A Desire To Be Liked By C.C. Russell

People
don’t have different pasts.

We’re all homeless
    (a particular set of circumstances).

“I’m here to make friends.”

I could hold my own there.
   It wasn’t lost on me.

I’m still not sure how it started.

 

Source: The Girls Guide to Homelessness: A Memoir by Brianna Karp, page 122

Method: I was in the middle of a long stretch of writer’s block.  To get out of the doldrums, I began attempting to write in various places around town – just in the hopes that a change of scenery would make the muse curious enough to come near me again.  I tried coffee shops, restaurants, various public and private spaces.  While at the public library struggling with the blank page in front of me, I began to scan the stacks for the words of others.  I had read quite a bit of erasure poetry but had never tried my hand at it.  I picked out a couple of books somewhat randomly from nearby my table and quickly took to disassembling them.  Most of those first day attempts were bad – really bad.  But this one came quite smoothly (and nearly whole in its first pass, surprisingly enough).   Happily, working my way through revising this piece broke open a few lines of my own for the first time in a long time as well.

C.C. Russell lives in Wyoming with his wife and daughter. His writing has appeared in such places as Wyvern Lit,  Rattle, Word Riot, The Cimarron Review, and The Colorado Review.  He has also lived in New York and Ohio. 

Geneva Convention Erasure By Robbie Gamble


Forcible deportations of persons
from the territory of Power are a given
if security so demands.

 Such evacuations involve
the displacement of persons
outside the bounds of material reason. 

It is impossible
to avoid such displacement. 

Persons evacuated shall be
transferred back to their hostilities. 

To the greatest practicable extent,
satisfactory conditions of hygiene,
health, safety and nutrition
are separated and taken.

The Power shall protect
an area of security
imperative on its own population.

 

Source: Fourth Geneva Convention (1949), p. 185, Article 49: Deportations, Transfers, Evacuations.

Method: Erasure, keeping the existing word sequence intact. In the wake of the recent inauguration, with the new administration’s attempt to put in place a Muslim travel ban, I looked through the documents of the Geneva Convention to see what existing international law had to say about the treatment of refugees and the deportation of civilians. As I read through these texts I could sense words falling away, revealing a new intention. 

Bio: Robbie Gamble is a poet and a nurse practitioner who has cared for homeless and undocumented people for many years in Boston, Massachusetts. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Writers Resist, The American Journal of Poetry, and Poet Lore.

Ethan Frome Poem By Bill Yarrow

screen capture of Ethan Frome Poem by Bill Yarrow

 

Source: Preface to Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

Method: My method for crafting my found poems involves setting rhythmic text from public-domain works in a visual pattern or in an established verse form.

Bill Yarrow, Professor of English at Joliet Junior College and an editor at the online journal Blue Fifth Review, is the author of The Vig of Love, Blasphemer, Pointed Sentences, and five chapbooks. His work also appears in Aeolian Harp, Volume One and Beginnings: How 14 Poets Got Their Start.

Shadows the Words By Mark A. McCutcheon

SHADOWS THE WORDS

How old is your ardor?
everything feels afterwards
And if echoes are shadows
The words in the storm
have no word for ocean, but if you live here
Eventually the birds become
record player. Electric & spinning.

 

Sources and Method: This cento, which is also an acrostic, consists of one line taken from each of the following poems (in order of appearance): Kathleen Ossip’s Your Ardor; Philip Schultz’s Afterwards; Sarah Eliza Johnson’s Combustion; Noelle Kocot’s On being an artist; Philip Levine’s Our Valley; Adam Clay’s Our Daily Becoming; and Julia Cohen’s In the dark we crush.

Mark A. McCutcheon teaches and researches postcolonial popular culture and copyright at Athabasca University. He has published poetry and fiction in literary journals like subTerrain, Existere, Carousel, and Kaleidotrope. His critical research on copyright has appeared in English Studies in Canada, Digital Studies, and Popular Music, among other scholarly journals and books.

