COLUMN SIXTY-SEVEN, JANUARY 1, 2002
(Copyright © 2002 Al Aronowitz)
[Seriously injured in a freak auto accident near his home many weeks ago, LUCID MOON editor Ralph Haselmann Jr., who reviews poetry for THE BLACKLISTED JOURNALIST, has at last recovered enough to be taken off a ventilator and moved out of the Intensive Care Unit to a bed in another ward at Morristown Memorial Hospital in Morristown. N.J. He will remain in the hospital until he is well enough to undergo rehabilitation at another facility.]
The Corpse Is Dreaming, poetry chapbook by Todd Moore, 2000, 48 pages, $6 ppd to Lummox Press, POB 5301, San Pedro CA 90733. This is the last chapter of a larger work called Dillinger, about outlaw gunslinger John Dillinger's last moments on earth. The title is apt, The Corpse Is Dreaming, for here Dillinger has been shot and is fastly fading as he reminisces about his life before the bullet hit and drew blood. We learn that Dillinger was molested by his father, as he relives that nightmare. The poetry is plainspoken and the effect is as if he is hallucinating. The last few words of this chap reads: "…I come out of my body a little just a little for a quick peek I'm just standing there while a bunch of cops are lifting me up on a stretcher into the back of something that something is a police van & I stand there watching like maybe it's a movie I paid for & have a right to see & I don't know why I remembered but suddenly I run back to the alley to get dillinger's face it had rolled behind a telephone poll & was next to some dog crap & then I run back just before the van takes off climb in & stick the face back on & I didn't have any feelings when I did that & I didn't want to know what any feelings were I didn't have any memory either or pictures or sounds or taste or touch or visions or hopes or names or dreams." These poems are haunting, visceral and real. A fine effort.
Daughter Of a Rogue, poetry chapbook by Stephanie Lynn Hilpert., with a cover illustration by Mike Jones. 2001, 30 pages, $5 check made out to Green Bean Press, PO Box 237, NYC 10013. This is a beautifully evocative, heartfelt chapbook about Stephanie's struggle to find her homeless mentally ill dad. She shot some footage of him that aired on MTV Unfiltered in 1999. The chapbook is one long poem written out one word per line on a 33 line column like Jesus' cross. The words are graceful, dignified, poetic, stark, haunting and beautiful. The cumulative effect is devastating. The last few pages reads: "If I pray hard enough will you come out of your cave and howl at the moon I will catch your call like a shooting star it shoots through this young spirit like an arrow wolf man I am your moon I am wolf girl mentally ill homeless people roam like wild buffalo and I am your moon Dad I am wolf girl I'd like my pain to be a feather floating in the wind unattached from bird I'd like my soul to be a four-legged beast courageously roaming the world loneliness is worse than a wolf's teeth tearing at the flesh of its prey so violently cruel yet as calm as vague stars in the distant dark it is here I see you in every mentally ill drug addicted homeless man who crosses my path but most of all I see you in every father walking and holding his little girl's hand the way you once held mine it is here without faith wolves enter my mind like wilderness feed on thoughts like prey and they drink from my spirit as if she were a water hole but my God I want to know you will you taste me am I pure enough if I remind you of mangos will you taste me again could I be as pure as a mango seems sweet and fleshy against your tongue too." There's something provocative, almost incestuous about that last line of wanting her father to taster her tongue. Rather, she is expressing her wanting him to feel her pain. I was very moved by this powerful chapbook. A breeze to read, but it stays in the mind long after.
Fearless, poetry zine edited by Kevin M. Hibshman. May 2001. Kevin has a new bigger apartment with a new address, a new boyfriend, and a renewed outlook on life! The new address is Fearless, #334 1/2 N. Queen Street, Apt. 1, Lancaster, PA 17603. Sase required for return of work. Fearless is a fine zine chockful of great artwork by Barb Yordy and great poetry by such regulars in the small press as Karl Koweski, B. Z. Niditch, Crayton Moody, Kelley Jean White, William Taylor Jr. , Kevin M. Hibshman, myself and Michael Kriesel. The only complaint is that the layout is jumbled, scattered all over the place as if someone threw up the words and let them splatter on the page. A little hard to read, but then that is Fearless' charm, because this is the only zine I have ever seen that looks this way. Again, the words rock! Check it out, support the small press, I think it's free for a couple of stamps.
