Backpedaling Into Perdition

October 17, 2012 in Raindog's Struggles

You know the old saying, “one step forward, two steps back?” Well, that’s been my M.O. for the past 4 years or so (in fact, it may have been going on for longer than that). Seems like these kind of things start out benignly and slowly over the years/decades begin to accelerate, to the point that eventually one doesn’t dare do much of anything lest they might slip and make that final drop into the yawning jaws of fate!

I’m not there yet (?), but these days everything seems to be leading to such a fate. It started with my failing energy…that was about 3 years ago, a year after my diagnosis of Diabetes. It’s funny, when I was diagnosed I was able to do all kinds of stuff that I now find it very hard to do. I could drink and eat whatever without too much difficulty. I could work for hours on end. Come to think of it, I could even get an erection (not that I needed one all that often). But after my diagnosis and my getting right with the gods of diet and sobriety, I noticed that my energy began to fade. Within a year of my becoming a new citizen in the Healthy Way L.A. (L. A. County Health-care) system, I could hardly work more than 4 hours! I was controlling my Diabetes with my diet, my blood glucose numbers were around 115 (down from 300 +), I seemed to be on the fast track to recovery…but what happened to my energy?

One step forward, two steps back.

Eventually, because I just didn’t have the energy to do manual labor, except in it’s lightest form, and because my right foot was becoming deformed thanks to a condition known as Charcot Foot, I had to give up working, except for small jobs that could be done in a day or less. I’ve been working as a handyman/laborer for twenty-plus years and now that’s yesterday’s news. My last “job” ended in June of 2010.

Perhaps you can imagine how I feel…losing my purpose, my reason to be here. I got very depressed. Sure, I tried to keep occupied. I publish poetry books and that keeps me pretty occupied; but it is pretty much a hobby for the most part because few of the books I publish have really taken off. I’m hoping that will change soon and maybe I’ll have a “best seller.” But for now my income just barely covers my rent and a few bills. Thank God for food stamps!

Somehow, each month I manage to pay the rent and cover my bills (not without having shutoffs on a regular basis). Friends help me out too. God bless my friends! I’d be on the street without them…and, for me, those are the gaping jaws I fear the most! That’s what keeps me motivated to not give up. I applied for SSI in July after being rejected for SSDI and I’m waiting for their (more than likely) rejection of my claim (I hear that they reject just about everybody at least once). I got the number of a lawyer that I’ll call if they do that. Hopefully it won’t be too much longer of a wait…maybe I’ll be able to breathe a little easier.

In the meantime, my car finally gave up the ghost. So, I’m walking more, which is good, I guess. I’m not sure, because my foot is getting worse and I don’t know if walking on it is such a good idea. But not having wheels is really inconvenient. I can walk for 45 minutes in one direction, so whatever can be reached in that time is accessible but not if it involves hauling groceries or parcels for mailing. So, I have to rely on friends for banking, shopping and other trips like going to the clinic. Soon I’ll be on the bus.

I can’t help but feel that losing my car brings me closer to that final drop. Personal independence is manifested in owning a car. With a car, you can do whatever you want as long as you have fuel & oil & coolant…you don’t even need to have a plan. Without a car, you are free to do as you please as long as your schedule coincides with whatever transportation is available. Gone is spontaneity and the illusion that you are free. Once you start “hoofing it” you realize how few options you really have.

“One step forward, two steps back…”

If you would like to help me get a car, I have a fundraiser going on my webpage.

RD

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The Harder I Try, The Further I Fall

August 18, 2012 in Lummox Press Community, Uncategorized

Bukowski’s gravestone says “Don’t Try”. According to popular myth, this means, as the noted founder of Gestalt Therapy, Fritz Perls, is quoted as saying, “trying is lying”. Trying is artificial. Either you do it or you don’t. The difficulty is that trying is such an inherent part of our lives that it is next to impossible to get any of the myriad of projects done that some of us (myself included) take on.

Of course, there’s another option to the “don’t try” message…it could mean, don’t bother; the deck is stacked against you; the race is rigged; the rich run everything and you are merely a pawn in their came. Give up and get out of the way…but then this would be the wealthy Bukowski speaking, not the working man’s Buk.

