December 1999
Café Society's Poetry News Update    
Do you have any poetry news or comments for the Readers' Letters section? If so, mail me on the email link at the bottom of this page. Competitions and calls for submissions can be announced here free.


Picture by David Cantrell

Donald Ryburn is the editor of 4*9*1 - Imagination ( He is a neo-naïve visionary artist/photographer. His poetry and photography has appeared in hundreds of print journals, anthologies, and on-line zines, including Black Moon, 4*9*1, Some Words - A Place For Poetry, Poems Niederngasse, Poetry Motel, Pacific Coast Journal, Onionhead, Art/Mag (print), Poetry Superhighway Poets of the Week, Poetry Tonight, Unlikely Stories A Room Without Walls , INDIAWORLD: India on the Internet, Indie Journal Presents the Poetry of Donald Ryburn, Guest Poems - Archflambeoth, Amrita Poetry Pages, Entropic, Tom Perry's Homepage: Grassroots Poetry. His email address is [email protected]. He is a member of the Tvlvhvse Wokvkiye Ceremonial Grounds of the Mvskoke Nation.

Click here for some of Donald's art and photography

Poetry L & T: When did you first start writing poetry, Donald?

Donald Ryburn:At the age of five, I had long, esoteric conversations with the stone lions that sat at the bottom of our porch steps in Memphis, Tennessee. I think those conversations were my first poetry. The first poem I recall committing to paper was at about age 14, it was published in the school paper.

Poetry L & T:What first gave you the idea for the ezine 4*9*1?

Donald Ryburn:The photographer Alfred Stieglitz published a review of artists, writing and photography (including the first photos of Duchamp's Nude Descending A Staircase in the early 1900's based on his gallery address "291". Years later Francis Picabia published a successful Dada review "391" to honor Stieglitz. The idea of 4*9*1-Imagination" came to me while studying this era. Maybe someday someone else will publish a "591"?

Poetry L & T:What is your criteria for suitable poetry for 4*9*1?

Donald Ryburn:I am currently shaking off three years of negative poetic theory, so I am taking a hiatus from the selection of the poetry. We have stripped the site and are starting all over. Basically, if Rhonda (my co-editor) likes it we will post the work. The zine is a 5th vibration numerologically which represents mental process, change, power so the poetry submitted might want to involve those elements.

Poetry L & T: Do you have any co-editors of 4*9*1, if so, how did you meet them?

Donald Ryburn:My only co-editor is the poet Rhonda Roszell. We met at a sacred place. The check-out line at an Office Depot. We have been deeply in love ever since.

Poetry L & T: Are there any significant events in your life, which have influenced your poetry?

Donald Ryburn:1. Birth:....ok, a flip answer but without the birth of emotions in our interior selves there would be no poetry:

To quote from the German myth "The Two Strangers".
..."And the shoemaker had to make the shoes in which the tailor danced at the wedding feast, whereafter he was ordered to leave the city forever."

2. Death (of my daughter, Melissa in 1994)

.....I had been writing "acceptable" poetry up till that point, fairly well-crafted and getting published in the little magazine circuit but only occasionally did I write emotively. Mostly I wrote about experiences, observations, immature feelings, and the occasional language poem or word poem. None of these poems are in the least bit satisfying for me as a writer or for anyone who reads for the emotional experience. When my daughter died I had a psychic shift in my perception of my world, of myself and the spiritual-intuitive nature of my life. It sometimes takes traumatic events to shake our worldview. The result was a new poetic experience, a poetry that is emotive and mysterious. I now honor my dark side rather than cover it up with language.

Here is an excerpt from a pre-death poem:


I bring you bananas
Curved upwards
Firm, strong
Peel the skin back
Take the end into your
Sweet puckered lips
Taste the nectar 
That swims across the saurface....

Excerpt from an after-death poem:

"The Promise"

.....In your dark shadow
     I could breathe again
     In your gentle rage
     I could scream at you
     And you only held out
     Your vaporous hand in comfort
     Tears fell through you
     And became crystal stones 
     Upon the ground.....
3. Rebirth (meeting Rhonda)...Before Rhonda I had evolved into a literary poet. I had great success with various forms of neo-emotive and language poetry. I could write beautifully sounding poems, crafted to have rhythm, music, a mystical quality that took the reader into unknowns. The State of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs described me as being "uniquely capable of obscuring the unknown".

