Sunday, January 29, 2012

Poem: Anxiety Disorder

This originally appeared in Kill Poet #9. Kill Poet is one of the most innovative and ferocious journals on the web. It is run in a psycho-delic way by editors who brutalize the norm and don't seem able to adjust to 'reality.'

Good for them. I wish them the best on their dangerous journey.

To fight the empire is to be infected by its derangement

Phillip K. Dick

Read my review of Kill Poet, if you wish:

Dangerous Stuff

Carry Forth,

Owl

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Anxiety Disorder

stress wears her shark and wasp dress
to the dance and of course i
get stuck to her hip even though
she’s chemical and illusion,
peace killer and nerve strangler,
maenad of cardiocide.

but we rumba close and fast
to the edge of the stairs, dip into peril
that has to run,
foxtrot and lindy hop,
disrupting waltzes
and wrecking pavanes.

nothing cute in my twists or her spider jive,
just a seizure
doing its best to be covert.
no one can see her either,
just that dandy disintegrating me.
breath-starved clown bumbling on a precipice,
hag- and sweat- and hurt-ridden.

a solo zugzwang
with my organs for chesspieces.
either the white or the black silk
of the social burial shroud has checkmated me.
it doesn’t matter.



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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Release: Gloom Cupboard, Poetry #141

Gloom Cupboard, venerable yet always new, eloquent in its goal to hold injustice up by the neck, has released its “Poetry #141,” which includes “Plague,” one of the best Neruda-style poems I have ever written.

You can read this poem, which took over six months to craft, by clicking the following link and, afterward, scrolling down:

POETRY #141

The editors often say courageous things of the sort that will get you banned from the mainstream media. They are like Noam Chomsky. The New York Times called Noam Chomsky one of the greatest thinkers of our time, and yet he is almost never allowed to speak up where he might be widely heard.

In addition to painful truths, Gloom Cupboard presents dreamy hypnotic poetry of all kinds, from the arcadian to the stygian. The phrases flow like absinthe into your widening pupils.

Please consider spending some time with this fugitive website. Imagine a world where most people are in a dull jail that monitors their senses and minds carefully; and yet one inmate escapes, pulls off the hobbles and the gag.

What would you give to listen to that inmate?

Best to all,

Owl

PS: See my review of Gloom Cupboard here:

Hoot Marks The Spot

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Acceptance: Lily Lit Review

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VISIT LILY

Lily is a special journal in the world of poetry. For four years, it published a new issue every single month, an amazing feat of editorial prowess. Not just the quantity but also the quality of the poems, paired with evocative photography, drew attention.

As Editor Susan Culver-Graybeal says in the "About" section:

In those four years, Lily published interviews with, and work by, writers such as Pushcart Prize winner, Beth Ann Fennelly; National Book Award nominee, Alicia Ostriker; Pulitzer Prize poets, Paul Muldoon and Claudia Emerson; and former U.S. Poet Laureate, Ted Kooser. Conversely, Lily has also been the first publication credit for a number of emerging poets and writers.

After these four furious years of intense excellence, Editor Culver (not yet -Graybeal) took a well-deserved break. A few years later, she returned with the blog site, Poetry Friends, which published absolutely stunning poems one at a time, but only at a sporadic rate, averaging a handful a month.

Now Lily is back. It is very exciting. Volume 5 started up in May 2011, and has been proceeding along with a new issue every month.

Folks, I recommend this journal very highly. The combination of intense poetry and evocative photography works; in fact, it sings out in a variety of beautiful literary voices. The poetry isn't always happy. Sometimes it is dark and harsh. But it always reaches into you and grabs you by the deepest chords of your heart. You wouldn't want it any other way, and Lily dares to take you up on your challenge.

I'm intensely pleased that my poem "New Skin" will be appearing in the next issue. Susan Culver-Graybeal is one of those rare talented poets who also dedicate themselves to editing with equal passion, and the result is phenomenon of grace, insight, music and eloquence.

Thanks for reading,

Owl

Friday, January 20, 2012

Homeless Story of J, Part 16

All fiction, no worries...

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XVI

I have seen the Devil. It is simple. Nothing but a great Cookie Cutter that stamps not dough but minds. Once a mind is stamped, it takes in miniature the form of the Devil. It attempts to encircle and shape other minds.

