Brevities

the new year

i greatly appreciate the beginning of a new year. this time frame provides an excellent opportunity to review past literary projects and productions. it also gives the creative artist a sense of a fresh new beginning. in short, i have hit this new year running and hope to continually make the bard res’ carpet smoke with my creative activity.

there are four new splake book titles that have early 2019 publication dates. “presa press” (editor eric greinke) in rockford, michigan will publish a collection of poems “anatomy of desire.” “transcendent-zero press” (editor dustin pickering) in houston, texas, will publish another short poetry collection “sacred and obscene.” “rusty truck press” (editor scot young) a missouri small press will creative a collection of splake poems for their “brown bag” poetry series. finally, gage press in battle creek, michigan, will finish the project “beyond brautigan creek.” note: this modest publication will contain both splake poems and a dvd attachment with the work.

 

2018

     the following references provide a brief review of the splake work that finished the recent old year.

gage press in battle creek, michigan, finished the collection of splake poetry in the chapbook “rectory.”

editor arnold skemer wrote a brief review of “rectory” in the 82nd edition of his “zyx” literary publication.

in the december issue of the “marquette monthly,” literary editor tyler tichenlaar wrote an excellent review of the splake “lost dreams” collection of short poems.

“iconoclast” edition #117 had a splake front cover photograph of his favorite feminine companion “annie.” the literary magazine editor phil wagner also wrote a short review of the splake book “final curtain.”

among my other late 2018 sources of small press literary space and ink, i was particularly pleased with the poems published in “ethos literary journal” (editor kiriti sengupta) in calcutta, india, “brevities” (editor joyce odam) in sacrameno, california, and “bear creek haiku” (editor ayaz) in longmont, colorado.

Splake_rectory

“rectory”

stillness

poet sacrificing music

for deep solitude

free of distractions

sound system silent

while facing blank page

yet still hearing murmurs

“carmina burana”

wild celebrating sounds

ottorino’s nocture

gentle breeze blowing

through pines of rome

vivaldi’s soft birdsongs

coming into spring

# # # #

 

middle-class-middling

many years ago

ted pixley

battle creek attorney

handling my divorce

strongly recommending

personal counseling

preventing painful separation

upon reflection

saving troubled marriage

would mean vacations

with overweight wife

stuffed in bermudas

rosetta café breakfast

arguing if pasties

should have rutabagas

time rapidly vanishing

retired professor

without a beard

never writing poetry

# # # #

 

“zyx”

editor arnold skemer

book review of “rectory”

     splake writes from a small office of the former st.anne’s church. it now services as an art center for the community. this chapbook contains the usual splakian musings, his diurnal activities, writer’s disappointments, frustrations of an elderly gent, snide comments (“graying husbands/pleasantly plump wives/somenhow still married to/summer vacations/wearing new levis, mall-mart bermudas/seeing the sights/no longer fucking.”) splake is very predictable but amusingly so. as usual, nice backgrounding in crusty decrepit calumet, the character of the north woods, like a chronicler of yoknapatawpha county.

 

“marquette monthly”

book editor tyler tichenlaar

review of “lost dreams”

 

“lost dreams” is yet another short volume of poetry from the prolific u.p. poet t. kilgore splake. this short volume consists of only fifteen pages of poems, but each page contains five short three-lined poems on it. the poems are not technically haikus (poems of seventeen syllables), but they are similar in their short and concise size. each poem has three to five words per line and three lines, and ranges from about fourteen to seventeen syllables on average. because the poems are not titled, one might think the book is one long poem, but the discerning reader will realize each stanza is a poem m in itself.

i like to think of these as being like “fortune cookies poems,” because each poem creates a single image or feeling by tying together a few connected images. the poems cover numerous themes, including childhood, alcoholism, music, movies, and old age. most have a cynical tone. splake always writes gritty poems and “lost dreams” is no exception. it’s not a volume for the faint of heart, but there are many truths here that need to be said.

