Shattered Wig #28

Shattered Wig #28
Coming In November!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Julie Fisher Remained Clothed Throughout Book Release

(Picture above taken with Smeary Blurry App on my six year old Kellogg's cellphone)

For three years I lived imprisoned in the basement of a Unitarian Church. I forget now the circumstances. My only contact with the outside world was that Chris Toll, Baltimore poet and friend, would once a week bring me Popeye's spicy chicken and news of the outside poetry world:

"You know that scene in Monty Python's 'The Meaning of Life' where that overworked working class British woman whose house is already filled with dozens of unwashed wild urchins is washing dishes and drops another newborn without pausing from her labor so to speak? Well, this new kid Michael Kimball is dropping out new novels like that. His agent keeps finding new ones lying in different corners of the house whenever he goes over there for a glass of fine Malbec and to discuss Kimball's latest surgery.

"That Milwaukee guy Adam who works the internet and the reading series like Xavier Hollander worked Johns, actually ascended to the Heavens like that blessed girl in Marquez' One Hundred Years of Solitude. No one else was raptured, but Joe Young claimed he was there when it happened and that he saw the face of the Supreme Being who summoned Adam. Apparently He had a big wide goofy grin and yelled down to Adam 'Be sure to bring a mitt! And a sixpack!'

"Other than that, Barbara DeCesares is keeping Big Boyz Bail Bonds in business, enabling them to crank out those damn pens that you see everywhere - including in the hands of a Hopkins biologist on a segment of Eyewitness News - and Barbara and this Julie Fisher woman are holding all kinds of 'Sex' and 'Per Verse' and nude reading series. Julie even hired a lawyer for this one event on North Avenue in case things got really freaky.

"Of course, my pastor advises me against going to these things, but as an Elder Statesman of Baltimore poetry I feel obliged to keep up with things, even when they tip over into wild-eyed hedonism. Plus, someone has to hold Barbara's mink while she recites Plath while belly dancing."

What Chris told me on these visits kept my mind reeling while the Popeye's he brought me kept my stomach roiling. Who was this Julie Fisher and what drove her to air her goodies at such a feverish pace? Eventually I wrote "And the Horse You Rode In On, It Too Shall Be Ridden Naked By Julie Fisher". I was fairly happy with it, I got to parade Allen Ginsberg and Sammy Davis, Jr. around in it, but where to read it? I read it at Jamie Gaughan-Perez' apartment once and the reaction was horror.

Then Furniture Press decided to put out a new book by Julie, Skittering Thing and my wait was over. Of course I had to swallow my pride and shame as I heard fellow readers Femi the Drifish, David Native Son and Olu Butterfly read beautiful poems of love and social justice, but luckily Sir Alan Reese brought the tone back down with a piece about barbed wire underwear. Ah, the bar was back down into the nether regions so I could read my homage illness.

The show was well assembled by Julie herself. She booked Baltimore poets they she interacted with in the chronological order of when she met them, with the most recent going first. And as Femi pointed out, Julie truly does mix with the most circles of Baltimore poetry. Another thoughtful touch of the evening was the introductions that Julie wrote for each reader that Furniture Press honcho and host Christophe Casamassima read. At least a few performers, including myself, have said they want to use the intros for future biographies. And for the good of ailing wobbly ego, here is what kind Julie wrote for me:

Rupert Wondolowski-I love Rupert's paranoid bravado. He tells us all about scary things, and perverse things and even downright disturbing things but with a kind of sensual attention to detail delivered in a juxtaposing stream of consciousness that makes it all seem almost comforting. And just when we feel at ease he shows us another clown!

Of course, little did I know that Italian Futurist Barb DeCesares had a counterpunch awaiting me after the break where I was cast as myself in one of her little infernal plays voyaging to the afterlife with Julie cast as herself in her version of heaven with nude beaches, nude thrift stores and an orgy loving granny played masterfully (a show stealer, actually),, by none other than Commander Toll himself. Another fine performance was put in by Alan Reese as poet Barrett Warner.

