Monday, December 22, 2008

J.D. Nelson

The Good News Dumpsters of Chicago

BLAB-OON IN A TEST TUBE: This is some first-rate carrot cake!

DUNGAREE CLYDE: Mirror plaid -- the lyre is smelty.

BLAB-OON IN A TEST TUBE: I'd be better off if I were a potted plant.

DUNGAREE CLYDE: Butter nuff ye scone!

BLAB-OON IN A TEST TUBE: Ask for crackers & a lantern.

DUNGAREE CLYDE: I ain't jokely -- ching wooze alumna.

BLAB-OON IN A TEST TUBE: Whose nuts are in this dish?

DUNGAREE CLYDE: You deserve a snake today.



drifting off to sleep
I jump straight up out of bed --
spider on my nuts


Later, at Feeney's

COKES-ARE-ON-ME: Hey, gang -- Cokes are on me!

DR. ZOLAR: Seriously.

ATTN. PEAT: I lichen this to moss.

RECLUSE X'OR: I peanut buttered & I Shatnered.

OILY CUKE WARBLE: Ghana aftersauce.

COKES-ARE-ON-ME: Pie, Dr. Zolar?

DR. ZOLAR: Three point one four dot dot dot.

ATTN. PEAT: I lichen math jokes.

RECLUSE X'OR: Whadya mean, 'orchid pie' ?!

OILY CUKE WARBLE: Ghana aftersauce.


Good News for Night Owls

1. Salad-a-Day Jon has another red cabbage special.

2A. No more 4 in th' morn corn.
2B. No more blue soda.

3. There's a butterfly in the chocolate milk.

4. (backpack full of weed & zines)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Royce Icon: Great Name, Great Poems

An apology?

Whilst leaning towards oblivion,
I accidentally tripped on your eyelids,
Which smashed the fish-tank
In symphonic precision
And sent all of the fiji mermaids
Screaming on their bellies,
Ruining your white Christian carpet

In the aftermath,
I searched in my pockets
For some kind of apology
But all I found was link
And a very old condom,
So I guess this will have to do


> Flocking the seagulls

Steaming piles of worm food,
They exit their stables with glee:

I attach their pigeons
In order to avoid confusion
And feelings of preference:

I am king of desolation
And this is my bastard's song


> While you were sweating

Dismal orgies congregate
In groups of ten or twelve.
They sing old church hymns
And pass around the ganja,
Illusive and unimaginative
In their acts of rebellion

5 seconds later and it's time
To get back to work
Swinging slopping limbs
Into every available orifice


> No Sé Nada. Mija

Frustration mounts
Oregon drowns in sand
I lick my wounds
For the billionth time
And wonder:

Does it get better than this?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

review: Cemetery Country/ Yoga & Painting & Jazz & Travelling By Air

by Ronald Baatz and Mark Weber (Zerx Press, 2008)
Zerx Press, 725 Van Buren Place SE, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA 87108

This is a split chapbook with poems by Baatz on one side of the book and poems by Weber on the other. Zerx have done a few of these and they work well, especially since Weber, the Zerx editor, eschews the usual narcissistic attraction to poets who write like him and just pairs off with great writers.

Baatz, I think, may be just about the best there is (he'd be too humble even to countenance the idea, but I offer it for consideration anyway).I first knew him for great little haiku--the best I'd seen since Kerouac--but I've since realised he has tremendous range as a poet. The poems here are long(ish) personal poems about Ronald's dad, and his final months suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. The poems are moving without being mawkish, surreally tragically funny as dementia can occasionally be (I have worked with dementia sufferers and their confusion is perfectly portrayed), and--dare I say it in this cynical punkish post-Bukowski antipoetic age--grandly lyrical at the end: not in any self-conscious way--there's no arch language--it's just that the grand talent of the poet engaging with a subject that touches him deeply takes the writing to a level rarely seen since Ginsberg put down his pen on the final draft of "Kaddish".

Comparisons with Mark Weber's half of the book are useless, naturally, since as I've said Mark hasn't attempted to make the two sides cohere particularly (what you've got is two different books stapled together at the middle). But as different as "Yoga & Painting" is, it doesn't disappoint.

If you haven't read Weber you should. He's a disc jockey as well as a poet--playing jazz on a New Mexico radio station--and he used to be in a terrific band called The Bubbadinos if he isn't still. His free verse long-lined poems talk and walk like jazz improvisation without any of the affectations of other poets influenced by jazz or with an overhang of the Beat era whispering in their minds (even when, like Weber, they're trying to ignore it) (I don't know who Mark's poetic influences are, so that may be a huge assumption): Weber's voice is entirely his own, and his subjects are his own too--who else would write one about being asked to take off a beanie hat at a jazz concert, or how annoying it is when house painters blast hip hop music from a van radio while on a job? (He's right, it is.)

Perhaps the best poem on the Weber side of the book, at least in the sense that its meaning touches the reader most, is "The Saddest Day in America", which is about his father being called a pervert because he tries to watch some kids playing basketball. It's the way the world is going--that paranoia, that cynicism, that sense of being closed-off from your neighbour by fear.

This book reminds us that great poetry is one of the vital weapons we have against the darkness being brought down on us in the present age by free market capitalists, communists, Christian and Muslim fundamentalists, everybody who believes the real life is in Heaven or only in the cold iron of what Ginsberg calls "the dull material world". This is why we're doing what we're doing.

There were 400 copies pressed, by the way, so if you're interested you'd better get a move on and contact Mark at Zerx.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


tottering state selected poems 1963-1987 by tom raworth (Paladin Poetry 1988)ISBN 0-586-08705-2

I came across this one in an Oxfam shop in Kettering on Saturday, retailing for a quid, which is a criminal price to pay for such a great collection, but my principles, it would seem, are more intellectual than actual! I'd not come across Tom Raworth before. A quick check of his biography, though, showed that he belongs, chronologically if by no other token, to that best-of-all generations of British poets born just before or after World War II. Lee Harwood also had a Paladin anthology, which sits on my shelf at home. Chris Torrance I'd corresponded with for a while, but during a house move I lost all his letters and his address. A sin and a shame, as someone said elsewhere. Anselm Hollo, whom Raworth collaborated with on Haiku in 1968, was one of the poets present at Wholly Communion, the Royal Albert Hall poetry reading in the mid-Sixties that this site takes its url from. They were fabulous poets all, and we've not been able to match their achievements yet. (One question: from such a stellar generation of poetical talents, how come Roger McGough was the one who became best known?)

