Robert M. Zoschke | Norbert Blei’s writing quarters

7 07 2013

Norbert Blei's writing quarters - before

click the image above to enlarge…

Robert M. Zoschke | Norbert Blei's writing quarters

Robert M. Zoschke | Norbert Blei's writing quarters

Robert M. Zoschke | Norbert Blei's writing quarters

Please find the three photos of Norbert Blei’s writing quarters after Robert M. Zoschke and Norb’s son Chris Blei finally got it cleaned up. Please see Chris’s note to me as well. As Norb’s health seriously declined the past few years he spent less and less time in his beloved writing coop. During his final winter he wasn’t there much at all and the place became neglected and penetrated badly by mice. Imagine all the bare floor space and the one clear wall all covered hip-deep with stuff, that had to be sifted through with gloves and masks on…that was the cleanup. We were able to unearth several issues of literary magazines and journals from the Sixties and Seventies that Norb’s poetry and fiction appeared in that we were not aware of, and we have been able to amass a bibliography including all the unpublished manuscripts found.

Perhaps it would not surprise your loyal readers to learn that Norb was a saver, he didn’t throw anything away. As we cleaned, we found out that this included Norb saving everything left behind by his father, including his father’s old “stag” books that pre-dated Playboy et cetera. So we had some laughs along the way, and beautiful moments when we found such things as all the crayon cards and poems his children had done for him when they were little. While we were staggered to find some of the classic First Edition books of Modern American Literature that were damaged into poor condition or not even capable of being salvaged, due to mice nesting and mice droppings and years of not being protected…it was heartwarming to find his children’s cards, poems, drawings, and schoolwork protected and saved in mint condition…and in the end, that is as poignant a tribute to Norb as one can witness. — Robert M. Zoschke

Both Bridget and I are forever grateful for all the help you have given us.
Thank you Rob.

robert m. zoschke | breakfast of champions | happy holidaze

7 07 2010

Please click the image above to see a larger version of the book cover…

Poetry Dispatch No. 325 | July 7, 2010

Robert M. Zoschke

For full transparency here, I should note from the outset that Rob Zoschke is a writer-friend of mine, a personal friend, a Slavic rooted Chicago bro, a neighbor from the next town, Sister Bay, who still believes and practices the old fashioned school of writing: getting the work done furiously, religiously, putting it in an envelope with a self-addressed, stamped, return envelope, sending it off to a myriad of little mags in America that still believe in print publication…then waiting weeks, months, (maybe never) for more rejection than acceptance—“acceptance” usually acknowledged by some free copies of the little mag when it finally appears with your story or poem in it. Ah, a published writer.

Two of his recent acceptances can be found below. I don’t know and won’t dwell on rejections.

It’s the way-of-the-American-writer some of us followed. And many still do, the harder and harder it is now, though on-line publication adds a new dimension to getting one’s work and name out there, and anybody/almost everybody can/has self-published a book these days at a minimum of cost, risk and notoriety.

It’s a less rewarding, not so brave and increasingly strange new publishing world for writers as print gives way to screen and everybody’s doing it. Perhaps even time may not tell if it all mattered.

In 2007, Zoschke and the Southern poet Ron Whitehead, co-edited and published REFLECTIONS ON THE 50th Anniversary of JACK KEROUAC’S ON THE ROAD, Heavenly Books, Lexington, Kentucky, $25. I contributed a piece and about a dozen illustrations, mostly watercolors, for that book.

And in 2008, Rob Zoschke published a collection of prose and poetry titled, DOOR COUNTY BLUES, Heavenly Books, $15, for which I wrote the introduction, “New Kid on the Block.”

Kenny Gau and Rob Zoschke, both holding a copy of Door County Blues. Please click the image above to see a larger version of the book cover…

At one point in my intro, trying to get a handle on Zoschke for the new, unsuspecting reader, I state:

“You’re in for a treat and then some. Another Chicago writer guy’s WALK ON THE WILD SIDE of his own head, tapping the keys to his own beat—soft and hard, loud and still, fast and slow…tap-tap-tapping with a nod to tried and true voices of twilight American scriveners in motion…sounds and sensibilities of “The Beat” and beyond—some kickin’ Kerouac-like prose, bellowing Bukowski, lines peppered with fore and afterthought shot from the hip, hell-bent to tear a hole into things, destruct/construct—in true Hunteresque Thompson target fashion… Reload, Fire Again, just in case, did I miss anything?

