"To bring the poem into the world / is to bring the world into the poem."

Saturday, December 31, 2011



I work at a second-hand bookstore, & i have seen the volume of things people bring to us literally double. (This has not been accompanied by any increase in staff; on the contrary, when workers leave, they have not been replaced.) And something i had not been used to seeing: though there has always been a small number who seemed truly desperate for cash, now among them are some with an air of brokenness, who are grateful for any offer we make, however small.



In my writing i tend to resist, for the most part, sheer topicality. Nevertheless, the closed-up businesses which surround me have crept into my images & finally acquired the status of permanent characters in my story.

Photo of Michael Helsem by J. R. Compton



"Not Going to Rehab" (Pessoa XXVII.)

Radint waialand lion dreams, the unsurpassed [past]
dynamic intensity of the corrections field today.
Soundbyte ricochet. Shoemaker's cloven last.
Sometimes i feel like a stowaway
on the Titanic, looking out late if ever
on the iceberg rushing up. Black night now
crossing Pineland, swerving. The toxic river
shines. Waialand. Record turnout. Flow
my tears the policeman's beard is have to, none
of the above. Through all corrosive fates
set the controls for the heart of the sun
baby, this is the last of all blind dates
and this we keep with the grizzly of a market bear
and there is more than fear to fear

"Persistent Cough" (Pessoa XVI.)

Raise paisley hymns that miss the point
the future of a land that might have been.
Creative tortures never disappoint.

When it comes, as it must, in unsuspected mien;
when it comes, oh lord, the majesty that was
at best, half-dreamt: and seldom now recalled,
so we will go down damned at the stringent pass.
Begin today to learn & not be galled.

Warming by noon, my mind's blue plates staved in
by tenderness, a boon beyond enjoying.
Our fortress is our grief. Our medicine [sin]
to put an end to readier destroying.

And ours is for tomorrow to reprove,
when these brisk eidolons no longer move.

"Super Fat Tuesday" (Pessoa II.)

Bring the waking dream severe delight
and closed eyes fled from out this severed scene (seen)
will rise and gather sustenance from insight.
Our Rubicon has not yet flown. Take sunscreen
into the valley (which is a state of being);
take ammo of truth (all you believe, is lies).
There's Aceldama beyond all dime foreseeing
and i did not invent these trilobite eyes,
up a creek and cased in concrete dreadnought:
i drove through, and took all night. You see,
i only found out late.
           Ignore this rot.
The Way Through came in a dream, and said to me,
"Only lately forgotten, nor buried deep,
are those we've wronged, and this is why we weep."



"M.H. was born in Dallas in 1958. Shortly afterwards, fish fell from the sky."

Blog presence at http://graywyvern.blogspot.com & Amazon presence at http://tinyurl.com/82xo6mq


Monday, December 19, 2011



Hard times without discernible end? Hard work that stingily, precariously gives back rent food lights if that much? That’s always felt like business-though systematically unjust business- as usual to me. The Great Recession simply brings it to-or unmasks it in-quarters where it has been little felt or recognized before.

Although I got an education on scholarship, I have lived almost all my life as a (by US standards) low-income person in and around a majority Black, majority poor urban community. I have multiple disabilities that are immiscible with something the Social Security Administration calls “substantial gainful activity.”

Before the current downturn, I already had learned how to wear the same winter coat for a decade, string along hospital billing systems, educate and entertain a child at little to no cost, tell which furniture is safe to fetch from the dumpster and which only brings trouble home, live in an apartment and yet grow sizeable amounts of fresh organic vegetables, have confidence that needed public benefits are one’s right not one’s shame.

The shame goes instead on this economic setup and what it does to millions, billions, especially the global poor whose poverty is beyond what I can ever truly fathom as an American with degrees, a heated apartment in winter, pounds of food in her pantry, a spouse with a job and a lifesaving health plan, and two instances in her life (so far) of ability to travel to another continent and read her poetry there.



I persist in writing poetry, though, as usual, I must set aside a lot of my energy for whatever paid gigs I can find. I morbidly wonder how I will lug around my laptop and journals and protect them from the snow and rain if I ever become homeless.

One thing the recession has changed for me personally: I despair even more that I will ever find a publisher for the chapbooks I have completed, or the full length collection I have almost finished. So many poets, so many presses, so many cutbacks. Maybe I should post my work to friends on Facebook and call it a day?




For S.

Haha! I love it, how my son
saw an ornament on his grandma’s shelf
and asked, “Hey! Who’s that? Is it
that red guy from Christmas, what’s
that red guy’s name?” Believe me
I never want him
to learn any more about Santa than that!

Those "lots of" train sets. Those candy canes.
My son told me “please-thank” already for. Me.
Myself. I, I am the one
who bought them
through my swollen feet,
my ringing headache
from ringing up highend crowds
of $50 wine bottle drinkers,
so-classy folks, how they
push at and curse me, throw and
thrash tantrums worse than my son’s.

Reporting live here
from just about my last nerve:
last thing I want
my son to believe
is that gifts all get here
from some old white dude
in a loud red suit
who breaks and enters,
breaks and enters
all the damned night long,
that’s a Class 3 Felony,
multiple counts.

Caption by Mary Krane Derr: "The Theotokos or Bearer of the Divine is an icon of Mary pregnant with or breastfeeding/cuddling Jesus. This 18th century Russian icon shows the many varieties of Theotokos in the world. Giving credit for Christmas where it is due: to a woman's love and labor."



Mary Krane Derr is a poet, writer, musician, eco-activist, and human rights advocate from Chicago. Her poetry has been nominated for a Best of the Web Award, Best American Poetry, and Best Spiritual Writing. She was featured at India’s 2011 Kritya International Poetry Festival. She has contributed to literary magazines in the U.S., Ireland, Great Britain, and India as well as anthologies like Hunger Enough: Living Spiritually in a Consumer Society (Pudding House).


Saturday, December 10, 2011



In so many ways, this is a re-run of the Great Depression that shaped my parent’s generation, and the one before that, which scarred my grandfather’s youth. We ought to call it what it is, “The Great Depression – A Sequel.” Look for the next exciting chapter reappearing soon, as long as we line up to follow the antiquated philosophies of Adam Smith.

There is plenty of blame to go around, but I’d look to the economists of London, Harvard, Chicago, Wharton and Princeton who conjure up their “scientific” pronouncements, while celebrating the impoverished individualism of Ayn Rand and streamlined marketplace capitalism.

I remember when we were supposed to support the Cold War, “better dead than red,” because Marxism was evil economic determinism? And now, the so-called leaders of our world pander their brands of Economic Determinism (any less evil?) as if it were scientific certainty, too vital to question, too rational to fail. How have we come to a juncture in history where a few bond traders can systematically bankrupt whole nations? Clearly, our contemporary economic order does not create actual wealth. It generates an endless cycle of selfish avarice, usury and greed; unemployment, foreclosures, impoverishment; and that means homeless hungry children. It produces a new class of super-rich aristocrats, who are gleefully killing our planet. Laughing all the way to their bankrupting banks. I honestly believe that as long as one child is hungry, as long as one child goes without medical attention, as long as one child is deprived of a good education, no one should be a millionaire, let alone a multi-billionaire. Tax the sons-a-bitches.

I guess you could say I am heartbroken and angry about The Depression.



