Friday, August 29, 2014

New Poetry by Brian Beatty

The End of Trouble

Everything my teachers
committed to 
their blackboards

looked to my eyes 
like a chalk outline of a body. 

Mind you, I never saw 
anyone killed

or heard so much as a rumor 
of children
actually murdered

or disappeared 

but bully threats
and that common small town fear 

of being bored to death
I’ll never forget. 

I feel chills right now. 
To my bones. Don’t you?

Bored to death is real.

If nothing more, I learned that much 
from all those unamused

I likewise recall 
sending me to stick my nose 
in the corner

for talking to my friends 
Mark and Chris — 

two guys who both wound up dead
before forty for reasons 
I only remember don’t matter. 
One in prison, one just 
fucking around.

How did I survive? you wonder.   

By hiding inside 
books where I knew 
I’d never be found.

- Brian Beatty 2014

Brian Beatty's jokes, poems and short stories have appeared in numerous print and online publications, including The Bark, Conduit, Elephant Journal, elimae, The Evergreen Review, Gulf Coast, Hobart, McSweeney's, Opium, Paper Darts, The Quarterly, Seventeen and The Sycamore Review. He sometimes performs as a storyteller.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

New Poetry by Michele Seminara


They used to be joyful 
the pictures of babies 
used to pertain to me.
But today my belly is swollen with portent 
and I note with unease
that my haruspex is a man. 

Female seers are reserved for life
and I am an obedient bag of death, 
viscera spread on the gritty screen
waiting to be read.

The ancient technician gives no indication;
although he seems a little kinder 
on the way out than 
on the way in...

Later  the children rolling 
like pups in the ocean of my bed 
we point at the funny photos 
of mummy's insides and say  look,
it's those black spots that are the problem.

- Michele Seminara 2014

Michele Seminara is a poet and yoga teacher from Sydney. Her writing has appeared in publications such as BluepepperTincture JournalRegime andVerity La. She is also a poetry reader for Verity La, as well as being the journal’s incoming managing editor.  She blogs at and is on twitter @SeminaraMichele

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

New Poetry by Howie Good

The Heavy Shadow of Prior Encounters

I keep my voice low,
like a spy passing secrets.

When they ask my name,
address, date of birth,
I answer as if answering
might mean something.

Somewhere near here
there must be a leaden sea
and someone unknown
to me walking beside it,

carrying a blank page
for the lives I’ll never lead.

- Howie Good 2014

Howie Good's latest book of poetry is The Complete Absence of Twilight (2014) from MadHat Press. He has several poetry books forthcoming, including Fugitive Pieces (Right Hand Press) and Buddha & Co (Plain Wrap Press)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A new piece by Phillip A. Ellis

Interview with John Ashbery conducted by Daniel Kane

DK:‭ ‬In‭ "‬What Is Poetry‭" ‬you write,‭ "‬Trying to avoid‭ ‬/‭ ‬Ideas,‭ ‬as in this poem‭ ‬.‭" ‬Is it possible to avoid ideas in poetry‭?

JA:‭ ‬Come on,‭ ‬Lieutenant,‭ ‬let's get out of here.‭ ‬Young man,‭ ‬run along and play.

DK:‭ ‬This makes me think about some student poetry I've read,‭ ‬in which students decide before they have put pens to paper that they will absolutely write poems about,‭ ‬say,‭ ‬their fathers hitting them on the head.‭ ‬The results are often rather predictable narrative poems that describe what happened and petition the reader to feel a certain emotion.‭ ‬I like your idea of beginning a poem without really knowing what's going to come out of it.

JA:‭ ‬No illusion.‭ ‬Lieutenant is dead.‭ ‬Kirk to Enterprise.‭ ‬Come in.‭ ‬Lieutenant,‭ ‬can you be prevailed upon to bring them the news‭? ‬All my senior officers turning against me‭? ‬Even a starship captain appreciates a compliment like that,‭ ‬Lieutenant.

DK:‭ ‬Can you tell us a little bit about the writing process behind‭ "‬What Is Poetry‭"? ‬For example,‭ ‬we've got a‭ "‬frieze of boy scouts from Nagoya.‭" ‬There is also a mysterious‭ "‬they‭" ‬in the lines‭ "‬Now they‭ ‬/‭ ‬Will have to believe it‭ ‬/‭ ‬As we believed it.‭"

JA:‭ ‬Not really.‭ ‬He seems he's overcoming his resentment.‭ ‬Kirk to Enterprise.‭ ‬Lieutenant‭?

