Lone Wolf Poet: Episode 31

essay cover chalice

The Scene Behind Your Proverb
Para mi Nemesis

Much Madness is divinest Sense –
To a discerning Eye –
Much Sense – the starkest Madness –
’Tis the Majority
In this, as all, prevail –
Assent – and you are sane –
Demur – you’re straightway dangerous –
And handled with a Chain –

― Emily Dickinson

Cracks my shit up, man. … Look at him down there. Look at the doofus: shimmying his little tush off. Dude ought to have on Go-Go Boots. …

But that really ain’t Chalice Sinclearly down there; that there’s just the pinnacle of all of my wishes for what he could be. Look at him shaking it up like some mid-1960’s post-teenage pot-smoking ex-Mouseketeer-worshipping future MILF; shimmying his frilly little heart away and taking yet another wild elbow in the cheek bone. Look at him down there. Bloody lip and all. If he wasn’t wearing that elastic eyeglass band – giving ol’boy a disturbing kind of dark-alliance-to-model-glue look – he’d surly be without his right sight down in there. … But shit, again, Chalice, like me, ain’t even really here at all.

We won’t even hear about this gig until after the weekend – until now, actually, when we’ve gotten together for Monday evening brewskies with some of our pushing-50 Motorhead-loving peeps and they’ve started talking about how they was leading the pit’s flow and tension, and they’re showing off their bruises and bragging on about their aches. And right now as one of our friends starts derisively alluding to Chalice’s ever-solidifying fondness for the hush-hush insurrection that is the mail-bomb acoustics of a basement-dwelling syntax—alluding to how Chalice has become more and more of a reclusive Unabomber-type these past years. And the sucker don’t stop there, as he’s now begun to tease Sinclearly for his absence from the fist fights department for over the past almost-decade. And with that all the guys’ve now started jibing in, ganging up on Chalice, basically giving it to him as far as why no one invited him—giving it to him for allowing himself to be given a bedtime (9-10ish) all because a couple of handfuls of years back he yielded to the thinking that he ought to keep a solid count of brain cells intact and undiluted for the ongoing challenges of married life, the cubicle, and for the forthcoming confrontations of all those reasonings that will always be provokingly – tauntingly – right there out beyond the basement’s reach.

And Chalice’s wife is right here even! And as they continue to give it to him for becoming in their eyes a huge-ass wussy, using crude language, showing no decorum – not that they ever really had some – and not that Chalice’s wife can’t handle it, because she can; it’s just there’s a measure of decency I thought even these jagoffs knew how to practice—and I can see the whole mythologizing bullshit that’s the idea behind the artist living hard and dying young start to fill in the white-heats of my man’s eyes: Sinclearly’s going all I’m not what I believe I want to measure up to be; I’ve got to rise from the basement and live – boo hoo hoo on my ass.

Well, shit, I yank his ass right up out of here, and mind-drop us right on over back to Saturday night’s gig. And here we is all up in the mind: me banging out in the balcony while watching Chalice take to the dead center of that pit and start up with his badass, should-be-wearing-Go-Go-boots shimmying. … Look at him down there.  Look at the doofus, taking each blow that comes his way like the godsend each wicked blow is. … Cracks my shit up, man.


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Lone Wolf Poet: Episode 30

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Flicker and Expire: A Belief in Angels

Chalice Sinclearly and the Reverend Any Major Dude have just stepped back into the bar. I didn’t need to look back over my shoulder to know this. I hear the immature bastard laughing. The Reverend steps up and I swivel on the stool and hold out my palms to him. He slaps me ten; I slap him ten right back. … Right on. … He takes his seat and takes his first sip of Black Label. Sinclearly plops on the stool on the Reverend’s left side. The Reverend turns his back to Sinclearly’s laughter, and begins:

“So, your Mr. Douchebag Duality here [he throws a pointing thumb over his shoulder at Chalice] just gets done telling me how more than occasionally, while he’s on one of his strolls through the alleyways of this homicide-riddled city we each who are present here in this establishment call our loving and enlightening home, a public lamp will flicker and expire right as he is passing underneath it. He tells me this phenomenon happens at least every other walk he takes, and it will usually happen while passing under two to three lamps during those particular walks. He claims this phenomenon’s been happening forever, and from the very beginning he’s had only one explanation in my mind for these occurrences: they stand as evidence that your guys’s guardian angel is on the job.

