Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Album review: Lucius - "Wildewoman"

The Brooklyn quintet Lucius actually started some nine years ago when Jess Wolfe met Holly Laessig. They instantly knew they'd be making music together. Wolfe and Laessig recorded an album with guest musicians called "Songs From The Bromley House", a spare and pretty album. They'd later decide that it wasn't a true representation of what they wanted to do as musicians and hooked up with Dan Molad and Pete Lalish, both formerly in Elizabeth & The Catapult, the former also being a producer. As a quartet, they released a stunning self-titled ep produced by Molad highlighting a stronger band aesthetic, as well as Wolfe and Laessig's stellar harmonies. Later, they would add Andrew Burri to complete the band. Now comes "Wildewoman", a fully realized vision of Wolfe and Laessig's musical and lyrical aspirations, fleshed out wonderfully by the atmospherics of Molad, Lalish and Burri. Three songs from the ep make appearances here, two of them re-recorded and improved. "Go Home", their majestic ballad remains unfettered, and with good reason. There was nothing to improve on. "Turn It Around" gains a little more echo, a little more of a 60's "Wall of Sound" feel, while "Don't Just Sit There" gains more focus on harmony. There are no weak tracks on "Wildewoman", simply songs that stand out a little more than others. Of those songs, "Tempest" rides a wave of sonic perfection with soaring harmonies, "Nothing Ordinary" features insistent rhythms and interesting time changes, a perfect chaos, if you will and "How Loud Your Heart Gets", which seems to take flight and then rest comfortably somewhere in the stars. It is easily one of the best songs this band has recorded to date and the perfect song to end this stellar album with. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

There is no proper way to grieve...

Last Friday, I went to my first funeral. It was entirely unexpected. It was for my father. He had suffered from Alzheimer's for around three years. It was near the end of August that he went for a walk and never came back. He was missing for almost four days. After he was found, he spent about a week in the hospital. He died the day after I came up from South Jersey. At that point, he was no longer responsive. I didn't get to hear him talk to me again. 

Let me point out a few things. I didn't have the emotional attachment my younger brother had with him. We rarely connected on much. I did not follow the same path as my half brother and my younger brother, so he didn't have much use for me. This is not to say that he was a terrible person. His role as a parent was to work, earn money and provide. He wasn't of the mindset to be emotionally involved or to be invested in the interests of someone he didn't quite understand. The man didn't really have any hobbies. He worked. He fixed things. He liked the Minnesota Vikings and the Minnesota Twins (I am a Twins fan, as well.) He watched a lot of television and spent many nights asleep while its glare lit up a dim living room. He loved to have a beer at dinner and he loved butter flavored popcorn. He used to buy gigantic bags of it and eat it while watching tv. A fair amount of it would end up all over his chest.

I can't sit here and unload the kind of words my brother did on Facebook. I cannot manufacture an emotion. Perhaps that is why I was a bit more stoic during both the wake and the funeral. I wanted to feel more. I wanted to grieve. I think it will take some time. My father and I didn't always have the warmest relationship. In fact, I held on to a fair amount of animosity over the years about his lack of emotional availability and support for the things I wanted to do with my life. Of course I am sad. Of course I'm dealing with a rush of memories and of course I want to be able to grieve. 

I said my goodbyes in the hospital, in the funeral home. I touched his motionless chest and said, "Goodbye Donny". (My brother and I always called him Donny as a bit of a joke since his brothers and sisters in Minnesota always called him that.) The face I saw in the hospital, and later in the casket, wasn't the Donny I remembered and isn't the Donny I choose to remember. He might never have liked my choices. He might never have read a single poem I've ever written. It doesn't really matter. I'm content with people remembering him as an easy going, good-natured guy who would talk to anyone. The things that happened in the past can stay there. None of that matters anymore. I won't be able to see him again and ask him if he was ok with how I turned out. I don't know if it matters. I'll remember his goofy nature and his weird sense of humor. I will hope that when he saw me for the last few times on the 30th and 31st that he could still remember enough to know who I was and that he was glad that I was there.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Getting back to writing music reviews...

