john bennett | sometimes you feel so all alone

10 12 2011

Charles Bukowski | Photo by Herb Ritts

POETRY DISPATCH No. 360 | December 10, 2011

John Bennett

Sometimes You Feel So All Alone

I’d like to address the court. I’d like to address the hung jury. I’d like to address the envelope in the best penmanship possible. I’d like to dress up like a Lilliput and go traipsing thru the streets of Chicago. I’d like to dabble in redress to ease my distress. I’d like to respond to the warrant. I’d like to warrant your love. I’d like to live in a warren and watch the world pass by.

I wish I could stop tap dancing and snapping my fingers. I wish I could take off this grease paint. I wish I could lay down and die. No, seriously, how bad could it be? Except I wonder how long my brain will continue to churn after my heart has stopped. I wonder if they’ll be unkind to my body.

I’m partial to a funeral pyre pushed out to sea. Or just lay me down in the leaves in some deep forest dressed in everyday clothes. I don’t need a service where people show up who’ve stopped thinking about me years ago. Let’s not make a lie of it on the cusp of my last breath.

Sometimes you feel so all alone it just feels right.

Goodbye, Charles Bukowski.

john bennett | the silent treatment

16 09 2011

POETRY DISPATCH No.352 | September 16, 2011

The Silent Treatment
John Bennett

Sitting around
over his
print shop
on upper Green
40 years ago
after Bukowski’s
City Lights
with Ferlinghetti
Rip Torn &
a host of
someone said
you’re the
only one
done it &
I said
no one’s
done it
or we
still be
trying to
do it &
Ferlinghetti said
the Beats
did it.

The Beats?
I said.
But then,
you’re Ferlinghetti
aren’t you.

The room
got very
still &
down into
his beer
cradled on
his great
of gut
& said
Now you’ve
done it

stared at
me with
ice blue
that said
going to
silence you.

Which they
never did.

John Bennett

Battle Scars

John Bennett

30 new poems.

All 125 books signed by the author. Twenty-five of the books come with a signed watercolor by Henry Denander.

Mini-chapbook format, in wraps.

Cover art by Henry Denander.

Please click here… if you are interested in buying this book.

norbert blei | a packet from henry denander | kamini press

29 01 2011

PoetryDispatch No. 341 | January 28, 2011


Norbert Blei

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

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

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


72nd Birthday

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

–John Bennett


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


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



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

–Samuel Charters


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


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

–Ronald Baatz


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

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

–Ronald Baatz, BIRD EFFORT

john bennett | the black blood of dinosaurs

25 05 2010

PoetryDispatch No. 321 | May 25, 2010


Editor’s Note: There is so much anger in me over the oil spill in the Gulf I can’t stand to hear or read another word about it. I know I am not alone trying to deal with this rage.

In a few weeks I will be teaching my annual Writing Workshop at The Clearing, here in Ellison Bay, Wisconsin where I have not so much ‘taught’ as presented my sense of the writer’s life for over thirty years. The theme of this year’s workshop is “The Writer and the Bigger Picture.” Major study includes: Carolyn Forche’, Nadine Gordimer, Tim O’Brien. I suspect you know where I am headed with this theme.

I prefaced my description of the course this year with a quote from Pablo Neruda: “From the Inca to the Indian, from the Aztec to the contemporary Mexican peasant, our homeland America has magnificent mountains, rivers, deserts and mines rich in minerals. Yet the inhabitants of this generous land live in great poverty. What then should be the poet’s duty?” (Italics mine).

John Bennett has always known precisely what the poet’s duty is in both poetry and prose. His brilliant ‘shards’ (a new collection of these gems recently released, DRIVE BY ) are evidence enough. So too the poem below, (a likely candidate for class study) where, with a single image, John skillfully raises the mundane, preachy aspect of the “poetry of politics,” turning anger into art. —Norbert Blei

The Black Blood of Dinosaurs

John Bennett

Two memorial
services in
one day after
mowing half
the lawn, a
20-minute nap
that turned into
three hours,
sitting on
the hill
drinking coffee
with darkness
coming on
while 2,000
miles south the
Gulf of
fills with
the black blood
of dinosaurs.

Both John’s new novel, Children of the Sun & Earth and Drive By are now available by credit card from the Hcolom Press web page by clicking here…

john bennett | one book

5 01 2010

PoetryDispatch No. 307 | January 5, 2010


John Bennett

Poetry Dispatch begins the year 2010 with a new series that will run periodically in the continued hope of advancing good writing, good writers, good books with as much www exposure I can attract from my corner of the world. Good but too often obscure, little known, little read, misunderstood, somewhat forgotten writers and their work. As opposed to the fashionable professionals heralded on national talk shows, USA TODAY bestsellers lists, their books bountifully displayed in discount bookstores, or boldly beckoning weary travelers to throw down their charge card and partake of some forgettable airport terminal-reading for a glossy-colored hardback at $25 a pop or more.

