Monday, September 28, 2009

Announcing Clela Reed's new book *Bloodline*

Dear Friends and Family,

My small book of poetry Bloodline is now available at on the Publications tab. Thanks for the interest many of you have shown in my poetry publications. Dancing on the Rim is still available at the Borders Bookstore in Athens and through the publisher's website
and through

I'm pasting below comments made about Bloodline.


"These are powerful and lucid poems, alive with true sentiment, but never sentimental, about that inexhaustible, that each-one-different but each-one-the-same subject: family." 

Thomas Lux,  winner of Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, author of God Particles (2008)


"The warm bloodline in these twenty-six uncommonly refined poems flows from Clela Reed's wise and tempered heart, extending not only to family -- pioneer ancestors, ailing parents, siblings, husband and sons -- but also to her Southern homeland, victims of Pompeii, characters from Little Women, trees and flowers and birds. Readers, too, will feel welcomed by these gracious poems, each one conversing in measured tones, each one honoring the joys or sorrows of ordinary life. Open this love-affirming chapbook made by skillful hands: be touched, be embraced, be 'taken actually under someone's wing.'"

 Therese L. Broderick, prize-winning poet, workshop leader, author of Within View

"Clela Reed has so many stories—folksy, sensuous, arresting.  Over the years they have grown more taut, more deft and fluent, without losing the poignancy and arrest of how we meet or do not meet and know each other:  Her father, listening to clouds, her mother in dementia where 'within her walls all seasons blur.' Such moments come with a vivid context of the physical world.  Domestic or wild, this space is shot with unexpected wonder, as Reed bears tough witness to the stark and fragile links that make us whole."

Linda Taylor, poet and professor of English, Oglethorpe University


Friday, September 25, 2009

My Wife Warned Me And I Did It Anyway Spontaneous Poems Keith Badowski

My new chapbook, My Wife Warned Me And I Did Anyway: Spontaneous Poems, will debut on Thursday Oct. 1st, 2009 at the First Thursday Poetry Reading. This monthly series is held at 7 pm at Columbus State University: Schwob School of Music, Choral Practice Room,900 Broadway Columbus, Georgia 31901. There will be an open mic, and this month, I will be the featured poet. The poems published in "My Wife Warned Me" are the results of the poetry prompts and challenges I've tackled on my blog: There Goes the Top of My Head.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Ballad of Raquel Raccoon

Date: Sun, 20 Sep 2009 22:38:21 -0400
From: Anderson Frazer
To: Keith Badowski
Subject: Re: Poetry Challenge


Spontaneous love or the spontaneous end of love might be interesting.

Something odd would be a poem describing a teenage boy's love for Rachel Raccoon l.

Have fun

The Ballad of Raquel Raccoon by Keith Badowski
--after Lennon/McCartney, to the tune of Rocky Raccoon

Now one night back behind a dumpster in Alabama,
A young boy laid eyes on sweet Raquel Raccoon
And right then forgot the drugs he planned to buy—
knew he couldn’t be shy. Raquel didn’t like that.
She said, I’m gonna get you boy!
So by dawn, she squawked around town,
cooked him up some doom at the greasy spoon.

Raquel Raccoon worked the whole room
to cast the love sick boy as vile.
The young boy showed up in hopes to make up
and love Raquel till they were senile.

His name was Capote and he reached in his coat
but everyone thought him a bandit.
Someone yelled, Gun! although there was none—
like flies they all buzzed for the exit.
Now he showed Raquel his purty cowbell
and humbled himself down on one knee.
A cop then appeared, but Capote just sneered
although in his pants he had just peed.
The policeman was buff, his grip was quite rough
and threw young Capote on the counter, Ah

Raquel moaned, Stop! to hold back the cop
and whimpered him clear out the doorway.
She said, Capote, my walls have finally fell
And Capote said, Raq, it’s only a bell
And I’ll do better, I’ll do better, Raq, by the time it’s your birthday.

And now Raquel Raccoon was a bride by that noon,
wearing boots made out of a reptile.
At his bedside, and their love knot was tied
to help with good Capote’s revival, Ah
Oh, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!

