Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Poetry By Scott Thomas Outlar

Scott Thomas Outlar hosts the site where links to his published poetry, fiction, essays, and interviews can be found. His chapbook "Songs of a Dissident" was released in 2015 through Transcendent Zero Press and is available on Amazon. His poetry collections "Happy Hour Hallelujah" (CTU Publishing) and "Chaos Songs" (Weasel Press) are both forthcoming in 2016.

Losing Some Battles, Winning the War

Trying to find a suitable spot
to hammer out a poem in the woods
can sometimes be a daunting task
once the Summer swelter hits hardcore
and the creepy-crawlies
start coming out of the woodwork.

Mosquitos, bees, and other
bloodsucking things
make movement to the next bench
an absolute necessity.

Odd-colored spiders
with pinchers
that are far
from pacifistic
signal a second alarm,
and so the ship must set sail
away from such stormy seas
toward a safe harbor
which hopefully offers some peace.

Gnats, flies, and unidentified
species of insects
crawling up my legs
have marked the territory
of this third locale,
so it’s sayonara for now
because my nerves
are starting to fray,
but at least I was able
to place this ink on the page

A Promise to Be Gentle
It’s not trendy –
I know –
to speak about
good and evil
in this morally relativistic culture

but that’s cool…
I like to do it anyway

It’s not hip –
I dig,
I get ya,
I got ya,
no worries –
to cast spells
of karmic retribution
in this materialistic paradise gone awry

it’s all cool…
I’ll only cast a few

(Recorded version via SoundCloud)

May the Force Be with You

There is no need
to weep
from fear
of a burning sky
or nuclear fallout.

It is not
the push of a red button
that has brought
unto this nation,
but a Chemical Apocalypse
that has poisoned
the hormonal balance
of many generations.

The glands
are out of whack,
and the blood
is a sludge
of hellfire toxins
cooked up and crafted
in laboratories funded
by The Medical
Industrial Death Machine.

The crazed corporations
want the populace asleep
as they creep
one step at a time
toward fulfilling the dream
of their nihilistic purge.

Look not to the bombs and missiles
that rain
violent war from above,
but toward
the source
of DNA
that is being
toyed with
and manipulated
by the madmen
that seek dominion
over this earth.

The golden key
to the core of creation
is the genetic code
that spans back
to the primordial soup.

Look not
to the oil wells
and goldmines
of ravaged resources,
but toward
the spawn
of a decadent breed
that hates humanity
and so weaves
a wicked web
of deceit
as a way to damage
and degrade
the pure consciousness
of those
who are still awake.

Open your eyes!
The Rubicon
was crossed
ages ago
while you were dozing,
and now the time
for drooling
like a stumbling zombie
has passed
the point
of being considered trendy.

Lines in the sand
are a mile wide,
and this is the day
to pick your side.

The continued regression
of the species
will end in devastation,
but a cleanse
of the guts
will begin to restore
a state
of homeostasis and peace
with a raw, electric,
living feast
that drives out
the parasitic Beast,
offering one final shot
at a leap
toward evolution.

Cast out the swine
and align
with the high
of a natural, organic
of progressive, providence pie.

The Final Ace

At the end of the line,
after every card is laid on the table,
after all the chips have been played,
it’s not about saying,
“I did it my way,”
so much as it is
about hoping
that I did it the right way.

Rockford Poetry and The Rock River Literary Series

The third book in the Rock River Literary Series, The Blood Dark Sea, by Dennis Gulling, has been a great success. The book release party at JR Kortman Gallery was a blast, and we saw all the people we had hoped to. Tim Stotz was the guest bartender, and he concocted a specialty drink called The Blood Dark Sea. 

I had stressed out about hosting the event all week, and ironically, as soon as I got behind the microphone I completely disregarded the notes I had been rehearsing. I'm pretending to look at them here just to give myself time to gather my thoughts. The Stella Artois was a useful companion, as it was all night

In addition to celebrating Dennis Gulling, who is finally getting his due as one of the great Outlaw Poets in America, I was able to do my impersonation of Jesus Correa, the author of the first book in the Rock River Literary Series, Iced Cream. 

It was fun to get a chance to read from his book. He couldn't be there, because being true to his credo that he is "The best dishwasher in the world," he was washing dishes. 

