27 April 2006

Featured Poet: K.R. Copeland

K.R. Copeland is a Chicago poet/ digital photographer who has recently relocated to Lansing Illinois, where the land is cheaper and the inspiration, meager. Prior to moving, her muse was unfettered, and she was published quite frequently in zines and journals such as, Cranky, Stirring, Wicked Alice, Swivel and many others. Her first chapbook, "Anatomically Correct" is currently available through Dancing Girl Press. K.R. hopes to resume writing and publishing soon, once the shock of small town living wears off.

Guilt Induced Riff with Eyeballs and Fish

I sew the mouths of trout closed, mount them

stiffly-finned upon the wall, recall how long it took

to pry the hooks loose. All I know,

ice melts more slowly when it’s cold out.

A hole may house a rabbit, mole, or bear.

An eyelash is an eyelash, is a hair. Not much

to go on. A thread embeds itself in needle’s orb

with pushy fingers, while shaky fingered figures

miss their mark. The light is just the dark

in different order. I border on the balance of success.

A mess unviewed is tidy, dead are spry. A shriek could be

a gleeful guttural or else a menace. A kennel is a kernel

if a typo is at play. What I mean to say, is look

at who is looking. Tattoo your eyeballs’ likeness on your lids.

Blink and make believe the still-gilled fish are half-alive and smiling wildly.

(Previously published, Wicked Alice)

The Law of Very Large Numbers

“With a large enough sample, any outrageous thing is apt to happen”

Persi Diaconis, Frederick Mosteller, Harvard University

I draw my thoughts out in long lines, word after enervating word as if trying to catch a fish off in the distance. My wrist grows tired from the casting, my mind reels. It’s easy to get caught in strings of lingo, when interlaced they make a mighty net. Still I’d bet there’s been a dozen other mongers who have said the same thing using much less sweat. So I’ll take a break, a breather, here beneath this shady tree, have a sandwich and a drink of something sweet. Greet a mega-swarm of several swarms of Africanized bees, the vibrato of their buzzing causing pleasure far beyond the pond or seas.

(Previously published, Stirring)

Evolution of the Shadow Frog

Shadow frog, your tadpoles in a bubble nest begin

with fish-like fins, soon muscled limbs will flight them.

The urge to get ahead will spread, fur-bearers will shed fur,

pursue the attributes our future’s newts have.

Land will swim and all the wakeful things will fall from logs, asleep.

Be raucous frog, and cause this boggy creek’s stir.

Leap tetrapod, from lily pad, unclog these muddy waters,

I’m below you slowly counting to one hundred.

(Published in Cranky September ‘04)

Man’s mind stretched to a new idea never goes back to its original dimensions.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

The Scope of a Couple Dopey Humans or Equestrienne Retrospective

We will ride off into the sunrise

after a night of full-blown gallop,

walk, trot, gallop.

Four stirrups full of feet, a sheet of daylight, no right way

to turn, a burn, no, more a thirst, for chronic knowledge.

We’ll reach the edge, drink tonic

from a trough meant for your fetid hogs,

find a dog-door, crawl through

slews of poisoned windings. Sighting seems much better

crouching on the outside, spying in;

One hundred high-strung horses in the barnyard of your brain,

a gate of words, a needle in each haystack.

You used to be a beekeeper

alone with all the honeycombs and drones in Manitoba.

Beehives lined your balcony like low-strung amber lanterns.

Near-silence buzzed your brain like homemade wine.

The quicker wing-beats set your mind to dancing

the slower led your mind to just recline.

You imagined what it might be like to suck the wow from flowers,

how powerful to pollinate the land. An extra stomach wouldn’t be bad, either.

But you were neither honeybee nor beetle, you were human,

a sad, impassioned insect-loving man. Nobody by your side to share

the sweetness, to lick the sticky richness from your hand.

You decided to leave life, fly off, you went completely mad,

grabbed a gun, blasted a bullet through your head.

You didn’t set your bees free first you didn’t say goodbye, instead,

three tiny glubs of grub-soft vowels cowered from your mouth, espoused the sky.

©Copyright 2006 K.R. Copeland

20 April 2006

Featured Poet: David Pavelich

David Pavelich lives in Chicago, where he works at the University of Chicago as a special collections librarian and bibliographer for contemporary and modern poetry.