Cast Adrift

In these dark times
Does the muse elude your senses?
Do you yearn for an open highway
Or the quick fix of your video?
Can you still nurture mindfulness
Or calmly letting go? and in flowing
Can you halt the constant chatter
The canned laughter of the construction cranes
Those insistent cultural voices
Their constraints
Calling in the night
Like a dream from your childhood
Without the protection and security
Of a guiding light

In which direction is this world really turning?
With the missing feet of the murdered
Running in the billions,
And agent orange, supposedly tamed
Renamed Round Up, commonly available
Every garden a green house of death . . .
In water tables, ozone layers
Acid rain, and crack

If our species is somehow able to survive
What will our progeny say?
As we leave them a heritage of orange county Disney style
Fantasylands, become a major growth . . . a cancer
A construction, cum service industry . . .
Carved out of the ruined map of myth and natural process
Scraped and pushed into antiseptic parks of amusement
Exquisitely childish escape in the realm of the homeless

What's left of the wild, the natural and free . . .
Must each generation mold it all
To mirror their collective dreams of greed
An' thereby invite, indeed, guaranteeing these disasters
Like the downtrodden, brokenhearted souls
Wharehoused in our broken inner cities?

Street Heroes

Broken souls these
women and men who've given
up their hearts as whores
or tarts of the night,
and can no more see
they've been forgiven.

With their tote bags and tattered clothing
their rags, probably once so fine
as yours (or mine).
Their mis shapen faces
mirror the ravaged inner city,
ashen and discolored. No, not a pretty sight.
no wonder we can't look them in the eye.

Broken and vagrant
what have they lost
or gained?

They awaken in a morning damp
and cold on back streets or
under bridges, shake the dust
off their clothes, scratch for chiggers
and start off into the sun
rising to drink another day
of darkness . . .

These heroes of our cities
are survivors
we call 'em losers
outsiders, we'd rather ignore them,
but they keep the city soul

Cheating Death

Don’t kid yourself, when we fall prey to fear and anger
When we turn away from life’s gift
When we acquiesce to mere cultural norms, and the
Cow dung of conventional wisdom
We let loose primordial cinders, pumped through hell’s gate
Amplified in the Santa Anna winds of mythical exactness
Stunted, pigmified, pickled in recursive ignorance

When we allow them to instill their gluttony in our children
Their self-indulgent resignation, what celebrates aggression
In social choreographies of orchestrated hostility and violence
Reciprocal envy and hate. Belligerence condoned and admired
Avarice, usury and greed commended – neigh encouraged
As their cosmological prescription for economic growth . . .

What about life in resurrection, renewal and redemption
What about justice, reincarnation and life in death, Abraxas
What about sleep without dreams, which I will embrace
As surely as I treasure and celebrate this Existenz
Floating through the space/time continuum

Together with the elements and every living creature
Each of us a vital receptor slash storehouse of meaning
Each an angel, returning it’s bundled messages
On cosmic feedback loops, returning packets of love
Our gifts tagged and flowing back through
Manifest paths of understanding and compassion

Within this Global Cell, every form of life
A mental system, cheating death
Instructing the whole of the living
Broadcasting multiple bits of crucial information
Coded, de-coded, re-coded wisdom what goes beyond
Returning the fullness of living-knowing-being

Our thoughts and actions, our hates and fears
Our unconscious desires, all messages returning
On countless loops of information
Etched engraved in multiple channels of praise
And condemnation, the continuum’s bequest

Proceeding from life and affirmation
Closing in on our ever receding horizons
Preparing the way, returning their goodness to life
Across a flat curved arc of eternity



Born and raised in rural California, Lawren Bale lives in Narberth, Pennsylvania with his wife Martina and their ten-year-old daughter, Annabelle Jean Elisabeth. Before settling down in the Delaware Valley some twenty-seven years ago, Bale worked and studied in Honolulu, Hawaii; Bangkok, Thailand; Kyoto, Japan; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Frankfurt, Germany. Bale’s poetry reflects his wide flung travels and his formal studies of religion, culture and epistemology.

Lawren Bale and his family. Photo Courtesy of Donald D Groff

Friday, December 2, 2011



"I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everybody's right to beautiful, radiant things." Emma Goldman

Materially the recession has not affected me greatly—I am middle class, whether I like that or not, and although I work in the public sector there have been no rumbles about my job disappearing. However the received news surrounding this issue has highlighted my distrust of and distaste for the political and corporate classes. It has re-awakened my personal political activism and I have written and argued much from an anarchist viewpoint, stressing the need for mutual aid in the tradition of Petr Kropotkin, the social value of work as an alternative to the monetary value, the necessity to liberate democracy from systems in which power devolves upwards at the scrawling of an 'X' and to devolve power downwards to its lowest possible level (see Murray Bookchin on 'Libertarian Municipalism'). The recession has driven me (back) into the arms of Emma Goldman and Durruti, back to Revolutionary Barcelona in 1936, back to the political works of Bakunin, but also to the words of Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, and even those of Thomas Jefferson, as I consider how the great movements of working people have been systematically destroyed. As another contributor to these Recession poems has said, working people now live in occupied territory. In the past, working people lined up to be imprisoned, exiled, and hung, for daring to struggle for their dignity. It has now been stripped from them again by a spiteful system that is dying but won't lie down. Our great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers spin in their graves.

Having said that I do not write agitprop poetry. It is as though I compartmentalise very tightly. However, this year I did write a series of very short pieces entitled 'I am an American'. They used public domain images by Dorothea Lange taken from early-mid twentieth century America, and drew on the idea of the migrant worker in the 1930s and the displaced 'enemy aliens' in World War 2. I used these as a metaphor for today's disadvantaged. I used the phrase 'I am an American' because despite the wealth of the United States it is a country of profound inequalities against which its cherished notions of freedom are impotent. I ask the question: Is 'freedom' what we like to think it is? I think I was saying that when it comes to inequality and to empty notions of freedom, we are all 'Americans' in that respect, products of a failed revolution that promised liberty but delivered the concentration of private wealth into the hands of the very few.



I am an American

I am an American
I’m an American coupe
an American coupe in the sunshine
in the sunshine with California plates
and I’m going to get towed…

I am an American 2

I am an American
I’m an American store
an American store selling potatoes
selling Johnny Appleseed
and I’ve been sold…

I am an American 3

I am an American
I’m an American corner
an American corner in your town
in your town in the sunshine
and tomorrow you’ll stand here…

I am an American 4

I am an American
I’m an American window
a window with ghosts of gables
gables in borrowed sunlight
and tomorrow week the clock will still tick…
and it won’t matter a damn.

I am an American 5

I am an American.
There are times when we are all American
– like when we’re short on shoe leather
and long on irony.

I am an American 6

I am an American
I’m a pea-picker
my name is the miles I’ve walked
my name is the horizons in my eyes
you don’t need a real name
to pick peas

(Photographs by Dorothea Lange and are in public domain. Where the poet has added words directly onto the image, copyright in this form are by Marie Marshall with photographs by Dorothea Lange.)


One drop of blood in the pool
and all the little fishes sing.
(Carmina Piranha
, Marie Marshall)

Marie Marshall, otherwise in Gaelic Mairi bheag nan oran (Little Mary of the songs): reclusive, agoraphobic, middle-aged, dysmorphic, gay, awkward, Anglo-Scottish poet and writer. Would prefer to be introduced by a paraphrase of Balthus’ famous telegram: NO BIOGRAPHY. BEGIN: MARIE MARSHALL IS A POET OF WHOM NOTHING IS KNOWN. NOW LET US READ THE POEMS, but life isn’t that simple. Started writing poetry in 2005 and since then has had upwards of one hundred and seventy poems published, including one on the wall of a cafĂ© in Wales and one etched into an African drum in the New Orleans Museum of Art. Associate Editor of Sonnetto Poesia and Canadian Zen Haiku magazine, also of the forthcoming anthology of modern sonnets The Phoenix Rising From Its Ashes. Editor of the zen space, an on-line showcase for haiku and related writing. Her macabre short stories have become a regular feature of the Winter Words literary festival in Scotland where they have been read aloud by professional actors. MM rejects all the Chinese walls of poetry that divide formal from free, product from process, whatever from whatever. Her first collection of poems, Naked in the Sea, was published in 2010.


