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.