Working The Wreckage of the American Poem

Title: Working the Wreckage of the American Poem - Remembering Todd Moore

Michael Adams, RD Armstrong, Captain Barefoot, Miles J. Bell, E. R. Biggs, Gary Brower, Harry Calhoun, Alan Catlin, John Dorsey, Hugh Fox, Nelson Gary, S.A. Griffin, Elliott Gorn, Gary Goude, Dale Harris, Brent Leake, Father Luke, John Macker, Ann Menebroker, Tony Moffeit, Biola Olatunde, Niall OíSullivan, Joe Pachinko, David S. Pointer, Casey Quinn, Misti Rainwater-Lites, Ben Smith, Rick Smith, Joe Speer, Belinda Subraman, William Taylor Jr., Mark Weber, Patricia Wellingham-Jones, Lawrence Welsh, Neal Wilgus, Don Winter, F. N. Wright, Anita L. Wynn, Scot Young

Edited by RD Armstrong
Layout and Design by Chris Yeseta

Genre: Poetry, Trade Paper, 6X9
Publisher: Lummox Press (PO Box 5301 San Pedro, CA 90733-5301)
ISBN: 978-1-929878-93-2
Pages: 176

Publishing Date: March 2011


Retail: $15 + shipping

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ďI remember one time visiting his home and writing room filled with wall-to-wall books and the amazing collection of historic knives. The Bowie, the Spanish dagger, you could feel Todd's vibrant imagination run wild all over the blades; they were heavy in the hand like some of his books. Freighted with myth and history. His latest, maybe his best: The Riddle of The Wooden Gun (Lummox Press 2009) and Dead Reckoning (Epic Rites 2010). Small press, Tough guy titles. His words, staccato machine gun bursts that fractured the American poetic line sometimes right at the joint, the syllable, are unique in American underground letters. Uncompromising lines are used as switchblades to cut into the corrupt, alcoholic gut of the American Myth.Ē


John Macker


ďHis work reminds me to focus on truth, on the visual, the real, to punch life into the words; to spit blood on the page and keep a loaded gun next to the typewriter. And I owe the bastard a drink. Now I'm going to have to die to buy it for him.Ē


Joe Pachinko

Todd Moore 1937 - 2010

Here are a few excerpts from this volume...



In the blood and wind, Todd Moore remains, and itís going to stay that way.  Of course a time existed when I didnít know Moore, but that was 21 years ago.  Since then, his work has remained as a guiding light of style, execution, content and language. 

In poetry as in life, one should never set out to imitate or mimic anotherís work. The goal is to digest vast and deep quantities of poetic possibilities, and Moore was always a voice to digest.  He still is, as he was in 1989.  Thatís when I first discovered his poetry in the little magazines of the dayHis cut-down style was fast, quick to the line, quick to violence and blood, and it sounded like no one else.


One instantly knew, though, that Moore had studied the masters: Robert Creeley, Zen, Cormac McCarthy, William Carlos Williams, Jack Kerouac, Lew Welch, Federico Garcia Lorca and hundreds of others, including Kell Robertson, Lyn Lifshin, Tony Moffeit and Keith Wilson.  In many little magazines, one reads writers who havenít put in the time, and it shows in their lines of undeveloped language, images and voice.  But Moore, like a first-rate jazz man, had already paid his dues.  One also got the feeling heíd keep paying dues due to his relentless dedication to violence, which, in his hands, turned into a type of totemic, shamanic sacrament...


Lawrence Welsh

El Paso, TX



The Fire He Made (For Todd Moore)

True outlaws live
lonely lives
and the man I am
thinking of
wandered through
this desert life
and made it
his own
spaghetti western
his own
pulp novel
his own
film noir
he was a tough
old boy
he'd gut you with a poem
like a Stanley knife
just as soon as look at you
he set the dark alight
with words like
firebombs he'd just
light the fuse and
keep walking
just because he could
and the fire he made
was so goddamned
you didn't care if
you were burning
he's gone  now
he just wandered off
into the last
blazing sunset
having done what
he had come to do
though nobody much
ever thanked him
but that's the way
true outlaws go.

