December 31, 2009

see you next year

the year is now almost over and we feel proud and satisfied with what YAP was in 2009, our second year online. of course, this could have never happened without you: contributors, readers, fellow bloggers and friends. thank you all very much! see you again in 2010.

Happy New Year!

The Young American Poets team

December 8, 2009

middle-aged man

middle-aged man
carrying a backpack
can't be up to any good

why isn't he
wearing a suit
riding first class amtrak

winning the bread
setting the example
doing what a man has to do

he don't have the answers

middle-aged man
carrying the worn-out backpack
can't be looked up to

wanders in random circles
shabby but not unkempt
for he stands up in battered dignity

carrying around his own life
which aside from that old backpack
is all he got now

glenn peters (Omaha, NE, 1971)

final weeks for 2009 poetry submissions

Write poetry? Then yap! We want your submissions!

Deadline for 2009 is December 21st. Materials sent after this date will not be considered.

The Young American Poets staff will resume poetry reviews on January 11th, 2010.

Read our guidelines here.

The Young American Poets team

December 6, 2009

dead end

Morose mornings are usually
caught on endings and shortcomings,
if you'll excuse my language:
it's the same bed but a different nightmare

A grizzly bear and a bleeding wound
likely to get infected by scores, lists,
diary entries as in thousands of them,
hidden text and verse unearthed

Appendix A: Musings of the rotten corpse
Appendix B: Handling third party tantrums
Appendix C, not listed (tear and wear marks, torn pages)
Epilogue: A long goodbye for Molly H.

Just as you got here, I'm off to nowhere
I'm of no use as a quite predictable narration
voiced over in stretched out lines
a setlist penned in a dried out dry pen
Ain't that funny, huh?

Pour some money here and some more there
the old joy of giving with renewed pleasures
and concealed stealing strategies
getting tricky and trickier by the minute

Sloppy to do lists, penned with fresh blood
and utter nonsense for sexy vamps,
old videos, Angus Young in shorts,
old enough to freak me out, a creep

Watermarks saying 'fire!'
a dead-end book for ghostly nights
scared, bored and setting the threshold:
no guns to tote, no will, not dangerous

but for the hardcovers

leonidas krull (Warsaw, IN, 1974)

November 30, 2009

you’ll never make a living writing poems

"You’ll never be able to make a living writing poems. We’d better get this money business out of the way before we go any further. I don’t want you to have any illusions. You might make a living as a teacher of poetry writing or as a lecturer about poetry, but writing poems won’t go very far toward paying your electric bill. A poem published in one of the very best literary magazines in the country might net you a check for enough money to buy half a sack of groceries. The chances are much better that all you’ll receive, besides the pleasure of seeing your poem in print, are a couple of copies of the magazine, one to keep and one to show to your mother. You might get a letter or postcard from a grateful reader, always a delightful surprise. But look at it this way: any activity that’s worth lots of money, like professional basketball, comes with rules pinned all over it. In poetry, the only rules worth thinking about are the standards of perfection you set for yourself."

ted kooser (Ames, IA, 1939), excerpted from the poetry home repair manual: practical advice for beginning poets (University of Nebraska Press, 2005)

Further reading:

Ted Kooser's official website

Ted Kooser: Online Resources (Library of Congress Web Site)

Times Topics: Ted Kooser (The New York Times)

The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets (Google Books)

At Home with Poet Laureate Ted Kooser (All Things Considered, NPR)

November 25, 2009


young girl with short hair
she lies naked in bed
the mystery is over

ava grünberg (New York, NY, 1971)

November 24, 2009

lingering questions still unanswered

What about the unnecessary evils?
The garbage cans
and golden trucks
The mindless grrrl
who'll suck everybody's cock but yours

What about the nutrients in your food?
Vitamin infused yoghurt
edible roots and plants
artichoke hearts
bold assertions
and your hard earned trophy ass

What about the hours spent at the gym?
What about the fragrance coming from your armpits
after two hours pulling levers
being the fittest for survival
a treadmill nightmare ignored

What about the pain unknown?
What about the unforgivable desire
to pound your ass
to tear your blouse open

What about the unkempt desire
to posses your flesh for good
to be certain at last
and crave you not more

What about the stakes we held together?
What about the promises you made
the enacted pity and childish sorrow
About all those silly poems
and the sickness trail you left behind

For goodness sake
What about it?

paul christo (Olympia, WA, 1979)

November 20, 2009


The feminist in me, the one who reads
queer theory and gender analysis for fun,
the person who attends poetry readings
where the words “twat,” “cunt,” “yoni”
and “vagina dentata” get kicked around
like hackey sacks, balks at the fact that
I wish I were there to make you dinner
when you get home from work.
Wish I could watch you clear the
threshold, listen as the door thunks shut
behind you, see you peek your head
into the kitchen, loose tendrils of hair
from your ponytail brushing butterfly
kisses over your chin, catching briefly
on the wooly expanse of your beard.
I would have two mismatched bowls
of chicken soup on the table,
stainless steel spoons waiting anxiously
atop paper napkins folded into perfect
triangles. I would settle myself into
the seat across from you, observe
the slouch of your exhausted shoulders
as you hung your leather jacket in
the hall closet and shuffled over to me,
a barely there smile creasing your face.
I’d swallow warm broth as you prattled
on about the virtues of Linux and
the sins of Microsoft, might even attempt
to coax your teeth out from under
your lips with a silly joke I read in an email
forward, or a story about my hellish
work commute, exaggerated to the point
where sympathy teeters toward amusement.
I’d wash the dishes by hand while you
slipped into a pair of sweatpants and one
of the faded black heavy metal concert
t-shirts that wallpaper your closet, and
when I was done I would slide up next
to you on the couch, fit my head
between your neck and shoulder, and
watch episodes of Red Dwarf until
your breathing grew deep and I heard
you start snoring. In that moment,
I would place my ear over your chest,
listen to the soft gust of air filling your
lungs, the imposing gurgle of your
stomach, the steady beat of your heart;
sounds tended by love, blossoming out
of consistent care. I want to place
my arm across your stomach, feel
the coarse hairs scrape my wrist, and know
beyond the shadow of a marriage license,
a shared lease, joint bank accounts,
or stubborn gender roles, that I am home.

carla criscuolo (New York, NY, 1979)

November 13, 2009

gossip schmuck, angry duck

I get the boat afloat
Top of the class
Chocolate a mouthful
Beer maybe, pot sometimes

Discerning adults and gamblers
Would say I hit a double run
The loveliest girl in town
How can she do any harm?

Then the rumors make
Enough noise to shake
The trees and thunder prevails
She's a total slut

You cope with that bull
From the usual schmucks
But they make you angry
Now you are an angry duck

Watch out for mayhem
And sober up your act
This wunderkind is pissed
This feathered gut is hard

Kids are cruel, nevermind
The bollocks or the sick
And envious with no plans
For a life, wasted wandering

What the future would be like
And they say there is no future
Just like they said I was a smut
On a used car windscreen


The angry duck ducks in the water
No offense taken, seriously
Gotta sail to new horizons
Shanks and feet are paddling hard
And you can keep wondering
How it all happened
But please do me a favor:
Get a life

avital roizner (Boston, MA, 1982)

November 12, 2009

poetry submissions, winter break and the road ahead

Deadline for 2009 submissions is December 21st. Materials sent after this date will not be considered.

The Young American Poets staff will resume poetry reviews on January 11th, 2010.

Want to submit? Read our guidelines here.

As we have said, we are working on a major facelift for our site. Plans for 2010 include also new sections, illlustrations and, hopefully, "a room of one's own". Keep coming back for updates.

We would like to thank once again all writers, readers and fellow bloggers who help keep this project alive with their contributions, comments and advice.

