(Copyright © 2001 The Blacklisted Journalist)


*Mindfield: New & Selected Poems, poetry book by Gregory Corso, with forewords by Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs and an introduction by David Amram, and drawings by Corso. 1998, 268 pages, paperback, $13.95 made out to Thunder's Mouth Press, 841 Broadway, Fourth Floor, New York, NY 10003 or special order at your local bookstore or available at Gregory Corso was one of the last surviving Beats, as he died this past January 19, 2001 of prostate cancer. He was one of the better Beat poets. Indeed, Crystal Drum publisher Jeff Grimshaw recently remarked to me that Jack Kerouac's best poems could fill a postage stamp, Allen Ginsberg's best poems could fill a meaty pamphlet, but Gregory Corso's best work could fill a book. I wouldn't put Corso above Ginsberg, but this collection is that book, as it has excerpts from all of his books published in his lifetime as well as a selection of unpublished poems at the end. Of particular note is the inclusion of his most famous poem, Bomb, an ode to atomic weapons with typeface in the shape of a mushroom cloud. Also great is the elegy for Jack Kerouac, Elegiac Feelings American, which ends: "When you went on the road looking for America you found only what you put there and a man seeking gold finds the only America there is to find; and his investment and a poet's investment---the same when comes the crash, and it's crashing, yet the windows are tight, are not for jumping; from hell none e'er fell in Hell angels sing too and they sang to behold anew Those who followed the first Christ-bearer left hell and beheld a world new yet with guns and Bibles came they and soon their new settlement became old and once again Hell held quay The ArcAngel Raphael was I to you And I put the Cross of The Lord of Angels upon you---there on the eve of anew world to explore And you were flashed upon the old and darkling day a Beat Christ-boy---bearing the gentle roundness of things insisting the soul was round not square And soon---behind thee there came a following the children of flowers." Corso writes with a philosophical air and a dark sense of humor and pathos. His lesser poems are weird scribbles that stick in the mind. His greater poems are manifestos that deserve to be preserved. This is a fine place to start if you have yet to delve into the depths of Gregory Corso's poetry world.  ##


*A Different Shred Of Skin, poetry book by T. Anders Carson, with photographs by Michael B. 2000, 114 pages, paperback, $14.95 made out to Undead Poets Press, c/o Mark Maurus, 612 S. Center St #302, Royal Oak, Detroit, Michigan 48067-3839 or by special order at your local bookstore. This is a harrowing collection of dark poetry about suicide, abuse, mental illness and other taboo topics. There is a whiff of danger in T. Anders Carson's poems, as if all is not right within his world. Tropical Morning reads: "A Frenchman clears his throat. A cat howls a sexual lament. Wind is soft at dusk. It is a Saturday morning, the day before flying home to survey the disaster. I know that returning to this island was wrong. I should know better. If it's not going to happen, don't push it. My lover tried, I tried and my extended failure feels as if I'm treading in the pond of anxiety. I haven't slept well for nights. Granted that's nothing new. I think that understanding this uneasiness will make some changes. I can't go on spinning like a cut log, resigning myself to a fateful fire, where everything burns." An eerily silent wind blows through Carson's poetry, suggesting a spiritual emptiness or some dark secret that he has yet to tell. Always gripping and always touching, Carson's poetry picks you up by the lapels and shakes you around a bit before letting you go. A fine read.  ##


*A Student Of Hell, horror poetry chapbook, Tom Piccirilli, 2000, 56 pages, $10 check made out to Skull Job Productions, 1012 Pleasant Dale Drive, Wilmington, NC 28412-7617. This cracks me up that the address of Skull Job Productions, producer of gothic horror poetry, is on Pleasant Dale Drive! This is my first taste of horror poetry, and it’s bloody good! Not scary per se, more like a whiff of danger and some startling off-color imagery that gives you a little shiver. Tom Piccirilli writes amazing poetry that sticks in your craw and slaps you upside the head and makes you look over your shoulder to ward off danger. Full of macabre humor, like the poem My Dead Dad Can Beat Up Your Dead Dad: "This is why the maniacs come out to play because the juice has been drained off in the cells of our dirty brain pans / the knocking at the windows has ended / the morning decrees there's to be no rematch / Clouds no longer form the faces of the boys who broke your lunchbox / she's on the roof wrestling with screeching leaves / she's got hearts on her sleeve, she's get a hedgerow of scattered torsos across her precious toes / she's yawping about how badly the communion tastes / how the stations of the cross are gliding around the room, who's showing mercy, who clings to a cat-o'-nine-tails, whose throat bleeds / You talk of knives and sultry ex-wives and the effects of your father's coffin upon your childhood as if you've got one behind your back right now. / A switch blade date, a hated woman on her knees, your dead Dad's rage pouring into your ass / How about we do this? Let's check and see how much of the moon glints in your blade and how much shines in my eye and we'll fill this parking lot sewer drain with what it needs in the tapping ripples of our leaking lives." Wow, pretty intense heady stuff.

