The Tao of Jesus Crisis


I received this message in an email from GoDaddy last night:

"When we retire all Quick Blogcast® accounts on June 25, 2014, you will no longer have access to your account, including its content, and your blog will no longer be available on the Internet."

Of course this will apply to this Tao of Jesus Crisis blog, as well as the Crisis Chronicles Press blog and the blog-based Crisis Chronicles cyber litmag.

I've gone through this before with MySpace, Xanga and Yahoo 360.  I thought that by paying for a blog service like QuickBlogcast (which I've done since December 2007) I could avoid the possibility of such loss.  (Why would they eliminate my blog of it's a source of income for them?)  But I was wrong.

That said, I'd been wishing for a while that I could abandon GoDaddy, but I knew the URL permalinks to all my individual entries would be changed if I did - which would break thousands of links to my site from around the internet - plus certain blog content (e.g. PayPal links, the Cleveland Poetry Calendar and any Java-based material) would be stripped and much of my formatting lost in any transfer.  Now I have to do it anyway.

Of course this notice arrived on what would've been Uncle Bob's 70th birthday (he died less than two months after Mom did last year) and during the week of what would've been Mom's 66th birthday.  The first anniversary of her death will be May 5th, followed soon by Mother's Day.

So I was already struggling to come to terms with loss and impermanence and all the like, things I always believed I could handle better than most people intellectually but which are proving me quite mistaken emotionally.  I'm already grieving deeply, even maybe more than after she first died and I was in shock and had to be robotlike to do the things I had to do.  And though this blog fiasco is another very hard thing to cope with, in another sense it really doesn't seem that important to me anymore.  I no longer have any illusons that my words are that important or might last long after my death.  And I'd throw away my blog, my poetry and everything else to have my mom back.

I cry.  I want to give up.  But I won't.

So I'll see you when I get the new blogsite set up and everything transferred.

Thanks for reading and caring.

Best Gift the Easter Bunny Ever Brought Me

Mom with my week-old kid brother Mike, who was born on Easter in 1972.

photo by Dad (I presume), 9 April 1972 in Lorain, Ohio

2014 Best Cleveland Poem Competition

In February, Crisis Chronicles Press published Songs in the Key of Cleveland: An Anthology of the 2013 Best Cleveland Poem Competition, guest edited by contest winner Dianne Borsenik and featuring contributions from some of northern Ohio's best writers.

Now the 2014 Best Cleveland Poem Competition, sponsored by Tim "Make Them Pay" Misny, is underway and we'd love for you to contribute.  Submit your best poems with the theme ThisIsCLE to by May 18th for your chance to win groovy prizes and appear in the next anthology. 

Videoblog, April 16th 2014

Video permalink:

Inside the Razor Ribbon, Then Underground

This Thursday at 5:30 I'll be performing poetry for the residents of the Grafton Reintegration Center in Lorain County, then helping judge their poetry slam.  This is especially meaningful for me on a couple of levels.  (1) My Mom, who passed away a year ago, used to work at this same prison back when it was known as the North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility.  And (2) I was once a prisoner myself, from 1993 to 2004, though not at that facility.  I also returned to prison as a civilian volunteer mentor in 2006 and 2007 before finally deciding to put some distance between myself and the system for many years.  The time feels right to return.  But more on that in a future blog post....

Then Saturday April 26th (the day before Mom's birthday) I'll be performing in the basement of St. John's Episcopal Church in Cleveland during the Underground Poetry segment (orchestrated by HobGob Press) of Station Hope, "a block party with a purpose" put on by Cleveland Public Theatre.  "Station Hope is a multi-arts event that celebrates the triumphs of the Underground Railroad, the history of St. John's Church and the contemporary struggles for freedom and justice."  Poets from several northern Ohio small presses will be joining us in the underground.

(BOTTOM DOG PRESS) 6:30-7:00 — Larry Smith / Ray McNiece / Vladimir Swirynsky

(WRITING KNIGHTS/GREEN PANDA) 7:30-8:00 — Azriel Johnson / Steve Brightman / Russell Vidrick

(NIGHTBALLET/CRISIS CHRONICLES) 8:30-9:00 — Dianne Borsenik / John Burroughs / Jim Lang

(HOBGOB PRESS) Wandering Poet in Between Time Slots — Brandon Stroud

Juliet Cook responds to “Secret Letters” by j/j hastain

[Secret Letters by j/j hastain was published in October by Crisis Chronicles Press.  As Juliet Cook of Blood Pudding Press is a fine poet and and one of my favorite publishers, I am most grateful that she's offered the following response to j/j's book.]

Secret Letters cover art by Marnie Weber


This isn’t going to be a standard book review, so much as a small array of thoughts and feelings derived from partaking of its content.

