Friday, July 31, 2009


Please check out the new ROCKPILE Website & Blog at Big Bridge,

ROCKPILE is a collaboration between David Meltzer - poet, musician, essayist, and more - and Michael Rothenberg of Big Bridge Press. David and Michael will journey through eight cities in the U.S. to perform poetry and prose, composed while on the road, with local musicians and artists in each city. ROCKPILE will serve to educate and preserve as well as to create a history of collaboration. It will help to reinforce the tradition of the troubadour of all generations, central to the cultural upheaval and identity politics that reawakened poets, artists, musicians, and songwriters in the mid-1960s through the 1970s. The project will end with a final multimedia performance celebration in San Francisco.

The ROCKPILE Website & Blog will tell you all you need to know about the ROCKPILE project including performance dates, venues, artist bios and performance clips of some of the musicians we will be meeting and performing with in each of the cities.

Once we hit the road, we will be posting travel photos, journal entries, performance videos, interviews and more, daily, on the ROCKPILE Blog, so log on and join us as we travel around the country. Write us, comment on the blog, and let us know you are with us, let us know you care!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Now if everybody did this.....

Pelican Dreaming


Thanks for getting a copy of Mark Young’s Lunch Poems, both he and Michael Steven (publisher of Soapbox Press) are great. You should get Mark’s collected poems as well.

Library Answer

Thanks very much for your recommendation. We have now ordered a copy of Mark Young’s Pelican Dreaming: Poems 1959-2008, published by Meritage Press. Feel free to place a request on it. We also hold a copy of The Right Foot of the Giant in our collection which contains his poems from the 60s to late 70s. New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre has an excellent web page devoted to him containing a bio, a bibliography and lots of his poems for you to read. Enjoy!

Cynthia Bishell
Collection Services Manager

Canterbury University Library in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Apocrypha (from the Greek word ἀπόκρυφα, meaning "those having been hidden away")
My current fixation with the word apocrypha is that I'm putting together a book of odds & sods that haven't really fitted into my other books — small prose pieces, vispo, pwoermds, etc. — which I'd decided to call An Apocrypha.

I used the word for my perceived sense of its meaning as "that which has been left out", more aligned with the definition above rather than either of those used in the post below. In fact, my book flies in the face of Athanasius' categories. I see it as a part of my canon, hope that it's edifying, do not see it as heretical.

But in light of the modern lay meaning of apocryphal as "spurious" or "of uncertain authorship", I'm rethinking my title. Though it'll probably stay—I've a pretty good cover design in mind, with big capital As all through it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"Athanasius spoke of three categories of books: canonical, edifying, & 'apocryphal' - meaning heretical works to be avoided altogether. Jerome on the other hand, used the term 'apocryphal' for the second category of books, those which are edifying."

Sunday, July 26, 2009

any publicity is good publicity?

Dear Customer,
We've noticed that customers who have purchased or rated books by John Sandford have also purchased Trust Me by Jeff Abbott. For this reason, you might like to know that Trust Me is now available.
Common enough email. Not so common though is the review excerpt that is quoted in the email. I would have thought that Amazon would be selective in their accompanying information, not offer a review that contains the following....
From Publishers Weekly this furiously paced if less than compelling thriller... the story strikes a number of false notes—convenient plot twists, hard-to-swallow dialogue and a main character who all too easily goes from wimpy grad student to brawny crime fighter over the course of just a few days.
Really makes me want to buy the book.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

One of my pet hates

is the journalistic practice of using nouns as verbs. (Maybe I should have written that as verbing nouns.....)

I'll be generous & put it down to the sub-editor—do they still have sub-editors?—part of whose job is to come up with a snappy headline. & most of those I've noticed tend to appear in the business pages.