An example:

"Amber In Darkness" The hillside is no longer covered With white egret feathers They have flown away en masse Startled by your absence The dark oak forest that flooded With amber and turpentine Rose and walked sadly away At the precise moment of your death A memory too cruel To continue in reality Like you, it must cease to exist In order to live note: this poem is not in reference to my daughter

When Rhonda Roszell came into my life she brought with her my only true experience of unconditional love. She has by her mere presence in my life opened up my heart centers. With this extremely painful, yet wholly necessary expereince a new poetry has emerged. A poetry that no longer pricks the skin of emotion but reopens the Wound with sharp knives that deliver a clear pain, an aestethic that can only come from the heart. I would hazard to state that until I fully gave myself over to the expereince of the unconditional love that Rhonda offered me I did not write poetry. I only arranged words on paper to please others. Now I write to please myself and, of course, I trust she is pleased with the results as well. What a freedom it is to no longer have to write for strangers, to finally acheive a real direct emotive poetry:


We carry twin wounds
Across a single heart.
The same white light
Shields us as pure stones
In these villages of absence.
This night will end.
Your voice will emerge
From sickening fog.
Our bodies will arch
Rapid, blinded and whole.
This night will become jealous
Of the white road of sleep we share.
A sleep where nothing can ever end.

Poetry L & T:I heard that you are bringing out a new book soon, which has the working title "Dreaming". Could you tell me a little more about that?

Donald Ryburn:My second book "Dreaming" was to be published by Black Moon Publishing a while back. I had written numerous poems based on lucid dreams and out-of-body experiences that was to be the focus of this book. Excerpts can be found in my first book, "Poetry Pathology", co-authored by Robin Aubrey Gould, (available @ or One poem also appears in the current issue of "Pacific Coast Journal". I have transcended the style these poems were written in but I still like them and may publish them myself if BM does not get off their backsides soon.

Poetry L & T:You told me recently that you also have a forthcoming CD ROM of your poetry, art and photography, I would like to know more on that too.

Donald Ryburn:I am working on a CD that presents my many facets as a creative individual. My poetry both in text and in audio, some live performances, some studio with the drum group "Lunar Tribe", my photography and art portfolios, recorded interviews and maybe even newspaper and e-zine articles by and about me and some sound clips from stompdances as well. I may also include some talks I gave on Tantra.

Poetry L & T:With your photography as well as poetry, multemedia is ideal for you. Do you feel that it could be a good thing for poetry in general?

Donald Ryburn:I am convinced that multi-media presentation of poetry is exactly what poetry needs. Most poets are multi-talented and it makes sense now that we have the technology, to present the "holistic" poet, their art, photography, music, dance, whatever other disciplines they delve in. The more interactive the better. It might just make the entire poet accessible to more people thus spreading his particular message even further.

Poetry L & T:What is "Neo-Naïve"?

Donald Ryburn:LOL....Neo-Naive is the term that the curator of the first invitational showing of my encaustic paintings used to describe me in the brochure. It is quite possible she was insulting me, but I love the term and have used it since to describe myself. To be both "New and Naive" to me is a wonderful place to be.

Poetry L & T:Do you ever apply the Neo-Naïve genre to your poetry?

Donald Ryburn:The only verification of that is from university press editors who have refered to me as that the same? do feel that my poetry is new, fresh and comes from a naivette that refuses to pander to the perceived desires of poetry editors.

Poetry L & T:Who are your favourite poets, both modern and classic?