...even if it's just for Amazon. I've recently discovered a singer/songwriter from Pittsburgh named Brooke Annibale. (Her last name is pronounced anna-bell.) I had downloaded her album "Silence Worth Breaking" off of Noise Trade, which is a great site for downloading EP's, single AND albums for free...legally. Well, I had downloaded Brooke's album some time ago but never got around to listening to it...until about a month ago. Needless to say, it's excellent. I ended up on her mailing list, so I received an email about her new EP, "Words In Your Eyes". I now own that, as well...and it's absolutely flawless. I've become obsessed with Brooke's music and her unique voice. It would be hard to not appreciate her impressive songs. I completely recommend her. Here's a link to my review on Amazon for "Words In Your Eyes".

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

NaPoWriMo, Day 30

Well, I somehow made it to day 30 with a small semblance of sanity. Very small. I have some more poem ideas, but now that I'm not on a self imposed deadline, I can stress less about them. My final total after 30 days? 66 poems. 2 more than last year. I used the Poetic Asides prompt to write either a finished poem or a never finished poem. This is sort of both.

The end is the beginning is the end

Everything around me begins to dim.
A snuffed candle, no smoke to drift
into the stale evening's air. There
will be napkins left on the desk, piles
of unedited poems yellowing under the
weight of this end. I am an unfinished
script. I am unmarrowed bone. Helpless
to the pressure building in my ribcage,
I scribble notes in code, watch faces
become a blur, leave unfinished.

Monday, April 29, 2013

NaPoWriMo, Day 29

My own idea take a line from a song and write a poem around it. I also happened to take little splices of the song here and there and rearrange them into the poem. Take from it what you will...

You need the darkness if you want to see stars

An echo through the humid air. An ache deep
in shins keeps you grounded, keeps you hidden
from the passing cars and the sound of the
mailman delivering bills and death notices.
At night, between the raindrops and floating
pieces of tree sheddings, you crane your head
up into the night's thickness, look for intervention,
seek a solace only solitude can provide. Over and
over, you cut at scars, hide out in your trenches.
Erase the pieces you despise, one by one.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

NaPoWriMo, Day 28

Today, I went with the Poetic Asides prompt to write a shadorma. I made mine a double shadorma. Again, not thrilled with this one, either.

Cousins from afar
(for B)

I kept a
picture of us in
my wallet.
Hayley and
you, the sisters I never
had. You both sprouted

through the deep
mid-western snow, bloomed
through mail, through
phone calls. I
missed all of it. Hug Lilah.
Tell her I said hi.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

NaPoWriMo Day 27

I liked this prompt, but I'm not crazy about my poem. “Poem Starting with a Line by ” is your title.  Look for a line that captures your imagination (and holds its own as a unit of syntax)  That is your first line*. It sets the tone for your poem.  (*be sure to cite the source at some point). I used the first line of a poem from Keetje Kuipers.

Poem Starting with a Line by Keetje Kuipers

My little empire goes to sleep around me.
Machines whir to a stop, cell phones are
silenced, yet still vibrate little messages
while I sleep in the basement, surrounded
by the breath of flowing air ducts,
the babble of tiny finches that are senior
citizens in their giant cage. My eyes stay
shut but I still listen, feign sleep with
deep breaths, hear the dog shuffle the shirt
in her cage, listen to her feet click on
the plastic bottom. The radiant pain in my
leg subsides for one night, the mattress
hammocked in the middle. My brain still on
poetic time, still in defense mode. Coffee
will brew itself in the morning but I will
seethe through the night, unable to shut down.

(First line from "Waltz of the Midnight Miscarriage" by Keetje Kuipers)

Friday, April 26, 2013

NaPoWriMo, Day 26

A couple of tanka to end the day that fall in line with how frustrating this month can be...

Writer's block

She grows impatient
and fights for my attention
with words that evade,
as I stare at a screen. She
sighs. The cruelest month, it seems.

A running theme in April

She threatens to break
my laptop. Retreats to the
sofa, passes out.
This was not how the day was
to unfold. Silence speaks loud.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

NaPoWriMo, Day 25

Out on my own, I followed a "drowning" idea from a poet friend's blog...

