4 poems from Robert Frede Kenter in Avalanches in Poetry

(c) Geoffrey Wren

this is how you disappear (for Leonard Cohen)

Going on about the hinge in the door
The monkey and the bow
A suit of plywood etc.
I'll never forget how you sewed
the undone memories of world war
into the inlay of buttons
Fingers in movement towards the cobblestones

Confessions in a window of suitcases
An army-navy store in Halifax
A textile factory on the Plateau

All dressed in black
My lurid nightmare is in red
Cluster the notes in a heart beat

The children will all
wood-shed the tears
of Mount Royal
by record's end

Coughing Up Blood

Your beauty is a sharp razor
A Gershwin ballroom rhapsody
rising to the occasion in revolt
A need to taste defeat in each embrace.
There are smiles on everyone's lips
while neon signage paints the rain
in unmitigated post war hues.
Night is being rearranged
in red and white and blue
a thoroughbred coward
from a window shouting
the cue is turned to snow.
A chorus of iris is a choral choker of orchid clouds
Drop kick the silent cinema's Cossack mezzanine.

Rimbaud at the Paris Commune

I could only hope for the issuing of treason from binding
ground. collecting insurance from the house of whitest 
america is the fortress of gloom. beyond the grace of
transcendence, a white gloved hand carries a banner
a pale bird receding on hallowed ground.   from hallways
from meeting places by train-tracks they are leaving
a careless, a gentle careless caress.  gorged in the
brightest armour, with a wardrobe of wounds, carrying this
banner of wonderment.  i claimed the territory upon which
i stood.
i could only  hope for the hope treason brings,
like a message/ a message of desire

The Healer

I am a healer
I have healed many wounds in my time
with a magic wand
and a black Stetson hat
I healed
the wounds of poets and statesmen
with dark amber potions and herbs
I healed the painters of houses
with canvas bags of secret wines
I healed the scars of hatred
on the back of Montgomery Street
with a needle and thread and scissors
I starved the healer
whose cane was crooked
and dropped him into a pit
I filled the abyss with dirt
and stitched it up with rain
I walked along the avenue
and was prayed to 

 An Interview with Robert Frede Kenter of Icefloe Press 

 4 poems by Robert Frede Kenter published in Fevers of the Mind Press Presents the Poets of 2020

Poems from New Disease Streets from David L O’Nan published on Icefloe Press (some repeats)

The Algebra of Broken Mirrors

A new fix began from the frail rusted sun
In the sky hanging on by tilted screws
We become broken in shards from the heavenly mirror
On the ground put us back together with foamy tape
To put us back together in ragged equations.

The years of alcohol hooked them into the pivot of a tornado.
And they watched the hills move in waves –
Ast the windows break like the many bottles.
Oh, by the banks of the splitting rivers
Where the old men lived young & the young men lived death.

The soldiers were introduced as tawdry
Introduced as cash for blood.
All the war voices unite in the thunder
They cried bleed for me!
Will you march to the prophecy?
Of course you will.

Many drowning faces shallow looking up from the clear
The waters filthy through their ghosts
The cuts sting my torso,
The cuts bathe in my brain
My soul is lipped up into the wounded world as they battlecry
The God is the dove on your war torn shoulder.

The red stirs into a light pink
Over my wrist as the funeral fades
An old laughter, as well
In my paint, I see the once sparkling stars

I want to step out of the pain
And watch the ponies again
To trollop in the rain
Stuck in this exclusion
To silence the lightning
In the mud, I wish to dance in
When the earthquakes begin to disease us
And the fires wave into our pieces of translucent exponents
Our skins begin to blend
The cameras record the pulling crust.

I’ve remained nameless,
But never boneless
Never this defeated, bloodless
As another day circuits that sun
That lives in starvation.
Tearless,
Holding an empty cup
Begging for moonlight.

Suicide 20/20: A Basket of Fruit


Let us all, stand by our baskets of fruit
That the rain and sunlight bathed out for us to dine.
I want to leave aside the sidewalks that burn
I want to wash away the pain that lives in my wrinkles.

I want the depressants to live behind the veils
And watch the birds fly from North to South and back again.
I want the suicide to climb back over the fence
While I think about the comfort of skin
While I blanket my mind with the thoughts of sweet breath.

Leave a war-cry
Echo back in the canyons
That I shall never want to see again
Leave the glass bottles on the edge,
To never feel the wind tip them over the ridges.

I want to remain by this fruit basket
To close my eyes
And reunite me with the loves that hold me
In tenderness, they have passed
I feel them again, my tears must obey
I must obey to put those bottles away.

And live for the saccharine.

Suicide 20/20: In a Shoebox


The cold floats over my dying energy
Shedding the ghosts from my skin
My breath has a left a sticky gloss –
Over the plastic thin shoebox windowpane.
My last breath in the stained carpets of poverty.

