Poem-A-Day: Mike Alexander

This seems like a reasonable follow-up to yesterday’s post about responding poetically, ekphrastically even, to another person’s social media presence.

Mike Alexander composed this marvelous poem and posted it on Le Book of Face recently and has graciously allowed me to share it here too. You might notice it is a sonnet; this is something he does particularly well. I remember back in 1999 he had published a chapbook called January Y2K Blues, which was a collection of fourteeners on that theme — one for each day of the month, in fact. In addition to its being well written, the book design itself was really just gorgeous.

***

ON FIRST LOOKING INTO ZUCKERBERG’S FACEBOOK

A FRIEND told me in chat that I could see
his new vacation photographs – I think
I clicked without a moment’s thought the link
he sent me – O how clueless could I be –
At once, a slew of questions came to me.
I gave the answers, so I’d be in sync
with this new media, this Facebook, Inc.,
surrendering all rights to privacy.
I never saw my friend’s exotic pics;
instead I saw a thousand invitations
from friends I never knew I had, a mix
of selling points & social obligations,
cat videos, hateful ranting, politics…
I gaped like Aztecs at the first Caucasians.

***

Alexander now runs POETRY FIX, a bi-monthly reading (most months) on Tuesday nights at FIX Coffeebar in Houston.

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Poem-A-Day: Mike Alexander

It should come as zero surprise to anyone that I like political and/or satirical poems. I suspect we’re in for a lot more of that in the near-term. But the ones in this series won’t always be. This one needs to get out there, though.

***

CONSIDERING THE ALTERNATIVE 

He thought he saw a castle wall, built on bad advice.
The president informed him it would be a paradise,
where avocados could be bought for just three times the price.

He thought he saw an oil spill contaminate a fjord.
The president declared it was a co-pay that insured
a preexisting malady that cannot now be cured. 

He thought he saw a gathering that nobody attended.
The president informed him that the party never ended.
I’d best not say a word, he thought, lest any be offended. 

He thought he saw the televised results of an election.
The president declared that there had been an insurrection
whose perpetual exposure somehow escaped detection. 

He thought he saw the opposition take it up a notch.
The president pretended he would grab it in the crotch.
He couldn’t look away, but he could barely stand to watch.

***
Alexander organized the weekly readings at Helios (now Avant Garden) from 1999 to 2003. He was on the board of Mutabilis Press from 2010-2015, & has been active in Public Poetry since 2011. His book Retrograde came out in 2013. He is now running POETRY FIX, a bi-monthly reading on Tuesday nights at FIX Coffeebar.

Featured Poet: Mike Alexander

I received so many wonderful poetry submissions this year for this Poet-A-Day series, and while I couldn’t use every poem I was sent, I really enjoyed reading them all and curating this series again this year. Thank you to everyone who participated!

I wanted to share one more of Mike Alexander’s oems with you before this series ran out. This poem appeared in an online zine called Worm and then also in his book Retrograde.

***

The Great Year

We wake up the same
as any other day,
blind, naked, hurrying
to put the bathroom door
between us. We know
the day, set
in motion, spins us
out of our shared orbit.

Plato might try to console
the parted lovers with a story
about caves & philosophic
light, but then Freud
would be quick to explain
the darker overtones,
hysteria, birth trauma,
fantasies of sexual
adequacy.

.             No wonder
the working world steers
clear of either pole
as fast as it can spin.
We wake, & it’s
too late for aubades,
refusals, leaving that door
open.

.        Plato says
all cycles come full circle,
somewhere in his dialogues,
I don’t care where.
Only that we still hope
for moving bodies parted
in individual circles
to approach, to recognize
each other, returning
to warm sheets.

***

Mike Alexander ran the Mausoleum weekly poetry open mic for six years of its ten-year run. His book Retrograde came out in 2013, & his most recent chapbook was We Internet in Different Voices.

Featured Poet: Mike Alexander

So while a bunch of the people around me are thinking about death and resurrection, and a bunch of the other people around me are thinking snide but funny thoughts about the undead, I thought I’d share this fun poem with you by Mike Alexander, because being raised Catholic and ending up Gothic means that I find this poem charming. It first appeared in the Magazine of Speculative Poetry.

***

What’s At Stake

First, there’s the boring wait on night to fall,
or light to fail — & light is more resilient
than one would think. Each dawn is like withdrawal.

Whoever said the dead move fast was brilliant;
that being said, it isn’t very often
they try to bring their habits up to speed
with what’s been going on outside the coffin.

Few night schools teach what nosferatu need.
Blood is the life, but still it tastes like death,
a greed that’s savored best in isolation,
a grief that clings like garlic to the breath.
Each kill is tantamount to escalation.

The jugulars we drain, night after night,
can never cleanse that first inhuman bite.

***

Mike Alexander ran the Mausoleum weekly poetry open mic for six of its ten year run. His book Retrograde came out in 2013, & his most recent chapbook was We Internet in Different Voices.

Featured Poet: Mike Alexander

Tonight’s featured poet is Mike Alexander. I first came across Mike in the mid-1990s when he was going by M. Alexander and reading regularly on the poetry scene here in Houston. We ended up reading on the same stage more than once, and I became a fan of his work.

Those of you in H-town can catch him reading tomorrow afternoon as well, at the New Book New Poems Reading at 2:00 at the Houston Public Library (500 McKinney 77002). Here’s a link to the Facebook event page. Also sharing their work at this shindig will be Robin Davidson and Peter Hyland. The event will be up on the 4th floor of the main building. Check it out!

You may also find Mike’s book RETROgrade at P & J Poetics.

***

Le Coup de Vent: Mistral Noir

 

This is a drunkard’s dance.

.                                        Courbet’s terrain
distorts a sober regiment of oaks,
into a bacchanal of greens, the strain
apparent in the pressure of brush strokes
& knifework. Boughs, unnaturally skewed,
leaves shaking. Wind-swept canvas, it evokes
the pagan frenzy of a nymph pursued
by satyrs,
.                    Orphic lute,
.                                        ecstatic cries.

The landscape sprawls, unfettered, like a nude
discarding her quotidian disguise,
more sacred now she’s shown herself profane.

Inebriated by a beauty eyes
cannot explain, she drops what veils remain,
& spins,
.                    the painter’s brush
.                                        her weather-vane.