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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Featuring Tim Peeler

Here’s a preview of some work from Tim Peeler’s upcoming third book of baseball poems titled Wild in the Strike Zone.


My dad’s magical thinking
Transported him beyond reality.
He believed his sons would
Be major leaguers, and that
Having not worked out,
He believed his grandsons
Would be major leaguers;
Then he eventually believed
That he might just have been
A major leaguer at some point,
About the same time he became
Convinced that someone
Had moved him to the wrong house
During the middle of the night
And had carefully placed
All his furniture where it was
When we sat and talked about it,
And he also believed when
He called me at three in the morning
That if I left my house immediately
And came over to his to transpose
His life story that his chances
Of being elected to the hall of fame
In honor of his major league
Pitching career might be improved
So I drove forthwith and arrived
With an ink pen and notebook,
After which I sat and he began,
I was born on a dirt farm
Next to a muddy creek
In rural Rowan County
And I wrote it down
As outside I could hear
The roar of the crickets
And inside I could hear
The buzz of the fluorescent light.


Sunlight sewn across the field
Like millions of perfect teeth
You could not settle to watch
The one who never fit in
And you knew that God made him
That God distributed burdens
To those who could handle them
And you heard his mother pray
When it came his time to hit
He stood there confused leaning
Bat on his shoulder watching
A strike then a ball then a
Strike as your stomach tightened
And you hoped with all you had
Uttering your own quick prayer
But he swung late like the gate
That closes after the cows
Are all gone and his mother
Felt angry then bitter and
She turned away as if he
Were someone else’s boy.


Kids just went where they wanted then;
There wasn’t a rec center or little league,
But the mill hill boys had a team,
The town school boys had their teams,
And we’d walk two or three miles
To a school playground or a vacant lot
Big enough to put out rocks for bases,
And maybe somebody’s older brother
Would umpire from behind the pitcher,
And the ball would be one stolen
From outside the college field
By a boy who had his ass beat
On the first try but somehow escaped.
Three or four guys had gloves that
We shared with the other team
So that everybody but the outfielders
Had one, and the catcher might be
Beaten to a pulp or busted in the nuts,
But the game went on till the first
Team scored twenty runs and then
A fight usually commenced
Till we got so tired of cussing and punching
That we limped back to the hill
Full of victory and the anticipation
Of the next Saturday and the next
Till the day we’d have to go to high school
With those town boys and we’d
Be fighting them again
For their girlfriends.


The two mill towns hated each other
And they packed old Webb Field
On a Sunday afternoon in the 20’s,
Women dressed in their finest,
Dresses and hats, men in Sunday suits,
Yet there were bottles and knives
And bets aplenty so when the ump
Called a hometown boy out at the plate
In the bottom of the first, they began
To move down from the stands
Toward each other wielding weapons,
And just before the first blows landed,
A rain erupted, biblical in its ferocity,
Four or five inches deep on the field,
And the crowd fled in their ruined finery,
Walking to their lookalike rental houses
Only a few blocks away where
It had not rained a drop.

Henry River: An American Ruin Update

My recent review of Henry River now includes an interview with the poet Tim Peeler:

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Book Review/ Interview: Brenton Booth Punching The Teeth From The Sky. Epic Rites Press, 2016 (52 pages).

Brenton Booth Punching The Teeth From The Sky

This is the first extended collection of poetry by the Sydney poet Brenton Booth. Like others in the Epic Rites Press line up, he uses clear, sparse free verse to string together a few unconventional but miraculous hits.

There are twenty-five poems in this collection and the book can be comfortably read in thirty minutes. The poems were written between 2004 and 2016 and some have previously appeared in small press journals such as Chiron Review, Dead Snakes, Zombie Logic Review, Zygote in my Coffee and Bold Monkey.

Most of the poems are first person narrative poems written from the point of view of the poet and explore a variety of topics, including childhood reminiscences, philosophical ruminations, his relationship with women, the importance of Art and the writing process. The writing is raw and unembellished. The tone is consistent in a terse, self-effacing way.

The book’s cover was designed by Canadian poet and artist R L Raymond. It features a brick wall whose window has more recently been bricked in with the words “PUNCHING THE TEETH FROM THE SKY” graffitied in red on it.

The title poem ‘Punching The Teeth From The Sky’ is the last poem in the collection and is about a road trip written in the frenzied style of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It charts the poet’s impulsive romp through several towns on the east coast of Australia, including Byron Bay and Nimbin, and the strange people he encounters.

