“Ars Poetica #58” by Alexander Long

By December 15, 2016 E-Verse Universe

In the latter stages of her dementia,
My mother, in a moment of clarity
In the home calmly recounted a “trip,”
As she called it, within her mind: Christmas,
We’re gathered at the table, wine is passed,
Turkey is tender and carved, bowls of mashed yams
And stuffing, candles, sweaters, smiles, warmth…and
It’s so gloriously serene and “right,”
She said, “it was disgusting.” She shared this
With me before the last regimen
Of meds took her even further away.
“At this dinner,” she said “the laughter grew
And our voices raised the joy only families
Are able to raise, never duplicate
Elsewhere….” Then, she stopped, grabbed my hand, held it
For fifteen, twenty, thirty minutes.
Maybe an hour, I don’t remember.
All I can feel now is her hand in mine.
Think of that. How long have you held the hand
Of the person you love and hate the most,
The irreplaceable one? If you
Claim it to have lasted more than twenty
Minutes, no one will believe you. I don’t
Expect you to believe me. But, listen
To my mother’s story. Take her pain
And make it your own, like an undertaker
Beautifies a body. Now, join my mother
And me in the home. Watch her hold my hand.
Listen to her tell me she was fighting
That Christmas with a violence no one could
Comprehend. Listen to her say she knew
She’d eventually lose, to what, she never
Said. Listen: “not a doubt about that one.”
Listen: “I need to feel that warmth I made
That Christmas before my mind removes me
From it.” Watch her take her hand from mine.
Or has her hand been taken from her?
Which is the right voice? Her hands fold
In a fierce gesture of prayer, then loosen.
She’s turning to me, calling my name.
She’s opening a poem for me again.
 
 
Alexander Long has published four chapbooks, most recently The Widening Spell (Q Avenue Press, 2016) & Lunch with Larry (Q Avenue Press, 2014). Long has also published three full collections of poems, most recently Still Life (White Pine Press, 2011). His essays examining the poetry of Larry Levis, among other things, can be found at The Offending Adam, Smartish Pace, & Valparaiso Poetry Review, all of which are available online. 

“I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day” by Wizzard

By December 12, 2016 E-Verse Universe, Feature

When the snowman brings the snow
Well he just might like to know
He’s put a great big smile on somebody’s face
If you jump into your bed
Quickly cover up your head
Don’t you lock the doors
You know that sweet Santa Clause is on the way

Well I wish it could be Christmas everyday
When the kids start singing and the band begins to play
Oh I wish it could be Christmas everyday
So let the bells ring out for Christmas

When your skating in the park
If the snow cloud makes it dark
Then your rosy cheeks are gonna light my merry way
Now the frosty paws appear
And they’ve frozen up my ear
So we’ll lie by the fire
Till the sleet simply knocks ’em all the way

Well I wish it could be Christmas everyday
When the kids start singing and the band begins to play
Oh I wish it could be Christmas every day
So let the bells ring out for Christmas

When the snow man brings the snow (snowman brings the snow)
Well he just might like to know (just might like to know)
He’s put a great big smile on somebody’s face
So if Santa brings that sleigh (Santa brings that sleigh)
Along the milky way (along the milky way)
I’ll sign my name on the rooftop in the snow
Then he may decide to stay

Well I wish it could be Christmas everyday
When the kids start singing and the band begins to play
Oh I wish it could be Christmas everyday
So let the bells ring out for Christmas

Written by Roy Wood • Copyright © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

“Fall on your Knees” by Kevin Cutrer

By December 12, 2016 E-Verse Universe

I’m not so drunk you’re really Santa Claus.
I’m only begging for your ear a while,
then maybe next time you come out for drinks
you’ll think twice before you show up dressed for work.

I bet it’s never right for them, the mothers.
The lighting’s dim, the elf gets in the way,
or else they want to haggle, always looking
for something free. Ain’t nothing ever free.
And you know yourself a two-year-old’s no better
than any rancid, riled up drunk in this dump.
No wonder Santa’s come to Shorty’s Tavern.

You know, my father always wanted us to believe
in you, and every year he had a scheme
to put out all our doubts once and for all.
One Christmas morning there were reindeer tracks
out in the front yard where the grass was thin
and it was muddy from a thunderstorm.
Well, that was all the proof it took for me.
Later I learned he’d sawed a hoof from a buck
his buddy killed, to fake those tracks. He went
to all that trouble just to fool his kids.

He’s almost ninety now and losing it.
I stop in here at times after a visit
to the Home, the times he thinks I’m someone else.
(Always the same for me, a double bourbon.)
The stink of antiseptic fills that hall
loud with the groans of gray, forgotten men,
the coughs of outcast grannies, TV static.
But I’m the only son who works in town,
so every day I bring him lunch and joke
around and try my best. I do my best.

Is it wrong to want never to go again
to those sickening, mirroring floors,
stooping to put new slippers on feet
that used to stand on cement nine hours straight?
Or is it wrong my fear, what brings me here,
what wakes me like a siren in the night,
is not that he will suffer, but that I’ll live
to wear those slippers on my feet, and hear
my son say his name at my blank stare?

Of course you haven’t got an answer, Santa.
You show up once a year expecting us
to sing the same tired songs, over and over,
give more no matter how give out we are.
You say come here, sit on my dirty lap,
tell Santa what you want. Well, all I want
is just to know I’m doing something right,
and if what right I do does any good.

 
 
Kevin Cutrer’s first collection of poems, Lord’s Own Anointed, was published by Dos Madres Press in 2015. More recent work has appeared in Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel, and is forthcoming in The Courtship of Winds and The Hudson Review. Originally from Louisiana, he lives in Boston.
 
Author photo by Meghan Hole

“An honest volume for dishonest times”: Caligulan as Not-Half-Bad Christmas Present

By December 10, 2016 Feature

Support poetry, support small presses, support poets (or this one at any rate) by buying a copy of my latest book, Caligulan. Below I provide a number of ways to buy it in the country of your choice.

You can visit the book’s page on my author site to hear recordings and read more about it.

“Most Americans don’t like to talk about death, but Ernest Hilbert doesn’t mind. Death and decay is what he sees in Caligulan—his third volume of poems after Sixty Sonnets (2009) and All of You on the Good Earth (2013)—and he has little interest in spinning ‘Fictions fielding hopes of glory / Where none should be fulfilled.’ This is a question of temperament, as the title suggests, and reality. However we might feel, it’s relatively clear that the ‘seams’ of order, as Hilbert puts it in one poem, have been ‘unsewn.’ . . . An honest volume for dishonest times.” – Washington Free Beacon

“The poems in Caligulan have a wonderful resonance. These new poems have something very ‘Cal’ [Robert Lowell] about them, the very personal tone and settings combined with extraordinary perceptions. The fishing boats in ‘Barnegat Light’ returning ‘as silhouettes’ is a haunting, beautiful image. At unexpected moments, Hilbert reaches for, and finds, the sublime.” – Michael Steffen, introduction at the Hastings Room Series, Cambridge, Massachusetts

“Tough-minded and precise, Ernest Hilbert’s lyrics, like his old mirror left out at the curb, turn an unflinching gaze on pieces of inner and outer landscapes we often push to the periphery. The poems in Caligulan fashion a stern, witty, and often poignant music out of seemingly unpromising elements courageously glimpsed, combined, or imagined.” – Rachel Hadas, author of Halfway Down the Hall: New and Selected Poems and editor of The Greek Poets: Homer to the Present

