Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Deadlifts - Patricia Clark (New Michigan Press/University of Arizona)

Today's book of poetry:
Deadlifts.  Patricia Clark.  New Michigan Press.  University of Arizona.  Tucson, Arizona.  2017.

Today's book of poetry remembered Ms. Clark's name, so we sent Milo (our head tech) into the stacks.  He came back with Patricia Clark's Terrapin Books title The Canopy which was also published in 2017.  Once Today's book of poetry saw the cover we remembered The Canopy with it's heartbreaking laments for a dead mother and it's celebration of all things arborphilia.

Deadlifts is an oddly beautiful and quirky invention all its own.  Today's book of poetry has never seen the like.  Patricia Clark has taken on the macabre task, a sullen and spectacular rite of passage.  Clark has created the strangest and yet sweetest tapestry imaginable.  In order to write Deadlifts Clark trolled the dying in America searching for other women named "Patricia Clark."  Then she has taken the liberty of writing a poem about these women, their lives, their deaths.

We have all wondered about those other people walking around, our strange dopplegangers, name-sakes.  Patricia Clark has brought hers together just to listen to what they might have to say.  It is fascinating.


They are dying all over America,
Patricia Clarks, one after another—

in Vine Grove, Kentucky, but also this town
of Grand Rapids, Michigan. How rude

for a friend to say. "I saw your
name in the obituaries. A shock

for a moment, thinking you gone."
Then we resumed working out,

picking up handles of bright
stretchy bands, the long iron

body bars, and then heavy
weights to do deadlifts.


Our Patricia Clark is always respectful of the other Patricia Clarks, these laments are, after all, all elegies.  But Clark never looses sight of her sense of humour and it is a kind and generous giggle. Today's book of poetry is fairly certain none of the other Patricia Clarks would object.

Remarkably enough Today's book of poetry went to high school, back in the early70's, with another Patricia Clark although we always called her Patti.  She is now a retired mother and extremely successful independent business person, she lives in the mountains somewhere in northern California.  And most thankfully does not yet merit inclusion.

The older we get the more often we think about our dark future and that monster named Death who sits waiting for us.  Deadlifts visits that old bastard repeatedly and with aplomb.  There is no fear here.

Assemblage of a Life

We are all the same, these lives
bracketed by dates,

these lists—who preceded us, who
remains. Childhood in the Bronx,
one sister, two brothers.

First grade photo with a pleated skirt,
and outside with a new puppy.
Easter egg hunt in a pink
Family around a Christmas tree
with silver strands,
stars on the top.

Forgive me if I imagine wrong.

Story within a story—second husband the love
of your life, Lawrence.

Your jobs and work, travel
around the world.

Silver hair in a flattering bob,
dark skin.

You were known, always, as Pat.
I hear someone call your name
and turn.


Our morning read captured the underlying sense of mirth Patricia Clark brings to the proceedings.  Today's book of poetry certainly thinks Deadlifts treats death, and in particular the multiple Patricia Clark dead ends, with sufficient respect and decorum.  At the same time it is hard not to notice the Patricia Clark tongue in the Patricia Clark cheek.

Deadlifts proves, without trying, that we are all the same beast, our variences infinetly smaller and less significant than our simularities.  It just took a Patrica Clark to tell us so.

Our Lady of Victory Church

Out of a gingko leaf, a scrap of river birch bark,
out of a morning that sparkles, icicle drip and sun,

out of details that call to you the way peepers
will start chorusing in Lamberton Creek, soon,

"we're here, we're alive," so the few obit
paragraphs tell so many lives, ones worth

knowing—except it's too late. And isn't it time
for you, too, to reflect? Mrs. Clark of Hyannis Port,

no maiden name, no mention of where you began.
Living near the water, you recently persuaded friends

to donate sails to be recycled for sustenance fishermen
in Haiti. Only sixty years old at the time of your death.

Wherever we end, the date, or time, let's listen up
and get to work! Sail on, bright boats through

Caribbean waters—pull in a fish, unhooking the lure
from a red snapper's lip—and let smoke rise from coals,

later, enjoying the flavors of a glorious final feast.
You're the one to whom we'll lift a glass.


Coldest May in fifty years.  It feels like November.  A cold November at that.  But we are all still here and that is a good thing.  Deadlifts reminds us to enjoy what we have because all of it is temporary.  We are all on our way to becoming one of the Patricia Clarks.  That makes Deadlifts one compelling book of poetry.

At least one Patricia Clark can burn Baby burn.

Image result for patricia clark poet photo

Patricia Clark

Patricia Clark is the author of five volumes of poetry, including most recently The Canopy (2017) and Sunday Rising (2013). She has also published three chapbooks: Wreath for the Red Admiral and Given the Trees; a new one, Deadlifts, is just coming out from New Michigan Press. Her work has been featured on Poetry Daily and Verse Daily, and has appeared in The Atlantic, Gettysburg Review, Poetry, Slate, and Stand. She was a scholar at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference and has completed residencies at The MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Tyrone Guthrie Center (in County Monaghan (Ireland), and the Ragdale Colony. Awards for her work include a Creative Artist Grant in Michigan, the Mississippi Review Prize, the Gwendolyn Brooks Prize, and co-winner of the Lucille Medwick Prize from the Poetry Society of America. From 2005-2007 she was honored to serve as the poet laureate of Grand Rapids, Michigan. She is Poet-in-Residence and Professor in the Department of Writing at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.

"What a brilliant concept: Deadlifts offers witty, lyrical verses, historically accurate and imaginative, in which poet Patricia Clark provides an insider's view of other "Patricia Clarks"—the dead ones. These poems are even more brilliant than the concept, their endings a surprise and a good shock. Heartening and perfectly tuned, like Arcade Fire or Stephen Colbert's monologues, these poems are what we need now—and will return to—for a long time to come."
     —Marilyn Kallet

"In Patricia Clark's Deadlifts, we cling to the speaker as she dives right into mortality's maw, poring over obituaries of those who share her name. They're strangers, yes, but the connection Clark makes is powerful. Are we anything in death beyond our names? As Clark says, 'We are all the same, these lives/ bracketed by dates,/ these lists—who/ preceded us, who remains.'" 
     —Glenn Shaheen

"These poems are masterful—the way Clark tucks reverberating sounds from one line to the next—pain, thanks, face—like she tucks her namesakes into their graves. So gently and with so much love. Through the breath and ink of this author Patricia Clark, the Patricia Clarks that have gone on come back again."
     —Nicole Walker



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 27, 2019

Small Sillion — Joshua McKinney (Parlor Press)

Today's book of poetry:
Small Sillion.  Joshua McKinney.  Parlor Press.  Anderson, South Carolina.  2019.

