Saturday, July 22, 2017

It Was DAVID Who Sang, NOT Jesus: Review of a Book Title

The Brick Testament: folk art, outsider art.* 

I was grazing postings on Facebook and read: “I am so grateful for The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms.” A good person wrote that. I didn't mistake her intentions, which are to share her joy and kindness and humanity. But the books title?

Songs of Jesus? In Psalms? Jesus? Who didn’t make his entrance until the Psalmist was long gone, the Psalmist being King David and others who weren’t quite headliners but had a way with words, wisdom and beauty.

The book's title conflates fact and history. I suppose some might cry, “alpha” “omega” eternal now, always existing, and other and varied mystical perspectives of time and space. Don’t they know the long and cruel history of the West? I went to a Protestant Sunday School every Sunday when I was a kid.  For fourteen or so years. We read the Bible. That’s what we did. Read out loud (at which I excelled) and discussed (which was hard because I was shy). We were aware of the book's two major parts and in no way were encouraged to believe Jesus wrote, or dictated, or was remembered as saying anything but his words — all of which are hugely famous, many of which are beautiful and inspiring, some of which are confounding.

In my adulthood I learned that the mentions of Jews in the New Testament, a book created by committee, are prejudicial. One might say, antisemitic. I say, cringe-worthy, especially in John (of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John fame), i.e., “the Jews picked up stones to stone him” … “and the Jews began to grumble” … “the Jews were watching for him.” 

In adulthood I have found it hard not to walk out of church at Easter (I was baptized in the Episcopalian church when I was in my forties) when “the Jews” are vilified by dint of writing, editing, and callous refusal to rework the sacred (but openly debated for centuries) texts. This is similar to hearing news reports of Jews killing Palestinians, when it is Israelis who are doing the killing and wrongly claiming the land.

I never, however, heard a minister credit Jesus with writing the Psalms, or hint at same. As this title does: “Songs of Jesus...” This echoes Songs of Solomon, and, since “Psalms” is a selling point in the title, echoes The Psalms. 

For me, this is “truthiness.” For me this is prejudice, obfuscation, arrogant appropriation. 

Because I am half-Jewish I suppose I am especially sensitive to slights. But those slights work out historically as a reason to blame and hate (which humans seem to love to do), as pogroms and worse, so, cut me some slack. And honor history. Even a title as simple as, The Psalms from Jesus’ Perspective, would pass muster. 

If you gotta lie, you are hiding something.
*The Brick Testament:, 
Site content of the Brick Testament copyright 2001-2015 by Brendan Powell Smith. all rights reserved.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Great Anti-Hypocrite Is Come: Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters

Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters

Analyzing and refuting the inaccuracies lodged against the lgbt community by religious conservative organizations. Lies in the name of God are still lies.

I just ran across the blazing genius, Alvin McEwen.  His blog, Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters, serves as an unforgiving, meticulously researched eye on the conservative and just plain ignorant forces ever-gathering on the rightish but oh-so-wrongish side of the spectrum. He is the Anti-Hypocrite come to bring the foul and bigoted to the fires of public attention. I am in love.

He is fiercely (as we say, and endlessly so) queer. He may even write the Queer Agenda -- you know, equality, justice for all, equal protections, universal healthcare -- we keep hearing about. 

Not for the first time I am the last on the block here. This blog won the 2017 GLAAD Media Award - Outstanding Blog award. 

Just check it out. Holy Bullies is a resource. I love resources. Again:

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The most beautiful Caravaggio

Conversion on the Way to Damascus
Caravaggio, c. 1600-1601

I just chanced on this painting. My heart won't stop jumping. The light on that horse. The colors of that horse. The composition. 
Caravaggio suffices. Grace through faith. Grace through art.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Emily Dickinson #Poem Final Stanza Will Flip You Into Eternity

The last stanza destroys me every time. 

A Bird, came down the Walk - (359)

Related Poem Content Details

A Bird, came down the Walk - 
He did not know I saw -
He bit an Angle Worm in halves 
And ate the fellow, raw, 
And then, he drank a Dew
From a convenient Grass -
And then hopped sidewise to the Wall 
To let a Beetle pass -
He glanced with rapid eyes,
That hurried all abroad -
They looked like frightened Beads, I thought,
He stirred his Velvet Head. - 
Like one in danger, Cautious,
I offered him a Crumb,
And he unrolled his feathers, 
And rowed him softer Home -
Than Oars divide the Ocean,
Too silver for a seam,
Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon, 
Leap, plashless as they swim.

