Link for these books!


 Link for these books!



A poem (or more) will be offered by the hour or with the day and at the very least once a week. So stay on your webbed toes. The aim is to share good hearty-to-eat poetry. This is a birdhouse size file from the larger Longhouse which has been publishing from backwoods Vermont since 1971 books, hundreds of foldout booklets, postcards, sheafs, CD, landscape art, street readings, web publication, and notes left for the milkman. Established by Bob & Susan Arnold for your pleasure.

Always an update (January 1, 2010) ~ go visit!


New to Woodburners We Recommend :

December 24, 2008



From Woodburners 2008:

Earth Shake



22 JULY 08

A Longhouse Reader


Hayden Carruth

one burner hot plate

If Obama's odyssey shows us anything as a country,...


Four Strong Winds







A poem (or more) will be offered by the hour or with the day and at the very least once a week. So stay on your webbed toes. The aim is to share good hearty-to-eat poetry. This is a birdhouse size file from the larger Longhouse which has been publishing from backwoods Vermont since 1971 books, hundreds of foldout booklets, postcards, sheafs, CD, landscape art, street readings, web publication, and notes left for the milkman. Established by Bob & Susan Arnold for your pleasure.

Always an update (January 1, 2010) ~ go visit!





DEC 2008



Nanao Sakaki


Davy Graham




I called Jim Koller and said,
— I’m walking around the old
House with a flashlight

— Me too


Home life was just like our old days — oil lamps, the woodfire as always, and we were lucky this time since the storm came as rain and not snow (though it made three inches of ice) and at least filled the pond and we had plenty of water on the run-off near the kitchen door for flushing, dishes and taking a hot bath in a cup. Reading books by window light, lamp oil, flashlight for amounts of days.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Nanao Sakaki
Nanao breaks the mirror

from Gary Snyder:
"Nanao has taken off to walk the star path."

When I asked Nanao once what I should say to a friend who had just lost a loved one, Nanao said "Congratulations"

So, congratulations Nanao. We love you.
Gary and Beth


Gulf of Maine Bookstore
Brunswick, Maine, United States
Gulf of maine Books is an independent alternative bookstore in Brunswick, Maine, founded in 1979 by Beth Leonard and Gary Lawless and still going strong!






I keep looking for my face to appear on a milk carton,
a photo of little me, missing since ‘52 or ‘53, who left home
without saying goodbye, left his brothers playing baseball,
left his parents glancing up from breakfast, wondering at this
solitary son who sets out every morning, and returns slightly
more lost, each time less of the child he left home with.

Joseph Stroud, Of This World
    new and selected poems
    (Copper Canyon)


Shoot An Iraqi, art, life and resistance under the gun, Wafaa Bilal & Kari Lydersen (City Lights 2008) an interactive performance piece, illustrated, from a Iraqi brother for another  brother killed by a U.S. Predator drone. ‘For one month Bilal lived alone in a prison cell sized room in the line of fire of a remote-controlled paintball gun and a camera that connected him to internet viewers around the world.’ He was shot at 24 hours a day. Visit the City Lights for more information!


(Film) The Holy Modal Rounders: Born to Lose (2007) thoroughly enjoyable and directed with a sure touch by Sam Wainwright, Douglas & Paul Lovelace just catching up to these psychedelic folk rockers who have been at it five decades in one form or another. Scenes of the original band with Sam Shepard on drums appearing on Laugh-In is a shimmering image. Tuli Kupferberg, Ed Sanders, Dave Von Ronk, Shepard, Byron Coley, and the infamous Antonia herself all have things to say. The rich special features are lively. Clashes between Steve Weber and Peter Stampfel is love at first sight.


Learning Native Wisdom, Gary Holthaus (Kentucky), what traditional cultures teach us about subsistence, sustainability, and spirituality. “...the effort to develop a sustainable culture built on a healthy spirituality and an awareness of our subsistence base. I believe that the soil of that spirituality, the indispensable element that nourishes a healthy spirituality, lies less in religions than in language - in a culture’s best stories, songs and poems - some of which do, indeed, come from its religions.”


go to Kendra Steiner Editions / kendrasteinereditions.wordpress.com, or Bill Shute 8141-B Pat Booker Rd., #399, San Antonio, Texas 78233. Precious few churn out small press editions, neat as a pin and slipped in a protective sleeve as KSE. New work now out by Richard Wink, Doug Draime,  Jim D. Deuchars, MK Chavez, John Sweet, Bill Shute, Christopher Cunningham, Ronald Baatz, A.J. Kaufmann,Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal



Eros shook my mind like a mountain wind
falling on green shoots,
                                   not oaks of antiquity,
            but wild bamboo
root by railroad tracks
their sound awakening me

to the slow arrow.

Jacqueline Gens, Primo Pensiero (www.shivastan.org)


Long Day’s Journey Into the Past, Gunnar B. Kvaran Speaks with Gerard Malanga (Skira/Italy: www.skira.net) sidekick and assistant to Andy Warhol sets the record straight in a straight-ahead interview on all things paintings, silkscreens and cinema a la Warhol. Plus his own Italian-American background, poetry and photography, beautifully designed with black & white photographs aligned with such a steady text.


Stories Done, writings on the 1960s and its discontents, Mikal Gilmore (Free Press) — you’ll look around a good long time to find for yourself a book composed about 1960s pop-icon figures with such sincerity as this one. Not one woman in the book, but somehow Gilmore (younger brother of Gary Gilmore, so he’s seen some things) crafts his essays and modulates his interviews with dear motherly wisdom. All the pieces are fascinating, but the ones on George Harrison, Johnny Cash and Leonard Cohen are standouts.


(Film) Gonzo: The Life & Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, dir: Alex Gibney, narrated by Johnny Depp (2007): one of the best items now up free with Netflix Watch Instantly, don't delay. Perfect for Christmas eve by the fire. A roaring two hours of the rise (everlasting) and destruction of the writer and spiritual advisor Hunter S. Thompson. Other than the author's own books, nothing yet in book form or film has reached the skilled drama, with many acts, of this new documentary. Everyone is in this: from Sonny Barger to Edmund Muskie (is that a stretch?), and the music fencelines from the best of Dylan to a riveting closer by Warren Zevon.


The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry, Ernest Fenollosa & Ezra Pound, edited by Haun Saussy, Jonathan Stalling and Lucas Klein (Fordham University), — yes, the very one, and now broader and packaged as a critical edition 90 years later and just as wise and stepped up into contemporary times with some wise insights by Saussy. This edition is now Fenollosa unplugged (less Pound, but his edited text version is here) and the full-fledged original EF essay as he wrote it, accompanied by his many diagrams, characters and notes. Beautiful all around.



train passing

                   my plank bed’s

                                         a little boxcar


John Martone, all saints




Meanwhile, in these times of Internet, text message, iPod, cellphone jamboree, wireless veins, just look at the feast of new books making the rounds. Mouth-watering beauties, some waited years for, and while many cloth editions are now being as cheaply made as a cereal box, others glean real papers, shiny photograph showcase, and weigh meaty in the mitts.

Here’s my list of late 2008 Favs, all sizes and colors, and including many from those already mentioned above:


Old Tale Road, Andrew Schelling (poems: Empty Bowl, 535 Reed St., Port Townsend, WA. 98368): one of the best sure-pegged examples of how to delicately select and form a true notebook catchery of poems, cycles, loops, dramas, and outdoor scents, this book unfolds without a hitch


Clark’s nutcracker hid a seed
                                   400 years ago —
                  twisty thick-trunk limber pine;

lightning sizzles along the broken granite ridge 

cold hailstone hands;
                 safe from storm tea;

that long gone bird who
                 gave me shelter.




Prose poems, Pierre Reverdy, trans. Ron Padgett (The Brooklyn Rail/[email protected]): the precision, intelligence and dedication behind the work of these poems should be passed out all around Wall Street (for staters).


Radical Vernacular, Lorine Niedecker and the Poetics of Place, ed. Elizabeth Willis (U/Iowa Press): everything about this collection of poets and scholars and native midwesterners, as Lorine, think and speak and balance splendidly. Glenna Breslin’s homing essay might be one to look over if leafing the book and wondering if you should purchase. And ain’t life grand that such a smart book of friendship essays have finally been spun and made for this quiet soul, who always seems to receive the same dour cover photograph. Just like Emily. And what a beautiful child she was, which went into all the poems.



toward the boat
that is love
who wears the blue
of night
who is a prince
in the sky
which is bright
as the moon
which is bright
as the green
as the thick
of the trees
of the crisp
of the song of
the whippoorwill’s
in May,
I’d say
and reaping.

Lisa Jarnot, Night Scenes (Flood Editions / www.floodeditions.com)


Portions from a Wine-stained Notebook, Charles Bukowski, uncollected stories and essays 1944-1990, ed. David Stephen Calonne (City Lights): a great range from this working class intellect one-man-band.


Ah, Bartleby, ed. Brooks Johnson & Peter Burghardt (eight skin press / [email protected]): the premiere issue and the way little magazines used to be carved out by the skin of its teeth and what assortment of papers, art, good poems come to hand, it makes for lovely gypsy reading — poems by Scott Pierce, Christiana Baik, Richard Owens, Eric Ratzel, Dale Smith, Freidrich Kerkseick, Susan Briante, Peter Burghardt, Bob Arnold


The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, Lewis Buzbee (Graywolf). I’m a sucker for any memoir and history on book love and selling, and here is one of the best since Robert Wilson’s from a few years ago.


Delta Blues, Ted Gioia (Norton): in a long string of great blues books, add this one, concerned mainly with blues roots from the Mississippi Delta region. With absorbing portraits of Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Son House, Skip James and other irreplaceables.


The Letters of Allen Ginsberg, ed. Bill Morgan (Da Capo): far better than the Gary Snyder/Ginsberg thinner volume of their correspondence (though warm & brotherly), Ginsberg’s literary archivist and Beat smart Bill Morgan has sifted here the definitive AG, from early 40s to late 90s, pre-9/11, when freedoms still rang. The caliber of the man might astound you as to his range of gifts from wild image Howler, man of letters and true loyalist, to a crackerjack disciplinarian when it came time to reign in his often self-indulgent brethren.


Noon 06, ed. Philip Rowland ([email protected]) no issues yet, of a half-dozen, have been anything short of sturdy & sound. An immaculate presentation always Japanese bound. The short poem new-masters are spread world wide.


The Dream We Carry, Olav H, Hauge (Copper Canyon) the selected and last poems by one of the finest poets who will ever hail from the western Norwegian fjord region. Have a listen:


I like
how you
few words,
few words and
short sentences
that drift
in a fine rain
down the page
with light and air
I see you’ve learned
to make
a woodpile in the forest,
good to stack it
so it can dry;
build one too long and low,
the wood will just sit there and rot.

This poem was translated by Robert Hedin, who knows a thing or two from his own living and poems about the silence in a poem’s spaces. Robert Bly joins Hedin to complete the translating team for this slim book of warm embers.


Here's another poet, John Levy from America (though John has lived around the world)


When you’re dead, my seven-
year-old daughter explained,

one of the first things you do
is get lessons

on how to be invisible
so you can come back

as a ghost. And then
it’s not

so different from being

I didn’t get her words
verbatim, nor did I say

But you may find out, my
love, how being alive

you also get lessons
on what it is like to be invisible.

John Levy, Oblivion Tyrant Crumbs
(First Intensity / www.FirstIntensity.com)

I believe, ‘nor did I say’ has always been the snap of the wrist in a John Levy jumpshot. Perhaps part selected & new poems from the poet, and generously given to us.


As the refined and urbane tend to goggle and swoon over a fine John Ashbery etching, we hicks tend to like that, and something like this one below from our edge of the woods. You can hear this poem coming:

                      TIMBERJACK 230

& skids up onto the next ridge.
His Husqvarna kerfs over
a century pine in 5 minutes
and a dozen wedge blows.

Cross-country, an aunt’s upset
that we dropped timber
to mill our home from.
But what Cascadian clear-cut
birthed her tract house
in the L.A. basin?

Nature becomes what
we have done to ourselves.
The trail underfoot.
Rocks placed just so
in a streambed for crossing.
This hillside logged for taxes.

What is not understood,
still is. The best blackberries
take root on the old landings.
Grouse drum in the slash.
& a good logger can drop
every tree up to the hermit’s door
and still leave the recluse standing.

Greg Joly, Village Limits (Adastra Press / 16 Reservation Road, Easthampton, Ma. 01027)

(I like a poem with a happy ending.)


The Dharma Bums, Jack Kerouac, the 50th Anniversary Edition (Viking): go ahead and reread it again. Ann Douglas, one of the quieter Beat scholars, makes a bright appraisal and greeting for any first-time reader. Old-hands won’t mind listening. Stumble-bumble around old Berkeley shacks piqued with young zen zealots and nifty girls, bearded boys, and all-night energy. With Cassady out of the picture, and Snyder in, you’ll go more to the mountains and less of the road and find a much sweeter Jack Kerouac learning  things from his younger poet friend. I read the book aloud on the December back roads to Susan this time around. She got bored with all the guys but sure liked all the California.


I read two massive books during the power outage of 7 days since the nights were long and December, and just imagine, all of it was around kerosene lamps and a strong camp flashlight. I almost went blind. Ronald Johnson: Life and Works, ed. Joel Bettridge & Eric Murphy Selinger (National Poetry Foundation). Lots & lots of poetic technique gumbo which does get trying around oil lamps after 100 pages, but stick with it, it eases up into great play of Johnson character through appreciations of his visual poems (via Ian Hamilton Finlay), his terrific early books of Green Man and Valley of Grasses; the singular long poem collections and enduring ARK, and by far the best section of the book left with Johnson’s literary executor Peter O’Leary, by interview with Johnson (his Buddha) and a captivating appreciation as well. Nearly 700 shined pages. Then to really get lost and snuggle up to the fire Roads to Quoz, William Least Heat-Moon (Little, Brown), the author who is incapable of writing a short, nor bad book. He calls this one ‘an American mosey’, and if you’ve gone on the road with him, buried your face into prairie, rigged up and down rivers, you’re more than ready for this master storyteller. I can’t wait to go back into interior wilderness Maine again with him, and hang around with a enlightened survivor from La Luz. I was there once as an easterner. Mescalero repaired their own roads in and out from town. Or was that Cloudcroft? It was another world. If you like your Cormac McCarthy, here’s what he would be if he had a little Osage ancestry.


I read bunches of collected correspondence titles released in the early fall ~ don’t hesitate with any ~ although I never knew Graham Greene had double nipples; did you? I found his correspondence lacking compared to his rousing tales and travel books. Better to go to  Letters of Ted Hughes (Farrar), masterfully selected and cared, for page by page, by Christopher Reid. The only way I could afford the book was when a college bookstore was going belly-up, an unfortunate day, and I happened to be in town passing thru and somehow the book sat there 50% off untouched. Was it waiting? Being Hughes (and Plath) you may feel, as I did, the book is possessed. Another sort of possession: Thomas Merton, a Life in Letters (Harper One) cheaply produced as most Harper titles are now, but not to worry, William Shannon and Christine Bochen edit up a crockery best-of from this hermit priest poet of joy, contemplation, civil-rights, spirituality and the glory of companionship by mail.


I was ready to put this gathering to bed and just ran across this poem after midnight — maybe it's the way the mind works after midnight. It read as well through the later morning:




In this shop

I want to buy a pair of hands,

I want to discard

my own :

they do not serve me.


I want to know

whether being so old

I am capable

of starting over,

of working anew,

of carrying on.

With fresh feeling, I want to touch

the world,

the bodies,

the bells,

the roots,

to be born

in other fingers,

to grow in other fingernails,


more than anything

to cut wood, to dominate metal,

to build armories, aqueducts,

to grind up the land until the dust

and the mud infuse us —

from so much plowing, the broken seal

of our poor eternity on earth.


Pablo Neruda, The Hands of Day

trans. William O' Daly (Copper Canyon)




Try to build on stone, land an ending on stone —   a few years ago while traveling around on some back roads between jobs, Susan and I started to notice quixotic stone assemblages rising out from sun-filled fields or mid-pasture somewhere in southern Vermont. It didn’t look right, it looked better than right. We didn’t dare venture as trespassers but we did take note, soaking up the structure and its unbelievableness. Lovely stone yurt-like or squat shelter-like, and each will outlast all of us. A few years later I found the same in a new book of stone escarpment and walls and structures and unique forms all built and written about by Dan Snow, Listening to Stone (Artisan) with photographs by Peter Mauss; it’s quite a book.


What’ll take me through the holidays, mid-stream at the moment: the bestial bright My Vocabulary Did This To Me, the Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer, ed. Peter Gizzi and Kevin Killian (Wesleyan): Wesleyan has been on a rollercoaster of late with one dynamo volume after another of seasoned backwater beauties of American poetry legend: whether Philip Whalen, Jean Valentine, here comes irascible Spicer (an absolute must-have for all you Bukowski ham-pawed ones, Spicer was an all together different sort of poetry lush), and up by the bed sits nightly, around midnight, my reading The Collected Poems of Barbara Guest, ed. Hadley Haden Guest (Wesleyan). You may be poor, feel poor, know the poor, act like you’re poor, but these days poetry is rich.


In the sky a dilemma. Fountains rush by.



snowfall (it has a sound)
breezes on the high ridge pines (far off
come close), river roar when first ice lets out
(small woods river, lots of heart), the sound of
an old house built before electricity was
invented returns to its ghost sounds when
modern power is shutdown (wood heat warm
walls), wind window rattle (shakes small panes),
teapot wood heating (hiss), clunk water pail,
clunk firewood, clunk ash shovel, clunk work
boots (clunk)



Bob Arnold, Winter Solstice 08




Bob Arnold's Back Road Chalkies

"With chalk in hand, Back Road Chalkies is a landscape anthology I selected and gathered up over one year from 2007-2008. The chalkboard stanchion took a day to build and move on a wheelbarrow to its perch. Built from old lumber..."

