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New Poems: Poems from Air

Poems written in Myanmar in March 2019.

stumbling from one periphery to the next
I slipped and spread meat
it was meat and it was me across the floor

the light buzzed
the noises flushed into
the familiar haze flashed

it was the challenge of morning
sweet with dearth of life and of death
it continued with fragility

across rooms and halls
a dampening effect
dampening quintessential
collapse

stumbling from one peripheral to the next
I slipped and spread meat across the floor
the light buzzed
the noises flushed into the familiar haze
it was the challenge of the morning
sweet with dearth or scatter of life and of death
and it continued with fragility across rooms and halls
a dampening effect of the quintessential collapse

home where hearts bend
and break to grow

home where mice hide in the rain
and rats come eat the sweets
the rats the sighs of rooms rarely heard

home: I left the cherry blossoms
they bloomed like filthy children

home takes in the deep breath of yesterday
looks comatose
exquiz—
tinted blue
blue in memory can’t you tell

home where hearts bend and break to grow
where the mice hide in the rain
and the rats come eat the sweets

where the sighs of rooms are rarely heard
where I left the cherry blossoms bloomed like filthy children

home takes in the deep breath of yesterday
looks comatose and tinted blue in my memory

the screams and crackles and the shades of the present—
how they rumble like shadow quake and brittle skyscrapers—
how they reach us, slice off our tongues, set fire to our beds—
no more walls of the bedrooms—
intimacy floodlit with guillotine spark—
decapitated home of the decapitated—

screams and crackles and the shades of the present—
how they rumble like shadow quake and skyscraper brittling—
how they reach us, slice off our tongues, set fire to our beds—
no more walls of the bedrooms, intimacy floodlit with guillotine spark—
decapitated home / of the decapitated /

splits open the image

let the bastards come
let the twinklingly literate arrive
we are ready with our grunts and moans
we are ready to ejaculate and spasm

like spines diced to neural mush
we await letting out the long mouth of pause

this world in its infinite fireworks, channeled energy
broken windows and new gardens

train tracks and gory investments

the reflection on the screen and mutualism
dead and gone, spiritual quagmire

(and it can be discussed globally over the Pacific Island
and its kingdom of invisible plastics)

an aerodynamic thirst
splits open the image

let the bastards come
let the twinklingly literate arrive
social in media
we are ready with our grunts and moans
are ready to ejaculate and spasm
like a spine–diced to neural mush
we await and we are ready
we are letting out the long pause we who have mouths

this world in its infinite fireworks is dim

the root cause!
the channeled energy!

broken windows and new gardens
with views
train tracks and gored investments

memories of lots revisited
transport of bottles, bags, bins

the reflection on the screen mutual dead
the reflection on the screen mutual gone

hint of the spiritual

discussed globally over and over
Great Pacific Garbage Patch
kingdom of invisible plastics

quagmire rotten and sweet

Ellen and the convulsive heart
Let rip be rip and polish be polish

I dream of the expressions of joy
I dream of the resolute distancing

Fantasy and projection
of the long walk through warmth

If you could have it disturbingly clear
would you live dutifully and terrified?

The last bird I saw: either a crow or a chickadee
Some common creature flitting across a common scene

This realm really, really is the fullest sense
Bold and interrogative and bloodied with experience

Healed, bruised, unreleased to the currents of air
I dream of the expressions of concern

Drop me into thinking there is a reasonable explanation waiting for us
Allow me to hit my head, break my neck, and convulse freely
(And allow, please, to exist faded, like mist or breath)

For Ellen

Ellen and the convulsive heart
Let rip be rip and polish be polish

Dreams and expressions
Resolutions and distances
Fantasies and projections

The long walk to warmth

If you could have it disturbingly clear
would you live dutifully and terrified?

The last bird I saw: either a crow or a chickadee.
Some common creature
alive and flitting across a common scene.

This realm really, really is the fullest sense.
Bold and interrogative and bloodied with experience.

Healed, bruised, unreleased to the currents of air.
I dream of the expressions of concern.

Drop me into thinking there is a reasonable explanation waiting for us
Allow me to hit my head, break my neck, and convulse freely

(And allow, please, her to see, and to say her piece, her whole self,
and fade thoroughly, like mist or breath)

Homicidal or domicile within a tarnished translation
Domestic blues in the whip and whorl above the sea
Who wouldn’t be blue with the grand eloquent you?

You and you and you and you
A trumpet of rocket fire
Flare as face, facial nation
Skipping forward embracing feelings

I hold up my palm with the cut from the bowl
I remember the slash and the immediate shock
I think, therefore I am sitting here and writing thoughts

Dharma as blisters
Phalanx as workshop
Within the eye of an echo is the karmic release

homicidal and domicile
tarnished translation

domestic blues in the whip
in a whorl above the sea

who wouldn’t be blue
with the grand and eloquent
with the you and you and you and you?

You and you and you and you.

