Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Schizo-Poetry Fragments of the Mind by Susanne Wawra and Kevin Nolan

Susanne Wawra and Kevin Nolan, two poets residing in Dublin, Ireland, created a collaborative work based on images brought forth by color—15 colors total. The first poem in each set is by Wawra, the second by Nolan. Their poems are rich with imagery, sensuality, memory, and philosophy. Self-published by www.eprint.ie in Dublin, Ireland I am surprised that a publisher didn’t pick them up. The work is imaginative, thoughtful, and worth reading over and over again. Below I am happy to share some samples and I urge you to support these poets and their future:

(bright yellow)

A colourable moon perspires down
on a foreign country.

A road surrounds an Anglican church –
the door swings open and a distant high pitched sound gets higher.

The air is wet with Ave Marias, a solitary singer searchingly fingers her
soul and moans low while city foxes dash by dizzy and wild-eyed with
questioning snouts.

Sitting near on footpath
are two people, in love, smiling at each other, knowing each other

In one beats a heart:
its drawers swing open and shut in slow motion, catch imaginary
snowflakes, which melt and leak down to collect in the swells of her eyes
opening like butterflies.

The other’s heart
is wet with vitality, desperate in its countenance
opening and reaching out to her like a legousia flower to the heat of
flavescent moonlight.

By Nolan

The first two lines alone are captivating. Who on Earth wouldn’t want to dive into this poem after reading the opening lines? Along with “The air is wet with Ave Marias,” lending a magical quality to the scene that further unfolds of two lovers sharing an emotional intimacy with each other. Nolan romances us equally as well as the lovers romance each other.

(gray blue)

I hesitate, a breeze beats my back
As if to push me, I start walking in
The crisp cold water swallows my
Feet, knees, thighs, my breath

Hardens. I stand and wait for the
Waves to invite me in, they come
At me – hit, foam, draw back an
Then again. I inhale and advance

Until my heart reaches sea level
It pounds against the wall, throws
Itself towards the new encounter
Entering a dance to its intriguing

Rhythm. I spread my arms and feel
the resistance, I move them back
And forth, the water runs through
My outspread fingers, I shiver.

I give myself to the sea, plunge deep
Into the cleansing blue, grey, green
We embrace each other, we become
Lovers, unified. I am the wave, the

Push, the take. For once, I feel whole,
Complete. I surface, shake, then turn
Around and walk back to the beach
Seasoned with salt, bliss, intensity.

By Wawra

This poem is sensual, enigmatic. The reader can place themselves into the writer’s shoes and feel the waves and be renewed by nature’s envelopment. I live within driving distance of the ocean and it can be therapeutic to wade out into the waves, especially in the early hours of the morning when there are very few, if any, other people around. This poem reminds me of the importance of immersing oneself in Nature, I hope it inspires you to get outdoors as it does for me.


She is dressed in black, a heavy cloak
of darkness mantled on her shoulders.
As she enters the room slowly but
With fortitude, the lightbulbs explode.
A thick blackness immediately fills
The space, it seeps into every corner
Of our being, we become the night.

She speaks of wrong and death and
Hate with a voice that catapults our
Synapses into a warping war of words.
We start spinning, swirl, twist around
Each other till we manifest into a knot.
The sounds echo down our spines,
Vibrate viciously, we are left shaking.

She moves closer, her breath so cold
It clenches our hearts, grips our guts.
A pulsating pain possesses our bodies,
Beats in every cell. A weight pushes
As if to crush us, holding the pressure
To demonstrate its power. The attack
Blows our defence, we are weakened.

She enters our being, spreading her
Poisonous black, detracting all colour,
All light, all life. She empties our very
Inside, only rawness, hurt and despair
Remain. We are shapeless on the
Sharp boards of the floor, surrender.
The ruins moan but we will rise again.

