Thursday, May 31, 2012

When we hug our friends, our fingers don't sink into the vacuum with which all atoms are filled. If in touching their skin we are touching the void, why does it feel so complete?

Natalie Angier, The Canon

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Acceptance: Danse Macabre

The editor of Danse Macabre magazine, that living mausoleum, that outré oubliette, that Boschian panopticon, of literature and art is an absinthe-addled, Toulouse-Lautrec-stung genius who goes by the moniker of Adam Henry Carrière. The journal is an hypnotic labyrinth of rococo corridors, often Louis-the-XIV-like and heavily populated with ghoulish variants of memento mori and skeletal divinities. However, various niches, cul-de-sacs and charnel twists suffer from a lusty anachronism, and so you never know exactly what you will find in these intoxicating, gold-tongued, demented halls.

If you have no idea what I said in the above paragraph, then you understand how I feel when I visit (or, more accurately, get entrapped by) Danse Macabre. I have a PhD in philosophy and much weathered experience with stygian art, and I still have no idea how to navigate Carriére’s fantastical dungeons, either physically or conceptually. But of course I cherish the confusion. It is the essence of his genius that he keeps us readers akimbo and spinning on the carousel of craziness, and at the same time edified, enlightened, and paradoxically purged of our blights of dullness and mediocrity.

Nothing, nothing, nothing is like Danse Macabre. No one who reads poetry on the internet is a true cognoscenti of online fare until they have plunged into DM at least a few times. Carrière notified me of my acceptance in a mass email to all contributors for the upcomging issue 58, or “cinquantotto” as he refers to it somewhere. The theme is “Skin,” and the preview page I found has some nasty images from great works of classic art: lots of nudity, skulls and some flogging, too. I’m not sure which of the three poems I submitted was accepted. If I want to find out, I have to visit DM 58, which is scheduled to appear on June 1. Of course, this is one of the techniques Carrière uses to lure the unsuspecting into his dungeon.

Maybe the best way to acclimate to the DM experience is to start with the blog, which is half-sane and relatively unnerving:

Well, actually it is unnerving, but in a lesser-daemon kind of way. For instance, I scrolled down through the blog and found a vignette called “Charon” by a “Lord Dunsany.” It starts this way:

Charon leaned forward and rowed. All things were one with his weariness.

It was not with him a matter of years or of centuries, but of wide floods of time, and an old heaviness and a pain in the arms that had become for him part of the scheme that the gods had made and was of a piece with Eternity.

If the gods had even sent him a contrary wind it would have divided all time in his memory into two equal slabs.

To see my previous review of Danse Macabre, go here:

Owl's first taste

To visit the journal, go here:

The New DM Web Address

(If that doesn't work: )

Say your prayers before visiting, or you will never say them again.

And be sure to read Issue 58, due out on June 1!!


PS: If you want a hint of Carriere’s bedeviling voice, below is the acceptance letter for DM 58, if it can be called that.



Subject: Contributor Publicité - DM 58 SKIN

Dear friends,

Skin, our 58th Danse, will descend on the ether Friday 1 June ... and YOU are on the Danse card!

You will get more than your video booth's worth of the coloratura in this issue ...

We blush with pride in presenting Ellen Orner's new translation of Shostakovitch's Jewish Folk Poetry
We are seduced by new poetry from Paris by Jennifer Reeser
We unbutton fabulous fictions from Londoner Grace Andreacchi and DM du Jour's notorious Chef de partie, James Kendley
We unveil more exclusive delectations dans français et persan from Ali Abdolrezaei
We take a walk on the wild side with Boyslut's Devlin De La Chapa, Canada's Penn Kemp, and Israel's KJ Hannah Greenberg.

E più venuto!

But unwrapping the shrouds of the unearthly cannot be accomplished without your help. Your artistic endeavors help make DM the bespoke destination for coloratura letters online. In turn, the value-add of the DM brand to your oeuvre depends on your helping us spread the word beyond our thousands of monthly readers worldwide. So do unsettle those friends, family, and frenemies with unapologetic shout-outs about your tantalizing contributions this month ~ and the unrivaled buffet of the macabre in SKIN!

