Archive for April, 2010


in pursuit of the juiciest wine: day two

Red GuitarAnd the tour began with a textbook POP as the cork was released from a bottle of Red Guitar Old Vine Tempranillo Garnacha 2007 from Navarra, Spain. It’s a blend of 55% Tempranillo and 45% Garnacha, and I think those are some of the juiciest grapes around. I shall see if this is true in Red Guitar, too.

Tonight is also the last night that my girlfriend and I will eat out or order out food for a month. I think tonight we will order out some Chinese food. But for now, it’s off to the tasting.

This wine is slightly transparent when held up to a white wall. It smells juicy and of alcohol . . .  lots of alcohol. A hint of pepper, too.  Oddly, it also has a hint of vomit in the nose, but it’s not unpleasant because there are some dark plums blooming in the background along with some sour cherries. The more I swirl in air, the more the plums and cherries surface and the vomit disappears.

I got this wine for a few reasons. I haven’t had it, it’s from Spain, it’s a Tempranillo and Garnacha blend, and it has a red guitar on the label. This added up to the embodiment of Spain to me, and I expected to taste a little bit of Federico Garcia Lorca in it. I just didn’t expect it to be Lorca’s poem “Landscape of a Vomiting Multitude.”

Okay. It’s been open for about a half-hour, and I’ve been swirling for about 10 minutes. The vomit is gone, or I’ve become accustomed to it. So here goes the first sip.

It’s quite smooth. It has a round body. On the front of the tongue, it’s juicy. On the back, it’s sour . . . sour cherries. I don’t taste the vomit. I do taste cloves and maybe nutmeg. Some type of spicy berry, as well.

It’s a bit juicy, but not juicy enough for this tour. I still like this wine somewhat. It is a good accompaniment to the saxophonist playing outside in the 75-degree calm evening on Main Street, Brockport.

It’s getting better and better as it opens, but it doesn’t open enough. I’d get Red Guitar again, maybe, but only because of the price.//


in pursuit of the juiciest wine: day one

Tres Picos Borsao Garnacha 2004

Tres Picos Borsao Garnacha 2004. One of the juiciest

I often go on my own imaginary week-long wine tours. For instance, one week I drank nothing but Washington state Merlots, because I think Washington makes the best Merlots. Another time I drank nothing but California wines. I had a hypothesis that all wines from California taste exactly as they should. For example, if you get a Californian Cabernet Sauvignon, it will taste exactly as a Cab should. My test proved that hypothesis to be sometimes correct.

Over the course of this week, I will try to find the juiciest wine.

I went to Marketview Liquors today because I also wanted to try wines I have not had. My favorite place to get wines in Monroe Country, NY, is at Mahan’s Liquors in Brockport. It’s has a great wine selection and a wonderful staff. I love it there. However, I have had every bottle of wine there that’s under $20, and often twice and some of them hundreds of time, like Red Diamond Merlot – my favorite everyday wine. Mmmm.

To start my tour this time, I also got a new corkscrew. It was time. The best corkscrews are the double-hinged corkscrews, sometimes referred to as a waiter’s corkscrew. They just work great. The one I got this time was the “Rabbit Barware 2-Step Waiters’ Corkscrew.” I haven’t used it yet, but I like the feel of the handle.

My tour will begin, most likely, on Saturday. Allons-y.//


Jim Coppoc’s Manhattan Beatitude, 1997

A version of the following review will appear in the next issue of Redactions: Poetry & Poetics.

Manhattan Beatitude, 1997The first words that popped into my mind when I opened Jim Coppoc’s Manhattan Beatitude, 1997 (One Small Bird P, 2009) were, “A graphic poem?!? That’s a cool idea.” Manhattan Beatitude, 1997 is a long, illustrated, 16-sectioned poem. The editor’s note hints that this is one of the first graphic poems, and I say, “Why not have a graphic poem amid the myriad of other literary and graphical forms? And if you are going to be innovative like that, then why not conjure up the ghost of Allen Ginsberg while you do it?”

