Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Poet Interview: Alessandra Gelmi

Novelist. Poet. Playwright. Journalist. Professor. Alessandra Valentina Maria Gelmi has dipped her hands in many areas of professional writing to tap into the deep culture of literature. She explores life's mysteries and helps readers have a spiritual connection with her storytelling via poetry or novel. Here is the interview I did with Ms. Gelmi as she encourages everyone to respect each other's writing as we all have different personal expressions in the nature of art. 

What is poetry to you? What about prose, journalism, or any other professional writing you have done?

I describe poetry as dignifying the mystery. I’m interested in beauty, bonds we form with the child, the sea, the sinner. Does the story make you cry? The heart chakra interests me. Einstein said, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science.”

I have written for four national daily newspapers and dozens of magazines, covering culture and philanthropy. My interest skews now towards metaphysics, cosmology, and eschatology. I just returned from a six week stay in Italy (visiting my Dad who is 92—and realized there exists a vacuum in the current Italian psycho-social climate. A spiritual vacuum—despite the new Pope Francis whom I  respect for his open, vision of inclusion, so I asked my Italian cousin, an MD and a holistic dentist, to join me in publishing the Sedona Journal of Emergence: ITALIA. So maybe I now will be a “professional” publisher.

You are a senior journalist and correspondent at The Epoch Times. How long have you been working there? What are the benefits of working there as a writer?

We are all volunteers at that paper. I have been writing for them a number of years. It is a newspaper with a human rights slant, written by practitioners of the Falun Dafa. The newspaper is published in 25 languages and 35 countries and growing.

I am highly respectful of the people I work with. They are evolved. I studied the Falun Dafa for years—as I did the B’hai faith, I also practiced as a Roman Catholic. I am currently studying Kaballah with a rabbi in Jerusalem (courtesy of skype) and exploring Kaballistic spirituality through galactic venues. Mesmerized by various exponents of religious freedom, I have become an egregious Universalist. For me, there is one Creator God with many names (e.g. Allah, God the Father, Jehovah, YHWH, and so on).

You have also worked to raise funds for the Mercy Center (clinic and school) in Kenya, and your 2007 novel Who’s Afraid of Red took place two years after the Rwandan genocide. Have you always had an interest for the African history and culture? What do you want for people to take away from their learning of the events going on in African countries?

I feel very tuned in to African culture. It is an overwhelming culture in many respects. So rich, so fertile, so ancient, so powerful. What we can take away? Pay attention to a culture whose very roots sustain a deep sense of pride and appreciation for mysterious and sacred tradition, for ritual and ancestral reverence. For knowledge. For Magic.

Not to mention the sheer emotional and spiritual moxy of a people who have survived slavery by whites, dominion by despots who share their own blood, war, famine, poverty, pestilence, and genocide. My God, what haven’t the African people survived? This is no ordinary culture.

The Africans also have a luminous memory. Stories handed down through millennia from tribe to tribe connecting their people to their star origins. The collective African consciousness has a translucency of soul and what I mean by that is, the collective African consciousness (and I have to include indigenous people in general) have a designated window into the Akashic Records which contain precious super-worldly information in the form of light.

Sample Poem from Volume XXXIV

Alessandra Gelmi





My father owned coffee plantations in Madagascar.

He had polio and

when I came home from school and

knocked on the door of our white house

I heard his metal brace scrape the floor

before I saw his face

and the marks he made on the Italian tile.


Haitia was my nanny, soil-black,

smelling of sweet almost lambent oil,

smelling of grapefruits, lemons, and limes.

My mother was an obstetrician,

smelling of dust,

an erect woman with alabaster skin

and a black bag

filled with silver instruments.


When I was born

my father planted a grapefruit tree.

For six years it bore no fruit.

On my sixth birthday, a single grapefruit appeared.

Don't pick it, my father warned.


It was then, outside,

between aggressive sunbursts,

my girlfriends urged me on.

Jump and get it! they shouted

Jump and get it!

Restless we were for this epiphany.


That evening, my father

burned me on the arm with a soldering iron.

Haitia had to leave the room.

I could hear her wailing through blunt walls.

My father frightened her

even though she was much bigger than he.


My mother, at the time,

was somewhere doing a Caesarian or

she would have stopped him I think.

Still, thirty-five years later to the day

I never pick flowers or fruit from trees.

I've learned my lesson, I'm respectful,

I walk without scarring a clean surface

something my father could never do.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Web Exclusive: Two poems by Sean Singer

















Apotheosis of Sonny Clark


First, tar’s vinegar warmth, euphoria & nodding off.

Followed by Automat cheeseburgers and vanilla milkshake.


The only black kid in the school picture,

Faraway swim look in the thread of his eye.


Japanese love Cool Struttin’—

White legs, black A-line, Fifth Avenue.


As demons douse metallic nodules

A stylus pins Cole Porter in a Pullman quarter.


What seems like a right hand with blue tabulae

Is actually Sonny Clark waking up from his vomit


When he sees what he’s leaving behind

Only the right chord is perfect labor


Everything with Sonny Clark is weakness.

He’s a city and a forest infolded quill


Tranquilized with black lung and tar black,

The most aristocratic color of all.

Mountainous Black Garden

What good is intelligence if you cannot discover a useful melancholy?”
—Akutagawa Ryonosuke
Reading grapefruit, prey, and fake grief.
Put on “Fleurette Africaine” and her arm
Drapes onto steel fibers along nerves.
Her love fills the zinc bottle of its own body.
Peel me a woody bass, wick the piano away
From the sweet peak of Duke’s pomade.
Black can be quiet and contain the whole thing.
What is apart and not hard and hard and not apart?


About the Poet:

Sean Singer’s first book Discography won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize, selected by W.S. Merwin, and the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. He has also published two chapbooks, Passport and Keep Right On Playing Through the Mirror Over the Water, both with Beard of Bees Press and is the recipient of a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

His work has recently appeared in Memorious, Pleiades, Souwester, Iowa Review, New England Review, and Salmagundi. He has a Ph.D. in American Studies from Rutgers-Newark. He lives in Harlem, New York City.



Monday, November 18, 2013

Poet Interview: Kelley J. White

As a pediatrician who believes her work experiences speak of truth and honor in poetry, Kelley J. White gives her patients a voice to tell their stories because everyone has one worth listening to. The following interview reveals how poetry has been an important part of her life, even through her medical practice years.