He edits and publishes Answer Tag chapbooks and broadsides in limited editions. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Antennae, Aufgabe, Bird Dog, LVNG, and other journals, and prose has appeared or is forthcoming in Chattahoochee Review, Crayon, and The Progressive Librarian. Chapbooks of his poems have been published by Cuneiform Press and Bronze Skull Press.


for Jesse Seldess

This could be the way
of the building back,

without size
the early line

pulled back to the copper

Open a corner.
The world of air,

the children’s field,
a wall of insulation

without size.
Lift up your distance –

this could be the way
of the building forward,

this could be a kind of
made wood.


An emphasis of stripes is
a simple machine.

Equal is light blue
into the pocket,

the picture of
the viceroy.

We are all healed up
after all,

three times removed.
The still to live,

the wind, the awning,
the roots of our cuttings.

This one, a moving cloud,
is already a sketch of rain.


Numbers into shuttle
makes the message:

and when it was done
it was done.

Of the thousands,
a grasshopper.

Of the couple in tandem
a grasshopper.

There are more affordances
for a fold on the grain,

that these threads
might not be broken.

Sand in the struggle,
in height, in forward,

the grain joins the stream.
And when it was done,

the thousands.


Maybe because
they were simple
the gray areas
of the pull
cut across
some rainbow –
of reaching
the back reveals
the braid that you carry
is another weave
of constraint

NATURAL BRIDGE [Previously appeared in Bird Dog]

Some barn

that the same model,
same hopefulness

grows stronger.
A three-cornered barn

leans into the lawn, is lawn –
grows a lawn of barnlight,

Only give it circles

and given back around
surround the sycamore.

05 April 2006

Featured Poet: Gabriel Gudding

Gabriel Gudding is the author of two books, A Defense of Poetry (Pitt Poetry Series,2002) and rhode island notebook (Dalkey Archive Press, 2008), the latter being a book he wrote entirely in his car during 25 roundtrips on the highways between Providence, RI and Normal, IL. The book is a mixed-genre work chronicling the play of sorrow in the driver’s life and a nation’s march to war. A resident of Normal, Illinois since 2002, he teaches Literature and Creative Writing at Illinois State University. He is a trained mediator for the university and practices Vipassana meditation in the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin. His work appears in such venues as New American Writing, LIT, Fence, American Poetry Review, Sentence, Jacket, and in such anthologies as Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present (Scribner, 2003). He serves on the Board of Directors for the internationalist magazine _Mandorla: New Writing from the Americans/ Nueva Escritura de las Américas_. He has begun two creative writing programs in prisons and maintains a blog, Conchology. And oh yeah: "Gudding" rhymes with pudding.


And without your brief umbrella
when I was wild
I was young, and the lakes I had been to
and the lake I had been in
were petrol blue in the evening
and stray smells of straw were on them

and nearby the maple docks
the attention of the carnivores
was bound in the gooses

all these living things
on the lake home
when I was a child, I was
wild upon it, the tennis court by the lake
strange how the animals
enjoyed their wings

some of the small live things were swollen
others tiny, some were windy

there was a squirrel who was windy
none had umbrellas
and for a while when I was 12
my parents did love the lakes, and all of us
and themselves

NO, POPSICKLE [first appeared in Court Green]

for Kerry Mahan Griner

No, popsickle: stay.
Don’t be eaten. Remain in the freezer, the
super market, lodge in the long
far-traveling fridge truck—Be convoyed: indeed
be conveyed for a Dakota
a Missouri—but when the truck arrive
at its depository
—or store—at the end of what hot bridge in the dim forenoon,
stay, little bulb of colored cold,
far in your cozy no-no.
I say chill, be a child, popsickle, refuse.

AN DITCH [first appeared in LIT]

They have leftht uth a lone at latht
There are logth and thtarth to thtub our toeth and catch too at our eyeth:
Thith ditch ith gloriouth.

Look at them! The night’s jars, the thtrange daubing wellth of light:
You over me then like a thtar!, our legth twining
below our grointh.
Your deep fish. My hand-ache. My handth walk
into the China of your boobieth.

Making love in thith ditch
ith gloriouth!


The small beads of grease
riding the soup-sheen
are all I have.

I would suck them up
and forget the soup.
They are orange as kerosene

as if they spilled from a farm house
deep in the soup.
Maybe I will put my eye down
close to the grease waves
and try to see the fields

and the distant churchyard
in the chicken noodle.