{And don't forget to bookmark our new address @}

We hope this finds you all in good Summer verse and the best cheer.


Adam Henry Carrière
Verleger / Herausgeber, DANSE MACABRE
An Online Literary Magazine™

New issues monthly, on first Fridays ~
... For your daily dose of the coloratura, visit DM du Jour
... Subscribe to our daily bon mots, gallimaufry, and shout-outs on The Book of Faces.

Copyright (c.) 2006 - 2012 by Adam Henry Carrière / Lazarus Publishing LLC.
All Rights Reserved.
ISSN 2152-4580


Sunday, May 27, 2012

UFO's Discuss Human Beings!

I found this on a slip of paper among some dandelions! Wow!



Excerpt from the Intergalactic Garden's Manual on Xenoforms (Seventeenth Petal Unfolding)


Human Beings

The human being, often referred to as “person” in the singular or “people” in the plural, is a stage three sentient that inhabits the planet Earth in the Milky Way. Like most stage 3 sentients they are ethically primitive, unable to prevent fear and greed from dominating their power structures. For this reason, they have entered what Aaubula Kiij refers to as the doom-singer phase of their infestation, with the chance of self-extinction hovering around 80% over the next cosmic millisecond (CM).

Predictably, the species wiped out competitors, like their fellow language-using hominid the Neanderthal, and misused their superior hunting and tool-making skills to deface and overpopulate the world that gave them so many gifts. They have also extincted many of their fellow animals and decimated the remainder. Brutal killing, torture, and abuse of animals and plants is systematic and taken for granted. The human being ascribes to the sub-philosophical notion that it “owns” the Earth, and considers itself the most important creature in the universe. Their various forms of religion focus on salvation of a small minority through unspeakable apocalypse.

Also predictably, the self-oriented male half of the people savagely mistreats and abuses the life-giving, nurturing, care-oriented female half. Byovd Vfdjkwu has argued through convincing empirical study that the males are at least two or three ethical steps behind the females. She concludes that the relative idiocy of the males will be the primary difficulty in attempting to salvage this dying, deluded species. The female, in contrast, is almost as karmically sound as some other animals on Earth, such as warblers, whales and bears. No animal on Earth has achieved the karmic superiority of some of its plant species, two notables being baobab trees and dandelions.

Needless to say, the species of people is high on the Intergalactic Garden’s list for intervention. Assimilation Scouts have already been sent to the planet, and xeno-acclimation will allow human guise in less than a CM.

Without intervention, the prognosis for the human being is as follows: pathological abuse of the lovely Earth and continued cruelty, gluttony, savagery and war--until they self-eradicate or lock into a death loop from which no progress is possible and hellish conditions erupt in short cycles. Worries at the IG are high that the human being will soon invent contagious DNA-eaters, because they are beginning to tinker with nanotechnology. If DNA-eaters are invented (in the rush to produce the ultimate weapon, for example) all life on Earth could be destroyed, including the bacterial stratum.

Fortunately, it is likely that the first DNA-eaters created by humans will only be capable of wiping out their own species. Broad spectrum DNA-eaters are technologically distant. Some in the IG recommend letting humans destroy themselves with DNA-eaters, if they design and implement this scourge themselves. Earth will then be free of the infestation, and future flourishing of this magnificent planet, rich in precious ecosystems, can be assured through IG Nurturance.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Poem: Ghost Trance

This poem was originally published in 2River View, which has been going strong for over ten years. I have been published in about 200 journals, and 2River is in my top 20 favorite acceptances of all. To see my review, go here:

2River Encomium

For an audio recording of me reading the poem (special plug-in needed):

The not-so-sonorous Owl

Thanks for gliding by!



Ghost Trance

fire ants lick
but he won’t burn, not after
decaying off minute
by year.

he’s a scaffold
where issues were hung
and the executioner
forgot to take them down.

dew for a weep,
a clutch of nettle for skin.
once a puff adder
became an arm, another time
a heron.

he judges all
from his bench of finished life,
sparing only
an ichneumon’s wing.

green and rot
kiss like horny teens
while he ages with the swamp--

of skull-backed moths
and smitten loons.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Republican Crimson Tide

Recently two of the most respected analysts of Washington government wrote a stinging Op-ed, basically stating that the GOP is dangerously divorced from reason. The title is, "Let's Just Say It: The Republicans Are the Problem." For instance:

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.

