Monday, April 30, 2012

THE DARK ENDEAVOR by Kenneth Oppel, reviewed by BL Kennedy





The Dark Endeavor
Kenneth Oppel
New York, NY
297 pgs
ISBN: 978-1-4424-0315-4

We found the monster on a rocky ledge high above the lake. For three dark days my brother and I had tracked it through maze of caves to its lair on the mountain’s summit. And now we beheld it, curled atop its treasure, its pale fur and scaled ablaze with moonlight.

It knew we were there. Doubtless it had smelled us coming, its flared nostrils drinking in our sweat and fea. Its crested head lifted slightly, almost lazily. Coins and jewels clinked and shifted as its body began to recoil.

There is a new school of literature in our midst: it’s called ‘tweenlit’. You know, its literature for those between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one. We might argue that this new field of literature was started by those accursed Harry Potter books (I’m sure you’ve all seen the movies). It goes on to Twilight and the Hunger Games; empires of rabid teen appreciation. Now, we finally have something that they can dig their teeth into. It’s the story of the apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein. Believe it or not, I really enjoyed this book. I would highly recommend it just on the basis that it might spark some enthusiasm in young readers and old to investigate Mary Shelley’s classic.

Kenneth Oppel, the author This Dark Endeavor is a good writer for what he does, and that’s all you need to know. I highly recommend the book, and if you can find it on Amazon or your local bookstore, I would say buy it and give your child a really cool present. Or, save it for yourself.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

NATIONAL CASH by Marcello Tino





National Cash by Marcello Tino
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Thompson and Prince (March 28, 2012)
ISBN-10: 061558893X
ISBN-13: 978-0615588933




National Cash is about sex, drugs, rock and roll, and a Second American Revolution where the children of the 60s became giants and took on the corporate Leviathan, overthrew two presidents of the United State, nearly toppled an Empire, and stood at the door to eternity where Zen meets quantum physics and everything is possible.


Lori Anne Lee says:

From the moment I started it until I finished the last page, I was astonished by the depth of perception and sophistication of this multi-layered novel. It's a historical, adventure, and love story together set in one the most turbulent yet inspiring eras in our nation's history: the 60's. The protagonist, Sonny Versace, is dynamic and complex. His female counterpart (and love interest), Miranda Hewitt, is formidable. Tino's grasp of culture, history, politics, and character is impressive but what truly sets him apart is his gorgeous imagery and the archetypal metaphors that establish him as a true poet and important writer of our age. As you turn the pages, you will be pulled into a story of the American people that must be told. You should read this novel.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Yolanda Martinez, Artist, Singer, Composer and Master Drum Maker

Legends Alive Productions, LLC
Since 1994
Native American Owned & Operated
Authentic Native American Drums & More
by Yolanda Martinez

Yolanda Martinez is Apache/Comanche/Hispanic born in S New Mexico. She is an Artist, Singer, Composer, and Master Drum Maker. She was one of 11 children and was raised in New Mexico till the age of 15 when her family moved to California, San Joaquin Valley in 1965.

In 1986 Spirit sent a message for her to make a Drums. She made her first drum in 1987. This turned out to be a base drum made out of a redwood planter. She thought she had completed her task, and was ready to move on, WRONG! Great Spirit still kept after her to “MAKE DRUMS”!

After a lot of frustration, prayers, tears, and a near death experience she decided to surrender and let Spirit guide her, this is when she started creating drums that wake up the soul, balance and connect you with Earth Mothers rhythms in nature, her heartbeat, and song.

In summer of 1975 Yolanda was drawn to Alaska where she spent 8 years on the Island of Kodiak. She was one of the first Commercial Fishing Women as back then women were not allowed on fishing boats. She fished commercially and worked as a cook and deck hand for 2 years before starting her own business as a Professional Picture Framer and Gallery Owner. In 1980 she decided to move her and her daughter back to California where her family still lives.

After her return Yolanda started the Central Valley Moon Lodges in Modesto, CA. in 1992. She has been very active in teaching and organizing the spiritual way of the woman and the balance between herself, her family and Mother Earth. Using her Drums and her Songs Yolanda works through her music.