But it's spreading. In the entertainment section of today's N.Z.Herald:

US band to helm fundraiser for
stroke-hit godfather of NZ rock

Monday, July 20, 2009

one of the corners I retreat to

in a pause
in the pulse
of the
beating wings
of words
on the
G String
it is
music of
great beauty
it is
music of
great beauty
who walks
towards you
in a
she reaches
last step
when she
reach out
touch you
your pulse
your words

from The Oracular Sonnets by Mark Young & Jukka-Pekka Kervinen
a Meritage Press e-book

the / death of / Anna Nicole Smith

a trophy bride

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The bireme anchored in an inlet somewhere on the coast of Ithaca.
          The song. On song. Sirens. Syrinx. Goats grazed on / the hillside.
   Drained. Drying up. Deserted. Dessicated. He yearned, not for rain but for contact. "There must be some way out of here."
The train to Bratislava was running late.
Goats grazed on / the syrinx-deserted hillside. The train to Bratislava was running late. He yearned, not for rain but for contact, for song. The bireme anchored in a drying-up inlet somewhere on the coast of Ithaca. "There must be some way out of here."

Friday, July 17, 2009

Lars Palm does it again

Now ready for download from Lars Palm's ungovernable press

Tom Beckett's
Another Shadow?

Sex is
a text
(in Braille
and Martian).
Dr. Chen he say:
copter day.
Sikorsky Sea Kings.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hey, please, get off of my cloud

Probably only the fabled Prieuré du Sion has guarded its secrets as closely as The Cloud Appreciation Society. Now some of its members, tired of the secrecy, have decided to open their texts and visions to the world. In this slim volume, edited by Márton Koppány and Nico Vassilakis, we see for the first time what has previously been hidden in the clouds.

Apparently, The Cloud Appreciation Society doesn't appreciate people who appreciate The Cloud Appreciation Society. I have received an email from Lulu saying they were withdrawing the above book from their lists. The why came in response to my email asking what was going on. I've extracted from them below. The first paragraph is from the second email.
"We have been contacted by Gavin Pretor-Pinney of the The Cloud Appreciation Society. He has informed us that this book is not affiliated with The Cloud Appreciation Society in any way. Your book also contains images taken, without permission, from their website."

"As a result, we have removed your content from availability, as per our Membership Agreement, which states 'Lulu reserves the right to refuse to permit your publication on the Site of any Content that Lulu, in its sole discretion, deems in violation of the terms and conditions set forth above.'"

Questionable Content Team,

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Silkworm Faeces

Dr. Chen he say:

That is just so! I, first son of Dr. Chen, now translate into the English for our American friends. He say:
"The silkworm excrements may be harmonizes advantageously with the warmth middle the region. And release tautness calm brains."

Tautness brains become so calm as in picture of shrine temple. This benefit only come with most beneficial Chinese medicine herbs. You are ordering them now. American friend, if you want tautness calm brains just order Bombycis faeces now! Get warmth middle soonest possible with these fine excrements. Dr. Chen is always guarantee best outcome. Silkworms feed upon the leaves only of the mulberry tree, and most pure are their excrements. For centuries past have the concubines of emperors used these faeces to strengthen warm middles and to prolong moments of clouds-and-rain. The mind is eased. The spirit is oxygenated. The teeth become white, the navel becomes shapely, the nostrils open.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A further bookish note

Lars Palm's comment on my post about local bookstores has reminded me that I found a recent Sara Paretsky novel, Bleeding Kansas—not a crime novel, btw—on the discount/remaindered table at the local newsagent.

A single copy. First & only time I'd seen the book for sale in town.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Six years ago,

when we moved to Rockhampton, there were three bookshops in town—two Angus & Robertson shops, one Collins, no independents. The major bookstore chain in Australia, Dymocks, had no presence here, &, given their commercial acumen, that in itself was probably a strong indicator of the state of the local market.

Within three years, we were down to one bookstore, a single Angus & Robertson. Collins, which was probably the pick of the three in a general sense, went first, followed by the A&R on the north side of the river which was my favorite because their standard selection of books was augmented with titles chosen by someone who actually read more than the bestseller list & believed there may be others out there who also did.