Overall, I really think it was a great event to promote Rockford's literary presence, and almsot all of the people I would have wanted to be there showed up. 

After my heart surgery in 2013 I knew I wanted to promote the work of other Rockford poets and writers. Perhaps the hardest part of the process has been the name of the series. Everything here has the Rock River in it, but nonetheless, I have lived on that river my entire life, so I just added my book series to the pile of things that have the now completely unoriginal name. Three books later I'm really looking forward to the next three books. I'd still like to see a little more sunshine from the local press and civic-minded organizations that complain all the time that peope have a negative image of Rockford, yet when I try to export our best writers to a national audience they are of no help. How are we supposed to change a national perception if we don't promote the people and organizations that are doing good things in this community?

Despite all that, I didn't start doing this for any other reason than to just celebrate the talented local writers we have in Rockford. I'll continue to do it if the local audience comes around or not. I'm really happy about the next couple of books we have coming up, and after a short break I can't wait to jump back in and get them out there. 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Birth of Forensic Foraging. Work By William C. Crawford

Forensic Foraging Embraces Minimalist Throwback Techniques To Unlock An Evolving Photographic Genre
essay by William C. Crawford and co-author Jim Provencher
The trite, trivial and mundane are often dismissed by today’s technology driven photographers. Images shot insitu can unlock the beauty and intrinsic value hidden in most everyday things. Thus, an old fractured glass window found on a wrecked desert shack might better be presented as a compelling image.
Such a transformational presentation can be achieved by applying basic photographic techniques: framing, lighting, coloration, saturation, contrast, etc. This precise application of seminal tenets can often transform the mundane into a pleasing lump of eye candy. This process forms the essence of Forensic Foraging.
Photographers today possess a plethora of powerful technical tools. High resolution sensors, potent post processing software, and cameras with such jacked up processors that they could, in a pinch, support the governmental operations of a small city. Many camera images today all but surpass the human capacities of the brain and eye to fully appreciate their miraculous clarity and resolution.
Photographs now often look far better than the real thing. Some forward thinking literary journals frequently publishing digital images are formally distinguishing between heavily embellished computer images and more traditional photographs in their submission guidelines. In a word, this is because photography, in some of its contemporary applications, may have both lost touch with and even surpassed reality.
We don’t denigrate the vast vibrant sea of present day images. However, we do strongly embrace the plodding, minimalist techniques that made our medium a success in the first place. Rather than advancing the now routinely spectacular work produced by powerful technology, we prefer to shoot everyday images relying on carefully crafted seminal techniques.
Forensic photography evolved to record and to help analyze crime scene evidence. Forensic Foraging borrows from these precise sifting techniques. We ply the world of the trite, trivial, and mundane in a plodding, systematic fashion. We record everything encountered in a structured series of images. Then, upon careful review, some of these photos are publicly presented in our specialized format.
Sometimes this process yields striking images by mere coincidence. More often, mundane shots are elevated to reveal a bit of beauty and hidden substance found in many everyday things. Our aim is to tease out unseen value which then spurs the viewer to consider our image in an expanded fashion. We don’t consider this process to be creating art. Indeed, we think of ourselves not as artists but rather as itinerate shooters with a distinct, discerning eye for the world around us.
The photographic DNA of Walker Evans, Robert Frank, and Saul Leiter permeates the pedigree of Forensic Foraging. However, Stephen Shore’s early volumes, American Surfaces and Uncommon Places serve as the primary influences on our present day work. Shore demonstrated that the mundane delivered in color could attract a wide audience. His work is always actively simmering in our subconscious when we shoot.
Jim’s strong declaration to “get out there and extensively shoot your surroundings” holds true to the primary theme of Shore’s early works which showcase thousands of travel snapshots that could have been taken almost anywhere.
Shore’s deadpan, banal images of motel rooms, faded lampshades, battered armchairs, and dinner food on Formica table tops hint at some deeper human narrative. His strong, astutely frozen moments helped back then to open up the color medium as a powerful new photographic tool.
The trademark redundancy of Shore’s  work pays homage to the usage of serial artistic forms which are also an integral aspect of Forensic Foraging. The “forage” with its methodical searching and sifting for subjects often employs the use of an endless array of serial forms. Our genre requires dedicated moving about in the photographer’s immediate world while shooting hundreds of serial forms in a distinctive throwback style. A sample of these carefully crafted images is then presented to represent pictorial highlights from the forage.
Australian ex-patriot (Italy) painter, Jeffrey Smart, has also suggested some of our primary techniques. His paintings of urban scenes exude the heavy, layered, color saturation which we employ in Forensic Foraging. This approach helps us to “hook” the viewer with exaggerated color, thickness and vivid polychrome.
Smart’s use of bright, colorful repetitive geometric shapes can also often be seen in our work. We frequently find these visual characteristics in naturally occurring situations such as street art and wrecked desert buildings. We capitalize on exaggerating texture and Golden Hour light to cause trite, mundane subjects to “jump out” to the viewer.
There are also obvious instances where Forensic Foraging, street photography, and photojournalism come together to form the nexus of our emerging approach. Street photography, of course, can also exist outside of the urban setting as does Forensic Foraging. Framing and timing are usually regarded as key ingredients of street photography. The decisive, poignant moment is extremely important here. Street photography aligns more closely with photojournalism because both usually attempt to convey a story.
Forensic  Foraging  sometimes coincidently relates a narrative, but its primary purpose is engaging the viewer with a compelling photo. Thereby, the image trumps any accompanying story line. Where they just happen to crop up, visual narratives can greatly complement Forensic Foraging. In the final analysis, our genre captures the essence of ordinary elements revealing both the universal and, at times, the extraordinary.
Forensic Foraging is still evolving as we continue to tediously shoot the world around us. We don’t seek to impede the inevitable advance of techno driven photography. We do, however, hope to give pause to the sometimes over prevalent notion that basic, seminal shooting techniques have been all but replaced by the near magical mantra of post processing alterations and computer clean up.
We hope that some photographers today might pause just long enough to consider our emerging parameters. We have growing confidence in our throwback, sifting approach. If it was good enough for Shore, Evans, and Frank, there exists the strong possibility that contemporary photographers might just relearn a bit from these techniques. After all, they helped to make our medium into a dazzling success in the first place! Like the skilled stone mason, we continue to add to our genre just like a wall—one stone or shot at a time.
-essay by William C. Crawford and Jim Provencher

