Tuesday, August 26, 2008


When I woke up this morning, I realized that I would have to write a postscript to the last posting.

What I realized is that Democrats and Republicans have their own versions of corruption. With the Dems you get a much broader spread of corruption...they being the party of the people, the common man/woman. With the Repubs you get a much narrower spread. so what it really boils down to is this: if you want the "spoils" going to a few, then you're gonna want to go with the Republicans. If you want the spoils going to the "masses", then you are gonna want to go with the Democrats. And if you don't like either of those choices there are always lots of "fringe" parties.

However, if you still are unsure, try my original postulate: the whole shooting match is corrupt and only some serious cleansing is going to make it work...perhaps another American Revolution?


Monday, August 25, 2008

Rust Never Sleeps

I rarely ever talk politics because I think it's pointless to argue about and also because I think that the government, from the president down to your local city officials, is totally corrupt and not to be trusted. And, no, I'm not a conspiracy junkie. If politics was an ocean, then over the years we would (hopefully) have noticed that it has gotten progressively more and more polluted. I've seen more and more crap bobbing up and down on the surface of that ocean with each succeeding year. And like it or not, there is very little that can be done about it. Sure, we can collect the junk that washes ashore and send it to a landfill somewhere, but how do we know that it isn't being dumped back into the very ocean that we just pulled it out of? Sadly, we don't.

Tonight I was listening to Ted Kennedy's opening speech for the DNC and saw that "moving" tribute to him and I was moved...but not in the way I was supposed to be (at least I don't think so). I mean sure, we've all heard the "health care speech" many times before. I think it's becoming the go to White Elephant of choice for the Dems. I mean, don't you get a little bit suspicious when the privileged start telling you that they want you to have what they have? Isn't it the nature of the "haves" to keep what they've got away from the "have-nots"? Come on people!

Over the weekend, before this hoopla replaced the Olympic hoopla, I was trying to figure out how much pain I could stand before I'd bite the bullet and go to the emergency room. I believe, tho I have no "scientific" evidence, that what happened to me was a kidney stone -- an extremely painful process for any of you who haven't had the experience (I can't recommend it unless you're freaky that way). Suffice it to say I survived the trial and saved myself from the dishonorable practice of using the ER and then ducking out on the bill (thus contributing to the further breakdown in health care system). Granted, I know that hospital bills are tremendously over-inflated and it would be cheaper to go to Mexico or Canada (if I had a passport), but it's hard to drive when you are doubled over in agony (and how many friends are you on good enough terms with to ask that favor). Maybe I need to make some new friends?

Well, long story short, I've been drinking lots of water and taking over-the-counter pain meds and it looks like I'll be able to go to work tomorrow. Whoopee! But I'll still be thinking about the changes that are creeping over the horizon, be they painted blue or red...

Monday, August 11, 2008

I have two things to mention here. One is the third issue of the Lummox Journal is now online. It contains two interviews with Nila NorthSun and Patricia Wellingham-Jones, two very diverse poets I might add. Also there are two articles on small press publishing, sort of a past & future look at what is going on; Passion & Danger by Christopher Harter (detailing the Mimeograph and it's place in early small press activities) and Amazon and the POD Wars by W.J. Higginson and Raindog. There are two reviews by John Yamrus and RD of Todd Moore's RELENTLESS and TELL THE CORPSE A STORY & Nila NorthSun's LOVE AT GUNPOINT. A batch of poetry from the likes of Lyn lifshin, A. D. Winans, Marie Lecrivain, Scott Wannberg and others; and a new feature...a "cooking" section of all things, has Athens, GA poet and Chef H. Lamar Thomas grilling up some mouth-watering burger recipes, Southern style! Check it out by going to www.lummoxpress.com and clicking on the LJ 3 picture.

The second is that El Pagano and Other Twisted tales is out and available from www.lummoxpress.com or at Amazon.com. Order direct if you want a signed copy . It's just $17.99 plus $3 postage from Lummox. Go to the website for more info and an excerpt from one of the stories. As you can see by the cover (painted by Tareq Swenson), the book probably contains some strange stories (and it does!).