The poems in Small Sillion come across as beautiful contradiction for pointing out such dark truths.  Joshua McKinney wrestles in the knowing that the glory necessary in the world can be found in one green field, one perfect silver river.

"Sillion" is the earth turned over by a plow.  Fresh rich soil.  And the implication is always fertility, the future possible.  McKinney's poems are a virtual cornucopia of the natural world, hawk to dove.  Ants crawl out the corner of poems and down the side of your desk, onto the floor and then back to the earth from which they came.

Small Sillion is the entertaining flaneur at work.  Joshua McKinney passes out a clean and precise song when he goes digging in the loam.


Returning from a run, I walk
the last block to cool down,
down the fractured sidewalk,
past the abandoned house,
its waist-high weeds and sodden
newspapers, down the street
past the must windows of
my meth-addict neighbor,
the driveway Rorschached by
her new man's monster truck,
down the street beneath jets
dragging exhausted trails across
the sky, under the olive tree
which has bloodied the concrete
obscenely with its fruit.
My daughter kneels in our driveway,
chalking her brother's outline as
he lies on his back, limbs splayed,
grinning. Her shape in yellow pastel
sprawls nearby. As I approach,
she looks up, asks me to lie down.


Joshua McKinney is working on some big ideas, asking, praying, talking with everyone Biblical from Zacchaeus to the Lord.  Today's book of poetry doesn't believe in much ecclesiastic but we can certainly get behind the idea of hope.  Small Sillion is a soldier in that battle, a warrior of gentle weapon, promise and hope in basic goodness.

McKinney takes on death, a reoccurring visitor in the pages of Small Sillion.  McKinney gives the dark giant due respect and isn't afraid, but he certainly is vibrantly observant.  

These poems are never a sermon, McKinney speaks with such easy authority the reader is instantly committed, comfortable like home.


When my wife motioned me to the picture window
and pointed to the garden where
our daughter and son sat beneath sunflowers—
the dog and both cats
sprawled around them as they toyed with dolls in the dirt,
a honeyed eastlight washing over it all—
my first thought was to save the scene.
And perhaps because I was tired
of the digital's immediacy, the ease with which
it erased my failures, or perhaps
because the moment demanded more resolution,
I ran to the hall closet and pulled down my old 35 mm
which had no film and then
ran to the kitchen drawer wherein were tossed
all things utile and useless and rummaged
among the screwdrivers and flashlights, the scissors and
tape, the twist ties and rubber bands,
for the film canister I thought I'd seen some weeks before
and sure enough
buried at the back I found it and popped the lid and
poured into my anxious palm two seeds or so I thought
for an instant before recognition claimed them
as dry buttons of blood,
the twisted tissue of the kids' umbilical remnants
my wife had told me not to save (disgusting, she said)
but which I'd kept and hidden
and then forgotten for reasons I don't understand and 
then from the window my wife said you missed it
and even as she said this I heard the children arguing outside
and realized I could smell something foul
and that it was what I held in my hand
and that it smelled like what it was,
like flesh gone bad,      like,         like


Our morning read was back indoors as the end of May, here in Ottawa, feels more like late November.  Today's book of poetry had guests from Quebec City this weekend, lovely meals, great conversation and much laughter ensued.

For today's morning read we had to knock on Max's (Senior Editor) door.  Generally we don't like to disturb Max but he is our go-to guy for all things philosophical and religious, even if he is an old crank.  Max grooved on McKinney's big noggin' and grounded vision.  Max said that we all needed the same things: grounding and hope.  Luckily for us Joshua McKinney serves up a feast.

Small Sillion

            in the meantime the earthworm's tender
                                                  overthrow unperceived
                                     in the ground I strode on whose surface
                           sensitive to touch reflects
                 the eye's mute logic the invisible
                              shape of smells
                                           excreted castings—
                                    the gizzard-worked grit-
                        soured ochre scored over
                                  the cheeks of men
                                                themselves become loam

                 we shall

                                           each creature

                            inside the soul
                                                of our own flesh

           plough a small sillion


                                    & freely perceived


Today's book of poetry is moving slowly these days.  Got sleep/dream punched by some evil villain and woke up this morning looking like this:

But fear not poetry puppies, Today's book of poetry has plenty of poetry treats on the horizon.  Please stay tuned.

Joshua McKinney's articulate rumbling, hands deep in the verdant earth, his heart soaring in the trees with the birds, never loses sight of us.  McKinney's tender and humane cooking resonates vibrant here at Today's book of poetry.

These are recipes you might want to refer to again, McKinney has the slow burn down tight.


Joshua McKinney

Joshua McKinney is the author of three previous books of poetry: Mad Cursive (Wordcraft of Oregon, 2012), The Novice Mourner (Bear Star Press, 2005), and Saunter (University of Georgia, 2002). He is a recipient of the Dorothy Brunsman Poetry Prize, the Dickinson Prize, the Pavement Saw Chapbook Prize, and a Gertrude Stein Award for Innovative Writing. He is coeditor of the online ecopoetry zine, Clade Song, and teaches at California State University Sacramento.

