Monday, December 31, 2012

Do not expect to be hailed as a hero when you make your great discovery. More likely you will be a ratbag ... Do not doubt that in our enlightened age the really important advances are and will be rejected more often than acclaimed.

Sam Warren Carey, Theories of the Earth and Universe

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas Underbelly

The blood buoying the Empire's throne.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Poem: Not There

Recently published in Pyrokinection, along with another (see my recent post).

Fly Well In the Dark,



Not There

noon found her frozen
in the snakes
of her own veins.

she had married her own medusa,
the fatal event.

to look inside
and turn to shocked stone,
could any pain

squeeze worse?

to show in eyes
a wound so bright
that blood reliquished fire?

to go down, to seek
a twin in a steep pool,
unaware she is dead

until she kisses you.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Acceptance: lingerpost

I’m honored and excited that my poem “Desert Cliff Prayer” was recently accepted by this absorbing journal. Reading an issue is kind of like opening a gift. The contrib’s names are listed as links, and you don’t know what will pop up when you click one. It could be a fierce serenade, or a solemn ode, or an startlish photo, or a psychedelic work of art ...

This technique fits well with the eidos of the journal, which revolves around its mysterious name. According to Editor-in-Chief Kara Dorris, the work in lingerpost:

exists somewhere between crossroad fingerposts directing travelers and the idea that poetry, as Emily Dickinson said, lingers and “makes [the] whole body so cold no fire can ever warm [it].”

This quality site lives up to its mission, providing adroit variety and a stunning new journey with every recherché signpost. There is a dark edge, too, validating Dickinson’s appeal to the frigid frisson.

The poem that perhaps best sums this up in the latest issue (#4) is Charlene Langfur’s “The Garden Seems Far Away Today,” which speaks with earthy sensuosity and yet ends “I know we are always in need of saving.” Dickinson, often inspired by her garden, would approve.

Be sure to give this fantastic journal a read or two--or twenty!


PS: The Assistant Editor has a cool name: Adam Crittenden :)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Two Sad Poems at Pyrokinection


Read "Not There" and "Heroins" at Pyrokinection, run by the diligent and resplendent A.J. Huffman.

In the Wake of the Latest School Shooting--

Humanity feels like a huge, dark ugly beast, gnashing itself, as it grows more restless and violent. Here's the thing: How many stories about good acts have received significant time in the media lately?

We reinforce our descent into the kingdom of demons, and dare not look at the stairway that could lead us into a dance with angels.

"We" ...


"We" is really complicated. It means a lot of us in slave houses, a lot of us playing the good obedient sheep, a thin layer of elites at the top, a bevy of dreamers and idealists, both wise and wrong--and all of this taking place in a petri dish of toil, war, greed, hope and love. All of us taking on multiple roles as we shift masks and routines.

The messy maze of 21st century culture runs amok, beyond any competent control.

It is impossble not to be sickened by how dreadfully flawed it all is.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Poem: Pinecones

Originally published in Offcourse, a zine associated with SUNY-Albany.

You can read this poem in situ, if you wish, along with another:

Go to Offcourse





a midden of fainéants,
progeny of giants
angling for soily wombs.

more skull than virile imp.
smirking little slits
that dream of susurral green
vocal chords.

but most won’t trade
their skullness for genesis;
won’t sink to succeed
with the grace of fetal tombs.

they’re too selfish,
freed from umbilicals,
on a pine needle bed.

fraternal dukes
whose heritage will never be,
sneering over their ruffles,
proud not to strive.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Release: Negative Suck, Winter 2012


Negative Suck zooms out of nowhere like a stalactite overbite to tug that collar or strap so dangerously close to your throat; and in you go, pulled by the mentalicious force, that inhale of spectral teeth fierce with dark pep. The attack was sudden, brutal, breathless. And now you have soul-sharpened poems in front of you, urging unavoidably from the void.

So many prisms in the slithery vortex of the negative suck. The key question is, Can you not be hypnotized?

Five of my best pieces in this wintery issue!

Fly Well In the Dark,


PS: See my review here:

Owl In the Void

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Acceptance: Jellyfish Whispers

Read one of the saddest nature poems I’ve written, “Glade Alone” and the frightening “Approach,” both of which are now live here:

Glade Alone and Approach

The journal is Jellyfish Whispers, one of the sister publications of Kind of a Hurricane Press. The person in charge, A.J. Huffman is storming onto the poetry scene. Submit poems to this talented poet and publisher now, before everyone finds out and it becomes impossible to get in.

Very best to you and --

Fly Well In the Dark,


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Face The Collapse With Dignity

Humanity is facing strong potentials for a ‘great collapse’ over the next several decades. It is highly likely that such a collapse will come about through a variety of mutually enhancing factors. One sketch: global warming increases through development, spurring environmental chaos that interferes with food supply even as population rises. Once things get tight and scary, anxiety swells and bursts into a downward cascade: riots, wars, reckless decisions that worsen the descent, sinking into mass starvation and barbaric breakdown of law.

We are already on thin ice (figuratively and literally). If just one nuclear bomb explodes anywhere, for any reason--terror, tyrant, negligence--stock markets could crash. Given all the other confusions, escalations, depletions, and aberrations, one such push could instigate anomie.

But this post isn’t about fear. It is about how to live well during our perilous times, and not be dominated by negatives such as fear, bitterness or hate. I’ve been thinking in particular about this picture: hatred boiling over between people on opposite sides. In the declining Empire of the USA, the Democrats and Republicans are already divided in rancor. The latter group claims that global warming is a hoax, concocted by the Dems to gain power. This is pure ignorance of course; but are you going to scream back at them when they scream at you?

Or are you going to step back and observe the hate wall with dignity?

Plausible scenario: the final phase of collapse takes, say, two years. During that time, people split into political camps that really loathe each other, blaming each other for the end. They scream and attack as they all sink into barbarism and die.

Do you want to be among the screaming people, even if your screaming group is right and the other screamers are wrong? Or do you want to distance yourself from the whole mess and act with peace and dignity. Seriously, think about how to deal with your anger.

I've decded I’m going to work on my patience. And my ability to be peaceful over the rest of my life. It’s going to be very very difficult; but I don’t want to be screaming and hate-filled. If there are gods watching us, or UFO’s, think how stupid and primitive we look yelling and blaming each other as we go down.

I don't mean I'm not going to feel intense anger or hate. There are better and worse ways to coexist with them. Channel them. Give them their say. You're going to continue to see plenty of rage on this blog.

Even if there is no god, we are always being watched by our own inner sense of the Good. Do we want to disappoint that part of ourselves? And there is something comforting in the idea that some humans, at least, can stay noble, stay calm, stay wise, when faced with the end, even though there is no expectation of reward, no pearly gate.

That is true dignity.

If just one human can be good, despite all the hate and hysterias, it makes a powerful statement about hope. It means that in the billions of years of existence of this Universe, at a certain fixed time a small and flawed creature managed to overcome great internal conflicts and urges, and stand for the Good. And that means the Good is possible on a larger scale.

So, my friends, if hatred and fear build, I urge you to be patient. Seek the Good. Make your personal statement, expressed through action as well as deed, a higher one. I’m not saying to give up the battle for what is right. I’m not saying let ignorance win. By all means, work to make a better world. We have to. And should. Maybe the big collapse can be avoided. Let's fight! But do it the Good way.

And by “the Good” I don’t mean to become a fanatic follower, close-minded and certain you will be coddled by angels. That is a victory for fear. The Good is higher than any religion (though it can manifest in all religions).

Are Republicans annoying and idiotic? You can say yes all you want, and maybe you are right--but many of them are saying the same things about you. I prefer to see Republican intransience as a psychological phenomenon, one that involves denial and a fear to open the mind to the truth, because the truth is painful. Not just pain but fear of pain can cripple us humans. We are all vulnerable to that.

Let your weapon be reason. Let it be artistic passion (poetry is a great way to channel rage). If civilization goes down, it doesn’t mean we are utter scum. There is plenty of Good in people. Seek the Good. You know how to seek the Good, even if, like me, you don't understand it well.

Carry on. Enjoy every day. There are miracles around you all the time. Always.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Acceptance: The Writing Disorder

Visit The Writing Disorder

It is an awesome honor that five of my poems have been accepted by The Writing Disorder. I love the ambience of this online zine, which seems based in Los Angeles. (You can send your old-fashioned postal submissions to an address there, care of one of the Editors, C.E. Lukather).

The website is both professionally sculpted and successful in conveying an intense passion for the literary arts. Something about the style is retro yet also edgy. Poets are showcased individually, including a photo and significant bio. It is obvious that great care was taken in choosing the contributors, who bring many well-crafted styles and soaring, daring tongues.

You can buy Writing Disorder t-shirts, some that feature towering minds like Woolf and Joyce, others that play on the insanity of the writer's task. There is even one with Nietzsche on a motorcycle (“Nietzsche Motorworks”).

I can see that TWD is a very special place, and yet more importantly--I feel it. The new Poetry Editor is Juliana Woodhead, who wrote me a marvelous and personalized acceptance letter, including specific praise but also an insightful correction. This is a generous gift, indeed, above and beyond the daily grind of editors, which is already considerable. I bow down to you, Ms. Woodhead!

