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Saturday, June 27, 2015

New Release: John Yamrus BURN. Illustrated by Janne Karlsson. Svensk Apache Press, 2015 (32 pages)


The American poet John Yamrus and the Swedish artist Jan Karlsson again join forces to inflict literary mayhem on the Western world. This chapbook consists of 12 poems by Yamrus together with 12 full page illustrations by Karlsson.

As in his last four full-length Epic Rites Press books, Yamrus’ work is characteristically minimalistic, confessional, didactic, steeped in cultural allusions & is hilariously ironic.

Yamrus loves kicking the backside of the literary establishment. In this volume he condemns the uselessness of writing workshops, the seriousness to which some poets take their craft & the lack of what most ultimately have to say or actually achieve.

In the poem ‘when’ Yamrus playfully questions the very nature of what Art is:




(Reprinted with the permission of the publisher)

Karlsson’s visual representations of Yamrus’ poems add a layer of complexity and humour to Yamrus’s work. Karlsson’s world is inhabited by simple but zany ghost-like folk who shriek in pain or laughter, but who in the end, like Yamrus, just want to get on & enjoy life.

                                    
                              (Reprinted with the permission of the publisher)

This chapbook is beautifully smooth to hold & provides a brief, original take on life by two of the world's best practitioners of their art.


Find out more about John Yamrus’ poetry on his site here: http://www.johnyamrus.com/

Find the artist Janne Karlsson’s web page here: http://www.svenskapache.se/


Sunday, June 7, 2015

48th Street Press- Broadside Series #6


I am pleased & honoured to again have some of my poems featured in 48th Street Press’s sixth broadside series. The editor Chris Byck reckons this year’s submissions have been the strongest to date. Here is a list of this year’s contributors:

George Anderson
Karina Bush 
Dianne Borsenik 
Steve Brightman 
J.J. Campbell 
Alan Catlin 
Don Cauble 
Subhankar Das 
Arturo Desimone
John Dorsey  
Linh Dinh 
Ryan Quinn Flanagan 
Robert W. Getz - 
John Grochalski 
Daryl Hall 
Fiona Helmsley 
Charles Johnson 
Scott Laudati 
Ally Malinenko 
Scott Silsbe  
Ben John Smith  
John Sweet 
Bunkong Tuon  
Angelo Verga 
D.R. Wagner 
Richard Wink 
Thom Young 


Find out more about the 48th Street Press Broadside Series here:
http://mimeomimeo.blogspot.com.au/2013/08/exile-on-48th-street.html

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Keep On Keepin' On


I have finally received my Australian region version of Alan Hicks's documentary film (2014) which features, amongst many great poignant moments, the late great jazz musician Clark Terry's mentorship of the young blind pianist Justin Kauflin. A considered film review and an interview with one of the film makers will follow down the track.

Find earlier comments & links on BM to the film here: http://georgedanderson.blogspot.com.au/2014/05/new-jazz-documentary-film-release-keep.html

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Frenchy: Live & Lankey at IPAC


Frenchy will be appearing live at the Illawarra Performance Arts Centre on Friday, the 29th May, 2015 at 8 pm.

Find a blurb on IPAC here: "Frenchy is best known for his SungaAttack YouTube channel and his Around Friend vs. Around Mates videos, which have garnered him upwards of 15 million views.

In addition to his weekly comedy videos, Frenchy has been a finalist in the Quest for the Best and Triple J RAW Comedy competitions. Multi-talented Frenchy is a skilled film-maker, ex-teacher, Tinder aficionado and dubious rapper. Watch him bring his unique, relaxed style live to the stage in this hour full of laughs- with help from an actual, talented musician- special musical guest Zach Gervaise".

Read a recent Illawarra article about Frenchy and his upcoming Edinburgh Fringe Festival tour:
http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/3108173/frenchys-live-lanky-homage-to-the-gong-video/

Frenchy Central: https://www.youtube.com/user/SungaAttack

Update 29 May 2015

I was in attendance of Frenchy's performance tonight. It was an excellent, highly entertaining show! Sick, deliciously crude humour which focussed (in the first section) on anecdotes about Frenchy's working life. He talked about his jobs at the Glasshouse Tavern, Jamberoo Recreational  Park & his life as a casual teacher- before being sacked. The second part of the show featured 5-6 songs with his mate Zach Gervaise, a highly talented singer & song writer.

The audience was highly receptive to Frenchy's brand of improvised 'fuck-you-cunt' comedy & I haven't laughed so hard for a while. After the show, I was amazed by the 200 or so Frenchy followers who waited in the lobby for their hero to reappear so they could be selfied with the bloke.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Featuring John Bennett




Glass Made of Diamonds

Spring is here and business is picking up. I put an ad in the paper saying “34 years in the valley” which got a flood of responses from old ladies who've been in the valley since before I was born, including a Mrs. H. who as soon as I answered the phone started in on how the county is leaning on her to replace her old windows, half of which consist of small diamond-shaped panes. The putty is falling out, air leaks in, and the county, which gives Mrs. H heating-bill assistance, says they won't continue to do so unless she agrees to let them replace the diamond-shaped glass with thermo panes. “Nuts to that,” says Mrs. H.

