Monday, July 10, 2023

Review of my New Chapbook - Viruses, Guns and War

 It's been a while, poems published. More rejected. Ideas all floating through my fevered brain.

Here is a very lovely review written by Jim Lewis of Verse Virtual. I hope he also posts it there!  Thanks Jim!

Book reviewed: “Viruses Guns and War” by Dotty LeMieux (Main Street Rag Publishing Company, 2023)

Reviewed by Jim Lewis, editor of Verse-Virtual and author of 5 books of poetry.


It takes courage and confidence to write about current social issues because they are, by nature, controversial. Who better then, than a poet, to be the one to take on topics like "Viruses Guns and War"? In this engaging and compelling collection of poems, LeMieux guides us through the challenges and conflicts of our nascent century by giving us glimpses, flash reminders of what we are living through.

 The grimness of THE pandemic is captured is such simple lines as

the police are too busy

confirming deaths

on park benches

to answer calls

about unsanctioned basketball

games in the park.

She deftly pairs the COVID-19 pandemic with the pandemic of death and violence that rages on the streets of America in "Double Pandemic":

American knee of oppression

on my neck.

Virus of death

in my lungs

I can’t breathe.

 Poem after poem, LeMieux shows us who we are, what we have done and are doing to each other — bigotry, selfishness, and violence dominating our lives, and still she manages to weave in threads of hope. This collection of poems made me uncomfortable, as it should make anyone think about how we fit into the patterns of avoidable destruction that surround us. Good writing does that, and this is some of the best I have read.


Saturday, December 24, 2022

 Happy Holidays everyone. My posts have been sporadic, but pleased to announce my new chapbook for the New Year: Viruses Guns and War from Main Street Rag Press: It is in pre-sales and you know what that means, I need you to buy now, get later. $7.50 to pre-order, and the more who do that, the more and faster the book is actually printed.  At the site are three samples from the book for you to dip your toes into.

Here is the amazing cover by Donald Guravich, who has kindly offered art to grace the covers of four of my books to date: 

Monday, January 3, 2022

Wild Roof

 My poem is up at Wild Roof; issue 11 - Read it here: 

Angels protect us from angry gods

the ones you wrestle in the night.
like kidnappers
who snatch you from life
and keep you isolated
for days on end
then bring you an apple
and some soft talk knowing
you’ll do anything for them
even kill

but wait
say the angels
beware of false gods
and prophets
even beware
of false angels
dressed in heavenly white
wearing halos

real angels
dress in work boots
and have calloused hands
furrowed brows
the world weighs down on them
the same as on you so that you never know
who might be working beside you
as you fire up the chain saw
for felling a dead tree so massive
a multitude of angels
could dance on the stump

crowded and sweating like mortals
and drunk and mean
as ten thousand lumberjacks.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Ubu - Absurdist poems

 A new rag is on the scene, Ubu for absurdist poems. I had one poem in the inaugural edition:

 A Series of Logical Associations Leading to an Indisputable
Conclusion — A Sectional

        1. That was the year they told her the truth
                        about Santa Claus

3. At first it was very hard to . . .
There was some difficulty with the . . .

                        4. “Trick or treat
                                    Smell my feet
                                        Give me something good to eat.”

            2. An apple a bugle a box of crayons
    Conclusion: All good things - even this –
    shall pass

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Review of Henceforth I Ask Not Good Fortune up Now!

 A very lovely review has been posted at Compulsive Reader today of my chapbook Henceforth I Ask Not Good Fortune. 

Here it is. Enjoy. And read the others there. Very nice publication. Thanks for doing this.

A review of Henceforth I Ask Not Good Fortune by Dotty E. LeMieux

Reviewed by Kim Zach

Henceforth I Ask Not Good Fortune
by Dotty E. LeMieux
Fishing Line Press
$14.99, paper, ISBN: 978-1-64662-379-2, Dec 2020, 36 pages

Dotty LeMieux is no stranger to poetry. Her writing has appeared in a number of publications, including anthologies, blogs, and online at Main Street Rag, Antonym, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Writer’s Resist, Gyroscope, and many others. 

LeMieux has also published three previous chapbooks in addition to her latest offering, Henceforth I Ask Not Good Fortune. This slim volume of fifteen poems over 23 pages demonstrates a variety of subjects that at first may seem disconnected. In a quick read-through of the table of contents and a skim of the poems themselves, I pondered: “What is the common thread weaving these poems together?” 

The poet identifies herself as a political activist; indeed, she’s been a politician and is an attorney whose interests lie with environmental law and progressive politics. This focus obviously has spilled over into her poetry. The first few poems reflect a sympathetic view of those who suffer from the world’s injustices. The strong images ring true, and we realize that Lemieux has observed these scenes first-hand.

In “Woman Her World on Skids” a homeless woman wrestles with the burden of her meager possessions. Lemieux writes: “Urban traveler at a crossroads/waiting out the light/weighted by the world on skids behind her/Arms bent back holding the plastic/reins of flattened cardboard.” The folded box will become a shelter and into black plastic trash bags, the woman “has crammed husband/House, children now grown, job/in a bank or a store/or a factory in another state.” She moves with unexpected grace underneath the “cargo on her bent back not a bit/of slack in sinewy limbs, face taut as a fist, eyes/tight against unforgiving sun, not an ounce of wanting/to be here but with steadiness.”

LeMieux’s advocacy is evident in imagery that lends dignity to the downtrodden. In “Solstice” she describes a man at a food pantry as wearing a “long brown coat like a cape/ swirling around bony shoulders.” He crosses the street “cape billowing out behind his slender frame/he is transformed into a Romantic poet,” and then “strides in front of my car/stopped now to let him pass, to watch/his coat-tails fly in his wake/like autumn’s last leaves/swooshing around us.”

In “America Sends More Thoughts and Prayers,” the narrator directs our attention to “poverty and injustice/inequality and crazy on every/street corner” both present and past. The poem itself becomes a prayer, as she recites a litany of maltreated groups: felons, children of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, citizens of Flint Michigan, immigrants, and the Iroquois nation.

The most effective images, however, are when those groups become individuals. She speaks of “the lady in pink who sings alone in the park, surrounded by pigeons,” “the veteran in his chair beside the shuttered window,” and “Leticia who cleans my house.” The ending accuses and commands: “We know you’ll never be able/ to make amends—/But at least get down/on your knobby knees/hang your hoary head/and cry.”

The next poems are lighter and more playful, serving as much-needed comic relief. “For a Poet I Once Loved” is a tongue-in-cheek apology—”Sorry that I took your words/for mine; but I did leave/your silk purse with the rainy day/fund; and I refrained from drinking the new wine/you were saving for inspiration.” Another apology poem, “Just to Let You Know,” is a riff on William Carlos William’s poem about eating the plums in the icebox. Lemieux writes, “I polished off/the prunes in/the cupboard/which you were probably/planning to eat/for regularity/ Sorry, I needed them/more/.

Her wry sense of observant humor continues in “The Toothbrushes are Kissing.” With an extended metaphor, she compares the toothbrushes to two lovers. She writes, “On the ledge 

under the bathroom mirror, like they are passing each/other in the hall, like two lovers working different shifts, one coming/the other going.” She describes their “bristles stiffening, reaching/out and whisking by, barely touching—an air kiss like they might be/French then back again.”

The final third of the collection returns to more somber topics. “Ah Death” is a one-sided conversation with the grim reaper. The narrator reprimands him for being a “workaholic” with lines like “Death, cut it out/Can’t you give it a rest/,” “Death, I’m on to you,” and “Death, time to take a load off.” 

LeMieux’s knack for creating vivid images continues in “Salt Hospital 1.” The patient says, “Cocooned/ in a room of my own/but nothing like what Virginia Woolf imagined” and “like some old forgotten steer/dried to sun-bleached bones/straining to reach the last salt lick/on the plains.” 

The final poem “Skip to My Lou, My Darling,” is an exercise in word play, yet the light-hearted title belies the foreboding of the first line: “Skipping, you are bound to trip.” She deftly incorporates other phrases, varying the use and meaning of skip, like “The way your heart skips a beat” and “I skipped out on the check.” The last two stanzas shift from the general to the specific:

The girl with coltish legs crossing the parking lot
her arms like sticks, and tall as a young oak
How many meals did she skip to have that
disappearing look?

How long until she vanishes altogether, her mother hoping
her schoolmates just skip the funeral
no one could prevent, no amount of square dance tunes
karaoke or prom invitations could cajole her out of?

The view is sadly breathtaking and showcases LeMieux’s greatest strength—crafting images that compel us to see the world that she sees.The poet’s uncompromising attitude towards her subject matter is the unifying thread of her poetry. The reader eventually surrenders to the juxtaposition of seemingly mismatched topics and finally comes to appreciate the variety of ways in which LeMieux accomplishes this.

About the reviewer: Kim Zach is a writer whose work has appeared in U.S. 1 Worksheets, Genesis, Clementine Poetry Journal, Clementine Unbound, Adanna Literary Journal, and Bone Bouquet. Her poem ‘Weeding My Garden’ was nominated for a Pushcart prize. She is a lifelong resident of the Midwest where she taught high school English and creative writing for 40 years. She currently works as a book coach, giving other writers the support and guidance they need to complete their projects, whether fiction, non-fiction, or poetry.

Friday, October 8, 2021

I Remember: The Bin Laden Girls

 At MacQueen's Quinterly today:  A piece of real life.

I Remember: The Bin Laden Girls, September 2001


I remember our trip in a rental car: Ray, John Crawford, and me, just after September 11, to Lowell, Massachusetts, in search of Jack Kerouac’s grave, but finding instead a Middle Eastern Karaoke bar across the plaza from the Industrial Museum. There we joked about whether the woman might be Osama bin Laden’s wife in exile—the bin Laden family did own property in Boston after all—cooking barbeque with her small daughters, smiling for the tourists. Eventually we made it to the Jack Kerouac Memorial Park, thinking how much alike the words Kerouac and Karaoke are, yet so very different.

And years later, John is on the long-distance phone, asking: Remember the bin Laden girls? I wonder what they’re doing now? what language they speak? Farsi, Arabic, Pidgin English? Laughing at how insensitive we sound, but not caring, no one else is listening (except possibly the NSA)—and we have been politically correct for decades, back to when it wasn’t even a thing.


Wednesday, August 25, 2021

The Accident

 Thanks to Main Street Rag for publishing my poem, The Accident in its Summer 2021 edition.  

Here it is: