Wednesday, December 9, 2009


I sit quietly
on my perch
out my feathers.

Some days
all I hear
is my own echo.

© 2009 LaRaie Zimm

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Some days
all I hear
is my own echo

so I sit quietly
on my perch
out my feathers.

© 2009 Matthew S. Barton

Monday, November 23, 2009


Title: Edgar Avenue
Author: Esteban Colon
Publisher: Naked Mannekin
Format: 7.5 x 5" Chapbook
ISBN: n/a
List Price: $10.00

Esteban Colon’s Edgar Avenue is a gloriously intense magnification of the so-often layered complexities of human relationships. His carefully chosen spotlight of words paints the outline of characters whose thoughts and observations allow the audience to create its own unique avenue of players.


Sunday, November 22, 2009


Title: Exact Change Only, Vol. 1:1
Executive Editor: David Hargarten
Content Editor: Esteban Colon
Art Direction: Naked Mannekin
Publisher: Exact Change Press
Format: 7.5 x 5" 'zine
ISBN: 978-1-60725-951-0
List Price: $6.00

Exact Change Only is one of my proudest collaborations. Not too long ago, "Waiting 4 The Bus" was little more than a punky little open mic show meeting in the back room of Jak's Tap in Chicago. Chicago is a tough town to get noticed in, particularly for poets. When I first got involved, the show had taken some hard knocks and the organizers were struggling to shake off a mild inferiorty complex. Okay, maybe not so mild. But in time this punky bunch evolved into the Waiting 4 The Bus Poetry Collective, a collaboration of poets and peformers with a steadfast commitment to integrity and a rock solid artistic acumen that continues to attract a steadily growing number of artists commited to the same deceptively simply idea: it's about the poetry. And when enough like minded people come together, sooner or later something very interesting is bound to happen. Exact Change Only is no exception. It began innocently enough, something like this:
One late autumn Tuesday, Matt Barton, Esteban Colon and I sat down at a table in a donut joint and tried to define what the hell a poetry collective is and what it should do. We decided that poetry should be about more than memorization and rhythm, it should be about honesty and truth. But mostly about carrying exact change.

This cynical age is sending poets to the same scrap heap as full service gas stations and penny candy. I have become nostalgic for the days when you needed exact change to buy something from a vending machine, make a telephone call or ride a bus, the days when pockets were for more than cell phones and credit cards. We the upholders of an ancient tradition have become living anachronisms, bards, and matchstick men. A collection of misfit kids standing on the corner, waiting for the bus with exact change in our pockets.

--David (Buddha 309) Hargarten, April 9, 2009.
Volume One, Issue One of Exact Change Only features the work of: Esteban Colon, Matt Barton, Quraysh Ali Lansana, Charlie Newman, Shelley Nation, David (Buddha 309) Hargarten, Christopher Gallinari, Robert Lawrence, LaRaie Zimm, Michael C. Watson, Tom Curry, Elizabeth Harper, Steven Hammond, Vito Carli and Tom Roby. Time will tell, but this modest little project seems to be a success. Our sophomore attempt is currently in the works, so we'll know soon enough whether our success continues to hold.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


I am still perplexed

by a ladies' dress shoe
on its side
in the middle of
the sidewalk.

© 2009 Matthew S. Barton

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Title: Rock 'n Roll Dreams
Author: Robert Lawrence
Publisher: Naked Mannekin
Format: 7.5 x 5" Chapbook
ISBN: 978-1-60725-954-1
List Price: $8.00

Remember those old t.v. shows where aliens from Zong travel by mego-turbo-hyper-sub-sonic phenollian waves to Earth and infiltrate our society by posing as humans and they're so good at it no one knows what's up and just before they take over and turn us all into okra or guano or something equally disgusting a little kid who was wise to them all along defeats them by burping potato chip breath on them and they dissolve into dissipating waves of technicolor yawns? If you do, you'll dig Bob Lawrence's take on modern American life even though it's poetry not science fiction. And if you don't, it's about time you ended your sad cultural deprivation and read Rock ‘n Roll Dreams to see what in the name of all that's bitchin' I'm so stoked about. This is inescapable stuff. BTW: He is a man with 3 first names, you know, Robert Alan Lawrence. Like James Earl Ray and Lee Harvey Oswald. There are no coincidences.


