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Archive for August, 2012


Tuesday, August 28th, 2012



for Peter Zimmels

Republicans: You’re poor because
you’re ignorant of all the laws
our Congress passed to cut the costs
of schooling children who get tossed,
nay, dumped upon society.
While we do view with piety
the right to life, we draw the line.
Clean up your act. To woo or wine
the loser class does not make sense.
Let’s get this straight. We never winced
at taking public time to quarrel
with victims, thugs, the huge immoral
segment of the population
in our great, God-blessed, rich, free nation.

The Democrats: There was a time
the GOP and all its crime
got barely covered by the news,
which only aired our sins and blues.
What have they done for you, my friends?
Is making do or making ends
meet any measure of success?
We back the same Big Business mess
they do, but when we tighten your belt

we dig up Franklin Roosevelt.
We’ve given you prosperity
without their stark severity.
The only thing we have to fear?—
Republicans. Now, is that clear?

A Citizen: More parties, please,
more Sundays in democracies!
Each party dances, each side sings
;?one great Big Bird with two right wings.
They’ll boogie with you in the streets,
then drag you down to dark defeats.
Democracy? Look at our heroes:
CEO’s billions, labor’s zeroes—
pure DNA, unspliced and spliced.
If you think oil is over-priced,
consider what we’re going to pay
for giving frequencies away —
the broadcast band. I say let’s vote.
Let’s kick some butt, let’s rock some boat.

© 2001, 2007. 2012 Al Young


When firms pay CEOs more than Uncle Sam,
the tax system is broken

Corporations lobbied hard for their tax breaks and loopholes — which they enjoy at other taxpayers’ expense. It’s time for reforms.

© Munshi Ahmed /  Bloomberg
Citigroup Chief Executive Vikram Pandit raked in $14.9 million last year while his company received a $144-million tax refund.

By David Lazarus
Los Angeles Times | Business
August 28, 2012

Twenty-five of the 100 highest-paid U.S. chief executives pocketed more in pay last year than their companies paid in federal income taxes.

I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of stat that really gets my bacon sizzling — yet more evidence of how the 1% live in a bizarro parallel universe where the normal rules don’t apply …

Go to the L.A. Times original

© 2012 L.A.


HERE I THROW DOWN MY HEART | Poems by Colleen J. McElroy (New from Pitt Poetry Series)

Friday, August 24th, 2012

  Colleen J. McElroy reads at City of Asylum, Pittsburgh


Available October 2012

Colleen J. McElroy

Photo: Ingrid Pape-Sheldon

Cover design: Alma Thomas | Courtesy of the Hirshhorn Museum

© University of Pittsburgh Press

Here I Throw Down My Heart offers a view of twenty-first century boundaries where home can be as transitory as the weather, and continuously alters our perceptions of our bodies, the planet, and the spaces we inhabit. The poems in Here I Throw Down My Heart prompt readers to see beyond the surface of images, whether that surface is a uniform, a prescribed setting, a familiar geography, or the surface that evokes the most social commentary, skin—the body itself. The modern world moves at a greater speed than the world of a few generations ago, so we look for ways to sort our likes and dislikes, to set our comfort zones. These poems say: “don’t believe everything you see, look again.” The poems look at how borders between countries, or between genders and class have deepened the lines between the haves and have-nots. While everyone is on a collision course for lack of food and water, those dividing lines seem more impenetrable than ever, underscoring the disparity between gender, race, and class.

Praise for Here I Throw Down My Heart

“‘We will cross where the borders are porous.’ In McElroy’s Here I Throw Down My Heart, meaning beats a tattoo in four distinct chambers, adding up, magically, to pure connection. Slavery’s echo in modern times, what it means to be a woman in battle, hunger and greed, and a paradise up for grabs . . . ‘if our purse is fat enough. ’ These are significant poems that address our complex human condition, in language that illuminates with frankness and beauty.”
—Katherine Hastings

“McElroy’s voice remains—even if blues tired—ultimately as smart-mouthed and straightforward as ever. This is a broad cut swath of a book. It lays wide open a lot of our complacencies.”
—Charles Roberson

Here I Throw Down My Heart is amazing. . . . I’m especially drawn to the [women] warrior poems. That series is magnificent in its tearless awfulness with that note of sweet, appalled regret at the end.”
—Valerie Trueblood

