Saturday, December 9, 2017

About my reading in Baltimore next Tuesday 12/12 and my best/worst practical joke.

From their website: The Writers & Words Series is a Baltimore reading series, created by local writers Michelle Junot and Michael B. Tager. The reading series features one fiction writer, one essayist or memoirist, one poet, and a “wild card” each month. As part of the reading series, writers & words compiles and produces a zine of the featured readers’ work. Dave Ring will be the lucky "Wildcard" choice.  

So there's a zine and there's also interviews by Maria Goodman posted with the features before the event. Mine went up today....just in time for my "quest in" to Baltimore.  All I can say is that I love Baltimore and have been treated right there, from The Baltimore Festival of the Book, where I sold 300 copies of "Twenty-Six Pack" , to the 510 Reading Series at the Minas Gallery, June 2010, where I read from "Treating A Sick Animal"(currently ranked in the Top 11 Million on Amazon). For the write up of that event, it's documented HERE.  but apparently I brought a lot of Pabst Blue Ribbon, five or so months before my sobriety date. 

I love reading at series events because they are all different and based on experience they can differ event to event.  Take last week's Dire at the new location. The features killed but we held the event the same day as SantaCon Boston. Oh no, drunk Santas--how I love you, how loud you were, how glad I was that I used a microphone last Saturday.

The link is from the event page, but you can also read it below. 

  1. What is your first memory of writing for fun?
I always hated being told what to write. Book reports…essays…research papers where all assigned in High School and College. When I was 16 I joined the school newspaper, I was writing for the sports pages and I was supposed to write the Basketball Preview. When I assessed the players it read something like Vinnie Scarpello, F, 6’1”, 6’5” with afro. Joe Blow, G, Good ball handler, and actually likes the pizza in the cafeteria. I also was one of the few that could touch type, so I ended up being an Editor and earning the Smithtown East Journalism Award.
  1. How many drafts = done?
Infinity. It’s done when it’s done. It may need more drafts if I’ve written a really rough first draft. It may need more if there are more plot or arc revisions. It may need a few set of eyes because I like to farm line editing typos out because I’m just too damn tired at looking at the manuscript and I’m useless.
  1. What is your favorite book or favorite book-of-the-moment?
Favorite all time is Catch-22. I modeled my first novel after the chaptering style, the switch of characters and the humor found in some very serious subject matter. It is Joseph Heller’s work of genius within his total body of work.
  1. What is it about your discipline that gets you the most excited?
Depends on what I’m writing. For a novel, someone walking up to me and talking about the book—and not just ass kissing. For poetry, hearing that sigh right after you nailed a poem in front of an audience.
  1. What’s your favorite word or words? What about it/them appeals to you?
That’s a tough one, but I love words which have double meanings and I love puns. Both those types of words give pause to think and to laugh.
Bonus question: What’s the best / worst practical joke that you’ve played on someone or that was played on you and how can this shared experience shape the world?
Once I worked in an isolated office for a company called, let’s say ABC Industries which worked next door to a company 123 Industries. It was so isolated that had to get in our cars to get a soda, coffee, or lunch out. One day a soda machine appeared in the hallway. Our office was ecstatic, and people were playing it up. “Who wants a soda?” and “Ahhhhh, Coke.” Totally yucking it up—so I just had to fix it.

I got an idea, how to burst the bubble—I posted a sign on the machined which read—THIS VENDING MACHINE IS FOR USE BY 123 INDUSTRIES ONLY. NO ONE FROM ABC INDUSTRIES IS ALLOWED TO USE THIS MACHINE.

Anyway. Word spread fast. It spread to our now grumpy employees, all the way to the office manager who storms into 123 Industries and has a red faced tirade. Oh no….I thought. I’d better stay silent on this—I’m in dangerous disciplinary action mode. The next day the machine had been removed. So, I’ve stayed silent for about 25 years and not told anyone about this until now.
In terms of shaping the word, I say, honesty is the best policy, unless it hurts yourself or others.
I feel pretty honored that this 25 year secret has been now shared with the world via Writers & Words interviews, thank you for trusting us, Timothy.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Clowns? Drugs? Sweaty Elvis? Are you scared kids?

FACT: Clowns are scary for most everyone.

Yes, but what happens when a clown hired for a children's party cancels their gig. Then it's Elvis and drugs. Be scared kids, be scared. The Patriots are scary good and their logo has been called "Flying Elvis".

