Sunday, June 17, 2018

Goodnight David McFadden, good luck to the rest of us

Today's book of poetry:
Goodnight David McFadden, good luck to the rest of us.

Image result for david mcfadden photo

Today's book of poetry has been on the road for a couple of days.  We travelled to Cobourg where our old friend Stuart Ross hosted us for an evening.  If you want to know what paradise is going to be like, spend an evening with Stuart and his partner in crime Laurie.

On Saturday, I joined Stuart and Laurie and a rather large crowd at St. Anne's Church in Toronto to say Goodbye to David McFadden.  Say goodbye we did.  The Reverend Maggie Helwig, a very fine poet, saw me sitting at the back of the church and joined me, as old friends do.  It was Maggie who told me that the entire interior of St. Anne's, all of the panels, were painted by members of the Group of Seven.

At first I thought Maggie was making a religious reference I was too slow to pick up on, but as she continued a light shone down and slapped me in the side of the head.  I spent considerable time staring at the ceilings and walls.  The Group of Seven in a downtown Toronto church where one of Canada's greatest poets was getting a send-off.  Perfect.

Stuart Ross was one of several folk who spoke during the service for David.  There was a small and excellent choir and much singing.  Of course there were tears everywhere, Hazel Millar was sitting in the row in front of me with other in the Toronto literati, tears abounded.

David McFadden dying was certainly sad.  His funeral service was full of respect and admiration and faith.  His friends and family made sure his final Dilbert moments in public were full of humour and love.

Goodnight David McFadden.

*   *

In transit to and from Cobourg and Toronto and then back to Ottawa, Today's book of poetry visited three libraries, looking for their "for sale" shelves or rooms, and three secondhand bookstores.  One of the bookstores, in Oshawa, was going out of business, in fact, it was the last day the store was to be open.  I'd been frequenting this store recently because they always had a considerable amount of poetry on the shelf.  Their poetry books are always eight dollars or less, but on the last day they were open, the price on the covers was being reduced by 75%.  Their usual inexpensive pricing had already been reduced during the previous weeks. 

Today's book of poetry also discovered The Book Shop in Tamworth, Ontario.  We didn't discover it so much as take the directions Stuart Ross had provided.  The directions were excellent and needed.  I've lived in this part of Ontario for most of my life and had never heard of Tamworth.  But there is was, and so was The Book Shop.  What an oasis.  Robert Wright, the proprietor, couldn't be nicer and he certainly knows his stuff.  I've rarely seen such a big or intelligent poetry section in a secondhand bookstore.  Robert took my stack of post-it note lists of poets I'm looking for and promptly put books in my hand like jewels.

By the time Today's book of poetry had made it back to our offices we had somehow picked up fifty-eight new poetry titles.  A couple of those are deliberate doubles, I always keep a stack of books to give to friends, and a few will be doubles (because my brain is old and stupid) simply because I didn't remember that they were in the stacks.  Today's book of poetry has some reading to do.

Both for your amusement, and my own, I'm going to list what we found.  Today's book of poetry will be back to regular programming a.s.a.p.

This is what we unpacked from our recent trip:

There Is No Falling - Robert Hogg
The Rain in the Trees - W.S. Merwin
Museum of Bone and Water - Nicole Brossard
[Today's book of poetry knew we had these titles, but couldn't pass up the price/opportunity to give a copy on to some unsuspecting friend.]

The Ends of the Earth - Jacqueline Turner
Far Side of the Earth - Tom Sleigh
Free Will - Harold Rhenisch
I, Another. The Space Between - Jamie Reid
Under A Small Moon - Gary Radison
Previously Feared Darkness - Robert Priest
The Cellophone Sky - Jeff Park
Waiting for the Gulf Stream - Bert Almon
And The Stars Were Shining - John Ashberry
Mother's Love and Other Poems - Elizabeth Beach
Civil and Civic - Jonathan Bennett
Blert - Jordan Scott
Echo Gods and Silent Mountains - Patrick Woodcock
The Ice House - Melissa Walker
Invisible to Predators - R.M. Vaughn
WaveSon.nets - V - Losing Luna - Stephanie Strickland
Listen to the Wind - James Reaney
News & Smoke - Sharon Thesen
Late for Work - David Tucker
An Aquarium - Jeffery Lang
Reading the Bible Backwards - Robert Priest
Burns for Isadora - Hawkley Workman
Second Collection - Caroling Morgan di Giovanni
Flesh, A Naked Dress - Susan Andrews Grace
The Shunning - Patrick Friesen
Flicker and Hawk - Patrick Friesen
The Cradle Place - Thomas Lux
Ninety-five Nights of Listening - Malinda Markham
Blessing the Boats - Lucille Clifton
The Constructor - John Koethe
Bleeding Heart Fist Fight - Brandon Hahn
Till I Caught Myself - Ruth Roach Pierson
The Improved Binoculars - Irving Layton
Girl By The Water - Gary Geddes
Way More West - Edward Dorn
Work Book - Steven Heighton
Hammerstroke - Don Domanski
Water Cranes - Chris Banks
Vellum - Matt Donovan
Stone Baby - Dolores Reimer
More To Keep Us Warm - Jacob Scheier
Grid - Brenda Schmidt
Fear of Knives - Anne Szumigalski
Famous Roadkill - Allan Safarik
Don't Let It End Like This Tell Them I Said Something - Paul Vermeersch
The Sea With No One In It - Niki Koulouris
Late Capitalist Sublime - Ryan Kamstra
You - Gary Hyland
Hands Reaching in Water - Gary Hyland
This Is A Love Song - Hugh MacDonald
The Nerve - Glyn Maxwell
Lard Cake - David McGimpsey
Glimpse - George Murray
Point No Point - Jane Munro
The Sentinel - A.F. Moritz




Poems cited here are assumed to be under copyright by the poet and/or publisher.  They are shown here for publicity and review purposes.  For any other kind of re-use of these poems, please contact the listed publishers for permission.
We here at TBOP are technically deficient and rely on our bashful Milo to fix everything.  We received notice from Google that we were using "cookies"
and that for our readers in Europe there had to be notification of the use of those "cookies.  Please be aware that TBOP may employ the use of some "cookies" (whatever they are) and you should take that into consideration

Thursday, June 14, 2018

How to Wear This Body — Hayden Saunier (Terrapin Books)

Today's book of poetry:
How to Wear This Body.  Hayden Saunier.  Terrapin Books.  West Caldwell, New Jersey.  2017.


Is it fair to call poetry reasonable?  Hayden Saunier writes poetry that makes a very convincing case out of reason, gentle reason at that.  Relationships happen and Saunier has plenty to say about them—
and about how to "stay alive" in this world.