I still stand by those words. –-Norbert Blei

breakfast of champions

by Robert M. Zoschke

chug fresh pot of coffee while hot
depending on tightness of morning lungs
smoke four to six Lucky Strikes between chugs
if gas is under $3.00 per gallon make long drive
to the produce stand for half a dozen oranges
if gas is over $3.00 per gallon make short drive
to the convenience store for half a dozen donuts
and take two vitamin C pills upon return

brew second pot of coffee if necessary
to release bowels kick start heart
and wash down oranges or donuts
then plug your lip with Skoal
imagine Jennifer Lopez’s succulent hips
with nothing but a hula hoop on them
as she puts every belly dancer to shame
while holding grapes over your parched mouth

imagine every lover who would have made
your life better their life better if only they
didn’t wisely catapult or foolishly fall to another
imagine all die wasted years along the way
imagine every asshole you worked for
when you slaved for their American Dream
imagine every creative kid full of budding magic
being pigeonholed into someone else’s dream

imagine whatever necessary to focus on
the only true value of whatever time left
belch orange pulp or hydrogenated oil
wipe your mouth on your sleeve then
sit down to chase the carpal tunnel dragon
like a tough ass son of a bitch club fighter
in the heat of his Rocky Balboa life moment
going the distance with your typewriter

[from TULE REVIEW, A Publication of the Sacramento Poetry Center, 2010]

Happy Holidaze, America

by Robert M. Zoschke

Happy Memorial Independence Thanksgiving Christmas
to the sullied trampled discarded relics
Everything kicked under and buried alive
Like old beat pages or American Folklore
Entombed in the forgotten bottom
Of a neglected used bookstore
Behind on ever increasing rent
Owed to purveyors of the New Millennium

Happy New Year from the lessening few
So increasingly successfully pleased
To vanquish our Old American Dream
Into vapid old beaten lost oblivion
As they keep on keep on keeping on
Their rapture of gluttony keeps on giving
Only to their putrid plundering selves
As they whittle away Middle America

Happy Holidaze from the House Shills
Who used to be our esteemed Free Press
From the callous Corporate Raiders
The sordid Stock Option Aficionados
The avaricious Oil Oligarchy Demigods
The malicious Manhattan Ad Execs
Working manicured hands of thievery
To the bone still covered by healthcare

Happy Holidaze from Uncle Fucking Sam
As he sticks another New America poke
Into the lost souls of adjustable rate mortgages
Without the old courtesy of a reach around
Without the condom of self preservation
Bend over and take it and take your soreness
To Dr. Corporate M.D. and pay with your last smidgeon
Of plastic credit as your HMO membership expires

Happy Holidaze from the needy Gas Companies
Putting a skiver or Holiday Cheer into New Winter
Find the old blanket your parents sat on at Woodstock
If not plucked apart to help build the Aids Quilt
For the heat spirits who died in painful vain
Before the Drug Companies figured out how to build
Weekend getaway condos and summer beach homes
On the profit of keeping such unlucky souls alive

Happy Holidaze from the Ignorant Geniuses
Who forget the very pages of their own history
Our history the history of the greatest nation
Built on the sweaty labor or manufacturing
Built by the honest hands of the working man
Who only asked for food clothes shelter and
Just enough left over to afford the gasoline
To drive the family into one of our national parks

Happy Holidaze from the Lampreys of Greed
Hording their burgeoning stacks of paper presidents
The NYSE Gladiators and NASDAQ Conquerors
Pimping the old Middle Class out on the street
With no other option but whoring ourselves for
Seven downtrodden bucks an hour if and only if
We can smile as we ask do you want to make that a
Combo for forty cents more instead of just the sandwich

Happy Holidaze from the malcontent Power Brokers
Blowing endless loads of spiteful seed into our lost souls
As they insatiably seek shuddering multiple orgasms
Only to be obtained by destroying old Middle America’s
Last glowing embers of strong brave free earnest hope
Yelping howling thundering orgasms they take from
Watching Middle America s boys die in far away sand l
To prop up their cut of inside deal earnings per share

Happy Holidaze from the slovenly Arm Chair Generals
Bowing to the Powers That Be with pitiful relish
As they keep their pistols bolstered in awkward silence
And ignore the Pompous Partisan Pontificators
Flapping sniveling lips across the House and Senate floors
While our hoodwinked soldiers offer up last breaths
To desert zealots who beat their girls for going to school
And only let their boys get laid in Their Holy Afterlife

