Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Official Site of Al Simmons

In this post, “For Me There Will Always Be An Underground.” Green Panda Press Interviews Al Simmons ( first viewed on  Check out a new poem on


If I Were Me, new poems

Table Of Contents

Colors … 3
About As Much Fun As Old Age … 4
Blooper Rules … 5
My Precious Mass … 6
Red Ruby Therapy … 7
A Part Of Two … 8
I Dare You … 9
A Case Of Mistaken Starcosis … 10
A Gnawing Dilemma … 11
If I Were Me … 12
Looks Like A Caterpillar … 13
The TV Said To Me … 14
The Twice Of July … 15
Sunlight … 16
From Hell With Love … 17
Water-Colored Swamp Meet … 18
Life On Mars … 19
Life On Earth … 20
Eleven: Eleven … 21
On A Scale Of This … 22
Humans Are Next … 23
Vigilante … 24


There are only two reasons to go to war,
To protect your home and to protect your family 
The faux warriors of TV politics follow the fight
For who gets to funnel the money, the fun part 
I play a little golf.  When my teeth went
So went my bite
I can replace teeth.  I’m considering colors
Red, white and blue across the front
Temporarily, until my video screen teeth arrive
With the tongue-activated hidden on/off switch
Claims to be universal 
Before I became a Cyborg poet I was a man
Who never got a burn from the sun until I was 28 years old
And then I drank the water.  My fault.  I was warned
Never go anywhere you have to watch your mouth
While in the shower, where
You can’t turn your back on the sun
In Mexico you learn quick you’re cool
Until you stand up, and then
You better know where you are going 

About As Much Fun As Old Age

60 is the new 20 disease control regimen
I’m so looking forward to my 70s, the new
Teenage blow your dough on a big, expensive car you don’t need years
80 is the new adolescence
90 is the new loneliness
100 is the latest dance
Prone to suffer I may live forever

 Blooper Rules

You don’t have to be crazy to be a poet
You don’t have to be a poet to be crazy
Tho crazy is a good excuse
Some of my best friends are poets
You can’t trust a poet anymore than anyone else
Even less because they are probably nuts and if friends 
Know where you live, and you them
You can dislike a poet friend without losing much, but then
You can’t take your laughs with you, either
if they never happened
Fools waste your time, that’s what they do
The rest of us, that’s what we do, too

My Precious Mass

Order is consciousness manifest everywhere in the universe
The solar system does not just resemble a living cell but is one 
Of what is the question, not what’s on Mars? 
Intelligence is universal.  A photon, like humans
Displays no electrical charge neither positive nor negative
Until viewed, and only then reveals its nature positive
Or negative depending on the quality, or lack of, how you ask  

Red Ruby Therapy

Healing is a slow drip
Like syrup found this morning
On the long floppy leaf
Of a Red Ruby Ice Cream banana tree
Arrived by Priority Mail yesterday
On a dry Indian summer morning
Like a miracle where did this liquid come from? 
Large clear vanilla bean filled air
From Madagascar locked inside the clean liquor 
You don’t even need to breathe
You just stick your face
In the ice cream and lose yourself to vanilla
On the road to recovery no other flavor will do
Red Ruby therapy smells like vanilla ice cream
On this fine morning meant for healing 

 A Part Of Two

I’m a wealth of information and a know-nothing in that order leaves me vulnerable with bruises to show like tattoos on your halo.  Something is amiss or times have changed more than we suppose.  Keep in touch 

A good fit is essential.  Bigger is better unless you’re not so big and then best comes in smaller packages, a feather bright as a wounded rose, light as rain letting up, the sun rising early to bathe in the cool morning dew before waking the slope nested in the pale white darkness of dawn

As simple as 1, 2.0, 3 

So what if you are the only tune I care to dance to, our song, your longest stem rising for some reason when I walk by.  Don’t mean I have to take the whole dozen tho like a tribe an alliance suits me, keep in touch 

I Dare You

It gets harder to talk about nothing
Better suited to a slow read
I must remind myself to take my time 
What is the hurry? 
What am I looking for to halt the spin?
One dentist said, Do no harm, then
Tried to sell me a car, as if
That would do my broken bridge
Health has gone retail, buyer beware! 
Dentists are unregulated and when they start
Talking fast clearly changing gears better tell them
Check your own damn mouth for cancer 

