The Ice Cream Soda Float Challenge, Round Five

The Ice Cream Soda Float Challenge, Round Five

After exploring the various flavors of Cola, Cherry, Pepper, and Cream sodas paired with vanilla ice cream, we have arrived at the largest and most diverse round of them all, what we’re going to call the Fruit Round. Now not all the sodas here are technically fruit flavored. For example, Big Red is technically a red cream soda, but we are not going to explore a round of that specific type, and it didn’t really fit the regular cream soda round either, so here it goes, alongside the other bright rainbow-esque colors and flavors of the fruit sodas. Our possibilities were almost endless here, but we settled on eight and only eight, partially so our hearts don’t stop beating from diabetic shock.

The sodas include Big Red, Stewart’s Key Lime Pie, Grape Nehi, Orange Nehi, Flathead Lake’s Huckleberry, Coke’s California Raspberry, Coke’s Georgia Peach, and Swamp Pop, a strawberry flavored soda popular in Louisiana.

Yeah, that’s a lot of fruit soda…

(Cover Image: “Root Beer Float” by Sharon Drummond.)

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Ranked: Every Album by The Cars

Ranked: Every Album by The Cars

The Cars have been one of my favorite bands since around the time I transitioned from middle school to high school, which was the mid-90s, perhaps an odd time to become a fan of 80s New Wave. Nevertheless, I would listen to them obsessively on my Walkman cassette player and later on my Discman—so super cool, I know! Or rad! Or whatever we were saying back then. Anyway, after Ric Ocasek’s unfortunate passing this September, I revisited those Cars albums and decided to rank them in order of my personal favorites, because I’ve already done the same with so many other favorite bands, including my favorite of all time, Tom Petty, so why not The Cars? With that said, let’s go!

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New Poem in San Pedro River Review

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My poem “A Sunday Like This” now appears in San Pedro River Review’s latest issue, alongside the poetry of such writers as John Dorsey, Ann Howells, Kevin Ridgeway, Ken Meisel, Megan Merchant, Justin Hamm, and Mela Blust, among many, many others. This particular poem is one from a series of semi-apocalyptic poems I’m putting together for a small collection I’m hoping to shop around next year, and I’m glad this early piece found a home. San Pedro River Review is one of my favorite publications of all time run by the incredible Jeff and Tobi Alfier, and I haven’t taken a shot at submitting with them in a while, so I’m doubly honored to appear there once again. Thanks for reading and for your support!

New Essay in Blue Mountain Review

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My essay “Giving Stray Poems a New Home” now appears in the Blue Mountain Review Issue 15, which includes poetry, fiction, essays, and interviews with such writers and artists as Tim Suermondt, Laura Page, Hope Jordan, Ashley Hamilton, Ellen Malphrus, Tim Gavin, and many others. The essay appears on page 68 and details how poets can compile older pieces that don’t have a home, pieces that may seem disparate at first, but putting them together, you may be able to find an unforeseen theme, and then refine them with fresh pieces to create something new, something I did to create my last poetry collection, Feral Kingdom (available from Kung Fu Treachery Press). My deepest thanks to the editors for letting me include the essay. I hope you enjoy!

"Feast" now appears at Winedrunk Sidewalk

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My poem “Feast” recently appeared in the online journal Winedrunk Sidewalk, a blog that posts poetry, photos, and artwork about life under the 45th president. Not all of it is about 45; most focuses on the world and society in general over the last few years. They’ve published a few of my pieces in the past and this is a newer one that I’m including in a chapbook I’m putting together, which I’ll be shopping around soon. Thanks for reading, and be sure to send them your own work about your experiences of being “shipwrecked in Trumpland,” as Winedrunk editor John Grochalski puts it.

The Ice Cream Soda Float Challenge, Round Four

The Ice Cream Soda Float Challenge, Round Four

We now have results from four rounds of ice cream soda float taste tests, with the Cola Round, the Cream Soda Round, the “Pepper” Round, and now the Cherry Round complete. I’m pretty confident that I can speak for both scientists involved when I say this has been the most delicious round yet, a round that included: Cherry Coke, Boyland Black Cherry, Virgil’s Black Cherry Cream, Stewart’s Cherries ‘n Cream, and Cherrwine.

(Cover Image: “Root Beer Float” by Sharon Drummond.)

