29 April 2005

Poetri is a Def Poetry Jam original cast member, which is kind of like being an original Harlem Globetrotter, except the uniforms don’t match. Poetri’s website will soon offer a hologram of his back, and even mean people won’t be able to talk bad about him behind it. Poetri owns an infinite number of hats, and he has the most belafonte drive-thru etiquette of anyone I’ve ever met.

Find out more at: www.poetri.com

- -The SW Poet Profile- -


1. Favorite line, right now, of yours:

POETRI: Being a poet is like being an angel, and the audience is trying to get to heaven.

2. Favorite line, right now, of someone else:

POETRI: “It was the white man who turned milk…WHITE!”—Flaco Navaja

3. It’s been __________ since the last time you __________:

POETRI: It’s been ten seconds since I thought about being famous.

4. You knew it was a good/bad gig (pick one) when:

POETRI: I knew it was a bad gig when my one-man show had only one man in the audience.

5. The proudest money you ever made was:

POETRI: When I host Peace Day in Los Angeles and I don’t earn a penny.

6. When I say “swingset,” you think (where?):

POETRI: Roosevelt Park, a little community called Muskegon, Michigan.

7. When I say “covet,” you think (what?):

POETRI: Beulah Baptist Church.

8. When I say “credit,” you think (who?):

POETRI: My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

9. When I say “habit,” you think (…?):

POETRI: Eating. Dang it.

10. What’s on God’s iPod?

POETRI: The soundtrack of Life.

p.s. (anything else?)

POETRI: All in all, I just want to be remembered as a nice guy.


28 April 2005

On the road and lost a cell-phone or PDA charger? Ask the front desk if you can rifle through the gargantuan box of chargers they keep in lost and found. They’ll swear they don’t have one, but trust me, they do. Half of them are probably mine.

—John Mayer, My Travel Secrets, Esquire, May 2005.

26 April 2005
- - Word of the Week - -

nigh, near & next

Pronounced: “NYE, NEER, NEKST”

“Nigh” is still around in places, like in the expressions “well-nigh,” or “the time is nigh.” But back in the day—we’re talking Old English here—"nigh” is what folks said for the adjective “close.”

The comparative of “nigh” was “nigher.” After a century or two of being pronounced “nigher,” the word sort of morphed into “near.”

The superlative of “nigh” was “nighest.” Again, the human mouth likes to trim its words down, and “nighest” morphed into “next.”

So nigh means “close,” near means “closer,” and next means “closest.” Those might not be the most romantic etymologies in the language (we already did that: see “pupil” on January 10) but still—pretty sexy.


23 April 2005

Happy Birthday, Bard


But we are spirits of another sort:
I with the Morning’s love have oft made sport;
And, like a forester, the groves may tread,
Even till the eastern gate, all fiery-red,
Opening on Neptune, with fair blessed beams
Turns into yellow gold his salt green streams.
But, notwithstanding, haste; make no delay:
We may effect this business yet ere day.


oberUp and down, up and down,
oberI will lead them up and down:
oberI am fear’d in field and town:
oberGoblin, lead them up and down.

22 April 2005

Happy Birthday, Vladimir Nabokov

ip “A certain man,” said Rex, as he turned round the corner with Margot, “once lost a diamond cuff-link in the wide blue sea, and twenty years later, on the exact day, a Friday apparently, he was eating a large fish—but there was no diamond inside. That’s what I like about coincidence.”

21 April 2005

Happy Birthday, Jimmy Osterberg

Oh the passenger
How, how he rides
Oh the passenger
He rides and he rides

He looks through his window
What does he see?

He sees the bright and hollow sky
He see the stars come out tonight
He sees the city’s ripped backsides
He sees the winding ocean drive

And everything was made for you and me
All of it was made for you and me
It just belongs to you and me
So let’s take a ride

And see what’s mine…


20 April 2005
huh Geez—you harass one maidservant…

This comic was sent in by “Bxxxxxx,” who is obviously kinda clever, and obviously has a fair amount of free time.

It’s historically inaccurate, though: I’ve never owned a gold tunic.

18 April 2005

Last week I performed at the William Fremd High School Writers Week, and since then the students there have written me in swarms. I wanted to share a few of the emails, but some of them seemed maybe borderline private.

So here, for fun and intrigue, are a dozen Fremd emails, selected at random, and translated into Spanish using the Google Language Tool. I then let Google translate the Spanish versions back into English, just to mix it up a bit. That’s how “kite” became “comet,” “rock” became “oscillate,” and “get your mind out of the gutter” became…well, let’s just see if you can spot it (Fremd students may ask Senora Mungai for assistance).



