Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Stephen Bett Puns Buddha Love, The Locked Drawer of Spiritual Fatigue, Agoraphobia, and Learning Emptiness

Back Principles (14) : Keats & Rilke coming up again (& damned Spicer, too)

Who sees into me
… has mine heart?

Too easily tossed
(on a heap, on
a mound)

This inning is
future time
(grace time …?)

I would take
a pitcher
of you

Drink it, bat it
out of here
it takes

I lose myself
completely, am
struck dumb
in your

Where is my
ground, where
is my Heysus
spinning to

This (heady) gain
is nerve loss

It is mystery
one enters
(& possibly
alive …)
Witless &
& unafraid
to say so
(god help

Look in mine
eyes & give
me your
I have none
that doesn’t
shake the bases
loose in the

Look in mine
eyes, I have
forgotten how
to see

Back Principles (34) : spiritual fatigue

This is surely
spiritual fatigue
(on the loose)
(at loose ends)

Backed into a corner
(loosely speaking)

Back me, back
me not …

My back is knotted

Lies bound in a
locked drawer

When it creaks open
pray for something

Pray there is

You will not
have my back
beyond this

It will be loose
at ease, or it
will be

Back Principles (52) : agoraphobic 

Big spaces are
made of this

Phoenix to Yuma

The christ to
the buddha …
terrifying too

Hold my back (pls)
the landscape
would break
it in halves

big space

Holding emptiness
in my hands

Stephen Bett is a widely and internationally published Canadian poet. His earlier work is known for its sassy, edgy, hip… caustic wit―indeed, for the askance look of the serious satirist… skewering what he calls the ‘vapid monoculture’ of our times. His more recent books have been called an incredible accomplishment for their authentic minimalist subtlety. Many are tightly sequenced book-length ‘serial’ poems, which allow for a rich echoing of cadence and image, building a wonderfully subtle, nuanced music. Bett follows in the avant tradition of Don Allen’s New American Poets. Hence the mandate for Simon Fraser University’s “Contemporary Literature Collection” to purchase and archive his “personal papers” for scholarly use. He is recently retired after a 31-year teaching career largely at Langara College in Vancouver, and now lives with his wife Katie in Victoria, BC.     www.stephenbett.com 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Vin Whitman Reveals the Centiperson, Screaming Birds, Leviathans, Orgasmic Blindspots, and the Asterisk as Crucifix


 This was where we
 Spun our cocoons
 This was where we set the
 Seeds free
 Unaware of our
 Eight-armed enemy
 Invisible filaments drawn
 Asterisk or crucifix?

 Bumbling bee
 Desperate to worship
 W/ drunken lane changes
 Crashes the silken barricade
 And sobers into a hostage

 Butterfly army
 Sleeps through the storm
 As a leviathan would underwater

 Birds scream bloody terror at the
 Oncoming waterfall's windshield
 A weather phenomenon
 That spells hospital
 Or cemetery
 In violet text

 Doesn't even set
 The web askew


 Do you roam yourself like a giant planet
 Discovering secret burial grounds,
 Orgasmic blindspots

 I do

 You could roam into the space
 Just above your skull and pull
 It down through the floor
 To excavate a comfort zone that's
 Become a claustrophobic


 Sheep and kangaroos
 Are people too
 I'm a scavenger of depth, not width
 Roaming a grave and salty


 Can stay on the surface
 Of their sunny dispositions
 Extreme evolution and
 Stunning photographs


 I could take no pictures of
 My journey
 I had to draw them slowly
 From memory

 Why only roam to your
 Outskirts of skin?
 Lose count of dimensions
 In your centipede of nerves


 The jaws of rejection
 In a classroom
 Full of meat

 Left out
 To thaw, or worse,
 Thrown to the ground
 Losing teeth

 Post traumatic
 Dents in their faces
 Their slivered cat-eyes

 The bias-cut of a few
 Prime numbers

 Taste of a loaded,
 Bulging society
 Passed down in generational sausage

 A condition that will worsen
 To our hands
 Still shaking
 Giving off heat

Vin Whitman writes in fearful imagery that can make him paranoid, but he's learned to thrive on it. He is working on the social skills needed to do social work. He reads with The Tea House poets in Florida.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Michael McInnis Speaks of the Crank Time of Einstein's Trains and the Effects of Light Pollution

Crank Time

There is no 4th

in crank time

faster than the
speed of

light no longer
held in

place by gravity
or dreams

of Einstein’s trains
lurching through

fallout shelters and

that sail too close
to the edge

while the earth keeps

and wobbling ever
so slightly

centrifugal forces at
work while

tides churn and wash
as if all

the whales and sea
monsters swim

to one side of the
ocean at once


All there at the

the inexorable

into a kind of
madness as

if trading green

for furniture or a
crock pot

never used or that
display lamp

with the bulb that

and smoked the

calculator turned
upside down

always reading

and outside the
plate glass

window a mackerel
sky showering

missiles and

People Living in Caves

people living in caves
return to the

surface crazy the sun
no longer

comforting the moon
no longer

holding any mystery
and the stars

they never recall the
stars as if

light pollution was all
that remained

Michael McInnis lives in Boston and spent six years in the Navy sailing across the Pacific and Indian Oceans to the Persian Gulf three times, chasing white whales and ending up only with madness. He has published poetry and short fiction in Literary Yard, 1947, Dead Snakes, Monkey Bicycle, Cream City Review, 5x5 Singles Club, Facets Magazine, Arshile, Nightmare of Reason, Oak Square, Quimby Quarterly and Version 90.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

MarkYoung's Sine Waves Towards the Surface Tension and Basho Bored with the Heron

A Newly Discovered "Bashōic" Haiku

Looking for a wedge to force into the afternoon, sort of split it in two. Boredom creeping in. Too cold to go for a swim, & if I read or watch tv I'll just go to sleep in the chair. Driving's the answer, that old foot down flat to the floor routine, out & about, Steppenwolf forever.

Decide to take Bashō along for the ride – he hasn't been the same ever since he read William Gibson's last four books in the one sitting & realized the old Japan he knew & loved no longer existed. A little stir-crazy lately, so seeing bucolic might stop his melancholy.

We head south, following the backroads, or at least those that are sealed. Sine waves of fast-braking tyre rubber staining the bitumen. Pick up the vibe but don't try to add to it. Instead
stop somewhat sedately at the lagoon where the black swans are, get out, smoke a cigarette as we watch a couple of eagles ride the thermals above the water.

Lower down a heron stands on a fallen tree trunk until it gets bored by the lack of fish & flies away. Bashō watches it, flicks his dying cigarette towards where it was. Doesn't look at me. Says:

Fuck this nature shit!
Let's go home, watch anime
on cable tv.

urban transit

How to work out
what to in-
clude? The selection
wasn't yours
in the first place—just
things that happened
along a bus route
you just happened to
live on. Never
caught the bus. Some-
times heard it go
by, sometimes
watched it
disappearing into
the not-too-far
distance. Close enough
to see that there
was no-one
in the backseat
telling the driver to
wait, to let you catch
up, to let you get on.

A littoral translation

As if
frozen, that
moment when the
river is / between
the tides. Mud
meters out from
the mangroves. The
rocks exposed. A single
pelican near the other
bank, reluctant to
move, to relieve
the surface tension.

Mark Young is the editor of Otoliths, lives in a small town in North Queensland in Australia, & has been publishing poetry for more than fifty-five years. His work has been widely anthologized, & his essays & poetry translated into a number of languages. A new collection of poems, Bandicoot habitat, has recently come out from gradient books of Finland.