Picture: Cesar Valtierra 

The Elvis in my story flies too--but in an entirely different way. So that's about all I can say regarding my flash piece published today on Oddball Magazine.  Click this link and read all about it.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Dire History-A Goodbye to Out of the Blue, but I hope to see you anew. Hello to The Middle East

Sadly finances forced The Out of the Blue to close 12/1/17, but they promise to be back, sometime, somewhere and hopefully soon. I am deeply indebted and am so grateful for my relationship with them, starting back in 2001. Hopefully not a goodbye, but a see you later.

 So here's the Dire history--location only.


February-March 2001 - First Tuesday reading at Cantab Underground                              2

June 2001-Aug 2002- First Friday, Out of the Blue Art Gallery                                        15
                                    168 Brookline St., Cambridge

Sept 2002-Oct 2011-First Friday, Out of the Blue Art Gallery                                         110
                                    106 Prospect St., Cambridge

Nov 4, 2011-                -First Friday, Yarrow                                                                        1
                                    106 Prospect St., Cambridge

Yarrow? WTF, Yarrow? Rare image. 

Dec 2011-Sept 2014-First Friday, Out of the Blue Art Gallery                                          34
                                    106 Prospect St., Cambridge

Oct 2014-Nov 2017-First Friday, Out of the Blue Too                                                       38      
                                    541 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge                                                   200

Dire NUMBER 201-----Tomorrow-First Saturday Afternoon , The Middle East Corner                                                                                      480  Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge

The new temporary location stage area

As you can see, exactly 198/200 meetings of the Dire Series was held at the Out of the Blue Gallery,
in some form or another. If and when they relocate we'll give it a go there as I've had an amazing relationship with Tom Tipton (right), the proprietor and friend.
The Middle East, with their generous owners, Joeseph and Nabil Sater (left) have supported the Out of the Blue for years. These gentleman also have a reputation for supporting individuals, such as broke or troubled musicians by giving them jobs and helping them back on their feet, which they humbly would never admit.

When I approached Nabil to host Dire at The Middle East this Saturday, all I had to do was ask--it took less than a minute. Seemed like a good match--a series in need and a location owner with a big heart. It's a temporary home and I could be asked to leave at anytime....which has never stopped me before. So tomorrow at 3 PM, we do it again--very much hope to see people at the new location, date and time!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Audio of my reading at Parkside Lounge, 11/12/17

This is recorded from a reading November 12 at the Great Weather for Media show at Parkside Lounge, 317 East Houston Street, in New York City. I featured with Dean Kostos, Mike Jurcovic, two wonderful readers who I wish I had their recordings as well. New York legend and poet George Wallace hosted and set it all up.

Parkside Lounge 11/12/17

Monday, November 20, 2017

Pleased to announce a poem of mine being nominated for a Pushcart by Big Table.

Robin Stratton posted----
November 20, 6 PM 

CONGRATULATIONS to Big Table's 2017 Pushcart Prize noms!!
“The Lynching of Leo Frank” by Zvi A. Sesling
"Balance" by Richard Fox
“Unforgotten” by Elizabeth Szewczyk 
“Making American History” by Timothy Gager
“When I say ‘you’ I mean all of us” by Annie Stenzel
“White Coats” by John Cuetara

That makes twelve nominations total for me. Although people say a Pushcart nomination has no meaning----as anyone can nominate anyone from any webpage---even yourself from your own--it means a lot when a publisher/editor (Robin Stratton) who has put out a large amount of work names you in their Top 5. Loved that it's a "made America greatly worse" poem. Thanks @realdonaldtrump--you're an inspiration and a fucking peach. 

Who else has 12 nominations? Drake, that's who!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Todays Match Chief Jay Strongbow vs. Delaney Lester. Making Poetry real.

Here is Chief Jay Strongbow---played by an Italian, Joey Scarpa, and racism brought to you by the WWF. Chief Jay for those keeping score = Not Real.

In the poem, "Chief Jay Strongbow is Real" I was trying to show that now in 2017,  as in the past, we are still taking land from the Native Americans at Standing Rock. We still depict those of “featured” ethnic groups as people to fear, and enact travel bans against all within that group. We have overwhelming police action, force, and incarceration in higher percentages from those dis-empowered. We have leadership treating addictions as personal weakness rather than disease. Things are viewed as true or real because society is telling us they are true and real. In other words, if we are not advancing in all these thought patterns, we have been regressing.

