Cabildo Quarterly online

New and used (mostly) fiction and poetry.

"Swing State" out now!

Three Rooms Press just released my novel “Swing State.”
The first review of the book came in, and is very encouraging. Here’s what Library Journal said about it:
Fournier’s (Hidden Wheel) second novel focuses on three young people making do in the brutal economic wasteland of New Hampshire’s North Country. The brutality starts at home for Dixon Dove and Zachariah Tietz, both still in high school. Dixon is the sister of the school football star, which couldn’t interest her less. She ducks her heavy-drinking stepfather to practice petty theft, set off firecrackers, and bully other kids. Zachariah was doing okay even though his alcoholic millworker dad beat him regularly. But after a humiliating injury during a pick-up soccer game, he is shunned and taunted and becomes overweight. Afghanistan veteran Roy Eggleton has come home with a traumatic brain injury, PTSD, and a bum leg; now he plays pool for money and limps around town looking for work. As the novel progresses, the characters paths become more intertwined, ultimately with calamitous results.
Verdict Fournier conjures three vivid voices for this bleak tale in which things go from bad to worse. His excellent writing should appeal to readers of contemporary fiction who like the view to be unflinching.
I’m running an Indiegogo account to raise funds for a 2015 tour junket. Here is the address for it:
And, lastly, I’m doing some readings in the near future. Here are the dates:
Friday 10/10. Brooklyn NY, Book Thug Nation. 7 pm. With Larry Livermore, Joe Evans III, Mike Faloon.
Saturday 10/11. Jersey City NJ. Iris Records. Early one: 3:30 pm. With Larry Livermore, Joe Evans III, Mike Faloon.
Monday 10/20. New York City. Le Poisson Rouge.7 pm.  Book release with Ron Dakron and Richard Katrovas.
Thursday 10/23. Concord, NH. 7pm..Gibson’s. 

New Poetry by Hedy Habra


            As I leaf through

my old diaries

                        I stumble         upon

                                    empty pages

their silence     urges me                     

            to fill               this interval

                        of time lost

                        the intrusion

            into another’s  life

seduces me

                                    while ink flows

                        blindly on its own

            this blank space


each     interstice


                        between lines

                                    signs sprouting

like poppies

                        on the side of the road



                        by recurrent detours

            opaque murals


                        under layers of paint

            shreds of broken mirrors

                                    self      annulling


                        pathways open up

its traces

                                    welcome me


             a procession

                        of faceless names

                                    I dive              

            into obscure     depths

                        defying            me

                        more than Turkish coffee dregs

where I foresee

                        a thousand and one    

                                                open stories

Lying by the Shore Grass

To Rosemary (1952-1998)

            You would think her

   in total darkness under the straw hat

            as if inside the canary’s cage her mother sheathed

                    in broad daylight.

Digging her heels deeper

in the warm sand, her eyelids falling like tired blinds

                                she wonders how far

                    below an ostrich

                                burrows to feel secure?

        With an imaginary finger, she traces

her body’s outline:                                                       

        her enlarged waist,

 invisible under the loose percale dress,

        stops at the straw hat,

circling its black grosgrain rim. 

                                No one suspects her head,

                     freed from the silk scarf,

                                is crowned by sparse down

        She opens her eyes to blue fragments

of gouache,

        squints through the woven straw,

                    dots of diffused light

         shiver in faceted stained glass,                                                           

stripes of darkness release a quiver of rays,

                                each piercing a burgeoning cell

                 deep inside her, healing

                                 rainbows broken in fiery mosaics.

        She feels the sun in each grain of sand, wishes

she’d sink deeper in the comforting coolness

                 of quicksand.

                                The wind lifts her dress, runs

                    through her slender legs, 

        whispers in her ears,

 tells how tall blades of grass

                 bend nearby,

how waves grow, anchoring driftwood,

how her husband’s silhouette fades

                                in the far horizon, how his footprints

                    disappear, brushed

                                  by the ebb and flow of rising tides.

        She doesn’t want this day to end,

                 thinks of the smooth blue stones

veined like cormorant eggs

                    they saw last evening, 

                                frozen tears fallen in blue hail

        carved from the sky,

dreams of lining her bathtub with azure,

        eggs chiseled in granite

like her sterile, hardening belly,

                 each a blue tear, a tear

        for each year of her life. 

                                She dives into a still pond

                  filled with cerulean tears,

                                  coils in its womblike warmth.

