“There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” (W. SOMERSET MAUGHAM)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Co-poets pt. 10; the end

This piece will conclude this particular project(a study in collaborative poetry)

My final poem comes from the piece my brother Chad and I came up with...

Woodland Birds

The eyes shine bright
as the name of every
woodland bird
and their different
calls come easily
to the tongue

but pictures found
in  a hat box
left to linger
in a mildewy attic
ring no bells
the eyes now
glassed over
as the tongue
laps the mouth
searching for purchase

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Co-poets pt. 9

This is my rendering -a very spare piece based off of the poem Paul and I did together.


Things forgotten
come swirling back
in a vortex of memory
a random mind chooses
which to spew
and lay bare
for the unwitting
not to hear

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Co-poets pt.8

This is my offering which came out of the collaboration done with Steve Pump;


Staring into the dream-glass
the ghosts appear again
behind me, the faces
somewhat familiar
but not quite right.
I cannot blink them away.
Men with hats and women
wearing strings of pearls,
children in knickers, licking
lollipops, sticky residue on their lips
all smiling at my back, yet
when I turn to face them,
they are gone,
save for the unbearable weight.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Co-poets pt.7

Continuing the collaboration theme, this piece is mine alone and based on the original lines sent to all the collaborators and represents where my mindset was at the time I thought of them...
(no title) 
Memories appear
then fade away
like half-formed clouds
that almost become
a pirate ship.

Blackbeard was a pirate,
Bill Mazeroski too
but he was a different kind,
I think.

Pirates liked to bury
their treasure.
I had a dog once
he liked to bury stuff
in the yard

Who’s out there?
I saw someone lurking,
you stay away!
Leave my treasure alone!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Co-Poets pt. 6(revisions cont.)

The last revised poem comes from Paul Enea. This is a true re-imagining of the concept set  forth by me of forgetting and remembering as happens throughout a lifetime. My original thoughts were of an old man or woman maybe going through the stages of dementia and how one remembers things from childhood or certain moments in time that brought us joy and how it makes one feel, even while sitting in some geriatric ward in a hospital, seemingly wasting away. I know happy thoughts, right? Well, poetry isn't always pretty.
Here is Paul's poem...

Now I Remember

I forgot I was finite
I forgot my father was still alive
I forgot my father is always dead
I forgot I have no child
I forgot I had a child
I forgot memories are true
I forgot lying delays nothing
I forgot everyone kills a thing
I forgot every epiphany
I forgot I love Rita
I forgot there is no Rita
I forgot the sound of pale blue
I forgot the scent of dark
I forgot to invent a new way
I forgot the word for stay
I forgot the name for hate
I forgot the friend who vanished
I forgot the friend who remained
I forgot I was nowhere
I forgot the dog who followed me home

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Co-Poets pt. 5 (revisions cont.)

The next revised piece comes from my brother Chad Austin. While staying pretty true to the original with the language, the ending reveals a different theme than the one I thought we were working with while doing the collaboration.

Bird Song

I can't wait to remember
all the things I 've forgotten
memories like fallen leaves
litter forest floor, naked trees shivering
watching sunlight tiptoe

slipping between the shadows
of consciousness, breathe deep
fill the empty space with
sweet, damp smells
black earth oozing between bare toes

the rot of nostalgia
like grandfather's attic
packing and unpacking trunks
that carried dreams to a new land
now gathering dust and photographs

left with a sick feeling in
the pit like decomposing fruit
a recognized relic, grandmother's
hat box stuffed with letters, and a feather
bird song shatters my silence

Monday, July 28, 2014

Co-Poets pt. 4 (revisions)

revision or re-vision

This is my favorite part of the collaborative process, watching what happens when one person gets to take the helm and forge their own way based on what has been created. They often use the familiar(what has already been written) but not always. You will see how different the revised pieces are from each other as well as the original creations. First is the revision from Steve Pump...

things i've forgotten

early morning, half asleep,
one palm open to receive my daily loam,
the other closed around what's left of the night:
dream-glass, the dust
of dry and crumbled leaves,
shadows in tatters, a hole down which i roam.