“There are books of poetry that, if only readers could be induced to pick them up, might change their minds for good about the supposed incomprehensibility, preciousness, and irrelevance of modern poetry. Ernest Hilbert’s new collection, Caligulan, belongs to that rare class. After his beautifully rendered Sixty Sonnets and the eloquent All of You on the Good Earth comes this richly wrought new collection. Hilbert is a classicist in the finest sense of the term: he has a firm grip on the formal orders that have dominated the great tradition of Anglophone verse from the skalds of Beowulf and the Pearl Poet to the tight gems of darkness of Thomas Hardy, and he uses them to write poems that ring with very contemporary truths. A skillful artificer of forms of verse that have sometimes gone wanting or are unjustifiably neglected or despised after the earthquakes of modernism, he is afraid of neither tight meter nor demanding rhymes: he proves there is nothing whatsoever anachronistic about well-tooled verse; the rage of authenticity can speak as sharply in a sonnet as in a calligramme.” – Christopher Bernard

“Moved by beauty, attuned to the sublimity of natural things, livened by paradox, coaxed into song by pentameter, Ernest Hilbert’s rich new book covers more emotional ground than a reader has any right to expect.” – Rowan Ricardo Phillips, author of When Blackness Rhymes with Blackness

“There’s much pleasure, clarity, and discipline to the way Ernest Hilbert looks around him in Caligulan, at the complicated textures of city and landscape, and at all the stuff, the materials, the detritus, that make up a place, a time, and a life. In these easily formal, easily idiomatic poems you’ll read about a dishwasher—his ‘arsenal of cutlery, / The spider-eggy fluff / That clings like mold to crockery’—and you’ll also meet the stuffed moose at a science museum: ‘You still startle, filling half the false sky . . . . // You tower / In the same black forests I’ve traveled lately.’ Hilbert gets the details right, and he also gets the emotions right. ‘The smoke alarm fails, and your computer crashes’ while an ATM is ‘pitiless, displays a message for / Insufficient Funds.’ But there’s also this: ‘You want to fight. / You spit and shout. In daydreams you sing.’ This is a book full of the real, and also full of heart.” – Daisy Fried, author of Women’s Poetry: Poems and Advice

Caligulan delivers on all of its title’s promise. Every poem evokes the world we live in: we know something is wrong and, in a minute, will likely be worse; but there’s beauty in the portent and in the self-awareness we need to see it. Hilbert’s remarkable ability to draw a scene so clear you immediately make yourself at home, and so suggestive you want to get out because you know you can’t settle in, makes this collection a page-turner in a way most poetry books can never be.” – Erica Dawson, author of Big-Eyed Afraid

Caligulan may have a lurid cover and title and you may be able to purchase t-shirts advertising the book in a bespoke heavy metal font, but such paraphernalia should not distract us from Hilbert’s very high ambitions for his poetry. Individual poems can function in a similar manner to the book as a whole: distracted by his sometimes disheveled persona, you may want initially to compare this poet to someone like Bukowski, which is by no means a mean comparison to make, but I think that Hilbert writes very carefully to make himself heir to Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth and Wallace Stevens.” – Edward Clarke, author of The Spirit of Poetry

Caligulan available from Amazon, Amazon UK, Amazon FranceBarnes & Noble, Powell’sBooks a Million, Waterstones (UK), Amazon Spain, Tower BooksBook Depository, Russell Books (Canada), Booktopia (Australia), Adlibris (EU), Kraina Ksiazek (Poland), Readings (Australia), AlibrisBOL (Netherlands, Belgium), Fishpond (Australia), Adlibris (Finland), Percuma Penghantaran (Malaysia), Worderydirectly from the publisher, and in better bookstores (if it is not in stock, most booksellers can have it within a day or two on request).

 

Photograph by Niamh O'Connell, 2015

Photograph by Niamh O’Connell, 2015

 

“Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting)” Sung by Nat King Cole

By December 8, 2016 E-Verse Universe

 

Ernest Hilbert Reviews Donald Hall’s Selected Poems in the Hopkins Review

By December 7, 2016 Feature

Donald Hall, The Selected Poems of Donald Hall (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015) 160 pp.

“To write something as good as the poems that originally brought you to love the art. It’s the only sensible reason for writing poems,” Donald Hall declared in his early sixties in a Paris Review interview (he served as the magazine’s first poetry editor in the 1950s). Now in his eighties, Hall has assembled what he feels is his very best work in the newly published Selected Poems of Donald Hall. By his own reckoning, the new Selected is less than a third the length of its predecessor, White Apples and the Taste of Stone: Selected Poems 1946–2006 (indeed, the 2007 volume runs to a door-stopping 448 pages, bound with a compact disc of Hall reading the poems). The concision is worth noting, given that the vastly prolific Hall has published no fewer than twenty volumes of poetry, including two previous Selected volumes. The slender volume contains a mere 140 pages of poems, not many more than a typical debut collection of poetry. We can’t help but feel that much depends on this final selection, because, as Hall admits in the post scriptum, he will “make no more poems.” Hall chose not to include chapter headings, which would have indicated the books in which the poems originally appeared. This unfenced approach allows his selection to read seamlessly, like the book every young poet dreams of writing.

Selected and Collected poems can be structured in a number of ways. The Collected Poetry of W. H. Auden, published in 1945, was arranged in alphabetical order by first lines, placing “Musée des Beaux Arts” at the beginning with its opening line “About suffering they were never wrong” (some credit the poem’s popularity to this placement). Frederick Seidel’s massive Poems 1959–2009 runs in reverse chronological order from Evening Man (2008) back to his controversial first book, Final Solutions (1963). Hall’s ordering of earliest to most recent suits his brand of poetry, which maps the poet’s many personal observations and experiences, from the remarkable exuberance of youth to the toughened perceptions of age.

Read on at The Hopkins Review.

“Neighborhood Watch” by Dora Malech

By December 6, 2016 E-Verse Universe, Feature

My back porch looks out on an alley
into which a neighbor’s consumptive sump pump
coughs violently and sporadically at all hours.

Sometimes I pretend the alley’s leaves and litter
stand in for Pharoah’s army, rendering the effluence
a dramatic player in a Biblical tableau.

Sometimes I fancy the flow some misguided New Age appropriation,
a feng shui fountain—and at the north end of my home, no less—curative
imbuing elemental prosperity, blessing my “career and life path area.”

Sometimes taking the trash out in the dark quiet of a Monday night,
I screech and leap at the sudden gush, my reflexes puppeteering me,
B-movie heroine to the drain pipe’s poltergeist.

I seethe a little as I nod a greeting to my neighbor
on the rare occasions when he shuffles past, stepping
over his brown-green scum stream as he exits my scene stage left.

We engaged in the perfunctory name exchange when I moved in
years ago, but in disuse, those hinges between us rusted shut.
Mr. Whomever—I can’t remember. Perhaps I should consider

my stage left as his stage right, and in his theatre, the conflict is
my music, my laughter, my little dog’s loud demands, my penchant
for pantslessness and open windows on warm nights.

Can I call this a watershed and thus trace thoughts and follow
feelings sourceward? Try to imagine his basement,
how wet it must be to warrant such round-the-clock diligence.

