Todd Moore by Nelson Gary

Todd Moore
Todd Moore


If the poetry of Ezra Pound had achieved the aim of his critical theories, he’d have poured out more images with a marksmanship equal to Todd Moore. Moore’s images are concrete both literally and figuratively: they are the all-consuming street scenes that grumble resonant with rhythms of the digestive fluids in this country’s underbelly. But forget that shit; Moore would want you to anyway—even if you were reading this in some ivory tower john.

Moore’s father was a railroad man and a fireman . . . a bagman, a numbers runner, an acquaintance of Capone, and an aspiring novelist. Moore had more than just a taste of the life, growing up in a joint which serviced railroad men. The Clifton Hotel was predominantly inhabited by pussy peddlers, railbirds, inside men and every variety of NG (no good) that could ever cross a person’s path. Moore himself got pretty crossed-up, becoming a street thief, then later in life a librarian and a high school teacher (for thirty years), who made sense of it through poetry. Moore illuminates the placental world that is as dark as a plum in a cold universe, because his technical virtuosity and grasp of realistic urban speech affords him the reach to open that envelope white door that few have the stomach for, be it a lack of hunger or a lack of courage.

Being that it is best to write from the gut, Moore’s strength as a poet and a human being has been his ability to feed on this badly bruised heart of forbidden fruit and let the blood drip from the corners of his mouth onto the page in stripes that deserve at least fifty stars and an acknowledgment of an inner-city blues as real as shot up varicose veins. His best lines are molten steel that he lays in the grooves of the reader’s gray matter, and as eyes meet image and tongue rolls off words, there is the click-clack of recognition, and the spark of inspiration that was initiated in Moore becomes a conflagration in the mind of any American who does not whimper: I have a delicate stomach: it sours easily.

A poet takes aim at one of three areas: the head, the heart or the crotch. Occasionally, all three can be scoped in one piece if you have an eye for poetic detail or if the poet’s imagination has an affinity for the uzi. Once in awhile, a poet comes along who can take aim and ignite every atom in one’s being. The removal of vowels in his verbs creates a sense of immobilization as if in a freeze frame in a place colder than Hollywood, as if the atom bomb that was made in his resident New Mexico has eaten through all we do—even write, even speak. Dillinger (40,000 lines, 34 volumes) and the soon to be released Dunede are American monoliths. Todd Moore once told me he was Dillinger. So what? I now.

Nelson Gary (Panorama City): Halloween baby, diplomatic liaison for Voodoo Lounge and part of accounting staff in Amsterdam for The Rolling Stones, Motown computer hack, tennis professional, parade vendor, drug-rehab counselor, juvenile-delinquent guardian, Federal government employee, door-to-door perfume salesman, fashion show grunt, playwright, novelist, storyteller, casino worker, and CSUN student. He is the co-founder of Low Profile Press with wife Lil.

Essay and author profile taken from The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, edited by Alan Kaufman & S.A. Griffin.

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