re serving downstairs for lunch
and in the flat eyes of the service staff and the diners
again the telephones – this time their ringing
red exclamation marks and digital paper clips
beside subject headings
it also tastes like
the bad coffee
that I cram down my throat in lumps.

the varying degrees of activity
stripped of all importance
lay white and cold
like sidewalks

within it all, of course,
shards of love
and life, flickering

compensation
flaps through sky
plans in dirt
struts on by in a mini-skirt

we were made for this purpose

we were made to discover beauty and rescue it
from the strongholds of blind ambition.

Spot-on comments

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