City Lights Books
130 pages, paperback
Clamber off your high horse
and listen to the woman on the porch,
the old sage flashing her poetic
license to kill.
Kyger knicked the alchemical
formula for gold,
whipping up the “culmination
of all wisdom and beauty,”
a recipe for disastrous
Pick up On Time and watch
the clock hands spin as
the hour of judgment comes.
You’ll see her “turn
illusion into luminosity,” but
don’t shield your eyes.
Look into the sun,
you’re not blinded.
At the core is truth and
it’s waiting just for you.
Of Tire & Anonymity
Six Gallery Press
100 pages, paperback
I gumshoed the room
Che Elias built recently
Of Tire & Anonymity
In the center, like a shower drain,
stood a stone and mortar well
A damp bucket hung from a frayed rope
Ghosts moaned from below
Light began to rain through the ceiling
The floor beneath me was a parade
of chalk outlines
One looked like me then, but not like me now
The ghosts below began to scream
Light poured, and water flowed
under the door to prism it
The chalk bodies washed away,
save a few prism-aimed,
The water was soon pouring
When the flood breached the lip of the well
Ghost wombs gave birth to bones, and
The room became a whirlpool
I clung to the well’s wooden posts
Skeletons swam passed, diving
toward the screams
When the bones dissolved into the darkness,
the screaming ended
I imagined boney-breaststrokers
swimming into wailing apparitions
Then lying back down in a parade of graves
The water finally receded, and I shook like a dog
I left the room and found
my yellow crime scene tape
I even slapped
an “Enter at Your Own Peril” sign on the door
Tongue A Queer Anomaly:The Glossary
j/j hasten and t thilleman
710 pages, paperback
j/j hasten and t thilleman
Tongue A Queer Anomaly
Glossary of the the specifying tone
tongue become a movement of leaks
shown by integration NOT exclusion
A resource for stripping
away systems with our mouth parts
re: Defining the ways words can mean
together and understanding the limitless
possibilities of the letters that we let slip
From its first “TIT In Mouth = Ancient Egypt”
to its last “Aesthetics”
this glossy tongue treats your mind to a sensuous spelunking
of horizontal thought aerobics bending “Gender”
around the myths that made it with allusions to
The cruise director, that great and abominable Noah,
keeps shoveling the elements of species along,
in his wood warping boat.
and allowing us to rediscover the etymology
of our own being.
-Benjamin C-Roy Cory Garrett
The Continuing Saga of Joe the Poet, vol. 2
Edited by John Roche
223 pages, paperback
Mo’Joe keeps the saga rolling
Joe traveling—desert winds call him
banks of the Seine
Prague and Venice drowning
Joe keeps his pen and notepad close
answers the call of the road
weeps dry tears and swims naked in the Rio Grande
Joe begs the universe to answer prayers
plies his suspicious trade
offers poems for a hitch
But there’s another look at joe
Call her Jo who nurses Van Gogh
he paints purple irises and
gets the juice on her shirt when she leans to kiss
confuses the critters of the amazon river
as she learns to kill her lovers
or learns to drive a stick shift
“’62 sea mist turquoise/dreamland”
what could be better than driving in hell
Joe seeks a seamy side and joins the rebellion
refuses to shake the politician’s hand
sings, “all praise and thanks to Saint Marijuana”
dreams he’s a lizard, dies and seeks resurrection
travels to Africa and begs to be young
but its in the desert he finds his true—ness
his joe—ness, his ability to watch the stars
march by and translate them into words.
SEVELSMEHT and the Birds
55 pages, chapbook
What if you could look back and forth in the cosmos?
What if you cold make love in flames?
t thilleman answers
studying the flickering
animation cave drawings
of primitive professors
through a flame tempered lens
spying on the mystical
with broken stanzas
flowing like water
around a thumb on a hose
spraying alliterative spunk
on a sketch book
that shows shades
of a poetic play.
Brett Evans and Chris Shipman
157 pages, paperback
waiting to spring
poems like boxes
stacked with words
in a cardstock corner world
all paper-cut sharp edges
wearing a pink dress
to the audience
poems that answer the call
hey point me to a new adventure
Things We Thought We Saw in the Water
C. Frazier Jones
Web Profile, Inc.
