The Centrifugal Eye Aut um n 20 12
Vol um e7 Iss ue 2
Chapter & Verse Feature Folio: 4 Mini-Digital Chapbooks Plus: Tech & Urban Writing Themes in Poetic Form
The Centrifugal Eye Staff: Editor-in-Chief & Art Director: Eve Anthony Hanninen Contacts Editor & Review Columnist: Karla Linn Merrifield Assistant Editors: David-Glen Smith & Maureen Kingston Essay Columnist: Erik Richardson Editorial Assistant & Reviewer: D. J. Bryant Art Assistants: D. J. Bryant & Stephanie Curtis Staff Readers’ Circle: Anonymous Reviewers
C O V E R
A R T: “Evangeline ~ The Forest Primeval on iPad”
D. J. Bryant is a freelance photographer and graphic designer who lives on the Oregon Coast. He’s also a casual staff reviewer for The Centrifugal Eye; you can read his review of Mathias B. Freese’s This Möbius Strip of Ifs on pages 81-83.
Copyright 2012 The Centrifugal Eye * Collected Works *
Digital Poetry in the Chapbook Miniverse
Eve Anthony Hanninen
Featured Poets FOLIO : 4 M INI- CH APS Plus 4 Mini-Interviews: Alvarez 8, Barker 26,
Beck 34 & Greenbaum-Maya 43
Urban to Historic: Poetry on Writing & Being in an Age 52 54 55 56 57 58 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71
Admission for Disney World & Shenandoah by Ron Yazinski Endings Can Be Tricky by Ian C. Smith Sex Is Only Part of Casanova’s Story by Ann Taylor Figurative & To Destinations: by Philip Kobylarz For Pete Seeger, Huddie “Leadbelly” Leadbetter & Woody Guthrie by Afzal Moolla Crumbs of Paper in the Jungle by George Korolog Becoming the Web’s Most-Visited Lit Site & Tweets by the Sweethearts of Alachua Preserve by Karla Linn Merrifield Elegy for a Quatrain & Poets Drunk by Lynn Hoffman A Stranger in a Strange Land by Michelle Hartman Ode to a Dying Diva by Gail Eisenhart Reference (or Subject Matter) & R Is for Regress by Seth Crook Summer 1985 by Holly Day Film-Making — Western Scenes by Christopher Barnes
Essay: Oh, East Is East, and West Is West
By Russell Bittner
Review Column: Merrifield’s Tao of Poetry: Stop the Cloud By Karla Linn Merrifield
Review: “Reflections on Rummaging”
Digital Data & Publishing Details: The Latest News & Guides
Review: Exploring the Terrain of Head Lands
By D. J. Bryant By Brenda Levy Tate
Digital Poetry in the Chapbook Miniverse D I G I T A L P O E T R Y i n t h e C H A P B O O K BY E V E
M I N I V E R S E
A N T H ON Y HA N N INEN
I thought I’d present something different for The Centrifugal Eye this autumn — how do mini-chapbooks sound? Mini-digital chapbooks, to be exact? TCE made a call for mini-chapbook submissions (on any personally arcing theme), on top of general submissions slanted towards the writing process, with angles covering the historical to modern technological and urban themes. And wow! As well as a bunch of great distinctive poems, we got chaps. We had room to feature only 4 poets’ chaps, so we were sorry to have to send so many regular and new contributors away (but we know they’ll be back for another challenging theme). What’s so special about these chaps, you may ask? First attraction: each has a sharp focus that collections often do not. Second: most are selections of larger in-progress collections, so they’ll leave you wanting more. Third: each not only appears as a feature in our Chapter & Verse digital issue, but each is also available individually for free download in a .pdf-formatted eBook, directly from our website: http://centrifugaleye.com/. These digital eChapbooks will not be available in print separately. However, a Chapter & Verse print-on-demand edition (are you reading it now?), which also includes all 4 chapbook folio features and mini-interviews with their authors, just like in the digital issue, is available through Lulu Press. (Plans for a 4-in-1 print set of the chapbooks are also in the works.) Fourth: they’re written by fabulous poets! This fat issue of TCE is also packed with characteristic poems on an urban, historical, or tech slant — most on writing — as well as several collection reviews and a witty essay. Karla Linn Merrifield’s review column invites you to explore more of the publishing world’s eChapbooks, while Erik Richardson, who’s kindly taken a hiatus to make room for our big chapbook folio, returns to his essay column with our winter/holiday Sinkhole issue to invite you to participate in a special writing project.
Note: As we were going to press, I learned that my grandmother of 95 years suffered a heart attack. Her embrace of modern ideas and her spunky independence all the way up to the end have been great inspirations for me. So, Gram— thank you for being a forward-thinking, liberal role model. Much love.
This issue of The Centrifugal Eye is dedicated to Dorothy Jane (Gerhart) Gathers (1917-2012), who was ahead of her time in many ways, and who appreciated the benefits of urban advancements.
Eve Anthony Hanninen is an American poet, editor, and illustrator ranging the Saskatchewan prairies. Her poems will appear or have appeared in Karla Linn Merrifield & Friends (mgversion2>datura), Inertia Magazine, Eye Socket Journal, Switched-on Gutenberg, Sea Stories, Magnolia: A Florida Journal of Literary and Fine Arts, and many other fine journals. She=s anthologized in Crazed by the Sun and Trim: A Mannequin Envy Anthology. Eve edits and publishes The Centrifugal Eye poetry journal and is currently at work on a TCE anthology, as well as 2 poetry collections of her own.
“Digital Reading Devices” By D. J. Bryant, 2012
The Centrifugal Eye’s Featured Poets Folio: FEAT U RED POETS FOLI O Presents the Poems from
TCE’s Mini-Digital-Chapbook Series
The Charlotte Chronicles
By Steven Alvarez Plus Mini-Interview Pages 8-25
By Christine Beck Plus Mini-Interview Pages 34-42
Glimpsing the Stars
By Michelle Barker Plus Mini-Interview Pages 26-33
By Karen Greenbaum-Maya Plus Mini-Interview Pages 43-50
Have a favorite among the 4 chapbooks listed here? Visit The Centrifugal Eye’s website to download each and any of these mini-chaps in a free, eBook-style, .pdf format. http://tinyurl.com/TCEMini-ChapSeries
S T E V E N
A L V A R E Z
Transnation Translation greatest fear, is realized.
put a movie on now. So when I introduce existentialism, this, my
TCE: Your writing style utilizes heavy abstraction of everyday experience, plus takes an academic tone regarding literature as a whole. What strategies and techniques do you use to approach such an experimental concept? SA: Language abstracts everyday experience and poetry is one way to arrange that abstraction, or to arrange experience. I agree, my verse has a didactic quasi-highbrow posture, and that leads to another level of egghead abstraction. At the same time, though, my verse exploits bilingual hybridity, pues Spanglish. This lowbrow social relation fused between two languages juxtaposes standard and nonstandard usages and expressions in two languages rhythmically related. It's one happy chingazo of language fun, narrative, history, and theory. I blame it on all the nonpoetic texts I read and rewrite in poetic ways. I’ve built the poems here from a larger work-still-in-progress, some 600 pages now and counting. At this point, I've decided to divide this project into five books. The first, The Pocho Codex,* was published by Editorial Paroxismo last year. The concept is largely narrative-driven. It's about the mythological history of a family moving between borders, languages, loves, and life and death, la vida y la muerte. I try to pack it all in. TCE: The large black graphic in the mini-chapbook presents a severe, stark presence. More a symbol of what’s lost due to the Digital Age's limitations for translating a past culture, or an indication of a cultural misinterpretation of an immigrant's heritage? Other reason for its presence? SA: It's a figure of a text, a central void, but one anyone can't miss as it's plainly visible and therefore present. It's censored, and not because it's unreadable as language, but decipherable as image, therefore text. Indeed, it could be an indication of cultural misrepresentation, or even heritage, but it's meant to be the central missing text of the larger narrative from the five novels in my verse: the prophetic dream writings of El Segundo, which foretell the family mythology. TCE: Multiple themes run through your work: immigrant as outsider, self-erasure of personal history, cultural misinterpretations by adopted country — what was your prominent focus when you began formulating this lengthy suite of poems? SA: I first started putting together what became my first novel while teaching English in Tehuacán, Puebla, in Mexico. It was during this time that I immersed myself in Spanish and Mexican culture — two things I knew little of despite being a second-generation Mexican American. The themes of immigrant as outsider start there, but outsider to heritage culture, and when becoming more familiar with this, outsider to U.S. culture. I think of this more as miscommunication between both nations embodied within my experience; this gives expression to that arranged abstraction of cultural hybridity. TCE: While the tone of your chapbook is steeped in historical atmosphere, the characters weave and bobble through the creative narratives with decidedly urban savvy. What inspired this presentation of stepping through and coinhabiting time from a transnational perspective? SA: Urban savvy, I don't know if those words have ever been applied to anything I've done. I'm from Safford, Arizona, a small town in southeastern Arizona. But I haven't lived there for over a decade, and have since lived for several years in New York City, and now most recently, Lexington, Kentucky. I've lived in Mexico, Alaska, Georgia, and California. I've covered most of the continent, and this roving perspective, which encapsulates the curious geometry of this continent, uses history to fuel a narrated artifact, my verse. New York City profoundly affected my life and my poetry, and if there is anything urban in it, that was the influence. I lived in East Harlem/Spanish Harlem and Jackson Heights, Queens, and these places gave me fuel both for my verse and for my initiative to become bilingual. *Pocho is a Mexican word used for American Chicanos believed to be disconnected from their Mexican heritage; most Pochos are English-speaking, without fluency in Spanish.
Steven Alvarez — Author Photo
Poet’s Statement/Introduction My poems speak to the Mexican American experience and the current immigration debate that touches so many lives in the United States. I grew up in the Arizona borderlands, and my aesthetic reflects the synergy that composes my hyphenated American identity, and what I deem as my NeoBaroque Chicano experimentalism. My writing comes from someplace I can’t reach deep within an emerging ethnic consciousness, bounded by words internalized from languages intersecting at borders. I understand writing as always bound by these linguistic interactions between and through languages. Conflicts and congruencies of languages make for innovative poetry, which I picked up on after intensive study in the interlinguistic poetics of the Oulipo group, and masters such as James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Carlos Fuentes, and the Chicano poets, especially Eduardo Corral and Alberto Baltazar Urista Heredia (Alurista). My poems in this chapbook incorporate much from these influences. My ars poetica reasons that poetry happens from within the socially constraining aspects of language, which we all practice in daily life, with real people. We all play games with languages every day because the natures of languages permit us all to be storytellers, poets, and innovators. I strive for formal play and innovation in my poetics, but also narrative qualities, relying on various historical modes of storytelling and mythology through verse. ~S. A.
TABLE 1 STRUCTURE OF THE POCHO CODEX MANUSCRIPT folios material contents border [I] parchment opening complex [Iv] parchment blank complex 5 parchment drawing 1 complex 5V-6 parchment G1 simple 6’ parchment drawing 2 complex 7-102 paper G2-100 simple 102v-[103’] paper blank simple [104-110] paper blank none  paper (lighter weight) blank none  parchment contents A-C complex 2 parchment contents D-E complex 3 parchment contents F-K complex 4 [missing] ¿parchment? ¿contents L-Z? ¿complex? of lighter weight & partially deteriorated
this might suggest that it was originally a flyleaf & was affected by absence of binding until all four folios of this table were placed at the end of the manuscript therefore original structure might have been: seven parchment folios (ff. [I] + -6) 104 paper folios (7-) & one flyleaf () the absence of watermarks & fact that solid modern Amurkan binding was imposed in 1987 prevent heartless detailed study of manuscript’s structure particularly w/ regard to number format & distribution of gatherings however the coherence of the musical contents of ff. 7-102 confirm that no significant alteration was made after the manuscript was copied border drawn on most pages as can be seen in Figures 1-4 the degree of elaboration of the border is related to the purpose of the page those containing music have a simple border consisting of five parallel lines & small circular ornaments (see Figures 1-2 this style referred to as simple in Table 1) all the parchment pages except those containing music (ff. 5v-6) have more elaborate borders of variable complexity, w/ floral & geometrical motifs (see Figures 3-4 this style is referred to as complex Thesecolursdon’run in Table 1). borders have also been drawn on pages w/ no content of these most striking is that verso of the opening folio ([IV]) which has a complex border though not as elaborate as other examples three pages at the end of the music (ff. 102v-[103v]) also have simple borders & no other content these empty pages cd indicate that manuscript was never completed parchment pages deserve some attention since this material is glorious jesus boy
[1595 / 12 wind] A: GEOGRAPHY: legit copy / MS 47152h-1 Paper ink draft / Londres / March Yorope is a great place of verdure / of freshy fishy green / of wind / of windy places / windy — a cold place . . . it becomes cold . . . much frost / a place which freezes — a place from which such misery comes / where it exists / a place of afflictions / a place of lamentations / of afflictions / of weeping — a place of sadness / of compassionate sighing / which of course spreads misery . . . of gorges in places / of crags — of craggy places / a place of stony soils & souls / of hard soils & souls / but of soft soils & souls / a most moist & fertile place / a place of peaks / of stone jungles / of dry treestumps / a place of valleys / & a place as well of hollows— a disturbing place . . . fearful & frightful — of love / a dwelling place of serpents & rabbits & deer / a place from which nothing departs / nothing leaves & nothing emerges / a naturalist jacket of nothing place / not a place of ocelot / the cuitlachtli / the bobcat / or the spider of prickly shrubs / nor of mizquitli / but yes of pine / a place where the earth is owned by faceless beings / where the poor are felled / of moats & kings & playwrights & torture a place of crashing wind / of whistling wind / whirlwinds of ice / gliding winds / a place where misery abounds / a valley of hollows / a place where misery abounds / emerges / spreads / is edible— [manuscript ends]
B: GEOGRAPHY: legit copy / MS 47152h-2 Painted deerskin / Jackson Heights Queens / Assumed August [highly contested as exact continuation of previous passage] . . . forget Amurka [¡ !] & looky here at this sad Messico: Messicko is a place of hunger — for in these Amurkas where hunger is born / a home for hunger / death comes from hunger / place of trembling / of teeth chatter / of green glass bottles clinking together & broken shards used as wire fencing / a place of cramps & stiffening bodies / of fright / & flight / constant fright / where one’s devoured / slain by stealth / abused — brutally put to death / kidnapped / a place where one is put to death in the jaws of the wild beasts of the land of the dead / a place of torment & where misery abounds / & a calm place — of continuing calm — skies: miserly / rains there rot soils / & lions small & cowardly / there horses pigs & dogs become dwarves / where Yndios cold as serpents have no souls / hairless despicable men / flabby degenerate beasts / make children w/ their mothers [manuscript ends]
[2007 / 5th sun / our present] OF HUMAN SACRFICE & SACRIFICAL DESCENT INTO HELL: legit copy / MS 47158h-2 Paper ink draft / November here in Mexico we find Chaley Chastitellez in McTlán after escaping the treachery of creamy sunlit Xochitl Flores / who sd to our knight gud bai after his quote/unquote Great Refusal & after many months after that rainy Tuesday our fair Xochitl threw him down & came kissy kiss kiss facedown upon him / postVegas / many months later tracking him to AKlaska & murdering him— devouring him & ripping open his pecho / qué pachanga / scratching to hell his legs & arms & screaming ¡ Santiago ! ¡ Santiago ! & dispatching him thoroughly even despite (otra vez) his fair swordplay then blackening his slowing heart w/ copalsmoke wrapped in nopales . . . & now first stop / here / in Death’s abode Chaley finds himself presented w/ one of La Muerte’s jovencita emissary agents (of the four in a Tlazoteteo Cuaton / Caxxoch / Tlahui / or Xapel he can’t determine) & look: looking good for this pink pearl of perfection appears painful / her hair striped agate clotted w/ blood into braids never combed or parted & her chocolatl eyes of pure stars make no mistake freeze to the bone & have the sun’s seeing & they sing rain / rain & she swells him w/ embalmed songs & up above: sagging moon / thick & pregnant then she sez no temas donde vayas que has de morir donde debes . . . powerfully sacred / & when it FILLS OUR WORLD / yea like rayos of luz thru & thru
& hasta que tomé la píldora se me quitó el dolor but her florid speech spoken to no one in particular — mind Chaley hadn’t sufficient Spanish to do w/ her & anyway / no / & ¡egad! ¡that smell! behold—¡Chaley Chastitellez!— truchas yr name ¡ stinks ! sudden overwhelming stench more than carrion in Tuxson in July— more than dead salmon filling dry creekbeds in AKlaska in August — & he sickens & groans / folds & darkness twists in him like a river — weighing him down . . . & he contemplates again to go — yeah again — to leave his hated & O so heated AZtlán . . . — which he later does — claro — but he continues on pulling himself along dragging along some whitemud & on passing this jovencita voicing one gutteral grassy ass & smiling & suddently he strolls [sic ¿ ?] further into his despondent baroque hallucination McTlanuense until he reaches that forested juncture [¿?] & these cosmic trees— fat & furbarked / w/ sky branches— & he sits beneath one’s shadows which shines specks of stars & finds a smoking mirror — he looks at his face & this mirror cracks / & his face wrinkles & he sees himself as puro viejo / face like a battered stone & so he instantly sleeps— later wakes — ¿in his dream? & he walks . . . [margin: & he wakes &c] gritos de dolores sounding in his ears . . . death to gachupines &c [margin: &c &c] & so he squats on a slab of unrefined copper to rest . . . his hands leaning on this ore lump & yonder AZtlán shining in the distance he looking down from some height in space of time / & as for space of space he’s there where his gaze lands which as he sees & considers effects tears to rush into his eyes— cold sobs cut his throat— er / O . . . constructed tears of smeared centuries gone dripping down his
face & sorrowfully falling to stone & piercing his heart— & as he wipes his face shadows linger where his hands rest / & he wakes / ¿into another dream? & who else but one-armed Álvaro Obregón appears to him & he looks up: banners reading “imposition / resistance / adaptation / “transformation” sound concepts güey Obry sez then ¿where you goin? & immediately Chaley responds to a place of red daylight—to find some wisdom “. . .” sez Obregón his mouth full of frozen blood & Chaley wakes again— [¿ ?] & again Obregón tho this time missing the opposite arm ¿red daylight? ¿know it? don’t know sez Obry — but have a plug of this pulqazo — just fer ye well I won’t sey no & he sips the brew from a yellow popote sweet wine & sweeter still yet & instantly / bien pedo / perfectamente drunk he falls / faints / on calle & dreams — sleeps — his snores echo for miles in these canyons & he ¿wakes? ¿dreams of waking? & finds only silence — pure & an empty rusted town of concrete & rebar . . . & a new peak—btwn Popocatépetl & Iztaccíhuatl & snow slowly descends his face whitemudcaked . . . & surrounded by carcasses of books — pages lost among the dead & that weight oppresses him — so he weeps for these books — then sings & his tears again endlessly cold & long sighs issue deep from his guts until he sleeps— & he wakes — ¿or dreams? — to a beach — & there a hulk of serpents formed into a raft— & directly he reaches into his pocket & produces his MTA Metrocard which he promptly presents to the largest snake’s mouth / which it sucks & it slides an entry for Chaley & he boards & he sails into that diamond ocean this boat gliding on burning waters into that land of red daylight— on the rim of the great sea & his face reflects in ocean
 October-November / first handwritten pencil draft “[a] page so crowded that it is difficult for almost any reader, including its author, to unravel & decipher.” Found encased in a wall at the Presidio in downtown Tuxson / where deyall got dem Ann-o-WAK cowboy hats / 1849 dated via carbon analysis / University of AZtlán 1979 / special collections library POCHO MYSTIC TRIGRAMMES fer yr new world / old world / nowness a Skyday . . . young 1st element grandfather / life / water sea-lakes / firesunheat — thunder mother of lightening & lightning wind wood water cool moon mountain hinders movement earth AZtlán cinnamon stars & elemental garb of grandmotherly destruction ¿espeak ye that langwedge of yr ancestors?
