The Puppet Wedding, by Gordon Faylor, reviewed by Clara B. Jones


Gordon Faylor
The Puppet Wedding
Smiling Mind Documents
Unpaginated (11 pages of text, ~32 lines per page)
50 pamphlets printed and distributed by author

Reviewed by Clara B. Jones


“I’m drawn to subversions of compositional requisites or genre.” J. Gordon Faylor (2014)

I suspect that readers will agree that some writers’ works are so stimulating and singular that the impulse to share them with others cannot be suppressed. J. Gordon Faylor (photograph—publisher and editor of the experimental literature house, GaussPDF) is, for me, one of those writers. In a previous review, I wrote that his novel, Registration Caspar (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2016), “is an extreme and extremely compelling tour de force of experimental literature in the tradition of ‘associative’ (and ‘collage’) writing and, possibly, long-form (‘epic’) poetry.” The Puppet Wedding, like Caspar, is a “transrational experiment” (Viktor Shklovsky), fulfilling Marjorie Perloff’s description of collage poetry whereby “each element in the collage has a kind of double function: it refers to an external reality even as its compositional thrust is to undercut the very referentiality it seems to assert.”

Collage writing, then, is a “mode of juxtaposition” or admixture of elements, often using words, phrases, sentences independently—not necessarily following logically from each other and not necessarily meaningful in any normal or expected sense as relations or whole compositions. Related to this, a- or anti-logical elements may surround sensible elements (“They’re not devoid of dependency, no matter how you’d/get that in your head? Leave it to the realist to succeed.”) These conventions remind one of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s formulation, “language games,” yielding writing that does not require context or proper grammar for meaning (“The ideal likeness is actually quite a few critical/projects and works by that likeness.”)

The Puppet Wedding is, ostensibly, the story of two “pups,” Pint and Brindy, characterized, like the text, itself, as non-binary and fluid. Like many experimental works, words, some with double meanings  (e.g., “puppet,” “gnat”), are repeated throughout the composition, creating referential integration and unity for the composition as a whole—in relation to fragments or parts chosen intentionally though, more or less, standing on their own.

“I knew, Brindy, I knew that the funny
thing about forgiveness
is that it’s only half me. We have to investigate our emotions
together. I don’t feel too detached from the
question of sloughing though posed that’s yours.”

Like the best collage poetry, upon first reading, a group of lines, or, even, a whole stanza, seem to cohere and to make sense; though, upon further reflection, don’t make formal [operational] sense at all. As advanced by postmodernists, the reader is in control of interpretation, and I spent a fair amount of time attempting to figure out who the poem’s narrator might be. Ultimately, I settled on the idea that they were the puppet-teer, an entity whose boundaries sometimes intersect with those of Pint and Brindy, a kind of “doubling” whereby the human (?) puppet-master’s anxieties and neuroses are projected onto inanimate, though, animated and “defamiliarized” dolls (“Theirs, that’s doubling/rule by perceiver independence…putatively gnatlike and transitory…,” “They look exactly like our kids…”). Throughout the text, Faylor provides direct and implied references to psychological (“perception-dependence”), including, Freudian (“sublimation,” “latent reality”) processes, suggesting to me that all of our actions (behavior, motor patterns) are symptoms of our divided selves. Like puppets and puppet-teers, we are never in control (“perceiving gnats’ and humans’ tendencies alike,” “I can’t give up our sensory-motorized world,” “pinched nerve after nerve by my conks”).

the reality which’ll play subtexter to your
sensory-motor system sans permission, slivers
rife with stimuli inert non-occult artifacts
for growing decrepitude.”


“Not a single living person can
deny their ground state breaking symmetrically
with the pups’ perceptive state, rooted in our memories
of childhood, of little kids playing people.”

In The Puppet Wedding and in Caspar, Faylor, demonstrates that he writes books to explore moral themes. In the pamphlet under review, puppets, as well as, their master, exist in a world that makes little sense. Though the puppet-teer’s milieu may be existential, they reach out to inform the reader that their identity is not one-dimensional: “I get to speak at weddings once a year.”—possibly a cri de coeur. In one of the few passages of the text that clearly advances a “message,” Faylor writes:

the foremost concussion of our world, your
world-puppet—human against human—
the subsumption of money to truth,
not only perturbs that lacking is me.”