What interested you in poetry? Did you take writing courses when you were in college? Have you written anything else besides poems?

I’ve always loved books and libraries and have wanted to publish a book since I was nine years old. There was a book I checked out of the Gilford Public Library called, I believe, O Ye Jigs & Juleps!, that had a ten year old author [Virginia Cary Hudson], and I wanted to rise to that challenge. I also wanted to be a scientist, though, and thought perhaps I could do it all.

I spent a summer in college working for the U.S. Forest Service in biology research and realized that I had more contact with people than being in a lab or at a research station provided. I thought of medicine as combining science and human service. I continued writing, and in fact was honored with a fellowship for creative writing during my senior year at Dartmouth College (after completing all the pre-med science courses). I have, therefore, a ‘novel’ in a box in the bottom of my closet. I made a brief effort to find a literary agent the summer before I started medical school at Harvard then put away that part of life for about a decade, although I did keep a journal related to my experiences as a resident physician in pediatrics.

Why did you choose to pursue a career as a pediatrician?

I had planned to become an obstetrician/gynecologist but realized just before beginning my internship that I loved children and babies—that I drifted over to the newborns after their deliveries and didn't really want to read up on infertility or contraception. I was motivated to read about childhood illnesses and child development. For a year during residency training I made a commitment to write in depth about one patient each day. This came from the experience that as a physician (especially as a physician in training) we are privileged to participate intensely in the lives of children and families, often at times of the most extreme importance—birth, the diagnosis of serious illness, pain, or death—and then, oddly, we may never again see these people again. I wanted to honor these individuals. I wrote of them with respect and gratitude for their trust and teaching. A few poems have echoed those memories. I hope they have been honorable (of course names and details are changed).

How long did you work as poetry editor at The Schuylkill Valley Journal of the Arts? Were you working as a doctor and an editor at the same time?

I served as poetry editor for The Schuylkill Valley Journal of the Arts from about 2003 until I left Philadelphia to return to New Hampshire in 2008. The founding editor, Jim Marinell, a wonderful poet and kind, wise, human being accepted a few of my poems when I first began sending work out for consideration of publication. He was that rare editor who made a personal response to each submission including careful comments on each poem, comments that truly helped me shape poems. He was a guide and mentor to many writers. After Jim’s untimely death, in his honor, and with respect for Peter Krok, the current editor, I took on the title of poetry editor, though with a team of readers who read and ranked each submission without any author cover letter or other identification. It was a demanding process. I spent lots of time copying and collating work. I learned a great deal, though of course had less time to write.

And yes, I was, and still am, working full time as a pediatrician. Bill Wunder, the current poetry editor of SVJ does a fine job, with some assistance in reading, but has more editorial clout! A personal response from an editor is a rare and wonderful thing. I tried to be personal in my responses to submissions and to offer encouragement. As a new poet, I made a vow to write a grateful response to any editor who took the time to make a comment, even a negative blast or the single word, ‘sorry.’ I have often taken the short cut of sending postcards, but I do think even those quirky little bits of mail in my terrible doctor’s handwriting are appreciated. I also write to poets whose work I've come across and enjoyed or been moved by in my reading. I have quite a few correspondents around the world, of ages from nine to ninety, though, sadly, too many of my favorite editors and founders of small journals, like Jim Marinell, have passed away.

Sample Poem from Volume XXXIV

Kelley Jean White

 Essay Questions

Chose three of five:


1. Discuss the character of the mother in Book 1. How does her bedtime story of the rabbit and the lost meadow reflect the birth of the narrator and the family secret?


2. Discuss the symbolism of kettles in light of the coming of age theme.


3. In chapter 7, Nora Jean claims that Margo’s loss of innocence is the cause of Jeremy’s suicide. Do you agree? Is the narrator unreliable? Does your opinion matter?


4. History seems unimportant in the secondary narrative of Aunt Virginia’s courtship. Discuss 18th century cotton mills anyway.


5. The book does not deal with religion or business ethics. Choose another book you have read that does. Quote a specific page in this book. Note: you will be judged on the accuracy of your recreation of specific sentences as well as the spiritual principles you claim they espouse.


Short answer:


1. Compare and contrast the Northern Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution. Use at least three specific examples of coal from the narrative to demonstrate your understanding. Chose three minor characters and change their names.


2. If   x=(t) x (m) and y= f (m) x (h-t) calculate the price of coal.


3. Define maturity as it relates to your parents.


4. Choose your favorite food. Show how it undermines Jeremy’s suicidal intent and ultimate choice of weapon.


5. Imagine another ending for Book 7. Prove how that ending would make Book 8 impossible.


6. Consider the effect on the environment of John Doe’s execution by electric chair in chapter eleven. Will utility rates rise or fall? Illustrate your answer with specific bills your roommate has received.


7. Define the seventh word in the second paragraph of page 127.


8. How many words are on page 246? Why? Can any of these words be eliminated?


9. What synonym for charisma would improve your appreciation of the student seated in the front row of yesterday’s lecture’s tattoo?


10. Do you think this class should have met before or after lunch? Why?


11. Make up a definition of ‘truth.’ Prove the error of this definition based on the clothing worn by three of the girls in the class.


12. Professor Tanner wrote her thesis on the influence of Moroccan tile on the fast food industry. Why was she chosen to teach this course?


13. Show how the books in this course will enhance your likelihood of choosing a supportive life partner? (alternate: explain why your parents chose poorly.)



Extra Credit: Write your own novel of intrigue and sexual coercion. Get it published.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Pushcart Nominees

Congratulations to the 2013 Pushcart Nominees from Volume XXXIV of The Worcester Review.
In order of appearance in The Review:
"Gutting" by Colin Dekkeersgieter
"The Fishing Village" by Dmitry Berenson
"Essay Questions" by Kelley Jean White
"In the Truck" by Fred Yannantuono
"Cool Jazz" by Fern G. Z. Carr
Best of luck to all nominees!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Reminder: Frank O'Hara Prize Reading - This Sunday

Join us next Sunday, September 22nd at 2:00pm for the 2013 WCPA Poetry Contest: Frank O'Hara Prize Winner's Reading.