Friday, September 18, 2009

For the Want of Wear

From: Max Karl Grimm
Sent: Tuesday, September 15, 2009 10:58 PM
To: "Keith Badowski"
Subject: Max Karl Grimm wrote on your Wall...

Max posted something on your Wall and wrote:

"Hello my friend,
How about a poem that stems from a dream that caused you to change something in your life? Much love and many blessings to you and yours,

For the Want of Wear by Keith Badowski

In my dream, the wind sleeps and no one breathes.
All night I’m a footpath blanketed with gravel,
bored without bicycles, not a sneaker to disturb me.
Numb with immobility, I long to be combed by a rake.

The absence of honeysuckle, the irrelevance of flowers
stirs no dread until I step from the untrodden black.
As if a drowned man revived, I gasp for air,
breathe deep of the atmosphered room of this grand hotel.

Unbathed, in slippered feet and rumpled pajamas,
I descend to the lobby, shuffle passed the lure of bacon
and bolt for the parking lot where I grab fistfuls of gravel
to throw to the sunlight, to the grass, the air of life.

Note: I tried the random pick-a-word again with O’Hara, but my finger stabbed the word “wings.” I was horrified! Wrote, “No, not a dream of flight again!” So in revulsion, my imagination fled in the opposite direction. As in the last poem, I set myself a limit of 12 lines, as much out of time consideration as anything. Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" informed the line: "I step from the untrodden black." Frost's poem also helped me in titling mine.

This poem marks my 6th spontaneous poem since I set my goal of 12. I’m starting to get doubtful that I’ll actually complete 12 in enough time to get the chapbook printed by Oct. 1st. I’ll have to check with the printer to see how close I can cut it. Those keeping track will note that this prompt also came in on Tuesday, Sept. 15th. Writing of the poem didn’t happen until today.

Life Is Wearing Me Down

Prompt given in-person by Hilde Holmes on Tuesday, September 15th at lunch:
“Life is wearing me down.”

Voyage by Keith Badowski

Cordage frayed in my weathered rigging,
the roll about my hull sunk with the anchor,

my poopdeck rotted from the rub of swabs and
my cabin flooded from the splash of waves.

No port to embrace this buffeted boat,
no more to plunge with salmon

amid the perilous seas.
A life surrendered to chaffing and pounding,

waterlogged wet and glare glazed sight,
enfolded in tides, tugged by currents.

The barnacles of memories fastened
although I swam swifter than any whale.

Note: The conceit of a rundown ship came from the word “cordage.” This was the word I blindly pointed to while randomly flipping pages in The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara edited by Donald Allen. Other words from O’Hara include “salmon” and “enfolded,” as well as a few others. Throughout writing the poem I sought the guidance of randomly selected words, but in many instances could do nothing with the word my finger landed on. Still having O’Hara’s words nearby gave me the confidence that I could find another word to keep going, especially once I settled on the language of ships and the sea. Words like “poopdeck,” “swab,” and “barnacles” came naturally to mind. Oh, and for the record, my own busy life that wears me down didn't allow me to work on Hilde's prompt until today.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Spontaneous Poem, Monday Sept. 14th

From: Keith Badowski
Sent: Monday, September 14, 2009 8:32 AM
To: Linda Ames
Subject: Monday Poetry Challenge?

Hi Linda:

How about giving me a poetry challenge for today?

As for challenges/prompts, anything goes: strange topic, specific form, an image, a question, a first line, phrase that must be used, a reference that must be included, etc.

If you don't mind, let's not go with random words like the last couple have.
I need a break from that angle if possible.

Thanks in advance!


From: Linda Ames
To: Keith Badowski
Subject: RE: Monday Poetry Challenge?
Date: Mon, 14 Sep 2009 10:55:23 -0400

A phrase: "The Pain Royal" (or if you prefer, "A Royal Pain") and here is the further suggestion.

I was recently photographing a cemetery in Turner County. Among the gravesites were several children’s graves with just their names and no date: Daniel Lee, Estell, Oscar, Ruby, Ruth, and Willie - "At Rest".

I thought about doing a poem, but have not yet been inspired to write since I'm more involved in some focused genealogy research.

So, I hope this helps inspire something for you.