As Christopher Bursk (author of The Improbable Swervings of Atoms) suggests, Saunier shows us "how to live on this planet."  Saunier connects us.

Hard Facts

To stay alive do not resist
that's what you're told

as if it were a simple act to make yourself
be only meat

and bone
pressed down into an asphalt street

and not a form of suicide
erase yourself be dead enough

that he or she or they'll decide
there is no need to kill you

though do not resist
can make no guarantee of this

but if you stay alive
do not resist will mean you have to stand

your dead self up
walk out into the world alive

which is another kind of death
and harder every single time

you have to kill enough
(do not resist) to stay alive.


Today's book of poetry thoroughly enjoyed ambling through How to Wear This Body.  Hayden Saunier is easy to feel at home with.  Yet, from somewhere deep below the reader can't help but sense the spirit of Carson McCullers dancing behind the scenes.  McCullers always knew more than she revealed, she knew what was in the dark, untended corner of the room. McCuillers' once said that "there's nothing that makes you so aware of the improvisation of human existence as a song unfinished. Or an old address book." 

It's not that Saunier ever has the catastrophic arms of fate swinging for the fences but deep below the surface of these poems, you can feel the "undertoad."

Hayden Saunier is one smooth character.  Most of these poems ring familiar, not because we've seen them before, but because they accurately catch the rhythms that sustain us.

Hard Facts

She's cleaning fish.
Old rivers of raised veins
twist down her forearms
through networks of scars
down her wrists to the roots
of her fingers, the palms of
her hands, her arms
rest on the workbench a moment,
this woman who could be
any woman on the lee
side of any harbor
where there's been war.
She picks up a bone-handled
blade from the workbench,
scrapes guts into buckets,
flicks bits of shine from her
fingertips, and I wonder
how long, if at all, it took
before she could pick up a knife,
and knife, in her hands cut
by knives, but the answer,
I venture, like the answer
to everything else, is —
it depends on how hungry you get.


Saunier has no trouble with putting it out there, "Hard Facts" is a good case in point.  But Saunier can also contemplate and savor, her poem "Asparagus" is almost as crisp and tasty and tender as the real thing.

Our morning read was another slightly subdued affair.  Today's book of poetry is having a hard poetry week. Today's book of poetry will be in Toronto this weekend for the funeral of David McFadden, Canadian poetry giant and one of my heroes.

But our hearts are heavier still.  Stephen Reid (writer/bank-robber), died earlier this week.  Stephen Reid was the husband of Susan Musgrave.  Our regular readers will know it already, but Today's book of poetry's esteem for Musgrave knows no bounds.  She is one of Canada's finest poets.  Today's book of poetry sends our deepest condolences to Ms. Musgrave and her entire family.

Our staff did get down to business and gave Hayden Saunier's How to Wear This Body a proper Today's book of poetry reading.  Our dear friend Alexandre added his accent to the proceedings which lent an international feel to the event.  We did Hayden Saunier proud.


Some nights my mind still tries
to peel away squares of blackened paper
from the old-fashioned kiosk

of my spinal column, photographs
and placards posted by the body
behind the mind's back, years ago,

glued with spit and wheat paste.
Images gone, titles gone,
all part of the whole

structure now, hardened,
darkened, their weight subsumed
into frame. The way a tree grows

first around, then through, barbed
wire, or folds the small grey marble
headstone of a child into its

knotted roots. Such heaviness
our bones haul in and hold inside.
No wonder we can't fly.


Today's book of poetry must apologize to Hayden Saunier as we were a bit distracted this week.  Saunier's poetry deserves the readers full attention.

Image result for hayden saunier photo

Hayden Saunier

Hayden Saunier is the author of three poetry collections, Tips for Domestic Travel (Black Lawrence Press, 2009) a St. Lawrence Award Finalist, and Say Luck (Big Pencil Press, 2013), which won the 2013 Gell Poetry Prize. She is also the author of a chapbook, Field Trip to the Underworld (Seven Kitchens Press, 2012), winner of the Keystone Chapbook Award. Her work has been published in such journals as Beloit Poetry Journal, Nimrod, Southern Poetry Review, Tar River Poetry, and Virginia Quarterly Review. Her work has also been featured on Verse Daily and has been awarded the 2011 Pablo Neruda Prize, the 2011 Rattle Poetry Prize, and the 2005 Robert Fraser Award. A poet, actor, and teaching artist, she holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars and lives on a farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

The interconnectedness of everything on earth, how we belong to it all, how permeable boundaries are between us and the natural world, how things sing and what they sing of are rendered with aching acuity. Whether a poem’s focus shines on a “rump sprung sofa,” a turkey vulture, or dazzling autumn trees described as “sugar maple drama queens,” even evanescence becomes rich and luminous in these poems. This is a gorgeous, precise and deeply graceful collection.
     — Amy Gerstler

Hayden Saunier
"Where Poetry Begins"

Video: Serenity Bishop



Poems cited here are assumed to be under copyright by the poet and/or publisher.  They are shown here for publicity and review purposes.  For any other kind of re-use of these poems, please contact the listed publishers for permission.
We here at TBOP are technically deficient and rely on our bashful Milo to fix everything.  We received notice from Google that we were using "cookies"
and that for our readers in Europe there had to be notification of the use of those "cookies.  Please be aware that TBOP may employ the use of some "cookies" (whatever they are) and you should take that into consideration

Monday, June 11, 2018

Battle Lines — Matthew Borczon (Epic Rites Press)

Today's book of poetry:
Battle Lines.  Matthew Borczon.  Epic Rites Press.  Sherwood Park, Alberta.  2017.

Matthew Borczon writes such pared down verse that at first, you might think something was missing.  There's nothing missing at all.  These poems are as precise as a shot from a sniper.

Borczon worked as a Naval Reserve Hospital Corpsman from 2010 until 2012 when he was diagnosed with PTSD.  Borczon was witness to the horrors endured by over 2,000 veterans under his care.  Clearly their scars left scars.

my mother

told me
that my
brothers sat
her down
to say
it doesn't
matter if
you don't
know him
you need
to figure
out how
to love
him anyway.


Battle Lines rattles the razor edge of a combat veterans memories, all those things a veteran cannot forget.  In Matthew Borczon's world the worst really does happen and it comes from every direction at once and without notice.  Battle Lines makes clear, and we need reminding, that many of the hardest battles veterans face occur when they've come home.

Borczon's therapeutic voice is like a lancet taking the top off the roiling and festering boil, a release of all that putrid conglomeration that infects the memory.  Fear and remorse live here.

