Friday, December 31, 2010
Jane Crown has scheduled only eight interviews for her radio show in 2011, and I am beyond thrilled that I am one of the lucky ones. My interview is scheduled for August 7, the last slot in the schedule. You can see the whole calendar here:
Jane Crown's Poetry Radio
In the archives, there are easily over two hundred interviews, an accomplishment worthy of a literary Xena. Such astounding magnitude speaks of formidable dedication to poetry and poets.
Crown also runs Heavy Bear Magazine, another treasury of wordplay. I have spoken at length about this wonderful venue before:
Heavy Bear Magazine Review
Crown has yet another laudable trait: she combines her own moral imperatives with her creative productions. She is not afraid to fustigate the powers that be. Being an ethics professor, I have found that most people shy away from denied pockets of dirt and dysfunction, particularly when criticizing their own country. Courageously, this wonderful editor steps up to podium, one she has created through her own passion and will.
I greatly admire Crown for her ethical verve alone, and when you add an intensive commitment to poets, the result is excellence not just in terms of artistry but also heart.
Interviews don’t come my way often. Each is like a joyous tattoo on my memory. I want to mention one of the most magical adventures in my poetic journey: when I was on Poets’ Café, a radio show of KPFK Los Angeles, interviewed by the insightful and intuitive Lois P. Jones. These two special interviews are available online for instant and free replay:
My Poet's Cafe Interviews
The KPFK appearances revamped my morale and gave me great perseverance. Best of all, I am still in contact with Lois P. Jones, a world-class poet and eloquent sage of the Lorca- and Neruda-esque.
Thanks to Jane Crown's Poetry Radio, I will get to do another high-quality interview. Without doubt,I will strive to do my best, because I know how indelibly meaningful interviews can be.
Happy New Year To All!
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Owl Who Laughs in Scythe
I’m absolutely ecstatic that Editors Joe and Chenelle Milford of Scythe have chosen my poems “Small” and “Commute Home” for the next issue. This is a powerhouse of a lit zine, focusing solely on poetry. Contributors include Bob Hicok and Arlene Ang, two of my very favorite poets of all time. Pablo Neruda is still a little bit above them, but the gap is shrinking.
Through a diligence that surely entails total dedication, the Milfords have produced a relatively young journal that already showcases some the best of writers on a bold scale. Volume III, for example, presents forty poets. What makes this so astounding is the fusion of great quantity with superb quality. This is an almost impossible feat, achieved perhaps by only one other zine I know of, The Drunken Boat.
Why is Scythe attracting so many fine writers so close to its inception? The answer is most certainly The Joe Milford Poetry Show, broadcast at 7:00 p.m. on Saturdays, eastern time. The archives of this online radio show would stagger the minds of greenhorns and veterans alike. Great names--I mean really really great names--have graced this stage with their brilliance. Paragons and geniuses like Robert Pinksy, Amy Gerstler, Tony Hoagland and Didi Menendez.
In addition, plenty of poets I don’t know have been interviewed. This is not an elitist outlet but rather a cartography of every nook and corner of the lands of the bards. My eyes crossed while counting, but I estimate that over 260 writers have been interviewed.
What a thrill for me to be included in Scythe, a journal wisely described as a “natural and logical next step” after the great success of The Joe Milford Poetry Show.
A huge THANK YOU to both Milfords for creating Scythe, a sizeable advance in their already generous gift to all of us.
And a special congratulations to Joe Milford on his first book of poetry, Cracked Altim eter (2010), published by BlazeVox Press. The cover of the book alone will draw you into the deepest conundrums of your Id.
A very grateful OWL, logging out.
PS: To see the cover of Cracked Altim eter, and to read more about Joe Milford, go here:
To read more about the equally energetic Chenelle Milford, use the companion link:
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
That’s right. Not only is Cynthia Brackett-Vincent, the force behind The Aurorean, the only editor to ever send me a Yule card, she did so four years after my last publication with her! This demonstrates what I have long know: Brackett-Vincent is a literary leader with a magnanimous and kind heart, who has been hard at work showcasing good poetry since 1995.
Another project of hers, focused on experimental and dark-edged work, is a sister magazine called The Unrorean. How she finds time to run both these stellar outlets is an absolute mystery, one that attests to her diligence and consummate organization.
Years ago, when I reluctantly switched from postal to email submissions, saving much needed time and money, one of my most painful choices was to stop submitting to The Aurorean. Brackett-Vincent helped me develop courage as a poet, and provided a venue where I could be proud to see my best pieces on display.
About the time I was in contact, she moved from Cape Cod, Massachusetts to Farmington, Maine. I was happy to supply her with nature poems about her new home state.
According to my records, the following were published in The Aurorean:
“Eagle Hand” (2004)
“Field’s First Snow” (2004)
“West Quoddy Cliffs” (2005)
“Moonlight On Lake” (2006)
In future blog posts, I will republish some of these poems as part of a tribute to The Aurorean. It is now one of Maine’s most central journals, and has fostered a great sense of community. All of us Mainers, and poets in general, owe a great debt of thanks to Editor Brackett-Vincent.
She has been tirelessly giving to us, a virtue verified and cemented by over fifteen years of dedication.
Thank you, Cynthia. You’re truly one of the most wonderful people on the literary scene.
A Great New Year To You!
PS: For more on The Aurorean and its sister site The Unrorean:
(Note: The Unrorean, but not The Aurorean, now accepts email submissions!)
Thursday, December 23, 2010
guzzling like a drunk,
vision gets sucked
into your unborn navel,
then whirlpools of torsos
and a nova of dreams.
you ride bright landslides,
snaring creatures of stars:
red mammoths in yoked orbits,
Clydesdales of plasma
tethered to feverish pace.
your sharp cusp
butchers worlds down to gluons.
no blood left,
not even a twinkle.
whatever they saw,
hoboing through the light years,
stretches into a fast-forwarded
movie of everything—
then vanishes like a rubber band
that takes no time at all to snap
and never be.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Cover Art For The Issue
Owl Who Laughs In The Latest Issue
The Toucan has released its Winter 2010 issue and it is a scrumptious extravaganza, including beak-dropping cover art and a fantastic list of authors. Debuting in this show is a handy table of contents that provides one-click access to the poems and stories. The Toucan has become ergonomically blessed! It’s an intoxicating production, even more than a strawberry mai tai, complete with one of those classic monologues by Editor Liz, who plays the harried neurotic well, alternating between vivacious, quirky, scintillating or irascible swoops.
This issue presents the most compelling evidence yet that Editrices Liz and Laura are up-and-coming, perhaps destined to take the literary world by tropical storm. The contributors include some of the best poets on the online circuit, including Hugh Fox, Richard Donnelly, Howie Good and Kristine Ong Muslim. The Toucan has been discovered as a serious force!
Not only that, it has rocketed past Owl Who Laughs in its number of dedicated followers.
*envious green grinch frown*
It seems my nature to be controversial, and so I’ll throw out my latest conjecture: the team of Liz and Laura is actually just Liz going solo. Laura is a prop, a fancy, a will-o’-wisp, a Janus head, or what have you, created by Liz for purposes unknown, perhaps to shoulder any and all blame for potential snafus.
Why do I say this? All my interactions with the editrices have been solely with Liz. All posts on The Toucan seem to originate from Liz. Laura’s facebook entry is short and sounds similar to Liz. Laura doesn't seem to do anything except make Liz work hard.
Suspicious! And good gossip material, for sure!
Maybe it is Laura who is real and Liz who is the chimera, the bogey, the crutch. Who can say, who knows, hi-dee-ho, and maybe it is even possible that I am hooting out my hindfeathers.
In any case it is free and fun publicity for The Toucan, a magazine that deserves to be noticed.
Check out the latest greatest amazing issue today! And ask Liz what mystery lurks behind the editors' doors. You can't ask Laura because, well, she doesn't exist.
In response to my blog post, I have now received an email from Laura which as far as I'm concerned eliminates any doubt that she exists as a unique person in her own body, as separate from Liz in a physical sense as any of us. Not only that she seems as competent and capable as her cohort, though with her own personality of course.
