Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Acceptance: River Poets Journal

I'm very pleased that my shamanic poem, "Words of a Stone In a Dream" was accepted by this fine aesthetic journal, run beautifully by Judith Lawrence.


Now please excuse me while I continue mope and fret about the decline of the American Empire, which hardly lasted long enough to ascend in the first place.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Release: Rufous City Review #7


Awesome editor Jessica Bixel has released RCR 7, which includes my painful poem "Violent Side." It is very different than "Red Squirrel," which I announced yesterday in a different venue.

I guess, if asked, I go with werewolf over vampire. Which would you choose?

My head is going back in the sand now. Thanks for stopping by.


PS: If you want to read more about Rufous City, just type it into this blog's search box and my previous reviews and praise will come it. In short, it's a great journal with the added bonus of killer artwork.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Release: Bolts of Silk


My poem "Red Squirrel" is currently featured at Bolts of Silk, one of my favorite international magazines. Nineteen of my poems are available at the site.

Speaking as someone who has studied ethics extensively (that is, I teach ethics) I will commit to saying that the editor of this journal, Juliet Wilson, is one of the most ethical people I know. She's a true leader for the protection of Earth, the wonder of its animals, and the majesty of ecosystems. If we were all like her, we wouldn't be on the verge of self-inflicted doom.

Well, back to my hibernation. I've been keeping my head it the sand. It's all too painful to face.

Go Write Something,


PS: Heck, I can't help but give a little jab: The fact we are so close to wiping each other out, that we have despoiled the beauty of our planet so selfishlessly, recklessly, and brutally, doesn't that prove human beings are stupid?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Published in The Portland Review!!!

Finally the three poems I had accepted by TPR long ago have come to light, as featured offerings no less, the only new fare in the online aspect of this venerable (can you say, founded in 1957) journal. Based on previous entries in TPR's blog-format, my work will probably be at the top, on solo display, for at least a week, maybe more. The long brow-knotting wait was absolutely worth it!


The poems went up yesterday, and already one of them has 21 likes. Yowza, that number is inconceivable to me (in counterbalance, let me point out that the other two poems have four and one likes respectively). I feel as if, for a brief moment, my ouevre has been showcased on a major stage, Ryan Seacrest somewhere near, burbling.

Moments like this are exceedingly rare. When was the last time I was published in a golden era, blue chip journal?


Esoteric Owl trivia: In 2004, five of my poems were included in that almost peerless journal which published Sylvia Plath and many others, Chelsea.


In my own little world of toil, fussing over disorganized reams of half-edited poems, this is a milestone. And yet, of course, it would be foolish to gloat (for more than a day or two anyway ...) because life goes on, the glory fades, no book contract emerges, no call on the phone from some philanthropist: you write five drafts and edit dozens of poems a week? Wow, Here's my donation, you're a god!

It just is what it is.

Probably more than anything, this kind of publication is a danger. It could make me egotistical (witness this blog post); it could distract my concentration, tincture me petty, as if the world owed me.

(Heck, the world probably owes all of us; along with its ecstasies and miracles, it's a very unfair, mean and disturbing place--but that's another blog entry).

Seriously, if your primary reason for writing is to be recognized, you are missing the real power of poetry: to channel deep, provide a gateway for a voice that isn't really you, it is something that reaches paper if you have made yourself available by going into your pains, fears, joys ... Secret doors in your agonized heart open, things come out.

And in this, I believe, there is Good.


PS: A very special and extreme thank you to Chief Editor Sarah Marshall and Poetry Editor Sara J Sutter for working with me to get this done. They will always be heroes in the insular mythology of my little life.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Acceptance: The Vein


When I go to duotrope to research zines for submissions, a daunting obstacle awaits: a withering wall of venues, thousands spanning minutes of scroll. What to do? Or, in the language of literary geekdom: What is first base of the heuristic for bliss?

Sometimes it’s all in a name. One journal among dozens can pull your eye, sweat the pads of your fingertips, spur that first palpitation. That is exactly what happened to me when I noticed “The Vein” lurking in duotrope’s dizzy columns. Call it psychic, call it guess, call it childhood predisposition, for whatever reason I asked myself, do I like that name? and 'myself' responded


Something about mainlining various designer emotions, or the raw armature of the pleasure-passion zone, or the exquisite lattice of a crimson spider web, which captures human sin and agony, holds them spread-eagle so they can’t hide.

Yeah, The Vein!