[Sinclearly’s face is facing the ceiling, laughing.]

“Now I don’t think Chalice is suggesting your guys’s guardian angel is some sort of klutz, always ringing his bell against lamp posts because he’s constantly keeping a sharp eye down on this idiot [again he throws a pointing thumb over his shoulder at Chalice] and neglecting to be aware of the space that’s expanding directly out right there in front of him. Rather, I believe the cause of these rather dramatic outages is your guys’s guardian angel’s ethereal energy. He’s there; he’s emanating from your guys’s active solitude – from that poignant internal soliloquy that marries tragedy and comedy—he’s emanating from the promise that the city is the possessor of old-fashioned American reader ears, ears that are hearing – truly listeningto your guy’s in-self soliloquy of excruciating honesty.

“Hoz, America leads the world in the number of adults within its population who believe angels are real. Moreover, more adults within our borders believe in the existence of angels than the role of humans in Global Warming. Shit, I’m just repeating some of the finest TV drama writing ever – we’ve all YouTubed that scene from The Newsroom, right?* And these facts prove the idiocy of our society tilts towards being dangerous, and I fully, fully accept this. Our society, our American culture, is dangerous. And it is especially dangerous to your art. … So then, our dilemm: can one believe in angels while at the same time knowing full well angels aren’t real?

[Sinclearly’s laughing away. Tears.]

“Let’s take a closer look at belief. Belief, in essence, is an ideal. An ideal, as defined in the dictionary, is a conception, quote ‘existing in the mind: imaginary. Lacking practicality or the possibility of realization,’ end quote. So, when we are discussing belief we are discussing a conception that exists in the privacy of one’s imagination, a conception meant to nourish one’s imagin—”

Sinclearly, fucking please!

Chalice stops, looks to me over the Reverend Any Major Dude’s shoulder. His wide eyes are nearly swirling, and his crazy, shit-ass—Jesus, look how hard he’s trying to touch a lip to a lip there … ain’t happening—that O-shaped grin is a thing of obvious impermanence. Chalice can’t contain himself, the Reverend’s ‘shrooms is simply that good: “BAH-Hahahahahahaha …”

 “It’s alright, Hoz; your duality here gets to sliding off me in short time. Forget him; don’t pay attention. … So, though belief germinates and endures within the individual’s imagination, it should be further understood that for belief to come into full existence it must somehow be put into action – externalized; presented before the community, practiced when in the midst of mankind. The Big Question becomes how should one externalize such an evocative tenant of privacy, something that is already understood as ‘lacking practicality or the possibility of realization’? Does one show, or does one tell? Well, one must show his or her belief, not tell. To show is an action that asks of the viewer to engage his or her freewill. To show is an action that engages a trust in the silent observations of the eyes’ humble pupils. To show is an act of art. Whereas, to tell is an action that calls upon coercion in order to achieve a result. To tell is an action that calls upon the preachy qualities of the conceited tongue. To tell is an act of TV Evangelism, right?

[Sinclearly, laughing and laughing and laughing.]

“Allowing one’s belief to be externalized through the action of telling positions belief as an impersonal duty to which the individual must conform in order to appear as an acceptable presence in the public’s eye. And this is where the danger lies; for to assume belief is impersonal means to perceive belief as being something that’s unchangeable, something that’s unwilling to acknowledge the idea of individuality. This perception pressures one’s belief into becoming a censor, removing it from its duty as a simple beholder. This perception removes the imagination from its ability to be restored.

