Saturday, December 31, 2011

Those who progress, through the anguished yet learned struggle of the mind, reach a stage where they must assume the full mantle of Cassandra.

She Who Scolds Ravens


Friday, December 30, 2011

Liberty's Vigil, the Occupy anthology, Launches!

Liberty’s Vigil, the Occupy anthology, 99 poets among the 99 percent, has been given a web page at Foothills Publishing:

FP and Liberty

See my review and praise for the editors, Karla Linn Merrifield and Dwain Wilder, here:

Owl On Liberty's Vigil

You’ll find one of my best anti-war poems, “Protest,” among the offerings--but the really interesting thing about this anthology is the fertile enthusiasm among the contributors. We have each other’s email, and the electronic bombination has been travelling this way and that faster than bees pollinate a bower.

Readings are being organized all over the United States. Some of the poets are in other countries, spreading the effort there as well. In my ten years as a poet, I’ve never seen this much fervor over the launch of an anthology.

Poets are the bellwether of any country’s moral compass, and many of those in the Empire are frenetic from the sad truth: America is sick with decadence, riven by cruelty, obese with greed, atrocious from war. The bulk of the people are not protesting (yet); but poets are speaking out, yelling, proclaiming with the literary equivalent of a clarion that we need to overcome the inequality and bellicosity that dominate our lives, and in truth menace the entire world.

Buy this anthology, or write your own anti-Avarice poem, or pick some work by a great prophet like Pablo Neruda or Wilfred Owen--and then read your piece aloud at a gathering, or post it where others can and must see. Pin your anguish to the words. Let the public know you care about the descent of American into tyranny, plutocracy, and dissolution.

Courageous artists are speaking. You are one of them, if only you challenge the invisible yet insidious walls of silence. An honest poet speaks freely, fights the momentum of malfeasance.

Whether or not you use a pen or a keyboard, or call yourself a protester, is immaterial.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Poem: December Trees

Another poem published originally in Wilderness House Literary Review, under the auspices of Poetry Editor Irene Koronas. All this month, I am posting some of my WHL acceptances to honor this venue and its leadership.



December Trees

half-melted popsicles,

bark spongy with drench,
a lettuce of wood,
and spiny

like squished crabs
in a tubular crate,

icy as rejection,
twitching gale-numbed

don’t climb them
they snap like horns
of dead ibex,

and grimace
from fangs in notches,
revealing the crush
of hungers inside--

decades of lives
sucked by roots
to lard the pith--

every splinter an ant,
every rumple
some hapless sprite,
the twigs pedipalps

stolen from spiders
after they veiled
oaken bones.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Acceptance: IthacaLit

IthacaLit is a new journal that has taken its recent flight very seriously. As a result, it has already learned to soar. Currently, a small number of poets, only twelve, have work on the site; but the quality is outstanding, and so IthacaLit spreads young yet magnificent wings. You will find the work of seasoned and extraordinary voices like Diane Lockward and Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé, and also lesser known yet scintillant silver-tongues as well.

Founding Editor Michele Lesko has done everything right (with assistance from Editor Sherry O’Keefe, who also edits at YB poetry). She no doubt realized that if the name of your journal is eponymous with place, you de facto become a representative of the personality and eloquence of place. By claiming geographical kinship, you contribute to a communal aura.

In my sincerest opinion, the city of Ithaca can be quite proud of this nascence--and better be. IthacaLit is like a star that pulls your eye to a certain quadrant of the sky.

Today is Solstice and I’m not swimming in an abundance of time (maybe a little ice), but I want to add that the ambience upon arrival at the URL ( is absolutely pro. Expert and stylish organization, including font and color, synergize with a generous assortment of starkly good photos. You feel emotional roots as soon as you cross the threshold.

Once this journal gets known, the chance of acceptance is bound to plummet; and I suspect it is already a camel-through-the-eye-of-a-needle kind of thing. Polish your best pieces with lapidary care, and send them out quick. Keep in mind the Yule song that goes, “Up on the rooftop quick, quick, quick” and move even faster!

I’m lucky and honored that my poems “Hermit Thrush Song” and “On the Couch” will be included. A rare and special gift.

This journal is a must-see.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Poem: Under the Silver

Continuing my tribute to Wilderness House Literary Revew and Poetry Editor Irene Koronas, here is another poem originally published there.

May the silver in the darkness guide you.



Under The Silver

the moon gazes
like a denarius
on the lid of Venus,
and we wonder
what else is buried in the mists;
if truth is a victim
or a willing sacrifice;
and whether we ourselves
are under the silver.

the soil-like sky
shuffles its den of coffins,
each a mansion of mutable doors.
how long have we been
sawing with harsh prayers,
trying to get out,
or to rescue the eyries
trapped within?

when clouds mesh
into a metropolis,
their eye sockets
yield an immutable rain;
and if we are to earn daylight,
we must decipher the turbid sorrow,
untangle the beasts hinted at
by clumps of vaporous
and angry bone.


Monday, December 19, 2011

America and Johnny: Both Seduced By the Devil

The Devil Went Down To Georgia is one of the best known songs in the US, embodying what has become a legend of Americana. The devil challenges a talented boy named Johnny to a fiddle-playing contest, wagering a golden fiddle against the boy’s soul. The boy outplays his infernal opponent, and wins the expensive and shiny prize:

The devil bowed his head because he knew that he'd been beat.
He laid that golden fiddle on the ground at Johnny's feet.
Johnny said: "Devil just come on back if you ever want to try again.
"I done told you once, you son of a bitch, I'm the best that's ever been."

The underlying message embraces values of competition, materialism, and individualism. Unvarnished praise of gold-lust is given a special twist: as long as you are very good at what you do, it is okay to be reckless and immoral. In the song, Johnny admits that accepting the Devil’s challenge is sinful, but he doesn’t care, boasting with unflappable and audacious arrogance:

The boy said: "My name's Johnny and it might be a sin,
"But I'll take your bet, your gonna regret, 'cos I'm the best that's ever been."

The cultural encryptions in the song support the kind of norms you would expect in America, an imperious and self-aggrandizing place. In good Roman fashion, the US has battened on wealth, and imploded into a lopsided aftermath of decadence and poverty. It is now descendant after a brief run on top, making it the shortest-lived empire of all time.

This precipitous decline has a lot to do with the theme of Charlie Daniels’ song, a surreptitious message in the psyche of extreme capitalism:

If you try hard and have great talent, you can beat the Devil.

This message is not only flawed, poisonous actually, it is a gateway to disaster. The real truth in the song, The Devil Went Down to Georgia, is that the Devil cannot lose. As soon as Johnny takes the bet, the Devil wins, no matter the outcome of the competition.

If the Devil outplays Johnny, the boy’s soul is lost in a blink. Reckless is a stupid way to gamble.

If Johnny outplays the Devil, he gets a golden fiddle. Okay, what next? The fiddle becomes the Eye of his life, the lens of his great moment. It fixates him on risky triumph and associates thrill with gold. The fiddle enamors the immature upstart, making object master.

We can imagine the insidious way this glittering possession possesses. To justify his outlandish risk, Johnny convinces himself that his soul has no more worth than a fancy yet simple instrument.

By handing Johnny the fiddle, the Devil spreads an itch for wealth, a pride in danger, and scorn for humility. Life becomes a trophy hunt.

A plausible ending: Johnny, haughty already, goes home and brags about his prize, tucking it under his pillow at night. He does a fine job spreading seeds that the Devil wants spread: selfishness, avarice, impulse. Johnny’s virtuosity wanes. He has convinced himself that he plays for riches, not excellence. The rest of his life becomes a monetary quest.

Eventually, the boy who 'beat' the personification of Evil is shot and killed by covetous thieves.

In “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” the satanic bard cannot lose. In fact, taking Johnny’s soul is probably the lesser way to debauch humanity. Why not let Johnny have the fiddle so he can infect others and sow discord?

The United States acts like Johnny. It thinks that if it blusters and saber-rattles, it can beat the Devil, and do whatever it wants.

Big corporations act this way too. Sociopathic of ego, incautious, they push us into a bewildering future. As the victors rush ahead, accelerating the profit craze, tens of millions of people get left to languish in irrelevance.

