DAH is a poet having a human experience. He is a Pushcart Prize and Best of The Net nominee, and the lead editor of the poetry critique group, The Lounge. He is the author of nine books of poetry.
DAH lives in Berkeley, California, where, for the past fifteen years, he has taught yoga: meditation, stretching, and deep relaxation, to children in public and private schools.
Fishbowl: So, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started writing poetry.
DAH: I’m a simple man leading a simple life, who happens to have talent for stringing words together, simple words that some people relate to. Words that are nothing, really. I’m amazed at how one line can mean seven different things to seven different readers. When I was ten, I met William Burroughs. He picked me up and said: “Son, yer gonna be a writer”. He was really tall and skinny and smelled of whisky. But I didn’t know who he was. Then I saw him again, when I was thirty. He was old and slow, and talking about some guy named Kit. It was his seventieth birthday. He was in San Francisco looking for something he’d lost decades ago. I walked up to him, shook his hand, and wished him a happy birthday. He smiled and said: “Thank you, son”. But he didn’t recognize me. As for how I got started as a writer, I don’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t writing something. My ninth grade English teacher was a huge inspiration, and she was sexy, so that helped in keeping my attention on writing because I was writing about her. And I love making up stories that come across as believable.
Fishbowl: How would you describe your style of writing? Where does it come from?
DAH: My writing is subjective to any given reader in that when I write about nature, I’m called a nature writer, and when I’m writing in a dreamy manner, I’m labeled a surrealist. Or when I’m writing in a dark and pessimistic style, I’m considered a downbeat poet. All-in-all, my style is completely dependent on my mood swings, which is due to a variety of feelings caused by my dreams, or the by the miserable state of the world, or by lost love, or death. I have the condition of lifelong, chronic melancholy, and this adds gallons of fuel to my artistic engine, whether it is writing, photography, painting … the bottom line is, I’ve been categorized so many times that it’s fascinating to read what critics (both haters and lovers) have to say. As for my style and where it comes from, mostly early-20th Century European surrealism.
Fishbowl: What are you reading right now?
DAH: I’ve always been a reader of three or four books at one time. Currently, for poetry, I’m reading The Twenty-Ninth Year by Hala Alyan. For a Biography I’m reading Grace by Robert Lacey, and I’m also reading (again) The Atheist Manifesto by Michel Onfray. For creative fiction, I’m reading (again) An Imaginary Life by David Malouf. Being that I live in a city that has several used book stores (I know, I’m lucky), it’s easy to find inexpensive titles.
Fishbowl: So, shameless self-promotion time. What projects do you have going on right now?
DAH: If we don’t promote ourselves, then who will? Last month, my ninth book of poetry, SPHERICAL, was published by Argotist Press (Liverpool, England). This collection, which is a FREE download ebook, consists of about 50 micro-metaphysical poems (now I’ll be labeled a metaphysical poet). I also have four unpublished manuscripts that are ready and waiting to be published. So, it’s time, again, to start knocking on publisher’s doors. NOTE: To download a FREE copy of SPHERICAL, go to my WEB Site, dahlusion.wordpress.com, and click on “Books”. Also, if there are any poetry book publishers reading this review, you can contact me at, firstname.lastname@example.org, for a copy of any of my unpublished manuscripts. Also, my seventh book, Something Else’s Thoughts (Transcendent Zero Press, 2018) was recently reviewed by Mad Swirl Magazine, and they liked it! You can also find that review on my WEB Site, Click “Reviews”.
Fishbowl: Any social media links you would like to share so our readers can connect and learn more about you and your work?
DAH: Yes, I have a few: Instagram: @dahlusion – Twitter: @dahlusion – Writers Café.org, search DAH — Facebook: Words of Dahlusion, and my personal WEB Site: dahlusion.wordpress.com.
Fishbowl: So, tell us a bit about your featured poems.
DAH: “fragmented, no 2” came out of a recent dream where a lover from the early 1980’s appeared; we were walking on a beach, then suddenly we were walking through an unfamiliar city park, and then lying in bed together, feeling hot and cold simultaneously.
“Cellar Flood Blotter” came to me a few days later, out of the same dream/memories of the same past lover. I had seen a foto of her on LINKEDIN, and it stirred more of my imagination.
“Diagnosis” comes (partly) from the recent sudden death of a longtime dear friend. I had been shocked and depressed for many weeks. This piece has some of those feelings, as in:
What seems like absence,
what seems like change,
is to leave behind.
and “Ashes, Earth” is a poem that was written in the wake of his death.
“Beholder” is about another past lover. We had an on again, off again relationship that was like wildfire, filled with furry and passion, love and hate.
“Habits and Rabbits” is clearly one of my nature-boy poems with a side of surrealism. This was composed after a pre-dawn mug of black Peruvian Dark Roast. I stepped out into my garden and this poem appeared in the air.
Fishbowl: Let’s take a look at the pieces.
DAH: Sounds like fun to me!
fragmented, no. 2
… the architecture of waves, pelicans in adagio
but a tempo slower, the silver-colored fish, streaks
of light, like conversations out of reach, counting
waves, the soft and hard ones …
the sun-reflected surface makes me sleepy
as if a hypnotist at work: my thoughts resisting
this sleep that feels like the final dust of my
starfish sucking the life out of clams,
the weight of the ocean …
… the frail branches of an old tree, an old woman
an old dog, a city that’s outbuilding itself, straight
up from Hell, straight into the atmosphere, across
the sky, across the universe …
at sunset, the challenge the sun has to stay alive,
as if a magician at work: darkness falls, like the dead
flame of life, several seconds pass, then several more,
I collect the darkness …
time flies, like a harbinger of bad news, like
an awkward simile that needs explaining …
… of all of my loves, of those who were actually
lovers, either married or single, you were the one
who drew me in, against our will, both hearts fell,
bodies withered and jerked …
at sunrise everything reshaped, our bodies felt
alien to each other: nothing has changed but the
distance between us, always these forbidden
how our voices grew hoarse, outside it was raining,
everything had rusted …
Cellar Flood Blotter
Your absence, a dry emptiness,
like quiet dust lying on the bed.
