Tuesday, August 30, 2022

GAS Featured Poet: Jim Murdoch


Jim Murdoch has been writing poetry for fifty years and has graced the pages of many now-defunct literary magazines and websites and a few, like Ink, Sweat and TearsThe Lake and Eclectica, that are still hanging on in there. For ten years he ran the literary blog The Truth About Lies but now lives in relative obscurity in Scotland with his wife and (occasionally) next door’s cat. He has published two books of poetry, a short story collection and four novels.

I Have No Words

In Memoriam Birdy

Most pains find their way into words readily
and there are so many to choose from.
Words and pain go way back.

That said words cannot always be relied upon.
Nature made pain, humans, words;
there were bound to be issues,

to wit, I know of no word or combination of words
that comes close to containing all I feel right now.
They’re all too refined, too evolved, too damn fiddly.

A scream likely would do the trick.
It's a kind of word: primal, natural,
language at its rawest.

The Rule of Three

My bird has died.
I feel very clingy
and follow my wife
like a little stray pup.
Please don't die.

Things die all the time
but mostly in threes.
If my wife dies I’ll be alone
and I don't want to die alone.
I should buy a plant in case.

I wouldn't mind if a plant died.

The Natural Order

My bird has died and
I can't stop writing poems.
I'm so conflicted.
I like writing poems but
I miss my bird too.
I tell myself I'm keeping
him alive in the
poems (some small part of him)
but that's not it, no.
I couldn't stop him dying
any more than I
can deny these words their right
to life.
           What does the
world need, another bird or
another bloody poem?

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

GAS Featured Poet: Lana Hechtman Ayers

Lana Hechtman Ayers makes her home in an Oregon coastal town of more cows than people. As managing editor at three small presses, she has shepherded over eighty poetry collections into print. She holds MFAs in Poetry and in Writing Popular Fiction, as well as degrees in Mathematics and Psychology. Her work appears in numerous print and online literary journals such as Rattle, The MacGuffin, and Peregrine, as well as in her nine poetry collections and a romantic time travel novel. Visit her online at LanaAyers.com.

Things You Will Learn About Me After It’s Too Late

after Brian Trimboli

As soon as I could hold a crayon I wrote

poems, one about a bunny who had no tail.

I wanted to grow up to be an astronaut

so I could escape the gravity of childhood.

My first crush was on the winter night sky.

In a crowd of people, mosquitoes swarm me.

Sleep was never a friend.

Barbie, a sworn enemy with her wasp waist

and long, straight blonde locks.

I could never grow my natural afro hair

much below my ears.

Hula hoops and I reached a truce.

I have failed at everything,

some things more than once,

some things a thousand times.

This hasn’t stopped me.

The forest canopy is my adopted family.

Coffee is a verb.

Poetry is breakfast.

My heartbeat’s aligned with

the Atlantic Ocean’s pulse.

Klutz, I have spent my entire life falling.

First, in love with darkness, then shadow.

Once, I rolled down a hill and would have

kept rolling forever except for my head

colliding with a cedar tree—

thankfully the tree was unharmed.

I trip over words, especially goodbye.

I fell into Mathematics as a major

in college and am still solving for x.

Stumbled into the oblivion of

Earl Grey ice cream.

I teeter on the see-saw of self-loathing

but a fulcrum of constant panic

balances things out nicely.

My life story is the autobiography of rain.

GAS Featured Poet: Tohm Bakelas


Tohm Bakelas is a social worker in a psychiatric hospital. He was born in New Jersey, resides there, and will die there. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, zines, and online publications. He is the author of 19 chapbooks and several collections of poetry, including No Destination (Kung Fu Treachery Press, 2021) and The Ants Crawl In Circles (Whiskey City Press, 2022). He runs Between Shadows Press. 


getting paid for poetry

i use an uncashed check
as a bookmark
in all these
poetry books
i read.

the check states: “1 poem,
Five dollars + zero cents”

how’s that for irony?

i finally got paid for poetry
but never cashed the check—

it’s too late now,
the publisher folded

maybe the $5 was
too much to swing.