“How can I help you?” I ask when she's done going off on the county.

“Come clean my windows,” says Mrs. H. “I saw your ad in the paper. Sounds like you must know what you're doin' by now.”

I go over to have a look.

Mrs. H lives in a dilapidated two-story house that leans hard to the east. The paint is peeling off the thin wood trim between the small panes of glass, and the panes themselves are splattered with paint from a long-ago paint job.

Inside the house, the window sills are crowded with blue, green and red glass vases to refract whatever light manages to get in. All the windows have heavy drapes, pulled to the side and held in place with loops of cord nailed to the walls. The place is jam-packed with old furniture, ratty couches and arm chairs with doilies on the armrests, coffee tables, end tables and bureaus covered with framed photos of children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren, and in the other direction, people born in the 19th century. You can't move without bumping into something, and just managing to get to a window, leave alone clean it, presents a major challenge.

“Don't get around like I used to,” says Mrs. H. “No cartilage in my knees.” Her hair is dyed pitch-black, her eyebrows are penciled in, and she wears deep red lipstick. She walks with an oak cane. “I just turned 96 last week,” she says. “My husband Del ain't but 92. I married a younger man. He'll be pulling in any minute now, he's off playing his mouth harp for the ladies down at the old folks home, does it once a week rain or shine, flirts with all of 'em. Keeps him young.”

Just then a pickup pulls into the gravel driveway and out pops Del, a wiry, slightly hunched man with a head of shaggy grey hair, wearing red suspenders over a plaid wool shirt, faded jeans and work boots.

“Who's this young fella?” Del asks suspiciously when he barges in the door.

“He's the window cleaner, Del,” says Mrs. H. “I told you I was gonna get hold of a window cleaner.”

I stand up and shake Del's hand. “How do you do, sir,” I say.

“I been playing my harmonica for the gals!” Del says, and he whips a three-octave Hohner from his shirt pocket and launches into Danny Boy.

Mrs. H sits in an arm chair with her hands folded in her lap and beams up at him. “Ain't that the cat's meow?” she says when he's finished with Danny Boy, a compliment that spurs Del into Red River Valley.

“They don't play harmonica like that no more,” Del informs me when he's done playing, taps out his harmonica in the palm of his hand and sticks it back in his shirt pocket.

“No sir,” I say, “they don't.”

“You ever heard them songs before, young fella?” Del asks me.

“Yes sir, I have. I play a little harp myself.”

“You don't say!” says Del. “Whip it on out then!”

“I don't have it on me,” I say.

“Don't have it on you?” says Del. He finds it hard to believe that anyone who plays harmonica wouldn't have one in his pocket.

“I'm working,” I say, an explanation that doesn't carry much weight with Del but brings us back to the subject of windows.


We settle on a price for the whole ground floor and set a date and a time. They don't write any of it down.

“Make sure you bring that harmonica when you come do the windows,” Del says as he escorts me to the door, while behind his back Mrs. H is waving and blowing kisses my way. “I ain't played with no one in ages,” says Del. “Used to, but they all up and died.”


“I look forward to it,” I say, and Del plays Turkey in the Straw in the doorway as I walk to my van parked on the street.



Under the Bridge

It was the middle of the night, and I was hunched under a bridge with Charles Bukowski on the outskirts of L.A. We had some stale rolls and a tin of sardines, but Bukowski said we needed some ham.

“Those guys over there,” said Bukowski. “I'll bet they got some ham.  “I'll lay money on it.”

We weren't the only people under the bridge. There were maybe fifteen or twenty of us scattered around. We didn't know what we were hiding from, but you could sense it out there waiting for us.

“It's a dog eat dog world,” Bukowski said. “It's a jungle. Let's go get that ham.”

“There must be four or five of them under that tarp,” I said. “They'll kick our asses. Besides, we got these sardines.”

“Sardines!” said Bukowski. “Sardines!”

“Listen, all we gotta do is hang on until morning,” I said. “Then we can wash up in the men's room at the Greyhound station and you can read some poems on a street corner and maybe we'll pick up enough spare change for a bottle of wine and some ham, maybe even enough for a room to crash in tomorrow night. Maybe our luck will change.”

“I blew my last twenty at the track,” Bukowski said. “I can't spot the winners anymore.”

“There's always the mission,” I said. “We could crash at the mission if we don't get enough for a room.”

“FUCK THE MISSION!”  Bukowski exploded. “I've been down that road! Where's John Martin when I need him? Where's Weissner? Where are my readers?”

