Month: August 2016

Poem for My First Love

  Seven months into my 80th birthday I slip back in time I’m driving down highway one where California’s fertile hills wink at me Giant trees and seashore become one cloud banks ride the horizon like Red Cloud rode the plains in search of the last buffalo Sweet mangos and watermelon wine sweet as cotton candy stuck to the roots of my tongue fed my youth nourished my spirit the poem the language in my soul Your body indented against mine hot as an iron pressed to a garment youthful hunger that knew no bounds feasted like a condemned...

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  The email was welcomed, when it arrived visibly but silently on the screen of Gilbert Fitzwilliams’ computer, like the first crocus of spring; small, insignificant considered by itself, a minor blessing but one to be cherished nonetheless:   Gil— I spoke to Cami and she loved your piece on Stevie Smith versus Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton. Precisely the sort of fresh perspective (I won’t say ‘clickbait’) we’re looking for. We’ll run it in next week’s issue as your first column. We’re working on a graphic for you, which we’ll send you for approval soon. Pay per piece...

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Wide-Eyed to the World

  The farmhouse floats, an island in a sea of rape. From a bus labouring on high roads you gaze down at a boreen, visible now, snaking through an ocean of amarillo. The Van Gogh scene reminds you of our recent holiday in Spain. I too glance at this vision of rustic Carlow, but on a different canvas. Beneath stalking seeds crawlies slither and sting,   earthworms excavate zigzags that loosen foundations faster and more efficiently than wartime tunnels. Above ground, flaps of dried muck on flattened soil; filthy brown luggage straps to lift the lid off cruel earth....

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Watch What Develops

    I have never been to Coney Island yet the Ferris wheel in sepia-drenched pictures, the greenish tint of old Polaroids, the relics rendered in black and white fills me with a past I will never know. And yet it is mine, a ghost that speaks my name as if I’d been there, haunted by rides I never took, the fun I never had.     Michelle Brooks has published a collection of poetry, Make Yourself Small, (Backwaters Press), and a novella, Dead Girl, Live Boy, (Storylandia Press). A native Texan, she has spent much of her adult...

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Carousel Court by Joe McGinniss Jr.

  John Cheever was a surrealist but I think the suburbs made him crazy which allowed him to write they way he did. Raymond Carver presented a sculpted world littered with chiseled drunks, sloppy whores, baby killers, lovesick lovers, unwashed truckers, and belligerent bakers – never mind the loners down to their last bone marrow transplant. I re-read Carver’s Vitamins whenever I get down in the mouth about my fiction and that fills me with hope. I dare add, A.M. Homes is an heir to these suburban chestnuts, a daughter born out the bonfire they created. I refuse to overlook Richard Yates in this conversation. You don’t read him, because he’s already read you. Disturbing the Peace is a fever dream and Revolutionary Road is one of the best books I have ever read. I try not to think in absolutes, but that one is hard to argue. James Wood certainly makes a case for arguing it (he likes to hear himself talk, smart guy, but saying Revolutionary Road is a great book is like telling me Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream from Friendly’s is great, no kidding!), in his essay about Richard Yates in The Fun Stuff. What James Wood specifically points to when it comes to Richard Yates is what feels like a reversal by Joe McGinnis Jr., which is prominently on display in his blistering new...

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