Walking is Not Walking by Kathleen Galvin

 

Walking is Not Walking

Not in this blind tangle of growing, dying
and dead things all mixed and mingled
an impossible mass with a strange springiness,
that gurgles, rolls and grabs, full of moving things,
little and big, everywhere soft, rotting, slippery,
an oily mush of roots, stalks and vines, overhung
with great masses of living and dead vegetation
hanging to the ground, mixing with things growing up:
no fixed surface, nothing to call ground. Hard to believe
that far, far below there must be rock. Eternities
of dead things, rooted through with living things,
a thousand feet from rock to sky.

 

This is what looked from the air so even
and green, a soft green blanket.

 

Source: This is from a collection of found poems elicited from my late father’s journals and letters while he was an officer and infantryman in Vietnam and Cambodia. My father served two tours during the Vietnam War, from 1966-67 and 1969-70. He earned the Silver Star and various other commendations.

Method: I have extracted images and passages from my father’s letters, notebooks, and papers—adapting his language and visuals for poetic forms (one image of several of his notebooks attached for interest). Each poem adapts one or more of his passages, contemporaneous with wartime experience. My father, General John R. Galvin (USA, Ret.), made a career in the military, retiring from the U.S. Army in 1992 after a final assignment as Supreme Allied Commander Europe, head of NATO forces, at that time 16 nations. He published four books, including a 2015 memoir, whose publication I assisted extensively as his health failed. My father had a writer’s eye for telling details of combat and deployment. The poem represents a portion of a larger body of work I consider our posthumous collaboration.

Kathleen Galvin is completing a graduate degree in creative writing. Her work adapts language and imagery from the wartime journals of her late father, General John R. Galvin (USA, Ret.), including papers that informed his final book, “Fighting the Cold War: A Soldier’s Memoir” (University Press of Kentucky, 2015).

 

 

The Book of Icons By Katie Manning

all that remains of Second Chronicles

the people
attacked
God
bound him with bronze
in his temple
and carried him off

he became
evil

he did evil
in the spring
he reigned in
evil

the eyes of the LORD
became stiff
and would not turn

the people became more and more

their ancestors sent word
pity

they set fire to God

power
enjoyed
its desolation
and
put it in writing

 

Source: Last chapter of Second Chronicles

Method: I’m tired of people taking language from the Bible out of context and using it as a weapon, so I’m taking language from the Bible out of context to make art.

Katie Manning is the founding Editor-in-Chief of Whale Road Review and an Associate Professor of Writing at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. Her full-length poetry collection, Tasty Other, won the 2016 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award. Find her at www.katiemanningpoet.com.

LAST SHOW by Melanie Browne

 

Such a waste
So sad
Being held down
By some intense pressure
Jaws grinding hard and eyes pinned
Going through the motions
Strangely inconsistent
The pain that caused the noose
Why great people fall to Earth
Enter into glory
Clearly something is wrong
Holy shit
Rest in peace
Too soon for me to watch
Maybe next week

 

Source : YouTube comments under a Soundgarden concert video

Method: Some of the grieving fans comments were beautiful. I gathered them into a poem.

Melanie Browne is a poet and fiction writer living in Texas.

Note from the Editor: We’d like to dedicate today’s post to Chris Cornell, his family and friends, and all his fans.

The Scent of Unity By Rebecca Parker

It’s not alien abduction,
a mediation of chemical processes:

it hurts, it feels awesome,
cerebral preferences,
each to their own.

Oxytocin, chemicals and pheromones
give you a queasy feeling
That’s love!!!
Screw love!

Every moleculewears off
the beats of your heart;

I would have traded my life
for 30 years of the scent of unity,

a heightened sense
after infatuation,
a transformation
deeply deep.

You still get nervous to this day,
you covet stability,
shopping for groceries,
buy a dog
they usually last 12 years.

Surrender.
Zero score.

A hot metal rod slowly ripping your skin off,
it can cool down,
leave you cold,
it will never be the same,
a waste of time and energy
Honestly.

If they had no limbs on their body you would still stick with them for ever.
You think about them sometimes, and you hope they are happy.

The object of such an enthusiasm
it’s an evolutionary gift,
a hoax created by poets,
a taste,
just a WORD,
life’s one sole purpose –

that’s my opinion on love.

Source: Words borrowed from the first page of Yahoo Answers threads asking, What is love?

Method: My method for constructing the poem was to simply scour these threads and pick out fragments from the answers. I put them together wondering if, by distilling these crowd-sourced definitions from the most earnest people on the internet, I would accidentally get an accurate answer to the question. I corrected some misspellings, except where the misspellings formed existing words (as in ‘scent’).

