Shattered Wig #28

Shattered Wig #28
Coming In November!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Shattered Wig 28 Preview #6 - "A Poem of Rupert Wondolowski as Dreamed by Chris Mason"


Chris Mason is a member of The Tinklers and Old Songs Archaic Greek Poetry translation project. A book of poems,HUM WHO HICCUP, will be published in late 2010.


This piece is not only a preview of Shattered Wig Review #28,but also of Chris's new book Hum Who Hiccup, which is coming out in November on Baltimore's Narrow House Press.

This Sunday, October 3rd, is a fundraiser for the book at the Windup Space on North Ave. It runs from 6 to 10 and if you go your ticket entitles you to a free copy of the book when it drops. Music will be provided Old Songs, Lurch & Holler and Sweatpants. Chris Mason will read and Lauren Bender will perform.

Shattered Wig 28 Sneak Preview #7 - "Conductivity" by Stephanie Barber


one conducts electricity or symphonies, big bands or
trains or themselves with restraint.
some imagine the molecules of their body dissolving,
feet first and half greek,
into beams of light and being sucked up into
the myriad wires that criss cross cities.

they find solace in the sensation of their electro
magnetic ray feet lifting them
up off the earth and scattering flugel horn like through the city.

some find solace in the winning of bingo--
i heard that a woman named mary won at bingo last night.
i heard larry took her out for breakfast this
morning and sheila bought her a piece
of cake for her birthday which isn't until wednesday
but from what i gather sheila won't see her on wednesday.

that goddamned mary has all the luck in the world.
what do you bet me she'll wake up on wednesday
morning and at the foot of her glorious four post bed
with the delicate floral duvet
will be lying a white, baby tiger
who is house broken and will never grow up.

he will always be a 30 pound white baby tiger!

and probably he can talk too.
and listen--oh what a great and empathic listener that
eternally adorable talking baby tiger is.

women like mary have no time for imagined dissolvings.
that sort of nonsense is simply banal to a woman like mary.


Stephanie Barber has had screenings of her film and video work at MoMA, NY, Anthology Film Archives, San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center, Chicago Filmmakers and The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Her performances have been featured at the Baltimore Museum of Art, The Milwaukee Museum of Art, The Haggerty Museum of Art and galleries and artspaces around the world.

Her book these here separated to see how they standing alone or the soundtracks of six films by stephanie barber was first printed in 2008 by Publishing Genius Press and a second, revised edition of it was just issued.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fundraiser Party For New Chris Mason Book!

This event is so momentous I had to post four pictures of the flyer! Okay, it's mainly because I couldn't figure out how to break up the pdf Master Justin Sirois sent me.....

This saintly wise old gent Chris Mason is blowing up, as well he should. In a figurative way. This new book on Narrow House collects a huge amount of Chris's work over the last few years. Of late he's become known more as a rock star, but his primary work has always been in language. In fact, he was even in the LANGUAGE anthology. If you come to this event you not only get great entertainment from Old Songs, Sweatpants, Lurch and Holler and Lauren Bender and a reading from the man himself, but your ticket assures you a free copy of the book when it comes out.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Shattered Wig 28 Sneak Preview #5 - "TWWDATOETOAA" by Justin Sirois

Narrow House week continues here at Shattered Wig World Empire.


this was written during a time of extreme turbulence

on an airplane. If these synapses are firing poorly

blame the air pressure inside the composition

not my craftsmanship. There will be a time

when we won’t need devices & there will

be a time when I will grab your ankle

as firm as milk


a hotel can only be remodeled so many times

until it creates a vacuum inside the atrium

& the happy hours crack the aquariums

& you can hear the groans of devaluation.

Somehow, you sleep better in rented

rooms. When the air conditioner is turned up

is it colder or hotter?

do you remember?


let’s reconsider Georgia O’Keeffe


ok, now that that’s over with

let’s replay that movie where we’re in bed & I

grab your ankle – every time I

turn it just a little, the equity of the house

increases & decreases. We feel richer

then poorer

then richer

then poorer

then sandwiches


I hold our ankle over your head for


& lean in the direction of need


Justin Sirois is a writer living in Baltimore, Maryland. His books include MLKNG SCKLS (Publishing Genius) and Falcons on the Floor (forthcoming, Pub G.) written with Iraqi refugee Haneen Alshujairy. He also runs the Understanding Campaign with Haneen and co-directs Narrow House. Justin received individual Maryland State Art Council grants in 2003, 2007, and 2010.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Shattered Wig 28 Sneak Preview #4 - "Deca" by Jamie Gaughan-Perez


Would a salve for the weight on your shoulders just leave you a wetter weight?