Readings from contest winners Ann Sweetman, Helen Marie Casey, Missy Hall Nicholson; Honorable Mentions Jennifer Freed and James Kobialka; and contest judge Alice B. Fogel.

First Unitarian Church, The Bancroft Room, 90 Main Street. Worcester.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Volume 34 Cover Unveiled

That's right!  Volume 34 - Wormtown Jazz:  From Cole Porter to the Twenty-first Century is almost here!

Your sneak peek: The Cover, designed by Monica Elefterion.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Thank you for stopping by at stART on the Street

We'd like to thank everyone that stopped by The Worcester Review table at stART on the Street today.  We appreciate it and hope you will swing by all the great poetry venues happening around the city.

Join us for the 2013 Frank O'Hara Prize Reading on Sunday, September 22nd!

The Worcester Review and the WCPA will host the 2013 Frank O'Hara Prize Reading on Sunday, September 22nd at 2:00PM.

Readings from contest winners Ann Sweetman, Helen Marie Casey, Missy Hall Nicholson; Honorable Mentions Jennifer Freed and James Kobialka; and contest judge Alice B. Fogel.

Refreshments will be served.

First Unitarian Church, The Bancroft Room, 90 Main Street, Worcester

Friday, June 28, 2013

What happens at The Review in the summer?

The Worcester Review is an annual publication. So you might be wondering, what exactly do we do to keep busy all year long? Turns out one of the reasons publishing is such a slow industry is that it takes a long time to prepare, design, and layout an issue. In the months of May and June, those are the primary tasks around here. Yesterday, my husband and I had the pleasure of visiting Worcester Academy to take some photos for the 2013 Feature Section on Cole Porter. It wasn't as glamorous as a photo shoot for Glamour, but it was cool to see the memorabilia. Photographing other photos (faded, fragile, and framed photos at that) did prove a challenge. Here's a peek inside the action:

We can't wait for the publication to appear this fall so we can share all the stories and images that Frank Callahan, Worcester Academy's historian, shared with us. Coming this fall!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Yusef Komunyakaa's "Gingkoes" (The Worcester Review, Volume XXXIII)

This month, we present you with the second sample poem from Volume 33, the latest issue of The Worcester Review.  The theme of this issue was "Chris Gilbert: Into the Emerging Landscape." 


by Yusef Komunyakaa

When I retrace our footsteps
to Bloomington I recall talking jazz,
the half-forgotten South
in our mouths, the repitlian
brain swollen with manly regrets
left behind, thumbing volumes
inscribed to the dead in used
bookstores, & then rounding
griffins carved into limestone.
The gingkoes dropped fruit
at our feet & an old woman
scooped the smelly medicine
into a red plastic bucket,
laughing.  We walked across
the green reciting Hayden,
& I still believe those hours
we could see through stone.
I don't remember the girls
in summer dresses strollng
out of the movie on Kirkwood,
but in the Runcible Spoon
sniffing the air, Cat Stevens
on a speaker, we tried to buy
back our souls with reveries
& coffee, the scent of bathos
on our scuffed shoes.

           -- for Christopher Gilbert

Yusef Komunyakaa has published extensively: Copacetic, a collection of colloquial and jazz poems, 1984; I Apologize for the Eyes in My Head (1986), San Francisco Poetry Center Award; and Dien Cai Dau (1988), The Dark Room Poetry Prize; The Chameleon Couch (2011); Warhorses (2008); Taboo: The Wishbone Triology, Part 1; Pleasure Dome: New & Collected Poems, 1975-1999 (2001); Talking Dirty to the Gods (2000); Thieves of Paradise (1998), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Neon Vernacular: New & Selected Poems 1977-1989 (1994), Pultizer Prize and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; and Magic City (1992).  His prose work is Blues Notes: Essays, Interviews & Commentaries (University of Michigan Press, 2000).  He co-edited The Jazz Poetry Anthology (1991), and co-translated The Insomnia of Fire by Nguyen Quang Thieu (1995).  He received many awards including the National Endowment for the Arts, and was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 1999.  He lives in New York City where he is currently Distinguished Senior Poet in New York University's graduate creative writing program.


Want to purchase a copy of TWR?  You can purchase a copy of Volume 33 by using the Purchase The Worcester Review dropdown list in the right column of the website.  You can also subscribe to future issues by visiting our Subscribe page.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Submissions Update

A note from your friendly managing editor

Dear Submitters:

Thanks to all who submitted during our winter submission period. Our editors are hard at work reading your poems and stories.

In case you were wondering how our process works, each piece is read by two separate editors. Editorial pairings are made such that each pair includes one scholar and one creative writer. The editors do not consult one another, so for a piece to be accepted, it must have independent approval from two editors. We accept less than 5% of submissions.

I have begun notifying submitters of the status of their work this week. I will continue responding to both paper and electronic submissions as editors complete their reading. I anticipate that I will be able to notify all submitters by mid-May. If you do not hear from me by mid-May, please drop me a line. I have had several emails bounce back to me already. If an email does not go through, I send a letter via snail mail, but if you did not include a SASE, I have no way to reach you.

If your work has been accepted elsewhere, please let me know as soon as possible. Further, if you submitted online, you can log on to your account and withdraw work yourself. I understand that we are slow to respond and we encourage writers to send simultaneous submissions, but it is very important for us to know if your work is no longer available.

On our end, we are working hard to improve reporting times. If you submitted between November 2012 and January 2013, your response time will be 4-7 months, which--while still slow--is much faster than our previous record of about 12 months. We will continue striving to improve in this regard, but please know that we are a volunteer editorial board. The Worcester Review is truly a labor of love, and we are grateful for the chance to read your work. We'd rather take our time to thoughtfully consider each piece than rush through the submissions.

We will reopen to submissions on May 1. We look forward to reading more great stories and poems!


Diane Mulligan

Contact Diane

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Interview with Managing Editor Diane Mulligan

Thanks to The Review Review for interviewing Diane Mulligan about The Worcester Review. You can read the full interview here.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sample Poem 1: Among Books (Volume XXXIII)

Among Books*

By Linda Opyr

Let me die among books
that have been read -
spines bent through use
but still able to hold
their place in line.

I want their pages traveled -
margins inked, even a corner bent.
Let my books speak
of where I've been,
not where I'd hoped to go.

And should I die with a bookmark
still in place -
pick up, finish for me
as if this story, our story,
were just too good to put down.

