Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Poem: Slave Ship

This poem was published early this month in Danse Macabre (see the announcement and link to other poems in early June post).

These are painful topics that we ignore at our peril. And yet we ignore.



Slave Ship

cold of shackle
gnaws warmth of ankle,

steel of ice
slays sun of chest.


in white palms
stare like gold irises

at whip marks
across black backs

while the civilized

stuff their sisters
in the hulls of obese


where feverish breath
frosts like scared


and the stolen
get locked in sprinkles
of blood,

fecal and bitten
by lice and rats.

in the marketplace
sweet benefits swarm,

sugar and rum.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Annoying Fly at Bolts of Silk

My poem "Annoying Fly" is currently featured at Bolts of Silk:

The Featured yet Annoying Fly

After a few days, it will be dislodged as the feature and then you can find it by scrolling down to its debut date: June 26.

Bolts of Silk is run by Juliet Wilson, a fantastic poet and legendary editor in Scotland, with over 20,000 hits on her blogger profile. In addition to her literary accomplishments, she is also a protector and votary of the environment.

I recommend visiting her blog, where you will see aesthetic and vivid pictures of the Scottish wilds, read great poetry, and learn about how to protect our planet:

Crafty Green Poet

Great leaders are hard to find, especially ones who are brilliant poets--but Juliet Wilson has succeeded on both fronts.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

His Moment In Court

Long ago, I had my first publication, and it wasn't even a poem, but rather a short story. The title was "His Moment In Court," and the setting was a Kafkaesque afterworld.

Now, amazingly, it is available online, courtesy of my alma mater, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Their literary magazine, The Phoenix, is digitally archiving past issues.

And so, if you wish, here is my one and only short fiction pub:

His Moment In Court

Carry Forth!


Monday, June 20, 2011

Greed is the Word

Greed is extremely dangerous.

This has been shown time and time again. The situation is this: a certain percentage of greedy people achieve significant power and employ that power to maximize their own wealth at the expense of everyone else. The more they succeed, the more they corrupt their society and the wider their sphere of corruption. They get more and more, everyone else gets less and less, and the pattern continues as long as the greedy can maintain it.

Characteristically, the greedy hide their ugliness by surrounding themselves with as much material beauty as possible--art, fashion, jewelry architecture, and so on. Don’t forget the philanthropy. It is the best smokescreen of all.

Ugly hearts love beautiful (read: expensive) trappings.

In American, 400 billionaires currently hoard an amount of wealth equal to the worth of the bottom 50% of citizens. We basically live in a covert monarchy, the barons and dukes being the mega-rich moguls. They buy politicians, and they buy the media (Fox News, owned by Rupert Murdoch, is a glaring example). It’s a classic syndrome of sin, going back all the way to Egypt and Sumer.

I guess I shouldn’t be appalled by the denial of the American people, given that they are following a time-honored path of ignorance, but, what the heck, call me a dreamer. It is absurd that about half of Americans think global warming is not human-caused. They believe Rush Limbaugh, a fire eater with a radio show, rather than the overwhelming consensus of scientists (see my last blog oped).

My statement about greed needs a corollary: Greed is dangerous because people are prone to hear what they want, which makes them fodder for social puppeteers.

Opposite greed is ethics. Ethical people don’t want more and more stuff. They tend to focus on things that are too precious to be given a price. They see the folks around them as more than pawns. Animals and nature are more than resources to exploit.

On first glance, you’d think it easy to distinguish greedy people from ethical people. Two problems here. First, greed is a master liar. Second, master liars can brainwash the public.

Also, mind-viruses like racism make things easier for Greed. If the population is racist, Greed plays to their racism. Another trait that makes the masses an easy mark is religious fanaticism.

Play the Jesus card, and the herds flock to you.

Greedy people never admit they are greedy and might not even know they are greedy. When someone does a lot of awful things, there is a tendency to hide that evil, to lock it away in the mind where it can’t be seen. The right hand doesn’t know that the left hand is doing.

Imagine what kind of sick discipline it takes to tell bald lies to everyone you meet while you backstab anyone that gets in your way. Do you want that kind of mind in your skull?

I guess no one wins when greed wins. Those who built their many mansions on the backs of the rest of us have to barricade their souls from their own eyes. It’s a world where the only true victors might be sociopaths, whose minds have gaping holes to begin with.

