December 2000Café Society's Poetry News Update
Do you have any poetry news or comments? If so, mail me on the email link at the bottom of this page. Competitions and calls for submissions can be announced here free. MERRY CHRISTMAS to all readers and contributors.

FRED WOLVEN INTERVIEWS
DUANE LOCKE

A BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE:
Poet Duane Locke, born among the gum trees and owls on a cotton farm near Vienna, Georgia, moved at age four to Tampa, then known for its cigars and corrupt politics. He is a Professor Emeritus of the Humanities, "unemployed except for his hobbies (the designation from Income Tax Dept.)": poetry, painting and photography. Has a Ph. D. in Renaissance Literature. For over 20 years was Poet in Residence at the University of Tampa. Has edited several poetry magazines, Poetry Review, UT Review, and Abatis. Among first board of directors of COSMEP and served on CCLM's grant committee. Duane now lives alone and isolated in the sunny Tampa slums. He lives "estranged and as an alien, not understanding the customs, the costumes, the language, some form of postmodern English, of his surroundings. The egregious ugliness of his neighborhood has been mitigated by the esthetic efforts of the police who put up bright orange and yellow posters on each post to advertise the location as a shopping mall for drugs." Duane's recreational activities are drinking wine, listening to old operas, and reading postmodern philosophy. This interview took place over several weeks in 2000. The interviewer is Fred Wolven, poet and formerly editor- publisher of Ann Arbor Review, now a professor in Miami.

A BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE:
Duane Locke has over 2,000 poems in magazines (American Poetry Review, Nation, Barrow Street, Poetry Northwest, Black Moon, Bitter Oleander). Since Sept. 1999 he has became a cyber poet and in 11months had over 1,025 poems accepted by E zines. He has won the Edna St. Vincent Millay, Charles Agnoff, Walt Whitman, and European Poetry Prize (Swiss University) awards. Duane's poems have appeared in these anthologies: 1968, Southern Writing in the Sixties, LSU; 1969, The Living Underground, Winton; 1971, New Generation: Poetry, Ann Arbor; 1972, I Am Talking About Revolution, Gallery; 1973, The Immanentist Anthology, Smith; 1973, Mantras, Floating Hair; 1976, Internal Weather: New Poems, New Poets, Ann Arbor; 1978, Contemporary Southern Poetry, LSU; 1994, Ghost Dance Anthology, Winton. Duane has had these poetry collections published: 1968, From the Bottom of the Sea, Black Sun; 1968, Inland Oceans, Beanbag; 1969, Dead Cities, Gunrunner; 1969, Waistline of Solitude, Ann Arbor; 1969, Rainbow Under Boards, UT Press; 1974, The Word, UT Press; 1975, Immanentist Sutras, Ann Arbor; 1976, Starfish Manuscript, Ann Arbor; 1976, Various Lights, UT Press; 1986, Duane Locke, UT Press; 1992, Whoever Raises the Question of Representation in Our Time, Ghost Dance; 1995, Whispering Wisteria, Vida. Duane Locke, also a painter, had a one man show at the Pyramid Art Gallery in Tampa recently, and since two other shows - one at a Gainesville art museum and another at a Micanopy art gallery. He has over 100 photographs of what is tossed away or overlooked in alleys appearing in E zines, on miscellaneous websites or in print magazines.

Note from Fred Wolven:
While the focus in this interview is on Duane Locke's poetic achievements, some consideration is made of his poetic philosophy, his creative approaches, and his nurturing of a "Linguistic Reality" mode in writing poetry.

Fred Wolven: Duane, having had the pleasure of reading your work and following your development as a poet since the 1960s, I find one of the fascinating things about your writing includes your ideas about "Linguistic Reality." A recent issue of The Bitter Oleander (Spring, 2000) printed this poem of yours:
Linguistic Reality

All that is irretrievable and obtuse
Will change from its opaque origin
Into iris and rivers after the luncheon -
Although the origin's distant from the iris and rivers.
It is the distance and the difference
From the moments' impingement
That dazzles and becomes real
With a life of its own beyond explications.
It is the transport concomitant when
Exalted language replaces literal language,
Brings reality into being and exiles
Literal language eternally destined to fail.


Duane, would you comment about what you do in writing your poems in relation to your ideas about "Linguistic Reality"?

Duane Locke:I adopted the term "Linguistic Reality" from French Scholarship concerned with modern French poetry. It was a term used to classify the poems of such poets as Pierre Reverdy, Rene Char, Yves Bonnefoy, and Ja cques Dupin. I appropriated the term and modified it to elucidate the type of poetry I was writing.

Basically, "linguistic reality" means that words are as real as things and empirical experiences since words can elicit experiential realities, human emotional responses, the same as things and experiences. We respond to words as we do to actual experiences. My prime concern in the writing of poems is the relationship between the semiotically real and the elusive actual real.

I was very much impressed when reading French criticism about "Linguistic Reality," in a discussion of Pierre Reverdy, how a meaningless word can have more power than a meaningful word. Now, to understand this criticism Nietzsche's sentence must be accepted and believed, "God is Dead." So, to follow the discussion, the reader must accept atheism: there is no God and there has never been a God. The word "God" is purely a linguistic construction and has no actual referent or corresponding reality. This empty concept, "God," a word without any corresponding reality, has become one of the most powerful words in the history of mankind. A meaningless word, no correspondence in actual existence, has caused people to be joyous, sad, gentle, brutal.

