BLOOD ON THE AMERICAN HIGHWAY

there is blood on the american highway
red paint splattered on white median lines beneath a blue sky
we run from coast to coast
we take off in the night, trunk left open, and we fly through the eye of the needle
into the rocky mountains in search of the final sun
that sun which burns brightly dying for california
we kiss the hills along the way
we salute the cold night concrete with lit cigarettes left to ash
we don’t know where we go
we just do as the green signs tell us to

the lostest of the lost pioneers
disoriented we are disoriented we follow the smoke signals
we drive right through the indian ghost the song of the past
we just blast the radio as if we could fill the sky with sound
great american rock sound
blaring guitars, raging drums, and the bass that moves
like a convertible through the wind
the sound through your head

this is our american song
rewritten and rewritten again
we search for freedom in its bars
independence in four four time
this is our american song
waking up in motel sixes with no cigarettes
and the t.v. is on for noise
and the sex through the wall
and the jingling of slot machines down the hall
and the hum of the ice machine
check out time is eleven o clock

we wrote our song into our constitution
first we decided we would be free
then we decided we needed guns
and we threw a couple to alabama
and we threw a few more to texas
and we boarded up the borders that we broke down

there are lights in fields in plains of kansas
to light the gymnasium swaying to high school dance
we move our hips like pioneers
we throw our hands up in the air
and when the music dies down
we drive to the tops of hills that look down on the nothing
and we kiss like we have to

then we’re off again
down the bloody american highway
through cities and deserts and fields and mountains
and more cities and we’re going where no one else has gone
at least that’s what we tell ourselves

we throw on our kerouac hats
and put an eighth of ginsberg in our glove compartment
we load up our hemingways into the trunk
and we drive
we drive into the most unnatural horizon
we move down the bloody american highway
tank on e, stuck with the am radio through the worst parts of utah
we move at so many miles per hour
of course
there is blood on the american highway

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2013

READ “BEN”

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LOST AND BEAT AND NOW

we’ve been through a lot of time in the desert
we’ve been through the hollow barrel of a pistol
we’ve been through a seance
a table of writers stirring over dotting a question mark
we’ve been lost amongst ourselves
robbed apartments, gutted houses, fumigated homes
dead lawns, sprayed down by chemical agents of chaos
we were hollow. we were stuffed.
we paraded around in ambulances.

we’ve been through a lot of time barefoot on the living room floor
we’ve been through smoky headlights in new york city
we’ve been bruised, and bloodied up
for spitting on the sidewalk
we’ve been left with pens and notebooks in psych wards
we’ve been pressed for time, energy and money
we’ve found our sunflower and allowed it to wilt

now i’m  not  so certain of what we are
we’re some cosmic whirlpool of our grandfather’s dust
intentionally unintentional violent reactions of peace
we are made with metal bones and eyes like pixels
we are lighting the kerosene rope so the past can’t climb up after us
we are drowning out the television in our dirty bathwater
we are rebuilding our houses with more tolerance between the bricks
we are putting down hardwood floors over our burial plots
we are burning down bridges because we can swim across oceans
we are here to be labeled by you, dear future
we will try to be kind if you promise to do your best to be

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2012

READ “FEAR”

TIPS FOR WRITING BETTER GOD DAMN POETRY, PART TWO

A Response to Vincent Wolfram and the Comments on November, Revisited

The first thing I feel weird that I have to mention is I do not think poetry is dead. I think poetry is very much alive. We live in a time where poetry is all around us. Mostly, I think this is the acknowledgement that good writing often is poetry. The dialogue in movies, songs on the radio – I won’t patronize you anymore – the point is poetry is everywhere.

What my last article is a challenge to is writing like yourself and writing to push the envelope. I respect people who write in a classic style of poetry; there is a lot of classic poetry that I love. The last article, and this one are simply a calling. For those of you out there who want to escape the cobwebs of the basement and climb the stairs to the world around you, to being heard, I challenge you to write like yourself.

And now, we backstep. Write like yourself. “I can rhyme, and still write like myself,” “I can use a formal rhythm and write like myself,” True. But I want to hear your god damn heartbeat. I want to hear the speed at which blood flows through your veins. I want to see the soul in your eyes without a pair of Oliver People’s glasses warping my view point. I want to hear what you sound like naked.
And so do the masses. The conundrum I face, and lots of writers face, is how to write what you want to say, but also write to be heard. I spent a long time trying to write what people wanted to hear, and that failed miserably for some reason. Never write to be relevant. Never write to be outlandish. Never write to be political. Just write your heart.

