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Best Thing I’ve Read Today: As We All Change / Love Symbol Press

24 Sep

Love Symbol Press, which started as the books arm of the resolutely web one-point-oh online journal Red Lightbulbs, announced a few days ago that they’ll be putting the press on indefinite hiatus:

We have no current plans to continue with it from here on out, though there is a possibility that sometime in the future, (possibly years from now) we will decide to reopen it. Our reasons for this are simple: we felt like we didn’t have the time or energy to do these works justice, and the work began to feel more like guilt about how little we were doing. We want to just be writers for awhile and focus on our own projects and our own lives.

(For those of us living in Chicago, this was a double blow, since LSP runs Poetry Made of Diamonds, one of the most reliably awesome reading series in town, now, like the press, on hiatus.)

In addition to the three fantastic print books they put out, LSP offered some of the most beautifully-designed echaps around. They’re all free, and available for download, and I can’t recommend enough that you take advantage of this.

In honor/memoriam, I’ve been reading As We All Change, by Wyatt Sparks and Kate Erikson. As We Change is a collaborative text, a long poem in five parts composed of words and photographs. The text is interested in the vast and the emptied, the myth and the death of myth:

and I wasn’t there
and you weren’t there
and everyone we talk about
wasn’t their either

“CHAOS,” we are told, “begins to assume a form / and it looks like a couple.” The couple that is to propagate this newly emptied earth, as in any good myth, is incestuous and full of violence: “If we were the last two humans / I would break my teeth / so that you’d have something pretty to wear.” From this coupling, monsters and gods: Medusa, Morpheus, Arachne, Apollo. The poem itself becomes a journey, through middle-America, through swamplands and along highways, finally to the underworld:

now they realize
they’re dead
and twist into sick
fantasies of themselves
for each other.

The electronic medium works to the book’s advantage, I think: Rather than seeing a spread of pages, so that a given photograph appears next to a given page of text, the photographs and the pages of text spring forward singly, each claiming its own precise moment. Reading As We All Change is a succession of minor shocks: a sudden empty sky, a sudden almost-empty page.

Best Thing I Read This Week: “How To Be Sincere In Your Poetry” Workshop by Roberto Montes

9 Sep

Over at NAP, now NAP University Online, each day presents a new lesson from Roberto Montes in “How To Be Sincere In Your Poetry” Workshop. And thank goodness, it appears it’ll continue! There’s not much more to say besides check out Day 1 (and all of last week’s lessons), get caught up, and don’t be late again.

Everyone sits around a hat filled with names. The instructor explains that she will select two names from the hat and the first name will have to earnestly hug the second name. The instructor begins selecting names from the hat.

All of the names are the instructor’s name.

The instructor hugs herself again and again and with passion.

The first person to leave the room sobbing gets an A.

The Best Thing I’ve Read This Week: Corium Magazine

5 Sep

The Summer issue of always-delightful Corium was released Tuesday, and what a treat to find that Ravi Mangla is guest editor for this issue, what a complement to Lauren Becker’s exquisite collecting skills! Ravi is no stranger to the Vouched website or to our hearts, and he’s put together such a collection of smart and meloncholy bits of literary fireworks that you will read on with a building fever! You will read on with gusto! You’ll hope for more of the same and you’ll delight in not finding it. What’s more, he has arranged the issue in reverse alphabetical order, because Ravi Mangla is endlessly charming.

Inside is a solid set of stories and poetry that will tickle your bones in their most comfortable, knobbiest places, unpeel you like fifty heads of lettuce. They’ll scratch something underneath your bored cartilage, excite that basal ganglia nosegay of memory, make you want to get up and walk around with these words.

Look, for example, at a few lines of James Westoff’s “Dog Farm,” which starts you right out with a funny heartbeat and keeps surprising you along:

At one point, my father estimated we had over six hundred dogs.


We never talked about why. We usually just talked about how we could get more dogs. It was this thing in my family, our mission. Every morning at breakfast each went over his or her plan for that day. Here’s how I’m going to get some dogs.