Joshua McKinney is a poet of keenest attunement. In Small Sillion he plows furrows in unattended, taken-for-granted scapes of land and mind to discover the wonder of “something/sacred something wholly/mundane.” This poet’s tensile attention balances at the boundary of language and witness, grappling with the ways that language is incommensurate with experience. McKinney’s poetry nonetheless ventures farther, both sensuous and otherworldly: his is a lyricism “aware as the nerve current sang in its flesh” that tenderly, gracefully pursues fulfillment “without knowing the nature of what it points to.”
     —Elizabeth Robinson

Its every line worked into shine by the poet’s meticulous ear, Joshua McKinney’s Small Sillion is devotion enacted: a vow to make the work of words matter, to make words into matter, by attending to the world with acute attention and tender care. Like the singular singing of Gerard Manley Hopkins, these meticulously sculpted poems attempt to render visible the invisible by enfleshing the word with “the phenomenon of pungent sound,” limning the inscapes suggested by encounters with birds and trees and other emissaries of life outside of human language and consciousness. To truly encounter the otherness alive outside us and to write of it, to persist in such endeavors—these are acts whose faith is born of an unusual openness, the poet “aware as the nerve current sang in its flesh.” How quickly the mundane opens out onto otherwise in these loving lyrics that bring “each creature//inside the soul//of our own flesh.” 
      —Brian Teare

In his luminous fourth collection, Joshua McKinney harvests the threads of his affection to loving fruition. Via poems indebted to the ground—that increasingly denuded and over ploughed place we call the earth--the poet tenderly graphs the region of our ultimate dispossession and somehow makes it feel like home. Both rooted and rootless, and always in the midst of what can be seen or sung, these poems seek “Something joyful, something woeful as the oldest sound. . . .” 
Small Sillion is the Book of Psalms for the 21st century. 
     —Claudia Keelan

Joshua McKinney reads "When Harold Grew Up" at Diesel Bookstore
Video:  Tim Kahl


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.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Bad Animals — Tom Cull (Insomniac Press)

Today's book of poetry:
Bad Animals.  Tom Cull.  Insomniac Press.  London, Ontario.  2018.


Every single poem Tom Cull writes is a different type of gold.  Bad Animals had Today's book of poetry going in poetry circles.  This cat can burn.

Today's book of poetry is going to start today's festivities with one of the finer list poems we've encountered in a long while.  It seems Cull can whip these wild musings into movies that attack the inner cortex of your brain from all sides with skill approaching magic.

Preparing for Apocalypse: 13 Survival Tips

1.  No one will survive the apocalypse.

2.  In addition to anything starring Will Smith, consult the 
following movies: Deep Impact, Melancholia, Armageddon,
Waterworld, WALL-E, 28 Days Later, and Eat
Pray Love.

3.  Add the following titles to your self-help library: anything
by Anne Coulter, Blood Meridian, Roughing It in the Bush, Not
Wanted on the Voyage, and Les Revenentes.

4.  Replace GPS with GSP.

5.  Audition for the following reality television shows:
Survivor, The Biggest Loser, Hell's Kitchen, Naked and Afraid,
Polyamory, Married & Dating, Real World, Deadliest Catch,
Full House.

6.  Compress your vocabulary—remove words such as
ambivalent, ecopoetics, neo-liberal, and crepe.

     i(a). idiom. Literalize your metaphors (open a can of worms,
     eat slow food, put a ring on it, issue trigger warnings, make a
     killing, beg to differ, cross that bridge, etc.).

     i(b). diction. Prepare for shifts in word definitions: glacial,
     for example, will mean "very fast." Koodo, Google, Hulu, and
     Snapchat will become onomatopoeia.

7.  Know when to follow; know when to retweet.

8.  Trade in Apple, BlackBerry, Tinder, and Kindle for apple,
blackberry, tinder, and kindle.

9.  Loot anthropology museums for supplies. (Didactic panels
may also prove helpful.)

10.  Refrain from correcting improper usage of personal
pronouns I and me.

11.  Stay limber; work on your cardio. When shit gets real,
remember tip #1 and/or Will Smith in Bad Boys II.

12.  Get comfortable with killing. Start small—a worm, maybe a
mayfly—then move up to vertebrates. Don't always choose ugly
things. You will get the hang of it.

13.  Make a list dividing the people you know into columns A and 
B. When the time comes, you'll know what it's for.


Tom Cull is a new age poetry Tom Robbins, Kurt Vonnegut, long winded but smarter Richard Brautigan and that crazy old insurance company's wild life documentary narrator.  All in one, and more.  What Today's book of poetry is so clumsily trying to say is that  Mr. Cull hits every poetry nerve receptor we have and calls out a few we didn't know we had.

It's as simple as this — Tom Cull's poems explode off of the page propelled by intelligent wit and a fantastically agile and humane closet of frailties.

Mr. Cull, who is apparently also an ornithologist/zoologist of the highest order, is also unhinged in the best possible way.  Tom Cull is not wired like the rest of us.  As a result he is perfectly placed to objectively cut through our human nonsense, all our bullshit.

Show and Tell

Dead man in a box
inside a larger box.
With us.

Moving down a mile-long line
of pylons on the 401,
a hawk folds and dives behind
a row of cedars.

A stack of sandwiches,
devilled eggs,
tarts, and coffee.
"I'm a man of few words."
The dead man replied, "Yes but you use them
all the time."
The season is fall.
He leaves. For days
he leaves. Moaning and terrified.

The hospice nurse asked, "Have you
been able to return to
any of your normal activities—
light housework, cooking,
laundry?" His reply: "I have a wife."

The child in the spotted dress
hides behind the coffin, and the bruises
fade yellow.


Those of you Today's book of poetry fans with long memories will remember that Today's book of poetry wrote about Tom Cull's beautiful Baseline Press chapbook What the Badger Said back in June of 2014.  You can see that here:

Today's book of poetry had nothing but admiration for Mr. Cull's BadgerBad Animals is a step into the big league and Cull has made it a head-turning giant step.

Our morning read was held out on the porch for the first time this year, all bright sunshine and promise.  Today's book of poetry asked the crew to dedicate today's reading to Toronto playwright and most excellent man, Andrew Batten (1963-2019).  Andy loved poetry.

The Today's book of poetry staff responded with gusto.  Our morning read of Tom Cull's Bad Animals was the best we've had around here since we blasted through David Lee's last book.

Today we're going to finish the proceedings with another smashing "list" poem.  Thank you Tom Cull.

Invasive Species

European green crab
Purple loosestrife
Zebra mussel
Sea lamprey
Emerald ash borer
Gypsy moth
Sub-Saharan Zeus moss
Asian long-horned beetle
Giant hogweed
Asiatic carpe diem
Common buckthorn
Northern snakehead
Killer shrimp
Rusty crayfish
Brown spruce longhorn beetle
Mountain pine beetle
Sirex woodwasp
Dutch oven
Butternut canker
Common crested Brohammer
Japanese knotweed
Garlic mustard
Dog-strangling vine
Alfalfa blotch leafminer
Stuffed crust pizza
Prussian drone operator
Eurasian witch lemming
Holy Roman trebuchet
Oriental weather loach
Asian swamp eel
African clawed frog
Spanish slug
European yellow-tailed scorpion
Red-card slider
Water hyacinth
Gangis Kanye
Eurasian wild boar
Burmese python
Tyrannosaurus rex
Giant African land snail
Three-sceptred monarch
Herb-crusted salmon
Panko-crusted tilapia
Open-concept kitchen
Spotted eastern gulch
Barrel-chested man-child
Three steepled tree weevil
Right said Fred


Bad Animals is some of the best damned cooking Today's book of poetry has tasted, flat out.  Today's book of poetry loved these poems and assures you that given the chance you will love them too.  

