Saturday, May 28, 2011

Peter Marra


He awoke to a scorching.
Fire. Sighs. then a laugh.

A crack in the ceiling a drip of water.
Then she laughed a frozen knife as

The sky burned into him.
the flash of her teeth

Skinned the sky that
fell into his belly

Then it turned over
Tasted like Joan of Arc.

She plugged him
into the nearest outlet.

His black-light glow:
A mantis excised from

a black velvet poster
a smile – a punishment

a grin enshrined in shiny black vinyl (the love machine)
she looked down. he looked between the large glass.

a web of sky

a scared weekday afternoon
spent lyng on my back looking up through
the web of branches interlaced
with the sky - a sky black and enucleated

drifting in and out of
a lattice of fever dreams
ladders on fire crumbling in slo-mo
we talked about

ocular surgery carrying
a rhythm for a beat
she danced with the throbbing film
as my headache spiraled

slammed against the iron wall
i lay on her lap
she gazed
she gazed

her eyes drilled into me
glowing pitch black hair
i touched
i felt the heat

(a nuclear pietà )
a blue iris dropped
landed gently on my lips
a black tulip dropped from her mouth

cascaded and consumed
my eyes burned as
my cheeks flushed
and the black sky gradually

grew pale white
in the room next door
buttons were pressed
she let me go

we ran into the garden
so we could uproot the foliage
we strolled hand in hand
then went to the eternal picture show

crimson rage exhale

the white parasol
a delicate umbrella
slowly taken by fire.

flames creeping.
a memory long gone still burning.
rabid pacing in the alley and

a sign on the wall sent by machines.
both are female matter – a silent heart –
reminiscent of a library in which i will burrow
so i can look back at specimens of the natural world:
the two chairs that drip blood
exposed to the world.

both have species cooperation through her subject.
an exhibition seeps through burnt burlap sacks
she proudly displays a fragile neon “please smell” sign.

this show is “human” for her
complex times  for
the 2 characters

with categories that “rupture human differences.”
she breathes heavily into the
symbiotic pieces

extended from the ceiling
and the sewing machines in the
ceremony leave us a crimson rage exhaled.

while flying she dreams of
2 chairs for the
female sex organ

those innocent pieces
covered with lungs
that anatomically inhale women.

these innocent pieces will watch the pumped face
lie down on the floor
(a sperm filled vena cava)

Peter Marra is in Williamsburg Brooklyn. His goal is to become an adjective and find new methods of description. He has either been published in or has work forthcoming in Caper Literary Journal,, Yes Poetry, Maintenant 4, Beatnik, Crash, Danse Macabre, Clutching At Straws O Sweet Flowery Roses, Breadcrumb Scabs,Carcinogenic and Calliope Nerve. He is currently constructing his first collection of poems.

Gil Scott-Heron

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Review: Sharp as Want

Sharp as Want

Poetry by Jeanie Tomasko
Artworks by Sharon Auberle

Little Eagle Press, P.O.Box 684, Baileys Harbor, WI, USA  ISBN 978-0-9823419-7-1 Cover price $15

Little Eagle Press produces some of the most eye-catching books on the market, and Sharp as Want is no exception. It’s a collaborative work between a poet, Tomasko, and a photographer and visual artist who is also a poet, Auberle, and it looks beautiful, from the dazzling colours of the cover photo (I don’t know what they’re called so I won’t embarrass myself by saying, simply, "orange and yellow") to the black and white full-page illustrations of the poetry inside. There are Buddhas, Madonnas, shells, bees and tree branches heavy with snow. Some are photographs and some are paintings; some have recognisable forms and some are abstracts. All of them give up more meaning and more beauty the longer you study them. Sharon Auberle, as someone who can write terrific poetry too, has a range wide enough to be envied by all but the most conceited arse.

Jeanie Tomasko’s poetry shows an impressive range too, and like Auberle, if this isn’t too much of a contradiction, the uniformity of theme of a poet worth spending some time with. The first section of the book ‘Wherever there is Distance’ is about a dear friend dying of cancer. But even in these understandably bleak moments there’s an involvement with nature, a physical, sensory, spiritual involvement (somewhat characteristic of this Wisconsin group) with the woods and the wind, the birds, the snow, the rivers, the hidden paths. This appears again in the love poetry, the haiku, the short poetry of place and moment, and in the ones that won’t quite surrender their meaning (which I insist is not a bad thing whatever the third-rate poetry hacks in provincial creative writing workshops tell you). The emotional weight of the early poems in the book doesn’t disappear either. One thing I like very much about Sharp as Want is that Tomasko isn’t just writing to be cute; there is feeling in these poems, and when feeling is present but it doesn’t overwhelm form, which it doesn’t here, you tend to have poetry that’s better than the average.

