Wednesday, February 29, 2012

BLUE POODLE by Georgia Jones-Davis, reviewd by BL Kennedy

Blue Poodle
Georgia Jones-Davis
Finishing Line Press
29 pgs
ISBN: 1-59924-772-0

The Day Tumbles Away
Like a Butterfly

The day tumbles away
like a butterfly
hard pears rest
in a stoneware bowl

trees sing
in the nervous November gusts
as the air shudders
in gaudy light

wind chimes
hold a breath hesitate
and their jangled music

hold a breath hesitate
while the pears
in the stoneware bowl

Blue Poodle
is one of those rare treats that a reviewer happens to come across. Included with the text was a handsome little letter from the author informing me that she sent the book at the suggestion of poet Millicent Borges Accardi. Now I am the first to admit that over the years I have gotten many letters from authors asking for a review of their book. However, it is very rare that the book is a beautifully written as Blue Poodle. I think author Georgia Jones-Davis is an outstanding poet with a brave and waiving imagination. Her poem Listening to Ann Sexton took me by surprise with its lovely lyricism and gripping narrative. I want to tell people that this is an important book of poetry and should definitely be in your collection or the collection of someone you love.

In closing, I wanna say Blue Poodle took me by surprise. This collection of dreams came rollerskating up my spine and left me with just wanting more. Georgia Jones Davis is an intelligent and elegant writer of poetry, and I hope to see much more of her work. So I as I stated previously, buy this book. I don’t care how you do it, it’s worth the fourteen dollar price and definitely well worth the effort. You won’t be disappointed.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Hiroshi Negishi's Tenchi Muyo! In Love 2: DISTANT MEMORIES, reviewed by Travis Hedge Coke

When I first experienced Hiroshi Negishi's film, I was made to realize how much I could forgive if I felt the desperation behind violation. I was nineteen or twenty, judgmental, and usually felt vindicated. Tenchi Muyo! In Love 2, which we got as Tenchi Forever in the States, and Japan saw as Haruka Naru Omoi, is the story of a dead woman who so desperately wants the life she should have had, the love she could have had, that she kidnaps the grandson of her former lover, brainwashes him, and maintains as pleasant a fantasy for him as she can, so long as he'll come home to their apartment every day. She changes the whole world and robs her new lover of any option, all to make sure he's there every morning.

Now, when Dennis Hopper's Frank Booth does something similar in Blue Velvet, even though we see him weepy and damaged as well as cruel and enraged, we don't care. I don't care that Booth has problems. He's a monster doing terrible things. Right? But our eyes and judgments are Jeffrey Beaumont in Blue Velvet, and Jeffrey never waivers in his condemnation and fear of Booth, so why would we? Why would we ever? In the Wizard of Oz, the Witch has a pretty good point about Dorothy killing her sister and stealing the disintegrating decedent's shoes. But, who cares? We do not, because Dorothy does not.

But, with this movie, our eyes and heart into the story, Masaki Tenchi, only ever wants to help, and he thinks squarely that holding onto this sad ghost, holding her firmly and kindly, is going to help. He's going to right things not by defying her wishes, but in light of believing her desires to be just, her feeling of deprivation to be accurate and worth correcting. I think, in my head, “enabler” was, up to that point in my life, a fairly abstract thing. You stood on your own feet and if you could, you helped others stand. We use “crutch” as an epithet, often, when we really come to terms with enabling and hurting through assisting, but the thing of it is that a crutch is a useful tool. A crutch, like everything, has a finite presence, if it's to be beneficial, it has limits.

It also helped that Tsuneyoshi Saito's gorgeous score of strings and sadness has all the sway of a genius preacher and is deployed with no regard to letting the audience make up their own mind. A pure pitch of a score, song after song of conviction and rigged games. It helps that the actors know how to keep quiet and the that light is treated as a very palpable affectation. And, that the sex is both undetailed and up front, the lovemaking very real because it is entirely drawn and voiced from booths, actors standing before mics; foleyed and animated into existence. The movie is direct where others would immediately be played safe. What I mean is that if it were a live action film, the characters would have to be cartooned as Frank Booth, the dynamics caricatured as Dorothy and the Wicked Witch.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Red Storm: A Novel by Frank Luna, reviewed by BL Kennedy

Red Storm: A Novel
Frank Luna
Gravity Bay Publishing
278 pgs
ISBN: 978-061464657

The giant spacecraft hurtled toward Mars at an astonishing speed, marking the first time humans had traveled at such an incredible velocity. Never before had the world seen such a magnificent machine. While space travel had been a reality for decades, Mars 3 represented a radical breakthrough in a spacecraft design.

