11 November 2010

Featured Poet: Carina Finn

dear marlon brando,

lemonade diet to lavolier a summer at the country house. daisy made a habitual chain and scuffed scalopini with the butcher’s son. boy, the barbeque – and scrapmetal cousins roughed up like a romance language in the bronx! god thanks a million planks of dockhand and a quarter-pound of hamburger for the holly hop.

dear marlon brando,

the optimists brigade to salvation. supernova flush the speedtrap victim and a hardened alchomatic to cigarette store. golddust an atomized lung to breifcase town and beam the boulevard to wanderlust.

dear marlon brando,

love said to the palladian lady break-a-brick to take the show. hunter-eyed harlequin zoom to look again. darling, all of the clowns are sad clowns. give them some cold cream! dash the dream to pile pragmatic solutions to the global phenomenon!

belle of the b-movie

belle of the b-movie from lady blogblah on Vimeo.

 carina finn has a shamrock tattoo and is pursuing an mfa in poetry at the university of notre dame. her poems are forthcoming in melusine and connotation press. sometimes she writes plays and makes objects.

© Copyright 2010 Carina Finn

27 October 2010

Featured Poet: Gene Tanta


erring the heart beats against the heart’s place empty
enlaced in its wispy elevation
where two skeletons used to rub elbows eating
vintage etymon either
embers ending in
electric exhalation or the repeat button stuck on

eclipse the Christian name for the end of naming
evergreen et cetera
everything from A to Z enameled
emptied of its enthusiasm
estuaries eager to dry off in the low tide
ebb and ebb a plume of oil in the light dispatch

earthworm eavesdropping on all those who came before
through an eyelet to elsewhere
where enlarging edelweiss from seed
earwig history is endless
full with the eyebrows of dead heroes out of earshot
under an eyelid eyestrain eyewitness

earmarking his sepia memories with an eyelash
an exit we all eke out
while every now and again we edit
earlobe to earlobe
easy does it even in the afterlife
with very little elbowroom for drinking elderberry wine


gaga gaffing again war is a story about Armistice Day
goodbye-kisses do not change the channel gay
grinning war isn’t all good
grief the war over what’ll I ware I’ll ware the gravedigger
rainfall ‘gainst my skin gloss
grenade war stories headed over the hills glowing

I kiss the war grizzle who shall kiss glottis
gin I shall kiss strangers the day the war ends glistening
gut every gesundheit
in its ropy gristle gripping at the daylight
glad to spur us on from the roadside grumbling
graphic in the twilight grain

garbled vernacular with a mouthful of gravel
galumphing gleaming
grinding its teeth into the gnashing plank of an old whisky
gone with a forest gulp
gurgle Dane thoughtful brute getting up on the castle
gab all gone in the root

giddy wind go St. George in the fields dented
glad blown in his semivowel garden
some lay down to gainsay goal-tending a pair of dice
galley slaves guide
gullible go-betweens while the attic sisters rust
give of garlic in sharp warbles

ghostwriter poking in the graveyard with rounded fingers
all gemstones and grasshoppers
grainy but grammatical
griddlecake smells waft up the grapevine in cartoon
guesswork as Goofy
quite ready to govern by gunfire

gutters gasping what’s that in the dark
gangway goons or
the gate clanging on grandpa’s gander
gunman shushing the greyhound
grindstone or gunshot
galloping god no that’s just the fiber talking

Gene Tanta was born in Timisoara, Romania and lived there until 1984, when his family immigrated to the United States. Since then, he has lived in DeKalb, Iowa City, New York, Oaxaca City, Iasi, Milwaukee, and Chicago. He is a poet, visual artist, and translator of contemporary Romanian poetry. His two poetry books are Unusual Woods (BlazeVOX 2010) and Pastoral Emergency, which was selected as a semifinalist in the Cleveland State University First Book Prize in 2010. Tanta earned his MFA in Poetry from the Iowa's Writers' Workshop in 2000 and his PhD in English from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2009 with literary specialization in twentieth-century American poetry and the European avant-garde. His journal publications include: EPOCH, Ploughshares, Circumference Magazine, Exquisite Corpse, Watchword, Columbia Poetry Review, the Laurel Review and Drunken Boat. Currently, he teaches creative writing online for UC Berkeley Extension.

