Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Kentucky Poets Week: Coleman Larkin

After a very full weekend including 1 killer show, 2 days of gorgeous spring weather, and 3 songs that now have vocal tracks, I'm thinking it's a good time to let some other folks use this space for their words, so I can sit back and have a little quiet time. 

Luckily, I have recently made a trip to my old Lexington, Kentucky home (I lived there for 3 years before Boston) to visit friends and have brought back with me fresh blooms of inspiration from the rich writing soil of Appalachia.  If you don't already know about the literary legacy of Kentucky, please google "Kentucky writers" and explore a little.  It is such a wonderful trove of great writing.  Or just stay tuned to my blog this week because I'll be selecting some really wonderful poetry - new and old - from some of the best Kentucky writers.

Today, I have the honor of sharing with you one of my favorite people ever.  I first met Coleman Larkin in an intro fiction writing class with real live merry prankster, Gurney Norman.  We were partnered up to read each other some bit of something we'd written...which is how I found out the second and third things Cole and I had in common (after writing):  shyness and a "proclivity for the female neck."  Since then, Cole has become the first person I send anything to when I need a reader and every now and then I am fortunate enough to find his work in my Inbox.  He is quite possibly the only peer writer I've never felt competitive with; his work is so transcendent, I feel nothing but hopeful that he will keep the words flowing out into the world.  He's just...a writer.  A Kentucky writer to the bone (all that means is that you can hear the home in his words and that home is Kentucky).

Cole is also an award-winning journalist, a stand-up comedian (though not the kind most mothers approve of) and happens to write band bios on the side (including the current TBH bio), so twitter or facebook the man now - or just sit and wait until his work infiltrates your awareness.  Either way.

This is supposed to be my quiet time so I will now shut my yap and give it over to the poetry of Coleman Larkin.


Beyond windows tall as pride and the decayed Corinthian capitals of old Second Street a fraction stares through the night. My sweet striving city, angelic as you are. Neon. Cerulean. Halo. My sweet striving city of shoe shiners and the bow-tied and everything that pushes my pen. What’s your real name and how come every girl I ever love ends up on your high South hill where I can’t reach her? I’d like to die right on top of you, Lexington, and grow up a blue-green blade.


Did I mention my predilection for your sly heat? Cold shoulder be damned it sneaks and warms without cause or consent. My God. I’d like to take a night walk with you around the holidays, watch you melt through to the pavement like a rivet and blow kisses to the bums. Even the snow couldn’t stay frozen in your thick atmosphere. You’ve got one you know, a second skin of hot atoms that cloud and shake, a larger version of your self that’s invisible but not empty, a coalescence of earned insights surrounding you like a superimposed shadow. Not everyone has it, and I’m not sure if it’s good. But did I mention my predilection?


“They should invent some sort of liquid solution to this problem,” I said, and you said you just preferred the sensation of me holding your hand and picking the burgundy polish from your nails with my own, taking extra care around the cuticles, amassing a palm of glittery platelets. But, come to think of it, the problem of which I spoke was that I saw a poetry in the action and assumed an exchange with you, you who has pianist’s fingers but doesn’t play the piano.


Their homes float like luxury liners on frozen swells of green, and at week’s end they row into town and dock their Japanese SUVs and cobalt Beamers and their overkill trucks with calfskin insides in front of the historic storefronts where Mexican horsemen wait for the working months, their jagged teeth and sagging pawn shop sorrows imparting an uneasiness to the fur-clad women of The Other Paris. “Can’t nobody do nothing ‘round this place,” say the men, because they aren’t yet accustomed to the Commonwealth where looking is a bigger sin than doing, so they jingle the bells on their way into the Alta Vista where their wives align pastries and fumble with money they don’t understand but nevertheless earned, and everybody falls in love with everybody all over again because they remember how rare it is to find a soul that’s solid. Especially here. Especially in The Other Paris where it gets dark early and the fur-clad sailors row home to their grassy Atlantis while wet-bellied dishwashers with bad knees and brothers in need of chemo treatments carry their cold discs into the streets and stuff their cheeks with chaw, screaming “Never again!” again and again and again, their hearts steaming away, leaving syrupy reductions of present hurts and forgotten joys. If there’s a god he should bless them, wrinkled palms and all.


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