The wind tunnels through the apartments
Like a storm, like a voice
That rips through my eardrum
They whisper the suicides to me
Like the embracing kiss of all seven archangels
To greet God in the corner
Behind the burning candles
That attempt to save me

My hands are clammy
And the shadows are already in unison to dance
Dance my freedom away
From this plane
From the rags of this old shoebox
The conquering of another peasant.

…And I Will Burn Down the New Circus


We are given mystery and surprise as soon as the infant’s eyes –
See or feel.
As scrawny as the sky may be,
Or as fully as its belly of grey hovers over us.
We become weightless pebbles,
Like ants stuck in sand on this Universal birth.

Evolving Constables, dictatorship, mind control, slavery, to us
The baby, the humanity, the humble, the wise
Candle wick lit in the clouds.
Ready to light a new birthday to a new regime.

The same, old regime?

In the sand is the answers

Do we dig?

Afraid of finding more of our unspoken sins.
Illuminate circus of wonders with crackling whips,
And loud voices begging for the attention to their destruction and let them –
Vilify,
For they are the ringmaster,
And they need such a lush red coat.

In the sand is the answer,
To the fossils of many sacred bubbles
That burst.
From the ocean waves.

Across these clouds,
The angels once in tears
Fanning in new funerals
Sending out new invitations.
Statues and monuments dreamt up the old circus
Falling Angels in Rolls-Royces created the new circus.
While the old circus crumbled,

I say we burn down the new circus.
Scrape away the ashes,
Cascade in a wash of blues
Chroma in the pigmentations of all that is blue,
Is pure
Drain all the pain from the diseases
That turned us into flightless birds.
We can coalesce as humanity again.
And feed these devils to the termites
That eat away at the wooden hearts of ringmasters.

Our circus isn’t a circus at all.
It is a parade, for everyone
It shall be a sharing,
A puncturing of the death toll.
We will become the fuel for this Earth.

And we will no longer be weightless,

The Earth shall be full of our fruits and thought.

And not have to live scraped off into the gutters of the galaxy.

Precautionary Nightingales


Was I awake to slit the wrists,
Only to finally find charisma?
The shy boy is just some ghost
When dawn flies into your psyche
The precautionary nightingales knows
The moon from a genuine fake at 6 a.m.
Every eyelash to a broken wing
A crusted, dry, cold flight of winks.

My dreams are an asylum
Not to rest peacefully
The skating on the thin ice that lines my veins.
Tremors in the belly
Jump off the arching cliffs of my brain.
The fires from flower to flower
Weave me into the flash of foolishness.
Unnatural photos
I’m an underlying flesh of bruises
Imperfect and limping.
Transform me to a hungered wolf
With a brittle bite and blood showing from the bone.

In the molasses of snow that chews on the mountains
Watch a radical metamorphosis from –
Death to the fighter – to the hero
When waking up to the survival of self
The wind shifts so quickly back and forth
In this cemetery hurricane.
All the flies die off in the swarming over the temptations we breathe.

Listen to the Bones Breathe


You stare like Manson at the clocks,
Trying to stop time
And just pause amongst the crickets to –
Listen to the bones breathe.

You could be nude, and in the rapture
The sweating of ice drips from the bridge
You look at the sun deflate into the arms of the valley
Peel back all the layers to see more bricks inside.
You don’t hear laughter, or even a hunger pain
All you feel is the freezing lips of air smack your skin,
Digest my disease
And listen to the bones breathe.

You don’t seem like a savior, or
A pretending lord
You seem like a fading rattlesnake
And we just watch you turn gray and shake
Convulse your milk from the pipes in sheets
Dance like a ghost you coward
And then break apart, and erode with a thousand nights.
Watching over,
And listen to the bones breathe.

You watch my death as attentive,
As you are to a movie.
You love like the fossils that are fresh
And then creation ceased a million miles before
A collision of all the heavenly lights
They sprinkle down and the world said “more please”
You can’t please the sadist and the sweet
Only a chirp of spirit emits.
When you listen to the bones breathe.

Poseurs with Precision


When it is time to save the night,
You hide in your gatherings of sacred stones,
In the buildings to talk to him.
But you have no battleplan.
Paper religions,
Not willing to sacrifice yourself to poverty.
Not willing to sweep the dying humanity up,
And protect them with the heart and breasts.

The cowardly talk,
And they can sound so fluid with some bravado.
Breaking inside,
You can fight the weak, and tell them to join the inferno.
The waves of the sick are among you,
While you listen to Satan’s whispers from the television screen.
And you leave the malnourished weak-boned,
Starving, and praying to the one thought you can’t complete yourself.
You’re one of the poseurs with precision.

https://icefloepress.net/six-poems-from-new-disease-streets-by-david-l-onan-w-a-digital-collage-by-robert-frede-kenter/

Meet the Fevers of the Mind WolfPack Pt 1: David L O’Nan & HilLesha O’Nan

5 poems from David L O’Nan in Icefloe Press : “I Hope All is Well In Utah” “They Met in Prussia” “The Hills Have Blindsides” “I Honored You in Pennyrile Forest” “A Walk in Whistler’s Woods”

Robert Frede Kenter (c)

I Hope All is Well in Utah

I am thinking of you in Utah
making Salt Lake shadow puppets
in a Jesus sunset
on a sand dune writing poetry,
an architect with a blueprint.

