An old Litkicks friend, Clay “Lightning Rod” January of Texas, died of cancer this week. If you hung around this website during our message board years, there’s no doubt that you remember Clay. He was one of the best writers on the website, the owner of a sly and subversive voice.
I interacted often with Clay, especially on the Action Poetry boards, where I would often yell at him to stop posting too often, but he had such a good sense of humor about it that I could never be mad at him long. We met in person several times for poetry readings in Virginia, Washington DC, Maryland and New York, and he was awesome and fun to hang out with. He was an old and very skinny man with long graying hair, and it was clear from his poems that he had done some hard travelling in his years, and had carried a few monkeys on his back.
He liked to call himself Lightning Rod (as a poet and a musician) but insisted to me that Clay January was his real name. I never believed him, but I always believed the truths behind the tall tales he told. He carried himself with a youthful, pixie-ish energy, he never let go of his wide smile, and he gathered friends easily wherever he went. I’m happy to have been one of the friends he gathered.
Here’s a poem Clay January once wrote for a Litkicks writing event called The Quest. His poem is called “The Other Side of Morning”.
if you turn the morning inside out
like a sock
you’d think you would find evening
what you find is the other side of morning.
If I turned you inside out, what would I find?
blood and guts and spleen intestines bile and shit?
or would I find the other side of morning?
morning, a mobius strip
the bloodshot dawn embarrassed and
fearing the Day
gunshot grey hints of evening
shuffle the cards and you have morning
shake the etch-a-sketch and you have morning
divorce is morning, and death.
but if you twist the morning
it goes on forever.
This morning is padded, I don’t know how to describe it. All the sounds are slightly muffled and distant from last night. Everything was clear last night. When the morning rescued me from my dreams, the volume was turned down and as I listened it sounded like the past rumbling in a sewer.
It occurs to me that it might be a hangover.
My socks are inside out, like the morning.
I got up on the wrong side of the morning this morning. My horoscope smirked at me.
The coffee was nervous.
Eggs, like two jaundiced eyes staring through a glaze of grease, knowing.
Do you think you are the only one who has ever studied a morning orgasm, felt it in its parts, discreet and secret? What motion and rhythm; what perfect twist or deceleration? Is the morning orgasm better than when you come at night?
Mama said there would be days like this when the morning is inverted and all hopes for the evening are cocksure and doomed.
Christ rose in the morning, I’m sure.
It was a Sunday, if I remember. The tomb turned inside-out, like a sock.
Morning’s palette is pastel, touched lightly with promise– The Promise of the Day, followed by evening and other mornings.
The alarm rings, hot and we with anticipation.
The Day is coming, the morning its herald.
The morning is virgin birth. The tomb lost a rock. The womb turned inside out, like a sock.
And the morning and the evening were the first Day.
I remember the morning, sunrise pink on the clouds
mist retreating, dew its calling card
I remember the morning, like a breath in a train of other breaths
a square on the calendar among other squares.
I’ll help you find the morning.
Morning is a liar from the East.
It tells you that the day will last forever.
Tomorrow’s morning will tell you the same.
Morning eats the strychnine night
Comes pure, innocent, distilled, forgetful
It’s dipped in the rose sauce of dawn.
born on the rotation of planets and suns
It runs on physics and casts its fate
Twenty four hours till the next
One morning replaceable by another.
One side of morning is rude and textured
The other side—smooth and compliant
One side of morning is lost in conjecture
The other side is crude and defiant.
To find what the Day is all about
Turn the morning
The awesome photo at the top of the page is by Doreen Peri.
Farewell from everybody at Litkicks to Clay January, who is no doubt lighting up the seventh or eighth Bardo right about now.