Sunday, October 29, 2017

Welcome to Alan Britt!

Longer ago than I care to admit Alan Britt sent me some poems that I'd like to post tonight.  I'm happy to see that his first poem references various bluesmen born in the 1940s, most of whom are new to the contest.  Alan, by the way, was also in Resurrection of a Sunflower.  I am always thrilled to publish someone from Catfish and Marc's anthology!


Sprinkle in Eric’s falsetto and you’ve really got
something—a sprig of Mayall, Jack Bruce, Stevie
Winwood—rolling rock on its ear, as if rock’n’roll
had an ear according to swingsters cartwheeling
their way across Nazi ballrooms.

A pinch of Derek Trucks for good measure,  
just enough to tenderize what many preachers
call porterhouse love affairs on the verge,
on the verge, on the verge of what some poor
exhausted praying bastard might say if only
he had a love affair.

So, forget the verge; better he doesn’t know;
easier that way. & with your alchemical harp,

Mick, take us out . . . take us out. 

This next poem is surprisingly timely!


Leaves fall through hard black shadows.

Banana-bitten leaves
with ink stains of infant green
& brown spots tattooing
their oval bodies.

November wind, with a walnut walking
stick, churns their chilly graves.         


I've already forgotten which day
it was I've forgotten!


I understand how it feels to be tangled in monofilament line 
cast from a corporate yacht by its captain donning a white 
fabric black-brimmed cap that features a braided yellow trim 
slip-knotted at both ends with gold embroidered ships wheel 
& anchor on a black background.

Wrapped in monofilament line beneath irrational undertow. 

I understand that certain sentiments when threatened 
erupt like Mount Tambora.

But like Helen Keller lost in a blizzard, I developed tentacles 
disguised as Spanish dancer sea slugs trawling a reef off 
East Timor while performing flamenco among cauliflower 
coral that’s survived seventy zillion evolutions.

Enough or too much, William poses the eternal question? 

So, how much is enough? 


Crow squawks resemble high heels scraping
a sidewalk between two clapboard houses framed
by budding birches, elderly elms, & Japanese maples.

Mail truck over blue gravel rattles like ice
cubes clattering an icemaker’s throat.

Butterfly wings of radiant rust clip the clover,
braise wild onion, & tumble like flakes of amber
over forsythia singeing a split-rail fence.

Algae, like waves staining beach sand, bruises
the torso of a whitewashed shed.

Palomino dog beside wrought iron railing pants
on patio steps that eviscerate TV voices revealing
windows in the flesh, daffodil’s wilted yellow star,
tomato vines reduced to shoestrings by a renegade  
winter, & catbird cries like russet gears inside magnolia
blossoms that resemble artichoke leaves dipped
below garlic & melted butter dreams.

               *                  *   

Like lava, pollen migrates from barbaric verbs
to feral nouns one breath at a time.


Tyger dragonflies—her hair after
a gust during 3rd grade recess.

Then in bed dreaming of rescuing preschool
crush’s hair like wet tobacco while riding
a bareback granite stallion
that requires no maintenance,
no oats, no hay, no excuses.

Initial commands sketchy
when nuclear weapons
entered the conversation,
head beneath Florida desktop,
body curled like armadillo
scale by scale, link by link,
into the vault, a dream of sorts,
but vault all the same,
accountants disappearing in quicksand,
rulers on roller skates behind Plexiglas,
behind the advertising cartel all smiles
ripe for orthodontic ads—reminds
me of lavender-dipped-in-opium
perfume intoxicating the rail-splitter
in me—I had two cows, maybe,
six goats, & three mangy dogs,
for sure—I had some chickens
won in a euchre contest—feathers
flew, eggs hard to come by—but
I inherited something cherished
by primordial DNA—I found love,
or it found me—either way, from
this day forward I’ll spread
poetry like Johnny Apple
spread his seeds. 