Thanks, Linda

For the Children ‘At Rest’ in a Turner County Cemetery by Keith Badowski

Deep beneath the stage of soil
Amenities exclude signposts
Numberless apartments swapped around
Inside an inky womb for always
Earthen playground where giggles burrow
Loam for breakfast, loam for lunch

Layers of unconsciousness, layers of unsaids
Erosion of baby teeth, of cartilage
Eyelashes engulfed into earthworms

Egg of Eve expended
Spade cuts the soil, spill pours down
Tobacco roots drape like a tassel
Exchange this embryo for an embankment
Locket for the pocketless
Lace folded with the linen

Open the door on otherwise
Suppose Oscar was your brother
Cape wearer, candy welsher
Ambitious academic but admirably available
Reverse such regard—God refused it

Raise this radiant rock
Up unscathed
Before the tinkling bell of belief
Yes, Yahweh, I yearn for my young

Rack after rack of remaining rations
Unschooled in kitchen utensils
Tablecloth, teapot, teaspoon, sand-timer
Hunger alone inhabits her household

Well read, well spoken, well know, well-to-do
In the in-crowd of innocents
Laughs, larks, licorice, and lightning bugs
Lips to lick and legs to limber
Invitation to such an inventive island where
Every dead child is equipped for his extended family

Note: These were mostly completed yesterday, but I didn’t have time to type them and slightly tweak them until this morning. I love alliteration--way too much for my own good! Throughout the writing of these, I flipped through a Dictionary one letter at a time to find words with the same first letter that make interesting lines together. The idea to make a collection of acrostic poems that spell the names Linda gave me probably came from the fact that acrostics were among the earliest type of poem I remember writing. One of my elementary school teachers taught acrostics to me and set all us kids to writing them, using our own names as the starting point. Since these are poems about the names of children on graves, I instinctively thought I ought to use the form I learned first in childhood. I imagine most of these verses though are in the voice of the surviving parents.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Spontaneous Poetry, Sunday, September 13th

From: "Facebook"
Sent: Sunday, September 13, 2009 12:26 PM
To: "Keith Badowski"
Subject: Elsie Austin sent you a message on Facebook...

Elsie sent you a message.

Re: Poetry Challenge for Sunday

ew...but, what's on my mind today is boring, but, here goes...and, if you can make anything lovely out of this, I will make your favorite dessert for Oct. 1...

steering committee
treasurer's reports
travel expense
food, drink and snacks
seed money
registrar reports
paint peeling
paint drying
snooze fest
thing a noose around my neck
creative non-fiction
literary agents
ad infinitum
ad nauseum
writers' conferences
turnip seeds
swine flu
avian flu

I do apologize in advance but trust that twinkle in your eye! Best of good fortune on making this anything lovely and fun....Elsie

Inpawspicious Beginning by Keith Badowski

We needs have words, Mr. Doggie Doo!
I see you there in my bed comfy as can be.
I know your spraying sneeze is no avian flu
and your eviction requires no steering committee.

This snooze fest, you’ve milked it, it’s over!
You’ve filed no travel expenses, no budget requests
so I’m certain you’re no flunky to President Rover.
If you push it, I’ll launch a formal inquest

to determine just what you do to deserve food,
drink, and snacks, turning my seed money to compost.
Your paws across the drying paint disclaim you’re good,
as does the treasurer’s report on the missing pot roast.

It would be different if your paws could type
or hold a pencil and you could maybe write a grant.
In this age of post-postmodernism the time is ripe
for a dog to write fiction in addition to scratch and pant.

See I’d like something tangible from the honoraria
I gift you—the way I get turnips from turnip seeds.
So far you fake swine flu and I play the man from Samaria
but instead now it’s going to be manuscripts I decree.

We’ll need duct tape to fasten a pencil to your pads
and I suggest you try creative non-fiction before poetry.
I heard “write what you know” over and over ad
infinitum, and you know so well how to pee on a tree.

Don’t worry about a thing; I’ll be your literary agent
and groove you a career as straight as a roto tiller.
You must write as richly as your most pungent scent
and the writer’s conferences will teach you to cut filler.

In no time, you’ll have the upper paw in all the contests
and spur a canine literary movement or even a school.
Write a bestseller on ball-chasing in Budapest
and follow that up with a manifesto on doggie drool.

