Sunday, December 5, 2010

5 Poems by Joseph V. Milford


You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar
But he was tougher than a two dollar steak
And crazier than a sprayed roach—hell, if you

Put his brain in a gnat’s ass, the damn thing would
Fly backwards. That dog won’t hunt. I told him,
“You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”

He looked like he’d been beaten by a bag of nickels.
He was out all night stealing the bridles off of nightmares.
I aim to worry-wart the cowlick off that scalawag, fixin’ to.

You never sell your mule to buy the plow. Any clodhopper
Knows that. Either fish or cut bait. There’s no time to waste.
And you best be careful—the sun don’t shine on the same dog’s tail

All the time. Nobody pisses on my leg and tells me it’s raining.


I was once a legend.
Then I was scrapmetal.
Then I found a map.

I was once a carwreck.
Then I was a cartographer
Without legs in a swamp.

I was once a pole of the earth
Bored and reverberating;
I walked away from the factory.

I was once a manufacturer,
A metal-melder with trademarks,
Any practical invention no one loved.

I became a hometown hero,
Missing a few fingers,
Always able to give flawless directions

To anything crude, abandoned, local.

Underprivileged Youth

These days, most want to be crows and ravens.
These cataracts make pretty smogs, I reckon.
By my figuring, you walked out of a snagstorm
To hand me a mushroom cloud. I call it cotton candy.

Gnats whisper about the kitchen windows.
Palmetto bugs crawl their cartography in the grass.
I have a deeply submerged under the porch soul.
You’ve felt it in every catfish you ever ate.

These days, they try to subdue a great upheaval
By giving us so many helpings of upheaval. Trifle
To trifle, you will buy yourself back from those
Who sold you before you knew you had value.

It’s genius. I love it. Economics like a duck-billed
Prospectus that lays eggs and still needs banks
To be its tits. Now this is politics not poems.
Those with guns on their wings never knew a difference.

In the old days, most wanted to be otters or wolverines.
Maybe sables. Maybe badgers. I remember realizing
That sleek was not loyal and cunning was not reliable.
I found this in an alley, a corpse in a brown paper bag.

Often, the daffodils are the worst army I have seen.
Their lush green and gold taller than my two-year-old
Unless I pay a stranger. I am shorter than weeds now.
I am spiderwebs on oaks. I hold things like crows can

In their small leather and bone hooks. This way
Of strife is only an anthill doused with gasoline.
A teen-ager pregnant with vertigo will drop her
sparkler and kill a world with the end of her summer.

My Wife’s Skin

This time I gave her the pelt
It had been marked petulant
She smelled it before kissing me
Then she kissed it—I felt vindicated
And I worked for mendicants
The pelt was holographic and skimmered
I suggested that we could put it
Through many vents or processes
Which could make it less pelt and more
Silver but she really attached a lot
Of pelt to it—this was my mistake
Then she, for a moment, let me hold the pelt
For safekeeping, even though it pained her,
She went to a place where this generosity,
Or its stamp, was not avant or vogue enough
I put the pelt in a window several stories high
Hoping it would jump or fall or hiccup out
The pelt in that window wrapped its imagination
About my oblongata and I became its animal
Upon her return, I was skinned, but willfully
She wore me well unto I was tufts and lint
I never loved like that before—I found myself
Floating about her as mites chewed me in air
I thought to myself about myself when I once
Watched clouds on my back, thinking I was on earth
But I had always been on a cloud watching
Things I thought were clouds, or better yet, worse than that.

Moreland, Georgia Nocturne

I woke with runes across the bridge of my nose.
(They might be freckles or indentations from quilt wrinkles.)

I woke with angels outside my balcony.
(Hummingbirds at their feeders on the porch,

We put hummingbird food out like people think wind.)
I woke with knowledge of ancient Celtic alchemy.

(Still these transformations happen in ovaries of tiger lilies.
They blossom in the yard under thunderstorms.)

I awoke with a Mohawk; its roots were the World Tree;
its spikes were the constellations.

(Sincerely I went to work and taught my classes.)
I woke with a musket in my hand and went to kill bootleggers.

The rabbits ran from the back of the house away from the wild cabbage.
I woke with the snake in my head and was King George.

I saved all of Europe from Satan and Dragons with a painting.
(The salamanders [I wished he was a chameleon], the camouflaged

little dragons make me laugh as they writhe about linoleum.)
In the back yard, 50 feet or so from the house, is a ravine, a dead riverbed.

I know that there was once a railroad behind this house—a tract.
I woke knowing I was here to be a dying loser, never a writer. Writher, I mean.

I thought when I saw it that it was a riverbed but it was formerly a railroad track.
To me that is a direct message to me called a symbol.

Once you get a symbol, you must make a language for it. Tongues and braids.
Takes time and responsibility. Runes across our noses.

I know now that ever-everything has conspired to put me here.
You all know the same thing as you look out over your tier,

Over those runes on the bridges of our noses
Into the infinite things

That love us and wait for us. To compose words like rings
around their fingers to make the bonds seem real.

