Chapbooks

BOOK PROJECT ON HOLD:

I got 90+ pages into writing this book and then life got in the way. I am going to revisit it, put more time in, but for now it is on the back burner while I settle into my new home & community.
 

Written in 1999 and published in 2009, The Year Without You is an intensely personal poem-journey through a devastating break-up.  Illustrated with photos and art from eight different artists, it is a kaleidoscope of beauty, pain and hope.  Book size is 8.5" x 5.5", and it includes 26 poems.  $15 - currently out of print.  Excerpt below:

 

May 23.1999

 

"I want my mommy."

Plaintive, repeated as many times

as breath and pause will allow.

I shudder, her foolish sorrow

bleeding into prophecy as I kneel

to gaze into the watery pupil

of each eye, plumbing their depths

for the timetable of God.

 

"I want my mommy."

And I want you, you who have left

my world so early, a three

a.m. departure, when the day

had seemed so close at hand,

pnly a couple of hours off.  I try

not to remember the miles I rode

on this child's night-mare of fears.

"I want my mommy."

I reach my arms around her, but she

holds stiff, her child-knowledge braced

against my promises, the faith

I've learned no comfort in this moment's grief.

I have no guarantees you will come home

when this day's work is done.  I shall wait

anyway.

              (She holds my hand.)

Fly Free is small book struggling with big personal and societal issues.  This chapbook came out 7 years to the day after 9/11,  with 11 poems, the first of which deals with how airline security has changed.  Those parts were unplanned.   This book is 8.5" x 5.5", includes some black and white photography.  $5.  Available at shows and at Eat My Words bookstore in Northeast Minneapolis.  Review & excerpt below:

 

"You bear witness to as well as evoke a glimmer of transcendence - the possibility of redemption from fear, alienation, hubris, decay, and catastrophe. 'Glimmer' is essential, since you don't lurch into sentimentality or fantasy, even when you directly implore or call forth. That alienation and corruption - the operation of nihil - are foregrounded is what gives your hints force, i.e. makes them evocative."

 

- J.M.

 

The Practice of Hand-Binding

 

"They bind our hands and then complain that we do not make use of them."

                        -- Moses Mendelssohn, Jewish philosopher in Germany

 

so, Berlin is calling

        Bismarck is clawing at the restlessness in his chest

    a million bastard babies are looking for hope

           and there is no God

                in Berlin

 

so let us bring Him

      bring Him laughing and dancing

    bring Him human

               and Jewish

               and infinite

 

now no one will say He is hoarding the wealth

                when for lack of a place to lay His head

He leans it against a tree

                                     and rises

  giant against the starry sky

                               great tears streaming

     fitful dreams full of loaves and fishes

               to feed the world

He twists beneath the cover of the wind

 

            we fall asleep counting

            bodies and bellies

            no prayers to ask for

            what we cannot conceive

 

we wake with hammers in our hands

Land of My Love is a compilation of poems with a Biblical theme.  Over 120 copies have been sold, and profits were used to partially fund a trip to Israel in 2007.  These poems have been used in church gatherings from Los Angeles to Manhattan to open up new perspectives on old old stories, as well as becoming part of many personal collections.  Pages are 8.5" x 5.5", saddle stapled, not illustrated.  $10 - currently out of print.  Table of Contents, review and excerpt below:

 

 

I. Creation & the Fall On Want / The Dream of the Ridiculous Man II. Abraham Hammering the Roses / My Ishmael III. Sarah Last Glare of Sun on Salt: Frozen Like Sarah IV. The Exodus What Is It? V. Nehemiah The Comfort of Jehovah VI. Elijah Elijah’s Daughter VII. Psalms The Fall of Petra VIII. Proverbs Proverbs IX. Jonah Stranger on Deck / Un-borne at Sea X. Jesus No Other Roads / The Middle Thief / Silver Cord Severed / This Moment XI. Judas A Case of Mistaken Identity / Potter’s Field XII. Thomas Thomas the Bride XIII. Paul Paul XIV. Prayers For All the Things We Don’t Say / Maker Man
 

 

"As I read, it feels to me as if it's written in blood (to crib Nietzsche), i.e. written from the depths, out of the furnace of experience. Your vulnerability in these poems is striking... Bataille or Blanchot (French writers) talked somewhere about poetry as an 'open wound in language.' That is what Land makes me think of... But (unlike Blanchot,) I also feel its hope. The same contrast I detected in [Fly Free] seems operative here, though on a much more personal level..."

 

- J.M.

 

My Ishmael

 

You have come

for I have strayed

the pressure of years not withstanding

the weight of promise

And I have held you in my arms

a moment

But now he comes

he comes, at long last

bearing testimony against my laughter

with his own laughter

crisp in the winter air like a knife

Where will you go, my Ishmael?

my one whom God hears

listen to your name, dear one

He is listening even now

He will hear you in the desert

He will carry you through the night

He will wake you in the morning

with a song

                    I have never heard

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