Friday, December 18, 2015

Book Release Announcement

I’m pleased to announce that Knut House Press has released my latest poetry collection, Walking in Chicago with a Suitcase in My Hand. In addition to my poems, it features the photography of Riley Vann. The book is available in both color as well as black & white format. Those who purchase the color edition through Amazon will receive the Kindle edition at no additional cost.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Why I Oppose the Two Party System

Donald Trump says he doesn't want to be politically correct & he seems to go the extra mile--& of the country variety at that--to prove it. Not only is he not politically correct, he's not remotely correct . . . about anything! The flamboyant celebrity gazillionaire, known primarily for his ostentatious comb-over that covers the vast vacuity beneath, wants to run America like a business. In other words, he plans to bankrupt America within two years so that he can buy it back for pennies on the dollar.  Of course, legally, he'll have to rename it, say, the United States of Trump, but it'll be the same great country, only better. For instance, no whiners.

Like a hairy Trump, Carly Fiorina, the former HP exec, also wants to run the country like a business, you know, down the drain.  For fuck's sake, when will people learn that a government shouldn't be run like a fucking business? For one thing, a so-called democratic nation's main goal isn't to make a fucking profit, but to serve its people, all its people, not just the fucking 1%.

Hillary "Nuke 'Em" Clinton apparently considers Edward Snowden a traitor who should do time for leaking classified information. At the same time, Clinton, who doesn't understand irony, says she's being persecuted by the investigation into her emails in which she potentially revealed classified information.  More ironically--that is to say, moronically--she should know, thanks to Snowden's revelation, the government is monitoring all our electronic communications, so her private email account was not/is not secure.  Clinton also says Snowden should have stayed in the good ol' US of A, where, as a whistleblower, he would have been protected by the law--except the law apparently doesn't apply to those employed as national security contractors.  To be fair, Clinton couldn't be expected to know something like this; after all, she's not a lawyer, is she?  Besides, look how well the whistleblower laws have worked against the Espionage Act.

Damn, Martin O'Malley has changed a lot since he hosted Guts on Nickelodeon.   In the unlikely scenario (the second coming, for instance) in which he receives the Democratic presidential nod, I hope he chooses Mo Quirk as his running mate, that is, if she can get time off from Foot Locker.

For a neurosurgeon, Ben "The Rock" Carson isn't very smart.  Actually, he's not very smart regardless of his career choice.  I wonder if his degree doesn't come from the same faux-box of Cracker Jacks that gave Rand Paul his accreditation as an ophthalmologist.

Is Bernie Sanders a socialist?  While I applaud much of his domestic platform--though he doesn't nearly go far enough--the gist of his foreign policy would be to continue the same militaristic, neoliberal imperialism that America is known for & that's not any kind of socialism I know of.

Hooray! Joe Biden says Joe Biden isn't running for president.

Jeb Bush.  Sigh & double sigh.  Haven't we had enough of the goddam Clintons & Bushes?  Well, here's hoping!  After Jeb's latest round of goofy gaffes, it occurred to me that, surprisingly, his brother George, despite allegedly being dropped on his head repeatedly as a child, still wound up as the most polished statesman of the family.  Funny story:  One day I saw the neighbor's kid playing with--I know you won't believe this--a fresh pile of dog shit on the lawn.  Thoroughly disgusted, I asked him just what he thought was doing & he said, "Making a statue of Jeb Bush."  Okay, I'll admit I fought the urge to snicker, but not wanting to encourage his inappropriate behavior--I mean, following the Republican primaries is not something I'd want my child to do--I asked him, using my sternest tone, why he'd say such a thing.  "Because," he said, plopping another gloppy turd on top that bore a remarkable resemblance to Jeb's head, "I don't have enough shit to make Chris Christie."  Good god, who does?

Chris Christie is a pompous horse's ass.  The less said about Ted Cruz, Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, George Pataki, Marco Rubio & Rick Santorum the better.

In a final note, Lincoln Chaffee recently withdrew from the Democratic race in order to allow more time to practice the ocarina so that he might be better suited to rescue Zelda.


Monday, September 7, 2015

Great News!

I'm very pleased to announce that my second full-length collection of poems, Walking in Chicago with a Suitcase in My Hand, will be released by Knut House Press in January 2016.

This book was a finalist in six different poetry book competitions, including the 2015 Knut House Press contest. I'm extremely happy that it's "finalistly" coming out in print!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Fistful of Comments about Books I've Read This Year 3

Van Gogh went hungry and what shoe salesman
Does not envy him now?

--George Oppen, "The Bicycles and the Apex"

The Satires, Juvenal, trans. Rolfe Humphries.  Juvenal is often portrayed as the proverbial old man shaking his fist at the clouds.  Reading him, like watching Fox News, is funny if you know how utterly nutsoid it is to rail against, say, budding democracy.  Yet some suggest that Juvenal didn't actually hate the changes underway in Rome, but was instead satirizing those who did.  If true, that makes reading him more like watching The Colbert Report (R.I.P.) than Fox News.  I like the Humphries translation, even though I'm cautioned that he often plays fast & loose with the original text.  I guess I like fast & loose.

A Good Man Is Hard to Find & Other Stories, Flannery O'Connor.  It's hard to think of a short story writer more gifted that O'Connor.  She has a flair for language & metaphor that is almost poetic at times. She creates characters that hover somewhere between realism & caricature, which is a difficult balance to carry off, yet she does it time & again in such stories as "Good Country People," "The Displaced Person" & the title story.  (If you've never heard O'Connor read, it's well worth your effort to click here.)  Yet I can't help but wish whenever I read her that she hadn't felt the need to utter [epithet deleted] as frequently.  If it speaks poorly of the people portrayed in her work, I'm not sure what to conclude about the character of the author herself who uses [epithet deleted] so often that she deems it acceptable to title a story "The Artificial [epithet deleted]."   I'm not saying, I'm just saying.  

Death in Venice, Thomas Mann.  In a sort of a NAMBLA version of Lolita--though, given the setting, perhaps EMBLA would be more accurate--a famous old artist lusts in his heart--not Jimmy Carter--after an adolescent Polish boy one summer in Venice,  spending his days watching "his lover" in swimsuit play with less attractive,less gifted, less knowing friends on the beach & in the evenings. exchanging furtive, loving, longing glances across the hotel's restaurant over, say, a  bowl of minestrone.  Or perhaps stracciatella or zuppa toscana. It isn't specified.  Most of the novella is about the celebrated old perv's unapologetic feelings about the young boy, although quite a bit of apologetic moralizing appears in the last few pages just before you thankfully slap the cover closed on this odd little number. (Spoiler alert:  If you're good at reading titles, you'll probably figure out how the story ends early on.)  Ah, I remember when I carried the torch for a cute little sixth grade minx who really knew how to fill a Brownie uniform.  Grr.  I accept this part of my life as part of what makes me human & forgive myself because--& this is key--I was 11 years old at the time.

Benito Cereno, Herman Melville.  Mr. Moby Dick's novella reads like a comedy of manners, minus the comedy, until the next to last chapter in which the actual story is retold via a deposition, which is--if I may provide a tip to writers everywhere--not a good strategy for narrative, for it violates a basic rule of writing:  show, don't tell.  I'd suggest that someone, since Melville can't do so posthumously, rewrite this story to tell it from beginning to end in an ABC manner.  Melville makes some mention of his reason for not writing the story chronologically, but it sounds more like an excuse to me, which, as a seasoned educator, I've learned to disregard.

Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon, Pablo Neruda, trans. Stephen Mitchell.  I've read this countless times, but who's counting?  The point is, I like Mitchell's translation very much.

Blasts Cries Laughter, Lawrence Ferlinghetti.  While I agree with many of the sentiments put forth in these poems, they don't represent the best of Ferlinghetti's poetry.  In fact, they seem to resemble poems less than they do outbursts, as is, I suppose, suggested by the title.  I would recommend readers new to Ferlinghetti read Pictures of the Gone WorldLandscapes of Living & Dying, A Coney Island of the Mind or maybe Endless Life instead.

New Collected Poems, George Oppen.  It's disheartening--or perhaps encouraging, depending upon your perspective--to consider the number of critically acclaimed poets who over time have become largely forgotten.  An Objectivist in the cool Louis Zukofsky-William Carlos Williams sort of way, not the creepy Ayn Rand way, Oppen, whose collection Of Being Numerous received the Pulitzer Prize in 1968, is one of the those poets.  This collection includes each of Oppen's earlier books as well as poems, both published & unpublished, that hadn't previously appeared in any book.  Also, there's a CD of Oppen reading, which you can't get on the internet apparently or I'd post a link, but if you want to read a poem aloud yourself, then by all means, click this & have at it.

Read more:

Fistful of Comments about Books I've Read This Year 2
Fistful of Comments about Books I've Read This Year

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Amerika No Haiku

     "A house divided
against itself cannot stand
     itself."  --A. Lincoln



Friday, July 3, 2015

New Poems

I’m pleased to announce that I have two new poems online: “Epilogue” appears in the July 2015 issue of Gyroscope Review & “Off to ’Nam,That’s Where” is in Issue 8 of Marathon Literary Review. Please feel free to share these links.

Many thanks to the editors of both Gyroscope Review & Marathon Literary Review.

Also, a recent broadcast of Books Unbound, a radio program on WFHB in Indiana, included a reading of my poem “Hole” in the episode “Not Somewhere Else But Here.” (Jump to the 9:15 mark to hear my poem, but when you have time, I recommend listening to the entire program.)  While the wrong book is attributed–“Hole” actually appears in my chapbook Here’s How, not in Nearing Narcoma, which is, by the by, a full-length book–that hardly takes away from the total coolness of hearing my poem over the radio. Great thanks to all the good people at Books Unbound.

Friday, June 5, 2015

god on a shoestring

god loves you.  he loves
you unconditionally.
he has a funny
way of showing it is all.
look how he hung jesus out

to die.  that's tough love.
he did it to prove a point,
though it's unlikely
he'll win father of the year
in the near eternity.

jesus loves you too.
he loves you very much, but
he used to hang with
the wrong crowd, so now he's got
herpes, as now, so do you.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Fistful of Comments about Books I've Read This Year 2


Lorca & Jiménez, trans. Robert Bly.  I bought this collection way, way back in grad school as one of the required texts for a poetry workshop.  I don't recall that we ever actually read any of the poems for class, but personally I read just about every poem I could get my hands on in those days.  As a result, I've amassed a long list of poets whom I wouldn't read on a plane, train or boat, not to mention with a fox, mouse or goat.  That list, however, doesn't include Lorca, Jiménez or Bly, though I probably hadn't read this book since I earned my master's--at least not cover to cover--before picking it up recently.  My temptation here is to reminisce about my salad bar days as a poet, but instead, I'm posting a couple of my favorite poems from this volume:

Death

    So much effort!
Effort the horse makes to be the dog!
Effort the dog makes to be the swallow!
Effort the swallow makes to be a bee!
Effort the bee makes to be a horse!
And the horse,
what a sharp arrow it presses out of the rose!
What a gray rose it lifts up from its teeth!
And the rose,
what a mob of lights and barks
it ties into the living sugar of the treetrunk!
As for the sugar,
what tiny daggers it dreams of while awake!
And the tiny daggers,
what a moon without mangers, what naked bodies--
with skin eternal and blushing--they look and look for!
And I, when I am on the roof,
what a pure seraphim of fire I want to be and am!
But this plaster arch,
how immense it is, how invisible, how tiny,
no effort at all.

                       --Federico Garcia Lorca

In New York

   In New York, which is a bad friend--don't ask me why--of Boston, the cultivated city, the Hub, there are some verses going around like this:

                    Here is to good old Boston,
                   the home of the bean and the cod,
                   where the Cabots speak only to the Lowells,
                   and the Lowells speak only to God.

    I know one of the Cabot women well.  How bored the Lowells must be!  I read "The Fountain" by Lowell.  How bored God must be!

                       --Juan Ramón Jiménez


Sanctuary, William Faulkner.  I first read this one hot & humid summer while an undergraduate living at my folks' home.  Lying in bed, surrounded by my boyhood things, a novel about alcoholism, murder & rape seemed a pleasant escapist read.  To be honest, before I picked it up again, I couldn't remember a damn thing about the book.  For all I knew, it was about an enchanted blue humpback at the Mississippi Military Academy (a fully-accredited institution of higher learning) who had to go door-to-door to sell the most magazine subscriptions of Better Guns & Guarding or face Gen. Thumb's academic firing squad, a euphemism for either expulsion or castration, I forget, because he'd gotten the sardonic, sadistic dean's 16-year-old, unmarried, extraterrestrial, suicidal stepdaughter, who was hooked on phonics or bathtub heroin or quilts or some crazy shit like that, drunk & pregnant, both in the same night, before--spoiler alert--getting caught in the crossfire of warring gangs of cross-dressing Nazi bikers. Nah, I just made that last bit up--there were zero bikers.  Anyway, that smug little yellow-paged paperback sat on its shelf mocking me (cheep cheep cheep cheep cheep) for my memory's ever increasing number of drop zones until I broke down & reread it.  Not Faulkner's best--if I recall, he pretty much hated it--but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a waste of time.  What're you doing that's so damned important anyway?