They are that good.

Image result for tom cull photo

Tom Cull

Tom Cull grew up in Huron County and now resides in London, Ontario, where he teaches writing and serves as the city's current Poet Laureate. His chapbook, What the Badger Said, was published in 2013. Since 2012, Tom has been the director of Thames River Rally, a grass roots environmental group he co-founded with his partner Miriam Love, and their son Emmett.

"Like his black bears that have drifted too far south, Tom Cull's poems wander through a suburban wilderness, out of place, unpredictable, full of purpose, nosing among the wasting, surreal artifacts of human life, looking for sustenance."
     —Jeffery Donaldson, author of Missing Link

"Bad Animals sings a natural world rendered absurd by human hands. In the same line, the same breath, the reader can find grief and calm, folly and beauty, spectacle and longing, yet Tom Cull's poems always circle back to joy."
     —Laurie Graham, author of Settler Education

Tom Cull (8th Poet) | Open Mic Poetry May 3, 2017
Video: London Open Mic Poetry


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.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Listen Before Transmit — Dani Couture (A Buckrider Book/Wolsak & Wynn)

Today's book of poetry:
Listen Before Transmit.  Dani Couture.  A Buckrider Book/Wolsak & Wynn.  Hamilton, Ontario.  2018.

Listen Before Transmit

Dani Couture is stringing some perfectly good Tangerine Dream soundtrack to the back of your head, her pointed fingers all skulduggery and tectonic.  Listen Before Transmit is a highly sophisticated series of messages sent from somewhere that seems like the present and between someplace that feels like the future.

It's all dreamlike familiar, deju vu freaky and future skeptical.  Dani Couture's voice is uber-modern.  In fact Listen Before Transmit may be seen as an introduction to a new lexicon, a new emotional matrix.


The bronze statue of a soldier sits astride
a bronze horse imagined exactly 1.5 times

larger than any known breed. A slayed dragon,
artfully reclined in death, tops well-chiselled notes

on an empire. If the enemy is imagined
as a dragon, the enemy will be unaware

we know they are our enemy. Or recall they
once were and may be again. The recurring

apogee of goals and timelines. In the park, hostas
proliferate, stab up in spring like strip spikes

that puncture all to arrest one. Like dreaming once
to end all waking. Melatonin jet lag, sleep, and here

you are able to float and horses ride men above
a conflict of dented texts. Small details, contrails,

threaded through to make it almost believable - a lie
from the one in your bed, but from and to yourself.

Recombinant data. At rest, your brain selects
a Zeppelin to tour a city of spires. Math

was never your strong suit. You were told
to bring three adapters. The pleasure of plugging in

everything at once is undeniable. By percentage
the galleries had more heads than bodies.

Outside of one, a man, granite, holds up the head
of a woman, granite, emancipated from her body.

Saving her, punishing her, or both. You failed to read
the plaque. A second gallery welcomes visitors

with bay window-sized breasts fashioned in three
colours of neon piping, which, in your mind, flash

OPEN, OPEN, OPEN. Artist's intent aside, you enter
the gallery like a fisherman's knot and leave hooked.

This where you felt most at home away from home.
Home where the grackles are the size of ravens,

ravens the size of dogs, dogs the size of horses,
yet women still variable according to need and purpose.

At the departure gate, you ask a guard if you speak
a different language than your father, are you ensured security

of your own thought outside his borders? Everyone said
this was a long way to go to be somewhere else.


Today's book of poetry recently heard from our travelling correspondent Otis.  He's currently on assignment in Port Credit.  Years ago Today's book of poetry took up residence in Port Credit with a certain and genuine Blanche Dubois, and her mother.  It's a small world and we're hoping Otis gets out alive and unscathed.  Port Credit can be one dangerous place.  And his mailbox is overflowing.

Kathryn, our Jr. Editor, is a big Dani Couture fan and insisted we get YAW (Mansfield Press, 2014),  Sweet (Pedlar Press, 2010), and Good Meat (Pedlar Press 2006) out of the stacks for the morning read.  Milo, our head tech and just recently back from a honeymoon with Kathryn, shot into action like he was shot out of a love gun.  Kathryn handed out Couture's oeuvre and a splendid morning read ensued.  Dani Couture's poems made our staff sound smart, they all liked that.

Listen Before Transmit reads like it could be the unknown love child of Walter Tevis and Saint Sharon Olds.

Report on the Status of Raccoons
on Fern Avenue

The children have elected them, en masse,
as head gardener, tastemaker, first love.
Individually, some are mistaken for escaped
house cats or nothing at all - renter's side
of a one-way mirror. Assembled, they move
as one. a giant fractal considering
the neighbourhood, licking off shingles
for the gap-toothed view of our pills,
passwords and occasional sex. Last frost
is their favourite formula. Their claws
are fashioned from pull tabs, lighter silver,
and lost earrings. The only words they know
are I am sorry, spoken in varying orders,
velaric, almost, and often, swallowed.
Each animal forms a binary system
with one of the feral chickens of Kauai.
They believe they are an island. Some are
able to camouflage as kitchen-made satellites
moving across telephone wires. They collect
open-window data, half-lives of half-heard
conversations. They party trick refuse, ingest,
then leave it on porches, neatly, in curls. Each
individual hair on their coat is an antenna
to an auxiliary. They reclaim old pelts, cold
crowns, from attics, to commune with their dead,
and wonder why we pick our brushes clean.
They believe we invented the rat and car tire.
Understand construction cranes to be a form
of prayer. They take more meaning
from the lay of flagstones than they should.
They're partial to the sound of human crying.
They sleep unmolested in the eaves
we'll never finish paying for.


