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 Xenith.net





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