Friday, April 27, 2012


"Good news" Stephen Lewandowski writes, "I have source of wild leeks and will be offering potato/wild leek soup for one of the meals."


Sons of the Mothers, Daughters
of the Father

  will provoke a change
now that sex is thoroughly (utterly) re
psychology (the horse sacred to
Poseidon) “evolved” materialism was also

a stone in a stream, a step, a foot

to kick with (hermetic studies) still
forever will be and now the empty tomb
       (womb) attests
our (listen: outward is
a comprehension, once spoken of as down
and up, Euclidean Dante geometry as of

this morning any higher ups (further
           outs) no one is anything more or less
the extent of content, theology
of neighborhood, i.e. everyone who lives
by intersection with

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


                                               KENNETH WARREN

                       Kenneth Warren at  Charles Olson Centenary Conference June 2010
Born in New York City in 1953, Kenneth Warren is a civic journalist,
editor, independent scholar, public librarian, and poet. He obtained a
BA and MLS from SUNY Buffalo  He is the founder and editor of House
Organ, a letter of poetry and prose. He is a founding member of The
Lakewood Observer, a newspaper experiment in civic journalism. He was
an associate editor for Contact II, a poetry review, and Alternative
Press, a music magazine. He introduced and edited with Fred Whitehead
The Whole Song: Selected Poems by Vincent Ferrini (University of
Illinois Press, 2004). His two collections of poetry are Rock/the
Boat: Book One (Oasis Press, 1998) and The Wandering Boy (Flo Press,
1979). Captain Poetry’s Sucker Punch: A Guide to the Homeric Punkhole,
1980 – 2012, a collection of essays, will be published in 2012. He
lives in Ransomville, New York.

Here are a few poems found in the FROM BUFFALO OUT  bundle:

from: Rock/The Boat

Batman Theme
Going by the Mayan calendar,
I Batman is a root mantra.

Limbo Rock

I tied
By rhyme and reason
A funereal rock
To the umbilicus of limbo;
Then I crinkled,
Enchained within
The checkered past
Of every boy and girl.

Mr. Lonely

Dingus Day
Dark is night

Surfin’ Bird

The Trashmen so perfectly beheld
The bird in the finger tree

Anyone in Arizona could lift it
To defy the sacred line in thin air


                         John Roche at Kenhome neighborhood in Elsmere, New York

John Roche is an Associate Professor of English at Rochester Institute of Technology, and also the current President of the Just Poets organization. He earned his PhD from SUNY Buffalo, studying with Robert Creeley and John C. Clarke. His full-length poetry collections, Topicalities (2008) and On Conesus (2005) are available from Foothills Publishing (Kanona, NY). His poems have appeared in magazines like Yellow Medicine Review, Flurb, House Organ, Rootdrinker, Big Bridge, Jack Magazine, Interim, Intent, Woodstock Journal, Burning World, and in several anthologies. He edited the collection Uncensored Songs for Sam Abrams (Spuyten Duyvil, 2008), co-edited Doing Time to Cleanse My Mind (FootHills, 2009), and edited Martha Rittenhouse Treichler’s Black Mountain to Crooked Lake: Poems 1948-2010, with a Memoir of Black Mountain College (FootHills 2010). His latest book of poems, Road Ghosts, published by theenk Books (Palmyra, NY), is available from Small Press Distribution  <
 and is also featured in Big Bridge # 15 at Recent readings include Talking Leaves Books, Buffalo, Caffé Lena, Saratoga Springs; Little Theatre Café, Rochester; Different Path Gallery, Brockport, NY; Greenwood Books, Rochester; Writers & Books, Rochester; Harvest Café, Montour Falls, NY; Olean Public Library; the Grey Hair Series, Buffalo; and Acequia Book Sellers, East of Edith series, and Fixed and Free series, Albuquerque. A chapbook titled the joe poems is scheduled to appear later this year from FootHills Publishing.

