norbert blei | the prose poem: alice d’alessio, al degenova, ralph murre, susan o’leary

17 10 2011

Photo by Al DeGenova

POETRY DISPATCH No. 356 | October 17, 2011


THE PROSE POEM:

Alice D’Alessio, Al DeGenova, Ralph Murre, Susan O’Leary

Editor’s Note: I presented a weekend writing workshop, “the poetry of prose” on Washington Island almost two weeks ago. I see prose poetry not so much as a strict form but more as a way to make a clunky prose line breathe, sometimes sing.

It was a good weekend of writing, discussion, reading…with great participants, as always–mostly my tried and true, solid bunch of Clearing advanced writing students, with solid credentials of publishing and/or book credits behind them.

I learn a lot from them, whether it’s my annual Clearing class (beginning and advanced) or this new, autumn-weekend writing workshop we established on the Island a year ago–thanks to Karen Yancey, who handles the registration details, keeps the party going on the Island; Dick and Mary Jo Purinton, who provide the perfect setting for Island living and learning; and Jude Genereaux, who facilitates communications, easing much of the burden from my back, especially last minute glitches. My thanks again to all of them.

Without going into definitions galore of prose poetry or class instructions, assignments etc., I promised the class a lot of work–and a little exposure on “Poetry Dispatch,” if things went well. So I thought I would share with readers three of the prose poems the students themselves selected (by secret ballot) from their reading on Sunday morning, when each writer read a favorite, best ‘polished-to-perfection’ prose poem of his or her own from class assignments just the day before.

Everyone quietly listened to everyone else, then secretly noted on a piece of paper (folded and passed on to me) the three favorites. The three favorites became four because of a tie.

Here they are, presented alphabetically by author. Enjoy, enjoy. –Norbert Blei

The Left Hand Speaks

by Alice D’Alessio

Perfect, save for one flawed knuckle, beautifully seamed and creased, I am content to be what I am, the left hand, the second hand, the neglected hand. For I have a secret.

It is true that my neatly fitting skin is turning blotchy now, stretching into ridges and crevices. Yet it does its job so well, wrapping tight the underworkings, the critical bone and tendon, the rivers, streams and estuaries of blood and other juices that keep the fingers active and lubricated. It protects from invasion of those enemies that would enter and do great harm.

After seven decades of flexing and gripping, I am capable and strong, my five digits line up like soldiers for review, from short to tall, and back to short, to my sturdy thumb, altered a bit at the base with a lovely triangular scar. How well they stand at attention.

It’s true my partner, the right hand, gets all the glory. It is the one extended to shake the hands it meets, it picks up the pen and writes, brushes teeth, waves, plays a major role in buttoning, tying, stirring. But behold – on keyboards we are equal! And furthermore, there were glory days, now gone, when I was supreme. When we teased that violin into music, the runs and trills, the haunting melodies – it was I and I alone who found the notes, knew exactly where to press the string – never flat nor sharp – to make the purest sound. All the other one did was saw that bow across and back, across and back. I made the music, created the sweetness of tone with my vibrato. I, the genius twin, blessed with the gift of perfect touch. The other one, purely utilitarian. I rest my case.

At the Ancient Pond

by Albert DeGenova

Drunk with what? With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you please. But get drunk – Charles Baudelaire

The hanging Spanish moss looks one-hundred years younger today, I’ve drained the ancient pond through a red and white striped straw and licked the salt from the rim, the frog sings plop and I’m tokin’ on his flip flopping feet, on mind altering harmonic resonance, the whole band is in tune – the cool cats, the birds, the wind, the dirty swamp, cars speeding by pulling boat trailers, the hammering on the roof, the knife as it slices the bread, the dentist’s drill, the kid next door practicing guitar. Wake up!… Plop goes the blue-orange sunrise. Plop goes the weasel. What is the sound of stagnant water, water filling the bathtub or poured from a bucket, water as it gulps air swirling down the toilet? What is the sound of Eve’s first orgasm echoing through the universe? Of one hand clapping?
Plop! Plop! Plop!

Stitches in Time

by Ralph Murre

It, too, is called a thimble; this heavy galvanized fitting I splice into three-strand hawser on deck. Outbound tug Maria. My old man at the helm.