I have a number of seasoned writers in mind, writers with a significant history of publication, many of whom I have never met, know only through their work; writers I will be asking to introduce themselves through only one book of theirs.

Perhaps a book they feel best describes what their life-work is all about. Or a book they felt never received the attention it deserved. Or one that is a particular favorite of the author’s.

Still another possibility is one that many writers experience. An acquaintance…a complete stranger approaches: “So you’re a writer? Tell me a book of yours I should read.”norbert blei

ONE BOOK—-by John Bennett

“Which of your books do you think I should read?”

A question that when asked fills me with despair. Frustration. Cynicism, anger and sarcasm. A string of negative emotions. Why? It has to do with how much of my existence is tied up in my writing (by this point, nearly all of it) and how little of the person asking the question (a lifetime of experience tells me) is likely to be tied up in what the writing is tied up in.

It’s all been leading somewhere, I see now, at the age of 71, with a lifetime of writing behind me. I’m obviously not in it for the money. I’m not in it for the fame. I’m in it for the recognition, not of me but of the writing; of the direction the writing is going in, of the destination it leans toward. I didn’t plan it this way, but this is how it turned out. I seem to be at something’s disposal.

Important to know: When I went into the first grade, I could read and write; when I came out the other end, I couldn’t. By the time I was ten I was writing poetry in secret.

Over the years I’ve written many stories, novels and poems, most of it fitting within some already established framework. Some of it was highly praised. None of it sold well.

My writing made a quantum leap in the mid 1990s. I began writing Shards. Shards are defined not by the form they take (most “look like” prose poems) but by the energy that drives them. There was a psychic eruption in my mind and spirit that left acquired skills and native talent intact but shattered societally-imposed constraints and assumptions, subliminal or in-your-face. The outpouring of writing this phenomenon brought about was (and still is) almost more than I can keep up with.

There’ve been numerous collections of Shards published. I recommend any of them over anything I wrote earlier, if you’re curious about where my writing is at and where it’s heading. But if I had to recommend one book, I’d choose Tire Grabbers, a novel driven by Shard energy, an allegory for the times we live in and the times we’re moving into, a prophecy with children as its heroes, fueled by cynicism and anger, humor and hope–a little something for anyone with the desire to shatter chains. Tire Grabbers has been embraced by a passionate sub-culture of young people, mostly artists and musicians and high-school dropouts. It has not sold well.

Tire Grabbers is available from Hcolom Press (Hick-o-lum) at either by direct mail or credit card.


(December 2009) Author: John Bennett, 605 E. 5th Ave. Ellensburg, WA 98926 | phone: (509) 962-8471 | e-mail: | web page:


  • Drive By (shards) Lummox Press
  • Children of the Sun & Earth (novel) Hcolom Press


  • Cobras & Butterflies (shards) Mystery Island Press, 2008
  • Firestorm (shards) Pudding House Press, 2008
  • One Round Robin (shards) Green Panda Press, 2008
  • Tire Grabbers (novel) Hcolom Press, 2006
  • The Theory of Creation (shards) Vagabond Press, 2005
  • War All the Time (shards) Vagabond Press, 2005
  • The Birth of Road Rage (shards) Vagabond Press, 2005
  • Cheyenne of the Mind (shards) dPress, 2004
  • The Stardust Machine (shards) Mt. Aukum Press, 2002
  • We Don’t Need Your Stinking Badges (shards) Butcher’s Block Press, 2001
  • Fire in the Hole (shards) Argonne House Press, 2001
  • Greatest Hits (poetry) Pudding House Press, 2001.
  • Betrayal’s Like That (prose/poetry) Vagabond Press, 2000
  • Domestic Violence (shards) FourSep Publications, 1998.
  • The Moth Eaters (stories) Angelflesh Press, 1998.
  • Rodeo Town (personality profiles) Vagabond Press, 1997.
  • Karmic Four-Star Buckaroo (stories/essays/shards), Pudding House, 1997.
  • Bodo (novel) Smith Publishers, NYC, 1995. Quartet Books, London, 1996 Mata Publishers, Prague, 1997 (Czech translation)
  • The Names We Go By (novella & stories), December Press, 1993.
  • Flying to Cambodia (novella) Smith Publishers, 1991.
  • The New World Order (stories) Smith Publishers, 1991.
  • Crime of the Century (social commentary) Second Coming Press, 1986.
  • Survival Song, (journal–three volumes) Vagabond Press, 1986.
  • Tripping in America (travel journal) Vagabond Press, 1984.
  • The White Papers (essays –four volumes) Vagabond Press–1982/83.
  • Crazy Girl on the Bus (poems) Vagabond Press, 1979.
  • Whiplash on the Couch (stories/poems) Duck Down Press, 1979.
  • The Adventures of Achilles Jones (novel) Thorp Springs Press, 1979.
  • La-La Poems Ghost Dance Press, 1977.
  • The Party to End All Parties (stories) Fault Press, 1976.
  • The Night of the Great Butcher (stories) December Press, 1976.
  • Anarchistic Murmurs from a High Mountain Valley (prose poems) Vagabond Press, 1975.