270 pages, paperback
Cycle of eight stories waxing and waning
light and shadow, laughter and sorrow
phases of the moon
descending into deep wells
twenty-two only son
house burning down
what would it be like
to reincarnate as an orange cat?
man seeing being all shades of green
nostalgic memories eight year old wedding
fresh fruit ripening to teenage lust
college white boy racism
mexican exits school
reconnects digging fields heads of lettuce
bleeding green sacrifice of the soil
seven years old
snow cold New York
learning to play Mozart, Chopin, Debussy
how the dung beetle uses the Milky Way to navigate the universe
too hot down south in Florida
scars she cuts into herself
rabbit and his hat on her shoulder
Valentine’s heart on her chest
Gothic cross above her right breast
Aztec sun on her wrist
rosebud on her hip
serpent on her stomach
each covering the wounds he left behind
No Choctaw medicine woman, Catholic priest, or Rabbi
could exorcise the Pawnee, Oklahoma Wal-Mart banshee
imitatin’ the Lone Ranger
fightin’ with the Devil himself
ramblin’ the canyons on the horse Silver
who’s my real daddy?
bloody hands from punching walls shattering mirrors
daddy drowning his daughter
she doesn’t know how to swim
five stages of loss plunged in muddy lake
cursing, gum-chewing mermaids
traveling with her to heaven
even heaven is bureaucratic
she works as a counselor
in The Office of Near Death Experiences
The Laurel Review: Prose Poetry 48.1
John Gallaher, Richard Sonnenmoser, eds.
This book contains poetry
“These poems contain beauty”
beauty “may be upsetting”
but needs to be read anyway
“Trigger Warning” indeed
Authors galore explore
Tweets from the Future
Shame ful Story s
But I am a fan of donuts.
You will have to decide for yourself.
In the Home of the Famous Dead
The University of Arkansas Press
338 pages, paperback
Don’t start writing about the people
you love unless you are committed
to the sadness of dying parents,
abandoned houses, and shadows
of marriages lost in the night.
In Jo McDougall’s collection of poems
the blue skies of America stretch past oceans
into wars where some die and others come back
to tractors and farmlands as heroes and haunted
while women wait in kitchens
and stay away from the too honest windows
where the moon is always mourning.
Fathers, husbands, mothers, daughters—
each have a death and a funeral.
Grandchildren too young to be the keepers of dust.
Adult children too busy for pole beans,
chickens, and canning sausage.
In the poems, there is silence,
and dancing—always a road
willing to take you between
state lines and small towns of
Kansas, Louisiana, Texas,
but especially Arkansas—
where McDougall has collected each
joy, each grief, each simple human feeling,
and built a home
from the living and the dead.
Flue’s Fund, published by Spuyten Duyvil, is the companion book of drawings for Selvesmeht and the Birds (book number six of t thilleman’s longpoem Anatomical Sketches). This work is a meditation on creation, mankind, ego, and the divine. The muse, or “entity” as thilleman calls him, that inspires the drawings is SEVLESMEHT, “an entity who would represent all… the allegory of that semi-palindromic moment of his own creation…. the locus of psyche…. the figure of all humanity.” The bright and densely hued drawings, reminiscent of Mark Rothko, convey this omniscient sense of creation and movement. Humanity’s great abstractions, time, creation, and ego, intersect and interact in thilleman’s abstract representations. In each drawing, an identifiable vein of color and movement runs through the center of the page and fans upward. This vein is the flue, the passage of “heat and smoke” that represents thilleman’s allegory of how “Now” becomes “(k)Now”. If meaning is meant to be found, it will find the viewer. thilleman’s book might best be understood as something beautiful to look at and ponder.
“Longing, survival, wayfaring…” Thus begins “the Migration Issue” of Ecotone (vol. 9.1, no. 16). Ecotone is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, and in this issue, Ecotone’s awarding-winning contributors explore many scientific and artistic landscapes through the social consciousness of nature. This theme of humanity-and-nature is shown no brighter than with Lilah Hegnauer, whose poems “Ice Pick” and “Olive Pitter” recall the grace and nostalgia of strongly rooted place. Essayist Abigail Greenbaum reminds us in “Notes from a Nonnative Daughter” how one can yearn to belong within a community, but remain at odds with the politics and culture of the people comprising it. In photography, Andreas Franke overshadows with her project The Sinking World, the eerie underwater gallery of wrecked ships animated by ballerinas, boxers in a school of fish, a teenage boy watching television—all unfazed by their distinctly blue-green underwater stage. The Migration Issue accomplishes what Ecotone often does: the ability to transport readers between several branches of thought, beginning with environmental roots and ending with a single leaf of self-expression.
