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Best Thing I’ve Read Today: Susana Gardner

20 Sep

susana-gardnerYesterday at the online journal Similar Peaksan excerpt from Susana Gardner’s poem “Lamia,” which works through Keats’ version of the Greek myth, went live. In the editor’s introduction to the poem, Carleen Tibbetts writes that the piece addresses “manifestations of longing and nostalgia,” all the while examining the “unforgiving passage of time” through a series of “bold linguistic leaps” and a “fierce mastery” of the line.

Here are the poem’s opening lines:

There are illustrations of want in light.
Light-work again and again moves through mossy trees.

Through ice.

There are trees. There are trees. Heavy magnolias offered fat
On out-cupped branches, palms. Branched. Paper-lanterns.
Laden bounteous laden raw–beauty
Some see only indifference in the gender-heavt sky.

There are poets.

Masked-poets. Poets who beg indifference.
Who fly into the night.
Who live–drunk against New Time.

O ruby.

To read more about Susana Gardner, her poems, and her poetics, check out the interview I conducted with her last May for Vouched Books.

Best Thing I’ve Read Today: Kelin Loe in NOÖ Weekly

2 Sep

Recently, that old scoundrel Nick Sturm put together his own version of a NOÖ Weekly, testing the flex and the stretch of us all with a hunk of long poems and series.

And there I saw this intense oomph from Kelin Loe. It goes like a mighty wildfire. Wow. It made me walk laps and sweat. That’s a good thing. Kelin has a great way of talking is the best I can say it.

clydesdales , hot dogs and dollar shots  —  meet me here OR no oven mitts on fire in here ! ! !

i will make these lasagnas in 15 minutes wearing nothing but those panties !

tracing my umbrella now. how the rib meets the rod is unclear .

penises hanging everywhere and nobody is worried but me   !


! ! !


somebody please quit making out in the library it sounds like eating stew !! and please tell me if i need to poop or otherwise —

been eating cereal like its meal so much corn and so much time to eat the corn and grind grind and i believe you followed the trail of sugar to find me yesterday so

HERE    I    AM    , HONEY POT ! ! !

i keep opening the internet like there is food in there  .


! ! !


before my husband was my husband i learned that men don’t wipe after number one  .

and, as an aviator , how do you feel about my relationship with my husband ? ??

can you or can you not see it ? ?

please is it made of MATTER HOW much can it mean ? ?

banana bag !   NOW !!  and a middle-aged man to tell me FACTS  .


! ! !

Caroline Cabrera told us all about Kelin and her goodness back in this interview, remember? If we weren’t paying attention yet, now’s the time, okay?

Check out more great sprawling stuff from Mike Krutel, Matthew Yeager, S.E. Smith, and more in that issue, too!


Best Thing I’ve Read Today: James Meetze

27 Aug

meetzeOutside of posting on Vouched Books and periodically checking my email, I’ve managed to stay away from the Internet this summer. While avoiding an online presence has done wonders for my anxiety levels, self-esteem, and general all-round demeanor, it also has caused me, unfortunately, to miss out on a lot of wonderful poetry online.

Now that summer is coming to a close and I’m no longer transient, the nefarious Internet is grabbing me once again with it’s vicious little death claws. As a way to counteract the psychic pain that no doubt will ensue, I’ve been trying to catch up on some online reading.

One gem I stumbled upon is James Meetze’s poem “Dark Art 7,” which The Offending Adam published on 28 May 2013. The poem begins with the lines:

I can say dark because I know
how light happens; every filament
burns toward its end like we do.
Even the biggest stars
their projections in the dark
are waiting to be pulled into the hat.

The entirety of this piece is a terrific meditation on art, poetry, magic, and astronomy; and, in his introductory notes, editor Andrew Wessels writes of the poem: “The magic of this language conjures a new reality rather than a new fantasy.”

If you like the poem, be sure to check out Meetze’s collection Dayglo, which won Ahsahta Press’ 2010 Sawtooth Prize. To get a better sense of what’s going on in the book, follow the hot-link to an old review I wrote at Shawn Kemp Car Wash.

Best Thing I’ve Read Today: “Harvest Moon Bracket Bracket”

22 Aug

whiskeyislandavi2I returned to Cleveland, OH the other day–after spending the summer crisscrossing the country–and found a stack of goodies waiting for me at my temporary address. One of these treats happened to be my contributor’s copies of the new issue of Whiskey Island, Cleveland State University’s literary journal.

Issue sixty-two contains a plethora of wonderful writers: fiction from by the likes of Alissa Nutting, James Tadd Adcox, and Roxane Gay; and poetry by such writers as Carrie Lorig, Joshua Young, Stephen Danos, Nick Courtright, Laura Carter, Nate Pritts, Nate Slawson, Vouched Books’ Tyler Gobble, and Joshua Kleinberg.

While there is a load of fine writing in the issue, one poem really stood out for me: Russ Woods’ “Harvest Moon Bracket Bracket.” Here is the poem in its entirety:

harvest moon [] juice-colored like
a coughing spell [] caster found in
the snow buried [] harvest moon you
in the morning [] time i try to jog daily
but i haven’t done [] it once yet harvest
moon moon moon [] moon moon moon
you are still asleep [] in my bed good lord
harvest moon pimped [] out and steady holding
you heard above [] water in the time we’ve
got left in us for [] anything at all harvest
moon moon grows [] finds new shows on
net flicks ones [] to spend weeks with
harvest moon porn [] stashed in deep deep
folders not telling you [] where not telling harvest
moon we all are singing [] larger than life like
we’re eleven we are [] eleven not like that but
like a harvest moon [] driving overnight to
see you and fight [] sleep as we screw too
late moon late moon [] moon moon harvest (69)

Sure, the repetition of words and internal rhyme provide a pulsing, almost seductive rhythm; and the brackets offer a visual twist that prompts readers to consider form more throughly. But what I really enjoy about this poem is the manner in which Woods uses one of poetry’s stock images (i.e. the moon) and infuses it with vitality through the inclusion of contemporary slang (e.g. “pimped out”) and timely references (e.g. NetFlix and internet porn).

You can order a copy of Whiskey Island 62 here.

Best Thing I’ve Read Today: 48 Pornos

13 Aug provides several definitions of a circle jerk. The most common (and literal) definition is when “a group of males sit in a circle, jerking each other off.” There is, though, and alternate definition, which is the “practice of expressing emotions, feelings, and…sentiments as a means of bonding or gaining appreciation for the members of your team.”

Both definitions of circle jerk are apropos in the case of this review of Tyler Gobble’s 48 Pornos (Safety Third Enterprises, 2013). On the one hand, Gobble’s chapbook contains brief prose blocks that describe the scripts for a series of imaginary pornos; on the other hand, Gobble also contributes to Vouched Books. Regardless of what definition of circle jerk you choose to use, a masturbatory specter most definitely haunts this review.

As mentioned, these prose poems present an outline for forty-eight different pornos, each one opening with the phrase “Get this”; take, for example, the following:

Get this: A man at the bar wins the contest for eating the most cockroaches. His prize: He gets to fuck The Cockroach Queen. She is draped across the table on which he won. And below her, he is dying. He apparently is allergic to shellfish. Those last two parts are not in the script. (3)


Get this: A woman opens her legs and out stumbles two overfed roosters. A man in flannel beheads the roosters. The man invites the woman over for dinner. After dinner, they fuck, but it’s a really short scene. (7)

The chapbook proceeds in this fashion, offering readers vignette after vignette of increasingly bizarre scripts. While some of the poems read like they actually could be pornos, the most unbelievable and preposterous scripts tend to be the most interesting.

In this sense, the collection seems to be less intent on titillating or the constructing an erotic tableaux, and more interested in creating an absurd landscape populated with surreal images wherein people happen to be engaged in various sexcapades. To this extent, the poems in 48 Pornos can act as a catalyst for a more in-depth critique (or at least they broach questions about) the proliferation of niche and fetish cultures in our digital, Internet-based age.

Furthermore, the collection also seems to suggest an overlap between the pornography and celebrity industries. With actors that “look like” (10) pop culture icons such as Jeff Gordon, Bon Jovi, Jesus, Garth Brooks, and LL Cool J, it’s difficult not to read these poems as a commentary on the manner in which we fetishize images of cultural icons and entertainers. Which begs the question: are magazines such as US Weekly and websites like TMZ pornography in their own right?

If you’re interested in issues such as these, or just want to read poems about clouds and/or dudes in g-strings fucking each other, order a copy of 48 Pornos today.

Best Thing I’ve Read Today: Bluets series at Big Other by Edward Mullany

8 Aug

I stepped away from Big Other (post-giving up on Reader) for a few months, and look what happens! I missed this great bitty series by Edward Mullany, “bluets,” twelve number sketches + micro dab of story, linked and lovely. Like that story you know of the dude on the train who encounters weird and baffling and exciting people on the train and in a bar on the way home to his girlfriend. Except totally not, okay. Pieced together like this, it burns REALITY into the space between us (you and me, Mullany and you, guy and me, weird people on the train and other weird people on the train, etc.) more than anything I’ve read in awhile. Toggle here and feel.

Best Thing I’ve Read Today: “Scouting” by Danielle Pieratti at Sixth Finch

31 Jul

Quick! Let’s play Two Truths and a Lie:

1. Sixth Finch is one of the coolest journals on the interwebs (and yes yes, I remind this site of that every issue).

2. I once hiked across the entire interwebs carrying only a rooster.

3. “Scouting” by Danielle Pieratti is the best thing I’ve read today.

Best Thing I’ve Read Today: “In first grade” by Andrew J. Khaled Madigan

26 Jul

Over at Hobart Andrew J. Khaled Madigan has five poems, all of which are scrappy and deadpan and thoughtful, but this particular one is a total slam dunk. (I couldn’t help but read it aloud on the porch, accompanied by the comic-ugly whining of goats.)  It recounts said first grade kids making a booklet about their dads to show to the class, and how the narrator decides to portray his father. A chunk:

There was a flag
on either side of him
and one of those executive

pens sets front and center.
On the next page
I drew a picture

of my dad holding
a rifle and another guy
with bullet holes

all over his body. Since
he was Vietnamese
I made him wear one

of those triangular hats
with the chin strap.

The ending stanza is flawless.  Head on over to Hobart to check it out.

Best Thing I’ve Read Today: Same-Day Resolution

10 Jul

The other day Boston Review published Trey Moody’s poem “Same-Day Resolution,” wherein the poet lets us know that:

clouds filled with weather
and skies filled

with clouds. As each
offers a separate perspective
my brain’s consoled only
on both sides.

Click the hot-link in the above title to read the rest of the poem.

Best Thing I’ve Read Today: W.M. Lobko at Phantom Limb

9 Jul

A quick hello, check this out. “Hand-Picked in the Dead of Night” by W.M. Lobko pulses so clearly and intricately that they seem just like that, chosen by the light of a new moon. Take a chance and bask in the beauty of this poem, or “Snap/them off & they’re yours.”

Here’s the beginning:

A ballroom built of chalices & eagles.

You arrive as they’re changing the candles
to moons.

My negotiations with their gravity wells

are intricate as a cello
I don’t know how to play

but love to touch. Oil on my fingers

I am learning unfurls a mask
of polychrome

across a canyon. Down in the wash,
two silhouettes

pulse in the ash.

Check out the rest here.