I realize that this will get me in hot water with someone, but what can I do? If I try to make everyone happy, I’m gonna end up offending someone. And if I try to offend most everybody, nobody will take these immortal blogs of mine seriously. You’d be surprised how often my thoughts are interpreted as proclamations from on high(or from down below). And sure, sometimes (?) I cross the line with my outrage at some perceived slight, and I have to re-explain what I meant to say. I don’t mind that. I just wish people weren’t so quick to judge. Whatever happened to the premise of “dialogue”? Of constructive criticism? When did we stop speaking to each other and start speaking at each other (or not speaking for that matter)? When did my way or the highway become the rule of thumb? Questions, questions, questions.

As someone once told me, “There are no mistakes, there is only recovery.” I hope these efforts to recover don’t go unnoticed in the blogosphere, otherwise what’s the point. Mind you I’m not “trying” to recover…

 

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A Public Apology

August 18, 2012 in Lummox Press Community, Uncategorized

It has come to my attention that I haven’t represented myself clearly in one of my blogs here. I knew that some people were annoyed with me, and that part I don’t really care about, because people will be annoyed no matter what (when you have big feet, you are bound to step on a few toes)…

But the idea that my basic premise was misinterpreted because I was being unclear has caused me to apologize for not doing a better job of expressing myself.

The blog I’m referring to is the one regarding Leonard Cirino and Scott Wannberg. Apparently I sound like I’m suggesting that Scott was not an important member of the L.A. poetry community, perhaps even the international poetry community (thanks to Facebook). This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

I published Scott on numerous occasions because I believed in the strength of his work, not because he was a celebrity. To anyone who thinks otherwise, because of what I wrote before, I owe an apology. That said, I stand by what I said about Scott being used. For that, I do not apologize.

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The Word on the Street

March 23, 2012 in Lummox Press Community, Writing

I went to a “round-table” discussion held by Poets and Writers recently. It was meant to be a discussion among small presses. I had high hopes of doing some networking and finding out if there was anyway that a small (possibly micro) press such as Lummox could get funding. Unfortunately, Read the rest of this entry →

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TWO LUMMOX TITLES NAMED POETRY BOOKS OF THE YEAR!!!

March 20, 2012 in Important, Lummox Press Community, poetry

Laurie Soriano’s CATALINA was named Best Poetry Book of 2011 by Indie Lit Awards! Check it out .

Ed Nudelman’s WHAT LOOKS LIKE AN ELEPHANT was named second Best Poetry Book of 2011 by Indie Lit Awards! Check his book.

Lummox Press congratulates both of these fine poets and hopes that everyone will visit our website to see ALL of the books we have for sale.

RD Armstrong
Lummox Press

 

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Lummox Press Announces the Publication of the Following Books:

March 17, 2012 in Beautiful poems, New titles, poetry, reading

WHAT LOOKS LIKE AN ELEPHANT by Edward Nudelman
CATALINA by Laurie Soriano
THE ACCIDENTAL NAVIGATOR by Henry Denander
BORN TO BE BLUE by Tony Moffeit
LAST CALL: THE BUKOWSKI LEGACY CONTINUES edited by RD Armstrong
STRONG AS SILK by Brigit Truex
THE INSTRUMENT OF OTHERS by Leonard J. Cirino

These titles are all available through Lummox Press. What Looks Like an Elephant, Catalina and Strong as Silk are also available via SPD (Small Press Distro).

BOOK  DESCRIPTIONS

WHAT LOOKS LIKE AN ELEPHANT by Edward Nudelman, 116 pgs, Trade Paper, ISBN 978-1-929878-91-8, $15 retail…is not a question, but the title of a ground-breaking full-length poetry book by Ed Nudelman containing over 80 poems dealing with ambiguities and paradoxes in experience—how impressions of certainty and doubt affect everyday life. A cancer research scientist by trade, Ed has brought elements of scientific inquiry together with child and adolescent memories, and mixed in humor and stunning poetic metaphor, to make this a compelling and provocative read.

Second place Indie Poetry Book of the Year 2011 from the Indie Lit Awards.