Here is a video of John Roche at RIT's Innovation Center II  backed by the Handmade Orchestra


                                                     Stephen Lewandowski at Voorheesville Public Library

Stephen Lewandowski has worked as an environmental educator and consultant in the western Finger Lakes for  thirty years. He is a founder of the Coalition for Hemlock and Candise Lakes and the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Task Force and worked on the development of watershed management plans for many of the Finger Lakes and Lake Ontario.

A member of Rootdrinker Institute, Lewandowski is co-editing issue 18 of Rootdrinker Magazine with magazine founder Alan Casline of Delmar, N.Y. Healso released a small book of poems, Digging Wild Soils,  published in 2009 by Delmar’s Benevolent Bird Press and in 2010 a book 
O LUCKY ONE, his tenth's small book of poems since 1974, published by FootHills Publishing.

When I visit
she puts me in the spare room
with a bed, a desk, her books,
two meditation pillows and a brass Buddha.
The room is warm—I need only a light blanket—
and its walls are white.
Over the bed hangs a mandala.
Siamese cats visit me in the night.

Waking up, floor boards under my feet,
Gotama greets, one hand raised.
Bronze of the bell hanging beside his shrine
holds a long, singing note.
Dieffenbachia roots in a glass, blind
white rootlets, leaf arches over the Buddha.

A woodcut shows a gigantic man
smiling and directing a tiny traveler.
He is a traveler because his things
are done up in a bum’s knotted handkerchief.
He is tiny because the giant is pointing
to a distant mountain.

I’ve come with Snyder’s Fudo
and a beefsteak begonia to give away.
That done, I feel myself becoming tinier yet;
o white walls, white ceiling
brass Buddha setting on wood,
that mountain is huge
and so far away;
can’t I stay here with you?

Stephen Lewandowski


Our friend Craig around town
right away you’d notice
his short arms. He was a short
guy anyway but his arms
were really short. Bustling
down the street, he’d always
carry a pack of tickets
in his breast pocket--
to get you into the Trooper’s Club,
a chance at the Rotary 50-50, or
the Hatch Hose Lucky Number.
He’d stop to talk, “Hey, how’s it going?”
and you’d be looking away
from those tickets, but couldn’t--
I’d try to figure out what great luck
and chance of a lifetime had just
passed me by, but I’d never ask.
“See you later,” you see
once you asked, he had you.
Now that Craig is gone, I wonder,
Did he think I was kind of a stiff?

       Stephen Lewandowski


                                             Will Nixon at Stewards in Voorheesville, New York

Will Nixon keeps Hudson Valley and beyond informed and amused at (Hudson Valley Poetry Blog) and through heads-up e-mails such as the sample below:
The city in my Love in the City of Grudges is Hoboken. I indulged in a Hoboken Week on my blog, posting pieces about Hoboken poets Joel Lewis and Jack Wiler (also an exterminator), plus the greatest, but least likely Hoboken writer of all, Edward Abbey, who wrote Desert Solitaire while stuck in town and frequenting Nelson's Marine Bar. Also, an On the Waterfront story. And a lonely night at Maxwells with the Suicide Commandos.
Michael Perkins, my good friend and co-author of Walking Woodstock, was a book critic for 30 years. He keeps introducing me to important books which, sad to say, I hadn't know of before. Two writers whom I'm now eager to read are William Bronk and Howard McCord. Plus, an interview with Janice King, who graced us for years at the Golden Notebook.
If you're a Hudson Valley hiker, try Beacon Mountain. I hadn't been to the fire tower since the 1980s. Now I've been back three times since the fall. Like Beacon, the mountain has gentrified, except when it hasn't. (You'll see when you get to the end

Will Nixon grew up in the Connecticut suburbs, spent his young adulthood in Hoboken and Manhattan, then moved to a Catskills log cabin in 1996 complete with a wood stove and mice. For years, he wrote environmental journalism, then turned to poetry and personal essays. His work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and listed in Best American Essays 2004. He now lives in Woodstock, NY with a wall thermostat for heat, but still can't get rid of the mice.

Mad Chemist

In the basement I fought World War One in dirt trenches
spread by trowel on the pool table. My mental soldiers
survived firecrackers catapulted by spoons, dive bomb
hand attacks by my little brother, earthquakes from our knees
drumming under the table. My father stopped the war
when Rex the cat began pooping in the dirt: “Your mother
doesn’t want you playing in bacteria.”

