Friday, October 15, 2010

A Quick Poem For You and News of Some Upcoming Posts

Hi everybody. Long time no see. I had visitors for a week, I got behind on Night Train, the kids got sick all at once, and here I am, with no posts for a while except my self-puffery, which I'm trying to avoid (but no one else will do it; see my dilemma?).


I've been trying to restart my poetry engine by going back and forth between new-to-me poets and standbys. I'll have a short review or commentary on Drought Resistant Strain, poetry by Mather Schneider and possibly another, on an anthology called New European Poets, up on the blog soon. The latter will be a little slower in coming because I have to rethink my approach to 'criticizing' poetry, not just because of this book, but mostly. See, I'm ignorant of a lot of contemporary European poetry (among many other things), and it's so different in some ways from American poetry it's as if the two barely communicate--or have communicated--at all. And I want to communicate, in my own work, which is not the goal for some poets. I want the interplay of culture-clash and languages and class division, the red meat of the thing, whatever it happens to be. I want its skin off and guts on display so I can haruspicate. In short, I don't want to be ignorant of, well, anything, really, but poetry for sure. Dumb I can handle--not much choice in the matter-- redneck I was born with--but I sure as hell don't have to be ignorant. Anyway. Below is my favorite Frank Stanford poem. I've posted it before but I don't care. It does everything I want a poem to do.



Hidden Water/Frank Stanford

A girl was in a wheelchair on her porch
And wasps were swarming in the cornice

She had just washed her hair
When she took it down she combed it

She could see
Just like I could

The one star under the rafter
Quivering like a knife in the creek

She was thin
And she made me think

Of music singing to itself
Like someone putting a dulcimer in a case

And walking off with a stranger
To lie down and drink in the dark







P.S. after the fact: I'm not entirely ignorant of European literature. I have my own little obsessions, such as poets from the Russian-bloc countries of the Cold War, and some Soviet-era samizdat, thanks to a proselytizing teacher, Bernie Koloski, now retired from Mansfield University and the summer honors program I got kicked out of in the late 80s. But that's not much for a practicing writer and sometime academic.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Redneck Poems is Released


Hey--some biggish news today. My free e-book/chapbook is available now. It's called Redneck Poems and it's part of the MiPOesias Chapbook Series. It's available for free via Issuu and Scribd, and in print (free on iPad) for a small fee via Magcloud. It's even on Goodreads if you should find it in your heart to rate or review it: Goodreads. It's my first poetry chapbook and I hope you like it. If you do, lemme know. If not, don't harsh my buzz. Just kidding. If you tell me it sucks, though, I'll probably ball up for 15 or 16 hours and then kill something cute like a bunny. Just an FYI.

Friday, October 1, 2010

New E-Chap from Kyle Hemmings: Avenue C

I've known Kyle's writing for some time now--and was lucky enough to publish a couple stories--and he never fails to impress me. His e-chapbook from Scars Publishing, called Avenue Cfits more than neatly into the subject matter I like to read about. I'm somewhat jealous of these poems, to be honest, and that doesn't happen often. Here's the first poem in the book, the title poem.

Avenue C


1.

She gets high on diesel dust
& mute reruns of Jack Benny.
This slinky white boot Barbarella
has got a rubber soul
that stretches into angel octave,
levitates in the nightly limbo
of bong & free trade
called Avenue C.

Claiming to be owned
by 3 bipolar Kings of Funk,
she breaks glass beer bottles
in the backseat of my old Cougar
& gives herself up
at least once a month.
She doesn’t even wipe
the rivulets of blood
spelling my name
with a missing vowel.

I drive my car
on methamphetamine rage
fill everything up
on zeroes.

At the club tonight,
the D.J. looking like
some fucked-up owl on Special K,
I dance with everyone’s girl
of a thousand bar butterflies.
She twists & gyrates
to the boom boom boom
& sonic Charlies,
shouting to the world
that her body is protein & crystalline salt,
addressing that constant hunger
of dead-eyed mystics,
shouting to the world
that she’s not wearing underwear.

2.

After the artificial red smoke
& dancers with a thousand names
have cleared, he spots the old man
leaning against the piano
that the Siamese twins played out of key.
He’s wearing a flannel shirt that is just so
out of place. He thinks: the crow
must be a veteran of a foreign war
where everyone lost their left hand
& some buttons.

How much? says the Crow-man.
An arm & your left leg, says Banshee-Bob.
In the hotel room,
Crow-man pumps Banshee-Bob
as if channeling his very soul
through the only bridge-&-tunnel there is.
& tonight, neither trick or customer has wings.

When finished, Banshee-Bob looks up
at Crow-man and spots a squiggly red line
across his throat. He hadn’t noticed it
in the misty darkness of the club
that sold rum & quick-pop soul with ice.
It reminds Banshee-Bob of a snake.