Naked Lunch, William Burroughs.  I pretty much have to agree with Nelson Muntz's assessment of the movie adaptation of this beat classic.  Burroughs adamantly insisted that Naked Lunch isn't a novel; I'll likewise maintain that it's not much of a read either.  Burroughs, however, provides an almost anecdotal breakdown of various drugs in pseudo-glossary form, which the casual user of recreational drugs may find entertaining if not helpful.  I point this out, not because it's my particular thing, but as sort of a Public Service Announcement.  In other words, if you were to O.D. at my place, man, that would be the most inconsiderate thing anyone's ever done to me.

The Sibyl, Par Lagerkvist.  I enjoyed this novel/novella more the first time I read it, but I'd still recommend it to anyone who's not familiar with it, though not to those who've already read it. Lagerkvist explores the Epicurean paradox through the lives of two characters, each cursed by their respective gods.  Jesus, if you'll pardon the pun, as one who sometimes feel cursed himself, I've often pondered, even though I'm agnostic, the question:  How can a god that willingly allow evil be a good god?  (Short answer:  he/she/it can't--that's why it's a paradox; long answer:  read Hume, Kant, Spinoza, Leibniz, Russell, etc.)  Whether you read The Brothers Karamazov or binge watch the Marx Brothers, I doubt if you true-believers among us will find a satisfactory answer unless you truly believe the old pablum that without evil you wouldn't know what good is--solipsism at its finest--or that God, in his infinite wisdom & low-fat goodness, allows people to suffer in order that they may build character.  For instance, consider the plight of the struggling artist who after years of rejection, abandons his creative aspirations & takes up an alternate path, one in which he proves himself a force to be reckoned with, you know, like Adolph Hitler. Oh, good one, God! Indeed,you may, as Lagerkvist seems to do in The Sibyl, begin to ask not only if God is evil, but also if God is a petty & malicious dick, er, dictator.  If we turn to L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz, when Glinda the Good Witch of the North, traveling inside her magic bubble, pops in to ask Dorothy, her relocated farmhouse planted firmly atop the withered corpse of the Wicked Witch of the East, if she's a good witch or a bad witch, Dorothy denies that she--or her little dog Toto, for that matter--is a witch at all.  This depiction refers to the generally more well known movie adaptation of Baum's book, but according to the Hagakure--who better to ask than a samurai--this applies to all cases.

The Complete Poems of Marianne Moore.  As the title suggests, this is not a book for anyone looking for Moore's unfinished poems, only the ones that she's completed.  This volume contains several previously unpublished poems, but I'm unsure whether Moore produced a entire volume of incomplete poems.  I tend to doubt it, but if you're curious, why not Google it?  As for myself, I read Moore primarily due to my interest in syllabic verse. Moore-over, ha, it doesn't hurt that Moore's lyrical, philosophical & generally accessible. A few poems I enjoy are "To a Giraffe," "The Icosasphere" and "What Are Years?"

Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf.  One of my favorite passages from one of my favorite novels by one of my favorite writers follows:

So he ruminated.  It was his habit.  He did not go deeply.  He brushed surfaces; the dead languages, the living, life in Constantinople, Paris, Rome; riding, shooting, tennis, it had been once.  The malicious asserted that he now kept guard at Buckingham Palace, dressed in silk stockings and knee-breeches, over what nobody knew.  But he did it extremely efficiently.  He had been afloat on the cream of English society for fifty-five years.  He had known Prime Ministers.  His affections were understood to be deep.  And if it were true that he had not taken part in any of the great movements of the time or held important office, one or two humble reforms stood to his credit; an improvement in public shelters was one; the protection of owls in Norfolk another; servant girls had reason to be grateful to him; and his name at the end of letters to the Times, asking for funds, appealing to the public to protect, to preserve, to clear up litter, to abate smoke, and stamp out immortality in parks, commanded respect.