The perfect way to drown

My father is the reason I never learned
to swim. I would sit by the edge of our
neighbor's pool and dangle my feet over
the side just enough to cover them, just
enough to be able to stare all the way
down to the blue liner at the bottom as
the chlorinated water rippled. I'd watch
the plastic vent door open and shut,
open and shut, duck away when someone
threw a beach ball near me, my thick red
hair in my eyes. Getting my feet wet wasn't
enough for my father. He'd always think it
was hilarious to push me into the water,
my body would sink like an pale anchor,
the water stinging my sinuses, my stunned
mouth agape and swallowing. My head crested
the water in what seemed like slow motion
and my clogged ears could still hear my
father laughing, as if this was the shove
that would make me want to take swimming
lessons. Instead, it gave me an out, a way
to rid myself of the voices in my head.
Knives are painful and it takes too long
for them to finish the job. I could just
wait until my neighbors had gone off to open
their bakery and rattle their wood gate ajar.
Dressed in a long sleeve shirt and cords,
my feet weighted with combat boots, I'll pull
the cover off of the pool and slip slowly over
the side, feel myself become weightless, watch
my arms flail up, like they're waving goodbye
and feel the water dragging me to the bottom.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

NaPoWriMo, Day 24

I had been following the story of this little girl for some time. She had a condition called omphalocele, where your intestines and in some cases (including Adalynn's), all of the abdominal organs are outside of the stomach. It's a rare condition that has a surprisingly high recovery rate. This girl spend most of her life in a hospital, but went home for the holidays. There hadn't been any follow up stories. I had long thought about writing something about her and her condition, so I googled her name today...only to find an obituary. There were no follow up stories, so I don't know how she died, but it probably was an infection, if I had to guess. She'd had several. Her heart stopped twice. Anyway, here's what I wrote for Adalynn.

Adalynn decides its time to go

You were supposed to make a full recovery.
No one ever expected this.
Now you get to be two and a half forever.

You never had the chance to try peanut butter
on bread, in chocolate, on your fingers as you
unscrew the top of the jar while your parents
are asleep in their beds, the tasty spread
stuck under your little fingernails.

Never had the opportunity to experience the
exhilaration of riding a tricycle, your feet
pedaling quickly, the wind whipping around
your pink helmet and blowing the tassels on
your handlebars, making them look like streamers
in the hot Texas summer air.

All that remains are numbers.
288 days in a hospital.
28 surgeries, several infections.
3 times, your heart stopped.
On the last one, you'd had enough.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

NaPoWriMo, Day 23

I went with the NaPoWriMo prompt today to write a triolet. Ok, the form is there, but it doesn't follow the meter. I really don't have the patience for that, so...I give you a meter-less triolet. 

Triolet for the girl who quit

Your indolence will be your undoing,
the misery is your own creation.
Your rage is directed at the wrong targets.
Your indolence will be your undoing.
Place the blame on a neglectful mother,
blind to the deception building around you.
Your indolence will be your undoing,
the misery is your own creation.

Monday, April 22, 2013

NaPoWriMo, Day 22

I'm having trouble getting anything started today. In other words, I'm hating everything I write today. I've scrapped more than I've managed to find useful. I don't even like this. It's from today's Poetic Asides prompt to write a "complex" poem.

A complex subject

The sun is making her squint.
She cannot keep her head straight
enough, cannot get the corners
of her mouth to turn up. The wind
cuts through the trees, stings her
neck. She is not good at posing.
The camera records misfires over
and over, shows a smirk, a detached
posture. A forced embrace broadcasts
more melancholy, she waits for the
session to end, waits for her chance
to retreat back into shadows.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

NaPoWriMo, Day 21

Well, I'm keeping up with it for the third year in a row. I've been sporadic at best in the past. I think before this year, last and 2011, I'd only completed one other year and in the last two I've done 62 poems and 64 last year. I'm on pace to top that. So...I went outside the box for a couple of poems and followed the Poetic Asides prompt for a few others. Here's what I'm posting today. One is a Senryu poem, which is very similar to a haiku, but doesn't have a nature requirement. In fact, it can be humorous, biting or just focused on the human condition. The other is a Decastich poem. 

Portraits on a Sunday afternoon

A field of flowers,
something like a movie we're
thrust into, captured.

Losing Cheyenne

On the chalkboard wall in my office
you wrote your name along the corner
near the door frame, drew a pink heart
and some strange design closer to the
floor, wrote the words "Hi, I love you
guys." I'll keep the memories of you
belting out a Drowning Pool song with
your own lyrics - "Let the bodies hit
the beach!", riding go-karts in Ocean
City. All you want to do now is get high.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

NaPoWriMo, Day 20

So today I happened to stumble across a bizarre picture on Facebook (like this is a first or something...). It was for a cookbook...for cooking with...semen. I shit you not. It was a legit book with a legit website. So naturally, I linked it on my Facebook page. My poet friend Emily then put a link in response in the article about women who cook their placentas and eat them. Yup. Real stuff here. One says it wards off post partum depression. Uh huh. Sure. So anyway, thanks to's this winner of a poem.

