collect for a dark evening, with video

beloved, you were like octopus
proceeding in pulsing clouds
of black ink

calamitous designs
sprang whole from your mind
and exploded into life
as flying steel and iron-toothed trap

it was always my bone, my muscle
they mangled and spat out

you hurled us into chill wars
fought in forests of spider trees
against aging warriors
whose battle rhythm was not ours
but you always fought longest
and fell last

now you cross
the miles of destruction between us
hunting my last thought, lamenting
in this derelict church

the flutes are silent
I say, weeping

you say: don’t fall into the moat
something lives there
and it eats

you say: death
is a blooming rose

Easter poem & remembering Paul Stevens


I woke from my nap and heard the goldfish
whistling. I got up and pressed my face
to the glass: Goldfish,
I said. Please stop.
It unpuckered its tiny orange lips
but didn’t stop whistling.

I went outside and a warm blanket
of bees fell upon me.
That’s it, I said,
but the thrumming crept
into my ears like dormice
and you threw a bucket of sun
over me and I became so bright
I closed my eyes.

That was my first-ever published poem, accepted in 2006 by Paul Stevens, late editor of the Shit Creek Review, The Chimaera and The Flea, who died last week. Paul had a wonderful sense of humor (check out this last message!) and was a tremendous force-multiplier in the poetry blogosphere. Read an interview with him from Very Like A Whale’s Ten Questions for Poetry Editors series.

RIP, Paul, and thanks for everything.

‘Gabriel in love’ – videopoem


‘Gabriel in love’
by Nic Sebastian

granite tunnels do not scare her
nor does the hot streaking
of any blood

she knows the heft and scent
of the lines by which monsters
track her

her name is insistence
gates open at her will
questions follow her
like locust swarm

she has no need of the ground
beneath her feet
she fears neither cold
nor solitude

she is solitude
and cold, she is blue water
flooding, poison moonlight
in your veins

she wakes the ancestors
of your dreams in all their rage
she raises blue rain
and black leaves, heavy stars
of white ice

she is bright woven, Gabriel
a straight-flying dagger

and you, Gabriel, are simple fountains
of rainbow blood, mere castles
of fairytale pain

first published at Canopic Jar

Camera: C.D. Schulz & Martin Gurtner

Music: ‘Pulsar’ by Max Loginov and the Tunguska Electronic Music Society

This footage made me happy for its abstraction.

‘this time next year’ – videopoem


this time next year
by Nic Sebastian

your name is Ladislaus
you will come to me

as small black boat
on thirst-red sea

your sail made of hurricane
and bougainvillea

I will ask you

for September
for the tight promises

sold by the daughters
of the equinox

and you will grin at me
in your morning

handsome way
pass me cowrie shells

and solstices

Footage: ‘Discovery of Kepler-16b’ by NASA
Music: ‘Crotalinae’ by Xcentric Noizz and the Tunguska Electronic Music Society

This time I wrote the poem first then went looking for footage and ended up on the NASA website again (which is where I got the moon footage in this one). Happy that it’s only 57 seconds long. I wish there were more ‘abstract’ footage out there. Everything I find seems to be so definite and concrete. It occurred to me that I should perhaps submit the poem for publication before posting it here, but I realized at the same time that I’ve completely run out of energy for that whole submission dynamic, so I’m going to have me some lazy time.

new & frabjous since last time

three poems at MiPOesias

invitation to blog at Best American Poetry blog for a week starting Feb 27. It’s totally going to be ‘poetry out loud’ at the BAP blog that week, so watch out

interview with Linebreak editor Johnathon Williams at Voice Alpha

two great posts on reading vs reciting poetry by Dave Bonta and Dick Jones at Voice Alpha

Homer on You Tube. I love this!

bad blogger!

Poor Very Like A Whale is getting short shrift these days, with all my online poetry communications energy going into Whale Sound, Voice Alpha, Facebook and Twitter.

Some bits of frabjous from the last week or two that haven’t made it here yet:

Five poems up at Escape Into Life. I was thrilled with this publication — EIL is doing great things and not just with poetry. Recommend you get in and browse around. The artwork accompanying my poems by Ruud Van Empel was just stunning. I was particularly pleased to have the poem ‘Thirst & Decay’ selected. It was written many years ago in response to a KJV Bible verse prompt (Leviticus 25:35):

And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee.

Really what I wanted to use was the phrase ‘a stranger and a sojourner’ but the second half ended up falling out, as often happens with spark quotations. And the whole, rather surprisingly (or maybe not), ended up being about dysfunction and co-dependence, a perennial Nic Sebastian theme. (More recently, my poem Yew, in this group at Eclectica, tells more or less the same story).

In other excellent news, Whale Sound was featured at the Best American Poetry Blog by Emma Trelles, a Whale Sound poet herself. One of the terrific side effects of being interviewed about what you do is that it forces you to actively think about what you do (as opposed to just doing it) and articulate those thoughts. I find it is the articulation of those thoughts that helps me discern the ‘next step’ for a project. So, with Whale Sound, the idea of audio chapbooks, the idea of group readings, the idea of Voice Alpha – all grew out of being questioned about the project and having to respond to those questions. In that vein, in addition to Emma, I must thank Dave Bonta and J.P. Dancing Bear for also taking the time to interview me about Whale Sound.

Lastly on the frabjous front: I have begun writing poetry again, after a long hiatus (intensified by starting up the Whale Sound and Voice Alpha projects). I think of them as post-Whale Sound poems, because they are different in genesis and (at least, I think) in style from pre-Whale Sound poems. Getting into the skin of someone else’s poem close enough to read it aloud for Whale Sound five days a week is inevitably going to change (has changed) my ‘poet-ness’ – how I hear, feel, apprehend and write poetry. So far, one new poem has been accepted by Anti- and three by Canopic Jar. Onward!

tongues of the ocean

My savannah man is one of the first two poems in the inaugural issue of Scavella’s new journal, Tongues of the Ocean. I am very much honored to appear inaugurally with Ian Gregory Strachan. Check out his poems. Yikes – fiery stuff! Brief fiery stuff. In your face incisive burning-bones-and-no-flesh stuff. And taking — I had to go back and read each several times. Killer phrase among killer phrases: lunatic hosannas.

Go, Scavella!

The Dirty Napkin

My poem a poem for mother’s day is up at The Dirty Napkin.

This is a great publication, edited by J. Argyl Plath, and this fourth issue completes its first full volume. Check it out! And while you are there, check out its great submission system. Honestly, it’s the coolest thing — lets you painlessly submit, and then just as painlessly check on your submission. It even tells you whether your submission is Unread or Read. Has my vote for Most Painless Submission of the year.