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Jack Myers’ “What Comes Naturally?”

This poems just my mind spinning. When I read it for this first about eleven years ago, it did the same thing. This poem feels universal to me, if that’s possible.

   What Comes Naturally?

   I’ve never found anything easy.
   Even doing nothing tears me up.
   And just getting drunk disgusts me,
   so I drink again to forget.
   But I love the way the cool moon twirls
   in the exotic blackness of space –
   O tiny happiness of stars, I want a woman
   to make love to, even an imaginary woman,
   from whom my mind doesn’t veer away.

   I feel like a vestigial piece of heart
   that’s broken off and goes wandering the streets
   without pleasure. In this town the women and cops
   all laugh, which is why I don’t breathe when I’m near them.
   That’s another way I’ve discovered to stop thought.
   I don’t know what’s wrong with me,
   why things aren’t easy. I wake up thinking
   this could be a great day and the other half
   of me thinks No, this is a great day.
   But the rest of me knows it won’t be easy.

Myers, Jack. “What Comes Naturally?” I’m Amazed that You’re Still Singing. Berkeley: L’Epervier Press, 1981. Print.

This poem comes from a terrific collection of poem, which I think you can order here:



Redactions: Poetry, Poetics, & Prose 2014 Pushcart Nominations

Redactions: Poetry, Poetics, & Prose has made its nominations for the 2014 Pushcart Prize. The nominees this year are all poems. In the order of appearance in issue 18 are:

  1. Andrea Spofford’s “Tundra.” Page 8.
  2. Mary Stone Dockery’s “The Idea of Brad.” Page 23.
  3. Paul Allen’s “For the Spoken-Word Poet-Friend Who Drove up to Baton Rouge to Tell His Girlfriend to Get Lost and After 36 Hours of Both Crying, She Didn’t Get Lost, and He Was Glad.” Page 29.
  4. Robert Gibbons’s “Experience & Art.” Page 54.
  5. Ed Schelb’s “Portrait of Five Composers.” Pages 56-59.
  6. David Lloyd’s “What Remains.” Pages 70-71.

To read these poems, stories, and more, order a copy of issue 18 from here:

You can also read the Pushcart Prize nominated poems here:



F*ck This! I Quit…Kind Of: On Poetry, Contests, and Opportunity Cost by Les Kay

Concerned about poetry contests and their costs and other things, then read this article by Les Kay.

Then go here to find presses with open readings for full-length poetry manuscripts:

The Sundress Blog

Last December, I received an urgent text from my father: CALL ME. My father, like most fathers, normally reserves the use of brief text messages in ALL CAPS for important news or emergencies. Since he’s retired now, well into his 70s, and his wife has been diagnosed with terminal bladder cancer—a cancer that should have been caught much earlier and should have been curable with simple resection—I assumed the worse, something health-related and horrific.

When I phoned, my father told me about an advertisement he’d seen for a poetry contest, a Christian poetry contest with a small fee and cash prizes. Instead of counting my inevitable winnings, I imagine my brow furrowed as if I’d just heard the compensation package for an adjunct teaching position. I thought immediately of and similar scams, suspecting that if I were to enter such a contest, the only plausible response would be solicitation…

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Re-Visioning History: Lesson Plans for Incorporating The Cave into a Poetry Writing Workshop Course

The Cave is a long series of poems that examines not only the art of the Paleolithic era, but, more closely, it also focuses on the artists and the community of people from the Paleolithic era. It aims to understand how they thought and interacted with each other and the relationships they had with art, living, and death. It also explores origins, such as the origin of music, painting, sewing, burials, etc.

Obviously, you could structure a class or a set of classes on ekphrastic poetry, but there are other uncommon alternatives that The Cave could help students with, and one of those might be re-visioning history. Below are some ideas to help your class examine how history can be an inspiration for poems and as a creative way to reexamine history.

THE CAVE - the whole cover

Reimagine History

One function of The Cave is its examination of a time period that has not been creatively examined in order to understand that time period and to help us understand our current place in time. For this assignment, the student could reflect on any time period of interest to them and write a series of poems about that time period. Here, a focus will be necessary, such using as an imagined character, a famous person, or a known person but not too famous (such as one of King Henry VIII’s wives), or through the lens of an object or device (such as viewing history through the car, baseball, electricity, an art movement, etc.) If using a character, then one could even try writing dramatic monologue. For examples, see the opening poem “Paleolithic Person Explains Why He Paints in the Cave,” or “The First Potter’s Advice,” or many of the poems from the opening section of The Cave.

Create a History or Write Invention Poems

For this, a student looks at a historical moment that has never been examined or that has been under examined. Or, with the same strategy in mind, the student can write a poem about how a taken-for-granted item was invented. Here, the student can reference “The Needle,” “The Invention of the Doll,” “The Invention of the Ellipsis,” or any of the many invention poems in The Cave. For this, the student can write an invention poem or create a history for an event that needs one.

