Tuesday, June 20, 2017

F Is For Failure

Filure is the last poem I finished for Atrocious Poems A To Z, and I got it finished mere days before the deadline we had set for ourselves. The poem itself had certain prerequisites because it had to contain and have explainable paradoxes in it to comply with the standard I was trying to adhere to that the poems needed to have something teachable about them. All except dog poop and urination, of course. 

Taking the lazy way out, I of course tried to retrofit a poem about failure I had written at Jack's Cub Scout meeting a couple of weeks previous, but Jenny wasn't buying it, so she looked up a list of paradoxes and saw a quote by George Carlin which she incorporated into the poem. I wanted to quote the line from George Carlin and use it as an example of paradox, but was overruled. 

Illustration by Jenny Mathews poem by Thomas L. Vaultonburg
This is the only place on the internet I'll post F. Then I think I'll alternate the rest of the letters I haven't done among the other blogs I edit or use as personal blogs.

The book is finished and for sale at Amazon, as well as the gift shop of the Rockford Art Museum. It's also on the walls of the Rockford Art Museum in its entirety as part of an exhibit titled Bitterseet Observations. The rest of the family is on vacation in Rhinelander, and I'm sitting here drinking sparkly water and eating grapes. 

I have decided I will only use the Times font forever after in all my writings. 

If anyone reading this is willing to write a review on Amazon I'll send you the PDF of the book. Just let me know, poets of America. One way you can really help me out.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Poetry By Gale Acuff On Father's Day 2017

Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, Ohio Journal, Descant, Poem, Adirondack Review, Coe Review, Worcester Review, Maryland Poetry Review, Arkansas Review, Florida Review, South Carolina Review, Carolina Quarterly, South Dakota Review, Sequential Art Narrative in Education, and many other journals, and has authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse Press, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse, 2006), and The Story of My Lives (BrickHouse, 2008). Gale has also taught university English in the US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank.

Reading Lips

                                 Matthew 22:30

Above the roof and therefore the ceiling
of course is the air but somewhere up there
in the topmost layer, the topmost of
the air that is is Heaven and in Sun
-day School our teacher tells us, Miss Hooker's
her name, that if we want to go there one
day and not just go but live there and not
just live there but dwell there then we children
had best believe that Jesus is the Son
of God and was crucified for our sins
and not just our sins but our manifold
sins, and then that way when we're dead we'll be
in one of the mansions in Heaven, one
per customer you might say, children and
grownups, too, Miss Hooker's 25 so
she qualifies if she's taken away
before her natural time, whatever that
is, old age I guess, and I'm only 10
but what works for her will work for me and
then when we're both dead we'll be the same age
--that's not in the Bible and Miss Hooker
didn't say it, it just came to me, like
a revelation, The Revelation
to Gale you might say, it came to me just
about when we were finishing class by
reciting the Lord's Prayer a second
time, right before the Amen we holler
all of us together like one great big

voice--maybe it's the voice of God Himself
--so after class I hung back and then helped
Miss Hooker get her gear together, her
Bible and the hymnals and our crayons
and paper and then I walked her to her
International Harvester pickup
and then told her about my revelation
and told her that if I never marry
on Earth, maybe because I'll be dead, I'll
marry in Heaven and she'll be the wife
to my husband and the other way a
-round and she laughed but not mockingly
and leaned over to kiss me on my fore
-head and I guess it kissed her back, that's what
I call a miracle but anyway
after she pulled away from the suction
and straightened up again and looked at me
as if it was too bad that I'm so young
I said, I'm sorry that you're so old, and
then we held hands or maybe it was shook
them, sometimes it's hard to tell when your soul,
your immortal soul, is on the line. Then
Miss Hooker unlocked her door and climbed in
while I looked away because after all
women can be funny about rear ends,
at least their own, and then she shut the door,
which sort of startled me to looking up
to see her face shining down on me or
maybe it was just too much makeup in
the morning sun and she mouthed Goodbye
and I'll see you next Sunday and I aped her
and then she drove off. Who needs ears to hear?

