5.2: breached surfaces | Richard Wayne Horton — poetry, flash fiction, & hybrid proseforms

Richard Wayne Horton: paste-paper design endleaf stock, mixed media 13 1/2 inches x 11 inches ©2022

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5.2: breached surfaces | Richard Wayne Horton — poetry, flash fiction, & hybrid proseforms

 

 

Richard Wayne Horton:
paste-paper design
13 1/2 inches x 11 inches
©2022

 

new poetry:

WALKING TO DALLAS (unpublished chapbook)

OUTSIDE  DALLAS
At the horizon rooftops
Jitter angles angels
On noisy wheels of light
Oh sweet arrival
Play backwards gospel
Racket and roll
I found this map in an attic
From the window I looked down
At the road drilled by cars
And beyond its metal blood
The long low ups and downs
Of grass, the more and the less
Till pink and blue house boxes
Rode the wave of the hill
Above dinosaur bones

At roadside I hop a fence
And heel down the slope
To a creek     crack     cut
In grass-natural as dragonflies
Flick here and are gone
I walk among bleach trinkets while
Green-eyed water argues routes

INSIDE  DALLAS
Drainage tunnels
Beneath the concrete utopia
Whisper forever

It’s older here
I crawl into a side-tunnel
That squeezes my ribs
Till I reach light
Beneath an iron grating at curbside
Dogs bark     A ball bounces
A car rushes by, its radio spilling AM
“…drivin me outa my miiiiind…”
I go back, worm-ooch
To the bigger tunnel
Follow it to the opening at the creek
Crawl out to walk along limestone shelves
Watch out     Watch for surfaces
Water     Air     Wall     Wallop
I look up at empty skies
They’re an invasion route
A 7-mile high flash silver cumulus
Comes walking on threads of rain
What have I called?

Two     Inside, outside     Terror
If I am both
What I see is as much me
As my bones
I did not make Dallas  up
I am Dallas
If I am both of two
I fall into the earth
Walk
Carefully
On water     On air
On nothing

 

NARTHEX

In the narthex   I see
White steps to the choir loft
As the churchdoor coasts closed
And shut off the ratchet
Of earth movers
In  the housing development nearby
The pop of hammers
Chalk dust rising     whine of a saw
I enter the cool dark kissed
At the door by holy water
Behold the nave     the cave
Cave canem     beware the god
The votive candle pleromas
Dispute precedence     each
More lonely     more only
Than the others
Who are all pretenders

Knee on the kneeler

Earlier I walked
A mile and a half
To buy a 49-cent paperback
On the cover     Raskolnikov
Smoke darkened ikon of a murderer
I’ve killed the place I’m going
But will still go
And dare it
©2021

 

STICKS & BONES (Meat For Tea Press, 2017)

SAD  FOOD

I walk through the carpeted living room with its dusty closed blinds and Dad’s desk pushed against the window trapping the blinds that can’t open now when you pull their strings. The lamp with a bad posture looks over insurance ledgers.

There’s a heavy wet smell of heated canned corn and canned spinach. Pork chops have been hurt badly. The food is in its final stages now, the corn glistening in a pool of pale yellow juice from the can, which is in the trash, already thrown away. The spinach is a lonely wet pile with the pork chop bone poking it grotesquely.

Ha!  Ha!  Ha!  From the TV den, dad raring back laughing so hard it gets his cigarette cough going. Kah! Kah! Hand on his mouth, forehead bunched.

Mom inserts a potato chip in her mouth and the mouth mashes down, moves from side to side as the chip is crushed and macerated. A wave travels down her throat as she swallows. Her eyes stare like those of a doll. On the TV, a red nosed clown walks into a pole.

I sit down to eat. My face, a pimpled harvest moon, hangs over the plate. The food wonders if I’ll abandon it. The trash can is an approaching open mouth.

There’s a dog at my feet, whimpering, peeing in ecstacy, its tail beating the floor. I drop my hand to its ears, and it goes insane with joy.

I’ve given this account of things to my high school counsellor, who remarks in amazement, “These confessions are a cry in the dark! This is it! The lode! So long I’ve wanted to save you, and now, boy, you’ve come clean!”

On the way home, the school bus crashes. I don’t know if I should include that in this essay.

 

ILLNESS  OF  THE  PIONEERS

Doctors assign the name “schistic rigor” to the condition of a settler, a Missourian perhaps, who experiences the misfortune of hearing a joke.

The first symptom is “okurancy”:

the settler eyes the joker, amazed at the pretentiousness of speech itself. He is already doomed. The joke has settled in his blood.

The second symptom is “translation,” usually manifested as animal torture.

The settler, with mouth awry and eyes starting from his head, seizes some heretofore favored pet, visits some unspeakable torment upon it, and proceeds to the next stage of his illness, rigor itself, accompanied by gustatory schisis, popularly known as laughter.

The horrified family drags the returning breadwinner from the wagon, binds him to a kitchen chair, and applies caustic poultices, until his symptoms abate.

It is expected that he will then try to infect his family by retelling the joke. They begin loudly singing hymns while holding their ears.

Hard as it is to believe,

“joking saloons” have recently been established

in some towns.

 

ARTISTS IN THE UNDERWORLD (Human Error Publishing, 2019)

SUPPOSE

“Your granddaddy is a fussy, snooty man. He didn’t want your mama marrying your daddy back in nineteen hundred forty three. They all lived in a big mansion in town and we were trash to them.”

“The Big House?”

“Yealt! I had come up with your mama from San Antone where your daddy had met her at the Air Force commissary.

Your granddaddy didn’t even want to let us in the door. Your mama was 17 and had already been married and divorced once. They were Catholic so to them that meant she was ruined.

“We had walked from the bus station downtown and we were tired. The old man stuck his head out the door and said every blamed room in the house was taken by your aunts and uncles who were still teenagers  living at home.

“While he was holding the screen door open, talking, I took my taped up suitcase and turned around and started walking past the bird bath in the front yard toward the curb,

“And that made him shout, ‘Here, now! Here, now! You just come on back hyah! We’ll put you up somehow! Where did you think you were going?’

“So there he was yelling at us.

“And all the Hunts, you know, have persimmon mouths, pressed together and turned down. Even when they smile, it looks bitter.

