“OLD VOICES” and “POEM WITHOUT A PLACE TO GO”

February 25, 2013

“Old Voices” is a poem about and inspired by Anthony Poynter.  Both are from a series I’ve been working on for a little while.  More details forthcoming.

 

OLD VOICES

 

It’s as though I can hear them still,

ev’ry mumble and stutter—Your lazy drawl

that echoes back the Kentucky night

in which we blew firecrackers in the street

 

and I got my lip split while you dashed off

to get the trusty ole baseball bat. Remember?

 

Recall the bombed-out cruiser, its windows

bashed in, its roasted metal sheaths

half-melted onto the street        that stayed

outside your house for weeks, the cops

 

parading by on ten-speeds, eyeballing us

while we smugly sat on the porch and smoked.

 

I can hear your flutter of sighing laughter

at the oddity of our stations & when you said

this world is a joke as though that was all

it took. You were jaded then and I

 

was always drunk, reeling through the states

in a perpetual world of blurry-eyed night.

 

It is noontime in Chicago now where I cadence

to the hum of highway cars outside my window

and have a conversation with a dead man,

cancerous at thirty-two        never again to

 

fill me with pilfered booze and horror flicks.

How to continue now without you? I wonder

at my young and mortal wanderlust, always looking

out for a new song, a punctuated story

 

w/ a fifth of gin      gun-metal against my hip

and you stuttering and receding, even then.

 

 

POEM WITHOUT A PLACE TO GO

 

I fucked up. I wanted the poem to unfold

like a tapestry. I stole that line from an

emo band. I couldn’t tell the difference

between the words empirical

 

and imperial. I’m still confused about

that one. I went to the Art Institute

 

and stared at a piece by On Kawara

for seven minutes. I was stuck forever

in 1978. I had misplaced my time

machine, which is easy to do considering

 

it’s no bigger than a pocket watch. I hoped

the poem would be a room in which

 

people stood and drank dry martinis

and no one commented on the artwork,

which is why they were all there anyways.

I drank for nine years straight and then

 

one day I couldn’t find the door that my

housekeys belonged in. I forgot which city

 

I was in until I ended up at the airport, where

I looked at the list of departures and reasoned

I was in the one that wasn’t up there.

I came back and walked the streets muttering

 

to myself thinking I was being interviewed

for the magazines. I broke my teeth in New York

and split my lip in Kentucky. I fucked no one,

pretty much ever. I had a point to this story.

 

What was I talking about?

Is there anything left in that bottle?

Matt Whispers Writer’s Showcase Reading w/ Cyberpunk Apocalypse

November 6, 2012

Text of the poems in the video above

November 6, 2012

Directly above this is the video evidence of my Writer’s Showcase reading with Cyberpunk Apocalypse in Pittsburgh upon the completion of my residency there this past summer.  It’s worth a glimpse.  It is an incomplete, edited version of the reading–not too unreasonable since the entire thing was about forty-five minutes long.  But you do miss out some of the theatrics of the actual performance.  Such as Daniel Mcloskey, the fellow you see in the video illustrating the poems I read, throwing out t-shirts into the audience or pouring shots of fancy booze for the folks in the front two rows.  But you do get to see Tom Dewing reading from the zine he wrote for the event, titled “Matt Whispers Secret Best Friend,” as well as a couple of the ten ten-second stories folks that didn’t know me made up about me.  Oh yeah, and also three of the seven poems I read that night, the text of which follows below for those interested.

INSTANTANEOUS

After that long winter

all the leaves sprung forth

from the hands of dry branches

and exploded with a frenetic energy,

raining millions of fragments

beneath the trees which had housed them.

It happened with a slight pop

as of a soap bubble exploding,

audible only if one happened to be outside

at the time. The rest of us woke

one morning to find all the trees bare,

our sidewalks littered with the brown

of spent foliage—

unexpected, spontaneous, and sudden,

an upturned nose at the slow decay

characteristic of autumn.

The newspapermen came to call it

“The Great Foliage Incident”

as though it was some silly political mishap.

