A poet faces the great unknown empty.
If I put a word here, say
for instance, extravagance,
how would that look? Or
if I gave it a whole line
e x t r a v a g a n c e
like something that fills
the sad space in your life
by pumping itself up
to seem important.
What if I put in a long pause…?
not because I need to,
but to make you stop and listen
for whatever comes next as if
the words held sacred truth.
What about all that space
along either side of this page?
pull it in
or take it all the way out to the farthest reaches of space
just because it is there and I can.
Does it matter what I say here or how?
Do words depend on me to give them life
or do they possess lives of their own?
Do they rise and go to work each day,
and come home again to sleep at night?
Do they aspire to perform great things,
to come together with other words
in poems and speeches for the ages?
Maybe in the meantime I should
give them something to do,
some little task around this page
to make them feel useful.
to fill this void today,
would it be a tragedy
if I left it empty?
From The Museum of Unwearable Shoes (Kelsay Books, 2018)
“The Museum of Unwearable Shoes is simply stunning, filled with biting wit, subtle humor, insights, provocative questions and fresh looks at ordinary things that I’ll never again experience in the same way. I love the way Twaronite peeks beneath the ordinary, leaving me moved and at times inspired by what he finds there. Even the few poems whose images and metaphors I find disturbing also provide insight in how to deal with such things. Reading this book was a wonderful adventure and I look forward to going back many times to again probe its depths.”
Susan Lang, Faculty Emeritus at Yavapai College and author of the novels The Sawtooth Complex & In God’s Trailer Park as well as a trilogy of novels about a woman homesteading in the southwestern wilderness during the years 1929 to 1941.
My second book of poetry has just been published by Kelsay Books. This is my first full-length collection and includes 61 new poems, most of which first appeared in various literary journals. Available at Kelsay Books The Museum of Unwearable Shoes
My first poetry collection Trash Picker on Mars has just won the 2017 New Mexico/Arizona Book Award in the category of Arizona poetry. I would like to thank my publisher and editor Karen Kelsay (Kelsay Books) and freelance editor Kate Robinson for their help and support. Mostly I wish to thank my readers over the years who have enjoyed my poems and encouraged me to keep on writing.
Stay tuned for exciting news of the next poetry book.
Meanwhile, if you wish to purchase a signed copy of Trash Picker on Mars, you can do so here. It is also available on Amazon.
As I drove past
the shirtless man,
his head wrapped
in cloth against
the desert sun,
he peeled the last
bit of bark
from a young
as if to strip
trace of green
from a world
he once knew.
How dare it grow
when acid hate
falls from the sky
and the ground
bears only fear
when the buds
wither and die,
and the rot
goes all the way
to the roots.
First published in Ginosko Literary Journal 19
My little book of poems has picked up another review, this time by my local newspaper.
TRASH PICKER ON MARS
By Gene Twaronite (Kelsay Books, $14)
Reviewed by Christine Wald-Hopkins for Arizona Daily Star
This collection of poems, which came out last year, is an expression of the concrete, the contemporary, and—see the title—the imaginative unlikely. Two-thirds of the thirty-two poems previously published elsewhere, “Trash Picker on Mars” is Gene Twaronite’s first book of poems. Covering such subjects as a porn-peddling bus station, a sleeping woman in a subway car, a container store, the death of a mourning dove, the poems reflect upon gritty, working class life in modern American society and the nature of life itself. AZ daily star/southern arizona authors
A new review of my book Trash Picker on Mars. Thanks, Susan.
In Trash Picker on Mars, Gene Twaronite ends a poem with “They are the people I carry within. I’d show you their picture if I could.” Yet that is exactly what readers of this small volume of poetry come away with: snapshots of everyday people our society tends to ignore, those lost on the streets, asleep on the subways, or hidden behind plastered smiles as they serve daily lunch crowds. Through detailed imagery, insight, and compassion, Twaronite takes us behind their concealing smiles to the persons within, to their hopes and dreams and frailties, revealing them to be a reflection of ourselves. From the moment that lasts no longer than a handshake where we dare touch one another before stepping back into our “fortified trenches” of safe anonymity, to the eyeless faces of modern day mannequins, Twaronite’s poetry introduces us to trash pickers with their dreams still intact and to strangers on buses who will nod and recognize us as lifelong friends. I urge lovers of everyman American poetry in the vein of Robert Frost or Walt Whitman to pick up a volume of Trash Picker on Mars. Amazon customer review Trash Picker on Mars
–Susan Shell Winston, editor at New Myths, and author of Singer of Norgondy
This banner for our booth #477 (The Twaronite Zone) at the Tucson Festival of Books says it all. If you’re in the area, please join us for a weekend of literary fun for the whole family. The festival will be held on the beautiful sunny mall of the University of Arizona, on March 11 and 12, from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm.
We have a number of activities planned, including a drawing demonstration by award-winning illustrator Rita Goldner, author of the picture book Orangutan: A Day in the Rainforest Canopy, readings by Gene Twaronite from his children’s book Dragon Daily News: Stories of Imagination for Children of All Ages and his first book of poetry Trash Picker on Mars as well as a visit from the Absurd Naturalist, fully equipped and dressed for a day in the field.
For those who can’t make it, you can purchase signed copies of my six books in my online store. Just click on store to enter.
As many of you have noticed, for personal reasons I am no longer on Facebook or Twitter. I would be much obliged if you would pass along this link to anyone who might be interested in following my writing.
Have you been to this store? It gave me the idea for this poem in my new book “Trash Picker on Mars” published by Aldrich Press and available on Amazon. YouTube (The Container Store)
My first poetry chapbook Trash Picker on Mars has just been accepted for publication late this year by Aldrich Press (Kelsay Books imprint). Though the title poem is science fiction, most of the other poems address more general themes, including nature, religion, mythology, popular culture, and feminism, liberally sprinkled with the usual dark humor. The poem “Trash Picker on Mars” first appeared in the online journal New Myths. You can read it here https://sites.google.com/a/newmyths.com/nmwebsite/poems/trash-picker-on-mars
We must be ever vigilant in the thoughts that go through our heads, especially in our reactions to current events. Here is a poem I wrote upon hearing of the death of the so-called mastermind of the Paris terrorist attack.
I saw the news flash on CNN —
Abdelhamid is dead—
and heard a voice inside me
He is dead! He is dead!
His body mangled by bullets
and a nearby grenade,
he died not soon enough.
To call him mastermind
of the Paris massacre
makes him sound more important
than what he was—
just another cancer cell
in a metastasizing tumor.
Blind to everything but his belief,
he was master of nothing.
Relieved as I am to see
this murderous cell zapped
from the body of humanity,
I yet find myself looking back
at my thoughts, wondering
what kind of person it was
who could plot the deaths
of fellow humans as if
they were mere avatars
in a video game,
or whether he ever
looked up at the stars
and dreamed of a girl.
And I find myself wondering
what kind of mastermind it is
who this morning cheers
the death of a young man
who went so horribly wrong,
who once was human
before he blew it all up.