Saturday, January 29, 2011

At the Sassy Beak, I'm Poem of the Week!

Over at The Toucan, my piece titled “Endless Novel” is up as Poem of the Week:

OWL's moment in the tropical sun!

You just have to love Liz and Laura, the editrices of this jazzy-sassy zine. They are highly witty and darn-tootin’ funny, offering piquant monologues to accompany the wondrous wares of their contributors.

Said contributors are treated with great kindness, and sometimes become a key component of one of the legendary monologues--never in a bad way, of course ...(Well, maybe once a certain owlish fellow was put in his place for saying that Laura doesn’t exist--but that’s water, or should I say ruffled feathers, under the bridge).

If you’re looking for a fun yet talent-driven site for your poems, I strongly suggest this tropical haven. Be nice to Liz and Laura. They must work extremely hard to do such an extraordinary job.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Poem: Leo Of The Rose

This poem was originally published in poetrybay, way back in 2004.

It's still available (!) here, if you prefer:

OWL at poetrybay




Leo of the Rose

are roses lions?
they have manes,
they have claws,
they have eyes that dominate
a quivering life.

they taste blood
that spilled into the earth
and slowly worked its way up
into their drippy mouths.

“death comes back around,” they growl,
stalking in the wind. when someone
snips them and puts them in crystal,
they have caught their favorite prey.

bees are hors d'oeuvres.
storms a libation.
now come the human gazelles
with fancy lopes and gawking necks,
their throats plump with sound—
flighty words
that crumple into tears
much sweeter than rain.

every petal laps
the emotional succulence.
every thorn lunges
into a heart that cowers under thread.

and as it’s always been
the herd flees, leaving the victim
to be devoured by roses.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Acceptance: Pirene's Fountain

Pirene’s Fountain took four of my poems! This is a great honor because they are quite discerning in the most lyrical and lovely way. The last poet they took four poems from was J.P. Dancing Bear in their current issue. He’s a major voice--mythic, innovative, spiritual, precise--whom I greatly admire. His style, efficient yet evocative, is one I try to emulate.

Some of my favorite recent poems of J.P. Dancing Bear, in addition to those in Pirene’s Fountain, are here:

Dancing Bear in PF

Dancing Bear in Diode

Trivia sidebar: Long ago, I was published alongside J.P. Dancing Bear, in the now classic issue #3 of Arsenic Lobster, which was then edited by the inimitable Jen Hawkins. I don’t think I have ever been published in his proximity again. :(

In addition to hosting amazing writers, both new and accomplished, Pirene’s Fountain wins my highly coveted and rarely proffered Owl Trophy for Exceptional Friendliness. This trophy, which is unfortunately virtual and imaginary, is pure moonsilver, with an intricate filigree of hammered stars, gilded mice, and a few platinum boluses to boot.

Seriously, though, the people at PF are generous and warm. There’s a whole team brimming with zest. My last email from them was signed “Ami, Oli, Charles, Lark and Tony.” If you visit the guidelines, you’ll see that they go out of their way to be hospitable.

What a gift in this day and age.

As a bona fide misanthrope, I can only shake my head in abject awe at the grace of these wonderful editors. Being nice, or even polite, to neurotic bards is not easy: it requires extra work because you tend to get more inquiries, plus the occasional grouch who exists to dowse anyone who extends a ray of sun.

Rounding out this miniature panegyric, I feel I must mention the aesthetic exuberance of the site design. You feel like dancing it up as soon as your eyes hit the page. Currently a trio of lively instruments (saxophone, harp, and violin) adorn the foyer.

There is also a dash of melancholy, which could be said to embody the journal's motto: a short recap of the Greek myth of the naiad Pirene.

You WILL enjoy the poetry in this journal (no that's not a command, but it wouldn't be so bad if it was, would it?). I highly recommend immersing yourself in PF's waters of luscious eloquence.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Acceptance: Viral Cat

Viral Cat took three of my poems, yay!

I am goo-goo for this avant-garde journal. The San Francisco-based team combines writing, art, video, photography and anything else they want into a mesmerizing confluence.

This accords with their daring philosophy: “Sharing creative works across genres and mediums is integral to maximizing artists' creative potential.”

I strongly and utterly recommend checking out their most recent issue:

Read Viral Cat

It starts with a painting called “Out of Place” which is a blend of Dali, Sartre and Kahlo meeting in a doom-stung glade.