Poet's Note:
"E" and "G" are from Pastoral Emergency, my second book of poems. It contains 26 poems, one poem for every letter of the English alphabet. Each line of each of the 26 letter sections starts and ends with a word that starts with the section letter: exceptions made for music and idiom. These interventions in the abecedarian tradition stretch out to a sequence of 63 pages. The abecedarian grid or scaffolding or structure of two six-line stanzas per page helped me realize how the book wanted to be written: the form taught me that this book wanted to be written at the level of melody and sound rather than at the level of sense and cohesion. Unlike my first book, Unusual Woods (BlazeVOX, 2010), it came as a huge relief in the revision process of Pastoral Emergency that the logic of the abecedarian form allowed me not to concern myself with how to order the various letter-poems.

© Copyright 2010 Gene Tanta

13 August 2010

Featured Poet: Larry Sawyer

From Promontory of Liminal Field

These embarrassments
  of elocution

The worn and morose
 grooves of existence  in their
  pockets of light

the bee-eater’s exclamation

  the sting of speech
plasticity of 

  your rapid confusions

brute morning accordionlike


  collects as  rivers in the chest

as a pimple of amber
  encases Paleolithic flight

from promontory of
  liminal field

   in endless sessions
     the wing

extends its razor

  millions of summers ago

meanwhile incalculable exits

open each night

  the moon’s Braille curtain.

Honolulu, Indiana

                   We anthologize

    the weather, in small 

   post-nomadic   c  r   o   s     s   i n gs
 Did our forebears’ gelato?

  Were they more prone

to neither

  as long as anyone,  beneath a maze

of green leaves

barque of February or 

 soup of June

      seasons become
those who most
   patiently row.
Let us such buildings stretch

out, reach in their

  stead to the sky

for some meaning.

Still Life with Arctic Monkeys

This dream of gourmet
Cameras, where we
Bless this walking through the desert
Hand in hand with every known creature.
My reason
Batting Kafka eyelashes
Loads the ark with 
What sounds like rain.
This paper museum.
As they float inside your poem
That we should give praise
For these icebergs blue
And rejoice in their teeth
Says the Kingfisher,
Astride the Empire State building.
Preciously await faith’s unveiling.
Holding your hand inside
My kaboom and cerebral
Map. That we were witness
To that throbbing Vegas
And wrecked caviar castles.
Each little now in
That springlike yard
A piano key upon which I play
On birth’s label
What corduroy typewriter.

Blistering Dinner Party

Neither was in the neighborhood of necessity, these strung out along the shore. 
The composer’s waves, his chauvinist forehead should be fair game, as were 
Audrey Hepburn’s locks on TV. Both reclining on skates to emphasize the precarious 
position that we inhabit inside each second, as if encased in another drawn curtain 
to conceal the huge faux fur letters, the day’s signature. Unconcealed emotions, were 
they left to their own devices at the blistering dinner party, predatory crocodiles of 
both sexes. The film blurs and the accompanying music is so annoying we cannot 
concentrate on our invisible novels.

The Color of Perfect

These waves, a metaphor for antiquity

Remarkable in their large blue

drowning in their own knowing.

Don't walk alone through this world

In a spasmodic memory think of the ocean and

remove yourself from the news.

Smell history in the waves' stagefright.

That the afternoon’s indifference

Exhausts itself in the revelry of:

Its cumulative tone

Silvered assonance.

The slow and arrogant cadence of the waves

Above death

Immune to the zodiac

The ocean exposes itself.

The ocean is its own gynecologist.

Its lyrical voice hovers somewhere just south of

Genre, oblivious yet embodying

A definition of hunger as

Yet undefined.

The ocean extends its bloody tongue to pronounce

Murder and also birth, both are

Equal to its Rococo foam.

The ocean is a swarm of always

The square root of its own illumination.

Its essence is well spent

The ocean is eating itself

Its dinner is generative.

Remarkable in their large blue

The waves have quit their employers.

After their departure

After the long lives of the public servants

Who dole out wooden words

The oceans will continue their conversation with the sun.

The ocean lives in seclusion, like

Han Shan, observing some unspoken agreement.

The ocean is our insurance, our doubt

Could we simply translate its complaint

Comprehend its angry eyes.

Learn As

It etches the ice.

what was and is.

