REVIEW: ON THE EDGE OF A VERY SMALL TOWN – MARK JACKLEY

ON THE EDGE OF A VERY SMALL TOWN: Poems Old & New

By Mark Jackley (2016)

 

Last night I read Mark Jackley’s new poetry collection ON THE EDGE OF A VERY SMALL TOWN, and this morning I’m anxious to bolster its popularity. I really appreciate Jackley’s pace, brevity, confidence and unassuming style.

I read the book in one sitting and that’s important. It means I didn’t get bored, but instead got held in a friendly way, in an intimacy of distance where anything can be said. The poems are short, seemingly simple and usually expansive. There’s lots of white space and I was flipping pages like a champ which was fun. Remember flying through a book of poems that’s just deep enough to keep your critical mind engaged, but just light enough to be relaxing and palliative? Reading ON THE EDGE OF A VERY SMALL TOWN was like that for me.

The images are clear and uncluttered; for example, his poem “Happiness” starts here: Sometimes it rises quietly / like water in the basement. I like how he draws our attention to the sound of the water that may soften something / you’ve lugged around for years. Also, what a satisfying defamiliarization of happiness that the first two lines provide. Are you happy when your basement floods? Jackley’s speaker is and that’s refreshing.

John Hartford used to say that style is based on limitations. Jackley is confident enough to cut the pretension from these poems. Isn’t this the type of poetry we need now when elitism is under attack? This kind of verse that invites you in and holds you, and bears witness to a poet on the very edge of a small town?

If you would like your own copy of Mark Jackley’s new poetry collection ON THE EDGE OF A VERY SMALL TOWN, all you have to do is email the author at chineseplums@gmail.com and ask for one.

~

Review by Jim Thompson

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POETRY: ERREN KELLY – Vin’s Last Game

Vin’s Last Game

no rat pack or elvis
just vin scully calling the dodger’s game
and like kofuax’s fastball, down the pike
vin’s delivery is smooth as silk
through your transistor radio
leave the pyrotechnics to the other guys
you’re thinking, he calls it like he sees it
and vin’s voice follows you like an old friend
as crew cuts gave way to long hair down
to your ass and dylan and hendrix
and santana, you listened to vin’s delivery
while doing volunteer work at glide church
in san francisco
vietnam was no place for you
but nobody wanted to go then!
you couldnt always keep your daughter
from the losers in the world
but vin’s voice, calling hank aaron’s 714
or kirk gibson’s world series game winning home run
was like watching picasso create a masterpiece
now, youre winter, but the revolutionary fire still
burns, bernie sanders still convinces you
you can save the world
Vin scully’s voice floats effortlessly like the boats
on the water

For Vin Scully and Paul Kleyman

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POETRY: Chuck Von Nordheim – SELF-PORTRAIT #6

Self-Portrait #6

Escape from Sierra
Elementary poses
impossibilities his
ten-year-old brain can’t solve.
Scotty could beam him up
if the Starship Enterprise
orbited his warp-less Earth,
but Gene Roddenberry
shoved whirring teleporters
beyond this fifth-grader’s
Carter time frame, past supermen
power grabs, past nuke exchanges.
So he endures taunts spewed
about his fake Spock ears,
not to mention upside
down insertions into
reeking trashcans and toilets.

Stained clothes washing, aggie
patterned planets beckon him
5pm each weekday on
KCOP 13.

No phasers would he wield
against thugs if he boldly went.
Easing school strife with pale
bursts of quick molecular
evaporation might solve
detergent supply issues—
fewer bullies at large
equaled fewer dunkings
equaled fewer Maytag loads—
but followers of Surak
let logical awareness
frost hot first intentions.
Self-scrutiny reveals this:
his tormentors split his mind
worse than the two-body
bifurcation of Kirk
in the “Enemy Within.”

He hates them. He loves them.
A real Vulcan could meld two
minds and learn what secret words
tamed middle school monsters.

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POETRY: FRANK MODICA – GRANDPA’S DEATH WATCH

Grandpa’s Death Watch

Grandma and Grandpa
inhabited their tenement
like two distant countries.
Grandma cooked and
cleaned in the kitchen,

Grandpa lounged in his smoker’s
chair wedged behind
the dining room table. They
slept in separate bedrooms,
framed pictures of Jesus

leaned back to back on the
wall between them. For
fifty years they kneaded
their secrets into loaves
of tall, crusty bread,

hid them behind white
porcelain shaving mugs.
“Charlie was not my first love,”
Grandma whispered to me
as I drove her to the hospital.