Click here for the PDF photographic journal

~ created for viewing in Adobe Acrobat 7 or newer, at "Fit Width" page display - a 4.3 MB file ~





Bob Arnold's
[complete ]
extracts from letters all to close friends
concerning a loved one

"Susan has acute Lyme disease. Blood work will take two weeks, but everyone I took her to yesterday in the hospital said she had it. Mostso, the two women working in the tissue department of the blood lab. Their door was open, I tapped hello, and they turned and stared at the two of us..."

Click for the PDF file


in memory of Studs Terkel


We are just back from the river work bringing more firewood home. The river is running all three forks of its run all at once now, even without a steady rain for a week. That's autumnal for you, things begin to move, or runaway or hide. A winter is coming forth. We're one day after the election with the weather in the 60s here in Vermont, the first state posted up on the board last night for Barack Obama for President of the United States. Do you think Susan and I cheered a little bit at that moment, woodstove and low lamps? You bet your bippy we did.

On the river this afternoon we needed to build a small stone foot path to ford one fork of the river to get to the stack of split red oak and basswood I cut up yesterday from large trees brought down whole on the river and lodged up on the small woodland island. One hickory tree fell across the main part of the river and now acts as a catch-all for what other trees and flotsam. Because of the hickory we have a bridge across the main flow if we wish to use it, and I did one day saddling over it on my backside. If I had nothing else to do, and the materials free at hand, I'd probably build a plank walking bridge on top of the tree just to do it and to use it. It's hickory, it'll last years and it's already been there in place five years.

However, there's lots to do, and getting this wood home crossing little rivers in the woods is but one chore. Susan won't wear the tall rubber boots I work in because her feet get sore, so we built this stone pathway to ford the river to bring the firewood to the other side. In our arms. And then we get to the river bank and have to toss each piece of firewood up the bank to the roadside and the pickup truck. It's slow work. After we river-cross all the wood we'll have to pick it all up again off the road and stack into the truck. And then out of the truck and into the woodshed. And daily out to the woodshed and into the house to the woodstove. Where it will burn to ash and the ash will be carried outdoors and spread on the ground for the flowers, the clover, the compost and often the nasty ice on the paths. And then our winter boots will bring the mushy ash inside and onto the floors and we'll shake our heads. Life is beautifully and knowingly circular. Learn that and you may get somewhere.

This stone pathway has to be built carefully, all flat rocks chosen, and some can be dropped and splashed into place, while others have to be set down properly and balanced. Weight is being carried over this. Cargo. One can't afford a twisted ankle. Build a little more of the pathway as you rest a moment from arm hauling all the wood. A little more wood, another flat stone. River cold on the fingers. See a fish tumble out of the way, pink of its belly. Susan's sandy tousled hair. One eye peeks over to me as we go stone and wood, stone and wood. Remember, a flood any day after this will wipe our good work out. No matter, still build for the centuries.

This building for centuries is what I see in the face of Barack Obama. For a whole night time last night the pitfalls and ruin of the economy could be forgotten...even though the same economy was the accomplice that provided an opening for the likes of a Barack Obama to reach these heights. The same ruined economy that may have been hand directed by the Democrats in power to reveal the nasty stealth and monstrous wealth of the Neocons and their pals. It was the Democrats 9/11. Payback to the Neocons own 9/11 production that steered in their eight years of Prejudice/Fear/Greed/Power. Within this power structure and wasteland a Barack Obama emerged. Hardly a Messiah or a Muslim, but a Man. He spoke like a man and made other men cry, mostso Black men, who've waited an awful long time to cry tears of joy.

As I had hoped for, it was an explosive election night. Carson came out and when Barack took Colorado, Nevada etc. he figured it was good to get back to his sparse apartment in town. I showed him how he could watch MSNBC on his computer and so the live feed on the election. Before he left we hugged him, individually, and then we all hugged as three. That's the night. That's now what the country will have to learn to do.

If Barack gets his good way, he will surprise some of the liberals by how conservative he will also have to be. It's unavoidable if one wishes to unite the states. There are many narrow minded and fearful people out there. But they're human, and human must be reached. That's the work. If he can do that, then Joe the Plumber and the Sarah Palins will become mute. Ralph Nader will quiet down and relate again.

Obama has to also stop making speeches like Martin Luther King. Those were essential and dynamic as he rose. But now he has to learn to be a dominant leader by lowering himself off the pedestal and get even-eyed with the everyman and woman. FDR had that, so did Lincoln. No leader in modern times has been capable of this decrease in their ego. I believe Barack Obama has the chance to achieve this. If he gets down to ground level, he'll grab the worker, the angry, the confused.

We've never seen a moment quite like this in our country - it's not only Barack Obama, it's Michelle Obama and their daughters Sasha and Malia and they look quite happy, freshly experienced and complete. How lucky we are to have a leadership and new friends such as this. On the same night the people took to the streets of Washington D.C. and shook the iron gate and fence that circles the White House and let the shriveled and minuscule one inside hear and know and really feel the earth shake. Hallelujah, the Earth shake.

Bob Arnold
5 Nov 08





You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd

~ Flannery O'Connor


A bat flew into the house the other night exactly, exactly after John McCain ended his stumble bumble speech at the Republican National Convention. This was an unusual flyer, too, very low to the ground. Like a drifting rat. It was going crazy so I had to open up the living room door and all lights and leave the room. There hasn't been a bat loose in our old farmhouse for years and years; not until tonight. Apropos all the way from this speech, which, miraculously, was worse than Sarah Palin's, only because she could at least deliver and perform her sarcasm, whereas McCain is so psychotic with his inner beliefs and power structure of might-over-right, he's inaudible and even autistic having to present something formally. Even to a crowd of jack boots just waiting for him to say, "Lynch the colored fella and let's move on!" The heavy boots stomping the floor which then shakes free the 100,000 red, white and blue balloons from the rafters. You wonder if you are the only one dumb struck watching this.

Palin has been brilliantly and cruelly placed into position by Karl Rove and colleagues. We all know middle America (remember the 'silent majority'?) are the biggest voters - there is a potential at least - and Rove & Co. knew to bring in a symbolic poster and fantasy to answer their very fears & prejudice. At least credit them with a brilliant, yet insane move. While the liberals wind surf, groove, and still get high; the rightwing glorifies in defending its god and maintaining the Empire. The liberals just can't get it straight that the right wing knows how to get down and dirty and make a living with their hands. They build things, like houses, and they rack a rifle. They learned how to work young, and fewer still went to college to read the good books; they built highways and the cars we drove on them instead. After their last giant fell (Reagan), they became dupes for the preppy rightwing led by the wimpy Bushes, lumpy Rove, and a crocodile named Cheney. Somehow the workingclass tough guys couldn't see the silver spoon dangling out of these fools mouths.

Now we have to see just how much spine is left in the regular press to tolerate what McCain's bunch is about to do: ignore the press, TV media (except Fox), the independent voice that barely hangs there by a thread as the voice of the open mind, and just sell the Presidency and Moose hunting Palin with their own brand of justice. Cut out the press, cut out the educated, cut out the conversation, fascism supreme. No real farmer or builder or mechanic in his right mind would plant or feed or milk or slaughter or mow or construct or tune-up an engine with so narrow of a hand or mind. Sorry to say, it's been happening for years, and more years may be coming. Imagine you are invited to a farmstead cookout, and it's potluck, and you bring to the event, with a big demented smile on your face, a Mock Apple Pie made all from a box of Ritz crackers. You think you're pretty smart. Everyone else has prepared wholesome warm pies and breads and stews. That's what John McCain has given to us - Mock Apple Pie. It's impossible to work with and he knows it, as does Rove, and the media and Obama will burn rubber for the next 58 days trying to measure and figure and plan something out. In the meantime, well intentioned America in droves may fall, again, for this gimmick. The Republicans have figured out how to have cheap thought, cheap politics, cheap books, cheap conversation, cheap schools, cheap medicine, cheap 'looking' clothes and haircuts, and all in all: cheap tricks. It's killing us wholesale to know this, to watch this, to live with this.

We have two experienced minds on the Democratic side ready to show leadership's built-in qualities and experience of both life and politics, up against shrill psychosis. If poor Barack Obama even attempted to pull off a speech like either McCain or Palin accomplished - high in chamber rhetoric, with no fraternity or ideas for all the country - he'd be dead in the water this morning. If there is anytime since McGovern/Nixon when the country will show what it is, and where it plans to go, it will be shown the next 58 days spilling into November. With Obama and the soul of civil rights history in his every presence and move, this will be an election for this country like no other. You'd be a fool this time not to vote. You'd be a fool this time not to vote for the better good of country, earth, waters, and the air we breathe. This is far from politics, this is stout common sense. It'll be the meat & potatoes of where this country plans to go next. If it doesn't go for Change, it's doomed for more of the same (business controls government), and we already know business is all about "nothing personal", as they lean you back and slit your throat.

We went to a yard sale recently to benefit our local hospital with everything for sale, including books. This is where you catch the pulse of America. Not down in the summertime Berkshires or in Taos or Bolinas or Putney book sales. A hospital book sale out on a lawn and boxes and boxes, and did I say boxes? filled with vacuous crap. You may find six books if you are as desperate and a bounty hunter as I am, but really you could leave four of those and just take two, and a loving friend will talk you out of two and advise paying 50 cents for just that one lucky find. That's the pickings from middle America. Once they feel threatened by a Black man (who god forbid may be smarter than them), never mind being mesmerized by a hockey mom who could be a heartbeat away from the Presidency, they may turn out and take this election mighty personal. The workingmen and women may wish to wake up and realize, at long last, nothing for years has been done for them. They're protecting a macho reflex that is laughing at them from the country club. Too bad the same have hired assassins to kill humanists, freedom activists and heroes since the 1960s. This is a very shitty clump of people.

Believe me, personally, I could sit back in little wood-leaf club paradise here by a fairly isolated river and continue to play at my back to the land trip of the last 40 years. Fine and dandy. The problem is the river comes from somewhere and it could easily be spoiled at anytime, and it has been threatened in the past, and it takes tough hard work to save what is natural and what blesses us. We can listen all day to real and devoted and highly dedicated believers of their faith that life begins at conception and they must be against abortion and behold a right to live. True enough, one should be respected with those beliefs. Just as long as those believers also understand that a right to life should be protected for those children not to be forced to also fight and die miserably young for businessmen's wars. It's the same child, and the same life. You fought to have them live, so let them live. Also know to support any troops or soldier that fights in these wars is a sham. Loving them as individual children as we do, they are still mercenaries when they choose to fight for despots and aggressors, no matter from what country. We desperately need, again, soldiers to fight for their country and their people: from Katrina havoc, and young children everywhere needing their love and attention, to the elderly often lost in a maze of derision. What is a country, or world, that forgets its truest teachers?

Good Americans can often be quiet at their work and even recognize quality. So prove it.


~ Bob Arnold

7 Sept '08

Books by Bob Arnold including selections from his work


Click here for PDF file

Click here for HTML Catalog



Isaac Hayes
Dwight Miller Jr



To be or not to be.
That's not really a question
- Jean-Luc Godard


Don't we know that only by devoting ourselves with glad hearts to the devastating reality of duration, perceiving the true conditions of life but also its powers, will we accede to instants of consciousness beyond the time of clocks: instants that will be the only timelessness of any value? There is an essential affinity between the absolute and the instant, each drinks from the other's wellspring...
- Yves Bonnefoy


Participation - that's what's going to save the human race
- Pete Seeger




in the sweepstakes of lies
some of us are already losing
get the green card first
groceries can come later

the plum and cherry
are both out today
a fragrance that says
it's the second day of spring


- ALAN CHONG LAU, More Days In Produce : privately printed for Alan on his 60th b'day, in an edition of 150, where original art by the author sports the cover ~ pretty cool.


FIGURES & FIGURATIONS, Octavio Paz, Marie Jose Paz, trans. Eliot Weinberger (New Directions) the artist and her husband tango, the translator always has the music

STAGOLEE SHOT BILLY, Cecil Brown (Harvard) 'What does the (Stagolee) song say exactly?. . . It says no man gains immortality thru public domain.'
Bob Dylan

ROCK ART IN NEW MEXICO, Polly Schaafsma, with photographs by Karl Kernberger & Curtis Schaafsma (New Mexico) the ancients everlasting graffiti

THREE GENERATIONS OF ABSTRACT PAINTING, Alice Trumball Mason, Emily Mason, Cecily Kahn (Hunter College) the good influence of Wolf Khan isn't out of the picture

(Centre for Stewardship, Falkland)
Thomas A Clark (Moschatel Press) leave it to Scotland's maestro to put us in touch

HENRY HIKES TO FITCHBURG, D.B. Johnson (Houghton Mifflin) Henry David Thoreau that is

WAX POETICS ANTHOLOGY, Vol. One (waxpoeticsbooks.com): deep into the groove of crate-digging culture, from jazz legends, funk masters, djs, true soul, and hip-hop, here are some of the best of interviews, stories and articles from Wax Poetics issues starting from December 2001.


is fundamentally sound.

War permanent, land-sky-ocean-depletion, too.

The recession
is fundamentally sound.


- MICHAEL MAURI The Recession Is Fundamentally Sound (Recession Editions Press, [email protected] / 99cents, "Get a penny in change!") forester & poet Mike Mauri puts a tag on the nation tree.


BLOOD DAZZLER, Patricia Smith (Coffee House) in revolutionary times - and if we're living right, we're always in revolutionary times - it calls for certain poets to be those legislators, those journalists with a rhyme and reason, those folk who can show up and be involved-janey on the spot, that's Patricia Smith. Here she is, a whole book, in the Crescent City and blowing as hard as Katrina.



This is my house.
This was my grandfather's house.
This is my thin wood, spidered pane.
These are my cobwebs, my four walls,
my silverfish, my bold roaches.
I bury my hands in that little garden,
cool them in the broken earth.
My food comes from my garden.
At my table, I slice the peppers,
seed the tomatoes, chop mint,
rip bitter green into wooden bowls.
The tiny pine table is my whole kitchen,
daddy's legacy, my certain warm nurture.
I dream loud in this house. I pull my bed
down from that wall, and I fall to my knees
next to it to question his shelter.
I sleep while a limp breeze dies at the window,
waking to dawn tangled with my dust.
This is my house.

Let's step out into the stream,
sip new breath from a Mason jar,
find a sleeping rhythm for our chairs.
Let's wait patiently for the rain.
That blistered sky has learned my days
and hates me for everything I have. As it should.



Andrei Codrescu, is now a veteran of sorts of New Orleans and has his own savvy poems and addressings: Jealous Witness (Coffee House). Unlike Patricia Smith - visiting and seeing the drowning city fiercely, instinctively - Codrescu is one more in a line of hipsters writing clever twists of a line. We're piled to the ceiling with this poetry, good as it often is, but give me Patricia Smith, George Oppen, Lorine Niedecker, Amiri Baraka: eye level participants, moving back and forth themselves, while honing on life's stone, a sharp edge.


(DVD) The Power of Song, Pete Seeger - he's been around so long, doing amazingly consistent brotherhood work locally and worldwide, that we all have sort of taken him for granted. Well, I broke down watching and listening to this film of patriotism and spirit. It didn't happen until the very end of the film with the song "Bring'em Home". Like millions, I've been working a very long time, war after war, and scurrilous nonleader after nonleader, wanting the earth and sky to be what it was meant to be, our mother. And this is one of the guys that showed the very way. Giving his last few molecules of "I".



I'm standing outside Jakie Wirths on Stuart Street under the big watch there, having just had a bratwurst and a couple of house darks. A bum slides up says Recite you a poem fer a buck. I wave him off but he's at my heels and already started. "Anyone lives in a pretty how town" and I join in "With up so floating many bells down." I stop to face him as we finish together. You owe me a buck, he says. Like hell I says, I did it with you word for word and I did it better, you owe me.

Just for the hell of it I says Do me a Dylan Thomas, thinking that'll stump him, but he launches into "Do not go gentle into that good night" as he follows me down Stuart. I stop him saying No that's not my favorite, hows about Fern Hill. He really gets into it more eloquent with each line and we finish together. "Time held me green and dying, Though I sang in my chains like the sea." I gave him his dollar.

-DUDLEY LAUFMAN, Behind the Beat (Pudding House Publications, 81 Shadymere Lane, Columbus Ohio 43213 / www.puddinghouse.com)

Dudley Laufman once came to our town with Jacqueline and their two fiddles and together with Greg Joly and me we all read poems and sang a little and burned some fiddle tunes by these two down into the autumnal harvest sidewalk beat and it was on that day we probably earned more money ever in a two-year cycle of street readings for drowning New Orleans. Hearing a fiddle will do it every time, especially on a work week day and who are these birds? Dudley has been playing fiddle at contra dances all over New England, throughout the country, parts of the world. He was there playing fiddle when Dylan went electric at Newport; ain't that something.


THE LAST WILD WOLVES, Ghosts of the rain forest, Ian McAllister (U California Press, Berkeley) : the cover shot will stop you in your tracks, and there is a DVD to add more to the whole package, while the writing and photographs of McAllister are about as thoroughly wild and still accurately refined as any you will find in this day. One can't help but think of the great Richard Nelson's own work in the field. McAllister's field is the barren hallelujah of Canada's North Pacific coast, where he observed over a 17 year time period more than forty wolf packs. As Susan said when I turned the book to her to see one of the photographs, "I've never seen a shot of a wolf swimming". These wolves are genetically distinct, adapting to the coastal prey (salmon etc) and moving from watery course island to island. With raven, orca and bear. I've never read a book like it.


LESSON LEARNED, love poems, Finn Wilcox (Tangram) with a passage from the Bible on the one hand - Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love (I John 4:8) and a few lines from Warren Zevon on the facing page They say love conquers all / you can't start it like a car / you can't stop it with a gun - Finn Wilcox picks up his stride


for Shi

The child is sleeping.
His bed is covered in moonlight.
The small body glows
as if a lamp burned inside.
Moths gather
to dance their wild silence
above his head,
into the dream,
like smoke
through a single string of light.