I don't like the language of ordinary or academic criticism, especially when it comes to poetry, because somehow it never captures the essence of what the poet is doing, and in a way, excuses you from having to engage with the piece itself. But if you can find a copy of this book you should engage. Raworth writes beautiful, complex, funny poetry, some of it with haiku-like precision and clarity, some of it seeming like painting that shows its meaning through tones and colours, some of it marvellous linguistic experiments (I don't know!), but all of it, when it's not just making you laugh, coming at you with ideas, with a certain take on the world; it's not just poetry because the poet hadn't written a poem yet that day, as it sometimes is now in the magazines and on the internet with the plethora of new poets advances in communication have brought bubbling to the surface like brown water from a drain. Raworth's take on the world might change from book to book, from poem to poem--he (or we) might not be able to pin down what his take on the world is, precisely (or want to!)--but we know he is thinking, while he's serving up these juicy little slices of his mind for us. And intelligence, or the use of it, is one thing we can never have enough of in art or in life.

After I read the book, by the way, I looked Raworth up on the internet and found him at .Here you can catch up with the work Tom has been doing since 1988 (if you find this book first), or get yourself an overview of his entire (if you'll forgive the critic's word) ouevre. I was going to present you with a publication list, but since it's already available over there, you might as well go there. It'll be the best link you type in all week if you care about poetry and want to read the best of it, past and present (and sometimes "new"--as in "make it new"--doesn't necessarily mean "most recent", eh?)

Afterword Tom tells me that your chances of finding this edition of the book are slim because Rupert Murdoch, that intellectual giant, social philanthropist and supporter of the arts, had all the Paladin poetry books pulped when he took over the company. A crime that puts my stealing of my copy of the book for a quid into perspective. What black karma Murdoch must have brought for himself sanctioning the destruction of all that intelligence, all that refinement, all that creativity, all that beauty. But there is a more recent COLLECTED POEMS you can buy. Go to Tom's site for details.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Short Review: 888 by J.D.Nelson

Mad Verse Press PO Bok 6114, Boulder, CO 80306, USA

I don't know what J.D.Nelson is doing. I don't know what to call his impenetrably eccentric little poems. But I know I like them. I also know that nobody I've heard of is doing anything remotely similar, which in the world of contemporary poetry--where almost everything feels like a retread of something else--that's quite remarkable. Poems in this little (13 page) collection have titles like "Wednesday, Otto?" and "The spiders won't concede" (the flipping between upper and lower case is J.D.'s, not mine), and each one takes you somewhere a little different than the last, or the next. They're so short that quoting three lines would give away most of the poem, if barely any of the meaning (do thay have meaning?), so I won't present a quote. I will urge you to contact J.D. for purchase details, however. If you want to buy poetry by living poets, you should at least try one who's doing something that hasn't been done better by the dead. Bruce.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Yvon Cormier

Yvon Cormier writes from an insatiable nomadic intelligence which obsesses over what is unsaid and the seemingly invisible aspects of daily life. His work is rooted in drawing life pictures where words owe a greater debt to what they represent rather than the reverse.
He has been published in Long River Run, 2007, The Diarist's Journal, Oct. 2002, and in Covert Press # 2 (in print & online), Nibble a poetry magazine, and Heroin Love Songs. His chapbook of Jazz & Blues influenced poetry & prose is titled Life Sketches in Blue (Select Edition)[D/E/A/D/B/E/A/T/ Press].

Yellow Paint

Canary sunset on white sand stolen from the goddess of a tropical island

Mango banana light layered on this abode, layers brushed by many hands.

Silence exudes from this lemon surface with empty windows wide,

split clapboard showing bottomless slits where paint never hid,

pillows untouched on an empty bed. A chimney with no smoke and

a train track where trains never stop.

A porter with memories of that same house when it was blue

A tale not told of raw rum, smoky light, slurred notes, and mason jar gin,

sipped through sloppy grins. Gumbo perfumes intoxicated minds and hearts,

with a thirst in spiritual lust. Candles dwindled while lovers kindled.

All before dawn having to run out back to not get shot leaving the Sugar shack-

as lemonade gin fizz spilled down the steps.

A framed matting with three spotted feathers on a wall in the back hall hung

by a person no one knew who hung those same feathers from a hunting trip,

to commemorate this as a train stop.

No new soul will ever know the three feather ceremony, the juke joint scramble,

the porter whose mind rambled reminiscing of brighter times from blue days or

the brightness outside concealing the darkest brilliance inside. These were exceptional

moments of impermanence.

As birds inflect their clarinet warble and throaty rattled speech, the train whistle blows

and shakes the earth, the shack a clamor as the Metro North rolls on.

Cracked as a clay riverbed, a yellow once risen soaked into hungry walls where

amber tints remain. By night the Milwaukee Special rests in stockyards of Mexico.

Only its ghost light steams past this quiet cobalt friend, this now hollow sunflower dwelling, in the forever night.


Compelled by excitement of our shared experience, you tell your family of me, while I sit quietly scanning a response, perhaps an acknowledgment that I really exist. To them I am an abstraction, a mere anecdote at the dinner table, something to wonder about but never tangible.

As I sit questions come from them as though I could whip out a resume of hipness and things that might spark approval in their eyes. Here I sit like a lion caged behind blue eyes, being poked and prodded for signs of life, only entertainment to them based on potential, a figment of cartoon expectations and all seen are reduced to a caricature. A former self I’ve felt but never met.

Reduced to a shaggy beast who swats flies with his tail, and only wants water rather than a few last minute zoo-goers, mocking him by poor imitation and gesture. Their foolish attempts to incite response nearly compelled my reaction.

There are those situations one finds oneself in where people act out the role of who they think you are and summon predictable responses. You’ll go back to those times of childhood even as an old man-- you’ll always be your mothers’ baby. These reflections were safe only for a few moments.

