Charlie Burks.

When i wandered into the Seattle poetry scene 2,000 years ago, i ran into a few people who encouraged and inspired me. One was Charlie. Pablo Neruda wrote of one of his mentors, "For me, you turned language into a landslide of glass houses." for me, Charlie was more a firework explosion, and i witnessed the shards, each with its own vibrant color and trajectory, as they filled the room as he read. Who would have guessed that the line 'one smokes, the other doesn't ', could be so devastating?

We'd go for a beer and he would talk about films, music, painting. If you were really ready to learn, you would learn more from Charlie in five minutes than many others could 'teach' you in twenty years. I think that's what we mean by our 'personal heroes.' Charlie is still around. He's pretty house-bound these days, but we talk on the phone. He was the best possible audience. I remember him comenting on a poet he saw read: I think she's really starting to develop. Did you see when she was walking to the stage, and there was a chair in her way? Did you see the way she moved around it?

Here's a poem by Charlie. It's short so, like all beautiful things, its easy to rush past it.


Freud went to bed and had a dream.
In the dream, he was the other person.
Yielding was the art.

I can smell stale potato air and the kitchen is white and there is the flashing of steel knives steel knives in the air fish fish are pouring in and I open my mouth hundreds flood in until I'm choking and I spit some out the rest bash against my face then continue to flood past me the ship is lurching violently as if she was shaking it like a toy out the portholes I can see the enormous strands of her golden hair swaying in the water drifting like seaweed limousined binoculars fear restaurant kinetics in my jitterbugged face of stars we swirl self-help manual tryst of foolish galaxies on my back of sand I feel the footsteps of early man she breathes her warmth down upon me radiant heat that reaches the center of every grain of me I am the palm trees too, and this makes her jealous she would like one to be a parasol, to keep the moon's sadness at bay the purple waves are slowly becoming blue and the ship's deliverence majestic bellowing suicidal glory of being nothing more than we are



is the opposite of need
tomorrow replayed, by touching a baby's eyelash

a harp
is a way of measuring time

a wrinkle
is a sign that someone has been touched

is rising umbilical tenderness

to dig
is to open the grave of your father and watch him replace you

durritos are love-sausages -- a bowl of multi-colored shredded love-notes poured
over a laughing mouth

are dessicated swordfish in a box called Tinkerbell

is the regret of a judge at breakfast-time

a bra
is for homeless gerbils to sleep in. They also make excellent hair-ribbons

a fountain
is an outpouring of grief, of wonder, of milk-bottles, children can be collected from them

is a thumbnail

is a belgian waffle trapped in brazil

paper-clips are trying to eat their way out of prison

hiccups are bubbles of happiness in a bath-sized vagina

ladles are melting spoons people hit you with because they are unemployed

modesty is a clumsy virtue

eskimos are rampantly suicidal due to green lace on the moon

paper-clips are riding bicycles to avoid the sound of aircraft carriers in a box of chocolates

a glade is where goblins play chess in the warm evenings

ears are sliced off to prove happiness

a lemon left in the sun is famous for borrowing tulips to cover its private parts, which are stored in a bank in Oklahoma that Jesse James overlooked as a small child saying to his mother "My cookies have destroyed the bridge to the next century and now all I have is a horse-stirrup and 16 golden princesses will ride on my back forever."

subliminal is never having to say your brother's betrayed his indifference by a slight movement of his toothbrush yesterday while the flames around the house grew higher and the ice-cream crowd melted with delight to see your charred body still win the grand prix!

never is for always






Heaven last lisp elephant forgetfulness
slides into place
Born sideways born slippery
The dog-tired envelope of our tongues is
hunting down the fugitive of chandeliers shaped like bulldozers
I am empty
The turnip farm is furrowed, and the lights are on in the cabin
My mother lives here.
My clan is removing its skin.
The tulip is opening our legs.
Bishop-drunk, on sponge binoculars




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