Bone Needle

Rewrite History

Here, the student takes on a period in history and rewrites it with a twist, such as King Henry VIII finds a happy marriage in his seventh wife (a wife who never existed). This could also be a good exercise for the student who wants to write a long poem.

Challenge the History in the Textbook

Cover of textbook on Western SocietyMartín Espada – “One of a poet’s duties is to challenge the official history.”

Using this prompt, a person could write a political poem that challenges the status quo of history. It might investigate the omissions of history or it might take on a character from a moment in history to reevaluate a politically charged time period. Here you might think of African, Latino, Asian, Native American, and immigrant poets who have insisted on a more complex telling or examination of American history.

From The Cave, you can consider how Holmes avoids the clichés of interpreting the cave paintings as magico-religious animating powers to facilitate a successful hunt. Instead, he reimagines why the painters painted so Holmes could better understand those painters, and so he could help us better understand humanity today, especially when it comes to the creative processes. The challenge for the student is to write a poem that connects the past with today, especially if it is political.


Examining history through a different lens (such as examining the origin of a common item or using a marginalized or new point of view) creates defamiliarization, which, of course, is a goal of writing. This defamiliarization then helps us make history present to us by forcing us to make associations and connections that we don’t do with the characters and objects that are already familiar to us and that have become empty of meaning.


The Cave by Tom Holmes
80 pp. paper $12.00
ISBN # 978-0-9883525-6-8

Available from
The Bitter Oleander Press
4983 Tall Oaks Drive
Fayetteville, NY 13066-9776
Small Press Distribution and

For more ideas on how to incorporate this book into your writing poetry workshop,
please contact the author from the Contact tab.


To download a PDF version of these lesson plans, click Lesson Plans for The Cave.//


Goodreads Book Giveaway — The Bottom by Betsy Andrews

Not sure if you want to do the contest, read my review here: You’ll know what to do because it’s a terrific book 🙂


To celebrate the release of Betsy Andrews newest book, we will be giving away 5 copies of  her book length poem The Bottom during the month of August on our Goodreads page.

Please follow us there and keep an eye out for more 42 Miles giveaways!

42 Miles Press on Goodreads!

If you are anxious to own a copy now and don’t want the thrill of trying to win a one. The Bottom (and all of our other great 42 Miles Press titles) is  available at SPD.

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BLESS: “Redactions 18” och “Blast 1”

Bear Books reviews BLAST 1 and Redactions 18 (a 100th anniversary tribute to BLAST). It’s in German, but your browser should be able to translate.


Redactions_18_fullcover_flat_tosize_96dpi_webRedactions: Poetry, Poetics, & Prose 18
Red. Tom Holmes
Prosared. M F Macpherson

BLAST 1 Review of the Great English Vortex
Red. Wyndham Lewis
Förord Paul Edwards
Gingko Press, 2009

Alla nya tidskrifter, kanske särskilt kulturtidskrifter, bär på ett drag av utopism. Och särskilt väl stämmer detta in på de många tidskrifter som sjösattes de första decennierna av 1900-talet och med kopplingar till olika frambrytande ismer. Mer tydligt förknippad med en specifik ism än andra är kanske Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957) kortlivade, men i flera avseenden revolutionerande tidskrift BLAST.

Man hyllade styrkan och kraften i det framväxande maskinsamhället, inte helt olikt futuristerna, och det här är en ganska bra sammanfattning av rörelsens ståndpunkt: “The New Vortex plunges to the heart of the Present, we produce a New Living Abstraction.”

I  december 1913 skrev Ezra Pound till kollegan William Carlos Williams och beskrev Londons litterära scen som “The Vortex.” Wyndham…

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Happy 25th Anniversary to RomComs

If you didn’t know, my friend (Susan Elliott Brown) and I are the founding editors of the recently founded RomComPom: A Journal of Romantic Comedy Poetry. Coincidentally, the modern RomCom was born 25 years ago. That’s good accidental timing on our part.


Over at Grantland, they are holding a Rom-Com Week, including this second article “The Rom-Com Hall of Fame: Champions and Challengers: Weighing the candidacies of the all-timers, the almost-weres, and the Heigls of the genre.” We hope that you are like us and will be following Grantland all week long.

The second article in the series begins:

It’s been 25 years since the birth of the modern romantic comedy. Beginning with When Harry Met Sally . . .  in 1989, the genre has become a launching pad for some actors and a refuge for others. In these movies we find predictable moments, heightened notions of love, and a lot of questionable outfits. And while the genre has morphed over the years, we’re still in love with rom-coms — so we’re celebrating them all week. Welcome to Rom-Com Week. Today, we look at the titanic figures of the modern rom-com and…

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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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