Tuesday, January 6th, 2009...12:29 pm

tony moffeit | a man on fire

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A MAN ON FIRE

at 71 years old, there is no light burning brighter, shining stronger than this poet, essayist, novelist, howler in the midnight blue. he is a shouter of the individual, the outcast, the renegade, the desperado, the down and out blues monger, the assassin on your tv screen, the peckinpah killers, the alley rat characters of his youth, the gone outsider dancing hobo, the scratched celluloid of a b movie, the dark theater of his mind. he is the leader of a revolution that is about anti-revolution, a revolution that is about turning your back on everything, a revolution that is about honing yourself into a creative fire that burns down everything, a revolution that has the kiss of death firmly planted in the center of mad love, a revolution that is about the abandon of marginality, a revolution that is about finding your own shadow that is following you, a revolution that is about reducing everything into the immortality of the moment, a revolution that is about becoming yourself, a revolution that is about attacking relentlessly the attackers, a revolution that says fuck you very much i’m going my own way, a revolution that reduces everything to a single word: outlaw. to live inside the poem is to live outside the law. to live inside the poem is to be an outlaw.

the way
i write
is strictly
fuck you
no cap
ital letters
no punc
tuation
the words
jammed
together
or all
smashed
up like bro
ken glass
crushed
pop cans
& used
condoms
the ameri
can sen
tence is
either a
stutter
or a
scream
& i’m
waiting
to watch
it explode

todd moore is his own best example of an outlaw. for he is ablaze. and he is shooting shock waves of bullet words. he is a man on fire. and in his flame, he is touching all the great outlaws of the past. he is honing in on the stutter and the scream of james dean. one of the greatest outlaw events is the death of james dean. for it takes one back to ancient archetypes, redefining them, reinventing them. the hero as lone wolf. the hero as artist. the hero in his loneness seeking and experiencing mad love. the transformation of the hero through his search, his journey. the obsession with speed. the obsession with transmutation through speed. the endless appetite for passionate experience. the endless appetite for going beyond oneself. at the very peak of his creative gifts: death, like the other side of the coin of a kiss. at the very peak of his creative gifts: death, giving immortality to youth, to the new, to the velocity of his vision, death giving immortality to the fact that if you are not ablaze you are dead. todd moore is the pure blaze of outlaw.

james dean reinvented everything. he reinvented his speech through his own unique dialect, full of mutters and stutters and screams and primal yells. he reinvented his speech through the silence of gestures. better than a silent movie star, james dean’s primal gestures, shoulders ashrug, shoulders hunched, bleak syllables biting, he walked the walk and he talked the talk, a neanderthal language that was utterly sophisticated. a primitive. a barbarian at the gate. in a language, a body of gestures of reinvented sophistication. his hair, his gait, his speed, his endless exploration of everything from bullfighting to racecar driving. there was not enough time in the day. there was not enough time in the night. and so he went up in the flames of his porsche. and out of the ashes of that california evening a new archetype, an old archetype, a new archetype with ancient reverberations: outlaw. saying, of course: if you cannot reinvent yourself, you are dead.

no one
knows
how dark
the wolf
is until
the night
begins
to move

to live inside the poem is to live outside the law. to live inside the poem is to be an outlaw. the poem and the outlaw. the outlaw and the poem. to catch a glimpse of the other side. this is what todd moore provides. james dean allowed us to catch a glimpse of the real actor in his first scene in a movie: atop a train in east of eden. james dean and the train. the train and james dean. two archetypes in sync. todd moore and the poem. the poem and todd moore. two archetypes in sync. for the poem opens a window, opens a door into a different kind of perception, a different kind of sensation, a different kind of experience. the outlaw makes us see the world in a different way. to live inside the poem is to live outside the law. to live inside the poem is to be an outlaw.

whether it is james dean going up in flames at the age of 24 or todd moore brandishing a new fire at the age of 71, the message is the same: find your outlaw fire and set the day and night to burning. and like the straight razor blues, the poem is about transformation, transmutation, the poem is about taking on a life of its own. to live inside the poem is to live outside the law. to live inside the poem is to be an outlaw.

…all that
danger
slapped
over more
danger i
wanna wear
a hat w/a
bullet hole
thru it
& have
all the dark
ness in
there
rushing
& spilling
& slopping
out
i wanna
have so
much class
i can
look death
in the eye
& say
fuck you

can a 71-year-old writing poetry have the same kind of intensity, the same kind of edge as a young james dean making ingenious movies and thumbing his nose at hollywood? can a 71-year-old writing poetry have the same kind of intensity, the same kind of edge as a young hank williams, a young robert johnson, a young elvis presley? can he change his art form in the way that these three changed their music venues? can a 71-year-old writing poetry attain that piece of the fire that burns up the page? that same gigantic intensity found in the solos of miles davis and john coltrane? that same kind of blood edge that drove john dillinger and billy the kid? to live inside the poem is to live outside the law. to live inside the poem is to be an outlaw.

…mason
opened his
mouth to
say some
thing & it
looked as
tho the
skin on
his cheeks
was trying
to crawl
off his
bones

where in all the waves of time do you find the outlaw? where in all the mirrors of space do you find the poem? where will the poet and the poem surpass the power of the actor and the movie? where will the poet and the poem surpass the power of the singer and the song? where will the poet and the poem surpass the power of the storyteller and the story? in todd moore you find the actor and the movie, the singer and the song, the story and the storyteller. but more than that, you find the essential elements of the poem and the poet: the transmutation of language into a fire in the blood, the transmutation of language into a whole different wave of vision, the transmutation of language into an unveiling of pure passion. to live inside the poem is to live outside the law. to live inside the poem is to be an outlaw. by Tony Moffeit

Blind Whiskey & The Straight Razor Blues. By Todd Moore. 2008. 43pp; Pa; Iniquity Press/Vendetta Books, POB 54, Manasquan, NJ 08736.This and other Todd Moore books are available here…

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