Carry on, intrepid Toucanistas!
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Green Coyote Woman, The Doom War
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
This poem was originally published in Clutching At Straws
Thanks for reading!
Philosophy on LSD
the brain a roller coaster
with trouble for cars.
a thought gets in, and zoom!
defies itself, becomes a rebel, a cad,
steals its own gold and
ends up behind prison bars,
which waffle and eat their own tails.
it’s how everything gets done.
gravity was discovered on LSD.
lizards have sex this way and feel it just so.
when you swat a fly, you birth a nova.
we’re all that big. the universe
bent a lot of time and we don’t understand,
but life happened: little galaxies
in bugs and skulls that act out hidden tantrums.
you’re a mobile center of cosmic roots.
the Big Banyan feeds into you.
you’re the dorsal plectrum of a shark
strumming the ocean of the real,
the jaws of an ant,
the nostrils of an aardvark,
the vertigo of a finch—
we’re all taking each others' trip,
heads full of psychedelics,
born that way, and no one drug tells it all
Monday, December 13, 2010
People living their lives for you on TV
They say they're better than you, and you agree
He says "Hold my calls" from behind those cold brick walls
Says "Come here boy, there ain't nothing for free"
Another doctor's bill, a lawyer's bill, another cute cheap thrill
You know you love him if you put him in your will but
Who will save your souls when it comes to the flowers now
Who will save your souls after all those lies that you told, boy
Who will save your souls if you won't save your own?
We try to hustle them, try to bustle them, try to cuss them
The cops want someone to bust down on Orleans Avenue
Another day, another dollar, another war, another tower
Went up where the homeless had their homes
So we pray to as many different gods as there are flowers
But we call religion our friend
We're so worried about saving our souls
Afraid that God will take His toll
That we forget to begin, but
Who will save your souls when it comes to the babies now
Who will save your souls after all those lies you told, boy
Who will save your souls if you won't save your own?
Some are walking, some are talking, some are stalking their kill
Got social security, but it doesn’t pay your bills
There are addictions to feed and there are mouths to pay
So you bargain with the Devil, say that you're o.k. for today,
Say that you love them, take their money and run
Say it's been swell, sweetheart, but it was just one of those things,
Those flings, those strings, you've got to cut,
So get out on the streets, girls, and bust you butts
Who will save you souls when it comes to the very very young,
Who will save you souls after all the lies that you told, boy
Who will save your souls if you won't save you own?
Saturday, December 11, 2010
And guess what? The Republicans and the rich people they serve absolutely do not want open-minded Americans to see what Sanders had to say. Why? Because he clearly makes the case that the United States is now a banana republic, controlled by a handful of super-rich plutocrats and their lackeys.
Listen to part of what Sanders had to say. It might well change your entire outlook and your life.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Bare Root Review is the literary journal of Southwest Minnesota State University and the cutting edge (“fall twenty-ten issue eleven”) is really well done, including an eye-catching ambience.
For every contributor, you get a visual of the writer; well-chosen background images; an energetic, rugged font; and best of all a sense of theme that blends it all together.
The photographer is Danielle McClain, whose fantastic pictures were incorporated nicely.
I would describe issue eleven's theme as industrial apocalypse returning to nature. A decay of doomsday yielding to a reinvigorated Eden.
All the humans are gone, but hey, we probably deserved it!
You won’t find many journals that succeed so well in making a statement through their decor as well as the quality of their literary offerings.
It must have been a lot of work putting it all together, especially for busy students, and so editors Dannica Dufur and Erin Kyle deserve high praise.
I’m absolutely thrilled that my poem “Confession” is among the offerings. Click on the link above and enjoy!
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
See my review of this wonderful journal and get the link to the other poems here, if you wish:
The Earth Comes First
Thank you for reading.
aorta through acres, hosting
paw prints from lynx to vole,
and gurgling with clues
of spent storms--
soon will slap tar over your face,
demand you sacrifice
your empathy for weather.
people have forgotten
that pebbles have messages
in their many chins,
that serenity is older and more able
they have forgotten
the shy quail, which walk
of dip and rut,
and they have forgotten all the faces
of leaf and thistledown,
too sensitive to be nurtured
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Heavy Bear Magazine 6
Heavy Bear Magazine 7
Owl Who Laughs in Heavy Bear
The long anticipated release of the latest issues of Heavy Bear Magazine has arrived. Many fine poets will now be able to read their contributions with delight and a sense of pride; for Heavy Bear is a very special venue.
Jane Crown, impresario and editor, puts a mountain of work into this zine. When I think of the meaning of “heavy bear,” what comes to my mind is the strength of this assiduous woman, who offers the online community a great volume of well-wrought voices. She carries many poets on her shoulders with durable skill and grace.
Issue 6 presents 29 poets and Issue 7 contains 28. Both are dated December 2010, which means they are twins who together compose a formidable opus.
I like how Crown has chosen the format, presenting almost 60 writers in two books instead of just one. Each has a fantastic work of art up front, and each in itself is a masterful mélange. It was noble of Crown, and no doubt onerous, to avoid the throng that results from squeezing dozens of poets into a single presentation.
A little more on the artwork that embellishes the covers: it reverberates with a beautiful psychic depth. This affinity applies to all the covers of HB going back to the beginning. You can view them all here:
Heavy Bear Cover Art
As you can see, the paintings diverge yet also collect around a bright gestalt of spirit, which is vigorous, primordial and shaman-touched. Crown has gone into the Id of a wild pristine Gaea and snatched out bits of lucent phantasmagoria.
HB honestly has some of my favorite cover art, and I have read hundreds, if not thousands, of poetry magazines.
Keep in mind that, on average, each poet has three poems included. This means that Crown has given us approximately 180 works, a mighty act of editorship indeed!
Both well-known and fresh voices are included, and so HB provides a magnificent compendium, one that lavishly samples from the range of creatures that wander the forests of etherspace.
Although Crown has a prodigious will, not to mention vast virtue for carrying so many bards along, she is not immune to exhaustion. Surely there are many hurdles and moments of frustration in dealing with snafus of writers, who can be a whiny and demanding lot.
I bring this up because her last email to all contributors ended with the insinuation that she might be understandably tired and rethinking her role. I am going to quote from that email, so you can draw your own conclusions:
These are the corrected versions of both issues 6 and 7 of Heavy Bear online magazine. Do not hesitate to send Jane Crown any further needed corrections; otherwise, enjoy.
Both issues represent a prolonged halt in publication of Heavy Bear online magazine. Much soul-searching and revamping is required before any further publication.
Being an editor is tremendously hard, and we who are not editors tend to overlook and even minimize the importance of the job. The truth is, editors are the lifeblood of the poetry world. They are more important than almost any single poet, collecting the best and magnifying it.
Jane Crown, on top of being an editor, is good at it. I hope anyone who finds this blog entry will take the time to read HB and send a comment. Moreover, if you are a contributor, please thank Jane Crown for all the effort and time she has put in:
Let us not live up to the prickly stereotype: that artists are so self-absorbed they neglect those who passionately support them.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
The poems in this chapbook and where they have been (or will be) published are as follows:
“A Fall Moment” in Wild Violet
“Old Woman Explains” in Vox Humana
“Philosophy On LSD” in Clutching At Straws
“November Leaves” in Brink Magazine
“Taken” in Bolts of Silk
“Writer’s Block” in Brink Magazine
“The Goodness Thereof” in Vox Humana
“Killing Guilt” in CounterPunch
“Number Cruncher” in Hell Gate Review
“Out of Place”
“Reagan’s Ghost” in Phati'tude
“Nuclear Monster” in Hell Gate Review
“Denied” in Vox Humana
“Garapito Loop” in Wilderness House Lit Review
“Writing” in The Toucan
“Street Addict” in Hell Gate Review
“More Stars” in Carcinogenic Poetry
“Durance” in Carcinogenic Poetry
“Confession” in Bare Root Review
“Linguist” in Wilderness House Lit Review
“Man Watches January”
These poems have been edited to hell and back to heaven. They have made me cry and wail and sometimes ululate with joy. If you want to support me as a poet, I would be very pleased to send you a copy.
If you want to sample my work more fully first, here is a chapbook I have posted online, plus a very positive review of that chapbook by Lissa Kiernan, the Poetry Editor at Arsenic Lobster:
Review of Gordian Butterflies
Thanks for considering this. If you wish to purchase a hard copy for just $2 plus postage, email me here:
If you would like me to handwrite one of my poems in the chapbook, I will do that for an extra $20. The money would be very useful to me and you would get a very original and personalized chapbook.
Thanks for reading!
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
O Proud Death, what feast is toward in thine external cell.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
On November 24, the New York Times Magazine featured a massive 14-page article by David Leonhardt titled, “In China, Cultivating The Urge To Splurge.” The basic idea is to transform the Chinese citizens into the “next great consumer society,” following in the footsteps of the United States. In other words, turn their citizens into materialistic creatures who love to buy, buy, and buy some more.
Leonhardt alternates between fretting about how hard this will be, given that the people aren’t inclined to be rabid fans of extraneous stuff, and arguing that it absolutely should happen, because it will create jobs across the world, particularly in the US. We should now turn the tables and become manufacturers for China. Presumably, a large number of products in their country will say “Made in the United States,” instead of the other way around:
The Chinese consumer is one of the best hopes for future economic growth. In the years ahead, when the United States, Europe and Japan will have no choice but to slow their spending and pay off their debts, China could pick up the slack. Millions of Americans — yes, millions — could end up with jobs that exist, at least in part, to design, make or sell goods and services to China. This possibility helps explain why Democrats, Republicans, economists, business consultants, corporate executives and labor leaders all devote so much time to urging China to consume more. One subtext of the recent G-20 meeting in Seoul was the encouragement of Chinese consumption.
This strategy is absolutely wrong and horrible for many reasons. If it succeeds it will turn the Chinese people into shallow petty purchasers, who are constantly bombarded by advertisements that subliminally work to make them insecure and especially needy for the latest fix, whether it be cosmetics, beer, a new sweater, or a pet rock. From a spiritual perspective (take your pick of any great religion) this envy-inducing form of economics is degrading to the soul.
Not only that, it engenders a callous mindset that cares less about preserving our fragile Earth’s ecosystems than owning the next piece of froufrou. The environment and the animals be damned.
In philosophical terms, this paradigm is narcissistic and anthropocentric instead of compassionate and ecocentric.
Consumer materialism pits neighbor against neighbor and ultimately leads to the kind of me-me-me you see in the United States, where people would rather let their fellow Americans suffer without affordable healthcare than endure a tiny tax on consumables like sugary soda, cigarettes and beer.
Already in China there is a divide between the haves and the have-nots. Leonhardt's plan simply ignores this disgusting injustice, and the gross extremes of wealth and poverty an infection of consumer madness will foment.
If we become manufacturers for China, the nasty little secret is that many of us will become sweatshop workers. Suffering bad work conditions will keep the price as low as possible at the Chinese version of Wal-Mart. Perhaps this is the karma we have earned by our own tacit acceptance of forced labor; but how sad to see our own ignorance and dismissal of our fellow human beings spread across the globe.
Consumerism curses whatever community it can, from the town to the nation, with a sick sense of self that renders existence devoid of sacred purpose. It will be a sorry day when the Chinese have gas-guzzling cars with bumper stickers that proclaim, “Whoever dies with the most toys wins.”
If there is a Goddess to judge us after we die, anyone who succumbs to the obsession with accumulation, leaping through endless hoops of vogue, will be sent to bake in hell. Of course, capitalists don’t believe there is any kind of judgement after death, whether it is Christian, Buddhism, Hindu, Wiccan or whatever.
What if the capitalists are wrong? What do you believe? Are your actions in line with your spiritual beliefs? Or do you trundle off to Wal-mart or Target or any other humungous corporate store, without a thought?
What is life about? I will bet my soul that it is not about acquiring fancily packaged products whose manufacture involves raping the Earth and putting millions of people in subservient roles as sweatshop workers. It is not about becoming as selfish as you can be. It is not about being handed your sense of esteem by advertisers, who lead you along by the psychological nose, as far away from empathy as they can.
Look what capitalism did for the United States. It wrecked the moral fiber of the people. We care more about status symbols than Goddess, or Planet, or the workers who make our stuff. We fixate on an extra dollar at Wal-Mart while our purchases push China, a police state, toward the world’s pinnacle of power.
As China ascends, concern for human rights descends. China’s priority is not free speech, free religion, or any of the other dignities that our Founding Elders believed in so strongly that they emblazoned them in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.
Did the citizens of America think about the consequences of buying wave upon wave of goods that were made in China? No. We mindlessly drove our own country into massive debt. Why? Because we are addicted to stuff, and we mortgaged our homes and maxed our credit cards--
And how stupid and morally corrupt do we look to the world now?
If China follows in our footsteps, the result will be the spread of greed to a billion people. It will be Mammon’s greatest victory. The Earth will totter from the strain, Goodness will take a major blow, and we will fall even farther away from an emphasis on human rights. We will heighten the pyramid of inequality that blights the world now. And we will have lost a great opportunity to move into a Cyber future with noble minds and ethical hearts, instead of a fascination with titillation.
How sad to see the human soul, with such potential to flourish, instead languish, yoked in a muck of base needs.
Shame on us all. I guess we are going to destroy ourselves, for that’s what greed does.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
THANK YOU, SHANNA! I am VERY VERY grateful that you are in my life.
All My Love,
Sunday, November 21, 2010
The Ivory Tower
If you want an alternative to Duotrope's overwhelming lists of places to submit your writing, why not try The Ivory Tower? This free site is managed by John Darling, who also happens to be the editor of TECF.
The Tower has over a thousand entries, and the links take you right to the submission guidelines. I found the poetry section to be superb, with no dead ends, and quality zines. New additions are indicated by a star.
This portal outperformed Duotrope in the sense of providing quick access to approachable editors. In other words, less clicking and hunting was required to get me what I wanted. If you are squeezing submissions into a busy schedule, The Tower may be your best bet. Heck, it’s a fine choice anyway!
Although Darling doesn’t tell us how long he has been building this withering protrusion, I suspect it is quite a while, given its height. This vast construction seems a selfless and generous act, which must require a great deal of time to maintain.
Darling describes himself as a nice guy, and even humbly suggests that his own poetry might not be as good as the reader’s. However, I found one of his poems, “Greenie,” at his new journal, The Earth Comes First, and I thought it was very very fine:
The poem originally appeared in 1989, in the Fine Arts section of a magazine called The Reporter, run out of Ventura, California. Adding a bit of historical flair, Darling pasted the page of the magazine directly into TECF. Very cool!
As mentioned, The Earth Comes First is a recent project from this talented and long-standing poet. There’s only one thing I love more than a good journal, and that’s a good journal suffused with an undertone of virtue, which in this case concerns the beauty and health of the planet Earth.
I’m extremely honored that four of my poems are scheduled to appear in TECF. More and more, I am trying to include themes of goodness in my work. Why? Because humanity is currently pushing its global habitat to the point of no return.
On one side is corporate greed, and on the other are people like me who envision a future of moral maturity, where war, consumption, and technology no longer threaten to overwhelm us.
I hate to say it, but sometimes it does seem that black-and-white. If humanity manages to survive for another ten thousand years, not a long time on the scale of things, do you think the game of Monopoly will still provide a good description of the state of economics?
By then, society will have evolved to a higher level or self-destructed. The United States Empire is going to look mighty primitive and stupid to the citizens of the future, if there are any.
Darling is not only one of the good guys, he’s also a very special leader.
May TECF flourish and sow salubrious seeds!
Friday, November 19, 2010
The accidental euthanization in the United States of the hero dog Target is a symbol of how stupid and twisted the entire war effort has become. Target was a hero in Afghanistan, saving the lives of soldiers by snarling and confronting a suicide bomber. She has been on many TV talk shows and had her own celebrity Facebook page. Now she’s dead, because the owner didn’t have tags on her and he irresponsibly let her run wild, and an animal shelter employee mistook her for another dog and, using their euphemism, the employee PTS’ed her.
