Set in coastal California, The Loss Detector is a funny/sad portrait of teenage blues and of a small, transplanted family of non-conformists. The flawed but lovable characters in Pokrass' novella remind us of how the world's most beautiful places are not always the easiest in which to thrive. Moments of giddy, perceived freedom set against resignation dot the narrative in such a way that will leave you changed.
Life, Orange to Pear follows a man and his daughter Cyndi as they deal with life, the occult, Santa Claus, boys, and death. This universe is a strange and rich place, and sometimes it takes booze and a surreal understanding of sex and The Rockford Files to get through life. Mostly though what it takes is a deep and abiding love for the richness of oranges and pears, how their scent can take you over and make everything in the moment all right.
Five Ghost Stories is a collection of five meditations on isolation and absence, each with an abstract connection to the ghost towns that were quickly built in all of our hollowed-out cities over 2020. These stories drive through these new spaces in first gear, flash lighting, searching. Survivors carry those lost within them, in their rib cage, in their heart. Here are five ghost stories, the first one before you and the other four memorized by heart and waiting in their chambers.
In the New England town of Narrow Interior, 15 year old cancer survivor Gomer Faithcutt prepares for the practical Junior Life Saving Test while exploring both his own sexuality and the spectral secrets of a forgotten religious sect that once flourished in the town. As his father worries about his son’s health, Gomer learns about desire, friendship, and self-preservation. He glimpses who he can become because of (or despite?) his parents and forges a surprising connection with a mysterious neighbor.
Purgatory Has an Address is a dream state woven of origin myths, it is the search for birth parents; and it is the sober reality of living in a beautiful, pungent, red-lined neighborhood. Washington’s collection of poems speaks to the powerful desire to belong and be in community. It is an homage to the rugged determination of tumbleweeds and an encouragement to keep asking questions even if the answers do not magically appear.
In these mini memoirs, Peter Cherches revisits musical experiences, pleasures, and obsessions that have punctuated his life. A singer and lyricist as well as “one of the innovators of the short short story” (Publishers Weekly), Cherches writes here from the perspective of a voracious listener for whom music is a constant companion. Whether reminiscing about the joys of musical discovery or paying tribute to musicians who have inspired him, Cherches shares his passions with verve and wit. From an early baptism in Beatlemania, to adolescent encounters with free jazz, to expeditions for local musical treasures around the world, this collection of singles in prose is a testament to the sustaining power of music in our lives.
For playlists (Spotify and YouTube) as well as other links, please visit cherches-tracks.blogspot.com
In Every Bend, Gail Butensky's photography from a variety of colorful venues is on display, as are intimate photos the artist shot outside of the music scene that she has documented for decades. Every Bend is a collection of photographs sequenced by Butensky to resemble a road trip with diary entries for each encampment that is presented here. A fascinating journey and a feast for the eyes.
In April 1983, Upland High School senior Anna Marie Bachoc was brutally murdered by her boyfriend, sending waves of shock and disbelief through the quiet city that had branded itself “the city of gracious living.” 17 & Life is a meditation on her life, the life that might have been, and the loss that still haunts the community three decades on.
Each of the black boxes contains white pages, typed, one or two pages each, stapled at the top left corner. 300-500 word stories; all quite true, unfortunately. These are poetics of chaos. These are the stories I said I’d never write. The kind of stories, once heard, you can’t erase from your mind. Scenes you wish you’d never seen. Sensations you wish never to feel again. When I began writing, photography, and painting, I adopted what is rightly or wrongly termed the Hippocratic Oath that medical people are bound by: simply, do no harm. I’ve held these stories back.
“Words Become Ashes — An Offering” takes you on a pilgrimage in tunnels, on the ground, and above with mole, Changing Woman, polar bear, whale, and moon. Join an outsider on a journey, but not alone under Waning Quarter Moon with the protection of wolf. Tear out dead leaves and listens to the vibrations of the river. When the door seems closed of loss, letting go, and finding wisdom, “ashen trauma transmutes into music” in these ritual songs. Much for you to discover in the elements, layers, and textures of fiber art and poetry collaged together.
