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The News Factory Q&A

July 6, 2011 in Poets At Work

the news factory qa

What is The News Factory about?

The News Factory is collection of stories of some of New York City’s most brilliant personalities, people who will never be in feature films or hit the pop charts but who are brilliant, with wonderful ideas, artistic talents, story tellers, musicians and so on. In many ways the stories told in this collection of works, mostly told through poetry, is about the soul of what New York city used to be about, a place to be yourself without putting on airs. The collective meaning of this book is also about what is lost with the white washing of history that comes with gentrification. In many ways this is the most personal of my three books.

What kind of characters are you talking about?

Well it varies from the local corner book seller to SRO tenants. In one case I mention a homeless woman who met on 91st and Broadway about 4 years ago who was a former Glamour Magazine model from the 1980s and who now has AIDS, assuming she is still alive. But I also mention the neighborhood dog walker and so on.

What do you mean this is your most personal of your three books?

I mean the subjects of this poetry and short story collection really holds a lot of meaning for me, I’ve put many of my friends in there – and enemies too; landlords who hire goons and thugs to drive tenants from their buildings. I mean these operations have real psychological implications for those who have to deal with it. I’ve seen it happen to my now former neighbors, many of whom still live in my old building. Horrible.

I also feel a certain amount of remorse for the death of the porn houses that use to be in Times Square or the live shows you could see in the back room booths on 8th Ave until recently. It really was part of the scene but they’re gone now. I don’t think you can really label those guys who went to see these shows perverts, most of them were really lonely or just had a healthy sexual appetite. And like the housing issue this was something I felt close to.

Wouldn’t you agree that change is a part of life and some loss is inevitable?

Well in part yes, everything changes but that does not mean that every story has to be whitewashed from history or that neighborhoods have to disappear altogether because some out-of-towner wants to make a killing in the housing market. As it is no one can live here for very long without rent regulation and what kind of change is that? It is recipe for utter disaster which comes with the death of communities. As it is New York is becoming like Paris or London; “Museum cities”.

The News Factory is a chronicle of those stories which are far too easily erased from consciousness or just never known.

In your first two books “Last American Roar” and “Organic Hotels” you had a definite political tone to your work, mostly concerning international issues. With the N.F. you seem to focus on local life. Why did you make that change?

That’s where my focus has been for past few years. Plus when you meet people going through the same things, it is these experiences that become real to you. I feel for the Iraqis and Afghanis and so on. Truth is I can’t imagine the hell which their lives have been reduced to. The same things can be said for the Palestinians who tend to be seen as less than human by the international community these days. My heart goes out to them but, we have a war on the working class in this country and it is our neighbors who are being greatly affected.

What do you think your readers will get out of your poetry and stories?

They will have a whole world opened up to them; the world they already live in – which may be surprising. But, more importantly, I think they will be treated to an adventure where the landscape becomes cerebral and allows the reader to delve into their own fears and apprehensions. But most important, this book is an introduction to everyday people and the humor of their lives.

Humor?

There is a lot of humor in this book. In one fictionalized story a young man is visited by a giant cockroach which forces him into a modern day “Old Man and the Sea” tale. He tears about his room to get at the insect and at the same time has a mental break down. Anyone who has been in a roach invested apartment can tell you, that problem can drive you absolutely mad.

When should be expect the release of this book?

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A Short Opera

June 25, 2011 in Poets At Work

a short opera

 

 

 

(to be sung by a man)

Paul lives like a squatter in his own body
his ghost walks along the Hudson park
playing his guitar and making love to the city

Which has forgotten him as a one more piece of graffiti

On  back the walls of CBGBs .
His eyes work best under the low hanging

Lights of reflections

Of putting on make up before each show

Every mirror lacked the static

Created by those who hate

What comes back on them

In those reflections.
He says,
“there is nowhere else I’d rather live
then the upper west side.”
But
no plan lasts forever.

 

(to be sung by a woman)

 

In the cranium sits the hour

which cuts everyone down to size

with the perfect clarity that he’s hung out here for

too long

in rooms which consumes

those who have never learned how to lose well

and every hope that all directions come to a single point vanishes

no matter how many songs he writes.

There are no seas

In a mind which turns back on itself

Like 45s which now sit only on the bottom

Of trash piles that hide his floor,

only the drainage of those hours

which take the form of a gun that is always

loaded

and pointed at the heart which beats in empty space.

Its waters

flows under the pressure

of living between the lines

of the

wards

(where the price of admission is your name which is so easily spent

In the Lightning storms between the synapses.