We can find many words in our language like "God" that have never had a referent to actual physical or empirical existences. Now, I was not satisfied to write a poetry in which the words had no referents in the actual world. But yet I could not follow Wordsworth and "see the object as it really is." I could not write an objective poetry, because there are no objects in our mental awareness, only images. I had to write a language that would not operate objectively or factual, since all objects and facts only come into being, as far as human knowledge is concerned, through our apprehension of two unknowables, objects and facts (the things-in-themselves).

So I wrote what I called "Linguistic Reality," a language that becomes real by growing out of my emotive responses to life. I knew I could never rationally understand the depth, the complexity, and the mystery of these emotions, thus I could never delineate, describe, or present these elusive feelings. But I also knew that these emotional responses engendered a language, not a mimetic language, or even an expressive language, but a language classified as "Linguistic Reality." The words were engendered by the actual experiences of the world, but not in any absolute or universal manner; but as an individual responding to what his awareness brings into his existence; thus I believe in the radical singularity of the concrete particular experience.

Now, to further clarify my point, let us look at the poem you quoted, "Linguistic Reality." When I use the word "irretrievable," I mean that an emotional experience is unique, it can never happen again. An emotional experience is like Heraclitus' river. An emotional experience can never repeat itself, and what makes people think they can repeat an emotional experience is that they are Platonic in believing in ideals, absolute existents in an extra spatio-temporal realm, emotions existing apart from the functioning of the human body. I feel that the human body brings emotions into existence, and every human body is different. The Christian notion of an identical immortal soul in every man, and the Rationalist notion of a common human nature are grand narratives that are myths, without any correspondence to actual life.

Now even words in a poem, poetic language being the superior language, cannot retrieve the emotions of the actual event, but words can be engendered by the actual event. My response to a tree at four o'clock will engender words that my response to a tree at eight o'clock will not. These responses do not produce mimetic words, but linguistic realities. The four o'clock poem and the eight o'clock will engender different linguistic realties. The poem is this sense of autotelic, but autotelism depends on an origin in actual experience, and its "auto" quality is restricted and limited.

The poem produces a new reality, a linguistic reality, from this irretrievable, actual experience. Poems are not imitations of emotive experience, but engenderments from emotive experiences. By "Obtuse," I mean that actual experiences are never sharp, acute or pointed, but are diffused and often their contents are not totally recognized. And, there is no language that can describe this experience, for language used for realistic description falsifies through generalizations, so that the words the experience produces are never mimetic words, but linguistic realities, a verbal reality engendered from an elusive actual reality. As I said in the poem, "It is the distance and the difference from the moment's impingement that dazzles and becomes real with a life of its own beyond explications."

The viewpoint above came after I had written poems, and observed analytically what I was doing. The theory did not precede the poem, but came as an explication of my poetic process. When I write a poem, I'm not conscious of my theory of linguistic reality, but I write responding emotionally to the words I put on paper. I feel if I can respond emotionally to the words, so can others. Also, I never start a poem with a preconception, saying I am going to write on this or that theme. I never write theme and execution poetry, but my poems grow out of the selection and organization of words. My poem is not an attempt to copy external reality, but is an engenderment from external reality. This internal reality stimulated and limited by external reality produces emotive apprehended words.

Fred Wolven:While this interview covers your writing art, it is also a query into other uncharted aspects of your poetry, so let's continue for a moment on the subject of your craft. In another issue of The Bitter Oleander (Autumn, 1998) you remarked (in "An American Neo-Romantic Poetry: Immanentism"), that
"The Immanentists eliminate the word essence from their vocabularies because it is a meaningless generalization, and base their poetry on the existent."
And you added,
"Immanentism bases its imagery on an origin in the radical singularity of the actual, the personal, the unique experience of a living individual...."
Duane, would you expand upon this and perhaps illustrate what you do as an Immanentist poet in your writing?

Duane Locke: Speaking of that popular and meaningless phrase, "The craft of poetry," on a TV show once I was asked by a professor of creative writing, a Ph.D. whom I had no respect for his sensibility, intelligence, or learning,
"What methods do you use to teach the craft of poetry?"
I replied,
"I don't teach the craft of poetry, I inspire students to perform miracles, for a poem is a miracle, not the result of craft."
The English philosopher Collingwood, I hope I remember his name correctly, once said that the difference between a craftsman and an artist is that the craftsman knows what he is doing, and the artist never does. I cherished his insight.

I think it was Mathew Arnold who said,
"The style is the man,"
but I would rephrase,
"The poem is the person."
A poem is not written by skill or craft, but by a person. If there is any craft in poetry, it is the craft of a person training himself to become a person who is a poet, adopting a life style that enriches, expands, and results in perceptions that can see what others cannot see, believe what others cannot believe, feel deeply the radical singularity of an emotion. From out of this life style and a deep immersion in language comes the worthwhile poem.

Fred Wolven: Duane, one of your many intriguing series of poems is your Circe sequence. For example, one of the poems in this series is 'Circe's Hair" -
Her hair was everything I touched,
The goat's small head, eucalyptus bark.

She was born in my birth cries,
But I did not meet her until I was old.

I knew she predated the stars,
And although I had never seen her

She was with me when I gazed
At the eyes of frogs or marigolds in fogs.

I found her in the whippoorwills' night calls,
But my old age turned the sounds to bones.

Duane, I believe the astute readers of your work can't help but feel you are working well beyond the edge of what most other poets have even attempted, but could you help us with the process a bit. First, what is it about Circe that drew you to begin this series? And exactly how do your images in this poem "not represent an event or emotion, but [rather be]...the result of an event and an emotion"?