The Young American Poets team


YAP Submissions Deadline: December 21st, 2009

Useful Posts:

YAP Poetry Submission Guidelines

What We Look For: a brief guide for submissions assessment (YAP)

Further reading:

Letters to a Young Poet, by Rainer Maria Rilke (Google Books)

Advice To Poets (Copper Canyon Press)

November 11, 2009

lasting echoes of getting over it

A spider web, used condoms, magic tan
The stuff my girlfriend left at home behind
Nail polish, one black bra, a stare: deadpan
Enough to haunt, night and day, this troubled mind
She said had to get on with it, so blunt
I was helpless, hapless, called sister, mom
But seems it was not good enough a flaunt
Not good enough for her at least, she'd never come
So I moved on, got on with it, those scars
Still fresh and dripping yet no questions asked,
When in public hiding at hideous bars,
Walking away from angry dogs, from her, they barked
Now who was right but wrong and has plenty of time
Keeps enacting the same love, stale, past his prime

henry satriano (Columbus, OH, 1973)

November 10, 2009


so I've been thinking about it
and you need not worry
about me meeting Zooey
at the press junket tomorrow

yes, she's hot and smart
and she can sing
but you know I wouldn't change you
for all the Zooeys in the world

now, for those several hundred megabytes
worth of her pictures you found in my pc
first off, you shouldn't be spying on me
it's personal stuff

it's lame you become jealous of a compressed jpeg image
when it all boils down to endless strings of zeroes and ones
the same goes to the porn I have carried in the past
and had to delete upon your -now I realize absurd- request

I understand it is my right to look at whatever I feel fit

but back to Zooey, I didn't hide the fact she was costarring
in Yes Man; I just didn't know
and The Happening, you know how much I hate Shyamalan movies
but you insisted we should see that one

so darling
you need not worry
because we both well know
I don't stand a chance
of even the slightest slant
to this, our shared uneventful


val ordoñez (Ft. Lauderdale, FL, 1982)

November 9, 2009

dear god


How does your ultimate plan include babies that get left in hot cars with the windows rolled up and die? It can't be because the babies are being punished because they aren't really capable of much, and you don't even like it when slime babies aren't kept alive. If the plan here is to teach the parents a lesson, don't you think there is a method that doesn't involve baby frying? It seems a little diabolical I guess.

Also, why do so many of us need our tonsils removed? Things are confusing enough, at least let us start out with parts we need.

What does the Bible say about cutting in line? If nothing, is there a specific punishment you could offer?

Why do some people like it when they get cum in their face? Is that something you knowingly incorporated as part of the plan?

Finally, how do you feel about classic cars?

-Confused in America.

garrett west (Detroit, MI, 1984)

November 4, 2009

the young american poets, they are a-changin'

so yes, we've been absent for a little while, for reasons fair and strong enough to halt our regular posting.

basically, as you may have noticed, our masthead has changed. we welcome our good friend and longtime contributor to this blog Beatrice Kaplan (Pembroke, NH, 1985), who has recently joined our editorial team. that should put an end to our existence as a boys-only club, something we never intended to be.

as for our friend and YAP co-founder Julian Bailey, he is just taking a break from YAP to pursue an MFA in his native Arizona. let this post be a virtual yet warm send-off for him. Julian, you will be missed.

also, we want to announce that Young American Poets will undergo a major facelift, to be completed towards the end of November. we'll keep you posted about the news.

now, back to poetry.

The Young American Poets team

October 14, 2009

fourth grade

I didn’t care that
Boy George
Looked like a girl
I wasn’t entirely sure
What a fag was
I just knew
That if I was a

I’d come and go
I’d come and go

daniel romo (Grants Pass, OR, 1973)

October 2, 2009

snail in the rat trap

waited by the false ringing of some aluminum ears
played trombone with feet of porcelain
made tongue stroke many glasses
half asses played with little hand of clock
clicked back with chin straps and softening voices
believing was a fantasy meant
and a precious

arriving in pickup truck black
bed emptied bottles, vacant memories
asking to be holy, as the white fly flits by right nostril
do I breathe like a rhinoceros
and you question me with words unanswered

how quaint it is to lie in this dim august light
how strange it is to pluck your selfish quaint moral
should I have not told a honey blossom lie
would a barbed wire hand adjunct pleasantly

she waves tears like molten fingers
rake my grave down by the lake
and place the ocean as some false sacrilege at sodden feet
words look like ketchup up a swollen asshole

warnings rave as steel fences beside punk police forces
dressed up nineties child feigning eighties indulgence in
a overindulgent sanctioned Americana landslide
I slide tongue deep up your inner thigh
passing curtain sheet willow tree
waving wet finger at the blower standing simple
clocking hours like a significant crime
raise flags with weeping shackled mourners
placating performers wait for the queen
yet the king stands hearty with a silver staff
a lie with a mirror for doubled eyes

matthew wedlock (Taunton, MA, 1984)

October 1, 2009

The Yale Series of Younger Poets, 2010 Competition

As from today, The Yale Series of Younger Poets is accepting submissions for the 2010 Competition. So yes, it is that time of the year again for young American poets out there to stop thinking about it and actually submit their best work for consideration at the oldest annual literary award in the United States, also one of the most prestigious given to new American poets.

Entries must be postmarked no earlier than October 1, 2009 and no later than November 15, 2009. The competition is open to any American citizen under forty years of age who has not published a book of poetry. Only one manuscript may be submitted each year, but manuscripts submitted in previous years may be resubmitted. Read the full competition rules here.

Postmark deadline: November 15, 2009

Entry fee: $15.00

Prize: Winning manuscript is published in the Yale Series of Younger Poets, author receives royalties when the book is published

Further reading:

The Yale Series of Younger Poets

Yale University Press

September 26, 2009

average household

now calling all residents
to join the main dining room
for a special evening
and celebration

we are now officialy plummeting
into the depths of financial hell
surely we must have become
an average household

this is what's left
out of our well-off existence:
and foreclosure

we will feast in unpaid bills
mom will pawn her latest tiffany's
silver acquisitions
and buy frozen burgers at the latino grocery

me, what am i expected to do?
surrender hope
beg for freedom
turn into melting ice

emily thompson (New York, NY, 1990)

September 23, 2009

lazy, procrastinating young poets

we want your submissions!

read our guidelines here

and your comments, too!

share, exchange and debate in the comments area for each post.

Young American Poets
A blog devoted to poetry and short stories

September 22, 2009

texting in tears

I cut my hair real short just because I had to
If I wanted to do this factory thing
So now they can come and probe my poverty
With their golden cane and useless forms

And all I care about is a neverending commute
Lags between dead zones when you try reaching out in 64 characters
Friends get married even when they can't afford it
I lament not being able to buy the things I want

Forever scared at the idea of child rearing
Puddle hopping on a sunny winter day
Reality check by the minute, absolut divorce between
Expectations and the financial roller coaster of low income

An expert scissor toting discount coupon scanner
Scalping tickets, pawning grandmother's earrings yet losing money
A closeted angry, frustrated being
Not a person anymore but an employee

can't talk right now
call me later, will you?

molly church (Washington, DC, 1979)

September 18, 2009

you and me

I stood in line at 7-Eleven
after my nightly workout
to buy a quart of milk,
because osteoporosis isn't sexy.
And because I still believe
it will do my thirty-something year-old body
some good.

Carefree college dude in front of me,
whose mondo snug tee
said I ♥ MILFS,
and barely covered
his corpulent Heineken-bolstered belly,
asked the cliché Calcutta clerk
if he could get him
an obscure brand of cigarettes;
the clerk had to be
guided three times
before he got it right.

"Dhis one?"
"Dhis one?"
"Dhis one?"

I walked out,
envying frat boy and his life,
remembering when…
guzzling my milk.

Carefree college dude
sat down on his beach cruiser,
coolly tapping his sandal to the ground
puffing away
looking up at stars
that weren't there.