Alan Britt has published over 3,000 poems nationally and internationally in such places as Agni, Bitter Oleander, Bloomsbury Review, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Christian Science Monitor, Confrontation, English Journal, Epoch, Flint Hills Review, Gallerie International (India), Kansas Quarterly, Letras (Chile), Magyar Naplo (Hungary), Minnesota Review, Missouri Review, New Letters, Northwest Review, Osiris, Pedrada Zurda (Ecuador), Poet’s Market, Queen’s Quarterly (Canada), Revista/Review Interamericana (Puerto Rico), Revista Solar (Mexico), Roanoke Review, Steaua (Romania), Sunstone, Tulane Review, Wasafiri (UK), and The Writer’s Journal. His interview at The Library of Congress for The Poet and the Poem aired on Pacifica RadioJanuary 2013. He has published 16 books of poetry. He teaches English/Creative Writing at Towson University.
Library Home
ALAN BRITT: Library of Congress Interview:

I hope that the link to the interview with Grace Cavalieri works!

 Tonight I'd like to post some videos of Michael Brecker, another musician born in the 1940s.  His Don't Try This at Home was the first jazz CD I bought.  "Itsbynne Reel" started off the CD:

"Suspone" is another song from that CD:  It sounds like a song from another place and time.

Let's add to my collection of "Night in Tunisia" with Chaka Khan on vocals:

Here is Michael and Randy Brecker's "Some Skunk Funk":

I'll finish with their "Strap-Hangin'":


Sunday, October 22, 2017

Tad Richards, Douglas Malan, and the Other Side of Midterms!

Photo from Max Pixel

This past summer Tad Richards sent me a non-driving poem, which I am going to publish tonight.  Although the non-driving contest was last season, I am always happy to post poems in that vein as both my husband and I do not drive.


It dances on little
scraps of rubber
to your tune
for now but you know
it’s going to make a move

you won’t see it
behind you
make a crossover
slidestep for the guardrail
there before you

or it turns
doubles back on you
glares at you with its
red as bats’ eyes
now it’s mad

you’re still behind the
wheel but it doesn’t care
now it’s got you in its sights
forget your seatbelt

it’ll go through its own
windshield to get
at you now
it can smell your bones
it will eat itself whole

-- Tad Richards


It was the first time I ever saw
a Fender bass, and the first I ever saw
a guy put his hand down a girl’s pants.

It was Buddy Holly and the Crickets.
The guy was in the seat in front of me.
The girl was wearing black toreadors,

tight, so she had to squirm and help
for him to get all the way down.
They left halfway through the set.

My first rock and roll show
(I’d been to New York alone before,
to see the Dodgers at Ebbets Field),

I guessed I would have done what he did,
given the chance, but it would have been
a tough call. The Cleftones
were still on the bill, and the Moonglows,
Thurston Harris and the Charts,

Fats Domino, and Jerry Lee Lewis.

-- Tad Richards

Douglas Malan also sent me a Halloween poem.  Enjoy!

Photo by Jorge Gonzalez

Hand Me Down 
For lunch,
I drank more tequila
than typical on a Monday in October,
and decided I needed a Halloween costume
in Dia de los Muertos style.

I floated toward the cavernous thrift store
by the greasy Chinese take-out joint
in the depressed 1960s Florida strip mall
that sheds aluminum siding
like metallic dandruff off a balding head.

Sweat trickled down my back,
pounded out of my pores by a molten afternoon sun
with no breeze under a damp mohair blanket of air.
The thrift store’s cold mustiness embraced me.

The few people shuffled across filthy industrial tiles
in a slow-motion, fluorescent fog
with faces frozen by pain, resignation or drudgery
made functional by the use or abuse
of various substances, manmade and otherwise.

At the front,
the smudged-dusty glass cases showed off
decorative plates
depicting landmarks of Libertyville, or
thin tin signs championing creamy root beer, or
old jewelry that once was worn only on the most special occasions,
all positioned in a neat jumble of past-life detritus.