To make the bonds a composition.
To make you compose, but then, really, I see now that we are strung

Christmas lights over a garden; we hang there in fright
waiting for the worlds we created in snowglobes with dry ice

to kill the worlds we live in in our offices,
in our hospices, in our ravines that were once rivers, traintracks—

make a fist, a pact, an auspice
(Then, put your hand over your face.

Then slowly draw your hand down
until you see your eyes.

Now you are doing this
in a mirror. I’ll bet you—

if you can stop your hand upon your eyes
you are further along than me

because I draw my hand down and cover my mouth
and I scream).

You have wakened the wrong man in the middle of your own dream.
It’s okay—we’ll call it even. We share this labyrinth.

We both will until you wake writing runes. Coming to terms
With the dry riverbed and the new tongue.

Joseph V. Milford is a Professor of English at Georgia Military College south of Atlanta. His first book, Cracked Altimeter, was published in 2010. He is the host of the weekly Joe Milford Poetry Show (, which he maintains with his awesome wife Chenelle. He also edits the literary journal Scythe with his wife from their shack in rural Georgia. Currently he is happy with the Atlanta Falcons football team.

Monday, July 19, 2010

5 poems by Andrew Taylor

Best Served Ice Cold

Beyond the yard fields scrub
and electric fence

near a plane takes off
while one lands

this room is quietness

in the bag is a packet of paracetamol

the drink is refreshment
it contains natural flavourings

flavouring caffeine

along the ridge runs a long red train
slowly following an amber signal

while out there somewhere
there is a heart with my name
etched on to it

Endanger Fencin

A blinding division walk the Brecon Beacons
amongst pale horses at Easter

creatures caught in traps shot in the back
of the head a countryside of carnage

from the beginning hotels near Heathrow
twenty four hour rolling news

a chance to study war how I’d have liked you
to walk with me around cities at night

drinking whiskey and listening to shock
radio like a bad mistake I ponder

anonymous scream pilots descend
at half mile intervals in a seated night

I was unaware that you would wait for me
like the ghost ration of a slow light I isolate

Washing Day

Light rain brings with it the smell
of the earth though in the city it's mixed

with fumes this slow walk through
back streets past shuttered shops

and corners where memories lurk
attempt to wring some kind of response

Hope Street white steps lit heaven bound
red spilling neon from the Everyman

Leave to drive escape those furies that loiter
and want to drag me through the mill again

Be gone

Slashed light at 11.30 pm tells its own time
over bridges and out to sea I see Christmases

past waiting for a return

The bang of the bee

Tapping at 6.00 a.m. French windows
except I'm not in France

Clouds are low for June yesterday Marta
complained about the weather

The bee tries to gain access flies off in a huff
the tea is slightly milky

The flowers that Antoine bought are
lasting well I think it's the vase

High skirting boards low window frames
a quietness enhanced by foliage

If Rachel was here she'd talk to the bee
and I'd take her for ice cream afterwards

Instead the goldfinch appears bringing
a recognizable song

Please leave the Kitchen thank you

Refuge the glow of vending machine
red a century logo

Such familiarity

mobile telephones must be switched off
Before entering


Slight hum of rat's piss

It looks like the Starship Enterprise

Surfers crash the wave
with paparazzi in bushes
a desire to be sought and found

Selling face value ticket to a wide
kohl eyed EMO at an intimate Killers
before they went stellar

30/11/03 Warwick 26/5/05 Liverpool

"oh look it's a bra" Chorley accent
amidst the madness

If music be the food of love
I thank it for its help
the strings the swells

cold rooms
in Bootle the role it played

in warming

like Jonsi beavering away
on his laptop making music
through necessity

Andrew Taylor is a Liverpool poet and co-editor of erbacce and erbacce-press. His latest collection comes from The Knives Forks and Spoons Press. Poems have recently appeared in Calliope Nerve, The Camel Saloon, MUST and Durable Goods. He has a PhD in Poetry and Poetics.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

2 poems by Alan Britt


There could be aliens
under my couch.

Well, just because it’s never happened?

When’s the last time
you vacuumed your couch?

See, I could be an alien falling madly in love with you
this very moment,
and you wouldn’t even notice.


(For Ultra Violet)


Bluewhite clouds,
pipe smoke
trailing the Bride’s dragonfly wings.

The King arrives.

At least we think he’s a King,
though, nowadays,
we keep a tight grip on our senses.

part the curtains
of our amnesia,
and the King enters
lifting arthritic windows,
forcing clouds like oxygen
through the gills of our souls.

2 poems by John Raffetto


Craters of sunken limestone
surround Mayan children and tangled mangroves
where a jaguar lies
waiting for the final footstep
into the rainforests
of Guatemala.

A refugee washes dust from a night bus ride
in a cenote.
Where the sky is born
and the earth breathes.


Empty in an empty greenhouse,
flat concrete bench with
algae stained circles
pots removed,
peeling white paint on vertical metal pipes
grey heat from horizontal metal pipes
below the benches
where an occasional hollow tap from open valves
a dry steam settles on the glass
empty greenhouse.

