Sunday, September 30, 2012

Brain Ferry Portraits of Me

Photographer Brian Ferry took these excellent portraits of me last week in my apartment. He's so talented. It was a lot of fun and an honor to sit for him.

Click here.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Top 10

1) Gerard Manley Hopkins.

2) Mina Loy.

3) Hart Crane.

4) H.D.

5) 1970's Nigerian Pop Music.

6) Philip Whalen.

7) Leslie Scalapino.

8) Giacomo Leopardi.

9) Blind Willie Reynolds.

10 Any thick, dense, poetic music that makes NYC tolerable.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012


What I mean is: you are wearing only
a t-shirt on Smith and Bergen Streets
and it is freaking me out. I'm not at all
inclined to intervene or to even ask
an individual for her credentials, but
basking in the traffic while all around
you a shale-like substance is forming
on your skin is just not safe.
More precisely: a toxic, flaky mimosa
is driving you bananas.
What you need to do is scrub the affected area
with a dish sponge dipped in a solution
of lemon and peppermint oils.
Use a circular motion to inhibit
regrowth and bifurcation. I'd also like
to hear back from you in about a dollar
if you can hack the not-wellness with
the pure supplications of past desire.
I'll be around. You'll find me.
That's just the way it is.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

How to Wake Up

Morning is for rubbing the sleep
off your body. Surface texture should
be crystalline and calibrated for urgency
but in a manner that does not alarm or provoke
aggression in the downstairs neighbors.
For safe traveling out to the edge of living room,
bring some fruit roll ups, just in case
you get stuck in the wind and can't
get back until nightfall. Bring also:
glass beads for meditation and some
ochre tinted shawls for warmth
and camouflage. Turn ringer on phone
to "blast" mode. Bring water syrup
and steel mud cleats for her. Take field
notes with golf pencil. Record the transition
from sleeping to awake and the various
realizations as the work vehicle approaches.
Feel the rumbling under your feet
until the day fits around you properly.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Top Ten Facts

Fact: Lou Reed invented the modern dial tone in 1966 for Bell Laboratories.

Fact: Keith Moon had all of his suits handmade by the same Parisian tailor as the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan.

Fact: David Bowie owns a building in Los Angeles that contains three rental units and one commercial space on the ground floor.

Fact: Steven Tyler has run 7 marathons. His best finishing time is 2:56, making him one of the fastest marathoners in his age group.

Fact: Hall & Oates wrote 'Sara Smile" as a result of meeting the legendary poet (and fan of the duo) Allen Ginsberg after one of their gigs.

Fact: In 1949, Aretha Franklin won a tristate area dart championship. She is the youngest champion (7-years old) to this day.

Fact: In 1979 Robert Plant inherited 76% controlling interest in the Bayer Aspirin Company from his grandfather, Franklin Plant.

Fact: Bob Dylan proposed to his first wife Sarah in a Sears & Roebuck store in East Lansing, Michigan as they shopped for refrigerator.

Fact: John Lennon had such a severe shell fish allergy that he could not even be in the same room as a lobster.

Fact: Donny Osmond has a collection of over 5000 old TV Guides in his basement in Salt Lake City.

Fact: Alice Cooper lives in Utica, New York, on a drydocked houseboat.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Goat Skin Pantsuit

Don't be stupid,
everyone knows a pantsuit
is sexy, sir, but not if you
wear the rose powder
and hump stars, blue satan.
You can dip your finger
into the black milk, humming
to the tone of global spunk,
while dip shits in Corvettes
whistle the melody of body
parts. Codified by the psychedelic
funk of Moogs, you're all pepper sprayed
with reason and contempt. Don't forget
there's a slow boat
waiting for your pink berries.
You'll loaf on the dock
until you shrivel from neglect.
One day you'll get a letter
and that letter will say a lot
if you could only read it
imagine how successful you'd be.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Brooklyn Bridge on Atlantic Avenue

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Soothing Poem (Redux)

I would like to settle the score
by brushing your hair until you go
into a trance from being soothed
by the gentle stroking of the brush
in my hand that provides that relaxing
sensation you so adore and crave.
Then I would like to make you
a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
You are exhausted, you tell me you
are exhausted so you should sleep
and not worry that I'll write on
your face with a felt tipped pen
or devise some trick that will
piss you off or startle you.
I'm beyond that sort of stuff
now that you are here with
me letting me brush your hair.
I'll never be bad again, I swear.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


What Tuesday does is twist
around my legs making it
difficult to dance around much.
But I digress. The people
downstairs are cooking something
yummy, onions? Partial only
to the coffee in this blue cup,
standing up finally on the chair
only to be closer to the sky
in this room above even the bookshelves.
This room, how many things it has
observed. If it were able to repeat
a tape back of every second would
I watch it? Would I sit and watch?
Well, I kind of do, but that's another poem.
Meanwhile, life goes on all
around me; a decade skitters away
like a brown water bug carrying
all my belongings on its
crusty back. People have to learn
the hard way. It's time to dance.

Happy Birthday, William Carlos Williams

Allen Ginsberg reads from WCW's "Spring and All."

