Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pushcart Prize Nomination

I was notified by Jessica Bell, editor par excellence at Vine Leaves Journal, that my contribution, "Hiroshima Shadow" has been nominated for the Pushcart. This is exceedingly rare for me. My poems tend to be taut and finely tuned, but relatively short, and they have trouble competing with more sustained voices. However, I finally paired with an editorial team that deeply appreciates the incisive pangs of emotion I weave into my meticulous brevity.

This is a very special moment for me. "Hip hip hooray" falls far short of my exuberant gratitude.

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to the Vine Leaves muses!!!


PS: For more on Vine Leaves, please see my previous post.

PPS: "Hiroshima Shadow" is an anti-war poem, which makes this nomination even more special.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Vine Leaves Best of Anthology, 2013


On December 1, Vine Leaves Journal will release its Best of 2013 Anthology. I’ve seen the proofs, and I’m more than honored that my poem, “Hiroshima Shadow” starts off the entire collection on page one. When I expressed my gratitude for this, one of the editors told me it was her favorite poem of the entire year! Speaking of the editors, there are two of them, Jessica Bell and Dawn Ius. They have done a fantastic job rocketing Vine Leaves up the Duotrope.com charts, where it sits near the top of the list of journals receiving the most submissions. This is an outstanding feat, given that the Leaves have only been trellising since 2012.

To read my previous thoughts (basically a review) of Vine Leaves, go here:


Obviously I’m rushing to buy this anthology mainly out of pride (I get so many rejections that any acceptance reinvigorates me, even more when my work is featured), but one special thing about the style of Bell & Ius is their masterful fusion of art and literature into a syncretic whole, a formidable emotional journey through strands of woven media. The preview I’ve seen of the ‘Best Of’ anthology promises all this, and on a grander scale. It would be a superlative choice for any collection of cutting-edge magazines.

Regarding “Hiroshima Shadow,” it was created in a workshop, run by Lissa Kiernan, at the Poetry Coop. The title of the workshop was “Unbecoming Numb: Nuclear Poetics.” And I believe she is offering it again, in May 2014. This is one of the best workshops I ever took, and I highly--extremely--recommend it. Visit poetrycoop.com for more info.

Fly Well In the Dark,


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Poem: Samhain Prayer

Here is the Samhain Prayer I post every year, edited again!

May your New Year be happy and meaningful.



Samhain Prayer

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

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

Let us hope that care trumps greed, and soon no one shall hoard wealth and ignore starving ribs.

Let us hope that swaggering tongues yield to wide ears, and the soft-spoken are honored rather than circumvented.

Let us hope that fanatics falter in power, and all gods are validated except those who seek to be the only one.

Let us hope that our leaders stop spitting terror out of angry mouths; and misled flocks stop kneeling before them in collars of fear.

Let us hope that all cultures mingle and mate in spiritual companionship. Should not all of us be lovers in this interlaced sense?

Let us hope that the light of education burns through webs of ignorance, freeing untold numbers of heart-led wings.

Let us hope that denial and discord melt into delight, and that we see as children again, with tears in our eyes; for 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 that infects us 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: “consumers” who rush into Discount Hives where nothing is made with love.

Let us simply breathe, and realize what a treasure that one breath is, more than any ingot or jewel.

Are we not all winners in that most important lottery of all: the journey of Life.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Featured: Ink, Sweat and Tears

My poem "To Be a Fly" is currently featured at the excellent UK zine, Ink, Sweat and Tears. I'm ultra honored. My eyes misted up when I saw it. You'll see why it is so personal and cathartic for me.

Teleport to IST!

Many, many thanks to hard-working, alone-at-the-helm editor, Helen Ivory. She does a great job running this long-standing, well-known oasis of phrase. Her careful choice of this particular piece has made a lasting glyph on totem pole of my soul.

I'm returned from a three-day backpack, and exhausted. But so happy now.


PS: Here is the direct link (Oct 17) to the poem:


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Poison and Antidote

I'll be enclosed in my shamanic prayers over the next few days, in the woods, and won't be posting here or anywhere.

There is a poison of hate in this country, which has blended with a mindset of ignorance. I will be praying that the infection does not spread, and that it can eventually be cured, through compassion and reason, someday.

It may be that we are in for very difficult times. Remember, you are special in yourself, be good to yourself and let that goodness flow forth to the world, in whatever way you are called. There are infinite avenues. Some are yours and yours alone.

Also, appreciate the vast beauty of the universe, which manifests in the smallest thing.

Best of luck to all! You are part of my prayers!


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Racism, Elites, and the Tea Party

There are surely many valid lenses to study the Tea Party phenomenon, but I would like to focus here on the interaction of greed and racism. The basic idea is simply that, after WWII, America’s huge concentration of wealth gave greed much power to overwhelm the virtues emphasized during the Great Depression, virtues such as humility and frugality. As greed grew in social force, those who rose to the top of the economic ladder tended to focus more on accumulation and power than the good of the whole.

What we see in the Tea Party is the culmination of a wealth-making strategy, a political platform that seeks to maximize corporate “freedom” while minimizing government--and, importantly, this is wedded to a certain brand of social policy, the sort that preys on white fear of those who are not white, and especially black people, who have never been allowed to assimilate in the way that, for instance, the irish and the italians have.

