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Showing posts from June, 2019

Kevin Ridgeway

Losing the Human Race
everything has become so quiet, illness has struck us at close to midnight  and we've missed out on the happenings  sweet medicine eludes us everyone  is in everyone's fan club but mine those who were are all dead now and i can't even write poems about them yet so i suffer in this little bubble of mine a little bubble that I can't seem to pop and make my body tickle all over on up to my brain where all the useless information is stored and where all the memories torture me and where the future horrifies me and when  my fantasies put me on beautiful journeys that make this hardship of opinions, morals and different tastes in music some of my least favorite things as I pass by that cemetery off the Long Island Railroad in Farmingdale where Coltrane rests and where I traveled back to Southern California after the Big Apple was a mean, smug son of a bitch who hustled me into wanting to run away and hide in the  countryside where a drunkard's dream  would send me even tho…

Gypsy Queen by NIcole Hennessy, reviewed by Rusty Barnes

Nicole Hennessy
Gypsy Queen
Crisis Chronicles Press
2019
60 pages
$12
Nicole Hennessy's Gypsy Queen, #109 from Crisis Chronicles Press, is a representative small press text in many ways. Filled with free-verse poems that tend toward the long and discursive, the book is arranged in such a way that the poems' performative aspects are in full effect, with strong voice and lots of sound-play. In "Vultures," a poem in five short sections, the speaker says to the potential partner "Tell me everything about me./Leave no room for me to tell you." which is a nice effect, as potential partners in the beginning usually say "tell me everything about you," so it's an intriguing beginning. We know this speaker is all ego from the get-go, doubling down on that initial statement by confessing just a few lines farther down:

I knew we'd walk to that cemetery together
I wanted to tell you something about myself
through those streets alone, along which I'…

J.J. Campbell

before giving me the news fading lights and the hope that tomorrow will be better dies with the sun i laughed on the day my father died a woman told me i got her pregnant but had the abortion before giving me the news i congratulated her on making the best decision possible i have enough people that hate me already


punish myself for existing i succumb to my demons late at night it's usually alcohol and porn sometimes i'm eating my emotions or on the fun nights i punish myself for existing they tell me they have pills that could help me i explain to them i don't mind being the martyr besides, my insurance won't cover anything that actually works
J.J. Campbell (1976 - ?) is old enough to know better. He's been widely published over the years, most recently at Record Magazine, The Dope Fiend Daily, Misfit Magazine. Yellow Mama and The Beatnik Cowboy. You can find him most days on his mildly entertaining blog, evil delights. (https://evildelights.blogspot.com)

West Side Girl & Other Poems by Lauren Scharhag, reviewed by Rusty Barnes

Lauren Scharhag West Side Girl & Other Poems Self-published (available via Amazon) 2013 $11.99 reviewed by Rusty Barnes

West Side Girl & Other Poems by Lauren Scharhag assumes a lot of a reader. Plainly produced, the book has a cow on a pedestal on its cover, promising something earthy and plain, maybe, or--I hope not--an excess of irony, like Jim Harrison famously said, I'm a little tired of irony. But that's my problem. The poems' brief cover text says only that the poems were written from 2004-2013, exploring themes of womanhood, family and the poet's German-Mexican heritage. I could have been drawn in a little better, but I like a book already that says plainly what it is.

"Good Bread," on the first page, is a solid poem. "Good woman, good bread,/snug in waxed paper,/clean sheets on the bed." I anticipate the rhyme scheme that never comes, but never get frustrated at its lack, or the knack, of starting with something concrete in those t…

Zachary Fishel

Dante’s View Nov. 13th 2017
A local geriatric club rented every tent site for their annual art show. It was the only weekend of the year Death Valley National Park would be fully booked. We showed up missing that last comfortable spot near toilet paper and portajohns. It was your first camping trip, and the first time you’d experience life below 65 degrees. It would be 32 inside our south facing tent. I explained we’d go “back country”, a hilarious phrase used by tame people, and sleep right on the mountain. You’d never been cold before and as the tent shivered into nightfall, you exhaled and saw your first breath leave you. You tested several more, silently, watching ice form against the canopy. Then laughed a little supernova out into the beyond.

