In this dark confessional comedy/light blowhard drama (though probably more sad than anything), our main guy and struggling lunatic Bjorn - American drifter with his G.E.D., sometimes bartender, recreational poet, terrible Buddhist - tells his short-sweet story from a quiet Colorado mountain town. Looking back to a few shit days the summer before, Bjorn unearths how his good friend, a professional soccer player who sat on the bench with glory and a crap haircut, has died. A story of why, during these few shit days, this weekend plus overtime, Bjorn, as he spouts it, had to return to his home city of Houston, Texas: to reconnect, to see if his memories match up - with his alcoholic father and everything else. Bjorn's return to associated bizarro hellishness is not Dante's Inferno, but this is Houston after all: the country's fourth-largest city that, in recent memory, has been designated the nation's most obese, most polluted, and with the worst traffic - a convoluted mess of a sometimes nightmarish concrete and sinstrewn sprawl, denigrated by the constant wet hot humid piss of a Texas beast . . .
in one of His rages
God drowned the whole planet in His bath water
said Look at what you made me do
said This is the only way to get you clean
said This is an act of love
He left the obedient to float like
like all toxic relationships
love was confused with mercy
and wrath considered a byproduct of intimacy
as is the occasional impulse to dismantle
everything you've created
and start from scratch
this destruction was followed by a promise to rebuild
to never destroy the same way aga
...gone from us,
it would be like taking a piece of all of us
and throwing it away — Ted Bundy’s mom
The time I was roofied
by an older horse trainer
while chugging malbec, he told me
the blue inside my reddened eyes
was getting [him] so hard.
was willing to touch me or
I was afraid
(the names of all the others
dissolve in tannins)
which is to say
that had he bothered to ask
I would’ve allowed him
to get all up in this
or at least
I would’ve allowed him
to swallow these future scientists.
Instead, he didn’t ask
so I fell asleep
at the wheel
as is customary.
I hit a pine
by being poked
by a cop
who I would’ve sucked wholly,
pre-dash cam style,
for a blanket.
So there’s that
and the extinction
of tree kangaroos,
not nearly as predictable
as the cruelties
of our imagination
when we wish to get wet.
With lyrical malevolence, Serafina Bersonsage chronicles the evolution and dissolution of a literary critic-cum-storybook villain. Frustrated with the Midwest, the titular witch flees a small town for the even smaller world of academia, where she develops a crush on a dead poet and has a date in a psych ward and renames herself at a rest stop Starbucks, before venturing deep into the woods.
These poems pair well with poisoned apples and a full-bodied red.
SMALL TOWN WITCH
Well before I cast a spell
they made a witch of me
an only child in a school of sisters
a wannabe Catholic turned heretic
a lonely prodigy
so my teacher said
staring down my shirt.
I was a witch every Halloween
but a vampire in first grade
on a random bored Tuesday, when I started
that particular rumor and caused a panic.
Two children were inconsolable;
the principal, furious.
My mother just poured more wine.
I started learning languages —
serpiente — and was curious
about Communion, and couldn’t wait
to taste —
My mother taught me early about palindromes
in this our Salem
where the schoolyard held my gallows, where I flew so that I would not swing.
Dr. Walter Moore (BA, MFA, Ph.D.)—lauded bard who teaches in the School of Writing, Literature, and Film at Oregon State University—presents this dive bar book of guttural knowledge. Set in rural Indiana and urban Washington (some Texas too), these are “tween” poems for the everyperson. Poems that celebrate the all-but-forgotten beautifuls . . . an awards ceremony that offers saint statues to degenerates.
The physical book you'll hold in your hand will be made in a factory. Mostly by machines. No letterpress printing on artisan paper folded and hand-sewn and personal. No— the book will be printed by machines— collated, glued, and bound by other machines— spat out onto a conveyor and slid to the end of some line in some factory somewhere, fast, efficient and cost-effective.
But consider that in some warehouse in—I don’t know, Cincinnati—there’s a forklift operator loading 2-ton pallets of paper with his hi-low into the back of a semi-trailer, just trying to get through his shift so he can get to the bar and drink away the knowledge that his grown kids still hate him because he drinks too much. There will be a shadow of that man in the book.
Consider the inside of your brain a forest. Every day you plant a new row of trees. You're growing, see?
You're busy gathering, so busy planting, and you love it, but it's dirty work. You go to bed every night with a sore back, swollen knees. It's hard work but you love it. It's your brain, after all, the home you're stuck with.
One day you step back to survey the forest. You expect all your hard work to make straight lines and strong branches and growth worth celebrating, but instead there is catastrophe. There are only misshapen twisted trunks growing sideways instead of up, leaf-less branches that can't find the sun, and rot that runs down to the roots.
So you set the whole thing on fire and start over.