The “Family” in front of me tailored questions which demanded direct interaction. They were unavoidable. At unawares, they bore fangs of friendship, to see what makes me tick. Like the forever child, I felt compelled to give this family what they thought they wanted. At the same time, part of me resisted becoming the dancing monkey and my friends’ kind words about me acted like the grinders’ clarinet.

The regal mane and golden fur were all still here just without attached meaning by these family members because I was still king of a jungle they would never know.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal


I wish I had the strength
to bear the pain of life,
where my caged heart suffers,
and the only one I

ever loved is someone
else’s bride. What God has
made this my gift? Why was
I created at all?

I rise each morning and
face the divine sun’s blows.
At night, I live in dreams.


There is passion in the words
of poets who fall in love with their first poems.
In ecstasy they wave their publication credits
around. They seek praise like a dog that can
roll over, sit, or play dead. The clapping hands
are few, some attached to the hands of other poets,
who seek the same praise for their own first poems
fresh out of their minds or fashioned at workshops
where poetry is trapped and put to death.


The last time we kissed,

I had no poems in my journals,
no wild stories about beasts or madhouses,
no longing for the music of a woman’s laughter,
no chants about the divine.

The lines came after,
some given to me by you.

I needed you more.

If I had to take score,
I would always struggle
with what life had in store for me.
I did not know what to do.

Without you I feel like nothing.
Who knows how I made it this long?
And I know I exaggerate a little.
I still don’t know if my life is a waste.

Will there be more love before I’m laid to rest?
A twist of fate
might arise out of this darkness.
I would take you back in a second.
There is no denying that.

Whatever is left of this heart,
whatever life I have left,
I would trade every poem I ever wrote for you.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Before Tomorrow
--- “There is no crime of which I cannot conceive myself guilty.”… Goethe

I’m in no hurry to leave the close-spaced security of the bus, so I lean back in my seat and wait until everyone is out. Then I walk to the front, take two steps down-back in the “real world”.

After four years, three tours in Iraq, and two days of military psych-docs attempting to drive out the bad times with clever talk and good intentions, I am discharged-officially cut loose from a surreal world of free-fire zones and indiscriminate killing.

Citizen X: deprogrammed, purified, and deposited on easy hometown streets.

I am uncomfortable in the uniform, a costume that has defined me for so long-now meaningless. I am a phantom in an empty coat. It’s clear, that in this place, I am lost. Scenes cataloged in heartbreaking detail have no place here. Stories that once burned blood red-gone cold as the ghosts who breathed them.

The low hum of the idling Greyhound mixes with the fumes of diesel fuel to fill the night air with noisy poison. A skinny panhandler wearing a camouflage T-shirt sits crumpled like lost luggage outside the depot. One of those forgotten people living a half-life just beyond anybody’s caring.

At his side, a wrinkled square of cardboard-a kind of faded-brown American business card. Scrawled across the front is the familiar graffiti, “Out of Work.” One look at this guy and I know he’s done for. The whole fucking story is right there in his eyes-like looking at the floor of the ocean.

He looks up at me as if I could save him.

Standing just out of range of a street lamp, I watch the shadows of tree branches move along the empty avenue. Almost every night, I come to stare at this vacant lot on the corner-the spot where the Lighthouse Baptist Church once stood.

One drunken Saturday night back in 1975 my father, lonely for God, broke into the little wooden sanctuary and doused the whole place with gasoline. Then he took a seat in the front pew, lit a Lucky Strike, and burnt the son-of-a-bitch down around his ears-the last “Zippo Party”.

My father spent most of his life in a rage. When the whiskey was talking, the old man would rave about “search and destroy” patrols wiping out entire Vietnamese villages. When there was no one left to waste, they’d flip open their cigarette lighters, and burn everything to the ground-“Zippo Party”.

“Another shithole gone-a few more “dink” hearts and minds pacified.”

There was a time when I believed my father was a mad man. There was a time when I believed in simple right and wrong. There was a time when I believed in all of the “necessary illusions”. Enough to put my soul on the line. Enough to go out and confront things I did not understand.

Bent under the weight of things that can never be set right, I slide a shaky right hand inside my jacket pocket and retrieve a half-pint of I.W. Harper. I raise a toast to the Lighthouse Baptist Church.

Somewhere a lost dog howls. I step from the curb-a windblown bird into the crazy night.

Room 105 is hot. Shades and curtains drawn. Fractured light from the muted television. The air conditioner hums, but puts out nothing.

I stand naked staring at my flickering reflection in the bathroom mirror. My hair is growing fast, and I haven’t shaved since the day I became a civilian. I do not recognize myself.

I turn on the cold water, bend over, and drink from my hand. I smile at the idea of trying to get clean with the tiny bar of hotel soap on the sink. I let the water run through my fingers and watch in a trance-round and round and down the hole. Feeling a little light-headed, I turn off the water, walk into the bedroom, and sit on the edge of the bed.

Each day I draw a new plan in my head. I imagine impossible strategies that I will carry out before tomorrow. I try to picture blueprints for a cause that will somehow fill this void inside that grows dark, and is beginning to eat through.

How long since I’ve been out of this room? When was the last time I ate? Two days-three days-more...

I’ve lost track of time. I no longer feel any obligation to the clock.

I wonder how “time” became so goddamn important-the whole fucking concept. Humans trying to stamp order on chaos. And then, once we’re on the clock, we spend the rest of our lives worrying about how much time we have left before we’re dust-clicking the remote control, desperately searching for a sacred channel that will save us all. How many more bullshit/sleight-of-hand distractions until… poof-and a pile of ashes?

I lie back in bed and close my eyes. I try to empty my brain. I wait for the thing that I can hear coming.

In a half-sleep, I can feel the emptiness that stretches out from my body in every direction-360 degrees of nothing, as dead as a disconnected phone.

I open the back door to my mind and dream-walk through the wreckage scattered across the floor of my memory. A dark room of unrecognizable images. My mind is out of control. Dreams have become one with the dreamer.

A dull thumping in my head-the dragon is at the gate. I open my mouth to call out-to give myself up. My vocal cords are paralyzed. The thumping grows louder against the heavy silence.

I wake up in a sweat. Someone is knocking hard at the door. Still confused, I stumble naked across the room, unlock the door, and throw it open.