By Wawra

This poem strikes me personally. There is always someone in life that seems to suck the life out of the room when they enter—whether they realize that about themselves or not. This poem is deep, dark, and I wonder who the poet is speaking of, if there is anyone in her life that causes her to truly feel this way. The woman who spreads the darkness in this poem is powerful, so powerful in her negative words and actions that she leaves her victims writhing inside and out. I am thankful for the ending line “the ruins moan but we will rise again,” lending hope that the victims will overcome this poisonous person, just as we all strive to overcome the poisonous people in our own lives.


The moonshine sits on the waves
Making their way to the flat beach.
As they are rolling in, it dances
Across the waterlines. Upon their
Breaking, the white foam thunders.

All colour has been washed away,
All is condensed in shades of grey.
The night simplifies my view, eases
My mood and sharpens by senses.
It talks to me, tells it like it is, makes

No apologies. I can see clearer now,
I listen and understand. The wisdom
of the sea opens up and lets me in.
Everything makes perfect sense,
The answers are right there, I am

Ecstatic. Without looking I have
Found it or it may have found me.
But as the sun pushes herself up
It disappears, I am overwhelmed,
Swallowed by a tsunami of colour.

By Wawra

The poet ties nature into its restorative abilities here again. Quiet contemplation and observation greet us, seeing the world in “black and white” before daylight spreads to obscure the simplicity. It is a beautiful poem and I’m happy to share it with you.


Somewhere in a dark room
mists are mistaken
for spiders’ webs
softly sifting through the air
in beautiful motion, like
those seahorses
lovingly negotiating, the pull
and trusting language of the sea:
its deep shifting tides

a grimy underpaid
emigrant boy is printing yet
another copy of Finnegan’s

He’s never read a word
for his language
and the language of Joyce
are very different.

On a break he exhausts
a cigarette
and traces the image
of the words
as if reading braille

while back in the room
the wings of a gallivanting blue-bottle
surreptitiously kiss,
into a drifting web.

By Nolan

This poem captures a scene that upon observation may seem serene but hints at something darker. An emigrant worker trying to make his way, unfamiliar with the language and the world he has placed himself in, just as the blue-bottle drifts unsuspectingly into the dangerous web. This is another poem that strikes me personally, having moved several times in my life and having to learn the language, customs, lingo of other locations, even within the United States Midwest versus living on the Mexican Border in Texas. The world is mysterious and full of secrets, just like the ocean and its shifting tides in the poem above. A beautiful poem layered with meaning, it gives us pause to linger over Nolan’s words.

I hope you enjoyed these samples of Schizo-Poetry by Susanne Wawra and Kevin Nolan as much as I do. You may purchase a copy of their book for 10 Euros + 2 Euros shipping and handling if you reside outside of Dublin, or 10 Euros + 1 Euro within Dublin at:

Thanks always for reading, please drop by again soon…

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Kristina Marie Darling’s Double Feature: The Arctic Circle, Failure Lyric

I admit that lately I have been very slow to read and review books these past two to three years and I can assure you I am working on ways to get back to doing these reviews more often. It will take a bit longer to achieve some of the goals I have set for myself in order to accommodate more reading, writing, and creating. I thank all of my loyal readers for sticking by. In the meantime, I will post as often as I can:

Today I review one of my favorite writers for a Double Feature. Kristina Marie Darling’s work continues to inspire me and sets my imagination spinning.

First is The Arctic Circle, published by BlazeVox books in 2015, is a haunting collection where the ghost of the first wife lingers over the current couple’s lives. The current wife begins slipping into the first wife’s character, alarmingly the husband voices approval. The environment surrounding them grows cold, frosted over in ice. Below I am happy to share a few pieces:


The name I was given at birth was no longer my name. When I arrived at the reception hall, I was mistaken for another bride. Laced into the wrong dress, wearing the wrong shoes.

My husband would later confuse me with his last wife. He thought I was supposed to bring him cigarettes, and for a moment that seemed right. He mumbled as I handed him a purple lighter, and I left behind the only life I’d ever known.
But we were so good together. I never argued with him, afraid for years he’d remember his first wife was dead.