One of the things, one of the many that Today's book of poetry adores in the poetry of Dani Couture, and Listen Before Transmit is no exception, is the catalogue of poets, musicians, artists, painters, thinkers, that Couture folds into whatever she is cooking.  Everyone from Saint Eileen of Myles and the immortal Pink of Floyd, Kate Hall to Joseph Henri Honore Boex.  The point being that Couture is a searcher, fully engaged in a dynamic dialogue with the world.

Today's book of poetry ran into Dani Couture at a recent poetry festival and introduced himself.  Couture read her socks off, dazzled the audience and then walked off the stage with an "aw shucks, it weren't nothin'" grin.  That's how the pro's do it.

Mother, Order Apple

The radio reports there are no
apples this year, so you drive

to the closest orchard and ask
for apples. I would like to buy apples.

When the man at the chained gate
tells you there are none, you say:

I want apples. You tell him
there have always been apples.

Fifty-seven years of apples.
He tells you to drive west

two thousand miles. You'll find apples
there, just down the road

from here. He says if you'd died
in surgery as expected, you would

not be without apples this year.
A perfect record.

Maybe he didn't say those words
exactly, but you knew

he was thinking them
as he walked away to where he keeps

shelves of canned halves, the ones
he saved for a year like this.


Today's book of poetry has long admired the poetry of Dani Couture, we wrote about YAW back in 2014 and you can read about that here:  

Listen Before Transmit is what happens when an excellent poet gets better.  She has the long sustain, Couture's yawp continues and Today's book of poetry couldn't be happier.  We are all richer to hear it, learn something.

Dani Couture cooks, she's the real burn.

Image result for dani couture photos

Dani Couture

Dani Couture is the author of several collections of poetry and the novel Algoma (Invisible Publishing). From 2012 to 2016, she was the Poetry and Fiction Editor at This Magazine. Couture’s work has been nominated for the Trillium Book Award for Poetry, received an honour of distinction from the Writers’ Trust of Canada’s Dayne Ogilvie Prize for Emerging LGBTQ Writers, and won the ReLit Award for Poetry. Her poems have appeared in publications in Canada, the US, and the UK, and several editions of Best Canadian Poetry in English.


"The poems in Listen Before Transmit exist in the slippage between language, experience and memory – deftly moving one way, then another, in a call-and-response to the human condition. A beautiful and accomplished collection."
     – Helen Humphreys, author of The Ghost Orchard

"A deft collage of syntactical fragments, the title poem of Listen Before Transmit foregrounds the principles of uncertainty, estrangement and disconnection that underlie the haunting mindscapes of this book. But there is also a countermusic in the book that strengthens the hold these poems gain over the reader, a music enacting the human search – however fraught, even risible – for connection and coherence in an indifferent universe. In 'Minus Time' both movements are manifest: ‘Who were you when you understood the sun / was simply a star? That you, in part / were made / of collapse. You, smallest sun.' Couture's questing figures probe galaxies within and without, in the process enmeshing us in the excitement and risk of both sorts of journey. Spend time with this book. Agile in its management of form, intellectually and emotionally nuanced, it will repay you with riches."
      – Mary Dalton, author of Edge: Essays, Reviews, Interviews
"Equal parts generous and curious, Dani Couture's Listen Before Transmit is born from the tender space where history ends and the future begins. These beautifully crafted poems place hunger and joy beneath a microscope, attuning the reader to what is magnified there . . . Listen Before Transmit opens the skies for us, demanding we ask more from the science fictive statics our bodies swim inside. Imagine the stars looking down at us when we look up at them: in this intimate and daring book, they do."
     – Jessica Rae Bergamino, author of The Desiring Object or Voyager Two Explains to the      
        Gathering of Stars How She Came to Glow Among Them

Dani Couture
Video: BlackCoffeePoet



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 13, 2019

If There Were Roads — Joanna Lilley (Turnstone Press)

Today's book of poetry:
If There Were Roads.  Joanna Lilley.  Turnstone Press.  Winnipeg, Manitoba.  2017.

Joanna Lilley is very much a poet of place.  Geography plays a big part in her narrative of If There Were Roads.  The particulars of geography may sometimes confuse the reader because Lilley both writes about where she is — and where she isn't.

The constant is Lilley herself, her keen eyes and wickedly sharp pen.  Lilley makes a strong argument that we are shaped by geography and our place in it.  It is a simple concept but a far more complicated actuality.  Joanna Lilley navigates the territory of the present like an enlightened cartographer whose keen ear remembers and makes way for the past.


My boyfriend had a vision:
my bicycle chucked in a truck;
It would be red, he said.
As if he'd ever been to Canada.

A man I served at the bar asked
if I was going still, now the desert war
was on. I should carry a gun, another said.
As if he'd ever been to Canada.

It was twenty years ago today, the day
I started. A long bicycle ride,
drawing corners on a ragged country,
I stretched six thousand miles

to fit in enough aloneness
after all the cram of England.
Len the long-haul trucker saw me twice
on his trans-Canada run.

The third time, he came out of a cafe
as I went in. Fourth run, he bought me supper
at a truck stop. A salad, for a vegetarian,
with jelly and marshmellows.

He'd got out of Keeseekoose, saved
for a semi that cost more than a house
and made it home. He hadn't seen
his daughter for half her six-year life,

didn't know if he still had a wife.
Len said I shouldn't camp. He offered
me his bunk. We slept beside each other
after he got back ache on the front seat

and asked to share. When I left, he gave
me a song on a dirty, cracked cassette.
Anne Murray's Bluebird.
Not my thing but beautiful.

He said he meant it. That was Saskatchewan.
Chester in Nova Scotia had seen me too.
He made me pancakes. Marc in New Brunswick
took me home for apple pie.

He told me he had a girlfriend.
Ray — Ontario — kept giving me food,
said I must eat as I cycled along. I left
the helmet he gave in a campground.

Women didn't feed me.
Alice in Ontario said she was jealous:
all that time to think. Marianne
cried because I was on my own.

In Manitoba, Judy the teacher caught
me camping at the school.
I slept in her white house
down by the sunken Birdtail River,

a riddle of hills that were really the prairie
above. Helen in Alberta called me
a fellow traveller, told me the bird I'd heard
since Quebec was just a wood thrush.

It wasn't supposed to be about the people.
It was the land I wanted: skies, the muskeg,
taiga, the bear who crossed the highway,
the coyote who followed me, the foxes

who watched. In the Yukon, Julie
took me to her cabin on the Dempster.
It took me fifteen years to make it back.
As if I could live anywhere but Canada.


