[Living Somewhere] by David Rock

living somewhere
super close to
greener pastures
sedation with wisdom
fiction
strange but true
common sense
in search of
a place called
anywhere

Source: The Scroll (the student-run newspaper of Brigham Young University-Idaho).

Method: I teach Spanish literature, and in order to show how poets don’t necessarily have the subject of a poem in mind before they sit down to start writing, I assigned the students to take a single issue of the student newspaper, cut out words and phrases from headlines and advertisements, and then play around with these fragments until something interesting revealed itself.  The above poem is one of several that I produced for demonstration purposes.

David Rock teaches Spanish at Brigham Young University-Idaho in Rexburg.  His poems have appeared recently in Carolina Quarterly, Palooka, and American Journal of Poetry.  Sometimes he arrives in exotic places and forgets how he got there.  Sometimes he gets in his car and just sits there, pretending to be furious.

 

Justice by Howard Richard Debs

how is it to be told? . . . in detailing the facts themselves?
—Charles Reznikoff, Reznikoff Papers Box VII, Folder 26

What to do with the body
of a Nazi war criminal
no one wants
where to bury him, since Rome,
his adopted homeland of Argentina,
and his hometown in Germany won’t take him?

He died Friday at age 100
in the Rome home of his lawyer,
where he had been serving
his life term under house arrest.

Priebke spent nearly 50 years as a fugitive
before being extradited to Italy
from Argentina in 1995 to stand trial.

          Erich Priebke got up from his seat
          to break the silence he observed
          since the trial’s start to say
          he would not testify before the court.

Rome Mayor:
the city accepts neither a
church funeral nor a burial for him.

          The 335 victims of the massacre
          were machine-gunned at the
          Ardeatine Caves near Rome,
          which were then dynamited
          in an attempt to hide the bodies.

Chief rabbi of Rome’s Jewish community:
cremate while dead,
unlike the millions of children who
went into the ovens and for whom
Priebke never had pity.

          Priebke claims
          he was forced to participate or face death.
          It is likely that Priebke will be one of
          the last significant Nazi war-criminals to face trial.

Priebke’s lawyer:
as a practicing Catholic,
Priebke deserves a
Catholic funeral and burial.

But not even Priebke’s
adopted homeland of Argentina,
where he lived in the mountain
resort of Bariloche, will take him.

Priebke was born in Hennigsdorf,
a small town north of Berlin,
local rules give only
residents a right to burial
in its cemetery, exceptions
are possible in cases where
people have family graves there,
but the Priebke family
doesn’t have any.

In his final interview released upon his death,
he denied the Nazis gassed Jews
during the Holocaust.

Sources: Palm Beach Post article October 14, 2013 “Church, state refuse funeral for former Nazi” ; AP Archive Story No. 28506 06/03/1996 “Former Nazi Officer Erich Priebke Trial”

Method: I have files stuffed with all manner of clippings, notices, advertisements sitting waiting. The local newspaper article about the Nazi Priebke demanded a response. The free-form excerpting and lineation was straightforward enough but there needed to be something else. I am a devotee of the objectivists, and particularly Charles Reznikoff; his work Holocaust, all 94 pages of it, being a tour-de-force of found poetry. Holocaust uses actual testimony (Reznikoff had a law degree) extracted from 26 volumes of transcriptions from the court proceedings of the Eichmann and Nuremberg trials. I followed his example and researched for detail about the Priebke trial itself and discovered the AP archive story. Juxtaposing elements of the two creates a full picture representing the inhumanity of humanity through the words and deeds of but one human being.

Howard Richard Debs is a finalist and recipient of the 28th Annual 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards. His essays, fiction, and poetry appear internationally in numerous publications; his new full length work Gallery: A Collection of Pictures and Words, (Scarlet Leaf Publishing) is a 2017 Best Book Awards winner as Finalist in poetry. He is listed in the Directory of American Poets & Writers

Of Too Much Truth by David Capps

1.
Of too much truth to do much more than lie
Astonished that you have returned to go
I do not betray you, I still go forward,
Snaps of ice cracking in the hidden air.
and turn it into something cartoon-funny.
Green lilac buds appear that won’t survive
A salamander scuttles across the quiet

2.
The weight of being born into exile is lifted.
Down the long course of the gray slush of things
Gray the cloud-like oaks
Wheezing ravens, when
Blurring the terrain,
Close at the end of distance the two Chose
Or else, like us, sunk into some long gaze
Two of us, Docteur and Madame Machin, who stand
Rain. We are forced to fly,
And beyond, the same sound of bees
Like some poor wounded wretch
ong left for dead
Wide, whited fields, a way unframed at last
Of too much truth to do much more than lie
They move against, or through, or toward, or by.