no güey not really
[1 Reed] los yropeos malos llegaron a Messico / concrete dogs of una Yndia she suckled — each time . . . black block chihuahua at her feet blue napkin attached to her ear “Xolo” dramatic irony in dimensions of scale — ¿verdad? — umbilicus connecting her to: 1) an embryonic host 2) an ear organ 3) a sink 4) a pelvis
 holding wolfâ€™s neck / BURNING Aztec feet / eyes upturned tears lopped brown hands gripped in desperate supplication reflected in tarnished Yoropean armor amputated & accumulated in pits of other misc bodyparts
[nota: each letter represents a power of light & life]
Theodor de Bry, illustration of A Short Relation of the Destruction of the Indies by BartolomĂŠ de las Casas, 1552.
[2009 / 5th sun / our present] two translations of love poems transcribed from a partially destroyed codex portion (Codice Mojaodicus) removed from the hot hilly poor & dry Mexteca & now owned by some bald Bangladeshi guy named Sarowar who lives in a studio apartment in Corona Queens just up the street from the local rent-a-Mex / May-June a 1 LINEAGE: legit copy, MS 47471a-2 Amatl paper screenfold fragment painted both sides [second draft] / Early-mid November 1531 [¿ ?] . . . . . . . palimpestic . . . . . . thy face . . . . . . . ..................... ............. ..... . . . . . . white dogs of dawn . . . .... .... ..... &........¡......! . . . . . command . . . . . . . . . . . . .... .... . . . . . . social inadequacy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . per partes occidentales / ut dicitur / versus Yndia / in mari oceano 1) . . . . . . . . . 2) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .................. first urge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . stained sounds ..................... ...... . . . . . . . . . watch h . . rub . . . . . . . . . . . . . . watch . . rub / ¿los sonidos? in h . . mouth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . yn . . . . axictini quinmahuiztilia iteohuan— ica on huel huelitini oquinxico in iyaohuan .................. .................. ......... watch h . . rub ¿los sonidos? in h . . mouth . . . . . . . repeat . . . . . . . . . .......................................... ............................ ........................... eeeeatch / & wátchale watch / watch h . . rub ¿LOS SONIDOS? in h . . mouth / over & over / rubbing them into substance /
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . for earth / for eh heaven ......... ......... .................. . . . . . . . . . in pain .................. . . . . . . . . . . . . cuicatl . . . to h . . ear & that I found to be too much & blessing / & my tale I sing . . . . . . . . . . . . married love . . . . . / . . . .—zme . . . . married love w/ pillow . . . . . . . . . w/ pillows for head & feet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . married love w/ pillow / . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . quarrel . . . . . . . husbond & wyf) [margin: claro no me chingues pues] .......h....... . . . . . . . husbond & wyf violent quarrel btwn husbond & wyf . . . . . . . husbond & wyf . . . . . . . husbond & wyf one who causes disturbance btwn husbond & wyf— . . . . . . . husbond & wyf woman w/ 6 bairn & a husbond & pillow . . . . . . . man w/ lovers & their children  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . w/ roof-tree for their house . . . . . . . . . . . . . / house in which live 3 women . . . & 1 man two women w/ many . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . in their house w/ their husbonds . . . . . . . woman . . . w/ child . . . . . . . . ¿ ? . . . . . . . & 2 women on each side of house—each w/ child ..................... 2 women who live in same house . . . . . . . PALAVER each time they . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . & 3rd woman enters door . . . . . . & man comes to woman who has husbond &. . . . . . . . . . . . . . requests . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . live w/ him / 3 men . . . . . . . her . . . me . . . . . . . good god good good god . . . . . . . adultery w/ a woman who lives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . her husbond wyf bathes in river . . . . . . . watches to see that no one shoots her . . . fire / ardent love
b ORIGIN: legit copy / MS 22954c-8 Engraved stone second draft / Mid-late November 1989 From out Mot there came one bigass egg. Sd Egg broke in half & there have ye heaven &earth & I “quotato” here in detail:
Now Hesiod reflects some of this in his still mythic cosmology / for out of Chaos (which he says wuz mist & darkness) wuz begotten Erbos & Night as well as Eros or Desire & also death. You will note / therefore / that w!hat [sic] we now see by centering again ordered-question away from Kosmos back to man as source of his own sense & act of order / that displaced element in old cosmology wuz not desire but previous term of it / physical enjoyment. PHYSICAL ENJOYMENT—& here perceptions of our ancients extremely subtle—identified w/ chaos itself / boss / & only out of its jointure w/ spirit cd desire come. & out of enjoyment of death— [end of handwritten portion / typed manuscript resumes]
it’s this: OPERATION ‘YNDIAN SHIELD’ leaving field wide open for sufficient & well satisfied monstrous appetites for this mission in Xst for Xst as my bridge to gold & slave women & land & by my faith these heathens will learn of our truest trust in our lord Chuy Xst in all our suns & all everafter &/or before & all burned: god
[the following composed in glyphs] mouth country mountainwind locality one man perdón: person
place dress, too
DA QA PA wa (we
/ / /
KHA MA SA
DA KA NA sha ZA Lives
/ / / /
/ / /
GA la RA wi wu
footprints descending from heaven feathers & flower
jaguar 20 jaguars all burned: fire serpent
red jewel turquoise fan
braided w/ flints
plumed serpent w/ jewels
all burned: ¡o O o O O O my Lord the Flayed One!
“Webwide World of the Serpent” By E. A. Hanninen, 2012
Xipi Xipi rah rah RA
[1962 / 5th sun / our present] MS 44765d-145 (Private Collection) / typescript signed by Francisco “Pancho” Chastitellez Sr / grandfather of Chaley Chastitellez / songs gathered in shoebox at Pancho’s Tuxson barrio apartment / December: Radio AZtlán Amp & Alternator airwaves / Gila Valley SONG: TransHistoricoOntological Honkey Tonk Blues . . . an empty bottle / a broken heart & ye’re still on mah mind goddamnit San Avabiche / hijo de la chingada a su puta madre turn up that radio goddamnit I love this one— yes: me vale verga all this mess: & bueno: mahs: alone & forsaken so blue I cd die I jes set here drankin til that bottle run dry to tryn forget ye I’ve turned to th wine an empty bottle / a broken heart & ye’re still on mah mind S T R U M [sic] sd an emptyempty bottle & mah broken heart & yeee’re still on mah mmmind spoken voice over music / & strummin strumm strummin w/ a little devotion now / steady: GO casul day like any other jet aircraft rippin a noisy sky & I sd to ye goodbye ye cruwel cruwellll girl ye’ve scorned this delicate boy ye’ve murdered sometin truly fine wit-in im dulled im completely & left im alone in a dumb dilemma w/ his martini before im & another jet screaming more in some future imperfect later yes smart as ye somethin rare
indeed some true pillar of sun rightly so rightly so up S T R U M M órale thas um charp chit singin ever since those Greeks found earth a spherical body found emselves preoccupied by determinin its size & a calculatin its circumference smartly & blessdly from Zoos what they reached stonishinly accurate considerin their means & methods vailable tecknilogically then / / / WELL strum strummm strum strummm well when I fin mahself here spendin mah last dime getting drunker all the time & ye know ye just caint forget yr western civilizaaaaation & gods bless ye Yoropayin baby I love ye & I miss ye & yr amakin this Amurkan boy cry applause somewhere / yea get along li’l doggy hoppalong / clear on thru clear on thru li’l lugnut alright alrighty turn that down now pinches cabrónes get ta work en chinga pues
[2008 / 5th sun / our present] & so Tío Pancho & Chaley penetrated Manhatitlán deep sloppy July humidity tangling them until ‘Times Esquare’ as Tío used to say tho he’d never been & so his Sinaloan destiny linked w/ web to this eastern place & so Chaley Chastitellez wd dump his Tío’s ashes wherever he thought best here in Times Esquare Chaley looked down at his Tío’s new shell / then sd pero oye listen oye & ¡ look ! Tío — LA LUZ / sd Chaley to his Tío whom he toted in black plastic sack cinched at top & . . . how long & hidden Tío in his dreams followed clinking cloud rolling curtains / gas green neon billowing / crowd furrowed / strange brows— SURE: mighty torrent / sure as its might / crowd / & calmate Tío—hush yr thunder sd Chaley clearly speaking his Tío —shun what’s common & mean 6,982,488 lights flashing fury thoughtbulbs & another 6,982,488 & noise & his Tío from beyond: para el tiempo to boot & these lines: COSMOS black blanket star speckled planets / nebulae / constellations of Suns ¡ LEND YR EARS ! thought Chaley to the folks exiting Planet Hollywood & to some beautiful fifty-foot tall pouty-lipped white young man or maybe woman O Tío away alone along on forty-two Chaley walking solo west w/ Tío’s ashes in this sack / plastic / watchale / walking Tío’s ashes north / past
Swatch hugged sidewise O / servicio hear Tío here time’s money Tío / Chaley sd to his uncle’s ashes / sack cinched time y movement / in Ethiopia time metaphors / sd Chaley to his uncle’s ashes / of movement don’t exist WELL buckle no arrow buckle no fleeting y ¡ SENSE ! & Chaley Chastitellez reckoned here en Nueva Yor lights / lights & folks who ask C for money & ask say / b the b / ¿ wha’sin thet bag boss ? & / ¿ canna git some ? & C: no / es mi tío en esta bolsa ¡ BASTA ! y know forever sus primos no tienen su papa not now nor forever Chaley & the body just disappears becomes dirt dirt dirt well his ashes anyway / never to have visited Times Esquare w/ blood mixed w/ his flesh O TÍO / dead / dead / dead / first blind as a bat in political matters racist / como Ezra Pound racist Tío / fearful Tío / hatred / hardhearted / contra women / Jews / homosexuals Puerto Ricans — evil Tío of different worlds really refracted bigtime ¿& he wanted Times Esquare? no manches: he’d die from selfhatred selfpity selfdread all these lights Chaley looked up always electric day here in this place Chaley needed a dark place & he eyed a green flowerpot sweat in his eyes pot over yonder & sd to the box there are two things in this dirty dirty world up he looked at groups of students chaperoned by workingclass folk from Wax Museum / J-LO second: visible thru the window: two things: brute facts & social facts Tío: brute facts exist w/o man Chaley still speaking to cinched bag: but objex in relation to time: after the lantern yard loss of God (absence of meaning & Chaley speaking faster
/ rambling: raveloe: space w/o time . . . repetition instead cyclical time HALLO QUETZALCOATL I order ye universe / TIMES SQUARE ¡ zsTOP ! & nothing / nothing look Tío: here he spoke to the ashes in the box:
“Aztec Shell & Turquoise Skull” By E. A. Hanninen, 2012
Steven Alvarez is an assistant professor of writing, rhetoric, and digital media at the University of Kentucky. His first novel, The Pocho Codex: Piercing an Amurkan Poetic Historiography (Editorial Paroxismo, 2011), and its prequel, The Xicano Genome: Ulises, Los Panchos, e Ysrael (Editorial Paroxismo, in press), lyrically portray the Arizona borderlands where he grew up. His poems have appeared in Fence, Drunken Boat, Blue Mesa Review, EAOGH, Shampoo, and The Acentos Review. In 2008, his poem “& So Tio & Chaley” was recognized by the Poetry Society of America as one of the best poems about Times Square.