“Okay then; well, how does one show rather than tell? In a nutshell, one must shut the fuck up about it. That’s to say, one must distill through his or her belief, through his or her imagination, a public respect for the private paradigms of his or her fellow public man. It is in this way that one will come to perceive how belief facilitates one’s respect for reality, how without reality there would be no purpose to, nor reason for, the imagination’s existence. After all, it is from internalizing and historicizing reality – not exploiting it, not mocking it, not defying it, not TVing it—it is in this practise of one’s meditative being that one’s imagination makes its graduations and adjustments, restores – anticipates his or her guardian angel ringing his or her bell.

“… Calculate that.”

The Reverend Any Major Dude grabs his Black Label and throws it back, stands and slaps me ten, and I slap him ten right back. … Right on. … Turning away from me, he holds ten out for Chalice to slap, but ends up just shaking his head in a gesture of humored pity and giving Chalice a pat on his convulsing back. He opens the bar’s door to exit and the silhouette of his too usual-sized frame (too usual, that is, in relation to his size 17 feet) absorbs the gray of the graying evening, and for a flash-moment wavers as if a plume of smoke. The door closes. I’m left here with Sinclearly who is beginning to wind down from his public, immature, uncontrollable laughter. … Thank you, God, for your TV-less bars.


*“We Just Decided To” written by creator Aaron Sorkin and directed by Greg Mottola.


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Lone Wolf Poet: Episode 29

essay cover chalice

“Truly Political (Against True Art)”

A prayer:
God bless me into Sin-
Clearly, fully, finally. Grant me
Another couple two three
Root canal rottings, front teeth
This time. Grant me a Meth Mouth
Type of look so I can be stereotyped-
Flush in my challenge to the socio-stereo-
Typical, so when they come flag-pumping
To find my basement door after I here
Criticize their being all anti-dramatic
Imagination while samely they’re going all chicken-
Hawk with the morality in the no draft era; after
I here exude unto their washboard-metalled chests
Their own dis-constitutional swinging-truck
-Nuts ways and means of noosely committeeing

When they come whisk-brooming
At my basement’s doorstep, I will answer,
By your grace, my only grasp on God,
In cut-off sleeves and saggy sweats and unclipped
Toe nails and level them with the presentational
Smile of the fact I am in fact of them and not
A bandwagoner transplanted from a distant O-
                                                     Hio or Kalama-
Zoo to the live theatre side of Madison St., where
I’m safe enoughly staged up from that which always,
Always—since before even the seed of Ingenuity her-
Self redacted her very experience in the name of trumping
Up an American hold on schooling—always bears the brunt
Of the newscasterly presumption of intern fact checkers:
Chicago’s South Side is thrust to a culture played
Out of amendments.

Let us pray:
One can only hope, by God, upon my appearance
At the basement door, between the whistly tensenesses
I voice over the bum dittying I minstrel them over as,
The view will in clear view be viewed:
Just because my thumb and pointer make believe
Doesn’t mean I Bang! Bang! you
Into miraculously-like dropping dead.

(Alas, I vote—
The only aspect that would in fact be the most real
Packer down here at the threshold is our lessening
Acts of bookish terrorism to quell the line
Between guts and brains, corroborate the one
Between fact and truth: Bang! Bang! 
“Who’s the dead one now, Dream?”
Criticism. …) Recompense me
My right to fully be Sin-
Clearly, and matched to all
Inbred scare here with one
Rotted out one; one
Upper, front upper.
One, my Man. One.


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Lone Wolf Poet: Episode 28

essay cover chalice

Episode 28: An E-Mail to William Logan
Cc: James Comey
Bcc: August Kleinzahler; Garrison Keillor
Subject: Unwanted: Dead or Alive

“I wasn’t very long at Stony Brook when it occurred to me that the English department
had all the charm of a street fight where no one actually landed a punch.”
―Jim Harrison, Off to the Side

Great Day Mr. Logan:

Me again. You may recall my email to you some time ago, regarding my take on a certain somebody’s debut release. I have copied the FBI on this correspondence – my way of assuring you that these transmissions are not from a deranged stalker. I do not pose a danger, merely a threat (wink wink). 