False Memories of a Cape Cod Clam Shack is a collection of notes, poems, past blog posts, and lyrics that explore the playful morbidities associated with daily existence. The writings will bring you into crematoriums where groceries are incinerated as well as caves full of dead NPR reporters. Witch babies align with black ops interlopers and reservoirs are filled with sentient brown trout and Irish estrogen. Blatant truths and foolish rhymes dance together throughout this collection, affording the reader to either accept the performance or move forward in horror.
The chapbook Portrait of a Deputy Public Defender (or how I became a punk rock lawyer) by Juanita E. Mantz, Esq. is a multi-genre chapbook containing memoir pieces, social justice essays and poetry. It describes the author’s love of punk rock and her quest to challenge the system of mass incarceration as a deputy public defender and the intersection between punk rock and public defense.
In this chapbook, explore three worlds in which three brave women push against the external structures of their strange worlds that almost work the same way as ours. Not all is as it seems but courage, wonder, and preservation abound.
The 909 is a sci-fi script for a movie set in the near-future and taking the form of a reality documentary. The plot centers on a group of people who discuss the implications of “The Mesh”, the technology that replaced the ’Net. Conspiracies, intrigue, and good old-fashioned camaraderie occupy these characters’ thoughts as they try to retain a sense of individuality in an increasingly watchful society.
Wild Embrace is a collection of poetry written by Tim Hatch (a damaged-but-resilient child abuse survivor) that explores themes of abuse, fragility, and our human obligation to one another.
A privileged bird leads a sheltered life of slow decline while the birds in the village work hard to improve their lot.
In the spring of 2020, shortly after he had started wearing a face mask outside his home, Peter Cherches began writing about masks, literally the face of COVID-19. These 16 stories, written between April and December of that year, capture the surreal experience of living through a global pandemic and all its attendant challenges—personal, political, and social. This small volume is both a mask-muffled cry and a full-throated belly laugh. Reactions are to be expected, and are no cause for concern.
Victor Gastelum, known for the artwork he did for numerous Calexico releases, branches out with his first collection of abstract images. Robert Vodicka, former label manager at New Alliance Records, wrote the text. Gastelum and Vodicka used chance procedures to match the specific images to the text. The book also features an interview with Gastelum and Vodicka, conducted by Dennis Callaci of Bamboo Dart Press and Shrimper Records.
God in a Can is a collection of flash and micro fictions that looks at life through a surreal, and often humorous lens, at various societal behaviors, perceptions at a slant, and unusual scenarios. Paradoxically, the underpinnings, at the core, can be very real in the way the stories explore how we live, struggle to live, and hope to.
The poems in Novel are what happen when you teach a cat to type. They will lead you across a bridge made of bread, through a door in the forest, to a paddock containing stories. They will tell you that it’s not that the dead cannot tie their shoes, they just refuse to. That architects design the elements to withstand the structure. That loose ends are beautiful if not useless. If you’ve picked up this book because you like poems that know where they are going, hurry. Put the book down. You will need to run after them.
In Border/Between: A Symphony in Essays, Carol D. Marsh writes about death, addictions, and war while also exploring how written form and expression have a counterpart in music. Structured upon the 4-movement symphony and incorporating other forms such as the rock song and the Requiem, Border/Between seeks and finds its place in what lies between the sharp and unforgiving edges of ideology and judgment. In refusing to allow borders to govern her, Marsh is able to bring compassion and hope to what seems irredeemable.
