David Estringel is a reader / writer /poet / bibliophile and Writing Studies teaching assistant at the University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley, located in Brownsville, Texas (USA). He received his BA in English in 1992 from the University of Texas at Brownsville and will receive his MAIS in English (concentration in Literature & Cultural Studies) Summer 2020. He will also receive his MFA in Creative Writing in May 2020. Future plans include a lot of writing and publishing more his poetry and short-stories, teaching college literature and creative writing, reading all the books in his library (1310 and counting), and publishing his second book of poetry.
His work has been accepted and/or published by Specter Magazine, Foliate Oak Magazine, Terror House Magazine, Expat Press, 50 Haikus, littledeathlit, Down in the Dirt, Route 7 Review, Setu Bilingual Journal, Paper Trains Journal, The Elixir Magazine, Soft Cartel, Harbinger Asylum, Briars Lit, Open Arts Forum, Cajun Mutt Press, Former People Journal, The Ugly Writers, Writ in Dust, Cephalopress, Twist in Time, Merak Magazine, Salt Water Soul, Cherry House Press, Subterranean Blue Poetry, Printed Words, Sunflower Sutras, Tulip Tree Publishing (“Story of the Week”), Salt Ink, PPP Ezine, Digging through the Fat, Haiku Journal, Foxhole Magazine, The Basil O’Flaherty, Three Line Poetry, Agony Opera, The Siren’s Call Ezine, Alien Buddha Press, Alien Buddha Press Ezine, Synchronized Chaos, Pantheon of Poesy, The @baffled Haiku Daily, Blood Moon Rising Magazine, Grey Borders Press, The Blue Nib, Fishbowl Press, Horror Sleaze Trash, Poetizer, Rigorous Magazine, Corvus Review, Spillwords Press, Proletaria Journal, Cherry Magazine, Bleached Butterfly, Poetry Pea/Haiku Pea, TL;DR Press, Spit Poet Zine, Channillo, and The Good Men Project, where he is a Lead Editor and columnist (“Going Grey with David Estringel”). He is also a Contributing Editor (fiction) at Red Fez, a writer and contributing editor at The Elixir Magazine, columnist at Channillo, and Fiction Reader at riverSedge: A Journal of Art & Literature. “Featured Writer” (monthly) at Cajun Mutt Press and Poetry Editor at Fishbowl Press.
David’s work has also been accepted for publication in five anthologies: Dreamscapes (Cherry House Press), Briar’s Lit Vol. II (Briars Lit), Alien Buddha’s House of Horrors (Alien Buddha Press), Psalms of the Alien Buddha (Alien Buddha Press), DADDY: A Cultural Anthology (Grey Border Books), and Shades of Pride (TL;DR Press). His first collection of poetry and prose, Indelible Fingerprints, was published in April 2019 by Alien Buddha Press.
David has been working on his first collection of poetry chapbooks Blue, Civil Wars, Trois, and life in/verse. His first feature-length collection of poetry and prose Indelible Fingerprints was accepted for publication at Alien Buddha Press March 2019 and published April 1, 2019. He is also diving “head first” into short-story writing that will mostly encompass oeuvres of dirty realism and the surreal.
David has also been interviewed by South Florida Poetry Journal (USA), poetry mini interviews (Canada), and authors interviews (UK).
David’s main goal for 2019 is to launch The Tripping Muse, a literary magazine that will feature poetry, fiction, essays, and interviews for folks who LOVE good writing without the literary snobbery or the rigid aesthetics.
Fishbowl: So, before we dive into your poems and dissect them to death, can you tell us a bit about who you are as a poet? How did you get started?
DE: I wish I had a definitive answer to that, actually.
Fishbowl: How so?
DE: Well, my first real stab at writing poetry happened about 30 years ago during my undergrad at the University of Texas. I was working on my BA in English and decided I would take a creative writing course to satisfy one of my electives. I had always fancied myself as being a “writer just waiting to happen” and thought that would be the perfect vehicle to explore that part of myself. When it came time to delve into poetry, I didn’t really ‘feel’ it, truth be told. All that changed, however, once I put pen to paper and started writing it. Sure, there were a couple of rough starts, but I got into the groove of it, eventually, and the words just came. Poetry was this ‘thing’ that tapped directly into my emotions (most of which I wasn’t really in touch with) and made them concrete. It was more than catharsis: it was a connection to something safe, to myself. For the first time, I felt like I could actually express what was going on inside me (my head). I was hooked.
I never explored writing much beyond what I did in class, though. Life happened and pursuing ‘the practical’ seemed more sensible. Even back then, the likelihood of making a living as a writer without holding down multiple jobs wasn’t too realistic.
