Shattered Wig #28

Shattered Wig #28
Coming In November!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Taps by Barrett Warner

Barrett Warner is a Baltimore cultural warrior of longstanding.  He served some time in the trenches of the fledgling Shattered Wig Night nights when they were held on Tuesdays, featured four or five poets, 3 or 4 bands and went on until 3am.  But he still speaks to me, as does, surprisingly, Laure Drogoul of the 14 Karat Cabaret where the Wigs are held.



When they ask about the leg
I don't answer, don't open the window,
Never say, there's a kind of darkness.

A black bruise stains the mind,
The good hurt I hope will mean
I've come far and done something big.

Such sweet aches, loves labors,
The harrowed acres inside,
Ditches dug with pick-axe and spit.

I haven't moved in twenty years
Except to clamber on life's unfinished ledge
When the chair limps into the bathroom.

Changing the light bulb, right?
Those damn blue sparks
Wired to a fault.  The truth

Is that I like the view from here,
Two feet above the rest of the world,
A slip, a jostle from the endless

Swing and sway.  Sometimes I put
Rocks in my shoes if my heels
Aren't sore enough.

 Even after I close the window
And nail it shut the red bird
Will not stop pestering the glass.


Barrett Warner's chapbook Til I'm Blue in the Face was published by Tropos Press. His new poems make appearances in Southeast Review, Slipstream and Quarter After Eight.

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Preview of An Upcoming New Book By Megan McShea

Dear cultural warriors, the forthcoming existence of a new meaty book of Megan McShea on Publishing Genius Press jolts me with the volts of Beyond. It's like there suddenly being an unearthed "new" Lungfish record, finally "discovering" Chicken Rico for the first time, inhaling ocean air on a windy night, walking down a city street and taking pleasure in how your legs feel and there are actually smiling people nearby.

Here is a little preview to whet your brain whistle.


The Appointment

The place was flatter than we had imagined it. We thought it would be a squat tower. But we knew it was the right building from all the friendly notes we'd received on how to make-believe, how to drop things dramatically, how to check our pulses. We rang the bell. The intercom, responding, confused us. It sounded like the ocean, but in a very high resolution, with cries of birds and shouts tossed by waves and even sand under our feet. A young, alert woman finally answered the door, holding it open for us and peering around in the street behind us, gesturing for us to enter the warm foyer.

By the time she shut the door, we had already removed most of our clothing. A pack of dogs startled us and then changed into a flock of soldiers, chasing us into the next room, where a plate of lemon bars and a tea service awaited, only, it was made of wax. "This is nothing like I expected," said my mother, who had persuaded me to join her in coming here. "Well, what did you expect?" I asked. "I thought it would be rosy, like a womb," she said. She sounded sad.

"Change your rabbits!" came a shout from up the stairs, ad then again, descending closer, "change your rabbits immediately!" A man in coveralls appeared with wide black eyes. "Oh, pardon me," he said when he saw us there. "You're not the people I thought you were."

But it was too late, for mother and I had already changed our rabbits.

- Megan McShea


Megan McShea is a frequent contributor to the legendary Shattered Wig Review, and has work in the i.e. reader, Topograph: New Writings from the Carolinas and Beyond, and the forthcoming WORMSBOOK. A collection of her writings entitled "A Mountain City of Toad Splendor" is coming out in late 2012 from Publishing Genius Press. She is also editor and contributor for a book of collaborative writings due out soon-ish from Thingy Press called "Ancient Party". She resides as peacefully as possible in Baltimore.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Cort Bledsoe's Wonderful Review of My Mole Suit in "Murder Your Darlings"!

Review of Rupert Wondolowski's The Origin of Paranoia as a Heated Mole Suit, poems by Rupert Wondolowski. Baltimore: Publishing Genius Press, 2008.

