Friday, August 29, 2014

Acceptance: The Wolf Skin

So pleased to be associated with this shamanic place steeped in primordial energies.  They took two poems, one that ignores society, and one critical of society from the vantage of nature ("Topped Off," "Clover In Sidewalk").  Much thanks to Poetry Editor Tessa Torgeson!

More than any other set of profound ideas, I admire those associated with the pre-european Native American tribes.  It is painful for me to see our society attempt to destroy this mindset.  Guns can't kill ideas but industrialization combined with competitive consumerism can relegate them to dark forgotten corners, much like fossils.

Here's part of the "About" page from The Wolf Skin:

In Shoshone mythology specifically, the wolf paradoxically represents both death and rebirth. According to legend, the trickster Coyote and Wolf had an argument about whether or not humans should live after death. Wolf insisted that he could bring a person back from the dead by shooting an arrow under him. Coyote said that men should remain dead. A few days later, he returned to Wolf because his son had been bitten by a rattlesnake and was dying. Wolf reminded Coyote of his words and refused to raise anyone else from the dead. The Shoshone claim this is how death entered the world, and that Coyote was punished for his devious ways by having his son be the first to die.

Anyway, my posts here are terse as I struggle with humanity's continued disfigurement of the planet, and the approach of robotic, cyborg, anti-animal--indeed, anti-human--ways of technological self-evolution.  On top of that my own psychological issues are flaring up.  I can sum it all up with an allegory of having to sit near a wall, knowing that it must be passed to bring health and avoid great misery.  The wall is guarded and yet the guards are in denial.  They are strong and there is no way to get them to open the one door in the wall.  They talk pleasantly and shallowly to you, as if you are insane.  "What wall?" they say with a condescending smile.

They are impervious to every attempt of logic or emotion.  And you are forced to deal with them over and over.  Should you discuss the things they want to discuss?  Or continue to try to change them?  This is what I deal with in my life, and I'm exhausted.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Acceptance: East Coast Literary Review

Editor Heather Lenoir informed me that my poems "Zephyress" and "Back Together Again" will be appearing in the Fall Issue of ECLR.  From my geezerly perspective, Editor Lenoir is a precocious youngster who recognizes the importance of both visual and verbal passion, expressed as art, for the health of community.  As with most internet zines, the sense of community she helps establish is national or even international.  We need this kind of empathy, as we are all going to swim or sink as a species, given the global hurdles we face. 

ECLR is a source of catharsis, mind-enrichment, and luscious meaning.  You get people expressing their deepest truths--painful or ecstatic.  They thereby demonstrate what we are, and what we need to express as we grapple with the dictates of society.  Society is a norm-imposing beast.  A deadening beast.  A battlefield where greed often wins and sets the rules.  We need to escape the dysfunctional locus.  We need to be more like children and also sages.  Child-like sages.  ECLR helps with that. 

Into the future we go, numb yet reckless, cocksure yet stupid.  It is a future enmeshed in so much technology and environmental upheaval that nothing can be certain.  It seems that humanity tends to hate itself, and act self-destructively.  Art and poetry, in contrast, allow us to accept each other, share, and actualize our best.  We can be ethical and mutually caring.  We can.

All these thoughts came to me while reading Editor Lenoir's zine.  Go check it out, and see what comes to you.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Acceptance: Dressing Room Poetry Journal

Editor Meg Johnson has just released the latest issue (#9) of Dressing Room Poetry Journal.  I’m emphatically thrilled that my painful poem, “Guinevere Finally Leaves” is included.   

Johnson is amazingly busy, having just received a four-course-per-semester appointment at Iowa State University.  She is also moving soon.  And her recent book, Inappropriate Sleepover, is drawing good reviews.  Furthermore, she is doing various readings--AND, of course, running her own zine!

To read more about her clock-crunched life, you can visit her blog:

In a very positive review of Inappropriate Sleepover, Hannah Stephenson writes:

In her debut collection of poems, Meg Johnson’s specialty is exposing the absurdity, humor and disturbing messaging in what we deem “sexy.” “Inappropriate Sleepover” is irrefutably funny — Johnson has a gift for timing and unexpected punchlines. But more significant, to me, is her bold examination of gender performance and objectification. These poems are littered with cast-off items of clothing and classic icons of femininity: Marilyn Monroe, Lolita, Betty Boop. If this book were sexy sweatpants (like those that appear in the book’s first poem), the back would be emblazoned with the word “subversive.”