Well, I guess the first part could be perceived as akin to a semi-standard mini-review – but then the red part in the middle is focused on personal divergence regarding female blood flow and clots and positive/negative creative horrific overly personal goop – and then when the font color turns black again, the two perspectives fuse together and end my review. I’ll go ahead and number them into three sections, in case some people would rather avoid the overly personal section two.

Part 1: (Mini- Review)

“There are ways to turn the orbs inside out without having to break them.”

Like most of j/j hastain’s poetry collections that I’ve read, much of the content fuses visceral imagery with the mind’s perception of mental/physical relationships, how the body responds and why.  The mind and body fusion is not just focused on the outer body, but also inwardly.  In “Secret Letters”, this inward focus includes positioning, the liquids inside, and different kinds of perception of (experimentation with) insemination and reproduction, both mental and physical.

“I told them to tie me to the cross that had never been forced upright.”

The liquids inside could be explored as an attempt to discover one’s own non-traditional mind/body connections and/or desires and/or spirituality - to find oneself (and/or another variation of oneself and/or a partner for oneself) on a deeper level.

“Digging in the moist meadow I unearthed a set of swan wings that had been dyed red. The wings were somehow animate and flapping without them having a center”

Much of j/j’s work is described as having a cross-genre, trans-genre focus and while I don’t disagree with that, most of the recent content I’ve read by j/j strikes me as uniquely feminine, in which the primary genre amalgamation seems womanly and earthly – female mind and body combined with the ground, dirt, water, plants (transplants), animals, birds, and blood flow.  Underground, buried down, dug up, re-birthed, renewed and open to more exploration.

Click here to read Juliet Cook's entire response, including "Part 2: (Overly Personal Goop)" and "Fusion Mix Finale."****

Juliet Cook is editor/publisher of a one-woman indie press, Blood Pudding Press, which specializes in poetry and artsy little misfit offerings.  She also edits Blood Pudding Press's spooky sister, an online blog-style literary magazine called Thirteen Myna Birds, which is always accepting submissions.  She is the author of more books than I can count, including Horrific Confection (2008, BlazeVOX), Post-Stroke (2011, Blood Pudding Press for dusie kollektiv 5), Thirteen Designer Vaginas (2011, Hyacinth Girl Press) and Poisonous Beautyskull Lollipop (2013, Grey Book Press).

Mahall's, Frank Giampietro and Milk Stout - Lief!

Tonight's my first night hosting the Monday at Mahall's Poetry and Prose Series, and I'll hope you'll come out.  Our featured poet for the evening is Frank Giampietro, interim director of the Cleveland State University Poetry Center and author of Begin Anywhere [from Alice James Books].  There'll be beer, bowling and an open mic.

Last week, I created a Facebook fan page for the series.  Feel free to like it if you're so inclined:

Also, I'm happy to report that my poem "Milk Stout" appears in the just released fourth issue of Lief Magazine.  View it for free by clicking here (my poem's on page 25).

Krysia Jopek reviews John Swain's Rain and Gravestones

John Swain's Rain and Gravestones [published by Crisis Chronicles Press] weaves the natural and sacred. The poems place the readers at the precarious intersection of the quotidian and spiritual—with the poet mediating as shamanistic consciousness. The transformations that take place are gentle, yet profound. Through language, experience is cast into the ritual of catharsisfor “light painted my craft” (in “Coracle”) to “inspire / like a holy book” ("In the Sand”). The poem “Goats” recreates the experience of the persona carrying out such ritual:

I scraped her [the sick girl's] neck
with a dog fang
and dusted her face
with clay powder.
Then her spirit
like a cure
and I drove a peg
into the ground.
She only came back
To go away.

The short lines of the poems in Rain and Gravestones deliberately unscroll and turn, leaving the reader at a new place at the end of the poem, transformed.

— review by Krysia Jopek, author of Maps and Shadows

Click here for more about Rain and Gravestones.

Click here to buy Rain and Gravestones via Amazon.

Click here to contact author John Swain.

Krysia Jopek’s poems have appeared in Columbia Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, The Wallace Stevens Journal, Phoebe, Murmur, Windhover, and Artists & Influence. She has written reviews of poetry for The American Book Review and a review of literary criticism for The Wallace Stevens Journal. Maps and Shadows, her first novel (Aquila Polonica 2010), won a Silver Benjamin Franklin award in 2011 in the category of Historical Fiction. The Glass House of Forgetting, her second novel (literary fiction), is forthcoming.

Featuring for Writing Knights Press' new Write Club tonight at the Lit Cafe

I'll be writing, reading and thinking about how today is the eleven month anniversary of Mom's death tonight at the Literary Cafe in Cleveland as Writing Knights Press debuts their new Write Club series.  I'm not 100% sure how this will work, but the novelty is part of its allure for me.  As I said on Facebook, I'm just gonna show up with poems and paper and do what I'm told.

