Archive for the ‘Imitation’ Category

A Hamlet Soliloquy by Dorothy Parker

May 1, 2012 2 comments

by Carolyn Moore

To be, or not to be—
that is the niggle.
Which is the nobler:
to suffer or giggle?

To sleep perchance to dream?
If therein’s the rub,
‘might as well sip gin
and drown in the tub.

Mortal coil, whips, scorns,
bare bodkin and more—
this pale cast of thought
is such a deadly bore.

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Carolyn Moore’s three poetry chapbooks won their respective competitions, as has her book-length collection, Instructions for Traveling Light, pending publication from Deep Bowl Press. She taught creative writing, literature, and critical thinking at Humboldt State University (Arcata, CA) until able to eke out a living as a freelance writer and researcher working from the last vestige of the family farm in Tigard, Oregon.

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April 30, 2012 1 comment

by Nancy Scott

after Borges

Of these streets full of potholes, there’s more
than one where I’ve blown out my tires,
and knowing it, I blame the politicians,
who, always on the verge of losing

the next election, don’t care to make
my ride a smooth one. So many politicians
with no limits, who in this country have we,
unknowingly, said goodbye to for good?

As the next election nears, and claims,
counterclaims, and smears leave only
bitterness to savor, is there, perchance, just one
who will emerge and surprise us?

With a world in foreclosure, I find detours
at every intersection. Even the guy ahead of me,
turn signal wildly blinking, has a spare tire
mounted on his trunk.

The sturdy grey Corolla is, I fear, the last car
I will own. Not one road will miss us
that I’m sure, but I hear a newly paved one
runs past where the burning bushes bloom.

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Nancy Scott (website) is the author of five books of poetry. The most recent (2011) is a chapbook of ekphrastic poems, On Location, published by March Street Press, and dedicated to her grandfather, who emigrated from Russia in 1907. The poems take a whirlwind voyage from Russia to Latin America to Afghanistan, Hungary, England and America. She is also the managing editor of U.S.1 Worksheets and an exhibiting artist. All of these achievements have come about since she retired in 2004.

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I, the Reviewer

April 27, 2012 1 comment

by Parmanu

In the last few days I have had a strange, recurring dream. Woken up at an early hour by persistent knocking at the door, I find a man from the palace with a message from the Magnificent Sultan himself. His Excellency Our Sultan would like to know if the review of the work commissioned to me is complete. I lower my head, partly in fear, partly in shame. Not yet, I reply, and the man goes away, carrying with him my answer that is bound to enrage Our Sultan.

The dream wakes me up, and I sleep fitfully the rest of the night. When morning arrives — by way of a ray of light that illuminates the room with the same strange brightness one sees in the beautiful eyes of Shirin as she gazes at the picture of handsome Hüsrev, the scene painted by the great Master Bihzad — I pick up my pen and decide to complete, all at once, the review I have been struggling to put into words.

But tell me, dear reader, how do I review a work of such beauty?

How do I review a book with pages where every sentence is a story, and where, as you move from one sentence to next you leap from one magical world to another, until, crossing this maze of stories and worlds, you begin to wish it continues forever?

From what viewpoint do I review a work that is conveyed not only through words of people like you and me, but also as the sermon of a Dog, the lament of a Tree, the adventures of a Gold Coin, the boast of colour Red, the lecture of a proud Horse, the tale of two Dervishes, and the revelation of Satan himself?

How do I guide you through a book that transports you into the middle ages, through the winding streets of sixteenth-century Istanbul inhabited by blind beggars who know intimate details of who crossed their path, with whom, carrying what; by clothes peddlers with a bundle on their back and letters tucked to their waist, carrying love-notes from not one but many prospective husbands to the woman they love; by moneylenders who identify counterfeit gold coins by biting into them; by storytellers who entertain miniaturists after midnight in coffeehouses tucked away in remote corners; by Janissaries, those Turkish soldiers feared by all?

How do I sketch the encounter between two radically different cultures this book is about, a confrontation during a time when the culture of Islam, at its heights in the Medieval Ages, is struggling to preserve its beliefs threatened by the culture of the West, of Christianity?

