bear creek haiku

spring tides rising

splake’s tales

     the upper peninsula season of “long white” has finally released its arctic grip and spring has arrived and is presently settling into the keweenaw far northlands.

     it has been a time of considerable publishing success for this graybeard poet.  recently i had a poem published in ‘glimpse,” a canadian magazine.  in addition, “bear creek haiku” in colorado had four splake poems.  the spring issue of “trajectory” contained four splake black-and-white photographs and a review of my recent book “depot.”  february, march, and april “brevities” editions contained a total of sixteen splake poems.

     also, “iconoclast” 116 published two pages of splake haiku-type poems and its editor, phil wagner, wrote an excellent review of my presa press book, “winter river flowing.”

     in may, the nationally acclaimed “beat” literary journal, edited by wisconsin writer robert zoschke was released.  in the new edition there were forty-one splake photographs and eleven splake poems.  my “cliffs” photo of the poet tree shared the inside cover honors with a poem by the famous lawrence ferlinghetti.

     a comment about coming events – to be listed in the next splake site takes – in june the new UP READER will be published with several splake poems.  also, the editor of a new asian publication, “ethos literary journal,” has accepted four splake poems for its inaugural issue.  finally, ed gray (jikiwe), a calumet potter of national recognition, is finishing a clay booklet containing several splake short poems.

“bear creek haiku”

red tibetan prayer flag
floating on creek currents
poet’s creative bloodline

“brevities” (february)

brevFeb.jpg

kite without string
floating away
lost somewhere in clouds

“brevities” (march)

BrevMarch

econoline van
horses running forever
turning miles in heaven

“brevities” (april)

BrevApril.jpg

barefoot girl
passionate eyes flashing
touch me touch me

“iconoclast” 116

“winter river flowing”
selected poems 1979-2014
t. kilgore splake

 mr. splake (aka tom smith) came to his vocation relatively late in life.  his calling coming in a moment of satori in the wilderness (which he has always used as a palliative and an inspiration).  he came of age in the thick of the postwar peak of american consumerism and conformity, a society that informed the rebelliousness in his heart against false notions of success, duplicity.  much of his early work is long, descriptive, narrative streams of consciousness.  there’s the road trip from michigan to maine (“journey to climb a mountain”), tales of “the trophy room,” a year of colorful drunken escapes while getting his masters (the “t room alky squad regulars” marching in disheveled formation around the block); three marriages, five (i think) children, countless one-night stands and short relationships – all taking place through endless gallons of booze, cheap cigars – and madness.  thank god for the leavening power of nature.  in short: hemingway meets kerouac.

but poetry gives shape and meaning to the quest.  the poet chooses what needs to be recaptured, remembered, noticed; what needs to be excoriated.  going home.  mr. splake’s poem’s become more compressed, impressionistic.  one word signifies an entier scene – the glint of light off a trout in an icy stream.  the poet’s rebellion against a shallow, money-grubbing world must lead to solitude.  if lucky, a home is found (in this case a michigan upper peninsula small town).  self-sufficiency is attained.  the work is what matters.  holding moloch and other demons at bay.

review by phil wagner

“clutch”

splake poems

deeper consciousness
late night storm
crossing superior
driving rain
bending pines
old chair
brautigan creek
guttural noises
yellow eyes
shining in darkness
hot blood scent
poet cleansed
vision restored
thunder lightning
moving east
solitary artist
moving beyond

# # # #

young girl leaving poems
writer’s cemetery stone
proof life worth it

# # # #

keep the motor running

escaping midwest
wheat and corn fields
vanishing in rearview mirror
pistons slapping
noisy tappets clicking
vintage transmission
turning highway miles
dreaming of new life
finding happiness
new woman to love
some place out west
pod buried in ear
“radar love”
ricocheting inside brain

# # # #

 

a taste of spring

while marking x’s on the march calendar squares the keweenaw peninsula has recently enjoyed a few premature moments of spring. we have had days with a warm bright sun burning a hole through a deep blue sky, while the wild birds have been trilling their poor hearts dry.

also just as pleasing has been the completion of three new collections of splake poetry. one book “lost dreams” was published by transcendent-zero-press in houston, texas. other new chapbook titles includes “entropy” produced by gage press in battle creek, michigan, and “world for myself” printed by presa press in rockford, michigan.

on the small press literary scene i recently had four poems getting ink and space in “ristau: a journal of being” from louisville, kentucky. editor p.l. wick of empire, colorado used several splake poems in his “cheapseats ticket to ride” and “alley-kats” publications. finally, “bear creek haiku” issue 141 produced in longmont, colorado had three splake poems.

