Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Cal State Writing Board Letter, Will Alexander

Our present psycho-lingual engulfs the past not unlike a psychic lahar, not unlike an exploded embolism where former states of consciousness can no longer procure the right to organically instruct. We have now entered the realm of alchemical lingual resonance. To attempt to procure a recursive lingual agenda can only be seen via a deprived and disordered instruction. To retreat to the English language as it sought to express itself at the cusp of Jim Crow can nothing other than atrophy the mind. The future is upon us. And this future is not a thriving cliche, or an enabled relic, brought to view to theoretically surmount a destroyed position. Thus we cannot instruct language via the vestiges of a disabled heritage that has no place in the living scheme of our current neural unfolding. For the Cal State lingual environment to retreat into such a debased climate of instruction can not be tolerated or condoned as organic promotion. Decades after Rodney King, and what feels like an eternity after the murder of George Floyd, the recent flowering of the Cal State writing board cannot be defamed by retreat into the minor codes of obstructionist academia. Language should not be instructed from a deadened point of view. Of course I am not speaking from some didactic warren, or some constricting molecular substrate, but from an existential dynamics that now registers by overcoming regressive lingual instruction. The lingual dimension of the Cal State campus represents what I understand to be transmuted planetary English. From Formosa to Persia English there now subsists indigenous planetary expansion not spores that persist and emit themselves from condemned climate proto to Jim Crow. Let us take the English that was Philip Lamantia, or the English that brewed in the cells of Bob Kaufman as living examples. We can no longer breed relics as models for future lingual instruction. And no this is not a cry for blind lingual wandering on my behalf but for an alchemical emergence of world language via the 250,000 terms that flood our language as a wondrous psychic blessing. Evolving students cannot be forced to devolve and swallow old destructive sub-texts. This amounts to nothing other than a deformed and catastrophic gesture that will negatively reflect on itself as a willful squandering of energy during this inflection point as we open onto a newly living planetary history.

Will Alexander- Poet, novelist, playwright, essayist, philosopher, visual artist, pianist, who has authored over 30 books and chapbooks. He has read at venues stretching from Rotterdam to Los Angeles and is currently poet-in-residence at Beyond Baroque Poetry Center in Venice California. In addition to this he is a Whiting Fellow, a California Arts Council Fellow, a Pen Oakland winner, an American Book Award winner, as well being both a recipient of the Jackson Prize for poetry in 2016, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Beyond Baroque Poetry Center in 2018. He resides in Los Angeles.

MYTHAXIS, Rus Khomutoff

I was hand, body, liquid ruled by the dark seas/rapture honeycombed in flesh/crosscurrents of understanding/horrorotica mythaxis grind/describes what the new normal is like/streaming eye of syndication/this is one of those moments when everything coalesces/conversations with the light/wishpenny inflections/give a heart across a hundred evenings in the sire of the battle cry/blood testament life/marathon premium stay true machine sympathy stigma to status story ritual burying the cruel truth/sorry,not sorry celebrity news/what we are doing is harboring the savage point/master of metaphor decium riff/one does not dream, one is dreamed/wisdom in the foam sword words equidistant/calm over everything just like the unspeakable word/and these questions they give us no rest/one indivisible and forever/arm of exuberance, shore of elan/tale of the loop/orbit dance doctor tomorrow/howl of the deranged protocol infinite terrain spawning infinite game/noise of the crimes between us/ the remembering gain/street fever decennial hybrid mind embrace/jettison the feel phantom drift assuming the mask. Overthrow the self/an airborne disease, a beautiful thing that never happened/glistening in the rays of a distant supernova,mercurial staff take your breath away/pirate blood/nautical dawn/wild blossom/intercept canvas redux,church of trees scream in silence.There was superimposition & worry at a certain hour of the day/hyena season genesis grasp secret psalm in search of duende/this eventuality’s carnival row exit in memory reclaiming time with unexpected grace notes/vagabond of the margins/burning up the green guardian/assignations crestfallen between music & silence/carnivalesque Xerox & infinity/ dimension horizon stasis leak everlasting/cherub chance the undying matter anticipating nowhere/theramin cost victim of illusion priceless channel /follow me into the reprieve best private fantasy times two/taste of holiday gross hesitation/to dance in the dark without fear/imperial violets distant shore/venerable plight/checkered koan/the other side of no tomorrow/the lost symbol/ naked reflections complex crossed/prism walls infolio segmented balsam flex/new letters renaissance hum/a guessing game of infinity/ fastpass body everything/a painted sea of semiprecious stones interrupted by the illusion of time/sentimental rove the beginning/depthcruiser hour of pearl wayward son dispatches/ skin of wind, skin of streams, skin of shadows, the secret of numbers unscrambling the distortions/infinite perimeter/melancholy body sacrilege/tattoo highway insomnia punk/passion post of the absent everyday/venus endeavor ministering blithe spirits/wonderment cyclorama/lost in the omnipresent origin echo unlimited/mirror for mankind/thorn exhortation