Monday, November 28, 2011

g emil reutter


As an observer I watch as prices in the supermarket rise without notice from the media, see the young people search for jobs, one turned away after another. Seniors shop one meal at a time, skimp on prescriptions, watch the young mothers walking kids hoping for a better place, see the abandoned factories, empty strip centers and emergency wards full of people who can’t afford a doctors visit. It is the stark reality of the great recession felt by the people everyday as the politicians in Washington play fiddles.



Empty sidewalks, broken alley lights
Grates, bars, locks, empty places
16 year old mothers, missing fathers
Churches of darkened windows
Under EL screech, slide, rhythm of trains
Faces of working girls, addicts, dirty faces
Of children with no where to go, of
Jobless whose hope dissipated long ago
Limestone stalactites drip from rusty
Under grade bridges, remnants of cars
Line the curb, shadows omnipresent
Rescue not an option in this place of
Invisible walls.

"Door closed"

Something Wrong Here?

smoke stacks
water towers
in sky scape
antennas and dishes
bracketed to
old brick, aged metal

smoke doesn’t flow
from stacks
water doesn’t drain
from towers
factories, warehouses
long gone

they stand
to transmit signals
far and wide
while on ground level
quiet abounds
only ghosts travel
inside windowless buildings
that once were


The dog walkers who met at
the pavilion are no longer
here. Ducks are looking
thinner, breadcrumbs do not
fall to the ground.
Birds peck in search
of insects or a worm, fishermen
drop lines for trout that don’t

The night is quiet, the cicadas have gone.
Humidity is low, hum of air conditioners
no longer fills the air. Thunderstorm
passes leaving quiet behind, that dead
quiet in the middle of a storm, yet
it has passed.

Young mothers watch the old folks
purchase one meal at a time, learning
how it is done. Few purchase bottled
water anymore, the tap is just fine. There
are no lines at the pharmacy. Pork roll,
spam, hot dogs are in demand.

*(From the collection, Carvings)



g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. He founded The Fox Chase Review and The Fox Chase Reading Series in 2007. You can visit him at www.gemilreutter-author.com


Thursday, November 24, 2011



After quitting Paris Island in 1996, taking a nap, and waking up in Long Island on 9-11, I realized that the people of which I was a part were poorly equipped to handle, even understand, the exigencies of the world and planet upon which we live. Americans tend to live upon the world, and are seemingly unaware of the planet they’re on. I am aware of the problem with this generality (“American”) but I am talking about a gross systemic relation, rather than its aesthetic valuation. We live as a dream and slurp our news from a crock of shit and you really have to dig to scratch the surfaces. As an American, I am not exceptional; I suppose that, and I hate to admit this, like everyone else who grows up here, it took me a while to remember it.

“Cows in the Field”—photograph by Alec Maslowski



Like any laborer worth his salt I’ve attempted to cultivate my own situations in which I might quit anything and everything without consequence. My art becomes life, stains; “consequences” aside, they’ve proven extremely adept. Hell, successful. Thus my slurp has been unaffected by this “recession” you refer to. The fact that we suffer in silence is at least a meaningful currency, sans coasters, for we are used to it.

What I mean is, there are several thousands of us on the Niagara Frontier who look at the Erie Canal from what was once the widest bridge in the world. Have we seen what gets trapped in this leg of the Canal? Acreage, rusty, an agricultural engineering marvel draining a prehistoric puddle of its fruit picked and packed here, a heavily fertilized contract with eventualities and elsewhere, just east of the toxic nightmares across from Canada—feed corn and the species problem, simplified. South of us Erie County sprawls around Buffalo, where the Canal ended.

Nothing is bleak about its stained signs.

“butterflies”—photograph by Alec Maslowski



                             to cultured inurement a catastrophic event
                                                                                                and old news

A. that they should do more as it tries to hammer out a draft raised the possibility of a range of actions, including but not limited to B. inherent limitations in terms of protections C. hopes to see a serious draft by Thursday or D. to approve this draft it E. would soon attack, to support and clean the city, your protective shield stay away, about thirty kilometers, outside your city they have F. been fighting in that direction for several days, television claimed they were in control of it, but journalists at the gates of the city saw G. no evidence it had fallen, hearing some say, telling others, they were fighting inside H. there was no way to confirm that claim, heavy bombardments there Wednesday I. thousands of forces gathered late outside, Wednesday, with dozens of heavy artillery, radar control weapons systems and about a dozen tanks, weapons J. carried by what appears jubilant and confident K. with white pickups covered in dirt for camouflage purposes snipers were positioned in various parts of the city, excellent vision L. and if it is taken by force, it will give access to what leads to the heart of the opposition M. it was bombing its way into the city, Wednesday N. if all (there) are dead by the end of the day they’ll call it a cowardly, murderous attack, people are not safe, it’s amazing this is happening, adding that two O. people killed, fifteen injured, and one very critically P. forces not yet able to get in described it, a forty-six year-old engineer and member of the local opposition, a rebel fighter with no weapons, fighting with whatever arms Q. are found, or captured R. the best we have, grenade launchers S. the journalist there has not been able to confirm the account but a second witness also said the city has come under sustained attack, on Wednesday T. meanwhile four journalists, covering the conflict, are reported missing U. Wednesday, the editor says they received, second-hand, news that some of the team was swept up, by forces near the city, who’d say V. that there’s nothing to say about them, who said W. that if they have picked them up X. then they should have been brought back Y. the battle, to recapture the rebellious territory, came on the day we considered closing the air, Wednesday Z. ends with no agreement on a draft

there are plenty of others to offer u2, we could repeat these here, the largest Moon in twenty-five years or so and visible on Saturday or the Gulf disaster from last year, or the way even this story has changed, where “spill” becomes an operative word, of which I prefer to Katrinas, Dubyas, a form of Exodus through Egypt perhaps like one of the Four Fukushima Reactors, my sister’s New International Version predicting Haiti’d turn out like China the Orientalist, come to blame the Currency, explains a trace of the Zombie away to a Pharmakon of leaves, the locations like a symbol would just have to show itself, and even though the Japanese can still gather in their peaceful breadlines, or relinquish it in the oceans, having experience with this sort of Thing



Jared Schickling lives in upstate New York.

Alec Maslowski is a visual artist and musician living in upstate New York.


Monday, November 21, 2011



A major part of my recession experience is that of the Irish narrative returning to emigration. The youth of whole villages has disappeared and I know it is becoming easier to count the friends who have left rather than those who have stayed. The direness of the situation is amplified by the trend for those who leave to be those with skills and abilities; this leaves the country with diminished opportunities to get back on its feet.

A fountain in the square of Liam Duffy's home town, Galway. Around it written in chalk are the names of over a hundred people who have emigrated. A student activist group called Free Education for Everyone or FEE, in which the poet is involved, collected the names and wrote them out as an act of remembrance to highlight the lack of opportunities in Ireland, particularly for young people.



My writing has become more critical of the elements of society that brought about this crisis and how they depict themselves as being innately present and necessary in society. But it has also turned its focus on the parts of society that exist despite crisis and also against the crisis--the day to day processes we engage in to get the most out of life.




Even the devil's redundant-

the wind cries:

the tea is cold.

Burnt toast

And greasy frys-

even the devil's redundant,

his knife's coated

in butter and crumbs-

his tea cold.