Read more reviews:  Fistful of Comments about Books I've Read This Year

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Fistful of Comments on Books I've Read This Year

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Oliver Sacks.  I've had this book on my shelf for years, but only now have I gotten around to reading it.  Among the seriously weird-ass cases included, the jazz musician with Tourette's piqued my interest, but if Tourette's & jazz aren't your particular cup of peculiar tea, maybe you'll like the piece trumpeting the benefits of syphilis for the elderly.  Beats The National Enquirer hands down.

Norwood, Charles Portis.  I like this better than Dog of the South because Portis is able to accomplish pretty much the same crazy, random shit in significantly fewer pages & that's important to me because I'm busy as hell these days, what with Netflix, the internet & everything.

Funny, Jennifer Michael Hecht.  Hecht uses jokes as the bases for poems; I do just the opposite, heh. I'd suggest that she not use jokes that everyone's heard, but instead write her own jokes.  That would make Funny funnier--well, one hopes.  SCTV alum Andrea Martin wrote one of the cover blurbs.  I'm lying if I say I'm not just a tad jealous.  I'd love for maybe Martin Short (as Ed Grimley) to write a blurb for my next book, whenever that is, but here's hoping it's sooner rather than later because nobody's getting any younger, you know.

The Edible Woman, Margaret Atwood.  Here's what the critics say:
         "For me!"  --Frisch's Big Boy
         "Shows . . . good taste."--Charlie Tuna
         "Magically delicious." --Lucky the Leprechaun
         "Moist & easy." --Betty Crocker
         "Finger lickin' good." --Col. Harland Sanders
         "I'm lovin' it!" --Ronald McDonald
         "M'm, m'm, good!"--Campbell Kids
         "Fresh. Fast. Tasty." --Jimmy Johns
         "Better than fast food."  --Wendy's
         "If it doesn't get all over the place, it doesn't belong in your face."  --Carl's Jr.
         "That's hot!"  --Paris Hilton
         "Yum!" --Red Robin
         "Thirty-one flavors." --Baskin Robbins
         "Fifty-seven varieties."  --H.J. Heinz
         "It is nourishing in ways we can't fully understand."  --Joyce Carol Oates
         "It's the right thing to do & the tasty way to do it."  --Wilfred Brimley
         "Good to the last drop."  --Maxwell House
         "Melts in your mouth, not in your hands."  --Eminem
         "Makes meat loaf sing."  --Meat Loaf
         "A.1.  Yeah, it's that important."  --George IV
         "Got milk?" --U.S. Milk Industry
         ". . .  grrrrrr-eat!" --Tony T. Tiger
         "Famously fresh."  --Mr. Peanut
         "Incredible . . . "  --American Egg Board
         "Yes."  --Del Monte
         "Uncommonly good." --Ernie Keebler
         "What a flavor!  Zippity-zoo, it's great & how!"  --Euell Gibbons
         "How do you feed a hungry man?"  --Carl A. Swanson
         "I'm the pie & the pie is good all by itself.  Even if I don't have a cherry."  --Halle Berry
         "They have all the pieces.  The thing is to come together."  --Darryl Strawberry
         "Recommended."  --Duncan Hines
         "Beyond compare."  --Ron Varadero
         "Unwrap a smile."  --Little Debbie
         "Oh, yeah!"  --Hungry Jack
         "Hoo-hoo!"  --Poppin' Fresh
         "Ho ho ho."  --J. G. Giant
         "A generation ahead.'" --Pep Sicola
         "Breakfast of Champions."  --Kurt Vonnegut
         "It's not just for breakfast anymore."  --Florida Orange Growers Association
         "Don't go 'round hungry." --Snyder's Lance
         "Au rhythms et au gout d'aujourd'hui"  --B. K.
         "There'll be griddle marks."  --John Candy
         "The cheesiest."  --James L. Kraft
         "Thank goodness!"  --Chef Boyardee
         "Progress in civilization has been accompanied by progress in cookery."  --Fannie Farmer
         "I read zombie books."  --Kevin Bacon
         "Only the finest."  --Russell Stover
         "Betcha can't eat just one."  --Herman W. Lay
         "Eat it.  Anytime."  --Jack in the Box

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams.  Sure, I could dub this a modern day Gulliver's Travels & note a few obvious parallels, as well as some obscure & perhaps even far-fetched ones, but that takes way, way more effort than I'm good for.  Besides, for fuck-a-dilly's sake, what can I really say about a semi-cult classic?  "So long & thanks for all the fish," I guess.