Try to imagine our whole block is one leaky boat
and he’s the only one bailing, not standoffish
as he seems, but just immersed

in the thankless necessary work, only emerging on occasion
to take the air and remind himself that we’re worth saving,
though he’s the only one who seems to see the sea.

 

Dora Malech is the author of Say So (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2011) and Shore Ordered Ocean (Waywiser Press, 2009). Her poems appear in publications that include The New Yorker, Poetry, Tin House, and The Best American Poetry 2015 (Simon & Schuster, 2015). She has been the recipient of a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation and a Writers’ Fellowship at the Civitella Ranieri Center, and she has served as Distinguished Poet-in-Residence at Saint Mary’s College of California. She is a co-founder and former director of the arts engagement organization the Iowa Youth Writing Project. She is an assistant professor in The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University, where she recently received the 2016 Crenson-Hertz Award for Community Based Learning and Participatory Research. In 2017, she will be in residence at The Amy Clampitt House.

“Advent is the Season to Save” by G.M. Palmer

By December 6, 2016 E-Verse Universe

Driven by shattered, mapless fathers,
souls line strangled storefronts where crowds crowd
to fill coffers and coffins, seething.

Seeing nothing but crying children
whose parents hear with ears of stone,
salesmen turn money into magic.

Waiting under wet awnings for black cars,
brick mothers break lips that nurse and nip,
lonely work for tired, ragged hands.

 
 
G.M. Palmer lives with his wife and daughters on a poodle farm in North Florida.
His writing can be found through www.gmpalmer.com and is on Twitter @gm_palmer

Top Five Most Tasteless Holocaust-related Artistic Things

By December 5, 2016 E-Verse Universe, Feature

pokemon

5. Pokemon Go Auschwitz: There are Pokestops in Auschwitz. Just in case the whole genocide thing brings you down, you can take a break with some cute critters!

* * *

lego-libera

4. Holocaust-themed Lego: Here’s someone who made a movie about a concentration camp, with Lego! Then there’s the artist, Zbigniew Libera who entered a Lego contest by creating a Lego Concentration Camp (Konzentrationslager), complete with starving Lego figures, guard towers, and body parts. Some felt this was trivializing the Holocaust, but to be fair to the artist, he was making a statement, perhaps one that was critical of the trivialization or commercialization of the Holocaust. He has not elaborated so it’s not possible to say.

* * *

3. The Day the Clown Cried: This is an infamous film by Jerry Lewis about a Jewish clown who ends up imprisoned in a concentration camp, where he entertains children all the way until they are at the doors of the gas chambers. The film has never been screened, but is notoriously awful and a failure. Lewis agrees, which is why he has not shown it. Click here for more clips of the movie.

* * *

such-a-time

2. For Such a Time: A book by a Christian author named Kate Breslin about a romance between a Jewish resident of a concentration camp who falls in love with a guard and then converts to Christianity, the book was enthusiastically received by the evangelical Christian audience it was written for, but criticized by many Jews for its offensive cultural appropriation of both the Holocaust and the Biblical Story of Esther.

* * *

holocaust-themed

1. The wife of Vladimir Putin’s spokesman (Dmitry Peskov) is a gold-medal winning Olympic ice dancer named Tatiana Navka. She and her ice dancing partner just performed a Holocaust-themed figure skating spectacular: It . . . well . . . it doesn’t go well. It’s worth pointing out that Holocaust-themed figure skating has been done, and more tastefully, in the past. For example, Yulia Lipnitskaia performed at the Sochi Olympics to the theme from Schindler’s List, wearing a figure skating outfit designed to resemble the red coat worn by a doomed Jewish child in the film. In addition, German Katarina Witt danced in the 1994 Olympics to the theme from Schindler’s List (a year after the film came out), and the performance was praised by Stephen Spielberg. Both of those performances also had their critics.

Top Five Anti-Christmas Christmas Songs

By December 4, 2016 Feature, Top Five

5. “Last Christmas (I Gave You My Heart)” by Wham!

* * *

4. “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” by Dr. Elmo

3. “Christmas Song” by Jethro Tull

* * *

2. “Father Christmas” by The Kinks

* * *

1. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”: has there ever been a more passive-aggressive song? You tell ’em, Judy!

 

And, bonus, from German drinker-metal lords, Tankard, here’s . . . 

christmas

“Christmas in Hollis” by Run DMC

By December 3, 2016 Music Video

One of the great Christmas songs!

Ernest Hilbert with Dawn Manning and Luke Stromberg at the Pen and Pencil Club

By December 1, 2016 Feature

Since the birth of our son Ian in December, I haven’t managed to get out to do very many readings. In fact, I’ve only managed two, the Hoboken Historical Museum and Colorado College.

Well, I’m going to sneak out the evening of Sunday, December 4th to read with two excellent young poets, Dawn Manning and Luke Stromberg, at the famous Pen and Pencil Club in Philadelphia. I will read from my three books as well as some new material, written since the publication of Caligulan last year. I hope you’ll join us for a Sunday evening drink and some new Philadelphia poetry.

* * *

Poetry@P&P Presents
Ernest Hilbert, Dawn Manning, Luke Stromberg
Hosted by Bob Zell

Sunday, December 4 8-10PM
Pen & Pencil Club
1522 Latimer St
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19102
(215) 731-9909

Click here to visit the Facebook event page

* * *


lynn-and-ernie-1Ernest Hilbert’s
most recent collection is Caligulan (2015). He works as a rare book dealer in Philadelphia.

“Queen of the Demonweb Pits” by Ernest Hilbert, from Caligulan

The deal feels wrong. Feeling’s gone. Or has it?
Are you holding or are you holding out?
At this frantic hour, what can a word mean?
Would you stay so you can do one more hit
Or take the last bag, safe in your pocket,
To lock up back in your apartment unseen
And alone . . . no, you stay with those who can’t
Stop pacing and talking again and again through
The same stories—are they the same stories?—
Now that the heavy curtains won’t keep slants
Of aspiring light out, and the things you
Said are said by another, and worries
Snare your mind in a wire tangle of too quick
Thought quickly thought and quickly thought again,
Because left alone or leaving you will greet old fears.
So you stab at a smile but you’re getting sick,
Then an eerie half-sight—at dawn as a child
You woke and stepped out and took in—oh, years
Of buried embarrassments start to flow—
But no—there is the sunlight where you stepped,
Bright as a supernova on the new snow
Where you curled up in white so soft you slept.

* * *

luke-strombergLuke Stromberg’s work has appeared in The New Criterion, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Hopkins Review, Think Journal, and several other literary journals. He lives in Upper Darby, PA and works as an adjunct English instructor at Eastern University and La Salle University. Luke also serves as Associate Poetry editor for the culture blog E-Verse Radio.

“A Dedication” by Luke Stromberg, from Oddball Magazine

I am surrounded by women.
They talk amongst themselves, ignoring me.
A cocktail party is in progress:
Laughter, the clinking of glasses,
conversations blending into one steady drone.
A brunette gracefully wields an unlit cigarette
between two fingers, always
on the verge of lighting up,
and speaks excitedly about work.
In a chair on the other side of the room,
a black-eyed blonde crosses her legs:
Looks around, bored.
She sips from a flute of champagne.

