March Release! Saltwort, Selected Writings Poetical, by Joe Linker

Announcing, Scheduled for March, 2017 Release – Saltwort is the title of a collection of selected poetical writings from 1973 thru 2017 by Joe Linker, author of “Penina’s Letters,” “Coconut Oil,” “Scamble and Cramble: Two Hep Cats,” and “The Coming of the Toads.”

With a Forward by Salvador Persequi!

Still in proof and editing stage, Saltwort collects previously published pieces (on-line and print) with some alterations and some new writing as well into a fine 1st paperback edition.

saltwort-cover-preview

 

A Load of Dirty Laundry

For you distressed I carry yr clothes
hamper downstairs taste every word
prior to yr ears like mosquito
static in yr hair I sit on yr head
snatch one with my tongue
smell yr salty skin yr cheeks
freckled read as shame burr
sounds around yr funny ear fickle
bone bowls.

Still you don’t care all that mulch
for words can’t help the ear aches
worse for wear and tears fall
fill the worn clothes washer
I don’t bother separating solids
from colors under from outer
and all that rhyme
fill the tub and ounce of salt
wort scrub-a-dub-dub
rinse the soapy nest.

Pin all to these lines
in the sun of daily
breezes off the water
spinning and tumbling
little white terns fly off
as you dry off in dry
bamboo grass we learn
we two live in a slip
and fall place as you slip
a link and fall into the abyss
of this lonely ableness.

On Letting My Hair Grow

letting-my-hair-grow

I’m letting my hair grow.
It’s starting to snow.
Nothing to be done,
Estragon fond.
“Now I’m a donor,” I told Susan,
“on the recent license renewal.”
“They’ll take your anatomical
hair,” she said, the young one
at the Department of Motor
Vehicles: “On your license,
be a donor?” she asked me.
“Sure, and why not.”
“It’s not like you’re going
to be needing it,” she laughed.

I don’t need it now,
I thought to myself,
she in Santa Claus costume
red and white furry thick
and outside snow falling
and her hair black maroon
hanging tussled out
the Santa red cap rimmed
white and the big white
ball at the end bouncing
about as she whirled around
to grab the form
for me to be
an anatomical donor.

My papers in order –
DD214, Birth Cert.,
proof of address – but,
“We don’t need them
this time,” she said.
“You’re in the system.
You showed us all that
last time. You only
have to prove it once.”
(On this I did not
correct her.)
“But let me see
that discharge sheet.
Why don’t you have
VETERAN
on your license?”
She read down my DD214,
taking her time.
I was number 106,
the DMV not crowded,
middle of day middle of
week middle of month.
Not any, any, any.
Middle, middle, middle.
“There it is,” she said.
“Other than dishonorable,”
she happily smiled,
as if given a gift,
or handing me one,
the white ball again
twirling as she turned
and grabbed hold
another rubber stamp.
I was 18, number 16,
that first drawing,
I might have told her.
I looked good a few
of the squad said
of my shaved head
coming from the barber
at Fort Bliss, zero week.
I went in full curled
long and wild just out
of the surf at El Porto.

“OK,” she said. “Take
this to the photographer,
end of the counter.
Merry Christmas!”
And I said it back
to her. It’s best
when at the DMV
to remain calm
and try to relax
and let your hair grow.

“Number 107? 107?”

Bodig

break shoe
tongue
twist
 

flying
by the seat

 

intestinal fracking
of one’s pants

from roof of mouth to eye bird nest
prow brow
head to head
crown noggin
fisticuffs fracus
best foot forward
tripped up
from behind
nose to nose
dried honey crystals
hundred years old
rub a dub dub elbow grease
unfair to the fare thick skinned
heartless
calloused
body out
of tune
with mind says
without a punch thrown “you go your way
and I’ll go mine”
Genet tolls
neon tubes
afterglow
mouse muscular
green scapular
easy way out
chest
prayer ov
er drawers
 

tasseling hair

offer cauliflower
ears
 

ago

loose lips
hips tip
flip
banana trunk
carrot leg
zucchini toe
feet flap
tongue roll
slip slap

Body a la mode

Hair is home
host to vermin
both lowlife
and high fliers

little lady bugs
after aphids
and crickets
around the neck

head is open
for business
enter up
escalator nose

bay lips open
for winnow
shopping
the ears parking

garages for
diverse scads
take elevator eyes
to the penthouse

sweet
down now
to the fruit and nuts
the walnut shaped

butt rarely sees
up as down it sits
a-squish in fat
the thighs arise

down to deal knees
legs akimbo down
to ankle gears
pulleys the feet

monkey wrenches
between toes
grease growing
mushroom nails

this being husk
breath munching
crunching
masquerade

and inside the body
marching things
really grow
interesting .

Sawn Knit

Chairs off course know search ring a stiff lilly
Cheers off corset nill touch ping a short rally
Chilly fur coarse none such amongst the still
Thesis natch nought loopy stock still hush
Thus ditzy dippy bee causal dingus thrill
Thoughtless remiss trunk full tree bananas
There is rash such art as false tranquility
Of pass age there is nothing prack test
Charts no excerptions pair of phones snail
Espresso café square corner tables
Seats side walked there there now close
Call this way where begins such still life
Naturally there is no such thing as a still life
Docile no stiff necked bowl of animus

Sidewalk Cafe Table Paper Napkin Poems

img_20161109_144329Afternoon walk close in and find a cafe with sidewalk tables to sit out with an espresso, on watch and wait.