(DVD) TWENTY-FOUR EYES ( 1952. dir: Tadashi Imai/ Keisuke Kinoshita ) though a greatly idealized piece, still one of the most thoughtful films ever made. From the novel by Sakae Tsuboi published in 1952. One follows the life passages of young teacher Hisako Oishi and her twelve students (the twenty-four eyes) through the rise of all their lives and Japanese history (the arrival of western ways, militarism, wars) - all starting in April 1928 on this island of the Inland Sea, populated with poor farmers and fishermen, and some remarkable children who learn a love for learning.



The rain coming down in winter
when I was younger -
say by twenty years - hits the stones
in what seemed then like a sexual manner,
as though its cold ran through my bones.

Now, the room is warmer,
and my bones, too, are no longer
what they were - or even, in places, my own.
The inner seems both less and more
within, and the moments are hours

in which what was and is is sewn.

- PETER COLE, Things On Which I've Stumbled (New Directions 2008)


ALMOST UTOPIA, The Residents and Radicals of Pikes Falls, Vermont, 1950. Photographs by Rebecca Lepkoff. Text by Greg Joly (Vermont Historical Society 2008): there will always be people who are termed 'different' - here's a whole book of them - and I believe it will become a quiet classic all its own. Great books are sometimes made as if from flesh filling some vacancy asking for them, or a place or space and often a need, and this is one such book. Its subject hasn't been quite documented before and it's dealing with an endangered species - communitarian homesteaders in the southern Green Mountains of Vermont at the dawn of the Korean War. A time in Vermont before paved roads, Ben & Jerry's, and even hippies. The stalwart team of Scott & Helen Nearing have already practiced their homestead craft here for a good twenty years and in fact are the catnip attraction for this new leg of rough & ready back-to-landers, war resisters and dreamers. Without breathing a word Rebecca Lepkoff's delicately wrought black & white photographs will tell a tale of oil and water between the natives (residents) and the radicals. These photographs are as fine and defined and situated as any Walker Evans ever snapped working with James Agee, and that's saying something. The finest portrait photograph of Scott Nearing you'll ever see, and he's smiling nevermind, is in this book. I've strolled through a few bookstores and have spotted this unique album on display amongst other clutter, and each time the appearance of Ruth Stark's photograph, in galvanized black & white, walking toward me strong-arming not one but two hardback chairs, has me stop and look deeper. The tarpaper shack, rusted stovepipe, shoddy roof, variance of paint and trim, rugged grass, and a woman in floral dress with a boxer's gaze. What's not to like? so come hither. Here's how Greg Joly invites us in and acutely describes the terrain: "Almost Utopia presents a photographic portrait of one Vermont community poised on the edge of modernity: It's the summer of 1950, the Pike's Falls neighborhood of Jamaica in the southern Green Mountains. Rebecca Lepkoff, a New York photographer, is drawn to this place by the presence of idealistic back-to-the-landers gathered around the Forest farm experiment of long-time radical thinker and political dissident Scott Nearing and his new wife, Helen Knothe. She proceeds to take pictures of everything she sees." I love a book that cuts to the chase and then works patiently at unwinding the spool with brilliant photographs and a crisp, knowledgeable text. One gets the feeling that Rebecca and Greg are most at home with the radicals and love it when they can spend some time with the residents, who barely pay them any mind. You see, you truly can't get there from here. But Lepkoff, miraculously, does catch the elixir in one photograph, untitled of course, frontispiece to the opening chapter "Upon This Foundation". If you know anything, you'll know this when you see it.

Bob Arnold
28 August 08



Once in Vermont

Once In Vermont

Bob Arnold

On Stone, a builder's notebook

Bob Arnold

Anerican Train Letters

Bob Arnold

A Treasury of Books by Bob Arnold including selections from his work (PDF edition)

Click here for PDF file

Click here for HTML Catalog


Buy Now! through Paypal for mailing within the US! Easy links:


A book of tools & building, father with son

Bob Arnold, Sunswumthru A Building @ $15 (+ s/h)


Cid Corman

The Next One Thousand Years, the Selected Poems of Cid Corman @ $16.95 (+ s/h)



Amargosa Music CD @ $8 (+ s/h)

Carson Arnold

Luke Q. Stafford

Josh Steele


Origin, Sixth Series edited by Bob Arnold ~ the complete 5 issues now available on CD-ROM @ $20 (+s/h) (for information link to Origin) or

e-book: 1700 pages and 250 poets & artists





Janine Pommy Vega, Across the Table


A Can't Stop The River Production

Music & Poetry CD

$20.00 (+s/h)




Link to our Bookshop

New Arrivals to our Bookshop


Longhouse 2008 Publications

Visit Here for Details


Andrew Schelling

Andrew Schelling, Lal Ded, b. 1320, Kashmir

Whit Griffin


Thomas A Clark


Michael Mauri

Lars Amund Vaage

Gerald Hausman

Hanne Bramness

Bob Arnold

Andrew Schelling



Nicolas Born, translations by Mark Terrill


 Mark Terrill


Forrest Gander, translations


Hoa Nguyen



 Bob Arnold


 Mariah Fox


Dale Smith


 Walter Franceschi


Peter Lamborn Wilson, translations



J. P. Seaton, translations


 Simon Pettet


 Anne Waldman



Jacket Magazine Interview with Bob by Gerald Hausman


Longhouse's BIBLIOGRAPHY 1971-2007! complete with editor Bob Arnold's annotations and a galaxy of press title images. Please visit! A 'continuing chalkboard' :

newLonghouse Bibliography Part Three ~ 2007

new A Longhouse Photo Album 1974 ~ 2007


Bibliography Part One 1971 - 1989 and Bibliography Part Two 1990 - 2006




or browse our catalogs by scrolling below 



The Residents and Radicals of Pikes Falls, Vermont, 1950

Greg Joly & Rebecca Lepkoff

Two Continents

Lyle Glazier

Old Tale Road

Andrew Schelling

Here Among the Sacrificed

Finn Wilcox

photos by Steven R. Johnson



Mike O'Connor


the recession is fundamentally sound

Michael Mauri



Born of A Dream

Cid Corman, translator




Cid Corman

essays on Zukofsky



Between Your House and Mine

Lorine Niedecker

the letters of Cid Corman ~ Lorine Niedecker



Back Roads to Far Towns


translated by Cid Corman & Kamaike Susumu


The Granite Pail

Lorine Niedecker

From Near the Great Pine

Theodore Enslin

Spiritual Necessity

Frank Samperi

the selected poems edited by John Martone

The Basin

poems & translations

Mike O'Connor

Coyote's Journal 12

edited by James Koller


Coyote's Journal 11

edited by James Koller

Like It Was

(w/photographs by Zoe Brown)

James Koller

Complete w/tongue

Charlie Mehrhoff

Voices Under the Harvest Moon

An Anthology of Writing from East Correctional Facility

edited by Janine Pommy Vega



Heart Matters

Jonathan Greene



or browse our catalogs by scrolling below 

Other Woodburners from 2007

Other Woodburnersfrom 2006

Other Woodburnersfrom 2005

Other Woodburnersfrom 2004

Other Woodburnersfrom 2003

Earlier Woodburner Reviewsfrom 2002


Home / About Longhouse / Catalogs / Reviews and Resources / Contact Us/To Order / Write Us


 Link for these books!


 Link for these books!







Bruce Conner
George Carlin
Tasha Tudor
Artie Traum


I lost my farm when times were good !
-Dick Gregory


(mainly in the hospital with Susan - more on this in Camp IV, forthcoming)


Roads run forever
Under feet forever
Falling away
Yet, it may happen that you
Come to the same place again
Stay! you could not do
Anything more certain -
Here you can wait forever
And rejoice at your arrival



Pity us
by the sea
on the sands
so briefly



The hollow of morning
Holds my soul still
As water in a jar

Samuel Menashe


COLLECTED POEMS, Samuel Menashe (National Poetry Foundation)

THE DISAPPOINTED ARTIST, Jonathan Lethem (Vintage)

AS A FRIEND, Forrest Gander (New Directions)

VOICES OF THE CHICAGO EIGHT, Tom Hayden, Ron Sossi, Frank Condon (City Lights)


INVOLUNTARY LYRICS, Aaron Shurin (Omnidawn)

POETICAL SKETCHES, William Blake (Tate)

BOOKS, a Memoir, Larry McMurtry (Simon & Schuster)

DREAMING UP AMERICA, Russell Banks (Seven Stories)

POEMS OF STEPHEN CRANE, woodcuts by Nonny Hogrogian (Crowell)


FOR LOVE OF THE DARK ONE, Songs of Mirabai, translated by Andrew Schelling (Shambhala)


Friend, I see
only the Dark One -
a dark swelling,
dark luster,
I'm fixed in trances of darkness.
Wherever my feet
touch soil I am dancing -
Oh Mira sees into the darkness,
she ambles the back
country roads.



~ B o b A r n o l d 22 July 08


A Longhouse Reader Summer 2008


Here are recent recent publications from Longhouse with a fine sampling I highly recommend -

Click here: A Longhouse Reader Summer 2008





Bo Diddley

Bruce "Utah" Phillips

Robert Rauschenberg

David Gahr

Michael Rossman

Alton Kelley

Tim Russert

Paula Gunn Allen



Only the haters seem alive

- Herman Melville


Don't trust nobody but your mama. And even then, look at her real good.
- Bo Diddley


Here is a thing my heart wishes the world had more of:
I heard it in the air of one night when I listened
To a mother singing softly to a child restless and angry in the darkness.
- Carl Sandburg

The present period of history is one of the wall. When the Berlin one fell, the prepared plans to build walls everywhere were unrolled. Concrete, bureaucratic, surveillance, security, racist walls. Everywhere the walls separate the desperate poor from those who hope against hope to stay relatively rich. The walls cross every sphere, from crop cultivation to health care. They exist too, in the richest metropolises of the world. The Wall is the front line of what, long ago was called the Class War.

- John Berger, Hold Everything Dear: Dispatches on Survival and Resistance (2007)


Anything you do will be an abuse of somebody else's aesthetics. I think you're born an artist or not. I couldn't have learned it. And I hope I never do because knowing more only encourages your limitations.
- Robert Rauschenberg


Love must be reinvented.
Real life lies elsewhere.

- Pierrot Le Fou (Jean-Luc Godard)



Another one of those kindred spirits of the 60s, a great one, just passed away. Michael Rossman. His books were very important for me in the early 70s. He lived the beauty of his thought it seems straight through to the end: teaching for many years in the primary grades...when he could have easily been tucked away in the upper academia and retired elegantly. Tragically, leukemia grabbed him. Go to read about his FSM (Free speech Movement) years. People's Park. Pushing at teaching, activism and creativity - his badges of honor amongst many others. A little buried classic is Rossman's The Wedding Within the War.


Russert is a personal loss for us, we take it personally, after sticking by him for the last 20 years. One fool with his tv-set watching another fool go loyally along hard at work; how very McLuhan. Carson was raised on Russert. It's an even deeper loss for the country. He was one of the last men in power from the William O Douglas school of thought and mechanics. Cuomo was another, and Bill Clinton was not, just to show the difference. Obama has a bit of that black magic, too, but even more: William Douglas mixed with Frederick Douglass! I like it. I'm convinced Russert was living for the day to see Obama make it. I'm terribly sad for him there, and even sadder for his tidy and loved family nest, which he somehow squeaked out despite his professional addictions.


MANNERS: It's too bad what has happened to America, or else it's a certain truth staring us in the face - whether shoddy NBA playoffs where once upon a time the very best came to play, raising the sporting life temperatures of whole cities. Now we're damn lucky to get one player for the Celtics (Ray Allen) playing a consistent game, and Kobe Bryant haunted by the fact he is no Michael Jordan, and never will be. If any of the fans are like me, and plenty are, they feel many of these games are as fixed as a price tag at Wal-Mart: it's just companies at work now. The Kings/Lakers championship of 02 was proof enough for me. The monster that came into the NBA, Shaquille O' Neal, about ruined any decency on and off the court hard fought and earned through civil-rights by the likes of Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson, Julius Erving and many others. Michael Jordan is the best basketball player the world will ever see; Hank Aaron knocked out of the park the most homeruns with his own arms, smarts, and no steroids, and Walter Payton had to be one of the toughest football players who just came to play. No hotdog like Rodman (forgotten), Barkley (loud & wide) or Paul Pierce who seems to only know how to play at-home. It's goddamn discouraging just how many whiners and loud mouths we have at the forefront 24-7. The media are about the only ones with steady work and pay telling us every minute just how lousy the world is. This is the same media who were embedded with both Iraq Wars, and if we're real stupid, we'll have a third Ira(q)n War with John McCain. Do take a careful look at McCain when he attempts to make a speech these days: between his arrogance and smirks, plus the patronizing tone about Barack Obama, you're looking at an almost perfect physical resemblance if Bush and Cheney were hopelessly blended. I know a certain loved one who thinks in no-nonsense terms, like one of those dreamy death-valley-days mules, that McCain will be far worse in power than anyone we've ever seen in power. Ever. Anywhere. Notice given.



Dear John,

That ordinary fool just made another visit in Saturday morning mail. A special day of mail, when the day somehow seems more at ease for everyone, starting with the postal carrier Vera giving a wave from her jeep. A jeep rattled now to pieces having to put up with this back road of severe pot holes and a town with a busted road grader. No fixing all spring. We're driving a river bed.

Morning at a shade above 32 degrees. Go out and look at the lettuce seedlings, they're cowering but hanging with us. On the way home from town today we stopped in on a couple and their plastic greenhouse shed to see what they might have for tomato seedlings and plants. Plants, already sixteen inches high, sold for $1 each. There may be a silver lining to the bastards and their gas and oil prices: people seem to be closing in together a little closer, almost feeling like the 70s. I figure more woodsmoke will be coming out of some chimney tops. We were gone for the first time in 5 days by car using up our $15 gas per week on sojourns to food co-ops, jobs and book sales. Hit a good one this morning, where we saw Greg.


writing in rain
it goes


This new ordinary fool has got it down...the rain poem at the end washing all away. You're getting the disappearing act down pat. Love having, and you thinking of us
all's well, Bob

& then comes another book a week later - box turtle - with this opening


look at
that cloud
thats you


when put into a shirt pocket size book, it's complete.


FILMS) - All great films are lost documentaries, is somewhat what Francois Truffaut once said...when reaching for a film to watch on dvd, don't hesitate with Takashi Miike's The Bird People in China, a definite alternate route from the gangster to video films the Japanese master has been whipsawing now for over two decades. This is a transition time for Miike, around 1998, where the physical fearlessness of the director meets the head of a poet as he plunges deep into China's rural heartland, tapped out as always in his unique blend of outsider characters, focused locales and his wildly improvisational gifts. The muddy van used in part of this film could have been one inspiration for the creators of Little Miss Sunshine. A raft pulled by dynamo river turtles will stay with you.

Would you like a hard-boiled egg, or sumthin'? Ah, Two-Lane Blacktop, Monte Hellman's burned rubber classic, and on some nights with the woods dark and the river frogs trilling, it's just the film to sit awhile with once again. Never can watch it enough. The ultimate 60s road film, better than them all (he says). Yes, better than Easy Rider, and one came to love Easy Rider. The film starts off in true-life California street racing gangs. The local characters and cars were casted along the way. No sets built, all locations real. The main characters are two drivers, a mechanic, a tag-along girl, a '55 Chevy, '70 GTO. It's serious about how main character the cars are. This wide screen beauty takes us racing, pit-stopping, mulling, teasing, zipping from California toward the autumn colors of the east coast. To ask what the film is about is to miss its point. The film was held up for decades due to the usual legal activity and rights (for the music used) since it was made on a budget of two boards a one straight nail and a whole lotta of dreaming. Maybe the king of all the 60s maverick films, hipster films, since the entire film has the same ease and go of Jack Nicholson boarding the truck in the final scene of Five Easy Pieces. Chalk that up to the magnificent completeness of a natural high probably never to be seen again in American cinema: the director Hellman after all of the 60s letting-go, plop in James Taylor, sullen, lanky, hair long and the best he's ever been smack between his Sweet Baby James era and this film - and it gets better: the mechanic is Dennis Wilson, rebel, blonde, scruffed, the most natural actor Hellman claims he ever worked with. Plus he was the only Beach Boy who looked like a beach boy and the only one who actually surfed. Rudy Wurlitzer revamped the script, which means he put the pow into the story. Laurie Bird will ever remain one of the best girl side-kicks from this era. And to add signature and heaven: Warren Oates ambles into the scenery and stays and was never better. And he's manning the GTO. No one in cinema looked as good on a horse and in a car than Warren Oates, there was always that beatific troubling about him. And as high and spontaneous as the film is - daring to be so ordinary and casual - the overall pall to the piece is to know that all the main characters of the film, except for Taylor, died young, or terribly, or both, in their real lives, which is positively haunting. What travels with beauty.

And, pick up as a third film In the Valley of Elah ( Tommy Lee Jones at his best) one of the more powerful films out of Hollywood in the last few years that the US government is quite happy sank like a stone. Better to sap the head with The Incredible Hulk than any more news from Iraq, where no matter our filled-to-the-gills on the subject, people die daily and always with our names attached. Here is a portrait on the vengeance of US military custom & justice maligning relationships - while nation building - and ruining every square inch of homes.




If you've read your Melville, reread your Melville, gone through Matthiesen's Far Tortuga and a few other well seasoned and similar modern sea novels, do pick up, as I did recently and delve into Melville, His World and Work, Andrew Delbanco (Knopf). One of the finest biographies of any American ever written, kept at 300 or so pages and never lacking for a general luster for storytelling, devoted literary friendship and academic fact. It'd be in our bookshop if I could find another copy. This one remains a keeper.


THREE CHEERS! for Lucy Ellmann in the New York Times Book Review for 8 June 08, a tidbit from Love the Ones You're With: What the hell is going on? The country that produced Melville, Twain and James now venerates King, Crichton, Grisham, Sebold and Palahniuk. Their subjects? Porn, crime, pop culture and an endless parade of out-of-body experiences. Their methods? Cliché, caricature and proto-Christian morality. Props? Corn chips, corpses, crucifixes. The agenda? Deceit: a dishonest throwing of the reader to the wolves. And the result? Readymade Hollywood scripts. No truer words.