Duane Locke: I was attracted to Circe, first of all by the sound of her name, and then I was attracted to her because I thought Homer maligned and degraded her. His malignation and degradation of Circe was due to this poet or poets being a lickspittle of the power structure, a stooge of the establishment. Homer toadied to traditional values. Traditional values are formulated and revered to keep the exploiting classes in power, so they can get others' property or money, and enjoy a life of petty hedonism and conspicuous consumption.

Homer portrayed Circe as an attractive and evil force that turned men into animals. Such portrayal shows the hatred of the body and nature that has dominated the Western mind. In traditional Western values, both the body and nature should be controlled to benefit the power structure, the exploiting and dominating classes.

I transvalued the Circe of Homer, and made her a force, a divine force, of exalted and intense love. Traditional values have always sanctioned and condemned a degraded and sordid sensuality, and dishonored exalted and intense love.

My Circe poems grew out of disgust with traditional values that subordinate the happiness of the many to the happiness of a few. The actual events behind the origin of the poem was my observation of love in our society and my feelings of disgust that love has been turned into something trivial and inhuman, rather than the enrichment and expansion of life. I have seen so many love affairs in which the possibility for a life-enriching love was truncated and destroyed by a belief in traditional values.

You asked, "And exactly how do your images in the poem 'not represent an event or emotion, but are the result of an event and emotion'?" Events are too intricate and diverse to be rendered in language. Actually all news reports are linguistic realities and not the events themselves, but news reports are sadly lacking in emotions and esthetic language.

Emotions of any developed, sensitive, and complex person defy reduction to discursive language, and from these emotions come a semiotic rendering through the language of the poem that can invoke emotion.

What I am saying is that emotions and not facts create meaningful human realities. For example, there is a chair in the house across the street. It is a fact, but it is meaningless as far as my consciousness or awareness is concerned because I have never seen the chair. Now, if I had sit in the chair and experienced comfort, my senses would have made the chair real for me. Now, if my lover were sitting in the chair, my emotions would make the chair meaningful and more real. Emotions create realities, and the more intense the emotion the greater the reality.

As for the Circe poem you quoted: I suggest how an emotional experience, the emotions aroused by Circe and her hair, suffused the life of the person who felt the emotions and makes this person aware of beauty and excitement in other things, "a goat's head" or "bark." Because Circe's skin is so exciting to touch, touching the tree becomes as exciting as touching Circe.

Readers are always writing me and asking me if these women in my poems, Chiarra, Andrea, Foam, Slavic-Teutonic blonde are real women. I can only answer in the terms of Medieval philosophy: The women are real, the women are not real, and the women are a hyper-reality.

Fred Wolven:Duane, another extended series of poems is your Foam manuscript. I've recently reread this series and find it fascinating. You begin the original version,
Foam on gulf shore
creature
book of the earth
created on the waves' edge by the wind
...
I must become uninhabited
to inhabit
your body of water
How did Foam come about? What does this collection reflect?

Duane Locke:Now, about my long poem, FOAM. Fred, in our salad and naïve days, you asked me to give my birth date for the headnotes in your magazine, The Ann Arbor Review [1967-1980], and I honestly and realistically replied that I had not been born yet. Well, Fred, I consider Foam was my birth. I faced the facts of life I had concealed from my- self. At the time, I was in an emotional crisis, as I contemplated the misdirection of my life, my waste of life. Life is too precious to be wasted.

I started to write this poem Foam in which a poet goes to the seashore to unlearn all he has learned, to create reality with the help of the water. To find words not spoken by human beings, but spoken by the things of this world. People speak lies, the pelican speaks the truth.

The poet has realized we are sentenced upon birth to the prison of sociolcultural regulations, and these rules were designed to benefit the few, the power structure who lives shallow hedonistic lives at the expense of the many who are foolish enough to revere what dehumanizes them. These rules, designed for the shallow happiness of the many, not even for the shallow happiness of the few and never for the happiness of those who have the potential to experience the supreme happiness, subvert the radical singularity of the actuality of the concrete particular individual. Traditional values, the power structure, and the joyous subservience of the many have turned the earth into a hell.

These sociocultural regulations shape and structure us through the use of language, and since the language does not fit the complex make-up of the individual, language distorts the natural and imposes an artificial perception upon us, and brainwashes the recipient into believing that the unreal is real. The human race has lived from century to century believing in lies. Each new age has its new lies. People believing the language that sociocultural regulations has spoken into and distorted their nervous systems perceive things and human relationships with false representations.

Now, Fred, this is part of my thought behind Foam, but my imagery and my lyricism in this poem is more important [like]:

I also am alone
but my mind
is filled with a crowd
that speaks a language
I must unlearn

Foam
the dark blue of the shadow
wants to be the azure of your eyes

I am caught between the struggle
of the embryo and the fossil

Fred Wolven:Duane, in your response about Foam you mention, "Foam was my birth. I faced the facts of life I had concealed from myself." This brings to mind your "When I Decided to be Born" poem which was published in the May issue of The Horsethief's Journal. You begin this poem:
When I decided to be born,
I asked the moon to let me be born
On the darkest night
When fireflies were the corn's eyelashes.
And you end this poem, addressing a fox, with these lines:
"...Come out in the open, / Howl, give me hope of changing the voices of the world."
Duane, what do you expect to accomplish, or what are you achieving through writing and publishing your poems?