Like the passing moment, half cuts

I search for 

change the heart’s channels



embered conversation

Échoppe of
noon’s singularity. 

in its 


Larry Sawyer's debut collection Unable to Fully California is forthcoming from 
Otoliths Press. His chapbooks include Poems for Peace (Structum Press), 
Chaise Lounge in Hell (aboveground press), Tyrannosaurus Ant (mother's milk 
press), which was recently included in the Yale Collection of American Literature, 
and Disharmonium (Silver Wonder Press). His work was recently included in The 
City Visible: Chicago Poetry for the New Century (anthology, Cracked Slab Books, 
2007) and A Writers’ Congress: Chicago Poets on Barack Obama’s Inauguration 
(anthology, DePaul Humanities Center Press, 2009).  His poetry and literary reviews 
have appeared in publications including Versal, Chicago Tribune, Babel Fruit, Vanitas, 
Jacket, MiPoesias, The Prague Literary Review, Coconut, 88, Hunger, Argotist, 
Pinstripe Fedora, Skanky Possum, Exquisite Corpse, Court Green, the Miami Sun Post, 
Ygdrasil, Shampoo, Rain Taxi, Van Gogh's Ear, and elsewhere. He edits MILK Magazine 
and curates the Myopic Books Poetry Series in Chicago.

© Copyright 2010 Larry Sawyer

26 June 2010

Featured Poet: Laura Goldstein


Put your money where your mouth is. Please. Place your jewelry on the table before you leave. I’ll give you a ring. Just before dawn, a dinosaur roared and a call rang out across the land.

Push here to be cut off immediately. When we were speaking we were disconnected inevitably because of the way that we bounce off of towers on our way down to the ground. Even if we part, I know I’ll always be in your phone.

Soon talking to you will be an emergency, on the order of red flashing lights somehow reaching out soft on the mushrooms on the forest floor. More retreat to a warmer light. No keypad close to code your cue.

The receiver is not usually thought of as a weapon but when in bed it should be just in reach and easily the heaviest thing in the room.

How the shifts in zip codes sound with your mouth wrapped around the round end of a company phone. You’re tapping out someone’s dinner reservations from your home phone on off hours. How our silverware sounds when set down.

Do you tend to short-change conversations that lose the war with the cord? And we fold into a sort of norm when unaware, talking up a storm.

A quarter of some monologue in monotone slips out of a slot called “old coins” A handful of numbers, a wealth of wires, a simple recording, a graduated tone

Copyright © 2010 Laura Goldstein

09 June 2010

Featured Poet: Jason Bredle


One doesn’t make a bowl of cereal, bowls of cereal just happen
is what I’d say if you were sitting across from me at the breakfast table
right now. And then,
if everything were to go as planned,
two bowls of Corn Flakes would appear in front of us, milked,
berried, spooned and ready to eat!
Then I’d say,
one doesn’t make a potato pancake, potato pancakes
just happen, and a plate of potato pancakes
would appear in front of us,
cooked, sauced, forked and ready to eat!
Then I’d say,
one doesn’t make honey and brown sugar sausage links,
honey and brown sugar sausage links just happen,
and a plate of sausage links
would appear in front of us, honeyed, browned, sugared
and ready to eat!
Then I’d say,
one doesn’t pour a glass of chocolate milk,
glasses of chocolate milk just happen,
and two glasses of chocolate milk would appear in front of us,
milked, chocolated, glassed and ready to drink!
Then I’d say,
one doesn’t consult the food guide pyramid to ensure
we’re getting a balanced breakfast,
and you’d cry out like a hawk
and we’d soar over our happening breakfast like two hawks soaring
over an open meadow
full of field mice and chipmunks. Then I’d say,
one doesn’t hunt, swoop down upon and capture a field mouse
or chipmunk, field mice and chipmunks just happen!
It’s been so good to see you again, you’d say,
the sun beginning its path
above the browning ridge.
Soon, winter.
Already some of our closest friends have gone south.
I miss them already, I’d say, I really do miss them already.
And that’s when you’d turn south too,
the wind taking you over the horizon,
and I’d think to myself,
if only you were sitting across from me at the breakfast table right now.
I’d say, one doesn’t make a bowl of cereal, bowls of cereal just happen.
And then, as if everything had gone as planned,
two bowls of Corn Flakes would appear in front of us,
milked, berried, spooned and ready to eat.


I’d eaten too many crackers. I couldn’t get anything done—
not even think about getting anything done.
Doing things is important, Mike says,
but I like to get things done.
I wanted to
pay ten dollars
to ride on a bus with teenagers
and have an intense spiritual relationship with a wolf. 
Instead someone pushed me from behind,
placed a bag over my head
and drove me around the suburbs,
occasionally stopping
and forcing me to photograph churches, hospitals and circuses.
Whoa, I thought. Look at this baroque architecture.
This was what I’d been waiting for. 


Yesterday at the lagoon
I watched frogs mate with a Colombian guy.
He had a fascinating frog-man superior race theory.
It’s so windy here.
The sky is like an ocean.
It feels so weird.
If I had a washcloth
I’d run warm water over it.
I’d lie on a bed and place it over my eyes.
I’d take sleeping pills.
I’d begin writing a book.
I’d call it Politics and Religion.


At night we’d bandage ourselves with gauze and visit restaurants
to delight others with stories of what happened:
realized we had no breaks,
confrontation with alpaca at petting zoo,
sandboarding mishap on active volcano.
Is this it, you’d ask.
But we get free food, I’d say.
And then there was the I’m filled with rage part.
And then there was the I’m filled with love part.
And then there was the I’m filled with sadness part.
And then there was the driving around part.
And then there was the confusing part,
the embarrassing part,
the part where you found yourself without pants in front of a group,
the part where you decided not to live a lie anymore,
and the part where you ask
how many meatballs I’d like for dinner,
and I say, just this once, let’s see how many I can fit into my mouth
at the same time. 


She apologized and delivered a message of tolerance
may complete one story but only begin the next. Here, she’s accidentally
killed her husband to save a stray kitten.
What does she do now?
Does she take the kitten home?
Does the moon rise above the city as she sits on a veranda
with the kitten on her lap?
Does she name the kitten Snickers?
Does she set aside a saucer of milk and cry herself to sleep?
As she cries herself to sleep, does Snickers lie under a quilt next to her?
Does Snickers lick her hands, purring?
Do you like this story?
I like to buy stupid magazines and set aside entire days to read them.
That’s funny because I like to buy smart magazines
and place them in a pile and never read them.
I like to cut them into small pieces,
arrange them on construction paper in a threatening manner
and send them to loved ones.
I love how, in your head, I hate you means I love you,
if you don’t leave I’m calling the cops means stay forever.
Here, people are kidnapped from their own homes and I don’t like this!
How I wish our tears were made of strawberries!
Do you remember her husband?
She lied next to him for hours waiting for help.
If I could only properly describe to you that night,
the way the darkness felt so heavy—
the way the silence, the way the silence felt so heavy.
And the mountains to the south dotted with light,
and the ocean to the north, the ocean to the north also dotted with light.

These poems are from Jason Bredle's collection Smiles of the Unstoppable, forthcoming fall 2010 from Magic Helicopter Press.  He is also the author of Pain Fantasy (Red Morning Press, 2007), Standing in Line for the Beast (New Issues Press, 2007), and  the chapbook A Twelve Step Guide (New Michigan Press 2004)
Copyright © 2010 Jason Bredle

28 May 2010

Featured Poet: James Pate

[I’m on the train under the city…]

I'm on the train under the city. I'm on the speckled train. The strangers look like gardens full of glass shards. They look like graffiti from a fading silent film. I’d had this dream before. The first part was a wall. The second involved a door that stared out into a cluster of blood clots.

I was on the train, waiting. There were other parts of the dream waiting too. The strangers calculated one ride for every cloud in purgatory, one feather from every rubble, one sea for every beach. The strangers examined their cunts and then they examine their cocks. Under the lights they were naked the way rust is naked. They made sounds like cities passing over into sleep. Like subways with the brakes missing. They’d dreamt about their mouths for centuries. They swallowed over and over, to prove they had tongues. They blinked to prove they had skulls. They bit one hand among the many.

Visibility in the Catatonic Room.

We watched others play ourselves on the television. They were zombies with glue for faces or figures of glue with flat eyes. They waited for a cloud to trust in the vast blue noise. They disrobed except for their watches. When they were done with each other they drank wine and devoured cold chicken legs in the tangled and ghostly and champagne-colored sheets. I hear, among other things, your fingers with their crowns of blood. Among other things, a crown of dried air, another impulse toward frescos of shit.

[The dancing couples shifted their leaden weight…]

The dancing couples shifted their leaden figures to the leaden orchestration. Their notion of dancing remained vacant and largely universal. The purpose had been to dance until someone not themselves was either born or laid to rest. The ballroom itself contained a stupid light. An almond light. So said the blasted man with the steep angle to his voice.

Thinking in the ballroom tending toward certain aching sockets of beef. Other extractions becoming contaminated, largely due to graffiti. Still others standing near the edge of the beach waiting for the light to flicker out. One dancer who had once been laid to rest or possibly born writing in the hotel bed this ugly ugly, this steep unlit angle. Her dress wilting in the hot uneven room. Her idea starting to ache.

My favorite Thai place is bankrupt as fuck said one couple, their heads hollowed out by extractions. America played on the soundtrack. An American dance led the way. The couples waiting to be born or laid to rest reading about themselves in books with little orchestration. A ballroom with nowhere to sleep. Colors pouring from the faces. Endless boulevards extending among endless extractions.

[The dance based on the novel…]

The dance based on the novel that had long been laid to rest, its head stuffed with roses. A pink hotel by the cellophane lake, thimbles of swan. Dances from the knee joints down. Televisions filling with steeper angles of light.

One of the ballroom dancers read while his lover fucked someone in the elevator. A pair of hips in the elevator almost but not quite born. Who this someone was or is or might have been became lost in the later chapters as if the face had poured forth its pure almond light.

The Thai restaurant filled with traditional graffiti. In the night the hotel appeared to be another angular extraction filled with airy shafts. A film could have taken place in it but didn't. The hips could have thrown themselves from its windows but only a few sockets of air bothered.

One dancer realized she could only have been born. Her idea making the dance ugly ugly. The blasted man vomiting almond light. This television incomprehensibly fucked.

In later chapters two pairs of hips wandering down the boulevard under the cellophane rain. The extractions turning into nouns as the light removed them from the other lights surrounding them.

The couple writing in bed thinking about the American past and the airy beef sockets of the American present. An almond light washing away the endless boulevards as one noise after the next expires.

Those waiting to be born carrying one image and those hoping to be laid to rest possessing the other. The dancing itself partially asleep as if the orchestration surrounding it had forgotten to misplace its ugly ugly.

The elevator in which fucking had occurred thrown off the beach. A face to pour light into. Televisions flickering. The ballroom empty except for the last extraction.

[The man without air…]

The man without air used his stomach muscles to center himself in the middle of the field. He used his jaw muscles to extinguish certain ideas he had only come to understand recently. He used his skull muscles to watch films involving parades of pork moving through cities of delicate snow. He used his spine muscle to extract newer and drier shadows from a previously dribbling haze. Behind the purple curtains the 19th century withdrew. Behind the scarlet curtain Marilyn Monroe prepared frantically for the Day of the Dead Mass. Behind the coarse curtain the sea tossed about like houses falling from the sky.

On the radio voices dropped their feathers. They talked about the flakes of rust in their mouths. They discussed the rust that had gathered at the edges of the assassination. The night consisted of several sounds, many of them muffled, or banned.

Outside, the birds were shiny pulses of light. The wolves were a droning sound filled with partial meat. It was an old house with wood rotting from its extremities. Inside, an old man drank soup renowned for its many worthwhile feathers.

The meat of the room was unanswerable to anything but its own kind. The bookcase consisted of dried haunches. The droplets of mute belly were waiting to be exposed. We had gathered into the part of the dream where words melt into their original cheekbones. Part of the room overgrown.