Then there’s the painted beauty of Ashley Farmer’s stories, which remind me of a lovely Soviet ruin-porn website I’ve been frequenting, minus the social guilt. Just look at “Happy Hour,” printed here in its entirety:

In the city I find more city. Deer vault from parking structure to parking structure. When I jangle my keys they tremble near concrete beams. It is so wild when the building shakes. I use my arms to protect myself. I avoid mirrors, filing cabinets, windows. In an emergency, the carpet beneath my desk becomes desert. I sift it for miles and I sweat through my jacket like an animal. My shoes are crammed with sand.

One day a train parked in the lobby, an accidental renovation of smoke and glass and crushed black granite. My neighbor stepped from the train. He stepped through shards of his reflection then through mine, his face alive and tan. Happy hour began happening at the nearest outdoor assembly points, but who was smiling? Then the girders and skylights assembled again. They began their slow repair, just like us. Then neared repair. Nearer and nearer. Repairing.

Or maybe read these lines taken from Jim Ruland’s very short fiction “[Not] [So] [Long] [Ago]”

The forest is so beautiful.

It is old and the trees soar and the soil ticks with blood.

There are birds and then… something else.

It starts as a whine and grows louder and louder until the barely audible complaint transforms into a thunderous howl that shatters the silence.

[A] [      ] [      ] [     ] [train.]

In a quiet forest, you can hear them coming from a long way away.

Those who were killed here came in trains.

The poetry section too will tickle your enamel and your armhairs, will make you want to bend with the poets, bend into letters. Read “If I Were a Jackknife,” by San Francisco local Laura E. Davis, and you’ll see what I mean:

I’d have a slipjoint.
Put just the right pressure
on my back & I’d bend. The world
would be less circular, less filled
with old hymns. People could look through
the space my head took up in front of them
in the movie theater. But you wouldn’t
pin me against the back wall
credits rolling, hands on my ribs.
No ribs left. Just that slipjoint. My blade
would always be big enough
to fit back into my own handle.
I wouldn’t say this. I’d have
an awl or a can opener & I’d bend
half-wise, away from other sharp things.
That much would stay the same.

Don’t stop here, by any means. Wander around this issue, try it on like an endless set of footie pajamas that doubles as a fifty-person tent, that triples as an overgrown amusement park, painted all around with strange faces.

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 Things I’ve Read This Week: Proving Nothing To Anyone by Matt Cook and Tina by Peter Davis

19 Aug

Proving Nothing To Anyone by Matt Cook
Publishing Genius Press, 86 pages, $14.95

Tina by Peter Davis
Bloof Books, 92 pages, $16.00

If I asked you to make a list of things you find funny—shows and comedians, writers and songs, photographs and everyday situations—what would be on it? Where would you even start?


Let’s start with “Interesting Things,” a little back-and-forth tongue-in-cheek grumble between two pals about, hmm, ‘interesting things.’ After the non-speaker fella brings a load of unspecified such things over, Matt Cook writes,

I had no idea there were so many interesting things, I said.
When something compares favorably to something else, he said,
That makes it an interesting thing, but it’s also interesting
When something compares unfavorably to something else, he said.

And this is how Cook’s book solicits itself as a worthwhile object, a collection of things, interesting and humorous and full of life. He consistently backdrops the normal everyday with the weird everyday or the awkward everyday or the ambiguous everyday or the absurd everyday. He pines for the moment we hold up the book and see that the normal mirrors the ridiculous.


What makes something humorous? What makes something humorous to you? Startling confession. Surprising intersection. Forced realization. An unfaced gal turned scapegoat.


tinaIn Jeremy Bauer’s interview with  Peter Davis at Front Porch, Davis tells us a little about Tina, the title of his latest book of poems, the name of his not-a-muse-but-okay-a-muse in his ear, the exclamation called the addressed:

Well, this is the way I imagine it. To me Tina is, essentially, what other people might call the muse. I would never say muse though because I don’t believe in a sort of pseudo-mystical inspirational source. I would say, Tina. Having said that, Tina is not necessarily somebody you want to have on your back. She demands you spend each night in your basement (even when it’s cold) writing and thinking and drinking. And to what end? So you might be frequently, tacitly and overtly, rejected by society, by your friends and family, not to mention literary journals? She makes day to day living difficult because she forces you to constantly compare your own efforts with all of the phenomenal efforts of the past, imagined or real. “(Read the rest of their interview here.)