Direct Link to Lummox order page:
http://www.lummoxpress.com/lummoxpress/elephant.htm

Direct Link to SPD order page:
http://www.spdbooks.org/Search/Default.aspx?PublisherName=Lummox%20Press

Listing in 2011 The Year in Poetry
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_in_poetry

  CATALINA by Laurie Soriano, 112 pgs, Trade Paper, ISBN 978-1-929878-87-1, $15 retail…Laurie Soriano grapples with the life experiences we all encounter and somehow her writing makes us more wondrously vulnerable to accept the happenings of the world and time and live in them. She has some exquisite poems on ‘Parents’, ‘Sister’, ‘When You’re In the Home’, ‘Cross’, ‘Mourning Mother’, ‘Roller Coaster’ and so many more that must be read in context for the full impact. Reviewing the poetry of Laurie Soriano is a Herculean task: better to read her on your own and discover her stature. From a review by Grady Harp, a reviewer for Goodreads.

Named BEST Indie Poetry Book of the Year 2011 by Indie Lit Awards.
Also a “SPD Pick of the Month in Oct 2011.”

Direct Link to Lummox order page:
http://www.lummoxpress.com/lummoxpress/catalina.htm

Direct Link to SPD order page:
http://www.spdbooks.org/Search/Default.aspx?PublisherName=Lummox%20Press

STRONG AS SILK by Brigit Truex, 130 pgs, Trade Paper, ISBN 978-1-929878-83-3, $15 retail…is based on actual events that played out barely 20 years past the discovery of gold. Set in the rugged and remote Sierra foothills of California, it is the universal story of “stranger in a strange land;” without reference to the specifics of place or time. Instead, it blends imagination with inference. Both created journal entries and traditional Japanese poetic forms are used to give insight into the daily dramas, large and small. The Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Colony has been compared to the early settlements of Plymouth and Jamestown in the Eastern United States, where optimistic and determined newcomers faced immense challenges in bringing their dreams to reality. Each lasted but a short time, but their impacts echo still. Within the historic time-markers of “start” and “end” lie stories of hope, conflict, loyalty and success, all elements of this varied and moving collection.

Direct Link to Lummox order page:
http://www.lummoxpress.com/lummoxpress/silk.htm

Direct Link to SPD order page:
http://www.spdbooks.org/Search/Default.aspx?PublisherName=Lummox%20Press

BORN TO BE BLUE by Tony Moffeit, 100 pgs, Trade Paper, ISBN 978-1-929878-85-7, $15 retail…One of the first times I heard him up close was at some third floor converted minimalist red brick Kerouac-esque warehouse space in downtown Denver, a new loft-type affair, suitable for performance. I was with Ed Ward; we were both wondering who this cat was, dressed in shiny leather, banging on the bongos like some incantatory, skinny white shadow. He had his voice down and it was a good sound. He believed what he was doing and we believed him when he did. While the rest of us were learning to emote cool, Tony was blowing, scatting, chanting and rhyming hot. It was coming from some vast subterranean spirit place where the blues get form and climb up the burning urgency of the voice straight up to the street. From the introduction by John Macker, New Mexican poet extraordinaire.

A short list nominee for Colorado State Poetry Book of the Year 2011.

Direct Link to Lummox order page:
http://www.lummoxpress.com/lummoxpress/blue.htm

THE ACCIDENTAL NAVIGATOR by Henry Denander, 130 pgs, Trade Paper, ISBN 978-1-929878-88-8, $15 retail…The poems in, The Accidental Navigator, are conversations with the reader and each verse suggests a complete understanding as to the nature of silence in people, place and objects. Denander speaks to us with a quiet voice that only someone who lives with himself, can write. We are attached to every word because the poems are ours. They are a universal plea, greeting, peaceful humor that makes for serenity and Denander is a master at making the reader comfortable with all that life offers and takes and causes…from a review by Irene Koronas for Doug Holder’s Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene blog.

Direct Link to Lummox order page:
http://www.lummoxpress.com/lummoxpress/denander.htm

LAST CALL: THE BUKOWSKI LEGACY CONTINUES edited by RD Armstrong, 148 pgs, Trade Paper, ISBN 978-1-929878-86-4, $18 retail… Here you will find shit jobs, mad women in miniskirts, junkies, cigar smoke, insomniacs, booze, broads, swollen testicles, and despair.  Sound like the world of the late writer and poet Charles Bukowski. Well it’s not. But it is an anthology inspired by him and Bukowski remains the central reference point throughout. RD Armstrong edited this ambitious hoping to lay out the legacy and influence of Bukowski for all to see.  Like their mentor’s own work many of these pieces are angry and defiant in both style and subject matter. One of their repeated targets, and deservedly so, is academia…from a review by Dennis Daly, for the Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene blog.