The United States thinks it can beat the Devil. But just like Johnny, the US is trapped in a no-win situation. Once you take the bet, you're in chains. When arrogance makes you think you can step beyond good and evil, you lose.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Poem: Stormy

Another poem published in Wilderness House Literary Review, edited by the talented Irene Koronas. I am very pleased to showcase WHL poems this month.




what some call fatal
others deem food.
the wounded reach up
alongside the supple.
a crow bleats as fractured nests
sift down.

animals of water
orgy in flooded streets.
their moans gorge
on a mill of shapeless skin.
streetlights swing like biceps,
fiercely working slush.
the wail of an ambulance
scissors liquid, cutting
its sheets of sighs.

some of us dance nude on
greased tar while rainbows
lick our feet. others wrap in
hurried layers of pelt and rubber.
ripples slither-slip over
the anguish of the pummeled stage,
reminding us of shattered

a pigeon swerves
then jackknifes madly,
becoming the story of a whip.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Poem: Closet

Another poem published by Wilderness House Literary Review. This poem concerns my brother, who was born on December 9, 1969 and died on February 5, 2000.



in the dark the shirts
in the closet are ghosts,
suicides that hung themselves
that way. faint
moonlight dredges up
a slump of someone’s collar.
the boy on the bed
wants to go inside, stick his head in--
to try on every limp body,
find out every why
from these skeletons
that hang on hooks
shaped like the letter Y.

he wants to be in the middle.
wrapped up, strangled, hugged.
he wants all these bodies
to be fabrics of snatching web.
and as he struggles
he beholds the intri-
cacy of the monster,
its cheekless face,
how it torments in echoes,
reminds him of love
that died mangled in its beak.

somehow, fitting into
the agony of all his fears,
he must go down.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Poem: Flooded Gutter

This poem originally appeared in Wilderness House Literary Review, edited by the exceptional poet and thinker, Irene Koronas.


PS: You never know what you will find in a gutter.


Flooded Gutter

trash floats thick
like a python slow
with cancer.

we watch soiled husks
bob toward drains,

like sycophants
and barely able to swim.
they stink

of the trouble
of denied decay,
of stress held hostage

in antsy cars.

we do our best not
to fathom their pall.
their ignominy.

their lack of face.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Acceptance: Liberty's Vigil

Liberty's Vigil: The Occupy Anthology, 99 poets among the 99%

It’s a great honor and privilege to be part of this justice-seeking anthology, along with 98 phenomenal poets, many with national reputations. The release date will be some time in January and the publisher is FootHills Publishing, a wellspring of quality books and stimulating literary endeavors.

The up-front Editor is Karla Linn Merrifield, a brilliant and prodigious writer whose voice strives with skill and emotion not only to praise the Earth, its beautiful animals, ecosystems and plants, but also to alert and educate, to reach into our hearts through layers of conformity and wake us to the perils of the Tech Rush (think California Gold Rush, circa 1848, expanded to include the entire globe). She writes books, she edits multiple venues, and she puts together anthologies. I worked with her briefly in her capacity as co-Editor at one of the best-produced small-press journals of all: The Centrifugal Eye. You have to see--not just read but SEE--this journal to believe it. Anyway, I worked with her briefly and was overwhelmed by her competence, ethical passion and charm.

(What is “ethical passion?” It is the result of living without denial about the dangers and wonders of life when it could all be destroyed by nuclear weapons, genetic tampering, or cyborgery. It is the ability to soar to bliss and dive into vicarious grief, an emotional flight born of candor, with a deep-seated yearning to heal and protect the Earth from further damage, and to help the human species continue to mature and evolve its fledgling conscience)

In short, Merrifield is the human equivalent of an earth calyx. An earth calyx is a magical place of natural beauty and aesthetic/spiritual confluence. Merrifield is a leader, not authoritarian, but rather a humble and discerning artist and philosopher, who brings the best of many souls together in journals and anthologies.

I haven't communicated directly with the Behind-the-Scenes Editor Dwain Wilder, an equal partner in the project with Merrifield. Go to the 99-poets website (see the purple link above) and read his bio. You will find a fascinating spectrum of adventures and skills that, I have feeling, barely scratch the aptitudes and avocations of this bardic Renaissance man. This erudite fellow is truly fascinating. For instance, I learned a new word, "luthier," the name of his artisan and euphonious trade. As a coup de grace, he is an exemplar of progressive courage, having worked extensively in leadership roles for Civil Rights and also to end the Vietnam War.

What a magical duet of editors. The synergy between them is a sure seal and signet, attesting to the excellence of this anthology.

It’s late here, and I am sinking. I needed to write this now, because I hardly have time for anything beside the pillars of my existence: my poetry and dwelling in mutuality with my incredible wife.

I will add that all copies of this anthology will be hand-sewn. What a special and rare touch (double-entendre intended).


Wednesday, November 30, 2011


The American people have become anesthetized to the horrors of war.

That one sentence cries storms. If true, something has gone tragically wrong. There is no need for a disquisition, or an Homeric tour de force, or dozens of chapters of any kind.

The American people have become anesthetized to the horrors of war.

Let that phrase sink in. You could attend a marathon reading, listen to hundreds of poets give heartrending testimony; or you can dwell on the ramifications of this single crucial key:

The American people have become anesthetized to the horrors of war.

If we humans were brilliant beings, angelic of genius, this one truth would mobilize and shock us, outrage and invoke vehement yet catalyzing acts of protest.

The American people have become anesthetized to the horrors of war.

But we are terribly flawed and, yes, sheep-like entities, who can see vast dysfunction without seeing, and speak voluminous rhetorics without speaking to help heal our plight.

The American people have become anesthetized to the horrors of war.

That one exhalation should be enough, if we dare dwell on the concise yet world-changing import.

The American people have become anesthetized to the horrors of war.

We can use this line of symbols like a pin, pop the empty layers of non-emotion keeping our zeal for justice inside. We need to let the power of words arrest then liberate us, subdue then embolden--

We must, we must, we must! Because

The American people have become anesthetized to the horrors of war.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Acceptance: Bolts of Silk

Juliet Wilson at Bolts of Silk recently took my poem, "Snowblink," which will appear sometime in December. I have written about Wilson before, calling her a Druidess in an informal way, for she does more to raise awareness and champion the magic and spiritual riches of nature than anyone else I have had contact with as a poet--and I have about 600 poems published now.

Wilson has more than one very popular website. Her profile has something like 25,000 views. Bolts of Silk has 366 followers at the time of this writing.

Another of her blogs, Crafty Green Poet, is also charismatic and hypnotic. Beautiful writing and photography, and wise words for green living. She has won awards and prizes, been invited to give lectures, and teaches literature at a local University near her home in Ireland.

This is a feeble post. I am not doing justice to Wilson's skill, diligence, passion, perspicacity and creative intellect. I wish I could write a lot more, but time is not on my side. I'm feeling crushed.

I will say this: She is one of a few editors and poets who have helped my artistic journey tremendously, and who has inspired me with her ethical wisdom and courage.

It is rare to meet people like this in life, and I am glad that all my struggle and toil as a writer led me to Bolts of Silk.

I recommend this venue as both a philosopher and a bard.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Plug for My Chapbook: Rebellion

I’m going to be plugging my latest chapbook, Rebellion, now and then. It did, after all, win first place in the Medulla Publishing competition!

The first poem in the chapbook is “The Gods Reflect On Creation,” a philosophical and spiritual satire on the nature of human life within the overarching parameters of cosmic evolution.

Listen to Nic Sebastian read this poem, one of the best I’ve written (click on the play button; and if you want the text, click on the text button):


Are you convinced yet? Why not go to the following link and at least consider purchasing the slim volume of poems that represents my soul? They have all been published somewhere snazzy.


Owls rarely hoot in happiness, but, as they say, you’ve got the power ...

Cheers And All That,


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Release: Prime Number 13.3

My poem "Rock Wall" is now up at Prime Number Magazine, including a photo of me frazzled:


Also, see my review of Prime Number here, if you wish:




Friday, November 18, 2011

Release: Emprise Review, Issue 22

Issue 22 of Emprise Review has just been released, including my poem, “Bottoming,” inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement. Here’s the link:


The Poetry Editor of this established and superb journal is Tracy Youngblom. According to Duotrope Digest, only about 8% of submissions are accepted, which makes sense given the stellar and arresting work in Emprise. Youngblom finds poems that are pithy and succinct,and yet usually of pretty good length. They are lyrical and original pieces that bristle with intense meaning, the sort that salves and stings at many levels, often with a subtle undertone of ethos. In short, brilliant stuff with a purpose that transcends and yet co-opts good sound.

Youngblom made a suggestion on my poem which improved it greatly, though I’m still not sure it is worthy of Emprise. I sure am grateful to be included though! The poem was edited over a dozen times.

The Poetry Editor’s Introduction was fascinating for me to read, because it concerns feminism and I am teaching Women’s Studies this semester. Youngblom puzzles over the fact that all her contributors in this issue, inadvertently, are male, which seems ironic given her dedication to promoting women’s equality. However, she works it out, and shows that feminism is a flexible and accepting philosophy, one that continuously seeks to end oppression but does not adhere to a simple male-vs-female mathematics.

It is not easy to be a feminist in our global society today, and I admire Youngblom for launching a tough discussion about trying to be ethical once the Women’s Studies class is over, and the camaraderie of the classroom has yielded to the inevitable branches that take feminists on separate journeys. How do you sustain your imperative for justice? What strategies keep you energized when you are ‘out in the world’, away from others who agree with you, and faced with situations that don't allow simple choices?

Youngblom shows us it can be done and that the struggle to understand life’s confusing and complex contexts can spark some sagacious and absorbing prose.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My Prize-Winning Chapbook Now On Sale!

