Little Planet Raisins

Little Planet Raisins Paperback – July 14, 2020

by Jason Youngclaus (Author)

Jason Youngclaus has created a world within "Little Planet Raisins," written into existence with a unique and comforting voice comparable to Ginsberg and Kerouac, with a dash of the Romanticism that first inspired him to write. In this world, you follow a path --- a beaten road through maybe-messed-up lower-middle class America, lined with gods and goddesses like those in "The Cliffs of Thera." Where the real world meets constant mythological references, there is a steady level of realism throughout, and counteractive surreality playing in "Raisins," but most comfortingly is a sense of nostalgia which supports the mantra found in the folds of this book: "I am not a modern man." We wouldn't want you to be modern anyway, Jason; the old soul voice that carries through this collection is undeniably comforting, in a day and age where we need comfort more than ever... An exquisite collection in a number of ways, but perhaps most strongly is the vision that Jason has created: a little planet, abound with folds and wrinkles (not unlike a raisin's), full of life. Take your time reading, and dive into every detail.

--- Maxine L. Peseke, Swimming With Elephants Publications

I am dyed-in-the wool urban poet, so I can appreciate the poetry of Jason Youngclaus. He is no slouch with invoking nature and the landscape, and he finds them in the sprawling metropolis of New York City, to the smaller burgs like Somerville, and Worcester, MA. He takes us to the Woodlawn Cemetry in the Bronx, New York where he spies the 'cool' spot and grave of Miles Davis. He is a master of detail with a poem about an old diner he haunted when he was a an undergraduate at Holy Cross. He brings in the bacon, the eggs, the ancient juke box, and the young wanderlust that he shared with his band of friends. Youngclaus is a holy fool in the best sense of the word, as he searches for the essence that we try to capture, but often fail to."

-Doug Holder/ Lecturer Creative Writing--Endicott College/ Arts Editor of The Somerville Times

"In this impressive debut collection, Jason Youngclaus acrobats the reader through train car diners, pawn shops, bars, the cliffs of Thera, and the whole zoo of human existence, moving us through time and space, through rage and restraint, love and longing, from California to the Himalayas and even into the dust of stars as he mines new rhymes from ancient myths, dusting off the old gods and strapping them across the hoods of chrome wheeled American engines to weave us through the pileup of all those personal and historical narratives we only barely survive, but somehow do, with Blakean persistence, to come out wiser, if wearier, on the other side. To borrow from the poet's own words, these are poems "entrenched in celebratory rebellion/through gust and squall to sail/ from that bedamned lack of plenty." Little Planet Raisins is the work of a poet well on his way."

-Matt W. Miller, author of Club Icarus, winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry

Read For Free-  A Man Who

A Man Who...

Jason Youngclaus

“We are who we pretend to be,
so we must be careful about who we pretend to be.”
---Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night
I am not a modern man.
   I am not a modern man.
       I’m another American----
writing from the perspective of the
    wholesome-----shattered---- “I.”
I like things the way I imagined
    they were.
I have a glorified vision
    of the old west,
   and see myself as a dignified gambler,
   who dealt cheats
      from the bottom of the deck---
who carried a gun and was always justified
    when using it---
who wins drinking contests out of self-respect;
    and protests government wars of tax neglect,
    playing towards them,
    the music of ages from his jail cell---
    taming his guards,
    enabling him to
    spring his locks backwards,
    and turn their workings on his captors.
To know him was to know
he couldn’t survive without friends---to him,
they seemed a clearer voicing than himself
and for that reason he held with him the strident,
begrudging spirit of a
dreamer dreaming involuntarily.
He held it daringly,
as a bird breeder might hold a bee,
like something you can always feel
but never do see.
I melt out of my skin when I watch
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.
I fuse with the world outside my own every chance I get,
        it expands me.
     I’m naïve about everything---and easily entertained.
     And though I’ve never gone hungry,
     I’ve imagined myself a famine’d potato farmer in Ireland
     if only to pass the time…
           who listens to the wind with seashell ears
        and peers achingly down the cliff bluffs at dawn
        ;   like a son to his father’s last words.
        with 74 cousins, 5 of whom were captured
        at Shankhill by UDA popinjays.
        three came back, two survived
        one thrived, the other…
Succumbed to invariable bloodlust.
But all, having felt much in their youth,
challenged the lessons of their elders…
I’ve screamed at their invented faces,
in uncertain times, regretted it---
but always respected their beautiful struggle and love of family.
        Endlessly grateful for their flesh and vision,
        a conduit of their calling
        entangled with a zest for self-determination
        transcending generations,
         but not enabling,
        the rogues among them
        helping them along the rugged ocean of life,
        ;   like an augmented chord
               under a mournful melody.
If I had a song to listen to, three minutes before I die
whether now or in another life…
(at this particular moment I feel like)
it would be “If I Should Fall from Grace with God,”
by Shane McGowan and the Pogues.