I was standing
(You were there)
Then I fell down
there was no reason
to have fallen
except there was
I broke my leg
I was standing
then I fell
no one could fathom
how taking one step
could shatter me into pieces
(don't lose your head
it is ok if you die)
the doctor said I would break
bones the rest of my life
17 so far
I might never forgive
a broken promise
(my mother said:
“You never did know
when to shut your mouth”)
my aunt told me
he killed himself
to spite me
My Father was both
David and Goliath
I call her my love, my angel,
my Kansas City star,
she tells me she can’t get dressed today,
her crown broke then she changes
her dress twice
to get that perfect twirl
when spinning around
hair in wispy pig tails,
insisting on my violet perfume
to make her just perfectly ready.
She sits on my lap and she knows,
today she goes back home,
she holds her locket with my picture
in the silver hollow hue,
and says whenever I open this
you are telling me that you love me,
and then she cries when I suggest
clasping the heart,
I don’t want you to stop loving me.
The book you'll soon be holding is a charred reminder of who you used to be, when you’d connect the stars in the night sky with your toxic fingers, hazily charting your life path with shitty decisions and hashtag hallelujahs, tracing your chalk outline on a full cold moon, when you’d take some dead man’s grill lighter and burn holes in the only people who love you.
It's a bombed out church where the only people praying look like mounds of oil-slicked snow, where they smell like rotten tacos on a boozy Saturday night, a sacred place where prayer sounds like a first-generation iPod screaming back to life and all we’re trying to do is push through the constant smoke, a chain gang of dirty souls in Purgatory still striving to do better.
These poems travel from the dark places the poets have been, to the love of some of the many people who’ve got them out of them. They dance across the spine of the book spanning a correspondence between the two poets. It reminds us all to put the pungent and sweet things in life where we can appreciate them, our mouths.
Earthworms & Stars was the first book in Spartan Press's POP Poetry Series, which put out one book of poetry EVERY month for 36 consecutive months by Kansas City locals and regional friends. Jeanette Powers was co-conspirator for the project as well as first release. her feral poetry is sweet as the dried possum blood on your dogs face. she currently writing novels in the wilderness.
Beautiful & Abominable was the 4th book in the POP Poetry Series, and Ezhno's first taste of book-selling. as taste's often do, this quickly led to addiction, and EMP was created as a chapbook press stop-gap quasi-suboxone fidget-spinner for tales of duende. Ezhno's poetry is both poignant and patently offensive with a soft wood rotting and fermenting underbelly of love and loyalty. as Editor In Chief of EMP, Ezhno's dream is to live in a van that settles down by the side of a different river every night.
Jason Ryberg's Spartan Press births more books than an Irish Catholic family, and this is in no small part due to Jason's legendary virility.
the love poems contained are but a few of thousands written between fanning him with palm fronds.
join Jason for an adventurous and spell-binding romp through the world of purple wizards and neon-bright exceptionalisms. this book bends traditional design, including drawings, lined paper, appendices, and more unique surprises. Preu brings a light-heart and joyous nature to both playful and serious poems.
This small and incisive selection of new works is Iris's fourth book of poems and assays the experience of a modern woman through the lenses of mother and daughterhood. The poems are wry, ascerbic, and full of the signature existentialist humor of the author.
Damian and Ezhno live across the country from each other and both work dead end night jobs. every morning, they stare at the same rising sun and contemplate martyrdom for causes they haven’t found yet. they almost – but not quite – want to switch places. Ezhno is from New York, but is stuck in Kansas City, and craves the chaos that mirrors sanity. Damian has never been able to escape New Jersey, but has his sights set on Kansas City and bills he can afford to pay. they are lost souls who have lost most of what they’ve ever loved – this has pushed Ezhno into lunacy. they want to find purity like they think they used to have. they want to find a home that feels like it. They want to find a way to make the past stop kneeing them in the groin. they probably won’t find it, but they’re looking. all that’s for certain is that you’ve found them. it’s very important to Damian that you remember his name.
a slick sharp poetry split with enough punk rock swagger to make Puma Pearl proud, and sufficiently sweet to have even Elvis swooning. two sides of a coin mixing fatalism and fantasy with the fantastic and defective.
'what sits between my veins’ is a look into the most broken parts of Samantha Slupski, but it is also how she is mending those broken parts. Samantha has always struggled with feelings of abandonment and loneliness, and writing this book was a way to be okay with existing and holding all of that pain. along with her own healing, she recognizes that we all have emotions that are real and valid. she hopes her book is a tool for people to recognize that they are in no way alone in this world, and that although existing can be hard, there is someone also going through that pain who is existing alongside them. she wants this book to be a reminder that no one is alone. and existing is okay and necessary.
Sharon highlights and exposes the homeless problem in affluent American suburbs by photographing and interviewing displaced individuals in her hometown of Olathe, Kansas, a wealthy suburb of Kansas City. this riveting book includes hand-written essays by Rodriguez which recount the stories told by her subjects. this two year project began as part of Rodriguez' ongoing artistic interest in marginalized communities and has been featured as part of the Johnson County Library sequence "Bear Witness" which explores art as activism. her exhibition was entitled "Shining the Light on the Homeless of Johnson County." this book is the culmination of that gallery exhibit.