Thursday, May 25, 2023

GAS Featured Poet: Paul Hostovsky

 Paul Hostovsky makes his living in Boston as a sign language interpreter. His poems have won a Pushcart Prize, two Best of the Net Awards, the FutureCycle Poetry Book Prize, The Comstock Review’s Muriel Craft Bailey Award, and have been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and The Writer’s Almanac. His newest book of poems, Pitching for the Apostates, is forthcoming in 2023 from Kelsay Books.  Website:


Yesterday I couldn’t remember the word colander,

a word I love and have always thought of

as one of those words that’s lovelier than the thing 

itself. I was holding the thing itself in my hands,

the steaming angel hair pasta draining in the sink, 

when I looked at the colander and thought to myself, 

“What is the name of this thing?” And maybe it’s age,

and maybe it’s the beginning of something more

pernicious, but in the end we have to let go 

of everything. We have to let go of every single 

thing and its name. And because I have always loved 

the names of things more than the things themselves

I stood at the sink missing colander, loving it more

than the colander, more than the angel hair pasta 

that I chewed abstractedly over dinner, trying to locate 

colander in my mouth, where it used to live

until it disappeared–its three slippery syllables like

three spaghetti noodles in a pot of fungible spaghetti noodles. 

And today, when I finally remembered it–found it right

where I’d left it–I whispered it to myself over and over

like a lover whispering the name of a lost beloved

who returns, but is untrue, and will disappear again.


My mother’s new house 

was the third house on the left, 

the one with the big rock in the front yard–

you couldn’t miss it. This was

on the third rock from the sun, the one 

with billions of people on it–you couldn’t

leave it, not even if you died

six months after retiring and moving to Boston 

to be closer to your grandchildren. It was 

a nondescript rock, a boulder really, 

that the builder probably decided on a lark

to leave there: a sort of lawn ornament,

a sort of landmark. Sandstone or limestone

or maybe shale. She’ll have a hard time 

selling it with that rock in front, said my wife. 

She won’t sell it, I said. She’s not leaving.

She died six months later, suddenly, unexpectedly, 

a bacterial infection that overwhelmed her overnight. 

We never found out how she got it. There are 

more bacteria living on your skin

than people living on the third rock from the sun. 

My son liked to climb it when we visited. 

He was only 4. His sister was 2. They don’t 

remember the rock and they don’t remember 

my mother. The buyer said he didn’t like the rock

but it wasn’t a dealbreaker. The two of us stood

in the front yard negotiating. I told him 

it was a great landmark–you couldn’t miss it. 

I told him my kids liked to climb it. I told him 

my mother lived here only six months–she hadn’t even

hung her pictures yet. Suddenly, unexpectedly, 

I started to weep. He put his hand on my shoulder

to console me, this stranger, this buyer, a tender

gesture that only made it worse, and I began to sob 

uncontrollably. I hid my face in my hands

and turned away from him, and faced the rock.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Featured Poet: Mark Saba

 Mark Saba has been writing fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction for 40 years. His most recent book publication is Flowers in the Dark (poetry). Other works include Calling the Names (poetry), Two Novellas: A Luke of All Ages / Fire and Ice, and Ghost Tracks: Stories of Pittsburgh Past. His work has appeared widely in literary magazines around the U.S. and abroad. He is also a painter, and recently retired from Yale University as a medical illustrator and graphic designer. Please see

Louis Rakes The Hedges


Louis rakes the hedges clean,

leaving me with tangled thoughts

watching from the window.


He works with one bandaged arm,

stooping carefully, digging out debris

and carrying it off like a box

full of puppies.


Yesterday I cleaned the hearth

and scattered rose petals over the remnant

ash. Their red lips circle in the white

and ignite flames of memory

where once charred logs stood.


This spring we see flowers developing

in all stages; that common freak, weather,

has torn us again, leaving the magnolia

two weeks behind, and the hyacinths

double-stalked. I will wait


and let Louis comb the yard,

setting in the even parts

and picking up the pieces

of a winter of storms.


And I will wait for another cold day

when the rose petals have all dried

and their scent blazes the dusty air

in the crackling flames of chance.


Switching Glasses


Mine are new, triple-focus

lenses, requiring some getting used to.


Hers haven’t changed since her fourth-grade

eye examination, a lifetime


of fumbling in the dark, zeroing in

on my lips, cleaning contacts.


So now, after fifteen years, we switch

glasses. “You look cute in mine,” she says.


To me, all is equally blurry.

“Wo!” She pulls back. “These make me


dizzy.” We look around—profiles

of curious chickens—then give


each other back. Comfort

lies in our individual worlds


and the infinite getting-to-know

from our views of finite selves.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

GAS Featured Poet and Musician: Suchoon Mo


Suchoon Mo, Korean Army veteran, lives in the semiarid part of Colorado.   He  came to the US under sponsorship of an US Army war veteran with Bronze Medal with Valor.   He pursued higher education and received his Ph.D. in psychology from University of Pennsylvania.  He is a professor emeritus of Colorado State University, Pueblo.    He is the author of a number of scholarly monographs and research articles dealing mostly with time perception and time perspective.    His poetry and music composition appear in Seattle Star, Fishfood Magazine, Kissing Dynamite,Jonah Magazine, Modern Literature, Ephemeral Elegy, North of Oxford, Scarlet Leaf Review, Literary Nest, Modern Literature, Modern Poets Magazine, Snake Skin, Dissident Editions, Aji Magazine.   And others.  Both in music and poetry, he tends go on opposite direction of modernism.    In fact, his first two poems in English were published along with a poem by William Carlos  Williams in "East and West" in India in 1959, a few years after he left Korea and arrived in the US as a war veteran.

