January 25-31, 1999: Larry Griffin and Daniel McGinn

Week of January 25-January 31, 1999

Larry Griffin and Daniel McGinn

Larry Griffin


Larry D Griffin was born, reared, and educated in Oklahoma He lived for sixteen years in the deserts of West Texas Presently he serves as Professor of English and Dean of Arts and Sciences at Dyersburg State Community College, Dyersburg, WEST Tennessee He has published more than one hundred eighty poems in regional,  national, and international journals and little magazines His books of poetry include New Fires (Full Count, 1982), The Blue Water Tower (Poetry Around, 1984), and Airspace (Slough Press,  1989) Seventeen of his short stories appear in his collection A Gathering of Samphire and Other Stories (1990).

The following work is Copyright © 1999, and owned by Larry Griffin and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

A Godforsaken Place

I see the place now deserted though
old rusty pickups before a few yellow
stamped pseudo-brick tar paper houses
betray the inevitable possibility of true
inhabitants (some refusing to give up
after He had) Had I known He’d not
be here, would I have dared to come?

I smell this ejido, these streets, those weeds
growing wild in the wide pavement cracks,
and I hear tin rattling loose in the panhandle
wind from that over-there-what’s-left-of-a-barn
His not being here, having forsaken it,
I take heart in His having made it all;
I rejoice and am glad of its potential possibilities,
its hopeful emptiness awaiting the spirit’s fulfillment.

The Nudes of Aurora

At dawn the nudes of now-fading night
turn into the trees that imprison them in light Quick in the mirror! before it disappears, do
you not see the selected reflection of breasts?

What hand has placed it here above the stair
well, and had I followed the tortuous lines
in the arches of the argued aqueduct
that closes the distance of this close court
yard, would I too have put fully forth
my hand, studied its firm warm veins,
and moved it slowly in and out of the cold
shadow of this my own purposeful body?

Future Fish

All finally fractures the future of fish
until the patched eye becomes monocled
and stares forever at a fading, departing
back, perhaps a woman’s or balding muse’s
Nose, ears, and lips suggest the sense of shaking
past the pejorative of memory, the betrayal of
the pattern never shown in the coat, the indices
of lines crossed to form the hook for which
by instinct the fish’s mouth always opens,
swallows, hardly knowing then the desire of taste,
with the urgency that once caught, the future comes.

Daniel McGinn


I haunt Laguna Beach but I live in Fullerton California with my wife and two sons I have read and performed at most of the major venues in Southern California and was a member of the 1996 Los Angeles National Slam Team My work can be seen in many publications,  including Spillway, Freedom isn’t Free, 51%, Talus and Scree,  FTS, The 1998 Poetry Calendar, the 1998 Valley Contemporary Poetry Anthology and back-issues of Next Magazine I am the author of five chapbooks of poetry, including “Radio Cats” with co/author Michael Paul The OC Weekly Newspaper picked my most recent chapbook “Wall” as the “best chapbook about Orange County” for 1998 I,  like many of us, am my own Orange County I steal what I can.

The following work is Copyright © 1999, and owned by Daniel McGinn and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

.for Brendan Constantine

the world is shrink
wrapping over your leftovers
we work for food

these are radioactive times
do your homework

coconuts have hair
divide them in two
they sound
like horses hooves

connect them with kite string
maybe we can communicate

with the world
as we know it

the president knows
the world

is coming
to an end

the president perspires
he stares at the red lobster
ringing on his desk

why worry
about the national debt?

Amateur Surrealist Descending a Staircase

step 1

The earth around the feet of the bus bench is turning round, soft,  pink
and texas grapefruit round, 
where the amateur surrealist sits under the tulip moon
waiting for some inspiration to arrive
He cannot afford a car

A bird leg disguises itself as a tree, 
hides behind the bench, its bumpity trunk stands erect, 
hollow bones overshadowed by feathery leaves
that chirp and coo and gather together
like thousands of shoppers that drift and twirl
in a descending
They stick to the mulky pulp like bad betting slips

Meanwhile, a happy claw grip
is hammering down roots
into the mushy prey
of a dying grapefruit It stinks
The amateur surrealist notices the smell, feels fowl wind breathing
up and down his neck, his throat is scratching like a chicken, 
he keeps checking his watch for ants, his face is not melting He looks up and down the street His persistent tongue is hanging out
of his shoes His feet indignant now, and thirsty
His laces passionately unraveling, coupling and uncoupling, 
twitching like cheap rubbery worms He writes these words
and they taste like chicken

