A Reading with Sesshu Foster and Cort Day
Please join us on Saturday, January 26th at 8pm for our first poetry/fiction reading of the year with Sesshu Foster and Cort Day. There’s not much more we can say about this event that the poems and man-slaying bunny below don’t already cover, so we’ll leave you with these to tempt you:
Not a Cloud in the Sky
Down to the rialto. Not a cloud in the sky.
Iâ€™m hosting a flashover, right here in my head.
Iâ€™m setting all the puppeteers to dancing.
And this time, thereâ€™s no current in my chair.
In the workshed Iâ€™m making a dead civilization.
The fibers full of volts–itâ€™s my best suit.
In my dreams I run from tree to tree.
All the gods on this plain are capacitors.
Iâ€™m taking Aesop as my nom de guerre.
I am telling the story. I am full of light.
from The Chime (Alice James Books, 2001)
when the officer of the state patrol asks you to
step out of the vehicle you translate this to mean,
I feel it, I too feel I must vomit
when the sergeant of the utah state patrol asks you
do you have any weapons on you? will you lift up
your sweater? you translate this to mean that even
out here on the steppes, our spirits are fried in
the grease of an automatic entropy—
when officer lilly of the beehive state says there
is a strong smell of alcohol, I’m going to search
your vehicle, you translate this to mean, I refuse
however to recall the frogs flattened on this
highway of a summer, I must live in this present.
when his backup arrives in the form of a
plainclothes officer in sunglasses and t-shirt and
they converse in whispers out of earshot, you
translate this to mean they do not wish you to hear
about the incident at last weekend’s departmental
when the cleft palate backup officer of the utah
state patrol takes you behind the patrol car and his
fellow officer takes your brother up the highway to
get the stories straight, you translate this to mean
it’s not so much we don’t trust you, it’s that
we no longer trust ourselves in a situation like
when the officer of the scar and the fuzzy stiff
upper lip behind sunglasses asks you where are you
coming from? you heading to moab? studying your face
fixedly as you reply, you translate this to mean I
myself would like a Budweiser as much as the next
man if only I were not somehow nailed to the mast of
this ship hurtling toward its doom—
and when you restate again that you came from
monument valley this morning and canyonlands this
afternoon, you really mean to say I am searching for
common terms here, something even you should
and when they search the vehicle, pulling out beer
cans from the camping gear and pouring empties onto
the tarmac, and you step forward to ask, what are
you looking for? and officer lilly puts a hand on
the butt of his pistol and says, get back over
there! what he really means to say is, I may not
know, but I sure as hell don’t have to admit that
on a public right of way!
and when the shorter scarred lip officer escorts you
back to the patrol car and stands immediately behind
you, and you do get a chance to ask him something
close to its own meaning, what is this about? he’s
already given up pretending to be the good cop; they
won’t be discussing anything further with you
after this point.
Cort Day is the author of one book of poems, The Chime, and is currently at work on a novel. He has taught writing at the New School and at Pratt Institute, in New York City. Now he lives in Los Angeles.
Sesshu Foster grew up here in City Terrace and is the author two books of poems (Angry Days and City Terrace Field Manual) in which our city features prominently in foreground, middleground and/or background. He is also the author of the lyrical/satirical/science fictionesque novel Atomik Aztek (City Lights, 2005), wherein Zenzontli, Keeper of the House of Darkness, in a contemporary Aztek empire (the Azteks having beaten Cortez and gone on to world domination), is tormented by nightmares in which he is trapped working in an East LA meatpacking plant. Sesshu has taught composition and literature in East L.A. for 20 years. He’s also taught writing at the University of Iowa and the University of California, Santa Cruz. His work has been published in The Oxford Anthology of Modern American Poetry and, recently, XCP: Streetnotes. One of his last readings at St. Mark’s Poetry Project NYC is Mp3 archived at www.salon.com. He is currently collaborating with artist Arturo Romo and other writers on the website, www.ELAguide.org. His most recent books are the novel Atomik Aztex and American Loneliness: Selected Poems (Beyond Baroque, 2006).