Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Outsider Poetry On the Pecatonica River

When you're eating a brown banana that has been in your duffle bag god knows how long and trying to contact an actual human being from Comcast to help you install all the cheap plastic devices they just sent you then you really start to know what's important.

When you're floating down the Pecatonica River and your five year old is using your crotch as a resting spot for his restless feet you really become aware of what's important.

Fishing upside down like Scott Walker on the Pecatonica River

I'm going to put a poem here. 

Now that it's September summer has finally arrived here in Illinois. I'm sweating it out without air conditioning in my apartment, knowing full well next week it could be full on winter for nine months. Managed to get a ahold of some employee at Comcast and schedule an appointment, and although the voice was muffled, sometime this year. God forbid I could just call the local service center and speak to someone in this hemisphere. 

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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Ugly People Sitting On a Park Bench

I'm full of stuff like poetry today. I got this poem right here. It's deceptively simple in it's simplitude. I say that to try to sucker you into believing there's something there. We both know the truth, don't we? 

I'm not saying these people on a bench are ugly, I'm just saying they came up first on Google image search. I'm only titling this picture "Ugly People On a Bench" because that's the first thing that comes to mind considering that's the title of the poem.

Ugly People On a Park Bench

Look out, they're going to breed.

Oh, shit, false alarm,

They're just feeding 
The ducks.

But I bet those
Ugly fuckers are
Going to breed.

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Playing the Short Stack

For almost a decade I've been joking that I was a better poet twenty years ago than I am now, and I'm not getting any better. Well, it doesn't seem much like a joke anymore, so I had a brainstorm: I have twenty-five years of journals of poems I started, finished and rejected, or just wrote titles I found were amusing sitting around doing nothing. Here's one I found that I'd like to work on here and now. It's titled "Playing the Short Stack," and I wrote it while I was living at the Clayton House Motel, an infamous flop house here in Rockford known for prostitution, drug dealers, and all sorts of villainous scum. Unfortunately, I was only interested in unlimited air conditioning and cable television in my three months there and didn't see any of that. I did eat my first Krispy Kream donut, watch two nights of Monster Fest, and spend my very last dollar before getting another job and leaving that place. This was during the first phase of Texas Hold Em Poker exploding into the American consciousness, and for a while I enjoyed watching it on the television.

This picture shouldn't be here.

Playing The Short Stack

"Your 'All In'
Ain't much of nothin,'
Because you ain't got nothin'
Except a loser's hint
Of a bluff,"
She said,
And I would have
Snapped off something equally
Devastating back but
I couldn't even see her
Behind all those chips. Pin It

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Unwitting Outsider Poetry From Thursday

I wrote a poem I didn't write today. For some weird reason I had this flashback to a bartender I worked with almost two decades ago who was always telling me about this goof she was dating. She died suddenly, and I had this bad feeling for her that the end of her life was wasted. The title came to mind and I immediately decided I wouldn't write the poem because I've been there and done that on the foul language and poetry about terrible subject matter. Instead I wrote on Facebook about how I thought of the title then decided to do something else, and my friend Andrew reposted what I said in poetry form, and it seemed like a poem to me. Not the one I was going to write, but a perfectly valid poem about why I didn't write the poem I was going to write, which you now know the story of, too.

Her Last Few Fucks Were Wasted

I just had a sudden urge to write a poem titled
"Her Last Few Fucks Were Wasted,"
and even ten years ago
I would have too,
but instead I walked
to the bathroom,
trimmed my nosehair,
and decided this poem need not exist.
You're welcome.

more Outsider Poetry at Outsider Poetry Magazine Pin It

Friday, August 14, 2015

Three Things I Want To Believe In

I'm about as cynical and pessimistic as it gets. I'm like Mikey in that old Life cereal commercial. I think everything is fake and it's all bad and no matter what any of does we're doomed. But this summer three different things are giving me hope. There are three things I really want to believe in.

I want to believe that the Chicago Cubs have a chance to win the World Series after 107 years. Not only this year, but for many years to come. As I write this I am watching the Cubs play the White Sox after having won 6 straight games, and 13 out of 14 games. I have to admit after the All Star break when the Phillies swept the Cubs I thought to myself "Here we go again, this team just isn't ready or good enough to make it to the playoffs." Then after they started to gain some momentum in Colorado and beat the hell out of the Pirates, Giants, and Brewers I started to really believe. For forty years I've had Cardinal and White Sox fans taunt me over being a Cub fan. Nothing in this world would be sweeter than to see the Cubs dash off a decade where they won five or six World Series. And with the 4th rated minor league system and a network in place in countries like Cuba, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic, not to mention mountains of free agent money to spend, I think the future has finally arrived for Cub fans.

Bernie Sanders. I can count the times I've walked into a polling booth and exited feeling really good about who I just voted for on one hand. I even felt betrayed by Obama's first administration and voted for Jill Stein in protest in 2012. Even though Bill Clinton was two of those votes, I've never been excited about feeling I had to vote for Hillary Clinton. I can't quite put my finger on it because I know we have quite a lot in common politically, and it's not because she's a woman (see above), but I've never wanted to feel Hillary Clinton was my only choice. When Bernie Sanders announced his candidacy for President I was excited, nit because I believed he had any chance to win, but because it now gave me an alternative, at least in the primary, even though in Illinois the nomination is usually sewn up by the time we vote. I get the Bernie Buzz in my email, and have been for many years, so I was more amused that he decided to run that seriously engaged, but the past couple of months have given me hope that Americans are ready for change. To address the issues of wealth and income equality, racism, sexism, corporate power, and the militarization of our police forces. This week when it was reported that he has taken a lead in the polls in New Hampshire, and that Elizabeth Warren was considering coming out in support of him, I just felt overwhelmed. For once I feel like I want to put my energy and faith behind this candidate. If Warren were to be placed on the ticket as Vice President I just believe we've never seen anything like that in American history. 

The third thing is the Outsider Poetry I have been working on, and poetry in general. The Downtown area where I live is experiencing a Renaissance, and part of that is the arts community. This Fall I will be part of several show at Fall Art Scene, and I have published two books by Rockford writes, Iced Cream by Jesus Correa and The Zen of Beard Trimming by C.J. Campbell. Publishing the work of other people has been a real blessing to me and gives me a sense of purpose in the literary community. I have started two separate publications to promote Outsider Poetry, or writing by those who exist and create outside of the norms of culture die to mental illness, being self-trained, or simply having chose no to conform. The one I just stared is called Outsider Poetry Magazine, and the one I have been working on is simply called Outsider Poetry.
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Monday, August 10, 2015

The Old Hermit Speaks of Poetry

The Old Hermit Speaks of Poetry

When my poems escaped me
Like ducks from a broken pen,
I did not chase them like the
Young poets from the village.
Instead, I finished my bottle of wine,
And wandered the hills drunken
And free from care,
Where I discovered my poems
Hiding in the rocks and trees,
And a brook singing a song
About a foolish old poet
Looking for his lost poems.
-Thomas L. Vaultonburg

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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Outsider Poetry From Detached Retinas (1997)

I hear a ding on the computer and my very good friend, Tim Stotz, who is working on a wonderful project to animate one of my poems from Detached Retinas, titled "The Jackal," asks me if I have a digital file of the poem. I had to explain to him that the poems from Detached Retinas were never entered into any word processor, and if they ever had been on a disk it would have been a 3.5" floppy disk. We had a laugh about this, but it got me to thinking that the book has never been digitized, and while I sit here every day trying to think of something to write about I have an entire book of poetry no one on the internet has ever seen. So, here are a few poems from my 1997 book Detached Retinas.


The woman in that old photograph
Testing the gravity of apples
Is dead twenty years, the apples

In the background a deadman
Consults his wristwatch,
Hurrying towards the appointment
He can't miss-
The watch is still ticking.

And the iceboy just outside the lens
Labors up long stairs cursing
The heat of his seventeenth summer
As his block of allotted time slowly drips
Into memory.
-Thomas L. Vaultonburg

The Autopsy

This flaccid collapse of scaffolds
Is a laboratory of rotten meat
In which five anesthetized chemists
Condemn their own bloody research,
An attic whose only remaining artifacts
Are fearful eyes strung together like
A constellation of exhausted stars.

This mildewing chest of drawers,
Contents capsized,
Is a room with three corners and a stepladder,
A know oblivious to dexterous fingers,
No longer plagued by inner conspiracies
Or nights of quietly warding off chaos:
Some thing to inject, dispose of, and remember.

Official Coroner's Report: break-in at the gallery,
One statue smashed with a blue sledgehammer.

The Young Entomologists Leave The Antilles
In a Huff

When love is gone
The counting begins.
So far we have cataloged
The feeding and mating habits
Of 7,321 new species of beetles
On this island we will soon leave
In separate lifeboats.

The voodoo drums rehearse
An early death for us both
As I return to burn
Our lavish East Coast condo
As a defense against future tenants
Re-arranging our furniture.
-Thomas L. Vaultonburg

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