Are you a wiz with math and computers?

My FIL came up with a great idea last night: Someone could make a website that counts the money we're spending on security for Dump's massive  pinhead brood, his weekly trips to Smeara Lardo, and all the rest, in real time. Then we can also have a counter showing the $ Obama spent after being in office for the same amount of time. You could show how Dump blows through more of our cash in a weekend golf outing than the National Endowment for the Arts' entire annual budget, the wonderful people who brought us King Tut. You could have a little pop-up counter for your desktop, or make it into an app. I said, "I'll throw that out on soc med. Maybe someone will make it." 

"Bird of Mouth is spreading"!

Here's a wonderful write-up about Iowa Bird of Mouth for the Iowa Arts Counci blog.

"The list of contributors includes writers of all levels, from a National Book Award nominee to preschoolers, from Iowa and beyond. Nobody has to sign their name, so it’s hard to tell who they are, but collectively, they’ve written some 'knockout' stuff every single month, Jennifer said."

Crow-dsourcing verses at the Clarke County Arts Council. Awesome people!

Crow-dsourcing verses at the Clarke County Arts Council. Awesome people!

America

The show was October 11, 2001. We'd bought the tickets a year in advance. Everyone was still totally freaked out—we even talked about not going. It was the first time we'd left the apartment to do anything but buy groceries and go to work since the towers fell. Madison Square Garden was half-full of twitchy people looking around for the fire exits. A waving American flag was projected onto the stage curtain, which slowly rose to reveal Neil Diamond: his back to the crowd, wearing white sequin jeans.

"If music has the power to heal," he announced, in a voice as loud and deep as God's, "let the healing begin!" He spun around and launched into "America," and the crowd went balls-out ape shit. And you should've heard "Sweet Caroline."

My entry for the NYT's Donald Trump Poetry Contest

The Year of Magical Thunking

“I’ve never told anybody this
but for a year I lived in my car
in a garage on 53rd and sixth.
After the Coney Island units
collapsed, I couldn’t sleep inside
anymore—I’d get all *gasp gasp.*
Maybe I was going nuts! Who
knows. Don’t get me wrong: 
it was a very expensive car but still.
Every night I’d lay my suit and shirt and socks
out on the hood, curl up in the backseat, 
and it’d be morning just like [snap]! 
I never remembered a thing! It was like
I’d been carried into the next day by
a blackout train and I’d wake up to sun
streaming in between the concrete beams, 
dust specs flying around like little helicopters.
It was actually quite beautiful to be
honest with you. My shirt and socks
would always be clean, my suit pressed—
I think my mother did that. But here’s
the magic part: the drawers I’d slept in
would be inside out! I know! Crazy!
But this made them easier to peel off
and throw in the trashcan ‘cause I
could see my dirt so clearly! See
what I mean? I was right there, 
saying, 'Don’t touch me.'"

Writer's Resist in Des Moines at Beaverdale Books

Writers from Des Moines, Iowa City and Cedar Rapids are joining together to host local events as part of an international Writers Resist movement being held on the Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. Writers across the nation and Europe will gather as part of a a “re-inauguration” of our shared commitment to the spirit of compassion, equality, free speech, and the fundamental ideals of democracy. I was lucky to be on Facebook at the same time as Kyle McCord, who is the boss, and jumped on it. It was a breeze organizing this amazing afternoon with him. Big love, readers, listeners, Beaverdale Books, and everybody out there who's resisting like a mthrfkr.

The Des Moines event will be held at Beaverdale Books located at 2629 Beaver Ave. from 1-4 p.m. on January 15, 2016. Writers will read from a selection of diverse writers’ voices that speak to the ideals of Democracy, compassion, and free expression. The event is free, and the public is encouraged to attend. Readers and speakers include:

Ned Balbo is the recipient of a 2017 Literature in Translation Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. His third book, The Trials of Edgar Poe and Other Poems (Story Line Press), received the Donald Justice Prize and the Poets' Prize. His newest book is Upcycling Paumanok (Measure Press) & you can find new poems at New Criterion, First Things, Ecotone, and elsewhere. He teaches in ISU's MFA program in creative writing & environment.

Aaron Jorgensen-Briggs is a member of the Des Moines Catholic Worker community and works at Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. His first book, Score for a burning bridge, was recently published by Upper Rubber Boot Books (Floodgate Poetry Series, Vol. 2)

Evan Burger is an organizer and writer based in Slater. In addition to organizing with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and the Democratic Socialists of America, he's written for publications including Jacobin, The Iowa Informer, and the Journal of Critical Theory and Praxis.

