Mill Mountain in Roanoke, Virginia, July 2018 (3)

More mountain madness with the Mary Washington College kids.

I DO realize that those blurry car shots are weird.  I just find them trippy and dreamlike!  I’ll probably never stop posting them.  (And that third really blurry shot makes me think of Richard Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game.”  The bright, laterally-racing greens just give it a sense of urgency.)

 

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Care to hear some superb and haunting poetry? (Audio selections from Dennis Villelmi’s “Fretensis”)

I am honored today to share with you three recordings of me reading from Dennis Villelmi’s Fretensis: In the Image of a Blind God.  The Bees Are Dead has graciously published the readings over at its website; you can find them right here.

Thank you, Dennis, for allowing me to interpret your outstanding poetic work.

 

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Paul Anka is coming to Mary Washington College.

That means the ladies and gentleman of 90’s-era New Hall need to return to Dodd Auditorium for at least one of his performances and discreetly riff him afterward — in the same manner as the MST3K episode, “Girls Town.”   It’s a moral imperative.

I’m surprised I haven’t mentioned “Girls Town” here at the blog before.  It’s one of the show’s best.

“I did it my way.”

 

Washington, D.C., June 2018

Here are a few more pictures of Washington, D.C. — you’ll notice the befuddling inclusion of a shot of a service station on Wisconsin Avenue.  It was that location that clued me into the fact that I was near my old friend Nick’s neighborhood.

He’s a Mary Wash alum, and I met up with him and some other alums a few years after we graduated.  It would have been … 1998?  1999?  Anyway, I had an air conditioning unit in the trunk of my Ford Taurus, because I’d recently changed apartments myself, and I’d forgotten to take it out.  For reasons I’ve never been able to determine, my friends found that uproariously hilarious.  People called me “Air Conditioner Guy.”  They asked about it in e-mails and calls.  (“Is it still in there?”)  They brought it up at parties.

To this day, I feel certain there is an element to the joke that I am unaware of.

 

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Guerrilla poetry at Tenleytown, Washington, D.C.

This is Tenleytown, in Washington, D.C.’s Northwest, just a couple of blocks from a campus of American University — where I almost went to school, instead of Mary Washington College in Virginia.  I even (somewhat hilariously) received “honors admission” there.  (I was never actually a true “honor student,” even in high school, because my grades in math and science were fair at best — and anyone who knew me at age 18 could tell you that I was not exactly the brightest bulb in the socket.)

I remember being pretty excited as a high school senior at that admission letter.  American U. was my first choice; I was only seduced away to small-town Virginia by a generous financial aid package from the good people at Mary Washington.  (Yes, young people, Fredericksburg was indeed a small town in 1990, even if it now looks like downtown frikkin’ Fairfax.)

It was freaky sipping coffee in Tenleytown and pondering some other parallel-universe me who lived and studied and partied there as a kid.  (Where would I have bought my comic books?)  Most people don’t think about string theory when they travel, but I am both a science fiction fan and a really weird guy with a lot of time on his hands.  (Where is that other Eric right now?  Is he married?  Is he writing?  Is he equally irritated by Star Wars obsessives, the religious right, Orwellian language, people who push “healthy snacks,” the dumbing down of America, “fun-sized” candy, and the gradual decline of “The Walking Dead?”)

Anyway, Tenleytown a pleasant neighborhood with a brisk, college-town vibe to it.  DC consistently surprises me by how friendly its people can be.

I left some poetry mini-books beside some news-stands on Albemarle Street, a cross-street with Wisconsin Avenue.  The stands alternately inform readers in Greek, Spanish, Chinese and English about how DC’s most deplorable resident has most recently embarrassed our country.  (I admire the Spanish-language papers’ predictable special antipathy for the president.)  No matter how sad the news is, this town will not let you hide behind a language barrier.

Am I nuts, or does that Best Buy look like it was designed with the Watergate in mind?  I keep wondering if that is someone’s idea of an obscure joke.

 

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Guerrilla poetry at Farragut Square, Washington, D.C.

