Scott Wannberg – Feb. 20, 1953 – Aug. 19, 2011

Scott Wannberg, a graduate of Venice High School, became one of the best-known poets in Southern California prior to moving to Florence, Oregon, in 2008.

He was a founder of the poetic touring group, the carma bums, which also included Mike Bruner, Doug Knott, S.A. Griffin and Mike M. Mollet.

He was known to thousands of readers as the face of Dutton’s Bookstore. His job there allowed him to pursue his calling, which was a non-stop stream of poetry.

Rip Rense, a classmate at Venice High said, according to the Associated Press, that Wannberg was “speaking poetry.” “You couldn’t shut him up. It was a stream-of-consciousness kind of Chick Hearn-meets-Charles Bukowski narrative about friends and current events…” His prolific poetry ultimately filled 10 books.

A memorial will be held at Beyond Baroque on Sept. 17. See the Beachhead Calendar for details.


Carma Bums

riding that old cadillac highway
with captain griffin

By Scott Wannberg

we were so called poets
dancers of some strange rhythm
making ornery lovely noise in the vortex
did your parents ever regale you with their vortex myths?
we are definitely so called humans
plying the cadillac highway trade
unleashing our ooga booga upon an unsuspecting public
under the stars of taos in 89
we all went shirtless
as the insurmountable bobbo staron led us
we tried not to cringe
we tried to lick the magic stamp and put it on the envelope of time and space
i was shotgun mingo
singing john prine with the howling flora and fauna
no radio lived in the caddy
our vocation was to make up our own play station
before ipods came marching down the super technical byway
we were on our own impressionistic continual random play
long before the 2 jakes
a very inferior sequel to a great film
there were the 2 mikes
and the 1 doug
bruner mollett knott
prospectors of verbal and visual gold
bonzo sometimes rode in our hearts
and sparky’s grandfather houndstooth
flamenco dancers exercised in our bone marrow
i am a wayfaring wordsmith road
heading in any direction you can handle
anarchy’s common-law intimate other
raiding midnight ice boxes of consciousness
we are so called art forms
splashing peculiar colors
across uneasy easels called the world
a carma bum might be a toothless reprobate
or a stunning virile used book written in magic
in between, a lot of tunes made their precarious way
onto the inner ear dancefloor of our time here
which will only end when the proverbial fat lady
loses the right to sing
did your parents ever regale you with their proverbial fat ladies
and their never ending biography?
i rode shotgun with griffin
the new world lay at our feet
the rules of the road keep renaming themselves
the weather claims it can behave
i am an active verb
slumming with cantankerous adjectives
i am the old soft shoe
trying to remember which foot i supposedly call home
we are poets and tinkers and mad men and mad women
bank presidents grovel at our feet
cops look the other way when we smoke metaphors
we were much too animated for walt disney to manage
riding that old cadillac highway with captain griffin
is one exercise workout program
that the whole family can endure together
sometimes you get static in your reception
sometimes the wheaties don’t make you feel strong
it’s just another endless game of golf at times
but then that last hole in one
opens up an all night place for you to play
and that poetry you swore you never really knew
breaks out all over your skin
the unknown world at your door
claims it’s going to be around a spell
you’re going to name it with your art,baby
it might be brutal,it might be tender
but your art will ride the killer wave
without falling into the sea
your art will be riding in a cadillac
that never really runs out of gas
it’s the story of the world as i was told it
by all talking dogs and their creative writing teachers and editors
it’s your own personal story
behind the wheel
i’m riding shotgun with you
maybe i’ll be singing john prine
maybe i’ll be singing you
yeah,that’s it for sure
i’ll be singing me
through singing you
this burst is for my brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers
in the lingo process express
we be mad, we be gentle
we be broken, we stumble home whole
we come with stories and poems and song
we are your origin and your departure gate
yeah, that’s it, for sure
i’m learning your tunes
as i take sparky for a much needed walk
through no man’s land
through armageddon
through point of no return
sparky pisses on lack of imagination
he begins to sing john prine
i hear a cadillac in the distance
naming the new highway
of our heart’s ability to retain memory

Categories: Obituary, Poetry

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