In this, his third book, and in my opinion his most humorous yet, Davis peers out of the ridiculous in search of some balance on normal land. These poems appear as efforts to blame Tina, to distract Tina, to entertain Tina, little methods of giving in, hoping each poem surfaces some reward, anything, in hopes of turning down the difficulty setting of the day-to-day.


Oh, and you know what, I find the poems in these two collections, more often than no way, very funny–haha funny and ah geesh funny and wow funny. They run the gammit of funny, it seems, by letting a peer’s hair burn a little too long or confronting poor ol’ Tina, by unveiling the complicated in something uncomplicated (like dog watching) or telling us the real scoop on Emily Dickinson.


Setting for “Commitment to Excellence” by Matt Cook: dinner party, speaker telling a story, woman’s hair on fire, only speaker notices, and—

So I continued, and only after the punch line was delivered,
And after the appreciative reaction of the room,
Did I finally let the woman know her hair was on fire.

The woman was not seriously harmed,
And she ended up writing me a letter of recommendation.


David Cross, yeah that David Cross, apparently thinks Matt Cook’s poems are funny too, “[n]ot ‘funny for poetry’ but straight up funny. And thoughtful. And human.” Yeah, David Cross blurbed this book.



Certainly, both of these fella’s books are funny, straight up, but I find it interesting (there’s that word!) how Cross makes that distinction, then rolls further. Straight up funny. Thoughtful. Human.

Does the presentation of these anecdotes and quips and awkward confrontations as poems make them funny in a way that would be much different otherwise? A poem being a special plug-in, like the difference between a baseball bat against a tree and a baseball bat in Ken Griffey Jr.’s hand? I think so. Poetry offers (or maybe rather lacks) the visual and auditory elements that harness other humorous forms (I know, I know there are readings—sourpuss!—but you know what I mean). Poet and words on a page. Here you go—Reader and words on a page. Words swirled in a head from another head trying to paint a picture, to swing the bat in the silence there. It’s delicate and it’s brave and it can fail at any word.


What makes a poem humorous? What makes a poem humorous to you?


It is impossible to ignore the top-notch reading styles of these two funny poet men. So, let’s sample that:

“In the Bodega” by Matt Cook on soundcloud


People like to talk about themselves, their experiences. Poet people, sure, but also teacher people and truck driver people and pizza delivery people and old people who don’t have jobs anymore. And it’s often so funny! Wow. Funny stories about their spouses. Funny stories about their youth. Somehow funny stories about tragedy and stress. It’s inevitable, unavoidable, ridiculously human.


First stanza from Cook’s “You’re A Minor Poet Standing Near The Frozen Spinach”:

You stop by the store to pick up your wife’s favorite brand of beer.
Inside, an old woman goes out of her way to start a conversation with you.
You’re wearing an overcoat that reminds her of an overcoat she once knew.
An old woman is allowed to talk to you for as long as she likes.
You cannot tell an old woman to stop talking to you.
You’re a minor poet standing near the frozen spinach.

Like with Davis’s struggles with Tina’s latching on, Cook grapples with his place in the world as “a minor poet” following him wherever he might go. And the funny reality here is the bruteness in the innocent reminder (the old lady yapping here) you can’t escape reality, and like the memory of the old coat, you’ll carry this shit with you a long time.


From Peter’s “Old Problems”

My wife calls on the phone and I answer it. Have you
Received phone calls before, TINA? Do you know what
This is like? Well, then why don’t you keep your
Mouth shut for a change.

Yet, Davis continues and explains to Tina phones and phone calls and the little idioms that go along with it. The explanation a distraction to the story of the call.

My wife calls and she’s lonely so she’s
Calling me to say so. I respond to her with some sort of
Reassuring statement, like, glad you called. This kind
Of banter continues for a few minutes and then it’s
Over with. I’m back to being off the phone and back to
Helping you with all your dumbfuck ideas.

The phone call a distraction to the distraction, this inescapable/inexplicable shadow of being a poet in a non-poetry world (a.k.a the real world), the inescapable/inexplicable necessity of explaining, of dealing with all the talking. newspaper-mockup


Another thing many people find funny is teens, youthfulness as fuel for ridiculousness, lack of self-awareness as springboard for creative recklessness.

