Archives for posts with tag: Gerald Locklin


Vincent Van Gogh:The Mulberry Tree, 1889
Poem by Gerald Locklin

In the artist’s words,
“Its dense yellow foliage
Was of a magnificent yellow color
Against a very blue sky,
In a white stony field
With sunshine from behind.”
He neglected to mention that
He’d plugged the whole scene into
God’s own infinitely voltaged battery.
No one was ever more alive than he,
It is not just that
He was creative:
He embodied creation…
The creator took possession of him.
Death and life were one;
Both crackled with brain-music.
He may have known something
That we do not, yet,
A reality defying words.
His brain exploded into galaxies. 

Painting: The Mulberry Tree (1889) by Vincent Van Gogh

Find more of Gerald Locklin’s poetry in Gerald Locklin: New and Selected Poems, available here.

by Gerald Locklin

My son has kept his Sunday afternoon
Free to go hear jazz with me.
I swim from noon to two,
Lift a few weights,
Pick him up at quarter-to-three.
I put Sketches of Spain on the
Tape deck of the Taurus as we
Head north on the San Diego Freeway.
He reads his Hemingway—mine too.
Coming over La Cienega, haze and
Glare rise from the whitened basin
But the hills of Hollywood still
Catch one’s breath. Miles moves
Into Solea and my son puts down
His book, broad boulevards almost
Deserted, a corner taco stand,
The side street rows of California
Bungalows: at times L.A. is still
The town of Philip Marlowe,
James M. Cain,
Nathanael West if he had not
Been a New Yorker.

“Not Sunday Afternoon” appears in GERALD LOCKLIN: New and Selected Poems (1967-2007) (Silver Birch Press, 2013), available at

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gerald Locklin is a professor emeritus of English at California State University, Long Beach, where he taught full-time from 1965-2007. He has published fiction, poetry, essays, and reviews prolifically in periodicals and in over 150 books, chapbooks, and broadsides. Recent books include a fiction e-Book, The Sun Also Rises in the Desert, from Mendicant Bookworks; a collection of poems, Deep Meanings: Selected Poems, 2008-2013, from PRESA Press; three simultaneously released novellas from Spout Press; and a French collection of his prose, Candy Bars: Le Dernier des Damnes from 13e Note Press, Paris. Event Horizon Press released new editions of A Simpler Time, A Simpler Place and Hemingway Colloquium: The Poet Goes to Cuba in 2011; Coagula Press released the first of two volumes of his Complete Coagula Poems; and From a Male Perspective appeared from PRESA Press.

Photo: “The Famed Hollywood Sign from Bronson Canyon” by Corey Miller, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

by Gerald Locklin

First in Tucson,
Now at El Cholo in L.A.
On western just south of Olympic,
My wife and I make a point
Of enjoying them once a summer.
Some tamales are not hot.
These are sweet with the syrup
Of young corn, steamed within
The husks.  Even the thin strand
Of a green pepper seems sweet.
Even the morsel of tender chicken
Seems sweet.
Sweet as sweethearts
On the evening promenade
Above the beach at Mazatlan.
Sweet as summer evenings.
Sweet as the respite, the
Renewal, at the end of day.
Think sweetly of green corn tamales,
Remembering that the water of the desert,
Hoarded by the thirsty cactus,
Is the sweetest water.

Reprinted by permission of the author from The Life Force Poems, © Gerald Locklin, 2002, Water Row Press, Sudbury, Massachusetts.

“Green Corn Tamales” by Gerald Locklin appears in the  Silver Birch Press Green Anthology: An Eclectic Collection of Poetry & Prose. The anthology includes poetry, short stories, essays, novel excerpts, and stage play scenes that touch on “green” in one way or another. The Silver Birch Press Green Anthology is available at (free Kindle version until 12/21/13).

Photo: El Cholo, Los Angeles. Visit the restaurant online at

Poem by Gerald Locklin

all the food critics hate iceberg lettuce.
you’d think romaine was descended from
orpheus’s laurel wreath,
you’d think raw spinach had all the nutritional
benefits attributed to it by popeye,
not to mention aesthetic subtleties worthy of
verlaine and debussy.
they’ll even salivate over chopped red cabbage.
just to disparage poor old mr. iceberg lettuce.

I guess the problem is
it’s just too common for them.
it doesn’t matter that it tastes good,
has a satisfying crunchy texture,
holds its freshness,
and has crevices for the dressing,
whereas the darker, leafier varieties
are often bitter, gritty and flat.
it just isn’t different enough and
it’s too goddamn american.

of course a critic has to criticize:
a critic has to have something to say.
perhaps that’s why literary critics
purport to find interesting
so much contemporary poetry
that just bores the shit out of me.

at any rate, I really enjoy a salad
with plenty of chunky iceberg lettuce,
the more the merrier,
drenched in an italian or roquefort dressing.
and the poems I enjoy are those I don’t have
to pretend that I’m enjoying.

