Archive for November, 2012

Back Then and Write Now by Donal Mahoney

Posted in Donal Mahoney with tags on November 25, 2012 by Scot

When I began writing in 1960, there were no website “magazines.” Print journals were the only place to have poems published. Writers used typewriters, carbon paper, a white potion to cover up mistakes and “snail mail” to prepare and submit poems for publication. Monday through Friday I’d work at my day job. Weekends I’d spend writing and revising poems. Revising poems took more time than writing them and that is still the case today, decades later. 

 On Monday morning on the way to work, I’d sometimes mail as many as 14 envelopes to university journals and “little magazines,” as the latter were then called. Some university journals are still with us. Some are published in print only and others have begun the inevitable transformation by appearing in print and simultaneously on the web. 

 “Little magazines,” especially those published in print without a presence on the web, are rare in 2012. One might say, however, that their format has been reincarnated in hundreds of website publications that vary in design, content and frequency of publication. Depending on the site, new poems can appear daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually. For many writers, these websites are a godsend. Some “serious” writers, however, still feel that a poem has not been “published” until it has appeared on paper. 

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Four Poems and a video extravaganza by Jason Hardung

Posted in Jason Hardung with tags on November 25, 2012 by Scot


When I watch a woman dance
she becomes less human
and more real.  Moved by
something greater than the strings
that pull us through our days.

She lets go,
the heavens open up,
the spotlight shines down-
she moves oblivious.



After the poetry reading
she introduces herself
and calls me “amazing.”

I wish I felt the same way.

She does not realize yet
I am not my poems

but only the scraps that are left-
the words never used.


(for Michelle)

My veins have collapsed
although I live in paradise.
I forgot how music made us move
in the cab of my silver pick-up truck
out there in the barb wired fields
fucked over like flags in the wind.

We were method actors
in a shady B movie.
Background characters in somebody else’s life story.
We wore black and climbed the big tree in the park
out by I-80, as the whisp of  tail lights, like kicked up dust,
were a constant reminder
that there were other places to go
other people to be.
Things we’ve only seen thumbing through
fashion magazines, stoned on your bedroom floor.
It was either Bob Dylan or punk rock back then.
It’s where I fell in love with words.
Poetry came to me after you made me read Wilderness and Tarantula.
I wrote it to impress you.
I still have all of the break up letters you sent
and the plastic farm animals from the Salvation Army
that you shipped when I went out on my own.
I sat them on the window sill in Omaha.
You showed me how to be lonely.

I didn’t know what to think
when I heard you drowned in the river.
Since you were the one that taught me to swim.
Taught me I wasn’t as ugly as I thought
and that I have no control over anything.

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Beat Memoir # 9: The Punk & The Lama By Marc Olmsted

Posted in Beat Memior, Marc Olmsted with tags , on November 25, 2012 by Scot

gaps in suffering


big as Mt. Fuji

 chatting with

  the Buddhist nuns

      over tea


Now I was a punk writer, age 35, living with a Tibetan lama, recovering from Hollywood and alcoholism in a San Francisco late 80’s landscape of rock clubs, tattoos, piercings, 12-step meetings and personal ads.

I came back to my room after a visit to the nearby Haight.  Christiane had shoved a note under the door, another resident of the Center who was French, into Burroughs – really sharp Buddhist student.  Allen Ginsberg, was coming to town for a book signing!  This seemed incredibly auspicious, it was just two weeks since I was back in town and three years since Allen had been in San Francisco.  Made me feel confident in my move out of Hollywood and my efforts to restore myself as poet, for Allen had helped get me published in a few prestigious journals and had been a longtime champion and teacher.  I had nearly stopped writing poetry at all age 20 when I met him, frustrated with a college scene that wasn’t particularly supportive of the shaggy aesthetic I was offering, directly out of the tradition of writers like Jack Kerouac, but without the refinement that would come with Allen Ginsberg’s tutelage.

And now Allen was coming into town, our sexual relationship over for 8 years, our friendship intact.  I had broken off sex when I moved in with Gretchen and never resumed it in the horror of AIDS.

Above all, he had taught me Buddhist meditation, awareness of the outbreath dissolving into space.  We had sat together naked in his San Francisco room.  It began my interest – I was at the Meditation Center because of him.  Bill Voigt was in 3 year retreat because of him, though never slept with him, but studied poetry at Naropa, the Buddhist writing college Ginsberg helped found in Boulder.