She was inspired to do her first recording “RESOUNDING SPIRITUALITY,” Drumming & Chants in 1993 and on to record, “DREAMING WOMAN,” “PRAIRIE MOTHER, “LONELY WARRIOR,” 2000 NAMMY Nominated, “DESERT SONG,” 2003 NAMMY Nominated, “NATIVE HEARTBEAT,” 2004 NAMMY WINNER “BEST FEMALE ARTIST,” AMERICA, 2007 NAMMY Nominated, AMOR DEVERAS, 2010 NAMMY Nominated. Yolanda also received a 2008 NATIVE-E AWARD for “BEST REMAKE” of “SUMMER TIME” for her AMERICA CD.

In 1993 she moved to Asheville, NC where she spent 6 years in the beautiful forest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This beautiful, magical land is what inspired her to create and write her music. Yolanda currently resides in Las Cruces, NM. Where she came back home to her beautiful home state of New Mexico with the Organ Mts. in her back yard, beautiful sunsets, and glorious nights. She is continuing her work and is conducting Drum Making Workshops, Drumming Circles, Women’s Circles and Concerts nationally and internationally.

We carry wonderful authentic Native American Crafts and Gifts. With all her traveling performing Yolanda has met some wonderful gifted crafters that she honors by carrying their beautiful items for you to choose from. We make sure to mark the items that are NOT Native American Made with ‘NN’ (Non Native) so you always know what you are purchasing.

Please visit http://yolandasdrums.com/ for more information. We hope you enjoy our site and that we have succeeded in making it a journey to remember and one that you will recommend to your friends and keep coming back to.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

NAZI LITERATURE IN THE AMERICAS by Roberto Bolano, reviewed by BL Kennedy





Nazi Literature in the Americas
Roberto Bolano
New Directions Publishing
New York,NY
227 pgs
$13.95
ISBN: 978-8112-1794-1


Irma Carrasco

Puebla Mexico-1910—Mexico City

A Mexican poet inclined to mysticism and tormented phraseology. At the age of twenty she published her first collection of verse, The Voice You Withered, which bears witness to a stubborn and sometimes fanatical reading of Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz.

Her grandparents and parents were supporters of the Porfio Diaz. Her elder brother was a priest who embraced the cause of the Cristeros and was executed in 1928. In her 1933 collection, The Destiny of Women, she confessed that she was in love with God, Life, and a New Mexican Dawn, to which she also referred indiscriminately as “resurrection, awakening, forgiveness, falling in love forgiveness” and “marriage”.


I do not know precisely what I think of this book. In fact, I do not know how this book relates to me as a poet. The author, Roberto Bolano, is highly respected in his field by the likes of Allen Ginsberg, Octavio Paz, and Lezama Lima. To be honest with you, I couldn’t give two flying fucks if the author was recommended by Borges. I think that Nazi Literature in the Americas offers little insight into the workings of a lame and racist imagination.

The book is broken down into fourteen thematic sections, in which the writer lives through politics and literary works. Oh, I should add, it includes bibliographies and cross references, with an epilogue for all you monsters who are foaming at the mouth to read this book. My advice is that at the price of $13.95, even if it is published by New Directions Press, this book is just a waste of money.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

MONDAYS WITH MARY by Sam Oliver




This book outlines the process of entering into a relationship with those who are dying. Although the focus of attention is on Hospice Volunteering, it can be read and used by anyone caring for someone involved in the care of a dying loved one. As you read these pages, you will find yourself connecting with Mary and Jim in places deep within your heart known as the place your soul calls home.

You will find your heart awaken into an eternal love with each section of this book allowing you to discover your true nature. Your creative imagination will enter into places you knew as a child. It is the place inside you where dreams come true. Let your heart open where your mind takes you in this book and you will find that place whereby we are known as we are truly known.

Sam Oliver has cared for the needs of the dying in palliative care for over 22 years. During that time, he has served as the Chair and Co-chair of Hospice Ethics Committees in Indiana and Ohio. He has served several years as a State Continuing Education Chairperson for the Association of Professional Chaplains in Indiana. Presently, Sam is the Chaplain for Amedisys Hospice Services in Southern New Hampshire.