It wasn’t until the age of 49 that I decided to throw caution to the wind and dare to think that my life (and career) could be different. I decided to go back to school and get a graduate degree in English (Literature and Cultural Studies) and, again, I threw myself into a creative writing class (i.e., Theory and Form – Poetry). Almost immediately, the poems just started to flow. This time, however, the writing continued after the class was over. Not only did I have three decades of fails, trainwrecks, and angst to get off my chest, I had lived life and finally had things to write about.
Like before, my poetry was a way for me to express my feelings (good and bad). Reading my initial creations, it is obvious that there is a lot of angst that I still had to process from my 20s, but there is a tint of maturity in them that wasn’t there before. I spent a good six months in that (head) space before things shifted. My themes became less abstract and steeped in Classicism and Romanticism and more reflective of the ‘dirty realism’ I love so much in short fiction (namely Raymond Carver). Experimenting with language and structure became a focus, as well as pushing my comfort levels. I wasn’t sure how such an evolution in style would be received but letting things run their course seemed the way to go. Luckily, my newer, more experimental pieces were well-received and my willingness to take more risks, stylistically, increased.
Little by little, exploring my own vulnerabilities, the complexities of life, God, and sexuality became fodder for my poetry. Through that process, I discovered bits and pieces of myself that I never even knew existed nor could explain (i.e., writing erotic poetry with a heterosexual male voice…WTF?). To each his own, I suppose.
Before, poetry helped me express. Now, it helps me make sense of the world and to some extent myself.
Fishbowl: So, tell us a bit about your featured poems.
DE: I chose to submit these three poems, mainly, cause they are among the ones that I am most proud of. “And the Beat Goes On” was purely a gift from my muse (yes, I believe I have one). I never wrote anything “beat-inspired” before and, honestly, never had any intention to. The notion to do so came out of the blue and, frankly, I fought it for days before I finally succumbed to it. Once I let it just happen, it popped out in about an hour, fully-formed. I think it comes from my general dissatisfaction with the way things are in American society. Who can’t speak to that? I was an opportunity to play with language and structure, as well as incorporate a bit of rhyme, which I rarely do. Overall, it was fun piece to write. “joshua” was more difficult to put down on paper, though. I wrote it after hearing that an ‘ex’ of mine had passed away nine years prior. No one even knew it happened, coming to light purely by accident–a friend came across an obit by chance online. It was, perhaps, one of the most chaotic and psychologically damaging relationships I have ever been in, which explains the hints of anger one can find threaded through the words. Still, makes me sad to read, but it was nice to get it out and people really seemed to resonate with it. “Kiss Me, Again, Again, and Again” has to be my favorite poem hands-down. It was my first foray into “erotic” poetry, really, and is quite raw. Despite the graphic wrapping, it is really about the feeling of being at the other end of a really good kiss. Oddly, “Kiss Me…” was where I first realized that I 1) had a thing for writing erotic stuff and 2) did so in a heterosexual male voice. I find that is my automatic default when I work ‘blue’. Most likely I will need extensive psychotherapy to unpack that shit, but I just go with it. LOL.
Fishbowl: Let’s take a look at the pieces.
“And the Beat Goes On”
(originally published by littledeathlit)
Dropping from the air
upon ears like paper blotters on willing tongues,
raging at the bloodlessness of cardboard cutouts against a shrinking sky,
through psychedelic lenses
let me seeeee, let me beeeee the pulse of silent rage
that rails against the vulgar machine
that organize, legitimize, minimize, super-size, tranquilize, proselytize, tantalize, infantilize,
sexualize, stigmatize the suckled teats of long-conditioned truths.
Poking the bear, disturbing the seas of featureless beige,
stirring the comatose anima with battle-cries of sight and sound
that pierce dusty eardrums like sterling icepicks,
repressed wants teeeeem, solemn faces beeeeeam,
liberated in the warmth of a sun that breaks just beyond the horizon on coffee-house stages,
to gestate, ruminate, conjugate, propriate, sublimate, fornicate, obliterate, determinate,
propagate, exfoliate dangerous visions, birthed from the unfetteredness of a purple haze.
Fueling the scribblings of furious hands upon white sheets with whisky and cigarettes,
Making, naked, ugly underbellies of the angst-ridden and inflamed
with the glorious promises of their ecstatic treasure-trails,
let’s revel in the coolness of poetry’s heeeeeat, indulged in pollen-dusted skin so sweeeeet
within the honeyed tangles of poets’ asymmetries
to detoxify, dulcify, intensify, demystify, purify, glorify, magnify, beautify, electrify, sanctify
our bodily streams of light that sugar lips and candy the fingertips.