Issa's Best, Kobayashi Issa.  High kudos!  See what I did there?  I made a pun, which I offer in the spirit of this extraordinary collection of haiku.  Did you know that haiku means "light verse"?  Also, do  means "the way."  Thus, haikudo, if it were, in fact, a word, would mean "the way of light verse" & Kobayashi Issa would be the Tsunetomo Yamatoto of haiku, at least in my book.

Dream of Fair to Middling Women, Samuel Beckett.  Meh.

Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson.  I laughed my ass off when I first read this motherfucker in high school & thought some x-ty years later, I'd do the same.  While I still find Duke & Gonzo's hi-jinx highly amusing,  my sad & sizable ass,  if I may be so blunt, remains less than firmly intact, but--& it's a mighty big but--this book, to quote the late great Anna Nicole Smith, is fucking genius. Movie's pretty decent, too--huzzah, Terry Gilliam--unlike the recent release of Thomas Pynchon's hilarious novel, Inherent Vice, which Paul Thomas Anderson decided, when transposing it to the screen, to sap of all but the very stems & seeds of humor, opting instead to make it a moody period piece. For instance, Anderson reduces the absurdly paranoid conversations that occur throughout the book between Doc & Sancho--allusively akin to Thompson's Duke & Gonzo--to a few whispery somber scenes.  That Benicio del Toro played both Gonzo & Sancho in the movies suggests that Anderson saw this parallel, but perhaps thought that he--having never read Pynchon, if I may conjecture--should treat the subject matter with all due sobriety in light of the gravitas of Pynchon's literary reputation & ipso facto missed the laffboat.  As is usually the case, I was right to fear its adaptation to film.

The Collected Poems of Weldon Kees.  Here's a fucking poet I don't fucking read often enough.   I fucking love the Robinson poems--if you haven't fucking read my fucking parody, "Aspects of Dagwood," fucking click here or here--as fucking well as a whole fucking slew of his poems, infuckingcluding "For My Daughter," "Guide to the Symphony" & "Crime Club," which fucking reminds me of one of my all-fucking-time faves, Kenneth fucking Fearing.  Kees is fucking great & all--nobody's fucking arguing that's he's not--but that fucking said, he's also fucking depressing & I'm so fucking depressed these days that I can barely fucking stand myfuckingself.

Pronto, Elmore Leonard.  OK, so I'd not read Leonard before--or after, for that matter, but Jeez-us, give it time, won't ya?  I enjoyed the story well enough--the incidental crap about literature's favorite fascist, Ezra Pound, was an unexpected, um, let's say treat--so maybe I'll read some more Leonard & maybe I won't. So what's it to you?


Read more: 
Dollar, Dollar, Year End Review Scholar 
Last Quarter:  Year End Round Up of Two-Bit Reviews
Year End Reviewz




Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Four Poems

Good news!  As my latest futile gesture in an indifferent universe, I'm pleased to tell you that I have four new poems in the current issue of The Legendary You can read them by clicking here, then clicking my name. (If you're curious about their form, click here.) Feel free to click me as much as you like.  I need more than a little clicking if I'm honest, but you can click other writers too. I promise not to be jealous. Click 'em all, that's what I say.

Many thanks to the editors of The Legendary.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Your Eyes Are Diamonds

