Jack Kerouac’s 100th Birthday (and product placement)

“[…]the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!””

Happy 💯 Jack Kerouac!
Photo courtesy of Tom Hickey

Review of Grimoire from poet, Kathryn Fazio

     Grimoire is an extraordinary book of poetry. On the copper skin textured cover hangs two spiders. The spider has long symbolized patience and persistence. Read this book, cover to cover and you will appreciate the author’s journey. Ancient Celtic people created symbols to represent important aspects of their lives, including spirituality. I do not know much about the symbols on this book or if they are Celtic, but two beautiful images quietly adorn the cover. Every health professional, every aspiring poet should own a copy. Examine the truth, beauty, and ugly of what makes a poem magnificent, relevant and universal.

     Jacob R.Moses, “poetic incantations toward self-discovery”, reminds me of an invisible gift a university professor once gave me: to write great poetry you must know more than the rose, he said, you must know “the barbed-wire cock of the devil.” Moses doesn’t hide his challenges but uses his knowledge of himself and the world as tools to take back his authentic self and become a model for others in recovery. In his words, “To be bipolar/in a scattered world/is to be a compass/Demagnetized/and without a clear direction/out of melancholy.

     In essence, “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”and no matter what he calls himself, Jacob R. Moses is the real deal, a poet of the highest caliber. He possesses a wide spectrum of vocabulary and uses words like paint or music to compose a mood with meaning. Moods of which he admits, he has many. The author employs lines like,”resentment laced with poetry.” One of my favorite words he uses is, “cockamamie” or a phrase constructed in “Love Poem to Amelie Poulain”. He observes her with admiration: “cracked your creme brulee/and enjoyed its simplicity“. 

     Like gravity, he asserts permanent laws in a mist of ever changing forms in time. Solid, then liquid, then gas are images that permeate the pages; forms changing forms, faithful to science and ancestry. The book is different, and looks different. Titles are on the bottom. I needed to look up, Grimoire, as I had no frame of reference. It makes no difference your educational level, or the letters after your name, you may have to stretch yourself to the dusty bookshelf where a physical dictionary lies dormant. This poet will educate and inform. He calls all those sleepwalking through the day, dragging a morphine drip, to wake up to oneself; there is ancestry, stars in the sky and stories to tell.

     Jacob demonstrates a knowledge of many subjects, music, science, herbology, biology, architecture, psychology, spirituality, mysticism, numerology, to name a few, and magick. He has graduated with hard knocks and knows recovery and rehabilitation. He has a reverence for nature, animals, gem stones, the solid, beauty of amethyst; and like my poetry teacher, the visionary, poet and translator, Robert Bly, Jacob has a positive value of the number 13. He has a keen observation and has a sense of humor. In his poem, 13th Floor, he writes: The Empire State Building/does not have a 13th floor/and those who defend this/have no ground to stand on.”

     The author’s word choice/phrase combinations weave a colorful quilt to express his understanding of the world, his predicament, and reveals a search for meaning and identity. He expresses how obstacles of social placement and isolation can blur a person’s true nature. Moses takes responsibility for the choices he made in life which did not serve him. He writes about forgiveness The “rhymes he spits has many germs.” (pg.43). He knows, “shit hits the fan.” He puts common words in powerful unusual phases, “octets piss on symphonies”. He metabolizes his pain into radiant sheets of poetry, using rare, true and effective language. His poems are beautiful not ugly, although his journey full of smothering smoke. In reading his work, I am reminded of Tupac Shakur and his poem, “ The Rose That Grew From Concrete” and I hear, buzzing in my ear the incantations, the strong affirmations of Anthony Robbins and in my mind’s eye see the peppered butterfly that hugged the bark of trees and survived the industrial revolution. 13 Thank Yous, Jacob R. Moses, for your volcanic energy, for your heart and drum. Peers in recovery will benefit from your bravery.

Kathryn M. Fazio

Former Poet Laureate, The College of Staten Island

U.S.A. Representative Poet at the Fifth World Congress of Poets

Winner of the Silla Gold Crown World Peace Literature Prize

A Former Poetry Judge at Uptown Jimmy’s

Development Consultant/Network Specialist, Baltic Street Into Action

Another recommendation from my advisor (“Yet Another Pink Floyd Poem”)

Hi Jack! 