                                           --Gale Acuff

Poet Gale Acuff


Other children have picked through all the good
comic books here at the Rex-All Drug Store
and I'm left standing like a spinner rack
that isn't being spun. Still, I spin it

clockwise and counterclockwise again and
again but it always stops at nothing
I want. Most of the superheroes are
gone--what's left is Archie and those funny
animals and a few war comics. But

I want heroes in spandex though I don't
know that word too well--tights, I guess I mean.
In masks and capes--the heroes, not the tights.
Gloves and boots and utility belts and
custom cars and secret identities
and hideouts. It's 1965 and

I've just finished supper with my parents,
next door, at the cafeteria, where
they gave me my allowance--a quarter,
which will buy two comic books at twelve cents
each, and a penny for tax, but I can't
find even one magazine I like, and
we don't drive into town too often--once 
a month, if I'm lucky, and it's too far
to walk. I'm not leaving emptyhanded,
though--it just isn't fair. And I believe

in justice, because this is what heroes
ought to be fighting for, a little boy
in Marietta, Georgia, and littler
because his folks are teachers and so his
family's poor. He sleeps in the attic
and there's no central heating in the house
and no air conditioning in summers.

His parents teach those snotty kids whose folks
have good jobs at Lockheed and the Air Force
base in Smyrna. And they have basements, and
TVs in their bedrooms, and hi-fi's, and
brick houses and garages and carports
and more than just one car to park in there
and new shoes whenever they want them and
meat for supper everyday. And dogs
--not for supper, I mean, but to love them.
Cats. Tropical fish. Hamsters and gerbils.

So they're evil, but in a way beyond
me. Or I'm jealous because they have more
but I know how they treat their comic books
--they fold the pages back, dog-ear them, or
throw them away when they're finished. I save
mine, in a box in my closet. God loves

us all, I hear at church. I fall asleep
in the pew sometimes and dream of money
but wake to the plate being passed around.
Death will make us equal in the end--he's
my hero, I guess, although he scares me.
And when we all start off new in Heaven

maybe they'll be my friends, even tell me
Gee whiz, it wasn't our fault that our folks
made more money than yours, or that we had Spyder
bikes and Beatle boots and color TVs
and German Shepherds and slot-car racetracks 
--won't you please forgive us? I'll make them wait
and I can't get too upset because God
might deport me, but if His back is turned

I'll give it to them good: You laughed at me
and made fun of my clothes and our house and
our car and the lunches Mother packed me
in brown bags when you had cool lunchboxes
and how long it took me to learn to tie
my shoes and blow bubblegum and catch balls.
And I'd tell them all to go we-know-where
but it's too late now and serves us all right.

Before I leave the rack I spin it one
last time. I'll never see it stop, even
slow. I'm going to find my parents, who
are looking for sales at Rich's, next door.
I hate to say it but they're my heroes.
I'd tell them but I don't want to scare them.

                                            --Gale Acuff

Family Drama

Miss Hooker's my Sunday School teacher but
almost every night she's my wife, I mean
in my dreams. Last night we were on the couch
watching TV. I had my arm around
my dog on my right side and her on my
left, so she was closest to my heart. That's
love. Bonanza we watched, those Cartwright boys,
Adam, Hoss, and Little Joe, and father
Ben, of course, and when we have kids they'll be
sons and we'll name 'em for them, unless they're
daughters, which are as good though we'll need new
names but Miss Hooker's smart, she'll think of some.
I don't know where babies come from yet but
she's a good teacher and can demonstrate
and I'll take careful notes and use them 'til
I've got the procedure memorized. Then
I'll throw the notes away. I think it helps

to sleep in the same room, like my folks do,
and in the same bed, and to close the door,
then lock it, and put something over the key
-hole so nobody can see in. It must
be dark, too, even nighttime, and you'd be
surprised at how much just one eye can take
in squinting when the whole house is dark, not
that I ever really tried. I take it
back--lying's a sin but to be fair I
couldn't see anything. But my ears did
and it was laughter, Mother giggling or
maybe it was Father. It's a good thing
I didn't ask them about that next day
or I'd have given myself away. I
guess I just want to know where I come from.
If I'm going to marry Miss Hooker

I need to know. Some dreams you can't trust so
if I dream again tonight we're married
and she shows me how to make a baby
how will I know she's not putting me on?
Then sooner or later you fall asleep
after you shake hands and kiss each other's
lips, all four of them, not once or twice
but half a million times is my best guess.
Then I guess the sun comes up and you wake
to the sound of someone crying and that's
the beginning of your family. Funny
how it commences with crying. Maybe
death ends it that way, too--I know even
less about that but I will in time but
first I have to be old enough to be
too old to live and that's only if I
don't die some other way before then, get
run over or struck by lightning or choke

on a corn dog at the county fair. When
Bonanza's over we ride off to bed,
my dog and Miss Hooker and I. I get
as far as turning out the bedroom light
and trying to find our bed in the darkness
but before I can shake her hand good night
let alone kiss her it's morning and she's
gone and just my dog lying beside me.
It's like we're separated once a day,
I mean Miss Hooker and me. It hurts but
at least it isn't real, only the ache.
One day I'll be old enough to have both.
Then I'll be grown up. I'll drive and shave, too,
and have a deep voice and a lot of hair
in goofy places. I hope she won't laugh.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Poetry By E. Martin Pedersen

E. Martin Pedersen, a San Franciscan, has lived in eastern Sicily for over 35 years. He teaches English at the local university. His poetry has appeared in Verse-Virtual, Frigg, Literary Yard, Strong Verse, Ink Sweat & Tears, and others. Martin is a 2011 alum of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. 