This is against that and that, too.

Some treatments call for repeated application. Some problems ask for continuous pressure.

Some states are contiguous.

Some continents are lazier (than others), like rivers and dogs familiar with foxes.

And some foxes fly, and they are bats, too.

Spiders are good for houses.

Landscape paintings are good for houses, less so for landscapes.

And landscape printing is your best bet for spreadsheets and sitemaps.

Are you following? I'm the one in the pool. Look at me.


Jamie Gaughran-Perez is a co-director of Narrow House, a Baltimore-based small press and literary arts organization. He's also a creative strategist for Threespot in D.C., and plays bass in Sweatpants (the band, not the clothing).

Editor's Note: But don't let Jamie fool you, he can rock a set of velour sweatpants like James Franco can rock a mohair sweater.

For those following along on their Dr. Strange decoder rings, it is now looking like Shattered Wig Review #28 will arrive shortly before the pilgrims in November. This here Gaughan-Perez poem will be in it along with some dynamite new Austin, Texas work by Al Ackerman, Michael Kimball, Justin Sirois, Amanda Pollock, ethnomusicologist Ian Nagoski, artist Roy Green and much much more.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Delicious First Worms of Season & Making Wicked Cash off Celebrity Poems

I am so very glad I fought my inner nature and nasty allergies or chest cold or Nazgul bite to leave my nest shortly after a hard lone day of laboring in the bittersweet fields of cultural retail to catch the first WORMS reading of the new fall season.

How I love that phrase "new fall season". As a kid it meant the sharp crisp terror of a new year of school, but that terror also brought exciting adrenaline, new faces, transformations of old faces and maybe a couple of cool shirts (except for that unfortunate year when my dad was assigned to taking me shopping and he outfitted me like a '20s Chicago pimp - including a white belt!!! And two-toned shoes). And yes, the new television season, bringing new "Green Hornet", new "Batman", my tiny brain sizzling up like an egg pan in a Sunday morning Waffle House.

Now it means a thick Sunday edition of the New York Times with a peak at all the upcoming films, music, theater and art. Of course that doesn't cover the tasty crepuscular items creeping from the underground and trying to seep into public consciousness, but it's such a refreshing moment to hold that massive amount of print telling you of things to come after a summer of bad action movies.

The lineup for the WORMS premiere was a siren call that I could not resist - Stephanie Barber, Justin Sirois, Adam Robinson, Chuck Green and Donna Sellinger. Last year WORMS rotated its facilities after a few were held at the Zodiac. This year it has moved to a new space in the Bell Foundry where pioneer humans have just set up sterno stoves and laid their bindlestiffs in a few days before. The actual reading space was in a heavily spraypainted basement with a parking garage vibe and to get there you had to go through a Beirut corridor. This addled old man was aided by elvin folk cooking at the end of the hall who told me to grab a chair, take a right and go down the stairs. "He will never make it and the stink of his corpse will sadly be for many who visit here a bookmark of their sense memory," one of them said while sprinkling cumin on a seiten fish stick.

When I got downstairs there were already five great old friends sitting scattered among the vast concrete. Our hellos echoed grandly and messed with my allergy clogged hearing. The space quickly filled, Stephanie Barber came bounding in with her dad who seemed a day or two older than her and WORMS host Bob O'Brien genially took the "stage". Abandoning the format of last year of opening with fake letters written to WORMS, Bob read from an actual internet site devoted to making a fortune off writing celebrity poetry. It included such inane advice as "write about celebrities that you actually like." "You can post every day or once a week."

Inspired by this I think I will write James Franco celebrity poetry.

"No Flatness No More"

There was a moment

late in the one cherished season

of "Freaks and Geeks" where Muttonchops

got angry at you, thinking you'd spread

the word about his hermaphrodite

girlfriend. There was only a response

of tender pain in your eyes that

was deep and moving. You also were

impassive as crazy Kim beat Hell

out of you for something you

didn't do. I also almost wept

when you played Dungeons & Dragons

with the geeks. Your lonesomeness

and fear of an empty future

were palpable as a cafeteria

hairnet lying in cold gravy.