Following this are two outstandingly unique poems. One is a lyrical love poem with superb and surprising imagery. And the other is by Sergio Ortiz, who I think could become one of the great poets. I mean that sincerely. I am known to be histrionic and hyperbolic, but this kind of claim is rare even for me.

(I have seen Ortiz in other journals, so this is not a spontaneous decree of worship)

The poem by Ortiz is “To the Zookeeper on the Hudson” and it is just devastating. It crushes reality as we know it.

Every time I dabble in this latest issue from Viral Cat, I only become more appreciative and spangle-eyed.

Yes, I strongly recommend this feline zine. In fact I give it my highest recommendation: Five Hoots of Happiness!


PS: I don’t really have a rating scale, but if I did, Viral Cat would get the maximum number of Hoots, Stars, Talons, Mice or whatever else an owl would use for a rating symbol.

Poems accepted:

Thoughts After a Stroke
Moonless Woods

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My Chapbook Reviewed by Crafty Green Poet!

Juliet Wilson, one of the most energetic and intelligent word-dancers in the literary blogosphere, has just posted a short yet pithy review of my chapbook, Man Watches January, on her blog:

Crafty Green Poet

This brief review is a great delight to me, augmented by my complete admiration for Wilson's ethics, which are devoted to the beauty of nature in its varied manifestations, and protecting the Earth from the ravages of money-hungry expansion.

On her blog, she celebrates the art of the wild through all seasons, praising critters, ice crystals and leaves. She is a true druidess in a desperate time of rapid change.

In addition to her blog, she somehow finds the vim to run a superlative lit journal:

Bolts of Silk

If you have a poem that reached into you and bid you to write it, and which then revealed it is very much a part of your own special way of celebrating our greenblue globe, send it on to Bolts of Silk.

Juliet Wilson deserves such an extraordinary gift from your muse, and your poem will have found a hale perch in the sylvan groves of the internet.

Thank you, Druidess Wilson!


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Palin Can't Win On "Blood Libel"

There has been a lot of commentary on Sarah Palin’s “blood libel” remark, but I haven’t seen the following key point.

Either she was aware that the comment would offend a large segment of the population or she was ignorant of the fact. Either way, she has exhibited gross incompetence. It’s a no-win situation for Palin. End of story.

If she was aware, that’s damning evidence of cruelty. Compounding the evil, in this case, would be the timing, right after Gabby Giffords, who is Jewish, was shot. And let's not forget that Palin's prefab address was released so as to hit the news on the same day as the President's expression of mourning.

But also egregious would be the other possibility--ignorance--since leaders are supposed to be acutely aware of the public landscape and display talent at avoiding invidious gaffes.

No matter how much Palin and her team bluster about being maligned, it is clear from simple reasoning that she is in the wrong--no matter what. Either malice or grave ignorance was involved. And either way, Palin has revealed her inferior mettle.

Palin’s unfolding defense is that she acted in innocence. The term “blood libel,” she claims, is mainstream and has no anti-Semitic repercussions.

However, as noted above, this defense just isn’t good enough. If you’re going to be a leader, it is not sufficient that YOU think a phrase is harmless; you have to know the topology of the people’s thoughts, especially in very sensitive times.

So, Palin displayed a woeful ignorance. As a leader, she should have known what would happen when she defiantly described herself as a victim of blood libel.

There’s no way to squirm out of the feebleness.

As a philosophical exercise, here is Palin’s best, yet failing, attempt at defense:

She could claim that the people who are outraged are being irrational. There’s no way she could be expected to know they would be outraged, so she is totally innocent. You can’t be ignorant of something that no one could reasonably be expected to know. Other people have used the term “blood libel” without sparking a mass reaction.

But Palin was speaking to all of America via national announcement at a tender time, which requires the highest level of responsibility. Other users of the term were speaking to specialized audiences in non-crisis contexts that didn't involve the attempted assassination of a prominent Jew who was one of Palin's political "targets."

As we all know by now, Palin put Giffords in crosshairs on a map of who to eliminate from office. And of course, Palin's crowd-riling phrase, "Don't retreat, reload" is now infamous.

All this speaks to a sensitive national context that Palin appears to have completely ignored--because she was ignorant of its relevance.

Furthermore, the logical ties between the concept of blood libel and anti-Semitism are obvious in the historical linkage. The fraught history of the term would be easy to research and check out by asking Jews. The fact that Gabby Giffords was Jewsih compounds the delicacy of the situation.

A prudent leader would clearly have avoided the term because it might be controversial to some people.

