“SAN BERNADINO’S B-SIDE”: a poem by Aurelio Diaz

This feature is a poem by Aurelio Diaz titled “San Bernadino’s B-Side”. It was inspired by “San Bernadino”, track 3 on the Waves and Wheels album. Please read Aurelio’s ekphrastic piece and then listen to the song that inspired it. Enjoy!

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San Bernadino’s B-Side, by Aurelio Diaz

“The Valley of the Cupped Hand of God” – the poorest of the gold rush West,
wealthy hearts venture abreast
in a car with blue jay & cardinal figureheads at the prow
trekking to colonize dark deserts
of lunatic exotic animal handlers,
setting up residence in a wickiup
to discuss & to face what lies ahead
in the broader scheme of growing pains,
like the personalities, nature, even glitches of future offspring
& their existence 30 years from now…
Under the brilliant fireworks
that tease with shadow taunts.

And to be together in the deepest divot of God’s cupped hand.
not Alone.
a Home wherever u go.

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“Mouth of the Ocean”: a video-performance by Jason Kaufman inspired by sovroncourt’s song of that title.

This feature is a video piece by Jason Kaufman inspired by sovroncourt’s “Mouth of the Ocean”, track 2 on Waves and Wheels. Please set the video to 720p for the best quality and enjoy!

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A few words from Jason Kaufman about the song, about the video: 
If I listen to sovroncourt long enough, I will cry. Guaranteed. Gets me every time. So I listen when I’m by myself, in the car or late at night when I’m deep into a sculpture. In all his work, whether photography, assemblage, or music, his techniques are self-detonating. He wants the work to be authentic, earnest, honest, but refuses alluring or pretty technique for fear the work will achieve only a shell of honesty. Cameron’s work is 40 grit sandpaper, because he wants us to be scuffed free of clothes and naked before meeting him at the raw-hearted center of it.

I can no longer view his work without seeing his mother. She’s everywhere, a presence known and strange. She is always smiling and teaching him little things. Reminding him to smile. “Mouth of the Ocean”, of all the songs on waves and wheels, is most directly about his mother and because of this it feels like the emotional core of the album. I can’t stop listening to it. It makes me think of my mother; it makes me think of losing her. It’s a wound I have to touch. Will have to touch. Cameron sings “I would remember […] to swim, and fear the ocean,” and here we are, all of us, fearing the ocean–of love, existence, death–but swimming nonetheless. 

In the video my mother and I held eye contact for the duration of the song. We felt silly at first. Within thirty seconds we were both crying. I felt fake for a minute. Then I felt too real. Then I felt at home. By the end we were feeling silly again.

Aurelio Diaz’s rendition of Sovroncourt’s “el condor pasa”.

This feature is Aurelio Diaz’s rendition of “el condor pasa”. Please take a few minutes to listen to “el condor pasa” by sovroncourt before going on to listen to Aurelio’s rendition. Enjoy!

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An introduction to sovroncourt’s “el condor pasa” by Jennifer Hurst
For the past few weeks I’ve been listening to “waves and wheels” whenever I’m in the car. I was hooked at the revival of the Peruvian folk song “Paso Del Condor”, which was covered by Simon & Garfunkel in my youth. Sovroncourt’s version is original. It retains a thread of independence tempered by love, while keeping a great song in the vernacular. What, I wonder, would the nail, the street, and the snail say?

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An introduction to Aurelio Diaz’s autoharp/castanet rendition of “el condor pasa” by Jason Kaufman
“The Condor Passes” was written by Peruvian composer Daniel Alomía Robles in 1913. It is based on traditional Andean folk tunes, which are older yet. The song has taken various manifestations, most popularly by Simon & Garfunkel in the 70’s, and now a hundred years later Cameron Sharp has added another layer of adaptation to the song’s history. Concerning his further rendition Diaz said, “I omitted the bridge of the song to make it less melancholy, but tried my best to keep Cameron’s melody styles. His styling is much different than the original and I wanted to tackle the song with equal ambition. My first decision was to sing it in Spanish.” Thus after 100 years the Peruvian folk song has returned to its Hispanic roots.

On Base, by Llalan Fowler

Summer tastes like cut grass and infield dirt and warm water out of paper Dixie cups. Between the ages of ten and sixteen I spent every summer banging dirt out of my cleats on the dugout cement, dreaming about the boys in the big league.

First Base

I was fourteen and pretty sure I’d be the first girl in the history of ever to get a high school diploma before she got kissed. And then I got kissed and it was so sadly cliched I wanted a do-over even at the time. We were on the band bus on the way home from a football away game when I was fed a sluggish mouthful of tongue. I would not kiss anyone else until I was in college.

First base was my favorite base in softball, though I never fielded it, being neither tall nor left-handed. But as a runner you can run past it and still be safe. On the other bases an infielder could tag you out with the ball if you overran the base, but you can stomp on first and blow on past at top speed into the outfield. You could could just keep going, really, out past the fence and the wild grass into the corn and down to the river or beyond.

Second Base

In girl’s softball, you aren’t allowed to lead off the bases; you have to wait until the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand before teasing to the right. On base at second I was invisible to the pitcher and felt sly as though holding up bunny ears behind her in a snapshot. I was slow, so the possibility of getting past the shortstop and third baseman to steal was slim, but still, I liked that I represented a threat.

