Our Halloween

Razorblades inside the popcorn balls, LSD a secret in the
candy – here was another Halloween horror story

from the 60s where kids ghosted in sheets and carrying
paper sacks would safely stroll neighbourhoods

without parents and in the certain hope of bulging bags
filled with a different kind of deadly.

The many years and removed by this distance,
wondering at those same streets now: escorts with guns

who might shoot anyone not giving because this is our
ritual; checking for messages on the inside of wrappers (like

calls to worship a different god); strange scared faces at curtains
ignorant about foreign festivities and the dangers we can

imagine – but at least call American, or subliminals unlike ours
about sugar and the other sweet certainties of who we are.

Nebraska 32: ‘A Stratagem’ by Michael Anania

(after Ehrich Weiss)


Geography matters.
It is the plan,
the arrangement of things
that confuses our enemies,
the difference between what
they expect and what they get;
as simple as bobbing for apples
becomes difficult, deception is
an achievement in ordering the obvious.


Let us make a song
for our confusion:
Call it “Red Skies over Gary”
or “Red Skies in the Sunset”
or “Red Skies and the Open Hearth.”

Red Skies over Gary,
you are my sunset,
my only home.

Let us make ourselves invisible,
not make songs, or even
disappear suddenly from
the sidewalks of Calumet.


Cobalt and carborundum
are refinements of the art.

So it’s true, you held
the razor in your teeth,
or was it pure magic,
a miracle of place?
One makes for workability,
the other for hardness,
and chromium bright,
the stainless achievement.


I came from Calumet to Gary,
and it was early evening;
south of the mills, poppy fields
toxic red above the car lots,
have a Coke on Texaco
’til the mercury arcs devour us
and it is purple night.

Michael Anania, “A Stratagem” from Selected Poems. Copyright © 1994 by Michael Anania.

Poetry Nearing Silence – by Julian Anderson with The Nash Ensemble & Martyn Brabbins


Was delighted to see this cover and work based on the humuments of Tom Phillips by Julian Anderson, described so: ‘This suite of eight movements was inspired by a very unusual book of drawings and poems by the artist Tom Phillips entitled ‘The Heart of a Humument’, related to his larger book A Humument.’

I don’t know how long this will be available, but you can listen to snippets here.

Nebraska 31: ‘Man Dog’ by Jim Harrison

I envied the dog lying in the yard
so I did it. But there was a pebble
under my flank so I got up and looked
for the pebble, brushed it away
and lay back down. My dog thus far
overlooked the pebble. I guess it’s her thick
Lab fur. With my head downhill the blood gorged
me with ideas. Not good. Got up. Turned around. Now I
see hundreds of infinitesimal ants. I’m on an
ant home. I get up and move five feet.
The dog hasn’t moved from her serene place.
Now I’m rather too near a thicket where
I saw a big black snake last week that might decide
to join me. I moved near the actual dog this time
but she got up and went under the porch. She doesn’t like
it when I’m acting weird. I’m failing as a dog
when my own kind rejects me, but doing better
than when I envied birds, the creature the least
like us, therefore utterly enviable. To be sure
I cheeped a lot but didn’t try to fly.
We humans can take off but are no good at landing.

Jim Harrison, “Man Dog” from Dead Man’s Float. Copyright © 2016 by Jim Harrison.

Nebraska 30: ‘I Heart Your Dog’s Head’, Erin Bilieu

I’m watching football, which is odd as
I hate football
in a hyperbolic and clinically revealing way,
but I hate Bill Parcells more,
because he is the illuminated manuscript
of cruel, successful men, those with the slitty eyes of ancient reptiles,
who wear their smugness like a tight white turtleneck,
and revel in their lack of empathy
for any living thing.
So I’m watching football, staying up late to watch football,
hoping to witness (as I think of it)
The Humiliation of the Tuna
(as he is called),
which is rightly Parcells’s first time back in the Meadowlands
since taking up with the Cowboys,
who are, as we all know,
thugs, even by the NFL’s standards. The reasons

I hate football are clear and complicated and were born,
as I was, in Nebraska,
where football is to life what sleep deprivation is
to Amnesty International, that is,
the best researched and most effective method
of breaking a soul. Yes,
there’s the glorification of violence, the weird nexus
knitting the homo, both phobic and erotic,
but also, and worse, my parents in 1971, drunk as
Australian parrots in a bottlebush, screeching
WE’RE #1, WE’RE #1!
when the Huskers finally clinched the Orange Bowl,
the two of them
bouncing up and down crazily on the couch, their index
fingers jutting holes through the ubiquitous trail of smoke rings
that was the weather in our house,
until the whole deranged mess that was them,
my parents, the couch, their lit cigarettes,
flipped over backward onto my brother and me. My husband
thinks that’s a funny story and, in an effort to be a “good sport,”
I say I think it is, too.

