The farmers win in the radio
over Mohdi—their black flags catch the TV glint.
I flip through my mom’s book: California Rock California Sound:
perfect blonde waves
of Joni hair or Jackson Browne on Big Sur bluffs
grinning high and glorified.
Was there really anything there?
Anything all that different from our own nasty decades?
Moby in that doc on Woodstock ’99
hates his compatriots in the nu metal scene. He sequesters in lasers and bass kicks nonstop
in trance noise bodies thrash rave tent and floor. College kids ride plywood boards.
The movie is boring and I wonder if we have anything to say at all.
I could try
to string up a hole in the ground.
A gopher portal, ditch, or crevice under metal strings tightly wound
to produce songs primordial, or just plain bad, or cricket aggression in spring.
I read a little Crying of Lot 49 to know my new city
where each human is himself a lonely and psychedelic wave of impossible complexity.
I dribble into Plath’s Ariel like I always do and awe.
Lowell’s pedantic forward imperializing gaze. He admires her crunchiest Massachusetts verse,
her sharp and willowy form. A poetics of giving up.
His pig verse should be pasted over with a thousand girls’ photo collages.
I insist to my own debaters that the critics are wrong—
words have souls, lives, hope in every explainer’s manual and instructive signage.
Art is valid in this game of “truth,” or should at least be considered.
The debaters aren’t even remotely convinced.
We’ve to think of poetry as conjuring spell and linking code
before the crystal grippers and star singers ruin it for the rest of us.
I flip through old scribbled debate flow, professional development ADHD evidence,
lesson brain storms, gaunt and sallow-eyed characters in the college-ruled margins:
I insist we’re all birds: some songs learned while others we’re born knowing.
In the gene editing era, we’ll have a new name for generations
that know a thousand new species: each useful or at least helpful
in combatting new sexy and terrible tides of our death drive.
They’ll come to us
any day down in craggy or chromed out purple transporter hole
through symbol crash and gasp.
Through the peak of blue sky in a 100-mile wave.
I’m always drifting back to a workshop comment about how my poems just sort of wander off.
I want to write something beautiful, immediate, and concrete
about a Radio Flyer wagon, a VHS camera, a glass of milk, and kids in thrifted
clothes ironic to capture their era, and imitating
TV violence for fun in the late hours of history.
When the forward push of all we know finds a path
through breathing and smiling flowers.
When we dance the inventor’s glee and he, himself, solves the sweet supremacy.
A path of flowers inhales and exhales bones.
I flip through The World of Cactus and Succulents. They suggest you build
the little desert plants a home on a cross of old fence planks
rather than cramming them all in like that.
I flip through my scribblings on adolescent brain development schema,
my crudely drawn character graphs, brute cursive
black pen notes from internet talk therapy
small town sensibility shit and friends I’d rather not have,
political suicide rhetoric, burn-longing, infinite flame,
other ugly dispositions I care not to type up in plain verse.
I write only for myself or my own fake god
hovering over me like a golden cloud,
or for the people I’m jealous of. “We could all retreat to mountain towns,” I write.
“The practice and push…
…how steep the hills become in our tiny shameless world.”
I’ve big plans to type all this up in the Lompoc light of my mom’s new spot
at the table my father built on Olive Street.
My mom gasps at an article title about the threat of fire.
Rockets from Vandenburg rattle our home. We watch the orange thing
pierce the ozone.
My parents are done with CNN. They read the news digest.
The devil of these shadows is their absence and angle.
I think Plath is chasing life, even in these late lines and hours
each cell festering before the boom.
Will Vincent’s chapbook, Wildfires: I-XVI was recently published with speCt!. His poems and articles have appeared in The Elephants, Scout, PANK Magazine, Entropy, HTML Giant, and The Iowa Review. He co-wrote a short film with Adam Shecter and edited a chapbook of the same title for the video installation New Year, displayed at the Eleven Rivington gallery in New York. He lives in Culver City, California.