DK:‭ ‬I'm glad you told us about the medieval town with the frieze of boy scouts from Nagoya,‭ ‬because learning that you basically made this image up out of a variety of events lets people know that they can make things up in poetry.‭ ‬This way,‭ ‬one knows one doesn't have to rely on fact all the time.

JA:‭ ‬Coronation‭?‬.‭ ‬You did what you could.‭ ‬And the great misery which you now face.

DK:‭ ‬I'm not so sure a lot of students do think that way.‭ ‬I remember having writing teachers insist,‭ "‬Write what you know‭!"

JA:‭ ‬How many‭? ‬We didn't do anything like that.

DK:‭ ‬Yes,‭ ‬that is the problem.‭ ‬I think orders like‭ "‬Write what you know‭" ‬get interpreted to mean‭ "‬Write only what you've actually experienced in real life in real time.‭" ‬It's nice to know from you that we can pick and choose among time,‭ ‬history,‭ ‬and imagination so that we can write a poem that sounds good and feels good.

JA:‭ ‬Why shouldn't they answer our questions‭? ‬They don't think we can do anything to stop them..‭ ‬Quite an enigma,‭ ‬isn't it‭? ‬Try another channel,‭ ‬Lieutenant.‭ ‬Yes it is good.

DK:‭ ‬If a teacher stopped you on the street one day and said,‭ "‬Mr.‭ ‬Ashbery,‭ ‬whether you like it or not,‭ ‬I'm going to assign‭ '‬What Is Poetry‭' ‬to my high school students and tell them to write variations on it-help me find a way to do this,‭" ‬what would you say‭?

JA:‭ ‬What happened to him‭? ‬I did,‭ ‬Gorgan.‭ ‬My beast is gone.‭ ‬It lost its power in the light of reality.‭ ‬I command again,‭ ‬and I ordered you here.

DK:‭ ‬Can people still write about flowers without sounding flowery about it‭?

JA:‭ ‬I place you in the hands of our chess master.

DK:‭ ‬I read‭ "‬the thin vertical path‭" ‬as representing predictable poetry.‭ ‬I thought you were making a funny kind of editorial comment on poetry that gives us the obvious-the‭ "‬flowers‭" ‬of conventional poetry.

JA:‭ ‬What was your impression‭? ‬No,‭ ‬what are the ingredients‭?

DK:‭ ‬Are there such things as wrong interpretations,‭ ‬or do you distinguish more along the lines of imaginative interpretations versus dull,‭ ‬unenthusiastic interpretations‭?

JA:‭ ‬Yes.‭ ‬They may walk into a trap.

DK:‭ ‬You ended‭ "‬What Is Poetry‭" ‬with a question mark.‭ ‬Are there any virtues in ending a poem with a question mark or some other sign of indeterminacy‭?

JA:‭ ‬Lieutenant,‭ ‬if I'm to be the Captain,‭ ‬I've got to act like one.‭ ‬Yes.‭ ‬They may walk into a trap.

DK:‭ ‬Is there anything you want to add to our discussion of‭ "‬What Is Poetry‭"?

JA:‭ ‬Yes.‭ ‬My ship.‭ 

- Phillip A. Ellis 2014

Monday, August 04, 2014

New Words and Pictures by Wayne H. W Wolfson

Saudade (for Marina)
At first I was trying to make my mind up where to go as I had no place to be. Initially, I was slowly swaying from side to side. Had anyone caught me, I could have pretended to merely be shifting from one foot to the other. Then my head would move diagonally to the right, my neck pulling the rest of my body after it. When everything was caught up, my head would then go to the left. This back and forth gave my body the slowed down locomotion of a tadpole swimming; both my hands, thumbs hooked on the outside were tucked into my pants pockets.

I had to cross the dance floor, no one except the bandoneon and guitara seemed to notice me so that I had to weave among the moving couples; a vast richly colored, crillion hedge maze which took me the length of one song to complete.

I look up; there were two layers of stars out tonight. The ones which dotted the green and black cords that were strung from one tree to the next all around the plaza and then those that were higher up. Higher than where even the angels swim, faintly dotting the ripe stone fruit skin colored sky. Those others were too far away and tiny to be real. Beauty too can be like that.

- Wayne H. W Wolfson 2014