Think of the 19th century - Whitman, Emerson, Thoreau, Lincoln, Douglass just for starters, and with that heart & soul move it into the 20th century and for what they gifted as text, Ansel Adams gave the same with photographs. The bible for such has now been released Ansel Adams 400 Photographs (Little, Brown) spanning six decades of the artist's work from Mount McKinley, to a beautiful wide-girth barn on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. A stunning development for the viewer if you can allow the time to let the pages unroll, one after the other, right before your eyes. While the majority of the portraits are breathtaking and often unimaginable, just think of the photographer's trail blazing, searching, finding, and setup for many of these shots. Winter in Yosemite is winter.


One more for the armchair sojourner: The Great Wall, from beginning to end,photographs & text by Michael Yamashita, with William Lindesay (Sterling). If Rome wasn't built in a day, the Great Wall was a mere 1800 years in the making, the last touches to this 4000 mile composite was finished off in 1620 during the Ming Dynasty. The two authors took a year with eye and mind and cameras to document their traverse, including their meeting families who live inside the wall. Termed "cave house" dwellers, supposedly a hundred million Chinese live this way. The spontaneous combustion Blackberry mind, flash Internet, should want to study the vortex of simple reeds and mud make a handmade wall, a trail, of Mongol armies and a silky route.



Dear Kim,

A back breaking full week of stonework. I used to pitch into this 12 hour days in my 20s-30s, no let up. Now I'm working 7 hour days and I do it 2 hours hard, 2 hours soft (relax, move to books etc) then back 3 more hours, then soft. Supper. Two hours until dark. My body likes me a lot more that I honor it this way. Still, the work is rough stuff: taking apart an eight foot high hillside just with a shovel. Digging out large stumps of hemlock and maple, both tall trees I cut down long ago. I believe I mentioned just what that feeling is coming back decades after cutting the tree and now tending with the stump. When I broke down the middle of the maple stump, a huge tree that I felled into the front yard with ropes and our truck, always tingly, Susan cried after the stump as I tossed it over the river bank "goodbye maple!" She has lived with all these trees as much as I have.

Breaking into the hillside and up, only with a shovel, I laid in a stone walkway of 15 prize stones. I found those way up in the woodlot with my handcart. I can get the handcart just to the bottom of the hillside and then climb to the old stone walls up there and find what I need, wheel those monsters to a chuting-range, and start to roll the stones down the hill. Some are kind and actually wheel all the way down like a menace outrage. Others I have to flip over and over again down the bank, then onto the handcart, then back out of the woods and into the long yard and down to the front of the yard and along the road. Lay that rock in. Shim it up. Go back for another one. After four days of this I have it all done. I even moved a stone seat I had tucked up in the woods which has become less used by us and brought that home to a better vista looking right over the river. This was a stone, of many, beautifully flat that Harvey Cutting (road commissioner) gave to me when he was down here in the river valley working once with his small crew in the 70s. They were busting up the old stone culverts that passed under the road for rain and wash-off. These were virtual ancient pieces of hand-work, long before metal or hard plastic culverts now in use for decades...when water was passed under the road by heavy stone culvert caves stacked into place by men and horses or oxen. Harvey dug these up and replaced the old with the new (metal) and came to me with his bucketloader filled with ton heavy rocks. Fool and young as I was, and maybe they were laughing behind my back, I moved every one of these players with my wheelbarrow. Some were the size almost, as I think of it now, of a VW bug hood! since that was our car of choice and situation all through the 70s. I know where every one of these stone seats are, and a few are movable if I wish to re-situate, like yesterday with this suggestion Susan had of moving a seat to this new locale. As good as done. Deep in a flock of myrtle now, overlooking the river.



John Brandi : Staff in hand / Wind in pines (Tangram, Berkeley, CA 2008)

the mourners, a child
blowing a bubble.




The boatman
talking with his hands
steering with his feet.




Reciting her vows
the bride's shape
through her gown.



this is but a speckle of poems selected from a full night of poem-stars in this new book, hand-sewn. Maybe long gone by now from the everlasting free-spirit of Jerry Reddan's press.







The poem shines the saw. I don't know it
by heart. The spit is merry and embraced.,
soaked with bast. The white one wants, the dowry
wants, you climb and hurtle on spikes.
In front of Agnes Martin's canvas (Pace
Wildenstein) I came across two
dervishes. They were Turks. They had
hair combed like a black apple.
Are white caps humble?
Isn't the strike the sun brings on beams
(laid down with force) too dangerous?
I kiss the earth. Deepen the air
and dust. I shift gears
and stand up. Lapis lazuli blots me.

- Tomaz Salamun, Woods and Chalices (Harcourt)


Around all the poetry read, I've also had my face half covered in kerchief while immersed reading two enriched and rebellious new books from City Lights (www.citylights.com) and I always say aloud, thank goodness for City Lights! The Fire & The Word, a history of the Zapatista Movement, Gloria Munoz Ramirez and The Speed of Dreams, selected writings 2001-2007, Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos: Capitalism is most interested in commodities, because when goods are bought or sold, profits are made. And so capitalism turns everything into merchandise; it makes merchandise of people, of nature, of culture, of history, of conscience. According to capitalism, everything must be able to be bought and sold. It hides behind the merchandise, so we don't see the exploitation that exists. The merchandise is bought and sold in a market, and the market, in addition to being used for buying and selling, is also used to hide the exploitation of the workers.


Back to poetry of thought - breeze awhile through Active Boundaries, selected essays and talks by Michael Palmer (New Directions) a finely tuned activist mind at work here, gliding through an open letter to Walt (Whitman) or honoring Bei Dao, then tangling awhile in poetry obligations, eyeing into Jess's art, working the unsayable, Danish notebooks, a book length achieved meditation on poetry and life shared as memoir. I always like a poet who puts more than his two-cents down. There is plenty here, and what is concealed, may or may not come with time. This book is rarity in our times.


As is, The Road Washes Out in Spring, Baron Wormser (New England) a quarter century long family story in outback Maine, off the grid, making-do, keeping it together with hardwork, growing their food, drawing their water, chopping their wood. One of the oldest tales in the big book of subsistence life. Struggling at coming to terms with wild differences of neighbors and lifestyles and cultures, Wormser makes from real mud quite a yarn, from already a literary heritage of back to the land flop books. This one has a difference. He comes with nothing to prove, no excuses much, barely a drop of sensational glow, and no detectable machinery of being O so wise after the fact. It's wisdom writing, take a look: My engagement may have been little more than a higher form of escapism. Skowhegan, Maine wasn't Paris, Rome, or London. As people around me grunted various monosyllables of semi-communication, the Jamesian penchant for talking in elaborate, complete sentences seemed not so much outmoded as extraterrestrial. What would the Master have made of the buzzing fluorescent lights, the badly worn linoleum, the stray rumpled notices tacked up for collie puppies or child care or seasoned cord wood, the pamphlets left by Jehovah's Witness, the glowing pinball machine featuring Double 07 or Charlie's Angels? Henry James had a hard enough time looking at the raw, immigrant America of the early twentieth century. All those marvelous adjectives and discriminations spoke for a more long-standing rarified air than what passed for oxygen in the Laundromat. He had been a glutton for civilization. Someone did his laundry; someone starched, ironed, folded, and stowed it. I could appreciate that work.


Michael Mauri is a free-lance forester friend who works out of South Deerfield, Massachusetts. He can be reached at [email protected]. We haven't met yet, which neither of us can help, it's a long walk through the woods. His three books of poems are North Central (2000) not the Lorine Niedecker version, Mike's version; Mud Flaps (2006), and Any Timber? (2008) which can be had for '99 cents from Recession Editions Press, get a penny in change!' Here's a bit from that palm-size old town good book


It's almost spring, now, though,
but not in the tall heaps of snow
by the side of the road
where upright hominids have activted
creeping from obscurity to cut lengths of wood
to fend off biology's fear, bodily, of cold winter's reality:
green wood, tree-fall wood, blow-down wood,
wet wood, branch-wood,
hardwood, softwood, any-wood:
wood, wood, wood;
cut it today and lug it out
from the land
on your shoulder
throw it in the stove
burn it tonight when it's dark and cold


Sure it'll spit, steam, smoke, sputter and smolder,
but that's no reason, hey.




WOOD/ OIL This 'testing' of woodchoppers I don't know about. I size up a worker by his eye and good word and tools, then stick with him. I hope you can. As you know, I have chopped logs, firewood and been hired as a chopper for many many years. I even sold cordwood for a time after I was hired to chop it and stack it and then a buyer came for it. No delivery from the guy who rides only a bicycle! But I do know the ins & outs of the kingdom, and it has become expensive for every woodchuck with a saw and a grubby truck: the saws are expensive, the work is dangerous, the diesel and gas is demoralizing, the headaches of pay and delivery is demeaning etc. Nothing compared to the slippery eels that own the petroleum product and just raise the ante day by day and slip their toes, to trail in the toasty sea waters, off a corruptible corporate yacht. All they're after is more and more land to exploit and own and drill, and the public's insatiable appetite to fly and drive-big and feast and party is giving it all to them.



It takes a little over an hour to reread Trip Trap, and what an hour it is, after decades away. The story of how Jack Kerouac got driven home by Lew Welch 3000 miles west to east. The great Albert Saijo came along for the ride, rode a lot on the mattress at the back of the Willy jeepster and looked out at America. Saw that white horse standing in an abandoned store front. Immediate poem. Everyone kept a notebook and haiku of sorts was written down, mostly by Welch. Kerouac is the famous one at this time (1959) but he'll be ever impressed and say so about Welch and Saijo, who both have remarkable prose recollections in this slim book, with lines by Saijo like, "I'll never forget the beauty of his easy tears when he spoke of pathetic things" describing his friend Lew Welch. Or Welch admitting, "So I walked away again. I do that. I just walk completely away and never come back." No kidding - a good dozen years later he'd do just that. Some are still waiting for his return.


I have dissolved
the bean
under my tongue
(and then say
no more)



The deer come and eat the hosta plants just as the plant is vibrant and leaf large catching rain. Down to nubs. Not with high powered rifle or even .22 we shoot pellet gun into hide to sting them off. Deer run off, white tail flashing. Everyone needs to be reminded - gently, lovingly, or with a pinch.



If you don't believe an anthology can be produced in America, post-political correctness and the overwhelming pretense that is now packaged with everything, hedsup to the new and double size version of Working the Woods, Working the Sea (an anthology of northwest writings) edited by Finn Wilcox & Jerry Gorsline (Empty Bowl, 535 Reed St., Port Townsend, WA. 98368) that shows forth a wholeness in folk literature with an integrity of theme and origins. While there is a Language Poetry, may it be known there has always been Another Language, of earth and sky. This book has been a long term companion in my travels for well over 20 years. It's first printing out of the Pacific Rim district, from the working hands of poets and treeplanters and storytellers and artists and just plain good folk, went with me once to a private school meeting of English teachers and their chairman wondering just what books I might interest them in to wrap their arms around for their students to read in the years to come. This anthology remains a beauty, though the original was sleek and tall and packed with sinew muscle, plus a flexible recording came in the back pages. Nice touch. It was a corker. Immediately suspicious looking to the mainstream teacher, and wonderfully 'different' to the novice teacher, young soapsuds in his eyes and words. He'd buy a copy for himself, he promised, even if the school never latched onto the book. And they didn't; nor the prison letters of George Jackson, or the longshoreman work journal of Eric Hoffer, or the day in the life poems California Joanne Kyger. Hit and misses, hit and misses. So when Empty Bowl sent me their new version of the Working the Woods... it was not only an old friend come around, but a press who benevolently has always stood its ground, with poets and writers to match. Some famous names, and some who will be famous long after the famous are forgotten. These are real stories and songs and tales from working minds, stout human beings, as fine as you or me.


Andrew Schelling came by today to share a cold glass of lemonade, two hours of talk in the shade of the apple tree, 90 degrees at noon and I was finishing up transplanting more daylilies on the west hillside and there came Andrew in his brother's borrowed car, asking directions from someone two miles up river if he was on the right course to get to us. "His head was shaved, he looked like a convict", Andrew smiled, "of course he knew you." Andrew is in these parts to visit with family, see some friends like us, and head north to Orono to take part in a panel discussion on 70s small press in America. He's determined to get a word in that sticks like glue on the real worlds of enthnopoetics, Coyote's Journal, many a press that sprung out of tree leaves and compost and gristle, all around old America when it used to lick stamps and crank a mimeograph machine. We put our heads together momentarily on the subject, still living it daily, so what's the point? Unplanned and one with each moment we give one another special books and little folders and readings to stay nourished on the trip ahead or staying home, turning the ground, watering plants with a bucket from the pond.
Go ahead, friend.


And, finally, or I'll never shut the hatch door on this Woodburners (good things come in daily) just in today the long thread sewn copies of Wired Scripture and il vuoto, il vento, la pioggia by the international ensemble of Rita Degli Esposti, Coco Gordon, John Gian, Anne Waldman. In English and Italian, in no more than 75 copies, nothing stops Erudite Fangs Editions (Wired Scripture) of Boulder, Co., even the open road where it teams up with its compadre Edizioninedite (il vuoto...).floating one in the body one in the mind. Erudite Fangs Editions/375 S. 45th St Boulder, Co. 80305. USA; Edizioninedite/Venezia/Primavera Italy


MUSIC: P E  T  E  R     G  A  R  L  A  N  D     & 

O  N  L  Y     P  E  T  E  R     G  A  R  L  A  N  D
Just like the day, I listen to the composer Peter Garland's work much as I listen to the titmouse, one with the morning, through the afternoon, a quieting by twilight, then a barred owl may creep in, muffled in the damp woods. Or clear as bell as the stars rise. Garland's music, the very best of it often performed by Aki Takahashi, can be running all through the day. Hardly background sound, if there is such a thing, but by the sound. What often resounds through Garland is what he admits to - a depth potion of Charles Olson's "I have had to learn the simplest things last" from Maximus, to Himself...I'd look closely at the use of the word had and know one will be coming to an inventor a maker a craft that will be showing the patina of woodworking - poetry or music of the grain shown, the very wood, the growth rings, and the substance of say a handrail, a box drawer dovetailed, a warm and wide wood built kitchen table to make friends around. Garland composes with just this instance and just the long-haul...so his compositions may run easily by and by with the day sounds, as do many of the composers who he is often tagged with: Partch, Cage, Lou Harrison. His biography is often right out in the open: travels far and wide: Bali, Europe, Mexico, the American west, the Maine sea shore (where he was born) and so are the struggles or highlife of loves, losses and gains. Like Emerson, like Ives, like woods run stonewalls of New England, Garland is one more of the unique native sons, though he would cringe on the thought after his earned developments elsewhere. But make no mistake of his direct action and caliber: on the first chord are many beginnings. His lust for literature and music - text is sound - wraps him around many of the poets and seekers of the twentieth century as Olson and Jaime de Angulo are but two fascinating critters in a long list of influences and collaborators. Go search out his publication Soundings since no issue, none, was less than fascinating. In the early morning I might play Roscoe Holcomb, doors and windows wide open, river with me, and followed by Peter Garland (right now Border Music) and then some silence. No, wait, hear that? that's the catbird calling back.

On my listening table all spring: Peter Garland: Border Music (What Next? Recordings); Another Silence (Mode); Walk in Beauty (New Albion Records); The Days Run Away (Tzadik); Love Songs (Tzadik).


B o b A r n o l d 14 June 08



The only way in which any one can lead us is to restore to us the belief in our own guidance. The greatest men have always reaffirmed this thought. But the men who dazzle us and lead us astray are the men who promise us those things which no man can honestly promise another - namely safety, security, peace, etc. And the most deceptive of all such promisers are those who bid us kill one another in order to attain the fictive goal.


         E          N          R          Y                M          I          L          L          E          R








                                                                                                                                                                                                                     giving a loose to my soul



We saw Hayden Carruth yesterday at Marlboro College - probably the sorriest human animal I've seen in quite awhile. But don't get yourself too upset - it's one naturalist looking upon another naturalist. Wheelchair, tubes to his nose, oxygen gasps to get him to speak, his eyes all cockeyed from lord knows what. He throws his head back slowly to look at me with one eye that bobbles for clarity as if an old pirate, then he bellows, "That you, Bob?" What hair is left, down to his shoulders.

He forgets a name told to him after a few seconds. Otherwise, his long term memory rivals an elephant. Or a carving into a beech tree.

He confuses a roving reminiscence of one writer friend with the next ( Raymond Carver slipping into Edward Hoagland ) showing he has passionate memories that flood his senses and nerves. 87 years long.

He told Susan she has "always been a gem".

When I put down my copy of Hayden's book For You to sign (he signs nearly blind, almost like swinging a small sword; I have to fingertip point where to attach the pen) he stops a moment and asks, "Did I write a book called For You?"

If he wasn't such a survivalist it would be sad, tragic, but here he has come all this way to prove the gods wrong. Just applaud him one more time.

He received three deserving standing ovations at this round assembly of over 75 people. Some were old acquaintances we knew from up north - folks Hayden had once introduced us to. Others were readers, neighbors or academics from this college, and it was that world Carruth knew after he left Vermont almost 30 years ago. He's reading his poetry off a book that is projected onto a screen in large point type. He has a helper sitting beside him maneuvering the book so it can all project onto the small screen so he can read. Being Hayden - both crusty and curious - he stops a moment and asks the helper beside him what his name is. The man answers. Hayden reads another poem. He asks the kind man again what his name is. Robert Frost would have never been able to do this so blind, so he stopped, or read and rowed from his heart.

Hayden is revealing his work, himself, the very instant. Most humans aren't ready ever for the latter, but it is the crux of many of the ancient Chinese poems Hayden loves. He steered close to the very instant as a poet, but he always practiced it as a man. He worked hard in his fragile health a few years ago to read in manuscript my book on tools and offered a lengthy and pithy commentary, along with lavishing praise and harsh criticism I took in stride while polishing up the book to get it ready for publication.