Sunday, July 20, 2008

First of Four New Books by RD Armstrong

Fire and Rain is a large collection of poems (184 in just 158 pages)(my first) that spans the years from 1993 to 1998. The second volume of this book will cover the remaining years (1999 to 2007) and will be published later this year.

You can hear me read excerpts from this book by going to You Tube and typing "RD Armstrong" into the search window. If you like what you hear, you can go to the Lummox Press website and order a signed copy. Just go to www.lummoxpress.com and click on the book cover (all the info plus some samples are available inside).

Here's what B. L. Kennedy (reviewed in the Rattlesnake Review out of Sacramento, CA) had to say about this collection:

"This is a handsome collection of poetry by one of California’s most prolific writers of poetry. Having known RD Armstrong mainly through e-mail, it wasn’t until a few months ago at Luna’s CafĂ© that I had the opportunity to actually meet the poet.

Upon dipping into Fire and Rain, I could not help but take note of the quality of this collection: the quality of the poems and the clear writing style that the reader is offered with this book. Armstrong is ever the social critic, and the 185 poems included in this manuscript are a testament to his original vision. Working from the sweat of life, Armstrong is a talent that plants itself in your mind with his rough-and-ready voice of delicate lyric and refined narrative. He is a poet who does not creep from behind but is full-frontal in his twist of a line and his blue-collar sensibilities. To not recommend the work of RD Armstrong to new readers would be sinful and sad, because here is a poet with a voice that will challenge even the most hard-ass critics of poetry.

So don’t be afraid to purchase a copy of Fire and Rain: Selected Poems 1993-2007 and explore the words of this well-grounded writer."

B. L. Kennedy

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Seasonal Poem

Things I Notice #4

Jacaranda’s lilac blush
sultry under a gray
watercolor sky

Four crows in a line
one riding shotgun
cut diagonally through
the late-morning air

In the oil field wasteland
marsh grass bows
away from sheets of rain
a crane contemplates
its wrinkled reflection

Standing in line
on a rainy Saturday
later afternoon blues drifts
in with wind’s eastbound rush
fickle storm blunders
through town

The light
flickers in and out
stucco and glass shield me
a wild heart calls
the world turns
as if to look

it’s spring
and the search
for love

RD Armstrong

This poem is from my new book, Fire and Rain Selected Poems 1993-2007 Vol. 1. It's available from my website: www.lummoxpress.com

Saturday, May 3, 2008

From the Vault - Dec. 2000

America is obsessed with Sex & Violence...that explains the hoopla over Bush & Gore...

I feel I must apologize to you, dear reader. In the past few months, in this column, I have burdened you with, what I can only call, my ‘burn-out’. You’ve witnessed my struggles to make some sense of all this: what it means to be a quasi-successful editor & publisher, while, at the same time, sacrificing my own talents (?) as a poet/writer. I had thought that since the focus of Lummox is on the creative process, it was proper to share with you my own creative struggles. But I was mistaken. I say this, not because it was wrong to share my “process” with you, but to share it selectively. Here’s how I came to this realization.

I was writing a letter of thanks to Len Fulton, editor of Small Press Review, for a recent front page review of The Wren Notebook. During the course of this letter I began to “crow” about my many accomplishments in recent months vis-a-vis the Lummox empire. It occurred to me that I had been keeping my great sense of pride to myself and focusing almost exclusively on the increasing pressures that accompany accomplishment. I needed to brag (as unseemly as that might be) to someone.

Anglo-Saxon society raises us to be humble. Our worth is determined by our status on the job, in our marital situation, by our possessions. You know the drill: 2.5 kids, a wife, a house, 2 cars (late model of course!), an HMO, IRA, a stock portfolio, a Palm Pilot, a G4, etc. These are the elements of the American Dream, right? But what if you aren’t in this “mainstream”? What determines your worth then? For me, the accomplishments must be greater than my two jalopies or my cluttered apartment or my string of failed romances. Currently, my accomplishments are in the realm of publishing other people (I like to think “the best”), my own work as a poet / writer, and in just making it in this topsy-turvy world without the usual means of support...working without a net, if you will. This last item is no small feat, especially in Los Angeles, CA where so much of who you are is based on where you are in the economic strata.