* from If We Are What We Remember: New and Selected Poems, Whittier Publications, 2005

Author Bio:  Linda Opyr is the Nassau County Poet Laureate 2011-13.  She is the author of seven collections of poetry - the latest, The Ragged Cedar (2012).  Her poems have appeared in the New York Times, The Hudson Review, Paterson Literary Review, Atlanta Review, and numerous anthologies, journals, magazines, and newspapers.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Press Release: Sound Ideas: Hearing and Speaking Poetry

Hobblebush Books is very pleased to announce the release of our newest book, Sound Ideas: Hearing and Speaking Poetry. Sound Ideas takes the stance that hearing and speaking are essential to making poems live, and explains how to find the way to the heart of a poem by taking it off the page. Authors Gene McCarthy, a longtime editor of The Worcester Review, and Fran Quinn, another familiar voice on the Worcester poetry scene, have taught poetry successfully with this method for many years, and now they share it beyond their own classrooms. 

A book launch for Sound Ideas will be held at the Worcester Public Library (3 Salem Square, Worcester, MA 01608) on April 2 from 4:00–7:00 p.m. Drinks and appetizers will be served, books will be sold, and the authors will be reading from and discussing their book. All are welcome
Contact: Kirsty Walker, Marketing Director
Hobblebush Books 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

2013 Annual WCPA Poetry Contest: The Frank O'Hara Prize


JUDGE: Alice Fogel 
  • Poems must be the original work of the entrant, in English, and not previously published.
  • Submit no more than THREE (3) poems in any form.
  • Manuscripts should not be stapled or attached in any way.
  • Poems must be typed on 8 1/2" x 11" white bond paper. Clean and clear photocopies are acceptable. Email submissions will not be accepted.
  • Do not put your name on the individual poems!
  • Include a cover sheet with your name, address, telephone number, and the title of each poem.
  • Residents of Worcester County OR
  • WCPA Members in good standing OR
  • Students or employees of institutions within Worcester County 
  • First Place winners of previous WCPA annual poetry contests are not eligible.
  • Non-WCPA members: $5.00 to submit up to 3 poems (not per poem). 
  • Make checks payable to: Worcester County Poetry Association.
  • You may join the WCPA or renew your membership with your entry.  $12 Student/Elders/Low Income Membership $30 Individual Membership.  Go to the WCPA Membership page for additional membership categories.
  • All entries must be postmarked by April 1, 2013
  • Follow contest guidelines carefully; entries not in compliance may be disqualified.
Mail contest submissions to:
WCPA Poetry Contest 2013
1 Ekman Street
Worcester, MA 01607
  • First Place $100 - Second Place $50 - Third Place - $25
  • Winning poems published in The Worcester Review, after which all rights revert to poet.
  • Contest winners announced June 2013
  • Winners' Reading & Award Ceremony to be held September 2013
  • Submissions will not be returned. Entrants who wish to be notified of contest results must enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope with their entry.
  • WCPA Poetry Contest does not pre-select poems: all entries are seen by the contest judge.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Photos from The Worcester Review #33 Launch Party

Thank you to everyone who attended The Worcester Review #33 Launch Party on Sunday, January 20, 2013!
The event focused on a celebration of Chris Gilbert with a panel led by Jonathan Blake (Panelists: John Hodgen, Mary Bonina, and David Williams). The panelists shared their past memories of Chris, the poetry community of the late 70s and early 80s, and the story of how the Free Peoples Workshop was initiated based on a request by poet Etheridge Knight right before he left Worcester.
At the end of the event, members of the audience shared their favorite Chris Gilbert poems. Catherine Reed also shared her poem in memory of Chris, which was published in Issue 33.
Here are a few of the pictures captured at yesterday's event.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Worcester Review Issue #33 Launch Party - Today!

The Worcester Review Issue #33 Launch Party: A Celebration of Chris Gilbert
Today, January 20, 2013 @ 1:00 p.m.
Worcester State University
Student Center Blue Lounge

Come celebrate the launch of The Worcester Review's latest issue, #33 "Chris Gilbert: Into the Emerging Landscape" with a panel discussion and readings honoring poet Chris Gilbert. Featured will be former members of the People's Poets and Artists Workshop, in which Gilbert took part in Worcester, MA in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Join us in the WSU Student Center Bue Lounge

• Live music/welcome

• Words about issue #33 by Diane Vanaskie Mulligan

• Panel with John Hodgen, Mary Bonina, and David Williams

• Q&A

• Readings of Chris Gilbert's poems by those who wish to share

• Food and conversation


Sample Poems: Volume 32, Numbers 1 and 2

Local News
By Charles Edward Mann

Kindled, the fire fed itself,
seething, ebullient on blistered wood,

fuming and reeking in the humid night.
The crimson sky above the house

pinwheeled and snapped in shingle
blast, roof twist,

the blaze of burning air.
At the head of the stairs

three small boys,
Jontae, Andre, Fontel,

held each other
and screamed. Transcalent,

the steps sagged and gave way.
Illuminate and hot blooded,

their tiny hearts were cauterized.
But on their mother’s tongue

their names remain
as vowels, incombustible.

For the Last Catamount
By Ralph Culver

The round, descending
eye of fire narrows down
the gunsight valley.
A hawk hangs perfectly still,
then sheers toward the river.

Day-heavy, lazing
on a warming rock, the gold
head of teeth and thick-
lidded opals shifts, yawning
under the sun’s attentions.

Her paws go soft now.
She dozes. Skirling blackflies
and the quick water’s
reassuring purl meld to
a rustle of parting growth.

She recognizes
what can only be summoned
in dreams: his likeness
driven from and nearing her.
He stands in wait by the trees.

Night and hunger, one
being, will fall soon enough,
patiently hunting
the mouth of the river to
follow the valley upstream.

She wakens without
expectation. Water, kill,
sleep, the passing light—
the labors of a daily
birth, in a world of endings.

Heuristics, Not Facts
By William Doreski

Two weeks before Easter, John Milton
haunts me, his big square head
popping up like a crocus,
his copy of Paradise Regained,
worn out by handling but unseen
in his blindness, thrust before me

like a dead tongue lolling. The light,
Einstein noted, moves in waves
but also composes itself
in particles. A heuristic,
he said, not a fact. A way
of thinking, not a finished thought.

Einstein should meet John Milton
in a churchyard in the Cotswold
where tourists snap digital
photos of mossy gravestones,
catching the wave. Milton would note
the timbre of Einstein’s accent

and decide from which German city
he derives. Einstein would note
the oceanic feeling embossed
in Milton’s bedrock countenance
and realize that converting him
to the terms of quantum physics

would require more energy
than a solar year produces.
Two weeks before Easter I’m sure
I believe neither that Jesus rose
nor that light makes both particles
and waves. Ecumenical

to the core, I reject history,
myth, and physics, and focus
on the next opening of the door,
on whether Milton reappears,
or Einstein, or maybe Freud stroking
his terrible pubic beard,

or Darwin come to observe
my mating or lack of mating
habits. I have to stop reading
the books that have fractured me
into prismatic colors
too distinct to ever rejoin

the plain white flow of photons
Milton lost when he lost his sight.
At least he saved himself from theses
like Newton’s, Darwin’s, and Einstein’s—
page after page darkening the world
like dusty Venetian blinds.

Sample Poems: Volume 31, Numbers 1 and 2

With My Last 20 Dollars
By Donavon Campbell

With my last 20 dollars
I’d fill my tank
and hit I-70 heading East.
After 35 minutes I’d pass the Regal Inn,
where I used to joke
the mayor had his whores,
then I’d hit route 13
and get off going South
past that lonely red house
surrounded by petrol depots
with the “for sale” sign in its window
that comes and goes
but always has the same number,
and in a few minutes 13 opens up
and I cruise through miles
of that good ol’ Ohio farmland,
I cut through fields
smooth green like bed sheets
populated only by the occasional,
solitary tree
ready-made for poetry,
the kind of spots
that make me want to stop,
write a sonnet for the grazing cattle
then lean my head back
and dream
because for that instant
I am Wordsworth, Frost, Blake.
Soon enough
I hit Somerset,
a small town
with a round-about square
where people stop and wave politely
as they yield to the right,
where the elementary school
sits directly across Main Street
from the church
and just past the bait shop
up on the right
sits General Sheridan’s house
with its humble pillars
and quaint Victorian charm
and the people of Somerset
keep it just like it was
because they’re still proud.
After that it’s a hard left on 669
and I weave through foothills
like my dad used to
still holding my breath
as I pass the cemetery on the hill,
still doing a double-take
at the old white house
with its wall of solar panels,
still wondering
what life must be like
for the kids who grow up here
and go to Crooksville High
as I catch sight of it
on that small stretch of 96.
Then it’s 669 again
and a few miles
of flannelled men
on rotted front porches
before the right turn on 555
and the only pop machine in Deavertown
and the last turn of the journey,
a vague left
on route 3,
Stub road
that bends around Sharky’s place
with his baying hounds
and then I break through
the final wall of trees
that mark the end of the world
and the beginning of
Campbell land
because there are ghosts here,
voices I recognize
that I’ve never heard.
The spirit of a black dog named Bear
watches over these fields
big as a horse
protective as an old grey wolf,
I feel her running
along side the car
at the edge of the road,
I see her in glimpses,
shimmers of the dying light
that flicker past the window
until I slow
and come to a stop
in the gravel
across the road from the house.
Somewhere along this stretch
Stub turns into
Tridelphia Road,
the address on the mailbox
reads 10110
so funny
to find binary code
in a place like this.
Getting out of the car
I head first to the smithy
where they used to make their tools
holding itself up
mouth wide open
among Oak trees
whose very roots
break through its foundation
and climb bracingly
up walls of wood planks
so old
I have to strain my eyes
just to see the grain,
in here there is a scythe
forged by hands long dead
their departure marked by years of rust
on a brittle-dusted blade,
in here there are shelves
filled with screws
blackened by age
placed generations ago,
perhaps lost
only to be found
on this evening
long after the task is done.
I pocket a few
as I leave
and head up to the house
glancing briefly
at a pile of lumber
that used to be a barn as well,
a place where once
rugged fingers milked cows
and threw slops to swine,
where Ivor took his whiskey,
and where men,
not so long ago,
drank beer together
and, with blood-wet numbing fingers,
skinned deer by flashlight.

Walking past the house
there is a bench swing
in the yard
where I sat once
with my fiancé
and my father
eating blackberries
picked off the land
from a milk carton
with its top cut off,
and there is a pump
to draw drinking water
from a well gone dry
only an ornament now,
its tin cup still hanging
painted red
its lever,
no longer useful
painted blue
and I hesitate a moment
as I pass the door to the porch
and I don’t want to go inside,
I came from there,
from the indoors.
I make my way past
the small shed,
“the hunting lodge,”
littered with the corpses
of thousands of houseflies,
Ladybugs and Yellowjackets
swept clean but once a year,
each November,
to be used for a week
then forgotten
until deer season comes again.
I walk up the hill
that crests behind the house
under the arms of a great Birch,
and that is where I rest,
sitting on a log
balanced on its end
next to a cold fire pit.
I close my eyes and listen—
out here the wind
plays the fields like a flute,
a song unique
from any other wind
traveling any other place
its touch musses my hair
and chills me
as I wait,
my last 20 dollars spent
not knowing where I’ll go
but knowing where I am.

Twice Möbius
By Salvatore Attardo

I) Möbius Trips

One day, walking in his neighborhood,
In what he took to be uniform space, Möbius tripped.
Being near the Albertine library,
A crowd assembled, to assist the illustrious professor
Who’d sprained his ankle.
A young woman brought a glass of schnapps
And, this being Leipzig, in 1820, blushed.
Möbius saw and understood.
They married just three months later,
She already pregnant with their first child,
Möbius smiling and wearing an oddly knotted tie.

II) Möbius Strips

Thirty-eight years after these facts
Möbius is in his bedroom,
His wife snores softly in bed;
He sets down the candle
And looks with affection.
Möbius feels a stirring and starts untying his tie.
But the knot resists. He gets nervous.
“Why will this knot not untie?”
Möbius pauses and collects himself.
“Surely this tie will come loose
If only I twist it the right way.”

Playing for Rabbits
By T. Alan Broughton

When I was raking the lawn
a woman stopped to say,
Are you the one who plays the piano?

