Welcome to Issue IV, Volume VIII: March 2017 of Connotation Press: An Online Artifact.
Over here in America, our world is pretty much in complete disarray. It seems ignorant people, finally mobilized through social media, perhaps, have taken over the country—their numbers, now far in excess of the informed due to their multiplying exponentially throughout the country as the feds for years have systematically given up educating them in favor of leaving as many behind as possible. An increasing number of us seem to be missing a time when the intentionally stupid just sat quietly in the corner while the grownups ran things.
On the left, the Democratic party, a dazed, doe-in-headlights, non-starter still clinging to their own idiocracy, prone to putting on a good but empty show, and forever denying that even though they are often supported by the exact same people as the right we should all believe that painful fact has no bearing on their actions, can only be summed up as stupefying, incompetent, and every bit as impotent as the guys in the commercials that run while they watch TV golf on Sunday. But they're coming back. Really. They are. They swear it. And sure, at least they’re not them. Still enjoying that PATRIOT act, are you? Reveling in the glow of decades of a horrendous power-grab free for all for the executive office? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Yes, it’s better on the left, better maybe in the past by not that much, but better by far now. As scary as it is to write it, they are clearly our only hope.
Yep, things here are shit in a shoebox, and they aren’t going to get better anytime soon. And why? In the end it’s pretty simple. It’s because some people are assholes. It’s true. Some people would rather live in rage, and hatred, and misery than love. Some people would rather grab their ankles and bend over for their billionaire overlords than, you know, do the right thing. They are desecrating our land, our people, our traditions. They are absolutely intent on destroying everything that we’ve worked so hard for the past 240 plus years just so their demigods can have all the money, regardless of the fact that soon it won’t be worth anything. You know, assholes. Complete and total assholes. What I’m saying here is these people are the place where feces exits the human body. I’m speaking to you, Mitch, you worm, and your dumbass cronies.
And as for Trump, see if this sounds familiar to you. Many of us who had a real-life abusive step-father know this all too well. They come home from whatever rock they spent their day under and immediately create as much psychological destruction as they possibly can. They do so from all sides, all angles, simultaneously, to instill into everyone else the sense that everything is messed up and no one can possibly do anything right and, more importantly, so that everyone in the house is entirely disoriented. From here on out it’s a mad-scramble to keep not only from getting yourself beaten, but from getting everyone else in the house beaten, too: Your mom, your brothers or sisters, your dog. At this point, everyone goes whole-hog into fixing all the things the abuser has psychotically decided is wrong or, in most cases, that the abuser created themselves. Everyone, but the abuser.
Of course, it’s all to no avail as there never really was anything wrong in the first place and it’s all just part of the show that the abuser uses to justify the launch of the next phase of the evening: physical abuse. At this point, the older kids, maybe even the mom, will most likely throw themselves in front of the abuse, if they are still healthy enough to do so— put themselves between the abuser and the younger victims—telling themselves they are older and can take it better than the young ones can.
After the physical abuse phase of the evening is over, and while everyone is tending to their wounds, the abuser, now drunk usually on either alcohol or power, it really doesn’t matter which, goes from victim to victim petting them and cooing at them and telling them, “See, only I love you. Only I care. Only I can fix all the horrible things in this life that plague you and cause you to have such terrible, disappointing behavior.” Then the abuser proceeds, in a large voice, to take credit for all the greatness that has been bestowed on us lessor ones, while showering themselves with praise for not “sparing the rod.”
And so I ask you, why are we all so entirely concerned with doing what the abuser demands instead of simply removing the individual from the equation? Instead of running around trying to jump through all the flaming hoops placed just out of reach so every time one is jumped through just a little more of our skin is burned off, why don’t we just change the lock on the front door? After all, surgeons don’t do what they can to work with cancer, they excise it. They take a knife and violently cut the cancer from the body then saturate the remaining tissue with enough radiation to almost kill the host.
Today, instead of standing and pointing and screaming at all the abuse, some of us have started getting the operating table, tools, and doctors ready to remove this cancerous disease from our lives. Years ago I taught some of the brightest engineers in the country and they taught me that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. I say we go that way—right to the source.
Until then, as it has always been in times like these, we in the arts will rise up to inform. Art will inevitably rise. It will always, always rise. It has needed neither support nor government approval. Ever. It answers to no one, and knows little of hatred. And if there is a now to someday call then, we will see how our art was used to reflect back from that deep dark truthful mirror exactly for what it is that we are all living and dying.
And with that, let’s kick this pig and see what it’ll do.
This month we're running a slightly truncated issue as health concerns, the recent AWP conference, and saving the free world has us all a bit run down. That’s not to say we don’t have some stunning new work for you. On the contrary, we’re here to rock your world.
Our lovingly curated column, A Poetry Congeries with John Hoppenthaler, delivers so much life-affirming work this month it makes me shiver. We’ve got brilliant new offerings from Mộng-Lan, Stephen Corey,Stephen Corey,Loretta Collins Klobah,Marc Harshman,Deborah Poe,and it’s our special privilege and honor to bring you some of the first online publications of the writing of two-time US Poet Laureate & Pulitzer Prize winner, Ted Kooser. I’m not sure it’s possible to be more in love with this column this month. John delivers a wonderful interview with Mr. Kooser along with four poems, practically perfect in every way. And don’t miss John’s preface this month, too. Well worth the price of admission (you know, FREE!). Welcome to all the new authors and great job, John!
At AWP we at ConPress had a blast finally getting to meet each other in person. Our Book Review Editor, Julia Bouwsma, and I had a wonderful chat and we have some exciting things planned for the future, but for now enjoy her review of Solmaz Sharif’s stunning new debut collection, Look. Julia gives this artist and collection the respect it deserves, and we love her for it.
Our intrepid wine review guy, John Turi, returns this month with a humorous look at the sometimes horrendous, other times, well, pretty much still horrendous wines that come in a cardboard box. Of those he was willing to choke down, John did pick a "favorite": Black Box Cabernet Sauvignon from the good people at, ah who cares. Enjoy!
Okay, that’s it for now. On the 15th our Poetry, Fiction, and Creative Nonfiction columns go live, and we have a Special Featured Artist we know you’ll enjoy who was interviewed by the newest member of the Connotation Press team, Mr. Al Maginnes. Al will be joining us full-time in a couple of months as he helms our new Music column and I could not possibly be happier.
And remember folks, please, PLEASE keep creating art. I know it’s hard these days, but please. The bad ones hate it and the good ones need it. It's as simple as that. Until then, we'll leave a key under the matt for ya. <3
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