February 17-23, 2020: Poetry from Mike Casetta and Leonard Kress

Mike Casetta and Leonard Kress

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Mike Casetta

Bio (auto)

Mike Casetta has one book of poetry entitled The Certainty of Looking Elsewhere. He has been published in many small presses.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Mike Casetta and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.


You Are Here

Soon there will
be more tattoos
on the planet
than people,
more ink on skin
than on paper.

We are already
reading each other
more than books
or newspapers.

I am thinking
of having
you are here
in blood red ink
over my heart.

I am thinking
if I indelibly
mark the spot
& leave
this permanent
to myself
I will not look
for you
somewhere else.




Leonard Kress

Bio (auto)

Leonard Kress has published poetry and fiction in Missouri Review, Massachusetts Review, Iowa Review, American Poetry Review, Harvard Review, etc. His recent collections are The Orpheus Complex and Walk Like Bo Diddley. Living in the Candy Store and Other Poems and his new verse translation of the Polish Romantic epic, Pan Tadeusz by Adam Mickiewicz were both published in 2018. Craniotomy appeared this summer. He teaches philosophy and religion at Owens College in Ohio. www.leonardkress.com

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Leonard Kress and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.


Kill the Buddha

sin like a madman
until you can’t do anything else

………..Ikkyu, 15th century Japanese poet

We are looking at a 12th century
Chinese painting, The Six Persimmons,
floating, it seems, in a stupendous calm.
Our teacher is Italian, Brooklyn-bred,
World War II sailor, connoisseur of cannoli,
who could croon like Sinatra in the dying
moments of class, and foxtrot out the door
in wingtips. We sit in the back, my friend
and I, devising trip-ups and traps.
Others in the front and middle, heads twirling
like turrets, discharge hushes at us.

He was a disciple, the only American
at the time, of the great Zen
aesthetician Hisamatsu. “Nothing
by Michelangelo comes close
to these persimmons,” he submits, “not
the tortured soul– but asymmetry, simplicity,
naturalness, wizened austerity, the work
of a tranquil, untrammeled mind.”
We know he’s describing a self-portrait
and at the same time deriding us.
We despise our classmates for wallowing
in their veneration.

Later he quotes from Ikkyu—That stone Buddha
deserves all the birdshit it gets
, as he eyes
a girl in the front row, continuing,
I wave my skinny arms like a tall flower in the wind.
But Ikkyu, we point out, frequented brothels;
my friend shouting, quoting—Ten years
of whorehouse joy and now alone in the mountains…

(We are both zealots of virtue.)
And here he is, our professor, passing
himself off as the true man without a title,
the awakened Self—in the classroom
off Broad Street, and we, mere shadow
selves, dense, plodding, fatuous, always
on the verge of harming self and others.

We haven’t heard yet from my friend’s girlfriend,
how he’d gently ease her into his office,
shut the door, peal her backpack from both
shoulders and press her down to the floor
atop stacked newspapers, cracked open
library books, and fragile–yellowed
with a rash of foxing–Japanese scrolls.