Ginsberg would be reading at the Jewish Community Center and I got Christiane the French writer to accompany me.  First thing I saw was author Michael McClure, who looked remarkably fit after his last boozy appearance.  Turned out he’d quit coke and had either stopped the drinking or cut back considerably.  McClure was amazingly handsome – even James Dean might not have made such a stately appearance in his 50s if he’d survived.  “You look great,” I said, having met him a number of times.  “So do you,” meaning he liked my ninja flattop.  I briefly talked to Ginsberg beforehand and he saw that I got into the event free.  As usually, people swarmed him.  What a good feeling to see his bald pate again, like an emanation of the writing muse come to reassure me – it’s o.k. to be a poet – fuck Hollywood – we’ll work something out.
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Ripping up marriage material by Cassandra Dallett

Posted in Cassandra Dallett on November 25, 2012 by Scot

Kneeling in rice that’s what love is like to me
My own weightiness wounding red
grains to bone
I Beg to be lifted by armpits
Always in trouble I try to talk my way out
A spinning firecracker I hiss smoke
Sometimes we are good and drunk
A glass too many and I want to fight
You cry face red too emotional you say
Sobriety doesn’t help much I’m frozen
Can’t glue my cracks bleach my stained teeth
I worry you’ll leave to get high
And I can’t be that reason
The reason for you on the wagon or under its wheels
Neither one
I’m an asshole I know
But here goes; I don’t like to fuck the people I love
It’s too disappointing and real
I like to fuck people I don’t love so I can pretend to
People married and locked up
after acting out
in a sweat
I pull my clothes on and walk away.

Almost Heaven by Arlin Buyert

Posted in Arlin Buyert with tags on November 25, 2012 by Scot

Our Iowa farm cradles me
with its stately red barn,
white clapboard farmhouse
and family grave yard on the hill.

Straight but swaying rows of tall corn
dig quietly into the black dirt,
as the oat field rolls with the wind
on the back 40.

Guernsey cows bow down
and grind their cud in the pasture
that is neatly parted by Rock Creek
and guarded by the windmill’s fan.

Chickens scratch with alternating claws
for a speck of left-over corn
and Tippie our terrier tends the night
that lights Big Dipper and Orion’s belt.

But then–I behead and strip
a young rooster for suppertime.
Winter snow crushes our hog-house roof
and the Holstein bull gores our neighbor (never again).

Lightning finds five calves under the cottonwood tree
and July hail hacks the beans and oats.
A late frost claims the early corn
and the corn picker maims my uncle’s hand.

Our old sow eats her piglets—
“Son of a bitch!  Son, go get the 22.”

My Mother At 80: the Day She Fell In Love by Angela Consolo Mankiewic

Posted in Angela Consolo Mankiewicz with tags on November 25, 2012 by Scot

It happened one afternoon
in melancholy heat

I was in no mood to hear
no mood to be compensated
no mood

She was waiting inside the front door,
waiting to hear my knock, waiting
to hear herself say:

“Use your key … why don’t you ever
use your key ….?”

Inside this house of unflinching indifference
I bent down to kiss her cheek and felt a tremor
through her shoulder, saw what seemed a near-blush,
a self-conscious smile and then:

“You’d think I was in love with you.”

I turned away, laid the bag of my better grapefruit
on the kitchen table, requested the afternoon’s itinerary.

“Oh,” she said, “just the market today”
and something else, something other than
You’d think I was in love with you.

I looked at the words
then looked again
before putting them away
one sound at a time
into a secret box
at the farthest corner
of the highest shelf
I could reach


Lewd Act on a Child by Jon Wesick

Posted in Jon Wesick with tags on November 25, 2012 by Scot

The judge, the bench
the gleaming courthouse, its clean hallways
and eloquent professionals, polite and neatly dressed.
The doe-eyed man in the defendant’s chair
has a shaved head, mahogany skin,
wears a brown Hugo Boss suit.
Seeing him come and go as he pleases,
you could mistake him for a millionaire
gold watch, slender daughter aged between girl and woman.

This poem is a question.
The state invites fifty jurors
to this performance.
only half RSVP. The others
have already acted in sad dramas
all too similar to this one.
“Who has the burden of proof?”
“Can you convict on the word of one person?”
Twelve are chosen.