My name is Rus Khomutoff and I am an experimental language poet base in Brooklyn, NY. My poetry has appeared in San Francisco review of books, Proprose magazine, Mojave Heart review and Hypnopomp. In 2018 I published my debut collection Immaculate Days (Alien Buddha Press)

Five Foreign Films, James Cagney

1) Bread
Unrated 112 minutes B&W and Color. French and Portuguese. Dir. Gordon Chamois, Starring: Peugeot Martinique and Antoinette Dubois-Dupris

The oldest son of a poor, sick janitor leaves his family and walks to town to find work. A sympathetic breadmaker employs the boy to sweep his storefront. At the end of the week, the boy is paid with a huge, sparkling quarter. He hands the coin back to the baker and buys a loaf of bread. The boy takes the bread back to his family. They sit around the table. The boy places the loaf in the center of the table. They sit. Baby sister. Baby Brother. Pa. Ma. The Boy. Each face spotted with soot. The mother stands. Wipes her hands along her torn kitchen dress and cuts five slices from the loaf, passing one to each ashen face. Split screen: Five mouths open. Five mouths chew. Five faces weep. Fin.

2)  Your Love Has Made Me Suffer
NC-17. 127 minutes. B&W. Slovenian. Directed by Pierre LaPierre. Starring Simone Basquiat, and Jon Eidolon

Shot in one continuous take, the film follows a repressed, middle-aged woman in a white dress and long dark coat who, for one night, goes on an exploration of her sexuality in a neighborhood
grocery store. While fingering the papayas, she eyes a 16 year old produce clerk and begins a mating dance. They circle one another while she strokes the cantaloupes. They flirt in frozen foods, they hump in housewares. They write sensual haikus in steamed breath on the ice cream freezer window. The boy leads her to the stockroom and makes passionate love to her on mountains of leafy mustard greens. Naked beneath the shadow of a life-size TV detective holding a roll of paper towels, the boy, his sweaty face seemingly peeled afresh--begins a monologue about his dead father. The woman looks at the boy.  They weep.  Fin.

3)  We Shall Wait
PG-13. 99 minutes. Color. In Dutch with English subtitles. Dir. Mario Ferrogamo. Starring Derek Derragon and Frida Francois

A mature woman opens the gate to a cottage. She leans like a hummingbird over a purple rhododendron blooming at the entrance. She picks it, lifts it to her face. She enters the yard, holding the flower close to her cheek. She approaches the cottage door, turns the doorknob, enters. A mature man is seated on the rooms’ divan. His face is a stern mask. She approaches, sits next to him. Says: “I shall wait until you are dead.”  She slips the flower into his breast pocket. She folds her now empty hands in her lap. They weep. Fin.

4) Love is a Bird with Freedom
Unrated. 200 minutes. B&W. In French. Dir. Jean-Luc Kieslowski. With Simone Chateau and Herbert Hermione.