Sometimes you feel like a placenta, sometimes you don't

I can take it with my multivitamin every day.
If they're made by your body and for your body
how could they be bad? There are people who
eat their own snot and that's just like eating
dirt. I was craving organs through my pregnancy.
I had to have meat, so I took another section
and threw it in the food processor with some
coconut milk and a banana. Nothing can beat the
rush of eating something that pure, something
you've cultivated in your own body. Dinner
tomorrow will be another piece, boiled with a
jalapeno pepper, some lemon and ginger. If you
eat brisket, this isn't any different. Besides,
did that brisket come from you? Can you feel
the surge of consuming something that was a part
of you and your child? You have to find good
recipes, though. If you just cook it, freeze dry
it and eat it like jerky, it's going to be bland
and the whole experience is ruined. I'll save the
broth. Some will go into my morning smoothie.
I'm just feeding the tree of life.

Friday, April 19, 2013

NaPoWriMo, Day 19

So, I went with the Poetic Asides prompt to write a "burn" poem. I've been reading a book called "Beautiful" by Katie Piper. I heard her story on tv some time ago and saw the struggles she went through after her attack. This is what I came up with.

Katie, disappearing

I thought it was water or coffee
thrown at me by some crazy, scruffy
homeless guy. I thought I'd have to
go home and change my clothes over
someone's rudeness until I felt the
pain sink in, until I could feel skin
coming off and watched my clothes
disappear, saw my flesh turning red,
bubble and dissolve. Everything looked
cloudy. I could hear screams and didn't
even know they were mine, my voice, a
gravelly, acid coated stranger. Pieces
of me were disappearing and I couldn't do
a thing to stop it. I felt like my bones
were on fire, like the end was near
and I was this pitiful sight, gawked at
by people. No one would help me. I knew
it was Danny's idea, knew that only he
could inflict this kind of misery, knew
that raping me two days before wasn't
enough. He had to erase me. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

NaPoWriMo, Day 18

I've combined the prompts from NaPoWriMo and Poetic Asides to make the poem below. It's a little bit of lighter fare for me.

I am the burnt bread

that sits on a trivet on
the top of the oven. The
smoke rising from the top
and the small gaps on the
side of the pan. You left
me in too long. The recipe
clearly stated 40-50 minutes.
Why would you go for the
longer time and leave me to
brown on the sides, blacken
my streusel top? Haven't you
baked others like me? You
really shouldn't quit your
day job. Now you're sitting
dejectedly in the other room,
pretending I don't exist.
I don't think you even want
to eat me now. After I cool
and you pierce me with a sharp
knife, examine my insides and
mercifully toss me in the trash.
Don't pretend like you would
enjoy me. I couldn't take being
lied to like that.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

NaPoWriMo, Day 17

I used the NaPoWriMo prompt to write a greeting poem. Earlier this month, one of their prompts was to write a valediction, so now we work the other end of the spectrum. I wrote this with a friend in mind. Someone who just got some really good news after a big struggle. I tried to avoid being trite, but...well, hopefully it doesn't suck too much.

In vitro
(for N)

Hello spark.
Your charge starts this flame
inside of me. Right now,
it is a slow, blue light
like a bunsen burner.
You are a jigsaw piece,
an unbroken yolk I can't see
but can keep warm.
You should know how we labored
for you, even when my cells
were found faulty, even when
the broken pieces were gutted
from my womb.
Now it is about making phone calls
with cautious excitement,
about growing you from the
ground up, thick roots spread
from Poland to America,
to you in a petri dish.
I stand in front of the mirror,
place my pale hands over flatlands
that you will expand,
release a long breath and begin
my wait for you.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

NaPoWriMo, Day 16

So I managed to write some lighter/weirder stuff today. This is one of them. I followed the Poetic Asides prompt, since the one at NaPoWriMo wasn't really up my least, my brain wasn't feeling it today. 