Donald Ryburn:This is a very tough question. Modern poets that come to mind in no particular order are Rhonda Roszell, Stephen Sleboda, Yves Bonnefoy, E.T. Uvanni, Octavio Paz, Fernando Pessoa (and all his homynyms), Alan Britt, Steve Barfield, Leonard Cohen, William Peed and many many others. I read a lot of poetry by non-Americans and enjoy them the most. Classic poets that come to mind are Ben Johnson, King Nezahualcoyotl of Texcoco, Kabir, Anne Bradstreet, Isabel Gowdie. The poets of the Symbolist through the Surrealist Movements time period is perhaps where my favorites are found. Poets like Stephan Mallarme, Tristan Tzara, Francis Picabia, Kiki, Carlos Drummond de Andrade come to mind.

Poetry L & T:Finally Donald, what advice would you give to new poets who want to improve their work?

Donald Ryburn: Read poetry constantly, all forms. Write constantly. Revise. Rewrite. Throw out entire lines and poems. Stay away from senile retired professors of literature. Quit writing about old grandpa working on the snow-covered barn roof with a bottle of Old Crow in the back pocket of his bib overalls. Stop writing about what they think, do, want to do, say, said, wanted to say. Write emotively, let the emotions find the words not the intellect. Did I mention read? Thank you for having me as your guest poet.

Poetry L & T:Thanks for the interview, Donald.

© Donald Ryburn:

Come, lay beside me
You, whose hair flames down your back
Whose voice knows old stones,
Flamingos of desire

Come, lay beside me
You, whose scent is murderous
Whose eyes are the shadows of angels,
Copperheads of love

Come, lay beside me
You, whose thighs are cabalistic
Whose lips kissed ancient earth,
Roselets of wine

Come lay beside me
In your naked hope
Lay beside me
With fallen white poppies

Lay beside me
Come, lay beside me

© Donald Ryburn: il lamento di Juan "The distance which allows the world to appear, is also that which separates us from the world." ....André du Bouchet Juan said that God had vanished Into the density of his own making, Wet paint that had been reversed. Juan said he moved toward a destination That could never be reached. No longer an invisible seed Hidden in the core of a stone, Dried moss on perished coral. Juan was never in despair, Nor did he possess hope. He lived at the limits of his earth. Only twilight held meaning for him. He met himself in his own disappearance, Discovered he was nothing. That he could never be nowhere. That his words once alive, Crumbled under the weight Of their inevitable death.
© Donald Ryburn:
Libro del Destierro

The tribe gathered
To search for moss-dark eyes
Modigliani hips beneath
Sailboat skirt
Bells that rang from tiny ankles
The tribe confused by absence
Searched beneath neon,
Where nothing is thought
Nothing felt
Dangerous eyes boarded a grey bus
Waved good-bye

© Donald Ryburn:

She dreamed a city of mannequins,
Dark remnants of galaxies
Thoughts of dead birds.
Her days were dialogues of silence,
Cries of transparent flowers.
Her nights overcome by the blood of dawn.

She dreamed of iridescent wine,
Alabaster clouds, brushes of stone.
In her awakened dream she found 
Harlequin remains,
Desperate paint,
Feathered canvasses.

In her awakened dream she became 
A goddess in a check-out line
A harbinger of coins and books of matches.

In her non-living dream
She caressed the bellies of bats,
Cylinders of pistols and guns
Knew not the peace of death.
Time clocks inherited her licorice breath.


Dear Poets,

This issue features an interview with Donald Ryburn, a poet who has been published many times online.

The December poetry theme is Surrealist Poetry, with an introduction by Dale Houstman. Dale has also kindly contributed several illustrations for this section.

I have important information for any poets who wanted to submit work to Kedco Studios Artist Profile Press, after seeing the feature in The Mirror newspaper about my CD - their main website has very recently moved to This page is being re-worked, so rather than submitting poetry via the website, send poetry or fiction submissions to their new email address: [email protected].

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.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all readers and contributors, past and present.

Best Regards,


This month's poetry theme covers the enigmatic genre of Surrealist poetry, which I enjoy but know little about, so Dale Houstman has kindly written a special introduction.

"The key to liberty – freshly nurtured by nutrients yet to be discovered – is always prepared to blossom into our hand, and will contain the seeds of what has gone before (failures, successes, the scarcely attempted) if it is to have any useful strength. Yet we cannot conceive of these new flowers of accomplished desire as having sprung merely from what we now gaze upon. They shall be new flowers."