Sunday, October 4, 2009


I took my scissors with me to the Mercury Cafe on Friday night and we corpsed my poem Canto per Poggio. This is what happens when Chicago poets get their hands on sun-made California produce. Thanks to all the poets who contributed their voices to this project. This is an oleo of all the contributions I collected, so it would be virtually impossible to give credit to every poet represented here. But if anyone wants to take credit for their lines, please feel free.

In tosca I loaf
spin that ricotta pill
with me

green parsley
in the chant room
totally roasted

bing baby bing!

roast your
sweet onion skin tongue
cherry baby arugula lips

white man clam
tooooooooooooooo sweet

no white corn,
cherry to toes baby!
cherry to toes.

. . .

A nectarine sea
lemon sun setting
Raw white
cherry tomatoes
shave their sweet parmigiano

white bean doesn’t approve
she is such a prude.

. . .

I did not plant
green and yellow wax beans but
my green romanos greet me every morning
in august
heads rolling like summer squash.
. . .
The man clams
Josephine Lipuma
with a side
of chick sausage

prosecuted by karma

butter my beans in the summer
squash me
sweet and corny
spit on my belly

puree me, potato
me like an olive
planted in my navel.

You braised my greens
with your
red celery heart

you were raw and sweet
but you left me
your parmigiano

you left me shaved
raw and bitter.

Guess what
--chicken butt

Cauliflower roasted

Guess whither
--chicken liver

Eggplant turns purple.
. . .
Rosemary and garlic
lean in close
for their next first kiss

honey dripping
gorgonzola oozing in the back
sliced fuji apples jealous
of the pears

lead them on
with lemon
wanta wanta wanta want a fanta

what do you we with arugula?

that caramelized rose
just like mother used to make
panceta jiggered

. . .

Rosemary escapes with Ricotta
to the
Savoy to see

Haricot Verts Balsamico
and the
Tijuana Brass.

Arugula sounds like honking.

. . .


Potato Puree roasted
a whole snapper
and braised the right cheek
of a savory tomato sauce

with his fist!!!

The DA will be prosecuting di Parma
says Mayor Daley
and shaving
Parmigiano Arugula
because we have respect
for the law in this city.

Friday, October 2, 2009



never hurt as much,
bruises and
clenched fists
when compared to years of flinching, my
track shoe heart
a three minute mile at
sound of impact.

never hurt as much,
direct hatred
never brought
the same pain
as knives twisted into spines
digging under skin
innards drown,
by the friendliest hands

never hurt as much
too pure,
too certain to
demons like lost hope,

never hurt as much
as blurrier things
and Infatuation

© 2008 Esteban Colón

. . .


There is no
comfort in the early morning

shadows staining
the bed sheets with

sticky anxieties
on unanswered questions

blurred at the edges
thunder rain infatuation

for the sunrise
creeping through the grass
on the balls of its feet.

© 2008 Matthew S. Barton

. . .

She set down cards,
billed as entertainment
my body vibrated,
tapping shoulders with realization,
harrowing words hardly noticed
tongue rang alarms of the last time
happened to Phil,
recalled her
dire prediction, the
last time this
happened to Phil,
somebody died.

© 2008 Esteban Colón

. . .


I don’t know Phil
or Mark or
Stephen or whatever

his name is
I don’t know the woman sitting next to him
reading a magazine

or the kids strapped
in the back
seat watching movies

I don’t know where they are going or
who is waiting for
and I don’t know

why he is in such a
hurry to make a
left turn
before the light changes

crossing the double yellow line in his
brown minivan with the
rear suspension

all I know is the
last time
this happened to Phil
someone died
in that brown minivan

and some poor sonofabitch couldn’t
find the words to
say everything
is okay
because Phil is in a hurry

or whatever his
name is.

© 2008 Matthew S. Barton

. . .


is the self explanatory beginning
portion of the poem used to call for attention
get you to
instantly relate to the speaker.

[pause] line break

Stanza two
fills with
deeper description, the
continued narrative
rising action of drama
charged repetition of elements in the first stanza

[pause] line break

Stanza three
climax and falling action
for shorter poems
for longer
colorful metaphor
leading to
a dramatic,
possibly ironic

[pause] This is not a line break. I just ran out of room.

© 2008 Esteban Colón

. . .


