THE MOSQUITOES OF LA MARQUE (KSE #156)
Volume 50 in the Sound Library Series
La Marque, Texas, is located between Galveston and Houston, in Galveston County, about five miles inland from the Gulf Coast. My first and strongest impression about it was the number and the fury of the mosquitoes, particularly around sunset. I’d never before been attacked by SO MANY mosquitoes. The phrase “the mosquitoes of La Marque” entered my head, and I swore that someday I’d write an extended piece that captured La Marque in poetry. This is it.
As a Sound Library volume, this chapbook was inspired by music, in this case, the album IRON SAND by Anthony Guerra and Mark Sadgrove on the Japanese “Black Petal” label, which you can order here: http://www.blackpetal.com/ . With my memories and photographs and notes from La Marque, and with the musical textures of Guerra/Sadgrove, I was ready to begin. However, there was something I did differently with this chapbook. I commissioned two original artworks for the cover BEFORE I started the chapbook. Austin-based artist Justin Jackley, who had previously done great covers for Michael Layne Heath’s LOONS OF A DOGMAN and for A.J. Kaufmann’s Virgogray book “Broke Nuptial Minds,” seemed a logical choice, and after I discussed the concept of the piece with him and how I viewed the mosquitoes as similar to the furies of classical Greek literature (an idea I lifted from Sartre’s THE FLIES), he created haunting front and back artwork, which I also used to help give me a focus (check out Justin’s work at http://www.justinjackley.com/ ). So truly, this is a work where the music and the art are integral to the poetry.
As with LAMENT FOR THE LIVING: CHET BAKER’S FINAL SESSION, which will be coming out next month, this seven-page piece is built around a series of alternating refrains, one on pages 1, 3, and 5, and another on pages 2, 4, and 6, with a final “zinger” of a refrain on page 7. Then it was simply a matter of fleshing out the picture, filling the canvas, balancing, offering a wide variety of textures, leaving a lot of space for the work to breathe.
I’ve always believed that poetry and art are to be found everywhere, and if you cannot find the poetry and the music and the art of where YOU are , then you are not truly an artist. Experiencing the mosquitoes, the chemical fires, the convenience stores, the holiness churches, the Gulf Coast seafood shacks, the hard-scrabble part-time job worklives, and the warm, welcoming folks whose eyes silently communicate a sense of welcome and brotherhood-of-the-downtrodden, I just knew that I had to write THE MOSQUITOES OF LA MARQUE. If you want a “core sample” of Texas-America circa 2010, sculpted from the materials which make up the La Marque Experience, here it is, in spades. Want a taste? Here’s the first section:
the grit at the heart
of the Texas gulf oyster
leads the cells of the pearl-sac
to secrete layers of nacre
that will, in time, and after
enough layers of secretion
become a pearl long
after we are gone
the metal screws and wires
in his reconstructed knee
begin to ache and remind
him that the seasons have changed
mosquito eggs lie dormant
while the mothers’ body temperatures
dip lower, without their fluids solidifying
protecting properties we cannot enter
assembling products we cannot afford
the latest American military surge
in Afghanistan begins today
where Civil War soldiers would stop
to drink fresh-churned buttermilk
as they marched between
Galveston & Houston
With the recent thaw, THE MOSQUITOES OF LA MARQUE have arrived, emerging from the standing water in the swamps and the parking lots of abandoned strip malls and the roadside ditches, swarming, ready for those blood meals. As the sign on my neighbor’s garage reads, think twice before entering: there’s nothing here worth dying for!
KSE #156 is now available for ordering. It’s a hand-assembled, hand-numbered edition of 72 copies.
Cost is $4.00 each or 3 for $10.00 (only one copy of any book per customer) postpaid in the USA. Send a check (or well-concealed cash) made payable to Bill Shute, 14080 Nacogdoches Rd. #350, San Antonio, Texas, 78247. OR chapbooks are available to non-US readers DIRECT FROM KSE postpaid for only $5 each. Overseas orders should write to django5722 (at) yahoo (dot) com and request a paypal invoice for whatever you’d like. You’ll save money that way!
OTHER CHAPBOOKS NOW AVAILABLE:
#158, ZACHARY C. BUSH, “Is This Deformed” ;
#159, A.J. KAUFMANN & BILL SHUTE, “78 Horizons” (sound library series, volume 52) ;
#154, A.J. KAUFMANN, “vagabond vacancy” ;
#153, BILL SHUTE, “the twenty-fifth life of alcyone” (sound library series, volume 49) ;
#152, K.M. DERSLEY, “many septembers” ;
#151, A. J. KAUFMANN & BILL SHUTE, “twombly’s siracusa” (inspired by the work of Cy Twombly) ;
#150, MICHAEL LAYNE HEATH, “loons of a dogman” (sound library series, volume 48) ;
#149, A. J. KAUFMANN, “via alighieri” (cinema poetry series, volume 3) ;
#148, MISTI RAINWATER-LITES, “vegas the hard way” ;
#147, BILL SHUTE, “nobody knows, nobody sees” (cinema poetry series, volume 2) ;
#146, MK CHAVEZ & MIRA HORVICH, “pinnacle” ;
#145, A. J. KAUFMANN & BILL SHUTE, “blues for duffy power” ;
#144, ZACHARY C. BUSH, “spin” .
Questions? Write to django5722 (at) yahoo (dot) com . Thanks for your support!
Don’t miss the write-up on Kendra Steiner Editions/Bill Shute in the January 2010 issue of THE WIRE (UK).
wherever we are
whatever we’re doing or not doing
(“boredom is always counter-revolutionary”)
there’s always The Flame
and we’re always conscious of where we are
in relation to it
towering above the adjacent
chemical plants & refineries
a 30-foot flame atop
a 300-foot tower
a cathedral honoring our largest
employer and taxpayer, Dow Chemical,
of napalm and silicon
breast implant fame