Book of Dreams, By Jon Konrath

A Review By Wayne F. Burke

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168 pages, Paragraph Line Books

A smart non-stop fun house ride shot through with a rich hip stratum referencing the cultural zeitgeist of late 20th century Americana. Celebrities and their look-alike’s flit through dream-scapes funny and ghastly. An irrefutable dream-logic gives verisimilitude to the dreams. Less dream-log than work of imaginatively constructed fiction makes moot a psychoanalytical interpretation. The prose unfailingly true to ethereal states of R.E.M. sleep. Whacky unexpected non sequitur’s, absurd yet plausibly skewed irreality: “A cluster of Eastern island-style big head statues, except all the heads are Richard Nixon.” “I’m getting ten teeth drilled by a fat dentist eating a sausage and pepper sandwich…” “She calls the police…The band ‘The Police’ shows up.” The narrator inhabits an eternal present and the driven superficiality that ensues perfectly captures the zeitgeist of pop/schlock culture. The work oddly impersonal as dream-log–few the mentions of family or friends–a notable absence of sex. Libido is subsumed by blatant and joyfully described gustatory feasts, the dreamer a connoisseur of junk food and constantly salivating for the caloric-inducing, plaque-building, aneurysm-causing offerings of chain-restaurant food…Dark hilarity rivals verbal shtik of Sam Kinneson and Bill Hicks. “An NBA riot in Los Angeles halts the filming of THE GOLDEN GIRLS for the Necrophilia Network.” “The job paid in NYC MTA subway slugs.” “In a restaurant…glass display cases on the walls contain an extensive collection of pieces of food that patrons had choked on and then had heimlich’ed out.”  Dr. Benway meets Ferdinand Destouches on nearly every page.


Pushing Away the Hours, By John D. Robinson

A Review By Wayne F. Burke


“Police and ambulance sirens…everyday, everywhere,/just listen”


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I like these poems by John D. Robinson. Poems that give no quarter, expect none. Poems as explosive, in some cases, as sucker-punches. A hard-arsed narrative voice also, but with a tinge of romanticism, and some nostalgia (not much) over loss. Poems in the raw, like life lived on the other side of the tracks. Life and verse unfiltered. Think Camels and Lucky Strikes instead of Marlboro Lights and TRUE (air-o-dynamically engineered). The first handful of poems–from the opening, and great, “A Day Off,” to “The Profit”–roll smoothly down the road, like on the Interstate. The 2nd handful (this a 2-handful chapbook) a rougher ride, due to Robinson’s dependence on the colon. The reading experience analogous to driving through a town that has a STOP sign every corner, a stylistic switcher-roo that changes the pace somewhat, though not the quality of the language, which is excellent throughout.




Varinia Rodriguez

“Kissing Toads”

Hop came the toad
He told me
“You are gorgeous.”

He sang me punk rock lullabies
“Baby, baby, baby
Won’t you be my girl?”

So, I kissed the toad.

He became a punk rock boy.

I stayed a punk rock girl
but punk rock boy wanted more.

so I learned to give up my thighs
before I was ready.
When my gift was too far in between
I was replaced by faster girls
in back seats.

So, I never believed that fairytales were meant for me.


Varinia A. Rodriguez is a Frida Kahlo painting: surreal, divine and unexpected. She is an amalgamation of ten thousand jellyfish all swimming together, forming something that almost resembles a form in its unity, but always changing. Reading Rodriguez’s poetry I’ve never felt like I’m in the same place twice. Her poems feel like déjà vu, familiar but somehow brand new. Her poems feel like ten strangers shoved together inside of a hostel and forced to reconcile their songs of the open road. Her poems feel like getting home from a trip and finding sand in the back pocket of your favorite pair of jeans. Her poems feel like photographs, urgent to grab the small intimacies of a big world. Varinia speaks of trauma, and heartache, and missed connections. She speaks of magic and wanderlust and love. Some of her poems wash over you like a cool wave on a hot day. Some burn on the way down like a shot of rum on an empty stomach. All of her poetry is worth cherishing, and the kind of thing that will catch you in your own holy moments, and having you questioning just where you keep the passion in your life, and how do you manifest your own dreams?” ~Brice Maiurro


Get your copy of “The Jellyfish Dream” at the link below!

Brain Lace, By Karina Bush

A Review By Wayne F. Burke


Brain Lace, by Karina Bush
Publisher: Bareback Press. 46 pgs

The speaker of these poems comes on as machine, technological and teleological. A disembodied voice fiercely feminine, ferocious of appetite (“I am the archer/And the arrow”). A voice of sibylline quality, wise and patient: the voice of conjurer and magician who takes the reader on an eroticized journey that touches, almost incidentally, on archetypal foundations of instinctual nature (symbolized in the verse by horse, spider, and snake).

Poems emerge from an ether, like erotic narcoleptic dreams; like fecund hypnopompic reveries…Karina can tell it “slant,” through use of metaphor and indirection, like an Emily Dickinson, or tell it otherwise–like it is–without allusive language. In the poem “Disease” we get fellatio by any other name; in “Act I,” and elsewhere, the beast with two backs appears; in “Four Faces” cohabitation consists of “Bastard You/Ugly Me/Nice you/Nice me…We throb perverse/The four of us…” Conditions indistinct described in “The Tint” as “Months of/Fuck blur…” More overtly poetic lines–“This hot satin afternoon/Room evaporates into”–mix with less overt: “In my head/Fuck You/Too much…”

Both Eros and eroticism are found here. A powerful collection mesmerizing in its primal energy.