My favourite in the collection is ‘5 a.m. Rain’, a turned-sideways concrete poem (well, I guess it’s a concrete poem, although that seems a rather dumb label to apply to water), which is a beautiful, touchable, breathable evocation of, yes, rain, and love and memory. I tried to do something similar this year and failed wretchedly, so I know how difficult it is. But there’s a lot in Sharp as Want I admire and I think you will too, if you’ve reached a sufficient level of maturity to know that death is inevitable and love of life and place and other people the only weapons that we have against the darkness. Cover price is $15 but since it looks as good as any book we’d find in a bookshop in the high street I don’t think we can complain.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Nicole Taylor: Four Poems

Columbus Day 2005
Or Ellen and Elizabeth
Read left column to right

Ellen offers Elizabeth
a quick car ride across the small city.

She turns right
onto busy highway entrance Keubler Road.

They talk of
an upcoming dance at a church.

They talk of
their light sermon style.

Ellen misses the
immediate northbound freeway exit.

She stays on
the old dangerous highway.

They pass several
black metal coyote decoys in the nearby field to the right

“Look at the
sun,”  Ellen watchfully announces.

It is a 
bright orange yellow autumn afternoon sun.
There is no
music in here or out.

There is much
  wind from Ellen's window.

Ellen is smoking
a non-additive cigarette.
They talk of
Elizabeth’s monthly disability income.

They talk of 
  upcoming social security disability income.

They talk of
  should, could have done’s in the disability case.
Ellen turns onto
  Silverton Rd., then 45th Ave.
She turns into
  the gym parking lot near sports fields and rooms.

Dance practice is
  now thirty minutes away at the community college gym.

Ellen moves gears.
  They joke about Elizabeth’s
  neighbor’s slipped gears, “clutch.”

October 20, 2005

"Dad, 1998."
a newer VCR, used videos,
a newer camera and accessories,

wooden boxes with pewter Celtic lids,
photos, books, posters, 

other memorabilia
from a trip to England taken long ago

miscellaneous blown glass pieces,
paintings from friends and local artists,

miscellaneous dishes,
utensils and appliances,

an old wooden TV cabinet,
a handmade wooden stool, yo-yo, and pencil holder.

colorful glass Christmas ornaments inscribed
"Dad, 1998."

Eugene Traveler
Pieces of A Borrowed Poem
Published in small chapbook and 
for a Poetry Box in Eugene, OR

I’m creating not crying,
not this time.
I’m waiting, riding Amtrak bus,
but Kesey, friends jumped tracks,
hitched rides.

Saw Kesey’s statue, The Storyteller –
read his words of his plants –
nettle and clover,
ghost fern and more.
Rode the EmX bus and
watched the Breeze busses
to U of O or Lane Colleges
in the city of a
kind tree and a DanceAbility.

Watching now
a bright yellow Morning Glory store.
Walked past the Green Store and
The Red Agave.
Sat watching the local Jackalope Lounge
and the trendy Buffalo Exchange.

I’m writing in the shadows of
ghosts and ghost stories
after browsing the Beats at bookstores
and buying two by Kerouac.

I’m waiting outside Amtrak
father, son hoping to visit Wisconsin
mother, children traveling to Portland,
returning to Florida.
strange curious glances later.

Food Box Notes
Jo and her family
Lynn and other neighbors
Kim, Viola, ...
They claimed 7 occupants.
These people really believe this!?

8 boxes of sugary doughy Safeway donuts
and coffee while you wait.
coffee is brewing,at least.

we arrive at 9AM
and wait until 10 AM
for intakes, numbers, foods.

we look at the colorful amorphous shapes
in the Morningside Elementary
with help from Stonehaven Ministries.

visiting with neighbors
church members
praying together, separately,
over Jo's son accidental shot leg injury
over another's on-going pains and diabetes.

then it's my turn.
simple questions.
that was easier than usual.

a blond teen church member hands
me bags and boxes of food
of white French bread,
white tortilla wraps
white navy beans
white mac -n- cheese noodles
white Safeway yogurt, sweetened

brown bakers
brownish sweetened apple juice

canned foods
large boxes of chips

Later that morning we stopped at 2 sales
I bought shirts and shows,
for more Qi-Jong practice.
for more laundry room volunteer wear.