[The film critic passed by in the back seat of…]

The film critic passed by in the back seat of a blue Pontiac at the age of six, the radio playing, with the desert all around her. She counted cacti shadows until she fell asleep. Her forehead was warm, the window cold. The film critic drank Jim Beam as he rode quickly around on his bike, searching for the right address, or a part of the town that looked familiar. A bird chirp sounding like a noise from a film set centuries ago, along the leafy outer boroughs of an empire. In the film critic’s most recent dream she made love to a high school boyfriend on a bed that was really the desert, a pink desert consisting of salt instead of sand. It burned their eyes and mouths and scraped away at their bare skin. Under their skin was a landscape of irregular beauty, like layers of stained marble. The film critic bought another postcard from the only café that remained opened in the town. A faded postcard and an empty café. In the backseat of a blue Pontiac, the radio going, on top of a hill, in Wisconsin, shadows to the left and wind coming from the right. The angular paintings by Edward G. Robinson in Scarlet Street, the naked girl forced to eat shit with a fancy spoon in Salo. The first scenes in the film unfolding during a never changing dusk. The film critic talked to her mirror, the film critic spoke with his cat.

[The film critic tosses a chunk of tuna...]

The film critic tosses a chunk of tuna to his orange and slender and expectant cat. The film critic argues with her mother while watching Klaus Kinski stride about in the rain, violet flashes of lightning in the mountains behind him. The film critic walks through one hallway after another, hearing a cellphone ring behind a distant door. The film critic dresses up as a dead Marilyn Monroe for Halloween. The film critic pours a bottle of wine over her bed while arguing with her husband over the phone, it saturates the sheets, it dribbles on the wood floor. The film critic plays a Johnny Cash CD during intercourse with the woman he met at a midnight showing of Salo. Behind them is a table with four empty cans of beer and a deck of pornographic playing cards. The film critic cuts her hair in the mirror. She cuts it short. Then shorter. From an apartment across the alley comes the sound of salsa music playing. It is 3:12 in the morning.

These selections are from a recently finished a manuscript of prose poetry called Scarlet Street that deals with film imagery (The Shinning, David Lynch, film noir, Kenneth Anger and Jack Smith). There are also two film critics, one male and one female, or one film critic who is either a man or a woman, Orlando-like, in various scenes.

Copyright © 2010 James Pate

17 May 2010

Featured Poet: Daniela Olszewska


The devil’s Zamboni driver is impatient for Jane’s mouth to freeze Over again.  Now there’s a slogan to make us all out of breath!

Near mid-day, Jane took a photo opportunity with her crossing guards. Also, the thumbscrew repair gals.  Oh, as the crow dies…We’re pretty

Sure all primaries go like this, at least, you know, temporarily.   Some confetti Lung!  Our prayer modes are Jane’s for the taking.  No, don’t throw away those

Towels just yet.  But, maybe, bend that black licorice into backwards horseshoe?   


What we were trying to do was put on a roadside show in a brown paper bag. In retrospect.  Sorry about the hoopskirts.  Jane, too, found the goodfolk

Too wide-eyed to weather.  but we can’t bring back the noise.  Miniature Guillotines are party favors.   Yes, go ahead and promote everyone to the rank

Of  Spellchecker.  Oh, she’d laugh if she saw what we used to write out  her last-minute resume.  No, nothing is especially seasonal this year.  Mark our words,

Whatever’s behind Door No. 3, it’s going to be a real game-changer.


Jane dropped that secular knowledge.   To hoof up and down an entire city block. This is a venial threat.  We’re used to west siding it.  Rumor has it there’s a lake

Somewhere abouts these parts.  She tries to be gracious in the lukewarm embrace of the mob.  If it helps, sheriffs hardly ever red light anymore.  Read the sign.

For twenty subscriptions, we’ll watch your vehicle all night.  Or, maybe give up the number of your guy down at the station.   Dammned straight, that’s what it was.

Have Jane tell them that this seems like a great town for starting up a family. 


trinketing with the catch-ups  
it picks scabs, locxxx
to borrow that for forever
shaking under plaidskirt
pixies in the vasculars
consulting new tumbleweeds
the opposite of a black hole
rehabbed by the grace of
she fixates on going to bed without
obscenely, satellite shoots
an old animal w/a head at each end
itself over and over again

Daniela Olszewska was born in Wrocław, Poland, grew up in the area known as Chicagoland, and now lives in the city of Tuscaloosa, Alabama (Roll Tide!). She is the author of four chapbooks, including The Partial Autobiography of Jane Doe (dancing girl press) and The Twelve Wives of Citizen Jane (Spooky Girlfriend Press). Daniela is the current Poetry Editor of Black Warrior Review. This summer, she will teach poetry to guests of the state via the Alabama Prison Arts & Education Project.

Copyright © 2010 Daniela Olszewska