Monday, May 13, 2013

Poetry Today: Trends and Traditions
Edited by Anthony Servante

Let’s discuss the premise before looking at the words. It is an axiom in academic writing that poetry must speak for itself. A writer cannot interpret meaning for the reader, giving insight to his own words as if they required his presence to clarify the work’s intents. The poem must stand up to the scrutiny of the reader alone. 

With this axiom in mind, we proceed to our poetry for today; we have works by Linda D. Addison, Stephen M. Wilson, Heather L. Nelson, and Jimmy Pudge.

Let’s begin with the duel who has brought us DARK DUET: Ms. Addison and Mr. Wilson. Ladies first.

— lda Linda D. Addison

The dragon of eternity
dreams fire, returning
from ashes, eating its
own skin, leaving
pink open wounds
or cherry trees in bloom
i want a new Myth
to become infinite
good and renewed
unconsumed by desire
it wants to suck my bones
wait for the last breath
the last beat of my heart,
mistaking hunger for lust
it dreams me in slick arms
newborn, first breath held
i want to crawl back
feel my shoulders slipping
into the womb, rejecting
shoes, milk, blankets
sin and redemption leaves
much to be desired, it
calls me Callisto, pulling
something dark and
beautiful from my soul,
the mirror is cracked, still
reflecting many versions
Life penetrating Life.

Linda has captured the style of English Renaissance poetry. Fraught with allusions, color, and classical references, the selection from Dark Duet bears the symbol of two serpents swallowing one another, forming a circle, in bracelet fashion. Questions of life and death arise, and replacing heaven is rebirth, thus motherhood becomes immortality. Familiar features often associated with the antiquated genre seem unfamiliar for a modern approach to the wordcraft of metaphor and simile as our author seeks a “new Myth” to build her poem around. As such, it is a personal venture with the reader on the outside looking in. A stylized triumph but a bit detached and technically clinical. However, fans of Renaissance poetry should take to Linda’s creative use of poetic forms and stanza divisions.

Simian Soliloquy
— smw Stephen M. Wilson

Ibid or not Ibidem? This is our quest:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to snuff
The slangs and accents of our genus for a tune,
Or to type reams and gain status for our troubles,
And with opposable thumbs, rend them. To type, to please—
No murk, and by an ape to say we rend
The he-ape/ace and the thousand natural Shakespeares
That our flesh is heir too; ‘tis a calm summation
Devour be wish’d, too dare to slue—
Too deep a Passion, enhanced to dream—ay, who’s the Son,
For in that deep of cave what Neanderthals may come,
When upon a tree they serv’d that oaf—evolution’s foil,
Must make us pawns; where’s the Christos erectus
That makes parody of our solo grief:
For who will read the leaves and pages of our tome?
Her oppressor’s, wooing the proud man’s platypus,
The fangs of despis’d love, the claw’s display,
Or the insane orifice and her spawns?
That patent marriage of man’s unworldly fakes,
When his isms must us apes quietus make
With a bare brooding; in our feral lair,
To grunt and sweat at Underwood, away life,
But that the dread of something after data,
The Beagle discover’d a mutant country, with form of homo noir
Know typeset, return, margins and become the Will,
What makes us rather bear this radioactive glow?
Crook’d beaked finches fly; others that we know not of?
Thus coincidence does make bards [of us all],
Man, the naive hue of evolution?
he sick lied o’er with the pale cast of we, Darwin’s children?
Though we dance on the head of a pin to a manic mantra
Something is rotten in America, awry,
Loose tongues speak no names, just captions. —A Madrigal you know,
This fair Opus. Rhyme, in theme—an Aria; a Dirge
May all our songs rememb’red!

Stephen actually employs the same Renaissance style as Linda but to different effect: he uses the poetic form to mock the poetic form, not unlike Alexander Pope himself, who used the Epic Poem format to mock the Epic Poem themes (see Rape of the Lock). The poem begins with a play on the Hamlet line, “To be or not to be”, thus setting the tone right off that his allusions, references, and metaphors will play against expectations—and our poet doesn’t let us down. Shakespeare is compared to apes and Neanderthals in a Shakespearean tone worthy of his sonnets, but played for laughs, and it works. Just as Pope mocked “mankind” in his satiric heroic couplets, Stephen satirizes man’s accomplishments and evolution as a high-toned put-down. “Thus coincidence does make bards [of us all],/Man, the naive hue of evolution?” Indeed.

Linda and Stephen

Linda Addison born in Philadelphia, PA is an American poet and writer of horror, fantasy, and science fiction. Addison is the first African-American winner of the Bram Stoker Award, which she won three times for her poetry collections Consumed, Reduced to Beautiful Grey Ashes (2001)[1] and Being Full of Light, Insubstantial (2007) and How To Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend (2011.)