According to the biography of the author, Frank Luna is an Emmy-award winning director with 30 years experience working in broadcast news that currently lives with his wife and their son Matthew in Sacramento, California. This is his first novel.

At 278 pages, I found the book had a rather slow start and didn’t quite catch my attention immediately. It’s not until I was halfway through the book when I decided that its author had a unique science fiction story that grabbed my attention. The book is about American commander “Mac” MacTavish and his international team of scientists and engineers who were wrapping up an 18 months mission at Mars Base, when without warning Earth is mysteriously lost. This is classic science fiction and despite the fact that I am not a big fan of classic science fiction, the book managed to grab me by the shirttails, especially in its latter half.

I like Red Storm,and found Frank Luna to be a very entertaining author in this particular genre. It’s the author’s talent for engaging the reader in plot twists that I found most satisfying. My one complaint (and this often happens with review copies): the publisher, Gravity Bay, did not list the book’s price. Apart from the slow beginning, I found Red Storm to be a very entertaining novel, and will recommend it to anyone who gravitates towards this particular genre. Buy the book. Check it out. I think you’ll be very surprised.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Measured Breathing by Michael Hettich, reviewed by BL Kennedy

The Measured Breathing
Michael Hettich
Swan Scythe Press
23 pgs
ISBN: 978-1-930454-35-4

The Halo

In my garden there’s a plant that grows nowhere else,
with leaves shaped like the last breath we’ll ever take.
It has a flower none of us can see.

According to the poet Susan Kelly DeWitt, who writes about the poems in this book: “Mystery, these poems tell us, continues to reside at the center of everything we think we know about existence.” The Measured Breathing by Michael Hettich is a fine collection of poetry. Winner of Swan Scythe Press’s 2011 chapbook contest, I find that the poet has a singular voice and a whimsy emotional range. The poet often approaches the poetry from the interior landscape of consciousness; a world encountered by one’s Self that is beyond language. I like a lot of the poems in this book, with short direct titles such as “The Lesson” “Routine” “Empty Sky” and “The Maps.” The poetry of Michael Hettich is introspective and exploratory. The language is very direct, filled with a clarity that mushrooms.

So, do I recommend this book? I’d be doing it great injustice by saying yes, but at the same time, it would be just as bad of an injustice to say no. I find this work to be a beautiful painting in words. But, by the same token, I feel that there is something missing in the way the collection is put together. Don’t get me wrong, at 33 pages, it’s a tightly bound and beautiful book. It’s just that upon reading it, not all the poems spoke to me, and that’s okay, because I’ve never read a collection of poetry where the book spoke to me from one end to the next. Now, I know what you’re thinking, reader? “Kennedy, that’s bullshit. Because I just read your review of Ann Menebroker’s book, and you liked all the poems in that!” I will say that there is a big difference between a master poet and a poet like Michael, who is still honing his craft. So yeah, up to you reader. If you’re a lover of poetry of all types, buy it. If you are intrigued, check it out. I give no refunds.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wild as in Familiar by Ellarine Lockie, reviewed by BL Kennedy

Wild as in Familiar
Ellarine Lockie
Finishing Line Press
29 pgs
ISBN: 1-59924-886-7

Found Poem

In the distant squawk of seagulls
The ocean sucks you in
On this woodland walk
The wind whispers your name
By the pink clover blossoms
A bee promiscuous in public
The sun’s copper shine on a penny
The year we met
A tree struck by lightning
Dark and split before me
Fear in a deer’s eyes
Yet you didn’t run
Broken green glass
Your fetish for sharp edges
Shards stilled and embedded by foot traffic
Tin tastes of blood running down a thigh
Moss swelling between rocks
Postage stamp lick in a damp place
Red breast in a robin
Scarlet silk untethered
An empty Marlboro pack crushed
A dead wasp in my windowsill.

Wild as in Familiar is conceivably Ellaraine Lockie’s best collection, and I need to clarify that when I say best collection, I am simply talking about the collections that I have read by this talented poet. At twenty six plus pages, the chapbook is a handsome edition to any poetry lover’s library.

I find of these poems to be explosive and charming; a considerable accomplishment, for here, the poet Lockie addresses both childhood memories and nightmares. In fact, I can say there is almost non-human, spooky quality that both haunt and comfort in this collection of poetry.

The poet takes us on a journey wild and familiar and seems almost like a grounded Steven King. I really like this book, and as a poet, I’m very fond of Ellaraine Lockie, for I do not know of many poets who can take such natural images as earthworms, rosebushes, crows and hummingbirds and turn them into a lyrical reflection that readers will embrace. Purchase this collection.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Measure of Small Gratitudes by Anne Menebroker, reviewed by BL Kennedy

The Measure of Small Gratitudes
Ann Menebroker
Kamini Press
ISBN: 978-91-977437-7-8


i’ve got chet baker on
and love his sexy, sensual
voice, but it can’t take me back
anymore to romance or a twosome
in bed. it’s a combined feeling
of memory and existence—
of flowers sent to me that are
as beautiful as then. as timeless
as now. think of a woman trying
to lift a barbell weighing forty
pounds on a broken arm.

