Friday, November 20, 2015

CONFLUENCE: Poems by Ron Androla

Ron Androla.  There’s no need to argue his choice of words or style.  When he writes it appears he sets words free to morph, zen out on paper.  He writes fluid, immediate reality.  There is always something to relate to although you may not be able to explain it to someone else.  An air rush to the brain, a mental gut punch, a feather over the heart or genitals.  He propels words as uniquely as Ron Silliman on Mars. 

from page 134:

Light Verse

Being a poet is a terrible thing
alone inside a small 2nd floor
room after midnight.  He
is naked &
gross & drunk.

Grinding a flamboyant grouse
in a dream field with pressing elbows
for poetic luck, he spits at the sweet moon.
Poems blush.  A professor stutters. He wears
bird bones in the sunny gin-soaked morning.

The world is a swallowed grouse.
He coughs up feathers, beaks, blood,
crushed claws & spiritual relief
to fly again, or to
feel he’s flying.

Ron is an intelligent, worldly, working-class poet with a broad perspective on the finite and the ethereal.  He is  legend to many…but he doesn’t walk on water.  He digs holes, deep holes of meaning.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

When the Personal Meets the Political by Su Zi

Monday, August 3, 2015

Dirty Laundry, essay by Su Zi

Dirty Laundry:

   I am making a present for a friend who I am not sure is a friend. There are a lot of people in my life now who I am not sure are friends. The present is a pillow, a small cushion.  I like pillows, I like lots of pillows of all stripes. My friend jibes me about my strange handiwork. Thus, for her gift I made a foam cover of rectangles sewn as straightly as I could without measuring, with only a rare pin. There was a bit of slack in it, because who wants ever to cut too small. To tighten, I have taken fine yarn and blanket stitched the far. The cover consists of simple rectangles on each face of the oblong of foam; each rectangle is a plaid with an emphasis on green. The yarn edging is green. You, my jury, consider this: the fabric was given to me as a treasure of remnants from my friend, the bespoke designer. The yarn was a score at a thrift store. My friend, for whom is this gift, haunts thrift stores, sales, recipes for frugality. We are forever up-cycling. The materials have this message of union. I am making her this gift because I think she's my friend---of late, I am most unsure of this title among my acquaintances anymore.    This uncertainty is connected to her jibe of my strangeness. I was unaware for a goodly while of what has now come to be called Otherness.

   Recently, social media has lit up from my writer cyber-buddies on the subject of the apparent lack of concern by the Associated Writers Program for disability inclusion.  Now, I have responded in cyber with the sentiment that AWP is a country club. Along the way, I have read essays posted as both status comments and blog entries regarding the various lifestyles of those who self-identify as disabled.  Huzzah!

  I do not confess my disability. My sister was loudly disabled, and my formative years were a soft nightmare. We no longer speak.

   Any Otherness I might have had was silenced.   Over the years, I have

gathered information regarding what is, surprisingly to me, my non-normative attributes. There's state documentation about the impairments to hearing and vision. These were acquired damages. There have been damages. These are punishment for that more secret sin of Otherness.

   I am, apparently, Other to everyone. Oh, I have tried to ally myself a plenty. Not as gruesomely as did my sister, who chased joining with a starving dog's desperation,  but nonetheless.    Once I had a profoundly Other boyfriend. I loved his Otherness, though he was naughty,  as  I have loved the Otherness in all who I love. Anyway, we were sitting at a stoplight under an overpass of an endlessly-under-construction superhighway.  In the shadowed dirt of the street was a bus stop. We had been having a conversation between his fugue states of how his Otherness frightened people.  At the stoplight was his split-second confession of how this had hurt him: he rolled his eyes and stuck out his tongue, Noh dancer lion, with great sardonism said "I'm scary".

   I don't intend my Otherness to frighten, but ---sigh---it does.   So I am making a pillow for my friend who I hope is my friend. Maybe I will embroider a phrase; maybe I will further embellish the edging.

   It is raining again because the Ass Saw the Angel, the sea rises from the sky, and I weep for horses' feet.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Interview with Rochelle Lynn Holt

Belinda:  Tell me a little about your background.  When did you first want to be a writer?  Who were your influences etc.?
Rochelle:  When I was six years old I asked Santa for a typewriter. I knew I wanted to be a writer because I was an avid reader since the first summer book mobile in Chicago.