When people talk nowadays, I hear mostly cookie cutters. You can see the mental cage--for that is what it is--through the medium of words or body language. Sometimes, I hear only one sentence, but that is enough. I have been known to approach those who are especially gone and exclaim, “Aha! you have been stamped, molded, soul in a box.”

If Jesus comes to me, I chant my warding spell, “soulinabox, soulinabox, soulinabox” and Jesus goes away.

Because the cookie cutter lives through words, it can move as fast as fire and lightning. Since the rise of the machines, words have been able to strike anywhere in the world, assassinate from thousands of miles away.

Once the cookie cutter is a multitude, it is even harder for an individual to resist. Cookie cutters in hordes of little minds begin to piece together the full contours of the Devil, and these are Hate.

If the cookie cutter fails to stamp you, it will try again and again. It knows. You can fool it by pretending to be caught in its sharp edges. Obedient. Trite. The Devil’s banal echo.

If you pretend or protest, you will be gnawed at by the constant knife. It hits softly, again and again, seeking to infect your will power, your stamina, your patience. It hates the philosophy, art and spirit that not only protect your mind but regenerate you. REMEMBER: If you cannot regenerate, you will lose in the end, your defenses nothing but rocks gradually eroded by constant waves.

Words said in kindness can be the most evil of demons. Think of missionaries fervent with cookie-cutter Love while they go about dismantling culture and independence, filling minds with the equivalent of Santa Claus.

You cannot trust those who approach you with the cookie cutter’s shallow simulacrums. You will want to, because you are alone, tired, frustrated, abandoned, penniless.

But if you accept, you are lost. The blade comes down like a psychic axe, chopping off your metaphysical limbs and wings. You get brutally reformed into a copy of the cookie cutter. You bleed deep invisible blood--the most heartfelt and meaningful sort--but it is trapped within the impenetrable sides of the hard device. Nothing is more callous than the cookie cutter, once you must rely on it to function.

Once you are inside, in anguish from losing your limbs and wings, you will never heal, because you aren’t free. You will smile and hide from your own anguish, the loss of what you are, while you parrot the mundane tune of hell.

Which is worse? To be dismembered and paralyzed in a quadriplegic replica, not of yourself, but the banality of the Devil? Or to feel the attack of the blade and yet deflect it, over and over, to keep your wisdom and sight?

Never forget the Good. It is not religious but beyond any religion. It dwells in the nature of things, a beautiful possibility in the soil of the cosmos. The Divine Good is what regenerates you. In my case, the Good has become a Goddess with many forms. It will approach you as you are, if you are brave.

Never forget that this world is purgatory. A test. If you embrace the Good, you defeat the Devil, even if it is merely a secret show of resistance.

Remember what I have told you: Busyness is the enemy of hard work and, crucial, there are worse fates than death.

J

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Acceptance: Gloom Cupboard

The chief poetry editor at Gloom Cupboard is Luis Albert Rivas and I am sitting here in anguish thinking he is a great man. I say this because of the way he sees and talks: where he has been with his mind, how he steps forward with terrible wisdom, and where he makes me go. This is from his intro to #138:

For some reason I’m in Chicago. For some reason thousands of people are occupying both public and private spaces in my country that’s not my country – that has been steadily and speedily destroying the Earth – flirting with the potential of an all-out uprising. Poetry, much like Bertolt Brecht’s take on art holds true:

“Art is not a mirror to hold up to society, but a hammer with which to shape it.”

I dig that. So as you read the poems, keep that in mind. Question everything. Break things. Fuck shit up.

http://gloomcupboard.com/2011/10/15/poetry-138/


There it is! Do you see what is filling my eyes with tears of necessity?

In #137, he commemorates the anniversary of 9/11 this way:

Here in the United States of America there is a lot of news coverage on the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, which is necessary journalism, for sure. But, unfortunately, it has overshadowed another Sept. 11 event, which most of you might not have been aware of, or–worst still–forgotten about. Thirty-eight years ago on Sept. 11, 1973, there was a bloody U.S./CIA-backed Coup in Chile against President Salvador Allende and his democratically elected socialist government. The attack was carried out by General Augusto Pinochet in compliance and with the full collaboration of the CIA and other covert U.S. agencies.

http://gloomcupboard.com/2011/09/13/poetry-137/


This is exactly essential. The problem in the Empire is that we are picky about which massacres we acknowledge. There is something damningly wrong about feeling only those hell-worthy crimes suffered and not those inflicted. Yes, we have inflicted numerous massacres of our own! We paint with weapons and lies in colors incarnadine.

