Sunday, April 24, 2011

Another Five Word Challenge

Another one, using the required words: windowpane, destination, seeker, circle, reading.  I've been writing these on the train during my morning commute.

Who knows the intended destination
of the housefly born
or reborn
in the warming northwoods cabin,
pinballing against the windowpane, above
a circle of dry predecessors, a fly
on the floorboards.
Is it reading the frost
still melting on the glass? Poor
of neverwhen, June day,

Five Word Challenges

Somehow on this here internet-thingy I came across a blog devoted to a bowl of random words. You are given five words, they come from slips of paper placed inside a quite pleasant ceramic bowl and pulled forth at random.  The challenge is to then write a poem using all five words.  (In the same order as they've been pulled from the bowl?--not clear on this part.) I like this more than many other write-a-poem prompts lurking here and there these days.

The words in this case: hide, forgive, grasshopper, slip, smoke.

Forgive me,
I told the grasshopper,
who had been an old man,
but I feel I must hide here
with you in the grass, as I
have been an old man,
once upon a time, my strong teeth
and stained with smoke.

If, as I believe, the end times
are near, let's slip
quietly into the hemlock forest.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Call for Submissions from Right Hand Pointing

The fine folks at Right Hand Pointing have sent out a call for a special issue.  They publish much shorter poems than I generally write, but I have taken it as a challenge in the past, and appeared in the magazine's illustrious pages.  Give them a try; here's the call:

Call for Submissions, Issue 42 of Right Hand Pointing,(October 2011)

For this themed issue, we are looking for poems and very short fiction meeting the requirements of our regular issues, plus the addition requirement that each piece has as its title the name of one of the United States of America.    “Alabama,”    “Indiana,” “New York,” or any of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, maybe even American Territories.  The title must be the names of one of these places, with no additional words in the title.    We won't expect to end up with a poem for every state. We also aren't opposed to having more than one poem representing the same state. If we have enough state-titled poems for a full issue, that's what we'll do.  If not, this will be a special section of the issue.

That's it.  As always, our guidelines are at

Quick reminder about length guidelines: Poems:    No more than 20 lines, prefer 16 lines and under.  No more than 100 words, 75 words or fewer preferable.  Fiction:  <500 words.

Deadline:  September 1, 2011

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"One Collaborates With the World"

I have been thinking a lot about collaboration, because my friend Richard Fox is working with another poet on poems right now.  And because I have been asked to work with a songwriter and make one or more of my poems into songs. (With music and everything.) And because of my "Abandon a Poem/Adopt a Poem Project."  And because of loneliness, and who wants to be a solitary singer, and is it still a barbaric yawp in the woods if no one hears it.  I just read this on John Gallaher's blog:

"Poems, in reality, come from everywhere the poet can find them: memory, environment, gum wrappers. It’s all reaching out into the context to add something new. The poet just tunes in to whatever works. It’s been my general feeling all my writing life that all writing is collaborative. One collaborates with the world. Working on this book has made it literal. It’s given the world an email address, so to speak."

The book he's speaking about is his collaboration with  G.C. Waldrep, Your Father on the Train of Ghosts.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Finally Back to Blogging

Yikes.  This virus thang has been a pain and a half.  And the darn laptop is still running all creaky and hesitantly, as if it were afraid of falling and breaking a hip. But at least I have a working computer again.

While I had the enforced blog (and indeed, internet entire vacation) I read a book I had been wanting to get my hands on for years, The Salt Ecstasies, by James L. White.  I'd read many essays and articles referencing White's only volume of poetry, but had never been able to get my hands on a copy.  This year, however, Graywolf Press re-issued the book, with a fascinating introduction by Mark Doty, and some extra material not found in the original printing, including two poems Doty discovered in White's papers at L.A.'s One Archive, a collection of papers of gay and lesbian artists.

White's book is a gospel of loneliness, and desire.  It feels very contemporary, though published originally in the early 1980s. That he published only this slim volume in his lifetime is sad; that it is again widely available is a gift.

"When you return to something you love,
It's already broken beyond repair.
You wear it broken."

 --the last stanza of "Lying in Sadness."

In other news, I am reading with several other poets this Friday, April 8 at 7 PM at The Center on Halsted as part of National Poetry Month celebrations. The full details here.