Wait for some light that might soon start to seep through a cracked world.

World War II and the Nazi army advances on Paris. You can hear artillery fluster the banlieues. Do you try for a train or run the roads south with distraught families or take a table on the sidewalk of some tree hidden rue (for you are on the streets where all is rue) and order an espresso and write a poem on a napkin:

And the poem on the paper tablecloth is perhaps as typical of the way Prevert got around in France in the min-Forties as it is of his poetry itself – a poetry (his worst critics will tell you) which is perfectly suited to paper tablecloths, and existing always on as fine a line between sentiment and sentimentality as any that Charlie Chaplin ever teetered on.¹

When I was inducted into my Guard unit, the 140th Engineer Company, in 1969, they were still packing the M1 Garand rifle. Before firing, we learned to disassemble and reassemble the eleven part trigger housing group. The M1 was a fine weapon, as Woody Allen’s Hemingway character in “Midnight in Paris” might have said, but of course didn’t – that was Paris of the 1920s. The M1 was heavier than its successor the M14, which I was introduced to at Fort Bliss, but you fired them both like rifles, sighting in and taking aim, adjusting elevation and windage. The M16 seemed a light, plastic toy in comparison; you pointed it and sprayed. Even as a kid I was attentive and sensitive to words, but it wasn’t until Basic Combat Training that I realized the unique place nomenclature played from certain perspectives – the naming of things, the naming of parts, in particular, and how, in certain circumstances, you couldn’t simply go to a thesaurus for synonyms as variable substitutes. You had to find the real right word.

Henry Reed’s poem “The Naming of Parts,” from “Lessons of the War,” illustrates the uses of proper nomenclature, and of paying attention:

Today we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
We had daily cleaning. And tomorrow morning,
We shall have what to do after firing. But today,
Today we have naming of parts. Japonica
Glistens like coral in all of the neighboring gardens,
And today we have naming of parts.

This is the lower sling swivel. And this
Is the upper sling swivel, whose use you will see,
When you are given your slings. And this is the piling swivel,
Which in your case you have not got. The branches
Hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures,
Which in our case we have not got.

This is the safety-catch, which is always released
With an easy flick of the thumb. And please do not let me
See anyone using his finger. You can do it quite easy
If you have any strength in your thumb. The blossoms
Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see
Any of them using their finger.

And this you can see is the bolt. The purpose of this
Is to open the breech, as you see. We can slide it
Rapidly backwards and forwards: we call this
Easing the spring. And rapidly backwards and forwards
The early bees are assaulting and fumbling the flowers
They call it easing the Spring.

They call it easing the Spring: it is perfectly easy
If you have any strength in your thumb: like the bolt,
And the breech, and the cocking-piece, and the point of balance,
Which in our case we have not got; and the almond-blossom
Silent in all of the gardens and the bees going backwards and forwards,
For today we have naming of parts.²

Whatever you happened to be holding at Fort Bliss in the fall of that year, M1, M14, M16, the proper nomenclature called for but one word: weapon. Call it a gun, and you got down with it for 20 or 30 pushups, kissing its butt and calling out, “One, Drill Sergeant; Two, Drill Sergeant”; etc. If you dropped it, you got down with it again. If you set it aside or missed-placed it, you were accused of having a taste for self-abuse, and got down with it again.

Help Wanted: Poet – Must be good at naming things

img_20161111_121309In his November 14, 2016 Financial Page article for The New Yorker, “What’s in a Brand Name?,” a one-page gem, James Surowiecki anecdotally mentions the time Ford asked the poet Marianne Moore to come up with a name for one of its new cars. She came up with a bunch, all rejected. Sometimes, the key to naming something successfully is found in the action word sublimate. But it is called advertising. Advertisements are arguments in which attempts are made to persuade us to do something that probably won’t be good for us. So we might, for example, get Arthur Godfrey telling us what kind of cigarette is best for us. Borrowing someone’s credibility to pitch your argument is a tricky business. Scholars describe it as a means of persuasion called ethos; others may call it a slang profanity, remain unpersuaded, and know it’s best to choose your own cigarette.

“They are playing a game,” R. D. Laing opens the first knot of his Knots:

They are playing at not
playing a game. If I show them I see they are, I
shall break the rules and they will punish me.
I must play their game, of not seeing I see the game.³

img_20161110_145049It’s fall, and soon winter will come in, and most of the cafes locally will move their sidewalk tables and chairs indoors, and it will be harder walking and wandering to find a place to sit out with an espresso in what might remain of the afternoon light (in the Northwest, the world is also cracked, but in winter, that’s how the water gets in). A certain discomfort is a necessary good for some kinds of writing.

Over the past week or so we visited several cafes for an afternoon espresso at a sidewalk table in the waning light of fall, hoping for some inspiration from the general rue for a paper napkin poem. Alas, we got no paper napkin poems. But we got some sidewalk espresso music, and enjoyed a few clean, well-lit places, and took a few pics we offer here in lieu of napkin poems.

¹ From “Translator’s Note” (1964) Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s introduction to City Lights Books The Pocket Poets Series: Number Nine, “Selections from Paroles,” by Jacques Prevert, San Francisco, July 1958, Sixth Printing February 1968.

² Reed, Henry. “Naming of Parts.” New Statesman and Nation 24, no. 598 (8 August 1942): 92 (.pdf).

³ “Knots,” by R. D. Laing, Vintage Books edition, April 1972, page 1. Originally published by Pantheon Books in 1971.