  • Rug Burn (CD) (shards) Vagabond Press, 1999


  • Adam in the Year One (surreal Vietnam drama) Vagabond Productions, 1987


  • The Living Underground, Whitston Pub. Co., NYC, 1973.
  • Wormwood Review #55, Special Section, Stockton, CA, 1974.
  • Poets West, Perivale Press, Van Nuys, CA, 1975.
  • The Pushcart Prize Anthology, Pushcart Press, Wainscott, NY, 1976.
  • The Vagabond Anthology – Best of the first decade of Vagabond magazine, Vagabond Press, 1978.
  • Editor’s Choice Anthology – Best of the Small Press, 1965-77, The Spirit That Moves Us Press, Iowa City, IA, 1980.
  • Fiction/82, Paycock Press, Washington, DC, 1982.
  • Green Isle in the Sea (small-press personality profiles), December Press, Chicago, 1986.
  • Stiffest of the Corpse – Best of the Exquisite Corpse, Baton Rouge, LA, 1989.
  • The Party Train (prose poem anthology), New Rivers Press, Minneapolis, MN, 1994.
  • The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, Thunder’s Mouth Press, NYC, 1999.


  • Iron Country Anthology (Washington state writing competition — 1st prize in fiction), Copper Canyon Press, Port Townsend, WA, 1978.
  • The William Wantling Award (for Crime of the Century ), Second Coming Press, San Francisco, 1987.
  • The Darrell Bob Houston Award Tom Robins, committee chair (for the essay “De-euphemizing the Sixties,” Clinton Street Quarterly, Portland/Seattle, 1988).
  • Drue Heinz Literary Prize (finalist), University of Pittsburgh Press, 1991

john bennett | two for a day

13 08 2008

Poetry Dispatch No. 249 | August 12, 2008

Two for a Day

from John Bennett

Note from the Editor:

Put a little John Bennett in your life.
You will be better for it. Live it.

Books at: Hcolompress

Norbert Blei

High-energy Young Ladies

John Bennett

Make sense of a sunbeam, calculate a wave, calibrate a wolf howl, draw lines in the dust, go grim with a rifle defending the motherland, fatherland, land on your feet and start running, the hounds bay and the fox hunt is on.

Back and forth between the particular and the germane like a praying mantis lost in a butcher shop, cowboys and cowgirls riding side-saddle into the arena, gladiators peering through slits in spiked helmets, who do you love?
Is it me, could it possibly be after all these years of false starts, heaps of gutted crab piled high in the corner?

I’ve got things gone amiss in life, a granddaughter gone astray, a lover with her arms crossed in a pout, a trick knee, heart, pony, imagination off in the ditch, tangled in carnage and confetti.

I wake with a whistle, slap my head and hop to it, I’ve still got a trick up my sleeve. Secrets intact I skip out the door into my rat-trap conveyance and with lights blinking red all around me roar off. “Java, java, java,” I think, my life reduced to a coffee bean. “Plunk your magic twanger,” I think, my vocabulary shrouded in code, ancient kid shows on the radio displacing Nietzsche and Kant.

Hi-ho, hi-ho, off we go with the first cigarette of the day burning bright like a blowtorch between my once kissable lips.

The first rig at the drive-thru, the glass slides back and there they are, three blond, dark and tall beauties, a wild crazy perfection that drops death to its knees.

“Ho!” I sing out and trigger delight in them. They all three dance and glide to the window like goldfish in a pond, as if we’d just met in a dream.

“What’ll it be?” says the tall one, and “Yes indeed!” I say. “What will it be!” Then we’re lost for words as the universe sings all around us.

I drive off with a 20-oz. drip and pass a row of pink, red and white hollyhocks along an old wooden fence just as the sun rises up over the ridge. I burst out in song and for a moment have the world by the tail.

A Day in the Life

John Bennett

Here’s a message from god. A glimpse behind the curtain. A tour guide through the seven dancing veils. An eye opener, a spine tingler, a twist of lemon. This can’t go on forever. The ink runs out, the paper turns brittle and bursts into flame, the alarm malfunctions.

This morning three laughing girls at a coffee-house drive-up set my heart dancing and launched me into the day. Twenty minutes ago and thirteen hours later there was only one girl left at the window, and she’d been there all day. I’d just woken up from a nap full of bad dreams and she was pulling a triple shift. The dance was gone from our eyes. We exchanged courtesies at the end of the transaction and I drove off.

Now I’m sitting in my car on the overlook at the top of this hill, last light in the sky, an entire lifetime lived in a day.