My chapbook “Rebellion,” which won 1st place in the Medulla Publishing competition, is now on sale at the site, using PayPal:


The theme is challenging the system. The system could be anywhere or anything. A city, a drug, a corporation, a senator, God, death, a desert, a chainsaw, dark love ...

The pieces in this booklet are some of the best I have produced in my ten years struggling to write. It’s somewhat sad that my essence and philosophy can be distilled into such a slim volume--but there it is.

I’m not going to beg for anyone to purchase “Rebellion.” That would be like begging to sell my soul. The bottom line is this: if I sell some copies, it will bring pleasure; if I don’t it will annoy and depress; but these emotions are ephemeral either way, and I don’t think I will ever stop writing.

My goal is to let my most honest attempts at verbal beauty fly free. Not a single one of my poems is more precious than a butterfly, and like most butterflies they will live unseen and die lonely and sometimes cruelly. The world we live in dictates that miracles are commonplace and most will be crushed without awareness by blinkered beings who themselves are used by others.

This doesn’t mean we can't be judged. Each of us, for better or worse, is liable for our choices, including what we decide to see. My pamphlet intends to be part of a quest for better living. The path taken is one of unfettered passion accusing the system. My mode of travel is the most intense and evocative phrases I can, with great pain, discover and combine into a ferocious yet somewhat angelic beast.

This is the purpose of my life, this is what I was put here to do. My poems are my fig tree. At this stage, given what I’ve seen of humanity, I don’t expect anything more.


PS: Here is the chapbook blurb from Medulla Editor Jennifer Hollie Bowles, a disarming, original, surreal and dangerously good poet in her own right:


On Rebellion

Master of brilliant metaphors, vigorous verbs, and universal socio-spiritual concepts, [Owl Who Laughs] creates a unique world of intoxicating poetry in his chapbook, Rebellion. This world reveals and challenges gods, wars, machines, and the psychology of—being and everything. Read and become instantly: “...reminded of their squelched pulse/and the storms in heartbeats...”

[Owl Who Laughs] teaches environmental ethics for the University of Maine and does much of his writing in a hut in a spruce forest. There are no traffic lights for fifty miles and moose can get dangerous during the rut. His creative angst can be described as obsessive, lycanthropic and apocalyptic. He has about five hundred poems published, including work in Chelsea, Atlanta Review, Portland Review and Disquieting Muses. Regarding his fifth chapbook, Gordian Butterflies, the Poetry Editor at Arsenic Lobster said, “[it] may just become a collector’s item one day.” He’s been nominated for various awards, including the Pushcart, Best New Poets and Best of the Web, and was interviewed twice on Poets Café, a radio show of KPFK Los Angeles. Both interviews and more extensive biographical background are available here:

He lives with his talented artist wife and their cat Portobello, and any bears, deer or bald eagles that might wander through the yard.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Acceptance: Prime Number

Prime Number: A Journal of Distinctive Poetry and Prose

I’m very excited that my poem “Rock Wall” will appear in issue 17 of Prime Number, a new yet outstanding source of literary delight. “How could it be new,” you ask, “when they are on issue 17?” Answer: you need to break out of the reductive routine, your evenly spaced same-old-same-old, and enter into the weltanschauung of a rare, special and unpredictable beast: the prime number.

Every prime number is unique, after all. There is no formula to predict when the next prime will occur as you race toward infinity on the staircase of natural numbers (1, 2, 3, ...). No prime number is dividable into the product of other numbers. Unique, independent and fascinating, these special entities become more rare as the number of digits in their stride increases. It was proven true by the classic Prime Number Theorem in the 19th century.

The largest known prime number is currently listed on Wikipedia with its own special name:


which represents 2 x 10 to the 43112609 power, minus 1.

If Prime Number becomes the most legendary and long-lasting zine of all time, spreading through the galaxy among all (un)known species of xenoforms, it might someday reach Issue M43112609. This feat will be aided by the fact that the journal uses only prime numbers for its issues.

So, while I am appearing in 17, it is actually the seventh issue, if you want to revert to the old boring way of thinking. Contributors appearing in issue 127 will be, in prosaic terms, gracing the pages of the 31st offering. Currently the journal is on the quarter system, so 127 will come out just before the ninth year of publication.

Enough of the math! Except to say that I hope this literary oasis does reach M43112609. The contents are exquisitely non-mathematical and consummately fine. The Poetry Editor, Valerie Nieman, sets a highly professional standard for bona fides. She might be the most accomplished editor I have ever worked with. Here is her biography from the site:

Valerie Nieman worked for three decades as a journalist while honing her skills as a poet and fiction writer. Her third novel, Blood Clay, set in Piedmont North Carolina, will appear in fall 2010 from Press 53. She is the author of a collection of short stories, Fidelities (West Virginia University Press), and a poetry collection, Wake Wake Wake (Press 53). She has received an NEA creative writing fellowship in poetry, two Elizabeth Simpson Smith prizes in fiction, and the Greg Grummer Prize in poetry. A graduate of West Virginia University and the M.F.A. program at Queens University of Charlotte, she teaches writing at N.C. A&T State University and is a regular workshop leader at the John C. Campbell Folk School and the North Carolina Writers Network. Visit her blog at and her website at
As you might expect from this stellar background, Nieman’s choices of poems are in the top quintillionth of the best (okay, I’m exaggerating, but I always wanted to use the word “quintillionth” in a sentence, and the hyperbole fits). In past issues she has given a lot of extra time to contributors. In 13, for example, she asks each poet three questions, thereby adding the author’s background, philosophy and creative impetus to the mix.

Anyone who knows how hard editors work can validate the generosity of this embellishment. Icing the cake, all poems are accompanied by a sizeable photo. More toil and moil for the editor, and yet more nuance and impact for the reader.

Not only that, when the contract for publication arrived in my email, the dull legal aspect was palliated by Neiman’s congenial demeanor as she welcomed me “to the Prime Number family.” I have over 600 publications, spanning a decade, and I will step right up to the plate and say that Nieman’s acute discernment and gracious mannerism establish Prime Number’s place as a high-end poetry journal at the national and international level.

True, it wouldn't be wise of me to show up on Thanksgiving and ask to be part of the PN family; but her introductory elegance is appreciated!

Based in North Carolina, Prime Number is affiliated with Press 53, an independent publishing house. The Publisher is Kevin Morgan Watson, founder of Press 53. The Editor is Clifford Garstand. The Non-fiction Editor is Tracy Crow. All the staff have jaw-dropping bios, available on site. Seriously, this is a talented group of people and they are not fooling around. If you’re looking for a lax zine with low standards for acceptance, this is not the place. No slide-rule guestimations here.

I give untethered approval to Prime Number. If I could hoot in praise as many times as there are prime numbers, I would; but since Euclid proved they never end, ad astra, I am content to hoot until this owl sounds like a hoarse thrush.

Go to Prime Number, read the great material, tell the editors what you liked. You won’t feel like a square afterward, I guarantee you.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Poem: Denied

This poem about denial originally appeared in Vox Humana.

I hope it edifies and stings.




the haunted outliers of pain,
unheard and defaced,
have learned to speak a different way,
to prowl in slips
at the end of sentences,
and breaths in caesuras.

they have their own subtle creole,
much like a thieves’ cant,
sibilant in lisps,
so deep even the speaker
doesn’t hear.

they are the rages of children
who were stabbed or burned,
or pummeled or worse,
existing now as kinks
in the mental labyrinths
of torn adults.

they have bled
from the punch of treachery,
and could never fail to recognize it again;
and so they are damned.
a threat to the castle-grey faces
and the yield in their walls.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Fan Writes a Poem to Me

On the 1st day of the New Goddess Year, a fan dedicated a poem to my blog:

The One and Only Fan Poem

Many thanks!


Monday, October 31, 2011

Poem: Samhain Prayer

To see the latest version, please go to the October 31 2012 entry:


Here is my Samhain Prayer from last year, edited a bit.

Have a magical, meaningful night!



Samhain Prayer

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 27, 2011

Poem: Inside Metal

This poem originally appeared in Blast Furnace Review.

It's a criticism of car culture.




Inside Metal

it is hard not to hustle
the wheel over the continents
it has shaped. the land itself
wears a corset of scars.

a mountain isn’t so great anymore,
just another back to ride.
deserts that once schooled prophets
gleam like casino jaunts.

inside metal, speed is a game.
you cruise on the burning blood
of jungles and tundras.
a large herd of muskox.
the sea.

you fidget
with dials and buttons
like a fetus in a robot’s womb.
under savage pistons,
the machine can feel you kick.

inside metal,
you never want to sweat again,
or canter a horse.
you can’t imagine
sitting on a ziggurat,
cross-legged under Draco.

your life waits before you,
laid out on crushed stone.
in a long dark tunnel
unheard victims curse obscene
in reflective glares.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Our Moment of Circuitry

A sense of appreciation for hundreds of millions of years of nature, and its recent demise, is imperative for us; otherwise, our trajectory into the future will be reckless in the extreme.