Ryan Collins lives in Rock Island and couldn't make it, but you should know him anyway because he's the author of A New American Field Guide & Song Book (H_NGM_N Books, 2015). His poems have appeared in Another Chicago Magazine; Asymptote; DIAGRAM; Forklift, Ohio; Handsome; Ninth Letter; PEN Poetry Series, and other places. He hosts the SPECTRA Poetry Reading Series in Rock Island, IL.

Jim Danger Coppoc makes his living through a murky-but-evolving mix of poetry, pedagogy, parenting and music. Not necessarily in that order. Favorite current gigs include singing in Disappearing Songs Project, running sound for local burlesque shows, and teaching American Indian Studies at ISU.

Heather Derr-Smith is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and has three books of poetry, Each End of the World (Main Street Rag Press, 2005), The Bride Minaret (University of Akron Press, 2008) and Tongue Screw (Spark Wheel Press, 2016). Her fourth book, Thrust, just won the Lexi Rudnitsky/Editor's Choice Prize and will be published with Persea Books in Fall 2017.

John Domini has three novels and three books of stories, the latest MOVIEOLA!, on Dzanc. He also writes essays and criticism, with work in Washington Post and elsewhere. He has taught at Harvard and elsewhere.

Marc Dickinson's work has appeared in the Shenandoah, North American Review, Greensboro Review as well as other journals. He currently teaches at Des Moines Area Community College and organizes the Celebration of Literary Arts, an annual reading series featuring both national and local writers.

Maddie Johnson is a senior at Theodore Roosevelt High School (Des Moines) and a member of Movement 515, an urban arts community where, twice a week, students and mentors come together to create spoken word poetry. Attempting to slow down the world and investigate themselves, they work toward becoming change agents, shedding light on the impact human emotion and connection brings to the global community.

Jalesha Johnson is a senior at East High School (Des Moines) and also a member of Movement 515.

Meg Johnson is the author of the poetry collections, Inappropriate Sleepover, published by The National Poetry Review Press, and The Crimes of Clara Turlington, published by Vine Leaves Press. Her nonfiction has appeared in BUST, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project, and Bustle. She is the editor of Dressing Room Poetry Journal and received her MFA in creative writing from the NEOMFA Program.

Matty Layne is a MFA Candidate in Creative Writing & Environment at Iowa State University where he teaches social justice rhetorics & serves as the Poetry Editor of Flyway: Journal of Writing & Environment. His queer little ditties have appeared in Rust + Moth, The New Verse News, Flyway, HIV Here & Now, & elsewhere.

Yasmina Madden has published short stories, flash fiction, and nonfiction in The Masters Review: New Voices, The Idaho Review, Word Riot, Fiction Southeast, Hobart, Carve, and other journals. She teaches writing and literature at Drake University.

Ebonesiah Morrow is an experimental writer who describes herself as a poet who loves to tell stories. With her literature, she strives to be a voice for those who are devoiced by society. During her years at ISU, her goal is to break the boundaries of the traditional novel, developing experimental works that highlight a variety of writing forms.

Akwi Nji is a spoken word artist and Founder/Executive Director of The Hook, an 2016 Artist Fellow through the Iowa Arts Council; producer of The NewBo PoJam with SPT Theatre, the largest performance poetry and storytelling event in the Creative Corridor; producer of The Hook's Drop the Mic, ArtLOUD!, #WeAre, and The Living Room Series; and was recently named one of the Corridor Business Journal's Forty Under 40.

Steve Rose, a recently retired Simpson College professor, has been published in numerous publications including The Midwestern Review The Journal of Medical Literature, Dime Bag of Poetry, and has placed five times in the Lyrical Iowa’s “adult general” category. He published a book of poetry entitled Hard Papas in 2014, is currently working on a historical novel about school marms in 19th century Iowa.

Jane Satterfield's fourth book, Apocalypse Mix, was selected by David St. John for the 2017 Autumn House Poetry Prize and is now available. She is the recipient of awards in poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts, Bellingham Review, Ledbury Poetry Festival, and more; she is the co-editor of Borderlands & Crossroads: Writing the Motherland, a multi genre anthology on Canada's Demeter Press, and the author of Daughters of Empire: a memoir of a year in Britain and beyond, also on Demeter. She teaches at Loyola University Maryland, in Baltimore. 