I just ran out of room
for all of the
answers to questions

I never asked
why I still smile at the

touch of a
caterpillar crawling up the
back of my hand

pebbles breaking
the surface of a pond

I never asked why
the swallows
return to capistrano and

I am not waiting
for anyone to explain
why this

isn’t a line break
I just ran out of room.

© 2008 Matthew S. Barton

Monday, September 28, 2009


I've never eaten at Poggio Trattoria, nor have I actually been to Sausalito. I hear good things, but what draws me into this brief collaboration with Poggio is the menu. Not the food, nor the artistry of the preparations or even the creativity of the kitchen. Just the simple, understated beauty of the words. They speak for themselves, so here they are. I promise every word belongs to Poggio; I added nothing.

Chicken liver
roasted cauliflower white bean puree
grilled scallops
basil butter
sweet corn peppercress

hand pulled mozzarella
aceto balsamico
bing cherries arugula

prosciutto di parma
oak grilled monterey bay sardines
manila clams
calabrese sausage chickpeas

baked goat cheese
pinenut rosemary flatbread
thinly sliced beef
parmigiano sea salt lemon

butter beans summer squash
sweet corn
and basil pesto

marinated beets
haricot verts balsamico
ricotta salata
hazelnuts sliced fuji apples

yellow romano beans summer squash
cucumbers tomatoes
raw sweet
white corn cherry tomatoes
shaved parmigiano

pecorino toscano

spinach ricotta pillows
with beef ragu combed potato gnocchi
green beans
roasted chanterelle mushrooms

white wine manila clams
rock shrimp
sweet white corn
cherry tomatoes and basil

green and yellow wax beans
summer squash
sweet peppers tomato polenta

spit-roasted pork belly
braised greens apricots
red wine
hearts of celery
braised in a savory tomato sauce
potato puree

roasted whole snapper
with lemon
and savoy spinach
rosemary and garlic potatoes
sea salt

roasted chanterelle mushrooms
sweet onions
caramelized onion rosemary gorgonzola
black mission figs

add prosciutto di parma
and arugula
shaved parmigiano
potato puree with sicilian olive oil
savoy spinach
with lemon

fatta in casa.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Words to remember: Read Rock 'n Roll Dreams and Other Poems by Bob Lawrence. Read it now. Read it often. Read it to other people. Ask people to read it to you. If you have a chance, listen to Bob reading his poetry. It’s powerful stuff. It reminds us what poetry can be. It’s not fiction. It’s not film. It’s certainly not TV. It’s poetry, and we’re lucky poets like Bob still see their work as important.

Many of the poems in this chapbook are story poems. In "Synchronicity and Metonymy," he weaves together the story of his mother's death with an account of his own early years living in Chicago. It begins with the father, a piano tuner and accomplished musician, playing a piece and finally getting it right.

He feels relief and accomplishment,
like one who has pushed, pushed, pushed, pushed
on a tire wrench until the lug nut finally

The father goes into the one air conditioned room in the small Long Island house to tell his wife and discovers she has died. Her skin is already cool to the touch. He calls his niece and tells her what happened and then asks, What do I do now? The scene shifts to Chicago where Bob hates his job but loves riding his bike to work:

The path slips beneath my wheels
fluidly as last night’s rain;
the warm air rushes over me
like a benediction

On this particular day he races a stranger:

Like horses racing neck and neck.
we reach the section of the path
across from Buckingham Fountain
From here till McCormick Place
It’s all straightaway, baby!

At work, the usual hum drum is interrupted by a phone call:

"Hello, Bob." My father?!
"I’ve got some bad news:
Your mother died today."

Back home for the funeral, Bob watches his dad wandering through the house like a lost dog. The old man turns on the TV set but television cannot fill in the hollows that take shape in every room. The last passage is this:

and he does something I have
never seen him do: he weeps.

Bob could have told this many ways, but for my money, this is the best. A short narrative poem keeps it all in our head. We can see the father’s work, his wife, his son and the final anguish.

In another story poem Bob talks about rats:

Is this Chicago?
Or the fucking Congo?
Rats do not get that big
in the civilized world.

He also uses the poetry form to write arguments. There’s a lot out there that needs correcting, and Bob finds poetry the best way to point this out and make suggestions. In "The Pledge," he attacks the phrase one nation under god:

What do these words mean? . . .
What’s more, the phrase under God
was meant to distinguish U.S.
from atheistic U.S.S.R.
But if God is up above in skyblue,
the Commies are under God too.