Impossible things to avoid in April

Staying up late, far too late. The act of attempting to write something profound that comes out sounding fucking trite and poorly formed. The quiet sighs from your other half as she tries to snuggle you while you type. The infuriating weather that jumps from calm and warm one minute, to chilly and breezy the next. The uncomfortable metal chairs outside that passing birds crap on. The neighbor's weed whacker. That fucking noisy weed whacker. Those directionless bumblebees that zip around my head. Find a flower to fuck already. The nagging feeling that you're the only one taking the whole poem-a-day thing seriously.

Monday, April 15, 2013

NaPoWriMo, Day 15

Went out on my own on this prompt involved except life today.

Another dog/life reflection

She doesn't know that people are being
exploded today. She has no idea that
teenaged girls are getting raped and
shamed. She only wants to know where
the stuffed owl she was given for her
birthday went, that it could be in my
closet until its sewn up tighter. She
doesn't know that I'm writing about her,
that she's middle aged now, that half
of her life could be gone now. We have
so much in common these days.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

NaPoWriMo, Day 14

NaPoWriMo's prompt today was to write a persona poem from the point of view of a superhero or supervillain. I really didn't know where to go with this one. I don't watch as many movies like that anymore. I haven't read comics in years. So, after pondering it for a while, I went back to one of the first comics I ever collected, and probably my favorite character of them all. 


I didn't have to run away.
I had everything I could have wanted.
All I needed was attention from the
most important person in my life:
my mother. So I left. I gave up
everything. I walked the streets,
met a boy who protected me until
we ended up as lab rats to some
chemist who shot us up with some
synthetic drugs. We should have died,
but we didn't. We ended up with powers.

Now I glow with white light. Now I can
aim daggers of light anywhere I want.
I can take down the people who prey
on the weak, the homeless, the frail.
I'll never stop fighting these drug dealing
bastards. I'll make sure that other girls
and boys like me never have to sleep in a park,
dig through a dumpster for food. This drug war
is so much bigger than me and I know I'll never
be able to stop all of them, but I'll keep going.
Ty would have wanted me to.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

NaPoWriMo, Day 13

Today, I went with the NaPoWriMo prompt of taking a walk, observing and writing a poem about what you see. 

Treats, hair product and soft pretzels

The sound of popping balloons
scares the dogs sitting out on
the sidewalk in front of the newish
pet store sandwiched between
a hair salon and a pizza joint.
My urge to tackle a few slices
is doused by the dejected look
I am given by my other half.
I won't be allowed to eat in front
of her, so we walk in the pet store,
buy presents for our dachshund's
sixth birthday - little treats, squeak
toys, a giant baked bone with the
words "Happy Birthday" written on it,
make our way to the salon for haircuts.
I let her go first. There are poems to
write. Try to ignore the mindless chatter,
the people asking me if I'm waiting,
the overbearing smell of hair products.
I think about poem ideas and soft pretzels.

Friday, April 12, 2013

NaPoWriMo, Day 12

I used the NaPoWriMo prompt today. Click the link and you can read it. I'm not writing it all out here. This sounds pretty harsh, is what it is.

A few things I can't tell you

You aren't going to remember any of this
by the time I'm done. Half of it, you
won't even hear. Your hearing has been
shit for years. I mostly pity you now.
I worry that I'll end up with this same
fucking affliction, and with the last of
my senses, I'll blame you. This doesn't
run on Mom's side of the family.

There was no expectation of affection, no
reason to believe that you'd listen to my
problems. I never thought you'd do a damned
thing if I told you that I had been tortured
by the boy around the corner. You never had
any hobbies, so I didn't think you'd care about
mine. Your role was that of a figure head,
a weak willed disciplinarian. There was never
an ounce of respect for you in my blood.

I was happy to erase your name from me.

I told you my name three times the last time
I called. I just wanted you to shut up and hand
the phone over to Mom. I can't talk to a shell.
There is nothing left to do for you but maintain
until you shut down, until you fade away.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

NaPoWriMo, Day 11

Today I went with the Poetic Asides prompt to take the phrase “In Case of (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write the poem. I read a story today online that bothered me a bit and wanted to write something. It didn't turn out as I planned, is a first draft.

In case there's any confusion

Not all boys rape, Rehteah.
There are boys that know better
than to ply a girl with so much
alcohol that she can't possibly
make a rational decision or
consent to have sex with one boy,
let alone four of them.

Not all boys think it's funny
to send pictures of the gang rape
over their smartphones to their
friends and post them online.

Not every single boy in Canada,
in the US, in the civilized world
is going to call a girl a slut
for being someone's vessel that
is left to piece together the events
the next morning, the next week, month.