Standing in the night rain-five men. All dressed in the same strange uniform-long white coats and black shirts. Black berets with some sort of badge on front. Two of them are very young-steely-eyed boys armed with short-barrel, pump-action shotguns.

The man in front has a full beard, and seems to be the leader of the group. He raises his right hand, takes a short-step forward, and says with authority, “Sir, I arrest you in the name of The Virtuous Circle.”

Unshaken, I stare out into the empty, rain-slicked streets-mute. The traffic light at the intersection blinks yellow.

The honcho points toward the two men stationed to his left. They move quickly. One takes out handcuffs, and secures my hands behind my back. The other slips a black bag over my head.

Raindrops cool my body as I’m led across the hotel parking lot. I am helped into the back of what is obviously a van. The door slams shut. Rain comes down harder, clattering against the metal roof, drowning out any other sounds. For the first time in years, I can breathe out.

When the hood is removed, I am standing alone on a small stage. A run-down movie house. Dark except for a single footlight directed toward my face. The two shotgun wielding kids are positioned on the floor directly below me.

I can make out an audience of silent, shadowy figures standing with arms raised above their heads in a mock-religious pose. The air is stuffy and nearly unbreatheable. I have the strange feeling that I have played this scene before.

The recognizable voice of the bearded leader comes out of the dark.

“The defendant may now voice his plea.”

If my heart was made of stone, I could resort to the fine art of denial and deflection. I could say that I was just doing my job. I could say that it was all about getting even. I could say how fucking tired I always was because I could never let up. Constantly wired together tight, because there was no way to tell the enemy from the innocent civilians, until eventually they became one and the same.

But for me there is nothing left except a desire to be finished.

I’m about to speak, when the quiet is interrupted by a sharp, metallic click. The flare from a cigarette lighter draws my attention toward the balcony. Caught in the light from the flame, the outline of a man’s face. Eyes on fire, he lights a cigarette.

He studies me intensely for a few seconds, then nods a greeting.

I smile, and nod back. Tick… Tick… Tick… nowhere to run-nowhere to hide-no falling to the floor and crawling inside myself…

I glance down toward my silent accusers-back up toward the burning face in the balcony. With some effort, I manage to say the word.


Instantly and in sync, the armed guards rack their shotguns.

The cigarette lighter clicks closed.

The room goes completely dark.

Friday, June 13, 2008


blow it all away
--- for Brautigan

tiny voice
of the counter-culture
found-dead as hell
rotting on the floor
beside a bottle
& a .44-loser
in a one-man gunfight
against a deadly hand
caught unprepared
during those minutes
of the day & night
when nasty
black fingers
started to pull
at his dirty shirt tail
by the hip crowd
who once waltzed
like children of hamlin
to his clever songs
searching for a little
fucking grace
in the frayed face
of sister suicide-
the forever hungry
cannibals circle naked
around his body
tearing away chunks
of another deserted son
no longer watched over
by the fickle
machine of mercy


in the gentleman’s
john-defunct exxon
out-of-luck eyes
hard as roman nails
bony back
to the wall
dead man
at nothing at all
shaky tones
into a full-blown
smoker’s hack
rattling ‘round
the unholy sanctuary
top floor of hell
holding cell that smells
like a dress rehearsal
for the cemetery


clean-collar commuters
peer from the cover
of stylish shades
taking secret comfort
in a pathetic apparition
in an army overcoat
face down
in a pool of piss
in the mute humility
of his own guilt
while inside crusty
rust-filled ears
distant city traffic
hums like a “huey”-
spectral medevac
searching for a soul
lost forty years ago
somewhere along
the mekong river

Friday, May 09, 2008

Zachari James Popour.

“dear molasses thick remembrance”

molasses thick
supplement free in
your bathrobe.
i am comfortable
at ease
with blinders
self severed periphery
shake-less hands
sketching the lonely
from the scaffolding
of regurgitated hope;
having snapped
off the spokes of
the forgetful.
it's best
to not look
as we resonate
on the wobble.

“call me old fashioned”

"can you believe the girls that are walking around these days?"
said the stranger in front of the urinal
next to mine.
i let out a cro-magnon grunt
stare forward
count tiles.
truth is
i have to.
they strut
their chins cut air
enough flesh on display to cause hard on's
and heartache.
sucking blow pops
in thigh highs.
tight, buxom, shaved
an awkward shake
in their asses.
too young
too much too soon
my god,
these girls
could bring any man to their knees
take over countries
and make us beg
like dogs beneath a dinner table.
they know it
but so do I.
the stranger flushes
i give it a good shake
and follow suit.
he turns on the sink
and begins to wash his hands
and i walk out
with piss
on my shoes.

“fluctuation in routine currents”

the ambience?
like hotel rooms
and perfect

every color
has it's own
each tone
rocks you
like a shot to the liver.

there's speculation
and in front of
locked doors/
an easiness in symmetry
and 90° angles.

breezes pace
the emptiness,
particles of dust
scale the vortex.

i fill half a cup,
take a hit,
then level off
the divots
in time
with plaster
of paris,

and step outside
to tempt
the sun.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal


Pick your poison.
The buffet line
is open.

Let your eyes go blind
with desire,
make mad the mind.

Death by sugar.
Death by salt.
Death by everything
your eyes see
and want.

A craving for booze,
hard drugs, and
loose women.

Let your eyes go blind
with desire,
make mad the mind.

Death by alcohol.
Death by coke or meth.
Death by sexual disease.
Your eyes see
and lust.


I represent
the human race.
If that's not
enough pressure,
give me my madness
and you keep the cure.

I represent
what is real and
what evil
entities I
get my commands from.
I cannot be good.

Let the world have
its heroes.
I'll be the
wildcard, who needs
to be saved or locked
up for the good of

the human race
I represent.
I'll succumb
to the pressure
because my madness
cannot be contained.