This poem describes our main character slipping into an expected persona and losing her individuality to make her partner happy. I fear the number of women who do this daily. I wish they would fight to keep themselves intact. Here, the bride succumbs to what is “expected” of her.


From the start you made me promise not to ask questions about your first wife. You’d leave for weeks and wouldn’t tell me why.

When you finally came home, dinner always began the same way. I’d catch a glimpse of something in the window while warming soup or vegetables. Then I looked out into the yard and saw her face. Sometimes she stood at the door, straightening her dress, about to knock. Most of the time she was out of breath, as though she’d walked a long way in the cold.
No matter what you told me, I was afraid to open the door. She carried no purse, and no luggage, because everything she needed was already here.

This is when the ghost of the first wife makes her appearance. It is telling when the new wife says “because everything she needed was already here.” It leads us readers to believe that the husband never cleaned out any of his previous wife’s things. The new bride is simply there to become the former bride. Haunting, isn’t it?


When I woke in the middle of the night, I saw another woman in the glass. She looked the way I had always imagined your first wife: white blonde, pink lipstick with a hint of sparkle.

I climbed back into bed and you asked me why I was shivering. I told you I was cold, but really i wasn’t. I knew I could never sleep in the same house as her. That was when I noticed something glittering on the side of your mouth. I told myself I was imagining things, but even I didn’t believe it.
After we’d been married a few years, things started to make sense. You never told me the house was haunted because you hoped it wasn’t. Every night, when you thought I was sleeping, you kissed the woman on the other side of the mirror.

Quite disconcerting, this piece. Not only is their home haunted by the first wife but the bride’s husband continues to carry on a relationship with the ghost in the mirror. It turns your heart for the current wife and you wonder why she stays.

The garden was all thistle and frost.

I had been living in her house,
wearing her clothes, answering
to her name.

This is where I leave you, dear reader. To learn more about the life of the current wife in this haunting tale, you will have to pick up a copy for yourself. The bride’s transformation, the husband’s acceptance of this transformation, and then ultimately… The rest is for you to find out in the pages of this indelible tale.

If you enjoyed this review and are curious to learn the rest of the tale, please purchase a copy of Arctic Circle by Kristina Marie Darling for $16.00 at:

Failure Lyric, published in 2014 by BlazeVox books, is a collection of unexpected heart aches, failures as the title implies, and a couple’s relationship at the center. As always, Darling uses vivid, beautiful language to create scenes that etch into our minds. It is nearly impossible for me to narrow down which pieces to share, so please forgive me for sharing so many, and there are many more for those of you who wish to read more:


My sister looked at me and said, You choose the love you think you deserve. She poured another cup of herbal tea. Out the window, I see birds burying their dead.

This is one of the first poems in this collection and sets the tone for what follows. “You choose the love you think you deserve” is relatable to so many of us and it pushes the reader’s curiosity forward.


At first, you didn’t quite understand. How I carried all that grief from city to city, until it turned into an enormous white halo around my head.

And the stars. The way they followed my sadness, rising and falling like an ocean. Before long, even the cities where we lived began to circle around my melancholy, each one a thread spinning through the eye of a needle.

One morning, you woke and noticed that the world around you moved differently. The freeway no longer led to the subway station. And the flower stand wasn’t where you remembered it.

You cried, but neither one of us could change it back.

This piece hits me personally. Growing up our family moved many times and there was culture shock as we yo-yoed between the Midwest and the Texas Border on Mexico. My dreams are vivid and filled with scenes from both, there was heartache from being such an obvious outsider each move. So this piece allows me to relate to both the wife and the husband, feeling grief that grows with each change, then tears when you return to a place only to find it has changed drastically. This piece I feature for personal reasons, I hope you can relate to it and love it as much as I do.


At first I thought the gift was for me. A little box, wrapped in green paper and tied with a silver ribbon, sparkled on the kitchen table. Each of the corners had been taped shut so I couldn’t see what was inside.