Belinda:  Curious about your interest in Anais Nin.....  Was it her actual writing or her lifestyle and friends (or both) that interested you?
Rochelle:  It was the unique lyrical flow of Anais' writing that first appealed to me when I read UNDER A GLASS BELL short stories and HOUSE OF INCEST. I had never read anything so musically flowing before and had been writing poems as a young person.

Belinda: Were you familiar with her writings before her diaries were published and she was on the best seller list?
Rochelle:   A friend in Karl Shapiro's poetry class at U of Illinois in Chicago introduced me to Anais' writing via the above books. Then Rhetoric professor said, if you want to study writing, read entire body of work by one; I chose Anais because there was not much published by her at time.

Belinda:  What was your first meeting like?  Did you become good friends?
Rochelle:  We became friends through mail when I was student at Writers Workshop in Fiction at U of Iowa in Iowa City.  I was working on a newspaper there and asked her to send me more books to review after I'd reviewed hers. Then in 1970 she invited me to join her at U of Ca. in Berkley to be on a program with her and I became part of her Anais Nin circle. I'd started the letterpress publisher, Ragnarok, with D H Stefanson in Iowa City then Sioux City, Iowa and then Holly Springs, MS and Birmingham, Al where I sold the press to U of Alabama.

Belinda:  Tell us about your research.... You seem to be an expert on the subject of Anais Nin....
Rochelle:  My goal as writer was to publish something in every genre.
My MFA thesis was two lyrical novellas; my exam centered around Anais Nin. I knew I wanted to do a critical study on her same as her UNDERSTANDING D H LAWRENCE which I did finally and then a sequel and in 2015 forthcoming
summer essays, reviews in ANAIS RE-VIEWED. See my website

Belinda:  Tell us whatever you like about yourself now, your projects, interests,etc.
Rochelle:   I'm always working on something, my way of finding meaning in my lifetime.  I'm in process of revising and finishing THE PLANNER (SHIFTING SHADOWS) a poem novel, form which I invented several years ago and would like to see accepted by the literary world....
I'm interested and love films, modern, old, westerns, crime dramas since
my dad was first canine corps policeman in Chicago way back when....
I love to swim and to walk. I love art fairs as I painted for two decades
and was a stone sculptor for two decades....
I love to travel. I divide time between my home in Ft Myers, FL and Bolingbrook,IL for past nine years.

Belinda:  It's an honor to meet you Rochelle, even in this small way.  

Rochelle Lynn Holt on Amazon

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Speaking to Power by Robert Zaller, reviewed by Rochelle Lynn Holt

Robert Zaller.  SPEAKING TO POWER.  (PA: The Moonstone Press, 110A S. 13th St. Philadelphia ’15 77p. $15.

     Speaking to Power is a double-edged sword in the two- part Janus address by Robert Zaller in his sixth poetry collection.  (He’s already acclaimed as Distinguished University Professor of History at Drexel University with many tomes, including two critical studies on Robinson Jeffers!)  Here, Zaller speaks to spirits of deceptive leaders and lugubrious heroes, men of power whose conquests yield only dead bodies, a theme at the heart of this vehement verse.
       While the crimes of passion (for whatever reason) are delineated in Part 1, the consequences and conflicted blame permeate the second round of struggles to comprehend not justify war, violence, assassination of ideals as well human beings.
     The title poem is a possible explanation (perhaps  tongue-in-cheek) those of us who remain behind can tolerate.

          but when I rise to go
          you stand up
          with all your wounds upon you…
           I see
           you are more martyred than Christ…
           behind you rise
           pale mountains of dead
       The cover design of apparent half-human, half-beast stone countenance is in perfect accord with the “Assassins,” “Treml,” “Brutus,” “The Death of Polycrates,” etc.  However, although the common reader may be stymied by myriad Greek (and other) allusions:  “Kreon,” “Arrogant Empire, Simpering Ruler,” s/he experiences the brutality of varied sovereigns and the irony of Zaller’s potent images, i.e. “Dear Brutus.”

                                        You can’t kill stupidity, though.
                                        It braves all wisdom, with a bible
                                        in one hand and a blind man’s staff
                                        in the other, wading shorelessly
                                        through blood. Dear Brutus, what fault?

     The book’s first poem, a possible Preface, reminds readers throughout these historical crimes (criminals) that there is never a simple answer:  “truth, freedom, joy” to justify slaughter, injustice, brutality and bloodshed.

                              The simple answers lie before us
                               with the rectitude of keys
                               for which all doorways have vanished.