These words may represent a moment of clarity for the puppet-teer, though they rapidly return to a world that is strange and difficult to make sense of. However, rather than conclude that The Puppet Wedding bears a nihilistic message or characterizes the future as hopeless, I prefer to think that I have been reminded by this complex and important composition that I must write my own future. I look forward to J. Gordon Faylor’s future work and other opportunities to perceive, in novel ways, experiences that may have become all too routine.


Clara B. Jones is a Knowledge Worker practicing in Silver Spring, MD (USA). Among other works, she is author of Poems For Rachel Dolezal, published in 2019 by GaussPDF.

Wen da hurricane come, by Joe Balaz

Wen da hurricane come
you going look at yourself differently

and da image of wun ant
going be impressed in your head.

All da trees going be bald

along wit da shrubs
and da fruit trees too

so if you nevah share
wit neighbors or friends

da big wind going even tings out.

Wen da hurricane come
you going hope dat you no get hurt

cause all da stuff dat going be flying around

not going care if you live in wun nice house
or wun moa smaller one.

Da telephone poles and wires
going be wun tangled mess

and broken glass going be everywheah

as rooftops across da land
get peeled away in da stormy frenzy.

Wen da hurricane come
you going realize how fortunate you wuz

in da previous years of near misses
wen nutting wen hit.

Foa sure in da day aftah da disastah
you going be standing in wun daze

wen you check everyting out.

Wen da hurricane come

Maddah Earth
going make you feel tiny and helpless

and you going wondah
why da hell she got so angry.

So no freak out
wen all da toys get tossed around

and all da sand castles crumble.

Wen da hurricane come
you going wish dat it nevah arrived.

Joe Balaz has created works in American English and Hawaiian Islands Pidgin (Hawai’i Creole English).
He presently lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and he is the author of Pidgin Eye

Five poems by Alisa Velaj


It’s so cold that breaths are freezing up,
pigeons are numb under roofs,
the mist o’er the snow mums in unbroken silence…

One bygone February, in Prague,
Hrabal had a vision of the most peaceful season,
while trying to feed the poor pigeons…
Then…cherubim simphonies blasted from heavens!

Hrabal     Hrabal     Hrabal
The 5th floor of the hospital echoed the knell
for the least fulfilling journey of the Man,
who melted frost away from guitar strings!

February 2019


* Bohumil Hrabal (1914-1997) – distinguished dissident Czech writer.


Translated from Albanian by Arben P. Latifi



– 1-

A diaphanous dawn stretches lazily over trees.
A blackbird, here and there, atop leafless branches.
The sky, on its part, pours on us bleaching light…

-2 –

Oh, long must we have slept under the red roof!
What the stars didn’t say, still reached us as hushed gossip.
– I’m all a magnolia flower, the girl whispers to her lover.
He scans her in thoughtful silence, a snowy silence.

– 3 –

– What’s that bird looking for while hovering on and on?
– The sunflower hidden somewhere unknown, my fir tree.
He then eyes the tree trunks and his beloved,
lets a flammea flower shoot out of his chest,
and marvels at her till the next sunset…

– 4 –

A sunflower, perhaps, in every blackbird’s mind.
A flammea, not only where it sprouts…
A dream that red roofs dearly miss. A flame blazing in a corporal cloud!


Translated from Albanian by Arben P. Latifi




It’s no surprise their eyes are startled. Snow flakes mingle with their manes. They look down for an instant and then throw a fixed, prolonged gaze at some pointless direction. Suddenly, one of them snorts and turns his eyes toward me. There is so much innocence deep inside them! Like the babies’ eyes trying to get accustomed to the light. The longer they look at you, the more peaceful those pupils grow! And I feel so ungrateful, when I think of the fire awaiting me at home, on the mountain peak. For I do have a holy fire that eternally waits for me. These creatures, instead, will remain lonely by the barren trees, subject to the empathetic sighting by travelers like me, which, after all, remains just casual sighting…



Translated from Albanian by Arben P. Latifi




The broad-shouldered man is indifferent to the snow.
He rules abandonment out by way of tunes.
Leaning onto him, his wife enjoys the organ music and winks.
They lull the woods and thaw the snow away…
Friends with the blackbird, afore and after her migration,
Migrant nomads of Dionysian blood they remain! 