“So there we were, moved into the house, but they didn’t like it.

“When we took a bath later that first night, Mammaw told us not to run more than an inch of water in the tub, and both of us try to clean up in that. All the kids bathed that way, to keep the water bill down.

“Your daddy wasn’t due home on leave for another week and all during that time the Hunts tried to convert your mama so the Church would let her marry a Catholic, but she wouldn’t convert.

“The old man said he wouldn’t mind if we cleaned the house a little bit while we were just sittn’ around wait’n, but he found fault with everything I did.

“Now listen here! I cleaned house for rich bastards all through the nineteen thirties when your mama had to live in an orphanage because as hard as I worked,

“I couldn’t feed my kids.

“One day your dad walked up the front walk in his uniform,
carrying a duffel bag. The next day at the church the priest refused to do the marriage.

“Immediately the Hunts jumped on us and yelled, ‘No! No! No! Don’t get a civil marriage without God!’ But the courthouse is exactly where your mama took your daddy.

“They had to walk there because the old man wouldn’t let them use the car. They came home married and the Hunts gave them goggly frog eyes and made persimmon mouths.

“At the end of the week your daddy had to report back for duty, and your mama and I were forced to stay with the Hunts for the rest of the war.

“I wish

“we could have gone overseas and got shot instead.

“Now just suppose…

“That a forty-one year old woman whose blond hair had turned brown, on its way to turning gray,

“Should decide one day to go sit on a park bench with a good view of the street, and should wait there

“’Till she saw an expensive but very old car come poking along ten miles under the speed limit because the prissy 45 year old man driving it didn’t want to waste gas.

“Suppose that when she saw this car,

“The woman opened her purse and took out a pistol,

“Then waited till the car slowww-ly turned the corner,

“Then pointed the gun at the back window, and shot a hole in it,

“Then watched

“As the car pulled caaaarefully over to the curb and parked, observing all the parking regulations.

“Wouldn’t that be a fine way

for a forty one year old WORKIN  WOMAN…

“To spend her lunch break?”

 

DREAM  IN  WHICH  QUEENIE  THE  DOG GOES  COMMUNIST

Note to dog lovers: Queenie the dog recovered from the dog bites she got from Bet, the other dog. She didn’t become a Communist. Now quit thinking that. Dreams are dreams.

The man on the radio in the living room sounds scared, trying to talk quiet like he’s in hiding. His words come like pebbles against a window.

“The Reds have almost got us now. They’re everywhere.

“They’re walking into your living room right now, looking at the sign on the wall that says God Bless This Happy

Home and reaching for it to rip it down and stomp it with jack boots.

“Communists…

“They’re sick with rage, mad, rabid.

“Rabid dogs, that’s what they are!

“They’re here!

“They arrived in the night while you slept. They came on transport trucks. Mad dogs!

“They could be anyone.

“Your neighbors could have turned in the night and decided to greet the dawn as Communists!”

Robby’s sitting in the living room at David’s house. The spring on the screen door came loose and the door hangs open. Chickens walk around outside worrying the hot red dust, scratching and pecking. Edna, David’s mama is in the kitchen making biscuits.

David walks in the door with the .22.

“I almost got that rabbit, but he hopped just as I was shootn!”

He falls on the other couch.

“Whoo, it’s hot! Look at Queenie! She’s so hot she’s about to fall over! Here, Queenie! Here, girl!”

Robby looks at the doorway where Queenie has just struggled in. A second look. Queenie isn’t right. She stands swaying and red-eyed next to the screen door, strings of saliva dripping from her mouth.

The radio guy says, “A new day!

“A new day…

“As a Communist!”

Queenie ignores David, her old master, and takes a trembling step toward Robby, falls over, gets up. The red meat of her right hind leg is exposed. She’s too giddy to lick it, and parasites have come, maggots, come to suck the sweet tit of decadence. As she sways and stumbles toward him, he climbs up and perches on top of the couch back. She moves closer.

The radio guy says, “They move in…

“For a meaningful discussion.

“That’s what they say it is. ‘Just a meaningful discussion, pal!’

In the kitchen, Edna pulls down the oven door. The biscuits look up at her,

Waiting for instructions.

 

 

BALLET FOR MURDERERS (2021, Human Error Publishing, 2021)

 

THE  MURDERER  MEETS  THE  TERRIBLE  CHILD

The murderer has outwitted his pursuers. He sits on a gravestone as the sun rises one more time over the cemetery.

He starts hearing a voice nearby. There’s a kid out there messing around among the stones, talking to himself.

“My parents are being good today. They came out earlier to watch me. I told them the conditions were right. But they only shrugged.

“I have special gifts!

“I can push subtly upward and float above the grass between the stones. You stones! See how I surmount you? Now I permit myself to drift to earth. I don’t have to, but I choose it. I’ll walk to the house and climb the steps just as a normal child would do.”

The Murderer listens. The kid makes a quiet ratcheting sound. The Murderer thinks it might be laughter.

“I will impress my parents. See? I’m stepping off the top step and floating outward continuing to make walking motions. Hah! Steps are not for me!

“My parents–what are they doing? They’re walking back into the house!

“IS THAT HOUSE BETTER THAN ME? IT IS A GRAVE, DO YOU HEAR?

“They’re gone now, but still I hang in the air. They can’t stop me! Slowly I rotate forward. Rotate. Revolve. Revolution. The rule of revolution is that you cannot look into the sky when it is below you,

“Or it will become hungry.

“You’re still here. You don’t ignore me as my parents do. Come with me. I’ll show you something. Oh, I’m so excited!

“Now we’re on a hill. Look where I’m pointing! A panorama! There are fields over there full of wheat. Take my hand.

We step from the hilltop and now we’re flying!

“As long as you clutch some part of me, you won’t fall to your death.

“You didn’t know that, did you?

“Let’s play a game! What if I were to become like a cloud and start to dissolve?

“Yes, hold on tighter. I like that we’re better friends now.

“We’re passing over the wheat, very low. I brush my hand against it. See? Like that! Now I will show you an orchard.

Do you like peaches and apples? We will drift among the trees. Try to pick an apple! I can!

“What have you done? You’re clinging to that tree! You’ve broken contact! Now you’ll miss it! You look silly back there hugging a branch. Good-bye. You were a bad friend, and now you won’t get to go over the cliff with me.