Kindle Version: http://www.amazon.com/Mondays-with-Mary-ebook/dp/B007W6293G/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1335005576&sr=1-1

Novel Version: http://www.amazon.com/Mondays-Mary-Sam-Oliver/dp/1604145536/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1335005755&sr=1-3

Saturday, April 21, 2012

La Machine Art Company, presented by Walter Ruhlmann

There exists a city in the west of France, Nantes, which is reputed for many things but one of the most popular and recent is this cultural and architectural company called La Machine [The Machine]. This company is at the origin of the most amazing realizations in the city. Who would have guessed one could actually ride a giant elephant – bigger than a wild one – and visit its clock-work entrails? Or be sprayed by water expelled by its trunk?

François Delarozière created this company in 1999 and still leads it. He gathered technicians, architects, street-artists, craftspeople all around him, bought this abandoned ship building hangar which they first demolished almost entirely, then rebuilt as to provide an open space museum called La Gallerie. [The Gallery]

This is the place where everything occurs: the conceptualization, the construction, the exhibition, eventually the implantation and evolution of many of their present and up-coming creations. The Great Elephant, Nantes.

The Great Elephant is probably one of the most popular here in Nantes as much as in the whole country. You may take a tour or just watch it pace slowly along the banks of the Loire river, across the ancient shipyard, past the carousel to be. For they are currently building a carousel based on Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea – Jules Verne was born in Nantes in 1828 and is one of the most popular French novelists of the 19th century; he can be compared to Herbert George Wells as to the type of stories they both wrote, except Verne's novels were more science than fiction. Anyway, this new creation – the Carrousel des mondes marins [Sea Worlds Carousel] is inspired by many of the characters Verne described in his novel. It will open in July 2012 and is over 65 ft high and over 82 ft wide. Its top will reach the Great Elephant's back and give a wonderful sight of the city. What the Carousel will soon look like (computer generated image)

For this company and the gallery are situated on the Ile de Nantes [Island of Nantes] a large bit of land surrounded by two arms of the Loire river. It is on this island that most of cultural events take place in the city. This is the place where ships accosted in the 17th and 18th century before Saint-Nazaire, a port west of Nantes was in use, it is also the place where one of the corners of the slave trade triangle was based.

Other creations include Les mécaniques savantes [The Smart Clockworks], Aéroflorale II, etc. They do not only build and perform in Nantes but are present everywhere in the world – mostly Europe – Liverpool, Lisbon, Yokohama, Anvers, Bruges...

They intend to invent the cities of the future, to develop those we dream of in order to have a new vision of the current ones. As they say on their website, if so many crafts are involved it is to justify this saying: “L’homme et ses savoir-faire sont l’essence même du processus de création.” Man and his know-how are the very essence of the creative process.

Walter Ruhlmann, Nantes, April 3, 2012 http://lorchideenoctambule.hautetfort.com

Thursday, April 19, 2012

OUT OF OZ by Gregory Maguire, reviewed by BL Kennedy






Out of Oz
Gregory Maguire
Harper Collins
New York, NY
568 pgs
$26.99
ISBN: 978-0-06-054894-0





It would take Dorothy Gale and her relatives three days to reach the mountains by train from Kansas, the conductor told them.

No matter what the schoolteacher had said about Galileo, Copernicus, and those other spoilsports, any cockamamie theory that the world was round remained refuted by the geometrical instrument of a rattling train applied to the spare facts of a prairie. Dorothy watched eagles and hawks careening too high to cast shadows, she watched the returning larks and bluebirds, and she wondered what they knew about the shape of the world, and if they would ever tell here.


Gregory Maguire, the New York Times Bestselling author of Wicked is at it again with this final volume in the Wicked years. My prediction is that this book will not only be immensely successful, but also very sought after. Simply put, Maguire's audience will not be disappointed. I’m kinda sad, though; its all gonna be coming to an end with this book. Reading it left me wanting more. Gregory Maguire took his inspiration from America’s first fairy tale, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and created a world that will leave people screaming from the Middle Earth. The Middle Earth is safe compared to the political climate of Oz. This book is about the granddaughter of the Wicked Witch of the West, and her coming to understand abilities that have grown within her. The book, to say the least, is remarkable, extraordinary, delicious, and bewitching. This is a sophisticated fantasy cycle, inspired by work of L. Frank Baum. The first book, Wicked, went from novel to Tony winning Broadway production. Its going to be sad watching it disappear with this novel. This is probably Maguire’s most trans-formative work, a thrilling and compulsively readable saga. Once again, we experienced social unrest in Emerald City, for there is a mounting invasion on Munchkin land. Glenda is under house arrest, and the Cowardly Lion is on the run from the law, when who comes knocking at the door? It’s none other than Dorothy, and that’s all that needs to be said. The book is a wonderful read filled with beautiful, imaginative histories and quickly moving chapters that will just seduce the reader, and I promise, you will not be able to put this book down once you start it.

