Michael T. Young’s third full-length collection, The Infinite Doctrine of Water, was published by Terrapin Books. HIs other collections include The Beautiful Moment of Being Lost and Transcriptions of Daylight. His chapbook, Living in the Counterpoint, received the Jean Pedrick Award. Young also received a Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. His poetry, essays, and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous journals including Cimarron Review, The Cortland Review, The Los Angeles Review, Shrew, The Smart Set, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. Young lives with his wife, children, and cats in Jersey City, New Jersey.
By Stephen Page
A couple of years ago I traveled with my wife to my home state Michigan, north of the city of Detroit. We were to stay there during the last week of March and the first week of April. The last few times I went to Michigan it was either in June, August, or October. And even though I grew up in Michigan, I had not been to Michigan in March or April in quite some time. I packed a couple of cotton sweaters and a rad waxed-cotton motorcycle-style jacket with a picture of Steve McQueen imprinted on the lining. It had no snap-in wool lining and I thought that I would not need it. After all, March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. Right? As the plane carrying me and my wife was descending for a landing in Detroit Metropolitan Airport, we looked out the fuselage window and saw what looked like at least three inches of snow on the ground. The pilot came on the air and announced that the wind chill was 5 degrees Fahrenheit. I looked at my wife.
The shuttle bus drove us to a car rental and we chose to pay for a mid-size car. The cashier told us we would get a Ventura. We stood outside shivering, clenching our teeth, hugging each other while we waited for the valet to arrive with the car. The valet drove up in front of us in a brand new Charger. He said he took one look at my cool jacket, and new I would need a sporty ride. I thanked him and gave him tip. We leaped in the vehicle, drove to the first shopping mall we saw alongside I-94, ran inside, and bought wool sweaters, down jackets, Detroit Lions beanies, and gloves. Sorry McQueen, you would have looked very cool in that new Charger.
Driving to my sister’s house, I remembered that when I was a kid I walked one mile every day to school and one mile back. Sometimes during January or February, no matter how many layers of clothing I wore, the cold bit all the way down to the marrow of the bones. The cheeks on my face felt like they had been scorched with ice. And then the cold would grip my lungs and heart and I thought I was going into cardiac arrest.
Reading Jack C. Buck’s “Gathering View” harked back those times. I had again forgotten that winter in Michigan can last well into May. Mr. Buck has kindly reminded me. I wish I had read this book before that expedition with my wife. Winter in Michigan is either chilly, cold, freezing, polar, bone-chilling, face-peeling, or heart-stopping. There is no warm, cuddly, soft-fleeced March lamb. Mr. Buck encapsulates this face-blistering phenomenon in his vivid collection of short poems. In his book, warmth comes only in human contact, literally and lovingly. His succinct poems paint the grandeur of Michigan in all its beauty—rivers, lakes, forests, flora and fauna. He also alludes to the Michiganders penchant for football. The book is divided into three sections: one is the late autumn and first few months of winter (including references to football); two, the long bitter middle of winter; and three, the ending of winter and the beginning of spring (which can still be quite nippy). In this book, Buck has produced empathetic poems about loneliness, solitude, and those ever-saving Persophonic graces, acts of humanity.
You can find the book here:
Stephen Page is the Author of The Timbre of Sand, Still Dandelions, and A Ranch Bordering the Salty River. He holds two AA’s from Palomar College, a BA from Columbia University, and an MFA from Bennington College. He also attended Broward College. He is the recipient of The Jess Cloud Memorial Prize, a Writer-in-Residence from the Montana Artists Refuge, a Full Fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center, an Imagination Grant from Cleveland State University, and an Arvon Foundation Ltd. Grant. He loves his wife, reading, travel, family, and friends.
These images stay with the reader as a photograph in words, intense realism.
In the poem Champion Cat Breeder, Wierzbicki shows her humorous side in reflecting on poets.
“So you’re big in the poetry world/Who Cares?/ It’s like being a champion cat breeder/ You move in weird, fussy/ little circles/ where ego’s erupt like cat-spit …”
Wierzbicki takes on the elites in the poem, My Apology to Saks 5th Ave. In the second stanza she writes:
You can find the book here:
g emil reutter is a writer of poems and stories. He can be found here: https://gereutter.wordpress.com/about/
By Larissa Shmailo
William Carlos Williams famously wrote: “It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet men die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.” And the poet Anna Wrobel demanded, “If poets aren’t prophets, / what are they?/ If poets aren’t prophets, /what good are they?” More than any other art, we expect wisdom from our poets, even as we also demand the usual things we want from the arts: beauty, inspiration, elegance, connection, revelation. Dickinson, Whitman, and Frost delivered on those scores, and in an intimate, deceptively simple way, so does Michael T. Young, who takes up the mantle of poet as philosopher and fabulist in his rich collection, The Infinite Doctrine of Water.
Young’s wisdom is paternal, and its source is nature, and the advice of natural history is couched in lyrical language full of subtle twists and delights. In “Advice from a Bat,” our Aesop adjures: “Hunt only at night. Fly erratically. Defy even your own expectations / . . . Cultivate the myths about you . . .” Many poems of Doctrine are like unexpected gardens in the center of lower Manhattan, replete with catkins, beech trees, lemons, dandelions, bioluminescence, chameleons, and gingko trees. And water schools us through the title poem’s prosopopeia:
In The Infinite Doctrine of Water, bridges and subways and the station at Journal Square and Wall Street’s narrow lanes become an ecosystem full of flora and strange fauna, strangely haunted and strangely hopeful, connected viscerally to the past, animated by a lyrical pen that brings its fond transcendental musings to it, and luckily, to us.