Moth-balled racks of clothes hung languidly
off broken-down hangers.
The creaky PA system leaked out
some familiar chorus,
Alllllll byyyyyy myyyyyself,
don’t wanna be
alllll byyyy myyyyyyself.

I drifted across the grungy floor
to the “Halloween section” that was
a handful of sad, mopey costumes on a rolling rack.
and would have worked for me in another time and place
I was fortunate to leave.

Tequila and curiosity
destroyed my structure and sense of direction,
causing me to turn right instead of left,
back into the racks
of what others call odious rags.

When I emerged,
into heat too harsh for October,
I had achieved my goal, even when I hadn’t,
by walking out with a bag
of dead men’s clothes.

-- Douglas Malan

Friday night my husband and I went to a fantastic concert by Lila Downs, so I'll post a few of her songs.  I can't find the one I really want, but I will start with "Peligrosa":

She sang one song about the teacher and the spider being punished for their negligence.  Not sure if it is out yet.

This video of "Zapata Se Queda" is a little spooky:

Here she is singing "Arbor de la Vida":

I'll finish with her singing at Hollywood Forever Cemetery:


Sunday, October 8, 2017

Welcome to Mendes Biondo!

Painting by Vincent Van Gogh is in the Kroller-Muller Museum

This morning I have the honor to present some poems by Mendes Biondo, a fellow contributor to Resurrection of a Sunflower.  Mendes, by the way, is also the editor of Ramingo!. 

The wheat came in sunny days

An old sunburned man
with wrinkled hands
throws seeds on ground
his smile like a sickle
awaiting for the harvest
in the sunny days

it will come the storm
said his children

let it come
said him to them

it will come the winter
and crows will eat seeds
said his children

let them come
said him sowing

and he continued
year after year
sowing and reaping
the fruit of the wheat

and every year storms
and winter and crows
came with the cry of children

but the mill has not stopped
his slow slow work
and the wheat came
every year

in the sunny days

This painting, too, is by Van Gogh.

Willie Mcbride's Last Bravado

last night I stole
twenty red poppies
as a morning gift for you

the roses
you know
            they cost so much
and the tulips
            they are out of my possibilities

but that big field outside and far
it's full of red poppies in may

so I stole twenty poppies

because I could not bring more

My Tongue Is Like An Old Man

my tongue is like an old man
when I speak
when I write
when I think
in another language

as an old man
my tongue needs
an always-ready crouch
a chair or a sofa
where to lay its body

my tongue it's like a young lover
burning with desire
to discover the beloved body

as the hand of a young lover
my tongue moves itself
through creases and
shapes and
tastes and
of the beloved body

my tongue is like a spectacle lens
that needs papers and letters
to lay on

as the lens
my tongue changes
the words
the worlds
I speak

I don't think I've played Gary Bartz' music for a while.  He is a favorite of ours, and my husband even ran up to him for an autograph.  (He doesn't do that very often.)

Let's go back to 1976 for "JuJu Man":

"I've Known Rivers" is even earlier:

"Peace and Love" is from the same album:

"On a Misty Night" takes us to 1990:

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Welcome to Stacie Marinelli!

Photo by Jovica Trajkovski
Tonight I'd like to post some poems by my close friend Stacie Marinelli.  We met in a writers' group that met in Boston years and years ago.  I hope that you will enjoy her poems inspired by musicians born in the 1940s Michael Franks and Mickey Hart.

Breathless – for Michael Franks (born in 1944)
Stacie Marinelli

So now we’re on a beach in Rio
and the saxophones tremble, the flutes trill,
and we’re drinking margaritas,
but it’s so not Jimmy Buffet,
it’s New York cool, Paris chic

And now we’re strolling the Tokyo streets in the rain
and the cookie jar is empty and she has popsicle toes
and Michael dreams he swam with dolphins and
wrestled a live nude girl

Practice makes perfect when it comes to love since
love is a string of pearls, a slow dance, a symphony,
and, as we all know, love is the answer we seek

And Monk’s mixed into the melody
and Miles and Paul Desmond and even Van Gogh
and the cry for freedom echoes
from Red Square to Soweto

but mostly it’s all love love love

He’s a skinny guy with thinning hair,
growing older like I am,
and I’m showing my age just by writing about him.
Christ, this guy hasn’t been big since the 80’s
and now his music’s called “smooth jazz”
which makes all the purists I know cringe.

