July 31, 2012


Nothing but turmoil down on the grid.
Squares fiddle against squares whilst universal circles don’t bother to care less.
We grind in swollen counties asking the skies for help. They listen, but on their own
terms. Gunned down in movie theatre, I feel remnants of your pain Aurora. The hurt
more foreign than anything I could imagine, but as human to human, I hurt. Horror
appears like a ghost witnessed in real time. Firearms easier than fireworks through
the right channels so sliver of solution seems straight-forward, but politicians
balk at redrafting age-old gun law. Shame not visible in TV interview, but maybe somewhere
in the lonely bathwater night. Not right, not right.

Forced to consume another front-page atrocity, pundits dissecting
attacking every morsel of info. What’s the lesson this time?   What signs are we missing?
Are we really unfolding at the mercy of deranged lunatics?    Questions
fall infinitely in space.
Scared to pace the aisles of big box retailer; scared at the flight length from Boston to LA; scared of the city streets that make up a neighborhood, an American neighborhood. WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE UNION?! Enemy always listless. A super-morphing tidal wave of inconsistencies. Trust
nobody, now. Now the construction of walls in impossible locales. Now the bending of might. Now come the tunnels lacking final spots of light which we run through in human clusters.

Eyes of Heaven watch
these re-runs and they
even have the strength to yawn. But,
we’re going bald with each new catastrophic event.
Fucked up. Lumps pump up
from our scalps each time
these question marks of
corroded steel fall onto

July 16, 2012


Grappling with the Loss of Mother Nash

There were fireworks—yeah—they were going off.
“Lakers.” was all a text read sent from a friend in Arizona. In my absinthian July Fourth haze a few squabbles of information loosely gelled together. Free Agency had begun in the NBA and Steve Nash was at the top of everyone's wish list. A final tug of realization stitched them together as my computer turned on and flashed Espn.com showing Nash with purple and gold behind his grinning mug. Never in my young life have I felt such shock—a shock that diminished reality and turned everything one-dimensional. Nothing about the moment was real and it still haunts me when I see “Nash” and “L.A.” in the same piece. But writing is healing, God let it be so, writing is healing.
The two-time MVP put it succinctly: "Everybody knows there's no loyalty in sports." And if anybody in all of sports were to finally burn a period into the end of that sentence, it would be Mr. Loyalty himself after signing with one of Phoenix's longtime rivals. You're right, Mr. Nash, there really is no loyalty in sports, but as I watched Lebron James leave his hometown for Miami, then Carmelo Anthony demand a trade from Denver, then Deron Williams demand a trade from Utah, this year it’s Dwight Howard’s turn, I held out hope that MVSteve wouldn’t be the next domino to fall. Ray Allen skipped to Miami farting green the whole way, then Nash took the 10 West through scorched earth to his new residence. Oh, but it did happen. The air has left the lungs of amity leaving them deflated like two-week old party balloons. Yeah, nothing is cherished and who cares.
Get over it. I know. I’m trying. Undoubtedly, Nash will be a perfect fit in Los Angeles. He’ll never have to dribble over the three-point line if he doesn’t want to. Between Kobe, Pau, and Bynum he’ll have plenty of exit passes to take. They’ve easily wiggled into the top three of the West. It’s troubling, though, that I won’t be rooting for him, for to do that is to root for the enemy. Sorry, brother, but you’re not wearing my colors. Only in retrospect, maybe ten years after, will it be sensible to celebrate World Champion Steve Nash, because hoping for positive things in Lakerland just is not in the DNA of any Suns fan.
The post-Nash era in Phoenix has already had a few burps and snaps. Eric Gordon, for a moment, made everything feel okay. A decent consolation prize, but the New Orleans Hornets matched the Suns’ offer. We lassoed Goran Dragic back from Houston, stringing his teammate, Luis Scola, along in an amnesty victory and added Michael Beasley from Minnesota. A decent core is developing and Sarver’s got some money packed tightly into his back pocket. Let’s see what roster Phoenix ends up with and hope nobody comes in wearing number 13. We had Nash for eight straight years. By the rules of heartbreak, that means it’s going to take four years to get over this. To be continued…

July 15, 2012

Scout Profile//Ian Thal

Poet Ian Thal interviewed on Kosovar TV.  Photo by Yvan Tetelbom.
Poet in

SOMERVILLE//Ian Thal is big in Kosovo. The Somerville-based writer, mime, performance artist recently returned to the U.S. after reading at the Drini Poetik International Poetry Festival in Prizren. For one solid week in June Thal stormed Kosovo reading poems, checking sites of battle, getting a tan, swigging espresso and even stopping to shake hands with the prime minister. “Then I come back here and I’m essentially a nobody,” Thal said, his voice echoing in the back bank vault of Bloc 11 (11 Bow St.). “Some people say how grandeur is fleeting.”
            Thal conducts workshops in mime and commedia dell’arte for Somerville’s annual summer program, Open Air Circus, “when I’m not writing poetry and such,” he said. He’s taught for the organization since 2005 and moved to the city the following year. He is originally from Washington D.C. When speaking about the trip his eyes fill with wonder, but his vocal inflections try to play it down. Clearly the experience left an imprint on him as he walked me, photo by photo, through his spectacular journey.
            The reading gig came to Thal as a matter of connecting the dots. An Albanian-born playwright friend of his, Lediana Stillo, still connected to the area’s literary community, had been asked to dig up some contemporary American poetry for an anthology. She looked to Thal. He sent some poems; Stillo translated them into Albanian. His work appears alongside the work of other poets from around the country, including Chad Parenteau, of Jamaica Plain, and David Brinks, of New Orleans.
The volume, titled, Sounds of Wind: New American Lyrics, will be used as a textbook for advanced students of English at the University of Pristina. “It’s pretty exciting to realize that,” Thal said of the honor. “I can imagine late-night dorm room sessions.” His face torts into an angry grimace and his voice mimics a perturbed college kid, “’I hate Thal! What’s the obsession with the trains?’” Just as we study Frost, Ginsberg and Poe, students in Kosovo’s capital, Pristina, will study Thal. A twinkle spurns off the ball of his eye when the thought rises in his mind.
            The festival was held in the historical town of Prizren with some 178,000 inhabitants. “Soon after arriving I realized this was a cultural diplomacy mission,” he said. The festival coincided with Kosovo’s centenary celebration of their independence from Albanian nationalists. The country’s rough-and-tumble history stretches back into the Middle Ages and the Ottoman Empire. It was only declared an independent state in 2008. “I was like the U.S. ambassador there,” he said.
            Four other speakers, including Stillo and Brinks, joined Thal for a romp around the country, visiting the capital, checking out the Writer’s Union library and taking part in the common occurrence of coffee in a cafĂ©. They traveled with the intelligentsia. “There was no one language all five of us spoke,” he said, “but somehow we made it all work.”
            Thal described his own poetry as a scenic route: New England landscapes passing through Amtrak windows; the view from a rooftop on Beacon Hill; the lowlands of New Jersey. He has worked with Bread & Puppet Theatre and maintains a blog where his writing piles. See him at this summer’s Open Air Circus.