An important physicist came on the news

to reflect on how it was merely

a matter of time before the cycle

which had held them for so many years

was broken, as, he claimed, all cycles eventually

break down, the second law of thermo-

dynamics and such. The speech was difficult

to follow. Many scientists, though,

didn’t quite agree. Some lost it.

There were swarms who stepped away from

their positions at the major universities

while others clogged the airwaves with editorials

begging people to believe that reason and logic

were still the dictates of thought, and so forth.

And let’s not forget about the suicides.

Famous now is the image of the one man,

his white lab-coat stained and yellowing,

two days of beard grey on his face,

perched atop the roof of the Physics department

at MIT—

                ex nihilo nihil fit, his oft-

quoted last words ringing through

the crowd of gawkers that had gathered,

one foot trembling over the chasm,

eyes closed for some unexplained reason—

perhaps because he realized

the leap of faith he was now making

in assuming he would hit the ground.

BROOKLINE MA

I’ve been so emotional lately I seem to appear places

without having made the decision to go there. A few pints

down the hatch, thoughts heaving in the leaden night, and

here I am at that one girl who I hope remembers my name’s

doorstep and thank god I don’t have a boombox with me—

and anyways it was as I was wandering the city like this,

last night, all wrapped up in turmoil that I found myself at

the Panera dumpster last night standing over three bags

filled with more fresh bread than I could consume in a year.

Now maybe this is something about loss and longing

actually leading to something positive. I don’t know. What I

do know is that tossing the lid open to a harvest of still-

warm bread, the baker’s hatch glowing golden on all their

backs, I honest-to-god-shit-you-not cried. As in actual tears.

I started to fill up my bag, imagining bursting through the

door to my apartment with a feast to show for myself, my

roommates cheering, but I knew they were all asleep. And I

would have fumbled it anyway—2 AM, the thrill of the

catch in me, it was lost. That moment was all mine—

ripping open the bags, drunk, thinking about a girl who

would probably mean the world to me if she’d only call me

back, seeing that bread stacked there, as if waiting for me. I

think that if the last month were a movie this would be the

end of act II. Act I—meet the girl, fall completely and

unforgivably in love. Act II—girl doesn’t answer her phone,

ditches you that one time, you see her at the art show

making eyes at that one handsome guy she has her hand on

the arm of, etc. Try to figure out how to deal with being in

love. Wander around in the rain a lot. Go to sad movies by

yourself. And drink. End of act II—“moment of clarity”

occurs, camera pans out and up to reveal the

alley, then the whole street, then this neighborhood from above, in which

protagonist (me) is an insignificant fleck. It’s probably

raining. String-heavy instrumental song is playing. In the

movie version act III comes next, wherein I am driven to

action by the force of my moment of clarity, and maybe I

go bum rush her photography opening and confess my

undying love for her, and we smooch as the crowd at the

reception cheers us on. But there was no music in the alley,

only the sound of me sobbing. And somewhere, a bird

chirping, having forgotten that the day’s a long way away.

THE PROTAGONIST SPEAKS

In another version of this story

I called in to work, stayed home

to watch the people walking their dogs.

In another I was fired back in December.

In another I had moved years ago

to be closer to that girl

who would eventually break my heart.

Another there is no work, only

people sitting and talking. Yet another

I am old and do nothing but watch baseball

and sit. Ah, the possibilities! Maybe

I do go in to the bar, but instead

leave early with some townie girl

I care nothing about. Maybe I say no

to another drink—yes, I see it,

I am sober. There are no dead hunks

of fleshy memory inside me, all prim

and beaming the way only the newly clean

can beam—maybe I walk out, quit

the evening that has turned stale

and somber, almost 6 am now. The pages

of my commuter book are wet with rain,

and I look up to city-sky and notice

somehow, inexplicably, a new day is here.

There is another story, see, somewhere

in here—one with no protagonist

and something beautiful happens,

and no one is around to bear witness.

I did want to briefly note that a previous version of the poem “BROOKLINE MA” appeared in the second issue of Chicago-based literary magazine Two With Water, as well as previous versions of two of my other poems.  They are great and you should support them and pick up a copy of the magazine.  

