Monday, September 26, 2011



Wood Bloxom
Midwestern Noir
Granada Theater
Gazette Letter
Sunflower State Haiku
Kansas Farmboyz
Wood Bloxom (1918—1998)
Wichita Sutra Vortex
Harvesting Wheat
Hippie Kansas Sixties
William Burroughs in Lawrence

Wood Bloxom

The very first thing—
Bright in the ugly morning
His lovely scowls.

“Somewhere today there’s—
A sun shining brightly but
Not in Kansas though.”

Plains geometry—
Isn’t that what Bloxom taught?
Midwestern film noir?

Pragmatic old guard—
Dishing my Naivete
(“I don’t have a chance!”)

Bloxom’s rants warmed up—
Full of Realpolitik
There in the Temple.

Midwestern Noir

The State of Kansas—
More a State of Noir than
Anything, I suppose.

Little college town—
The Athens of the Midwest
USA Stoicism Inc.

The Fly-Over State—
But those of us down here
Born by the Cottonwood.

South of the Neosho—
In William Allen White’s
Main Street world.

Granada Theater

I grew up in there—
Granada Theater balcony
That old Film Temple.

Spanish Colonial Revival—
Finial-topped Towers
Red-tiled roof overhead.

Vulture-capital columns—
Slender arched windows
Above flashing marquee.

Corbel parapet above—
Terra cotta clown figurines
Moorish flavored lobby.

Gazette Letter
Sept 26, 2011

rabblerouser says:
“With the rise in crime in Emporia, maybe they should be turned into detention facilities. A little coiled wire on top of the existing fences, camera's and guard towers and wal-la. A sign of the times. Job creation for security guards and the building's won't set empty. They will be full of Emporia's new trend criminals.”

I like that idea. Saving Neoclassical Lowther and EHS by remodeling them as detention facilities. The same with Kenyon Hall on the old C of E campus. Stark, stoic, gothic ruins—if the Athens of the Midwest is kaput, why not make some money on it?

Keeping the quaint historic business facades of downtown Emporia intact is so very important, of course. As all the other smaller Kansas towns decay and wither slowly away. Or get blown away like Joplin.

If they were here today, I’m sure Wood Bloxom, Ed Price, Anita B. Rice, Richard Doxtator—would agree that those two grand Neoclassical buildings on Sixth Avenue—would be perfect prison facilities for the vast unemployed midwestern moiling masses during this latest Republican Depression.

Instead of being cavalierly torn down and replaced by another ticky-tacky shopping mall? Look what happened to Emporia’s esteemed downtown business interests—when they got a WalMart and a ghost mall instead. Great planning—who may I ask were the masterminds of that fiasco?

You’d think Emporia planners and businessmen could do better than that? Plus putting all their eggs in a single closed-down meat plant Easter Basket—full of Somali slave-labor? William Allen White would probably ask today—“What’s wrong with Kansas, anyway?”

Wood Bloxom was more succinct—“Somewhere the sun is shining, but not in Emporia.”

James Dean Haiku

Dumb Midwest Farmboyz—
Some of my best friends that way
Lanky handsome dudes

Kansas Farmboyz

Kansas Farmboyz—
They’re Red State Filet Mignon.
Stoic, straight, butchy Repugs
That way around other guyz.

Out there late at night—
In their Chevy pickups
Higher than a kite
After a Silver Bullet six-pack.

Well, that’s when—
FFA boyz are stoic geniuses
Leaning back against gun racks
Gazing up at the stars.

Kansas boyz play dumb—
But they gots lotsa RFD smarts
I was just a mere City Slicker
With them under a prairie moon.

Wood Bloxom (1918—1998)

There’s always a before & after—but most of the time we don’t notice it. Time creeps up on us & before you know it—it’s over.

Wedding pictures, birthdays, family photos, snapshots of our youth—they all end up in a cardboard box in the attic.

From there they end-up in the trash, in a pawn shop, in a dumpy antique store—forgotten little pieces of gone Americana.

But yearbooks are the cruelest depositories of nostalgia, not exactly mausoleums of the dead—but pretty close to it…

My mother’s thin highschool yearbooks from the early ‘40s full of black & white photos & world war 2 film noir—handsome young boys off to Europe.

Compared to my yearbook—20 years later, full of naïve little baby-boomers before Dallas, Vietnam, Chile, Watergate, Nicaragua, Iran, Iraq…

Before/after—how many dreams of the future, naïve plans detoured, melodramatic geometries of impossible love & sad knowing flashbacks?