This is the birth of those dreams with edges that make the perfect cut

every time in all directions,)

stacks of eviction notices

intrusion of cheap music from the other side of the walls

and the fear of

what moves on the other side of his door

who is coming through that door.

 

(man and woman sing together)

There’s just so many
sleepless nights that he can keep it together
before the oceans of insomnia
washes him away
back into the cold embrace of Saint Luke’s

where his ruin sits like a pearl that is carefully placed so far below

or his greatest art only waiting for a signature.

“Ok it’s meds time! Youall get in line.”

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Ode To The Upper West Side

June 25, 2011 in Poets At Work

ode to the upper west side

By Matthew Abuelo

 

 

 

What do you see?
What do you see?
What do you see when you lift the drawn shades?
What kills your reluctance
to performing without
the fear of riding the
express line to common bathrooms
in dead residences.
All of those around you were born
in the season of genius.

2
Bernie the crier still performs his gimmicks on his knees
in mid-town
as an intrusion to
the senses of all the beautiful people
who smile lightly behind drawn shades.
He can turn the tears
on and off
to attract the tourists
for a quick dollar
or the remains of one’s dinner.

This game does not work
in the Subways
where everything is allowed
but nothing is permitted
and the conductors become ghosts
of the tubes vanishing into the brief points of light
from the A Train.

3
Zoe is at it again
walking her dogs for pay
keeping her ear to the concrete
to hear the drum beat of
another developer
whose only love
is to pave over
those who made the scene
and knew how to play the part.
She seems so out of place
she feels like a guest in her own skin
waiting for the eviction notice
and the coming
of the true owner of her body
who seems to have been gone
far too long
like the wandering Jew.
Zoe still
throws her fortunes to a theater
of incense,
and an audience who lives on their knees
and
whose minds expand
into their
guru’s dark room
and burn themselves
into photographs
where the pain
is still
in time
only to drift into the Hudson
riding the tides
beyond the grid
of West 86th Street to
midtown.
The chimes promised transcendence
but
those inside
that temple
only found wings
which carried them to
otherwise empty staircases
which do not care for
your coming
or going
up
or
down.
don’t make too much noise
though
because unlike
each stair
your neighbors do not sleep to hide your presence
but slowly grow mad
while living as shut-ins
in their rooms.
This show is not new
it’s old
here
There are no marquees
or the bright lights of Broadway
only the silent testimonies
of those who sold out
to the brown and tattooed thumb of the Guru Mai.
But Zoe will always surrender to
the hotel that took her beauty
as she smiles after being left behind.
Her face will never dissolve from here
like gray smoke in a rain storm
but it will remain like a finger print in time
which governs where she lives.

5
Karen still is stuck out on the island
where the fury of Ennui
which breeds at the cellular level
turning all female minds numb
drained
and used
giving boredom color and weight.
Love here will always turn back on you
like a wild animal that you trusted too long.
In this waste land
all identities and
the pain of being human
break at the property line
and roll back in the waves

6
Me
I’m the room
down the hall
where
Images and Ideas
are stored like newspapers strewn along the floor
and cracked 45s
the kept us all company when
radio died.

This ceiling is designed
for fly paper chandeliers
which secures the last outbreak
Of each year
That comes as a farewell to the summer
And welcomes in the fall.

Each story belongs
to everyone one I’ve stolen from
with a pen or a keyboard.
There is too much stored here to forget
but
the connections have dried up
since we left for Washington Heights
where the real rent
is the payment that the gringo must
pay for his anonymity.
No one here has a name
and the only thing left
is to
pass like a dead jelly fish into the sea.
This room has grown cold
all the radiators bled
and everything saved
frozen in time.
This is preservation
turning all ideas
as pure as photographs taken
on the last ship
to Ellis Island.
Heat
that’s where it all breaks down
turning everything you know to ruin.
The only thing I release from these doors which have formed
two lips under a mustache and beard
are dormant ideas
that gasp to be known
on the sidewalks
at readings
never in universities
where only winter
is the season which meets these words
and sentences never form in the frozen air
of politeness.

There is a price for staying too long
in this place
to consume the images of those
who will impose the hell
of needing you
the cruelest of all animals
and
to watch your vanishing
complexities as they disappear
into the rooms of shut-ins.
The hours of isolation
which we hold between our thighs
are plucked from our day
by the friendliest
Thieves.
There is no color of being used
only the gray winter of
writers block

Do you know this dance?
Never to be sold
there is no money to
be made here.
I’ll take the book seller
who sits by the curb
or the hoarder who hasn’t been seen for six days.
You can take the clubs
the sweets and the over priced rooms
you take the con which comes through in
the waves of ads
and
Movies made for those
who only know how to be truly strange
behind drawn shades.

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