Visiting Comics Artists Nate McDonough and Daniel McLoskey

October 25, 2012

That’s right folks.  Nate McDonough and Daniel McLoskey are traveling through Chicago on their tour of the Midwest and East Coast.  They will be performing at The Hungry Brain at 2319 W Belmont on Monday October 29th @ 9 PM, along with a slew of other readers, though the list I was unable to find.  It should be a good time.

Nate and Daniel were kind enough to host me at Cyberpunk Apocalypse in Pittsburgh back in July while I was working on a book.  You can read my thoughts about the experience and some of the work I produced here.

Some info about them:

Back to the Gutter: declaring war on the M.F.A.
Nate McDonough and Daniel McCloskey are touring with their newest comic creations. Both are resident members of Pittburgh’s DIY anti-MFA, the Cyberpunk Apocalypse writers’ cooperative, which recieved national attention in 2009 for living without heat, and being raided by dozens of police. Since then the project has been awarded a Heinz Endowment, provided space for 25 writers and artists to live and work. Seven books have been completed at the co-op in the past three years, including Nate McDonough’s Don’t Come Back and Daniel McCloskey’s A Film About Billy (a hybrid novel/graphic novel). 
 
McCloskey and McDonough work collaboratively and independently to create comic works that range from absurd to serious–disgusting to sentimental.
 
 

   

 
 
 
And just so this blog post has something to do with poetry, here’s a poem of James Tate’s.
 
THE LOVELY ARC OF A METEOR IN THE NIGHT SKY
 
At the party there were those sage souls
who swam along the bottom like those huge white
fish who live for hundreds of years but have no
fun. They are nearly blind and need the cold.
William was a stingray guarding his cave. Only
those prepared for mortal battle came close to
him. Closer to the surface the smaller fish
played, swimming in mixed patterns only a god
could decipher. They gossiped and fed and sparred
and consumed, and some no doubt even spawned.
It’s a life filled with agitation, thrills,
melodrama and twittery, but too soon it’s over.
And nothing’s revealed because it was never known.

Upcoming Traveling Writer Reading

October 1, 2012

Friends and well-wishers,

A couple of traveling poet-friends are coming through Chicago next weekend to do a reading w/ some great locals!  Should be a fantastic time for those who are local and interested.

Readers:

Richard Wehrenberg Jr.
A poet and book-maker working in Bloomington, IN
http://wolfpile.tumblr.com/

Ryan J.
Columbus, OH poet, organizer, mainstay, and member of Delay
http://friendsandwieners.wordpress.com/

Nicki Yowell
Zinester/writer, founding member of Self Publishers of Chicago, member of Read/Write Library

Collin Brennan
Chicago poet by way of California, member of the supergroup Warsaw Vices

Jim Joyce
Writer, teacher, orater and maker of Let It Sink zine

Matt Whispers (that’s me)

BYOB I’m sure
814 w/ 18th St.

Sunday Oct 7th.  8 PM

Bring $3-5 for traveling writers

Check here for any updates to the event, otherwise I’ll see you there.

Writing A Poem

August 28, 2012

And so! 

The poem below is entitled “Writing A Poem,” which is a trick that poets do to make you think that their poem has more meaning/relevance than it actually does. A good trick, nevertheless. 

 

 