My Short Bio
Nicole Taylor has attended college in Salem, Oregon where she lives near her siblings, British mother and other family. She has been published in her college newspaper, one local and one recipe anthology and some online. She has had two poems online at, three bicycling and nature poems in a bicycling storytelling journal at, one poem performed in her DanceAbility dance group, through Chemeketa College, A dance member has read a few of her poems at campus Soapbox Readings and published one in her poetry e-mail newsletter, Very Local Poetry.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Keith Higginbotham: Four/ Five (depends how you count the haiku)


name a garden—you
the apparition in it desolate like
a star’s book
blinking something

stop the eyes
on Buddha: I moved the still
origin, printed your
plum across the indefinite

in skin rain—

together we are a simple protest
in the halfway sun

Flip the Rainbow

The jagged avant-garde, a face-off
with threesome, the
abstract gauntlet nods to old-school dark. 

You had a supremacist backbone,
a trapezoid in it, rotten crater
overshadowed experimental
work in strip.

There was your nude corporate
knight slouching by a salt pine, a mechanistic
shame, foiled off to wash
his watched dome.

And the brunt of it, the first word
was learning. The other person always
soaks everything. 


In the peak sea-noise
a beefy, disabled weed
tears the countryside


The corn wind beneath
the wrinkled heron pinewoods
odor of boxcar

Paper Ceiling


the handwritten phone,

Reflection river cannot
flame—snow fire is
smog torched is, we cannot

want ourselves

sitting on heaven’s


crows to caveat beside the
falling doors.


Keith Higginbotham's poetry has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Blue & Yellow Dog, Cricket Online Review, ditch, Eratio, G(o)BBet, Otoliths, and Sawbuck. He is the author of Carrying The Air on a Stick (The Runaway Spoon Press) and Prosaic Suburban Commercial (Eratio Editions). He lives in Columbia, SC.

Friday, May 06, 2011

New Book: Counter Revolutionary Poems (Unadorned Press)

BEATNIK also has word this morning of a new chapbook by sometime contributor Michael Grover on Unadorned Press. It's called Counter Revolutionary Poems and you can buy it on Unadorned's Facebook page. Again, I haven't seen it, so don't blame me if you get it and don't like it, but Michael is a fine poet, so I can't imagine why you wouldn't.!/UnadornedPress?sk=app_135607783795




It’s always dangerous to need help
mothers offer a lot of help
some people organize their lives to be most helpful
as others do to be richest or most powerful—
maybe it’s mainly because of indoctrination when young
or like mothers, triggered hormones—
help given from pure empathy, sympathy, kind generosity
& delivered by one
who has made him or her self capable
is the highest virtue
I’m grateful for help like that that I’ve received
& hope, sometimes, to pass it on—
& some help
is neurotic & frustrates the recipient
& makes the chances
of improving his or her situation
do-it-yourself & ambition now are all the rage—
get the upper hand, hold it, develop advantages
don’t be taken in by all the con artists & deluded fools—
governments have been so corrupted
by those who have made them providers of help
mostly to those likely to vote in large blocs
but also to approximately anyone unable to cope
except with the mechanisms of collecting
what it’s said they have a right to—
at the expense of those who won’t
be members of herds of clients!—
dissolving such a misguided metastasizing complex
is as much a help as not—
plenty of people will suffer from the dissolving
but plenty of us
far from even having enough to live comfortably for long
suffer from the deal
between the politicians & their clients
at our expense—
no doubt, most of those most vociferous
in demanding the dissolving
of institutionalized help
are greedy, unimaginative, unfeeling—
we’re vulnerable again
to the wind, rain, big & hungry beasts
plagues, droughts, floods—
&, now, we live as tho right on top of one another, too
in a maze of artifacts with corroding moving parts
& so few people capable
& so few people inclined
without government intervention
to help—
& governments to deal with, too—
the governments that claim to represent us
& governments that claim to represent others
& the governments are inclined to scrimmage
to & maybe over the edge, into war—
I’ll bet occasionally wise & helpful bureaucrats
help someone here & there do something truly valuable
that otherwise wouldn’t be done
without hurting those forced to pay for it
at least, not as much as they benefit—
but mainly—I’ll bet you’ve had experience—
they get between you & something sane & good
you’re struggling in the midst of slapstick & suffering
& frustration that threatens to be terminal
to realize—
& elected officials are usually worse—
I don’t say always—
I don’t say everyone but Noah deserves to drown—
there must be exceptionally wise & helpful ones
among them, as, unexpectedly, among any set or group—
but mainly what they say & do
to get ahead & stay ahead
is so shameful, so hurtful—
their armies go to war
wars that clobber everyone not lucky enough
to be out of the way of
fast, dense projectiles & whomped-up psychopaths—
& they work for the same sort of damn conquerors
as in the days of knights, kings, aristocratic spoils—
tho no doubt sprinkled among them
as among bureaucrats
are exceptionally wise & helpful
who feel as nauseated by their peers’ insatiability
as by the ocean of need surging all around them.