Poem a cut and paste from the Poetry Foundation website. 
Emily Dickinson neither cut nor paste but marvel.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Mashed Potatoes On My Mind #broke

I'm in bed with a crappy cold. The thing slowing me down ancillary to the crappy cold is the mashed potatoes in my skull where sometimes there is brain matter. I used to think about death all the time. Used to: until about a month ago.

Now that I'm am older (about a month so) than I was in my meditations-on-death years, the conjecture, fear, and eager anticipation don't interest me. Money does. Je suis broke. Paying the rent so I am not made homeless interests me.

Sick and stumbling I dragged myself to the library a few hours ago, thinking I'm Not Your Negro, the 2016 film about James Baldwin, was on hold for me, but it wasn't. And because two librarians investigated, each loudly, and obliviously insensitive to my sensibilities, I kept repeating, "It's about James Baldwin," every time one of them repeated the title, I'm Not Your Negro. Because if you didn't know what the film was about, a decent person might wonder about me.

I have to start over and put the film on order at the NYPL. That's okay. The mashed potatoes that constitute 90 percent of my intellect cry out for butter and gravy. I cry out to passed over  James Baldwin, now with the Messengers, for help, mashing the potatoes into respect and income.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Disagree Lit at the HiFi Bar, Wed. 6/7, NYC #fiction #poetry #fun #funfunfun

Join us! I'm gonna read fiction! 
At the HiFi Bar!
169 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009-4567
On June 7th, the Disagreement Presents: "If you have really good vision..." 

Starting a little later than normal (9pm) but blazing you with three fantastic writers: 


Emily Temple has an MFA from the University of Virginia, where she was a Henry Hoynes fellow and the recipient of a Henfield Prize. Her work has recently appeared in Electric Literature's Recommended Reading, Colorado Review, Indiana Review, Fairy Tale Review, No Tokens, Territory and elsewhere. She is an associate editor at Literary Hub and lives in Brooklyn. 

Sarah Sarai writes poetry and short fiction. Poetry collections are: Geographies of Soul and Taffeta and The Future Is Happy; poems in: Barrow Street, Boston Review, Prelude, etc. Short stories in: Cleaver, Fairy Tale Review, Callisto, etc. and a chapbook, The Young Orator. She has an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College.

Matt Dojny’s debut novel, The Festival of Earthly Delights, was published by Dzanc Books in June 2012 and is now available in paperback. Dojny’s work has appeared in Electric Literature, A Public Space, The Collagist, Better Magazine, and Vol. 1 Brooklyn. Visit him at, or at, where he (sometimes) posts a drawing a day.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

"the need to kill various elves" :Spencer Dew reviews my collection: #poetry

Spencer Dew is impressive. His review in decomP magazinE of my collection Geographies of Soul and Taffeta is no doubt the least of his accomplishments but in my life, the most important. His summations are the very wry he assigns me, and brilliantly so. I will let you read the review for yourself, and hope you will buy and read the book, as well. See below for links. Here is a taste of both book and review. One poem in the collection, Rolling on the Floor Killing Elves, begins with an apparition of discord: 

The elves, the freaking elves.    
They laugh at huge clumsy humans.
Big hands, big feet, and have you seen
our big bent stinky shoes! . . .

Spencer Dew sees the poem's link to the other poems in the book -  so gratifying to the poet - when he sums up by use of a few of my lines thusly: 
“It doesn't take brains, this thing called happiness, but that doesn't make it any less elusive in a world of distractions, represented here by forks in mattresses, the underserved fame of snake, and the need to kill various elves. When Trouble farts, you can smell it, Sarai writes.
...the need to kill various elves. Who among us has not known that?   

Read the review, in decomP magazineE.
Buy Geographies, published by Indolent Books.
Check out Spencer Dew, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Centenary College of Louisiana, currently researching the Moorish Science Temple of American, and author of Songs of Insurgency; Here Is How It HappensLearning for Revolution: The Work of Kathy Acker; and other books.

