Out of the Cupboard #2

Presenting: Doug Holder

Sig Klein Fat Man’s Shop

The sign
a flashing
fat man
clad only
in expansive
loomed outside
a rooming house window
like a shut-in’s
desperate move
of self-exposure.
Comforting us
with the notion
that there is indeed
“A fit for any-sized man”
just look
what’s underneath.


* Based on a conversation I had with a veteran poet in a local bar.

So often
She entered his room
After berating his father—
A man sacked
In a beaten chair
Living in a defeated
Rumpled shirt.

And once again
She presents herself
With a black negligee
At the cusp of his bedroom door,
Like a seductive
Maternal whore.

And he argued with himself…
Trying not to believe
In that horrific vision
At his door

But still…
He needed–
He wanted her,
More and



Training her pet

She kept a tight
Leash on him.
Pulling Harder
When he strayed.

They walked through
The park
With the same, clipped
Brisk gait,
Their eyes squarely
On the well-worn path.

Coming home
To the tasteful,
Well-appointed living room—

And he knew his place,
Scurrying to his usual corner.

She knew then
That they would be
Ready to marry



Private dining under a blouse
*For my nephew Josh.

In the middle of our conversation
And the din
Of the large dining room
She lifted her blouse
Her baby blindly
Grabbing her nipple
With his mouth,
The blouse covered him
Like a shroud
For private dining.

I saw
The infant emerge
Held in an untroubled

I sucked on my straw
Flattening the plastic stem
Still awake
And troubled.



Just Before

Just before the fifth Gin and Tonic
and lime,
when fragments are put in a narrative line
when the tremor in my hand
is still for a short time
when all these stumblebums
are friends of mine
wouldn’t that fifth drink
be a bloody crime?



Rat’s Carcass

A deep blue sky
a sun bright
with it’s twelve o’clock high,
summer with its largess
why must it be spoiled
by that dead rat’s carcass?

Why, when the long legs of ladies
pass in a tanned revue
does that rat’s carcass
come into view?

With my flesh so supple
my robust health not subtle
why must I see the rat’s carcass
what seems to be the trouble?



Questions and Answers

Q) Your latest book ‘The Man In The Booth In The Midtown Tunnel’ is due to be released soon via Cervena Barva Press. Tell us about the inspiration behind it?
DH) For years that image of the man in a small plastic booth in the fume-filled Midtown Tunnel that connects Queens to Manhattan in NYC haunted me. As a kid travelling into the city from the sheltered, well-manicured lawns of Long Island to the enigmatic, cosmopolitan world of Manhattan, I couldn’t help but wonder about that blue- uniformed lone figure pacing the perimeter of his plastic cage. I think he represented to some extent my fear of the world outside the comforts of my family, and the staid, small town I lived in, Rockville Centre. I have always admired writers like the New Yorker’s Joseph Mitchell, who wrote about the outsiders, the denizens of the old Bowery, the ner-do-wells, the poseurs, the dandies, and the stumblebums, who make the city a both fascinating and frightening place. I always wondered as a kid if I would wind up in the middle of a metaphorical tunnel, a man in a cage, looking for the light. And I guess to some extent we all do in one-way or the other, whether we like it or not. So I thought this image would be a perfect focal point for my poetry collection, a sort of “Spoon River Anthology” that would consists of character studies of the many men and women I have met, watched and imagined in my time across this stage. I include myself in this collection, because I have always identified with that man and I see his ghost wherever I roam.

Q) You appear to be involved heavily in the small press writing community both as a writer and a publisher. Why did you decide to create Ibbetson Street Press?
DH)In the Boston/Cambridge area where I live you have over 100 colleges in the immediate vicinity like: Harvard, Tufts, MIT, Brandeis, etc… So if you are outside the “academy” your publication chances are limited. There is a huge pool of talented writers around here and I wanted to tap into the mother lode…and we did…we have published over 50 books and chaps and over 20 issues of our print journal “Ibbetson Street”.

Q) I noticed you went to Harvard, is it essential for a writer to have an academic background?
DH)I went to Harvard at night, while working full/time at McLean Hospital , a mental hospital on the outskirts of Cambridge. ( McLean is noted for its famous poet resdients Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton) I ran poetry groups for psych. patients there, and I wanted to get an advanced degree, to give me a broader background, and to fine tune my work. I was published before Harvard–the education was great…and I think that the Harvard name has helped me. But I was in my 40’s when I graduated, so I was defintely outside that old boy Harvard culture. By-the-way I still work at McLean. I had a chap out from the Alpha Beat Press that dealt with my years on the inpatient ward” Poems of Boston and Just Beyond: From The Back Bay to the Back Ward.” You don’t need this kind of education to write and write well–hey–it helps though.

Q) Your poetry makes clever observations. Are you the guy in the corner of the café scribbling furiously on his notepad?
DH)Yeah. I have my corner at the Sherman Cafe in Union Square Somerville where I do a lot of my writing. I have an oatmeal scone, small orange juice, coffee almost every morning, and all the help knows me. I interview folks there, I compose poems, I am a fixture I suppose like a gone-to-seed couch.

Q) When did you first begin to write and what caused you to pick up a pen?
DH)I always wrote. But I didn’t begin to publish till I was in my mid 30’s. I think a Canadian magazine Sub-Terrain published me for the first time . The poem was “Public Restrooms.” I have journals going back over twenty years, where I have recorded observation, as well as the banal everyday going-ons in my life. Much of this stuff I use in my work.

Q) You visited Israel in 2007, are you a keen traveller?
DH)Hell no. That was the first time for me. They said as a Jew I would kiss the ground at Ben Gurion airport. I kissed the ground when I got off at Logan in Boston. It was a great trip though…but I am rather provincial.

Q) What advice do you have for younger poets who are yet to cast their words out into the blue?
DH)Read, Read, Read. Take creative writing courses, write, write, write–go to readings–meet other poets, immerse yourself in the milieu wherever you may be.

Q) Finally, what have you got planned for the rest of the year?
DH)Well I am publishing several new titles for local poets like: CD Collins, Mike Amado, Elizabeth Quinlan. I am going to be participating on a small press panel with Gloria Mindock ( Cervena Barva Press) and Mark Pawlak ( Hanging Loose Press), at the Cape Cod Writers Center, and I am putting out the 23rd issue of our magazine “Ibbetson Street” ( we started in 1998).

Where to go next

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