Source:  Spam

David Capps is a philosophy teacher at Quinnipiac University. He has a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Connecticut and an MFA in poetry from Southern Connecticut State University. He lives in New Haven with a fluffy cat named Purrbasket.

Boeuf en daube by Emily McAvan

(after Woolf)

Here, she thought, dabbling her fingers in the dark
here stuck high up in the sea
To want and want
little daily miracles, illuminations, in the water
matches struck unexpectedly in the most exquisite smile
There it was before her – life.

Source: Virginia Woolf – To The Lighthouse

Method: I wrote this poem with the aid of a Markov text generator, which feeds in prose as an input and generates an output randomly – no two are the same. I grabbed the best bits of random prose, repeating the process until I got something I liked, and then edited for sense from there.

Emily McAvan is a Jewish Australian poet whose work sits at the intersection between sacred and profane.

Sea by Donald Welch

Challenger

Body-worn and undesired
the limits are in you

travel outside your provider’s coverage area
GPS might not work
Maps and other navigation data change overtime
Therefore, you should always Always obey signs

never rely solely on strength
be vulnerable
be mobile
poses a fire
be free

Challenger

Source : Samsung S5 mini Health & Safety and Warranty Guide

Method: My method was to read the text in full and make pencil marks around phrases, words, or sentences that caught my attention. Then I went back through with pen and underlined sections that seemed to link together in some fashion. Finally, I typed up the final draft, making some cuts along the way as I saw fit.

Donald Welch teaches creative writing at the Rebecca School for Autism. He has found poetry in Foliate Oak Literary Magazine and Issue 4 of Unlost Journal. Visit donaldcwelch3.tumblr.com for more on Donald and his work.

Pain, No Gain by D.R. James

Inflexibility restricts
range of motion &
energy transfer. Always
warm up; always
lengthen. If tight,
stop to stretch, rest,
rehydrate, reduce
the possibility of injury.
Wrong way or wrong
time tightens rather
than relaxes. The old
“bounce, bounce, bounces”
risk small tears &
are not recommended.

The stretch reflex responds
to voluntary movement:
the spindles initiating
their counter contraction;
the Golgi organ,
given twenty seconds,
relaxing the muscle
and its counter muscle
in response. Thus stretch
only to a slight pull, slight
discomfort, hold-

relax. Fool
the reflex, activate
the organ. Stretching
will differ per individual.
Stretching is not competitive.
Stretching should never involve pain.

Source: Patti and Warren Finke, Team Oregon

Method: I wrote “Pain, No Gain” after browsing for websites about stretching and ran across an article that emphasized avoiding pain while doing so, which struck me as so opposite of what we had always done as athletes back in my adolescent days.  As I read, I couldn’t help but make the metaphorical leap to stretching oneself interiorly, which even today seems especially valued only when pain is involved, to the extent of claiming the old saw that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” As culturally oppositional as I am, I found Team Oregon’s language about physical stretching irresistible and indirectly applied it to emotional/spiritual stretching.  Almost all of the poem’s words come from the article.

D. R. James’s collections include If god were gentle, Since Everything Is All I’ve Got, Why War and Split-Level, and poems and prose appear in various print and online journals and anthologies. James lives in Saugatuck, Michigan, and has taught writing, literature, and peace-making at Hope College for 33 years.

Trying to Name What Doesn’t Change by Steve Bellin-Oka

Not having to pedal
permits you to concentrate. Taking
tea with Hitler, club soda

with white rum from Puerto Rico.
Centuries of song

in her garage, Anita Bryant
uncorked a misogynist genie,
forty-eight snappy sayings in Russian.

The most horrifying complication
is infection. Brought a Thermos

to avoid communal
drinking. Other children
she knew—

contagion theory. Blood
root. A restaurant with a seasonal

vegetarian menu. One effeminate person
makes others effeminate—
halfway houses to return them

to normal. Never the right size.
We simplify at our peril. The answer:
a minibus, a refusal to make

too grand or final a claim.

 

Source: Articles and advertisements from September 1977 Ms.

Method: In the advanced poetry workshop I teach, we devote one class meeting to found poems and erasure poems. I participate in the exercise I give the students, from which this poem emerged. A variety of book or magazine-length source texts are chosen at random and numbered, and each of us picks a number without any indication of what the source texts are. We are then required to create a found poem out of snippets (phrases, but not whole sentences) from the corresponding source text without any alterations or additions. Order, lineation, stanza structure, capitalization, and punctuation are all open.