Everyday a young couple stands at a pier overlooking the bay. They are very much in love. They gaze deep into one another's eyes and whisper "j'taime… j'taime..." as if it were the name of the god that brought them together.  One day, there is an accident. The young woman-- a former gymnast-- slips from the pier, falls into the black water drowns. The young man is destroyed. Years later, the former young man, now gray haired, creaks slowly along the same pier where he lost his love so many years before. He considers the water which looks the same as it did when he was so very young and so very much in love. Then a seagull lands on the railing next to him and vomits up a fish.
The gull regards the man.
The man regards the gull.
The fish eye reflects them both.
The gull whispers "J'taime" and flies away.
The man regards the fish.
The fish weeps.
The man weeps.

5) Un Autre Homme, Une Autre Femme (Another Man, Another Woman)
NC-17. 100 Minutes. In French. Color. Dir. Spike LeBleu. Starring Isabelle Perotte and Phillipe Droutte

A man holds a silver mailbox beneath his arm while standing on a subway platform. The train approaches. He enters a train car cradling the mailbox as if it were an infant. He sits across from a woman reading a newspaper. She looks up at him briefly, friendly. She returns to her newspaper. But, feeling his unwavering glance she looks up at the man again. He opens the mailbox and reaches inside. He quietly pulls out a huge fish. He humbly lays it across the paper on her lap.
She looks up at him.
He smiles.
She weeps.

James Cagney is a poet from Oakland, Ca. He has appeared at venues in throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, Vancouver, and Mumbai. He was profiled in the San Francisco Chronicle and on His first book, Black Steel Magnolias In The Hour Of Chaos Theory, is available now from More of James' writing can be found at

The Flounderer, S.F. Wright

Ken Caprese lived on the assumption that a dream career and life lurked a heartbeat away and that his present existence as a Barnes and Noble head cashier was just an inconvenient stopgap.
            When Drew met Ken, the latter was enrolled at Bergen Community College. But shortly thereafter Ken stopped attending because he said that he wanted to become a lawyer and that it was better to go to a four-year college for that. Drew thought this logic questionable, but shrugged and nodded, as though to suggest this wasn’t a bad idea. He’d learned that was the best way to deal with Ken.
Ken was a strict head cashier who enjoyed “letting customers have it” when he thought they were in the wrong, a tendency Drew attributed to Ken’s venting some of his own bitterness and frustration. All a customer had to do, though, was ask for a manager, who’d always let the customer get his way. Still, it was fun to watch Ken try.
            Occasionally, though, Ken could be unnecessarily rude—even over something petty. One time, he rather nastily told a teacher at Drew’s register that she had to go out in the rain to get her school I.D. from her car in order to receive her teacher’s discount, even though she was buying ten copies of Lord of the Flies. The woman got her I.D. but left irate, and the whole transaction made Drew uneasy.
Ken then told people he no longer wanted to be a lawyer; he wanted to be a computer programmer. But he couldn’t go to school now for a number of reasons: time, money, family—which Drew understood. Yet he felt that you shouldn’t talk about doing something until you were actually doing it.
Drew was made a lead, which meant he’d work on the salesfloor more and less as a cashier. He found that as long as he didn’t have to listen to Ken daily, he was a tolerable guy.
After seven years, Drew inquired into becoming a manager. He was told that the first step would be to make him a head cashier.
            This promotion obliged him to work with Ken, who was, Drew found, the same: still trying to finish college, still speaking about the career he’d soon have in computers. Also, Ken’s hair had gone gray, and he had a paunch.
As Drew worked more regularly with Ken, he became privy to another of his grievances: his wife. Mrs. Caprese had a decent job and had been supporting Ken; she’d even paid for his stints in college.
            It also became apparent why after the store closed Ken lingered outside smoking cigarettes and talking to other employees instead of going straight home.
When Drew finally got his degree at twenty-eight, Ken shook his hand.
Good for you. I hope to get mine soon, too.
            You will. And thanks.
            But the unspoken truth embarrassed him. Drew should’ve gotten his degree long ago instead of floundering around, going to school part time, living at home, and working at Barnes and Noble. As for Ken, Drew didn’t think he’d ever get a degree—or leave the store.
Drew went to the wedding of Christina, another head cashier. He saw Ken’s wife, who was obese. The woman was nice enough, Ken acted genial. But if one observed him closely, one discerned misery.
Ken announced he was quitting. At a job fair, he’d found a new position, selling software. Drew wasn’t sure he believed him. But Ken gave his notice, and during those last two weeks, he was happier than Drew had ever seen him.
            On Ken’s last night, they went to Applebee’s. Sitting in a booth and drinking a Captain and Coke, Drew reflected on all the times he’d come to this Applebee’s. Watching Ken—whose wife wasn’t there—Drew felt glad, but jealous. He never imagined Ken would leave the store before he did.
            At home, Drew sat in his room drinking Evan Williams and Coca-Cola, making pledges that he, too, would leave Barnes and Noble.
For a few weeks, he didn’t hear anything about Ken. But one afternoon, Drew spotted him hurrying out of the store. He didn’t stop to say hello. Drew mentioned it to Christina.
            He was asking for his old job.
            She nodded. He couldn’t hack it at that place. She put a stack of twenties on the money counter. I think he just finagled his way into it, and when they found out he couldn’t do the work. . .
            Is he coming back here?
            She shrugged. Maybe. But I don’t know. Catherine said since they’d already made George a head cashier, all they could offer Ken was something part-time, which he didn’t want.
            Drew considered this. So what’s he going to do?
            Christina counted a new till. Try to get some other job, I guess.
He never saw Ken again. But a year after Drew left the Barnes and Noble, he heard that he’d returned to the store to work in the receiving area.
            Ken also left his wife. Drew was glad for him, even though the divorce was messy. The last he heard, Ken was renting a room in a friend’s house and again talking about becoming a lawyer.