That was when he walked in the door with a bag full of wrapping paper. Ribbons in every color. Roll after roll of sticky tape.

He told me that he was going to an anniversary party. I didn’t hesitate when he asked me to help wrap the gifts.

Before long, I realized the presents were meant for his last wife, waiting at the restaurant. I couldn’t help but recognize her favorite chocolates, that ungodly perfume he always dragged with him on his suit. Now the gifts shimmered in their boxes. All that ribbon curled at my feet.

You see, when we married, memory fell asleep in the chapel. We left her in the pew, wearing her best dress.

Somehow she never found her way back to the door.

This piece makes my heart ache for the current wife. How does a woman wrap gifts for the former love of her lover’s life? The mention of losing the memory in the pew is poignant. The wife conveniently forgot the husband’s previous life when she married only to stare it in the face now while wrapping up gifts for the last wife. Strange that the husband would do something so elaborate for an ex and ask his current wife for help, there are layers upon layers in this couple’s story in such a short piece.


There is a room where grief doesn’t sleep.

She tosses and turns beneath a white blanket, that silk canopy draped around her. When I open the door, she asks for a glass of water. Anything but the orchid on her dressing table, the shriek gathering in its perfect mouth.

Because when she closes her eyes, she can feel the same burning in her own throat. That smoldering beneath a violet nightdress. A fire in every eyelash.

The first line caught my attention, didn’t it for you? We all know that room, whether it is in our minds or a place that brings back tearful memories. I love that grief is a woman, just like La Llorona (The Crying Woman). Not only does she toss and turn, she burns with fire, just as we all feel inside during our own grief. It’s a beautiful piece.


I walk between two rooms, but somehow the furniture is the same: a torn envelope, a lifeless clock, the armoire smoldering beneath a beveled mirror.


I unwrap relics one at a time. The room aches with light. You are the patron saint of lost causes, of silent vows and a scorched altar. We are the windows of a chapel shattering as it burns.


Now the plaster angel speaks his final benediction. In my hand, a bouquet of paper flowers, aflame. Still these attempts to catalogue, this desire to preserver.


I had always imagined the mind as a museum of memorable objects. Those endless rows of dried butterflies pinned under glass.


When asked, the docent told me that the placard couldn’t be trusted: The colors have been known to shift with the light. You see, at the time the glass case was built, the specimen wasn’t quite dead.

This is where I feel Darling excels. These moments, these vignettes, they speak worlds to me. I see a museum filled with relics and glass cases and the idea that the butterflies weren’t “quite dead” when they were placed in their case is frightening to me. The idea that all of our beloved keepsakes may have some sort of life and then be left for dead in their “display cases” is what makes me look at my own things in a different light. I feel that Darling is well versed in turning the beautiful and sacred onto its side and holding a prism up to give us a new and unexpected perspective.

If you enjoy this feature, please purchase a copy of Kristina Marie Darling’s Failure Lyric for $12.00 here:

Thanks always for reading and please drop by again soon…

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Sarah Sousa's Split the Crow

Sarah Sousa’s collection, Split the Crow, is published by Parlor Press in 2015 and weaves indigenous tales with natural world imagery that burrow deep into your memory long after you read them. Her work has appeared in The Massachusetts Review, Barn Owl Review, and more, she has won the Red Mountain Press Prize for her collection Church of Needles in May 2014. Below I am happy to share a few samples of her recent collection:

The Dead’s Bright Copperas

Could it be held in a bottle like smoke
or liquor; the color of shadow. Could it
be one of the sad animals, one of the instinctual.
Sad because extinct but still
possessing mythical teeth, legs, claws.
Carnivorous and sad. Furred, plumed, spiny
and sad. Could it be hollow as the keeled sternum
of a gull or the pitch of the cricket’s flat
note. Could it be trapped like a song in the skull’s
dull kettle. Sometimes resembling anemic condolence,
sometimes largesse. Primarily unique unless
born again of some woman. Could it be the sun
festoons the dead with necklaces and bracelets
of fat flies. Fishing for dead. Hunting the dead.
Always engaged in pursuits of the flesh.
Or could it be ghost infants who flop about
like trod-on birds. Without the strength to pass they stay;
eat our corn, settle invisible villages among us.
And wear their broken breastbones
like knocked-askey shields, stirring the flaps
of our doors—like a breeze their ingress and egress.

