Thursday, October 23, 2008

MK Chavez/John Sweet, “Next Exit: Nine” (KSE no. 112), now available

The ninth and second-to-last installment in Kendra Steiner Editions' "Next Exit" series of chapbooks—-a series devoted to poems rooted in a strong sense of place—- is now available. MK Chavez (from Berkeley, California) and John Sweet (from New York state) are friends and also admirers of each other's work, so pairing them for a joint chapbook seemed like a natural. MK and John write about beauty and pain in styles that are rich yet understated, jagged yet warm, and ultimately disquieting. The people whose lives they document in their work are human versions of the blades of grass that somehow manage to grow through the cracks in the asphalt. Travel the desert backroads where Gram Parsons spent his last hours; walk through a world of domestic violence and pickup truck gun racks; take a sobering trip to San Quentin; taste the stolen and desperate kisses; harvest the empty garden.

Eleven brand-new poems written specifically for this project from two of the most distinctive American poets—poems that perfectly capture 2008 America.

MK Chavez is the author of Virgin Eyes (Zeitgeist Press) and Visitation (Kendra Steiner Editions) and an active participant in the San Francisco/Bay Area poetry community. She is a poet greatly admired by her colleagues and has been a joy to work with on her two KSE projects.

John Sweet, author of the much-acclaimed Human Cathedrals (Ravenna Press), has been an important voice in the alternative poetry world for at least 15 years. His blog and more recently his myspace page have been offering powerful, expertly crafted new poetry on a regular basis. Recent collections of his work include False Hope, Between Truth and Mercy, and World Without Sound. John is a true artist, and it has been an honor to work with him on this project.
Don't miss this one, folks. These Next Exit chaps generally sell out in 8 weeks or so. $4 US/ $5 elsewhere (postpaid).Ordering information can be found at:

Friday, October 17, 2008

keeping score

takes the dog out late at night,
lets it shit in the neighbor’s yard

full moon, middle of october

siren at the firehouse
without warning

river of bones
flowing toward the interstate

oceans of blood,

Friday, October 10, 2008


says to me says jesus rides again like
we both believe there are lions in the holy land
like we both assume that all
children will grow up

september you see and the hazy light of
10:00 a.m. the screams of birds
and i have given up on prayer have stopped
memorizing the names of saints

wish only that the days were warmer

that i had answers for all of the
obvious questions gathering like dust in the
corners of my living room

and so i believe in the roots of trees in
fingers crawling through the dirt to wrap
around forgotten bones and so i come to you
with a handful of heartfelt lies

i turn away from my mother from my sister
in shame and in blindness

the doors of their houses
stand open against the cold

the mornings here are
nothing like the mornings of my childhood

being afraid of every last
fucking thing should be enough

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

a subtle disease

drank what you offered but it
tasted like blood and so i asked for more

the joke is obvious
but never clear

the house is made of
dust and hatred

found the room we used to share

found the candles and the rope and
once you grow tired of discussing memory
you can start talking about the truth

once the distance between
faith and hope is halved
the hostages are executed one by one

not every valiant cause needs to
become a reason for war