I just watched a documentary on Lenny Bruce, Looking for Lenny, and this said a lot on this subject. Every good comedian today knows who Lenny Bruce is, and many of them spend their whole careers trying to be Lenny Bruce, and therein is the problem. They are not Lenny Bruce. If you are not familiar with Lenny Bruce, Reader’s Digest version, he is a God because he was completely, no-holds-barred, honest to himself. He was speaking on social issues in comedy in a time no one else was, but that’s the thing. Every comedian since has said “I’ll speak on social issues.” No. Lenny Bruce didn’t speak on social issues. He spoke what was on his mind. Gut-to-mouth. Heart-to-mouth. No filter tip.

Ginsberg didn’t write Howl trying to change the world. He simply howled. That’s the whole thing.

One user said I have a “hijacked mantra,” and that’s simply not true. Yes, I’m not saying anything that’s not been said before, but it’s no “mantra”. People speak from their hearts and sometimes someone comes along and labels it “Dadism,” labels it “The Beat Generation,” labels it “Second-Wave Feminism”. William Burroughs was adamant about not being labeled, and I don’t really think anyone ever wants to be labeled, but that seems to be the way of art. The outrageous becomes the mundane, and the original becomes the status quo. The upside of it all is we are born with a bullshit meter that allows us to see the truth; some of us just choose to use it more than others.

Part of me wants to say we’ve all become afraid to say what’s on our minds, but I think the truth is this battle is always there, and what I’m writing is my miniature battle cry to the poets to take advantage of the opportunity they have. What better chance to amplify the rust that’s grinding your gears than poetry? Another user quoted Ginsberg: “Follow your inner moonlight.” Yes. Follow your inner moonlight.
Chase the roads inside of yourself and eventually when they can no longer stand it, they will burst out of you and into the world around you.

Changing notes a bit, I’d like to say Vincent Wolfram made my day. In his article, he tears down a lot of things that I said, but it was so refreshing to hear someone doing just that, and tastefully too.
Vincent seems to be a proponent for formalism, and for poetry that you have to dig a little deeper to get into, and for that, I can only applaud him. If you want to write formally, who am I to stop you? Clearly there is a passion there. I really think it boils down to a matter of style and substance. Don’t get me wrong. That’s not to say that Vincent’s poetry is less substance and more style. It’s all just a matter of how you choose to combine the two. I don’t think I could do it. I couldn’t write the formal verses. I mean, with time and dedication, I’m sure they would come, but it’s not what drives me.

Pardon my ADD, but changing gears a bit again. Reading over Vincent’s article I just found where he says “Don’t trust poets that say they don’t read poetry.” I agree. All poets have read other poets. Bukowski said don’t read other poets. Bullshit. Read away. Just don’t try to be other poets. That’s the problem, I think. Ginsberg said “Find your inner moonlight,” not “Find someone else’s inner moonlight.” Your soul, I think, should be your ultimate inspiration, and whatever gets thrown into the machine while its processing the parts is just bonus.

It’s true when Wolfram says I’m suspicious of formal poetry. Mostly, because I don’t see it on the bookshelves. I don’t hear it in the poetry cafes. I don’t see it on the billboards. Maybe I hear it on the radio, I haven’t decided on that one yet. (Please, opinions are welcome on that one.) I want to hear poetry through a loudspeaker, because if poetry is quiet. If poetry whispers and asks you to sit down with it and hear it out, it so easily could be overshadowed; lost underneath the sound of a million more vibrant things. Poetry, whether you want to admit it or not, is in a battle against television, against movies, even music in some regards. (Music and poetry have a love hate relationship, I think.)

Ooh. Here’s a big one I need to address. In my previous article, I called haikus “small words.” I need to clarify that. The idea of any writer calling any words “small words” is a bit ridiculous, really. What I mean to say is a haiku is a form, where in its most common form , it is five syllables, then seven syllables, then five syllables. Great things have been said in haiku, but to me, it’s like writing from inside of an iron maiden. Why would you condense yourself like that? It feels almost lazy to me. I could see the appeal of the snapshot. Maybe what it boils down to, is if you’re writing haikus, I hope you’re writing other things too.

This article is called “Tips” and I apologize that it’s seemed to turn more into a rebuttal to the first article, but I think this is an important part of learning how to write poetry, maybe the only way. To question what poetry is. What makes good poetry, what makes the bad. Really, I’m just trying to figure it out like anyone else, and I think I have to say that every bad poem out there is just a prerequisite to a good poem.

You know what? This isn’t even about poetry. This is about every damn aspect of your life. I want to see the real you. Yes, “to not know what happened before your born is to remain forever a child,” but what’s more important is to learn from it, to add to it. And I think the only way we can grow as people is to listen to the ghost in our machine; to exhale more viciously than any generation before, and more importantly to open our mouths wider for the inhale.

READ “TIPS ON WRITING BETTER GOD DAMN POETRY, PART ONE”