Saturday, April 14, 2018

Smokey of the Migraines by Michael McInnis

Smokey of the Migraines
by Michael McInnis
Nixes Mate Books
Allston, MA
ISBN  978-0-9993971-2-1
Softbound, 42 pages, $9.95

Review by Zvi A. Sesling

Noir poetry, think Whitey Bulger on the loose, or Mickey Spillane turning to verse and you have just the beginning of Michael McInnis’ page turning poetic endeavor Smokey of the Migraines.

There are a few things you need to know about McInnis’ 43 page-long book. First, it is a single poem.  Second, it is written as if incorporated into the movie Black Mass based on the book of the same name by Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill-- a pair of Boston reporters who followed in the footsteps of two other legendary Boston newspaper men, Harold Banks and Ed Corsetti.  Later,they would write true crime stories for various national magazines. Third, McInnis’ style in this book is fast-paced, almost as if someone added a bump stock to his keyboard. Fourth, there is a cliché that goes “It was so good I couldn’t put it down.”  Well it certainly applies to Smokey of the Migraines.

This poem-story minces no words, be it McInnis’ extensive vocabulary, or the profanity which is liberally spread through the book.  But the best part of the book is the rat-a-tat-tat staccato of the writing:

The migraine takes
Smokey outside
his body
where he exists
far from
the reach
of life,
of love,
beyond the polished
black metal of the
Glock 9 he shoves
in Sully’s mouth,
chipping a tooth

The rest gets more interesting as Smokey’s thoughts are expanded upon and the migraines become as important and crucial as Smokey himself. 

Now throw in some time traveling science fiction:

Smokey don’t notice
he’s lost in the migraine,
time traveling,
to Dealey Plaza
where the sun never sets
for the kind, returned,
for the king
for the king
his boots,
the Book Depository
a new capitol,
and the hundred years
between two
kings and the letters
of their names,
the mountain ranges,
latitudes and
Sic semper tyrannis!
There are visits to Marat’s bath, Trotsky’s home, to Constantinople,  Ojinaga, Shiloh and encounters with Pancho Villa, Mary Shelley, Leif Erickson and many more.   This  isreminiscent of Evan Connell’s Notes From A Bottle Found on the Beach at Carmel in which history and location become intertwined.
Then again like Dashiell Hammett 

The migraine
is a 9 mm
under Smokey’s

The migraine
is the guts
of a burner
phone on the floor.

The migraine
is a whiskey bottle
on the nightstand.

The migraine
is a dream,
a nightmare
This book, this poem, unlike a good Thanksgiving dinner that is slow to savor, proves to be a fast meal, one you want to take in quickly and enjoy all the way down.  

If you enjoy the noir, the criminal element, street language and a great story, this is the book for you. You won’t even realize you are reading poetry.

Author, The Lynching of Leo Frank, Editor, Muddy River Poetry Review

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Monte Carlo Days and Nights By Susan Tepper

Monte Carlo Days and Nights
By Susan Tepper
Rain Mountain Press, 74 pages
ISBN 978-0-9981872-2-8

Review by Steve Glines

In the 1970’s love was easy. That’s a misnomer, sex was easy. It was a period of free love, the pill, and freedom from worry about venereal diseases that weren’t cured by a small handful of pills.
I hitchhiked to a beach on the northern shore of Prince Edwards Island, Canada. An impromptu camp had developed among the two dozen nomads that had assembled. I pitched my tent next to a pretty French Canadian girl, and we sat next to each other around a campfire someone had built in the middle of our encampment. Our talk was light and inconsequential. She invited me into her tent for the night. For the next week we camped, hitchhiked and had sex as often as we could. At the end of the week she had to go home and go back to work. We hitched rides back to her home in Quebec, kissed each other on the cheek, and I hitched a ride home. I never saw her again. That was the 1970’s.
Susan Tepper also grew up in the 1970’s, but instead of being an itinerant writer/artist she was a stewardess on an international airline. Today, we call them by the sexless term, flight attendants, but back then they were stewardesses, and all stewardess were hot, sexy and ready, willing and able to take advantage of the first rich man to look their way. Monte Carlo Days and Nights is the story of a delightful romp through a week-long affair that takes her protagonist to Monte Carlo and back to New York.
Objectively, this short novella is nothing more than sex, sex and more sex punctuated by the typical angst that all couples go through when they think about what the other person is thinking. We see this from the perspective of a young stewardess who trades one lover for a rich hunk who’s wealth is derived from the music industry. He is wealthy, arrogant, and used to having a pretty young woman on his arm. We get the impression, from our stewardesses perspective, that he is shallow, and happy only as long as he can impress the other shallow but wealthy men of Monte, as Monte Carlo is called by those in the know. In the end, the story holds up as we see the week-long relationship devolve from the sexual frenzy of a new infatuation to one of self-doubt and diverging interests. He wants to be seen by the hotel pool, and she wants to dip her feet in the Mediterranean. He wants her dressed to the nines, and she wants to be comfortable. We don’t see a breakup, but we see it coming. In the end, he says, “If I were to get married, you’d be the one.” He is not the one. 

The Sunday Poet: Maryann Corbett

Poet Maryann Corbett

Maryann Corbett lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and is the author of four books of poems, most recently Street View from Able Muse Press. Her poems appear widely and have been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, American Life in Poetry, The Writer's Almanac, and the Poetry Foundation website. She is a past winner of the Willis Barnstone Translation Prize and the Richard Wilbur Award. One of her poems will appear in The Best American Poetry 2018.

As Little Children

When the toddler-in-arms behind me
shouts “Cake!” at the elevation,
that’s sliced it: my concentration
is toast, Abba. And all
I’m seeing now is party.
Jingling above the prayers,
an ice-cream peddler’s bell.
Communion as musical chairs.
Candles as candles. Songs.
Even a birthday crown:
Saint Margaret, Princess of Hungary,
her glazed smile sunbeaming down.
Not quite the party I wanted,
but it serves. I’ve come to feel
how all my feasts are haunted—
some holy, wounded memory
hanging above the meal.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

The Sunday Poet: MARK HALLIDAY

Noted American Poet Mark Halliday has a new collection out  Losers Dream On.  Here is a poem from the collection.


The time was almost dusk – the sky white silver
over the Walmart parking lot, not only
the lot right in front of Walmart but the larger parking lot
beyond the first lot, all level, almost empty,
there were eight or nine scattered cars
far from where I stood. I stood
out there. I was standing. Under tremendous
white silver sky. Almost dusk.
Far off near Walmart a few old persons moved
very slowly toward bargain prices. There was no story
with a hero. History
and my life and the universe all came to
nothing but this –

even if now, having survived, I am
comfortably seated in the Office for Existential Protest.