My memories from Sydney are that Dymocks stocked everything, Collins occupied a sort of respectable niche within the market, & A&R tended to wear the Aussie blue singlet. You could say their shop in Rockhampton is accessorized with footy shorts (Google it if you have to: I refuse to add a link or even talk about them) & socks. Their selection of plays & poetry in its entirety is the Complete Works of William Shakespeare.

(I must mention, in the interests of fairness, that the local outlets of the two major department store chains also carry a limited range of books, usually at an up to 30% discount which is why I visit them; there are also a couple of newsagents that carry books; & then there's the local secondhand book store that categorizes not by genre but by gender—female writers, male writers.)

Detective stories are my great love, & though there is a reasonable selection carried in The Last Remaining Bookstore, the bulk of it is by writers whom I don't like. Of those I do, Lee Child, Ian Rankin & Michael Connelly make it, Robert Crais, John Sandford & James Lee Burke sometimes, people like Laurie R. King never. What it means, though, is that there is little chance of browsing the shelves & finding a writer who, on closer inspection, you just might like.

Unless it's in the remainder bin that sits in the front of the shop. Books that come there have never sat on the shelves that surround them, but from some warehouse somewhere that dispatches them in job lots seemingly based on size & no other criteria. I always sort through the books there, occasionally buying something that seems to have promise. I've come away with some crap, but I've also discovered Don Winslow & two quite gritty English authors, Graham Hurley & Stuart MacBride. My usual journey after that is to visit the secondhand shop to see if there's anything else by them there, & then on to Amazon to acquire the back—or forward—catalog.

James Lee Burke is, like Ian Rankin, someone whose writing transcends the category of crime fiction. His major character is a Louisiana detective called Dave Robicheaux who has an adopted daughter, Alafair. So when I found in the remainder bin a crime novel by someone called Alafair Burke, my first thought was quelle coincidence. & then I read the spiel on the author inside the book &, yea, verily, she was the daughter of the aforementioned JLB. Writes differently; the book I came across, Judgment Calls, was her first novel & a little raw, but I liked what she was doing, &, now that I've read her following four novels—two obtained via A&R, two via Amazon—would recommend her most strongly.

Friday, July 10, 2009

birding my time

The Bird Flies Away
unsigned lithograph by Joan Míro (1952)

I spend a lot of time out of the house. It's not that I'm an outdoors person, just a heavy smoker who doesn't smoke inside. Haven't done for at least 15 years now, fortunate that both the house in Sydney & the house here have had large front porches & covered areas at the back.

I excuse myself on the grounds that I need a break from the computer, or I need contemplation time. But that's crap. The truth is that I've always smoked when I wrote or worked at a desk, was renowned for having up to three half-smoked cigarettes burning away in the ashtray at the same time. Plus another one in my mouth. I used to go through 60 a day, now I'm down to about 20 thanks to smokefree homes, offices, restaurants, etc. But a relevant epitaph for me will be "He wrote, he smoked."

Where I smoke here — upstairs, downstairs — depends on time of day, wind direction, where I am & what I'm doing in the house, whether there's a lot of sun, too much, or not enough. So yesterday afternoon, after lunch, I was out the front when my "contemplation" was disturbed by the noise of a couple of magpie larks. They've thin reedy voices, totally unmelodic, the avian equivalent of yapping dogs, & this time they were at high pitch. Looked up to see them giving a kookaburra shit, possibly some territorial thing or maybe they just don't like kookaburras.

The kookaburra was at first unmoved; but then other birds started arriving, attracted by the clamor of the magpie larks. Noisy miners — the name says it all; no redeeming features, extremely territorial birds, well-known for driving other native species away — arrived, about 16 of them. & then half a dozen or so blue-eyed olive-backed orioles — features as above — came to join the party.