Hedy Habra is the author of a poetry collection, Tea in Heliopolis (Press 53 2013), Finalist for the 2014 International Book Award, a short story collection, Flying Carpets (Interlink 2013), winner of the 2013 Arab American Book Award’s Honorable Mention in Fictionand Finalist for the 2014 Eric Hoffer Book Award in Short Fiction; and a book of literary criticism, Mundos alternos y artísticos en Vargas Llosa (Iberoamericana 2012). She has an MA and an MFA in English and an MA and PhD in Spanish literature, all from Western Michigan University. Her multilingual work appears in numerous journals and anthologies, including Connotation Press, Poetic Diversity, Blue Five Notebook, Nimrod, The New York Quarterly, Drunken Boat, Diode, Cutthroat, The Bitter Oleander, Puerto del Sol, Cider Press Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Danse Macabre and Poet Lore. Please visit

Black Wine

“Yell Boss” (Don Giovanni Records)

 I just read “Doctor Sleep.” I still check in with Stephen King when his books materialize on the library’s new release shelf– this one finds the kid from “The Shining” struggling to overcome alcoholism as other demons, the supernatural kind, swirl around a psychic teen in a small New Hampshire town. I can safely file this tale in the “pretty good” column, not a book in which the protagonist winds up in a mystical, imagined land speaking a semi-phonetic language to vanquish a supernatural foe.

So yeah, Dan Torrance hits his rock bottom, and starts attending AA meetings. And there it is, plopped into an otherwise unassuming paragraph:

He’d wake up thirsty and miserable—wanting—which wasn’t.”

Ol’ Steve has professed his love for punk rock many times over the years, but goddamn, Stephen King must be into Black Flag.

Pool-pissers everywhere might beg to differ, citing coincidence: after writing so many words, it’s a near-inevitability that the guy would say something, sometime, which sounded like something else. And that’s fine. I can see it. Maybe he managed to nail the chorus Dezzo (and, later, Hank) barked out so well because the lyrics draw from the particular well of human experience from which Stephen King has experienced, and so publically discussed. It’s possible.

 But why would you want to warm up a pool like this? Goddammit, isn’t it more fun to think that it was an Easter egg dropped in there? Lord knows I do that sort of thing all the time – shades of blue, in my books, are bruise-colored; the biggest jerks are always names Richard Johnson. Nods, both.

 “Yell Boss,” the new full-length by Black Wine, is a dynamic record, but not a record which relies solely on dynamics. Take “No Reason,” which starts off hammering down math for just long enough to trick you into thinking it’ll be a syncopated neck acher – and instead, a snaky lead as backdrop to drummer Miranda Taylor’s fuzzed vox. It’s a neat trick: the juxtaposition of parts and personalities winds up being more jarring and effectual than the intro duh-duh-duhduh threatens. Plus, you know, it rocks.

“Rime” trumps “No Reason” in terms of sheer whip-snapping oomph: the chug contained in the opening salvo “Komrades” is reprised, daring you to look up from your phone and headbang – to have fun, the way band obviously is, with their three-part vocal harmonies. Its heft gains velocity after propelling out of a weird, gentle feedback intro, vocals subdued and sing-songy, better suited to the nursery than the pit. 

And to end the record, the tom-heavy verses of “Love Chain” form a backdrop for downright spooky Faith-era Cure guitar before the band gleefully pushes the atmosphere aside to bash out a kickass ascending two-ton figure. Then it ends. The song, the record. Over. Awesome.

I thought these cats were at the height of their craft even before the second-to-last song spun under the needle. Again: heavy, with great poppy vocals and Superchunk-y guitar leads straining through the din. Thing is, the prechorus rolled in, and a vocal line sent me back to age eight, driving around in the back of my parents’ Rabbit, listening to the radio. “No Time” – of course. The Guess Who.  Bad rock critic!

But their cover, in my zillion subsequent listens, reinforces what I think is the overall point. The signifiers are all there, the little nods and full-throated howls to the band’s many influences. I remember the first time I saw them play, acoustic in a New Jersey basement—they played another song I know from driving around with my parents as a kid: “Windy,” by the Association. Of course, they nailed it.

Such is the way of Black Wine – each of the three band members brings their particular sonic palette and blueprint to the table, add their own contributions, sand off (or, to be fair, tack on) rough edges, and the alloyed final product is set loose. Sometimes the nods are there. And who the hell knows whether the bits that I’m hearing in there are intentional – maybe these cats don’t even like the Cure, you know? But I believe this band, and I trust them. And even if you’re peeing in my pool, telling me that they can’t possibly be as smart and musical and intentioned as I think, it’s more fun to believe. Especially now, when everyone is too worried about being cool and well-versed to actually like stuff. To be a fan.  Fuck that. I’m in. And if you’ve got beef, I won’t invite you to listen to “Damaged” with me and Stephen King.