As I wrote the poem, I wanted a line, and I needed a real wrestler from Standing Rock. It would make a perfect metaphor for what is "real" vs. fake--(pro wrestling). I searched and I found a champion named Delaney Lester

Last year at Standing Rock, Junior
Wrestler Delaney Lester won

the 152 pound class in a pin.
No one will remember Delaney

And who was Luke Joseph Scarpa?
He was a fake, an actor within


Fast forward to releasing the book. I'd read the poem and say something like, "There's this kid out there who has no idea he's in a poem..." I spoke about it when I was on TV with Doug Holder

at 24:47 or so...full poem before at 23:45

Which brings us to the magic or the obtrusiveness of the internet, where on Facebook I found Delaney Lester and contacted him out of my own curiosity. Things like this make poetry more real and it was awesome!! Delaney is real and he is a champion.

Chief Jay Strongbow is Real

His war dance began when wounded ,
Desperate, he’d rally—proud warrior

The show is real, dammit, the native American
will make that comeback, always fighting

harder when down, then full of fist-chops,
he’d punch, Handsome Jimmy Valiant

the rival’s white hair was bloody and disheveled—
Valiant was formally a partner, as champions

They fought Mr. Fugi and Professor Toru Tanaka
a tag-team battle of racism. The bout was over

when we enacted The Indian Removal Act
colonial conflict, disease, discrimination

because that was too real, dammit—the money
is what it’s about. Value

Last year at Standing Rock, Junior
Wrestler Delaney Lester won

the 152 pound class in a pin.
No one will remember Delaney

And who was Luke Joseph Scarpa?
He was a fake, an actor within

the theater of our absurdity. It’s all fake
Chief Jay Strongbow will beat the white man.

Monday, November 13, 2017


Today my inteview on is up. 

It is something they did with me right after "Chief Jay Strongbow is Real" came out.

Cool. Click the above link or read it below, but the site has a poem on it. The book is also available elsewhere not just on my website, which sounds amateurish.

So there is some history here. I've had many great associations with MassPoetry. I've filmed rides with Kim Addonizio, and with Nick Flynn, Greg Pardo and Rachel Eliza Griffiths on their way to Mass Poetry Festivl.

I've taught workshops for High School and Middle School students. "Say It a Different Way!"-I put on that blackboard at U Mass, Boston.  Damn straight

Student Day of Poetry UMass Bosto
Student Day of Poetry Bristol Community College

I've read poetry on trolleys and also appeared on panels. Here's a picture from Poetry of Grief panel. I'm not pictured, probably grieving..

The Interview is in their Getting to Know series....which puts this song in my head.


When did you first encounter poetry? How did you discover you wanted to write poems?
More or less in High School. I was a big music listener as a kid—it drew me in and that was the age of the singer songwriter. Lyrics told stories, had meaning, were poetic. In college I joined a band and I wanted to write poetry just the opposite way I had listened to it. I wanted to write poetry so I could compose better lyrics.
Do you have a writing routine? A favorite time or place to write? 
I’m a morning person now so I like to write before or just after lunch. I like to work at a desk, with limited distraction. When I was writing my novels I wrote and stopped at between 500-750 words a day, so that I could start fresh the next day without writing the idea dry. For poetry, I like to pick at it—write a draft, pick and have a much better draft by the end of the day. Then I’ll look at it in the future and with fresh eyes, and do a more serious revision.
Where do your poems most often come from—an image, a sound, a phrase, an idea?
All of the above, but most often, a feeling, or vamping off a word or phrase.
Which writers (living or dead) do you feel have influenced you the most?
Dead. Seriously, at different points of my life different writers have influenced me. Influences or more subtle these days now I rely on my own voice, often using the cadence of other poets as influences.
Tell us a little bit about your new collection: what's the significance of the title? are there over-arching themes? what was the process of assembling it? was it a project book? etc
19873850_10154430072976511_334013970_n.jpgTell us a little bit about your new collection: what's the significance of the title? are there over-arching themes? what was the process of assembling it? was it a project book? etc.
The book is in eight acts or sections. The first act starts with the titular Chief Jay Strongbow is Real. Strongbow was a Pro Wrestler who worked for Vincent J. McMahon's World Wide Wrestling Federationfrom 1970-1985. He was 57 when he retired, and his persona of fierce warrior was all an act. An Italian named Joe Scarpa played the chief. 
That said, there are no wrestling poems in this collection. What I was attempting in this work was, in general, the question of what exactly is real.? What do we believe? What do the people in power tell the masses which influence us into believing that the lies are the truth. This began in America when America began. Unfortunately, it still happens today. Funny thing is I never wrote poems about social consciousness before, because I felt that beliefs are beliefs, mine are mine and yours are yours, and nobody cares or is swayed by any of it.  In today’s world, what is going on is something I just couldn’t avoid in my writing. It is important. I tried to not make the work preachy, and more observant from one person’s point of view. Then there are seven other acts dealing with the conflicts of being human: love, loss, family, recovery and food. Never forget food.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Seven years at midnight, without a drink. Some poems and a story written during recovery about recovery