In this mini-collection of city/country poems in mostly free verse, Stephanie Barbé Hammer runs in and out of sprinklers in a Manhattan playground, picks up a slug by accident in the Cascades, reads about sequoia on 5th avenue, make an uncomfortable journey to the Hôpital américain in Paris, strolls a surprisingly sensual Geneva Switzerland at 2 am, encounters a mountain lion in Anaheim Hills, boards buses and trains In Los Angeles, and attempts repeatedly to make peace with living in rural Washington State, with the spiritual assistance of Eva Gabor.
Shaun was an accomplished musician, and singer. He started singing and playing the clarinet when he was young, and sang in an a cappella group in Hollywood. I started writing the poems for Missing Shaun because it was my way to get my emotions out, to lay them down on paper, and to try to leave them somewhere safe. These poems were written mostly in the first few moments and days when our emotions were raw, when it was still hard to believe that we had lost him. The last section of poems are a few small letters to you.
In After the Dome Fire, author Ruth Nolan takes readers on an eco-poetic journey through the wilderness of California's Mojave Desert and Southern California, and the work of firefighting and raising a daughter as a single parent in a rough yet nurturing landscape. The poems also evoke a fierce and beautiful "desert" revealed as a vibrant character with its own agency to survive and regenerate from the devastating impacts of wildfires, and remind us all of the power of our desert environment to inspire and regenerate the human spirit.
Lyon Street is a love letter to a perpetually reincarnating city that often fails to remember itself. Reading Lyon Street, says novelist David Scott Ewers, is to imbibe “a San Francisco of the Mind.” This art piece’s linked poems, playing as jazz solos over common changes, evocative artwork, street map design, and playfully archival elements conjure a San Francisco in which past and possibility provocatively entwine. Its poems animate a more dangerous, often tragic, yet truly gentle San Francisco lost, reckon with seismic shifts in this forgetful place, and come to embrace the enduring openness of life at Pacific’s edge.
Like a farmer rotating his crops, Peter Wortsman periodically ploughs words back into the mulch of meaning. Romanian émigré DADA poet Tristran Tzara (aka Samuel Rosenstock, 1896-1963) gave it a name: cut-up (or “découpé” in French). Wortsman reverts to cutups when he's too distracted, depressed, dumbfounded or deranged to write in the regular manner. As the isolation of virtual lockdown during the seemingly interminable Covid-19 pandemic stretches into its third year, Wortsman, a modern-day monk, languishes in the solitude of his cell, longing for meaningful communion. Absent belief in a transcendent being, cutups take the place of prayer.
Do What the Boss Says: Stories of Family and Childhood is a collection of short-short stories exploring the adult-child dynamic. A daughter nervously visits her father who has now become a stranger; a young Irish girl substitutes a cardboard cut-out for her presence within her own family; a naive schoolboy is tricked by a more streetwise passer-by; a child tries to impress her village by breaking the world record for stepping in and out of a doorway. This chapbook offers you a kaleidoscopic view of the pressures, conflicts and joys of childhood and family life: from surreal fables to memoir, to idiosyncratic realism, to ghost stories about weird encounters.
Ann and John Brantingham spent nine summers volunteering and living in a van in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks away from wifi, electricity, plumbing, and anxiety. This experience brought them back to themselves. Kitkitdizzi is their dual memoir, Ann's in graphite drawings and John's in short essays. These summers gave them the time to stop and look and let their minds romp at random without the burden of triaging every moment as they raced through their days. What they found was a balm from the surreality of modern life.
This collection of poems brings Belgium's "painter with words" to a new audience of English poetry readers. Awarded the Order of Leopold II for his cultural work, Willem M. Roggeman is a prolific writer, widely translated around the world. Through active support and guidance from Mr. Roggeman, translator Philippe Ernewein now introduces Roggeman’s fantastic Dutch poetry to the United States with What Only Painters See.
Kissing the Monster Hunter is a book about monster hunters, unseen monsters, perpetual dreamers, and the creatures (human and otherwise) who love them. The unmissable prose poems and micros in this collection thrust us into an alternate reality where hope, love, and intimacy, when gone unrecognized, become a mystical force to be reckoned with.