Someone laughs shrilly. A drink is spilled.
The room fills up with fog.
The women become indistinct, a crowd
of chattering shadows.
The starlight is locked out.
I’m closed in.
I open my mouth to speak
and produce a sound like shattering glass.

You out there, in the night, somewhere,
maybe sitting in your car at a red light, alone,
turn on your radio—
You might hear my song.

* * *

dawn-manning-headshot-webDawn Manning is the author of Postcards from the Dead Letter Office. Her awards for poetry include the Beullah Rose Poetry Prize, the Edith Garlow Poetry Prize, and the San Miguel Writing Award. Her poems have been published through Crab Orchard Review, Silk Road Review, Smartish Pace, and other literary journals. In her spare time, she herds cats for a local animal rescue. When the stars align, she travels.

“Hit, Run” by Dawn Manning, from E-Verse Radio

The husk
of the orange tabby

seeps between the seams
of the earth a little each day,

a white picket
stuck down her throat to lob her

into the irrigation ditch,
stuck so deep it dislodged six half-circles

curled in her belly.
We keep vigil from our bicycles

as life scurries back into the cat,
ant by ant.

* * *

A word from the series host, Robert Zell:

The following is a bit lengthy and covers the questions I am frequently asked about the poetry readings.

The P & P is located at 1522 Latimer St. in Center City. Latimer is a side street running between Locust and Spruce; the club is situated between two parking facilities midway between 15th and 16th. It is easy to miss if you have never been here before (or you have been and consumed a few adult beverages), but there is a neon sign in the window that is lit when the club is open. The outer door is always open, but to gain admittance into the club, you must knock on the inside door to have someone let you in.

There is a camera that allows the bar tender to see you if you are waiting, but if he is serving customers or otherwise occupied, it may take a few minutes for him to get to the door. Occasionally, there will be someone else available to let you in (like myself or a doorman), but it is not given. In these situations, please be patient, and do not bang on the door, since someone may be speaking.

All poetry events are free of charge and take place on Sunday nights from approximately 8-10 PM. However, purchasing books and other merchandise from the poets is strongly encouraged. The club opens at 7 that night and the kitchen is closed, so you are welcome to bring outside food in with you. Please purchase your drinks at the bar though. Normally, smoking is allowed inside the P & P, but not during events. If you need to go outside to smoke, use the front door and bear in mind that each trip you make outside requires someone to open the door back up again.

Because the club is in Center City, free or metered parking is not always available nearby. Most of the spots closest to the club are two-hour parking zones. Just check that you read the signs and don’t expect to find a space immediately if you are planning to arrive at a certain time. Of course, you could always pay for parking or take public transit to avoid the hassle.

The website for the club is located at: http://www.penandpencil.org/

If you are interested in becoming a member of the club, please speak with the bar tender during your visit. We normally waive the membership requirement during poetry events, but if you want to return during regular business operations, we request that you purchase a membership.

The bar phone number is: 215-731-9909.

The open mic follows the featured readers. Generally speaking, each person signing up for a slot is allotted approximately 5 minutes to read from the moment they take the microphone. If it is very crowded, the time limit may be less. Please be courteous to others in attendance and finish speaking within this time frame (introductions to the poems are on the clock too). You are welcome to read any poems you like, even if they are not your own.

Frequently, the poetry readings are filmed and posted on YouTube. If you do not want to appear on camera and the Internet, please notify the host and he will ensure your privacy.

Top Five Dystopian Movies that Will Give You an Idea of What is to Come

By November 28, 2016 Feature

Obviously, the world won’t turn into these dystopias simply because Trump is president, but they’ll give you a taste of the issues we’ll be facing with him as president. And speaking of taste: all dystopias must have bad food, so I’m including that in the list.

* * *

5. Soylent Green (1973): Based on the 1966 novel Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison, this famous B-Movie takes place in the year 2022, when overpopulation and complete disregard for the natural environment have led to extreme pollution. The air is poisonous, the oceans are dying, many species have gone extinct, and the world cannot support its large population. A large gap between the rich and poor has resulted in numerous societal problems. The wealthy live in spacious apartments that come with all amenities, including personal sex slaves.

They eat luxurious fruits, vegetables, and meat, while the poor live in cramped hovels and are forced to subside on Soylent foods—Soylent Green, Soylent Red, etc. No one is quite sure what soylent consists of, but it’s supposed to be healthy and is provided by the state to the masses. Older or infirm people are encouraged to commit euthanasia. Charlton Heston plays a policeman investigating a murder, who goes on to investigate some of the secrets of the government. Evil food: “Soylent Green is people!!!”

* * *

4. Rain Without Thunder (1993): This American science fiction film is set in the year 2042. The title is based on a quote from Frederick Douglass: “Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without plowing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” I can’t find a trailer, though you can watch the movie on Amazon streaming. In it, abortion has been made effectively illegal in the US, even though Roe v. Wade was never overturned. Other laws are passed that impinge upon Roe v. Wade (kind of like the TRAP laws currently being passed fast and furiously across the country) that it became meaningless. Not only was it impossible to get an abortion, but you could now get a search warrant to do a gynecologic exam to see if a woman had recently undergone an abortion or pregnancy (which was a thing in Ceausescu’s Romania, and akin to TRAP laws in which the government forces pregnant women who want abortions to undergo an invasive and lengthy transvaginal ultrasound). And then imprisonment would result. In the film, a girl wants an abortion and her mother takes her to Europe to get one (which is also illegal for US citizens in the film, not unlike laws passed in Ireland against women going abroad for abortions). She ends up in prison, along with her mother, who broke the law by assisting her. Later, it is discovered that her fetus had died some weeks before the abortion, meaning she’d not had an abortion, and she was released). Evil food: in prison, you’re given drugged food that gives you headaches and makes you sleepy and may have other effects but since you don’t know what it is, you can’t say for certain.

* * *

3. The Running Man (book, 1982, movie, 1987): Based on a Stephen King novel (written as Richard Bachman), The Running Man takes place in a near-future Los Angeles in which poverty in the US is rampant and the government doesn’t care—they give the order to shoot hundreds of hungry people trying to get some food. This future government cares nothing for truth and is adept at creating propaganda to fashion the narrative they want to convey. The focus of citizens’ antagonisms is deflected onto their enjoyment of a TV show featuring a smarmy, lying game-show host. In the show, people convicted of crimes (possibly petty or non-existent, but exaggerated for sake of the show to monstrous proportions) are forced for people’s entertainment to run a gauntlet to evade executioners. If they escape, they are freed and win fabulous prizes. But it turns out the game is rigged, and no one gets out alive. Until our hero arrives, that is . . . .

Evil food: There’s no food. If you try to get food, you get shot by the evil government.

* * *

2. Blade Runner (1982): Ridley Scott’s masterful film adaptation of the 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick takes place in 2019 in Los Angeles. Some have said that some Trump ads remind them of Blade Runner, and someone made a mash-up ad:

The drama hinges on who gets to be defined as a person and who doesn’t. Evil food: Noodles. After this movie, all dystopian detectives had to eat noodles with chopsticks.

