Posts Tagged ‘Lift Bridge Books

03
Sep
11

Poems for an Empty Church Has Been Released

If you believe in God or don’t believe in god, if you have a religion or need a religion, if you’re empty or spiritually full, Poems for an Empty Church will speak to you and help you experience the Other.

Poems for an Empty Church front cover

Poems for an Empty Church (from Palettes & Quills) is now on sale at Amazon here. Soon it will be available at other book stores including Lift Bridge Book Shop in the heart of downtown Brockport, NY.

Here’s what people are saying about it:

Of course, no church is ever really empty unless people let ritual and myth lapse into repetition and dogma. Even then it isn’t empty, just empty of awe. That’s when origin stories are most necessary, and that’s what Tom Holmes provides in abundance: Moons create amazement, then stones create reflection, then people come along creating words, aggression, fire, flutes, art, physics, and probably our destruction, everything progressing ’til it returns full circle. Along the way, “statues pry themselves from sides of buildings / and exit the city / clutching their plaques.” Along the way, a lot of fine poems unfold, one containing a curse: “you have succeeded / in being only what you thought / you should be.” It’s a curse because we ought to be more. In a century in need of a giant do-over, Poems for an Empty Church reminds us of that. Even better, it makes a good lever or spark.

– Rob Carney, author of Story Problems, Weather Report, and Boasts, Toasts, and Ghosts

In Poems for an Empty Church, Tom Holmes writes of birth and death and the life we live in between those two events in beautifully sculpted lines carved into the white space that surrounds them. “I dare say I can hear / muddy angels singing /the lines of God,” he writes in “The Calculus of a Tod Marshall Book of Poems.” There are plenty of angels in Tom Holmes’ poems too, but one must be still enough to hear and appreciate the whisk of wings hovering over these powerful meditations.

– Sarah Freligh, author of Sort of Gone

I think of Charles Olsen when I read Tom Holmes’ poems: open, investigative, prophetic, often with mystical implications. These are the elements of our best modernist poems, and Holmes is a modernist – or a pre-modernist, or a post-pre-modernist. And there lies the real interesting part of his poems, they are hard to fit into anyone anywhere. He sits us in an empty church and says listen. He knows “it was the moons talked first.” He knows the dreams we dream even when “we wheeze / asleep in our boxes of shadows.” In these poems and parables is our collective of fire and nightfall, origins and endings, monochromatics, rivers, and stretch marks. Sappho makes a rare presence, but this is a book more stone-carved than page-written and she too is an ancient muse. As this author’s I is an absent eye, scanning the world of caves and shadows to find clouds who feed themselves, ghosts like alphabets, and men who whittle bones into flutes.

– Sean Thomas Dougherty, author of Sasha Sings the Laundry on the Line and Broken Hallelujahs

This book is dedicated to Rob Carney, William Heyen, and W. S. Merwin. Without them, this book could never have come into being. They have affected my poetry profoundly, which is evident in this book.

I began writing Poems for an Empty Church back in 1989 or 1990. I didn’t know that at the time, but the oldest poem in the book, “Three Voices of Creation,” was begun back then.  I then worked on it for 17 more years. Twenty-one or twenty-two years if you count some tiny edits I made before the book went to the printer.

The majority of the book, however, was written around 2005 and 2007 when Merwin’s sans-punctuation imagination and tonalities were in me along with Rob Carney’s mythic imagination and tonalities. This book is built from the mythic imagination, tonalities, long vowel sounds, and, to my surprise when I read it again for the first time in two years just before it went to publication, harmonic tonalities. But mostly, it’s in a simple language. A language of what I call The Language of Last Call. That is the language that people are using shortly before a bar closes. When you use a language that is most close and most honest to you. A language that is void of the pedantic and impressive. It’s a language of communication and images. And it’s clear.