Rebecca Parker is a writer and proofreader from north-west England, living in Scotland. She has recently joined the small team of an independent publisher of poetry pamphlets, and her own poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction have appeared in a number of online and print publications.

Pink Whale With Green Legs by Wesley James / Wren James

Source: schoolwork from my four-year-old son (wesley). he drew a picture and was asked by his schoolteacher to explain it. his explanation was transcribed and sent home along with the picture.

 

Method: reading through the schoolwork, i thought the last line was pretty heavy. he can talk heavy. he doesn’t want songs before bed. he wants to talk. i had seen “Mother Star” by Shawn McClure and i thought about editing his explanation of his schoolwork drawing into a poem. the words are in the same order as he said them originally; i just cut some out and cropped a bit. i shared the poem with him and told him how i made it. i asked him if i could share it and he said yes.

 

Wesley and Wren James live quietly near the ocean with their family. this is their first collaboration.

Holy Book Cento by Dan Dorman

I see the gods in your body
falling from the holy tree—

they look older than men can
ever be—old like hills, like stars

they say to a mountain
move from here

and wait quietly while the mud
settles on wide blue plains

Source Text: Various Spiritual texts

Method: This cento is an attempt at unification of faith(s) through language and image. Each book used in the process surrounding this cento carries specific tones, sentence types, and metaphors, so in the forming of these poems I had to mortar together the
rather disparate sources to build a cohesive voice and message. It is my hope that these poems mean something particularly unparticular, something interested in the all encompassing.

Dan Dorman is not a human fish. Dan Dorman breathes high atmosphere air and star stuff. Dan Dorman writes poems that look how they feel. Dan Dorman enjoys poetry and birds who sing.

How to Live in America By Erica Goss

be calm
despite
sick feeling

terrifying thoughts
are fairly typical
not uncommon

educating yourself
has shown a reduction
in misconceptions

thoughts and actions
are not under control
friction in the family

you can help
speak if possible
disturb

any option
expect it
added stressors

set up a system
do something
set limits

this won’t be tolerated
despite
complex factors

Source Text: “15 Ways To Support a Loved One with Serious Mental Illness” by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

Method: As I read the document, an alternate text seemed to rise out of it, one that echoed the way people are feeling in the current political climate.

Erica Goss served as Poet Laureate of Los Gatos, CA from 2013-2016. She is the author of Night Court, winner of the 2016 Lyrebird Award (forthcoming in 2017), Wild Place (Finishing Line Press 2012) and Vibrant Words: Ideas and Inspirations for Poets (PushPen Press 2014). Erica is a poet-teacher for California Poets in the Schools. Her poems, reviews and articles appear widely.

Mother Star By Shawn McClure

The body is composed,
enclosed,
perfect

Movements are observed
regarded,
taken up

Time is a convoluted
skein
Within

Most living cells contain
rows of
young bodies

In the form of a star:
divergent
limbs,

each with its own space,
daughters in cells furnished with
scarlet glass

 

Source Text: Gray’s Anatomy, pages 1-5, Henry Gray, F.R.S.

Method: I made this poem by choosing my favorite words and phrases that seem to connect in some unexpected meaningful way. I chose them from across five pages of text. I left the words in the same order that they appear, like an erasure. I like to think my poem is somewhere in the mind of any person who has ever read the book.

Shawn McClure is a visual artist and writer who lives in central New Jersey. Her writing has appeared in Kindred Magazine, Entropy, Noble/Gas Qtrly, and other places around the web.

