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Four Incarnations #1 - Switchblade Poetry: Chicago Style
Coffee House Press, Publisher - 2nd Printing = 0-918273-90-0


1. Switchblade Poetry: Chicago Style

I began writing poetry in Chicago at age 15, when I

was named corresponding secretary for a gang of

young punks and hoodlums called the Semcoes.  A

Social Athletic Club, we met at various locations

two Thursdays a month.  My job was to write

postcards to inform my brother thugs--who carried

switchblade knives and stole cars for fun and

profit--as to when, where and why we were meeting.


         Rhyming couplets seemed the appropriate form to

notify characters like lightfingered Foxman,

cross-eyed Harris, and Irving "Koko," of upcoming

meetings.  An example of my switchblade juvenilia:


   The Semcoes meet next Thursday night

         at Speedway Koko's. 

Five bucks dues, Foxman, or fight.


         Koko was a young boxer whose father owned Chicago's

Speedway Wrecking Company and whose basement was

filled with punching bags and pinball machines.

Koko and the others joked about my affliction--the

writing of poetry--but were so astonished that they

criticized me mainly for my inability to spell.


next: Incarnation #2 - Sailor Librarian: San Diego

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4 Incarnations, Coffee House Press (now in its 2nd printing)

I lived in Canada 1979-1985 and a number of my books, for example, Half-a-Life's History and Rosicrucian in the Basement, were published and distributed in that country by Marty Gervais' Black Moss Press.

Four Incarnations, published in 1991, was my first book to appear in the U.S. since Five Iowa Poems, a fine edition by Stonewall Press Books in the late 1970s.  Time seems to go faster and faster.  Then what happens? You run out of time and it's over. No more time. Eternity, maybe, but no more time as we count it... passing thought. I'm not the first. Just measuring out one's life in publications.