Moral of the story: If you live in a world where conscience is an impediment to happiness, follow the money trail. It will lead you to the root of your problem.

Friday, June 17, 2011

That which we do not bring into consciousness
appears in our lives as fate.

Carl Jung

Monday, June 13, 2011

Poem: Lust

This poem originally appeared in The Toucan, one of the funnest pun-happy magazines around. It has a type of wordplay that I have never done before or since, despite writing thousands and thousands of poems.




the pen nudges her hand
like a seed, trying to nestle
in her grip. she becomes its lover,
unretractable, and they write
clouds of ink, monsoons of letters,
until desires rage, form liquid lions
that snarl and moan,
rippling across each other,
hungry in streams.
the pen sucks on her fingers
as if they were roots
and she gets pulled down,
turning into muscles
of the loins that merge
on the tortured sheet.
the pen branches through her,
binds and spreads. she stretches
into the pulse of the lions,
feeling herself bloom in a
starburst while the beasts blur
into tawny fire. she wakes up later
to find the pen empty
and withered, the sheet
of paper rumpled, the loins

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sinking in Our Stupidity

Every once in a while I feel a need to reiterate how dumbly humans have populated and spread over the planet. To maintain our burgeoning billions, we rely on brute tactics, like massive aqueducts that drain ancient paisleys of lakes and rivers, and unruly technologies with massive side-effects and risky ramifications.

In the midst of our breeding, guzzling, and competing to grab rings of gold on carousels of envy, most of it pomp and illusion, we fail--somehow--to take notice of how radically the Earth has changed over the course of a terribly brief time-span. Take Los Angeles. It didn’t exist much at all a hundred years ago. Yesterday, I flew in on a jet plane, a kind of vehicle that didn’t exist sixty years ago, and saw lattices of electricity stretching to fill plains as far as the eye could see.

Grizzly bears, wolves, deer and condors recently roamed these sage-peppered plains. Oops, they're not sage-peppered anymore. Can you say, “crammed cubic domiciles” many millions of times very fast?

And yet the entire Republican party, perhaps 50% of the Empire, shrugs as the polar icecaps melt, seas rise and ecosystems mutate. “We didn’t cause it,” they proclaim in numb counterpoint to the plethora of evidence that has convinced the scientific community otherwise. Make no mistake, this isn’t a slim majority of scientists. Around 97% believe humans are the main factor in pushing global warming along:

With vigorous selfishness, we have incredibly and colossally altered the atmosphere of a 25,000-mile-circumference sphere. And yet most of us are ho-hum about it. We can’t be bothered with global issues, even if they are destroying the health of the globe itself.

We have business to attend to! Oh, and we have to raise our children so they can breed more people with more needs. And we might play video games on the side, maybe the ever-popular Angry Birds on our Ipod. When the Ipod rings, we dutifully stick it up next to our ear, rolling the dice with brain cancer.

Of course, a great chunk of the citizenry is in psychological denial or more concerned with making money by pandering to oil companies. These folks actively work to undermine progress in any way they can: smear campaigns, bribery, dissimulation.

As we infest and infect Gaea in disgusting and dangerous ways, not to mention the mutilation of great divine beauty, and the wanton torment inflicted on any animal nonhuman that gets in our way, or just looks fun to exploit, it becomes increasing obvious that we are as urge-driven as mice in a food bin.

We swill and battle for the goodies, keeping other mice at bay or shutting them out entirely so they starve. Meanwhile the food supplies dwindle, the bin fills with our shit, and yet we chow on and on, hating each other more and more.

When it all collapses, we have only our own pathetic and detestable selves to blame--but especially those who are in denial, do nothing, or who fight against reform with anger, propaganda and fear.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Acceptance: 2River View

2River View has truly earned the status of legendary. It was in the vanguard of the online journal movement, setting up electronic camp in 1996. Ever since then, it has been going strong and has expanded to include the 2River chapbook series, and Muddy Bank blog, which includes podcasts and literary commentary.

This pillar of internet excellence was constructed by Editor Richard Long, who continues to sculpt the dynamic architecture of this breathtaking site. Visuals and audio (optional) embellish the written fare. This is a poetry only site, which accepts only ten poets per issue out of an average of three hundred submissions.