Sales of slippers have doubled,

he read in the newspapers-

even the devil's redundant

so the church closed;

he could sleep in Sundays-

the tea gone cold

before it’s even poured

the heat stolen by leaky windows-

even the devil's redundant

and his tea has gone cold.

("Deflation" first appeared in A Hudson View, Spring 2010)



Liam Duffy is a poet who grew up and studied in Galway. He is now compiling an Artistic Atlas of Galway, studying Urban studies and working towards his first collection of poetry. He has recently been published on the Upstart blog, the GloomCupboard and has work forthcoming in the special Irish issue of the U.S. magazine Prairie Schooner, and has also read at the West Cork Literary Festival in Ireland as part of a reading dubbed: "Irish Poets: A New Generation."


Sunday, November 20, 2011



My Great Recession experience has everything to do with my future. As a conscience youth and an upcoming teacher, I believe that people are so job security- and money-wary that they are only in survival mode. Teaching guidance to my students, I see they only know that money will make you live comfortably. But really it should be about moral values. In this economy I believe that’s what we need.



How the GR has affected my poetry is by me living in a neighborhood with the least income families, in a school in the middle of what feels like a third world (I'm calling it urban Honolulu)--it's all I know. To live being compassionate about people struggles, including mine and my families’. And by writing my community into awareness.

Faith and her Mommy, with their two dogs (left) Bruno and (right) Pacman!



My GR poem talks about my mother going through layoffs at work, telling her I love her regardless.


At night in my house when everyone should be sleeping eyes close minds

drifting towards wonderland,

She’s still awake in the living room flipping through memories of

what used to be,

Crying wishing her storied scrapbook past was reality again.

She reminisces over pages of smiles; compiled accomplishments enough

to fill miles of trophy cases.

She was the original dust buster dirt devil housekeeper winner of the

2006 Housekeeper of the Year award.

She remembers wanting to vacuum the red carpet something majestic;

Floors so shiny, you could see your inner child in the reflection. She

idolizes perfection

That hotel was her home away from home, her fortress of solitude and

it has been for over 16 years.

She cleans hotel rooms; finds the history in dirty laundry, closet

skeletons and linens.

Knows what happens in a honeymoon suite, and is capable to clean the

fuck out of them

She knows that business trips are filled with more personal endeavors


Seeing infidelity with the mistake of forgetting the do not disturb

sign on the doorknob; she has seen it all.

Until last fall when my brother and I watched her crumble under the

fall of the economy,

The uncertainty placed her waiting by the phone.

She’s on call for work now. Today she’s number 4 but they didn’t

even make it to 3…

This job is her first baby, 16 years in the making,

At first this job was just to pay the bills, just for now, just until…

It became her passion, found sanctuary in her pink flowered uniform,

and comfort gelled shoes

She’s my mother, sobbing solo under the single light in the living


Resisting to open her scrapbook, trying not to find a reason to be

angry at the super natural because she’s losing faith. Like a

flickering candle…

When she thinks no one is around she still tries her uniform on, this

is her battle suit;

Her idle hands turn to iron and from wonder woman to wondering woman

she feels like she lost her super powers.

My mother is an aglet, found at the tip of shoelaces,

She’s capable of keeping your sole in place,

She will tell you she loves you by just being there… but she’s forgotten.

Her paycheck is the only way she remembers her value,

That coming home without one renders her useless.

Mommy, you are not an ATM, not an automated teller machine,

Worth is not measured in money; Your amount balance will never be zero to me.

See no one remembers what an aglet is…

No one cares about the life of the housekeeper who cleaned their hotel


But mom, you are more than a source of income

You’re my monster in the closet inspector, and the detector of sorrow

and sobbing anywhere

When the shake of the money problem earthquake leaves our home, I want

you to know

I love you more than a full-time laid off housekeeper, but my full

time mother. Assuring you that even if your Faith fades away, your faith will be here.



Faith Pascua, 17 years old, is a high school senior in Honolulu, Hawai’i. The Youth Speaks Hawaii 2010 Grand Slam Champion, she is a student teacher. She also can be seen and heard presenting her poem "Mommy" for YouthSpeaksHawaii over HERE.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011



I prefer the terms "depression" or "meltdown"--

and here's my essay "Corporate Personhood and The Case For Reparations in 2012"
The core of the Occupy Wall Street and 99% Movement is expressed in the proposed demands #1 and #2 at http://atung.net/2011/10/17/the-99-declaration/

which are essentially the same as proposed demands #3 and #8 at http://coupmedia.org/occupywallstreet/occupy-wall-street-official-demands-2009. Another version of this demand exists at Dylan Ratigan’s www.getmoneyout.com. In short:

Congress Should Enact Legislation for Publicly Financed Elections And Reverse the Effects of the Unconstitutional Citizens United SCOTUS decision by passing an amendment to prohibit any private financing of elections and ELIMINATE "PERSONHOOD" LEGAL STATUS FOR CORPORATIONS, and restore the 14th Amendment to its original purpose.

Read more HERE.

And another essay "Why I Support Occupy Oakland’s Direct Action of 11/2/11":
In a statement released on 11/3/11, Occupy Oakland explains their logic for peacefully taking over 520 16th St, before being brutally raided by Oakland police, for the second time in two weeks. “ All across the US thousands upon thousands of commercial and residential spaces sit empty while more and more people are forced to sleep in the streets, or driven deep into poverty while trying to pay their rent despite unemployment or poverty wages.” One of these empty buildings had housed The Traveler’s Aid Society, a non-for-profit organization that provided services to the homeless but, due to cuts in government funding, lost its lease. “Given that Occupy Oakland feeds hundreds of people every day, provides them with places to sleep and equipment for doing so, involves them in maintenance of the camp (if they so choose),” on November 2nd, 2011, they decided to secure use of this building to provide the same services, at much cheaper cost to the city

Read more HERE.



I'm primarily doing music and political essays these days, trying to speak more common languages without losing any intensity....



Here's a link to a song/video about wall-street

and on HMOs



Chris Stroffolino lives in Oakland.


Monday, November 14, 2011



part of my "great recession" experience is in regards to that rather long 1980's recession .. I bought $10,000 worth of AT&T (before the split-up), WGL, Mobil Oil (before the merger), Squibb, Pan Am (my only "turkey") & one share of Berkshire Hathaway ,... now?

after re-investing all dividends, distributions and PAYING the taxes on the cap gains I am one of the very few Multi-Gazillionaire Minor American Poets !

"My “zing” will cost you, big time, Charlie!", art by Ed Baker



which recession goes with which poem ? I just don't know. I'm still trying to figure out what the hell Language Poetry is !



money money money        money money        money      mon
neu money money money money        money-money
Money Honey?      money money money money money mo
money.      "All you think about is ..... SEX !"

now? off to the grocery to buy some "day old" bread (at 1/2 price)
to use for Turkey Stiffing... I already got the turkey       at a sale Fifty-Eight cents a pound.

only need 5 days to thaw it out... I got 10 until T-Day. and you know that
a frozen turkey is fresher than a fresh turkey. frozen turkeys are frozen within 5 hours of slaughter
where as the "fresh" birds by the time they get to the grocer are at least 3 weeks old !

actually, at any price, next to hamburger turkeys are the worst garbage one can eat in or out of

              "Poets on/In The Great Recessional Crowd"



Ed Baker's got "3,221 books published & not one via a 'vanity press'. most recent: She Intrudes (Lillieput, et al), Stone Girl E-pic, (and forthcoming in Sunfish) nearly 1/2 of ARS POETIC HER"


Sunday, November 13, 2011



My feeling about the Great Recession is that it has highlighted for me two things that have always disturbed me about the American psyche: the juvenile competitiveness which is never far from the surface, and the sense that intellectuality is not valued on any level. The American media continue to represent the illusions necessary to move commodities, and refuse to acknowledge that the Great Recession is a reality. To the extent that jobs are being lost and my sector is being affected, I have noticed the polarizing nature of the Recession— that the “Occupy” movements are pulling people closer together, while weakened resources pull other social contexts apart. Living in Philly, I’ve noticed the overall morale of the city deteriorate. People go out less, and have less time for each other. Until material circumstances improve, that will probably be the case in American urban centers indefinitely.