But tonight, no need to call 911,
it’s just a mongoose on home turf
just a self-inflicted wound,
the snake’s eyes like tiny keyholes
into a room vacated by draft-dodgers
an old wallet photo of an Asian boy
how cold-blooded bodies can never be forgotten
except in Apt. 214d, last door on the right.

3.

My pit bull girlfriend protects me
from dreams that form scabs
under the skin. I draw a fibrous lining
around my sleep well, or live within
the chain-link perimeter of
hoping-never-to-wake-up.
But despite the subliminal waterfall
of wishes, I do.

In bed, we go down like good cough medicine.

By morning, I am cradled by the love of fur.
I recall the dream of her white teeth
that are mountains & the sun & the moon
that are various shades of her eyes.
There is no trace of a calibrated whistle.

& what I have at the end of my leash
is something that will never return
only the outline of someone
who once found me too needy
of claw & red meat.

The poem is 'streetwise' and seductive in its rhythms, doesn't depend, really, on a narrative thread, though there's a hint of one, and uses its language to describe both what's happening and what might (could? should?) happen. It's rare enough that this type of poem isn't overdone or simply embarrassing. With every line Kyle gets better and better, with tighter control on the language and images. And the damned thing is free! Go get it.

New E-Chap from Kyle Hemmings: Avenue C

I've known Kyle's writing for some time now--and was lucky enough to publish a couple stories--and he never fails to impress me. His e-chapbook from Scars Publishing, called Avenue Cfits more than neatly into the subject matter I like to read about. I'm somewhat jealous of these poems, to be honest, and that doesn't happen often. Here's the first poem in the book, the title poem.

Avenue C


1.

She gets high on diesel dust
& mute reruns of Jack Benny.
This slinky white boot Barbarella
has got a rubber soul
that stretches into angel octave,
levitates in the nightly limbo
of bong & free trade
called Avenue C.

Claiming to be owned
by 3 bipolar Kings of Funk,
she breaks glass beer bottles
in the backseat of my old Cougar
& gives herself up
at least once a month.
She doesn’t even wipe
the rivulets of blood
spelling my name
with a missing vowel.

I drive my car
on methamphetamine rage
fill everything up
on zeroes.

At the club tonight,
the D.J. looking like
some fucked-up owl on Special K,
I dance with everyone’s girl
of a thousand bar butterflies.
She twists & gyrates
to the boom boom boom
& sonic Charlies,
shouting to the world
that her body is protein & crystalline salt,
addressing that constant hunger
of dead-eyed mystics,
shouting to the world
that she’s not wearing underwear.

2.

After the artificial red smoke
& dancers with a thousand names
have cleared, he spots the old man
leaning against the piano
that the Siamese twins played out of key.
He’s wearing a flannel shirt that is just so
out of place. He thinks: the crow
must be a veteran of a foreign war
where everyone lost their left hand
& some buttons.

How much? says the Crow-man.
An arm & your left leg, says Banshee-Bob.
In the hotel room,
Crow-man pumps Banshee-Bob
as if channeling his very soul
through the only bridge-&-tunnel there is.
& tonight, neither trick or customer has wings.

When finished, Banshee-Bob looks up
at Crow-man and spots a squiggly red line
across his throat. He hadn’t noticed it
in the misty darkness of the club
that sold rum & quick-pop soul with ice.
It reminds Banshee-Bob of a snake.

But tonight, no need to call 911,
it’s just a mongoose on home turf
just a self-inflicted wound,
the snake’s eyes like tiny keyholes
into a room vacated by draft-dodgers
an old wallet photo of an Asian boy
how cold-blooded bodies can never be forgotten
except in Apt. 214d, last door on the right.

3.

My pit bull girlfriend protects me
from dreams that form scabs
under the skin. I draw a fibrous lining
around my sleep well, or live within
the chain-link perimeter of
hoping-never-to-wake-up.
But despite the subliminal waterfall
of wishes, I do.

In bed, we go down like good cough medicine.

By morning, I am cradled by the love of fur.
I recall the dream of her white teeth
that are mountains & the sun & the moon
that are various shades of her eyes.
There is no trace of a calibrated whistle.

& what I have at the end of my leash
is something that will never return
only the outline of someone
who once found me too needy
of claw & red meat.

The poem is 'streetwise' and seductive in its rhythms, doesn't depend, really, on a narrative thread, though there's a hint of one, and uses its language to describe both what's happening and what might (could? should?) happen. It's rare enough that this type of poem isn't overdone or simply embarrassing. With every line Kyle gets better and better, with tighter control on the language and images. And the damned thing is free! Go get it.