It's clear from these poems that we ask too much of those who we put in harm's way.

the inmate

had tattooed
his squad
number on
his forearm
from his
time in
the infantry
when it
was the
same as
his new
cell number
he asked
me if 
I thought
that meant
I had
only worked
in the prison
for a
month and
had only
come back
from Afghanistan
the month
before that
so I
told him
I no longer
believe anything
means anything.


Today's book of poetry read through Battle Lines like there was a prize waiting for us at the end.  Borczon doesn't waste one second of your poetry time.  Hopefully each reader will take a little compassion and understanding from these missives.  It's not often a voice from inside the beast can/will/wants to articulate or share their sorrow.  Borczon wants us to sympathize because unless you are battle-hardened you can't empathize.

None of our clan of readers here in the office has ever been close to a battle or a war.  Today's book of poetry saw "skull and crossbones" signs at the side of the road when travelling through Croatia over a decade ago.  Those were the unhappy reminders of active minefields.  And as you regular readers will know, we once heard automatic gunfire in New Orleans.  That's it and lucky for us.  Borczon comes from a different group of citizens.

None the less, we did try to do Matthew Borczon and Battle Lines proud with our morning read.  Solemn and serious.

my wife

says she
tried to
wake me
but is
afraid to
touch me
or shake
me because
of how
much I
still jump
and scream


Battle Lines is the second book of poetry by Matthew Borczon.  Today's book of poetry will be anxious to see numbers three and four and so on.  Borczon has a discerning eye and a cargo-bay sized heart at work in these poems; Today's book of poetry is always going to pay attention to that.

Image result for matthew borczon photo

Matthew Borczon

Matthew Borczon was born and still lives in Erie, Pa. He graduated from Edinboro University in 1990 with a degree in fine arts. He joined the United States Naval Reserve in 2001 as a hospital corpsman. In 2010 he was deployed to Camp Bastion to work in their hospital, the busiest combat hospital in the war at that time. There he provided health care to 2,268 coalition and local national forces. Diagnosed with PTSD in 2012 Matthew started writing as a way to tell his story. He publishes widely in the small press. When he is not writing he raises four children with his wife of twenty years, works as a practical nurse for a social service agency and is still a member of the Naval reserve. Along the way he has been a model, bouncer, amateur boxer, martial arts instructor, art teacher to inner city children and a prison nurse. Battle Lines is his second book of poetry.

Poets Underground
Matthew Borczon

Video: Poets Underground


Poems cited here are assumed to be under copyright by the poet and/or publisher.  They are shown here for publicity and review purposes.  For any other kind of re-use of these poems, please contact the listed publishers for permission.
We here at TBOP are technically deficient and rely on our bashful Milo to fix everything.  We received notice from Google that we were using "cookies"
and that for our readers in Europe there had to be notification of the use of those "cookies.  Please be aware that TBOP may employ the use of some "cookies" (whatever they are) and you should take that into consideration

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Flightpaths: the lost journals of Amelia Earhart — Heidi Greco (Caitlin Press)

Today's book of poetry:
Flightpaths: the lost journals of Amelia Earhart.  Heidi Greco.  Caitlin Press.  Halfmoon Bay, British Columbia.  2018.

Reading Heidi Greco's Flightpaths: the lost journals of Amelia Earhart is like falling into a Saturday afternoon matinee at the movies of my youth.  Greco has imagined and made real all those things we've so longed to discover about the ending to the Amelia Earhart story, the beginning of the legend.

Greco's done her homework.  Today's book of poetry knew about the "friendship" between the high flying aviatrix and the President's wife.  But Greco takes them up among the stars where they make snow out of one of Eleanor's boas.  Greco reveals dark secrets and hidden gems, jewels for the inquisitive historian.

The theories Heidi Greco expands on as to the demise of Amelia Earhart have been given light of day before but Greco affectionately moves past rumour to give rich flesh and bone back to the narrative.  Just like those afternoon movies of my youth; Greco sets up the audience and then delightfully mows them down.

July 8

Made an awkward wade to the plane, for another quick series of maydays.
Dumb luck revealed a little sack of fruit floating beside my seat (how
could I have missed it?), a gift from one of the sweet women at Lae. She'd
handed it over smiling, saying repeatedly "po, po." She should have said
"poo poo" as it's not agreed with me. Shit, shat, shatted. Enormously. I
may have lost more fluids than the soggy fruit supplied. Modesty long
gone between Noonan and me. Even so, this is beyond normal, requires
a skirt. Eleanor and Katharine, my cohorts in independence, would laugh
at how ladylike I've become.


Heidi Greco's Flightpaths: the lost journals of Amelia Earhart offers up more than one solution to the famed pilot's true story.  We deduce that Earhart had an open relationship with her husband and a thoroughly modern and adventurous dance card that spanned both gender and expectation.

These poems fantasize more than one perilous end for Earhart, but any real fan of Earhart, or any ardent reader, will already have heard these theories.  What Greco does that amazes is to create a narrative the reader can and does believe.  We believe the movie as it is playing out in front of us.  

With a variety of conjured tricks, Heidi Greco has us eating her fictionalized account of an unknown story right out of her poetry hands.  She doesn't even bother with a poetry bowl.  Greco gets us to believe a thing is true even though we already know it is made up.  That's some good poetry cooking.

This, my new husband

The father sells shoes, shiny as the pomade
he slicks into his thinning hair.
This dull groom of mine welcomes the war,
explains to me, as if to a child,
"An army marches on its feet,"
What am I to learn from this?
Surely, the measuring of feet cannot
fill the needs of his mind.

I would stand with the women
in the factory, if I could.
But no, I am cautioned:
I might show my hand, reveal
some bold trait, one that could draw
unwanted attention. Or worse,

speak out with too strong a thought
one not befitting this pretty head I now wear,
maybe get sent to the loony bin
along with the other hysterical wives,
the ones who didn't behave.

Hair this long annoys me, tangling in the brush,
this continual dyeing of roots to keep them brown,
mouse enough to blend with this dun-colored world
the sentence I must serve, rest of my too-lifeless days.

Oh, for a pinch of danger, a taste of sudden intrigue,
anything to fire up my engines.


Today's book of poetry morning reading was just a little off track today, everyone remains a little subdued and saddened by the passing of the great Canadian poet David McFadden.  Earlier this week David finally succumbed to a lengthy illness.  

David McFadden was a big influence on Today's book of poetry.  Mr. McFadden had been to our home a couple of times and for a brief period of time we corresponded regularly.  We were never buddies but we were friends.  Today's book of poetry was very honoured to be included in 70th birthday book for David.  We weren't buddies — but I wish we had been.  David McFadden was looked to up by an entire generation of Canadian poets and Today's book of poetry is saddened by his passing. 