There was no such thing as a television less than a hundred years ago. Computers, which are now like proteins in the great beast of society, have even less tenure. Think about how electricity, in a slice a geological second, transformed the nightside of our planet into a pimple-patch of lights. Think about watching the peace of Orion, and then all at once an orbital pest of satellite cuts across his waist.

Before our Moment, evolution produced mighty trees of variegated creatures, many with skills that are unbelievable. To name a few: the flame of fireflies; the camouflage of chameleons; the marksmanship of bats; the grandiosity of the brontosaur. The exquisite butterfly wing culminates three stages of metamorphosis. With many insects, the larva, the nymph, and the mature, span an elemental range: from stream to soil to sky.

The mathematics and majesties of nature are patient and reliable. Their vast scale effloresces with creation. The elegant simplicity of the physical formulas that cradle these miracles cannot limit or define them. We are surrounded by teeming beauty, and so we forget to marvel. We not only forget, we destroy. In our headlong ache to achieve more power, more thrill, more success, we transform the world into our possession, relying on the bully-might of our technologies. We arrest evolution and substitute our own genetic tampering. We slaughter untold species to extinction, modify others to serve us instead of run free. We amass power enough to annihilate the continents in a hell rain of tens of thousands of explosions. Our war-lust means that every day we risk a "nuclear winter," which would ban sunlight from touching the ground.

No green would grow for a dozen years. The soil would soak with lethal and almost immortal radiation. It is impossible not to wonder if life itself could persist.

Computers are essential to our Beast. I described them above as a protein in the biochemistry of the collective; and in that role they act as catalyst, accelerating our gluttony for data. The time will soon come when we--already married to computers, which are smaller and smaller--will wear them intimately, closer even than our current relationship, tete-a-tete, with cell phones.

What are we becoming and why?

We need to remember that our time, this Moment of Circuitry, is a dust speck in the life of Gaea. Most of us rush from stress to stress, paycheck to paycheck, focused on a few simple yet overwhelming goals, ones that do not relent for spiritual or philosophical contemplation.

It’s up to you. You can be a chemical in the cybersystem of the Beast, as dutiful and unthinking as your computer, or you can be something much more.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Acceptance: Xenith


Xenith is a long-standing and absolutely excellent literary nexus. I am very proud that my poem “Constrictive” will be appearing.

I don’t have a lot of time, and even if I did, there is no way I could describe the fresh, socially incisive feel of this site. It started as a child of a pioneering digital impetus, something that previous generations couldn’t possibly understand. Quoting from the “About” page:

Xenith began life as an ASCII text zine that existed only in late 90s AOL inboxes. We began dual publishing issues on our website just before the new millennium in an attempt to broaden our audience. We released over forty issues in less than five years, earning a devoted following and press exposure, including an appearance in the New York Times Upfront Magazine.

I read this and thought, “This is it, an epoch-changing thin line in the history of civilization: brilliant minds merging the social arena of computer-driven technology with the august realm of literature.

It’s true. Xenith is the first generation of a new way. It is expressed through the verbal artistry of young minds (sometimes with old bodies) who capture something profound about the Generation Y experience. This profundity is consciousness-cracking. It is techno-shamanic and spiritually scientific.

What is the Gen Y experience? Here is where I tell you to read Xenith. All I can say is that the world is now, at least in half-real metaphor, an internet connectedness, Something it never was before, going back billions of years. At the same time, globalization and earth-shaking robo-drone-machinery transform our animal minds, everything from views on spirits to corporations to sex.

Xenith has its many-fingered Hand of Shiva on the pulse of all this. It is prophetic and yet somehow humble and friendly. It is dangerous while making you feel we must all face the danger as part of being human in these tumultuous times. Peril, on a planet where someone in Thailand talks intimately with someone in Canada, via the ether, breeds camaraderie.

The Publisher and Founder is Kelly Joi Phelan. The Managing Editor is Patrick Nathan. My communications with him were brief, and yet he comes across as very human, very real. What does that mean? It is, first and foremost, a serious compliment. No fakeness, no hubris. Just heartfelt interaction. A feeling that I was part of an authentic moment.

Sadly, this is rare.

I recommend this journal without mitigation. After reading its superb fiction or poetry, drop Editor Nathan an email about what you liked. Editors love to get encouraging feedback--and Patrick Nathan especially deserves it.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Poem: Enlightenment

A different version of this poem recently appeared at Blue Lake Review (See my entry for Oct 4).

Happy Reading. I am off to Occupy Wall Street!




nothing but flimsy
pretense holds doubt
over a complicated pit.

when the tissue snaps
it’s like a red ocean
chewing on a drop of water.

your scream opens
down a long revelation:
your eyes have been wrapped

in cellophane.
you sold them to a list
of approved ruled.

the toys you counted as trophies
rise up like nails,
out of a coffin’s clench.

your reward for resurrection
is weakness, and a hundred angels
on a leaf.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Poem: Suffering

An alternate version of this poem recently appeared in Blue Lake Review (see my post on October 4). I don't know which version is better. This is a more recent formulation. If you have time to read both versions and have an opinion, I would be very interested to know.

Best to all readers.




the wolf is under the bed.
or at work.
or in a box of cheerios.

you’ve been killed by it before.
every place you hide
you’ve been found before.

there wasn’t really a time
without this.
that past is fake.

the hunt expands
to encompass everything,
circles the cosmos.

you stare into oceans
of dark matter,

like running inside a stone,
faster than
the escape of light,

as you sink.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Acceptance: Rose & Thorn Journal

Rose & Thorn

There have been rare yet special times in my life when I wished to write with great eloquence, urgent to convey the full intensity of my pith. This is one of those times. I know from experience I will fail to encapsulate my gratitude, let alone succeed in masterful prose that might capture some bit of its inner fire. As always, all I can do is fret, trying not to damage my lower lip, when I am forced to confront my limitations.

Poetry has been my vehicle of soulful purpose from over a decade now, with no signs of abating; and Rose & Thorn has been essential to that journey. They accepted my work more than once when, despite best and painstaking efforts, my good poems were like a pittance of gems hidden in tonnages of coal.

Miraculously, the Poetry Editors at R&T ferreted them out. They were personable and spoke to me outside formal templates. My first acceptance with them was in 2006. The poetry chief at the time was Cesar Garza, who was friendly and generous in sharing. He arranged for me to write three guest blogs and also posted a podcast of one of the best poems I ever wrote: “Owl.”

The staff today is every bit as competent and patient with my submissions (which are hopefully less flawed than in the past). It has been a true pleasure to correspond with Cynthia Toups, Senior Poetry Editor. It is under her leadership that R&T transitioned a few years ago from the old website to the new one, which included a complete change in tone and aesthetic while preserving the excellence and mission of the journal. Judging by the quality of the quarterly issues, her diligence, fortitude, acumen and organization skill are astounding. No doubt a huge amount of talent and effort are prerequisite to make the brilliance that is R&T coalesce.

Toups must also possess fine networking skills because she works with three other poetry editors. One of them is Wil Hough, one of the founders of R&T, which qualifies him as a luminary by itself; and yet his presence in the literary world is legendary for other reasons, too. I am going to share his bio from the website:

Wil Hough, one of the founding editors at Rose & Thorn, first spent a decade as NOVLPapa in the old AOL Amazing Instant Writers Group. While earning his living as a faux finishing artist specializing in Impressionist and Post Expressionists wall art, he best expresses his contrarian outlook through poetry, essays, and short stories.

I’ve submitted to thousands of journals and yet Hough surprised me by doing something that has never happened before: while my work was being considered at R&T, he contacted me to say that my poem “In the Philosopher’s Condo” resonated deeply with him on a personal level; and he also told me why in specific terms. I thought this amazing, since it is rare for anyone to express that my poetry affected them deeply, much less to say why. Furthermore, this occurred during an evaluation process, a delightful deviation from protocols.

My opinion, bolstered by Hough’s note, is that we all ought to break out of the box more often. By doing so, Hough left me with a permanent memory and a story to tell about my poem. He made the poem more alive for me, gave it a Lazarus quality.

(As an aside, I am curious how Hough’s “contrarian outlook” adds to the dynamic of the Poetry Staff, and how it affects the chemistry of the team. I don’t mean to imply that it makes things more difficult. As I have learned from studying psychology, it is good to have many perspectives, and for each individual to speak their mind, to avoid the insidious conformity of Group Think).

There are two other poetry editors at R&T whom I have never had the privilege of communicating with directly. Yu-Han Chao has a Masters in fiction from Penn State and teaches at Merced College. Among her other accomplishments, she has published a book of poetry, We Grow Old, with Blackwaters Press. On amazon, it is described this way by Joe Farley:

Yu-Han Chao writes with delicacy and power. Her poems speak on many levels about life, relationships and personal nightmares. Her work flows from a mix of traditional Chinese culture, contemporary Taiwan and post-modern America. The resulting poems contain beauty and often wisdom. Many are worth reading over and over again.