I chugged quickly,
staring at him until he looked at me,
Shaking his head in dismay as if to say,
"Hey. My life's not any easier Bro..."

daniel romo (Grants Pass, OR, 1973)

September 16, 2009

slash youngpoets

please, don't kill us.

follow us on twitter instead:

Young American Poets
A blog devoted to poetry and short stories

September 15, 2009

old e-mail found in trash folder

Hey, how are you
I know we haven't talked or e-mailed for a while now
I know it is most likely
You want it to stay that way

I am writing to you because I feel
(Or have felt for some time)
That I wanted to know about you
What you are up to

I just don't mean to bother you in any way
But you once wrote to me:
I'd like to be your friend, and for you to be mine
I definitely want to be your friend

It sucks to not be liked by people like you
It sucks to be an ugly memory

Deleted messages are moved to the Trash folder temporarily,
Where they are subject to deletion at anytime

arby fox (Richmond, VA, 1978)

September 9, 2009

chunky bits

crumbling the way the cookie does
in cherished chimes and chalk fries
for afterhours, chattering

bathed in chili fire from the
changing shades of charcoal amber
chocolate, lingerings on the aftermath

clasp by overheated moans and road rumble,
laying on the backseat chock-full,
chunky bits of chips ahoy churned and spread


there laid the juicy chunks, chunky bits
of chocolate pleasure rolling into cleavage,
tickling, chaste and chemical

riding choir girls to the verge, caressing
collar bones and choosing the now over the latter
chaps, chasing crystal pleasures

challenging the sudden change of terms
from children to young men and women
chuckling, chilled to the bones and lacking

chinese wisdom and magic, in need of a charger,
chainsawed, a dead chapter gone, chilled and
curious enough to choke on fear


jordan rial (San Francisco, CA, 1983)

September 8, 2009


watch out and pray as I prey
ice cold but sweet as a magpie
what is a cluster within a mud pile?
do without, deploy, start all over again
shoot the stars and shoot your enemies
do something

how could someone be so flawed?
why isn't there product recall for people like you
just like they do with toys, pills

sad, lame and pathetic junkster
drinking somebody else's milk
sweet stolen milk

this being the case
I can't think of anything but cantankerous cranks
heavy metal scything, sugar pods,
bolts and guts, a tiny little hole
the infamous glaze, the red stare

I shout disembowelment, impalement
medieval tactics for your impoverished XXI century ethics
brutal force to arrest your carnal pillage
not hatred but mere sense of old-fashioned justice

you break, you pay
guts and all are now over the table
the dripping meadows and swinging shadows
of what could be the spleen, a kidney here,
some fat tissue there, the bloody landscape
of a not so delicate cross section
performed in a miscalculated slash from meat thirsty shredders
steaming and pumping still
a crimson tide and awful smell
and you won't shut up

left me with this as my only option
and as I slowly shove a little more I see tears
now that's what I call empathy
just like our counselor advised

hope you don't mind I took the poetic license
and read between the lines:

beatrice kaplan (Pembroke, NH, 1985)

September 4, 2009

private school ethics and the pains of being well hung

I was raised in a strict British Catholic private school
My parents were average income
But had some sort of higher education
So they decided they'd sacrifice dinners at fancy restaurants
Overseas vacations and a second car
For us
To go there

A big sacrifice, my dad always reminded me
When he wasn't satisfied with my unsatisfactory grades
Mom just stood silent

So there we were
My sister and I
Every morning
In our neat perfect uniforms
Waiting for the school bus to pick us up
Mom was delighted as she watched from the window
As she got ready for work too

Every morning Ms. Gordon would call the roll
Ms. Whitaker terrorized restless kids like myself
I remember her grabbing my arm and dragging me across the classroom
It hurt all day

Then we had Mr. Maggi, who disciplined us with his loud, grave voice
You are unbearable, he shouted at the class once
And we just stood silent

This upbringing made me different from other people I've met
But then your life changes
When a girl tells you she is amazed by your endowment
It's massive, she said, lovingly holding it in her hands
And gave me the jerk-off of my life
Nothing else matters then

You just forget the scolding
The sacrifice
The shouting
The silence

It's massive
A huge pain
But then again
Nothing else matters

jeff carter (Manchester, NH, 1976)

September 3, 2009

young poets and greatness

"A total networker careerist can be a great or lousy poet. So can a hermit in a cave. Feeble poetic ambition probably starts before careers begin. Beginning poets aren't, I think, cynical in their stylistic choices. If anything they're too earnestly docile. Young poets probably shouldn't aim explicitly for greatness. Life is stressful enough without that kind of pressure. But when the only aim is getting an A+ in reproducing teachers' revolutions, it's unlikely to lead anywhere but mediocrity."

daisy fried (Ithaca, NY, 1967), as quoted in Ambition and Greatness, a round-table discussion with Adam Kirsch, Thomas Sayers Ellis and Jeredith Merrin. The exchange was published in 2005 by Poetry magazine.

Further reading:

Poetry and Ambition, by Donald Hall (

Breakfast Served Any Time All Day: Essays on Poetry New and Selected, by Donald Hall (Google Books)

The Great(ness) Game, by David Orr (The New York Times)

Responding to Poetry Drivel In The New York Times, by Dan Schneider (Cosmoetica)

Daisy Fried at Poetry magazine

September 1, 2009


As I stare at Chris Hansen
from Dateline NBC
I know I won't be able
to explain
how Jenny316
looks just like
my first girlfriend
that I know
her breasts will feel
like soft apples
that I know
how she'll close her eyes
and arch her back
as I unbutton her jeans

jessie carty (Portsmouth, VA, 1975)

August 27, 2009

random thoughts for a second chance

High energy
Running on steroids
She always had it her way
Me, I’m alone

* * *

Carrot pancakes for lost drivers
Ban processed food
Like she knew
Me, I’m always wrong
Never said a word about it
Oh, dear
Make yourself at home
I want you at my doorsteps
Until I want you no more

* * *

Do you remember Mount Pleasant?
Our season in the sky
Cycling Rock Creek
One summer worth all the winters
We have been apart since

Herbal aroma
The farmers' market
Feeling it would all last
Until our scars completely disappeared

All we needed was a second chance

* * *

It was a test, are you apt as pet?
Somebody else’s wet nurse?
And her parents were as far away as they could be

* * *

Hello Lily
Welcome to this world
Guidance not provided

tristan bellamy (Richmond, VA, 1972)

August 20, 2009


oh boy
that was it

a spark

ava grünberg (New York, NY, 1971)

August 18, 2009

sardonic beast

sardonic beast
I wanted beauty
plain grass and stretching motorways
green pellets
irregular yarns
and homesick yearning

a cynic with no mercy
your average Joe on dope and welfare
pharmacy discounts
recession affecting librarian libido
Rochester becoming a far away, distant place
a nightmare

sardonic beast
I wanted knowledge
chicory, tagged down prices and a myspace angel
of gorgeous mischief and souped-up innuendo
a blind spot in my résumé
ancient love becoming pale, dead reflection on a mirror

least but not last remains the poetry
the willing rumble and seismic rattle
of an old-fashioned pretense seeking beauty and knowledge
a block party of two in a town with no neighbors
The ultimate board game that becomes a tapestry
a final stanza where you can use the word Americana
ravaged and bitten here and there, scorned fabric
suffering yet from another uptight moth
laying eggs in the fanciest corner,
Proud of her location, location, location

go try again, ask for a second chance
sardonic beast in quest for knowledge, beauty, misses the point completely
bestowed on a linear, broadband curse
Somewhat lost
heating up old stew in the mist
the limited visibility of toaster, coffee
a final plea and a sketchbook

I miss the point
still wondering what brought us up to here
and how we beat the crap out of each other
for no apparent good reason

brian hilton (Cambridge, MA, 1978)

August 17, 2009

The Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize 2009

The Waywiser Press is now accepting submissions of poetry manuscripts for the fifth annual Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize, named after Anthony Hecht (New York City, NY, 1923–Washington, DC, 2004), American poet and essayist, winner of a Pulitzer Prize and inventor of the double dactyl, a humorous poetic form which begins with two three-syllable nonsense words such as "Higgledy, piggledy."