There you are, complaining about something.
Red ants try to ruin your vision
equivalent to designing the Vienna Court Opera House,
the curtains have cast you nomadic for years.

Are you industrial, are you in Pittsburgh?
Are you pulling scorpions from your feet?
Have you purged the shaking?
Electric chairs still spit sparks.

Do you preach to the Scientists?
Do you carbonate religion in Ogden Salts?
To sell them all for the bottle
on the mountains, watching tiny people fly,
watch the leap before the canvas cracks.

Simple crowds move like
depressive black bears into resorts.
Is it psychedelic, do you hear tremoring bottle clanks –
that sound like Edith Piaf’s voice trapped inside?

La Vie En Rose through coyote howls.
Silence of your heartbeats
from distances, thousands of miles.

I don’t hear, don’t feel any longer.
Divisions of madness
has left us in soiled clothes
or beautifully, in a yell at some bash,
in black heels and fedora hats.

Now in Provo, at least you say,
“But your mouth can be a liar.”

Your kisses can be deceitful,
your train stop receipts reflect it.
You are trying to save us all while holding a noose.
You dive time and time again
through the clouds of glass and roses.
This early morning letter resonates,
and I feel a shave of breath leave my lungs,
“Because I don’t know.”

Are you a scream from a Joshua Tree?
A kite flying high in the hands of an angel’s drop?
I hope all is well in Utah,
because here we are all costume parties
searching for the autograph
of the imperial circus.

They Met in Prussia

A harlot eyes in the gas
of Rock
in tiny speckled jewels,
a calm scream woke the territory.
Monarchies aligned in pockets,
love was bait.
Two impish waif darlings
met in Prussia
as regimes began clashing
and rules began changing.
Their hands seemed to align perfectly
and they saw Warsaw spin its stomach.
Then the Nazis
ate holes through the pump
and towns became warzones
and their love was constant hiding
from dangers and the dare to be discreet.
They met in Prussia,
their hearts united in blizzards,
in sacrificial stabbings,
in choking chambers.
I want you to remember them as soulmates,
Not how they were when they met the scavengers.

The Hills Have Blindsides

A flock of hideous birds float through wind.
I feel these crows in shriveled fur,
their flight, an old man’s crippled slur.
They congregate together
cross-eyed and angry
to yell from the diaphragm,

Your rebellion is based on ignorance.

These were feathers from the same war
all brewed up steam together
before peace became a relevant idea.
In caskets, they lay
all purpled – in art
waiting for someone to dance and sing –

with the bells ringing from their heart.

After all the diseases sink in their talons
then gnashing and biting begins.
When the prettiest star waves you in
to meet God or the jealousies of all sins,
they roll up those hills to see clarity.
The problem is all the darkness
is not within your peripheral understanding.
The hills have blindsides,

when you’re looking for Jesus,
                                                        when you’re looking for Jesus

I Honored You in Pennyrile Forest

They had always thought of us like twins
though we were only schoolmates, best friends through the years.
We were seekers of adventure,
hospital visits were constant.
You drove your Honda bike in supersonic speeds down the Kentucky hills,
we dated the same type of girls,
smoked our first cigarette on a cloudy day on slabs of rock in Pennyrile Forest,
coughed and lightly choked up breakfast.
We laughed, and then graffitied a tractor,
long talks about all the assholes,
Your dad, the bullying step brother, the fiends that stay hidden.

We rest against the fading red barn,
as skies phlebotomized heavy rainfalls,
washed the stains of paint to our dirty clothes.

You tell me you wished you had the faith
like your Mother, or your stillborn sister.
You look into a sewer grade full of empty penicillin bottles, and cry on my shoulder.
Lightly punching my chest,
picking up branches, we swipe at blackberries and mushrooms.

Hey, John do you ever feel dead in your heart, do you feel religion?
Before I could answer, an ADHD distraction,
we take interest in the red cardinal family sipping worms by the puddles.
I say, You know I am ashamed, I’m a child really, but now they want me to be a man, they want me to be a soldier.
Tammy Applegate is pregnant, and the claim is I’m the father.


Your mistakes, when you think you love more than just skin, leads you to a
duplication of yourself.
I stutter myself to more tears,
You know I walk in to enlist in the Army for my dad and broken Country.
Maybe we will be honored kings and not poverty princes with angry children full of questions.

Bad decisions follow me like a fiend,
like fiends that followed you, John.
I am not guaranteed the beauties of Lake Barkley.
I am war crippled stem-to-stem,
a man of many divorces, a daughter that never knew my face.
I heard that you lingered for years through all of our drifting footprints.
Our stick mud people broke apart like sand crystals.

And I heard your family came and went,
diseases took your loves, the fire took your shelter.
All the bullies faded, except fiends that lived in your shadows and brain.
You must have been terrified on those lightning-lit nights, heavy rainfalls drown
you up to your waist.
Your hair now long, stringy, and all the red cardinal families sick of worms.

Pennyrile Forest was your only hint of escape
from another’s prayer echoed from barns to wells to skin off lost love.
Fine, I will welcome my sentence,
plagued to mistakes,
you didn’t have choices.
You inherited the appetite of derailment in the tracks of your lonely heart.

As I’m throwing pebbles, cutting loose bark with a lancet,
I hear you took your life in the forest to escape fear.
I run out to see clouding skies.
I run to those woods, through wild turkeys, ferns, the ballet of squirrels around
acorns.

I see laying alone on the ground,
a wet naked note that fell from the hemorrhage of a final breakdown.
It said I loved you like a twin, that note blew away,
attaching itself to that now grayish barn.
On the ground lay a cross inside an aperture.
A wet leaf lays a freshwater pearl, in piles of disaster
dry sturdy green wood.

And I know what I must do.
I have never been much of a man.
My molars never seemed to line up.
Criminal, a deadbeat dad,
barely able to walk on foot,
I have never been much of a carpenter, never had to assemble much without
direction.
But, my friend, for you I create a Memorial Bench,
and hope that they don’t destroy,
to honor you in Pennyrile Forest,

A family of red cardinals.
Rest without stale hunger, for evermore.

A Walk in Whistler’s Woods

I can feel fog on my tongue
eyes watching me from distorted trees
the feet crippling in mud-sips
cutting glassy gravel.
I can breathe in phantom’s dances
while the unknown is whistling in the woods.

The chill bites my skin.
Feeling as thin as death allows
my prayers are endless, as the path
continues to squeeze me in
closer to the lake.
My reflections float
without my body, just flowing clothing
clogged in ripples.
Whistles like radar
lead me to paper cups of wine
sitting still for the wind.
A waterfall of poisons for me to drown in.

The whistler gorges in spirits
and leaves the woods bare, the bells of rapture toll.
In the mute silence
the art of earth, are crumbled sticks
Whistler’s freedom revoked.

bios:

Meet the Fevers of the Mind WolfPack Pt 1: David L O’Nan & HilLesha O’Nan

https://icefloepress.net/2020/03/03/five-poems-by-david-o-nan/

An Interview with Robert Frede Kenter of Icefloe Press

Please describe your latest book, what about your book will intrigue the readers the most, what is the theme, mood?


Robert: My last book was Audacity of Form (2019). It was published by Ice Floe Press. It emerged out of late-night conversations with New-Orleans based photographer Julia Skop, who was the main caregiver for her sister, a well-known New Orleans dancer, Sara, then dying of cancer. The poem(s) and prose pieces, with a pastiche of Julia’s photos, and drawings by Toronto-based artist (and Ice Floe Press logo designer, Cathy Daley), evolved through 32 transformations. It was published in the summer of 2019 and is composed of two intersecting suites that deal with illness, love, friendship, family history, travel, grief, New Orleans, performance and music, working class economics, the Katrina Flood, and other elements. The book is designed as a series of set pieces and is an amalgam of poetic fragments/narratives.
Currently, I’m continuing work on a multi-sectional, (likely) multi-volume exploration of family histories which will deal with various sides of my family (whether it be Bobby, the carnival-circus performer, junkie, and cousin from Detroit, or reflective landscapes examining my European-Jewish ancestors, the relations between my parents & what I call “Mayhem” poems, dealing with my father etc.). The work is a multitude of voices and image-dense narratives, what a colleague of mine has described as, “a chorus of radical Jewish consciousness and layered imaginings, alternative versions of a Diaspora culture.”

What frame of mind & ideas lead to you writing your current book?


Robert: The work emerges out of narrative and out of fragments. It’s a searching landscape of violence, beauty, and expansiveness of dislocation and alienation, the amplified noise of displacement and its distortions. The historical journey of exile and Diaspora, intimate and intricate in interiority, was persistent growing up in a family where a swirling intensity of mental and physical abuse and illness and marginalization and isolation melded to rich vagaries of attenuated storytelling. Breathless is the search for naming. In geographic wandering, displacements contextualize and make sense of the mournful & the ineffable.

How old were you when you first became serious about your writing Do you feel your work is always adapting?