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The Ice Cream Soda Float Challenge, Round Three

The Ice Cream Soda Float Challenge, Round Three

With the results from the Cola Round and the Cream Soda Round now tallied, we move on to the Pepper Round. Now this name might not quite fit since a couple of these sodas aren’t in the same exact vein as Dr. Pepper, but they share some traits and fall into that pepper/medicinal/spiced soda realm in one way or another. And we had to cluster at least four sodas together somehow, so this is what we ended up with: Dr. Pepper, Pibb Xtra, Maine Root Sarsaparilla, and Moxie.

(Cover Image: “Root Beer Float” by Sharon Drummond.)

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Feral Kingdom is Now Available

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My latest collection of poetry, Feral Kingdom, is now available from Kung Fu Treachery Press, and you can find copies at either Barnes & Noble or at Amazon. A small number of signed copies will be available at future readings and free reviewer PDFs are always an email away, just ask! The collection features poems about that wild and lonely landscape between old lives that have fallen away and the new ones we have yet to find, a place of raw nerves and awkward nights, of bars drenched in neon and highways promising something better. There’s a feral kingdom out there, and all of us have to walk through it, live it, survive it, one way or another. For samples of the kind of poetry you’ll find within, check out “Spiders at Night” from Up The River, “West Texas Skyway” from Punch Drunk Press, or “My Ex’s Father” from Foliate Oak Literary Magazine. My deepest thanks to Kung Fu Treachery Press and to all of you for your support!

The Ice Cream Soda Float Challenge, Round Two

The Ice Cream Soda Float Challenge, Round Two

And now that we know the results of the Cola Round, we move on to another flavor altogether: cream soda. I have never had a cream soda float despite having a soft spot for root beer’s golden-pale cousin, so I was pretty excited to begin. Before I introduce the flavors we picked for this round, let me give you a quick recap of how we’re doing this challenge.

(Cover Image: “Root Beer Float” by Sharon Drummond.)

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The Ice Cream Soda Float Challenge: Round One

The Ice Cream Soda Float Challenge: Round One

Summer is coming…and I dream of cold drinks and icy desserts on the front stoop, in the back yard, at patio bars, and roadside ice cream stands. I have designs on a boozy hollowed-out pineapple cocktail complete with little umbrellas and twisting straws, and of course one of my childhood favorites, the root beer float. Or maybe a Coke float. Or a Big Red float. I’ve even had a Purple Cow, but how would that grape soda float hold up against one made with Dr. Pepper?

And thus came the idea for an ice cream soda float challenge: 25 flavors, one brand of ice cream, and eight nights of carbonated sugar highs that will not only threaten our bodies with immediate Type A through Z diabetes but also determine the greatest dessert-beverage question of them all: what soda is the best for an ice cream float?

(Image: “Root Beer Float” by Sharon Drummond.)

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New Column in The Blue Mountain Review

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Issue 14 of The Blue Mountain Review is now posted online and it looks pretty amazing. The new issue includes work and words by Jericho Brown, Robert Pinsky, Melissa Studdard, Elizabeth Beck, Meagan Lucas, Lane Young, and a whole swath of other writers. There’s also a bunch of interviews, art, and essays, including one by me called “Everyone Has a Story to Tell,” in which I thumb back through the years to the time I was talking to a bunch of construction workers about writing and where stories come from while we drank happy hour beer in Jimmy’s Corner in NYC. They didn’t think much of my ideas, except one guy, and I hope that guy eventually told his own story, somehow. My thanks to the editors and Clifford Brooks as always for including my little piece. If you want to take a look you’ll find it on page 100. Thanks for reading!

New Poetry Collection, Feral Kingdom, Coming Soon

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My latest collection of poetry, Feral Kingdom, is coming soon from Kung Fu Treachery Press. The collection features poems abandoned and cut loose, crawling through the holes in the back fence, running beyond the town line, and disappearing down sprawling country roads into a world unknown. Between the lives we lead, the loves and jobs and homes we claim, there is a place of raw nerves and lonely nights, of bars drenched in neon and highways promising something better. There’s a feral kingdom out there, and all of us have to walk through it, live it, survive it, one way or another.

More details are on the way, including an exact release date and information about reviewer copies and PDFs. For samples of the kind of poetry you’ll find within, feel free to check out “Spiders at Night” from Up The River, “West Texas Skyway” from Punch Drunk Press, or “My Ex’s Father” from Foliate Oak Literary Magazine. But the collection will mostly feature unpublished poetry, and readings and signings will follow upon its release. Thanks for all of your support!