IMG_20180303_201456551_BURST000_COVER

“lost dreams”

 

licking wet leaves

delicious morning dew

like emily drunk on air

# # # #

life deafening explosion

jackson pollock t-shirt

red splattered art

# # # #

tornado yellow sky

calm before storm

poet’s first word

# # # #

poet’s ashes scattered

light wilderness breeze

sky taking him home

# # # #

IMG_20180303_201522159_BURST000_COVER

“entropy”

 

passing

 

first dawn light

erasing cliffs shadows

filtering through foliage

small forest clearing

brautigan creek retreat

distant birdsongs

blending with watery ripples

empty jack daniels fifth

providing bardic courage

beside brother brautigan’s

“trout fishing in america”

creative words of wisdom

resting on

soft pine needle carpet

sudden explosion

interrupting morning calm

maybe distant hunter

adding another trophy

knotty pine basement den

while poet’s ghost

joins underwater panther

together swimming

to place beyond time

# # # #

 

 

deeper consciousness

 

late night storm

blowing off superior

driving rain

winds bending pines

graying poet

sitting in old chair

beside brautigan creek

listening to strange whispers

yellow eyes

shining in darkness

owl or wolf

chasing hot blood scent

writer cleansing mind

restoring creative vision

explosion of thunder

lightning flashes

slowly moving east

soon sky clear

solitary artist

waiting falling star

fiery blaze

illuminating black horizon

bringing new meaning

moving beyond words

# # # #

IMG_20180303_201425345

“world for myself”

 

seeking

 

graying wordsmith’s life

running out of time

poet realizing

wasting his life

unless constantly writing

reclusive artist

avoiding unnecessary praise

graduate professor’s approval

reading audience’s applause

precious book review   words

instead of pushcart fame

becoming upper peninsula

poet laureate celebrity

pretending like Lindbergh

deciding to fly on

instead of landing

le bourget field

steady continuous journey

facing each morning

challenge of blank page

# # # #

 

IMG_20180303_201632411

“ristau: a journal of being”

 

you don’t understand

 

tired bitter voice

asking familiar question

about finishing book

frustrated author’s reply

you think it’s easy

wrestling plot and characters

finding new literary twist

story is started

and now i

# # # #

 

“allykat’s fish-wrap”

 

feeling a poem

 

just relax

long deep breaths

forget your job

all your schooling

posturing professors

“ibids” and “op cits”

close your eyes

keep quiet

look inside

long dark shadows

brain-skull cavity

imagine edith piaf

barefoot in the rain

softly singing

another sad song

# # # #

 

 

“bear creek haiku”

 

poet ashes scattered

remote stream waters

feeding rainbow souls

# # # #

soft pine needle bed

gentle trout stream lilies

soaring butterfly freedom

# # # #

 

more splake poems and photogs

recently i have enjoyed success in getting both poems and photographs published in significant small press journals.

george wallace wrote an excellent review of my presa press book “winter river flowing” in the pedestal magazine.  wallace’s remarks are important for the serious splake reader.

 

cover for winter river flowing published by presa press

cover for winter river flowing, published by presa press, reviewed by the pedestal’s george wallace

t. kilgore splake
winter river flowing: selected poems 1979-2014
Presa Press
ISBN: 978-0-9888279-6-7

Reviewer: George Wallace

For lovers of American poetry that flourishes under the radar, wandering through the slow, steady experience of recollecting the past with poet t. kilgore splake will be an experience of ineluctable delight.

In single poems that have basked in the underground, splake offers captivating memory-pieces characterized by fleeting, impressionistic brushstrokes that mount and layer with an inexorable and satisfying sense of inevitability.

To be short, splake writes like a “lonely lake superior lighthouse keeper with time to muse and write”—and asks of his readers that they slow down and listen with the same level of commitment and patience.

Yes, the tales are sometimes told in a disjointed, incomplete way; sufficient to reignite the author’s memory, no doubt, and often capable of rewarding the reader’s faith that, at any moment in the seemingly endless litany of fragmented memory, a golden nugget may emerge.

It requires a certain frame of mind, of course; the ability to take a deep breath, take it in slowly, to fully savor the steady pace of a storyteller with all the time in the world on his hands.