     However, if one becomes aware of the reality behind the rise (ruse?) of icons to warriors bent on destruction, their “immortality” in stone has no value, is rather a monument to “immorality.”  In “Saint-Just,”

                             Revolution’s angel, Reason’s
                             priestly blade. Where
                             theorems indict, virtue
                             convicts, and logic
                             chops your head off…
                             I despise the dust
                             that forms me
                            and speaks to you.

     In the second half of Speaking to Power, the narrator is aware there will be consequences and explanations albeit faint for war which is raw, anathema to most but not all people.  In “Langue Et Parole,” the poet is aware of

                              how passion
                              is forced into the world
                              by speech
                              for language…
                              (is) a weapon that strikes dead
                              at a blow.

     Nonetheless, the poet reaches

                               for the word
                               that will notch the bow
                               and drive the poem home.

          Such is the case “In the Field” where “blood was shed.”  And, yet,

                                   God stood by,
                                   knowing why

since most humans are incapable of deciphering  and naming reasons for destruction, violence, cruelty, aggression, butchery or bullying that leads to carnage.
     Who among us can say s/he’s not been affected by war which has many connotations besides battle on the field.  “In the Last Century,”

                       …men rode to war
                       …they jumped from windows…
                           they dropped bombs that sucked the air
                           from cities and dreamed of fresh worlds
                           to conquer…
                           Somewhere along the way I was born not aborted,
                           raised not abandoned, and I joined the line to eat.
                           I held my fork upright and waited my turn.
                           It came.

     Thus, Speaking to Power is not speaking with Power but rather a vociferous indictment of invalorous Might, passionate to the point of bloody murder.  That the inglorious perpetrators of heinous crimes against humanity (and specific
notorious individuals) are remembered with incipient veneration , especially in monuments, merely perpetuates blasphemy and irreverence for what should be venerated.   From “The Rival Poet,”

                                       Stone by stone, I subtract your Temple
                                       Word by word, I rebuild your world.

        A brilliant collection that helps us reflect on the past, present and future.  For, it appears there is never a war to end all wars until each of us becomes a human being!
                                            reviewed by Rochelle Lynn Holt 

 Robert Zaller is the author of five previous verse collections and chapbooks, The Year One, Lives of the Poet, Invisible Music, For Empedocles, and Islands, as well as two critical studies, The Cliffs of Solitude: A Reading of Robinson Jeffers(Cambridge University Press), and Robinson Jeffers and the American Sublime (Stanford University Press). He is Distinguished University Professor of History at Drexel University



Friday, May 29, 2015

Building Community: Healing Horses with Andria Cogswel,by Su Zi

Horses-- despite their grace, beauty and sensitivity—are controversial in our culture now: Wild horses are being systematically hunted and face extinction, auctions send honorable athletes and former children’s companions to a  torturous death in Mexico and Canada, cities would rather allow for endangering automotive behavior than honor their historical carriage trade. Yet, the equine industry supplies billions of dollars in revenue to the economy, and is a sizeable employment base. Additionally, horses need land—and this land often is the last retreat for wildlife of fur, feather or leaf.  Those whose lives are intimately entwined with those of horses are a culture apart—theirs is a knowledge that has spanned that of human history. If we are to conquer being divided by the corporate mindset that seems hellbent on pathological profiteering, then it is time we use some horse sense.

          The art of healing is an ancient as that of horsemanship, and in every equine community is a healer. In olden times, this healer would not have just been for a dog or a child: the Healer is a crucial member of every community. Nowadays, healing is too often a tentacle of Big Pharma, yet there are those whose specialize in practices that utilize the education of modern biology and apply it to the ancient, true methods of healing. One such healer is Andria Cogswell, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, whose specialty is chiropractic, specifically on that of horses. Of her work, Dr Cogswell says she is  “passionate” because “I understand and parallel the people I work for. Most of the horses are competition horses. Most of them are high quality horses, and that doesn’t mean price—they might be a therapeutic horse, but they have a good job that they do”. She further states that “ The horses like what I do and I like the people because they are committed to their animals. Once a client sees the benefit of chiropractic and acupuncture as both a healing modality as well as working as a preventive medicine, they become repeat clients.”

She becomes part of these lives, that of the horses and the people who care for them; a term known as a horseman, the opposite of which would be a mere owner—someone who cannot tell by a bit of leftover food  that the elderly, beloved being might not be feeling well, because they never see that bit of food, they never stand and watch the trees breathe into a sunset with their horse.