 Usually when I hit a milestone, I have something to say, something to blog about. Each day is the miracle, waking to midnight. Hell, usually I'm in bed by ten, so it's less than one day at a time. So tonight at midnight, on a lazy Sunday it'll be seven years sober. It's such a lazy Sunday I don't want to find the links related to my story but you can either go to the search box on the top right and type in "sober" "alcoholic" "recovery" etc. and get the results. 

To are some previously published work, written during recovery about recovery. I always worried that I couldn't write anything of any worth sober. There is a solution and I'm always willing to help.

The Shutting Door   

We are solid oak doors that shut
on our past, close on dead mothers,
sons, daughters. These doors swell
often, won’t open. One midnight

we walked towards woods, the moss
cold under our toes, as we were,
caught in the light for a moment;
a glimpse of half full. We are dim

lights on dark nights, sending out calls
to the wolves howling at the sun
because the moon hanging there,
yet never seems to hear them.

If I should need to step back to see
how you glow in this light,
illumination, I can be at one with that,
us, growing like violets in the dark

 1. The Shutting Door-Written in 2011 during year one. Originally published in Red Fez Issue 43 as "All the Days And Nights". Also the titicular poem in my book of recovery poems (mostly) published by Ibbetson St. Press 2013. 



When I raised my hand
told a gray room the reasons
I started drinking, I wanted
 to start again immediately.
Told people, whose faces looked like
The End of the World, the truth.

Then I told them I would pour a girl
I’d lusted after, down like whiskey,
her lovely legs spread
until they snapped,
so I could feel like I used
her, an orgasm, I gulped,

running down my neck
like streams of veins.
Oh, I said I never used dope,
when I asked her for it, nicely,
she said,  No, she would never

give it up, just got up, waltzed
out of my life. So I begged:
Please, God, stay with me tonight,
here in this church basement.
Please, I can't picture heaven.

2. Missteps, written very early in sobriety, published March 2012 in Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. Also appears in The Shutting Door. A favorite of my friend Kristie. RIP .  


It can exist
drink coffee

milk, three sugars,
stirred with a straw.

Sit on the sofa,
legs curled under

view the oil paintings
hung boats and fields

thousands of brush strokes

 3. Sobriety. Written in 2017-published in Chief Jay Strongbow is Real, 2017, Big Table Publishing

But you forgot, To remember

It rains cats and dogs
and images of baby animals
made the blues go away

Billie Holiday scratched
to the end, the needle dragged
never piercing her center, which

was glued on, nevertheless,
I related.  Her story intrigued,
I never understood the song’s

connotation, why the singer’s depths
of despair, strung me along with
desperate notes, desperate measures.

Lady-you once spoke to me,
but never knew me, all the times
I slipped this record into the sleeve

Keep sending me stars and the sea
distant is not an obstacle,
for what I believe.

4. But you Forgot to Remember-written in 2013. Published on the Mass Poetry webpage in 2015. Also published in Chief Jay Strongbow is Real, 2017, Big Table Publishing. Metaphors are badass. 

 Coffee Maker

Al took the job as the coffee maker as the last one person holding that job died. It helped to bolster Al’s sobriety by giving him responsibility. He’d lost more important jobs in his life but he wasn’t about to lose this one. It was a very important job.

Al would show up at 6:30 in the morning and reconstruct the percolator. Fill the pot up three-quarters of the way with water, then place the stem, basket, canned coffee in, then cover and plug the cord into the socket. The outcome was that the brew was watery and biter so most people brought their own to the meeting anyway.

“Hey, old-timer,” Al said to one with a Dunkin’ Donuts cup. “Why not try some of mine. I take this job very seriously.”

“The coffee is terrible here,” he said. “It’s been terrible for years.”

The old-timer was a one of the nicer ones. Many of the others that came in drooping would just swear at him or his coffee and Al would internalize it. It made him want to drink vodka instead of coffee and Al realized how bad that would be if he let that happen.

Al used to own his own business in the real world. It was a moving company where he would supply the truck and help the client out with half the labor. He called his business “Al Co-Haul: Rate Negotiable” and he never realized how his love of booze ended up ruining his business. He found he was drinking more than he was working, which led to his truck being reposed and him having no income. It was time to turn his life around but failing at his new job of coffee maker wasn’t helping.