Ann Menebroker is a legend in the world of poetry. This author of 23 some odd titles writes with a marked narrative that is clear and filled with her sexy, sensual voice. A good example is the poem “Barbell”, in which Menebroker writes to the great jazz trumpet player Chet Baker and invokes the rhythmic spell of one of his horn solos.

I can say a lot of things about Ann Menebroker, who in my opinion is a unique poet with a lovely wintersweet voice that will drum through your ears. I love all of the poems in this small collection by Kamini Press. I truly urge any lover of poetry to purchase a copy of this book while they last, because any lover of poetry knows how unique, independent presses publish in very small numbers.

Look, I’m not pulling your nightcoat, kiddos. Maybe I’ve gone a little bit overboard, because the poems in this collection are simply that good. But I urge the reader to discover the work of Ann Menebroker, and if you respond to poetry as I do, you’ll quickly find what pieces fit.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Jon Moritsugu's Mommy Mommy Where's My Brain? movie review by Travis Hedge Coke

“This movie is dedicated to AC/DC and Jacques Derrida.”

Called “a Marxis critique of post-commodity representation” and “sorta like hanging out with Derrida and sticking your head in the toilet to escape the noise,” Mommy Mommy Where's My Brain? Is ten minutes of intense spectacle intentionally so lofi you have to really look to see it, you have to actually blank out everything else and focus, if you want to hear. That's a great technique, a marvelous use of lofi, itself, making it a kind of firewall of focus. You're either in, or you are instantly and wordlessly told that it is not for you.

Alongside – if discordantly – communication and concept, is the pace and pitch of the movie. Mommy Mommy... rams fast movements against still images, delicate matter with soft, loud and clear with quiet and mumbled, conversations with nonsequitors, generates frisson of familiarity with stark cash, cars, sex and text. The frequency only communicates when you tune in.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

THE ASSASSINS CLUB by Dixon Bennett Rice

The Assassins Club
Dixon Bennett Rice
Mountain Lane LLC
Sold on Amazon
Kindle Edition $2.99

A donation is made to MANA Nutrition, a worldwide hunger charity, with each sale of The Assassins Club.

This thriller takes place in the early 1970s, featuring two very different killers. Tyler Goode, early 20s and newly moved to Montana after his family perished in a hit-and-run accident, is cornered by the town bully and must kill to survive. Nobody witnesses this battle to the death, and he walks away thinking he did the community a public service – and it felt pretty good. Then the bully’s brother starts stalking him, and Ty realizes he must kill again, except with forethought this time. A month after dispatching the brother, Ty kills once more in order to save a friend’s life. By now, it’s become both a habit and a hobby, with Ty figuring he’s tipping the scales between good and evil after the death of his family.

Alternating chapters present a bearded, thirtyish man who emerges nude from the ocean near Ensenada, Mexico. He meets a woman walking along the beach. Startled, she blurts out, “Jesus! You’re naked.”

He thinks to himself, “So that’s who I am” before killing her and taking her white beach robe. Jesus walks up the coast, killing when it pleases him, and gathers a Manson-like tribe of weak-minded losers. In southern Washington, he turns east, led by the voices in his head.

Jesus will run into Ty when he reaches Montana, but who will survive the encounter?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

FROM SEED TO SIN by Rebecca Schumejda, reviewed by BL Kennedy

From Seed to Sin
Rebecca Schumejda
Bottle of Smoke Press


You advise me to eat bread
until the fire in my mouth is extinguished,
but I beg you to suck on my lips
as if to extract venom.

When the juices on my fingertips
invade my vision you are
laughing, holding me, laughing—

and this is, this is, love
this burning, this blurring, the resurrection

This is a handsome little book. I can’t tell you how much it costs, though we guessed twelve dollars because its one of those beautiful projects from Bottle of Smoke Press. It’s hand-woven to boot. I like Ms. Schumejda’s work. Her poetry is filled with a clear and rich language that tends to draw the reader into the poem with grace. Reading her poems is like having a religious experience, and for that, I bow to her. Rebecca’s work is very visual and filled with stunning images, and her voice is that clear narrative that lets the poem simply slip into your psyche.