Booth lived in Sydney’s red-light district, King’s Cross, for twelve years and has worked in a variety of low paying, dead end jobs, such as, as a dishwasher, cashier, cleaner, usher and bartender. He expresses an empathy for the homeless (‘Ripped Off’) and the suicidal (‘Suicide Scars’) and often writes about how ordinary experiences have evoked in him a deeper sense of truth and of possibilities.

For Booth, just under the surface of things is the “long struggle”, to hold onto whatever he can to keep him going. Women help. Reading and listening to the masters helps. But above all else, the process of capturing the essence of his life through his writing helps him to survive and continue.

In the interview which follows, Brenton Booth mentions that as a young man he had suicidal thoughts, but his life changed when he chanced upon a second hand book shop, while working as a security guard in Sydney:

“Where I grew up people didn’t read books. At the time I was working as a security guard in a perfume factory in the city and had really lost any desire I had to live. Then one day after a 12-hour shift I passed a second-hand bookstore on the way to buying dinner in Chinatown. For some reason I decided to go inside and buy some books. I’d never really read a book before. I just got a few from every section. I ended up with Hemingway, Blake, Freud, Wilde, Whitman, Chekhov and a few autobiographies and others I can no longer remember.

Reading those books suddenly gave my life a purpose I had never had before. Those pages introduced me to the minds of people I never thought existed, people who bled, people who thought, people who were concerned with the meaning of things, and I wanted to be one of those people. Problem was I was always ashamed of my lack of education and didn’t believe I was smart enough to write.”

Many of the poems in the collection refer to writers, or metafictionally, the process of writing. ‘Searching For Hemingway’ is a rare third person poem about a Hemingway fan who travels to Cuba to rent out Hemingway’s old room so he can be inspired to write. ‘Re-Reading Chekhov’s The Seagull’ is a glowing tribute to the playwright and is directly addressed Chekhov. The poet praises him for saving his life. ‘Fante Is With Me Tonight’ is about an unpublished writer who sits alone in a cheap LA room under the belief that he “will one day be great.”

Booth recently related an interesting personal anecdote to me in which he explained the genesis of the poem and says of Fante, “John Fante had a big impact on me. Ask the Dust and Wait Until Spring Bandini introduced me to an honesty that in literature I think only Gorky can match, and maybe Carver at times. I love the man. And I definitely strive for the same honesty in my work, and hopefully achieve it sometime. Anyway, when I first read Fante I was living in a tiny apartment in Kings Cross living on cheap food and inspiration and the belief that writing is all that matters. As the years passed I eventually got a full-time job and had a little money to travel. I ended up in Downtown Los Angeles where of course Fante lived in Ask the Dust. I stayed in this really cheap hotel because that was basically the only place I could afford. And one night the poem came.”

Booth curiously shares a love for many of Charles Bukowski’s heroes: Fante, Chekhov, Knut Hamsun, Bach, Dostoyevsky, Hemingway and others. Asked about these similarities and the impact Bukowski had on his writing, Booth says:

“I guess we both listen to classical music. I started listening to it as a kid because my father listened to it. I didn’t read him until I was 24. I was in a production of ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ acting as the priest- funny casting right? The guy playing Big Daddy found out I wrote and asked me about my writing. I told him and he said that it sounded a lot like this American writer called Charles Bukowski. I’d never heard of him before. But read him a few months later. The book was The Most Beautiful Woman in Town. I thought it was great. Especially the title story. And since then I have read everything he has written. Like many other writers of course. And I suppose all of them have had an influence on my writing in some way.”

Booth is also a poet of social comment although he is reluctant to admit this. In some of his more memorable poems, Booth openly expresses a distaste for the system. In ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ he drunkenly dances with his girlfriend happy “not to be trapped in/ the false wheel of/ success that never goes anywhere.” In ‘Reason’ he reckons the animals “got it right” “and never/failed like us: with/ religion,/ money, murder,/ suicide,/ countries,/ politics,/ depression,/ depravity, disease.” In ‘Cemetery’ as a young adult, he rails against the death-in-life quality of work:

All working full-time jobs to pay
our way in society. In buildings
that no matter how hard I tried to
find another comparison, felt exactly
like those graveyards.

Another prominent theme in the collection is the passing of time. Booth wavers between wanting to accept that “all things change” (‘The Up And Down’) but sometimes wanting to preserve the moment. At the conclusion of the poem ‘Together’, Booth achingly grasps the ephemeral nature of love as a temporary reprieve from the “insanity” of the world:

naked and silent
the world at war outside
but we are protected
unconscious to it now
our pulses together
our heads on the same pillow
though deep inside a slight fear
the fear that this
could come
to an end.

Punching The Teeth From The Sky is a short, authentic collection. In his re-imaginings of city life, Booth pays tribute to the masters but also stamps out the territory for his own emerging voice.

 A poem from the collection Punching The Teeth From The Sky:


She left me at 5am
to go back to her
husband and kids.
I met her at midnight
at the local bar. I was
strutting around like
the toughest guy on
earth. “If you’re so
tough, show me your
hard-on!” she said.
I sat with her. She
had coke and shared
it with me. A few hours
later we were naked.
She sucked me but I
couldn’t get it up
because of the coke.
“Not much use, are
you.” I told her to
lay down and open
her legs and went to
work. She moaned like
a virgin. “Just imagine
what I could do if I had
a boner.” Well I jiggled
it and shook it and she
tried sucking me a few
more times but it just
wouldn’t work. And now
all I can think about is
that beautiful pussy-
with a hard on and
nothing to do with it.

(reprinted with the permission of the poet)

 Buy the book here:

Further Reading:

Find out more about Brenton Booth here:

Read Brenton Booth’s first published poem:

Brenton, congratulations on your book it is a great achievement. How did you come up with the stunning title ‘Punching The Teeth From The Sky’ which is the name of the last poem in your collection?
It is actually a line from a poem I wrote a couple of months ago. The poem had the line “waiting for the stars to punch the teeth from the sky”. And I called that particular poem ‘Punching The Teeth From The Sky’ originally. It wasn’t until after Wolfgang asked me for 32 pages that I decided to use it as the title and also to change the name of the last poem in the book from ‘On The Tar’ to it.
On your Acknowledgements page you thank Wolfgang Carstens “for being one tough beautiful motherfucker!” What was he like to work with and can you fill us in on the process from your original submission to your book’s eventual publication and release?
Wolf is amazing! Not only is he a truly great writer, he is also a great editor. He is the guy I know I can send my best work to and he will get it. I often hold stuff back because I know it isn’t fancy enough or says too much, etc. That is never a problem with him: he is a great reader.
This is actually the third book of mine that he has accepted for publication. ‘Dying Under An Unforgiving Sun’ was part of the Punk Chapbook Series 1. And ‘Dancing On The Cactus’ will be part of series 2. For this book he sent me an email asking me for 32 pages. A few days later I sent him ‘Punching’. He quickly let me know he “loved it” and apart from requesting 2 extra poems of my choice, left it exactly as I sent it. He gave me complete freedom, saying, “ He loved what I did, and didn’t want to mess with it.”
Not long after that he sent me a PDF proof to approve and the galleys of the cover by Canadian poet and artist R L Raymond, which I immediately liked.
A couple of weeks later I had a ‘bound proof’ sent to me for final approval and about a week later the book was officially released.
You started writing when you were nineteen. Why did you decide to write the stuff and who were some of your early influences and why? Were you mainly writing for yourself or for a wider audience in mind?
Where I grew up people didn’t read books. At the time I was working as a security guard in a perfume factory in the city and had really lost any desire I had to live. Then one day after a 12-hour shift I passed a second-hand bookstore on the way to buying dinner in Chinatown. For some reason I decided to go inside and buy some books. I’d never really read a book before. I just got a few from every section. I ended up with Hemingway, Blake, Freud, Wilde, Whitman, Chekhov and a few autobiographies and others I can no longer remember.
Reading those books suddenly gave my life a purpose I had never had before. Those pages introduced me to the minds of people I never thought existed, people who bled, people who thought, people who were concerned with the meaning of things, and I wanted to be one of those people. Problem was I was always ashamed of my lack of education and didn’t believe I was smart enough to write. So I tried to be an actor instead. Fortunately one day an acting teacher told me to get a notepad and put my thoughts into it every day. I did and started writing poems and stories in there instead. They were not so good but I persisted. I definitely had a wider audience in mind, but knew at the time I was not ready for that yet.
In your bio at the end of the book you state that your first poem was published when you were thirty-three. What kept you going all those years? Can you remember the name of your first poem and the circumstances of its publication?
My first published poem was ‘After Midnight’ published by Jack T Marlowe on Gutter Eloquence. Writing for me is not really about getting published. Sure I like it, because people get the chance to read my work, and I definitely write for readers. Though I don’t believe it is necessary to be published to be a writer. If I had never been published at all I would be putting exactly the same into it every day. It is like breathing to me, without it, I would choke. I always saw every page I filled as vitally important to myself, and literature, and still do.
You have worked at a variety of jobs, including security guard, blackjack dealer, clothing salesperson and currently, a deck hand. How has your working experiences shaped your writing?
Work is something I do to get money to live and write. I don’t think any job has had a major influence on my writing.
You lived in the Potts Point/ Kings Cross area for about ten years. What was it like living there and how has it changed since the lock-out laws which restrict the drinking of alcohol in bars and clubs?
Kings Cross, Sydney’s ‘red light’ district, was a good place to live for a writer. I lived there for over 12 years. It was a loose, wild, beautiful place. It has all changed now though, and it is not just the lockout laws: it started happening years before that. It used to be full of outsiders, and few rules, now it is full of surveillance cameras, and safe, conservative, boring people. 