How do I describe a book that conveys, through the resignation of a master miniaturist who has toiled for over half a century illustrating works and teaching pupils the art of painting in the ways of the old masters of Herat, the sad truth that their era is now over; that their magical works of art depicting the world as Allah saw it will inevitably be eclipsed by the Western method of painting reality as seen by Man, and hence be forgotten forever after?

How do I reveal the hidden, sinful treasures in these pages that liken the male tool to a reed pen and compare a woman’s mouth to an inkwell, pages where a miniaturist uses his pen to paint while his wife clings to the reed of his manhood?

How do I classify a work that is both a story of murder — a murder by a miniaturist who reveals to you the shame, guilt, pride, and envy that flows through him, invoking your anger now and sympathy then, challenging you to identify him among other characters who speak to you — and a story of love — a love that has waited in the lonely corner of a young man’s heart for twelve long years, a period so long and painful that he no longer can recollect the face of his beloved?

No, this task is beyond me. Such beauty can only be experienced firsthand.

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Parmanu (website) is an Indian, living in Germany since 2000. He likes to explore, through writing and photography, aspects of life around him — mostly small things, local matters.

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Reading Billy Collins in the Bath

April 26, 2012 4 comments

by Hugh McMillan

I am reading you in the bath
and you are doing that thing again,
making me want to laugh then strangle you,
not just because the little factual paragraph
on the typeface used in your perfect book
is better than most poems I write,
nor because, thanks to a CD I bought,
I hear your lugubrious voice sounding
every syllable like a soft and distant bell,
but mostly because after a few pages,
the mundane in the bathroom, and in all
the rooms in this old house, begins to resonate
like some small but perfect oriental poem.
For instance, my wife just came in
and as she spoke about lunch
a sudden lick of sunshine fell across
her face like a dazzling Arab veil.
I am wishing for a squadron of tanks
to knock the village down, or an aircraft
to fall from the sky like a bird arrowed
at the breast, so I can say
‘Stick that in your pipe Billy Collins’,
but I suppose even from such an event,
tender gold would be spun like thread
at the end of day: birds would sing a tattoo,
and the voices of all those still alive beyond
the immediate wreckage area of these
imaginary catastrophes would look up
at their stars, and quietly go to sleep.

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Hugh McMillan is a poet from South West Scotland, widely published and anthologised. He blogs at Dark Mutterings from Drumsleet.

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Wordsworth Trilogy

April 25, 2012 4 comments

by Denise Provost

To his French Mistress

I traveled among unknown men
In lands beyond the sea
And also knew a woman, there,
In full carnality.

‘T is past, that episode’s delight!
The daughter that she bore
I recognized as mine, alright,
And yet I quit that shore.

It was a need I once did feel
To send financial help,
But here in England, could conceal
Connection to that whelp.

I’ve left behind that dalliance,
My prospects here are great!
This history adds to my romance:
“The Deadbeat Laureate.”


Her Dwelling was Along my Way

Her dwelling was along my way
And so I found her there,
Disguised as Poet, not roué,
Persuaded her to share

Her maidenhood. Half hidden by
The damp and mossy stones
Skirts hiked, she soon was ridden by
Me. Then I left, alone.

Immortalized in verse, her fame,
Though she has ceased to be!
And Lucy wasn’t her real name —
Indifferent, that, to me.


Strange Flights of Fancy he Describes

Strange flights of fancy he describes,
as if of consequence.
This silly tale about his ride
makes less than zero sense.

He tells us that he rode to see
his sweetie pie, one June,
concocting a wild fantasy
about a lethal moon.

What can we make of this excess
of morbid self indulgence?
He manufactures distress —
for this, I feel repugnance.

I pray he’s not as feckless
as he yet pretends to be.
I wish these were words worth respect,
not such frivolity.

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Denise Provost likes form, meter, and rhyme, but is often vexed by Wordsworth. She is not the biggest fan of the Romantics. Her favorite poet is Andrew Marvell.