Splake_Iconoclast.jpeg

“iconoclast # 117”

editor phil wagner

review of “final curtain”

 

there are several core messages in mr. splake’s work. one of the main admonitions is to get off the false-premised hamster wheel of the consumerist middle class (those who are still left, that is).   he tried it – this other people’s idea of success – was pretty good at it, but non-lived in a constant state of anxiety and falsehood. when the muse called, he answered – indeed followed – damn the consequences.

to pursue an art in today’s society (especially as something more than a pastime or hobby) is looked upon as a fool’s errand (‘show me the money!’). “many are called but few are chosen.” such are the risks of rebelling against the social contract, conformity. in some poems the poet tells of loneliness, a life streamlined to simple pleasure. in the myth of the suffering artist there is often a happy (if not posthumous) ending. but the suffering is real, the price of the lifestyle often that of ‘a rose blooming unseen.’

splake_ethos.jpg

“ethos literary journal”

editor kiriti sengupta

suicide

 

paula’s weak moment

leaving me early

sad lonely feeling

nightly she returns

softly whispering

her lost love

still in my heart

# # # #

 

freedom

waking to birdsong

before first light

building small fire

boiling water from stream

instant coffee

oats in tin cup

ready for journey

picking way over deadfall

brushing aside cobwebs

escaping invisible satellites

government surveillance

knowing where i am

finding empty cave

remote cliffs heights

sitting around campfires

discussing with owls

wisdom magic poetry

# # # #

SplakeBrevities186.jpg

“brevities”

editor joyce odam

north tower’s 87th floor

diving into unknown

ten seconds totally alive

# # # #

fledgling bird

edge of nest

stretching small wings

# # # #

hiking alone at night

feeling coyotes breaths

hearing sounds of plants

# # # #

poet’s dream

tilting universe

touching soul of god

# # # #

 

“bear creek haiku”

editor ayaz daryl nielsen

steady river flowing

carrying poet’s soul

endless creative beauty

# # # #

desolation angels

kerouac and icarus

falling back to earth

# # # #

eyes tightly closed

soft hesitating lips

about to whisper something

# # # #

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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

# # # #

 

winter musings

     ah, splake reader, this graybeard artist is definitely a prisoner of rat bastard time, eh. summer is long gone, autumn’s “indian summer” a memory, and now it is the michigan upper peninsula season in the long white. it seems the precious hours in a day vanish so quickly, especially when you are having fun, and the snow is knee-high and rising.

since the last entry i have had poems published in “bear creek haiku,” of longmont, colorado, and in “iconoclast” published in mohegan lake, new york. i am also very pleased that the literary magazine, “brevities,” printed in scaramento, california, published twelve short splake poems.

“bear creek haiku”

early morning breeze
small branches swaying
like restless heart

“iconoclast”

“discovery”

seeking serious enlightenment
without huge statue
silent bronze buddha
massive european cathedrals
stained rose windows
muslim mosques
with tall minarets
living alone
solitary wilderness days
becoming one with nature
joyful songbirds chattering
musical pine needles hum
rich evergreen scent
surrounded by beautiful wildflowers
wild thimbleberry blossoms
spring campfire smoke
bringing new poems
later cold autumn ashes
scattering words
lost in the winds

 
 
 

“brevities”

IMG_20171220_130944056

licking wet leaves
delicious morning dew
like emily drunk on air

# # # #

thelonious monk
soft jazzy touch
world full of edges

# # # #

poet’s ashes scattered
light wilderness breeze
sky taking him back

# # # #

the splake chair at brautigan creek

IMG_20171220_131011366_BURST000_COVER

the recent cover for “trajectory,” edited by chris helvey in frankford, kentucky, was a photograph of the splake chair located at brautigan creek.

in “trajectory’s” editorial remarks, helvey made reference to my recent book “ahhh” published by transcendent-zero press in houston, texas. he said “it is full of splake’s own inimitable staccato lines like these from “mad memories” – “old route 66/ mother road mainstreet/ concrete road to nirvana. . . . “