So, as his head cleared up, he thought about replacing the crappy brand of coffee. The group’s kitty did not have enough money to pay for the pounds of ground Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks so he looked into ways to roast his own beans. He chose a three step method.

Step 1: Choose a roasting method
Al picked a radiant drum roaster for large amounts of beans. It was symbolic. His life used to simmer and slowly everything would turn and the voices he heard in his head were echoing like sounds in a drum—telling him to drink…drink. The company that made the roaster offered to sponsor Al, as long as he mentioned their name once a day during the meeting. He accepted them as a sponsor.

Step 2: Choose green coffee
Al used to wake up green in color. I loved that the beans to roast were the exact same color. He asked the company for help in selecting the type of bean and that was a good step for him to take as well—asking for help.

Step 3: The Roasting Process
He wanted a dark rich finished product, something that went from nothing to a wonderful finished product. He called an expert to help him perfect his beans and he was open to suggestions.

                                              *   *  *

Al’s addiction ruined his family life. He thought that recovery would fix everything, but instead his wife now resented the fact that all his time was being taken up in his bean roasting job. They would fight about it. “You don’t understand,” he said. “My recovery has to be the most important thing in my life and without that, I can’t be any good at anything else.” His wife was able to let go and walk to another room. She’d been through worse with Al.

Instantly Al’s coffee became a big hit. The early morning meeting was running out of chairs and no one brought in any outside cups anymore. The word was spreading as more and more people were coming in to get help. Some only needed a small amount of help, such as fixing their inferior types of coffee by drinking Al’s. Many of the folks that came weren’t even alcoholics either.  They were there for the best coffee in town.

The old-timers from the group started to get angry. When the coffee people raised their hands to share their story there was never anything about drinking alcohol, it was more about coffee drinking The former beer and whiskey drinkers were getting out numbered. When they voiced their objections they were told that the fellowship was not there to judge and categorize others. The old-timers began to attend different meetings that they could relate more to and Al began to modestly charge for his drinks and found someone to print fancy designs on the cups. It was remarkable that everyone said he was a changed man.

At Al’s one year celebration, he stood up in front of a packed house. He told them how he succeeded in the coffee business by attending meetings, asking for help, and getting sponsors. Al’s wife presented him with a silver bean, mounted on a chain for him to wear around his neck. He accepted with gratitude and closed by suggesting, that every morning begins another day and if ever the job of coffee maker opened up, it would improve someone’s life the same way it improved his.

5. Coffee Maker. Written on my one year anniversary and published in trnsfer magazine Issue 5-on the 500th day of being sober. In sobriety it's ok to poke fun at things, as long as you're not taking your recovery for granted. Here I satirized the job of coffee maker in AA and what if the coffee was so damn good, people came to the meetings just for that.  

Thursday, November 2, 2017

200th Dire Literary Series and is it The End?

UPDATE 11/4 December's Dire will happen thanks to The Middle East Restaurant. To see updates, as the series may be changed month to month--- always go to

That's an ominous headline. Is it just click bait? I've known some people that promote that way. You know the gimmick, click-ish, free drink, somewhat of a circus, welcome to me reading series promotion thing.

 Here's one and not to call out this particular series, which I've never heard of, but I did google "reading series drinks" to find it:

 Here they promote laughter, because as people know from dating sites, "we like to laugh", and also they like drinks and jazz. At least poetry is listed first.

Is this really the end to the Dire Literary Series? Say it ain't so, Joe, but my rented home, the Out of the Blue Gallery Too is having financial issues and has to move (but donations are being accepted.)

So here are the possible scenarios:
I have a Dire event on next month December 1, and I'll do my best to find an alternate venue for that one. If the gallery is successful in their move, I'll probably stay with them whenever they are up and running, sometime in 2018 (?). If they are unsuccessful I'll end the Dire, because a new setting would be 1) expensive 2) not guaranteed on a Friday 3) Not guaranteed for anything else for any amount of time (sort of like tenancy at will 4) would probably be a hassle.

So lets enjoy the 200th. It's a great one with
Aaron Tillman
Daniel Hudon
Alexis Paige 

Also it's being held on my birthday but as you read above, I won't use that as a promotional tool--see above but I will let Puddles the Fucking Clown take care of it. It's been one hell of a ride especially if you remember Paul the cop, Murray the tax adjuster, The Match Game feature of Nadine Darling, the Dire BBQ's and the author of S/M.


Does anyone remember the laughter?