I hope you are doing well! I wanted to reach out as I was able to do some reading over the last couple of days. While I am pretty immersed in my current novel of choice (Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, check out One Hundred Years of Solitude by him if you want to check out, what is probably my favorite novel), I happened to read a few of your poems! One that stuck out to me was “Yet Another Pink Floyd Poem”. I want to tell you a couple of reasons why I enjoyed this! 

1.) I love music and I love Pink Floyd. I love reading and I spend a lot of time reading these days, but music has always been my first love. My parents were never huge music fans, we didn’t have music playing in the house all the time growing up or instruments laying around. So music was always something that I had for myself and I have spent a lot of time searching out for music that struck me that wasn’t just playing on pop radio. Pink Floyd was always a band that I felt a connection to as not only is their music spiritual and inviting, but their lyrics are also begging to be discovered and dissected. Their music always seems like there was something below the surface and if you pressed your ear close enough, you just might find it. I love that. 

2.) Soooooo, when I started to read your poem, I thought to myself, there is something here! What is it? I then started to notice that each stanza represented a song on Dark Side of the Moon. It was a very “Pink Floyd” type of thing to do. It really made me smile because not only is the poem beautiful and representative of the struggles we face in our daily lives as we navigate this crazy world, but there was something else there under the surface that invites you into their lore and connectivity. I really appreciated that. 

I had this on my mind and wanted to send it off to you before I forgot. I hope things are going well! 

Best,
Colin

———

Paraphrasing my Academic Advisor’s Review of Grimoire

Photo by Katie Rainbow ud83cudff3ufe0fu200dud83cudf08 on Pexels.com

If you are just getting to know me and my craft, it is important to note that I am currently a graduate student at Southern New Hampshire University. I am pursuing a Masters in English and Creative Writing with a concentration in Poetry. My academic advisor, Colin McGahan, gave me input on his favorite poems from Grimoire…so far. I just got off the phone with him and he offered the following feedback. These are poems which stood out to him and I will paraphrase what he told me.

Landmark of Light

Colin told me that this struck a chord with him based on him knowing my backstory as a poet. I started writing poetry a year and a day after 9/11. This poem was written about the 20th anniversary of said tragedy and how I was riding home on the Staten Island Ferry on 9/11/2019 as the lights representing the Twin Towers were glowing. Given that he knows I’m a New Yorker and got to know my backstory, this poem may not have hit him the same if he didn’t know me from Adam. I’m glad that he mentioned this particular one, as it is a sentimental favorite.

VISION QUEST

This poem stood out to Colin because it reminded him of his wife’s grandfather. I wrote this as a tribute to my father; as I recalled a memory of us releasing two catfish into Martling’s Pond in Clove Lakes Park (Staten Island). As the poem progresses, I mention two fishermen talking about finding catfish in the pond and thought about how they must have spawned and repopulated the pond. Colin reminisced about his father-in-law and looked at his soul and memory both fondly and wistfully.

WILLOW IN THE WIND

Colin’s daughter is fond of weeping willows, so this immediately stood out to him. In this poem, I was inspired by a quote from Bruce Lee (“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.”) Many know that my title is Wizard of Willow. This is because I practice magick and frequent Willowbrook Park (Staten Island) on a regular basis. Naturally, I connect to this particular tree for this reason. Also, I relate to the resilience of the tree. I have been through a lot of adversity in my life and weeping willows represent how I’ve moved at times where I could have been broken. Colin read this piece to his daughter and she loved it. This is especially profound since his family is moving and there is a weeping willow near their future property.

WHEN YOU CAN’T DREAM

This poem reminded Colin of his issues with sleep paralysis. This is one condition I certainly do not wish upon anybody. I wrote this poem in relation to the uncomfortable sleep I was having during the very beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic in April of 2020. It also relates to having a mental health diagnosis (bipolar disorder) and trying to maintain balance during a time where the planet is greatly unbalanced. Colin mentioned he was afflicted with the aforementioned condition and how much of a struggle it can be to sleep and even more of a struggle to dream. I was really glad he related to this, especially since I am in a group on Facebook called Quarantine Dreams.

More to come…