I didn’t know this was going to be a poem about the area and happenings surrounding Ginsberg when he died. I didn’t know it would be, in part, a reminiscence of Ginsberg, but as soon as I started reading the poem, I could hear Ginsberg being invoked. One, at first, may hear Whitman, but the rhythms are Ginsberg’s. They echo his chant-like tones.

On one level, Manhattan Beatitude, 1997 is a rhythmic allusion to Ginsberg. I don’t hear rhythmic allusions that much anymore, and when I do, which is really rare, it’s only for a line or two, so it’s a pleasure to hear a well-performed rhythmic allusion. At times, there are also literary allusions, such as to “Kaddish,” and sometimes the literary and rhythmic allusions happen together, such as in one of the opening stanzas.

blessed streetlights hard filtered through the urban haze on the
faces of the club kids and closet freaks winding their way
through Washington Square Park waiting for a hit. blessed the
man in the surplus fatigues calling cannabis cannabis
   cannabis. blessed the hidden transactions, the knowing glances
of chessmen as they con the tourist fortune in five dollar
increments.                                   (p 3-4)

For part of that I hear line 2 of Howl:

dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking
for an angry fix

But don’t think this book is filled with allusions. It’s not. It’s much smarter and better than that. The allusions are generally rhythmical, and the literary ones are subtle, like the above mentioned. The allusions won’t get in the way, and you won’t miss anything if you don’t see or hear them. The poem works way beyond that, as it is really concerned with Manhattan Square Park at the time of Ginsberg’s death.

GeezerBy page six, despite the rhythms and subtle allusions, we are sure this book is surrounding Ginsberg and his death, which happens at the same time as when we are introduced to the well-made character Geezer. A full character, Geezer, is created in only two lines and a drawing. Before I forget, Amy Dixon’s artwork really enhances the tone of the poem, especially the muscular “Amen” on pages 22-23. (I hope no one minds the reprint of Geezer here.)

We can also learn something about lines, tension, and line breaks from this poem. Here’s part of section VIII:

1997. Princess Diana is dead.
B.I.G. is dead. William S
Burroughs is dead. Denise
Levertov is dead. Red
Skelton is Dead. Heaven’s
Gate are dead. Gianni
Versace is dead. Deng
Xiaoping is dead. Mother
Teresa is dead. James
Michener is dead. Mike
Royko is dead. Colonel
Tom Parker is dead. Anton
LaVey, the immortal, is
dead. James Dickey is
dead. Jaques Cousteau is
dead. William Brennan is
dead. My grandfather is

1997. Allen Ginsberg is dead.

The section starts with the most-noted death of 1997 – Princess Diana. The line is a simple sentence, a statement.  And then another simple sentence. Then the line break on “S”. The next line starts with “Burroughs,” and it starts hard. A hard first syllable. It slams hard, so does each last name in lines 3 through 13. The “dead” that falls in the middle of each of those lines acts as a pivot connecting the former person with the upcoming person. The breath after “dead” also causes a respite. A moment of prayer and a moment of hope – maybe the next mentioned person won’t be dead. But the next mentioned person is dead. Then the pattern is broken in line 13. There’s still that hope after the “dead” in line 12, which carries over to line 13 and it is sustained when we read “the immortal, is.” Look at that line break. All the preceding lines have “dead,” but here we get “the immortal” and the verb of life, “is,” but life is taken away on line 14’s “dead.” In this manner, each person in lines 13 through 18 is alive for a line – “James Dickey is” for one line alive, but after the line break, he is “dead.”  (Interesting with James Dickey because he once said something like “Death is the easy part. It’s the dying that’s hard.”)

The working with the “dead” in the different locations in the lines and how it affects the lines’ tensions and rhythms is successful in the immediate line-by-line use, and it also creates the somber tone in “1997. Allen Ginsberg is dead.” A tiny bit of that is set up by mentioning the dead grandfather, since that creates a universal association we can all relate to. And I think most people will relate to this long poem and enjoy it.