“Now I’m going over the cliff!

“There is a deep blue space below. If I were a normal child I would be afraid. Being afraid might be fun. But it’s not for me.

“The expanding shape below is fascinating. Now I see the sparkle of the waves. Oh, look! Rocks! I’ll stop just short of them and begin slowly

“To rise.

“I wonder what it would feel like if I were to swallow the earth.

“Hello there, you walking on the beach. Should I swallow it? No?

“Hm.

“I’ll rise now and go home. I had a conversation! Oh, I’m so sociable!

“Here I am again at the orchard. The wanderer’s return. Look who I’ve found! You’re still here, bad friend!

“You used to be a murderer.

“If you knew all the things I’ve been, you would be impressed.

“I know where there’s a path to lower places. Come with me. This is fun! Come on!

“I will allow no more disobedience!

“I must say, for a murderer, you’re awfully frightened.”

 

IN  THE  LOWER  PLACES

Now, reader, you will hear with surprise an account of the Murderer’s progress in the lower places where his guide, the Terrible Child, impresses him with his special abilities to pass through stone or metal walls by merely leaning against them till they submit.

Also through fires do the two souls venture,
unconsumed.

They come at length to a chamber where ardants, or eyes, or little flames innumerable,
circle in a gallery. Or perhaps their circling itself is the gallery.

Or perhaps there is no gallery.

The Terrible Child remarks, “I have joined their rout at times and made to eat them, but they had no taste or meaning.”

At that, the Murderer says, “I will go to them.”

The Terrible Child says, “Take my hand then.”

They rise and join the rout, the Terrible Child indifferent but the Murderer possessed, for the ardants are portals.

They are souls. They are love. They are knowledge. They are eyes.

They have found him.

He has found his downfall.

Eternal love for what he has killed.

Ballet for Murderers by Richard Wayne Horton

 

writer statement:

My recent direction has been toward shorter proseforms with strongly focused speech dynamics.
Most of the poems in the my new, unpublished chapbook, WALKING TO DALLAS, are a reimagining and reframing of two long Dallas poems that I’ve been composing since the 1960s. I’ve published transitional versions of these two root poems, but the first and last poems in the chapbook featured in diaphanous micro 5.2 are newly created. The second poem, also featured above, imports some lines from its root poem, but is substantially expanded.

My first chapbook, STICKS & BONES, serves as an introduction to the genres and moods I’ve explored since the 1970s, which are often dark or absurdly funny. From the first, I played opposites–rich resonance achieved with the sparest of language. My work has become increasingly short, not as a goal in itself, but because explanatory prose is an unwanted invasion. When I stopped using it, the voice took over and the important parts of the piece moved forward.

ARTISTS IN THE UNDERWORLD, my second book, is essentially two books. The first, ARTISTS…etc., is a set of published dark genre short stories.  I think they’re kickin’, but the second book, A LONG MOMENT IN THE SOUTH, is what interests me more. The flash fiction units are chronologically arranged (early to mid-1950s), and the reader begins to know the characters as the set moves on. Voice is once again completely in control, and side stories or events in the subconscious can sometimes be implied without words, which makes the piece more insidious.

My third book, BALLET FOR MURDERERS, is told in short prose poetry units, and set in 1950s to 1970s America. In the 17th century a penny ballad, sometimes alternately spelled “ballet,” the kind sold on the street, might tell in verse a simple story of a thief or murderer pursued through many an adventure until finally “attached” (taken into custody) by authorities. I wanted that simplicity, even crudeness of narration, but with a downfall more apt than corporal punishment.  

 

KRYSIA JOPEK interviews Richard Wayne Horton: 

When did you begin writing and publishing? What was your initial genre?

I began writing in the late 1950s, just to play around and try things. In the 1960s I developed a grabby kind of realist style, using it on journal entries. I spent the entire decade of the 1970s at UT Austin experimenting with all genres and lengths. In 1976, I connected with a set of gonzo Austin absurdist and late Beat poets, and began publishing poems and short prose around town and in little lits. I did write longer stories but often broke them up into titled micro-chapter-like sections, each with its own pop. I was trending toward what would later be called flash fiction or micro-fiction. It seemed like my poems were really stories in lines, so I either put them aside or reformatted them. I keep junkersand promising torsos around for years, picking at them ’til they finally decide to pop.

I’m curious how you know when you’ll write a poem versus hybrid or fiction. Is it just intuitive, organic (content fitting form)?

The piece manifests in the form that’s organically right for it. I shepherd that along. Maybe “the voice” writes the piece, and I let it have its way. Maybe I ride the voice or channel it. When I write line poetry, it’s because I want to build connections with shorter units. A set of lines could be called an event unit. A space between event units creates a pause to let the event arrive, or to transition. Some event units can be quite long. Others can be only one line, or even one word. There are poems of which I’ve fashioned both a prose version and a line version. I have prose poems arranged in event units: blocks of prose separated by blank lines.

When did you find yourself drawn to writing hybrid and why?

In the 1980s, I began being impatient with stories that were only stories. I joke in one of my pieces: the point is not the point. But I also came to despise form and artful language for its own sake. The piece as it plays out has to activate something outside itself, some unstated dynamic in the reader. In recent years I’ve had a discussion with Joshua Michael Stewart about what my short prose pieces can be called. Flash fiction? Prose poetry? A hybrid of poetry and prose? The language is flensed, bone-like, like that of poetry, but clean as it is, it carries an attitude and sets up a rich, often hyperreal event with cinematic imagery, dialogue and action; something that seems like it’s happening right next to the reader.

Can you describe your writing process from idea to finished piece of writing? What are your “writing habits”?

I compose in every free moment when I’ve got an idea or project. Otherwise I read or check social media. I cannot write from prompts. In a sense, I don’t make pieces up, and I certainly don’t use imported plot structures such as might be taught in a course. Perhaps I hear news or gossip that suggests a piece, or I take a trip to deep memory, bring back an incident, and fashion it into a piece of writing. I wouldn’t relate to a teacher’s composition idea, but if I had to, I could find a similar idea that I could develop. It could be that I might break all of the above rules if I suddenly discovered an open path to create a piece I really like. Rules are not for obeying. They’re for understanding what might be done.

What authors have influenced your writing and how so?