* * *

1. Snowpiercer (2013): The Korean film directed by directed by Bong Joon-ho and based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand and Jean-Marc Rochette takes place in a future in which global warming got out of control, so scientists created a way to cool the earth down again. But miscalculations led to the earth freezing over instead such that it has become uninhabitable. The only humanity that remains lives on an ever-moving train that runs in a loop around the world. The train is strictly segregated by class, with the upper classes living in luxury at the front of the train, while the lower classes are confined to the back of the train in cramped, squalid conditions. They are strictly controlled by those at the front of the train. Desperate conditions have led to atrocities. Meanwhile, those on the front of the train are oblivious to this. Some from the back decide to travel to the front of the train, where they experience a horrifying revelation.

Evil food: Those on the back of the train eat a gelatin-like food provided to them that is made of, shall we say, an unappetizing source that they don’t know about (it’s insects) and that they have to fight over. Also there’s cannibalism. Those at the front of the train have luxurious menus of all kinds of delicacies grown in the greenhouse cars.

* * *

Extra: Marge Piercy’s books Woman on the Edge of Time and He She It. Woman on the Edge of Time takes place in the early to mid-1970s and features a Latina main character who is treated badly due to racism and sexism and poverty. But it turns out she is a pivotal person in determining the course of the future of humanity—a decision of hers will result in either an egalitarian utopia or a dystopia that features a huge gulf between the rich and the poor. In that future, emotions can and must be controlled via dials that stimulate different areas of the brain. This leads to rapid changes in mood depending upon your rank in society and what your superiors need you to be for them at any given moment. It is common for the upper class men of the society to have at least one women they can use as a sex slave. It’s standard for her to undergo plastic surgery to grotesquely exaggerate certain features to the specifications of their man to make themselves as sexually appealing as possible to those men. This is just one chapter of the book, but it garnered so much attention that Piercy wrote a whole book taking place in a world much like that one, called He She It.

Woman on the Edge of Time is the better book.

Evil food: The main character can’t afford much so eats a monotonous diet.

Extra Extra!

V for Vendetta?I haven’t seen it so I can’t comment. But I don’t want you to think I forgot about it.

“Rural and Urban Welcome Signs” by Alexandra Kulik

By November 28, 2016 E-Verse Universe

 
Bile yellow pillow, belly coughing up;
dead deer glaring, rubber rolling down the side.

Poor man jiving, jingle jangle cup;
lusty black-eyed susans, looking for a ride.

 
 
Alexandra Kulik is a bag of multitudes living in suburban Chicagoland. She spends the better part of her time writing and walking aimlessly with her dog.

“Thanksgiving” by Kenneth Koch

By November 24, 2016 E-Verse Universe

What’s sweeter than at the end of a summer’s day
To suddenly drift away
From the green match-wrappers in an opened pocketbook
And be part of the boards in a tavern?

A tavern made of new wood.
There’s an orange-red sun in the sky
And a redskin is hunting for you underneath ladders of timber.
I will buy this tavern. Will you buy this tavern? I do.

In the Indian camp there’s an awful dismay.
Do they know us as we know they
Know us or will know us, I mean a—
I mean a hostile force, the month of May.

How whitely the springtime is blossoming,
Ugh! all around us!
It is the brilliant Indian time of year
When the sweetest Indians mate with the sweetest others.

But I fear the white men, I fear
The rent apple blossom and discarded feathers
And the scalp lying secretly on the ground
Like an unoffending nose!

But we’ve destroyed all that. With shocking guns.
Peter Stuyvesant, Johnny Appleseed, Aaron Copeland.
We’ve destroyed all that. Come,
Do you believe right was on either side?

How would you like to be living in an Indian America,
With feathers dressing every head? We’d eat buffalo hump
For Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone is in a tribe.
A girl from the Bep Tribe can’t marry a brave from the Bap tribe. Is that democracy?
And then those dreary evenings around the campfires
Listening to the Chief! If there were a New York
It would be a city of tents, and what do you suppose
Our art and poetry would be like? For the community! the tribe!
No beautiful modern abstract pictures, no mad incomprehensible
Free lovable poems! And our moral sense! tribal.
If you would like to be living in an Indian America
Why not subscribe to the newspaper, Indian America?

In Wisconsin, Ben, I stand, I walk up and down and try to decide.

Is this country getting any better or has it gotten?
If the Indian New York is bad, what about our white New York?
Dirty, unwholesome, the filthy appendage to a vast ammunition works, I hate it!
Disgusting rectangular garbage dump sending its fumes up to suffocate the sky—
Foo, what fumes! and the scaly white complexion of her citizens.
There’s hell in every firm handshake, and stifled rage in every look.
If you do find somewhere to lie down, it’s a dirty inspected corner,
And there are newspapers and forums and the stinking breath of Broadway
To investigate what it feels like to be a source of stench
And nothing else. And if one does go away,
It is always here, waiting, for one to come back. And one does come back,
As one does come back to the bathroom, and to a fine suffering.

Where else would I find such ardent and grateful spirits
Inspired and wasted and using and used by this horrible city,
New York, New York? Can the Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving dinner really compare to it?
And the Puritans? And the single-minded ankle-divided Indians?
No, nothing can compare to it! So it’s here we speak from the heart
And it’s rotting so fast that what we say
Fades like the last of a summer’s day.
Rot which makes us as prolific as the sun on white unfastened clouds.

 

kenneth koch

Top Five New Measurements for Judging Beauty

By November 20, 2016 Feature

I think we can all agree that most women are ignorant of the vital importance of being beautiful. Likewise, some key features of a woman’s body may very well avoid public scrutiny and therefore be uglified without the woman even knowing it! More worrisome still, owner of multiple beauty pageants and celebrated “modelizerDonald Trump is now leader of the free world! So we’ve all got to up our game.

Fortunately, some very dedicated humanitarians are on the job. They’re compiling lists of new ways that women can know that they’re ugly and/or fat! These scientific measurements represent the cutting edge of scientific inquiry. And as a public service, E-Verse Radio has compiled five of the most vital of these measurements so that our readers can be sure to never become complaisant.

***

5. Thigh Gap: The grandma of body measurements, this refers to women having a gap between their thighs when they’re standing with legs together, feet together. If you don’t have a gap, you’re fat fat fat!

By this measurement, Marilyn herself is hideous:

monroe

And this is beautiful (and totally not Photoshopped):

gap

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4. Bikini Bridge: When you lie down, this is the space that opens up between your tummy and your bikini because your bikini is being supported by your hip bones.

So, by this measurement, hideous:

hideous

And this is beautiful:

bikini-bridge-2

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3. Ab Crack: The crease on your abdomen midline.

Yuck:

lmb

Awesome:

beauty-trends-blogs-daily-beauty-reporter-em-rata-ab-crack

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2. A4 Waist Challenge: A4 is the standard size of paper used around the world for work and school, except for the US, where we use the 8-1/2 by 11. A4 is 8.27 x 11.69 inches. The waist challenge is when women hold up a piece of A4 paper in front of their waist, and their waist is smaller than the paper (in other words, from the front, shorter than 8.27 inches). So if you meet the challenge, then you’re literally paper thin! Ha!

Like so:
paper

Failures:

failure

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1. Finger Trap Test: This is when you take your finger and hold it vertically between your nose and your chin. If your finger touches your lips, then you past the test! A more complicated version of this test is used by plastic surgeons to assess if your proportions are “correct.” In other words, if your mouth sticks out or if you have a “weak” chin. This is called the Ricketts E-line. The hideous Audrey Hepburn fails the test, as do Emma Stone and Cary Grant.