Oxford or Yale would surely put you on the faculty
and Pet Smart might release that collar around my neck.
Glowing registrar reports will assure a tenure trajectory—
in doggie years of course, and kibble in place of check.

Don’t give me those Benji eyes, you furry little hack!
Wasn’t I right when I advised against eating peeling paint?
Telling you what to do ad nauseum is my bestest knack.
On Facebook we’ll even find you a German Patron Saint—

let’s call her, let’s say, something like Saint Anastasia,
and when you have writer’s block, she’ll be your council
trade you inspiration for your output of anesthesia
and when you bark, NO, she’ll reply, “Yo Vil, Yo Vil, Yo Vil!”

Note: As you can see, I had some silly fun with this one. Also I’ll confess I cheated on a few of the phrases and words, changing the form, the order, and even altering the word completely. Yet you should be able to find some semblance of each item Elsie gave me. I normally don’t rhyme in my “all my own” poetry, but the spontaneous challenges sometimes bring it out in me, usually for comic effect. You’ll have to let me know, Elsie, if this qualifies for that dessert!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Spontaneous Poetry, Friday Sept. 11th

From: Anastasia Tikka
Sent: Thursday, September 10, 2009 12:18 AM
To: Keith Badowski
Subject: Poetry Challenge

Hello Keith,

Well... (you might hate me!)

I made a list of my favorite words, and whittled it down to the most beautiful and unusual fifteen: nouns, adjectives, verbs - five each.

They're random... have fun!







Revelation Revisited by Keith Badowski

Determined to aestivate on the island of Patmos,
no eschaton in mind, just vacation,
I was lusory as a rectory
with my head resting on warm rock
within the creeping penumbra
of daily rented umbrella.

Although I’m no Earl of Yarborough,
I would have bet against it:
an echoic voice so cataclysmic
it elicited a metamorphic subtraction—
if I were still corporeal,
I was now Neolithic!

I was crumpled by a bathysmal waterfall
and out of such pressure and darkness peered
seven pair of chatoyant eyes
whose glimmer was tyrant over my being
and whose stare weltered my lips
with a nectar of honeycomb.

Like a prophetic prodigy
I grasped I was crushed before the Syzygy—
none other than the Trinity!
My tosticated awareness reeled
as They precisely expurgated
every raunchy pleasure I ever instigated.

All my futures imbricated
and like domino falls They mandated
that all my Poker games would be stalemated.
They revealed how this old blasphemer
would so very soon fly on gossamer.
Yet my mortal life they would elongate,
in fact promised to quinquiplicate
all my earthly days!

I struggled to address Their omnipresence
but my questions dissipated like frankincense
and I had to acquiesce as They simply
and utterly evanesced.

Note: You might notice that I got Anastasia’s challenge on Thursday morning. I’ll admit I needed some extra time for this one. It took over an hour just to research all the words I didn’t already know. Then Thursday turned out to be too full for any devoted writing time. So today, Friday, I set about to manufacture some semblance of a poem from these very difficult words. The sets of words grated against all my instincts for poetry. I love interesting words, YES. However, if a poem has more than 2 words that I have to pull out a dictionary to understand, there is something deeply wrong. Mostly the poems I write (and the poems I enjoy) must be in a familiar language heard in a slightly different plane from normal conversation. Difficult words usually distract from the experience of the poem which ought to produce the illusion of a speaker. In this case, I think I tried to make sure the speaker had a profound experience so that his highfalutin words would seem applicable. Interestingly, Biblical language usually tends to be simple and accessible. Revelation is probably the least accessible book of the Bible, not because of the language, but because of the symbolism and coded terminology.

This was a very rough challenge, but I think the results are interesting and I did learn a few new words—at least for a short while.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Spontaneous Poetry, Tuesday September 8th

From: Ron Self
Sent: Tuesday, September 08, 2009 11:30 AM
To: Keith Badowski
Subject: Re: Keith's chapbook plan

You asked for it. Here's your challenge: I just got back from the dentist. How about writing a poem using all of the following dentist-related terms without mentioning dentist or dental visit? Here are the terms: crown, cavity, brush, floss, filling, amalgam, and root canal. In other words, write a poem not about dentists or dental visits but somehow using the terminology of dentistry.