Every poetry journal has a personality, which involves many aspects, including an excitement factor. TWD gets me very excited through its quality, aesthetic and enthusiasm--its sheer ability to punch through my visors of gray and make me sing of life like a reborn Scrooge. If poetry is your conduit to zest and depth, check out this wonderfully neurotic zine!


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Release: "Solar" at Bolts of Silk

Read my poem "Solar," currently featured at one of my favorite magazines. Editor Juliet Wilson is one of the most intelligent, passionate and wise guardians of the wilds we have left during our mechanic-consumeric-hedonic rush toward global collapse.

Solar at Bolts of Silk

Thanks for reading and carry forth!


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Release: Aberration Labyrinth #3 (Nov 12)

See my poems "Romeo Reads Himself" and the grotesque "Source" in the latest issue of this hard-edged journal. The publisher is Issu, so to get access, go to AL's main page and then click on the cover:

Don't do anything I wouldn't do ;)


PS: To see my review of this journal, go here:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Acceptance: The Vehicle

Read my dark, cynical vicious poem “Cerberus” in the Fall 2012 issue of The Vehicle:

Cruising In The Vehicle!

This formidable zine, run by students out of Eastern Illinois University, has been publishing poems since 1959, but only in 2011 changed from in-house to extrovert. Now everyone can send them high-rev writing for consideration. I’m honored to be in the vanguard of their quest to publish the best they can find on a national and even international scale.

Special thanks to Editor Nikki Reichert who had to deal with me on an email-to-email basis.

Happy Reading To All!


PS: The Vehicle asked for a recording (MP3) of the work accepted but that hasn’t appeared on-site yet. (Singing badly): Somedayyyyy my audio will come...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Review: Mark Pawlak's Go To the Pine


It is extremely rare for me to review anyone’s work on this blog. I’ve only done it once before, when the stars aligned in a bizarre yet catalytic syzygy. The ‘poet’ I reviewed was Kenny Cole, who probably doesn’t even consider himself a poet. He is widely known and self-described as an artist, one who happens to use phrases and quotes in many of his canvases and drawings. That is one of the reasons I reviewed him, the challenge of explaining why he could be seen as a poet, an alchemist of symbol who transforms words into groundbreaking, permeable states.

I also know Cole personally, in the face-to-face kind of way, not through the aether. We don’t just kibitz as avatars in a web. Also, I greatly--and I would like to underscore the adverb many times--admire his ethos and its manifestation: his all-out, courageous and incessant criticism of our addiction to war, including the financial double-dealings, mendacious rhetoric and weaponized consumerism that goes along.

Today I am reviewing Mark Pawlak’s poetry book, Go to the Pine: Quoddy Journals 2005-2010, published by Bootstrap Productions. Why? Pawlak has a formidable presence in the history of modern poetry. He studied with Denise Levertov in the late 60’s (more on this later), and has edited the venerable journal Hanging Loose for thirty-two years. Hanging Loose has been around for forty-six years, an incredible tenure, and recently celebrated its 100th issue at the Brooklyn Public Library. Harvey Shapiro, past editor of New York Times Book Review, started off the panegyrics, followed by many more personages.

Secondly, Pawlak’s interactions with Levertov were the opposite of superficial. Her morality, her passion, her motivations, moved the young lad vastly, opening his heart to social justice with an impetus that proved enduring-- a lifelong momentum of questioning authority, especially its twisted relationship with mass violence. Think Eisenhower’s “military-industrial complex.”

(Don’t make the mistake of mothballing Einsenhower’s warning. See Aaron B. O’Connell’s recent and chilling op-ed in the New York Times, “The Permanent Militarization of America”).

Think of advancing technology for one primary purpose: to create bigger and stronger weapons to inflict wider and greater damage. This is the political vista that Pawlak surveyed in 1970 as he contemplated a full-paid scholarship to graduate school at MIT. The awakening poet and humanist ended up rejecting that scholarship (part of me wants to say “refuting”), unable to reconcile with what had come to be known as the “Pentagon on the Charles.”

Pawlak dared to face what Walter Cronkite’s evening news could not: the Vietnam War as a monstrous evil. Not in a Biblical sense but rather in the secular logic of inducing mass murder and nightmarish denial. In the middle class suburbs of America, Hannah Arendt’s “banality of evil” played on, even as Nixon dropped more bombs on Laos than all the bombs we dropped during WWII.

Pawlak dared crack his eyes, propelled by Levertov, and became permanently stung. Psychically transformed. His memoir is forthcoming and I look forward to purchasing it. How do I know so much about Pawlak? We sat down to lunch in my hometown of Lubec, Maine. Face to face. The awakening of the late 60’s still burns in his heart. Fervent.

And why, you might ask, was Pawlak, a professor of math in Boston, having lunch with an Owl in the remote town of Lubec?

Well, Go To the Pine punctuates six years of visits in and around Lubec. In sum, I am reviewing Pawlak’s book because: (a) I greatly admire his Levertov-inspired ethic, (b) he is a tremendous leader and legendary figure in realms poetic, (c) we met face to face, (d) the book focuses on the region around my home, which is pretty amazing given that I live 50 miles from the nearest traffic light.

You might be thinking: Is that darned Owl ever going to talk about the book itself? I am indeed. But my philosophy is that an artist’s ethic affects the aesthetic of his or her work. This is no doubt so controversial a premise that many would call it laughable. But this is my blog, my review, and I think it is important to spell out the ethos of Pawlak. Without hale ethos, the quality of a poet’s work, in my thoughts, is lesser. I know you disagree. Let’s move on, happily because Pawlak satisfies one of my chief criteria.

Given all my hullabaloo about justice, you might be surprised that Go To the Pine is not at all a work of protest. At least not overtly. As a full-time resident of Lubec and previous denizen of Los Angeles, I can say that simply being Down East is a relief from the hundreds of insidious weights that can laden the shoulders of the urban dweller, unnoticed until the cement landscape is traded for the green, granite and brine of streetlight-less space.

I don’t think you will find a single phrase or reference in Pawlak’s book to anything industrial, machine-like or military. And yet he isn’t taking a naive bucolic approach to the Quoddy region. I hate to say it--because it is going to draw attention to Lubec, invite more visitors, which could well lead to philistine fence-posts and yuppification--but Pawlak has, in these poems, crafted the sort of apt spell that comes from (a) dedication to a demanding midsummer muse, and (b) the application of a poetic brilliance, cultivated painstakingly over decades.

This book could well crack the damn of anonymity that has partially protected Quoddy from a horde of tourista attention. It is a trenchant masterwork, superbly honed, and very accessible. The works appear in the chronological format of a diary, and yet might as well be a capricious assemblage of emotion-rich tinctures for tattooing the adventurous soul. There is a feel of optimal aphorism. And a dash of the economy of haiku. But also much more, none of it reducing to the methods it subsumes. The basic foundation of the oeuvre, as I read it, is free verse that somehow siphons into itself some of the magic of structured tradition. Once in a while, Pawlak will label a piece “Sarabande,” “Passacaille,” “Chaconne” or some such thing; but the playfulness and creativity far exceed any implied constraint.

Don’t think that Pawlak is painting Quoddy as some ideal Arcadian oasis. He can wax kind, and rightly so; but he also bares the gruff, harsh underbelly of this angular, frangible region, sometimes, I think, without even knowing it. The title, for instance, Go To the Pine, has special and personal meaning for me. One of my favorite backpacking trips in Lubec involves a 300 acre stretch that has only a single white pine left. Pine trees were largely logged out, leaving mostly spruce, which is true of the whole region. Pawlak’s use of “Pine” instead of “Pines” has captured, in a subtle way, that rarity.

Pawlak also reveals that he embraces almost secret things, Lubecker kind of things, that most all city-rushers don’t know or hold special. We have around here a mammal called a fisher that eats our local porcupines, leaving only the spiky skin. On a recent backpack, I saw four such gutted quill-shells. Not redolent with the glory of nature, is it? But Pawlak isn’t afraid:


The fisher is a fearless predator ... will face off with a porcupine, snapping at the animal’s snout until it goes into shock; then it will roll the body over to get at its soft underbelly. Evidence: the empty sack of quills in roadside ditch.

You can find raw variegated vignettes like this all through the book, from the grim to the chucklish to the honorific. The Down East culture gets its share of notice, too. I was tickled that the talented bard from Boston found interest in local flavor that had long ago settled below my conscious:


... violation of scallop rule, $250
... hand fishing sea urchin without license, $500
... negotiating worthless instrument, $150
... violation of marine worm rule, $250
... failing to kindle in prudent manner, $100

Machias District Court Cases, Bangor Daily News

The serene, the beautiful, the sensuous and the colossal are fully represented in this book. Here are a couple of the “Six Acts,” which wonderfully engage coast, horizon, sky and sun (20:VII:07):

Mist peels away
slowly in bands
to reveal the crown
bristling with firs.

Fog thins
while sun climbs,
hand over hand, up
a ladder of branches.

Maybe my favorite Pawlak theme--maybe--emerges in those entries where fringes of nature serve as both seeress and gorgon, a font of unstable magic and bittersweet bliss. Such places are always perilous yet rewarding for the human touch:


Today, my preoccupation
is this cracked, seamed,
frost-heaved, tarmac road
along whose crumbling
shoulders, edged with gravel
squadrons of bees patrol
the hydra-headed chamomile
just coming into flower.

Go To the Pine reminds me of that one isolated white pine near Porcupine Mountain where I have more than once pitched my tent, and found myself able to observe ranks of eagles in smooth, bark-shucked grandmother trees, and passels of frogs, half turned into waterlogged leaves, in a beaver-created pondlet. Go to the Pine reminds me of the jokes, jingles, jabs and a bit of drunken jabberwocky at my favorite eating holes and local stores. Go To the Pine, which is ultimately tinged with nostalgia (a ghost from a different kind of existence, in an unpresent world, is channeling through Pawlak) reminds me of what we have lost in the cities, in the bowels of capitalism, and the advance of its isolative cubic egoism; and yet Go To the Pine is not offering answers or solving dilemmas. It challenges you, with a disarmingly simple eloquence, to find your own path, to make the Down East region your guide not only to Maine but also your way.

You must say how, though. Pawlak will not do it for you.

My fear is that this book will open the floodgates of capital and cottage. It is that good. Its pages swim, lope and soar with meanings that you, the person who has money and the will to travel, are missing in the city--and yet that lack will accompany you to Quoddy if you are not careful. In this sense, like all great works, Go to the Pine offers healing and yet, paradoxically, it is a dangerous tome.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Acceptance: Red River Review

See my poem “Double Dip” in the new release of Red River Review #45 (November 2012). Michelle Hartman, Editor extraordinaire, is doing a great job, having revivified the journal a few years ago. The poetry she publishes is receiving both national and international attention. Some recent work in RRR by Rob Walker was taken by The Best Australian Poems, 2012. Here’s the journal link:

Red River Review

Also, If you search “Red River” on this blog, you’ll see my previous ponderings on this mighty journal, which is somehow affiliated with that mysterious literary ambrosia known as Ilya's Honey ...

Thanks for Reading and Fly Well In the Dark,


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Peter DeVeber Paints Me

Artist Peter DeVeber recently offered to do my portrait. Here is the photo he worked from:

And here is the outcome, of which I am most pleased (acrylics, 20x20):

I strongly recommend going to his blog to see some of his other work, as well as the above portrait. He is a talented, generous and all-around stupendous artis t/poet:

Thank you for stopping by,


PS: That Owl-Man Mandala next to me in the photo is another of my favorite works of art. It was created for me by Shanna Wheelock.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Long Day's Journey Into Hope

A lot hangs on the military Empire’s big election today, including whether tens of millions of citizens will be able to afford a doctor, even for minor illness. It is also a pivotal for the forces of Greed and their shameless mind-manipulation. It is noteworthy and nefarious that Romney, champion of the rich, ended his campaign on a big lie: the claim that GM was moving all its JEEP jobs in Ohio to China. The company itself said this was not true, and the newspapers in Ohio printed prominent rebuttals, calling Romney out. But instead of apology, Romney upped the lie, adding more such ads in Ohio, and so he was called out again and again by the auto manufacturer:

Blatant lies are dangerous and can be effective. Let us never forget one of the most important quotes of our time: “The great masses of the people will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one.” That would be Hitler himself speaking, a truly great and monstrous fear monger. Back to Romney: with the auto industry countering his deplorable tactics face-to-face, the lie is red and exposed. Voters in Ohio will notice the vast ugliness and be repulsed. And yet we should all be very scared: a major candidate for the throne of the military empire, one who could well win, is resorting with full gall to a tactic endorsed and wielded by the worst kind of leader. the sort whose conscience, if it exists, is far secondary to powerlust.

Despite the importance of the day, neither major candidate has focused on climate distress. The ecosystems of our planet morph on unpredictable courses. Unless dealt with directly and calmly, this perilous change will prompt many humans to panic, and that could lead to a chain reaction of anomie. The collapse of civilization is on the table. The next hundred years are crucial to the survival or doom of postmodern life.

Sadly, a third of the good citizens of the Empire think that global warming is just a conspiracy theory. A fabrication for intellectuals to get money. We have so much denial, in other words, that it drags us into inertia. It’s the kind of denial that comes with addiction. Think of a person addicted to cigarettes, except instead it is an entire nation addiction to oil and coal, oblivious to the consequences. Meantime, more and more scars maim the Earth, and the balance of forces that make up the homeostatic rhythms of our planet commence to fibrillate.

We are also in denial about the crescendoing business of violence. An Op-ed titled “The Permanent Militarization of America” came out recently in the New York Times. It starts, “In 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower left office warning of the growing power of the military-industrial complex in American life ... He cautioned that war and warmaking took up too large a proportion of national life, with grave ramifications for our spiritual health.” The author, an Assistant Professor of History at the US Naval Academy, writes that Eisenhower’s warning “concerning the spiritual effects of permanent preparations for war is more important now than ever.”

As the author states, many children in America have lived with war their whole lives. It is the norm. The death of soldiers. The drone attacks. The fear of some nebulous enemy. Increasing surveillance makes our country part Orwellian; and the hedonism of our jingle culture, coupled with the shadowy threat, reminds of Huxley’s Brave New World.

And so, while key issues are at stake in this election, the best we can do is take a halting step down the right path. And unfortunately, the worst case scenario, a Romney victory, is much bleaker.

The difference between humans and machines is that we can contribute to our own inner programming or narratives. And yet too often we think we are in charge when instead we have been narrated by other forces, even to think we are doing the narrating ourselves.

The battlefield for the future is the human mind, its ability to change and yet also its vulnerable spot: to be deceived, manipulated. It is not like we can just reboot. Reprogramming is much like what feminists call “consciousness raising.” It’s a slow process, though disaster and crisis can speed up both the good (awareness) and the bad (panic).

Actually “reprogramming” isn’t the best word because it is associated with primitive polices in the 1950’s, such as B.F. Skinner’s reductive behaviorism. What I’m talking about is more like a therapeutic process, not a simple application of positive and negative stimuli. We need to crack our denial and howl in catharsis, taking the entire hero’s journey. Others can assist us, but we must each do it, in the end, on our own.

But again, all we can do tonight is take one step in the right direction. Let’s hope.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Samhain Prayer

To see the 2013 version of the poem, click here:


Have a wonderful meaningful day. Happy New Year!

Here is the latest version of Samhain Prayer, edited a bit.



Samhain Prayer

Let us hope the humanosphere moves swiftly to break from its path of nuclear doom.

Let us hope war is recognized for what it is: a black hole sucking us all down.

Let us hope care trumps greed, and soon no one shall hoard wealth and ignore starving 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 falter in power, 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-poisoning path, the one we take when we buy chemicals in the name of a shallow shine.

Let us pray to be more than fussy ants, led by the pheromone of our purse strings, rushing into Discount Hives where nothing is made with love.

Let us simply breathe, and realize what a treasure even 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.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Acceptance: DM du Jour

Two of my poems, "Lust" and "In the Philosopher's Condo" appeared yesterday in the lit blog DM du Jour, which is associated with the magazine Danse Macabre. You can read them here, if you wish:


Warning! "Lust" is pretty racy. And the other poem about the philosopher reveals deep family secrets.

May you devour the mice of ignorance,


Sunday, October 28, 2012

My Book, Jugularity, Releases!

Everyone will be glad to know that this is my last post about my new book ... for a while, anyway.

I'm also going to pretend that you'll be glad to hear you can purchase it for only $5.55 at Amazon, by following this link:


Even if you don't have a Kindle and don't want one (like me), you can download, or should I say inject, the intense dark poems into your machine.

All four blurbs, all glowing enough to make me blush, are available by clicking on the cover at Amazon. I have also posted two of them on this blog (see my previous entries) and below are the last two.

Thank you for reading and do consider supporting this humble (ha ha) and introrsed artist. With only $5 you can hold my vulnerable soul (jugularity = vulnerability), and also help my fickle morale attain unusual heights.

Fly Well In the Dark,



More blurbs for Jugularity (see also my last two entries)

Nuclear kicks, numb girls, faux feng shui, airbrushed pandemonium—who can decipher this Rosetta of dull hells? Enter Chris Crittenden. In hot lurches and hip-grinds, he sings his swollen song in a sort of sidewinder Sanskrit, each word conscientiously curated: bracing, clear-eyed, taut, and brave.

—Lissa Kiernan, Director, The Rooster Moans Poetry Cooperative

Not since I first fell in awe before the dreamily figurative works of late poet Tom Reninger have I read another who shifts me so readily into the realms of mystical naturalism and symbolic imagery — until I met poet Chris Crittenden. Jugularity is a whirligig journey of “rabbit blitz,” abounding with tempestuous “monsoons of word.” Within these poems I am cut by the edges of “onyx rage,” then cradled by “breeze-nuzzled branches”; I emerge from these wordstorms bearing more than a few shards embedded in my mind, and admire their conjurer.
~ Eve Anthony Hanninen, poet, illustrator, and editor of The Centrifugal Eye


Friday, October 26, 2012

Another Blurb for My New Book

Here is another blurb for my new book of poems, Jugularity, coming out soon from Stonesthrow, an imprint of Lazarus Press. I worked on the contents for years.

