Poem: Inscrutable Wisdom

Dream of having nothing at all, and think

what you’d be, fossilized snot bubble, skipping light

curmudgeon complaining, casting darts on the lawn in formation

spelling “THAT’S IT” or “THIS IS IT” just to fuck with people

in the morning

on their day off, they can’t read it

at first as they haven’t the angle, it takes time

to understand the meaning

of a disappointing slime leaking, it’s nothing.

 

at all dummy, this is nothing just like everything.

But people loved it, they went crazy

chanting intricately in column formations

and shit, assuming it’s a warning, filling a hole

with wishes written down and set

aflame, until a pit of ashes in its place

raked by an elderly Chinese man

wondering what the words had meant

becomes the sole symbol, showing that shadow

obscures nothing of note, and mystery is wanting

not finding a solution, the search itself is.

 

Poem: Inscrutable Wisdom

Poem: Box the Turtle

I am invincible,

at a starter pistol I tuck my head and hunker,

I’m scared of nothing,

I can’t even hear the footsteps of my enemies,

but they’re out there,

from here I can sense foolish and lame vitreous,

they can’t cut me,

I sense the fear behind their bulky sunglasses,

they’re just jealous,

from outside my walls they smell smoking meats,

they must be cold,

likely their fingers bleed clawing at bare brick,

I would let them in,

then they’d see blank journals and empty bottles,

and know the truth,

that behind the curtain there is nothing at all.

Poem: Box the Turtle

Review: In a Valley of Violence

In a Valley of Violence (2016)

Director: Ti West

Writer: Ti West

Actors: Ethan Hawke, John Travolta, Taissa Farmiga

 

In its own harsh, uncompromising manner, In a Valley of Violence scoffs in the face of well-wrought western tropes, and comes away with a delightfully intense bloodbath.  I can say unreservedly that I am a fan of westerns, from the meticulous Italian chaos of Sergio Corbucci’s Companñeros to the somber philosophy of Peckinpah’s Ride the High Country, I love the western genre.  As is obvious from the opening titles which closely imitate the opening credits of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, director Ti West (The House of the Devil) loves it too.  His love of  westerns is most obviously displayed by his eagerness to subvert the genre’s tropes, which he does here by injecting characters with weakness, stupidity, and more than a little comedy.  This comedy most often comes from the committed and somewhat silly performance of a masterful John Travolta (Swordfish, Battlefield Earth, Scientology), who portrays tobacco chewing bravado while his character becomes a strange alternate protagonist.

The story’s central hero is Paul, Ethan Hawkes’ mysterious drifter traveling alone with a dog.  Paul and his strangely intelligent companion, Addie, are linked via an almost supernatural connection.  These travel companions make an ill-fated pit stop in Denton, a town terrorized by the son of the local sheriff (James Ransome), who practices wanton cruelty with impunity.  This character, Deputy Gilly Martin is perturbed when newcomer Paul (Ethan Hawke), fails to respond quickly to his inquiries.  This simple perceived slight leads to a chain reaction of escalations, culminating in a climactic death that is both ludicrous and metaphorically perfect.  The unstoppable expansion and eruption of violence is so reasonless, yet so inevitable, that In a Valley of Violence could be said to make a permanently timely statement about the ease and cost of killing.

These are pretty heavy issues, however, and they might weigh down a movie as violent as this one, but it is saved by the aforementioned Mr. Travolta, playing the sweetest Marshal ever.  Travolta’s character is kind, reasonable, merciful, and hilarious.  Marshal Clyde Martin (Travolta) has one fatal flaw, however, his love for his son.  As terrible as Gilly had become, he was still the Marshal’s son, and family trumps everything.  I think that this, in many ways, is the central conceit of In the Valley of Violence.  That even the most positive emotional reflexes, like a father’s love for his son or a drifter’s love of his dog, can lead to copious bloodshed.

Westerns can be intense, savage, and unapologetically brutal, but they can also be funny, touching, and philosophical.  In the Valley of Violence can do all of these things, but it is one thing above all, a kick-ass western.  The music is dramatic and propulsive; shrieking with energetic violins that sound like stabbing.  The performances are all exemplary, particularly Taissa Farmiga, who brings a mad spirit to the role of Mary-Anne, charming with every nervous giggle.  This is a western of surprising depth and fantastic production, but what really leaves an impression is the sheer fun of it.

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Review: In a Valley of Violence

Poem: Public 1

A mortal cloud sits affront me, at the sides

as well is a crunching Armada, and passing is Pointless

Shadow on the right, Vacuum on the left

with taunting vulgarity, chit chat hyper fuse

apocalypse bringer, Task Force United, T.F.U.

screamin’ up capitol streets with odd numbers

in ‘em, strangely catatonic facially

reconstructed bubble-butt beasts, the future is bringing

a porn mag in the bathroom, lockin’ the door

not for shame but safety, which is first

then teamwork, keeping cautious eyes

on each other permanent, just in case

interruption is lurkin’, shame over shoulder

Setta Strike, leading team Point Chuckle

up the park to the tennis court, a bad place

to be masturbating in the day, but at night

the sensation is priceless, I’m sure.

