Kamby Bolongo Mean River named one of 25 Important Books of the 2000s by HTML Giant

KBMR was named one of 25 Important Books of the decade by HTML Giant. And was a Page One selection of New & Noteworthy Books by Poets & Writers Magazine.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

No news today - Guest Post - Peter Markus

What a Bird Can’t Say

It happened when it happened.
It happened like this.
It happened near a church.
It happened on a Wednesday.
It did not happen in the morning.
It happened in the night.
Doesn’t it always happen in the night?
It did not happen in the day.
It did not happen in the daylight.
I am telling about what happened on the train.
I am writing this all down while sitting on the train.
I would say while riding on the train but when I say riding that makes me think of riding as in I am riding on a bike.
I am not riding on a bike.
I am sitting on a train.
I am writing on a train.
The sky outside is blue.
When what happened happened the sky outside and above us all was black.
It was not blue.
The sun it wasn’t shining.
Somewhere I am sure the sun was shining when what happened happened.
The sun is always somewhere shining when things happen like they did.
What happened happened on a night when the stars in the sky were shining bright.
Each star in the sky is a burning sun.
What happened did not happen in the sky.
But the sky that night was watching when what happened did.
A bird in the sky might have seen it happen.
But since birds can’t tell of what they’ve seen since birds can only sing, I am here to tell it.
To say what a bird can’t say.
It’s not what is said that’s important here.
What’s important is how I say what I saw when I say what happened did.
I saw what happened happen.
It happened in a town.
When I say it happened in a town what I mean to say is in a place that is smaller than a city.
Things like this, like what I saw happen, always seem to happen in the city.
Things like this, like what I say happened happened, don’t usually happen in towns.
At least not in a town like ours.
It’s time for me to come clean.
What happened happened when it happened like it did because of me.
What happened happened, is what I’m trying to say, because of what I didn’t do when I saw what I say did.
What happened happened because I was there.
I was there to say what I saw.
It’s not what I did but what I didn’t.
I was near the church when what happened did.
I was there that night, is what I am saying, when I saw what I’m saying about did.
Outside my window right now the world is passing by me fast.
There is a lake right now outside this window.
This window that is the train’s.
There is a factory right now outside this window that makes me think of the town where what happened happened did.
May this train on its track stay on its track.
I do not want to be derailed or to be run off of this track.
In our town there is only one side of the tracks.
There is the tracks in our town and then there is the river.
The church where what happened happened is somewhere in between.
The price of gas right now is a few cents shy of four dollars.
I remember when the price of gas was forty-seven cents a gallon.
When I was a kid, I used to think if I was the one selling the gas I’d sell it for fifteen cents a gallon so that cars would line up for miles to buy their gas from me.
This must’ve been back in like 1973.
I was like seven in 1973.
In 1973 the A’s of Oakland won the American League pennant.
Ten years later I could throw a baseball eighty-four miles an hour.
In 1984, a year later, my right shoulder made a sound that shoulders aren’t supposed to make.
It wasn’t so much a sound as it was a feeling.
I might have made the sound that it made up.
When I went with my shoulder to our town’s local doctor, this doctor said I should take up running track.
I ran myself away from this doctor and went down to the river.
If I said I know of a man who lives on the river, would you believe that this was true?
The back of the church where what happened happened looks out onto the river.
When a train runs through town and runs its whistle up against the sky the preacher in this church has to raise his voice up to be heard.
I like to sing nursery rhymes to myself when I am supposed to be sitting in church.
A rhyme is its own religion.
The smoke in the sky makes it hard for me to sometimes breathe.
When things burn, where does what they turn into go?
Smokestacks, when they raise up all rusty against the sky, they make the sky seem human.
Rust is both a color and a state of being.
There is a book that I know called On Being and Nothingness.
About this book I like its title but the words inside put me to sleep.
I sleep on the side and with the lights in the hall burning.
I am not afraid of the dark.
What I am afraid of at night is what I might see looking back out at me from inside of the dark.
It was dark out when it happened.
It was night.
It was night and the night is always dark.
When the sun at night sets like it does like it is doing outside right now the sky loses hold of its blueness.
What would happen if I’d just said right now that when the sun sets the sky loses hold of its balloon-ness?
What does a balloon lose hold of?
What a balloon loses is the breath that we blow up inside it.
When we blow out the candles on a birthday cake, we can’t forget to make a wish.
I wish right now I had a cake with candles on it for me to blow out.
The balloon I am picturing, it is always blue.
A balloon that is blue when it’s held up against the sky it’s hard to tell which is which.
The blue of the balloon, it blends in with the blue of the sky.
The balloon becomes the sky.
And the train conductor says what he says, what he says, what he says he says in a song.
I cannot say what was said on the train but I can beat time with my hand upon my head.
It takes some time for the sky to turn all dark.
It takes a while for the blue of the sky to give up the sky to black.
It takes some time too to set the record straight.
I am doing my best to do what I am doing, to say what I saw when what happened did.
Take your time, I keep telling myself, and the story of how so and what did will get told.
The night is not yet entirely dark.
Streetlights, traffic-lights, buoys on the river.
Each one does battle against the dark.
The church at night is as dark and quiet as a bible.
In the Bible it says, Let there be light.
But it also says that the darkness is what came first.
A fire burns bright in the back of the yard.
In the woods four boys with sticks raise their arms up against the dark.
The husk of an army tank sits rusting out in front of a house.
The church where what happened happened has a name.
The Rock of Christ on the River.
The preacher inside The Rock of Christ on the River is a man named Bob.
I once knew a man who lived out on the river in a boat and this man and his boat were both named Bob too.
In the woods behind the church as boys we used to build bonfires at night and piss out beer into the flames.
One night I believed the end was near.
We stepped out of our clothes in the starless dark and ran ourselves down to the river.
The sign at the edge of the river said, Do Not Swim and another sign said to us, Do Not Eat The Fish, but us boys we knew not to listen.
We swam out into the dark waters.
We found a fish washed up on the muddy shore and we stuck a stick up through its mouth until it came out the side of its belly.
We held this fish over the fire.
We held it like this, over the fire, until its tail curled and blackened and we knew it was ready for us to eat.
We ate the fish.
We took turns eating the fish.
I ate its eyes.
I ate its eyes so that I could better see.
So that I could see like a fish.
I shut my eyes.
I did not see.
I did not want to believe.