After pointing out the obvious stupidities and inconsistencies, he makes a simple suggestion:

Let us not use
muddled phraseology
to push monotheist theology.

In "Rock 'n Roll Dreams," he speaks out for the old music:

I have a message
for the young blades in the audience.
Who are you to look askance at me!
You lurid latecomers!

He builds the early on the music he loves:

my veins have blazed
with great balls of fire
love potion number nine
and alligator wine.

From there he takes us to his nightmare:

I advised Buddy Holly:
air travel -- safest way to go,
especially in winter

It ends with a final fantasy:

And the young blades will cheer
Instead of jeer, and I’ll be
dancing on the moon.

In other poems, like his Haiku, Bob adheres to strict rules. Here’s one of my favorites:

The ridge of snow
Hanging from the garage roof
Just dropped

There’s a lot more to read in Bob’s chapbook. Four of my favorites are "Superman Gone Wild," "Two Cheers for Long Poems," "Surrealistic Pudding," and "The Wooden Blackbird." The quality is high. You sense his deep interest in the poem. He feels convinced that he has something to say. It’s a confidence I find contagious.

He even has some "One letter Poems":




This last one is worth remembering because it is true and if you need reminding, R.
. . .
DR. ROBERT BOONE, author and educator, named a "Chicagoan of the Year" by Chicago Magazine in 2002 for founding Young Chicago Authors, a nonprofit creative writing organization. He was recently invited for breakfast at the White House. For more information on Bob Boone, check out his website:

Thursday, September 24, 2009


If you listen, sometimes you hear poetry in the most unlikely places. These were all overheard on public television. I'm not in the habit of taking notes, so I can't promise that they are completely verbatim. But they're meant to be.

you aren’t
fortunate enough
to come into
your own
fifty acre
wooded reserve

I suppose
you have
no alternative
to buy your garlic
at the local

. . .


It takes a rare
and special
kind of genius
to rhyme
queen scene
tambourine and

. . .


are not
good as

taste like

Do not

Thursday, September 17, 2009


. . . an epilogue for Michael Reese Hospital:


Here I am with a
step ladder
and a box of light bulbs

standing at the corner
each morning
with my
lunchbox and a thermos
full of coffee

the men in black
lincolns never stop
and the
windows on ellis avenue
are still dark.

© 2009 Matthew S. Barton

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Title: Soul Brother
Author: Matt Barton
Publisher: Naked Mannekin
Format: 7.5 x 5" Chapbook, 20 Pages
List Price: $8.00

The question is: Does Matt Barton get inside of other peoples' heads or do other people get inside of Matt Barton's head? Either way, meeting Soul Brother is like being stuck in an elevator with a talkative escapee from Reality Sanitarium. It's real . . . maybe not your real, but real. It's also intense. And claustrophobic. And a bit uncomfortable. Soul Brother lives and breathes and shares more about his life than you expect. Don't miss Soul Brother.

Inside the mind of Matt Barton is a doorway to skewed universal perspectives. Nothing illustrates this better than “Soul Brother.” Peppered with references to the 1970’s, it is an absolute tribute to what it was like to be a kid during a lost decade. A time when simple things still had complications and heroes were hard to find.

Monday, August 31, 2009


Title: 10
Author: Tom Curry
Publisher: Naked Mannekin
Format: 7.5 x 5" Chapbook, 24 Pages
List Price: $8.00

Tom Curry brings his “A” game to writing and expects his readers to do the same. He is often referred to as an academic poet, or even one of the “neo-beats,” but neither of these is accurate. He is the beat philosopher, one of the founding members of the Waiting 4 the Bus Poetry Collective, who has lead the battle to cure the poetry world of the affliction of genre. His poetry carries the bluntness of Ernest Hemingway and the wit of Oscar Wilde, and he will not dumb it down for a world that has had its senses numbed by reality television. His genius is to wield verse to point out that the emperor is both naked and a bit of a dullard. He is not one to suffer fools lightly. Tom Curry’s collection 10 is smart, witty, and sometimes reveals the incredible idiocy and ignorance of the world’s population. 10 is an antiseptic for the scraped knee of our skewed world view.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