So I played mad chemist. I’d invent acid for burning
open safes; freezing fluids for ants, worms, and girls toes.
From brown bottles racked in my chemistry set, I mixed
bad odors and slow fizzles, but nothing burned from matches
dropped down blackened tubes. After my brother ratted,
my father locked the set in his closet: “Your mother
wants you to become a doctor, not a bomb maker.
Think about eating breakfast with no fingers.”

I picked his closet with a paper clip and took my chemistry set
to swamp with a bottle of Mountain Dew to mix my brother
a surprise. This formula would turn his hair blue, soften his teeth
like rubber. I drank my half of the Mountain Dew, then his half,
and held the bottle under slimy water, making it gurgle, until
a mucky head rose, a snapping turtle hooked like a claw.

My brother found the chemistry set in the swamp snow
rusty as an old can with spilled bottles of smelly ice.
My father punished me with no television for polluting
a wetland. He didn’t know the secret of the snapping turtle:
sipping chemicals, glowing green, breathing fire.

                                                              — Will Nixon

Reprinted with permission from My Late Mother as a Ruffed Grouse

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Started to get a few links and comments from Cloudburst participants. Here also is Alan Casline link I had in mind (some poems read at Albany's Word Fest 2011)

                                      ALAN CASLINE

Alan Casline inside Stewards in Voorheesville (photo by Will Nixon)

obeedúid~  sent this:

As per the bIRDs request: Get out your Marshmallows, make your Smores, pull up a stump for a little Cloudburst Campfire Folktale!

obeeduid at Christman Preserve

                                            STEPHEN ELLIS

from Stephen Ellis:

Stephen Ellis at "Soul in Buffalo" Conference

 You can put me down on Cloudburst via a new manuscript, the whole of which (To the Quick) is online at


When the ‘Friendship Among Poets’ chord for Cloudburst Council was struck several months ago via Alan Casline and Kenneth Warren, Stephen Ellis wrote the following suggestions to Warren as an initial response:

"Friendship among poets' strikes a decent chord with me.  Baraban vis-a-vis Tirrell seems really good and true, but then also Al Glover's long-standing relationship with John Clarke, that put the Curriculum of the Soul on the map, etc.

This brings to mind the sense of those in Sufi orders calling one another 'friends,' too, so that 'cloudburst' is in many ways the 'magic citadel,' the 'rock from which the language springs' as well as the 'rock' on which Jesus told Peter to build his church (not to even mention Hasan-i-Sabah’s fort/temple Alamut - also built on high rock – the Isma'ilis, and the entire alchemical blend of magic, belief, creation and politics - the whole ‘rose/eros’ almost ‘fortress’ mentality of the Heart opening to inspire closure around its fragilities and clear toughness), that has always been, or my sense of it, anyway, very basic, geologically, like 'groundwater – having always to dig all the way down to it -' involving for me that Greek word Clarke mentioned somewhere in 'From Feathers to Iron' - 'symplegma' - that is not easily transferable to English, but which carries the sense of 'sympathetic plasma' with it, throughout and among us (fluidity, and the combined flavor of the opaque and the transparent that mix as one’s fluencies): To go back to Sufism, and Islam, it behaves like the 'sap' that runs through all things, 'fire,' 'vision,' call it what we will.  With the deeper evidence beneath the Occupy Wall St movement currently in effect in Syria, where people are actually being killed for this fluid 'emergence,' one might well take up this 'binding elemental'  sympathetically, the 'plasma' and the operable 'stuff' of poetry (and life, etc.,and simply wonder out loud how it works, how the withering Grail King finally figured out (again), that, you know, Oh!  That you do it for, with and among 'your people.'  That would constitute the reality – the 'excessive actualism' - of the Gift, potlatch being basically a rural,or small urban neighborhood phenomenon, and plausibly in that proportion of 'Rootdrinker' interest.  But friendship betrays any overall 'political' situation among groups and persons, and that's the point, anyway, for real friendship is corrosive of any 'idea' that would usefully accumulate anything more than the Shelleyan 'collected lightnings,' so that 'friendship' can never get beyond anything but endless charge and discharge, across whatever cultural grid you got.