It was perfect and I was not disappointed. Following in the footsteps of jagged mags like Gutter Eloquence, Rufous City Review, amphibi.us, xenith.net, Kill Poet, Danse Macabre, and so on, The Vein is not treading lightly. It is stomping, it is jerking, it is whirling in spiked tarantella.

The Vein grabs your aorta and squeezes. It publishes the kind of intensity that most humans, cowered by the world’s vicious contraries, run away from, donning the cloth of the sheep.

The Vein’s poems are painful, ecstatic, monstrous and mind-warping. The editor (who maintains anonymity on the site) wrote in the acceptance letter that certain psy-ops were useful to keep from going insane while sorting through all this dark honest stuff.

It’s not gore we’re talking. It’s not friday-night with Jason. It is much more truthful than that. Soul sweet. The Vein doesn’t entertain you more than it liberates you from the defense mechanisms that prop the fluffy materialistic Matrix.

I’m taking the plunge and buying a copy of the debut 2011 print issue. I never buy poetry zines. Never. But this one could be a classic. The only question is whether I can somehow get the editor to give me an address, so I can have the copy signed.

I don’t even have money for spaghetti, and I’m buying this.

The editor accepted “Hit” and “Booby Trapped.” These were hell to write, especially the latter. When I wrote “Booby Trapped” I think I must have felt the way Goya did when he painted Saturn Eating His Children on his living room wall.

If you dare to be vulnerable, The Vein will find your essential artery, so turn your computer into a syringe and take the plunge.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Acceptance: ucity review

ucity review attracted me right away with the simple aesthetic of its home page, which translates (in my mind at least) into mathematical purity and clutterless grace. The editors prefer a slant I use in my poetry: minimal use of capitals, even in proper nouns or the title of the journal itself. Contributors are listed entirely in lowercase. To me, the ambience has the beauty of a reality-cracking equation, for example: E=mc2

Aside from that, the poetry is stellar. One of my criterion for bliss is the imprimatur of a certain virtuoso: J.P. Dancing Bear, editor of the American Poetry Journal and all-round mighty force in the flux of the literary universe. If his work appears in a journal, it is most likely a quality venue. Dancing Bear is fairly prolific, gets published often, and so it is not rare to find him while surfing the zine scene; however, he is discriminating, and I’ve found his taut crystalline poetry to be a handy guide.

If you check out the latest issue of ucity, you’ll see the work of another APJ editor, James Cihlar, and, whoa man, his pieces are mind-blowingly good. Some of it is pretty sexed up too. Talented intense hot. You'll want to check this out if you're not afraid of a dash of concupiscience.

Yes, wander around the literary boulevards of this university city and you’ll be well-rewarded. I am honored that my poem “Mist Cleanse” will appear in a future issue. As a bonus, I was informed that I might receive print copies, an unexpected treat not listed under the submission guidelines! If I do get hard copies, I will distribute them to various aficionados and editors, and maybe even leave one in a conspicuous place in the local library, and a coffee shop or two (yes, there are coffee shops around, though a moose wandered down our driveway recently, and last week a raccoon).

Where is ucity located geographically? If you google “ucity” a couple of options pop up. Fortunately, the home page provides a very helpful clue involving a Catalpa Park and a Del Mar Blvd.

Google those up and see what you get ;)

The editors of this formidable journal are Andrew Cox and Lisa Sass. Their link page offers an eclectic selection of magazines, including the nouveau bizarre like Octopus and Diagram but also less esoteric yet masterful sites such as 2River View. It will be interesting to see where they take us in the future. Personally, I hope they go for a hybrid approach.

Ethereally Yours,


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Danger and Doom of Denial

A Flaw In the Human Psyche

The flaw in the human psyche I want to talk about today is denial: the ability to hide from pain by refusing to believe painful things, even though they are absolutely obvious and rational. An example is someone refusing to believe their child is dead, even though the body has been recovered and verified. No matter what evidence you present to such a person, they will explain it away, because it conflicts with what they want (or need) to believe.

Denial, as you might imagine, has been selected by evolution as a handy survival tool. In the above example, the person who lost their child is able to go on, to persevere through life; they are not ready to face a major agony that could cripple or kill them. Maybe someday they will be ready, and their denial will crack. in this sense, denial can be part of a healthy process.

Life, sadly, is full of extreme stressors that we cannot prevent, such as death and also the haphazard cruelties of nature, such as earthquakes and disease. The seemingly inevitable cruelty of our fellow humans also dogs and disgusts us.