New Poem in Foliate Oak Literary Magazine

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My poem “My Ex’s Father” now appears in the April 2019 edition of Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, an online journal published by University of Arkansas-Monticello. It’s an older poem that I recently unburied and revised, and to me the poem speaks to the idea that when we break up with someone, the greatest loss isn't always that person, but the others we no longer get to call a part of our circle. My Ex’s Father” will also appear in my upcoming poetry collection titled Feral Kingdom (from Kung Fu Treachery Press, date TBD) alongside other similar pieces, and I will post more details as soon as the book is available. Thanks for taking a look, and I appreciate all of your support over the years.  

New Poem Posted in Trailer Park Quarterly, Volume 9

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My poem “an unordered list of things that remain” is now up in Trailer Park Quarterly, Volume 9, a magazine I’m very fortunate to have appeared in before now and I’m extremely honored to be in there again. The issue features a bunch of other writers I respect, such as John Dorsey, Tobi Alfier, Kevin Ridgeway, Jason Ryberg, Wendy Rainey, and many others. This particular poem is about the passing of our family dog, Rocky, and it means a lot to me. I hope you enjoy it.

New Column in The Blue Mountain Review

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It had been a while since I submitted anything to The Blue Mountain Review, and when editor Clifford Brooks asked if I had anything up my sleeve that he could include, I was going through the process of prepping my handful of novels for the arduous lit agent submission process, which involves not just researching literary agencies but also competitive titles already on the market. I decided to write about that in my latest column over at BMR (on page 102). Not so much how researching other titles at Barnes & Noble can help you decide what to write, but how it might help you decide how to go about writing the story you want to write, how you can position it, and hopefully, fingers crossed, sell it. Now I’m no pro at the latter, since I’m still trying to hook an agent myself, but you never know what little hint we might pick up from one another that might get us closer to our goal, right? Anyway, I hope you enjoy the piece, and there are plenty of other excellent essays, stories, poetry, and more in the new issue to keep you otherwise occupied. Thanks to Cliff and the editors for creating another spiffy issue!

Coming Soon: Hobo Camp Review 10 Year Anniversary Anthology

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I started Hobo Camp Review in 2009 thinking it would be a fun little project that might last a few years at most, a journal where I’d invite poets to a quiet little campfire in the remote corner of the internet to sit a spell, share some road stories, some dreams, some wonderments, little pieces of their own twisting narratives before heading back into the wilds of the universe. I imagined Steinbeck and McCullers, Plath and Kerouac, Li Po and Tom Waits all sitting around eating beans from a can while a train cried out in the far distance, and lo and behold, ten years passed at that fire.

So to celebrate all the wonderful poems and stories that passed through that literary hideaway, I’m creating a print edition of Hobo Camp Review that features a few of my favorite pieces from each issue we released between 2009 and 2019. Most of the selections in that span were mine, but I’d be a damn fool if I didn’t thank the wonderful Rachel Nix for her support and contributions over the last couple years, and also David M Morton for his writings and brainstorming sessions during his time by the fire before wandering off into the wild blue yonder. Here’s a toast to both of you, and to all who submitted work to us over the years.

The issue will come out in early 2019 (date TBD) as a print book (and possible digital version). All proceeds will go to The Food Pantries for the Capital District, a coalition of 50+ food pantries throughout my hometown of Albany and surrounding counties. So if you buy a copy (and I’ll make them as cheap as I can), you’ll be helping someone put hot food on their table, a yearning dream shared by every hobo traversing alongside the railroad tracks on a sunny afternoon while looking for work, rest, and a little home-cooked meal. 

So who’s going to appear in the issue? I rummaged through our archives and picked poems and stories that still resonated with me and spurred a little of the eager-to-ramble magic, but just because your work didn’t appear here doesn’t mean it’s not worthy. If you made the cut at one point, you’re in the hobo family for good, but these are the ones that I felt wove the ten-year story I wanted to tell in this anthology. Thank you all.