WRITING A POEM

We were in the middle of a pretty big
argument. “So what I like to drive around
and yell at the guys on the radio?” I said.
“At least I don’t leave my yogurt cartons
all over the front yard.” “Well what about
the garage?” Mel said. “You know what
I’m talking about Mr. paint-canny-can man”
“Oh yeah!” I said. “And that guy in the Robotics
Department?” “At least I don’t wear
that stupid clown nose in public” she said.
It was getting pretty heated so I grabbed
a bucket of water and dumped it on her head.
She screamed and slapped at me until I fell
down the stairs. I woke up a minute later
not knowing how I ended up at the bottom
of the stairs. I went looking for Mel. She was out
in the driveway. She was waiting for me.
I saw her and waved to her from the front door.
She looked lovely in her sun-dress
until she started pouring soda all over my
passenger seat. I remembered then our fight.
“Oh yeah?” I yelled. “Watch this!” I went into
the closet and grabbed my pitching wedge
and started hacking divots out of the front lawn.
She had run out of soda so she went to the garage
door and started punching out all the windows.
I laughed. “This is your house, dummy!” I said.
That really got her mad. She screamed, and I
mean really bellowed, “well let’s talk about what
we’re really fighting about! Adrienne Rich,
I mean!” The neighbors were starting to
come out and watch from their lawns. I was
embarrassed so I looked out into the crowd. “Chuck,”
Tom called to me from his front steps,
while she was pouring paint thinner into my gas tank,
“you guys alright over there?” I said “Yeah
Tom, thanks buddy. We just got into a disagreement
about a poem. Sorry about the noise!” She
was now kicking in, or trying to kick in,
my car’s windshield. “No problem buddy,”
Tom hollered back. “Hey, you need some
help fixing that car of yours, when this all
blows over, call Ted. He’s the best in town.” Tom
went inside. I looked down the street, at all
the couples and families that had come out
to watch us. There was Ted!, I noticed,
two houses down from Tom! Same side
of the street and everything. Mel
was really doing damage to the body
of my car now. “Hey Ted!” I called out,
“I really need to talk to you about my car!”

 

This is partially a response to a professor once saying to me “never write punch lines into your poems.”

For posterity, here is a poem by Yeats, my favorite poet in English, so you can leave this blogopage without having felt like you have wasted your time here (if you have even made it this far).

 

TO A FRIEND WHOSE WORK HAS COME TO NOTHING
W.B. YEATS

Now all the truth is out,
Be secret and take defeat
From any brazen throat,
For how can you compete,
Being honor bred, for one
Who were it proved he lies
Were neither shamed in his own
Nor in his neighbors’ eyes;
Bred to a harder thing
Than Triumph, turn away
And like a laughing string
Whereon mad fingers play
Amid a place of stone,
Be secret and exult,
Because of all things known
That is most difficult.

 

He’s so great, isn’t he?

 

6:00 PM IN PARIS IN LOVE

August 13, 2012

So, as fate would have it I have become engaged in a battle of poets with Laura A. Warman from Pittsburgh.  For what appears below, we challenged one another to write a poem with the title 6:00 PM IN PARIS IN LOVE, which is a real challenge since it’s not much of a title for someone writing poetry in the 21st century.  Here are the products.  Hers is first, mine follows.

6:00 PM IN PARIS IN LOVE
Laura Warman

It is six o’clock in Paris
and I am in love if
you remove all the
prepositional phrases it
is just “I am” I am in love
with six o’clock in Paris
because here I am still
sleeping Yesterday I
was in love in Paris
eating a baguette or a
croissant or a quiche
repeating “fuck”

6:00 PM IN PARIS IN LOVE
Matt Whispers

I have been reading about Chimps, you see,
the big hairy bastards that like to scream
and slap at each other, like a drunk cousin
in from the country on the fourth of July.

I look up from my book to tell you about
them.       You smile and sighingly

now here is mine      his voice to me through an
æther, a wraith, haunt all those radio waves
in the punctured silence of shortwave chat.
I hear him, and many things, in the coolness

of night, the antennas all humming cicadas
out in his abscess of Northern New York, out there

almost to Lake Placid (and how paradisaical
the name Lake Placid) where maybe now
he is speaking of the map of the stars
app he has on his Iphone.         I am trying

not to talk about loneliness. Can you tell?
I am always talking about loneliness—

at work, in the magazines, even now
as I look at you while you peel the skin
off a Spanish peanut and        I, larkingly
“Carver hard at it again!” which you don’t

seem too amused by.        And now he closes
I will be off tomorrow. I’m going to Paris
to get stiff with my step-brother. New York,
he means        while somewhere in the Midwest

I sigh, having nothing to say     and you pop
that peanut in your mouth and chew, looking at me.

