Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The denizens of the future will look back at Homo sapiens with great curiosity and scholarly fascination, wondering what it was like to be born wild in Nature, and then to destroy Nature through an overwhelming greed manifested in technology. Most of all, they will ponder the role of the human being as a pivotal link in the ongoing chain of sentience--a creature that started off as purely animal and then, after tens of thousands of years, rebuilt itself into cyborg, thus eliminating the species.

Adelpho Tharr, What’s On The Universe’s Mind?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

There are many ways to be a wolf, and those who are best at it know well how to hide.

Sleeps Near Nataaq, Journals

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Poem: A Midsummer Night's Glee

This is a fun poem, something I don't do too often. It originally appeared in The Centrifugal Eye, You can read it in situ here:


I recommend reading the poem at TCE. The journal is a stunningly sensuous blend of color, art, calligraphy and poem.

A Midsummer Night’s Glee

commence to prate
on topics illustrated by bats
and sphinx moths;
and a clown-like moon
slants in fallen breeches.

lightning bugs court
whirligig silver
kicked up by beetles
on lunatic water;
and frogs burp
as if they had swallowed
Pan’s thyrsus.

coyotes dirge
like a barbers’ octet,
an owl spins its weird crick,
and spiders jig
their crazy legs
like trampolinists.

a goose speeds over like
what the f---
a meteor hurtles
as if Orion had spit,
and the stars decidedly
take their wish
and sleep on a cirrus.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Acceptance: Kill Poet


Kill Poet said to me: "you write good. real good.
we'd like to use a piece for issue9 which will drop soon.

Kill Poet is not just a poetry journal. It is a multimedia immersion in a hard-bitten subculture that embraces the grotesque and the violent, perhaps drawing some of its knife-edged momentum from the legendary Grand Guignol.

On the other hand, perhaps not. Kill Poet is utterly fresh in its avant-garde fatalism, the amoral plunge into a collage of altered states, taboo fixes, and symbolic murders. It’s a wildly popular venue judging from the four thousand followers on MySpace. Readings at Lestat’s Coffee House in San Diego seem (from YouTube) horribly well attended.

Cut Bukowski in half, trim him young and mad, then fuck with his brain chemistry to reflect the situational anguish of today’s youth--then suture that onto body parts of Mrs. Lovett and Green Day--and you get some idea of what’s going on at Kill Poet.

Make no mistake, though, this is not a garbage dump of mindless gore. The great salvation of kp is its literary merit, the excellence that forgives and even encourages its explorations and subversions.

As the United States plunges into dismal pain due to a gluttonous housing-market binge, two senseless wars, and a numb reliance on debt to support a craving for material fluff, Kill Poet may become the spearhead of a graphic yet eloquent dissent. If I were young, as the kp crowd seems to be, I would be disgusted with the leadership of the Empire for pissing away my future during an insipid and evil binge.

I’m an old geezer and I’m disgusted with the Empire. We all should be.

And yet most of us continue to chew our cud in bovine resignation. But not at Kill Poet. Their black-and-red motto is, Viva La Poem!

Poetry might be all this country has left for its younger generations. Even the basic supplies needed by a painter--oils, brushes, easel, canvas--are unaffordable. Someone needs to speak the truth, even indirectly, about our deranged wonderland of commercials and bombs.

But then again, Kill Poet refuses to be put in a box as a protest zine. It is many things liable to many interpretations, but in the end it is the underground masterwork of Jason Neese and Cat Benitez and whoever else is involved.

The only way to begin to fathom this site is to go there and start being killed yourself. The words of the editors, from the “editors’ page,” are a good place to begin dying. I humbly present you the first few lines, which deserve to be etched in a wall somewhere in blood (there is, in fact, a picture at kp of a poem apparently written in blood):

i am a few things.
i publish poetry
but i am not
just a poetry press
as my name
would allude to
i do want to end you
but not in the way you think.
it will be an honor
killing your perceptions
of poetry, only to
reanimate them


A final caveat and plea: If we close our minds to the genius of Kill Poet just because it is disturbing, we sacrifice empathy for comfort; and those without empathy lose contact with half of their own minds.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Homeless Story of J, Part 11

This is a work of fiction.



I eke out my days as a “dirt hermit,” a solo shaman hiding from the Processors. They are like dog catchers who loop the time clock around your neck, leashing you to a chain of money.