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I Smell Buffalo in Cambodia

April 24, 2012 2 comments

by Adam Aitken

after Tomaz Salamun: “I Smell Horses in Poland”

I smell buffalo in Cambodia, ruins in Angkor.
I had come from a rich disinfected nation
to one overflowing with frozen steaks
and a disarming happiness.
No difference here between a frog and its dreams.
The delicacy of their verbs offsets
the barbarity of their past actions.
Neighbours covet the smoked, dried, and the barbequed.
I smell drains, cats, and charcoal in the slums.
Monks disappear into the night; by the time
the tracker elephant finds them they aren’t chanting.
Will I ever see the frescoes in Wat Bo again?

I smell American aftershave
stalking the tunnels of Danang.
Pourissement in the Orient.
I smell flattery and artifice
among the smiling machines of Pub Street.
When you drive on the right, it smells odd.
I perch my glass of mint and lime
on a humidor for Cuban cigars.
I smell a gingko spa for Wall Street divorcees.
I smell coffee harvested from civet shit
priced in Dong, a notorious
perfumed currency.

When they boil the silkworms, I smell it.
Mould in the post office is worse
than mildew in the police kiosk
but nicer than French butter going off in the palace fridge.
Mothballs roll about the bottom drawer.
When you jet in from Mumbai
in your cowboy boots
you notice the lack of crows.
Why? The smell, the jasmine, the priests.
Smell it, bottle it. Call it Shalimar, then sell it.
Here there are vultures kept alive on UN grants.
I stick my beak in a Citroen and inhale the leather.
I smell a delinquent reading,
the aromatics of customer satisfaction.
It is spring again, spring and all.
I take my own sweet time to smell it.

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Adam Aitken is the author of seven collections of poetry and has been published in Poetry (Chicago), Drunken Boat, Jacket, and previously in qarrtsiluni. He currently resides in Paris thanks to an Australia Council Literature Fund residency.

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April 23, 2012 1 comment

by Barbara G.S. Hagerty

after Andre Breton and Cecilia Wooloch

My love with his shoulders of whiskey and sloe gin
and eyes like parachutes that lift me
on wild currents and strong arms to catch.
My love with his compass of ligaments
for flinging us toward islands of paradise.
My love with his knowledgeable fingers trailing starlight,
his mouth a coral hibiscus.
My love with his chest a palisades
and his sinews under me the seismic
shifting of tectonic plates.
My love with his musical hands and his back a palisades,
his clavicle a high escarpment and a rookery of eagles.
My love with his scent of fragrant woodsmoke
and fish just caught in his silver nets.
My love with his quick senses of one alert
to the manifold worlds of mercury and salt
which he travels on two strong feet
like capable pontoons and the side of him is a sail
and his lungs two bellows for catapulting us aloft.

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The current holder of the South Carolina Arts Commission poetry fellowship, Barbara G.S. Hagerty (website) is also the author of The Guest House (Finishing Line, 2009). Her work has appeared in such journals as The Greensboro Review, The Sun, Kakalak, and others.

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Chigger Boom and the Night the Devil Broke Loose

April 13, 2012 2 comments

by Tom Sheehan

A starter for a western short story

Lots of folks down in south Texas still tell the story of the relentless search for a prized horse stolen near Rancho Lobo. They spin the story years after the horse was stolen during the night of one of the greatest storms that ever roared in from the Gulf of Mexico. Like Hell was shot out of a cannon, they said of that storm, calling it “The Night the Devil Broke Loose.” The winds of that momentous storm, roaring banshees seeking wild revenge, ripped inland from the Gulf and cut a scandalous path of devastation more than 80 miles wide. Roofs of barns sailed in the air like wings of ungodly giant birds, windows in meager huts imploded before their scanty roofs came free, and one small settlement not far from Rancho Lobo witnessed every one of its buildings blown apart the way dynamite could do the job. And the horse, a 6-year old stallion, a magnificent animal from the first day, big and black and fiery-eyed, by the name of Chigger Boom, belonged to 16-year old Chuck Curtin, the son of a small rancher. That’s probably going too fast for some folks any distance away from the local area, so we’ll have to go back to the beginning when Chigger Boom came into the world of lower Texas, near the grass town of Rancho Lobo that lasted only a dozen years. The town folded up one night and died a sudden death in another weird storm from the Gulf. The successor storm roared in from the sea, great and noisy and earth-shaking, the way steam engines pound into towns at the baptism of new train tracks connecting all the way back to the Atlantic Ocean. But Chigger Boom, according to historians, carried the real story.

