Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Five Poems By Colin Dodds

Colin Dodds is the author of Another Broken Wizard, WINDFALL and The Last Bad Job, which Norman Mailer touted as showing “something that very few writers have; a species of inner talent that owes very little to other people.” His writing has appeared in more than two hundred publications, and been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Poet and songwriter David Berman (Silver Jews, Actual Air) said of Dodds’ work: “These are very good poems. For moments I could even feel the old feelings when I read them.” Colin’s book-length poem That Happy Captive was a finalist in the 2015 Trio House Press Louise Bogan Award as well as the 42 Miles Press Poetry Award. And his screenplay, Refreshment, was named a semi-finalist in the 2010 American Zoetrope Contest. Colin lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife Samantha. See more of his work at thecolindodds.com.

Garage Door

I wasted all last night 
trying to talk my two-year-old cousin 
out of going on antidepressants

He heard me out 
But he wasn’t hearing it

I won’t repeat my argument 
But you can imagine it

It’s the same push-pull 
that preoccupies my afternoons

There’s an eye in us 
bigger than us 
an eyelid like a garage door
as heavy as we are strong 

We’re always 
busting a blood vessel
to slam it shut 
or jerk it open

And the door 
always moves too much 
and too late

Another Broken Wizard, a novel by Colin Dodds

Saturday Night

In the day all we see is wires
At night all we see is light

Dim damp raucous 
Saturday night sidewalks prove desire 

The bar fills with arias of howareya
Each drink transforms 
oppressors to liberators and back again 
open eyes alluring as a watery grave 

A who’s who of who’s that
The bartendrix giggling grapples a foam-spewing tap 
The bearded guy trying to pass for young Yahweh 
argues with a mohawked woman 
about how they should’ve been entertained
The tucked-in shirt checks his phone, concludes
This life is kind of a dud, isn’t it?

Everyone a dupe or double-agent 
watching the wrong card 
plotting to betray ourselves

Jugglers and tumblers 
juggle and tumble into a common oblivion
Just dying to dive into the earth or into one another 
that we may not die this night

The Pickpocket Tradition

Heavy hands and light fingers
abound about the Piazza San Pietro 

Stumps gesturing, a man sings
A woman common enough to be a type 
presses her wrinkled forehead into the ground 

In the shadow of the indulgence-funded basilica
tour guides of all languages and faiths hook tourists 
with promises of shorter lines 

Beside the dome, Sistine Chapel 
and colonnade of saints bracketing an obelisk
the ancient custom of saying it all with a straight face 
lives on

Knotting My Tie

In obligatory hours 
wrestling cufflinks
the wealthy dead whisper: 
All Is Sales

Knotting a tie, the mirror shows 
nature in the shadow of death
acting in kind-of-good faith

The nine-to-five tourniquet tightens
on whiteboard palimpsests of half-erased hopes
on calendars of days like cheap shirts—
too long wherever they’re not too short

Dreaming drycleaning 
and borrowing on authority I abhor
dressing for a minor battle 
in an undistinguished war

I check my collar 
like someone who knows 
he can’t afford bail

Heaven Unbuilt, poems by Colin Dodds

Prometheus in the Drizzle

At night, officetops meander 
through pink clouds of media 
like pieces in a board game 
with no objective

The sky ricochets between mirrored curtain walls
Little offices offer things like information 
and information like things
Large offices offer consultation or consolation

The avenue below is a firefight of glances
Fallen angels and risen devils punish one another 
for sex with sex and pretend everything else is afoot

The saints, who were supposed to have cleared all this up, 
grin from niches in pigeon-proof netting
pensioners in an empire of crap

Aerodynamic angels don helmets
on the skyscraper’s mezzanine frieze
entitled Prometheus Tries to Renegotiate—
where the first miserable mark of human grift
sternly rethinks his supposed gift

While in small mid-block barbershops 
that’ve been losing their leases forever 
women cut men’s hair and send them off like little boys 
to do untold damage
on this practice earth

Monday, August 17, 2015

Poetry From NYC Subway Cars By Adam Kluger

No More Love Music was written a number of years ago inside NYC subway cars. -Adam Kluger

When I read those words I was already in, as I spent an entire Summer riding the Rockford buses because I didn't have anywhere to go or anything better to do. These are a few selections from the Adam Kluger book No More Love Music, and a sketch titled Lady In the Blue Dress from 2015. 

What I like about this series of poems is anyone who has ever ridden public transportation can easily understand all the emotions and observations one goes through sharing a conveyance with fellow humans. You see so much and can go through such a range of reactions, everything from empathy to disgust in just a few moments. 