But the notion of “thimble” takes me back to that other sort, silvery there on the third finger of her arthritic hand. Grandma Maria. Seems it’s always been there, protecting that fingertip from the little stabs she knew were coming, leaving the rest of her bare to the unforeseen wounds that would come. There was the thimble as she pushed and pulled needle and thread, stitch on stitch, as depression flour sacks became dresses, as a spare blanket became a suit. Stitch on stitch, still, as my christening gown was shaped. White on white, as a tiny row of sailing boats was embroidered upon it. Rising infant to be bestowed beneath crosses of cathedral’s spires on the high hill. And her father before her, sewing stitch on stitch, white on white, patching sails blown out ‘round The Horn, stitch on everlasting stitch, triangle needle and leather palm, from Roaring Forties to Tropic Trades, and more than once, stitching a shroud: a benediction, a blessing. Fallen sailor to be bestowed beneath crosses of brigantine’s rig on the high sea. Aroma of pine tar, beeswax, mutton tallow. A very old man, long at anchor, calls out “Daughter, bring me rum.” She looks up from her sewing and agrees, “A thimbleful, Father,” as an ocean of time slides by, sewn with a meridian of stitches.

The faithful Maria rises to meet the oncoming swell. Settles. Rises again.

HEAD IN HAND

by Susan O’Leary

The hands come to the face to hold, to hold, as a rounded comfort to sustain. And in that comfort, the balm of touch. The hands become the Pieta of self, embracing with such tenderness, such desire to undo crucifixion, to bring solace to the impossible, to physically counsel grief.

With their sure shield, knowledge and reality can be shut out. At least in this moment. At least as, echoing their curve, the shoulders bend forward, the neck bows, and with eyes closed, words unspoken, breath halted, the body forms its own safe cave of retreat.

They have arrived too late. Or like Mary have had to remain and unwillingly witness sorrow. But their paired presence signals we are not alone. The earth spinning, they are the space that holds spinning in its orbit.

Photo by Mary Jo Purinton





norbert blei | the new yorker

14 10 2011

POETRY DISPATCH No. 355 | October 14, 2011

THE NEW YORKER

By
Norbert Blei

Let us now praise (again)…The New Yorker…which I have done more than a few times on my many websites. And here I go again. I can’t imagine a serious writer in America living and writing without all the nourishment this magazine provides. How it affects the creative juices. What joy I find, first quickly perusing it, cover to cover, late Saturday night into early Sunday morning. There are some issues so chock full of good articles, stories, poems, criticism, I sometimes lose sleep entirely, devouring such issues, beginning before midnight Saturday, and finally having read the entire issue by three or four Sunday morning. Usually a smile on my face. My spirit uplifted, spent. But a burning desire in my heart to get to the coop, get to work. Get to my own too-many-works-in-progress. But yes, I should get a little sleep lest I find myself in a zombie state all afternoon.

But The New Yorker does this to me, can do it to you, if you’re in that same or similar zone I inhabit. I have been reading the magazine since the 1960’s. Subscribing to it for at least twenty-five years. Burdening myself with back copies for more years than I can remember or reasons I can explain…the attraction/satisfaction of picking up an old copy from a stack, looking at the ads …the way we were then, what the cars looked like then, what we wore, what stories the ads alone revealed, not to mention coming upon an early Updike short story, or Ann Beattie, Salinger, Cheever, Shirley Jackson, William Maxwell, E.B. White, or Isaac Bashevis Singer.

As for New Yorker covers? (which precipitated this rousing rant)…pure poetry. Genius.

I can’t wait to see what The New Yorker has put on the cover each week. I smile. I nod, turn my head back and forth in a son-of-a-gun/look-at-that gesture. “Beautiful” I whisper to myself, as I carry the gift from my small post office in town and head to a restaurant or coffeehouse. Sometimes I show it to my favorite waitresses to get their reaction. Sometimes it depresses me that they (much younger than I) ‘don’t get it.’ Lack of education, or curiosity or culture or something. Then I begin to wonder what they hell they are teaching in schools these days? How do you create students with an appetite for learning their whole lives? Will future generations ever find this magazine and love it as much as I do? Or will The New Yorker die like so many/too many other things (classical music, opera, art museums, real books, etc.) in this stupid culture we’re living in?