Many artists and/or poets present themselves as impoverished when, in reality, they are not. The safety of family ties, pensions or governmental (and I should stress the mental part) support allows these individuals the opportunity to create in a relatively relaxed environment. Few are self-sufficient. Don’t get me wrong, there may be glory in self-sufficiency, but there is no sanctity in it. The self-sufficient go, largely, unnoticed through this world. It’s the victims that get the headlines and airtime. I think this is perhaps the reason I have focussed primarily on my shortcomings. How much support can you get when you start from; “hey look at me, I’m self-reliant.” It’s always the pathetic bastards who play the victim, who get the sympathy vote. Look at our new president. What hope do we have when the commander-in-chief is such a sorry mo-fo? (One bright spot though, maybe the rest of the ‘free’ world will stop expecting us to clean up their messes now).

Over the past year, I’ve produced a number of books which I’m really proud of. The first one, Rick Smith’s The Wren Notebook, is most obvious because it represents a giant leap forward from Dufus! – that sad first attempt of two years ago. Wren is, as Gerry Locklin wrote, “first-class in all respects.” A lot of the credit for this goes to Ann Lee of S’Pacific Image (San Pedro, CA). She was the ‘ramrod’ on this job, making sure that it was done right. It was a lengthy project that brought together many creative talents: the great poems by Rick; the wonderful drawings of Judith Bever; and the patience and forbearance of the editor.

But there are other books, that I’m equally proud of, particularly because I believe that I created a vehicle that carried the POEM forward with honor. The layout, illustrations and design were all done “in house”. Todd Moore’s The Corpse is Dreaming (LRB 20) and the split book he did with Mark Weber, Bombed in New Mexico (LRB 26) are good examples of this, as well as Scott Wannberg’s Nomads of Oblivion (LRB 25). I just got plain lucky with Gerry Locklin’s book (LRB 18), primarily when the title poem was read on NPR back in August. Of course, I’m also real pleased with Paper Heart Volume 3 (my collection of love poems – LRB 22) and my most recent LRB (27), On/Off the Beaten Path, which has gotten some really good ink. This hasn’t translated itself into significant sales, but that’s another issue.

Scott’s book is going to be the runaway hit this year. It went into a second printing after only two months. You can’t knock that kind of action. But, again, that’s another issue. I stress this because I want to keep separate the issues of pride for a job well done and the financial rewards for a job well done. I see them as being two sides of a coin, separate and very distinct.

What’s the big deal, you ask? Again, we come back to the definition of success, a la the American Dream. If success is based on cash flow and the accumulation of ‘things’, then this hasn’t been too successful...in fact my whole life could be dismissed, using this measurement. If, however, success is measured by knowing that “you done good” then Lummox is moving up the ladder, slowly but surely. Doggedly. Appropriate don’t you think?


Friday, May 2, 2008


I used to publish a small zine (1995 - 2006) called The Lummox Journal. For most of its years it was a monthly affair, which proved to be a daunting task. It wasn't for lack of material, because after the first year or so, I began to receive a lot of submissions. It was mostly poetry and mostly bad, but I was able to glean some gems from the debris, enough for each issue. Over time I also began to receive essays and reviews from my readers. So really, the only thing I had to do was arrange the text and write the lead essay, a sort of "from the Editor's desk" article. This is where the title of this Blog comes from.

For over one hundred issues I wrote "The View From Down Here". I don't think I ever repeated myself, though I did borrow from past themes from time to time. Sometimes the essay was political, sometimes it was personal. I had free reign over what I wrote about (it was my magazine after all) and although I tried very hard not to go overboard, occasionally I did. Then I had to deal with the consequences. It was an interesting learning curve. Eventually, though, the deadlines and the constant need to create an interesting issue began to take a toll on me and I knew I had to take a break. So at the end of 2006 I ceased publication.

This year I put up an issue on my website because I missed the process. At first, in 2007, it felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders and I didn't miss the whole anal business of meeting deadlines and promoting the Journal at every opportunity. But slowly it began to creep into my thoughts and I realized that I missed doing it.

So what I'd like to do here, is resurrect some of the old essays from back in the day. Hopefully they'll reach a wider audience than the 175 or so subscribers I had back then. I'll probably write some new material too, once I get my "sea legs".