Friday, August 16, 2019

Hot-Wire



















Hot-Wire

I have an uneasy relationship with the self
ever since I hot-wired the lyric. I taught my voice
another voice. There are bodies along the trail
to the summit. One moment you are talking
about swans, and the next, the mind is a rusty
Tilt-A-Whirl full of screaming kids. You can’t kill
the self, no more than the “I”, but wrest control
from its hands. Go spelunking with amnesia.
Start a countdown. If you push the detonator,
remember the answer is kaboom. I would rather
put the unbidden under surveillance than trot out
memories one more time, but someone is making
walkie-talkie demands, and that summer in Europe
is proof of life. The board of directors have given
their okay to use syntax and line, but are deadlocked
on the striped thorax of a dragonfly. I’ve made a hole
in the self with a pen-knife. A light shines out of it
as does hope, disappointment, longing, convictions.
The self does not care how we feel about it. It is
the voice banging on the other side of the door.
The burning bush laying down commandments
before someone douses it with a bucket of water.
The days are in charge, for now, but the nights
are plotting regime change. The self sharpens
its guillotine, but fears the rabble in the streets.
It writes a pamphlet. Uses various pseudonyms.
After being caught in a police dragnet, it looks
down the long table, confesses to everything.
It implicates me, half man, half special effects.
See these two wires? Twist them together.
Hit the ignition. Make our getaway.


By Chris Banks

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Mint Condition


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Mint Condition

It is hard to mix emotion and sincerity
with irony and distance, said a poet more
famous than I. Still, I follow the recipe.
I keep my uncomfortable feelings in
mint condition like comics in plastic bags
on the top shelf of my bedroom closet.
The pills I take to combat side effects
of other pills I take are writing a novel
called Sense and Senselessness. True story.
Yesterday is forever trending. Scientists
have discovered fish on the Great Barrier reef
sing a dawn chorus. Voices in technicolour.
When you run out of map similes, childhood
metaphors, what are you left with? The goods.
Figments are rent to own. Herald the news.
Live life in your own key. Substitute fries
for existentialism. Time to rebrand the ocean.
The moon. Twilight. The stars. Strangely,
I have no ghost-writers. Only ghosts.
Accident or revelation? Is it too much
to ask for both? Face it: details matter
in a poem or in life. I’ve spent years
trying to put lightning on a leash. All
the climate change zealots I know drink
Starbucks. The world was easier to understand
when movies came on celluloid. Truly,
I’m an apocalypse virgin. I’m hoping
to slip a little wisdom past the censors
like a poem must begin in lava, end in cathedrals.
Orange pylons adorn my street this week.
There is a wish to be elsewhere. To go past them.
Save the destination. Go slowly.

By Chris Banks



Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Midlife Action Figure Has Arrived!

     
      My latest collection Midlife Action Figure is not scheduled to come out until next month but already copies have arrived at my house and they look stunning! I am very excited for everyone to read it as I think it will surprise many. I took a lot of risks with this book and Bob Hicok and Catherine Owen very graciously offered to blurb the collection.

       Already, there is a buzz starting to build around the book and I couldn't be happier! There is an upcoming starred review of Midlife Action Figure in Quill and Quire which will be out in September's issue.

      Here is a little taste of the review: "Midlife Action Figure delivers surprise, delight, and sense; Banks slams sly one liners as though he were competing in a professional wrestling match..." and "Midlife Action Figure is an insightful tour through the human experience, crafted in clear and specific imagery that captivates the imagination and the intelligence. It is a book that begs to be read and reread."

Special thanks to Micheline Maylor for taking the time to read my book and capturing the essence of what I was trying to do in her review.



Tuesday, July 30, 2019

For Your Consideration



















For Your Consideration

Sorry this love letter is written in blood.
Embossing feelings on white linen paper
makes people believe you are genuine.
The songs are all lost because the guitar
caught fire. I read the script ahead of time.
The ending involves floods and fires
and possibly food stamps. Protozoa
are not scared of the end of the world
so why should we be? I’m hoping
God hits a switch and we evolve in time.
My children buoy joy above despair.
The foundation of civilization is leaking
but look for the people with buckets.
My t-shirt says One Man Renaissance.
Trying is the best form of optimism.
How many different ways can I write
the word helpless? Or happiness? Or
real love? I miss being ten years old,
chewing raw spearmint in a forest alone. 
I miss the sidewalk soju trucks in Seoul
during monsoon season which is funny
since I no longer drink. The way you had
to hold your umbrella open even under
the tent to keep the rain from reaching
your clothes. The other side of the street
abstracted, lost in the torrent. Free live
minnows came swimming in a glass
for each table. One time they were gone.
My friend Neal said solemnly under
his black umbrella that it would be better
if the little fishies were here. I agreed,
as I agree now. When the rain thwacks
down on you, there should be a reward.
Let’s get lost in the downpour. Open
our mouths. Taste the fine print.

By Chris Banks







Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Art Lessons


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Art Lessons

I stand before this canvas which is really
only blue skies and a couple of small birds
attacking a crow and I think about where
did I misplace my eisel? I’m a so-so artist.
I had my own blue period. I sabotage
each sketch by mixing in words instead of
paints. To this day I forget who is the god
of not giving a fuck. I’m a cheerleader for
underdogs, nudes in paintings. Sadly,
my artist friends only paint portraits, some
watercolours, which is too bad given nudity
is the best subject matter for paintings, and
real life, even if we pretend we are not naked
under these clothes. The way to communicate
is with our eyes which has something to do
with art and sex and feelings. I’m always trying
to get to the other side of the canvas or page
or your body depending on what I’m looking at
even if I did major in bad career choices
instead of visual arts in University. This is
a terrible painting. I have not even added
the bee-stings or the bruises or the Garden
of Earthly Office Parties yet. Go easy with
your critique but tell me the truth. You look
a little sad in your clothes. Let’s get naked
while the paint dries. C’mon, I’ll go first.


By Chris Banks