Stuart Ross, celebrated poet and close friend, has suggested that he is going to read a David McFadden poem at all of his readings in the future.  Today's book of poetry thinks we should all follow the same plan of action.

After a round of David McFadden poems, mostly from Poems Worth Knowing (Coach House Books, 1971), we got back in to the proper flow and gave Heidi and Amelia a proper flight test.

July 12

To think I used to mope about the thickness of my ankles, call them my
elephant legs. Bigger than ever the ankle is blooming, like an overfed dahl-
ia in my cousin's flower bed. Now it truly holds the shape of an elephant's
leg, would make a good umbrella stand for someone's elegant foyer. Yet
despite its bulbous shape, it feels as if the bones are disintegrating. As if
the constant salt air has seeped inside and begun dissolving them. Can't
distract myself from the pain anymore. Reciting poems, making up songs,
repeating my times tables, nothing does the trick. Zero times 180 is still
zero. Since Fred no longer needs the pills, I may try using the ones that
remain. What effect they may have on me, I cannot say. Tomorrow I mean
to begin some letters to family and friends. Perhaps a batch of sweet fare-


Heidi Greco puts belief in the hands of the reader.  We come to believe that this movie is real.  Poetry that transports is a hard currency to deny.  Flightpaths is money.

Heidi Greco

Heidi Greco

Heidi Greco is a longtime resident of Surrey, BC. In addition to writing and editing, she often leads workshops – on topics that range from ekphrastic poetry to chapbook making. She’s been an advocate for the literary arts in her community and was instrumental in establishing two distinct reading series, but she considers her greatest success to have been convincing her city to hire an official Poet Laureate. She writes in many genres – with poems, fiction, essays and book reviews to her credit. Her books include a novella, Shrinking Violets which was co-winner of the Ken Klonsky Award in 2011. Her work has also appeared in many anthologies, most recently in Make it True: Poetry from Cascadia (Leaf Press, 2015) and The Revolving City: 51 Poems and the Stories Behind Them (Anvil, 2015). In addition to making Sunday suppers for her adult sons, she keeps a sporadic blog at

Flightpaths: The Lost Journals of Amelia Earhart slips easily from windowpane prose to lyric as Heidi Greco delivers the realities, the fantasies, the possibilities of Amelia Earhart’s last flight over the Pacific Ocean with a complex simplicity that gives us both what probably was and what might have been — building a poem/story of a life bigger than history.”
—Brian Brett, author of Tuco: The Parrot, The Others, and The Scattershot World

“In this unique and intriguing fictional tale, Heidi Greco convinces us that Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed 10 Electra went down near a remote Pacific island. This tragic event, and the disappearance of Amelia’s plane into the ocean, leaves the reader wondering what happened to this brave pilot who accepted the challenge of a world flight in 1937.”
— Ann Holtgren Pellegreno, Pellegreno was the first to fly a Lockheed 10 Electra around the world on the Earhart Trail. On July 2, 1967, she dropped a wreath on Howland Island.

“I am not one to read a lot of poetry, but when combined with contextual passages and based on a historical event, my interest was piqued and my imagination stimulated by the fascinating concept that Ms Greco has penned. Recommended.”
The Miramichi Reader

Heidi Greco

Feature Poet @ PJ/PNW
Video: TheVideoGuys



Poems cited here are assumed to be under copyright by the poet and/or publisher.  They are shown here for publicity and review purposes.  For any other kind of re-use of these poems, please contact the listed publishers for permission.
We here at TBOP are technically deficient and rely on our bashful Milo to fix everything.  We received notice from Google that we were using "cookies"
and that for our readers in Europe there had to be notification of the use of those "cookies.  Please be aware that TBOP may employ the use of some "cookies" (whatever they are) and you should take that into consideration

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Fix — Lisa Wells (University of Iowa Press)

Today's book of poetry:
The Fix.  Lisa Wells.  University of Iowa Press.  Iowa City, Iowa.  2018


Image result for lisa wells the fix

The Fix is in.

Lisa Wells has climbed right into the poetry heart of Today's book of poetry.  Wells burns like her hands were made of matches.

Today's book of poetry did not recognize the language Lisa Wells was employing at first, some renegotiation was necessary, and it was my fault.  But Today's book of poetry did know from the very first poem in this insanely entertaining debut that it was going to require a seat-belt and helmet.

The Fix has a sureness to it, an accomplished voice, Wells gets to the heart with zest and immediately consumes the reader with her abandon fervor.  Today's book of poetry had to think about it for a minute and then it hit us.  We have only recently become aware of the superpoetry of the nurse/poet Belle Waring (Belle Waring died of cancer in 2015).  There's a zany, I don't give two shits - except that I care deeply, mantra.  A completely abandoned building sort of shouting that goes on in the poetry of Waring and Wells seems cut from the same fine cloth.

What Today's book of poetry was clumsily trying to say is that we are BIG admirers of Belle Waring and were surprised to find Lisa Wells raising the same hairs on our poetry neck.  Today's book of poetry will be looking at Belle Waring's Refuge (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1990) and Dark Blonde (Sarabande Books, 1997) at some point in the near future.  The Belle Waring books arrived in our offices courtesy of our Southern Correspondent, The Twangster, reigning St. Louis Champ.  He sends regular literary "care packages."

Today's book of poetry is so happy to introduce you to the poetry of Lisa Wells we can hardly sit still in our seats.

Theory of Knowledge

Alive on the highway shoulder.
The ruddy trucker passed

tossed a can from his cab
and I scrambled to retrieve it.

Cut like a twig and titless
the boys said
bbs on a breadboard.

Crossed my arms over my chest
in the frigid stock room of the mini-mart
while a classmate donned a nylon bib
and counted my cache into his hamper.

So I whipped a boy at school with my windbreaker
and where my zipper caught his shin, he split.

Blood slipped through the fold
mercury slow.

For that, a teacher faced me toward a wall
to think about my wrongs.

I don't need a wall to know.


When Today's book of poetry tells you the Lisa Wells poems are not concerned with point of entry, they attack you like an unseen gas, impervious to detection and thoroughly effective;  you're not going to believe what will happen to you — even as it is happening.

That last sentence/paragraph will have Max, our Sr. Ed., bleeding out his eyeballs; but Today's book of poetry has learned that we have to poke the beast once in a while just to make sure he is still breathing.