For The Birds, short stories by Joseph Farley. 2000, 78 pages, $10 check made out to Cynic Press, PO Box 40691, Philadelphia, PA 19107. This is a funny, constantly amusing collection of short stories that delights in surprising the reader with offbeat twists and turns of narrative. One story involves a close sister and brother who helping a biker involved in an accident. One wonders about the siblings' mysterious relationship. Another story is a parody of Moses and his followers who have had bad luck trying to find the land of milk and honey and decide to try to find the land of beer and pretzels. Another story is of a trans-species man, half bird and half man, who is getting hormone treatments and wants to fly. This is wacky stuff. For the birds? For the cuckoos indeed! This chap has a lot of depth and is constantly amusing. Highly recommended.
The Little Red Book Of Maxims, poetic sayings and quotes by B. Z. Niditch. Little Red Book #32, $6 ppd to Lummox Press, POB 5301, San Pedro, CA 90733. 2001, 28 pages. This is a delightful collection of wisdom from B. Z. Niditch, full of 150+ maxims on art, sex, politics, writing and such, such as "The Artist grows up a s a child" and "A writer is someone who adheres to nothing, but hears everything." These maxims help us see life in a new light.. The text throughout is a little hard to read, though, looks like the text used on Led Zeppelin's Houses Of The Holy album cover! A fine engaging read.
The Lummox Journal ("Examining The Creative Process"), June 2001 Newsletter with reviews, interviews, letters, poetry reading dates, and the occasional poem. $2 single issue or $20 year subscription check to Lummox Press, POB 5301, San Pedro, CA 90733. This is an always fascinating monthly journal about the creative process. This month features an interview with Southern California poet Holly Prado, who holds writing workshops there, and an angry hilarious letter from Norman J. Olson mocking Raindog's failed idea to charge $5 reading fee for poems sent to Lummox Journal. This issue is priceless for that exchange alone! Also reviews by Tim Scannell, Rene Diedrich and Mark Terrill. This journal is inexpensive and always informative, you'll become addicted to it as I and many others have!
Nomads Of Oblivion, chapbook by Scott Wannberg. Little Red Book #25, 2000, 44 pages, $6 ppd to Lummox Press, POB 5301, San Pedro, CA 90733. These poems are wild, wacky and witty in their unusual metaphors and sheer craziness imagery. Slam Dancers From Hell reads: "Your father sleeps with his loaded rifle your father is a romantic man your mother likes the way I stand close to her at the kitchen sink your mother never photographs well last night we slam danced on some soft spoken floor last night we hung each other out your father talks to constellations when sober your mother used to navigate tortured sounds my parents aren't any less dramatic my father sold defective guns to God my mother invented the Migraine she was always interested in creating." Always adventurous, Wannberg has something to say and he says it in a memorable way. A delightful read.
Penguins And Other Matters Of Black And White, poetry chapbook by jacob (fog) erin. 2001, 28 pages, $11 ppd check made out to Jacob Erin, 214 Warren Rd -- Lot 10, Carbondale, IL 62901. I love the cover photo of a scowling nun gripping a ruler about to smack your knuckles! Many of the other poems in this collection have titles as unwieldy as the title of this chap, but don't let that fool you, because the poems are good and graceful as ever and fog touches you with his humour and wacky sensibilities. Imagined Dessert reads: "We lie in absolute uncomfortableness the scratched out goodbye note a vision under cover as we hide our misgivings neath sheets like heavy pajamas guarding our most private thoughts. The encounter left on the kitchen table ink running from the tears of an onion eyed writer who couldn't find the recipe to cook love into the casserole, burning, sizzling, spilling from the dish under the comforter, still hot for each other, but left with only a salad fork, and that course ended years ago." Wistful, sad, funny and poetic all at the same time, this is a fine effort by fog.