In plain language, the employee Put her To Sleep or, quite bluntly, killed the famous dog that had won the hearts of probably millions of Americans.
This would be a comedy of errors if it wasn’t so sad. Just like the wars we are fighting would be a comedy of errors if they weren’t so unethical. If there is a God, we are going to be judged very poorly for what our country has done.
As Thomas Jefferson said, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.”
Target’s death suggests a callous bureaucracy that is strangling the good out of the United States. Her sorry end is also an ironic chance for us to wake up. Even when we try to be good as a nation, we are getting bogged down in ugly sinful behavior.
Why have we been in Afghanistan for ten years, the longest war in America’s history? What are we accomplishing again?
Hasn’t it been shown that Karzai is incredibly corrupt? Aren’t we working with thugs and heroin dealers who are using us to satisfy their own despicable power-lust?
Did you know that Afghanistan has been identified as a country that is incredibly rich with mineral wealth? Isn’t it strange that we are at war in two countries whose natural resources are incredibly valuable to us, if we can control them? In Iraq, it is the largest untapped fields of oil in the world. In Afghanistan, it is:
huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — [that] are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.
Look at that. We’re not fighting for justice, people. Our two corrupt inept wars are about minerals in one case and oil in the other.
Shouldn’t that be obvious to you by now?
Target is indeed the most innocent of all of us, apparently even more than our young soldiers, because we grieve more for a dog than we do for our dead young people on the frontlines of a senseless conflict.
Ask yourself: why?
The strange thing is this: Target could become an even greater hero in her death, because maybe in death this brave animal, one we instantly love, will force us to (a) wonder why we are grieving more for a dog than our soldiers, and then lead us to care more about our soldiers, (b) realize that Target’s death is symbol of an overall wrongness, one that has infected our bureaucracy, which seems more about pettiness now than what it used to be: caring for each other.
If it takes a dead dog to wake up the citizenry of America to the horrors of war, so be it.
So, wake the F*#@% up, people! Fate is speaking to you through a beloved animal hero, because you are apparently blind to the deaths of your fellow human beings. They can’t move you. They can’t reach into your ears. But Target can. And her tragic senseless death is barking out:
End The Evil Wars!
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Boulders at Beach
shattered crab bones
litter scoured slabs,
smashed by seagulls
that slurped their piths;
but life thrives
in slimy gouges
where larvae jerk,
near flies that walk water,
dogfighting in blinks--
then once again
strutting the miracle.
down where drunk ocean
hammers the cliffs,
you have to marvel
at bruised seaweed
parrying like tridents.
the plateau here,
glommed into scabrous mats.
their sharp hatches tear denim,
defend a glut
of small-minded doors--
hungers that sit on each other,
lean against fences of mussels,
knotted into clumps
you have to marvel
at the strength
of the rock-life’s mediocrity--
its all-powerful urges,
its stoic cramming,
the hardbitten, paralyzed
Monday, November 15, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Kill Poet 9, Drawn & Quartered, is ready to leave its harsh mark on your psyche. It is a jagged, gruesome and yet somehow metaphysically incisive look at the dark side of the world, which is pretty much everywhere.
I’m honored that my poem “Anxiety Disorder” is among the offerings.
It is not hard to be impressed with the ambience and asperity of this mean zine. It will make you uncomfortable, maybe even angry, but the writing is good and the wounds are palpable.
Step out of your safety zone and into the littered streets of Kill Poet. You'll become super brave or a tremendous coward. It depends on whether you take the red pill or the blue pill.
PS: See my rather lengthy rave about Kill Poet here:
Thursday, November 11, 2010
This was recently published in CounterPunch.
the blood on his hand was smiling,
but it wasn’t there,
or below his eyes like war paint.
there was a war but now
he works in a grocery,
avoids the meat department,
showers every morning
with lots of soap, leaves no zone
sometimes the suds
whisper or twist,
not quite human but familiar,
a hint of grimace,
the sort that stretches sinews
in the mind.
he hears them snap,
recognizes the muzzle laugh,
but it washes away
in the shower—
and he goes to work
in a yellow vest,
never looks at the steaks,
the truth leering
from the fat strips
and the red.
Monday, November 8, 2010
With this rule, we see an end to avarice, skullduggery and war.
(Attributed to Aristine Eaglewoman of the Eleventh Light)
Friday, November 5, 2010
These are grim times. The United States, on a material binge for fifty years, has finally crashed. In the aftermath, neurotic citizens blame everyone but themselves, and gravitate to charismatic demagogues who provide convenient scapegoats. Meanwhile, wealth continues to concentrate in the hands of an ultra-rich "1% within the 1%."
Universities are labeled “liberal indoctrination centers.” Challenge the angry uneducated horde and you are "elitist."
But I have come to a revelation. There is a higher Good. This Good is beyond than any particular religion. It inspires us all, disdaining any fanatic who claims that their own one god is the best.
The Good transcends attempts of supremacists to pin it to their faith. The Divine Good is a wellspring of ambrosia from which all religions draw, before they veer in the wrong direction and become selfish. Exclusionary.
I worship the "Forces of Goodness." I have not found my names for them yet. For some, it would be Jesus. For others Grandmother Spider. Whatever one's situational specifics and culture, what is essential is the manifestation of the Good, regardless of name.
While greed, through increasing technology, grasps and corrupts the planet, we individuals can still steer an ethical course. In times of bigotry and effigy, the Good is still there, a universal in the way of things. The nature of this universe, of natural law, makes the concept of the Good an inevitable presence.
I pray to the Forces of Goodness. And I hope-hopehopehope--they guide my actions.
We live in a Purgatory. This planet is a place where the ethical quality of our actions strongly affect our ultimate destination--which is greater than any of us knows.
In this way, even in the darkest night, the Good watches over us. Offering direction in this Purgatory.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Folks, we can't eliminate our horrible karma by denying it.
Stop grubbing for money and get ethical.
This poem was originally published in HazMat.
don’t bark at me with your
black tongues or spit your red.
don’t carve my name
with bullets into marble.
i was only walking by,
a little angry to find your tank
in my garden,
a bit distressed at becoming a flea
under the fury of your gaze.
let me hop away. i’ll eat
sand and drink stones.
i’ll pretend my grandfather
didn’t plant fruit trees
near your craters.
i’ll set up shop
in the smallest grave
of shadow, whittle
spoons with parched
old hands, and pray
in ways you’ll never notice
that the hearts of my children
remain sweet as pomegranates.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Vox Humana Literary Journal and Vox Humana Books are relatively new and yet clearly professional. The website is aesthetic in detail and impressively unique.
Authors represented by VH display the highest caliber of writing. There is no doubt that this is a serious enterprise aiming to enrich culture and foster dialogue on a world scale. Editor Philip Hyams is a Canadian/Israeli novelist, poet, artist, journalist and film producer; and he must surely work diligently and painstakingly on this generous venture, which includes novels, books of poetry, a literary journal and writer representation through Impressum Books, a daughter company of Vox Humana.
Although open to submissions on a wide variety of topics, VH has positioned itself to specialize in a critical niche market: work that concerns Israel, Palestine and the Middle East. There are already excellent novels on these themes available through VH Press. You will also find poetry by extremely accomplished writers like Ruth Fogelman. Elisha Porat and several others.
This is a young journal, but it is very likely to gain a holdfast in the best echelons of the literary world. The focus on Israeli-Palestinian issues, combined with a broader call for global insight, is compelling. Editor Hyams has obviously put his heart into finding those rare writers who are capable of fomenting widely relevant discussion.
I’m very thrilled that three of my best poems appear in this Third Issue of Vox Humana. You can access them via the following link, but I’d recommend spending some time on the site, reading the works of other poets. It will gratify your mind.
One last thing. As a triad, my three poems at VH sum up the meager amount of wisdom and philosophy I have managed to gather in almost five decades. I’m pleased and honored they have found such a special home.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Here is my Samhain Prayer from last year, edited a bit.
Have a magical meaningful night.
Let us hope the humanosphere moves swiftly to break from its vector of nuclear doom.
Let us hope war is recognized for what it is: a black hole sucking us all down.