Go to a shelter, you get Processed. Herded to then next shelter, and so on.  Finally there is Skid Row. A freakzone ghetto asylum, miles of lattice in all directions. Skid Row's ashpalt moats keeps you in, teeming with crime, crazy homeless people like me, with police blocking all the exits.

I'm a dirt hermit. I stink. My clothes rot. I look like the protagonist in Ordinary Wolves, that paleo-eskimo.  His greasy Parka.  Its patches of duct tape and crusts of caribou blood.

People forget that our ancestors drove stone knives into the throats of cervids to finish them off.

Slasher films, which cost $20 per rich kid owe their visceral impact to the kill. Slender animals with feminine necks. Most of human history is the tribe, blood-drenched as they cut up what once roamed free. 

This Earth!  It is miracles destroying miracles to create more miracles.

If you’re raised telecommunicated and decide to be the last eskimo, or a dirt hermit, you have to go back a long way, but once you do, you find yourself right in the middle of a hundred thousand years of stabbing animals' necks.

All this ordinary bloodshed is in all of us.  Somewhere.

Don't assume that your ancestors had no morals.  They did not act like ants as we do. They did not swarm.  Today, when we go to war, we act as brutally as ants.  It was Churchill who fire-stormed whole cities of civilians--children, noncombatants, their homes, possessions, their dogs and cats.  

I read that a firestorm is just as bad as a nuclear bomb, in terms of devastation.  So Britain and the United States are equally extreme in evil infliction.

A dirt hermit must look crazed and out of place. Contact with raw earth makes you a necessary pariah. You must be farouche.

Without a Processor, you won't be upgraded to the latest version of the Program.  The Program will not see you, even when you stand on a street corner and watch the thousands of tin coffins go by.

Humanity used to kill wild animals.  But now, we kill the wildnerness itself.  We are the Bridge Species on this planet.  Our future is techno-machine.  It didn't take us long to murder nature.

Nothing like 'us' has happened in the last five billion years. The Permian Extinction and the Triassic Meteor Strike, those were different extinctions than the one we inflict.  Those extinctions mere set evolution free to play.  

Our extinction, the human-caused extinction, is the murder of evolution.

Welcome the end of nature, and the new Era of Machina Convolvus.

(Note to myself: "era” is “are” backwards)

There is no stopping our blind march.  We all say yes and we all act no.  

We are as much pawns as that first primal algae which turned the sky from methane to oxygen.  An algae that destroyed its preeminence by teeming.

As I watch the reorientation of the essence of our planet, I am like a frail old man watching an avalanche.

At least I've had my time. Thirty-seven years is nothing to regret. Ten with the spirits.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Poem: Sea Party

Originally published in The Linnet's Wings


Sea Party


minnows swerve,

sweet sparkles of charm,

shoal quick,


a gossip soft as anemones,

sneaky as fronds.


crude then,

from obscene jaws,

wide as sperm whale,


or defensive as crab shell

over wet martinis

on the rocks.


tentacles feast

on the angst in the claws,

cracking their sarcasm


to blend it with roe

or salmon pâté.


night soon lists.


crowd out surface.


hints of wolf eel

and shark.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Acceptance: Wild Violet

One of my favorite sense-tingling journals just took my poem, “A Fall Moment.” Yay!

Wild Violet is run by Alyce Wilson, who recently celebrated the birth of her first child. Rather than close up shop, Wilson redesigned her web journal, adding its transformation to a wonderful new phase of her life.

She has accomplished something most of us would envy: the combination of the literary and the personal into an organic momentum.

Wilson has remarkable energy and an inveterate joie de vivre, which blooms forth in various blogs, twitters, and of course Wild Violet. She is a sensuous and celebratory person. For a video of her with her baby boy, go here:


To see my previous entry on Wild Violet, and read my poem “Apple,” one of my favorites of all time:


Finally, to delve more fully into the salubrious and satisfying world of Alyce Wilson, I recommend her homepage. You’ll notice links to other projects on the right side, and you’ll be struck by an aura of hearty intellect:


If you have poems that reach out like a fresh herb just picked from the garden, or an owl singing its crazed aria over a gleam of will-o’-wisps, send them to Wild Violet. Be sure, though, to check the guidelines. Every issue has a theme, albeit one that can be broadly interpreted.

I salute this longstanding editor and agile swimmer in the currents of life!


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Acceptance: Forge


Leif Milliken, one of the prime movers at Forge, recent informed me that they were taking my poem “Spider.” Forge is an amazing journal, with a wonderful tripartite personality (explained below). I’m very honored and thrilled.