Book Review: Jeni Olin's Hold Tight

Hold Tight: The Truck Darling Poems
Jeni Olin
Hanging Loose Press
231 Wyckoff Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217
9781934909140, $18.00,

by Connor Stratman

Jeni Olin, who actually goes by the name Truck Darling, is noted for her visceral, surreal, chaotically allusive poetry. Her first book, Blue Collar Holiday, was praised by John Ashbery as being "wonderfully caustic and vulnerable. Raw and strangely accommodating." That collection saw Olin within the throes of dealing with the death of a lover, the breakdown of youth, and the collision of symbols.

In her new collection, Hold Tight, we see this same crashing, internally hostile world transformed through new eyes by the poetic voice of Truck Darling, a voice that manages to be distinctive yet eerily disembodied at the same time. This time out, we find poetry that aims low and emerges high, a jarring yet coherent aesthetic which challenges readers to make sense of the contradictions of language put in front of them. In "Doll Steak," she writes:

"Do your sinuses itch, little wolf,
like boys in steaming ghettos beaming
handsomely with sinister little dolls,
racked, trembling with nightsweats,
all the coloring books streaked with piss?"

The center of the world is perpetually shaky, uncertain. The voice finds itself in many places at once, able to verbally respond but not so able to comprehend. Language falls away from being a tool of communication and towards a mode of action. The action of language is imperfect but is nevertheless a way of standing still within time, the "swampy terrain" of temporality.

Reading this book is much being on a rollercoaster going too fast, with all the visual world around you spinning so quickly that a dreamlike nausea comes on. This nausea produces an oceanic feeling, unsettling yet reassuring. The poems are based on this seemingly chaotic yet ordered movement, and the pace never lets up until you put the book down. You feel "Drawn & quartered, I'll fuse again,/my spine creamy."

Hold Tight holds up as one of the best books of poetry of the last decade, holding steady ground against many other modern masterworks like Gabriel Gudding's Rhode Island Notebook, Jennifer Moxley's The Sense Record, and Graham Foust's A Mouth in California. I would also say that Jeni Olin/Truck Darling is among the finest living poets in America, and this collection proves that statement. For all her linguistic invention, startling imagery, and wide-ranging allusions, it's difficult to imagine a more truly effective poet working today. Read this book.

5 poems by Felino Soriano

Approbations 242
—after Anthony Braxton’s Four in One

like colored partition
delineating preference within dispositional
attribution; * : understanding

eye, the esurient interpreter
foundling sadness comparable persuasion
where among faceless followers,
mother, father? |displayed| mirrors of
DNA finality.
Various slants
of the eventual embracing
shapes on reticent plateaus, curating
analogies of life and distance, combining
collocational devices, act/reenact
turmoil dissolves
whereas perfection,

Approbations 243
—after John Coltrane’s Mr. Syms

Man of elder comprehension, reasons
with dialectical promise, problem
-solve variants
mathematic veracity, misunderstood
straight-lined desires.
wife now, third of a decade’s 10th anniversary


her masticated name into the winds hollow,
fascinated listening.

Approbations 244
after Roy Hargrove Quintet’s Never Let Me Go

Worn, sound-thin, whispered
woven introspection
viable reconnection, tissue, virtue, apostolate
secondary inspiration. Near
gnarled growths on
an oak’s misshapen exterior, breeze
notches of contemporary noise
resonating between syllables of silent articulation,
the moment retracts into unfolded time of willing moments, hoping
to repeat therapeutic conversations among ensuing sun-risings,
copacetic hoping of all-angled speculation.

Approbations 245
—after Christian Scott’s Re:

spike in ignorant postulations:
|erased existence
cannot delve into reverted warranties, the multidevoted
—catastrophes, these
—soon awakening into breadths of hopeless tongues’
irreconcilable burials.

Approbations 246
—after Joe Lovano’s Left Behind

Spirit’s mantra
stuttering chants
like a dragging chain’s painful clang
tripping break
against the whipping cold
of concrete’s hardened, ambidextrous

of a saddened sense of vocal calling forward,
unheard realism
a not yet shape of ideological rust,
darkened edges of prose’s skeletal slack
bringing forth singular, undetermined

Biography Note:

Felino A. Soriano (b. 1974), is a case manager and advocate for
developmentally and physically disabled adults. He has authored 23
collections of poetry, including “Altered Aesthetics” (ungovernable press,
2009), “Construed Implications” (erbacce-press, 2009), and “Delineated
Functions of Congregated Constructs” (Calliope Nerve Media, 2010). His
poems have appeared at Calliope Nerve, Full of Crow, BlazeVOX, Metazen,
Heavy Bear, and elsewhere. He edits & publishes Counterexample Poetics,
an online journal of experimental artistry, and Differentia Press,
dedicated to publishing e-chapbooks of experimental poetry. Philosophical
studies collocated with his connection to classic and avant-garde jazz
explains motivation for poetic occurrences. His website explains further:

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

1 poem by Carl J. LaMark

Upon Mycenaean Grave Circle A

Silver studded noses blame
Carcasses of sheep for
Hemming in, like velvet ropes,
The crater swelled with paint.