A Case Of Mistaken Starcosis

How can space be created enclosed and empty at the same time, with all the stars and meteor junk raining down, soil deposits of the future destined to bury your ass 
They need to take a closer look.  Not convinced they set off a nuke in space to see what would happen when the Antibodies arrived 

Its hell to live again, still processing being back, the side effects wearing off the miracle of being dead then not dead.  Disease came fast, death came slow, and then I was given a pill and became a wall worth walking into again, and when I woke up 6 months later I had a toothache, but other than that I felt fine 

In fact, I just figured out why I’ve put on weight, sacks and sacks and sacks and sacks of cashews dry roasted no salt for snacks between meals, dinner while I work, late at night   Took a toothache to stop the eating.  It worked.  Next time you want to lose 5 lbs ask your dentist to inject a little pain where you normally chew and see what happens.  An abscess naturally dulls the appetite works especially well

 A Gnawing Dilemma

This tooth business is giving me back spasms 
Last couple days I can hardly move, so 
I took a back spasm pill and my teeth stopped hurting 
I’d go out for a walk but I know if I do
I’ll go over to Safeway for another pint of agave-sweetened ice cream 
All natural, no refined sugar added
I need to tie myself down for a couple days until I kick 
No pain no gain?  No problem.  In bite we must 
In peace we eat

If I Were Me

At the health food store the checkout girl only charged me for one of my six items.  She bagged my four 1lb bags of Scottish style oatmeal, gluten free, special order, and a couple pounds each of raw split peas and green lentils.  I paid her cash and said thanks.  She asked if I wanted a receipt?  I smiled said no need and left.  I took the groceries home and put them away and then I walked over to Safeway for breakfast berries, half a dozen peaches and a pint of chocolate agave sweetened ice cream for desert.  The cashier surprised me with an extra four-dollar discount.  I put the money in my pocket and walked next door to Trader Joes for a quart of plain goat milk yogurt, shredded cheddar cheese, half a pound of cultured butter from France and a cantaloupe.  The bill came to $16.41.  I gave the girl $17.01 and she gave me $11.40 change.  I smiled and said thank you, put the money in my pocket took my groceries home.  Today is Monday, October 13, 2015, a lucky day for me, not sure about anyone else 

Looks Like A Caterpillar

All this daredevil poetry stuff bores me
Unless someone asks me to 
My way or the bullshit  

Documents reveal both Sampson and Hercules each
Wore glasses in their latter years

Fleet Week is here in the Bay Area and
One of the Blue Angels just flew his blue jet
Over the treetops in my front yard

Causing every car alarm on the street to go off
Except mine.  Be your car 

The TV Said To Me

Tell me, what is so godlike
About being part of the food chain? 
I ate meat today and then I rested, and
Now I feel like chasing down something to kill and eat
Like ice cream 

The Twice Of July

A two nap day today, and
Then two trips to the store
Skipped lunch but ate dinner twice
While watching two hours of cable news is
Like watching the same news twice
Tomorrow is the twice of July
And the 4th is twice that with fireworks
But tonight we have the full moon
The first of two this month
Shining between two windows opened
For twice the light and there’s
Nothing tomorrow can do to beat that
Unless you surprise me
Making it twice this week


Sunlight is different for plants
Plants animate, humans vegetate
Cold, rainy, windy
Holiday misery weekend day, with traffic
You can tell a project is done
When all you hear in your head
Are finished passages repeated
Over and over 
I’m back in the loop 
I've been looped, duped into loopness 
I need out I just got here 
A little sunshine would help 
I'll rent a movie about sunlight 
Which is faster, the speed of light or the speed of thought? 
Hint, two thoughts clapping sounds like thunder 
Memorial Day is the day we remember everything
So they made it a long weekend.  Loopness
The sun used to give us Vitamin D
Now we get skin cancer 

From Hell With Love

Mock, mock. 
Who cares? 
You do! He said 

A once old and trusted friend broke into my house and stole my silver-plated Gemeinhardt flute, with the solid silver mouthpiece, quit the scene and disappeared for 35 years, until now, this Sunday morning before President’s Day 2015, he sent me an email and the first thing he said was, “I didn’t steal your fucking magic flute.” 

