Tuesday, November 29, 2016

On the 99th page of the Oxford English Dictionary

On the 99th page of the OED
Bacchus and his babushka
sit hand in hand with Bacardi's
reveling in Bach’s final
unfinished bacchanalia
Bogie and Bacall
softly play baccarat
in the back ground,
charm flitting like a lit cigarette
between them
flowing down and around lilting
half closed lips
giving the low down
and what’s what
across a
green felt table -
Rastaman whispering
how Baby
Babylon fell
in the black and white haze
of history
long before being
defined by you -
a never finished, never waiting
page turner
always looking
for meaning
in whatever
comes next

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The New Verse News was good enough to publish my poem on their site Tuesday October 21st - 
It occurs to me that when a government builds “walls” to keep out writers and poets with different viewpoints from the ruling elite of a country, the government may be less concerned with the safety of their own citizens than with the suppression of vigorous intellectual discussion and debate.


by Steve LaVigne

“Poetry can be dangerous,” Rumi said, and U.S. Homeland Security isn’t taking any chances. The Jordanian-British poet Amjad Nasser had been invited to speak at New York University this fall, but on Sept. 27, he was questioned for two hours at London’s Heathrow airport and then prevented from flying to the United States. . . . “There are many literary activities that I am invited to and I can not go to because of this is problem, which is incomprehensible to me,” Nasser said. “I do not belong to any political party now, and I am against the use of religion in politics anywhere in the world. I am of those who say that without dialogue between intellectuals and thinkers in the world we can not bridge the gaps, whether real or artificial. This world is small and we have no other and we have to make it a viable place to live.”--Ron Charles, Washington Post, October 10, 2014. Image source: The Poetry Trust

“These are Orwellian times,
and the surveillance state is protecting us
from harmful poetry.” 
--Prof. Sinan Antoon,
who had invited Nasser to NYU.

I am a cowboy
nothing between me and my mustache
but miles and miles of federal BLM land

In the immortal words of my father “when you
don’t even have a pot to piss in” - he always
forgetting to mention who then becomes the pot

I too want to be denied entry into the United States
for my political beliefs
but I have already denied them myself
for all these years finally losing the hope
in hopelessness
the nothing in everyone else’s something
When is a poem not a one man or woman show?
I so want to own rip away velour sweat pants
just waiting for the coach to put me in

Let me start again

I want to be a poet like Amjad Nasser
dearly beloved of translators
invited as keynote speaker at NYU’s Gallatin
Global Writers Series
but denied entry by the Home Land
I want to be The Poet so dangerous
that even the reason I am not allowed to enter
the conversation
is classified
after all these years of dull schooling I
have finally unlearned this thing
taxonomy is the study of the commons
that which we all share in common
divided into hierarchies
it branches up and up but it’s not a tree
like your were taught or even
a burning bush
but a great wooden cross
(see, oh my mother swooning in ecstasy)
someone must be sacrificed
and you thought it would be someone else cowboy?
It is the great ascendancy of statistics
they lied when they said statistics lie - damn lies
an image lies, your emotion lies
your lover lies beneath
your words - when your words create
85 people control as much wealth as the poorest
3, zero zero zero, zero zero zero, zero zero zero billion
the first thing
with just zero point five percent of the richest 1%’s wealth
I want you to know
poverty could be eliminated
I am not
¼ of the jobs in America in some way relate
to making sure the richest
don’t have to share with the rest of us
How do I know god does not exist
If god did exist she would be a catholic nun
kindergarten teacher - her ruler of justice
coming down on the knuckles of those too greedy
few saying “share god damn you, you filthy little cretins”
every       rubric’s    solvable     every
cube is    solvable    rubric’s      cube is
as long as you know there is no such thing
it’s a rubik’s cube - I am such an idiot
for not understanding words or even a few letters
make or unmake worlds
hope in hopelessness
I never thought I would be the one wearing a habit
a god in my own uncomfortable classroom
my grandparents went through the great depression
and I remember thinking what is wrong with them
that haunted look in their eyes - some kind of
PTSD - I remember thinking can’t they just get over it
but now I see that same look in other
people’s eyes - young eyes
my grandparents having died years ago
and the only thing I can really remember
no matter how old or frail they seemed
when they looked at you
when they gave you that look
you did not want to fuck with them

Steve Lavigne runs a local poetry group in Champaign Illinois. It meets weekly to discuss, create and share poetry in order to build community through the power and practice of poetry.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mother - Magpie Tales 242

Mother carved in stone

half buried
                under growth

the flesh of the earth
   searching                  tree roots
shag of fungus lichen 
bearding her
and you wish to know
her name not duties
or titles
no matter how

too soon she lies
with the birth of all species
and all who will follow

damp earth and rot
the days
of her life

the unremarkable sun
her only companion
distant and a reminder
that each day is loss

posted for The Mag - Magpie Tales

"dedicated to the enjoyment of poets and writers, for the purpose of honing their craft, sharing it with like-minded bloggers, and keeping their muses alive and well.


1) Write a poem or short vignette using the picture featured in this post as your inspiration. Feel free to take the image to use for your post.

