Editor John Ebersole has been causing a stir by publishing many poems directly to the Philadelphia Review of Books blog – with a political slant. As part of this project, I submitted a piece, about the Baltimore riots and police brutality, that was published. This has been an interesting and unique experience to watch unfold, and to see everyone’s responses. Many thanks to John for giving this moment a voice, and pulling no punches. You can read my poem here: Guilt.
The new issue of Arsenic Lobster is out, which contains two of my poems. Many thanks go to Susan Yount for allowing me to be a part of this phenomenal issue. There are so many talented folks in there that I feel quite lucky just to be in the room. If you want to read my poems, go here to get to the first one, and click “next” at the bottom to see the second one. I recommend reading the whole issue. You won’t be disappointed.
I extend my thanks to Black Heart Magazine for sharing two more of my poems this week. This is my third publication with them. It’s truly an honor to have continued support like that from an editorial team. They run an outstanding journal, and I’m thrilled they would include my work. Thank you to Danielle White and Laura Roberts. You can find the poems here. Let me know what you think!
Bud Smith taps into the magic in his poetry collection Everything Neon. I was held captive by his voice, a compelling weaver of contemporary narrative poetry that resonates on nearly every page. There is a passion for life to be found here, and profound moments that shine through like white flashes of lightning in the windows. Bud doesn’t have a pretentious bone in his vocabulary. Whether he is in love, missing his love, or finding new love in his surroundings, you will want to see through his eyes for a while.
There are themes that run through the work that make it a cohesive package. Repeated again and again are things that become neon, elements of ordinary life like magazines left on a radiator, the familiar birds or a moon that scrapes the tops of buildings, finding a parking space or losing the car keys, listening to vinyl records, etc. The best are the moments of clarity that seem to pop out of nowhere in surprising fashion, like when a girl at a laundromat suddenly says, “the secret to life is soap.” Or “society is full of too many people / who never built their own roller coaster.” Some of my favorite poems in the collection are the ones that read like quickly jotted notes or to do lists, with interesting vignettes under each heading.
There’s lots to find and admire in this work, and lots you will want to return to and linger over, to appreciate the subtlety and depth, which runs as deep as any silver river or ocean that you may or may not live beside. It’s accessible poetry, humble and real poetry, coming from a true place that few manage to get to in their writing or their art. Whether you are a lover of poetry, or someone just getting your feet wet in the world of verse, you could do much worse than this book, but I don’t know if you could do much better. This collection will stick with you, and haunt your thoughts. The true test is will it make you want to write your own words, and for me, it’s already germinating, and that’s all you could ask from any writer – inspire me. Thanks for sticking your fingers in my skull and giving my brain a good shake.
The children are not sleeping.
It is not nap time.
No red pillows
between their heads and the ground.
The children are not dreaming.
Crying for mothers
or fathers, to flip on the closet light,
to pull hanging clothes aside.
The children are not playing.
The sticks are just sticks,
as their hands are just hands.
No one laughs.
The children are not breathing.
The last prayer
passed their lips
like smoke that refuses to rise.
I have two new poems published with Lyre Lyre for their Back to the Future issue. One, “Thank God,” was originally published by Boston Poetry Magazine, so many thanks to them for allowing the reprint. The other piece is a favorite of mine that I had been trying to get published for many months now. I owe much gratitude to Jillian Brall and Greg Crosby for this opportunity, and I hope you will take the time to check out my work. Let me know if anything resonates with you!
The Ofi Press has been gracious enough to share two of my poems in their latest issue. I am thrilled to be a part of it, and I hope you enjoy these pieces. Very warm thanks to Jack Little for taking a risk on my work. Leave me a comment if you like the poems!
Five of my poems have been made available, with audio, at The Poetry Storehouse, for remix and video projects. Many thanks to Nic Sebastian for letting me take part in this awesome and unique opportunity. I think you’ll find my reading of “Noir, or imitating Tom Waits” quite humorous.
I entered Cultured Vultures “Poem of the Week” contest last week. My poem “Six months without sex” placed second, with first place going to Jennifer Hudgens. You can find the poem here. Thanks to the editors and the publication for the opportunity. I have also shared the piece below, as the site shares it center justified without stanza breaks. It appears here as intended.
Six months without sex
You start finding the cheating bones
in your own body. They’re shaped
like cochlear shells, spirals built
on the Fibonacci sequence,
made to fit under the ribs like spurs
so every breath hurts
until the heart is numb as a tree trunk,
though we know now that plants too feel pain.
Memory becomes an internet browsing history,
persistently erased with sleep and routine,
a sound of ice creaking in temperature change.
Someone’s always working late,
always crawling into bed with a smell like smoke
on their skin, in their hair, like they’ve roasted
on a spit spinning in someone else’s loins.
It’s a paranoia of losing what’s known,
the familiarity of touch and sound
that builds itself into a nest of bed springs
and lost earrings. You tiptoe around it,
as if it’s a sleeping lion with blood on its teeth,
when it’s only a hummingbird of wants,
grown too heavy to hum, sad eyes you refuse to meet.
It’s awkward, relearning how to fly,
how to kiss your wife’s face,
how to wake up with her scent
on your hands, pelvis bruised
from breaking the ice
formed around your wings.
When DEATH comes to claim a writer
~ for Terry Pratchett
In the leaves, someone plays a fugue,
the Writer asks them to stop, it’s distracting
from a scene in which a wizard
pulls an ocean out of his throat.
But the music continues to swell,
drowning out his thoughts
until the ocean goes slipshod,
spilling off the page,
and Death appears saying, “SEE,
I TOLD YOU THIS DAY WOULD COME.”
The Writer laughs, “Look at this water,
it’s ruining my notebooks,
the memoirs of my life reduced
to soggy wafers of smeared ink!
How funny, I’m drowning in words.”
The ocean spews forth in waves,
his home now a gulf
riddled with furniture and floating books,
swollen like fish in the sun. He smiles
and grabs a couch cushion.
“WORRY NOT, YOUR WORDS
WILL LIVE ON WITHOUT YOU,
YOUR NAME WILL BE SPOKEN
FOR GENERATIONS TO COME.”
“I’ve done it then, I’ve found the secret
to eternal life. But why does it feel
like the opposite? And where is my hat?”
Water pours from the windows
like faucets or exploding eyes,
the lights get wet and flicker and fade,
soon the waters grow still, still rising,
pushing the Writer and Death
within inches of the ceiling,
pulled by an unnameable tide.
The Writer says, “I just thought,
I would have more time.”
“THE THING ABOUT TIME
IS IT DOESN’T EXIST,
TAKE MY HAND AND I’LL SHOW YOU.”
But he hesitates, arms floundering
in the deep darkness, splashing.
Until his hand happens across
something familiar and folded,
drifting in the current like a forgotten wish.
The characters that have gathered
let go of the breath they were holding.
He pulls the dripping hat onto his head
and says, “Okay, I’m ready.”