One approaches a splake poem with wonder and anticipation—wait and listen, through the aggregation, for that special moment which will claim the attention.

As much as that may be a challenge for the modern reader when simply confronted with a single splake poem, how will the fast-paced 21st century American make the time to listen to this marvelous voice for a full 150 pages?

For those who can, the rewards are plentiful. There is an incantatory sweep to the author’s voice which invites the splake-savvy reader to trance out with the speaker, go with the flow—mesmerized, as if by a stranger’s monologue in a dusty Upper Peninsula bar, dust motes dancing against the sun-spattered windowpane as the rest of the patrons hunch heavy-shouldered over beer.

splake is an “endless sentence” poet, with a twist. There’s a regularity of rhythmic shorthand that runs consistently through the body of work, an accretion of short sentence fragments that offer snapshot glimpses into a “continuous past” where the present is not only present, but unshakeable.

Still, that’s a Kerouac trope, and the author tips his hand to the beat author in the epigraph to “trout dancing sonata” (2012): july 1947, sal paradise leaving new York with a few veteran benefit dollars, crazy long-hair hipster, dawn of jazz america, following the purity of “on the road” to denver, visiting larimer gang, old colfax bars and poolhalls with dean…”

splake is all-in with Kerouac, it seems; he’s picked up Jack’s old stylistic baton and run with it, dropping articles with abandon and, more importantly, putting down brushstroke after brushstroke of truncated noun phrases and verb phrases that start with –ing.

The opening lines to “far northern dream” (2012) are characteristic:

late afternoon
long quiet pause
january thaw
warm chinook winds
melting long white drifts
graying poet
finishing new verse
surprising words
“suddenly summer old age”
hard to imagine
years rapidly passing

splake’s true to this stylistic approach throughout the 35 years’ worth of poems covered in the book. Turn to almost any page and you’ll find poems that are detailed, minute remembrances reminiscent of Proust, yet yielding—also in Proustian fashion—to the inexorable parade of imagery and moments.

For all the sense that, across the pages, we’re dealing with the writings of a middle-aged man, there is a wilderness-loving, hard-drinking rawness, and immediacy to the early poems which is fundamentally unlike what splake offers us in later poems.

In the early poems, he’s prone to rev up his engine in fine fashion, an angler gripped with fisherman’s fever, going on“tunnel vision odysseys” across southern Ontario, sipping beer and chewing down sausages for untold hours until “bending into motel-service station complex, crashing on pickup truck front seat.” (“journey to climb a mountain,” 1991).

Or he’s picking up strange women outside a bar on some middle-American city street and taking them off to a cabin for a one night stand, then “sneaking away with carom off basement furnace, relieved to be outside, see the sky…” (“the trophy room,” 1993).

It’s not all macho display. splake adopts a worshipful, wistful tone in poems like “winter prayer” (1980), asking the returning sun to “green the spring forest…and bleach my gray beard red…one more time”; in “memories in spring” (1990), taking “communion in the woods…almost like aging primal druid seeking soul mood in quiet sacred nemeton….”

All things must pass, however. As might be expected, the energy level, sense of virility, and pure spunk shift perceptibly as the years pass and splake approaches 80.

In later poems we’re more likely to be confronted with the“graybeard poet angler/ passing misty memories” (“cocaine rainbow trout,” 2001); an “old man on nightly hike/…deep in december tides/” with a “hated millstone career/ alcoholic suicide dance/ avoiding seductive nothingness,” anticipating waking up in the morning with a “wild tiger/ roaring in his skull” (“long white musings, 2006).

It’s worth noting that Ernest Hemingway is one of the many male/macho characters to whom splake tips his hat. In early poems, Hemingway’s invoked as a macho figure with hard-drinking ways, who jumps out of boxcars with seeming abandon. But by the end of the collection, splake reduces Hemingway to just another literary suicide, in a list that includes Hunter S. Thompson, Richard Brautigan, and Richard Corey.

Our author, thankfully, spares us wondering too much about the whole suicide thing. In fact, he leaves us with a taste of his irreducible impulse to hang on, “wrestling with another/ poem two or three/ until mind shuts down/ body wears out…” (“tommy,” 2014).

For those of us who have enjoyed the poetry of t. kilgore splake all these years, and for new readers about to enter his world, that impulse is certainly good news.

use this link to view the story on pedestal magazine’s website.