Robert: Seriously, I have a little flipbook I wrote when I was age 6. It was a story, Horses on Venus, that turned into a wild classroom recess improvisational game with my other outlier pals 😊. When I was about 12 to13-years-old, I was blown away by Allen Ginsberg. I went to see him perform at a local university, and around the same time, I saw an early Leonard Cohen concert, half music, half poetry reading. I used to read at local cafes & hung out with theatre-workers, Vietnam draft-dodgers in the little industrial city where I grew up. In early poems, I wrote odes to the polluted red sky of a town whose economic heart was immersed in the manufacture of steel. I wrote eco-poems about a love affair with a backyard tree, then mourned its death. I’ve always listened and gathered up what’s around me, and my work always changes. Some of the earliest pieces I’ve written, I’m just sending out now.
David, you published a couple of them in the beautiful Avalanches tribute to Leonard Cohen. One of them is “Song of a Healer.” I try different things, and right now feels like a very invigorating time in the world(s) of poetry. I’m very happy and feel grounded, blessed to be part of new emerging communities exploring poetics with an emphasis on discourses of radical change, rooted in vision and emotion. It is another reason I re-animated Ice Floe Press which had an iteration in the early 1990s when I got together a crew to put out Women Writing: An Anthology, a chapbook of NYC-based women poets involved in a curated reading series that included Kimiko Hahn, Cheryl Clarke, Pamela Sneed, Cheryl Boyce Taylor, and many others. We had a great packed launch in NYC at the Nuyorican Poet’s Café. In those early days I also published a book of stories by working-class NYC-based writer Ernie Brill, and a prose poem by then-emerging Canadian poet, Margaret Christakos.
Now, Ice Floe Press Managing Editor Moira J. Saucer and I are publishing amazing poets with world-wide platforms – from Nigeria, Ghana, USA, Canada, UK, Syria, Europe, on and on. I’ve found that the poetry communities on Twitter are rich, vibrant, and totally engaged, and many are carving out expressive spaces, joyful, celebratory, confrontational and aesthetically expansive. These new scenes are doing a great job of breaking down some of the old hierarchies, inducing a carnivalesque energy of DIY that is very exciting, despite the many dire things going on in the world from proto/fascism to the Anthropocene. All of it, of course, being interrelated.

What authors, poets, musicians have helped shape your work, or who do you find yourself being drawn to the most?


Robert: Oh, there are so many. Music encompasses a universe of possibility, joyful to write to. Whether its Texas-swing, ‘free-jazz’, atonal, orchestral, garage, field recordings, Northern Soul, Tex-Mex, African High-Life, No-Wave, etc. I like textured, complicated, beautifully realized, immersive music. Through listening – and at some points, involvement in music-based projects — I access the wonders of lyric, voice, breath, and sound, both recorded and live, soundscapes spark new ways of feeling and understanding; the embodied, kinesthetic, the numinous. In the musical pantheon, my go-tos include John Cale, Velvet Underground, Monk, Ornette Coleman, Count Basie, Louis Jordan, Nina Simone, the Ellington Orchestra, Biber, O.V. Wright, Sun Ra, Louis Jordan, Chopin, Coltrane, Dylan, Willie Nelson, Johhny Cash, the Carter Family, Nono, Billie Holiday, The Roots, The Animals, William Parker, John Cage, Brotzmann, Lighting Hopkins, Mark Lanegan, etc. (I could go on and on and on.)
With regards to writers, again, I don’t know where to begin: whether poets, novelists, essayists, hybrid creators, I like being immersed in highly textured writing. In our lifetime of the modern, post-modern, the apocalyptic, I contemplate the works of Celan, Brecht, Anne Waldman, Ngugi, Bulgakov, Virginia Woolf, Erin Moure, Adonis, Kamu Braithwaite, Don Mee Choi, Phil Hall, Amos Tutuola, Whitman, Olson, Burroughs, Genet, Nicole Brossard and Fred Wah, for starters. Again, I could go on and on.

What other activities do you enjoy doing creatively, or recreationally, outside of being a writer, and do you find any of these outside activities merge into your mind and become parts of a poem?


Robert: There are a range of activities that all seem to be part of a circular returning. Art making, reading, exploring visual art, taking photos. I’m all about gathering, listening, and weaving, the haunted, joyful, the juxtapositions and hybrids. And, when I can, I like to run. It depends on my energy at any given time in the cycle of living with ME/FM.

Tell us a little about your process with writing. Is it more a controlled or a spontaneous/freewriting style?


Robert: I often write in the middle of the night, i.e. two hours uninterrupted by hand on notebook paper. The images develop in narrative and associational patterns. From this process, I’ll engage in a long revision period until the piece(s) acquire voice and story and approximate a kind of musical-notational score. I return to older work, revisit, rewrite, incorporate, scatter, and coalesce. The work is performative – it comes out of body-physicality-and-memory.

Are there any other people/environments/hometowns/vacations that have influenced your writing?


