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Archive for September, 2011

Horseshit

By Tyrel Kessinger

Remember, just the other day
when we heard that song
the one with the Irish guys,
or whatever the hell they are,
and they proclaim: “I would
walk 500 miles” and then says
he’d walk 500 more just to
be the man who’d fall down
at some girl’s door? Horseshit
you said and we laughed so
hard we lost ourselves to tears.

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Bound

By Meredith Weiers

I won’t palm pills
from a cripple

today, or snap the graceless
praying mantis

like a green-bean.
Nevertheless,

I twist
a sturdy hand basket

for travel.

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Being Human

By Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal

I used to be a dog
when I was born.
I became human
when I was between
two and three years
old. I never had
a tail, but I always
had a good bark.
My ears would ring
when I heard sirens. I
lost my bloodhound
sense. I have to
work all the time
and wear a suit.
I liked being a dog.
Being human is
for the birds.

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best laid plans

By Michael Estabrook

Remember
how Eddie would talk about
becoming a simple internist
and I wanted
to be an important neurosurgeon
and Eddie became
an internist
and I became a salesman?

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The Gardener

By Viktorsha Uliyanova

News flash, a score board reading zero-zero.
A transplant of languages,
Our lost watering holes are buried here.
Do say, there is mud on your knees,
Wash, wash, wash it away,
The planted roots are circling like a throbbing toothache.
Like a nebula fading,
Like a train derailment,
A baptism, a test tube baby.
Like chewing on their mouths in the dark,
Like a lost bullfight,
Like stealing the Bible from a stale hotel room,
Like wishing for a Missouri flood,
The last curtain call.
Like the message on your answering machine,
A radioactivity warning,
Like heavy African limbs with moth-eaten plush,
Like running next to a shaman riding a bicycle,
Like drowning in your attic,
A wounded school boy,
Like Indian ceremonial dancers,
Stolen WWII medals,
Like Coney Island dying in the winter,
A ship sinking,
An orchestra tuning out,
Like we’re facing away from the earth.

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Stickman Dance

Dale Patterson

A line is a stickman thing,
post supporting roof,
boundary dividing,
missile to throw.

War and Peace is a flipping book,
home for stickman dance,
killing vagrant dogs,
beyond the edge to hide.

Xeroxed stickman march in legion,
6000 insane thoughts,
stapled to allegiance,
stuck in paper jam.

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Review By Shawn Misener

“Mohawk Sideburn Attachment Kit”

caterpillars
look great on you,
I said—
caterpillars
are the new butterfly

don’t be an idiot
she said—
as if she’d
already begun
to build her cocoon

“Is There Life on Mars?”

nothing has seen me this way in years,
the bartender said—
he tried on his brand new shirt-wig
it suits me, he said
he was right; it did

a hot pink influence waltzed
up and down my brainstem
it couldn’t be the newsboy;
I’d remember him,
I thought

what if what I thought was me
was never really me at all,
& the real me was currently
watching this me
from some planet far,

far away
oh my goodness,
I said—
I think I’m in love

Whether or not we want to admit it, there is a movement happening in the small press, and that movement has been fueled and underwritten by the phenomenon of online publishing. This movement is saturated with chapbooks by authors whose work can be easily accessed by a simple Google search. I typed in my own name and found over fifty different poems on just the first ten pages of results (alongside the other internet-famous Shawn Miseners, one who has his own show at BowhunterPlanet.com, the other a professional disc golfer). A search for David Tomaloff yields a similar harvest: Dozens of poems published at dozens of webzines.

I’ve been familiar with his work for a while now, but all of my previous readings didn’t quell my enthusiasm after storming through the seventeen short poems included in his new chapbook A Soft That Touches Down & Removes Itself (NAP Magazine & Books, 2011). These poems are special, and they seem to be a significant shift from Tomaloff’s excessively abstract and dense work of the past. These poems are more accessible, with an easy flow and a soft touch that is both unexpected and incredibly compassionate.

What’s most impressive is that Tomaloff seems to have written these poems as a series, yet they never fall into repetition and bored sentimentality, despite their focus on a dialogue between himself and a mysterious woman. Each poem is short (between three and six stanzas) and is presented as a “he said/ she said’ type of banter. This formula never gets old, and in fact by the end I was hoping for more. Tomaloff’s choice of words and thoughtful economy of lines is amazingly effective and appealing.

These poems are far from an homage to romantic cheese. They are brief excursions into moments of time between two people whose world is marked by enigmatic surrealism. There is magic in nearly every stanza. These are my personal favorite types of poems, real humans acting in fairly real ways, cushioned by a universe full of magic and subconscious imagery. They read like the author rolled out of bed and typed his dreams onto the page while they were still fresh on his electric brain.

If the two poems above this review are appealing to you, I highly recommend this book. It’s the most solid and cohesive chap I’ve read in the past couple of years, full of strange beauty and effective word choice. Highly recommended.

CLUTCHING AT STRAWS ILLUMINATED PROBOSCIS RATING: 8.5 straws out of 10

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