Entrants must be at least 18 years of age and may not have published more than one previous collection of poems. Manuscripts must be written in English. There is an entry fee of $25 for residents of the USA and £15 for entrants in the rest of the world. Read the full guidelines here.


The winner receives $ 3,000 or £ 1,750 and publication of the winning manuscript by Waywiser Press, both in the United States and in the United Kingdom.

Postmark deadline: December 1st, 2009.

Further reading:

Times Topics: Anthony Hecht (The New York Times)

Anthony Hecht at, The Poetry Foundation and the English Department at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

August 14, 2009

fat girl on fashion

I stick to pants, avoiding pleated fronts.
I require pockets—places to put my phone
and keys—because purses have straps
that are too short, that leave the zippers
to cut into my armpit or
if I go with a longer strap that drapes
across my chest, the mouth of the bag
chews at the bottom of my breast.

When I wear a skirt I have to make preparations.
First, the skirt has to cover the stomach.
Then, I powder up my thighs to reduce friction.
Now, they have invented a gel powder
that not only soothes the skin but it softens
the little tags of flesh that have extruded,
matching on each like, like doglegs.

jessie carty (Portsmouth, VA, 1975)

August 13, 2009

a date gone bad

I'm drunk and I can't hold an erection
She's fat and she's naked in my bed
I say 'you are fat'
And she starts crying

I feel like a total jerk
She's fat, she's naked in my bed and now
She's crying as well
My timid hard-on of course disappears

Wait, I meant it like something sweet
Like, Winnie the Pooh is fat and he is cute
She won't take that bullshit
It's of course drunk blabber I just made up

She's fat
She's naked
She's crying
But she ain't dumb

I start sucking her nipples
Pink, extra large
I get aroused
She says nothing

When my erection is decent
I try to go for her
And then she kills all inspiration again
I don't lubricate well, she says

Fuck you, I say, you fat pig
She cries again
It feels like ages there
And then
She gets dressed and leaves

I'm drunk
I don’t even feel like jerking off
I go back to my bed naked
I fall asleep and try to forget

ian svensson (Detroit, MI, 1974)

August 11, 2009

pandora, december

Pandora’s outside smoking a cigarette.
Hope will be a moment.

"My hands are cold, Pandora,
What will you give me in return?"

I will write each sentence with a different pen.

"What will I receive in return?
Is this you or your brother"

Epimetheus opened the box,
I will do what my brother has not.

Scilicet ut speres nil nisi quad liceat.

"Hope should not be directed toward
that which is forbidden."


Begin by speaking.

"Here is the elemental--
The fire," Pandora says.

We were created from fire

Here is an anchor,
you may feel its weight upon you.

Here are the curves to shape,
"Each line has a point."

This is how I will graph the elemental

I will take your X.
(Here-- a beginning.)

I will remove my Y.
(Here-- an ending.)

"Pandora, where are the numbers?
What is the count of feeling?"

Pandora watches,
Hope delays.

This is the first step, Pandora says.

Hope cannot fail, she says.

Pandora on the couch,
chasing shadows on the wall.

Hope is still in delay, standing.

The image has not washed out.
-only it’s been delayed.
-only the shape is.
-only an X and a Y.

To forgive is to take away.
To forgive is to steal.

To forgive is to remove the lid
but do not cast it aside, Pandora

Hope is what you were given.

gregory brown (Fort Ord, CA, 1977)

August 10, 2009

pandora, september

Red letters hang from the side of the truck like leaves.

Moving day and Pandora's driving the truck--
one hand on the wheel,
arm hanging out the window.

This bitter heat is not mine, she thinks.

Pandora moves out of fiction,

"What do I have left to give?"
I want to allow you to think.
"What do I have left to give?"

Missing control, Pandora
rests sunglasses, turns dials.

Pandora, breathe.

Pandora isn't home yet.

The idea of the porcelain figure:
Pandora lays in the marble on shadows,
under the temple, undiscovered.

Hope still waiting in the tomb.
Hope expectantly.

Pandora in covers, a dance,
moving feet before feet.

"Speak," she says.

Pandora moving through:
hand over hip,
hand over mouth-
Fingers braced together.

This is the veil,
a permanence.

Mouth will not be seen,
The mouth moves the lips expectantly.

Pandora reviews another.

Pandora, ignorant of faith.

Pandora willing to walk on water.

Pandora willing to bite the fruit.


Pandora is unclothed in the bathroom.
There is marble tile.
A mirror.

Her shadow glances back upon the bathtub.
Her image is secrecy.

Pandora examines skin,
unfolds arms from side.

There is another word for this, she thinks.

Pandora is awakened by a knock on the door.
The wind she thinks,
wind she thinks.

Wind to carry away Hope.

Hope clings to Pandora's breast.
Pandora turns expectantly.

Pandora is alone,
this room is lined with squares, triangles.
"To bisect an angle..." she says.

Pandora willing to write things down:
There are shapes for faith.
Clouds can consume the sky.


Pandora looks over river,
A bird is standing in shallow water.

"A dream," she whispers.

A branch is above her head.
Softly the water comes ashore
and softly the water takes away

Erosion takes away expectantly


Hope is in the corner,
quietly playing with building blocks.

Pandora's belly is full,
she is able to notice
dimples on her stomach

Pandora is on white sheets.
In this room, the skin

is electric in                       anticipation.

This is what they call an abortion,
she whispers.

abortion abortion abortion
abortion abortion


Pandora closes eyes,
and waits expectantly.

gregory brown (Fort Ord, CA, 1977)

August 7, 2009



laughing out loud
not with but at


laughing out loud
lots of laughs

what do they think?
they don’t
they laugh

out loud

at you

go once
the longest distance between



hey marion
lost the kick
past your prime
no edge
less time



who laughs now?
not me
I’ve had it


I finally understand
I’ll never be like you
I’ll never be like your friends

I’ll stay in the galley

lots of laughs

you stop hearing them

after a                                          while


brett o'hare (Lewes, DE, 1983)

August 6, 2009

a couple of exercises from professor Cheever

"Meeting his first class at Iowa, Cheever was terribly nervous, and the more nervous he got the more gargly his talk became (...) He launched his students on a regimen that some of them -already in the process of writing novels- thought unnecessarily fundamental. He asked them, first of all, to keep a journal for at least a week, recording their experiences, feelings, dreams, orgasms, and even such quotidian details as the clothes they wore and the food and drink they consumed. Second, he required them to write a story in which seven people or landscapes that superficially have nothing to do with one another are somehow profoundly allied. Third, and this was his favorite assignment, he told them to write a love letter from inside a burning building. This exercise 'never fails,' he maintained (...) He had but one standard for grading the results: 'Is it interesting or is it dull?'"

scott donaldson, an excerpt from John Cheever: A Biography (Random House, New York, 1988)

Further reading:

Times Topics: John Cheever (The New York Times)

The Art of Fiction no. 62. John Cheever (The Paris Review)

Basically Decent: A big biography of John Cheever, by John Updike (The New Yorker)

Our Illustrious Friend (LA Times)

John Cheever at the New Yorker Archive

The Enormous Radio (1947) and The Swimmer (1964), two short stories by John Cheever

August 5, 2009

olive oil bottle smashing in the middle of an aisle

Goosebumps here in my forearm for the first time in
How long?
You endure the simplest things
Facing the little meaningless violence of doing groceries
Twice, maybe three times a week
The little meaningless violence that yet prides on slapping you
A little meaningless playful slap
Until you hold it no more when the bottle of import olive oil
Smashes in the middle of the aisle