This marriage of corporate privilege with social policies that harness, often subconsciously, the infectious psychic energy of racism has successfully taken over the minds of a large chunk of Americans, maybe around 20% (those who still approve of Republicans in the latest polls). This is no small feat of propaganda, and requires a vast mind-control machinery. And, of course, that is exactly what we see today in the presence of Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and the many other media outlets controlled by 21st Centurty Fox (formerly News Corp). Sitting on the back of this octopus, in the saddle, is one man, Rupert Murdoch.

Add propaganda outlets controlled by other moguls, such as the oil baron Koch brothers, who want more “freedom” for corporations, and the effect is truly Orwellian.

Greed harnesses racism (and sexism) to serve the unhealthy hunger of the rich. But the mind control has lost control by (a) creating a fanatic sea of followers, (b) toppling the economic stability of the country through the short-term, myopic grasping that accompanies an obsession for more and more (the Monopoly Game syndrome). No one is psychological healthy in this dynamic, neither the wealthy masters nor the hate-stoked masses.

The lesson here is that greed should never be allowed to get the upper hand over basic ethical considerations. Equality, human rights, fairness. The denigration of schools and universities is a symptom of this. It is the victory of ignorance over the light of education. Once the light of education is defeated, all kinds of delusions trot out. And no matter how absurd they are, these delusions are fully professed with glistening eyes. Things like: global warming is not human-caused; gays are evil; the 50 million Americans who can’t afford a doctor are to blame for their own fate; helping the rich directly will indirectly help us all.

History tells us that entire cultures can embrace, with fervor, large ‘realities’ that are not only false but gravely unjust. It also tells us that reason can possibly prevail, after long and difficult struggle. Let’s hope this current crisis, of such terrible magnitude, turns out for the best. I don't know what else to say.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

David Horsey On the Tea Party

David Horsey's article, along with this image he drew, express well why the Tea Party/GOP is fully to blame for the looming disaster. In opposition to everything the Tea Party represents, this is not the time for denial, narcissism, evident racism, or idiot bravado. America could soon take a steep slide down the ladder of power and health into great misery.

The Empire, steeped in greed and materialistic ego for decades, is going down fast. The 2008 recession, apparently, was just the first throes of the regicidal convulsion.

Read the article here and get a better view of the image here:



If you've ever wondered how someone completely out of touch with reality can bend the minds of those around them to join the effective psychosis, you need look no further than our own dysfunctional national family -- we are all going down together on this.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Release: Samizdat Lit Journal, 09.2013 -- Erasures

Check out my conformity-busting poem "Over Cocktails" in the ultra-cool and incisive journal Samizdat. Do you know what samizdat means? Hint: it is a word of subversion, one that invokes images of underground justice, especially in police states. You can quickly find out more at the site:



Jeff Von Ward is the Managing Editor of this special venue, where brilliance and justice join hands sub rosa. He makes sure every poem is accompanied by an artistic visual. The visual with "Over Cocktails" is extra impressive. It is an electric sign, majorly phallic in shape, with the word "COCKTAILS" coursing through its bright neon! Even better, the poem positioned below mine (the format is tri-column, with the columns stacked down to who knows where) is titled "Lust" by Sumana Roy, who is an exceptional and candid writer.

Caution: the landscape at Samizdat shifts as new poems are added. Currently my piece is in the second tier, but any new additions could push it into the third tier, and might well displace it above its happy perch on "Lust." Just keep scrolling.

You don't want to miss this journal, trust me. I love the ambience, the ethos, the general trend of the poetic content--everything, including the awesome font.

Kudos and hoots to Editor Von Ward for making Samizdat a true and original nexus of excellence.


PS: direct link to my poem:



Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Poem: Shutdown

I’ve never posted a poem I’ve written just minutes before on this blog--until now. But, my friends, these are momentous times. An extremist right-wing faction believes that Obamacare is destroying America, and they are willing to destroy America to stop it. They are deluded, of course. But the fact is, delusions can and do grip millions of people in the blindness of hysteria. We tend to forget this ugly historical fact. And our mainsteam media, of course, never refers to the Tea Party as a group so out of touch with reality that they are delusional.

But they are.

And they have enough power, unless the rest of the Republicans stand up to them, to carry out the threat impelled by their delusion. They will bring America down, if they can. The key date is only a couple of weeks away, when America will, if they can make it happen, default on its debts.

Be aware, my friends. This is a very serious, very sad, very exigent time. Do not be complacent. Act. But do not give in to hate.




the heavy ugliness
of what was happening lacked sense.
but the facade of law
had been convincing.
and the lies so well written,
they dreamed.

and it wasn’t possible
to stop it now. emotions, it appeared,
just like meteors,
kept momentum.
and crowds subsumed
the fragile rational voice.

angels would go down
alongside the worst,
and children who never
had a chance, and monuments
to beautiful ideals
strangled long ago.

blamed someone else,
and though some of them were right,
in the fury and the woe
and the hateful ignorance
it didn’t matter.