I learned to see as a young art student, filling sketch books with endless drawings of empty bottles and soup cans. Apples, oranges, baskets, bicycle wheels, old shoes: the usual variations on the theme of stuff art teachers find laying around. I learned to see the tried and true way all art students learn: by stripping the world naked. Art teachers have their own repertoire of terms for this, but I prefer my own: I call it honesty. I still stand by the statement I made on the first day of figure drawing class, even if the teacher chastised me for having no imagination. Of course that drawing is long gone, but the image stuck with me:

It has evolved into a searching metaphor, one that has come to define my artistic acumen. It embarasses me to repeat the things I used to say as an art student, but the point was simple enough: I have no taste for bending the world to my imagination. In other words, I prefer the naked mannekins.

Monday, August 24, 2009


I have always been a fan of Steve Martin, so I was a little disappointed to discover the deep vein of misogyny revealed in the pages of Shop Girl. I don't claim to be a literary critic, much less a feminist, but I decided that this required a statement. I have often fantasized about throwing books out of windows or dropping them into sewer grates, but this time I decided it was time to indulge in one of my more elaborate fantasies. I clamped my copy of Shop Girl in my guillotine cutter, chopped it into tiny pieces and stuffed the remains into a pickle jar. Every now and then I pull pieces out to see if there is anything worth keeping. So, here is a meager handful of poetry that seemed to deserve a little mercy. I promise every word belongs to Steve Martin. I added nothing:


She maneuvers the
topic elsewhere

go on the room implies
those times
when a man is watching
hoping to
come across as a vixen

moves her eyes away
and stands there
fills in a background of oily

leaves the eerie
floating nude image of
herself in white.

. . .


Little is said
a vixen floating
nude in white
skillfully stands there

enjoys what is given back
and forth
maneuvers the oily
black background

and realizes that nothing
fills those times

when her eyes move away
hoping to come
across the
image of herself elsewhere

exactly when
a man is watching.

. . .


She skillfully
maneuvers the
the eerie
floating image of

her monotony
moves her eyes away
and stands there
hoping to
come across

the oily black
the room implies
dutifully fills in a vixen

enjoys those times
nothing is answered
little is said
files them in her purse.

. . .


She fills in the background
her eyes away from oily black
sentences in her purse

exactly the same
nothing implies a floating nude image of
herself in white and
she realizes

that she enjoys what is given
skillfully moves
the monotony of the room
when a man is watching

stands there
those times hoping to
leave the topic elsewhere
little is said.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Title: Plato’s Basement
Author: Matt Barton
Publisher: Naked Mannekin
Format: 6 x 4” Chapbook, 40 Pages
List Price: $8.00

Plato’s Basement is an amazing poem: angry, urgent and filled with the human need to understand the puzzle of life. Matt Barton drew on his own childhood experiences to come up with the careful choice of words that comprise this epic brooding: a must-have for all serious poetry readers. Barton has written a lot of excellent poetry of late, and this (at least so far) is his crowning touch.

As with all of Matt Barton's work, Plato's Basement aims at something more fundamental than one man's struggle. Through an extremely judicious and painstakingly minimalist use of language, Plato's Basement gets at the internal struggles we all face, the dark spaces within all of us: namely, the inner demons hatched and nurtured by a violent past.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Title: Blood
Author: Kristin LaTour
Publisher: Naked Mannekin
Format: 7.5 x 5" Chapbook, 32 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-60725-953-4
List Price: $8.00

In the distance, something leans like a buttress to keep whatever-it-is from falling over like daddy drunk. I don’t know what whatever-it-is is but I think I should. I think I own it. So, yeah, I should know. Bulldozers cut a swathe wide enough for I-don’t-know-what and sweaty men dig in the heat, tearing up the backdrop of my world and I don’t know why in spite of the fact that, like I said, I think I own it and I think I should know. Scars are inventoried and surgery goes wrong, and friends and enemies and humans and such are killed like so many insects for no apparent reason other than it was planned by who-knows-who. I stand and stare transfixed, waiting for a bulletin of late-breaking news to clue me in before the next commercial break. I don’t think everything will work itself out in the last couple of minutes before the closing credits roll this time. No...the maniac piano speed silent movie music doesn’t sound like it’s anywhere near wrapping up yet. And these people. These people wander around like lost snowflakes, ignoring the cunning rhythms of the bulldozers and sweaty men digging. These people whisper quiet booze talk or scream lustful innuendo or fall silent with pain so intense sound can’t do it justice. They’re all and losers, violator and violated...rushing to bad ends together. And—when all is said and done—I can’t get the taste of all of this out of my brain. It’s like I just rummaged through clammy hearts and mucked about in hidden passions and lost my grip on myself in the process. Too much surgery. Too many funerals. And, still, I want to go back for more. This is what it’s like to have read Kristin LaTour’s BLOOD.