Steve Bellin-Oka’s chapbook, Dead Letter Office at North Atlantic Station, was recently published by Seven Kitchens Press. Recent work appears in Worcester Review and Unbroken, among other journals. He has received poetry fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. He lives in Portales, NM.

 

Please Remind Me: What is the Mission? by S. Clay Sparkman

You are drifting, drifting …. How much frustration can one bear before it becomes a nightmare? You may now begin just another in a long series of seemingly endless frustration dreams:

I watch a Star Trek rerun with Ricardo Montalban as Khan. I sink into the show, and find myself standing by the narrator, in a sunny room.

Apparently, I’m one of the autistic guests to be interviewed. I try to toss all this junk out of my mind as I leave the booth. Forget politics!

What am I doing here? Defining just who in Hell I am. Point at a lamp post and say, “I don’t want that.” At a bus, and add “Or that!” A businessman passes. “Or THAT!”

Immediately a gigantic wheel appears in front of me; it seems to be rotating at a colossal speed and on the great spokes I thought I could make

out nebulous shapes. As we fled through a circus tent, we met a Lykan [a werewolf or human/wolf mix]. I found his brown skin and long brown hair

quite handsome. His caravan wheels into town and floods the place. He’s getting big! Insisting on privacy, his own people take over all the staff positions.

Experimental surgery might cure me. I was feeling helpless about something and it has been haunting me since… muttering, at the back of my brain.

“Some have gender; some have hands.” At every place, I was searching for dead people. I don’t know who I was looking for exactly. But definitely dead.

My mother’s around, may have arranged the party but won’t be in it to interfere. She is me in another existence, the one to end in madness.

Source and Method: THE WORLD DREAM BANK An online database of 2300 dream texts and images, sorted by topic. Here, I utilized excerpts from each of eleven different dreams. This poem was sourced entirely from the “Frustration” dream section.

I find that most of my own dreams lately have a strong thread of frustration running through them. They almost always begin with me trying to do something, and then evolve into a series of events that move me further and further from the original objective.

S. Clay Sparkman was born in Portland, Oregon. A book of his poetry was published as A Place Between Two Voices (by Tabor Hill Press). He has had poetry, humorous articles, short stories, and essays published in Praxis, Moonglasses, Occulum, The Higgs Weldon, Down in the Dirt Beautiful Losers, Parenthesis, Zeroflash, Literaryyard.com, and 1859, Oregon’s Magazine, among others. He married into Chile, and considers Chile to be his second home—maybe his third. He currently lives in Nicaragua, with his wife Veronica, his 12-year old son Javier, his dog Lola, and his cats Torcha and Other-Cat

Ebensburg Glare by Don Krieger

 

 

Jesus saves
in white neon,
revival
every Sunday,
exotic dancers.

Source:  Neon advertising signs

Don Krieger is a biomedical researcher living in Pittsburgh, PA. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming online at TuckMagazine.com, Uppagus Magazine, and Fragile Lilacs and in print in Hanging Loose (1972), Neurology (Sep 12, 2017), Poetica (Fall, 2017),  and The Taj Mahal Review (December, 2016).

 

Nonpology by Faith Breisblatt

these women who admired me
I do not remember

what I did was okay
because I never showed a woman my dick
without asking first

when you’re a star they let you do it

it was my attempt at humor

when you have power over another
asking them to look at your dick
isn’t a question

what’s the lesson learned
from something like that?

let me start by saying

these stories are true

if I had a dollar for every woman who asked to take a selfie
arm around me drifting below the belt line

her memory of that evening is very different
from mine

I seem to remember her as a good girl

she was married

she’s now got these big
phony tits and everything

no financial settlement

the encounter was consensual, brief

if I did behave as described

no woman ever made a claim

it’s contrary

to my nature

but the fact is, for all my flaws, I am not a predator

this should not be lost in the narrative

I am deeply sorry if any action of mine was ever
misinterpreted

a different recollection of events

I am a work in progress
I am human

I do not know this woman

Source: quotes from Louis CK, Donald Trump, Al Franken, Roy Moore, Jeffrey Tambor, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Garrison Keillor, Matt Lauer, Ed Westwick. Many of the quotes were found here: http://time.com/5015204/harvey-weinstein-scandal/ and from each person’s individual statements

Method: I started this poem by compiling quotes about sexual harassment and assault since Trump’s election. It seems since taking office, Trump has inspired quite a movement of both women and men sharing their stories about sexual assault and outing their abusers in a powerful way. As days, weeks and months passed, more and more people in the public eye kept getting accused of sexual harassment and/or assault. I’d look at websites like Time and others that compiled lists of those accused and I’d learn about a new predator. As I wrote more and more quotes down, a poem began to form. I played with taking out words and phrases of quotes, moving them around, and the spacing until I had the message I wanted to portray in the poem.

