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Are you a natural empire builder?

“If you call perpetually failing a trait.” Sampson Starkweather said that. I think empire builder is a bit much, but I’d say I’m maybe the antithesis of that; I like to play a role of political absentmindedness then unexpectedly turn around and slay my enemy to show that I’m “in the know” about something but I don’t want to occupy it’s center. I like to watch the politics of the literary community play out but I really want nothing to do with it. I think the poetry is really what matters, and like old empires, religion was really at the core of matters but so often personal relationships manifest themselves and egos take hold in such a way where the vision gets lost. I hope to never obscure that poetry is what’s important.

Is Land

By Paige Taggart

Poem

a bridge with a car driving over it
the car driving onto a boat
the boat carries the car across the mainland onto the island
where the little houses live
the little houses you can drive to but only if your car goes
on a ferry across the water
the mainland has more people than the is÷≥land

Lord of your wasteland.
Lord of what you dream
to subjugate—

this way to the mound
where you bury your dead.

Behind these canyons,
your bone yard sullies
the gloom of loam.

Stream

By Susan Dickman

Poem

There are, naturally, feelings that one cannot render.
Degas

And their hearts, through not clinging, were liberated from taints.
Typical ending for the early Buddha stories

 
Begun as mountains of ice and tundra gathering force
at the top of the range, Sierras move north
and south over eons, pulling glaciers, tarring
everything in their path.

The precious-jeweled twigs of trees
in the rain, forgotten lipstick tube
on the glittering tar and granite curb, moss-covered bark
of tree trunks leading to pools of water
collected at their bases
in the bare-trimmed winter grass, early spring.

d with d

Poetry is a throwback to a time when music was only a rumor; isn’t even love different than it was 20 years ago?

It’s like music composed of memories, or like if memories were chords, or remembering chords in place of people, in place of places, names instead of corpses instead of faces. Nobody worries too much because it just sounds right.

 

Full-length albums are one of the few stable footholds for the past, so the act of piracy is literally saving the dead?

I mean, steal your grandparents, steal your whole culture. I used to be a student—perhaps we all were—but, after a time, there were no more students; everyone was too magnificent for sitting in classrooms pretending to learn things. Now, everyone reads books and no one has time for war. Everyone watches movies all day, sings along, makes murals that encompass whole city blocks.

 

Money Poem

By Donald Dunbar

Poem

after James Gendron

        Money is an extrovert. Money is social, sociopathic. Money is important in many games, but less so in children’s games,
        and can be used in sex games, as when I paid my girlfriend for sex and she said, acting, “Money gets me wet.” Money gets wet;

        if money floats, it floats only for a minute. Money has been made into shelter, into clothing, cooked into food:
        it tastes like butter, fuzz, or blood. Money for beer? Money is power. Money is quiet. Money electronic.

On a tailgater and challenge by R. S. Gwynn who said, “Is there a Miltonelle in your future? I hope not!”

Of man’s first disobedience and the fruit
Of man’s first disobedience, its fruit:
God’s ways ain’t for this homeboy to dispute.

That angels tumbled from the fluffy clouds,
From inky darkness and from fluffy clouds
And led to disobedience and its fruit;

For Jamie Moore

I have to believe even your death was graceful.
That you lifted yourself into the backseat
effortlessly as your feet in first position raised onto pointe,
toes careful not to disturb the gear set in park.
That you crawled over the empty prescription bottles
to enter the trunk through the rear, folded yourself there,
wrapped your body around the blackness like a partner
who made you weightless in that perfect last ascent
before the stage went dark, before the curtain dropped.

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So how long have you been writing?

Since kindergarten. isn’t that when everyone learns how to write?

 

No, I’m sorry, I meant….you know, creative writing. Like what’s in your new book.

How do you know about my book?

 

My friend Rich told me about it. Is it any good?

That’s a strange question. Like if I told you I saw a car accident on my way here today, and then you asked me: was it any good? I wouldn’t know what you meant, you know?

In the eyes of the corpses
bitten by crows.
In the smiles of generals
sending flowers
sending flowers….
on the butcher’s apron,
where the blood makes patterns
like beautiful constellations.

&c.

By Thea Goodrich

Poem

is what I would ink on my wrist
if I had the nerve for etching
(or more precisely, permanently,
no nerves in me at all).

my left wrist, probably, and askew,
the notch between bowl and stem
of and per se and as the arrowhead
at the delta of a ghost-blue thread.

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I don’t know how to do a self-interview so instead I asked my girlfriend, the poet Jeannette Gomes to interview me as a stand-in for myself.

JEANNETTE: Hi Russ, could you describe for me how your book came about and the emotional landscape it encompasses in your heart?

RUSS: Sure. So this book started from a little tour chapbook I was making for a weeklong tour I was going to do in 2012. I made a PDF version and posted the cover art on Facebook and got a message from James Tadd Adcox, who was at the time editor of Artifice Magazine, and a friend of mine. He asked if he could see the PDF version of the chap, and I said “sure” and sent it over, not thinking much about it. He emailed me later and told me he really loved it, and that Artifice was starting a book arm of their operation and he said, if I was interested, that he wanted to publish the chapbook along with some of my other poems as a book. The cover the book has now is actually the same cover I made for the original chap. Anyway, the book went through many, many edits and many rewrites since then. I think only a handful of the original poems are still in there, actually.

We were sitting in a cafe, by the window, and you were trying to tell me something, but I was distracted, watching a road construction crew across the street. He has been in intensive care for the past week, you said. The men in their orange vests had taken cables from their truck. They attached it to something in a manhole. I want to visit him soon. I think we both should go. I stirred my coffee idly. The men began to haul an anaconda the size of a tree trunk out of the sewer. Do you think that’s a good idea, you said. Sure, I said, as the men coiled up the anaconda and put it in a second truck that had arrived. You don’t think anyone will wonder what our motives are? The men got the snake in the truck. It seemed to be dead, or possibly tranquilized.

when i want you

the thought of you
washes over me

if i open my mouth
                i will drown—
blue in the face
when i’m pulled up
                like a fish

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Does it feel weird having an imaginary tea party interview with yourself?

Yes, yes it does.

 

What type of house did you live in, architecturally?

I grew up in too many houses (houses, apartments, a camper van). Some were broken, but the first one wasn’t. It had a round turquoise pool, and rose gardens everywhere.

Oh, architecturally? Shit! Ah, the first one was a white plaster house, wood framed, residential. We kept pickles and wine in the cellar. Or maybe the pickles and wine were in our neighbours cellar? No matter.