Friday, May 30, 2014

Cullen Park

Michael D. Grover is a native Floridian now living in Toledo, Ohio. He sees himself as an activist for poetry, and has hosted weekly readings. Michael has been published all over the world, and has performed all over the country. He has had over a dozen chapbooks including his newest Some People Go Crazy which is available on Citizens For Decent Literature Press. His first full length collection of poetry A Shotgun Does The Trick is forthcoming on Tainted Coffee Press. Michael is the current head poetry editor at

Dedicated to E

Cullen Park


Crow takes off from branch
Carrion; signifying the death of something


It was you that first brought me here
Where river meets lake
Sittin' on a log
Toes in the sand
Staring out at endless Lake Eerie
Where water meets horizon
There was so much joy
You took found objects home
& made art out of them
Showing me the beauty in everything
I think that was the last time I was happy

Now I sit alone
I have happy memories
I smile
I feel peace, zen, nothing
All I really wanted all along


Yellow finch lands on branch
Fills the air with song
Then gone in a flash


Mallard duck lands on water
Floats on the glassy lake
With two other ducks


Egret flies by
Flying down the shore
Two other birds fly the other way
Bad Brains Leaving Babylon plays
I wish I could


I understand
I don't think anyone understands this broken tribe
Like we understand each other
I'm surrounded, reminded every day
How broken we all are
I don't know if people get
What they did to us when they closed the place
But image is everything


Ant next to the journal
Living in an ant's universe
Runs down a huge log


Crow comes back
Jumps from branch to branch
Bending with the wind
Flies off


Beer can floats on water
Shiny blue aluminum
Waves bang it against rocks


The sound of water
Lapping at the shore, rocking
Has always relaxed me


It's nice to sit
Next to the tall marsh grass
Smoking grass
I will sit here and write poems
With my feet in the sand
I will write until my soul is clean
Then I'll write some more
Then I will walk away


Looking at the mills on the river
Industry at what cost

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

That Philly Sound / The Way We Live / Landing

Ally Malinenko writes stories and poem and occasionally gets them published. She is that author of poetry collection The Wanting Bone (Six Gallery Press), the children's novel Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb (Antenna Books). Her first YA novel This Is Sarah is due out in June of 2014 by BookFish Books. Ally lives in Brooklyn with her husband and a 15 year old cat that will probably outlive her. She blogs at and says dumb things at @allymalinenko

That Philly Sound

You were talking about music.
And I’m watching you like a stranger would watch you.

Not like a wife,
in this bar where we are no longer strangers.

You keep talking about the Philly sound.
You want to play guitar. You tell the man in front of you.
He’s been playing the guitar in the bar.
He used to be a street musician.

Not to make money but to learn the songs.
He tells us that whenever a new wave of tourists would go by,
you could start the same song over again. It was just a long practice session.

This makes you and I smile. I like this guy. So do you.
It’s usually a good night when he’s in the joint. Calmer, maybe.

Whenever he is here, you guys talk about music.
There is a lot of nodding.
Yeah, man. Yeah, man.
You say, “and The Stylists, too.”
He laughs. “Yeah, man, definitely”
A lot of that.

I like watching you like this. It reminds me of
you before I knew you. Before we knew each other.
Before I knew that you knew so much about music.
When you were just this boy that I liked to watch.
And you said things that made me laugh.
You are doing that again right now.
After all these years.

You told me no matter what, you always think of me as a poet.
I smiled and put the bottle to my lips.

You too, baby. You too.
Even when you aren’t in front of the machine.
Even when you are just talking about the Philly Sound.

There are all these worlds in people. Worlds we know nothing about.

Don’t forget that part too. After the loss and the ugly and the anger and rage
and the men on the street that yell horrors at the women who go by and the taking and the death and rot and the stink and the impending storm that might keep the snow falling for the next seven years.

There is also this. Always this.