You found your answer in a rope
and I'm tired of writing poems to
dead girls who hang themselves,
dead girls who think that these stupid
boys deserve to hold that much power
over them, dead girls who get cheated
out of the bliss of incredible music,
the sight of New York City's skyline,
the amazing waves of California's coast.

It wasn't fucking worth it, Rehteah.
Never let little bastards like that win.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

NaPoWriMo, Day 10

Today, I went with the Poetic Asides prompt to write a "suffering poem". I read this article and it pretty much came quickly. Several lines are quotes.

A rammed earth home crumbles

I promised them I'd keep them safe and warm,
but when they pulled them out of that red clay
they were cold, lifeless.
I prayed. I asked for them to be brought back
to me, back to the house, to hear their laughter.
Instead, I was grabbing boulders and dirt.
The clay built up under my nails, but I kept
digging, I just couldn't reach them.
I am left with the images of the walls caving
in, my daughter and her cousin running,
my outstretched hand could feel the heat of
her life, the fear pulsing in her veins,
but I couldn't grab her hand.
I watched them disappear into the earth.
I spent three months digging, I just didn't know
that it would be a grave.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

NaPoWriMo, Day 9

And now, for something bizarre...

So, my friend Amber put up a post on Facebook about getting a spam message with the title "Ejaculate in copious amounts and impress her". I told her to write a poem with that title, but...I sort of beat her to it. Yup, leave it to me. So I challenge YOU out there to write a poem with a title from a spam message in your inbox. Here's mine...

Ejaculate in copious amounts and impress her

Still, you need to work to this.
Find the right magazine or website
and start slow. If you overreach,
you'll let loose too soon and that
will never impress her. Something
with a thumb and forefinger.
Something with a giant tube that
feels like fucking a flashlight.
You need to practice, as it's the
only way to reach those copious 
amounts and then you can gain control.
You can aim for an eye, a lamp shade,
a parked car that sits right outside
your bedroom window. Crack the screen
open and see if you can hit the building
across the street. You don't need 
a firehose of a pocket rocket, just
watch this video and your member turns
into a super soaker on a Summer day.
That's bound to impress her.

Monday, April 8, 2013

NaPoWriMo, Day 8

We'll call this "Instruction Poem #1". My friend Bronwyn wrote a terrific one of these that was picked up by Thick With Conviction. You can read it here.

Spring maintenance

You have to make it round.
No one wants to look at something
that looks like a green box
growing from the ground.
Steady the hedge trimmer and take
swooping strokes over the top.
Move to the bottom and take out
the branches that poke at your
waist, the strays winding
through the fence into your neighbor's
yard, but make sure that the pieces
don't land on his side when he's been
in his yard raking the leaves that
have taken residence in the corners
of his property since October. 
Wear gloves. Something will always
prick you, puncture your brittle 
Spring skin. The ache in your arm
from the clipper's insistent vibration
will go away in a day. Just remember
that you're not twenty anymore.
Don't push it. No one wants to be
found face down in their backyard
by passing children, by nosy drivers.
It's just a shitty way to die.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

NaPoWriMo, Day 7

Going off the NaPoWriMo prompt, my poem is below. The prompt is to write of poem entirely of declarative sentences, with the last line as a question. It's not that great, but it's done.

Ready for digging

I park next to a handicapped space.
I almost forget my phone in the car.
I ask if I need to sign in.
The woman at the desk speaks in monotone.
She tells me the procedure is no big deal.
I find a seat away from everyone else.
I surf the internet to forget about it.
I get called in and take a deep breath.
I lay back and take a large needle to the face.
I feel my eyes tear up and bite my tongue.
The scraping lasts maybe five minutes.
The hole is covered with a round bandage.
I'm told to come back in six months.

Is the cancer gone?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

NaPoWriMo, Day 6

This is one of the two valedictions I wrote today. The prompt is via NaPoWriMo, the site I've been following the most, though I've also gone outside the box a few times, as well. I had found out last May that an ex-girlfriend of mine had died. She was seven years younger than me. I don't hold a great deal of nostalgia for someone who put me through a mess of shit, but I don't think she was "evil" or anything like that. She and I would never be really friendly again and that was quite fine with me. After she passed, I wasn't sure how to feel. My friend Todd and I had agreed that she lived a tough life and felt sort of bad for her, but she created a lot of her own problems. Anyway, here's the poem. 