The following short excerpt from the book has changed the way I view clocks--has sunk through layers of reflection to nestle deep. The title of the piece is “Song Zhong,” which means “Give Clock”:

The Chinese do not give each other clocks as a gift, because to song zhong, give clock, means to see someone to their grave, to be present at their deathbed, to give last rites.

The next Poetry Editor is Marilyn Shapley, self-described as a “life-long lover of poetry.” In her essay “Why Read Poetry,” she contrasts novels with poems. Of the former, she writes:

These books are places to lose your life, page by page; like sleep, a way to waste time, to follow another’s words down a lane of forgetting. Afterward, they sit on shelves or lay in dusty corners, are stuffed into rotting cardboard boxes and congregate in attics, waiting to grab my attention once again.

Shapley's Essay

The latter, on the other hand, transcend words to challenge and instruct many facets of her psyche:

How could they know that their words cease to be words at all to me but become, instead, an artist’s brush (or more nearly the paint itself ), bold strokes and small nuances that I am sure to miss on first reading. I sit with them, study them as I would a work of art in a gallery, straining to discover the artist’s essence on the canvas or catch the one detail of great importance to him. Sometimes it is a fleeting beauty that cannot be described regardless of the medium used — paint, glass, ink or paper — whatever it is, is just there, a moment of discovery tucked away in a remote place, preserved for the discriminating viewer or, in my case, fearful reader.

As you can see, the Poetry Staff at R&T is eclectic and iconoclastic, sagacious and meticulous. It’s an amazing team, a complex yet effective synergy. I want to thank them most fully for taking my poems, “In the Philosopher’s Condo” and “Cat Among Curios.” Look for the them in the Fall issue, due out October 15!

I didn’t get to mention (tempus fugit!) the interviews, reviews, podcasts and essays that appear in R&T. This is indeed a fantastic venue. As mentioned, without their support, I might have given up. Today, I am a little less worried about recognition. I know I will continue to pile up rejections, and that greatness will most probably elude me. I want to be the best writer I can; to work at it continuously because it feels right; and to express my ethos, passion, worldview--and also that mandalic phantasmagoria which courses my veins, daring to be visionary.

In all these things too, R&T has helped me.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Release: Wilderness House Lit Review # 6/3

Five of my poems just went up at Wilderness House Literary Review. It’s dark jaded stuff. I love this journal. If I were Dorian Gray, this journal would be the portrait I keep hidden.

The first poem, “Closet” is about suicide and is very close to my personal life:

Closet et. al.

I can turn my neck all the way around, because I’m an owl.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Acceptance: Blue Lake Review

Two of my poems were recently accepted and just appeared at Blue Lake Review:

Blue Lake Go!!

This great honor is extra special because the Poetry Editor, Diana May-Waldman, is a champion of women’s rights and the affirmation of women’s voices. It is clear from her writing that she understands the sad truth: oppression is a powerful and very damaging force in our own society, and also, of course, across the world.

Yes, some things have changed for the better. Women can now vote in many countries, a privilege that culminates centuries of struggle and protest; however, it took civilization 6000 years to get to this fragile perch of universal suffrage.

May-Waldman’s recent book of poems is titled A Woman’s Song:

A Woman's Song

It courageously challenges patriarchy, daring to study and criticize the traditional gender roles, as in the following excerpt. The poem is titled “Penis” and starts off with “I want a penis” and later gets here:

I want my penis to feel the tears of women
and understand the animal cruelty of its nature.
I want my penis to be deaf, never listening
to the voices that define what it means to be a man.

These are courageous words that disrupt the cultural programming which insidiously affects deep levels of our being. If this poem is uncomfortable, perhaps it is because it tells us we are biased about what women and men can and should say and do.

I am very grateful that my poems “Enlightenment” and “Suffering” appear in the latest issue of Blue Lake Review. And I want to thank the talented Diana May-Waldman not only for her diligence as an editor and poet, but also for her virtuous stand for equality, fairness and healthier relationships.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

My Poem, Read by Nic Sebastian, at Whale Sound

The day has finally arrived for my poem, "The Gods Reflect On Creation" to appear at Whale Sound:

Owl Who Laughs at the Gods

This is the best reading of my poetry I have every heard. Nic Sebastian is a genius!

My predication is that she will become very famous in the poetry world. Not only for her voice and editing, but for the quality of her own poetry as well. For example, these poems at Escape Into Life:

Sample of Sebastian's Poetry

More of my thoughts about Whale Sound:

Review of WS

Thanks for reading,


Friday, September 30, 2011

Two Monks Burn Themselves, No One Cares

A great shriek of agony, loosed in the name of justice, has been heard around the world; but only with the effect of a drop of water hitting a sink. I’m talking about two Tibetan monks who set themselves on fire to protest what is basically the destruction of their entire religion.

You see, China seized Tibet, proclaimed ownership, and attacked Tibetan Buddhism, a potential source of trouble. Traditionally, the Tibetan monks chose their own leader, their Dali Lama, through an exquisite ritual honoring their belief that the Dali Lama reincarnates over and over.

No, said China, we are picking your next divine head. And they have.

What we have here is the blatant rape of freedom of religion, backed by extremely violent oppression. Two monks made the most excruciating and heartfelt statement they could. It made the newspapers, at least the Washington Post:

A Great Shriek of Agony

The current Dali Lama is a Nobel Peace Prize winner, famous throughout the world. He faces a nightmare: the destruction of a spirituality going back to 650 AD. If Tibetan Buddhism is stolen and disfigured by China, it will happen under his tenure.

Quoting the article:

On Saturday, the 76-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate said that if he is to be reincarnated he will leave clear written instructions about the process. He said in a statement that when he is “about 90” he will consult Buddhist scholars to evaluate whether the institution of the Dali Lama should continue at all.

The United States has issued a tepid statement that dares not challenge Chinese Communist expansionism. Supposedly the champion of freedom, the tenets of which are emblazoned in the Bill of Rights, the USA is far more interested in money than decency. If monks burn themselves to defend the cause of freedom of religion, it means nothing weighed against economic factors.

For a long time, the people of the United States have been buying goods made in China because it saves them cash. In other words, the people of the United States could care less about supporting freedom of religion, if it doesn’t affect them directly.

Due to ignorant and selfish penny-pinching, the US citizen has made China stronger and stronger, until now it is inevitable that Chinese policy will soon dominate the Earth. The good people of the USA have prostituted their own Constitution to save a buck.

The leadership of the US does nothing. The people do nothing.

Baah Baah Baah.

Didn't the same thing happen in Europe, denial and greed, while Hitler rose to power?

Until and unless humanity puts virtue above money, it will continue to suffer due to its ethical immaturity, its failure to rear its collective head out of the muck of myopia, its pathetic inability to take the obvious enlightened path.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Shit Creek Craziness

It's hard to be upset with Shit Creek Review when they send you a rejection letter like this--even if you won't be appearing in their ultra-cool, very special End of Days issue.

You've gotta love 'em or hate 'em.



[rejection letter from SCR for their End of Days issue]

Dear [Owl Who Laughs],

Unfortunately you will miss out on the End of the World. The Four Editors of the Apocalypse, in their anonymous selection process, failed to choose your work for the coming End of Days Issue of Shit Creek Review. I apologise for their silly ineptitude, but seek to console you with the thought that at least you will endure on in this interesting World of Sin after the Elect have all buggered off to The Rapture. Carpe diem, and thanks for submitting!


Paulus Stevensis

Shit Creek End of Days Scribe


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Acceptance: Whale Sound

If you are an active poet or just love listening to poetry, you are in for a truly consummate delight if you have not yet discovered Whale Sound:

Whale Sound

I found Whale Sound because some friends of mine (from Rooster Moans workshops) had their co-written poem read by Nic Sebastian. You see, Whale Sound is about listening to poems, and there is almost no one in the world I would rather listen to than Nic Sebastian.

Why? Follow this link to hear the darkly erotic "Closer," co-written by my friends Lissa Kiernan and Susan Yount (be sure to click on the PLAY arrow):

"Closer" read by Nic Sebastian

All poems on Whale Sound were originally published elsewhere. Sebastian is emphasizing sound: the sonorous experience, the siren call of eloquent timbre, cadence, flow, caesura and elision.

And no one does it with such inimitable virtuosity.

You can also see the written text of "Closer," or other poems on Whale Sound, by clicking on a link; but my recommendation is simply to listen to the voice--the voice of verbal genius.

Another benefit of Whale Sound is that you get introduced to fine journals. Simply click on the link provided with every poem, and you are whisked off to some editor's idiosyncratic kingdom.

I have been using Whale Sound to help me find quality journals for my submissions. Not only do I get good leads, I also have an idea of what the editors like--because I've listened to Sebastian reading one of their pubs, exposing nuances of meaning I would have missed.

I absolutely excruciatingly recommend this site. It is already mucho popular and has accepted work many great active internet poets. I must be one of the last net zine junkies to find it.

I'm honored that my poem "The Gods Reflect On Creation" will be read by Sebastian some time in October. This is a challenging poem to read, and I look forward to seeing what she does with it.