A Shit Dream

Walking towards the clubhouse on a golf course 
searching for a shit pile left by Phil's dog like a lost contact 
(we don't golf)
mistaking small brown leaves for it then
I see it on the last green
one fresh turd then Phil
kneels down, picks it up and throws it at 
at Desmond, who catches the biggest part and throws it back
I'm in the middle but get out fast
P. continues playing shit catch with D.
Nevil is singularly amused 
crying golfballs
I'm disgusted
get my pack from the car
the white Panda
a muttered salute
leave the rabble 
leave for good
get a bus on the main road.

Do I meet a nice girl on the bus
Or find a bag of money?
Anything's possible
In a shit dream.

Sir Philip Sidney's Last Drink

Sir Philip Sidney (30 November 1554 – 17 October 1586) was an English poet, courtier, scholar, and soldier, who is remembered as one of the most prominent figures of the Elizabethan age. 
He joined Sir John Norris in the Battle of Zutphen, fighting for the Protestant cause against the Spanish. During the battle, he was shot in the thigh and died of gangrene 26 days later, at the age of 31. As he lay dying, Sidney composed a song to be sung by his deathbed. According to the story, while lying wounded he gave his water to another wounded soldier, saying, "Thy necessity is yet greater than mine". This became possibly the most famous story about Sir Phillip, intended to illustrate his noble and gallant character. (source: Wikipedia)

Hey where you going with that, you bloody bastard
Bring that cup of water over here, I'm dying of thirst, arsehole
"Sir Philip, I'm so very sorry, 
but I brought this water for the wounded soldier next to you,
you see, I hate to be indiscreet but, shall we say,
he can receive more benefit."
You fucking wanker, gimme that water
gimmegimmegimmegimme god-fucking-dammit
I hate you, damn your bloody eyes
You dare piss on the last wish of a dying hero, a poet, a nobleman, a saint
Last words hey?
Hey you, shitface!
'Thy necessity is yet greater than mine.'

The Subversive Nature

He’s taking a hose to her as we speak.

Hasn’t everyone magic protection? I do.
I have symbols, scabbards, shrews
Swords and shields and spirals and skulls
Superstitions and salamanders
Satyrs, scarabs, shadows, sibyls, spades, storks,
The scythe of you-know-who
And the Sphinx
Sapphire – 
Only powerful witches can harm me.

He’s swinging his bat toward her at this moment.

Of all these people getting off planes
Not one is right
I’ve been at this airport now for, I don’t know, weeks
Eating tunafish sandwiches, drinking Dr. Pepper®
The very person I need refuses to come through
That gate, that self-sliding door
Unless she/he came through when I wasn’t looking (physiological necessities galore)
Damn, what if that happened?
They have plenty of footage of me on the surveillance cameras
Yet they let me stay and wait longer still
Maybe the watchers and I are waiting together
For the right one. I will.

Now she’s begging him to spank her harder, 
Because she knows all about cause and effect.

One meal to another, chew chew
One cigarette and then another
The same conversation over and over
Same words, same gestures, same expression
My wife died, cry cry (better you than me, buddy)
Money filling and emptying the marble tide pools
Doing it pretty much the same way as always
Will the car start when I turn the key?
Will I sleep tonight, wake up tomorrow
Be myself
Be good
Do I care?
Is it already
Too late?

We Didn’t Know

Captain Kangaroo
molested children (not on his show, they didn't allow kids there with good reason)
Mr. Greenjeans too
after beating them with snakes
shot down lines of kids with a plastic machine gun
and cut em open, and ate their guts
the blood and gore ran out of their noses
and down their necks and throats
Howdy Doody
Captain Satellite
Miss Nancy
Mrs. Ward Cleaver (June)
Dr. Suess
Uncle Walt
Misterogers (Mister Ogre)
(would you be mine?
(could you be mine?
(would you be my . . . )
: disgusting perverts all.
We know that now.

none of what I just said is true
it’s not my fault
we never saw a naked woman
back in the 1960’s
we didn’t know the parts or how they fit together
how babies swam downstream
the world had not pornographized yet
and when we played Crack the Whip or Smear the Queer
we weren’t clear on that either
we hadn’t invented sex-ed

So much still to be discovered and named,
so much.

