Sounding our barbaric YAWP over the roofs of Baltimore since 2000

Zelda's Inferno exercise: my father's Vietnam story

Zelda's Inferno exercise: write about things you've learned about other people's actions, that affected you deeply.

my father doesn't talk much
about his time in Vietnam
(he always just says "overseas",
almost never names the place)

for him I think it was
mostly boredom
an AP, he mostly kept drunk airmen in line and
walked patrol around the perimeter of the base

but on his 60th birthday he told me a story I'd never heard before

on his way home, in transit but still in country
waiting for a connecting flight, he and a buddy having a few beers
stepping outside

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"All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace"

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace
by Richard Brautigan

I like to think (and
the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
programming harmony
like pure water
touching clear sky.

I like to think
       (right now please!)
of a cybernetic forest
filled with pines and electronics
where deer stroll peacefully
past computers
as if they were flowers
with spinning blossoms.

I like to think
       (it has to be!)
of a cybernetic ecology
where we are free of our labors
and joined back to nature,
returned to our mammal
brothers and sisters,
and all watched over
by machines of loving grace.

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from "I" to "we" in tough times

If you haven't read John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, you oughta. Not just because it's a great book, but because it might be the best way to understand the current political climate, where the investment classes use astroturf movements, big lies, and media manipulation to prey on the fears of working people and actually get them to argue against their own interests, to set the ordinary citizens fighting each other so that they will be too busy to throw off the aristocrats and parasites. The one-percenters read Steinbeck's warning and took it to heart:

Here is the node, you who hate change and fear revolution. Keep these two squatting men apart; make them hate, fear, suspect each other. Here is the anlage of the thing you fear. This is the zygote. For here "I lost my land" is changed; a cell is split and from its splitting grows the thing you hate -- "We lost our land." The danger is here, for two men are not as lonely and perplexed as one. And from this first "we" there grows a still more dangerous thing: "I have a little food" plus "I have none." If from this problem the sum is "We have a little food," the thing is on its way, the movement has direction. Only a little multiplication now, and this land, this tractor are ours. The two men squatting in a ditch, the little fire, the side-meat stewing in a single pot, the silent, stone-eyed women; behind, the children listening with their souls to words their minds do not understand. The night draws down. The baby has a cold. Here, take this blanket. It's wool. It was my mother's blanket --take it for the baby. This is the thing to bomb.This is the beginning -- from "I" to "we."

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Zelda's Inferno exercise: Fells Point Sunday Evening, June

Zelda's Inferno exercise: write an observational poem

Fells Point Sunday Evening, June

I already forgot about the smell of cigarette smoke -- only now, sitting outside at cafe tables, must I breathe it again

Band up the street, someone overplaying guitar on bar music classics

Every few minutes, someone walking a dog goes by

Bits of three different conversations, outdoor cafe table conversations, things that somehow would not be spoken of indoors. My brain tries to string the fragments together into one story, does not succeed

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Zelda's at the PIB "Workshopping Extravaganza"

This weeks Zelda's takes a field trip. From our good friend Julie Fisher at

Reminder & Directions: Sunday, April 5th Workshopping Extravaganza

Join Zelda's Inferno, Ransom Note Poets and Follow the
Buffalo for a Workshop Extravaganza to celebrate National Poetry Month. You are welcome to join us starting at 3PM. The workshops will begin at 5PM. After the workshops come readings, an open mic and a bonfire. Bring food and drink to share. We might do some other fun stuff with film and interviews but that is a surprise!

20930 Millers Mill Road
21053 Freeland, MD

Back to The Daily Grind

Wow, it's been a while since we updated the site - sorry!

Zelda's continues. We now meet at The Daily Grind, 1720 Thames Street in Fells Point. Still 7-ish p.m.

Zelda's Open Mic at 2640

Zelda's Inferno Poetry Collective is proud to announce that on Tuesday January 29th we will be hosting a poetry open mic at 2640 St Paul. The mic will begin at 7pm.

Set lengths will be determined by the number of people who will sign up. People are welcome to come and play acoustic music, please bring all of your own gear.

If there are any questions e-mail We hope to see all of you there!

The recap:

  • When: Tuesday January 29th starting at 7pm
  • Where: 2640 St Paul St Baltimore, MD
  • What: Open mic for poetry and acoustic music
  • Suggested Donation: $5

All donations go to the operating costs of 2640, please be generous in order to keep this beautiful space going.

How to make and use a Universe Deck

For those who found last night's exercise interesting, some notes on the Universe Deck.

Making a Universe Deck

The Universe Deck comes from an exercise by Linnea Johnson in Behn and Twichell's The Practice of Poetry.

Take a pack of 100 index cards. A pad of Post-It size notes works too, but index cards are easier to shuffle. A bunch of old business cards would work too, if you can write on the backs, i.e. not too glossy.

On each card, write a word, as follows:

August 19 - the Universe deck

Our exercise for August 19 will involve creating a "Universe Deck", as described here.

Please bring a pack of 100 index cards if you can. (A pad of Post-It size notes works too, but index cards are easier to shuffle. A bunch of old business cards would work too, if you can write on the backs, i.e. not too glossy.)

Sun, Aug 19 - Robin Gunkel and Karla Mancero at Minas

Our good friends Robin Gunkel and Karla Mancero read at Minas, August 19, 4 p.m, part of the Maryland State Poetry and Literary Society's "Third Sunday" series. Open mic follows.

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