It's not just style. It's brain patterning.

Emo, Meet Hole

Vol.54 Issue 03
Cover Artist: Carrie Marill
Cover of TLR's "Emo Meet Hole" issue, Spring 2010
Blue, blue, electric blue
That’s the color of my room
Where I will live
—David Bowie


Minna Zallman Proctor

Whether or not I associate emo (acute aesthetic sensitivity disorder coupled with a tendency to self dramatization) with poetry because Lord Byron is an off-cited progenitor or because my ex-poet-boyfriend liked Morrissey too much, the spectre of a brooding young man with wet eyes and disheveled hair looms quaintly over a certain tenor of literature … and exes, too. Much to my poetry editor’s dismay, I called for an emo-themed issue of TLR. My undergraduate interns thought it was hilariously apropos and everyone else thought I was speaking in tongues. And yet we moved forth. Renée Ashley rolled up her sleeves, set her jaw, and lurched intrepidly into the wilderness of whatever in the world I meant by emo poetry. Our fiction readers were equally bold, though (interestingly) with a lesser yield. Several months into plotting this issue we’d built up a lovely roster of brooding and devastating poems. I felt as if I were in eleventh grade again, swept up in a whirl of Tenax hair cream and horribly awkward embraces followed by tears, rivulets of boy eyeliner streaming over peach fuzz, or prebeard fuzz and beards. And then I remembered why things didn’t work out with my Morrissey poet.

And simultaneously remembered a moment from a lecture by H.L. Hix in which he described discovering the poetry of Frank Bidart. Or, misremembered, because in my feeble recollection I had Hix standing amongst the stacks, weeping with self-recognition over “Herbert White,” a poem about a child-murderer (“When I hit her on the head, it was good”)—when in fact the poem Hix had actually discovered was “The Sacrifice,” about a suicide (“Give me the courage not to need Judas”). Which nonetheless made me realize that emo without swagger is not complicated enough. And so we introduced Hole—unpretty but magnetic, abrasive, unaesthetic, even a little gross, but powerful. We brought all of these components together into the stone soup offered in these pages: harsh flowers, alienating love, remorseful pirates, some bloodshed, and Las Vegas.

Happy reading!


Table of Contents

Michael Morse
Void and Compensation (Poem as Aporia Between Lighthouses)

Michael Homolka
Thirteenth Birthday

Alex Lemon
Shakedown Machine
Om Nom

Susanne Kort

Charles Rafferty
The Man Who Enjoys Getting Blackmailed
The Man Waiting for the Lake To Still
The Man with a Boat at the Bottom of the Lake

Paul-Victor Winters
Interior Life
[Perhaps by comet.]

Adam Vines
Gauguin’s Bed

Michael S. Glaser
In the Men’s Room

John Kinsella
Harsh Hakea (or Elements of the Subject’s Will)


Christine Sneed
Roger Weber Would Like To Stay

Katherine Lien Chariott
These Foolish Things

Cam Terwilliger
Cherry Town

John Minichillo
Moe Tucker

Elizabeth Eslami
Yana Land


Tynia Thomassie
Gene and Roy: Pages from a Life Story

Anthony D’Aries
The Language of Men


Benjamin Hale
The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore
By J.D. Reid

Laura McCullough
Speech Acts
By Ryan Romine

Jena Salon
Bad Decisions

Joseph McElroy
Night Soul and Other Stories
By Jeff Bursey

Robert Cording
Walking with Ruskin
By Drew Calvert

Liza Bakewell
Madre: Perilous Journeys with a Spanish Noun
By Jessie Williams

Wiesław Myśliwski
Stone Upon Stone
By Stephanie Steiker

Alan Heathcock
By Marion Wyce

Mark Jarman
Bone Fires: New and Selected Poems
By Peter Gaines

Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly
All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics To Find Meaning in a Secular Age
By Charles Berret

Peter Mountford
A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism
By Gabriel Blackwell

The Shortlist

Luis Sepúlveda
The Shadow of What We Were
By Cassie Hay


Carrie Marill
“Newfoundland 7, 2007″
Gouache on paper, 13”x12”
© Carrie Marill, courtesy of 20×200

Emo, Hole . . . meet Crow! More particularly, Corvus hawaiiensis , or the Hawaiian crow. Carrie Marill’s moody painting featured on our cover is number seven of the Newfoundland series, which according to the artist depicts threatened or endangered flora and fauna “existing in an imaginary world.” Stacks of birds perched on other birds, or in bleak, skeletal trees and plants against pale-shaded or stark white backgrounds.

The images are detailed and delicate, reminiscent of classic natural history paintings, yet unnerving in their composition, lonely figures isolated on a deliberately absent background, possibly implying the ultimate isolation of extinction. Marill’s crow, with his black, whiskery-looking face and sad eye, is a particularly apt image for this issue of TLR , representing the gloomy yet menacing, overwrought and audacious. Grim stuff indeed—literature and mythology are peppered with these ebony-plumed harbingers of doom. From Poe (a certain ancestral father of emo) and his familiar midnight visitor, to the not-so-literary, eyeball-plucking biblical ravens (Proverbs 10:13), the genus Corvus has accumulated a dense resume of dark doings.

The bad rep is not altogether warranted. After delving into a few crow-facts, I discover the bird to be a surprisingly well-meaning and benign creature. (Did you know that crows can make and use tools; imitate the sound of the human voice; feed their old and weakened parents; and recognize themselves in a mirror?—they are the undisputed clever clogs of the bird world!) And in the hierarchy of smaller creatures I would rather not discover under the bed on a dark night, they fall well below snakes, giant spiders, bats, rats, and possibly a couple of my own ex-boyfriends. Still, Poe, Hitchcock, Shakespeare, the Brothers Grimm, and King Solomon chose the crow, in all its rapping, pecking, croaking, cawing, plucking, gory glory.

Oh, my talking bird
Though your feathers are tattered and furled
I’ll love you all your days
Till the breath leaves your delicate face.
(Death Cab for Cutie)

—Jody Handerson