Tuesday, December 22, 2015

They and Their Song Shape and Sleep Manhattan

During the revolution, iron
chains ate fighter
ship hulls beneath
my rippling reflection.
British and American
blood gurgled the cold dark.

The Hudson's nervy
waves erode Manhattan,

but curving around
the cloisters, slowly
cutting stone, the white-
capped water continuously salutes
West Point soldiers. Now,

if you're sitting still, you'll
hear kind calm lullabies
roiling through sea
air. Violent deaths cannot
muffle the songs of valiant men,
even under watery graves.

Monday, December 7, 2015

100,000 Pageviews

I just saw that I now have over 100,000 page views.*

I feel like this:
Kyle, Holly, and Nicolas

*Who cares if ninety percent of the views are likely my own naval gazing.

A Letter to Nicolas Erickson

All the walls will fall. I've labored over a work for you for over a decade -- many works, actually. Salinger's Buddy Glass had Seymour, and I have you. I relate to the second born of a large brood, and to one who likes to write. By default he became the eldest because of an absent first born. You're not absent, but you've often gone your own way regardless of others' wishes and sometimes regardless of understandable logic. Forgive me if this opening is cruel. I've had to be cruel to myself to write this. I'm currently writing purely from the heart, so this is trash. I hope art will enter later.

There's no doubt you've bravely blazed your future legacy with all sincerity. Oh! the cost of being fearlessly earnest! If we could but wear another face for a while, prepare a face for the faces that we meet -- to rip off Eliot. But we can't.

You know, I've recently torched my own trail. I have regrets, but as Joy Harjo said, we must "let go of regrets."

This is a poorly constructed letter. Each paragraph builds an incomplete thought and leaves the reader wanting. Let me begin again.

All the walls will fall. By this I mean "nothing gold can stay." Brosef, we're so heavenly minded we're sometimes no earthly good. William Blake took pride in this state, but though it doesn't show in his writing, he had to be terribly embarrassed at times. I hope he was ashamed. I am. I'm ashamed of how much I've longed for transcendence. Our family has suffered for our being overly heavenly minded.

As you know, Whitman stirred my soul and confused me. I experienced "church" with Whitman, and I thank poetry for making me want to stay in this world.

Czeslaw Milosz confessed he'd be likely damned to a lower level of hell because he loved making literature more than his loved ones. What happens to us who love loved ones so much that we know we must be honest to our calling regardless of whether or not they understand?

I thank God for His grace and mercy, and I thank my family for the same.

How does anyone stand this world. I can only "get the news I need from the weather report." Televised news in America is heartache.

I'm still too honest in this letter to construct a descent metaphor.

Back to the news. Can poetic intuition help one disregard the pain of the world? No. Pa-pa asked us when we'd be ready to be Christ for the world. No one can be Christ but Christ. Yet, we endure our attempting to be like Him. And we're horrible at it, brother. We can't remain sinless, and attempting to do so leans toward the type of pride that got Lucipher kicked out of heaven.

Kyrie eleison! Our primary prayer and life's work must be a cry for mercy and forgiveness -- for ourselves and others. Christ said, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." I say, "Forgive us because we often no better and don't choose to do it."

As I ended each previous paragraph, I'll end this letter abruptly.

I love you. I miss you.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Mental Music

Eva asked, "You have
a photographic
memory?" "I don't

know," I said. "Bluebirds
are my favorite
aves. They can make
melodies that quake

my heart to weeping -- .
Spell your name from back
to front, add an "s",
and think of blue wings.

Sing, Eva, and you'll find
mind photography

Friday, October 30, 2015

Counter Poem #9

What is more intimate: a New
Yorker kiss on the cheek
or a Southern hug? Either
way, you breathe in a friend.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Counter Poem #8

"I've been in prison. 
I've had beautiful women -- 
had a seat next to Mick
Jagger. Life is good."

How to Prepare Heart

I broke one of my rules and wrote this review while attending Alabaster Rhumb's How to Prepare Heart at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. I typically rely on my memory and don't annoy fellow audience members by writing during a performance, but I was sitting in the back near the bouncer. Nobody cared.

He is aural satisfaction incarnate.

Close your eyes and enjoy the sea voyage, particularly Calliope.

I'm biased, as a poet, but I think Rhumb could use fewer words. His capillaries are clean. The whites of his eyes are clear. His "I'm so scary / see my capillaries" is a bare-bones lyric, utterly sung from the gutter. Catgut strings are the sole accompaniment.