Winner’s Rules

If that means sucking the boss’s cock, so be it
Those are the rules around here
To get that shiny future, a prerequisite
To support my children who I love dear
(Trenton 6, Brick 8)
My ex I hate

People have this romantic view
Or just study till they drop, for what? To not live?
I always liked having fun too
And fuck all that other shit
Life is too short to look back
On what who did to whom in the sack

-- a virtue –

Ambition means swimming with sharks
And becoming a shark, okay?
Even eating other sharks’ hearts
To stay afloat, moving all day
Survivor, thriver
I'm aliver

Keep the party going, the feeding twister
I play just like everyone else, I’m in
We’re all in the same game, Sisters
I just play to win
By cheating, yeah, why not?
Everyone does, so fucking what?

From K. Marx to K-Mart

"The vocation of poet in America has about it a delicious absurdity.  The paradox itself is enough to turn the veriest clod into a poet.  Our poetry should be as crude, vulgar, thick-skinned, lumpish, arrogant, immature, and sado-masochistic as these States themselves." Karl Shapiro 

From Reading to Dreading to De-Reading to Dribbling

Hey baby, wanna fuck?
Not your scrawny ass
Not your vienna sausage
Not your mother, sister, daughter, piano teacher.

From Cash, grass or ass: Nobody rides for free to Happiness is a tight pussy

black windows
on black chevy vans
shit hanging from the mirror
with a big yellow spread eagle painted on the back
and a postcard mountain scene painted on the side
of the sliding door

sunday at the lake
trout fishing in America
boone's farm cherry
hot dogs burning on the hibachi
whatever oak ridge boys for 150 yards
glove compartment full of rubbers
(if this van's a-rockin', don't bother knockin')

we studied so hard to become something
something less cruel
some of us turning anger into suicide
to avoid the war
the self-control, the instinct
will win out
outside the K-Mart
where our friends
live in their cars
on garbage and dope
unable to read
Richard Brautigan.

Poetry By Madman Philosopher James D. Casey IV

A self proclaimed "Madman Philosopher," James D. Casey IV is a published author of three volumes of poetry. Mr. Casey's writings have been published in print and online several times as well. His work has been featured in places like Triadæ Magazine, Pink Litter, In Between Hangovers, Indiana Voice Journal, Poetry Breakfast, Beatnik Cowboy, Scarlet Leaf Review, Horror Sleaze Trash, Whispers, Your One Phone Call, I am not a Silent Poet, Tuck Magazine, Outlaw Poetry, PoeTree, Story Mirror, Stanzaic Stylings, Spillwords, Micropoetry, Leaves of Ink, Poetry Life & Times, and Realistic Poetry International. You can find links to his books, social network profiles, and other projects on his website by clicking here:  http://louisianakingcasey.wixsite.com/big-skull-poetry

​"Intently Sedated"​

Starless skies
Producing numberless

Dangerously unseen
When taunting the black kettle
Goes wrong

Hunger strike raids
Burn villages to the ground

Pinnacles fall
To pieces
Amongst old cherry wine

Intently sedated
In controversial
Above the fruited

They came here to forget
Land of the
Utopian facade
Drunk on codeine blues
Only to remember

©James Dennis Casey IV


Poet James D. Casey IV

"Littered With Feathers"

Last night 
In dreamland
I was an owl 
Made of stone

Standing in a parallel world
Censored with sacred shadows
I observed mysterious travelers

They spun diaphanous memoirs
Of fertile green phenomenons and
Life or Death decisions

I could see the words
Lilt down their chins
Falling into the dirt

Like lush embryos
They sprouted lustful creatures
That would slink away 
Into the shadows

Sneaking about
Pleasantly deformed and
Seemingly sempiternal
They dug up ancient bones
Ground them to powder and
Made sticks of magic chalk

Surrounding me I saw their eyes
Hollow and ethereal
Speaking in a foreign tongue
With the mysterious travelers
That spawned them

They all began to chant a spell
And pass around the sticks of chalk
Each placing specific symbols
Upon my stony surface

I felt a fire
As my body 
Began to crack
Falling away

Suddenly I burst forth
Able to spread my wings
But as soon as I attempted flight
I awoke in my bed

Strangest part of it all
The window was open
And my room 
Littered with feathers

©James Dennis Casey IV


"Unbridled Birds"

My skull feels twisted
Backward behind the skin
Brain aquiver and 
Mulling over the night's 
Astral events