Beneath by Keith Badowski 9-08-2009

Deep down in the bowels of my basement
where I’ve stored the amalgam of all my dada,
there you will find a guitar strung with floss
which of course could never be tuned.

When last I ventured into the dark cavity
to find those soldier dolls armed with bouquets,
I fell like Jack and banged my crown, crawled up
cursing Ebay. Filling shelves, loading every nook

runs in our family. Uncle Gus saved spatulas
and shoeshine brushes, ketchup bottles
and army cots. No different really from
my penchant for implausibles like that turntable

needled with a cat’s tooth. The tongue
of my imagination keeps probing
that festering gap, for who can have
too many harmonica mobiles

or shoeboxes swaddled in Sunday comics
or lanyards stolen from the dresser-drawers
of school chums’ parents? Yet out of sight
needs not mean out of mind, as you, my spouse,

my kids, and even my parents (acting as if
you expect to outlive me), chide me to purge
the bins of bird call pipes, and pipe cleaner
cake toppers, to lance my hoard of Play-Doh

body-part molds, and once and for all to root
canal those insidious bags of belly
button lint I saved for posterity, a legacy
you’d trade in an instant for oral surgery.

This fondest hope I hereby bequeath
that when I’m dead and deeper, if not before,
you might creep down this decay of steps
perhaps to curettage all I have gathered

only to discover vast gaps, not crowding—
room enough to spare for your endless beneath,
room enough for a spiral tower (of all things)
composed of all our ancestor’s baby teeth.

Note: I combined Ron’s challenge with an assignment from Bonni Goldberg’s Room to Write: Daily Invitation to a Writer’s Life. The assignment appears on p. 115: Today describe your basement and probe its contents in writing. Pay attention to all your senses. Notice whether what you discover has symbolic potential.

I don’t actually have a basement, but I did have an Uncle Gus who collected a wide variety of oddities. The lanyard was pilfered from Billy Collins. The "Play-Doh body molds" were filched from Tim Healy. The "belly button lint" was robbed from my high school drama teacher Mr. Burgers. The "pipe cleaner cake toppers" were swiped from a Google search, as was the concept of a tower of teeth...but the one I saw on the net was repulsive, made of diseased human teeth.

The rest of the items are primarily mine. But it is actually hard to claim ownership of anything really. It is my opinion that the most basic form of art is collage. Our minds, our very imaginations are collections of various junk and treasures that seep in and become reconfigured within us.

Poetry Stunt Leading Up To Oct 1st Reading

Here's what I propose: a Spontaneous Poetry chapbook.

Between now and Sept 22nd, I will take on 12 challenges for spontaneous poetry. That will leave a week to get the results printed as a chapbook, before my "feature" reading on Thursday October 1st in Columbus, GA. I won't be aiming for slick or pretty. This will be a "cheap" book that draws its energy from speed and uninhibited creativity. I might even include scans of some of the original handwritten pages. I also might include some of the earlier spontaneous poems.

I won't be printing very many copies of this thing. I'd say no more than 125 or 150. I'll be publishing this as a Brick Road Poetry Press book with the logo and our company info. I'm not too concerned about an ISPN or barcode. Mainly I see this as a poetry stunt, nothing more, nothing less.

As for challenges/prompts, anything goes: random words, strange topic, specific form, an image, a question, a first line, phrase that must be used, a reference that must be included, etc.

I will spend 45 - 60 minutes on each challenge. Maybe longer if time permits that same day. I will only solicit the challenge on the day I will tackle the challenge, so there will be no forethought.

If you are reading this and wish to be solicited for a prompt, shoot me an email at "the bearded poet at hot mail dot com" (eliminate the spaces and substitute @ for at).

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

FW: Borders Reading

Hi, Ron and Keith~

Just a note to let you know that there were 45 folks at my reading tonight at Borders. We sold out of books (30 all together) and gave promises to several about restocking Borders tomorrow. Some had already bought the book by other means and brought theirs to be signed.

Lots of loyal friends and even a few I didn't know who saw the announcement in the paper. The events coordinator was amazed as she started out with 8 chairs set up and had to keep putting out more until it was standing room only. I'm forwarding a photo someone took with his iPhone and sent to my iPhone.

Very trippy! Thought you'd like to know. ;-)


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