If 'friendship' is to be a topic, someone really ought to get it together to talk about Blaser, and those later poems dealing with 'great friends,' Duncan and Spicer, of course, but also Dante, etc.  I mean, the book on that - that sort of friendship - would really be Blaser's neglected 'Even on Sunday,' with its 'recovering the public world' flavor.  That ought to be good for at least a presentation or talk, if not an entire panel.  Or, shit, that would be a solar panel, truly.  And then, there's that book of translations out of Rumi's soulmate Shamsuddin's prose writings, called 'Rumi's Sun,' which has much to do with the mechanism of Vision, and how it must always be made flexible and human . . . and funny (funny ha-ha and 'funny' strange).

So.  This is what I'm thinking at
2 AM, preparing to steam a pound of cod.  And having mentioned this, remembering McNaughton's quote about somebody finally getting down to putting some squid on the table: Isn't that what a thing like 'Cloudburst' ought to really be about?  That is, at least bringing 'something' to the table."


Several months later, as planning for Cloudburst began to coalesce, Ellis sent Ken the below as a ‘Friendship Among Poets’ addendum

“No one has said the word 'love', yet, so there it is.  The result of such 'giving' really ought to be surplus, not just look like it, or how one occasionally gives a glance that way.  If there is communal as well as personal power in the coil of the shaman, it is the power to bind persons together by somehow combining their unlike minds into some kind of usefully 'unified' field, perhaps nothing more than the surplus that flows out on end and feeds the other, that is, the other end of another 'other.'  That is, 'exchange' is not actually about 'equality,' but rather has a lot more to do with Value, in that giving the 'thing' is part of the whole incipient and on-going occasion.  Well,of course one can't just blab on like this as part of a panel.  I would like to 'say something' perhaps less than a cloudburst at Cloudburst, but I've yet to focus in on anything beyond the contrast of Sufis evidently being able to milk so much 'juice' from such dry tundral and desert environments, in some ways similar to the cultural context in present-day America.  Sun Ra is lucky his band's teepee hideout group home didn't at some point get fire-bombed like the MOVE headquarters in Philly did.  Remember that bumber sticker from a few years back, YOU GOT MILK?  Ultimately, that ain't no joke.”

To which Ken replied:

”I'm with you, babe. I was just covering respiration on the Titanic and the I-Chinged genome yesterday with another friend. My point:
Your account is solid, and your inclination to hold these "self-evident truths" loosely is wise. Otherwise the archons will bear down too forcefully on the psyche, I would suppose, giving the ego an undeserved altar for its own self-suffocation. One must always posit excess and exit via the breath as prayer. Otherwise there can be no sacrifice and the suffering will remain without ether - existential and impoverished.”

Monday, April 9, 2012


Next big step for the Cloudburst Council was to invite and confirm participants. I know there will be the usual flux and change of plans right up to the weekend. There always is. As was mailed out to people we have a schedule that divides the weekend up with poets and panels and open time for enjoying the landscape. The final schedule will be shaped by the poets at the event. It is really exciting to imagine all of us being together. In many cases it will be old friends seeing each other for the first time in awhile and also people meeting for the first time. The probability is most of us will know about half of the people there to start with. We still have a ways to go but here is the narrative on the program development. First off the schedule included panels we brainstormed-up over dinner at a meeting last November in Rochester, New York. Having a mixture of solo poetry presentations of thirty minutes and panel discussions of one hour seems settled. Ken Warren of House Organ sent an e-mail update on the Ides of March, "What seems to be striking the sweetest chord with friends to whom I've spoken about participating in the panels is "Friendship Among Poets." He goes on to suggest:

I want to re-frame the panels and bring them into a closer confluence with Cloudburst

The Magic Citadel

The Plasma of Friendship

Economy and Friendship


If I plug Ken's panels into the existing framework this is how our updated program works (below). Ken had ideas about particular poets for some of these panels and as we move farther along we'll all see the apples hanging on the tree. Ken said and I agree"Let's process this together and attempt to organize ourselves in a way that feels good, stimulates vision and achieves purpose."