Peter Markus' newest book We Make Mud is out now from Dzanc Books.

Monday, September 19, 2011

No news today - Guest Post - John Dermot Woods

The main story is that I lost at tennis today, 6-1. The back pages would suggest it was unseasonably cool, and my experience would add that clouds covered what sun there was. That’s good weather for midday tennis in June. A 6-1 loss is less than ideal, and, frankly, not even competitive. A set like that isn’t worth much mention. The fact that gives a loss like that some kind of import is that it stands at the beginning of what I expect to be a regular summer regimen. This is a regimen that couldn’t have been predicted, based on the facts that I had assumed all NYC public courts were full as long as the sun is up (assuming that, especially in Brooklyn, irregular work and work schedules and a preponderance of academics such as me and my partner would keep them full regardless of the day), and that I didn’t realize I had a friend with a beard (not the kind you’re thinking of) one neighborhood over who was also interested in a regular tennis regimen and available weekday in the midday. Also, I didn’t have a racket. But a friend from Massachusetts visited last week and helped me find a serviceable one at a fair price at the local sporting goods store. A HEAD racket. The hope is to win one or two more games this week and soon take a set. The prudent choice would be to work on ground strokes before focusing on improving my abysmal first serve percentage.

When summer began my intention was to start surfing again. It’s been a decade since surfing or tennis. Skills atrophy over time so I expected I would resort to longboarding. It’s been cold in New York, trips to Long Beach have been delayed (and surfboards cost more than tennis rackets). Tennis is more than a substitute.

Another likely result of tennis is playwriting.

John Dermot Woods is the author of The Complete Collection of people, places & things. He has books forthcoming from Awesome Machine, Jaded Ibis, and Double Cross Presses. He edits Action, Yes and is a professor of English at Nassau Community College.

Monday, September 12, 2011

No news today - Guest Post - Andrea Kneeland

There is no news today. Were there news today, many people would be drinking and dancing in the streets. There are not many people drinking and dancing in the streets. The people I know are not the type of people that wait for news to dance and drink in the street. The people I know are drunk by 11 am on Monday. The people I know steal half-wasted party balloons from the stop sign on the corner and take them to a dive bar to barter for Stoli. The people I know dance on the bus. The people I know accidentally piss in a one-night-stand’s closet. The people I know break their phones on street corners. The people I know hitch rides from the Domino’s Pizza car so they won’t have to pay for a cab. The people I know wouldn’t know that there was news today, even if there was news today. The people I know will hear about the news a few days later and then maybe eventually watch a clip of it on YouTube after no one else cares anymore. The people I know will already be drunk and maybe crying when they watch the news clip anyway so whatever emotion they feel won’t be about the news since there is no news to begin with. The people I know fuck each other in bathroom stalls before realizing they have lost their keys. The people I know never find their way home. If there was news today, it would be about the people I know.

Andrea Kneeland's first collection, the Birds & the Beasts is forthcoming from Cow Heavy Press later this year. Work has most recently appeared in Vinyl Poetry, Barrelhouse, mud luscious press, FRiGG and NANO Fiction. She's also a web editor for Hobart.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

No news today - Guest Post - Amelia Gray

Sandy one-two, the floor's so dull it looks lined with feathers. It looks sandy like the beach. Is there anything as dull as determining the dullness of a floor? I've got a sinus pressure, my head is a shell. The sound of the ocean is inside. There's a throb of water between my ears. If it started leaking onto the floor, the water, there is nobody here who would be surprised. I'm saying, if there was anybody here, they would not be surprised. Nobody is here, I'm saying. Come over.

Amelia Gray is the author of AM/PM (Featherproof Books) and Museum of the Weird (FC2). Her first novel, THREATS, is due Winter 2012 from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

No news today - Guest Post - Gina Myers

Once, no news was good news & we enjoyed
our perpetual waiting. The longer we waited,
the better it was. Now, no news is bad news
& the only news we know. Like that month in college
where all I ate was ramen noodles & I was able
to whittle my intake down to two packages a day.
I remember reading a line in a poem that said something
about cleaning yesterday’s mistake from the stove
& underlining it—that seemed like news, the kind
of news you can free yourself from. Just wipe it clean.
The daily paper is gone & with it the comfort
of community notes & box scores. There have been no
engagements, no birth announcements, no weddings,
no deaths. The weather report no longer forecasts
the week, instead breaks down the past 24 hours
for those of us who remained indoors & forgot to look
out a window. My morning routine, obsolete.
The post-breakfast analysis coming at the top of the hour.

Gina Myers is the author of A Model Year (Coconut Books, 2009) and several chapbooks, including False Spring (forthcoming from Spooky Girlfriend). She lives in Atlanta, GA.