I am very fond of a poem in this collection called “In the Garden Before a Storm”. This is a perfect example of the Narrative poem that seems to come so freely from the poet to the page. Rebecca is one of those poets that will take you for a very enjoyable and lyrical ride through the landscape of her psyche.

I love this collection and strongly urge the reader of this review to get in touch with bottle of smoke press to procure a copy of to at least find out if any copies are left.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

GONE SANE by Christal Rice Cooper, reviewed by BL Kennedy

Gone Sane
Christal Rice Cooper
River King Press
195 pgs
ISBN: 978-0-9650764-4-9

The Ressurection

The blood thickened and chilled her body.
His seed branded her tight white thighs,
Stinging—more potent with each spill.
Oh, what a sexy guy! He makes her say it
over, over. Her blonde-boned body convulses
in the snow, and an owl calls from the bloody bed.
Run! She tries, leaves her corpse dead stiff,
and stands in places where men are insects
to crush. She rips at his wings with her teeth,
and watches him crawl.

One of the best things about reviewing books is that occasionally, a poet will be brave enough to send me a copy of one or two of their collections. I got this book in the mail a few weeks ago, and it was at a time when so many books came that I was reading, and considering for review, that I had to put this aside. But, having found some extra time to read and digest the poems in this book, I found myself in a state of awe of this big collection. In fact, that is one of my major criticisms of this book. At 197 pages, it becomes kind of a clunky size for a collection of poetry. I think, had Cristal Rice Cooper had an outside editor, this one very good collection could have become two or even three very excellent books.

Cooper is a clear writer who, from biographical notes, is currently studying for her Master’s in Creative Writing with a focus on poetry at Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville, and that is another one of my criticisms of this collection. It is oh so academic, and being such, rubs my spine in the wrong place. One very cool thing about this collection is the artwork, by Sue Messerly and Renee Sheridan, which I found to be just pleasing roadsigns between certain poems. I am particularly fond of Renee Sheridan’s piece Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe. This is one of those rare cases where the artwork works with the adjoining poem, A Fiction of the Rose (for Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe. It’s one of the best poems in this collection. So am I gonna tell you to purchase a copy of Gone Sane? Because if you are a true lover of poetry, be it academic or counter cultural, you will want this book in your library. Period.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

THE DISTANCE BETWEEN by Julie Valin, reviewed by BL Kennedy

The Distance Between
Julie Valin
Six Ft. Swells Press
Grass Valley, CA
50 pgs
ISBN: 978-1-43672-1-473


You promised
you would kiss
every one of them
if you could find them.

I would scar them
into me
all over again
if I believed you.

According to the brief biological note at the end of this collection, Julie Valin is a literary harlot. When she isn’t writing poetry, reading two books at once, playing Word Mole on her smart phone, or reading bedtime stories to her little girl, Julie is a freelance copy-editor, book designer, Poet in the Schools, and co-publisher and editor of Six Foot Swells Press. That is what it says in the biographical notes.

However, I simply know Julie Valin as a wonderful poet whose words sparkle with imagination and narrative hum. Julie is one of those poets from the Bill Gainer Grass Valley School of poetry. At least that’s how I met her. But over the years, I’ve seen this wonderful young poet grow within her own voice, and The Distance Between is a fine example of this young poet’s very unique voice. And trust me; this is a voice that needs to be heard. So, order the book and see what the fuss is all about, for this poet writes with a clear voice and a distinct love for the word. I highly recommend this book, for there is nothing about Julie Valin’s poems that will not keep you from hopping with enjoyment, and swimming in the oceans of your own heart. So purchase a copy of The Distance Between. IF you love poetry, you’ll be doing yourself a great favor.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Poetry of Kevin M. Hibshman

Kevin M. Hibshman has authored or co-authored twelve books of poetry. His latest, Incessant Shining, will soon be available from Propaganda Press. In addition to having had poems appear in numerous journals and magazines around the world, Kevin edited his own small poetry magazine, "FEARLESS" for sixteen years. He received a BA in Liberal Arts from Union Institute & University/Vermont College in 2010. Kevin lives in Pennsylvania with his partner,William, who is an artist, and their cat, Siouxsie.

Equus Revisited
(for My Friend Liam)

In the night we galloped.

The horse and I one flame.

Cutting through the dense growth like light through fog.

I saw a mist worth reaching into.

We circled savagely, nearly pure essence, and shot into the heart of
the forest like a bullet through a photo.

Whip-lashed thigh and scissored skin as the reigns carved into flesh.

I, a once-shy rider, had surrendered to trust and the instinct was
liquid mercury in my veins.

Snorts and hooves pounding.

Blood streaming.

Wind lashing.

Unbridled, we soared.

I laughed as I threw my head back, reason eclipsed by a madness that assured me

We were on a collision course to greet our God.

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