Translated from Albanian by Arben P. Latifi





I never waited for love at sundown.
Pilgrims arrive, bulging with sorrows,
or nomads, often wandering purely at random…

Never did I wait for love at sundown.
Dusks and nights, one shouldn’t be allured
by bodies earlier unknown on the full map of light
(if it so happens, they’re merely fake lures).

On a narrow path, from a cliff behind firs,
I’ve watched for love like a blind man craves eyesight.
Ah, I know love’s whims!
It tends to steer away from flowery build-ups…


Translated from Albanian by Arben P. Latifi


Alisa Velaj was born in 1982 in Albania. She has been shortlisted for the Erbacce-Press Poetry Award in 2014. Her poetry have been published or are forthcoming in CultureCult Magazine, Stag Hill Literary Journal , The Quarterly Review, Orbis, The Linnet’s Wings, The Stockholm Review of Literature, Poetry Space Showcase, The Seventh Quarry, among other publications. Her poetry collection, With No Sweat At All, will be published by Cervana Barva Press in 2019.

Wen I Get to Heaven, by Joe Balaz

Wen I get to heaven

if I get to heaven

dey going give me
wun pair of wings.

Wen I have dem attached

I going soon find myself
in front of wun towering podium

wheah wun seraph
wit wun lawyer’s necktie

will begin to present
all of my devilish deeds.


On each reference

wun baldheaded cherub
smoking wun cigar

going come up behind me
and pluck out wun feather.


No doubt
wen my session is ovah

I’ll find myself

stuck on some isolated cloud
wit aerial nubs

watching everyone else
fly around in evahlasting bliss.


To make mattahs worse

even my harp strings
will be broken.


Wit such anticipated
good fortune

I would probably
be bettah off in hell

shooting craps
foa wun glass of watah.


Joe Balaz has created works in American English and Hawaiian Islands Pidgin (Hawai’i Creole English).
He presently lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and he is the author of Pidgin Eye

The Testimony of the Skaters and the Transcript on the Rink by Emily Martin, reviewed by Clara B. Jones


Emily Martin
The Testimony of the Skaters and the Transcript on the Rink
Gauss PDF

Unpaginated (16 pp)


Hinging outward and then turning in
Is it not a return to order
I will turn toward
I will not be able to help it
Passive voice as dream logic

Emily Martin (2019)

Many articles and books have been written in an attempt to describe and define “experimental” poetry. Victor Shklovsky’s 1917 manifesto, “Art as Technique,” remains one of the most influential statements on the subject. In his brief essay, the Russian Formalist stated, “The technique of art is to make objects ‘unfamiliar,’ to make forms difficult….” Emily Martin’s long-form “collage” poem, The Testimony of the Skaters and the Transcript on the Rink, is a worthy example of Shklovsky’s ideal. This young writer and teacher, living in Brooklyn, employs words, phrases, and sentences in juxtaposition to one another, generally, without necessary regard for formal, logical, or grammatical rules.

As a result, the chapbook provides a pastiche of images, rhythms, and “strange” formulations whose interpretation is wholly in the reader’s control. However, one cannot conclude that Martin’s elements are random events or that her “devices” are unintentional. In the epigraph to this review, for example, she employs more than one linguistic convention. In particular, Martin rarely uses punctuation, suggesting that the sentence or sentence-fragment, is incomplete or, perhaps, that some words have been erased. Further, she often capitalizes the first letter of the first word of fragments, as the Modernists, Wallace Stevens and John Ashbery, usually did, seemingly equalizing each line—even, one-word lines—relative to one another.

