Monday, November 6th – 7 pm
Julie Rogers & Gene Berson read their work
 

Julie Rogers and Gene Berson met in 2011 at City Lights, the night of David Meltzer’s launch for his book, “When I Was A Poet”, #60 in the Pocket Poet Series. It was a big deal. Julie read too, first up. Afterward, Gene stood in line to get his book signed. He approached and congratulated David on his magnificent reading, turned to Julie and said, “you weren’t too shabby either.” They’ve been friends ever since.

Julie says, “I just can’t imagine staying planted on this crazy boulder cycling through space without writing. I must have stuff to learn, and I need rocks, trees, people, open hearted transparency, words, poems, artworks, books, music, and love to do this. Since life keeps displaying its insane splendor, there’s always something to say. Several books have spilled out, most recently House of the Unexpected and Street Warp, and the CD ‘Two-Tone Poetry & Jazz’, with David Meltzer and Zan Stewart. I can’t seem to contain myself, the world’s beauty and heartbreak, or my pen’s tendency to rant on about it, and then later to read this out loud.”

Gene Berson writes, “Can a poet retire? Can homeless people fall off the earth? Think like a drop of water, an old contractor advised me, as we were building a roof. Are the rivers of refugees now streaming the earth, fleeing bewildering wars, doing our dreaming for us? Is that fair? Do we fall asleep to turn away from the nightmare? Dream through the lens of water. We may be exiled above asphalt but our exile is temporary. Dig your fingers into the sidewalk (Amiri Baraka). Plant your feet. (Gene Berson).”

Below is a poem by Gene from a collection due out in December from Open Book Press,
and then some of his further thoughts…

raveling travel

he was talking about how it was
that a spider
found on different islands
separated by infinite water

could get around
(undaunted by doubt)

a silk thread
swept up by wind

maybe like a song
past understanding catches the ear
as if we could hear
filaments of ourselves on the air

a strand of dying sunlight
pulling thread out of a star

a more rational creature
would not dare
such a survival strategy —

silk — unraveling
oneself — a form
of travel

The spider that travels from island to island by letting out a strand of silk, to be picked up by wind, the central metaphor in the title poem of this book, stands for the poet’s voice. It is a vehicle by which to travel an uncertain road—spun from within, compelled by the need of a species even as the individual is motivated by its own survival. For the individual it’s a reckless, heroic, sacrificial approach, with no guarantee of success. It’s playing the odds by doing the only thing it knows to do. Nevertheless, all of its species’ hopes are riding on its journey, for only the individual can see the turn to be made and only he can make it. He’s the one alive in the moment.
A poet undertakes to realize his personal voice hoping it will convey social implications. He sings to be conscious. The metaphor is a memory from junior college, a biology class, the instructor describing how a species of spider populated South Sea islands widely separated by water. It seems memory and imagination are always on the lookout for what might help an individual go on. One can’t help but wonder that we dream, and by implication, sing, given that evolution drops what the body no longer needs. We sing because we have to. –Gene Berson

And from Julie:

The Country as a Toilet for the President

Politics. Tissue on a bathroom floor
used and tossed, the intended function
fleeting as a flush.
Not to insult but
the pipes are clogged
the deodorizer spent.
No claims to deciphering the news
or how to fix the way it is
continually running on
but here I am
in the sewer system
with the classes sinking
into lower economics
in the swirl of the drain
that starts in a full tank
and fills to empty us.

7-23-17
Oakland