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POETRY: ROBIN WYATT DUNN – GRIEF RUN

Grief Run

One love
Jah love
Jonestown massacre loving my soul
there is no kool aid but down
and down isn’t real either
underneath my soul
there is a freeway
it is a Los Angeles freeway
heading from Pasadena
down to downtown
and into heaven
where I was born

Heaven is a place in Los Angeles
on fire
with lots of devils
and lots of rock music and pretty girls
where the wave is the universe
blasting your head off like a shotgun
under the roar of fascist music
in my life love and heart
where the grief runs lower than a 60 nanosecond jack
on some car of the future
ripping me into orbit

~

Visit Robin Wyatt Dun online.

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POETRY: F. RICHARD THOMAS – THESE DAYS

These Days

I think its time
to go to the woods again,

away from clash and roar
of politics and war.

Perhaps I could even suffer ticks,
mosquitoes, and black flies,

sit around a campfire,
naked,

forget about obituaries
and my Roth IRA,

drink Pabst Blue Ribbon
and toke weed,

wasted
on what it’s like

to be fearless, careless,
young again,

before the uniforms arrive.

~

Read a review of Dick’s new poetry collection Once In A Lifetime.

Check out F. Richard Thomas Amazon Author’s page.

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POETRY: Mark J. Mitchell – Stranger Dance

Stranger Dance

He watched her back a long time. Her soft sway
kept slow time steadily, his metronome.
Her elastic music measured his day.

Not a dancing creature, his mother would say,
he herked and jerked stiff as a moon
clock. Her soft back was long, a controlled sway

was her weapon of choice. She liked to play
roles: child, temptress, wayward wife whose next home
was elastic as music. All working days

bored her. His hot gaze was modeling clay
her cool hands enjoyed. He lived on his own.
She watched him back. The swift time held soft sway

over each of his steps. Her eyes delayed
his dreaming self and her diva mask loaned
him elastic music. He measured days—

rationing them. He was trying to save
her like coins but knew she’d remain unknown.
He watched her, lost in time, her soft sway
stretched musically through his measured days.

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POETRY: David Eves – To Hachijō Island in October

To Hachijō Island in October

We look out at you

split into your full

figure-of-eight shape

and we think

it’ll pour here or it won’t

there’ll be food for us

or we’ll rumble up at

the full-bellied clouds

we’ll find a bed

or we’ll sit up

counting the stars

that float

like candles

upon the Philippine sea

 

Hachijōjima I

think I’ll halve you

at your waist

and fold your

two peaks into

a ball as warped

and cragged as

the earth itself

then I’ll roll you

back to Tokyo

(pouting, probably

heavy with

smoked grey)

and leave

you soaking

in the harbour, dyeing

the gunmetal water

the dark green

of your many

maybes

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POETRY: Abigale Louise LeCavalier – BIONIC JUST THE SAME

Bionic Just The Same

I pulled a nail
out of my head
the other day,
more out of anger
than in a panic,
it’s a real bitch
being bionic.

I’ve taken a knife
to my womanhood
in front of the world,
I know pain
and I have been dead
before.

I know what it’s like being dead.

That scares an audience;
that and being a man-made
Xanax-cyborg.

Mulling around in my afterbirth
looking out of my one good eye,
feeling my way through life tragic,
picking metal shavings from my own vomit.

So melodramatic!
So VERY punk rock!

Eh, the ruminations
of a tired poet,
reality of dinner for one
and horrible coping skills;
it’s made me the woman I am today.

Bionic just the same.

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POETRY: Philip Rafferty – FANTOMAS

Fantomas

The baby is crying.
We are all alone.
She is Fantomas
And we don’t
Know what to do.

Last time I was here
They didn’t give me
A paper cap.
But the guard offers us three
And I put them on us.
I feel Napoleonic.

Fantomas is inconsolable.
She wants to face out.
So I carry her
Past the guns and armor.
The Grand Palais was closed again
And so we are here amongst the arms.

You are interested
In how a world war starts.
I never knew you to care before.
History is hard, you say to her.
But what you don’t say is
Because the future is not just ours.

How can cities be taken?
You search with a mother’s concern,
Work to build a cursory understanding of
What to fear in the coming years?
You look for signs as I pace
Rocking the baby to sleep.

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