June 2018.  This is the only part of Washington, D.C. that can truly remind me of New York City.  (The diverse array of “food trucks” help quite a bit.)  The people there, however, seem far more likely to make eye contact and begin a conversation.  (I briefly chatted with a nice photographer who took a couple of poetry mini-books home with her.)

I’m proud of that last shot you see of pigeons alighting the park’s namesake — even if it is a little fuzzy and even if I only snapped it by chance.  David G. Farragut was a Southerner who nevertheless served heroically as an admiral in the Union navy during the Civil War.  He coined the famous phrase, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”  Maybe I’m only demonstrating my ignorance here, but I didn’t even realize that torpedoes were really a thing during the Civil War, even after seeing the C.S.S. Hunley at Charleston, South Carolina as a kid.

 

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“school shooter,” by Eric Robert Nolan

Grendel’s mother wanted murder; but we all knew that,
you knew that just by looking at her:
the green and odorous skin like dark olive parchment over her cheeks’ low bones,
the blackening teeth where the stale blood caked
and dried in her receding gumlines
like burgundy ink on her molars and incisors,
and a blackening-scarlet
stain on her canines.

Remember when we first saw her —
her flaccid breasts like flour-sacks,
her womanhood a stagnant moss,
the cadaverous, driving
lime of her hips,
her labia in livid lines
of bitter water lilies?

Remember the rising, putrid moon of her —
her green, sour form arching over ours in her ascent,
burning up from the green lake, a gangrene flame from the brackish water,
her profane grin adorning her,
and algae tracing her lips?

Remember the wet weeds
trailing the viridian strait of her throat
like silt-laden necklaces,
and all the mud and water rolling off her knuckles?
The spoiled laurel of her sinewed shoulders,
her outspread arms and their
parody of embrace?
Remember her mocking our own mothers?
Her derisive voice was like
the crack of splitting emeralds, asking,
“Am I so strange to young eyes?”

Remember the boiling fat on her tongue and
her victims’ burning skin there?
The scalps she held in her upturned palms
were like watery garments.
Her talons were as black
as snapping-turtle shells.
We all knew at once that we were quarry.

Remember her
sorrel-colored cataracts?
Her eyes were as green seas
boiling under Ragnarok.
Remember their ruptured capillaries
like collapsing red galaxies?
Remember her very irises bleeding?

But what if evil appeared
not as the face of Grendel’s mother,
but, rather, the ordinary boy in her maw —
as unexotic and as common
as we are?
If we were boys and girls again
and bored in English class —
maybe at “Beowulf’s” strangeness,
or maybe the strangeness of Jung —
and he were next to us,
with neither green skin
nor blood along his molars,
if he wanted murder, could we tell?
His face was as a clock’s face — prosaic and round.
Neither silt nor sinew lined his frame.
His gaze did not depict a grisly cosmos;
no galaxies had hemorrhaged in his eyes.
Would the difference be perceptible there
between wanting to kill time
and wanting to kill ten?
Would we know that we were quarry?

Tonight we’d like to believe
that the young are strange to old eyes
for any resemblance would kill us,
as Medusa’s own face was fatal
to her upon the shield.
As adults, we understand
that “Beowulf” is only fable —
but that Jung’s “reservoir,”
is a fatal green lake.
Better an Idis than likeness —
if a monster looks like us, it stands to reason
that maybe he could BE us,
we’d nag in our primordial minds.
It might make us envision
a kind of reverse baptism:
our own plain faces
cresting the flat, green waters
to glide across the lake,
but bearing the eyes of strangers,
emerald and seething,
irises bleeding,
crushed green reeds in our jaws, like captive verses …

And we could not suffer the thought.
Better to be quarry, or be drowned.
We’d know that, and so
we would run mad, we would run weeping, we would run forward and ravening to the green, forgiving lake,

where we could sink like Beowulf,
and our silenced lungs would fill with water.

                                                            (May 19th, 2018)

(c) 2018 Eric Robert Nolan

 

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