King James Bible–beautiful craziness in golden age English. I read it many times for the language and archetypes.  I’ve continued to think of the creation story through the lens of Platonism, Gnosticism, Seneca, Ovid, and Jung.

Poe, Stoker, and pulp horror mags–fun with Eldrich lingo and drama. Crudely effective spotlighting.

Whitman–-narrator talking intimately to the reader.

Hemingway–taking clutter and pose-prose out of the telling: foregrounding the act and talk. Collateral damage for Hemingway: his own poses are fairly plain.

Spillaine, Hammett, Bloch, Cabrera-Infante–clean tough action lingo. Hammett and Hemingway met in Hollywood in the late 1930s. It’s unclear who influenced the other the most.

Benn–pathology shock poetry, a kick-in-the-head thing I’ve played with in a couple of my pieces.

Trakl–color and image-coding combined with unexpected richness that makes it through the chopping knives of his editing.

How has the publishing world changed from the beginning or your writing career? What do you think about these changes?

It seemed to me, as a frequently-rejected writer in the 1970s that U.S. poetry in many prestigious journals tried very hard not to be likeable. Snarling in my writer’s garret, I pointed to the arid, impeccably-crafted, prize-winning poem with its touches of gentry humor, then the critical squib afterward, while pretending something deeply moving had taken place in the poem.

Though I sometimes laughed at the excesses of my Beat and absurdist poet friends in Austin, I hopped aboard their movement to get around the blockage and find a home for my outsider lit. Life goes on. I think the Beat movement really stimulated a rising acceptance of diverse modes of expression and engagement in U.S. journals, even prestigious ones. Some still have a house style, or they favor a style exhibiting markers of writing degree programs, but alternative venues are not hard to find. Gotta keep your day job, though.

What are you trying for as a writer?

Voice truth, which forms both a subliminal and material connection with the reader.

 

biographical note: 
Richard Wayne Horton writes short prose, hybrid forms, and poetry that sometimes have a hyperrealist, surrealist, or gothic feeling. He was nominated for two Pushcart prizes and is the 2019-21 Massachusetts Beat Poet Laureate. He has published three books: Sticks & Bones (Meat for Tea Press, 2017), Artists in the Underworld (Human Error Publishing, 2019) and Ballet for Murderers (Human Error Publishing, 2021). His work has appeared in Southern Pacific Review, The Dead Mule, Meat for Tea, Bull & Cross, Danse Macabre du Jour as well as in other journals. He currently resides in Western Massachusetts

Richard can be contacted via Facebook: www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Wayne-Horton/100010550442058/

author photo by Brian Stevens
Allard Photography
National Beat Poetry Festival
New Hartford, CT
©2019

 

 

 

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5.1: beyond this place there be dragons | Paulette Claire Turcotte — new poetry & hybrid, mixed media art
diaphanous micro
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5.1: beyond this place there be dragons | Paulette Claire Turcotte — new poetry & hybrid, mixed media art

TWINNING
Paulette Claire Turcotte
hybrid, digital, mixed media
©2020
opera coat by Magnolia Pearl

new poetry:

our lady of sorrows has entered the building. (excerpt)

1
after love the terrible divide. today I am dancing in a whirlwind. I have blood under my fingernails. dance, lady, dance. grief is blind. dance naked, dance long.

2
madly the idols break free from their prison and drop into the world.

3
I fell against the glass, the mirror, the light, the moon, the window, the kiss. I washed his face with my tears.

4
we break like tinder I said. there are no glass idols. where I come from glass shatters on contact.

5
the picket fence was her undoing. she never recovered. her remains are/were impaled like jesus coyote on the cross. we were hotwired for an uprising.

6
I frequented those ruins by day, by night I clung to my prayers, reciting rosaries against the nightmares that appeared more and more frequently.

7
those days I wrote stories about madness that had taken us all, and the voices that plagued me by night and by day, forgotten stories that I buried deep in the recesses of my mind, calling the God to save me and promising anything in return. my life. If you want my life—around that time I was juggling ideas and words to encompass a state of living hell. I stopped around that time I began to paint faces that came to me automatically from a few marks on the canvas to fully found persons who were my advocates to the underworld when I had begun to understand through my dreams. my companions were the endless hordes encased in dust, wandering in and out of the wreckage. and my dreams came in greys and blacks, charred around the edges fraying testimonials to an obsolescent God. let bygones be what they are.

8
I wait. beguiled as I am by the impenetrable light of your eyes, the consolation of the infinite dream dark as it is, in this garden of mutilated flowers.

 

THE UNREMEMBERED

1

dream ghosts lingered in the room

after I awoke, like lovers after a storm,

an intimate absence folds me into your reverie,

I conjured you up.

I hold no grudges.

2

the ocean doesn’t belong to anyone.

wake me broken wake me holy

broken forms of anarchy.

broken and besieged.

where is the mercy in that.

sing to the common man.

my father’s cross.

the double-cross.

3

death is a cross.

an unholy measure.

an intersection.

we always turned left.

 

the unremembered.

un-born. un-present.

un-being. un-lived.

un-seen. un-sought. un-redeemed.

un-comely. un-claimed.

un-holy.

4

the howling wind invented language.

the cello is a lonely instrument.

gone. worlds in/formation. a prayer wall.

waylaid. self-conceived.

my painted faces grew wild and furious,

the coup.

the ragman’s daughter singing the white-skin blues.

 

IN TIME OF PLAGUES (excerpt)

1

when we were young, deathless and wild, held our secrets close

to the bone, you nailed me to the wall with your promises,

what is a revolution, you cried, what is a war that I cannot fight?

your trembling Joan of Arc tongue bonded to the fire,

an oracle of the end times,

an apocalyptic dawn still waiting for a resurrection,

and now the plague dogs are gnawing at our bones.

we make our pact with life.

I dedicate this to my morning ghosts.

at some point we’ll all be legends, she says.

he says, mother I am still weeping.

2

when the night dropped into my arms,

when the streets teemed with silence,

when the howling dogs fractured my story,

when the backwards exterminators unlisted history,

forging lies into stone, the beak doctors

were stitching the plague into the tapestry of the world.

the howling dogs of pestilence have settled for a bone.

and I was up all night, reading glyphs by starlight,

holding onto the stars with both hands.

isn’t it what comes back to you when you put your hands together

and scream into them, I said?

isn’t it?