***

Extras

Belly Button Test: reach your arm behind you and then around your waist towards your belly button. If you can touch your belly button, you win! Is the explanation confusing? Why is beauty so hard to understand!

Collarbone Challenge: Do your collar bones stick out enough that you can lay a roll of coins on top of them like your collar bones are a shelf?

coins

iphone 6 Legs: Can you lay an iPhone the long way in front of your knees? If the entire width of both knees is covered, you win! This is the regular iPhone, not the plus size (shudder).

50 RMB Wrist: Can you wrap a 50 RMB bill (15 cm) around your wrist so the two edges touch?

“Dream Song 256” by John Berryman

By November 18, 2016 Feature

Henry rested, possessed of many pills
& gin & whiskey. He put up his feet
& switched on Schubert.
His tranquility lasted five minutes
for (1) all that undone all the heavy weeks
and (2) images shook her alert.

A rainy Sunday morning, on vacation
as well as Fellowship, he could not rest:
bitterly he shook his head.
—Mr. Bones, the Lord will bring us to a nation
where everybody only rest.—I confess
that notion bores me dead,

for there’s no occupation there, save God,
if that, and long experience of His works
has not taught me his love.
His love must be a very strange thing indeed,
considering its products. No, I want rest here,
neither below nor above.

“Le Chat” by Charles Baudelaire

By November 15, 2016 E-Verse Universe

Viens, mon beau chat, sur mon cœur amoureux;
+++++++Retiens les griffes de ta patte,
Et laisse-moi plonger dans tes beaux yeux,
+++++++Mêlés de métal et d’agate.
Lorsque mes doigts caressent à loisir
+++++++Ta tête et ton dos élastique,
Et que ma main s’enivre du plaisir
+++++++De palper ton corps électrique,
Je vois ma femme en esprit. Son regard,
+++++++Comme le tien, aimable bête
Profond et froid, coupe et fend comme un dard,
+++++++Et, des pieds jusques à la tête,
Un air subtil, un dangereux parfum
+++++++Nagent autour de son corps brun.

“The Cat”

Come, play, fine cat, with my too amorous heart;
+++++++but let your paws conceal
those claws while I bathe in your molten eyes,
+++++++agate alloyed with steel.
And as my idle fingers gently stroke
+++++++your most elastic nape
and my besotted hand luxuriates
+++++++in your electric shape,
I see my love in spirit, and her glance,
+++++++like yours, compliant creature,
so deep and cold, cuts through me like a lance
+++++++while, charging every feature,
a subtle air, a dangerous scent of sin,
+++++++wafts from her dusky skin.

Translated by Jan Schreiber

“The Future” by Leonard Cohen (1934 – 2016)

By November 11, 2016 Feature

Give me back my broken night,
my mirrored room, my secret life.
It’s lonely here.
There’s no one left to torture.
Give me absolute control
over every living soul,
And lie beside me, baby,
that’s an order!

Give me crack and anal sex.
Take the only tree that’s left,
and stuff it up the hole
in your culture.

Give me back the Berlin wall
give me Stalin and St Paul
I’ve seen the future, brother:
it is murder.

Things are going to slide, slide in all directions.
Won’t be nothing,
Nothing you can measure anymore.
The blizzard, the blizzard of the world
has crossed the threshold,
and it has overturned
the order of the soul.

When they said repent
I wonder what they meant.

You don’t know me from the wind,
you never will, you never did.
I’m the little Jew
who wrote the Bible.

I’ve seen the nations rise and fall,
I’ve heard their stories, heard them all,
but love’s the only engine of survival.

Your servant here, he has been told
to say it clear, to say it cold:
It’s over, it ain’t going
any further.
And now the wheels of heaven stop,
you feel the devil’s riding crop,
Get ready for the future:
it is murder.

There’ll be the breaking of the ancient
western code.
Your private life will suddenly explode.
There’ll be phantoms,
There’ll be fires on the road,
and the white man dancing.

You’ll see a woman
hanging upside down,
her features covered by her fallen gown,
and all the lousy little poets
coming round
tryin’ to sound like Charlie Manson . . .
and the white man dancin’.

Give me back the Berlin wall.
Give me Stalin and St Paul.
Give me Christ
or give me Hiroshima.
Destroy another fetus now.
We don’t like children anyhow.
I’ve seen the future, baby:
it is murder.

 

 

 

“Jane Austen Strolls the Upper Rooms” by Marly Youmans

By November 11, 2016 E-Verse Universe

It is a wonder, is it not? Despite the moonshine gab
And clever chat of ladies and of gentlemen,
Despite the (so horrid!) risk of falling seven stories
From Society to hells of female ruin,
Despite the plots of rakes cock-sure in camblet and brocade
With gloves the perfect shade of springtime buttercups,
Despite bad harpsichords and awful crocheted reticules,
Despite a trollop child, despite a dried old maid,
Despite the secret by-blows, cads, and cobbled-up marriages,
Despite all barriers of elder silliness,
Now and then a lady and a gentleman are one,
As a slender leaf, say, and a flower are one.

 

Photo by R. B. Miller (2016)

Marly Youmans is the author of thirteen books of poetry and fiction. Her recent books of poetry include Thaliad and The Throne of Psyche. Recent novels are Maze of Blood, Glimmerglass, and A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage.

 

“Mars Ultor” by Ernest Hilbert

By November 10, 2016 Feature

Before they had a fleet
Romans rowed on logs
As they prepared to meet

Carthage. Treaties, public
Or secret, do little when
The border of the republic

Is breached without notice:
More tug of war
Than elegant chess.

Some ask: Is virtù virtue?
After reconciliation, consensus,
Appeasement, the coup.

Some rely on law,
But law relies on guns,
Or must withdraw.

Brutes push their way to power,
But the muddiest barbarian
Also wants the throne an hour,

And dons a crown, marks affairs,
Nods under a golden branch until
A stronger one turns up the stairs.

 

Original appearance in Academic Questions, Fall 2016, Volume 29, Number 3.

“Be Angry At The Sun” by Robinson Jeffers

By November 8, 2016 Feature, Poetry

That public men publish falsehoods
Is nothing new. That America must accept
Like the historical republics corruption and empire
Has been known for years.

Be angry at the sun for setting
If these things anger you. Watch the wheel slope and turn,
They are all bound on the wheel, these people, those warriors.
This republic, Europe, Asia.

Observe them gesticulating,
Observe them going down. The gang serves lies, the passionate
Man plays his part; the cold passion for truth
Hunts in no pack.

You are not Catullus, you know,
To lampoon these crude sketches of Caesar. You are far
From Dante’s feet, but even farther from his dirty
Political hatreds.

Let boys want pleasure, and men
Struggle for power, and women perhaps for fame,
And the servile to serve a Leader and the dupes to be duped.
Yours is not theirs.

 

 

Top Five Suggestions for a Mazel Tov Cocktail

By November 7, 2016 E-Verse Universe

So today (November 7, 2016), a Trump spokesperson referenced a Jay Z video, which she says features protesters throwing “Mazel Tov Cocktails” at police (instead of Molotov Cocktails). This is a delightful malapropism, but it leads us to wonder just what a “Mazel Tov Cocktail” might be. Do you have any ideas? Here are my top five. Please comment with your own.

