I live with my wife in a northern exurb of Westchester, surrounded by privilege and abundant natural beauty. My poems derive more from human nature, however, and my mind has been shaped by years of pop culture: countless hours of music, films, television, news, and more. Through teaching, I get to share my love of literature and the importance of responsible journalism. My poems and short stories have been published in numerous journals. My first collection, Small Consolations (Aldrich Press), can be found on Amazon.com. A chapbook, Memory Marries Desire, will be out in March. It currently can be pre-ordered at FinishingLinePress.com.
Give me the myth of our ritual,
living in this impermanent world,
with nuclear whispers on the wind.
We could be so avant-garde,
yet I don’t trust the shackles
of your crazy logic and
your language riddles me with doubts.
It’s a warehouse of meaningless sentiment,
a host of stereotypical responses.
When you preach to me,
I see the aged ghosts
laughing behind you.
They wait impatiently for conflict,
but here’s a shock to the system:
nothing drives the plot.
Our mundane daily routine
remains uninfected by the mystical.
The miracle of precise communication
is no closer than it was before
that horribly meaningless war,
and now you wave a tired arm and sigh.
Each time I discard these crutches
they appear anew, a tool to raise me
from this usual ditch, where poor-fitting
boots elevate me to this weathered rostrum
where I can continue to pretend
against all odds
to be a poet.
The museum’s long cast iron windows
let in streams of refracted light;
these golden arrows point the way
to glass display cases that reveal
the cursive precision of
one romantic poet from centuries past
who composed sonnets full in his head
long before ever touching quill to paper:
lines of perfect iambic pentameter,
well wrought and committed
with meticulous care to an ideal page
in a pretend world without flaws.
The next book is its direct opposite,
chaotic meanderings of the wild jocular Irishman
whose obsession with language led to
scribbles, doodles, lines crossed out and more.
This sorry mess of ink-stained genius,
a hectic collage of ideas struggling
to find order and expression,
captures the ongoing discontent
of one dedicated beyond reason
to achieving precision of meaning,
striving for years toward a particular vision,
a flawless Fibonacci sequence of sentence.
Standing on metaphorical shoulders
of these literary giants,
I take in the long view,
knowing my college-ruled notebook
is full of pastiche and borrowed phrases,
trite and hackneyed emotions
that my adolescent angst feels
as full of import, moving and real.
Perhaps some muse’s magic
might yet transform them
from cave painting
to studied Dutch master.
It was there in that cavernous hall
that I flew above the polite crowd
of paying spectators, riding the particles
of the dusk’s dying light unnoticed.
That cold afternoon I also committed
to a life in art, a silent self’s promise
to keep at the simple and complex process
of transforming thought and feeling
into some memorable combination
of graceful heartfelt intelligence,
some phantasmagoric cavalcade
greater than the sum of its parts.
Not for us
The tenor and timbre are similar
whether form response or personal:
they speak of appreciating the chance
to read, reread and carefully consider,
but these aren’t quite right,
they are not a good fit,
in short, they are not for us.
Best wishes are sent
in sending stuff elsewhere
and thanks extended
for the trust implicit
in choosing this journal or contest.
The backlog caused this delay,
and you have our apologies,
but please wait a month before submitting again.
They are messages of regret,
of numerical odds working against you,
of bad timing or fickle fate,
of clashing aesthetics or
the planets being poorly aligned.
Sometimes it’s not about the work,
for politics exist in the smallest arenas,
and personal visions and
often rule the day.
This is the moment of discouragement,
denied even the decency of some account
why your work has been declined.
Is it better to hear that these works
would be improved by greater concision
or more original language,
that while your message is inspirational
your words are prosaic, your syntax disjointed,
your rhythm unregulated?
Are you better for knowing
you lack an emotional point of access,
that such emotions seem disembodied
or overly sentimental,
the action too static and rife
with clichéd assertions,
that there is redundancy,
too much formality,
or not enough?
The language is underspecified,
or possibly too abstract.
Yet your words are lovely things,
No doubt they will find suitable homes
in short order. Our loss, they say,
much luck and hope you continue to prosper.
But for now, it’s a no,
So good luck dealing
with this temporary setback.
First published in Eunoia Review
Each of their stories and poems
begins with an alarm clock ringing.
This is how their daily lives start;
this is writing what they know.
They seem unable to grasp
the idea that conflict propels action,
that something should be at stake
when seeking an interested reader.
Instead, he gets character sketches
of best friends and relatives, or
that spout clichés at every turn.
At night, there are exasperated sighs
that no one will hear, and a red pen
working overtime, suggesting, emending.
Tomorrow is a new day, another chance
to let that alarm clock ring, in hopes
inspiration and talent will answer the call.
©2016 Gary Glauber