Valediction for an ex-girlfriend

My mother called on a Sunday,
told me you were gone.
She didn't know much more.
I knew what you told me on Facebook.
The bad marriage and divorce,
the older guy who got you hooked
on drugs, the bulimia,
the pictures you posted online,
gaunt, bony and frail.
It wasn't the same girl I dated,
but you were smiling. Somehow,
after everything your 35 year old
body endured, you managed to smile.
You had a husband who treated you well,
you'd just gotten a new cat.
You also kept throwing up.
It had to be what finally beat you,
the last strain on a fragile ecosystem.
I want you to know that I let go of
that bitterness some years ago,
that I had a fight with my wife over
being in contact with you again.
After I hung up the phone with my mother,
I asked my wife if I should feel sad.
I think I finally do, Jessica.

Friday, April 5, 2013

NaPoWriMo, Day 5

I got down to the wire today. The combination of exhaustion and a mental empty tank was lethal. It took some doing, but I coaxed a couple of weirder poems from my brain. This one is a sort of reply to another poem that I read today. I get poems sent to my inbox during National Poetry Month and particularly liked this poem and came up with what you see below.

Like Any American Obsession
(after Brynn Saito)

My television and I are going to break up soon.
I know it's coming. She doesn't captivate
me anymore. She's repeating the same tired
ideas with different faces. There are only
so many weight loss shows you can watch.
After eight o'clock, I reminisce a little with
Monk reruns and Bobby Goren episodes of Criminal
Intent, but then she flips to televangelists
and ads for Hip Hop Abs, and I'm sorry, but I'll
never have a Rockin' Body. She's trying to make
me into something I'm not. That's why I hide 
in the office. The internet lets me do what I want,
lets me mindlessly slip into catatonia, doesn't
ask for too much, doesn't care if I want to eat
a red velvet cupcake in front of her. It always
knows what I want, tells me how to order it.
I clean its cache and it lulls me to sleep at night.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

NaPoWriMo, Day 4

Ok, so I used the prompt from Poetic Asides for this one, which was to write a poem with the title "Hold That _____" (yeah, you fill in the blank with what you want.) Needless to say, it wasn't the best prompt in the world...until C blurted something out and I just went with it. So, enjoy this little piece...heh.

Hold that penis

is what my wife told me I should use
for the title of a poem,
told me I would be too embarrassed 
to actually write it, 
but said she wouldn't dare me to,
that she didn't really care.
She thinks I'm in here writing
gay erotica now, thinks that I'm
holding my own, maybe while I'm 
writing this, but I'm not.
I'm mostly wondering if there is
a non-pornographic way to approach
a poem with a title like this,
if there's a way to have it not sound
sordid or just plain weird,
but there probably isn't and I don't
need to hold my penis to figure that out,
but if this hasn't really held interest
for you at this point, perhaps you'll
want to click over to some porn,
but make sure it's a free site where
you don't have to sign up for anything
and, if you're a guy, this would now
be the perfect time to hold that penis,
but don't forget the lotion.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

NaPoWriMo, Day 3

I pulled this poem out of an article I read about a girl who is allergic to the sun. Yes, she really is.

Draw the sky shade

I could burst into flames
the next time I walk outside.
I feel the heat rising on my
face, on my arms and hands.
I watch the skin turn red,
turn blistered. I itch
everywhere the sun reaches.
My car is covered in tinting.
I never open the blinds in
my house, at work.
I own ten umbrellas. You can
never be too cautious when
your enemy never goes away.
My head pounds in the heat.
The beach is impossible.
I've almost forgotten what
my skin looks like in daylight.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

NaPoWriMo, Day 2

Today's poem comes from NaPoWriMo's prompt to write a poem that tells a lie or lies. It could be all lies, it could build to a big lie or whatever you choose. I'll let the reader decide what is fact and what it fiction in mine.

In the house of my nemesis

I broke in your house today.
I needed evidence that your
grandiose life was, in fact,
nothing but a big fucking lie.
I admit to rummaging through
your dresser, to see if you
owned granny panties, to find
picture evidence of this boyfriend
that I know doesn't exist.
I looked for trophies, awards.
I stole a pack of gum, even though
I have five packs sitting on my desk
right now. I pushed all of your cd's
under your bed and threw the really
crappy ones, like old Backstreet Boys
albums, in your backyard.
Just to be an asshole.
Then, I left a love note on your pillow.