Did you know? Maybe, as Rivas says, you never heard about the US government’s practice of overthrowing democratically elected leaders and replacing them with dictators who use death squads?

(Surely, though, you are aware at some level, that we ushered millions of Native Americans to their doom to found our Nation of Manifest Destiny?)

Or maybe, as Rivas says, you and I have committed the most awful failure of all: forgetting.

He continues in #137 to discuss the horror of Pinochet’s regime, including the unspeakable chance that Pablo Neruda was poisoned. This hurt me greatly. Rivas took a knife to my complacence:

After Pinochet took over Chile, he began rounding up and killing dissidents, Allende-loyalists, students, intellectuals, communists, socialists, writers, singers, musicians and poets, most notably Pablo Neruda (although it has been accepted that Neruda died of cancer on a hospital bed, a recent investigation has been launched into allegations that Neruda was deliberately poisoned by Pinochet’s forces).

Did you know that a US/CIA backed coup led to the arrest of Pablo Neruda, maybe (please gods no!) poisoned him?

(Honestly, the future will remember the US Empire as short lived and incredibly wicked, hedonistic, and self-righteous. Can we turn around the Decline?)

It has been so long since I heard an editor speak out with Neruda-worthy oration and condemnation and investigation and aberration. Rivas makes the rest of us seem like telltale sheep. Rivas is living in the painful energetic beautiful moment of taboo justice. He does not visit, he dwells.

It may be that he and I diverge in ideological ways. I am not a “card-carrying Communist” as he seems to claim for himself. In fact I would like Scandanavian-style mixed economies to spread throughout the world.

Free health care, childcare, and college education, plus paid vacations for all, and much more, from “cradle to grave.” This is a hearty socialism, combined with creative markets that prevent Greed from taking over. I think Neruda would approve. I hope so.

Our country, our Empire, banned Pablo Neruda, my poetic hero, from visiting. It installed monstrous tyrants who killed thousands and thousands of citizens with death squads, who used torture of the most hideous kind, all with our blessing.

In Indonesia, five hundred thousand people were killed after a US-backed coup (1965 in support of Sukarno).

Rivas is speaking with a philosophical razor. He isn’t afraid to use words like “fuck,” which I am afraid to use. Rivas is my hero. Introvert that I am, I haven’t heard anyone speak so well so forcefully so frankly in such a long time.

Everything we learned from the Great Depression, which was brought on by huge businesses dominating in unregulated markets, the free market capitalists would now destroy. They would dismantle Social Security and Medicare and the entire government-run safety net. (read Noami Klein, The Shock Doctrine).

Listen to Rivas. Read the poetry he publishes. There are two other editors listed along with him in the commentaries, Amber Bromer and Henry Ajumeze, and they are my heroes too.

It has been so long, it seems, that I have heard someone speak intelligently, passionately, wisely from Neruda's place of daring. Someone who brazenly, and yet with poise and sorcery of voice, challenges the money-led takeover of countries and souls.

What is "money" anyway? Some abstraction that bids us strangle love.

Please listen. We need to change. We need to occupy our minds with resistance and poems of healing and, yes, at this juncture in the fate of the world, ferocity.

Rivas quotes Brecht:

“Art is not a mirror to hold up to society, but a hammer with which to shape it.”

Listen! Do it! Speak from the aching lava under your trembling ribs.

As Rivas says, Fuck the world!

Occupy!


Owl

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Fanatic Capitalism is Killng Us

It is time for me to remind myself how sick and disturbing the economic system called “free market capitalism” or “laissez-faire” really is. If humanity survives the current Age of Narcissus, attaining a perch of insight, it will look back with gaping disbelief and gross horror.

If we act as ants, we are ants to the gods.

The cancer in our financial heart is easy to outline: our business elites have found a way to worship greed and convince themselves that it is the most beautiful force in the social universe. It’s that simple. You can stop reading here. If you do, imagine how ridiculous we will look to enlightened civilizations in future times (if by some miracle they ever manage to exist).

If you want details, you need look no further than the core premises of free market capitalism (which I sketch below). They are embraced with faith and fanaticism by their apostle economists; and also advantageously and slyly by kingpin entrepreneurs.