“u.p. reader”

IMG_20171220_131119609_BURST000_COVER

there is a new michigan upper peninsula literary magazine, U.P. READER. it is published annually and is edited by mikal classen, of marquette, michigan. i have submitted both poems and photographs on literary spec for consideration in the next edition. in addition, the “splake writing room and library” in the calumet art center, calumet, michigan, will be advertised in the next issue of U.P. READER.

writingroom“depot”

the calumet art center press recently published its second title, “depot.” the book is a modest history of the old calumet railroad station. in addition to the historical text, there are several old photographs of the train station and railroad transportation. these photographs came from the michigan technological university archives in houghton, michigan, and the keweenaw national historical park library in calumet, michigan.

CACP -

in memoriam

ward pratt was one of the new friends i had during the ten years i lived in munising, michigan. during those years of pursuing an understanding of writing poetry, i developed a new, deeper definition of reclusiveness..

ward and i often went fishing together. we seemed to enjoy our silent company while exploring new and used remote fishing sites. a couple of times we busted my old ford bronco through the wilderness and canoed and fished the headwaters of the fox river. many readers remember that it was the fox river that hemingway wrote about in his “nick adams stories.” however, for a more catchy short story title, old papa renamed the river the “big two-hearted.”

sadly ward passed away in november, and is greatly missed. yet, i am certain that he has found a fresh beaver dam in heaven and is waiting this graybeard’s arrival.

fox river odyssey

with nick adams

tried the question a couple of times in seney,

“anyone around who still remembers when ernest

hemingway jumped out the boxcar for a fishing

trip, and made the fox river the “big two-hearted”

of literary fame,

one spring steve at the mobilgas said “the old

SOB probably just came and stayed drunk for a week,

slept under the bridge, never wetting a line, then

went back to the newspaper and made up his fish

story,

next spring, steve’s son alan agreed that this was

probably true,

so i decided to roam around the fox headwaters,

fish, look, and try to find out,

first dawn light drove an aging bronco torturous

miles of winding two-wheel ruts, eventually sliding

a canoe down wet grasses to pond waters, scattering

nesting sandhill cranes, disturbing a beaver family

slapping their tails making hasty retreat,

fast rising un burning off cool morning mist, drying

icy beads in spider webs

black flies constantly hovered, biting clouds of hungry

mosquitos an endless swarm, around a pond dogleg,

portaging two ancient beaver dams, finally arriving at

flooded muskeg meadow of river meanders, one plump

brookie already in creel,

large brown fish hawk lazily circling as the high noon

sun baked hot against the welts rising from my neck, when

i saw nick, shadowy figure resting under some second

growth pines in the distance, where marsh grass turned

to upland soil,

trace of bacon grease and streak of dried condensed milk

in his beard, apple butter pancake and onion sandwich lunch

set before him, laughing at me,

greenhorn trout fisherman furiously grasping at small

willow branches, ass and billfold valuables soaked by

sudden icy plunge, finally pulling free of sinkhole ooze,

cold shock reminder of tragedy waiting the unwary alone

in the woods,

nick mocking the foolish who fish during hot noon,

when high sky and bright sun make trout wary,

temptation to wave, holler adams down to chat, tell

fishing lies, smoke, but quickly recall he did not like to

fish with other men,

so i left him to the bitterns high up among the

pine, cedar, and birches, let him have his dreamy

nap, knowing later when the dark purple clouds and

orange remains turn to dusk

bottle of grasshoppers around his neck, flour

sack tied to waist, he will climb over the log pile

amid cool evening shadows, this time working the

“big fish,” playing the sandy pebbles and gravel

further this time, maybe even into the swamp.

coming events

the old riviera and rialto movie theaters in my old home town used to advertise the “coming pictures.” so, very soon, i will be reviewing the new splake collection of poetry in the chapbook “lost dreams” published by transcendent-zero press in houston, texas.