Like a dagger, a blade struck clean through his dead junky heart and kept him there pinned to a wall of guilt to rot, and he’s still hanging there.  Damn right that flute had magic. Why not apologize, confess, offer to replace, claim insanity, you’re sorry, you were fucked up, but no 

Crime doesn’t pay.  Cost him everything, his friends, his career, his pride, his art, 35 years later, drunk, barely coherent he wants me to know he’s living in the south now and has a website, and I was nothing then and I’m nothing now.  He was better than me, better than I’ll ever be 

Water-Colored Swamp Meet

Nature poems are in
Like landscape artists
Realized without the human
Element capturing
Magic proves illusive
The sun sets without a sound
Not like dawn
Without someone to impress magic
Is just nature


Life On Mars

The games are really old by the time they get here  
Life on Mars is like living in a mobile home except
You never get to go outside, nor do you want to
We are more about the journey than the destination 
What can we do here that we couldn't do back on Earth?  
Take readings.  We make calculations  
Everyday we determine how fast we'd die outside with or without spacesuits
Life on Mars is like living in a microwave oven that never shuts off 
Mars to Earth:  Spacesuits are not Mars suits  
Why is Mars a plural when there is only one?  
We grow our own here.  We even brought poppy seeds and mushrooms 
Sex, drugs, and oldies roll here on Mars, and there is no going back  
We are the fertilizer of the future, like you only more so  
Can you imagine trying to raise a brood of rug-rats in a tin can on Mars?  
Mars to Earth:  Please send rugs 
At least they'll know where they came from  
Everyday we stare out the window hoping a Martian walks by   
We discuss how we’d cook them  
That’s what aliens do  
You should see the Milky Way from here  
We might as well be in space  
In case you're coming bring books

Life On Earth

I’m sitting at my desk in my studio when the phone rang
A call coming in from the City of Alameda where I live
A robocall, an 80 year-old man with dementia got lost
Mandarin, doesn't speak a word of English
Wearing an orange jacket and walking with a cane  

I thought about it and recalled 
I walked right past him on Shoreline by the beach that afternoon  
He looked like he was waiting for someone to find him  
I phoned 911
The woman who answered sounded so worried and thrilled
Their robocall got blocked on half the island and 
They feared the guy might have gone up Park Street to Chinatown in Oakland

About an hour later I heard the sirens where I told them he might be
And then, after midnight, at 12:20 am I got another call from the City
They found him and thanked me for my assistance  
A delicate, sweet Asian woman's voice issued the message
In English so broken I could barely make out her meaning 
Mr. Ho Fun found
The whole time I never left my desk  

Eleven: Eleven

I need to edit something for lunch 
Elevention, eleventing
Looks even but ain’t 
You could be fucking animals 
“One, one, one, not three”--Bree 
Lucky number or last one ones standing? 
It’s always me unless it ain’t 

On A Scale Of This

Genius is the result of concentration applied to task
Time is invention, relative, bent
Only travels in one direction
Even when warped
Has no memory
No destination
Plays tricks
Covers its tracks
Shows no mercy
Is responsible to no one 
But it’s free 

Humans Are Next

Never won an argument you didn’t lose
All the way to the moon just to piss in your pants
Still, the research from such a venture
Could have been achieved for less 

For every star there is a hole in the sky
When you see the trees head for the hills
That’s real time 

If dark matter were gray matter inside your skull
You could measure its effect and not see it either
Which means the universe is likely to have hair 
Seems only logical if all inner voices were
Shares of a common being
You would think they’d get along   

Humans had it coming.  They had their day
What were their last 100 years like?  The 80s 
The only reason I came back to tell you is
I did.  Life is easy 