A great refreshingly surprising burnt offering. With excellent cover design by Jame A. Riley and illustration by Charles Jacob, and inside illustrations by GAK, Mark McLaughlin, G. Warlock Vance, Wayne Miller, Paul Swenson, and afterword by Scott H. Urban. Signed by all guilty parties involved.  ##


*Bone White And Raven Black, poetry chapbook by John Gohmann, 2000, 48 pages, $3 cash or check made out to Christopher Harter, Pathwise Press, PO Box 2392, Bloomington, IN 47402. Just like the chapbook title, Bone White And Raven Black, these poems are stark, bleak and full of unusual powerful imagery that sticks in the mind long after reading the poems.

Night Poem reads: "You love me? I didn't believe you in St. Johnsbury. I don't believe you now. The classical station fades out at midnight and the seed on my belly cools like candle wax. You used to say the night was a vessel moving forward, a giant's rowboat on a sea of black. I tell you it's an empty, waiting thing, a galvanized tub left forgotten in the corner of a dusty barn. When this town had only one radio tower it stood in my dreams, phallic, like a demented maypole. But last October, they built another, and now I dream of the tense silence, the drawn bow, and stringing deer in the sky." Love here is an illusion, another prop to occupy the protagonist's time. These poems are full of dark lyrical beauty that haunts the mind after reading them. Gohmann infuses each poem in this chapbook with a cold hard truth and displays a riveting eye for detail. These poems won't warm you on a cold night like a lover, but they will leave an indelible impression on you.  ##


*Box Of Rocks Volume 2, fiction chapbook, various authors, February 2001, 70 pages, free/trades, send submissions to Box Of Rocks, Chad Redden, PO Box 841, Bloomington, IN 47402-0841. E-mail . This is the second volume of a charming magazine called Box Of Rocks with mostly fiction pieces and no poetry. Stand-out pieces include those by Dan Crocker, Maria Kazalia, Jeremy Harmon and myself (ahem). The best piece was a touching story about two friends who die in a car crash, Lights Out by Jeremy Harmon. I could relate to this story because my best friend died in a car crash in high school, and his death has haunted me ever since, as this story will haunt you. What's touching is the young adolescent male's need for companionship and talking things out, and how the protagonist is embarrassed to hug his best friends in consoling them. I am able to express my emotions more openly with my male friends since my friend's death too. Box of Rocks is a fine collection of fiction by some of today's brightest writers. The cover is a cool collage of ‘50s and ‘60s illustrations. This chap-sized magazine is free or trade, but send Chad some money before he goes bankrupt publishing it. Send him $5 an issue, he would appreciate it!  ##


*Do Not Look Directly Into Me, short stories by Daniel Crocker, 2001, 183 pages, $12.95 from Green Bean Press, PO Box 237, NYC 10013 or special order from your local bookstore. Dan Crocker is one of the best writers around today, and has gotten praise from the likes of Gerald Locklin and Gerald Nicosia. The title of this collection is Do Not Look Directly Into Me, but that is exactly what Crocker offers, a look into his psyche. The short stories are told in first person, and most offered amusing anecdotes into the life of a middle-class worker (a dishwasher in many of the stories). Crocker has a real ear for catching everyday language and colloquialisms and he spins a good yarn. Most funny was the unwieldly titled Men, Or Why I Blame My Short Attention Span On Sesame Street, Or Things They Never Taught Us in Sunday School, Or It's Not The Cosby Show, Or The Water Of Generations, about the misadventures of Dan and his gay friend Athens, when they meet Athen's Grandparents and Dan is wearing a skirt and is drunk. The grandmother keeps calling Dan Athen's "girlfriend"! The dialogue is funny and right-on. Also good is Chicken Blue, about a husband and wife who pick out men and women that turn them on in the crowd at a Blues Festival, so they can fantasize and have hot sex back at home later on. The story offers a twist ending. Least effective is The Inner Charlie, an annoying one-note joke that repeats the word Charlie several times each sentence. The story clobbers you over the head with its point (I passed on this for publication at Lucid Moon but saw it in a recent Brown Bottle. I cringed!). Overall a fine collection of short stories by an imaginative writer. Dan is a very good poet too, and this entertaining collection shows how versatile he is as a writer. Highly recommended. Another nice looking production from Ian Griffin at Green Bean Press. Green Bean Press makes the best-looking books in the small press today.  ##