Thank you for recently posting on the great and wide internet machine a link to your brief essay published in last Spring’s The Battersea Review. Funny story: a few hours after reading “The State of Criticism,” I viewed The Battered Bastards of Baseball for the first time. What a sublime combination. But what’s more, throughout the days since then I’ve been frequently harkening back to a spat my main man Hoz and I had some time back (by the by, this is one dude who you should actually try to get to know; he is, after all, trying his damnedest here to scribe my irreverent core into upstanding theory – God bless his sagged heart; Hoz is without doubt the exact kind you’re referring to within “The State of Criticism” when in your requisite aloof / collegiate-funded way, you concede, “These days, with the internet open at all hours, there is more criticism than ever and more poetry than ever. … A few of these critics are rabid, most are rhapsodic; but the usual sins do not attract the rare virtues. On occasion, you will find a reader dogged with purpose, one who scours the poetry carefully, has an idea or two, and who can write a few sentences that don’t make your eyes bleed. … I am glad for them. They are obviously men and women of leisure.”), it was a spat that ended with him duping me into encouraging him to grow a rattail, which the douche can’t even really do because he’s bald as shit. On his way to duping me he touched on something about how by avoiding crawling into the skin of Trash, American poets are occupying a limited, limiting, scope. … His dupe, your concession, the thoroughly American spirit of anti-establishment on display in The Battered Bastards of Baseball—well, I’ve been put in such a state these past days that my inner-delinquent – the exact delinquent to whom I pay homage when shopping at the Targè, searching out t-shirts whose very near futures on Chicago’s South Side (bang bang) promise to be sleeveless—the delinquent in me feels justified. In the past days I have found myself at complete peace with the paranoia that I will most probably always be looked upon as an unwanted voice – an unwanted voice within the one artistic ring into which I have always projected tossing my lifer hat.

I just knew you would want to hear from me. …

American poetry needs to aspire to be as irreverent as a noon-time fight taking place on a gravel parking lot over the fact that one dude deliberately touched one of the chunky breasts of the other dude’s significant other, a significant other who, incidentally, having just entered the second trimester of her unannounced and as of yet unnoticeable pregnancy, at first didn’t mind the passing fondle, however unasked for, and actually thought for a split-second of grabbing the offender and yanking him out the back door and pinning his ass against a Dumpster and forcing his way to the resolve of her thirst (his unit, the weathered burnish of a curved leather stock in want of conditioning – this, her imagination’s accompanying snapshot) while her old man continued to do shots and play pool and stuff singles into the jukebox—continued to ignore her in favor of playing the outlaw and taking trips to the john for a few snorts here and there. But that’s all that lady allowed herself for fantasy – a split-second; a snapshot – because the offender no sooner gave her a wink of an eye than she screamed out bloody hell to dig up the attention of her old man’s vengeance. And right now out on that gravel parking lot (one dude is wearing a Slayer T-shirt, the other dude stepped out back humming the opening verse of an Ozark Mountain Daredevils tune while unbuttoning his flannel), with knuckles and bile and grunts and denim and oily hair all Tasmanian Deviling amidst the whoops and curses of the intoxicated spectators and the occasional approving horn-blow of a passing semi, we readers capture the faint writhe of a psychiatric cultivation bring on a nuanced cleanse to the trap-like lines in that lady’s expression, and we sense her trialed conviction’s just abandoned her for a backbone-swallowed stomaching of where exactly she’s at in all of this; and we readers mouth a “Sweet Jesus” to the nonjudgmental gauge of the words hand-picked to whip her back into the tavern to go cram into the broom closet and force down as much cleanser as she can lay her hands on.