The Way We Live

I ask you if you miss the bookshelves
we moved into the bedroom
after we bought the new couch,

which you are laying on now and reading.
You say no and turn back to the Ezra Pound bio.

I’m learning chess notation,
replaying a game from 1990
won by a 12 year and 5 month old chess master.
He’s good.
But the article says he made some stupid mistakes.
That is luck, I guess. I wonder what else he could have been
doing that night at 12 years and 5 months.

Waste is a funny word.

The noise through the wall has stopped.
The football game was boring.
The heater clangs and wakes a cat.
There are books on Paris on the wine stained coffee table.
There are empty beer cans.
There are full wine glasses.

This is how we live, for now.
I don’t know what next year will be like,
but this is the winter, we lived like this,

hovelled away, scraping out peace in slivers
under our nails. We are searching for something.
Something like a definition.
A book. A chess piece. A nap on the worn green couch. A language.
You turn down the classical station
because you hate Vivaldi.
I haven’t been to work in days, nursing a sore throat
made worse because I wouldn’t stop drinking.

This won’t last.
Things are either going to get much much better
or much much worse. You told me that in bar yesterday.
We are on the coin’s edge, wobbling before it falls.
But for now this is the way we live.

There is a harsh wind coming up from the estuary
It whistles past the window and I’m glad I’m here.
With my glasses off, you are just a blur on the couch.
I squint at the clock and wish it was earlier.
This night isn’t going to last
much like this way of living isn’t going to last.

Eventually it will change.
You will find something, or else, I will.

But goddamn,
just this once,
I wish it would.


Something is wrong, he says.
Something is wrong.

He goes to take off his seatbelt.
Stop, I tell him my hand on his. Everything is fine.
It’s just dark out.

The plane starts to shake.
Something is wrong, he says
and I see in his eyes that he believes it.

This is me, I think watching him. This is what I do.
This is what I usually say.
This is me and this time, I am him.

Later on the ground, waiting for the car,
he apologized.
I don’t know what happened, he said.
There was just so much water
and it took so long to land.

He is embarrassed.
It’s okay, I tell him.
Softer than I said it on the plane,
when I nearly shouted it.
As if shouting it would make it true.
It’s okay.

I don’t know what happened, he says again,
his fingers going through his long hair.
I watch him shift his weight and look down the road.
I don’t know, he says again, not even to me.
But I do.
I know exactly what happened.

It was this life ending,
without fanfare. Without celebration.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Hope / Sixteen / Trial

Nancy May has haiku published in Haiku Journal, Three Line Poetry, Poetry Quarterly, Inclement Poetry, Twisted Dreams Magazine, Vox Poetica, Eskimo Pie, Icebox, Dark Pens, Daily Love, Leaves of Ink, The Blue Hour Magazine, Kernels, Mused - The BellaOnline Literary Review, Writer’s Haven, Dead Snakes, Danse Macabre – An online literary Magazine, High Coupe, A Handful of Stones, Lyrical Passion Poetry E-Zine, UFO Gigolo, 50 Haikus, The Germ, Boston Literary Review, Be happy Zone and Every Day Poets. Haiku will soon appear in Cattails and M58.  She is a monthly contributor at The Camel Saloon and Poems and Poetry. She has reached The Heron’s Nest consideration stage twice and the Chrysanthemum consideration stage once. She is working on her first haiku collection.


last hope
you step out in front
of a speeding car

at sixteen
cyber bullies plea
for you to hang

on trial
my denial for you
killing our child

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Maillardet's Automaton / when I wash my hands of her / the infallibility of human treachery

Karl Koweski remains active in the realm of the living despite having been banished back to the wilds of Alabama.  He divides his time between the kitchen and the bedroom. Karl Koweski remains active in the realm of the living despite having been banished back to the wilds of Alabama.  He divides his time between the kitchen and the bedroom.