Words, in Kristin LaTour’s new chapbook Blood, are used like a precision instrument in exploratory surgery, like “a needle passed in the flicker of a match flame” to pierce, probe, and investigate. She takes us “to the serrated edge,” conducts “an inventory of scars,” and refuses to offer false assurances. Always one to push limits, she writes with an unsettling blend of passion, compassion, and sardonic wit. Enjoy!

--THEODORE DEPPE, author of Orpheus on the Red Line, Tupelo Press, 2009.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Simply put, Tom Curry is one of my favorite poets. His collection of poetry 10 is one of my earliest collaborations, and it remains one of my favorites. Tom is one of the veteran members of the Waiting 4 The Bus Poetry Collective, and it is my privilege to bring his poetry to broader audiences by producing this slim volume of poetry. 10 is still in its first edition; however, I am pleased to say that it is now in it's second printing.

Tom is an unrepentant iconoclast, continually honing his unique blend of philosophical hair splitting tempered with uncompromising and unapologetic bohemian rancor. His poetry is primarily concerned with the realm of thought, doggedly wrestling with those grand ideas that lie at the center of most things; however, these are not dry philosophical treatises. He approaches thought the way a painter approaches a blank canvas, carefully distilling the rushing tableau of ideas into planes and intersecting lines, form, space and proportion. Like a painter, Tom chooses his vantage point and his palette carefully in order to illuminate the barest sliver of what is possible in order to hint at what might otherwise be overwhelmingly incomprehensible.

There is a stunning
and beauty in the inner workings
of nature that
human eyes have never seen

hydrogen atoms
joining forces with oxygen
in the primordial soup

the Double Helix
unwinding itself in a delicate life-giving dance

parallel lines intersecting at
impossibly distant
horizons in Euclidian planes

the building blocks of logic
and reason
revealed only by the rare insight and
deft hands of those few

exceptional people
generous enough to share them with us

Antoine von Leeuwenhoek grinding
his lenses Gustav Eiffel
playing with tinker toys Louis Bleriot making
gossamer wings
out of canvas and twigs

and then there is Tom Curry
showing us the
simplicity, elegance and beauty
lurking right under our

own noses just beyond the limits
of our own perception
and it is a
beautiful thing to behold.

© 2009 Matthew S. Barton

There is a frantic quality to Tom Curry’s ravings and an unrelenting rage bubbling up from deep recesses of frustration and disgust; however, what is most remarkable about 10 is not the driving sense of urgency steeped into every page. Rather, it is the pervasive sense of understatement: his deft use of Achem's razor. In the end, what is most striking about 10 is not the grand scope of Tom Curry's vision; but rather it is his uncanny reticence, his economy of words and his unsparing need to stick to the point. In spite of everything, a man of very few words.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


12 min.

1 Bulgarian Themed Cafe

1 doz. Poets

1 pkg. Catcher in the Rye

Assemble poets in a poorly lit back room with Bulgarian pop songs playing at the edge of hearing on a television set, preheat oven to 325º. Cut Catcher in the Rye into ½” strips. Each poet takes one strip at random and edits it into a line of poetry. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir vigorously. Format and punctuate to taste.

Here is Salinger's corpse, in more legible form:

She was lousy
with dough
very dixieland and whorehouse

I thought of
her going in a store
and nobody
knowing she was a prostitute
that depressed me

I could see my mother
asking a million
dopy questions
about as kindhearted
as a goddamn wolf

it was pretty late and all
she lived at
the stanford arms
on broadway

I really don’t
understand sex
making up these sex
rules for myself

and then I break them
what’s the matter
whuddaya want
my voice shaking like hell

takin’ the five
you owe me
and I certainly didn’t feel like
getting my brains beat out.