I met Rupert Wondolowski at a reading in Baltimore hosted by Artichoke Haircut, a local literary journal which hosts amazing readings. (Seriously. Kazoo solos. Sex with octopi. People taking their clothes off without even putting it in the context of a Matthew McConaughey vehicle). This night, Publishing Genius Press was featured. Wondolowski read with Joseph Young (author of Easter Rabbit, a flash collection I blurbed a couple years ago.) Wondolowski blew me away. His poems balanced absurdity with hard-hitting truth. Someone once asked me why I write some of my more absurd pieces, and the only answer I had was that they are more real than most of my straight realist pieces. There’s an oft overused saying that writers ‘lie their way to the truth’ and, in a similar vein, absurdist writers ‘stand their way to the poof.’ Wondolowski brings to mind a line by John S. Hall from “It’s Saturday”: “Sense cannot be made. It must be sensed. And I, for one, am incensed by all this complacency.”

There’s so much humor in these poems, it’s hard to pick out one piece to focus on. A good start is “Steve Fischer Continues,” a poem about the pulp writer of I Wake Up Screaming, and many other pulp books. Wondolowski lampoons the melodrama so often seen in this type of writing while simultaneously paying homage to a master of the genre: “I wake screaming./I scream scratching the dog’s belly in bed,/ scream seeing the third pillow has fallen to the dusty floor.” (lines 1-3).

And what is a heated mole suit? Obviously, it’s uncomfortable and awkwardly unattractive. And if one were wearing it, others would probably react strangely, leading to paranoia. I can’t help but think Wondolowski is talking about the body, the meat suit. In the title poem, Wondolowski waxes melancholic about his childhood (or at least of a child-like narrator): “It’s the loneliest Halloween ever, Charlie Brown. I’m packing my bags for the Patsy Cline Institute for the Emotionally Disabled as chunks of nations are being swallowed or washed away like mashed bananas in a baby’s cereal bowl.” (12-16). Towards the end of the poem, as the narrator sits in his mole suit, he has “an epiphany. All I want is some flatbed truck resonance, a slightly burned picnic table, a clean giddy life of grass stains.” He yearns to return to a more innocent time when he wasn’t concerned about global war, self-image, and the horrors of the world.

The reason that Wondolowski’s poems work isn’t just that they’re funny, or full of pop culture references, or so strange that they instantly invite consideration; plenty of poets are filling their poems with these things these days, juxtaposing Papa Smurf with drug dealers. To be honest, that’s not that difficult to do. The reason Wondolowski’s poems stand out is that there’s something inside the mole suit. And that IS difficult. Wondolowski’s narrator feels like he’s in a mole suit and mocks himself and also mocks that mockery. This is complex stuff and human but Wondolowski refuses to let it sink to the level of melodrama without getting in a few good laughs first. It’s rare for me to find a poet or writer whose work I truly admire, but I admire what Wondolowski’s doing here. His language and imagery are startling, fresh, and insightful. As a matter of fact, before I wrote this review, I ordered his other books. I can’t wait to read them.

-CL Bledsoe


Bio: CL Bledsoe is the author of the young adult novel 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 A minichap, Texas, was recently published by Mud Luscious Press. 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 3 times. Bledsoe has written reviews for The Hollins Critic, The Arkansas Review, American Book Review, The Pedestal Magazine, and elsewhere.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"Increasingly Virtual Worlds" by R.M. O'Brien

Increasingly Virtual Worlds
RM O'Brien

Tonight I am prolifig. I turn all my tears into ashes.
I got famous for once successfully cramming five years' lonely into one night's drunk and I couldn't kiss anyone when it was done.
I shatter a bottle everyone stands up and removes his hat.
I am the brightest thing for miles moving around Baltimore in the most powerful machine I own.

Do you know why I pulled you over?
b/c I get hard driving the interceptor and the lights and sirens help me make it
b/c you are wanted for the unlicensed transmutation of tears into ashes—you fit a description
b/c it's unlawful to shine brighter than the sun
b/c there are a lot of crazies out here and I wanted to make sure you were wearing yr seatbelt—Robert you are a sacred child yr heart & lungs & light are precious to me
b/c someday you will choose a body for yr lover—it may not be the body she chooses for herself—we live in increasingly virtual worlds
(I wanted to tell him about transcendental numbers & luminescent animals—breaking a bottle our new nat'l anthem &c.—this is how I protect my immortality &c.)
Come on out here and touch yr nose and I'll let you go
& if you would, touch my nose
for it is lonely in this car at night in Baltimore & I am a warm body under these cuffs and gun and telescoping club