Here’s the opening poem:

     Twelve Years with Heyen’s “The Poem is Smarter Than You”
        For William Heyen

     I know what this poem means
     I know everything about it
     I know why the oak is in the poem
     to evoke sturdiness longevity & tone
     The poem is smarter than you

     I know this poem in part
     is meaning to talk
     about the expensive oak desk
     & how it was made
     a symbol of civilization
     The poem is smarter than you

     I think the oak poem
     I will write will speak
     of a forest being clear cut
     The poem is smarter than you

     Dear Poem what do you need
     I can’t see from staring at you
     my imagination is not
     connecting to you or the oak
     The poem is separate from you

     Dear writer remove time
     from your poem then space
     then see where you stand
     see where the oak walks
     or has walked or if it will move
     The poem is separate from you

     There is nothing here
     but an old movie projector
     with an absent light bulb
     & now a star whose light
     has not yet arrived
     What are you hinting
     The poem is smarter than you

     Poem you’ve turned your back
     to me you’re walking without me
     you’ve stolen my pencil
     The poem is smarter than you

     Dear Poem I’m tired of this
     thinking I’ve lowered my hands
     I’ve stopped my attempt to write
     What do you want

     That surrender & your ego 
     clear cut from the page 
     & a mountain for me to stand on 
     & a sunrise for my shadow 
     which you will trace 
     listening to night’s echoes 
     I am smarter than you 
     Nature is smarter than me

This is like the opening door poem. The book really begins with the first section “Beginnings,” when the other poems become more grounded, more body- and soul-centric, and able to fill, live, and resonate within an empty church. //

10
Aug
11

in pursuit of the juiciest wine: day ninety-nine (Two Hands Angel’s Share Shiraz 2008)

I got this bottle of Two Hands Angel’s Share Shiraz 2008 back in April, which you can read about here, and tonight is the night I’m going to drink the Angel’s Share. What is the angel’s share, and why am I drinking it tonight? The angel’s share is the portion of wine that evaporates from the barrel during fermintation. It’s the portion of wine that goes straight to the angels. It’s for them and them only, but perhaps they save it for us, so they can drink it with us when we get to heaven.

What if the angels don’t drink
their shares at all,
but instead save them,
so that later,
when we check in,
or perhaps at judgement day,
we’ll find samples
of all the wines and all
the days, all the lost
friendships, everything
we thought had evaporated away,
lined up and displayed,
not as an appreciation
or a rebuke,
but simple a testament,
to what we tried to make
with our lives.

– Joseph Mills. “Some Questions about the Drinking Habits of Angels.” Angels, Thieves, and Winemakers. Winston-Salem, NC: Press 53, 2008.

(By the way, I’m plugging this book again. It’s fun. If you like poetry and wine, you’ll like this book. If you don’t like poetry and only like wine, you’ll like this book. If you don’t like wine, why are you here?!)

So why am I drinking it tonight? Because I wonder about these angels. I wonder about god. I wonder about the universe. But mainly because my newest collection of poems, Poems for an Empty Church (Palettes & Quills) is going to the printer in a day or two.

Poems for an Empty Church full cover

Click the cover to see it better and read some blurbs.

It’s my newest because it will the newest collection published, but my other collection, Henri, Sophie, & The Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound: Poems Blasted from the Vortex has newer poems.

Poems for an Empty Church was completed in 2007ish, but it began in 1989ish, maybe 1988. There’s one poem in there, “The Three Voices of Creation,” that took 17 years to write, and if you count some edits I made to it the other day, then it took 22 or 23 years to write. (You can read it here: pages 40-42.) That also may have been the first poem I read aloud to a crowd. I read it at the Autumn Cafe, a wonderful little restaurant in Oneonta. I went to the restaurant by myself. (I didn’t really know any poets then. I didn’t even really know if I was one.) I signed up. I read it. I read it well. An older couple loved it. They said they hadn’t heard anything like that in years. I was too shy and nervous to respond well. Now that I think about it, I may have only read the first section. The other two sections may not have been written yet. One version of this poem was also turned into a play. Actually, I tried on two different occasions to make it play. The second time I did it I forgot about the first time I tried to make it a play. I’m just remembering this now.