Michael T. Fournier

New Poetry from Anne Witty

The Way of Calligraphy

The testing of pens
must be my first work
today—which ones flow

with ink, which nibs leave
only faint scratches,
small hints on paper,

which wait to be cleaned
since the last words jammed
in dried-up channels.

Once words flooded in,
an unruly stream—
my pens now again

ready to channel
the imminent spate,
and meantime writing

practice is writing,
practice hand-­‐writing,
practice. Is writing.

Mirror Blues 

In morning’s harsh light, spring
unveils a stranger’s face.
Winter’s not worn well on
me; a slow erosion
of private cares runs off
the edges of my mouth.
Moments of happiness
stand etched in rays beside
my brows, petroglyphic
laughter now forgotten.

Failed concentration
furrows my forehead.
I never noticed that
vertical crease before,
nor did I ever know
what troubled
really means
until nervous chewing
chapped and blurred my lips,
twisting even at rest.

Those are the blues
under my eyes.

The Dragon’s Mouth, Yellowstone

     We hike to where the heart of earth
spews forth its heat, where colored lichen
clings to boiled spots where nothing else grows.
A bone, a horn, a skull lie crumbling,
half-swallowed by the molten mud.
from the edge, we listen spellbound
to Dragon’s rage bubbling on tongues
of water lashing up from hidden caverns.
and when the Dragon laughs,
we jump at its deep-throated chuckle.

      We peer through the sulfurous fumes
to witness this unpretty geology,
and here beside this stinking place,
as is our habit, we wave at the camera—
surprised, once home, to see our visit
verified in photographs untarnished
by the whiff of brimstone,
our smiles unshadowed by this glimpse
of fire, the viscous pulse of life
and death beneath our feet.

Anne Witty lives and writes in mid-coast Maine, where she recently completed an MFA in poetry. She works and plays as a museum curator, maritime historian, poet, musician, organic gardener, and sailor of vintage wooden boats. 

Reviews: “A Dream of Books #2” by DJ Frederick; “Spooky Plan” by Drew Kalbach

 A Dream of Books #2, by DJ Frederick

 The way it used to be is the way it still is, at least in the case of DJ Frederick. By ‘the way it used to be’ I mean a strong connection through shared interests, rather than a tertiary interest and ‘yeah, I (saw/read/heard) that’ about everything, every single thing. In this case, it’s literature that forges the connection in A Dream of Books #2: Frederick meets a co-conspirator at his job; they start a journal, and plan an event.

 Part of my fondness for this issue is its setting: the event itself happens at an old cinema I used to frequent in my hometown of Concord, New Hampshire. But beyond my familiarity with the locale,  there’s a lot to be fond of here: remember that the way that it used to be continues to be the way it is. Dejection, futility, hopelessness, a lack of real connection: whether digital or analogue, now or then, these things haunt us still, as DJ Frederick’s story will here – so familiar as to be universal, the false connection which Vonnegut called the granfaloon. The irony, of course, is that the connection to this tale may be thething that got him in trouble with his co-conspirator in the first place. Write him and find out.

 Frederick Moe 36 West Main St Warner NH 03278

Spooky Plan, by Drew Kalbach

 The reality of reviewing is that the longer something stays in the pile, the less chance it has of being reviewed. Drew Kalbach (who, in the interest in full disclosure, is a CQ contributor) sent his debut poetry anthology Spooky Plan to me months ago, and I put it in the pile.

 Life happened, as it does, and the pile grew, Spooky Plan’s life clock ticking. But unlike stuff that I didn’t get to, Drew’s book haunted me.

I couldn’t make heads or tails of a lot of the stuff contained herein. I had no frame of reference for the odd juxtapositions and spiky language spilled throughout. The easy thing, the copout, would be a sullen dismissal: simply and smugly say “hipster” and walk away. Because that’s the plan so often these days – anything that is outside of comfort, whether through obligations or age, is dismissed because there’s so much to judge, you know? There’s no center to speak of, and conversation reflects this.

 And Drew knows all this. The splices and juxtapositions and outright weirdness are the norm now: things with no connectivity are forced to interact in odd ways which are indicative of the era, but in some ways indicative of none. Take ‘Planchette,’ the series of poems based around non-sequitor graffiti from Pompeii. Like spam selling us penis pills regardless of gender or notifications breaking conversation, the juxtaposition makes no sense – but becomes its own kind. And that, I think, is what Drew’s getting at here: a reflection of the times, funhouse though it is, which will rise from them, from categorization and context, to creep in and grow. That’s the plan: the way we’re haunted by all this, this lack and excess, can’t escape it, even as we’re buried alive by it. It’s spooky.