Because their lifespan is so much shorter than our own, a life with dogs involves repeated lessons in mortality. But there are lessons in love and tender care as well. With them, we have to learn to live in the moment "because a dog doesn’t spill regret throughout the house, doesn’t lurk in a life of guilt and second-guessing." Victoria reflects on the lives of five dogs and how their need for the outdoors helped to create opportunities to repeatedly seize the day. A book for anyone who has ever loved a dog or needs a gift of uplift while grieving the loss of their companion pup.
In Dennis Callaci’s third book, Lost Reflection, the author has assembled seven short stories that are sewn together with characters whose reflections on the past are not to be trusted. Tug at the seams of the book to find the connective tissue—a clone of a character in one story appearing with an assumed name in the next, a reinterpretation of previous events here and again there. Or pay no mind to the lost echo searching eternally.
Born and raised in desert towns hundreds of miles apart, Laura Maher and L.I. Henley found each other through poetry. Ordinary Light traces a correspondence of the growing connections of two strangers, uncovering a shared archeological dig of lost loves, regrets, questions, and other half-buried artifacts of memory. Place, both geological and historical, are at the center of these poems, as are concerns about illness, climate change, gender-based violence, and political unrest.
Four and Twenty Blackbirds is a collection of word portraits of the people, places, and events populating the author's universe. These essays are sometimes feisty, sometimes funny, always tender, and recognizable as deeply human.
Things known and unknown. Story as thing. The soul of things. The essence of narrative. Bare bones. Blind alleys. Unanswered questions. And poems, a few pantoums and haiku too. Forty things by Peter Cherches.
In Tell Me About Yourself, an old man looks back on his time in the East Village in the mid-1970s when he drew pictures of people, mostly tenants in his apartment building, and made the eponymous request to them. The resultant twelve drawings matched with the brief responses make up the greater part of this funny and melancholic work. The drawings, rendered in the men’s room graffiti style, and a rudimentary version of the responses actually were created about fifty years ago.
Presto chronicles the adventures of an employee for a temp agency as he goes out on what often seem like absurd assignments for which he occasionally has to make up the rules as he goes along, improvise. As the sequence deepens, we see this unidentified character in later work situations. His attitude seems unchanged as he deals with the absurdities life throws his way.
Roots, Stones & Baggage is a collection of paintings and poems from Richard Brown Lethem that span over seventy years of his life. Both the poems and the paintings take many stylistic turns that mirror those of his life. Works written and painted in Missouri, Paris, Brooklyn, Maine & California reflect those surrounding sometimes taking flight into the ether and at other turns digging into the core of all things.
Remnants of a Full Moon is a collection of poems that take you on a journey with a daughter, wife, and mother. Many of the poems shine a light on the forgotten and lost, on awkward situations in a dentist chair, or while staring at a painting of a girl stuck in a corner. Beloved pets are also part of the narrative as well as pools that turn green in the summer.
Pliny and Other Problems starts with the problems of ordinary life – a mother’s midlife crisis – and the doings (and undoings) of aging and loss. In the central poems, Pliny the Elder’s life and tome, Natural History, is playfully explored. Pliny mixes Roman mythology with observations of nature, and these poems build little narratives with his bizarre imagery. Nature is instructive and absurd, and the last section, “Supplications,” contemplate the ways it demands our attention and awe. Though life in late-stage capitalism, aka the Anthropocene, is uncertain at best, and catastrophic at worst, it doesn’t mean one cannot find some joy.
"The Beautiful Leaves" by Karen Greenbaum-Maya consists of poems about the diagnosis, illness, and death of the author's beloved husband, and her grief.