Direct Link to Lummox order page:
http://www.lummoxpress.com/lummoxpress/buk.htm

THE INSTRUMENT OF OTHERS by Leonard J. Cirino, 100 pgs, Trade Paper, ISBN 978-1-929878-33-8, $15 retail…The late (1943-2012) Leonard Cirino’s poetry explores the space between the world our bodies inhabit and the symbolic world William Blake glimpsed, luminous with spirit and mystery. Negotiating that space requires more than verbal dexterity: it requires a faith in language that rejects Language Poetry’s misreadings of Derrida and Wittgenstein and disdains the Iowa School’s faux-naïve nostalgia for family, farm, and Italian hillside villas. But timeless work is never quite in fashion, nor ever wholly out of it. Consistent with Cirino’s previous work, The Instrument of Others offers an array of accomplished poems that demonstrate his observation in “Rumination on Instinct” that “We barely know the possibilities / of what we should know, and what to believe”… from the Preface by William Doreski.

Direct Link to Lummox order page:
http://www.lummoxpress.com/lummoxpress/instrument.htm


THE MISSION

The mission of Lummox Press is to broaden the audience for poetry through publishing poetry that is well-crafted, regardless of the style or fame of the author and to demonstrate the power of poetry to transform lives through readings, talks and publications.

Contacts: RD Armstrong
Lummox Press – poetraindog@gmail.com

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The Bucket is Suddenly Empty

March 10, 2012 in Lummox Press Community, New work, poetry, Writing

for Leonard

 

Ghost dog dreams

Chasing / being chased

The old demons

Unrelenting

Last / lost hours

Agitation and fear

Disorientation

Haunted by

Old dreams / nightmares

Not crazy but insane enough

Terror in an old dog’s eye

As in life – so in death

No going out gently

Midnight at 3 pm

Old dog terrors

Ghosts returning

100 unfinished dreams

1000 unfinished thoughts

10000 unformed words

You face the end

Unblinking

The last rattling breath

 

No grand ideals left

Only the growing cold

The room filling with

A slow creeping fog

Moments / memories winking out

Madness takes the wheel

You veer off the main road

Heading off into the undiscovered country

No one can go with you this time

Your vision clouds over

Your words undone

 

A rippling image of the moon

In a leaky old bucket

A painful cry of a distant animal

A sudden cold wind rises from the land

You turning to face creation

The image of the moon

Suddenly stilled

The bucket empty

 

Yesterday, without knowing how close the end was for my friend, I posted Leonard Cirino’s poem Forty Years of Nightmares as a final tribute to his approaching final days. Sometime during the day, Leonard passed away. I found out as I was wrapping up for the night, a last check of the email before going to bed…the truth sinking in as I drifted off to sleep.

Then this morning, early, as the full moon topped the trees, another shift ending as mine began, I lay in bed thinking about Leonard and these images began to appear…the images listed above: Ghost dreams…10000 words undone…on and on, not trying to imagine Leonard’s last moments but merely opening myself, plugging into a great cosmology…the vast and unlimited “HUH”…the collected unconscious…the original “cloud”.

Finally, the last part of the poem…what I believe is the essence, what it comes down to: “A leaky old bucket”. To be filled or emptied as many times as fate desires…to be left alone to slowly decay or to be kicked across the yard by unseen forces. Not glamorous. No fancy slogans or ideals. I leave that up to the eulogizers and the speech makers.

Goodbye Leonard…so long, it’s been good to know you.

RD Armstrong

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Forty Years of Nightmares by Leonard J. Cirino

March 9, 2012 in Lummox Press Community, poetry

Here the clouds are great churches – Deborah Diggs

Judged harshly by my enemies, I say,
Let them cast the first stone.
I’ll know
the last judgement when my time comes;
with the clouds and seas as my proper
form of worship, along with the streams,
mountains, the trees and stones.

I never had to stay in the dark of my room
or stand in a corner. Life never punished me
until madness ran amok with my body,
my brain. i could have been Frida
struck by a bus, or Deborah falling,
jumping from the stadium’s heights.

Let them cast lots among the shadows like ghosts.
I know my place in the dark and the light.

 

As Leonard drifts closer to death, I thought that this was a fitting poem to post. It’s from his newest book, The Instrument of Others which has just been published by Lummox Press. It is the final poem.