Below is one of the lines I was forced to speak at gunpoint while Eugene O'Neill clawed at the dirt above his mealy corpse:

"But this is a nude beachand all I have to conceal my genitals with is a handful of marshmallows from Lucky Charms cereal".

Thanks Barbara. Yes, it has indeed been a long, slow painful descent since getting the "Best Actor" award for playing a character called "Life" in a High School one act play called "The Slave with Two Faces".

After Mrs. Fisher read from her fine new tome the icing was put on the cake with a closing performance by one man band Her Fantastic Cats. He even put his own signature on the classic old traditional "The Cuckoo".

Father Toll and I then happily but wearily stumbled through the darkened Goucher campus seeking my car and Adderol from passing frightened co-eds.

(Picture below taken with Inadequately Captured Distant Image App)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

"Body of Christ" by Lily Herman

Body of Christ

Three words millions lazily
drawl in the course
of their otherwise-occupied
days. I watch them and
count how few
actually picture
that tender skin
aged so briefly before
it ripped itself open
and invited them,
a pack of unsympathetic
strangers, to enter paradise
by a short walk
through all of its wounds.

No matter the master
of its mind, a body
at thirty-three
rejects for a bedmate
death, and all its rotting
corpulent companions, his
lungs and kidneys cry out
to be taken to a man
who will think more
generously on their behalf,
give them their proper
due, in hours spent
accruing the glorious
mold of old age
like fine clothes
stored in a wet

And what of Mary.
Who must have remembered
as do the mothers of all
errant sons, the shape
of her infant in her arms,
the milk that passed
between them, not made
merely of light
but of her own systems
and struggles. The news
of his fast bringing with it
the instinct, which never
leaves a woman, to feed
the one she bore
out from the abyss
by the sweat of her

His hair, raked
with thorns as always
it is in photographs,
would have been
better suited by a chain of
daisies, or the delicate gold
gifted by a shy admirer, or
as is often the case
with youth, unhindered
in its beauty by decoration
at all.

If the son needed
to suffer, that we might
be free, why must
it have been that moment
we chose to portray him
as one of us? A prophet
is one of us. A bard,
a baptist, a whore with her
head perpetually bent
to the feet of great
men—washing, washing,
and yet none of these
would we dream of undoing
bodily, or if so, no
one would tell stories
about it. It is only
at the glance of a god
that we raise our weapons
and shoot him who dares
to stir placidly like a buck
in the woods, leave him
bleeding out, leave the meat
as an offering to our future

selves, for all the wrongs
we still intend to commit.
No one thinks of him
with goose bumps after
the sun went down
in Judea, or the pleasure
that must have imbeded
itself upright
like a rod in his spine
when he first learned his hands
brought happiness to those
who had ailed
for so long. All forms
celebrate their own triumphs.

Sharon Olds wrote about the Pope’s
penis because she was too
frightened to look Christ
in the eye. But there it is:
as a beast’s, and right
where it should be, used
as daily as anyone else’s,
if one is to say, God
as man, one cannot avert
their gaze from the perfection
of men. Perfect

they are, we are to say,
thanks to him
and his yielding torso,
giving itself over as one
relents to persistent
love, concedes that all
they’ve ever had is not theirs
until, blissfully,
bloodily, it belongs
to someone else, too.


Lily Herman lives in Baltimore. A collection of her poems called Better than some, not as good as some others, was released by Furniture Press Books in 2011. She runs a reading series called “ILLITERATI” out of the Pent House Gallery in the Copy Cat building, and co-writes a blog of food stories called "What I Ate Where" with her cohort Adrian Shirk. She lives with seven dreamy humans and one cat, who, darling though he is, manages to stay almost entirely out of her poems.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I Have Made It On To a Tote Bag!

To quote from the oft quoted Beckett masterpiece, The Unnameable: "I'll never know, in the silence you don't know, you must go on, I can't go on, wait, my name's on a tote bag, I'll go on."