No one taught you how to behave
That’s it
No one showed you any better
So it seems not every suburb is the same
The closer you get home the farther you feel from yourself
It came to this in your own device
You drove the U-Haul yourself

The golden liquid spread slowly
And you would love to dissolve in it
But then there is a customer representative offering help
And someone recognizes you
From school, right?
You would love to dissolve

Life is a badly played round of Tetris

nick sailor (Cleveland, OH, 1974)

July 31, 2009

pan de carne*

swinging our hungry bodies we stumbled upon Him
those who wanted not to believe
were left in the desert
not wanting to see that there it laid
a wooden tray
with pan de carne*

those who ate survived
those who ate complied
those who ate were saved

faith was the ultimate trench for dignity
and we dug

those who turned their backs
those who laughed
those who laughed harder
we still hear their laughing

but we were there
sharing our pan de carne*
for every bread is made out of Him
and He lives in every crumble


for every bread is made of Him
faith and dignity as one
a vow for the simplest recipe:
be strong

silvia arroyo (El Paso, TX, 1972)

* Editor's note: meat bread

July 30, 2009

young, brilliant, unemployed

Coming soon
The lack of confidence
The loss of a job
The cascade of well intended advice

You are not alone, they say
But you are

* * *

Who to ponder
Where to go from here

A plain gesture
A three-hour commute
One final bus ride
Somewhere to call home
Late at night
Dim futility
Neither concern nor misappropriation
Who asked for a lawyer, anyway

Make me your reclaimed waste
Pour me into yet another cycle
I’ll be thankful in advance
With greasy gratitude
To the worn-out heiress
Waxed, trimmed
A chick pea in boiling black waters

Problems piling up
Debt surging
Hopeless and bankrupt
With a lesser eye
Frequent flyer mileage
And the pains of having everyone expect so much

Roll your call
You have seen nothing yet
Don’t you dare bet on this

* * *

So how are you supposed to feel
When everybody’s doing something about their lives
Everybody has a job
Except you
Good for nothing
On tape
A blank stare

* * *

My soul is dead
But I’m still living
And longing

* * *

Careful what you wish for
As usual he got more than he bargained for
Someone please
Chop off my neck

Gloom rhymes with doom
The prophet of alphanumeric keyboards
And bad credit scores
Damaged goods, as in a now useless umbrella
A second hand trench coat

The kid in you reads as
The failed adult that you are
The captain of losers
Leveling the playground

This shouldn’t be happening to you
This is not what you were raised for

Please insert coin
Beg us all please
To insert a coin

A not-so-happy incident
Flying away
A parade
No parachute
Hence, nothing

jeff simmons (Providence, RI, 1978)

July 27, 2009

concept unification for pizza time theater

Kabuki kings, hash-chat scenes and gorilla themed
robotics, I love how the Sing
the Dance and Skill wind
like fried junk deoxyribo-blah-blah-blah

It's as if our years of silent
lazy protest and ghosted picket
marches finally pay out. That's right
this one's paying out, and now
our piece of pizza pie just
a bit bigger. The amoebic goo on
our side of the Venn slide swallows up
the poo-poo'ers. The nay-nay's.

First we take Manhattan, two-headed
or bearded or busted-palate or just
plain Weird-Ass Babies, then
we take Nepal. We take 'em all.

james weber jr. (St. Louis, MO, 1976)

Contemporary American Poetry for the Twitter Age

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July 24, 2009

touching hard back to soft underbelly

Lee Miller is laughing at Jean Cocteau
All black and white silhouettes
Because they are wrapped in cellophane
In a museum, dusting thin
With trumpets lining up to bathe beside her in Hitler’s bathtub

Marilyn Monroe reminds me of a summer’s afternoon
Drinking cheap week old uncovered wine
From a pint glass
Staring at a stiletto
Peering out from under a beaten couch

They be dancing under the umbrellas
Large and striped docile
Taking photographs with gasmasks
A strike away like a soldier you know
Us civilians, looking fat like santa
Blaming placed on bottom sole
Scuffed to a fine polish

When her voice crackles under incendiary bomb blasts
Picasso flashes a rounded hand claw shaped
Towards the showgirls lining my window sill
A dull throbbing castrating senses
Making America look dull like oyster colored fridges

matthew wedlock (Taunton, MA, 1984)

July 21, 2009

great David, Jane and me as either one of them

great David set the pace for innovation
inhalation, dead crumb sophistication
and there he went batting his eyelashes
after years of deprivation, bursting,
chilling bones, res non verba,
rest on Valium, sleeping in cars,
strained joints, started over,
he made it

great David said it was all cool
but his neck grew worse
waited forever to marry Jane
should have licked her forearm
when there was time to
but he set the pace and then it was too lame
and layed sedated and forgetful

rate David as a demonic lover
an accident waiting to happen
a car pooling affair with no HOV
Jane wondering and hovering and
emotionally stimulating as she was
two happy hearts beat as one
but she had better beatings to ponder

and then great David went ballistic
lost all composture and tore his worst disguise
a familiar tragedy not for the light spirited
from downtown to the suburbs at 90 miles per hour
the ladder vibes and empty rooms with no view
insane amounts of pain and debt,
like asphyxia on a summer weekend

I'm sick of it all protested David
and Jane was all over the place
took her basket, lost her patience
begged in silence, could not get over it
speeds on the beltway going nowhere
hands tied, cold blooded and belonging to none,
a shoestring, and some more pills for desert

You wish them well and would have enjoyed
knowing them better
but all in all, great David set the pace,
Jane belongs to no one,
the road is the road is the road,
begging in silence, stretching once and again,
ageing, bleeding still from minor damages

dan ariston (Cambridge, MA, 1979)

July 17, 2009

in stereo where available

My life was dust and scratches
Missing frames, poorly enacted
Reel after reel

I was a faded projection
In a seedy forgotten theater
A battered clown
Merely waiting for The End

Enter third act, you
A bulb enlightment
Twenty-four times per second

My life was Glorious Black and White
You turned it Technicolor
Full Cinemascope
In Stereo where available

eugene sanders (Atlanta, GA, 1970)

July 15, 2009

if i could sleep tonight

in silence bails my lining
been way patient for the owls
in plastic, in screaming
bears no anger

tailored fits bargained
got so lucky

taming old flames and recent fires
farming sperm
i've been flexible, elastic
patron of the lard

stuffed nose can't breathe properly
a rhino size rhinitis
making it all up for loopholes, sideways, shortcuts
and marriage

if i could sleep tonight i'd ask her
let me out and breathe in silence
for tonight i'm off, end is nigh
an old snore
a snare
no answer

bastian villalobos (Dallas, TX, 1972)

July 14, 2009

german beer

My credit card got cancelled
But I’m at home, safe and warm,
Drinking german beer

My left testicle swollen overnight
It looks like a tennis ball
But I’m uninsured
Ain’t life great?

My parents absent
Estranged from my friends
No special someone to live or die for
Not even a pet

My face raided with scabs,
Gaining weight from eating
Fast food everyday
Jerking off my only workout

My life at crossroads
Stale, a sinking boat,
A slow descent without warning
Trying to look cool

My life at crossroads
Pale, a smoking joint,
Blown and worn by solitude
Drinking imported beer


david weinglas (Montevideo, MN, 1978)

July 8, 2009

a poem is a time machine

"Remember, a poem is a time machine you are constructing, a vehicle that will allow someone to travel in their own mind, so don't be surprised if it takes a while to get all its engine parts properly working."

charles simic (Belgrade, Yugoslavia, 1938), excerpt from Charles Simic on Writing Poetry, published on The Library of Congress web site, Poetry Home.

