Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Unspeakable

My prayers go out to all the victims of Katrina. In order to donate:

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Sum of All Its Parts.

As I put together my submissions of poetry I consider the fashion in which I combine my poems. I attempt to group them into a cluster, which are somehow interconnected on one level or another. (Madness needs method or some such!) It stands to reason that not all poems are created equal, even when they are penned by the same hand (and especially when they are penned by this particular hand). There is bound to be a poem in an ensemble of poesy that is more persuasive; is more convincing; teaches; impresses or goads the reader more effectively into the implied rhetoric of the speaker.

So therein lies the quandary, how do we arrange our poetic fruit? Do we put the freshest up front so as to cajole the reader into sniffing it? Do we entice the reader with an hors d'oeuvre of verse? Or do we just bear it all and lay it on the line in a WYSIWYG display? This leads me to a second question: Is the relative value of a submission only as good as the best poem in the lot or as bad as the worst poem in the clique?

As the pomes in question lay before me, they implore me to choose them: much like the last few kids in the high school gym that are waiting to be redeemed by the team captains when picking sides. When it comes to the very last sheet of verse to be picked, it is no selection at all is it? I cannot help but hear an audible sigh!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Drapeau De Montreal.

The four symbols are a fleur-de-lys for the French, a rose for the English, a shamrock for the Irish and a thistle for the Scottish. (What about the Italians? Well we got here a little too late I guess or maybe they just ran out of space. ) The cross has a religious connotation, though you may come across different interpretations from various sources.

Friday, August 26, 2005

The Stamps Just Arrived & Now I Have no Reason Not to Send Out Submissions


Poet, novelist and educator Robert Penn Warren was honored in 2005 by the U.S. Postal Service with the issuance of a commemorative postage stamp. Robert Penn Warren was America's first official poet laureate (1986-87) and a three-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, the only writer to have won the prize in poetry ("Promises: Poems, 1954-1956," in 1958, and "Now and Then: Poems, 1976-1978," in 1979) as well as fiction ("All the King's Men," 1947). Warren received scores of other awards as well, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1980). He died on September 15, 1989, in West Wardsboro, VT. Artist Will Wilson of San Francisco, CA, based his portrait of Warren on a 1948 photograph obtained from the Center for Robert Penn Warren Studies at Western Kentucky University. The background art recalls scenes from "All the King's Men." The stamp is 21st in the Literary Arts series, which also includes Zora Neale Hurston (2003), Ayn Rand (1999) and Stephen Vincent Benét (1998).

San Francisco Night Windows

So hangs the hour like fruit fullblown and sweet,
Our strict and desperate avatar,
Despite that antique westward gulls lament
Over enormous waters which retreat
Weary unto the white and sensual star.
Accept these images for what they are--
Out of the past a fragile element
Of substance into accident.
I would speak honestly and of a full heart;
I would speak surely for the tale is short,
And the soul's remorseless catalogue
Assumes its quick and piteous sum.
Think you, hungry is the city in the fog
Where now the darkened piles resume
Their framed and frozen prayer
Articulate and shafted in the stone
Against the void and absolute air.
If so the frantic breath could be forgiven,
And the deep blood subdued before it is gone
In a savage paternoster to the stone,
Then might we all be shriven.

From Selected Poems of Robert Penn Warren, edited by John Burt. Copyright © 2001 by John Burt.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Submission Wars

Took a couple of casualties what with Kenyon Review and Gargoyle giving me the horizontal nod. However, I just started to sub this batch of three poems and therefore, I have not precluded the possibility of getting a print journal to publish at least one of them. Kenyon’s editors took five months to shrug their shoulders. I guess that’s a good sign. I am, however, wary of their invitation to think of them in future as I did receive a "form" response. (But heck that hasn't stopped me before from resubbing to a magazine.) My last batch of poems went out to eight journals and one of the poems was picked up by Shenandoah so I still count myself lucky.

I have been unable to send out any poems out by snail mail as my American SASE postage had run out. (International postage purchased at a Canadian post office is way too costly; setting me back over five dollars each time I sent out a SASE.) The last time I got some American stamps they were provided by some friends who were heading south. I did some checking and “lo and behold”, postage can be bought on-line from the United States Postal Service: . So I guess I’m back in business.