The Schuylkill River and Center City Philly where Adam Fieled lives



The Great Recession has put me in the position of seeing levels of density and depth rather than anything crystalline. Times like these are fraught with complex realities and multiple meanings, and the poems I’ve written in the last few years reflect this. It’s also the cases that in times like these, identities have to multiply: people have more tasks, and less leisure time. Hence, I’ve found myself writing from many positions where identities are concerned, rather than sticking with a lyric “I” or the disjunctive version of the same thing.



This is a poem I wrote as an allegory. It’s meant to reflect an artist’s relationship to politics and political power, among other things:


Two hedgerows with a little path

between— to walk in the path like

some do, as if no other viable route

exists, to make Gods of hedgerows

that make your life tiny, is a sin of

some significance in a world where

hedgerows can be approached from

any side— I said this to a man who

bore seeds to an open space, and he

nodded to someone else and whistled

an old waltz to himself in annoyance.



Adam Fieled is a poet based in Philadelphia. He has released five print books: "Opera Bufa" (Otoliths, 2007), "When You Bit..." (Otoliths, 2008), "Chimes" (Blazevox, 2009), "Apparition Poems" (Blazevox, 2010), and "Equations" (blue & yellow dog press, 2011), as well as e-books like "Beams" (Blazevox, 2007), "Disturb the Universe: The Collected Essays of Adam Fieled" (Argotist e-books, 2010), and "Mother Earth" (Argotist e-books, 2011). He has work in Jacket, Cordite, Pennsound, Poetry Salzburg Review, the Argotist, Great Works, Tears in the Fence, Upstairs at Duroc, and in the & Now Awards Anthology from Lake Forest College Press. A magna cum laude graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, he also holds an MFA from New England College and an MA from Temple University.


Friday, November 11, 2011



It has been the constant sensation that things (literally) don’t add up. Expenses have moved so far out of the range of normal and salaries have stagnated for so long that your income can put you in the middle class—and yet the expenses of medical care, home ownership, child rearing, and/or retirement (just to name a few) make you economically vulnerable, force you to make impossible choices, or both.

And so our whole notion of working class/middle class/upper class has become destabilized.

To me the fact that many of us don’t actually know where we fall within the spectrum of the lower 99 percent signals a kind of economic dysmorphia that keeps us from understanding how we are both victims and beneficiaries of late capitalism. Without that knowledge, it may be impossible to imagine solutions to our current problems.



Even before the Great Recession, I was working on Utopia Minus, a book that takes its inspiration from “found monuments:” abandoned commercial properties, the remains of a bull-dozed apartment complex, the ruins of economic boom and bust.

The opening poem from that book, “The End of Another Creature,” contains the lines “The Market migrates; the Market scatters across the Metroplex./ The Market dreams…” I was responding to the constant personification of the market in the news media: “the market reacts,” “the market sheds gains,” etc. I wanted to explore that personification further. Who would the Market be? I imagined this bumbling baby-boomer and turned him into the central character for the chapbook, The Market is a Parasite that Looks Like a Nest. I don’t think the market is bumbling, but in a post-boomer generation, you grow up with the rhetoric of idealism, the War on Poverty, for example. To see how far we've come from that idealism to this radical inequality suggests an impotency as well as irresponsibility that was appropriate for the character I created.

As the recession cut deeper, I looked for a way to demonstrate how the stock market seemed to lord over us all, whether we were invested or not. I began recording the closing number of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Then I plugged that number into search engines: Google, Project Gutenberg, Bartlett's, even an e-version of Paradise Lost. I let those searches lead me to texts and let those texts exert their influence over a series of poems much in the same way the closing number of the Dow exerts an influence over our lives. I am finishing a full-length manuscript from this project under the working title $INDU or Ghost Numbers.

At a time when people are in the streets standing up against the economic system, it’s important to question poetry’s role in this movement/moment. What can poetry do? Sometimes I want to call for a new confessional—an economic confessional. What’s in your bank account, Poet? Who paid for your down payment? What do you owe? It’s not about getting at any kind of smug epiphany or feeling sorry for ourselves, but we have to locate our place in an economic continuum before we can honestly define our needs, understand the needs of others, activate our sympathies, act for change.



From Utopia Minus:


             central set of 8 steps to the courtyard,
             small rock garden,
             kidney-shaped pool, 8-feet deep,
             blue flox, purple crepe myrtle,
             white plastic laundry basket
             in a parking lot beyond cyclone fence
             Apartments for Rent
             1-3 Months Free Arignon Realty,
             railroad ties, cracked foundation,
             It’s all George’s fault in black spray-paint,
             and black-eyed Susans
             to which I feel no relation

From The Market is a Parasite that Looks like a Nest

The Market scowls,
crosses the street against traffic, settles, hovers
over a spread-sheet with his administrative assistant
as if it were an infant, sleeps in another bed
after 3 ½ years of marriage,
can only sleep on half of the bed
after 43 years of marriage, sees a coffin
in shop window, grows nostalgic
for shop windows on crowded city streets
where men made picture frames, repaired
television sets, piled tools in doorways, nursed
machines to roast and grind coffee,
a press to print newspaper. The Market wants to apprentice,
cannot apprentice, looks like a nest in a tree. The Market
is the parasite that looks like a nest in a tree, howls
through the ventilation system, hairless, blind, a newborn
calf sleeping on your chest, the curdling Market
whose milk has come in.

"Sprawl"--photo came from a random google image search and later used on the cover of Susan's chapbook, The Market is a Parasite That Looks Like A Nest

From $INDU or Ghost Numbers :


I thought if I wrote it all down, if I tracked it, if I consulted tickers and windows, measured blood flow, read the rise and fall of my accounts, the tarnish of leaves,

I would see the world differently

a veil would tear, a web would sparkle dew strung, rope bridge
between dead-living-unborn

a newspaper would curl at the bottom of the driveway, inverted pyramids of morning,
to capture the innocuous day

I thought I could feel these numbers in my hands like Whitman at the rail of a ferry
gauging the vibrations of an entire nation

networks of pop and ping, 40 years of economics.

The Dow rose above 10,000.
My dog scratched his ear. Numbers lay down in their ledgers.
Rains cleared, but the cold arrived. The unborn kept their distance.
A lamp buzzed on its timer.
I made a dinner of brown rice, buttercup squash and kale.

             some [thing event] or my body in its [suchness]

(Poem first appeared in the journal 1913)



Poet, translator and essayist, Susan Briante is the author of two collections of poetry: Utopia Minus (Ahsahta Press 2011) and Pioneers in the Study of Motion (Ahsahta Press 2007). Of her most recent collection, Publisher’s Weekly writes: “this book finds an urgent language for the world in which we live.” Briante’s poetry has appeared most recently in Canteen, Third Coast, and 1913. She has also published a series of essays on the relationship between place and cultural memory some of which can be found in Creative NonFiction, Rethinking History and The Believer. She is an assistant professor of creative writing and literature at The University of Texas at Dallas.


Thursday, November 10, 2011



I have to go back to another earlier economic downturn to answer more precisely. 2003: I was in my mid-20s, and had already sunk a few years as an analyst for companies like Bear Stearns and Wells Fargo. My last “full time job” was in a small HR [human resources] consulting firm that eventually got bought by another giant financial services company. From a funky warehouse space in San Francisco’s Portrero Hill, the company moved to 2nd and Market...

