Seasonal American Sentences

The Rad Santa reading last night at Lottie’s Lounge was a huge success. Graham Isaac hosted and invited me along with three other writers, including Jocelyn McDonald, Chris Gusta and Ra’anan David and the idea was that we would read some Holiday-themed work. Jocelyn’s story was about a real-life Christmas in which a relationship with a Marxist Ph.D. student fell apart and Chris Gusta had some holiday poems which he realized later all had references to his cat.

I read Frank O’Hara’s Christmas Card to Grace Hartigan:

Frank O'Hara Christmas Card to Grace Hartigan

Frank O’Hara Christmas Card to Grace Hartigan






















and being the day after the Winter Solstice (my favorite part of the Holiday season) Charles Olson’s:


right in my eye
4 PM December 2nd arrived
at my kitchen
window blazing
5 at me full in the
face approaching
the hill it sets
behind glaring
in its burst of late
10 heat right on me
and as orange and hot
as sun at noonday practically
can be. Only this one
is straight at me like a
15 beam shot to hit me
It feels like
enforcing itself
on me giving me its
message that it is sliding
20 under the hill and
that I better
hear it say
be hot man
be hot
25 be hot and orange
like I am
I am
sending you
this message as
30 I slip exactly to
West I am burning you man
as I leave I’m even stronger
now just as I
go I am already
35 cooled that much but still
I turn on you
and flare
as I start to
go. But still
40 hot and red now blaring
on the slope of my disappearance
Now I begin to
go hear me I
45 have sent you
the message I am

But I noticed in preparing for the reading that I do not have a lot of Holiday-themed work of my own. I would read my elegy for Wanda Coleman, who died November 22, 2013 and end with my Nine Sonnets for Pop, as my Dad turns 85 on December 27, but knew I could mine my American Sentences for Holiday-themed poems. Yet, even there, the pickings were slim, but I managed to copy a few for my purposes last night and present them with my most sincere wish for a Happy Holiday Season for you and yours despite the ongoing pinko liberal attack on our most sacred of days:

Seasonal American Sentence Compilation


About Splabman

Paul Nelson is founder of SPLAB (Seattle Poetics LAB) in Seattle, the Cascadia Poetry Festival and the August POetry POstcard Fest (PoPo). He has published a collection of essays, Organic Poetry & a serial poem re-enacting the history of Auburn, WA, A Time Before Slaughter (shortlisted for a 2010 Genius Award by The Stranger) and American Sentences, a book of 17 syllable poems drawn from the first fourteen of his 20 years of daily practice. The tenth anniversary edition of that book includes Pig War: & Other Songs of Cascadia. He’s interviewed Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, Wanda Coleman, Anne Waldman, Sam Hamill, Robin Blaser, Nate Mackey, Eileen Myles, George Bowering, Diane di Prima, Brenda Hillman, George Stanley, Joanne Kyger & many Cascadia poets (see: has presented his poetry and poetics in London, Brussels, Bothell, Cumberland, BC, Qinghai and Beijing, China, Lake Forest, Illinois, Ukiah, CA, and other places & writes an American Sentence every day.
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2 Responses to Seasonal American Sentences

  1. Amand Dowd says:

    Nice. Thanks. Sent this into the world via FB.

  2. Splabman says:

    Happy Holidays Amanda.

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