Posts Tagged ‘ Surreal ’

Two Poems

There’s not a lot to say about these. One of them was written yesterday, and the other one came together a few hours ago. I try to get come up with somewhere in the neighborhood of ten to eighteen poems in a given month. God knows if that qualifies as ambitious. I guess the great affection for writing poetry is that it gives me something to do between larger projects.

I can go days without writing sometimes (self-loathing and all that), but I never like to. It’s best that I have some project on the table as often as possible. I guess that’s why things like acting, stand-up and the like are so welcome. My mindset is such that I should always be working, always trying to get something off the ground. The idea is to keep moving forever, or to at least kid myself into thinking I can do that.

It’s fun.



I like how these two turned out. Poetry lets me play around with imagery that generally doesn’t work as well in fiction.

Looking to get back into that blasted movie challenge this coming week. That should be fun, too.

I’m all about fun tonight. I’d rather be kicking around New York, Santa Fe or some other place. I’d rather be getting into trouble and having very little show for it. Things have been slow lately, and that tends to bug the living shit out of me.

Ah well. I guess we’ll just settle for whatever’s around.

Heaven and Heck
By Gabriel Ricard

It’s getting to where I don’t even have to
pull myself up as best I can, chase them down
and ask as kindly as possible why it was necessary
to skip the hello, work wonders on my ribs
with a pair of Chinese finger trap brass knuckles
and leave without the courtesy of a forwarding address.

I used to try. I used to faintly remember them
from one of those get-togethers,
where I’m more likely to regret the songs I mouthed the words to in the kitchen.
Instead of some stupid fire that took over the living room.
Or some strip-Life game that turned into a reasonably kinky puppet show.

That psychic tab is going to haunt me until the day I stop dying.

Watch me count my closest cohorts on one hand,
and still have enough fingers left over for a midnight cooking accident.

You can’t impress everybody,
and in trying to do so
I’ve had to accept that I may not be able
to go out to dinner in peace.

Or go grocery shopping
without waking up in a freezer,
surrounded by peas and carrots
and wondering what in the hell just happened.

People lose their goddamn minds in the summer,
but I’ve run into this kind of thing
in November, too.

It used to scare me to death.
This was back when I took medication,
bothered nuns on the televised streets for guidance
and could sit through an entire stranger’s funeral,
without starting a food fight.

Then I just got used to it. Sleeping alone
six days out of the week ain’t so bad,
and when the bad dreams drop me into a thin room in the long dark
I can actually figure out where and when I am
about half of the time.

I’ll do whatever it takes,
put up with anything
to keep my place as a guest motivational speaker
on the misadventure circuit.

That’s not destroying the candle from the inside-out.
That’s called progress, baby.
Eggs for a Rainy Month
By Gabriel Ricard

Anger management classes that turn into basement weddings
are a lot like those desperate Friday night football games.

In one of those desperate Texas towns
that’s taken to adding a few landmines
to bring back the roar of the crowd,
the benign drug-dealers
and deformed cheerleaders selling auto-parts.

They’re the same,
in that I’d rather not be at either one
ever again.

I wasn’t even invited,
but I still have to take these things and more
and turn them into deeply personal stories.

My substantial,
useless free time is spent standing in the doorway
and assuming an earthquake might eventually
shake Richmond, Virginia out of its enlightened cowboy boots
and into the Pacific.

Although sometimes,
I’ll be in Annapolis or Seattle
and just drink enough to think
I’m in Richmond, Virginia.

My psychic ex-girlfriend laughs
until her ribs cave in,
every time I stupidly call to tell her all about it.

She tells me
that it means the stars are seriously looking
to fuck me over
when the tires burst,
and I’m out of gas
in Death Valley’s hallucinatory metropolitan masterpiece.

It’s okay. She’s probably right about that.
And about being liked when I’ve been gone for a month
than being loved when all eyes are on me,
and the chandeliers up top are meeting
the mousetraps on the floor for a compromise.

I never get invited to anything,
and it wasn’t until I learned how to live on traveling
constantly that I finally did something about it.

It’s that one summer vacation from my childhood
where every day was someone else’s two-day birthday party
all over again.