I know of no contemporary poet of such power and control who captures the 21st Century’s dark side as has Chris Crittenden. In taut, visceral poems with sublime diction and sonics, Jugularity embodies the Zeitgeist of our era of the “ersatz day.” He reveals the soul of man suffering, its “punch of treachery,” complete with the “rages of children/who were stabbed or burned.” Like scrimshaw etched in onyx, Chris’s poems lead us on a descent into the Inferno “where no one can say/ who the winner is.” Chris is courageous and unflinching and demands we be the same. His book will make us wiser, more prepared to survive.

~Karla Linn Merrifield, author of The Urn and The Ice Decides: Poems of Antarctica (Finishing Line Press)

Best To All, and Fly Well in the Night,


Thursday, October 25, 2012

My Poetry Book Coming Out Soon

Here is one of the blurbs for my collection Jugularity, soon to be released by Stonesthrow Poetry, an imprint of Lazarus Press. I hope it entices you:

Sometimes when I review a great book, my instinct is to judiciously quote the particularly delicious lines. But I am not going to do that with Jugularity because there are too many and it would take too long - many of my synapses are still popping. Readers will just have to trust me when I say that this collection of poetry features some of the most powerful image-evoking metaphors I have ever seen... This one, for instance: "His eyes stung / from an anthill of tomorrows." See what I mean? Jugularity is absolutely gorgeous and a poetry lover's dream.

~ Robin Stratton, On Air and Of Zen and Men

Consider a purchase. Only $7.77 at Amazon.

More blurbs soon...

Very Best,


Monday, October 22, 2012

Poem: Old Woman Explains

This poem has appeared in two magazines: Heavy Bear, run by Jane Crown (of Jane Crown's Poetry Radio fame) and also Vox Humana, which I think has gone away.

Best To All.


PS: Oh, a book of my poems is coming out this weekend, published by Stonesthrow Poetry, an imprint of Lazarus Press. The title is Jugularity. More on this later... much more.

PPS: The last stanza of the poem below, that's how I feel.


Old Woman Explains

once old,
we’ve been back
to childhood often. have shared
the same long-gone glass
too much
with the same deceased lover.

we’ve stared weak-jawed
as a whale breached,
or perhaps the twine
of mating eagles, their talons
a spiral clasped.

we’ve suffered shivers
that seduced like earthquakes,
left us with phantoms
and divine hints
of a sweet insane.

younger now than
we were, flesh
soon to fail at last,
we see time
bend around us
fast as a cooper of light,
barreling our dreams.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Release: Danse Macabre 62 Anvil

Something is quite strange about the darkly magnificent personage known as Adam Henry Carrière. Due to my infatuation with the literary magazine he edits, Danse Macabre--an immediate and enduring draw I might add--I have been gauging its exploits carefully: the stamina of the monthly releases; and the “coloratura” as he calls it, of the wide-ranging contents, which include flair from the baroque to the avant grand guignol; and much much more, through a circuitous and nonlinear route, even an occasional sojourn in Elysium.

It seems, perhaps, within the bounds of a mere mortal to orchestrate this web of continuous offerings, which include many cadenzas of vast quality. Possible albeit unlikely. And yet now, Danse Macabre not only supplies with vigor its monthly issue, but also links to an associated blog, known as DM du Jour. Even more, it is opening up, even as I speak, as a gateway into a whole new aspect of publishing. Books of poetry. Novels. Memoirs. And “feuilleton,” whatever that is.

And so my question becomes, Can a mere mortal, even one with highest aptitude at full flourish, preside over so many branches of art, which appear to be bursting forth like a severed Hydra neck to roar in multiplied might? The answer, my friends, is no. And so my conclusion is that Carrière is no mere mortal, has a preternatural existence of uncanny powers, or perhaps is a member of a secret literati, aka some kind of illuminati.

I suppose I lean toward the latter. If you go to the “Inner Sanctum” of Danse Macabre there is a Rédacteur Exécutif who claims 22 pseudonyms. And a capo di scrivania europeo from Nairobi and England, expert in French, who writes as a ghost. And an Assistant Editor, Pacific, who is also Editor-in-Chief DM du Jour, and who lives in Paekakariti, NZ on the Kapiti coast near whales and seals.

Could these Inner Sanctum Mandarins stand as the foundation not only for Danse Macabre but all the roots and tentacles that protrude from Danse Macabre and, indeed, wrap around and under the magazine, such that it is unclear which came first, what, when, and where?

I don’t know, I can’t fathom, it is all so dizzyingly mysterious. And yet the quality of the offerings makes me swoon and pine for more.


PS: See three of my poems in the latest DM issue, 62 Anvil, here:!__dm-62-anvil/poetry/vstc11=tre-entro-tre

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Poem: Angel In Goodwill

Here is one of my poems in the latest issue of Wilderness House Lit Review (7.3).




Angel In Goodwill

her mascara blots in aisles of clothes.
she sees the people that wore them
before they were young
and after they are dead.

cotton sewn by numb girls in grey bunkers.
leather as creased as widows,
though it once grazed Eden
near guavas rain-fed and lush.

there are teeth marks from idiot dogs,
and scuffs from rough forbidden sex.
innocence shines in a baby’s bonnet
though the lace reeks of forced labor.

were they naïve and blameless
as they draped sins over their shoulders
and walked in veils for years,
slowly folding away?


Monday, October 8, 2012

Release: Wilderness House 7.3

This Cambridge-based journal has just released its latest issue, including five poems from yours truly. Some of my best work ever is there, including "Angel In Goodwill" and "Lying In Bed."

Owl In the Wilderness

I've said lots of great things about this venue before, and especially the Poetry Editor Irene Koronas. Write her an email, saying what you like about 7.3 and it will make her day. She definitely deserves it.

And don't forget to tell 'em that the Owl sent you.

Carry On And Very Best,


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Emphasis On a Liar

I want to emphasize that Romney "won" the first debate because he is a magnificent liar while Obama was a tired truth-teller. This says volumes about our society, its values, its psychosis, and why as a Nation we are in so much trouble and so dangerous to global stability.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

The First Debate: Truth Lost, Glitz Won

Presidential debate #1 is over and the Republican Mitt Romney is being called the winner based on his slick, aggressive performance in contrast to Barack Obama’s languid approach. The problem with this kind of analysis, which is everywhere in the media, is that it ignores content and focuses solely on presentation.

Romney admitted he would dismantle Medicare and hand it over to private companies, a huge change that would result in profits over people. Obama pointed this out, but because his delivery was poor, Romney was able to say that more freedom would result by letting big greedy corporations inject layers of bureaucracy and brutal avarice into the system.

We’ve already seen how nasty and cruel insurance companies can be, burying us in paperwork, jacking premiums, penalizing the weak and needy to maximize cash intake. But because Obama didn’t speak with the traits associated with power--bravura, force, an armor of confidence--Romney gets heaps of praise from the mainstream punditry.

Throughout the debate, Obama insinuated how much suffering and cruelty would result from Romney’s draconian cuts. It didn’t matter because his style wasn’t up to our cultural par.

Obama repeatedly asserted, with accuracy, that Romney’s various plans were vague and unworkable. The math didn’t add up. Still, even though Romney couldn’t give details--except to say that his plans would not do anything that the American people didn’t like--the President lost. The reason? Romney had gumption.

Romney snookered a gullible public. American culture, bolstered by shallow materialism, doesn’t focus on content but rather packaging. We are judged by our status symbols--clothes, cars, the size of our homes--and the same standards apply when it comes to debates. To hell with the arguments, let’s bow down before razzle-dazzle and bamboozle.

Obama won based on standards of truth. On specious trickery and macho charisma, Romney won. Unfortunately, our reaction as a people shows that the truth was drowned last night by an engaging stream of lies. It may now be dead as far as the election is concerned.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Owl Finds a Vein!

The Vein, a journal as alert, adrenal, and cunning as a wounded artist trying to survive in the pitbull alleys of the heart, is using a phrase from my blog as a welcoming mat. Yes, my words sit right at the top of the website! Check it out:

Owl Epigraph

And see my full review of this smart upstart here:

Owl Reviews The Vein

I'm greatly honored by this, and I THANK the editor tremendously. Hoot!!

Peace to all, but not at the price of silence.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Poem: Breakdown at Insurance Firm

Another of my Portland Review poems, currently up at:



PS: I am spending a lot of time writing my novel, which is interfering with my ability to blog...


Breakdown at Insurance Firm

he thinks fluorescence
might be a blizzard,
and snow angels could be sculpted
in the drifts.

the only escape he has.
it lunges out of the delinquency
of his Id,

the algorithm of the actuarial,
turning the straight lines from his pencil lead
into jump ropes.

his only dream.
the rest of his head dull.
tonnages of pig iron.

what happened
to the lincoln log spaceships
a cub scout built?

disassembled and restructured,
columnar now.
pinioned by a lattice.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Poem: Sunset Behind Coal Plant

This is another of my Portland Review poems, still featured on the site:

What humanity is doing to nature is wrong, though nature's own tactics are often mean; and despite our tool-making skills, we are just pawns--blind and greedy--in a greater plan.



