Wednesday, September 28, 2016

New Outsider Poetry By Thomas L. Vaultonburg

It's early voting day here in Illinois. It's after midnight and I'm not nearly done with my day. I have yoga left and I'm waiting for the fantasy football waiver wire to come through and then I'll shower and get ready for bed. 

Later today I'll vote for Hillary Clinton. 

Earlier in the week I tried to organize all the poetry I had written since my last book, Submerged Structure, which I finished writing over ten years ago. I had to go through old computers and blogs to track down all the poems, and I'm sure I missed a few, but here are a couple I don't believe I have published anywhere on the internet.

On the Idea of the Perpetual 
Virginity of Mary

How satisfied Mary found herself
In the days and years after the son of
The only male lover she had ever known
Left to work in his real father's company
Having her virginity confirmed over and over
Before softball practice and after knitting sessions
By the respectful but cunning finger of Salome
While Joseph and his flock
Of bastards were out salvaging copper
And tin from the abandoned summer
Homes of the Pharisees.
How Mary trembled and convulsed each
Time her maidenhead was re-established
By Salome's expert fingers, and later in life
Her quick, darting tongue.
Meanwhile Joseph kept up the ruse by bedding
Every loose Jezebel in Nazareth and continuously
Adding to his construction crew of bastards.
They were by all accounts a model family
And fully comfortable knowing they were establishing the
Precedent for conservative family values
-Thomas L. Vaultonburg

Redefining Luxury

I shook my
Money maker
And your momma's
Hearing aid
Fell out

Made In Taiwan

as a poet 
i am a maker
of trinkets
but at night
the Chinese
see me working
under the light
of my green lantern
and pine

I don't know what any of those poems mean. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

An Outsider Poet's Thoughts On the 2016 Fantasy Football Season

The fantasy football season officially starts tomorrow night, but for many Americans the nightmare has been going on for weeks now. I promised myself I wouldn't do any early drafts this year after the Jordy Nelson fiasco last year, but as August got here it just became very difficult to think about anything else. Us outsider poets are funny like that.

Another complicating factor is that fantasy football had been made illegal in 23 states, including the one I live in, so the platform I have been using since I started playing fantasy, CBS Sports, wasn't offering games in my state. In the past I had also used CDM to do a few drafts just for variety, and because I liked their platform, but I chose to do all my drafts on Yahoo this year just so I could have them all in the same place.

I drafted in 12 leagues. or I will have after my final draft of the season tonight. Like most fantasy players, I decided to go wide receiver heavy in the early rounds, and Jordy Nelson was a big part of that push. I wasn't able to get Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham, Jr., Julio Jones, or DeAndre Hopkins at all, but I did upset the apple cart for some in my earliest draft by taking Allen Robinson in the first round, a move so audacious it upset many of the other drafters, even though Robinson is now considered a solid first rounder in most drafts. Lot of Jory Nelson in the second round. Mike Evans, Keenan Allen, Brandon Marshall. followed in a lot of drafts by snapping up Lasean McCoy where I could get him, then back to the wide recivers with players like Jarvis Landry, Golden Tate, Jeremy Maclin, Eric Decker etc then stacking up a few bum running backs like Ryan Mathhews and Rasheed Jennings, though I started to feel really good about Melvin Gordon and Gino Bernard early on. 

In terms of quarterbacks in the half of my drafts that were live drafts I waited. A long time, and took a combination of Kirk Cousins, Matt Stafford, Tyrod Taylor, Andy Dalton, even Osweiller. It remains to be seen if this tactic will be successful, but it allowed me to add Delanie Walker and Zach Ertz in a lot of leagues where I might have taken a Tight End later.