Austin A. James’s poetry exhibits a painter’s approach to language. His imagery is a series of brushstrokes, and his language is bright and surreal. Brackish Water, James’s debut book just out from Lawrence & Crane Pubs, is a collection of poems about love, family, and life in the Gulf Coast. Language is the book’s most distinctive feature. With a world of “pink sky and jackknife airfoil, the lightening pull, strumpet soft,” James weaves chunks of words together like a collagist. And each chunk of words can be a collage itself: as with “easy spiced avocado love pouncer-red-skin-sucker,” and “leaves slipped into each star skirt rapier mass.” The language is that of an abstract artist. It elevates Brackish Water beyond its ordinary themes into a satisfying debut.
The poems in this collection from Spouthill Press focus on incidents and conclusions that bring a quiet smile to the reader’s face. Often characterized by a wry self-mockery, they highlight feelings and situations that are instantly recognizable, especially by any reader likely to be close to the author’s age. In “Thumbnail Guide to the Senior Couplers,” Locklin boldly defends every type of coupling, “LGBT or straight,” and ends with the happy speculation that “up there” in Paradise, “God’s a smiling, ageless popcorn-popping / Pharmacist, distributing these little blue pills.” As in previous volumes, many of Locklin’s poems are based on famous paintings, such as “Gustave Moreau: Oedipus and the Sphinx, 1864.” After a telling description of the painting, he reflects, “You sure have to hand it to those crazy / Greeks and their apprenticed French / Romance interpreters. They sure knew how / To turn a simple fuck into an epic.”
Chris Shipman’s Cat Poems is a whimsical adventure of language and self-discovery that dances through the minds of several different characters and questions the reality of the world around them. Through this collection of poems, prose poems, and poems in the form of a play, Shipman allows the imagination of readers to fill in blanks between scenes and thoughts, inviting the reader to join in on each piece of work. The reader is left with a sense of floaty transparency, both understanding everything and understanding nothing at all, that reflects the mystical realism and “Cloud and Fragment” that this book exudes.
San Francisco’s City Lights Books began publishing the Pocket Poets series in 1955. Speaking of his intentions for the series, Lawrence Ferlinghetti writes, “I had in mind rather an international, dissident, insurgent ferment.” Consistent with this philosophy, the new 60th Anniversary Edition of the City Lights Pocket Poets Anthology includes not only the familiar names associated with a particular San Francisco literary scene (Ginsberg, Kerouac, Ferlinghetti himself, others), but writing and writers from across the years and oceans. Readers possessing only anecdotal familiarity with City Lights Books will find an unexpected breadth of artistic sensibility within the Anthology, and no doubt several fine poems by previously undiscovered writers. Recommended for established fans of the press and newcomers alike.
How long has your murderer been following you? Chris Shipman’s chapbook of short prose pieces leads the reader through a series of disjointed, surreal scenes. The Movie My Murderer Makes from The Cupboard is an exploration of uncertain, unsteady still frames through the lens of a dissociative narrative, and his murderer films on. His murderer watches, and watches, and watches. Until Shipman’s murderer watches no more, and is only a ghost, haunting.
The unflattering reputation that precedes the town of Harrison is a hard one for any Arkansan (or transplanted Oklahoman) to overcome, but Nate Jordon does a fine job as he gives this reputation a face and a soul in Images of America: Harrison. Jordon reintroduces readers to Harrison through its history in photographs, some rarely seen, with short, accompanying stories. At 126 pages, the book follows this small town and its citizens through Civil and World Wars, fires, blizzards, Union tensions, race riots, barn raisings, and parades. There’s the brutal murder of Ella Lillian Ethel Barham, the illfated life and death of the Missouri & North Arkansas Railroad Company—best known by the disparaging acronym MNA (May Never Arrive)—and L.H. Schweitzer, his wife Mae H. Schweitzer, and their 1,000 children. Beat that, Duggars. Jordon has brought his town to life via a patchwork of captured moments that humanize and personalize and will inspire readers to give Harrison another look.
Fans of epic poetry may well find themselves in delightful territory with Arnold Skemer’s novella H. A labyrinthine exploration of the mind of a scholar as he ruminates on the nature and scope of history, H is replete with the musical language of alliteration and repetition, leading the reader to ruminate on the nature and scope of literature itself. Skemer’s expansive vocabulary is commodious, and his Faulknerian sentence structure is the zenith of stream-of-consciousness. This intricate examination of the pervasiveness of the historical construct—as evidenced in train rides, tourist stops, and even the very books that line our main character’s shelves—will leave the reader questioning, as did our protagonist: “Is there some profound path not immediately obvious that the centuries of human passage has rendered on the earth?”
A Man worthy of Your Attention is a graphic exploration of the role of story-telling in the quest for survival. The short illustrated story tells a split narrative between Caitlin, a 16-year-old survivor of statutory rape and the officer who saves her. Relationships between narrators and narratives become dangerously murky as the effects of violence, and the actions that define it, slip between truth and perception. Messy, like the reality of living in a world torn apart by sexual violence, Janet Freeman’s tale is brought vibrantly to life through the paintings and drawings of Dana Ellyn—challenging the reader to define the lines that delineate responsibility from obsession and the precarious role of masculinity to either reinforce or dismantle the attitudes that enable this violence in the first place.
Delaney Nolan’s incisive, humorous, and haunting prose in her collection of short stories, Shotgun Style, details all that becomes lost and forgotten in the human condition―in this case through the gritty and grimy milieu of post-Katrina New Orleans. The eight vignettes explore a neighborhood of the city, and we get to see this equal parts difficult and defiant community through different citizens’ eyes: a young woman’s nostalgia and longing during Mardi Gras as she remembers her lover who left the town behind; another woman who yearns for her man who she only meets behind locked bars; a boy encountering mortality first hand as he tries to save a lizard and watches it die; the murky mysteries of a deep sea welder; a girl seeing fragments and artifacts of slowly fading lives as she videotapes random people trying to sell their remaining treasures; an Indian kid “storm-wrecked” but standing “fierce and righteous” against the waterlogged waste—these lives are all captured vividly.
Brad Johnson’s poems deal with life in all its messiness with short bursts of humor and dark tragedy. Life has given Johnson much fodder to slowly chew through and digest and redirect into thought-provoking poetry. He dreams of what Bob Dylan may be searching for while the monkey he meets at the end of a pier dreams of catching “The Big One.” In “Rethinking John” he tackles the issue of suicide with tenderness and insight. “Racist” takes us into the classroom with him and explores the attitudes of students toward racism in all its myriad forms and confusions in this politically correct world, and causes us to question our own position on this topic in his lines, “A white man approaching a black family./A black man approaching a white family.” He speaks tenderly of his wife and children in many of his poems marveling at their persistence to tackle life. He takes the American Dream of buying a house in The Happiness Theory, and fractures that noble ideal when he says, “Owning a house seemed like a dream./Now it’s just another job./None of my projects are finished./The bathroom should be retiled.” His poems are gentle bites at the world.
Jules Nyquist’s poetry rises from the page like the volcanoes from her hometown of Albuquerque, erupting into the mind of the reader with startling strength and beauty. Behind the Volcanoes explores the lives of those “looking for granules of hope,” the pain of “the gaping hole in hearts,” and the poignant memories of a woman with a mind for capturing the human experience with honesty and eloquence. Moving between form and subject, each new poem brings a completely new scene into arresting detail, and one constantly wonders what might come next. Nyquist stands at “the edge of the volcanoes” and views the world with fresh eyes. Her strong voice translates this depth of understanding with clarity and passion on the page. Behind the Volcanoes truly delivers.
Voices come from the end of Thanksgiving, the picket line, the 2 AM phone call, the algorithm. Even Iphigenia calls from the long-distant past. Over the Transom features these voices, the marginalized, those truly thrown “over-the-transom,” in poetry, prose and short drama. They come in all forms from all places, no matter how unexpected. These voices, both fictional and not, exist in a state of rawness that gives them the power to be heard from the ends of time through the night into the early morning of tomorrow.
In Snailhorn (fragments) thilleman presents a speaker seeing themselves in pieces, the fragments of an archeology of humanity, in shapes defined by history, shuffled by spirits. We are both matter and mother to matter, dust and mud, spliced shells filled with water, overflowing. Telling the epic of humanity in what is left behind in the trail of history, thilleman shows that we leave a fractured, haunting trail of meaning; our attempt to live is to make sense of the pieces.
1. What you are about read is “plagiarism at its finest.”
2. The copyright of a virus.
3. Written by everyone else, told by Schneiderman.
4. From his manual of style.
5. Of numbers and nonsense.
6. That make sense.
7. The Great Gatsby.
8. Of π to a million digits.
9. The lineage of the prince of Denmark.
10. Making the best cake recipe ever.
Jamie’s interaction with the world around her is filled with poetic conversation and dream-like description. She speaks through whale bones, intimate friends, complete strangers, and landscapes The dialogue of the conversation of Sightlines is ultimately of that of the author negotiating the terrain of the material, mental and spiritual geography around her through essays in which nature watches, listens in, and quietly responds.
