The Tulsa Spur
Tulsa sits on a spur branching off but still in the gravity of the I-35 corridor, a road I was born on and have I’ve been traveling all my life. I came here thinking it would be devoid of any forward-thinking artistic energy, a complete DIY town where nothing will every happen unless I do it. Although the DIY part is somewhat true, I was surprised at the avant garde spirit I’ve found here. I’ve written lots of poems from this place, though not necessarily about this place, and I have found it immensely enriching for innovation, in an aesthetic sense. There is something about the extremities here—the weather, the politics, the characters, the landscape the sky—that begs for new kinds of poetry. Begs, or forces, it out of me.
For poems more about this land and life, see the ones I’ve published in our sleek regional semi-monthly, This Land: Two Poems and Dry Oklahoma.
I’m also met many amazing artists here with which I’ve collaborated. Both the “Tulsita” and “Holy/Oil” animations resulted in months-long interactions in which two poets (David Goldstein and myself), a photographer (Mindy Stricke) and a sound artist (Nathan Halverson) through which we attempted every way we could think of to break down the boundaries between our media.
As many know, I’m fond of pointing out Tulsa’s innovative artistic heritage. As a high school junior, Ron Padgett met Ted Berrigan here after he published the first issue of The White Dove Review, the literary magazine for Central High that featured poems by Leroy Jones, Allen Ginsberg, and Jack Kerouac, among other Beat luminaries that Padgett had precociously solicited through the mail. Joe Brainard and Dick Gallup helped Padgett publish this little journal before they, along with Padgett and Berrigan moved to New York City to become what John Ashbery facetiously called the “Tulsa School.” In my view, though, the Tulsa School is still alive and well, as many people in this city are making experimental poetic art right where they are. They include but are not limited to
Bruce Dean Willis
Many more have come and gone, leaving their mark on this city’s antinomian aesthetic.
Below are a few poems that I’ve written lately and, whether I like it or not, they probably have the dust of this city on them.
What kind is your white? Phone in
The bringing of my thanks.
They ate the pastures to the rocks.
Bo Barns Live Music
Come here, Cookie, I’ll bayou and raise you.
You want to be an honorary girl.
There is latitude in your type
A lot of peeing in these poems,
A string cohiscience,
She doesn’t read as much as flip
What happens to all our shoes?
Put your self out on a limb
Between design and war.
Moribund is eponymous.
Silver cum pewter.
Chewy inchoate chocolate.
Catalogue every crisis.
Personal identification is the only way to save earth?
He’s an enactualist.
* * * * *
derivative wall fleeting
deceipt upon receipt
the market unpacked
irate vain art
fun fans phone
delete the same
old agony matter
retry resuscitation rehersal
atmosphere attention attire
every generation’s toxic
intreacheration acid echo.
There is no end
Aging eyes again
mark blank executive markets
spill baby spill
beard of verbs
in the hairstand
more today than
yesterday between cracks
our nice guitar
waste words worn
spite my eclipse
cents everywhere concrete
last town content
street squat ganj
Porto-john truth squad
wishful sound movement
Terrify empathy voice
portion sentences perhaps
Batman meningitis tongue
super sequel seeker
Lovely langover hour
basic plan of being
* * * * *
onomatopoeia him thinks of
onanism and peeping through
to capture the grinding
in the words against
each other in the track of the neck
playing so supple up tempo
the rumble of prosaic static
and eaten by entropy our
tropes and a tropical splitting
seize the sound, is the sound
of a backyard dismemberment
aye there’s a rub, substituting
scraps for scrapes, endraping, en-
dive in the garden farty and chuck
such as there is metal in the throat
the holler started systems and rays
though insects have in their thorax
such synapses and silicon sighings
are alliteration and rhyme the only
speed without time, in lines and jacks
nosesleaves might help shape sonic
reverberations in the body politic
then fall back to 60 kilohertz at the end
of the voting block, eye-cuts and jumps
transpositional phrases have echoes
in bonobo tribes alarms are pulled when
certain social cues are not heard wind
diminished fifths by drinking an ounce
at a time when waves enter the ear
unsolicited males acoustic beam-shaping
in being heard, in being. Seeing is neither
since salt water alight by radio
frequency brings balance to relationship
interned in the aspiration of the “s”
stress and repetition make it music
she said guessingly resenting resonance
the counter-chime, O Bank of America
lost in the rush of salt water, blood stood
aft of the massive tanker’s hull, clanking
incessantly we speak. We speak and speak.
It all sounds like machinery. Or cats
in heat and exhaustion—the release of air
within the English, a spin, of the loop
returning again for meaning and connection
in the renunciation of memory, I recall
the woman with money, hair, eyes encouraged
vibrating, repeating time and a search for beauty
in noise when the harmonics are too complex
for our ears only. when wood wonders, we
sheath ourselves. calling on semblances
of experience from which to rent the veil
a composition which responds to changes
in temperature the strings resent a procedure
that can carry us through a live performance
is imagined in the skulls of the dead.