Sunset Behind Coal Plant

a fish cloud chafes purples, stubs rubies,
cinctures a toe of moon, as starlings
exhale through its fluffed ribs
like bitumen.

the ocean weltering below,
rambunctious fidget of dip and teat,
slip-sloshing into mutual puzzles,
jags that rear into each others’manes, scepters,
shreds and deaths.

and cormorants like oboes
that got stuck in the slurries
and devolved into coughing,
their necks the fingers
of a tired old addict who cries.

and shells like toenails
clipped by a hellcat,
havocked by her lewd rage,
strewn on sand the color
of a gigolo’s thigh.

frail light glancing off the wreckage
with a swift dapple:
scarlet, green, pink and gold
going down.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Greenglade Wisdom

Start with the smallest dot of life and then evolve through all creatures, into humans, and then wiser beings far beyond. This is what the journey of a single soul is like.

Wolf Who Brings Rain, Shama of Greenglade Covenhead

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Acceptance: Negative Suck


Negative Suck is “for writers and artists who don’t suck.” Somehow I was drawn in by this bald and simple statement, a kind of vulgar zen. I think three things appealed to me: (a) Most academic journals would never allow the word “suck” in their title or guidelines, and (b)that alone implies the editors are daring and disdainful of norms, and (c) “negative suck” reminds me somehow of a cool emotional black hole: some psychic space so powerful it can warp even the strongest laws of conformity and devour all resistance to true pain, love, fear, disgust, and whatever else drives the ideals of art.

Of course, I also researched the journal before submitting. The work is raw and real. Reading this journal is like walking into a room of courageous people who bare their souls without caring what you think; and though you are prepared to be appalled by this lurid display, what happens, in fact, is that you find incredible beauty and heart, even amidst the sorrow and grime.

For reasons I can't explain, my favorite poem in the current issue is "Toll of Seeming" by S.D. Capet. It's a mostly bitter hook into the deep flesh of human toil and grit.

The editor is Jeffrey S. Callico. The Art Editor is Madrea Marie Loy. The Managing Editor is Nicolette Wong. I’m honored that all five of my poems were accepted for their themed winter issue, in which no references to snow, candles or other old-timey chestnuts are allowed. I dodged the cliche-bullet!

This is truly a powerful zine with a no-nonsense hunger for great voices. You won’t find fluff or niceties. The editors are too preoccupied with the search for the most urgent and, as they say, gut-punching, testimonies, the kind that can make the most hardened werewolf cry.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Simple Argument

Step One

In the United States, the richest 400 citizens have as much wealth as the bottom 140 million citizens. In a country where money talks loudest, this means democracy has been horribly perverted.

It really is that simple and clear.

Step Two

It follows that the rich will use their money to influence politicians and spread propaganda. Although their political platform will be cloaked in seductive words like “freedom” and “the American Way,” a look at actual policy will show clear privileges for the rich. Things they don’t like include laws and regulations that protect workers, union rights, and the environment.

Step Three

Given the above, it is easy to see that the Republican Party is in lockstep servitude to the rich. Study the rhetoric and demagoguery of Republican leaders, and you will get a great education in how to manipulate the masses.

Step Four

The solution is to educate people about the situation, but that is made much more difficult because Republican policies make it hard to go to college, or even escape the subconscious power of fear.

Step Five

With ignorance and greed on one side, and dignity and decency on the other, it becomes a battle for the true light of freedom at a fundamental level.

In the words of the legendary journalist Edward R. Murrow,

Good Night and Good Luck.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Poem: Patterns In Rotting Wood

This poem received 26 likes at Portland Review's online website, and after two months is still one of their featured offerings. Go see it there, along with two other poems of mine, if you like:

Thank you for reading.



Patterns In Rotting Wood

gills, scabs, cuts,
cyrillics not found in vacua,
dark matter or nix.

fingernails, orts, hemidemi-
brawl of apostrophes,

crows-feet circling
grandmothers’ chins,

duck/rabbit blitz,
codex of muzzles losing shape,
Ark’s freckle and Hyde.

kiss the wood,
hold hear scratch,
scent its zinc lichen—

trace the threads
Atropos snipped,
spiraling up a crush of graves,

obelisks and cairns,
amphoras and fonts,
quarrels flaking into palms,
fugitive from sloppy


who can decipher
this Rosetta of dull hells?
pick it up and it crumbles,
suicidal pantheon, into the fire.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Acceptance: Aberration Labyrinth

This is a relatively new zine rocking the hard edge of anti-conformity. From their bios, I get the impression the editors are kinda apathetic in the way that a shark is apathetic after it has eaten a lot of seals; but if a new taste comes along the pendulum of passion swings the other way, from zip to zillions. But that’s just me.

The poetry on the site is extremely good. For ex, read some of Paul Hostovsky’s most gapingly lurid work here. In, general, there’s a rough vortex of sex, depravity, angst and unanswered questions, all dragging the reader into the raw truth of how fucked up society is.

You know, I’m probably saying more about me than about Aberration Labyrinth in this blog entry; but in a way that is a compliment. When a zine becomes a Rorschach test for the reader, it has managed, through the teeth of its offerings, to bite into a vulnerable worldview. We don’t get bitten enough in this society. Not in the right way, anyhoo.

The editors are Jessica Gleason and Ben Mohr. Gleason might be a bit of a feminist, or not, as well as a half-jaded wanderer of realms brothelesque, based on a poem of hers (“Female Chauvinist Pig”) I found in Boyslut:

I took this as, in part, a liberatory poem, a woman getting angry and finding her own unique sexual energy and voice as our culture struggles, still, to escape the 50’s June Cleaver persona: chaste, wonderbread and genteel. Maybe I’m reading idealism where I shouldn’t. Who knows. There probably shouldn’t be any simple answer.

Ben Mohr seems totally insane, based on his bio, but in a creative and productive way. He has invented the Omnigun, “the gun that fires more guns.” I’m hoping this is a satirical commentary on our society’s addiction to violence, with all the obsession, destruction, idolization, and sheer stupidity that implies. Who knows. There probably shouldn’t be any simple answer.

The editors want “trash poetry, nerdy poetry, horror poetry” and they don’t want ... Huh!? The “don’t want” part of their submission guidelines is gone. They must have edited it out while I was writing this blog entry. Weird and synchronicitous. Well, they used to not want nature poetry, but I guess it is alright now.

Aberration Labyrinth, as I said, is publishing great work, and that’s why I submitted, and because I love any zine that has done the impossible: become an original expression of the editors’ own predilections, madnesses, and quirks. They fuckin’ did it!

I also submitted because I am on the verge of psychosis from living in an unethical Empire of brain-dead sheep.

(Caveat: I automatically don’t like sexist, racist and so on, zines, but I don’t detect any of that).

Also, to submit you have to use their own personal submission system, which is called Green Submissions. It is fractious and obnoxious. The imp on my shoulder, which no one but me can see, has a theory: the zine is just a delivery device for testing and perfecting this newfangled submission system, which, once optimized, will be sold for tens of millions of dollars to a shadowy mogul in Silicon Valley.

I absolutely thank both these talented leaders, Gleason and Mohr, and their team of anonymous readers, for giving so much to the Scene, working very hard (I surmise) and launching a dangerously good new site.

Brave the Green Submission system and submit to them!!


Monday, September 3, 2012

The Great Power of Ignorance

In America today, the declining Empire of the 21st century, we have an extremely polarized electorate. There are only two viable political parties, the Republicans and the Democrats, which harbor opposite views on a number of key issues. Some samples:

(A) Christian creationism is as plausible an explanation as evolution (R: Yes, D: No)

(B) The scientific consensus that global warming is primarily human-caused is part of a “liberal conspiracy” (R: Yes, D: No)

(C) Abortion should be outlawed even in the case of rape or incest (R: Yes, D: No)

(D) Cutting taxes on the wealthy will help us all (R: Yes, D: No)

(E) Everyone should have affordable healthcare guaranteed through the government (R: No, D: Yes)

(F) Government programs that help the poor and needy should be shrunk down or eliminated (R: Yes, D: No)

There isn’t a lot of room for compromise and it seems that, in terms of many specific issues, one party is right and the other party is wrong. The media often portray both parties as equally to blame and equally dysfunctional. But it seems likely that one of the two is especially problematic and a threat to sane discourse itself.

If this is so, what are the implications? It means tens of millions of Americans are mired in ignorance and stubbornly in denial about it. They fight fiercely and talk mightily, framing specious arguments or more often blasting out supercharged rhetoric; but no matter how certain they are, or convincing to many, or how ardently they portray their cause, they are perpetrating harm to our moral progress as a nation, and undermining reasonable argument as a tool of debate.

Sadly, history tells us this is a common condition. Humans are susceptible to mass prejudice that not only promotes cruelty, inequality and injustice but which also stands impervious to logic. Today in the USA, we are caught in this psychological trap.

It is probably already clear which side I think is the purveyor of ignorance--and yet which denies its own internal sickness, blaming the “lazy” poor for their own suffering and even death (40,000 Americans die each year due to lack of health insurance, according to a Harvard study).