I hope you get a chance to meander through Issue 9.  It includes some well-known poets like Kenneth Pobo, and also prodigy-level work by lesser known folks, including some new editors of new journals.  There are also two interviews:  one with Blake Lee Pate & Taylor Jacob Pate; and the other with Kristina Marie Darling, conducted by Genevieve Jencson.

I’m tremendously grateful to be included in DPJ.  Even more so since the poem selected brings solace concerning my distant past.
Best To All,


PS:  direct link to "Guinevere Finally Leaves":

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Acceptance: Halfway Down the Stairs

Editor Joseph Murphy informed me that “Desert Weeds” will be appearing in the next issue of Halfway Down the Stairs.  I’m overjoyed to become part of this beautiful journal’s repertoire.  Sharing the task of poetry editing with Joe is Roxanna Bennett.  On the masthead page, both editors present an aura of openness and healing creative energy--and this could be said of the journal in general.  The current edition, June 2014, is titled possession, and I highly recommend a perusal.

I wish I had more time to ladle praise.  Thank you so much to Editors Murphy and Bennett.  Moments of acceptance in fine journals are so very important to poets, well, at least they are to me.  My morale is a bike tire with a little hole in it, and it likes a good amount of pumping!

Best to All,


Friday, August 8, 2014

No Time Or Energy

No time or energy to say much but it seems really true:  humans are going to invent machines that become so smart they replace us.  Homo sapiens will merge with these machines willlingly, for more power and knowledge.  Our brains will become augmented by brain-like parts we create.

So, homo sapiens will be gone, due to self-deselection.  I wrote an article on this over a decade ago.

What a bizarre moment to be alive, on the edge of the end of humanity, and an era unlike anything that the Earth has seen in Her billions of years.

It's so hard to face.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Two Love Poems

Bitterzoet has launched its first anniversary issue, which includes two of my poems, one about fated love ("A Reckoning") and the second about the aftermath of love ("Med Under A Tree").  I'm honored to be included, along with a handful of other poets, in this special presentation.

Such a wonderful zine is Bitterzoet,  edited by Pattie Flint and Wes Solether.  I rave about it a bit more in my previous blog post.  To see the anniversary issue, go to Bitterzoet and click on "Current Issue"--but be sure to try some of their bonbons first (you'll see what I mean)!

Here's a direct link to the anniversary issue (might be temporary):

Best to all and thanks for reading,


Monday, August 4, 2014

Acceptance: Bitterzoet


UPDATE:  there is another jazzy cool perceptive editor at Bitterzoet, Pattie Flint.  So, Wes Solether is not undertaking the great project of this wondrous zine all alone. 


I have a number of poetry acceptances I haven’t blogged about yet, because I have been busy taking up my novel once again.  During June and early July, I was teaching a summer course, which prevented me from working on the novel, and yet, as a result, opened up time for poetry.  I can do poetry and teach, but the novel and teaching are more tricky, especially with intensive summer courses.  Why the ease of writing poetry compared to the novel?  The watered-down answer is that the novel requires more areas of my brain, including those that have to do with memory and organization.

Anyway, my poetry flourished for a while, but now the novel is taking over again, and I don’t even have time to blog, it feels, about poetry acceptances.  I am quite out of sorts about this, because the editors of these journals deserve recognition  One of my acceptances recently was from Bitterzoet, a cool, jazzy perceptive journal, run by an editor with exceptional social flair.  His name is Wes Solether.  I loved the comfortable easy feel of the acceptance letter, which I will share here.  It’s one of my favortie acceptance letters ever.  Most of these letters, in fact, are a pretty dry and dull affair--but not those of Editor Solether!  So:


Dear [Owl Who Laughs],

Thank you for sending us your work. It was delicious, and we'd love to publish "A Reckoning" and "Med Under a Tree" in our monthly webzine! Feel free to dance or yell. (We won't tell anyone.) You deserve a pat on the back, you amazing writer, you.

We'll contact you later with more details and formatting questions. For now, tell someone you love them and listen to this: Thanks again!

Oh and one last thing: if you've got a Duotrope account, please submit a submission report for us here: We want your success story to encourage others!

Follow us on Facebook and twitter too:

Thanks again.
Wes Solether
Bitterzoet Magazine


I just realized I never wrote him back to acknowledge the acceptance!  I better go do that.  Thanks for reading, and I will announce some other acceptances fairly soon.

And Dear Wes Solether, please keep being you and sending out the vibes.  Here's a favorite of mine:

Best To Everyone in the All that is This,


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Camping Screed

I wrote this by hand on paper while camping, way out in the woods.