2) Link back to Magpie Tales from your post.

3) Sign up in the Mr. Linky list, linking directly to your post,AFTER you've posted."

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Bottled Water Comes From the Most Drought-Ridden Places in the Country*

This poem was published by New Verse News on their August 20th 2014 post but it remains as relevant as ever with California's drought continuing and finding water for some cities near emergency status.

Bottled Water Comes From the Most Drought-Ridden Places in the Country*

“Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men for the nastiest of motives will somehow work for the benefit of all.” John Maynard Keynes

“a state
experiencing the third driest
year on record”
“this industry
has very successfully
turned a public resource
into a private enterprise”
“But still,
the question remains:
why Americans across the country
drink bottled water
from drought stricken

my mother’s milk - bless her old teats
up for private speculation and public offering
flaccid wrinkled worn - and still unregulated
best to get them - the definition of insanity
while they’re still hot

the invisible hand of the market that moves
always was
and was not my father’s
open palm of pain directing
the way toward some fictional future goodness
or goddamn quiet
the need in his mind like a thought
too loud to be drowned out only dimmed
by the light of a tv in a darkened room
or the screaming complaints of self-righteous
demanding its their turn to choose

All quotes from the

Brief Bio:
I run a local poetry group in Champaign Illinois - cupoetry.com. We meet weekly to discuss, create and share poetry in order to build community through the power and practice of poetry.


Friday, September 5, 2014

Ferguson Missouri - August 2014

This piece was printed by The New Verse News August 15th 2014 -

Ferguson Missouri - August 2014

Every morning
    the electroejaculated goats
    my wife texts me from work
and on the twitter feeds and facebook posts
    Ferguson Missouri burns -
You don’t think supplying army (military) grade equipment
    to the police was unintentional do you?
That any conflict in the world between police and protest
    looks exactly like this?
That anyone taking pictures, especially reporters, recharging
    their equipment in the local McDonald’s
    wrenched from their seat, their head jammed against
    a cement wall by an ordinary lug saying oops
    before being taken in and arrested 
because they didn’t show their i.d. fast enough
You don’t really still think this is about race or
    race wars like the bigots and racists do, do you?
You don’t think the government had plans for this,
    their contingencies for “growing inequality” Can you say
    pharaohs and slaves, bitches? (No really, in mathematical terms
    you have to look at the modern world’s inequality in those terms
    or even larger)
That we live within a two tiered justice system
    that the effects of climate change have now been brutally calculated
You don’t think they’re worried 
that now the white shit, not just the brown and the black
    is starting to hit the fan
And you don’t think Ferguson Missouri is still
    just a small town in the middle of the country,
    do you?
What? you expect me to say that unless things
    change it’s your hometown next -  
    it’s in your heart -
    it’s the whole damn world - boom?


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Somebody Shut Off the Water in Detroit

Originally published in The New Verse News 

MONDAY, JULY 07, 2014


by Steve LaVigne

Thousands of Detroit residents are facing a reality rarely seen around the Great Lakes: Life without water. But a Canadian group is leading the charge against a controversial plan to stop water service on delinquent accounts. The bankrupt city is shutting off water at a rate of 3,000 residents per week. It also recently increased water rates by nine per cent. Nearly half of the 329,000 accounts are in arrears and the average cost of a Detroit water bill is double the national average. Maude Barlow, chair of the Council of Canadians, flagged Detroit's plan to deal with delinquent accounts to the United Nations earlier this year. The UN calls the plan to shut off water a clear violation of human rights. "I've seen this in the poorest countries in the world," Barlow said. "This is what we call failed states, but to see this in North America, it's a disgrace." --CBC News, July 3, 2014

Somebody shut off the water in Detroit

City of Philip Levine’s brother
waiting in the unemployment line
all who can are leaving now

Somebody blew up America
Amiri said
it’s just happening in slow motion

I want to say in history it was religion
than the state and now corporations
oligopoly trickling down but that just wouldn’t be

Somebody shut off the water in Detroit
and there’s no recourse now
It’s not the man / It’s not the machine no
Somebody blew up America in slow motion
run duck and cover
like the good ol days
when all we had
to fear
not fear not ruskies
just the good old days
when the bomb started ticking

and now the best jobs in Detroit are
scavenging old buildings for copper
wiring to sell to salvage to sell
to chinese dealers the last best
investors in America’s infrastructure

Somebody turned off the water in Detroit
and not just to the 40,000 abandoned homes
and feral packs
of dogs running the streets
all those good ol pooches let loose
and alone
by those who could fleeing/fled/gone from
the rotting

Somebody turned off the water in
DE - TRoiT   mo town blues
Blazing Blurry Bleary cry
foreshadowing they call it
when I want to say morning in america
But they knew it was really sunset
you know (that whole shtick) darkest before
the you know the rest

Can’t we all just agree water is
a basic communal good
Somebody call the U.N.
Somebody’s blowing up America in
slow motion
and hey it’s happening to everyone now
not just the browns the blacks and the reds

The poems referenced in the above poem are:
an eye opening piece on the selling of america’s big cities like detroit and cleveland piece by piece by Vice