The Republicans have long been masters of demagoguery, harnessing the unconscious (and sometimes conscious) racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia of their constituency.

Here is Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize winner on the subject:

For decades the G.O.P. has won elections by appealing to social and racial divisions, only to turn after each victory to deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthy — a process that reached its epitome when George W. Bush won re-election by posing as America’s defender against gay married terrorists, then announced that he had a mandate to privatize Social Security. (“Severe Conservative Syndrome”)

A careful or even casual look at GOP policies reveals that they serve to further the power of the wealthy by harnessing the anger of their target group, which is primarily white (and overwhelming male in leadership). This skullduggery has led to the wealthy becoming much wealthier (and hence more influential) while the rest of America has stagnated or sunk. There has been a lot of such sinking, too, as the middle class dwindles away.

I’m out of time, so I’ll end with this quote from an article by Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein in the Washington Post:

We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition. (“The Republicans are the Problem”)

I’m very much afraid for the future of reason. Whatever foothold it has made in our society is slipping away under the assault of a powerful propaganda machine. The Republican-controlled Supreme Court recently legalized unlimited campaign donations for TV ads. A crucial victory for Avarice, and its dark minion Ignorance, over the light of intellect.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Acceptance: mgversion2>datura

This might be my most unusual acceptance ever because it comes from a fellow poet rather than the editor. The journal has a cyborg-ish name: mgversion2>datura. And it comes out at a lightning pace, a bold fountain of raw and frenetic art. Themes and issues stream and blur, but one of those themes “X & friends” allows a poet to choose her friends to appear with her--and that is how I came to be ‘accepted.’ Who chose me to appear? None other than that charismatic wandering woods-spirit of verve and versatility Karla Linn Merrifield.

It all came down like this: The editor of the journal, Walter Ruhlmann, contacted ten writers that he held in high regard, and told them that they could each pick five friends for their own special issue. Karla was one of those ten, and selected me and four others for her special issue, which will appear in April 2013. The other bards are:

Eve Hanninen (editor of The Centrifugal Eye)
M. J. Iuppa (author of Night Traveler)
Colleen Powderly (author of Split)
Michael Smith (chemist, mathematician, wilderness adventurer)

We are all going to supply five poems and appear with Karla in her special issue. Yay!

What a box-breaking idea by Editor Ruhlmann, who presents an energetic persona, indeed. Incidentally, he translates many of the journal’s poems into French from English, or English from French, while based in the UK. If you go to the website, you’ll find a hectic garden of roses and trellising flowers, which to untrained eyes like mine are as absorbing as they are overwhelming:

The original name of the journal was “Mauvaise Graine” or “Bad Seed,” but when it kicked online in 2002, it turned high tech, hence “version 2” and the shift from “mauvaise graine” to “datura,” which is a dangerous yet myth-shrouded plant with transformative narcotic seeds.

I never can give enough praise to Karla, who has done a great deal as a leader in realms poetic on many levels, from the ethereal walks of the internet to the gritty saw grasses of the Everglades, and in many other ecolands as well; for she travels quite a bit and is never afraid to engage with the thickest of brush or converse with the most vertiginous canyon.

I’m further honored that she recently dedicated a poem to me, published in Kudzu Review:

If you read the poem (“Everglades Baptism”), you might see a reference to a certain owl ...

In any case, it is a masterful piece, a triptych in stanzas. All three vignettes entrance, not an easy feat.

Thank you Karla for all you’ve done for us poets--but, also, please keep writing and writing. You're fantastic!



Sunday, August 26, 2012

Poem: Two Ghosts

This was recently published in Hobo Camp Review (Summer 2012). To see it in situ, along with another poem of mine, "Dead Cow," go here:

Best to everyone, and especially those, like me, who are wondering how they are going to pay for food.



Two Ghosts

look at us flow into each other
like wine drunk on itself,
full-bodied with faint delight
gone in a mutual sip.

look at us looking
through each other’s eyes,
sharing our mutual fingers,

as if the absence of saveable seconds
could be formed into a seed.

you made of my ribs, mine yours,
our pelvis a fulcrum.
hips wrapped, seesawing on a lost night,
defiant still against edicts of pain.

our togetherness a faint perch,
stuck somewhere
between toehold and substance.

in the bleed of a forgotten autumn,
we murmur-swirl side by side,
on an ersatz day.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

The US Citizen Is A FKing Sheep

In 1970 the students at MIT crowded around the office of their campus President; then the chanting group parted for four young men carrying a battering ram, which was used to smash through the barricaded and heavily locked doors. A sit-in ensued, lasting for days. What were the students protesting? MIT had become the “Pentagon on the Charles.” In other words, it was steeped in military money being used for research into technologies of war and death.

Good readers, I ask you, What has happened to that spirit today? The Iraq War just ended after a decade-long run, and what did it accomplish? The Afghanistan War is the longest in America’s history and what is the point? These wars have been run with horrible inefficiency, made even worse by the corruption of the military-industrial complex. They are rife with atrocities of hellish magnitude, such as Special Forces operatives running around in the night and shooting down pregnant women in their homes, and rockets annihilating entire wedding parties by ‘mistake.’

Folks, what the hell has happened to our spirit of protest? Where is our ethical imperative? Where is our outrage at the horror of what our country is doing, as it prostitutes the ideals of freedom and democracy; as it brutalizes entire countries, hemorrhaging streams of fugitives, millions of people long, and laying a hydra-headed path of despicable murder and mayhem?

Why aren’t we breaking down Presidential doors and rallying in the streets? Why are we complacently bovine as our Empire launches self-destructive and appalling rampages, whose sole benefactor is the avarice-eyed moguls of the weapons industry?

We are selling the souls of our young soldiers to the devil of PTSD, the demon of disability, the monster of amputation and the ghoul of suicide.

What the F*** is wrong with us! Why don’t we yell about the horrors of what our country is doing on a global scale. Are these wars idiotic or what, people? If your answer is yes, please do something, write something, say something, send something, an anonymous card, do anything, speak out -- because at least on paper, at least theoretically, we have free speech; but it means nothing if we let Big Media flood the airwaves and saturate impressionable minds without our own staunch and fervid resistance.

Turn off that TV and go out into the streets to fight, whether they are real streets of oil-stained tarmac or the equally powerful boulevards of the internet.

For god’s sake, our military establishment is absurdly off course and insanely addicted to slaughter. It is a disease rotting out the marrow of our nation, one that splits our population into a pathetic mass of the toiling and floundering, and a small cadre of selfish rulers lavished in luxury.

Honestly at this point, I don’t expect anyone to do much. Future historians will look at the educated American citizen of the early 21th century and wonder how we could be so docile and intentionally helpless as our dignity crumbles inside us and all around us too.

And when it comes to Republicans, those sheep at the feet of the Corporate Gods, historians will wonder how so many people could become willing advocates of a Greed so antithetical to their own safety, health and soul. To wear the bridle of your own self-effacement so blindly is an immortal stain on the right wing's ability to employ the faculty of reason, and a searing caveat concerning the frailties of human nature.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Poem: Hit

This poem recently appeared in The Vein, a great young zine. To read it there, and my other poem, "Booby Trapped" go to this url:

To see my review of The Vein, go here:

"Hit" is from the perspective of a soldier who has just been shot.

Will the American people ever protest the evils of war with a 60's-intensity again? We have become so beaten down, so docile, so unsparkable.




what was was fragile.
a shard of scream to the jugular.
he had no could not compensate.
to come back was not to couldn’t be a new start:
only trench itch and a mouth of cotton,
friends blown to fleshy scripts
sheaves of them in sheets.

there was no did no had no
felt no saw no meant no god.
bodies left by the bulldozer
in mud that turns red where
even a worm is great. five worms
are almost tender, like a girl’s hand.
there would no couldn’t kiss a girl again.
less fireflies than stars
under the battlefield moon.

such secrets in breath!
strange that ever would surprise him,
or that legs weren’t sticks.
bird lying wings cracked back broke by canon roar.
sad chirp stomped boot-flattened
last thing couldn’t be but must
he had to see.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Incredible Night at the Catbird Seat!

On August 13 at 7pm, I had an unforgettable experience. My wife, Shanna Wheelock, and I were invited to lead a discussion in Eastport, Maine at the Catbird Seat. The flyer for the event included a picture of one of Shanna’s powerful works of art--a pomegranate merged with a grenade--and announced:

a poet & a potter
Chris Crittenden and Shanna Wheelock discuss war and peace at The Catbird Seat.
(#3 Dana Street look for the big clock opposite the Tides Institute)

Shanna and I had never presented together, which alone made the night a new kind of adventure. Add to that the incredible ambience of the Seat, which enveloped us in good vibes as soon as we walked through the door. I had never been inside, and felt like a bibulous bard stumbling upon a trove of the vine.

The Seat used to be a theater; and I’m not talking one of those boring boxes that pepper our fast-food nation today. Imagine a real ol’ time vault, nestled luxuriously in a semi-Victorian townhouse. Venerable floors with broad hand-cut planks. Ceilings of baroque enameled tin. The owner and host, Heidi Reidell, marvelously furnitured the entry room to include velvety couches and chairs. Can you say maximum comfort? To me they were like low-rider motorcycle seats: nice and easy and free.

