Friday, January 29, 2010

Poetry Tips: Scrap Paper Poems

There are plenty of web-sites that seem to post scraps of paper they find from their ventures out into the world on-line, notes scrawled to roommates, lovers, etc. If you stumble upon any of these they could be excellent fodder for a poem. This week, see what you find on the streets, in the parking lots, on the floor in your offices and see what kind of poems they may inspire.

Good luck to all who try it, please stop in next week for Monday’s featured site…

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Four Way Books Open Submissions

If you have yet to publish a full-length book of poems and are wanting to try it this year, you have until March 31st to polish and bring together a book-length manuscript of poems, between 48-80 pages not including title pages to submit.

There is a $25.00 entry fee but the prize is $1000 for the winning manuscript. If you have published any chapbooks or if you’ve published in quite a few journals and/or anthologies and believe you have enough related poems to fill the manuscript guidelines then I believe you have reason enough to try your hand at submitting a full-length manuscript.

You can submit on-line (preferred by Four Way Books) or via snail mail but you must go to their web-site and follow the instructions listed there which includes filling out or down-loading and filling out their form to mail with your manuscript at:

Please also see their note that if you are in any way related to or working with Alan Shapiro that you may not be eligible to submit your manuscript this time around.

Good luck to all of you who submit!

Thanks for checking in, please drop in tomorrow for more Poetry Tips…

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Poems Found By Poet Hound
“The World” by George Herbert
“Gary, Indiana” by Matt Gillespie

Thanks always for clicking in, please drop in tomorrow for more Open Submissions…

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Sagging: Spirits and Skin by Jason Fisk

Jason Fisk hails from Chicago and his latest collection of poems is published by Alternating Current’s Propaganda Press. The Sagging: Spirits and Skin is filled with the encounters of city and rural life, family revelations and the everyday conversations that send you reeling:

The Farm

A preteen summer
spent on my uncle’s farm
Hay bail hallways created to guide
the pigs from one barn to the other
I waited, leaning over the hay bails
watching intently
The pigs finally came
pissed as hell
my uncle chased after them
with the handle of a hoe
beating them if they stopped.
The irate pigs demolished
the hay bail hallway.
Pushing through it
jumping over it
Here – he handed me
the hoe handle
What am I supposed to do with this?
Hit ‘em in the fuck’n face like this
He hit one squarely in the snout, and it released
a sound between a scream and a squeal
We gotta get ‘em into the barn.

I took the hoe handle and watched
as the pig’s snout bled.
Don’t worry ‘bout it
they don’t have feelings

I was a grown man
the summer night he called
and asked me to hurry over
when he answered the door
a waft of whisky
flooded my nostrils
I saw a blood soaked rag
in the bottom of the deep sink
in the mudroom
his speech slurred
his voice was in pain
as his tongue rolled around
in his numb mouth
She just got on my nerves
said the wrong thing…
He guided me to the bathroom
where she was crumpled
on the floor
with bloody bath towels
What the fuck did you do?
She and I were arguing…
I ran to the phone
and dialed 911
he tried to push me away
I hit him squarely in the nose
with the palm of my hand
he fell/nose bleeding
to the floor
I looked at his pig face
and wondered
if he felt that

This poem is heavy in its weight and ends with a retort that travels across time. Mr. Fisk keeps us riveted in our seats and gives us what we crave—justice—at the end and for all the best reasons.

The Rosebud

I hadn’t seen you
since the day you told
me you were pregnant,
in that café. It was
a September day,
filled with a cold fall rain.
I remember thinking
that I could smell the rain
on people as they passed our table.
There was an unopened
rosebud in a simple
glass vase on our table.
What am I going to do?
You asked
over and over.

Today we stood in the aisle
between the cards
and the candles
at Target, small talk
our armor. I looked
at your empty belly.
You pulled your jacket closed.
“Well, it sure is good to see you,
we’ll have to get together sometime,”
you lied. I wanted to tell you
that I had learned
in a poem
that the Japanese
prefer the rose bud
to the rose blossom,
but how do you fit
that into conversation?

There are so many layers to this poem. You wonder what the relationship is between the poet and the woman—were they dating? Were they friends? With ground breaking news comes the hyper-awareness of your surroundings, the unopened rose on the table, could it have represented the unborn child? Could it have been just a simple part seared into the mind so that the poet latches onto a new meaning for an unopened rose in a Japanese poem? There are so many questions and layers and such a brief and loaded encounter in which all of us, including the poet, are left without answers. We never find out what happened to the child and we never find out the relationship between the two but this poem moves the reader in the way it moves the poet.

Summer – 1985

Duct taping the garden hose
to the exhaust of his car
reminded him
of the days of Erector Sets,
Lincoln Logs and cardboard boxes.
The satisfaction
of having built something,

As he unwound
the new green hose,
the smell reminded him
of summer days,
and that terrible rubbery taste
that lingers after sipping.

He pulled it around
and set the metal hose end
in the driver’s seat window
He sealed the gap
with more gray tape.

He started the car.
The old engine roared to life
and the exhaust sputtered.
He got in his metal coffin
and pulled the door shut.
He watched the exhaust
spill in and fall downward.

He coughed and quickly exited
the passenger side
and scrambled
out of the garage.

From the garage window
he watched the car fill
with exhaust.

That’s exactly how I feel
he thought and leaned his head
against the window frame.

He watched the car fill
as the sun set. It reminded him
of watching fireworks
when he was a kid,
but he didn’t know why.

This is another heavy-weight poem and while it can seem depressing at first with the visual descriptions so vivid I can almost hear the duct tape in this piece it ultimately ends hopeful—the man does not complete the act we are led to visualize in horror. Instead, he watches its progression as an outsider, as if picturing himself going through suicide without completing it and relieving himself of the pain in this way. It’s an unusual and oddly inspiring poem, the note on the fireworks is a surprise which adds another exotic layer to the visual already in our minds. I find this poem as one of the most exceptional ones in Mr. Fisk’s collection.

If these sample poems moved you from Jason Fisk you can visit his web-site:

and then you can purchase this collection from Alternating Current for $5.00 (plus $2 US shipping or $3 out-of-US shipping) by clicking the link below:

Or you can send check or money order to: Alternating Current, PO Box 398058, Cambridge MA 02139
*Remember, Alternating Current is one of the small presses where poets can be paid for their work so please support small presses such as this one, there are plenty of wonderful writers for you to peruse at Alternating Current and I am sure you will find someone whose work you enjoy.

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

Monday, January 25, 2010

92nd Street Y

Whether you live in the area or not, it’s an excellent site to explore for poetry and all the other nooks and crannies…

Thanks for clicking in, please drop in tomorrow for another featured journal or poet…