What I wasn't comfortable with was his sometime resentment of others' lives - the fact I had a son who worked with me at hand labor and a woman who loved me and we made a family that worked out in the wood. All the things Hayden wanted for himself in Vermont. A man of disappointments and some bitterness and he shared that bitterness onto me in strange ways. I saw it in the blink of an eye when I met his wife, finally, the one he married some years ago who is now Susan's age. His second wife Rose Marie was at the reading too, shy and hard working, Polish and the poet's wife out in the wilderness who raised a son with Hayden and did all the dirty laundry. She came to visit us when they were breaking up long ago. She cut my hair. Slept in our cabin as our guest. She recalled it all like a far off fantasy land when she was describing it to us yesterday during the reading. Imagine. She wasn't even sure if she was invited to the reception after the reading. And I already knew by the look from a certain someone that Susan and I weren't invited at all. The literary mafioso had made their decision.

Ah, once upon a time we had good visits and overnight sleep-overs from Hayden. He slept on the floor of my library and read Bakunin to get himself to sleep. He once returned from France with his manuscript fresh on white pages of his next book The Sleeping Beauty and asked us if he could read the whole thing to us by lamp light in our leaf size cabin in the wood. He would have tried to steal any sleeping beauty in a heartbeat during his cavalier girlfriend time between marriages, but I knew wise and stylish ones that already knew a poetry of love and loyalty.

At the Marlboro reading we brought fifteen books by Hayden for him to sign. It certainly seemed excessive, but we could have brought thirty, and when he used to visit us he always looked forward to sign whatever we had on hand. I chatted with him before his reading and asked if he was up to signing a pile afterwards. "No problem, I brought my special pen," lifting it with a little smile like a wet dipstick for me to see. Ever the elegant ruffian. So while he signed the books, animated between joyful and grumpy, we visited like always and pretty much said goodbye.


Bob Arnold 5 May 08



one burner hot plate



Often situations evolve and move into position or even into a corner and reveal a truth. Like ooze leveling.

This has now happened with the Clintons. But they won't alter their break neck personal indecency for anything, short of something better and better coming their way. Between the white house Punk and the Clintons we get the very worse nightmare of sixties spoiled brats rolled into one doobie. Lucky us.

If Hillarious sees nothing better than her own image and career going forward, then she will plow forward, reckless all the way. B. Clinton has already shown he is of the same cloth. He fed right into the right wings hands back in the 90s; and learning from their mistakes, his wife now works like the right wing adopting all their tricks and zeal for private justice, and will burn on the civil war road to hell just like General Sherman, clunky wagon wheels and all.

It means nothing to them that it is destroying their party since this party has since parted down the middle against them in their actions from the 90s. Kennedy, Kerry, Dodd, Richardson, McGovern, soon Gore etc. all the pillars of the righteous liberal party want them gone and kid Obama put into gear since he has a ton of work to do to bring back a bipartisan Democratic party, which he had in-tow back with Iowa, and has since lost to the Clinton rat pack medicine show. It's amazing how racism shows itself right and left of the center aisle.

Of course, the Clintons could also try being team players and begin working for Obama, while easing their way away the next few weeks of campaigning, and coalescing their supporters with Obama and possibly saving some of the planet. Just a thought.

And what is it about West Virginia that the Clinton machine seems to have it all sewn up for this Tuesday? Is it really a state of elderly women voters who believe a nasty woman 'fighter' is the way to run the world? Or more of those ornery white-folk who believe 'Obama is a Muslim'? I took a slow train ride once through Harper's Ferry (John Brown rise up) and I know it's in West Virginia...where the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers abide.

While this is going on, groundhog McCain is shifting into those centrist liberal camps and meeting with black and Hispanic communities, while advocating for right wing Supreme Court judges...so by the summer he should have a ragbag battalion that is everything from soup to nuts: right wing to liberal and thus sponsoring a sort of koolaid Obama mixture, with a sprig of Clinton and patched together maverick McCain all the way. He's running from the WMD Punk, too. The audience has become quite agile and agreeable with this folksy liar and his promises, allowing trouble for honest Barack....who is exhausted, anyway, from tangling in the pucker brush for months with the viperous Clintons.

It's time for the super delegates to get up off their partisan fat asses and screw this notion that there is a choice between a "woman and an African American" and realize there is no such choice: it's a snake and a snake handler. Behead the snake, toss it, and grab the snake handler and move him into nomination: there's more snakes ahead.

Bob Arnold 7 days into May 08




If Obama's odyssey shows us anything as a country, we are as racist as ever. Imagine a white politician having to put up with this scrutiny on such a ridiculous and shallow subject as having an odd bed fellow who just so happens to be a father figure and a pastor. He has basically leftist ideas which are his, and that's about it. Sorry he happens to be loud, and oh yes, happens to be black. McCain's pal, Rev. Hagee happens to like the idea that Katrina ruined New Orleans and hopefully killed off some wicked homosexuals, but he's okay. And yes, he's white. If anyone wants an outrage, the outrage is watching the liberal Clinton machine going merrily along with McCain on a war & gas economy, pandering all the way as a two-some, which they are. White as ever and ready to go against each other as the two corporate heavies in the Presidential election for the Fall. There is no choice, there is only the corporate sponsored election. So have a great time!

It's repulsive.

There should be fighting in the streets, and a few buildings burned down.

Oh yeah, no one wants to waste the gas.




The more intricate our society gets, the more semi-legal ways to steal.

-Travis McGee


Dear Kim,

Very good news Jeff's college gang of theater artists (which they are) got the recognition they deserved with the Brecht play. No big award individually to Jeff...just remind him how almost every enduring theme in the theater is about the secret of life which is simply about endurance. So while recognition individually often kicks in an important first-step, it more than often kills the ability to learn the quiet suffering of creating. The individual, it must be understood, gathers oneself alone, then spreads it into a fraternity. It is a rare event in any part of life when this can be shown and revered. Every school I ever visited to work in for a day or a few months all paved the way for the 'independent mind', but it was hell to pay if one truly practiced this. Same with poets sifted down to even the lowly small press - the majority just want to be bigger and richer and more known and then top heavy and of course eventually fixed and empty.

This is all happening right now with Barack Obama. We're watching how a good man is, indeed, hard to find. We cut them down. There is something about how Greatness is no longer allowed...whether the people themselves have been diminished by time, technology and greed, and so will not tolerate falling in behind an idealist who has the ability to make thought into action...a very scary prospect for those stuck, blindly and in a routine, with the every day mechanics of keeping a capitalist country afloat. That means 90% are rowers down in the ash pit of the galley, while 10% roam the deck in the wild blue horizon breeze. That is America. Obama came out and off of the Slaveship (see Amiri Baraka's play) and dared to work his way to the top of that deck. This is why he wasn't "black enough" for blacks at the start. And the white educated ones picked him up on the deck, knowing fully how he got there, his trousers were torn to shreds, his frame was thin from no food or drink, but he blinked and smiled and spoke from an elegance of learning. We in our position of knowing recognized something from our own lives and moreso our readings, which lifts into dreams.

But now another has got himself up from the slaveship and he's making trouble for the Obama man. A Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Just like a literary act: the black cat that follows every good story, film, play and novel...the threatening article. Melville is filled with this, Hawthorne, the menacing and swirling windy foreboding leaves of a long Robert Frost tale. Trouble. In literature there is time for the creator to move the lines and the history and the theme to gel into a moral. In real life it is much more difficult, if not impossible in the realm of sound bites and the opposite of a literary stroll through a field. This is haiku without the penetration.

Many Americans look for any excuse not to learn and not to make things difficult, something Obama has been stating in the very first of his campaign speeches a year ago: it's going to take work ahead, personal sacrifice and hard knocks to get where he plans to go. "Are you with me?" he'd always sweet-shouted at the closing of his talks. He's been there and done it. We're just foolish enough not to recognize this as we insist on experience that comes as canned laughter and easy gimmicks of worshipping a "hero". Americans madly wish to remain in their routine. One more reason why we're failing in this transition time between handmade and technology - at just how to maintain one (handmade: conversation, rigor, dirt under the fingernails) as the new world we have also made through evolution and despite ourselves, swarms in. We can't have any development if one doesn't work with the other. In the better world: a mind is developed and open and allowing to see what Rev. Wright preaches is often the truth, and Obama is the transfer (new world) to put some of it into practice. The good Rev. has clearly shown he has all the ability to rouse up a telling speech, and zero ability to circle the differing forces into a unity. And unity is biblical, no matter how you cut it.

I hate to think it, see it, watch it happen, and it is, right before our eyes - the cutting down of a dream. Indiana is an old Klan state, and the misery lingers there. For years on end we have convinced ourselves that because thousands of African-Americans have even made it up the splintered-to-golden corporate ladder, racism must be gone. It's not only not gone, it's double-fold with a huge culture of blacks hating whitey like we've never known, and despite a vast majority of whitey not deserving of this, and vice-versa for the black world, it's been brothed. Rev. Wright wants us to know this in his performance part Rap Brown meets Sam Cooke (trouble enough) and in his hysterical ego fitting down into the tv screen and palm size Blackberry, never mind a YouTube; he's only got 15 minutes to get his 15 minutes and didn't he just go ahead and slit a friend's throat to get there.

In great literature we are now stuck in those muddling lines of many pages between the opening chapters of lust and advance, with the closing pages of culmination and possible harmony. History will have a word for us.


THE MUSIC PLAYING: rainfall, spring at least


Bob Arnold 30 April 08



Aimé Césaire
Jimmy Giuffre

The poet Tom Clark needs your help. He is stranded with no salary and no medical insurance to cover costs due to a recent stroke. He also needs funds for medications to aid in the recovery of his wife, Angelica Clark, from surgery on her hip.
Dale Smith
please go to Dale's blog for more information:


One of the exhibits at the Umm al-Maarik Mosque in central Baghdad is a copy of the Koran written in Saddam Hussein's blood (he donated twenty-four liters over three years). Yet this is merely the most spectacular of Saddam's periodic sops to the mullahs. He is, in reality, a career-long secularist - indeed an "infidel," according to bin Laden. Although there is no Bible on Capitol Hill written in blood of George Bush, we are obliged to accept the fact that Bush is more religious than Saddam: of the two presidents, he is, in this respect, the more psychologically primitive. We hear about the successful "Texanization" of the Republican Party. And doesn't Texas sometimes seem to resemble a country like Saudi Arabia, with its great heat, its oil wealth, its brimming houses of worship, and its weekly executions?
(2003, The Guardian )

from Martin Amis, The Second Plane, September 11: Terror and Boredom (Knopf): jeweled essays over the last half dozen years or so on all things Islamic fundamentalism and other friends.


GOING UP: Eleven billion elevator trips are made each year in New York. Otis Elevator estimates that it transports the equivalent of the world's population every five days. from The New Yorker April 21, 08



To think of the costs! The gasoline getting from one place to the next; one state to the next; one dream to the next. First leaving for the north, and then deciding - and what was it the slant of the sunlight? the veer of the road? the wave of the treeline up ahead? - to go instead south and toward the sea. Where three days later, after three days of sea shore, we would leave at 6 AM after hiking the beach, stretching for a 500 mile drive through all sorts of sea coast lowlands, old factory cities where the church steeples stick up in the grungy neighborhoods; neighborhoods of once upon a time glass milk bottles and lots of kids, mother aprons and lunch pails, soot, and brick, and about the only place we'll see old cars on the whole trip. The cost! everyone drives a super mobile, we even rent one for three days and leave our clunker back in the rental enterprise garage stall. "The vandals hit us but we got it all on camera. Don't worry, your old car will be safe." It's been 30 years since we've been in Rhode Island and the stonework is still there that everlasts between Tiverton to Newport. You don't have to squint or even close your eyes to imagine the once farmland where these stone walls first occurred and why they occurred. The newer stonework is just for show, and there is plenty of it. It's almost ridiculous now with so much stone and a suburbia and shop-schlock burbing its way in. Eventually Newport is just one grand manse and nothing much to stop for. A slice of pizza goes for $16 along the legendary Cliffwalk but we're eating fog and joggers and listening to surf crash below on these headlands. The cost! We're doing our best in a little Korean buggy that hugs the road and takes the whale of the semis roar as we tool all the way down on one tank and will do the same back. In one cavalier town, bunched with seaport homes and gardens and way too early midweek for tourists but a pestering is always there, out of the town library we come with two canvas satchels of books. We have a library card for almost all this region. We've carefully packed and mailed back our books from the wood's home to the sea, and there is something romantic and sensible about that. And other than an initial subscription fee there is no cost! Imagine in this day and age of paying through the nose for gas, shoe leather, a biscuit, a water bottle, to be able to amble out onto the sidewalk loaded down with great and goodness books. Heavy art cloth editions, fresh minted paperbacks, poetry galore and if one has the time, one can sit just about anywhere, benches everywhere, trees with no leaf shade yet but expansive hardwood trees, and the afternoon is there to open like a book.




I love you from the sharp tang of fermentation;
in the blissful pulp. Newborn insects, blue.
In the unsullied juice, glazed and ductile.
A cry that distills the light:
through the fissures in fruit trees;
under mossy water clinging to the shadows. The
    papillae, the grottos.
In herbaceous dyes, instilled. From flustered touch.
oozing, buttersweet: from ferocious pleasures,
from play splayed in pulses.
(Wrapped in the night's aura, in violaceous clamor,
refined, the child, with the softened root of his tongue
    expectant, touches,
from that smooth, unsustainable, lubricity - a sensitive lily
    folding into the rocks
if it senses the stigma, the ardor of light - the substance, the
fine and vibrant -in the ecstatic petal, distended- {jewel
pulsing half-open; udder}, the acid
juice bland {ice}, the salt marsh,
the delicate sap {cabbala}, the nectar
of the firefly.)

Coral Bracho, Firefly Under the Tongue, selected poems translated by Forrest Gander (New Directions) The first book in English by this Mexican poet. A poetic going against the traffic flow.


...Kierkegaard's remark that while life can only be understood retrospectively, it must be lived prospectively. Often, when I think of my guilt over all the things I didn't do for my mother-whether through unwillingness or inability, though actually I don't think that much matters-I think of that phrase. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn't. Of course, I know that on the most basic level, this entire way of thinking is not only useless but absurd as well. One cannot live one's life bending to another person's desires on the basis of some actual conclusion that one likely will out live them. And yet I don't think I am alone in wishing I had been able to do so, no matter how weird or stupid it may sound. But when she wept, and she wept often, I did so little.
-David Rieff, Swimming in a Sea of Death, a son's memoir (Simon & Schuster): a short book, yet overpowering meditation, on the loss of one's mother, who happens to be Susan Sontag. Singular and probing.


Martin Ramirez, Brooke Davis Anderson w/ various essayists: Ramirez (1895-1963) self-taught draftsman and innovative collagist, left his native Mexico in 1925 to struggle up any work to support a wife and child back home, only to end up jobless during the Great Depression on the streets of California where he was picked up in 1931, supposedly confused, unable to communicate in English and taken to a psychiatric hospital where he would spend the rest of his life, labeled catatonic-schizophrenic, shaping his intricate and both playful and disturbing pieces.

The Writer's Brush, paintings, drawings and sculpture by writers by Donald Friedman (Mid-List Press / www.midlist. org) with essays by William Gass and John Updike, not at all a bad pairing, showcasing 400 reproductions by 200 writers from Blake to Russell Edson (is that a stretch, come to think of it?). A beautiful book, wide open display, with excellent commentary about each writer and their work involved.

Hand Puppets, Paul Klee (Hatje Kantz) from 1916-1925, while his son Felix was still a youngster, the famous artist handcrafted puppets for the boy made of most anything close to hand, which is their appeal. The artist working on his fantasy and whimsy, some rather ugly, crazy, homespun magic with names like "Electrical Spook" or "White-Haired Eskimo" a total of 50 puppets were made. All have lasted to make quite a gang photograph. With 0ver 180 illustrations. Text by Felix Klee and others. A good time, for a long time, has been had by all.

Now & Then, Robert Hass (Shoemaker & Hoard) when Hass was poet laureate he kept up a syndicated column between the years 1997-2000 on the subject of poets and their poetry. He would often offer a poem to speak for itself and then add his own two-cents of insight and personal reflection. Most of the poets were well known in the poetry sphere, which means the majority were unknown to a syndicated audience, so it worked its magic. Poetry got out there, out of the temples and the towers and the grottos, and that's always a good thing. With appreciations to Wallace Stevens and Joni Mitchell and next to nothing from outer fringe poets, or Language, and startling new poets. One would think one day we will be awarded with a true poet laureate who will take the job seriously and roll up the sleeves and learn everything they don't know about poetry, byway or reading poets they don't know and should know and we should too, and share them with the same delicious discovery. For now, we will persist in spreading poetry that is acceptable to the masses just barely and watch 95% of published poetry go unread for two or three favorite flavors of the season.

Havanas in Camelot, William Styron (Random): I have a weak spot for Styron, always have. I liked all his novels from the Marines to Sophie. It took some guts back in the day to bring out a book written as black slave rebel Nat Turner, when you're a white southerner and oh yeah, your grandfather was a slave owner. The book was controversial then and now it sells for peanuts, but it should be read. Styron comes from that time of white writer giants: Mailer, Matthiessen, Baldwin, Capote, Arthur Miller and he writes some lightly sweet appreciations about a few of these guys in this small book of very wise stuff. The camelot is all about John Kennedy and the whole of the book surrounds itself around a humanist - heck a socialist, certainly a hardworking liberal mind, when those times and events were still possible. Styron was one of the original steering captains of The Paris Review and I believe it was up to him that Jack Kerouac got an early piece in. He also worked on the Modern Library editorial board and later (included in the book) wrote an apologetic essay about the dirty politics that goes on with such committees. A seemingly honest man who struggled openly and bravely with racism, depression, liars and loves. Even his prostate. It sort of makes for a clear bell writing ring to all of these pieces. Don't expect James Joyce. Styron made his best writing 20 years before his death. The latter books were a regular guy, and there's not enough of them in this writing life.