Are you essentially a confessional poet?
I write about what I believe I know, whether that be a personal experience, or someone I knows personal experience, or a fiction created to get across a certain point I have in mind.

How would you describe your style?

Constantly evolving.

Do you have any overall intentions as a writer?

To say the things that need to be said. To be a source of reality in a world of unreality. To keep the tradition of art alive.

One of the best poems in the collection is ‘CRESCENDO’ in which you describe the euphoria you feel in listening to Tchaikovsky’s Suit Number 3. You clearly love music and it helps to sustain you but can you describe the specific context leading up to you writing and editing this poem?

It isn’t actually a poem. It is half a page taken without any editing from an unpublished stream of conscious novella I wrote five years ago over a period of two days. It is not unusual for me to write spontaneously, without much, or any, editing. Most of my stuff comes that way.

The content of the poem is simply a feeling I quite often get when listening to classical music. To me it is the ultimate music, and true art.  

You mention a number of other famous creative artists in your book: Hemingway, Chekhov, Fante, Bach- to name a few of your heroes. You also mention the mixed martial arts fighter Randy Couture. Who else would you include amongst your favourite contemporaries?

Marlon Brando, Evan Tanner, Jackson Pollock, Nick Diaz, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Knut Hamsun, Henry Miller, Francis Bacon, Voltaire, Phillip Glass, and of course Dostoyevsky.

What’s next for you? Do you have any projects presently cooking?

Just keep writing; that’s the important thing.

Thanks for your time Brenton and all the best with your book!

Thanks man. I appreciate your support.

New Release: Karina Bush MAIDEN. 48th Street Press, Philadelphia, 2016 (43 pages)

Limited to 99 copies, this is the latest release from iconic 48th Street Press. This is Irish writer Karina Bush's first collection and consists of 41erotic love poems.

Find out more about the book and Karina Bush's writing here:

A book review is to follow on Bold Monkey.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Featuring Tim Parkin

A LANGUAGE WARNING TO READERS: M rated poetry- some adult content to follow

Holy Joy for Allen Ginsberg

Running to holy joy with my ears pinned back and hurricane love in my heart

Joy of kicks against vicious anal darkness

Joy of tweaking the nose of federal conspiracy of cabalistic capitalism

Joy of dacking Tony Abt and laughing at his microscopic cock

Joy of reverberating with hilarious companions and feeling love-struck and passionate blessed awe

Joy of being overwhelmed with enthusiasm for all fruits of fertile earth, full of budding glory and full of glorious buds

The air is holy, space and time are holy, the chora of coincidence is double-choc holy

Every tree and creature is a Bible portraying a loving Buddha-God incarnate

O sacred Ginsberg

Great bearded bodhisattva who berates the military industrial mind-fuck come-down conspiracy

Calling them out on their death-lust and murderous urgings from ultra-zen East Village New York side-walks

Dancing down water-colour rainbow roads with harmonium and gnostic humour

Spinning words like yo-yos with Whitmanesque wonder and universal compassion

I hear your voice great sage and prophet-poet who blasts the bomb by saying Om

And calls forth forgotten America with lascivious dactylic lines of passionate poesy

I hear your voice master teacher, gentle prophet and blessed fool for love in all your sanctified inscriptions

You beat down the CIA with hobo love and succulent sound-bites

You pumped out magic texts against the rapist mind of Moloch

You took off your clothes to say that America had your entire soul revealed for health and healing

You ignited the children of flowers with Buddhist Jedi mind gimmicks and dancing sunshine Manhattan madness

As you heard Blake I long to hear your stratagems, stoned and impeccable with my beard well stroked by forbidden books and day-dreams

Pre-rejection jitter-bug blues

Because you’re gorgeous

And I’m decrepit and fat

Because you’re a wonderful woman

And I’m a corrupt middle-aged man

Because you’re an indelible arrow in my heart

And I’m a drug-ravaged mop-haired cliché

Because you know all the cool new bands

And I’m stuck in the nineties

Because you’re nubile and radiant

And I’m corpulent and a bit of downer

Because you’re a heavenly angel

And I’m a horrible toad

And I’m not sure if I’ll turn into a prince

Even if you kiss me

Because you’re rapidly transmogrifying into a goddess from my unconscious mind

A sacred projection of my deepest anima

So high above and so lovely

But this is not healthy

You want a man, not a worshipper

So I postpone and procrastinate

About telling you

How much you mean to me

And just try to be friends

But not in a passive-aggressive ‘Nice-Guy’ way

Because I know the answer to the song of my heart

Will be no


After work drinks while I was working as a shipping clerk

Whole office in a pub in Northbridge

Five beers

Improved social skills

Feel relaxed and engaged talking to beautiful women

Ten beers

Not so many social skills

Starting to be a bit of a dick

Starting to repeat myself

Fifteen beers

No social skills

Slurred speech

Load of toads squirming and whirling in my brain

Pissed as Bukowski, I stagger off from the pub, collapse in an alleyway on James Street and fall asleep

Wake up early in the morning surrounded by graffiti covered walls on cold bitumen

There is a weedy little guy with a beard and a shit-eating grin on his face staring at me

When he can see that I am awake he says:

‘I sucked your dick while you were asleep’

I am struck dumb and numb by shock

Not a good feeling- paranoia ensues

I get up and walk briskly away towards the train

At least he didn’t fuck my ass


I wonder what it would be like to have a wife
I wonder this a lot until the meme eats into my brain and repeats continuously
What would it be like
What would it be like
To have someone to listen to my bullshit
And tell me that everything will be okay when I'm depressed
Someone to tell me that she loves me when it seems like rabid wookies are at the door
When the schizophrenics gibber and the bipolars polarize
When the autistics discuss their interests and the learning disabled drool
She would be there for me
When the dominant males preen and the poets dream
When the vicious harridans howl and the posers pontificate
She would be there for me
Every person needs a companion
Say the cold fingers of genetic fate around my throat
My soul screams for unity in togetherness
My soul howls for love

If I had a wife
I would insert the words 'my wife' into myriad sentences
Like women always insert the words 'my boyfriend' or 'my husband' when they're talking to me
Just so I think they're taken whether they're single or not and I don't have a chance in hell
I'd say things like:
My wife has a stomach ache and

My wife loves to eat peaches or
My wife is a divine angel of pure light and her breasts smell like strawberries or
My wife gave me a most excellent blow-job this morning and now the whole universe sparkles with possibilities

Somewhere between divine and human
Loved forever no matter how much this crazy world longs for the abyss
She will be my soul mate and my partner in crime
My dearest confidante and my gorgeous honey-darling
My antithesis and my synthesis
I wonder if she's out there now
Locked up in some kafkaesque insane asylum tied down on a stretcher, overdosing on anti-psychotics
I might channel Sean Connery's James Bond and go and rescue her
If only I knew where she was
Or if she even exists

I in my Image for Dylan Thomas

I in my image who never sought scandal

Fried in a vision of celluloid mist

Bearded and beaded and broken like egg-shells

Newspaper lifelines that twist around friends

I in my image of speech bubble sentiment

Mired in the marrow and marred in the bone

Cracked and corrupted like a corpse’s maggot

Craving an instant of vegetable sleep

I in my image of gossip hewn character

Sliced to a stereotypical density

Daily confused by bent backed insanity

Near to a candle-shine movement of light

I in my image so soaking in solace

With cellophane junctures of alien anxiety

Woman soaked consciousness restrained by indifference

Never becoming yet destined to die

I in my image Hawaiian shirt swollen

Bent bud-brain reeling by gleaning the green

Poison attempts to fit into the in crowd
Caustic of consequence that mutters an end

BIO: Tim Parkin is a hairy and cuddly mammal from Carlisle in Perth. He started writing poetry in his teens but then stopped and wrote only song lyrics for 20 years. During this time he completed an honours degree in Linguistics, several stays in psychiatric hospitals and played about sixty gigs around Perth with his band Berbermerkin. He has also recently completed a diploma in divinity at Vose Seminary but is not very divine. At the start of 2014 he started writing poetry again and has not stopped since, and has regularly attended Perth Poetry Club. He works as a research assistant at Curtin University and has been published in Creatrix, Uneven Floor, Writ Poetry Review, Wide Load Zines, The Bitchin’ Kitsch and Naked Press Tank.

Music:  free mp3s to download
Berbermerkin’s Album (can listen)