 

I never liked the finale, a sort of double-cross, she said,

your unfinished  stories that stretch for miles but never end,

your endless tales of war and mayhem,

I am tired of your meanderings of poverty, she said,

dragging me through the mud and the tears of crimes past,

one foot into eternity and the other clinging to your bit of wreckage,

I’m tired of it all,  and she wrote letters to the Prime Minister

and never mailed them. I knew a lady once, who wrote letters to the dead.

3

the sea is dark and ominous, but the weather report says sun,

I’m not a fan of sun I’d rather have rain and storms,

something to pit my strength against, I fade and die

in the sun and its garish noon time vulgarity. a tasteless show and tell,

too bright, too loud, and dazzles with a false bravado.

she told me the sun was on the horizon and I was glad to escape,

the letters were an ecological disaster, she added,

words and words that reeked of anarchy,

if you eat your own words, you’ll go blind, I said.

4

I kept painting hazardous pictures of the plague gods

and the menace of fascists slogans and guns, down with fascists,

she wrote in the margins in black ink, and poured holy water over them,

her way of counting the dead, creating prayer walls for their souls to pass through.

5

the body holds onto its stubborn dreams

wrapped in fire, a living place that hell forgot,

and she was alarmed at the sound of her own voice

chanting spells and shouting obscenities while the plague gods

watched our heroics from above, waiting for their chance to ride again,

like the barbarian brought to life in some antediluvian reincarnation recovery,

the Holy Ghost is a water bird. what’s in a name, anyway?

some of us busied ourselves  in a sea of infinite questions,

while the grief birds carried our prayers to heaven, forgave our vulgarities.

the shadows were longest just before sundown

and then the morning ghosts prepare for another dawn.

it won’t end until the beak doctors finish stitching the plague into the history of the world,

and I am alone with my own mad kind.

 

I remember the kisses of your mouth like it was yesterday.

 

MAD SHADOWS

I have nothing, I have nothing, I have nothing, I have nothing, a kind of defection from love, divine apostacy, I am a country divided, the poor root gone missing.

cut from the fold.

cut from the fold. I hone my skills. I am from elsewhere. not here.

not here.

what blasphemy rules hells? I run from you, hide,

find solace in the beloved surround.

my solitude is a god, a mother, a lover, a sphinx, a partial eclipse, a circus of divine clowns,

a memory board. a swamp dreaming its own cathedral of monkeys,

 

I want life, to pull words out of the shadows, corners of obscure dreams,

I want life, to speak in colours and hues as words slip over my tongue and into the world.

I want the dawn’s first breath, to stand with the cowl still holding the flesh away from the light, the flash of divine intervention, a decree. the first breath.

awakening or dying? the speak.

 

who defines intention, longing, the shape and sounds of love? want? desire? who decides? I’m cold. the desert reeks of stories.

I have nothing, except these few bruised lines.

I am painting in the faces of the children who will inhabit the earth, we can’t get enough of them, she says. if I die, I want you to take good care of every one of them.

all new poetry ©2022

hybrid, mixed media art:

 

Beak-doctor dénouement
hybrid, digital, mixed media
©2020

 

Mother of the World
hybrid, digital, mixed media
©2018

 

Incantations
hybrid, digital, mixed media
©2022

 

Mad Shadows
hybrid, digital, mixed media
©2021

 

Prayer Wall
hybrid, digital, mixed media
©2021

 

Premonition
hybrid, digital, mixed media
©2018

artist statement:
My poetry is born out of my love affair with words and my passion for charged play and exploration of the hidden, the mystery at work beneath our consciousness. My poetry has grown out of a sense of social outrage, an immense love of this creature world, wild nature, and out of my own journey through madness and grace. It has grown out of a precious relationship with love and death and hope. If my work has a calling, it is to give form and character to the unseen and unheard, the shadows, the untouchables, the unredeemed–and to stretch the boundaries between madness and sanity as well as between the banal and the mystical in an attempt to restore our quaking humanity.

I am presently interested in producing works to acknowledge the potential of language to access deeper states of mind, to reframe experience, to explore the boundaries between genres and poetic form–while holding to the creative poetic species as a measure and gauge.

links to more poetry, chapbook and full-length book of poetry (that can be purchased), a review of What the Dead Want by Krysia Jopek, Paulette Claire Turcotte’s Avant-Garde ZINE, and Facebook group

SAID OR said (chapbook)

What the Dead Want (full-length book of poetry)

review of What the Dead Want by Krysia Jopek (Canadian Poetry Review, page 4)

BANNED POETRY Paulette Claire Turcotte’s ZINE

Paulette Claire Turcotte’s Avant Garde ZINE

Facebook Group: Alternative & Modern Arts, and Review

 

biographical note:
Paulette Claire Turcotte is a Canadian author, visionary, and outsider poet and artist. Her work has been published in numerous presses in print and online. She is editor of Banned Poetry, cdris/ARTS Press, co-founder of Split Quotation Press, a founding member of the Pacific Festival of the Book, Curator of the ZINE Alternative & Modern Arts and Review and AVANT-GARDE poetry ZINE. She has been recipient of the ANTHOS Poetry prize and a Canada Council grant for short story writing. As well as two non-fiction books, she has published three chapbooks of poetry with her visual art, a full-length collection of poems, What the Dead Want (Ekstasis Editions, 2019) and two poetry chapbooks, The Silence in the Centre of Bone (SAMARHANOR Press Editions, 2019) and SAID OR said (Trainwreck Press, 2020). She has a forthcoming memoir as well as a new poetry collection, Incantations and Holy Spells (poems for apocalyptic times).

She utilizes mixed media, paint, charcoal, ink, and constant experimentation with images in her visual art to build layers and text in paintings, sketches, sculpture, multi-media prints, and mixed-media art. She’s influenced by her connections to the natural world, her love of wild nature, ancestral connections in dreams, and by many years of Jungian studies and analysis. She works instinctually, honouring the flow of material from the unconscious and the images that emerge.

