Category Archives: Selection from the Current Issue of The Idiom

Tollbooth Review from way back and Van Gogh’s crows

This was posted a while back but thought I’d mention it here…..Matthew J. Hall a poet who has been in a previous issue of The Idiom wrote up a lil review of our novel Tollbooth His other blog posts are great too about literary things he’s reading and more….

The Current Issue of The Idiom Volume 9 Issue 1 is now available on our website!  You can flip through the Magazine if it shows up on your computer or click on Volume 9 issue1 to download a PDF to your mobile device and tablets….damn we’re fancy….

In this issue the poet, Christopher Mulrooney sent us some poems and we chose his piece, Van Gogh’s crows

the symbolism is expressed in the brushwork of a few seconds etc.
a flick of the wrist and it’s done
not the dull cowboys at the bright supermarket
signifying where the posse is laid ambush for
in Yuma territory or thereabouts
or the girlish echoes of a ghost town in the West entirely imaginary
birds of night closing in on the day at the start
When I see a poem about art I tend to turn it into some type of ars poetica and even though this piece isn’t about writing I take the situation of Van Gogh and his painting and turn it into some kind of epic poem about the poets own writing….or maybe it’s just easier for me to relate as a writer and see all art as some kind of universal machine and make it all relatable in my mind…..
but whatever it is I loved the epic first line about symbolism that dwindles into a simple “etc.” at the end….obviously I am a huge fan of the ellipses, and etc. can be considered the lettered form of the punctuation mark….
That etc. is also kinda shown visually in the Van Gogh painting … as our eyes are drawn to it at the end of the first line in the painting we are drawn to the crows rising up to the sky and slowly dwindling off.  In the painting we are surrounded by a very “dramatic, cloudy sky” almost as dramatic as the “dull cowboys at the bright supermarket” to the “girlish echoes of a ghost town” and the other images that make up the poem….
Do you agree?  What else do you like or not like about this piece….let me know in the comments below…
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Bone Dancers Drink….

Bone Dancers Drink   is the first and last line in Jeffrey Grassley’s poem Seen from the Current Issue of The Idiom Magazine

the rest of the piece has just as many great one liners and images throughout and reads really well out loud.  It’s a great homage to Bukowski and his attitude that writers shouldn’t try to write like him is something I wish more writers would learn.  “And too often we multiply ourselves / by our tragedies” is a great statement and a thought I’ve been contemplating about myself and the people around me….

Being Able to Touch is a tighter poem but flows just as easily as the last one.

“teacher

of cadence, an education
in bad prophecy– project
and convince them, that yes,
i speak of, electricity
static-cling shockwaves on skin
beneath warming sheets
and little space– ghost stories,
we told too many war stories,”

His internal rhymes are magnificent without being obvious or sing-songy.  Again his images surprise me as I approach each line and although I can’t make an immediate connection to them by the end of the poem I am satisfied.

Here’s his bio that he sent me and you should check out his chapbook if ya like his stuff:

-Jeffrey Graessley lives in La Puente, CA. His poems can be found in the upcoming volumes of Emerge Literary Journal and RCC MUSE Magazine. His first chapbook, Her Blue Dress is due out sometime in September (Silver Birch Press, 2013). His recent discovery of the BEAT generation has prompted loving and longing thoughts for that simple, drunken, far-gone time in American history.

James Duncan and his use of the absurd….

You can see James Duncan’s poems in the current issue. I couldn’t link it from my ipad so here’s the address:
http://theidiommag.com/idiom%20sites/idiommagazine.html

I like when things don’t make sense. I especially like when people get angry about things that don’t make sense. In James Duncan’s poem No Sunday Delivery we have a narrator who’s mad cause someone stole his mailbox….but the anger seems unwarranted if this is taking place on a Sunday when things don’t get delivered anyways….

I like how everything seems to reference every other image in the piece….the birds in flight connect with the crying babies because I think of a stork who delivers babies and the stamps for sunlight remind me of a fresh begging and of course the play on the word stamps as a verb and the currency we use to mail things….I’m not quite sure what this piece is about but having everything reference each other and a few unstable spacings around the piece give me some kind of poetic pleasure….

James’s other poem in the issue, Waiting for the Artist to Arrive Is a little more concrete and narrative. It’s a kind of ars poetica and celebrates the similarities of hanging out in Astoria and an Edward Hopper scene of people doing there daily routine and sometimes that quick glimpse into a brief moment of someone’s life.