These words aren't mine, so I invite anyone to write their own Salinger corpse from this source material. Here are a few lines I put together. Every word belongs to Salinger; I added nothing:


All of the sudden
this lady
sat down next to me

we went to see
some movie
I know you’re supposed to
feel pretty sexy

when someone pulls
their dress
over their head
but I didn’t

she did it so
sudden and all.

. . .


I thought of
my mother
asking a million questions

about the
stanford arms
very dixieland and whorehouse
that depressed me

making up these
rules for myself and then
I break them
shaking like hell

it was pretty late
and I certainly
didn’t feel like going to
another hotel.

. . .


I was a lousy wolf
my voice shaking like hell
making up these dopy
rules for myself

knowing she was a prostitute
a million kindhearted
I didn’t feel like asking

the thought of
my brains getting beat out

it was pretty late and
she lived at a whorehouse
I really don’t
understand what depressed me.

. . .


She was shaking
like hell
and nobody
thought of asking

what’s the matter
with that
dixieland prostitute

asking a million dopy
and getting my brains beat out
on broadway

I certainly didn’t want
her lousy
whorehouse sex
and you owe me stanford.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Blood is my latest collaboration with Aurora poet Kristin LaTour. It has been my pleasure to work with her to bring this collection of poetry together, and I look forward to publishing it some time next month. Kristin is a member of the Waiting 4 The Bus Poetry Collective, and I have enjoyed performing with her and watching her think. Working on this project has given me renewed appreciation for Kristin's artistry, and I look forward to more collaborations like this.

Autumn Todd Photography

Kristin demonstrates a keen grasp of intimacy, skillfully making use of perspective in order to enlist the empathy of her readers and audiences in an unflinching series of voyeuristic glances. These are claustrophobic glances into uncomfortable corners, where most of us would simply look the other way.

Imagine the tiny
of air inside
a soap bubble

around a backyard
struggling against
its own demise

pushing and
against fate

a thin soapy
holding oceans of
air at bay
uniquely alive

for just a moment
of silky
too good to last

listen for the
calamity of rushing air
momentary spasm

across the face of the universe
you will hear
the voice
of Kristin LaTour.

© 2009 Matthew S. Barton

There is a self evident quality to Blood, as if Kristin LaTour has simply pulled back a curtain on the pain and suffering that are the subtext of our own lives, inviting us to see it with new eyes. Given the subject matter, the imagery is spare and remarkably restrained, refusing to indulge the gluttonous appetites of our cynical blood-soaked imaginations. Instead, we are invited to set aside our conditioned responses to blood in order to take a closer look. Perhaps a more considerate, more compassionate look, without looking the other way.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Are the colors really this
washed out
or is it the kodachrome
spreading turpentine

across my
mind’s eye rewriting
history between
yellowing sheets of glassine

I am crawling
across a blue shag carpet
and it is funny somehow
learning to walk knee high to
the saint bernards

always looking up at
the viaduct where the
freight trains smashed my pennies
into long flat disks

although I would still
rather have a sour apple
tootsie roll even if there are hundreds
to choose from

and even though one day I will be
the sad looking
man with a day old beard

pressing my face
against the glass staring
at an insurance
salesman sitting at his desk

where the penny candy used
to be who
doesn’t know what happened
to old mister randall

and never really
thought about what the
world is coming to

just another
street corner anachronism
like all the others wondering
out loud

why I should pay a dollar
for a candy bar at a gas station
of all places.

© 2008 Matthew S. Barton

Monday, July 27, 2009


For me, poetry has always been an exercise in futility. A moment of recognition, invariably seen through the lens of recollection, polished in the grist mills of hindsight, reduced to melodrama and hung on the backs of mannequins in department store windows. The fact that I relish this process secures my status as a gentle lunatic, arranging cardboard cameos in shadowbox dioramas, offering imperfect still life depictions for shoppers passing by on the sidewalk. And yet, this is exactly the sort of futility that preoccupies me. Tirelessly searching people’s eyes for a flash of recognition, daring me to believe that a small kernel of truth might be revealed if properly arranged within the clutter.

Naked Mannekin is exactly that: a cold hard look at moments of simple truth hidden in plain sight. Moments captured in a butterfly net and pinned to the wall. There are no landscapes here, no surveyors connecting the dots of understanding, and no one to define the center of my intellectual compass rose. I intend to go where the poetry takes me, come what may.