She is presently exploring the dynamic in word and image in various forms from digital works and prints, to working with mixed media in fabric and collage. Her latest hybrid artworks and prints are the result of  years of combining techniques and experiments in painting and drawing.

self-portrait
©2021

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4.8: the problem with philosophers | Charles Rafferty–new prose poetry & interview

Lemon Drop Fungus photo by Charles Rafferty ©2015

4.7: the day’s dissolutions | Mike Cole–poetry & poetics

the shape of years Mike Cole 1080 x 349 pixels ©2021

diaphanous micro
7 Comments

4.7: the day’s dissolutions | Mike Cole–poetry & poetics

the shape of years
Mike Cole
1080 x 349 pixels
©2021

 

introduction by krysia jopek:

I fell in love with the prose poems (in from Innuendos in a Minor Key) that Mike Cole sent me—the six seeds that morphed and evolved into this full-grown, granulated, virtual poetry show, a day’s dissolutions. The selections from the six unique poetry manuscripts that Mike chose function like six movements of a sonata, unified by his signature, seemingly-effortless tone and style that subtly carry the reader across the surface of precise language and syntax into new poetic territory again and again: “patina of offal,” “distillation of crushed star,” “where party lights are the eels’ fluorescence,” ”a galaxy of meanings/that look like stars,” and “birds were swept up in dust devils of spirit/that rendered them silent with dizziness.”

The selection of poetry that follows exemplifies Mike Cole’s versatility with short, discreet prose poems; poems that utilize line breaks and complex enjambment/syntax; prose poetry (in the two selections from Missives) with a Beckettian even-keeled tone and discursiveness; poems with very short lines of ten in a perfect column structure; and very short poems. The statement of poetics that follows this extraordinary mini-ouvre allows readers to look through the window of this poet’s writing cabin and watch the poet wait for poetry to breathe itself into (human) being.

Please enjoy!

poetry by Mike Cole:

from Innuendos in a Minor Key 

What Was Intended
37 You can, in fact, know what was intended. You can see it in the way the breeze makes of leaves and limbs such easy and graceful sweepings through the light of almost any day. It is there in the way a child regards the dance of dust swirling through a band of morning sun. In the whispers and then breathless and wordless urgency you hear through the wall between your solitude and love.

xxxxx

Waning Light
23 We had hoped for something almost other. We had been both to and away. We were making sure we hadn’t been followed. We had left passion of the old sort to those who could still use it. We were developing the habit of sitting in the waning light watching the leaves and shadows move, and we caught ourselves repeating what had never and now even less mattered.

xxxxx

The Taste
25 It tastes like the air that only a long climb gives the mouth to breathe. Like her hair caught on your lips. Like her fingers after she has peeled an orange for both of you. It tastes like something the apothecary gave you to share: a clear mixture that will convince you both that you are gods before it quickly kills you.

xxxxx

Come and Go
27 Something of the other and much of the more met and became lovers. They whirled and then tangled, they wanted and then had, and in the end, because it is never something that can go much beyond its beginning, they smiled and went each his and her way feeling what had been was what was meant to both come (as they had) and go (as they would).

xxxxx

Probably
44 Probably when the tides turn on themselves and the moon rises up and eats the sun. Probably in the next century when you and I switch places behind our faces and your smile becomes my grave expression. Probably in a Never that has become Always and at the depths of a mountain that is standing on its head at the bottom of the Mariana Trench where the party lights are the eels’ fluorescence.

xxxxx

Euphoria
60 It felt like walking across a lake next to a floating moon. Like drinking the distillation of crushed stars. It felt like taking up residence in a daffodil and having all the light warmed and yellowed. It felt like playing “Lara’s Theme” from Doctor Zhivago on a balalaika as the background music for the coronation of the archangel of a just re-gilded heaven to which only the homeless were admitted. Like riding a unicorn that had borrowed its wings from the daughter of Pegasus and whose horn was a neon orange that was recognized in the next universe as a herald of the arrival of euphoria.

xxxxxx

 

from The New Alchemy:

Waiting
There is always the possibility
that something quite celestial
will arrive in a blue stretch limousine,
wearing the same sandals that bore Christ
out of the desert with a song so simple
even snakes were charmed into praise,
and birds were swept up in dust devils of spirit
that rendered them silent with dizziness.

The chauffeur will be the poet who was estranged
from her muses when they tempted her to jump
from so high above the Styx that she suspected
subterfuge and chose instead to weave her gowns
of metric and sonal intricacies that ended up
having the exact character of a cast iron
chastity belt from which the only escape
was looking hard and long into the eyes
of this savior of sorts who found his rhythms
in the air above a canyon over which he waltzed
on a slackline dyed and woven by virginal chorus girls
who watched and wondered how this divinity’s
tattoos could fluoresce in broad daylight and all move
in directions dictated by a power neither they
nor the updrafts that lifted their deliverer’s waist-length
dreadlocks into a cloud of breakdancing medusas
could ever explain.

xxxxx

Re…. 
Relax
Realize there’s no hurry
Realistically you won’t
reach an end anyway
Rest
Reassess what you are
Renegotiate with mortality
Read
Reconfirm your resignation from the real
Reap only what no one else needs
Reach
Reason with the residue of dreams
Recount the way you realized your
redemption
Realign your reflexes
Re-educate your regrets
Refuse
Refocus recollections
Recoil from rationalizations
Relax

xxxxx

Advice To a Friend Suffering From Disillusion
I would say
that you are
in the last aisle
of a delicatessen
that stocks every
variety of fatigue
next to the blue cheese
and feta and just beyond
helplessness that permeates
the lavosh so completely
that hope cannot be restored
even by grape leaves
perfectly rolled and stuffed
or olive oil
so virginal one drop
on the tongue
conjures the most nubile
and willing Greek goddess
any soldier fresh from Troy
or Ithaca could envision
stepping toward him
out of a doorway
filled with steam.
But that shouldn’t suggest
any absolute resignation
to eternities of starless
nights or loveless
dawns, but rather
the need
on your part
for calculated naiveté
garnished with an astonishment
of saffron and sage
and washed down
with a flask
of elderberry wine
entombed with a king
who was so infatuated
with eternity
he forgot what the living
had given him for his
journey.

xxxxxx

 

from A Bouquet of Stars:

Clarification
Let’s make it clear now
that his is a way of singing
that has a strange appeal
only to the dispossessed
and as such will be heard, if at all,
as a theremin’s distant moaning
by an audience that isn’t listening
but is nevertheless eased
by his song
toward the numbness
of both clairvoyance
and death.

