Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Introducing: Featured Poet: CaLokie!


With a big smile and a special wink, I am delighted to present one of my favorite poets, known to all who love him (and that's everyone who knows him) as CaLokie. His strong, insightful verse speaks for our time, speaks what needs to be spoken, says what we all want to say and with a critical keen eye and voice, he's salvaging the best and dumping the rest in a society gone mad. He's hilariously funny, and dead serious. He's critically sharp, sarcastic and intense, yet loving, emotionally gentle and dear. Born during the depression, in Oklahama, he came to California in 1959 and taught in the Los Angeles school district for 30 years. His pen name was inspied by the joads struggle for survival in Grapes of Wrath and the songs and life of fellow Okie, Woodie Gutherie. He's published many poems in journals and is loved as a guest reader for his fantastic presence and animated readings. His poetry is always full of bold, unexpected imagery, and his voicing of them adds a dimension beyond the norm, to say the least. I am hoping to add sound files to this page as soon as possible, so you can enjoy that feature of his poetry. Although he made a brief appearance on the former DMV poetry site before it ended, he is mostly not known to online poetry communities, so I feel especially honored to be able to present his work here. I'll also in the coming days add an album of photos so you can get a look at his effect on audiences. We are enormously lucky to have him at our local readings in Pasadena and at the Thursday Night Poetry Workshop at the Wilson's each week. CaLokie's favoritw tee shirt reads: "Peace and Justice: Weapons of Mass Instruction". We'll start with a brief selection.

Love a Duck


Lord


Lord
love a duck


Lord
love a duck in
the back of a truck


Lord
love a duck
and a mutt in the
back of a dump truck


Lord
love a duck
named Bucky and
a mutt called Butterball
in the back of a dump truck


Lord
love a drunk
duck named Bucky and
a dumb mutt called Butterball
in the back of a dump truck stuck in
the middle of the muddle of the race track


Lord
love a drunk
duck named Bucky and
a dumb mutt called Butterball
who both throw up in the back of
a dump truck stuck in the middle of the
muddle of the muddy race track of Aqueduct


An Ode to Barbaro


What kind of racehorse would Barbaro have been?
How would he have gone down in history
If, instead of a leg broken at Preakness, it was a win?


He won the Kentucky Derby by a six length margin
And was a champion on dirt and grass like John Henry.
What kind of racehorse would Barbaro have been?


He had run seven races and was unbeaten.
What do you think would be his legacy
If, instead of a leg broken at Preakness, it was a win?


He had this incredible speed and stamina blend.
Who can forget his turf triumph at the Laurel Futurity?
What kind of racehorse would Barbaro have been?


A colt like him doesn’t come along that often.
Would there have been at Belmont a triple crown victory
If, instead of a leg broken at Preakness, it was a win?


Like Keats too soon a promising life comes to an end.
When will we witness again such truth and beauty?
What kind of racehorse would Barbaro have been
If, instead of a leg broken at Preakness, it was a win?




Me and Jim


Jim Feliz is half Apache
but looks more Indian than Mexican
I am a little Cherokee and Irish
some Brit blood
The rest of my DNA--the San Gabriel Valley
Poets Tribe


We both have the same animal guides--
horses
That’s how we met each other
at Santa Anita


Because of his surname kids at school
would greet Jim, ” Felix the Cat
the wonderful, wonderful cat...”
That’s why he always bets on any horse
with a cat in their name like Outlaw Cat
Apollo’s Scat Kat or El Gato Famoso
He also has a feline named Tiger
who’s the light of his life


When we go to the races we don’t sit
in the grandstand as Bukowski did
but at one of the tables
in this pavilion outside of it
Often a lot of blackbirds flock nearby
and so we’ll share with our winged
brothers and sisters any corn chips
or pretzels we may bring


You see we feel we’re a part of nature
not separate from it
like you European Americans think
That’s why we don’t pollute Mother Earth
like you guys are always doin’


We have this reverence toward creation
which, frankly, you non-indigenous
would do well to emulate
I mean spirituality isn’t a go to church
or synagogue once a week thing with us
but something we do daily
Me and Jim, for example, carry with us
wherever we go
our own incense--cigars


When we breathe in its holy smoke
it’s meditation and then after a long
slow exhale
it’s sent back to Father Sky
as prayer


Now don’t get us wrong
When we win a big bet, we don’t do no dumb thing
like say that we give all the credit to the Great Spirit
Otherwise we’d have to blame G.S. whenever bad things
happen to good handicappers, wouldn’t we?
When one of our horses which would
have given us a huge payoff wins
but is disqualified by a steward’s inquiry
instead of cursing
we’re stoical


When successful at the track, we celebrate
with a shrimp taco dinner at SeƱor Fish
or a double cheeseburger with soda at Tommy’s
When not, we take solace from listening
to the blues on my car stereo


Yeah
We feast more on blues
than tacos or cheeseburger combos
but hey
a good fast has never hurt nobody
has it?

Every Five Seconds*


I look around and dead people are all that I can see.
650,000 Iraqis have died since the United States invasion.
Every five seconds a child dies because that child is hungry.


President Bush says he'll stick by the figure of 30,000 dead Iraqis.
But still too many innocent have died and he sends his consolation.
I look around and dead people are all that I can see.


25,000 people condemned every day to die from poverty.
720 children per hour, 12 per minute--dead from starvation.
Every five seconds a child dies because that child is hungry.


On 911, 3,000 people died and changed everything it seems.
But everyday 16 skyscrapers of famished inmates perish by hunger’s execution.
I look around and dead people are all that I can see


Nine million people -- six million of them juveniles and babies--
Complete life’s journey by what Nazis called the “final solution.”
Every five seconds a child dies because that child is hungry.


The wealthy few profit from a global market which excludes the needy--
Those whose malnourished bodies will be buried with little, if any lamentation.
I look around and dead people are all that I can see.
Every five seconds a child dies because that child is hungry.


* This villanelle is based on an email post by Marc Norton called, ALL I SEE ARE DEAD PEOPLE and which was first published in BEYOND CHRON, October 20, 2006 http://www.beyondchron.org/news/index.php?itemid=3812

A Marxist Mother Goose Tale

This is the house that Jack built

This is the fair day’s wage
that Jack’s paid for a fair day’s work to build the house

This is the apartment
that Jack pays half of a fair day's wages to rent
that’s half of the size of the house that he built

This is the malt
that lay in the apartment
that Jack pays half of a fair day's wages to rent
that’s half of the size of the house that he built

This is the rat
that ate the malt
that lay in the apartment
that Jack pays half of a fair day's wages to rent
that’s half of the size of the house that he built

Jack’s landlord did not buy a cat
to kill the rat
that ate the malt
that lay in the apartment
that Jack pays half of a fair day's wages to rent
that’s half of the size of the house that he built
He bought the house that Jack built

This is the apartment
that Jack pays 65% of a fair day's wages to rent
that’s half of the size of the house that he built
And still there’s no cat
to kill the rat

1 comment:

Poetry said...

Night Shinning on the face of the sky.

Nocturnal bloodwork.

While cities sleep.