After the entry room, you go through a short hall containing a honky tonk piano, which surely has sung many a sociable song. And then suddenly you are in a towering space, both hospitable and commodious, at least forty feet up, and who knows how long and wide. Everywhere I looked there was art and sculpture, not crowded but positioned so as to allow each piece its own special aura.

Ms. Reidell indeed has an fine eye for spatial aesthetics.

And the artwork itself was stunning. The voluptuous gallery harbored giant kiln-fired sculptures wrestled into being by the recently deceased Donald Sutherland, clay wizard of Eastport. I have no idea how he mustered the physical strength to fashion these Picasso-esque behemoths, each an harmonic congeries of suggestive shapes. They were grand, primordial, and absolutely original. I sensed animals moving in the collages of abstract contour, yet also sometimes machinery. And ghosts.

On the wall were mesmeric oil paintings that somehow twined liquid and solid in an interplay of color and shape. The canvasses simmered and flexed yet maintained an underlying armature of the recognizable. Crowning it all, surrounded by small meek spotlights, was a formidable painting by artist Arthur Cadieux. I stared at this painting (whose name I don’t know) off and on for most of the night. It was, according to Ms. Reidell, worked into its fierce gang of frightening faces just after September 11, 2001. I could feel on my skin the palpable rage and angst and despair and violence. Amid the spearhead of fearsome visages crept a brocade of small black tanks, marching like ants.

Cadieux’s painting was a paragon of antiwar expression, and surely affected everyone as the presentation commenced. Ms. Reidell started off the night with a bold statement of her own, which included stories about courageous resistors in Nazi Germany. She was incisive and articulate, and throughout the night continued to catalyze the discussion with her intellect.

After her presentation, she introduced me, and I was a little unsure how to proceed. The format for the evening was vague, perhaps intentionally to keep it conversational. It had been decided beforehand that I would introduce Shanna, since I was familiar with her style and work; and that was a task of major importance, eclipsing all else in my mind.

Although it made sense that I should introduce her, I felt awkward being given the stage first. We were equal presenters, after all. I found myself fumbling and gushing in an attempt to describe Shanna who, honestly, is the most important person to me in the world, and who in addition is fabulously gifted, and flourishing as an artist. She deserves, and is starting to generate, widespread praise.

Two of Shanna’s artworks were brought with us and sat on a table during the entire presentation. They are some of my favorites: "Totem," which adorns the cover of my chapbook “Rebellion,”; and also "Grenade," which combines twenty-five life-sized grenades, sculpted by hand out of clay, along with a melon-sized pomegranate, also clay-sculpted. The pomegranate sits on top of a wooden square with sub-compartments for the ordinance.

You can see both these works at Shanna’s blog, along the right side of the screen. Or visit her new website:

I’m running out of time, so I will wrap this up: I read three poems and then a discussion commenced, starting with many questions for Shanna about her art, philosophy, technique and process. Then the discussion continued, on and on, with the audience getting very vocal and remaining attentive for at least an hour. An incredible exchange of ideas took place, enhanced, as I mentioned before, by Ms. Reidell’s smart comments and prompts.

After the official talk ending, the conversation spilled into the whole of the Catbird Seat, and continued on far into the night. What a magical time it was, full of art, architecture, poetry and a cornucopia of brave ideas.

I offer my most full and fervent gratitude to Heidi Reidell, gallery-keeper and artist extraordinaire. The twin bright lights of her mind and heart took us in the company of truth through the darkness of the topic.



Saturday, August 11, 2012

Acceptance: American Poetry Journal

Visit American Poetry Journal

It is a huge thrill to announce that the American Poetry Journal has accepted two of my poems (“Whisked Leaves” and “Not So Vacant Lot”). The Senior Editor is one of my favorite poets on the national scene, J.P. Dancing Bear. On the Advisory Board is Bob Hicok, who is perhaps my favorite living poet. He is in the top five, anyway. He is the only contemporary whose words I can quote off the top of my head, and only the following phrase, which obviously has tremendous power for me:

“If we named things what they are, our sentences would be monsoons. Long rains of sound.”

If you are going to subscribe to just one literary journal, I recommend this one. You should probably try to get two subscriptions, APJ and also Poetry (published by the Poetry Foundation).

I could try to praise this journal up here, but I think I would only sound mauldin and feeble. APJ doesn’t need my praise--but it surely needs support, so do consider subscribing. The Poetry Foundation has a huge reserve of money, due to a 100 million dollar inheritance. APJ does not.

Carry on, folks. We live in a bizarre and swiftly changing time. We are witness to what could well be the twilight of civilization, even if it turns out not to be.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I'm Running a Workshop For You!

My workshop at the Poetry Coop starts on Sept 6 and runs for four weeks. Please consider joining! If you go to the following link, you will see me smiling (a rare sight indeed), and if you click on me, the workshop info comes up.

Note: be sure to click on me fast because after a few seconds, I get replaced by another of the Coop's teaching artists. There are currently five of us, going in a circle.

Yes, the workshop will cost you: $50. Sorry about that. I could really use some extra ten dollar bills to pay for spaghetti, and the Coop takes a cut, which helps to maintain the site.

If you're serious about exploring the wild areas of your mind through the lens of poetry or philosophy, or both, you won't be disappointed, not if I can help it, anyway.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Poem: Crow In a Gale

This poem originally appeared in 2River View. If you have the right audio, you can hear me read it at the following link:


Now I'm off to be an auctioneer for the first and last time in my longish life.



Crow In A Gale

of disheveled tufts
on a catapult
about to throw,

the projectile
quilled yet frozen,
cinched by wind,

a talon
from hurtling
through a sky of cement
and oatmeal.

hood ornament
of a streamlined grove,

pitted against
a sharpened speed
of drooling gray.

a plight nearly fumes.
almost a serif


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Release: The Vein X

If you read my review of The Vein ...

A Sanguine Trip

you will get an expanded statement of what I will simply abbreviate here: this is a raw, dark quality journal run by an editor on the edge. An editor who uses courage as a shield against insanity. When I wrote the poems that appear in the current issue of The Vein (“Hit” and “Booby Trapped”) I entered a state of near insanity. The pain was so great. I suspect other contributors wrote with blood from their arms too. That’s what I’m talking about.

Issue X of The Vein appears without any fanfare. No intro, no frills, no presence of the editor. Nothing except the writing and a blood-red backdrop. This makes me worry about whether the zine will continue. I hope it does. It ought to. There are so few fountains of this kind of honesty left. And this editor (anonymous) has a chance at being truly great.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Release: River Poets Journal, Spring/Summer 2012

Editor Judith A. Lawrence has done a spectacular job. The Spring/Summer issue is aesthetic and arresting, a marvelous garden of literature and impressionism. I don’t know why a certain few people choose to become editors of small press journals, receiving no pay and doomed to far less praise than they deserve; but thank the fates that Ms. Lawrence decided to take on the noble task six years ago. The world of beautiful words has benefited ever since.

Be sure to check out the issue online, or even better, buy a copy. It will be one of the most beautiful books you own, worthy of both living room display and mental immersion.

I’m very pleased that my poem “Words Of a Stone In a Dream” is included, next to a cool image of a stone golem, no less. I like that!

A dozen cheers for Editor Lawrence, all of them as passionate as the spirit embodied by a fresh red rose.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Poem: Constrictive

This was recently published in





the city has no arms.
he squeezes the back
of his neck and feels a python.

no legs. success
means to crawl.
wings lurk above,
embellishing towers.

thoughts can’t move.
motion isn’t contact.
everyone has their own terrarium,
hiding a few scary eggs.

he masturbates
and it feels like squeezing a reptile,
cold and unresponsive,
lack of breath--

an attempt to kill something,
some vengeful clue
in the constrictive gloom.

the night pumps delirium,
a saturnalia of lies.
hope without ethos
or grace.

one primate stands up,
sobbing suddenly
in the rain.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Centrifugal Eye's Five Year Anthology!

The Centrifugal Eye is a most rare, magical place, where poetry, art and paramount leadership swirl together, pulling emotion and intellect into hypnotic flows of phrase, figure, philosophy and sheer sustenance for the soul. The five-year anthology is sure to be mindworthy, and I’m lucky that my poem (“A Midsummer Night’s Glee”) was chosen for inclusion.

I’ve raved about TCE before, and I invite readers to search my blog for various entries.

I’ll add here that I loved working with the editorial team, led by Eve Anthony Hanninen. Getting any acceptance is wonderful, but usually that means never hearing from the editor again, except for a terse note that the issue has been published and “please check it to help us proofread.” Not so with TCE; in fact, Hanninen and her team are the best by far at making the contributor feel special.

Accepted poems get full treatment, including proofs and quality recommendations from the staff. The goal isn’t to pamper the author, of course, but rather to perfect the work and find just the right fit, nestled with art, other poems, essays, and other psycho-cerebral delicacies.

However, when custom graphics are selected for a contributor’s poem, and the contributor realizes, almost in shock, that the poem has been seriously pondered--and I mean painstakingly, not only studied for structure but passionately felt, by more than one editor--the result is a major morale booster that can last for years.