Given such a teeming pool of hopefuls, plus Long’s credentials as an Associate Professor of English (St. Louis Community College--Meramec), and also his obvious aptitude, the result is almost forgone: brilliant and stunning works by a generous variety of contributors.

I’ve been accepted by over two hundred journals, but only a handful of them have as low an acceptance rate as 2River coupled with such worthy prestige. I almost hate to use the word “prestige” because it sounds a bit hoity-toity, whereas Editor Long assumes a low-key and humble mantle on the website. You have to go from the masthead to his faculty page to start to get details:

There you will find out that he is a marathon runner, a testament to perseverance that mirrors his dedication to 2River. You also find that he teaches, among other classes, Environmental Literature. This attests to a deep relationship with nature, which also manifests in a number of the poems he selects (however, I do not want to imply in any way that his choices for publication are narrowly focused).

You will also find two links to interviews conducted with Dr. Long, where finally you get some detailed information about him and also his journal. There are also links to his poems, well-crafted works that ferret out the sort of emotion so hard to locate during the daily grind, when we stressed chore-oriented citizens are barely able to wonder what we are missing, or why.

My favorite poem of Long’s is “Time in the Garden” but they are all precisely wrought and stingingly good.

Although my time is sadly short, I feel a great need to mention that Long is funding 2River all by himself. This despite the fact that students at SLCC-Meramec get a presence--not in the Issues of 2River--but rather on a special page in the journal devoted to multi-media projects. It is also clear that SLCC-Meramec benefits vicariously from the reputation Long has fostered over fifteen solo years.

In one of his interviews, Long relates that he once approached someone in administration for help with funding; and that person, some pooh-bah Dean, turned him down flat.

From my vantage, looking at the superb beauty of 2River, and the clear benefit to the college, pellucid as a stream, I think it reprehensible that Long pays for it all. This seems one of those all-too-frequent cases where the arts are being hideously undervalued by a spreadsheet-eyed bureaucrat whose mind has been dulled by money’s banal chafe and rub.

This callous treatment by the Dean only magnifies Long’s virtue. There are only a handful of editors in his exemplary category. There are thousands of online journals now, but 2River is among a special few run continuously for over a decade by one amazingly shining soul.

I want to offer a very special Thank You to Richard Long. His is the supernal kind of accomplishment for which one can never be thanked enough.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Acceptance: Danse Macabre

Owl is just back from a two night backpack and his ears are still swarming with echoes of ravenspeak -- but it was marvelous to return to the world of humanity and internet-dom and find that three poems were accepted by Danse Macabre, two of them as poems Du Jour -- which is to say that Danse Macabre, a truly unique, eerie, dark and labyrinthian journal has a section called Danse Macabre Du Jour, which has daily features -- and for June 2, 2011 my poems "Twister" and "Slave Ship" are up.

To find them at this time is not easy. Your best bet is to go to the home page:

entree a Danse Macabre

Scroll down. Then click on Danse Macabre du Jour, which is a Tarot Card of the Moon, at least at this time. Next scroll down to June 2, or find the archives for June 2011 way way way down below.

The general rule at DM is if you are lost scroll down and play with the various slider bars.

Also, a third poem of mine appears in issue xlvii, Summer Nights. The poem is "The Skull" and the issue is here (I think):

Summer Nights, xlvii Danse Macabre

Scroll down to "The Skull."

The absinthe-mad mind that runs this ghoulish carnival of brilliance is named Adam Henry Carriere -- I think. To see why I am confused, bittersweetly so, you have to visit the site. You'll never forget. You may not be able to find my poems, but you won't care. You'll just be amazed, aroused and spine-chilled.

Yeah, Edgar Allen Poe is there. And other classic godlings. But so are contemporary writers.

Crazily, Danse Macabre claims to be the first online lit zine for the State of Nevada.

You really have to visit this place. It is the maddest most addictive injection of words and daemonic imagery going. If Carriere is the Editor-Impressario(a former NPR broadcaster and lit meister and many other accolades) he is one of the few real geniuses I have encountered -- he's channeling some kind of vivacious/nefarious spirit. Extraordinary doesn't even begin ...

I'm in an altered state myself from two nights of shamanic activities alone in the wilderness, far away from any trail for that matter.

Farewell -- don't dance to long at Danse Macabre. It could be a sign of literary ergotism.