Friday, October 31, 2008

Hollow Tweens

Caketrain Issue 06

Forthcoming December 2008

First printing, 300 copies

5 3/8 w × 8 5/16 h × 264 pages of sixty-pound acid-free off-white text stock, perfect-bound with a ten-point glossy cover stock

$8.00 US |

Birds, bees, and bottle-green, long-undone Ds are among the avatars of our sixth fit. Herein, bear witness: Catherine Kasper’s dark ride through a zone of clinical, legalistic double-speak; Anne Heide’s eggy, milky “NestMare” menagerie; Forrest Roth’s alchemical disruptions, a new weaponry of words; the “McGinty” journals, ably excavated by Christof Scheele; Rimbaud and Webster pulled like taffy through the hole of the public domain; Brian Foley’s hairy brain; this thing that is Thwife from Aby Kaupang; this thing that is couch from Sara Levine; this thing that is man that is nearly nowhere from Kate Hill Cantrill. Also, a couple of copses, some selahs and, at the core, perhaps the ultimate manifestation of the Norman Lock literary universe (devotees of Lock’s work will be thoroughly rewarded). That sound is the surface being scratched by an unseen hand; the mammoth waits to be revealed in full, to consume you for days upon days.

I am excited to be in the new included issue of Caketrain. It's a very large issue - 264 pages. Its not out until December, so I haven't taken the full scope of the other authors. Inside you'll find Kim Chinquee, Michael Kimball, Anne Heide, Eric Baus, Shane Jones, and others. Pre-order it here.

Though its not available yet, one of my poems "Extensions" is available online as a preview. I like this poem. I've since broken it up into lines, which has improved it, but I still enjoy it. Please check it out here.

The second issue of Spooky Boyfriend is up today, on Halloween. I have a weird poem in it called "Safe House". I don't remember much about this poem, other than I wrote it while at work. That may attribute to its unrefined state. Nonetheless, here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


by Zbigniew Herbert.


I don't understand how you can write poems about the moon. It's fat and slovenly. It picks the noses of chimneys. Its favorite thing to do is climb under the bed and sniff at your shoes.

(translated by Alissa Valles)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A law has been proposed to make Moby Dick the official book of Massachusetts.. I have not read the official book (to be) of Massachusetts. When I was in high school I did not read anything required (I instead read Henry Miller and Phillip K Dick). I have since gone back to revisit a few things, but not Moby Dick. And for a good reason. A friend of mine once said do not read Moby Dick until you're ready. Pick it up each year and if something registers, stick with it. If not, save it for the next year. This is good advice for many books.

I was enjoying these poems from Jon Leon, who has an attractive looking chapbook just out from Kitchen Press, when I came across the line "I cried listening to Cat Power." This reminded me of Pshares discussion from the other day about using popular culture to date your work. I am not against this. I just don't care too much for Cat Power.

A cool assessment by Megan O'Rourke of the new poet laureate, Kay Ryan.

" Like oysters, she has said, her poems take shape around "an aggravation"

I am making myself into a regular at the public library. Why did I not go there before? Ive been wasting my money! I spent all afternoon yesterday scouring through lost Eastern European poets.

One of the treasures I found was this - The Horse Has Six Legs: An Anthology of Serbian Poetry. It was edited by Charles Simic. Most of the poets inside share his sensibilities. One of the poets collected that stuck out right away was Vasko Popa. He is said to be the most widely translated Yugoslavian poet. There is a selected collection of his work available, but little else currently in print. Luckily there seem to be an abundance of his work online. Below are a few of my favorites taken from the 1969 translations by Anne Pennington.


