Saturday, July 21, 2012

St. Louis, 2003 -- in which poems are born.

I spent the first weekend of December 2003 in St. Louis, MO. It was a dreary couple of days brightened by a reading I gave with Arielle Greenberg Bywater, which was hosted and part of a series curated by Aaron Belz. As I recall, Jonathan Mayhew was there as well.

The reading was at the City Museum and went rather well. I was rather bummed out, for personal reasons, and spent the rest of the weekend alone, wandering the streets through the wet snow, through the gutted downtown full of empty shopping centers and boarded-up buildings, looking for a Pepsi. That first night, though, after the reading, Aaron took me for a short drive and we stopped for a bit right across from the Gateway Arch, which looked yellow and pink in the weird light and snow. Aaron played for me the as-yet-unreleased Mountain Goats album, "We Shall All Be Healed." The music was appropriate to the mood: twitchy, meth-driven, but slow...

After, I retired to my hotel room, where I spent the next two nights holed up with a bottle of bourbon, room service, and hotel cable television. James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhal kept me company. And pizza.

Two poems came from that trip. The first, "MICHAEL JACKSON CAUGHT WITH WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION!" was written that same night that Aaron dropped me off. The local news was on, the Blazers beat the Lakers, Sadaam Hussein was discovered in a spider-hole, and the title of the poem is something I swore I heard during the newscast. The other poem came about a month later. "Hash Anthem" was my poem for Aaron, which I wrote while half-listening to a lecture on Faulkner. That poem remains one of my favorites to this day. The former, as far as I can remember, has never been published nor seen by anybody. Maybe I'll send it out one of these days.

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