There’s a goddamn scene to get the pulse going. Right there’s some content, some American-born narrative of the plain-ass real-world’s condition. But it’s my guess the majority of the curators of the American poetry world are shuddering right now: OH, but I just hate fights, and drugs, and violence, and psycho-sexual brain thrusts; they’re all just so ugly and nasty. I hold to autumn sunbeams penetrating mountain mist, to frosted moss on fallen limbs just inside the edge of an eve-wanting woods, to the untouchable possibilities surrendered in the quiver of ruby-colored lips behind a sunshower-touched window of a public bus. … Copping Sons of Anarchy for an atmosphere is quite simply not the thing of taste. … But I’m not talking about that crap specifically, Mr. Logan; what I’m trying to get at is the emotion that goes behind the seemingly mindless totality of such a scene. Yes, it’s ugly; sure, it could feasibly be politically incorrect to the Lefty Looseys, morally abhorrent to the Great Right Hope, and way too genuine for the blanked-out snickers of hipster ironics*, but tough titties. 

I’m attempting to purvey an emotion that exudes a poetry that will not reside warmly alongside the careful MFA character of the majority of the poetry that is perpetually touted in our publications of esteem, even when said poetry is being touted as “fresh” or “hip.” I’m trying here to purvey an emotion that exudes a voice that actually stands the chance of removing American poetry from the lingering nonexistence of an American poetry culture whose discernment is rooted in the cause of making poetry less dreadful to the reading public. 

Now, I get it: the American reading public – the intellectually curious and creatively attuned American public – is already a limited population, and those within this population who care an iota about poetry is limited even more. I get it. But I figure the poet doesn’t have to settle with that – well, not if he or she hasn’t made of poetry a “career” that depends upon him or her settling into the “careerism” of a “system.” We can attract more; we don’t have to assimilate to the “system” – the few.

The poet’s got to be a dropout. (Here I must thank you, as I did in my previous email to you, for being a stepping stone in my ever-establishing suspicion that a poem deserves to be more than poetry, and that the poet must risk his or her stake in poetry for the sake of the poem.) The poet must reach out unapologetically towards irreverence, bringing to the poetry world’s set table an offering rendered from the heretofore “sophomoric” endeavor of entertainment. The poet needs to rip the tablecloth from under the table’s setting, and if nothing’s left standing, Oh the fuck well – if he or she manages to pull off the trick, Holy shit. … The poet should not be crafting for the safety of a classroom stuffed full with student debt holders; the poet should be the craft of a nasty-ass fisticuffs between strangers out on a gravel lot, a fisticuffs that just as it’s taken a sudden turn into being a knife and a broken bottle affair is halted by a waitress’s unworldly scream coming from inside the tavern. In this way, the emotion of poetry becomes an expression of spite for the scam that claims poetry is for brainiacs. The conception that a reader needs to be skilled or educated to enjoy poetry is an entrenched false reality; it is as invalidly entrenched in our poetry culture as the word “God” is being stamped on our currency and dangled from our politicians’ tongues. Separation of church and state is a motto to absolutely live by, strive for, in American culture; separation of classroom and poet must become the motto the American poetry culture lives by, strives for. …

You see, Mr. Logan, when brought in and being interrogated by today’s American poetry culture, the unwanted voice makes no excuses: knowing and accepting full well the fact that she or he is the possessor of a Lone Wolf nature, the unwanted voice assumes full accountability for his or her criminality. From behind a one-way mirror the legend-less legacies of American Poetry Awards watch on as under the lamp of a closed-door basement the unwanted voice exhales smoke into the American poetry culture’s face; and staring the interrogator square in the eyes, the unwanted voice, without pause, without stutter or a blink of the eyes, sings like a canary, throwing his or her poem straight under the bus. … After all, that’s where the “system” has been throwing poetry’s potential readership for a long while now.