at a baseball game
in which a Texas
league single breaks up
the no-hitter in the ninth
on a two-out, two-
O pitch before
the paid attendance
of 43,000 whistling
manically when you kick
your stockinged leg
high as a Rockette &
your patented split
finger four seam round-
house knuckle curve
slider thumps into my old
catcher’s mitt, the ump
squeals strike three
& I kiss you squarely
on the mound. Sweet
creamy nougat smothered
in rich milk chocolate, you
are my all-everything
center, anchoring
the line yet maintaining
your femininity while
I, the chiseled-chin
quarterback, smack your
ass & bark signals.
Standing tall in the pocket
I want to go long, but
Dick Butkus is coming
on a red dog, so I
eyeball the flanker’s
quick slant over the soft
middle when boom!
You pancake the blitzing
Bear backer, letting me
uncork a tight spiral
to the wide-out streaking
up the sideline for six.
Flag on the play. You’re
not the center, but the starting point
guard, a WAC sophomore
majoring in recreation &
an exceptional ball
handler. I’m your back
court complement, a slick
shooting small forward
with uncanny touch
behind the arc, a former
Diaper Dandy who never
lived up to the hype, but I’m
a senior now on fire
in the Big Dance, banging
clutch threes, man on top
of me, clock ticking
down when a true freshman
from Indiana beats me
off the dribble & takes it
to the hole untouched, but you
slip through a hard base line
pick & strip the buttery
Hoosier clean on the
double team & we fast
break the other way with
the acrobatic behind the
head between the legs jam.
Hooray! I’m the famous
Cap’n Spalding after big game
& you’re the buxom blonde
safari guide, expeditiously
tromping aphrodisiacal
foliage, shooting a foam-
flanked, torch-eyed
elephant in your zebra
striped pajamas. Exactly
how an elephant got
in your pajamas, honey,
I wish I knew, but I’m not
really Groucho—I just
walk that way after kissing
your bumper lapping you
at Talladega, my wine
No. 69 Chevy spilling
into the retaining wall &
bursting into a barrel-rolling
ball of flame, my brief
career seemingly over. Yet
time in & out
we’ve skated cross-ice
through the crease, body
checked by slashing, high
sticking goons
on shorthanded
power plays, me at left
wing & you—yes, the center
after all, not only
on the ice, but in every
milieu, slapping the puck
like the Great One.


 

Monday, January 19, 2015

MLK Day

I really enjoyed listening to this recently discovered recording of Martin Luther King, Jr., today on Democracy Now, so I'm sharing it with you here

Monday, January 5, 2015

New Year News

At this time of year, one is apt, whether advisable or not, to reflect upon the year gone past.  As the 17th century Japanese poet Soin says in haiku:

yuku toshi ya
tsuredatsu mono wa
nani to nani

Well, if you’re like me & most Americans, then you really don’t know Japanese, despite tattoos to suggest otherwise, but you do know the only kind of analogies that make any kind of sense are sports analogies, so you’ll understand when I say that, in a way, the Cleveland Browns season mirrored 2014 for me.  Believe it or not, the Browns were actually in first place in their division come mid-season & as November rolled around, their 7-4 record boded well for the playoffs.  Similarly, I'd published a good number of poems throughout the first half of last year & things were looking up.  Would this be the year that my “wonderfully witty,” “tightly-crafted,” “funny & smart” book manuscript, a finalist & semifinalist at several highfalutin presses, finally found a publisher?  

Sadly, the Browns finished the season on a five game losing streak to once again sink to the bottom of the AFC North & my book, even though I received complimentary letters about my collection, ran into a virtual buzz-saw of rejections that made me question whether I’d made a huge mistake all those years ago when I'd dedicated my life to poetry.  If so, at my age, it's far too late to change course now even if I wanted to.  To be fair, it's not my view of poetry, but rather my opinion of certain other poets, who'll remain nameless here, that has changed & not in a good way.

However, just as the long-suffering Browns fan—is there any other kind?--will eventually evoke the names of Hall of Famers like the late Otto Graham & the great Jim Brown to summon hope, in December, Subprimal Poetry Art published “One Night,” a poem from my first book, Nearing Narcoma, as if to say, “Wait ‘til next year!”

2015 is off to a good start.  On the very first day of the year, my team—THE Ohio State University—beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl to earn the right to play for college football’s national championship.  Ezekiel Elliot’s 85 yard run for a TD—which, I swear to fucking God, I called just seconds before—solidified the Buckeye victory.  

Also on January 1, my sonnet “Like Francois Villon” appeared in Utter.  

An auspicious sign?  Who knows?  Maybe the Buckeyes will beat the Ducks & win their first national championship since 2003--the same year Nearing Narcoma won the Main Street Rag Poetry Prize.  Maybe this will be THE year for me, too.

With thanks to the editors of not only these two magazines, but of each & every magazine that's published my work, as well as to those who in the future may, here’s hoping the new year is not like Ramasses III, enemy of the Sea Peoples, but rather Ramasses II, which is to say, great!