Wednesday, April 27, 2022

GAS Featured Poet: Larry O. Dean

Larry O. Dean was born and raised in Flint, Michigan. His numerous books include Frequently Asked Questions (forthcoming), Muse, Um (2022), Activities of Daily Living (2017), Brief Nudity (2013), Basic Cable Couplets (2012), abbrev (2011), About the Author (2011), and I Am Spam (2004). He is also an acclaimed singer-songwriter whose latest solo album is Good Grief (2015); Product Placement, the sophomore album from his band, The Injured Parties, was released August 2019. For more info, go to

Muse, Um's Artistic Inspirations Muse, Um's poems were inspired by various visits to the Art Institute of Chicago in preparation for one of the Poetry Foundation's Pop Up Poetry events, a series of 30-minute lunchtime poetry readings marking the reopening of the museum's new Contemporary Collection. 

As defined by the Foundation, “An ekphrastic poem is a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art. Through the imaginative act of narrating and reflecting on the 'action' of a painting or sculpture, the poet may amplify and expand its meaning.” 

For this endeavor, Dean was given very little in the way of specific instructions; generally, he decided that the poems would be 'ekphrastic' in that they were written in response to the artworks, but he also strove to come up with poems that were different in design, voice, tone, form, etc.; thus, among others you have examples of abecedarian, found, list, oulipo, persona, and sonnet, though in the end he was limited by time to only four for presentation. 

Boy with a Carrot (1738), François Boucher (French, 1703-1770)  

Unwrapping the Mummy (1825), Harriet Cheney (British, 1771-1848)

 Monkeys Boxing, from Monkey-ana (1828), Thomas Landseer (English, 1795-1880) 

Young Peasant Having Her Coffee (1881), Camille Pissarro (French, 1830-1903) 

The Song of the Lark (1884), Jules Adolphe Breton (French, 1827-1906) 

Alphabet (1959), Jasper Johns (American, 1930-) 

Ohhh ... Alright ... (1964), Roy Lichtenstein (American, 1923-1997) 

Waiting Lady (1972), Christina Ramberg (American, 1946-1995) 

Slumber Party (1983), Eric Fischl (American, 1948-) 

Stamford after Brunch (2000), John Currin (American, 1962-) 

Woman with Dog (Frau mit Hund) (2004), Katharina Fritsch (German, 1956-)

Mr. Pointy (2011), Takashi Murakami 村上隆(Japanese, 1962-), 

Sampling of poems from Muse, Um


Jasper Johns (1959)

As soon as Jasper affixed his final

brushstroke, he called John

Cage. “Cage” (that's what he called him),


everything. Get over here.” Taking the

F train, he was relieved to

get away for a while, clear his 

head, fingers arpeggiating 

indeterminate melodies on his lap,

jumping grasshopper-like as he transposed

keys and reworked ideas. “My intention is to

let things be themselves,” he reflected,

making a mental 

note of it.

Outside on the platform, afternoon

passengers jostled one another,

quickly filling the train while Cage

remained seated, his 

stop approaching, “let

things be themselves”

uppermost in his mind. So many

variables in mobile form. Jasper could wait—he

wanted to try something new: have his hands 

x-rayed while they played, metacarpals and phalanges 

yo-yoing in diaphanous black and white, 

zebras shivering in a violent burst of snow.

Waiting Lady
Christina Ramberg (1972)

A body supposes a question mark,

eyed from the side, somewhat de-sexed,

despite its state of undress,

underwear, necklace, and hair, all dark

against a muted gray background,

dark and darker. Her skin's the whitest

element amidst the murk, the brightest

palette here to be found,

arms confined by a cruel

partner in a consensual game,

or attired in lingerie, a diving dame

jackknifing into Victoria's secret pool

to butterfly after-hours laps.

Will her cohort lend a hand, at the lip,

or shove her back, watch her tip

and splash, perhaps

sink to the bottom and brood,

holding her breath as long

as possible? It's the same old song

and dance—the pursuer and the pursued,

a power dynamic built

on submission and release—

and who assumes which role a caprice

of circumstance or repressed guilt.

Slumber Party
Eric Fischl (1983)

Center of the room

a stoical face watches

like some omnipotent voyeur.

It's called pareidolia

the phenomenon of seeing

patterns in randomness—that 

makes windows with drapes

and a heater into hair, a nose,

eyes, and a slitted mouth.

We stare back at ourselves

as the scene unfolds

in cold muted colors,

weird, exaggerated shadows

from a fetish doll atop

the 1980s TV set looking

like a gesticulating alien fetus

in a corner of the attic.

Is this abstinence agitprop

filtered through The X-Files?

A lean white boy stripped

down to his underwear toys

with the television's knob,

his back to a Black girl 

whose panties are either

coming off or being slipped

back on. Between them,

a single blue sleeping bag 

like a depressed tongue

lies zipped open, while

a bed with tousled sheets 

teases to the right, 

lumpy objects stacked 

on a bookcase in the back.