Robert: Wow –I have always been ‘a traveler’. My goal though is not endless ‘movement’ from place to place, but focused and extended time in a locale of choice or circumstance, whether NYC, London U.K., Berlin, Los Angeles, Toronto, Montreal, Missoula, Montana, etc. The idea is also to ‘do’ something else there (work on a project, take some sort of ‘undetectable ‘job’ (ha that sounds like a radioactive half-life) that enables me to survive. There have been actual ‘travel’ writings as well, long cross-continental bus odysseys that are also generative.
People I’ve known and know, participate in the realization of my inner world and the parallels between the creative, the actual and the transformational. I engaged in the kind of ‘transformational’ world idea in my studies in theatre, esp., in the experiences I had studying with the Talking Band and the Wooster Group in NYC, many lifetimes ago. My sense of urgency, that poetry emerges out of witness and coalesces around community, prepares me for the silent and engaged relationship I have with performance. The shape and dynamics of the page and my inspired connection to my ancestors are all intersecting aspects that propel me, always grounded in a physicality, whether of possibility or pain, of rest and meditation. My visual art also feeds into my working process: whether it is drawing, photo-based digital work, VISPO, or painting, at some point, they all ricochet and are centrifugal to each another.
And somehow, I hope, we bring that informed sensibility to our work at Ice Floe Press.

What is the most rewarding part of the writing process, and in turn the most frustrating part of the writing process?


Robert: I have had a few periods in my ‘writing’ life where I simply was unable to write, or I didn’t know what I was writing, where it was going, or why. I guess those are periods of dormancy and transition. That’s not true these days so much. Ever since I was hit by a streetcar in Toronto, in 2014, I’ve been on a more steady roll of focused ongoing production, whether my own personal work, or working to re-centre Ice Floe Press and help create a space for a new generative community, an international family of artists who I hope find an engaging, interactive, non-alienating locale that is inspiring, a proximal zone for sharing and promoting work. You know, speaking of this accident-catalyst, my ‘ancestors’ pulled me ‘back’ from the brink of another world, and the TTC Red-Rocket streetcar formed a new metallic opacity of tautness in my thinking. I was KO’D, but got back up, this on top of a long era of social dormancy due to acquiring ME in the 1990s. After the onset of ME, I spent long stretches in isolation. Illness chiseled away at the foundation of my identity for many years fractured by more than a decade living in a kind of vicarious relationship to the world. Submerged, the external became largely about basic survival. When you are ‘down’, the system kicks you hard. I developed a deeper internal compass.
Even more than before I became ill, marginal, expressive, celebratory voices are the fountain I draw strength and inspiration from. Voices, elegant in expression of pain, rebellion, trauma and struggle most move me. I’m drawn to art positioned outside of the ‘ableist hetero mainstream,’ work where the creator(s) had to travel somewhere very deep, and remerge as witness and documentor. Both in a realist sense, or through expanded imagining and iteration, in the possibilities of fable.

How has this past year impacted you emotionally, how has it impacted you creatively if it all?

Robert: In the beginning of the 90s, my life was completely transformed by ‘a virus’ that was subsequently diagnosed as ME. I spent about a year (solid) in bed with high fevers which left me with a huge deficit of energy and a need to re-investigate what it means to be alive, from learning how to walk again to figuring out ways to make money in the Saturnine Depths of poverty’s marginalization. This year, 2020, with all its pain and variegated ruptures, I think I’ve managed vaguely well. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been in some advanced guard of the despairing and the ache for change that being sick exposes us to: the sedimentary process of sinking into the hopeless grind of capital and its insidious priorities etches into our deepest sensibilities and instinct.
We have been overwhelmed and sucker-punched by the terrifying last four years of dictator-mania, and what it means. Also, the swirling pain, world-wide, of the Pandemic has added new layers of trauma that oddly creates a whole new kind of shared experience (though the inequalities of economic division have been made even more evident as a main complexity/complicity of COVID).
I’m proud of what Moira and I, along with our team of co-editors, Adedayo Agarau, Jakky Bankong-Obi, Ankh Spice, Elisabeth Horan, and newest addition, Khashayar Mohammadi (Kramer) have been able to achieve inside the framed confines of 2020.
Moira and I went full steam ahead with our international year-long Geographies project, followed by the ongoing Dispatches from a Pandemic series, and finally, our triumphant collaborative Mother/Service/Voice project. We invited Jenny Mitchell, a phenomenal UK poet, who in her incisive body of work explores the Middle-Passage, British-Imperialism, the impact of slavery, indenture and institutionalized racism on contemporary UK life (with beautiful and brutal lyricism) to create a prompt for the series. It was our first open-call project with over 75 participating writers and artists.
When I think about it, I’m really pinching myself to realize that we have done so many rich and nuanced projects and attracted worlds of talent whose visionary works tie so sensitively and boldly into what is actually going on in the world(s) we share. I say all this with deep humility and awe, like we have somehow been a conduit for energies that pass through spaces of intention.
So, everyone reading, here’s a plug! Check out http://www.icefloepress.net for some kickass, overwhelmingly fierce, subtle, delicate, experiential, experimental and ruminative works of sensitivity and courage. We have published over 140+ writers and artists from around the globe. We have gathered a convergence of voices who have responded, magnanimously and polyphonically, to our various prompts, and we, at Ice Floe Press, under their formidable wings, have enabled the song, the roll out of daily and weekly anthology projects for the past year and a half or more. I think we are and have been building a reader-writer & art community. I live in wonder and gratitude.