In fact, I feel as lucky as Rice Boy in the presence of T.O.E. (also explained below).

They’ve been in business since 2006, and have kept the journal vivid and bravely diverse. You can get a hint by looking at the covers of some past issues, including the original number one, conveniently provided at their blog:


The splendid range of Forge is due in part to rotating shifts at the anvil of authority. There are three General Editors who each take a turn hammering the raw material of submissions into the latest greatest issue.

Behind the General Editors is a large staff of helpful folks. It’s not easy to make a literary team work, and the Forge founders, Milliken and Mike Moore, deserve molten praise for building up, in just four years, such a remarkable foundry.

A simple truth: The lit zine world is volunteer, and if the leadership isn’t good, followers disperse. Here is a description of the current team excerpted from the “About” section of the website:

Created in 2006 by Leif Milliken and Mike Moore, Forge has been published twice yearly since Winter 2007. Melissa Wolfe was brought in as a third General Editor, and Sarai Douglas became our Poetry Editor, with Jordan Milliken and Aaron Chambers taking on reviews. The rest of the editorial staff is indispensable, and the contribution of Ella Kurtz, Patricia Livermore, and Rebecca J McPherson – not to mention our numerous Readers – cannot go without due thanks. So thank you! Forge would not be what it is without a solid team behind it.

As you can see, the journal is supported by many people, each of whom serves as a strut, bracket, i-beam, aileron, or joist in the overall formidable structure.

My use of construction and blacksmith metaphors has been fun but I need to stop because Forge is far more varied and complex. There’s a jarring dose of surreal and a pinch of gleesome wonderland.

On their Link page you will find a listing for illustrator Jill Pratzon. Check out her marvelous animal-insect calligraphy to get a hint at another side of Forge:


Forge’s whimsy also extends to comic book sci-fi. We are told on the blog to check out the adventures of Rice Boy, who, living up to his eponymous existence, looks very much like a grain of rice. He is chosen by two mysterious agents of God-- Calabash and The One Electronic--to be a prophet.


The poetry in the latest issue (4.1) reflects the fantastical nature of Forge. You get great stuff like “Ugly Organ Crows” by Kevin Del Principe and “The Very Last Moments of Lao Tzu” by a “well-known antiquarian bookseller” who now calls himself “satnrose.”

Really, you can’t beat the originality of this line-up. The poetry astounds as rapidly as it explores new mindzones. Do not miss a chance to ride on the back of this chimera of a journal as it zooms through psychological space to magnify elusive frontiers.

I give Forge my highest recommendation for fancy, frisson and bellwether gusto. Be sure to visit them, and email some feedback to Editor Milliken!


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Oped Piece Up At Bangor Daily News

My opinion piece titled, "Logical Death of Prop 8" is up and available here:


If you are interested in the debate around the issue of gay marriage in the United States, or just the philosophical arguments, please visit.

And feel free to leave a remark. The comments are flying!


Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Reading By Mark Pawlak and Mary Bonina!

August 2nd marked a special day for poetry in Down East Maine. Editors, writers and literary leaders converged to hear Mark Pawlak and Mary Bonina read at the Machias Public Library.

In attendance were: (a) the Salt Coast Sages, a flourishing group of poets based in Machias, led by Jerry George, (b) the editors of Off The Coast, our area’s only world class literary magazine, Valerie Lawson and Michael Brown, (c) various wordsmiths of all backgrounds from near and far, (d) a polyglotism of curious tourists and onlookers. The room was packed, rare for our region, and the atmosphere hummed with expectation.

Pawlak, in a nutshell, could be described as historical, amiable and brilliant. He has edited Hanging Loose Press for thirty years. Also, he hobnobbed with some of the legends of poetry. You’re dealing with someone who studied extensively with Denise Levertov.

For detailed information on this wonderful and talented bard, check these links:



Over the last five or so years, Pawlak has bestowed an especially great honor on my hometown. He has been using Lubec, Maine as a muse. Happily, there is now an accumulated body of Pawlak work that could be called the Lubec Collection. Some of these poems, each an acute vignette of the people or place, can be found here:





As if the Down East region weren’t honored enough by the presence of Pawlak, his wife Mary Bonina also read for us in Machias. It was a memorable convergence, indeed!