Duane Locke:Fred, I expect to accomplish nothing with my poems, except the supreme pleasure I get from writing the poems and the rare communication with others. I was very much influenced by Walter Pater's "Conclusion" to the Renaissance when I was young. Pater taught me what made life bearable is living with intensity, burning with a gem like flame. Pater espoused that the highest pleasure, the highest intensity, the highest reality is art, and through experience I found Pater to be correct. To me, no other pleasure compares to the pleasure of writing poetry.

I have a personal temperament that finds popular entertainment and traditional beliefs jejune. Although I'm not very attracted to prose, my three favorite prose works are Kafka's "Hunger Artist," Joyce's "Araby", and Dostoevsky's "Notes from the Under-ground." I hate the novels and short stories of Ernest Hemingway, and the works of most other prose writers. This taste of mine, which I have just revealed, tells something about me. I love Kafka's conclusion when the Hunger Artist was asked wasn't it difficult to starve, he answered, "No, because there is no food I wanted to eat." Poetry is one of the few foods offered in the world I wanted to eat. Poetry is one of the few foods offered in this world I wanted to eat. I don't care about their limousines, tattoos, and popular music.

Recently in an interview in the Miami magazine, Latino Stuff, I was asked if I was concerned with my immortality as a poet. My answer was, "No. If in a hundred years some beautiful girl reads my poems and falls in love with me, it would not mean anything to me, for the dead cannot touch. I'd rather have one lover now than a few billon after I'm dead." Artaud says one writes to get out of hell, and as Sartre, another Frenchman, said, "Hell is other people." I find life a type of hell, and thus I write.

The poem "When I Decided to be born" was about my birth on a Georgia farm and the line "Howl, give me hope of changing the world" is somewhat ironic, because counter to Shelley, the writer, myself, does not believe poetry can ever change the world. Fools, rock singers, and ignorant politicians but not poets. Poetry can only change a minute few, and perhaps, I might save a few from this hell. When I used the word "Howl," it was a tribute to Allen Ginsberg, who, for a few moments in my life, was a personal friend.

My main mission in writing poetry is to save poetry from mediocrity, and thus I have a very difficult, almost impossible task.

Fred Wolven:Duane, I know you have published well over 2,000 poems in print periodicals and now some 1,000 have been published in/accepted for publication in e-zines. Recently, you have had occasion to note that the e-zine is bringing the writer more directly into contact with what appears to be a more receptive and immediate audience than the print magazines are doing. Duane, would you elaborate just a bit on your thoughts re audiences for poets.

Duane Locke:This is a subject, the E zine and E publishing versus print magazines and P books, with which I am intensely concerned at the present. I think we are at the beginning of a Digital Renaissance (this term was coined by Steve Barfield), and the dictatorship of the old order is crumbling. When published in a print magazine, your poems are rarely seen for the magazine costs a high price and it is extremely difficult to find, and with their policy of no previously published poems and no simultaneously submission, a great poem could go unread for years and even be completely unknown to the poetry reading public.

Since only a few print magazines can afford to be distributed, only a few appear in book-stores, and the taste of the public is controlled by magazines that can afford to be distributed. Since most of our Ph. Ds in English are lickspittles and kowtow to the prevailing system, they brainwash our youth into believing these money magazines publish the best poets, and thus mediocry is spread throughout the nation. I personally think print publication is finished and is on its way out, but it will take time for people to break old habits, meaningless habits.

Pedro Salinas once said that the poet has no audience. His readers are scattered every- where and the poet does not know who they are. But now with e-mail, a poet can hear from a reader a few minutes after his poem is posted. Now, he can feel their reactions, their responses. The poet never could do that before, and I think this is what has inspired me to write so many poems recently; in 10 months, 1,000 were accepted by e-zines, providing this contact with the audience. I feel finally someone is reading my poems and responding to my poems. I never felt that in print magazines. Finally, in e-zines I feel I have an audience, and I never felt this way with print magazines. It is so wonderful to know people are reading your poems.

I might add, it took my 38 years to have 2,000 poems in print magazines; it took me 10 months to have 1,000 published in e-zines. Since zines are so accessible, the poet has a much better chance of locating the rare reader with whom he can communicate. When I published in print magazines, I often wondered if anyone ever read my poems.

CONTINUES.... Click the link for page 2 of interview



EDITOR'S LETTER, DECEMBER 2000

Dear Poets,

This issue features Fred Wolven's in-depth interview with Duane Locke, which he very kindly sent to me in late October this year. It gives examples of Duane's work and full insight into how and why each poem was written.

Featured poets this month include Barbara Crooker, Rochelle Hope Mehr, Harding Stedler, Michael Levy, Dave Jackson, and the Poetry Life & Times resident poet, Jan Sand. There is a WAV recital of Barbara Crooker's poem Diminuendo available for download, underneath where that poem appears. It is 1.8MB in size. There is also a Barbara Crooker recital available in the back issue of Poetry Life & Times November '99, with her interview.

Any comments on this issue or back issues can be emailed to me on the link at the bottom of the page. Please indicate whether you would like such comments to be included in the Letters section. Announcements are always welcome, you can also promote poetry books here.

Any poetry submissions should be in plain text in the body of an email, with a small jpeg picture attached, also a bio, preferably with the URLs of any ezines mentioned, so that they can be shown as links. This will increase chances of inclusion, especially if a submission is sent late in the month, as it saves me time to get a picture and bio at the same time. Pictures are best at a maximum of 520 pixels across, otherwise they take ages to arrive by email, especially if they are in bitmap or TIFF format. Further submission guidelines are available on request.