Monday, April 1, 2013

NaPoWriMo, Day 1

So, I've written two so far today. It's a good start, but I hate them both. One is posted on another blog. Both are from the NaPoWriMo website prompt. I haven't written anything since late January/early February, so I have to work out the suckdom, quite clearly. Here's the first one...BTW, April's poem is WAY better.


I scatter landmine pieces of paper
on the desk, lists of cd's I want,
coupons printed at supermarkets,
receipts for shit I shouldn't be
eating. None have anything worthwhile
scribbled on them. None are pieces 
of poems, bank deposits, the numbers
of people I should call for whatever
reason. They hold no power, gather dust,
start to curl on the edges. The dog
wouldn't even go near them. They sit
slowly decomposing in the left corner,
near a plastic cup filled with melting
ice and iced coffee flavored water.
They are waiting for me to give them
purpose, waiting for me to take action.

(First line from April Michelle Bratten's "Eat My Paper")

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Review: Melancholia (An Essay) by Kristina Marie Darling

I have been following the work of Kristina Marie Darling for many years now. She's been published a few times in Chantarelle's Notebook and I've put two chapbooks of her work into the world via Maverick Duck Press. If there's one thing that Darling doesn't lack, it's the ability to vividly paint a story with striking images and exquisite language. Melancholia (An Essay) is a small book, comparable to Neruda's Twenty Love Poems, though I feel the comparisons between the two end soon after that. Melancholia is experimental, but not devoid of emotion. The passages are presented as letters, lists, definitions and footnotes, but could just as well be journal entries. Trinkets and jewelry are large parts of the story and are used as metaphors for a relationship that slowly reveals itself to be crumbling, though it might not have had legs to stand on to begin with. It starts almost ominously with: 

you were like bits of broken glass when the
jewelry box shattered

night & the ocean’s coldest shore

With much of Darling's work, you have to read into what the images reveal. The book doesn't seemingly present itself as melancholic, however "Soon the landscape seemed almost mechanical. Water rising and falling like the needle on a telegraph." is a striking revelation at the end of the book. Ultimately, the heroine's melancholia is released in short, concise bursts throughout. It is a quick read and if you don't read carefully, you could miss the plot, but it stands as another fine collection in Darling's growing canon. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

One last call for alcohol, so finish your whiskey or beer...

2013 has had a rough start for me, but I'm not going to get into the specifics of the personal things. I will say that I do plan to be much more proactive with this blog. You will start to see poetry reviews here, some music reviews and naturally, some musings in between it all. 

Poetry remains a big focus. I haven't written in abundance, but I plan to channel my energies into that more often. I won't force anything, but I will give myself nudges when I'm feeling morose and mopey. MDP is moving right along. Of course, we really could stand to sell more chapbooks, but that's always going to be the case. The only way to sustain the press is to have the sales to do so. One very cool thing is that I have something of a staff now. Since about the middle of 2012, the talented Ryan Bradley has been doing covers for the MDP chapbooks and I've credited him with "artistic direction" at MDP. Just a few weeks ago, my good friend and talented poet Bronwyn Haynes became MDP's assistant editor, which helps me enormously. I've had a few people give their time to help me read manuscripts, but they were short term and tended to get overwhelmed by the influx of submissions. Bronwyn has dived head first into the subs and is doing a bang up job. She and I have similar tastes, so I see this working for the long haul. 

Chantarelle's Notebook is still going strong, though C and I have a bit of submissions to read. As for the poetry group...I think we've decided that it is time for QND to end. We had a nice, long run. Nearly ten years, to be exact. For some of us in the group, it's almost a relief. I know I will not want for poetic projects. There's a lot to be done and though I'll miss doing the readings and getting feedback on my work, I know there will be other avenues for both. I'm already planning readings for MDP.

So...keep an eye out. There's much more to come, including a posting of my first poetry review for Kristina Marie Darling's "Melancholia". "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."...I believe that's how it goes. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Old spoken word cd's...

I have three of these left, for anyone who might want one. The cd is called "Droning" and I recorded them roughly 10 years ago. So, when these are gone...they're gone. I might venture into spoken word terrain again this year, especially since I'm a much better reader than I was. Anyway, if you want one, I'm providing a link to buy one...they're relatively cheap.

Droning by Kendall A. Bell