Posts Tagged ‘Awesome poetry’

large_the_bones_of_saints_under_glassSometimes, a book of poems comes along that is beautifully written, but it also portrays life in a way that is very personal to me.

The Bones of Saints Under Glass by Jeff Fleming is one of those books.

The poems in this chapbook deal   with death, love, and family relationships.  There is sorrow sprinkled with bits of joy.  There is the death of a mother.  There is the beauty of young sons.  It is real.  It is the story of life.


Jeff Fleming paints a vivid landscape with an economy of words.  Each word is carefully placed within the landscape.  In the title poem, the narrator is hiking.


“There is no trail before me

but a rough, jagged path


flows out behind,

slowly disappearing


as the plants I’ve crushed

stand upright again.”


Near a cluster of yellow flowers, the narrator sees the skeleton of a small bird, bleached white.  Like all of the poems in this book, it is a moment in the palm of a hand.  But it is so much more than that.  The moment echoes with questions and observations about life.


Ratchet is a poem that tells the story of an “ordinary” day.  Even an ordinary day paints the larger picture of a family.


“Most days, my mother

sat in the living room

knitting. Her sneezes

sounded like questions.”


The poem then pivots to the father.  With a wonderfully light touch, Fleming shows us the divide between father and son.  The father takes the son out to the garage on weekends and patiently explains “the intricacies of everyday/machinery…”

The narrator ends with a gentle understanding.  “It was the only poetry he had.”


Each poem in this book breathes.  The subjects are universal.   No matter who we are or where we are born, we all have to deal with relationships and the loss of loved ones.  Jeff Fleming does it in a way that is not overly dramatic.  It touches me in a way that I can apply to my own life.


Of course, not all of the poems deal with death specifically, and all of the poems make me think.  But as we pass that “invincible” age, many of us begin to think about death in a different way.  I am fortunate that my mother is alive.  I have acted very immature during the death of other loved ones.  When the time comes for me to say goodbye to my mother, I hope I can remember the wisdom in these poems.


Swimming in Beauty and Light shows the physical death of the mother and how the narrator deals with the pain.


“I am alone, crumpled

in a chair at the foot of your metal

bed, a cage trapping you in this life

a little longer…”


There is deep pain.  There is beauty in the physical act of dying.  And there is also acceptance.  The narrator thinks of how others will deal with his own death.


“They will see me pass

and sadness

will overflow their hearts

and consume them for a time,

but when they break the surface

of pain and breathe the world

anew, the sky will seem washed clean,

Cradled by life,

they will own their days again.”


In the end of the poem, the narrator imagines himself in that “otherwhere” with his father and mother.  They will be “swimming in beauty and light.”


Even with resolution, the questions and pain do not end after a physical death. Orphan Poem One punched me in the gut for many reasons.  The narrator’s cell phone rings.  It is the narrator’s mother.  The mother begins to talk.  She even acknowledges a couple of the narrator’s questions.  But the narrator cannot understand what she is saying.  She is dead.


The last poem in the collection, Empty Farmhouse, leaves me breathless.  An old house was abandoned when the crops failed.  An apple tree has been blown over by a storm, and it leans on the house.  Yet it continues to grow apples and drop them into the house through an open window


“leaving seeds that struggle

to grow among


abandoned furniture.”


Like the seeds that struggle to grow, we are left on this earth when our loved ones are gone.  But there is beauty, even in death.  There is joy as the next generation takes its place.  And there is the comforting thought that someday, we will swim together in that beauty and light.


I’d better stop myself now, or I’ll examine every poem in the book.  Whether you’re a dorky language nerd like me or someone who just enjoys a good read, I highly recommend The Bones of Saints Under Glass.


I should also mention the great cover art, which was done by Hosho McCreesh.  Hosho is another poet on the top of my list.


You can order the The Bones of Saints Under Glass HERE.

Note the low price!!!  I am a HUGE fan of Propaganda Press.  The work is high quality, and the prices are affordable, which puts poetry where it belongs.  In the hands of people.


Jeff Fleming is also the editor of nibble, which is an awesome poetry magazine.  Be sure to check it out.  A new issue is in the works.