Tucked just inside the Mexican border, we approached this derelict tool shed. As we moved in, we saw only a photographic shit pile.

But as we poked slowly about sifting the scene, an innocuous, fractured window sprung to life! We had a desert epiphany, and we began to turn the trite, trivial, and mundane into eye candy.

This fractured glass is product of the desert elements--sun, sand, wind, rain, crystal blue sky, and even vandalism. The desert thrives as an open air museum with the unique geography as the curator. Funk which helps to identify intrinsically hep, unconventional stuff is an integral element of Forensic Foraging.

Monochrome departs from Stephen Shore's early techniques. However, it adheres to the early precepts of forensic or crime scene photography, and it tracks the brilliant work of Walker Evans and Robert Frank. Forensic Foraging would not exist without these key influences.

We slowed way down and ferreted through Sierra Blanca. We found this sun mottled back wall in a wrecked mechanic's garage.

As we foraged through what was left in this trashed shell, we teased out brilliant art in this Museum Of No Where. In a chic NYC gallery with the right artist's name on it, this portrait would be worth millions. Sometimes our painfully plodding techniques coincidentally cough up the spectacular. The location is trite, trivial, and mundane; however, this work could easily hang in the Metropolitan Museum Of Art. This is the allure and genius of the Border which Jim appreciates better than most.

The State Cinema remains stately even in decay. We venerate history and decay, and using our throwback techniques, we lift it up for the viewer of our photographs.

Desert funk--The best damn cafe in Sierra Blanca. The food here eternally is cold!

We shot everything in serial images capturing the the essence of this near ghost town. We are forensic detectives obsessed with teasing out the beauty and substance of everything we encounter.

Dead pan, banal scenes form the crux of Shore's early works which could have been shot almost anywhere. This peeling, padlocked door caught our eye in pleasing winter Golden Light. Frozen in time, this image begs many compelling, unanswered questions. How many brown hands on the move gripped this rusty door knob hard up against the Mexican border? Why is this door on a wreck still so tightly locked? Or just just how  many coats of red paint conspired with the elements to produce this funky texture?