S.F. Wright lives and teaches in New Jersey. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Hobart, Quarter After Eight, Linden Avenue Literary Journal, and Elm Leaves Journal, among other places. His website is

Selected works, Seth Jani

Wet Dogs

After years spent trying
to dissect the moon,
I settled back
into longing, open fields,
into the horizontal meadows of light.
I turned down
the wind-strewn road
to where my father
tended a garden
and the dual energies
from this world and the next
danced in the koi pond,
shining like ancient fur.

Calling the Council

Take up the forest in your arms,
the darkling birds and cedar boughs,
the rivers rerunning to the sea.
Take the straggling myths
and gnarled amanitas,
the secret hours of the witch.
Take whatever the moon loved
in the winding labyrinth, carry it
to your makeshift shelter.
Pour your ancient libations
over the wounded and dead.
Cast your spells of sunlight.
We need healers to rise
from the sleep of ages.
We need new languages
of terror and grace.

Suicide Mission

The clockwork light has bound me
again in its linear cages.
What force will strike the rundown mansion
and open the doors to the wind?
Will re-invite the field grasses
to their creeping indignities, or let
the molten fires pour in
like some punishment of song?
Awake, old magisterial darkness
in the bowels of the house, Awake!
All of beauty is a pull from the unknown.
The mischievous and deadly hand
inviting us. Outwards.
The disfigured angel or gorgeous chthonic god
tugging our heartstrings
toward some ineluctable wager,
some suicidal leap of faith.

Staying in Bed

Swim out into the last bleak throughway
of the night, where even the stars
fear to hover, where the wondrous
and pain-ridden light of being
churns out of the furnace, not yet drinkable,
not yet in the shapes of trees or scissors,
not yet the namable palpitations of love.
Maybe a god could live there,
maybe the Buddhas themselves,
but not us. Follow the course
back downriver into the comfortable
boundaries the moon delimits.
Kiss the curving palms and delicious wind.
Let all the lava pour into your hunger
with its molten jewels.
Stake nothing on transcendence.
All the fire we need to live
is burning freely at the door.