Dear Bob,

The Next Ten Thousand Years are here on my desk. A sturdy tome indeed, and beautifully done. I like the way each poem is centered on the page, with plenty of breathing room, and the way the "transvisions" are interspersed without, so that it all becomes a seamless whole. And the preface and afterword like two bookends. The only thing I'm missing is some info about the various authors Cid translated--like who is Marcel Cohen? I'd like to know more about him. And also, are the poems presented chronologically or is that the order you and Ce came up with? At any rate you two have done a terrific job. I've only read the first 50 pages or so and already had my socks blown off several times; "TEEN WEANING" "the gift," "CINCINNATI"--wow, are we talking about the real thing, or what? Great to have all that work in one place, so you can pop open the book just about anywhere and find something substantial enough to last the whole day long. A veritable treasure chest, and you folks have given us the key. So you have every reason to be one proud co-editor indeed. Hats off to a job finely done.

All fer now...


ed: the book we are merrily fussing about is The Next One Thousand Years the Selected Poems of Cid Corman, edited by Ce Rosenow & Bob Arnold (Longhouse) see more here

Dear Mark,

Good maintenance and joyous reader letter from you about those 1000 Years. And smart cookie points about the book, well taken. I figure Marcel Cohen can be googled, give it a try. He's a terrific - as you can see - prose stylist and poet nutcracker from Paris. We've never met but have been in touch over three decades, though not recently. If you happen to run across his address please supply because I must get him a copy of the book. D. Cahen as well. I published both guys in Longhouse over many cycles. These were wholesome poets Cid found, or they found him, and as he translated he sent me everything like I was the city desk...out they'd come from Longhouse in our little packets. Cohen was later published, Cid's translations, in a collection from Burning Deck....almost all the pieces first from Longhouse. I'd wager this book is right up your line. The Emperor Peacock Moth. You like the title already, right?

The order of the poems in the 1000 Years is our instinct. I know all the biographies of everyone, including Cid, can now be found on the web or in digging, and I love a book that enlists digging. Like shoveling a path to the road. There are handouts: the shovel was a gift, now use it. As I read through the book last night like a guy who can't get enough of his new truck and just has to sit in it in the driveway, I'm already tempted to think there could have been more poems, and then again I worked hard and Ce worked hard with a zen stick. Cut back, go along, be happy. Allow one poem (and Cid can do it) to ripple the page.

There is a great bunch of work in this book no one has ever seen, since I hold three unpublished manuscripts from Cid. I can't think of anyone in American letters who has passed away in the last decade who is more the candidate for that rediscovery or plain discovery than Corman. He worked in a soap bubble the last 30 years, garnering all sorts of lost children poets who came to his door via the mail, while the majority of his contemporaries had either been burned away from him or hopelessly spent. Ginsberg doesn't even come close to being as 'beat' as Corman was. He was the original hipcat daddy who kept it up throughout his life, sans the attraction by the popular fluff, and notably because he was such a genuine hardworking normal soul. He over wrote like a motherfucker and I have to laugh (as I did with Cid) at how much shit there is to plow through to get to the resounding ring. Man, that's poetry.

I'm laying a stone stairway right now, some rock as large as sofa cushions, and there is no available space to plow through. Once handling these monsters you get one chance and one chance only to decide, position and drop. Each stone brought out of the snow melting woods by wheelbarrow. By the time they get to the job site they have a name. The biggest difference in the world between the stone handman and the stone backhoe flippers. I believe there is the same in poetry. Cid was a handman and it may be best one doesn't get too much of a peek at all the thousands of pages gone to fallow. Compost, turn in and under, move it along....or else he may be judged as a writing fool. Which he was!

I adore the controversy of thought, and the best books leave some questioning, but never about the worth.

We're just back from three days on the sea. We found a shanty on the beach, the days were splendid, we melted winter out of the blood and almost demolished into pieces because of it. Found two local libraries where we fed in a frenzy of new books and films saved for the night hours, so sleeping wasn't important for me at least...and a Korean sportie vehicle at 35 mpg that got us down and back as a rental. The ultimate shot to the arm.

Now back to snow leaving, mud staying, and stonework
all's well, Bob




Some people don't think with their heads, a sorry situation
that you simply can't allow. When your feet, stomach, and ovaries begin to make decisions instead of your brain, you should immediately and ruthlessly put down that first stage of rebellion before it turns into a mutiny. If your right hand causes you to sin, you know what you have to do. And this is just an example, nothing more. If the right hand was chosen as a symbol, it's precisely because of its importance, but there's no reason to have misgivings about your other parts: cut them off, cut them off, cut them off and throw them as far away as you can! All you need is a good head on your shoulders, and a simple home-made guillotine that you yourself can build.

They say Van Gogh cut off his ear for a prostitute. Others
affirm it happened in a fight with Gauguin. Some scientists insist he did it because he suffered from Meniere's Syndrome and was tormented by the ringing in his ears. I was a little girl, and I saw him with my own eyes, and I can assure you he did it for this, to use it as a seed, said the ancient woman from Arles, pointing with pride to the tree laden with spiral shaped fruit, like soft hairy snails.

- Ana Maria Shua, Quick Fix: Sudden Fiction, trans.Rhonda Dahl Buchanan (White Pine Press / www.whitepine.org) The Argentina writer's agile fictions between shiny covers


(Film/DVD) I just watched Blast of Silence (1961) last night, a film precious few have seen. Imagine a director (like John Cassavetes but not) making a film without any Peter Falk, without anyone, and so he stars in it himself, with voice over narration written by the great Waldo Salt using a pseudonym. At one point there is such a shortage of actors or money, the protagonist is being chased by two hoods, but on the next cut one of the hoods has disappeared or dropped out or hasn't shown, so the protagonist ends up shooting himself chasing himself! There's no other choice. My sort of cinema. Allen Baron's lean gritty hitman classic of a kind showed two years after Cassavete's Shadows and introduced Baron as "Frank Baby Boy Bono". The big framed black & white shots of Harlem, St. Mark's Place, Penn Station, and Jamaica Bay are a world gone by. Now in noir heaven via Criterion.




One learns that the essential
wasn't books
wasn't records
wasn't cats
wasn't paraisos in bloom
spilling over the sidewalks
nor even the large moon -white-
in the windows
it wasn't the sea lapping the shore
the murmur fragile against the seawall
nor friends no longer seen
nor childhood streets
nor that bar where we made love with our eyes.

The essential was something else.



I don't need to go very far
to dream
A train to the suburbs is enough for me
Some rusted tracks that run
along the seashore
and I feel I'm already in another world
My ignorance of the nomenclature
allows me to baptize with other names
My foreignness
- I am the foreigner, the passing stranger-
is the universal citizenship of dreams.

- Cristina Peri Rossi

State of Exile
(City Lights, Pocket Poets #58) translated by Marilyn Buck. A native of Uruguay and with her life threatened by military regime, in 1972 Rossi relocated to Spain where she lives today. Marilyn Buck has lived as intriguing - a life-long activist, in 1985 she was convicted of conspiracy in the New Jersey prison escape of Assata Shakur. Now serving a sentence of eighty years, Buck works and translates with fellow prisoners inside. Her sureness and elegance treating Rossi is all ours.


A thoughtful study - combining scientific background with an individual's advocacy - that' the heart of Golden Wings & Hairy Toes (New England) by wildlife blazer Todd McLeish...who is often leaving home from Rhode Island for tracking lynx in Maine or trapping and studying the Indiana Bat in Vermont, two of the fourteen profiles of New England's most endangered wildlife, flora and fauna protected in this book. So what's so special about Cape Cod Bay? No one really knows, other than that it's the only known winter feeding ground in the world for North Atlantic right whales. About thirty whales - 10 percent of the total population - visit the bay each winter to feed. Where the rest of the population spends the winter and early spring no one knows for sure. Those whales that enter the bay can usually count on finding dense aggregations of copepods to sustain them for a few weeks.


EARTHWARD: Not to get too heavy about the political mind and philosophizing, but for the past 30-40 years it has really been all about getting one's shit together, and few have. Writing more and more diatribes and even beneficial counsel is okay, but the work is really at hand to save the planet and be of the Earth. We squandered miserably since 1970 when I well remember the first Earth Day. I worked with a snag of others at shutting down our high-school to celebrate the event and likewise protest the war machine. Susan was washing off oil spilled seabirds on the California coast with hundreds of other good Samaritans. We had our marker then and there to wake up and begin the work. Many have, but the majority went soft and dumb...and now we have the dumbest President in history telling us the new marker is set for 2025! Too late, bud. It's now or never, and it may be already too late. Handling, handwork, old tried and true conversation, is the essence of coordination.


Two lost Beat angels now make an appearance in one of the legendary pocket poet series from City Lights (www.citylights.com)- Tau by Philip Lamantia, the poet's second collection of poems scheduled for release in 1955 from Bern Porter but held back by Lamantia because of his evolving religious beliefs, joined at the hip by the lost treasure of John Hoffman's Journey to the End. At the infamous Sixth Gallery reading of 1955 San Francisco, where Howl was heard and Kerouac cheered the proceedings on, Lamantia read none of his own work and instead shared the poems of his close friend Hoffman who had died three years earlier in Mexico and Allen Ginsberg memorialized in Howl "who disappeared into the volcanoes of Mexico leaving / behind nothing but the shadow of dungarees and the / lava and ash of poetry scattered in fireplace Chicago". Here is poetry shot on the wing and it's only sin is promiscuity.


I write your name where birds
Swoop overhead in frenzy
Where the sea throws broken bottles
The thirsty and the shipwrecked die
Where the sea builds doorways
Which only the wind destroys

I write your name on these thresholds
That shift on the ballast sand
Where birds foretell a shape of doom
Reading it by phosphor
Where the sun lies behind and scattered
On the shape drenched shore

- John Hoffman

Addicted to heroin, Hoffman was found dead on such a beach at Zihuatanejo in Mexico, possibly overdosed and exposed to the sun.


I'm just getting down into August Kleinzahler's, Sleeping It Off In Rapid City (Farrar) new & selected poems. Few poets working today, under the age of 60 or so, work with such a delicious concentration of say Basil Bunting and William Carlos Williams. Somewhere else Kleinzahler quipped when arranging a book of poems he has a working motto: "start well, end well" and he follows this to a tee in this collection gathering up the best and brightest from some ten other books of poems. The opening long poem of the book has us out on the western plains - myths, heritage, pop culture and the poet's guise with tone and the turn of a phrase. The last poem is storming another sort of plain, with the Tartars - In their furs and silk panties/ Snub-nosed monkey men with cinders for eyes / Attached to their ponies like centaurs / Forcing the snowy passes of the Carpathians. I know such beasts didn't ride ponies but this is a poet who will adjust anything to make a poem dominant and sing. I like that nerve. So now I'm steering to the middle of the book. For its range and price, I'd say one of the best new books out there leaving April as poetry month. Take it with you right into May.


I am also midway through this fine and highly attractive cloth edition anthology - Forgotten Bread (Heyday Books/www.heydaybooks.com) of first-generation Armenian American Writers (1912-present time), gathered quite personally and adept by the poet/editor David Kherdian, himself the son of parents who were survivors of the Armenian Genocide. A glossary for the language and an appendix reaching into pockets of other writers, in-depth biographies, contacts, Armenian publications and presses. This book comes booted up. Expect well over 400 pages of mystical, huckster, poetic, feminine, as well as many mustachioed maestros, not the least being William Saroyan, one of the very famous of the tribe, and his childhood buddy A.I Bezzerides who wrote the novel Long Haul of which the film noir classic They Drive By Night was adapted. Where do these natural storytellers come from? Check out just a brief snatch from Bezzerides background, "It began even before he was born in Ottoman Turkey, when his Armenian mother was swindled into marriage by a Greek man twenty-four years her senior who peddled goods from the backs of donkeys. When she learned she was pregnant, she tried five differ ent ways to abort him. He was one year old in 1909 when his father, a dollar bill in his pocket, settled the family in Fresno and tried to make his way hawking fruits and vegetables in the neighborhoods of Armenians, Italians, and Volga Germans." You get stories under your belt living under this sort of roof. This is but a snippet from Mark Arax, who writes an introductory essay on Bezzerides, as others write for each of the sixteen other writers Kherdian has chosen. I'm telling you, it is a cookbook looking book in heft and ingredients, with prose and poetry, the younger thinking of the older, sweet syrup peaches, kitchen talk and aromas and visits because every other Armenian is a poet.

AND! just in from New Directions (www.ndpublishing.com) so much good I can't close down shop just yet: two large volumes forthcoming this summer from Kenneth Patchen, the greatest cowboy angel in American poetry since Whitman. Don't think ten gallon hat; think the outlaw and the sheriff in one. We Meet will bring back to us some of Patchen's most exhilarating books -with the poet's happy to be alive illustrations - Because It Is, A Letter To God, Poemscapes, Hurrah For Anything, and Aflame & Afun of Walking Faces. If that doesn't stop you in your tracks, here's a second feast and even more of the poet's hard to find wonders in one soft cover: The Walking Away World will include the very best of the picture-poem collections, prepared during Patchen's last dozen years: Wonderings, But Even So, and Hallelujah Anyway. Ever the innovators, New Directions has even snagged young folk bandit Devendra Banhart to marshall a preface for We Meet, while Jim Woodring welcomes us into the picture-books, which were often done in color and may be found in earlier publications. To some, Kenneth Patchen (1911-1972) was the great granddad to the Beats, or the last hurrah to the likes of Michelangelo and William Blake. An invalid for a good portion of his adult years after a mishap helping a buddy uncouple bumpers between two vehicles, he would go on to wed deeply and long with Miriam Oikemus , tour and record his poetry to jazz with Charles Mingus and others, and make a poetry whether sitting or in the prone position. One of the unstoppables. Because to understand one must begin somewhere



The "loner" is me,
the one who stopped listening,
the one with the hidden fuse,
with the fist of blind clench,
with the hole in his heart,
with the cool guns,
the one who blasts away,
who kills because, just because,
who kills at will and, because
there's nothing left but the dead,
kills himself,
suicided on top of all he's killed,
and now you know what a market
in old Baghdad feels like
with its victims "in the wrong place
at the wrong time,"
and why your mourning is going
in one ear of the deaf tomorrow
and out the deafening other.

-Jack Hirschman, All That's Left

(City Lights Books  www.citylights.com)


ALWAYS MUSIC PLAYING: ( all singles!) Come Down Easy, Spacemen; A Place Called Home, PJ Harvey; Wishing Well, Roy Harper; Roc Alpin, Catherine Ribeiro & Alpes; I'm Not There, Sonic Youth; Noche de Ronda, Freddy Fender; Naima, Angelique Kidjo; Yi-rrana, Letterstick Band; Reckoner, Radiohead; Tribute to the Cuarteto Patria, Eliades Ochoa; La Vai Alguem, Virginia Rosa; My Bucket's Got A Hole In It, Van Morrison; Far Away, Martha Wainwright; Witchita Lineman, Glenn Campbell; Gone, Gone, Gone, Alison Krauss/Robert Plant; The Wanderer, Dion; Bold Marauder, Mimi & Richard Farina; Hush, Deep Purple; Suspicion, cross-blend a version between Elvis (get rid of the horns) with Terry Stafford's backup girls quavering (w/ a nod to Doc Pomus); Dearest Dear, Shirley Collins; The Passenger, Iggy Pop; Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, OG Funk; Blues For Basie, Lalo Schifrin; Don't Leave Me Now, Amparanoia; Pancho & Lefty, Emmylou Harris; Requiem OP 48, Gabriel Faure; The Canyon, Jessi Colter; Espero, Alabina; Lullaby, Zulya; Holy Ghost, Unchain My Name, Elizabeth Cotton; You Are Related to a Psychopath, Macy Gray; Eight Miles High, Leo Kottke; a song I have no title for by Nadine as fine as any Neil Young ever sang; In Dreams, Roy Orbison; plus songs about mashed potatoes by Nat Kendricks and the Swans, gospel-ships by Ruby Vass; Sleepy John Estes with a mother who tells him to stop playing a-bum; and the great Wayfaring Stranger, by the just as great Almeda Riddle.

- Bob Arnold

late April 08





The Brain has Corridors
- Emily Dickinson


...the poem must ride on its own melting.
- Robert Frost


The printing press has made poetry too silent. I want it to be heard, to have the direct impact of speech.
- Lawrence Ferlinghetti (1958)


A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom. - -Martin Luther King, Jr.


I don't think whole populations are villainous, but Americans are just extraordinarily unaware of all kinds of things. If you live in the middle of that vast continent, with apparently everything your heart could wish for just because you were born there, then why worry? [...] If people lose knowledge, sympathy and understanding of the natural world, they're going to mistreat it and will not ask their politicians to care for it.
- Richard Attenborough



Jonathan Williams
Richard Widmark
Rochelle Ratner
Jules Dassin
Ivan Dixon
Dith Pran




RIGHT out of the chute, a million thanks to the sports freaks and opening day enthusiasts who practiced and expressed their rights of free speech by Booing! loudly, The Punk at the opening game for the Washington Generals. Sterling etiquette folks!



And, to the youngster who stood her ground and boldly asked John McCain - better known in these parts as Soldier Boy, or his nickname as a youth "McNasty" - as to why he was at his former high school giving one more campaign speech. Let's please call a "hero", in this day and age, what a hero is: a brave soul standing to ask the very important questions. Stirring thousands in their ennui to hopefully ask the same. Not continuing this nauseous platitude about some Vietnam War "hero" who smeared napalm over a countryside willy-nilly of the lives below, contributing to the three million Vietnamese dead from that war, and continuing to bolster an annual $713 billion military war chest, which is larger than the war budgets for all 190 countries of the world combined. McCain is a hero and a friend to that 10% of the world that owns 90% of the wealth. We may do better to champion "heroes" with faces like this young student, or wise Senator Robert Byrd who will go down in history-of-reason as the leader who stood alone questioning the second war in Iraq. Yes, we were stupid enough to have permitted two wars in the same place! I like our own heroes in Vermont: Senators Pat Leahy and James Jeffords who opposed this war from the start. Vermont may be the only state in the country where both senators cried "No." Another hero: Tomas Young, the disabled vet from Iraq in the new film Body of War who enlisted to fight in Afghanistan after the attacks on 9/11, and was shipped instead to the Neocons' oil playpen in Iraq. He's angry about that, paralyzed from a bullet to his spine, and fighting back like a soldier. In this film mothers and loved ones having lost their own young soldiers, come to touch his face, giving as he is, and one can see how his gentle reciprocity means the world to them. These are the heroes. Not a warmonger who never learned a lesson and wants an unlawful war to just bloody on.





