No justice, no poets. Know one here but just us…

…poets?  Seriously?  Dead as dinosaurs, aren’t they?

I am one lucky sumbitch in nearly every definable way. Like many of us — maybe most? — I ignore most of the blessings cosseting my life, soft as cottonwood blossoms, fragrant as lilacs (“pull it out — it’s a damned weed”), warm as desert sand just at dusk.

I automatically minimize my blessings and advantages because I’m a shameless sandbagger. I want everyone around me to know just how hard a row I hoe. Otherwise, y’all may fail to give me full credit for my strait and effortful path, for my occasional forays into authentically fullhearted endeavor (for these missions, I generously award myself full points, because after all someone certainly ought to), and expect more.

Being a lazy-natured fella, I prefer to leave plenty of slack in the system and, in John Mayer’s words, “wait on Fate to send a sign.

“Who says I can’t take time?”

Not everybody does this. There are those among us (“they walk around, just like you and me”) who take the evanescent glimmer of sweet time left to them and form it into something beautiful, lasting . . . even profound. Dunno about you, but I look at such people in awe and wonder at their discipline. What gives them the mortal insight to hoe their particular row with a vengeance, right now while the sun shines, instead of just heading for the beach with a cooler full of beer or checking their spambox for a few more hours?

It’s a puzzler. A head-scratcher. And frankly beyond my ken. Still, one of my blessings is being lucky enough to know such people. One of them has a new book out, a collection of poetry that’s full of sneaky surprises.

Sean Brendan-Brown is a man’s man in the traditional sense of owning a good and useless hunting dog, a well-oiled weapon or two and a commendable set of tools, and of being kept by a fine and pretty wife. Moreover, he’s a poet’s poet in the non-traditional sense of reveling in glorious perversions of language to show the numinous among the mundane, the G-D of gritty sewers and blood, angelic whores screwing Life back together. His work reads the way Bukowski might have read, had someone freak-upgraded him with a pulsing additional vocabulary lobe grafted to his knobby forebrain. And had Buk been a decorated Marine, lauded college instructor and two-time NEA fellow.

Poetry, like buggy whips, hasn’t really died out per prediction but transmogrified into a product reserved unto a tiny and discerning market. Sean’s book likely won’t find a market in the harness racing subculture and perhaps not among other recreational lashing aficionados, but I hope his descriptions of life in this burning, moldering West find a home in the ears and minds of some of those ferally shy cognoscenti of wordcraft that is, to say the least, unprosaic.

I recommend Sean’s book not just ’cause I love the guy — he’s an old friend, and a great one — but because you’ll love the work. It’s microcosmic in scale, granular in detail, epic in impact.

It’s also the first title branded by Litsam Press, a joint e-publishing project between my geeky wife and me. So (WARNING! FULL DISCLOSURE AHEAD!), should you elect to download a copy of The West is a Golden Paradise to your Kindle, we will admittedly split almost a dollar with Sean. Amazon will take the rest of the money and use it to battle Facebook and Google for source code to the copyright on your e-soul.  They’re pimping us all, because if you can’t pimp your users…

We plan to make it available on other e-platforms, as well as produce a POD (“Print On Demand”) version that can be bound and sold over the counter at your local Third Place Books or Barnes & Noble for traditional literary relaxation in the tub (by all means, leave a comment below if you have a format preference).

In other words, we’re pimping a poet, because if you can’t pimp your friends…

Nobody expects to make a pile on poetry. Poets — with their beady-eyed squint at the dusty, abandoned corners of society’s soul — are largely ignored in our Costco conehead (“consume mass quantities!”) world. And because of that, they’re usually paid in copies. Like two or three copies.

We selected Sean’s manuscript for Litsam’s first imprint because we want to be responsible for pushing a little quality into this diminished world we all share. And because he’s a friend, whom we would like to see paid in actual dollars once in a while. And because — Litsam imprint or not — his work is of significant, even historic, quality. With his writer’s eye polarized and didymium-coated, Sean sees what’s burning away at the coronal edge of  history’s event horizon, and preserves it ambered in syllables of quiet grace.

Here’s Sean take on all-day breakfast in a Burlington cafe:

Last Station

The Cinder Bed Café
feeds the old Burlington retirees
ham & pea soup, cornbread
and sourdough biscuits; real
butter, never margarine, 4-alarm
all-beef chili & Zesta crackers:

they roll cigarettes, or fix
store-boughts by pinching off filters,
click yellow nails on Formica,
dribble bourbon from hip flasks
into bitumen coffee.

It’s a sexless state—one
door marked restroom—when a
woman goes someone sentries
as she cleans the seat with KFC
hand wipes stored in a Folgers
can by old Doreen, who owns
the Cinder Bed.

They speak of Palouse, Ogeechee,
Claylock—creeks once solid with steelhead
now hectares of stripmall—bid goodnight,
gather next morning; sunbeam dust motes
unbroken slow-motion floating. The old
Burlington men tap blue plates daisied
with fried eggs.

There’s a girl they love; some trucker
dropped her off. They light her cigarettes,
bob their heads sleeping sitting. She sips
their whisky coffee, breath fogging chipped
ceramic rims; they could do worse: crinoline
doll’s hair, eyes the off-green of plantain—
she’s the pack-animal of their dreams.

Reading the rest of West costs $2.99. That’s about half the cost of a glossy, tree-squandering People or Cosmo off the supermarket rack. Although, on reflection, it may be that poetry readers won’t get that reference at all.

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  1. Much prefer dead tree version as I’m allergic to Amazon… and I like kicking 3PB some of my semolians as well.

  2. Workin’ on it, Glenn. Watch this space, etc.

  3. maryellen read says

    I would like the dead tree version of _The West is a Golden Paradise_ How do i get it?
    Just discovered SBB wonderful. Book group doing “Macho Poetry” in August. Fun

  4. Hey, forgot to mention: The West is a Golden Paradise is now available on paper. National poetry month is right about now.

    Now ya know! 🙂

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