Three featured poets: Serena Castells; Nandi Nefertiti Wilson; John Burroughs.
Three book releases: 2013 National Poetry Month Anthology; 200 Years by Serena Castells; Last Chance for Rain by Sharon Gariepy Frye.

Literary Cafe
1031 Literary Road
Cleveland, Ohio 44113
(216) 308-1962

And here's WKP's flyer for the event:

Martin Willitts, Jr, reviews Secret Letters by j/j hastain

Secret Letters
j/j hastain
Crisis Chronicles Press, 2013

[Editor's note: Xe and xyr are the personal pronouns preferred by many including j/j.]

Entering into one of j/j’s books is to always enter into interesting visions of language and surprise. To call xyr work hybrid is too easy and lazy, because xe defies narrow boxes of description. Xe is more deceptive than a surrealist. j/j is clever, with great vocabulary and xyr landscapes challenge perception, interpretation, and often reality. Xe is more like the trickster Coyote with xyr choices.

Xyr latest book,
Secret Letters is written like a letter to someone, unknown, left in the most unusual places, waiting for someone to discover the letter’s secrets. It does not matter if the letters fall into the wrong hands, or if the wrong person reads them. What matters is if the person who finds the letters dares to read what is clearly not intended for them. It makes us voyeurs. I feel like I am at a peek show, or Snowden looking at numerous tapped phone messages. I feel dirty and thrilled.

j/j leaves these Letters in a “bowl of a Baobab tree’s trunk.” The only things I know about Baobab trees is that they are in Africa somewhere, and they are mentioned in the book The Little Prince. Neither of these pieces of information helps me to understand. What I need to know is that the letters were placed there and nowhere else. Some of the letters are addressed to “Dear still unforeseen,” and some are only addressed to “Dear.” j/j expects a stranger to find and read these letters.

These are not prose poems, although they appear like them; nor are they strictly letters, although they appear like them. The poems are poetic, but they are not poetry. What they do, and do well, is startle. Some are nothing more than a single line: “There are ways to turn the orbs inside out without having to break them.” You wonder why anyone would want to turn an orb inside out, plus you want to know how to do it, but you are not told these things. You are left with a mystery.

I have read xyr poems over the years. Xe always challenges gender identity. I think j/j has evolved from gender into something else. A shape-shifter always leaves you guessing. In one of these poems j/j writes, “Genders are and are not related to skins.” I think j/j shed xyr skin a long time ago.

I suggest people buy, read, and become transformed too.

Secret Letters cover art by Marnie Weber

[Reviewed by Martin Willitts, Jr, author of Searching for What Is Not There (Hiraeth Press, 2013) and William Blake, Not Blessed Angel But Restless Man (Red Ochre Press, 2014).]

Read a selection from Secret Letters in the Crisis Chronicles
cyber litmag.

Buy Secret Letters for $7 from 
Amazon or directly from the press.

Find [more] j/j hastain at

My Poems Are a Plague

My work is a plague - and hopefully contagious (in a good way). Thanks to Brandon Stroud for disseminating my germs [poems] "Perfection Per Fiction" and "Disciples" as part of HobGob Press' Poetic Plague Project, beginning yesterday at the Cleveland Mini Maker Faire.

You down with PPP?  For more on turning your work into a contagion, visit

To track where my (and other participating poets') germs have spread, visit

"Perfection Per Fiction" first appeared in The Squire (a journal published by Writing Knights), and subsequently in my most recent chapbook, It Takes More Than Chance to Make Change (published by The Poet's Haven).

"Disciples" comes from my first full length poetry collection, The Eater of the Absurd (published by NightBallet Press).

Krysia Jopek reviews Blue Graffiti by Dianne Borsenik

As usual with Crisis Chronicles Press founded by its editor, John Burroughs, this hand-produced chapbook is gorgeous as a physical object—comprised of a crisp cover design with original artwork, front and back, a cardstock interleaf with appropriate floating fans, thick ivory paper, and a well-chosen font. Borsenik’s “little” book of “little” poems is told in haiku form in a series that seemingly floats like the Asian fans of the interleaf. With no capital letters aside from proper names nor punctuation between poems, two haiku per page except for the last poem, these postmodern fragments weave a delicate whole. Borsenik welds the typical haiku subject of nature with the urban details of the twenty-first century: “the only cloud / in this perfect sky / nuke plant’s vapor[.]” Like graffiti, these poems write themselves onto the man-made landscape: “origami: backhoes folding, unfolding / atop the debris[.]" The last poem leaves the series in thin air to direct the reader into an ellipsis of the unknown of sorts as well as back to the beginning of the collection to reread: “no guardrail / between us / and the[.]" This chapbook is a pleasure to read over and again. 