Chalice Sinclearly


*This is the second time I’ve used “hipster ironic” within an episode. My thinking is entirely derived from Christy Wampole. ~J.H.


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Lone Wolf Poet: Episode 27

essay cover chalice

Bottle Me Stupid

The genesis of what would prove to become the most of Chalice Sinclearly commenced upon its single-spaced itinerary one evening in a hideaway nestled nicely amidst the lush vegetation encroaching upon, but not quite getting at, the backside of a detached garage. You see, it would be in the safety of this hideaway located on a suburban plot where Chalice Sinclearly and I would split a six pack – our first tilts of the bottle. We stole the beers from a neighbor’s garage-kept fridge. We had for our entire lives till then witnessed this thing of intoxication throughout the neighborhood – we were eager to give it a roll ourselves. Besides, there was a party to be attended that night. Chalice and I had a month earlier entered a public high school from our parochial isolation. We would prove smarter than most in our grade, having the previous decade been taught the hard way how to give unto the cloaked a willing ear. Well, maybe “smarter” isn’t the proper word to use here – perhaps I should say that we proved more “deferential” than most of our publicly educated counterparts when it came to being faced with the disciplining that is knowledge. That being said, however, we did bring with us into the public domain our Catholic penchant for detention: we befriended burnouts with great aplomb.

Sure we were eager to give beer a try, but why were we so eager? Was it because we had watched people in the neighborhood or in our own families drink too much and act goofy and we thought it looked like a fun time? Was it because it was impressed upon us that it was cool to do? I imagine some shrink or a discussion over steaming Styrofoam in some church basement would endeavor to urge us to call to courage the philosopher residing deeper inside somewhere who could more gravely address the whys and the what-ifs surrounding that night (and of course any of the over 12,000 nights since), and perhaps thusly encourage the move to commit our conviction to the supposed upstanding course of sobriety. … Perhaps our decision to drink that long-ago night (and of course any of the over 12,000 nights since) is the product of an uncomplicated reasoning, one that may have something to do with destiny while also having something to do with being finite at the same time. A thing of the blood not the brain. Who the hell knows?

The point is that we became a drinker that night and we have never once felt sorry for it; even during our thirties when the hangovers were especially relentless in their renderings of guilt, we have never once looked back with regret. (We are the lucky one, we understand this. We made it as a drinker into this current age. Quite a few of our imbiber cohorts had to give up the bottle before the revolution of Craft Beer came along, and what that means is that those poor sons of bitches went out into the world of recovery after the insult of a rice infused American macro beer hangover.) You see, Chalice and I made the party, and one seemingly casual moment in that night of our first ever drunk proved to be epic, and tunes Chalice’s vision even to this very day: there in the middle of that party’s backyard milieu I lied flat on my back, isolated, buzzed, staring up to the stars of a suburban October clear sky, holding a bottle of Old Style on my belly, and with a cigarette extended and lightly swaying to and fro from my underage lips – the loud chatter and adolescent live music of the party faded to a elegiac white noise as Chalice’s stare zeroed in on me. … That’s the image right there; that’s Chalice’s first-ever poem right there: the first moment in time when he ever really – and I do mean really – ever looked at “it,” whatever that “it” might be.

Chalice went home that freshman-year night, stripped down to his whitey-tighties and sung a Kenny Rogers song with Kenny Rogers over and over until his mother put a merciful end to the redundant buffoonery of “Through the Years,” unplugging his cassette player and turning off the bedroom light, making sure that for the split second before it went black in his room he fully captured the reprimand emanating from her eyes. Chalice did; he was in trouble, and not just for that next day or next week, but for the rest of our life: Chalice rose from the bed and walked from his bedroom nearly forty-five minutes ago, leaving his wife to her early AM dreams as he headed for this basement desk. And down here, now officially 3 hours and some minutes beyond our 49th year on this planet of unbendable ears, he reaches forward into “it” to finally begin to draft what will eventually, in weeks, months, years, through the patient practice of allowing forgetfulness to play out into self-editorial benedictions, become this, his so long ago first-ever poem:

A puff on the smoke turns the air about
a delinquent countenance into the spectral
nest of an out-of-season firefly – right
here – the first moment to have ever poised
itself in memory’s imagination and awakened
the illuminating bounty of sadness; the first
Moment to have ever dared itself to contain
what is fleeting into a sort of permanence,
to reconcile sadness. This first moment in
life wherein life awakens to the splendorous
dread of what it will mean to leave proof
Of transience behind. Yet, it would be many
imaginations beyond that night before I’d
separate from memory to seat my being be-
fore a real live poem, and absorb worth via
an unwitting commencement upon threat,
the invigorator of the toil of seeking sake.

… Chalice should have grown to be a man with an office, not a cubicle – he should have become a man who hands out business cards, who concentrates on things like Business Development, his golf swing … a man who keeps a kept calendar, who collects cuff links not roach clips … a man who talks shop, not shit. But no, he became this: he became this man before you who treats each session with the bottle not as his last, not as just another, but as his first, his very first: as if sprung by a petty act of breaking and entering, and shaped in the de-selfed-conscious state of a bottle-muscled mind, only to be sacked deep into conscience by a wordless – pure and eloquent – wordless – reprimand. Chalice Sinclearly became this man before you whose ever-slouching shoulders betray the ever-swelling problem child that’s defiantly slung across them.

… He’ll come to title the poem “Proof”. …


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Lone Wolf Poet: Episode 26

essay cover chalice

I wrote a piece many moons ago while captured within those contemplative months we all shared in directly after 9/11/01. The piece was sentimental, which at the time was the accepted, appropriate, emotion. However, I was never truly satisfied with its expression – its choices in patriotism and promise always rung a tad yucky to me. Nonetheless, I committed it to print. And so for quite some time I have known that I failed a poem; I ignored a gut feeling and intentionally went all nicey-nicey, all in hopes of getting some gushy awws. Sentimentality always seems to have guts when you’re first grasped by it, but in time it never fails to show itself to be pure fucking flab, especially to the torn and frayed reality of one who aspires to be of a Chalice Sinclearly nature.  … Lesson learned. … The occasion to turn a misstep into a stand presented itself recently: it’s 2016, America’s a mess (heroin, cop killings, Rahm, homicidal Chicago, our Public School teachers getting shit on, the pathetic Presidential candidates and how our media are failing us, and how America’s everyman increasingly fears and ridicules intelligence while our “bohemians” are still being conned into the horizonless conformity of MFA programs, etc., etc., etc.), and I had been on my way to turning 50 and in the paranoiac enormity of that the prospect of perhaps one day needing to stop being a juvenile delinquent had begun to encrust my party time. … And besides, today, 9/23/16, just happens to be the first full day of yet another fall. … ~J.H.

“Note to Self at 50”
September 13, 2016

Look at them trees, look how them leaves seem afire today; and don’t you ever be afraid. Brain’s gonna be here tomorrow.

Forever believe there’s dignity, your dignity – your family’s dignity. Forever disbelieve systems that dis-interpret dignity. Systems without dignity won’t ever understand ancestry seeds the imagination with timelessness. This is why undignified imaginations won’t be ripened within the tempered humanization of an unearthly promise. Never be pretentious enough to be selfish enough to believe your imagination dies with you.

Never be that graceless, that artless.


Look! Look how them unpredictable winds blow them fiery leaves from the trees today; and don’t you ever be afraid. Brain’s gonna be here tomorrow.

Forever disrespect those that dis-interpret accountability. Those without accountability will forever be confused within their self-glorifying lies about the utilitarian histories of common sense and dissent. Never try to be cool, just be unusual – only barely show a want for the doubt Free Speech assumes to be a requirement. The truest of radicals find the dead center!