If There Were Roads does concern itself with matters beyond geography.  Lilley dares to venture into the open and endless plain of the emotional landscape.  This is where Joanna Lilley really shines.

If There Were Roads got carried around quite a bit in the last ten days.  It spent several hours at various medical institutions as well as an over-night trip to a hometown funeral.  Whenever Today's book of poetry picked up If There Were Roads we found another of the myriad destinations Lilley serves up on a banquet platter.  It was better than carrying maps.

Just a Man

I wish I could be just a man
passing by a row of shops.

A man as ordinary as a road with potholes,
as a bridge across a river frilled with brown foam,

or the tugboats of a working firth.
A man where urban is normal,

where a park is unremarkable,
where dogs walk without pulling

and pigeons peck at screwed up burger wrappers.
I wish I was a man in a jacket, collar down,

a little fashion in my trouser leg, passing by
a doorway, a yellow skip, a litter bin,

past men and women at the bus stop
who barely notice me.

I wish I didn't care that the sun has set,
that the street lights have come on,

creating shadows,
and I'm still half a mile from home.


When Joanna Lilley talks about such things as gender it is without bile.  A man becomes "as ordinary as a pothole."  Lilley's poetry is lush with thoughtful consideration given to the small moments that make up our existence, the detailed moments that make us human.

Tom the Wolfe made it abundantly clear "that we can't go home again."  Jack of Kerouac told us how to live "on the road," while Joanna Lilley charts a path where place is something inside the individual, to be carried wherever need be.

Can the solace we need and seek be manufactured by the strength of self, Today's book of poetry believes that Lilley does believe just that.  Then the knowing where are inside is the only direction one needs.

Where I Was Born

I am not just from where I was born;
I am from where I've lived.
On Dartmoor's sheep-cropped edges,
beside golden, bouldered tors.
A shingle beach, a chalky sea,
a land to a preceptory.
A valley, a waterfall, a cairn.
And, yes, that first rough field
of shaggy grass in Cambridgeshire
my parents brought me home to.
A brown pond, a thatched roof
over a weak floor, a sheepdog
watching my pram. For I was born
within the sound of horses' hooves,
across the county line in Suffolk
farthest from the Bow Bells
of the litter. My siblings
can have their London births.
My first breath yanked sheets of air
from fens as far as sea, from roofs
with spaces in between.
I have sought those spaces ever since
and found them even in the boughs
of plane trees on a city street.
They stay with me, these spaces.
I've brought them here to the forest edge,
where land might still be sacred.
Though far from field and moor and sea
I am at last where I need to be.


We are in a slightly dishevelled office here at Today's book of poetry.  Much is afoot, including a lovely red "coffee table" that has become a central and critical component to our entire operation.  It is sitting on top of Today's book of poetry's desk.  Today's book of poetry has been distracted by reasons beyond your amusement, but Joanna Lilley's If There Were Roads has been close company and reminding us of what really matters.

There is a haunting, to come after, feeling to these poems.  A knowing, that once read, you'll want to travel this road again.

Joanna Lilley

Joanna Lilley

Joanna Lilley is an award-winning poet living in Whitehorse. Born in the UK, Joanna has always been drawn north, crossing the Arctic Circle twice, before settling in the Yukon. Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals, including The Malahat Review and Grain. If There Were Roads is her second collection of poetry.

Joanna Lilley claims in her poem “Two Ghosts” that “it wasn’t supposed to be about the people,” yet that is exactly what If There Were Roads is about—people and what they do to the bodies of animals; people on journeys accompanied by ghosts, and myth, and crows; people both lost and at home. Lilley’s journey takes us into the cycles of the seasons where certainty exists only in acute observation and reflection. If There Were Roads is haunting and luscious, full of place and heart.
     — Micheline Maylor, Little Wildheart

Poems of place and displacement, of leaving home and finding home, move seamlessly through inner and outer landscapes in Lilley’s lively, evocative collection. Arresting and captivating, If There Were Roads is poetry brimming with new ways of seeing.
     —Catherine Graham, The Celery Forest   



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.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Poetry Comes Out of My Mouth — Mario Santiago Papasquiaro (Dialogos Books)

Today's book of poetry:
Poetry Comes Out of My Mouth.  Mario Santiago Papasquiaro.  Translated by Arturo Mantec贸n,    Dialogos Books.  New Orleans, Louisiana.  2018.

Today's book of poetry loves Mexico and today we love Mexico even more.  Why?  Because only Mexico could produce a Mario Santiago Papasquiro (1953-1998), born Jose Alfredo Zendejas, Papasquiro chose his name.  Always rebelling, even against his own name.

Today's book of poetry was completely in the dark about Papasquiaro until Poetry Comes Out of My Mouth  and the excellent introduction to Papasquiaro by Ilan Stavans.  There is much to know about the bohemian Papasquiaro and his partner in crime Roberto Bola帽o, the founders of Infrarealism (also called Visceral Realism).  This poetry is written in deliberate opposition to the mainstream of Mexican poetry in the 70's.

These poems sound like they were shot out of a cannon that you're standing next to, they are as electric as that eel biting your face.  Poetry Comes Out of My Mouth explodes like biting pus leaving an abscess and that immediate stanky relief that follows.  Santiago is a full on fuselage of fireworks and it is fabulous.

