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Mitch Sisskind
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Why, it’s nothing more than this: To see the finish in the start, the end In the beginning, and in the acorn, The oak tree. Michael Jordan was cut From his ninth grade basketball team But God saw six NBA championships In Michael Jordan’s future and he saw How Harold Hamm the youngest Of a sharecropper’s thirteen children Born in the middle of nowhere would Become an oil-rich billionaire and He sees how girls that are funny-looking In the fifth grade can become supermodels Through the Ugly Duckling Syndrome. Continue reading
Posted Nov 12, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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Leah’s shocking death in 1954, then Lou and I Alone in the apartment labyrinth, four bedrooms, Four and a half baths, so-called maid’s room, So-called library, so-called butler’s pantry, Fully carpeted, thirty-five hundred square feet, Walls like granite, yet cancer had entered Here as in “The Masque of the Red Death.” Marble nymphs and cupids, brass candlesticks, Lights in the closets turning on automatically Whenever the closet doors were opened, Here a wall-mounted antique brass lantern From a 19th century horse-drawn fire engine, There an amoeba-shaped glass tabletop on A battleship-gray hunk of shattered driftwood. Past the unused fireplace and unplayed piano Each night after eating soup or cottage cheese Lou and I to the oak-paneled television room Wended our way, drawn by electromagnetic Force of the floor-model Zenith on whose screen There churned and roiled liquid reds and blues Of flawed 1950s color television technology. Passing judgment on Lou, blaming Lou, hating Him for Leah’s painful end-stage renal failure Of uric acid seeping through her skin, seeing Him as another blundering President Eisenhower As we in silence watched George Burns & Gracie Allen, Then The Lawrence Welk Show and at ten o’clock The Tonight Show Starring Jack Paar would come on. Yet Lou’s own death was not far off. O my father, How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have been A thankless child. I will watch Jack Paar on YouTube For three hours, I will dance to Lawrence Welk and the Champagne Music Makers, I will wear Bermuda shorts, I will eat a bowl of cottage cheese and sour cream With crackers crumbled up in it, I will fart, I will snore. Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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Every last inning is sad when one thinks How games, in theory, could go on forever, Scores tied in perpetuity, mitts handed down From father to son across the generations. But grieve not, for in the Upper Worlds Will be no horror of the last, as Johnson Decried it, no last kisses, no final fucks – And, say, that’s a toughie, isn’t it? David, fading, cold to the touch of Abishag The Shunammite, and she the hottest girl In Israel. Sternly his court regarded this: If the King knew her not, the King had to die. But that same night he fucked her in paradise! He fucked her brains out! He’s still fucking her! Continue reading
Posted Oct 28, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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Where were you when televisions Multiplied in American homes And pastel-colored cars had fins On which at least once a boy Chasing a ball stabbed himself and the fins, like kings, died out? I lived when Eisenhower’s golfing And mumbled press conferences Affronted the intelligentsia whose Worship of Stevenson blossomed Into the miracle of Jack Kennedy’s Televised White House cello recitals. In the doghouse was an expression Extremely common in those days. You might hear a man who forgot The anniversary of his marriage Forty years ago refer to himself As in the doghouse, for example. People said, On the warpath. They said, You’re cooking with gas. They said, Fish out of water -- Jump on the bandwagon – A fly in The ointment – The jury is still out -- He’s always blowing his own horn -- Or how about this? Eke lullaby, My loving boy, thy lusts relent -- Four hundred and fifty years ago A man wrote that poem to his penis. Can you imagine it happening today? I can. I’m a board certified urologist. Continue reading
Posted Oct 7, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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Look, the Batting Gods in silhouette Against the sky! Ruth, Williams, Gehrig, and Foxx, their war clubs Such as no man can lift today, Their statistics, their versatility As evinced by the major league Pitching experience of Ruth And Foxx, and Williams too Pitched in high school. Gehrig? The first baseman shrugged off Broken bones in his hands to Swing with homerun power. Look! The Batting Gods! And look! The Sex Goddesses of the 1920s! Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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That day in 1965 as Julie Christie Seduced the pool cleaning man I sequestered myself behind A cactus plant for the duration. It was quickly done. Palm Springs! This was before the traffic got So horrible and lawn sprinklers Rendered the naturally dry Desert air oppressively humid. Later Julie and I shared laughs Over cocktails rehashing her Recent film “Doctor Chicago” As we hilariously re-Christied it. But wait. Do I wake or sleep? Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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His real name was Tony but God help you if you called him Tony. You never called him Tony, You had to call him Joe. Jimmy Lombardo was fucking John DiFranzo’s wife and John was Fucking the wife of Billy Dadanno. Billy was fucking Jerry Copo’s wife. Jerry meantime was fucking John’s wife as was Jimmy Lombardo. Rudy Fratto was fucking her too. Rudy was also fucking Jimmy’s wife. My wife was getting fucked by a guy Named Mike Sacino and I was fucking Karen Rizzi who was married to Carlo The crooked cop that nobody liked. One day Tony said to me, ‘You can’t fuck a cop’s wife! ‘Oh, for Christ’s sake! A cop’s wife! ‘A cop’s wife can’t be fucked!’ Time stood still. All the bullshit Stopped. Then Tony said, 'Was she an animal in the sack?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ ‘Yeah?’ ‘Yeah. Yeah.’ Tony said, 'Well, you can fuck her 'One more time!’ I said, ‘Thanks, Joe!’ Because you never called him Tony, You had to call him Joe. Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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I watch a cat video and Then Google a Japanese Sex webcam but lest I download a virus I instead watch badgers Cunningly escape their Enclosure on Youtube. On newyorker.com in vain I search for a sentence from An old John Updike story -- ‘She saw that his death Was not far off’ – and then Watch Michael Jackson’s 1983 Moonwalk debut on Youtube. I Google Diane Varsi And on Wikipedia I read How in high school she Was branded an outcast And was called an oddball And on Youtube I watch A clip of her in Peyton Place. I briefly visit weather.com, Watch another cat video, Then on voyeurweb.com I join the millions of viewers Of the Freestyle Photo section But decide that Voyeurweb is Worse since the site was redone. I Google Henry Howard The Earl of Surrey, Pinky Lee, Patsy Southgate, Selma Hyack, Rabbi Louis Binstock, Earl Scheib, And Maury Youmans, an obscure Bears defensive end who played College ball at Syracuse University. Rudyard Kipling never Googled Anything in his life but in 1897 He wrote our navies melt away. Marry, ‘nuncle, the mind of man Is what melts now! Cat videos, Pornography, time-wasters Like the film Prehistoric Women Of 1950 plus the 1967 remake Are Googleable and viewable On Youtube so can I Google Laurette Luez and find out Everything about her with Photographs and even a pic Of her grave? Let’s see. Yes! Marilyn Monroe (left), Laurette Luez (right), Shlepper Nussbaum (center). Continue reading
Posted Jul 11, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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No telling what time it was As he woke in darkness with The sleeping cat’s warmth, A gift from God, on the back Of his neck and, weeping, He willed himself to perfect Stillness lest the cat leave. But wait. Here was a thought, Here was another possibility: He was dead and, willfulness Be damned, could no more Stir himself than trisect an angle! Yes, that might be it -- And this was paradise! Continue reading
Posted Jun 23, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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To no place he is called And thither he is bound -- Cloudbursts, desiccated plains, Nothing slows his Volkswagen. Old Philadelphia disappears In the trembling rearview mirror, Chicago looms, then vanishes, Houston fades, Dallas evanesces. Those years of the yearning siren Voice’s call – the longing intonation Unheard or unacknowledged -- They like the towns and cities lie Behind him now as to no place He is called and thither he is bound. Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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‘Is not the death of youth the Iliad’s Overarching theme?’ Vachel Lindsay Once inquired -- and the answer is Yes, of course, as when the arrow Aimed at Hector instead pierced Young Gorgythion’s unarmored Neck and his head slowly bent As a poppy weighed down by rain Might so incline, or when aged Nestor Talked too much with his advice To Patroclus of dubious efficacy. Alas, the young warrior, the old king, Body, or mind -- the death of youth: But Vachel Lindsay? His death? You may hear it said as I once heard That he drank a bottle of Drano but Lysol it was -- death by Lysol, age 52, Springfield, Illinois, 12-5-1931. Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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A poem is like a golf ball because A poem’s meaning derives from The multifarious denotations And connotations of words Compressed within the poem As in a golf ball tightly packed Rubber bands are compressed. A poem’s meaning is revealed By unraveling the poem’s figurative Rubber bands but let us be aware Of how this can discombobulate The poem’s energy compression mechanism. The good news is Not all poems work that way. Money is like a golf ball because Although one golf ball may cost More than another they are all The same size just as money can Come in various denominations But all American paper bills are Uniform in length and width. Also, people may have a golf ball In a pocket or a purse without Anyone knowing it or they may Actually not have a golf ball while Others believe they do have one. It’s the same way with money Because you just never know. Sex combines golf ball qualities Of both poems and money because Sex can be a compressed version Of an entire relationship just as Rubber bands are compressed In a golf ball or a poem’s meaning Is compressed in its words. Also, you can’t tell about people’s Sex lives by looking at people Just as without actually looking In someone’s pocket or purse You can’t tell whether they have A golf ball, or some money, Or much money, or no money. Death is like a golf ball because Just as a golf ball goes into a hole In the grass so most people go Into graves in cemeteries which Are like golf courses in their verdure And in the silence we are asked To maintain and also in the way Some golf balls smoothly and Easily descend into a hole while Others do not. Yet though death Is like a golf ball let us neither Weep nor grieve but take heart And look on the bright side Because life is like a golf ball too! Continue reading
Posted Apr 4, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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Man had a big house outside Iron Mountain, his wife hot at The swimming pool, laughing As Nasko Hooten introduced Himself: 'What kind of a name 'Is that?' But not in the slightest Was he pissed off. Light shone In her eyes, he saw the woman She would have been were she Duncan Oklahoma born and bred. Man had a truck they looked at For a while – Nasko Hooten said, ‘I’d put a winch on the front ‘Of it were that truck mine.’ Continue reading
Posted Mar 21, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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You live long enough This day will come. You going to get Your teeth fixed Or fix your car? Can’t fix them both Because no man can. So fix your teeth Or else your car. Clock is ticking But I know what Your answer will be! Same damn answer As your daddy! Continue reading
Posted Mar 14, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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Perhaps Lydia Davis is best known as a prose writer, most recently of very short stories. But her work has also appeared in BAP anthologies, Lydia's new book of stories is called Can't and Won't. There's also a profile of Lydia in this week's New Yorker magazine. The link is below. One little problem (maybe.) To read the New Yorker online you have to be a subscriber. So if you're not a subscriber, you can subscribe. Or if you're not a subscriber, and you don't want to subscribe, there's a link to another article about Lydia. Maybe a better one. Or maybe not. But about Lydia. And free. http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2014/03/17/140317fa_fact_goodyear http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/5c1059dc-a0ea-11df-badd-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2viITWHey Continue reading
Posted Mar 11, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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I am a young girl trying to fly A plane but I don’t really know How to fly one. So let’s see, um, Let’s try this button…or that one… This one looks good… um…um… I am a girl who finds a panda That is black and white as I too Have my good and bad sides And this girl goes through a time Of actually liking to get in trouble. We read about Stonewall Jackson And about his last words which were ‘Let us cross over the river and rest ‘Under the shade of the trees.’ Then he died. That is so sad. Big stars of today like [insert name] And [insert name] will be dead Someday so I like to invent names Like Essence Gladstone of imaginary Stars who are not even born yet. As my life goes from day to day I do wonder about the end of it Or maybe it will not ever end Or it will end for everyone else But me. But am I so special? Ha. Wait, I am not an old man alone in His underwear worrying about all His what ifs! I am applying to Duke And Penn, my plane is not landing, My plane is just taking off! Ha. Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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Adderall pills George Henry obtained From Russian doctor in a strip mall Thirty milligrams swallowing one of Those babies and the baby goosing him On Third Street Promenade entering Sur le Table store of all kitchen stuff, Blenders, knives, pots and pans, aprons, Toques, merciless espresso machines. His brain pleasantly accelerating: memories, Conversations of fifty years ago, old movies, Song lyrics, literary references, neologisms, Witticisms, a tingling in neck, legs, arms, Awe at the universe in its vastness but Sudden pitbull-like aggressive inclination Toward espresso machine monsters. “You’re all a bunch of phonies!” he cried. Outside again he bet ten million dollars On the Super Bowl, he got the Nobel Prize, In a peculiar gait he ran to the street corner And back, he peed in a Starbucks toilet, At high volume he recited misquoted Line from the old Carl Sandburg poem -- Chicago is the world’s greatest hog butcher. “I’m originally from Chicago!” he screamed. Police. A pair of big boys. “Good morning sir.” He laughed to see their grilled cheese sandwich Faces uncomprehending but not wholly lacking Sympathy as he took out his penis and they drew Their stun guns. Beatifically he forgave them -- To George Henry there is no zero -- misquoting Incredible Shrinking Man of Eisenhower era Lifetimes before the big boys were born. Continue reading