Let us hope mutual care trumps greed, and soon nary a person shall hoard money and ignore a starving child’s ribs.
Let us hope that wagging tongues yield to wide ears, and that the soft-spoken are honored rather than circumvented.
Let us hope fanatics lose their grip, and that all gods are validated except those that seek to be the only one.
Let us hope our leaders stop spitting terror out of angry mouths; and that misled flocks stop kneeling before them in collars of fear.
Let us hope all cultures mingle and mate in spiritual companionship. Should not we all be lovers in this sense?
Let us hope the light of education burns through webs of ignorance, freeing untold numbers of wings.
Let us hope denial and discord melt into delight, and that we see as children, with tears in our eyes because each color or scent or taste or touch or song is rare.
Let us fall down and beg the Fates to guide us away from our planet-killing path, the one we take when we buy poisons in the name of a shallow shine.
Let us pray we can be more than fussy ants, led by the pheromone of purse strings, rushing into Discount Hives where nothing was manufactured with love.
Let us take a deep breath, and realize what a treasure that one breath is, more so than any ingot or jewel.
Are we not all winners in the most important lottery of all: the journey of Life.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Some of the rejections are actually kind and even good for my morale. Yes, it’s true. If I struggle hard, do my research, and treat the editors with the respect they deserve, sometimes they take the extra time to send a personal word or two my way.
I like a lot of these rejections!
So, without further delay, here are my Thirteen Rejections of Halloween. I actually feel a little giddy reading over them.
PS: These are all wonderful journals. Submit!
First rejection, Poemeleon
Thank for you allowing us to read your poems. Unfortunately they were not selected for inclusion in this issue, but we wish you the best in placing the work elsewhere.
Cati Porter, editor
Second rejection, Hobo Camp Review
Thank you very much for allowing me to read your work. While I am going to pass on this bindle this go 'round, please know that this is no reflection on your talent, and I hope it does not discourage you from submitting again for future issues.
Take care, and thanks again!
James H Duncan
Third rejection, Emprise Review
Thank you for sending us "Five Poem Submission." We appreciate the opportunity to read your work, but unfortunately the piece is not what we are looking for at this time. I did, however, like "Truman."
Fourth rejection, Eclectica
Thank you so much for your continued support of Eclectica. I am always happy to read your work. I enjoyed all of the poems that you sent, "On the Couch," in particular. Thank you so much for your kind words about the summer issue.
All best wishes,
Poetry Editor, Eclectica Magazine
Fifth rejection, Sixers Review
We appreciate your submission and want you to know it made it to the final rounds but unfortunately we will not be including your submission in the next issue.
We would like you to resubmit in the near future and wish you the best in finding a home for these particular poems elsewhere.
Sixth Rejection, Pedestal Magazine
Thanks for your fine submission to Pedestal Magazine. While the editors enjoyed reading your work, it was not ultimately selected for inclusion in the upcoming October issue. Of course, please do submit again. We're always open to receiving work from you.
Seventh Rejection, Kenyon Review
Thank you for submitting your poetry. We regret that we are unable to use "Five Poems."
Your work has received careful consideration, which sometimes means a response less prompt than we would wish. Unfortunately, the large number of submissions prevents us from commenting on many worthy manuscripts.
[Personal note: We enjoyed the rich palette, esp. in "Crow in a Gale." But there were too many abstract/vague turns that detracted from the overall gesture, poem by poem. Good luck, and keep writing, KT]
We do appreciate your interest in The Kenyon Review.
Eighth Rejection, The Minnesota Review
Dear [Owl Who Laughs]:
Thank you for sending "five poem submission" to the minnesota review.
Unfortunately, we are not able to accept your submission for the upcoming
Ninth Rejection, Cider Press Review
"Ominous" came close; may we suggest you consider giving it a more specific title?
Tenth Rejection, LA Review
Thank you for submitting to The Los Angeles Review. While we have read your work with interest, it does not meet our editorial needs at this time. We appreciate your efforts, and wish you all the best in placing this work elsewhere.
Eleventh Rejection, No Tell Motel
Thank you for submitting your poems to No Tell Motel. We're honored
you considered us as an outlet for your work. However, we are unable
to use them.
Reb Livingston & Molly Arden
Twelfth Rejection, Off the Coast
We regret to inform you that your poems have not been selected for inclusion in the fall issue of Off the Coast. Be assured that although over 500 poems were submitted, your poems have been read by at least three members of our editorial board.
Valerie Lawson and Michael Brown,
Editors and Publishers
Thirteenth Rejection, Iron Horse Lit Review
Dear [Owl Who Laughs]:
Thank you for submitting your work entitled Five Poem Submission to Iron Horse Literary Review. We appreciate the time and talent that goes into every submission we receive.
Unfortunately, we can only accept a small percentage, and this particular submission does not meet our current needs. The lack of capitalization is distracting, especially since the poems have mostly standard punctuation.
Thank you again for considering our journal, and we wish you success placing this submission elsewhere.
Iron Horse Literary Review
Happy Halloween Everybody!!!
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
The Lake Tahoe region is known for its majestic natural wonders, and once you look over this literary collection, you’ll be tempted to conclude that the artists and writers have been magically infused by the area’s beauty. EDGE 2010 contains a marvelous and stunning array of writing, photography and art. Even the texture of the paper and the smooth glossy cover are aesthetic, making this journal highly professional not only in content but also in the medium through which it is delivered.
Photographs and artworks are presented in full color. The definition is so smooth it seems you engage the originals themselves. Sprinkled among the visual treasures are superbly taut poems and devastatingly good short stories. The cumulative effect is empyreal in pleasure.
A few examples:
Navigations, an oil on panel by Shelly Hocknell Zentner, a luscious depiction of fruit slices, somewhat reminiscent of Van Gogh, appears next to “I was destroyed by God,” an existential examination by Dave Murcar.
Rain Dance, an acrylic on canvas by Reds Regan, which combines a delightful mosaic of multihued cubes and the curvy lines of an alluring diva, rests between two great poems. One is “The Fern Seed Addict” by DeAnna Stephens Vaugh, winner of the 1st Annual EDGE Poetry Award.
The second is “God’s Bicycle” by Joel Peckham, which entices the reader with a manic theological cadence, ending with “I love you all I love / you I love you I love you all I / love you.”
Right after that is Fairy Peaking, a colored pencil of a cute sprite with purple eyes by Kristen Schwartz. This is paired with “The Sunflower At Dusk” by Naoko Awa (translated by Toshiya Kamei).
Finally, I just have to mention that my poem “Bug Meets Juice,” a comical excursion into the hazards of being a fly, gets the honor of settling in next to a delicious-looking hot fudge sundae. (Harlequin Romance, oil on wood by Kit Night). Yay, Kit!
The whole issue reads this way: packed with juxtapositions between disparate forms to encourage dialectic. There are twenty eight gems of visual art, sixteen poems and nine works of fiction, not to mention an interview with translator Toshiya Kamei. A true tour de force.
A meteor shower of kudos goes out to the team behind the scenes, a group that calls themselves Tahoe Writers Works. They are correct to say in their preface, “We don’t take the easy route with EDGE.” I concur with Bruce Rettig, Publisher and Editor when he says in his letter to contributors, “This is EDGE’s strongest issue.”
One final and unique aspect of this multi-part masterpiece: The business owners of Lake Tahoe have stepped up with fantastic sponsorship. I’ve never seen so many local ads in a lit journal. It demonstrates a special esprit. The Lake Tahoe region proudly stands behind the creative nucleus of their community.
Something healthy and cooperative is going on around Lake Tahoe. It makes me want to visit!
Here are some of the local businesses that love art. Their names make me want to visit, too:
Valhalla Arts, Music & Theatre Festival 2010
Blue Water Bistro
Red Rooster Retreat
Tahoe Arts And Mountain Culture
Charter Advertising/Design Inc.
