KSE #121, BILL SHUTE , “Leaf-Blowers” (Sound Library Series, Volume 37)
source music: Nigel Coombes and Steve Beresford, “Two To Tangle” (Emanem UK, cd)
My last four pieces have been collaborations (with Ronald Baatz, with Stuart Crutchfield, with A. J. Kaufmann, and with Zachary C. Bush), and I have two more collaborations in the pipeline for the next few months (one with Michael Jacobson, and another with A. J. Kaufmann), so I decided to do another solo extended piece, and this is it.
Leaf-blowers. What a curious piece of equipment. They don’t create anything; they don’t destroy or even recycle anything; they just MOVE things, seemingly inconvenient things, off someone’s property onto public property or onto someone else’s property. Leaf-blowers. What a perfect symbol for the waning days of this Bush-Cheney-Halliburton-Occupation of Iraq-financial bailout of the wealthy era in which we live, this New Gilded Age.
This is a five-section poem, in open-field composition. Sections 1, 3, and 5 are closely observed detail written in what’s for me an unadorned matter-of-fact style. Sections 2 and 4 are more philosophical, still full of particulars, but a bit more elliptical.
It’s set right here in San Antonio, and I feel it’s a good core sample of Texas, of America, and of life today. It’s my message in a bottle to both present readers, who’ll shake their heads and say “yeah, that’s right,” and to future readers, who’ll I hope get a taste of this curious era right from the belly of the overfed beast, not from someone in a creative writing program in some rarified university atmosphere or from some cable-news talking head or from someone with a political or cultural axe to grind. I may not be great or significant myself, but I do know who sucks and who doesn’t, who’s phony and who’s authentic, who matters and who doesn’t. And often, that’s enough to get you by. There’s a few Hart Crane allusions to those who trainspot those kind of things; it’s dedicated to Texas political heroes Victor Morales and John Courage; and the epigraph is from Crane, “Poetry is an architectural art.” And so it is.
29 numbered copies, the first of which has already gone to my wonderful partner, Mary Anne. Get one of the remaining copies while you can by going to the “available KSE poetry chapbooks” page to your upper right. I hope my poetic mentor Paul Blackburn might have liked Leaf-Blowers. Re-reading it after I printed up the first batch, I noticed that it reminded me somewhat of Blackburn’s JOURNALS, particularly “October Journal: 1970” and “Along the San Andreas Fault.” See what you think! Finally, Thanks to my friends Zachary C. Bush, Brad Kohler, Doug Draime, Keith Dersley, and Ronald Baatz for the stimulating poetic conversation in recent weeks. And to Michael Layne Heath for the unexpected but welcome poetic messages-in-a-bottle he’s been sending me from San Francisco. There are kindred spirits everywhere—you just have to open your eyes, open your ears, open your heart, and open your self.