Which leads me to recall the three Chihuahuas
who’ve spent the fullness of their agitated lives penned
in the back of my neighbor’s yard.
Today they barked continuously for 12 minutes (I timed it) as
the UPS guy made his daily round.
They bark so piercingly, they tremble with such exquisite outrage,
that I’ve begun to root for them, though it’s fashionable
to hate them and increasingly dark threats
against their tiny persons move between the houses on our block.
But isn’t that what’s wrong with this version of America:
the jittering, small-skulled, inbred-by-no-choice-
of-their-own are despised? And Bill Parcells—
the truth is he’ll win
this game. I know it and you know it and, sadly,
did it ever seem there was another possible outcome?

It’s a small deposit,
but I’m putting my faith in reincarnation. I need to believe
in the sweetness of one righteous image,
in Bill Parcells trapped in the body of a teacup poodle,
as any despised thing,
forced to yap away his next life staked to
a clothesline pole or doing hard time on a rich old matron’s lap,
dyed lilac to match her outfit.
I want to live there someday, across that street,
and listen to him. Yap, yap, yap.

Erin Belieu, “I Heart Your Dog’s Head” from Black Box. Copyright © 2006 by Erin Belieu.

The Way Some Would Write a Bridge

i’m going to build this bridge as metaphor
with an arch of words

or suspended by lines
that rhyme

deploying a beam as the grammar
of tension and compression

perhaps a truss to suggests its
complexity of narrative

and consider a cantilever as
mirroring images

alternatively the cable-stay in its perfect
love sonnet sway

or tear the whole fucking thing down for its
formulaic and tell-all twee


‘at first it felt like flying’ by Charlie Baylis and Andrew Taylor – Indigo Dreams Publishing


Having had a power-cut at 1pm today I took this unexpected opportunity to forgo lunchtime TV’s awful news to read instead these poems that recount with delightful alluding the routines and journeys of the alphabetically-restricted-named personas who become each individual poem’s title.

With the power now back on I can type and post, so here is a quick appreciation: in reading where a San Francisco room [motel/hotel presumably] is ‘strewn with fliers from Liverpool’ [jenny] I was taken by the symbiotic experience of how such unexpected events can happen anywhere, like a comet called rebecca who/that ‘collides with a poem’ – and the further information that she says

‘pistachio always tastes like the moon’

reinforces this, surely?

Reading in another that ruby ‘paints my room chilli pepper red’ which then colour-transforms to

‘….when we kiss
i can’t stop thinking how blue the sky is’

the liquid transition between these first and last lines of the poem is the more poetic and romantic, conveying beyond the unexpected so it is the often lyrical which roots us to our engagement, whereas back to rebecca, similar is occurring

‘watch wave by wave wave by in the blue of her eyes’

I’m not saying rupert [as in loydell] isn’t as gracefully and romantically alluring as either ruby or rebecca, but his involvement in the roll of alluding in these poems may lack a colour reference when it does draw our attention to its unexpected revelation

‘graffiti sprayed in french       your mother sucks bears

I feel compelled in concluding this hopefully tempting and intentional snapshot to sustain some equilibrium with a return to ‘j’, and this from jacanda addresses its moment so, again through colour

‘like lavender mist the eye is drawn to horizons’

and this from jaako [the name, incidentally, of a boar whose back I massaged with a screwdriver – he loved it – when looking after pigs] presents yet another example of surprise and unexpected solace

‘to the ornate sound
of harpsichords

recorded on cassette’

This is the joyful reading of dancing between and among the r’s and j’s of these poems in their playful reciprocations, ‘the product of mimesis’ being a poetic capture of the collaborating imaginations of Baylis and Taylor.

To get a copy, go here.

Andy’s Noir

I haven’t forgotten
this is Andy’s October,

the October of his leaving
with that poem about geese.

And he was wild,
wildly in his head and then

when this took over.
Flights of the unexpected

and dangerously funny,
but he was always good –

the palliative he shared
despite his growing noir.