A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all readers and contributors.

Best Regards,

                  



Featured poets this month include Barbara Crooker, Rochelle Hope Mehr, Michael Levy, Dave Jackson, Harding Stedler and Jan Sand.

Many thanks to all contributors.



Barbara Crooker

BARBARA CROOKER
The author of more that 600 poems published in over 70 anthologies and prestigious magazines, Barbara Crooker's work has made her one of Pennsylvania's favorite poets.

She is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, including three Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships, five residencies at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and a prize from the NEA.

A three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize, she was nominated for the 1997 Grammy Awards for her part in the audio version of the popular anthology, Grow Old Along With Me--The Best is Yet to Be (Papier Mache Press).
See also publisher's websites for more on Barbara:
Miller's Pond and H&H Press

OBBLIGATO
© Barbara Crooker


The burble of house wrens colors the air,
it's early summer and everything is possible.
The iris shine in their silken petals,
peonies have burst into
cerise, magenta, cream.
The lawn is impossibly lush and green
to us, who know how soon August comes with its hot breath,
who see the grass dry and thin under this lavish verdure,
who know how the earth shuts down like an iron fist,
and are still transfixed.
And what the house wren babbles,
the mockingbird repeats,
adding trills and cadences of its own,
embroidering in the liquid notes of thrushes,
the scree of the swing set, doing a riff on
the endless cheer! cheer! cheer! of the cardinal.
Bird with no song of its own, and everyone else's in its
heart.
This heart's been tight as a peony bud
waiting for rain;
how briefly it blooms,
resplendent in its carmine longing.
What a hard carapace
old loves and losses have built up,
years of chitinous excretions,
but even it can break.

I used to want to hold onto friends for life,
mourned each falling off, each move away,
but now I see them drifting in and out of our lives,
careless and gorgeous as blossoms
wandering in the wind,
which blows, as we know, wherever it pleases.
But no matter how short, our lives have been blessed.

We live in a land without famine or war,
each night we smooth down into the grace of sheets.
How we forget to be grateful.
In the morning we will have fresh fruit,
and music and news.
Roses will scent the air.
And all that we have forgotten,
the mockingbird will repeat
into the small green spaces
of our still unripened hearts.

This is the title poem from Obbligato (Linwood Publishers, $6.95 + $1.25 shipping, 7928 Woodsbluff Run, Fogelsville, PA 18051.


DIMINUENDO
© Barbara Crooker



Late August, and the fields are singing with insects,
goldenrod blessing the air.
The hillside springs with grasshoppers
drunk on the last dregs of sun.
Queen Anne's lacework is edging the path
where even the grasses are shining silver,
lifted, as in common prayer,
by the diminishing wind.
Out in the fields, the corn stands shock still;
the stalks have become the color of air.
Their fingers point north, where the snow is waiting.
All of the apples have gathered in redness,
a thousand sunsets burn in the trees.
Soon, they will drop and split,
and the whirling wasps
will leave only the cores, the hollows,
the spaces that remain.

From Barbara's book The Lost Children ($17 + $1.50 shipping, The Heyeck Press, 25 Patrol Court, Woodside, CA 94062).

CLICK HERE to download exclusive WAV recital of Diminuendo (1.8MB).


© Barbara Crooker:
The angel of the garage sales



guides us, when we find a hand glazed brown and blue
coffee mug among chipped china, milk glass vases,
plastic flowers. She hovers nearby, when a white
porcelain teapot in the shape of a hen, delicately
painted with cornflower blue, calls from a pile
of avocado and harvest gold bowls.
She points out the rhinestone studded apron,
the wooden carving of a crocodile, the crocheted vest.
Did you feel her tap your shoulder when you found
the sweater knit in a pattern of webs and spiders
the year your son discovered insects? Did you feel
the brush of her wings? Was it the glint of her halo
or just the silvery rain on the street as she passed by?

This is from In The Late Summer Garden (H & H Press, RR2, Box 241, Middlebury Center, PA 16935, $6 + $1 shipping).


Two poems from Barbara's forthcoming new book, The White Poems:

EQUINOX
© Barbara Crooker



Another October. The maples have done their slick trick
of turning yellow almost overnight; summer's hazy skies
are cobalt blue. My friend has come in from the West,
where it's been a year of no mercy: chemotherapy, bone
marrow transplant, more chemotherapy, and her hair
came out in fistfuls, twice. Bald as a pumpkin.
And then, the surgeon's knife.
But she's come through it all, annealed by fire,
calm settled in her bones like the morning mist in valleys
and low places, and her hair's returned, glossy
as a horse chestnut kept in a shirt pocket.
Today a red fox ran down through the corn stubble;
he vanished like smoke. I want to praise things
that cannot last. The scarlet and orange leaves
are already gone, blown down by a cold rain,
crushed and trampled. They rise again in leaf meal
and wood smoke. The Great Blue Heron's returned to the pond,
settles in the reeds like a steady flame.
Geese cut a wedge out of the sky, drag the grey days
behind them like a skein of old wool.
I want to praise everything brief and finite.
Overhead, the Pleiades fall into place; Orion rises.
Great Horned Owls muffle the night with their calls;
night falls swiftly, tucking us in her black velvet robe,
the stitches showing through, all those little lights,
our little lives, rising and falling.


