Saturday, January 10, 2009

Jack Micheline's "Manifesto"

(Note: an incomplete version of this post went out this morning. My apologies.)

Earlier this week, stuck home with a bad cold and no voice, I sat down with a pile of books I've been going through: two by James Wright, an R. H. Blyth, the "new" translation of Anna Karenina, Paintings in Proust, Rommel Drives on Deep Into Egypt by Richard Brautigan, and Outlaw of the Lowest Planet by Jack Micheline.

Yes, I was feeling miserable, but what a way to go.

I read the Tolstoy in chunks, slept, ate soup, picked up some poetry, read more Tolstoy etc. It was a plan.

In between some incidents of high Russian soap opera, I picked up the Micheline book and this fell out:

Click on the image to read

What a treat! What starts out as a manifesto, dips into Beat history, than personal history, and ends up as one hell of a wacked publisher's blurb written by the wild man poet himself. I loved it.

And the book itself - Outlaw of the Lowest Planet - I enjoyed very much, overall for me much better than River of Wine, his most often cited work. The poems here come from three different decades yet have a cohesive feel, Micheline's voice never wavering over the years. Over at Outlaw Poetry, there is an article by another small press icon, Todd Moore, on Micheline, entitled chasing jack micheline's shadow that is worth a look.

Here's a couple of poems from Outlaw of the Lowest Planet that give a good feel for Jack's work.

Beauty is everywhere Baudelaire

Beauty is everywhere Baudelaire
Even a worm is Beautiful
The thread of a beggar's dress
The red eye of a drunkard
on a rainy night
Chasing the red haired girl
Baudelaire across the sky
Your raggy paints
Laughing in the rain
Beauty is everywhere Baudelaire

A Look Back at My Youth

A highway crosses the playground of my childhood
the shoemaker is still on Archer Street
the druggist
the same faces inhabit the wilderness of the Bronx
its superstitions
its narrow minds
the synagogue of old hebrews
the church of black cloth Catholoics
its Irish sons with yellow ties
the football field is still there
night descends over the houses
Willy the mad Russian where are you
Tullo carrying ten men over the goal line
lost junky after the cheers died away
wild Murray where are you
Joey Cohen pimples on your face where are you
Little Abie do you laugh that loud anymore I wonder
voices of the children playing in the park
the boat house is deserted
the grass is still green in October
night is descending over the Bronx
the wilderness is but a memory
The Ritz movie is long gone
the whores have all moved away
It is time to gon on
time moves so quickly
My mother still prays nightly
I used to play hooky and go to Bronx Park
and look at the lovers in the grass
the leaves are brown and green now
water flows down the fall of the Bronx River

------------------Spring 1959

River St. Poem

Out on the walk
by the Louisiana shore
the early morning light meets the darkness
the waves roll in slow but sure
one star
one red floating light
one freighter from Tampico
one barge
one riverboat
one bridge
one radio tower
the waves consistent with the tide
one slogan painted on a wall
"Be Yourself Forever"
Algiers, Savannah, Tampa, Santiago, Havana,
the do shakes its shaggy tail
the human condition remained the same
nothing really changes but the drone of engines
Mindanao, Monterrey, Madagascar,
-----------------------Montego, Montana, Montezuma
the dark freighter crawls into port
4 monks statue-like on River Street
A green light flashing
The sky turning black to pink to red
Evers to Tinker to Chance
A triple play
One solitary bird saluting the universe
the sky grey to white
the early morning smoke rising
the dark freighter crawls into port
the hooker walks on

----------------7-11-87, New Orleans, LA

These are poems to be heard, to be read aloud, to be chanted. They are poems of wonder and beauty and horror, all encompassing and spontaneous, poems of a tradition but not in it.

These are Jack Micheline poems.

It seems that Outlaw of the Lowest Planet is still available from the original Zeitgeist Press. Toggle down about halfway on the page (or hit control "f" and search "planet") to see the listing.



Pris said...

Great blog here. Stumbled across it googling Dave Church after reading an email A.D. Winans sent around with a poem commemorating him. Going to add you to my links.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Pris, thanks very much for your very kind words and note. I will be checking out your page also. If you write short poems, see the parent magazine, Lilliput Review, homepage for info about sending work along.


Monsieur K. said...

Hi, the complete Zeitgeist catalogue is available at and Todd Moore books plus Mark Weber, Jared Smith, Alex Gildzen, Cross & Roads Press, Doug Holder, francEye, a great selection of nearly 100 poetry books by Gazelle, Jared Smith, Jeffrey Winke, John Yamrus, Norbert Blei, Raindog, S.A. Griffin, sunnyoutside, Tony Moffeit, Poesy Mag and VOX Audio, Bruce Holsappel's contemporary poetry reading CD's with Todd Moore, Mera Wolf, Gene Frumkin, Lee Sharkey, Margaret Randall, John Macker, Albert Huffstickler, David Benedetti, Gary Brower, Michael Rothenberg, David Meltzer, Jeffrey Lee, David Abel, Burt Hatlen, Joan Logghe, Bobby Byrd, Joe Hayes, Mary Rising Higgins, George Kalamaras, Mary Ann Cain, Larry Goodell, Chico Martin, Bill Sylvester, Craig Dworkin, John Tritica, Dana Wilde, Joseph Somoza, David Empfield, Timothy Wright, Jim Bishop, Nathaniel Tarn and others.

Well, let's give it a try. Cheers from France. Klaus

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


Many thanks for the info, a ton of great poets in your catalogue, so let's get that link up again for readers:

Zeitgeist Press

Thanks for all the great work and your post.


Monsieur K. said...

Dear Don,

thanks to you for putting up the links. Cheers, Klaus