xxxxx

Advice He Received from the Experts
She or he or they
said, or seemed to be saying,
“You aren’t trying hard enough.
You have to study the intricacies
and be able to recite the rules.
You have to bend both yourself
and your materials in ways
it would have seemed
such things could not be bent.
You have to break before the impossibility of it
and then try again with even more abandon.
You have to lose the only thing
you were sure you couldn’t be without.
You have to know that if you arrive
at the end you seek,
the way back
will have dropped away.”

xxxxx

He Receives This Response
            From the Editor:

We are looking for structure
that gives evidence of a rigor
that could only have caused
a discomfort not unlike torture
of the type that those clever
machines of the Crusades
or the British Court might have
exacted upon the bodies of the
too pure of heart whose last
cries were echoing anthems
that both terrified and inspired.

xxxxx

Upon His Interrogation by the Canon
And what do you think will happen
as a result of your lack of rigor?

I think
the day will split open
right here beside me
and a voice from before
even your time
and that at first seems
exactly air moving
will cross through
the translation of this
first of morning’s light
and tell me in my own
simple language
what to sing
to make time
step back and wait
for my permission
to begin again.

xxxxx

Lost
There was a poem
he couldn’t find.
It was nowhere
and everywhere.
It had a body
that had no shape.
It was outside of gravity
and slept near an unnamed planet’s core.
It rode a dream from one star to the next
in a galaxy that housed the imagination.
It was dressed like a child angel
and like an old man dead on the street.
It sang once to the tune of a great river
in a country it would never visit.
It ate only the dust
that arose and dispersed
when a bristlecone pine
beginning its 2000th year
was pushed to its repose
by a hundred mile an hour wind
that moved even rocks across the faces
of the White Mountains.

xxxxx

Aflame
He thinks of Vallejo eating almost nothing,
smoking hand-rolled cigarettes,
spitting the shreds of tobacco
between his dried lips,
crazed by the black horses
thrashing through his waking dream,
and of Lorca smelling the slaughterhouse
and the Hudson River with its patina of offal
and setting it all to the rhythm of metal-flanged heels
on the moon-fringed tiles in Barcelona.
He thinks of the unnamed and never to be known one
aflame from so far within that what she becomes
or how she is regarded cannot shred the fist
that grapples her to the thrumming engine
carrying her back into a galaxy of meanings
that look more like great fires than stars.

xxxxxx

 

from Missives:

25 Knowing the day of the week has come to be of almost no importance to me. I am pleased when I don’t know the day of the week. The next to go should be the hour of the day, though there are indicators that make an estimate of the hour all too possible. If I had developed other skills, I would have something more tangible and possibly more beneficial and useable to show for my time making whatever it is in this case that happens to be made of the only medium with which I have learned to work—words. I drank a beer because that sometimes loosens the flow of words, but after the initial stimulation, it can also bring about lethargy and then even sleepiness, which become inhibitors of that same flow. In the long run though, I may be led toward, or, through no conscious sense of direction or clarity of purpose, stumble upon the kind of revelation that in the religious context seems only to be discovered by the poorest and most desperate souls who have no reason other than their simple and absolutely blind faith to hope. Think of the status attained by the miracle, whether imagined or real, of the Mexican peasant whose sarape was stained by roses with the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. It is time for me to quit today. There shouldn’t be a time to quit. There should only be a time to go on. The need to do other than the one thing that might lead to what has not manifested itself before and will only assume tangible form in hands that are intent on waiting for as long as it takes to shape whatever the air hands them should be set aside so that the waiting can be as pure and purposeless as the miraculous demands.

xxxxx

26 Evidently Emily Dickinson carried scraps of paper and a pencil with her all the time and used them to record lines or snippets of lines intended for possible later use in poems. Many of those bits and pieces have now been published in small books. One of the things that seems to have also been true is that flies, though possibly not as big as the one I am presently hearing, buzzed where she was writing too. As it turns out in my case, the fly is trapped between the screen door and the outside door here. There is a hole in the outside door where there was once a doorknob when the door was in use in a Bay Area house from which it was removed when the house was torn down, and the door was brought to the salvage yard called Urban Ore where I bought it along with several windows and brought them here to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada to install in the cabin I built of rough-cut lumber milled from beetle-killed pines. I need to cover that hole so flies and bees and even on occasion small birds don’t get in here through that hole and then through the space around the screen door. Emily Dickinson was equally concerned throughout most of her day with such practical matters. It was reported, though, that she recited lines of poetry aloud while she was in the storeroom skimming the cream off of the milk which may have come from a cow that her father owned. More likely the milk came from the cow of a neighboring dairy farmer. Had Dickinson lived in the first third of the 20th century, that dairy farmer could have been my grandfather who was in North Hampton only a short way from Amherst where Emily was cloistered (for a little more than half the century before) in her father’s house and at night in her upstairs room composing poems and sewing them into the little fascicles that she knew would be found after her body was taken away to the family plot. The fireplace in her bedroom was bricked up and fitted with a small wood stove that kept her room warm through the night so she could sit at her writing desk, reportedly 18” square, and be transported to a realm that was not inhabited by any other human of her time and place but seemingly by the spirits and possibly echoes of poets who came both before and long after her—if such things are possible, as they probably are not, but it might have felt to her, as it sometimes feels to me, as if such times can be inhabited by such voices and presences. My mother would have only been vaguely, if at all, aware of the poet who would have been nearly her neighbor, and it is certain that they would have had nothing to talk about, except that Emily would have no doubt been interested in and maybe intrigued by the fact that my mother played the baritone in the community band that gave free concerts in the North Hampton town park on Sundays and that she sometimes marched with that band in town parades. But my mother would have found Emily too strange to be of interest and would have regarded the poet with the same wariness as she did the Smith College girls she said she saw walking too close together and hand-in-hand along North Hampton’s main street. My mother would not have found the line “I heard a fly buzz when I died” to be anything more than strange.

xxxxxx

 

from The Glad Oblivion of Light

She still doesn’t know
exactly how it happens
or how it happens that sometimes
it does
and other times it doesn’t
though it seems it eventually will
which is why she must
at least sometimes
stay there longer
waiting to be taken up
by whatever hands or wave or dustless dust devil
that arrives to elevate her to a place
where she can
at least for a moment
see

xxxxxx

 

from A Distant Place:

50
there were always
near the end
things abloom
that seemed they should be
far beyond their season
and he would pause
put down the heaviness
he had been carrying
too far and for too long
and sit for a while
maybe beyond a while
where the delicacy
and brightness
of the unexpected
flourished

xxxxx

And Finally
I would recommend
denying you ever wanted anything
and then drilling a hole
in the forehead of dawn
and crawling in to watch
what shadows do
to prepare for the day’s
dissolutions.

all poetry ©2021

 

post-introductionfinding my way back [poetics]:

I became involved in writing during the poetry renaissance that Philip Levine and others brought to Fresno State College and the dusty, hot, foggy San Joaquin Valley of California in the late 1960s. I have been hunting down poems for the more than 50 years since, though teaching high school English, Spanish, Creative Writing, and other subjects for over 30 years severely limited that effort. But in the past 11 years, I have spent most mornings waiting on the arrival of poems. Though over the years I have written and published carefully-constructed narrative (and some lyric) poems, I’ve never enjoyed that approach to writing—beginning with a topic or experience and building a poem from that central idea—so I have gradually returned to an approach to writing that actually served me best as an undergraduate when I first discovered poetry. That process involves allowing a flow of words to gradually lead me toward a state of mind in which poems take shape on their own, a process in which I serve only as the receptor and recorder of that voice. I know that this approach to finding poems is anathema to most of the poetry establishment of the day, but at this point in my life (at 73 years old) that no longer matters.

The section titles between the groups of poems published here refer to the titles of book manuscripts I have assembled of my poems. I have one manuscript of poems from the years 1968 to 2010, and 10 more manuscripts for the years 2011 through 2020. The selections included in diaphanous micro 4.7 are taken from the manuscripts covering the years 2012 to 2017. Many of the poems in these manuscripts have been published in various print and online magazines, but none of the manuscripts have been, as yet, published as books. My intention is to publish selections form all of my manuscripts in a single book at some time in the future (or not at all). For now it seems more important to go on following the trail of words wherever it leads.

Thank you to Krysia Jopek for accepting my work for publication in diaphanous micro. She is doing something truly unique and important in this online magazine. It’s a valuable forum for amazingly varied and thought-provoking approaches to literary and visual art. The featured writers and artists push our perceptions and approaches to our own art in many new directions. I hope my poems serve that same purpose for diaphanous micro readers

 

Mike Cole reading “Therefore, Sing”:

 

biographical note:
Mike Cole’s poems have appeared in Antioch Review, Laurel Review, Stirring, and Red Savina Review, among other literary journals, as well as in the anthologies Highway 99 (Heyday Press) and Some Yosemite Poets (Scrub Jay Press). He holds a Master’s Degree in Poetry Writing from Fresno State College. For 30-plus years he taught high school English, Spanish, and Creative Writing. He lives in the California mountains near Yosemite and is a member of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers.

Highway 99: A Literary Journey Through California’s Great Central Valley

Yosemite Poets: A Gathering of This Place

self portrait
©2015

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4.6: groundid | Kristine Snodgrass–visual art (digital glitches)

burnish digital glitch 565 x 750 pixels ©2021

diaphanous micro
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4.6: groundid | Kristine Snodgrass–visual art (digital glitches)

 

burnish
digital glitch
565 x 750 pixels
©2021

 

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ARTIST STATEMENT: FEMMEGLITCH

Intuitive. Sign. Deletion. Obliteration. Constructive. Beauty
These pieces are glitches (digital) using three different subjects or topics that are all interrelated: t-shirts appearing in social media ads, images of the sound of my voice, and images of my body. My work concerns the intersections of sexuality, voyeurism, performance, Capitalism, and gender more broadly. I am influenced by asemics and abstract expressionist women like Joan Mitchell and Helen Frankenthaler.

The glitch is not the environment of the thing, it is the thing itself. I am less interested in exhausting the definitions of asemic writing (if the glitch is ultimately denying meaning from a semantic form is arguable) and more interested in seeing the possibilities of the glitch. I wrangle the “data bending” on phone apps until I get the desired image. That is creative and productive. This does not impede, however, the obliteration of the original image.

Most of my glitches start with ads on my Facebook (on my phone) that offer new complexities when considering its form. I am now introducing Capitalism, data mining, privacy infringement, assumption, targeting, and an inextricable combination of those that can only begin to attack the implications of a thing. I screenshot the ads for t-shirts that appear in my feed (based on the above) that usually show “positive” messaging for and about women, or perceived “feminist” messaging. Glitch apps then layer, destroy, and rebuild what I have consumed. Then I can resist or subvert by taking ownership of the whole mess. I make it what I want it to look like.

I use glitches to break down patriarchal structures. I think of the glitch as a sex act. It is a dominant/submissive binary. There is intention in glitching that is beauty. We know it is not ugly. The ultimate infringement of the digital—our human mistake of knowing and understanding.

Femmeglitch: I have used this moniker or description that includes gender. I think identifying the gender in the act is claiming the social and cultural implications of oppressive systems and the glitching is bending those systems, often to their demise. This makes glitching an art form.

biographical note:
Kristine Snodgrass is an artist, poet, professor, curator, and publisher living in Tallahassee, Florida. She is the author most recently of American Apparell from AlienBuddha Press and Rather, from Contagion Press. The proud founder and curator of Women Asemic Artists & Visual Poets (WAAVe), Snodgrass searches to create an online space for women in the asemic and vispo communities to share work, offer support, and network. Her asemic and vispo work has been published in Utsanga (Italy), Slow Forward and featured in Asemic Front 2 (AF2), South Florida Poetry Journal, Voices de la Luna, Brave New Word, and Talking About Strawberries, and forthing coming in Street Cake. She is the art editor for SoFloPoJo. Snodgrass loves collaborating and is always searching for new projects with artists and poets. You can find some of her writing about collaboration at TRIVIA: Voices of Feminism. She is excited about her newest chapbook, zero-zero, poems in collaboration with Maureen Seaton. More about Kristine Snodgrass at kristinesnodgrass.com.

self-portrait
©2020

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