Lips, in need of moisture.
Folded bedding, perhaps a broken wing.
Sunrise, light climbs from its cellar.
I move into the shadows, as if
returning to a vault, weight of darkness
like a hole in the ground.
Thinking of your eyes, that night,
against the serious sky,
I was touching your hot trigger, and you,
wet as a flooded earth, then I
entered you, like a god enters creation, your
nipples swelled into exploding stars.
Later, you complained I ripped the button
from your pants. I fell silent, still absorbing
you on my tongue, like a blotter that had
soaked up a spill.
The things we have learned,
or have not learned,
the things we have forgotten.
What seems like absence,
what seems like change,
is to leave behind.
And if change looks like
throwing things away
then, what have we learned?
To keep remembering
we go on living
dropping pieces of ourselves:
a bruise here,
a breakdown there,
some sort of detection …
I light a joint / and continue
letting daylight in
letting nightlight in
Time is a strange clock
filled with days & nights
hiding their voices
closing their eyes
Your life has ended
I walk the streets
to keep strolling with you
to keep speaking with you
but it’s time to clear
what’s inside of me
to level my thoughts
to breathe your sleepy air
You have floated away
carried by wind, ashes to earth
I light a joint / and continue
(for my dear friend, Adam Duhan)
In the dark, fear glows
In the light, the sun’s
Across the sky, geese
like open hands flying
Backtrack the future and
return to the lighter air
of youth that had slipped
from our lives
The apple fell, rolled and
you picked it up, felt
the burning, glowing,
Smell of warm sex rising
in the afternoon
like smoke or a blessing,
in tall summer grass, damp
and the gardener’s voyeurism,
with erection in hand
and you, flexing, erupting
speaking in tongues
Habits and Rabbits
In the eyes of dawn
morning rises to the glass sun’s
All of this beauty is like a habit
Why is life so beautiful?
–– because it has everything
Open your eyes,
unleash your shadow,
let it roam dark, nocturnal
All of this beauty
is like a rabbit hopping
Fishbowl: All of your poems are blowing me away right now, DAH, but I love “fragmented, no. 2”. This is an amazing poem with vivid details and (like “Cellar Flood Blotter” and “Beholder”) artfully juxtaposes and assimilates human bodies against “landscapes” (traditional and not so much), making them one with their environments. Reading these one gets a sense of ‘essence’ not ‘meat’, per se: a definite challenge when someone is holding their erection in their hand (reference to “Beholder”). What is your relationship with physicality and space you’ve negotiated in your work?
DAH: Thank you for this high compliment. My belief is that humans, nature, space, etc. are the same in that there is nobody, or anything, in the universe that is more important than anything else. I deny the existence of gods, goddesses, or saviors. So, for me, there is no separation, everything is one part of the whole, and many of my poems reflect this belief.
The scene with the gardener watching my lover and I is as real as it gets in any of my works. I spotted him out of the corner of my eye behind a bush, and our passion was too hot for us to stop and to get up and leave.
Fishbowl: “Ashes, Earth” is a beautifully vulnerable piece that seems to speak of a double-loss: a physical separation and, ultimately, a psychic one via final acceptance. However, one gets the feeling the surrounding world never stops moving, making it the only alternative, creating an even more sympathetic character. How easy (or difficult) was it to write this piece?
DAH: This poem was one of the hardest pieces for me to write. I had just left the ICU at a local hospital where my friend was taking his last breaths (with the help of LIFE SUPPORT) after a highly destructive heart attack. Shortly after I had left, his wife turned the machine off, as it was obvious by the diagnosed brain damage that he wasn’t coming back, nor could he breathe
without the machine. This poem conveys my exact feelings, I was lost and confused for days, and then I snapped out of it and realized that I needed “to clear what’s inside of me / to level my thoughts” to “light a joint / and continue with life”.
Fishbowl: I love the idea of ‘beauty’ being beautiful for its own sake, outside of light and shadow and the theme of ‘fearlessness’ in “Habits and Rabbits”. How did you learn this life lesson?
DAH: By failing and falling, and getting up again and again, and opening my eyes wider each time that I had recovered … I love whimsy and I love irony, there’s so much of it in life that, for me, it’s fuel for creativity, for joy, for experiencing the living art in life.
Fishbowl: What is next for DAH?
DAH: Besides working on editing a few manuscripts of new poetry (which these poems are from) I am, for the first time in my life, gathering some of my fine art fotos for compiling into book of fotographic works. This is a project that has no projected date for finishing or publishing. Here’s one of the fotos titled “Dying Calla Lilly”. Taken in my garden in 1999.
Fishbowl: Great, DAH! Any parting thoughts? Advice for aspiring writers out there?
DAH: In the world of art, any art, rejection is a huge part of the process. Embrace rejection as much as you’d embrace acceptance, learn from it and move on, and keep pushing, keep producing, stay focused.
Fishbowl: Last question… What would you want the epitaph on your gravestone to say?
DAH: I’LL DO IT TOMORROW (my wife will agree with this).
Foto of “DAH” is by Photographer, Kai Shuman