Saturday, April 21, 2018

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Day 19: "Apology for Apostasy?" by Etheridge Knight

Day 19 of 30 Days of The Five-Two is dedicated to Etheridge Knight, who was born April 19, 1931.

His poem, "Apology for Apostasy?", archived at the Poetry Foundation website, contrasts yesterday's poem, in which Rita Dove employed sun and moon imagery.

Knight's poem asserts, "The night is full / Of buggers and bastards; no moon or stars / Light the sky."

To confront the wrongs of its time, poetry cannot be "soft songs" or "candy," though the speaker does long for "peacetime, when my voice shall be light, / Like down," returning to its gentler nature.

—Gerald So

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Day 18: "Trans-" by Rita Dove

For Day 18 of 30 Days of The Five-Two, another of the poems I turned up searching "crime" at the Academy of American Poets website.

Rita Dove's 2015 poem "Trans-" clearly alludes to gender issues. Not only have these issues rightly challenged the law, but the poem also features the image of the moon, the long association of night and crime.

The first stanza:

The moon is in doubt
over whether to be
a man or a woman.

and the third:

He’s belligerent. She’s in a funk.
When he fades, the world teeters.
When she burgeons, crime blossoms.

Indeed the poem is about our most uncertain times, our times of transition.

—Gerald So

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Day 17: "A Winter Without Snow" by J.D. McClatchy

I chose today's 30 Days of The Five-Two poem wistfully as the third or fourth Nor'easter in three March weeks howled out my window, bringing six or eight or twelve inches of the white stuff with it.

Until then, we'd had a mild winter, and I could relate to the look McClatchy assigns the sky to open "A Winter Without Snow", "That wry look of accomplished conspiracy, / The look of those who've gotten away // With a petty but regular white collar crime."

Later tercets liken the feelings of someone who has relocated to escape the snow to the guilt of someone who's cheated on "a cold sickly wife".

Coincidentally, J.D. McClatchy died a week ago from cancer, aged 72. As with Jackie Sheeler, I'm glad to memorialize him with this entry.

—Gerald So

Monday, April 16, 2018

John Dorroh


Not that my kiss would have made her
a better person—or a better poet—but it
might have prevented me from making one
more person hate my guts for wanting to have sex.

It was late—or early—
however you want to
see it, and we had just
come in from an acoustic
set down in the Village.
Her apartment had no
heat. She begged to
come home with me
to stay warm
for just one night. (That's
how it starts. Just one night.)
I said yes. She brought a
small bag that she had
stashed under the bar
where her friend Joe
was making watered-down
drinks and stealing tips
from his fellow servers.

We fidgeted in the bed.
She rolled toward my face
and I felt like I was gonna
smother, and then I rolled
away, and then we ended
up belly-to-belly. We said
"What the fuck?" And we
did. We fell asleep. The body
heat was nice. She started
crying at 4:00 a.m. and I told
her to get up and go to the
kitchen. "Make coffee and
cry in there. I don't get it."

I didn't hear another peep.
Got up at seven when the
garbage trucks started clink-
ing-clanking their metal parts.
Went into the kitchen and
found her with her head
down on the table. There
was a poem scribbled on
a pad. It mentioned me
and none of it good. I checked
her pulse. She was more than asleep.

911 took her away and told
me not to go anywhere. I sat
in the living room and watched
the CBS news. I didn’t hear
what the reporters’ lips
were saying. My coffee was cold.

My cell broke the silence at 9:30. They asked me
to come to the precinct for questioning. I asked if I was
a suspect and they said, "...well, maybe... she has a poem
in her pocket that says you were jealous of some guy named Joe
...that she's stolen your credit cards and that you were going
to make her pay one way or another…you know anything
about that?"

John reads "Anatomy of a Good Thing Gone Bad"

Subscribe to Channel 52 for first view of new videos.

John confesses: "I was gift-shopping in a book store and picked up a copy of The People Look Like Flowers at Last by Charles Bukowski. Before I knew it, I had read half the book and felt obligated to buy it. I loved his style and attempted to write a few poems that channeled his essence."

The verdict is still out whether JOHN DORROH taught any high school science, but he showed up every morning at 6:45 for a couple of decades with at least two lesson plans in his briefcase. His poetry has appeared in Dime Show Review, Suisun Valley Review, Sic Lit, Walk Write-up, Poetry Breakfast, Indigent Press, and others. He has also had a bit of luck with short fiction with his book 99 Words.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Day 15: Jackie Sheeler Praise Day

I was saddened to learn yesterday of the late March passing of Lineup and Five-Two contributor Jackie Sheeler.

Today the Bowery Poetry Club is hosting Jackie Sheeler Praise Day. Allow me to join in virtually with Jackie's January 30, 2012 Five-Two poem, "Lt. Machine".

Also, Jackie memorably read two poems for the second Lineup episode of Seth Harwood's CrimeWAV podcast:

Here is the full 30 Days of The Five-Two schedule.

—Gerald So