Aprés Wine Company
Sundance Bookstore & Music
Tahoe Mountain News
Keynote Used Records and Books
Eddy Street Book Exchange
Iron Horse Cantina
Bona Fide Books
(Bona Fide Books is run by Kim Wyatt, Managing Editor of EDGE. I’ve had some dealings with her before, and she’s very kind, smart and supportive. She has even posted one of my poems at her site, complete with audio!: http://bonafidebooks.squarespace.com/ranch-trees/ )
If you want a rich journal of multiple media in a beautifully perfect bound edition, look no further. EDGE will transport you to realms both cerebral and emotional. Not only that, you will feel like you’ve taken a trip to Lake Tahoe and met some most stimulating folks.
PS: Staff at EDGE
Editor and Publisher: Bruce Rettig
Managing Editor: Kim Wyatt
Fiction Editor: David Anderson
Poetry Editor: Andrea Wexelblatt
Editorial Intern: Hannah Elder
Sunday, October 24, 2010
The wiki-leaks papers show that the Iraq Army tortured prisoners on a wide scale with the knowledge of the US military. This torture was just as bad as that inflicted under the previous regime of Saddam Hussein.
In other words, the claim that we are fighting for human rights has gone down the toilet along with the rest of our leaders’ excuses and deceptions. Iraq is currently a vicious place to live, where the people still have no reliable electricity after seven years, despite the disappearance of billions of dollars into Dick Cheney’s corporate buddy Halliburton, which was given no-bid contracts.
I still remember how George W. Bush and his lackeys told us that the war in Iraq would be over in a matter of months. HAH!
The sleaze and torture and sick twisted violence are utterly disgusting. It is amazing and sad that the population of the US is so brainwashed and shallow that they cannot own up to the evil that their Empire is inflicting.
This brings me to the second important moral message: Bob Herbert’s excellent and incisive piece in the New York Times titled “The Way We Treat Our Troops”:
It is easy to sum up this brilliant article: we treat our youths in uniform like shit and we don’t even seem to care. The vast bulk of the US population plods through its day without even a second of wonder about how much pain and fear these young men and women are immersed in.
Our collective karma as a nation is going straight into darkness. Herbert damns us with stinging insights about our denial and immaturity:
We can get fired up about Lady Gaga and the Tea Party crackpots. We’re into fantasy football, the baseball playoffs and our obsessively narcissistic tweets. But American soldiers fighting and dying in a foreign land? That is such a yawn.
Herbert also makes it clear that the two wars we are now fighting are ridiculous and abominable. They have no definite goal, they have been horribly bungled, and they are utterly compromised by sin. He calls both the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts “world-class fiascos.”
Regarding the Afghan nightmare, he is particularly hard-hitting:
The war in Afghanistan, the longest in our history, began on Oct. 7, 2001. It’s now in its 10th year. After all this time and all the blood shed and lives lost, it’s still not clear what we’re doing. Osama bin Laden hasn’t been found. The Afghan Army can’t stand on its own. Our ally in Pakistan can’t be trusted, and our man in Kabul is, at best, flaky. A good and humane society would not keep sending its young people into that caldron.
Herbert is right. We are no longer a “good and humane society.” We need to WAKE UP now. Otherwise, if there is a God in heaven we are all going to the fiery pits. Branded across our naked chests, in small yet agonizing font, will be the same statement of divine judgement:
COMPLACENT HEDONISTIC CONSUMER WHO IGNORED THE PLIGHT OF MISTREATED TROOPS.
What is wrong with us?
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
This might be the best representation of my crazed tempestuous side.
Thank you for reading!
each pump breaks a shell,
my body raucous
with the vim of fledglings--
i can’t fathom or organize
their bleats; they puke out phrases
crude and scattershot;
they frenchkiss like amoebas,
copulating, birthing a slurry
of prattle, churning
in gabby veins.
nothing can slake
the fluid jabberwocky;
my brain twitches
like a crushed sitar’s strings--
the allegro headlong, tinnier,
rising to aggravate;
does anyone see the bedlam
in my jugular?
are my pupils spasming
my headache can’t fatten
quick enough, like a petri dish
hellbent to balloon--
zillions of tadpoles, chicks and midges
paint an image of god
i don’t want to see--
someone rip it out,
this frantic canvas of dots
before it uncouples my mind.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
In Lubec, my tiny coastal hometown, we have a wonderful art gallery called Northern Tides, run by Deb and Jerry Kasunic. I was very pleased that they recently asked me if they could distribute my books through their website:
To go directly to my bio, photo and poetry, you can go to the link at the very top of this post; but I recommend spending some time on the website, taking in the pictures of our town, and learning a bit about its history. You’ll find that Northern Tides is a critical nexus in Lubec’s burgeoning arts community.
Deb and Jerry deserve a big cheer for taking leadership roles in promoting the arts. They’ve been in business since 2007 and in that time, I’ve seen the local esprit grow tremendously.
Keep in mind, Lubec is not an enclave of wealth. We are situated in one of the poorest counties in the entire United States. Last year, our high school was shut down, one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen around here.
If you buy one of my chapbooks through the website, it will do a great deal to advance my poetry. Why? Because only three of my chapbooks are currently for sale at Northern Tides, but any purchase will result in all six of my current chapbooks being put on web display. You can make this Owl do a back flip of delight!
So please consider supporting me and also Lubec’s cadre of creative thinkers. I work many hours each day to perfect my word spells. Behind my toil is an obsessive quest to heal the Earth by stimulating an enduring and salubrious empathy.
Thank again to Deb and Jerry.
And a big thank you to anyone who reads this.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Sadly, the accusation of panem et circenses applies with little qualification to the populace of the United States today. The multitudes feast on lowbrow theater, including crime drama of the most horrific sort. Stories about serial killers, complete with very graphic scenes, are constant. You can find at least a few on television every night.
Last night, for instance, on a show called NCIS Los Angeles, the mission of the federal agents was to stop someone who was burying 14-year-old girls alive. The episode included mock video clips of these girls bound and gagged in their makeshift caskets. It looked very real.
Alfred Hitchcock’s’ 1960’s classic Psycho is incredibly scary, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the sadistic and demonic gore of the typical serial killer seen every night on the airwaves. These monsters routinely bondage and butcher sexy women, many of them underage teens. The viewer gets a lewd prolonged view, not just a hint.
Hitchcock’s genius was to use suspense to maximize impact. Today, there is no genius in the dark tale, only an attempt to shock and arouse through disturbing leaps in sexual perversion.
Even worse are the blood flicks, such as the Saw movies, which basically present a couple hours of eroticized torture, crafted to be as absorbing and “spine-tingling” as possible. In one Saw sequel, a young woman is chained naked with her hands above her head as she slowly freezes to death.
This is presented for minutes. We don’t get merely a hint of her fate, or watch a few seconds of the aftermath. Her whole body is shown freezing up close. The camera lingers a long while so the audience can ‘enjoy’.
Teenagers and children, once taboo in the entertainment industry as the focus of rape and sadomasochism, are now constantly defiled. Shows like Law and Order: Special Victims Unit specialize in kiddie atrocity. Graphic shots of the infernal despoilment of children are common.
Another show that specializes in serial killers, including close-ups and raw sadism is Criminal Minds. Every episode has another Satan-worthy fiend.
To deviate for a moment from this parade of evil, there is another genre that is utterly inane: the reality TV romance. In this puerile kind of drama, horny youths are exposed in ‘real life’ acting in psychologically pathetic ways. The point is to titillate the viewer with the obsessions of immature and selfish people, whose main goal, it seems, is to jump someone's pants by whatever vulgar means possible. The result is a spectacle of buffoonish behavior worthy of drunken dogs.
Even musical shows with positive elements, like Glee, contain a vast dose of escapism. Take the sexiest teenagers, combine them with the most perfect voices, the best possible choreography, and put them in a lip-sync world which is more like Broadway stage than the complexity of life, and you get Glee.
Watching Glee, or serial killers, or reality romance will get you a good dose of libidinous rush, pandering mostly to the dark side (though in the case of Glee you get some great art and positive messages about equality, merged in with the underage rut).
There's emphasis on how selfish and competitive people are; how much evil is ‘out there’ to harm you; and how you are secondary, because beautiful young people are the most desirable and important of us all, not for their intelligence but rather because the have youthful appeal and physical flexibility, which apparently are prerequisites for the ability to stimulate.