I am a notoriously unprolific poet and barely have time to scribble a couple of lines down these days before I am unceremoniously torn away from my muse. This does not sit well with my muse who has been drinking my Valpolicella and eating my Parmeggiano Reggiano. What can I say my muse has impeccable taste. However, I do now have enough material for about three sets of submission batches. So wish me luck as I assault the bastions of the literary world.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Mal Occhio

Italians are very superstitious people. They believe in the"Mal Occhio" or evil eye: "The evil eye belief is that a person -- otherwise not malific in any way -- can harm you, your children, your livestock, or your fruit trees, by *looking at them* with envy and praising them. The word "evil" is unfortunate in this context because it implies that someone has "cursed" the victim, but such is not the case. A better understanding of the term "evil eye" is gained if you know that the old British and Scottish word for it is "overlooking," which implies merely that the gaze has remained too long upon the coveted object, person, or animal. In other words, the effect of the evil eye is misfortunate, but the person who harbours jealousy and gives the evil eye is not necessarily an evil person per se. To ward off the "evil eye" the Italian typically involves: "... making the gestures called the mano fico ("fig hand") and the mano cornuto ("horned hand").

Mano cornuto is a gesture in which the middle and ring fingers are held down by the thumb and the index and little fingers are extended outward like horns. Among some people this is the sign of a cuckholded man, but it is also widely used as a protective gesture against impotency. The mano cornuto is familiar to Americans who read comic books as the gesture Dr. Strange makes when he casts a spell and the gesture Spider-Man makes when he "thwips" web fluid from his wrists. (The popular artist Steve Ditko was responsible for the design of both of these characters, and some comic fans refer to the mano cornuto as "the Steve Ditko hand gesture.") Mano fico is a hand gesture in which the thumb is inserted between the index and middle finger. It means literally means "fig hand" in Italian, but "fica" or fig is a common slang term for the female genitals, so the mano fico is a representation of the sex act (with the thumb as phallus)."

Another common response to "ward off" the "evil eye" is for the male Italian to touch his testicles; I suppose for the reassurance that they're still there. When I was a kid I thought that all baseball players must be Italian.


For a futher discussion on "superstition" check out Justin Evans blog:

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Friday, August 12, 2005

Cobblestones and Patron Saints

The town of San Donato di Ninea in the province of Cosenza in Calabria, Italy has as its patron saint its namesake San Donato. On a yearly basis (on August 7th) a statue of the patron saint is taken from its sanctuary in church and carried in a procession through the town. This festivity celebrates the town's sense of interdependence and affirms the rules governing its society, religion and culture.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

And We'll Have Fun, Fun, Fun - Till My Daddy Takes My T-Bird Away!

Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Albums of All Time

1. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles
Pet Sounds, The Beach Boys
Revolver, The Beatles
Highway 61 Revisited, Bob Dylan
Rubber Soul, The Beatles
What's Going On, Marvin Gaye
Exile on Main Street, The Rolling Stones
London Calling, The Clash
Blonde on Blonde, Bob Dylan
The Beatles ("The White Album"), The Beatles
The Sun Sessions, Elvis Presley
Kind of Blue, Miles Davis
Velvet Underground and Nico, The Velvet Underground
Abbey Road, The Beatles
Are You Experienced?, The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Blood on the Tracks, Bob Dylan
Nevermind, Nirvana
Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen
Astral Weeks, Van Morrison
Thriller, Michael Jackson
The Great Twenty-Eight, Chuck Berry
Plastic Ono Band, John Lennon
Innervisions, Stevie Wonder
Live at the Apollo (1963), James Brown
Rumours, Fleetwood Mac
The Joshua Tree, U2
King of the Delta Blues Singers, Vol. 1, Robert Johnson
Who's Next, The Who
Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin
Blue, Joni Mitchell
Bringing It All Back Home, Bob Dylan
Let It Bleed, The Rolling Stones
Ramones, Ramones
Music From Big Pink, The Band
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, David Bowie
Tapestry, Carole King
Hotel California, The Eagles
The Anthology, 1947 - 1972, Muddy Waters
Please Please Me, The Beatles
Forever Changes, Love
Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, The Sex Pistols
The Doors, The Doors
The Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd
Horses, Patti Smith
The Band, The Band
Legend, Bob Marley and the Wailers
A Love Supreme, John Coltrane
It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, Public Enemy
At Fillmore East, The Allman Brothers Band
Here's Little Richard, Little Richard
Bridge Over Troubled Water, Simon and Garfunkel
Greatest Hits, Al Green
The Birth of Soul: The Complete Atlantic Rhythm and Blues Recordings, 1952 - 1959, Ray Charles
Electric Ladyland, The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Elvis Presley, Elvis Presley
Songs in the Key of Life, Stevie Wonder
Beggars Banquet, The Rolling Stones
Trout Mask Replica, Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band
Meet the Beatles, The Beatles
Greatest Hits, Sly and the Family Stone
Appetite for Destruction, Guns n' Roses
Achtung Baby, U2
Sticky Fingers, The Rolling Stones
Phil Spector, Back to Mono (1958 - 1969), Various Artists
Moondance, Van Morrison
Led Zeppelin IV, Led Zeppelin
The Stranger, Billy Joel
Off the Wall, Michael Jackson
Superfly, Curtis Mayfield
Physical Graffiti, Led Zeppelin
After the Gold Rush, Neil Young
Purple Rain, Prince
Back in Black, AC/DC
Otis Blue, Otis Redding
Led Zeppelin II, Led Zeppelin
Imagine, John Lennon
The Clash, The Clash
Harvest, Neil Young
Star Time, James Brown
Odessey and Oracle, The Zombies
Graceland, Paul Simon
Axis: Bold as Love, The Jimi Hendrix Experience
I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You, Aretha Franklin
Lady Soul, Aretha Franklin
Born in the U.S.A., Bruce Springsteen
Let It Be, The Beatles
The Wall, Pink Floyd
At Folsom Prison, Johnny Cash
Dusty in Memphis, Dusty Springfield
Talking Book, Stevie Wonder
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Elton John
20 Golden Greats, Buddy Holly
Sign 'o' the Times, Prince
Bitches Brew, Miles Davis
Green River, Creedence Clearwater Revival
Tommy, The Who
The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, Bob Dylan
This Year's Model, Elvis Costello
There's a Riot Goin' On, Sly and the Family Stone
In the Wee Small Hours, Frank Sinatra