Indeed, I’ve been trying to get back into TCE for a long time now, because I love not only the quality of the finished issue but the process of interaction between writer and editor. Sadly my submissions have been rejected, but I can see, in retrospect, that the staff was wise to reject them, and that only reinforces my admiration for their acumen and dedication to the apex of the craft.

I’ll keep trying, be sure!

And so, once again, I recommend this journal wholeheartedly. Another thing: Hanninen is always looking for volunteers to help with the editorial process (both art and lit) and this is a one-in-a-million opportunity to gain management expertise in a professional environment. Another TCE editor I feel important to mention is Karla Linn Merrifield, a prolific and sensuous poet of the wilds, who sometimes writes a column for the journal. To work with her and other members of the staff is an edifying gift to any volunteer.

Hearty congratulations to TCE and Eve Hanninen on the upcoming release of the five year anthology. Viva La Eye!


Monday, July 16, 2012

On the Absurd

Everyday we are surrounded by the absurd. It is the defining essence of our lives.Why do some of us get to pamper pets, which indeed we truly love, while African mothers watch their children starve? These mothers can’t afford to love their young children in the way Americans love their dogs, because the pain of watching them suffer or die, without the money necessary to get medical attention or even food, is psychologically crippling.

In this sense, being able to fully give your love to another being, human or animal, is a luxury.

This is but one example of the absurd. It underlies our existence. A middle class person can spend $3000 to have their elderly dog undergo a risky surgery, or $10000 getting whiter straighter teeth. Meanwhile, those sums, seen as vast in places like Africa, could save numerous 3rd world children from terrible pain or build them a school.

Unfortunately, it is not simply a matter of Americans giving their money away to Africans. Life is far more complex than that. I don’t mean to exonerate the middle class of our bellicose nation. Those of us with privilege should understand the absurdity of our privilege, work to heal the world, and recognize how lucky we are. And yet, I admit, it is also wonderful to love our pets, enjoy our pastimes, and so on. We the privileged suffer all kinds of difficulties and tragedies of our own. Life is not a cakewalk, even for those who can afford to get whiter teeth and live in safe neighborhoods.

(Let’s face it, these safe neighborhoods are usually racist neighborhoods at some level, and so those of us in safety are contributing to racism in some way--unless, maybe, we are very careful.)

So, life is absurd. It is inescapably unjust such that none of us can claim to be good in any fine sense.

How can we be good while lavishing a dog with toys while hundreds of millions of human beings go hungry and cry alone?

At the same time, dog lovers are not evil. Or are they?

One classic argument goes as follows: You’re driving home and you see someone drowning by the side of the road. Obviously the right thing to do is to get out, spend a minute, and save a life. In the same way, by analogy, it is obviously right that we should take the time to send money to Africa to save a life.

Usually this argument continues on: human life trumps your prerogatives, so you should send most all your money to Africa, and spend most all your time saving lives of Africans--just as you would save a person drowning by the side of the road. Everyone’s life counts equally, and if people are drowning, or starving, surely you should help as many as you can.

The above argument is common in philosophy. See for example the book, “Living High and Letting Die.” Or “The Drowning Child and the Expanding Circle,” by Peter Singer.

I have never been convinced by it, not even close. Real life is much more complicated and so the analogy between the drowning person and the starving African fails.

A more accurate analogy, reflective of our global society is this:

You’re driving home and you enter a valley where millions and millions of people are drowning. You can help them, but not directly: to help you have to send money to someone in a booth, then the person in the booth goes out and saves someone. You can see some of these “lifeguards” go out, having been paid by someone, not necessarily you, to rescue people; but sometimes the people rescued fall right back into the water again, or get pulled back by others in the mire. The lifeguards don’t seem to care much, or can’t do much about this problem. They like getting paid, though. To make matters worse, you can’t see what is going on in the booths, and you don’t know which booth your money is going to. In other words, you don’t know which lifeguard you are hiring, how efficient that person is, or whether they are acting on your payment at all. Sometimes, you notice, the lifeguards have to pay other lifeguards to even get close to the water. A corruption racket is going on as millions and millions of people cry out for help, struggling and drowning. Occasionally, a riot breaks out, total war, and even the people saved and many of the lifeguards suddenly die. Sometimes people get out of the water and proceed to throw other people into the water. In the end, these factors, and many others, make it unclear that you can do anything at all by sending money to the booths.

My purpose in offering this extensive analogy is to show that it is not easy to help starving Africans. Helping Africans, as some philosophers claim, is not at all like helping a drowning person next to your car. The above analogy, tedious though it may be, only begins to get at the complexity of the world.

And so: Life is absurd.

Those of us lucky enough to have pets and to be able to express love freely--knowing we can afford medical help for our loved ones, and food--should do so virtuously, recognizing the great gift we have been given.

At the same time, we should acknowledge how unfair our privilege is on a grand scale. Indeed, our Empire helped make us wealthy as individuals through its vicious crusades, including the exploitation of our fellow human beings.

This is just one of many absurdities we face as individuals who are part of gigantic collectives in which we feel sometimes like a single grain of sand in a dune.

Another kind of absurdity: A sudden car crash killing everyone we love. As I said, even for the middle class and the very wealthy, life can be incredibly cruel.

Ultimately, it is the absurd that will define each one of us. How does Ms. Smith deal with absurdity? How do I? How do you? I’m not coming to the table with simple answers, but I believe, in general, it is craven and immoral to plunge into denial and live selfishly.

Somehow, we have to find meaning in the grey, and also peace. I think human life is basically very hard, often more hard than wonderful. We all deserve a break. Maybe we can stare the beast of absurdity in the face, not back down, and still live well. Find some honest peace.

I myself have not found this peace in any stable measure. I shake my fist at the sky at least a few time a week, and I accuse whatever gods made us, and established us in such an absurd beautiful world, and gave us our basic natures.



Sunday, July 15, 2012

Poem: Cameo By A Stranger

Originally published in Wilderness House Literary Review.

When something like this comes to you, you can't walk away and hide, not if you're trying to be a serious poet.



Cameo By A Stranger

when someone you love ends,
she becomes your wound.
you open your poisoned mouth
to eulogize her, and wretch.

close years shared well
curdle like an infection.
you imagine yourself
retying the knot:

the feel of the cinch
on the final crane
of your rope-burnt neck.

you crave
that false liberation. to jump.
tense cities of dolls
shunt around your scared grief.

lies of living rubber
are all smiles and pep.
grids without breaking point.
no omega, no how.

the agony of your soles,
swaying like stalled
quivering pendulums--
only that exists.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Poem: Maenad In Mojave

This poem, which took over a year to craft, recently appeared in Danse Macabre, and is one of my favorites, because of the shamanic theme.

Now I'm off to LAX. I'm terrified!



Maenad in Mojave

wearing her tunic of dust,
all questions behave,
no smug elusion
or feints of babbittry.

her fissured lips
kiss rivers of croon
stolen from alkalis
and sold to coyotes
on the wind.

her nostrils brace
for whiffs of succubae:
mescaline, locoweed,
and creosote. she’s tasted
their nipples so many times,

and they, like harridan divas,
have tasted her back,
led her through claws of cholla

who hears her howl?
no Satan, Jesus or Lear.
who follows her sidewinder

troubled as they burn,
deciphering without wanting,
feeling their own sad


Monday, July 9, 2012

To understand an infinity of universes, and thus our nature, you must simply grasp that true Nothing is the beginning of all possibility.

Isis of the Swan Amaranth, Pumafire Coven

Friday, July 6, 2012

Acceptance: Hobo Camp Review

Issue 14 of Hobo Camp Review is up, and I am vastly honored that two of my poems start off the selection of great poetry. This is a special moment for Editor James H Duncan, the theme being Texas, which has deep meaning for him. The lavish interview with Michael Casares (of Carcinogenic Poetry fame) immediately brings this out.

If you haven’t heard of HCR, you are in for a great treat. Duncan has set up a dusty ambience, one that conjures images of trailside poets and homeless bards who live for nothing but a campfire, good company, and the passion of their songs and stories. He has done it just right. The journal has archetypal appeal, somehow connects with a deep need to share while at the same time acknowledging the peregrine loneliness that is inevitable, a harsh yet evocative aspect of life.

The crux of Duncan’s brilliant delineation is this: even those of us with relatively stable homes are truly hobos; and we want to be able to sit down, weary, and just let it all come out with fellow wanderers. HCR not only allows but encourages this. How rare. Hard to find among the snarled zillions of railroad tracks on the internet.

I was driven to submit to this journal after reading Duncan’s own poetry in issue #20 of Gutter Eloquence:

When an editor writes this well, we should be especially grateful that she (or he in this case) expends any energy deliberating over submissions, which can be quite draining go assess. I suppose the most magical hobo, the one we all want to saw the fiddle with, not only spins tales but listens to others with relish. Duncan does this, setting a fine example of proper rail-rambling. He offers us a place where we can be excited, exquisite, earnest and empathic as well.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Intelligence evolves in an individual, yes, but just as importantly in a civilization. At a crucial point, the intelligence evolves the civilization.

Carstina Spidersayer, Southwest Witch Of The Lazuli Coven