  1. Please give us any promotional info for your work, social media, blogs, publishing company info, etc that you’d like to shout out.
    Robert: Well, as I say, we are thrilled and in awe at the gathering of voices that we have conducted, like electricity, to a ground swell of intersecting, joyful convergence. Ice Floe Press feels like a total blessing, a confluence of generosity of writers and chance elements. Again, to anyone reading thru this, please do come check us out our website.
    In addition to our on-line projects, we have recently published books by Nigerian-Canadian poet, Bola Opaleke (Skeleton of a Ruined Song); a full-length vol. of poetry, Boy, Bestiary, a ferocious extraordinary text by U.K. author, artist, musician and publisher of Burning House Press, Miggy Angel. Boy is a complex book about growing up in the estates of South London and ensuing gentrification. My own hybrid volume, Audacity of Form includes my writings and photo-works by Julia Skop, with digital paintings by Canadian artist, Cathy Daley. Upcoming volumes planned for 2021-2022 include: a full-length book of brilliant, edgy, poetic lyricism by Moira J. Saucer; a new chapbook of love and break-up poems from Welsh queer poet, David Hanlon; a hybrid of poems and drawings by Toronto poet and Floodlight publisher, Sam Strathman. A full-length book of VISPO and accompanying texts by Boston-based writer-artist Whiskey Radish is in the queue. Hand Book (Manual) will be a compendium of interviews, film script, misc. texts, art, letters, poems, theory and other surprises by the wondrous writing/directing duo of Lynne Sachs & Lizzie Olesker, exploring the making of and book project re-iteration of a film, Washing Society, about laundry-workers, that toured worldwide in 2019; also, Kushal Poddar’s ‘complete’ Lockdown Diaries in the form of an E-book (our first) is forthcoming. Jaclyn Piudik, NYC-Toronto experimental poet’s new chapbook, poems of mirrors and embodiment and many other projects are currently in development.
    Also, check out Adedayo Agarau’s New International Voices series of new works (essays, CNF), and Kramer’s anything goes column on experimental poetics reviews and Islamic poetics, called Subterranean Chatter. We have a bunch of other projects in development from a new web-series to a new e-book series, an Ice Floe Press reading series, TBA, and sundry. We think it’s gonna be awesome.
  2. How you come up with the themes, and all the artwork that goes into it?
    Robert: Themes for our projects emerge from us as individuals and collaborators. Moira and I talk a lot to generate the writing prompts and decide on future book projects. Then we meet as a team to talk over possibilities. This whole working process we have developed began with an invitation to be Guest Editors for the month of July, 2019 at Burning House Press (UK). Eli, Moira and I were deeply honored to be asked to put together a theme, which became Secrets and Lies. BHP is a creative, inspirational ‘monster’ of a site, now in a semi-hiatus, which has archived all of the work by writers, artists and curated projects. A publisher of edgy, innovative, queer and anti-oppressive experimental/political writing and art, BHP has been a catalyst for many creatives for at least a couple of years, if not aeons. It’s worth visiting the site, and I expect it will likely emerge in a new iteration any time soon, under the mentorship of its founder, Miggy Angel.
    Thinking more about Ice Floe, when it comes to the art component, the creation of banners, Moira and I talk over visual possibilities and both contribute work. I have an enormous library of generative images that I have made over the years and continue to create. They are the ‘working’ material for manipulation and are largely thematic, atmospheric, non-programmatic. We intuitively select relational art to accompany the curated texts, whether a digitally altered photo, a painting or a VISPO. I believe, between myself and Moira, we have embarked on a once-in-a-lifetime partnership, a form of cross-pollinating of collaboration and energy magic that is so rare, and that I know is a blessing. It is a dream from which I hope to never awaken. 😊
    At times, we also ask contributors to provide us with their own images, and there will definitely be further iterations as we move forward into 2021. I also like to ask visual artists whose work I admire such as Cathy Daley or UK photo-artist, Robynne Limoges, and most recently, German photographer Vera Schmittberger to contribute and participate with their own energies and visual templates.
    Toronto-based poet Jaclyn Piudik is currently putting together a project on “Bodies” for the online blog for Spring, 2021. Montana based triple-threat MS Evans is also working on a project for the blog. We finalize prompts and choose whom to invite and when to open for submissions in a gentle, collaborative way that I hope provides a sanctuary, a welcoming engagement of energies in a competitive literary/art field. We are interested in moving beyond hierarchies and aim not just for ‘publishing’ for its own sake, but in choosing projects and interrogating them with breadth and interactivity and encouraging writing-as-a-gathering space rather than a zone of stress, competition, and alienation. I think this is why we attract such intense, hard-hitting and personal work, and it is what makes Ice Floe Press, hopefully, a project of merit that shall continue into the future.
    The magic that is indeterminate, underground, and symphonic in its scope, concerns, and international contexts feels like a gift to continue to nourish and nurture. To conclude, though I now live in Toronto and Moira is living in Alabama, the focus for Ice Floe Press is international, and collaborative. That’s the mandate.