It’s not improbable that I’d have been the one who killed Custer
        or Custer himself.
I could have been an animate object,
        like a rusted automobile, or a mustard seed.
I’m pretty sure that I’d have gotten on well
in the colonies circa 1776.
I would have rung the timeless bell of protest in public;
Whether latent or in motion, and
lamented--- alone, flustered and in need.
And if I was alive in 1967 in Haight-Asbury
I would have passed the acid test with flying colors.
(And never known the dull clichés)
        but then again George Harrison was disappointed
        when he went by the bay,
        but then again he was on acid
        and didn’t respect his elders.

I would have been a real angry guy, though,
if I was mixed up in the Hatfield-McCoy feud.
Would have carried a gun with me wherever I went.
Would have been the one to give the thing
        a two-syllable female name
        that rhymed with the nearest mountain
        around which his family planned its futile defense.
Never the one to know where he’d find his
next drinkable cup of water----ironically
     his palms never stopped sweating forth
        the clear liquid
        through which his eyes were getting
            so used to seeing---not the future but the
            alluring, ever-present now setting.
(Would I have seen then what I am seeing now?)
      If only…if only I could act without regretting.
I can see the beauty in what I experience---
      but not enough of it…
I move through many a dim reptilian fear:
      of being wrapped in a spider’s netting,
      of watching time slip away, like Otis Redding
      of being the one getting
         the free world’s next Sacco and Vanzetting.
      of being hurled off the top of the first tower I build,
      of feeling like a Ralph Steadman character’s shill---
      and so I live variably through the flourishing virus
         of these romantiquated imaginings;
         which I hold in neither high, nor low regard,
         but will not be soon forgetting.
This is why I am not a modern man.
I know this because, if I really wanted to,
I could do what a modern man can.
So go ahead, paint the living world as red as you’ve planned.
My visions will never change their shape in the sand.
Will the cure come too late?
I am the antidote to modernity---I do not have a fate.
A disease preys on its host,
I’m the disease that makes the disease a host.
I prey on the disease and in bewilderment stare,
at a flag half-mast on a post;
         This is not to say
         ;    I’m the cure---
         I don’t even have a fate…
         ;    at least not at the moment.
         But evidently
         ;    That’s only what I tell myself
                in the uncertainty of
                ;     the present.
I am not timeless either,
so instead I half-heartedly relate, and live drifting in the ether
outside, in, and around societies’ gates
I am like any of the other men
who do not live in these modern times---
Ill, my will affected by the modern state
I live perilously close, above and under,
I’m an average guy-----I’m up to speed but I’m no modern man.

At least not quite, At least not today.
I was born in 1983,
I can’t be anything but what I am.
I can’t be anything but what I am,
but I am not a modern man.
         I am not a modern man,
         I am not a modern man.
         This has become my bold dystopian mantra…

Need any more proof?
I couldn’t have typed this poem up,
I had to write it out by hand.