So yeah, I guess what I’m saying is that if you are a fan of the writing of Gregory Maguire and L. Frank Baum, if you are an Ozhead or you just remember the movie with Judy Garland, buy this book. I promise you it is worth every penny and more. Reading Out of Oz is one of the most enjoyable experiences that I have had in a while.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Gene of El Paso: Poet, singer/songwriter/musician


photo by Richard Baron






WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A POET (by Gene Keller)

I am sure I have been spontaneously producing poems and songs all my life. I
know this because I heard both my children making up poems and songs before they
started school. I must have, too. I remember making up a poem when I was eight.
And it was at that age I first had a guitar in my hands.

In my high school senior year, I began to consciously write poems and songs in
response to several horrors - President Kennedy was shot and a good friend
committed suicide. Like many young people of my generation, I wanted to be a
rock star. Unfortunately, I did not have the skill or the personality. Anyway I
was destined to be a poet.

However, it took a long time to find the temerity to say I am a poet. Not until
my forties did I make a serious commitment. Even then I didn’t truly understand
what the statement “I am a poet” means. After more than a decade of study and
practice, I identified and defined, (at least for myself,) the five functions of
a poet. And, as I have been able, I work in these multiple areas: maker, seer,
healer, singer, storyteller.



1. Makar is an old word for artist and poet, the poet as maker of word
artifacts - birthday or holiday poems, political or other public announcements.
I also feel bound by this duty to make my own chapbooks and broadsides.

2. The seer function incorporates much between prayer and vision, and it may
simply be an expression of hope for the community and the self. Beyond doubt,
something ineffable is going on in life, so some poets try to define what is
essentially irrational, outside of the senses as confined to holes in the head.

3. Surely the scalpel has a place in the doctor’s bag of tricks, but word-based
healing is also vital, and not only in psychotherapy. Whether the poet delves
into personal psychic wounds or those inflicted by history, putting the pain
into words bears healthy results.

4. In my experience, poetry and song come from the same source, the same need.
Even an oral performance of a poem has musical qualities, and as with music,
people need to hear the healing vibrations of poetry, maybe even dance to the
rhythms. Thereby the performer and the audience get to breathe deeply together.

5. At the roots of poetry, the lyric and the narrative are both required. From
our cave-residing ancestors to Homer and on to contemporary masters, readers /
listeners want to get lost in stories, to see themselves in stories.



As with other skills, some poets are better at different functions. For example,
I play guitar, have a loud voice, and more often prefer a lyric response to a
narrative one. But I like the challenges offered by trying my hand at the broad
spectrum of poetic expression.

Pride and ego have to be considered and controlled because some of the functions
can place the poet in the path of temptations, for some in the community mistake
the message which is passing through the poet for the physical vessel that is
the poet. One is the breath, the other is the breather.

Being a poet at this level is a great responsibility. When I try to explain it
to myself, I think of the responsibilities as being the toll for having the
gift. I have taken a vow similar to the vows that teachers and physicians make,
at least to themselves, to serve the public, the community, even when it is
inconvenient or costly.

When one has a calling, the topic must be professed. That make me a professor of
poetry. I believe poetry can help the world and poets have a responsibility to
do so. Posterity may judge the value and the success.

- Gene Keller / EPTX / 14 Apr 12

BUY HIS MUSIC at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/genemusic

"Blues for No Reason" is copyright 2004,
by Gypsy Wind Music, and the track was produced by Doug Adamz.