Here's the poem, if you want to see what Whale Sound will be up against:

The Gods Reflect On Creation

Whale Sound only publishes poems of people with an "active" web presence in poetry. This basically means you edit a journal or maintain a pretty busy blog. For the specifics, visit the site.

Thanks for reading. Now go to Whale Sound and listen to a most ensorcelling muse.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Release: Boston Literary Magazine, Fall 2011

The latest issue of Boston Literary Magazine is here, including my poem “Truman,” inspired by the movie, The Truman Show. The last stanza of this poem took months to shape into its final form:

whatever was going on
moved in my circles and the center
was my grope. i didn’t
learn the lines or know
the writer or see which
why was who on stage.

To read the rest, go here, and scroll WAY down:

Fall 2011 BLM

To read my review of BLM and its very talented and accomplished editor, Robin Stratton, go here:

Owl Visits Boston Lit

Thanks for visiting!


Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Poem Up at Unison Active

My poem "City Mirrors," a scathing commentary on urban materialism, just went up at the blog Unison-active, which:

is written, collated and edited by a range of UNISON activists who are committed to the union's objectives. They come from differing branches, backgrounds and opinions, sharing a commitment to trade unionism, collectivism, international solidarity - supporting a trade union that is committed to a fundamental change in society and that puts the interests and values of working people at its heart, working through the democratic process of society.

I'm honored that they chose to include my poem, which you can find on their site here:

Glossy Walls Mirror Ugly Souls

The poem "City Mirrors" originally appeared in The Recusant, a UK journal, which has had over half a million hits. Here is the entry page:

The Recusant

Viva la UNISON and viva la Recusant!!!


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Release: Wild Violet Volume X Issue 1 (Passion)

Alyce Wilson has released a long-anticipated issue of Wild Violet, that mighty and memorable literary zine. It's the tenth anniversary issue, a huge triple dose of writers in what could be the most powerful presentation ever. I am honored that my poem “A Moment” is included in this special array. The theme is nothing less than passion itself.

In testament to the editor’s diligence and aesthetic sense, all poems are accompanied by visual art!

As I say in my review of Wild Violet:

Owl On a Violet

Wilson recently, about a year and a half ago, gave birth to her first child, a most joyous and yet also time-intensive watershed in the journey of her life. Indeed, her son’s nickname is “Kung fu Panda.” Rather than give up Wild Violet, she somehow juggled it into her busy schedule. The result is a brilliant culmination of ten years of excellence.

Editors like Wilson are the soul of poetry. They are cynosures who draw us needy and sometimes talented bards together, where our voices sing out in a group, despite the vast distances between our physical locales. Very few people have the special virtues necessary to give a decade to editing a journal, a noble act that garners little or no money. It is great, giving people like Wilson whose empathic intellect leads the rest of us to see that stacks of gold are not everything--in some ways, they are nothing.

I suddenly remembered this quote from the Dead Poet’s Society:

We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.

Wilson has invited all contributors, past and present, to a grand jamboree:

In celebration of Wild Violet’s 10th anniversary, we are holding a special reading and celebration. The event will take place at 8 p.m. on Saturday, October 1, at Milkboy Coffee, 2 East Lancaster Ave. (U.S. Highway 30), Ardmore, Pennsylvania. There will be a $5 cover charge.

I unfortunately, living many States away, won’t be able to attend. There are art and poetry events planned, including a special 10th anniversary book, to which previous contributors can submit. Go here for more info:

10th Anniversary Delights

In the introduction to Volume X, Issue 1, Wilson writes that her completion of an editorial decathlon does not signal the end of Wild Violet. The show will go on! It is more than a show, of course, with wrenching and ecstatic offerings (Wild Violet was originally started as a conduit to deal with the agony of September 11, 2001)--and I hope this fine journal will give Wilson much edification and gratification for many years to come. She deserves it!


PS: To read the Tenth Anniversary Issue, including my poem “A Moment,” go here:

Wild Violet's 10th Ann Passion Issue

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Release: Blast Furnace, Volume 1, Issue 3

Blast Furnace, orchestrated by Rebecca Clever, has released its Summer issue, full of outstanding poets. Although gloom engulfs me these days, a serious joy emblazons my heart when I remember that my poem "Inside Metal," a naked commentary on the alienation of the Machine Era, is included in the issue. This is one of my best ever. Let me share my favorite stanza:

you fidget
with dials and buttons
like a fetus in a robot’s womb.
under savage pistons,
the machine can feel you kick.

To read the rest, go to:

Blast Furnace Press

And scroll down to Sept. 10, where the Issue is located (the site is arranged in blog format).

To read my review of this highly impressive journal, go here:

Owl On the Furnace

A huge hoot of approval to Rebecca Clever on the quality and power of her latest offering.

Well done.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Poem: Pink Panther

This poem was written for my brother. It was originally published in The Iconoclast.

Take care, my awesome, beloved friend.



Pink Panther

little pink panther
of rubber and wire,
moldable toy
coiled around
a reading lamp,

my brother hung it there
eight years ago
when he moved into
my father’s spare room,
having left college
from depression.

my father never dusts
and my brother died
from a self-inflicted noose,
so the little pink panther
clung dirty and forgotten
until i noticed it,
unkinked its limbs,
musing about my brother’s fondness
for audacious felines

(Garfield, Pink Panther, The Cat In The Hat).

little pink panther
of rubber and wire,
i moved its arms and legs out,
pulled its tail straight—
the opposite of its long inward


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Greed, Corruption, Cruelty and Stupidity

The empire of the United States has arrived at a dismal moment when about half of the American people live in delusion and denial, refusing to accept that global warming is human-caused or that evolution is the origin of species. About 40% of the citizenry believes we live in the Biblical end time, where Christ and Satan will engage in the final battle, resulting in the damnation of the majority and salvation for a select faction of unflinching zealots.

These irrational and faith-bound beliefs are encouraged by power-seeking politicians, who proclaim that the Empire is not only the greatest country in the world but the one special moral exception among nations, meant to challenge evil everywhere. Anyone who thinks otherwise has fallen into the grip of demonic darkness. Given such an eschatological foundation, it is easy to stoke fear, anger and hatred in a populace that wants to live in denial of the truth: that greed, corruption, cruelty, and stupidity are battering rams of karma which have struck the United States off its perch of greatness in a matter of decades.

An example of greed and corruption is Wall Street destroying not only the US economy but also the world economy in 2008, due to unethical and profit-grubbing dirty tricks. Not only that, the bankers and financiers got away with it: both Presidents Bush and Obama bailed them out and failed to insure more policing of WS's outrageous gambling (“investment” is a euphemism for roulette gone wild)

Stupidity requires two factors, both of which are in play: (a) contumacious belief on faith (or wildly irrational grounds, which is basically the same thing) in destructive theories or religious dogmas, (b) vulnerability to mass manipulation by narcissistic politicians because of such contumacy.

Cruelty is everywhere in the Empire’s leviathan military. Some classic and numerous examples are the overthrow of democratically elected leaders by the CIA (see the book, Killing Hope). Other examples involve supporting vicious dictators and tyrants when it serves the purposes of corporations and their politician minions.

We supported Saddam Hussein, giving him plenty of weapons, training, and intelligence, even when he gassed his own citizens (see the book, Spider’s Web). Here ya go:

Wikileaks just reveals another case of US soldiers slaughtering an innocent family. These things are commonly hidden from the public through complicit and docile mass media, owned by billionaires. Here ya go:,0,435906.column

There are only two major political parties in the Empire, and one of them, the GOP, is the party of denial, dysfunction and delusion. The other party, the Democrats, is also corrupt but struggles feebly to bring moral progress, things like providing affordable healthcare for everyone (currently, around 50 million people do not have access to a doctor without going into extreme debt).

Behind the scenes, billionaires and massive corporations, like Big Oil, Big Insurance and Big Pharma, puppet Congress with vast infusions of cash.

I can complain and protest all I want, but I am largely irrelevant. Long ago, the masters of the Empire figured out that granting the right to free speech is no threat to plutocracy, not when a large segment of the population is gullible and malleable.

This concludes my latest rant. I am now going to go out into the woods, where I can enjoy the ancient miracles of simple things--like trees and birds--the sorts of divine gifts that consumerism and materialism have blinded most people to seeing.


Friday, September 2, 2011

As bad as Narcissus, though opposite, is the poet so awed by water she never moves.

Panthera Rayling, Yerba Santa Clan


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Poem: Hobo

Here is one of the three poems that recently went up at Carcinogenic Poetry:

May it edify in some small way.




the struggle
has turned his urges
into railroad tracks.
a wanderlust that pokes
holes in his penniless coat.
he scrounges for copper
among roadside gabble,
mingles with nameless folk
hot with sin in torrential cold.

lustful ribs
trap them all within a single cage.
he gets dragged into the muck,
earning a few claps,
and then off on a binge
whiny with joy, wiggling
against a late asphalt
shapeshifting lover.

it turns out to be the wind,
only she--she who has been tying knots
through sobbing throats.
he is not happy with the sex
as they slur and blur into one,
surrendering as addicts do.
when she finally goes, he lies down,
irrelevant in numbness,
except for dried grass
which crackles against his nape.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Acceptance: Carcinogenic Poetry

Three of my poems ("Hobo," "Big Collapse," and "Prophecy") just went up at this incredible blog-style journal. They are currently the featured works.