Illustration: Alfred Ng. Find more of his work here.

Poem by Gerald Locklin

I saw today, in Coda: The Poets’ and Writers’ Newsletter,
A highly amusing item:

The State University of New York at Binghamton
Is advertising to fill the Chair
Formerly held by John Gardner.

Among the qualifications is that the candidate
Possess “similar achievements” to Gardner’s.

Maybe they haven’t heard in Binghamton
That Hemingway, Faulkner and Edmund Wilson
Are all also dead.

Photo: John Gardner (1933-1982), novelist, essayist, literary critic, university professor. Winner of the 1976 National Book Critics Circle Award for his novel October Light, Gardner was also the author of the critically acclaimed novels The Sunlight Dialogues and Grendel. After Gardner died in a motorcycle accident in 1982 at age 49, Harpur College of Binghampton University issued a classified ad for his replacement — as Gerald Locklin describes in his poem “Shoes to Fill, or Don’t Make Me Laugh.”







will read (and sign) their works

Saturday, October 19, 2013, 7:00 p.m.

Church in Ocean Park

235 Hill St.

Santa Monica, California, 90405

Admission by donation

but no one turned away for lack of funds.

Poem by Gerald Locklin  

When Lassie is introduced  
At half-time of the Mets’
A voice rings out: “It’s an imposter!”

Dave Brubeck:  Indian SummerLondon Flat, London Sharp
Poem by Gerald Locklin

I picked up Dave Brubeck’s latest CD
For two reasons:  Because it’s Brubeck
And because it’s Indian Summer.
He’s 20 years older than I am,
And I came to him, as my generation did,
Via Time Out, fifty years ago.
I’m still playing it, of course;
We all are.
And I’m not sure if I’m in
My Indian Summer or The Winter of my Discontent.
Or Discombobulation.
Dave is aging much more gracefully
And gradually than I am.  He has a less complicated
Existence, perhaps:  more focused on
His music and one woman.
Somehow the fingers of the great pianists
Seem never to get stiff.  I guess there’s a lot
Of truth to “Use it or Lose it.”  I use mine
For writing poems longhand, cupping water
In the YMCA pool, and carrying in those
Plastic bagfuls of groceries.  And frankly,
They hurt like hell.
He’s done the same with his brain,
Still writing  works as different yet pleasing
As the title tune of London Flat, London Sharp,
With the chromatic flats in the descending left hand
And the chromatic sharps (in the other direction: Up)
In the left;   whereas on the new CD we get,
On “So Lonely,” first an eleven-tone row,
And later the full twelve.
This was the same principle
That made Time Out and Miles’ Kind of Blue
Such perennial successes:
Immediately Accessible Innovation.
Sounds simple?
Try to achieve it yourself.
A year ago he wowed me
At a packed Cerritos Center.
Would have “knocked my socks off,”
If they were not compression hose.
Just about killed his only slightly younger sidemen,
Trying to keep up with him,
Trying to figure out what the devil
He was up to.
Tonight he’ll be playing to a sold-out
Hollywood Bowl.  I’m too old to even want
To drive there, deal with the parking,
Climb the concrete stairs to the cheap seats,
Let alone perform there!
He is an inspiration to me, to us all.
I’ll never last as long as he has,
But I’ll do my best to pack all that I can
Into what years Darwin or the Deity
Have set aside for me.
And maybe that will prove to be
The Zen of it:  that you’re too busy
Doing what you’ve always done
To count the passing years.
And thus the Autumn in L.A.
Turns into one long Indian Summer,
And when the Winter comes at last,
It explodes as one last blast
Of Arctic Ecstasy, from the Headmaster of
The School of West Coast Cool.

Originally published in Thank You, Dave: A Brubeck Tribute, Zerx Press, Albuquerque, New Mexico, copyright ©Gerald Locklin. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Read more of Gerald Locklin‘s poetry in Gerald Locklin: New and Selected Poems (1967-2007) (Silver Birch Press, April 2013), available at

by Gerald Locklin

In the aerobics room,
Going nowhere on my treadmill,
While watching a beefy colleague
Climb stairs while remaining in place,
It occurs to me that maybe
What we have instead of 
St. John of the Cross,
The dark night of the soul,
And the subsequent ascent of Mount Carmel,
Is the stepmaster machine.

Drawing: “Relativity” (1953) by M.C. Escher

NIGHTHAWKS, 1942 (excerpt)
by Gerald Locklin

In those days, even the
nighthawks wore suits, not
to mention ties and fedoras.
but notice they were hawks,
not owls…
gangsters? gamblers? police
detectives? private eyes?
…it is a clean place, with
good wood, and it is a source
of light for a dark and empty
downtown neighborhood, where the
second-story shades are drawn
to half-mast.

PAINTING: “Nighthawks” (1942) by Edward Hopper, © The Art Institute of Chicago