- for Teresinka Pereira

You choose subjects of importance to everyone
& say what you’re saying clearly
so rare, & I appreciate it
& you’re brief—I’m sure everyone appreciates that
editors always love it
& most readers have short attention spans
especially, of course, since they expect poems
will be about the usual
personal sorrows & consolations—
not offending anyone who might advance the poet—
&, yes, the bombing at Hiroshima was terrible
beyond the terror & pain most individuals
will know in brief moments of their lives—
many individuals destroyed
immediately, excrutiating
or over aching, grieving decades—
&, sure, Truman & the pilot of the bomber
earned some of the blame—
but what about the people who designed & built
the bomb & the plane?
& the rulers of Japan
who ordered the bombing of Pearl Harbor
triggering years of bombing across the Pacific?
& the Japanese soldiers
who committed atrocities all over east Asia?
& likewise the Nazis in Europe?—
& what about all those supporting the troops
& bombers on both sides of every battle, every war?
or who fail to find ways & take the necessary risks
to remove injustice & the consequent rage of victims
before war breaks out again & again?—
Hiroshima, sure, but Verdun, too
the Turkish Armenian genocide
the European Holocaust
the Gulag Archipelago
the slaughter of innocents
in Indonesia, Brazil, Argentina
Palestine & Israel
Pakistan & India
Black slavery & the Civil War of the USA
the Russian, Chinese, Mexican revolutions
World War I & World War II—
China’s population was reduced a third
during the An Shan Rebellion
during the Tang dynasty—
& Germany’s population likewise reduced
during the Hundred Years War in the 1600s—
& America’s native population decimated
over centuries of greed & misunderstanding—
& the greatest crimes go on day after day
during times of so-called peace
& prosperity or recession or depression
most people adjusting to being dominated
& learning to concentrate on what they must do
to avoid weakening & becoming one
of the victims of human crocodiles—
that it’s always been so & can only be so
implanted in their minds—
they enforce the subordination
on one another & on themselves
that’s wasting & killing them
& drives some to kill in a rage
& some to organize against some enemy
they imagine lives far away
or like an infection among them
but not within themselves—
you say hope wins—
I hope hope wins!
every day is a struggle for hope
& to use hope & courage & cunning
to change the situation!—
to love the struggle
not collapse from the effort
against evil-doing & the concentration
of nearly everyone on getting along with evil-doers
& with others likewise getting along—
you say:
we wish all bombs be banished
from all countries in the world—
yes, but, then, who are “we”?—
lions, tigers, sharks, crocodiles, & viruses
don’t want peace, it’s prey they want—
you know that there are human
lions, tigers, sharks, crocodiles, & viruses, too—
there are people getting rich by commanding
production & deployment of bombs & bombers—
congressmen run for re-election
bragging of orders for bombs & bombers
they managed to get for their districts
in return for votes on how to fund
medicines & surgeries & salutary or toxic schools—
not just one president of one country of one time
not just one pilot of one bomber—
Truman was just one mostly bewildered human
pushed this way & that
by powerful, more sophisticated men
who weren’t very sophisticated, themselves
& by events way beyond his understanding—
& that pilot had to know
that if the Japanese rulers refused to surrender
thousands more of his comrades would have to die in battle
maybe him—they were shooting at him—
& Tokyo had already been napalmed for months—
it’s complex—it’s a jungle
of humans at their basest & noblest
& viruses, archaeans, bacteria, fungi, animals, & plants
& minerals in solid, liquid, & gaseous forms
with all kinds of forces between & among them in space—
there’s always a war for nutrients & advantage
& there are always elements of cooperation & love
women always looking for men
who can help them raise children
& men looking for women
with whom or on whom
they can discharge the sexual build-up
that will otherwise make them unable
to operate within the consensus of their local quorum—
everyone’s hungry or scared or megalomaniacal
or some exquisite combination—
some more, some less considerate of others
or understanding
of those who look & act differently than they do—
you & I want hope & peace to prevail
we are related in that way
a subspecies
& both of us use words we hope will influence events—
so don’t take this as a put-down, team-mate—
I want our team, however informal, to prevail
& it’s far from prevailing—
it’s slight, weak
for most people, it’s a joke
most of us keep falling into neuroses
dying without achieving
what we started, at least, to conceive—
either winning consolation prizes or not even that—
we won’t be listened to often
we have to make what we say
as close to exactly what is so
as we can make it
as well as being serious & clear—
we have to be wise
as well as brave & strategic.