Faith Breisblatt is a social worker living in Boston. Her work can be found in Found Poetry Review, Oddball Magazine, Scripting Change, Toe Good Poetry, Mangrove Journal and elsewhere.

 

 

 

 

Imaginary Tower by Margaret King

Moonless night,
no long golden hair to let down.

My tower–purely imaginary–
exists upon an expanse of human settlement.

“Water, water everywhere
But not a drop to drink.”

Witch, princess, queen, maiden
Rolled into one.

No seven dwarves to call on,
or fairies three–
these require humility,
obedience, pliancy,
Secrecy.

Princes–
valiant liberators dealing deathly thrusts
wounding parts of the psyche
best left untouched.

Princes–rescuers, murderers–
Both in one.

Fathers–
never there.

Mothers–
always dying.

Towers–
our salvation and doom.

Protection, isolation:
Two sides of one consoling coin.

Bricks and boiling oil–use as needed,
Apply liberally.

Flowers, little birds,
church mice and crickets,
doves, wishing wells–
our last hope.

Source: The famous lines from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

Method: Reading “water, water, everywhere/but not a drop to drink” in middle school was the first time a poem had really stuck with me. The desperation in those lines evoked such a vivid image in my mind that I discovered, for the first time, how effective poetry could be, and how it could express emotions and situations in a mere line of words. I’ve created a new poem from these famous lines to express a modern twist on older fairy tale circumstances, which in this case, are figurative.

Margaret King is a Wisconsin writer who enjoys penning poetry, short stories, and young adult novels. In her spare time, she likes to haunt the shores of Lake Michigan, similar to many of her fictional characters.

Contaminants of Concern by Eleonor Botoman

 

Source: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/search-superfund-sites-where-you-live

Method: The backbone of this poem is the EPA’s database of Superfund sites across the United States. The words in each line of the poem are derived from documents about these sites that can be accessed by the general public. These documents contained scientific analyses of the chemical pollution on the site, potential threats to human health, and plans for cleanup. However, there was very little information describing the toll these sites took on local communities long before the EPA intervened, oftentimes leading to health problems that stretched across generations before these toxins were contained. I decided to take this impersonal, bureaucratic language used by the EPA and reconfigure it into a more honest history of these sites.

Eleonor Botoman is currently a student at Barnard College studying creative writing and art history. Her writing has appeared in BUST magazine, Interiors JournalThe Barnard BulletinEchoes, and more. Originally from Florida, she is fascinated by the clinical language used to discuss man-made environmental disasters, climate change, and how this can influence contemporary ecopoetics.

Gynecological Care by Ani Keaten

No scratching, no douche, no tampons, no sex, notice: if you are a true emergency, drink an aloe-vera-monistat nightcap and dream of headless blood for one week.

Let’s do a punch biopsy and cut through all the bullshit tryp-trypophobia tiny hole into a festering maw
I thought it was a yeast infection. Molecular skin under microscope can’t lie-lichen sclerosus?

No sex, no soaking, no wiping, no intercourse for two weeks: you may have rest.

If you are a witch, brew epsom salt and burn malodorous pads with catkins to divine diagnosis.

Don’t you think it might be symptosomatic? Two week taper of prednisone, betamethasone.

My friend heard of vulvodynia on TV and thinks I need vaginal dilators for my depressed vagina.

No intercourse, no driving, no lifting, no openings, no intention to advise your condition: call 911.

You may notice experience. You may increase tolerance gradually each day.

 

Source: http://www.laurelobgyn.com/mobile/gynecology_post_procedure_instructions.html

 

Method: I stumbled upon this source text, and knew that I needed to process it through poetry. My method for writing the poem was to read the source several times over, noting the words that were causing an emotional reaction in me. I pulled those out into a new text and began brainstorming on the words and why they impacted me. I built up the poem until I had enough to work with, and then began cutting and editing until I felt like the poem expressed the general feeling I was trying to understand.