Maillardet’s Automaton

the sky is charcoal colored construction paper
tacked above this shoe box diorama life
peopled with discarded action figures
made useless by severed thumbs
and dry-rotted rubber band guts
tiny feet glued in place
downstage from the unchanging scenery
haphazardly thrown together
with whatever’s immediately available

amidst this childish mediocrity
I am a Maillardet Automaton
skeletal with age and neglect
once fashioned by the great
to be a true facsimile of life
so clever in my simulations
programmed from inception
to write the identical poem
and call it Art

when I wash my hands of her

she fashions a crucifix
from the promises I left behind
she drags her cross great distances
parading her sorrows
down streets of witnesses
preaching a gospel of betrayal
I wrote in notebooks
not meant for zealous eyes

when she nails herself to the cross
she can recite a litany
of father figures
who have forsaken her
from the sermon of the mounted
to the bedroom of gethsemane

she was born to die for my sins

the infallibility of human treachery

the ritualistic slaughter
of a dolphin pod
by a gaggle of
adolescent Norwegians
seems a magnificent horror
for the length of time
it takes to consume
a cup of coffee

further down the line
Japanese whalers
harvest the creatures
in full view of
an appalled television actress
the screams of
whale and blonde alike
mostly ignored

the news feed is replaced
by another horror
and then another
so many tragedies
as many as the curious
are willing to click
their cursors upon

every crucifixion in Syria
every homicide in Chicago

drone strikes
and child killers
corrupt politicians
and police brutality

every instance of
mankind’s wickedness
bookended by
video clips of
cavorting kittens
so we might realize
life’s not so bad
after all

Sunday, May 18, 2014

05/12/14 / corn muffins / new colossus

John Grochalski lives in Brooklyn, New York with his long-suffering wife, the poet and novelist, Ally Malinenko, and their 15 year old cat, June, who simply refuses to leave this plain of existence. When he isn’t listening to every subtle nuance of noise made by neighbors, vehicles, barking dogs, and garbage men, or being distracted by the wide variety of internet porn made available, Grochalski attempts to write poems, stories, and novels. Subsisting on a diet of pizza, tacos, coffee, beer, scotch, and cheap Chilean red wine, Grochalski works full-time as a public librarian which has only served to lower his opinion of librarians and the general public as a whole.  Dealing with a mild case of OCD, Grochalski refuses to believe that that the oven is off and the windows in his apartment are truly closed.  He has traveled extensively in Europe coming to the conclusion that every place is different in exactly the same way.  Grochalski often confuses trapped gas for heart attack pains.  In his spare time he hates children, teenagers, republicans, democrats, hockey, onions, 21st century American Art, cell phones, and anyone who calls him a Luddite for hating cell phones.  He thinks the work of Hans Fallada is currently the bee’s knees.


6:50 in the morning
he is parked across the street
from my living room window

blasting a pop song so loud
it feels as if coming from my own stereo

this american abomination
thumbing through his cell phone
as if it’s nothing

as if this world exists at his whim
before the sun is fully in the sky

while i
racing around the apartment in blind anger
grabbing shorts and a shirt
my keys and maybe a sharp knife for good measure
now finally and fully understand how
a man can commit murder

i think
well, this is how it’ll end for both of us
as i bend to put my shoes on by the window
watching as he fiddles with his convertible rag top

oblivious and dull
a true patriot of the work week

and as i race to the front door
i hear tires screech and a last blast of music
pollute the air

and then he is gone

leaving the street as it was before
quiet and periwinkle in the dawn

until that goddamned dog next door
starts barking away at a thin breeze

at really nothing at all.

corn muffins

not all cops are assholes

i mean i’m sure there are
one or two good ones out there

anything is possible

the one here in the bagel store
standing midway down the line
blocking progress and playing on his gadget

while the rest of us fools line up behind him
and out the door

he’s definitely an asshole

eight in the morning on a sunday
with a hangover and the inability to sleep
all i want is a corn muffin
to go home and scald my tongue on coffee
laugh with the new york times

but it seems like everyone working here
is waiting on this cop

one of them is making his coffee
one of them is frying his eggs and nuking his bacon
one of them is toasting his everything bagel

he’s getting the full treatment
while the rest of us proles are getting leg cramps

and one of them is saying, yes, officer
and one of them is saying, sure, officer
and one of them is saying, whatever you need, officer

is your coffee all right, officer?
can the staff scratch your ass while you wait?

