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Christopher Luna reads "Right Off (After Miles)" with harpist Jennifer Pratt-Walter

Christopher Luna reads "Right Off (After Miles)" with harpist Jennifer Pratt-Walter

Saturday, April 5, 2014

"A Lot of Art is Simply Being a Loudmouth"





Sue Graham Mingus on her husband Charles: “See, his motives are right. This is the whole thing. See, the means he uses can be outrageous. If you were to look at the way he does a lot of things you might say, ‘What the hell, this is impossible. You know, you can’t deal with people on this level.’ But his motives are always right, and I think that’s what people respect about him; and they understand that maybe he doesn’t handle things the best way, but they know it’s from the heart and they simply put up with it….Most people don’t live as full a life as Charles does. He is inhibited about very few things, and he lives out his feelings, he lives out his doubts, he lives out his angers. See, most of us have learned to curb certain things, control certain things….That’s partly what an artist does anyway. You know, a lot of art is simply being a loudmouth. Saying everything, spitting it all out, getting out all your feelings, examining them—and eventually certain truths become apparent. You know, most people don’t expose themselves all the time, but that’s how you do find art. You know, it can be at the expense of a lot of people around you when you are doing this, but this is an artistic need.” From John F. Goodman’s Mingus Speaks, University of California Press, 2013.   

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Shaking Hands, a new Pulitzer Remix E-Chapbook by Christopher Luna and Josh Medsker


Twenty Four Hours Zine presents Shaking Hands, a new e-chapbook featuring poems from Christopher Luna's April 2013 Pulitzer Remix of Norman Mailer's The Executioner's Song, and Josh Medsker's remix of Upton Sinclair's Dragon's Teeth. Cover by Justin Bacolo:


Saturday, February 22, 2014

This Is What You Missed

This Is What You Missed
a poem arranged from thoughts and phrases 
contemplated and heard at Paper Tiger Coffee
Vancouver, WA
February 19, 2014

Part One: What I Can Do With Seventeen Bucks (Jack McCarthy)

Lack of self-awareness can be critical. May never change. Those not willing to learn from their equipment should have it taken away. Do you hear that? "Something unspeakable in the corner" (Douglas Adams). Piercing squall worms its way into the ear. In the wrong hands, feedback is a weapon. Immortals accomplish metamorphosis, one word/phrase at a time. "Cultivate other people's sanity" (Jack McCarthy). 

"It is so exciting to be around a poet, because you never know what's going to be birthed. A true hero's journey. It's phenomenal for a poet to do that well. Even got a royalty check this year" (Carol McCarthy).    

Part Two:  Cosmic Temple of Divine Love

If you're from Santa Fe, you must introduce yourself. "I have one of those lax personalities, that I'm influenced very easily" (Jim Martin). "I do a lot of writing. Just ask Linda" (Joyce Colson). If I lean too close to David, we may tear a hole in the space-time continuum. "Tsunami" overheard. "Another portrait of a female of a very different kind. A slightly different vehicle carving up the ice" (Wayne Lee). "Getting all excited" (Herb Stokes). "Don't even plow" (Jack McCarthy). "Lived in the 18th Century, I don't remember" (Wayne Lee). Not at this time. Not this time. Not time. No time. No me. Love.      

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Benign Positional Vertigo Blues: In which I am saved by Mike G, the Poet of Steel


Yesterday was a strange, frightening, and beautiful day. Grateful to be alive to continue to experience this beautiful universe with all of you. Yesterday around 3:30, I wasn’t sure whether I was going to make it.

Tip of the Truth-and-Beauty cap to pianist/composer Beth Karp, whom I met at Saint David of Wales Episcopal Church to work on musical accompaniment for a few of my poems including “magic taken seriously,” “Alliteration is not a Nightclub,” and “Burnt Retina. Beth is a talented performer and composer. She played me some of her film scores for silent movies, including part of her score for The Golem. I appreciated her ability to find the perfect music for a poem, whether it was Bartok, Tchaikovsky, Ives, or her own composition or improvisation. She also taught me a lot about Classical, Jazz, and modern music in a short time. We had great conversations about the nature of swing and soul, and the history of music and how it changes as cultures collide and mix. I had a great time working with Beth, and look forward to performing with her in the near future.

At around 3:30 I left the church and headed toward Gladstone Pub to meet my friend Mike G. Mike and I are both poets, and both of us take performing very seriously. We had been talking about how we only see each other at readings and wanted some time to just sit and talk, so I offered to buy him dinner. I was looking forward to hanging out with him. Afterward, we had planned to attend Johnny No Bueno’s Them’s Fightin’ Words open mic at St. Johns Booksellers.

As I was driving on Cesar Chavez, the world began to spin. I didn’t understand what was happening, but I knew that I could no longer drive safely. I pulled over onto Kelly and attempted to get out of the car. I found that I could not stand up straight without holding onto the car. I thought I might be suffering from dehydration. I tried drinking some water, but it didn’t help. I stumbled to the curb and sat down. I ate an apple and waited for the dizziness to subside, but it only got worse.