Brian Spears is the author of A Witness in Exile and is Poetry Editor of The Rumpus.

Elizabeth Blue wrote the book Whale in the Woods and most recently has been collaborating on a poetry & art divination project with the artist Aleta Lanier called Protovisions. Among other things, she is the mother of Finnegan, dog-mom of Abe the dog, and preschool teacher at Prairie Flower Children's Center in Ames.

Beloved Canadian Sandwiches by way of the Best American Poetry blog

Reading the top 10 2016 articles from The Best American Poetry blog. Along with Alan Michael Parker's revelatory essay on the worst workshop ever, this one by Emily Deming Martin is about St. Johns, Newfoundland and what a rare place it is. I seldom post poems, but I'm currently writing about food and autobiography, and this essay reminded me of a poem about food I wrote for my father who grew up in Nova Scotia, and how places fade away.

Thank you, Best American, David, and Stacey for publishing these fabulous gems penned by poets on all the subjects under the sun.

Lunenburg

Lunenburg

Beloved Canadian Sandwiches

Candied ginger, walnuts, and cream cheese on white with the crusts cut off’s what they served after church in the facility. I drove an hour there and back for a crack at just half.

Cherries (but should be berries—wild ones—everywhere—spilling out in bushels from bushes growing in ditches) and margarine or somesuch.

Leave it to the left-behind to linger on things they believe the leavers left for
(bananas, avocados).

Congested Donald in Meat Cove writes: Dijon mustard and horseradish in a #10 envelope.
Canada's #1 export is envelopes.

Most passed on the smoked salmon and salted sour cream on black bread and went straight for the lunchmeat. It was once we had so much of things from the sea they was steeped in tea ’til no one could stand the sight of them. Imagine. Now that even Canso’s clean fished out and dead. Nothing’s along that long drive out to the point but crows.

Prime Minister’s a Mary: fat-free potato chips atop date squares.

Anything with dates on account of how they travel: years alone at sea.

Anything with Mary on account of how she you-know-whats.

So many places, fished out and dead. Even the fish. Even the dead.

With Dad, it was molasses. Steak burnt black. A grapefruit half crunchy across its surface with sparkly sugar—like the ice rink at night.

Tea-poached chicken and dressed watercress on wheat so burly it slices the roof of your mouth up like too much dry Cap’n Crunch (which is cheaper by the box than a pint of wild berries, picked from a ditch bush).

Baking bread took all day—it used to be a wonderful thing not to have to bake
your own. But then, the bread…

Ruth poured cream on everything but margarine (which now grows on trees).

Anything that traveled well from Canada (not Ruth).

Salami, mustard and pickles. Cucumbers’ll grow anywhere (but that’s what they said about salmon).

Leave it to the leavers to linger on the things they left behind (which, from there on out, stand still: no such salmon since, etc.)

So many they’s fished out.

 

Jonathan Smith just became an island in the sea that is my life...

...by having a line from my poem "Chicken Bucket" tattooed on his bicep. I've assured Jonathan that he can come live with us if he gets fired from a job where he has to go sleeveless. It's no one's business what flag his guns are flying [cue: Salt n Pepper's "None of Your Business"].

Last Three Days to Get Your Crow On!

Last three days to submit your verse to "Poem for the American Crow" at http://www.iowabirdofmouth.com/submit ! December 1, we move onto the Eastern screech owl.

The "Crow" poem is tremendous: shifting and twirling and yelling like a flock of crows itself. Here's a knock-out excerpt, signed by Steve Rose.

 

THREE CROWS
Three crows flew herd on a broad-tailed hawk
east of Albert Lea, black beaks talking trash
then driven into the hawk’s grey back.

One flies point while the other two harass from
the wings. You’ve seen this in Korea, three MIG’s
shooting down our bomber; or coyotes on a sick cow.

Two hours later across the Iowa border,
a new pecking order: two redwinged blackbirds,
clever as card players, harassing a passing crow.

The crow’s wings, lumbering like sails on a dingy, 
drag against the current, while the blackbird
sharks slice the breeze into splinters.

The crow tries a barrel roll to the blackbirds’ delight.
Tufts of coal feathers flutter from his belly. A lone
cedar offers comfort and into its arms the crow falls.

Black feathers, onyx beak and talons sheathed in royal green. 
This crow: terrorist, target, stowaway, scavenger, 
and for a moment, on that rough branch, King.