Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Acceptance: Literary Orphans (ISSUE14: BB King)


Editor-in-Chief Mike Joyce has marshalled the force of over 20 volunteers to produce this incredible issue of the very exciting and accelerating zine, Literary Orphans.  I say "accelerating" because LO broke attendance records on its 2nd anniversary issue and was featured in none other than Poets & Writers for its cool project, The Rookery.  The idea behind The Rookery is to preserve and protect the contents of zines that were great, even legendary, but now for whatever reason defunct.  Two recent recipients of this preservationist push are The Fiddleback and The Newport Review.

(Off the top of my head, I would like to see Bolts of Silk and Barnwood Review protected.)

Editor Joyce is full of jouissance!  In my brief interactions with him, I felt an electric charisma, a sparkling and infectious brilliance.  He is expert at mobilizing a large team of editors and organizers, and Literary Orphans has over 90 likes in Duotrope (the online Poets Market), and surely a great following on Facebook (alas, I have yet to take the plunge into that mega-social arena).

Three of my poems appear in ISSUE 14.  One of them is pure sex, and includes a ball-gag.  The other two are some of the most unusual twists on personal identity I have ever attempted.

Here's a direct link:

My Poems In Literary Orphans

Stop by and see why people are crowing and cantering about LO!

Best To All,


Monday, July 14, 2014

In A Nutshell #1

In a Nutshell
(a new column, brought to you by Owl Who Laughs)

Title of the New York Times article on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (buried down the front page):

Israel Shoots Down Hamas Drone Sent From Gaza


Title of the Al Jazeera article on the same conflict (top of page, large font):

Israeli offensive enters 7th day amid protest, death and flight of Gazans

Nutshell:  The difference in the two titles, alone, tells you a lot.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Release: IthacaLit Summer 2014

Teleport To IthacaLit

Ithaca Lit goes live! And it includes "Written," which, among all the poems I've penned, is among my top ten favorites. Go to the webpage, click on "twelve poets," then click on the photograph in the top right corner--and you'll be transported to this poem. I'd do it all again, the thirteen years of thousands of rejections and desolations and lonelinesses and failures--just for this one poem.

Take Care and Remember--the Golden Mean allows for unbridled ecstasy, sometimes--


Monday, July 7, 2014

Release: Almost 5Q

VISIT ALMOST 5Q (scroll down to Summer #68, if you're reading this belatedly)

My poem "Irises In a Portrait" launched solo on July 4th on Almost 5Q's website! What an honor, making it an extra-cool Independence Day for me. What is Almost 5Q? Why such an idiosyncratic name? It's a cool story, one I explain here:

Owl's Review of Almost 5Q

The short version is that there is a journal named Five Quarterly (or 5Q) that only publishes five poems a quarter, selected by five editors; and yet often the runners up get published in Almost 5Q.

Folks, I am thrilled to be a runner up! The poem, "Irises In a Portrait" is unique, too, channeled through me by a spirit I may never have contacted before. It's one of my most orginal and best poems. This is the height of my ability, "the highest point of all my greatness" as Shakespeare says (unfortunately, it continues: "and from that full meridian of my glory, I hast now to my setting").

I'd be honored if you checked it out!

A Jazzed Owl

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Acceptance: IthacaLit Review

I was contacted by Michele Lesko at IthacaLit about my poem "Written," which will be appearing in a future issue. It was years ago that Ithaca Lit launched off, and I think I wrote a review about it. The journal was an exciting venture back then, and today it has only grown and thrived. The pages are absolutely beautiful, the content professional, the art and literature incessantly absorbing.

I'm extra-jazzed because "Written" is a poem I felt a special connection with from the first draft. I kept editing it, working it, changing the specifics while struggling to retain the essence. By the time I sent it to IthacaLit, maybe was perhaps worthy of publication in such an outstanding venue.

Of the thousands of poems I've written, I have only memorized two. "Written" might become the third. I really feel a bond with this poem, one solidified over many months, maybe over a year, of intimate immersion.

Thank you Editor Lesko, thank you IthacaLit! You shine!