Odd details
Only seen 
With a magnifying glass
Inside a green 
Zinc coffin
Called sleep

I remember
So many roads
Old ones whispering
Young ones crying
Streets of imagination
Upon the bed
Of longing
Strange and familiar faces
Beyond the void

I remember
A cosmic tribe
Ancient feathers
From galactic owls
Braided into their hair
Dancing for rain
On a distant planet
Diamonds fall from the heavens
Like water there

I remember
Dolorous mountains
Making beautiful music
Serenading rivers of 
Raging scintillation
Asking myself why
Such magnificence
Is surrounded by an air
Of heavy sadness

I remember
Lachrymal tincture
From a toothy moon
Vomiting lunar brilliance
Telling me secrets
I did not want to hear
While I
Tied to an Amethyst cross
Could not escape

With a flash of light
And a clap of thunder
I suddenly awoke 
To a violent midday storm
Stardust in my dried saliva
Moon sand on my feet

Glad to be home
But anticipating my next departure
Come nightfall my eyes
Will become unbridled birds
Traveling to worlds unseen
In the light of day

©James Dennis Casey IV


"Dead Rose Water"

Rain cascading
In eloquent lace

Gently caressing cheeks

Like dead rose water

Giving one
The Alpha
And Omega

Chaos in order
Dying world
Whatever it takes
Into the flames

Even if that means

Wild animals
Born lost
With distorted truths
Into their graves

©James Dennis Casey IV

Poetry By C Derick Varn

C Derick Varn is a poet, teacher, and theorist.  He
currently edits for Former People and is a reviewer for the Hong Kong
Review of books. Originally from Georgia, he currently abides in Utah,
but his nomadic tendencies have found him living in Cairo, Egypt,
various places inSouth Korea and Northern Mexico.  He lives with his
wife, and a bunch of books, and writes at night. He has published in
Danse Macabre, Writing Disorder,  JMWW,  Clutching at Straws, Xenith,
Piriene’s Fountain, Nebo, Yes, Poetry!, and many other venues.

An Accidental Field of Relations

If I asked you to come as far as the shores

of my blood, then dive-in, swimming like

platelets caught in capillary currents:

our bodies are who we are, yet their

grow untrimmed, turning against ourselves,

metastasizing cells and lungs deflating.

Walking the river, I see mud collapse

from the banks, turning the river brown,

for a second the sun catches the surface

and it the whole scene turns into blood

and fire.  I will cue in the lines in the supermarket,

holding back tears, palming a diet soda,

two safety razors, two tins of aspirin. Nothing

seems to matter but nebulous love: stripping

down of the rough layers, like peeled sugar

cane, the wires of the peeler sometimes

snagging a finger, cleaning the skin off into

the woody pulp in the bottom floor. Sweetness

comes with a price paid in the blood, the stars

will splash into the arteries, we are star debris

but so is all the flotsam in the river, in the veins,

in the corpse we call love, scars showing our

healing, and, in field of accidental relations: we

will saw each other in half, suture ourselves,

waiting for the moment to give it one more time

with feeling, one more stitch, one more kiss.

After The Laughter

then there was the command line

and stones replaced broken tongues,

but ugly ducklings remained ducks,

swans remained aggressive,

dross remained the droll remains

of burnt forests, I remained walking

in hatred with the abyss beneath

my feet, smoke still rose up from

funerals pyres, the poet was still

oft interrupted, love still oft injured,

hemp rope still frayed after tying

too many lovers, the pure souls

remain uncannily vicious, icebergs

still sank ships, the Parthian Empire

remained dust, Kalashnikovs are still

cheap on the black market, women

still accidentally bled on my cotton

sheets, the bandage still pulls

the scabs with it, you can't hear the

screams, but you'll still know they're

three. There is still darkness

that ebbs away but does not

die even after a few jokes.

Another Love Letter Smeared on Tissue Paper

-for T.

Idols hasten bruised knees:

eat the supper of self.  A woman

turns in her bed; a man bleeds

on a pillow, carving out the space

for another—the scalpel

whittled into decorative

bone.  She smiles as she

takes him in, piece

by piece.  He is already supped

on her, leaving her cold and lithe.

They write each new in a mangled

language to sung in moans.

The line is thin.  The habit of hope

which saints peddle in marriage

beds, mostly feeds the bed bugs.

Bowing to take each other in,

like matins, like gore glutted teeth.

The fingers will divorce the hands,

the breast will bind the mouth.

Like them, I have an taste for

ambiguity, your teeth

honed for stranger sighs,

we both hunger for blood

and bruises, immutable.