Seth Jani lives in Seattle, WA and is the founder of Seven CirclePress ( Their work has appeared in The American Poetry Journal, Chiron Review, Ghost City Review, Rust+Moth and Pretty Owl Poetry, among others. Their full-length collection, Night Fable, was published by FutureCycle Press in 2018. Visit them at

Monday, June 1, 2020

Mazisi: Alive At The Cusp of Your 90th Realm, Will Alexander

Was I wrong,
A poem by Mazisi Kunene

Was I wrong when I thought
All shall be avenged?
Was I wrong when I thought
The rope of iron holding the neck of young bulls
Shall be avenged?
Was I wrong
When I thought the orphans of sulphur
Shall rise from the ocean?
Was I depraved when I thought there need not be love,
There need not be forgiveness, there need not be progress,
There need not be goodness on the earth,
There need not be towns of skeletons,
Sending messages of elephants to the moon?
Was I wrong to laugh asphyxiated ecstasy
When the sea rose like quicklime
When the ashes on ashes were blown by the wind
When the infant sword was left alone on the hill top?
Was I wrong to erect monuments of blood?
Was I wrong to avenge the pillage of Caesar?
Was I wrong? Was I wrong?
Was I wrong to ignite the earth
And dance above the stars
Watching Europe burn with its civilisation of fire,
Watching America disintegrate with its gods of steel,
Watching the persecutors of mankind turn into dust
Was I wrong? Was I wrong?

Mazisi: Alive At The Cusp of Your 90th Realm
A poem by Will Alexander

you the great spirit
the intransigent oracle
who now appears & disappears
as progenitor of liberty
not as scribe super-imposed by professional sterility as syntax
but by magical etching via surreptitious penguin's quills
never a domain of hoarseness
but personal power via in-docile bravery
being colorful wind that continues to erupt from transfixed volcanoes & it is you
who magically inscribed Shaka
who sculpted his salt from indiginous fragments
from lingual incensment
alive as living structural historicity
not as quotidian perspicacity
but through language as sum
via the biographic as intrigue

you remain the great torch
blazing & retreating as touch & go astonishment
possessing in your psyche a plethora of lion's blood
condoned by dark behavioural spell
always signalling from the beyond your power as prophetic Zulu doctor who continues to forge alchemical numerics
rife with organic Zulu cosmology

you are never as dazed ghost or ornamental replication
but as mirror who embraces forces & because you remain spawned by ceaseless bravery
you spontaneously erupt
not unlike a teeming realm explosive with swans
always breaching the invisible
via the spellbinding power
of your commanding hallucination

Mazisi Kunene was a South African poet best known for his poem Emperor Shaka the Great. While in exile from South Africa's apartheid regime, Kunene was an active supporter and organizer of the anti-apartheid movement in Europe and Africa. He would later teach at UCLA and become Africa's and South Africa's poet laureate.

Will Alexander (born 1948) is a poet, essayist, playwright, novelist and visual artist. He graduated from UCLA in 1972, with a B.A. in English and creative writing. He is a recipient of many fellowships and awards, including California Arts Council Fellowship, American Book Award and most recently the Jackson Poetry Prize.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

A Fly in The Eyes of Mankind, Raluca Comanelea

Dudu lost his balls because of his roommate’s cat. Molly, his ex, prefers to imagine a yellow canary of a cat, taking feline-like steps, with grace and delicate balance. But no, the cat is somewhat fat, quite black, with small white paws. He is the ultimate tuxedo cat, a proud American.

Dudu was in the business of trafficking Mercedes car windows. One can only imagine the outbursts of anger and insanity which reigned over such dangerous daily operations.

“I’m involved in no risky operatives and can knock down doors and bathroom mirrors in a few seconds time,” Molly used to tell herself whenever Dudu would walk out the door of their modest apartment overlooking a major highway.

With furtive looks outside the window, Molly’s imagination would quickly exchange those noisy cars on steroids for the ocean’s stillness. Determined to turn this vision into reality, Molly left the shadow of a man she once adored and moved into a new place, pleasantly surrounded by all the green. No busy highway, true, but no blue waters either.