Poem: Public 1

Novelistic

This trashy beach novel, written sunbathing

about the future of our planet, which I found

on the shores of lake Minotanka, is pessimistic at best,

in its vision of the future, the pantsless emperor

is given a knife, and he’s running around the U.N.

stabbing at ghosts, because he was celebrating

the assassination of the previous emperor

and he did too much acid, it’s a hilarious romp

featuring a choreographed dance of death

with full penetration, it has everything.

Novelistic

Poem: Nightmare 2

I shock into the world everyday

at dawn, I’m surrounded by trenchcoats

surrendering to the past, flicking butts

from day to night, as the world turns

they learn not at all, as they are all fury

fear and fellowship, so to speak down

is knowing the time of day, the masses huddled

no more, girded by spiteful fury

depression draining life forever

Poem: Nightmare 2

Poem: In The Wartime

The battle was weeks of hell, baskets of mortar

dropped on a frozen rope, onto my friends trapped

with nothing to win, they are happy now

rendered headless, chopping off what we could

to drop into the sea, we are war machine screaming

merciless mantras, passing a chalice

boozy of humor, laughing with satan

at the suffering fireworks, burn the wound making

cauterized ruination, I fear sepsis

taking hold, for I will die before its done.

 

Pandemonium marketplace setups

selling soldiers to the bidder, elevated not

though square dealing on the level

with rules to follow, and malice aforethought

you understand, for a known game is just

talk of death to traitors and spies

wearing suits, costuming a new hell

in tatters as death in the mirror

again, the children are hungry

but nothing grows anymore period.

 

A cruel, merciless decision we made,

admittedly, to stand apart from fury

with sickly cowardice we turn away,

though we chastise ourselves and each other

for acting likewise, because flagellation feels

good when we use words, joy is diminishing

words we don’t like to use in public

but we still do, for wouldn’t you

if you had esteem waiting, but you don’t

because you only serve, like a lever.

 

Check marks, first thing is the first,

a nice fruity phosphate, Mountain Due

Condition Blue or something, tasting love

is sweet sunshine and comfort costs

money in peacetime, my arms rendered

useless but to pull a lever, push a lunger

off the edge, slipping into a dragon chase,

or maybe it’s a nightmare, but waking

in a box is a bad omen, I’ve heard.

 

Large in charge of the floor, big shot

all of a sudden, struggling still up against

a whiteboard colored in bullshit,

first buy the bonds, afterwards pay the piper

for the tolls that number sixteen

more than before, on the same street

all of a sudden, knowing there’s not a place

we could afford uptown, anyway

hunting a point out, precisely placed

because you might have just one chance.

 

Voltaire and Camus came together

to work on “All Quiet,” or whatever

it will be called, and directed by Dickens

with Gandhi producing, De Sade scripting

the tale of a lonely stable-boy in love

with a maiden of the conquered people,

but alas he is gutshot, and dies alone

in the dark, no dry eyes, best picture

contender at least, that’s for sure.

 

I feel like Django, dragging a coffin behind me

filled with my trespasses, and the yelping

victim wails that fell on deaf ears echo

in the night, haunting things I’ve done

rest in the unknown enemy’s moving tomb,

they would’ve done me as I did them,

but still they glare with hole eyes, sucking portals

sucking to a world of shit, so forever good night.

 

I wrote a book called “Push the Chips”

detailing my fall and rise, it was a whitewash

snow job poorly detailed emotional history,

just as devotees rise and shout praises

out of tune, paper away the detritus

pushing to next, and gearing up is the key

with a spiked helmet and chains,

you gotta mash the allies, tell no one

what you’ve done, it is a horror.

 

The movie’s have changed, and none remain

better then ever, though history clones are

all the rage bubbling, they disappoint

with cookie-cutter mechanics and terra cotta

characters, so open the door and pull ideas

off of the chaff pile, we will shield them

with complacency, I have to write

my new novel, the one to lift them up

by the heart, which is all there is.

 

The first time I attempted suicide

I woke up in the hospital, zippered

into my bed, joining rage and regret

in a blender, pushing pulse over again,

smearing pain and scrawling hate

on the wall, they started marking milestones

after a time, now not even a walker

with me, the sad kids get some hope.

 

This is my resignation not from chiefs

of executive office, in them a poison

growing from their heart through their pores,

making them seem soupy, and red

of brick and beet and tomato, but we know

what it really is, representing an ending

for everyone, I move to my forest cabin,

shut off, my kids won’t talk to me at all

now, maybe they’ll never, but I’m finally free.

 

The court calls me Notnow Neverwas

and they laugh, when I enter or leave,

they say it through a cone, long and loud

“Ladies and Gentlemen!  Boys and girls!”

then they lower the boom, pointing to me

a smiling finger, no, they cackle grimly

without humor, but they don’t even know

no one’s laughing, either and I have a knife

behind my back, time for some justice.

Poem: In The Wartime