You learn to find a way in.
You work on two-part jokes
when the cops show up
and want to know
why your fiancé pulled a butcher knife
on the downstairs neighbors.

It’s better to sneak in the front door,
steal some eggs for a rainy month,
seek forgiveness from the host
and remember to thank any women,
who toss you out on your ear.

You meet a lot of fascinating people that way,
and some of them even take you out to breakfast
at gun-point.

Two Poems

The great plan/dream/etc is to run a short story, and I’m thinking I’ll knock that out this week, maybe run something random after that, and then get back into those damn movie challenge reviews that I’ve slowly starting to hate writing.

I’m determined to finish the damn thing though. The only upshot of being obsessive (besides the chain-smoking) is that I usually finish projects I’ve started. This is true of much of my life, but it’s at least a positive with writing and acting.

These are the last two poems I’ve written. I have around 2000 in the vaults. Of those there’s probably fifty or sixty making the rounds to literary journals and the like. The challenge is always trying to figure out what to send. There’s a bunch of stuff that will probably never see the light of day, because I’m too lazy to go through the entire folder (collecting every poem I’ve written from about 2002 to the present), so I’m always wondering if there’s some magic poem in the folder that wouldn’t turn it all around for me. Bring along that fame and fortune that will finally bring me that, what’s the word, happiness I’ve been hearing other people talk about.

I also don’t like focusing on poetry too much. I’m usually trying to push the short stories, novels and scripts a lot more.

A note on the tags: It’s not that I think my work is as good as these writers. I’m just listing influences. Writers, musicians and even films that have strongly influenced every aspect of my writing (and sometimes even with the acting). I’m also hoping the tags will help more people find this blog. An audience isn’t essential, but it’s nice to know sometimes that people are digging what you’re up to.


And A Chest to Pin It On
By Gabriel Ricard

My life hasn’t been just weird dinner parties
that turn violent in the backseat.
Just before the million-car pileup and leaving the emergency room
in a fury of hooks and shouting,
because I’d rather leave like that than quietly and alone.

Tuesdays are a bat out of a barnyard Heaven.
You know what I mean?

They’re worse than Fridays,
and how the train station is only everywhere
from four a.m. to nine p.m.

My life is more than hoping, praying
for a time to come soon when I’m again unfamiliar
with my surroundings
for five thousand miles in every direction.

It’s not just taking Adderall and ordering off-the-menu
Irish Coffee at IHOP,
because I’m not interested in the wild stuff anymore.

I have a very good reason
for not speaking to one of my brothers anymore.

I’m better than all of that,
and it shouldn’t work against me
that all of the witnesses have mysteriously disappeared
over the years.

Some good stuff has happened, too.
I’m selfish, but I could never commit
to being habitual about it. Sociopaths
get even less vacation time than I do.

There was even one time
when I kept someone alive
for at least five more hours.

It’s not that I’m trying to be carried out of the room by starlets.
I’d just like to be able to even the score while there’s still time.

She was ripping her hair out,
twisting the legs off the dolls in the baby’s room
and screaming
into a broken smartphone.

I stumbled through the crowd,
made it to her with seconds to spare
and whispered something in her ear.

Can’t remember what is was now,
but it worked well enough. She calmed down,
apologized for not getting being better
at getting attention, and we spent most of the night
and morning talking.

Don’t remember the details of that either,
but she was in good atheist spirits
when I put her in a cab and told the driver
not to stop until they got to Knoxville.

That just seemed like the right distance
away from this town.

Most of us wouldn’t dream
of making travel plans so ambitious
even if we were deathly homesick.

I have no idea what happened to her after that,
but I was able to keep her going for those five hours,
and that’s something better than whatever comes before nothing.

Pride isn’t something I’m fond of anymore.
I think it’s just nice to be needed
once in a while.

Monkeys Forgive My Sins
By Gabriel Ricard

It had only been a couple of hours,
but I had a really good feeling
about her. The energy was something
special, kiddo.

The streetlights became a thunderstorm of fire.
The sun knew when to take a third-round dive.
The news channels took their technical difficulties to heart.

I could even smoke
if I opened a window
and didn’t say anything to hurt the mailman’s feelings.

She could do impressions
and always kept the room at sixty-five degrees.

I was in love, you know?
I was doing well, considering I had only been awake
for a couple of years at that point.

My expectations for adventure when I’m breaking
into the gas station for cigarettes and cough syrup
are not spectacular. I’m usually happy
to just get what I need from life and get home
before the heat wave meets the blizzard,
and all of it splits the sky’s back like three anorexic twigs.

I didn’t expect to run into someone like her,
and I didn’t know you could live in this part of town
without sweating it out in the minor-league rehabs first.

Her legs were fantastic and not in the least dangerous.
I’m still willing to say that.

An hour to feel comfortable around her
then another hour to fall head over heels
and shake off the concussion almost immediately.

It took a lot less time to nod slowly,
kiss her throat, excuse myself to the bathroom
and never, ever come back.

Maybe I’m prejudiced.

I could have loaned her my grandmother’s ring
and hung in there for twenty more years,
just to be sure.

Panic is the only consistent justice I believe in.
It set when she told me that for an extra five hundred,
she would nail my hands to the desk and paint my portrait.

I used to have an open mind.
I’m a champion Hide and Seek player
with the Civil War ghosts at second-to-last old high school.

It may well go down in history as a real shame.
I ducked out of there, stole a cab from an old woman
and stashed myself and my good fortunes
at a grocery store that’s been renovating since 1948.

No one needed to tell me I was a fool.
I drank warm beer in the aisles and wrote dirty limericks
on the linoleum floor. I knew it was going to be a long
damn time before I ever fell in love again.

And I was right.
Forty-five minutes went by,
until I finally noticed the girl
at the thirty-aspirations-or-less counter
screaming in Chinese
and threatening everyone in her line with a shotgun.

She had kind eyes.
I was thinking about this,
as I scribbled my number
on the back of an old bus ticket
and confidently made my way towards her.


Thirty-Day Movie Challenge: Day Ten

30 Day Movie Challenge:

Day Ten: Favorite Foreign Film
Survive Style 5+ (2004)
Directed by: Gen Sekiguchi
Starring: Tadanobu Asano, Kyôko Koizumi, Vinnie Jones, Ittoku Kishibe

With foreign films I’ve run into people from both ends of the spectrum. There are those who refuse to watch them, because of the reading involved. I used to think that was a joke from movies and TV shows. It’s a little disheartening when you come to realize it’s not. Then there are people who refuse to watch anything but foreign films. It’s their contention that anything in their own language could never possibly have the depth, humor, pathos, meaning and integrity of something by a director like Kurosawa or Ingmar Bergman.

Neither of those perspectives has ever made a lot of sense to me. One strikes me as ignorant and narrow, and the other strikes me as both of those things and also just a wee bit pretentious. It’s hard for me to imagine limiting myself that severely with what I might enjoy. It goes back to what I said in the review of Dancer in the Dark about trying to do away with those stupid prejudices when it comes to movies and the like. It’s good to know what you dig, but it’s a shame to miss out on the potential to be completely blown-away by something you didn’t expect to enjoy. With things like Netflix Instant Watch, Hulu, YouTube and all the rest there’s really no excuse for not taking a few chances. I sure as hell wish that stuff had existed when all I had to go on were crappy video stores and depressingly limited movie channels.

That makes me sound like the kind of old-timer who lives on his front porch with a bottle of Old Crow, a carton of cigarettes and decades of bitterness to keep them company. That might be me in thirty more years, but I’d like to think I’m not there just yet.

Survive Style 5+ is not actually my favorite foreign film of all time, but I do have what I think is a pretty good reason for choosing it. Picking a single favorite above all the others would have been as difficult as the overall favorite from day one. Most likely it would have come down to a four-way tie between The Seventh Seal, Children of Paradise, Suspiria, and Yojimbo. What struck me as more appealing was to go with a favorite that’s never really gotten a lot of attention since its release seven years ago. Survive Style 5+ is something of a forgotten gem. It’s not going to be for everybody, but it’s at least worth a try.

Something bad is about to happen. I think we can all sense that from this picture alone.

