The Winter 2018 issue of Rat’s Ass Review has just been released, featuring a large assortment of poems on everyday subjects in plain language. The authors are arranged alphabetically, which is the only reason my work sits at the top; two of my poems made the cut: “Trailing the Blues” and “That Was My First Wife.” You can read them here.
I should note that while “Trailing” was based on a real person I saw in a liquor store one day (while adding to my rum collection), “First Wife” is complete fiction; for one thing, I was never in the army.
Experimental poetry journal Avant Appal(achia)‘s Issue #6 went live today. Nice selection of interesting text and visual work. This one also includes my poem “You Need a New Heart,” one of a series of pieces based on the idea of an imaginary AI transactional language. You can read the piece and the whole issue here.
This text forms part of a new series of experiments inspired by the Facebook AI units that recently developed their own language using English words with different syntax and meaning. The AI units were intended to carry out customer service transactions and negotiations, and the format of their language seemed to be a powerful way to confront and manipulate the continuous stream of commercial messages invading our mental space.
These texts represent an attempt to replicate a machine code constructed from an extremely limited vocabulary, often initiated by spam emails. Each piece develops by permutations, repetition, and sound/rhythm. It’s impossible for the human observer to know if the machine is analyzing or tabulating data, performing a calculation, conducting a negotiation, or making a persuasive appeal. Any of these functions is a possibility. In a way, the texts are a form of speculative fiction: looking at a machine narrative pulled from a future where AIs have been released to perform functions on their own. As in the case of the Facebook AIs, these instances show a machine or machines adapting human (English) language for their own ends. The repetition of the key words imitates a transactional language, as if a carnival barker is repeating an appeal to a potential audience. But the end result also reminds me of a magical incantation appealing to a familiar spirit.
Literary journal Five-2-One usually appears in print, but its daily supplement, The Sideshow, appears online. My poem “After the Guillotine” appears there starting today in text and video formats. The video features my reading of the poem, along with an electronic backing score. Warning: grim subject matter may not be appropriate for all audiences! You can view it all here.
Outlaw Poetry is an online journal comprising a who’s who of outlaw poets. So I’m very pleased to appear in their pages again, this time with three poems: “Joyce in Washington,” “On a Roll,” and “Women’s Work is Never Done.” You can read them here.
The first two pieces are based on real people and events. When I was temping at the USPS headquarters many years ago, Joyce worked there as an administrative assistant. She was a real character, very unique for DC, who I couldn’t resist writing about. One detail that didn’t make the poem was the vibrating pillow she used to sit on to soothe her back.
“On a Roll” is the second of two poems I wrote, more or less transcribing one of my dad’s rants in a New Jersey hotel room after a very long day helping my sister move from her apartment. When he’s on a roll, he’s on a roll.
Online literary journal Former Cactus published their final issue, #14, on Dec 1. It includes a wide range of poetry and flash fiction. Among the works is my short science fiction story “Old MacDonald Had an Ichesthaet.” It’s set on a future earth where all surviving humans exist in deep freeze. One man is revived to advise the lead scientist conducting an archeological dig to learn the secrets of Earth’s past. The alien scientist has found something that he expected, but it comes as a shock to his human consultant. You can read the story here.
Word for/Word is an online journal of experimental poetry that just released its issue #32. Lots of interesting text and visual poetry to check out. It includes three of my Gonch poems, “Cachallanog Agaal,” “Nagan Halloch Cohl Llonagga,” and “Llaanaganallo Hacla Chagalnach Aglacoa,” as well as five images from the Gonchlog. You can read them here; just click on my name in the far right column on the front page.
The text pieces come from a series of new works using a vocabulary limited to words invented from the nonsense phrase “All Gonch.” It’s an attempt to create a new language, imagining also the culture behind it through the shape and structure of the words, that might arise after the death of the current (American) culture and language.
The images are part of another phase of the Gonch project I call the Gonchlog. In this process, I search through consumer magazines and cut out the five letters of “gonch,” then glue them onto accounting paper. The source, its date of publication, and volume number are noted. The intention is to draw out that key nonsense word from these commercial propaganda vehicles in order to find a way forward.
I’m a little slow on the uptake, but just learned that Horror Sleaze Trash published my poem “Point Blank” on Friday, Oct 26. (Same day they published “Popeye Pops a Boner.”) This one too is kind of an explicit, NSFW piece. You can read the full poem here.
One of my short stories featuring the Doom Pussy appeared yesterday in online in outlaw literary journal The Scum Gentry. Upon accepting it, the editor remarked on its “strong Burroughsean flavor and blatantly trangressive and demented tone,” which I thought nailed it pretty well. He summarized it this way: “Pussy, Doom and Smash lay waste to their world in this experimental psychosexual sci-fi riff.” Needless to say, this involves strong language that is NSFW and for mature audiences only. Read at your own risk here.
I’m a little slow on the uptake, but just learned that Horror Sleaze Trash published my poem “Popeye Pops a Boner” last Friday, Oct 26. Kind of explicit, NSFW type thing, as if the title didn’t clue you in. You can read the full piece here.