The Review of Arts, Literature,
Philosophy and the Humanities

  Number 286

Late Spring/Early Summer

15 Wriggly Animals
We've often been
attracted to furry things that wriggle
and lick your face while wetting your foot.
We dedicate this issue to many of these lovable lickers
(along with some stinkers, too.)

WPA Buildings
"With well over eleven million unemployed,
why is there not a new WPA giving jobs to those
throughout the country who are in such desperate straits?
A gentle and inspired system to rebuild our cities,
give work to those who so desperately need it,
offer hope to all."

A Guided Tour of Hell
"You think the Christian hell is a bother.
Wait until you get a gander at the Buddha's Hells.
It's like that old weather joke
we used to do on the air:
'Today's forecast - - - Fire and Ice, followed by
the End of the World.'"

Isabella of Castile
"Tremlett's unsentimental portrait
reveals an ambitious queen whose accomplishments
of prescient religious reform, westward exploration,
and empire-building far outshone those of her
contemporary European monarchs."

The Elephants in My Backyard
"He also goes to Pondicherry
to see how everyone lives there, and if,
before, we were resisting him and his need to
overdo everything, we melt with him under the sun
in that city."

A Thin Bright Line
"The government during this period
was hard at work exposing all suspected gays and Communists.
The air in Washington was poison.
Friends would turn on friends as, indeed,
one of her friends was feeding constant updates
on all of her doings to the FBI."

At the Edge of the Orchard
"The reader is quickly caught up
in the wretched lives, pure nightmare exacerbated by
the deadly, hopeless, poverty-stricken life
on this blasted unyielding earth,
five of the Goodenough children already laid in their graves;
the surviving five doomed to war
from within and without."

The Selected Letters of John Cage
"The famed Zen master Charlotte Joko-Beck
had a universal answer to those who wanted to
find The Way: Listen to the Traffic.
Cage took this seriously, incorporating street sounds,
people sounds, world sounds as subjects for
meditation and music."

Great Reviews from the Past
This Life
"Why is it so captivating?
Do they just hand out spells to anyone
who wants them there in the stoep?
My suspicion is that the only one
who knows the answer would be Karel Schoeman.
His job is to write it and send out to the world
(and with the help of a good translator)
give us a mesmerizing book."

"Egon paints most anything,
but sometimes, instead of using canvas, he paints on people:
He springs to his feet, smears the brush into a brown disk
on the tray and begins to dab at the older man, staining the collar of his shirt,
his cheek, his temple, his bald pate, shrieking,
'I can't stop myself!' jousting with his little brush,
thrusting his pelvis forward. "

Al Capone's Beer Wars

The Founders of RALPH

This Life by Karel Schoeman

The Richard A. C. Greene Campaign
"Back in 1968,
some friends and I put together a campaign
for Washington State Land Commissioner."
Since Richard had won the Republican nomination by a fluke,
we decided to run the whole thing as a fluke.
Here is an article about the whole
silly performance."

Cancer in Midlife
"At this moment,
Paul Simmons would love to have a drink,
many drinks, as a matter of fact.
But he has promised himself that he will
never have a drink again until he is dying,
really and truly dying.
Then he will drink Manhattans and gin and tonics and
dirty martinis and single malt scotch and all the new-fangled
beers that they are serving all over Omaha in the bars
that he never enters."

Great Readings from the Past
How Not to Move a Dead Whale
"On its way to a wildlife reservation for disposal of the carcass,
the truck drove through the center of Tainan,
where, on a busy street, the gases produced
by internal decay caused the whale to explode.
Aside from the nauseating gas,
a shower of entrails and blood rained down on shops and people,
and although the crowd tried to disperse,
the hubbub stopped traffic for hours."

Heart Test with an Echo Chamber
"This is the heart as television,
a softcore addiction
of the afternoon. The heart
as entertainment, out of date
in black and white.
The technicians watch the screen,
looking for something: a block, a leak,
a melodrama, a future
sudden death, clenching
of this fist which goes on
shaking itself at fate."

Seven Poems from the Writers of RALPH
Tootie-Fruit ME & Ass-Grasp LA
"In our town we have widows Arsy Versy
watering their proud buttocks with tears
witches who might let us off, without consultation
at the dump at Pork Chop MO or Dog Stool IL,
Twelve at the depot with their bent ankles
      And a blind (but healthy) love for sweet trifles."

The Battle at Little Bull Run
"My family eats love for dessert
Topped with nutmeats and cherries.
When asked, they smile out of the past
And crush the small rebellions we bring
From school: crayon drawings of skulls,
Paper dolls with scrofula, dead pups."

A Cricket in the Telephone (At Sunset)
"I could hear the border guards cheering
So it must have been after midnight;
A mosquito (Stegomyia, not Anopheles)
Was singing love songs in my ear.
You called the cell to tell me something about
Mothers, or was it Mother, or was it me?
Microscopic electrons from microspace
Turned your voice to fruit-salad."

Saturn Rings about the Alhambra
"You gave me three days and two nights.
I slept next to you alongside a thousand
Thousand lilies-of-the-valley blowing;
There was a festive explosion of monsoons
And volcanoes tracing along my various

The Chocolate Soldier
"At moonfall the Sonoran desert
Smells of creosote and dust.
Perhaps you never knew, until that night.
Perhaps you never knew you told me
You had the wasting disease."

Ravensbrück Love Poem
"Your body was thin as my own,
Your eyes as large. Your eyes
Were my own, were they not?
The lice (rich with our blood)
Fed lovingly, supping on the
Nectars of your heart:
Bloodlust dropping off
On the dusty floors."

The Vivisection Mambo
"When she takes the sword, kisses the blade just so
And places it gently in my gut and slides it up:
I think on the lace she wears to the dance,
            And before her, breasts like great engines
        Pushing love around the ball, into all of us."

Lovers Set in Stone
"Even worse is what happens
to those who violate the vow of chastity
that one must make for the excursion.
One lusty, overeager couple, it is said,
stopped by the roadside to engage in some
hanky-panky and presto, were changed to stone.
To this day, it is said, they are stuck there,
somewhere off in the mountains,


The Vivisection Mambo
was recently published in quality antique typeset style.
It consists of 125 poems of the new Neo-Realist School,
many appearing here for the first time.
In a starred review, Kirkus called it
A fine anthology of some of the best contemporary poetry around.

The Noisiest Book Review in the Known World
was published over three years ago.
It contains 200 or so of what we believe
to be the best articles, readings, reviews and poems
from this magazine --- from our very first years to now.
If you subscribe to RALPH, you get a free copy of this anthology ---
which was listed by Kirkus as
"One of the Best Books of 2014."

All the back-issues of RALPH,
including titles of books under review,
along with author, subject, and publisher,
plus links to readings, articles, and poems
that have appeared on-line
since 1994.

In our General Index, from day one,
we have given stars to those titles that
our editors deemed to be of "especial merit."
You can now find them all here,
listed alphabetically by title.

b. 1985 - d. 1989
Our predecessor magazine received
enthusiastic encomiums from media writers at
The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times,
The San Francisco Chronicle,
and on
National Public Radio --- among others.
You can now find links here to all thirteen riotous issues.

of our most notorious reviews
as collected in the hard-copy

With your $25 subscription,
you help perpetuate honest,
noisy, pesky book reviews ---
plus ensure the survival of
this rare if odd online literary journal.
You will also receive
a free copy of our anthology,
the two-volume Best-of-Ralph
which, is, in the real world, they say, priceless.

T H E  F A C T S
Submitting Reviews, Poems & Essays
Suggestions for would-be contributors --- and payment schedule.
Submitting Books
The best way to get books to RALPH for review.
RALPH didn't spring full-blown from the brows of the gods:
     We've been around (in different guises) for over thirty years.     
The Fessenden Fund
Describing the good works of RALPH's official godparent
Mho & Mho Works
A Dozen or so Books from Our Foundation's Publishing Arm
Behind the Scenes

The Faces of Those Who Make Up the Face of RALPH
Copyright Notice
The Reginald A. Fessenden Educational Fund, Inc.
2015 - 2016
476,768 Unique Visitors
1,645,139 Page Hits

Lolita Lark, Editor-In-Chief
Post Office Box 16719
San Diego CA 92176

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