So anyway, I do freelance work for Donna M. Marbach, who runs, edits, and owns Palettes & Quills. I helped market and advertise her poetry chapbook contest with judge Dorianne Laux. I did the layout and design for Michael Meyerhofer’s Pure Elysium. And I helped with the marketing and advertising for Pure Elysium. During this whole process, I half jokingly and 80 percent seriously suggested to Donna that she should publish my book. I told her all the poems had been published in journals and I had the perfect cover art for it, Brian Warner’s “The Kiss.” (From the About the Artist section in the book:

“The Kiss” was inspired by the Tom Holmes’ poem “Death Has His Say.” The poem “There are some places you can’t find God” is, in turn, a response to the “The Kiss.”

“There are some places you can’t find God” is the concluding poem to the book.) Anyway, Donna eventually, after releasing Michael’s book and reading my book, said she would like to publish my book but I had to do the layout and design. Cool by me. I can make the book perfect and exactly like I want it. Who’s going to respect how my poems should appear on a page more than me? No one. I think I’m awesome at laying out a book of poems. When you layout a book of poems, you need a poet to do it. No one else can get it. I love layout and design, and I’m happy I got to layout my book.

So after Donna finishes editing the book, it’s good to go. There’s hardly anything to find. I’ve been working on this for years, editors at other journals have seen the poems, my girlfriend gave it a good read, I gave it another good read. In fact, when I read it again, for the first time in about two or three years since I last looked at it, I realized how tight this book is. How poems from across the book talk to each other. How ideas travel through the book, and images, too. Objectively, it’s a pretty solid book. It surprised me. I was engaged. I think you’ll like it to. When it comes out in September, I’ll let you know. It will be on sale on Amazon, Lift Bridge Books, and other book stores.

Enough of that. I could go on for quite some time about this book. Needless to say, if you believe in God or don’t believe in god, if you have a religion or need a religion, if you’re empty or spiritually full, Poems for an Empty Church will speak to you and help you experience the Other.

Two Hands Shiraz Angel's Share Shiraz 2008To the wine. This is not the one that is number two on The Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of 2010, which I’ve had and is delicious. I suspect this won’t be as good, but that it will be good. However, the Wine Spectator gave this one 86 points, which doesn’t make this seem promising, but it better be since I spend $30 or so on it.

This is a dark, dark maroon colored wine. The nose is meaty, smoky, thick, and with mushrooms. I want to eat it. My girlfriend picks up the spices from Shake N Bake. I haven’t had Shake N Bake since the early 80s, so I don’t know what those spices are.

Wow that was weird. It was almost fizzy for a second.

It doesn’t taste as it smells or as good, but it’s big and tasty. It’s juicy on the front of the mouth and shortly after the finish. The finish is also of grapes. Like grape jam. It’s jammy.

I also pick up some chocolate and plums. And I also get hints of spice, especially on the finish.

My girlfriend picks up chicken and cranberry and says it is thick on the finish – it coats the back of the throat.

I asked my girlfriend how much she’d pay for a bottle of this, as she didn’t know the actual price, and she said, “$8. It’s not that extraordinary.” She’s right. It’s not extraordinary, but I’d pay $15 for this, but not $30 again.

This will go good with pasta, chicken, pizza, and steak and hamburgers and a peanut butter jelly sandwich.

So what do I say about this wine. I say it’s definitely an 88 or a B, but you can find better for half the cost, or hold it for a few years.//




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

Enter your email address to subscribe to The Line Break and receive email notifications of new posts.

Join 2,493 other followers

November 2019
M T W T F S S
« Jul    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930  

Archives

The Line Break Tweets


%d bloggers like this: