Kamby Bolongo Mean River named one of 25 Important Books of the 2000s by HTML Giant

KBMR was named one of 25 Important Books of the decade by HTML Giant. And was a Page One selection of New & Noteworthy Books by Poets & Writers Magazine.

Monday, January 30, 2012

No news today - Guest Post - John Reed



John Reed here. I stumbled across this article in the “Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health” (don’t ask), and it seemed to me that the disclosure, a rather significant one to all men with testicles, warranted more attention than academic publication, and the oblivion of a subscription wall. Maybe we could post until they ask us to take it down? See if someone picks up the story?

Admiration, John

Title: Self-Stimulation in a Seated Posture, Effects upon the Male Sexual Organ

Author: S.S. Eleman.

Abstract: Humanity faces an evolutionary crossroads, as the male of the species adopts an upright, as opposed to a prone, masturbatory position. The repercussions are not just chiropractic, but genetic.

With recent statistics citing a dramatic decline in reported cases of Carpal Tunnels Syndrome, the threat that RSI (repetitive stress syndrome) poses to the digital age has been seemingly neutralized. Preventative medicine and improved factory conditions are to thank for a 70% drop in statistical reportage of carpal tunnels syndrome, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But all is not well in the computer age, says Dr. Theodore Lamb, who reports in the June 2011 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine that: “male computer users who spend more than four hours per day in front of the computer show a 17% decrease in their active sperm count.” The study followed 400 subjects in the Massachusetts area. The study went on to cite a startling statistic: “Men, who on a regular basis sit at their computers while they self stimulate to the point of ejaculation, have a sperm count 79% lower than men who masturbate in a reclining posture.”

Critics of the study point to the geographic limitations of the subject pool. “All Dr. Lamb has proven,” said Dr. Padmajai Jaine, who leads a genome research team and instructs graduate students at Harvard University, “is that inactive American men have low sperm counts.”

Dr. Regina Koch, of the Spine Institute of New York’s Beth Israel hospital, viewed Dr. Lamb’s findings as correlative to trends in spinal injuries. “If you look at the physics, of sitting in a chair and arching the lower spine and reaching for the genitals, you’ll see it’s just a very awkward position. We’re getting a lot of lower lumbar trauma and sacral dislocation that I believe is related, at least in part, to this type of spinal insult.”

Dr. Lamb is now researching the possibility that seated onanism in the human male has a negative impact on not just sperm count but chromosomal stability. Dr. Lamb contributed to research featured in the New York Times, 2/27/2007, which concludes that as men get older their chances of fathering a genetically abnormal child increase. “What we’ve been finding so far,” said Dr. Lamb, “is that environmental stresses, such as seated ejaculation, accelerate the aging process. We’re talking about a 20% elongation of the entire seminal delivery system. Normally, the ductus deferens, for example, contracts 2-5%. And the testicles themselves are under pressure equivalent to two pounds per square inch.”

While Dr. Koch would not comment on Dr. Lamb's pending studies, she did echo his concerns. “The testicles are designed to move freely, to regulate their temperature for the optimal production of sperm. Anything that interrupts that cycle, tight underwear or Internet porn, is likely to damage the organism.”

According to Dr. Lamb, male prison populations, who are denied access to computers that may be employed in the pursuit of sexual gratification, have significantly healthier sperm than their wired counterparts.

“People have the attitude that porn is free,” commented Dr. Koch, “but nothing in life is free.”

Author of the novels, A Still Small Voice (Delacorte), Snowball's Chance (Roof, an SPD Bestseller), and The Whole (MTV Books/Simon & Schuster); author of the play All the World's A Grave: A New Play by William Shakespeare (Penguin/Plume), and the illustrated, non-fiction cult story collection, Tales of Woe (MTV Press); Senior Editor at the Brooklyn Rail; published in Rain Taxi, Open City, Popmatters, the Brooklyn Rail, Artnet, Artforum, Paper Magazine, the New York Press, Time Out New York, Bomb Magazine, the Rumpus, the Believer, Art in America, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, Playboy and many other venues.

Monday, January 23, 2012

No news today - Guest Post - Chiara Barzini

Dead Prime Minister

The news arrives: “The Prime Minister is dead.” We scramble to mourn him. As a public figure, his corpse is on display for all to say goodbye. The casket is on a stage in the chapel. Benches placed asymmetrically in front of the altar accommodate a disordered crowd. The people are puzzled by the empty casket.

Instead of resting in peace, the Prime Minister sits on the steps beneath the altar slumped over like a limp puppet. Journalists whisper about how he got caught with a transsexual prostitute, how his sweet wife had no idea he had such preferences.

He is brownish and flaccid. A trace of his stoutness remains in between the folds of his skin. Though he is dead he can still speak and move in small measures. His arm lurches forward as he raises his index finger begging to be heard.

“I am here!”

Nobody else in the room takes notice that, though he is dead, he is also partly alive.

“Excuse me,” I say to the Prime Minister, “please understand we don’t quite know how to look at you. You’re a corpse but you’re moving.”

The Prime Minister is impressed, “That’s correct! Thanks for noticing”

I rejoice over my accurate assertion, and shake him.

“Hey! I’m dead," he says. "If you shake me I’ll be deader and will have no more words to speak.”
His voice is barely audible and he has stopped all movement except for a slight nodding of the head. His skull bares a long scar.

I hold his hand. “What happened with the transsexual prostitute?”

“I like chicks with dicks,” he admits.

The journalists in the chapel note his statement. “Finally, a real piece of news!”

“And what about your wife? There are rumors of spicy trysts with an underage girl!” someone else blurts out.

“None of that matters anymore. When you’re dead you don’t even know you’re married.”

His mother, slightly ashamed, steps forward and leads him back to his casket. The crowd sitting on the benches is ready for the ceremony to begin. The Prime Minister lies down, but his arm keeps creeping back up out of the coffin.

“Don’t worry,” says the mother. “These are the last little bursts. It’ll take years before he can move again.”

Chiara Barzini is a screen and fiction writer. Films written by her have been distributed in Italy, Spain, Japan, and Latin America. The most recent one, “Into Paradiso” premiered at the 67th edition of the Venice Film Festival. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Noon, Bomb Magazine, Sleepingfish, Or, The Encyclopedia Project, The New Review of Literature, The NY Tyrant as well as The Village Voice, Rolling Stone Italy, Flair, Italian Vanity Fair, and Marie Claire. For samples of her work and more information please visit www.chiarabarzini.com.

Monday, January 16, 2012

No news today - Guest Post - Daniel Long

The smoking truck beside the fruit stand says “organic.” My wallet is shot, and I don’t got that kind of money for preserves. What I’ve got is a landlord upstairs who will slip the classifieds under my door the first of every morning, scrawled with minor sidebars about eviction and how my darned-up socks are really stinking it up about now. The ads are wet from a shellfish or a gruel, some immigrant soup of the day, and my whole life is framed beneath that stark, fragrant message.

All the dummy work has packed up and dug a hole to China, but my landlord has his time of the month, and it’s the first. I don’t hold it against him. A man without work is nothing but slow songs and time—part nostalgia, part harmonica, with a dusty can of tuna stowed back for rations. You haven’t lived until you’re ducking rent and living out of a can, until you’re wearing the kind of clothes that smell like what you’re about. Until you pace around the house smoking cigarettes in your overcoat, trying to restate the main points of yourself. So here mine go.

I know that in some ways my mother must have been just like any other woman. In the end, I don’t recall even one of those ways. There was a rattle and a crib, sweet milk upon the hour. Jesus was like a lamb chop, and the turning leaves were like flecked salmon, but my mother was like my mother. Let’s leave it at that.
My father spent twenty years sweating over the same forty acres hoping to own it proper. He toiled and slogged, toiled and prayed. He put in his time and did all the things, labored and toiled and collected his chits, but when the winds rolled through and leveled the field, the bank cashed in and took it all away. Broke, broker, broken, sure…but maybe life don’t conjugate so easy. There’s flesh and blood and little bits of hope tucked here or there. Give us this day our daily bread. Or weekly bread. Or monthly. Give me a fair sum of bread per annum, and we’ve got a deal.

What I mean is, could you spare some old bread about now?

What I mean is, we’re fighting the dust.

We’re fighting the dust, and by God I will keep something for myself. You let me up in a card game, and I’ll bring the whole house down. You give me an inch, and I’ll take it all. What I’m about to do is shoot my way out like the Old West, roving and killing and bursting out hearts, and if God don’t forgive me, he’s not a working man. Scramble the posse and tack up the posters, hoist up the planks like a gallows. Fix the needles and give me the chair—trap me in the soliloquy of indelible hours, long nights spent in one-bunk cells with solitaire and a harmonica and the old, feeble prison guard snoozing beyond care.

One night I dreamed I sold my heart back to Jesus. But there was trouble with the receipt, and all the original parts were not there.
I miss East Coast/West Coast rap battles. I miss cornrowed brothers who would kill in cold blood for their art. I miss death-row madrigals in prison tats and gold chains, hardknock motherfuckers spinning rhymes out of bullet holes because there’s jungle in my blood, and I’ve got that ching-ching-ching like old money. A wanted poster looks the same as any folded bill, given proportions and linear perspective and if all the soft lighting is there.

They say a singer works the same as any other man. He hammers and scrapes and copies the rhythms of his greatest lovers. He is a riveter rutting himself against the double-iron back of time, spilling his seed into the dark places where the mold can’t grow and the dust can’t reach, hoping to trap the world in his stain. I saw the best minds of my generation die in my own head—but now that’s done. Stick around. They said, “A puncher’s chance is the poor man’s trick, so set your feet and make it a gorgeous one.” And I’m engorged. I’m shooting in you now. My dreams will be your babies.

Sometimes I forget what it was like to grow up on the outskirts of a wilting country town. I forget the coyotes mewling hungry outside the chicken coop, my little brother wheezing in the other room. This was back before my brother got screwed up with a kid and before I punched my mother over young love…back before my old man got prattled on drugs and went to take it easy in a sanitarium. This was before that war that got turned into a ribbon and before that girl I kissed at last call—back before my little sister got forgotten for doing everything right.

This is one last song for my road dogs, Buck and Wee-Wee and Prefontaine. This is one last shout-out for Big Mick and Pettybone, O-Jeff and Chicken George, singing and living off white bread in the old county jail. Can you hear me, old Gordon? My beard has gone gray, and my hair is so thin, and I’m typing and typing and
why don’t you love me by now?

There are crawdads snapping dark tunes deep into the creek bottoms. There’s a whole bucket full of stars spinning and decaying up there in the manner of cold angels, goldfish set loose on a silver pond to bloat up and burst upon the sound. The whole universe is hatching an escape plan out of the sky as it shoots itself past Pluto, but what we say is I’ll survive because the soup is cooling off and my old overcoat is hanging up at home.

There are statements about no news and its relative merits. There are wives’ tales about mermaids and fishwives and the fish that got away. Well I guess I don’t give a damn about that.
What I care about is the landlord’s feet against my ceiling, the smell of his dinner wafting down as my old stomach growls. I care about songs and hunger and what I remember in the meat of my bones: the rattle of my old father’s truck skidding across the dust in the somber yellow of early evening, wending through the cutbacks of a dark country road. I miss that song of the revving engine, the barking dogs, the rattling of tools. The dust of the road billowing behind as he returned from the farm, cresting the final hill pulling diesel and pesticides…and my little sister in her sundress would get up from her sandbox. And my mother would look up from the window. And I would see my brother in her arms. And all the dogs were happy in their steps and made their magic circles and did follow along. This was before the coyotes were awake and all honest people had gone to bed.

We changed our shirts and washed our hands. We said our prayers, and with trembling we came to the table. There was chicken and gravy and lots of potatoes. Collard greens with bacon and lots of preservatives. We were stuffing our mouths with cornmeal and nitrates, but what we hoped was that some taste of it all would rot on our tongues like forever. Our blood swelled with poisons and heartbreak and the great Midwestern diabetes and we were killing ourselves with each bite, but what we hoped was that some bit of ourselves would hold and metastasize, would petrify our intestines against the dust for a thousand years. We crawled into our father’s lap as the setting sun burned its slow hole deep into the west, organs grinding to a halt beneath our skin. The music was playing. And the landlord was at bay. And we laughed. We told stories. We hunched in front of the television box, chewing our toxic meal, and we were all very happy.

Daniel Long is an Oklahoman living in New York. His fiction has appeared.