I confess that I know Rhumb and Godin (the producer) -- two precious souls that too few have had the gift of meeting -- and seeing her face alight to his crooning is a highlight for me.

Rhumb is soul salve for a tender heart.

"We're all lost / in madness"

Frankly, I believe in God, and I'm amazed by anyone who produces such tremendous art because I think all great art is from above. Whitman would have interrupted Rhumb to sing along with him. Whitman's pantheism strangely works for me, and I hope it does for Rhumb. Rhumb is a holy conduit.

"I want to be a bird" is a solemn flamenco tune, full of duende. Lorca would be proud -- better yet, he would dance.

At the end of the experience, I found all to be necessary. Let me repeat: there is nothing superfluous in Rhumb's creation. All is necessary.

Counter Poems #3 - #7

Every body worships
some diety by living,
eating, and defecating.
Wash your hands.

My job ate my
life. My wife
saved my dreams.
A furry belly sings.

[For John Foti]
"Who is the biggest Yankee
fan here?" "I don't know,
I had a shit ton of Whiskey,"
said Jeremy.

Tennessee Williams moaned,
"If I got rid of my demons,
I'd lose my angels, too."
Lose 'em both, start anew.

[For Evan Karachalios]
"You got your back
to the corner. You
protect your kin,
friend. Good on ya."

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Tompkins Park

I'm sitting in the park.
Every cobblestone breaks.
I'm thinking of my heart.

Each person breaks apart.

All will come to nothing.
The sky is getting dark.
I am ever wanting.

Each person breaks apart. 

Shadows climb the buildings.
I'm sitting in the park. 
All will come to nothing. 

Each person breaks apart. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Counter Poem #2

Ladies folding fabric
stick together. Fabric
clings to ladies folding
fabric. Funny women!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Darkness Hanged: A Love Poem

for David P.

Daniel drank the living
blood and choked. Robert
fed him innards. Each gave
till they were empty. Only Danny
gave past quit, fed himself
into the maw of fidelity,
and came out raw boned.
He came out stone.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Counter Poem #1

People accurately estimate
1-year plans, underestimate
5-year plans. People are flowers
dying each summer.

Counter Poem Criteria

Actually, here are the rules:

Right four lines
on a counter top.
is optional.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Watcha doing on your back?

Journal Excerpt

Why was I on my back? Well, I was on the sidelines during the second overtime round of a wrestling match. The tournament was still young. My coach and my dad asked me to lie down, so they could fan me with a towel and give me fluids. But I was mentally defeated in that moment because I rested on my back.

In wrestling practice, we could never rest our shoulder blades on the mat for longer than a half second. The only time we did was when I and my fellow teammates were doing crunches, or of course, if we happened to be pinned in a practice match -- even then, both shoulder blades would simultaneously touch the mat for a split second, the whistle would blow (or the coach would slap the mat) and then it was over.

At this tournament where I was lying flat on my back, my dad had earlier bought me a t-shirt that read:

Boys play football
Girls play basketball

I was self conscious of his purchase because my family rarely had money. Though the shirt was inexpensive -- red, iron-on letters across a blue jersey -- I felt it was an extravagant expense. However, I was not thinking about this while I lay on my back, instead I was looking at the high-hung, florescent fixtures and breathing heavily. I was red faced and sweating. I was not mentally prepared for the last round.

Let me emphasize the fact that my coach and dad were seeking my best interest. I was obviously overheated. This was my second match of a double-elimination tournament -- I'd lost the first match. Dad and the coach were each shaped like a "V" (wide-set, large shoulders and strong small calves). These were tough dudes. They asked me to lie on my back and this baffled me, but I trusted them because they wouldn't ever do anything to kill my winning spirit. They literally wanted me to cool down.

The last round was about to begin. I faced my opponent in a standing position -- feet shoulder width apart (one slightly in front of the other), shoulders hunched, head slightly down, eyes on my opponent's waist. I was down by a single point. If I took him down, I'd win. He only had to survive the round. We had 60 seconds.


I was furious and exhausted, but I knew the remaining time and my goal. I rushed him and pushed him off the mat. The referee blew the whistle. Back at the center, we began again. I drove and nailed a single-leg hold (45 seconds remained). He ground my face, his thumb raked across my nose, prying my head away from him. I wasn't budging. He got smart and hurled himself out of bounds, again. The whistle blew. Back to center (28 seconds remained), I locked up with him, then immediately let go. At 80 pounds, it was stupid to wrestle like a heavy weight -- too much leverage was lost with a minor mistake (10 seconds remained). I somehow let go of him and simultaneously swung around behind him. I slammed him to the mat, but I was too forceful. He used the momentum to spring away from me. I grabbed an ankle as he crab walked, again toward the coward's exit -- out of bounds. I bent his knee to the mat with my hands around his foot and my shoulder to his calf. The whistle blew.