What you won’t get is any way out of this Matrix. The shallow mentality of the US citizen is sick with mirrors and locked doors. Until the people wake up--realize that their Empire has done horrible things, and that their myopic greed is the fuel of their downfall and degeneration--they will cling to their escapist dramas, which prophetically are full of sights worthy of the pits of hell.
Their politicians will continue to pander to the lowest elements in the human spirit, stoking racism and the specter of evil; denigrating the importance of books and education in favor of the fear-inducing violence of war.
Indeed, our politicians, the Republicans mostly, don’t really want people to become educated. Education is the enemy of their idiotic appeals, their attempts to leash their followers to terror and insecurity. The more intelligent you sound, the more Un-American you are.
Like Juvenal, I am forced to cry out:
BREAD AND CIRCUSES!
Monday, October 11, 2010
Readers have been anticipating the latest release of The Toucan and Issue 8 is finally squawking the squawk. Editrices Liz and Laura apologize quite generously for the delay, in two posts no less. One is titled “We’re Falling Asleep, But It’s Up!” and the other is that venerable refrain: “Stress and Coffee.”
If you were curious what these highly intelligent editors (oops, they prefer “editrices”) are like when REM deprived, strung out on caffeine, and wallowing in nerves, ponder no more. The result is a verbal mania that nevertheless retains the wit and banter these brave writers have become known for.
Have no fears, the quality of The Toucan is unfazed by their exhausted delirium. In fact, Issue 8 might be the best ever.
Here is part of the delightfully manic intro:
This issue is a bit shorter than the two previous, but it sure hits the mark for quality. The scales are tipped for fiction, we admit. Maybe it’s the alliteration, fall, fiction, “Flower Power”…and by the time you finish that one you’ll have even more questions about what’s in the mascot’s cigar. But there’s a sobering, bracing quality to the work. Suicide is contemplated, death is pondered, realizations laid bare, voyages meet with “Various Crash Landings” and THE HIPPY IS GOING EXTINCT! Eventually, “It All Becomes Fiction” and fall is as good a time as any to remind ourselves of that. But we do wish our readership would avoid bears, otherwise you might be pondering death sooner than you think.
That last bit is a reference to “Mountain Guide for Avoiding Bears,” a poem by William Neumire, which is included in the Issue.
The Toucan is published entirely in a blog format, which leads to a towering column of story and poem that spills over three or four separate pages. To read the whole thing, you have to keep clicking on “Older Posts,” an elusive ant-sized specter at the bottom of your scroll down.
There is no table of contents either (hard to do in blog format). Being the congenial Owl that I am, I hereby provide an unofficial list of all the poetry contributors in Issue 8 (in no particular order):
[Owl Who Laughs]
As you can see, there are only five of us, but wonderful stuff. I hope you get a chance to drop by. You’ll also find excellent color photographs woven into the text. One is the most handsome picture of a toucan I’ve ever seen (keep in mind, though, that I’m not an ornithologist). And the other, titled “Duality” is quite sexual. Though whether it is erotic or philosophic or artistic--or all three-- depends on the wandering eye of the beholder.
Toucans and owls don’t normally mix, but an exception is in order for this fantastic production by Liz and Laura. Check out Issue 8 for sure!
PS: Here’s a shortcut to my poem (“Field Towards Road”), if you want:
Saturday, October 9, 2010
It seems like at least half of what we buy is “Made in China,” and has been for decades. Our government claims to fight for human rights but it's really about economics.
Isn’t human rights the reason we took out Saddam Hussein in Iraq? (After the excuse about “weapons of mass destruction” was revealed as a lie). If we took out Hussein for human rights violations, why do we keep making China stronger by giving Beijing oodles of cash?
Answer: We invaded Iraq for oil, not to help the Iraqis.
The government of China is ethically repugnant. And unlike the invective poured on Hussein, there’s almost no condemnation from our media. Our politicians say nothing either. Why?
Because we are all corrupt. We like being able to make purchases on the dirty and cheap. Not just one thing once in a while, but lots of things all the time. Things we don’t even need. Where do these wonderfully cheap things come from?
They come from a country that spits on our bill of rights. A country that takes us ten steps back toward the Dark Ages. For decades, sweatshop workers in China have toiled like dogs and were treated like dogs. Any protest was met with incredibly cruel punishment. Summary execution was common.
The problems are still immense today. Just ask Liu Xiaobo. Oops, you can't. The Communist Party of China (CPC) put him in jail for daring to want freedom of speech.
But the good citizens of the United States have never really cared about Liu Xiaobo or where our products come from. We’re all hypocrites. We’re all thugs.
In my opinion, the reason the US Empire is in decline, sinking fast, has much more to do with moral decay than anything else. Our “economic choices” are dictated by greed. The result is to turn our backs on the oppression of tens of millions of people.
Since World War II we have been a narcissistic consumer society, swilling products with a devil-may-care attitude concerning our karma. We’re a nation of me instead of a nation of we. Money has been our God and it is telling and ironic that we inscribe “In God We Trust” on our currency.
The answer to all our problems, ironically, is to start acting like good Christians instead of don’t-tax-me pigs. (keep in mind I’m not a Christian but I’d be happy if people acted as meekly and kindly and givingly and spiritually as the Bible says).
All I see are Christians ranting and raving about how much they hate our black Islamic President who actually is a Christian. The hate-filled protesters cuss because they don’t want to pay for their neighbor who is dying of cancer, even if it is only a small tax on their carbonated sugar drink.
Our government has been subverting and preventing democracy in other countries for a long time. The reason is always claimed to be national security, but the dictators we install and support have been friendly to the economic priorities of our corporations.
Our fat cats have touchy-feely relationships with our politicians, so you see how that goes.
(The latest incarnation of this is Halliburton and Dick Cheney. Where did all those billions funneled into US business in Iraq go? The Iraqi people STILL don’t have reliable electricity.)
Did you know that the USA supported Saddam Hussein for years and gave him huge amounts of military support? Did you know that when he first gassed his own citizens, we turned the other way?
Why? Because then he was our ally against Iran.
Did you know that the Taliban was our ally against the Soviets in Afghanistan and that we gave them tons of military training and aid? Yes, it’s true, Osama bin Laden was one of our buddies.
If you don’t know this, or that the US has been supporting thugs and Darth Vaders all along, you are willfully blind.
All you have to do is look at our economic relationship with China to see that money is far more important to us at all levels--from the citizen on up--than promoting human rights.
We’re a sick greedy country that binged itself into a housing market crash. It was a headlong chase after profit. It was spiritually immature and idiotic. Virtue and Jesus had nothing to do with it. In fact, we don’t want ethics. We want our next Caribbean vacation or a new widescreen TV.
Folks, we have been seduced by our inner demons. That’s why we’re going down. Don’t blame anyone but the American people, we divided dumb petty griping spoiled brats, and the demagogues who we foolishly serve because they play to our hatred and fear so well.
History will remember us as the short-lived empire that gave birth to the monstrous police state of China. And once China is supreme, I tremble for human rights everywhere.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
I happen to be included in the latest swarm. You’ll have to scroll down to the list of “Great Regulars” to find the blurb on me (my publication in CounterPunch). Or try this link:
I could see myself as a “regular,” since I’ve published over 500 poems. It has been a continuous road of toil over many years, including thousands of rejections, plus editing my vast trove of hopefuls (a new draft gets added almost every day).
What’s pleasing and special is that someone has decided to call me a “Great” regular. I appreciate that. Maybe with all the heartwork I’ve put in, a few gems have emerged among all the crap and coal.
Thank you, Webmaster Bowden! Not just for giving my morale a very needed zing, but for your hard work producing a weekly info blog that has more connections to interesting poetry sites than I’ve ever seen on a single page.
And believe me, I’ve wandered many a literary garden.
Monday, October 4, 2010
The poetry is wonderful. I'm honored that my poem "Spider" is included.
As an added bonus, the cover art by Robin Ator (who works professionally animating characters for TV commercials) is quite erotic. Well, I think so anyway. It's not often you get to see eight naked women and a rooster.