* * *

mane

5. A glass of Manischewitz . . . on the rocks!

* * *

stoli

4. Stoli and prune juice?

* * *

3. Any cocktail, as long as you’re listening to Neil Diamond’s “Love on the Rocks” from the 1980 film The Jazz Singer while drinking it.

* * *

wedding-toast

2. A passive-aggressive wedding toast?

* * *

drugsblackberry

1. Your choice, Ernie! [Theresa chimed in with this: “A generous swig of Mogen David blackberry wine with a solid side of methamphetamine”]

Bethany’s Top Five Diseases Hillary Clinton has Been Accused of Having

By November 5, 2016 Feature

For many months now, the Trump camp, Sean Hannity, Fox News, the Drudge Report, and Alex Jones have been accusing Hillary Clinton of being gravely ill. They keep pointing to videos and photos but haven’t been able to pin her down as having anything in particular. Speculation has veered wildly, without anything definitive having been concluded. So what are these ailments?

***

5. Brain Damage from Concussion, including Post-concussion Syndrome: This includes Hannity working into conversations (without any evidence) that a Clinton aide is carrying a Diazepam pen. At first it’s speculation, but after a couple mentions, it’s talked about like it’s fact. Here’s the discussion.

***

4. Some Horrific Ailment that is Causing Her to Cough to Death: If you search for “Hillary coughing” on YouTube, you’ll come across a lot of videos of people obsessed with Hillary coughing, which her accusers are sure proves that she is on her deathbed.

***

3. Radiation Sickness Due to Exposure to the Nuclear Accident in Fukushima, Japan: I think Alex Jones is fueling this particular conspiracy theory. In particular, exposure to radiation can damage your thyroid gland. Clinton’s thyroid is underactive (common in women her age) and she takes thyroid hormones for it. From this has come the assertion that her thyroid was damaged during her visit to Fukushima as part of a larger narrative of masterminding a cover up of the Fukushima disaster and now she’s dying of it. (Note: March 11, 2011, there was an earthquake and tidal wave in Japan that damaged the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The crisis is ongoing).

***

2. Syphilis: Yes, her husband’s life of depravity and dissolution has led to him giving his wife untreated syphilis, from which she is currently dying.

***

1. Parkinson’s Disease and Dementia: Apparently, when Hillary speaks, certain people only hear some sort of monkey-like, unintelligible shrill shrieking rather than words and ideas. So basically, Clinton is on her deathbed, according to these guys.

“Canoeing” and “Georgic” by Dara Mandle

By November 3, 2016 Feature

“Canoeing”

We patch the gunwales, rain-rotted,
with tape, and test the cane seats.

I fasten my vest, handing you the one
for guests. You glance at the hammock

and bench, at the path to the house
we grew up in, which you left.

I wish I knew your plan.
We never fought. Even now

we work as a team, as if no time
has passed: you take the stern

and steer, I paddle at the bow.
Out of sight of the dock, we settle

with the wind and stop. I watch
a spider cross the thwart.

There’s the beach we swam each summer.
There’s the island we discovered,

collecting rocks and burying worms
in cups we set on the kitchen sill.

Don’t you miss this?
What do you think of us?

I’ve asked before, no need to voice it
anymore. We stow our oars

and let the light waves bear us.
We don’t speak of shore.

* * *

“Georgic”

Trash the yellow bales and fat tomatoes
you tore through until you couldn’t move.

Shred the ground and refresh
the patch you reaped too soon,

drunk on sun and easy wind and corn
sugar sucked from stalks. Distill the mash

before first frost. Harrow and smooth
for seeds. This is bread and butter season.

 

Dara Mandle earned her BA in English from Yale, where she was awarded the Clapp Poetry Prize, and her MFA in poetry from Columbia. Her poems have appeared in Brooklyn Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, and Harpur Palate, among other journals. Her collaborative chapbook of poems with artist Brece Honeycutt, Tobacco Hour, in which both of these poems first appeared, was published in 2015. She maintains a blog of her work at www.daramandle.com.

Top Five Ways Trump Has Been Influenced by Conspiracy Theorist Alex Jones

By November 2, 2016 Feature

Alex Jones is an increasingly successful conspiracy theorist with his own media empire. He’s the one saying that Sandy Hook was faked using child “crisis actors.” He’s the one behind the stories of FEMA camps, and he’s the one (well, the latest one) promoting stories of a Jewish mafia of international bankers taking over the world (a very old conspiracy theory). Here’s the problem. Donald Trump, who is now a presidential candidate, actually listens to Jones and takes him seriously.

He was introduced to Jones by Roger Stone, a Trump adviser (and law partner of Paul Manafort, who was briefly Trump’s campaign leader). Stone is also friends with Jones. So while Trump has never publicly confirmed that he listens to or is being guided by Jones, he has said a number of things that are very obviously coming straight from Jones.

***

5. Lock her up/Hillary for Jail: These slogans originate with Jones, though they’ve since been picked up by other Trump followers and are repeated ad nauseum at Trump rallies.

***

4. Hillary is Sick: Jones had for months been saying that Hillary Clinton was gravely ill, likely with radiation sickness from visiting Fukushima in Japan, the nuclear reactor that was damaged in the earthquake of 3/11/11.

***

3. There is no drought in California: There’s plenty of water, but the democrats are emptying all the fresh water into the sea to help some endangered fish. Trump went with this very specific, and wrong, story when he was campaigning in California. It originates with Jones.

***

2. Ever the conspiracy theorist, Jones thinks everything that doesn’t go his way is a conspiracy: Thus he started early on emphasizing that if Trump doesn’t win, it’s due to a conspiracy.

***

1. Voter fraud and rigged election narratives: Both stem from Jones, and Trump has been very vocal about them.

***

Extra: In a recent Florida survey, 84 percent of Trump voters said that Mrs. Clinton should be in prison, and 40 percent said she was a demon. It’s Jones who is pushing both stories . . . yes, that Hillary (and Obama) are actually demons.

This list owes a debt to Jon Ronson’s article, “The Elephant in the Room.” Ronson became friends with Jones in 1999 when Ronson was writing a book about conspiracy theorists, and Ronson then invited Jones with him to infiltrate The Bohemian Grove. Jones made that adventure into a documentary which played a significant role in catapulting him into the public eye, soon followed by him becoming vital to 9/11 trutherism.

Top Five Ways the 2016 Presidential Election is all about Penises

By November 1, 2016 Feature

This election is a departure from our usual expectations in many ways. There’s never been one quite like it. But what really makes it stand out? In other elections, we haven’t had to talk about penises even once. Not once. In this election, we find ourselves talking about penises all the freaking time! And not just one penis—many penises! Let us count the ways!

***

spy-trump

5. Trump’s Penis (and Hands): Back in the ‘80s, the brilliant, satirical Spy Magazine made it its mission to ridicule Donald Trump. Sadly, the magazine was ahead of its time and lasted only from 1986 – 1998 (want to read it? It’s all here. Check out vintage Trump mockery). But it lives on in the current running joke about Trump having tiny hands. Spy often gave its targets epithets (e.g. “bosomy dirty-book writer,” “socialite war criminal”), and in Trump’s case, he was “the short-fingered vulgarian,” and every article on him (and there was at least one mention per issue) used it. The sobriquet would have died along with Spy, were it not that Trump couldn’t ever let the issue go. Spy editor-in-chief Graydon Carter is now editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair, and he has said that to this day he periodically receives envelopes from Trump with photos of Trump, hands circled in gold Sharpie, with a note from Trump emphasizing the length of his fingers. Then, during the election, Marco Rubio brought it up (Rubio, showing his typical lack of interest in facts, said Trump had small hands, rather than short fingers).