* * *

Western Pulps and Similar Magazines

Reasons behind the imitation

In my early years, in the ‘30s, the Depression in full swing, my adventurous spirit and thirst for new things at a full gallop, pulp magazines stuffed much of the void. They filled the empty spaces and often the empty stomachs waiting on a late meal of canned salmon, peas and a white sauce I remember to this day, or a meal of a quart of real oven-baked beans and a loaf of brown bread from a converted garage building just down the street on Charlestown’s Bunker Hill Ave, and all the lamb kidneys I could buy at a corner market with change from a dollar.

Often that simple meal fed the early five of us.

I particularly loved G-8 and His Battle Aces, Nippy and Bull, Doc Savage and his crew, Lamont Cranston as The Shadow and any pulp westerns I could get my hands on, barter for, even those with the covers torn off, or had the title stripped so they could not be put back on another shelf, to be sold as new. The covers were glorious paintings of cowboys in full gear and riding horses with wild eyes, their guns drawn and firing away, their lassos working a whirling magic, or running ahead of a cattle stampede or Indians chasing them to cover. The west was dynamic, a real place that hung out there on the edge of the rest of the country.

There was therefore a gastronomical and a literary connection for me where I lived less than 200 yards from history itself, Old Ironsides in Charlestown, MA Navy Yard, my father in the Marine Corps across the street from our cold water flat in a three-decker building on Bunker Hill Ave, and uphill from us stood the Bunker Hill Monument. Often he served as charge of quarters aboard that floating piece of history still making the rounds for us in their yearly turn-abouts. And many of those times were spent in my carriage when he baby-sat me while my mother shopped or completed other errands.

I seemed hungry much of the time those days, for those late meals, and for the accompanying adventures that reading pulp magazines brought to me, my mind exploding for the next few years, until girls intruded in their special way, a football felt comfortable in my hands, or a line drive into left field could be hauled in with a sprint and a sure glove.

Often when I select a name for a character in one of my stories, I feel some unique but unknown connection persuading me in a choice of names from a distant past aboard a fictional horse at a lope, trot or gallop across a pulpy page of print, or some character from Doc Savage or The Shadow, in a deliberate manner, making his name or the names of cohorts echo in the back of my head.

I always welcome such intrusions, calling to be repeated.

For a time they were real for me, and I try to make such characters real again, weaving them to do their thing in late stories I write, westerns, thrillers, or folk tales breaking out of the mind.

With over 240 cowboy stories committed to one Internet site alone, characters come to me looking to be named: I have uncovered Caleb Bonner, Mexico George, Lakota Betty, Otto Pilsner, Tobin Rally, Yardley Doyle McKee, Big Jack Tuppence (Coin of the Realm), Clay Hartung, Bad-Boy Goode, Bruce Danby (Pony Express rider), Doc Hannah, Falcon Eddie, Gregory Tolliver the Tascosa Gunsmith, Mrs. Binnie Minn of Shangri-La, No-Hugs Calhoun, Plumbeck the Fiddler, Will Halfloaf the Bumbler, and Crackbak Mellon-Mellon. I feel there’s an adventure coming up attached to a character’s name.

I call it romance of the language, the demand of phonetics playing at my ear, the sounds calling to be repeated from my reading past.

Memory knows yet the reading niches I had; to be alone, on a rooftop with the pigeon coops, in a cellar with the dust of coal in the air from a recent delivery, or in a portion of a hallway where the tenants were off working, all of them, all making their way to today’s computer at my command.

In those delicious hours, the cowboys came and went, G-8 flew in and out, Doc Savage did his thing, but I reaped all the rewards of their good deeds.