I confessed. Everyday she walks slowly
up the street, then back in half an hour.
We’ve smiled before, praised the weather.

One morning I saw a rabbit on your lawn
sitting up, listening. We both did.
It was still listening when I left.

Next day I opened the window wide.
This time three came, an old fellow, gray
in the muzzle, others blinking but attentive.

They left when I quit. All night
I tried to sleep, stay calm.
What, I wondered, does a rabbit hear?

Do they prefer Mozart to Bach?
Will they listen again, shake their heads,
wander off to the neighbors’ yards

where on a sultry evening blues twang
from some kid’s guitar? Isn’t Classical
dead? I woke, looked at the empty lawn,

went down as sun burned off the dew,
and began. They came slowly, by threes
and fours. I tried not to fluff notes,

played Bach, saw by solemn twitch
of many noses they understood intentions
were as important as polish.

For days they brought their kin,
even telling the snowshoes to travel
from their lonely fields into the city.

Soon they began clapping their ears,
a soft rubbing of fur I could hear
only because so many cheered me on.

When I tried Chopin or Brahms
they began to graze, some even dozing
as if bored. Only Goldberg would do.

And so I gave them each variation,
starting at dawn’s first, soft light.
The old one’s eyes pooled with tears each time

I unwound the tangled, plangent twenty-fifth,
that Black Pearl of wisdom even trees
held their leaves a little longer to hear.

Then came first frosts, clanking of steam
in heating pipes, and when snowflakes
turned our world into a shaken ball

where rabbits, the house, the naked trees
were quaint as a Christmas card,
they left with numerous progeny,

having coupled often on our golden mornings,
until one day I closed the keyboard’s lid,
came to the window still cracked open,

stared into the cleft-lipped face of the old one,
and we listened alone together to the variation
we loved, played only in our minds,

knowing, come spring, he wouldn’t be there,
the dream gone back to live in the music
which on some mornings the walking woman shared.

Sample Poems: Volumes 30, Numbers 1 and 2

By Michael D. Riley

I would choose the wren’s day,
first wash of morning, bloom and clear.
Gold leaf evening, when night delays
each edge, then spreads like water.

I would be brisk about it, too,
small and purposeful as a girl
playing house, quick as a piccolo
over the world’s stops and scales.

I will ventriloquize,
surround their house with sound
immanent and rare. For eyes
I will give them ears, just found.

I will sing with a voice
three times my size, fill the season
with turned heads and pure choice.
Beauty is the reason

we will mistake for instinct
the hymn of transition.
Dawn and dusk the same distinct
summation from the lowest limb.

Nos Pinokia
By Ewa Chrusciel



Pinocchio’s Nose
For Stasys Eidrigevicius
(translated by Katarzyna Jakubiak and Ewa Chrusciel)

Pinocchio gains self-knowledge
Pats necessity gently on its shoulder
If he allows, his nose
Will become useful
Serve as a sailboat mast
Or for a grandma to hang her shopping bag