FOR A FRIEND LYING IN INTENSIVE CARE WAITING
FOR HER WHITE BLOOD CELLS TO REJUVENATE
AFTER A BONE MARROW TRANSPLANT
for Judy © Barbara Crooker


The jonquils.  They come back.  They split the earth with
     their green swords, bearing cups of light.
The forsythia comes back, spraying its thin whips with
     blossom, one loud yellow shout.
The robins.  They come back.  They pull the sun on the
     silver thread of their song.
The iris come back.  They dance in the soft air in silken
     gowns of midnight blue.
The lilacs come back.  They trail their perfume like a scarf
     of violet chiffon.
And the leaves come back, on every tree and bush, millions
     and millions of small green hands applauding your return.


[email protected]

ROCHELLE HOPE MEHR
Rochelle's poetry has been published in various online and print journals including Aabye's Baby,
The Bayou Review,
Comrades e-zine,
Wired Art from Wired Hearts,
The Writer's Hood,
Eclectica Magazine,
T-Zero The Writer's E-Zine,
new beginnings: redefining words,
The Sidewalk's End,
The Ultimate Hallucination,
A Writer's Choice,
Tourist 2000,
Mefisto,
Panda,
Fauquier Poetry Journal,
Ibbetson St. Press,
Blood and Fire Review,
Offerings,
CER*BER*US,
Nedge,
Psychopoetica,
Pennine Ink,
Poems Niederngasse Online,
Anthology,
Poetalk,
and The Blind Man's Rainbow.

FIRE AT BITTERROOT
© Rochelle Hope Mehr



Hellish yellowish conflagration
Swaddling, consuming the pining pines with electric passion.

Deer bristle at the eerie liquid light.

Two orbs of gold transit the lake.

One transfixes a doe in aureate glow:
A source of wonder on this brutish night.


RECLAMATION
© Rochelle Hope Mehr



A sliding door slices away my illusions.
Steps inside a girl, cradling a poodle
Claiming affiliation,
Interjecting chaos
with a kiss.

What is on the floor?
What cowers in the corner?
Unknown inchoate oddity
That knows not its place.

I do not like to be interrupted.
I slide girl and dog back into the night.
The shadow on the floor twitches
and starts to exude light.


BE KIND TO YOUR CHILDREN
© Rochelle Hope Mehr



I do not know the words that heal.
I only know the abusive ones.

Your "rotten kid"
struck me to the core
and eviscerated me.

Rambunctious I was
but not with ill-intent.

Whenever my aim exceeded my grasp
You struck to delimit me
To abase me
To fell me to my knees
To obliterate me.

Vile weed that I was, I began to sprout:
Vilified, I propagate doubt.


You're a dear friend and I know you mean well but...
© Rochelle Hope Mehr



The first step
is admitting that you're depressed.

The next
is recognizing that depression
is not an aberration

but a necessary
prelude to a poem.

If you have to artificially
induce euphoria
to make the acceptable impression
to play the agreeable tone
to slam the unbeatable poem home

you may just as well
take a wet blanket
and snuff out its coals

because the ingenuous stanza
is fuelled
by inertia

with nothing but solace
as its goal.


PURIFICATION
© Rochelle Hope Mehr



Much of the time
is spent
in anticipation
of the big event.

Much of the day
slants its light
in derision
of the night.

Much of my mind
is split
between the twit
and the wit.

The rest I degrime
to the sublime.


[email protected]



Harding Stedler

HARDING STEDLER
Retired from teaching, after 34 years in the classroom, Harding now works at a local publishing house, designing Language Arts materials for elementary-school youngsters. Also, this is his third and final term as secretary of the Poets' Roundtable of Arkansas.

He has small grandchildren - Lauren (age 3) and Matthew (age 1). Both love critters, so they go on treasure hunts in the woods frequently.

NIGHT-BLIND, AND NO MOON
© Harding Stedler



The moon has tumbled into hiding
on the far side of the galaxy,
and now there are no shadows.
Being night-blind,
I cannot tell the trees from darkness
and collide with them,
one step at a time.
Even the whippoorwills are silent
in this blinding dark.
I watch for glimmerings of light
where I think the horizon is
and clumsily feel my way along,
searching for escape.
The night is paralytic
without a moon
and each faint rustling
is magnified
a thousand times.
I need security of a beacon
hanging reclusively in the sky.


STEALING FROM THE DEFENSELESS
© Harding Stedler



What will all the dead sheep think
when I come with gentle hands
to shear them?
I suspect they will lie patiently
as I clip and bag the wool,
taking from them their last.
If they should bleat
in Heaven a protest,
angels will give them solace
to wing their way
to chambers of forgiveness.
And I will carry with me
here on Earth
pangs of guilt
for stealing from the dead.


[email protected]


Michael Levy

MICHAEL LEVY
Michael Levy is the author of WHAT IS THE POINT ($9.95, Paperback - 110 pages, October 9, 1998, ISBN: 0966806905) Minds of Blue Souls of Gold ($9.95, Paperback - 127 pages, January 20, 1999) Point Of Life Inc.; ISBN: 0966806913) Enjoy Yourself It's Later Than You Think ($9.95, Paperback - 128 pages, June 10, 1999, Point Of Life Inc.; ISBN: 0966806921).

Michael's website is at http://www.pointoflife.com. His Articles and Poems are now on over 1000 web sites and growing daily.

THE EYEWITNESS WITHIN
© Michael Levy, Sept 2000



Dimensions of wonderment sail through the silent Soul,
slowly serenity drifts to ever higher universal planes,
Everlasting World's gift wrapped in Joy and Love,
Feelings of perfection in heavenly realms.