M I C H E L L E
B A R K E R
Glimpsing the Stars Mini-Interview
TCE: Navigating with a sextant from Vancouver to Hawaii over the open Pacific is a mind-boggling accomplishment. Your introduction and the poems assembled here allude to that challenge, opening up its particularities to a universal human predicament. Were you writing poetry during the voyage or did poems come later after you’d safely arrived? MB: I took that sailing trip long before I became a poet, but the trip did usher in my first pieces of published writing. I wrote a travel article about the town of Hilo on the big island of Hawaii, and also a piece for an American sailing magazine called Cruising World about our journey across the Pacific Ocean. I really felt as if that trip somehow gave birth to my writing self. Perhaps the crossing was metaphoric as well as literal. TCE: Is there a sextant you use to navigate the path toward creating a poem? Or would you say the journey of your process is more like using a GPS system? MB: Interesting question. I would say the process of creating a poem is more like coastal navigation, where you have to take fixes off two distinct landmarks. Where they intersect, that's your location. My favorite poems have a way of connecting disparate images or ideas to produce a new way of seeing the world. Finding those distinct “landmarks” and making the connection — for me, that's the challenge of writing poetry. TCE: In “Cemetery of Possible Lives” you conclude, you’re “the person / I never intended / to become.” Was becoming a poet something you never intended, or is that one possible self you need not grieve? MB: Ha, no, I never intended to become a poet. In fact, I can clearly remember a conversation with a fellow swimmer at the University of Sherbrooke some years ago. He asked me what I did for a living and I said I was a writer. "Are you a poet?" he then asked. I laughed. "No, I could never write poetry." Which just goes to show you . . . never say never. Certainly, I do not regret becoming a poet. I would list it as one of the best things that ever happened to me. It changed the way I look at the world. TCE: You credit your piano teacher with introducing the star-rating system that endows and wends from your celestial metaphor throughout the chapbook; who or what else would you say influenced the creation of this group of poems? MB: Several of these poems come from a challenge I set for myself a few years ago to write a poem a day for an entire year. I didn't quite make it to 365 — it was more like 340, and some of the poems were admittedly awful. But what the process did was force me to look for poetry everywhere. When you have to come up with a new idea every day, your radar is always on. In particular, "One Hundred Rivers" came from a visit to the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden in Vancouver.
Michelle Barker — Photo by Chris Cornett
Poet’s Statement/Introduction Like many people, I have long desired a reliable means of knowing where I am and where I’m going in my life. When I was young, I took piano lessons, and my teacher’s evaluations revolved around a colored-star system. My world was simple then, and even though I knew it would get more complicated as I grew older, I continued to long for such a foolproof system to guide me through life. Some years later, I sailed with my husband, brother, and a friend, from Vancouver to Hawaii. I was the navigator. This was back when a GPS was prohibitively expensive and the only practical way to navigate was with a sextant. We managed to get there taking sights off the sun and moon, but I never did master navigating by the stars. We are so often lost, directionless, following a dead-end path. We take the wrong stars as our guides, waste time regretting the past. We sense something is missing in our lives and we wonder how to get hold of it. Ultimately we must find our way to a place that cannot be located on any map. Glimpsing the Stars comprises six poems selected from a full-length work-in-progress entitled Celestial Navigation. The poems explore these questions: what are our star systems? Do they work? How and where do we find the guidance we desire? What is this place we’re seeking and how do we get there? ~M. B.
Cemetery of Possible Lives
What if the roads I turned my back on, the visions I never pursued, my unfulfilled yearnings, remain somewhere in the back-forty of my consciousness? The cemetery of possible lives, hidden by weeds, a tombstone raised for every time I might have been somebody new but wasnâ€™t: Here Lies Law School or the summer I almost went to France. Time might have eaten away the flesh of these incarnations, but their souls live on â€” they whisper. On a bare-branched November night when there is no moon, and frost has killed the last living green and my mind wanders like a spider, eight legs scrabbling in different directions I weep over the corpses of my possible selves, grieve my poor decisions, looking for the bypass on this one-way street to the person I never intended to become.
A gold star, if I’d practiced, clapped the rhythms in perfect 3/4 time, knew when to pause and when to play fortissimo, followed every ticktick commandment of the metronome. Silver meant I hadn’t been disgraced during lesson time, no rebukes to curve my hand like a house over the keys, to stop, STOP! and play it the way Chopin wrote it. For the days when sharps fell flat upon the keyboard there was red; when Miss Lachlan called me Worm, cried, You haven’t cut your nails? then cut them herself with scissors that could sever a crooked finger. One quick flick of the tongue on its gluey backing fixed the red star in my notebook — evidence, incontrovertible — I failed, did not work hard enough, my Pathétique was pathetic. At sixteen I understood the world didn’t work on any star system as reliable as the one in piano lessons, which made me love these stars all the more, made me long for such clear constellations by which to find my way.
Ten Thousand Things That is how Lao Tzu described the world and its concerns all talking and moving at once demanding our attention their mouths open for feeding they need us our ten thousand things which is why we are so convinced we need them certain they orbit us but they do not random, they could turn on anything and circle us because we call them important, give them permission and if we were to snub them what would become of them? if we were to say you: dentist appointment dishwasher laundry waiting to be washed you mean nothing you broken window you are less important than silence might they begin to fall away? what view have they been blocking all these years? what sun have they eclipsed?
Turning the World Sideways
The old idea forgets what it ate for breakfast, where it lives, why it’s still here, it smells like mothballs, wishes in its heart to be shut away in the mind’s cedar chest — it’s time, it says in a gravelly voice, I’m ready — but you are not, you hold its hand, revive it every time it tries to stop breathing, you feed it, call its name. You remember when the idea was new and young, how it served you like a reliable winter coat — but now this threadbare garment, this that’s the way I’ve always done it top hat, this but he was like that thirty years ago black and white TV must die.
“Compass Rose” By E. A. Hanninen, 2012
You must have mercy upon it, let it go, take up the new idea even if it still feels tight, and itches, and doesn’t quite make sense, turns the whole world sideways, makes the wind blow upside-down. Let it try you on, learn your name, rent some space on one of the higher floors in your heart, and then let it look out the window.
The Pantheon of the Ordinary
Being ordinary hardly seems a blessing until you are thrown headlong from your everyday life into one of many versions of chaos — from there you can only spy ordinary through the window, nonchalance passing you by at a distance: people walking their dogs, a baseball game amongst friends, ice cream cones, laughter — all framed by sorrow, as if the dogs, the sunshine and happiness belonged in another life from which you’ve been suddenly cut off. Ordinary becomes a country you long to return to, a homecooked meal of roast chicken you wish you had savored for the hungry times. Now you long for a commonplace concern, like remembering to stop at the grocery store for milk — how blessed to have an agenda that includes haircuts and mowing the lawn, instead of chemotherapy or funeral arrangements. How precious the oblivion of monotony, the way routine plays its trick of permanence, how much like a museum it all seems, or a temple, the pantheon of the ordinary — and all those lucky people who stumble through its gloriously mundane hallways without even taking photographs.
One Hundred Rivers
Like lives flowing into one Life we are born on a warm current of time begin as a trickle and then rise into flowing river arms of family we meander gather mud rock passing branch the gifts of storm and rainfall we are home to otter beaver river rat fish willows trail their secrets upon our skin and beside us trots the ox upon its well-worn path whispers watches waiting for us to notice the path and how it pulls us towards the sea like the stars pulling night into day and with the new light we awaken at last and know where we are going there is no question of meaning anymore we are one hundred rivers a community of moving living water every drop shall quench another’s thirst – and then we shall converge at the sea and slip beyond the horizon.
Michelle Barker lives and writes in Penticton, B.C. Her poetry has appeared in several literary magazines, including The Best Canadian Poetry Anthology in English 2011. She has also published short fiction and non-fiction, and received a National Magazine Award for personal journalism. Her poetry chapbook, Old Growth, Clear-Cut: Poems of Haida Gwaii, has just been published by Leaf Press and is available for sale on her website: www.michellebarker.ca. Her first novel, The Beggar King, is being published by Thistledown Press and will be out in the spring of 2013. Michelle is an MFA student in creative writing at UBC’s optional-residency program. She is a regular contributor to The Centrifugal Eye.
C H R I S T I N E
B E C K
The Charlotte Chronicles Mini-Interview TCE: Does Charlotte have a last name? Is she an alter ego of Christine Beck or an independent character? Can you corral the lass or does she have a mind of her own? CB: Charlotte is a cousin to a fictional character named Fiona, created by my friend Julia Paul. Julia and I have been meeting off and on for a couple of years, writing “call and response” poems. She writes a poem, which I “answer” with a similar theme, image, form, or whatever else her poem triggers in me. One day, Julia read me a “Fiona” poem, in which Fiona went to the mailbox and ate the mail. I thought, “I can do that!” My first Charlotte poem involved Charlotte writing (what else?) a profile for an online dating service. Online dating is surreal. Everyone makes themselves up on dating sites. So that was perfect for a literally made-up woman. I went over-the-top with my first draft, including a guest appearance by Charlotte’s parole officer. My MFA colleagues felt I should dial Charlotte back a notch. The result is a character who is definitely quirky, but with one foot in reality. I call Charlotte my doppelgänger, a word I love because it can mean either a neutral “alter ego” or a more insidious “evil twin.” Charlotte is never evil, but she is feisty. I spent a week or so waiting for her name to come to me. Of course, she must have a last name, but she hasn’t told me yet. (Maybe when we get to know each other better!) When I wrote about how she got her name, I realized that Charlotte Corday must have been in my subconscious, because I frequently write about justice issues as they affect women, having spent my professional career as a lawyer. I’m frequently asked how old Charlotte is. In my chapbook, Stirred, Not Shaken, we learn some of Charlotte’s backstory in Berkeley, where she was a Patty Hearst-type character, but all the poems speak in the voice of a woman in her late forties, unmarried, childless, still searching for the martini-buzz of romance with a twist of danger. The Charlotte poems arrived in April of 2012 and swept aside my other projects. I revised several older poems from Charlotte’s point of view, but most of them are new work. I always hate reading about writers who seemed to effortlessly dash off a book in two months! What about the rest of us, slogging page-by-page over years? Charlotte was a break from the hard work of assembling a book-length manuscript for my MFA thesis, comprised of poems I’ve written over the last thirteen years. Each time I think I’ve written the last Charlotte poem, she shows up again. For example, just this morning, I found an empty squashed beer can at the beach covered in barnacles and started wondering if it was the equivalent of a message in a bottle. I’m guessing Charlotte will have something to say about that. Can Charlotte sustain a manuscript-length collection? I don’t think so, but just when I think I know something for sure, it turns out I’m dead wrong. Maybe Charlotte will decide to run for political office or become a celebrity TV host, which would force her to invent a new persona, while fighting to keep her true self in check. TCE: Many first collections of poetry these days seem uneven — three sections of poems selected from 2 or 3 previous chapbooks that may or may not blend well together. The same can be said of many first chapbooks — loose compilations of individual poems (about a third usually already published in journals) with some new ones shoehorned in to give the impression of an unbroken daisy chain. What challenges did you encounter compiling The Charlotte Chronicles vs. your in-progress collection, Stirred, Not Shaken? What advice would you give to a poet attempting to create a first chapbook or collection? CB: An excellent question! Many poets want to publish a book. I understand that. But assembling a good book is a work of art. I’ve attended manuscript conferences, researched articles about ways to organize manuscripts, and written an article about it on my website: www.christinebeck.net. I believe a poetry manuscript should be as much a “page-turner” as a novel. That is, I don’t want my reader to open to any page. I want my reader to start at page one and be absolutely compelled to turn to page two, and so forth. If the poet applies this aesthetic to assembling a collection, it will take much more time than pulling together her “best” poems written over the last five years.
It will take thinking about the arc of the work, writing to fill in gaps, knitting together the poems so that they flow organically. This is very, very hard to do. TCE: You don’t shy away from literary references or foreign phrases or brand names in your poems. Any one of these can get a poet into hot water with readers and/or critics. Yet your choices seem deft. How do you decide which references to include? Do you worry at all that a reference (or commercial phrase) might be too obscure? Popular? Esoteric? CB: Ah, you played right into my hands, and those of the poet Tony Hoagland (www.fivepowerspoetry.com), who recommends “exercising the muscle of particularity” by using names of specific places and things for their “sonic appeal.” Some of my choices are deliberate, but most are intuitive. For example, Charlotte thinks she should mention a high fashion shoe on her online dating profile to show how fashion-conscious she is (she isn’t). She’s watched Sex and the City, so she knows Carrie wears Manolo Blahniks, but she can’t remember the name, so she calls them “barfniks.” The poem doesn’t mention Sex and the City, and you don’t need to know anything about Manolo Blahniks to understand that Charlotte is trying to namedrop and failing. Then Charlotte thinks about “keds,” which are more her speed. I want both “barfniks” and “keds” to resonate with the reader, whether she knows the specific brand or not. “Barfniks” should sound like a pair of shoes which are sold, not for comfort or practicality, but because they are both foreign and expensive, in short, a big barf. I asked Tony Hoagland about the danger of choosing a name that may lose its significance in time. Example: Facebook is now so ubiquitous that it has become a verb, whereas Myspace has sunk into obscurity. Tony says that’s a risk worth taking. My view is that a place name should 1. be easily pronounced phonetically by the reader, 2. set off sonic ripples, and 3. connote an abstract concept. For example, Keds are shoes that kids wore (and adults who don’t care if they look like kids). As to “hot water” about using names or products (Chanel No. 5, for example), I’m a lawyer, damn it! I am totally happy to abide by my editor’s policies about using real names, but I absolutely cannot afford to censor my work by worrying about trade-name issues. I’m not infringing Chanel’s trademark because to do that, I’d have to be using their name on a product I was selling in a way that confused customers. That is not applicable to poetry. For an excellent discussion of this issue, see attorney Mark Fowler’s blog.* It’s not that I am uninterested in the legitimate legal issues that affect poets, but the trade name isn’t a major concern. I am presenting a panel at the Association of Writers & Writing Programs in Boston in March of 2013 on the legal issues of defamation and invasion of privacy that involve writing about real people and real situations. TCE: Your poems combine the best attributes of lyric and narrative poetry. Do you also write fiction? And do you compose poems on a computer? What is your process? CB: I haven’t written fiction — yet. But I have just begun a journal now that I’m living at the beach in Connecticut for the winter. It’s an extended meditation triggered by sand and sea. I’m also writing a collection of poems based on legal language. Some titles include: “Attractice Nuisance,” “I Don’t Recall,” and “Why I’ll Never Be a Public Defender.” Perhaps I’ll find a new protagonist for this collection. And with very rare exceptions, I always begin with a pen and paper. That is how the poetic spirit works for me. I don’t sit at a blank computer screen from 8 to 10 a.m. each day. I write when I should be doing something else. Usually, I revise my first draft when I put it onto the computer and continue revising on the computer. I always take my poems to a workshop, either with my poetry group of nine poets, who have been meeting for ten years, or my MFA colleagues. I want to choke poets at open mikes who introduce their poem with, “Well, this is something I just wrote today.” If you just wrote it today, it is not ready to read out loud! I tend to write in quatrains and almost always, my first line is in iambic pentameter. After the poem is on the page, I experiment with different stanza and line lengths. I listen carefully to the meter to see if a different word “sounds” better.
Christine Beck — Author Photo
Poet’s Statement/Introduction Charlotte, the protagonist of The Charlotte Chronicles, is a close cousin to Fiona, a character created by a friend with whom I write "call and response" poems. When I heard her first Fiona poem, I decided to create a doppelgänger of myself, put her in unlikely situations, and see what would happen. For example, I wondered, "If Charlotte wrote a profile for an online dating site, what would it say?" The entire spring semester of my MFA program, when I was supposed to be completing my poetry manuscript, Charlotte kept nudging me, asking for equal time. Fiona and Charlotte write about some of the same topics, for example, what they hope for when they go to the mailbox. I've written a chapbook collection of about 20 Charlotte poems, currently titled Stirred, Not Shaken, but I fear she's not done yet. I'm not sure whom she's voting for, but I bet she'll let me know. ~C. B.
Beautiful It’s what every woman wants — not diamonds, mink, Chanel No. 5. Charlotte wants to hear she’s beautiful. No synonym will do. Beauty is not cute. Cute is Meg Ryan. Not sophisticated. That’s Audrey Hepburn. Not lovely, gorgeous, glamorous, attractive, sexy, smart. Beautiful is perfect — the lilac’s fragrant cluster, a snowy egret, rainfall on a tin roof, melancholy notes on a wooden flute. One man called her beautiful, but she was young and thought it was a pick-up line. Charlotte moved on to another lover, one with more pizzazz. He called her Monkey.