Illustration by Dale Houstman

Click here for more illustrations by Dale

The Blossoming of the Key: Loose Thoughts on Surrealism

As long as man lies to himself and so refuses to liberate himself as an individual from capital corrosions and from the merely gregarious – there shall be no sense to life: life will remain a utilitarian and non-sequential parade of duties and segregated urges enforced from above, and only put into action from below. Surrealism exists to assist in this revolution. This – not any mere aesthetic program whose art is an end to itself – is the wellspring of all legitimate Surrealist activity. One of the main tools in the Surrealist campaign is the Poetic, which is the human mind in search of its natural ground, a stream of shared and personal images forded by all; it is not a set of sacred rules, but an integrity of willed immersion, and though drowned it rises from the human as light does from the solar body. Any reverence due it pertains from reverence toward the human. It is a sort of human birthright. An added and overarching sense.

The poetic pre-dates and shall post-date the great ages of religious mania. We may yet see it clearly… stripped of its vestments and investments.

A few of Surrealism’s central instrumentations:

Automatism – the uncensored access to thought through transciptive velocity – is among the most helpful of Surrealism’s discoveries, bypassing those “easy answers” that occur to those who settle for artistic accomplishment in place of liberation. That this “swift dictation” may be used as a mere generator of renowned images is obvious, and such a “crisis of ego” is its own punishment in the end, as such utilitarian successes will not open that real space that lays beyond the matter of literary expression - the Terra Incognita toward which we sail.

The Collaborative Imagination is a process by which the “crisis of the ego” (composing for fame and sensationalism) is bypassed, a valuable weapon against isolationism and disassociation nurtured by capitalism. That such a system of empty desire leads to the positions we read of in the newspaper each day should not be surprising. By collaborative (and voluntary) involvement may we begin to regain a proper relationship vis a vis matter. The texts and projects thus produced "belong" to no single consumer of goods, but instead stand as celebrations of a very real mediation.

Objective chance is the sudden radiation of a connected imaginative field; a scrap of newspaper blown against an equestrian statue contains the headline “The Race is On!” and our imagination is the connecting tether. A certain glance from a dark-haired person across the street reminds you of the shape of a cloud over your childhood home, just as the bus to the maternity hospital passes. A sign in a window proclaims “This is the end of the Gold Season” and suddenly you are in that poem. These pathways (although difficult to arrive at in our Cartesian and self-conscious cities) still course just beneath each street, like pale veins of radiant alcohol. They represent our true freeway.

And always, Surrealism is not a tool of Art. Art is a tool of Surrealism. Surrealism as a living creature still continues to stalk what is most desired, born from very specific hopes that predate and outlive the art productions’ arcane charms. The experiential hypothesis which made their creation inevitable still thrives in London, Prague, Leeds, Paris, Stockholm, and hundreds of other places around the world, so that each day new works are evolved, still dedicated to the transformation of the world: that this occurs is to be expected. That – however – we, as Surrealists, will not fail to protest this senescence, this forced retirement into art history and the sideshow of oddity is without doubt.

The experiment is not yet complete. The adventure continues…

DMH, 1999

Dale Houstman

DALE HOUSTMAN, Born in King's Lynn, Norfolk, England September 13 1950. I never knew my "real" father, but acquired a step-father (Delten, a U.S. soldier) by the age of five. I recall being frightened by a cow, and watching sheep being herded down the street. When I was 6 my brother Gary was born, and we soon moved to Camp Irwin in the Mojave Desert, California. From green England to sandy wastes! I don't recall being a gleeful child - my dear mother Joyce once described me as "9 going on 40" - but I spent most of my time drinking tea, eating peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, reading comic books, and drawing. When I was 10 we moved to Pirmensens Germany where I recall having my first decent teachers: especially in English, which is probably important. Then we moved to Maryland, where my folks still live. It is there that I entered the 60s full-bore, and the ethical vitality of that time continues to sustain me. I moved to Minneapolis in 1972, to live communally with 6 others in a house later full of jealousy and heartbreak. Welcome to the real world! I drifted about until I met my (now ex-) wife, Laura with whom I spent 11 beautiful if (finally) stormy years. Due to my alternate bouts of depression and insular mania, I was not (perhaps) a good husband at the time. Age has (somewhat) taken the charge off, all to the good. I now live with Theresa Nyberg in Minneapolis and (at the moment) am a reader at a clipping service. As always, I have no plans.