Back to point of entry.  Lisa Wells is the perfect poetry assassin because these poems come at you with such humour and wit that we often don't see the big "pop-up" mallet she keeps in other hand.  The Fix is devoid of trickery, These poems come at the reader straight down the middle of the page, Lisa Wells may be the Larry Csonka* of American poetry.

*Larry Csonka played for the Miami Dolphins and is universally respected for his inside game.  Fearless and unstoppable.  "The Sundance Kid" won a couple of Superbowls and was the star running back on the only professional football team to have a full undefeated season.


I stitched my mask of hide- snout- sinew- talon- and rode
the vast savanna to war

in my former life. I was the hybrid. I sewed my brutal double-helix
     into a child

and packed her boots with greasy wool that felted as she walked in bright

stratified color. Carpathian bronze couldn't buy her off
when she leapt at the throat of my lover.

Him I called The Lion for his yawn and yellow ringlets.

I placed a Deglet date upon his tongue, I pressed
the golden scarab into amber, straddled all his lap, kissed

my cresset to the yurts of my superiors

and in this life, I think I'd like to do more damage.


Today's book of poetry thinks that Lisa Wells has a considerable reserve of grit, she knows that most injustices go unpunished and that many go unnoticed.  Wells is a reporter, and an excellent one at that, but she can't stay neutral.

Our morning read was robust to say the least with an excellent cast of characters here for the event.  Jeff popped by to measure my desk for another bookcase, at present I count something like fourteen bookcases, one-hundred and twelve shelves, in my office, but I need a couple more.  Jeff has the knowledge.  He also has a great voice and rattled off a couple of Wells poems.  Thomas was on this morning, he brought in his friends Pistol and Barb.  All three of them contributed.  The office was a busy place this morning.  

We laughed and laughed.  All complaints get sent to the fifth floor.

With Lisa Wells, no complaints at all.

"Poetry Man"

      after Phoebe Snow

To recall the cull of this life.

That one must harvest by selective annulment
the body they will wed

                     and the body they will hustle
from dress to tongue on the sly

                                           for days
I lay as a flank in my lover's maw

                      swathed in wine while warm
winds frisked the wisteria.

It was innocent.

He lashed my wrist to the mast.
He tied my blind because I wanted

to be battered in the swell
            and blossoms purple still
any place he pressed his mouth
any place

I asked for it.
By now I know, I begged:
relieve your mouth its bland aperture

Talk to me some more


Home's that place       somewhere      you go each day

in absence of his finger I have conveyed to my teeth
a relentless procession of corn chips, zoned out

on the bedroom wall.
Little my tongue does for the hole it circumnavigates.

It was a clear day, sun jigging figures from the leaves
on the alien green of College Park
              I was ocular in his arms

an enormous pupil, blown open.

     We knew the hour had come
by the way the light collected

raptured to several heavens
there's no need to choose.


If choice is obviated  "Le Paradis n'est pas artificiel"

his letter begins, anxiety of what is
in back of each long note.

He compares me to a garden.  "Why weed what winter will kill?"

Fidelity is perennial, survives the cold     cloaked as a peony.

He wishes me a grand carouse at the local dive, a dry
bottom bun for my rubber burger
and another man's sex         bashful boy.


do not touch the stove you will

fuse to its element    slaver over
the burn.             You don't have to go.

You're hiding something sweet
from this swollen thumb

and from these glossy welts derives
the suspicion that I am truly sick.

Monstrously wooed by these
reports of injury, he admits

         "its invocation of parts. You have a thumb. Eyes."

Instruments of agency.   Logic divides
pleasure from having
               give it to me

All Medea's remonstrations ended on a blade.
downed in the poisoned mug, draped in the tainted gown

but she never howled
when love departed

she muscled out to meet him.


Any of you regular readers of Today's book of poetry will know that we are always a sucker for poets who find hope.  Lisa Wells gives us renewed hope, and why not?  

This energy, zip and intelligence make for that rarest of books, can't miss poetry.  It will "muscle out to meet" you.

Burn, Lisa, Burn.

Lisa Wells


Lisa Wells is a poet and nonfiction writer who lives in Tucson, Arizona. Her work has appeared in Best New Poets, the Believer, Denver Quarterly, Rumpus, Third Coast, and the Iowa Review.

“Full and luscious as a grape before wine-making or a moon before love-making, the poems in The Fix live in a roadside space that’s earthy, sensual, erotic, and wild. Lisa Wells writes by feel, shaping, kneading, and bending the line the way a potter builds a ceramic vessel from the bottom up, coiling around a central idea until it’s solid, visible, and ready to be marveled at.”
     —D. A. Powell

The Fix is ruthless, sleepless, vigilant, obsessive: a profound work of mystery and matter, of power and pleasure, in which any singular truth is always just a step ahead, a bit beyond reach, below sight line. This new voice is so strange it sounds familiar, like family unforgivable or a lover who’s never over, or like a kind of food only grown on alien soil but that tastes disturbingly like your childhood. Here, every line is a surprise, a curve, a path this visionary poet cut just this moment for you to travel deep and emerge altered by this, her stark dark knowing. You’ll read this brilliant book again and again looking for the way back from it.”
     —Brenda Shaughnessy, judge, Iowa Poetry Prize

The Fix is perfectly executed. It’s always poetry, yet it never strains to be poetry. It’s flush with nervous and yet confidently directed energy. Its most striking moments are never haphazard, but are surprising and indelible. It doesn’t read like a first book, it reads like a book for life.”
     —Shane McCrae, author, In the Language of My Captor

“Lisa Wells knows all too well that a fix is just a habitual stay against the moment’s decay, and in these corporeal poems equal parts binge and purge, one can only wonder what rough bitch slouches down low to be reborn in a Paradise as dirty and comfy as a trucker’s blown rig.”
     —Timothy Liu

Lisa Wells
reads "The End"
Video:  BitchMedia



Poems cited here are assumed to be under copyright by the poet and/or publisher.  They are shown here for publicity and review purposes.  For any other kind of re-use of these poems, please contact the listed publishers for permission.
We here at TBOP are technically deficient and rely on our bashful Milo to fix everything.  We received notice from Google that we were using "cookies"
and that for our readers in Europe there had to be notification of the use of those "cookies.  Please be aware that TBOP may employ the use of some "cookies" (whatever they are) and you should take that into consideration

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Declassified — Mariela Griffor (Eyewear Publishing Ltd.)

Today's book of poetry:
Declassified.  Mariela Griffor.  Eyewear Publishing Ltd.  Marylebone, London, U.K.