Japan has a well-deserved reputation for having elements in their popular culture that seem to Western audiences like an acid trap without any acid for miles. A lot of it finds a strong audience in this neck of the world. Some of it winds up only appealing to weirdoes like me. Survive Style 5+ is very distinctly the product of its country, but it’s not wholly outside of what you’re likely familiar with. If you want to look at it as an alternative take on movies like Pulp Fiction or the early Guy Ritchie crime films (the presence of Vinnie Jones in Survive Style 5+ then begins to make sense), then that’s as good a way as any to get your foot in the door. Keep in mind though that this is a movie that is playing within its own small universe. First-time director Gen Sekiguchi and screenwriter Taku Tada have their own way of dictating the movie’s delirious pace, odd characters and bizarre storytelling. You’re either going to be on board it, or you’re not. It seems like pure insanity from its reckless beginning to surreal end, but that’s perhaps the genius of Sekiguchi and Tada. Tada’s script contains several characters and stories whose paths occasionally interact (some more closely than others) throughout. Sekiguchi does a brilliant job of juggling the parts that have some bearing on the characters and stories with the parts that seem exist for no particular reason but to add to movie’s brightly-colored, madhouse personality. He keeps us moving as the movie constantly veers into stranger and stranger territory.

Don’t worry too much about sorting out the meaningful parts from the sheer nonsense. The trick is to just sit back and relax. See how the first ten minutes treat you. We meet a man (the hilarious Tadanobu Asano) who has murdered his wife (Reika Hashimoto) and is burying her out in the woods. We never learn the reason why. What we do learn is that when he goes home, she’s there waiting for him with a giant meal she’s prepared. Most of us would call Max Von Sydow at this point. This poor, potentially dim bastard eats the entire meal, lights a cigarette and then seems surprised when his zombie (?) wife knocks him on his ass and tries to kill him. He manages to kill and bury her again, and from there seems less and less surprised that she keeps coming back for vengeance. Each time she returns with a new, completely unexplained super power (like fire) of some kind.

That’s just one story, and it touches on several of the others. It’s a jumping point to an advertising executive (the very funny Kyôko Koizumi), whose commercials seem to be more obsessed with being off-the-wall and clever than they do with actually selling the product (this is illustrated so well in a couple of scenes in which she is presenting her ads to a company president played by the legendary Sonny Chiba in a memorable cameo). She sleeps with an arrogant, dense hypnotist (Hiroshi Abe), but then hires a hit man (Vinnie Jones, playing his thug persona for strong laughs) when Abe makes fun of her afterwards. Vinnie spends most of his time with a translator (Yoshiyoshi Arakawa) asking strangers and victims alike what they feel their function on this planet is. He still carries out the hit on Abe, but not before Abe hypnotizes a hapless, kind businessman (Ittoku Kishibe) into thinking he’s a bird on a live TV show. Kishibe then spends the rest of the movie putting his family through hell as the most depressed man-bird in film history (there might be more of them in cinema—I don’t want to be presumptuous). The way he meets Asano at the end is magnificent and must be seen to be believed. Within all this is also a trio of robbers (Jai West, Yoshiyuki Morishita and Kanji Tsuda) struggling with their current career choice. In the case of Morishita there’s an additional struggle with feelings for West told throughout the film with drinking games and staring contests put to sexual techno songs in the background. It plays out as the sweetest subplot in the entire movie.

This exact thing has happened to me many, many, many times.

All of this amounts to merely the basics of Survive Style 5+. Other unreal touches include actually seeing several of Koizumi’s commercial ideas that ramble around in her head, Abe’s disturbing stage show and medical science having pretty much no clue as to how to cure Kishibe’s condition. Just remember that not everything has a point here. If you’re addicted after those first ten minutes, then you’re probably going to be fine with that.

Survive Style 5+ won out, because I remembered the sheer wonderful surprise of watching this for the first time. It was at one of my first Anime conventions, and I didn’t know a single thing about it. There were no expectations. In fact I can’t even recall why I was in that video room to begin with. I do know that I was in for the long haul after those first ten minutes. I don’ think I’m special for immediately understanding that this movie was going to exist in its own universe. It simply worked for me.  You’re going to miss out if you at least don’t try to see if it works for you, too. Anyone who wants to stop by is more than welcome to.  Survive Style 5+ has the door wide open, and the first step after walking through is as much of a dozy as any other. This is a movie that deserves a lot more attention than it seems to get.