Further reading:

Poems by Charles Simic on, The Poetry Foundation, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The Poetry Archive

Former Poet Laureate Charles Simic (Library of Congress)

Charles Simic, Surrealist With Dark View, Is Named Poet Laureate (The New York Times)

Charles Simic interviews at The Cortland Review, The Paris Review, The New York Times Magazine

July 3, 2009

mama's cookin' in heaven

Mama’s cookin’ chicken cutlets in the kitchen
Poundin’ down the poultry to make it tasty
I call it elbow grease, but she’s always right
It’s love that makes them melt so good
Some cilantro, bread crumbs, eggs and canola
sizzling smells from her Sicilian cucina’s cibo
We’ll mangia in a minute, so non tocare niente
Piatte di pasta with papa and mama on the side and my nonni
I can’t wait for heaven

victor kondratas (New York, NY, 1981)

July 1, 2009

my dearest libby

My dearest Libby
Is the type of poem
With a first verse
Just like the title line

My dearest Libby
Was my sex partner
For two years
In college

My dearest Libby
Got into drugs
Turned into a film-ready junkie
Sucked cock for coke

Once she offered to bring along
Her girlfriend
For a threesome
I said no

Being a junkie myself
I had nothing to offer
Sex just isn’t that interesting
After riding wild horses

I wish I could go back in time
And tell her: My dearest Libby
I wrote this poem for you
Title and first verse are the same

I’m not a great poet
But I love you so much I don’t care
I want you to be my girlfriend
Like, for reals

My dearest Libby

ron kenan (Colchester, VT, 1972)

June 26, 2009

counting money (a sonnet)

Work ends, the paymaster gives what is owed
The worker is left to count his money
Mail comes from the bank that I must decode
Bills come together: today is rainy
Seems there is never quite enough in there
The taxman takes his cut before I do
Everyone wants to take, God, is this fair?
Something left for me is long-overdue
Counting does not make the bank account grow
Counting does not make the creditors leave
It only tells us to sacrifice so
Next month we can spend less than we receive
When I count I see that I will survive
With care, I think that I will even thrive

michael david jay (Hutchinson, KS, 1976)

June 23, 2009

when we were kids, mom was married
and dad was a hero

drawn sand strand anew
the backseat full and sticky
covered with two towels
burning plastic and coconut

dwell in peace, slow motion,
everybody up and running
yet another beach
late ping-pong hours

mom was always cooking
dad was always fixing the car
he didn't let us in with sand covered feet
we did our best to clean

mom was always cooking
she didn't let us burn
and pulled her cotton wrapped finger,
iodated touch, hideous trick

all healed and cured
she always seemed so happy
fixing sandwiches, spreading sun block
she seemed but wasn't

summer was two weeks of ping-pong,
tool handling, cleaning after
dad could fix everything
mom loved him and all of us

mom could fix an itchy throat
yet another beach
and they went for a walk
and we all seemed so happy

we did our best not to bring the sand in
clean after ourselves
we did our very best
all of us

paul betbeder (Washington, DC, 1978)

June 10, 2009


below my chest lies concrete
a scarf half stolen bears resemblance
the crisp memory of a narrow street
you and me wishing for a ride home
elbows, neck, are all the same
expect no delays as I've said it all
won't come back for a negative answer
I won't ask what I already know
though bear in mind
love is persistent, weather resistant, geographically challenged
and curiously circular
in long unexpected returns
back to the very beginning
starting all over again from nowhere

michael s. lebon (Baltimore, MD, 1974)

May 19, 2009


Why can't you realize?
Just what you have done to me.

Maybe you'll realize
What you've done if you can see.

Maura tell lies
and I realize

Giving rise
To your demise.

You don't realize
When he's gone you won't have me.

claire audrey gallagher (Fresno, CA, 1991)

May 13, 2009

the world's worst day

say one day a giant thumb
hovers over covers the sky
crushes you
with no mercy

well that's what happened to the bug
crawling on my wall today
now a barely noticeable stain
against the already stained wall

outside it pours
inside it leaks
constant drilling
this surely looks like the world's worst day

not for the bug
cause she is not among us anymore
(yes, it was a she, I can attest)
I mean, for me, the world's worst day

overcast weather makes elmo sad
a giant thumb in the sky crushing everybody
thin spiky rain, no mercy
another bug crawls and I'm on my way to the bus stop

eddie modernell (Ann Arbor, MI, 1984)

April 22, 2009


your mother is ugly
your dog is ugly
your socks are ugly
your mortgage down payments are ugly
your father is ugly
your computer is ugly
your bed linen is ugly
your cell phone is ugly
your best dress is ugly
your photo smile is ugly
your useless overeducation is ugly
your disney collectibles are ugly
your dvds are ugly
your raincoat is ugly
your tylenol addiction is ugly
your petty shoplifting at wal mart is ugly
your fake complexity is ugly
your secrets are ugly
your underwear is ugly
your bike is ugly
your anaphoras are ugly

in case of an emergency do not exit the car unless instructed to do so

amy london (Bushnell, AZ, 1972)

March 27, 2009

asleep as i go

little friday had the answers
of joy, unpretentious stay,
very less the upper west,
mail rebates, no refunds

i'm asleep over the keyboard
no escape from boss
the loser's brown bag meeting
a stare deep inside the bright brave world

of my monitor

days die and you die with them
a week away from ghosts and parties
this living box of mold, black stain,
fungus having a day trip into my stomach

blocked youtube
an unpaid bill
call girls for the real gfe
a step aside, slumber

more like an etherized zombie

on the wake of yet another weekend

jacob little (Southampton, NJ, 1979)

March 24, 2009

difficult dogs

belts and leather carry nest
over shoulders, back scrape,
feather ton, neck rub,
lacan wins,
let loose and wonder,
wander around the house,
rub the neck, wicked spread

i got difficult dogs

i say so

hurry, pelt, feast and rest
difficult dogs are not pets
a mind can bend a horizon
spare a plead, turn into a boil,
let the lizard do the work for you,
chunks of plaster, i go blaster
in a timely fashion

i got difficulties

i say so

find lodge at the ymca
find you until i haven't slept
talk to Johanna on the phone
page Liz, call Joe, wander around the house
looking for something to snack on,
the endless barking drone,
it could be Sunday, stop the blame

i mend on purity

have it my way

andrew flaherty (Essex Junction, VT, 1986)

March 16, 2009

that's a new shopping mall they're building
right across the street

my friends make fun of me
you are balding they say
nothing like it, you punks:
scalp rash, it's a treatable condition

then i find out fighting hair loss ain't cheap
i ask for samples, get none, you wouldn't believe
how much a full set of capsules is so yeah,
punks, i have to live with this balding patch

caterpillar construction machines outside
dig from early in the morning, i can't sleep
the landlord is balding as well and tells me with a sigh
that's a new shopping mall they're building right across the street

i wouldn't feel so bad if i hadn't seen that picture of you on facebook
well, i just don't care it will bring eons of bad luck
but i'm breaking the bathroom mirror for good
and god help me please

gerd philips (Saint Paul, MN, 1975)

March 4, 2009

frondose wondrous

go take a pee I'll hold your backpack
and the film was so awful
dreadful as the cheap popcorn
humid already not even halfway through the movie
it's so difficult to go past I liked it/I didn't like it
preemptive suicide seems so befitting these days (to me, anyway)

* * *

days like this make me think about you
the cross-eyed plump girl whose profile so much
resembles your profile, the same nose
(of course you were not cross-eyed)
i am desperate but i lend myself to memory
your blank stare was fixed somewhere
on the other side of the bus window
and you were sitting silent, hermetic
I came to love that look of yours
especially in days like this
when I see your face in other girls
and you can't see outside of the bus window
because it's raining and foggy

* * *

I moved on, I feel happy, I write about Stanley Kubrick
I make plans, I feel empowered, I make my first attempt at a script
I spot a white hair, another one here and one more there
I love my new girlfriend and still can mouth the bitterness
of a recent failed relationship
keen on failure, a hipster abashed,
a walk-out; yet this was not the tone

* * *

the tone was a soggy window pane
the plump girl in cowboy boots
eyes crossed and her same, exact profile
the late arriving
striving for words
a hook of a title
light breakfast
shower with a shower cap
just like mom did when in a rush
three holes in my stomach
dizzy, fussing over the lack of money
about how it's become so difficult to have a decent conversation
to go past yeah, that's so cool
but not uttering a word about the lousy weather
getting wet under the rain
easy on, easy out
missing my bed, her same exact profile
the eyes-crossed, but she wasn't,
arriving late and still guessing
why didn't I try to get back what I wanted the most

phil mcrae (Lafayette, IN, 1978)

March 1, 2009

a day in the life of ALF

I will never be a Tanner.
Even the cat's got a better chance at surnames around here.
But, no matter what Willie says,
I won't ever be a part of that particular tribe.