The origin of this fundamentalist economics is the so-called Chicago School at the University of Chicago in the 1950’s, with Milton Friedman emerging as the charismatic, tireless leader of the movement. His mentor was Friedrich Hayek, whose books are now sources of unwieldy mantras to his followers.

In its idealist form, the theory of capitalism states that markets can regulate themselves to produce a perfect equilibrium via an "invisible hand." Government bad, corporation good. It is a mathematical model based on unchallengeable premises, such as the all-importance of the urge for stuff.

To its adherents, it is a beautiful system of ideas, mathematically focused on an unregulated dance of buying and selling, which they praise in the way that Greek philosophers upheld the Platonic Forms or Christians worship God.

At the core is the pretty canard of self-interested materialistic desire. It has to be materialistic, because swiping our credit cards, on this view, is the essence of what makes us happy. Non-quantifiable sources of meaning, like spirituality and friendship, are microscopic compared to our insatiable want for more and newer things with competitive price tags.

Do you see how this view promotes Greed behind a guise of precious and abstract principles? The truth, though, is that the economic emperor of our time, free market capitalism, wears no clothes.

It was deregulated markets that brought us the Great Depression. After this destructive orgy of investment speculation, Franklin Delano Roosevelt remarked, “We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics.”

It was also deregulated markets that brought us the Great Recession in 2008. Monopoly and corruption inevitably follow when billionaires are not policed. But the fanatical followers of Friedman never learn.

Nowhere does a pure laissez-faire exist, and where it has been tried, the results are predictable: a cadre of crony entrepreneurs, a disappearing middle class, raging unemployment, and the dismantling of workers’ rights. A common tactic is to privatize, say, the transportation industry, destroy the union, fire the majority of workers, and watch the company stocks rise due to the “greater efficiency.” The corporate raiders then cash in while the company burns.

Laissez-faire is so callous and single-minded that the beauty of nature and respect for animals are not even on its map. It can’t understand non-human lives and ecosystems, except in terms of dollar signs, or more often a lack of dollar signs-- which leads to “development,” that Orwellian euphemism for destroying wilderness and mutilating millions of animals in lightless factory farms.

One of my favorite quotes in this regard comes from an apocalyptic work of fiction: “The [capitalists] fear what may not be purchased, for a trader cannot understand a thing that is priceless.” (Alpha Centauri)

The unworldly doctrine of free market capitalism is fully involved with the Satan-worthy practices of the US empire over decades. These include widespread torture, oppression, and self-serving wars. At the helm are extremely wealthy people whose conscience is unbothered by mass cruelty and evil.

This is but one of the horrible consequences of the Friedman-Hayek myth: it puts sociopathic moguls in charge of the world, accumulators who thrive on conquering and acquiring, and who have risen up through the competitive and corrupt world of the ‘free’ market by whatever callous and brutal force necessary.

I recommend the book “The Shock Doctrine” by Naomi Klein for a brilliant and life-changing introduction to these chilling issues. Another great book is “A Legacy of Ashes” by Tim Wiener. The best overarching reference is perhaps “Killing Hope” by William Blum.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Release: "Snowblink" at Bolts of Silk

My poem "Snowblink" is currently featured at one of my favorite websites, Bolts of Silk, which is edited by the talented writer Juliet Wilson (aka Crafty Green Poet to hundreds of adoring fans):

SNOWBLINK

Wilson has published and archived eighteen of my poems, all of which you can access with a single click at the right side of the screen. Reading them over, I see how my work has evolved and my voice has become more honed and concentrated.

Needless to say, I am extremely grateful that Bolts of Silk, based in Scotland, is showcasing my poetry to an international audience. Many times, Wilson has provided me with a sturdy steppingstone of confidence. Given the murks of doubt and swamps rejection that plague the poet's journey, I sure am grateful for those steppingstones!

Owl

PS: I'm badly jet-lagged at the moment (east coast to west) and apologize if this seems terse.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Release: Xenith.net showcases "Constrictive"

Read Now!!

This poem is one of the darkest I've written and the Editor at Xenith frames it with apocalyptic photography and ambience. I am very pleased with the presentation, more than I have been with any presentation in a long time.

This is a great site, the editor is brilliant and socially mordant. I felt like I was reading "Constrictive" for the first time.