But I don’t care when I'm inside this musical dream
where jungle parrots scream, jaguar and python fight
to stay alive, and we all roast bananas, drink mate tea
around a fire, and are engulfed by the raging river that is love.

And as the lyrics gradually enter me, I'm no longer in DC,
I’m lounging in a kimono on a breezy Sunday, somewhere
seated on a patio flooded by sunlight, listening to waves
that resound endlessly


Stacie also provided some music by Michael Franks:

When the Cookie Jar is Empty:

That moment  - Stacie Marinelli

dedicated to Mickey Hart (born 1943)
and his classic percussion album "Planet Drum"

I was writing in my journal and you had that drum CD playing and
it was driving and urgent and
it was all the things I wanted it to be
as I wrote with the rhythms and remembered
a scene from back in college, dancing with a troupe of Puerto Rican men -
and as I was brought back with the music,
I remembered all the living I did back then,
all the living for the moment.

And the CD in your apartment ended
and I was left with the memory and the music.
This was not a transistor moment –
this was the edge of the world -
and you were there and you
were in a completely different moment
but for that moment
that one single solitary moment
it really didn’t matter
 Stacie's memory in the poem has even more poignancy, given what Puerto Rico has suffered from Hurricane Maria.

Photo by Juan Tituana

If you'd like to listen to more Mickey Hart, here is his "Umayeyo":

Here is his "Elephant Walk": 

I'll add a video of him with Kodo drummers: 

I'll finish with a version of the Grateful Dead's "Fire on the Mountain" that features him:


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Welcome to Perry Nicholas

Let's return to the 1940s contest with Perry Nicholas' poems inspired by Bob Dylan, one of the more prominent musicians born in that decade.  The picture above is Dylan in concert in London.   Perry's poems, by the way, are in the wonderful anthology Resurrection of a Sunflower.  Have you bought your copy yet?


I hurry home to our sanctuary,
finger a lock of your hair,
stare at the page-white ceiling
at shadows like shadows on a stage,
partial phrases still pinging in my head.

The naked truths are: we are comfortable here,
he should consider reciting his farewells.
You are my sad-eyed lady, and I resist
dislodging my arm from underneath your neck
to find a pencil, let it sing, never one
to risk line breaks in unnatural places.

We are natural here, a bluesy melody
under the radar of electric, garbled lyrics.
He and I need to say our complicated goodbyes.
You and I fit into each other, simply spoon. 


You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way—Bob Dylan

No, I never realized I would be
surrounded by those who couldn’t see,

loving eyes that remain unopened,
never read a book in their lives.

I’ve been through two lifetimes now,
one leaving only scribbles on a page.

You asked me to write down my questions
since I was on my way out,

but I’m still here.
With all this righteous poetry.


Perry S. Nicholas is an English Professor at Erie Community College North in Buffalo, N.Y. He has published one textbook of poetry prompts, three full-length and five chapbooks of original poetry, and one CD of poetry. He has hosted four poetry venues in the WNY area. You can see his work at

Karl Berger is a vibraphonist, educator,  and pianist who is based in Woodstock and, with Ornette Coleman, founded the Creative Music Studio.  

Here is his "From Now On, Side A":
 He has worked with Dave Holland:,
and Pharoah Sanders among others.  

I can't find a video of Berger and Sanders together, but here is Sanders' "Astral Traveling":

Berger leads the Stone Workshop Orchestra in an excerpt from "Ornette" :