And Trump—as with beauty queen insults, harassment of gold star families, and the cuckolding of Robert Pattinson by Kristin Stewart—simply could not let it go. Yes, Trump felt the need to defend his penis size from these allegations of tiny-handedness, besmirching the otherwise entirely dignified presidential debates with a defense of his penis size. Trump doesn’t give a shit about fact-checking though, and in this case, we can be grateful, because that’s not a fact anyone else wanted more details on.

***

gore

4. Trump’s Penis Again: Artist Illma Gore painted a naked full-length portrait of Trump that went viral. It features some pretty large hands and long fingers, but a pretty tiny “Trump Tower” and virtually no Trump berries. Read more here. Later, other artists created life-size Trump statues modeled after the painting.

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NEW YORK, NY - JULY 26: Anthony Weiner, a leading candidate for New York City mayor, pauses while speaking with reporters in Staten Island on a visit to homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy on July 26, 2013 in New York City. It was recently revealed that Weiner engaged in lewd online conversations with a woman after he resigned from Congress for similar previous incidents. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

3. Anthony Weiner’s Penis: I wrote this Top Five many weeks ago, but had to edit it this weekend because of Anthony Weiner’s 11th-hour entry. 11 days before the presidential election, as part of an FBI investigation into Anthony Weiner’s dick pics the FBI announced they had found some emails that might relate to Hillary Clinton in some way, though she neither sent nor received the emails, so whatever. Anthony Weiner’s dick is like the interrupting cow of the knock knock joke.

***

clinton

2. Bill Clinton’s Penis: Popular shirt at Trump rallies: “Hillary sucks but not like Monica.” Also, Trump’s continued efforts to introduce Bill Clinton’s penis and where it’s been into the presidential debates.

***

hillary

1. Hillary’s Lack of One: Wouldn’t you know that the first election that features a major female candidate would become all about the penis and how she doesn’t have one?

***

pussies

Extra: Not only is this the first election to prominently feature penises, it’s also the first election to prominently feature pussies, and I guess that could be predicted. This is of course most prominent in Trump’s assertion that he would grab women by the pussy (never mind the exact quote. I don’t want to Google that, not even for fact-checking purposes).

“A Vampire in the Age of AIDS” by Frederick Seidel

By October 31, 2016 E-Verse Universe

He moves carefully away from the extremely small pieces
Of human beings spread around for miles, still in his leather seat.
He looks like a hunchback walking in the Concorde chair,
Bent over, strapped in, eyes on the ground
To avoid stepping on the soft.
He will use his influence to get
The cockpit voice recorder when it is recovered copied.
He loves the pilot in the last ninety seconds’
Matter-of-factness turning into weeping screams,
Undead in the double-breasted red velvet smoking jacket Huntsman made.

Top Five Indications that Donald Trump is a Vampire

By October 28, 2016 Feature

Well, it’s Halloween and almost election day here in the US. Hard to know which presents the scarier prospect. In fact, what if the two are directly related this time? What if Donald Trump is, in fact, a vampire? Here are some clues that might just lead a modern-day Jonathan Harker to that unsettling conclusion.

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twilight

5. During the Kristen Stewart/Robert Pattinson (stars of the Twilight vampire movies) breakup, Donald Trump unsurprisingly took the vampire’s side. Also, it’s kind of scary he had a strong opinion about Kristin Stewart and Robert Pattinson’s relationship in the first place, don’t you think?

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3am-tweet

4. He’s up all night, every night, Tweeting, right? Every night. Like, 3AM and 4AM crazy Tweets. He does not sleep at night! There are only three reasons why people are up all night, every night—they have night jobs, they’re having sex, or they’re vampires.

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3. Weird loud breathing during the debate was to cover up the fact that he doesn’t actually need to breathe at all, being undead, so he had to do it self-consciously in a way that seems entirely unnatural to those of us who do, in fact, need to breathe to live.

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ap-pageant

2. Like Elizabeth Bathory (also rumored to be a vampire), who bathed in the blood of virgins, he must surround himself with young, beautiful women so he can imbibe their vitality and live forever.

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trump-orange-hair

1. In order to disguise his deathly white vampire skin, he overdoes it on the bottle bronzer, leaving him an odd, deep shade of orange.

“Series of Dreams” by Bob Dylan

By October 17, 2016 E-Verse Universe, Feature

Bob Dylan has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” The U.S. presidential election has already inspired an extra amount of contention this year, but this turn of events gives it a run for its money! Lovers of literature are very divided.

We here at E-Verse have mixed feeling about Dylan being awarded the prize. While we are great admirers of the Bard of Hibbing, we do have some misgivings about the appropriateness of him receiving such an honor. I am a bit more inclined to celebrate the choice than Ernie (he is a lover of Dylan’s music and listens to it almost daily, but his sense of the importance of song in literature, based in part on his reading of H.J. Kirby-Smith’s The Celestial Twins: Poetry and Music Through the Ages, differs from that of most of Dylan’s defenders), but we both agree that the decision raises fascinating yet also somewhat troubling questions about how literature will be defined in the future. There are also the purely political implications of the prize, which could be seen (granted, somewhat cynically) as the Swedish Academy’s way of declaring against Trump and for a different kind of American, and a different view of America.

Are songs a branch of literature? They appear in Shakespeare’s plays, for instance, but The Bard’s song lyrics, taken by themselves, pale when placed beside the soliloquies and sonnets (which were not intended to be sung, unlike the earliest sonnets in the Italian tradition). We’ll let you decide. Meanwhile, let’s enjoy some Dylan.

I was thinking of a series of dreams
Where nothing comes up to the top
Everything stays down where it’s wounded
And comes to a permanent stop
Wasn’t thinking of anything specific
Like in a dream when someone wakes up and screams
Nothing too very scientific
Just thinking of a series of dreams

Thinking of a series of dreams
Where the time and the tempo drag
And there’s no exit in any direction
’Cept the one that you can’t see with your eyes
Wasn’t making any great connection
Wasn’t falling for any intricate scheme
Nothing that would pass inspection
I was just thinking of a series of dreams

Dreams where the umbrella is folded
And into the path you are hurled
And the cards are no good that you’re holding
Unless they’re from another world

In one, the surface was frozen
In another, I witnessed a crime
In one, I was running, and in another
All I seemed to be doing was climb
Wasn’t looking for any special assistance
Nor going through any great extremes
I’d already gone the distance
I was just thinking of a series of dreams

Dreams where the umbrella is folded
And into the path you are hurled
And the cards are no good that you’re holding
Unless they’re from another world

I’d already gone the distance
I was just thinking of a series of dreams . . .

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Extra!

When most people talk about Dylan, they focus on his work from the 60s and 70s. And that makes sense. His mid-60s albums, in particular, are brilliant. But he produced great work throughout his whole career. I put together this Spotify playlist of my top 20 post-1980 Dylan songs.