Someone hides from someone else
Hides under his tongue
The other looks for him under the earth

He hides on his forehead
The other looks for him in the sky

He hides inside his forgetfulness
The other looks for him in the grass

Looks for him looks
There's no place he doesn't look
And looking he loses himself

Give Me Back My Rags #1

Give me back my rags

My rags of pure dreaming
Of silk smiling of striped foreboding
Of my cloth of lace

My rags of spotted hope
Of burned desire of chequered glances
Of skin from my face

Give me back my rags
Give me them when I ask you nicely

The other brilliant find was Croatian poet, Slavko Mihalic. I spent last night looking for his work online, for his work to purchase. A collection of his selected poems called, Atlantis, also edited by Simic, seems to be his only English translation. It is a meager 36 pages, though it is said he is the author of over 700 published poems. This poem below which I am copying from the book is good enough a reason as any to learn Croatian for a translation endeavor.

Our Ancient Family Sign

Traveling thus with hip-flask of fierce wine,
I kissed big fat mamas in delicious daydreams

My soul sang in a cage gone rusty.
With a cardboard sword I cut the villains down.

Who wouldn't plead to have that life all over again.
Penniless, it seemed, I had bought everything.

And above the door our ancient family sign:
Black gallows and a greasy rope.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Make sure to check out Rauan's blog to read about his night terrors involving the other Ron (Silliman). Best of the net 2009.

Read A Limitation Birds by Sampson Starkweather taken from the last Typo. Really great stuff. He uses his birds like Landis Everson played with his rabbits. Sampson will have a new chapbook out on Rope-a-Dope sometime soon. One can only wish to be born with a name like Sampson Starkweather. I would like to change my name to Brian Yarndonut. The Y's are underrepresented in the poetry section.

I have been writing a lot of new poems recently. I am working on a new chapbook, but also writing on whatever comes. Because this is a poetry blog, here is a version of a new poem.

The Unknown Language

And yet maybe
what I do not understand
is because its recited in Russian.

The trick of mothers & fathers
by their mother & fathers
and so on.

To have your voice
assembled in hermeneutic smoke
brewed in cauldrons of steamships.

I listen with a milk glass held firmly
to the wall, but hear only
the privacy of mice.

I keep hearing a sound behind me that sound like something is burning uncontrollably.

Friday, October 17, 2008

A new issue of Absent Magazine.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Chris Tonelli's The So & So Series ended its run in Boston with a bang - Dorthea Lasky, Dara Weir, and James Tate. While there, a friend gave me a picture he'd found in his private stash (Not gonna post it). It was a picture of me and some others friends from four years ago. My face looked like a chum bucket. I'm gonna hold onto this picture through the idle times of winter as an inspiration to jog and to pass on another beer. Thanks Chad.

This new issue of Sixth Finch is pretty great. I've gone back to it multiple times now.

I don't know how I was included into this behemoth, but I was. Fine by me. I kind of like what I ended up with. I'd post it, but the site is currently not working. Click here to download the issue.

A round table discussion about chapbooks featured on Emerging Writers Network starring Carl? Yes. Notice he is just listed as just "Carl." Basically I believe in everything Carl says about aesthetics. He is my Sarah Palin. You betcha.

Below is a poem from Guernica by Mark Yak-kick

What, Friends, Is A Life?
by Mark Yakich

for Gabe Gudding

Killing a chicken for dinner always prompted
A quarrel about who had to do it. Today

You can take tours of virtual slave ships.
Many people are drawn to the dead

On their holidays. Because of its abundance
A large section of Birkenau was named Canada.

You could get good boots there & sometimes
A silk shawl or a jar of pickled herring. But it was

In America that fake birds were first made
To attract native fowl. The most familiar kinds

Of camouflage make one thing appear to be two,
Two things one & so on. Camouflage artists

Make it an arduous challenge to see a figure
On a ground (blending) or to distinguish one

Category of object from another (mimicry).
Less familiar but far more effective is dazzle

Camouflage in which a single thing appears
To be a hodgepodge of disparate components.

At Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the actors say
The audience always pays better attention

When it’s raining. Mother loved the sun,
She said, because its rays felt like ink to her

Fingers. Honestly I don’t understand many
People. But, Friends, if you plan on dying

By your own hand, don’t use pills. Swallowing
Is simply another way of marking time.