And as always…

None of us poets are jack squat without you, the reader.

In other words, I appreciate you very much.  Thanks for reading!


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Issue #3 of ouroboros review is out, and I’m tickled to death.   Translation:

I’m as happy as a little school girl.   If you are a regular reader here, I’m sure

you’ve heard me talk about how beautiful ouroboros is.  This issue is no

exception.  It is outstanding.


Ouroboros Review is edited by Jo Hemmant and Christine Swint, two very

talented poets who have taken the small press by storm.   This edition

features the work of John Siddique and Denise Duhamel.  You’ll also

find excellent work by John Walsh, Susan Richardson, Louisa Adjoa Parker,

Michelle McGrane, Carolee Sherwood, Karen Head, Matthew Hittinger, and

many more fine poets and artists.  I always get nervous when I start naming

names, because I want to kick myself later.  I don’t mean to leave anyone

out.  It’s all fantastic.


Also, be sure to check out the reviews and interviews.  Michelle McGrane has

a great interview with John Siddique.  Michelle is my friend from

peony moon.  If you haven’t checked out her blog, you’re missing a world

of great poetry.  Michelle also has a chapbook coming out via

Pindrop Press in 2010.  I can’t wait to read it.  Michelle is the author of

Fireflies & Blazing Stars (2002) and Hybrid (2003).


Did I mention the art?  Yes, ouroboros review has beautiful art and

photography, too.  But I’ll try to stop glowing for a minute, so you can see it

for yourself.  Check out ouroboros review HERE.   If you would like to

purchase a print copy, click on “Bookstore.”  The print copies are beautiful,

and I love holding them in my hands.


Congratulations and a big tip of the hat to Jo and Christine on ouroboros




UPDATE:  The next reading period for ouroboros review has begun and

will continue until the end of August.  One change is the art– ouroboros is

now looking for black and white photos or paintings.



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Big Hammer 004Three of my poems are in Big Hammer

#13.  The poems are titled Worker’s

Compensation Blues, They Bill Him Out,

and Jobs Are Hard To Find In Rural Ohio &

If You Call OSHA, This Place Will Close.


I’ve been grinning like a fool for the past

two days, because I’m holding a copy in

my hands.  Edited by Dave Roskos, who is

an excellent poet, Big Hammer is an

awesome zine full of big names and even

bigger poetry. 


Big Hammer #13 is dedicated to Mary Beth Roskos and Dave Church.

Many people are familiar with Dave Church’s powerful work.  Yes, it is in



I found a link for ordering from outlaw poetry and free jazz network,

which is one of my favorite places to read on the net.   To check it out or place

an order, click HERE.


After you click the above link, scroll down and look at that fellow’s picture.

Yep.  Kell Robertson is in there showing the world how it’s done.  If you’ve

read this site for any time now, you know how much I love Kell’s work.  But

I’d better hush about that, or I’ll start talking about flaming arrows going

through my country soul or some such girlie stuff.


My tip of the hat to Kell isn’t intended to discredit anyone else, though.  I love

it all.


Dave Roskos has been bringing great poetry to the world for a long time, and

IniquityPress/Vendetta Books publishes high quality work.  If you want

to read poetry about real people, poetry with teeth, blood, soul and sweat,

then this is the place to go.


Instead of looking at my pathetic attempts to download pictures, look at this

link from outlaw poetry and free jazz network to see more Iniquity

Press titles HERE. There is a great bio of Dave Roskos and his work.  I also

love the description of the people Dave publishes.  I almost fell off my chair

when I read about the old tire soap trick.  I thought my family invented that



The books are excellent.  Right now, I’m reading light dark light by Tom

Kryss, and I’m blown away.  Thank you, Dave.


I encourage everybody to check out all the titles and all the Big Hammer

issues in the links above.  It will be easier for folks in the states to order Big

Hammer #13 by sending ten bucks via paypal to iniquitypress@hotmail.com

or by mail (no checks please) to  POB 54, Manasquan, NJ 08736.   The work is



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It’s been an extra good week for me, because I also have a new poem at      Rusty Truck.   How’s that for a cool title?  In my opinion, rusty trucks are the best ones of all.  I love the header picture and layout, too.  The work over there has been blowing me out of my seat since Rusty Truck began.

