#35

Jack T. Marlowe
more stick than carrot

no matter how
good a job
a worker does
the corporate
stable masters
will always
find fault with
his efforts.

riding him
with the stick
of authority
they prod his
insecurities
so he’ll
try harder
and harder

a stallion
expected to
jump higher
and higher
hurdles

striving to
reach the point
of perfection
which he would
someday achieve

if the word
‘perfection’
weren’t
so subjective
or so easily
redefined.

so, like an old
tired horse
John Q. Peon
will just have to
plug away
until he drops

or until his
lottery fantasy
finally comes true

but ol’ Johnny
he ain’t exactly
holding his breath.

 

 

David LaBounty
The Blood of the Public

I just want to sell them
something,
but these customers
bleed, bleed
the embarrassing
and mundane
details of their
embarrassing and
mundane lives and it’s
amazing to me just how
much information a
stranger will reveal
to some indifferent
salesman. I can’t tell you
how many times some
middle-aged man has told
me about his addicted adult
son or about the married
daughter that he has to support
because her husband can’t or won’t
or doesn’t. I can’t tell you how many
times someone has managed
to tell me how much their
house cost in a conversation
lasting less than sixty seconds
and I can’t tell you how many
times someone has told
me how sorry their existence
is, how poor they are how
broke they are how much
in debt they are without
regards to their pride or
privacy and of course
they aren’t interested
in my life at all. And
after they bleed all over
my counter and after their
blood stains my showroom
floor they give me their money,

usually

in the form of a credit card.

 

 

Charles P. Ries
CELEBRATION OF SAMATHA
By: t. kilgore splake
The Vertin Press
P.O. Box 508
Calumet, Michigan 49913
56 Pages / Price: $17.50

I am always curious to see what poets can do with long writing. I know that for many it is a journey often considered, but seldom taken. I was pleased then to see t. kilgore splake take the leap with his novella entitled, “A Celebration of Samantha”. This is love story made all the more poignant because it also looks at the end of life. I was surprised that splake, who can write sometimes painfully long poems in stream of consciousness prose style, was able to reign himself in to tell this very sweet story. Here we find the Gray Beard Dancer has fallen in love with Elizabeth the young counter waitress at his local coffee shop. She has a young eight-year-old daughter named, Samantha who gives this story much of its depth. Told over thirteen chapters, it also includes black and white photos that depict the various places splake shares with us on this journey. This blending of prose and photo gives the story a memoir kind of intimacy. And while splake calls his book a work of fiction, it is hard to believe there is much distance between what is on the page and his life. Splake reflects on the end of his life, while celebrating love with Elizabeth, and becoming an endearing, wise and thoughtful friend to Samantha. As with all really good stories, I was left at the end wondering, “How did it all work out? Did they stay together?” I wanted more, but realized that fifty-six pages of prose may be all the prose we will get from a writer whose inclinations and interests seem more connected to poetry than long fiction, but I wish this weren’t so. I wanted splake to move this story forward another two hundred pages and take me in and out of the deep waters of love in his very unique fashion.

 

 

d.a. levy & the mimeograph revolution
Edited by: Larry Smith & Ingrid Swanberg
Bottom Dog Press
P.O. Box 425
Huron, Ohio 44839
Price: $25 / 264 Pages

A few months ago I asked Chris Harter, Editor/Publisher of Bathtub Gin who were some the pioneers in the independent small press movement. He said without a doubt one of them had to be the late d.a. levy of Cleveland, Ohio – this was the first time I had ever heard of d.a. levy.

Levy was 26 years old when he shot himself. Well regarded small press editor, Len Fulton says that the mimeo graph revolution “is almost overwhelming in its reach and passion for its subject. It is sobering to think that one young person could accomplish so much in so short a time, while confronting torment from within – and genuine torments from without.” While I enjoyed reading levy’s poetry and seeing his visual art, what I found most compelling were the numerous interviews with him from this time period. They reminded me how ground breaking the free speech movement of the 1960’s was, and what a wonderful, diverse and passionate group of poets were at the forefront of this effort.

In Karl Young’s essay on levy he says, “levy invented more literary forms then any other young poet working in the U.S. in the 1960’s.” Levy who only graduated from high school devoured books and build an international network of writing friends. He was consumed by language and words. When he was arrested on obscenity charges in 1967 Allen Ginsberg and the infamous Fugs (Ed Sanders rock group) came to Cleveland for benefit concert. He never left Cleveland or, rather never gave up on Cleveland. As Ed Sanders says, “Cleveland was levy’s decision. I think it was an act of Cleveland patriotism. ….he wasn’t going to let anyone drive him out.”

Contributors to this book include: Ed Sanders, T.L. Kryss, Karl Young, Allen Frost, Larry Smith, Russell Salamon, John Jacob, Doug Manson, and Michael Basinski. The book includes a 2006 DVD of Kon Petrochuk’s film documentary titled, if i scratch, if i write. It also includes a chronology of his life and work, biographical essays, photographs, interviews, profiles, statements, letters, art work, collage, poems, critical appreciations of his writing and art, “Cleveland Prints” in full color. This is as comprehensive and riveting a book about an artist, passion, and persecution as I have ever read. It’s all meat, no bullshit. I found it confounding and amazing that such a young, untrained writer could grow himself in to such a remarkable talent in so short a time.

I asked Larry Smith of Bottom Dog Press why he published this book and he told me, “I know that I and Ingrid Swanberg, as co-editors, have long had a sympathy for the outrider or outsider artist and writers. My books on rebel-poet Kenneth Patchen and later Lawrence Ferlinghetti were my launching place into the world of publishing on alternative writing. Ingrid’s big dissertation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison links levy with world writers of vision and rebellion. We both carried a deep appreciation for d.a.levy as a person of small means who created a great deal of good through his devotion and hard work. That he was persecuted by the forces that be (were and are) in Cleveland is clearly documented in our book. But we wanted to go beyond making levy a martyr hero, and show the range of his vision and the achievement of his work. He is acclaimed internationally today as a visual artist, concrete poet, and main force of the 1960’s underground movement. To bring it home, his poems about his native place and times are just remarkable works deserving of our deepest attention because the repressive forces he confronted are still with us. Long live levy.”

The conclusion of Ed Sanders interview is beautiful tribute to this young genius, “On November 24, 1968, he shot himself in the forehead with his childhood .22 rifle sitting lotus. And once again pled nolo contendere. It’s always difficult to make sense of a poet’s brief florescence, Hart Crane…d.a. levy…the chaff of genius, blown up above harsh Cleveland. It may take centuries to sort him out. It often does with poets. The issues of economic justice and personal freedom which wore out the good bard levy have not yet been addressed in America. And we need a way that a shyer and yes even more timorous genius can flourish their proper span. And Darryl Allen Levy live not his span, but his poems….”The Bells of the Cherokee Ponies,” “Kibbutz in the Sky,” North American Book of the Dead, Cleveland undercovers, and a big series of concrete books that find their measure. [Raises fist in solidarity] Shine on, oh d.a. levy, rinsed in the American dream…”

If you love the independent small press, poetry, and the freedom of expression we all hold so dear, you must read this book.

 

 

FREAKY MUMBLER’S MANIFESTO
By: Christopher Robin
I Press On! Publications
Post Office Box 1611
Santa Cruz, CA 95061-1611
Price: $10
95 Pages/ 48 Poems

To one extent or another, poets draw their material from the worlds that surround them. These observations become our window to their soul. How wonderful it was for me to enter into Christopher Robin’s world through his second collection of poetry entitled, Freaky Mumbler’s Manifesto. True to form, Robin gives us a view from the street as he studies his circle of friends, poets, losers, and lovers. His stories are mesmerizing in their own right, but come to life due to his significant gift at creating memorable metaphors and word unions. As I read Freaky Mumbler’s Manifesto I found myself underlining his odd word couplings. Here are a few examples. From “Who We Kill”: “The service workers who spend their pay / in local bars / and their imaginations on satellite dishes”. Or in “Clown Fish”: “gender mutant / of the sensual circus / lilting ghost radio / in my nerves”. In “Caveman Days (for Jules)”: “My girl friend is full of art and sensation / my girl is soft but wiry to the touch / barks at civilization / scoffs at my little vanities / bleeds on my white things”. And again in “Butterfly”: “That summer in your lovin bus / in Big Basin / you introduced me to “speaking breathing / standing people” / I use to call them trees / and to the angels and fairies / all things that walk without words”. In this collection we see Robin maturing as a writer and poet. His signature bent-in-the-brain view of the world is still wonderfully evident, but now, more often than not, he elevates humor with revelation and pathos.

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