Friday, April 13, 2012

TeleMagica: A Festival for Artists and Mystics





The very first artists were the cave painters. Rock walls were their permanent canvas. Throughout the year, we at the Institute of Perception, roam the Jacumba landscape as "Mystic Archeologists." We search for artifacts left hundreds of years ago by these indigenous artists, who created marks in resin paints, and used obsidian tools to carve boulders into sculptures that remained until this day.

We found "dreaming beds" in massive rocks and "cave portals" for astral projection. Certain caves were enhanced with "light piercings". These cutout areas allowed a particular band of sunlight to enter the cave at a precise moment defining space and time for intended "Dreaming".

We have reactivated those grounds as a Power Spot (a place on Earth which emanates large
amounts of energy) in order to make this ancient practice of "Dreaming" available to contemporary artists and musicians in pursuit of wide perception.



The Institute of Perception hosts Telemagica, an annual art and music gathering in Jacumba CA, located 70 miles East of San Diego in the beautiful high desert (2,700 ft. elevation). The surrounding mountains form a natural interior bowl, created from a prehistoric meteor that also resulted in very low specific gravity for the area. The natural landscape is a wonderland of unique rock formations scattered with desert fauna and abundant wildflowers. The Institute of Perception grounds have been used since the dawn of time by artistic lineages who gathered to create and share in this magical space.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

BRANDY'S RESTOLA by Kimberly White, reviewed by BL Kennedy




Brandy’s Restola

Kimberly White
Purple Couchworks
162 pgs,
$16.00
ISBN: 978-0-578-08830-3







Picture a black hooded snaked traveling snakelike along a river of blood
My detachment is such that this is a movie, not a dream
I myself am nowhere
Only the snake and the river are here
The snake moves downriver as on a surface of red glass
Graceful swaying side to side
Hooded head poised upright, hood-ornament style
The camera pans away from snake and blood
To vast expanse of flatland, parched and bare
Hordes of fieldworkers swarm chaotic over hardpacked brown earth
Each one faceless and generic
Carving Xs into the earth with a large machete


Before I ever started writing book reviews, I was one of the hosts at Sacramento’s premier poetry venue, Luna’s Café. During those days I had the opportunity to meet many young poets. Amongst those poets was Kimberly White, whose poetry always entertained with its very measured and almost mathematical skill of lyric poetry. I have always found Kimberly White’s poetry endearing, romantic, and somewhat transcendental in its line manipulation. There is a sense of being with this book that cannot be an accident.

This is the story of Patti Monk, a shy and indifferent 16 year old languishing in a dying town north of the California Central Valley when her brother Steve is killed in a drunken accident. Kimberly White’s poetry invades our ears and our eyes with a sudden sense of surrealism. White knows how to approach language in a very economic way. I think that this book titled Brandi’s Restola, is going to be a well sought collection, and I am proud to both know the poet and to share the beautiful vision portrayed within the narrative of this book.

Monday, April 9, 2012

a man who had fallen among thieves by e.e. cummings, presented by Ien Nivens





Here's one from e.e.cummings that I first encountered when I was a junior in high school. Its imagery banged me up against myself back then, and I've never quite recovered.

Writing mostly during the first half of the 20th Century (he died in 1962), Cummings is most famous for his inventive use of the typewriter in the creation of new and idiosyncratic kinds of syntax and page layouts, leading to the development of "concrete" poetry. I've often wondered what he might have done with computer, video and other technologies that we now take for granted. Here is "a man who had fallen among thieves."




a man who had fallen among thieves

lay by the roadside on his back
dressed in fifteenthrate ideas
wearing a round jeer for a hat

fate per a somewhat more than less
emancipated evening
had in return for consciousness
endowed him with a changeless grin

whereon a dozen staunch and leal
citizens did graze at pause
then fired by hypercivic zeal
sought newer pastures or because

swaddled with a frozen brook
of pinkest vomit out of eyes
which noticed nobody he looked
as if he did not care to rise

one hand did nothing on the vest
its wideflung friend clenched weakly dirt
while the mute trouserfly confessed
a button solemnly inert.