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Review of Underground Sky by John Macker

February 27, 2012 in Reviews

ISBN 978-0-945884-33-0
Turkey Buzzard Press
$15

Reviewed by RD Armstrong

John Macker is a Santaro who uses words instead of paint to create his imagery.  Unlike traditional Santo enthusiasts, he doesn’t limit his explorations to the mythology of New Mexican Catholicism, but explores further the spiritual nature of the land of enchantment.

Underground Sky is broken into three parts: Ghost Histories, A Life Made of Tracks, and Underground Sky. In my opinion, A Life Made of Tracks is the strongest section in terms of consistently solid poetry exhibiting strong, almost visceral, imagery. However, there are several poems in Ghost Histories that really stand out. For example, Ghost(s) Solstice or

When We Were Once Rivers, No More

Summer douses the birds

with lethargy, the wind hardly feels

like the wind at all

but something that

wrestles the heat to the ground

to lizard eye level and down below,

the guileless dry embudo has more staying

power than the dead.

Past misanthropes like Kit Carson or

Jack Spicer have left my old adobe house

a legendary drunken wreck, scattered their

ashes across this northern desert

& dusted their words:

“time does not

finish a poem.”

 

But waits for rain like it waits for death,

lizard scours the cacti for moisture

then scampers under my stock tank

for shade.

In Tehran, a girl, full of love,

falls to the street, shot in the heart.

I watch a tarantula hawk drag a paralyzed

orb weaver 50 yards to

her burrow. Her memory of rivers is

 

as misshapen as mine, it’s as if this

big heat has wrestled time to the ground

while death

dusts itself off,

kneels at desert’s edge,

cupped hands

cool rain to the mouth.

 

If there was a Tao of the badlands, then surely this poem would be a part of that tradition. In it, Macker quietly takes on the natural elements that make up the New Mexican high desert: wind, heat, rain & dust. These are the bones on which the sad, small dramas of man are hung, making a mere carcass into something familiar & identifiable. Macker uses this backdrop to tell his stories, painting with words, his visions of

 

…the same summertime sky,

The unmolested stars,

Almost August &

Dust is still the song

On this same tough old loco warmth of earth.

 

from Sketches of Vegas (Macker lives in Las Vegas, NM)

 

This is the New Mexico that I have come to know and love, even though I live 900 miles to the west in a gargantuan urban sprawl that is the antithesis of NM’s raw seemingly endless desert. I’ll take weather beaten, splintery wood, sage brush & bleached bones over bumper to bumper traffic & the rush, rush, rush of “modern living” any day of the week.

 

But whether you are in a desert wilderness or an urban one, life & death is the common thread & life is to be celebrated, no matter how small the terms. John Macker does this in Underground Sky and then some.

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Letter to an Editor

February 23, 2012 in Lummox Press Community, Writing

I have just finished reading Mad Rush 1 (something I rarely do – read the whole issue I’ve been lucky enough to be published in…I usually scan the issue looking for friends and foes, looking to see who I’m sharing the pages with, maybe reading their pieces, maybe not, so believe the things I’m about to tell/share with you)…I have a couple of observations and a question. First, thanks for the inclusion. I don’t get published all that much anymore…seems my style of writing is not “current” for most of the MFA editors of mags/zines. I’m rapidly becoming a ghost on the literary landscape, perhaps a forgotten relic? Second, I notice that you have included [stanza break] as if it is part of the poem in several cases and thought I’d point out to you that those words in brackets like that are not part of the poem, they are merely editorial marks to help the editor decipher the poem. I mention this because I have sweated my way thru nearly 20 years of other people’s poems. This not meant to be “heat”, but more like a friendly “head’s up”. And here’s my question…in this issue, it appears that you published everything that was sent to you…is that true? I only ask because, as mentioned previously, I have sweated thru thousands of poetic offerings searching for the gems to be published and I know “uneven” when I see it. So what’s the point you might ask? The point is, if you call yourself an editor, it means you edit; you choose, you select (you don’t alter as some editors like to do; rewriting a poem to suit their own mindsets). If you are arranging by order received, you are an expediter (another word that starts with an ‘e’). There’s nothing wrong with that, but ‘editor’ sounds more official, I suppose.

Anyway, I wanted to bring this to your attention to help you improve your skills for the next project. Good luck to you and Mad Rush…much success.

RD Armstrong

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