...In-between sets from poet Cynthia Schwartzberg Edlow

August 23, 2021

Reelin' and Rockin'

Oh yes. Chuck Berry and his back, which I imagine should be capitalized, also.


March 28, 2021

On Pesach, Uncountable Thanks for Sparing the Lastborn as Well

 My first collection of poetry had about 85-90% of its poems previously published, or awarded, or something along those lines, but there were a handful of poems no one would touch with a ten-foot-pole, and now in reminiscing back on this particular poem, back when it was wending its way to a university journal or a new-ish press or a big famous magazine, for instance, I cannot help but be a- and be-mused over how unsuitable this headpiece was as their slush reading material~ 


Finally: after the battered, powerful red-and-white crane,

operated by a man called Maverick, whose huge hand

I personally shook, was raised seven stories high to the top

of Mayo Hospital, dangling steel beams like matchsticks

but scrupulously set on the roof to install higher space,

making room for even more of the unwell and terribly needy,

the sodomite prostate,

its ruffled capsule battered by voracious cancer

but not burst, and not spread to the thirsty lymph system,

had been yanked like a satanic thing out of there. By spidery robot arms.

The M.D. Ph.D. surgeon operated half a room away, fiddling

a joystick in front of a screen to burn death out of the trunk

of my husband. Yet his hands were small as a girl’s, the fingertips

tapered down like candelabra fine-drip wax. Earlier, he’d carried

a backpack to Pre-op like a high school kid on his way to first period.

Doctor doctor, I prayed and held my breath. When a terrible storm blew in

a nurse hovered over my husband, said to the medical team, If the electricity goes

I tell you that wife will be barreling through those operating room doors.

Doctor doctor, whom I could crush with one passionate hug…

five hours later he entered the little consult room

to tell me the surgery couldn’t have gone better. I swore

at the cancer, at the prostate, who we’d nicknamed Ernie,

Ernie the bad seed, and I made him tell me

three times how it had not spread, the nerves intact,

and I believed I would be able to make love to my husband again,

because he was there, alive, and his beautiful penis

might know erection once more, because I was selfish, and torn;

death had passed over this one day

our very house. I kissed the right hand of our surgeon

as if he embodied some mythical conception, the finite hand

that processed medicine and technology through the belly

of a simple man so that he could come home, and I

granted the privilege to shut the widow’s door, an empty room

with only a straight-back chair. The doctor then was up out of his seat,

would stay no longer, someone else was under anesthesia.

That person required attending.


This poem appears in The Day Judge Spencer Learned the Power of Metaphor.


November 23, 2020

Some New Poems Are Live and Not Wearing Masks

 The winter themed-issue of The Ilanot Review is called "Toxic." In it is a new poem of mine. When I posted a link to the poem on Facebook, along with it went a warning the size of a railroad crossing that went this way: "I have a poem in the aptly named "Toxic" issue of The Ilanot Review and a person tells me I am supposed to tell you a little thing about triggers. So if you have a trigger about mothers, or about metal, or bedrooms, or food, or dreamstates, or lipstick or toques or corners, you know. If you have a trigger about triggers you should most probably not read this poem."

If you've sidestepped the landmine and would still like to read the poem, please click its title: "Dream Poem of Mother Over and Above Her Kitchen-Skill Capacity."


To honor the 11th anniversary of the truly international, wondrously realized "mega-sized" (for this special occasion) literary journal Live Encounters, helmed by editor/publisher Mark Ulyseas, a man I deeply admire and respect, I contributed two new poems, "Dried Mangoes" and "Vibe Organic." The 11th Anniversary Edition became so large with beautiful poetry from around the world that Mark felt to do justice to the work being showcased he would have to create two distinct volumes, one exclusively of women poets and writers, and the second solely of men poets and writers. Here, I am posting links to both volumes, with their Table of Contents, and poem titles: 

Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume II

If you just can't help yourself and you have to read where it proclaims:
"We are all of us/marginalized" and 
"Shoots in plum jackets" -- let me step
right aside right now.


Thank you for reading.

February 28, 2020

Horn Section All Day Every Day is a 2020 Phillip H. McMath Post Publication Book Award Finalist

Phillip H. McMath Post Publication Book Award
I am honored. Along with six other finalists, my second full-length poetry collection, Horn Section All Day Every Day, is a 2020 Phillip H. McMath Post Publication Book Award Finalist. Sponsored by the Department of Writing at the University of Central Arkansas, this is the exemplary mission statement of the book award:
  • to honor the contributions of Phillip H. McMath to the Arkansas literary community;
  • highlight, and promote stellar books by emerging writers;
  • identify authors who can serve as role models for our students;
  • to develop the Arkansas Writer’s MFA Workshop Resource Fund.
Among the many reasons I am thrilled, a huge one is that on the merits of these poems alone, my book, as with the other finalists, was picked from a huge and worthy pool of poetic effort. I knew no one in Arkansas and no one knew me. There were no affiliations and no connections; no lunches were ever had, no names dropped, no somethings for somethings. I love that. I love that so much. When the poems and only the poems speak for themselves. Mightily enough. How a competition should be. Clean and true.

Many thanks to Stephanie Vanderslice, Sandy Longhorn, and all the students and teachers associated with the Department of Writing at UCA and the Arkansas Writer's MFA Workshop.  They run a boss program there in Arkansas and I hope one day I can visit and thank everyone personally. I am proud for these poems. 

...And I plan on being eternally emergent with my poetry lifework.

