You were born and raised in the Bronx, what brought you to LA?

For better or worse, I really didn’t think about it much, I just did it. I had a best friend who moved out here and I was curious to see the city that Bukowski wrote about. I was only writing for a few years at this point, still trying to find my voice, but I thought throwing myself into a whole new strange world and starting from scratch would give me the kick in the ass I needed.

To be quite honest, it damn near killed me. Writing was the only thing that kept me going… that and booze, lots and lots of booze.

today
will not
get away

it will be
hunted and
stalked

opened
and entered

feasted upon
and finally
laid to rest

well lived
and unwasted.

ROMANS/SNOWMARE

By Cam Scott

Poem

 

[ROMANS/SNOWMARE is a potentially interminable life-poem, to which I add at least one sentence every day. The earliest layers of this project appear in a book of the same name, ROMANS/SNOWMARE, published by ARP Books in 2019, from which the first of these texts is excerpted. ROMANS/SNOWMARE is available in the United States from AK Press.]

 

ROMANS. Do faces have headlights, or windows? I’ve never slept the night before a trip, too busy planning about packing. Dark chocolate parching, an excellent source of magnesium. The stream of everlasting life is owned by Nestle, too. What’s on tap in the master bathroom? I’m so thirsty I could suck a faucet. If we’re going to have to suffer anyway, why wait? One must life equal parts in heaven and on earth. Is freedom a state or a road? “The law does not construct a subject who simply and unequivocally has a desire, but one who rejects its desire, who wants not to desire it.” Her dad was a cop or something. There were bagpipes at the funeral, no one wept. I’m a vicarious sensualist, lingering near second-hand smoke as one might have loitered at the mall. All atmosphere is lightly used. Nothing originates. Made with natural flavours, derived from natural sources. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, bus depot Thunder Bay. The lion’s mane has fallen off but carries on in name. Catching cobwebs in my hair, a silk proximity to skin, I bless the sickening illogic of it all. A putrefying factory or mobile lobe, courting contempt foot over fossil. Am I that bowl of brains, a swollen bag of blood? But then you never see a corpse that isn’t made up on TV. Slept past the water pipe emporium. Catastrophism is “for all”—no nukes, a meagre veganism. As she neared moral perfection, her to-do list dwindled to a few pressing mistakes. The region’s richest silver mine reduced down to a supple islet. A panoramic view inside a rock. O Sponge, your own name is a verb—conatus, indifferently sexed. One can’t mix poetry and politics without theft of necessity. Start with the ideas then. Nostalgia has no bearing upon justice: neither as fidelity to an event, nor as speculation on the resurrection. Imagine a world in which one may adequately mourn. The meadowlark tried in its way. A tradition that extends toward Antigone. The bowaldrome across the courthouse lawn was busiest at lunch, the nearby Travelodge stuffed with incumbent Christs. I hate to see a crust punk hustling on behalf of a suffering pet, as though one nervous system weren’t elaborate enough to bear the succulence of this privation, like one needed a proximate gullet to taunt. That’s my stingy conservative talking, he lashes out at any show of friendship he can’t monetize. No smoking, for example. What’s that odd smell wafting off the parking lot at dusk? Omega 3s, the nutritionist said, are to your brain as oil is to a car. But that light had been on for years, unblinking so ignored. I take the bus so I can tell my story, charmless braggart ambling least. I haven’t shit in Ignace in three years. It’s the acoustic boogaloo that sunders you. Like playing racquetball without a wall, writing a villanelle without a line rule. Galoot forgot his hairnet, had to wear a hat. His colon killed him. Dad’s cologne. A better question asked in bad faith. Who misses the Burger Family? At what point do free spirits go solo? I said that on a whim to see if we were listening. Whoever lingers longest takes the cake. 

grow sick of gilets
and the posturing of
redundant letters

lie down

recognise the fissure
for what it is

take out a loan and
employ an artist’s
impression

obliterate savings
and proliferate
suspect via
billboards and sky writing

lie under breach
until face comes
forward

What does it most often look like around you when you write? Do you have a zone?