Cook’s “Jesus In My Hair” is the story of a once-imagined sitcom of the same name, one of those goofy high school ideas, over-the-top and somehow poignant (this one involves Desi Arnez Jr. playing a barber who helps Jesus, Jesus who has come back and forgotten his purpose), made up by the speaker and his friend in high school. In the end, the speaker writes the friend, years later, to say they should rewrite the sitcom, only to be bummed with the friend seems “like he was way beyond the whole thing now.”

Which reminds me of Davis’s “My Education,” a poem lamenting on the weird joy of being in high school. Here’s a part of it:

I appreciate the veil, Tina. I like
high school where you know
everyone and have kissed
a higher percentage of your
graduating class. I got even
more play in middle school.
That’s when French kissing
Was like finding a cool place
To skate.

These silly, “useless” moments in youth, conjuring silly ideas and trying to kiss lots of girls, only to graduate, in several meanings, to the real world, adult life, supposedly more grownup things, like buying beer for your wife or writing poems in the basement. There’s the pogo of being relieved to “make more sense,” but also the bummer of having to. And of course, there’s that never ending reminder that you’ll never be under that umbrella again, and though one has the poem as an escape mechanism, it’s temporary. The comedy in the tragedy.


Cook and Davis compare favorably here, for me, launch together as interesting things, because they refuse to just be funny, they refuse to just be storytellers, they refuse to just bite into the sticky everyday apples.

These poems, in both the collections, made me reengaged with life, paying attention to how the ongoings of life leap out in startling, humorous ways—the advertisement for a strip club declaring “The Only Thing Our Girls Wear Is A Smile” or how a man brushes my shoulder while jogging past in the dark, only to return five minutes later and apologize (still jogging).


This humorous approach to dealing with the difficult strangeness of the everyday becomes an interesting thing because it’s so useful, so addictive. You start putting Tina everywhere, naming your own pseudo-muse. You wonder how Matt Cook would deliver the story, what parts he’d include. And that’s what makes this style so brilliant, so enjoyable, so lasting, so difficult. Both for the writer and the reader, it’s a stickler that one must carry around, but that only a few, like these two fellas, have mastered creating on the page.


The last stanza of “Interesting Things” by Matt Cook:

I wanted to understand more about interesting things.
I wanted to ask him if it were possible to define interesting things.
But I knew well that he distrusted precise definitions.

Special End Reminder: Don’t forget to check out Publishing Genius’s Kickstarter page for their 2014 lineup. It’s gonna be sickkkkkkkkkk.

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 This Week: Patriot by Laurie Saurborn Young

5 Aug

patriot coverPatriot

Laurie Saurborn Young

Forklift, Ink.

32 pages, $5

I carried this chapbook around America with me for two weeks, the whole time unread in its entirety. First to Akron, Ohio. Later to Atlanta, Georgia. Okay okay, I read a “Patriot” or two while waiting on my hosts to wake up, or drinking a beer on a stranger’s porch (you see, each poem, thirteen in all, is called that, “Patriot,” is made of 26 stretch-breathing lines). Then I returned home, to Indiana, to Elwood, my hometown. I returned to the porch staring into my grandpa’s cornfield. The corn was much taller than when I left. Why does that surprise me? I read all twelve poems straight up. Then, I paused to feed the goats in the background. Then, I read the poems again.


I find myself repeating myself, the part about the goats, the part about the corn, the part about my hometown, the part about traveling but never moving.


This poem sequence travels through time and space and place—years ago or a night-damp field or cold Wyoming.

It repeats some variation of the phrase “is America.”

“This is America, & so the body, hand-sewn, is over there.”

“Someone always in the process of taking over/With orange beak angled wide is America.”

“Bioluminescence of the highway at night/What is America?”


According to Merriam-Webster, a patriot is “one who loves his or her country and supports its authority and interests.”


When I searched “American patriot,” the first search result is a company of the same name that wants to rent me a cabin in the Gatlinburg, Tennessee mountains.

See also: the American Patriot Party official web site, whose platform is set firmly on the ideal to “protect, defend and implement the intents set forth in the Originating Founders Letters which includes The Absolute Rights of the Colonists of 1772 and the Declaration of Independence, the documents which define Freedom.”

See also: this eagle picture


See also: the Lee Greenwood album of the same name.

