Monday, February 20, 2017

Hypothetically Speaking By M.K. Sukach

Hypothetically Speaking
By M.K. Sukach
Encircle Publications, LLC
Farmington, Maine
28 Pages

Review by Dennis Daly

Just sayin. Apocalypse by Raptors. Toasting Death. Scatological Pledge. Hell’s Bill. Mindless Breathing. Cataclysmic Ponder. Robotic Hearts. Just sayin.

Poems of wrath and dire suppositions dare us to awaken and live darkly in Hypothetically Speaking, M.K. Sukach’s new collection of fractured visions. This poet knows how to destroy with graven logic and malefic lyric. Never close enough for out- -and-out rage, Sukach sets up his alternate universes with a dastardly sharp and shifting wit, enticing us down some pretty idiosyncratic narrative paths.

The book’s opening piece, Abaddon, damns hypocritical politicians and their financial enablers to hell. Niceties of detail abound. Connections to reality are alluded to. Brood on these lines for a moment,

they moaned as lobbyists were crushed
under oaken tables adorned with feathered quills
and hand-lathed legs broken at the knees, sir, my oath
we didn’t pass the bill, filibustered over tee-time deals,
last one then two then three uncapped their pens
and signed each other with love, I raise you, so help me
god, I raise you, as the nave cracked from bow to stern,
the conclave turned as moths to a light to cross their bodies,
in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti, so nakedly
were they decended upon by raptors and it was done.

In The Little Book of Anxieties Sukach deals with life’s concerns through art. Needless to say, his little poetic book, burning with passion and a blinding insight, tries the physical faculties of the reader beyond both critical and painful misjudgments. The poem begins in a blaze,

If all the pages are on fire,
well then, that’s a difficulty,

but you can’t read it
otherwise, e.g., each

gracile nerve ending
sprained at the fingertip,

which pressed to the tongue
returns to the book

by rote, just suffers and suffers
no matter the healing


Through the very strange prism of a frog dissection, Sukach, in his poem entitled Formaldehyde, eyes the messiness of human emotion and the first stirrings of love. Maybe not so strange. The teenage years with trial and error, unseemly moments and hand-wringing shame certainly seemed like a frog dissection, come to think of it. Biology lab conveyed a lot,

Glossy gardens of urogenital systems,
Wet blossoms and what the cloaca does,
Pages of diagnostic manuals turning
Silent as a novice’s prayer book at night;
One of us forgets and licks his index
Finger, dollops of saliva, room of laughter
Chalked up to digestive compulsion to name
Unnamable, unspeakable amphibian things:
Vena Cava, Spermatic Canal, Dorsal Aorta,
Yuck of frog sex, Jeanie’s first kiss, mutely waiting

Sukach’s piece, Porno Star as CIA Operative, accurately comments on two professions. For both the star and the operative cover is everything. An allusion to “Leave It to Beaver” works diabolically well. The poet describes the scenario,

It’s all a bit of tradecraft, really, uncanny
Cunning, the way she was always leaving
Arriving so easily, so imperceptibly made up
There were never any clouds in her afternoons
Weird like June Cleaver always gardening in her pearls
So perfectly cartoonish like politics and porn
A “plumber” arrives but her pipes are never fixed
Really, how many of us ever made it whining about the rules

What a great last line. What a profound eternal truth.

Wakes puzzle together the “Loved One,” each relative adding a piece to be pushed in to place. A mosaic obit. Sukach’s poem Quotient does this. The restored life reeks with hyperbole or wit or tut tuts. Illusion can capture the truth, which skipped out on flesh and blood. Understatement spreads with the vigor of the nod, always knowing. The poet concludes the piece in search of a lubricant,

the aunt
who “availed” herself
was “apparently” and often
intimate” but left
no “offspring”
yet so “colorful”
remarks in passing
uncles reappearing
from rooms and closets
into the whole
contemplative portrait
looking for more booze

I’m all for starting at the beginning, at a conjured childhood. That is why Sukach’s piece A is for Apple pleases me so much. Continuing the story from its onset the poet’s protagonist finds his way through life’s thicket, following a zigzag “remedial’ path. He recognizes his shortcomings here,

A is for aphasic and anomia. So I write
with a dictionary and cheat through (a) thesaurus
because A is for ambiguous and amphigory.
A is a grade and grade A is aleatory.
With any luck no one will mark you a “B”
then cart you off to an institution
with all the other crack ups
muttering A is for Effort.
Red-eyed zombies downing Starbucks coffee at Reagan National take center stage in Sukach’s poem of inconsolable patterns, Crossword. The poet, connecting the dots, quotes Aristotle, “No matter where you go there you are.” Muttered opprobrium rules the day. Cue the flight attendants,

who instruct us
on how to save ourselves with flotation devices,
those silly cups of oxygen that drop and dangle
just before the plane broadsides into a mountain,
smile antiseptically as if everything is okay
and complementary and for our own good

Just sayin. Abrupt Ends. Ditch Drunk. Pearl Onions Forked. Scaled Back Compassion. Chum Frenzy. Labyrinthine Sewer. Piggyback Conspiracies. Just sayin.