Je M'Appelle Charlotte
Charlotte was named for no one in particular. Her mother was seduced by sound, the shush of sea breeze in a port in France, the taste of Charlotte Russe, its silken linger on the tongue. Although her brothers became a Bobby and a Billy, Charlotte could not be minimized. No Char or Lottie seemed to fit. Her name remained intact. Imagine her perplexity when she discovered her name in French meant equal parts of masculine, from Charles, and feminine as his diminutive. Charlotte could not resolve the paradox— Which part should she devote to justice? Which to love? Then one day, she found Charlotte Corday, in a play called Marat/Sade. Corday, fresh from the convent, clutching Plutarch and her manifesto to the “Friends of Law and Peace,” stepped into the bathroom of the Marquis de Sade, director of the reign of terror, his murders masquerading as a Revolution. Charlotte plunged a knife into his naked belly, ignored his cries, Aidez-moi, ma chère amie! She was no amie. Charlotte was guillotined four days later, then autopsied by doctors to prove she was no virgin, because there must have been a man, smooth manipulator in her bed, a man who wormed into her soul, used her to complete his plot. Who but a man would dare assassinate Marat? Who but a man could stare at Marat’s suppurating skin, the daily pus and blood spread in his bath, without a flinch or gurgle in the throat? Charlotte was a virgin who murdered like a whore.
Stirred by Scents
Charlotte loves the fabric covers of old books, fingers their rain-spotted, stippled silk, once dark blue or burgundy, embossed with lettering that lingers in the creases. Gingerly, she opens them, nose already wrinkled for the whiff of mildew, rot of binding cloth, unpleasantly pleasant because she knows what’s coming, the smell unfurling. Ink and leather, dust and grime, the scent of fingers that turned pages, left prints in hair pomade, remnants of those unknown readers, who found another life inside the covers of old books. Who would she be if the Russians hadn’t gotten to her first? But they did. Even though she lived in California, even though she could have been hiking, firing up the grill, or freezing on the beach at Point Reyes, she was inside steeping in a samovar with Grushenka and the Brothers Karamazov. Then there was Anna. Charlotte, on the other platform, saw the train, saw Anna wavering, nothing left to love. She tried to shout: Don’t do it. Think of your little boy! It will pass. Vronsky won’t last! But the boy, the boy, he will remember this forever. Of course, it was too late. Charlotte knew the end. She’d read ahead. She saw before she turned the page that things would not be neat for Madame Bovary, who smelled like freesia, a fatal pheromone, wisps tucked neat in her chignon, but those blasted tendrils refused to stay in place. What’s one sharp slice compared with endless cups of tea? Charlotte knows they’re simply stories. She can see a parable when it’s pointed out. But it’s the scents that stir her — desire, betrayal, desperation — that rise like mist off crinkled pages, stick beneath her fingernails.
Charlotte’s Love Affair with Trains
Charlotte waits for MetroNorth at Grand Central in New York. Workers scurry for their trains, with folded papers, wrinkled trench coats, a swirl of leather bags and laptops. Charlotte’s never been to France; her romance stirs from postcards of the station and foreign films of platforms where lovers fall into each others’ arms. Yet she imagines that she waits at Gare de l’Est in Paris. Charlotte sniffs the breath of East and West — Côtes du Rhône, gorzalka, baguettes and borscht. She hears a man murmur undertones of intrigue, of foreign assignations, a polyglot of promises and propositions, in low rolled r’s and sexy fricatives. She pictures herself settle into her cabin, stretch out in a slender sleeping car. She hears the sighs of strangers that seep through damask curtains. She dreams she hurtles through the country in a silver gleam, the smoke and steam of romance with a man who loves her in a language she doesn’t care to know. MetroNorth for Hartford Now Boarding at Gate 22 After the weekend, lurching from breakfast through the hours to lunch, silent walks in Central Park, no promises from Charles, no proposition worth pursuing, they’ve broken up, again. She’s headed back to Hartford, to single bed and cat. This time is the last. Charlotte buys a round-trip ticket, just in case.
Are We Ever Really Done?
Charlotte wants to know: What’s the difference between you & I, and you & me? If there’s apologizing to be done, am I the subject or the object? When he asks her: on a scale of one to ten, how much does it hurt, how can she translate the pain of you & I to you & not I then assign a number? Where to find a small white flag, spotless, never before used on field or battleground, a flag to wave against a stubborn sky to show she really means it, that she’s really done?
“Net of Stars” By D. J. Bryant, 2012
Will they be forever linked, in their wooden fishing boat, casting out their net, pulling it in empty, scanning skylines, reading portents on horizons, squeezing out the lines, trimming back their appetites?
Charlotte Eyes the Chardonnays sweet as honeysuckle nectar, the bouquet of buttercups. Turning Leaf or Wishing Tree? Better than a birthday cake with candles crowding out the frosting. She tries to form a wish, anticipates the blossom of the wine expanding, opening her frozen parts, spreading sunshine in the dark. The labels are intoxicating: Blackjack Ranch, Pepperwood Grove, Cockatoo Ridge. The ranch, so high, the ridge still higher, then the plummet to the grove. Badger Mountain, Ravenswood, Barefoot Cellars. And the badger will lie down with the raven, and all will be well. Consider the lilies, the birds of the field, they neither toil nor wear shoes. Frogâ€™s Leap, Little Penguin, Smoking Loon. Why the focus on the creatures, why the leaping and the looming, the small skitter, the quixotic escapades? Kissing Bridge. From opposing shores, they meet near the middle, Charlotte and the cool smooth lip, a swish across the teeth, lodging on her palate in a shift of recognition. Yes, you have come back. All is forgiven. Take. Drink.
A retired professor of legal studies, Christine Beck will receive a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry from Southern Connecticut State University in 2013. Her poem, Sometimes He Comes Home Bloody, won the Leo Connellan Poetry Prize and was published in Connecticut Review, 2011. Her chapbook of the same name is forthcoming from Pudding House Press. She is the programming director and President of the Greater New Haven Chapter of the Connecticut Poetry Society.
K A R E N
G R E E N B A U M - M A Y A
Floating Route Mini-Interview
TCE: One of TCE’s editors was pleasantly surprised — jolted upright in her chair — when she read your “Glow-worm” and discovered Billie Holiday and Eva Perón residing in the same poem. Can you disclose the ars poetica that resulted in a Holiday- Perón pairing? KG-M: As much as I would like to have an ars poetica that I could elevate like a host, I cannot claim that I started “Glow-worm” with any sort of abstraction or construct in mind. What happened was this: I was noodling around online, looking to see what had taken place the day I was born. Well! Petrarch and Reynolds share my birth date, and it is the name-day of St. Pantaleon, patron saint of bakers. Billie Holiday had a productive recording session down the street from the hospital where I was being born. Eva Perón died in a hospital in London. ”Glow Worm”/ “The Glow-Worm” was top of the pops, and UFOs were sighted over the Capitol in Washington DC. There was also a terrific alignment over Los Angeles — Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, the Sun, and Pluto — truly a blaze in the western sky right around the time I was born, but I couldn’t seem to do much with that. However, the images of the four open mouths stayed with me, the four faces laboring, with breath being central to all four. This turned out to be a good thread to string the poem on. I must admit that I was a little freaked at the idea of taking my first breath just as Eva Perón exhaled her last, and that I was relieved to remember the existence of time zones. It was not that I deliberately wanted to link BH and EP, but rather that I discovered that there was a link. TCE: You understand the urban lifestyle, able to portray its edge and environmental textures in imagery and language, without having to necessarily be direct. Your poem, “Glow-worm,” despite being a flashback to earlier days, has a contemporary feel to it. How would you suggest a writer go about bringing immediacy to nostalgia or memoir? KG-M: I do not feel myself to be an authority on writing. I can tell you what I try to do: I try to catch fleeting images, visual or aural or physical, out of the corner of my mind’s eye, and to write them down so that I convey something of the emotional experience. I try to get away from formulations, and I try to let in the devalued, forbidden, uncomfortable too-personal-to-tell. It seems to me that being a psychologist required finding patterns, abstracting commonality (emotional, structural, whatever) from disparate events. Writing requires that I stay with the events and their particularity, and that I resist, or at least defer, making a formulation. It’s interesting to let the flow reverse.
Mini-Interview, Greenbaum-Maya Continued
TCE: A musical motif returns in “Living with the Black Dog,” lending another pleasing unity to the collection, aside from driving/traveling. The songs and lyrics you cite in “Glow-worm” and “Black Dog” provide your reader with a soundtrack to complement your words. Similarly, readers can hear the noise of traffic behind the line in “Freeway Driver on Interstate 10” and a city’s cacophony in “Dignitas,” even though the blare and road aren’t described. Is there a psychological strategy behind the unsounded in these poems? KG-M: You honor me by supposing that I have a conscious strategy. Psychologically speaking? I can tell you some elements that might or might not explain. I remember material visually, but I seem to perceive best aurally. Music stirs me. I always enjoy the sly commentary of earworms. Aural clutter — ambient traffic noise, neighboring conversations, cell phones, tones of voice, even appliances — can really impinge on me, even when I try not to tune in. I suppose I end up expressing that experience. Also, writing from the conversations is good revenge! And also, I have always gotten in trouble for saying what others have tacitly agreed not to say. It is centrally important to me to make a place for the inexpressible, the unexpressed, the avoided, the elusive. TCE: There’s a satisfying variety of forms in this collection. For example, “Freeway Driver on Interstate 10” is a prosepoem, while “Stop and Try Our Homemade Pie” incorporates indented lines and a double-indented stanza. How do you go about deciding the form an individual poem will assume? KG-M: If you like the range of forms in this groups, you should check out my sestina about Twiggy, or my suite of limericks about Theodor Adorno. For me, the poem drives the form, its tone as well as its content. Mostly I’ll start writing what I have to write, then look to see if the words or images seem to be lining up in a particular way. Sometimes I’ll try the poem several ways; sometimes, I’ll try for a particular form if I feel that the content is really suited. (I once reviewed a restaurant called Heroes in heroic couplets.) Ultimately, I want to put the poem on the page so that it lends itself to being read the way I hear it. I tend to like the forms that send you circling around the material from yet another direction. I regret that I cannot write a villanelle to save my life, also that I have yet to write a sonnet that does not subvert the form. TCE: While the forms vary, each poem in the chapbook has an anecdotal journey of a sort, one that crawls through dreamy analysis — was this tone conceptually designed for this grouping of poems, or would you say it’s a common road your writing follows? KG-M: This response may read as circular, but here goes: A chapbook, even mini, differs from a bunch of poems in that it presents some unity, some developmental arc. That is to say, constructing a chapbook requires some feeling of continuity, a connectedness of tone, or content, or form. Of course, that made me look for poems that would lend themselves to such a grouping. That said, I do spend a lot of time emotionally in this particular tonal range, I do like to turn my dreams into poems, and I do ask myself how one thing follows from another, pretty much all the time.
Karen Greenbaum-Maya — Author Photo
Poet’s Statement/Introduction When I look over these six poems, I feel how they share an emotional tone, a directness, a clarity, in speaking of what most people do not. Perhaps it comes from having been a psychologist — or from being someone who found psychology a good fit — but you might as well say that it is the same reason I have worked at writing. I have always noticed what must not be spoken, and so often got in trouble for speaking. Performing psychotherapy requires that you voice these things, as does writing poetry. And everyone hopes for epiphany. ~K. G.-M.
That’s my mother in labor, cursing me out. Six blocks up Sunset Boulevard, in the Capitol Records basement studio under LP stories layered up like cake, Billie Holiday is holding nothing back, finishes up some Nice Work, eyes shut, damp face shining. And if you get it, won’t you tell me how? She says, “I’ve got one more in me,” and her combo floats into Blue Moon. That same night, a flotilla of UFOs passes over Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital. Shine little glow-worm, glimmer, glimmer. Sunset’s pulsed lights draw them east to London, to Eva Perón in her hospital room. Her head falls back, last breath floats out. Mother hears the baby’s cry. Shine little glow-worm, glimmer, glimmer.
“Traffic Mirror” By Karen Greenbaum-Maya, 2012
Living with the Black Dog
It’s like a black dog, a crazy terrier hanging on, delivering whiplash to some poor rat, always sniffing out the worst, finding the dead snake under the leaves. It’s like you’re tuned to radio station K-SUK, where you suck, all the time, 24/7. Don’t touch that dial. Sing along with the playlist: You’re No Good, Hurts So Bad, Cry Me A River. You’re no good, you’re no good, Somebody, say it again: Baby, you’re no good. It’s like the too-high-up dream. You see tree-dots from way up in the air. Whatever flew you high has faded out and now you fall through nothing. With nothing between you and the ground, you fall fast and slow as drops of rain. It’s like the time you saw the gray cat crouched in a concrete corner— a young tom forty feet up— high on the cement ledge of Target’s roof. Rickety ladder shifted under your hands as you fought the pull out over empty space.
A version of “Living with the Black Dog” appeared in The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Winter 2011
Freeway Driver on Interstate 10
On your tenth inkblot test, your tenth card showed a man holding the stone tied to the rope around his neck, ready to step out of the boat. Your Tarot card reading revealed a man pierced by ten swords. On the freeway at night, you shut your eyes. Count to ten. If you beat the odds, get ten more points. It’s half-past ten, you’re pulled by the double-yellow lines, by the taillights in front and you float up the long yellow loop that will take you off Interstate 10. Follow the lines to soar curving fifty feet above the highway lanes below, before you descend and merge. If you speed straight through the railing and leave the lines behind, you would crumple and flame amongst startled drivers. Hand over hand on the steering wheel, away from the dark. Obey the lines.
Stop and Try Our Homemade Pie
We pause on the long stretch between Portland and Sutherlin. They serve the solid crust unbuttery underbaked unloved, dense and hard as particle board. Old man at the next table, deflated version of his pastor who is leaning in close, trying to out-talk death, who promises everything you ever wanted over on that other side, promising an other side. But will I get back my teeth? How old will I be? Can’t tell a lie with custard pie; I order custard, and that’s why. This slice of pie’s a lying cheat, not worth the time to cook nor eat. Back on I-5, we eat blueberries all the way down to California, cramming them in handfuls into our mouths, each burst staining, perfuming our fingers.
The taxi driver knows the way. A moat marks the house you've come for. Koi flirt away when you cross. The bed is safe in a far corner. A moat marks the house you've come for. Pomegranate-red blanket, ice-white sheets: the bed waits, safe in a far corner, when you know each day too well. Pomegranate-red blanket, ice-white sheets. The house looks away from the city where you know each day too well, where the good hours are all used up. The house looks away from the city. Your life-savings buy you nothing when the good hours are all used up. Pay the fare, leave a good tip. Your life-savings buy you Nothing, the coin to float you across. Pay the fare, leave a good tip. The taxi driver knows the way.
“Dignitas” first appeared in The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Fall 2011
Lacquered dandelion in full puff, one breath away from gone, the gauzy veil of careful hair floats at anchor over her freckled eggshell skull. She has become the opposite of shrewd. The memory of habit finds her, assiduous, coaxing the relic of her crown into its old place.
A version of “Older Woman” first appeared in Lilliput Review, Summer 2009
“Floating Leaf Batik” By E. A. Hanninen, 2012
Karen Greenbaum-Maya, retired clinical psychologist and former German Lit. Major, no longer lives for Art, but still. No one believes she is a California native. She started writing when she was nine. Since 2007, more than 90 poems have appeared in many publications, including: The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Lilliput Review, Word Gumbo, The Prose-Poem Project, Convergence, and dotdotdash. Her second chapbook, Burrowing Song, is in press with Kattywompus, and should appear by early 2013. Links to her photos and poems online may be found at www.cloudslikemountains.blogspot.com/. Karen is a regular contributor to The Centrifugal Eye.