But the trumpet of rocket fire
Flared face
Facial nation

A skipping past the embrace

I hold up my palm with the cut from the bowl
I remember the slash and the immediate shock

I think therefore I am sitting here
I think therefore I am writing thoughts

Dharma as blisters
phalanx of pain as workshop

Within the eye of an echo is the karmic release
Within the slump and the trudge and the embrace of the laughing system

This weeping is of joy, not disappointment

And retroactive they could be watching from the curb
the dust collecting in the corners of their ancient eyes
The fullest sentiments of a modest Wednesday vision
Imaginative scolding of the scalding-hot conceptualism

Drinking the slurps of a poetry poised in a cup brimming poison
Purplish-rose tones rising to the lips of the weakened
It’s grave the gravely nature of those last lips of survival
Photographed before the decades-long smash in a single full moon

We and our resilience capsized by the weight and stalling
The dead stop is the stop of death and it’s placeless and warm
The specialists are returning with their urges toward upkeep
The grizzly, speckled ashes are pouring over the skull-shaped urns

Coffers are the fulcrum moving masses into the slay
An aftermath of ruinous lisps lingers like an aftersex or afterbirth

(after visiting Tacoma)

And retroactive they could be watching from the curb
The dust collecting in the corners of their ancient eyes
The fullest sentiments of a modest Wednesday vision
Imaginative scolding of the scalding hot conceptualism

Drinking the slurps of a poetry that’s poised in a cup brimming poison
Purplish rose tones rising to the lips of the weakened
It’s grave, this gravely nature of those last lips of survival
Photographed before the decades long smash in a single full moon

We and our resilience capsized by the weight and stalling
The dead stop is the stop of death and it’s placeless and warm
The specialists are returning with their urges toward upkeep
The grizzly, speckled ashes are pouring over the skull-shaped urns.

Coffers are the fulcrum moving masses into the slay.
An aftermath of ruinous lisps lingers like an aftersex or afterbirth.

(Yangon, day 2)

upkeep. clandestine. the whirlpool. the fanblade. the festivities. the chants. the sirens. the caws. the ambient buzz. the reclining ignorance. the best foot forward. the champions. the realities. the furthest. the photobombs. the incorrections. the misperceptions. the masses. the proclivities. the belting out. the bulging in. the foray into time. the chiseled grin. the phallic gold. the rosy intonation. the spirit. the stunts. the trespass. the complacency. the waiting. the movement. the race toward a single emerging experience.

The dust settles like ink
Therein lies the problem:
more ink than I know what to do—
the interruptions are like radiation.

They settle. We get used to the poison.
Come to expect it.
Prose minded. Swinging across lanes.
The changing of the guard of the path.

Lights on or off with the motorbike customs.
Come to expect it.
A long way from home at Mt. Popa.
A long way from home at the banks of the Irrawaddy.

Steel Fighter adornment on the side of a truck.
They know what they’re saying, we just find it funny.
At what intersection between time and place,
between birth and death,
between the act of creation
and the creation.

Explosive. Plosive.
The long walk home is drifting in and out of—
Remembering Libby on a road trip.
But here with the sleepy dogs, cats, lizards, birds, etc—
here with the monkeys, cows, goats, horses, etc—
here with the clamor of footsteps (pilgrimage)
and the blast of fallen rocks (or coconut husks)—
damn the monkeys and our reliance on them.

We as audience and we as sellers.
Me and my own unmystical definition.
Where capitalism and mysticism meet
there is a finely-grained instance of expectation.

The fan blades thicken and the stomach loosens.
The motor of the bike grows closer even to this very spot.

Fallen.

I have eaten the goodness of the vegetarian
and am currently digesting,
thinking about war, independence, the fundamental will towards liberty—
is that what this visit, in all its luxury, affords?

A visitation of the random acts of sentiment.
Enticing acts of glass splinters of vision.
Exposed roots within the panatha-leaking rouge.
Melancholy of the poor with their outstretched arms.
A void in place of indecision and inward sludge.
Laziness is godlessness to some.

In sum:
a tract of lessons that can be foraged and before that be forgotten.
The spirit of Bagan and its ancestral quadrangle of pagodas.
The leniency of my own swiftly-blistered ambitions.
Thorough acts of gaudiness with windows open and moans invisible, muted.

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New Release and eBook: Like salt. Like a spine.

Book cover of Like salt. Like a spine. by Maung Day and Greg Bem.

Update: this title is now available as an eBook through Amazon.com.

Newly released. Limited run of chapbook Like salt. Like a spine. Handmade in Seattle. Created for release in Yangon, Myanmar in March 2019. Featuring poetry by Maung Day and myself. Translated between Burmese and English. Email me if you’d like to request a copy or have comments. Digital edition may be forthcoming (still undetermined).

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New Video: Poetry Reading at Myanm/art in Yangon

On 4/24/19, poets and artists gathered to read poems at the Myanm/art Gallery’s last event. This event was in conjunction of the release of the poetry chapbook Like salt. Like a spine. (An eBook version of this text is forthcoming.) The video recordings are here. As is an audio recording version via YouTube. The reader list is as follows:

The list of the poets in order: Greg Bem with Maung Day, Maung Yu Pie, Moe Way with Susan Gray, Saung Win Hlaing, Susan Gray, Soe Lu Htet, Nay A Di, Lwan Tay Cho, and A-Whee.

Many thanks to Myanmar poet and translator Maung Day for translating my own works, and emceeing the evening.