Tearing away at the fabric, unraveling, woven from Gloopstick youth and plasticine smiles,
repulsing at the hoards in their mindless quests for extra-flavor and double-coupon days,
looking for a steeeeeal, wanting to feeeeel,
as hollow dollars crumble to coins when plopped upon unsated palms and countertops.
Think! Think! Think! Think! Think! Think! Think! Think! Think! Think!
We are on the brink
of the Fall of the American Empire.
(originally published by Salt Ink)
I heard, today, that you died
nine years ago.
My friend wasn’t sure—
said he heard whispers–
so he asked for your last name,
but I couldn’t remember
no matter how hard I tried.
Going down the list
in my mind,
yours was the only one—
a blank space
where my heart and mind—
used to be.
It’s been fifteen years.
Why would I?
Why should I?
You left me
months before I walked out the door.
I was too much.
You weren’t enough—
at least that’s what you told yourself.
Nothing would change your mind.
You wouldn’t let it
So, here we are, again,
after all this time.
trying to feel.
a nameless shadow
on the tip of my tongue
that escapes me,
My friend thought it sad
to have been dead for so long
without anyone noticing,
but that is the way you wanted it.
Damn your love
of needles and straws
and backroom shame!
and your enemies within,
for not believing you were worth more!
No, you won’t get my tears–
not this time.
You’ve had your fill.
Bet they still taste as sweet.
But, you can have my hate,
Neither of us needs it,
“Kiss Me, Again, Again, and Again”
(originally published by Terror House Magazine)
The coppery taste of meat beneath your sweet breath lingers
like a penny on the tip of my tongue.
Heads or tails?
My equilibrium’s fucked raw,
as my hands drink-in the warm curvature of your hips.
O, glorious spit—
a little dab will do ya—
streaked red and hot,
never take me from this place,
haunted by the ghost of that breath—
that leaves me…
Words can’t capture what’s smeared on this cheek
sticky and sweet—
so why try.
in that white muslin dress of thigh-stretched daisies
that roll and grin like morning shadows,
smiling at secrets hidden in dark places.
Fishbowl: These offerings are pretty different in terms of subject matter and theme. What was the process behind creating these pieces? All your pieces, in general?
DE: My process is pretty simple. I get hit by inspiration and verses start to put themselves together in my head, at first. Stringing them together, poems seem to just form around them and before I know it I have an idea of what a poem will look like before it is even on paper. My muse tends to whisper in my ear during the most inopportune moments (i.e., while driving (no pen), teaching class, or while at work hold group or individual sessions. Ultimately, I can’t think about the work too much, I guess. I have never been the type to dedicate a specific block of time a day to the writing process. It is a very organic process for me so I jump on the wave as soon as the opportunity allows. I get the most pleasure from creating poetry (and short stories). Once the piece is done, I will know. I get a feeling of satisfaction and closure, pushing the laptop away from me like a dinner plate I have had my fill of. After that, I “kick it out of the nest” and start submitting for publication. From then on out, that “rush” turns more to a feeling that is more sentimental. Weird, I know.
Fishbowl: So, where is this organic process of yours taking you next?
DE: Well, right now I am obsessed with haiku. I always have been. I love the simplicity and purity of it. It captures the complexities in life, simply and in distillate moments. I have quite a few in my first collection of poetry and prose Indelible Fingerprints but have written many more since. I have a chapbook I am waiting to release with a good sampling of them. I have been lucky in getting my newer pieces published thanks to Bleached Butterfly, Proletaria Journal, Haiku Pea, and Spit Poet Zine. My second book will be purely a collection of haiku poetry. Very excited about it.
Fishbowl: What is your haiku poetry typically about?
DE: They are very much about the human condition. I have never been one to wax nostalgic over calyxes, cherry blossoms, or blue herons. Our tendency towards tearing them to pieces does fascinate me, though. I find our absurdities intriguing.
Fishbowl: What is next for David A. Estringel?
DE: I will continue to write poetry, of course, but I want to focus more on short fiction. I have about three stories that have been brewing in my head for a year now, so I have to get them down on paper and do something with them. Hopefully, my second book of poetry will come to completion by the end of the year. I am putting as much energy into that as I can to make that happen. Lastly, I have a few gigs that I have devoted myself to that keep me pretty busy. Being Poetry Editor here at Fishbowl Press has been quite the thrill and I love reading what people submit. The integration of poetry into the platform is a continual thing, for now, so we are pretty excited to see where all this will take us. I am also a regular contributor at The Elixir Magazine and Cajun Mutt Press and plan to be for the long-haul.
Fishbowl: Great, David! Any parting thoughts? Advice for aspiring writers out there?
DE: I have two things: 1) It is never too late to start and 2) no boundaries. I started writing, seriously, at 49 and my life has completely changed for the better. Once I got out of my own way, things just seemed to fall into place.