Monday, July 28, 2014

All the Contents of Detached Retinas, Page 4

The following is all the contents of detached Retinas, page 4. I'm sure of this because I just pulled it off the shelf. Nothing in this poem actually happened. Maybe the apple part. I think that did happen. 

New Years Eve 1995

It gets small again
So we order a pizza.
In March we were in love
With the classifieds
And in October picked apples.
But last week I found her in bed
Eating pizza with the delivery boy.
Tonight Dick Clark orders a huge
Ball to drop on New York City.
Shit, that was a year of my life.

Although I consider myself to be a fairly confessional poet, almost nothing in the book Detached Retinas really happened. I wrote most of these poems on the porch of the house my brother and some friends had rented on Quincy Ave here in Rockford. I slept in a closet for a while there while I was delivering Sears appliances. After I started bartending I got my own place, but we had a lot of good times there. The first poem written that I used in this book was Measurements, and I wrote it in a cubicle at the PLC at Rock Valley College. Maybe I'll post that one tomorrow. 

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Taking Out the Garbage Poem

The digital age presents us with all sorts of new scenarios. I used to not believe a poem that I had written on the computer didn't really exist until I could print it out, or write it down. I've gotten over this, and now i almost feel a poem isn't real until I have archived it digitally. Detached Retinas is my second book of poetry, published in 1997, and it only exists in book form, and on scans I uploaded for Google. But since they are scans, I have no way to copy and paste them. I'm going to post a few here over the next few weeks. 

The Garbage

Hunched over the scandal 
You've called me to clean up,
Because I keep to myself,
Because my degree is in apathy,
Because what's in my eyes
Is a lie.
The blood is the easy part,
An acquired taste,
And the body more easily
Disposed of than conceived.
Because I love you.
Because I hate everyone
You hate.
Because someone must take
Out the garbage.

Detached Retinas, 1997, by Thomas L. Vaultonburg. Publishing was much different then. This book went from my journals, to a laser printer, to Book Masters in Ohio in three days. It came back two weeks later. Offset printing. For  some inconceivable reason, I have insisted on doing the covers of ll my books. This one is by far the worst.

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No Digitals Were Cut Down In the Making of this Blog About Poetry

What's it going to look like when you get to heaven, or Mt. Olympus, or the depths of Cthulublulewhatever, and the gods ask you if you've read my books? It's going to look bad, man. You're going to panic and come up with some lame excuse like you didn't have time, then they're going to sentence you to a Hell of reading my books for 6,000 years. I don't want that to happen to you. Just read the books now. I'm trying to save you a lot of trouble.

I used to have a lot of guilt about these books, because they were made from trees, and I couldn't really find any way to justify that. But now they're just digital files. I can write and write and write and only digitals die. I have actually always hated writing. It's a painful process. I was told early on that I wasn't good at it. Of course they never told me what I was good at, so I decided if I had to choose among things I was already bad at, why not write? 

It's the worst time in history to be a writer. The best, I guess, too. It's not a good time for me because I write poetry. That was a stupid choice. Doesn't seem like it was really a choice. I don't remember ever choosing it. I wish there had been an instructional video, like the hygiene video we all watched in third grade. "Don't be a poet. You'll write and write and write and feel self-important, but no one will care. Remember, people hate poetry, and poets. So wash your schmecko, but don't write poetry."

It would be unfair to say they never warned me. Every time they caught me doing poetry as a child they told me how it was going to turn out. Of course, they were right. They weren't ever right about anything else, but that one fact seems to be one of the core truths of the fabric that holds the Universe together. Nobody wants poetry. Poetry is like zucchini here in the Midwest about midsummer. Proud gardeners load up their trucks with zucchini and diligently set out trying to find someone who hasn't already been given two or three bushels by a friend. Undaunted, they return home with all that zucchini in their truck and jot down plans on next years garden. They plant it because it grows.

So does poetry. 

It grows. Slowly. 

I would be powerless in any case to abandon it. Leave it on someone else's doorstep like an unwanted child. No, that's not fair, there are no unwanted children. A child I don't feel I can do right for in this world. If I could trade in poetry for a steady advertising writing job I'd be hard-pressed to say no. My hours are much better. Aside from the guilt about the trees, I don't have much of a guilty conscience that I was implicit in a process to divest people of their hard-earned money buying dangerous, ineffective, and just downright superfluous items that in the end would add no value or comfort to their lives, but somehow I get the impression there aren't a lot of people who work in advertising that go home feeling guilty about that.

Oh, buy these books. There should be pictures and links after that, I guess, but it's a heavy wind coming in the window, and I have to do the dishes. You're not going to buy them anyway, right? So, in terms of effective time management, doing the dishes is a better bet than spending another twenty minutes creating those links. I have written books. Since I was very young. They tried to stop me. I thought they hated me. But that's not true. They really were looking out for me. 