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sunday Poem

Sleep in the slow motion position
so the sparks of these kinked
days slow into a low glow.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Andy Kaufman - Cannonball

This story seriously changed my life.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thursday Reportage

This morning I carried my groceries past
Bob's house on Kane Street on my way home.
A few years ago there was an article
in the paper about Bob's house
being haunted by a crying baby which was
more annoying than scary to Bob. Near Degraw Street,
there was a kitten in a box being carried
to a waiting car by an elderly man. I spotted
what appeared to be powdered detergent
sprinkled on the sidewalk on the southwest
corner of Baltic and Henry Streets.
A man with a groovy baseball cap
that said "DOGS BARK FUNK" across the front
was walking down Hicks Street with an odd smile.
Oh yeah, the sun was shining in that slanted way
it does during late summer.

Thursday Morning with Cat Power

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wednesday Top 1

1) Tweeting @ToddColbyPoet

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What Goes Missing

You must think in terms
of loss to connect the dots
to any living thing. To the spaces
they were, their moving through
something, a faded bloom. If you calculate time
you must allow for parts to be sheered off
in the debacle of days. Careening
into the slow slop of morning in your underwear.
Indentations from sheets on your soft skin.
There's a membrane around you that's made to last
until something ruinous comes along or something hidden
in the flesh springs forth. The universe
is just too abstract, the mere volume of it
is too enormous to collapse with us in it, right?
I hope so. I guess I'll just look at this:
a minute passing and a catalogue of a room
observed in the quiet of now.

Bonnie Prince Billy - Time To Be Clear

Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday Top 10

1) Expectation of transcendence, delusion.

2) Forest of metal objects, recycled.

3) Memories of summer, bland.

4) Flow of time, dying.

5) Heel pain, permanent.

6) Coffee saturation, hollow.

7) City waking, cacophony.

8) Unread books, many.

9) Blank screen, fuck.

10) Get up, walk around, sit down.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Swans - No Words No Thoughts

Friday, September 07, 2012

The First Sentence of My Novel

He was sweet, but he was really sweet after he got hit by a truck.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Continue Reading

What concerns me - continue reading -
is the spectacle of humans on the A train
platform - continue reading - if the music moves you
stand still with me and focus on what you can't
do to it - continue reading - there will be moments
like this when the very air stalls, some would call
it a drop in barometric pressure, some simply caving
into desire with grace - continue reading -
I love the canopy of sun that seems to have
ripped through the older darker sky, if only
for a moment before the showers come again -
continue reading - there will be days when the
very fabric of your life seems alien and absurd,
flanked by all sorts of people you don't understand
anymore - continue reading - the idea, no, the fantasy
of friends or family sticking around long enough to see
change or change coming without loss is simply
absurd - continue reading - it will be good to come
to a resting place long enough to call it eternity,
you'll see - continue reading - everybody clap.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Poetry Lab: What Can a Poem Be?

Here's the lowdown on a series of workshops I'll be teaching at the Poetry Project starting Saturday, October 6th.

You can register by clicking here.

Saturday, October 6, 2012
2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Saturdays 2-4PM: 10 sessions begin October 6th

What can a poem be? We’ll attempt to answer this question while creating new modes and forms of poetry just outside the dominant culture. In this class we’ll create a safe place to take chances, to openly speculate and participate in the ongoing dialogue that ensues. There will be weekly experiments and assignments and a lot of in-class writing. We’ll tumble together through collaborations and mutual innovations. We’ll explore poetry through play, joy, openness, immediacy, profound ideologies, music, and art. We’ll take risks that allow us to reinvent ourselves as poets every time we sit down to write. We’ll create poems that don’t resemble or sound like poems; all the while being totally committed to the idea of broadening the borders of the possibilities of poetry. We’ll leap off a platform constructed by Henri Michaux, Reggie Watts, Djuna Barnes, Bill Knott, Fernando Pessoa, Hannah Weiner, E.M. Cioran, Ben Marcus, Gertrude Stein, Andy Kaufman, Sei Shonagon, Joe Brainard, Walter Benjamin, Diane Williams, and more. Todd Colby is the author of four books of poetry published by Soft Skull Press. He keeps a blog at

Monday, September 03, 2012

Official Communication

I might have to get dressed today
and go outside. Thank you for waddling
through the streets harboring
a secret hunch that the photographers gathered
outside your apartment are there for you,
not your pride. Meanwhile, I have a landscape
and some other things that need
to be scrubbed. Look at that city out there
all gray and shaky in the humid
haze. Can you imagine what working
people out there are thinking
as they walk to real jobs?
Well, you're about to find out.

Street Scenes

On Kane Street a guy was jabbering into a phone
about so-and-so and this-and-that.

On Degraw Street a woman with a huge shock of gray hair
was pushing a cart with precisely two long loaves of bread
and a bundle of sunflowers inside.

On Warren Street a little kid was just standing alone at the top
of a stoop in front of a brownstone crying his lungs out.

On Pacific Street three little girls all stood with sticks in their hands
poking at a puddle as their mothers stood nearby talking animatedly.

On Clinton Street a big fence blocked the road at Kane Street
where a church steeple had collapsed on a man and killed
him earlier this summer.

On Court Street two men in bright lycra on bicycles rode down the middle
of the street. I heard one of the men say the words "Roxy Music" very loudly .

On Baltic Street I tried to smile at a man carrying grocery bags
in both hands but he averted his glance rather than smiling back.

On Amity Street there were a group of hospital workers in scrubs
with laminated identification placards pinned to their chests
all standing around smoking and chatting in a very serious manner.

On Bergen Street I saw a woman on a bicycle that was about three
sizes too small for her. I thought maybe she had borrowed a child's
bike in order to get somewhere fast.

On Henry Street I saw a man with a "Smith & Butler" t-shirt on. I'd seen
him just a few days before with the same shirt on walking down 7th Avenue.