Posted Feb 3, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
1. At repose in his favorite chair and Sipping tea Whitehead remarked, ‘If I’ve made some small contribution ‘It has been to observe the absence ‘Of distance or depth in past time ‘So that nothing past is further past ‘Than anything else. The Pharaohs, ‘An unforgotten little grassy spot ‘Beneath a tree, or for that matter ‘Moments of happiness or heartbreak ‘Are equidistant in past-ness from where ‘We now sit notwithstanding our ‘Ill-considered sense for example ‘That Alexander exists or existed ‘At greater temporal remove from us ‘Than a telephone call moments ago.’ Then he fell silent. 2. After a light lunch the talk turned To the Hebrew Bible and he said, ‘Waiting is its great theme and the ‘Consequences of not knowing how ‘Properly to wait even through ‘Many generations. Patience? ‘It’s true we might expect scripture ‘To counsel it but mere patient ‘Imperturbability or even fortitude ‘Fail to convey the energy of mind ‘That Jacob in Genesis deployed in ‘His several predicaments. Certainty -- ‘Hebrew, emunah – a fierce conviction ‘That Yahweh’s covenants will be kept ‘May be the word to denote the correct ‘Biblical consciousness of waiting.’ He said no more about this. 3. Nineteen forty-eight: could anything Be emptier than his chair by the radiator On a winter afternoon in Cambridge? Some foolish girls making pancakes In the apartment next door ignorant Of his chats with Wittgenstein as to Whether only tautologies can be true, Incognizant of his son’s early death In the Royal Flying Corps or of Russell’s Infatuation with his wife as they wrote The Principia – the obliviousness of Those girls so irks me that I want to Scream at them how they have never Read a book of metaphysics in their lives Amid their pancakes their hours long Birthday parties ersatz fashion shows And endless jitterbugging! Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
The arena: observing combats the Romans fought Against their own sympathies aroused by scenes Of mayhem but sympathies quite unbecoming Citizens of a warfare state. By its cruelty therefore The howling mob determinedly pledged allegiance To the authorities’ values and symbols or perhaps They just enjoyed having people tortured to death. That would be another way of looking at it. The movies: here also a syrupy rich mix of sadism And sentimentality offers and often delivers Have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too experiences of a type Nowhere else to be found. We observe the lashing Of a kind and beautiful young black woman at which The Romans would have laughed but as we watch The lashing in outrage we feel as good about ourselves As the ancient Romans felt. Or almost that good. The Best Western Motel: in 1980 a woman asked Would I mind if she fell asleep while I made love To her and I did take offense but now in 2014 The same question from a different woman brings Nothing untoward and even some little drollery: ‘I’ll be surprised if you don’t.’ Yet she stays awake And later I do help her to sleep by reciting names Of college football teams. This is paradise. Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
Yes, rated X! But stay with it because John Milton comes up at the end! (ed note: warning, this is a frank discussion. You may not want to watch/listen if you are in a public place.-- sdh) Continue reading
Posted Dec 20, 2013 at The Best American Poetry
That day in 1932 when Hart Crane went overboard Off the steamship he cried ‘Goodbye, everybody!’ With a stark economy of expression unlike The Bridge And his other poems’ intricately wrought phrasings. Whoever is unmoved by such poignant juxtaposition In extremis of plain style and poetic eloquence Never studied at Columbia University -- as did I With David Lehman, Paul Spike, Leslie Gottesman, David Shapiro, Hilton Obenzinger, Paul Auster, Aaron Fogel, Bruce Kawin, David Anderson, Alan Senauke, Arnold Eggers, Laurence Wieder, Michael Steinlauf and others of that same ilk -- Nor should we forget the poet’s promise in1916, Albeit unfulfilled, to attend Columbia University. Continue reading
Posted Dec 16, 2013 at The Best American Poetry
Do not be a gentleman when you say goodnight, Nor let silence prevail at the closing of the door; Hit him with your left, then hit him with your right. Myron Fox played pinochle though had lost his sight, With hand and heart discerning cards’ worth; Do not be a gentleman when you say goodnight. Jess Rabin cheekily liked to say go fly a kite, A turn of phrase we don’t hear any more; Hit him with your left, then hit him with your right. Al Arenberg got rich with a non-glare ceiling light, He died in a room of the old Webster Hotel; Do not be a gentleman when you say goodnight. Dark as the nights were, so the windows were bright, The boys and their girlfriends on the dance floor; Hit him with your left, then hit him with your right. Lou Belmont! I see him now with my own second sight, The black Oldsmobile – and the stern ukase: ‘Do not be a gentleman when you say goodnight, ‘Hit him with your left, then hit him with your right.’ Continue reading