Celestial Space mists over forgotten history,
Secrets well kept embrace the Divine,
Harmonic cords link each thread of infinity,
Each note of the Soul ascends in an ocean of tranquility.

Miracles upon Miracles in this Mystic Paradise,
But who will believe the eyewitness within,
It is but a dream to most, a figment of a rainbow,
Ah! But In truth, majestic reality to the believer.


THE LAND WHERE SOULS PLAY
© Michael Levy



An awakening to dawn mist on the water,
flowing Spirit's streams to God's altar,
purifying essence whistles through the trees,
images of the sacred blowing in the breeze.

Flights of fancy from birds up high,
feathers of many colors filtering through the sky,
sun, moon and stars envelops Earth's dome,
we're all birds of a feather, finding our way home.

Spectacle of mesmerizing movements flashing in the mind,
melting pots of humans, secrets hard to find,
love all embracing whispers on the wind,
no physical presence, ecstasy from a light dimmed.

Gifts of joy enmeshed in music and dance,
visualizing images filtering in a trance,
warriors in a drumbeat at journeys end,
back to the womb of creation enmeshed in a substance blend.

Wondrous dreams in the stillness of the dark,
journey on uplifting voyages in paradise park,
thunder and lightning points the way,
a prelude to the land where Souls play.


INSIGHTS INTO ENLIGHTENMENT
© Michael Levy Nov 2000



Formless Angels filter devotion within meditating neurons,
Delights beyond imagination explode in mystical displays,
20/20 vision of magical thought fills the mind of universal truth seekers,
Insights into enlightenment illuminate Spirit's majestic wisdom.

Morning lights shine through all the senses of infinity,
Stillness spreads itself in nature's eternal beauty,
The rocks, Trees, Oceans, all flow in motions of transcendence
Spectrums of glorious serenity unfold in landscapes of supreme bliss,

Behold the inner solitude of excellence, reflecting cosmic creations,
Overwhelmed in the calm love of a revolving paradise,
Containers of pure Joy await the gaze of simplicity,
Curtains of silence cast shadows of perfection.


[email protected]



David Jackson

DAVID MICHAEL JACKSON
is a publisher and poet, an Outsider Artist. musician and a songwriter.

Maybe he just doesn't know who he is. Paints pictures, writes songs, publishes an ezine, but he is always first an artist and poet.

Born in 1948 to small acreage tobacco farmers in Tennessee. His mother is Brazilian, his father Scottish/Irish. Educated and supported as a mechanical engineer who designs products for a major appliance maker. He wrote nothing, painted nothing until age 39. His first painting is dated 1987. Wayne Jackson was the first to hang David's painting in his house. He even put a light under it. David has a briefcase full of words by Wayne which he is slowly presenting. Sometime after Wayne's death in 1989 he started writing poetry again and still does. He is also into family, music, songwriting, recording, web publishing, cats, and Schmutt, his dog. "People are starting to notice the poetry more lately." David tells me. "I'm becoming known a little as an editor for sure. ArtPage Images is between Atlantic Monthly and the Atlanta Review at Yahoo. The little guy can compete on the web. So I'm reaching people but I'm still outsider Dave and I constantly remind myself that these 1800 pages I have published on the web depend on $23.50 a month to the hosting guys. It's all a mirage, but so is life. It's all done with mirrors. I know. I'm an engineer."

Untitled
© David Michael Jackson



Here you shall find me
must find me
we must meet
having met, we must
meet again in the shadows of
truth
beauty shines through the window and
dances with the dust in the air
the cat sits by the window
watching the birds
I sit by the window with your memory
watching for you
in the birds
in the trees
we must meet across the river
in the shade of that tree
that tree we cling to
so the raging waters of the flood
may not drown us in our own
innocence


Untitled
© David Michael Jackson



2 a.m.
and my corner of the world
sleeps
while I and other insomniacs
try
to answer questions in vain

chasing windmills
of course
why some of us always are
willing
to throw ourselves against the wall
of despairing effort
some posting of some insignificant poem
somewhere
anywere
where maybe someone
maybe
you
some lonely soul in the night
of our collective discontent
our collective effort
to
matter
in a
seemingly
insignicant
universe
listens


Untitled
© David Michael Jackson



I reach
for my cat
who
rubs her body
on my leg
I reach for
truth
in the softness of her fur
on my leg
my soul
oh dare I say the word
as if hope is
real
for I must believe it

I must believe

to be reality itself is my
nature
my
legacy
I must believe
even if I die in an unmarked
grave


[email protected]



Self-portrait by Jan Sand

JAN SAND, poet and illustrator from New York, is a regular contributor to Poetry Life & Times. and the newsgroup alt.arts.poetry.comments. A great deal of his work is about animals, or science fiction.

Recently Jan was published by Kedco Studios Artist Profile Press, on their latest CD ROM e-book, "A Way With Words (Poetry Real and Surreal), which also includes complete books by Dale Houstman, Sara L. Russell and Keith Gabriel Hendricks. Jan's illustrated book on the CD is called "Wild Figments And Odd Conjectures", which is also sold separately, in a limited-edition "single" CD.

To see an illustrated article about Jan's poems, visit the November '98 issue of Poetry Life & Times, and scroll down past the Editor's Letter. He also has his own poetry pages on Charlotte's Web at Artvilla.

