“Eleven Fables” and “To Be Continued (Ars Poetica)” published in Manifest West anthology

I’m exceedingly proud to announce that two of my previous published poems, “Eleven Fables” and “To Be Continued (Ars Poetica)” (both in last year’s Pemmican) have been included in the Western State Colorado University Press anthology, Manifest West. This is a great new series and the quality of the work, which focuses on humor and the West, is outstanding. You can read the poems themselves over at Pemmican (no point in duplicating things). Continue reading “Eleven Fables” and “To Be Continued (Ars Poetica)” published in Manifest West anthology

Big day: I have three new poems in the just-released Summer Amethyst Arsenic

The Summer 2012 issue of Amethyst Arsenic, a great online poetry and art journal, is now available, featuring poetry from Cassandra de Alba, Mary Kovaleski Byrnes, James Caroline, Meaghan Ford, Hannah Galvin, Casey Rocheteau, Rene Schwiesow, Steve Subrizi and many more. Plus, art from Pauline Lim, Ivan de Monbrison and Jessica Pinsky. Also, yes, I have three pieces in it: “1638,” “Wedding Song,” and “Meditation: Monarch Mountain.” Here’s a taste:

Meditation: Monarch Mountain

Aspens white-barked, gold.
Winter is coming, early 
snow on Monarch Pass.

Continue reading “Big day: I have three new poems in the just-released Summer Amethyst Arsenic

Archipelago: “Lasse is dead. He committed suicide yesterday.”

In 2005 my friend and colleague, Lars Bjuvberg, committed suicide in Stockholm. Lars and I weren’t all that close, but his death hit me in a way that I still don’t fully understand. Perhaps it was as simple as the fact that someone so very talented had escorted himself off this mortal stage.

Or perhaps it was more complicated – as I learned more about the story, I found myself empathizing with him and understanding his decision. I had written about suicide before, and in ways that perhaps suggested something about my own relationship with what many regard as the gravest of human sins. Continue reading “Archipelago: “Lasse is dead. He committed suicide yesterday.””

Samuel Smith: Six Poems Now Up at Pemmican

Pemmican Press

I’ve been ecstatic to have some of my poetry accepted in recent months (after the usual stream of rejections that typify the life of the not-yet-famous poet). In this case, the publication in question is Pemmican, an outstanding online journal that’s been around since the early 1990s. They pride themselves on publishing work that is “outside the mainstream of its day.” In acknowledging their debt to the journals that helped shape their vision, the editors say this:

That poetry might be characterized as not only differing from the stylistic and structural conventions of its time but in its use of imagery and language, its sense of “place” (or lack of place in some cases), and, perhaps most important of all, its embrace of the political as a proper subject for poetry. Continue reading “Samuel Smith: Six Poems Now Up at Pemmican”

The Day Daddy Died

It’s around 9 a.m. May 1, 1994. My stepmother, Kathie, has spent the night at Forsyth Memorial Hospital with my father, Larry, who will die late this afternoon. Their next-door neighbor, Wayne, is driving her home so she can shower and maybe get an hour or two of sleep. She hasn’t slept much in the six weeks since Daddy was admitted to the hospital with massive liver failure. Wayne has been a constant and salving presence during his friend’s illness.

Ten miles, maybe, down Silas Creek Parkway, through the south side of Winston-Salem, then on out Highway 109’s low, pine-strewn roll of hills to where Gumtree Road cuts across, demarcating the northern boundary of Wallburg, NC. This is where Daddy and Kathie live, and it’s where I grew up. These are the cultural outlands of the sprawling new metropolitan South. Our neighborhood straddles the Davidson and Forsyth County lines, and stands too far out into the country to be properly called suburban. But it’s also way too close to Winston to be considered rural. In some senses it’s a border town, possessing neither the urban sophistication of the city nor the kind of “agrarian virtue” my college Politics professor liked to attribute to country living. Antebellum mystique is dead elsewhere, and it never happened here. Continue reading “The Day Daddy Died”


We are the New World’s 13th generation, first citizens of the Next World: whiners, malcontents, slackers, bitching at the taste of boot; blind-stepping teledonnas, our avatars more human than human. Dark little rooms, catatonic terminal glow. We’re vagabonds, rummaging through the machinery of our parents’ high towers, ruthless tribes of marionettes jacked in the trance, the cult of computerized dance, a spasm of youth sizing up the desperation of middle age: slit the Master’s throat or waste away. Here is the ruin left to us: purple haze from the factories acid rain and CFCs we make more money, but we … Continue reading X

One Thing Leads to Another

“One Thing Leads to Another” originally appeared in the Summer 2003 edition of Wilmington Blues. It’s Saturday morning in Wallburg, North Carolina, and Rocky Rigby is sitting in his house on Baptist Church Road listening to KC McKey on The X, 96.3 FM. At the moment, Rocky is drinking a cup of coffee and puzzling over what it means to tell the truth. The whole mess got started Tuesday night. Lou Ann Clodfelter had come up to him after English class and said she wasn’t sure she understood everything the professor had said, and since Rocky always seemed to get … Continue reading One Thing Leads to Another