“You should have stayed dead,” I said. “It's all Facebook and smart phones now.”

“Fuck 'em then. We'll eat us a couple of ham sandwiches and walk into the first bar we come to and kick ass!” Bukowski said. “You take the guys at the bar, I'll take the guys at the tables.”

We got to our feet with some difficulty, stiff from sleeping on the damp ground under the bridge. We hobbled down the hill toward the lights of the city.



Declarations of Love

Trees chopped
into stumps.

Wise guys on
TED Talks.

The slow
burn of
hopelessness.

Stories to
make your
skin crawl.

Rodgers &
Hammerstein,
the melody
& the muse.

Compression
reduction the
shred machine.

The Jolly
Green Giant,
the unanswered
phone.

The pre-
arranged nuptial
the Tijuana
wedding the
Las Vegas
divorce.

Keep trying
keep deviating
keep winding
the clock.

Smile like
a raisin
in the
sun when
they look
your way.

Do a
curtesy take
a bow
hope they
move along
to the
next guy.

Run, little
rabbit, thru
the uneatable
grass, here
comes a
harbinger
with a
frying pan.

Pray they
don't season
you with
shadows or
remember
your face.

Let me
entertain you
call out
the organ
grinder with
his monkey
speak in
tongues raise
the dead
the question
the stakes.

Burn the
witches!

Point the
finger!

Drop your
high hopes
in the
petaled garden
of love.

Things only
matter when
you're full
of fear.

I need
so very
little &
they won't
let me
have it.



Dreaming Oceans

I.

The race
was on
the color
red the
creed greed.

They thought
they had
him dead
to rights
but then
he popped
up in
his coffin
exchanging
arias with
Maria Callas.

Around &
around they
went at
78 RPMs.

Was this
the resurrection
of vinyl?

Would that
set things
right again? 

There's always
something else
they don't
let you
know about –
the effects
of success
on your
libido the
other men
who slept
with your
wife;
lines drawn
in charcoal
lines on
a mirror
lines on
your face.

A little
annihilation
goes a
long way.

II.

Things went
obsolete
before he
knew they
existed.

He went
back to
his coffin
of his
own free will,
signed &
counter-signed,
forged &
distributed
like a
declaration
of war.

He's the
last thing
left
standing still.

Soon the
drums will
roll the
natives rise
into the
ozone the
pancreas go
obsolete &
the left
lung along
with it.

All the
monks will
be crucified
meditation will
be outlawed
& the
Big Bang
will be
amplified.

He put
his message
in a
bottle &
tried to
dream up
an ocean.


An End to Injustice

I robbed banks with a mask of my own face. When they brought me in for questioning I said how crazy would that be, using a mask of my own face to rob banks, and they had to agree. They let me go.

But a week later they kicked in the door and tore the house apart and found the mask. “What's this?” asked the detective, a rhetorical question if ever there was one.

It's the identity business again. Lately I've been obsessing on it. Just who am I?

I'm not a bank robber by nature. It's more in my nature to work at an animal shelter. I did that, too, before I started robbing banks. I cleaned out the cages and fed the animals, dogs mostly, strays and abandoned puppies, and when it came time to put them down I took them home with me instead. I wound up with a house full of dogs I couldn't afford to feed on the salary they were paying me, and so I started stealing food from the shelter. That's when they fired me, and that's when I started robbing banks.

I always took a dog with me, a Doberman or a Rottweiler, they were more effective than waving a gun in the air. And then some bank teller who got his dog from the shelter recognized my face mask, and that's when they brought me in for questioning.

I thought it was foolproof, the face-mask business, the reverse logic of it. But then the detective assigned to the case got a hunch, and logic is no match for a hunch. They kicked in the door and found the mask and found the loot buried in fifty-pound sacks of Science Diet.

Everything got turned on its head after that. I went from being an animal-rights advocate to being someone who exploited animals to rob banks.

On the day of sentencing (ten years without parole) half the spectators in the courtroom wore face masks that looked like me, and the judge banged his gavel and made them take the masks off or be held in contempt of court. They complied, all except one man who I could tell by his hands and his hair was black. They cuffed him and led him out of the courtroom with the mask still on.

I figured I could do ten years standing on my head. Before I went to work at the animal shelter I'd been a mercenary for Blackwater, and it made me tough. I guess I went to work at the shelter to atone for some of the things I did while I was a mercenary.


I'll do my time, and when I get out I'll look up the man who refused to take his mask off and we'll put our heads together and come up with a plan to put an end to injustice, once and for all.


Visit John Bennett's Vagabond/ Hcolom Press home page:
http://www.hcolompress.com/Books.html

Visit John Bennett's extensive writings on Outlaw Poetry:
http://johnbennett.outlawpoetry.com