Poetry Comes Out of my Mouth

For Roberto Bola帽o, who I feel will become my Maharishi and is the founder of a movement
whose name I am unaware of & in which I pledge to fully realize myself

Poetry comes out of mouth,
it juts out from my nostrils / my penis
unexpectedly /
the shuddering
the resplendence /
& drool as well
& my hair now yanked out
by the sheer force of riding it
& pulling out of its deviations /
& dandruff / & the petrification
of so many of the herbs & roots
of this world / that before
taking a  bite of them we are obliged
to spit...
Poetry comes out of my mouth,
from my clenched hands, from each resolute
pore of my skin /
from this volatile, random place /
testicularly located /
sharpening its dagger / its irritations
its manifest propensity to
explode / & light the fuse
in a refrigerator climate
in which it is neither GOOD or BAD
nor shaggy hanks nor keepsake locks of hair
      nor even a head cold
that merits being called a cold
nor even one single case of Fever-Frever
worthy of being recorded as such in this
my motionless country
      Poetry comes out of my mouth,
with an animal pelt & some antennae
& a few eyes of a fly /
With the warbles of a caged
canary / & the yawns
cacophonous yawns of the
zoo keeper /
     Night & day / Red & Black
with the ovaries of a girl
with the hoarse voice a boy
with the hesitant gaze
but rabid / beautifully rabid
of a queer kid who doesn't
want to be hidden in a
bottomless barrel
               Poetry comes out of my mouth
with the clean blackness of gasoline
with the eloquent brilliance of a 500-volt spotlight
with the excitement & the pride
of some biceps
      masters of their world
(& within the relativity
of master Einstein):
      The all-powerful ones
With the colors of a suit of clothes
made with fabric remnants /
with the confused sounds
chaotically harmonized
of hundreds & hundreds of disparate
car horns /
a day of bottleneck
on the beltway
            Against gale winds & inundations
(& in a certain way a
favor to them)
against houses with closed doors
against worm-ridden suns
against cirrhosis far beyond
the liver /
against soft drink bottles
containing urea /
against boys & girls
castrated / frozen
on the day of their birth /
against the tons of
dirt & garbage
that fall on top of us,
when what one wants
is to show oneself to be happy & beautiful
as a palpable demonstration
of a new "rebirth"
      Jumping & running with the
agile ones / putting a wax taper in
the asshole of the dimwits /
planning luncheons & soirees
with the bright ones /
     getting immensely
enthused over the resolution
of the malfunctions / from Aries to Pisces
from Monday to Sunday /
from January to December
from the 1st to the 31st
from the worn-out board on the floor
to the spider web shimmying on
the roof /
       of flatulence in flatulence
of the impression of a reactionary
upon meeting for the 1st time
a naked woman /
      the last Ah of "somebody
or other," when the 3rd World War
breaks out /
      visiting the sick
      greeting the healthy
conspiring underground
sabotaging above ground
holding back / advancing
hurrying your gulp
savoring it
gargling it
massaging yourself with it
injecting yourself with it
       / scratching, clawing
      by the light of a midnight sun
like 2 lovers digging into each other
like 2 lovers expanding
out to their ultimate possibilities
the signifiers & the signified
of the Braille system
like a drunken binge of
sunflowers in circles / like a
diadem of dahlias  the favorite
flower of Judith /
like a hit of marijuana
& you touch Nirvana with your hands
you move a finger, & you realize
you pull up grass & you smile /
flower pot worm / worm of red
earth that you did not know yourself/
Like a huge out of control psilocybin trip
that makes flour out of the rock
of your 4 walls /
& puts you on the prow of the comet Kohoutek
& leaves your sprees & revelry exposed,
your entire expanse
your abbreviation,
     ready to be shaken off /
so as to not forsake the proper cholera
for the unjust dirty tricks /
but rather to enrich
but rather to strengthen
the fuse to the TNT,
to explode it
to make the pupil of your eye turn inward
      Now he sings who wept
a short time ago
Shouts / Leaps / Mounts / Ejaculates ?
That So & So whom they had given up
for dead /
Now the hard ballads
soft cantatas / Bronx cheers
& the aftertaste for him who has spit out
the earth & the mucous
with which his eyes had sealed /
      Poetry comes out of my mouth
in full gerundial coin
in full flow of potable water
in full viral luminosity
in full capacity of contagion
So it goes with poetry /
& for her
      I have nothing but praises


Born in Mexico City in 1953, Santiago lived in Paris, Vienna, Barcelona and Jerusalem between 1976 and 1978.  He was chasing love, in love with a woman he couldn't have.  Papasquiaro returned to Mexico City and died in 1998.  He was a man dedicated to love as few men ever are.

Today's book of poetry had Delinquent Habits blasting out on the office box this morning as we tried our best to get in the proper mood to hammer out our morning read.  Papasquiaro didn't just use Spanish but Mexican slang, Chilango—argot, words "from Nahuatl, the pre-Columbian language of Mexica, and several other indigenous nations."

Today's book of poetry couldn't keep up to the cultural and political references that spit up out of Papasquiaro's poems like water dropped on to a hot skillet.

Implacable Song

I shit on God
& on all of his dead
I shit on the communion host
& the virgin's little cunt
I shit on the dead
of the God of God
on the master morality of Friedrich Nietzsche
on the trembling body on my soul
& on the exposed nettles of the atheist
on the premature death of the righteous
on the fleeting nature of coitus & its flash
On the animal verb
On rhizome-like imagination
On the texts of fully weaned wisdom
On the ass crack of the planets
I shit
Concentrating on the wildfire of my pores
on this alcohol undergrowth that thrashes me
on the infinite eye of my footprints
on the savage fury of shameful chaos
on impossible death & its offerings
On the med of the asp that suns itself
on the rocks of the beloved
on the levitation of my skull & bones
on the lame heart of the unspeakable
On the aqueous aleph of my stigmata
on the vitreous rash of my assassin
on the hand of pleasure
on the drug wedged in his front teeth
On the philanthropic ogre & his wife
on the wretched grave of chance
on the germ of lyrical poetry / which is a turd
On the airborne horseshit
on the sleep sand in the eyes of moles
on the all-splendored cranium of Charleville
On the rats still fleeing from the Drunken Sea
on the soft
on the flabby
& on the defenseless
On the toads' belch of either
on boiling blood
on the shadows
on the pink phlegm of the daybreak
on the insensate glass I have chosen for a road
in the canyons of swollen Venus
On the banquet platter
in the little chamber pots of the ceasefire
on the rotten toadstool & its trident
On the genealogical tumor of the US Army
on the extensive lineage of shit
Abyss & resplendency / chance & wind
Open vein from coccyx to clavicle
Lateness of pregnancy
/ Flame of muffled harps
On groins without the armpits of God-inventorofthedead
on the suave & multiple murmur made by 2 teardrops
: on the sea : on its deserts :
& on myself


Today's book of poetry marvelled at how easy it was to embrace Arturo Mantec贸n's translations and walk right into these panoramic poems.  To be frank and honest, as we always try to be here, Today's book of poetry is now in love with Mario Santiago Papasquiaro, happy happy joy joy that we've found him. —— But stupid sad that we had never heard of him earlier.