# # # # #

glimpse published a splake poem in the june issue.

growing up a poet

collecting stamps

british empire issues best

making one-tube radio

listening to foreign voices

assembling model airplanes

balsa cement tissues

summer with cubs

raspy static chicago station

chuck berry fats domino songs

wlac tennessee

lonely boy

shy around girls

tender feelings

hoping someone cares

the latest edition of bear creek haiku published six splake poems.

riding with delivery man

bottles clinking in wire baskets

early morning adventure

to end of the block

####

waiting early morning

computer screen warming

creative tensions growing

time to make things happen

third wednesday‘s new production has a splake black-and-white photograph titled “long white spirit”.

splake photo - the long white spirit

splake photo – the long white spirit

lilliput review #196 also published a splake poem.

lilliput review #196

lilliput review #196

beginning

agates describing

fiery explosions

crawling glacier whispers

before fish

leaving fossil lines

quiet echoes

along superior shore

spring edition of trajectory published two splake poems in issue 10.

finishing line

suddenly realizing

days closing fast

rat bastard time disappearing

necessary to stand tall

in small ignorant world

shouting loud goddamn

i was here

this is my poem

finally, i have cover photographs and poems in alison vayne’s june edition of the moon literary magazine.

june edition of the moon

june edition of the moon, cover photo by splake

misfits

arid nevada mesquite

empty desert waiting

new crazy dreamers

escaping civilized life

previous ghosts forgotten

big blond girl

not trusting people

couple of cowboys

suffering broken hearts

john huston film

arthur miller in shadows

wrestling wild horses

hoping solitude

freedom from wages

regular routines

providing quiet peace

more splake ink

recently i have enjoyed success in getting my work printed in several significant small press publications.

my poem “go out and play” was printed in the 35th anniversary issue of plainsongs.

the splake poem “spring training” was published in the spring issue of the avocet.

kevin ring, editor of the british magazine beat scene wrote a book review of my “the jack kerouac upper peninsula diary.”

bear creek haiku volumes # 125 and 126 contained four separate short splake poems.

finally my poems earned ink and space in the april and may editions of the moon.

 

35th anniversary issue of plainsongs

35th anniversary issue of plainsongs

 

go out and play

never heard anymore
music lessons sports practices
social club activities
cocooned children
lost in technology
alien blips and bleeps
playing computer games
beating monitor enemy
quietly all alone

 

 

2015 spring issue of the avocet

2015 spring issue of the avocet

spring training

march coming into april
on cold misty breaths
red-throated hawks
dark silhouettes
inside shafts of sunlight
afloat on warm thermals
old poet musing
remembering camping trips
with two young sons
gathering dry twigs
building small pyramids
campfire flame kindlings
late hot chocolate
toasted marshmallow dessert
couple of wonka chapters
before going to bed

 

beat scene issue #76

beat scene issue #76

The Jack Kerouac Upper Peninsula Diary
T. Kilgore Splake
(Angst Productions)

Thomas Smith has me confused.  I’ve known of him, and T. Kilgore Splake for a good few years.  Splake is his alter ego, I guess.  Having just read this chapbook, originally published in 1998, I’ve found it unsettling and beguiling at the same turning of a page.

In this diary of a purely fictitious road trip by Jack Kerouac back in 1958, Kerouac rejoices in all the trials, tribulations and little joys of being mobile, sticking his thumb out – drinking beers with truck drivers, sleeping in woods at the edge of whatever small town he is passing through.  He’s inwardly lamenting his loneliness, his inability to love fully, find a woman and stay with her.  And he writes to his various friends around America, often thinly disguised friends, Old Bull Lee, Julien, Gilgoric, JanJan, his Memere, Japhy, Sterling, Neal of course.

In his short introduction to this collection of diaries and journals, letters to and from Jack Kerouac, – T. Kilgore Splake tells us “…quickly I leafed through the wrinkled, dogeared pages, discovering it was a diary collection of letters, notes, poems, and sort commentaries still distinguishable in fading ink colors, suddenly I felt a stunned awareness at the potential of my accidental find.  My brain felt like it was madly spinning while I pondered the possible discovery of some unknown and unacknowledged “On the Road” writings of the sad, down and out master of the ‘Beat Generation.’ I felt my curiosity growing as I quickly read the diary accounts of Jack cutting out of San Francisco, playing rides across the country, passing through Michigan’s upper peninsula on his way back east, maybe to New York, or maybe to visit memere, maybe both.”