Somebody sings, "I've got my books and my poetry to protect me."
I've just got this orange fur, which is probably made of felt.
I miss Melmac.
Its verdurous skies overhead like a dense canopy of overgrown foliage,
Summers out on the blue grass
Playing bouillabaisseball under a sun of wild vermilion,
Or just buccaneering ad libitum around its lower east side in my youth.

Somebody calls out
And I remember,
Without remembering,
The name Shumway and its lost significance here
Where I abide in exile;
In this land of disembodied laughter
That comes on quick like a sneeze
And then is gone;
This place ruled by skyscraping creatures whose pet cats you can't eat.
Jody gropes at me with her icy hands,
And I am left unseen and misunderstood.
A former highly esteemed member of the Melmac Orbital Guard,
Now I hide in the kitchen most of the time
Waiting for Lucky to stride by unaware—
As my eight stomachs all growl in a chorus of dissent
Like the rumblings of bad pipes in the walls, or a garbage disposal running on empty.

I am lonely and lost in this strange place
Where they build bombs to blow themselves up.
Same as we did back home
Before I followed that damn radio signal and crashed into the garage here—
Before I was an outsider,
A Diaspora of one.
I am secluded and shut-in like a leper,
kept a prisoner in order to have the freedom to still exist;
Trying to stamp an intaglio of my presence on the face of formless things;
Trying to make my own little order out of so much dust and air.
This good-for-nothing spaceship lying out all wrecked and ruined,
Never to be flown again.
There is no escape for me here now.
Just these endless days that keep coming and going,
That push me from the laundry room to the attic
Like some spectral drifter:
A nomad with bad hygiene whom you’d better hide from the neighbors.
I will never be one of you.
I am out here on my own,
At the ends of the known world,
Waiting for somebody else’s God to show up and right all the wrongs
That I keep forgetting were ever right in the first place.

davy carren (San Francisco, CA, 1977)

February 25, 2009

a brief history of a suicide generation wanderer

In Las Vegas
I worked a job standing out on Freemont Street
handing out casino advertisements to passersby.

At noon,
when the sun was at its highest,
I could feel sweat dripping down my face,
down my neck and chest and back,
gathering in my ass and under my balls,
my shoes like sponges soaking up the wetness from my feet;
while evening saw the gaunt, middle-aged prostitutes
and hard-eyed crack dealers crawl out of their urban burrows
to peddle their illicit wares to the desperate and depraved,
the lost and the lonely, the hungry and the hopeless.

One night,
only a few blocks from the tremendous spectacle
that was the electrical canopy of lights flashing overhead,
I threw down the last of my pamphlets,
went home to my little pad four blocks from the Boulevard,
packed my things, walked to the nearest bus stop,
got off at the Greyhound Station and bought a ticket east.

In Delaware,
I worked security
at a sleazy strip joint.

Some nights I watched the door,
collecting the cover charge and checking ID’s;
other nights I stood by the stage where the girls expertly
worked the boards and pole in wildly seductive dances,
just making sure the patrons tipped well
and didn’t put their filthy hands all over the girls;
and some nights
I watched over the girls in the private lap dance rooms
as they pressed their assess and tits up against the customers,
grinding against their rock-hard cocks,
making them drool and stare glazy-eyed
at the slow movements of their seemingly flawless, naked flesh
bathed in the soft glow of the dim, red-tinted bulbs overhead.

After hours,
I put the rubber latex gloves on
to wipe the night’s worth of ejaculation
off the fake leather sofas in the private lap dance rooms,
which was when the other security workers and I
flipped coins to decide who was on cum duty…
“Heads or tails,” someone would call!
and there was always that fifty-fifty chance
that you would be the one cleaning up other men’s fluids.

And when it was time for the girls to go home,
we had to let them out the back door,
right off from the Dancers’ Dressing Area,
which always smelled intolerably of
unwashed feet,
old sweat,
cheap makeup,
menthol cigarettes,
and over-fucked vagina.

My lover at the time---
a nineteen year old heroin addict
with impossibly green eyes,
long, plum-colored tresses,
and a perfect little body---
worked there as one of the top dancers…
and I quit the job the night I quit her
(two years into the gig, it was).

In Alabama,
I was employed at a shitty roadside motel,
where I stood professionally in suit and tie
at the front desk,
taking care of our guests,
checking people in and out,
and dealing with the random madness
that occurred here and there throughout my shift.

It was a job that proved strange---
with the old lady
who filled her purse with handfuls of granola
from the complimentary breakfast buffet
and always flooded the lobby restroom before leaving;
with the group of young men
who came in twice a year to shoot gay porn in our rooms,
always leaving it smelling like bad incense,
day-old pizza,
stale cigarette smoke,
and scented lubricants;
the schizophrenic man who,
beer-drunk and cocaine-crazy,
smeared the walls of his room with his own feces,
slit his throat (though not deeply enough to be fatal)
and jumped out a third-storey window into the courtyard;

with the pretty black prostitute often called to the motel
by one of our regular corporate guests (on her way out one night,
she confessed to me that he paid her a few hundred bucks to shit on his chest
as he lay in the bathtub under her).

Tomorrow I may be a beekeeper in the Deep South,
a salesman peddling adult novelty items in the Midwest,
a cowboy actor in a Wild West Dinner Show in New Mexico,
a signpost digger on the muddy Louisiana backroads,
a clown twisting balloon shapes at children’s birthday parties,
a cast member in an exceptionally fucked-up bizzaro porn series,
an unrealized and underappreciated writer of American Poetics,
a shuffleboard champion at a Nursing Home in Ann Arbor,
a horse whisperer in the prairie lands of Colorado,
a fisherman on an Alaskan crab boat,
or a corpse in a cheap burial arrangement.

james g. carlson (Philadelphia, PA, 1977)

February 23, 2009


              fugitive. she fingers america gladly. open landscape pages cattled over the almost. the metal poem flexing pink. ghosts swell in nervous dance. coming in the ascetic ache singing this fuchsia field of mirror. her vertiginous tourism is pyramid green. mushrooms between the phantom ideas. express memory of illinois in secret look sighs. towards the psychic marquee of swan. knows what keeps hope then. flowers exhausted inside.

andrew lundwall (Madison, WI, 1982)

February 13, 2009


p is for pundit
o is for otherness
e is for elegy
t is for trauma
r is for raucous
y is for yearning

poetry is for poets an acronym for life

and while i learn this craft

i look inside me

muscles, tendons, lungs

a heart pounding

in the excitement of creation

vivi o'donnell (Los Angeles, CA, 1990)

February 12, 2009

Columbia New Poetry Calling for Submissions

Columbia New Poetry is now accepting submissions for its second journal, New Poetry Journal Vol. 2. They say anything goes, and we quote: "misfit sonnets, html haikus, inappropriate pantoums, strange artwork, text messages, ghost stories".