i wonder what the cop would do
if i vomited right on the bagel store floor

the baby faced prick
would probably arrest me
for disturbing the peace

or he’d take a picture of me with his phone
to show the other dickheads back at the precinct

and i can just see those corn muffins
sitting there encases in glass

i’m wondering why one of us just doesn’t
walk around him and demand service

why none of us will revolt

christ, the average citizen is even scared of the police
while trying to get breakfast

then i start thinking
maybe i don’t need a corn muffin
maybe today i’ll just take the hangover and the coffee
and all of the misery the new york times has to offer

but the cop finally gets his order

the entire bagel shop staff gather around
to hand him his coffee and his sandwich

officer friendly doesn’t even look up from his phone

he just takes his bag and leaves
with his cop pants wedged right up his cop ass

new york’s finest for sure

as the rest of us robots move up in the queue
to finally order all of those delicious things
we’ve waited so long for

everything that’ll just turn into shit
by the end of the day.

new colossus

she says, i feel like i live in china now

how’s that? i ask

by way of explanation
she waves her arms around the room

there are chinese people reading books
chinese talking on cell phones
chinese playing on the computer
or engaged in some other activity

somewhere down the block
a chinese family is buying some old italian’s home

it is true
we are the only two white people in the room

i knew i felt good for a reason, i say
i always feel good when whitey isn’t around

she gives me the same dirty look she always gives me
when i tell her i don’t celebrate the fourth of july

yeah, well, it’s the wave of future, she says

bring it on, i say. give me your tired, your poor…

she rolls her eyes
she looks poised to go into one of those rants
about the good old days of america

but she settles for, this ain’t my country no more

then she glares around the room
goes back to video games on facebook
the three cell phones she keeps that beep and chortle
and make the most inane robotic noises

nods at a meme that says
america love it or leave it

as the battle hymn of the republic plays
on and on and on and on.                                             

Wednesday, May 14, 2014



Umm, okay. This is already starting off like a chatroom session with Chris Hansen and his cadre of creepy “To Catch a Predator” accomplices. But I will take a chance and bite. I go by the name Brian W. Fugett. I am 42 and I am a male with pubes that are longer than his flaccid member from Dayton, Ohio. The manly-topiary maintenance occurs once the summer months are upon us and the HEAT is intolerable. Ball soup is most uncomfortable.

How long have you been writing and do you have a specific writing style?

I have been writing and cartooning since I was a wee-pup. I would have to say that it really sparked between the ages of 12-18. I endured at least 6 panic attacks a day, every day of the week. The weirdest things would trigger them: fluorescent lights, a boisterous voice, a windowless room, or even a simple gesture. And when one hit, it struck like a sudden jolt of electricity. It was like all my nerve endings would tingle, vibrate, stretch, then go numb. My heart would begin to pound, my palms would sweat. The room would spin & everything looked & sounded distorted, as if the barrier between myself & the rest of the world suddenly expanded & contracted. Voices & sounds would seem distant & muffled. It was as if all ambient noise had been sucked into a giant vacuum. Everything would sort of zoom out of focus for a split second, then zoom back in. At that point my senses felt razor-sharp, the slightest sound or movement seemed augmented & amplified beyond natural proportions. Nothing felt real. I felt beside myself, as if my mind had been stripped from my body. After about 10 minutes the entire episode would pass.

It was a terrifying experience. I was convinced I was dying every time it happened. I had no idea what the hell a panic attack was. Nobody did back then. I would try to explain the sensation to people & they’d just laugh at me. My parents didn’t even understand what I was talking about. It was frustrating.