Monday, January 9, 2012

No news today - Guest Post - Iain Haley Pollock

Snow in Wartime

It's warm for Syracuse in deep December--
but still cold enough for snow, snow made
light and fat by a sweep over Lake Ontario,
the flakes like down from a split pillow.
We're walking on the western shore of Onondaga,
hand in hand, the few towers on the skyline
visible through spare trees. The path runs
between dense beds of common reeds--
invading marshy ground around the lake--
and tumbledown docks of ruined resort hotels.

Before the snow I was thinking what a rabbit
punch, this month. Painkillers and chemotherapy
thinning your uncle's voice. Granddad gone
a second winter, again no Lancashire hullo.
Our friend's pickup rolled off an icy road--
his neck snapped. The list of more boys,
from whistle-stop towns in Texas, Pennsylvania,
Ohio, dead. Car bombs in Baghdad
and Kufa ending six-dozen unnamed lives.

But while the lake effect falls, I stop worrying
about illness and accidents and war, and stand
with you to watch the slow drift. Years from now,
we'll forget that I hardly talked with you,
that Mack trucks growled nearby, that death
choked at our thoughts. I'll remind you then--
faced with dope-addicted daughter
or father's congestive collapse--that once
there was a lake where we walked together,
fingers intertwined, the sky hushed to snow.

Iain Haley Pollock lives in Philadelphia and teaches English at Springside-Chestnut Hill Academy. His first collection of poems, SPIT BACK A BOY (University of Georgia, 2011), won the 2010 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Elizabeth Alexander, President Obama's inaugural poet, selected the manuscript for the prize. Pollock earned a bachelor's degree in English from Haverford College and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Syracuse University. He is a Cave Canem Fellow.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

No news today - Guest Post - Polly Bresnick


She hears a warm voice say, "That seat is available. You're welcome to sit." Over the clunk and whoosh of the train slamming around on its tracks, he sounds handsome. The accent is the square-jawed drawl of Southern California. She is good at placing voices. He sounds tan, with salt-and-pepper hair. He sounds like he might know he's handsome. He sounds kind. He is a backlit shadow mingling in front of her.

He can see that she is blind, and he thinks of himself as a helpful person. He stares at her wandering eyes. "How are you today?"

She smiles. "Oh, just fine. Thank you for asking." She keeps smiling, her face turned up towards his voice. She asks him back and he answers.

He smiles, then realizes he doesn't have to, then thinks she can probably hear a smile in a person's voice, wonders about all sorts of subtle things that seeing people can't hear. He folds his newspaper and folds his hands and lets it all rest in his lap. He looks out the window. Maybe their conversation is over.

"Beautiful view out the window, isn't it?" He turns to her, surprised. She laughs and slaps her knee. "That was a joke. It's polite to laugh when a stranger makes a joke." He smiles and lets out a generous chuckle with the breath he'd been holding in. She reminds him of a female actor who always plays the funny roles, only she, the blind woman, is quite pretty.

"Don't worry," she says. "I won't ask you to explain to me what cathedrals are by moving my hand to draw the picture." He frowns. He can't tell if this is another joke.

"Sorry?" He means it in all kinds of ways.

"No need to be. I'm not." She keeps smiling towards him, while her dull eyes wander all over the place. She's fastidiously dressed. He thinks someone must dress her, or assist her. "I'm OK with sitting on a train with someone who doesn't read, as long as you're OK with sitting on a train with someone who's blind as a bat." Her smile is completely still.

He nods, his face friendly. Then remembers he should say something, "OK."

She sticks her hand out towards him, "Kate. Kate Brandt."

He hesitates, looks around even, then leans forward to take her hand in his, "I'm George Clooney."

His hand feels firm and warm and, she senses, honest. There is hair on the knuckles but not a vulgar amount. His hand feels clean. He smells like a man who dresses well. He does not, however, smell like the famous actor, George Clooney. "Well, what do you know! It's a real pleasure to meet you, Mr. Clooney." She asks him to do a few of his characters. He does pretty well. They move together through space while sitting perfectly still.

Polly Bresnick writes about accidents, loves Moby Dick, and hosts a monthly reading series with a conceptually palindromic name. You can find her writing in The Brooklyn Rail, Weave Magazine, The Boogie Woogie Flu, decomP magazinE, monkeybicycle, and here: http://sayingitjustright.tumblr.com/.