Sunday, June 28, 2009

Dawn I heard a rag rip

Greg Hall died. He was a good friend and a great poet. It drove me crazy to see him just throw away garbage bags full of his own fantastic poetry. He could shed it as easy as he could shed another "residential hotel" style apartment or an old self. Greg understood ephemera. We're always losing things. leaving the world behind with everything we do. I keep crying to think he's not still seeing and writing and losing - losing so intensely - and leaving things behind. Now he's left for good.

Sometimes he'd send me a pile of poems instead of throwing them away. I know Robert Pesich must have some, and Walter Martin, and F.A. Nettelbeck and certainly Bea Garth has got to have a ton.

Bitter, funny, sweet, profound, never boring or pretentious, slouching around chain smoking in his cowboy boots. He could swoop into cliche or pop culture or insanity and come out of that nosedive firing anti-bullshit bullets to blow your head off. Weird staccato heartfelt delivery full of line "breaks and "quote" "marks". I will miss his strange late night drunken phone calls. The man could drunk dial you a poem or just ramble endlessly about Genet or Merle Haggard. Whatever it was would make me feel like I was flying, and could say anything, as a poet and madwoman, and it would be heard & understood. You know that feeling sometimes, with a person, when the things you might write in your most private soul broken-languagely, becoming text, just connected right in; talking to him opened that up direct to conversation. There wasn't even any leaping to it, Greg was on that rocketship to fucking mars.

Greg reading Van Gogh Ambulance at a Barbershop late night living room Non-Salon, 2004.

Greg reading Chicken Little Shark Sky maybe around 2005?

Greg reading Pirate Ship 2005


some poems from Eos


CHICKEN LITTLE SHARK SKY
One by one
the parts of a body
arrive & attach
themselves
& flight
becomes more difficult
barely escaping
collision with chimneys
I sweep
through the air
with great effort
they are sharks
the left leg
the left foot
the wrists the hands
the neck the head
"I felt a great heaviness
in the water & everything
became silent"
then I was lifted
only to be
swept down
all the while
caught in a vise
"I felt no pain"
all I saw
was the eye
it seemed flat
& dead
& then the
water
turned
red
this is
getting
old
now the doctors
with aspirins like frisbees
& tubes & wires
& admonishments
every time
I light a smoke
I felt better
when I had
no body
& all I did
was fly
blind
& ecstatic
into
the
present
without
regret
or remorse
I recommend
to the young
not to age
& to fly fast
because
the sky
is
falling



Greg's "Explanatory Notes to Poems" doodle of his attitude towards literary criticism. Funny!!!
Explanatory Notes to Poems


Just about 2 poems a year...

So here, by the grace of Liz Henry, arrives an
unobtrusive collection of 23 poems by the
troublesome trouble man, that restless and sleepy
man, the elusive Greg Hall.

These poems, spanning 12 years, intruded
themselves as others faded, the stack was about a
foot high and these fugitives from the
crumpling fist somehow charmed, each in their
own way, the madman, who, although having
written them, longed to find no value in them,
or to find them fatally marred – Anything to
allow an exit “towards oblivion”, as Genet once told
an interviewer, when asked, “Where do you think
you’re headed?”

Oblivion will take care of everyone – Though
perhaps that is better left unsaid. I’m only here
because this place, this planet, this hour, is
beautiful.

“Only in it for the poetry.”

I sincerely hope you find something to like in
these pages.

and if you don’t, or can’t, or won’t,
at least I died
with a sword in my hand.

Greg Hall
March 20, 2002



Self portrait doodle by Greg. You can see the shark from Chicken Little Shark sky (and other poems) and "The Man With the Hoe" (from the poem by Markham) in the background.
Greg's self portrait with shark and hoe

NO CHARGE


In my chubby
checker
existence
I go around
with pliers
in one hand
and a hammer
in the other
looking
for yr mother
so I can help
you out
I will twist
her thoughts so
you can find
a woman
who is not
crazy
with no screws
loose
then you
can
celebrate
the
birthday
of
yr
balls

(This poem especially hilarious out loud. It was in Cuts from the Barbershop)


I have Flame People as many people do & treasure; the poems from Inamorata, which I printed up into a sea-like little book with foam colored inside leaves; the manuscript of Whoregasm which I was going to publish with yellow legal pad paper marked up by cigarette burns and coffee mug rings and poem scribblings; Diary of a Desert Fox, and some other packets around here somewhere. Plus some recordings some of poems and some of Robert and me and Janel and mostly Greg, just rambling. But how much is out there? I wish I could read it. But more than that I'll miss his out loud readings and his beautiful conversation and his bad ass, innocent, bad attitude.