Someone wearing a baseball cap, shades and a bright orange and yellow reflective vest, the kind construction workers wear, robbed the Wells Fargo Bank down the street.  A camera caught his image but he got away with the money.  His photo in the news looked familiar but it took me a while to place him.  From his description he was about my size and probably looks a lot like me in my younger days if I were black.  The news article said they are asking the public for help and gave several numbers to call.  Why should I care unless there’s a reward?  I don’t bank at Wells Fargo.  Did I see him?  I ran into him on the way to Trader Joes.  Takes a desperate man to rob a bank, and a lucky one to get away with it.  When I first saw him I thought he was robbing a utility truck the way he was acting rifling through built-in cabinets and drawers in the back until he found what he was looking for, looked over and saw me walking towards him, raised his shirt and pulled something long and large from his pant waist and stashed it

The truck was blocking my way, a big, black utility van.  I marveled at its size and thought black an odd color for a utility truck.  Must be a fleet vehicle on lease.  He saw me staring at him and approached the door to check me out.   He looked me right in the eye and gave me a bad vibe so I kept walking.  I thought about calling the cops but what would I say?  He didn’t look like a utility worker, other than the yellow reflective vest he wore street clothes, a green camo long sleeve tee shirt, black jeans, sneakers, that vest six sizes too big, and a baseball cap on backwards and pulled down to the rims of his dark shades.  Utility guys don’t wear street clothes and shades while on the job.  They wear blue work clothes with company logos.  I figured he must be in training or a helper and moved on 

Well, we can’t have these guys coming into the neighborhood robbing banks.  By the time I phoned the feds I figured it probably went something like this; the job task completed the foreman says to the punk, “Wait in the truck, I’ll be back in twenty minutes,” and goes off to find the mall super.  Once the boss is out of sight the kid walks across the parking lot and robs the bank, comes back with the money and stashes the gun.  It may have been his boss’s gun.  Then, he waits inside the van for his boss to return and they go off to their next job, which would explain how he got away.  The agent on the phone says, “So, all we have to do is find out whose truck that was?”  He said nothing about a reward so I had to  

Also, go to


The Good Life

For months I laid there alone and sick
With a nasty bug
That would not go away
And the doctors just seemed to make matters worse.

I quit my job.
The boss refused to accept
My resignation and issued me
A medical leave of absence, instead.
I was too sick to work
And just lay there

Physically depleted,
Staring at the walls,
Miserable and

Just standing up
Took all the energy I had.

Everyday was a challenge.
I still had to eat.
I had little choice.
I got used to it.

I made plans. I would
Try and do one thing a day.
Usually that meant
Smoking a bowl of weed and
Writing a poem or two.
As long as I wrote something
Every day
I felt productive and happy.

I lost 20 lbs.
By 4 pm on most days
I had gathered enough strength to
Go out for a walk,
Usually to the supermarket.

On rainy days
I would sit and listen
To the rain.

I did some of my best writing
Confined to one place
Day after day,
Week after week, month
After month, alone.

Solitude has its advantages.
Poems began to flow from within me
Then worked into a steady down pour that
Flooded my notebooks like a ruthless storm
That would not let up.
I wrote hundreds of poems.
Life was good.
I was sick as a dog and
Slowly fading away,
But the writing came.

I decided I was never
Back to work.

The money would run out,
And the food
Would run out,
And the poems would stop and
I’d fall asleep
And disappear.

I was Ok
With that.

And then,
One day the bug
Was gone.

And then,
I got up

And life
Went on.


Letter to the New York Times, June 5, 2009, 30 Years Later: Poetry As A Literary Sporting Event

When I graduated from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago in 1971, there were no poetry reading series in Chicago. None. And there hadn’t been one since Sherwood Anderson held readings in his living room in the 1930s and 40s, so any talk about Chicago being a “poetry town” since the turn of the 20th Century are dead wrong. The Blue Store Reading Series, which began in 1971, and hosted by myself, Terry Jacobson, Henry Kanabus, Stephen Pantos and Patrick McPhee, in a basement of an antique store on Wellington Avenue in New Town, began what is now seen as a literary renaissance in Chicago. Prior to the Blue Store Readings if you wanted to hear poetry read on a regular basis you had to travel to NYC. Six months after the birth of the Blue Store Reading Series, The Body Politic Readings began on Lincoln Avenue, and after that readings began sprouting up all over town and have been a growing phenomena since.