The ashes are still glowing.
The flowers are blooming out the passenger window.
I am prolifig, obvious, it's like I am making a movie.
O Nanak! I could smear these ashes on a baby's belly and she wd become a god


R.M. O'Brien, 29, was born in Oswego, New York to a jeweler and a nurse. He lives in Baltimore with his wife and son, where he blogs for money and curates the monthly reading series WORMS. His chapbook, Ant Killer & Other Poems, exists. Birds Blur Together, a collabora├žion w/ poet Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez, is forthcoming this year on his own WORMS Press.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mark "Pappy" Hossfeld Returns!

My work day started wonderfully last Wednesday morning when I received a call from my old friend and writer/artist extraordinaire, Mark "Pappy" Hossfeld, from China. He's been there for getting close to a decade perverting their youth and devouring their kimchee. He and his wife had been talking for a while about returning to the states and now it looks like it's becoming a reality.

Sadly, maybe not in Baltimore because he was shocked at the rent increases after serving time here in the wartorn but dirt cheap '80s and most of the '90s, but most likely somewhere on the East Coast where I can draw him into a Shattered Wig Night.

He has been an inspiration and a contributor to Shattered Wig since its inception and we played in a Russkie/anarcho/circus punk band named Kneeling on Beans together. He had never really played an instrument before, but with the Beans he played an incredible truly psychedelic slide bass (employing an Elvis coffee cup for slide) and literally every show we played some wild-eyed youth would come running up to him and ask where in the hell he learned to play such awesome Hendrix licks on bass.

Pappy, being half pickled after a set and a humble, reasonable man, would get angry that they could be so deluded by his "naive" playing magic. He would curse them and then wrestle a drunken Amazon.

Ever since the latest, biggest Baltimore arts/poetry renaissance, I've been dying for Pappy to view and partake all the new wonders. He labored long unpaid brutal hours for the shortlived BAUHAUS (AKA The Astro-Chimp Impact Crater) back in the pioneer days of the early '90s when the 14 Karat Cabaret was about the only good venue going.

His projected arrival is late June and as soon as I know for sure when he'll be in the area I will set up the biggest, grandest show possible for him to share his new tales.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Words I Use Too Much by Lily Herman

Here it be - the final installment of the L. Herman trilogy. It turns out that Darth Vader is not indeed her father, but just a seedy uncle with hair plugs who runs a used car lot in Hyattsville. --------------------------------------------------------------

Words I use too much

Depending on the context
conspiring or conspiracy, usually
in a positive light, like two people
pitching a tent in their own bedroom
just to have somewhere to put
their heads closer together, inhabit
where live would do just as well,
altar, not like change
but in a blood-of-the-lamb
edited-for-PBS kind of way,

He says she says
like after a decade of poems
I still can’t let a brother know
that someone is speaking
without having them say
She instead of I
in all the places di Prima said poets
are explorers, but not necessarily

Pussy twice over
because wimp is weak
and cunt reeks too much of poets
with both hands in their pockets
trying to ignore the climate
of the fifties, listening to Lady
Day, and calling men cats

I try to avoid bringing cats
into it, even when one
is the benevolent critic
warming my lap
as I write, and we both
know life is a simple series
of variations on trying
to get fed

Methodist, because their Christ
is not duty-bound to spend all
his time up like a public service
announcement on the cross
but will walk a little way
down the street with you
if you’re headed the same
direction, never trust a poet

who has to
disclaim confess reveal
because it means there’s
something they’re withholding
during all the sober hours
of their day, and they want
the reader to serve as their
incidental heir, which is a bane
that keeps on giving,

Benefactor because
to keep working I must be convinced
that somebody up there digs me

Heart as a physical object, not
the tacky wood-paneled room
in which one’s spirit animal dwells,
hips when I really mean
I feel fat, or I mean fucking,
or young women are a curse
all their glorious own, love
when I mean tailspin, or sea-
sickness, or an excuse
to stay up late

for excessive kindness, or excessive
unkindness, the train tracks
that I grew up next to and haven’t
been able to grow up from
and their many romance tongues
cargo freight boxcar
train-hopping or commuting,
depending on who I observe
in flight, the tunnels they conquer
and men who died burying their spikes
none of whom I knew personally
but if it was personal