*Hand On The Doorknob, essays/poetry/fiction by Charles Plymell. 2000, 200 pages, paperback, $15.95 to Water Row Press, PO Box 438, Sudbury, MA 01776, or special order at your local bookstore. Charles Plymell is one of the few surviving Beat Writers. He is well known as the publisher of the first Zap Comix with R. Crumb (Janis Joplin's Cheap Thrills album cover; Keep On Truckin') on the cover, as well as being a printer, poet, and novelist. This book is a real mixed bag of good essays, mediocre poems, and whacked-out fiction. The essays range from his accounts of his hanging out with the other Beats, his journals on taking LSD, his publishing R. Crumb and other comic illustrators, and his account of the war on drugs. The essays are informative, enlightening and fun to read.

The poems, however, are listless and dull, little juice in them, just seemingly random matter-of-fact words strung together. I could not think of one poem that stuck in my mind after reading this collection, except for the poem 1950's Benzedrine Hobohemian Verse, which I printed in Lucid Moon magazine and is full of the hipster bop style of writing regularly recognized as Beat. And then the book gets even worse, with bad fiction about Kings and Queens and a character named Dangerous Dan in forgettable stories. I dunno, I expected a first rate collection of poetry and I got a mixed bag collection of poetry, prose and essays. The cover design is gorgeous though, a multi-color illustration of Plymell holding onto a doorknob, with an overstated enticing blurb on the back cover. I never got the significance of the title, either. Oh well. Ho hum.  ##


*Lovesongs and Hand Grenades, poetry chapbook by Wayne Wilkinson. 1999, $2 cash or check made out to Cari Taplin, Kitty Litter Press, PO Box 3189, Nederland, CO 80466-3189. Kitty Litter Press is doing a fine series of affordable chapbooks. Wayne Wilkinson is a great poet, one of the favorites at Lucid Moon. Here Wayne eexplores the juju of love and sex and hope and dreams (still surviving on the scene). All That And A Bag Of Chips reads: "and I moved to your rhythm I rocked to the roll of your breasts Your breath paced me in sure cadence not too fast not too slow just right on through a perfect orgasm." Throughout this dandy little chapbook, Wayne writes terse verse, finds vivid metaphors for love and sex, and offers a sly bit of humor. Wayne also writes with a grace and beauty that is divine, but also throws in a hint of Jim Morrison. A very good read, at a price that can't be ignored.  ##


*Luminous Order, poetry book by Steve DeFrance, 2001, 90 pages, $16 from and, or or special order from any bookstore. This is a bold, literate, funny entry from Steve DeFrance. I still haven't figured out yet if Steve Defrance is a poet with the soul of a clown or a clown with the soul of a poet. Whatever, Steve definitely has soul. Steve observes life on the sidelines with a priceless sarcastic wit. Beware, blue-haired women with smears of red lipstick! Steve can also be touching and heartfelt when talking about the death of a loved one from cancer or aids or other ills. Often it is just the poetic splendor of a simple poem that caches you off guard and makes you reconsider your opinion of DeFrance's poetry. Silver Birds of Paradise reads: "As a younger man I dreamed of living in exotic far-off lands. Zanzibar---Madagascar. Or wandering in a poetic reverie at the paws of the Egyptian Sphynx. Where under a romantic horned moon , Shelly, Coleridge and Keats would be at my side. Elliot, too. Wearing only a tie pin. Suddenly, I rip my clothes off dive into forgetful crystal waters. There is a swirling foam mermaids sing for me, kissing me with sweet amnesia. We love with watery abandon, like sea horses bucking on the backs of dolphins, then my voice would ring out my poem: volcanoes explode, answering my cry for man. All the dead of Dylan's Sea sing in their chains, like the sounds of spirits shrieking in the rolling surf, yes, my young spirit was large upon the land. I had the touch of the poet. An older, but no smarter man I live in Los Angeles. Part of my dreams have come true. Many people from far-off lands live all around me. Most of my neighbors don't talk to me. Its not entirely their fault. I don't like them much either. Button-down assholes all: accountants lawyers, head doctors, & an occasional proctologist, and up to now no mermaids at all. But when the poets of the past are upon me, why then I mount my moldy Pegasus & together we stand leaning & sagging between alien windmills, disguised as houses. I raise my bent lance, the one carved with poetry on both sides: I cry: ‘O for a muse of fire’ and we charge. My steed and I leap hedges & tilt at bay windows, but there is no Hector to meet our challenge. The enemy sends out a pink yapping poodle. Offended we slouch in the saddle & retire from thee field. Knowing this was only a false start & that the true enemy will soon be at hand. So solemnly we wait our turn for greatness & until called we can only dream of silver birds of paradise."