(Gobbet Press)

Michael T. Fournier/


Three Rooms Press book release party: me,  Ron Dakron and Richard Katrovas, 10/20 at Le Poisson Rouge. Get psyched!


Three Rooms Press book release party: me,  Ron Dakron and Richard Katrovas, 10/20 at Le Poisson Rouge. Get psyched!

Review: “Breadcrumb Trail” – a film about Slint by Lance Bangs

What’s your damage?

                The artistic process is a driven one, and often, the driver is some trauma. The particular driver of Slint — the legendary Louisville quartet that spawned as many bands as it did hyphenated attempts at finding a genre to explain its particular brand of precise, lurching, brainy, mathy rock (or is it post-rock? See, there’s one) – has been a matter of speculation since their largely posthumous rise to prominence. Their albums’ stark imagery and minimal information added an air of mystery to the band’s already singular aura.

                Touch and Go Records is set to rerelease “Spiderland,” Slint’s most well-known and –revered album, and with it release “Breadcrumb Trail,” a documentary by filmmaker Lance Bangs which seeks to flesh out the band’s story. It’s from a fan’s perspective that Bangs provides a frame: he’s a guy who, like many of us, kinda stumbled onto the band’s work, reached the same dead informational end, and started seeking out the few-and-far-between, almost apocryphal performances by ex-members (going so far as to geek out on camera when he bumps into one of them at a Louisville party). This framework is endearing – this dude is one of us! – and effective, as the film backtracks to the early and mid-eighties, when drummer Britt Walford and guitarist Brian McMahon, both at the tender age of eleven, start a hardcore band called Languid and Flaccid and play shows with older, more established Louisville hardcore bands, who are roundly amazed that this band of kids too little to lug their own gear into the club can hang. From there, we learn about future Slinters joining the various permutations of Squirrel Bait, and marvel as eventual Slint guitarist David Pajo’s band Maurice manages to network to Glenn Danzig and tour with his post-Misfits outfit Samhain.   

                As “Breadcrumb Trail” unfolds, Bangs’ directoral choices effectively straddle the line of Slint’s intention:  Britt Walford’s charming parents, on a couch above the basement that served as the band’s practice space, calmly but proudly discuss the hours the band spent perfecting every sonic detail of the handful of songs they wrote. This attention to detail adds fuel to aura of mystique that has typified discussions of Slint. But even as the band practices their time changes, they hand-draw J-cards for self-recorded cassettes of themselves taking noisy shits.

                Slint records their debut LP “Tweez” with Steve Albini – a recording which contains sonic choices that alienate bassist Ethan Buckler, leading to his departure. Both Buckler (who later recorded decidedly more light-hearted fare as King Kong) and Albini are forthright in their respective discussion of the recording process and their mindsets at the time. In fact, all of the film’s interviewees are articulate and down-to-earth, though seeing a skinny Jason Noble and a typically jovial Jon Cook, both of the Louisville powerhouse Rodan, both unfortunately deceased since their interviews, adds a somber note. (And the requisite Ian MacKaye cameo, describing something as “insane,” can be checked off the list, as well.)

                After “Tweez,” and during the band’s college years, they reconvene to record “Spiderland,” their creepy watershed. If there’s a criticism to be made about the film, it’s the level of detail in which each of the album’s six songs are dissected. With that said, the Spiderland discussion ultimately works: the level of attention and detail lavished on the album by a variety of narrators serves to illuminate both sides of the solemn/goofy dichotomy – and to pull viewers unfamiliar with “Spiderland” into the album with enough background to somehow transcend the music itself.

                On the brink of Slint’s first European tour, intended to promote the Touch and Go release of Spiderland, the band breaks up. For years, the rumors swirling around the band had some member, or members, going insane during the recording process. It’s nothing quite so dramatic. Bangs briefly and tastefully describes the incident which proves to be the clean break in the band’s spine. In thinking back to the film, this part of it is most remarkable. In the story of a band – any band – there are always little things which later prove to ripple out into larger tremors, complete with aftershocks. Lance Bangs, as shown in his first-person introduction, is a fan, with all the sentimentality and geekery that comes packed into the word. But he doesn’t dwell, and he doesn’t overemote: with a light touch, he gives viewers everything they need to reconstruct Slint’s breakup from both the trauma side and the other side. It’s a wonderfully deft, wonderfully real way to begin the wrap-up of Slint’s narrative, one befitting the legacy of the band itself.