I will wave to the farm girl
waiting for her mama, and think
what a lank silo of seed

will meet her
in those fields.

DEAR EAGLES [first appeared in The Canary]

I am bored by beagles those happy dogs
so indelibly at gates. They’re unlike
the nation’s eagles who bang on gelid gusts
above our fields and shining logs. I am
not, thus, bored by yóu—all
your pleasures gentried, such epaulets
and fuss—and never over are the clawed towings
of fish with your angled feathers, no: Dó call me
an eagle lover, then. You are possibles.

Yet too you that once that were some symbols
of this nation that dealt some blows: you are not now
—nor are you ever always will be again—

your country’s over. And though you’re here still,
you will surely go.

For I have seen few snowmen outlast the snows.


Gabriel Gudding


1. A Literary Narcissist’s behavior will not only tolerate but encourage attacks on himself so long as it can translate his own self-fascination into more news of himself.

2. Just as the Narcissist will use argument, catastrophe, disputation to attract attention, certain people will be willing to dispute the Narcissist in order to participate in the economy of attention. Others will dispute the Narcissist because they are so profoundly appalled by his/her behavior. Either way, the economy of attention is fueled.

3. The Narcissist needs Catastrophe. The more internal crises of shame the Narcissist endures and fails to heed, the more s/he will need to create external Catastrophes. A chief and signal way a Narcissist might attract attention is to start fights: Narcissists will gravitate toward satire and caricature as a means of creating argument. The Narcissist will attempt to construe strife with health: These arguments need to happen, etc.

4. The Narcissist IS fascinating -- but not for the reasons the Narcissist thinks. S/he is fascinating because the energy s/he will expend in micromanaging the self image is so profoundly exceptional. People just sort of stand there slack-jawed wondering if this person has a life. The Narcissist however will mistranslate the fascination of others as admiration.

5. Poetry communities will tolerate narcissism so long as it is translated into a Social Energy which others can use to strengthen and promote their projects.

6. Narcissism and alcoholism. Alcoholism is a systematic way to push down socially regulating emotions like shame, guilt, and embarrassment at ones own self-aggrandizing behavior. The suppression of these emotions is never successful, even in the most energetic of self-aggrandizers, and they will periodically burst upward into brief displays of remorse and convictions to change. These brief spouts of regulatory behavior are sometimes shared publicly and sometimes privately among confidants. These displays however can often easily be re-used by the Narcissist as a way of showing his/her authenticity and emotional fealty to the community.

7. The Narcissist is aware of the economy of disgust surrounding his/her behavior. S/he becomes more and more sensitive to this and consequently begins to demand private declarations of loyalty from those people whom s/he knows consider themselves friends -- even if they have said nothing publicly against the Narcissist.

8. The Narcissist, aware of this disgust, will create a personal mythos in which s/he will be justified and exonerated by the rewards of literary history. The stronger the disgust of others, the greater the energy used to maintain the mythos of exoneration by history.

9. Narcissists are only interested in community so long as it pays dividends to their energy: they will support it if it feeds them.

10. The narcissist may outright demand in private that you pay him publicly with praise. Then he or she will publicly repay you with a communal mention.

11. In their attempt to cause others to adopt their self-fascination, Narcissists will become increasingly paranoiac, constantly searching the environment and community for news of themselves, for fealty or disloyalty.

12. The Literary Narcissist begins purposefully to conflate criticism of his social behavior into an indication of his/her literary worth. That is to say, the Narcissist will try to show that the reason others despise or are disgusted by him is in fact because he or she is a Rebel, a true Literary Revolutionist -- and that the statements of disgust others publicly make at his behavior is merely an indication of (a) their necessary denial of the work because they are threatened by it, or (b) their jealousy of the work.

13. There comes a point -- and the point may come early -- where the community thinks to itself teapot and the Narcissist still hears tempest. The truly insular narcissist (aka "the boor") will be met more and more with shunning, ignoring and silence. This will wrest the narcissist from his insularity -- such that he will begin another project designed to create Genuine Interest instead of mere scandalous attention. This project, like a new comet's head, will be followed by a long tail of manufactured scandal so as to call attention to its presence in the literary sky.

Copyright  © Gabriel Gudding