the poetry of Bill Gainer

Posted in Bill Gainer with tags on February 22, 2015 by Scot

The Last Time We Talked

(for José Montoya)

Stopped by to see him
drop a few books off
chat a while.
We hit on this
and that.
Nothing too important.
Asked how he’d been.
“Man, whatever it is
I got it so bad
even my skin hurts.”
I told him he looked good,
he grinned,
showed me his sketch book.
We sat in the little room
off to the right
in the front.
He said the chair there
was better
he had a TV
we could listen to the news
if I wanted.
When I left
he gave me a little salute,
two finger, a tilt of the head,
said, “Fly high man – adios.”
I haven’t been over
to that part of D street
in a while now.
No reason.


Of Good

Nothing good happens
till after the crucifix
and St. Christopher
come off
and you forget about
not wanting to be bad.


A Place in the Quiet

The hour
when the one
changes it all.
Nothing before,
if it ever did,
The light’s
angle thins,
the day’s eyes
close – slow.
You’re left
to yourself


Lima Beans

When the old man died
we quit eating Lima beans.
Still, they’re there
in the canned goods aisle
and he’s still here with me.
He used to love those things.
Me, not so much.
Milk-toast sometimes,
when the money’s short
and you gotta make do,
but Lima Beans, no …



The Sum of Less

There wasn’t
a quiet moment
with her –
were you expecting



Frail Flowers

Her grandmother,
the frail flower
sits in the same chair
asks the same question
what channel’s
Merv Griffins on
today, yesterday

She hopes
when they meet
in heaven
it will be different.
Maybe Merv
will be there
sit with her
hold hands
watch old reruns
talk about the events
of the day – 1962
a good year
for flowers to bloom.



The Fool’s Market

once used thrown
in the barrel
at the end
of the counter.
Marked down
Now and then
they go through
throw the ones
at the bottom
They’re hard
to sell
when they get

Review of Michael Lane Bruner’s NATURAL GEOGRAPHICS by John Dorsey

Posted in John Dorsey with tags on February 22, 2015 by Scot

For those of you familiar with the Los Angeles poetry scene of the 1980’s and 90’s, Michael Lane Bruner is probably best known as a performance poet with pioneering touring groups like The Lost Tribe and The Carma Bums and as far as those just a little bit younger, the children of the blogosphere, he may be completely new to you.

I was recently asked for my thoughts on Bruner’s newly minted collection from S.A. Griffin’s Rose of Sharon Press Natural Geographics and so here goes.

All too often I come into a collection with certain expectations, and while I was somewhat familiar Bruner’s work via the Carma Bums anthology Twisted Cadillac: A spoken Word Odyssey, (Sacred Beverage Press, 1996), as well as his contribution to the much beloved anthology The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, which Griffin Co-Edited with Alan Kaufman, (Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1999), the experience I came away with is not necessarily what I thought it might be when I first turned the page.

brunercoverimagebybillrobertsA mixture of abstraction and poetic metaphor, combined at times with highly personal memories and an ear for metaphysical questioning, Natural Geographics is hardly a high energy performance, instead what Bruner offers the reader, for the most part, is a thoughtful exploration on the question why by examining nature, human and otherwise and his search for the answer in the every day.

While I think I would’ve preferred a more personal narrative on a whole, there are poems here that do offer more answers than questions, more light than shadow into the author himself, such as Mother Is Young and Emergency Room Rainstorm.

Perhaps there is more risk involved in asking the questions, rather than what got us there in terms of our own personal history, instead looking at the impact of civilization on its citizens. Perhaps Bruner sums up what the book is all about in his poem The Hard Truth Gets Carried-

“Strangely nothing personal
just history
what with cremation
no trace at all.”

Maybe in time there will be no trace of anything we’ve built, both in and outside of our minds, until then I suspect that Michael Lane Bruner will keep asking the questions that have gotten him this far.

If I had to recommend this book to a particular readership, I would say that it belongs with books like On The Road, for younger readers still trying to put together the puzzle pieces of what it all means somewhere out there in the greater universe, rather than those looking for truth in their own story or a strait forward narrative that they can relate to in a dirt under their fingernails sorta way. The book took me back to High School, when everything seemed exciting, or at least mildly interesting, before the internet when the world still seemed larger than your average television screen and the Earth still had more regrets than I did.

So while Bruner and I may not be at the same place creatively, I’m glad that he hasn’t lost his sense of wonder, and if you still count the stars at night, and they still whisper the invisible secrets of ancient lands past, present, and future, his voice is a strong one and whether this book is a reexamination of the author’s work or a fleeting first glance into the cosmos of his brain, Natural Geographics questions may contain the answers you’ve been searching for all along. You’ll just have to read it to find out.

-John Dorsey

Natural Geographics
Michael Lane Bruner
Rose of Sharon Press, 2014.
Editor: S.A. Griffin
Printer: Bill Roberts

Ordering info-

Paperbacks in letterpress printed dust jacket are $20 and signed hardcovers are $50 postage included. Please send check/money order to the author at: PO Box 1215 Tucker, GA 30085.

Susie Sweetland Garay

Posted in Susie Sweetland Garay on January 30, 2015 by Scot


Truth and a Lie

There is a song
at the base of my skull
pulling me along.

A drum beat in my temple
reminding me of sacred things

each daily holy ritual –
worship through repetition
and forgiving.

cuts so deep.

When I was young
I couldn’t see
that parents were
just people.

I never saw the struggle, the questions,
until I became one.

They don’t share with us their
weaknesses and mistakes
until they become our
weaknesses and

They do not see it as a lie
(maybe truth is only truth
for a little while).