I lost. His hand was raised in victory.

Having always been too sensitive for my own good. I burst into tears and shamefully walked off the mat. My dad must have been disappointed, but he remained silent, gave me my sweatshirt, and walked beside me toward the bleachers. We picked up our cooler and gym bag near my teammates. A stranger said, "That was incredible. You're very strong, son." I wiped my face, stopped crying, and said, "Thank you."

I'm sure Dad was proud of my reaction. Even in defeat, his son acted like a man.

Though it's needless to say, I never rested on my back again. A couple years later, I began playing soccer. Team sports are less intense.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Civil War

Be mean to the dead, but revere
the savage mothers who bled
their high-caul capped daughters.
Forget the peacekeeping
shopkeepers' sons who fled
the fields and slaughtered others
under the emblem of cowardice,
who kissed the coin-eyed captain
and sliced his traitorous brother.

If God is for us, He allows us to kill.

Blessed Confederacy, blessed
Union, feel free to blame the Most
High for your freedom. Red
stones, red bricks, and the red
sickening thickens my heart.
If the devil is for peace, I'll fill
my father's well with entrails.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Mi Hermosa en Cornelia's

Closed doors. Still the same
closed doors. Laney understands.
Projector screens complicate
things. If the Queen of England,
or the Queen of Rock n' Roll,
Freddie Mercury, said to you,
"You've made it." Would you
believe it?
                 I'm blinded by love,
but the Blind Boys of Alabama
can sing -- they can hear. I hear
you. You are a conduit. You, you,
you, I live for you. When I'm
senile, I'll have three questions:
(1) Where's my music? (2) Where's
my food? (3) Where's my cutes?

Baby, you are the wind above
my wings. That's how lift actually
               Leslie, sing your heart
out. I'm always here. I'm always
here. Remember,

I'm always here.

Photo courtesy of Craig Ruttle

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Two-line Poem #27 [Redux]

[Here's a clear, boring prose poem.]

Create metrical feet in a poetic line by counting
your footsteps in each meter you walk.

Two-line Poem #27

Feet to a meter equals
footsteps in a meter. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

19 September 2015 Poetry Workshop

Oklahoma to Astoria, One Poet's Path and Practice
3:30 - 4:30PM

KYLE ERICKSON, former high-school English Teacher (Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences), is leading a workshop for poets of all ages. Every person has poetry in their hearts, regardless of whether or not they know it. Walk in, grab a pen, and have fun!

Kyle is a co-creator of the poetry series, Kick Assonance, which has been noted by the Poetry Foundation, The Academy of American Poets, hailed as a “Critics’ Pick” by Time Out New York Magazine, and called “a notable New York Event” by The Rumpus. His work can be read in This Land Press, Promethia, B’More Poetic, and on his blog, okieinthecity.com, which was heralded as a “Top 101 New York Blog.” His first book of poetry, Enduro’s Lament, was released in 2012.

Two-line Poem #26

There is a god,
he's called money. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Two-line Poem #20

"Emulate the ire," my Scottish friend
said. I break the briar to make my bed. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Choo Choo Tune

(for Theo Erickson)

Trains ain't made to fly. 
They are made to tow
all the goods we love
and blow their whistle
loud enough to stop
and say, "Hello!"

Trains are boys toys,
but cool girls like 'em
too. They make funny
noises like choo choo,
beep beep, and the brakes 
go squeak squeak!

I ride a cool train
that goes underground!
It takes me to my
writing spot where
I can see the sun come
up and watch the pretty people

walking 'round my city.
Trains make me happy.

Photo courtesy of Craig Ruttle

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Laney at Mary O's

Nobody knows what happens
behind closed doors except those
attending a communal wonder:
a pianist tenaciously performing


A gloved hand hides
its sins. The working man,
pianist or carpenter, wears
his epidermal honesty. 
He lies to none
and hammers the keys. 

Aural beauty's indiscriminate
only eyes lie to ears. 

The Texas fiend makes
ears weep at the spectacle
of his vessel that he's
flaying with piano strings. 