(However, if you are reading this in retrospect, scroll down to August 26)

If all else fails, here is a direct link:

Owl in Carcinogenic Poetry

Michael Aaron Casares is the editor, and under his leadership the website has amassed a large and steadily increasing group of followers. If you're wondering about the name of the journal, the site's motto is helpful: "The truth is to lies like cancer."

Casares' own poetry is most beautiful and eloquently wrought. Scroll down to August 20 to see two of his evocative pieces.

It is a great honor to be published, once more, by the discerning and empathic Mr. Casares. I wholeheartedly recommend Carcinogenic Poetry as an oasis in our toil-ridden world.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Poem: Pharmaceutical

This poem originally appeared in Offcourse, run by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg, and is one of my favorite creations.





granular mixture,
once root, bud and agave teat,

now synthesized, brainwashed
and hoodwinked

into a clean cousin
of LSD, capsule
that settles the suicidal,

alka seltzer for the head,

bathing neurons in fizz
till they’re too numb to think.

such white pure beach sand,
dissolving in the boudoirs
of the intimate mind—

like Jamaica ingested,
complete with Mai Thai,

and a hammock so limp
and spineless you hardly know

the fabric is you.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Acceptance: Boston Literary Magazine

It’s a tremendous honor to me that Robin Stratton, editor of Boston Literary Magazine, has decided to take my poem “Truman” for the fall issue. BLM is an extremely fine venue, which alone makes this acceptance wonderful; but what truly adds to my joy is that Stratton is a marvelous, special person.

First of all, Blue Mustang Press recently published her first novel, On Air. It already has splendid (5-star) reviews on Amazon. I purchased a copy and look forward to the read. I have know Stratton for years as a distant acquaintance (she published me a few years ago), and I can’t think of anyone more deserving of a book contract. She works ferociously and also (here’s the kicker) spends a lot of time helping and advising other writers. Her kindness is outrageous. I don’t know anyone as giving as her in the literary world.

She runs BLM as Editor-in-Chief (with the assistance of Managing Editor Lucy Spinetti), and what a job she does! For instance, when I submitted a few years ago, she responded within 5 minutes. It was a witty, memorable and slightly ribald acceptance note--nothing boilerplate, but instead original and personalized. This was my fastest acceptance from a professional journal, not one of those pay-us-$20 kind of scams that hit you with an auto response. I will never forget this fantastical and a little eccentric introduction to Robin Stratton. Her vivacity, intelligence and discernment were apparent right away and took me by sudden storm.

On top of all I’ve said above, she has a good heart. She is always working to help others, to spend time with her family, and somehow, miraculously, to nurture her own projects. She is much more talented than the vast majority of folks; and yet she is humble and generous to all. If there is an angel in disguise on this planet, it must be Stratton. No one is more worthy of having their novel published and I am thrilled vicariously for this great moment in her life.

Check out BLM! And then go to Robin Stratton’s website to learn more about this scintillating person, one of those magical outliers who makes the rest of us raise our heads up out of our own selfishness and stare at a nascent star.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Link To My Jane Crown Radio Interview!

(Click on Crittenden)

My interview with Jane Crown is up and ready for download! What a great honor to be on her show. She has interviewed many luminaries. As she says on her website: “interviews with some of America's best and brightest poets, from the renowned to the underground.”

Who knows why I was included? Maybe because I obsess on details. A few good poems have evolved from the primeval cauldron of my heart. If only it didn’t take many months, or years, to find some bit of glow.

Jane Crown was a marvelous host, who asked soul-touching questions that trembled my cordial facade. I mumbled and said “Um” countless times, but her quick-witted verve and fleet skill led me along. In less than an hour, she unpacked and polished my poorly presented worldview. I laughed awkwardly and rambled. I spewed flawed bits of wisdom wrapped in clumsy phrases, which lurched about like drunken sparrows.

If you listen to the interview, you will notice two things: how poorly I read my poems and how thrilled I am to gab. I consider myself an introvert, but I sure seem to love the spotlight. What can I say? It has been years since my last interview. I may never get another.

Maybe vanity is acceptable in moderation?

Ugh! I don’t know who I am. Being interviewed makes you ponder yourself in fresh ways. My personality seems to have sprouted new sides. Maybe art has fractured any hope I had of being a unitary person. Art is all. Creating at the poetic level is like injecting yourself into yourself. Even being 10% honest is a flirtation with the unstable.

Of course, who wants to live in a stable?

The real star, of course, is Jane Crown. She has interviewed hundreds of poets, a monumental cross-section of a sizeable pantheon. She knew me through her research, knew what to ask, everything from suicides to cyborgs.

Thank you, Jane. It was an absolutely unforgettable experience. You’ve elated a jaded philosopher-poet. You made me dance. I didn’t even waste time asking why.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

They are like cows and anxiously bored, while I am alive and free. But I am going to die soon and they will live on for many muted decades. There are worse fates than death.

Ozcar Crane, Outside Liberation


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Fan Mail for "Evil Queen"

I don't get fan mail very often, but when it happens, it's a very much appreciated boost. Someone (name unknown) contacted me recently to say they liked my poem "Evil Queen," which recently appeared in Red River Review.

I'm going to re-post the poem here. Thank you anonymous fan!



Evil Queen

ugly and unanswered,
she no longer sees herself
in her face.
each wrinkle a ligature
that strangled a sin.

some lines knots
caught up in how everything
came to this.
no kudos for outliving
the secrets in her bones,
or her critics who died
of disaster.

years have gone down
like poker cards, pretty faces
hostage to shovels or sex.
no one left at the table now
except Hades, who always
ups the ante and never fails
a bluff.

staring into his eyes,
blank as hell-fired chips,
she can feel their weight
and the little numbers
etched in granite.
this time she will lose,
even with diamonds
to play.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Interview: Jane Crown Poetry Radio

I'm being interviewed by Jane Crown at 5pm today for her radio show:

Being a hermit in the woods has pretty much destroyed my verbal and social skills, so it should be very interesting, though perhaps not in the way I would like.

I will post a link to the interview on this blog--or you can simply go to the above website.

My tongue is turning into an ossified pretzel already.



Thursday, August 4, 2011

An Epitaph For The Damned

The quote below, from an article announcing the creation of a huge shark sanctuary in the Pacific, somehow seems to capture the stupid cruelty of the human beast, and also how human society feeds off and fosters paranoia and gluttony, while mutilating the great natural magic of this Earth.

Here, then, is an astute epitaph for the damned:

While watching sharks stalk their prey to eerie soundtracks may make for heart- stopping television, the fact is that sharks are responsible for the death of only two to three people each year. Yet people kill nearly 73 million sharks annually, primarily for their fins to meet a demand for shark-fin soup in Asia. Nearly one-third of all shark species are threatened with extinction.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Acceptance: WHL Review

WHL Review, whose Poetry Editor is Irene Koronas, took three of my poems: "Stormy," "Flooded Gutter" and "Half Awake."

This journal has been a steady supporter of my work, and without them I might have crumbled. This is my only acceptance for a while, and it probably will be my only acceptance for quite a while longer--because I am just too tired to do any submissions.

I keep writing poems, draft after draft, polishing them up. But I have nothing left afterward. All my heart goes into the words and afterward, I'm spent. Totally spent

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Release: Red River Review August 2011 Issue

Go To Red River Review!!

Red River Review has been revivified by editor extraordinaire Michele Hartman. If you go to the website, you’ll find a quirky dichotomy. On the left side of the screen is a statement that says RRR began in 1999 and ended in 2007, during the noble and impressive tenure of Bob McCranie.

On the right side of the screen is an announcement for the August 2011 Issue and an announcement titled, “What’s New With Red River Review?” (What’s new is that they are currently receiving a lot of submissions from Canada).

Michele Hartman has taken the journal out of desuetude, scaling back up the pedestal of greatness with a trove of fantastic new poetry on her back. I am proud that my poem, “Evil Queen” is included in the August 2011 issue, and that my chilling piece, “TOD” is in the previous (May 2011) issue.

To read these poems and others, you must go to the main page and navigate from there, either to the current issue or the archives. For some reason, no matter what page you are on in RRR, the http pane always reads “” and nothing more. This makes it impossible for poets to provide links to their particular work; but it also insures that the reader gets a good look, or at least scan, of the magazine when ferreting out a specific gem.

I don’t know of any other magazine that has been revivified in this way--by an editor different than the one who started it. I have seen editorship change hands midstream, but never after a hiatus of years.

Brava to Hartman!! She is a champion of recrudescence! When you submit to this fine literary venue, be sure to thank her for keeping the waters flowing.