Then you

were in Spiderman and Hollywood

had pithed you. You were placed around

the sets like a cardboard cut-out

and cameramen placed their coffee cups

on top of you. But going back to

Muttonchops. Do you ever run into

that foul hobgoblin that is like an

evil munchkin young brother of him

who sprang from his 'fro & id?

He is poison come to life without

a neck and no court would convict

you if you put a bullet in him.

And how did Judd Apatow go from

making a television series with

classic film values to making

films with hollow sitcom tv values

plus the freedom to flame out in

foul new teen boy misogyny.

But I am keeping you up,

you must rest for all your classes

and art shows. You wore

sweaters well in "Milk",

once again kind of inert, but

comfy smiley inert, exuding a

a Golden Lab smell. I would like

to take a nap with you.

I don't think

you can summon the spirit of

Ginsberg, but I will enjoy

watching you try.

Hmmmnnn, not so good. I will have to work on that.

At most readings, even one like this where the quality across the board was stellar, there is one reader that penetrates my psychic fog the most to glisten with pure word joy and this night it was lead-off writer Stephanie Barber. I've heard her a few times and enjoyed it, but this batch and her performance of it was entertaining as hell and also gave the listener a real good insight into the writer's process.

Chuck Green gave me a feeling of a Mod kid approach with his t-shirt that had his name printed on it and a tale of yachting with Oprah Winfrey, but the story was well-crafted and the simple performance device of a mini-megaphone was effective and refreshing.

Donna Sellinger had some killer lines and descriptions, but cough syrup memory prevents me from sharing them here.

I think it was after Donna's story that a short break was taken for folks to grab free "throwback" Pepsis and Mountain Dews and to peruse the various small press literary offerings on view.

After the tumultuous echo-laden break the leading small press giants of Baltimore right now, Justin Sirois of Narrowhouse and Adam Robinson of Publishing Genius performed to a large attentive audience who were eating them up. Justin read some of the pieces I had heard him read a few nights before at Normal's and he read with a very different spirit that gave a few of the pieces an almost entirely different feel. Last Saturday they felt ebullient almost to the point of cocky, where this night the words held a lot of wistfulness and melancholy. At one point Justn held the bust of Thor that had been placed on a small bookshelf behind the readers for atomosphere for comfort and solace as he read his last pieces.

Adam went last and seemed to be having a good time. His usual fairly long comic pauses were slowed even more to almost a Beckett length, as if - and perhaps he was -he was still considering the thoughts he was sharing as he shared them. At the rate of change in publishing these days, most likely in a year or so you will be able to converse with Adam and his thoughts through a DNA chip in his book.

In the meantime, Adam has two new old school printed paperbacks just out on his press, by Mike Young and Rachel Glasser, that I need to check out. Plus Narrow House is publishing a collection of longtime experimental and populist poet Chris Mason of The Tinklers and Coo Coo Rockin' Time and Old Songs in November. How will I find time to drive my new bride insane when there is so much good reading to do???

Monday, September 13, 2010

I'm Thinking of My Mother

the struggle of the flesh

how she asked if there was something she
had to do about the trees outside

the hospital

the twin towers hadn't fallen yet
Bush hadn't destroyed the world
but there was a huge brownish-red
pool of blood just sitting unattended
in the middle of a hallway that
ran through
what was supposed to be a reputable place

our questiions to the doctors were
met with the disdain of video store clerks

of all the things she'd forgotten
my name our names, the names of all
the flowers she'd tended for all her
life, she looked up at the tv news
and spoke the name of the scumbag
who killed his wife, dumped her
in the ocean
and led everyone on a merry suburban chase.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Reading Saturday September 18th At The Corner of Poetry and Main

I have the happy honor and privilege to be reading with professor Shelley Puhak Saturday, September 18th in Westminster. The last time I was in Westminster it was for the Shakemore Festival and that day turned out pretty good. This is one of the many poetry series that Cliff Lynn curates. He must talk in his sleep at night waving his arms like a traffic cop trying to keep them all straight.

Shelley was a frequent reader at Shattered Wig Nights all the way back in the early '90s when she was about fifteen and had to have a guardian present. She would read barefoot sitting cross-legged on the dusty floor of the 14 Karat Cabaret. She is also the person who turned crusty hardened former Navy man Cliff Lynn onto poetry. She also seems to own a dog who looks very much like my beloved dog Max.