Happy Holidaze from the Service Economy Champions
Who knew all along the honeymoon lovemaking or NAFTA
Was a craftily veiled hack alley twenty dollar blow job
Who knew all along they would turn out the spent whore
Mexicans turning out birth defect children taster than
They turned out car parts in hazard laden border factories
Shuttered in favor of fresh cheaper African whore flesh
The next poor unknowing suffering helpless in line

Happy Holidaze from The Powers That Be
Who stoke their meter with cunning glee
As they blink not an eye shed not a tear
As they romp plunder pillage every village
Used to be the very core the very backbone
The heartland of the greatest nation ever seen
An old forgotten piece of American Folklore
A Middle Class a Middle America a Memory

[from THE MOON, The Publication for Writing & Art, Vol 8 Issue 2 February 2010]

Editor’s Note: This just in: Rob Zoschke recently published his first collection of poetry: MADE IN AMERICA, Street Corner Press, 2010, $14 –from the author: P.O. Box 499, Sister Bay, WI 54234). Another winner.

Door County Blues and Made in America, are now available as E-books on Kindle via by clicking here…

ron whitehead | robert m. zoschke | reflections upon the 50th anniversary of jack kerouac’s ON THE ROAD

4 02 2008


NOTES from the UNDERGROUND…No. 132 | February 5, 2008


Anniversary Edition, No. 6
In Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of

RON WHITEHEAD, ROBERT M. ZOSCHKE —-“THE” BOOK, the Voices, the Movement, the Never-Ending HeartBEAT

Reflections upon the 50th Anniversary of Jack Kerouac’s ON THE ROAD. Edited by Ron Whitehead and Robert M. Zoschke. Published in Heaven Books. Louisville, Kentucky, 2007 175 pp, Illustrated, $25 The book is available here…

My contention: The Beat never stopped with the death of Kerouac. Jack left the American road a little early, hit the dead-end waiting for us all, but left the roadmap in book after book, poem after poem, word after word humming down the centerline of every highway leading us on.

You can’t NOT get lost. LOST is the way.

What Kerouac may have never seen in the distance is just how long the road was, just how far many continue to follow it all over America, all over the world.

This one fine book by Ron Whitehead, Leader of the SOUTHERN BEAT BRANCH (Kentucky) world-class performer-poet of substance, sass, sagacity and co-editor, Robert M. Zoschke, wise/true-talkin’ poet with hard and fast lines on Chicago streets and Northern climes, is testament to Time’s tick-tock Beat, Kerouac’s to be-continued connections…essays. photos, artwork, stories and poems. 46 contributors, each with his/her own roadmap to the journey within. With the Ghost of Jack holding a candle to the dark…to get here from there, THIS way…

For openers, venerable Ferlinghetti (High Priest to a life writ to move, follow your own directions) is on the front cover—a picture-poem to Neal & Jack; the back cover, by veteran chronicler of the Beat, Christopher Felver. filmmaker and photographer.

Inside, cover to cover…Anne Waldman, t. kilgore splake, Jerry Kamstra, Carolyn Cassidy, Michael Madsen, Davis Amram, Gerald Nicosia, Frank Messina…to name but a few of the Beat persuasion, who know the words, the way, and the music…

Here’s a little taste of the book, starting with Ron Whitehead, who captures the essence of the Beat goes on…and ending with an excerpt from Rob Zoschke’s piece…how we got to where we are…Norbert Blei

podcastlogo.jpgNorb Blei discusses Reflections upon the 50th anniversary…Jack Kerouac’s On the Road with the book’s editors Ron Whitehead and Rob Zoschke. Just click on the image to the left to listen to it, or just here…




On First Reading Jack Kerouac’s ON THE ROAD Down and Out in Kentucky Part VII For Madmen Only by Ron Whitehead