How to deal? One way is to believe there is a perfect place, a heaven, where all is regained. This belief must be very very strong to actually be convincing; in other words, you must go into a state of denial about the obvious truth: from a position of reason, logic or just common sense, there is no all-powerful good God who invents such a place.

Indeed, it is impossible to reconcile the existence of such a God with the extreme and wanton wickedness of the world: lions eating baby gazelles, plagues wiping out even the most innocent children.

Theologians have been trying for millennia to logically defeat what is often called “the argument from evil"; but it is inconceivable that omniscient omnipotent gods would create an imperfect, savage and torturous world in which their beloved creatures drudge, suffer, agonize, and die.

There is even a name for the sort of argument that has futilely been used to challenge the presence of so much misery and travail: “theodicy.” No theodicy has ever succeeded in overcoming the clear logic: A benevolent god and so much built-in evil cannot coexist.

The only way to overcome the argument from evil is to use faith. Believe, on faith, that there is a good and caring god and that heaven awaits the faithful. A latin name for this ancient strategy is credo quia absurdum (I believe because it is absurd).

And that’s where denial comes in. Intense faith requires that you enter a state of denial which renders you immune to the evidence, immune to rationality, immunity to anything at all, even emotional pleas by those closest to you--anything that challenges your intransigent belief system.

Denial gives you a palladium that protects you from the great and terrible pains of death, accident, disease and so on. But, and here’s the kicker, at what price?

Indeed, that is key: At what price?

I think anyone who has read this far has a pretty good idea of the awful answer. And so I am going to leap impetuously to a related topic, another kind of denial, which shows why we can’t afford denial anymore.

Powerful scientific evidence, many years of it, shows that human activity is changing the Earth in ways dangerous to our lives and the lives of many of our fellow creatures as well. For instance, a study came out recently showing that the ocean’s plankton are seriously diminished, down by as much as a factor of five. The plankton are what give us oxygen. Without them, our lungs starve. This and other scientific experiments reference global warming and show a panoply of devastating hazards that await us.

On top of this, more scientific study shows that we are rapidly heading toward a “bottleneck” in terms of our resources and food supply, as the human population marches toward nine billion or more, political turmoil increases, water supplies dry up, and so on.

What does the Republican leadership of the United States, that big empire, the most powerful and wealthy country in the world, think of all this? They think that scientists across the world are involved in a liberal conspiracy.

That’s it. All the evidence, all the study, all the meticulous scientific methodology of years, even decades, has been eliminated as a threat to their political platform.

What is their basis for the accusation of a global conspiracy? Nada. Well, there is Rush Limbaugh, a demagogic radio show host. And there is also a media conglomerate owned by a billionaire, Rupert Murdoch. And there is half a billion dollars put into propaganda by the oil, electric and coal companies. And so on. You get the picture.

Lesson: helping others maintain their denial is a good way to make a lot of money.

Denial has worked in the evolutionary scheme because it inoculates against the worse kinds of mental anguish. However, it is clearly an inefficient strategy. Witness all the carnage and mayhem from holy wars, genocides, inquisitions and so on.

Today, in our globally linked world, if we destroy ourselves as a species through war or environmental collapse, the ultimate reason will be none other than: the psychological mechanism of denial.

Evolutionary strategies that worked in the past did not take into account the presence of nuclear weapons, or occur on a planet crowded and colonized by a single species of primate.

So the question becomes, how do we deal with denial? As Robert McNamara says, reflecting on the 'fog of war,' but in a way pertinent what I will call the ‘fog of massive swarms of humanity’: “Rationality cannot save us.”

Place a clear, impeccable, undeniable argument, backed by perfect evidence, before a highly intelligent person in denial--

And they deny it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Release: Offcourse #49


Offcourse, that outstanding and long-standing journal of literary might, run by an emeritus math professor turned metaphysical sage and mind-bending writer, and also his trusty and fastidious companion "isabel," has released its fabulous forty-ninth.

Don't miss out!

Included are three of my poems, and somewhere in one of them is my favorite word, "fainéant." Well, not my absolute favorite, but one of the best words, because I wish it applied to me.

But no. And yet, yes, go visit this journal. Another plus is the fine social commentary, the sort that keeps the UFO's from thinking humanity is nothing but idiocy, a planetary infection of cerebral sludge.