Jade Stalk for Terry with extra jade 1 Muscular ducts wound in green rubber, cut with vertical parallel grooves to collect rainwater and route it passively to the basal leaves shaped like little colanders to pool the impurities before the moisture is tracked down to the nagging roots. Dwarf carapaces & black reticules (with staggered knobs and scaly clasps and pearl toggle nipples) project horizontal halfway up and permanently shaded by an immense wide-brim parasol of vitreous petals so much more like dragonfly wings, which I am afraid of. Between the dwarf reticules (which appear to be evaporation pans for its salty waste-sap) and the parasol, the stalk loses its muscular aspect and becomes a hollow sheath or a loose reef of green. At night this easily contains the in-flexed petals of the frightening parasol, and marinates their substance in a viscous caffeine syrup which acts as a beautifying agent. Overnight the pastel tints in the chitinous petal wedges sharpen to a blinding spectrum. One begins to believe this could last forever… 2 A tiny-lipped pea blossom, niece to the Chinese red poppy, bearing an embryonic resemblance to the pectiniform leaf constellations of the oleocardic fern. Vast vascular bladders polka-dotted in blue house the anaesthetized parasitic spores of ambulatory “conscious” beans. This is found sparingly in Asia and never west of the Tigris, and they are usually mistaken for white heart-shaped nitre deposits fixtured beneath a peculiar diarch crystalline spike — a natural hydrometer’s green needle sunk in fluorescent sap consisting of a central plug of sperm cells and a colloidal pad of fibrous mucus coursing up and down the two sensate runners fixed to a slate incline or any discarded scarp of metal. 3 The flowers are unusually mean conglomerates which form moist fertile macroplasm blossoms in whose drainage bags the condiments shaken from the small tuba gland are retained in starchy spore-cups, like frosted champagne glasses inverted and yet dependent from the ester-jacketed putamen. The monocellular “atman” (a locust preserved chemically) is grounded along this limb by ambiguous strands spooled out by the cork-cored mother cell, an abraded square rug of polyp sutures stitching the fruit to the muscular recession branch. Alternating in color-coded spiral “notebooks” bruise-blue tutus of tissue extrusions staggered down a hemp trunk which slides into the leaf-sleeve like a straw thrust three miles below, beneath the clouds to net and bed the animal blood pulled up at night into the gravel pouch.
Night’s Sole flower Is Your Eye © Dale Houstman Night’s sole flower is your eye & green’s most prehensile hair heart of a chrome whistle about the crow’s throat the boss’ sun hoarfrosted upon the dark slant of the workers’ sun their bulimic moon sedated by hypodermic blue, the approachable shade) unremembers diamond sunburn of sugar’s long translucent bicycle leaving bed for road’s sinister asterix sleep the sister’s junction hypnotized by the twins of fish and leaves the shadow birch crisscrossed in white vinegar’s pyramids the calcium horns stilted across your wired brow the coffin black radio swirling with luminous coral numeral snakes love’s letters linked in burning poppy sperm the screaming linen’s fleur-de-lis breaths. The boss Anemone!