black wheezing thing 


i stood there 

at the end of my driveway, 

staring at the  

black wheezing thing  

flailing inside the 

fox’s mouth,  

wondering what it could be— 

bird, cat, opossum, pig, child, 

something un- 



i couldn’t tell because  

the thing, the black wheezing  

thing, didn’t have a head 


the word soul kept  

flashing through my mind 

and i thought about religion 

and sorrow and life and death 


and the fox smiled  

as if it could read my mind 


and that’s when the rain started 

and i turned away 

Monday, August 15, 2022

Su Zi's Review of "As Meaningful As Any Other " by Donna Snyder

   In our terrifying times of overt misogyny now, a view of women’s history can serve us well. There are artifacts aplenty, and each is a symbol of a way of life and a world view. Beyond batik and blarney are rituals that are tied to self-sustenance and self-agency. Every culture that has women has women’s ways, sometimes hidden in hairdo, but nonetheless a ritual of feminine celebration.

   Poetry has a well-established place in women’s history, and the ongoing efforts to suppress and marginalize women’s voices is endless evidence. Thus, offered to us as a new release is Donna Snyder’s As Meaningful As Any Other (Gutter Snob 2022), a perfect bound volume in trade size; an illustrated volume, with a number of images by Tezozomoc. The book is structured in sections, and each section has an image as a frontispiece, with one being repeated on the cover. The images themselves are digital art, saturated and warm toned, that employ a collage of a human woman and symbols such as antlers, roots, and our planet. The sections of the work are also titled symbolically, using roots, auguries, flight, awakening and crossroads. Snyder has taken fragments from other of her work and uses these as an introduction to each section, such as a fragment entitled “woman smiles” that opens the second section “auguries”:

   Woman smiles, her face starred, exotic birds tattooed around her mouth, beneath her eyes, around her nose […] (11) that squares off the reader with this vision of the Divine Feminine.

   The poems here are perhaps also prayers, with both overt and subtle symbolism.  The last section of this text, “Crossroads”, includes the poem “ Her blood, a faded ribbon” that whispers of the moment when menstruation ceases, “ Her blood faded/ only a ribbon covered with dust”(46), a moment notable in women’s lives but rarely overtly celebrated. If the poems here are rituals, then the rituals themselves often involve visiting art museums and reading other poets as well. However, there’s also mention of acts of intimacy, such as “this little rhyme that filled my head upon awakening” with the lovely line “my lips awash in the taste of your unbathed back” (32). This is writing that is as much an account of a life as a collection of correspondence, there’s a tone of a woman telling her confident of the desert and the desert city’s denizens.

   Written in a hybrid of free verse and prose, these pieces seem to echo from the lineage from which they draw. The book’s last piece, “Fool’s Moon” opens with the line “The Fool’s Moon leads ineluctably to darkness” (53) which goes on the include a dancing ritual of:

   Moon paints snakes on her face. Copper bells ring. She dances, peculiarly festooned, as if time really exists […]

While the Fool’s Moon is now a minimally celebrated event, occurring every 28 years, ritualized dancing is still very much entrenched in both women’s and the wider, western culture. And while some readers may be mystified at the symbolism employed by Snyder, the symbols are common to certain types of tarot cards. There’s a sense of a tarot reading in this work, the sections and the admonitions, prayers and reminders that prompt each piece. The draw that would encompass the evidence given here speaks to the full moon and meteor shower that read this work since its arrival as a book. While this may amuse, it would be wise for booksellers of tarot too to include this volume in their inventory. And while a tarot draw, or a tarot-style poem draw might maybe remind us of our celestial seasons, there are those who are comforted by history, by this quiet and ancient wisdom.

GAS Interview with Donna Snyder

Su Zi is a writer, poet and essayist who produces a handmade chapbook series called Red Mare. She has been a contributor to GAS from back when it was called Gypsy Art Show, more than a decade ago.


Check out her author page on Amazon.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

GAS Featured Poet: Jefferson Carter


    Jefferson Carter has poems in such journals as Barrow Street, Cream City ReviewRattle, and New Poets of the American West.  His eleventh collection, Birkenstock Blues, was released by Presa Press (Rockford, MI) in 2019 and may be ordered through his website: jeffersoncarterverse.com

    Carter has lived in Tucson, AZ, since 1953 and taught composition and poetry writing full-time for 30 years at Pima Community College.  Currently, he’s a passionate supporter of Sky Island Alliance, a regionally-based environmental organization.



For convenience, I & my life partner

(the woman formerly known as my wife)
have numbered our arguments.  Number 3, 

you’re so negative.  Number 8, you’re 

naive.  Number 11, another beer already?  