I hear voices from time to time
telling me to be careful.
I feel like I am being followed
by no one in particular.
If the doctor set me free,
I have no friends or family to see.
I get a little sad sometimes.
In the streets strangers appear
to me like old, lost friends.
I call out their names, but
they ignore me and keep walking.
These tattoos bother me. I
have one of my old lady’s face on
my chest, but we have gone our
separate ways. Since the divorce
I can’t stay out of psych wards.
The tattoo of my dead mother
on my left arm makes me sad.
I hear her voice sometimes
telling me to be careful, son.
I can’t contain my grief. All I want is
for my madness and sadness to end.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Jennifer C. Wolfe

Winston Smith for the Modern Age

I am an enemy combatant. I did not know that I was, but the fine people of the US Department of Homeland Security assured me that I was. Perhaps I did not gaze at the American flag as admiringly as my surrounding compatriots did or maybe my vocalized herald within the “USA…USA…USA” repetitive chant of properly displayed patriotism was not as charismatic as the undimmed voices around me. I may even have checked out a suitably suspect piece of reading or viewing material at my local library. I honestly did not recall?
The US Department of Justice had summarily justified their classification of my being an enemy combatant. Nice, wholesome, well informed people in all-American clothing regalia came to my house to personally inform me of my shamefully diminutive status. They comforted me and put my awkward fears to rest, as they clicked the shiny manacles around my trembling wrists and ankles. They then whisked me away in the locked back of a camouflage painted over Brinks armored truck provided for my safety. A cottony textured black fabric was even supplied to protect my eyes from witnessing further traitorous atrocities I had unwittingly committed against my country.
Upon kitting me out in a lovely orange jumpsuit and comfortably sharp edged plastic flip-flops, I was taken to my very own place of solitude, where smirking men in expensive business suits came to speak exclusively with me. We talked for hours on end about my impetuous disloyalty and played endless verbal games of twenty questions centering upon the complexities of my multi-layered levels of unpatriotic dissent. The men all had copies of my distraught letters to my local newspaper’s editorial department. They sounded as if they had committed their typed, blasphemous words to memory. I was impressed.
To aid me in answering some of the questions, sturdy officers guided me to a cool cement floor where my face was draped in a thin towel while water was poured down from above. I think someone somewhere referred to it as water boarding. Why, it felt so much like a pleasant shower that my desperate, choking attempts to breathe were all but forgotten. With my lungs pushed to the verge of collapse, I felt certain medical officials must have been watching the session as an inspirational treatment for asthmatics. I was, after all, the non-patriotic bad seed, resisting the protective efforts of the government so eager to save me from myself.
Upon resurrecting me from the depths of transformational liquidity, I was seated in a regally straight posture atop an uncompromising steel chair. The stress of my locked wrist and ankle chains proved as efficient as the most brisk treatment I might have received from the chiropractor. The black fabric re-submerged my eyes from the harsh overhead glare of the bare light bulb. Well-meaning, unseen men asked me repetitive questions, patiently waiting for me to answer them correctly. Adeptly placed blows against my body informed me of any incorrect responses issued from my misguided lips.
When human physicality proved ineffective at purging me of my stubborn clinging to the illusion of the principle: “innocent until proven guilty,” I became starkly aware of a strident electric current coursing through my body. I imagine it must have been elegant to survey my restrained bodily limbs contorting about like some violently manipulated life-size marionette. Too bad the black fabric prevented me from seeing my helpful friends’ supportive smiles. Their spoken applause of my uncontrollable jerking movements left me feeling disoriented, though proud. I was beginning to show promise, they informed me, which brought grateful, frenzied laughter welling up from the innermost depths of my soul.
In the end, of course, I was sent away to the sunny tropical island paradise of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where loving, adoptive soldiers presided over my every waking and sleeping moment with kindhearted care. Often, this caring manifested itself with them gently positioning me into stress offsetting yoga-like kneeling forms that I silently held for hours at a time, determined to impress them with my thankful fortitude.
When I reached my aspired to platform of being successfully rehabilitated of my unpatriotic disloyalty, I was returned to my home, astonished to discover three years had passed since my enemy combatant odyssey had begun. My friends and neighbors wept openly at my sparkling new attitude, the old familiar governmental cynicism and distrust burned away. My family, of course, was not there to welcome me. It was required that they be cured of any disloyal undertones, too. I understood that, now. Two freshwater tears trickled down the sides of my surgically repaired nose. I was now bereft of my formerly cruel, needless misunderstanding! I was no longer a stubborn, self-willed exile from the open arms of my President’s welcoming embrace! With a host of watchful generosity and the passionate structure of stringent corrective measures designed for my ultimate well being, I had successfully won the victory over myself. I loved Big Government. Or was it Big Brother? Or was Big Brother George W. Bush—father and architect of the illustrious War on Terror doctrinal philosophy? It was somewhat confusing, but then, my mind had been washed completely clean and was a fresh and vibrant new white board for governmental figures to record my every unquestioning obeisance upon.
What a wondrous new frontier I had embarked upon! I marveled! I sobbed joyously at my fortuitous, narrow rescue from my previously self-willed descent into unpatriotic purgatory. I had been saved from myself and was no longer an enemy combatant. Indeed, I felt as though I had never been one, to begin with, so renewed was my spirit of formerly obscured love for America. Those who policed my obstinate, ungrateful thoughts were my selfless benefactors, worthy of my heartfelt gratitude until the hour of my happy, vapid demise.

(Is it live, or is it facial-pattern recognition software?)

There is so much more to people
Than is openly enshrouded upon their faces:

A deeply furrowed brow
May express nervous energy
Or rejuvenated anger

Eyebrows tilted upward
Indicate as much candid surprise
As they do sordid shock

A flash of the eyes
Runs a heavy emotional gambit
From silent capitulation to emboldened realization

A deeply-inhaling nose
Seeks the scent of fragrant wildflowers
(Or is it hay fever’s vicious post-nasal drip?)

The cheekbones’ bright red patches
Focus upon winter’s stark cold
As equally as upon a night of warm imbibing

Whistling lips inspire Hollywood men
Building bridges across River Kwai
Or the summoning of the headstrong family dog

Free flowing smiles demonstrate all
From enlivened joy found in momentous occasion
To sarcastic rancor experienced in cruel deception

The dimples that encase those smiles
The only facial lines found “cute”
When one is not still a youngster

Sloping chins jut forward; outward
A human precipice heralding
The thinker’s closed fist or the boxer’s jaw snapped back

Faces’ elaborate facets, like the twisting jumble
Of multi-colored beads turned inside the kaleidoscope
Can be recorded, analyzed, and categorized:

Ask any FBI representative

Monday, March 24, 2008


19 Straight Whiskeys

If I would have been
there at the Chelsea Hotel,
with Dylan Thomas
the night
they drove him away
in an ambulance.
I would have told him all
the fame and booze
was mutilating
his soul.
The hangers on, writers, editors,
other drunks, leeches, and the women
spreading their
nylon legs.
All of them killing him,
or watching him die
and doing nothing to stop it.
They say he said on that night
“I’ve had 18 straight whiskeys. I think
that’s the record.”
I would have told him all that shit was killing him.
I would have cut him off at 9 whiskeys.
But then again, maybe I might’ve
kept my nose out
of his business and matched him
drink for drink,
going on and beating his record
with 19 and
leaving with one of the
women before
the ambulance arrived.