Now, this forty four page chapbook was published 17 years ago, it may have gone mostly unnoticed outside of a small circle, I don’t know.  But it is a clever, intriguing, almost unique slant on looking at Jack Kerouac.  Getting inside his head. If you were completely unaware you migh, just might, imagine these were really Kerouac’s own words.  I’d put it up alongside Victor Levy Beaulieu’s Jack Kerouac: A Chicken Essay from long ago.

 

 

bear creek haiku #125 – 126

 

winter dawn

early white softness
sweet dreamsongs
warming old bardic bones

# # # #

backwater winter

pewter gray sky
blue jay flitting
long white
blizzard

 

 

the moon april 2015

the moon april 2015

my lie

faded prom orchid
“stardust” memories
in country “dear john”
shau valley massacre
finding dead “lurps”
cocks in their mouths
burning hooches
women and childern kia’s
lost boy soldier
dreaming of home

 

the moon may 2015

the moon may 2015

untitled

unexpected pregnancy
destroying young girl’s plans
becoming airline stewardess
hospital technician
iga grocery lifer
stocking cans
pricing boxes
sleeping eating paying bills
dreams of travel
buying new clothes
finding interesting man
seeing her reflection
store window glass
looking like amish doll
without any face

small press literary “scores”

at the close of 2014, splake had poems published in several small literary editions.  these included the kurt vonnegut memorial library journal so it goes.  he also had poems produced in cheap seats ticket to ride, bear creek haiku, penny ante feud, and trajectory. the literary magazine trajectory published the splake photograph of the old railroad station in seney, michigan, where ernest hemingway arrived to discover and write about the “big two-hearted river.”


 

so it goes, indianapolis, in

 

hip gallerinas

 

bloody guitar fingers

playing another riff

lonely poet

staring in mirror

seeing pollack’s ghost

watching colors dry

 

 

academic angling

 

buff colored volvo

faculty parking lot

trout fishing outing

expensive graphite rod

fly box loaded

dry “ibis”

weighted “op cits”

 


 

trajectory, frankfort, ky

trajectory

t. kilgore splake's photo of the old train station in seney, mi  published in trajectory, fall 2014

t. kilgore splake’s photo of the old train station in seney, mi
published in trajectory, fall 2014

 

always heading north

 

relentless focus

bolano jim harrison splake

crossing nameless rivers

hiking toward mountains

seeking space

solitary beauty

abandoning greed

broken-hearted love

forgotten youthful dreams

living in pine shadows

running with wolves

soaring on eagle wings

dark clear nights

moon belongs to us

 


 

cheap seats ticket to ride, empire, co

###

her soft voice whispering, “i

still love you, please come

home,” like yuri zhivago on

endless odyssey, chasing aching

heart


bear creek haiku, boulder, co

###

sanity = denial of reality and no poets

about as creative as toilet seat at

“self-service” gas station  on the

interstate


penny ante feud, alpharetta, ga

penny

darkness into light

 

early morning

first dawn shadows

turning tranny miles north

time for trekking

leaving quiet footsteps

climbing cliffs summit

crossing brautigan creek

recalling papa hem favorite

across the river

and into the trees

solitary poet

whiskey soaked brain

moving slowly

out of body consciousness

not like others

ant farm beehive drones

dawn to dusk

doing same old same

or tartt’s goldfinch

cage chained ankle

always landing in same place

listening to forest ghosts

old copper miners

big lake seamen

lumberjacks and trappers

finnish farmers

tilling hard-scrabble soils

young native warriors

children lost

hot diphtheria fevers

better companions

than living cadavers

stupid petty voices

not missing woman

sacred profane passions

adriana of dreams

“renata” safe for papa

sad females

full of pas resentments

collected from junior high

constant naggy complaints

numbing creative visions

leaving unpublished books

lost in literary shadows

moving up path

passing young pines

needles softly purring

old meadow with

thimbleberries in season

deep blue sky

thin clouds across horizon

hawks eagles falcons

soaring on warm thermals

reaching escarpment heights

standing at world’s edge

thinking about beyond

wondering what’s next

knowing i’ll be here forever

dave engel scattering

funeral ashes and bones

afternoon light fading

racing night

back down cliffs

retrieving pickup truck

crockpot madness stew

bard res dinner waiting

before lost in darkness

like prisoner of tri-xxxy neg

keeping eyes open

for mountain lion

like matthiessen’s snow leopard

another pure spirit