Find the dead center, and call home.


Watch them trees go bare today; and don’t you ever be afraid. Old Brain’s right here.

Always know the most pioneering of all the seasons looms just beyond Santa’s list: trees are gonna be enlivened again, be the prelude to the season of no school again. Go gather all them dropped leaves into one great innocuous pile. Leap into the pile valiantly, again and again. Always know humanity’s authentically moved into the chastity of a future by the simple joy you incite. As you take pause within the crackling pile, peek fondly at the sky (now crisp with the blue captured sun).

The sky alone rewards eyes in selfless flight.


This is wannabe John Hospodka’s bi-weekly instructional blog.

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Lone Wolf Poet: Episode 25

essay cover chalice

A Conventiently Self-Satisfying Manifesto
(The First of Many?)

It seems as though some unseen, omnipresent agent of “This second! Right now! Now! Now!” rides upon today’s vernacular breezes, surging the human condition into needing to be defined in the terms of immediacy. Within this age of Gizmobation the human condition has increasingly become saturated with the promise that immediate entitlement to expertise and that being immediately heard are tangible, acceptable, notions. (Notice how more and more folks are more and more talking over everyone within “conversations” because more and more folks are believing they know more than most and so have no time to listen?) And certainly, the DIY culture of self-publishing (blogging) is derivative of this province of immediacy.

In his or her willfully basemented, unpeopled, enterprise, the Lone Wolf Poet must not acquiescence to today’s human condition’s need to be defined in the terms of immediacy. The Lone Wolf Poet must refuse, by all means necessary, to be inconsequential to the growth of perspective, and so must elucidate a stringent (albeit a tad pigheaded) conviction to the no-nonsense illumination of how mutinous perfection in the poem, and so in the poet-life, is achieved:

  • First and foremost, never treat poetry as the thing of a career; poetry is anti-career in its nature.
  • Understand life is greater than poetry—poetry is never worth dying over, never worth dying for. Time is for living; so obsess over living, forget poetry—poetry attacks only in sporadic, Bam!-like, moments (see final bullet).
  • Know: the poem is never, ever, created in a single draft; or in two, or in even three, four, five, for that matter.
  • Once the poem is to your mind completed, put it away for a few months, forget about it. The longer the better, actually – put it away for a year, two even. The poem must become detached from the passion of its creation and its creator in order for it to unearth the means to its full realization.
  • In this time of absence—and to be sure, this will not be an absolute absence, you will on occasion come back to the poem for instances of conditioning—allow yourself to give up all hopes of having the poem published anywhere but in the self-published book-home you’re building for it and its kin. This will save the poem from unnecessarily growing up too fast, from missing out on a fully fleshed out childhood and young adulthood – sweet-ass delinquency and all. … (Some might contend that not seeking to have a poem published is counterproductive, that in that the poem becomes a shut-in, the poet performing a societal – moral? – disservice by not allowing for the poem to become “socialized” before it is experienced in its self-published book-home. And, of course, some might contend that not seeking to have a poem published before it appears in its self-published book-home is a direct indicator of the poet’s fear of the mental anguish derived from having a poem rejected over and over again. The Lone Wolf Poet fully acknowledges the accuracy of these accusations: indeed, they are intricate elements within the irreverent heart of the Lone Wolf Poet’s paranoid art.)
  • And so detached for a good length of time, come back to the poem removed from the poet who was once lurking inside the Moment 101—the fervor—of crafting it. It is bump up time: it is time to recognize the poem for the character it wants to be; it is time to recognize the poet’s say is no mas – the poem is no longer in that fool’s hands. Come back to the poem more weathered, less concerned for its vitality than you are skeptical of its temporality. 

For in the end, the Lone Wolf Poet – Chalice—my man—Sinclearly – aspires to position the poem on the side of the reader, not on the side of poetry. 


This is wannabe John Hospodka’s bi-weekly instructional blog.

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