It really is amusing
that for all the centuries of mankind
the problem has been how
to kill enough people
and now
it is how
not to kill them all


Frank O'Hara




Dear Ted,

Well, the sun is out, through all the front windows of the house, warming up the rooms all its own, the fire down until about 4 o'clock when I rebuild and get ready for evening. But a hike out on the road an hour ago with Susan had nothing but February weather blowing through us. The road looks like a war zone anyway. We're pretty sure we haven't seen the roads all the way toward town as bad as this, pothole wise, in many years. We have to literally crawl the first five miles out of here, all on dirt, because of the teeth rattling pothole number. One every foot?, and often five sideways so there is no way to feign and dodge the buggers. So we take it at 15 mph for that whole five miles stretch and then add on 15 minutes more to the drive into town. Now it's 45 minutes. One reason I go out only once a week. Don't need the rattle, or pay the gas, or wear on the 19 year old truck, and there's plenty to do out here. If it wasn't for book orders, Susan would go out less than twice a week. I read'em, sell'em, pack'em. And publish a few, too.

Cid's book The Next One Thousand Years, Cid Corman's selected poems ed. by Ce Rosenow & Bob Arnold (Longhouse 2008) [available now] arrived last week on a freight truck, luckily with an amiable driver. He got lost of course, despite our directions, and he was only coming right off the interstate in town and 10 minutes to Carson & Becky's house. Our way station until ice-station zebra melts out. We figure by May. I hate to think that, but it looks true. So with the driver on his cell-phone and the two of us using Carson's, we were able to pinpoint the driver out of a mud quagmire where he put himself and back onto tar road and an easy enough delivery to the door. The books were to arrive the next day but we saw that weather maker hurling toward us with nearly a foot of fresh cement, so we convinced the freight company to deliver a day earlier...and good we did. The book cartons are mainly at Carson's and we sledded in six cartons to our house for first use on orders. A bunch has already gone, I'm thrilled to say.

My feelings on Obama are exactly yours, poor devil. He means very well and he's up against a threshing machine that all the liberal white boys can kowtow to (Kennedy, Kerry etc) but it's a whole other world for a Black 'kid' as many think of him. I've yet to hear any deliver a speech on race and life's reason as riveting as Obama delivered a few weeks ago; so much for the 'kid'. He's our only hope. What with another Clinton spoiled brat, and the nightmare of McCain. I do believe the country may be on the verge of committing double suicide of accepting first the Punk, and now Soldier Boy. If they do, they (and us with them) will receive our last will and testament. The world itself is already on the verge of drowning with global warming, and drought most likely before that. UN studies give us 40-50 years as a planet if we continue our destructive ways, and naturally we know no better than to not continue. As Bukowski once said it: 'There are locks on everything /that's the way Democracy works."

Dream on.


"I want our students learning art and music and science and poetry,"
Barack Obama

-all clever cynics know it will never happen, but piled up with the news, including the news from these cynics - always dreadful and on a loop - can't we let this little dream dream awhile? The young & the mighty need something in their hands, their minds, their own dreams.



And what in the world happened with PBS news when announcing the passing of Richard Widmark at 93? That's a long life and one that covered over 50 films from Night & the City, Kiss of Death, Pickup on South Street, Madigan - any one of these high rollers can be snatched off the perennial favorite movie list. I first remember Widmark as the lean and cagey Jim Bowie crackling off the 1960 drive-in screen in The Alamo. Widmark knew how the west was won being born in Sunrise, Montana. PBS gave us only two-minutes of remembrance and it was one of Widmark's most despicable characters: the sadist Tommy Udo, strapping in and tossing down a stairway, in a wheelchair never mind, one unsuspecting old woman. Thanks for the memories PBS. Go watch Richard Widmark at work in the Sam Fuller film, and I like it that his daughter did marry Sandy Koufax.


Since Americans use a swimming pool full of oil every second; that's every second, or four swimming pools since you started this sentence...let's move onto book reviews, notices, recommendations and poems. Maybe a film or two to see. Some music rising high over the trees in the background.

SOME GREAT STUFF: I am gifted such all the time, or in the mail, or found in the hunt - great new stuff to read - you don't know what you're missing if you don't act on it. Here's the contact points and addresses, so no excuses. If in question, then Google and find out more. Scraping around for one good book will bring up three. Hit the last of the small bookshops. A sale there is like a blood transfusion for these vanishing book-love species, don't be fooled. Many of these folks are some of the last grounded dreamers. Dig into Internet bookshops like ours at Longhouse, and others. Try forgetting about yourself, and My Space, and your blog for a moment - the whole equation out there is to stop real conversation and make you think you're "it". You ain't. Not without someone else. Support your local poet, press, grocer, musician, writers, plumbers, builders, potters, weavers, hardware stores. Stay out of the Box Stores, they're diseased, you don't want to be diseased.....
- House Organ, ed. Kenneth Warren (1250 Belle Ave., Lakewood, Ohio 44107): the new issue/spring 2008 is packed full and dedicated to Vincent Ferrini and other poets.
- Something Red, Mark Terrill ( Stay at Home Press - www.planbpress. com): clear-eyed prose poems not messing with your mind. Same with:
- North of the Cities, Louis Jenkins (Will o' the Wisp Books - www.willothewispbooks.com): never read a dull book by this poet, and I mean never.
- Cadillac Cicatrix, ed. Benjamin Spencer(www.cadillaccicatrix.com): from Carmel, California state of the mind and poetry and art, with a fine tribute to Cid Corman.
- Susquehanna, Dale Smith (Punch Press, 810 Richmond Ave., Buffalo, NY. 14222-1167): in the grand tradition of Paul Metcalf, a 'speculative historical commentary and lyric' Dale humbly proposes, the first part of The Lunar Perspective. Proof in the pudding publisher Rich Owens and his author work so well together, this beauty is one to own.
- Ron Silliman's website - - Silliman is viagra, sans the desire. Though his high-wire website is town crier visible and continuous like a professional athlete is behind the helm. It's busybody poetry at its zenith. Finest for its appreciations; but watch out for the pied-piper.





For nearly 50 years, the American painter, and friend to poets, Alex Katz, has been painting portraits of his wife Ada. Alex Katz Paints Ada (The Jewish Museum/Yale 2006) is the alluring book gathering of those portraits, along with an appreciation by Robert Storr and essays from Lawrence Alloway and James Schuyler, who remembers a day he posed for a painting with Ada and Rudy Burckhardt. Each day, for a month, I put up on display one more painting from the book and let Ada just take over the room. Like narcissus bulbs in a water bowl, by the window. "Blue Umbrella 2" for early spring rain days has been just the thing to watch.



Joseph Cornell has always been capable of stopping-time and putting any of us into his time. Just take the time. I have been staying current for decades now with each book that has been issued on either the artist's life, or one magnificent showcase after the other made into sturdy volumes to own. Joseph Cornell, Navigating the Imagination, Lynda Roscoe Hartigan (Peabody/Smithsonian/Yale) is the latest retrospective and maybe the best yet. Whether you read in one-sitting some playful study of Cornell, or go wide and far with this celebration of collages, found materials, film, assemblages, even a little of Cornell goes a long way. "Cabinet of Curiosity" may have been the better title standing this furniture piece book up on its end and opening the doorways in.



Probably the filmmaker not to watch when you've come home busted flat from work is Catherine Breillat. Every single one of her films must be seen though, one way or another. Her best work may remain her first and still most controversial film A Real Young Girl, and each film after this one has followed track. Be fearless with her. She should show up between "Pierre Brasseur" and "Walter Brennan" in David Thomson's A Biographical Dictionary of Film but, alas, she's missing from my third edition. After a week of CB, best to put on reserve: The Sound of Music, Heidi, Swiss Family Robinson, Snow White and toss in Bambi.



As we're losing the Earth, more and more lovely and exquisite and challenging books are coming out celebrating planet life. Is this a swan song? We (human beings) have become the endangered species as we lose a daily touch and stability with an appreciation and stewardship of land and the animal kingdoms. In the breathtaking Planet Earth, where one can sink into the morass and hidden world of the snow and amur leopards, everywhere the film crew ventured, poachers were there. They come in all disguises now. A new book that companions nicely with the Planet Earth series, is Alessandro Rocca's Natural Architecture (Princeton) where the architect takes us on an international excursion of structures, buildings, nests, bridges, spiritual retreats and more, all built by found objects, or stone, wood, branch weavings, straw and clay. Humble settings. Not just a land art but land love and land home, starting from scratch and making dominion. Beautifully illustrated. One of the 'makers' Armin Schubert has this to share: As a producer of natural artifacts my choice goes to materials nature provides generously: stones, pebbles, branches and twigs, scrap timber, earth...I ambitiously gather and reorganize these utterly unspectacular pieces based on their characteristics, and I give them new forms and new meanings. As elements of natural architecture, these leftovers take on dignity and value.



Coney Island of the Mind, Lawrence Ferlinghetti (New Directions)
Selected Poems, Frank O'Hara ed. Mark Ford (Knopf)
That Little Something, Charles Simic (Harcourt)
The Ghost Soldiers, James Tate (Ecco)

Suddenly I'm reading four books by elderly white guys, that dying breed in the poetry world. The two best books of the bunch are masterpieces written from the 1950s when guys like these ruled the post world war universe. Not necessarily these two - Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Frank O'Hara - but they resembled the breed in appearance, though certainly not intent. Ferlinghetti remains an anarchist in spirit and a successful businessman at heart through his City Lights Books shrine, where one could argue he stands alone as the achieved Beat. Still alive, money in his pocket, his paintings on the wall, poetry from the streets, translated and respected everywhere. He knew every Beat poet there ever was and personally supplied the hippie movement with reading material.

Frank O'Hara, gay and swarthy, with that broken, crinkled nose, abruptly cutdown in life so long ago when Martin Luther King was still alive, is now given a second selected poems, wide berthed and gloriously showcased as if an art book edition, as of course his poems always were. The front cover photograph by George Montgomery is ideal. A little under twenty years of poetry is here, returning us to a winner, the master city planner. So joyous, playful and remaining ever balanced. O'Hara described it best, Long may you illumine space with your marvellous appearances.

I've been reading all four books, since I've known these poets work for the past forty years, overlapped and intermingled and so when I get tired of one, I pick up another without taking a break, just read. One can do that with the 50s guys, they're conversational, logical, deadly humorous, serious about it...in their time they were working against stuffed shirts with dead language. Language hopped with these guys. Language 'leapt' (as Robert Bly would have it) by the time Charles Simic and James Tate turned up with rabbits out of their hats, and nothing up their sleeves. A lost pilot here, and 'crumbs, crumbs', 'crumbs' everywhere! Now it seems to be 'breasts' or 'chickens' more than ever for Simic, and Tate has achieved with his prose poems a novel length of exhaustion, or delight (pick your poison), with each poem. I can read three, maybe four poems a day, and then I need to take a breather. The book lasts longer, and this book is twice as long as the previous prose poem entertainment Return to the City of White Donkeys. He's still writing some of the best prose poems out of America since Russell Edson.

Since his notoriety as the fifteenth poet laureate of the United States, Charles Simic seems to be publishing a new book of poems every year. The poems are still mumbling with magic, but it's sort of standup comic timing, a 'gotcha' through those tinted glasses. Unlike Robert Creeley- whose later poetry Simic doesn't care for- Simic wouldn't dare veer off his course of predictable paradigms. Nothing wrong with a formula if readers never notice they are being swallowed whole.

I'd recommend reading all four books as one big bash. The O'Hara looks and reads the finest by far, a stand out. The Tate comes as an e-book you can link to as well. The Simic is so-so clever, other-worldly, that much smoke and mirrors cotton candy. The Ferlinghetti is a reprint of a masterwork, all gussied up with a colorful dustjacket, though it's the same circus font of the 50s classic model for the interior text, and a complete CD of the poet reading since he was always one of the best with that playful tone of sarcasm and lilt. It'd be a exciting day on Earth to have Frank O'Hara, so many poems, spinning off an accommodating CD. But that'd be getting greedy.






We join the animals
not when we fuck
         or shit
not when tear falls

but when
                  staring into light
                  we think

Frank O' Hara




I sadly read many fine blog and appreciations after the death of Jonathan Williams. I love seeing poets come to bat for their pals, and I can only live with myself and mankind if I likewise see it happening for the poets while they are still alive. Otherwise, what are we doing? Williams was a class act at speaking up for and supporting the outsider, the backward but bird-fluted voice, art and lullabies and poetries of all sorts of stripes. He'd done it with his Jargon press since college age and he passed away, royally even, as an old man. His books were always published, even if only the choir read them, but the quality was lasting stuff. He's going to stick around, and so is Jargon because Black Mountain isn't going to topple quite yet, nor all those names, or the buddies he made, and the enriched ingredients of how the man was formed himself. Mud and wattle. A thatch hut, a long gone walking trail, good books and good humor and so good memories of the guy. We never met but we spoke on the phone once upon a time about Lorine Niedecker and a book I published he wanted in quantities to give as gifts to his friends. See what I mean - thinking of others, even if he did sometimes come across in print as a crank. His photographs are marvelous and personal. His poetry swept in with the rain. When I was on the phone with Williams it gave me the opportunity to tell him how I wrote him once in the late 1960s when I was a boy about my enthusiasm for discovering Kenneth Patchen and all the wholesome work he did for that poet. He wrote me back a full page letter about Patchen, beautifully typed and enthused. It was the first letter I ever received from another writer. It was so important and respectful, and conscientious, that I bet it'll stay in me and become my last.




To live through a week
to live through a year
through thirty then seventy years

But there were years no one counted
royal years
when we played under ancient oaks
and eternity was with us

Julia Hartwig


In Praise of the Unfinished, selected poems

translated by John & Bogdana Carpenter (Knopf)



MUSIC TO MY EARS: Amargosa, Amargosa: the bands first recording - that's Carson Arnold, drums; Luke Q. Stafford, guitar; Josh Steele, bass. Last heard, the band was quickly hired by the bartender at a friendly club and shut down when the owner visited and couldn't believe the decibel count. A fine badge of honor fellas! See their website for copies of this reasonably priced rash of glory. Or buy directly through Longhouse. The New Lost City Ramblers, Volume 5 (crusaders for old time music); Rosa Passos, Amorosa; Eric Dolphy, Out There; Blue Mitchell, Blue's Mood; Margaret MacArthur and Family, On the Mountain High




~ Bob Arnold, Green River, Vermont 6 April 08





- remembering -

Gordon Zahn
Buddy Miles
Roy Scheider
William F. Buckley, Jr.

Hands can give love as well as accept it. They can communicate, and that is said to be a dangerously rare thing in this world. And if it is true, as I believe it to be, that there is a direct ratio between experience and appreciation, then it will also be true that the more one learns how to live through one's hands, the more one lives inwardly.
MFK Fisher, from the essay "Made, With Love, By Hand" in the new collection of assorted short works A Stew Or A Story (Shoemaker & Hoard)


I think perhaps it's this way in art. The spirit of the thing calls to your soul. First it hails it in passing and your soul pauses and shouts back, "Coming." But the soul dwells in your innermost being and it has a lot of courts and rooms and things to pass through, doors and furniture and clutter to go round and through, and she has to pass through and round all this impedimenta before she can get out in the open and catch up and sometimes she can't go on at all but is all snarled up in obstructions. But sometimes she does go direct and clear and catches up and goes along. Sometimes they can only go a little bit of way together and sometimes quite far, but after a certain distance she always has to drop back. But, oh, if you could only go far enough to see the beauty of the whole complete thought that has called out to you!

- Emily Carr, April 16, 1934 from Hundreds and Thousands, the Journals (Clarke Irwin)





Remember a funny night

my family made a circle by and by

like standing on the shore a heart a visceral

thing. This moment my heart's clear.

We'll plant (my heart) a tree here.

My heart my heart my heart.

Is glad.

- Tony Tost, Complex Sleep (Iowa)

: one of the beauties from Tony's new book, although not nearly representing the entrancing range of the book. One has to read-complete the long poem "Complex Sleep", something I don't dare just tear a piece off here as example. You've something to look forward to.


FILM (DVD): Mother & Son (Aleksei Ananishnov) film as a painting, often shot through hand-painted glass and mirrors, the majority of it outdoors, a son cares for his dying mother, thus experiencing a transformation of living/dying all his own.

Vassilisa the Beautiful (Aleksandr Rou) one of the restored masterpieces from Russian film tale fantasy, giving George Pal a run for his money. Made in 1939 with monsters, a gateway spider and even Baba Yaga, plus a hero and heroine who must earn their passage. The wild, bears, and lore are particularly well done. Baba Yaga's witchery will show up again years down the road in Rou's Golden Horns, where the imaginative witch turns two little sisters into glorious does, and the mother rushes to the rescue breaking the spell with the help of one golden deer. Great stuff in a mudpie political season.

Vengeance Is Mine (Shohei Imamura) one of the most harrowing films ever made, finally on dvd. Imamura's visceral classic with its fluid framing, documentary and melodramatic charge, the bold overhead and voyeuristic camera peers, solid characterization of the director's passion for strong earth women and troubled men. From Japan, a true story of a serial killer on the loose for 78 days. The director turns off the casual viewer in the first half hour of rabid stabbing, then steers his ship, bloodless, way, way under the skin. Few directors anywhere have ventured where Imamura's career has situated, ever solid and changing before our eyes. He had a life-size latex doll on the screen 40 years before any "Lars" came to being. In his early years he worked with Ozu and found the master's routine repugnant. Years go by without any film, then out comes a stunner. Find what you can find in a world that issues claptrap by the greasy bucket loads, while this director's greats await in the can.

