Category Archives: Poetry

Threnody [Curt Hopkins]

For Kofi Awoonor, killed in the Westgate shootings in Nairobi, Kenya, on 21 September 2013.

THRENODY 

A poet not of bush but bottle shop,

Just not the kind of bottle shop you think,

In which each starry shelf is lined

With shining ranks, glittering with rime,

Of objects manifold with surfaced time.

There we rhyme and where we make a sign

We cannot be consistently defined,

Oriented as we are upon the infinite.

We cannot die, we cannot die,

We who are the folding sky,

We who broken lie where all the broken bottles lie.

Kofi Awoonor

***

Curt Hopkins is a blogger and freelance journalist in San Francisco. His work has appeared in Christian Science Monitor, Okayafrica, Newsweek, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Bay Guardian, Salon, Los Angeles Times, National Post, New Times, Reuters, ReadWrite, Ars Technica, Daily Dot and others. 

To the Old for the Young [Dwan Shepard]

Striving.
Driven with diligence and energy.
Practicing. Polishing.
Stretching for connection.

In my family and yours, the young ones sniff for a taste of recognition, smelling nothing palatable.
Who can honestly savor the dry grit of rejection or the astringent brine of invisibility?
The illusion of some miraculous current of instant credibility and transcontinental access to an irreversible tide of talent

is not a lie;

it is simply swallowed by a planet-sized ocean of distraction.

Engulfed within this flooding sea,

we struggle for individual buoyancy.
“I am only my own self, and I alone exist,” we proclaim.
Yet the waves tower, their agitation thunderous, the gulls wail and dive, crustaceans clatter and grasp,

fishes writhe and an unrelenting gale simultaneously pries after shining orbs that are windows to our souls.

We construct a resistance against every assaultive appeal for the portals of our vision.
Squinting against wind, ducking under headgear, behind dark brows and ambiguous bangs,

we ward off with one outstretched arm after another.

We flounder indefinitely, accepting brief and counterfeit reprieves from meaningless tropes calling like the Sirens,

only prolonging our misery.

Adrift and exhausted in the vastness,

we bob and gasp ignorantly amidst developing poets and visionaries,

saints and heroes who—despite their eloquence and grace—are embroiled in the foul cyclone of our distraction.

Though castaway together we insult and wound our aspirant heroes, saints, poets, and visionaries

as our attentions drift beyond horizons.
Blind and asquint,

awash in seawater,

we’re unwilling to see or hear them, so occupied are we with our thrashing and wave-making,

angering the gulls and gods at our own peril.

We can cease our desperate dog-paddle and reach out with an open hand.
We can fix our gaze upon some island of truth,

allowing a fair breeze of originality and genius guide us to enriching and replenishing shores.

The noise the waves and shrieks will subside at last to their despicable irrelevance when we focus on something real.

Remarkable human beings live among us.


***

Dwan Shepard started a bicycle company nearly 30 years ago. He has also lent wind to a trombone, scribbled a poem or two, spoken authoritatively here and there, and may pull an odd face.

We Move Like Ghosts [Curt Hopkins]

The world’s stories,

Full of glory,

We told in song

When we were young.

But live enough

Through rough loves,

Stand up beneath

Defeat and grief,

And gilded tales

Begin to pale

Compared to yours.

Years close doors.

We glow like moons

And speak in runes,

We move like ghosts

Struck dumb by gnosis,

Everything else

Eclipsed by self,

Until self itself

Dims in death.

***

Curt Hopkins is a blogger and freelance journalist in San Francisco. His work has appeared in Christian Science Monitor, Okayafrica, Newsweek, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Bay Guardian, Salon, Los Angeles Times, National Post, New Times, Reuters, ReadWrite, Ars Technica, Daily Dot and others. 

***

I met Curt Hopkins at Lenny’s Nosh Bar in Eugene, Oregon, in the mid-eighties. Curt was one of the founding members of Big Time Poetry Theatre, along with Scott Taylor, Gary Schartz, and Steve McQuiddy. 

Even though Curt was Scott’s pal, and he hung around with some of my other poet friends, we always seemed to travel in different circles. But, we knew each as regulars at Lenny’s and he often came into Prince Pücklers across the street where I worked.

One night I poked my head into the back room at Lenny’s and saw Curt, Gary, and Scott studying an evil-looking brew in a coffee cup. I don’t know the vile recipe, but there were cigarette butts floating on the top. I asked what it was and they said, “yucky stew.” 

From that moment, the words “yucky stew” entered the lexicon at Lenny’s. 

After awhile, the term was attributed to Art Blakey, because there was a poster for a show in the room.

~ RLR


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