To the Point

There comes a time in every epoch when pragmatism simply evolves into extreme acquiescence and surrender to the forces of apathy and do-nothingness, a guarantor of the status quo in all of its easy, democratic criminality--its fortress of greed.--TL Simons

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"The Boss" Revisited

Years ago I was a huge Bruce Springsteen fan. I was particularly taken in 1978 when his fourth album came out--"Darkness on the Edge of Town."

I've revisited that album tonight. It's holding its own in these times. It's still one of my favorites.

"The Boss." Seldom do I like musicians who become as rich and famous as The Boss (few are worth the fuss), but I really think he deserves what he has for the most part.

But of all of his work, "Nebraska" remains my favorite.


On Publishing Books

I must be nuts (o.k., I am nuts). I am completely enthralled by books, and particularly the books I'm publishing here at Round Bend Press. But let us just say books in general. They're magical. I always loved reading, a life long habit, I guess. There is so much to read and so little time, as true bibliophiles note. One will never have time to read all that is worthy.

Peck away at the big library list.

I like holding books, physically touching them. I like opening books up and looking at words and giving them a shot. Try to comprehend what someone else is saying. I know the person who wrote that book cares. I'll start the book. If it interests me I'll keep going. First and foremost, I'll give it a shot.

Few people I know are as enthralled by books in general as I am, however. And I mostly get yawns from the new people I meet and tell about RBP and this passion I have. You meet a little hostility at times.

It's odd. Some people are virulently opposed to books in general. "I don't read--" I hear that refrain a lot. It puzzles me. I can't imagine a life without books and reading. It fucking amazes me.

A new book (proof) came from Lulu today. A beauty by K.C. Bacon titled "Morandi's Bottles." Morandi was a mid-twentieth century Italian artist, an inspiration to K.C. The book has a gorgeous cover (a painting by K.C.) and forty highly accomplished poems. What's not to like about that?

Well, we're in an era of extreme anti-intellectualism in America now. Another refrain I hear a lot is, "I don't read poetry." "I wrote a poem," I once announced to a friend. "Oh, Christ!" she exclaimed. I thought this women had better sense. That is I thought she had a poetic sensibility. She worked in the theater for years, a notable director here in Portland. "Please, not poetry!" she said.

What a fucking bitch! Ha! Her hatred of poetry made me despise her. Lit love and hate!

I gave my business card to a new acquaintance the other day. He practically threw it back in my face. "What the fuck do I need with a press," he said. He worked in construction, a hard hat. I hate to generalize, but hard hats are fucking dumb!

No, I don't know very many people with the passion that I have for books. I guess that is why I make them and they don't.

They do other things. Good for them.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

In My Old Age--Poems by Charles Deemer

Charles Deemer doesn't mess around. He has already designed the cover for the Round Bend Press edition of "In My Old Age," which we'll publish this summer. Very nice and a welcomed addition to the RBP catalog.

Scroll his blog to see some of the fine poems he'll bring to the book.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Morandi's Bottles--Poems by K.C. Bacon

A proof copy of "Morandi's Bottles," by K.C. Bacon, will arrive in the mail in a few days. I don't anticipate any problems with this book, so buy it now! K.C. is a fine poet and a bright, funny writer.

RBP will have a reading this summer or fall with Charles Deemer, K.C., myself, and a couple of others reading from Round Bend's catalog.

Bob/Sam, you are on the ticket for our reading in a few months. Get ready. (Sam White's "The Huncke Poems" in the Cold Eye anthology are among my favorites in that book.)



I tried to have dinner at Rialto tonight. But my order of pulled pork sliders didn't arrive. When the blond bimbo set the tacos in front of me and I said, "No," she threw me out.

I am so tired of these idiots.

Restaurant slaves. Listen you guys and gals, your dead-end job is not my problem.

What bitches. And asses.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Gone and Missed (Roger Blakely III)

My great friend Roger Blakely III died a year ago in a bizarre tragedy on the freeway near Albany, Oregon. Attempting to cross the road on foot, he was struck by a southbound car and died at the scene.

Roger was coming home to Portland after spending a few years in California where he attended college, first at a JC in the Los Angeles area, then at Humboldt State on the northern coast. Though born and raised in SoCal, he loved Oregon, particularly Portland, having lived here for a decade before beginning his studies in California.

Roger was a gifted man, though sometimes he was unaware of that, inasmuch as he could put himself down with the best of us. He got too much into the drink at times as well, like many a soulful person, but he was a loving man even when he occasionally crossed his pals.