I don’t know Manhattan well enough (does anyone really?) to know if they would actually line around the block “to catch a glimpse at that thousand word painting of checkerboard broken windows” but considering the state of reality television today he may not be too far off…

Imaginary Buildings in Invisible Cities perhaps?

In the Current Issue of The Idiom Magazine Matthew Antonio has a poem called Imaginary Buildings 2…He had a few other Imaginary Building poems and other numbered poems in a series titled He….unfortunately they were published in other places so I grabbed #2 before I could lose it.

I love these types of poems and if you know my (Mark Brunetti) poetry you know that I have a small collection of poems I have dubbed ‘museum’ poems.  My obsession with museum poems began with Carolyn Forche’s poem The Museum of Stones.   I was given a workshop prompt and wrote The Museum of Dogs which won me the William Paterson Poetry prize and eventually became the title for my collection of poems for my thesis project.

….but back to Matthew’s poem…..Imaginary Buildings remind me of Italo Calvino’s novel Invisible Cities, a collection of what I like to consider prose poems about Marco Polo and his travels to the many different cities he’s visited.  These cities are being told to Kubla Khan but in turn are really being told to the reader and Matthew’s poem whether he read that book or not is a reflection of it.  The one thing I liked about Invisible Cities is the growth of the absurd and strange concepts for each city.  They become contradictions and Matthews first line, “I’m invited I say, though no one believes me.” and continues to state, “None of the names are names.  None of the walls are walls.”  I’ll let you read the rest of it on our site but these contradictions throughout the pieces really sets up the reader nicely on what they should and shouldn’t expect….

Jennifer Lemming reading her poem, Driving with Sunflowers

We recently posted why we liked Jennifer’s poem, Driving with Sunflowers, now you can hear her read it on The Idiom’s Website.

For Mac users the audio works best in Safari and cuts very short in Firefox for some reason….

Waiting in Line or Driving with Sunflowers

After workshopping a bunch of English Comp student essays I found myself repeating that if there is a change in action they should start a new paragraph….the title of these two poems by Jennifer Lemming in the current issue   remind me of those motions….

Waiting in Line, has a kind of sing songy rhyme scheme but I’m distracted by the slow build-up of slightly crude images…the first person narration starts by waiting in line ‘for a big banana’ which made me laugh and moved me to the snot in your voice and finally to the unnamed ‘you’ who was so ‘prickly’. . . these images are presented in quatrain stanzas and ultimately set the scene for the final biting couplet “Some day, you’ll be the one to pay / and have a nice day.” which turns this piece into a sonnet and the brief interaction turns into a love poem of a sort….

Driving with Sunflowers is a larger piece that shows off Jennifer’s ability to use free verse and move the reader through not only the poem but this trip to an art gallery with someone she makes clear is only a friend….I don’t know if this friend is trying to be more, but I cringed every time he tried to further explain the art on the walls.  In fact he’s not even critiquing the art but more the artist’s lives which makes him more of a TMZ type critic who takes more of an interest in the life than the work….I can relate to some of her final thoughts of him as she decides where he stands in her life, “I watch his retreating figure, knowing long ago just how much energy / to put into this friendship and I now know to just let go.”

“there were those lonely nights in pittsburgh…”

This is how John Grochalski starts his poem, “Buddha of Pizza and Beer” in the Current Issue of The Idiom Magazine.

It’s a type of ‘coming of age’ poem and throughout the piece he mentions all those things that we all address at some point in our lives

  • when i was first on my own
  • losing and gaining friends
  • nights i didn’t want to be around anyone
  • hung up over some girl

In the short time of the piece he slowly comes to terms with these thoughts, gets his pizza, stops and gets some beer, and goes home “waiting on my moment” becoming some kind of contemporary buddha….

His other piece in this issue, “Our Crowd” has a similar voice as the last piece and his observation of seemingly everyday events again present a narrator who is accepting of a typical day in the life.

We here at the idiom especially liked “this group of old ladies who won’t quit laughing at their folly”, “the confused austrian yelling into his phone”, and “the chinese tourists taking photos of their mistake”.  All these characters make for a surreal scene in the poem and help to create the visual of place and surroundings for the piece.