I’m happy Manhattan Beatitude, 1997 exists. We need more good-spirited Ginsbergian energies out there. We need more good long poems like this.//


review of Henri, Sophie, and the Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound

Some one was kind enough to write a review of my recent collection of poems, and it’s a fine review, too. The people at Small Press Review just released the review today.

You can read it here:

I hope you like the book, as well.//


Deborah Poe’s Elements

A version of the following review will appear in the next issue of Redactions: Poetry & Poetics.

Deborah Poe’s Elements (Stockport Flats, 2010) is all over the place in a good way. The lines in the poems are short, long, jagged, breath driven, faded, bolded, italicized, rectangular, and once are even laid out so you have to turn the book ninety degrees clockwise to read the poem. Yes, Elements is all over tha place just like the elements that make up the universe – and hooray for both, for the natural elements give us life and the book Elements explores that life.

Before I get to that exploration, a detour. I want to again write about how a poem’s lines move. Or as Poe says in “Ununbium (UUB)”

earthquake syntax of
language and the mind
self hypnosis in the nerve net

“Phosphorous (P)” is a good example of this, except the stanzas move the way I hope a line will move.

Phosphorus (P)


some minerals
give small flashes
of light when stroked
with a metal point


the glow of the ocean
also catches fire
spontaneously in air


calcium phosphate is a glow
of living structure and bone.


[That layout is quite close to the book’s layout, at least in my browser.]

The poem’s movement is quite similar to a haiku’s movement if you think of each section as a line in a haiku. There’s an image in the first section, the leap to another image is in the second section, and then the  haiku leap jumping with sensation into the third section. The third section, like the third line in a haiku, immediately makes connections that seem foreign yet sensical. Also, the syntax, if that is the correct word, changes. The first section works with the actions of “minerals” with “give,” “flashes,” and “stroked.”  The section also has an action as “the glow of the ocean” “catches fire” – the action being catches fire. The action, the something doing, is the parallel that holds those two sections together during the leap. (The leap from line 1 to line 2 in a haiku still has a connecting element in the lines, and in this poem, the connecting element for sections 1 and 2 is that there is an action, not to mention the long Os.) But the third section is a statement, a definition. It’s also a big leap. The poem moves like image math – (image 1) + (image 2) = (image 3); however, image 3 is unexpected and larger than the sum of the images.

As mentioned, the poems in Elements explore life. In addition, the strongest poems are the ones that connect to something other or human, such as: the myth of  the creation of the Cascade Mountains and the Puget Sound in the “Magnesium (Mg), or Basalt” poem; an origin of alchemy in the “Silver (Ag)” poem; or homelessness in the “Niobium (Nb)” poem. In fact, in “Niobium (Nb),” the poem begins by subtly evoking the death of Niobe from Greek mythology. Niobium, which is a new earth mineral, gets its name from Niobe, and many of the poems evoke the origin of the element’s name while also connecting to something or other.

 Another example of a poem connecting to something human occurs in “Copper (Cu),” which is the poem that you have to turn the book ninety degrees clockwise to read. In this poem, copper is used as symbol of the labor movement. In this case, a parallel is drawn with the IWW member Frank Little, who was lynched for defending the rights of the copper mine workers in Butte, Montana, in 1917, and whose lynch mob pinned a sign to him that read, “Others take notice. First and last warning. 3-7-77. L. D. C. S. S. W. T.” (He’s also the same Frank Little who was once arrested for reading The Declaration of Independence on a street corner.) This poem also sings with the voices of Allen Ginsberg and Ed Sanders – a chant moving down the page like a labor movement in a march for its rights.

Elements is a smart collection of poems that act as a:

a closer experience
with the geological body


The Cave (Winner of The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award for 2013.)

The Cave

Poems for an Empty Church

Poems for an Empty Church

The Oldest Stone in the World

The Oldest Stone in the Wolrd

Henri, Sophie, & The Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound: Poems Blasted from the Vortex

Henri, Sophie, & The Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound: Poems Blasted from the Vortex

Pre-Dew Poems

Pre-Dew Poems

Negative Time

Negative Time

After Malagueña

After Malagueña

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