Brushing from whom the stiffened puke
i put him all into my arms
and staggered banged with terror through
a million billion trillion stars

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Lance Mungia's The Crow: Wicked Prayer, reviewed by Travis Hedge Coke





It wouldn't be farce if someone did not want to take it seriously. Under co-writer and director Lance Mungia's hand, The Crow: Wicked Prayer, a sequel to the '94 adaptation of James O'Barr's angry angry comic, is a comic inversion of every hallmark of that first film, with an emotional core that simultaneously runs true, through and through. Because the emotions are presented earnestly, it seems that critics, at least, wanted to believe the whole movie was serious, that every inversion and exaggeration was an unfortunate misstep. There is a wronged couple who are killed by criminals with silly names, and there's a crow, and one of the two murdered comes back thanks to that crow, and there is revenge. Outside of that, everything has been exaggerated, flipped over, homaged and inverted. No cityscape, no rock soundtrack, no cold hardass hero, and instead of a disguised western set in Detroit, the tropes of this western with a Motor City ethos are over-egged in equal measure to the absurd naked symbolism.

The straight and desperate spiritualism of the first film is replaced with clear hucksterism from the DiY satanism to Danny Trejo's tribal President and local line-them-pews minister. The cool, cruel, and wise in death hero of The Crow is replaced by Edward Furlong's Jimmy Cuervo, who looks like he's going to pee himself whenever he gets angry and literally bleeds a heart shape on the floorboards when he is hung, stabbed, and has his heart removed. TV's Angel, David Boreanaz plays Luc Crash, lucky enough to find a demonic gal with the surname Byrne (Tara Reid), just to make that work, visits the Devil (Dennis Hopper) and is bathed by Josie and the Pussycats cosplayers. Righteousness, pain, and vindication are taken into absurdity. The great threat the villains see, is the establishment of a casino on a rez.

Am I surprised people tried to take Wicked Prayer entirely straight? People took The Crow completely serious, and there, too, maybe only the pain that generated it was ever real.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

"Crusoe in England" by Elizabeth Bishop, presented by Walter Ruhlmann





I was at University when I first encountered Miss Bishop. I had this poetry lesson with Miss Anka Cristofovici and she made us like Bishop so much we recited one of the poems featuring in Geography III: it was "Crusoe in England". We had to work on Frames & Spaces, "Crusoe in England" and "In the Waiting Room" are two of my favourite poems from this collection but Bishop is probably one of the most important poets I ever read and she also had a lot of importance in my own writing.


Crusoe in England

A new volcano has erupted,
the papers say, and last week I was reading
where some ship saw an island being born:
at first a breath of steam, ten miles away;
and then a black fleck—basalt, probably—
rose in the mate’s binoculars
and caught on the horizon like a fly.
They named it. But my poor old island’s still
un-rediscovered, un-renamable.
None of the books has ever got it right.

Well, I had fifty-two
miserable, small volcanoes I could climb
with a few slithery strides—
volcanoes dead as ash heaps.
I used to sit on the edge of the highest one
and count the others standing up,
naked and leaden, with their heads blown off.
I’d think that if they were the size
I thought volcanoes should be, then I had
become a giant;
and if I had become a giant,
I couldn’t bear to think what size
the goats and turtles were,
or the gulls, or the overlapping rollers
—a glittering hexagon of rollers
closing and closing in, but never quite,
glittering and glittering, though the sky
was mostly overcast.

My island seemed to be
a sort of cloud-dump. All the hemisphere’s
left-over clouds arrived and hung
above the craters—their parched throats
were hot to touch.
Was that why it rained so much?
And why sometimes the whole place hissed?
The turtles lumbered by, high-domed,
hissing like teakettles.
(And I’d have given years, or taken a few,
for any sort of kettle, of course.)
The folds of lava, running out to sea,
would hiss. I’d turn. And then they’d prove
to be more turtles.
The beaches were all lava, variegated,
black, red, and white, and gray;
the marbled colors made a fine display.
And I had waterspouts. Oh,
half a dozen at a time, far out,
they’d come and go, advancing and retreating,
their heads in cloud, their feet in moving patches
of scuffed-up white.
Glass chimneys, flexible, attenuated,
sacerdotal beings of glass ... I watched
the water spiral up in them like smoke.
Beautiful, yes, but not much company.