Thursday, April 21, 2022

GAS Featured Artist: Jerome Berglund


Jerome Berglund graduated from the cinema-television production program at the University of Southern California, and has spent much of his career working in television and photography. His work has been featured prominently in many journals, including as haiga in Abstract magazine, gracing the cover of pacificREVIEW, and appearances in Drunk Monkeys, Evocations, Landing Zone, Oxford Magazine, and Please See Me last year.  His pictures have further been published and awarded in local papers, and in 2019 he staged an exhibition in the Twin Cities area which included a residency of several months at a local community center.  A selection of his black and white fine art photographs was showcased at the Pause Gallery in New York, and his fashion photography is currently on display at the BG Gallery in Santa Monica.


Long Shadows

On a Cloud


Monday, April 18, 2022

GAS Featured Poet: Dan Provost


Dan Provost’s poetry has been published throughout the small press for a number of years.  He is the author of fourteen books/chapbooks, including in 2021: Darting In and Out, published by Alien Buddha Press, A Fistful of Ponies released by Raw Earth Ink Press, and Foundations of Cheap Penance, published by Dead Mans Inc.  He is a three-time nominee for the Best of the Web and has read his works across the United States.  He lives in Berlin, New Hampshire with his wife Laura and dog Bella.

Head Held Low
From your first step
at age 32
You’ve held so much anger in
for the gods, and
dreamt of bigger heavens.
Halls of hallowed.
But back you went to
the char, to the pain of
stick figure arms and legs.
And shadows still bend
at angles of swollen

 Daily Records
Dutifully, I walk
up to the third floor.
Ignoring the dog, the trash
that has accumulated during
this depressive episode.
Look up cures on the internet,
Boldy, call myself an idiot
for even trying to
find hope.
Chastise existence—one
sigh at a time.
Then work the keyboards,
trying to express magic
in the dark
in the dank
shining asylum.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

GAS Featured Poet: Sharon Waller Knutson


Sharon Waller Knutson is a retired journalist who lives in Arizona. She has published several poetry books including My Grandmother Smokes Chesterfields (Flutter Press 2014) and What the Clairvoyant Doesn’t Say and Trials & Tribulations of Sports Bob (Kelsay Books 2021) and Survivors, Saints and Sinners forthcoming by Cyberwit. Her work has also appeared in Black Coffee Review, Terror House Review, Trouvaille ReviewONE ART, Mad Swirl, The Drabble, Gleam, Spillwords, Muddy River ReviewVerse-Virtual, Your Daily Poem, Red Eft Review, The Five-Two and The Song Is…

Best Mom in the World


She dives like a swan in the blue

sky in her satin wedding gown

as her groom in black and white

tuxedo and shirt lifts her above

her head. Won’t we make beautiful

babies? she asks fingering the photo.


But you hate children. I remember

when we were rival reporters

attending parties on the weekend

and I was upstairs reading bedtime

stories to the children of the hosts

while she was hunting for Mr. Right.


After she is promoted as editor

of the social page and meets

the handsome architect

and trust fund baby, she flashes

a two carat diamond ring.

We can afford a houseful of kids.


We’ll just hire someone else

to take care of themAnd I’m

not going to ruin my firm boobs

and flat stomach so we’ll pay

a surrogate to go through

morning sickness and labor pains.


I am surprised when years later

while visiting the San Diego Republic,

I spot her sitting in the break room

drinking coffee out of a mug, engraved:

Best Mom in the World, as she tells

me she is quitting to be a full time mom.

I gave two weeks notice today. I joined

the gym and signed up for Zumba, Yoga,

Pilates and Aerobics. Moms must be fit.

When I arrive for dinner at her four-story

home on the hill overlooking La Jolla

Beach, a middle-aged woman answers the door.


Madame is soaking in the bubble bath

before she dresses for dinner. She escorts

me into the family room where a young

fit brunette in a pony tail and jogging suit

is putting shoes on the toddler.  Four

blond boys greet me with a curtsy and a smile.


I play scrabble with the six- and eight-year-olds

while bouncing the toddler on my knee

as the four-year-old stares with saucer eyes.

Whiskey, vodka or rum? the tall suit

says as he sticks his head in the room.

Just a glass of ice water will be fine.


The kitchen door swings open and a man

in a chef’s apron and hat exits with my water

as the scent of meatloaf and mushrooms

mixes with musk and lavender on her skin

as madame waltzes down the stairs

in stiletto heels and turquoise gown.


We’re going to the country club, she announces.

handing me a slinky red dress that fits like a stocking.

I told you not to touch mommy. It’s adult time,

she says as the nannies whisk away the boys.

Isn’t she the best mom? asks her husband

as we get into the Maserati and drive away.