My revelation this year was that auction drafts rock. In fact, after discovering auction drafts I doubt I'll ever do another live draft. Being able to bid on any player at any time allows you to really shape your team exactly the way you want it. For instance, I don't even like drafting in the first two rounds, and in an auction draft I don't have to. I can watch everyone else overspend (in my opinion) for players that aren't twice as good as the players I will eventually pay half as much for. Sure, they're better players, but not twice as good. It's just a blast to wait and have that bankroll when the players that pop your cork come up and no one can take them away from you just because it's their pick.

It remains to be seen if I do better in the live draft or auction leagues, although I suspect I did much better in the auction drafts. It was a fun drafting season, and I'm glad Yahoo was doing drafts, even though their platform is slow as molasses, and I know Sundays will be a nightmare if I have to do last minute changes. Such are the trials of an outsider poet playing fantasy football.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

No Dogs, Drunkards, Or Outsider Poets Allowed

Every year we go to a folk festival over the weekend in August. My partner has been going for over forty years, and her father has been to every one for fifty years. The weekend is kind of his father's day. He arrives first, and usually has the whole campsite set up before any of us get there. Some years it has been freezing, literally, in August, and most years it's unbearably hot, as it was again this year, but we look forward to it every year.

The festival is in the middle of nowhere, and is used to fund a church, so the stage is on church grounds. The campsites are in a cow pasture. And setting up your tent, you have to avoid piles of cow manure. 

A couple of years we never even have gone over to the stage to hear the music. But in the basement of the church they have food, sloppy joes, chili, a stew, all kinds of pies, and milk, so we always manage to get down there. I've seen performers have the mic turned off on them for using profanity, and dogs are not welcome. I figure if dogs and profanity aren't welcome, I probably wouldn't be, either, but for this one weekend I bite my tongue and respect their holy ground.

There aren't any pictures from this year because an older family member got sick and the weekend turned out to be a rather painful ordeal, but the kids still got to do what they do, and Jenny bought a bottle of Rasberry wine. We left as we always do, wondering why we ever do this in the first place, but I'm already looking forward to next year.

In the church they have pictures of some of the prvious performers, including Ravi Shankar and Avery Schreiber. I hear at one time both banks of the stream were packed, and bikers showed up, and it was mayhem, with 10,000 people showing up. Now it's usually 500-1000. Quite a successful small village springs up, and musicians wander around from camp to camp sitting down and playing. 

I just stay silent, because there's a sign and everything that says no dogs, drunkards, or outsider poets allowed. 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Why Don't Outsider Poets Run For Political Office

With today's  new gaffe by Donald Trump stating that Russia will never invade the Ukraine, when Russia has already in fact invaded the Ukraine, the question was raised: if a moron as dishonest, sleezy, and just plain idiotic as Donald Trump can run for President, why can't Outsider Poets run for political office, too? 

Plato famously excluded poets from his utopia because they were too emotional to make rational decisions, but what about prospective politicians just too godamn stupid and dishonest to make rational decisions, like Donald Trump? Are they fit to run for public office according to Plato.

Of course. Because Plato was a moron, too. 

In other news, we watched the first two episodes of Stranger Things last night.

It sucked.

In the first scene some pre-teen boys are playing Dungeons and Dragons in a basement, and the one who is playing Dungeon Master springs the demon prince Demogorgon on the party his three friends are adventuring with. They debate frantically if they should cast a Fireball or a protection spell, which is irrelevant because Demogorgon has 95% magical resistance. Then one of the boys disappears, and is apparently somewhere hiding from a demonic entity similar to Demogorgon. 

I think more poets should have magical resistance, then run for public office. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Difference Between Gibberish and Outsider Poetry

I live in Downtown Rockford, near two homeless shelters and numerous agencies that are here to help the mentally ill, disabled, and disadvantaged, and living right in the center of that I see a steady stream of the disabled and mentally ill pass by all day long. I am one of them. 

When I was at Rockford College I had a professor who was an expert in Schizophrenia. It was her area of specialty, and she spent several years in clinical settings trying to understand it more. 