          Dr Cogswell “ grew up on a dairy farm” and has “been around animals my whole life. My mom used to go twice a week and ride [the fences] in Nova Scotia, and I went in a little saddle before I went to school. I was a horse crazy kid”. Although she says “ my path was not conventional”, Dr Cogswell spent ten years in research at University of Missouri and is licensed to practice veterinary medicine in three states: Florida, Illinois and Missouri. To these states, Dr Cogswell travels, saying” I set it up to be in both regions [Florida and the Midwest] every month for a period of time so my clients could depend on me”.  How different from our current culture of drug-it-or-cut-it medicine that Dr Cogswell presents to us: that of a dependable healer who is passionate about her method of healing.
        It is this maybe Old School way of viewing health that serves to remind us of  
the backbone of community—that of repeated, reliable contact; that of skill put to service one life at a time but enhancing many lives in the process. Horses do not lie—they feel good or they do not, although horses will push themselves past pain to try and do their job: they will run until their legs snap in front of thousands of people; they will make babies and love each one until each baby is stolen from them, and love the next baby until their systems fail; they will be sold as slaves and sold again and most of them will give everything they have in each place, for each human. In fact, human history is utterly dependent on the horse. That there are a few who are committed to their horses as partners is evidenced in the heavy schedule of a healer such as Dr Cogswell. That there is one such as Dr Cogswell evidences that we, as humans, are able to see partnership beyond our own species, we are able to work together—which is the core of community: working together for the common good. Let us reflect then about the art of healing, about how it ought to be this service, this communal good—across species, even against the tides of modern meme—this crucial, needed and traditional keystone in our lives.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Catfish McDaris: Underground, Above-ground Poet

McDaris was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1953.
After 3 years serving in the military as a young man, he hopped freights and hitchhiked across the U.S. and Mexico. He built adobe houses, tamed wild horses, made cattle troughs, 
worked in a zinc smelter, and painted flag poles.

For a time, he lived in a cave and wintered in a Chevy in Denver.
He eventually settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he worked for the United States Postal Service.

In 1994, he organized a charity event of poetry and music in Milwaukee, called Wordstock. During the same year, he also read at The First Underground Press Conference at De Paul University in Chicago.

In 1998, he read at a Beatnik festival held near Allen Ginsberg's farm,

In 2007, he read at Shakespeare & Co. Bookstore in Paris. 
(from his Wikipedia entry)

Reception and Influence

McDaris has published extensively in the small press and independent magazines.  He is also often associated with Allen Ginsberg  and collaborated with Charles Bukowski on a chapbook called 'Prying'. In addition, his work has appeared in such publications as The Penny Dreadful Review, Chiron Review, The Shepherd Express  and Blink-Ink  Marquette University holds his collected published works and personal papers in their special collections archives.  (from his Wikipedia entry)

A Spring Ritual

When the lilacs bloom
their purple scent intoxicating
the air, the white bass run
in the Root River
My ladies & I catch
three & cook them over
a pungent fire on
green sticks with herbs
Most fisher folks take
stringers full & stop
at a place & clean
their catch for hours
They look at us quizzically
as we feast & wiggle our
toes in the icy rushing water.

My Magnum Opus

As I paint
I think about
Van Gogh painting
sunflowers & irises
Degas painting ballerinas
Cezanne painting fruit
Gauguin’s Tahitian women
Frida Kahlo capturing sadness
Neruda & Li Po painting
with words
I wonder if any
of them ever
Painted a bathroom
with ordinary
white latex.

(previously published in Steel Toe Review)

Listen to this recent interview with acclaimed poet, Catfish McDaris

Phalanxes of Tombstones
Reclining against a warrior’s headstone,
listening to a chevron of geese overhead
watching the pewter dawn sun peer forth
There’s no happiness at the end of a rifle
or in a bottle or magic potion, sitting among
my dead brothers, I know there’s no such
Thing as revolution, it’s just another word
meaning leap frog of the rich, so they can
buy a bit of power with the blood of the poor
The honking dies and fog vanishes, money
equals greed, possessions turn into traitors,
no one can stop time or conquer the rain.
(previously published in W.I.S.H.)

Friday, May 1, 2015

SuSu Babies: Custom Felted Dolls

SuSuBabies was born when Willette Arnett asked Susan Ludwig to needle felt a head that looked like her son Tony for his birthday. Willett (Sugar, to her family) hand sewed the body and the result made us laugh.

So Susan makes the heads out of wool and Willette sews the cotton bodies and accessorizes them. We, also make custom mini me’s and pets. We are located in Santa Teresa, NM and can be found at many of the craft shows in El Paso and New Mexico.

 Contact Susan through her website:

Maybe you could have the likeness of someone you love made into a doll?

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