Friday, May 26, 2017

"Low" from Mervyn Taylor's new collection #poem #poetry

Mervyn Taxor
Last night I was at a happy, rambunctious launch for Mervyn Taylor's latest collection, Voices Carry (Shearsman Press). We were at the Cornelia Street Cafe in Greenwich Village. The great David "Happy" Williams on bass charmed with a few Trinidadian-ish tunes. I'd been asked to read one of Merv's poems. Here it is. "Low"

Voices Carry is available from Shearsman, Amazon, B&N.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Flattened by Manchester: "A Bullish Run into Chambers" #poem

from the Express:*

Wrote this when Princess Diana was killed in the wreck and a friend subsequently criticized people who set out flowers in honor of strangers. Am flattened by the Manchester bombing. Setting out flowers. 

A Bullish Run into Chambers
When a stranger killed is laid to rest
at an altar for Public Mass of Remembrance,
African violets torn from a window’s sun
buttery as a tea cookie or rose petal,
prim Queen Anne’s lace for Diana,
buttery herself and silky, a fallen sulky,
for a child we will never meet,
a teenager who standing is caught
in crosshairs of our blood extravaganza,
we are allowed impersonal grief.
We pay to be hollowed by cinematic gore,
are immunized against capitalism’s rule:
a business must grow. The word was gore,
a bullish run into chambers born bursting
and broke. Along chain-link fences,
at street corners and Buckingham Palace,
wobbly petals mark our bid to be human.
Sarah Sarai, first pub. in Fringe, issue 26, now archived by Sundress Publications.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Poem: "There is no quantification of smallest powers which propel."

A Territory of the Miracle
Cool the crude map
fired in your dark palm. 
Slip around 1 corner,
then 2, 3, next
4. 4 corners squaring off
with Fate: It’s a start.
(Times x, a lifetime.) 
Now a dusty path to
green sorrow growing shoots.
Stop short of the bog.
A shape will approach,
reach for, comfort,
your weeping hand.

That outshining ray of
sun with tumbled motes,
spinning cities—
take the keys—
incorporeal shrines glinting,
imbuing strength
to leave the haze.
A territory of the miracle. 
There is no quantification
of smallest powers
which propel. 
Sarah Sarai. First published in Fringe, issue 26. All issues archived courtesy of Sundress Publications.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Heliocentric World, 1965, Sun Ra

A wee bit into "Outer Nothingness" I felt I was in a Buddhist Temple, that the gutturals were leading me to that promised higher plane. Then the sound changed and I was freely and happily allowing myself to be invaded by sound rays.

This is from the album The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra. It may have been the best thing happening in 1965, other than the Voting Rights Act, which is currently imperiled by our spineless Congress. So if another Sun Ra wants to open America's heart, throat, insight, and crown chakras, do it.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Disney goes Samba

How to make the happy music of Disney even happier? Samba! The album is Disney Adventures in Samba. The artist is Diogo Nogueira. That person dancing is you.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Village Voice Sees Me, or, a Moment of Satisfaction in My Life

No, Dear magazine is a poetry journal dedicated to publishing fresh voices from the New York literary scene. This week, they celebrate their spring issue, "REPUBLIC," with readings by many of the dozen-plus contributors. Over the course of the evening, attendees will get to listen to the seductive lyricism of Renata Ament, the haunting investigations of Adjua Gargi Nzinga Greaves, and the wry declarations of Sarah Sarai. The writers No, Dear features are diverse in age, gender, race, visibility, form, and voice — a beautiful reflection of the city itself. In their work, poetics and politics converge, attempting a vision of unity and resistance in a deeply fractured America. Swing by to support a hopeful vision of our faulty Republic, and your local poet. Issues will be sold for $8 at the launch.

It's a nice feeling is all I will say, to be appreciated with an encouraging accuracy. "Wry" isn't all I am, but for sure my poetry stylings, to draw on the jazz world, can be wry. And warm congratulations to the other two poets named, Renata Ament and Adjua Gargi Nzinga Greaves. No, Dear is edited by Emily Brandt, Alex Cuff, T'ai Freedom Ford. 

Thanks to my friend, Pete Dolack, who did what Google Alerts chose not to, alert me to this clip.