December 2, 2019

Live Encounters Marks a Milestone

After editor Mark Ulyseas contacted me for new poetry to include in celebration of the milestone 10th anniversary edition for Live Encounters Poetry & Writing, I was just entering the first crossroads of a new collection-in-progress where I knew it was appropriate and essentially crucial to "shed a skin." The two poems that emerged, as Mark joyfully expressed, came "freshly baked!" for his journal, emphasizing the nature of a turning, and here they are for you~
Contributors include really fantastic poets: Jeanine Hall Gailey, Sandy Yannone, Richard Jarette, David Rigsbee, Eileen Casey, and many, many more, and that's some of the roster in the second volume, alone. The first volume, too, is chock full of glorious reading! This is a beautiful journal in all respects. Hats off to Mark Ulyseas for his dedication and stewardship over a decade showcasing international poetry in his splendid journal. The entire LE Volume Two, December, 2019, 10th Anniversary Edition, at your fingertips!

August 9, 2019

No Egg, No Soy, Lots of Fiber

Someone I know talks on the phone to me, sometimes an hour goes past, and afterward I think to myself, "People in NYC actually get upwards of 250 bucks an hour for this very thing," but I listen, and am truly interested for a bunch of reasons. He's a very kind person. He knows a lot about a few pristine areas and freely shares everything he knows with me. I always have one ear courtroom-tuned where I've caught him in info that tells me he's considered "x" prior to just this once, or an approach to something set him off in the wrong direction, which is why "x" is now the situation. I miss working in law. It took me years to find great, totally ethical attorneys to work with, and really remarkable that they were the most monetarily generous. I remember that bird's-eye maple conference table that took up the entire size of the conference room. That wood was the prettiest I ever saw. All this time later, now, I know whomever did the lacquer job on that table was a master.
It looked very much like this--

A really long time ago, something like 28 years, maybe 27, someone sat me down in front of a computer. A tiny Apple computer I'm pretty sure, with a screen that was maybe 10"x 6" and that's if you measure the length before the height first. I revolted like a sprayed-on wasp's nest and kept saying all I wanted was a sheet of paper to write on, a sheet of paper and a typewriter! And this man kept patiently showing me what one key did, and another key, and all I wanted was a sheet of paper because every time I hit a key myself the thing talked back to me. It spoke. It said, "I'm tryin' to think but nothin' happened!" And I looked at the man, and I said the words I've been repeating about technology these past 3 decades, just about: We're going to hell in a handbasket now, boy! 
Because I knew, I knew it, just like Dr. Einstein knew about his bomb, they wouldn't be able to corral that thing back. Oh, to live in Mayberry with Andy. 

March 26, 2019

AWP book signing notice

There'll be some poetry book signing going on at AWP this Saturday. Come on by and say hello!

March 2, 2019

PLUME POETRY 7 is in publication and order-able--one click away!

Publisher: Canisy Press
An author roster like this is a poet's dream come true. I am thrilled to have my poetry in this anthology with these splendid, exemplary poets. You don't have to look too hard for the "needle" of my name in this haystack line-up, I'll say. I swoon just having Stephen Dunn's name above mine.

You can order your copy of the anthology today at Plume Poetry 7. I am confident this anthology will excite and satiate your literary spirit.

February 6, 2019

Old and New

The Nortown Theater, on Western Avenue, just south of Devon Avenue,
west side of the street
Gene Siskel and I both, but not together, watched the movies of our youth in this great movie theater. Stars in the blue night sky actually did twinkle above our heads. The walls were lined in jewel-toned frescoes. There were large spiral columns holding up the sky, at least as all we children thought, but the spiral columns encircling the audience seating were real.
There was a second story to the building, where a marble staircase led you to the marble ladies' restroom. Once inside, it was magical to an 11-year-old. I will never forget the metal machine affixed to the restroom wall at which you could purchase, for two quarters, ladies' private needs, bobby pins, soft thick wrapped kleenexes, and most fantastically, a rich, red miniature lipstick. Ah, Debbie and Geralyn and me, we were swept away. 

It was at the Nortown Theater we saw Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet over a dozen times, Buster and Billie, still a film dear to my heart on so many emotional levels, on top of which with that gorgeous Hoyt Axton theme song, oh! The Exorcist, once and once only. I believe it scared me so much I did sleep with the light on in my closet for a week. So many, many movies. You know the phrase--it holds truer here about theaters than almost anyplace: they really don't make them like they used to. I think I bought that lipstick once. I think also I was too timid to try it on.

Meanwhile, front and center, I've been teaching poetry workshops quite often and having a grand time. I have a student who has published a new chapbook with a fine press for which I have provided a blurb and the book is sublime. I'll write more on that on a future post. Gads of other students are sending their brand-new shopped poems out all over the place! I'm thrilled for them and their best cheerleader. Here's a photo of one of my classes at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe--these folks are great people, and very good poets.
Poetry Ms. Workshop Students
They've inspired me to light a fire, finally, under my own self. No less than eight poems for my next full collection are in progress as I write this blog post. I'm very happy that my muse has returned and unpacked his bags. Always a good sign.

October 31, 2018

Poem Acceptances Are the Best Candy


McCall's vintage pattern for a "Poet Shirt" costume
What's better than chocolate and candies? I used to think nothing, but things do change...this morning I received not one but two poem acceptances, one from an outstanding annual anthology, and the second from a well-read and much-respected literary journal, so I'm good if I go put on an old white nightgown, wrap a black leather belt around it and swashbuckle my way into throwing something in the skillet tonight for dinner. Eye patch, I need an eye patch. I can't help it; it looks more like a "pirate" than a "poet" shirt to me.

Bring two eye patches, please. Keep one for yourself.