Sunday, January 22, 2017

Bulgarian Poet Margarita Serafimova

Margarita Serafimova has published one book of poetry, "Animals and Other Gods", in the Bulgarian (Sofia University Press, 2016). Her second book, "Demons and World", also in the Bulgarian, is forthcoming in March 2017 (Black Flamingo Publishing, Sofia). Margarita is a human rights lawyer by profession. She wasn't trained in literature or creative writing. 

A eucalyptus is raging in the Athens noon.
Invisible wind, golden green waves.
A hot, full void.

 Poet Margarita Serafimova

I lived by the beautiful hills,
and each of my steps was up or down.
They were radiant.


Fine black eyes of a Swahili youth,
more ancient and sparkling than Arabia.
He is gently telling me that what I want is not there.


Time is approaching
on the sidewalk.
A cloud of white cherry petals.


A flock of gracious sea boats,
one with sails.
We are sitting at the dock like ancient children.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Poet Catherine Zickgraf

Catherine Zickgraf has performed her poetry in Madrid, San Juan, and three dozen other cities, but now her main jobs are to hang out with her family and write poetry. Her work has appeared in Journal of the American Medical Association, Pank, Victorian Violet Press, and The Grief Diaries. Her new chapbook, Soul Full of Eye, is published through Aldrich Press and is available at

Watch and read more of her poetry at


Much like a coffin this seems. But dreaming
of my banana bread baking here in this oven                         
reminds me I am alive, saving my memories,
these mornings folding laundry, baby asleep.
We’re hoping this, my fifth MRI will expose
my neuropathy displayed into panes of spine. 
Today I pose for photos I’ll show the experts 
in hope they’ll extinguish my burning nerves. 

I’m guitar strings that frayed along their way,
it was all those years I overstretched in ballet.                      
Such pain, this pain has me writhing, I suffer.   
I could die, my pain is incompatible with life.

Am I done? I am dead in the machine instead
of staying home to sow twirls of string beans.                                  

They slide me out where waiting is my sweet
husband, still so young. And he wheels me to
the front row parking lot for the handicapped.
Heading home, we count our day as progress.
Do you thrive out there celebrating your life?
I dream of dreams, of lost memories, lost life.
 Poet Catherine Zickgraf


The shadow of herself laid her down
but never woke her back up.  Then it
escaped like prayer through windows
into the night airs where fireflies hum
their nocturnes and lure each other in.
May punishment for sin never extend
to the faultless among us—youngsters
burying their mother should run freely
without her, flying like prayer, without
a burden, freed from all her complaints,
greed, a damned demand for resources.
But her shadow carries them when they 
fly like fireflies, to find their own peace.       

Writing/Writhing in Bed (a pantoum)

She dreams of rising to walk again,
been a year bedridden in writhing pain.
When days are long,
she retells her dreams to pass the time—
all this year bedridden in writhing pain.

Finding joy in the love of family,
she retells her dreams to pass the time—
she explores the story of futures within,       
finding joy in the love of family.

So when days are long,
she explores the story of futures within        
and dreams of rising to walk again.

I’m Done Having MRI’s

I’m done.
I’ve had three in three years—
limbs scanned for errors,
head checked in slices. 
Each test returned stamped
Results:  normal. 
But the thing is 
I’m not normal, I’m not.

I was 22, and my new husband
drove me to my second scan. 
I stretched out my legs in the back seat,
gulping coconut rum from a sprite bottle.
Give strong drink to those who are suffering.
At least give something—
the doctor prescribed Tylenol and exercise.

Entombment again in one position
would be too much,
my limbs channeling electric throbs,
my brain confusing the message. 
All of that pain came back as
Results:  normal.

The next year, still uninsured,
Mommom paid cash so they could
slide me again into their machine,
surge it like an oven, and call me well—
with Results:  normal typed on my carbon copy. 

I became a cane-walker a few months later,
then left law school soon after that
to go into a wheelchair. 
Though once I was a stretched-limbed dancer. . .
legs strong as trees,
planted soles and a planted soul,
with port-de-bras fingers sweeping the grass, 
. . . those parts burn in their tissues now. 
My head lags on its tired base. 
I’m afraid to walk, afraid of life,
afraid of more tests that say:  you’re fine. 

Filmed by Smyte-IX at The Rotunda, Philadelphia, June 2012


My muse is sick, beside himself.
He’s muted music, unchoosing his truths.
Shrinks are running loose in twos,
sorting his dreams for amusement.

He’s plugged into machines
that eat him insane,
they’re rejecting his reactions.
No drought of drugs
or escaping the trains—
their same collisions
are drawing the same blood
over and over and over.

Under a cold sun,
he waits without windows.
Chorded in a corner,
he copes in his crisis.
But behind his eyes,
he’s running wild,
shining inside the draining sky—
until a key unbolts his heavy door,
and they empty his mind
through the floor.

On the First Day of trump's Administration

Reports today indicated President trump will slash funding for both public radio and the National Endowment for the Arts. Funding for NASA and environmental studies science is also likely to be cut dramatically. As advocates for the disabled and mentally ill, we are alarmed by this, and also by the statements of incoming Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos that she will not insist that schools that receive public funding honor the provisions of the Americans With Disabilities Education Act.

One wonders what the impact on our culture and our society will be tomorrow when a man who began his campaign by claiming Mexicans were criminals and rapists, and ended with twelve women claiming he had sexually assaulted them, takes the most important job in the world. 

With millions of Americans willing to resist the legitimacy of his Presidency, will the decline be slow and inexorable, like in the Yeat's poem, or quick and devastating like a zombie movie?

"Our responsibility here has ended." 

Here at Outsider Poetry, we're not in danger of receiving any public grants anytime soon, and we're not expecting that any of our editors or contributors will be bowing to pressure to censor ourselves, so we won't be getting on the next helicopter and heading out to the nearest abandoned mall anytime in the forseeable future. 

One of our favorite responses to what will happen tomorrow was from comedian Patton Oswalt, who advised those who are feeling stressed: And then -- IF you can afford it -- go find a struggling theater company and pay to see whatever play they're putting on. Or a struggling art gallery or music club or museum. Leave 'em money and see what they're about. Go see an indie film that's got stellar reviews and no audience. Or a new restaurant or other small business that needs friends and customers. Download a new band. Go to an independent bookstore and buy something from a small press. Go to an open mike. Or see any comedian. Tip your barista or barkeep a little extra. Patton Oswalt

We'd of course recommend Zombie Logic Press if you're interested in supporting one of America's more audacious small presses. 

But aside from that, Outsider Poetry will be here as a voice for the creative community, the disabled, and the mentally ill. We won't be knuckling under to pressure to censor, no matter where it comes from.