“The always smart and effective poetry of Colleen McElroy becomes seductive in Here I Throw Down My Heart. On topics from marriage to the military to ageing, McElroy’s poems are film noir voodoo magic.”
—Diane Wakoski

Praise for McElroy’s earlier work

“Each place lives a thriving and illuminated existence through McElroy’s mastery of language. This mastery is evident not only in the literary aspects of the poems, but also in the music sounding behind the language.”
—Genevieve Lebaron

Sleeping with the Moon is a voyage, a map of images that captures what we humans do to survive with grace. The revelations unfold one after the other, enlarging this needful journey, each poem caught in its profound imagery and poignant singing, until we become suspended in a music that enlightens.”
—Yusef Komunyakaa

About the Author

Colleen J. McElroy is professor emeritus of English and creative writing at the University of Washington. She is the former editor in chief of the literary magazine Seattle Review and has published nine poetry collections, most recently Sleeping with the Moon, for which she received a 2008 PEN/Oakland National Literary Award. Her latest collections of creative nonfiction include A Long Way from St. Louie and Over the Lip of the World: Among the Storytellers of Madagascar, which was a finalist in the 2000 PEN USA Research-based Creative Nonfiction category. She has received the Before Columbus American Book Award, two Fulbright Research Fellowships, two NEA Fellowships (in both fiction and poetry), a DuPont Visiting Scholar Fellowship, and a Rockefeller Fellowship.

Order directly from University of Pittsburgh Press

Pitt Poetry Series



Friday, August 3rd, 2012


from KQED-FM San Francisco

Courtesy Bureau of Land Management


The scents of summer, once so moist and vast,
now scorch your nose. O how your pricked eyes water!
This fire’s going to last and last and last
until your in-laws, wife, two sons and daughter
collapse among the Pepsis, Cokes and chips.
The makeshift rescue center, where you’ve learned
some distant neighbors’ names from their own lips,
fills still with losers just like you. Hurt. Burnt.

 A dry La Niña winter, snow-melt, drought
(July: Colfax, June: Colorado Springs,
New Mexico) let heated winds strike out
across your parchment landscape with a zing
that flared up like a sulphurous safety match.
But here’s the catch: Can this mean climate change
is real? Do savvy Californians watch
what happened back in 2009, the range
of wildfires: Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz
(their so-called Lockheed Fire), the Station Fire
near L.A.? Half a million square miles. News.
You sweat. Your wife and family, they perspire.

Août, août, août, août! – August, moaned in French,
needs no translation. You can smell and feel
the fall and peel of summer. Inch by inch
you sink into this smoky state. You reel.
You suddenly realize what really counts:
You’re still alive. Don’t underestimate
again how unseen danger creeps and mounts.

Ooo, ooo, ooo, ooo – August stops you at its gate!

— Al Young
© 2012



‘The California Report’ Poems 2012


GORE VIDAL | October 3, 1925 – July 31, 2012

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012


Courtesy photo

“There is something about a bureaucrat that does not like a poem.”
— Gore Vidal

A Gore Vidal Bibliography


60 Rewind


To some, Gore Vidal will be remembered as a superlative writer, essayist, playwright and critic, but to others, he will be known as “an intellectual vaudevillian.”

That’s how Mike Wallace put it back in 1975 after interviewing Vidal for a provocative 60 Minutes profile. The piece is Wallace and Vidal at their best, going head to head on everything from sex to politics to celebrity.

Wallace and the 60 Minutes crew followed Vidal for several weeks, trailing him at parties, at home in Italy, and on the lecture circuit in the United States. The profile, which aired on July 27, 1975, begins in Rome at Vidal’s penthouse apartment, a salon for an assortment of aristocrats, artists, film stars, politicians, and writers. True to form, Vidal is overheard gossiping about literary rival Norman Mailer in the opening shot: “Mailer, I think, is absolutely an atrocious personality … “




NPR’s ‘Fresh Air’ remembers writer and critic Gore Vidal
(Excerpts from two historic Terry Gross interviews)

In Gore Vidal’s New York Times obituary, Charles McGrath described the writer as “the elegant, acerbic all around man of letters who presided with a certain relish over what he declared to be the end of American civilization.” Vidal died Tuesday at the age of 86.

Some of the books Vidal became best known for were historical novels including Burr and Lincoln. As Reed Johnson wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “Vidal’s revisionist outlook struck some critics as brilliant and others as almost gleefully perverse.”   >>>MORE>>>