The Horatio Alger Story
By Susan Elizabeth Sweeney
When you hear the phrase “Horatio Alger story”—describing someone who succeeds with nothing but honesty, industry, and ambition—you may think it refers to a fictional hero. Instead it denotes the author of over a hundred such tales, called Horatio Alger, Jr., to distinguish him from his father.[1] Alger (1832-1899) was once among the most popular writers in America; that is no longer the case, but his name lives on as shorthand for the attitudes and values conveyed by his books. Some readers turn it into an adjective—as in “the Algerian concept of the infinite possibility in this country for the enterprising” (Behrman v)—and some into nouns like “Algerism” or “Algerology” (Garrison 327, 329). Others use it to promote his philosophy. The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans gives Horatio Alger Awards to public figures for “remarkable achievements accomplished through honesty, hard work, self-reliance and perseverance over adversity”; it also distributes millions of dollars in scholarships, encouraging students “to pursue their own version of the American Dream” (“About”). The Horatio Alger Society, another organization, aims “To further the philosophy of Horatio Alger, Jr. and to encourage the spirit of Strive and Succeed that for half of a century guided Alger's undaunted heroes” (“Welcome”). As Richard Weiss observes, “This timid writer of children’s stories somehow became identified with the golden age of American plutocracy. A later generation used his name to symbolize the spectacular success that was possible” then (48-49).
Even those acquainted with Alger as the author of novels like Ragged Dick may not know that he grew up in Central Massachusetts. Alger has been associated with Marlborough since his family moved there in 1844, when he was twelve. The History of the Town of Marlborough—commissioned to mark the town’s 200th anniversary, in 1860, by a three-person committee which included Alger’s father (Hudson vi)—contains a “Marlborough Bicentennial Ode” that he wrote for the occasion (Hudson 508-509). Ella Bigelow, in Historical Reminiscences of the Early Times in Marlborough, identifies Alger as the town’s “author of juvenile literature”—although she bestows more praise on his sister, suffragist Olive Augusta Alger Cheney, for her “intellectual gifts and versatile pen” (30). The Marlborough Historical Society owns a collection of his novels, and the Marlborough Public Library keeps Alger materials in its archives. In 2006, however, the town decided to rename the annual Horatio Alger Street Fair after officials learned about the “historic allegations of pedophilia” once lodged against him (Maguire).[2]
Up by One’s Bootstraps: Working in Marlborough
The opening essays in this collection trace the region’s influence on Alger. As Gary Scharnhorst explains in “Horatio Alger, Jr., and Marlborough, Massachusetts,” Alger always considered that to be his hometown. Scharnhorst draws on Alger’s own descriptions of Marlborough to convey the impression it made upon him. At the time, according to local historian John Bigelow, it “was embarking on a career as an industrial town with shoes as the principal business—made in small, isolated shops which employed in each maybe ten people. As this business prospered, larger shops were erected” (qtd. in Weiss 50). Scharnhorst shows that many of Alger’s novels are set in similar small, pre-industrial New England towns.
One such town is “Lakeville,” where Bert Barton, the hero of Five Hundred Dollars, works in a shoe-shop. The novel’s first chapter, “A New Arrival in Lakeville,” appears below. It not only illustrates Alger’s habitual style, characterization, and plotting, but also suggests his view of Marlborough as a rural and manufacturing community. Indeed, the focus on Bert’s uncle—who comes back to Lakeville after making a fortune elsewhere—may express Alger’s thoughts of returning to his own hometown. In 1889, when Five Hundred Dollars appeared as a serial, he too was successful, but his family had left Marlborough over twenty years earlier.
Carol Nackenoff’s essay, “Keeping New England’s Factories off Limits: Horatio Alger’s Erasure of the Industrial Landscape,” examines Alger’s fictional treatment of the shoe-shops and other manufactories that flourished in Marlborough during his youth. She points out that the typical Alger hero seldom works in a factory—and when he does, plot incidents conspire to get him away from there as soon as possible. Nackenoff’s essay explores the reasons why Alger felt, as she puts it, that “the factory was not a good place to deposit heroes.”
Even so, Alger’s fiction often alludes to his hometown’s major industry, from shoe-shops to bootblacks to pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps. “Entrepreneur,” a contemporary poem about work in a Central Massachusetts shoe factory by Mary Fell, offers a sardonic take on the resourceful, practical spirit shown by Alger’s protagonists.
A Man’s Worth: Class and Gender in the Gilded Age
Like many novelists, Alger began as a poet, writing odes and occasional verse at Harvard, where he graduated in 1852. His first book was a collection of didactic stories and poems, Bertha’s Christmas Vision (1855); the second, a satirical poem entitled Nothing to Do: A Tilt at Our Best Society (1857). An excerpt from Nothing to Do shows that even at the beginning of his career, in a work in another genre, aimed at an adult audience, Alger was already concerned with the issues of poverty, social class, virtue, and manliness that dominate his juvenile fiction.
Alger’s satirical poem thus introduces themes explored by our next two contributors. Lisa Fluet’s essay, “The Unsocial ‘Purfessional’: Revisiting Horatio Alger’s Ragged Dick,” focuses on the novel, first serialized in 1867, that established Alger’s reputation as a writer for children. Fluet shows how Dick’s success is linked to his philanthropic gestures toward other boys; meanwhile, he shifts to middle-class status by casting himself as “professional,” even if others resent him for separating himself from them. Drawing on analyses of social class by Paul Krugman and Bruce Robbins, Fluet compares Alger’s story to Prep, Curtis Sittenfeld’s recent novel about a scholarship student at a New England boarding school.
Carol J. Singley also examines how one of Alger’s protagonists moves between classes. In “Horatio Alger’s Tattered Tom: A Tale of Two Genders,” she considers the case of Tom, an orphaned street boy in Alger’s 1871 novel who is actually a girl named Jane. Singley argues that nineteenth-century stories about adoption were highly gendered: male orphans learn to make their own way, thanks to help from mentors, while girls settle into domesticity and are reunited with birth families. Singley shows how Alger shifts back and forth from the boy’s plot to the girl’s plot in Tattered Tom, in keeping with the apparent changes in Tom’s gender.
Hometown Heroes: Role Models and Readers
The next two essays consider Alger’s writing in the context of others’ lives in Central Massachusetts. John Anderson’s essay, “Models and Mirrors: Alger’s Worcester Contemporaries,” discusses Alger’s three biographies of self-made men, beginning with From Canal Boy to President, a life of James Garfield (1881). He establishes their basic plot, which parallels that of Alger’s novels: a poor boy succeeds against all odds, thanks to hard work, good character, and the assistance of a kindly older man. Anderson finds these elements in the lives of some of Alger’s local contemporaries, suggesting that Alger could have written similar biographies about figures like Matthew Whittall or David Hale Fanning.
Susan Elizabeth Sweeney’s essay concerns autobiography as well as biography. “Borrowing Privileges: Horatio Alger, S. N. Behrman, Milton Meltzer, and the Worcester Public Library” explains that Alger’s heroes often study books—including the lives of successful men—to improve themselves. S. N. Behrman and Milton Meltzer reveal in their memoirs that they were similarly inspired, as poor immigrant children in Worcester, by reading Alger. Poor children, however, depended on public libraries for books, and the Worcester Public Library banished Alger from its shelves in 1907. Eventually, Behrman and Meltzer became successful writers, too, and now the library owns works by all three authors.
Alger was already dead—of heart disease, in 1899—by the time that Behrman and Meltzer read his stories. Few children are familiar with Alger today; his books are more likely to be studied by scholars or hoarded by collectors. (The illustrations in this feature section, ranging from engraved frontispieces to covers of dime novels, indicate the various forms in which his work appeared over a fifty-year period.) The conditions that Alger described still exist, however, including children who are orphaned, homeless, poor, or otherwise needing to make their own way in the world. Two poems by Eve Rifkah—describing a child’s experiences in Massachusetts, several generations after Alger grew up there—provide a poignant comparison to his tales of luck and pluck. “Picnic” and “Escape” recount incidents in which “the kid” finds momentary respite from a hardscrabble life, first on a trip to the country and then at a public library. The perspective of Rifkah’s young protagonist helps to explain why the “Horatio Alger story”—with its themes of hope, charity, independence, and upward mobility—was once so popular among millions of American children.

Works Cited
“About the Horatio Alger Association.” Accessed 10 August 2009.
Alger, Horatio, Jr. Bertha’s Christmas Vision: An Autumn Sheaf. Boston: Brown, Bazin, and Company, 1856.
-----. Five Hundred Dollars; or, Jacob Marlowe’s Secret. 1890. Chicago: M. A. Donohue, n.d.
-----. From Canal Boy to President; or, The Boyhood and Manhood of James A. Garfield. 1881. Philadelphia: Archibald Press, 2009.
-----. “Marlborough Bicentennial Ode.” 1860. Hudson, History 508-509.
-----. Nothing to Do: A Tilt at Our Best Society. Boston: J. French, 1857.
-----. Ragged Dick; or, Street Life in New York with the Boot-Blacks. Boston: A. K. Loring, 1868.
-----. Tattered Tom; or, The Story of a Street Arab. 1871. Philadelphia: Henry T. Coates, n.d.
Behrman, S. N. “Two Algers.”Strive and Succeed: Julius; or, The Street Boy Out West and The Store Boy; or, The Fortunes of Ben Barclay. By Horatio Alger, Jr. New York: Holt, Rinehart, Winston, 1967. v-xii.
Bigelow, Ella A. Historical Reminiscences of the Early Times in Marlborough, Massachusetts, and Prominent Events from 1860 to 1910. Marlborough, MA: Times Publishing, 1910.
Garrison, Dee. “Cultural Custodians of the Gilded Age: The Public Librarian and Horatio Alger.” Journal of Library History 6 (1971): 327-36.
Hudson, Charles. History of the Town of Marlborough, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. From its First Settlement in 1657 to 1861. Boston: T. R. Marvin and Son, 1862.
Maguire, Ken. “Alger’s Past Leading Marlborough to Reconsider Name of Fair.” Boston Globe 22 Sept. 2006. Accessed 12 August 2009.
Scharnhorst, Gary, with Jack Bales. The Lost Life of Horatio Alger, Jr. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985.
Weiss, Richard. The American Myth of Success: From Horatio Alger to Norman Vincent Peale. New York: Basic Books, 1969.
“Welcome to the Horatio Alger Society.” Accessed 10 August 2009.