Father Marries His Four Daughters Off Like Fine Wine By Suzanne Biro

“Wine is bottled poetry … ” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Verra

Substantial broad
Built to last
Meters in the hip
No surprise when one considers it was great-aunt Irma
who wrote the international bestseller, The Joy of Cooking
At once massive and elegant
Exceptional voluptuous proportionality
with the heft to mature with grace
A nice dash of spice adds intrigue
but immediately blows off
Healthy up front
Hold on and grip
a handful of warm
traditional rustic style
There is plenty to look forward to
over the coming decade

Temperance

Is bright-looking, modern, finely sculpted
Beautiful now but needs another two or three years to soften
Still a bit youthfully clenched
Underpinning suggests this will reward some patience
Rather monolithic
young and tightly wound
A taut skin frame, a flicker of pale transparency
Nervous
Powerfully nutty
with a little more brisk acidity and briny character
than is typically the case
Will need time, will be a hit
A big time winner
Worth following through
A solid indication it is going to be
out and out exciting

Carmen-ere

Mollydooker, but no worries,
there’s nothing sinister going on
Drop-dead gorgeous, a knockout
Dark, lush mouth
Fitting for pleasure seekers
Leather and tobacco lace together
A good choice for variety, for something really special
All the exotic you could want
And game
there’s no need to wait
A brief 3 hours of skin contact prior to pressing
after that not much else is done other than a racking off
kick-ass full throttle frothy fun
invigoratingly long penetration
velvety and sexy  and just
very, very good

Rose

My favourite of the line-up
Our greatest love
You’ll be smitten too
Bubbles with the romance
Refreshingly unadorned and comes across as pure and elegant
Fine-boned, smooth and stylish
Not a hair out of place
Filled with pretty highlights of wild edge
you know, to make the heart grow fonder
Fresh with a bit sauvage, not of musk but of a wild tropical flower
like summer honeysuckle
But also remains just grounded enough
Easy to love
despite the desire over and over
Will provide pleasure
Longevity and pleasure are assured

 

Source: Vintages Catalogue No. 573, October 17th, 2015; Catalogue No. 580, February 6, 2016; Catalogue No. 581 February 20th, 2016.(http://www.vintages.com/index.shtml)

Method: The method I used for crafting this poem (or series of four related poems) was straightforward.  I am a wine lover and I regularly read the Vintages magazine delivered to my doorstep twice monthly.  I noticed that the descriptions of wines were decidedly sexy and female-oriented; I wondered if the bias toward women might be up-played through poetry using humour and characterization.  The result is this submission.  It was fun creating it.

Suzanne Biro’s writing was shortlisted in the 2015 SLS Montreal Flash Fiction Contest and the 2016 Little Bird Contest. She blogs, parents, and works as a professional health researcher.

Self in Rubble by Peter Wortsman

not many
sustain
perception
thrown into
gloom and disrepair
the aftermath
vapor
trails
aimless
floating
seething
undernourished
to the end

Source: The New York Times

Method: I revert to cut-ups when I am too distracted, depressed, dumbfounded or deranged to write coherently and just feel like letting loose. I circle the words that catch my eye for whatever reason and then cut them out and rearrange them on the page. My method is to read a text vertically, latching onto words and phrases as the eye runs down the page and linking them together by what I would call magnetic imminence. I let it lead me with little intent. The result is often amusing, sometimes irreverent, occasionally poetic.

Peter Wortsman is the author, most recently, of a novel “Cold Earth Wanderers” (Pelekinesis, 2014); a travel memoir “Ghost Dance in Berlin” (Travelers Tales, 2013)—recipient of a 2014 Independent Publishers Book Award (IPPY); an anthology which he compiled, edited and translated “Tales of the German Imagination” (Penguin Classics, 2013); and a collection of short prose “Footprints in Wet Cement” (Pelekinesis, forthcoming in 2017).

Eleven Questions By Christopher Iacono

Know that you are in my heart, but what even is this shirt?
Soak in the sweetness.

Are eReaders really green?
So much winter white it feels like a fake hospital.

Big game?
German expressionist epic.

How will he spin it?
Language must be played with.

Feeling social?
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal.

Can you solve the puzzles?
The wind is a fickle mistress.

How do you pick your “favorite” books?
Draw from a deep well.

Isn’t this the best sign?
“Eyes on stalks” and “ice shifts at the poles” are my fave lines.

Love Vegas?
Some things make your eyes sparkle.

Broken dragon?
At Lincoln’s waffle shop.

Don’t you remember how we embraced his virile sensuality?
She says she doesn’t want to fuckin’ talk to you.

 

Source: Various tweets posted January 19-20, 2017.

Method: To craft this poem, I took questions from tweets and then answered them using text from other tweets.

Christopher Iacono lives with his wife and son in Massachusetts. You can learn more about him at cuckoobirds.org.