Declassified by Mariela Griffor is bursting at the seams with ideas, imagery and outside influences.  A short retinue of guest stars has to include:  Nelson Mandela, William S. Burroughs, George Orwell, Sappho, Kurt Cobain, David Foster Wallace, Albert Camus, Jean Paul Sartre, Carl Friedrich Gauss, Sofia Kovalevskaya, Sylvia Plath, James Joyce, Henry David Thoreau, Ariel Dorfman and Marcel Proust.

Regardless of the guests, in the end these are poems of love and loss.  Every highway we know has ditches littered with the ruined and rusty hulks of what someone once called hope.  Or at least the wire-fenced, flower adorned, temporary altar, a reminder of someone's worst moment, another person's worst loss.


May 20, 2014
For Regina Derieva

We never met; we never spoke to each other
except through the immigrant song of Jan Johansson,
we knew we were united in
indestructible fibers of life breathing
in and breathing out, marching
to the sound of old days, in countries
that remind us of our own countries,
speaking old languages, that remind us of our own tongues,
we became so suddenly eternal tourists with a right to vote.

It was a time in my life when I stopped laughing
and I knew you did too. I could see it
in the photographs of magazines and
journals where new poems by you were published.
I knew what it was to be without a reason to laugh.

So sorry to have to miss you,
well-planned journeys, well they never happened.
I planned several trips to Rinkeby,
a town that I avoided fiercely when
I was there. It is not easy
to be reminded of cut wings, as you know.

My trips to Stockholm were always
the same, Gamla Stan, centrums, H&M
and the Viking Museum, then back to Uppsala.
Rinkeby was a forbidden point,
the limbo of anybody's trajectory.
But had I known then you were there
I would have faced the fear
and visited you.

I love your work. The fresh, naïve
and sweet idea the world can be improved, stained
on the pages everywhere.
I love the way you put the
best of you in your poems. The way
you make yourself at home inside a whale,
the way some of your images cannot
leave my head for days, exactly like
a pop song. The way you make me think
with each line and take me to places
I have never been before.

I love the way that insufferable persistence
of something must change in this
endlessness of war times, this time that
consumes each of us and makes us bend
in the direction of the wind a dozen times per day
as in your poem. I pray for that persistence
to infect everyone who reads you.

I'm sorry to have missed you in this life.
I imagine what great times you and I would have had
if we only had the opportunity and time, and money of course,
don't forget that, to meet.

Silly of me to think we would have had
that cup of coffee in Gamla Stan
and talked about pigeons and old catholic schools,
and how the world is not changing but ending.
Nature has its tricks, and even if we make progress,
it will make us part of its garden. Yes, at least.


Today's book of poetry has always flattered ourselves that we are "experienced."  It is to laugh.  Mariela Griffor's Declassified reminds Today's book of poetry just how sheltered our life has been.  Up until a post-Katrina visit to New Orleans, I had never heard a gun shot from a weapon fired in anger.  I've only heard it once.  Admittedly it was several rapid shots from a pistol followed immediately by three or four quick bursts of machine gun fire in return,

The last rebellion of any kind here in Canada was the failed FLQ operation.  That was when I was young and both Quebec City and Montreal were as far from Peterborough as Mars.  Griffor's Chilean history and her experiences as a political refugee are but one layer of the Griffor onion.

Today's book of poetry was won over quickly, Mariela Griffor has lived through things we cannot begin to imagine and come out the other side clean and hopeful.  How astonishing is that?  People still have to love and tenderness plays a big role in the Griffor canon.

The Last One

Last night I could not sleep,
the children were not at home. They both had
sleepovers. I was tired, too. Too much time away from
grown ups and I know they will be OK, I will move
back. This time, closer to my father, that at that
time will be old and probably very cranky. But
I will move back to spend with him the
time we never could give to each other before.
I will move back to those mountains in between
Pucon and Talcahuano, I will go to the beaches
around. I also plan to write.

I will take walks in San Pedro to
meet those people I saw the last time
when I was there, and I will run to the
Ocean, to touch the black sand of San Pedro,
I will be closer to God, feeling the thick
air of the early morning. I will let the salt
make my face ruggy and I will think about you and
those days in Chiloe, at the End of the Earth.
I also will go and visit my old relatives, those
that are so old that they don't even remember their
ages. I will put back the pieces of that last poem, and
will promise that you will always have a place in my mind.

It's time for you and me to go different
ways. You find the place your soul was longing.
And I will choose to stay here without you and
with the other I love. Just hang out there,
the day to get together is every day shorter,
but now it is time for me to do so much more.
Last night as I said I could not sleep
I knew this would be my last letter and my
last poem for you.


Our morning read was set up by Eric Burden & War belting out the long version of "Spill the Wine."
When Eric quit his temperamental scat, with War throbbing behind him like "hot rings of fire," we got on with our poetry business.

Kathryn, our Jr. Editor, started us off this morning and we were away, Thomas sat in, along with Lucy, our newest intern, and declassified Declassified.

Sometimes the horrors of life confound us innocents, but those rare souls who have had their pearls polished by terrible friction and come out the other side shining write wondrous and brave,  Griffor can write deeply caring and sweet poems, or she can knock on the darkness door. 