in stations underground i wait
for guests to arrive from distant dates.
when the skeletons detrain,
still wet with rain from others states,
how will i recognize their faces,
reflections in the stagnant air?

our ghosts have no eyes, no names.
they huddle together for warmth until,
like an unbearable weight removed,
they evaporate and disappear.
i lie suspended in bed for the hour,
between stations of forgetting
and not forgetting, grasping between lights

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Co-Poets pt. 3

Now we come to the last piece of collaborative poetry done for this project. It was done with Paul Enea, a poet that I have admired for many years. He often uses plain, simple language to create beautiful poems that are complex, using his own style to enhance the words into duplicitous creatures with layered character. Stay tuned, because you will want to see his revision of our piece...

I can't wait to remember
all the things I've forgotten
over the years, to recover
the bygone moments that still matter
to a bone weary old man
memories warm the blood
or chill the heart if there's a dark
reason I forgot myself.

A hall of doors, all shut, rattling
some energy, begging for release
from solitude. Time regurgitates
memory, makes it a mess.
I wait like a child for someone
to lift the stains of past deeds
or meet me in a car the night
I ride the pipe and spill from prison.

Something out there waits for me,
it may just be a patch of dug-up earth
in a flowerless graveyard for innocent
inmates remembered by no one.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Co-Poets pt. 2

...continuing the series on collaborative poetry we come to the piece I did with my brother Chad. My brother and I have done a number of collaborations in the past, some have worked out great others not so much. It is hard to pinpoint why. We always seem to have fun with it though, so we will continue to do them, at least I hope to. When doing this particular piece, it felt like we were in lock-step from the very beginning.
The piece follows below, enjoy...

I can't wait to remember
all the things I've forgotten
memories like fallen leaves litter
the forest floor, decaying
brittle underfoot, they break apart
the pieces scattered by the wind

the sweet damp smells fill
empty spaces, overwhelmed
by the rot of nostalgia
the canopy contains my screams
digging holes, bloody fingernails searching
for that place where roots drink

they probe deeper into the terrain
like the tendrils of my brain
moments bubbling up, I gulp hastily
leaving that sick feeling in the pit
of my gut, swallowed remembrances
a trace of bitterness remians

I sip slower to try to cleanse
the palate, muscles relax recognizing relics

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


    I have the great pleasure of knowing many poets who work and live in my city(Milwaukee.) I have the even greater pleasure of working closely with four of the best poets to hail from or transport to the area. Elliot O. Lipchik, Stephen Anderson, Steve Pump and Paul Enea have helped me to grow as a poet and as a person with their careful guidance and honest critique. My brother Chad has also been a great influence and collaborater. One of the things we do as a group to keep our workshopping fresh and fun is collaborative poetry. We have tried to do some pieces as a large group but I have found that the writing is smoother and seems more cohesive when it is only two people working together. It feels easier to find a groove as a duo, it becomes a real partnership with give and take and a natural feeding off of each other.

    So unbeknownst to my fellow poets, I sent two starting lines to Paul, Steve P. and my brother, Chad Austin, asking each of them to do a collaborative piece with me using the same starting lines and set the parameters at one or two lines at a time and twenty lines total. It was very interesting to see where the pieces varied and also where they seemed to follow a similiar path. I will be posting my collaborations with each of these poets as well as any revised pieces I may receive. The first one completed was the poem done with Steve Pump, it follows here...

I can't wait to remember
all the things I've forgotten.
early in the morning, half-asleep,
one palm open to receive
my daily dose of heartbreak,
the other closed around what's left
of the night, dream-glass, dust
and tattered pieces of the shadows
that keep me company in the loaming.
yet I must wait in stations
underground for trains to arrive from
distant nightmares, carrying
anonymous, faceless passengers.
I must wait. and when the skeletons detrain,
how will I recognize them, ghosts without eyes?
these drifting vagabonds huddle together
as if bracing for some cold that I cannot feel.
in bed for an hour, suspended between forgetting
and not forgetting, waiting, and unable to wait
the weight is unbearable