Those characters are still in my mind, suspended in some manner, waiting to be found again.

For me, it’s pay-back time.

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Tom Sheehan’s newest book is Korean Echoes, an e-book from Milspeak Publishers. Five more eBooks are in their production queue and one NHL mystery novel is seeking agent representation as he dawdles in his 84th year.

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In the Heart of “In the Heart of the Heart of the Country” — A Tribute to William Gass

April 11, 2012 Comments off

by Theresa Williams

A Place

So I have sailed the seas and come…
to Postmodernism…
It is labyrinthine. It is a snake dropping its long winter drawers to moon literary travelers. Inside the labyrinth are points of light like stars. I see them all along the walls.


Inside the labyrinth is chilly. Clouds hang, and mist, like a cold breath of uncertainty.

A Person

Gass, your name makes me think of indigestion. You must be cranky and old, having been born in 1924, having had your trees decapitated for the sake of progress, and having seen I don’t know how many depressions, despots, and wars.


In your story, what names you call students. You write Callow Bladder, Prince and Princess Oleo. I am a teacher, but my attempts pale beside yours: Gurdylocks, Mayhew, Lumber Region, Miss Fancypants. I have not your wit or your candor. Prince of Subscribe, Princess of Download, Mr. Manage-your-Kindle, Miss Twitter-heart. Yes, it is true, birds sit like fists on the wires of the world, and scientists say cell phones are the killers of honeybees. iPhoney, iPaddy, Mr. Ring-Tone-Ring-a-Dingy. Oh, Gass, I drift on your raft.

The Same Person

As you establish: I repeat, combine, and recombine. It is 2011, and I am surprised to find you still alive. What else to say? I, too, live in the heart of the country. I, too, wander amid the corn rows, believing in the brevity of life. I chant, I beg, I orate, I command, I sing—My hands glide along the esophageal wall of the great snake I am in. I touch the points of light. As I read you, William Gass, I am coming out of my retirement from love. I want to learn you. I want take you with me to the end.

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Theresa Williams has poems and stories published or forthcoming in Gargoyle, Lilliput Review, Prime Number, Midwestern Gothic, The Sun and many others. Her novel, The Secret of Hurricanes, was a finalist for the Paterson Fiction Prize. She has lived in the heart of the country (Ohio) for more than twenty years. She first learned of William Gass from her teacher, Phil O’Connor, in 1987.

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Eating and Other Disorders

April 10, 2012 3 comments

by Lucia Galloway

after Raymond Queneau

The novice cook seeks Julia’s expertise
for blanching to perfection haricots.
Mushy beans cannot but some displease.
Some gourmands love to eat raw cookie dough.

The infant sucks her own extremity,
the doting parents think it’s all for show.
The babe—as if to say Je vous en prie
she coos and savors yet another toe.

A rabbit in its hutch adores a pellet,
a hungry man craves steak straight from a skillet.
The bored resort to nibbling canned sardines.

We’ve guzzled noodles Taranto to Bankok.
That soupcon of something earthy in the stock!
Quel aphrodisiaque? Quelles herbes fines?

Author’s note: Based on a sonnet derived from Cent Mille Milliards de Poemes, as presented in their original and in translation by Beverly Charles Rowe. For a concise explanation of Raymond Queneau’s sonnet grid project, go to the home page of Rowe’s website. (The website works in Windows and is best accessed through Firefox, although even this is somewhat problematic.) Using an earlier version of this website, I arranged lines from Queneau’s Sonnet 9, then rewrote each line using my own words and rhymes (as if Queneau’s poem were a palimpsest).

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Lucia Galloway (website) has published two poetry collections, Venus and Other Losses (Plain View, 2010) and Playing Outside (Finishing Line, 2005). She reads, writes, and sorts her laundry at home in suburban Los Angeles, where she also co-hosts Poetry in Claremont, Fourth Sundays, a reading series. Find her most recent poems at The Dirty Napkin, The Innisfree Poetry Journal and The Comstock Review.

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