David Estringel is a ‘2019 Best of the Net’ nominee, whose 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, Arthut, ICOE Press, Logos, Ponder Savant, Outcast Magazine, Z Publishing, Impspired Magazine, Drunk Monkeys, Headline Poetry, Forever Endeavour, Queer As In Fuck You!, Clarendon House Publications, CultureCult Press, Poetry Festival, Locust Magazine, fresh.ink, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Poetry NI, Channillo, and The Good Men Project. He is also a contributing editor at Red Fez, The Elixir Magazine, Fiction Reader at riverSedge: A Journal of Art & Literature, ‘Featured Writer’ (monthly) at Cajun Mutt Press, and Poetry Editor at Fishbowl Press.
Fishbowl: So, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started writing poetry.
DE: I currently live in Brownsville, TX and am an MFA in Creative Writing student at the University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley. During my graduate studies there, I started to take some workshop courses, which kick-started a long flirtation with poetry that had been rumbling under the surface for decades. I took my first poetry class during the senior year of my BA in English and discovered I had a passion for it. Life happened, however, and I ended up pursuing more practical pursuits. Now, at 50 years old, I have come to realize that practicality is overrated, so I have returned to my passion and have been writing poetry, short stories, CNF, and essays for over a year now. I have never been happier, but it is hard work.
Fishbowl: How would you describe your style of writing? Where does it come from?
DE: I am a disciple of Raymond Carver so most of my stuff is heavily grounded in dirty realism. I think there is a beauty in the harshness of life IF you choose to look close enough. Human qualities, such as resilience, grit, depth, and strength don’t dazzle in the sun, they glimmer in the dark. What is good about our humanness isn’t discernible unless you look at it through a lens of loss, pain, and struggle. Heavy, yes, but true.
Fishbowl: What are you reading right now?
DE: Right now I am reading Ulysses: The 1922 Edition by James Joyce. Finding time to crack that nut has been a struggle, but I am committed to hunkering down and getting through it soon.
Fishbowl: So, shameless self-promotion time. What projects do you have going on right now?
DE: Right now I am sort of all over the place in terms of editing. I am Poetry Editor here at Fishbowl Press, Poetry Co-Editor at The Elixir Magazine, and a Fiction Editor at Red Fez. I never thought I would ever get into the “editing biz” but my time at The Good Men Project as a writer and a Lead Editor turned me on to the prospect. I do have a second book coming out later this Fall that is an illustrated collection of haiku, little punctures. It is a collaborative piece with UK artist Luca Bowles, who illustrated a prose poetry piece of mine, “When I Think of Him I Think of Black Coffee and Red Plum Jam,” for Foxhole Magazine this past Spring 2019. If all goes well, it will be my sophomore release with Alien Buddha Press to my first collection of poetry and prose Indelible Fingerprints. I also have been blessed to secure a couple of Artist-in-Residence spots at The Elixir Magazine and Cajun Mutt Press, having my work regularly featured on a monthly basis. I love my gig at Cajun Mutt Press and love how that platform has made me dig into my sense of duende. I was lucky enough to have been nominated for “2019 Best of the Net” in Poetry for my poem “little deaths” (Cajun Mutt Press), been long-listed for “Over the Top New Writer of the Year 2019” in Poetry, and included in Z Publishing’s Texas’ Best Emerging Poets 2019: An Anthology. Indeed, it has been a great first year of writing.
Fishbowl: Any social media links you would like to share so our readers can connect and learn more about you and your work?
Fishbowl: So, tell us a bit about your featured poems.
DE: These poems were written in the months of November and December 2018. During that time I was exploring darker themes and playing with language more. I feel especially connected to these pieces and feel that they were part of a “shift” that took me to a different place, internally. They explore things like mental illness, substance use, and heartache in pretty unapologetic terms. I also connected to a part of my creative self that dwelled in the darkly erotic. I guess one could say I learned to let go…a bit.
Fishbowl: Let’s take a look at the pieces.
Smooth Whiskey (originally published at Cephalorpress)
The days are long in a life of slow motion. Waking up takes too long, despite the violent assaults of the alarm clock, unchained by a snooze button—-like me—worn down to the circuitry.
Get up late, again. Take a whore bath in the bathroom sink. Wash what needs it and get out the door. Shower’d be nice…really nice. Maybe tomorrow. Probably not, again.
Office clocks–harbingers of death to my soul–lament the dying of the fire, within. Telephone rings perforate the recirculated air of lungs and mouths like a symphony of electric crickets, tuning-up beneath the hepatic glow of fluorescent suns outside my cubicle’s walls.
Driving home in the same car, down the same roads, in the same rancid clothes that need more than just a good airing out, stuck in this bad track mix, playing on a loop, I need a drink. There’s a bottle at home. Whiskey, I think–a gift for my 50th. It goes down, rough, but smooth, after a glass or two or three.