See also: this picture of a kneeling soldier.



As I read these poems over and over, I kept thinking about decisions. Decisions we make. Decisions we make for others. Decisions we make for ourselves. See also: decisions that are made for us.

What to do with these physical bodies—to sing or not, to leave or not, to build or not, to undress or not. Paved roads and strip clubs. Foxes done got ran over and the ability to dance. Jail sentences and linebreaks.


The first poem unfurls like one of those familiar American landscapes:

Line of thunderstorms on the weather map.

This is America, & so the body, hand-sewn, is over there.

And so at dawn the Carolina water tower is a peach

Rising like the moon’s ass.

Finite town, rusted trailer, time-bleached house.

How many foxes did we take under our wheels?

What we decided to build. What we decided to let decay. What we decided to end just by starting our engines. Though, this is not a poem about a particular place. It’s a poem about how the place imposes on us, and more aggressively and more accurately, how we push back.


Is there such a thing as New Patriotism?

The old connotation of patriot implies “unconditionally,” but of course, there’s a flaw in that, and of course, as we evolve, as a nation, as a people, should/might the definition widen, the way our moral landscape has (okay okay, maybe should/might, or maybe just has partially)? Instead, these poems suggest a negotiation between supporting the country’s interests and peering more closely (as a single dot on a big ass map) at what is necessary, the truth about what does good and what does harm, how (parts of) this place got so shitty in the first place.

See also: racial injustice (continued).

See also: the (real) effects of what we put in our bodies.

See also: who has control of our bodies?


Last week, I drove to Atlanta for the Vouched 2nd birthday party. Skirting my way through Kentucky and Tennessee and a bit into Georgia, right, I saw deer in the distance and dense, rising mountains of green and gorgeous rivers. From my car on the road cutting those mountains, the trees dotted with billboards.


“Fallen are so many dead/Deer along the American highway.”


For the drive to Atlanta, I made a playlist called “America.” Here it is:

“A Horse With No Name” by America           “Living Room” by Native America

“Rock and Roll Roosters” by Trout Fishing In America         “White America” by Eminem

“Shameless” by This Is Not America      “30,000 LBS.” by My America is Watching Tigers Die

“Only In America” by Brooks and Dunn        “Made In America” by Jay-Z

“Miss America” by J. Cole       “Peaches” by The Presidents of the United States of America

“Breakfast in America” by Supertramp                       “Kids in America” by Kim Wilde

“Living in America” by James Brown      “USA I, II, III, and IV” by Dan Deacon

“America Fuck Yeah” and “Freedom Isn’t Free” by Trey Parker

“Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” by Toby Keith     “Born in the U.S.A.” by Bruce Springsteen

“Small Town” by John Mellencamp    “Party in the U.S.A.” by Miley Cyrus

“God Bless the U.S.A.” by Lee Greenwood    “This Land is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie

“This Land is Your Land” by Sharon Jones     “Living in the Promiseland” by Willie Nelson

“Saddam a Go-Go” by Gwar               “Universal Soldier” by Donovan

“Riding With Private Malone” by David Ball  “With God on our Side” by Bob Dylan

“Proud to be an American” by Tiki     “Born Country” by Alabama

“Where The Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly” by Aaron Tippin

“My Country Tis of Thee” by Crosby & Nash             “American Bad Ass” by Kid Rock

“American History X” by ILL Bill       “Freedom” by Rage Against The Machine

“Americans” by X-Clan           “Freedom of Speech” by Immortal Technique

“Announcing the Death of Osama Bin Laden” by Barack Obama

“Get Up” by The Coup           “Fight the Power” by Public Enemy


When one criticizes America, you name the McDonalds and the Wal-Marts, the Zimmermans and Madoffs. When the intent is to praise, we sing of the buffalo and the mountains, the prairies and the fireworks in the sky.

Often, we forget, downplay, evade, and/or ignore the everyday ills and evils of this country—domestic grief, the ridiculous heartbreak (personal, political, and social), etc. Often, we forget the everyday triumphs—the real kind of joy of flexing the luxury muscle of play, the feeling of putting knowledge in one’s head, etc.