PS: one of the poems I've memorized is this one, and here it is in audio format, read by Nic Sebastian (this is my favorite online presentation of one of my poems ever, because of Sebastian's incredible voice and talent):

Friday, June 27, 2014

George Will's Sexist Reprehensible Disgusting Remarks

Looks like George Will is going to get away with his sexist remarks. When famous and even powerful people make racist remarks (as the recent owner of a basketball team) they suffer serious consequences. Apparently you can still say horrible sexist things and basically slide.

Here's my Oped, which I tried to publish in a few newspapers, but no one was taking.



Academia Should Rebuke George Will

Universities everywhere, public and private, should officially condemn remarks made recently by George Will in his nationally syndicated column. Will said that being a rape victim in a college environment brings a “coveted status that confers privileges,” and he claimed that “nonconsensual touching” is not a true form of sexual assault. Adding more fuel to the fire, he unreasonably challenged the well-documented statistic that one-in-five women in college will suffer sexual assault or attempted assault. Will recently doubled down on his invidious claims in a CSPAN interview. Four US Senators have written a letter denouncing his statements, and the St. Louis Dispatch has dropped his column in protest. Legitimate moral disgust and outrage at Will’s callous, preposterous, retrograde stance continues to grow and burst into new offshoots.

The institutions of higher learning have a chance not only do the right thing but to impress students, particularly female students. They are the primary targets of sexual assault on campus and are leading the fight to gain more recognition of the problem. Universities are badly lagging in their response to the epidemic of violence that belies collegial images of fun and camaraderie. The recent struggles of Emma Sulkowicz and other students at Columbia University to get justice has brought much needed national attention to the issue.

Any university or college that does not address George Will’s easily falsifiable remarks could, and should, lose moral stature. Over half the students in America are women, and at least half the potential students are women. This is a great chance to make a positive impression with a strong declaration against an absurd and crime-provoking statement, a statement tossed out almost offhandedly by a pundit clearly out of touch with the realities of campus life. Mark Wemple of the Washington Post seems to think so, and he points out, disparagingly, that all three editors who reviewed Will’s piece for print were male: “Women are the predominant victims of rape and sexual assault; therefore, they may have some insight on the editing of a column on sexual assault.”

Let me return to my claim that Will’s words are crime-provoking. They do indeed offer a catalyst of cultural reinforcement, from the pulpit of respected intelligentsia, for terrible illegal behaviors, the sort that break the right to privacy directly and despicably. Ms. Sulkowicz, in her struggle for justice, has already shown how difficult it is to get heard, let alone to motivate action. How much more difficult will it be if Will’s highly memorable claim of “coveted status” sinks into the natioinal psyche? His glossy dismissal of the widespread problem is, in effect, a permission slip for sexual assault. His denial of the plague of rape is great news for the rapist, and yet anathema for anyone aware of the damage, both physical and psychological, induced by the very real scourge on our campuses.

Will’s remarks have been defended on the grounds of freedom of speech. However, you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater; and if you shield and encourage sexual assault (by saying those who are victimized are privileged) you are doing something tantamount. Even if you consider Will’s remarks protected speech, that in no way implies they should be condoned by the leaders of our university system, who have a trust and obligation to provide a safe and open environment. When Cliven Bundy made blatantly racist statements, those who once favored him stepped back with sharp criticism. Is Will’s sexism not as bad as Bundy’s racism? And does not academia have a special obligation in this matter, standing in a direct position of leadership and policy concerning sexual assault on students?

Those ensconced in the Echelons of Ivory need to speak up. If they do not, all students should be offended. Potential students should make this an indicator of appeal, or lack thereof (“you’re condoning a guy who’s promoting sexual assault on campus?”). If administrators won’t act, students have every right and reason to initiate protests. Survivors of sexual assault often feel they are not heard by the system. George Will has added yet another prominent layer of fancy-worded denial, a cultural imprimatur of grave ignorance, despite the sesquipedalian packaging. Screaming at rape-deniers won’t work, but organized protest is a fair way to sublimate that justified internal scream into salient action.