The earth is not a fish and the birds are not so easily fooled

It rhymes

step 2

They come back again
Painting the crimson town
with violets and clouds, filling the sonic sky
with their scarlet

The amateur surrealist is up in arms
standing at the cross roads He shouts demands
at all of them, shaking his fist, his starved wrist bones pop, 
his fingernails laugh at him, rattle like tambourines, 
his hands shake the snakes from the ivory wind, 
his eyes crack open like egg shells, yolk dripping down
filling the dark pores inside his eyes, his face burning
from stars washed down his face every night, 
washed down with wine under the bridge every night, 

every night so chilly for the amateur surrealist
even the wind whistling through his teeth burns

step 3

The amateur surrealist gritted his teeth, gritted his teeth
until his teeth were spider webs
as he pushed away a small cry
away from himself It was not his cry
and he pushed it back out of his inner ear
with a pop into the pink it skittered off like a sea horse
in a bubble and spray of sky
It was a small


but a cry with a mouth of it’s own

blushing across the cheek like the tingle that follows
the slap Close the lids of your eyes
and you will see in the dark chocolate
how the mind draws everything back
into the ears Sounds spin
like cotton candy voices swim
like sperm
in the ear canal where all thought breaks down
into waves

This is the tunnel
where the amateur surrealist was hard at work
pushing a sound with tiny hands
out of his inner ear, loosing a cry
suddenly unleashed like a gold cross
suddenly unclasped from its chain, 
arms extended eternal 3:15, the sky
turning away, turning like an analog clock, 
a diver rising up from the pool, 
the earth reaching up slapping his face, 
filling his fists with dust

step 4

There is a woman in the window where the glass is always warm
The amateur surrealist, he comes to her again, 
he comes to her for clarity, 
he comes and he comes unattached
from himself A translucent Harpo, 
mirroring the faint smile, mimicking his hesitant
steps, the baggy pants, the lumpy coat, 
the upturned collar, the bee clinging stubbornly
to the black of his sleeve

And her, so cold, so aloof, calm, frozen, balanced
between the ball of her right
step and the turn of her left
toe, detached as a birds egg, fragile
as a small planet, so complex and beautiful Her skin
so smooth, the tilt of her head, her face like an angel
The amateur surrealist is held sweetly in time
surrounded by banquet table blues overflowing
with white carnations

This is how it feels This is how it feels
He touches and he touches, brings his hand to the table, 
warm and smooth as glass, again he comes to her
She hardly notices the amateur surrealist watching over her
And the woman in the window is not moved
step 5

Dissatisfied, under the black light, 
the amateur surrealist shuffles silently to the confessional
It is dark and his molars glow He’s got his back up now
His molars grow He looses his tongue like a tortured finger, 
pointing it at his poor nameless mother, still bottle-feeding
the back of his mind The interior of his mouth is milky, drab
and sparsely furnished This is no place to live
His thorny tonsils hang sharply like mistletoe, 
all cubist angles and absurd There is a priest in this picture
There is the back of his head He does not communicate
He is wrestling, restless with words, unable to speak anything
but meaning, he is a nice man, unable to define anybody’s sin, 
knowing nothing but his own, he speaks not a word
but in sentences He rattles his cup on the bars
He cries for water
for forty days and forty nights
No tears come No one is holding him
For the amateur surrealist, this is the dry season
step 6

The inconspicuous ink
stain crept quietly unnoticed from the wrong side of his shirt pocket
There was a shadow on a street where the sun shone smartly, 
worthless and shiny like a bright copper penny
dropping down a hole in the trouser pocket
into the dark night of the sole of the amateur surrealist’s shoe, 
the sole that separated the surrealist
from the shadow on the earth, the shadow that began to leak
like a dark cloud
turning into a hand, 
turning into a rabbit from the hat, 
turning a lily into a fist

The amateur surrealist can feel the shadow watching, listening
to his every last word, like a policeman, 
like a therapist, the shadow sees every crack
in the sidewalk, the shadow sees the sun burning
a hole in his shoe, the shadow spreads like an ink stain, 
the shadow hovers over him like a net ascending, 
the shadow is jam packed with dark fish flapping, 
the shadow is full of fins and pin prick teeth and smiling
night dreams and mouths full of scales and blood

The shadow spills across the sidewalk, fish
skipping over hopscotch chalk, the shadow multiplies
into enough screams to fill a multitude
The shadow sees every sparrow that hits the dirt
and all the hairs and all the lice of his days
are numbered like wrists, like badges,
like smoke, like flames

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