Back from the depths!!!

August 4, 2012

As some of you know I have been in Pittsburgh for the last month working to complete a book of poems.  And if you didn’t, now you do.  I got the opportunity to do this through the wonderful and amazing Cyberpunk Apocalypse Visiting Writer’s Program.  Cyberpunk Apocalypse is a collectively run writer’s house on the North Side of Pittsburgh that hosts both permanent residents and a rotating cast of visiting writers, as well as a number of events for the community.  I would highly recommend applying for the program to anyone considering, or interested in working short-term on a project you want to finish but maybe haven’t had the time to.  It’s immeasurable, how much one can get done if given the time and an environment of creativity.  Often here I find myself inspired by the diligence of hard-working artists and writers that come and go throughout the house.  It is I have found a rare experience to be allowed to exist in such a tight-knit and strong community of writers and artists (and here’s the kicker, since most writers anyways are lazy) who are actively working to produce something.  It challenges and inspires, to say the very least.  Not to mention the fact that not having a job for a whole month is awesome and everyone should try to do it as much as possible.  And they have a letterpress print shop!

The house recently got a write-up in the local paper, which article you can see here if you want more info about them.  There’s a goofy picture of Dan and me there, plus some of my least eloquent (and also sort of inaccurate, which fault is my own) quotes to ever be published and a stanza of poetry that I later cut completely.  Interviewers seem to have a tendency to respond to the most offhand, jokey, or irrelevant things I say to them and think of them as great quotables.  Though if Nikita Lalwani is reading this: the article is delightfully written and a treat.  Honestly. The only detriment to it is that I have a nervous tendency to say stupid shit that’s not really true or accurate.

The book I worked on here came to be a book of poems that is a Greek tragedy in which the main events of the story are not allowed to happen for a number of reasons, the main one being that the voices in the drama keep interrupting each other and thus can’t seem to get a coherent narrative together, or really agree on what that narrative is.  Some of these events, too, seem to have happened outside of the framework that the drama gives us.  It is as yet untitled.  I am still working on it despite doing basically nothing for the last month except holing up and looking at poems.  But since my writer’s showcase was last night and I’m (sadly) leaving Pittsburgh in 18 hours, this seems an appropriate time to post some of the work I’ve been doing.  Keep in mind these are drafts, people, in case you see them elsewhere in drastically different form. 

This first one is the incantation of the Muse.

MUSE

I’m old school, get it? I remember
when we used to drive up to Canada
(two hour trip) to get cigarettes for 10 bucks
a carton. Lucky Strikes baby. And on the
drive back I have the first soft pack rolled up
in the sleeve of my white t-shirt
                                              as we scream
down highway 81 while Jerry Lee Lewis
comes blasting on the stereo and we roll
all the windows down, you passed out
in the truck’s flatbed.
I know the taste of burnt diner coffee
with a strong kick of whiskey
at 3 AM,
                my hash browns growing cold
as I struggle to stay up for the second day straight.
Man, I’ve ridden ‘cross state lines on a motorcycle
borrowed from someone I barely knew.
Messed up and dreaming.
                                            You know
all those old cliches? I’m where they came from.
I’m the bad apple that spoils the barrel.
The straw that broke the camel’s back
was my dick. I’ve been to hell in a handbasket.
I’ve got a million of these. I just killed
two birds with one stone. Don’t ask me
how I did it.
                    And let me tell you baby—
I can fucking dance. I can mashed potato.
I can do the twist. I tried to sell my soul
to the devil but he didn’t want it.
                                                 And that guitar
turned up loud as we all spill out into
the parking lot and hit the road, the night
a song that calls to us into its abysmal embrace—
                                        I wrote that song, and I’ll
sing it to you, the tune for every broken heart
and dream crushed out like a cigarette
under the heel.

Here we see a speech by one of the members of the Chorus.

THE STONE

It was on the walk down the swirl of
Brookline streets, all the way up
where you feel as though you could
touch the crease of sky

that the stone appeared before me—
a large circle of faded green rock about
a foot across with some old serpent god
dancing on the face. It looked like it came from
a garden, lying there on the sidewalk.