Sousa talks about the dead and decaying, the decomposition akin to “the sun/feasting wolf-like on the dead” and the spirits of the deceased creatures and people remaining in “invisible villages among us.” The imagery is striking to me, lines such as “the sun/festoons the dead with necklaces and bracelets of fat flies” is clear as a bell in my imagination, as is the idea of the dead “trapped like a song in the skull’s dull kettle.” This poem strikes me for its imagery and for Sousa’s ability to remind us of death’s every day presence.

Of Creation

Man and woman were made of stone.
But Cautantowwit, displeased, broke them
into many pieces and the mica shone out
like stars. Our cut places still glimmer.

So he started using trees.

Now you want the trees
to grow like corn, an inch for every rain.
You want the trees for ships—to take a gale,
rock on the angle, unbroken. You want the trees
to get you to another shore and back?
Better barter with the sea, god of tide-sucking
moon, god that rules your bird-caged lungs.
If the timbers of your roof stay true, thank the roof.

Cautantowwit is the Native American tribes Algonquin and Lenape’s version of God the Creator. Here Sousa shares the tale of their version of creation, filled with stunning visuals: “broke them/into many pieces and the mica shone out/like stars” and when Cautantowwit wasn’t satisfied he decided the living, growing tree would be a better way of creation, and the poet asks the Creator “You want the trees for ships—to take a gale, rock on the angle unbroken…” which leads me to believe the poet meant the Native American people’s ability to weather the storms in their lives.


It is said the women wended
their way in the dark between empty
cabins, cold fire pits, into the forest
they would abandon. It is said the procession
was formal. They wore embroidered robes
similar to the ones the Hopi lay
upon the ground when the first horses
entered into their country. Sacred horses.
Sacred trees. It is said the women whispered
to oaks and elms, wept and stroked
the bark as a mother strokes her child,
one last lull,

She makes a ghost of herself then
leaves leaves leaves.

Sousa describes the way Native American women would prepare for childbirth. The women would go far away from the rest of the tribe and prepare a sacred place from which to give birth without assistance. Sousa’s words envelop in the senses of the woman preparing for birth, leaving cold fire pits behind, the silence of the forest surrounding the woman, the feel of the bark as the woman makes way to give birth, all of it beautiful.

If you enjoyed this review, you may purchase a copy of Sarah Sousa’s Split the Crow from Parlor Press for $11.00 at:

Thanks always for reading, please drop in again soon...

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Kristina Marie Darling's Fortress

Kristina Marie Darling’s Fortress is published by Sundress Publications and showcases the dance of doomed domestic bliss from the perspective of the wife. The main character alludes to the field of dead poppies that welcomes her to her new home. The husband does nothing to coax them to life and creates gardens elsewhere only to fail. The possible greenery is a metaphor for the relationship when the husband disappears after the poppies catch fire and spread disaster to the homestead. The wife is left to determine what to do about the outcome on her own, just as many relationships leave at least one person wondering what happened and what to do next. Below I am happy to share some examples:


Another night. The same lifeless corsage. I wondered if the landscape, rather than affection for on another, had been the source of our euphoria.

Here, the wife tries to understand what brought their marriage happiness. Dead flowers permeate the landscape of this collection and are romanticized as a display of love and affection for the characters.


I could not endure the boxed geraniums beneath every window, their long stems like dried insects under glass. It was then that I began to examine the iron gates and coaxed the locks with such care, as though they were hothouse flowers or small children.