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Three Poems By Chase Spruiell

Chase Spruiell was born in Denton, Texas. He spent the majority of his life playing basketball throughout high school and college. He has a bachelor's degree in Digital Cinema and currently resides in Austin, Texas where he writes and plays music with his band, Free Kittens & Bread.

life tolerance

the clerk handed me 24 ounces
of life tolerance
in a brown paper bag.

he told me to have a good day
at 11:37 at night.

on my way out,
I held the door open
for another lost soul
and took his thanks
to heart. chances are,
he was on his way in
for what I was on my way
out with.

getting into my car,
I noticed a man sleeping
just to the left of the store.
slapped down on the pavement.
in rags. barely breathing.
tolerating life to the fullest.

and beyond all recognition
of placement and stature,
I couldn’t see the difference
between him and me.

 Chase Spruiell

this body of mine

it flags and

it’s numb and it’s

it burns and it

it stumbles and
it trembles

it can’t
keep up

and how
it disgruntles the
separations I would like
to keep intact

the mind
the body

it allows me to be
a person
not the person
I would like to be

it encroaches upon
the mind’s empty

upon the
mind’s dream’s
empty spotlight

the hero
never the

no, all it can do
is sit and wait
for death to
take it

until it burns out
and innocently

in the spotlight
of the moon
or sun

this stalemate body of mine

this pale-future
body of mine

what a shame it is
that I shall go down
with you

            things of beauty

I hear you singing in the shower.
            the way it eases the air
            in the room.

the hot water touching your skin
beating down upon your melody
blending into it
lifting it.

I lay in the bed with all of your fire
in the other room.

I’d like to sift through the sweet air
of your voice
and catch every note for my memories

but something there
something here
holds back my smile.

I don’t want you to forget this:
            how you don’t know
            this moment for me.

how beauty is behind the curtain.
how what twists me up inside
            are the things
            of beauty.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Poems By Robert Beveridge

Crisis of Expectoration

You thought the tide
would keep you close to shore
but hours later
you're still out. You shiver
as the sun sets, tread
water, look for some
sign of sand

Early Smoke Break

an ant crawls
from between the buttons
of my shirt, out the gap
between my ribs. A woman
carries palm fronds
(in August).
A rabbit
nibbles ivy, seizes,
falls, shudders for a while
before death. I can feel
ants scorched by smoke
from the cigarette between
my fingers.

Fourteenth Century

The Inquisitor
touches the torch
to tallow-soaked logs

tied to the stake
is a rosebush

stripped of their thorns
the roses catch tongues
of flame, caress them
into painful erection

cry sap-tears as
they are consumed

ask a twice-blind god
to punish their sins

and forgive their miseries

Tiny Drawing By Jenny Mathews 12.13.2010

Jack's Bar
the ashes snow
down onto the lemon slice
the lime in my drink
goes cold with the thought
I have seen many worlds,
the wino thinks to himself
many worlds of glass and salt
royalty of dogs and inbred hamsters.
On the rooftops a gun
goes off, a boy's chest
sprouts flowers. He
quotes Baudelaire as he dies.
The gunman, faceless,
ejects his weapon
ejaculates horror
at the boy's words

the gun lands in the wino's lap

Momyou for Men
face sticky fertile earth creature
bask in the rays of this dissection table
take in a few Picassos and think you know art
you glorify stakes
and whisper nonobscene words
in the ears of those
you call your mojo
du stinkst du sau!
du stinkst du sau!
benihara fuckmamma
and relax eyeless
Buy some codependency books
if they make you feel good
seven waves and will
lullabies Orpheus
make you puke
Father Ubu man of the incestuous cloth
You need the change of scenery.
Ice your collar
and feather the windows
mow the dog
and polish the couch.
You won't do a fucking thing
incestuous priestmomma
facesticky earthmomma begcreature
lapsestake fencepost sau

Pieces of Eight
big balloons of brains
called out to earthenware

and you, peasant
thought it the whisper
of the wind!
What do you know about
the way balloons drink?
Maybe if you try to join
in their drunken song
you'll start to understand

The Return of the Ocelot

Mauling the mutilated
ape, the ocelot
thought it better to say

“March off, but first
let me get my mention
in Playboy.”