Around 2005 I was taking classes at Portland State and I'd written a poem that I thought might have something to it. I showed it to Roger, who really seemed to understand it and praised it with his usual dry reserve. The poem is called "Cello Music," and it is actually about a beautiful woman I know, but one might say it is also about beauty in general.

It was fitting that Roger "got" the poem, for he once trained on the instrument and loved the cello sound. The inherently beauteous sound that a great artist can draw from the cello.

When he lived in Arcata in northern California he once wrote and requested that I send him "Cello Music." I guess he had lost the copy I'd given him years before.

He remembered the poem.

Last month I published a book of my poetry here at Round Bend Press--"Cello Music & Other Poems." I dedicated the book to Roger.

Sadly, that is all I could do for him in the end. All his friends in Portland miss him terribly.

Terence and I raised a toast to his memory just this last weekend.


Too Little, Too Late

This one is too focused to ignore, too right on, too near the essence:

"If protecting civilians from evil dictators was the goal, though -- as opposed to, say, safeguarding natural resources and the investments of major oil companies -- there’s an easier, safer way than aerial bombardment for the U.S. and its allies to consider: simply stop arming and propping up evil dictators. After all, Libya's Muammar Gaddafi reaped the benefits from Western nations all too eager to cozy up to and rehabilitate the image of a dictator with oil, with those denouncing him today as a murderous tyrant just a matter of weeks ago selling him the very arms his regime has been using to suppress the rebellion against it."

Here is the rest of the story from Benjamin and Davis at CommonDreams.

I know I said I wasn't going to post much from the leftist press because you already know the truth. But this piece hits the mark in so many ways I couldn't resist.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Ho Hum for Now

A friend of mine once said, regarding basketball, "Do they still use one ball in that game?" Funny line, I used it in an ad I put together when I worked at a semi-sports pub years ago. Quoted my friend too, the ceramic artist Charles Lucas.

At the time I was a huge March Madness fan and really looked forward to the games. My interest has been waning over the subsequent years.

I don't love the tournament the way I once did. I don't know why, really, except everything looks the same. There's a tinge of mediocrity in the tourney, for the best players leave college in a "one and done" circus and sign professional contracts.

Quite frankly it is beginning to bore me, like much else in life these days. Of course, if the University of Oregon ever gets back to the tournament, my interest will probably rise again, at least relative to the Ducks.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011


A small favor (or something)

You know I
am full of bullshit
but I request of you
a small favor (please)
play along

we haven’t time
to waste and we
have (too much) much
to do to keep pace
with things that
need be done

(Or we have
nothing to do in
the existential view but
no matter
moving on)

I implore you
to play along while
the chorus sings
and the world sinks
(as we swim)
to the nearest shore

(If indeed a shore
is there which it may
very well not
be) but which likely is
there (if but a dot
on the horizon)

to see
and to finally attempt
the impossible
(for it may be
somewhat plausible to
play along with
my bullshit just
this once)
I may have
the answer (perhaps)

Before dinner
(and only
if you want
to eat of course)
please grant me
a small favor
or something like
that and do
not mention this
ever happened (that
is me seeking
a favor) to


Revisiting Kees' Robinson

In conversation with a friend over the weekend about things worth reading, I discovered my pal wasn't familiar with this tremendous Weldon Kees poem, which I've cited here before, but which is well worth reposting. Kees remains one of my favorite writers.

Aspects of Robinson

Robinson at cards at the Algonquin; a thin
Blue light comes down once more outside the blinds.
Gray men in overcoats are ghosts blown past the door.
The taxis streak the avenues with yellow, orange, and red.
This is Grand Central, Mr. Robinson.

Robinson on a roof above the Heights; the boats
Mourn like the lost. Water is slate, far down.
Through sounds of ice cubes dropped in glass, an osteopath,
Dressed for the links, describes an old Intourist tour.
—Here’s where old Gibbons jumped from, Robinson.

Robinson walking in the Park, admiring the elephant.
Robinson buying the Tribune, Robinson buying the Times. Robinson
Saying, “Hello. Yes, this is Robinson. Sunday
At five? I’d love to. Pretty well. And you?”
Robinson alone at Longchamps, staring at the wall.

Robinson afraid, drunk, sobbing Robinson
In bed with a Mrs. Morse. Robinson at home;
Decisions: Toynbee or luminol? Where the sun
Shines, Robinson in flowered trunks, eyes toward
The breakers. Where the night ends, Robinson in East Side bars.

Weldon Kees


Monday, March 7, 2011

Billy Bragg and Beef Tips

I'm ripping some Billy Bragg into my computer, testing Billy's egalitarian streak. No royalties, baby. But you are the best.

I'm having beef tips with veggies and rice tonight, and a glass or two of wine.

Isn't life grand?

And I almost forgot. I'm listening to John Prine and cooking a corned beef slab in my crock. I'll add carrots, onion, cabbage and potatoes tomorrow. Goin' Irish early this year!

So life is doubly grand.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Before David Brooks

David Brooks, of New York Times punditry fame, weighs in with a re-evaluation of Samuel Huntington's famous essay and later book, "Clash of Civilizations" (see link below). Brooks says Sam H. may have gotten things a little skewed, which is what I said back in

Here is my essay on Huntington from the winter 2008 Oregon Literary Review.


London calling to the faraway towns
Now that war is declared-and battle come down
London calling to the underworld
Come out of the cupboard, all you boys and girls
London calling, now don't look at us
All that phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust
London calling, see we ain't got no swing
'Cept for the ring of that truncheon thing

"London Calling" The Clash

Samuel P. Huntington argues in his 1993 essay The Clash of Civilizations that future world conflict will center on religious and cultural ideas rather than traditional battles among nation- states that grew up after the Treaty of Westphalia, in 1648. Prior to the treaty, conflict arose from the economic and territorial interests of princes, emperors and monarchs, Huntington notes. With the subsequent rise of nation-states, nationalism bred conflicts between masses of people, as aristocracies and their elite armies lost power and new ideological concerns replaced them. Thus grew democracies and classical capitalism, followed by the antidotes of fascism and communism. That style of conflict is all gone, Huntington argues, replaced by nascent religious and cultural conflicts.

This is an interesting theme, but in the end it falls to pieces. What is more apparent now is a provocation by the emerging corporate fascists of the West against Middle Eastern nations which refuse to play along with the West’s extremely self- aggrandizing conceptualization of democracy. The provocation is rooted in the old capitalistic doctrines of colonization. Any concerns for cultural ideology, including Huntington’s, are disingenuously designed to disguise the hegemonic and classical capitalistic maneuvering of the West. For instance, the point of the conflict between the West and the oil producing countries of Iraq and Iran is overwhelmingly economic (Taliq Ali refers to the U.S./Iraq war as a recolonization), and not religious or cultural. If one looks carefully at the Christian and Muslim faiths and the cultures which support them, and honestly evaluates the degree to which the masses are involved in religious discordance, a “clash of civilizations” is resoundingly quiet. On the other hand, a look at the leadership of the Western and Middle Eastern nations is depressive.

Iran is led by religious zealots at the moment, but the people there are divided as to the function of religion in the political realm. Fascism, more than religious and cultural phenomena is stirring the politics there. The same could be said regarding the U.S., where a “born again” Christian has manipulated the U.S. Constitution to create an executive strangle hold on a reluctant legislative body. In both instances, politicians and their corporatist associates formulate the ideological debate for their people without meaningful religious and cultural components, as they have since the advent of modern capitalism and the withering of the Church in state affairs. This formulation is only now being refined into an advanced stage of corporate fascism.

Until they revolt, the people are important within the context of corporate fascism only inasmuch as they confirm and support corporatism's’ ideologies, which are separate from any meaningful religious or cultural qualities. Cultures are, as Jose Ortega y Gasset notes in "Revolt of the Masses," too diversified in their structure to be merely political. The less political people are the easier it is for elites to control them and thence carry on with the more important agenda—the accumulation of wealth. Cultural and religious “problems” make convenient scapegoats, then, as one sniffs out the next big movement threatening corporatism.

All of this is to say that the ideological and economic consequences of nationalism will not soon disappear, as Huntington suggests when he says the end of the Cold War has created a new phase in world politics. What he has done in his essay is place, without much evidence, the blame for the world’s political instability on religious and cultural differences. He supports corporatism’s newest shibboleths of economy by extolling, without much support for his argument, the beneficence of economic globalization. His assumption is that globalization is ultimately good. His argument reveals a concern for protecting that precept rather than seriously examining the effects of globalization on the cultures and economies of the Developing Nations. (We don’t call the Third World by its old name now, because those nations are after all doing so well under globalization).

Huntington’s essay is already dated. The future is here and the conflicts of this moment are yet rooted in nationalism, economic inequality, corporate greed, world poverty, civil war, disease, and terror. To place the root cause of conflict in cultural and religious contexts without examining socioeconomic and capitalistic ideology with a more discerning analysis is shallow. Civilization is fine. It is misconstrued and shoddy political ideology that is problematic.


So there. Call me prescient, or whatever you like.

Here is Brook's essay.