Somebody told me this country was hard:
But not this hard.
I didn't believe it because
I came from a hard country myself
and because I lived in other hard
countries so I was not afraid.
I thought we were different yet not
that different. I have nostalgia
for the homeland as I always
did have nostalgia so it was
nothing new. When I started
to see and feel in this new
spooky way and my left eye
started to tremble and I could not
control the movement, like the
most embarrassing tic you can
imagine, I withdrew. The time
began to walk slowly in the
inside and very fast on the outside.
The day after the new election
the bombs and the new troops
didn't stop, we will not talk
about it, because as in my hard
country we don't talk about it.
We can talk only about what
we can talk about and the
rest is just the poor imagination
of dissidents. And how can it be
interesting to talk about what
dissidents talk about if
we already talked about it in the past
elections in the last century. It was
always the same. I do try to see the
good side of living in a hard country
though, so I'm not totally a critic.
I do want to have
my duties, my opinions, and I do
want to see things are changing for
the better, including the economy as
they say on TV. One of the good things
when soldiers come from the front line.
Have you seen the screen of the TV full
of beautiful children running to meet
daddy or mommy coming back? And
the uniform they wear, really beautiful,
no marks of blood or dirt anywhere.
Nobody could guess what
those uniforms can say. Don't take
this the wrong way. I also come
from a family in another hard
country that knows very well
the duty and honour of wearing a uniform
especially this one. What hits me
that hardest is the bouquet
of flowers the soldier brings to his
bride or wife and the running of
this beautiful woman to his side,
the crying every time. Perhaps because
I'm a romantic and I like flowers
or perhaps because I remember his
face destroyed by the hand grenade
he was carrying or the landmine
put in the ground by who knows who.
I guess we will never know. I remember
thinking how much makeup
the mortician had to put
over his face to hide all that
damage. His hair looked good
but those nostril pieces missing
will haunt me forever. See? My
country is also hard. Like
yours. I do think there is
a reason sometimes, yet
most of the time I just think
there is a bigger plot and not
exactly by God or the Devil that things
are this hard. Those who don't
think I'm right, they tell me
to get over it, to adapt, to adjust
and get over it. The ones that think
I'm right, they are mostly silent,
they hide, they don't like my
posts and they avoid
me when I get too difficult.
The problem is that I cannot
adapt and I'm always surprised
seeing more and more people
give in. Yesterday my oldest
child told me in the grocery store
she hated Albanians. Why? I asked
her and she told me, in her building
on the first floor there is a family
of four living in a nine hundred square foot
apartment and all above them can
smell their disgusting food,
bending over to my ear she whispered
and said, I don't like them because they
are all terrorists. And how do you know
that? I asked. Everybody knows that
she responded looking over her
shoulder to show me the Albanian couple
paying at the next cashier. I tell
her that's it. No more. I know I
will adapt. I will write more things
that can be printed and some people
will never read my poems and maybe
I will not think this country is hard
anymore and I will see the positive
side of the whole story and forget.
In the meantime I don't, I'm dangerous
if I remember scars , doorbells,
the sulfur smell of the tear gas
bomb and whistling zig-zag of
bullets coming from an unknown
direction, or if I remember he didn't
have his three left hand fingers.
[But excuse me for a moment,
my friend Cora is at the door,
we need to chat about her French doors
she is getting for her house]
Back to what I was saying:
He used to play the guitar with that hand.
I know they told me this
country was hard but I'm telling
you the truth when I say, nobody
really told me it was this hard.


Today's book of poetry has a soft spot for Chilean poets.  Nicanor Segundo Parra Sandoval (1914-2018), is an all-time favourite here in our offices.  Mariela Griffor will have the recently interred centenarian Parra, smiling, at the very least, a certain sly grin.  Griffor is that hard as nails poet with a gentle and loving human heart.


Image result for mariela griffor photo

Mariela Griffor

Mariela Griffor is the author of The Psychiatrist (Eyewear Publishing, 2013) and translator of Canto General by Pablo Neruda (Tupelo Press, 2016). She attended the University of Santiago and the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro. She left Chile for an involuntary exile in Sweden in 1985. She is publisher of Marick Press. Her work has appeared in periodicals across Latin America and the United States. Griffor holds a B.A in Journalism and a M.F.A. in Creative Writing from New England College. 

“Mariela Griffor’s brilliant poems navigate the distance between languages, homelands and heartlands. Her poems are the musical and engraved declarations the wounded world requires.”
     — Derick Burleson

Ma demeure brûle
5 Poems by Mariela Griffor
Video:  LOrigineDuMondeTV


Poems cited here are assumed to be under copyright by the poet and/or publisher.  They are shown here for publicity and review purposes.  For any other kind of re-use of these poems, please contact the listed publishers for permission.
We here at TBOP are technically deficient and rely on our bashful Milo to fix everything.  We received notice from Google that we were using "cookies"
and that for our readers in Europe there had to be notification of the use of those "cookies.  Please be aware that TBOP may employ the use of some "cookies" (whatever they are) and you should take that into consideration

Monday, May 28, 2018

Everyone Knows I Am a Haunting — Shivanee Ramlochan (Peepal Tree Press)

Today's book of poetry:
Everyone Knows I Am a Haunting.  Shivanee Ramlochan.  Peepal Tree Press.  Leeds, U.K.  2017.

"You tell him
I am the queen
the comeuppance
the hard heretic that nature intended."
                                                                                      from - Vivek Chooses Her Husband

Today's book of poetry is unsure of what to say about the flame content of these poems.  The poems in Everyone Knows I Am a Haunting come in heavy and hot.  Shivanee Ramlochan is singing in a new key, these poems, a new language - but familiar.  Ramlochan is "the hard heretic" and she's paid full price for the experience.

Shivanee Ramlochan's poetry almost does feel haunted.  Today's book of poetry thinks we understand the need for ghosts to do her bidding.  Like more women then we will ever know about, the heroine of these poems has been raped.  That Ramlochan can/does make poetry, art and beauty out of such horror renders these poems almost sacred.

Duenne Lara

I write into you hard enough
the rumour murmurs that you'll come for me.

I scratch you through the water mirror, suck you under my talons,
will you knock & claim me? I keep
this one soft garden in my trachea vacant; I
stripped speech for split gourds, choking on seeds so you
might come and live in me, little
lover, come
claim these metatarsal prayers.

Everyone knows I am haunting.

Enact it again, you whisper, using mora and purpleheart to tell me.
Mourn me all over, cloister to caul.
Weep me upright in our wedding bower, my little bride, and I
do, I do,

I take the four rivers of the forest by throat and algal sinew,
pump the waters into my lungs. Come,
I'll christen you away from the devil's doorstep,
duenne suitor, duenne saviour, duenne dowry,
Duenne, you are mine

by sharp incense and pistol recoil, by moth fabric and mouth to mouth.
The wooden atlas delivers deeper rings in us
while the devil tries again to win your heart,

Come here, she marrow-bites.
I have something for you, but it looks like torture.
She scrapes it from the ruins of the moonlight museum.
She smiles as it eats our national anthem from your tongue.

No one told you how it would hurt, to have your feet forced against
family hearth.
The mangroves stroked you taut while the devil cracked your bones right,
a blister body of devotion
a casket of cunning charms to stamp you for her service.

I will never make you walk again, if you will be mine.


Shivanee Ramlochan's women, clan after clan, embody strong and resilient characters of noble charm and wit.  You also know that they are willing to carry a sharp knife that no gentleman need ever see.  Ramlochan's women love other women.  And are willing to cut bad men.

Today's book of poetry admits that we had to go to the mattresses with Everyone Knows I Am a Haunting.  Generally we don't like to admit how many times we have to go to the dictionary to get through a poem (and usually that is a poem killer), but with Lady Shivanee we were willing to do whatever it took.  Once you are on certain rides you don't ever want them to stop.  Dame Shivanee Ramlochan is a beautiful monster poet.

Poem after poem in Everyone Knows I Am a Haunting had us sad, happy, angry, and often in the same poem.  We think it is because Duchess Ramlochan has a bad engine with only one setting, when her engine is on things are ready to burn, like only the best bad engines can.