Shelley's most recent book is Stalin in Aruba. Here is a review of it from Neon:

Review: Stalin In Aruba by Shelley Puhak

For someone for whom the word "historical" has always had connotations of "stuffy" and "boring", historical fiction has held little interest. Therefore I was expecting Shelley Puhak's recent chapbook Stalin In Aruba (published by Black Lawrence Press) to be a dull read. In actuality the collection is impressively strong, and conveys a surprising variety of depth and feeling.

Despite his titular presence, the erstwhile dictator is not the main focus of the collection. Although his presence is to be felt in several of the poems (such as "Stalin, Alone" and "The Dictator's Daughter from a Nursing Home in Wisconsin", both of which paint him in a very human light), he seems to be more of a recurring theme than a focal point around which the whole collection moves.

In fact, many other historical figures do feature prominently in Stalin In Aruba. In "My Life With Perseus" we see the Greek legend of Perseus and Medusa relocated to a modern American high school, and in "Torch" we are told of the people behind three suicides by self-immolation that occured in the 1960s.

Although to some degree fictionalised, these poems are rarely frivolous. Puhak has done her research. A glance through the notes section reveals several annotations that are almost poems in themselves. A fine example can be seen in the note that accompanies "Meeting the Secret Police Chief, 1930":

"The poet Osip Mandelstam and the future secret police chief Yezhov both vacationed at the same resort on the Black Sea in 1930. The men met and even dined together. Eight years later Mandalstam would die in a forced labour camp."

It is the authenticity of these poems that is their strength. Even those that do not deal with a certain historical figure are richly woven and dense with a feel of personal history. In fact, it is some of the more obscure pieces that showcase Puhak's best work. Take these lines from "The Alumni Magazine" for example:

"You look back and you either feel better
or you feel worse about the days
you spent silent, curled up in your chair.
You wore your uniform skirt
short, like all of the girls,
but you had a slouch, sloping
into hips, that made you look bored
and back then, that was
all there was to looking smart."

The sense of intimate personal knowledge that permeates this poem is typical of the others in the collection. For its unique texture Stalin In Aruba is a consistently engrossing read. This first collection is a confident debut by a quietly talented writer.

Stalin In Aruba is avaliable from Black Lawrence Press.

The Corner of Poetry and Main with Shelley Puhak and Rupert Wondolowski

Location birdie's cafe and coffee house
233 East Main St.
Westminster, MD


Created By Cliff Lynn


More Info with special musical guest Julia Rose!!

join R.J Ridgely and Cliff Lynn as they continue to bring the best poets that will read for nothing other than bragging rights to westminster. open reading included in the evening's events.

Rupert Wondolowski recently returned to the tiny silverish screen in Michael Kimball and Luca DePierro's film "60 Writers/60 Places". His most recent book The Origin of Paranoia as a Heated Mole Suit has... sold out two printings on Publishing Genius Press and is teetering on the brink of extinction. Rupert's work has also recently been included in CityLit's anthology City Sages: Baltimore along such memorable authors as Gerty Stein, Mugs Mencken, Edgar Alan Poe, Michael Foxtrot Kimball and Adam Robinson. Having just found out that it costs $400 to rent a damn party tent all his fears that his love and labor in the used book field has been for naught have been confirmed.

SHELLEY PUHAK lives in Baltimore and is Writer-in-Residence at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland. She earned her MFA from the University of New Orleans and her MA in Literature from the University of Delaware. Her poems have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, New Delta Review, New South, Third Coast, and other journals. Her essays have appeared in Fourth Genre, The Baltimore Sun and Road & Travel. Shelley has experience leading workshops for writers of all ages and abilities. To set up a reading or class visit, send an email to:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

You Never Know When Or Where An Elvis Impersonator Will Show Up

Back in my callow youth, when I believed myself immortal and a quart of Colt 45 put wings beneath my soul - or at least fooled me into thinking those rusted hooks were wings - my friends and I used to laugh, partially with empathetic horror, at a strange little documentary called something like "Rock N Roll Legends". Like a lot of footage you watch in your youth I have no idea where it came from, other than some cable show, and it was fairly blurry, but it left long lasting impressions.

It followed a handful of devout Elvis fans after The King's fairly pathetic early exit, clutching peanut buttery bananas on the john with multi-colored pills dancing like Vegas sequins in his blurry bloodshot eyes. One woman had uprooted her young children from school to move closer to Graceland. She spoke with complete conviction and without a trace of doubt, even as she related how family members disowned her after the apparently whimsical act.

Another affected family was a father and son where the father was a semi-professional Elvis impersonator and he was training his son in the same field. I'll never forget the shot of the 12 year mop-headed boy standing in late era Elvis gaudiness with wet glistening eyes of fear and shame. It would take a resurrected Kafka to truly tell the son's tale.