You can find the book here:
Larissa Shmailo is a poet, author, translator, editor, and critic.
Logan Krum of the Northeast Times reviews The Handheld Mirror of the Mind by Diane Sahms-Guarnieri https://northeasttimes.com/finding-truth-through-poetry-6748fc56061a
By Larissa Shmailo
Like a Chinese-Polish American cross between Rod Serling and Emily Dickinson, Thaddeus Rutkowski invites you to the portals of mind and matter in Border Crossings. In this first collection of poems, the fiction writer and performance artist presents carefully sculpted, deceptively simple verses of immediate interest to the reader, typically with an understated but potent twist.
Whether at the boundaries between cultures, the edges of human interiority, or the trespasses of racism, trapdoors usually closed shut are pried open in Border Crossings. “Light and Shadow,” among the poems opening the book, describes the poet’s initial conflict moving in and out of hidden places:
My father opens a trapdoor
and leads me down concrete stairs
. . .
I don’t want to stay.
Spiders scrunch in the corners,
and pieces of copper tubing—
. . .
litter the floor
. . .
Spiders notwithstanding, the poet finds himself liking the smell of horsehair cement in the cellar and wanting to stay there. The rest of the volume’s poems proceed to traverse borders to the secret and unknown.
As Rutkowski comes to love cellars, so he comes to love spiders. The collection reveals the rurally reared poet’s childlike fascination with spiders, bees, flies, rodents, raptors, tree frogs, and other animalia of crevices and corners. There is both a love for the honest presence of nature’s smallest and a vampire’s interest in “little lives”:
I can see and hear it now,
the crazy path of flight at blinding speed,
the inevitable, the unavoidable, hitting,
when the crazy fly comes into contact
with the eye, with the bed,
buzzing around upside down,
for the crazy fly has no great sense of equilibrium.
. . .
I stand back
while a hyper bird perches on a jumbo stalk
so another can feed on the multi seeds
next to the mad mud hole.
Perhaps these innocent animals offer a kind of escape from other, more malevolent creatures. From “Party Animals”:
I throw a party
. . .
Another guest says
he killed people
who looked like me
when he was in Vietnam.
The kindness of nature juxtaposes vividly with the descriptions of rednecks and racists literally at the poet’s door; the conjunction is reminiscent of Viktor Frankl seeing hope and life in a sparrow perched outside his Auschwitz barracks window. The violent racists cross borders in threatening trespass and are held back spiritually by the poet’s integrity and wit, with the help of small loving lives.
As a veteran performance poet and ranter, Rutkowski routinely crosses audience boundaries with épater-le-bourgeoisie material. A common edgy theme is sex, delivered with deadpan. From “Nine Rules for No Sex”:
No kissing with a cold sore.
No kissing with a sore throat.
No thoughtless pressing, rubbing or brushing.
No fingering with long nails.
No fingering with hangnails.
No foolish fingering . . . .
The motion is sometimes toward stand-up comedy, as in “Anarchist Manifesto” ( “I believe in anarchy, / but not if everybody goes wild.”) The same wry humor obtains as the poet finds his Asian roots in food and found poems; “Found Poem, Hong Kong Museum”:
When you are finished tilling the soil,
spading seedlings, weeding, winnowing,
hulling, grinding and pounding,
you may enjoy
the silky yellow rice,
the dry sticky rice,
the rat’s tooth rice,
the little flowery waist rice,
and the yellow husk full brow rice.
The poet encourages forays into the unknown, but with realism and caveats. Despite the “disappointing” toilet facilities of foreign places, and the shock of strange invertebrate foods, Rutkowski reminds us in the poem, “Border Crossing,” that “it’s the people we want to see.” And cautions his reader:
So let’s think twice before we cross
the twenty yards of no-man’s-land.
I know you want to get there
as fast as we can.
You can find the book here: https://sensitiveskinmagazine.com/books/border-crossings/
Larissa Shmailo is an American poet, novelist, translator, and critic. Her poetry collections are Medusa’s Country, #specialcharacters, In Paran, the chapbook A Cure for Suicide, and the e-book Fib Sequence; her latest novel is Patient Women. Shmailo’s work has appeared in Plume, the Brooklyn Rail, Fulcrum, the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, the Journal of Poetics Research, Drunken Boat, Barrow Street, and the anthologies Measure for Measure: An Anthology of Poetic Meters, Words for the Wedding, Contemporary Russian Poetry, Resist Much/Obey Little: Poems for the Inaugural, and many others. Shmailo is the original English-language translator of the world’s first performance piece, Victory over the Sun by Alexei Kruchenych. Shmailo also edited the anthology Twenty-first Century Russian Poetry and has been a translator on the Russian Bible for the American Bible Society. Please see more about Shmailo at her website at http://www.larissashmailo.com and Wikipedia athttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larissa_Shmailo.
By Stephen Page
Cati Porter’s Seven Floors Up is about wifehood, womanhood, and most expressively, adulthood. Porter reveals in varied forms of verse the roles of a contemporary married mother.
The narrator of the poems has a husband, two children, a cancer-ridden dog, a mother, a stepmother, a mother in law, and a couple of people in her extended family who are terminally ill. She often reflects on how she got to where she is, and in her everyday occurrences she inadvertently divulges to the reader that being an adult means accepting responsibility and not showing that you are falling apart inside. Protecting her children from every day scrapes and falls is big on her list of things to do. To keep her life from getting heavy, she often looks for and finds the humorous things in her life.
This is a well-written book containing a good combination of serious and funny poems. It is an interesting read for anyone.
You can find the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Seven-Floors-Up-Cati-Porter/dp/093241267X
Stephen Page is the author of “A Ranch Bordering the Salt River.”. He can be found at