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Improvijazzation Nation - Issue # 54

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watching music take human shape                              by luke buckham


if the dance club that made your spirit regulate it's rhythm

still boils the formaldahyde in it's drums

i'll be waiting there

with my tarnished antique harmonica heart

inside the drinks when they're suddenly stirred by the wrong hand

inside the shine of their rubber clothing

my eyes reflected will search you

for the careful patterns of your commonplace bruises


i want to crawl away from an erased shipwreck

onto the shore of an undiscovered country

with only the sun clutching at my back



time's pet                                                                       by luke buckham

in the backyard of a televised empire

through the misty noises of washing machines

i have looked for the legs of my love changing the colors of the grass as they drag

to have her belly split and gushing water as the palm trees split and ooze it

coconuts spilling icy microchips on blue sod

in the sink of a sun i've rejected the running faucets are enough to trample god

soil billows toward the barbed fences and i walk over their bloodied silver into the sea


supposedly impossible revolution                                 by luke buckham


the body needs a new limb

the language needs a new word

the kingdom needs a new animal

the orchestra needs a new instrument

the forest needs a new plant

the afterlife needs a new division

the mind needs a bigger cage

the night needs a new spokesperson

the art needs a new craft

the soul needs a new transportation



NYC leitmotifs

Three shots amplify
the concrete gutters of the night sky -
lights blink on - then off.

Then the stiff silences between
the first and last shots -
checking which windows lit?...

Wind rings through metallic leaves -
plastic bags tumble
past park benches crackling.

Then sirens, braking-
skid-stopping, then doors slam -
at last, a radio beeps-blurts.

Underground machinery
grinds the deep continuo
of subways roaring.

The addictive rhythms of
Rap boom thrumming from a box -
a kid watching the cops.


in a dream Etheridge came to tell me:

   "the hardest part about leaving Hell
(or did he say - Mississippi?)
   wasn't what you'd think;
it wasn't compassion
   that cut into me each time
I heard how misguided passion
   inflicted harm.
I wasn't flooded with
   or inspired to mercy
by their tortures.
   I wasn't saving anything
but their stories -
   even of those I hated in life.
 But the surprise came after
   they made me write their cries
because as I did
   I couldn't help myself -
I loved them as only humans can.
   I missed the pitch
of indelible pain
   that only intensified
because in memory
   no cry is right or wrong.
I miss them more than I ever missed God
   because their grief was so endless
but their lives so brief -
         _And I never stopped loving no / one...
 O I never stopped loving no / one."_


Some Temples in Japan

1.  In Kamakura

The old temple's thick thatch ceiling
is a blanket two meters deep
blackened by the smoke of a million burning prayers,
yet the candles shine on
the tawny grass high above.
This shrine is where I bury the past:
I light candles for my true and false selves,
no longer debating which is which
because delusions need burials too.
Our delusions are everything we are
plus cash, flawless love, fame and perfect wisdom.
They are more than we ever know ourselves to be...
It is raining now and
I want to stay here,
to go up through the grass ceiling,
to leave behind every thing I am, was, or will be.
But this place has lived without me
for a thousand years -
it is an offering in itself,
an act I only dream of,
and even these words
are derelict flattery.

2.  graying flowers in the smog

Meanwhile in Asakusa
coins clang in cardboard boxes
at the feet of the only Caucasians around
selling scraps of metal and antique kettles
amid the market jammed with Buddha buyers
where prayer machines eat their change.
These Americans hustling here for years
have passable accents
but without money
they're permanently poor
more than they'd ever be in the States.
I see something familiar and strange
in their slick smiles,
and I'm transfixed -
their eyes are shifty
exactly like the pseudo-Japanese eyes
from those World War II films,
and their faces translate
only the loss
of never being
real selves
in anyone's eyes,
and that shiftiness
I'd always half-thought
was mine was not -
it was fear...

Everyone shuns their smell, their smiles -
even school kids heckle them.
It's too late for them to ever go home
to just be Americans - as if any
could be entitled to life, liberty
and heaven from pennies.
Here Zen's chief executives
with corporations set deep in their eyes
pass by in yellow robes that glow,
graying flowers in the smog

Submitted by:  Jeffrey Ethan Lee (whose poetry CD from Drimala was reviewed in issue # 53!




                         Katy Bertrand

I feel like a thin, paper napkin.
Used and re-used
Rubbed carelessly thoughtlessly
by dirty, greasy hands,
Until there is more grease
than napkin.
Wrinkled and crumpled beyond recognition
Used and re-used
Until I am of no use,
simply tossed onto
a pile


                        "Smoke and Milk"


                          Katy Bertrand

Catering to the woman
sucking cancer-causing carcinegins
from a white stick,
by discreetly muffling a cough
from an irritated throat.

Condemning the woman
lovingly cradling her infant
as he sucks sweet,
from a white breast.


                        "When the Cradle Falls"


                             Katy Bertrand

I lie under
a worn, faded,
patchwork quilt.
The familiar stains
with the once familiarly bright colors.

I tightly hug to my chest
a teddy bear
covered with cold, rusted,
steel spikes.
They settle comfortably
into the familiar puncture wounds in my flesh,

As I am lulled into a nightmarish sleep
by an atonal, dissonant lullabye



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