rd armstrong | todd moore and lummox press

RD Armstrong, Annie Menebroker and Todd Moore at Luna’s Cafe in Sacramento, May 21, 2009

I first corresponded with Todd Moore back in 1997. I heard about him from Mark Weber, whom I had interviewed for my mag, The Lummox Journal. Initially I just wanted to interview him, not knowing who he was; but after a while I realized that I had tapped into a major powerhouse of thought and ideas. Over the years, Todd contributed essays on the style of poetry that he called “Outlaw” to the Lummox. He was also a regular contributor of poetry to the LJ. In addition to that, Todd was gracious enough to allow me to publish him in the Little Red Book Series: Bone, The Corpse is Dreaming and Bombed in New Mexico. I also published a full length book…a section from his Dillinger saga, entitled The Riddle of the Wooden Gun.

Todd was like a father to me. We often discussed the way things worked in our quirky little corner of the small press and he would often try to help me deal with some of the shit that boiled up under my feet.

I have a nasty habit of pissing people off. Sadly, I don’t do it on purpose…I’m more of an accidental irritation.

Just about a year ago, Todd, his wife Barbara and I went on a road trip together. 7 days. We covered nearly 1800 miles and had some pretty strange encounters, but we also had a lot of time to talk about life and during that time I realized how much I had grown under his tutelage. Unfortunately, I never got to express that to him, how grateful I was to have known him, because, like fathers and sons often do, we had a falling out and hadn’t spoken in months. In fact, I was going to write him and try to find out why we had the falling out this weekend. Now, I’ll never know why.

So here’s to you Todd, God bless you and keep you (try not to cuss out the lord or his angel buddies too much).

Here’s an excerpt from one of his essays:

Working the Wreckage of the American Poem

Working the wreckage of the american poem in an Illinois cornfield while listening to the wind crack through the dry cornstalks. Working the wreckage of the american poem on the Kansas prairie while trying to figure out just where my grandmother’s sodhouse stood. I’m sure she heard the faint sounds of the arriving cattle herds coming up from Texas in that vagrant and outlaw wind. Working the wreckage of the american poem while standing on the sidewalk outside the Hotel Congress in Tucson, Arizona, while trying to catch the faint sound of Dillinger’s voice in the heat and the primal wind blowing up from old Mexico.

In Los Angeles I hear some guy complaining about the Santa Anas, how they make him a little crazy. He’s been trying to find his old copy of Raymond Chandler’s short stories, the one called Red Wind. He claims reading that is the only thing that might save him, keep him from pulling a gun or a knife. He’s drunk and brushes past me in the crowd and for the fraction of a fraction of a second in the blur of street moves he almost looks and sounds like a kicking crazy version of Bukowski.

Working the wreckage of the american poem in an old bar that sits next to the railroad tracks and some guy is showing off a scar he got in a fight with box cutters. Said, the sumbitch tried for my throat and I put my hand up and went sideways. Then got him in the eye and while he’s wrestling with his eyeball which is out on his cheek, I notice that my thumb is wearing a red hat only it ain’t a red hat. It’s blood. Outside the bar a freight is rattling by and I go outside with my drink and in that rush of dust that the train clicks up I get the last three lines to a poem. It’s like they dropped right off that freight and announced their arrival.

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