The issue will include work by (alpha by first name!) and we might have readings planned later in 2019, so stay tuned:

Adam Perkins, Ally Malinenko, Amy Blair, Ann Howells, Anney E.J. Ryan, April Michelle Bratten, Bud Smith, Charles Clifford Brooks III, Charles O'Hay, Corey Mesler, David M Morton, Dena Rash Guzman, Destini Vaile, Don Thompson, Doug Draime, Edward Ferri, Jr., Faith Mingus, Frank Reardon, Glen Armstrong, Gloria Keeley, Hasan Jamal, Hillary Leftwich, Holly Day, Holly Holt, J.C.D. Kerwin, Jack Henry, James H Duncan, James Murdock, Jason Ryberg, Jeffrey Alfier, Jessica Dawson, Jessica Mehta, John Tustin, Joseph Jengehino, Josh Fernandez, Joshua Ryan Wood, Kami, Kate Garrett, Kathleen Sparks, Kathryn Staublin, Kevin Ridgeway, Knar Gavin, L.L. Jacobson, Lark Beltran, Lee Ann Pingle, Lili-Leader Williams, Maria Pascauly, Mary Shanley, Mathew Borczon, Mikey Sivak, Orooj-E-Zafar, Peycho Kanev, Puma Perl, R.M. Engelhardt, Rachel Nix, Raina Masters, Rebecca Kokitus, Rebecca Schumejda, Rhiannon Thorne, Rob Plath, Rogan Kelly, Sam Slaughter, Sarah Warren, Scot Young, Scott Blackwell, Seth Murray, Shahé Mankerian, Sheikha A., Siham Karami, Stan Galloway, Suzanne Allen, Taylor Copeland, Tempest Brew, Tobi Alfier, Tom Montag, Valentina Cano, Vivian Demuth, Wanda Marrow Clevenger, Wilna Panagos, Yossarian Hunter

Ranked: Every Replacements Album

Ranked: Every Replacements Album

Okay, we need to get one thing straight right away: there’s no chance in hell I can rank these albums from least to best because I love them all in different ways and their two best albums really are so neck-and-neck that a photo finish result would be useless to determine the all-time champ. Instead, these are ranked in order of which Replacements albums mean the most to me, or which ones I go back to more than the others. In that way, I was able to slightly differentiate these into a more cohesive and organized list. Again, I love each dearly, so I present these with all the sincerity I can muster. Let me know which one is your own favorite!

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"Widow's Watch" now appears at Lonesome October Lit

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My short story, “Widow’s Watch,” now appears at one of my all-time favorite online journals, Lonesome October Lit. I’m honored that they chose my story to cap their 2018 run of fantastic eerie tales and poetry, and I assure you that a deep read through their archives will not disappoint fans of the macabre and the spooky. This story of mine, which involves a trek through a forest to an abandoned seaside estate where things are not as they seem to be and escape may not be as easy as one hopes, also appears in my latest collection of flash fiction stories, Nights Without Rain, which you can find at Amazon or order direct through me. Thank you very much for all of your support in 2018, and I hope you enjoy this spooky story!


The RED Bookshelf: Free Books for Kids!

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I recently had an amazing experience volunteering at a local organization in Albany, NY that provides free books to children all over town. The RED Bookshelf not only sets up special red bookshelves at events throughout the year, allowing kids to rifle through gently read or brand new books to take home and keep as many as they’d like, but they also have permanent shelves set up all over town, in libraries, doctor offices, and in areas where kids might have have easy access to books, be it for geographic, financial, or other reasons. The RED Bookshelf accepts new or used books of good quality, and those are cleaned, organized, labeled, and distributed by a dedicated team of people eager to get books into the hands of kids, because a child that reads is far more prepared for the challenges that lie ahead in adolescence and adulthood. A reader is a thinker and we all know how much we need that in today’s world! If you’re interested in helping these great people get books into the hands and homes of children in need, you can check out their website and look for them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. I loved spending some time with them and they will gladly accept any quality books, financial donations, or your personal time to help spread the joy of reading. Check them out!

New Interview with NY Writer's Com.pen.dium

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I recently had the pleasure of having a great phone chat with Jeff Doherty, one of the young writers over at NY Writer’s Com.pen.dium, a growing literary website highlighting events, writers, workshops, and publications in Upstate New York and beyond. Jeff threw some excellent questions my way about my writing inspirations, how writing evolves over time, how technology can help or hinder a writer, and also about my latest collection of short stories, Nights Without Rain. Our interview, titled “From Mysterious Figure to Mysterious Author,” is now posted at their website, and I hope you’ll take a look at their other interviews, write-ups, features, and literary event listings. My thanks to the editors and Jeff for reaching out! Enjoy!