I made it to the Publishing Genius book release party for Senor Powerhouse Justin Sirois' novel detailing the horrors of Fallujah, Falcons On The Ground and not only got to see some great friends and hotshot Baltimore writers and bon vivants, finally get to hear legendary anthropologist/philosopher/writer Alphonso Lingis read, soak in Adam Robinson's thoughtful interview of Justin on stage about the writing of the book and then get to hear Justin read from the book, but I also had the pleasant surprise of scanning the merch table - looking for some unguarded french fries or a just opened Coke - and seeing a fresh red and black Publishing Genius tote bag made for the recent AWP conference with my long-assed name among a bunch of other folks who I admire.

If only my momma were still alive to see the family name brandished on a thick durable tote that will one day carry Everly's Perrier (in about two hours later that night), Little Debbie Devil Squares and various tomes. Of course, mom would probably still have loaded the bag with oranges and beat me with them, taunting me with "Diane Rehm's got her own fucking radio show, tote bags are what they give the rubes who give money to her station."

And cheers to Justin for his fantastic new book, to Iraqi refugee Haneen Alshujairy who helped him research it and to Adam Robinson for putting it out there in the literary wilds. The interview before Justin's reading touched on, among other things, the battle between making what you hope is a lasting work of art that will engage a reader versus partisan propaganda. Which reminded me of some old Revolutionary Communist pals who would only read novels that spoke explicitly of armed revolution.

Justin's apt illustration was the work of Sue Coe. Surely heart felt, but if you're walking through a gallery of it you know exactly what you're going to see. And most likely you're only seeing her work because you already are sympathetic to its message.

And here's to a wild-eyed dream that our country won't be sucked into another blood-soaked futile war! And by the by, Mr. Cheney, it should be pretty obvious that you and this heart thing just don't go together. Stick by your guns and try to live on pure bile.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

"A thousand or a hundred thousand birds" by Lily Herman

Sometimes, unlike a recent ten minute trip to the CVS for some pricing stickers where I walked in on a botched robbery, witnessed some loud crazy-assed shouting match between someone in a big double-wide truck and a lady who got so pissed off she ran to get something (hopefully a crowbar and not a gun) out of the trunk of her car to attack the truck or the driver of the truck and then got a sales pitch from a glassy eyed panhandler who seemed to be filled with helium - it pays to go outside your home.

Such was the case a few weeks ago when I caught an Artichoke Haircut reading and heard some great new writers. One of them was Lily Herman and this poem by her makes me all riled up jealous. I love it and I hope you agree.

A thousand or a hundred thousand birds

for Bob Dylan and Bob Snyderman, but mostly Aradia

What we talked of first
was a marriage. The same year
your mattress disappeared
each time you couldn't sleep,
and you romanced a bag
of wet leaves in the name
of your many plays, we heard
about Isis

how she snuck to the woods
to be a bride, and your cousin
snuck to the woods to be
a widow, and upstate
your niece was born before
I even knew you
had a brother

In an oblong park circling
Manhattan, we peered out
through the baubled walls
and saw the army
of tunnels we'd been sent to check
for bombs, or orphans, or more
tunnels, I kissed
you like a monk who's forgotten
his prayers and goes on wordless
chanting in the dreary interim
till death, all the scarlet
flowers shut like windows
against pilgrims who look
for a room to set down
their sleeplessness

Before anyone could argue
we'd been on a date, we got
married to avoid their questions
On our wedding day my brother
told you I walk like I keep
all old countries low
in my hips, and not to expect
a little aisle to change that
When you went away for a turquoise
rope, we exchanged
feathers in the mail to remind
each other how few promises
we'd actually made, that it might
stay possible to keep the one

I wore your father's suit
that I'd asked so many questions about
and your niece was reborn to celebrate
and one of my men had his granddaughter
so that she could take our name, and
you wore me to the reception so you wouldn't
feel overdressed
around us
the heat amassed into fat jewels
with teeth, or fragments
of the skies we were born under
that only come back to hug or cut
but when you've been born as long
as we have, inexhaustibly, you can't
invite one and not another