Bonina also studied with Denise Levertov, as well as Ken Smith. She has many publications and seems especially prone to winning grants and awards. One of her pieces, we were informed, had been chosen for a granite monument! I could kick myself for not writing down the details. I believe this immortalized poem is etched on an obelisk somewhere in the Boston region.

For more on Bonina’s publications and various accolades, check out her homepage:


I would like to mention that Bonina has completed a chapbook for Cervena Barva, one of my favorite small press publishers. Cervena Barva is associated with a group of poets in the Cambridge region. I’m not sure of the whos and hows, but these cool poets participate in a number of literary projects, including the following (as well as Cervena Barva): The Bagel Bards, Wilderness House Literary Review, Istanbul Literary Review, and Ibbestson Street Press.

I’ve worked briefly with editors Irene Koronas and Robert K. Johnson, who are affiliated with this group. The experience has been nothing but positive and indelible. They love poetry and painstakingly struggle for vigorous awareness.

At our get-together, Bonina read many poems that could be described as freshly nostalgic. The well-crafted phrases enticed us like fluent and lissome creatures of air. Pawlak’s work was sometimes political, often satiric, and always expert at combining disparate yet connected images. Much of his repertoire consisted of found poems, that is, poems constructed of excerpts from newspapers, books and other media. He proved himself a master at this skill, swinging from humor to sharp insight--or sometimes merging them in a deftly tuned cluster of phrases.

I deeply and emphatically thank both Mark Pawlak and Mary Bonina for gracing us with their warm presence and their unimpeachably fine art. Viva Pawlak! Brava Bonina! Excelsior Down East Maine!


Friday, August 6, 2010

If an atomic bomb goes off tomorrow, the doomsayers will suddenly be prophets, and the rest of us will be revealed as greedy, ignorant pawns.

Ariel Frostwraith, Our Tomb

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Poem: Buffalo Story

This poem originally appeared in Ellipsis.


Buffalo Story

nomadic mountain range,
sea of earth-shuddering currents,
profuse vegetation of gnarled fur--
giants who intoned like thunder
with communal hooves,
and carved unbounded trails
in mammalian rivers,

they never learned the diplomacy
of linear greed, never
pilfered the ground like a lattice;
and so barbed wire dismembered
their collective body
with techniques that disgusted
thistles and thorns.

each heroic leg
was chopped from the others.
the robust bosom
and the wind-strong abdomen
were quartered and drawn.
mineral brown eyes
and virile crescent horns
were ripped from the bearded crown.

the deepest soul
was carved with lead
into a pimpling of matted corpses--
as if each cell
of the prairie’s shaggy heart
had been skewered,
as if the flesh-like land
had been stabbed into pustules
of useless meat.

there were no more chants
to praise the buffalo,
no more masks in their name.
the people who worshipped them
muttered in gulches,
praying that a crucifix would not brand
their children’s throats.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

My Poems Up At The Hell Gate Review!


Editor René Vasicek informed me today that my Hell Gate Review poems were up on the site. They are BEAUTIFULLY presented, including a very rad photograph that appear juxtaposed with one of my most intense pieces ever, “Nuclear Monster.”

Look at the photograph and you’ll see why I use the word “rad” to describe it. You’ll be blown away ...

Also accepted were “Street Addict” and “Number Cruncher.” Both are visceral pieces that shriek inside their careful sleeves of editing, which took months to accomplish.

Adding to the thrill, Editor Vasicek informed me that August 2010 marks the second anniversary of HGR. My poems are very proud to be featured in concordance with this date. This is one of my most important acceptances in over eight years of struggle as a word shaman.

I do not say this lightly.

Finally, I really like how the bio turned out. It goes as follows (but I encourage you to read it in situ, because in addition to publishing great literature, HGR frames its work with outstanding aesthetic touches, including careful choice of color, style and size of font, and of course photography):

[Owl Who Laughs] lives part-time in Los Angeles and the rest in a remote spruce forest, where moose can get menacing during the rut. He teaches environmental philosophy for the University of Maine. Before that, he worked on a suicide hotline for 13 years. As the hunter-gatherer lifestyle winds down after a million year run, his poems tend to focus on the new human wilds. Some recent acceptances are from: Vox Humana, Brink Magazine, Portland Review and Barnwood. He blogs as the mordant avatar Owl Who Laughs.

If you have some hard-hitting, urban-edged poems that ripped out part of your soul, I strongly recommend sending them to The Hell Gate Review. But don’t send them anything less. This journal deserves a piece of your soul that can never be replicated or replaced.

They’ll take care of it well.