This list is a little rock-heavy even for my tastes, but any list that has the Beach Boys at number two and Sinatra at 100 is suspect in my book. I've got only 28 albums off of this list. I guess I got me some spending to do.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Way Leads on to Way.

What we look for beyond seeing
And call the unseen.
Listen for beyond hearing
and call the unheard,
Grasp for beyond reaching
And call the withheld,
Merge beyond understanding
In a oneness
Which does not merely rise and give light,
Does not merely set and leave darkness,
But forever sends forth a succession of living things as
As the unbegotten existence to which they return.
That is why men have called them empty phenomena.
Meaningless images,
In a mirage,
With no face to meet,
No back to follow.
Yet one who is anciently aware of existence
Is master of every moment,
Feels no break since beyond time
In the way life flows.

---------------------------------------------------------------Lao Tzu

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Excerpt From "The Radiant" by Cynthia Huntington


I remember standing in the kitchen, stirring bones for soup,
and in that moment, I became another person.

It was an early spring evening, the air California mild.
Outside, the eucalyptus was bowing compulsively

over the neighbor's motor home parked in the driveway.
The street was quiet for once, and all the windows were open.

Then my right arm tingled, a flutter started under the skin.
Fire charged down the nerve of my leg; my scalp exploded

in pricks of light. I shuddered and felt like laughing;
it was exhilarating as an earthquake. A city on fire

after an earthquake. Then I trembled and my legs shook,
and every muscle gripped so I fell and lay on my side,

a bolt driven down my skull into my spine. My legs were
swimming against the linoleum, and I looked up at the underside

of the stove, the dirty places where the sponge didn't reach.
Everything collapsed there in one place, one flash of time.

There in my body. In the kitchen at six in the evening, April.
A wooden spoon clutched in my hand, the smell of chicken broth.

And in that moment I knew everything that would come after:
the vision was complete as it seized me. Without diagnosis,

without history, I knew that my life was changed.
I seemed to have become entirely myself in that instant.

Not the tests, examinations in specialists' offices, not
the laboratory procedures: MRI, lumbar puncture, electrodes

pasted to my scalp, the needle scraped along the sole of my foot,
following one finger with the eyes, EEG, CAT scan, myelogram.

Not the falling down or the blindness and tremors, the stumble
and hiss in the blood, not the lying in bed in the afternoons.

Not phenobarbitol, amitriptylene, prednisone, amantadine, ACTH,
cortisone, cytoxan, copolymer, baclofen, tegretol, but this:

Six o'clock in the evening in April, stirring bones for soup.
An event whose knowledge arrived whole, its meaning taking years

to open, to seem a destiny. It lasted thirty seconds, no more.
Then my muscles unlocked, the surge and shaking left my body

and I lay still beneath the white high ceiling. Then I got up
and stood there, quiet, alone, just beginning to be afraid.