Where does mental illness and poetry intersect? I wonder this quite often when I see someone who likely has Schizophrenia wandering down the street engaging in an inner monologue that requires no other participants. I sometimes wonder how this state differs from that inner voice that sometimes seems to dictate to the poet what words to write next. Where do those words come from? Can they be turned on and off?

Are those people wandering down the street intoning some form of Outsider Poetry?

I don't know. There are, however, examples of schizophrenic poets like Larry Eigner. One of the founders of the Black Mountain School of poetry, Eigner wrote dozens of books, and was influential in the development of language poetry.

Outsider Poet with Schizophrenia Larry Eigner

But isn't all poetry language poetry?

Hard to say. Hard to say even where language comes from. Is it even a function of the human will, or is it something more automatic like breathing? Researchers probably study language as much as any other psychological phenomenon, but can they tell us definitively where it comes, what processes are involved, and what goes wrong in certain individuals that their ability is altered?


When I took psycholinguistics I learned that several areas in the brain work in concert to perform the phenomenon that we know as perceiving and creating language. I also know from clinical psychology that Schizophrenia is a very complicated disorder in terms of the upwards and downwards regulation of serotonin in a very small area of the brain. Even knowing how and where it is going wrong doesn't solve the problem because the brain's regulation of that neurotransmitter is so fine that any deviation destroys the process. 

Is the disjointed flow of ideas that a schizophrenic experiences similar in any way to the flow of ideas that an inspired poet experiences during the creative process? I often wonder this when I see my neighbors walking in my general orbit and seeming to be battling some demon inside their head. 

It is sad to have to concede that we may never know. This may be one of those problems humanity is never able to solve. It's possible these are people writing a complex poetry in their heads and we are the ones interrupting their symphony with our street noise and bustling and compulsion to get from here to there to do this or that.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Chicken Wings and Outsider Poetry

I just remembered I bought frozen chicken wings earlier at the Dollar Store and this makes me happy. Also, I just took a cupful of Milk of Magnesia for no particular good reason, so tonight should be getting a little more interesting.

I say more interesting because Jenny is in Milwaukee with the kids, and a huge storm was supposed to move into town, but now it's early evening and not much of anything is happening at all. I managed to get some of my errands done, then waited for the storm. But it never came.

Then I really got sick of sitting on the couch and started thinking about the next book from Zombie Logic Press. It will combine elements of outsider and Outlaw poetry. I have no idea what direction it will take us or the Rock River Literary Series in, but I feel excited because uncertainty is what leads us in new directions we hadn't anticipated.

The Blood Dark Sea was a great book of Outlaw Poetry, maybe the best one published in a long time, but this book is going to be something completely different. I envision it combining elements of spoken word, short poetry, and affirmation along with images of this place. 

Here I am eating fried bread in powdered sugar in New Orleans. Why? I don't know. No one is here,

It was while Jenny and I were in New Orleans that I received a message from our next writer that he was ready to start his book. Then he proposed the book I described earlier, which is somewhat what I expected. 

I have been using the Fiery Blast of Will potion I got at a magick shop on Royal Street like cologne lately. I should make the most of this night and update as many blogs as I can, eat those chicken wings, let that Milk of Magnesia kick in, light some candles, and wait for the storm of the century to come and clean this barn out.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Blood Dark Sea Combines Outlaw and Outsider Poetry

Dennis Gulling writes a new kind of Outlaw Poetry. A poetry that combines elements of outlaw and Outsider poetry. Anti-authority, and outside the canons of the academy, but also not willing to adhere to the cliched rules of much outlaw writing, Gulling forges a third path that is unique and original in a genre not known for originality. Here are some poems from Gulling's first full-length book, The Blood Dark Sea, released by Zombie Logic Press in May.