When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.

If this is true, and I think it is, the whole world should be worried. The American Empire has by far the biggest military on the planet; and the Republicans are war-happy and conscience-light. They are immune to reason, science or ethics, and they preach hatred to their followers, hatred of citizens and non-citizens outside of the 'white' male mentality that makes up the majority of the party.

it is an uneducated, angry selfish mentality, for sure, worsened by the major economic depression that has been going on since 2008. The Empire is already particularly cruel to its citizens and amazingly corrupt. For instance, the USA already pays more per capita for healthcare than any other country--and despite this vast sum, 50 million Americans cannot afford health insurance, and without health insurance, it is impossible to afford a doctor.

I'm very scared for the future of my country, especially if the Republicans gain in might. If they gain control of the US Government in November, I truly tremble for the fate of civilization. The citizens are miserable and angry, and the Republicans, in particular, are infuriated in the manner of unthinking beasts.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Capitalism Promotes Human Trafficking

To embrace ‘free market’ capitalism is to “abandon hope all ye who enter here,” to quote the inscription over Dante’s gate into Hell. The reason is that people are rigidly materialistic on this economic view. Capitalism claims that we live to seek more and more products to satisfy an endless pit of desires. This makes us interminably narrow in that ethics will always be nothing but window-dressing over our possession-bound hearts.

Those who accept this worldview scoff at the possibility of a society motivated by standards of the good, such as harmony or compassion. Because they see human rights as mere dross over insatiable ego, atrocity does not particularly shock them. They accept evil with the unflagging cynicism of a philosophy that frames human beings as grasping amoebas in the competitive petri dish of life. Psychopathy is fine on this view, as long as the psychopathic CEO or manager makes the shareholders happy. Corporations themselves are paragons of psychopathic behavior:

Psychopathy and Capitalism

It is the deadening effect of this cynicism that I want to focus on today. It kills empathy, kindness, and hope, the sort that give motivation and meaning. Those who have a different view, who see people as capable of profound decency and “fellow feeling” (to use the words of David Hume and Adam Smith) are the moral heroes who have brought about great changes: women being able to vote, the end of legal slavery, evolving standards of human rights, the enactment of equality, the dawning of green conscience, and so on.

If capitalism is a highly flawed lens, which it is, and dominates the world, which is does, our global society is training generation after generation to lock up and ignore a large portion of their brains: that portion which nourishes the will for justice, that impetus to strive for a healthier, more fair civilization.

The cynicism of raw capitalism, the sort practiced in the United States, where one out of four citizens cannot afford a doctor, is an infection that attacks not the flesh but the moral compass. The result is an entrenched cruelty, one that shames and belittles us. When we are trapped in this thought-jail, we languish below our potentials, squander our chance to serve decency and peace.

Last night I watched the movie “The Whistleblower,” a heart-rending exposé of the problem of human trafficking (based on a true story). Young girls beaten, raped, imprisoned and forced to serve as sex slaves. Some of them were murdered. The captors and torturers included the United Nations enforcers and government officials supposedly there to protect human rights.

If your empathy, compassion, and hope for justice are active, you can’t watch this sad film without being deeply moved, in such a way that you think about the problem, and are likely to talk about it (which is an important form of action), and maybe take other steps. It will stay with you, a beacon in your deep conscious, influencing your political and moral choices.

“The Whistleblower” also shines light on other horrors: ingrained domestic violence and also the demeaned status of women workers within male-led hierarchies. A caring viewer is likely to come away from this not only concerned about trafficking but also a larger picture: the general global oppression of women, which includes epidemic violence.

However, an advocate of capitalism is more likely to shrug at this evocative movie. The capitalist, per theory, argues as follows: Cruelty is unavoidable on a planet where egos fight to get all the stuff they want, which includes males craving females. Not only that, ethical principles are never going to trump the bottomless need for consumables. Justice is entirely secondary to the psychology of acquisition.

It is pathetic indeed that people who could find purpose and hope through empathy, compassion and kindness, instead have been acculturated to wither a portion of their minds. The power of capitalism is on display everywhere, blatant in the presence of thousands of advertisements, logos, and sponsorships. Insecurity is hammered continuously into the human psyche, telling us that lots of money will not only make us happy but also provides the only avenue to a good life. The sheer pervasiveness of the assault, commercials being as common as breathing, has dulled us to the wrongness of it. And of course the coup d’état, the crown of the ill ideology: if you can buy whatever you want, you have achieved the gold standard of personhood.

This mindset is perverse. It makes us act more like ants than human beings. We CAN end human trafficking. It is within our purview and potential; and in the victory against this scourge, we would advance our greatness as a species. We’ve come a long way from the days when no woman was allowed voice or education, and all women could be beaten and sold with impunity. But we have much much farther to go.

I do think a certain form of selfishness has a place (though I would prefer to call it “self-involvement”); and so I will end with an appeal to ego: If we don’t advance our ethical awareness, catch it up with our technological prowess, we are going to self-destructive in some hideous way--by fire and radiation, by nanoviruses that shred DNA, by raping our Earth bare, or maybe just by hating each other into a state of perpetual murderous war.

End of Story.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Acceptance: Offcourse: A Literary Journey

Three of my favorite creations--near the top of my list of “poems to submit”--were picked up by Ricardo Nirenberg, editor of Offcourse. This is one of my top ten favorite zines on the web, and if you want to know why, my review is below. The short version is that Nirenberg is a genius whose brilliance spring-boarded out of the realm of mathematics to encompass ethos, pathos and psyche in the realm of the literary:

Owl Reviews Offcourse

Here is something important that I have never emphasized before: The real name of this journal is something like:


At least, that’s how the editor spells it out. However, the home page has, as a header, the words Off Course, or so it seems, with the second “f” falling downward, leaving an empty f frame where it stood. In this strange picture, the falling (or fallen?) “f” seems to hook onto the word “course,” bringing the two words into connectivity. In short, the true title of this journal is mysterious, and the meaning cloaked in possibilities. The titular form is vaguely mathematical, perhaps, but most surely steeped in the semantic.

As far as I know, I am the only one to discourse on this strange aspect of Of(f)course, and to ponder the deeper meaning. Of course, there may be no deeper meaning intended in Of(f)Course. Who can say?

It’s been years since I’ve been in this journal and I am so so happy to be included again. This kind of keeps me going. And recently I was in Barnwood, another of my most beloved venues. Yay!

So many rejections, so fleeting and infrequent the pills of bliss. But they are potent!



Poems Accepted

Housing Bubble


Only Sunlight

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Release: Gutter Eloquence #21

My poem “Under a Bed” appears in this issue, which you can access here, if you like:

Gutter Eloquence Issue #21

This poem is maybe the darkest among all the 600 or so I’ve ever had published. It concerns my brother’s struggle with suicide. He died on February 4, 2000.

To read my review of the darkly courageous codex of pain known as Gutter Eloquence, and its hell-singed editor, Jack T. Marlowe, go here:

Down In the Gutter

Best to All,


PS: One of my favorite poems in the issue is "Free Coffee" by Benny Roberts, a straightforward and cutting anti-ode to life in the corporate cubicle.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Poem: Gold

Here is the second poem I read for the OWS in Maine film. It was originally published in Main Street Rag.

Thanks for reading,




shiny ugly everything,
we toil and die for you,
beg and cheat,

you dwell on rich fingers,
and jewelry,
but mostly undergound,

locked where your lusters
never draw light—
inert seeds
of sterile pomes—

in bankers’ dungeons,
bolsters of parliments,
roots of popes.

we hoard tidbits and flecks.
children with bulging ribs
are worth far less
than your excellency—

you’re greed’s tit, after all,
or perhaps an incubus
making us crave—

as if Helen
had been raped by Midas,
golden with gore.