Hey Rives, I am a student in the High secondary School of Fremd, in where you it was made today in our week of the writers. I finish wishing to fall an email to him to say to him that that you are amazing poet, and you were very interesting to hear of. Thanks to come in…hope to possibly hear behind you…Oscillation Of the Subsistence! —Mxxxxxx

Hey! I finish seeing Monday him that performed in the High secondary School of Fremd. Absolutely I him master! It was so they fricken amused! —Nxxxxx

Hello, I finish wishing to write to him and to be thankful to him to come to my school (Guillermo Fremd arrives) to demonstrate its work. He was really pleasant and it really brought behind my love for the poetry and the writing in general. I was only able to see the second time him that you performed, but really wished that it could have seen both times him. Again thanks to come to my school and to hit an enormous target in my life. —Dxx

hey rives! I am a student of the High secondary School of Fremd that you oscillated in week of the writers today to come! it is allowed us to request a copy of that poem with the comet? it was quite sweet thanks again. —Mxxxxx

I finish seeing you in the week of the writers and thought he was to him great! I said the bandage you can be that she has taste was “neutral hotel of milk,” so it verifies them towards outside. I to him decided to email that the name because nobody can always remember it, equals to me just sometimes! —Dxxx

RIVES go! you oscillate! ululacion. good store so amused of the work after the school also Haha. I feel as I learned much. —Lxxxxx

History amused of is it… er… on that. You remember 7 period in which somebody asked to him which were the meaning of the life? That one was my Claire friend. They really disturbed it for a certain reason, so she did not wish to make more questions, but then she really she wished to know what you had better taste, so I requested she. Then we decided to make him majigger of the tradition-type. Until now, they tie ninjas and to the pirates; 4-4. I always request during 6, 7, or 8 period, so each one comes to count it with. It is class of amused to hear the moaned ones of the hearings! —Mxxx

Rives oscillated my socks left right opinion me! —Anonymous

I saw that you to be made of April in the High secondary School of the 11 Fremd and you made surprise! Interest always had a plus weighs in poetry, but anything great. Once it heard to him be made, I made how much I loved it. Outside all the operations that I have seen, you were to a great extent my favorite. He asked to me if you had some posters of you who was made or some books of the poetry that could buy. I know that you are a man very occupied who travels and everything, but if there is any occasion that you could the email I behind in that would be great. Thanks as much to come to our school, were an amazing experience to see that you and I had great to listen of the time! –Kxxxx

On the thing of the bracelet… I am hardly strange like that one. I once made a necklace outside a piece of grass. (The Earth class! Obtain his head of the channel!) —Mxxx

it is not as we have heard or never we said taken of the word fuck. the part basically of each daily vocabulary of the students of the High secondary School (or it mines at least…). (people in authority) they say any thing to you on him? —Mxxxxxx

yes, you have brought in many conversations of the diversion between my friends and I… you were, absolutely possibly, the most person in the week of the writers, who each one the absolutely I adore to him. to intention, what was with the commentary of the salt? —Exxxx

I finish thinking that you know also certainty that my friend has an enormous accumulation in you! —Cxxxxxx

I’m sooooo glad Dr. Scott didn’t bust a cap in my ass…

15 April 2005

Gig at Wells College, New York

The day after the Wells show I had some time before my late flight back to Los Angeles, so I took the rental car on a road trip up to Niagara Falls. Right around Rochester a cop pulled me over while I was: 1) Driving with my knees 2) Not speeding, and 3) Singing along to the Kinks’ “What I Like About You.” The cop thought he saw me talking on a cell phone. Turns out: I was just playing harmonica. Apparently the phone thing is illegal in the state of New York, and there’s a $75 fine. No fine for rocking, though.

I wanted to see Niagara Falls because April—besides being Natonal Poetry Month—is National Kite Month. Niagara Falls (then called Bellvue) was the hometown of Homan Walsh, probably the most famous kite flyer of the nineteenth century. Let’s let his plaque on the observation deck of the Skylon Tower tell the story:

In 1847 Homan Walsh won a kite-flying contest. Five dollars was offered to the boy who could fly his kite across the wide and swift Niagara river. Cables were then attached to the kite string allowing for a bridge to be constructed across the river, uniting the U.S. and Canada. On August 1, 1848, the first suspension bridge over the Niagara Gorge was completed on the site of the present Rainbow Bridge.

14 April 2005
- - Word of the Week - -


Pronounced: “MUR cus”

Murcous is an adjective meaning “having had the thumb cut off.” It comes from murcus, Latin for “a person who cuts his thumb off to avoid military duty.”

Because it’s pretty damn hard to wield a sword, or a spear, or a shield, or a slingshot even, WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE A FREAKING THUMB.


12 April 2005

Andi Kauth covering Shane Koyczan on Day One of Writers Week at Fremd High School in Palatine, Illinois.