I put it in my backpack
and felt the heft of it on my shoulder.
I didn’t know what I was going to do with it.

Returning home, I put the stone on the shelf
over our fireplace and watched it there,
frozen in dance. My roommate came in,
the surly bastard, and noticed the stone.

“That’s the Quetzalcoatl, you know,” he said.
“Nope, didn’t know.” I said.
“Well, it is. God of the sky and Earth.
Guardian of all knowledge and wisdom. And now
he’s just sitting there on our mantel.”

“Wow, all knowledge and wisdom.” I said.
“I could tell he was a badass.”
“I don’t like it,” he said. “Where’d you get
the damn thing anyways?”
“Up the road,” I said. “Found him on the
sidewalk.” I shrugged. The whole thing
seemed funny to me. “I don’t like it,”
he said again. He seemed spooked.

“Well what am I supposed to do with it then?”
I asked. “I don’t know. Put it back
where it came from. Don’t be such an asshole.

You’ve got a lot of options here.” I didn’t
say anything. A moment later he said
“You know, him being here means
something bad’s gonna come.”
“Oh yeah,” I said, “old Aztec myth,
right?” “Just saying,” he said, then

started to walk away, “watch out
for yourself.” I didn’t think anything bad
was gonna come, or that I was being

an asshole, just looking for a way to waste
the day. And I had succeeded. I played
and lost a game of knockout basketball,
then chased a dog around after it ran off
with my hat. And then I found the stone
or whatever it was and I brought it home.

Were these omens? I don’t know.
I just wanted to see what I could still
get away with. So I didn’t toss the stone,
just kept it there, where I could sit
and watch it forever dancing, waiting
for whatever was to come.

Next we see the Deuteragonist emerge, who tends to sound like a dramatic, whiny bastard.  This is him speaking.

ANNIE HALL ON THE DRIVE BACK TO BOSTON

How the evening tempts me to grandiosity
as we drive back from Lowell—the early fall
has brought a light rain      and the hum of
the radiator sings as the radio turns

to “Sleepy Lagoon,” that old swing tune,
while here in the backseat rolling a cigarette
I look up and there it is—
Boston, early Sunday evening, the old brownstones
and high-rises freshly aglow in the dying light.

It is the effect of this, the buildings through
the rain-soaked window seeming to be rendered
in watercolor that when I flick a match
to light the cigarette seems close to perfect.

                     Why now, Tommy Dorsey,
at the hem of the afternoon
spent with someone I’d like to spend more
afternoons with to make the moment seem

like some Annie Hall interlude?—the glow
of the cigarette reflected back at me in the car window
beyond which it is too picturesque to not
make me yearn, the band lounging
as the trumpet comes in bright—

it is too cinematic, too arranged for me
to not feel as though this song is meant to be
a pivot into something new, a fever of hurting
for some semblance of reason here, that maybe
someone has a hand in writing all this out—

a hand that slips away, sudden, as the driver
changes the station and the dream
is broken.

Then before our Protagonist emerges the stage is stolen by a group of Satyrs who attempt to lighten the mood through their singing.  Here is one of their stories.

MAY DAY 2012

How still it is in Logan Square
today as I sit out on a sidewalk bar,
head light and lolling to the sound of the idling
garbage truck. In the circle the borrachos

aren’t even drunk yet—their voices carry
for blocks, singing a worker’s song
on the low grass around the Centennial Column.
How funny to see the masses march

down Milwaukee ave. as I sit across
the square, my beer cooling my hands.
How many will learn of the pinch
of the handcuff today?—How many

police batons will caress the crease
at the backs of protester’s necks?
Downtown the businesses are just letting out
for lunch, all the clashes in the street

suddenly punctuated with an audience.
Here the sky is too clear-blue
and the first sip of beer too sweet
and cool to imagine picketing anything

except maybe the absence of beer and beautiful
afternoons. It is as though I want to
speak to them, to stand on a soapbox and sing
of a day when the world just seems

to reach out and embrace you. I can almost
picture it now—how joyous as downtown Chicago
relaxes into a state of total peace,
men turn to women and say “hello how are you

wasn’t it lovely just to wake up today?”—
as the politicians put out public apologies,
say “you were right, guys. We’ve been
robbing you blind for years.”