Yet most just sit
in silent bliss,
receiving the harmless
gift of art. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Two-line Poem #11

Speculation's good for fiction,
but don't assume the moon's a lamp.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Missouri Sea

For Hal Ragsdale

“And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by”
            --John Masefield

You wrecked Linda by dying
first, but you returned

with a second heart.

After her death, you crafted
your house to berth her back

to you, slowly if necessary,
with an electric lighthouse as your

séance candle, with her antique
model ships surrounding you—many

ready lifeboats. But framed 
and prominent near your TV

was the store-bought poster
of a man dwarfed by the lighthouse

that was dwarfed by a wave 
crashing into it. 

Photo by Jean Guichard

August 27 Kick Assonance

August 27, 2015
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Award-winning storyteller and Huffington Post blogger Leslie Goshko hosts a curated evening of original poetic works that’s sure to Kick Assonance! Join co-creators Kyle Erickson ("Enduro’s Lament") and Steven Leyva ("Low Parish") as they welcome fellow authors Ron Kolm and Zakia Henderson-Brown for an evening of original poetry that Time Out New York magazine named a “Critics’ Pick.”


Kyle Erickson is co-creator of the poetry series Kick Assonance, which has been noted by the Poetry Foundation, The Academy of American Poets, hailed as a “Critics’ Pick” by Time Out New York Magazine, and called “a notable New York Event” by The Rumpus. Kyle’s work can be read in This Land Press, Promethia, B’More Poetic, and on his blog, www.okieinthecity.com, which was heralded as a “Top 101 New York Blog.” His chapbook, Enduro’s Lament, was released in 2012.

Steven Leyva was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and raised in Houston, Texas. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in 2 Bridges Review, The Fiddleback, The Light Ekphrastic, The Cobalt Review, and Little Patuxent Review. He is a Cave Canem fellow, the winner of the 2012 Cobalt Review Poetry Prize, and author of the chapbook Low Parish. Steven holds an MFA from the University of Baltimore, where he teaches in the undergraduate writing program.

Ron Kolm is a founding member of the Unbearables. He is a contributing editor of Sensitive Skin and the Editor of the Evergreen Review. Ron is the author of The Plastic Factory, Divine Comedy and, with Jim Feast, the novel Neo Phobe. His most recent collection of poems, Suburban Ambush, was published by Autonomedia last year, and a new book of short stories, Duke & Jill, has just been published by Unknown Press.

Zakia Henderson-Brown has received fellowships and scholarships from the Fine Arts Work Center, Callaloo Journal, and Cave Canem. Her poems have appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Burner Magazine, Mobius:The Journal of Social Change, Reverie, Thethepoetry.com, Torch, Vinyl, and the anthology “Why I Am Not a Painter” (Argos: 2011). She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2013 by Beloit Poetry Journal and serves as Associate Editor and Outreach Coordinator at The New Press. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Monday, July 13, 2015

Friday, July 10, 2015

Two-line Poem #7

Noble empire building
walls full of rats.

For Steven

Remember when we sat on the graffiti-ed bench -- what wondrous words, "Rage Dionysus", marker-ed across the back rest -- and how the sun descended as the water lifted the military ship docked behind us? I was likely talking through family woe while your kindness sat like a stone beside me. In this poem, the sun hissed into the bay as a pirate ship turned toward us, only you know the truth. The vessel rounded starboard, and a dancing, vested man with a curved sword lifted high, gazed upon our maudlin scene. Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" roared out some speakers. Your head tossed back, as it does when you're struck by goofy beauty, and the painted raven on the brick facade took flight, startled by the suddenly laughing twin stones. Poe would've been proud, or maybe he was the blackness that soared from the brick. Maybe he was the silky shrieking strike through the gloaming.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hopeful Mourning

Feathered omens overhead
caw caw, slicing slack
souls in overcoats

wandering snowbanked
sidewalks. Every window
darkens. Ghosts fill the sky

and silence the sidewalk
with cumulus skin—white above,
white below. Behind the frosted

window panes, the living hover
round hooded candles,
interceding for the deceased.

Silence saturates all.
The cacophonous caw
caw cuts the sentient.

“O holy murder of crows!
How we mutter under thee!
Mercy, mercy, for the unseen!

Help them homeward. Set them
free!” Feathered spirits snuff
the candle wicks. Pungent

blackness. The sky is clearing.
The streets are melting,
blackness. All lights are out

tonight, and hope for bluebird
chirping rests upon our
eyelids.  Hope for morning.