                “Breadcrumb Trail” is screening around the world. Go see it:      

April 4-6 - Missoula, MT at The Roxy Theater

April 6 - Dallas, TX at the Texas Theatre
(Skype Q & A w/Lance)

April 6 - London, UK at Institute of Contemporary Arts

April 7 - Brighton, Dukes at Komedia

April 7 - Austin, TX at Alamo Draft House - the Ritz

April 7 & 8 - Nashville, TN at the Belcourt Theatre

April 13 - Louisville, KY at Dreamland Film Center

April 14 - Louisville, KY at Headliners Music Hall
(w/Lance and Slint band members)

April 15 - Portland, ME at Space Gallery
(Skype Q&A w/Lance)

April 15 - Phoenix, AZ at FilmBar

April 16 - Chicago, IL at Music Box Theatre with Lance Bangs and Slint band members

April 16 - Lexington, KY at Farish Theater

April 16 - Columbus, OH at Gateway Film Center

April 16 - Kansas City, MO at Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet

April 19 - Pittsburgh, PA at The Hollywood Dormont

April 30 - Cambridge, MA at the Brattle Theatre

May 22 - Memphis, TN at Memphis Brooks Museum of Art

May 13 - Derby, UK at Derby Film Festival

June 11 in Minneapolis

Michael T. Fournier

New poetry: Liam Swanson

The First Murderer

He will come to you
thrice-tongued and
bird-named and point

and say, I know you.
He will have horses
for friends. He will

be an idiot. You will
run forever and even
eventually win. You

will fishhead. You will
walk and lie down slowly.
Blood bashed out of you

fishhead, boat. He will
come for you and will
have friends. You will

dream of very insincere
men who nevertheless
lead planets to war.


After the bombardment,
the man told us to praise

our war and we all clapped
and hooted. We regurgitated

the pellets of one another. We
went back to college. It didn’t

seem so bad, in the cafeteria
with friends and with pepsi.

The killing was indiscriminate.
Some people ran out of missiles

and had to go back to base
for more. They said, Goddammit.

They fought in the sky in whirligig
helicopters; how could they stay up?

And we normal down
below, drink pepsi and hum.

Some even hungover
from the night before.

bio: Liam Swanson graduated from the University of Pittsburgh. His
poetry has appeared in Ophelia Street, Allegheny Review, Three Rivers
Review, and Sonora Review. Hear him read at

New poetry: Sara Emily Kuntz

Black River

Lying in the bathtub with the water on so it never
gets cold, this is where my thoughts go –
bridges, rivers, the sea, the bathtub in a pinch.
I didn’t watch It’s a Wonderful Life this year and have
my cry when the pharmacist boxes
his bad ear. My laugh when he piles on the coconut,
even though she hates coconut,
and she whispers in that same bad ear
that she loves him. And the ending, when he finds
Zuzu’s petals.
The water is constant. But the bathtub is too small for me
to fully immerse.
So I toss and turn, shift and adjust getting every patch of skin
slick with warm-wet-love.
Even rolling onto my stomach – cheek resting
on quickly cooling porcelain,
arms at my side like a strange fish, tail
fin feet in the air touching the wall,
brushing against
the on/off handle.
My ass a barren island, my head a jungle
thick with red-brown vines that trail into the murky sea.
If someone walked in on me
they would probably think that I was dead
and scream. If the bank inspector came for me
would I get an angel too? A pocket full of petals?
A swim in a cold black river?

Eight of Cups

I would get this funny déjà vu in the kitchen
with you: your neck bent, shoulders down, as you sliced
a tomato, or washed out a coffee mug. Your back
like the poor wanderer on the Eight of Cups, familiar.

As a child I’d watch my grandpa hunched over the grill
on the tarmac driveway, or at the sink washing the dishes
after dessert. He told me that cold water dissolves
dairy better than hot, cleans the ice cream bowls faster.

I never knew when he was joking.
You texted me two photos of your face. Beard updates from
three thousand miles as the dimple in your chin
gradually disappears again. In the upper left above your head

hangs an old dutch hex of two unicorns,
watching like the dual-phased moon that hangs
over the wanderer as he leaves behind his cups,
heads for the mountain. Your girlfriend feels threatened.

Wants you to cut out all contact with me.
I’m washing my ice cream bowl in cold water
and I want to ask you if what my grandpa said was true,
but the sad moon says hush and the wanderer keeps walking.

Sara Emily Kuntz has a degree in writing from the University of Pittsburgh and is an MFA candidate at Carlow University.  As an enterprising copy shop employee she self-published ten single poem mini-books, as well as a small run chapbook.  Sara lives in Brooklyn with a big grey cat. Look for more of her work in a forthcoming print issue of Cabildo Quarterly.