One time someone read a blog entry I posted about sports, and took exception, and said well you look like an asshole, anyway. I thought that was funny, because I don't look like an asshole. I mean, I AM an asshole, but I don't look like one. I get more negative feedback from writing about sports than any other thing, and I know if I just woke up and wrote about sports I'd triple my readership. But nobody would buy the books, anyway, and then I'd have wasted my time writing about something rather meaningless. 

Sometimes I look at the kids and hope they don't fall in love with something that doesn't love them back. There's no reason for it. Just go with your second choice. Nobody said you were going to be deliriously happy with whatever it is you do to pay the bills. I'll tell them for sure not to write poetry. No, on second thought, saying some dipshit thing like that is exactly the kind of thing that can get a kid hooked on a lifelong addiction to poetry. Instead, I'll do what I'm doing with you. Offer you poetry. Without shame. Here's poetry. It has no use. That should be enough to steer them clear of this wreckage.

Well, the fish debris should be softening enough on the plates so I can wash them without scraping too much. Nice talking to you.

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Another Poem From Flesh Wounds

  Another poem from my book, Flesh Wounds.


   Say something interesting. 
   Come to our dinner party 
   And insult our queer friends. 
   Please stay in our basement 
   And pee in our sink. 

   You’re our very first poet. 
   We were hoping for PP 
   But we heard some nice 
   Things about you, too. 

   Say something outrageous. 
   Eat light bulbs and peanut 
   Butter and be feral and 
   Nasty and awful to us. 

   You’re a real poet. 

   Come out on the town with us 
   And cause a scene. 
   Drink enough for us all 
   And go to jail for us all. 

   Please get us some 
   Good drugs. Don’t forget 
   To write nice things 
   About us. 

   You don’t mind, 
   Do you? 

Flesh Wounds, by Thomas Vaultonburg

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Poem For Much Better Poets

   Poem For Much Better Poets 

   The Guggenheim Poet 
   Knows how you feel. 
   Knows exactly how you feel. 

   The Poet Laureate 
   Is a precious instrument 
   Who can predict minute 
   Changes in the weather 
   And knows without being told 
   What a headless swan 

   The NEA poets had 
   Grannies in Dachau 
   And uncles who were 
   Funny drunks and 
   Parents kind enough to die 
   In fascinating ways 
   So they’d have something 
   Tragic to write about. 

   The University poets have 
   Magical gardens filled 
   With sylphs and faeries 
   And see Etruscan warriors 
   And fertility goddesses sucking 
   On Slurpies at the 7-11.  

   The Academy of Poets 
   Gathers at the Scranton 
   Ramada to discuss 
   Retirement benefits and 
   The future of poetry. 
   Somewhere nearby 
   Ron Androla demonstrates 
   How the right seven words 
   Can simultaneously 
   Offend everyone.  

   The next morning  
   The Good Poets 
   Stroll confidently 
   With all their heartfelt 
   Observations (and dental plans) 
   Tucked away in leather  
   Italian valises to classes 
   Of yawning undergraduates. 

   We all know how they feel. 

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Why I Might Give Up Watching Pornography Next Week

I haven't watched any pornography this week. The week isn't over, but I don't think I'll watch any. I'm not making any conscious effort not to watch any, that's just how the cookie crumbled, so to speak.

Pornography is one of those third entry issues in worldwide culture. People love it. In most places people have lobbied hard for their right to watch it. But it's just not good for you. You know that. I know that. We all know that. 

Still, there it is. Everywhere. Free. 

Somebody sure has gone to great lengths to make it available to you for free. I'd say thank you, but I'm not sure you've done me any favors. Or any of us.

In 5th grade this kid named Scott passed around these car part magazines to every boy in fifth grade. Why they were considered treasure to us at that wondrous age was because they had a picture of a naked woman washing a dirty car on page 25. Damn right I remember what page it was.

And that's the point. If there is a point. There really isn't a point, but that example of nudity charged my body with all the essential vitamins and minerals necessary to spend some alone time in the bathroom. 

That's not really a good example because I was trying to workout the point that needing visual stimulation to get your equipment working probably is a losing proposition in the end.

Anyway, I might stop watching pornography next week. I might not. I feel like I should because it's far more wrong than right. You could try and construct some bullshit counterargument, but you'd be wrong, and you'd know it. 

You could write some snarky article about it, but you'd probably sound like a fat person trying to convince themselves bacon fat iced cream is actually good for them. I don't really give much of a flying shit what you do. But I don't feel all right about pornography. Not as currently constructed. 

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You don’t bend that way 
And they know it. 
The raps and blows are meant 
To empty your head 
Of the thoughts that 
Terrify them. 

It’s all done in the open  
With hot dogs and lemonade 
For the kids. 

Now when you protest 
It will be in defiance 
Of rigged wrestling matches 
And when you rail 
It will be for I Love 
Lucy re-runs. 

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