November 18, 2017

Julian Talamantez Brolaski, Allison Cobb & Lauren Levin

Saturday, November 18

7 pm


Passages Bookshop

1223 NE ML King, Jr. Blvd.
Portland OR 97232

$5 suggested donation for the readers (no one turned away) 

Julian Talamantez Brolaski is poet and country singer, the author of Macho Chango (forthcoming Wave Books 2018), Of Mongrelitude (Wave Books 2017), Advice for Lovers (City Lights 2012), gowanus atropolis (Ugly Duckling Presse 2011), and co-editor of NO GENDER: Reflections on the Life & Work of kari edwards (Litmus Press / Belladonna Books 2009).  Julian is the lead singer and rhythm guitarist in the bands Juan & the Pines (NYC) and The Western Skyline (Oakland). Julian currently lives in Santa Barbara, researching and editing a book on the Mescalero Apache female initiation ceremony.

Allison Cobb is the author of After We All Died (Ahsahta Press); Green-Wood (Factory School); Plastic: an autobiography (Essay Press EP series); and Born2 (Chax Press). The poet Carolyn Forché calls After We All Died "inventive, visionary, hard-thought, and impossible to put down." Cobb works for the Environmental Defense Fund and lives in Portland, Oregon, where she co-curates The Switch reading, art, and performance series.

Lauren Levin is the author of THE BRAID (Krupskaya) and JUSTICE PIECE/TRANSMISSION (forthcoming, Timeless, Infinite Light 2018). Beginning summer 2018, she will be a columnist at SFMoma's blog Open Space and from 2011-2014 she co-edited the Poetic Labor Project. She is from New Orleans and lives in Richmond, CA.

as the owl augurs
    for Inés Talamantez

I have an hour to read marcabru and fall in love
to study the medicines and put a rock in each corner of the house
and pray over it with pollen as my elder advised
to test my unextraordinary knowledgeses
to briefly wonder whether I was actually under a spell
to write my poem about being a mongrel
I must love even the fox that impedes my path
n jettison my former ire n any gesture toward abstraction
n go to the dump finally w/ the disused bicycle tires and the broken antlers and the cracked stained glass of a ship that formerly I wdve harbored because I did not love myself
but the broken shelf
I want namore of it
the jangle-mongrel and the rose and the ndn cowboy that layall closeted
along w/ my availablility to my own mind and the killings of our familyes queer and black and brown and ndn
slaughter at orlando symbol of our hermitude
massacre at aravaipa  'ashdla a cho o aa  big sycamore standing there
bear river  sand creek  tulsa  rosewood
n when I finally sussed them out
n laid the tequila in its proper trash
n attempted to corral the pony of my mind
they say the ohlone were here as if
there were no more ohlone
erected a fake shellmound called it shellmound avenue
my friends dont like that
my friends dont like that excrement
it's not like youd give away the algorithm, my bf pointed out,
to the one yr tryin to put a spell on
marcabru uses the word 'mestissa' to describe the shepherdess his dickish narrator is poorly courting
which paden translates 'half-breed' and pound 'low-born' and snodgrass 'lassie' but I want to say mongrel, mestiza, mixedbreed
melissima most honeyed most songful
what catullus called his boyfriend's eyes
honey the color of my dead dog's eyes the stomach of the bee
I'm going to gather pollen from the cattails in a week or two
to pray to the the plant tell it I'm only taking what I need
use a coathanger to hook the ones far from shore
filter it thru chiffon four times
what is love
but a constellation of significances
lyke-like magic
los cavecs noa aüra  as the owl augurs
one gapes at a painting
the other waits for mahanna

Julian Talamantez Brolaski

For Love

I was born

because of love

inside a weapons lab.

The End--



the town, the little

boxes lit along

the cliffs. For love

the men awake

and cross

the bridge to labor

on their bombs

for love. For love

becomes a body

in the world. And fear.

A fear comes with it

to the world, a cry

in air burst first

from lungs. And grief,

the instant born,

the shape of what

will come, the shape

of what they'd seen. Become

then students of

the sun, to will that

fire here to burn. The bomb

makers always burned

with so much love--the father

pillars of my child self

in church who prayed

the sun to earth

to burn up


for love. For love

-fused fear.

For grief.

Allison Cobb

from Justice Piece

You can love making containers that things can grow inside
you can love watching the things grow
and still realize how much work it is

As an allegorical figure, I overlap with myself roughly.
As the space of caring and empathy
and of sensational lack.
What do I want what methods do I have in my jurisdiction
how should I get it

Notorious Boston mobster James 'Whitey' Bulger penned a letter
to some teenage girls from prison
saying "I only know one thing for sure -
if you want to make crime pay, go to law school."

Aristotle thinks that the best flutes should go to the best flute players
because that's what flutes are for - to be played well.

So to know how to apportion justice

You have to know what things are for.
A tumbles around in her crib saying
"I'm a little baby customer!"

When to write the essay on compulsory male pregnancy.
When to write the essay on Amy Schumer's Twelve Angry Men parody.
When to write the essay about gardening and shame.

So, T persuaded me into a morning of yard-work.
I always want to have a garden but when it comes time
to use my time outside my day job I want to read and write
and will consent to only the absolute bare minimum of labor
to reproduce my life and the part of A's life that T doesn't care for
and A herself cannot care for. I've started and killed several gardens
out of my feckless desire to differently imagine myself and my time
and the shame I feel when we do the work
of trimming back and carting out the dead stuff is endless.
T jokes that we should plant a 'bone garden.' It would be rocks and bones.
The dirty house, spaces that can't ever get really clean
encrusted with fallen layers of food,
coated spaces between fridge and oven, residue
the persistence of the crumbs at the border of the rug and the sofa,
in a way, it's a refusal to erase work. All the work of the meals.
The constant cleaning needed to hide the facts of domestic work,
its endless return and its decay. What you are supposed to do is erasure.

This reminds me of justice. I don't know how to explain why.
But it's like the refusal to hide that justice is made of rotting parts.

Lauren Levin