Lady In the Blue Dress, 2015, Adam Kluger
With Your Hands

Hold my face
in your hands
it's all I need
to go one more day
hold my love
inside a jar
with nuts and bolts and candles.
hold my life
within your hands
and don't let go
don't fly away
and leave me cold
don't be so cruel.
find me now, don't wait much longer
hold me
hold me
with your hands.

Monday Morning Blues

Monday blues
need new shoes
and howl
the work noose tightens
death to all us workers
bad coffee
pretty girls
oh pretty girls
make me forget
Monday morning blues
the subway shrieks
and spits out
bad smells
the cage opens...
to let
more suckers

The Zipper 

the train zips by
catch the train
its metallic thrust
invades your brain
and every day
the same
impersonal refrain...
there will be a delay
a delay
a delay.
the people on the
show the strain
of the panic in their
caused by smoke
and acid rain...
the machine is oiled
and ready to snap
a python stirs inside
his lap
the ride is long
and the day
too short
like prison bars
the train's doors
stay clamped shut
as it zips along.

Dog People

The dog people
are coming...
in fact, they're already here!
pulled by invisible leashes
work collars
fit snugly
on the throat
wigglin' their tails
yelping for joy
when simple things
like an air conditioned bus
happens by.
dog people
they are all over the street today
in different shapes and sizes
and pedigree
dog people
chasing after buses
enjoying their Scooby snacks
living for
the man.

Itchy Shirt

smelly crowded bus
itchy shirt
the daily news
a walkman
homeless woman playing with her feet
the "B" train
another "B" train
angry faces
empty platform
itchy shirt
where's the fucking "C" ?
itchy shirt
hard to breathe
can't understand that P.A. announcement
who can?
itchy shirt
a work day begins
-Adam Kluger

      Although it's slightly unusual, I identify with the theme of these poems a lot, so I wanted to share a few pieces of my own in this blog entry. Maybe we'll get some other art and poetry about sharing public transportation.

I Am the Bus

I am the bus
In this poem.
It is down to that,
A conveyance.

Are you already
Guessing the metaphor?
Are you already teasing
The punchline?

No, you are wrong.
For in this poem
I am the bus,
Making all my stops.
-Thomas L. Vaultonburg

By Jenny Mathews and Thomas L. Vaultonburg

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Joseph Reich Charles Atlas Poems

Someone recently asked me what criteria I use to decide if I'm reading a great poem or not. And I immediately responded "I don't." Because my response to poetry isn't based on a good/bad continuum. I'm more interested in something that makes me say WTF was that? Did they just say that? That's the kind of poetry I like to read here at ZLR. Here are some poems from a book-length manuscript titled A Psychological Hx Of Charles Atlas
151 proofs & figures by Joseph Reich. I have no idea what any of this is about or what inspired it, and that's the way I like it, but this is a book that should be in print.

C.Atlas fig. #80

Still searching for dropped off chunk of umbilical chord
lost chords from beatle’s love songs i loved whose one
note could move you like nothing else could those rare
quartz mica rocks my best friend neighbor and i used
to discover in the pachysandra in the woods of his
backyard the blood the sun the weird stray dogs
wandering around the waterfall of the pond
of that strange split-level set back in the forest
of the dead end of suburbs you never wanted
to come out of all the earth and mud and blood
you knew o too well all eventually magically turning
to dust to sand from the land trying to steal as much
as you can before you had to go in caked on your
canvas pants with patches on them you victoriously
courageously ripped right through a true-blue sign
of the seasons and spirit and essence of what it was
to be a kid and super hero and grown man the fathers
in the garment district and diamond district and stock
market you never saw all those girls you did and they
did you way too young always feeling guilty unloved
fishsticks and leftover stuffed cabbage...

C.Atlas fig. #84

Before i go i see all the santas and wise men
deflated on front lawns the deflated husbands
and what the years have done to them the deflated
wives “flesh-colored” bloodless without pigmentation
who haven’t been touched in ages and always bending
over in promiscuous positions so you can get a bird’s eye
view and all their little angels really devils and delinquents
in parochial school involved in some sort of mischief and
can’t stay out of trouble as you arrive at the workout club
with all the college girls and milfs the former purely
physical and athletic and the latter existential and
emotional both looking to get all their emptiness
all their holes filled up and for you to proverbially
and spiritually ‘serve and protect’ and save them,

C.Atlas fig. #87

Finally at last at the health club today
they turned off all that satanic repetitive
designer drug-driven idiotic house music
which sweeps and seems to take over your
essence your mind body heart and soul and
out of nowhere casually heard in the background
“we almost lost detroit” and thought
hadn’t heard that in so damn long and man
that just seemed to say it all and didn’t mind
hearing it over & over we almost lost detroit…

C.Atlas fig. #88

Screen 1: On the treadmills again and dreamed
over the muted tv over h.g.t.v. all those perfect
little responsible goody-goody lily-white killcasians
were replicating themselves until they all looked
acted exactly the same had the exact same friends
the exact same token minorities not too many so
they wouldn’t feel too uncomfortable asked
the exact same questions and the exact
same personalities and affectations
“we were sort of hoping for granite
for an outdoor shower for a view
of the mountains” as if all of
this was expected and entitled
as wasn’t sure if it was just me
but dreamed those little goodygoody
lily-white killcasians muted
over h.g.t.v. had replicated themselves
until they were all looking and acting exactly
the same and man just had to stay on the treadmills
just a little longer to get myself grounded back in reality,. 