Simply put, at some point, getting up to take the 8 AM express bus downtown to sit in a gray cubicle all day filled me with nothing but dread. At that time, I had only been writing for a couple of years and also wanted to start taking myself ‘more seriously’ as a writer. So I quit, with no definite plans than to substitute teach and get odd office jobs off of Craigslist. Despite a weak job market, I eked out a very modest living for the next couple of years until I started establishing more stable and fulfilling freelance work doing medical and legal translation, research, consulting for small local businesses, teaching Tagalog and in poetry-in-the-schools.

I prefaced with all of that because I honestly think I would have been more adversely affected in this current recession, as a poet and a freelancer, if I didn’t have those years when I had to teach myself to use all possible resources I have so I could have both a livelihood and a creative life. That meant learning when to choose time over money and vice versa. That meant sitting down and taking stock of what I could really do that people would pay for (working with languages and numbers, yes; writing poems full time, no, not directly at least). That meant dividing my brain and days into compartments so I could be focused and able to work on several very different projects at once, including working on poems.

It continues to be a dynamic, exhilarating, often chaotic way to support myself, but maybe that has also made my profession(s) more recession-resilient over time. And it’s been a useful training on trust, foolishness and calculated recklessness—something hopefully transferrable to poetry. I don’t think I’d ever want to work a 9-5 again.



Every day, I encounter small-mid size businesses hurting badly, friends who’d been laid off and unable to find new work, schools that ran out of money to spend on arts education. In my translation work: patients who are very sick and running out of health care coverage, families and elderly people lining up for food stamps and cash aid, Filipinos promised work here that disappeared once they’ve arrived, and now face immigration issues—it is almost inevitable that my creative work will be influenced by this recession in particular, and the role of economics in our lives, in general. I’ve been circling around poems and writing that explore ‘work’ for some time now, and I have a couple of new poems on the subject which I hope will evolve into a bigger body of work.


I’ve to include here that when I visited Manila last May (2011), I felt over there a lot more financial optimism and economic activity than I’ve seen here in the U.S. for years—as in people continually spending money on food, goods, each other (I had many gracious hosts). As in shopping places, bars, restaurants filled to capacity on many late random weeknights, sky-high condos being squeezed into already packed cities. It stuck with me and I finally heard a commentary about it on NPR some weeks ago—countries in Asia experiencing these vibrant new economies, and the long term social effects that are yet to be seen (there are now restaurants and malls that open specifically all night, and some only at night, for instance, to accommodate call center workers in night shifts)

Come November 5th, Bank Transfer Day, I knew I wanted to do something, to participate in a concrete albeit small way, somehow—but I’ve come to know the employees of the neighborhood big bank I wanted to move my money out from. So some kind of guilt, or something, prevented me from doing it in person. When I called the 888 number to do it over the phone, a call center in Manila took the call. I couldn’t do it, at least for a few days. I thought of the relative economic prosperity there compared to the relative economic misery over here, and felt that no one answer will ever be very simple. (I still moved funds to a SF credit union in the end.)

Karen Llagas sharing poems at a reading



Below is a poem in progress, a couple of years old now—

Lament in a Boardroom

            Look for me under your bootsoles...

For those who did, I’m not talking to
or about you. No, this is about those
who’ve looked along the wisps
of two hundred dollar hair trims.

For us whose here and now
is a loyal wife who packs
her husband’s bags
while he paces the bedroom,
always in heat. (Honey I have desires
only the future can fulfill)

For us who have nothing left
to say about grace,
except that it can’t be graphed—

            And to desire—we
couldn’t look you in the eye,
but we’d be happy to collect your tatters.

Here are pictures
of babies, nephews, cream-
colored shores.

Let no one say
it’s just about the money,
that slender,
grief-stricken thing,
so thirsty for company,

oh how you kept me
glued to my seat all those years
I should have been collecting
the dirt under my shoes.
I can still hear your soft voice—

(The world? Someone else
will say goodbye to it.)



Karen Llagas is the recipient of the second Filamore Tabios, Sr. Memorial Poetry Prize, and her first collection of poetry, Archipelago Dust, was published by Meritage Press in 2010. She has an MFA from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers and a BA in Economics from Ateneo de Manila. Also a recipient of a Hedgebrook residency and a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize, she lives in San Francisco where she works as a Tagalog interpreter & instructor, and a poet-teacher with the California Poets in the Schools (CPITS).


Wednesday, November 9, 2011



The Great Recession

Steadily employed for more than twenty-four years.
Then one day, my supervisor called me into her office.
I was laid off.
Let go, downsized, RIF’d.
It all means the same thing.
Kicked off the Cube Farm.
Funny how those dusty rose plastic walls that felt so confining suddenly
seemed so comforting, as I took a last look at them,
and hugged my banker’s box to my chest.

Terror. Shock. Cautious optimism. Crushing disappointment.
I had to make myself take a shower.
I scanned the want ads online, every day.
I pondered how to fix chicken yet another way.
I lived lifetimes of anxiety in an hour.

I became a part of the quiet crowd haunting the unemployment office.
One day I was told, no more benefits.
I emailed every recruiter I knew and said OK, I will take ANYTHING…
that doesn’t involve illegal activity or nudity.

Contract assignments came and went.
It’s a buyer’s market I was told, again and again.

Year one, we didn’t buy new clothes or eat out much.
Year two, we didn’t get the car fixed or go on vacation.
Heading into year three of uncertainty,
I prayed, please let me keep the house…

Finally, two years down the road, a real permanent job, but only part time,
And making far less money, but still -
To have somewhere to go, every day, a reason to bathe?

The front patio at Dee's house, for which she "prayed, please let me keep the house...", with "my flowers I put out there every summer. I like it because it looks peaceful."



The recession hasn't affected my poetry negatively, since I now have more time to write since I'm not working full-time.



[Note: The recipe within this poem is a real recipe.]


Who is not comforted by eggs and cheese?
The following should be cooked on a Sunday night,
When food is about comfort.

Take an onion and chop it up fine.
Throw it in a pan of butter, salt, and pepper.
Saute away, til it’s translucent and soft.
Smile as the delicious smell wafts through the house.

Heat the oven to Hi broil. Crack open the door.

Look in your fridge for veggies on the verge
Of rubber horror.
Open the veggie drawer.
Pick and choose.
What to use?

Mushrooms – yes.
Ham or turkey lunchmeat – yes.
Cauliflower and carrots – no.
Broccoli? No!
Lettuce – don’t even think it.
See a beer?
Drink it.

Chop. Throw it all in with the onions.
Add some garlic powder, seasoning salt, a drop of Tabasco.
Hum your favorite song.
How did that tune go?

Pull out the eggs. Crack four in a bowl and beat them
with a fork, until foamy and subdued.
Eyeball the simmering veggie mixture. Inhale.
Throw in another egg. Pour it over all.
Cook over low medium as the mixture sets.
Don’t walk away and forget.

Open the fridge.
Look for cheese. Not feta. Not blue.
Almost any other kind will do.
Preferably grated.
Place the skillet into the oven and watch.
Pull it out –
before you really think it’s done.

Cover everything liberally with cheese.
Abundant cheese.
Put the skillet back under the broiler, briefly.
Stand and watch.

Pull it out and serve it on paper plates, with a dill pickle garnish, if you must.

Put on a bathrobe and fuzzy slippers before eating.

Frittata. Free-TAH-tah. Savor the sound.

