Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Nerve Cowboy Issue 31

I always enjoy reading Nerve Cowboy and this issue is packed with stories, poems, and art meant to shake up your attention span. There are always poems that are shocking and this issue has some real stunners. One poem in particular is about a man and how he handles his father’s ashes. You’ll have to snag an issue for yourself to read that particular poem. In the meantime, here are several that also piqued my interest:

Kerouac Spodiodi, Bukowski Wine

At age 15 I began to write stories on my father’s
1942 Underwood, hunt and pecked up to 5 pages
long starring a perky protagonist resembling Debbie
Reynolds in love with heroes wise as Abe Lincoln.
Mailed them off to Saturday Evening Post, McCall’s,
Collier’s, Redbook, Ladies Home Journal, Seventeen
magazine and waited for the $1000 check to arrive,
enough for a year’s rent, a trip to New York City to
sip Spodiodi with Jack Kerouac and by age 20 my
rejection slip pile stood high enough for a game of
Old Maid and when my life turned crazy, my days
ran away and I became a vegetarian holding on to
the wheel of a quivering meat conception, at age 35,
I learned to type up to 100 wpm on my IBM Selectric,
so I wrote 20-page stories and sold my first for $50,
barely enough for a week’s rent and a bus ride to L.A.
to chug wine with Charles Bukowski. Age 40, at last
I sold a story to Paris Review for $275, only 2 week’s
rent by then. And now I’ve got a computer, can blab
blog a story or more a day, but publishers can barely
pay their own rent anymore so they send me instead
of money comp copies of their magazines containing
my stories I tuck away neatly into boxes beneath the
coffee table, my impecunious stories, my millions of
words, clever idioms, hyperbole and denouements
starring perky Debbie Reynolds and brave Honest Abe
Free Rent, mere cheeseburgers and beer- for silverfish.

By: Joan Jobe Smith of Long Beach, CA

When you are a writer of any kind I believe you go through very similar experiences above. You send out your work and dream of bigger things and when success comes it is not quite as large as your runaway imagination had you believe yet you keep on sending and dreaming, sending and accepting reality.

The Last Time My Mother Read Me Jack and the Beanstalk
--for E. W., 1925-2010

There should have been a harp playing
to honor the singing one Jack stole.
There should have been a glass of milk

to celebrate the cow Jack swapped for beans,
and a ladder to symbolize upward mobility.
There should have been a glow to simulate

the giant’s stolen gold, and pancakes
to commemorate his wife, who fed Jack breakfast,
and saved him from her husband’s appetite.

I’d never read Carl Jung, or dreamed
that Jack’s life-themes would be my own:
valuing beans others despise; being small

but lethal (in my mind); clever (but shallow?);
less concerned with Right than right-for-me
and-mine; always trying to shine for women-

each a version of my mom, who’d sit me
in her lap and read Jack any time I liked.
Today, I wish I’d liked more often.

Sure as hens laid golden eggs, harps
Screamed, and giants thundered
between earth and sky, I thought happily

ever after (which should have tolled
as bagpipes keened) meant, and always would,
my mom and me.

By: Charles Harper Webb of Glendale, CA

This one definitely tugged at my heart-strings, what can I say? A man paying tribute to his mother is a wonderful thing to read. A timeless tale that almost everyone I know has either heard because it was read to them or because they read it to someone else is romanticized by the poet above and shared with us. Comparing the story of Jack to his own life, the poet shares his new perspective on the tale of Jack and of the time shared with his mother. I love this poem and now I want the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk read to me again.

Repeating Myself

Repetition in poetry is beautiful
but at the reference desk
it is painful.

Computer lab?
Go straight back past the stairs.
You’ll see glass doors on your left.
Go through them into the computer lab.

Change for a dollar?
Checkout desk.

Can I use your phone?
No. There are pay phones down the hallway to your right.

Stapler? Scissors? Tape? 3-Hole Punch?
Chained to the table behind me.

I know I have beautiful eyes.
The ring on my left hand indicates that I’m married.
No, I will not go out with you.

Between these interactions
I think of Ron Padgett’s poem “Nothing In That Drawer”
where every repeated line comes out slightly different.

Or Gary Snyder’s “is this our body?...this is our body”
from his poem “The Bath”
where repetition transforms question
into mythic proclamation.

Or Diane Wakoski’s
“it is blue
it is blue
it is blue”
in “Blue Monday”

Unfortunately, our budget doesn’t allow us to buy pencils for patron use.
There is a pen
chained to my desk
that you can use.

By: Heather Abner of Brighton, MI

This poem makes me grin wide. I like seeing things from the other side. While I approach reference desks for directions it is nice to catch a glimpse of the reference desk worker’s perspective. I can picture the poet rolling her eyes with each repetition, the constant and unchanging needs of the patrons and I am curious to know which library or building she works in and why absolutely everything is chained down. The stapler, three hole punch, even the pen, all chained to her desk so that no one, not even the reference desk worker, can borrow them outside of that very desk.

If you enjoyed these sample poems, each issue of Nerve Cowboy is $6.00 or you can subscribe for two years for the more than reasonable price of $22.00. I have been a subscriber for four years now and I highly recommend them. The editors are also the type of editors who look for new and unpublished poets so I feel that reader support is vital for this particular journal. For more details, visit their website at:


Thanks always for reading, please click in tomorrow for more Poems Found by Poet Hound…

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