Archive for February, 2015

the poetry of Bill Gainer

Posted in Bill Gainer with tags on February 22, 2015 by Scot

The Last Time We Talked

(for José Montoya)

Stopped by to see him
drop a few books off
chat a while.
We hit on this
and that.
Nothing too important.
Asked how he’d been.
“Man, whatever it is
I got it so bad
even my skin hurts.”
I told him he looked good,
he grinned,
showed me his sketch book.
We sat in the little room
off to the right
in the front.
He said the chair there
was better
he had a TV
said
we could listen to the news
if I wanted.
When I left
he gave me a little salute,
two finger, a tilt of the head,
said, “Fly high man – adios.”
I haven’t been over
to that part of D street
in a while now.
No reason.

____________

Of Good

Nothing good happens
till after the crucifix
and St. Christopher
come off
and you forget about
not wanting to be bad.

____________

A Place in the Quiet

The hour
when the one
exhale
changes it all.
Nothing before,
if it ever did,
lives.
The light’s
angle thins,
the day’s eyes
close – slow.
You’re left
to yourself
finally.

____________

Lima Beans

When the old man died
we quit eating Lima beans.
Still, they’re there
in the canned goods aisle
and he’s still here with me.
He used to love those things.
Me, not so much.
Milk-toast sometimes,
when the money’s short
and you gotta make do,
but Lima Beans, no …

_____________

 

The Sum of Less

There wasn’t
a quiet moment
with her –
were you expecting
more.

____________

 

Frail Flowers

Her grandmother,
the frail flower
sits in the same chair
asks the same question
what channel’s
Merv Griffins on
today, yesterday
everyday.

She hopes
when they meet
in heaven
it will be different.
Maybe Merv
will be there
sit with her
hold hands
watch old reruns
talk about the events
of the day – 1962
a good year
for flowers to bloom.

____________

 

The Fool’s Market

Souls,
once used thrown
in the barrel
at the end
of the counter.
Marked down
cheap.
Now and then
they go through
throw the ones
at the bottom
out.
They’re hard
to sell
when they get
squishy.

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Review of Michael Lane Bruner’s NATURAL GEOGRAPHICS by John Dorsey

Posted in John Dorsey with tags on February 22, 2015 by Scot

For those of you familiar with the Los Angeles poetry scene of the 1980’s and 90’s, Michael Lane Bruner is probably best known as a performance poet with pioneering touring groups like The Lost Tribe and The Carma Bums and as far as those just a little bit younger, the children of the blogosphere, he may be completely new to you.

I was recently asked for my thoughts on Bruner’s newly minted collection from S.A. Griffin’s Rose of Sharon Press Natural Geographics and so here goes.

All too often I come into a collection with certain expectations, and while I was somewhat familiar Bruner’s work via the Carma Bums anthology Twisted Cadillac: A spoken Word Odyssey, (Sacred Beverage Press, 1996), as well as his contribution to the much beloved anthology The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, which Griffin Co-Edited with Alan Kaufman, (Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1999), the experience I came away with is not necessarily what I thought it might be when I first turned the page.

brunercoverimagebybillrobertsA mixture of abstraction and poetic metaphor, combined at times with highly personal memories and an ear for metaphysical questioning, Natural Geographics is hardly a high energy performance, instead what Bruner offers the reader, for the most part, is a thoughtful exploration on the question why by examining nature, human and otherwise and his search for the answer in the every day.

While I think I would’ve preferred a more personal narrative on a whole, there are poems here that do offer more answers than questions, more light than shadow into the author himself, such as Mother Is Young and Emergency Room Rainstorm.

Perhaps there is more risk involved in asking the questions, rather than what got us there in terms of our own personal history, instead looking at the impact of civilization on its citizens. Perhaps Bruner sums up what the book is all about in his poem The Hard Truth Gets Carried-

“Strangely nothing personal
just history
what with cremation
no trace at all.”

Maybe in time there will be no trace of anything we’ve built, both in and outside of our minds, until then I suspect that Michael Lane Bruner will keep asking the questions that have gotten him this far.

If I had to recommend this book to a particular readership, I would say that it belongs with books like On The Road, for younger readers still trying to put together the puzzle pieces of what it all means somewhere out there in the greater universe, rather than those looking for truth in their own story or a strait forward narrative that they can relate to in a dirt under their fingernails sorta way. The book took me back to High School, when everything seemed exciting, or at least mildly interesting, before the internet when the world still seemed larger than your average television screen and the Earth still had more regrets than I did.

So while Bruner and I may not be at the same place creatively, I’m glad that he hasn’t lost his sense of wonder, and if you still count the stars at night, and they still whisper the invisible secrets of ancient lands past, present, and future, his voice is a strong one and whether this book is a reexamination of the author’s work or a fleeting first glance into the cosmos of his brain, Natural Geographics questions may contain the answers you’ve been searching for all along. You’ll just have to read it to find out.

-John Dorsey

Natural Geographics
Michael Lane Bruner
Rose of Sharon Press, 2014.
Editor: S.A. Griffin
Printer: Bill Roberts

Ordering info-

Paperbacks in letterpress printed dust jacket are $20 and signed hardcovers are $50 postage included. Please send check/money order to the author at: PO Box 1215 Tucker, GA 30085.