Rattapallax, bi-annual poetry magazine in perfect bound book form with 60 minute poetry cd included in each issue. May 2001, $7.95 or $14 for two issue subscription check to Rattapallax Press, 532 La Guardia Place, Suite 353, NY NY 10012. The e -mail address is email@example.com ; website http://www.rattapallax.com . This is a superb collection of flowery heartfelt poetry that ranks with Los Angeles' OnTheBus and Hoboken's Long Shot as a fine book size magazine. WIth artwork and a spoken word poetry cd in each issue, a pioneering concept, this is a bargain at $7.95 an issue. Rachel Kubie's A Brief Note To Garcia Lorca reads: "I will give up my voice and cast myself into the fields a small lizard and look for you with each eye and fill all my hunger on the chirp and ticking in tall grass and lick rainwater off broad leaves in the South and change colour when I sleep." A fine magazine, do check it out.
River Architechture (poems from here & there), poetry chapbook by Louis McKee. 1999, 70 pages, $12 check made out to Cynic Press, PO Box 40691, Philadelphia, PA 19107. This collection of poems is beautifully evocative of a time and place, specifically Philadelphia and Easton, Pennsylvania and the Easton River. The poems are heartfelt, touching and rich in metaphor and good vibes. Resolved reads: "I'd always heard it said that nothing would rhyme with oranges. I never thought it mattered much since nothing tasted like them either. Marie took half and squeezed it until juices ran down her fingers and hand, and she rubbed it while she laughed over her breasts, on her stomach and thighs, what could I do but watch, let my tongue catch what nectar clung like a fat sticky tear to the corner of my mouth, pulp that stung my roughened lips? She was beautiful. All day and night we talked nonsense, argued, laughed and cried, but no matter what we said, our words tasted of oranges: it was impossible to go on for too long without kissing. We didn't…" Pungent imagery you can almost taste. McKee writes from a place deep within the heart and soul; his poetry soars. A fine read.
Shoes In A Magazine, poetry chapbook by Radomir Luza, Jr., with cool illustrations by Chuck Johnson. 2000, 28 pages, $5 check made out to Radomir Luza, Jr., 36 Liberty Ave., Apt. #2, Jersey City NJ 07306. This is an intriguing chapbook of vital poetry that offers twists and turns away from the ordinary. Love reads: "Two bodies next to each other, one lies on top of the other on the sofa, wind whips through the window, he caresses her hair as she kisses his neck, it started five months ago, they met at the mall, she saw him get on an elevator, she took the stairs and when he got off on the sixth floor, she was there, dinner followed lunch, and then came a movie, the second night she saw his bedroom, the third night it saw the lights go out, there was no sex, the two held each other and talked, she talked about what she wanted from him, and he talked about what he had gotten from her, he has made her less anxious, he is open and gives her sensitivity, a dog in underwear, she has made him less obnoxious, he sees her as a saint, tobacco spit in the Indian Ocean, on the wings of Pegasus their hands glued together, their arms hula hoops, their lips snakes, hair like revolvers, they went everywhere together, teeth like rats, cliffs they have hurdled." I like the way it ends, with a barrage of bizarre metaphors and imagery, from "a dog in underwear" to "hair like revolvers". Many of these poems start out unassumingly and also end in strange imagery. Radomir writes beautifully and offers an escape from the mundane reality of life and the problems life hurls at you. Check this out for some offbeat imagery and cool illustrations.
Thirteen Ways Of Looking At Godzilla, poetry chapbook by Michael Hafer. 1999, 20 pages, $6 check made out to Cynic Press, PO Box 40691, Philadelphia, PA 19107. This chapbook is unusual, full of quirky poems like the 13 meditations on Godzilla, or the poem based on Lennon and McCartney's lyrics, or darker poems like Rats: "Beady eyes stare at me from underneath the steps, beggar eyes, thief eyes. Somehow I have failed. Nature crept into my house. I have sinned a great sin. Stop the holes. Buy the traps. Hire the man with poison gas. Curse the heavens. Sweep the floor. Don't dare to remind me that you may be an ancestor, or a link in the chain of evolution, or the face of a loved one, soul trapped in tribulation, punishment for past greed. I will screw my face into a shroud of death , and float ghost-like through the house, waiting for doom to come, waiting to celebrate small victories over smaller things." A mixed bag, fun to read, full of unusual ideas.