Historic Poetry on Writing & Being in an Age By
Ron Yazinski Ian C. Smith Ann Taylor Philip Kobylarz Afzal Moolla George Korolog Karla Linn Merrifield Lynn Hoffman Michelle Hartman Gail Eisenhart Seth Crook Holly Day Chris Barnes
Admission for Disney World A D M I S S I O N
D I S N E Y
WO R L D
By R O N Y A Z I N S K I
Claiming to write poetry is like admitting Membership in a twelve-step program. One of the few times I did, A neighbor surprised me by saying he did, too, sort of. Now seventy and retired, He finally felt wise enough to share his thoughts, As if writing had the same requirements as prophecy. After thirty years of running his own company, At last he had the freedom to develop the ideas That had obsessed him during years of business trips, When, instead of plotting marketing strategies, He had spent his nights scrutinizing the Gideon, Considering, as he put it, the eternal questions. Assuming that because I wrote the stuff I wouldn’t mind reading it, he asked, Would you look at some of my work? I really don’t know what to call them, But they’re short, like parables. As long as they’re not freshman essays, I said. Excitedly, he went into his study And returned with a few sheets of paper, Each centered with a typed paragraph. I can’t tell you how nervous I am to have an audience. In the first, an altar boy sneaks a consecrated host from his church. He feeds a crumb of the holy wafer to his pet mouse And the rest to his sister’s cat and watches what God does to his creatures; In the second, an aged minister listens to his wife’s complaints About his wasting time rereading Revelations When he could be doing something useful, like tending her flowers. To which he answers,
Where else would I learn God’s plan to torture a garden Until it confesses in roses? I told him they were very good, So good, I wish I had written them. You should submit these to a journal as prose poems. And he smiled like an awkward teenager kissed by a cheerleader. But that was before Disney World got him. Bad investments and too little money from Social Security Soon forced him back to work. And the only job he could get was selling Merchandise at the Animal Kingdom. One night, weeks after he started, I was sitting on his lanai, Watching him smoke a cheap cigar, massaging his knees That ached from standing eight hours on a concrete floor. I’m glad God gave me only two. He smiled. When I asked him if he had written lately, He said, No, I’m too tired; Besides, too many other things are clogging my head, Like the voice of my college-aged boss chiding me For telling a family that was considering a stuffed toucan That God could change birds back into dinosaurs if he wanted to. How was I to know that would make their pudgy little princess cry? He puffed his cigar. All the time I ran my own company I dreamed I’d be a writer, One good enough to come up with a cliché or two, So that I would be remembered as the man who wrote things like ‘God wants us to judge each other by the color of our breath,’ Which I know only needs a good story to be memorable . . . Instead, I’m hawking stuffed animals for minimum wage, Which, considering the room and board they get, Is less than the gorillas and chimps make.
Shenandoah S H E N A N D O A H
YA Z I N SKI
On my way through the Shenandoah Valley, I feel like one of Francis’ followers, coming down Averna Without the gift of stigmata. I think of how the litter of my immortality Will be my voice on the answering machine Still accepting messages long after I’ve died. I brood on the uselessness of letters, How even putting my head between books like Ariel and The Bell Jar Won’t kill me, No matter how depressed I am And who I imagine my father to be. My only consolation is a thought-exercise In which I self-publish my poems and pass them out To libraries around the country. But in the special concoction of ink and paper, There is a delayed chemical reaction that, in several years, Will cause the books to burst into flame, Destroying not only themselves, but all the books around them. Vast libraries will be consumed, Forcing people to come up with a new, more honest poetry. On my website, I imagine a virus That will cause all words to slide to the bottom of the screen, Like detritus from a mudslide, With the lightest letters like “e” On top like froth. It would be better for them to slide right off the screen and pile up On the desk, But I’m not that smart. I can’t make words that real.
Ron Yazinski is a retired English teacher, who with his wife Jeanne, divides his time between Northeastern Pennsylvania and Winter Garden, Florida. Among journals that have included his work are The Houston Literary Review, Edison Literary Review, H.O.D. and Pulsar Poetry Magazine. He is the author of the chapbook, Houses: An American Zodiac, and a book of poems, South of Scranton. Ron is a regular contributor to The Centrifugal Eye.
Endings Can Be Tricky E N D I N G S
C A N
T R I C K Y
I A N
C. S M I T H
Within the rhythms of a Cotswold village you experienced your happiest months. Remember the coffee-ringed gas heater trundled on castors around your sanctuary from one freezing room to another? You tested your prose in aerogrammes, queueing at that quaint post office with reserved women in dull overcoats. You homed in on the church fete’s books, frost crunching beneath running shoes, your only footwear during that period. How can a man in scuffed sneakers exist on crossed-out, refurnished sentences and Pig’s Nose whisky bought on special? The pathos of a post-war childhood dislodged a landslide of waiting memories. Self-obsessed, neglectful of others’ needs, whisky and words flooding your senses, unaware, as none of us can help being, of the lottery of those future calendars, the lonely house in arid Australia, everything you would do wrong, the end of whisky and other careless joys, you wrote, naïve, seizing the moment, rapt.
Ian C. Smith’s work has appeared in Axon: Creative Explorations, The Best Australian Poetry 2004; 2009 (UQP), Chiron Review, Island, Southerly, and Westerly. His fifth book is Contains Language, Ginninderra Press (Adelaide). He lives in the Gippsland Lakes area of Victoria, Australia.
Sex Is Only Part
By A N N
S E X
S T O R Y
T A YLOR
of Casanova ’s Story I S
O N L Y
P A R T
C A S A N O V A’ S
protests the journal polishing his image. He did translate The Iliad into Venetian Italian. But for two hundred years, this dark-skinned smooth-talker has been the proper noun for philandering womanizer. The Vatican banned his memoir. The French Library consigned the illustrated edition to the hellish L’Enfer, a locked cupboard for scandalous print and a hint at the rake’s own fate. Though a man of letters, his ruling passion bedded at least one hundred twenty countesses, milkmaids, wives, slaves, servants — singly or in multiples. One cooperative nun provided two magnificent globes which had been during that fatiguing night, the principal agents of my happiness and when another conquest crossed the Rubicon, he made love to her whenever the servant was out of the room.
Ann Taylor is a Professor of English at Salem State University in Salem, Mass., where she teaches many writing courses, including Poetry Writing, Writing about Nature, plus English Literature, Arthurian Literature, The Art of the Essay, Modern Poetry, Contemporary Poetry, and Poetry Analysis. She’s written two books on college composition, academic and freelance essays, and a collection of personal essays, Watching Birds: Reflections on the Wing (Ragged Mountain/McGraw Hill). She’s had poems published or accepted recently in such journals as Arion, The Aurorean, Avocet, Ellipsis, The Copperfield Review, The Dalhousie Review, Appalachia, Del Sol Review, Snowy Egret, Classical and Modern Literature, and Utah English Journal. Her first poetry book, The River Within, won first prize in the 2011 Cathlamet Poetry competition at Ravenna Press. This is Ann’s second appearance in The Centrifugal Eye.
At his life’s end, suffering from VD, and fearing insanity in the Czech mountains, he composed twelve volumes of raptured recollection, I can find no pleasanter pastime than to converse with myself about my own affairs, for I was born for the sex opposite to mine. This mathematician, gambler, astrologer, violinist, actor, dancer, librarian, low-order clergyman chose a watermark for each of these pages — two hearts touching.
Figurative F I G U R A T I V E
P H I L I P K O BY L A R Z
the subject of every picture is female. old men pray. the jetty unwinds. vampires spend most eternity in sleep. a kiss, on the lips, lasts as long as a kiss. solitude only has so much time to be alone.
to destinations: t o
d e s t i n a t i o n s:
when the city smells of worms and the storm leaves the streets inconsolable decorated with a maplewort's unlikely lemon slices and a drizzle remains as beads on the sidewalk concrete brown washed blueâ€“ bodies of leaves spill in bundles of laundry down the sewer. for the first time in months, steam rises from the sewers' metal smiles and the young man in a white shirt wearing a broken wristwatch awaits a ride home from one of the many people in his life he loves, bending over the sports page of the newspaper wondering where he is somewhere in his most insignificant of Parises. Philip Kobylarzâ€™ recent work appears or will appear in Connecticut Review, Basalt, Santa Fe Literary Review, New American Writing, Poetry Salzburg Review, and has appeared in The Best American Poetry 1997. His book, Rues, was recently published by Blue Light Press of San Francisco.
For Pete Seeger, Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter & Woody Guthrie F o r
PE T E
S E E G E R,
H U D D I E
“L E A D B E L L Y”
L E DB E T T E R
A FZ A L &
W O O D Y
MOOLLA G U T H R IE
It was a long time ago when you put your words into song. This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender, you scribbled on your old guitar. You wielded that banjo and guitar as weapons, fiddling out a hail of truth. Of solidarity. Of immediate calls for peace. You said of Leadbelly that Huddie Ledbetter was a helluva man. You sang and spoke through dust clouds and relief lines. You taught us all, to seek out hope wherever we can. And when they tried to call all of you goddamned reds, you sang on ever louder and louder, rattlin' their prejudices as they slept in their plush beds. You rode and you rambled and thumbed your way around this land that is my land and your land too. For you believed all this earth was shared common ground. And when you sang of overcoming one day, the injustice and the pain that you witnessed along the way, they branded you a commie, a pinko, a nigger and a Jew-lover. An enemy of the state. While your banjo and your guitars wrestled their blind hate.
â€œPerfect Moment to Write a Songâ€? By D. J. Bryant, 2012
This machine kills fascists, you etched on that guitar as well, but they were all deaf, for they could not hear the tolling of the bell: the bell of freedom, the hammer of justice, the song of love between your brothers and your sisters. And they knew not that they were the ones who would sizzle in their own bigoted hell. And then came the marches. You were there, too. Marching and singing with Dr. King in Birmingham and Selma. And you faced their ugly spit, their venomous rage, their clubs and sticks and knives, but you always knew that your cause was just and that the truth would one day prevail. However long it may take, you would never give up. You sang and you marched and you strummed yourselves victoriously into their jail. Then they shot him down, they shot Dr. King dead, as they burnt and lynched many more. Yet you stood firm, you never wavered, your blood was red after all, and they could not tarnish the truth's core. And so it came to pass, that Woody went on his way. To his pastures of plenty up in the sky. And Huddie, too, said his last goodbye.
And you were then one, and you may have felt alone and overwhelmed by the battles and with all that was wrong. But you saw that the people were with you. As they had been, all along. So you fiddled that old banjo, dragging it through Newport and Calcutta and Dar es Salaam. Through countless unknown halls in numberless unknown towns, across this Earth, turning, slowly, putting smiles of amity on faces that were once pockmarked with disillusioned frowns. So, today as I pen these poorly scribbled words for all of you, for Woody, Huddie, and Pete, I do so in gratitude, for after all the travails that you've been through, I know that you know that this world still has its fair share of hate, and of loss and of injustice and of gloom. But I also know that you know that though all the old flowers may have gone, there always will be, as there always must be, fresh flowers ablaze somewhere.
Afzal Moolla was born in Delhi, India, while his parents were in exile, fleeing Apartheid South Africa. He then traveled wherever his parentsâ€™ work took them and he still feels that he hasn't stopped traveling. Afzal works and lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, and shares his literary musings with his most strident critic â€” his 12-year-old cat.
Crumbs of Paper in the Jungle C R U M B S
P A P E R
t h e
JU N G L E
G EOR G E
K O R O L O G
Dear God. Longtime listener. First-time caller. I’m flat, flat on my back behind the podium, having only choked my way halfway through a PowerPoint presentation on top-line revenue and operational metrics. I’ve dropped the discussion on value proposition, arbitrage, global deployment, free cash flow and diversified business portfolios because, as we all know, we are not paid for time spent, but for results, and having collapsed halfway through my presentation, I’m going to be put on a performance improvement plan, and someone enforcing Sarbanes-Oxley is going to make certain there is a documented paper trail that leads from this podium to Human Resources, which, in my employment letter, provided me with this number to call in the event of an emergency. Hello? Anyone up there know a good lawyer?
As a poet, George Korolog doesn’t feel for us as an emotional surrogate, but rather feels alongside us, offering companionship for the journey to make it more bearable, more beautiful or even more terrifying. His work has been published in numerous print and online journals, such as Forge Literary Journal, Punchnel’s, Poets & Artists, Red River Review, Poetry Quarterly, Connotation Press, Naugatuck River Review, Willows Wept Review, Corvus, Contemporary Haibun Online, Stone Highway Review, riverbabble, Blue Fifth Review, Grey Sparrow Journal, Blue Lake Review, The Centrifugal Eye, and many others. His poem, “From tending sheep to confusion on the Amtrak 10:50” won second prize ($1,000) in the prestigious 2011 Tom Howard/John H. Reid Poetry Contest. He was a runner-up in 2012 for the Contemporary American Poetry Prize for his poem, “Soul Stone.” He is an active member of Stanford’s The Writer’s Studio and is presently compiling his first book, Raw String. Contact George: email@example.com
Becoming the Web’s Most-Visited Lit Site B E C O M IN G
W E B‘ S
M O S T- V I S I T E D B y
K A R L A
Time was right— explosion of MFA programs spewing tsunamis of hungry, entrepreneurial grads cum needy newbie ezine editors, competitive. One mass poetic market expanding annually. Time was ripe— for fastfoodforthought.com, for carry-out sentences, instant metaphors, tropes a few clicks away. Time was auspicious— to input html code, hypertexting on my cyber machine, to boot up an assembly line of digitized lines. Snacks, noshes, metered goods for sale via PayPal, available worldwide. Supersize your order for bonus freebies: a dozen rhyme schemes no extra charge for a limited-time only. Now! At the Poets’ Drive-Thru! You deserve an ars poetica today!
L I NN
L I T
S I T E
M ER RI F IE LD
Tweets by the Sweethearts of Alachua Preserve* T W E E T S b y
Wm— Tx my! K.
t h e
S W E E T H E AR T S
A L A C H UA P R E SE R V E MERRI FI ELD
4 gift! Alachua Basin primo. Bison n Gators. All beings. Endowed. How we growled too. Oh
Miss K— Paynes Prairie more sacred now. O prodigious rutting beasts. And us. I blush, WB
o’ mine. Yr.
Bartie— Love among the rushes, reeds. Marsh thrashings. U, I in the watery , open expanses. K-la-la Mistress K— If I may say it: Delicious. Like rare white cranes, by Nature, we danced, too. Sanctified our . Gently, W. My Willie boy— U may! I saw what U saw 236 yrs. ago. She lives, saved. We reenact comes. Always, K.
’s rites. Creation
*Florida’s first state natural reserve (also called Paynes Prairie after a Seminole chief’s son), located south of Gainesville and famously explored and chronicled by the naturalist and artist William Bartram in the 1700s.
Karla Linn Merrifield recently received the Dr. Sherwin Howard Award for the best poetry published in Weber - The Contemporary West in 2012. Poems are forthcoming in US 1 Workshop, Laundry Lines anthology, Eye Socket Journal, A Little Poetry and New Mexico Poetry Review. Karla is a regular contributor to The Centrifugal Eye. Read her review column on pages 74-79.
elegy for a quatrain E L E G Y
f o r
Q U A T R A I N
B y LYN N
i had it last night, after the lights went out as the pillow took me in. it was four lines to finish a poem about poets. i knew i should get up and write it down, but the pillows were so soft and the fatigue was flowing out of my body like some watery simile. my scheme: to memorize just the last words of each line they rhymed — i remember — aa-bb. maybe 'tense' and 'sense' were in there or something weak like 'time' and 'line' or was it a couplet halt and lame like 'inspiration' and 'perspiration'? i know it had one of those ironickish twists that are so important to poems these days, or at least to the ones that get in the magazines. in fact, i may have even jumped my own king and finished up with a twist about twists, which would be just like me— another thing that would be just like me would be going to sleep with the thought of storing those four lines for morning and exactly like me would be waking up without them. it was a very sweet sleep and i think someone hugged me as the quatrain ran off in the down of the pillows to hide forever. aa-bb.
poets drunk P O E T S D R U N K
H OFFMA N
poets drunk on wine and words shout imprecations at the birds. they flatter tiny woodland flowers, then stagger off and fuck for hours. poets drunk on words and wine think like minks and act like swine. they covet their neighbor's ass and spouse and spill their drinks around the house. just let a poet read aloud to a person, couple or a crowd at a wedding, briss or christening and the fool will think that someone's listening. but in her heart she's got to know that poets come and poets flow and the poet's disease is cured with time or a glass of words and a page of wine.