We’d just finished our second fifth of Southern Comfort
and the mescaline was kickin in
Jimi Hendrix crosses borders threatening to ascend towards heaven
with lightning and thunder he plays
Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” stereo loud as it will go
here in the only underground bookstore in Kentucky
For Madmen Only
shelves and bins stocked with books and records from
City Lights and bookpeople San Francisco
Atlantis and Alligator New Orleans
teas and herbs candles and incense from mountain communes
turquoise blue Spiritual Sky
and next door in
The Store
our head shop
paraphernalia water beds posters GROW YOUR OWN
blankets and clothes from India Native American jewelry
and we’re serving the new consciousness
inspired by the one and only King of The Dharma Bums
Jack Kerouac
and yes there’s Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Gary Snyder Richard Brautigan Ken Kesey Alien Ginsberg William Carlos Williams William Blake Hermann Hesse Knut Hamsun Dostoevski Nietzsche Bukowski Thomas Merton The Dalai Lama Gandhi Burroughs LeRoi Jones Diane di Prima
Hunter S. Thompson
and more more more
with Robert Johnson Hound Dog Taylor Howlin’ Wolf Jimi Hendrix Patti Smith
and always Bob Dylan Bob Dylan Bob Dylan
on the stereo
but we’re Down and Out in Kentucky
failin like no others dare fail
and we’re always on the outside outsiders outlaws
bein told you don’t fit you ain’t shit what the fuck you doin here
and so On The Road
is where we live travelin travelin travelin
in search of IT
headed out of Kentucky cross the usa coast to coast
down to Mexico determined to
keep on keeping on truckin til the wheels fall off and bum
just passin thru searchin searchin yes after all these years
still searchin for IT and yet somewhere somehow one day one moment
at the heights of Machu Picchu we went further in traveled deeper
on the inner road we entered the third kingdom the fourth dimension
where lies the synthesis of apparently irreconcilable differences
and in the heart of The Big Bang Epiphany we discovered
that the power and the glory of IT is bound in the grace
of forgiveness of Beating Karma through love compassion
of persevering through desperate circumstances so now
we GO GO GO we Never Give Up recognizing Now that
The Road that Jack Kerouac’s Road that our Road
always leads On.

Visit Ron Whitehead’s extraordinary world at:


All That Time, I Was Waiting On The Man (excerpt) by Robert M. Zoschke

…Kerouac’s narrative voice so dramatically immerses On the Road with uniquely underlying and overriding tenderness of heart, the life-source of harmonious human being goodness. My first dose of On the Road was a trifecta score of self-awareness, affirmation, and discovery. On the Road made the bells and whistles go off like nothing else.. .it is tenderness of heart that rejuvenates human compassion and love.. .it is tenderness of heart that leads a human being to a gut-check or a look-in-the-mirror during one’s darkest hours. You either have it or you don’t, sure-as-shit-plain-and-simple. And if you’re a writer, you’re either on the road or you aint. The Blues Had A Baby And They Named It Rock And Roll. They couldn’t name it Jazz, Kerouac and Amram took care of that, in their own different way, and different is good. Different is the hope and the dream and the long shot chance of having the babe hear an outsider’s Pull My Daisy offer and wind up sticking around. Rock and Roll is just hollering You Aint Nothin’ But A Hound Dog and an even-money-shot at wondering why in the hell she would ever want to stick around afterwards with someone who hollered shit like that at her.

After first reading then re-reading On the Road.. .holding that tattered library copy in my hands.,,1 knew that at some point the peculiar path of my life that I was going to make damn sure to emerge would eventually lead here.. .to a shack of writer’s solitude in the savage and treacherous woods of northeastern Wisconsin.. .a place where all the miles on the road and the back alleys and broken glass and broken dreams and blessed salvation of living on the edge finally came to a steady halt at the typewriter.. .a place where the way-too-long detour shit of hustling and winning corporate awards and being deceived by an ex-wife and deceiving myself.. .finally unraveled.. .in earnest-honest-pure-holy-finger-dancing-on-the-keyboard.. .a place where cashing out my 401 K so I could pay hospital bills and divorce lawyers and skate away clean to get to the blank pages and all the words to come finally made smooth sense.. .a place I always knew awaited me.. .a place that finally became NOW instead of SOMEDAY.. .a place that is all too often empty and hollow and sexless and loveless and lonely-worse-than-Mr.-Funk-and-his-crony-Mr.-Wagnall-ever-imagined.. .a place that is all too often beat but never beaten.. .a place that is never unholy and always honest.. .a place that the Great Fortune Teller at the Typewriter in the Sky showed me was in the cards, like a hustling blackjack dealer to a hustling card shark when they both know the pit boss is momentarily distracted by God’s ample cleavage on the natural blonde at the table.. .a place that has become and always was the only place left.. .the only place worth anything at all in the end.. .the only place where the currency is my beating heart and the commerce is my blood on the pages everyone else sees as words.. .the value of which I inherently knew and felt and bonded with.. .a long time ago now.. .on that day-into-night-into-day when I first read Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.