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Mitch Sisskind
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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... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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.... 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... 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... 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... 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... 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,... 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... 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... 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... 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... Continue reading
Posted Oct 5, 2013 at The Best American Poetry
First, I salute David for this beautiful essay. There is no doubt that he could have been a great sportswriter, and as this piece shows, it's not too late either. I have been inspired to offer a few thoughts. First, as the editors of the NY Times have themselves acknowledged, a weakness of the paper has always been the failure to develop a really good sports section. Red Smith was certainly the best columnist they ever had, but as I think John Stuart Mill once said in another connection (or perhaps it was said about John Stuart Mill) "his eminence... Continue reading
Posted Jun 24, 2013 at The Best American Poetry
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Dog paraphernalia such as a treadmill Out by the side of the road -- that will Attract the attention of Citizen Joe And LE will not be far behind. Nasko Hooten was in the middle of A Cococlops keep that time When he, Nasko, was matched into Molesworth in 2004 in Oklahoma. Citizen Joe drove by and Joe called LE on his cell phone and the next thing You know Nasko was talking to the Female officer just chatting peacefully And then the male officer horned in! He horned in on Nasko Hooten and The female officer chatting peacefully And... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2013 at The Best American Poetry
Matthew Johnson the founder of Fat Possum records brought a group of North Mississippi blues musicians to the world's attention in the early 1990s. Almost all dead now. One most powerful was Junior Kimbrough, whose work Matthew Johnson described as "the beginning and the end of music." Yes, "the beginning and the end" and it's interesting to see very accomplished musicians -- or, for that matter, plumbers, athletes, bartenders, rabbis, airplane pilots, shoe salesmen -- return to the most basic elements of their craft. Doing it with joy and no affectation is surely a mark of greatness. Hillary Hahn is... Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2013 at The Best American Poetry