â€œGlass of Wordsâ€? By D. J. Bryant, 2012
Lynn Hoffman is the author of The Short Course in Beer and The New Short Course in Wine. He is a regular contributor to The Centrifugal Eye.
a stranger in a strange land A
S T R A N G E R
S T R A N G E
L A N D
For Paul Sampson
B y MICHE L LE HARTMAN wants to publish my poem if I allow him to remove the parenthesis, delete second and fifth verses change it to past perfect third person omnipotent omnipotent as only God will know what the new poem is about poetic theology indicates when writers go to Heaven, they meet only editors who are pathetically grateful for any copy and when editors go to Heaven, all the writers are so desperate for approval they agree to any changes, however damning since I have been both it's pretty clear I ain't going to Heaven so accept this long-winded way of saying, yes you may remove the parenthesis, change this lament regarding childhood sexual molestation to one of coming-of-age angst And thank you for accepting the rest of the poem the handful of punctuation makes a nice design
Michelle Hartman has been published recently in Poetry Quarterly, The Pedestal Magazine, Raleigh Review, San Pedro River Review, pacific REVIEW, Concho River Review, RiverSedge, Illyaâ€™s Honey and various anthologies. Also overseas, in The SHOp (Ireland), BluePrint Review (Germany), Five Poetry Journal (Australia), and The Applicant (Nepal). She was a juried poet in the 2009 Houston Poetry Festival, and is the editor for the online journal, Red River Review. Michelle holds a BS in Political Science-Pre Law from Texas Wesleyan University and a Certificate in Paralegal Post Grad studies.
Ode to a Dying Diva O D E
D Y I N G
D I V A
B y GAIL E ISEN HART
Some say they prefer simplicity. Personally, I like the challenge of nuance. Your subtle flourish excites me, such a contrast to the bold linear type favored lately. I’ve admired you for decades. The idea you’ll soon be just a memory staggers me. Critics claim you wander in circles, twist and turn endlessly. Your style and eye appeal are matchless . . . those soft rounded vowels; the fluid stroke of the y; the final swish of your s. It’s not that you’re indirect, dear one — consider how you dot each i and cross each t. The way you make a point is masterful. As I contemplate the hours I’ve spent perfecting my technique to capture you, I admit an effortless flow has been a challenge. Oh beautiful Cursive, don’t go! The idea you’ll disappear is simply un-inkable.
Gail Eisenhart’s poems can be seen in, Assisi, Cantos: A Literary & Arts Journal, Generations of Poetry, Specter, Jet Fuel Review, The New Verse News and New Mirage. A retired executive assistant, she works part time at the Belleville (IL) Public Library. She travels in her spare time, collecting memories that show up in new poems. This is Gail’s second appearance in The Centrifugal Eye.
Reference R E F E R E N C E (o r
(or Subject Matter)
S U B J E C T
M A T T E R)
What is this poem about? I’ll not rhyme with roundabout, but get to the point: I must discourse upon aboutness, or about uponness — if that’s a word. Subject . . . I will flout. Again, I do refer to reference. Depth in poetry is ill-understood, except by those who know that a good un must work on at least eight-and-a-half levels, ascending, be subtlysmooth semantically, with some joke on level two, sex on stanza three, and beauty holding fourth.
“Owls & Barnwood” By E. A. Hanninen, 2012
By SET H
R Is for Regress R
f o r
R E G R E S S
Infinite regress. An endless ancestry. A stuck keyboard letter whizzing along the screen. Whee . . . Can’t stop it. Preconditions to excess, unless Ockham’s razor’s bluntness is some subtle abstract blessing. All of us rhyming so frantically, over and over . . . . . . bit, nit, wit. All looking for the first internal rhyme, back on the unfound line 1. All so fond of stairs, always next-stepping; all so keen on theoretical and abstract progressing in our long study of ingress without egress. Our big trip backwards, zoom, hunting for the first, the less or even more complex, the bit before, the done before, the wheel within the wheel, the wheels within mini-wheels. All so much better than the little vicious circles — bless. They are mere robins. Regresses are the owls of reason beyond all intelligibility. Hidden in the recesses of our barns, blank-eyed, beyond inquiry to the point of rude. With littler owls inside their barns, homunculi, homunculus, homunculess.
Seth Crook taught philosophy at various universities before moving to Scottish Hebrides. He does not like cod philosophy in poetry, but likes cod, poetry, and philosophy.
Summer 1985 S U M M E R
1 9 8 5
B y HOL LY
there was this guy who used to live right over the record store I worked at he'd come down in the morning and hang out talk to me while I opened the store drink coffee and smoke cigarettes and talk about his motorcycles he wasn't really very interesting but at 16 I was still too nice to tell him to go away he'd only stay for an hour or so just until he was awake halfway through summer vacation the police came raided his apartment turned out he was running a child prostitution ring pimping out teenaged girls to his biker buddies some of his girls went to the same high school as me and all I could think was why hadn't he asked me in all those morning conversations about bikes and surfing and music why hadn't he asked me to come upstairs and work for him not that I would have but it would have been nice to have been asked I spent the rest of the summer wondering why I wasn't good enough
Holly Day is a housewife and mother of two living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, who teaches needlepoint classes in the Minneapolis school district. Her poetry has recently appeared in Hawai'i Pacific Review, The Oxford American, and Slipstream. Her book credits include The Trouble with Clare (out in 2013 from Hydra Publications), A Bright Patch of Sunlight, Music Composition for Dummies, Guitar-All-in-One for Dummies, and Music Theory for Dummies, which has recently been translated into French, Dutch, Spanish, Russian, and Portuguese.
Film-Making â€” Western Screens W E S T E R N
S C R E E N S
B y CHRI ST O PH ER BARNES
Christopher Barnes is the recipient of the 1998 Northern Arts Writers Award and has read at workshops and festivals, as well as exhibiting film, art, and literature projects in the UK and Scotland. Heâ€™s participated in radio programs, written poetry reviews, and has recently become an art critic. His poetry collection, Lovebites, was published by Chanticleer Press.
Russell Bittner Karla Linn Merrifield D. J. Bryant Brenda Tate
“Oh, East is East, and West is West” —
AS B Y
N O N E RU SSE LL
B U T N O V E L I S TS
K N O W B E S T
B I T T N E R, author of Trompe-l’oeil and Letters to My Children
The credit for the first half of the title of my essay belongs, as many poets know, to Rudyard Kipling. The second half is my invention — and the subject of this monograph. I’ll return to the title before I bring this essay to a close; but first, an anecdote. Several years ago, I remember asking an acquaintance (and an aspiring poet) what she was reading at the time she announced she’d turned her hand to poetry. Her answer to the best of my recollection? “Nothing! I don’t want someone else’s style to influence my own.” I remember now — even more distinctly than I recall her exact answer — that I thought it was one of the most absurd declarations I’d ever heard. She was well beyond adolescence and any age when another writer’s style could possibly infect her own — assuming, of course, she had one. My point here? Namely, that a writer, poet or novelist (or anything in between) should never prophylactically put aside reading. To my way of thinking, we have only two ways to perceive the world. The first is through the five senses — and, consequently, restricted to our immediate environs. The second is through reading — and limited only by the constraints of time and interest. Time, in both law and finance, is a fungible thing: we make of it what we will. Interest, on the other hand, is something we must consciously and conscientiously cultivate from the moment we move from analphabetism to literacy. “You are what you eat” goes back to 1826, by credit, to Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. I would suggest to you, “savage”* writer, as a corollary, that you write what you read. And that if you read nothing (so as not to be “infected” by another’s style), you remain dependent upon a very restricted world — namely, upon the world of your five senses (pace Homer, who had only four). Those five senses were, in effect, what my acquaintance — and aspiring poet — chose to rely upon for her emergence. As luck would have it, her cocoon never opened. No less a literary luminary than François Mauriac once wrote, “I believe that only poetry counts . . . a great novelist is first of all a great poet.” I would suggest a further corollary to his assertion — namely, that a great poet is first and foremost a voracious reader, and not just of poetry. To mistake (out of ignorance for what has already been written) one’s efforts for an original contribution is to be not only laughable, but also a fitting subject for pathos. None of us can — or should — be expected to know all of the world’s great literature before we first put pen to paper. But each of us can — and should — make an effort. If we pretend to be the custodians of the language, the least we can do is pay appropriate homage to those who labored before us to tell a story, the most crystalline form of which may well have been the metrical poem. The second part of Kipling’s verse? “And never the twain shall meet.” In his “Ballad of East and West,” Kipling clearly meant the two in a literal sense. In this brief essay, I’ve used “East” and “West” metaphorically to suggest the meeting of prose and poetry. If poetry serves as a kind of distillation of prose, prose nevertheless serves as one of a poet’s necessary sources. Ignore it if you like — but do so at your own poet’s risk.
*Twain, Mark. The Innocents Abroad, pg. 255. The Reader’s Digest Association, Pleasantville, NY, 1869.
Merrifield’s Tao of Poetry:
Stop the Cloud S T OP
t h e
C L O U D;
W A NT
BY K A RLA
G E T O F F, LI N N
I T HI NK
Tulsa C. L. Bledsoe Right Hand Pointing Online / 16 Pages Free
The Woman Who Discovered Math Poems by Michael Cadnum Red Booth Review Online / 5 Pages Free
Ice and Gaywings Poems by Kenneth Pobo qaartsiluni in collaboration with Phoenicia Publishing Paper / 29 Pages $7.95 US and at Amazon .com Kindle Cloud Reader $2.99 US
Under different circumstances this book review column would be a rant poem. It’d be perfect for The Gizmo Girl’s Diary, the collection of techno-engendered poetry I’ve been working on over the past 3 years. My way of coping as I navigate cyberspace, moving through my terribly modern life as you do, no doubt. But I don’t have time to play; I’m up against a deadline and I gotta face the monster — oh, scary beast — Electronic Chapbooks. Other than Writer’s Almanac, a quick dose-a-day readily dispensed in my email, I do not read web-based poetry on screen. Nope, not even in my job at The Centrifugal Eye. I print out the submissions I am to assess, as well as every .pdf page proof, and I order print copies of the new issues to relish the rewards of our long labors. No surprise: I don’t own a Nook™ Tablet or Kindle. In fact, until this assignment came up, I had no e-book experience. Zip. Nada. But Editor Eve Hanninen had suggested I look into the subject— after all, it’d make a strong complement for the mini-chaps included in this special “Digital” issue. It’d also be an apt follow-up to the column I wrote in the April/May 2011 issue, a brief history of the chapbook that stopped short of its emergence as the ’Net’s latest alien creature. So, doing my joyful (if anxious) book-reviewer duty, I skip a poetic conniption fit à la Campbell McGrath at his rantiest. Instead, celebrated reader, you get what follows. I promise not to drop the Fword, even though the Tao of Poetry has led me this time to “the Cloud.”
Along the way to these pages I took comfort in knowing I was not alone. Not everyone is an early adapter and many of us have Luddite tendencies. There are many reluctant stranger-readers in the strange land of e-publishing, if only because it’s a relatively recent phenom. I can’t nail down an exact date for you when the very first e-chap appeared. Wikipedia says only: “With the recent popularity of blogs, online literary journals, and other online publishers, short collections of poetry published online are frequently referred to as ‘online chapbooks,’ ‘electronic chapbooks,’ ‘e-chapbooks,’ or ‘e-chaps.’” The first Kindle sold in 2007, a mere five years ago! And it wasn’t until 2008, that Wordrunner Electronic Chapbooks, for example, brought out its first quarterly chapbook zine. And it was only 2 years ago that Right Hand Pointing issued its first e-chap call for open submissions. Yep, this e-chap thingie is fairly recent and what The Centrifugal Eye is doing in this issue is very much leading-edge.
B E W I L D E RI N G
T E R RAIN
F OR MAT S
Now, about this Cloud business. Another new wrinkle in Webland for me to tame. I whined ad nauseum about all the squinting at too-tiny words on my laptop screen I’d be subjecting my old eyes to. It didn’t take me long to catch on that we were not talking cumulus dumplings, nor mare’s tails or mackerels. We were not talking Cloud 9. Not those kinds of cloud, but The Cloud. What this neophyte thinks of as the Internet’s vast warehouse of words and images. (If you’d like a more formal definition of Cloud technology, see page 79 for URL.) Most of it is way over my disgruntled, gizmo girl’s head. Besides, it’s pretty boring.) Many e-chaps are Cloud-based, “uploaded by the publishers to their Cloud server,”as were 3 of the dozen I read in prepping this. Perfectly clean pages, with lots and lots of white space around the black “ink” — just like a book page! — to allow the poems breathing room. But beware, if you’re reading them through Amazon’s Cloud, you cannot print the pages. You can take notes online, but printing is not an option, to my spitting dismay. And you can’t download the chapbook file to your computer; you must access it through Amazon. Tsk. Tsk. Thank heavens TCE regular contributor and November 2005 featured poet Kenneth Pobo’s chapbook is both Cloud-based and available as a good ole perfect-bound printed book. I managed to read it online on my laptop screen. Then, I read it again with greater relish in its printed form. (Thank you, Ken, for the reviewer’s copy! My eyes love you for it!) Halleluiah, hand-written marginalia! Hallelujah, pleasurable physicalities of paper and printer’s ink! E-chaps are also delivered to your laptop’s doorstep via:
Downloadable.pdf files. They’re clean and easily manipulated, thanks to Adobe’s flexibility — you can easily bump up the page size. And you can print the suckers! Imbedded in the publisher’s website or as a blog. These generally print just fine and are often visually enhanced with art and/or photography. But you have to contend with the distraction caused by the page template’s — side matter running along both left and right margins in too many cases. It depends on how savvy the Web designer is. Michael Cadmum’s chapbook (also below) visually competes with Red Booth Review’s “The RBR Archive” on one side and “Submission Guidelines” on the other. (I should mention the font is sans serif — very difficult for the visually-impaired and dyslexics (that would be me) to read. Plus the font’s quite small— 8 point?!
Accessed through Issuu. These chaps are printable! Yay! And easy to manipulate with a superlative zoom function, as TCE readers have discovered. Lulu-published. Via Lulu’s website, you can often purchase either a .pdf (sometimes free), an ePub book, or a print-on-demand edition. They make gorgeous collector’s copies! (Order a “Digital” issue of TCE at Lulu soon!)
Hmmm. Maybe these e-critters aren’t so scary after all.
