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Archive for January, 2011

I’m excited to have a brand new book of   poetry in my hands–THE LINE BETWEEN by Mark C. Durfee, aka The Walking Man.      Mark is my friend.  I’m proud to tell you that, because he is also a poet with a voice that is strong and honest.  Mark’s work comes from a place deep inside the bones.  Always, it is real.

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The Line Between is the second book in Mark Durfee’s trilogy from Motor City Burning Press.  I’m sure many people remember Stink, but on the off chance that you missed it, be sure to check it out, too.  You can read my take on Stink HERE.

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Cover Photo By Justin Harris

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The Line Between is not as dark as Stink, but it is equally as powerful.  While Stink focuses on life in Detroit, The Line Between gives us the human condition–not  necessarily from a specific location, but from the human heart.

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The book has a haunting and beautiful cover by Justin Harris, who is an amazing photographer of abandoned spaces.  The cover is a great complement to Durfee’s poetry, which rises up like an echo of life.

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As Mark Durfee describes on the first page of his book, the line between is that line we all walk from birth to death.  Sometimes the line is a zig zag.  Sometimes, it curves and takes us to places we never dreamed we’d be.  The way we act and the people we touch while we’re on the line is what matters.

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The book is divided into sections, which refer to different stages or “lines,” and logically begins with children.  In the first section, It Might Have Been A Wonderful Life is a small, powerful poem.  It reminds me of the horror in Stink, in that a mother places her baby in a microwave because she

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“…mistook you for the bottle

she was going to feed you,

to shut you up with

so she could go

pass out again.”

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Yet in the same section, we see the beauty of childhood, as in the piece, Small Happiness, where the narrator watches children who are holding hands and spinning:

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“They had just discovered

the loveliness

of being wondrously dizzy.”

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A poignant section of the book deals with the “Lines of Age.”  It contains the title poem, which was inspired by the author’s grandmother and is a gentle portrait of a family matriarch as she reaches the end of her life:

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“Comforted by her cup of tea

half gone, cold now, she dreams.

She has her chair turned towards the sun,

letting it warm her as she dozes,

snoring softly, occasionally smiles,

in her early afternoon sleep.”

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As a poet, I enjoy Mark Durfee’s portraits of people.  I also appreciate his surprising twists of language and phrases.  Eyes In The Back Of My Head contains one such twist.  Instead of just walking an edge, the narrator walks along the knife’s edge, as really, we all do:

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“I walk the knife’s edge,

the honed side, and am still amazed

that my feet are not cut to ribbons

with each step.”

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There’s no way to truly do the book justice here, because Mark Durfee’s work should be read out loud.  In I’ll Have Mine With Chemical Sprinkles, Durfee describes our modern society’s obsession with feel good consumerism and takes us on a wild ride of sound with lines like:

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“Start it with love for the Valium vellum

which allows not for the touching of the feelings

but the excretion of them so we’ll forget

what it was that was wrong that needed our dealing.

Piss on non-prescription pad paper.

Wipe yourself with Prozac then no emotions matter.”

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I would love to hear that poem read out loud!

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The Line Between is an excellent addition to your poetry collection.  My copy is becoming dotted with small smudges and is getting creased where I have turned the pages so many times.  I accidentally left a dog ear on page 57 when I was reading the poem to a friend.  It smells a little like my friend’s cigar.

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Those small marks and scents are the highest compliment I can give any book.  It doesn’t just sit on the shelf.

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For information on ordering The Line Between, click HERE.

The cost for The Line Between by itself is $10.00.

As a special, Stink and The Line Between can be ordered together for $18.00 total.  It’s well worth the low price.

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Well, it’s about time I posted a poem.  I also wanted to stick my head up out of

the hole and say hello again.  The negative part about being “away” is that I

miss the good folks who happen along.

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I’ve been working on some deadline driven projects, which keeps me buried.

But I love the work, so it’s all good.

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First, a couple of notes:

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♦  I read some awesome books in the past few weeks, and I look forward to

telling you more about those.  And there are even more that I can’t wait

to read.  Stay tuned for those shout outs.

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♦  I’ve had a couple of acceptances lately, which is always a great feeling.

I’ll post those as soon as they go live.

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♦   Ashley Capes has written a very nice review about my chapbook.

Thanks, Ashley!  You can read the review HERE.

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I’ve talked about Ashley’s work here in the past, but in case you missed it,

please be sure to check out his books.  I’m a big fan of his work.  I’m not

just saying that because he wrote such a nice review of my chap.  I truly

mean it.  I read Stepping Over Seasons last year, and it was one of my

favorite books of the year.

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Ashley’s first haiku collection, Orion Tips The Saucepan, is available

through Picaro Press.  I love that title!  I will definitely be putting in my

order.  If you click the links above, you can also read sample poems.

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And here’s my poem for today.  No, I’m not making fun of people with

mental illness.  It’s one of my biggest fears, because I sometimes think I am

close to that thin line that divides the “normal” from the “abnormal.”  Not

dangerous abnormal.  But curl up in a ball on the floor and babble abnormal.

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Is that too much information?  Well, shoot.  It shouldn’t be a big shock that

poets grapple with mental demons.  I have a feeling that every human being

does, too.

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Anyway, this is really about my creative process, which is wide open,

nonstop, elevated to one hundred miles an hour, messy, wild, and…errr…a

whole lotta strange.  It’s a visceral, physical thing.  It’s a pinball machine of

nonstop thought, images, and ideas.  Often, it begins with darkness and

sorrow, but then it leads me to some sort of personal resolution.  All those

swirling thoughts have to be caught, tied up, and chiseled into a form.

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Maybe the work is what keeps me sane.  And I’ve never had writer’s block in

my life.  That’s a big plus.

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So, this is where I’m at today.  The end result is good.

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Manic

Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

A cold moon rambles through the branches

and so do I, with zig-zag flashes by the river,

sky lights up burnt faces from half a world away

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and right here on this side, a mother killed her daughter

choked the father, drowned the dog, dropped the bombs

ate the poison, sank the ships, said the talking heads and I

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don’t know what drives this fast train, this static of a brain

with too much something, the rack crack sizzle of all those

swirling words and who knows what might snap underfoot.

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So here I go again, ten miles of river, foaming four a.m.

winding tight through vines and every pulsing vein

along the trail and I don’t care what’s over there I will

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jump the rocks one-two-three, cross the low part rushing,

slice the water, drink the mud, move the biggest boulder

at the end,  look beneath dear God and wonder, but I

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won’t take their pretty purple pills; I’ll go under biting,

write a poem, touch soft faces in the churning eddies,

put small red pebbles in a row—shape, texture, size,

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swing myself to sleep a slow wet creep back to normal,

back to Wednesday morning, back to tackle, hold, love

all the slick, sharp edges of this tilted, spinning world.

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