THE MAGIC OF FOREVER

In the white morning light

everything was waiting.

Even the trees

in vibrant state of tension

seemed to be holding

a breath inside.

An implied cry

such as a crow’s

concealed itself

among the green leaves.

And though it is

late in the year

later in the year

than I have ever been

I too was waiting.

And now the Moon

faded in the sky

appearing as a Goddess.

And now the wind

orchestrating the trees.

And now the cries

the crows in the leaves.

And now the flood

the remembrances of you.

And now everything is moving

and now nothing is waiting.

And because I myself am lost

nothing can be lost

because everything

is lost.




(from Inamorata, dedicated to Abby Niebaur)


That little book, so amazing, what other great books of his, one-offs, or the product of the culling out process of several years, are out there?

I'd send him poems and he'd be all like WHERE DID THAT COME FROM and I'd be like WTF MAN, out of my BRAIN what do you think? and he'd be like WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THAT and I'd be like well what about you man, what are you doing, can you just like, send that shit to people to keep for you instead of throwing it away?!

We lost touch the last few years. I've missed him. Now I really miss him. He meant so much to me. It's fucking unfair. I know how he'd be about it but it's not fucking fair.

Greg Hall




A player piano
on slack key strings
called to tell me

"I can't rest or sleep
until I know
you've found your place."

Toothache - telephone -

"I used to have
this pain. My tongue
feels for it in the empty space."

Oldwood sounding box
sweet
on the hollowphone

"Even as we speak
people we could have loved
die in their beds."

Halt sway & slur worn-down cylinders
the turned up shirtsleeves of the player-mad ghost,
his lost gloves & blind fingers
lost generation



and



Rocinante


disconnected

like him
you clutched your wrecked folder of printouts
like a derelict with a bottle of fire in brown paper
lurched about the room shy and a bit vacant,
your lifeline -


I can follow you a little ways now into the dark.

Rambling to the bus station with my bag of books.
Goodbye arthritic knees, goodbye neurotic carousel,

my mind freed to lightspeed floating in your words
your halting voice
I hear another voice

Struck, stunned, to follow your lightning words up into the dark
your soul in the stars
flying
lost the sense
the stammering gaps,
the truth in the joke,
the little squares below waiting for my patient hand –

An artist

in

the family –

like


like

immortality.

Did you stop there underwater, waiting for a tug on the line?
The slow bubbles in the blood, clots in the brain, shocks near to death.
The anguished rope of vision
the damage done to us

Faithless Rocinante how could you leave your master here like this?

like

my father, my father's father,
I fall from you like a plane in a tailspin, forgive me –
driving too fast down the highway with poetry in my lap
damaged
elementary particle I have seen photos of your tracks in cloud chambers

like

a crazy prince,
how cruel the world is!
How cruel the world’s beauty.
Old loon,
crying, haunted cracked vessel,

I follow your lightning words up into the dark beyond the thunderclouds
that cotton wool, that thick white, up to the clear night sky and the electric stars

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7 comments:

F. A. Nettelbeck said...

Yes, REALLY fucked up... hey Liz. There will be a "Poets' Tribute" for Greg on July 19th in San Jose, time and place TBA. Check out the obit on my blog. Here's to that crazy fucker, and, love to you.

Liz said...

Yes I read your obit in fact I linked to it up there in that rambling tribute. I'll be at the July 19th thing whatever it turns out to be.

enjoy the recordings - I have more of them and will upload them soon...

Liz said...

And while I'm at it you know I love you too right? your audacious poems and your devotion to ephemera... THIS IS IMPORTANT... etc Have given me heart as a poet at unexpected times.

Bea Garth said...

Hi Liz--this is great!
Bea

Bea Garth said...

Of course it makes me miss the big guy even more. This last week has been really rough...

Craig Rosa said...

Great tribute. Such a loss. Like so many others, I will forever be in your debt for introducing me to Greg Hall's writing.

Liz said...

Here's a link to the full text of Inamorata:

http://bookmaniac.org/stuff/books/greghall-inamorata-layout2.rtf

And Cuts from the Barbershop (the text) is available in PDF here:

http://bookmaniac.org/writing/cuts-from-the-barbershop.pdf