A Card Table at Joe Bazooka Press
I've always had a certain international charm. Touring Europe at 19, I was a big hit with the ladies. There was the Italian on the train, the Brit in the club, and the island girl whose life I saved with my water bottle. Back when I was big man on campus--and trust me, when you return to your small twon college after living ten years in the big city, you're de facto big man--the girls loved me, especially the foreign ones. Like the hot Czechoslovakian in the mini-trench and fog, who, after making slow, sweet love in the blinking neon hotel, said (huskily), "You have cigarette for me?" (At least that's how I choose to remember it.) And the last time I was in Paris on my honeymoon with my (least favorite) ex-wife, I remember the cute blonde Parisian concierge, with her gaggle of equally cute girlfriends, saying, "We give you better room, charge you less money. Because we like the way you look." See? International appeal.
Got some more poems up over there in England at the Railroad Poetry Project (http://issuu.com/railroadpoetryproject/docs/issue3). Not sure why they like me so much more overseas. Probably has something to do with delusions and no one liking me more or less anywhere. My friend Matt told me this saying he heard once. "When I was in my 20s, I cared what other people thought of me; and when I was in my 40s, I didn't give a damn what other people thought of me; and when I was in my 60s, I realized, they were never thinking of me." Except I'm not in my 60s. I still have some fight left in me.
The stuff over at Railroad pretty much taps me of all of my poetry. I haven't written a new poem in five years, and like quitting smoking, now that I've kicked the dirty habit, I ain't gonna start back up now. But I'm glad these poems have found homes, because I always liked them, even when I was getting them rejected daily with the "Dear Writer, your work doesn't suit our current editorial needs," which is the literary version of "it's not you, it's me." Editorial needs? Like there's some master plan for bringing coherence to the Poetic Force.
I so wanted to be a Jedi. I bought Holden a lightsaber for Christmas. It's too late for me. But he still has a chance...
The only "editorial needs" a magazine has is to fill its pages with the best material possible. But writers are such a fickle, disturbed lot, you got to let them down easily, like firing someone on a Friday; no reason to take any chances of someone burning the place down.
Most literary magazines are run by writers. Because let's face it, who the fuck else is going to waste their time sifting through the slush pile of shitty break-up poems by girls named Jennifer and 30-page plotless stories about rainy parking lots? It's like the old Bukowski joke about attending a poetry reading. Who goes to poetry readings? Other fucking poets.
I've been toying with the idea of starting up one of my own lit mags. I've edited a few in the past, and by keeping it online, you get around that whole nagging budget issue. Not that keeping it digital doesn't come with its own set of problems. Namely, who's going to design the thing? I finally found someone to combine all my sites (http://www.joeclifford.com/, et al), so I should have Wordpress capabilities to create an online journal. But that doesn't exactly help me out, since I can barely navigate around blogger, which is pretty much set up so a three-year-old can do it. My mind just doesn't work spatially. The last thing I tried to assemble is the drawing desk down in my office, and if you look closely, you can see where I abandoned trying to screw the goddamn thing together and just used wood glue.
My friend over in England, Jade, says he'll help. You might remember Jade (http://tinyurl.com/7e7x47y). He was half the creative force behind the Railroad Poetry Project. He's since left, so he has the time (and the experience) to lend a hand. But he isn't a web guy, either. So I still need someone with design skills. Boy, there's one thing I regret not trying to learn. If I a flux capacitor and could go back, man, I'd learn how to create web pages. I spend half my life trying to A.) find a designer, and B.) even worse, finding one, and then harassing them to help me update my site.
But this is about literature! The chance to get in on the the first floor for a ride that may--just may--end up taking us someday to a card table in some shitty Midwestern town for an AWP Conference, where you, too, can be surrounded by stuck-up douche bags, hasbeens, and neverweres, who hold council next to their stacks of signed chapbooks from Joe Bazooka Press. What'd'ya say? Any takers? Drop me a line.
Speaking of Jade, he recently asked some folks to videotape themselves reading one of his poems, which he is putting up on his blog. Not sure what he's hoping to accomplish, other than performing the requisite endless, shameless pimping/whoring of one's own work. It is what we do as writers after all, especially in this digital age. For all you wondering what I look like first thing in the morning after a long Christmas run; after Holden's woken me up at 4 a.m., I'm running low on coffee, and the sun is starting to sprinkle its shine prematurely into my castle, here you go: http://tinyurl.com/6px6w9a.