The sensation of dying 6 times a day was emotionally exhausting. So I became very withdrawn & sought refuge in the form of comic books, cinema, & literature. I soon discovered filmmakers & writers like David Lynch & William S. Burroughs who seemed to have tapped into this internalized nightmare world that I felt trapped in. From then on, I had forged sort of a kinship with surrealism & the absurd. So naturally, as I got older, my own personal vision as a writer, cartoonist & filmmaker had been heavily influenced by all of this and has influenced my style of writing.

Do you write as a career and do you write full-time?

I wish I could make a buck or two writing. I mean, I got a damned B.A. in English and spent 2 years in film school on top of that. I feel like I incurred TONS of debt and got a “toilet paper diploma”. First let me address that the “toilet paper diploma” refers to my B.A. in English. Now don’t get me wrong, I value my education. But we all know how worthless an English degree is in the grand scheme of the job market. It has a net value of about $0. Matter of fact, I am inclined to believe that my diploma wouldn’t even be fit to wipe my ass with—could you imagine the paper cuts it would leave on my hemorrhoids? And I hate to say it, but there are a lot of degrees like that. It is unfortunate that a lot of youngsters are brainwashed to think that getting a college education will land them a phat job making mucho dinero when they graduate. But the sad fact is that a lot of graduates will find themselves reeling in a sea of debt (student loans, credit card bills, etc.) while scrambling to find their dream career. More often than not, that dream career fails to materialize & they get stuck working low paying jobs that technically they are overqualified for.

Why does this happen? I am of the opinion that the university setting is too antiseptic; it involves too much theory & speculation that rarely translates well to the present & is difficult to apply to the real world. It is all organized so that we learn what “THEY” want us to learn & we have to pay out the ass for it. Essentially, our education enslaves us in the form of student loans. I think education should be free to all. So if I ever had the misfortune of becoming president of a university, I would address some of these problems by:
  1. Cutting the # of General Education classes required & replace them with classes that emphasize more hands-on experience.
  2. Create a setting that is less academic & puts more emphasis on real-life knowledge, the kind that comes from everyday experience & living.
  3. Allow students to tailor their own curriculum to fit their desired career choice.

How often do you write and how do you react to rejections?

Excellent question! I write and scribble stuff every damn day. I have stacks and stacks of notebooks and scraps of paper recording my thoughts and ideas for poems, plays or comics. I don’t leave the house without a pen and a tiny notebook that might fit in my pocket. Inspiration comes at the most inopportune times. And I take rejection in stride. It doesn’t bother me at all, especially since I have been a publisher/editor for over 10 years at “Zygote in my Coffee and Tainted Coffee Press”. Rejection is a part of the game. You gotta have a thick skin & be prepped for that if you are gonna ZAP your work out there for others to judge. Art is subjective & more often than not, editors are seeking work that will make a good FIT for their rag or vision for the publication. You can’t take it personally.

So, Fugett, what’s with the diaper?

The Diaper? Appears I have become infamous for that thing! I have appeared in it and will continue to for many shows to come. But, believe it or not, I don’t just appear on stage or perform in front of a LIVE audience with that for shock value. It represents being LIVE AND NAKED and exposing your feelings and who you truly are when you perform and read your work. We are vulnerable as kids with diapers and we are also when we become elderly adults when dying from cancer or Alzheimer’s. You just get to a point where you have to be yourself and shake-off the fear of death and personal humiliation & transform it into something funny that makes it a coping mechanism. Ultimately, we all shit ourselves many times in life…

I have seen an entire bar full of people empty out onto the street during one of your LIVE readings... angry, disgusted people. i have also seen an entire crowd go crazy enjoying the show and getting into it. what are you doing up there? is it pre-planned? how does the crowd reaction effect you? or does it?