When you open the pages of Poetry Comes Out of My Mouth it is a little like the first time you hear Coltrane's "Giant Steps" or Bob Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower."  You know you are in the presence of greatness.  All you want to do is bask in it.

¡Oye!  Mario Santiago Papasquiaro is a poet you didn't know you were waiting for.

William Shakespeare Arrives in Chilpancingo

William Shakespeare arrives in Chilpancingo
almost breaking his crown
in a small plane accident

A Jehovah's Witness (of the sleepwalking kind)
watches him on the sly

a federal security officer
shoots at him & does not hit him

William Shakespeare arrives (as he likes it)
his hip still hot & fragrant
his cranium invaded by flaming salamanders
fit together like pillows of rock & moss

William Shakespeare gets lost in Chilpancingo
—on the way from the cabaret to the gynecologist—
traveling now on tip-toe
now kissing the jaw of his anti-Lecumberri gradual progress
his blood-tunnel
his helicopter backbone
his most witch-like will
his caprice in flight
upon which he rides & lets our cries while fleeing

William Shakespeare / who seeded his flowerbed with black small pox in
excursion on the camino real
intoxication that we now savor as classic
William Shakespeare playing chess in Chilpancingo


Today's book of poetry is gobstruck, our poetry world just got that much bigger in the best way possible.  There isn't much of Mario Santiago Papasquiaro 's poetry that survived his death.  We are lucky to have Poetry Comes Out of My Mouth.

On days like today I have the best job in the world.  Today's book of poetry was honoured to write about Papasquiaro.

Mario Santiago Papasquiaro

Mario Santiago Papasquiaro
(1954 - 1998)

Mario Santiago (1953-1998) was a poet errant, an incessant wanderer of the storied streets of Mexico City and an adventurous pursuer of love in Europe and the Middle East.

In his mid-twenties he met a young woman, Claudia Kerik, at a poetry workshop (attended, also, by Roberto Bola帽o and other infra-realists) held in a cultural center in Chapultepec Park. Mario Santiago became infatuated with her. His love was not returned. When Kerik, who was Jewish, decided to emigrate to Israel in 1977, he followed her. He went to Paris and made his way to Jerusalem and worked on a nearby kibbutz to be near her. When he finally gave up his romantic pursuit, he made a slow retreat through Europe, writing poetry whenever he could. In Vienna, he was jailed for participating in a political demonstration and was expelled from Austria. He worked as a dishwasher in Barcelona and a fisherman and crop picker in the south of France, and he was a vagabond in Paris before finally going back to Mexico.

A rebellious man with a prickly personality and anti-social tendencies, he had difficulty holding down a job. He would burn off excess energy by taking long walks, at times for days on end but always coming home to the most important person in his life, his wife Rebeca L贸pez, the familial anchor who provided him the love and support necessary to his work. He was injured when hit by a car while on one of his interminable hikes. This did not deter him from taking his long meditative walks, but thereafter he had to use a cane.

After his accident, he became reckless and would cross busy streets with no regard for oncoming traffic, and on January 10, 1998, he was struck by a hit-and-run driver and killed.

After he had been missing several days, his wife called the police. She was directed to a morgue where she identified a corpse as her husband.

Arturo Mantec贸n

Arturo Mantec贸n is a poet, story writer and translator born in Laredo, Texas and raised in Detroit, Michigan. His poetry has appeared in La Ventana Abierta, Poetry Now and various anthologies. His short stories have been published in The Americas Review, Caf茅 Bellas Artes, Bliss, and The Dunes Review. A collection of his short stories, Memories, Cuentos Ver铆dicos, y Otras Outright Lies, was published by En Casa in 2014.

He has translated the poetry and prose of the mad Spanish poeta maldito, Leopoldo Mar铆a Panero, in three collections: My Naked Brain (Swan Scythe Press, 2011), Like an eye in the hand of a beggar (Editions Michel Eyquem, 2013), and Rosa Enferma / The Sick Rose (Swan Scythe Press, 2016).

He has also translated the prose and poetry of the uniquely erudite Spanish writer, champion poker player and ornithologist, Francisco Ferrer Ler铆n in a volume titled Chance Encounters and Waking Dreams (Editions Michel Eyquem, 2016).

The poetry of legendary Mexican poet Mario Santiago Papasquiaro is little known in the USA. Closest friend of Roberto Bola帽o (he is Ulises Lima in his Los Detectives Salvajes), Mario Santiago’s poetry flies in the most hallucinatory manner out of the tangled mass of Mexico’s heritage. Fusing the supernal and infernal energies of C茅sar Vallejo and Allen Ginsberg, this non-stop automatic-rifle poetry has few peers in contemporary poetry anywhere, and the meticulous translations of Arturo Mantec贸n superbly render this often difficult stylist into an English equally explosive and eloquent. With this potpourri of past and present, imagined and unimaginable visions, Santiago puts himself over the edge, racing as it were to his own destruction.
       —Ivan Arg眉elles, author of The Invention of Spain and Madonna Septet

Mario Santiago writes not only with brilliance, but pays homage to his many influences—from the Beat poets to Artaud—whom he turns into his family in a theater of cultural references and, as a communist, makes them all part of his fundamental, historical rage for justice, love and transformation in an epoch steeped in drugs, lunacy and spontaneous righteousness. Arturo Mantec贸n’s majestic translations reveal Santiago’s mastery of lyricism and poetic drama. If you find yourself reading yourself when you read this book, don’t say I didn’t tell you so—that’s how great Santiago is.
      —Jack Hirschmanm, author of All That’s Left and Front Lines

Every line of these poems pack little explosions of beauty, thought, rage, joy, that coalesce into a radiant blaze. I found myself bouncing in my chair as I read, carried by the language’s irresistible exuberance, and Arturo Mantec贸n’s on-fire translations. These poems make fresh a youthful spirit and language from a lost time. Mario Santiago still drives solemn pompous Mexican critics crazy; some are deeply annoyed that his friend and champion Roberto Bola帽o’s fame have brought these poems new attention. I love the poems that take on some of Mexico’s sacred foundational myths, and far from merely subverting them, unexpectedly humanize these majestic figures and bring them so close, in poems that drum their honest, brilliantly jiving yet humble beat inside of you: “the children of my children will transmit my vision in their own way.”
      —Francisco Goldman, author of Say Her Name and The Art of Political Murder



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.