Undergraduate students from all universities can send up to five pages, attached with name, e-mail address, and a one-sentence biography to

Submission deadline: Friday, February 27, 2009

Read all about it at Columbia New Poetry


stomach growls, thomas moans, betty coughs
why would anyone use the word "bereft"?

it's time for a drink, sick of ads,
plenty of time to do nothing,

having friends over for dinner i could see it all
and excused myself for a little while

pain, a sore neck becoming pressure over the chest
and a chopin score i got for free on the internet

waits for me over the keyboard, at last,
yes, i am teaching myself to play the piano

dull, life is what you try to make of it, and you tell
me jack daniel died because of an ill-fated tantrum

spend a summer in halifax, nova scotia,
parents do weird stuff like this when ageing badly

but so am i, so is thomas but not betty, who at 32
looks more gorgeous than ever and i did kiss her lips

that day we dare not remember for friendship's sake,
like, yeah, why not again, but the kettle's whistling

i had it all for a while, a dog, some money,
a decent job, a girlfriend named allison

i'm getting old, i'm losing ground, i'm past
my bedtime and this smile you see is completely fake

josh douglass (Milbank, SD, 1975)

February 6, 2009

Young American Poets: Year Two

The Young American Poets blog has just begun its second year online and welcomes submissions from poets born on or after July 20, 1969, from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and all territories of the United States of America.

Complete guidelines are available here.

The YAP team

January 31, 2009

bones of animal tooth

i am not a machine, am
a living, breathing, dopamine fiend
pounding in frame pharaohs with sun blasted god fatigue,
based on some pain when tragedy lined street tenement,
paying minimum, clashing hard against
clavicle bone governmental,

devil run poop chute rool,
someone placed golden rule down
with reality tv,

sickened porn with locks shot off,

who are you, a tyrant ready for war,
leaves on your trees flame, candles dead,
fame built itself up pyramid,
a toilet paper entity, where suburban street curbin
kids place oversized shirts over jeans, loosely speaking,

ballerinas knick knackin your lick lackin paddy wacked silly filament mindset
placed a cowering gorilla with a bazooka future

into a villain pulled smile,
red smeared on dirty dirty white dead man's mask
someone called the joker, our realest satan sarcasm
begging for capitalism beside batman jesus.

who rang your bell and actually wanted your smile
who looked you in eyes hell hung and wanted a response
rather than yes yes my my mmmmm

sleep with your hands close to your face
for tomorrow

matthew wedlock (Taunton, MA, 1984)

January 30, 2009

shattered mirror

shattered mirror
see the faces of evil in the glass
pick up shards
cut at skin
do minor surgery to heal major illness

the stillness hangs suspended as a moment freezes
see yourself in slow motion
hurl arrows and screams at the ones you love
go mad
drag blackened tar from the pit of Hell - your soul
turn it into words like brimstone and fire
don't think, just rage on and hurl the words

but the mirror shows your slow motion jackassery
in a thousand images, replaying in a shattered chorus
of insect eye lenses
all ten thousand versions of you at once
a multiplicity of shame in shattered mirror shards

and you broke that mirror
because you saw the Devil's face staring back
he never goes away
but you tried to keep him at bay
by pretending he doesn't exist anyway

but his breath
is hot
on your shoulder

so sweep up the mirror
discard those shards before you are tempted
to slice long red ribbons into your arms
the point is not to cut the Devil out
you never can - and you never will

the point is to find another mirror
and look at yourself in truth
remain whole
watch your soul

and never let the Devil take control

nicole nicholson (Milwaukee, WI, 1976)

January 29, 2009

dragon's angel

Like a dragon spit fire
I bleed for desire
And my angel sings higher
But his voice is on wire
His notes ring higher
Circulate my hearted pyre
And my decision is dire
Do I stay or do I turn flyer
Do I tell him my heart's on pyre
Or do I cry from this lovely supplier

Like a spaceship in orbit
I rotate and form it
The plan is amazingly forfeit
Giving up my heart for his torment
His hands forming my lively poor grips
Breaking my glass walls to find my true self I wore skits
With his wings open revealing his morbid
His deadly love, killing me softly but hardly like four slits
Initials carved in my heart eternally erasing memories of whore fits

I allow him to stay within
In my skin he belongs to my kin
Making my heart fat too full to be thin
Never again will it shrink from a cold bitch's skin
Fought out of the corner and I knocked you out I win
I won, I'm the sun and the moon brighten with each spin
He is my sun and moon and replaces my hate with a new sin
Man on man is hellacious to the good book but I don't give a fuck I grin
And I want him, so I sin and my sin is sliced within my heart of tin
I'm telling anyone who has a query about me being queer which was once hidden

I'm a dragon dragging on the ground my feet
He's my angel, dragging me up to heaven on beat
The bass of my heart pounds out my love on repeat
So I bring the heat
And he brings the Antarctic sleet
Cancellation of each other but complimentary like trick and treat
So I treat him right and he treats me respectfully with each greet
He is my angel bringing me up to happiness beyond a spaceship meet
And I remain his baby, born a new since we met, he is my inspirational elite

steven walsh (Rochester, NY, 1987)

January 16, 2009

w.d. snodgrass (1926-2009)

William DeWitt Snodgrass was born in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, on January 5, 1926. His first collection of poetry, Heart's Needle, was published in 1959 and received the Pulitzer Prize in 1960. Often credited as being a founding member of "confessional" poetry, he openly dismissed the term as a description of his work. Snodgrass died on Tuesday at his home in Erieville, NY, in rural Madison County. He was 83.

Further reading:

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet W.D. Snodgrass dies (AP)

W.D. Snodgrass, 83, a Poet of Intensely Autobiographical Themes, Is Dead (The New York Times)

Snodgrass at The New Yorker, The Poetry Foundation and the Academy of American Poets

Interviews at The Paris Review, Contemporary Poetry Review, The Waywiser Press and The Poetry Foundation

January 15, 2009

mystery man remembers hawaii

mystery man opens cap drops pills
the spell is ineffective
and I could use some extra cash
endorphins for the road
crossing fingers not to ever meet her again
staying far away from her shit delivering
awakened, battered, bored,
tired of myself
just waiting for the free pastries
just hoping to receive the one lucky strike
that will make mystery man put away the pills
and in exchange go surfing to Hawaii one of these days

I met a girl in Hawaii once
and she was french
it was not easy to talk to her
but I never felt happier
we became great friends, me and the french girl

mystery man opens cap drops eyelids
the smell is unobtrusive
and I could use some extra hash
some metamphetamines for the cold, long winter I'm enduring
crisscrossing the trodden path
not wanting to ever meet her again
battered, bored, and a full-time coward
so fucking tired of myself

a beast with no hope

patrick m. gordon (Seattle, WA, 1975)

January 13, 2009

migratory birds

maybe I got it all wrong
but it felt like we were migratory birds
flying in the wrong direction
heading to some forsaken destiny
unaware of the turbulence
the speed
basically lost

when you can trust instinct no more
and the bumps of the road become scars
long faces in a boat
shouting on the phone
migratory birds tasting like fish
hardened flesh and rubber hearts
what ever happened to the gorgeous plumage?

you let it go
and let it go away
for good

[stop here, coda follows]

a sudden flash of lighthouse light
there's always land at the other side
yet there was no hope for those who live
flying in the wrong direction
instincts unaccountable
moral shredded and the humor lost

and now we walk past
we just don't say hello
and rush to climb into the last car
before the door closes
my hand was trapped
you lost your limb, your youth

broken woman
three years were not enough
wounded bird
those wings are dead
you can fly no more
not even to forsaken destinies
the wrong direction

warm season is now a distant
faded dream

james berdinger (Falls City, NE, 1980)