HAHA! WOW! Yeah, I do have an idea what I am going to read and do! Number one thing I do, is be MYSELF. What you see on stage at a live reading is me. I like to have fun and be the real me. And I dig interacting with the audience, negative or positive. Any reaction is a good one, in my opinion. When folks clap listlessly just because they think they should is an atrocity to me. I feed off of any crowd reaction, the positive or the negative. I love to get heckled & I will heckle people who walk in or out of a reading I am doing…that shit makes me happy. A silent, non-reactive crowd means you are doing something boring. And sometimes, a bar emptying out is just as fun as a fun as hell as you can heckle them back as they stand outside and SMOKE! Sometimes the folks can stomach a diaper and a man getting Mohawk LIVE while you read shitty poetry—other times NOT!

Zygote has been around forever. over 10 years in the small press is like 300 years in normal people speak. What has been the best/worst of it? What keeps you at it? and what can we expect from zygote in the future?

Yeah, I think a tidbit of insanity has kept me active and moving forward with Zygote in my Coffee for all of these years…I do care about the written word and the arts in general and I wanna keep repping them as best as I can, and being an artist/writer myself keeps helps KEEP me at it. It is rough at times. No shit about that! EGOS &jealousy and other crap seems to creep into things & has created bizzaro rifts and legal shit I can NOT go into here…But, ultimately, you can expect Zygote in my Coffee and Tainted Coffee Press to move forward and continue to produce and represent the awesome artists.

The Nothing to Lose radio show has featured a wide range of guests, how did that get started? What has it been like doing a weekly show for.. how long?

Nothing to Lose” radio show is pretty much the “Zygote in my Coffee Radio” show that started as a fill-in for another show on a certain network when some one pussed out and cancelled. I must admit, it caught on and caught FIRE! And ultimately, I rolled with it and transformed it into a radio show that I would really like ZYGOTE IN MY COFFEE to be—a representation of poets, artists, musicians, etc.

Is print dead?

Well, I hope it is not. But I have to be honest, print has become a bit antiquated. I mean HELL, I used to love to read print newspapers and have a subscription to the local newspaper and read it while pooping on the porcelain throne. But who does that now? I grab my smart phone or I-pad and read the news while defecating. However, there is nothing like a nice tangible book you can feel & smell and in your hands. I reckon I am old school like that.

And finally, why do you hate poets?

HAHA! great question. I don’t hate poets really, I reckon it is more of the crazy ego stuff that happens more often than not theses days. I have been involved in organizing and having to deal with MANY-MANY live events as well as print books and online zines. And it sucks ass that you have to try to cater to some of these folks and if you don’t you get UBER bitched at or else fucked over LIVE at a show…but yeah, I dig poets...just sometimes they make it too damned easy for me to take a STAB at them because they can be egotistical bastards!

Monday, May 12, 2014



Richard Vargas


Albuquerque, New Mexico, for now.

How long have you been writing?

Long enough to know better, but too young to stop. It started at puberty. I believe there is a connection. Before that I wanted to paint, because I had an uncle who had some artistic talent, but I knew the gift wasn’t there and I lost interest. So there I was… a decent athlete, but not a standout. And I couldn’t play an instrument, so joining a band was out of the question. Then I wrote a poem in my 8th grade biology class, showed it to the girl sitting in front of me, who turned around, read it, then turned back around and looked at me like no girl had ever looked at me, and I figured, “Yeah, this works. Let’s see how far I can go with this.” When I got to high school, the teachers in my honors English classes didn’t have a clue about modern or contemporary poetry. One patronized me by giving me a paperback of anthologized rock n’ roll lyrics. That’s when I figured out my teachers, for the most part, were all style and no substance.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I sit somewhere between Charles Bukowski and Edward Field. Buk’s writing let me know nothing was off limits and “who-gives-a-fuck” if Poetry or the American Poetry Review never accepted my work, Field’s poetry showed me it was okay to wear my heart on my sleeve. I figured out the rest from there, with the help of Gerald Locklin, nila Northsun, Michael C Ford, Ron Koertge… to name a few. William Carlos Williams was an important early influence, and Robert Creeley.

Do you write as a career?