These poems exist in that everyday, the good/bad/ugly, both celebratory and critical. On (for?) grand schemes, they make few choices. The fire burns here not to light up the sky or destroy what’s on the ground. These poems craft as they go a sense of living, having lived, the naming as a startling mechanism to remind just how much there is here, right here, hello.


An incomplete list of proper nouns in this chapbook: Tennessee, The Mouse’s Ear (a strip club), the Tire Barn, Morrissey, Mt. Katahdin (in Maine), Wyoming, Snuffer’s Restaurant and Bar, the Seventies, Abigail Adams, Spain.


Though the fire is local in its intentions, these poems do burn loud, do make their decisions known. Like when one brings you this declaration, this tiny tinny list of what America is:

Forever men taking a break with grease

Under their nails is America.

Is the close-captioned word You little

Bitch on the gym TV and is the dull

Line of women on treadmills

Running steady toward the phrase.


While in Atlanta, I received an email response from a friend who I had sent a poem of mine called “A Natural American Spirit,” which I finished on the 4th of July. She said, “I love how your poems are getting more and more American.”


What is an American poem? Is this book called Patriot, this sequence of poems each called “Patriot,” a collection of American poems? The self as American, making decisions, the freedom (or supposed freedom) to do so—write poems, be a person continually, make fire. There’s democracy in the personal, voters (a tiny collection of the selves), history’s calling and how one handles it.


This speaker (Patriot?) returns to moments that shape women, that shape of the woman telling this American story:

“By the pond where my sister and I fed/Ducks in the summer, where we ran/From the tall honking goose.”

“Somewhere I am eighteen and somewhere I still/Plan to get drunk & pass out then suddenly/Awake nearly twenty years later to find/You still means Men in the audience.”

“Somewhere it is 1930 & my aunt is the first/Woman to wear pants in Holmes County.”


What it means to be a woman in America—opportunities, beauty, and abuse, unrelenting being alive:

Upside down her ribcage is a butterfly.


Mother in the airplane aisle, rocking your son:

I love you without envy yet still reaching

Outward and away from one another we persist.


You want to say I deserved it

Which is often what people think

When force is brought against a woman’s

Smaller frame.


Saurborn Young sings a song in the last poem: “This is America/Irreplaceable and yet/Unnecessary and yet loved.” And then, turns that phrase, the repeated “is America,” into “is this America, still debating/Whether as a woman whether I am worth.”


And I applaud Saurborn Young here, the way I am startled and moved. Writing about America. Writing about being a woman. Writing about being a woman in American. The clusterfuck of emotions and the automatic eyebrow raises. There’s a powerful beauty in making these declarations. And on the other side of that road, there’s a sparkle when she asks that gulp of a question.

Who’s over there with her with that question? Who’s catching it? In the hands or in the gut or in the mouth?


“Population booming we are not unique/Everyone scratching in place.”


These are poems of ultimately what we are—“People everywhere are just people everywhere/Tearing down what we replenish.” Our breath feeding the plants, our hands replanting trees, the cages we built re-opened to release the eagle back to the wild, what we birth.

This all after we’ve chopped and taken and ran over whatever we’ve wanted.


Ultimately, what will we be judged on? Possibly, how we treat those that birthed us, clothed us, rescued us, though right now we’re worried about how fast she can bring us our pizza.


“We are mammals, mammals are animals/So consciousness is a trait of animals/In the hospital at midnight or noon.”

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 This Week: The New Issue of Pinwheel

19 Jul

Sometimes, a booyeah issue of a magazine plops in my mailbox or scurries onto my glowing screen and I’m like GOTTA VOUCH THIS, but the tricky trick is deciding what piece/writer.

And today, I give in. I’m vouching this entire new issue of Pinwheel. I don’t often read issues of magazines top to bottom, front to back, but this I just had to, man. There’s so much goodness here, and you know I can’t miss the goodness!

Here are some snippets:

“What to make of these/feelings and all mad things?” – Matt Hart

“It’s an American it’s a man/it’s a woman they’re trying to talk” – Allyson Paty & Danniel Schoonebeek

“your fuck-fierce kingdom of kites” – Vouched contributor Layne Ransom

“My month as a kind of white lily/I’m in a room of white people” – Hoa Nguyen

And there’s so much more! Mary Ruefle! Wendy Xu! Mike Krutel! John Gallaher! Check out the issue here.

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.