He’d slice
The ears off each victim
And nail them
To the wall
Above his bed
So they could hear
His dreams talk


Her kiss
Was a red knife
In my dreams

            Illustration By Jenny Mathews of Rockford Illustrating


Burton was standing
In front of the tv
Drinking JD
When the bullet came
Through the window
Loretta spun around
When she heard
The bottle hit the floor
He went down
Like a rock
In front of the sofa
Died sitting upright
His useless eyes
Watching a woman on tv
Scream at something unseen
Her lips were moist & red
Her teeth white as bone

                          Tiny Drawing By Jenny Mathews 


The night Thompson’s 3rd wife
Left him she snapped his head
Back with a table lamp
That left two long scars
On his right cheek
They curved around each other
And looked like a pair
Of shiny lavender lips
A ghost mouth that only speaks
To the night according to him
When he’s drunk enough
He’ll put lipstick on it
And call it the kiss of death

Palmer’s wife
Put three bullets in him
But he managed
To walk down the alley
To Delgado’s place
He fell through the screen door
Into the kitchen where
Delgado was stirring something
On the stove
He curled up in a little ball
While Delgado screamed
And went pale
He called 911
And put Palmer’s head in his lap
And held a flask to his lips
Palmer tasted good whiskey
On his tongue
And he could hear sirens in the distance
He smiled a little
And what was left of his life
Leaked away
On the floor

Two days after
Manny Black testified
Against Mike O’Brien
For the Tandino shooting
Somebody unloaded
A shotgun into his guts
While he was walking
To his car behind
The Silver Dollar Pancake House
When Charlene
The night cook
Got to him
He was trying
To push in all the stuff
Coming out between his fingers

     These poems illustrate how deftly pulls off the almost impossible task of observing others without becoming implicated in their scenarios. There is no judgement in these poems. Sure, bad things are happening, but Gulling takes a steady approach to his descriptions, and always delivers a trademark twist of humor at the end. Shit happens, might as well make a poem out of it. The Blood Dark Sea is now available at Rockford poetry publisher Zombie Logic Press. It is part of editor Thomas L. Vaultonburg's Rock River Literary Series, an attempt to publish the best writers in Rockford and give their books a national spotlight. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

National Outsider Poetry Month

At Outsider Poetry Magazine we're declaring April National Outsider Poetry Month. For everyone out there creating art or poetry with a disability, pushing that rock uphill against an entrenched academic community that gives no credit to the mentally ill, or self-trained artists who have to work ten times as hard to get any recognition, credit, or money for their work. We say April is now OUR month. 

We salute editors like Dr. Henry Wolfsburg at The Journal of Outsider Poetry and Olivia Suchs at Outsider Poetry and Thomas L. Vaultonburg at Zombie Logic Review who are so receptive to submissions from the mentally ill, and we encourage editors nationwide to be more inclusive in their editorial policies, not only for the self-taught and disabled, but the LGBT community, the elderly, and outsiders from all walks of life who create in non-traditional ways, mediums, and forms.

We're all just trying to add to the human experience by making art that looks like the world we live in, and if the world I live in doesn't look exactly like the world you live in, then great, you now have a chance to step into a new reality and learn another way of looking at things. 

As culture becomes more tolerant and laws begin to reflect the inclusiveness we all hope will come about in our society I take this opportunity to urge the academic community not to be left behind, not to cling to old way, not to stand in the doorways of their ivory towers and not allow access to the waves and waves of genius creators out there working with restrictions and handicaps they can't even imagine. 

Poetry, music, dance, theater, visual art, sculpture, architecture, can only be improved by looking at old ways of doing things with new eyes. Let everyone create and reap the benefits of being an artist and it will begin to be that everyone in society begins to appreciate the creative process as belonging to us all, not just a few initiated few who keep all the glory, recognition, and money to themselves and pass it around in secretive ways. That leads to mistrust and an overall dislike of the artistic community, and a backlash where people otherwise predisposed to support art to turn against it as something a few are using to mock the many.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Hobbit Hole Watercolor

Hobbit watercolor by Jenny Mathews, one of America's greatest watercolor painters