To see my original review, go here:

Mysterious Genius

To see my musings on the illuminati-like encryptions in the title page of this mysterious journal, here:

The power of parentheses and sly graphics

Happiness to all, bonzai blessings, kum-ba-ya, and all that,


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Our relationship to the program

As virtual reality proceeds, it becomes feasible that our world is of such nature, only more advanced. If so, we operate within the same context as an exquisite computer game, and the question arises: what is our relation to the program?

Wolf Who Brings Rain, 6SQ4 (Sixth Shaman of Quadrant Four)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My Poem Featured at Danse Macabre du Jour!!!

Yes, Yes ... YES!!! My universe has curved around to an exceptionally strange synchronicity.

A poem I workshopped at poetrycoop.com -- in a four-week intensive led by Black-eyed Susan , a brilliant writer and artiste, not to mention a Madam at the Chicago Poetry Brothel -- has come to be featured by that devilish rapscallion and maestro of darkness, Adam Henry Carrière. He featured it on Danse Macabre du Jour, a blog associated with that scary yet scintillant literary journal of his own nefarious design Danse Macabre.

The poem is “MDE” and you can find it featured here:

MDE does the ergot waltz

To learn more about the Chicago Poetry Brothel and its Poetry Whores, including Black-eyed Susan, go here:

Bordello of sibilant eloquent sirenity

To read my poems in issue 58 “Skin” of Danse Macabre, go here (warning: nudity, skulls, flogging):


(note the poems in 58 are titled "Maenad in Mojave" and "Toothbrush")

Black-eyed Susan is intimately affiliated with the brilliant and masterful journal Arsenic Lobster. Wouldn’t it be superlative if Arsenic Lobster and Danse Macabre somehow united for brief tryst? This is all pure speculation on my part, and highly unlikely. Even if they did come together, the powerful energies would be unstable and likely to cause some kind of devastating cerebral explosion in the audience.

But because my “MDE” has touched both worlds, I can say, at least theoretically and ethereally: "Monsieur Carrière, my pleasure to introduce Black-eyed Susan!"

Owl (aka Mr. Much Ado About Nothing)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Acceptance: Rufous City Review

RCR is a journal I greatly admire. Non-frilly, high impact poems that walk your mind along a fine edge of pith and momentum. This kind of poetry--concise yet so well wrought you don’t notice the concision--fails if you fall off the taut high wire constructed by the wordsmith. You must get exhilarated, scared, enthused and saddened without ever plunging off into disappointment.

This is the RCR way, and sure enough Lead Editor Jennifer Bixel seems to painstakingly choose what poems get accepted and thereby earn a building permit within the darkish, ensorcelling City. Although she took my piece “Violent Side” for the next issue, I was informed in the personalized letter that she wasn’t entirely pleased. The stanzas were adjective heavy. Line breaks weren’t stellar. Fortunately the ending was a good surprise, which tipped the balance my way. I danced for joy when I read this; and yet the hairs on my arms were quivering, as if I had almost, yet not quite, met instant doom on the grill of a speeding getaway sedan, a black Cadillac El Dorado. Or was it a 2 million dollar Lamborghini? You never know what you'll find in RCR.

Let's get philosophical. Editors have to develop their own ‘voice of appraisal.’ Imagine you are an editor. Do you accept only those poems that please you across a spectrum of literary and personal standards? Or do you accept poems that, in some ways, do not completely zing the strings of your aesthetic? I don’t think there is a right answer to these questions, or to the similar questions that can be derived from these two basic styles.

However, as I said in my response to Ms. Bixel, I think editors (and poets) who take chances and go out of their comfort zone are effectively gaining opportunities, whether or not most of those opportunities pan out. Of course, editors who see flaws yet still seriously consider such poems are putting extra cerebral flex into the process, which is noble. It is also generous, I think, and indicates a dynamic and daring ‘voice of appraisal.’

Anyhoo, I am most thrilled and grateful to be included in RCR again. I'm experiencing a bitter-mostly-sweet sense of deja vu, because, as on this occasion, I barely made it in the first time.

I absolutely encourage all pursuers of good poetry to visit. You will find fantastic literary journeys in RCR, succinct ones that somehow take you across light years, and which also, unbelievably, keep you on the high wire of wow.


PS: Did I mention that the art and photography, especially on the cover, is always great?

PPS: For my previous entry on RCR, go here:

Owl glides labyrinthian boulevards