The current issue of RRR contains a lot of soul-biting work. Ann Howells, one of the editors of Ilya’s Honey, has some great poems included. Another excellent poet represented is Jennifer Hollie Bowles, who runs The Medulla Review (albeit Medulla Publishing, a separate venture of hers, seems to be fading out).

Enjoy your visit to Red River Review. Say hi for me!


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

80 Ideologues Hold the World Hostage

It should be obvious to anyone how dysfunctional and twisted the Empire has become: about 80 Representatives in one branch of the government are holding the economic health of the entire world hostage. These Representatives are all members of the Republican Party, but more accurately they belong to an ultra-reactionary right wing subgroup called the Tea Party. They stubbornly and ignorantly cling to their ideology of slashing and burning government, which effectively transfers authority to the hands of billionaires and multinational corporations.

There was no crisis. Not until the Republicans decided to create one over the issue of raising the debt ceiling. The government effectively uses credit cards to make purchases, and has the power to raise its own credit limit. The purchases were made. The time came to raise the credit limit. The Republicans took this opportunity to extort everyone else, though they are the minority party. They demanded vast cuts to programs that help the sick, aged, and poor and utterly refused to cut one penny from the tax returns of the rich.

These rich are people like Rupert Murdoch, who owns Fox News, which spews distorted propaganda full of hate. Mammon-serving bullhorns like Fox have poisoned the minds of a large slice of the population. Murdoch and his minions are in trouble in England, where they have spied on the private communications of a family mourning the loss of their daughter to a horrible and lewd crime. All to make a buck.

How did the intransigent Tea Party ideologues get into power? When the economy crashed in 2008, the people voted wildly and naively for candidates outside the norm who promised vast change. Enough votes were cast to get 80 dangerous politicians into the freshman class of the House of Representatives. When the Republicans decided to extort the government, and the world, by creating a standoff over the debt ceiling, these 80 dug in their heels and refused to cooperate with even their own GOP members, let alone the Democrats.

Why did the economy crash in 2008, creating the Tea Party? It was Wall Street, the financial center of the Empire. It became so corrupt that it encouraged the practice of granting bad mortgages wrapped in complex jargon. It made bets called derivatives on the collective fate of those mortgages. The money came rolling in to the banker’s coffers, but the train of greed, as always happens, slipped all control. There was a sick deceit at the core: the bundled mortgages were effectively junk but they were being rated as very high quality investments by the corrupt Wall Street appraisers (who were in collusion with the bankers).

Bad times breeds dangerous and fanatic politicians. And so, as the world watches, several dozen Tea Party fire-eaters are leading billions of human beings into misery and grim peril.

We are caught in the jaws of Greed and Stupidity, one and all.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Release: Rufous City Review, Issue 4

Rufous City Review has released its Issue 4, which includes “Possession,” an elegiac and lonesome poem by Owl Who Laughs. I was very lucky to get into this journal. The Editor, Jessica Bixel, gave me a chance at a rewrite but my soul locked up and wouldn’t produce. At the last moment, after a sweat lodge, I had a breakthrough.

Editor Bixel is a great writer herself, as you can see from her prefaces and, perhaps more importantly, her reviews. They are exquisitely crafted.

Here is an excerpt from her words about Issue 4:

[These] songs are old and they seem to know their own burdens. Here memory is like thick perfume, cloying—a scented cover for panic. Things are disappearing, between these pages, and uncertainty is rife. It is easy to get lost, cloaked in dust, shadows of unreliable light between freight trains.

I have looked over the issue and the poems, indeed, haunt as much as they tantalize. Are we 21st century citizens already walking in a world that was?

Regarding Rufous City, if you spend some time in its ethereal yet gritty halls, you will find it an addictive yet satisfying place. Be careful!


Monday, July 18, 2011

Poem: A Hummingbird

This originally appeared in Off the Coast, an international journal based in Maine.




A Hummingbird

thought me a mirror,
then realized, two feet away,
i was too solid,
more brick than free.

it sported emeralds,
flawless of gorget;
yet i an ogre
of clay and iron.

it hovered,
birthing its wings
through many incarnations,
as i managed once
to blink,

grasping, too slow,
that it had offered me
a vanishing act of doors—
and i would have found heaven
had i entered

just one.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Me and 42opus, aka My Worst Nightmare

On December 9 2009, I submitted five poems to 42opus using their online form. This zine has a great reputation and deservedly so. They have done marvelous work over many years. I was pleased to see my submission making progress toward acceptance. There are three stages in the process, all of which you can track by returning to the submission center:

Editor 1: makes a recommendation

Editor 2: makes a recommendation

Final Recommendation: publish or not

On April 7 2010, Editor 1 finally made a recommendation on my submission. Since I did not receive a rejection letter at this time, I assumed it was positive. (Note: the submission center does not tell you the nature of the recommendation, only the date on which a recommendation was made).

On August 4 2010, Editor 2 logged in, and made a recommendation. Still no rejection letter. I waited with bated breath for the wonderful moment, when my acceptance, or I guess rejection, would finally come and ease my building sense of anticipation.

As of today, Friday, July 15, 2011, no final recommendation has ever been entered. My submission remains in limbo, almost certainly doomed. However, I admire 42opus so much that I keep clinging on, desperately and pathetically (translation: I’m a selfish bastard who wants 42opus on my résumé ... )

I have directly emailed the chief editor, Brian Leary, twice about my submission. Both times, I received no responsive. Now I simply bite my nails and wonder.

The poetry editors, if they truly exist, are Caroline Klocksiem and Sarah Vap.

The sad fact is, 42opus has virtually shut down operation. They haven’t published a fresh bit of poetry in a very long time. The last poem they published was by John Donne on October 13, 2010. Yes, that John Donne, the dead famous one who could care less about whether he gets into 42opus.

Meanwhile, I neurotically and ridiculously continue to wonder about whether I’ll ever hear back from Editor Leary. The obvious thought is, “No, you won’t, they are experiencing difficulties which are probably far more important than your petty, whiny ego.”

It’s true, something very bad might have happened to one of the editors. I truly hope not. I hope it is just a mild case of frazzle, which is totally forgivable.

Whatever happens between me and 42opus, I hope this journal gets placed in the Poetry Journal Hall of Fame. Admittedly, the Poetry Journal Hall of Fame doesn’t exist yet, but then neither does my acceptance from 42opus.

Brian Leary, wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope you are all right, and--


A despondent Owl

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Zombie Hedonism


Every day I marvel that we walk in a landscape which could be destroyed by fire in an instant. Humanity has the power to annihilate the vast bulk of life with the current global arsenal of tens of thousands of nuclear weapons. Who is to say they won’t be unleashed, en masse, in a great tide of fear?

It only takes one launch to spark a fearful counterstrike. And then another. And another.

Aaren Greystrom, Zombie Hedonism


Friday, July 8, 2011

Poem: Scissors Cut Newspaper

This poem originally appeared in Pemmican Press, and was written to criticize the policies of George W. Bush.




Scissors Cut Newspaper

stork beak
squawking in snips,
gabbing as shreds
form a nest below its

it deceives
with a peace sign,
two glinting fingers
that close with the grace
of long teeth—

extracting another organ
from the cadaver
of the newspaper,

dissecting politics
into nothingness,
stripping the economy
down to paper ribs,

laying a bite
across the smile
of the president,

as if the two deserved
each other’s kiss.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thank You to My "Followers"

I would like to thank the people who have taken a moment to become a ‘follower’ of my blog. You’re a great group of editors, poets, artists and simply intelligent people who tolerate the cantankerous. I encourage anyone reading this to click on the icons at the right. You’ll find souls better than mine, more insightful, more generous, more rich in thought.

I babble away in my own little world, hermetically absorbed. I suppose I am interesting, in a way, as a symbol of fixated angst -- but I do not give much time to the realms of others. That takes courage I don't possess. I am too selfish to take the time to possess it. Even responding to comments is often a chore. I am horribly neglectful in terms of tending to bridges.

Thank you for enduring my serious faults.

I don’t have a zillion followers, and I know that many of my followers have moved right along and don’t read my blog. But I am very proud that I attracted some notice from a select randomness of internet wanderers.



Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Homeless Story of J, Part 15

This is a work of fiction.



I was born into abuse. My parents have never admitted that they used their child to vent their brutal anger.  No, they are innocent and loving.  I suffered their halls of lies long, and became devoured by the gaslight theater. 

For years, I thought I deserved what it got.  Angry, bad child.

Finally I broke away, only to find that society was a macrocosm of the microcosm of  my childhood. Cruel leaders and manipulators, devoid of conscience, abusing others.  And yet flowery speeches arise from their podiums, to proclaim in fine oratory how wonderful they are, at the helm of this country so fine and fair.  

So, I learned that evil rose to the top.  I learned that narcissism and molestation call themselves gentle and kind. 

 To disagree with powerful is to get beat, especially if the powerful are evil.

I walk around homeless now, looking for one fine heart. I have the Lamp of Diogenes.  I found it in a gutter, next to a shattered whiskey bottle.  

That bottle might as well have been a human soul.