Finally Realizing

48 yrs. after
his death
he was 24
I was 12 -
you do the
math -
I am finally
I’ll never be
James Dean
This news will
be a
to my
who was an
who thought
Dean was the
only true
artist ever in
American movie
Sorry, dad,
that my
acting role
was in a
film that was
picketed &
shut down
2 days after
it opened
at a
theater in
South Central L.A.
for “ exploitation
of the people.”

The Last She Said Poem

She said all my
writing was full of rage,
and morose,
and that I just used
being a writer,
as an excuse for
being a drunk and
an asshole.

I was blind drunk again and she
was driving. We were headed
down Fountain Avenue
in Hollywood, in her mini-
Volvo station wagon.

I attempted, unsuccessfully,
to push her from
the car.

Last I heard she moved back
to New York City,
and was working for a
lesbian stage actress,
who paid her in
sex and cocaine.

I’m still an asshole but I stopped

A Poem Speculating On The Mysterious
Youth Of Samuel Beckett

Beckett walked the
foggy boulevards
of Paris, weeping, crying
like a baby
like a teenage
brooding on
cocaine and
to the core
over his beautiful and lost love
and he
added to the mix
a lot of Irish whiskey
finally collapsing
in the blackness of an alleyway
like his heart
had been pierced
by her pimp’s
and the bleeding
would never

Bada Bing

Jack K. told Allen G. that William B.

Liked to fuck boys, or was that

The other way around?

Yeah, it must have been the other way around

‘Cause Allen G. liked to fuck them real real young

And he knew by sight another perv who liked to fuck boys

Though, Allen G, by definition was a pedophile

And William B. was only on the borderline

Now, Jack K. didn’t like to fuck boys but Allen G.

Kissed and told: that Jack K. liked to fuck a man now and then

Or maybe he just like to fuck Allen G. now and then ?

Nonetheless, welcome to the sex lives of your literary heroes, boys & girls.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


The Workers at the Crematory

The face cinders…

Followed by body parts—fingers, feet, legs.

Jeff was cremated last week in the Crematory of the Simple.

Another job for those guys…stiffs burn…load up the next,
Bring on the Monster Girl into the fold—she had nothing, and
the guy who had the tattoos on his neck…

put him into the flame too…
He and she are nobody but ashes on the floor.

Another paycheck for the fire grinders.

And more to do tomorrow…
So many more to do tomorrow…

Pavlov’s Dog in the 2000’s

You can never do truly what you want…

The responsibility of the Rip-Tide machine has
us all programmed.
Like mice who travel in groups
of two—living only to be eaten by the cat.

We talk about weekend rambling and vacation
madness while drudgery highlights our wakeup scamper.

Shave, apply makeup…then trudge to some shindig of a game.

We never step back and ask:

Who are we?
Who are you?
What is out there?

The belabored sinner.
The corporate antenna.
The real Pavlov’s Dog.

Confession of Soul (or lack thereof)

There is something out there…
I do not know what it is, all I
know that it’s out of my grasp.

Sometimes, I can feel it near
my fingertips…it is then I
am closer to reaching some
sort of peace…a vision of
serenity for not only me…

but those who inhabit this little gauntlet we usually fail to notice daily…

Then, it disappears…leaving in a dusty trail of a soulless arena…not to be found anywhere…

I try to find it in bars, books, or just staring out the window at the end of my earth.

But it fails to come back…

Sometimes for many months, or just one day…
I come so near…but I always fail in obtaining this item I cannot describe.

It leaves a trail of many tears and bloody nights that I have lived through…
And the answer that sometimes appears…and raises its beautiful yet dangerous spirit.

Always finds a way to avoid me in the end…

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Good Money

Gimmie some death, he said
as he slammed his empty pint glass
on the counter.
I'm sick of this shit. Sun up to
sun down and I'm missing it all,
surrounded by somebody else's
empty dream.

The hum of electric motors,
the squeals of rollers and
old pulleys, the click – click –
click – of the wrapping machines
dividing my days into each painful

It's good money, everyone tells me,
all of them doing it better
just happy to see me eking by.
Their kindness, slithered down
from well manicured towers in
pats on the back that feel like cancer
in my bowels.

It's good money all right, he says again
after a short stare into his beer
got me divorced with
3 kids that I never get to see.
Till she gets done with it there's
barely any left at all. I got a two-bedroom
flat above the newsstand on the square,
a rusted out old pickup that runs
except for when I need it to
and this place
this stool
this beer
and all of you (he was referring to the 5 or 6 of us
strewn about the shadows).

It's good money, he says
and it buys good beer and
if I drink enough of them
it almost feels
like a good life

what we are left with

everyone thinks that the man is so funny. I guess
there was a time, perhaps
when he could link a few clever phrases together and
shake a primitive chuckle from these despairing lips;
when that one catch phrase was still fresh enough
(though never any good, anyhow) to save
the show when the rest of his prepared lines
became too overcooked to swallow.

I saw an advertisement on the tube last night
showing him starring in some comedy film; an otherwise poorly acted
"b" movie attempting to strike it big on
his name. hell, he may have even wrote the damn thing,
I dunno.
it looked like it could have been a
by-product of thought
secreted from his amniotic brain.

what humanity. schleps like him make millions
on talent-less shit. talent-less, and
separated from the rest of the talent-less with shameless promotion
and a comatose audience
ready to laugh on cue. what's worse is
it's everywhere; the sitcom, the evening news,
meetings of congress, the FDA, late night talk shows, sports, music.
it goes on and on.
the comedy isn't funny
the music has no rhythm
government has no sense, even
the news doesn't tell us anything
of value

everyone is so worried about the war
and terrorism and their finances that
they'll swallow whatever you feed them. heads like glass and
half full IS half empty and the smallest shred of
originality sends the agents scrambling for a contract so that
millions more can fool their senses
into stimulation.