The boys in high school thought I was a tease, but I was really just terrified. How long do you play defense against them? I liked that I represented a challenge, but not the prize. I was more comfortable shifting from one crouched leg to the other along the baseline between first and second, swaying slightly, letting my glove trace the sign of infinity in the infield dirt between my cleats.

Third Base

In eleventh grade Jackie Parson turned to me in English class and said, “Did you know a blow job has absolutely nothing to do with blowing?” I answered something like, “Oh yeah! That’s so weird!” even though I didn’t really have clue.

It is the most physical of bases, always sliding into it if you’re doing it right. Hit a triple, steal, get caught looking at home a little too hungrily and take two lurching steps back before sliding in safe. The third baseman, shortstop, pitcher, and catcher all keep a wary eye on it: the penultimate step before changing the whole game.

Fourth Base

In college I slunk away from a bonfire when they started passing the bottle of Jack Daniels and playing “never have I ever.” The girls giggled and acted coy, as though they actually had done the acts they pretended they hadn’t, saying they’d  never “done it” in a lifeguard chair or their parent’s minivan. I just never had. Ever. I was very far away from home.

Fourth base represented my target, the goal I studied in class behind my eyelids. I was a pitcher. I threw windmill — the style of whirling your arm in one fierce circle while taking a saucy, hip-swinging step towards home base. I pictured a channel of energy stretching from my open hand, beneath the hitter’s bat, smack into the catcher’s glove. I was in charge. I got what I wanted. What secret did I know? There is no fourth base; only home.

© Llalan Fowler, 2013

Llalan Fowler

Hello. My name is Llalan, pronounced LAY-lin. I am a reader, a writer, and an Ohioan. I am also the manager of Main Street Books, the only independent, general bookstore in Mansfield, Ohio. So not only am I a big reader, but I am also an avid supporter of local business. Please visit my blog, The Bookstore Lady, which follows the ups and downs of bookselling in a small town, the trials and successes of running a small business and some difficult or beautiful parts of just being human.

Other incidentals that might be helpful to know: I love beer, am kind of a snob about it, and have been known to brew it when the mood suits (I actually write for another blog called PitchKnives & ButterForks in a column called “Just Add Beer”); sometimes I cry at commercials, even the ones just about paper towels; I have never been tan in my life.

“In Front of the Big Screen”, a poem by Jason Kaufman

“In Front of the Big Screen”

It was a fatal nihilism nurtured by the Big Screen.
An atrocity that belongs only on the Big Screen.
A fruit, beyond ripe, that spread its deadly seed before the Big Screen.
In the aftermath we devour it off of the Big Screen.

A half century of nihilism has culminated in him.
With a semi-automatic he has written his final doctrine.
12 dead. His grand work. His magnum opus.
In his doctrine, only Death is significant,
only Death is beyond temporal illusion
Death is absolute.
Death is charity.

His bullets were like unthreaded needles embroidering the dark.
Death leaked into the aisle ways.
It seems now that the theater seats were upholstered in blood-red fabric
in preparation for this occasion.

The survivors report that initially the simulated, movie bullets
and the actual bullets were indistinguishable.
I wonder what Jean Baudrillard would say about that?

I can’t get the image of him out of my mind—
The deranged, wide-eyed stare. The cartoon hair.
I imagine his mug-shot is already hanging
on the wall of the next mass murderer,
the next anti-poet.
Yes, another Dark Knight will rise.
They’ve already memorized the treacherous
and macabre stanzas of his “Aurora” poem.
12 dead; not the largest, not the least mass murder.
But an adequate goal for the next to yearn for,
to improve upon.

I have a portrait of Walt Whitman hanging above my desk.
He has a rapturous, wide-eyed stare and cartoon hair.
I yearn to achieve Whitmanesque gentleness.
I yearn for the world to yearn for Whitmanesque gentleness.
I look to him to guide me through this sorrow,
I’m counting on him to re-inflate my heart.
“Look at that,” he says to me, pointing to a remarkable star.
“Look at this,” he says to me, pointing to a blade of grass.
“That is marvelous. This is significant. Can you see?”

(Walt’s body is a bassoon but his voice is a flute)

We are searching for a motive
equivalent to the crime.
We want to wring it out of him.
We want to apply pressure
and a good deal of pain,
in order to make him repent,
to make him feel remorse.
In order to make him human.
But remorse can’t be taught
and no motive exists
that will make sense of this crime.
No humanity resides in him.
None exists in him.
None exists.

Walt’s beard is full of tears.
My beard is full of tears.

He says to me,
“Jason, my words love you.
My words will draw those bullets back into the barrel,
back into the chamber,
back into their casings.”

© Jason Kaufman 2012

bio pictureJason Kaufman is a writer and sculptor living in Mansfield, Ohio with his wife, Jenny, and son, Cormac. He is closely involved with the local art community in Mansfield, where he participates in monthly art critiques and writing workshops, writes reviews of regional art exhibitions, and can often be found battling stage fright at local poetry & prose open mics. Jason is the Art Gallery Director for Relax, It’s Just Coffee and works for Main Street Books, a local independent book store.