Blonde with a face not yet lined by maturity
the victim was once friends
with the doe-eyed man’s daughter.
even the judge winces when in tears,
arms clamped over her chest, the victim
says the doe-eyed man put his finger inside her.
The doe-eyed man says,
“Never happened.”
No physical evidence.
Only a recorded phone call.

In the deliberation room
eleven jurors accelerate
from zero to conviction
in less than seven seconds.
Innocent until proven guilty –
so out of fashion these days.
I munch courtroom bagels
while the foreman fuels
the steamroller of peer pressure.

At night the tapeworm of rage
gnaws my brain. Easier to find
unicorns and lizard milk
than a fair trial.     Still,
that suspicious phone call.
Why would an adult
tell a fourteen-year-old,
“I wish you were eighteen?”

The jury returns a conviction.
Look at the victim’s smile of vindication.
Look at the doe-eyed man’s impassive face.
Look at his daughter grimace and wail.
Now answer my goddamned question.


BRIEFS by John Grey

Posted in John Grey with tags on November 25, 2012 by Scot

To think these lilies
won’t be here come morning.
From my window,
I watch them
flutter in the cool breeze,
their white throats
glare in full-moon light.

In the corner
of the coffee shop,
a young girl gets up to leave,
closes book,
Neruda I think,
one last quick sip of
coffee, the color of
the long brown hair
I’ve been sipping slowly.

Shooting star
crosses the sky,
n eye film
between two blinks.

Face in a train window,
melody on my tongue,
gone before my memory can name it,
a glimpse of something fawn
in the brush…
like all brevity,
there’s nothing to it
but for me.

Fish by Neil Ellman

Posted in Neil Ellman with tags on November 25, 2012 by Scot

Even when I was not quite five
I knew that water would be
the death of me
and so I made a vow:
“I shall never grow scales
or be a fish”
and then one day
when I was almost six
my mother threw me
into the public pool
and I flapped my arms
becoming fins
a fish trapped in a jar
of formaldehyde
where I stayed her little boy
proudly displayed in her étagère
for everyone to see.

Two poems by Alan Catlin

Posted in Alan Catlin on November 5, 2012 by Scot

Lounge People Listening, Waiting for “The End”

Young America 1970, half wasted
drinking from the keg of perpetual
flowing beer, sacred font open 24 hour
a day, for charter members of Roosevelt
Drive Social Club, duplex of dharma
bums, a month away from graduation
and a letter of greetings and salutations
from Uncle Sam draft board;
black robes and mortar board hats in May,
jungle fatigues by October, flag draped
coffin by the first of the year, full military
honors; it had happened before and it would
happen again.  No one mentioning what lay
ahead, but everyone aware of the elephant
in the crowded living room, the Woodstock
Live album on so loud Jimi Hendrix made
ears bleed the national anthem,  taking you
higher as Sly and the Family Stone and
the hydroponic weed smuggled in from
who knew where, classes some kind of Kent
State nightmare no one bothered with any more.
Interiors so crowded early spring afternoons
relocating all the furniture outside on the lawn
under the high flying drinking flag: a martini
with olives on a cresting wave, seemed the only
way to fly, all the summers of love over,
young ladies on the daybed/couch dressed
in funereal black, white skulls on gold chains
around their necks, dead eyes and too red lips,
all the gone tomorrows, today, that seemed to
say, abandon hope all ye who enter here.



The war never ends on all
those twelve hour shifts in
his mind, humping the night
as if it were a twenty dollar whore
downloaded for action the duration
of a three day pass.
Even stateside, mustered out,
nothing changed him, nothing altered
his focus, selling cash crops from
backdoor saloons, boatloads of pure
and suitcases of dinero, calling all
the shots for every deal that came
down, a posse of dead beat,
human moray eels on steroids
for protection, everywhere he went.
Downtime, clubbing with his crew,
more of a black ops mission than
a special occasion. A date, grabbing
some babe and having her
strong armed into nearest empty
room for an upclose and private
encounter , just her and the boys.
A wad of twenties and some blow
left behind, along with the wreckage
of her life.  No one dared complain.
Not then. Not ever.
No one crossed him on a business
deal either since the rumor started
was , he might pop someone, anyone,
just for drill. What he might do to an
actual offending party, unthinkable.
Out of town connections said he was
malo malo loco, was one tour of duty
and a deal from being lord of the
underground, a few heart beats
from immortal. No reason to change
the perceived, he thought. Not in this
life. Nor in any other.