Enough to make a grown man weep—enough to make the most stoic Republican cry, enough to make Midwest Gothic haunt & hurt me even now?

That’s how I feel, Wood—looking at these 2 photos caught in time. Between the ‘40s/’60s—you, me & Amy Jane. Between then & now—this kitschy postmodern sketch.

Generations come & go but mentors span them like bridges suspended over the Abyss—like Bridges of San Luis Rey?

Built by god knows who, ancient Incas with carefully woven strong ropes of osier—taking me back to my gone dilapidated ‘Athens of the Midwest’?

Yes, Wood Bloxom. You, Anita B. Rice, Ed Price & Lois Jaquith—and all the other excellent teachers at EHS from C of E, KSTC & KU.

Students come & go—spanning busy Sixth Avenue. Lowther Jr. High & EHS—ancient topocosmic temples of lost knowledge & gone teen angst.

A small Kansas college town plopped down between the Neosho & Cottonwood Rivers—like a cow patty in a surprised cornfield.

You know all this—you knew it long before I was born. I can tell looking at your face—your forlorn sad eyes gazing at me.

Wichita Sutra Vortex
—for Allen Ginsberg

In the Beginning—
There was Nothingness
Just a whole lot of

The Red State Prairie—
Went on & on for miles
Nothing but stoic cow-patty
Turd plops & railroad tracks.

From grim Topeka—
Way up there north
All the way south to
Oklahoma City.

Kansas the Red State—
Just sit there & wait
Nothin else happening
In this Fly-Over State.

Tornado Alley—
Flattening things flat
Then one day they say
Poetry went Ka-Splat!!!

The Viet Nam War—
Like the Civil War came
And went leaving Kansas
A Border State as usual.

Hippie anti-War—
Wichita Sutras came
And went, things were
As they were before.

Little Emporia—
Calm stoic Athens
Of the Great Midwest
Entered the Fifties.

Harvesting Wheat

True Confessions nothing new—
I fell for this cute farmboy up north
In the wilds of Republic County
The Nebraska border near Scandia.

Up there in Republic Country—
Isn’t that where young Repugs breed?
We were both working that summer
Harvesting wheat for my uncle.

His eyes green as John Deere—
Shirtless in a pickup sippin’ beer.
The light of August during summer
Kinda like Faulkner said…

Hippie Kansas Sixties

Who needed to go to San Francisco—
When it was already right there in Kansas?

Who needed patchouli & paisley—
When your boyfriend’s already got long hair?

Who needed crummy incense or sitar music—
When Kansas was already pretty stoney?

It grew like Weed out there on the plains—
Seeds brought up north between cattle hoofs.

Up from Mexico and the Rio Grande—
El Paso Red from the Virgin of Guadalupe!!!

It was natural being RFD hippie back then—
Pottawatomie Gold & Concordia Highs.

Swimmin’ nude in the Republican River—
Where else would ya find naked Repug guyz?

Groves of shimmering Cottonwoods overhead—
Loud as Santa Fe trains zoomin’ high above.

Out past Capote’s “In Cold Blood” murder town—
Holcomb hiding its bloody Clutter Family dead.

William Burroughs in Lawrence

Once upon a time—Ginsberg intoned words
Into a tape recorder during the winter of 1966

Driving down from Nebraska thru Kansas—
In a VW van bought with Guggenheim $$$$$$

Kansas where Whitman once came thru—
“the cosmos instinctively vibrating at your feet”

To Wichita—ultimate destiny of road-trip poem
Symbolic heart of Viet Nam War USA vortex

“The war is language—language abused”
Black Market Language—funky beltway warlocks

Handmedown mandrake terminologies—
Sorcerer’s Apprentices who’ve gone amok

Riding the simplest broomstick in the world—
Language embedded as War Advertisements

“Wichita Vortex Sutra”—now reads kinda lame
Like some final antiwar poem—fizzled Elegy blame

Since then—many Miss Amerika contests later
Iraq/Afghani Vortex Sutras—clogging the Agenda

Sam Hamill’s Poets Against the War anthology—
Dishing the First Lady in her Rose Garden

Then Eliot Weinberger’s LRB antiwar poem—
“What I heard about Iraq in 2005” etc. etc.

All of it fading like Whitman’s Leaves of Grass—
Each anti-war ditty celebrating its own demise

While Burroughs in Lawrence—sits with his cats
“You can’t fight being possessed—intellectually”