PEN Short List Announced

New Poem from Neeli Cherkovski


this is the kind of Jew I am
who hunts a rabbit for the dinner plate
who wears a deer skin coat
who munches on seed and mashes acorn
a Jay Jew a Blue Jay Jew am I
by the road to the observatory

a young man like a wild animal
in the front seat hunched down
in the passenger seat by the shadow
of the contagious hospital by the
green automobile by the waters of
Babylon by the Empty Quarter by
the camel lade of T. E, Lawrence is
the kind of man I am able to stir up
an entire desert down deep inside
of me we look for a water hole I am
hot nor was I ever a subversive Jew

but I am an issue I am not know nor
have I ever been anything but a half
moon in the cradle of a trap door a
redwood tree in the wise woods my
father taught me how to make a roaring
morning fire how to boil hobo coffee
how to use an ax how to shout and drink
and speak foul words and never look at
another woman and swim the Snake River

waddya say? what if I could’ve been
Custer at Little Big Horn and
died with a bullet in my forehead? I guess
the idea is we are all of this is what we are
everything we are unable to love much of
anything our fear is so great the sickness
runs so deep we look for redemption I find
a spent shadow, a Hungarian violinist on the
ramp at Auschwitz a child in Hiroshima a
woman in Manila raped by a Japanese soldier
Cortez or an Aztec warrior and on and on it
spins like a top you’d better shout for and fight
for peace at any cost

I am not so brave I hide in the thick grass
of a poem and hope no one finds me shuddering
‘cause it’s no fun here on a dreadful afternoon
spewing fumes and going into a death mode as if
that’d solve anything we are simple animals
with complex tools at our disposal I suppose who
are you and what is your genetic make up a moon
dog a star child a daughter of the sun a chip of
stone a marble wonder a blade of grass?

Anne Sexton, Theodore Roethke and the Pulitzer Prize

Here’s an interesting article on an old debate.

The Goldfinch, from Vanity Fair

Here’s a long interesting take on the critical reaction to Donna Tart’s blockbuster.

Another New Poem from Neeli Cherkovski

tell me what is a daffodil
or our brother the rat?
tell me how you feed the
people who are starving
for attention on muddy
passageways, let me know
where I sign up for the
insight you carry on your
show me what is
wrong in my garden, the
banana tree has no bananas
the avocado tree no fruit
the lemon tree produces
hard green tennis balls
not even Big Sam
the tree man can set
things righttell me how sings the lichen
and pollen and snow flakes
and sun light, tell me
where I went wrong, where
barter and trade failed, how
bureaucratic police states
poison the mind by
closhing it down till only
one man is the font
of all truth

rub me the wrong way
with guilt, plough me
in your innocence, face the
sad affairs on machines
made by slave labor in
unseen places, explain
your good heart to the
cruel ocean, explain your
credibility to
the mute sun, it sits
on outer space
like it was inside of us
burning our
vanity, testing
our fear of the dark

tell me what is a caterpillar
doing on the leaf?
are you listening? do you
suffer because you
are only a catastrophic error
built by slave labor
in a sweat shop
somewhere humid and

I praise your formidable
knowledge as I
walk to the yard for a moment’s
respite, almost time for the
world news, nearly the hour
when forgiveness settle-in
but not quite

New Poem from A. D. Winans


rain poem by A.D. Winans

the storm lets up

the birds take flight

neighbors dog sheds water

drops in sprinkler rhythm

a cavalry of children

magically appear in rainbow splendor

sun peeks from clouds

smell of fall in the air

New Poem from Neeli Cherkovski



never were we innocent, we always stood

between guilt and innocence

down yonder in the land of clogged arteries

and heartless off-ramps,

we hear the purring of a luxury sedan

on the Arroyo Seco Freeway

branching into Hell, we’re sucked

onto a highway that spills in every direction

big men with 18 inch necks, bulldogs

behind the wheel, and crabby little guys

with sticks for arms in their fortress

automobiles, chugging up the hill

swearing never to die while pressing

the accelerator to the floor

in a desperate attempt to defeat

the youthful driver in the other car


I was an L.A. Driver, warrior, cruelly tested

on the intersections, drawn to the grid

like a moth to the porch light, the motors

roaring, the trucks barreling ‘long,

a basin of failed opportunities

and attorney fees, an amalgam of solitude

in the crowds of emptiness, me

fated to drive across the constellations

without a license, no rules, no regulations

just a road flooded in an endless barrage

of dreams, down to Fairfax and Beverly,

over to Normandie Avenue, off at the

downtown exit, on again where the tribal

gatherings once held sway

in what would be an asphalt empire

drawn over shifting sand and deep fault lines



June  2014

New U. S. Poet Laureate

Brenda Hillman and Anne Carson Win Poetry Prize

Favorite Bookstores of New York

This is a nice piece from the New Yorker. New York has always been a great bookstore town.  So is San Francisco.  Someone should do this for our city, there are plenty of great stores to choose from.