If you define it as something I’ve been doing all my life without making a living from it, then yes. Ask what I am, I’ll tell you I’m a poet. Ask me what I do for a living, that’s always something else. I’ve never identified with my job. Well, I take that back. I drove for UPS for 8 years. That was cool.

Do you write full-time?

When someone offers to pay me while I do it, I will.

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment as a writer?

Hasn’t happened yet. Seriously though, anytime someone mentions reading my work, I get the warm fuzzies.

What is your ultimate goal as a writer?

Write what I want, when I want, and make a living doing it. But that boat sailed a long time ago. I just want my work to be read by as many people as possible. When they pronounce me a genius or an asshole, I’ll be satisfied.

What is your greatest challenge as a writer?

Finding the time and filtering out daily distractions. Writing can also have a negative effect on relationships. I’ve had a few go south because I would not compromise what I do or what I write about. And that was probably for the best. But when you’re in a relationship that really matters, then it can get tricky.

What projects of yours have been recently published?

My latest book, Guernica, revisited, Press 53.  A poem was featured on the April 1st edition of Writer’s Almanac. And I’m in the process of setting up readings to promote the book. I’ll be in L.A. in August, hoping to read in the Midwest before the year is up. Would like to read in New York, if the opportunity arises. Check out the cover art by Mahwish Chishty. Her work provokes the debate on the rise of our drone culture and what it does to the people who become its targets.

What are you currently working on and what inspired this work?

I’m trying to write a series of poems to my heart, brought on by my heart attack last summer.

       How often do you write?

Not nearly as much as I should. I’m doing call center work right now. It’s a paycheck, but the trade off is it takes up my time and energy. But rent and food are important, too. Throw in promoting the new book and editing and publishing The Más Tequila Review, and I guess you could say I haven’t written anything substantial in over a year. Actually, longer than that. I had to devote all my spare time to getting my book published, because until then I was doing a half-ass job. If you have any experience with the process, you know what I’m talking about. It’s a full-time job! And it kept getting rejected. So I stepped back from everything else and dedicated myself to finding a publisher. And with the help of William Pitt Root and Pam Uschuk, it finally happened. So now, marketing, promoting, and publicizing are taking up all my free time. I enjoy reading in public, meeting my audience, adding to it, and it’s the least I can do for the publisher who took a chance on my work. But it is time consuming, and I like my time.


 How do you react to rejections?

Fuck ‘em. Their loss. The irony is, as editor of a poetry magazine, I also get to write them. I believe in keeping them short and sweet. “I’m not taking any of these poems, feel free to try again. Good luck.” I don’t believe in writing explanations or critiques. I’m not running a workshop. If you’re submitting your work, then you should have the tough skin it takes to read the rejection, and move on. It’s not personal, because there is probably someone, somewhere, who will read the rejected work and think, “This shit is golden!” It’s just not me. No harm, no foul. It happens to me all the time.

       How do you react when one of your submissions is accepted for publication?

       I’m one lucky bastard.

      What is your favorite book?

       Factotum. I grew up in a blue collar home. I remember my sisters and I unlacing my Dad’s dirty work boots and tugging them off his feet when he came home from another day at the steel mill. He had that welder’s smell on him, his khaki work shirt had small holes from the hot sparks landing on his sleeves. He’d smoke Winstons and drink a cold beer at the kitchen table, talking about the union, the boss, overtime, payday… yeah, the conversation has always been about class. Race just keeps us from addressing the real elephant in the room. That’s how capitalism continues to thrive, otherwise we would have dumped that shit decades ago.

       Who is your favorite author?

        Charles Bukowski

        If you could have dinner with one fictional character, who would it be and why?

Lenny, from Of Mice and Men. Just once I’d like to be that close to the beauty of pure       innocence.

        What is the greatest occupational hazard for a writer?