Logo follow at http://www.icefloepress.net (print)
https://icefloepress.net (e version) Twitter: @icefloeP @frede_kenter

4 poems by Robert Frede Kenter published in Fevers of the Mind Press Presents the Poets of 2020

4 poems by Robert Frede Kenter published in Fevers of the Mind Press Presents the Poets of 2020

Lazarus (Cupid Couplets for A Home Town)

Vituperative voices, choral singing
can’t bring any of it back broken backs

What is a snow-blinded fact —
the river burns.

Sometimes I want to scream
sometimes I just want cash and carry (echoes) of the summer lawn

Carry buried tropes out in mail sacks on hardened backs
carry buried souls out, the souls of the buried, alive and dead

Carry the fine tuned tooth comb with drum brushes
covered in earth to brush myself off in the horizon of new rising

Wake up and scan the rippling fur the destitute
river with sores calling out casinos of the scalding numbers,

To dream those who fall asleep in parks of sleepers.
The night carries their fears, ferrying fallacies of insurance policies away.

Greyhound bus terminal locked tight with chain link fences and linens,
Mississippi duo with rucksacks roll out, the change in jean pockets frayed.

Bang my head against a wall mother’s ghost an upper cut & claw hammer
where arms and legs make way for scar memories of Nineveh at Aberdeen and Nineth.

Waiting for factories to re-open shimmying windows paint can lids pop open
mournful train whistles weep dioxide tears stymied under milk-curled silos, silence –

What does tar do – what smoke indices show
insect thorax catch choke wing in throat, thunk and hork.

Everyone’s eyes gone dry with blurring and tremolo tornadoes
roadside cameras slam-corral listeners to hiss of radio steam

It goes on forever, this surveillance radiant radiation on butterfly wing
it goes on, a Lazarus cinema, a shower show of a film,

Falling snow embers a marquee made by Last Words:
Blast Furnaces Will Live Forever.

The Relationship is Mystical 

Everywhere you live,
subject to military boots.
I hear soldiers
stomping through your things,
looking through cupboards
and opening drawers
with gun barrel,
opening boxes and
measuring with tape.

Taking you out back
with cutting shears.
Dug out stockades,
handcuffs made from
wire and plastics
placed in the garden,
hollowed with dirt
to grab you by your wrists,
to gas the wings of
the dove,
feathers spread open
in full wing-span
below your shoulder blades,
pinned back.

Changing the nature
of meaning.
To suit the purpose
of the wall,
saying the subject, dreary
readers, is
freedom is actually this:
An orchestrated psychosis,
measured, illustrated,
disappeared.

Confessions of a veiled Starvation 

welcome
to the hard sinewy understanding
you’ll only find in this hotel
is it truly closing time
a thin man asks
his body an encyclopedia of scars
is it really time to confess
to carry my tortured body one more block
to the house of neon lights
I’ll wrap my hands around your broken body
and feel you shake and tremble
there are no heroes left
even the police have itchy fingers
that come forward on the beat
to pulverize the blind
I’ll be your escort into this private nightmare
the groom to public discontent
truly wild, my eyes will devour the naked angel’s back
as I lift you up lick alcohol tears from my face

Two Seasons form a Single Year 

1. Fever

To look down on
one’s body
from a height above
Night’s ceiling
fissures
the industrial wallpaper’s
manufacture
of mute flowers
scentless two hands
form of a trellis
over the body
sceptre of incense and concealment
single bulb’s crackling jitter
the on and off filament
of consciousness
To rise from the pool of sheets
the terrible burning langour
To rise longing for first ice
of an idle night’s cold winter
The itch of the radio voice announcer’s
Imperial Marching Music
an imprint of noise
volume of porous static
pouring in the cavity
layers of skin usually cover
parched skin, dehydrated
and brittle-dry

2. Anhedonia

Fingertips ache
trace neuro-electricity
they took me off these drugs
there is an after-image
let’s call it
Rising from numb
to jolt
in toes, in spine
in the soles and heel
under foot
my body wants
nakedness
not clothing
no skin covering skin
the vertebrae’s own dendrite branches
no flowing signals from the brain stem
Some one
wants to cut me down
chop at my neck
Gouged,
but no break of skin
No blood
falls like rain
Standing next to the dead tree
rain does not revive
No buds
No blossoms

No new leaves

Robert Frede Kenter is the publisher and EIC of Ice Floe Press. A writer, editor and visual
artist, poems, stories, theatre works, and songs have been published and performed widely
and exhibited internationally. Recipient of grants and awards from Ontario Arts Council and
Toronto Arts Council, Robert is a 2020 Pushcart Prize nominee, and author of the recent
hybrid Audacity of Form (2019) from Ice Floe Press.

An Interview with Robert Frede Kenter of Icefloe Press