Many people already know the editor of Rusty Truck.  Scot Young is an excellent poet, and you can find his work at his blog, Be Not Inhospitable To Strangers.  Scot also has amazing interviews and reviews of some great poets.  Take some time to flip through his blog archives to see what he has done.

You can read my poem either at the link above or HERE.  Be sure to check out all the awesome work and bookmark Rusty Truck for future reads.

I like rust.  And I think Scot’s truck is going to keep running for a long time.



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The darkness of the world often makes me want to howl at the moon.  Starving children in Haiti.  A woman whose life has been shattered by rape.  A man bleeding on the side of the road.  The list of injustice and suffering goes on and on.  All of the hurt sometimes seems too much to handle.

But every now and then, something comes along to shatter the darkness.  A voice of humanity, one that says, hell yeah, it can be dark, but I’ve got to keep going.  That’s what the poetry of Christopher Cunningham means to me.

I’ve been a fan of Christopher Cunningham’s work for quite a while now.  He’s certainly not a newcomer and has had several publications, including Screaming in Some Beauty, Flowers in the Shadow of the Storm, Thru the Heart of This Animal Life, A Measure of Impossible Humor, and many more.

In A SOUND TO DRIVE AWAY THE COMING DARKNESS, Cunningham once again displays a mastery of language with clean, smooth lines.  Yet each line is lyrical, each verse is a beautiful song unto itself.  Already, I have dog eared the book from reading it so many times.

The poems in this book are not “starry eyed,” nor do they deny the darkness.  In his poem outsiders, the dog is behind a fence on a short leash in a cold rain.

“there is no help


the darkness

of the deluge.”

But I love the fact that the dog does not whimper.  He does not curl up and die.  The dog’s lungs are strong.  Even when he battles the wind and the thunder and no one hears, he does not stop.  And as the powerful ending of the poem tells us,

“the chain


when the lightning


I will never forget the image of that shining chain in the darkness.

The poems in this book realistically portray the darkness, the human search for answers, the human quest to find the light.  In looking for meaning where there is none, the sun is

“an ugly tumor

in the

baleful sky.”

Yet the narrator is alive.

“that is



in this




Cunningham’s poem, the capacity to be stunned by grace, reveals to the reader the sound that will drive away the coming darkness.  Laughter!  Who could not love that?  Who could not love a poet who has the capacity to laugh when peering into the barrel of the loaded darkness?

Cunningham’s sense of humor can also be seen in poems like the salad is too damn wet.  We can all relate to those disappointments of life, and the human reaction:

“we want the best,

we want the topnotch,

we want the giddiness,

we want the joy.

and we are almost certain


nothing can




and then it does.”


Still, we eat the soggy salad anyway.  Because that is what we must do.

I cannot help but think of one of the most powerful scenes in western literature when I read this book–the final scene from The Grapes of Wrath.  Even when the water is rising and all is lost, there is the struggle to survive.  The small ones do not give up.  In Cunningham’s world, a homeless Vietnam vet makes choppers out of discarded soda cans.  A murder of crows rises up through the gloom like a black sun.  There is hope.  There is life.

I could write an essay about each one of the wonderful poems in this book.  However, I should let you check it out for yourself.  A SOUND TO DRIVE AWAY THE COMING DARKNESS can be purchased  at alt-current.com for ($6 + $2 shipping in US, $3 shipping outside of US) by clicking HERE.

You can also send cash, check, or money order (made out to Alternating Current) to:

Alternating Current PO Box 398058, Cambridge MA 02139 USA, or Paypal the complete amount to the email address alt.current@gmail.com.

You can also check out Christopher’s work at Guerilla Poetics Project.

A SOUND TO DRIVE AWAY THE COMING DARKNESS is well worth the low price.  I tip my hat to you, Christopher Cunningham.  Your words have been a great light during some of my darkest days.

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