Take this week’s cover for instance. Genius. The younger generation should get this cover. They should recognize the guy in black with glasses, facing the “gate-keeper and what he’s checking out, holding in his hands.

Then again, they may not recognize the gatekeeper. Or get it. What a shame. What a loss.

What a loss The New Yorker conveys so brilliantly in a simple cover, no words.





Alice D’Alessio, Susan Godwin, Jerome J. Jagielski, Joan Wiese Johannes, Jackie Langetieg, Mariann Ritzer | WISCONSIN POETS’ CALENDAR 2012

1 10 2011

POETRY DISPATCH No.353 | October 1, 2011

WISCONSIN POETS’ CALENDAR 2012
Alice D’Alessio, Susan Godwin, Jerome J. Jagielski, Joan Wiese Johannes, Jackie Langetieg, Mariann Ritzer

Editor’s Note: I am pleased to say that The Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar for 2012 continues to accomplish its mission for poets and poetry here on the home-front, annually showcasing some of our most respected poets (books and publications to their credit) as well as introducing newcomers to its pages,

I continue to commend the long history of the Calendar for this open-minded approach, as well as the co-editors of the publication this year, Jeffrey Johannes and Jean Wiese Johannes, for their superb efforts in putting together another handsome volume featuring the work of over two hundred Wisconsin poets, not to mention the beautiful cover art and watercolor illustrations of William Karberg of Port Edwards.

Here’s to everyone responsible for the project, including, business manager Michael Farmer, and the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets who published this work.

Though I have read and enjoyed all the poets, regretfully (time, space, etc.) I present a mere six to give some idea of the range and talent to be found here. No other explanation as to why these six poems other than the way a poem calls attention to itself and settles for good somewhere in the reader’s psyche. No other measure of personal choice except perhaps a smile, a heartbeat, a related memory …something in the poem whispering ’yes’ in those late-night hours I consign to reading, when a particular poem won’t let me go. The next night could very well be some different poems entirely. — Norbert Blei

What I Learned From the Important Poet

That it’s not enough
to let the Poem out for a quick pee
you’ve got to take it
for a long walk
on a frost-filmed morning
let it tangle its leash around your legs
yanking for attention
…….sniffing for lagniappe.

Or perhaps
you should consider
turning it loose to roam
through city alleys
on a sultry night
to acquaint itself with abandon
with those who wrap themselves
in newspaper blankets
clutching their shoes and bottles
let it nuzzle the pizza crusts
needles condoms.

If there’s still no leap or whimper
drag it if you can
across the highway
to a gnarly clump of oak.
Encourage it to snuffle
leftover nature coax it
to remember
it came from the wild from weeds and rot
birdsong and blossom. Let it wallow
dig deep.

Warn it about the traffic. Let it find
its own way home.

—Alice D’Alessio

Dreaming in the Midst of a Madison Winter

I’d like to be that man who visits celebrities
in their homes, except the houses I enter
must be flawed as well as beautiful. And their beauty
hold herb gardens of thyme and rosemary
and the spice of cinnamon, ginger and cloves.

The sun will blaze through a skylight
to a faded red terrazzo floor; I’ll lie limp
on the fainting couch and dream of muscular Italian men
who sit at my side,
stroking my toes and humming Neapolitan songs.

I found one today—in a Mound Street co-op
filled with cats, paintings and a musk of mystery.
I stayed the afternoon, drinking lemon grass tea
and sharing sensual looks with the cats

then drove home on Regent Street satisfied with my life
behind the wheel of my ’89 Oldsmobile
both of us growing more obsolete each day.