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Read For Free-  Familial Geographic

Familial Geographic s

Jason Youngclaus

It's watching a family of elephants playing
by a local species of cherry tree
whose airborn shadows shift, displaced

from the peaceful, muddy water
only to reunite downstream
out of their distracted view ---

that finally slips through, catches
that little crease in the heart, no matter
how we build our rafts, away we’ll go…

Source bound --- but only at the pace governed
by the earth’s diurnal influence
a loosened rush through depths and shallows

and all flows from here, fertile mysteries
all the way and back there, all the way
to wherever we’ll be at this time tomorrow.

For now the sunlight buzzes halos
round their eager little earflaps, here too
she speckles an interlude of bangled shards

across this over dimmed room,
through this old frizzled television set,
and to each of us uniquely in these trying moments.

This time yesterday you said you wanted chocolate
ice cream, you said “chocolate,” one word all day and now
because we love you we’re going to bring you just that:

a delicious frappe: like how we used to get them
on those summer nights: with a vanilla swirl
like the mighty beast’s tusk, but you don’t see it

coming do you, you’re gazing out the window
searching for God’s kinetic shadow…
All we can do is gather round, hoping to see you smile.

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Read For Free-  Trauma Wagon

Trauma Wagon

Jason Youngclaus

The city council is voting on funding
to renovate the park off Visitation Pl soon
A father will teach his son the crossover step back
whether or not that cash comes in…
A mother will walk with her daughter
up the off-green tow path to the old canal
and call attention to the beauty of a tree
that’s been there since before Joey Gallo was born,
regardless as well.
The equipment at the newly built batting cages
will need to be intermittently fixed by a mechanic
many, many times to ensure
that the sluggers of tomorrow get their swings in.
(The mayor won’t have a say in that.)
People will move in and out of rent stabilized apartments
no matter what isdecided at that table.
An ever-increasing number won’t need to bother
with how “rent stabilized” is defined;
others bloodlines will hinge
on a few words in a statute.
The local community board will propose
improvements, amendments,
respond to noise complaints
and attempt to litigate
just about anything else you can imagine
for a long, long time to come.

But here today a rusty scratched cornea on 4 wheels ---
the deformed, inbred cousin of the prison wagon
pulls up curbside in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
Out steps a skinny-fat white guy
in a stained Hawaiian T-shirt.
He stumbles off the top step,
lights a cigarette and nods to his partner;
who is about to cast yet another net into a broken home
(The familiar Kafkaesque deed that pays the bills,
he justifies inwardly.)
“Let’s do lunch at the Lobster Pound,”
he suggests to the other.
“I should have been a fisherman,”
the other replies.

The innocent are strapped in with an iron padlock
which forms an incredulous X across their chests
crossing them out of normality
crossing them out of whatever stability they had left
crossing them off the daily list of deliverables for
these two roadside bureaucrats.
The trauma wagon goes one of two places:
Group home or Foster home…
They say most benefactors enter the arena
for the tax write off,
in pursuit of their prize catch.
Now sure there are some decent folk out there
but would you want your fortune riding
on such a subhuman, crass roll of the dice?
This was all necessary because a yuppie invader
with countless time and curt opinions
organizing with her friends
on numerous occasions picked up a smartphone
claiming she was doing the right thing,
because their parents liked to do cocaine and frankly
had tired of doing it in the bathroom out of sight.
But really because they were noisy,
seemed unwholesome to her
and brought around unseemly characters.
This yuppie who could not tell you the first thing
about rent-stabilization laws.

There are no winners here ---
except the yuppies, of course…
And now they’re off to brunch to bemoan trivialities
in the company of nobodies.
“I’m proud of myself,” she boasts,
sipping from her third mimosa,
at eleven o’clock on a Sunday morning…
imagining those kids
frolicking around a lily field at a picnic,
taking pictures with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.

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