Or, if Palin had done the research and made a couple of calls to Jewish organizations, she also could have avoided the term. But she didn’t do her homework, she assumed all would be fine, a major fail that speaks of callous and arrogant presumption.

Her best defense, then, that there was no way she could have known her remark would bring uproar, is absurd. In fact, there was an easy way to check on the public effect of using "blood libel" by making a few phone calls.

Maybe Palin was ignorant of the history of the word "blood libel" at the time she used it. If she was, that's poor leadership. If she wasn't, that's also poor leadership. A few precautionary calls to Jewish organizations would have resulted in avoiding all the trouble her statement caused.

Palin just can’t avoid the charge of ignorance, no matter how much she snakes to evade. Unless she wants to accept the charge of malice instead, but that's far worse than ignorance, which is bad enough.

Personally, though, I think there is evidence that she is narcissistic, a self-absorbed limelight junkie. A narcissist would maximize the sensationalism, as Palin seemed to do when she timed her remarks to coincide with Obama’s speech. A narcissist would do something shocking and disruptive, just for more day in the media glow.

At least subconsciously, a stage-loving star like Palin could be acting out in order to gain publicity. If this is so, the use of “blood libel” involved not just woeful ignorance, but underhanded malice.


Monday, January 17, 2011

I Won Medulla Publishing's Chapbook Competition!!!

I’ve been informed by Publisher Jennifer Hollie Bowles that my chapbook Rebellion has just won the Medulla Publishing chapbook competition! There was a monetary prize, 10% of the entry fees, and I also receive a $2 royalty on all sales, and excellent discounts if I want to buy extra copies. Yay!!!

Rebellion will be published in March, and I have already chosen the cover art, a powerful piece by my talented artist wife, Shanna Wheelock, titled US Totem.

I wish I had time an energy to gush about Medulla Publishing and Medulla Review, which are both brainchildren (pun intended) of Bowles. She runs a charismatic site that has already attracted many wonderful poets, some of the best on the net.

What decided me on entering the contest in the first place were four things: (a) Bowles’ talent as a poet (she has been published in many fine venues), (b) the creative charisma evident in the style of Medulla, (c), the growing popularity of her website and (d) her prodigious entrepreneurship.

In addition to the journal (Medulla Review) Bowles publishes chapbooks and novels and also runs various contests, such as the Oblongata. Additionally, she offers her services as a paid consultant. High energy and an eye for talent, this is a very impressive editor, and I am thrilled to be part of the advancement of her literary enterprise.

Check out what’s going on by following these links:

Medulla Review

Medulla Publishing (includes the announcement of the prize)

An extra big HOOT of happiness. Long live the Medulla!


Friday, January 14, 2011

The Movie 'Inside Job' Could Change Your Life!

As Americans on the right and left shake each other by the throats, I can think of no better medicine than for all of us to go watch the film Inside Job, which is still playing in theaters, and will surely be available other ways soon.

This is a professionally produced movie, narrated by none other than Matt Damon, which brilliantly and concisely shows the momentum of greed on Wall Street that led to the Great Recession. The utter audacity, duplicity, corruption and vile denial on display woudl be unimaginable, except it all unfolds before you, highlighted by incisive interviews, lucid explanations and careful research.

The movie makes it clear: the United States' main problem (along with its addiction to war) is the sick way in which greed has infected our monstrous banking institutions and also the government. Government employees of the highest status, once their term ends, graduate to lavish salaries on Wall Street; and often they come right back around into federal positions again (which means they pay no taxes on millions of dollars in stocks they sell off to avoid conflict of interest). It's a revolving door of vastly unethical proportions. A Byzantium of fiscal sin.

On thing that shocked me was how professors of economics at major universities have been fully co-opted. They are as corrupt and greedy as the brokers and bankers. Their egos are so huge that some of them are interviewed in the movie and make their sins obvious to all. Their blatant lies are ridiculous and despicable.

How astonishingly sad it is that our country is being hobbled by incredibly selfish anti-virtuous people who live recklessly and wallow in materialism.

If everyone in America saw Inside Job, I think we would stop our snarking, at least for a moment, and realize we are all being played while the fat cats at the top buy multiple mansions, yachts, and fleets of airplanes.

I urge the citizens of the US to focus on eliminating the presence of Greed. It is this weight pulling us down, the elephant in the room we don't see.

Stop hating each other and unite against the true enemy.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Poem: Summary

This poem originally appeared in Juice.