"you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours,"
and ain't that the way it goes. I'd sure hate to
be around
when they take all the books away.

setting up in the mold

spun on the rotisserie
never ending
me and those four walls
that room, my home then
no bigger than a large table cloth
with a slender bathroom and a spit
of a kitchen that doubled as a hallway
and sometimes study

nights there were good times
the six of us stuffing our mouths of fungus
staring at Mt. Vesuvius from the
shaking ripe dreams
from the branches of youth
as time stood completely still

there was just enough room
to squeeze in a sleeper sofa
when it was unfolded
it became the floor
and we all had to duck
a little lower
the black and white 15 inch
didn't receive shit
so we made our own fun
and sometimes the girls would come
though not very often
it was always something
to try and impress them
with that little room
it made everything else appear
so much larger though
which never hurt

$325 a month and with that you got;
water, trash, electric and
lousy fucking neighbors
up at all hours
at each others throats
some of them were ok but
they had the thermostat on their half
and their kids
would always be fooling with it
my door would be wide open
in the middle of February
just so I could fall asleep
without being cooked

those four walls of
that square little room
I'm thankful now that it wasn't circular or
any other shape then the square it was or
these words might still be floating
like a memory tied to a something that's
never even been
this page would be empty and
I'd probably be supervising
doing less with their life
than they'd like

Friday, March 14, 2008

Michael Grover

Trane Blew

Smooth like Trane
Blowin' chaos
Translated to sanity.

What is art
But organized chaos?
Sometimes organized
Better than others.
Always struglin'
Fighting to be free.
Take this to forget,
The real american dream.
Come rich man,
Come poor man,
Come privileged whiteness,
Or darker oppressed.

Trane blew,
Through all of the madness.
Money sickness,
True american religion.

Trane blew,
Through everything
To help him forget.
Which ultimately led to kidney failure.

Trane blew,
Everyone but himself.

Trane blew,
All the way to the grave.

He survives,
In headphones of this walkman.
In the middle of a noisy coffee shop.
Trane blew.


Spit my sorrow in the sink.
Whats a little blood to a Poet?
I return to my room
Jazz piped though
Cable that we just got
But we cant afford.
What is with this american need
That eats at me like hunger pains?

Tip of pen meets page.
Whats a little blood to a Poet?
Write with pressure,
Little wasted movement.
Ive got a sickness in me.
Ive got lethargy.
I am writing it out.
I am sweating it out.
I am writing so hard that I sweat.

Who am I to fall in love anyway?
Only a distraction from the work Im doing.
Temporary illusion.
Distraction from
The real world of concrete and asphalt.
The world a Poet should always stay grounded in.

I walked into the matrix
Perfectly aware that everything was an illusion.
Still I came out of it wounded.
Maybe I fall too fast.
I do crash.
I just follow natural instinct.
I refuse to conform
To a mechanical world
Where people where lifejackets into relationships,
And nice guys finish last.

I have not forgotten what I am.
Not perfect
But perfectly hu-man.
I will trust again.
I will love again.
I will probably be hurt again.
Still I would not wear protection,
Cant afford the insurance.
Maybe I need a break.
Maybe there is nothing wrong with the rest of the world
Just with me.

Loving In the Class War

Every day.
Every minute.
Every breath.
The rent was hangin over us.
Utilities were hangin over us.
Getting food was hangin over us.
Beer money was hangin over us.
Extra money for the movies
Was hangin over us.
Everything was hangin over us
Just like a dark cloud.
We were livin in the class war.
Survivin in the class war.
We were livin in the class war.
But we were living.

We were loving every night,
Laying sweaty.
I would go to work the next day
Smellin like pussy.
I could still smell you.
It got me through the day.
Evening on the fire escape
Watching the sun set on the hills.
Then when the sun was gone,
I would watch the bats dance in the sky.
You were always scared of bats.
We were livin in the class war.
Survivin in the class war.
We were livin in the class war.
But we were living.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal


The little saint Gerard

Couldn’t hurt a mouse.

Brother Jack will testify.

The little saint Gerard

In the Lord’s house

Watches over all God’s creatures

Large and small.

Illness got the better of him

On earth, on earth, but not in Heaven.

The little saint Gerard

Feels no pain at all.

The Lord won’t allow it.

The little saint Gerard

suffers no more.

Brother Jack wrote it down

In his Visions of Gerard.


Far away with thoughts of nothingness.

On a cloudlike surface is where my mind

Threads on and I don’t know who I am.

Traveling to distant locales,

A wandering spirit, lost in the world,

And I don’t know who I am.

My face is unrecognizable to me.

Could you shake up my mind?

I don’t know who I am.

I don’t know who I am.

Miles from where I stand is the real me.

A cloud surfaces in my mind’s haste

And I don’t know who I am.

These hands attached to my person

Feel like the hands of a stranger.

My face is unrecognizable to me.

Could you shake up my mind?

I don’t know who I am.

I don’t know who I am.


A slave is one

Who can’t find time to read,

Always doing

Favors for everybody.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Todd Moore

how much

money you

got willie

asked pulling

a fistful

of change

& wadded

up bills

out of his

pocket sonny

took a bull

durham sack

out of his

shirt pocket

untied the

yellow string

& fished

out a five

you figure

this is

enough to

get fucked

up on sonny

smiled around

3 black teeth

& sd i know

where there's

some good shit

to steal

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Kolorado in my Eyes Makes me Fry

(Moon Table sold the egg of an incubus crane
to "I EAT," who has taken on loan a lamp.)

making Nikes
making Nikes
making Nikes
making Nikes

The astronauts love their Lake of Tang!

washing dishes
washing dishes
washing dishes
washing dishes

Made of silver, naught of Klee.


Secret Poetry Apple

THE LOTION SQUID: A frog w/ a gimp in its hoofnik is here to see your garden shrimp.

CHUCK YOUR BUCKETSNAKE: Don't let 'em see you weeping.