Posted Dec 10, 2013 at The Best American Poetry
Office holders and political people, Bush, Obama, Cheney, Old Man Bush, Michelle, Hilary, Bill, Condoleezza Rice, The living and dead, Nixon, Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower, all had bedbugs But they neither saw nor suspected That bedbugs were biting them. At the Stanhope Hotel, at the Pierre, At the Mirage Hotel of Beverly Hills In the early morning silence bedbugs Awaken as heedless we slumber, As we bathe, as we have intercourse Bedbugs peer from their hiding places And we are oblivious of the bedbugs. A stunning woman of fashion On Fifth Avenue – for the bedbugs In her iPhone it is a simple matter Amid her chat and gab to ear-enter Her like some harebrained marketing Jingle and then deep within her The bedbugs pitch their palaces. Likewise the poor have bedbugs. Egalitarians, equal opportunity Enjoyers, true democrats are The bedbugs for whom not Solomon in all his glory enticed Like a homeless man asleep in A doorway or on a subway grate. What can be done about bedbugs? Go Google bedbug poisons or How to kill bedbugs or natural enemies Of bedbugs and you will find sprays, Ointments, and simple inexpensive Home remedies like dish soap that Annoy bedbugs but not to death. Much then can be done about bedbugs But (really) nothing can be done about Them. We slather ourselves with soap, We fumigate, we fuss and fulminate, We literally get down on our knees and Pray to God and in that same hour we Get bitten, we get dozens of bites. Still by all means let us spray and Slather, let us turn up the thermostats In our apartments because bedbugs Hate heat, let us leave no stone unturned And the end of all our slathering and Thermostating will be to know the Futility of slathering and of thermostats. Then let that knowing inspire all Humankind to a frenzied piling up Of mattresses in the world’s cities, Towns, and fields – pillows, bedclothes Piled high and burned by huge mobs Fed up with bedbugs, joyful at mattresses Burning if the bedbugs are also burning. Let a crazed energy as in the poet’s Vision of how Pandemonium was built Grip all humanity and from that energy Let bitter knowledge emerge that burning Mattresses, pillows, and bedclothes is not Enough for complete and total bedbug Extermination because everything must burn! Then onto the flaming mattresses let gold Jewelry be flung, MacBooks, Big Bird t-shirts, Watches and handbags, ATM cards, bras, You name it, let even hundred dollar Bills eagerly be flung lest bedbug eggs Adhere to the hundred dollar bills To say nothing of the twenties or tens. Shrieking women tearing off their blouses, Men – husbands, sons, lovers – flinging Accoutrements of masculinity such as Barn coats, beer cans, cowboy boots, Baseball mitts and football jerseys Into the flames to deny a refuge To even one goddamned bedbug! Yet as hand in hand the mobs dance Naked around the fires in a hurly-burly Unprecedented historically by pyramids Or potlatches... Continue reading
Posted Nov 25, 2013 at The Best American Poetry
Some say your name Is your destiny as with Green Bay’s Bart Starr Who became the star qb Of the Lombardi teams Or Dick Butkus who cussed And butted his way To football immortality. Joe Montana was another Great qb whose name conjured Images of Old West gunslingers Or 19th century riverboat gamblers And that day in the park when I first came across his name In the Tribune I knew Joe Montana Would be in the Hall of Fame. But what about Jim Brown? Possibly the top ball carrier Of all time who (oddly?) Played for the Cleveland Browns Yet it’s hard to come up With a blander, less dashing, More forgettable or invisible Name than Jim Brown. Earl Scheib too bore the burden Of a genuinely zhlubby name Yet he built a multi-million dollar Automobile painting and collision Repair company with locations Around the world for which Scheib Even made the paint though it All did go to hell eventually. My own name was Donald G. Bruce But only for one day until my black Market adoption took place and This present appellation was conferred On me but now as shadows lengthen On the greensward and evening Draws nigh I shall henceforth and Forever be known as Duke Rhino! Continue reading
Posted Oct 15, 2013 at The Best American Poetry
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Rachel and I are creating a series of videos exploring varieties of human sexual experience. Following Dante's example, we will begin with hell and wind up with paradise. We start with the problems and conclude with the big payoff! And make no mistake: anyone can get there! Sexuality is a labyrinth, not a maze.You just have to keep going. And as you'll see, while Henry David Thoreau is a poor sexual role model, Ralph Waldo Emerson is an inspiring intellectual aphrodisiac! We apologize for the annoying background noise in these videos. Sounds like chickens or mice yet it was completely quiet in the room. We will try to do better! Continue reading
Posted Oct 5, 2013 at The Best American Poetry