Like driftwood, words, phrases and severed sentences come floating by. Part fisherman, part scavenger, I spread my net and rescue these bits of debris from the deep. I can’t say why certain severed statements catch my eye. Floating fragments of meaning, they sparkle and speak to me. And by a peculiar lure beyond my conscious ken, they sometimes come together. The pairings are not always opportune. Some sniff at each other’s nether parts in passing, as dogs do, and promptly part in pursuit of other more enticing scents. But on occasion something clicks. This is my second published assemblage of such felicitous couplings. Some readers may relish the result. If not, just toss it back into the tide.
Euphony: Micro Prose Poems contains works best defined as thoughts, both observational and insightful, expressed in laconic form. The collection delivers the reader through subatomic communiques, electric “jolts of awareness,” about the ever-shifting realm of human emotion and experience—a world both known and exotic. In Euphony over 40 lyrical sketches inspire the reader to thought and inquiry—both familiarly-footed and utterly transcendent—about who we are and why we act as we do.
All That I’m Allowed is a storybook for grownups about learning to live with children and dogs. In this regard most grown people set out to do what’s best for them, to be good examples, trusted companions to dog and child. But often times the lessons we think we are getting across are interpreted very differently by the receivers. All That I’m Allowed is not only a make-believe romp through these poignant and often funny misinterpretations, but it is also a social commentary on coming to grips with a rapidly changing society and how we attempt to make sense of it all.
This book of blackout p▊o▉ems is a mostly lighthearted, occasionally philosophical journey through selected application and rejection materials from the many teaching jobs the author applied for and did not get between 2011 and 2014. None of the materials come from their current employer.
Oh Memory, You Unlocked Cabinet of Amazements! is a paeon to the author’s mid-twentieth century Bronx childhood as the sole offspring of warmly loving—if sometimes provincial, overprotective, or embarrassing—immigrant parents. It is also about the wonder of lifelong memory itself, of how the past continually offers itself up as a field to contemplate, a field of rediscovery and new discovery of one’s native landscape, and of the actions, rituals, and language—with all their redolence and significance—of those long gone whom one still loves.
“The heart is not a metaphor – no, wait – the heart is a metaphor.”
King Daddy’s first volume of poetry for Bamboo Dart Press, Fine in a Minute, follows the author as he attempts to make sense of his life after the loss of his wife and muse of 30 years, Wendrika Thorpe, chronicling his grief and laying bare his fears, regrets and idiosyncrasies. Heartbreaking and hilarious, Fine in a Minute highlights King Daddy’s twisted, erotically-charged yet erudite wit and wisdom, which evokes fever dream poignancy and working-class empathy. From Buddha to bluesmen, Covina to catharsis, Fine in a Minute is an emotionally gripping poetic journey.
The twelfth studio record by Refrigerator expands the line-up to five with the addition of Mark Givens from WCKR SPGT on second guitar. Along for the ride are guest appearances by legendary singer Claudia Lennear (vocals on the first single “Broken Glass Shore”), Shrimper Records stalwart Franklin Bruno, and the additional hand of Scott Solter, who mixed the record, which rests in a gorgeous sleeve with artwork by Jean Smith. The lovely live bleed of a band playing together in one room—guitars spilling onto the drum tracks, cymbals biting into the feedback from the amps—captures the live sound of Refrigerator as never before on record as caught by engineer Steve Folta.
There are two physical versions of the record, one on black 160 gram vinyl, as well as a deluxe edition, available on green and white swirled vinyl that couples a bonus CD with six tracks to a fifty page Bamboo Dart Press chapbook that features drawings, short stories, photographs, lyrics and essays by the band, in an edition of 150 copies.
Horde of Two’s I Knew I was a Rebel Then features a six-song CD and an accompanying chapbook, which includes two intertwined stories on the nature of triumph, defeat and legacy.
Opposite of Shadow, a collaboration between old friends (and former Woods bandmates) Linda Smith (artwork) and Brian Bendlin (writing), is an exploration of place, time, memory, and the natural world. It is the companion book to Brian Bendlin’s music CD 13 Groves.