PE E V E S
If you are as hardcopy dependent as I am, there’s another aspect of the e-ogre chapbook that will make you growl: some web-based sites are not designed with the printed page in mind. Graphics can end up overlaying text when printed; poets’ words get garbled. As do their lines! The poems in C. L. Bledsoe’s Tulsa almost universally break down because the original line breaks do not hold on the printed page. What a shame. For Bledsoe, as well as his readers. It doesn’t have to be that way; many editors/publishers consider the readers who do as I do: we print the pages. In my opinion, a fabulously talented and meticulous editor-designer like Eve knows how to finesse her pages for Issuu and Lulu. She honors the poets and artists she publishes. But perhaps more important, e-chapbooks are wildly erratic in terms of the quality of their poems. Self-publication is the familiar culprit. While editors are the quality gatekeepers of many echapbook forums, poets may post their own chapbooks via blogs (think WordPress), or in conjunction with self-publishing relationships with “sponsors” such as Amazon. I shudder. As does Jessie Carty (see my review of her The Wait of Atom via Issuu). Carty emailed me this past summer to report: “I think it is still a growing market and there is a bit of a stigma about poetry on e-devices because the first poetry books in e-formats looked terrible.” Alas, many of them still do. You have to wade through a lot of dreck to find the gems, but gems there are.
t h e
P L US
I think it’s because of journals such as TCE and qaartsiluni, that poets have come to praise the advent of e-chapbooks. Ken Pobo wrote me in July to say, “I have 2 chapbooks online. I am happy to be part of the online publishing world. There’s a greater chance for people to read, and possibly enjoy, my work than in just the print medium. I’ll submit to both print and electronic. . . . I would never turn down any way for my work to be read, print or electronic. Why limit?” He does, however acknowledge a shortcoming of electronic publication: “The one negative about electronic is I can’t touch it the way I can a print book. Printed-out pages aren’t quite the same.” Indeed. Electronic publishing does have 2 tangible benefits, at least for Fearless Books founder D. Patrick Miller. He admits he hasn’t e-published a “‘chapbook’ per se,” but he has e-launched “two full-
length poetry volumes, and one shorter volume of [his] own, Instructions of the Spirit, that could be called a chapbook.” Seems there’s money in the Fearless Poetry Series for Miller: “Overall, my epublishing program has been successful, as it now represents 2 to 4 hundred dollars of monthly income, and keeps growing. Some of my shorter e-books (chapbook length or shorter) are distributed free, with links to my other work so that they function as inexpensive advertising.” Money in the bank and cheap marketing. Not bad! If you’re starting to salivate at the prospect of emulating Miller’s success, you might want to heed his final words of advice: “I would advise anyone doing a chapbook to make it free, with links to a print edition that can be sold. It’s probably more advantageous to get the wider distribution that a free e-book gets, than the little bit of income that you could get from trying to sell it.” Here’s one more positive aspect of befriending the e-ogre. Digital publishing, whether as echapbooks or their big brothers, e-books, particularly lend themselves to experimental visual poetry. A large-format printed book might be able to accommodate very wide lines, but the common 8.5” x 5.5”sized book can’t without causing unintentional line breaks. Take a look at British poet Thom James’ chapbook, available as a free .pdf download from Radioactive Moat Press. Here’s a peek at a stanza from “‘YOU/SO/SO/NOT/I’":
"Boy" & his : /D R E A M B O A T//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// /E Y E S///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (&the) /H A I R G R E A S E////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (&the) /C U T E S M I L E///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// ))) & E V E R Y T H I NG E L S E T H A T C O U L D B E M E N T I O N E D/I C H O OS EN O T T O ))) and the/&th-
Not my e-cup o’ tea, but it demonstrates the possibilities available to poets of James’ ilk. One last positive note to remind you: Not only are e-chaps quite often free, they’re now ubiquitous. Poet Molly Gaudry, founder and creative director of The Lit Pub, intimates the vast horizons of e-chap landscape. According to her June 28 email to me, “I suggest Publishing Genius, Scantily Clad, and Blossombones.” Just 3 e-chapbook publishers we might want to explore. (See page 80 for URLs.) In the interim, here are 3 e-chapbook mini-reviews to tempt you into the lair. Or not.
H UM P I NG
PAS S ENGER
S E A T / A N Y M O R E”
I’ll be blunt: C. L. Bledsoe’s Tulsa disappoints. The title and front page photograph promise poetry of place. I expected maybe oil-gushing derricks or Jesus-spewing oil men. Stockyards or stockcar races. At the very least a bull and its bull manure. Not. Not even the title poem has any authentic connection to Oklahoma. Nor does “Kilgore Trout in Oklahoma.” Despite the poem’s reference to “desolation,” we can’t see a particularly Oklahoman kind of desolation. He never shows us. Nor does “Oklahoma” bring the reader home to the Sooner State. And, although there’s a poem titled “Ohio,”
not a single significant detail evokes the Buckeye State. His “corn” and “gravel roads” of “Ohio” could be in any number of rural states. Rather, Bledsoe delivers images rooted in the generic nostalgic soil of his youth, for example in “Kilgore Trout in Oklahoma”: “there were donuts in those days.” We accompany the poet on a selfindulgent journey to his teenage times in Anywhere, USA, when “I fell asleep waiting for you to return (“Oklahoma”) and when he was “looking for tomorrow’s sweet / smile (“Ohio”). Yes, he gets off a good line occasionally. I’m still delighted by the “boarded-over windows of our mothers’ eyes” in “Tulsa.” But too often the poems are plagued by insipid lines, such as “and the young are so young” (“Not Even the French Laugh at Me”). Or this one from “Oklahoma”: “Foxes mate outside.” Where else would fox sex occur? And this is Bledsoe’s second digital chap from Right Hand Pointing?! (Executed, I must point out, in black ink against a pumpkin-orange background. Ouch.) Maybe it’s a guy thing and Tulsa is meant for guys who, like Bledsoe, are yearning for their Holden Caulfield days by reading poems like “The Rye,” and who also “never wanted to be the man farting ” (“Not Even the French Laugh at Me”). That’s the same poem in which Bledsoe proclaims, “Masturbation dulls.” His sure does.
“S T I R R I N G
DE C IM AL S
t h e F O L D E R”
Michael Cadnum’s 6 poems in The Woman Who Discovered Math from Red Booth Review are of a higher caliber with many beautifully crafted lines and arresting images. “Hearing the Shot” opens: “Wasp on the spoon at your / elbow, great yellow lemons in the tree.” I’m hooked. And this from “The Strongman Eats a Car”: “And here are the tailings / from the mine of blood.” And from “Fridge Death”: the image of “duct tape weathered to silver scabs.” My trouble here? I’m mostly unsure of what the poems mean. Yes, I understand that a boy died in “one of the lost Amanas” in “Fridge Death,” and a waitress met her untimely death in “Hearing the Shot” and it was “three months before hikers / found her.” But mostly I don’t get them, just as I don’t get so many of the language poets’ works. But that’s okay because my body feels Cadnum’s poems: menacing, violent, tragic, and redolent with decay. My body is familiar with his post-modern world, painted with such an acute slant we can’t pin them down, but sense this is our world, too. And we, too, live with “cities in our lungs” and “piss-bythe-ton / in the groundwater” (“The Woman Who Discovered Math”). Cadnum’s time is our troubled time, one of “the red silence” (“Fridge Death”), one when “already / the birds have vanished” (“The Strongman Eats a Car”). I am strangely moved (and not at all chagrined by the several lame line breaks). This digital chapbook is a good thing. And Red Booth Review’s editor, W.T. Pfefferle, has done a good service by presenting Cadnum’s short collection for all of us to ponder. For free.
“…Y E L L O W / B L O S S O M S
FLO A TI NG
G A Z E B O S.”
That’s the masterful eye of Ken Pobo at work in “River and Leaves” from his award-winning digital and print chapbook, Ice and Gaywings, which won first place in the 2011 qaartsiluni poetry
chapbook contest. He’s describing a water lily and makes me see those beauties in a fresh, enchanting way. Just about everything in Ice and Gaywings is fresh and enchanting. Pobo is a masterful poet, and one stellar gift that is evident in these pages from page 1 is his ability to evoke place. Here he plunks the reader down for a season in the woods of northern Wisconsin and the waters of Lake Superior. You cannot mistake the setting for these poems as anywhere other than there, positively there, looking up to a very particular high horizon as we travel with him in the opening poem, “Rib Mountain, Wisconsin,” where “the sun, a carpenter, / builds a gold room at the top.” In “Gaywings,” he deftly guides your eye downward to discover “Gaywings bloom in May and into June”; the low-lying flowers are “purple fire / burning between a damp maple leaf / and a fern.” What’s more, he situates you not only in place, but also in time, as you can see in “Gaywings.” It’s not generic spring, not May nor June; the wildflower blooms “in May and into June.” Similarly, we find ourselves in spring’s northern woods in “This May” when we can expect to see “pink // ladyslippers.” The acute specificity of seasons is likewise vividly evident in “Northern Wisconsin,” where and when we view “up close with flowers, the white / bunchberry, the cinnamon / fern under shadespotty sun.” Even if we have no idea what a bunchberry is or have never seen a cinnamon fern, by his use of the significant detail, “shade-spotty,” we know this is young spring — the trees haven’t come into full leaf, their canopies yet admit the sun. This is nature poetry — and poetry of place and time — at its best. I’m also blissed out by the agile way Pobo weaves the human animal into his landscapes. In the gorgeous villanelle, “Loons,” the shy birds “swim so near” and he and his partner who observe them “try to be quiet men.” Man, too, is of nature, correctly not separate from it in Pobo’s works. Thus, in “Minnows under the Boat,” we see “the moon thumbing me / like magazine pages.” Also, his poem’s people have dimension. In “Catherine Taken,” we encounter a woman “waiting to die for decades, / she wears gray dresses, / no pizazz.” Nor does Pobo eschew his homosexuality. Tenderly, he reminds us of what it means to be gay in “Hummingbird and Water Lilies.” “Back then few families would laugh with a gay son / and his partner in public.” Back then, he admits: “My past / crashed into a wall, / no helmet.” But that’s history. To partner Stan on the day of the poem, “my parents enjoy you.” Authentic. Inspiring. Exceedingly well-crafted (Oh, those villanelles!). This is digital-chapbook publishing at its finest: an accomplished poet writing of the world around him with truth and dignity and beauty. Pobo’s poems will endure in our imagination long after Ice and Gaywings passes into the afterlife of cyberspace in its online version . . . or disintegrates to yellow scraps of its former printed self. ***
For those of you who haven’t yet, are you ready now to meet the digital-chapbook dragon? I hope so. Like me, you may not be able to tame it, but you can certainly jump into the saddle and have quite the dramatic ride across the Internet.
For online resources mentioned in the review, visit these URLs: Right Hand Pointing/Bledsoe: http://www.righthandpointing.com/bledsoe/ Red Booth Review/Cadnum: http://redboothreview.blogspot.com/p/michael-cadnum-woman-who-discovered.html Phoenicia Publishing/Pobo: http://www.phoeniciapublishing.com/ice-and-gaywings.html Kindle Cloud Reader: https://read.amazon.com/ Cloud technology: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing (Resources continued on page 80.)
Chapbook, on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chapbook WordPress: http://wordpress.org/ Lulu: http://www.lulu.com/publish/ Wordrunner Electronic Chapbooks: www.echapbook.com TCE April/May 2011/Review of Carty: http://issuu.com/centrifugaleye/docs/tceaprilmay2011-bitter Fearless Books: http://www.fearlessbooks.com/Instructions.htm Radioactive Moat Press: http://www.radioactivemoat.com/thom-james.html Publishing Genius: http://publishinggenius.com/ Scantily Clad: http://scantilycladpress.blogspot.com/ Blossombones: http://www.blossombones.com/winter09/olszewska_w09.html
Column Editor’s Note:
What’s your story behind a poetry book that you’ve read and desire others to read? What path led you to that book? Tell me. Just complete our online Reader Survey. From your stories I’ll select the books and I’ll review them for all our readers in future issues of The Centrifugal Eye. Give me something new to rave about! Survey: http://home.earthlink.net/~tinyviolet/thecentrifugaleyepoetryjournal/id366.html
Award-winning poet, National Park Artist-in-Residence, and assistant editor and book reviewer of The Centrifugal Eye, Karla Linn Merrifield has had work published in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has 8-going-on-9 books to her credit, including Godwit: Poems of Canada, which received the 2009 Andrew Eiseman Writers Award for Poetry, and her new chapbooks, The Urn and The Ice Decides: Poems of Antarctica, from Finishing Line Press. Forthcoming from Salmon Press is her full-length collection Athabaskan Fractal and Other Poems of the Far North. She recently co-edited the Liberty’s Vigil, The Occupy Anthology: 99 Poets among the 99%. You can read more about her and sample her poems and photographs on her blog. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Finishing Line Press: http://www.finishinglinepress.com/ Karla’s Blog: http://karlalinn.blogspot.com
“Reflections on Rummaging” “R E F L E C T I O N S o n R U M M A G I N G” B Y D. J. B R Y A N T This Möbius Strip of Ifs Essays by Mathias B. Freese Wheatmark. 2012 Paper / 186 pages $10.95 US
Mathias B. Freese first appeared in The Centrifugal Eye’s web pages in the form of an anomalous review of short stories from his collection, Down to a Sunless Sea (2007), by TCE staff writer Ocalive Olaopa Mwenda. (Visit TCE’s archives to read Mwenda’s Absence of Light: Quirks of Dark.*) While Matt Freese is not a poet, his stories and essays are often poetic in tone, and this now-retired teacher and psychotherapist has written often on the subject of writing — a theme always welcome in our journal. The essays in This Möbius Strip of Ifs were written over four decades, according to Freese, and many were previously published. The first in this collection, “To Ms. Foley, with Gratitude,” even won the Society of Southwestern Authors Award for personal essay/memoir. To whet your appetites, I’ll reveal that “Ms. Foley” was none other than Martha Foley, editor of The Best American Short Stories series (1941-1977). Recently, This Möbius Strip of Ifs won 2012’s National Indie Excellence Award in the category of non-fiction, and was a finalist for Dan Poynter’s 2012 Global eBooks Awards (Autobiography/Memoirs) . Award-winning or not, what I enjoyed most about Freese’s essay collection, without question, was his storytelling. Even though the essays within are non-fiction, many are descriptive, concrete narratives. They read, sound, feel like stories. From the classroom to the therapist’s couch to the family-shadowed corners of childhood. Freese accredits this “richness” to having “lain down ‘pilings,’ details on which the story’s scaffolding rests.” At almost 200 pages of prose, I’m not about to give you a rundown on all the pieces in Möbius Strip, but if I rummage around a bit and pull out some choice scraps from Freese’s memory bag, you’ll get the drift. Right away, I come up with “Teachers Have No Chance to Give Their Best” (pg. 14). While the essay is meant to be a rant, it’s also an honest telling (and yes, a story) about the state of urban high-school ignorance — concerning English, reading, writing, and especially culture, where many students “are sorely confused about their own ethnicity so as to be misinformed of the heritage of others.” Especially sorry case in point: “No one in the advanced tenth grade English class has the foggiest notion who King Kong is.”
Matt Freese admits a leaning towards Freud (like so many of us), and he’s well-enough read on him to engage us with witty, analytical anecdotes (unlike so many of us who misunderstand or misquote because we haven’t read enough). Freese explores this idea in “Freud’s Cheerful Pessimism” (pg. 27). Other psychologists and psychotherapists will likely agree with Freese when he says “there is much to be said for the analytic approach. All of life is an expression, our expression, to put things into words or to act upon the world. Choose your flavor; I became a writer, others harpoon whales. We all need to make the unconscious conscious, a working definition of psychotherapy that has Freudian salt in it, like a good lox.” And how about Gulliver’s Travels? Think it’s a kid’s story? Freese will have you grinning like a reaper’s scythe as he links Yahoos to bloggers in another rant he refers to as a “howl.” (Personal Posturings: Yahoos as Bloggers, pg. 42.) It is particularly enlightening to discover how literary reviewers, such as myself, are compared to review bloggers — are we so different? Freese thinks we are, if we’re honest and don’t go about “shoving chicken fat” up authors’ asses. Speaking of authors, many of you can relate to the careful crafting decisions we must often make, whether these include selecting a point-of-view, or carving unrelated details or sloppy repetitions from an overripe manuscript. Freese’s essay, “In First-Person” (pg. 51), takes a self-critical and accepting look at his own emblematic choices when it comes to writing and editing his stories. A self-proclaimed tinkerer, he’s learned to wait for his stories’ ends to come to him. Or not. *** The essays I liked most in Möbius Strip have something in common; they include nostalgic and multicolored portraits of family members: Matt Freese’s parents, uncle, grandmother. These remembrances also conjure scenes thick with longing, frustration, and oppressed anger. Freese refers to his upbringing as one of “benign neglect,” not from a lack of wants or needs, but “a lack of mothering and fathering.” Still, his parents influence heavily the texture of his writing here. “Trains = Holocaust and Other Observations, Railfans” (pg. 63) explains Freese’s obsession today with trains and scale models — and how this interconnects with a decision his father made over 50 years ago. In “Grandma Fanny” (pg. 150), we get to meet his maternal grandmother who was a wayfarer and hoarder, never content to stay for long in any one place, but full of unexpected charms when it suited her. And there are other characters among these essays. Wives, daughters, a son. Freese opens up, maybe sometimes telling more than you want to hear, other times just enough to flood you with empathy. *** What was least appealing to me in Möbius Strip was a consistent, mud-dark bitterness that flowed unceasingly from Freese after some of his “howls” hit their crescendos. I can understand degrees of animosity and frustration, especially in light of negative life experiences, but sometimes it overwhelmed my appreciation for the “stories.” I’m not a shallow reader, by any means, and I don’t shy from confessional writing. Yet, I wasn’t a fan of what sounded like potential grudges and unresolved anger that might be skewing Freese’s point of view. Isn’t this a matter of personal tastes, though? Rightly so. Matt Freese echoes what many of us writers and poets think, feel, and hope to express in our writing as we continue to head, irreversibly, into our twilight years. Sure, yeah, some of us are frustrated, angry, even disgusted with the state of the world. And it’s going to show some of the time.