I turn to my afternoon drinking partner, say
“I’ve got an idea that could save the world.”
He laughs and says “this afternoon is too
wonderful, isn’t it? I was thinking that too.”

“They’ll erect statues of me,” I say, “in all
the squares. Standing with a beer held over
my head like a beacon of light. Founder of
the Free Party of Wonder.” “That’s really

something,” he says, “you should try it out.”
We laugh, and I can see on his smile
that the beer is warming him too.
The borrachos‘ songs are starting to take spirit.

“You know what I bet, pal?” I say.
“Somewhere in the world two men have just
shaken hands on a business deal that will profit
from the death of someone else.”

“Hope it’s not me,” he says, raising his glass
up to mine to clink it.

And finally our Protagonist appears, though a bit regrettably, to sing his story.  Here is his first lament.

THE PROTAGONIST SPEAKS

In another version of this story
I called in to work, stayed home
to watch the people walking their dogs.
In another I was fired back in December.
In another I had moved years ago
to be closer to that girl
who would eventually break my heart.
Another there is no work, only
people sitting and talking. Yet another
I am old and do nothing but watch baseball
and sit. Ah, the possibilities! Maybe
I do go in to the bar, but instead
leave early with some townie girl
I care nothing about. Maybe I say no
to another drink—yes, I see it,
I am sober. There are no dead hunks
of fleshy memory inside me, all prim
and beaming the way only the newly clean
can beam—maybe I walk out, quit
the evening that has turned stale
and somber, almost 6 am now. The pages
of my commuter book are wet with rain,
and I look up to the sky and notice
somehow, inexplicably, a new day is here.
There is an alternate story, see, somewhere
in here—one with no protagonist
and something beautiful happens,
and no one is around to bear witness.

So that’s generally what it looks like at this point in time.  

And yes, for those of you who may have wondered after me in my nearly two-year blogospheric absence, I am still alive, I still live in Logan Square in Chicago though at a different address than the one previously posted on here, and I still work a shitty job and like to drink and stay up all night.  The Effigy zine sounded its death rattle with the eighth issue, unfortunately, and the zine I intended to write about the greatest pinch hitter of all time never surfaced.  Life, to alter a phrase of Dr. Ian Malcolm’s, gets in the way.  But you can still order any of my Effigy zines (excepting the first three, which are out of print by which I mean I don’t feel like making any fucking copies of them okay?) by sending me a small amount of concealed cash in the mail.  3313 W Belden apt 2 Chicago IL 60647.  For now anyways.

And yes, it seems this blog might be useful to me again, so there is a chance (though I promise nothing) that it will stay active at least until I find a new distraction or lose internet access.  Last night I performed several of the poems from the book, some that you have seen here as well as others.  Since there was video of the event I may decide to post that video here, in case you’re interested in watching four people tell falsified stories about me and me lackadaisically throw t-shirts into the audience (you know, like at a baseball game!).  Again, though, I promise nothing, though you should stay tuned (or whatever the digital equivalent of that would be (what’s the digital equivalent of a commercial break?)) in case I do.  I am also considering creating an online AV version of the book, which would most likely just consist of video of me reading the whole damned thing.  So again, stay tuned.

Currently I am drinking warm beer from a day-old keg out of a coffee mug, and it is wonderful to be digitized again, and as such I may consider staying so, though perhaps when the hangover kicks in I’ll regret even this post.

Long Time Hiatus!!! Zine Tour!!! Life is Crazy!!!

April 15, 2011

So I’ve been absent for a while. Yes yes. But I’m back. With a new midwest/east coast tour to boast! Me and my good friend Richard Wehrenberg Jr. are doing some readings around the area in the coming days. Locations and dates are:

APRIL 16 – MILWAUKEE, WI @ Cream City Collectives (632 E. Clarke St.) w/ James Payne, Sean Arnold, Boop, Andrea Lutz, Jeremy Behreandt, Cat Ries, & Matt Plain.