Sergi Paradjanov - magician; artist of collages, ceramics, dolls; frontiersman of cinema, passed away in his 60s in 1990 after making films since 1954. He made many films of all sizes and merit, but his four masterpieces remain, and now on dvd - Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1964), The Color of Pomegranates (1970), The Legend of the Surami (1984), Ashik Kerib (1988) - he'd lived a few more years after this, wrote a few more film scripts for others, and was gone. Not forgotten. A courageous Armenian who lived in the Ukraine and through his Ukrainian themes. A student of the great Dovzhenko. His rejection of the official state of socialist realism and his dislike of the Soviet regime made plenty of enemies for him. Compared to most rebel artists in America from the 60s, they lived a cakewalk. In 1973 Paradjanov was tossed into prison for five years on trumped up charges of homosexuality and illegal trafficking in religious icons, many seen in full glory in his films. His crimes? "To show the Caucasus through Lermontov's eyes" as in Ashik Kerib, or the laces of ethnography, God, love, beauty and tragedy in Shadows...still one of the most expressionistic wonders ever put to film. Often using non-actors to an authentic time period pitch, costumes of magnificence, blood from the lamb, the woodchopper's rhythm of the forest, just watch his camera glide through Georgian legends. As a child he liked to sit in the bathroom and sing arias. His films will outlive any regime.

Bill Viola - another look, after years, at the film master of installation video : I Do Not Know What It Is I Am Like (1986). I believe a much better film is here if you leave the humans out and all the natural world in - patient studying in fine hair detail Canadian glaciers, animal remains, the progression of a snail, chick out of egg, and a mesmerizing survey of a stationary owl, amongst so much else of this cosmos.

(Film) Just a note to keep an eye on the rising career of young Joseph Gordon-Levitt - something all his own and quite Heath Ledger like in his overall concentration - check out Mysterious Skin, Brick, The Lookout and Stop-Loss. He was already wise beyond his years in the fluffy tv spin "3rd Rock From the Sun".



Riding Toward Everywhere, William T. Vollmann (Ecco): now an industry unto himself, Vollmann takes up hoboing & trains, with The Dharma Bums as insight and his own photographs from the rail yards, boxcars and towns landed tousled up in. If you've read his others books, this is a quick study.

The Beats, Mike Evans (Running Press): a quite concise, Brit. view of the Beat Generation frontier from Kerouac to Kesey. Loaded with photographs and a very appealing study and showcase of the personalities and the associated eras and schools. A bit of Black Mountain makes its way in, and at the threshold of flower power. The layout and text reveals a wisdom and insight just beginning to be seen in US counterparts.

The Collected Prose of Robert Frost, ed. Mark Richardson (Harvard): half the size of his collected poems and just as interesting, where the main bulk was written almost a decade before the poet published his first book A Boy's Will (1913). He told a fellow New Englander: "out of what we don't know and so can't be hurt by, poetry; out of knowledge, prose." Take it from there. It's important to listen to farmers.

Books on Fire, Lucien X. Polastron (Inner Traditions): an outstanding, yet depressing book, about the destruction of libraries throughout history. From the burning of the towering library of Alexandria (a few times) to the US Marines watching/participating in the looting and destruction of museums in Baghdad and Mosul in 2003. Welcome to the history of mongols far and wide, the igniters. If we believe the horrors the Neocons have unleashed upon the world are terrible, and they are, imagine it's 1401 and Tamerlane's hoards are sweeping away from a razed Baghdad, with 120 towers mounted in their wake, stacked each with 750 of the inhabitants' heads! Happy reading. The book's index is infuriating trying to rodeo, and failing, the author's monumental energy and recall. Otherwise, I hand it to a small press gifting us with such a volume.

Hideaways, Sonya Faure (Flammarion): I've built my share since a child of forts in the woods, first shelters, used materials huts and forty years later I'm still building them and collecting a library of equal minds on the subject - this one being one of the finest, ranging from seaside to the woods, cityscapes, downright cabins, shacks, tree houses and Swiss Family Robinson escapes. Balanced nicely with appreciative text and smart photographs. There's always a slender thread between the cutesy / ephemeral, to the authentic and spirited. Chalk this up as the latter. Go get lost in the building of one's life.

Speaking of building & builders - Ireland's Coracle has just issued a fanciful decorative cloth bound edition of Tom Browne's hand-built small houses made in his shed after he gave up his building jobs. These are replica models of real homes, made from the same building materials Tom used on his house building jobs. Erica Van Horn & Simon Cutt's replica home is colorfully shown on the cover of the book as made by Tom. The interior of this house-made-book are the personal stories as shared by Erica, a builder of books and country ways all her own. It's a gem. Small Houses, Erica Van Horn (Coracle: www.coracle.ie)

Becoming an old guy, after decades of teaching and writing a few classics in the education field (36 Children ; The Open Classroom) Herbert Kohl, Painting Chinese (Bloomsbury) Kohl wonders how best to keep himself engaged - taking up lessons and learning Chinese landscape painting is one of the answers. It allows him to take part in the reverse angle of becoming a student and learning from those much younger and from diverse backgrounds. A short book that nicely completes the meditation.

Few have taken with them on the same trails, mountain tops and seashore hikes as Tom Slayton does in Searching for Thoreau (Images From the Past). Following the same routes as Henry David Thoreau blazed and providing detailed maps of the original's footway. "Not only for strength, but for beauty the poet must, from time to time, travel the logger's path and the Indian trail, to drink at some new and more bracing fountain of the Muses, far in the recesses of the wilderness." Tom Slayton pulls it off from his woodland brother's very words.

Julio Cortazar isn't going very far - some hundreds of miles in his VW camper aboard the Paris-Marseilles freeway that would normally take ten hours of travel time. With his young wife Carol Dunlop, they will do it together over thirty-three days, never leaving the highway. Roughing nights at campsites and rest areas, eating out of their own pan, writing up their daily journals and meetings with fellow travelers, along the way they would write this book Autonauts of the Cosmoroute (Archipelago) by typewriter on a picnic table in the shade, from their laps, on the steady fly a la Cortazar. Not to be missed, as we miss them, both authors would pass away within a year or two of their sojourn. What's the road book about? what every great road has been about - the large of minutiae.

Moondog, the Viking of the 6th Avenue, Robert Scotto (Process) with a 28 track CD spinning over five decades, plus rare photographs and details from the very early years of the mysterious blind and homeless street musician and composer's life, to his last decades when his works were performed by European orchestras. This is the authorized biography, with a preface by the musician's friend Philip Glass, who tolerated, barely, the carousing after women and the trash left behind in his home while he put-up Moondog for a year. Glass, of course, knew the Viking was of the solitary hero composer school, which includes Ruggles, Ives, Partch and a few other mavericks still awaiting full appreciation.

Vietnam Zippos, Sherry Buchanan (Chicago) independent scholar Sherry Buchanan has done a great service - tapping into the times and folk culture of American GIs in the Vietnam war (1965-1973) ranging with the simple flipcap zippo lighter, which was used both as an igniter of thatched roof huts of Vietnamese villagers by the peacekeeper American troops, as well as a signature piece, tattoo style engravings etched into the GIs zippo lighters of War & Peace and other blunt reflections. A hardback decorative book showcased beautifully throughout with Zippos from the extensive collection of Bradford Edwards, a candid commentary by Buchanan guides us well, and the price is right.

Good Fences, William Hubbell (Down East) excellent photographs, both historical and contemporary, with personal commentary along the trail of stone fences and other projects by the author, including well-drawn features with stone wallers around New England, this wide layout book edition is lavish all the way around from the author's appreciations to the publisher's respect and contribution. The synthesis is balanced and correct. The cover photograph of well-locked rubble, shim and top-rock will make any stone lover smile.

Two Carpenters, J. Ritchie Garrison (U/Tennessee Press) a stunning book, documenting through two New England builders, Calvin & George Stearns, during their period of the early nineteenth century, the influences, work habits, tools, as well as building and business practices that networked and filtered between city life and customs and rural communities (Northfield, Ma. / Brattleboro, Vt.) where the Stearns traveled between and finally settled into. Many homes they built in these communities are sturdy and pronounced to this day, revealing a legacy of character and tradition, borrowing and adaptation, perseverance. The detail of homes and locations, maps and routes is extensive and pinpointing. You'll want to come for a visit.

The Poem of a Life, Mark Scroggins (Shoemaker & Hoard) I'll leave the scholars to do the scholarly criticism, of which Mark Scroggins is but one, and elegantly so, but this is a beautiful book top to bottom for any reader. The reader wishing to be introduced to Louis Zukofsky; and the reader, like myself, who has been reading LZ for 40 years (which is the range of time the poet took to carve out his masterpiece "A"). There is an achieved great long poem ("A") for the mountain climbers of the book club, and there are bushels and bushels of short poems, as seriously carved out of a certain Hebraic, numerological, music, word-joyed granite. Scroggins misses no points - as he was guided a bit by the poet's own autobiography (Autobiography, 1970): the love and respect for LZ's wife Celia and family is here; all the poet friends spanning from Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams, straight up to that Boston boys two-some Cid Corman and Robert Creeley, with Basil Bunting, Lorine Niedecker and George Oppen in-between; LZs immigrant background: a father who pressed pants until he was 81 years of age and proved much more health hardy than his hypochondriac son - the son put it into the poetry muscle; and finally Scroggins gifts us with such a deep measure of appreciation for Zukofsky's craft, poems, trials, music, the beautiful overall. Here is a book that looks terrific in the hand. The often worrisome LZ nearly greeting us with a smile from the cover. Part of the publishing team is Jack Shoemaker who goes back eons through the skirts and frills of American poetry the last five decades and literally, like many of us, grew up with Zukofsky being almost a mad scientist name in the den of poets. Shoemaker brings the book home for us. And Mark Scroggins decides to stay away from the cauldron of gossip and spittle from the personal insight of Jerry Reisman, a student of Zukofsky's when the latter was a high school teacher in the late 20s. The two became very close friends until a breakup in the late 40s, and resentment from Reisman, thereafter, seemed to ring the bowl. There will be others, no doubt, weighing in on LZ and his relationship with one wondrous Lorine Niedecker and I await those building blocks. For now, Scroggins seems complete at remaining sensitive and decent to his subject, without minimizing the portrait's edge. Until shown differently, this is Leon Edel caliber scholarship from an author who ran one of Zukofsky's principles straight down the line "the poet's task is to think with things as they exist." Here here.




My grandfather carved
the crust from the bread.
My favorite. I ate it up.

My wife, making pie,
gives me the apple peel
she pares off in an endless S.

Give me your discards.
I will digest and
savor the scraps -

those secret untold stories
no one has time for,
all my favorite starting points.


-something new from Jonathan Greene, Heart Matters (Broadstone Books, 418 Ann St., Frankfort, KY. 40601-1929 / BroadstoneBooks.com)




The holy writ
in subterranean light

thick wet foggy

Our first Fathers
made their rage

and passion
in caves

Honoring bison

the sacred antelope

For clay for limestone
a hearth

This day ours
This day ours

for men


- Jeffery Beam, The Beautiful Tendons, uncollected queer poems 1969-2007 (White Crane Books, 2008 / www.gaywisdom.org)


Music while reading: Goin' Home, a tribute to Fats Domino; Issac Hayes, Ultimate Issac Hayes/can you dig it? ; Louis Armstrong, Louis Armstrong Sings; Hubert Sumlin, About Them Shoes (many visiting vocalists join the quiet master here, David Johansen could sing with Charley Patton); Levon Helm, Dirt Farmer; U2, Singles (a little stadium rock goes a long way on a heavy snowfall morning, trees and roofs heavy, and lots to hand shovel. This one morning it was pushing the nail heads out of the wall planks, as Godard's Alphaville was running on mute, with Bono's screaming "She moves in mysterious ways" as Anna Karina crossed the screen. Nice); three who got-it: Karen Dalton, Cotton Eyed Joe (a found recording of the little-recorded and premature loss of a legendary folksinger); Cat Power (which means Chan Marshall & friends), Jukebox; Martha Wainwright, Martha Wainwright - a unique musician who shows up and stands out either on a Leonard Cohen tribute, or some offhand concert date, the truest singer; Bobby Vee Gates, Grills & Railings; PJ Harvey, White Chalk; Feathers, Feathers (to be played with the windows open).


~ Bob Arnold, Green River, Vermont 1 March 08


remembering Heath Ledger



Dear Ted,

We probably agree that New England weather, and all weather, will be changing with the disastrous steerage of global warming...that payback-is-hell long moment that will one day burn the human species down to its height of intelligence. Long ago our forefathers (maybe not quite all of "ours") decided it was better to kill than to unite, and most definitely to spend and go into debt all the way from human communities to oily industry. It was okay for a very few to be wealthy and fat as Iowan hogs, and profit was all. Even the poor should give it a try. And since we 're a species who believes 'if you can't see it, it doesn't exist' (why true poetry is almost gone from us / replaced by a replica item of 'language') we are ruining Mother Nature and believe that since we won't be around, it won't happen. So much for mankind.

In the meantime, if you were here, right here, and having to endure our winter, you may have hung yourself by now. Days in a row amounting to a week to now a month and almost the whole winter season, we've barely seen the sun. And, when we do, we run for it not quite believing it is anything much after all. Camped on the studio steps, peeling an orange, watching the boots at least drip with snow melt. The stairs melt after they've been shoveled free of snow. The edge of the steel roofs may let go a little bit more. That's about it. We've had a half foot of snow in the trees through the woods, for a week now. It coats the valley right up the asshole when driving either north or south along the river, and the river moves in a crawl, somehow melting free during a minute of warmer temperatures. It reminds Susan and me of the 70s in the backwoods, though not nearly as cold as those times, when a shallow glass of water would start to freeze on the counter as one went to find the toothpaste. Those were the many years of no running water, shut off gravity-fed from Nov-April, or whenever it decided to wake up and begin to flow again. I always liked learning from a waterpipe, a tree branch, a chickadee. Often better than any man. The 70s had this snow and this constitution of snowing. It has been snowing something or other every day this week. Wake up to six more inches, then two during the day, another inch overnight...it creeps up on you. Though the 70s were much much colder, thus that start of ice in the cabin water jar. 30 below, as you well remember but probably don't want to, was often the norm through some of January and February. Bringing in the VW battery and setting it behind the woodstove was often the case if you had any desire to get off somewhere early the next day. I do recall, like yesterday, the worst day of them all - 40 below and I was hitchhiking off one snowy back road to another, dribbling rides. There were fewer people on the roads but we lived more alike, so there were frequent and friendly enough rides. One could get places. Old John Bell who lived up river and around the bend in his trailer, ratty as a refuge camp, but comfy to him, would get himself up the road two miles to the village and then be picked up by Susie who was then the postal carrier in her pickup truck and John got a ride by climbing up into the back bed under a cap. No one saw him, or Susie's often kind heart, and later that day she would drop John back off from his rounds in town, with his one burlap sack of groceries which was mostly filled with cat food cans that he may have dined from more than his ragbag of cats did. The ugliest in the world. I ended up owning one. Those were the days, my friend, when the snow was as deep as now and the world didn't seem it had any mind to change.

- Bob Arnold


Henrietta Yurchenco & Lydia Mendoza




I smell a big two headed rat in the New Hampshire primary, and while the Clinton dynasty is the flip side of the coin of the Bush family, it's the same coin.

Our man Obama was a 5-day phenomenon between Iowa and New Hampshire, only proving that assassination is out in America, when you can have a rival and crooked Democratic Party which wants in a quasi-woman / stolid bureaucrat, before a black dude. Even though the black dude is a born leader with the qualities to lead (his words) and galvanize a bipartisan lust.

A President is supposed to be a leader, we have forgotten this having lived through decades of egomaniacs and brats. The agencies, cabinet and lobbyists run the world...but a President can get by all day and all night being a leader. Like Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR etc., all with words. Obama is that sort and it scares the by-jesus out of the Democratic Party. He is a humanist, whereas the Clintons (you get the cad with the bureaucrat) are status quo, and if we have anything now with buy outs and the absolute destruction of the true independent thinker and business, it's complete status quo. Dylan is with Starbucks; the smallest nest built twigs & seeds Indie labels are being bought up by the oily infused conglomerates; Neil Young flirts with Clear Channel radio. It's (freedom) gone.

Iowa will go down in history where a phenomenon occurred amongst a state which is more white than New Hampshire. It upset the cart worldwide, swept in a true independent and it had every single pollster and media minion predicting a near massacre by Obama to Clinton in NH. From far left to far right agreed. That was human reality. In real reality (camera always running, big brother at the helm, what you are witnessing isn't true: stolen election before one's eyes in Florida 2000, stolen again in 04 in Ohio and elsewhere, 9-11 occurrence dominating the fold) the crooked Dem Party, run by Father Clinton (a Reaganite in Gap clothing right down to his ego) wants a bureaucrat before a humanist, a minority, a real deal. It was getting awful uncomfortable there for the media to watch a black man wooing white women farm stock in Iowa, instead of a white glossy policy- wonk who has groomed herself all her life for that entitlement. Besides, her husband, already owns the mantle as "the first black President". Why have a real African American, when you can have a fake one? The tears episode was a performance, as was the question asked of her. Cameras rolling. We have a white former President who thinks he is black; we have a woman candidate who thinks and works like pure bureaucracy and nothing like a human being, never mind a woman; and we have a true black candidate with the ability to encompass woman, man, child in one golden speech after speech and we're going to doubt the man has experience?! Isn't experience experience revealed?

Iowa, which no one was really paying attention to, was the true petri dish of what did occur. By New Hampshire they had Obama derailed, even though not one voice had him losing that state. It's all about delegates and that's where Clinton is driving (she's already ahead there), but first her agency, run by her husband who wants that White House back no matter the cost (he'll keep the war machine going as he did in eastern Europe and the Middle East) had to get her topside and back with the press. You ain't alive unless you're a mainlined double-talker and co-opted head to toe. But for a moment there, brother, we were Black.


~ Bob Arnold, Green River, Vermont 9 Jan 08


Other Woodburners from 2007

Other Woodburners from 2006

Other Woodburnersfrom 2005

Other Woodburnersfrom 2004

Other Woodburnersfrom 2003

Earlier Woodburner Reviewsfrom 2002


Home / About Longhouse / Catalogs / Reviews and Resources / Contact Us/To Order / Write Us


© 2010 Bob Arnold & updated January, 2010
© 2010 by two-hands
[email protected]