Stephen M. Wilson is Poetry Editor for Abyss & Apex and also edits the spec poetry Twitterzine microcosms (@microcosms) and San Joaquin Delta College’s literary magazine Artifact. Wilson spent 3+ years as Poetry Editor for Doorways Magazine and co editor of the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s annual Dwarf Stars Award anthology. He’s had several poems nominated for the Rhysling Award and a handful for the Dwarf Stars Award (including a win in 2011). He lives in Stockton, CA where he occasionally also writes short fiction. More at:

Now let’s welcome Heather L. Nelson.

flash ... without the wank

by h.l. nelson Heather L. Nelson

His hand on her breast,
the outside
of an oreo enveloping
her creamy center.
She wondered if it
would taste sweet
and stuck his finger
in her mouth.
He thought she
was being sexy.
It was like
woodsmoked chopped beef
from the meat market
where he worked.
He courted her
over cold cuts, chicken thighs,
and pork loin,
seduced her with
muscle fibers and sinew,
and fed her pieces
of his raw meat
while they cleaved
on the cutting board.
The cow’s blood
and cum mixed,
a saltwater taffy pink
that congealed
on her thigh
and absolved her
of all sin
Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Meditation on MS
by h.l. nelson Heather L. Nelson                                                                              

For Che

My mom is a hoarder. We have to weave and bob our way through her livingroom. Boxes piled higher than my baby sister is tall. A hair dryer that overheats, faded plastic flower wreaths, letters from an artist lover who moved to Italy. Remnants of mom’s life in the 70’s and 80’s.
She has MS and she can’t throw anything out. She screamed so loud once when I tried to sneak a beige pair of 80’s pants and a digital thermometer that wouldn’t beep into the trash that the neighbors heard and ran to check on us. The neighbors know how sick she is. They’re just waiting.

We’re all just waiting.

Everything my mom owns reminds her of the time before the disease. A broken, dusty fondue pot with the original forks makes her smile and sigh, but smile, nonetheless. She is always tired. And her leg, arm, or a side of her face is numb at any given moment.

I complain about pickles on my burger or a scratch on my car and she can’t fucking feel her face. My mom puts up with the fact that I’m 21 with a tight, satiny stripper’s body and that I repeatedly call people who are 40+ “old fucks.” I still think of her as 36.

She won’t cut her hair either because eleven years ago she had chemo treatments and all of it fell out. Now, it’s as long as her pain is deep
and twice as beautiful. 

published 12 April 2013 

The visceral Absolution is a throw-back to the Beat Generation, as metaphoric as Ginsburg at his best. Heather’s hardcore feminism has a soft center. In the poem, she is treated like “meat”, but in her narrative voice, she is looking for “love” somewhere in the obscene overtures of her faceless male companion/mate. We do not meet him or see him. He is described through the narrator’s “absolution”, her surrender to sex. Its simplicity makes it all the more haunting. I look forward to more of Ms. Nelson’s poetry.

MS utilizes a Victorian voice common to the Purple Reign, when Oscar Wilde was the toast of society, but its theme is pure modern ethos. Heather employs a prose style here that allows her narrator to speak poetically within a paragraph structure, much like Henry James, also from the Fin de Siecle period of the Victorian Age. Inanimate objects (pots and forks) carry memories that only her mother can see, but the narrator sees her mother “seeing” the memories, and that the “pain” of remembering renders her beautiful to her daughter. Just as Oscar Wilde stopped Dorian Gray from aging, the memories of her mother keep her at age “36”, locked in a moment of time before the pain began.

Ms. Nelson has a fine writing voice that is strong beyond her “flash” writings. I shiver in anticipation should the day come when she develops the patience to create an ode or a prose novella utilizing the same poetic voice she displays with flashes of genius in these two works.

Heather L. Nelson

h. l. nelson is Fiction Editor for Black Heart Magazine, a Raymond Carver lover, call center survivor, and former sidewalk mannequin. (Yes, that happened.) She has been published or is forthcoming at Gutter Eloquence, DOGZPLOT, The Fat City Review, GlassFire, Black-Listed, and Screaming Orgasms of Bizarro Love. Tell her your favorite planet:

Time for Jimmy M.F. Pudge.

Jimmy Pudge is a character and you get it or you don't, but that character is a damn good writer and poet. I rarely spew inappropriate quotes; however, here it is necessary: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” First off, when a poetry reading can incite the kinds of emotions Jimmy had to face, something is wrong with the drama queen aesthetes who censured his reading. I’ll let Mr. Pudge tell it in his words.

Hey, Jimmy,
Can you tell me the story about your reading of these poems and the audience response to it. I want to use it to intro your poems. Thx.