 5-7 Registration
 5-7 Light Dinner Served (soup, bread, green salad or on your own)
 7-8 Panel - The Magic Citadel
 8:10-8:30 Poesy
 8:50-9:50 Panel - The Plasma of Friendship
 10-10:20 Poesy
 10:20-10:40 Wrap-up
 10:41 Party


 8:30-10 Breakfast Served (oatmeal,cereal,fruit,pastry,etc.)
 10-11 - Cloudburst
 11:10 - 11:50 - Poesy
 Noon- 1 Panel - Economy and Friendship
 1:10 - 1:30 Poesy
 1:30 Lunch Served (cold sandwiches bag lunch)
 Open Time 1:30 - 4

Tour of Seneca Point of Emergence with Steve Lewandowski (optional)

 4-4:20 Poesy
 4:30-5:00 Poesy
 5:30 - 7 Dinner (hot vegetarian etc.)
 7-10 - Open Reading
 10-10:10 Wrap-up
 10:11 Campfire Party


 9:30-11 Brunch (like Saturday Breakfast plus eggs and meat)
 9:30-11 Trade Fair
 11:10-12:10 Panel Gift
 12:20 - 1 Further

The idea for the Trade Fair is for those who want to trade to bring things they want to Trade or Gift.  It would be poetry books, broadsides, post card poems but also art work, seeds, plants, trees, pickles, dried corn, feathers, stones, really whatever the imagination allows. Our attendance is limited to thirty-five so it could be thirty-five of something or it could be two or three or one of a kind. The panel after the Trade Fair is Gift, based in part on Lewis Hyde’s book The Gift.

During open time on Saturday afternoon (1:30 – 4:00 pm) Steven Lewandowski will lead an expedition to a landscape where legend place the emergence of the Seneca people from one world by way of this opening to this world. Steve will also share some of his knowledge of the Finger Lakes watershed.



When we first divided up responsibilities Stephen Lewandowski was self-assigned to the role of Greek Chorus. Trying to find a weekend that fit everyones schedule and had the Gell Center available had me looking for free weekends in April. While in the middle of that process The Chorus spoke.

BEWARE of moving the date earlier
because up in them hills, the winter
is slow to leave and leaves behind much
mud, frozen ground and slippery slides.
The road to Gell is not great, the parking
worse, and snows last until May under
the dark groves.  Beware their glitter.
I scheduled something at Gell in
early April when in the lowlands
the zlotis and pinkups were in bloom
but behold there was an awful icestorm
that tore down trees, closed the roads,
and snuffed the electricity.  It was a cold time
and my nose ran for a week straight.
I said, "Nevermore shall I plan poetry readings
at Gell Center in April," and I have not unto this day.
So TAKE HEED ye flatlanders
these hills are slow to thaw
and schedule later.
                    The Chorus
The singing was pretty bad but the message from the The Chorus rang true.
The Greek Chorus has spoken
windows do rattle
tables do shake
I would trust luck
but my luck has a hole in its pocket
and my boots have holes in them too
and so does my plan
Travel through storms
tires skid, spin out or in that strange netherlands
don't quite firmly grip, kind of float
like the beautiful slow meander of the Normanskill
across the top of the asphalt road
queasy feeling like seeing the check arrive
when out for dinner with John Roche
don't want to study anymore ditches
even though I be friend
to a ditch connoisseur
April is a cruel month
The Greek Chorus ain't nobodies fool
I say we heed the raspery song
and wait for the warmer season
when the snakes have returned to their nests
in the boxes of letters in the basement
and the smart and colorful bird returns to the shore
of Lake Ontario to see the water turns from green to blue
(both posts on October 31, 2011)

There was a bit of concern as the I-Ching hexagram #43 Break-through was the original toss used to indicate the image and energy of Cloudburst. A bit of research into the Chinese calendar showed "The hexagram is linked with the third month [April-May]". The Gell Center was available and that is how we ended up scheduled in May and not April.