[1] I am grateful to librarians and staff at the American Antiquarian Society, the College of the Holy Cross, the Marlborough Historical Society, the Marlborough Public Library, the Syracuse University Library, and the Worcester Public Library for their help. Thanks, also, to the scholars and poets who contributed their work and to the production staff at The Worcester Review.
[2] As Gary Scharnhorst and Jack Bales explain in their definitive biography, Alger was accused in 1866 of engaging in sexual acts with adolescent boys while serving in his first post as a Unitarian minister in Brewster, Massachusetts. The church agreed not to press matters further if Alger left the ministry altogether, which he did (1-3, 66-67). Alger, who had already begun writing for children, devoted himself to a career as an author of juvenile fiction and as a philanthropist who improved conditions for newsboys and other child laborers.

Sample Poems: Volume 29, Numbers 1 and 2

For The Hell Of It
By John Hodgen

Saturday afternoon, drunk already on the surprise sixty degree January sunlight
and the two scorpion bowls we just left empty as churches inside the Ho Toy,
not like the churches in the game we used to play with our hands when we were kids,
here is the church, here is the steeple, turn it all over and here’s all the people,
but totally empty, drained, even the fruit sucked dry, like two fishing boats abandoned,
the pink and blue straws like fishing poles hanging out over the sides. I mean Roanoak empty,
empty as hell, like the Mary Celeste, that ship they found floating out at sea with no one
aboard, the captain’s log filled, the table all set, the people nowhere to be found.
We toddle our way across the Great Plains of the worn and cracked parking lot
and you ask how many years we’ve been coming here and whether I will ever tire
of making the reservations under the name of the Donner Party. I say I feel a little like
the Donners right now coming down from the Sierra Nevadas after the luncheon buffet.
We squint stupid like Bush at what’s left of the rest of the day and wonder why anyone
ever drinks this much this early, or better yet, why everyone doesn’t, the day turned to lint,
horsefeathers, fuzz, the day rode hard already and put away wet, the day pretty much shot,
or at least winged a little, the day narrowed, divided into good driver, bad driver, drunk,
non-drunk, us vs. them, the other poor bastards who’d better get out of our way.
And I remember the day in junior high when we elected a bad class president,
when the word had spread from the snitches to the teachers to the extent that both
the principal and the vice-principal showed up at the meeting to talk us all out of it,
to warn us of the dangers inherent in voting that way, to strive in our hearts, in our better
selves against even considering the punk kid with green hair who had promised free beer
in the Coke machines and a class trip to Hell Mountain at the end of the year, but we did it
anyway, just for the hell of it, to fulfill perhaps the infinite prophecies of all our elementary
school teachers who had been screaming for years that we were all nothing but trouble,
that this class was different, to the degree that people all over town were actually wondering
what our parents had been up to nine months to the day before we arrived, the power outage
along the East Coast perhaps, all our parents having gone to bed early that night,
drunk and disorderly, except for one couple, the parents of the good kid, the one wearing
glasses, the one with perfect attendance, the one we didn’t vote for, the one we left standing
on the stage by himself, who, for all intents and purposes is standing there still,
tears in his eyes, looking at us, wondering who the hell we think we are.

By Cynthia Snow

You come to me at a bad moment (because
they are all bad moments, really, or so instinct
tells me). You lean across the table, place one hand
on each side of my face, my arms folding laundry.
It always begins like this. There is the moment,
and there is me considering the moment. I consider
your hands. Warm. I consider the morning sunlight
slanting across the room. Hazy and bright. I consider
the laundry. Wrinkled. I consider the papers waiting
on my desk, the tasks I’ve listed on the 24 lines
for each day in my pocket planner, the inevitable
pick up of children at 3:15, dinner, clean up,
phone calls. Most days, I look you in the eye,
kiss your lips, then swish you away. Today,
I tell my instinct to go to hell. I tell it
what my 6-year-old daughter once yelled, “You
are not the boss of me.” I close my eyes,
tell myself, “These are his hands.” I hold them.
I circle the table, press my cheek to his neck,
tell myself, “This is his blood, pulsing
through his body.” I adjust the length of me
along the length of him, rib cage to rib cage,
hip to hip, tell myself, “This is his breath
moving into his lungs. This is his breath
leaving his body, breath damp and circling
in rhythm with mine.” I stretch my arm
around his middle, tell myself, “This
is his belly. It is benevolent.” I hear,
"Take this. It is my body, and it is good."

Katie and the Poet
By Curt Curtin

Isn’t he grand?
The man has such a way with words,
how they flow like god’s own thoughts
from somewhere you wouldn’t be likely to know.
And he does it all with bits of talk
scattered about like a cunning puzzle
instead of a thought you could get all at once.
It’s deep he is,
and learned in things you wouldn’t understand
any more than a goat in church.
Ah, but wasn’t that a grand poem he wrote,
full of words that I haven’t heard more than
twice in my life.
And he read it all with such wonderful feeling,
you’d swear to god he was a priest.
My Tim was making eyes all the while,
but I can tell you I was deeply moved.
The whole thing just flowed, like water over a bog,
a river of words and not a one of them too plain.
I wasn’t all that sure of his meaning, but
I get the drift, as they say of fog in the morning.
We shouldn’t be too proud, you see,
pretending to know all the deep things
a man like that could say.
Still, I wonder, does he talk that way all the time?
It must be a fine headache for his wife
to be always thinking,
what does he mean?and does he expect an answer?