No one stopped to help me. I may have looked fine, sitting on the grass with my apple. I began to panic. My mind raced. I began sweating profusely. I ruled out a heart attack, because I had none of the symptoms. I had no chest pain, and I was breathing normally. I knew something was very wrong with me. Toni was in Vancouver; still, I tried her first. Toni always seems to know what to do. She wasn’t home. Then I remembered that the pub was not far from where Mike lives, and that he was probably on his way.

I called Mike, and he handled the crisis perfectly. He remained calm, and helped me to keep calm even as the symptoms became more extreme. He kept me on the line as he made his way down Cesar Chavez. He even stayed on the line as I began puking my guts out. Mike found me. He called his housemate to get directions to Providence Medical Center. I gave Mike the keys and although he hadn’t driven in a year, he got me there safely. One of the things I remember him saying to me was that driving is something you never forget.

If I had to be saved by a poet, I would want it to be someone like Mike G, a man possessed of colossal intelligence and heart.

I was impressed with the care I received at the hospital. Everyone was nice and compassionate. I was a little pissed when someone at the front desk asked me my birthdate even as I was puking into a bag that resembles a large blue female condom. There was also a glitch when three consecutive scanners were unable to read the results of one of my tests, which apparently magically resided in the bar code on my wrist band. Mike and I both wondered aloud how such tests were conducted before bar codes and computers. There must be an analog way of doing it. My chest was so wet from all the sweating that the tape for the EKG kept slipping.

The dizziness was so intense that I could not open my eyes. Opening my eyes or moving made the vertigo worse. So I heard more than I saw. Perhaps this was a blessing. I couldn’t see any of the other sick people, or the perplexed looks on the faces of my doctors and nurses. I was vomiting so violently that I pulled a needle out of my arm. Eventually I was moved into a room and Toni arrived. I was given valium, fluids, and a chewable anti-nausea pill.

My sense of time was off. I think that I slipped in and out of consciousness several times.

I was taken for a CAT scan. Later a doctor informed me that I had experienced benign positional vertigo, which is common and unavoidable. It could have been caused by a virus, and it should go away soon. I am among the uninsured, so I am not eager to see what my bill is going to be. But I am relieved to learn that my heart and brain activity is normal.       

Today I am chilling out on the couch, as per doctor’s orders. I am on valium and another drug that helps with the dizziness. An experience like this can’t help but make you think about what’s important. I am glad that it was not something more serious. I am grateful for Mike G, and Toni, and the staff at Providence. I am grateful for my family and friends. I am happy to be alive. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Found Poem Based on the Dalai Lama's Talk at Veteran's Memorial Coliseum in Portland on May 11, 2013

30 Lessons: His Holiness The Dalai Lama
addresses 11,000 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Portland, OR
recounted with love and as little parapharasing as possible
by Christopher Luna

1.
sit down:
galaxy is moving

things are, you see, impermanent

there is no place to escape
can’t live on the moon

we have to think seriously
about the future of humanity

be alert
develop new way of life
new way of thinking

2.
ignorance is part of the human mind

me too: ignorance

we have a special sort of mental capacity

we have to think of other human beings’ well-being

3.
too much precious life
in decades, 10 billion population
smaller number of precious lives
much better

4.
education is not just knowledge

three levels of understanding:
hearing
analysis
experience/experiment

biased mind cannot see objectively
conviction translates into action


5.
secular ethics:
[According to Indian culture]
 secular means respect all religions
including non-believers

6.
often religion is lip service
religious institutions
quite often corrupted
too much exploitation
bullying

7.
will power against religious instruction
is sometimes necessary

8.
[to be]
against religious institutions
is very logical

9.
these one billion nonbelievers
are also a part of humanity

10.
[when one is]
sincerely gentle
affection there
sense of concern
is there

11.
carry your activities
transparently

12.
hatred
actually
eating
our
immune
system

13.
those dogs always barking
often remain lonely

14.
meaningful autonomy
use common senses

15.
regarding a problem
we must be realistic
most problems
are not possible
to overcome

16.
analyze
the nature
of the tragedy:

if you can overcome
make effort
with full enthusiasm

if you can’t
don’t worry

always different options

17.
emotions can be positive or negative

18.
anger out of sense of concern
[to protect someone in danger]
is positive


19.
perhaps I am socialist
Marxist
freedom is
extremely
important

interdependent
we must develop
oneness of humanity
we are the same

20.
karma means action
spontaneous and very limited
what we want is unbiased love

[Painfully loud, amplified crash as the microphone craps out.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama reacts with giddy pleasure, like a child.]

I wish for another bang!

21.
happiness is mental
not based on sensory satisfaction

22.
hygiene of emotion
very essential

23.
big self
difficult

strong sense of self
is positive

24.
map of emotion
map of mind
is important

25.
compassion is the key factor
for one’s well-being

26.
compassion
sustain
our immune system
sometimes
even increase it

27.
warmheartedness
must be a part
of your life

28.
lovingkindness
is the wish
for others
to be happy

29.
[although our biological need for affection]
does not come from the religious tradition
religious tradition backs this biological need

30.
affection is necessary
affection brings energy
affection is
very important for
our survival