Jimmy Pudge
Sure, Anthony.I went to a poetry slam at the Ramada Inn Bar several nights ago and decided to read those two poems. I got on stage and started with You Never Realize How Lonely You Are. A girl had gone before me, and she had read a poem about empowering the vagina, so this was in stark contrast, man. The crowd seemed bored because I didn't throw my hands up in the air and shout like the girl did and the other guests did. My poetry also didn't rhyme as well as any of the other readers. The first one didn't really draw a response from the crowd, and I got kind of pissed off because the girl's poem about her pussy had garnered all kinds of cheers and woots. So I spoke up during my second poem Melinda, shouting when it says BANG BANG and received tons of boos. So much, they cut my reading short. Those two poems were completely the opposite of the other poems read that night. These folks were mainly college kids or hipsters, and they had a message to their poetry that transcended the simple shit my stuff talked about like isolation and heartbreak. They were speaking for empowerment and movement and change. i was talking about my home being worse than a prison and a bitch i used to date cheating on me and putting me down and out. I understand their hatred for the poetry, my shit certainly won;t win any awards, but I felt the spirit guiding me to that goddamn mike and I read for as long as they allowed me to, and I put all of my fucked up heart into those readings, man. Hope you enjoyed them better than they did.

Here are the poems that Jimmy Pudge read that night.

Number 1.

You never realize how lonely you are
You never truly realize how lonely you are
Until you buy a cell phone
And have no one to call
But 1-800-Titty numbers
And the woman won't talk until she has your card number.
You never realize how lonely you are
Until you go on Facebook, check your wall and email
And find both as barren as the dessert.
Then you check out your 1,000 friends
And realize you don't personally know anyone.
You never realize how lonely you are
Until you spend all day thinking of something funny to say
To your best friend on Skype who you've never met
And you log on, happy as hell to have something witty
And he's not even there to hear it.
You never realize how lonely you are
Until you're looking out the window of your trailer
And you realize how much you miss prison.

Number 2.

a fucking pistol
you can't tame 
a wild bitch
You whip out 
that dick
and she'll 
suck it
Give that
Your heart
And she'll
Fuck it
Like a pro
Give that
Your soul
And she'll 
Drink it.

The poetry works on its own terms. During the Victorian Age, there was a magazine called The Pearl, "a collection of erotic tales, rhymes, songs and parodies in magazine form that were published in London between 1879 to 1880, when they were forced to shut down by the authorities for publishing rude and obscene literature" (Wiki). The mag went underground, publishing out of France, where it was legal, and shipping via the Black Market to its readers, reportedly to have included many of the top writers of the Fin de Siecle. At the end of the Roaring Twenties, Henry Miller shocked the censors with his novel Tropic of Cancer, which had sexual descriptions that were tame compared to those of Britain’s The Pearl, but obscene to the American critics and anal-retentive readers of the time just before the Great Depression. Just when I think we’ve moved past opinionated censorship, something like the Jimmy Pudge incident happens.

As we’ve seen with Heather L. Nelson’s writings, a sexual element carries dramatic weight for getting the message across to readers. Jimmy’s poems bear the same message, only from a male’s point of view. Poem Number 1 decries the solitude of a man seeking a second chance and actually missing “prison” because people either ignore him or just won’t trust him with a second opportunity to join “their” society. Here is alienation and sexual gratification to avoid solitude. In Poem Number 2, the same “lonely” narrator seeks out female companionship (possibly a prostitute? or a “girlfriend” within a prostitute metaphor) and loses his dignity in the act of giving himself to the “man-eater” (so to speak).

Jimmy Pudge carries on the tradition of sparking the anger of prurient hypocrites projecting their own sexual frustrations on the author and his writings. I will wrap up my opinion of such censorship by quoting from Monty Python:

“…here are some completely gratuitous pictures of penises to annoy the censors and to hopefully spark some sort of controversy, which, it seems, is the only way, these days, to get the jaded, video-sated public off their fucking arses and back in the sodding cinema. Family entertainment? Bollocks. What they want is filth: people doing things to each other with chainsaws during tupperware parties, babysitters being stabbed with knitting needles by gay presidential candidates, vigilante groups strangling chickens, armed bands of theatre critics exterminating mutant goats. Where's the fun in pictures? Oh, well, there we are” (Monty Python’s Meaning of Life).

Jimmy Pudge

Jimmy James "M.F." Pudge was born into this world on 6-9-1979 in a truck stop toilet at a TA Travel Center in the backwoods of South Georgia. An honest and conscientious man, Jimmy served several prison sentences because he refused to give in to the federal laws that impose independent spirits' rights to be entrepreneurs. An expert in the art of pruno, shank construction, and paper dart blow guns, Jimmy briefly served as a leader in his dorm room before being released early for good behavior.

Thanks, dear readers, for joining us for our second outing with Poetry Today. Visit us again soon as we welcome more poets from the modern age. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for the comments on my poem. I'm always deeply interested in how my work hits people since as an artist I create it but know very well it tastes different in another's mind.

    I like what you said.