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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Featuring Todd Cirillo

Gravitational Force

Even at this moment,
sitting across from you
working on our computers
separately and silently,
I can feel it,
like the tides
reaching for the moon,
an unseen force
pulling me

Still Drinking Alone

Lunch at the Witt's Inn.
I sit at the bar
the only other customer
orders another
shot of Samba
and a Budweiser.
Speaks out loud
to no one particular,
me I guess,
"I was born
in 1958,
in the Navy
we drank Ouzo
in Greece.
There's been
a lot of hard living
between then
and now."

At 11:48a.m.
on a Monday
I believe him.

Good Strategy
            --for Wolfgang Carstens
There is a man
way up north,
beyond borders, plains, 
and mountain ranges.
Without his beard he looks respectable
He has a wife,
mortgage, a snow blower,
more kids, bills, and responsibilities
than I will ever know. 
I imagine him 
at a mild-mannered job
maybe wearing a uniform,
stocking shelves.
A man working
peacefully within the system.
Volunteers for the graveyard shift
allowing the darker words
to form under the florescent glow
of aisle 9
but at home
when the seal is broken,
the fridge is stocked,
and he is firing on all cylinders,
he is a motherfucking Mack truck
of a man
barreling through every barricade—
poetic and otherwise,
smoking, drinking,
making videos 
of himself reading 
tough and unforgiving 
poems he has written.
Until it is time to punch in once again.
I can only sit back
in awe and admiration
at his brutal strategy
of total retaliation
ALL of it.

(Epic Rites Broadside, 2017)

December 31st
Last year 
we celebrated 
your birthday
and the new year
I told you
to blow out
the candle
and make a wish
over a 
Mexican dessert
but not to tell me
what you wished for.
This year
we don't 
I like to tell myself
you wished for
a new car.

Thanks Sweetie
            --for Annie Menebroker
“Hi sweetie”,
were the first words 
Annie spoke to me
and that is all it took.
Over the years,
I would call her
my traveling partner.
She would laugh
and tell me she was a 
traveling partner 
who didn’t travel anywhere.
She would open our conversations with,
“love to see all your pictures
of the places you go,
things you see, 
and hear the music 
you get to dance to”.
In June,
we spoke by phone 
and ended 
as we always did,
Annie telling me,
“thanks for calling sweetie”
followed by my,
“love you Annie”.
except this time,
each of us added 
a goodbye.
My traveling partner 
provided me with more
stories than she would admit to
and material for the heart
to last my lifetime--
and perhaps that’s why 
I live in New Orleans
where I get called “sweetie”
at least twice a day,
and everytime
I am reminded 
of my traveling partner
so I always say,
“thanks sweetie” back,
just in case
I never told her enough
while she 
was still

Todd Cirillo loves good times and shiny moments. He lives in New Orleans so there are plenty of those to be found. His latest book is Burning the Evidence, (Epic Rites Press, 2017). He can be found at and youtube.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Call for Submissions: 48th Street Press 2017 Broadside Series

A note from Chris of 48th Street Press: I am writing to solicit submissions for a 2017 broadside series.  In addition to publishing five chapbooks, (‘Someone Who Loved You’ by F.A. Nettelbeck; ‘Pied Piper of Advanced Perception’ and ‘The Song That Ends Ends Our Singing’ both by Douglas Blazek; ‘Corrugator’ by Paul Harrison; and ‘Maiden’ By Karina Bush) the press has run a broadsides series. 

Since 2010, ‘48th Street Press’ has published 1,000 + broadsides a year.  The broadsides are simple ink on colored card stock, produced on a laser printer, in an edition of 20 copies per poem, signed and numbered by the poet. Poets are requested to send back TWO broadsides from each printed poem.  The remaining broadsides are for the poet to distribute however s/he feels.  They make nice giveaways at readings, sell comfortably for $1-3.00, or accompany book orders, etc. 

Our goal is to distribute handsomely printed poems and create a community of poets and readers through the project.  The small edition run, 20 copies, and the individualization of each broadside helps create a relationship between writer and reader. Broadsides have been sent to Canada, Argentina, Australia, The Netherlands, The U.K., Ireland, India, Belgium, and, of course, the U.S.  

A few sample images of the broadsides -

A nice write up on the press -

Submission Guidelines

- We prefer unpublished poems, but will accept published poems, however it is difficult to put previous publishing credits onto the broadsheet.

- Please submit up to five poems, less than 300 words, or 35 lines. 

The color, font, size, etc. will be at our discretion although we are open to suggestions.  A PDF will be sent with the format of the broadside for approval. 

- Kindly send a mailing address, an address you are likely to be at in July.  

The call for submissions will be open until May 3; the broadsides will mail the first week of July. 