Levinson applies his “hinge theory” in this second installment of the experiment after 2008’s Smelling Mary. Levinson takes on poetics at large, challenging our basic level of our understanding of not only construction, but of how a poem is heard―in essence, how it lives. It is a study of the behavior of language and poetry in a kind of mechanistic wild where language begets itself, creating an ecosystem of poetic algorithms that are born through the invention of speech and sound.
With tongue planted firmly in cheek, Appel follows botanist Arnold Brinkmann through the jingoistic fallout of his choice not to stand for “God Bless America” at a Yankees game. Arnold struggles to deal with the absurdities of his new life and the eccentric characters who jump to his aid. The prose reads like a real-life Daily Show segment where only Apple realizes how strange our world has become.
Witty and strikingly humorous, The Tragedy of Fidel Castro dives into a world of historical magical realism where a cataclysmic war is brewing between JFK and Fidel Castro, where God must intervene, where Jesus must again walk the earth to settle the inevitable tragedy of the human race. The book abounds in metaphor. Cerqueira’s plot bends and reconstructs the time and dimension of familiar characters, placing them together in a wild and unpredictable interplay, and yet this book, through satire and subtlety, is in fact beautifully relevant to the bizarre world in which we are already a part. It speaks to our time, to real problems, and to the absurdities of the day-in, day-out lives that we live.
Olson’s prose poems are linked by his ability to make the everyday–from things to do around an apartment to language itself–lyrical and nearly magical. It is Olson’s keen sense of rhythm and sharp attention at the word level that carries the reader from page 1 to page 400.
Buckley fills our cerebral hunger with meaty Michigan expatriate mixed with saucy California renter, topped with divorce kimchi, poetry that steals your girlfriend, yard sale mourning, and is drizzled with fantastical hypotheses of moon habitation and hex cooking. Eat his words up, and you are sure to be full.
From the intro:
“1. All of the work in this volume has been previously published. All of the work in this volume was published between September 2009 and September 2011. Except for one piece . . .
2. This introduction is already over . . . .
4. The Festival is biennial, except when it is not.
5. There are many words in this book, and you might read some or all, in any order . . . .
8. Isn’t that clever? . . . .
10. &NOW Books publishes this anthology. There is no connection between the anthology and the festival. Except when there is.
11. Trust Wikipedia. Or not . . . .
19. & so on.”
Need we say more?
Yes: &NOW is cutting edge
of cutting edge
Racy, colorful, provocative stuff.
Ie: “Courtney Love herself they say
used to ride these very workhorse Geary buses,
smacked back to the gills,
nasty to look at and full of spit and snarl.
Girlfriend wasn’t shit . . .
Yesterday’s skank is tomorrow’s
Plus poems that end:
“You’re talking to the girl you used to be.
Saying what you needed to hear.”
and: “I sought asylum in San Francisco.”
and: “Some days you’re the only America we have left.”
and: “No wonder the sky ball leaks red fire
And that says a lot! Most poets fail
shooting for the “zingers”
klipschutz reels off
Kerplunk the bat’s shadow like a dimple
kerplunk a rainbow bending down to drink
kerplunk the eels and the homesick river cats
kerplunk the girls who don’t wear underwear
kerplunk the death of God in America
kerplunk the whole
is more than a collection of poems
it’s a collection of brief encounters, attempted
romances and fleeting moments
of human experience.
Primarily set in America
the speaker―an everyman―
wanders the terrain like
an introspective odysseus
hellbent on imaging
the machinery of transience.
This is the third in his novella trilogy which started with The Case of the Missing Blue Volkswagen and continued with Come Back Bear. Locklin here explores love, sex, and relationships, with prose that reads like poetry. His work is humorous, irreverent, sometimes surreal, and always human.
Winner of the 2012 Omnidawn Poetry Chapbook Prize, Hume demonstrates an adroitness of language, stringing her words like beads on a thread―medical, political, ecological―each one placed precisely where she means it to go. Her words, breaks, and spaces create an overall impression that is masterfully rendered.
I look through binoculars at monkeys and caiman and birds and read this book. My mother died last year–at times I find myself in tears, the equatorial sun burning me, the memory of my parents’ objects burning. Raffel’s spare prose veers on the sentimental and that’s no complaint. She builds bridges between the furniture of the world and our families and emotions. Everything that makes up a life. For many sections, the final line serves as a metaphor, explaining more fully the relationship behind the object . . . It’s a reminder that everything is connected.