The so-called successes
of my celebrated contemporaries
are so puny, I’d laugh
if I weren’t afraid that the congregations
of the taverns, churches, courts, & arenas
would beat me til I’d feign respectfulness.

How I wish I’d hear from those, like me
engaged in great, unnoticed battles!


Guy at the counter
just before a winter sunrise
tells me that the day he retired
no more paycheck
was the scariest day of his life—
he has this much pension
this much social security
this much savings—
Yeah, I know, I say
the scariest day of my life
is every other day or so
for the last 4 or 5 decades—
Yeah, he says
but you brought that on yourself—
which is true, tho only partly—
if you’re young
right now you may be deciding
I’m not going HIS way—
&, okay, maybe that’s right—
but I’d go this way again
of course, I’d be more tactful
I’d have held onto temporary jobs
by not letting my bosses know
each one, a little longer
what I was doing with my life
which threatened them—
& I’d have been more cunning
in dealing with those I hoped
would help me by displaying my work
&, sometimes, paying me for it
who were equally threatened
that I was not doing what they were doing—
still, I’d do what I’ve done, mainly—
it was always nearly impossible—
but I was & am changing the odds
for myself & for you
if you haven’t committed to opposing me—
it’s a great adventure—
the Germans & Japanese had won
almost every battle, 1942
Britain & its Indian colony
& the English-speaking off-shoot nation remnants
of its collapsed naval & commercial hegemony
including the rebellious but similar USA
& the non-industrial remnant of totalitarian Russia
were shattered & reeling—
it took being nearly defeated
to understand the glorying
in destruction, humiliation, murder—
the unrestrained delusion of superiority
& exhilarated relief from petty hypocrisy & regulation—
the Nazi armies occupied almost all of Europe
imperial Japanese armies controlled China’s coast
Korea & industrial Manchuria
Malaya, Indonesia, most Pacific islands
Spain & Italy were ruled by fascists
South American fascists could see their opposition failing
fascist armies & navies were still expanding
their psychopathic leaders confident—
I imagine the leaders of the so-called democracies
plenty of injustice, corruption, & madness
mixed in various ways & degrees
with hard-won & never-pure liberty
& elements of justice, there, too—
& the leaders partly cynical, partly deluded themselves—
& Stalin, totally in charge
of those he hadn’t killed in intimidated Russia
as evil as any ruler then or any time
even worse, far worse than the Tsars who preceded him—
didn’t see what else they could do than what they were doing—
they survived, persisted, adapted—
I’m not saying they were the greatest generation
as some say who were rewarded by succeeding them—
they were a generation like any generation
some courage, some cowardice, insightful, benighted
like mine & your generation, for instance
as Jesus was the son of God
the same way you are a son or daughter of God
& as Muhammed was truly a prophet
& there are many other prophets, too
partly seeing more clearly than others
partly more crazy than normal
maybe acclaimed, maybe persecuted—
& tho it seemed impossible then
they prevailed—
the alternative is surrendering
to what you must resist & undo
or die, or become what’s killing you—
I won’t, I don’t:
you do what you think you must & should.

Don’t imagine I’m talking about
the life of an artist—
tho that’s an element of it in my case—
most artists are as much a part of what I’m trying to undo
as most Democrats, Republicans, fascists, Leninists—
their assumptions & attitudes & competition
in aggregate
as formidable an obstacle as any I face—
as winter or unjust governments—
since I won’t be like them
they’ll starve me if I don’t outwit them—
as the so-called common sense
always trying to shut me up or somehow break my will
of those who have rationalized their allegiance
to those who take more from them than they give in return
& claim the only right to violence & imprisoning—
& as the fierce resistance
of those gaining tremendously at everyone else’s expense—
who never stop expanding their domain
& taking a greater & greater share.