Anyway, an excellent job by Chief Editor Leif Milliken and staff.
A great big HOOT of approval!
Friday, October 1, 2010
CounterPunch is a nationally relevant magazine edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair. It's a VAST honor to have my poem "Killing Guilt" in their "Poets' Basement," which is edited by Marc Beaudin.
This is one of those very special moments in my life as a poet, one that will affect motivation and morale for a long time.
The ethical state of the world is so F*#(Ked up and to be heard, even a little, from the depths of my artistic soul is very validating.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Does anyone else see the horror and sorrow of what is happening in this country?
Sunday, September 26, 2010
I can't contain my anger. Most people hide their frustration and wear a mask. Now I openly accuse fools and immoral dogs. My behavior is the opposite of survival, even though my sustenance is truth.
The top 1% controls 23% of the total wealth, a percentage on the rise. It indicates social disease as much as a bulging cyst. The tactics are old, but as Donlan says, “The lesson of history is that we don’t learn the lessons of history.”
It's just Occam's Razor:
(1) A small faction of the population amasses wealth and power.
(2) They and their minion-politicians whip up a furor in the people, until logic has no place in their puppet show of "freedom."
That sums it up, really. Puppets who think they are free.
It's a horrible game. So mind-twisting. The complicity of the bureaucracy grinds me down. I have seen people crying in honest, moral emotion before the judge, the bureaucracy, only to be met with, "This is not a place for emotion."
The worst part about it, what bites at my soul the most, is this: the answer is simple, the solution impossible.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Although language is potentially versatile, the ritualized ways we use it reflect thousands of years of expansion through violence. History has embedded classification and objectification in the byways of our thoughts, anchored to the superiority of the warrior male, who is defined by an ability to kill with prowess while showing no emotional vulnerability. All of us unconsciously replicate this program, and must overcome it in the struggle to reclaim our words, enlisting them to sculpt a mature ethos.
Aristine Eaglewoman, Ecofem Wise
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
David Brooks has a horrible Op-ed piece in the New York Times today called “The ‘Freedom’ Agenda,” in which he effectively says that Freedom, a provocative new book by Jonathan Franzen is wrong to claim Americans are spiritually stunted and shallowly materialistic.
Freedom is Oprah Winfrey’s last book club choice for her viewers.
Brooks sees nothing seriously wrong with the mindset of Americans today. They aren’t too money-oriented, he says, nor is their spirituality compromised by their fetish for purchases (my words, not his).
It was so annoying that I wrote a comment, but the New York Times is no longer accepting comments, even though there are only twenty posted so far. I assume there are hundreds of comments (as usual) and the staff at the newspaper is slowly trickling them through some kind of check.
Anyway, here is my own comment, which the NYT will not permit.
I realize that no one is going to read this, but I am just SO frustrated with the corporate media shills.
Comment on David Brooks’ article, “The ‘Freedom’ Agenda”
It is easy to see why Brooks would be unmoved by an appeal to a greater range of conscience, because he highly prizes economic growth, more than moral truths. A theme that appears again and again in his writing is capitalist vigor vs ethical considerations.
This is perhaps most blatant in a piece called “The Values Question.” (11/24/09) Speaking about health care reform he remarks:
“Reform would make us a more decent society, but also a less vibrant one. It would ease the anxiety of millions at the cost of future growth ... America would be a less youthful, ragged and unforgiving nation, and a more middle-aged, civilized and sedate one.”
In a more recent article “The Genteel Nation” (Sept 9 2010) he pits “commercial values” against humanitarian values. Reflecting on one of Michellle Obama’s speechs, in which she says, “Become teachers. Work for the community. Be social workers. Be a nurse ...”, Brooks laments:
“As talented people adopt those priorities, America may become more humane, but it will be less prosperous.”
A willingness to trade human rights for stock market increases is a fundamental element in Brooks’ worldview. In “The Values Question” he says, not disapprovingly, that “the United States was a wide-open dynamic country with a rapidly expanding economy. It was also a country that tolerated a large degree of cruelty and pain.”
Morality, for Brooks, is a bargaining chip on the table of government options, played off against the economic health of the country. In his worldview, human health and economic health horribly clash. This makes him, fundamentally, a moral relativist, even when it comes to our most cherished values, like the right to human life.
Given that Brooks so highly praises a certain economic dynamic, one that happens to favor corporate behavior in a particular culture in a particular time--so much so that morality is debased and degraded to the point of being a bargaining chip--it is easy to comprehend his failure to ‘get’ the message in Freedom.
Young, virile economic ferment is what does it for Brooks. He seems incapable of viewing the massive suffering of millions of people, languishing without medical care, as more than a side effect of what’s truly important to him: sexy money.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Bare Root Review took one of my most revealing poems, "Confession."
Academic journals have a pretty high baseline when it comes to quality. They are often situated in an English Department, where a team of diligent bookworms toils over each issue, providing a superb blend of the 3 E’s: enthusiasm, expertise and energy.
Bare Root Review is no exception, and in fact stands out among its peers. Not just high but rather excellent quality. Why do I say this? A number of factors come into play.
First of all, the acceptance rate (duotrope.com) is very low, only 4%, an indicator of meticulous judgement. Second, the journal has been around for five years, which is a sign of commitment, health and experience. Most importantly, the poetry is really really good--not only well-crafted but fresh and (dare I say it) bare.
In other words BRR (it gets cold in Minnesota, so BRR is an appropriate acronym), lives up to its mission statement, part of which reads:
Why "Bare Root" you ask? The name stems from Minnesota's state flower, the pink and white Lady Slipper. The Lady Slipper's roots must be cut and individually transplanted. But once planted, they spread and grow thick.
Under the surface, the roots dive and tangle in a complex bundle we can only appreciate when we dig deep and push aside the chaff. Writing is a high risk, high reward endeavor. Dig deep and don't be afraid to take chances.
We are looking for work like that -- complex and strong and deliciously unexpected.
This leads to my favorite reason to praise Bare Root: the journal has fine flair. The mission statement reads cool, fonts are bold and funky, navigation is fun, and the poetry nestles within a good vibe, appearing alongside revealing photographs of the contributors. (you can take “revealing” any way you want, but you won’t know what I mean until you go to the site and get the bare facts ...)
It seems to me that the editors at this journal add a good dose of their own creativity, and I can’t wait to see what the current leadership (Dannica Dufur and Erin Kyle) come up with. Personally, I hope they preserve the large luscious fonts. The faculty advisor is Anthony Neil Smith.
The Spring 2010 issue contains the work of only four poets, positioning three nascent voices (Heather Cadenhead, KJ Hays and Ben Nardolilli) alongside seasoned word prince Michael Lee Johnson. As mentioned above, the quality is fantastic.
I strongly suggest checking out Bare Root Review and, even better, sending them your most honest psychological exposé.
Good things are happening in a nook of southwest Minnesota!
Saturday, September 18, 2010
You can so read it in situ, if you wish, where it appears under a very beautiful work of art:
Thank you for reading.
smudge of silence
and mahogany, alert
in onyx, vizier
in a skein of boughs,
scrying the weft of the universe,
observant like Orion,
stalking warm umber--
of secretive night-pines,
flying like a riddle
that doesn’t even whisper,
swooping in a merge
of bat and falcon,
neck a whirlpool of fates--
you Hanged Man
in a noose of flutters,
unable to breathe unless you moan.
darkness and forests ordained you,
long ago, when moonlight
fled the trees like rain.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Lucifex Ri3et, From Sinew To Wire
Sunday, September 12, 2010
WHL, or Wilderness House Literary Review, is the literary equivalent of geographical wonder, which is to say, the Earth has some especially beautiful nooks--for example, the White Mountains of Greece, Okavango Delta in Botswana, Kakadu in Australia--and the poetry world has such magical places too, one of which is WHL.
I’m busy, tired, and horribly misanthropic right now, so please take my pure praise for Irene Koronas, the editor of this fantastic site, for what it is: absolutely genuine.
I work really hard to produce a trickle of good poems, and when I get work in this journal I feel a rare sense of completion.
Thank you, Editor Koronas, and thank you staff of WHL for persevering!