Fremd is a public high school in a Chicago suburb, and the staff annually brings in top-notch writing talent to speak to the top-notch student body. Past speakers include heavyweights like Billy Collins, Nikki Giovanni, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Patricia Smith, so I was very pleased to get an invitation to grace the same stage this year.

Also pleasing: meeting one of my fiction faves Aimee Bender in the Faculty Lounge. I watched her eat a bagel, to see if she’d do it surrealistically or magical realistically or maybe simply symbolically, but she basically just ate the bagel.

Most pleasing of all: I got invited home for dinner by Andi’s parents, Momma and Poppa Kauth. Their hospitality made me want to quit touring for a few weeks and camp out in their backyard beneath the windchimes. As a bonus, Momma Kauth (Amy) gave me a dozen cinnamon muffins for the road. Twelve hours later, there were still two left.

11 April 2005

Marc Smith (so what?) at The Green Mill in Chicago last night.

When poetry crossed the Delaware into Slamville, this was the guy in the prow of the boat with the spyglass (and the cutlass).

09 April 2005

Gig at University of Arkansas

All of the flags in front of Arkansas McDonalds are at half-staff in rememberance of His Holiness Pope John Paul II.

The llama farm on the drive in from the airport is now at full capacity. In February the trailer trucks delivering llamas backed the highway up all the way to Cave Spring.

The first-ever Wal-Mart store is one town over.

After one more week of warm weather, locals predict the kudzu will rebloom on the telephone pole by the railroad tracks.

Rives website shoplift windchimes

08 April 2005
- - Word of the Week - -


Pronounced: “COST er MONG er”

A vendor who sells fruits or vegetables from a cart.


07 April 2005

Gig at Pennsylvania College of Technology

In the 50-foot tower next to the Holiday Inn in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, is the finest milk in the state. The creme-de-la-creme, except it’s milk.

At the bottom of the milk tower is a spigot, which in bygone days was communal, but now is accessed only by a lockbox, the keys to which are controlled by Milksmiths, the four men who make up the Milk Guild in Williamsport.

The Milksmiths visit the milk tower at staggered hours, because they don’t get along, and because each man’s method for drawing milk off into his tapered metal bucket is a trade secret.

Rives website shoplift windchimes

The Milksmiths use the milk as the main ingredient of Purity Candy, a local specialty. The name comes from “purty candy,” a dialect translation of the Quaker Dutch “hubske susigkeid,” or “pretty candy.”
Rives website shoplift windchimes

The joke in Williamsport is that Purity Candy can’t make you pure, but it might help keep you that way. Every year on Halloween Eve, the townspeople send their sons and especially daughters to the firehouse, where the Milksmiths set up traditional wooden stalls, one in each corner of the station.

The semi-holiday is used as a sort of dress rehearsal for Halloween, but incomplete costumes are frowned upon, so less-organized trick-or-treaters often find themselves stranded at the firehouse doors.

poet Rives website of not … poetry

05 April 2005

Jeffrey McDaniel is a poet that other poets love to quote to each other. His books The Forgiveness Parade, Alibi School, and The Splinter Factory are top-shelf must-haves so…go have ‘em.

Buddy Wakefield cited a line from “Lineage” in his Poet Profile (March 30, scroll down), and Jeffrey kindly gave me permission to run the whole poem here.


When I was little, I thought the word loin
and the word lion were the same thing.

I thought celibate was a kind of fish.

My parents wanted me to be well-rounded
so they threw dinner plates at each other
until I curled up into a little ball.

I’ve had the wind knocked out of me
but never the hurricane.

I’ve seen two hundred and sixty-three rats
in the past year, but never more than one at a time.
It could be the same rat, with a very high profile.

I know what it’s like to wear my liver on my sleeve.

I go into department stores, looking suspicious,
approach the security guard and say
what, what, I didn’t take anything.
Go ahead. Frisk me, big boy!

I go to the funerals of absolute strangers
and tell the grieving family: the soul of the deceased
is trapped inside my rib cage
and trying to reach you.

Once I thought I found love, but then I realized
I was just out of cigarettes.

Some people are boring because their parents
had boring sex the night they were conceived.

In the year thirteen hundred and thirteen,
a little boy died, who had the exact same scars as me.

Does Sarah lawrence have a fight song?

—Jeffrey McDaniel

02 April 2005

This is the weekly scrimmage to get on the open mic list at Da Poetry Lounge. The picture was a little blurry to begin with, but I also thought the composition looked uncannily like a Renaissance painting of apostles in a temple or something, so that’s why I sent it through the “Fresco” filter in Photoshop.

The guy in the middle with his hair looking somewhat like a halo is Shihan, one of the hosts of Da Poetry Lounge, and captain of Team Hollywood, the 2004 National Poetry Slam champions.