Throughout Steve DeFrance's Luminous Order I was continually amazed at the twists and turns he took. Far from being a one-note humorist, DeFrance writes with poetic flair and grace. I enjoyed this book immensely and I know you will too.  ##


*Now Here Nowhere, Vol. 3, Number 2, Autumn/Winter 2000/2001. Poetry magazine, 44 pages, $5.50 check made out to Gravity Presses, 27030 Havelock, Dearborn Heights, MI 48127, e-mail and website at This is a nice looking poetry magazine with a slick cover and interesting photos within, including an excerpt from Live Nude Girls, which seem to be Barbie dolls in poses! The poetry throughout is excellent, terse and rich in detail. Picasso's Self-Portrait From The Blue Period by Peter Magliocco reads: "The winter cold etched its way into your atelier as you painted the old blind guitarist, & shadows within you were cloud blue oil pigment on your palette, big with the blueness of Paris nights more priceless than the color of money your nearsighted vision was distant from. Wiping away scarce smiles from faces you transcribed onto canvas, you re-figured the world into cerulean sufferings diminishing the pale fire engulfing you while the world relished the mad darkness around all you could not paint out a blindness inside you the blue flame burned. Then summer came, with gored bulls on a white canvas turned to the wall." Fine poetry throughout, by many poets that Lucid Moon has published in the past.

This magazine is in its third year, and it is a fine collection of poetry and photos. A little short at 44 pages, but it satisfied my hunger for good poetry. It might be improved if it branches out a little with reviews and a letters column or pastoral poetry editorials, but overall a fine job by the editors.  ##


*Out Of This World, Art Rosch, music cd, 2000, 45 minutes, see Art's website for price and address to order from, . This is an award-winning jazz cd from a witty talented performer named Art Rosch. The music is jazzy with Hendrixian guitar noodlings and funky rhythms. Some highlights include Into Our Own with the catchy phrase "when we come into our own" and a litany of things that will happen, like "we'll grow marijuana on mars after we've forgotten how to have wars"; My Cat's Too Fat, with a Hendrixian jazz guitar break; Jack In The Box, a humorous episode about a guy at the fast food restaurant who gets root beer spilled on him by the waitress; Kosovo, a beautiful ballad about the war, and Go To Sleep, where Art singsongs "Go to sleep" in a lush loving lullabye fashion. Some of the songs are silly, Firesign Theater meets Cheech and Chong ("I was taking my fish for a walk") but overall the atmosphere is light and enlightened, as Art sings witticisms and surreal images spin out of the words and jazz music. I must admit it took a while for the songs to work their magic, and then I opened up and really listened to this cd repeatedly and let its pleasures surface. I at first thought Art was a little amateurish in his singing, but now I find that a charming quality. This cd is very endearing, and well worth listening to.  ##


*Poesy newspaper format Poetry Magazine, free, quarterly, 16 pages, issue 12 (April). A fine poetry journal edited by Brian Morrisey, open to submissions, send to Poesy Magazine c/o Brian Morrisey, 106 Campbell Street #5, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 or e-mail at The April issue had an intriguing interview of Jack Powers on the late Gregory Corso (reprinted in the Archives section of Lucid Moon Website); fine poetry by the likes of Marie Kazalia, Ed Galing, Charles Potts and others; and concise reviews by Tim Scannel, Doug Holder and myself.

Poesey is small but well designed and tightly packed with short poems and interesting photographs. The paper's main concentration is Santa Cruz, Ca (edited by Brian Morrisey) and Boston Ma (edited by Doug Holder) but it is open to poets from all areas. With a circulation of 1000, this paper is free for two stamps and I highly recommend it. Buy an ad for a reasonable rate!  ##


*Squeals Of The Wheel, poetry book by Mokuo Nagayama, 2001, 36 pages, $5 from The Zion Press, 165-83, Arise, Ikawadani-cho, Nishi-ku, Kobe, 651-2113 Japan. This is a charming collection of poems relating to the Oriental Zodiac of animals that make up the Wheel of Life. From the Tiger reads: "People cooped in cars were staring at me in the shade. One car stopped and out came a man with his daughter. They invaded my territory baring my fangs of anger and hunger. I snapped at him but couldn't bring myself to fall upon the girl." Each poem is illustrated with the corresponding animal. A delightful read, full of rich detail and life.  ##


*Sympathetic Magic, poetry chapbook by T. Dunn, 2001, 36 pages, $8.95, check made out to Pudding House Publications, 60 North Main Street, Johnstown Ohio 43031 I found this chapbook to be a delightful collection of well-thought verse. In poem after poem, T. Dunn weaves tapestries of light and wonder on such disparate but enlightening subjects as Leonardo DaVinci's magical sketchbooks, the science and mythology of the ancient Greeks, the poetry of Robert Lowell and Anne Sexton, and the humor of Dorothy Parker at the Algonquin. Extension reads: "Today the sun beats so hard it makes a noise, the sound of coffee scenting through floor boards: a perfect day's catgut stretched to a week. The trees move like tai chi men in the wind. We notice this now and we hear their rolling chant, each to each. To extend the movement  you must breathe. There will be no false death in the underbrush of our bed today. We will rise but slowly when we are both the right temperature, when we have formed the right shape. For now, we are sealed clay jars filled with honey promise, its lingering sweetness. Today we will bake our own bread and play not the dark cello's weeping but an impasto buttercream flute. We will play til we shine till we burn till we melt." Lots of pungent imagery in there you can almost taste. T. Dunn writes superb poetry that captures the beauty and joie de vive of life. For more info on this superb collection, log on to this site:  ##


*The Family Revolver, poetry chapbook by Raymond Mason, 2000, 20 pages, $2 cash or check made out to Cari Taplin, Kitty Litter Press, P.O. Box 3189 Nederland, CO 80466. I had fun with this chapbook by Raymond Mason. The poems are more like short stories or jokes with punchlines, but now and then a poetic line turns up. Even Trade reads: "The Europeans came to the Americas, bringing liquor and gunpowder. The Indians, being fair-minded, gave the white philanthropists tobacco and syphilis. How could anyone ask for a better balance of trade?" I kept waiting to hear a ba-dump-ba after reading each piece! Raymond Mason would make a good comedian. I'm not sure if this is poetry, it's more like witty observations on everyday life. Maybe Raymond is the reincarnation of Will Rogers!  ##


*Willie Brown, poetry chapbook by David Madgalene, 2000, 24 pages, $2 cash or check made out to Cari Taplin, Kitty Litter Press, PO Box 3189, Nederland, CO 80466-3189. This is a very unusual brand of poetry, different from most of what I see. The poems are very plainspoken, southern-drawl experiences of poor lower class folks. Loretta Lynn's Little Sister reads: "The Shriners were having a circus in Nashville. Loretta Lynn's Little Sister was singing and playing guitar. They didn't call her Crystal Gayle back then, just "Loretta Lynn's Little Sister". She had a big hit record in Nashville, went to #1 on the Rock Charts (although it wasn't a hit anywhere else). Nashville was like that in those days. The elephants danced. The clowns somersaulted. Acrobats flew through the air. The Shriners drove funny little cars as in the middle of the ring Loretta Lynn's Little Sister strummed her guitar and sang her sad songs. She was a scrawny thing, pale and thin. No make-up, no fancy clothes. Even though Loretta was on the Grand Ole Opry for years, her Little Sister still had the stink of Kentucky." The poems are matter 0f fact slices of life. The title poem is about a murderer and rapist named Willie Brown, and other poems are about Mamie Eisenhower partying at the White House and about a guy named Billy The Preacher. These poems have a home-spun feel and I enjoyed this chap a lot.  ##

Please send poetry books, chapbooks, cds, broadsides or whatever for review to Ralph Haselmann Jr. at 67 Norma Road, Hampton, New Jersey 08827. I will review them within 1-2 months and send you a copy of the review. Publishers have my permission in advance to reprint any part of my reviews as long as they send me a copy of what it appears in. The reviews go out to several small press discussion lists, after which they will be archived on my Lucid Moon Poetry Website. My telephone number is (908) 735-4447, e-mail and my Lucid Moon Poetry Website is Please visit my website often and sign my guestbook!  ##




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