Zachary Fishel teaches seventh grade in the world’s sunniest town. His work is widely published with two full credit titles to his name. When able he spends time hiking with his dog and eating ice cream with his wife. 


Renuka Raghavan

(Re)incarnation
Because a colossal arm of hubris beheaded a body fleshed together with turmeric and clay,
nursed not at his mother’s bosom but with hands and breath, splenetic Destroyer of Evil,
the pale of his blue skin, fire of his third eye cowered to a mother’s sorrow.
Lugubrious chants precede
rumors of a dead elephant in the North, his non-decaying carcass starfished across forgotten rubble.
Legend is (re)born
with his head now appended onto that jaundiced figure. Several gods pose behind him for scale.
Renuka Raghavan’s previous work has appeared in, Boston Literary Magazine, Jersey Devil Press, Blink-Ink, Star 82 Review, Down in the Dirt Literary Magazine, Chicago Literati, and elsewhere.  She is the author of Out of the Blue, (Big Table Publishing, 2017) a collection of short fiction and poetry. Renuka serves as the fiction book reviewer at Červená Barva Press, a poetry reader for Indolent Press Books, and is a co-founder of the Poetry Sisters Collective. Renuka writes and lives in Newto…

Jumping Drawbridges in Technicolor, by Mike James, reviewed by Rusty Barnes

Jumping Drawbridges in Technicolor Mike James 80 pages Blue Horse Press February 2019 $12.00 Reviewed by Rusty  Barnes
Mike James is a poet comfortable in several modes. I've read ghazals I liked and excellent free verse, and it wouldn't surprise me somewhere in his extensive catalog of thirteen books to find a formal mode too. He seems like a poet searching for things he hasn't done, and so we find his latest collection, Jumping Drawbridges in Technicolor, from Blue Horse Press, tilting ahead into the prose poem, best of all, the often surreal prose poem of Tate and Simic and Edson. I have no ready store of terminology for this kind of poem, coming at it from the POV of someone who's enjoyed a surreal tone occasionally, though not in steady diet.
My introduction to the surreal was in the early work of Bill Knott, reading whom taught me many things, most important of which was that I was not a natural poet. The lyric is not my mode, the usual narratives sustain me, and the sim…

Book Review: John Dorsey, The Afterlife of the Party

John DorseyThe Afterlife of the Party: New & Selected Poems 2016-2018
Ragged Lion Press
United Kingdom January 2019
£8.00 Reviewed by Rusty Barnes
John Dorsey's latest book is a collection of some of the chapbooks he published from 2016-2018 (Analog Submission Press, CWP Collective Press, Indigent Press, NightBallet Press, Red Flag Poetry,Spartan Press, Tangerine Press) plus new poems and an introduction by Mike James. One of the things you can take from this is that 2018 was a pretty fair year for Dorsey publication-wise. He's quite prolific and quite good, and this collection is a solid continuation of the roll he's been on since Appalachian Frankenstein, the book with which I really familiarized myself as regards the Dorsey small press phenomenon.

People are at the center of Dorsey's poems. They're not elegies, really, though some are elegiac, and they're not really portraits either. They are simple sketches of ordinary people in extraordinary moments …

June Poem Reviews

I've had fiction and non-fiction reviews published in quite a few journals and have been a member of the National Book Critics Circle, when I could afford it. Therefore, I feel quasi-professional in those arenas. I don't necessarily feel that way about my poetry reviews. I have opinions, though, and in the interest of keeping my poetry-mind occupied during an otherwise stressful time in my life, I'd like to make you, the poetry world, an offer. If you mail me your chapbook or book--at least 24 pages but no more than 100 pages, self-published or traditional--I will post a review of between 150 and 300 words about it, as professionally as I can, in the following months. Promise. Mail me your book, get a review. Easy. If I get a huge response, I'll declare a cap and communicate it here. I would prefer to work from print copies. I hate reading poetry in PDF or MOBI--my preferred methods for prose--because the lines never break correctly and I find myself critiquing lineati…