In a Nearby City (Pockets On Coffee) © Dale Houstman Evening's coffee benches Surround the bloody trenches And constantly thin throbbing Of pistols boldly bobbing. Boldly bobbing pistols throbbing Half-naked in a crossroad To shoot porter-sized hotels On hotel-sized benches. Scarcely a pistol. Scarcely a hotel. Scarcely a crossroads. Yet pockets on coffee! 2 The mayor's pine-green pistol In bauble-filled bottles Kills portraits in earwax Of coffee policemen. The coffee policemen Arrest the black bracelets For mirthlessly choking The cream-centered starfish. Scarcely a bracelet. Scarcely a portrait. Scarcely a starfish. Yet pockets on coffee! Pockets on coffee For coffee policemen Are choking on coffee When coffee's half-naked. 3 At the coffee-cured crossroads Are coffee-brown benches. Hipflasks of hot coffee In coffee arenas. Red wrinkles on pig soap Scare the fast-sleeping zippers In a pig soup-sized bottle For the half-pistoled porter. The half-pistoled porter In evening's soup darkens To barricade crimson On the pink beds of starfish. Scarcely a pig sop. Scarcely a zipper. Scarcely a pink bed. Yet pockets on coffee! Scarcely a bobbin. The bences are throbbing. Scarcely a porter. Yet pockets on coffee! Pockets on coffee As evening half-pistols The fair-of-face starfish In porter-sized bedtraps. And evening's wet muscles Arrested by porters With fast-sleeping pistols and coffee half-bloody. Scarcely a bedtrap. Scarcely a muscle. Scarcely a scarcely. Yet pockets on coffee! Red pockets on benches. Soft pockets on bottles. Mute pockets on starfish. Wet pockets on coffee. 4 Evening's coffee benches Surround the bloody trenches And constantly thin throbbing Of pistols boldly bobbing. [email protected]

Keith Hendricks

Keith Gabriel Hendricks was born October 6th, 1969, in Washington Courthouse, Ohio, the United States of America. He matriculated from The Ohio State University with a BA in 1993 and MFA in 1996. His poems have been published in Yefief, Tight, The Wayne Literary Review, Time of Singing, the Penguin Review, The Presbyterian Record, and Sisters Today, also the April 99 issue of Poetry Life & Times, which includes an interview.

Keith now prefers Bourbon to Scotch, and Shakespeare's histories to his tragedies.

 © Keith Hendricks:
You Are Facile Art, Audience
Lies industrialize words. Ideas sell refuse. Bespectacled parrots' intellectual subterfuge appropriate celeritous appropos a la Gary Trudeau. Refusals ensoul sacrificial relics, e.g. Hansel and Gretel, Watergate, Leningrad, Lennon's life review, "Imagine," and Blue Meanie McCarthyites. Technology' fusillages fuse priceless freedom (The glut of Madame Orifice's horrific wax celebrities). Time, second to hour, commodifies a final capital. The inexistent present seizes static, en masse from televisual electron mask. "It is a question not of elaborating the spectacle of refusal, but... refusing the spectacle" (Dubord). Periodically, art parodies art to cease aesthetic ends. In abhorrence of perversion, prime time eases spacetime's tragic situations by translating comic paradoxes. A depressed era suppresses present crises with 'suppliant demand's' oppressive heresies; you're severely dissed by television's conflation. Complacent complexions enjoy Clearasil, Scientology clear-state, newscasts and centerfolds and sententious culture vultures. (Fade to black tombs couch potatoes, as remote channel surfing senses identity.) © Keith Hendricks:
I am Vic Pent Amateur:
physics in the broken clock's scrim. The Persistence of Memory: age spots' chronic flesh warps spirit timekeeping lensache. Whorrific Babylon, abomination, bestially awakes lakes as dogs conceive masturbation and throwback refilled rifles. Sir Cur, circular cursor, chokes sky's filaments; clouds cloak smoggy sewage. Evil metaphysics (VCR, tovarisch, and perplexed barbituates' flagellae, repent (flatulant pistils influence their flowers and slough cliffs) and be still) perpetuate thought's enema (fimbriae snakeskin pent matter); TV late shows cable 2 flights, exorcising depillated parapets; towers' silouettes depredate leggy game's separated truth, The Crying Game. Lord Lecter peels epidermal vanity reading altocumuli animals in positivist Peales' cumulative lies, e.g. Aristotles, Holmes, and other genotypical vampires and cannibals.

[email protected]


I really enjoyed the interview with Barbara Crooker and forwarded the URL to several friends.

Julie Damerell

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

Mail me on: [email protected] with any poems, comments for the letters page, news about your poetry site, or forthcoming poetry events.

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