Wolf Poems, poetry chapbook by Joseph Farley, 2000, 20 pages, $5 check made out to Cynic Press, PO Box 40691, Philadelphia, PA 19107. Ancient Chinese sayings say that a woman is a tiger in her thirties and a wolf in her forites. These then are love poems to a wolf girl, Farley's Chinese wife. The poems are sweet, luscious and beautiful, dripping with a love for nature and the Good Earth. Envy Of The World reads: "You had black hair and a red dress with a black sash and you were the envy of the world and I smiled warm inside each time I saw the looks of others and knew you were mine. In tears and darkness where we lay the past seems dead and long ago, but so seems the barren earth before sun and rain do their magic. Let me rain on you and you rain on me. Let our bodies warm the soil. Plant a seed. Watch it grow." Delicate like a flower, these poems sing with beautiful imagery. A superb chap.
Yellow Flower Girl, poetry chapbook by Xu Juan. 1997, 8 pages, $2 check made out to Cynic Press, PO Box 40691, Philadelphia PA 19107. These poems are as delicate and as gentle as a yellow flower (yellow flower girl is Chinese for virgin). Going Abroad reads: "You've gone to a place far away, a strange country on the other side of the earth, where hairy people live. But why? Your sun glasses reflect the sun on the beach and the full-lipped smiles of girls with big breasts in bikinis. Then why do you still dream of the warmth of dry hay in the lazy sun, the scent of wild chrysanthemum, the juicy chewy sugar cane far away at home? And why do you still remember the deep clear pool in the green mountains, a white figure swimming like a fish, distorting the peaceful shadows of a grove of bamboo?" This collection is a little short, but the poems are beautiful and almost haiku like in their simplicity and respect for nature. A fine effort.
You Write Your Life Like Fiction, poetry chapbook by Gordon Annand. 2001, 46 pages, $3 check made out to Christopher Harter, Pathwise Press, PO Box 2392, Bloomington, IN 47402. Annand writes about dead end towns and parts of the countryside where time has not worn well. Deader Lands reads: "The mountains around Boone held still one day, long enough to see them clearly during a warm winded winter without pleasant green budding on the branches spreading as a disease divides 1 2 4 8 16 without shaking shade that plush leaves hold over the summer houses and winter retreats without red orange patchwork quilts whipping in the Tennessee Bastard Wind without ice storms packing weight on the pines drawing the crowds down over the faces of old men This land deader than during any winter storm the bare brown of tree trunks the bristle hair of a corpse that had been run down by square-headed hounds and bright-hatted men these mountains collapsed one day, without the slightest puff of dust being lifted into the weird warm wind and I watched as the soil withered down to the barest brown bones." Haunting imagery and a love for nature make this a fine read. Spare, beautiful poems throughout.
Please send poetry books, chapbooks, cds, broadsides or whatever for review to Ralph Haselmann Jr. at 67 Norma Road, Hampton, New Jersey 08827. Include price plus postage, who to make check out to, and address to order from. I will review them within 2 weeks and send you a copy of the review. Publishers have my permission in advance to reprint any part of my reviews as long as they send me a copy of what it appears in. The reviews go out to several small press discussion lists, including David McNamara's poetry )ism( list, Doug Holder's list, Kelly DeSaint's list, and J.J. Campbell's list, after which they will be archived on my Lucid Moon Poetry Website. My reviews are also picked up by 6 websites, including Al Aronowitz' The Blacklisted Journalist website ( http://www.bigmagic.com/pages/blackj ), Joe Grant's BookZen website (http://www.bookzen.com/ ), Andre Cordrescue's Exquisite Corpse, (http://www.exquisitecorpse.org), Carlye Archibeque's The Independent Review Site (http://www.irs.theroadlesstraveled.org), Brian Morrisey's Poesy magazine and website (http://www.geocities.com/bmorrise2/) Don Hoyt's Web Writer's Workshop http://www.webwritersworkshop.com). My telephone number is (908) 735-4447, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and my Lucid Moon Poetry Website is http://www.lucidmoonpoetry.com. Please visit my website often and sign my guestbook!
Ralph Haselmann Jr. ##
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