 

Ani Keaten is a poet grown in the desert mountains. She writes about daily life. She enjoys creating art with oil pastels, looking at rare rocks, and seeking out high places from which to take pictures. www.anikeaten.com @anikeaten

 

 

Divine T-Shirts by E.T. Parker

Take It Easy
Nothing Is Easy
Don’t Let It Reign
We Are All on a Search for Perfection

Whatever
Busy Doing Nothing

Life Is Perfect
You Go Girl
Hike the World
If Not Now When?
I Just Can’t Today
You Don’t Know until You Go

Where to Next? Travel the Life
Nantucket Is Always a Good Idea
Luck Has Nothing to Do with It

Make Time for the Things that Make You Happy
Good Times!
Enjoy the Little Things
Enjoy Every Moment of your Life

Save Yourself
Look Hot / Be Cool / Be Crazy
Be Kind to Someone Today
More Love

Still Hating

 

Source & Method: Taking Inspirational Quotations from T-shirts as Divine Messages while I Travel around Europe in 2017, the First Year of the Tumbleweed Presidency

E.T. Parker was born and raised in California, was educated at Fresno State, and currently teaches in the English department at The University of Alabama.

 

Fire Work by David Owen Miller

for Jeni

Jasmine, jawbreakers, jewsharps—things I have not put in my mouth
Jeni, nono, Jenifer—daughter, mother, artist

Knowledge is power, PET scans are not

Last night, no pottery, just marionberries

Mammary, marriage, maternity, masturbation
Mom, are you drunk again!

Nowadays, I remember everything: the t.v., my paintings, my polyurethane statues,
how Xavier’s hands felt on our wedding night
Nowadays I see that little job I had one October, I painted flats for Halloween Horror
Nights—it was the best job ever

October has cold hands

Pain scares me, but painkillers I don’t mind
PET scan—the gray of morning with a sun rising from the center

Quilts on my legs, tubes in my nose and arm, hard mash potatoes with white gravy
Quiet is that thing they give you when you only wanna talk

Red Poppy: This flower grows up my neck/it blossoms in back of my head/a symbol
of life, of  blood, of those we lose/in transit like quarters or laundry tickets/Someday
soon I will become/a field of wild poppies and you will lie/in my fragrance, dozy
and content/the best time you ever had with me.
Remember Universal Studios?  David’s brother and the smell of paint.  He said even
coats, Jeni.  Even coats. I had headaches.  Xavier brought me beer and mezcal.

Send it to my daughter: the poem about the red poppies.
So much time now for pottery, to feel clay turning in my hands, to hold it steady and
give it form, to pare away dried clay from under my fingers

Toxic on the stereo, rhombuses of light on a parkay floor, Xavier and I dancing, our first kiss
Tell Xavier he can have his anal now

Using me for poetry?

Vanish like my breasts
Vibrate as the world vibrates

Who will take my daughter to get her prom dress?

Xanax and a bottle of Zinfandel

You wrote me several times, David: are you coming to my funeral?
You wrote me several times, David; you wanted to meet me several times, just not with your
wife or kids, always at coffeehouses or the Farmer Brothers in Rubidoux

Zinfandel and a bottle of Xanax

Again, Xavier wants anal
All the things you put inside yourself

Both of them, my nipples, gone cuz, Gawd, I hate asymmetry

Canvas? I’m working with polyurethane now
Can you please not use my name in your poetry?

Death, I don’t mind; this shit hurts.
Destroy my paintings, burn my canvases, smash my pots
Did you send the poem about the poppies?  Send it to my daughter.

Erasure is what I look for; I could be erased, and Xavier still wouldn’t realize I was gone
Every day, every goddamned day, Xavier stays at home, but the dogs freakin visit

Fashioning Halloween costumes for Shelly and her date: we argued before the pic
From dinner on, I had this pain, it hurt my stomach, I kept walking sideways down
the pier and Shelly, you remember Shelly? She’s like Mom, drunk again?

Gawd, I hate asymmetry

Hot, still in the hand, gradually warming, gradually cool, put away

Indigo is the color of sky before sunlight, the color I always wanted my eyes to be
Is this how you see me, David?

Source: Facebook posts and Messages 2010-2015

Method: One night, I am working on another set of poems, when I receive an IM from Jeni telling me that she has cancer.  It has been six months since we last communicated.  I had a poem which I had IMed her, one she wanted me to publish called “Red Poppies.” I was uncertain about the poem.  Over the next few months, we reconnect because I suffer from insomnia and her pains keep her up most nights.  This poem is an abecedarian, stitched together like a cento from bits, pieces, words and phrases exchanged during both those and earlier conversations via IM.  Then, I rearranged the lines that I started with J and ended with I.  The format seemed to work best.

David Owen Miller is a Latin teacher in South Los Angeles.  He has an M.A. in English/Creative Writing from LMU.  He has published work in Rattle, Crack The Spine, Dodging The Rain, Cold Coffee Stand, Rise Up Review and other journals.  He loves teaching and hanging out with his daughters and of course, writing poetry.