Tag Archives: poetry

AZIMUTH a poem

Nihility, lack of ability, post truth fragility
Thanatophility, intractability, lies and puerility
I won’t be protesting Bilderberg this year
I’m staying home for the season finale and a beer

My old conspiracies gave way way to social media
Men in black have been replaced by deep fake ophidia
I watch steam rising from boiling old avenues
Giving rise to clouds about the azimuth

I search for a torch to drive away this fog
For a light, a lost pyramid or its analog
Maybe there’s a banner of stars temporarily obscured
We could find out there, I can’t be sure

So I ignore the haze and recall the old magic spell
Hand over heart turning my back to this hell
I say the words king and queen forbade
And invoke the oath our ancestors made

Fidem meam obligo vexillo Civitatum Foederatarum Americae et Rei Publicae, cuius vicem gerit, uni nationi, sub Deo, individuae, praebenti libertatem iustitiamque omnibus.


“Hey Mitch, what’s this all about?” I want to collaborate with Blue Öyster Cult and I’m hoping the Öyster Boys will think this would make a good lyric. Read more here.

Pinking Shears and Fishers of Men

Pop passed away back in 2008 and Mom followed him in 2016.  But the home in which I was raised — the home my parents bought for nine thousand dollars in 1962, back when nine thousand dollars was a lot of money — is still in the family.

Although the house has been rented out for almost ten years now,  Mom and Pop have yet to be driven out.   They are in that house, in every crack, nook and cranny.  A house that old, inhabited for so long by a family, cannot be emptied of its essence in a mere decade.

Their belongings still come to the surface in that house, emerging like clay tablets from the sands of Mesopotamia.  Things are drawn out from the backs of closets.  They shake free, fall out, bubble up.  Slivers of paper, notes, ballpoint pens.  Old keys.

The other night I was over there getting ready for the next tenant and I found a tiny box in the attic.  It contained a letter and a Bible.  The letter is dated November 19, 1957 and was sent from my grandmother to my father to wish him a happy birthday while he was in basic training at Fort Gordon, GA.  The Bible is The Testament for Fishers of Men. and the inscription says it was given to him my Aunt Jane in 1954.

Tucked inside the Bible was a newspaper clipping my mother gave him.  How do I know Mom gave it to him?  Because it was cut out with pinking shears, and because it’s a love poem.  My mother was many things.  First, she was the woman who loved my father most.  Second, she was an accomplished seamstress who definitely owned a pair of pinking shears.  I know this because I still have her shears stowed away in an old sewing box.

Here’s the poem, a love message from Mom to Pop from long ago.

This Much I Promise

This much I promise you my sweet
By all the stars above
There is no other soul on earth
To whom I give my love
I cannot promise I will be
The picture of perfection
Or that you will not know a day
Of sorrow or dejection
I cannot sear that you will use
A gold or silver spoon
I cannot pledge a kingdom or
The surface of the moon
For I am only human as
A being God created
And I can only undertake
The things He contemplated
But I can promise  you this much
Whatever else I do
I love you, and as long as life
I will be true to you.

Tons of Zine Reviews!

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Some of the ‘zines I picked up at DC Zinefest

Now that I’ve had a chance to sit down and actually read the zines I picked up at DC Zinefest last weekend, here are some quick reviews (clockwise from upper left in the photo).

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 Mt. Olyphant is a graphic novel in eight parts — only the first installment is available just yet — written by Zack Ziemba and illustrated by Christine Skelly.  This is the tale of Paul Tomarchio, a mythology scholar who wakes up in a mental hospital  only to find that the doctors, patients and staff are all figures from Greek mythology.  Is Paul frightfully insane, or is he seeing the machinery behind the curtain of reality?  The production value is perfect and professional, the writing is skilled and original, and the artwork is inspired.  I was blown away!  If the quality holds up until the end, this thing could and should win awards.  Buy yourself a copy here.  You won’t be disappointed!  (A+)

Felis Leon is a short story written and illustrated by Christine Skelly.  My only criticism is that the language is overblown in a few places, just a little too over the top.  But this is offset by great art and superb allegory.  Whether or not Skelly was aware of the alchemical symbolism she was using I can’t say.  But the colors of the internal illustrations — red, magenta, purple — are analogous to the rubedo phase of alchemy sometimes called “the purpling,” the final stage of transformation toward achievement of the Great Work.  And the protagonists?  The peacock and the lion?  Deeply symbolic and compelling.  Joseph Campbell could give a talk on this little gem.  Download available here.  Highly recommended.  (A)

Next we have two pieces from the G. E. Gallas collection.  The first is The Poet and the Flea which, like Mt. Olyphant, is a graphic novel being released in installments.  How in the world could you not love a graphic novelization of the life of William Blake?  Holy Urizen!  I’m no Blake scholar, but I’ve got my feet wet on the subject of England’s mad poet, and Gallas is doing a banging job.  And the courage to tackle Blake!  Are you serious?  One of the most studied poets in history?   This thing is fascinating, and she clearly loves her subject. “A tree filled with angels, their light blinding, their wings bespangling every bough like stars.”  Go and get some.  (A+).

