Skip to main content

PRYING, Jack Micheline, Charles Bukowski, Catfish McDaris, a Review

Roadside Press
Limited Edition of 69

The three poets nesting cheek by jowl in this fetching 2022 reprint of the 1997 Four-Sep Publications chapbook Prying from small press dynamo Michele McDannold's Roadside Press will be familiar to anyone paying attention to even the tiniest of the outlaw poetry scene in the last 50 or so years: Charles Bukowski, Catfish McDaris and Jack Micheline. Bukowski and Micheline need little introduction; their long shadows hover over the outlaw poetry world even now years after their deaths. And the third, the only living poet of the three within, Catfish McDaris, has been building his own small press reputation with considerable success, for nearly as long as the former men. Illustrations are from Scott Aicher.

It's most fun to talk about the living McDaris. He appeared and appears so widely it's difficult to keep track and critique, or not, but as his portion of the cover copy says, he doesn't give a rat's ass anyway. We do, though, and the short prosaic pieces within are in turn ribald and rough-hewn, made to order working class historical pieces. McDaris gives you what you've come for even if unsure of what this is exactly. His work may not transcend yet like his two compadres, but who's to say whom the prevailing poetic winds will favor in the coming years? From 'If This is Love I'm Not Happy.'

I am a rainbow, Jack the Ripper's knife, a tumble weed, the petals of a rose, a worm drowning in mescaline, Van Gogh's ear, the Statue of Liberty, Hendrix's guitar. I am now. I am free. I am.

The Bukowski poems included here from the early- mid-70s when Bukowski had passed the first peak of his career and moved steadily upward and forward in reputation. in 'extant,' the first poem, Bukowski begins to riff on a melody only he can hear.

        the victim is the dog of man

        the victim is dog the man

        the victim is the dog man

        the hot dog

It's easy to fall into that loping rhythm, which poem is otherwise filled with non sequiturs amidst confessional moments amid the gristle and sinew of the tough guy, the beer drinker, womanizer, prophet mode Bukowski tries to live in. Still, it's Buk. You know what's on the label.

Micheline is another matter to me, a poet of various strengths deeply associated with the 50s and 60s beat ethos, if not a beat himself, who writes a headlong neo-beat or offbeat causative poem, long of line at points, next to several one-word lines. While his poems don't resonate yet like some of his contemporaries, he's due for a cultural renaissance soon, and if you can find it, pick up his selected COCKYMOON, from Zeitgeist Press edited by William Taylor. In the meantime, you can revel in these energetic lines from 'My Philosopy:'

        I was born on the street of lost fools

        on a sunny winter's day

        howling naked to the sky

        with a pair of bright eyes from a crutch and an anchor

These outlaw poets retain their attraction well into this century. The beats and neo beats are now getting their just deserts with Corso's last three years of poems coming out soon and the world slipping ever so rapidly into the next decade. It's a tall order, but these small books, the festschrifts and anthologies and chaps from some random wahoo in Albuquerque to this psychotic reviewer here in Revere MA, need to publish more, review more and spread the love more. There are so many deserving poets–all poetic modes can work, said Paul Blackburn, if you work them right–to choose from, and we can talk about them till there's no blink left in your eyelids. Long live the limited edition chapbook.


  1. Excellent and detailed write up. I am familiar with the original and I truly feel that this update is much better than the original. A welcome addition to my office library. Well done.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Ed Dorn's # 22 From Twenty-four Love Poems

                                               from Jacket The strengthy message here in #22 of 24 Love Songs can be summed up in two lines: ['There is/no sense to beauty. . .' and '. . .How/ the world is shit/ and I mean all of it] What I also like about this brief poem is the interplay between the title of the book and the subject of the poems (love/anti-love (which is not hate)): it's all a mass of contradictions, like love. And I have to say that the shorter poems of the Love Songs and the last book he wrote before dying (Chemo Sábe) seem to me much better and more memorable than the Slinger/Gunslinger poems. These (generally) later poems probably attempt less stylistically, but are more sure-handed, hacked from a soap bar, maybe. Easy to use, but disappear after use. In any case, Dorn is well worth the reading and re-reading, for me, though he'll never become one of my favorites. And doesn't every poet want that, dead or alive? ;-) #22 The agony

Mike James

 The River’s Architecture for Louis McKee, d. 11/21/11 The river has a shape you follow with your whole body: shoulder, footstep, and ear- those who know how to listen hear how river wind is like breath, alive in lung and line. Mike James makes his home in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He has published in hundreds of magazines, large and small, and has performed his poetry at universities and other venues throughout the country. He has published over 20 collections and has served as visiting writer at the University of Maine, Fort Kent. His recent new and selected poems, Portable Light: Poems 1991-2021, was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His last collection, Back Alley Saints at the Tiki Bar, was published in April by Redhawk. He currently serves as the Poet Laureate of Murfreesboro, TN.

Jim Daniels

Half Days My daughter, thirteen, pale shred of herself, fought an unidentified infection in her spine as it softened her discs into disappearance. I’d unread that story if she were young and still listened to lullabies. After she got discharged, I set an alarm for two a.m. each night to shoot antibiotics into her port while she slept, her limp arm resting in my hand. Her return to school: half days—follow my dotted line smearing across months of sleepless breadcrumbs— at noon I idled high, anxious in the school driveway rattling off the latest test results in the zero gravity of fear. She startled me with the brittle thunk of the car door slam, then snapped at me for staring at her friends as they strolled across the street to the cafeteria, creeping them out, she said, embarrassed by illness like hard acne or a blooming hickey, wrong music or flakey hair, or the tacky middle-school jumper she no longer had to wear. I was there to drive her to