Embers Flaring

Houses of a Crystal Muse, a poetic dialogue/collaboration between myself and Antoinette Nora Claypoole, will be released by Wild Embers Press next week. Also featuring images by Issa de Nicola and Anthony Distefano.  Wild Embers is offering free review copies.
Here is one of the poems from the book:
You,
true to your own scythe,
perpetrate with fierce love,
small necessary deaths,
you,
whispering sweet winged words
of encouragement to your reaper,
Hurry now, slowly,
and bless my broken softly,
bless every last ghost
through the numinous host
of reckon,
and watch me
rise,
this side of dream,
bountied
to the swell
of commonest prayers.
–J.B.

houses

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Author in New York

The complete collection of City Beat: Author in New York, a street photography series shot by Anthony Distefano can be viewed here.
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To see more of Anthony’s work, visit his Instagram page.
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City Beat

“For the perfect flaneur, it is an immense joy to set up house in the heart of the multitude, amid the ebb and flow. To be away from home, yet to feel oneself everywhere at home, to see the world, to be at the center of the world, yet to remain hidden from the world.” — Charles Baudelaire
The Street Scene, or Urban Wayfarer series, as photographed by Anthony Distefano.

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Brooklyn for Reel

Video recording of a reading from my novel, No Man’s Brooklyn, as part of “Italian Good Fellas Night” at SOMOS (Taos, NM).
In this scene, father and son pay a visit to Atlantic City, where gambling, drinking and storytelling play out under the flickering lights of a knotted past.

 

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(Image by Anthony Distefano)
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Jean Rhys

You held the islands in your eyes, where it rained
and rained and then the sun warmed wet to a wafting hiss.
This Jean, you, the feline slink,
filigreed shock,and sinewy comb
of whitelaced waves
ruffling upon
puttied blobs of shore.
Heartsore eyes,
you looked out
when no one was looking,
when the judges had lost sight of you,
and then, daring glee, you’d dive
into the smallest kingdom,
of mudpies and sancastles,
seafizz kissing the wiggling halfmoons of fresh pink toes,
and you’d laugh and laugh, nymph of the sea,
begging its inheritance and claim
with the involuntary desperation of the meek.
Yet the islands, at the mercy of memory-tides,
flooded regularly, and you, rag doll corseted to a raft,
were carried back back back—
the shabby hotel rooms with vicious mirrors,
brightly lit cafes with trained voices
faring your terrors,
and your heart, o your poor heart,
a ruptured cadenza
consummating tender relations
with all the wrong men,
and out of its brokeneness
flowed the sap and resin
or nursery school blues—
I didn’t know
I didn’t know
I didn’t know.
There was the bottle, gauzy fretted palls,
the milkfingering of wind.
There was also ribbed fringes of prose,
and that was where we found you,
alone, the barest treble,
shipwrecked on a distant island
that was mostly made of mist, and nostalgia, scabbed.
You held the islands in your eyes, Jean, where gashes
came to know the sea’s suture and rhyme, its flicking bluegreen tongues
as balm and frolic upon
the smallest kingdom
restored
to grace.

 

jean rhys

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Henry Miller

Some men rattle their chains and wonder, some sing them.
Then there are others who spraypaint their chains rainbow siege
and dance a jig like a peacock on fire, and when someone asks
Isn’t it hard to dance around with those chains weighing you down,
the man laughs heartily and responds—What chains, my dear lad,
these are feathers. Listen to the way they jangle and clink when I dance,
have you ever heard feathers that sound like that? Miraculous and unusual, yes?
You, Henry Miller, were one of those men.
You turned wrought-iron links, Brooklyn-made, into loafer’s foam,
into dreamfaring plumage, unabashed in its frisson and vainglory,
smeared bottom’s up in in deep semen envy, angel’s spit, and stolen honey.
Vagabondage was your claim, but not your master.
Though you did have many teachers—bilious clowns, crowded streets,
torn trousers, children’s capered faces, gateless barbarians,
your mother’s frigid ruler (and how you learned the only thing
worth measuring was love, that which belonged to the immeasurable).
A lusty little scamp at heart, eyes unpopping buttons
and sailing seas of skirts in parks, you were literature’s answer to Charlie Chaplin,
with an unzipped mouth and cracked tower of seismic songs to yawp,
the world needed a Henry Miller, because you said so,
and in cement that remained eternally wet, you signed your name
and sang, Whitmanesque, of yourself, again and again and again,
an explodingly insistent echo,
and the sincerest of forgeries,
because, for those dwelling between lines,
a signature verifying an identity—
I am he, he is me, he is he, I am I, etc,
never does true justice
to the multitudinous at work
in the playing of one’s self as instrument
upon which God’s deepwelling nothingness
meets and mates with one’s youthingness,
and from there, bang.
Just bang and wow and let’s make radical inscrutable love,
music, art, whatever.
You, “Henry Miller,” wink-wink,
gave us your pulsing timepiece of whatever,
and you, Henry Miller, as my Brooklyn soul-chum and compatriot,
separated by age but not spirit,
granted me amnesty
and helped me to unlock my own
bang, wow, and whatever
resounding yes
whatever
yes
yes.

 

henry III

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Tatters

For many years
I asked Grief to
wait outside my window,
a peripheral guest
chancing obscure, fugitive
details, and lighted tatters.
Have I been a poor host,
stranger to my own ghost
and remnants?
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Something Blissful This Way Comes

No need for the past,
living mythology, you,
here and now, begin.
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Census

Your soul’s country

is much bigger

than you think.

Find every last you

there.

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Pathfinder

Traveling mapless backroads,
I found heaven
looking for me.
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