Best to All,



When we last left our hero he was sitting on the outermost outskirts of the ailing US Empire in one of the last undeveloped regions of its eastern seaboard.  Surrounded by the vast miraculous beauty of a landscape at least vaguely akin to what the long extinct sabertooths and giant sloths saw, he pondered an injury of several months ago, which had altered his mobility, perhaps forever, and struggled to be deep.  It was easy to get lost in petty reflections and frivolous musings, not to mention the urge to masturbate--in fact, he knew he was a bit of ephemera on a planet that was changing at a very alarming speed thanks to the advance and abundance of humanity, currently teeming on a saturated globe, their selfishness stoked by capitalism and technology, and the fears and material urges thus magnified.  Well, there was nothing he could do about it, though there was always good cause to fret.  Due to global warming, caused by coal plants and cars (and the methane farting out of cattle asses) many big cities would be heading underwater--but for half the people, the Republicans, it was too painful to face so they made up reasons to hate the other half of the people, the Democrats who kept annoying them with facts.  Indeed, a psychological diametric had taken hold in which half the people believed one list of things and the other half believed another such list, and the two lists contradicted each other point by point.  Every night and every day it went on and on, going nowhere while the sea kept rising up and the status of human beings as dignified creatures went down and down (actually, our hero thought this had bottomed up some time ago).

With the stupidity of humanity almost incontrovertible (there was always a large reserve of genocides, wars, inquisitions, oppressions, and run-of-the-mill rapes and violence to fall back on, along with the associated miasmas of denial and fanaticism), there was little hope for the benevolence of the Creator.  In vogue in realms cosmological of late was the theory of infinite random universes, obviating the need for any sort of Creator, intelligent or not.  Any hope for a Good God/dess was desperate relying on polytheism and balancing the atrocious state of affairs with the admittedly amazing aspects of life.  How this good deity cohabitated with those monstrous was pretty much beyond reckoning, requiring a leap of faith that would make a stylite ecstatic.  You had at least a hypothetical archetypal standard of Good, measurable in various ethical ways, say by contrasting freedom with slavery--and yet this hypothetical was a pretty lonely place.  Someday humans--or whatever humans turned themselves into by combining with machines--might invent an angel by filling a robot  with the right kind of advanced software, tantamount to the  best of the brain; but it seemed more likely they would invent the Devil first.  In fact, Dostoevsky had said that, if the Devil did not exist, people would have to create him.  And so far that had proved resoundingly true.

So what to do, how to be, and what could really matter?  Dumb apes had evolved with forelobes just large enough to create outliers:  the rare inventors and thinkers, who managed--sometimes--to tweak reality--but the stupidity at the core of the collective human beast remained.  Ants were as adaptive as humans and even had farms and advanced ventilation, disposal and social systems.  Individually an ant and a typical human were pretty much the same--born into a framework of inculcated habits--these were effective, true, but substantially rote.

Faced with a big dumb stubborn mass driven by a few outliers, mainly rich people and the geniuses they tapped, there was little our hero--or anyone--could do to shift the momentum of fate.  Even the powerful rich people driving the herd were prisoners of the collective ideology, which was yet another manifestation of the old greed-and-peasantry thing.  All you really could do was throw out sparks of wisdom and hope, somehow, a fire got lit, and that it erupted into a transformational conflagration.  And so, our hero wrote and wrote, but he had the feeling something was still missing--and what that something was, he did not know, or was too scared to face.

He wiped a swatted mosquito off the paper, dodging its smear with his pen (not!) and reflected on whether Buddhist compassion allowed the swatting of mosquitoes.  The Native Americans seemed to have it more right, but that was a pathetic generalization over a thousand separate cultures; and appeals to shamanism as understood through his eurocentric upbringing would be similarly flawed.  Nevertheless, spirit guides seemed the way to go.  Jungian archetype sort of things, but less lofty.  Beings perhaps like earthy guardian angels, intimate and personalized.  Such spirit guides could be purveyors of the Good, allies in seeking it and so on.  In fact, he didn’t know where the poems he wrote came from, or even the screed he was currently penning--so it all kinda made sense.  Whether the spirit guides were separate entities or parts of his own mind was irrelevant, at least until he died, and then he’d know the difference--or not.

He invited his guides to watch over and guide him, and help him seek the Good, what else to do?  There was compassion below it all, call it Buddhist or Christian or whatever, and yet as soon as you labeled it, people grew possessive and standoffish and fought those who labeled Compassion differently, and then none of them ended up with any Compassion for any of the others, except in the “I had to kill them to save them!” kind of way.

So, he kept it at the meta-religious level, the generic, so everyone could agree and enjoy and be Compassionate to each other and seek, through whatever God or guide they desired--

The Good.