— review by Krysia Jopek, author of Maps and Shadows

front and back cover — photos by Steven B. Smith, white text added by JC

Click here for more about Blue Graffiti.

Click here to buy Blue Graffiti via Amazon ($5 for paperback, $2.99 for Kindle book).

Click here for more about author Dianne Borsenik.

Krysia Jopek’s poems have appeared in Columbia Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, The Wallace Stevens Journal, Phoebe, Murmur, Windhover, and Artists & Influence. She has written reviews of poetry for The American Book Review and a review of literary criticism for The Wallace Stevens Journal. Maps and Shadows, her first novel (Aquila Polonica 2010), won a Silver Benjamin Franklin award in 2011 in the category of Historical Fiction. The Glass House of Forgetting, her second novel (literary fiction), is forthcoming.

Took a face from the ancient gallery and I walked on down to Mahall's

The Monday at Mahall's Poetry and Prose Series happens the first Monday of each month at Mahall's 20 Lanes, 13200 Madison Avenue in Lakewood, Ohio.  It's almost right across the street from the long gone Bela Dubby beer cafe and art gallery where Dianne Borsenik and I hosted the Lix and Kix Poetry Extravaganza for years.

Beginning on April 7th 2014 I will be helping to carry on the great tradition of hosting Monday at Mahall's. We hope to make founder
Catherine Criswell proud, and we are very excited to meet and hear this month's acclaimed featured poet Frank Giampietro!

About Frank [stolen from
his website]:

While earning an MA at Washington College and an MFA from Vermont College, Frank Giampietro was the president and general manager of a retail appliance business in Dover, Delaware. His first book of poems Begin Anywhere was published by Alice James Books in 2008. He is the co-author of Spandrel with Denise Bookwalter and Book O' Tondos with Megan Marlatt. Awards for his poetry include a Walter E. Dakin Fellowship from Sewanee Writers' Conference, a Kingsbury Fellowship from Florida State University, a fellowship from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and a Florida Book Award. He is the creator of La Fovea, and Poems by Heart. His poetry, nonfiction, short-short fiction, and book reviews have appeared in journals including 32 Poems, American Book Review, Barrow Street, Black Warrior, Cimarron Review, Copper Nickel, CutBank, FENCE, Hayden's Ferry, Ninth Letter, Poetry Daily, Poetry International, Ploughshares, Rain Taxi, Subtropics, and Tampa Review. He was a resident scholar at The Southern Review from 2010 to 2011 and the managing editor of Alice James Books from 2011 to 2012. Currently, Frank Giampietro serves as the interim director of Cleveland State University Poetry Center and visiting assistant professor of English at Cleveland State University and in the North East Ohio Master of Fine Arts program.

So come hear Frank, buy his book, have some brews, roll a few strikes and spares (if you dare) and share your latest spoken word masterpiece-in-the-making at our open mic.  RSVP, if you wanna, on Facebook.

Frank Giampietro [photo also stolen from his website]

Amateur! Pejorative?

Check out Abby Sheaffer's You should be proud to call yourself an amateur at ChicagoNow.

Thank you, Snoets!

What a beautiful day Sunday was with Snoetry 4. I'll be posting photos on Facebook soon.  Thank you to everyone who made it so, including Dianne Borsenik, Ra Washington, Gork, Mark Sebastian Jordan, Heather Ann Schmidt, Serena Castells, Azriel Johnson, Skylark Bruce, Amy from Ashtabula, Alan Mathos, Clarissa Jakobsons, John Dorsey, Ian Hannold, Kathy Smith, Steve Brightman, Blaire Bommer, Juliet Cook, Steven Smith, Veronica Hopkins, Marisa Moks-Unger, Jeffrey Bowen, Marissa Hyde, Chuck Joy, James E. Stanley, Jennifer Hambrick, Luke Kuzmish, Eric Anderson, Claire McMahon, Tracie Morell, Bradley K Meyer, Alex Nielsen, Dan Smith, Bridget Kriner, Shawn King, Josh Romig, Amanda Oaks, Mary O'Malley, Elliot Smith, Christine Howey, Jeremiah Walton, Andy Roberts, Ryan Sagert, Theresa Göttl, Steve Thomas, Cee Williams, Lennart Lundh, mark s. kuhar, PoetJoe Gallagher, Shelly Ann, Christina M. Brooks, Zach Ashley, Shelley Chernin, Vladimir Swirynsky, Christopher Franke, Mark Cronin, Cavana Faithwalker, Steve Goldberg, Terry Provost, Lyz Bly and Julie Ursem Marchand. And Guide to Kulchur was the perfect venue for it.  Much love to you all!