So there's this treeful of birds, all but one of them shrieking their heads off. Jumping from branch to branch, circling around, getting close to, above, below, the kookaburra. It remained stoic, moved its head around to see what the hell was going on, then went back to staring into space.

Five minutes of this, full on. Then the noisy miners moved off in 16 different directions, followed a minute or so later by the orioles which tended to stick together. The magpie larks kept on yammering for another couple of minutes, then they too grew tired of it all & moved away.

Leaving the kookaburra, still unfazed by it all. It took a look around to make sure everything else had left, & you could almost see a grin come to its face & the fuck you lot thought pass through its mind. Talk about attitude.

So now I know where the phrase "giving someone the bird" comes from......even if they don't have fingers.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Recounting Numbers

The car clock reads 2:47, the tripmeter the same w/out the colon. If I keep on traveling at the 60kph speed limit distance will never overtake time. I put my foot down.


as helicopters shake the house a dozen times a day, & passenger planes with unfamiliar liveries fly off in directions where there is / no airport for 2000+ kilometres.....
In Conspiracy City

I barely blink when the
fighter-jets come
screaming down
the valley

or when I see
a line of
Black Hawk helicopters
precisely perforating
the sky

but the midnight
entrances & exits
of transport planes

the small
on the

telegraph posts
the brown convoy
in this direction
the blue
in that

me wonder
when the pre-
emptive strike
is coming.

& this
is only a
of what it’s
like to live
in fear.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Who's a pretty camel, then?

"Penny the camel takes a snack break from providing rides to U.S. Marines at Camp Rocky, July 1 2009. Penny is the mascot for the 26th Transport Squadron out of Amberley. Riding Penny will provide morale for camp personnel of Operation Talisman Saber 09 (TS09)."
From the official website.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Today the
postman brought
me a square
peg & a
square hole. It's
a kind of
security blanket.

geographies: Óbidos

Badgers &
English pianos are
both national treasures
but neither survives
the ravages of
an Amazon winter.

Friday, July 03, 2009

geographies: san diego

Comic-Con is less
than two months
      away & Nasa
has despatched
seven astronauts.

Most, but not all,
legumes fix nitrogen.

I have
      two spare rooms.

Thursday, July 02, 2009


was too proud to beg, so he went round panhandling for synonyms.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Rattling (Talisman) Sabres

Every two years, this area plays host to joint U.S.-Australian war games that go under the name Talisman Sabre. They're heavy shit; land/sea/air, bombing runs, live ammunition, amphibious landings—the last time they were on, there was even a non-stop flight out of Alaska to parachute special services troops into the "combat zone".

30,000 military personnel take part, which has a significant impact on a city of only 60,000. Although most of the action takes place on the coast about 70 kilometres north, the main staging area is a large though normally lightly used military camp across the road from the airport. It's recently become tent city; though I've noticed over the last couple of years that there are a lot more permanent structures being built.

From past experience, it's not the influx of people that you tend to notice, though. They're mainly off playing games. What will be disturbing are the number of military convoys—tanks on low-loaders, armored personnel carriers, troops in trucks, fuel tankers, ambulances—bringing materiel up & down the highway from other military bases in the country or from the port at the mouth of the river that is normally used for exporting salt; the giant Russian—no Cold War in commercial enterprises—cargo planes that will soon start ferrying in dismantled tanks, & helicopters which, when put back together, will be seen crossing the sky head to tail like caterpillars. There will be warships off the coast. There will be large numbers of commercial aircraft bringing in overseas military personnel, then, when they stop, the mock bombing sorties will begin, all day long & sometimes into the night, planes rattling the windows as they pass by the house after taking off from the airport which is only a couple of kilometres away.

& then the small things that nag at you, that generate more than a soupçon of paranoia. The little signs on telegraph posts, color-coded of course, indicating the routes that the various conveys should follow. & the constant wonder as to why a small-city airport has the capacity & the area to accomodate the largest planes in the world.