I wouldn’t be writing about it,
in any room where two people manage
to hear each other while speaking quietly,
God, as a placeholder for any
really gorgeous sky or void or drug
like the useless zero you leave in after
the decimal point to keep the equation
balanced, math analogies
I don’t even understand, analogies
for heaven, for madness, for men,
a hundred burning bushes sounding off
like desert clockwork when the poem calls
for a fireworks display,

Solitude sounds better
than loneliness, Petrarch is the only man
who’s said, soul, without making
me gag, and I have no muse
so I don’t dare say it myself,

even though I am arguably
always writing to you, you
the most frequent flier of all
these words, who spend all your time
like an overnight security guard
watching me write and occasionally
when I’m gasping for air, you (dear)
grab the pen and with two hands
steadied by each other,
we finish the fucker off
with a period like a single shot
to the head


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.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Psychotronic Leaves Paradise

It was a bittersweet day Sunday. The sun was out, Kim Jong Ev and I were feeling the ocean breeze at sweet Chincoteague after a weekend of catching the film "Wanda" presented at the Maryland Film Festival by Pastor John Waters and then stumbling onto the amazing docudrama "On the Bowery" by Lionel Rogosin on cable, but a big part of why we drove three hours to paradise only to have to turn back at night was because Michael of Psychotronic had called me on Friday to tell me he was leaving the island and the upcoming weekend would be the last for him there.

Michael and his wife are moving the shop to Augusta, Georgia and from now on I will only be able to revel in the beauty and rapture of nature at Chincoteague without getting my more urban fix of vinyl in at the same time. I'll never forget wandering the very sleepy main street of Chincoteague six or seven years ago, passing all the pony t-shirt and driftwood shops and then seeing the neon green dripping sign of Psychotronic. I knew about and had read some issues of the cult magazine by that name, but I figured there was no way in Hell this shop in idyllic Chincoteague could be connected to it.

But when I walked in and saw huge posters of "Fantomas" and "The Brain that Wouldn't Die" and the tall rather urbane red-haired gent behind the counter resembling David Bowie was cranking the Pleasure Seekers, I realized I'd stumbled onto some kind of parallel dimension. An amazing perfect place had just gotten more perfect and amazing.

 Michael was gracious to let me know he was leaving (I would have truly wept if I'd found out by walking to its location in a month when Everly and I take our week off there and found an emptied shell) and to give me a last peek at his stock.

 Needless to say I left burdened with treasures. Around twenty classic near mint pulps that included a bunch of Harry Whittingtons and Gulf Coast Girl by underrated underknown Charles Williams, plus a crate of killer vinyl. I added to Everly's and my collection of Louvin Brothers lps with "Country Ballads" on Capitol (mono of course beyotch!) and loaded up on some great jazz, latin and obscure rock for the store. Not to mention five Jon Hassell albums and "Bukowski Reads His Poetry" on Takoma, which will go well with the shelf of Buke we got in over the weekend.

 After a long talk with Michael in the alley while loading and wishing him luck further down South, we ate at the great Vietnamese restaurant a block away and drove to the nature reserve and beach. The reserve wetland was near full up with glittering water, always a comforting sight, especially after the heavy drought year when there was barely a puddle.

 We drove off at sunset as the birds were out in force feasting by the bridges.

Although it's truly sad to see Psychotronic leave Chincoteague, it's kind of amazing it ever landed there  from Manhattan in the first place.  So I will cherish my memories of flipping through albums with a fresh sunburn and looking forward to a night of home cooked seafood from Gary Howards enjoyed out on the screened-in back porch, listening to the frogs and crickets. Starting up a game of Scrabble that falls by the wayside.  Strumming and picking some Handsome Family songs while Kim Jong Ev studies the historical menus of New York restaurants from the 1930s.

 Sundial Books, a very good bookstore remains on Main Street, though, with a strong selection of art, music and film books.

Long live Psychotronic in all its forms!  Long live carriers of physical culture!