I like a big desk and a bulletin board. I decorate my writing space with earthly treasures and many different notes that help guide me through my process. I also like to have space to get up and dance while I work because moving my body makes it all better. I like to be in complete solitude while I write. The best is a room with a view of nothing but landscape and a nearby wall that I can tape paper and images to. I’ve been lucky enough to conjure this at various times in my life and am in awe of the privilege. I seek out solo retreats in Joshua Tree and Humboldt County. The natural world, as opposed to the urban, is a consistent part of my practice.

Start by loving a God that lives
Inside the shell of a black beetle.
Now get a little older
And become a Jew
Who loves a God inside letters
That read backward on the page.
Older still and Christ comes
To teach some other version
That wipes us all clean
When we get dunked
In an above-ground swimming pool.

Get yourself an invite to a room full of fear, hubris and desire.

Enter to applause

          for someone just over your shoulder.

Gently float.

You are invisible…
you do not register.

Glide through the room,

          enter their orbits

          questioning if you still have skin.

Humid chatter is the evening’s soundtrack.

Start open. Start loose and
easy. Let your lines blink in
the sun. Start with the second thing
you ever knew. Draw your fingers together
like circling wagons, then like dancing lovers,
then like puzzle pieces. You should find
at the end of yourself

What was the genesis of this book?

Save Our Ship was inspired by “The Diverse Vices of Women, Alphabetized,” a renaissance alphabet intended to instruct women to avoid sensual pleasure, particularly that of speech. I overheard my art history colleague, Theresa Flanigan, mention her work on it, and my poet-spidey-sense tingled: I knew I could use it. I began by writing against it, but the result was too one-note. Meanwhile, I had become increasingly obsessed by the climate crisis and sixth extinction. So feminist rants were joined by environmental freakout poems, with some more quotidian poems mixed in, I hope leavening the whole with some humor. My elevator pitch is: “#MeToo meets Global Weirding, in abecedarian form. But in a good way.”

Your clamshell rings and rings
                                                         wrapped in seagreen plastic

         Mer-crone calling Fisher King

The number you are calling has a voice mail box that has been deluged

          a drowned sailor picks up

… crusts of dried salt in the streets …
                                                                      you’re breaking up …

          the tide of pink jellyfish
                                                      big as washing machines
                                                                                                     rises

When did you first think about talking to the dead?

As a child first without thinking, it seemed normal to have a cast of characters always in my head separate from the voices we all carry. They have their own languages. But with intention, not until my brother suicided; then I thought there must be a way to tune in and reach specifically, blood of my blood and coded the same as we are. I spent two years meditating while writing BASIC PROGRAMMING creating a visual narrative that involved walking 108 steps, one for each isolated inhale or exhale down a spiral staircase to the underworld where I could shed this coil and find him. If I lost count going down or my focus wavered, I would get up from the mat. And when I finally reached the bottom, I realized I didn’t know what to do at that point. You have to know how to get back up safely.

110 < >

By Megan Burns

Poem

what I do/ bemoan loss/ my betrayal/ what’s good/ never
traveled a land of dead to get me/ would you/ never waded my city
to pull photos from floodwater stained walls/ would you/ never tried
to pull my spine, notch vertebrae notch through back where I’m split/ spit on me/ would you/ never lowered yourself into mud spewing vomit, your lies that bile thick hanging from your chin/ or clawed your eyes out to not see pain you cause me/would you/ never put muzzle back of my head/ but you did/ never pulled trigger sending metal biting through wishes, dreams, nightmares / never put your mouth on mine & sucked out my breath or put it back in/
wouldyou/wouldyou/wouldyou/

photograph by Emily Raw

Here’s a way to start a self-interview. How are you not yourself?

How am I not myself? I’ve had to cut out dairy, I moved twice in a year, I’m trying to leave academia. I hardly recognize myself.

liver licked out of shape,
moldova moya, liquor
loves your shakes

louder the laughing,
lucky the fool, moldova
moya, playing pool

laid out, olives
like eyes, moldova moya,
milk and lies

birthday poem

By Adam Soldofsky

Poem

 

with blasphemies

and great things in my head

i woke up

but you’d already gone to work 

 

anyway none of it was new 

 

why aren’t they fucking off

the ones who should be

with their insane appeals

to modesty 

 

i’m not about to leave the earth