I may do it differently
I think as the music pulls
me along and my baby girl
begins to wake up from
her nap.


Thursday morning

Stuck inside on the only nice day in week
longingly looking at the window
feeling both trapped and glad
at the same time.
Barley understanding myself
I am happy there is no one here
to try to explain it too.
I don’t know what I want.
I want both.
I want neither.
I want it all.
Whatever that means.
I don’t even know what it means.
So I go back to looking out the window.



Rising is:
the knowledge
that I have
I need;
missing an old friend,
so odd that it has been
three years;
the joy
and monotony
of each day;
anxiety at knowing I can’t do it all,
that I will always disappoint someone;
the cold crisp air outside;
learning to structure an
unstructured day;
too much want,
and a desire to release;
learning that not enjoying
does not make me a failure;
that I can be disappointed by those I love
and still love them;
Rising is
taking us
gently into each new day.



Four Poems by Mike Meraz

Posted in Mike Meraz with tags on January 30, 2015 by Scot

I hand my landlord

She smiles
Her hair sticks
Out on one
It’s 8am for

She is an ex
TV star
From the

Her dreams
On hold by

I think
There was a
Time when
People wanted

Now I just
Want her

When I’m two
Days late


She is one of
Who calls
She loves
But is close


Roll that

At the

With the
T shirt

And the




I will gut
This moment
For all it’s

Squeeze it
Like an

Letting the
Slide down

Advance Notice by Pris Campbell

Posted in Pris Campbell with tags on January 28, 2015 by Scot

Coins in your eyes,
unwritten ‘forgive me’ notes
embedded into your fingertips,
the ladies in black prepare you.

This is your eulogy,
my second ex, writ in advance.

I touch my hand to my breastbone
where blood flowed, staining
the sidewalk, when you left me
for the gal with peter pan hair
and the saucy behind.

My chest is dry now.
The sidewalk is dry.
My eyes are dry.

A flicker of sea air
drifts past, carries away
the  remaining remnants
of sails raised, boat keening,
dolphins tracking our
every maneuver.

I am not waiting … by D. A. Pratt

Posted in D. A. Pratt with tags on January 28, 2015 by Scot

Thinking back to the 1950s,
oddly Kafkaesque in its own way,
I can readily imagine
hearing Ferlinghetti’s voice
reciting the opening of his poem:
“I am waiting for my case to come up
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder” …
I can readily imagine
connecting the tone of his voice
to Allen Ginsberg’s tone
in the opening words of “Howl”,
“I saw the best minds
of my generation
destroyed by madness …”

Thinking back to the 1950s,
I can readily appreciate
Ferlinghetti’s hopes in “I Am Waiting”,
expressed over and over again,
for a “rebirth of wonder” …

Thinking back to the 1950s,
I can readily imagine
that America was indeed waiting –
waiting for the 1960s to burst out
as it did … I can readily imagine
that in the 1950s it was oddly okay
to be an observer … and oddly okay
to express hopes for something better
by saying “I am waiting”
as Lawrence Ferlinghetti did
in his poem in the “Oral Messages”
portion of *A Coney Island of the Mind* …

Now, fifteen years into
the twenty-first century,
we’re in a different time
and a different place:
“I am waiting” seems simply too passive –
“I am waiting” is far too passive,
even as an expression of hope …

Yes, I could say that I am waiting
for Americans to be so much better
than they have been … I could
even say I am waiting
for Canadians to be better
than they have been lately …
but I’m not … North Americans
show no signs of being better –
and why mention anyone else?
I could make a myriad
of similar statements … but
that would be overly negative …
I could say I’m waiting for
the next volume of My Struggle
by Karl Ove Knausgaard to appear
in English translation (and I am!)
but … but … but I think we need
to think about more important matters …

We can no longer simply say “I am waiting” –
waiting isn’t good enough … waiting
isn’t going to work … time is running out …
hell … they’ve just moved the minute hand
of the Doomsday Clock closer to midnight:
what’s to be written? Okay … I wish
the whole damn thing were otherwise …
but it isn’t … it just isn’t …

Mardou Fox sitting naked on a back-alley fence in the Frisco rain by Sissy Buckles

Posted in Sissy Buckles with tags on January 28, 2015 by Scot

Naturally envious of
those intrepid
self-assured folk
who always seem
so certain
‘them that’s got
shall have,
them that’s not shall
lose'; sublimely
preferable to
perpetually adrift
shackled with
historical shambles of
modern ambiguity,
to be a Twitter brand
or not to be
is that the burning
new question
and the very real
that it’s entirely
too late
to make the world
a better place –
what do, where go?
Perhaps cultivate
a soft spot for
Jean-Paul Sartre’s
The Roads to Freedom
trilogy, be proud
to raise that Olympic
flame aloft
or consider F. Scott’s
adored flappers, were
they really all
beautiful little fools
and pretty please say
fuck yeah
to midcentury Beckettean
absurdist nobodies
and I’ll never deny
my desolate
messed up wandering
downbeat heroes.
Should I then emulate
Anouilh’s ceaselessly stubborn
outsider Antigone
digging in her heels
sticking it to
The Man
preferring death to
the play premiered
in 1944 Paris under
Nazi censorship, but now
tell me plain
are you willing
to know
a woman who writes
odes to forlorn
seedy pool hustlers
and venerable bowling shoes
stinking of victory,
at least one of us
has a reputation
to protect.
And if it’s notorious
to do nothing but
count flowers on the wall
and smoke a late
meditative night cig
or two
once in a lonely
blue moon, well of
course I would completely
understand, dearest
after all
I didn’t just fall off
the rust patina
turnip truck.


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