On the other hand, a powerful unilateral condemnation of Will’s sexism by any university serves as a beacon for prospective students, and a magnet of respect for current students, who will then feel that their administration is aware of the tremendous problem, and not just another unresponsive, unhealthy bureaucracy.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Acceptance: Offcourse #57

Visit Offcourse

See three of my poems, including the conformity-crushing "Sims," in the latest issue of this hidden gem of a journal, run by the brilliant Editors Ricardo and isabel N/nirenberg. They are humble, modest in terms of presentation--and yet the words, the amazing words! Here you will find the quintessence of the poetic craft, the marrow of the ancient art, the soul-bared revelations of those who grip phrases as if seizing onto the horns of dangerous beasts. There is nothing here but Truth and Beauty as these instantiate in the full spectrum of mud-spackled, air-kneaded, water-drunk, fire-strummed emotions. There is Justice here, as Truth and Beauty meld into such when the heart is free and rides with the Muse in abandon. Ah, this is the most overlooked yet special site on the web, perhaps! I don't know what else to say.

Look, the other day I found this epigraph in a volume of the collected works of Neruda--and it calls out to me as I think of Offcourse, and what these two editors have done. I end with this. Nothing else could say what needs to be said, from my metaphysical throat, right now:

And I tell you that you should open yourselves to hearing an authentic poet, of the kind whose bodily senses were shaped in a world that is not our own and that few people are able to perceive. A poet closer to death than to philosophy, closer to pain than to intelligence, closer to blood than to ink.

--Federico Garcia Lorca


Monday, June 16, 2014

Poem: Guitarist

Originally published in Crack the Spine.

To see my interview with CTS, go here!

Owl Interviewed In CTS

Best To All,




crushes of gapes
in an interlace of sweat.
i walked above them like a sultry key;
like the kind of knife they used
to cut open their fruit.

love was precious, perhaps,
but i could see it in almost every eye,
glistening with the impulse
for regret.

my string-sung songs
fluttered like febrile birds,
uncaged as they rippled,
scudding on young lakes of sighs.

the intimacy was as real
as the rut of a cat,
but in the morning, the rumpus
condensed into dewy pain.

people trickled off, sucked
by the walls of the same grey cubes,
while the sun poured its useless cures
on the ache of their bedraggled heads.

tomorrow the music
would start up all over again,
and the screams and the frays
and the riffs.

there were too many of them,
the sad perky crowds,
blending together yet granular,
spread out across everything

that could be touched.

it was a world of stung myths,
glimpsed under a few brief spotlights:
beacons of the faun,
risen from the aftermath
of clock-numbed days.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Acceptance: Poppy Road Review


My poem "Aria of Was" is currently featured on this beautiful journal's website. Simply follow the above link and look for the June 11 entry. Behind the scenes is that wonderful impressario, empress of the eloquent, Sandy Benitez. For many years she has been generously editing/publishing and thereby supplying the poetry world with moving magical poems. Back in 2007, she published a piece of mine called "Candle Under Stars"--and that acceptance, early in my journey as a poet, provided me with reinforcement on my quest to seek Beauty and Truth through my art, as well as the Justice.

I wish I had more time to write and praise Ms. Benitez. Please visit Poppy Road Review. You'll get to see a poignant love poem by me, something I rarely if ever do. More importantly, there are many other beautiful pieces available, providing a constellation of soul-felt journeys.

Be good to yourself and listen to your own heart's songs.


direct link to "Aria of Was":

Monday, June 9, 2014

The way in which we have been accumstomed to think of ourselves as isolated, cerebral units standing above the natural world blocks our understanding of how deeply and directly what goes wrong with that world can concern us. Here I think that recent propaganda for individualism--most notably the sociobiological literature of 'selfishness'--is still dangerously distorting people's perceptions. A gquite different imagery is needed to make us grasp realistically that we are actually part of the natural world. I shall suggest that an excellent corrective here is the concept of Gaia--of the world as a self-maintaining whole, comparable to a single organism--a whole within which we, like all other creatures, are involved and play our part.

Mary Midgley, Science and Poetry