Various Artists, Mississippi Records Tape Series. Vol 38 - Shombolar (2010, via ROOT BLOG)
Kenneth Patchen, Outlaw of the Lowest Planet (1946, Amazon)
Bern Porter, The Last Acts of St. Fuck You (1985, Xexoxial Editions)
The National, High Violet (out 5/11, streaming at the New York Times)
The subtitle of the latest cha-cha-ka-boogie, hallucinatory dispatch from Mississippi Records is “Thematically vague…more of a mood piece,” which applies universally here. And jeez, no matter where a stream of consciousness leads, the sudden presence of Townes Van Zandt is always startling, standing there in wet boots. A different version of this song appears near the end of side A of the Shombolar tape.
Townes Van Zandt, "Nothing" from A Private Concert: Holiday Inn, Houston (1988)
And y'all, Kenneth Patchen is a badass. I never knew.
HOW GOD WAS MADESeriously, roosts for birds that foul dreams.
On the first Day
A weed led her young to drink at Eternity
but there was only one hanging eye
that withered them with its look
on the second day
A wondrous hand fashioned a bubble
and the stars sang
his branching head awake
on the third day
His heart began to beat
and the heavens foamed along their gathering roads
where the mad and the dead would walk
on the fourth day
His ribs bent around the air
and the pillars of nothingness toppled down
to become roosts for birds that foul dreams
on the fifth day
His body stirred upon the sun
and the fiery kingdoms raised their flags
that would be lifting over is for ever
on the sixth day
His mouth breathed the first word
and all the things of wonder and pain and beauty
were made ready for the poor flesh of man
on the seventh day
His sweeping eye saw what had been done
and moved into the great, gentle face
where not even He could see its terror
I was aware that Bern Porter was a badass; I used to have a copy of the book, The Last Acts of St. Fuckyou, from which this piece is brutally torn by the author, like meat from a kill.
I don't know if any of this poetry can hold up against the exit sign I saw posted on a temporary wall of the still-being-reconfigured LSU Union after lunch. Something in how the three "exits" are not lined up, an almost imperceptible stepdown. The way out is down. This sign directed me to a freshly sheetrocked room with nothing but some shady looking elevators and sliding outside doors that thankfully worked. It made me think of the Winchester Mystery House (be forewarned of auto-music) and of House of Leaves, and made me wanna get the fuck out of there.
This all took such a bum-out, anxious turn that the careful brooding of the National are comparatively a ray of sunshine. Happy National Poetry Month!