An Interpretation

While reading C. Dale Young’s post concerning his upcoming publication at Four Way Books (congrats to C. Dale), I came across the pome above which is included in another collection of poems also published by the same literary house. Its dark palpable texture is pervasive and almost immediately evident as noted in S1L1’s foreboding line: “…stirring bones for soup,” - which simultaneously conjures death and mysticism. The poem’s recounting of the onset of illness and a metamorphosis. (i.e.: S1L2 – “..,I became another person.) is harrowing, striking us with “pricks of light” and as “…exhilarating as an earthquake.” But it is here in S8L1: “the dirty places where the sponge didn't reach.”, that this humble reader felt that the poem had been, “… driven down my skull into my spine.”. The power of the poet’s words had me on the floor “swimming against the linoleum,” along with the speaker. Then this, the following lines seal the passage behind me to the place I was before:

And in that moment I knew everything that would come after:
the vision was complete as it seized me. Without diagnosis,

without history, I knew that my life was changed.
I seemed to have become entirely myself in that instant.

The next four couplets lend themselves well to the conceit and the likening of the neurological disorder to a mystical transformation of sorts, a sort of enchantment inexplicable and not adequately explained away by the scientific. Because in the end we all “lay still beneath the white high ceiling.”

The Radiant by Cynthia Huntington

Winner of the 2001 Levis Poetry Prize
selected by Susan Mitchell
ISBN: 1-884800-49-1
paper, 60 pages

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Back by Popular Demand or Just Too Lazy to Come up With New Material :

When Steven's Wright....

The Absurd

• Curiosity killed the cat, but for a while I was a suspect.

• I bought some batteries, but they weren't included.

• I used to work in a fire hydrant factory. You couldn't park anywhere near the place.

• It's a small world, but I wouldn't want to paint it.

• There's a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.

• What's another word for Thesaurus?

• If toast always lands butter-side down, and cats always land on their feet, what happens if you strap toast on the back of a cat and drop it?

• My girlfriend sleeps in a queen-sized bed and I sleep in a court jester-sized bed.

• I got a garage door opener. It can't close. Just open.

• Every now and then I like to lean out my window, look up and smile for a satellite picture.

• Today I met with a subliminal advertising executive for just a second.

The Philosophical

• I have an existential map. It has 'You are here' written all over it.

• Black holes are where God divided by zero.

• If God dropped acid, would he see people?

The Surrealistic

• Last year I went fishing with Salvador Dali. He was using a dotted line. He caught every other fish.

• I went to a restaurant that serves "breakfast at any time". So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.

• I installed a skylight in my apartment. The people who live above me are furious!

• Last night somebody broke into my apartment and replaced everything with exact duplicates... When I pointed it out to my roommate, he said, 'Do I know you?'

• I was walking down the street wearing glasses when the prescription ran out.

• I can remember the first time I had to go to sleep. Mom said, "Steven, time to go to sleep." I said, "But I don't know how." She said, "It's real easy. Just go down to the end of tired and hang a left." So I went down to the end of tired, and just out of curiosity I hung a right. My mother was there, and she said "I thought I told you to go to sleep."

• I just bought a microwave fireplace. You can spend an evening in front of it in only eight minutes.

• Last night I stayed up late playing poker with Tarot cards. I got a full house and four people died.

The Empirical

• I bought some powdered water yesterday. I don't know what to add.

• Cross-country skiing is great if you live in a small country.

• If Dracula can't see his reflection in the mirror, how come his hair is always so neatly combed?

• It doesn't make a difference what temperature a room is, it's always room temperature.

• I have the world’s largest seashell collection. You may have seen it, I keep it spread out on beaches all over the world.

• If a word in the dictionary were misspelled, how would we know?

• The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard.

• They say the sun never sets over the British Empire, but it rises every morning. The sky must get awfully crowded.

• My theory of evolution is that Darwin was adopted.

• Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.

• You can't have everything. Where would you put it?

The Physiological

• I hate it when my foot falls asleep during the day because that means it's going to be up all night.

• I got food poisoning today. I don't know when I'll use it.

• When I woke up this morning my girlfriend asked me, 'Did you sleep good?' I said 'No, I made a few mistakes.'

The Phenomenological

• You know how it is when you go to be the subject of a psychology experiment, and nobody else shows up, and you think maybe that's part of the experiment? I'm like that all the time.

• When I have a kid, I wanna put him in one of those strollers for twins, then run around the mall looking frantic.