I became bitter as I approached my fifties, because I was still trying to get my first book published. I knew my work was better than a lot of the poetry getting published. I started responding to rejection letters, and in doing so, I burned a few bridges. But it felt good, and I have no regrets. Just be aware of what you’re doing and choose wisely before you send that email or mail that letter. I took on someone who pulls a lot of strings, and I’m sure he’s had some influence on the doors that have been slammed in my face. Shit happens.

        What is your favorite word?

        “Yes.” Whispered at the right time and place, nothing beats it.

        What makes you laugh?

         The comedy of Chris Rock. Everytime.


     What makes you cry?

     The end of King Kong. Everytime.

What is your preferred drink while you write?

Used to be cognac. Now? A good red wine, doctor’s orders.

Beach or Mountains?

Born and raised in so. Calif. Spent my summers as a teen at the beach, lived for going to the beach. Coppertone and bikinis, getting tanned and listening to the sounds of FM rock on my radio. Body surfing the perfect wave. Mountains are a good time, but the beach is forever.

Cats or Dogs?


The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?

The Beatles were sophisticated, had a phenomenal effect on the evolution of rock. I can listen to their music over and over. But I attended a Stones concert at the Forum in L.A., when they “borrowed” Ron Wood from the Faces, and Billy Preston was on keyboards. They rocked that place for three freaking hours. They set the standard for rock concerts, and it hasn’t been matched yet. Listening to the Beatles vs. attending a Stones concert? (Back in the day, not now.) Stones. Hands down. Some Girls.

Jimi Hendrix or Frank Sinatra?

Ask me: Jimi Hendrix or Tony Bennett? I like that question better.

Shakespeare or Bukowski?

Shakespeare. And only because without him, The Godfather never gets written. I don’t want to imagine a world without The Godfather.

    Please provide as much or as little of the following information as you’d like.

Personal website/blog:

Facebook profile or page:!/rvargas54

Twitter profile:

Other page(s) or profile(s):

      Books for sale and/or press

      Anything you’d like to share about your country, its people, or native animals?
Sure… from Guernica, revisited.

we could be heroes

the immigrant frying my fries at McDonald’s is a hero
the person in customer service telling me there will be a
five dollar charge if she assists me paying my bill over
the phone is a hero
the guy using his gas engine portable leaf blower to
move his cloud of dust across the street at 7 a.m.
on a Saturday is a hero
the state policeman in New Mexico caught in broad
daylight on video doing the wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am
with his girlfriend on the hood of her car is a hero
the Bank of (screw) America exec kicking sr. citizens
out of their homes and into the streets is a hero
the man rounding up shopping carts in the Piggly Wiggly
parking lot is a hero
the homeless dude passed out on the bench at the bus stop
is a hero
the lady behind the bulletproof glass collecting my money
where i buy gas is a hero
the attendant wiping down the machines at the laundry mat
is a hero
the hooker working Central Ave. by the sports bar is a hero
the sanitation engineer mopping the floor at the
VA hospital is a hero
the salesperson selling me two pair of eyeglasses for
the price of one is a hero
the plumber unplugging my toilet is a hero
the people who don’t know what a turn signal is for
are heroes
the mother shopping at Walmart with her teenage daughter
wearing bright orange Hooters’ shorts is a hero
the guy who shows up to figure out why my internet is
on the blink is a hero
the goofy looking young man who owns Facebook
is a hero
the Pope protecting pedophile priests is a hero
the neighbors growing their own tomatoes are heroes
the hipster posing in patio seating at the trendy bistro
sipping a microbrew is a hero
the people at home all alone in the dark watching porn
on their computers are heroes
the pro quarterback who corners an underage girl in
the women’s bathroom against her will while his pals
stand outside and block the door is a hero
the minute man racist who kills his girlfriend and then
shoots himself dead is a hero
the person with the keys to the closet where the banned
books are stored is a hero
the poet working at Starbucks with an MFA degree
in creative writing is a hero
the friend who lets the vice-president use his face
for target practice is a hero

heroes everywhere
heroes nowhere