C.Atlas fig. #89

Scream 2: Think there should be an h.g.t.v. where some family
bum-rushes them and does a sudden intervention but for nothing
like drugs or chemical dependency but for just being way too damn
corny and goody-goody and predictable and boring and privileged
and entitlement and scream you’re never grateful or contented
it’s just about me! me! me! me! me! me! me! about rooms
always being way too tiny and your jacuzzi and walk-in
closets and your granite goddamn if i have to hear about
granite one more fucken time i think i’m gonna die
and the proximity of your neighbors, well how in
the hell you know they even want to be near you
you nauseating wishy-washy fake exclusive
mean-spirited passive-aggressive bastards
or something eloquent to that effect
and they just break down sobbing
looking real pale and pasty
right into the camera,

Joseph Reich has been published in a wide variety of eclectic literary journals
both here and abroad, been nominated five times for The Pushcart Prize, and
his most recent books include, "A Different  Sort Of Distance" (Skive Magazine
Press) "If I Told You To Jump Off The Brooklyn Bridge " (Flutter Press) "Pain
Diary: Working Methadone & The Life & Times Of The Man Sawed In Half"
(Brick Road Poetry Press) "Drugstore Sushi" (Thunderclap Press)  "The Derivation
Of Cowboys & Indians" (Fomite Press) "The Housing Market: a comfortable place
to jump off the end of the world" (Fomite Press) "The Hole That Runs Through
Utopia" (Fomite Press)  "Taking The Fifth And Running With It: a psychological
guide for the hard of hearing and blind" (Broadstone Books) "The Defense
Mechanisms: your survival guide to the fragile mind" (Fomite Press)

See two longer pieces from this book at Outsider Poetry

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Poems At the End of the World Chapbook (Outsider Poetry From 1992)

Today it occurred to me that every day I sit here and try to think of something to write, but I have three books, Poems At the End of the World, Detached retinas, and Demented Children's Story Hour that have never been digitized or put on the internet. I have exactly one copy of Poems At the End of the World, but I think I'll go get it off the shelf and post a poem here, assuming any of it is even presentable.


There's some war on TV, I don't know
Which, being fought with the original results.
There's one live and one Memorex, and
One being shoved in under the bathroom door.
In war, you're not allowed to shoot
Men carrying flags, only men carrying
Pictures of their children in their wallets.
The Veterans of Future Wars are drilling
And parading in the frozen playground
Across the street.
The captain, a tenish boy who has already 
Earned his first Purple Heart,
Has rounded up the poets and stuck
Their tongues to the frigid steel
Of the monkey bars.
(Now they're shitting the truth
Out of their asses).
-Thomas L. Vaultonburg
Poems At the End of the World was my seconf chapbook, published in 1992 by Subourbon Press. It is 11 pages long.

Ionic Matriculations

My lover's husband threw a history book
Into the fire and was sentenced to five 
Years in prison. That's why he's never around.
History never concerned me much until
I ran out of condoms unless it's ancient.
There's a death match on TV, and they're
Selling me the Universe with garlic.
American Indians want me to buy a Honda,
Maybe with four doors, so I can drive
My two blue-eyed boys to a school where
We have stolen the dreams of his children.
When I was a child the Indian on TV wept
Because I consumed enough to become white
And I won't let my children be born
Where I walk there are signs warning of
Danger and the weeping Indian tells me
Whiteness indicates the absence of a soul.
If I forgot to swallow my radiation tablet
yesterday it's only because Mozart played
Before the Queen at eight, and my only
Precocious act was to realize the
Hopelessness of it all at fifteen, and
It's not fair to know that until you're thirty-five.
-Thomas L. Vaultonburg

     I guess these were poems written after my first book Concave Buddha, but that I decided didn't fit in my second book Detached Retinas. What I remember is that everything I was writing was being published as fast as I could write it, and everyone wanted to do a chapbook. Back then there was no print on demand, or digital printing, so even the act of creating a chapbook was labor intensive, and at five cents a copy an expensive proposition, too, for editors who just doing it for love of the small press and the written word. I actually don't know why these two poems didn't make it into Detached Retinas. I wish I had a few more copies of this.