APRIL 17 – MADISON, WI @ Mother Fool’s Coffee House (1101 Williamson St.) w/ James Payne, Chris Taylor, & Jason Schiller. 7 PM.

APRIL 18 – MINNEAPOLIS, MN @ Psychic School of Dream Actualization w/ James Payne & more.

APRIL 19 – CHICAGO, IL @ 1622 S. Allport St. w/ James Payne, Wendy Spacek, & Cassandra Troyan.

APRIL 20 – GRAND RAPIDS, MI @ TBA

APRIL 21 – DETROIT, MI @ TBA

APRIL 22 – CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, OH @ Mac’s Backs (1820 Coventry Rd.) w/ Jordan Castro & Mallory Whitten. 7 PM. Donations.

APRIL 23 – KENT, OH @ The ARM House (formerly the Vineyard) for A.R.M. FEST II (154 N. Depeyster St.) w/ American War and many, many more.

APRIL 24 – BOSTON, MA @ TBA

APRIL 25 -DAY OFF

APRIL 26 – NEW PALTZ, NY @ 14 Mulberry St. w/ Kate Larson, Lepidoptera Puppet Opera Co. 7PM. Donations.

APRIL 27 – PHILADELPHIA, PA @ Wooden Shoe Books (704 South St.) 7PM.

APRIL 28 – PITTSBURGH, PA @ Cyberpunk Apocalypse (5431 Carnegie St.) w/ Andy Folk. 7PM.

APRIL 29 – COLUMBUS, OH @ Monster House (115 W. 10th Ave.) w/ Ryan J. & Saintseneca. 9PM. Donations.

APRIL 30 – BLOOMINGTON, IN @ The Owlery (212 S. Rogers St.) w/ TBA.

So come check us out at those places and times.

In the meantime, I’ve got a new location in Chicago. So stuff sent to my old address isn’t gonna get to me. Any zine orders and letters, hold off on sending. We don’t really get mail here. But I’m going through the bureaucracy of getting a po box, so that’ll be coming soon.

New zine coming whenever I finish it.

Life is crazy.

Still Kicking Up Dust!!!

October 5, 2010

It’s been a while, but I’m still here. I was working two shit jobs until I quit the second one, now there’s just the one. In the meantime I’m spending a lot of time in my backyard inside my head, making frequent trips back and forth to Milwaukee (prospective move), sleeping late and waking up confused, etc.

I did manage to finish an issue of my zine, though.

All you faithful subscribers should start checking your mail in the next few days. If yr not one of these, pick up a copy at Quimby’s or mail me 4 bucks at:
Matt Whispers
1743 N Mozart APT 2
Chicago, IL 60647.

Here’s a snippet, the first section of a poem called Work Poem.

I am seated on a stack of crates in the alley behind the restaurant in chef’s whites, smoking, shoulders slumped and dead, staring down into the grit and grime that collects here. I can hear the muddle of the Division Street farmer’s market around the corner as it reaches its mid-afternoon peak. It is a Saturday and I have been here since the sun came up. I look deep into the puddle that collected after the 20 minutes of hard rain–how brilliant and contained, the reflection of criss-crossed wires and blue and building tops in the shallow murk mingling with gum, sand from spilt sand bags, and way too may cigarette butts–and with my formerly-grey-now-turned-to-grey-black sneakers teetering on the edge of this new lake, it is a near-perfect image, one that puts me at ease for this moment, that I am tempted to try and photograph as if that could capture any of the resonance this smoke break holds, but know that it would fall short, would not speak to anyone of the overwhelming sensation I have, that even this poem is a fallacy, trying to crunch in all the complex and resolute things flying inside and around me all the time, to squeeze it into words like “melancholia” or “defeat,” or “the sheer weight of it all.” No, sometimes things seem too beautiful for it to matter if anyone else sees them.


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