Mark Yakich's new poetry collection is The Importance of Peeling Potatoes in Ukraine (Penguin Poets 2008). He lives in New Orleans. His website is

Poet Rauan Klassnik now has a blog. He also has some real quality poems just up at Babel Fruit. You can listen to Rauan reading the poems. I like Rauan's effort have his work not only read, but heard.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sunny and Cloudy

On Monday morning after I returned from a fantastic week in Portland, I was promptly fired from my job. I don't know why. I wasn't allowed a reason. My computer was seized. I was given a severance & asked to pack my things & leave.

For over two years I had been the author events director for an independent bookstore. I'd taken pride in it, but those who know me know my incessant complaining about the job was a regular pastime. This was because, whatever I was feeling, I felt strongly about this job. I have worried and sacrificed a lot of my time & sanity to make the series a good and interesting one. And I think it worked. But in the end, it seems it was all for nil as my efforts have landed me in the negative, regardless of the work put in.

I was ready for a change. However, I didn't want it to end as it was played out. I would have liked to have left on my own volition, received some appreciation, a thank you, some respect. I would have liked to have said goodbye. Shake some hands. I would have liked to have given some long overdue thank yous, confessions, and hugs. My colleagues & friends busted their asses for me, for the events, and put up with a lot of shit, and I owe them. I wish they all earned a lot more. They deserve it.

I have worked a lot of jobs, and all my life almost all of have been independent establishments. It was less something that I believed in, rather than something I naturally gravitated toward. However, I've come to believe the rhetoric of the independent is mainly just that - rhetoric. And more often than not - empty. The plight of the independent is a political device used to instill loyalty, a rhetoric motivated and reiterated by fear (of the threat of going under) and guilt (the kind you put upon the customers & employees).

This isn't something thats ubiquitous of all independents, obviously, but a fact that's understated and under-challenged. Independents are supposed to be the good guys, but if the independent establishment doesn't differ itself in its practices (and products) from the supposed mainstream establishments & corporations, then there is little to base their rhetoric on.

I think I tried to make things a bit different, though it wasn't always easy given the neighborhood and setting. I could have done a lot more, and would have liked to. But it felt good hosting oddball authors, not-well-known poets, or bringing writers to a community that don't always care to embrace them.

I don't think the empty rhetoric and practices are the result of someone who is duplicitous or evil. It is the result of someone who has lost their way. In Portland, it was refreshing to see so many young people thriving in their work. I look forward to the day when more young, focussed individuals around the country can get loans and settle down into their own independent businesses, their own states of mind. Of course, now is not the time. It may be a while.

People are strange. I don't understand the tendency towards passive aggressive behavior. This may be because I am wretched at masking emotions, which most commonly lead to arguments. I am the first to admit I am often a douche, which I stupidly refer to as being straightforward.

In the end, I have worked with some great people, met some invaluable friends, and witnessed some inspiring work take shape. I have seen Chris Matthews in his underwear. You can't get that image just anywhere.

It is time to take a break and write and sleep and eat and jog and re-learn German and get into grad school and read Frank Standford and appreciate people and love and drink and do push ups and make dinners and clean and pet the cat and collect unemployment and write and write and write.

"Thank you for your time."

S.F. & Portland with Oatmeal Johnson


Space Grill Landing

Stair Surfing

Blow Gun Trials

Lonley Frisco Nights

Brisk Window

Fortunate Son

Oatmeal Johnson in the neighborhood

Folsom Street Dick Whipping Festival

Large Marge

Nightmare Horse Monster

The Night

Lobby View

Ashland, OR

Illegal Sandwich

Valentines' Bartender gets a free breakfast

Mustard Jail


Nickel Arcade

Blacklight Disc

The Goodbye Convention


Old New York

Money Shot

Old Brooklyn Bridge


Oatmeal in Negative Snow

Wooden Appetite

Eight Years

Four Armed Canadian

"Now Go."


Thank You Portland and San Francisco