I often gave way to self-pity.
“Do I deserve this? I suppose I must.
I wouldn’t be here otherwise. Was there
a moment when I actually chose this?
I don’t remember, but there could have been.”
What’s wrong about self-pity, anyway?
With my legs dangling down familiarly
over a crater’s edge, I told myself
“Pity should begin at home.” So the more
pity I felt, the more I felt at home.

The sun set in the sea; the same odd sun
rose from the sea,
and there was one of it and one of me.
The island had one kind of everything:
one tree snail, a bright violet-blue
with a thin shell, crept over everything,
over the one variety of tree,
a sooty, scrub affair.
Snail shells lay under these in drifts
and, at a distance,
you’d swear that they were beds of irises.
There was one kind of berry, a dark red.
I tried it, one by one, and hours apart.
Sub-acid, and not bad, no ill effects;
and so I made home-brew. I’d drink
the awful, fizzy, stinging stuff
that went straight to my head
and play my home-made flute
(I think it had the weirdest scale on earth)
and, dizzy, whoop and dance among the goats.
Home-made, home-made! But aren’t we all?
I felt a deep affection for
the smallest of my island industries.
No, not exactly, since the smallest was
a miserable philosophy.

Because I didn’t know enough.
Why didn’t I know enough of something?
Greek drama or astronomy? The books
I’d read were full of blanks;
the poems—well, I tried
reciting to my iris-beds,
“They flash upon that inward eye,
which is the bliss ...” The bliss of what?
One of the first things that I did
when I got back was look it up.

The island smelled of goat and guano.
The goats were white, so were the gulls,
and both too tame, or else they thought
I was a goat, too, or a gull.
Baa, baa, baa and shriek, shriek, shriek,
baa ... shriek ... baa ... I still can’t shake
them from my ears; they’re hurting now.
The questioning shrieks, the equivocal replies
over a ground of hissing rain
and hissing, ambulating turtles
got on my nerves.
When all the gulls flew up at once, they sounded
like a big tree in a strong wind, its leaves.
I’d shut my eyes and think about a tree,
an oak, say, with real shade, somewhere.
I’d heard of cattle getting island-sick.
I thought the goats were.
One billy-goat would stand on the volcano
I’d christened Mont d’Espoir or Mount Despair
(I’d time enough to play with names),
and bleat and bleat, and sniff the air.
I’d grab his beard and look at him.
His pupils, horizontal, narrowed up
and expressed nothing, or a little malice.
I got so tired of the very colors!
One day I dyed a baby goat bright red
with my red berries, just to see
something a little different.
And then his mother wouldn’t recognize him.

Dreams were the worst. Of course I dreamed of food
and love, but they were pleasant rather
than otherwise. But then I’d dream of things
like slitting a baby’s throat, mistaking it
for a baby goat. I’d have
nightmares of other islands
stretching away from mine, infinities
of islands, islands spawning islands,
like frogs’ eggs turning into polliwogs
of islands, knowing that I had to live
on each and every one, eventually,
for ages, registering their flora,
their fauna, their geography.

Just when I thought I couldn’t stand it
another minute longer, Friday came.
(Accounts of that have everything all wrong.)
Friday was nice.
Friday was nice, and we were friends.
If only he had been a woman!
I wanted to propagate my kind,
and so did he, I think, poor boy.
He’d pet the baby goats sometimes,
and race with them, or carry one around.
—Pretty to watch; he had a pretty body.

And then one day they came and took us off.

Now I live here, another island,
that doesn’t seem like one, but who decides?
My blood was full of them; my brain
bred islands. But that archipelago
has petered out. I’m old.
I’m bored, too, drinking my real tea,
surrounded by uninteresting lumber.
The knife there on the shelf—
it reeked of meaning, like a crucifix.
It lived. How many years did I
beg it, implore it, not to break?
I knew each nick and scratch by heart,
the bluish blade, the broken tip,
the lines of wood-grain on the handle ...
Now it won’t look at me at all.
The living soul has dribbled away.
My eyes rest on it and pass on.

The local museum’s asked me to
leave everything to them:
the flute, the knife, the shrivelled shoes,
my shedding goatskin trousers
(moths have got in the fur),
the parasol that took me such a time
remembering the way the ribs should go.
It still will work but, folded up,
looks like a plucked and skinny fowl.
How can anyone want such things?
—And Friday, my dear Friday, died of measles
seventeen years ago come March.