Put down the sparklers and read this damn book.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Sunday Poet: Nina R. Alonso


  Nina Rubinstein Alonso, editor of Constellations, has published in Ploughshares, The New Yorker, Sumac, Avatar, Women-Poems, U. Mass. Review, and New Boston Review, among other places, and her first book This Body was printed by Godine Press.She taught English literature at Brandeis University and U. Mass., Boston, while continuing training in ballet and exploring modern dance.Saturated with academia, she taught at Boston Ballet for eleven years, and performed in their Nutcracker, until sidelined by injuries. She makes her living teaching at Fresh Pond Ballet in Cambridge, MA. She says, “Now is the time for fresh voices in poetry and fiction. I’m looking for a new constellation.


The tall man unfolds
a cloth and spreads it 
like a bed on icy ground
he says, “Lie here
and I will come to you.”

his face is shaded
by something inside him
an echo a warning
and I hold myself apart
because the cloth is

too much like a sheet
too much like a grave
too much like death
and nothing like
my beloved
who doesn’t have  
a shadow face
or cloud blank eyes

I walk away slowly
while he stands there
gesturing as if
to a warm soft place
sprinkled with roses
but I know he will
wrap me in bitterness
fold that last piece
over my face

--Nina R. Alonso

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

8th Annual Jewish Poetry Festival at Temple Sinai, Brookline, MA


2017 JEWISH POETRY FESTIVAL                   
Contact:  Deborah Leipziger, Curator                                    
Phone: 617-997-2701

8th Annual Jewish Poetry Festival at Temple Sinai, Brookline, MA
Sunday, March 5 from 2:00 to 4:00 P.M.

   Deborah Leipziger, curator of the 8th Annual Jewish Poetry Festival, announced the event will take place Sunday, March 5 from 2-4 p.m. at Temple Sinai, 50 Sewall Avenue, Brookline, MA.

   Founded by Ms. Leipziger the Jewish Poetry Festival brings together Jewish poets as well as non-Jewish poets who write on Jewish subjects.
   Ms. Leipziger said, “Now in its eighth year the Jewish Poetry Festival has grown beyond Brookline’s borders and is a welcoming venue for not only our feature poets, but also for many people both Jewish and non-Jewish who have written poems on the central themes of family, community and Jewish life.  All are welcome to attend and to read their poetic work”

   This year’s featured poet is Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, named in 2016 by the “Forward,” a national Jewish newspaper as one of America’s Most Inspiring Rabbis.  Ordained by ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal in 2011, she is the author of four book-length collections of poetry as well as several poetry chapbooks.
   Since 2003 she has blogged as The Velveteen Rabbi and in 2008, TIME named her blog one of the top 25 sites on the Internet.  Her work has appeared in numerous online and print media.

   Rabbi Barenblat serves as spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Israel in western Massachusetts, which is affiliated with the Reform movement and is also part of the ALEPH network.  Since the spring of 2016 she has been interim Jewish chaplain to Williams College.
   Following Rabbi Barenblat’s reading there will be an open mic for people to read an original poem on the themes of family, community or Jewish life.  Open mic readers may sign up at the entrance.
   Master of Ceremonies for Festival is Professor Larry Lowenthal.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

THE SUNDAY POET: Robert Cooperman

Robert Cooperman


Robert Cooperman's latest collection is JUST DRIVE (Brick Road Poetry Press).  Forthcoming in 2017 are DRAFT BOARD BLUES (FutureCycle Press) and CITY HAT FRAME FACTORY (Aldrich Press).  Cooperman has had work in MISSISSIPPI REVIEW, THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW, and THE CLASSICAL OUTLOOK

The Best He Could

“I did the best I could with what I had.”—Joe Louis, upon his retirement from boxing

He did the best he could with what he had,
which should be the motto for all of us,
though too often I’ve settled for, “Not bad,”

and made excuses, which is just so sad.
But at least I’m not puffed up and pompous,
though I wish I’d done better with what I had.

Not enough to have rarely been a cad,
since all too often I cringed, a wuss,
not the hero I wanted to be, just not bad.

Not great, nor a beast like Impaler Vlad,
though sometimes I’ve been downright ludicrous,
not someone who did his best with what he had,

often a trial to my poor mom and dad,
and the neighbors were always suspicious,
though I was rarely plain nasty and bad,

and not much attracted to chasing fads.
Still, I wish I’d been more like Joe Louis,
who did the best he could with what he had
and never, never settled for, “Not bad.”