It’s a one dish meal



Dee Thompson was born in Augusta, Georgia and raised primarily in Knoxville, Tennessee. She has been writing for more than twenty-five years and her first published poem appeared in a national magazine at the age of thirteen. Dee holds a degree in Drama from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in Creative Writing from the University of Tennessee. She is a published author of three books: a personal memoir Adopting Alesia, a children’s book, Jack’s New Family, and a juvenile adventure e- book The Warrior's Box. One of her essays appeared in the award winning book Call Me Okaasan, [Edited by Suzanne Kamata.] She also has an essay in Snowflakes: A Flurry of Adoption Stories [Editor Teresa Kelleher], and her poetry appears regularly on the Vox Poetica website. Additionally, Dee has been a daily blogger for more than six years and her blog [The Crab Chronicles] has a wide readership. Dee lives with her son and her mother in Atlanta, and enjoys gardening, cooking, knitting, reading, and movies.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011



I have three jobs.

I am an adjunct professor, and this semester, I teach two classes: Filipino Literature in the Yuchengco Philippine Studies Program at University of San Francisco, and MFA workshop at Mills College. I teach two late afternoons/evenings a week. Next semester, I will teach at San Francisco State University and USF. These positions are offered to me, and I can’t say no. Discussing Filipino literature with young folks and teaching poetry workshop are a joy to me.

I have a M-F, 9-5 job, a non-profit, public health job where I’ve been for over 11 years. I worked elsewhere before this, and have worked full time while in college and in grad school. Balancing poetry and economics has always been a part of my life. I am an administrator, auditor, paper monkey in a fluorescent cubicle.

The benefits of a full time job are a decent salary and, yes, benefits -- health insurance and a 401(K), which I have not looked at since before the recession, since I withdrew all kinds of money from it to make a down payment on my home.

I bought before the housing bubble burst. It was my mom’s insistence and expectation that, upon finishing grad school, I buy myself a home. She helped me out immensely.

I am a poet. I make very little money as a poet; honoraria and royalties are insignificant to my annual income, and this is fine. I am married to a poet, who, like me, also has a job outside of the arts. We’ve just bought a Prius, because it made more sense to do this, rather than continue to succumb to the increasing costs of gas, and for regular and costly auto repairs on the old hooptie.

We have been able to contribute to our favorite non-profits arts orgs.

We’re doing better than alright; our life is stable, safe, comfortable, quiet.

In order for us to do better than alright, I have three jobs, and this is not a complaint. Sometimes, I feel like I’m being greedy, given the nation’s unemployment rate, and that many have been out of work for a long time, something I just could not bear.

We live in Oakland, where the world has just witnessed the OPD brutalize thousands of peaceful Occupy Oakland protestors. Now that Occupy Everywhere is happening, now that a general strike has been called, I am torn, wanting to support, needing to work.

I don’t want Poetry to get lost in all of this.

I don’t have an answer yet, where my own poetry fits. I write when I can, and submit to publications when I can. In lieu of expensive travel, I Skype to talk poetics with classes who are reading my books.

I try my best to open up venues and opportunities for writers and artists as a working board member and readings/workshop series curator for PAWA (Philippine American Writers and Artists), as co-editor of Doveglion Press, as a letter of recommendation writer, book blurber, book reviewer. It’s challenging to have artists constantly asking for, demanding, or expecting stuff from me, and posturing when I don’t have the time or energy to take something new on.

I believe that surviving this recession as an artist requires that artists do away with a sense of entitlement, and that we not treat one another merely as resources/contacts.

I continue to believe in gift economy, e-publication, and digital print, and am thinking about zero capital models, whatever means of mutual support and reciprocity for artists, in order to keep Poetry in the world.



I will pass on the poem, since I don't think I have anything specifically related.



Barbara Jane Reyes is the author of Gravities of Center, Poeta en San Francisco, and Diwata. She teaches Philippine Studies at University of San Franciso, and Filipino American Literature at San Francisco State University. Find her online at http://www.barbarajanereyes.com/


Monday, November 7, 2011



Hi Eileen, This is a not-quite-poem/hardly essay that I wrote in some frustration last year as a stay-at-home/underemployed (ha!) mom, after turning down an invitation to the Women's Innovative Poetry & Cross-Genre Work Festival. Thanks for creating this space. Elizabeth

on not going to the conference in London

I’m tired of talking about women.
I’d rather talk about men.
How they are coddled creatively.
Their absurd, obtuse visions.

And, more sympathetically, how
male dominance obscures
the true contributions of men
as well as women.

Also I don’t have enough money,
and even less affiliation.

And I have two girl babies
who need me closer to home
these years.

And I love them.


Elizabeth Treadwell with her daughters



Elizabeth Treadwell's books include LILYFOIL + 3 (O Books, 2004) and Birds & Fancies (Shearsman, 2007). Virginia or the mud-flap girl is forthcoming from Dusie Books in 2012. She is online at elizabethtreadwell.com.


Sunday, November 6, 2011



I'm looking at people differently, trying to have more compassion when someone is unkind in the grocery store; maybe this is a hard trip, full of difficult decisions. Feeling blessed for having food stamps while I'm unemployed; making fancy dinners is now a routine, it never was before. I'm writing differently too; having to take on more & more awful technical and bland article writing jobs to pay the bills, which will be going up (heat in winter in the Rocky Mountains is tricky; we collect a lot of firewood too). Technical writing feels more like long division than actual writing, so I keep my real notebook close at hand throughout. Oh yes I should mention I've been without a real job, that you go to every day, for two years and change. I finished my MFA last December, am around $80 grand in debt and have just applied to an art education BA program, because it seems like federal aid to students is about to implode and this may be my last chance to take more classes. And I do need them, to drag my life's work of collage and book making somewhere else, out of boxes to a more joyful place, a high school classroom maybe. And also, I'm desperate for health insurance, like some fifty million other Americans.

“corporate personhood,” 2011 gouache painting by Erin Virgil



It's affected my poethics more than my poems. I was just in Washington DC visiting an old friend, and we passed by and talked with many people camped out, Occupying. I wanted to embrace everyone there, for being so brave—I can't stay out in a public place overnight, old neurosis and flashbacks return quickly: run-ins with authority, juvenile offenses, etc—I really feel that people standing up and shouting, especially across generations and other social boundaries, is the crucial path out of this corporate owned hell we're in. A nice older lady in our co-op yesterday: "It's going to be just like the French Revolution, I can't wait!" Writing is important too; letters to the editor are still extremely useful mind openers, and so are poems. I just haven't written that many yet, maybe because I've been so weighted down with technical writing junk jobs.



I wrote this one a few weeks ago:

Yellow aspen

are the only visible evidence of the month.
The heat and exhaust are the same
as they were before Solstice
fear & worry lines all around the grocery store
    no aisle without a pursed mouth.
Afraid of the transition, not the end. The lessening, what will
    be lost, caught on a nail and abandoned.
On the sidewalk a woman with a basket rushes by:
relief when it’s empty. This is a new reckoning. Babies never made me sad before.
    Scarcity means less things and more time to miss them.
    September means ‘seventh month’ of the Roman calendar
which further confuses the chronology this afternoon.

I want to report that as the aspens slowly went bare
the people too, changed gradually

Calming pushing back
against all that is unnatural.



Erin Virgil is a poet and collage artist living in northern Colorado. She's got one book ("Poems, Volume one") published and available at Amazon, and has a little blog too, http://emvlovely.wordpress.com.


Saturday, November 5, 2011



There was a lucky part of the Great Recession; it made the poetry part of my life much bigger. In 2009, a notice went around work (I work at middle-sized public university in financial aid and do all sorts of financial literacy counseling for student borrowers in order to keep the default rate low) that asked people to volunteer to reduce their work hours as a way to save the campus money. I’ve always been good about living below my means and socking away money into my retirement, so I raised my hand to participate. I now work a four-day workweek (in exchange for a 20% pay cut), and get to keep my health benefits (which is important as my husband is self-employed). I don’t save extra retirement money anymore (which is somewhat worrisome), but it seems like an okay swap for now.