Smooth is good in a life of no motion.
Blue Room (originally published at Former People Journal)
are hardest to bear,
atop these unwashed sheets
that smell of you and me,
crinkled and heavy
of you and me—
our sweat and loving juices.
I am tethered
to flashes of smiles and kisses
beneath the sweetness
of heated exhales.
To smell your breath,
and taste you
on the back of my tongue.
To pull you into me
by the small of your back
into the warmth of white musk–
a tangle of tongues, fingers, and limbs.
To have you—
is all I want.
my legs brush against the cold
rustle of sheets
you left behind,
cutting the airlessness
of this room.
I close my eyes
and sink my face into the depths
of your pillow,
escaping the void
that even silence’s ring has forgotten,
and take you
this lover’s kaddish.
The scent of your hair—
blue fig and oranges—
are but pebbles on the gravestone.
little deaths (originally published at Cajun Mutt Press)
of liquid light
that set the skin
to sizzle on the spit
like slow-cooked meat,
in greedy clutches,
skin from skin,
limb from limb,
sinew from bone
until all is gone,
for the taste of coppery bliss
of chewed lips,
these beautiful bodies—
heartbeats and exhales
of viscera and vasculature
with eyelids, aflutter—
into black, into white—
strobes of abstract consciousness.
every morning, a resurrection.
Sucking the Marrow (originally published at Writ in Dust)
of hungry drags
from flaming cigarette cherries.
of ice cubes
from sweaty glasses,
for heavy splashes of gin.
from the silence
that have had their due.
for the soothing balm
Killers (originally published at Writ in Dust)
I cut you
to watch you bleed.
You starve me
to see me wither.
we should look back
upon that lifeless heap
“How could you let that happen?”
Fishbowl: Where did “Smooth Whiskey” come from?
DE: LOL. “Smooth Whiskey” is a rather autobiographical piece that speaks to what it is like grappling with depression. It is essentially about powerlessly living in a rut (a deep, dark, black hole) day after day with the consciousness of doing so. It is hard to explain unless you have sojourned into “the bell jar” yourself. Trust, it isn’t fun. Originally, I wanted “Smooth Whiskey” to be a short story about something completely different but chucked the idea; however, I loved the title, so I was determined to use it somewhere.
Fishbowl: Both “Blue Room” and “little deaths” have definite erotic elements to them but are discernably different with the former having more subtle undertones. What does “the erotic” add to your work?
DE: Well, I don’t write about love because I suck at it, frankly. ‘Sex’ I have the hang of, but writing about sex (at least to me) is pretty boring. Tapping into the eos of the experience, however, is where the beauty of the act is. The “spiritual” fire in us that becomes ignited when we connect with someone else, intimately, is rife with meaning and narrative and THAT is what finds its way into my “erotic poems”. The more subtle piece, “Blue Room”, is about being disconnected from that fire and the longing that comes from that. “little deaths” is more “in your face” about it, touching on the “after” of sex, where bodies are left consumed by spiritual heat and their amazingness of being consumed over and over and over again: “–every morning a resurrection.”
Fishbowl: “Sucking the Marrow” and “Killers” seem to follow along the same vein, immersing the reader in the ‘feeling’ of the moment rather than focusing on what is actually happening. So, is that your focus when it comes to your work?
DE: Definitely. The things that happen to us are pretty arbitrary, really. The feelings, reactions, and responses we have to these events are what create our realities and define us as individuals. We respond emotionally based upon the narratives we tell ourselves about others, ourselves, and things. I often tell folks who want to submit poetry to Fishbowl Press, “Don’t tell me how you felt, show me.” If anything, the words poets write on the page should act as conduits to our own (and the poets’) experiences, drowning us in familiar emotions and–if we are lucky–new ones. Poets can do that.
Fishbowl: What is next for David Estringel?
DE: I hope to start teaching Creative Writing in the near future and, of course, keep publishing my stuff. I do want to focus more on writing short stories, as they are a passion of mine, and continue to work on my craft (poetry). Of course, I hope to continue with my literary gigs and, ultimately, have my own publication one day. I will leave the rest up to Fate…and my muse.
Fishbowl: Great, David! Any parting thoughts? Advice for aspiring writers out there?
DE: Don’t worry so much about how well your work will be received by others. Stay authentic in your process and create something beautiful and amazing, even if it IS something only a proverbial mother would love. I believe we are more alike than different and that if you really love a piece that there will be someone, an audience out there, that will love it as well. If you get rejected, move on to another magazine or journal. If they are good, our “little darlings” always find their way home.
Fishbowl: Last question…What would you want the epitaph on your gravestone to say?
DE: “He saw too much, knew too much, and stuck around ’til the end anyway.”
Fishbowl: I hear that!