Ballad Of War
an old requiem
is my serenade
I no longer sing
rusted machine guns
buried mines
they are mute
deep in the mountains
far in time since gone
beyond and beyond
memory does not age
it only fades away
to the place where I was once

In The Paradise
in the middle of the desert
there is a kingdom
in the middle of the kingdom
there is a casino
in the middle of the casino
there is a chapel
in the middle of the chapel
there is a casket
the casket is empty
you are in the paradise

one gray autumn day
it was raining
there was a railroad station
long abandoned since
she stood there alone
wet and cold
the train left
I never saw her again
I am now old
and she was young
A Mantra

under a full moon

one solitary monk
recites a mantra
in a temple

under a full moon
one thousand frogs
recite a mantra
in a pond

Keep Going

leave the temple behind
leave the cemetery behind

keep going

a stranger in a strange land
you have come this far

keep going

find the place far away
where you died once

keep going
Two Shadows

two shadows
on the road
going somewhere
or elsewhere

side by side
close together

one is mine
the other one is yours
isn't it?

going somewhere
or elsewhere
or nowhere

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Su Zi's Review of Charlotte and the Chickenman: The Inevitable Nigressence of Charlotte-Noa Tibbit


  It is not often that an experienced reader will encounter a contemporary novel that has the intricacy, the layering and the joy of a literary text, but Aina Hunter’s Charlotte and the Chickenman: The Inevitable Nigressence of Charlotte-Noa Tibbit  ( Whiskey Tit 2022) is such a work. While the publisher, and a review by Jesi Buell (exactingclam) emphasize the postmodern narrative structure of the work, using phrases such as “Afrofuturistic” (WhiskeyTit) or “grotesque that unfolds in a surreality that hovers between dream and nightmare”(Buell), these aspects serve as evidence to posit the work as postmodernism. Indeed, an exhibition of the most famous—and exploited—of Black American postmodernist painters, Jean-Michele Basquiat, serves well as an iconic graphic of Black postmodernism for anyone but the most culturally obtuse. As a linguistic work, Buell’s review concludes with the provocative phrase,” visual success made textual” and describes the work as “experimental”, to perhaps warn a more casual reader.

  Yet postmodernism in poetry has long been known to challenge existent notions; Hoover’s extensive essay introducing the Norton does state that postmodernism, “opposes centrist values […]and any heroic portrayal of the bourgeois self and its concerns’(xxxv); that a prose work would exist as such almost classically, requires a view into the work beyond that of Hunter’s fascinating characters and overall structure. The reader, however, gets splashed into the text with the title of the first chapter, and the experienced reader might give a bit of a yelp. Chapter titles table of contents start with “White Meat” and include a line of synopsis; further chapter titles include “Blood Bed”,  “Refuge for the Wretched”, and the earworm worthy “Gracious Living”. There’s a strength of voice here that the reader might fear is a promise unkept, but Hunter’s opening line is equally delicious: “ If you ever get the chance to try a really fine thigh-steak –a citrus-marinated, pepper-roasted steak du thigh – you’ll want to give yourself time to prepare”(2). The reader, having cast eye over table of contents, chapter heading page, chapter epigram, is faced with a text involving dashes, but which draws in the reading mind by discussing food.

  Food is a primary metaphor in this novel as symbol, and didactic point. Even grocery store advertisements use new flavors in food to bridge xenophobia, and general understanding of ethnicities includes food. That the novel begins with a colloquial sermon on protein sources puts the reader at the table with the characters. It is through these characters that Hunter begins a multiple strain of language variances that are maintained throughout the text. Use of multiple languages in a text can be a slammed door to neophyte readers, but Hunter’s clever use of these variances to describe food, to be spoken by characters, and to describe the speculative culture by use of invented phrases and proper nouns serves to tour guide the reader both gently and elegantly: “Ti’Luc, accepting a fresh dish of oil from his server, changed the subject. ‘Many people are still eating farmed animal bone-meat in the States, pas non?’ (11)”. A reader familiar with the Creole of the Louisiana and Haitian cultures mentioned in the novel will be more familiar with these linguistic flavors, but Hunter is adept and keeps enough of our familiar language to keep the work flowing.

  Language is not the only variable used in the text, as chapter three is written as a script, with a change in font. These transgressions to standard notions of the novel are structurally deft, as the following chapter contains both an illustration and a first-person account of being bedborn and bleeding. The novel follows this apparent early climax with a speculative chapter taking the point of view of a factory farm pig, with jumps in time following the protagonist, and ending with the character’s infancy. 

   By challenging notions of language, of narrative structure, of imagery and point of view, this novel’s postmodern construction allows the author to challenge many other notions, most notably being our concept of food. Hunter goes to some length to discuss our institutions of eating: from table manners, “his mothers also drew their spoons north” (5), to spices “Sassafras! Genuis, Cherie!”(7) to our cultural habits of feasting “they feasted for days! They drank wine and rum and they laughed and talked story— “(33). That the narrative also employs such critical philosophical terms as Eurin-Colonial, and African-American Vernacular allows the reader to sip the parodic titling of social and governmental institutions in the novel’s futurism that forms the work’s setting.

   While some readers might find the retrocede of contemporary work to be worrisome, those who seek better intellectual nourishment will find subsistence in this novel; however, what the reader choses as a snack might be given reconsideration. For the experienced reader for whom rereading rewards with deeper vision, this work provides ample meat.


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.