The second piece from G. E. Gallas is The First Reich.  This teaser for a graphic novel in development is written by Shannon Brady and illustrated by Gallas.  It tackles the subject of the whacko genius Wilhelm Reich.  For those of you who are unacquainted with Reich, he was a highly educated and respected psychoanalyst who also believed in a cosmic energy known as “orgone.”  Because Reich’s writings are the only ones ever ordered to be destroyed by a U.S. court, he is a darling of the occult and conspiracy theory crowd (and how do I know this?  Back when I joined the Richmond League of Occult Research and Education they had just finished building an Orgone Cloud Buster based on Reich’s plans).  I love the subject, and both writing and artwork are solid.  Recommended (A).

FPOON skate ‘zine.  This is a skate ‘zine, which means that it is, well, a skate ‘zine.  Fragmented.  All over the place.  Funny as hell.  But what makes this one different is the high production value, the color pages, the brains, and the political savvy.  Blending fact and fiction, the serious and silly, this one was much more than I thought it would be.  Check these guys out on Tumblr.  I was impressed.  (B+)

Queer Witch #1. This is a ‘zine in the classic mold — intentionally low production value and purposely offensive — which basically means I have to give it a thumbs up.   I get the impression that issue #1 is a manifesto issue and that subsequent ones will have more actual witchcraft content.  Explicit artwork, swear-filled, transgressive, and refreshing.  It’s a little bit screamy, but if you want to shake up your perspective, buy it.   Unfortunately there is nothing in/on this ‘zine to indicate where you can get a copy.  Maybe you could tweet Kaitlin “Boomboom” Froom and find out?  (B)

One of the biggest surprises this year was the stuff I got from Kelly Chick.  I liked everything I picked up — a vertical folded booklet called Stop Having Boyfriends (“we made too much eye contact for it to ever be platonic/i always get out of the car just a little too fast”), and two quarter-sheet booklets called dear kelly…love kelly and Contextual Awareness (“you just want someone to rub your head until you fall asleep”).  She tabled next to me and she was charming.  She gave away a whole backpack full of free stuff.  People like her reinforce my belief that life is completely not pointless.  No website listed.  Maybe if you email her she’ll send you stuff.

Abraxas by Marta Lapczynski (Fat Heart Press 2013, perfect-bound, 50 pages).  The most expensive item I bought this year, and worth the $8.00 price tag.  This is classic NY stream prose poesy — grimy, gutsy, Ginsbergian, nerve-jangling shit.  Non-traditional construction sometimes hides her message rather than reveals it, and at times I wished she just wrote her story ‘straight.’  Still, Lapczynski should be very proud of what she’s done in this stunning little tome: “We’ve always been on the brink of losing our jobs.  We were born walking the line, took our first holy breaths already mid-collapse.”  She’s “swimming depths and waiting deep.” Fat Heart Press is now Elation Press.  Get yours here. (A+)

Quiet Desperation: A Zine about Heist Movies needs a better cover.  How can you put a 7th grade piece of art (no offense?) on the front of a doctoral thesis on the subject of heist movies?  Luke Stacks has produced a 28-page half-fold booklet full of real deal film criticism that’s comprehensive, educated, and professional.  At the end he promises to go even deeper in subsequent issues?  How?  This ain’t a ‘zine — it’s a reference book.  Put it on your shelf next to your Oxford English Dictionary and your Brittanica.  And he included Run Lola Run so he gets extra points.  Email Luke and I’m sure he’ll hook you up. (A+)

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That’s all my reviews for this year!

Book Review: Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg

“…angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night…”

I recently read Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg.  Yes, I realize that beat poets get parodied and poetry slammers get mocked, sometimes for good reason.  I’ve been to poetry slams, and when it’s good it’s good; but when it’s bad it’s awful.

Still, the reach of beats is long and deep both inside and outside the realm of modern poetry.  It influenced protest music in the 60’s and 70’s and later helped shape rap.  I had been meaning to read Ginsberg’s Howl for a long time — knowing I couldn’t say I knew anything about modern poetry without reading this giant — but somehow I never got around to it.

So glad I didn’t put it off any longer.  Howl and Other Poems is called a masterpiece and its justified.  If you haven’t read it, do so as soon as possible.