On the other hand, Martin varies her forms, sometimes composing in a traditional format and, at other times, featuring innovations, such as, white spaces and prose poems. Her language, however, never deviates from the experimental—in grapheme, morpheme, grammar, and syntax—conventions evident in the following segments:


A prairie, a scrim, a sliding door
Filling up footprints in the snow
I mean the decay of the mutual happiness of lovers
And the day returned as usual, in tears, and ready for the performance
And once again, the performance took place
The confessional text demands a judgment from the reader
Preface: Bibliographical…
……………………….. Metrical: Yes I I remember well our meeting,
When first thou dawnedst on my sight,
Jhttrotmrtion: Critical
…………….1. POETIC IDEAL.
at the acting of a Booth. Such art is of the highest, and is reached only through one

…and, several pages later, Martin writes,…
Winter bedroom
Forest by the railroad tracks
Puberty of grief
And then set out the frosting cake
……………………..I really like looking at your vacation pics
Hunting lodge
Preservation game
…………………….What do you like to do for fun?
Curing, smoking, salting, keeping alive
A hole burnt through the center of the frame
Crepe and uncrepe
Four grandparents in a bed
Lay a cupped hand on top of one another
You are a weeping stone
The thin dog becomes the road


Repetition, a device often associated with the Modernist poet, Gertrude Stein, is apparent within each fragment [“performance”], as well as, between them [“road”], though the segments are separated by a few pages in the text. The use of “white space” provides, not only, visual appeal, design, and complexity, but may, also, indicate erasure or may slow the pace of spoken or silent reading. Collage has its origins in Modernist visual art [Cubism, Dadaism, Surrealism]; thus, it follows that, in collage poetry, the representation of words on the page should be important to the writer, as they clearly are to Martin. Related to visual effect, Tristan Tzara spoke of a “cutup” writing style which Martin honors as indicated by the poem’s cover page reproducing a collage painting.

Speaking of “collage” poetry in 1998, critic, Marjorie Perloff, pointed out that, though it may appear otherwise, a “collage” composition may display “logical relations among elements,” such as, similarity, equivalence, dissimilarity, inequality, grouping, or association. Each of these features, binding the parts into a whole, can be found in The Testimony of the Skaters and the Transcript on the Rink by readers open to the surprises, novelties, rewards, and lessons of innovative writing. In Emily Martin’s new chapbook, “strange” devices and compositions provide exciting aesthetic experiences via emotion, sensation, image, and thought. I look forward to following this young poet’s career as she matures and expands her practice.


Clara B. Jones is a Knowledge Worker practicing in Silver Spring, MD, USA. Her chapbook, Poems for Rachel Dolezal, was published in 2019 by Gauss PDF.

An Orange for Christmas, by Mandy Pannett

As tenant of a land whose lease is shifting,
full of small print, I’ll opt for a simple hamlet
and live the life of a pebble instead of a rock.
Such simplicity, I hope, will bring in a puff
of clean, new air; no longer will dilemmas
multiply like spinach or split a shade of green

into a thousand hues. Mine will be a simple green,
not jungle-green or artichoke, not a bloom shifting
with swathes of algae on pools. No loaded dilemma
will find a spare room anywhere in my hamlet –
spiders and cobwebs will be gone in a puff.
My green will be seaweed, salty, crusted on a rock.

And consider Peter the Fisherman’s rock.
Will it prevail against hell’s gates? How green
he must have felt at cock-crow, self-image a puff,
a spit in the wind. A house of stone on shifting
sand must always sink, as Dunwich did, that hamlet
now under the sea. Can I really leave all dilemmas

behind, opinions that niggle my ear? Dilemmas
are tricky. In a Zen garden are fifteen rocks
but there’s always one out of sight. Ask Hamlet,
he knows how a man may smile and smile, be green-
lily livered and yet be a villain, how one may shift
a foot and perspective’s lost, crumbling like puff-

pastry, flaky and empty which is the nature of puff.
Confusion, airborne, covers the land. Dilemmas
reproduce their nuclei, divide from cells, shift
into semantics, take a moral stance, or, as rocks,
stiffen and will not budge. O my country, my green
island, how out of touch this hermitage, this hamlet.

A dream: Christmas. Gift of an orange. A hamlet.
Simple. (Simples, as the meerkat says). It’s a puffball
blowing away. To think otherwise is foolishly green.
It’s not a question of one egg or two, dilemmas
crash out of the basket, golden yolk spills on rocks
that hide a vicious edge. And everything goes on shifting.