Later we learned to take our Decembers
when they came, and talked of nothing
but the blankness where our middle names
and the Soviet Union used to be
Or sometimes we'd pause to drink
a little, and wonder aloud
why our parents had dragged
us off the ancient star-belt
for this short hospital stay, swore
we'd never make more people
if we didn't have a much better reason

And I looked at you and you
saw me for the second
we eclipsed and it became May
and we greeted our better reason

with no calendar counting down
with no little wives sweeping
under our feet we thought it ridiculous
said Any room is a delivery room
if it's better than the room
you were in last and in the last
none of us had sons so I guess
we're making progress

Neither of us kissed anybody
for years least of all
each other, and any time
someone asked we said
This is being redeemed, or said
we were brother and sister
or cried in each other's arms
like the time we were starving

And if your niece saw us then
she instantly became my mother and growled
at us for coming near each other
like we might not feed each other
like she didn't trust our intentions
and a hundred birds took off
for their chosen planets around us

--Lily Herman


Lily Herman lives in Baltimore. A collection of her poems called Better than some, not as good as some others, was released by Furniture Press Books in 2011. She runs a reading series called “ILLITERATI” out of the Pent House Gallery in the Copy Cat building, and co-writes a blog of food stories called "What I Ate Where" with her cohort Adrian Shirk. She lives with seven dreamy humans and one cat, who, darling though he is, manages to stay almost entirely out of her poems.

Monday, March 12, 2012

If You Meet a Man in the Street Who Claims to be Rupert Murdoch, Kill Him; the True Rupert Murdoch is within by CL Bledsoe

If You Meet a Man in the Street Who Claims to be Rupert Murdoch, Kill Him; the True Rupert Murdoch is within.

Fox News doesn’t love you, Delilah. Fox News doesn’t care about the time when you were twelve and your hamster ate its babies because you kept poking the cage and secretly taking them out to play with. Fox News doesn’t even know what motherhood is. Delilah, you’re so smart. Why do you listen to idiots? Listen, do you think Fox News will even bother to bury you when you become obsolete? Fox News doesn’t want you fixed: the squeaky wheel buys more grease. When you spend all your money on duct tape and amphetamines, Fox News isn’t going to be the one to hold your hair out of the toilet. Listen, I know they’ve said some things. That’s what mouthpieces do. Stop falling in love with lawyers. They are constructs. We are, all of us, constructs.


CL Bledsoe is the author of two novels, $7.50/hr + Curses and Sunlight, three poetry collections, _____(Want/Need), Anthem, and Leap Year, and a short story collection called Naming the Animals. A poetry chapbook, Goodbye to Noise, is available online at Another, The Man Who Killed Himself in My Bathroom, is available at His story, "Leaving the Garden," was selected as a Notable Story of 2008 for Story South's Million Writer's Award. He’s been nominated for the Pushcart Prize 5 times. He blogs at Murder Your Darlings, Bledsoe has written reviews for The Hollins Critic, The Arkansas Review, American Book Review, Prick of the Spindle, The Pedestal Magazine, and elsewhere. Bledsoe lives with his wife and daughter in Maryland.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Artichoke Haircut Puts A Spring Back Into My Wig

It sure is nice when the pieces of a sweet night fall in place. I'd been feeling way out of touch lately. Doing the work worry home worry work routine gnarling the belly from the inside out, but as I set out for my first Artichoke Haircut night at The Dionysus Lounge the air was alive with that freshness and promise of jumpstart spring before the dead trouts of summer slide all through it leaving static cling to the neurons. Can's "Landing" was in the player - "I like your hairdo" - what a refreshing delivery of silliness above beats that are still new after decades of beatmeisters, beat diggers and beat to deathers.