Number 13, you don’t listen to me.
But I do.  I just don’t agree.  Now

my life partner’s on the couch, watching

Live P.D.  She’s pleased with the police,

so kind to the miscreants & trailer trash

they apprehend.  Of course, they’re

kind!  They’re on camera!  Without 

looking at me, she holds up three fingers.

My life partner wants to make a deal:
she’ll stop storing our broken pepper mill
upright in the spice rack, pepper everywhere 

like coarse soot, she’ll store the mill

on its side if I stop switching off the light 

over the dining-room table whenever

she’s in another room.  Why?  Why
does she need that light on all day?
She raises both fists & opens each one

twice. Number 20, you don’t love me.

Monday, August 8, 2022

GAS Featured Poet: John Dorsey


John Dorsey lived for several years in Toledo, Ohio. He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Teaching the Dead to Sing: The Outlaw's Prayer (Rose of Sharon Press, 2006), Sodomy is a City in New Jersey (American Mettle Books, 2010), Tombstone Factory, (Epic Rites Press, 2013), Appalachian Frankenstein (GTK Press, 2015) Being the Fire (Tangerine Press, 2016) and Shoot the Messenger (Red Flag Poetry, 2017),Your Daughter's Country (Blue Horse Press, 2019), Which Way to the River: Selected Poems 2016-2020 (OAC Books, 2020), Afterlife Karaoke (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2021) and Sundown at the Redneck Carnival, (Spartan Press, 2022).. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and the Stanley Hanks Memorial Poetry Prize. He was the winner of the 2019 Terri Award given out at the Poetry Rendezvous. He may be reached at archerevans@yahoo.com.

These poems, along with several hundred others, are part of a larger erasure collection entitled Pocatello Wildflower, which examines the words of a group of Idaho writers who worked primarily from the 1970’s to the 1990’s, including the late Bruce Embree, who really got the ball rolling in my head and heart, with a few still working today. It is my great hope that folks will be interested in the original writers work, in addition to my own. These pieces in particular were taken from the work of Kim Stafford. Pocatello Wildflower will be available in 2023 from Crisis Chronicles Press.

Red Cloud Heart

a wild death
a lonesome girl’s
trembling hands

a strange little country
flying forever

wind gathering a prairie
of mercy in her hair.

The Fields Die

paradise folded her hands
into pure wild song
holy umbilical music
the quilt
my mother pieced
into shadows.

A Fierce Young Breath

a frozen hour trembles
ghosts bark
lost in our beds

dog listeners

a dark vigil
delivers the frost.

The Sea of Goats

the tangled river
a long wood carved mountain
the small thigh of a bear
she begins to weave skin
& wander the crags
through thickets
swimming weighted streams
of hunger
through the meadow.

My Father a Bird

sweetness without old bees.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

GAS Featured Poet: Robert Beveridge


Robert Beveridge (he/him) makes noise (xterminal.bandcamp.com) and writes poetry in Akron, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in Of Rust and Glass, The Museum of Americana, and Quill and Parchment, among others.

“Women your age have decided/wars and the beat/of poems”
--William Carlos Williams, “Suzy

No one would ever mistake
you for one of those waif-
like models, those relics
to be found on televisions
and strip club stages,
the “everyman's fantasy”
every man is content
to leave with the remote
or at the door

Lebanese with a left
turn at Ireland, short, strong,
solid. A subterranean passageway
that is also a foundation.
You move and buildings tumble.

It is in your arms, tight
around me, and deep
in the pools of your eyes,
the slight squint that comes
along with every smile.
It resonates
in your voice, high
as a jockey's, and just
as athletic.
It is in your paintings
and your scars.

*            *            *

I draw you as the Acropolis
upon the half-shell, the birth
of redheaded Venus as done,
say, by Rubens. No knee-length
tresses to cover you, naked
and wet from a dance in a thunderstorm,
a trickle of seafoam
against the inside of your thigh.

Those who gathered to watch
stroke you with fans made
from the petals of calla lilies,
your curves brushed, aglow
in white, red, purple.

*            *            *

The old saw states
the scars
are the beauty marks
of a life lived,
the badges of honor
from distant wars.

A network thick as cables
come together below
and between your breasts.

What doctors may have taken
is replaced now
with the deep gunmetal grey
of your eyes.
I cannot but kiss your scars
and call you beautiful.