Here is my previous review of Xenith. Visit this website and you will find yourself sudden frightened of our society. Your heart will feel far more alive.

Review of Xenith

Best to All,

Owl

Friday, January 6, 2012

"The Dark Touch of Genius"

Check out this mini-review of my poetry by Karla Linn Merrifield, a blogger for YB Poetry:

The Dark Touch of Genius

I'm honored by her praise, even more because she is a most talented and prolific poet herself.

I don't think anyone in the poetry world has mentioned me in connection with genius before. Heck, I'll take it. I get so many rejections that any positive feedback is like a ladle of water to a faltering sage whose heartbeat thirsts.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I'm in the Bangor Daily!

Bangor Daily News, one of Maine's best and most-read newspapers, ran a very positive article on my chapbook, Rebellion, which won 1st place in the Medulla Review competition. This following link will take you right to the nitty gritty:

REBELLION Press Release

In case you are shy about clicking on a nocturnal purple font, the entire article is reprinted below.

The following links are related to the article, and give biographical information and details about my artistic-philosophical sense:

Rebellion for sale at Medulla's website

A poem from Rebellion read online by Nic Sebastian of Whale Sound

(If nothing else, I strongly recommend you listen to Nic Sebastian at the above link. It is the best reading of one of my poems. Period)

Here is the Bangor Daily News article, in full.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment under the article on the BDN site. That would be most wonderful and might even make me attempt a backflip.

Owl

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Lubec poet wins national competition
Posted Jan. 03, 2012, at 1:19 p.m.
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Poet Chris Crittenden of Lubec won first place in Medulla Publishing’s national competition for his chapbook “Rebellion.”

The editor writes that Crittenden “is a master of brilliant metaphors, vigorous verbs, and universal socio-spiritual concepts. He creates a unique world … and challenges gods, wars, machines, and the psychology of-being and everything.”

The title is based on a chapter from Dostoevsky’s “The Brother’s Karamazov,” in which the foundations of reality are put to devastating tests. All the poems have been previously published in various journals. To whet your literary appetite, an audio version of the lead-off poem, “The Gods Reflect On Creation,” is available free online, read by the sonorous bard Nic Sebastian of Whale Sound.

The prize includes 30 free copies and a share of royalties from sales on the Medulla website. Crittenden is a seasoned writer with more than 600 poems published, including work in Portland Review, Atlanta Review, Disquieting Muses and Chelsea. His poem “Protest” is anthologized in the upcoming collection “Liberty’s Vigil, the Occupy Anthology: 99 poets in the 99%” from Foothills Publishing. He teaches ethics and philosophy courses for the University of Maine at Machias and lives with his wife, artist Shanna Wheelock, in Lubec.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Release: Blast Furnace, Volume 1, Issue 4: Autumn 2011

Read Blast Furnace Autumn 2011 Now!!

Rebecca Clever, the Editor/Publisher, has just released the latest compilation of poems from Blast Furnace Press. I've written about this venue at length before, and this fresh offering only reinforces my admiration.

Blast Furnace hails from the Pittsburgh area, and Pittsburghers ought to be quite pleased with the siren call of sonorous sounds emanating from this journal. It is nothing like the shriek of an ironmongery whistle, but local culture and local poets get wonderful representation. Editor Clever has expertly blended a wide range of voices. She offers a spider web of fascination to us readers, with literary phrases as hypnotic strands, and in the very center, the brilliance of Pittsburgh writers themselves.

Let the wings of your reverie get caught in this web. You will find yourself uplifted and ultimately left to soar on your own, your day more enlightened, impassioned, and intellectually stimulated.

You'll find my poem "Leaf Struck" within the offerings, and there is a nifty surprise attached, something I've never seen in all my 300-or-so publications.

What is this surprise?

Well, I'll give you a little: It is an EDITOR'S NOTE in a shocking and eye-grabbing blood-crimson font. As far as I know, my poem is the only one in all the issues of Blast Furnace to ever receive a special editor's note. It's an ominous and intimidating one, too, at least prima facie.

What does the note say? Well ... You'll have to visit Blast Furnace's latest issue to find out. And I hope you do! While you're there, why not send Rebecca Clever an email, thanking her for her hard work and also indicating which poems you like best? Editors almost never receive fan mail like this--and this editor certainly deserves kudos.

Owl