To read it at its original home, go here:

Owl Who Laughs in Juice

For some sad reason, Juice seems to have stopped publishing, a tremendous loss to the poetry world.

A silver lining: The archives are still available (use the above link).

One neat thing about Juice, among many, is that in addition to wonderful editors (Judy L. Brekke and Stephen S. Morse), it had a "contributing shaman," Gene Fowler.

I bet no other lit zine has ever had someone boast the official title of "contributing shaman."

Truly cool.

It's a little late, but I'd like to thank all the team at Juice for years of dedication to the world of poetry. I was very very honored to be in (what appears) the last issue, an annual for 2008.

Thanks for reading!




he flails in a nurturant sphere,
kicking every vein.
he escapes and waddles,
brays and cockadoodles,
until a sloppy word
slings off his tongue
into an aural bull’s-eye.

he mutates as he speaks,
sobbing then elated,
serene yet monstrous,
injected by pituitaries.
he brags and postures,
guns a chevy, fidgets against
the crux of a girl.

then life’s two parts suburb,
five parts chain.
stress and boredom take turns
grinding him against chores.
worries rush through
his pancreas
until he’s frazzled and grizzled,
a mellowed stump of cocky banana
whose peel once hummed.

he placates his grandchildren,
chortles when they say he’s great—-
when death and age are merely stains
on the stretching agenda
of his glory.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Gun Violence Rips At The Fabric Of The US Empire

In the wake of the bloody rampage in Tucson, I want to reiterate what I have said many times on this blog, namely, that the US is infected with extreme sickness in the form of militarism (hence two foolish and atrocious wars), weapon addiction, and also the verbal and physical violence that results from horrible demagogues who use gun-metaphors to "target" their opponents. These disgusting 'leaders' inflame hatred and bigotry by the flagrant and constant use of anger-inducing, pernicious rhetoric.

This country is intractably divided into two factions, one of which has a progressive agenda that leads in the direction of the rest of the civilized world; and yet the other is the utter lap dog of billionaire Greed, employing fascist appeals of the 'us vs. them' type, and doing whatever it takes to harness the ignorance and gullible frustration of a large segment of the populace.

The United States is a bellicose Empire that in the short time span of about sixty years has gone from supremacy to debauched and pitiable decline. We are the poster child of modern Imperial moral failure, and I scream inside when I consider what will happen if politicians like Sarah Palin, who put their opponents in gun sights targeted on maps, continue to gain power.

To whatever Forces of Goodness exist in the universe, all I can say is HELP the US!



Friday, January 7, 2011

When you dwell beyond the mindware of the human hive, everything changes.

Jill ExMatrix, Subconscious Subroutines

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Acceptance: The Toucan

The Toucan is a wonderful upstart journal whose editors possess vivacious cadence and scintillant energy. In a recent issue, they published many of the ‘great regulars,’ those luminary bards who wander about the internet with their stashes of hard-written poems, looking for worthy journals:

The Toucan Winter Issue

If several of these regulars (to name a few off the top of my head: Lyn Lyfshin, Howie Good, Christine Ong Muslim, Michael Lee Johnson ... there are many more) appear on a site, it’s like a signet of approval from the Demigods of Literature. And, yes, The Toucan has received this unofficial and implicit stamp.

Hooray for the bird with the big colorful nose! And also for this happy Owl, who was informed that one of his scribblings would become “Poem of the Week” at some time TBA; and that another of his scribblings would appear in the May issue of The Toucan.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Raving Dove is Back!

Raving Dove is Back


After a year’s hiatus Raving Dove, edited by Jo-Ann Moss, is once again taking submissions and challenging the status quo with some of the most honest and urgent work I have seen. To read these poems is to have layers of denial flee off your soul, dissolved by an effluence of poignant and radiant words.

Now is a great time to peruse Raving Dove, and polish your best pieces. By supporting this journal (and there are many ways, from time to kindness to cash) you are repudiating violence in all its sad and horrid forms, including war and atrocious desecrations of human rights.

If you’ve been searching for deep purpose in your craft, beset by a fierce hunger for the good, here is a wellspring of heartfelt voices and indefatigable hope. In our money-leashed world of grey chores and ashen stress, the freedom-loving wings of the Raving Dove gleam like bold candle flames. You’ll hear about the suffering of the downtrodden, yes, but not in isolation under the anchor of despair.

One of Raving Dove’s greatest gifts is its aura of camaraderie and fortitude.

Check out the glow.