But then this last Saturday I went to an old friend's wedding. A wild and wacky poet girl, Barbara DeCesare, who survived the '90s Baltimore poetry scene to continue writing, raise children and still look 30. Sadly, she didn't tell me ahead of time, "Hey chucklehead, you might want to bring your camera". I've been carrying that small digital thing around with me so much of late that it is like a shiny tumor that has replaced part of my vision. So many nights up late downloading (or is it uploading?) photos onto my tiny notebook laptop, hearing Everly say "Honey, when are you coming to bed?" only to find out hours later that Everly is no longer even in the bed. She has stuffed a few old pillows with straw and sewn them together with a corn stalk wig and taken off for the El Dorado lounge where she dances lasciviously with our plumber while Cornell Woolrich drinks Manhattan after Manhattan at the U-shaped bar, dreaming up the Hells that await whoever is the husband of that feisty Alabama gal who looks like one of the girls in the B-52s dancing with all the sailors on shore leave and making them laugh with stories about her feeb hubby at home toying with his photos of flowers and gerbils re-enacting Orson Welles movies in little shoebox theater sets.

At any rate, I'd been using my camera so much lately that I purposely didn't take it to Babs' wedding. "This will prevent some OCD activity," I told my left hand, which passed it along to my upper thigh. Then Everly, Chris Toll (good Lord, another Chris Toll car trip!) and I drove to Red Lion, PA, where 57 people live among 26 churches, all of them grand. We walk into the wedding reception at the Great American Saloon and the place is filled with stuffed mountain goats, a thirty foot by thirty foot aquarium filled with piranha and flags from all over the world. The walls are some kind of ancient Elk Lodge wood and the tables are filled with cool little robot toys and bowling doo-dads. We barely get done jamming as many little cheese cubes and fruit squares into our mouth as fast as you can say "Britney Spears' Beaver Shot!" when canned music explodes from the pa system and an Elvis impersonator comes running out! A skinny Elvis impersonator who looks suspiciously like Jim Belushi.

There is enough pancake makeup on him to cook some tandoori chicken. His hair is sculpted and looks like it could cut through tandoori chicken. He is wearing the requisite white jumpsuit with sequins and colored studs, but he actually kicks some vocal ass. He does a tasteful minimum of the Vegas years moves, does more of like a vogueing of them or perhaps alludes to them. And the ladies, ladies from many different rungs of the economic strata and of many different cultural types, went wild. Including my Everly, who did some beautiful kind of bunny hop frug that made me fall in love all over again once more, even though she was doing it for this echo of a fallen icon who was an echo of black soul.

What all is enacted in the frenzied worship of the Elvis figure? The permission among civil society for even aged matrons to gyrate and wiggle and hump-de-humpty? Is the symbol of Elvis, especially late Elvis, like a reverse of that old childrens' game "Statues" where you have to remain frozen in your one selected pose until the spell is broken - in this case you get to be as wild-assed tacky and dorky until the Elvis wig is no longer visible?

All I can say is that during his half hour or so of performing I didn't once think "Okay you fake chintzy cheeseball, get your ass off the stage and go back to cleaning toilets at the Ramada Inn." The bubble wasn't burst until much later when we were outside getting air and bogarting the free photo booth (especially Kim Jong EV who normally won't even let you take her damn picture! You couldn't keep her out of the photo booth. Little children were crying because they hadn't even gotten their first crack at it and Everly had strips of her likeness gathered around her ivory ankles like the needles that fell from Charlie Brown's Christmas tree), listening to entertaining stories from David Fair (another David Fair event! What a summer!) about his homeless, jobless wanderings in California in the '70s, when lo and behold, the Elvis signifier came out of the bar part of the place with his slim assistant/girlfrend who looked harder than Aunt Eugene's washboard and he was wearing black loafers! I'm not sure if there were tassles or not, I couldn't look that closely. But somehow he still was able to carry off that sculpted shellacqued lacquered black ax wig with some dignity in broad daylight in a strip mall parking lot in PA, where just about only The Great American Saloon and a Karate class remained standing in the ashes of the American dream.

And perhaps it's for the best that I didn't have my "real" camera. That I had to resort to feverishly pressing the tiny button on my B grade cellphone to capture the elusive shadows you see here. It has always been said that he or she who looks directly at the face of God will die instantly.