*** If you enjoy essays on cultural icons, books, and movies, you’ll like the section called “Metaphorical Noodles,” which noodles about a number of theater and screen actors; and “Babbling Brooks and Motion Pictures” (pg. 112) is essentially a biographical essay of books and stories that impacted Freese’s thinking. He’s got some informative things to say that might lead you to your next good read. Or write. Freese ends this collection with an essay on something I’m prone to do every time I move house or clean out my files: “rummaging.” You know, it’s where you start sorting papers from folders or boxes that are at least 4-25 years old with the intent to “clean out.” You get through a few pages of a typed document, and then you come across a couple of torn, handwritten notesheets of quotes or quickly-jotted lines of poetry, an old letter you saved for some sentimental reason— and you go sit down and start to read them all instead of tossing them. For you writers, it is often more important to find and re-examine those keepsake scraps than it is to actually “clean out” your office or desk. Freese’s “Reflections on Rummaging” surely bears this out, although my wife would probably be more impressed by a neater office.
Dallas (D. J.) Bryant is a U.S. West-Coast photographer, graphic artist, critic, and occasional poet. He’s been a part-time staff contributor and reviewer for The Centrifugal Eye since 2005. Some of his works can still be found in the TCE Archives: http://home.earthlink.net/~centrifugaleye/id1.html
Exploring the Terrain of Head Lands
E X P L OR I N G th e TE R R A I N o f H EA D LAN D S BY BRENDA
L EVY T ATE
Head Lands Poems by Philip Quinlan White Violet Press, 2012 Paper / 48 Pages $14 US
Many contemporary poets' names are not positioned at the forefront of our literary awareness, yet now and then, we encounter a fresh talent who demands recognition. It is my pleasure to introduce the most recent work of one such writer, whose new collection clearly merits attention. While this book might possess greatest appeal to admirers of formalist writing, it also offers sufficient variety to please many free-verse fans. Philip Quinlan might justifiably be termed a master of his craft, yet I hesitate to bestow this title upon him, because one definition of "craft" implies artifice and there is no artifice here. While he is more than conversant with poetic devices and comfortable with their use, he does not rely on them for communication. Quinlan's voice is authentic, his poetry honest. He marshals his considerable resources in the service of this authenticity. As a result, his words are subtly calculated to elicit the reader's response, yet this calculation bears no hint of manipulative image-mongering. Head Lands is a magnificent book. I'm eager to read it through again. The collection opens with the delightful “Idyll,” which, as its title implies, affords a respite from the urban world. "Idyll" is what I might term immersive poetry, which permits the reader to enter its tranquility as one might slip into an unknown-but-enticing pool. It soothes, yet there is potential for disturbance beneath the water's brightness. This possibility establishes a theme that meanders throughout the book:
Make moor and marsh and mere be still at evening-fall, and this the first air ever breathed.
Quinlan reveals a deft touch with alliteration, which can prove disastrous to the efforts of lessskilled writers and test those of the most accomplished. In "Idyll," it is used to wondrous effect. When such sonic devices are combined with the iambics (trimeter, tetrameter), the aural impression is riveting. I am reminded of Dylan Thomas — a celebration of sound itself. Rhyme — usually appreciated by the reader who enjoys a more formal approach — is integrated unobtrusively, often within enjambed lines.
the petty works of men be seen as passing things and not fit for the memory; let sett and burrow, den set free their spirits, then day’s end be comforting
The poem concludes with a departure into pentameter, opening with a spondee that piques the reader's interest: "North parts, and thriving in a cooler clime." I quite like the unexpected bravery of the change. It signals a poet with both daring and intelligence. Metrical shifts occur in his other works, as well. The contemporary sonnet, "Figures," moves easily from iambic tetrameter to pentameter, back and forth. And his imagery evokes with clarity both a Rodin drawing and the living woman it suggests. I suspect that Quinlan is either a painter or photographer. He is obviously knowledgeable in both of these areas:
Beyond geometry, the freehand line retraces the inflections of her spine and takes you, with the frisson of a theft, to where hyperboles of swell become the tangent of a cleft.
Finding unique subject matter in formal poetry is far from an easy search. Yet to any audience inclined to view such poetry as restricted in scope, Quinlan offers ample proof to the contrary. In "My Own Private Video," he draws upon the American West to supply his theme, with a passing nod to Samuel Butler:
A killer stalks the road, he has a gun. Gas stations show those swinging signs: No Gas; No Vacancies at Hotel Erewhon.
I can't help but reread this poem, three times thus far. It is, in one sense, a descriptive piece about setting. However, the setting is internalized — the Badlands of the mind. Disappointment, Texas, is an aptly-named locale and I have scuffed my boots along this same, dry road. Triple meter — not always utilized to good effect by contemporary formalists — is likewise included within this collection. Once was a wisher; a wicked will winnows. Glean the reaped field finding fragments and shadows, sometimes a reminder. Here, too, the unwinder, unweaver of reason; the older, the graver, and going a given. (“Under the Weather”)
I find myself nodding my head in time to the strong dactylic rhythms reminiscent of classical epic narratives and incorporating several of their hallmarks, from alliterative sequences to syntactical structures. And, of course, the beat of the meter. Ending with a truncated foot and feminine rhyme further emphasizes these similarities. However, Quinlan is not merely Tennyson with a twist; the poet has reshaped the form to suit his own ends. His insertion of additional space, central to each line, creates effective cues for pauses. Although the poet's formal work is the foundation around which this collection has been built, readers who are free-verse adherents might well appreciate that formal poetry is capable of great flexibility. Yet Quinlan's skills encompass an even broader perspective; he is adept at other forms and offers as evidence the stunning "America" — a tour de force of observations and imagery (some of it contradictory, as is the nature of the beast under discussion). Sandburg would surely have approved this effort: “O, my America, from which the clouds / and currents come, / I have a dream of certitude— / sometimes we know too much, imagining the rest.” There is, of course, little certitude in tracing one's own history.
Skip to an Ella song, . . . in Birdland, Birdland, Birdland . . . over and over on the scratchy, cracked shellac; the unknown word translated long after the fact.
In the process of researching familial connections, much is gleaned serendipitously. It relates to the quest, yet we must take some time to realize its relationship. "Translated long after the fact," indeed — which permits us to invent details, to get the stories wrong. Yet the poet is content to wonder and allow his imagination free rein. “How did the tree divide?” he asks, not really expecting any type of reply. Such rhetorical questioning might have come from a universal genealogist, who cannot find the definitive answer but never stops looking for it. The one odd note in this particular piece is the inclusion of a reference to New-found-land, and the loss of the Titanic. While the ship may have been destined to dock in New York, the province of Newfoundland is most certainly not part of America. As a Canadian reader, I must admit to quirking an eyebrow when I read this passage. Yet, examined in context, the poem is about exploration and a tracery of lineage. Many passengers on the doomed liner were in fact American, bound for home and family. Sometimes, the backward track as we research our past will be deflected or even dissolved. “Perhaps it is to reach for meanings,” the poet muses in “Ballerina.” Sadly, one's reach may fall far short of one's grasp. What strikes my particular fancy with much of Quinlan's work is his keen ear for cadence, even in the vers libre he has included in the collection. The syllables rise and fall in tidal rhythm; we need not count them to intuit their underlying structure. This is freedom within careful boundaries — paradoxical, perhaps, yet not unsuccessful. Because the poet establishes these parameters, his poems never "get away from him" like horses bolting from a pasture. There is a sense of cohesiveness. A reader can relax and relish the music within the lines, such as this passage from “Moving Inland”:
Shiver, now, shiver; like moon-frosted dune-rake, we’re thinking of moving inland for the winter; there’s nothing to do. A question of seabirds the wind took, says: Gone, now, forever.
Exquisite writing; such poetry must be spoken, not merely lifted from the flat terrain of paper. I am tempted to beg Quinlan, "Record this and share it with us." Yet for all its wondrous musicality, the ending sounds a darker note. This is a poet who is unafraid to step away from light, beyond mere prettiness, where the formless dark may be disquieting and loss cannot be reversed. Any good photographer understands the dramatic value of shadows. “It’s dawn, of course. 400 ISO, / low light; high contrast goes against the grain / in white and black” (from "Pictures at an Extradition"). "Pictures” is an unnerving study in which the subject's portrait is open to judgment — informed or otherwise. The faces of guilt sometimes betray little except a monochrome gaze, on which an onlooker confers his own assessment. Photographers understand circumstances; viewers are forced to draw their own conclusions. This is, in fact, one of my favorite pieces. Philip Quinlan's milieu is a world that slides back and forth along a continuum of meaning and illogic. It's a place where, in “A Red Dress, Falling,” a woman plunges to her death to escape a loveless existence: “A red dress? Falling through the air, / with false immodesty she dove; / it wasn't that she didn't care— / she sought the void, devoid of love.” In so doing, she gains a certain notoriety. We are drawn to falls, to The Fall, to the absolute abandonment of hope. Yet Quinlan sees in this a certain irony, as if we are somehow augmented by others' frailties. Somehow made more powerful by witnessing weakness. In “A Small Matter,” he brings mordant humor to bear on a bleak subject, and conveys it through repetitive end rhyme that in less skilled hands would become annoying or at least ineffective. Here, it is a brilliant honing of the skewer:
A fragile marriage? or the credit squeeze? a debt unpayable? a hint of sleaze? a loss of face? In villages like these, the wonderers whisper in telegraphese. The foxes found him hanging in the trees.
As noted earlier, the formalist Quinlan is wreathed in his own bright corona. His remarkable diction is admirably suited to the demands of meter, consistent line length, stanzaic structure and rhyme when he chooses to incorporate it. Any author who could create such an elegant image as “a grail of rain” deserves to be read and talked about! From “Learning to Paint Clouds”:
Only the necessary things remain: plain parchment, candle flame, a quill of water from a grail of rain;
Imagery and allusive references relating to visual art are interwoven among many of the poems in this collection. Painting in particular is a leitmotif to which Quinlan returns again and again. There is a lovely congruence between the act of coloring a canvas and the act of evoking a verbal scene in all its rich textures and hues: “Fish fly in filtered light, / see only nameless ocean; / all my wrecks are reefs.” (“When Light Obscures”) And who could resist the glorious language of the following lines from “After the Harvest”? Certainly not I. The poet lures me into "a room lamp-litten by the spill-fire, / late summer thunder coming.” Then he speaks of a gathering that embraces more than crops:
After the days of calculation, timing the cutting to the flood: unreckoned love, endurance in light of lesser longing; the waste haulmed up, ignited, interred, the plough infolding.
One does not see such words as “haulmed” and “infolding” in much of modern poetry. Few could use them without being accused of preciousness. Yet here, they fit so well that one cannot suggest any sort of replacement. Diction lends a firm sense of place. This is a poet who knows whereof he speaks; a writer who likewise knows that his reader will walk the distance with him. “Head Lands,” the title poem of the collection, has its own verbal allure. Again, this is meant to be delivered aloud. It gains great power through being voiced. The sibilance entices one's ear like wind, or the voices of the sea. The metrical element augments the sonic dance:
in heatwaves mad as mercury quicksilverings of song the single singer of the sun imaginating altitude
We open every new book with feelings of both optimism and trepidation. Will it please? Will it disgruntle or — worse — be dropped onto the I-can't-finish-this pile? As Mr. Quinlan explains in his autobiographical notes, he "lives in England and perpetual hope." Every writer who commits himself to a project does so with abundant hope that it will be well-received. Quinlan need hope no more, at least not as regards Head Lands. I salute him as a poet whose work surpasses all my initial expectations. When I encounter several pieces that cause me to mutter, "Wish I'd written that," then I know I'll return to them. He has “willed (me) into (his) imagined scene” (borrowed from “At One”), like a seer's apprentice whose vision expands with each shared experience.
This archipelago of skeletons remains, as if the sleepers were somnambulant. I think of those, once sunk, resurfacing, returning, having delved so deep they lay unfathomed by the leaden bell, but I have been too long at sea and they are never coming back. (â€œOn Soundingsâ€?)
Is this not a most remarkable passage? Unlike Quinlan's skeletons, I most definitely plan to come back. His poetry will withstand multiple exposures, and I shall never tire of reading it.
Brenda Levy Tate is the author of three poetry collections: Cleansing (Rising Tide Press, 2005); Beeline (Lopside Press, 2007); Wingflash (Pink Petticoat Press, 2011). She was chosen by IBPC (Interboard Poetry Community, Web del Sol) as one of their top ten poets of the past decade and is a former winner of the Coles-Smithbooks National Book Review Competition (Canada). Her work appears in numerous print and online journals. Brenda lives in southwestern Nova Scotia, Canada, with three cats, a dog, and an array of gardens. Brenda Levy Tate at Poets & Writers Online: http://www.pw.org/content/brenda_levy_tate
The Centrifugal Eye’s Digital Data & Publishing Details : The Latest News & Guides
Press Releases Contributor Harry Calhoun’s new chapbook of love poems, How Love Conquers the World, is now available from Flutter Press. “The beautiful cover is by British graphic artist Tiffany Lynch and has to be seen to be believed,” says Calhoun. Visit http://www.flutterpress.webs.com/ Karla Linn Merrifield has received the Dr. Sherwin Howard Award for the best poetry published in Weber — The Contemporary West in 2012, which carries a $500 prize. Martin Willitts, Jr.’s new book, The Heart Knows Simply What it Needs: Poems Based on Emily Dickinson, Her Life, Her Poetry is brand new from Aldrich Press and is available at Amazon.com. The late Hugh Fox will be honored with readings from his posthumous book, Primate Fox, at the Carol Novack Christmas-Hannukah-Kwanzaa-Solstice-andAtheists-Who-Love-to-Party Tribute Party on December 8 at 7 p.m. at 285 East Third Street, Second Floor, in New York City; the event is free. Bill Yarrow will be among the readers. Michelle Hartman’s book, Disenchanted and Disgruntled, from Lamar University Press is due out any time as of TCE’s press date, and will be available soon from Barnes & Noble and at Amazon.com. Denise Calvetti’s first book of poetry, Rustling Wrens, about family and culture, has been published by Cave Moon Press. Purchase of the book will help with the work of nonprofit Solid Ground to support families. Order from http://www.cavemoonpress.truepath.com/ David-Matthew Barnes has a new novel, The Jetsetters (Bold Strokes Books), which is available in paperback and eBook at Amazon.com. Lynn Hoffman’s first collection, Boom! poems for a certain generation, is out from Thunderclap Press, available now through Lulu.com. Contributor Jennifer Clark’s first collection of poems, Necessary Clearings (Shabda Press), is slated for publication in 2014. Lynn Strongin’s newest, Bread of the Angels, was reported erroneously in our last issue as Bread of the Waters. Visit Ravenna Press for Angels: http://www.ravennapress.com/books/title.php?tid=10031
Back Issues The Centrifugal Eye has been around for 7 years and much of the work published during that time is still available in our online archives, or is currently being collected into an anthology. During the past 31/2 years, all but one of the issues has also been made available as a print-on-demand edition through Lulu.com. If you’d like to peruse our archives or pick up print copies, please visit these sites: Archives http://home.earthlink.net/~centrifugaleye/index.html
Centrifuge/Special Projects http://home.earthlink.net/~centrifuge/
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Submissions If you are a poet, essayist, reviewer or artist, and you think that your work may be a match for us, please visit our guidelines page on TCE’s website. Submission Guidelines http://home.earthlink.net/~tinyviolet/thecentrifugaleyepoetryjournal/id5.html
Back Cover Art: “S P I N Y D E T A I L S” Karla Linn Merrifield is a photographer, as well as a poet and review columnist. She lives in Kent, NY. Read Karla’s poems on pages 62 -63 and her review column on pages 74-79.
â€œSpiny Detailsâ€? by Karla Linn Merrifield, 2012
An online poetry journal of literary force to experience C poetry, essays, interviews, book reviews, and illustrations of an exhilarating na...
Published on Nov 7, 2012
An online poetry journal of literary force to experience C poetry, essays, interviews, book reviews, and illustrations of an exhilarating na...