MY LADY RABBIT
© Jan Sand



Who can tell what thoughts might dwell
Within the shell of her pointed skull
Whose main function is to pivot those long jaws
With which, no pause, she gnaws all things proximate?
Her adventures with her dentures
Perforate my property,
Elaborate all straight edges
Into lacy wedges, into undulating decorations.
My pants, my sheets, my shoes have ventilations
And, from ankle to my knees
I am open to each vagrant breeze,
Stylistically in accord with Swiss cheese.
And yet, there is no rancor in the habits of my rabbit
Who is merely exercising her incisors
Understands genetics goad her into tooth frenetics
Chewing, nibbling, doing without quibbling
What her physiology demands.
My friends gaze upon my holey being
With raised eyebrows upon seeing
How my pet does beset my dress
But I confess my rabbit gives to me,
Along with mess, a minor sense of family.


PENNIES
© Jan Sand



Nowadays their round faces
Strew the streets like copper suns
In a galaxy of torn paper shreds,
Fragments of things broken and anonymous,
Not worth the stoop for a retrieval.
Some time ago the penny had its day.
It commanded a long paper strip
Across which marshalled
Studs of varicolored candy dots,
Or a dozen tiny chocolate babies,
Or a handful of yellow- orange kernels of candy corn
Or a minor lollipop.
A community of five coppers
Could produce a cup of coffee
Or fuel a ferry ride
Across New York Bay
Or send one subterranean
On the subway from Bronx Zoo
Past the concrete crystals of Manhattan
To the raucous carnival of the Coney Island Boardwalk.
I still keep two
To be laid against my eyes
As carfare across the Styx.


BIRTHDAY
© Jan Sand



Soon I will walk
The foothills of seventy five.
Some years ago
They seemed mountains to me,
Remote as the craters of the Moon
Cold lit by ancient starlight
Filtered through the dust of galaxies.
Now that light seems warm to me.
The rounded berms of the landscape
Are an easy travel, sprinkled
With small bright minutes,
Important and precious for their rarity.
The air here is sharp and frosty
To spice my delight to breathe,
To feel, to move still easily.
Up above, the sharp black crag
Of one hundred looms
Capped with snow, jeweled
With tricky seams of ice.
I must be on my way
For this high climb,
High enough to feel the winds
As the planets fly by.
High enough to look down
On the landscape of a century.


WHETHER REPORT
© Jan Sand



There were violent storms
In the bedroom.
A cold affront
Resulted in precipitation.
Some thunder
And a quick retreat to the bathroom
Where pressures built up dangerously.
There was further movement to the kitchen
And a thick accumulation of clouds.
Tornado forces arose quickly
And dishes flew, causing some damage.
Opposing pressures blew hot and cold
But mainly hot air
Which resulted in extended temperatures.
There was a small release of destructive winds
With energy dissipation
Which had a calming effect.
It is difficult to make a secure prediction
As basic forces remain in stasis.
Until this is resolved,
Cold weather will continue.


[email protected]


From William Peck -
FRICTION MAGAZINE Announcement

The 6th installment in the Trout Stories series is now online.

On December 16th, Friction Magazine will be hosting a benifit at the Midtown Dance Studio on West 39th Street with 2 live bands, a cash bar and more fun than should be legal. The purpose of the benifit is to raise money for Friction's print edition, to be released in January. The December slam will be held at this event as well. We will announce what bands will be playing and provide you with further details as they become available. If possible, please make plans to attend this event. We need everyone's support to make the evening a success.

In January, the Friction Magazine website will be going monthly, with several new, weekly features and contests. More on that later. In the meantime, we're interested in receiving your fiction, nonfiction and art submissions. As always, we have a TON of poetry, but you're welcome to throw your poetry into the ring as well, as long as you don't mind having a LOT of competition.

I want to thank all of you for making our first year online a tremendous success. Stick with us. It's only going to get better.

See you all between the lines.

Sincerely yours
(from under the floor),

WILLIAM PECK, PUBLISHER/WEBMASTER

FRICTION MAGAZINE- A journal of writers and artists.


New Book From Elisha Porat: GROWING OLD

From the Foreword by Ward Kelley:

"A few times he has left the kibbutz -- to study in Jerusalem; to fight in three wars -- but now he is back for good. In this room, in front of the studious man, is a PC; and this then has become his scroll of the 21st century. This is the device that has brought the words of his poems from a small room in Israel to every continent of the world, and at last to this ebook before you.

So I commend this wonderful book to you, dear reader, assured that after a reading you too will speak the name with a certain graceful awe . . . Elisha Porat."

Growing Old is Scheduled for release late January 2001.



THE PERILS OF NORRIS cartoon, #4
Spot Reginald the Rat and win a prize! Simply email me your postal address and say where you spotted him in the cartoon. The first person to get their email in wins.

The Perils of Norris was started in August 2000. To catch up on events leading up to this episode, use the links below:

Norris #1   Norris #2   Norris #3   Norris #4
If an editor from another poetry ezine would like to run this cartoon on a regular basis, email me first to ask - it can be used in exchange for a link to Poetry Life & Times.


BACK ISSUES OF POETRY LIFE & TIMES:
September 1998

October 1998

November 1998

December 1998

January 1999

February 1999

March 1999

April 1999

May 1999

June 1999

July 1999

August 1999

September 1999

October 1999

November 1999

December 1999

January 2000

February 2000

March 2000

April 2000

May 2000

June 2000

July 2000

August 2000

September 2000

October 2000

November 2000

Mail me on: [email protected] with any poems, comments for the letters page, news about your poetry site, or forthcoming poetry events. Please get Featured Poets submissions in early for January if possible, as I will only be able to work on the January issue for the first half of December.



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