William Taylor, Jr.




In Tribute/Are You Carrying?
       for Todd Moore

I never wore a gun
or shot anyone
and other than your
poems (where there were
plenty of guns and death)
you probably didn't either.
But for all I know
you might have been a crack
shot and had bodies
under the house where
you also threw old
beer bottles and fifths of
whiskey.  All I do know
is you showed up
in Sacramento at Luna's
with your wife
reading your poems
and talking about life.
All I know is the crowd
loved you and we hugged
and took pictures.
And when I think about
that visit and all our years
in this business
of poem-making
what we "carry" isn't
a .44 magnum
but the weight of a
heart and the filling
up with that corny
old word whose draw
(slow or fast)

finds its mark.

Ann Menebroker

Sacramento, CA



Todd Moore died on March 12, 2010. Todd Moore was an outlaw. Todd Moore was about speed. Todd Moore lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Todd Moore was the fastest gun in the West. Todd Moore shot word bullets. Todd Moore burned with velocity, burned with ferocity, burned with the blood. Todd Moore was about velocity and the visceral, speed and the physical. There were not enough minutes in the day for Todd Moore. And when he finally slept, he continued his outlaw monologues and dialogues in his dreams. Todd Moore was the fastest gun in the West. Outlaw is about speed. The speed of getting the words down on paper. The speed of innovation. The speed of revolutionizing the short poem. Todd Moore revolutionized the short poem. His style of the short poem with a wallop, the short poem with an ironic violence, the short poem with a machine gun velocity influenced generations of poets. Todd Moore revolutionized the long poem. His masterpiece, DILLINGER, was a raw, lyrical, poem-movie that splashed across the page in waves of violence, or knifed across the page in a stiletto-like condensed line, stabbing out words and phrases. Todd Moore revolutionized the essay. His essays combined autobiographical prose, poetry, literary criticism, and outlaw philosophy to yield a whole new approach and lyricism to the essay. Todd Moore was the fastest gun in the West... 

Todd Mooreís poem was a gun. Todd Mooreís words were bullets. Todd Moore left blood on the page. Todd Moore was the fastest gun in the West. Todd Moore was in a constant gunfight with death. And he knew the only way to outdraw death was to transcend death through language. Itís a hard bullet. Itís a word bullet. That bullet talks so fast. Todd Moore was the fastest gun in the West. Todd Moore was always in flux.  Todd Moore was about the flesh of dreams, dreams with good red blood. Todd Moore was about the intensity of creativity and the invisibility of disappearance. Todd Moore was the fastest gun in the West.

Outlaw is about the very essence of existence: how you think your thoughts, how you create your thoughts, how you invent your ideas, how you come to some sort of newfound creativity, how you attain ecstasy in the midst of chaos, how you attain calm in the middle of chaos, how you attain chaos in the middle of calm. Outlaw is about changing your life by not changing your life. Outlaw is a Zen puzzle. Outlaw is quantum physics played out in the most simple and direct everyday gestures and ideas. How is a personís life measured? By the immeasurable. Where is substance? In void...   

When I think of the roots of outlaw, I think of those who created a new level of consciousness through self-expression, through self-creation. I think of those who created their own laws. Where does the outlaw get his power? From himself. Where did Todd Moore get his power? From himself. He was the fastest gun in the West. The purpose of outlaw is to identify the unidentifiable, to define the indefinable, to categorize the uncategorizable. The outlaw is a ghost. The outlaw is a ghost who carries the speed of invisibility. Todd Moore was a ghost who carried the speed of invisibility. He was the fastest gun in the West. 

Out of a barren landscape comes the outlaw. One lone figure on the horizon. Then another. Then another. Returning like the buffalo. Walking alone like the buffalo.  Making himself out of nothing. Creating himself out of nothing but the fire in his blood.  He is the one with no name. He now has a name. He is the one with no identity. He now has an identity. He is the one with no face. He now has a face. He is the one with no voice. He now has a voice. The best spirit found in the flesh of his sound. He is the fastest gun in the West.  

Tony Moffeit
Pueblo, CO