In 1979, I was poet-in-residence for the City of Chicago Council On Fine Arts. One early autumn night I was standing at the bar in Oxford Pub on Lincoln Avenue, when a reading that was taking place in a storefront next door spilled out into the street. Jerome Sala, a popular young local poet at the time, was giving a reading, when Jim Desmond, of the Jim Desmond Blues Band, was sitting in the audience and decided he didn’t like what he was hearing so Desmond picked up a chair and went after Sala. Somehow, they both ended up in front of me at the bar and I suggested, and they agreed, to put them in a boxing ring and let them beat shit out of each other, metaphorically speaking. I supply the rules and winner takes all. Thus was born the World Heavyweight Poetry Championship Fights.

Five years later, Marc Smith came up with an open reading format of the fights he named the Poetry Slam. Marc Smith has apparently added a name since then. I wonder if he got married? Smith deserves a lot of credit for what he has accomplished. To run a Sunday night reading series for 25 years is no small feat. But, I still retain my bragging rights. And to that end I will challenge Marc Kelly Smith to a one on one heavyweight poetry bout anywhere, anytime, as long as it takes place in a major population center somewhere on or near the Interstate 80 corridor.

Al Simmons, Commissioner WPA
(World Poetry Association)


For Me There Will Always Be An Underground.” Al Simmons Speaks with Green Panda Press

Bree: u’ve met and mingled with so many respected poets—got any good remnants?

Al: I just remembered how I met Jack Michelin. It was 1982. I was new in SF and staying with friends. One day I was hanging out and ducked into a gallery opening for a free glass of wine and a piece of cheese and ended up buying a small stone sculpture from Jack Michelin. It was the face of a woman cut out of soapstone. I recognized Jack from a reading. I told him I liked his work but the last thing I needed at the moment was another rock to weigh me down. I didn't have a place to stay let alone hang his art. But he talked me into it. I wrapped it in a towel and hid it in the back seat of my car until I found a place to settle into. I used to hang it on a big weeping willow tree in the backyard. Now it's in a box. I just remembered where I got it. I wonder if it's worth any money?

B: take it out of that box! any j-hole will buy that from u—i think they’d buy his old dirty socks! but u still got a tree, i’d bet. well, so is there a particular contemporary poem or collection that u revere/left its mark on u?

Al: Ed Dorn’s Gunslinger is still the best poem of the 20th century. Something a lot of people don’t know, Ed Dorn wrote books 3 & 4 of Gunslinger in Chicago. I was studying with him during those two years. Ed published each book separately as he wrote them. Book Three, The Cycle broke the 5 x 7 format of books one and two by publishing book three in 10 x 12 inch size pages in bold print and full color. There was a character introduced in book three called Al, who looked a lot like me then. He had a belt buckle with the name AL printed on it. From Gunslinger: The Cycle, The I.D. Runs the Actual Furnishings, verse 19:

Below his right ear is the brand
The cuneiform form of Man and God
And these were the signs of his predicament.

I told Ed I thought that mark was a birthmark. But the truth is it was a hickey I was given by Rhea Hoffman who was 13 years old. I was 12. And it never went away, so maybe I was kissed by a goddess? She looked like a goddess at the time.

Studying with Ed Dorn was quite an initiation. I asked Ed why he made the print of the Cycle (first edition) so large? He said, so I could read it. He was a funny guy. He told me this in his kitchen, at the old 911 Club, the original 911 Club, 911 Diversey Avenue in Chicago, where Ed and Jenny lived while Ed presided over the writing program at Northeastern Illinois University on the northwest side of Chicago, where I was enrolled as an undergrad.

Being a named character in the greatest poem of the 20th Century is a nice credit. There were only four characters in Gunslinger who were introduced under cloak of their own names; Howard Hughes, Rupert Murdoch, Tonto Pronto, and me. Book Four of Gunslinger, The Winter Book was originally titled The Slaukowski Sausage Factory. In retrospect those years turned out to be Ed Dorn’s most productive.

B: i'd like to emphasize that you catalyzed the poetry bouts and poetry fights--you told me the story when we were in Berkeley, and its kind of in yr NYT letter---by the by the poem you sent me in the mail is so killer. it is so wholly your voice--i think that is what makes a poem good; if it is totally the voice of the poet, it cld be on microwaving frozen french fries, or crossing the rubicon, whatever. it is the voice that matters most. voice carries pov, and this is what we find useful in eachother.