When you receive the broadsides in mid-June, I ask that you send me back, in an envelope that I will provide, TWO broadsides from each set of 20.  The two broadsides that I’d like back are to keep a record of the project.  

We look forward to reading all submissions.  Feel free to pass this email along to any interested parties.  

We hope the broadsides pollinate and spread their wings.  

Saturday, April 15, 2017

First Bread and Roses Poetry Competition 2017

A note from Mike Quille of Culture Matters:

Bread and Roses Poetry Award

Culture Matters is a web platform ( which promotes a progressive political approach to the arts and other cultural activities. In partnership with Unite the Union, we are pleased to announce a new poetry award, sponsored by Unite. It is called the Bread and Roses Poetry Award, and is now open for submissions.
The purpose of the new Award is to encourage poets to focus on themes which are meaningful to working class people and communities, and to encourage those communities to engage more with poetry.
There is a £500 cash prize for the winner, £250 second prize and £100 third prize. The judges will be Andy Croft from Smokestack Books, and Mary Sayer from Unite.
Submission Guidelines
The guidelines are as follows:
Entries should consist of three poems, each no more than 50 lines long. Poems must be the original work of the entrant, in English, and not have been previously published in print or online. Entry is open to everyone regardless of trade union membership, and is free.

Entries should broadly deal with any aspect of working class life, communities and culture and show commitment to the common people, the common good and the common music of poetry.
Poems should be sent via email to:, or by post to Culture Matters, c/o 8 Moore Court, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE15 8QE. The deadline for receipt of submissions is midnight on 31st May 2017. Entries will be anonymised before judging. The winners will be invited to an awards ceremony at the Unite conference in Durham in July.
When emailing or posting submissions please provide your name, email or postal address, and phone number.
All entries remain the copyright of the author but Culture Matters and Unite will have the right to publish and/or broadcast them online and in other media.

Saturday, April 8, 2017


Editor John D. Robinson writes: This series is firing full-blast on all 5 cylinders with 3 legendary poets from the USA;

Gerald Nicosia (author of  ‘Memory Babe: a critical biography of Jack Kerouac)  ‘the definitive work on the life and writings of Jack Kerouac’ A poet of extraordinary depth’  ‘has been blessing the literary pages for 3 decades and more.’

Rob Plath (Has been a presence in the underground poetry for over 25 years and has published poetry all over the world and has many chapbook publications to his name)   ‘A poet of tough versatility: simply put, quality’

Alan Catlin  (Has been a presence in the underground poetry for many years and has published over sixty chapbooks and full length books of prose and poetry, his poetry appears all over the world) ‘A poet that can reach clear across the boundaries with ease.’

and two poets from the UK:
Martin Appleby (Poet and Publisher: Paper & Ink Zine:  some of his poetry has been collected in ‘Worse Things Happen At Sea: Selected Poems’; his work appears widely in the small press and online literary journals: "Martin Appleby is a much needed new poetical voice. Here are poems from the margins, poems from the cultural hinterland, poems from unrequited lovers of the world.’
John D Robinson (Poet and Publisher: Holy&intoxicated Publications: he has published 2 chapbooks of poetry: ‘When You Hear The Bell, There’s Nowhere To Hide’ ‘Cowboy Hats & Railways’ his work appears widely in the small press and online literary publications:
‘A poet, a hard read, a visceral read, with no pretty images, in other words, no bullshit.’

A poem from each contributing poet:

for Lenore Kandel (1932-2009)

Keeping her genius quiet
So that only a few knew
Her heart large
Her suffering long
Her patience endless
Her love unbreakable
Could never say no
Must have embraced death
Like a lover
My only sadness
That the new joys she’s found
Will never be told
To us
In yet another poem

© 2017 Gerald Nicosia

bloody love

all my loves have gone away

only my demons show devotion

they’re always arriving

w/ a bouquet of dark horns

to pierce my heart

© 2017    Rob Plath

Images by Patti Smith

Mundane objects imbued
with deep, personal meaning:

Bolano’s writing chair,
Hesse’s decrepit writing machine,

Virginia Woolf’s tarnished
walking stick,

Jim Carroll’s narrow, single bed,
Fred Smith’s recovered childhood toy;

all their owners gone. A woman
with a camera remembering.

© 2017 Alan Catlin


I woke up
with a split lip
a busted nose
and no memory

Dried blood
and matted
in my moustache

The bastard stuff
wouldn't shift
without ripping
hair from root

Another day
on the front line
in the war
against myself

© 2017 Martin Appleby


The next time I saw Eddie
he said to me
‘Fuck man!
I’ve never woken up
amongst so many
fucked up naked bodies
in one apartment
and when some drunken
clown rang your
door bell at 4am
and you got up and
answered the door

not knowing or
caring who it was
without a thread on
I knew why some
call you ‘Long John’
‘Trick of the light’
I said smiling,
‘make it a Jim Beam’
‘Okay’ Eddie said.

©2017 John D Robinson

Friday, April 7, 2017

Book Review Wayne F. Burke DICKHEAD. BareBackPress, Hamilton Ontario, 2015 (99 pages).

DICKHEAD is the second of three poetry collections that Wayne F. Burke has published in recent years by the Canadian publisher BareBackPress. Some of the poems originally appeared in obscure small press mags such as Dead Flowers, Crack the Spine, Lost Coast Review, Fish Food Magazine, Phantom Kangaroo and several others.

In his Author’s Note at the back of the book, Burke interestingly mentions that although he had published two books of literary criticism and numerous book reviews, articles and some short stories in his 40s and 50s, he did not devote himself seriously to poetry until he was diagnosed with arterial heart disease, and subsequently, after his triple by-pass surgery in 2013. He writes, “ I began writing daily and with a sort of vengeance. A schedule I have followed these past two years and one that has resulted in the book you hold in your hand as well as a previously published volume WORDS THAT BURN and at least one future volume,” later published as KNUCKLE SANDWICHES.

DICKHEAD consists of 74 poems which are divided into eight loosely based sections. Most of the poems are lower case, free verse narratives written in a simple, unembellished style. The poems largely derive from Burke’s vast library of personal anecdotes gleamed from several decades of experiences. The subject matter is varied but often focuses on girls, booze, fights, road trips, dead end jobs or a combination of the above. Some of the later poems are associated with Burke’s post heart-surgery life and examine issues, such as, insomnia, inertia, Bukowski and death.

DICKHEAD is a great title for a book of poetry! It takes its name from the poem “Dickhead” which appears towards the end of the collection. Sitting in a park after dark with his tackle out, the persona of the poem absurdly and outrageously gives his penis a voice: 

My cock starts to shrink,
retreats like a mole into its hole.

I squint at names of Civil War dead on a plaque.

My cock suddenly stands and salutes:
“suck me suck me,” it says.

“Pipe down!” I say
“do you want to get us arrested?”

“Eat shit,” my cock says,
“and also- keep your goddamn hands off me.”

I zip up.

 “I’ll try,” I say
“but no guarantees.”

The poems in the first half of the collection are perhaps amongst the best and include confessional recounts of childhood and young adult threshold tales, usually revealing the anxieties, vulnerabilities and the slim rays of hope of the poet. Best amongst these include “Dead Parents”, “Clown”, “Comb”, “Girlfriend”, “Ballantine” and “A Winner”.

The poem “A Winner” demonstrates tellingly how everything is stacked against the poet and how any victory, however great it may appear at the time, may only be hollow and ephemeral:

A Winner

Driving home from work at midnight
down the belt-line
doing seventy in my Altima Thule XL
in a ridiculously posted
50 mph zone
a car far behind
comes on strong
maybe a cop
and I slow to sixty
and the car
an old sedan
slides past
some peckerwood at the wheel
and I speed up
and we head
neck and neck
down a dog leg
to a hare-pin turn
and the hot shot pulls in front
and when his brake lights go on
I cut into the left lane
and pass him on the turn
as he almost wipes out
as I blow through
the green light,
I’ve won!
Won what?
Won nothing-
could have caused a fiery crash-
why’d I do it?
Must have needed to win
at something.

(reprinted with the permission of the poet)

The other work of note in the collection are the portrait poems, typically of down & out types, living on the margins & who are discarded by society. The best poems along these lines include, “Alone”, “From Brooklyn He Is”, “Eat A Peach” and “Old Buddy”.

The poem “Old Buddy” is interesting in how it repositions the poet, away from the exuberance of youth to middle age and the sense of dislocation that it can bring:

Old Buddy

I stopped in to see my old buddy
in the old neighbourhood
he did not recognize me
because I wore mirror shades
and I thought he might attack
so I tore the glasses off and
then we sat in his backyard which
seemed smaller than I remembered
and when he went back into the house
to get me beer
his mother came out and
looked at me and said
“I wondered who the bald man in the yard was.”
My buddy, who lived in the apartment above
his parents, told me
he was divorced after
his wife ran off with his best friend
and that he, my old buddy, had
got religion
and that
the Bible
was the first book he’d ever read
from beginning to end.

(reprinted with the permission of the poet)

Dickhead is an odd mix of poems which might spark you to write your own shit about sleeping it out in the rough, drunken fist fights, court appearances, crazy road trips and the many fucked-up people you have come across in your life.

For more information about Wayne F. Burke’s poetry follow him on Facebook: