January 27, 2007

Post-Coital Depression



after the parties

and after the Seders

a few scant hours before the POWs come home


(and home is here, this is their home, and this is my home,
far from my friends and family and far from their friends
and family and the things that any of us would call home)


Now, on a quiet Saturday, I ponder art for art’s sake

and art for society’s sake

and art which by its nature could never last

because it is too specific

too focused in its condemnations

and not at all metaphorical


Today I ponder the role of an artist

at the close of a war

and the dawn of an empire

And what it means

to believe in something


in a time of blind faith

in blind and stupid leaders


Today I am an artist and a businessman


so I look over my projects


what is due, what is due me, what will be due soon

what must be achieved today so that

other artists will still consider me important


so they will come to my rallies

and come to my readings

and thank me for my politics

and thank me for my energy


Today at home

I think of the best way to relieve the burden

of living, writing, and voting in the country

destined to conquer the world


Today I think of stacks of burning bodies


dictatorships established in the name of democracy


and the motherless sons who will come back to America

and do everything they can to bring it down


and what does that mean to anyone,




the POWs come home

tortured beaten terrorized

and I will celebrate

with my city and with my country

and I know

that this is the last day we can call ourselves

a Republic of Laws



I fear for myself

I fear for my son

I fear for the Arabs

I fear for the Israelis

I fear for the Persians

I fear for the Americans

and I fear for every artist

who makes art for art’s sake

who won’t speak out

at the end of our world


—Jonathan Penton

“Post-Coital Depression” was previously published in the anthology, BANNED (Meta4, 2004)


Posted by dwaber at 05:42 PM

January 26, 2007

Deep Throat Nihilism


Never forget that beauty is destructive

and poetry is its most destructive form

Poets do not ask permission

When you sing Ave Maria in the library, sing it loud


—Jonathan Penton

“Deep Throat Nihilism” was first published on kagablog.


Posted by dwaber at 05:41 PM

January 25, 2007

Atonement Fast


If you could take

every time

a Muslim fucked someone over during Ramadan

every time a Jew killed someone during Pesach

and every single St. Valentine’s Day massacre

and put them all on the page

you’d have no more room

for angry little poems


—Jonathan Penton


Posted by dwaber at 05:40 PM

January 24, 2007

In the Company of Them


So I’m sitting here in San Fran

In another used bookstore

On another hipster block

In this fuzzy hipster town

And I’m browsing through the bookstore

And I’m looking through the comics

There are shelves of graphic novels

And I think they must be recent

From the flashy well-done covers

And the hip PoMo technique


So I grab some graphic novels

And I’m setting on the benches

And I’m getting up, and walk around, and find a comfy chair

So I lean back, and I’m comfy, and I open up the comics

Which are trendy, which are clever,

Which have lots of lit-techniques

There’s this one with the stone giant

Who starts out as a hero

Who might be old King David

or George Washington Carver

and he bests the evil villain

who was belittling his race

but now he’s getting bigger

and he just keeps getting bigger

and pretty soon he’s enslaved all the creatures all around

the metaphor was obvious

though the subject imprecise

He might have been Israel

Or maybe Nashville, Tennessee

But the book was tortured, troubled

And so exquisitely drawn

The artist must’ve worked

As long as Karen Hughes been ugly

It was twenty-eight dollars

U.S.                                              dollars

with      proceeds            going to                                  charity


And I’m looking at these novels

And I’m looking at the shelves

’Cause there’s dozens of these comics

Dozens of these graphic novels

’Cause there’s dozens of these artists

Dozens angry tortured artists

Who sort of kind of made it

In the graphic novel world

But if you walk down through the Mission

Past the chickenhawks and junkies

You’ll find hundreds of these artists

Who will never, ever make it

Though it’s hard to see the difference

Between the published and the losers

Because every artist’s screaming

Every artist’s fucking screaming

Every artist wants to warn us

Of all the evil that we do

They’re all warning and they’re screaming

And they’re bringing up the issues

With their hip PoMo devices

And their so unique techniques


And besides the hundred artists

There’s a thousand folk musicians

With their lyrics tried and tested

And their chords so true and blue

And besides the thousand singers

There’s a million sock-drawer poets

Who’ve put down their San Fran paintbrush

To write of what will happen

To warn the world of what will happen

If we let a madman rule us

If we let the wealthy lead us

If we sign away our neighbors for another cup of Starbucks

And the artists are all drawing

And the folkies are all singing

And the poets all recite their angry lines at open mics

But there’s no one really listening

No there’s no one really listening

And the few who clap politely never do a goddamned thing

But the days are getting hotter

And our lives are getting shorter

And the Fertile Crescent won’t be fertile for four billion years

While MSN reports on Fox News

CNN reports on Slate

CBS reports on Sharpton

And Al Sharpton studies Fox

While the talking heads keep talking

And the bloggers keep on blogging

And the artists keep pretending there is something left to say


—Jonathan Penton


Posted by dwaber at 01:03 PM

January 23, 2007

Regarding Your Career:

Your books are worthless.
Your perfect-bound, professionally-made, trade paperbacks from the bigger names in the small press are worthless.
Your rice-paper handcrafted signed and numbered achievements are worth less than the formaldehyde stuck to a dead poet’s balls.


Your credits, your blog, your hand-stapled zines will be forgotten as soon as they are produced. Your friends will laugh at them at your funeral. Your hopes for immortality mean less than the knots in your noose.


Yes, I admire the tall trannies with glamorous coats

in the laundromat documentary

Yes, I admire the Ocean Queen

with her marijuana fire department
Solicit their opinions on your goulash.

Let your work die with you


—Jonathan Penton

“Regarding Your Career” was previously published in a different form in Antipatico


Posted by dwaber at 01:03 PM

January 22, 2007

Third Crush

After David Mamet


One day I met a woman with eyes like a Townes Van Zandt song


She told me I looked like Jesus, or perhaps Adam

We got along like dykes and dogs, but


I knew it wouldn’t last

so I decided to love her leave her           and spend the rest of my life writing poems

about how much I missed her

That way, I could enjoy the pain of losing her and not have to listen to her voice


I was proud of my plan and I decided to tell my mother about it


But my mother didn’t like my plan


In fact, she got very angry


She told me that it wasn’t right to love someone when you knew you were going to leave them


I asked her if she felt that way about it why did she kick me out of the house when I was only thirty-eight?


But mother wouldn’t listen to reason


She was so upset that she called the beautiful woman

and told her what I was planning


But the beautiful woman didn’t believe her


So I loved the woman and left her

and then I sat down and wrote this poem


I hope you like it

I hope the beautiful woman reads it

I hope it makes her happy


—Jonathan Penton


Posted by dwaber at 01:13 PM

January 21, 2007

On the many things I do not understand



He speaks of a passion, strange and wonderful



I think of Joanie Vollmer

I study her death beside Tupac’s and Cobain’s

I wonder at the precise size

of the hole in her forehead



I think of writing, this attempt to force others

to spend a moment with the thoughts I think every day



He tells me that he caught the literary bug at a young age



That’s good, I tell him

Better that

than for it to catch you…



—Jonathan Penton


Posted by dwaber at 02:03 PM