Al: Thank you. There was an intellectual framework surrounding the fights. Let me tell you what the world of poetics looked like back in the early 1970s. When Ed Dorn left NEI for a job at Kent State, he replaced himself as poet-in-residence with Ted Berrigan, who at the time was head of the New York School of Poetry. So, I got to be student aide and faculty assistant for Ted Berrigan.

I’ll tell you a story. Ted didn’t know I was on the university payroll for being both his student aid and faculty assistant, and I didn’t tell him until one day after class several months into the semester Ted and I were sitting at the corner bar having a shot and a beer and I confessed. I applied to be Ted’s assistants because I knew he didn’t need any. He gave no assignments, did no research. That was pretty smart, Ted decided, and added, you can buy the next round. And then Ted borrowed $5. Ted always paid you back on payday when he cashed his check.

I guess you can say I was lucky, first to study with Ed Dorn and then Ted Berrigan, two of the top three poets of the second half of the 20th Century. You can say I had my share of rarified air. Ted Berrigan was 36 years old when Dorn brought him in to Chicago. Ted died young, at age 47. But, during the ten years that I knew Ted we became good friends, and I got to watch Ted develop from the head of the NY School of Poetry into a Master Poet. Ted grew larger than the scene. Hanging out with Ted was like seeing your best friend turn into Socrates. I was a man of great fortune and witness.

There were basically four schools of poetry being practiced in the 50s thru the turn of the century, and beyond. There were the academics, The Black Mountain School, The New York School and The Beats. I wasn’t interested in 15th century Italian sonnets so I passed on the academics. The Black Mountain School was Charles Olson, who invented Projective Verse and open field poetry as a meter into free verse. He gathered the teachings of Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams and brought them a step further. Teaching at Black Mountain with Olson was Robert Creeley and Robert Duncan. Ed Dorn was Olson’s student, favorite son, and 20 years later I studied with Dorn.

The Beats were mostly criminals, drug addicts, thieves, sexual predators and perverts. William Burroughs was a junky, a pedophile, and a murderer. He killed his wife. He shot her between the eyes with a rifle attempting to shoot an apple off the top of her head. Gregory Corso spent the better half of his youth incarcerated. Neal Cassidy was a car thief and a speed freak. Ginsburg was a pervert and Jack Kerouac was a bum, the Dharma Bum, who loved speed, beer, and chasing women and good times. Jack Kerouac was the writer. As Gregory Corso put it, “Kerouac made us all.” The Beats were bohemians and cultural revolutionists and are credited for a lot of bad poetry and starting the sexual revolution.

The New York School was somewhere in between. They were constructionists, though some called them de-constructivists. Ted’s favorite topic for lecturing was how he wrote poetry. I spent years listening to how Ted “made” poems. The NYS were better dressed than the Beats. They had Masters degrees, came from middle class families. But, to me they were all Beats. They all experimented with the same American idiom. Dorn ran with Kerouac. Berrigan introduced me to Anselm Hollo, Alice Notley, of course, Ted's wife, Allen Ginsburg, Phil Whalen. Everyone knew and supported everyone else...for the most part. Writers are and have always been competitive. Each had their own distinctive voice and style and that was the key, being your own person and having your own presence and style.

If you wanted to hang out with the giants you had to have your own voice. That was the rule. If you read a poem that sounded like someone else you either dedicated that poem or you would be called out and hauled off the stage. Maybe the hauling off the stage part was an early Chicago thing. What I was interested in back then was a Chicago sound, a Chicago School. Performance Art was a product of those early experiments in Chicago and we sometimes referred to Performance Art as Chicago School. By developing the poetry fights I captured a competitive spirit of the time and gave it a presence in literary form. I built the stage and wrote the rules. I was the Commissioner of the World Poetry Association and the World Poetry Bout Association, WPA/WPBA. Steve Rose, the world’s greatest ring announcer, introduced me as the intellectual godfather of the Taos Poetry Circus, in Taos, New Mexico, where we held the Main Event World Heavyweight Championship Poetry Bouts every summer for 20 years, from 1982-2002. I began the show. Now they call it The Spoken Word Movement. I’m a footnote in history.