When Dudu’s roommate took the dog for a 10-minute walk, the somewhat fat, quite black cat, with small, white paws decided that Dudu must die. The universe usually grants cats their perverted wishes. It’s not for nothing that these witchy nocturnal creatures are known for possessing multiple lives, all enacted in a present, manifested one. And daytime proves perfect timing for them to release all conflicts and possibilities. The somewhat fat, quite black cat began the experiment.

Dudu chased the four-legged creature around the apartment with a box cutter, settled to cut open the cat’s guts, and thus, release his own inner turmoil. Remembering all his moments of social instability and fugitive action, his forced confessions at the police station—to which he resisted at the expense of his own knees, Dudu took the matter further and grabbed his gun. A loud noise pierced through. The tuxedo cat sprung from his lap, screeching. Dudu leaned slowly forward, twisting his mouth down, imitating the cry of the cat, hideous and long. He shot himself in the balls.

At last, his roommate arrived with the leashed dog who, by now, was wagging his tail in pure bliss. He twisted the knob and allowed the servile dog to take his first steps inside the apartment. The air reeked of fresh blood and tension. It closed in on the servile dog and his master. Dumbstruck, the roommate grabbed a hold of his phone.

“What was he thinking”? Molly told herself while placing the phone back on the hook.

Nobody seemed to notice the somewhat fat, quite black cat, with white paws. The feline retreated in its safe place, under the bed, to further ponder on the incident that just took place. Ten minutes later, the cat reaffirmed its mechanistic self-cleaning rituals.

Displeased with the whole suicide affair, Molly showed up later that day to get the black cat with white paws and a tuxedo. With Dudu out of the picture, the creature now becomes her responsibility. The two will be sharing lazy evenings, indefinitely. Molly would have preferred a cat in the color of canary, with Bengal spots, in possession of a graceful, delicate balance. The universe doesn’t usually grant Molly her whims and caprices. But, although she slept in a bed for 34 years, a king mattress thrown on the floor reclaims her dreams now, product of her own deep-seated wish to take rest closer to the ground.

The yellow canary of a cat stares at the world through a set of white horizontal aluminum roller blinds, longing for the touch of a blade of grass. From the comfort of her king mattress, Molly absorbs the beauty of Alma, which doesn’t quite resemble her own, and reinvents endings for Las Chicas del Cable, a Netflix series which captivated her mind during a plane ride to the beach. Molly’s God is the beach—the answer to all her exaggerate cries of despair. She is now in the possession of an undesirable, somewhat fat cat, product of her unwanted dreams, vestiges of a past life shared with Dudu.

“You, yellow canary of a cat, you killed Dudu,” Molly whispered, sneering at the cat, watching him struggle to make an unencumbered path cutting through the roller blinds. Suddenly, Molly bursts into Ursula’s demonic laughter. And who can blame her? After all, Dudu shot himself in the balls.

The cat remains stuck in between the roller blinds, meowing pitifully. His presence annoys Molly. The tablet hits the hardwood floor. In a hysterical twitch, the woman springs out of the yellow sheets. Molly’s nerves are burnt. She hated Dudu, but she meant contrary. She wanted to silence him, when silence should have been hers. She yelled at him for taking too much time with toiletries, when time should have been hers. She was longing for something that couldn’t be defined—trips, dinners, sex, toys—all trivial matters of concern. The cat longs to touch a blade of grass and Molly knows.

“Couldn’t this be the whole point”? Molly thought to herself. “A blade of grass—all else is trivial pursuit.”

The yellow canary of a cat is not a secondary stage runner, but a harbinger of social instability. He lights up the torch for the world to marvel at. Molly is simply around. Like a fly in the eyes of mankind.

Raluca Comanelea is a writer, born in Romania and residing in Las Vegas. She is currently teaching English at UNLV. Raluca experiments with various forms of fiction: sudden, flash, and micro. Her writing centers on the tiny revelations sparked by the immensity of character contained in the seemingly ordinary people of our modern day society. Her academic work in the field of American drama and theatre has been published in the Journal of the Far West, Popular and American Culture Association. Her creative work has been published on Alpha Female Society's website. You can connect with Raluca at