–Jackie Langetieg

Oak Hill Cemetery

………..Comfortably they walk
………………..in graceful steps
……………….a slow movement
………...among the community
……….of hallowed tombstones
a congregation of wild turkeys

–Jerome J. Jagielski

Things To Do Around Port Washington

an homage to Gary Snyder

Peel the fog
Count and climb the steps to St. Mary’s Church
Smell smoked fish; eat smoked fish
Collect dead alewives on the beach
Count children in Catholic families
Find your brothers’ graves, your father’s grave
Listen for the Angelus bells at noon and six o’clock
Wash your hair in Lake Michigan
Imitate the one o’clock whistle
Find Mile Rock
Dig your toes in Sauk Creek mud
Swing from vines on Moore Road
Watch old Dula mumble on her porch
Find God in stained-glass windows in St. Mary’s Church
Slap through Lake Michigan waves at midnight

–Mariann Ritzer

early autumn sunlight
streams through birch leaves
honey on my toast

–Susan Godwin

Come Closer

Heavy air wanders
around the corner of the barn
bends into evening
and staggers through the peonies

to meet me under the porch light
where dizzy moths flit
and midges swarm
around the naked bulb.

Tonight I wonder why
I once thought love darkens
too soon in June
when days are too long

and nights too eagerly late,
when stems grow spindly
weak from
too much too fast too soon.

A night-blooming blossom
luminous as the moon
reminds me of something
I should have done.

–Joan Wiese Johannes

To Order Calendars:

Michael Farmer, Calendar Business Manager
P.O. Box 555
Baileys Harbor, WI 54202

Phone: 920.839.2191

mfarmer1876@gmail.com
wfop.org/calendar.html





norbert blei | winter book

9 07 2011

To clear the air or the screen a little: a little history.

I was invited by the Unitarian Universalist Fellowhip of Door County last spring to give a talk/reading in celebration of National Poetry Month…in honor of Emily Dickinson. I cautioned that I was not the person to talk about Emily since I felt uncomfortable with her poetry. But I was immediately advised that it was not about Emily, but about poetry…about my sense of poetry…about… Well, take it from there.

And I did–on April 13th. Which got me talking about poetry and prose. The combination. How poetic prose can lift words off the page.

I spoke/read for about 45 minutes…felt ‘unhappy’ about the sound system; was unaware that a film was being made (that would eventually appear on YouTube); was unhappy with my delivery at the beginning (out of rhythm, out of synch), unhappy about the weak sound of my voice; felt I had/was losing it since my operation; felt I was still locked somewhere between decline and recuperation, might never be who I once was, do what I once did…and why the hell was I boring all these good people tonight anyway? There must be something better on TV.

The filmmaker seems to have broken down the talk into five separate videos on certain subject areas i discussed. I don’t know if it’s all here/there or not…if there are any transitions. Just how it all or IF it all comes together. If any of it makes sense. And I won’t know because I never watch myself, review any films or videos or programs.

Some people find this hard to believe. But I find it hard to believe some people.

In any event, my memory of that night, that talk, centers around the poetry of prose. Just how it works. Writers in the past I particularly admired, (Chicago’s Nelson Algren for one. Sandburg. Dylan Thomas…) writers I studied, because they knew how to make ordinary words sing, raise talk to written art…and and so on. I also read from some of my work to show what I learned–so far. I read from the prologue to CHI TOWN. And excerpts from WINTER BOOK. And???? And then I felt tired…running out of time…and probably said: “That’s it.”

And it was. I had an enjoyable time. Saw a number of old, good friends. Made a few new ones. And went home. promising to read myself to sleep with a little more Dylan Thomas and some Sandburg.

Above, again, for the record, what I’ve been talking about. What appears on YouTube.

And right here, for now, thanks to so many of you for your emails and comments on my “15 minutes of world fame.” My time is up. –Norbert Blei





norbert blei | finding a novel in a newspaper

23 03 2011

NOTES from the UNDERGROUND No. 212 | March 22, 2011

Finding a Novel in a Newspaper

by
Norbert Blei

So it’s late night. I pick up the New York Times, read and glance over page one.

Maybe I follow an intriguing story’s jump to another page, another section. Maybe I doggedly pursue today’s paper page by page, section by section. Maybe I’m in a fragmented frame of mind (or the news of the day suddenly puts me there), allowing a bold heading, a dramatic photograph, perhaps an appealing font capture my attention and lead me into and beyond whatever a story has to tell.

Some days or nights everything becomes such a jumble I may momentarily pause an wonder: am I reading a newspaper or a work of fiction? Is this the news or a novel assembling itself in my head? Should I laugh? Should I cry? Should I remember as a child on my grandmother’s farm, the warm eggs I once held in my hand?

Case in point. The New York Times, Sunday, March 13, 2011: All three excerpts below, “What I Wore”, “Quotation of the Day”, and “The Rural Life”, appearing in the same issue.

WHAT I WORE

by
Amanda Hearst

DECISIONS, DECISIONS

Amanda Hearst 27, is an associate market editor and a blogger at Marie Claire magazine, one o the publications of the Hears Corporation, which was founded by her great-grandfather, William Randolph Hearst. She lives in the West Village and is active on the boards of several charities. —CHLOE MALLE

THURSDAY, MARCH 3

I was still kind of groggy from being in Europe for the shows, so I woke up trying to figure out a way to incorporate flats into my outfit. I just can’t deal with heels anymore. So I put on black Chanel boots over ribbed DKNY tights and then a blue and white batik-print Zara tulip skirt with an ivory short-sleeved turtleneck sweater from Michael Kors. After a day of working on my blog, I headed to a Core Fusion class at Exhale, for which I wore black Lululemon leggings with a white American Apparel tank top. I love these tanks because they have a built-in bra, so I wear them to work out in, under sweaters. I even ended up wearing a black one later that day under this sheer black Valentino top that I borrowed. I paired the top with black Yigal Azrouel shorts, tights and Prada booties, and headed uptown to the Gagosian Gallery’s opening of “Malevich and the American Legacy.” The only problem is that there was so much traffic that I missed the show! So I turned around and headed to dinner at Palma with a few friends. Nobody commented on my outfit. Should I have worn Zara again?

FRIDAY, MARCH 4

I woke up and threw on a Christian Dior lace top with leather Vena Cava shorts, Wolford tights and Prada booties. As I was pulling on my boots, the shirt ripped on the sleeve’s hem! I tried to see if I could get away with the rip, but finally decided that I couldn’t. So I kept the booties and tights and put on a Catherine Malandrino dress with an Hermes belt and a black, leather ruffled YSL purse. The belt was a gift from my ex-boyfriend and is probably the best gift I have ever received, period.

After work I headed to the Gagosian Gallery and then met a friend for a drink at the Carlyle Hotel. One drink led to three, so we decided to go out for a bit, dinner and then the Boom Boom Room.

SATURDAY, MARCH 5

I wore my usual weekend uniform: leggings, T-shirt, oversize sweater. It’s all about comfort on the weekends. I read “Shanta-ram” for a bit (an incredible book about the Mumbai underworld), took my Chiweenie Finn (he’s half Chihuahua, half Dachshund) to Washington Square Park and then watched “Paranormal Activity.” I proceeded to have nightmares all night in my Ralph Lauren flannel button-down.

SUNDAY, MARCH 6

Rebecca Beeson leggings, my boyfriend’s JDC striped top and a Bodkin gray knit sweater. Because of the rain, I threw on a Patagonia puffer and Finn wore his red parka by Canine Styles. We looked like drowned rats by the time we got back from our walk. We stayed in the house for the rest of the day, officially the laziest weekend ever.

MONDAY, MARCH 7

I’m a big fan of J. Crew. I usually buy outfits directly off the mannequins. The styling is just so good! So while I normally wouldn’t have given this blue-and-white checked Oxford shirt a second glance, when I saw it with a camel colored cardigan and green shorts, I bought the whole ensemble. I wore the blouse with a brown Ralph Lauren suede skirt, DKNY stockings and black Ralph Lauren knee-high boots. My goal getting dressed for work is to be as casual as possible while still looking professional, so I’m a big fan of J. Crew and Ralph Lauren for work wear. I’m not really a jeans person, so I wear a lot of shorts and skirts with tights in the winter. Today I wore DKNY stockings, but I usually buy my tights at Duane Reade because they’re $6 and they last a surprisingly long time.

TUESDAY, MARCH 8

I put on an Urban Outfitters brown and black patterned miniskirt with a black Calvin Klein shirt, Wolford tights and black Chanel knee-high boots. I added a necklace by my friend Prince Dimitri, a watch by Franck Muller and small Tiffany gold hoop earrings. I spent most of the day researching ideas for my blog, but squeezed in a coffee break at Le Pain Quotidien on West 58th Street with my friend Luigi Tadini. After work, I changed into a Topshop by Christopher Kane black dress with black beading on it and black Chanel booties. (I’m such a New Yorker — I wear black all the time!)

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 9

One of those mornings where I couldn’t decide what to wear. I tried on a YSL, cowl-neck top with black 7 for All Mankind jeans (nope), a Catherine Malandrino blue floral dress (still not working), and ended up in an off-white Ramblers Way T-shirt, a black and white Chanel tweed blazer, Rag and Bone jeans and purple Miu Miu flats. I went to a market appointment for Matt & Nat bags, a vegan accessories line that is super stylish. In the afternoon I met my mom at Doubles for coffee. She was, as usual, wearing Ralph Lauren.


~ Quotation of the Day ~

“I have no electricity, no water, no cell phone, no telephone. I have no idea what’s happening.”

–Chiyako Ito, a 72-year-old rice farmer whose farm was hit by Japan’s earthquake and tsunami

THE RURAL LIFE

by
Verlyn Klinkenborg

Marvel and Persistence

Again and again I’m struck by he persistence of objects. I go out to do the chores wearing a blue plaid wool coat. I have no idea how old it is, because it’s a hand-me-down, and yet every day it’s waiting on the hook. I fed the horses and reflect that Remedy, the retired cutting horse, is at least 31 years old, still sultanic in his majesty. The sun comes up, and here we all are every day—animate and inanimate—persisting together.

There’s nothing very surprising about it, and yet, I can’t help but keep marveling at it. The farm and everything in it seem wonderfully solid, and it all reports for duty, unbidden, every day. This is just a way of countering the other feeling I commonly have—that we’ve all been loaded aboard a planet streaking through time.

….The sunlight feels new and ancient, both. I put on my chore coat, slip on my muck boots and go out to the chicken house my dad and I built after 9/11…When I go out later, there will be something new and fresh, nine or 10 eggs still warm from the hens that laid them.

[from THE NEW YORK TIMES, March 13, 2011]





norbert blei | a packet from henry denander | kamini press

29 01 2011

PoetryDispatch No. 341 | January 28, 2011

A PACKET FROM HENRY DENANDER
KAMINI PRESS

by
Norbert Blei

This makes my day, something new in the mail from Henry’s extraordinary small press, Kamini Press. www.kaminipress.com

One notices immediately the care he takes in the tight packaging alone. The parcel (usually cardboard, sometimes paper) a minor work of art in itself, enhanced with beautiful Swedish stamps, his own unique rubber stamps (planes, jazz musicians, musical instruments, the KAMINI PRESS logo, etc.); the blue foreign label: PRIORITAIRE 1:a-klassbrev… All of it. Everything, a joy to behold. You’re almost afraid to open it, mess it up in any way. It’s so satisfying as it is.

Should I look to see what little beauty of a book he’s put together now? Wait till later…this afternoon? Maybe tonight…treat myself in the late hours? Save it for tomorrow…or the next time I need a particular lift, since I know whatever Kamini Press does will make my day, my night…make everything in my writing world worthwhile?

Like that time one night I opened a packet from Henry and held BIRD EFFORT by Ronald Baatz in my hand…read it once, twice…three times, four times, five times…God, how many times? Till I fell asleep with a warm feeling like good red wine in me, the poet’s words still murmuring in my mouth:

So much light
so much darkness—
the earth crying out
like a clarinet
left behind

O lord
let me
stay drunk somehow
without all this drinking
now and forever amen

Digging
the canary’s grave
she catches the reflection
of lovely orange feathers
in the spoon

The stars over the lake
so old and brittle looking—
I stop rowing, rest my back
and think of how soft
my ashes will be.

Henry Denander…a one-man band. A singular focus. A testament to just how good, conscientious, a little press publisher can be if he has the vision, passion, energy, direction to publish a book for someone that he, the publisher-writer, would want for himself. It all comes down to that. The secret to successful small press publishing not enough publishers grasp. Would I want my name on this book? Would I love the way it looks, feels? Would I be anxious to put it in the hands of friends and strangers with a bit of a glow on my face? Would it hold a reader’s attention cover to cover in design, content, form?

Instinct. Insight. Style. Aesthetics. Not to publish anybody or anything for whatever or no reason except to be considered a publisher…slap any old crappy art or photo on the cover that says nothing. Some books, poorly envisioned, you almost don’t want to touch, let alone open and try to read. Contrary to old beliefs, you can judge a book by its cover… especially a Kamini Press cover, usually graced by one of Henry’s throbbing little watercolors.

Once you finally invade the perfect packaging I described, once you find each book carefully wrapped and taped tightly in white paper, once you unfold the paper in your hands…and hold the little book (all of them about 4”x6”) it seems to come alive to one’s touch. And there you have it: from Henry in Sweden to wherever you are in the world…the book feels like a good handshake. Welcome. Thank you. How beautiful the cover. Now, what’s going on inside?

How to Make a Rainbow on a Rainy Day

Locate, in the overcast, some thread of
involvement with backlit sheets of crayoned
manila paper vacuum sealed to the yellow
eyes of an elementary school. Open up the
floodgates to the eccentricities of leaves; find
an alcove, an unused entrance, to lean in,
noting the widening concentric circles in
standing water on pavements commissioned
by raindrops. Take the coins out of your
pocket and throw them, one at a time,
into the fountains of Trevi made by the
intersecting arcs of traffic and rainfall; permit
silver spray to have its way with your face.
Wonder at the beaded pearlescence at the
sides of warm Styrofoam. Internalize
windshield wipers and the lift of umbrellas.
Without going overboard, initiate eye
contact, return the wave.

–Tom Kryss

[from SKETCH BOOK]

72nd Birthday

Sitting on
the hill at
sunrise with
my coffee &
cigarettes
thinking
fond thoughts
of all those who
hate my guts.

–John Bennett

[from BATTLE SCARS]

Two Torch Singers (excerpt)

In high school, when I was discovering
That music could be sexy,
There were two torch singers
(Besides Judy Garland, of course)
Whose albums I played until the vinyl wore thin
And the needles went blunt
I don’t know whether I was more riveted
By Julie London’s throaty rendition
Of “Cry Me a River”
Or by her incredible rocket-launcher, film-noir,
Tightly sweatered bust on the album cover,
Not to mention her wasp-cinctured waist.
But she was too much woman for me,
Even in my fantasies. Scary!

–Gerald Locklin

[from TWO TORCH SINGERS]

False Starts

The birds have
already begun
their morning song
and I haven’t
yet been to sleep
the night
a series of false
starts, like the
many journals
I’ve kept over
the years—
one after another
abandoned before
anything was
ever said.

–Glenn W. Cooper

[from SOME NATURAL THINGS]

Childhood

Something out of childhood –
orange streetcars on
Ellsworth Avenue,
and every fifteen minutes an
orange earthquake
rattling my unsteady bed.

–Samuel Charters

[from THE POET SEES HIS FAMILY SLEEPING]

last clarksville train

washing down aspirins
warm blue ribbon suds
damp gray first light
jerry lee’s cassettes silent
black terminal loneliness
yesterday wife saying
“things got to change’
squeeze the trigger
gain methodist salvation
promised better life

–t. kilgore splake

[from THE POET TREE]

Unwritten poems—
so many of them
hanging like bats
inside the darkness
of me

–Ronald Baatz

[from BIRD EFFORT]

Confession. I truly envy what Henry Denander is doing. This is the way I intended to go when I got into small press publishing back in 1995. Do the little book, the little work, and do it well. Make is beautiful to behold. Something to glow in the dark.

Then I reflected on all the new and old writers with bigger appetites seeking, needing pages and pages for larger works. Novelists, short story writers, poets with books of poems…essayists, experimental writers, artists, photographers. They needed to be honored as well. There was not enough attention paid them.

Lately, given all I’ve done so far, thirty-four books, given my present circumstances–age factor, health issues, financial circumstances, limited time to write my own stories and books–I see again the beauty and attraction of publishing the little gift, and may in time (“simplify, simplify…”) honor that first dream…find my way down that road of small, fluttering white pages, words enough to lift the spirit in short, deep breaths. –Norbert Blei

Finally
winter is losing its grip—
in my sleep
I hear the pond’s spine
cracking

–Ronald Baatz, BIRD EFFORT








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