As Ed Dorn once wrote:

“Once I lost my keys
and couldn’t get in
Once I lost my knees
and couldn’t get down
Once I lost my face
and couldn’t frown
But I’ve never lost my place
and that’s why dig it
I’m still around.”

The Main Event, a ten round heavyweight championship poetry bout, was invitational, based on a traditional reading, two poets, an opening act and a featured poet, each reads for thirty minutes. The slam is a competitive literary event based on an open reading, whoever shows up. Somehow the slam morphed into more of a community event rather than an individual’s art, drifting away from rule #1, having one’s own voice. That’s the rap on the slam since the beginning, actually. I have no problem with the slam. It’s an open reading. As far as I’m concerned I’m happy the slam is held to any standard. And look at how the slam has proliferated? I understand slams are now being held in 80 cities across the country. On the other hand The Main Event features the best of the best, always had and always will. Anyone can write a poem, but how many people can write ten?

B: How many poems have you written this past year?

Al: About 300.

B: That’s a lot of poems.

Al: I had a good year.

B: Are your poems available?

Al: Yes. Memoirs Of The Man Who Slept His Life Away, new poems, Special Edition, Books I - V, 150 poems, 271 pages, 43K words, $35.00, (includes tax and shipping). Send cash, money order or check to: Al Simmons, Simmonsink, 420 Whitehall Road, Unit F, Alameda, CA 94501. I can be emailed at

B: hey, way to get a plug in! i’ll wrap us up with that goodie you mailed, and here’s hoping this one makes it in that collection.


Almost Never

I get lazier every day.
Doing nothing is the best.

Ok, there’s the ocean. I’ve
Seen it. Now what?
You tell me, cuz. Now

Lazy is good company.
Sunshine and enough
To eat helps.

Living off the land means
Fleecing those who graze.

Fleece or be fleeced.
Land of the fleeced,
Home of the flossed.

Other than my health
I’m fine.

I don’t know where I get
This stuff, but
For some reason I think
All I have to do
Is write a poem or two a day
And I’m good, I’m
A happy guy.

End of story.


Al Simmons catalyzed the poetry bouts (after he had himself an actual bout)---arguably the origin of Slam Poetry. he took me on a walk on a windy shore in Berkeley, CA where i saw for the first time red-winged blackbirds. it was late May 2008, and he thot my name was Bree 08 because that is how it appeared on the cover of a bittie broad i’d made. he’s…a happy guy.

* the integrity of line spacing was not kept by blogspot trans.

Books Available by Al Simmons:

Memoirs Of The Man Who Slept His Life Away, new poems, 160 poems, 300 pages, 50K words, $35, includes tax and delivery.

"Pure vernacular. I read the whole book. Not in the last 100 years have I just read a book of poetry all the way through. It's like being in Chicago by Henry Miller, cf The Tropic of Capricorn, the way work is in the US, only this time from Chicago. And then the sex, which is the way it is in the US. " --Charles Potts, Tsunami Press

“Try to make one word at a time, one word with perfect posture. No show boater words or perfumed words. No meek hovelling words. I mean fuck all these sentences. One. One. One, (not three).” --Bree, Green Panda Press

KING BLUE, Boogie Till The Roof Caves In, Stories of Chicago's Kingston Mines, the largest showcase blues club in the world, with photographs by D. Shigley. 129 pages, $20, includes tax and shipping.

"So lucid, fine, humorous and humane is Al Simmons' book, Boogie Till The Roof Caves In, that all one can say is: Thanks. And also wish that Mr. Simmons might write another book about more--if not all--of the scenes happening in our city." Paul Carroll, Publisher Big Table Press, Chicago Reader.

THE SUGAR AND OTIS CHRONICLES, People Pay A Lot Of Money For This KINKY STUFF, a pornographic novel, 275 pages, 75K words, $30, includes tax and delivery. "The most fun book I ever wrote, and the research was the best!"

Send cash, checks or money orders to Al Simmons, Simmonsink, 420 Whitehall Road, Unit F, Alameda, CA 94501.