Walter Ruhlmann works as an English teacher. He has been publishing mgversion2>datura (ex-Mauvaise graine) for over fifteen years. Walter is the author of several poetry chapbooks and e-books in French and English and has published poems and fiction in various printed and electronic publications world wide. He is a 2011 Pushcart Prize nominee for his translation of Martine Morillon-Carreau's poem, "Sans début ni fin, ce rêve" published in Magnapoets January 2011 issue.
Visit his BLOG.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

11/22/63 by Stephen King, reviewed by BL Kennedy









11/22/63
Stephen King
Scribner
New York, NY
849 pgs
$35.00
ISBN: 978-1-4516-2728-2




I have never been what you’d call a crying man.
My ex wife said that my ‘nonexistent emotional gradient’ was the main reason she was leaving me (as if the guy she met in her AA meetings was beside the point). Christy said she supposed she could forgive me for not crying at her father’s funeral; I had only known him six years and couldn’t understand what a wonderful, giving man he had been (a Mustang convertible as a high school graduation present, for instance). But then, when I didn’t cry at my own parent’s funerals—they died just two years apart, Dad of stomach cancer and Mom of a thunderclap heart attack while walking on a Florida beach—she began to understand the nonexistent gradient thing. I was “unable to feel my feelings,” in AA speak.


This is going to be short, sweet, and to the point. I love Stephen King; no matter how many times I say it, its still true. And I’ll say it again. I love Stephen King. His latest book 11/22/63 is an ambitious departure from his various horrors, in the sense that the horror in this book is us.

King’s character Jake Epping is simply put one of the most invested and sure characters in contemporary literature. Epping is a 35-year-old English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes some extra money teaching G.E.D classes. Through the use of a watershed moment for Jake, his life like that of Harry Dunning, the owner of the local store, is able to transport into time. However, Dunning is not doing well in this moment; his body is riddled with cancer, and its Dunning who first suggest that Jake travel back in time to 1963. He does this to deflect the Kennedy Assassination. I’ll let you guess the outcome.

This is one of Big Steve’s most ambitious works. It captures the atmosphere of the early 60’s, be it Maine or San Antonio, Texas. Big Steve will draw you into this immensely imaginative novel. Nuff said. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed reading this book, and how I think its probably one of King’s best books in years. So if you wanna have a great time, go out and grab yourself a copy of 11/22/63. You wouldn’t regret the purchase.

Monday, April 2, 2012

"Wandering" by Arthur Rimbaud, presented by Kevin Hibshman








I am a poet who has been writing and publishing sine 1990. I live in a weird town that presumes itself to be a city in dreary Pennsylvania which is NOT a mecca for anything, not even the Amish anymore. I edited my own poetry 'zine, FEARLESS, for sixteen years featuring all kinds of poets from all over the globe. I also have made abut twelve or thirteen chapbooks. The latest: "Incessant Shining" is now available from Propaganda Press.

My favorite deceased poet is Arthur Rimbaud for several reasons. I am a gay writer so I can appreciate Rimbaud's candor and wit when writing of his own homosexual experiences. He was completely devoted to causing controversy but I like even better, his commitment to vision. It seems he wanted to be a voyeur, to see everything and to construct a new language that would be capable of doing the senses justice in print. That is still a goal of mine as a poet, to preserve my visions and to construct language to enhance them. As Diane diPrima wrote: "The only war that matters is the war against the imagination." That has never been more true than at this very moment and like Rimbaud, I remain a slave to my imagination.


Wandering

I ran away, hands stuck in pockets that seemed
All holes; my jacket was a holey ghost as well.
I followed you, Muse! Beneath your spell,
Oh, la, la ,what glorious loves I dreamed!

I tore my shirt; I threw away my tie.
Dreamy Hop o' my Thumb, I made rhymes
As I ran. I slept out most of the time.
The stars above me rustled through the sky.

I heard them on the roadsides where I stopped
Those fine September nights, when the dew dropped
On my face and licked it to get drunk.

I made up rhymes in dark and scary places,
And like a lyre I plucked the tired laces
Of my worn-out shoes, one foot beneath my heart.


Arthur Rimbaud
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