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crudely mistaken for life "Wolfgang Carstens debuts here with a rock solid collection of poems where you can sense the presence of the viscera under the blood-coated muscle that is the text. And yet the poems are surprisingly gentle and nostalgic sometimes, sometimes angry, sometimes philosophical, sometimes funny. Not so much a traditional anthology of poems as a manifesto and statement of intent combined with a dissertation on life and the sort of things that are deserving in it, love, loyalty, and the forgotten child inside. Poems to read in all seasons, but especially when winter storms howl outside." - David McLean

from the inside

uttering of a curse Steve committed suicide when he was only eight years old. Blair took his life ten years later. Wade did it when he was twenty-one, after catching his wife in bed with another man.

he stands in a moon beam and stares at me i try to catch him but he darts beneath the unwashed clothes

my own botched attempt happened when i was twenty-three and my mind, like a porcelain vase, dropped and shattered into fragments on the ground.

he disappears under the floorboards the cockroach is like death scratching through these thin walls to make his play at the property

Exterior by Pablo Vision

now, while playing with my kids at the park i listen as a mother consoles her child with the words, "you have your entire life ahead of you.� the same words my own mother used to say to me. only today i recognize these words for what they truly are – not words of encouragement or consolation, but rather the uttering of a curse.

"Wolf Carstens' poetry reads like cries from the void. He is the master at uncovering old scars and turning them into the raw poetry of all the dark fathers and the primal dreams." - Todd Moore



crudely mistaken for life for art's sake

i was daydreaming

in 1968, somewhere on the outskirts of Wildwood, Alberta, a large gray Timber wolf killed a large caribou.

when i stumbled upon the large Australian cockroach on our driveway

a passing Grizzly bear thought the caribou looked tasty, so it chased off the wolf, buried the kill, and claimed it as its own. the Grizzly defended the carcass against two wolverines that decided to make a play for the meat. this is a true story – the scene is on stuffed display in the wildlife museum in Jasper, Alberta. the only thing missing from the display is the stuffed corpse of the dumbass hunter who stumbled upon this small drama of flesh and murdered everything.

"Watching acme safes fall slowly from the sky… death as random and meaningless as life, only the moment is real so better have that laugh or that orgasm or that shot of life right now… that’s how i felt reading wolfgang carsten’s excellent collection, crudely mistaken for life, and it is actually a quite liberating feeling.” – Puma Perl

i scooped it up in an empty paper cup and brought it inside the house i remember my wife screaming bloody murder before i had even showed it to her she must have sensed its presence but that's how it goes... one night you're sitting alone on the couch watching TV when suddenly bugs arrive to eat you up



crudely mistaken for life missing in Canada when i was younger i stuffed some clothes into a backpack and boarded a Greyhound bus with a rail pass and no particular destination. i didn't tell anyone that i was leaving; i had no intention of returning – i wanted to disappear. as the bus carried me across Canada it stopped in many small prairie towns where i'd light a cigarette in front of shop windows and study faces on missing person posters. once i recognized one of the faces – it was the photo of a young man that worked as a cashier in a gas station in one of the small towns in which we'd stopped. the man was neither missing nor dead nor in any kind of distress whatsoever – in fact he appeared happy and healthy – apparently the only foul play involved was his own desire to go missing in Canada. here is a man much like myself, i thought, as i entered the shop and put the poster inside my backpack. i found out two months later that my ex-girlfriend was pregnant – so not wanting to be like my own deadbeat father i jumped on a bus to take me back home into the city of my birth. as i passed again through that small prairie town i entered the gas station, handed the poster to the young man behind the register and smiled – “it's too late for me man,” i said, “but for what it's worth i hope they never fucking find you.”

“CRUDELY MISTAKEN FOR LIFE is a book of poetry that uses darkness to get to the light. More than that, it is one of those rare books in which the darkness is the light.” – Tony Moffeit chipping away what would've happened, i wonder, if i'd been a part of the Napoleonic regiment of soldiers that stood in the sands of the Sahara; and gazed upon the great Sphinx: would i have embraced the vision of the mysterious man-beast of Egypt? or, as is customary with humanity encountering anything that defies our understanding, would i have packed a steel ball into the barrel of my musket and taken aim – just to chip away at the mystery.

"Wolfgang Carstens paints elegant images with intense brushes, uncovering the roots of madness, inhumanity and sorrow in his poetry. there are lines and images as stark as the desert and as delicate as fresh blooms of spring flowers. Carstens goes places you don't want to follow, but, inevitably you do (and for the better). this is poetry, rich, full and brimming with life, even that wrought from the darkest corners.” – Jack Henry



crudely mistaken for life $15.50

crudely mistaken for life is available now through Small Press Distribution at or by addressing Small Press Distribution, 1341 Seventh Street, Berkeley, CA, 94710-1409. Phone 510.524.1668 or 800.869.7553 (Toll-free within the US). E-mail

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