I worked this new schedule in 2009 and 2010. When my assistant had to take a medical leave in 2010, I went back to five days for a while, but now it’s back. It’s been a fluid win-win for my workplace and me all around.

I now have three uninterrupted days in a row every week to go down any poetic or artistic rabbit hole I choose.

The schedule leaves me with time to pursue all my “poetic feast” activities (the idea being that if we all add something to our poetic world, to our poetic feast, we have all sorts of amazing and delicious things to dine on – Reb Livingston is just one of the many generous poetry people who teaches this by her example). So I can curate a reading series; co-curate an electronic journal; and co-edit (with Deborah Poe and Sam Truitt) an anthology-in-progress of local innovative poetry. I’ve also been working on a longterm collaboration with the architect and visual poet Scott Helmes, and finally got around to making a blogged archive of my visual art. I am also President of Century House Historical Society, home to the Widow Jane Mine in Rosendale, NY, where we have all sorts of arts programming in this natural amphitheater space (including 21 years of the “Subterranean Poetry Festival”).

And of course, there are my own poetic and visual adventures: poetry, artist’s book and object making, encaustic painting, printmaking...

The Great Recession set up a situation where I can say “yes” to many, many things that make my own work bigger.

Detail from an "Untitled BookBoxObject"; more info HERE



"We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave ....You can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark —that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”
- Hunter Thompson

I live near the Hudson River and have spent a ridiculous amount of time trolling its shores, collecting all sorts of things it tumbles and spits out. Hundreds of broken blue insulator pieces, pieces of dishes, odd glass. My best find ever was a single porcelain doll’s arm that I wore on a chain for many years. I also spent many summers on the Jersey Shore doing the same thing: searching for the beautifully seaworn and broken.

This rogue financial wave that broke over all of us left a flamboyant and appalling wreckage that we can play with in our work. I am definitely exploring new things, shaped by new tools since the Great Recession. Its wave washed in, and now I’m faced with all this incomprehensible flotsam that bobs around the internet and I’m making found-object art out of it. I know the Flarf folks have been doing this for years, but now I’m compelled to work with it too, spurred on by my friend Lynn Behrendt’s honest and challenging work with these materials.



Elvis was an electric zoo, burnt belly fat

(after my poem “Ella Etruscan Olives Burnt and Sien(n)a” – as suggested by Google)

Moss enchanted language tombs
The gods wear jewelry on their museum visits
What were their origins?
What was their outlook on the afterlife?
Oracle ointment, pentacost, Orientalizing periods

How many calories are in New York?

The tongue offers a sugared money, a sienna-ed sun
Indifference burned and smelled like antifreeze
Angulate tortoises, blistered lips
Peace bruised sin in the dictionary
This shocking story was shattered and soggy with virgin swimmings
And since you can’t escape me, do I ever cross your mind?
And since I am dead I can take off my head
My name in math, in nougatine
Nouvelle vague, a bias generator
Birds mimic the sympathetic nervous system
Matter is classified as a pair of boots
Her fact practice, shards of vinyl spirits donate their bones

The day passed like a chapter summary
Only steers and queers come from Texas
Only straight girls wear dresses
Only one state has no McDonalds
Only one state has no national park
Only stupid cows text and drive
Time became stale with stunt bikes
There are online stuttering activities in maroon
Morale-grey, cyber-November is the color of noodles

Nightingales weep at the consequence of meaning
How do I capitalize the moon?
How can I keep from singing? Or slapping?
How can I get taller? Or make more money?
How clean is my house? How could my hair grow faster?
Could my saucepans bring on menopause?
Black sunburned purple yellow
Closed, washed out, blurry, watering, beyond seeing, bleeding
Are your eyes too small for contacts? Can your eyes be transplanted to a friend?
Pawn stars, recruited and funky, be my escape

Facebook is a tickfree field

When bored or reading, dieting, ovulating, raining, running
the weather is thirsty for Adderall
When they are caught, they are thrown away
Do our jobs reminisce over us after we’re gone?
These lines should be caged at night
Flying dramawiki noble masters made of meat
Eggmen tucked into cannons
Zombie imitators are also sons of god

Charming gardeners of the underworld
Are thongs comfortable? Are the seasons capitalized?
Are the Poughkeepsie Tapes real? Are the Knicks in the playoffs?
Are the colon and the large intestine the same thing?
Coyotes are moving to Winnipeg

                  Stars from hottest to coolest
                  Star Trek uniforms
                  Starling eggs

Starless and sunless ballrooms, and their failed light

Smoothing methods, statistical manifold, sampling theorem
This is a notational form of decay
He subtracts from her surface brightness
Optic citation, meridian, her belly her skin
On Monday or in Monday grammar
Throw best price thresher shark
The miles are threadless, thrillist
Let’s throw knives and throw pillows at her cancer
Struggle tabs, her blood was silver
Sloe slip rings, sliding doors, slant drilling
Dressed in slats, strangle wisteria
What materials are your fingernails made of?
Widows weaving wreathes, wattle whistle, wide brimmed
She said, “Money is like us”
Mooncake phases, a sonata, a palace filled with chattal
Swoon, sow, sorrow
Two slowniks sewn together – what is their moonsign compatibility?
Snow White, her salted lovesickness, wings and roots
Curating Tanya’s disasterous electric circuits
A taxidermied alchemist teaching lesson in Go
Bourbon under the stars
A halophile is responsible for spoiling juices
Egyptian agriculture, washing pictures, Moses wasps

                  A traveller’s anthology
                  A god
                  A history
                  A novel
                  A river

Turner painted the water in our bodies as
porcelain graphite castles
There is an ossification in Bone Lick Park
An ivory orchard full of oracles, possibly tucked in
Wig runescape, cracked wasabi, glass powder
The rain on your skin and you do it anyway
This song is sick and this why you are fat
It might be that I’m holding your hand but holding it a little too loose
Fossils and towels, the smell of shade
A town called Alice or Panic
A cocktail of sand, brainticket black, pineal gland
Lightheaded, sequential type unconnected, sensebowl
Surroundsushi, superfood suppression
Both atomic bombs, 4 years on an island, his wife, a tornado, rabies
Neverland necrotizes, an unmediated decay
The 10 commandments or 10 things I hate about you or 10 ragas to a disco beat
10 raw eggs, 10 raw potatoes with a longjaw mud snapper
Linseed oil and lemon bars and lettuce wraps

There are some letters spacing out in every word
There is a white heart whispered in every story
Name when all the continents were together
Name when you die
Name when I arrive
Name when a bowl is not microwave safe

A billion Chinese jump and one body part is injured – which one?
Lemons, white rice, pebbles and moss, cherries, onions
Her arms amputated around me
Heavy weak numb tired tingly on fire, like home
They are asleep, they are burning,
Something is stuck in my throat, in my eye
Somebody is stuck in my chest, is crawling on my skin, is staring at me, is biting me
The structure of falling asleep, in my rearview seas



Photo by Elizabeth Bryant

Anne Gorrick is the author of I-Formation (Book One) (Shearman Books, 2010), the forthcoming I-Formation (Book Two), and Kyotologic (also from Shearsman Books, 2008). She collaborated with artist Cynthia Winika to produce a limited edition artists’ book, “Swans, the ice,” she said, funded by the Women’s Studio Workshop in Rosendale, NY and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Images of her visual art can be found at www.theropedanceraccompaniesherself.blogspot.com