THE LOTION SQUID: The chaos is blue -- a salty old hue.

CHUCK YOUR BUCKETSNAKE: Never let 'em see you sweat.

THE LOTION SQUID: In a bowl, with a howl, gettin' spoony w/ my lowell.

Aleathia Drehmer

“The River

for Gail

I question the worth

of my character

in this moment,

attempting to find some clue,

a common ground

to the mystery of my charm

as my face takes on

mixed emotions rapidly,

animated in graceful

but stilted movements.

And he tells me

quite frankly,

with mouth’s edge

curled upward,

that all women are crazy.

And somehow men find

what they need amidst

the chaotic flow

of ever revolving faces

worn without remorse

to find the gentleness and grace

that touches them

floating in the river.


“Hungry Ghosts”

We are full

of hungry ghosts and

long hours divided

into silence,


and prostrations

to drive them out.


levitate above trees

parallel to the earth,

our feet buried in deep

to feel the transfer

of pure electricity.

We gather their treasures

with an unknowing greed,

eyes shifting sideways

watching and coveting,

as if we have found

something worth hiding.

Reticent hands

dig into loam,

moist and intoxicated

with recycled life

quick and with precision.

We lay on the ground in it.

Our lungs fill but stay empty.

Secrets are pushed in knolls

of shaming trees,

tucked under dark roots

lifting upward from burgeoning

rock formations and time,

until we no longer

feel the weight

of our hunger.


"Atmospheric Pressure"

Cold clutches her,

breath visible

from nostrils and mouth.

She pats her chest

as if this will equalize

the atmosphere moving

inside her,

the air steeling her,

the sound of rebirth

in this game of ball

played with five brothers

and a father,

whose face speaks

to his offspring

of light and knowing

wrapped around each of them.

Their unseen boundaries

of victory

evident in the ticking,

coming from chests

synchronized and loud;

something born unto them,

an extra machine

with a perfectly calculated

compass, affixed to the apex

pointing them upward

and outward.



The cat curls

into the crook

of my writing arm,

his breathing a

delicate whisper.

He still hasn’t found

the bravado of his voice.

The rise/fall of

his body slowly

tries to lull me

to sleep with the

pen in my hand.

Through the window,

reclined in dying light

of a gray afternoon,

I see beginnings

of buds on trees

pushing their way

from the core.

Squirrels dance,

leaping branch to branch,

tails high in the air,

chattering loudly and

twitching like old men

with Tourette’s,

in attempts to start

the mating season early.

The sounds of my family

spread out in separate rooms,

the bleeping of video games,

the turning of pages

with a soft voice

telling a story of her own


makes me smile.

Each of us taking comfort

in time spent alone

speaks to me solidly,

without words,

whispering in ears that

we have found

some peace in this world.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Christopher Mulrooney

son et lumiere


crek crek

moonlight and


in the pond

where I mist

to see the eyes

on me


City of London

tea with milk the river ran
or coffee maybe at a pinch

slate-grey with scarlet trim

etc. the descriptive responses
of the think tank
precipitate a long roster
usually elided
for the capstone on the edifice we present
therefore I submit

on the face of new things altogether
winds bear new witness

but it is not a new thing
not at all to have this
Dr. Gachet defending
and diagnosing
Edgar Allan Poe
from the heights along a new river
perhaps not


the serinette and the lightning-rod

I had flown in on a dare
to his own house I went
a cub reporter
that's what I own like 6 T-shirts
and a bag of milk chocolates
but no-one else could

we got along just fine

he served the soup out of my tureen
I mean the one we had grown up with
all the time

his favorite saying was
I'll be peckered

his favourite thing was an antique
he had rigged up with
electricity from a lightning-rod

he spoke about conductivity
lots of materials he said
just can't stand up to my action

I started in the business he said
twenty years ago I had
lots of people working for me

you couldn't imagine what it was like
a sterile litigious environment

all day long the claims were coming in
I had to stamp each one
with purple ink

anyway you had to
had to get up the stairs
and go to the roof to put the thing up
and run the connectors right the way down
to the bottom
it was a similitude of something

now though when there's a storm
I have bird music

the house had varying instruments
and pictures

we had soup for about an hour
and then he listened to his serinette
warble in the lightning

I was glad I wasn't going to fly
again until tomorrow


green and pleasant land

fancifully they remarked the long since trifled with and soon to be forgotten

mystery that was the wheel and furnace

of the house the great mystery and keeper

of the toad house and the revenues in the interior whose ministry is kept

down in the house by the river where sat

the poet laureate as grimy as could be

in the soot air and sang

I walked as far as I can go

to Aberdeen and back again

and this whole story you must know

to Aberdeen and back again

and so I know sure the might and main

that do not manufacture the solipsistic trivia that multiply

and divide

these chairpersons ringing all the bells on all the dinner tables in the kingdom

one by one till all are done

and that's the song as it was sung

by the grieving laureate



the hemispheres collide and draw apart
like you and my heart
I shall wander aimlessly like a spent shell
and wish upon the deepest hell
that you were of my mind in this
and that is all the man would say of bliss

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Gig News

The RB Morris Band

from Knoxville, TN

has toured w/ Bob Dylan, John Prine, Lucinda Williams, and Steve Earle


outlaw country and spoken word

featuring Scott Mertz, Sarah Elizabeth, Southside Freddy Wethington, Andy Cook, and Ron Whitehead

March 22, 2008 10 pm $10

@ the Rudyard Kipling
422 West Oak Street (near 4th street) Louisville, Kentucky

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
West Covina, CA


It does not snow on my block

But I can see the snow on

The San Gabriel Valley

Mountains from my front window.

I do not care to touch the

Snow. I have felt it before

When I was a child. I liked it.

Winter in Los Angeles

Is not so cold, which is why

I like it here. I am told

I would not even miss it

At all if I moved Northwest.

That is where the woman I

Once loved went. What good would it

Do for me to go there, if

I could not be with her?


The green iguana,
subtle in its
wants me to stab
myself to death.

I always stop myself
and cut its tail off
instead. This only
makes it angry
as it grows a

new tail It whispers
in my ear and
says I'm worthless.
It wants the whole
world to be dead.


In an icy cave

Without lights

There it was under


The old time machine

Hidden from

A world desperate

To be saved