1. On the Third Anniversary of the Rape

Don't say Tunapuna Police Station.
Say you found yourself in the cave of a minotaur, not
knowing how you got there, with a lap of red thread.
Don't say forced anal entry.
Say you learned that some flowers bloom and die
at night. Say you remember stamen, filament,
cross-pollination, say that hummingbirds are

vital to the process.

Give the minotaur time to write in the police ledger. Lap
the red thread
around the hummingbird vase.

Don't say I took out the garbage alone and he grabbed me by the waist
and he was handsome.
                  Say Shakespeare. Recite Macbeth for the tropics.
Lady MacBeth was the Queen of Carnival
and she stabbed Banquo with a vagrant's shiv during J'ouvert.
She danced a blood dingolay and gave her husband a Dimanche Gras

I am in mud and glitter so far steeped that going back is not an option.
Don't say rapist.

Say engineer of aerosol deodorant because pepper spray is illegal,
anything is illegal
Fight back too hard, and it's illegal,
>your nails are illegal

Don't say you have a vagina, say
he stole your insurance policy/your bank boxes/your first car

he took something he'll be punished for taking,
not something you're punished for holding
like red thread between your thighs.


Our morning read was a full house sort of affair but it was the women who came out styling today.  None of the men on the Today's book of poetry staff had any of the angry sincerity that the women on our staff said was necessary.  For good reason.  None of the men on our staff have ever been the victim of generations of systemic sexism.

Rape is a mean bastard of a delicate topic and Shivanee Ramlochan has no trouble just kicking the crap right out of all previous tip-toeing.  These poems bear witness, frank and unforgiving.  And Today's book of poetry has nothing but respect for the strength in these poems — and the determination of the poet.  Regardless of the seriousness of the topic, the addressing of terror and male aggression, these poems are only successful if they work as poetry.

That's why we are here.  Shivanee burns.

Camp Burn Down

You and me and the fires we used to keep each other alive.
The fire at Camp Balandra.
The fire at Fort George.
The fire at fuck my throat
while my mother's on the phone, and the island's flooding
so everyone's indoors
but you are the skinniest raft
not provided for by the government,
unlawful from her to Tobago
and back.

There are small welts on the backs
of your hands as you braid me
down to the campsite.
This is the camp of Sunday afters,
your father's car radio
melting our eardrums while you move in me.
This is the fort of no retracing, every
place on my body you touch
burned nova.
burned past recognition.
You burn me into an atlas
into a Form One geometry tin
inside a perfect's handspan,
cock to cock to cheap vaseline,
burning me something new in each fire.

Snow might come to Tunapuna,
and your father would still spill
my guts in front of the market.
There would be hail in the public library,
and your father's pig cutlass
opening my thigh. The weather could vomit itself,
turn the catalogues of gale and gust inside out,
and the biggest damage would be
what I've done to you.

Remember the camp at the edge of the island?

The white stones brining to nothing
as you nerve-ground them between thumb and tongue,
scattering the wet cremations on my forehead.

I bless you, you said, I bless you here.
Nothing touched us except the rest of the world.


Today's book of poetry will remember the name of Shivanee Ramlochan because we will be singing it from the rafters for the next little while.  If you get lucky enough to read Everyone Knows I Am a Haunting you will be unlikely to forget either.  Everyone Knows I Am a Haunting will tear your fricking heart out and give you hope all at the same time.  That's a rare ride, a rare human combination.

Shivanee Ramlochan

Shivanee Ramlochan is a Trinidadian poet, arts reporter and book blogger. She is the Book Reviews Editor for Caribbean Beat Magazine. Shivanee also writes about books for the NGC Bocas Lit Fest, the Anglophone Caribbean's largest literary festival, as well as Paper Based Bookshop, Trinidad and Tobago's oldest independent Caribbean specialty bookseller. She is the deputy editor of The Caribbean Review of Books. Her first book of poems, Everyone Knows I Am a Haunting, was published by Peepal Tree Press on October 3rd, 2017.

Ramlochan’s poetry slays whoever would force an ‘identity’ on it. It alchemizes the roles of grandmothers, abortionists, labourers, clerks, dancers, policemen, cousins, rapists into the greatest intensity of human. The world fucked the Caribbean archipelago, where European-derived shepherdesses and pre-Abrahamic Lilith now wander as peers among manifold beings. The music is consonantal, full of pleasure/pain. Rich as a García Márquez novel, these are uncompromising conversations, intimacy wrestling survival.
     —Vahni Capildeo, author of Measures of Expatriation.

This debut book is a subversive tour-de-force, a poetry of Holi powder and sarisilk drifting with beauty; of flayed predators, persistent hunger and thirst, broken bodies of daughters and sons; of cultural keep-down, wedding-weep, rape-ache, and the raw dreaming of rebel lovers; of abeer-streaked bodies’ sex-throb and split and Kali hex words brutally gleaming in the moonlit museum. These stunning poems fiercely and inventively wrestle language of beast, wolf, fishtail, and gods monstrous, singing firesongs of purification for the island dead and survival for the living. In these pages of la sangre viva, “spirit does linger.”
     —Loretta Collins Klobah, author of The Twelve-Foot Neon Woman.

These poems crackle with soucouyant ire and the voices of duennes in stanzas so bewitching you will not want to look away. Against a Hindu, Muslim, and Christian backdrop, abortionists, rapists, ancestors, and deities incarnate as grief. Surprise awaits in tightly wrought lines that are “no accidental shrine” to ancestry, femininity, and filial devotion. Always some darkness casts shadows against the beauty of love. Always the ghost of a story beckons the reader close.
     —Rajiv Mohabir, author of The Cowherd’s Son and The Taxidermist’s Cut.

In transgressive mode, Shivanee Ramlochan invokes gods, goddesses or demons to do what poetry should do–alarm and ignite us, surprise and blast us and tear at our heartstrings. Welcome to a challenging, unforgettable and courageous new voice.
     —Olive Senior, author of The Pain Tree.

Shivanee Ramlochan
reads three poems from 
Everyone Knows I Am a Haunting
at the Paper Based Bookshop
Video:  Shivanee Ramlochan



Poems cited here are assumed to be under copyright by the poet and/or publisher.  They are shown here for publicity and review purposes.  For any other kind of re-use of these poems, please contact the listed publishers for permission.
We here at TBOP are technically deficient and rely on our bashful Milo to fix everything.  We received notice from Google that we were using "cookies"
and that for our readers in Europe there had to be notification of the use of those "cookies.  Please be aware that TBOP may employ the use of some "cookies" (whatever they are) and you should take that into consideration