What caught my eye was the line “their long stems like dried insects” because I am fascinated by insects. It is easy to picture the hollow, fragile stems driving the wife to escape. The gates surrounding the house have kept her in and now she is trying to escape as carefully as she can, not just from the landscape but from her marriage.


What is there left to say? When we married, I became his wife. I can no longer remember what I looked like before that veil descended, or the vow exchanged between us.

The lines above ultimately sum up my worst fears. I have witnessed this myself watching other couples: when they come together, they lose their individuality completely and it is terrifying. The wife above became “wife” and forgot everything about herself in the process. Truly terrifying to me.

Kristina Marie Darling uses her skill of erasures and of footnotes to create a world in which a couple’s marriage dissipates over time in a landscape that echoes their lives. If you enjoyed this review, you may purchase a copy of Kristina Marie Darling’s Fortress for $12.00 at:

Thanks always for reading, please drop in again soon…

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Alessandra Bava's They Talk About Death

Alessandra Bava’s collection, They Talk About Death, is published by Blood Pudding Press. Her collection is surreal, rich, and thoughtful. Inside these pages dwell iconic literary and historical figures, she dips her pen into their universe and extracts her own thoughts from them. It is my pleasure to share a few samples:

St. Baudelaire

I dream of you at night
entangled in the spires of evil,

tied to a living pillar in the
profane sanctuary of Poetry—

the spores of wild flowers in
your nostrils, the ecstasy of

“the Word” painted on your face
& slowly dripping from your

St. Sebastian-like wounds
in sanguine lines.

I twist the arrows in your flesh,
I dip my fingers in your scars

as you spit out your own
poisonous mythology

into my soul.

I love the poet’s macabre language for dreaming of meeting Baudelaire, the poet who wrote Flowers of Evil which was banned once it was published. I love Baudelaire’s poems and this tribute to him is dark and beautiful.


She has danced and played all night long with her Madame Sosostris’ wicked pack of cards and now she holds her trophy in a silver platter. John’s beautiful severed head. Salome likes her meat rare. She is hungry. She’ll bite his livid lips awake with her love words. One day, when the head will turn to skull, she’ll make a lamp for her own enlightenment and write chiaroscuro poems.

This piece is as dark as the biblical reference itself: the stepdaughter of the King, Salome, requests the head of St. John the Baptist. Here, a reference to T.S. Eliot’s tarot card reader, Madame Sosostris, is linked to the act and delivers a mystical, clairvoyant quality. Salome’s thirst for vengeful blood is presented in a gruesomely beautiful way thanks to the poet.

Dreaming Arthur
“A thousand Dreams within me softly burn” --Arthur Rimbaud

I take seat at the
Big Bear tavern,

redolent of smoke,
absinthe and dung.

A pale blue eyed
seer at the counter,

in his ruffled scarf,
sells illuminating

prophecies. I order
my glass and he

fills it with green
ink in which

we dip our loaded

I stare at his
provincial clothes,

at his holsters
full of satisfied

flesh, Christian
mothers’ morals,

deliriums, vowels,
poisons, Ville Lumiere,

Abyssinian darkness,
seasons in hells, pure

monstrosities, burning lines
crows, leg-eating gangrene
suns, Eternity…
We aim
high at
the sky.

I pause, I pant, I shoot,
I write.

He grabs my hand
and cries: “Wake up!

I’m just a ghost
selling false promises

and watered-down
wine. I am only an

extinguished meteor
blazed away to ash.

How can I rest in peace
if even my words refuse to


In this poem I picture the poet dreaming after reading Rimbaud and having deep conversation with him in a dank tavern. I personally feel as a writer that my own work sells “false promises” as the writer says above, as every piece of literature takes its liberties.

If you enjoyed this sample, you may purchase a copy of Alessandra Bava’s They Talk About Death from Blood Pudding Press for $7.00 at:

Thanks always for reading, please drop in again…