Climbing the stairs to the upper den where the Artichoke readings are held I was whisked back to my youth of climbing darkened stairs for a Casual Carriers gig at Oddfellows Hall. What will the night bring? Will I black out and leave pieces of my stomach on my Charlie Brown jersey? Most likely.

From the get go, the atmosphere was bubbly. Ebullient. And I usually reserve that word to describe the blood gushers caused by sticking a pen in the folds of Rush Limbaugh's neck.

Mike Young the famous young lean poet who is a former Thai monastery Zen instructor told me tales of AWP in Chicago. The bartender cracked open a new gallon of Coke for me, saying "Cheers Popeye. And I'm not calling you that because your arms are big."

Bruce Jacobs, poet and musician, chanter, sat with his saxophone looking even more taut and sculptural since I last saw him. His head could now be severed by Brancusi and placed on a pedestal and win many art awards.

I was immediately placed at ease by Herr Shutz and by the amount of love I was getting from the new generation of Baltimore weirdos for Normal's Books, Records and Pocket Time Scramblers.

I got the lead off call and the crowd was gentle. A few even put leggings over the bats they beat me with. I was extremely happy that my newest babies - "On the Matter of the Pinched Baby" and "Snow, Tree Forts and Alcohol" - went over really well. I feel confident enough with them now to move them into the regular lineup.

Then Father Young took the stage among confetti poppers and promises of cake at the break in honor of this night being the first anniversary of the Artichoke Haircut launching.

With Joe's readings I always feel like I'm wandering through a warm fairly dark cave with someone who occasionally throws a strong light on carvings along the walls as we pass, images and feelings slowly adding up to dream enlightenment.

After Joe, after the cake, after a nice talk with Baroness Megan McShea about how she was frazzled dealing with her stable of pure bred daschunds all coming down with gout from her feeding them on rich lump crabcake, the open mic session began.

Now as most people who have attended a poetry reading where the gates of the public ear are swung wide open in a world of tortured souls, sometimes these things can have you reaching for Pernod that is no longer there or the cyanide capsule hidden in the false bottom of your cane - anything but hearing another Tori Amos lyric dipped in carnival floss and urped on by Rod McKuen - but honestly every reader here was sharp. Of course it was led off by time proven vet Bruce Jacobs, but all the other folks I hadn't heard before, possibly since I haven't left my house much in the last year, and they brought it like maid Elsa once brought incredible salami sandwiches in Kaiserslautern 1962.

Two of particular interest, I thought, were Lily Herman (who has her own reading series called, I believe, "Illiteratis") and C.L. Bledsoe. Lily has an interesting presence. She announced at the beginning that she felt like Bilbo Baggins, but she read with a quiet fierceness and there was a great sense of you never know what's coming next. Of course, she also stripped off her sweater and stood in black bra for her poem called "Fucking", but I am a happily married man, that is not what drew my honed artistic interest!

The other reader who reached my slightly tainted senses most was a gent named C.L. Bledsoe. Slightly on the larger side physically, he has a high, almost ethereal reading voice. He read a hilarious piece about ladybugs destroying the world and in the spirit of whoever it is inserting zombies into classic literature, he inserted the protagonist of "Diehard" into Flannery O'Connor's A Good Man is Hard To Find and Crime and Punishment.

Many thanks to the Artichoke crew for making me part of their anniversary and to homies of Sea Couch and The Baltimore String Felons for coming out.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Set gauge to stem, the legend suggests:
a wash and style for a lavender twist.
(As of this writing, no dialectic to speak of,
Just shadows at celestial play, or nestled into
The crooks of sundials.)
Magpies klatch in copses. Rose
petals part, to whisper: “a Rumba, idiomic cryptology, stray code.” You
tease words into meanings, press flowers within volumes, notarize



Raymond Cummings is a freelancer writer whose work has appeared in The Baltimore Paper, The Village Voice, and on The author of two books of poetry - Crucial Sprawl and Assembling The Lord - Cummings lives in Round Rock, Texas with his family.