Poets Off Poetry
Revisit the first two installments of our Poets Off Poetry series, guest-edited by Jackie Clark.
Fed You From The Blood of My Nose: A Medley Melodic
by Amy King
Music wallpapers my poetry. Just ask Wilco and the title of my second book. The poems detail a myriad of styles, subjects, and ways of being, as do the lyrics and chords I eat daily. So when invited to dish on the tunes that make my pen move, I decided to select at random, rather than prioritize, a few songs that fill my intuitive gullet and spill out in a rush of word sculptures.
Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s poetry blesses us all. He’s got persona poems like “Horses” , which has us “jumping through hoops of flames” – we’re the regular Joes chasing a tail, kicking out against the darkness that rocks the background, even as we move in on Death, seeking angels and steady-footing. The persona’s as old as time.
But I go off in a David Lynch mist whenever I tune the Prince in. He’s a psychologist. He draws us near and comforts with familiar old country sounds, but he doesn’t comfort with easy comforts. He takes an unsteady ride. That ride digs deep and secretly in a voice that kills certainties, our securities, our apartments and homes and dinnertimes with “Death’s head ring upon his finger” pointing us out, standing alone, just a “poor boy hanging on the light.” We’re each a paycheck away … But his turns are sly enough to stop us from running away – we stand beneath the UFO, watching and waiting. It’s a “Strange Form of Life” if you’ve ever lived it.
“Strange Form of Life” – Bonnie Prince Billy (mp3)
You could also infuse your head with “Agnes Queen of Sorrow” to ride the textures of Lust’s underbelly, clamped by the vice grip of patience. With very few words, Billy’s voice aches us. Nearly every human knows this desire. And if not, the Prince will sing you how.
Where else do I play to get the pen pushing paper?
Joseph Arthur’s 1997 “Porcupine” went bold where he doesn’t carry the same heat these days – I gave in and busted into poem when this cousin-of-Bjork riff pricked my midnight head. Press play while reading:
“Porcupine” – Joseph Arthur (mp3)
Fed You From the Blood of My Nose
by Amy King
Spanish bones in Disco Casinos,
Is this some kind of false snow on guilty whiskers?
No, this Suburban Splendor eats chunks I grow on—
There are fathers too, hunks of lamb shanks
in Rib Eye-Darts glaring up from their gutters:
Murder the perfect clouds the mouth makes
drinking random sugars, liquors of American pastimes
uneaten by the Very Cooked, Toilet-trained, already
bread and wine are the most participating people.
How can one sustain a life on Scarred Politicians
not at all concerned by the departure of her stranger?
Everyone gets One plus next year’s replacement
ghost, my future children who want to protect and provide
A game that is electronic-strength, access born from thumb
wrestling another woman’s thighs—I place the frame
around the globe, the frame around her region, visit lavender
access often. Stroke the Earth or midnight’s news to see
Where everything thickens, a skeletal face does bump
after bump, putting the Nostril back after all together,
milkweed into heather into lily white spider scabs
bringing us back into brine back into us altogether, high.
I know the transitional, functional laughter, and the friendly
Nothing holds but this, our longest dessert ever after.
Nothing ever makes sense, but on the Day of the Dead,
a Waltz was never clung to. Go shave now, Porcupine.
So now you want stories? Sense making? CocoRosie’s got straight-up story. “South 2nd” sweats the death of a poor Brooklyn kid and his mother’s distress – this isn’t the money-making sensational inner-city drama of the Tough Kid who dies in a glory of machismo sacrifice. This is a mother given over to violence to save her kid. And she loses. And CocoRosie doesn’t want you to think the baseball bats and super gats are just flashy tools of the trade. They brought her kid down. And another, and another, and a mother gets a lament from the deal, her baby now dead. Sound familiar? We send soldiers and get weeping mothers daily.
“South 2nd (live)” – CocoRosie (mp3)
CocoRosie also does straight-up subversion, which is why I turn back to them when I feel especially dead-in-the-water. “I carry this carapace worn thin by he and she” – This “Promise” upsets your expectations of being wooed by some public love devotional, instead leaving you panting to fulfill a need you haven’t named yet.
They sing and rap with an urgency that runs rampant over old-school notions of gender and what to do about traditionally-patterned expectations, “Swing open the door / freed the caged bees and wallows / Swarm geometric patterns on the sun / Eclipse new moon / And tempt my werewolf not to run”, leaving me in the lurches of trying a similar feat through poetry.
Progressive subversion also holds true with the oh-so-lovely-and-sweet CocoRosie hit, “By Your Side”. These geniously-productive musicians are anything but women who would literally declare:
I’ll iron your clothes
I’ll shine your shoes
I’ll make your bed
And cook your food
I’ll never cheat
I’ll be the best girl you’ll ever meet
And for a diamond ring
I’ll do these kinds of things
I’ll scrub your floor
Never be a bore
I’ll tuck you in
I do not snore
I’d wear your black eyes
Bake you apple pies
I don’t ask why
–from “By Your Side”
Feminism 101 is as American as apple pie, unless you happen to be “women eager to win male approval … who fear their boyfriends might look at them funny…” And the saccharinized message here is something along the lines of “Recognize the hypocrisy of expecting women to wholly buy into and fulfill these traditions.” Oh to persuade with such complete and utter irony as executed through the mesmerizing voices and music of Bianca & Sierra Casady.
“Don’t Be Afraid, You’re Already Dead” – Akron/Family (mp3)
Finally, every now and then I also go for the celebratory tune to raise words from my cob-webbed recesses only joy and church-like jubilation can deliver. Akron/Family surpasses my pre-requisites with nine-minute-long journeys like “Future Myth.”
“Future Myth” – Akron/Family (mp3)
One thing I like about these guys, who I have interviewed before for miPOradio, is that they break the traditional boy-competitive model with a cooperation for musical composition usually assigned to “girls.” “Counting shadows in the sun, / There’s enough for everyone.” And “We forgot about ourselves and/Reconnected me to you.” And “The future myth / Global views of things we’ve / missed uh huh. / Like finding scissors, / Right in front of us.” Damn – can’t I just quote the whole thing? Dear Writerly-stricken, board an Akron/Family flight before yesterday, if you still have air to lift.
Amy King is the author of I’m the Man Who Loves You and Antidotes for an Alibi, both from BlazeVOX Books, and The People Instruments (Pavement Saw Press). She is the editor-in-chief for the literary arts journal MiPOesias, an interview correspondent for miPOradio, and the editor of the Poetics List, sponsored by The Electronic Poetry Center (SUNY-Buffalo/University of Pennsylvania). Amy teaches English and Creative Writing at SUNY Nassau Community College. Her poems have been nominated for several Pushcart Prizes, and she has been the recipient of a MacArthur Scholarship for Poetry. She is currently editing an anthology, The Urban Poetic, forthcoming from Factory School. Please visit www.amyking.org for more.
MORE AMY KING LINKS YOU WILL ENJOY
buy it here
Amy’s blog is here.
“Franny/You’re Human” – Akron/Family (mp3)
“Afford” – Akron/Family (mp3)
“Before and Again” – Akron/Family (mp3)
buy it here
PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING
Will discussed his favorite songs of the half year.
Bill Hendrickson met his soon to be fourth wife.
The return of Shia LaBeouf.