Monday, April 30, 2012

We’re Almost Sure

Although we’re almost sure
it isn’t reason for alarm,

we thought we ought to let you
know today you seem

immeasurably vaguer than
the vision tugging at your arm.


Sunday, April 29, 2012


“Some there be that shadows kiss;
Such have but a shadow’s bliss….”

Merchant of Venice II, ix


One friend’s often just a little wiser than the other – but withholds:
there are no words for what the wiser psyche knows.
The heart’s example grows, but limits also can become more fixed –
and barriers betwixt the two can stiffen, thicken.

Affections quicken to maneuver to redress the balance –
but the depth and darkness of what can’t be said exert a shadow.
For moments ground between the two lies fallow.
Something's centrally unknown. Someone's centrally alone.


Saturday, April 28, 2012


You never know who’s talking, stalking,
setting out to prove you did it –
monitoring every move –

the skies have eyes –
the city takes no pity
on your lame attempts to justify: it pries –

berates – will peel you down –
reveal the sorry thing you are –
exposed as the ungrateful insubstantial

criminally negligent example
of a constitutionally lacking thing –
a shattered bum to shun.

Grab what matters. Run.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Another Crop of Human Beings

Sometimes when you’ve harvested
another crop of human beings –
well, you just don’t want to let them go.

You know you ought to let them have
the chance to figure out how to advance
themselves through circumstance:

to grow into whatever’s apropos. But oh! –
how sweet they feel, fresh from the farm,
next to your face, inside an arm –

like some ingratiating brace of geese.
Shame to let them out into the streets.
Wish they weren’t praying for release.


jackson pollock justifies existence.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Relationship, as Pet

You keep it in your lap.
You tend to feed it crap.
It never takes a nap.

Your bond to it is strong.
You’ve been in it so long.
You wonder if it’s wrong.

You deceive it.
You retrieve it.
You believe it.


come to my party! if you can. act three art show may 11 2012 nyc

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

In Sum

Tediously tasteless.
Intellectually baseless.

Grievously pale.
Egregiously stale.

In sum? It’s dumb
to talk to bubble gum.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Three Creatures in the Toddler Stage

Three creatures
in the toddler stage
just bumbled out
onto the page

as if to rub
it in
that I do not have

I clear my throat:
Did I not
just have them?


Monday, April 23, 2012

Tenderer and More Bewildering

Issuing from some
strange tissue tenderer
and more bewildering
than memory, a confluence

of animated influences  
overtakes you –
breaks through, finds,
shoots into all the many

easy targets in your mind.
From deep beneath
the surface comes
another transitory purpose:

whose arbitrary genesis
it would be easy to malign –
were it not for its odd –
sweet – design.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Consuls of the Flesh

At random moments starkly independent
of whatever time is –
so ridiculously fleet they won’t permit
the least investigation –

Consuls of the Flesh convene
serenely to survey and oversee
the current scene
of our unlikely incarnation.

Appointed by the Empire of the Epicene Realities
of Malleable Human Tissue, Skin and Cartilage,
they nudge each other into whims
and dares: deciding on varieties

of various indifferent motives
how and when
to rev up or decrease
somatic cares.

With gentle tremors in their pendulous
protuberances, bulbous masses and erectile cysts –
and all the rest of what persists
upon their soft eternally mutating bodies –

they may select us to join glorious regattas
of supernal pulchritude –
they may eject our sorry asses
into the abyss of ugliness and sickness –

or dismiss us
as not interesting enough –
at least for now –
to bother with.

That can constitute reprieve.
Today they took a look at me –
ho-hummed about my lack of style –
then took their leave. I’ll be around a while.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

How It Happens

Sometimes something
small and fat and naked
tries to shimmy up your head

as if it led through to
the only secret nest it knew
where it could go to bed.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Welcome to a Glimpse

What would you do
if suddenly
your hands
turned greenish-blue

and all the rest of you
and everything
you knew
were ochre, orange,

gold and yellow?
How would
you describe
what you were seeing?

Would you bellow –
loud and long?
Would it seem
intolerably wrong?

to a glimpse
of the shenanigan
of being.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Some People

Some people are astonishing.
They howl like happiness.
They pick you up
as if you were a vast epiphany
and never let you down.

Strange to plan to spend
the rest of your existence
in their glistening persistence –
going round and round
and round!


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Faint Evidence of a Capacity to Love

Social instincts:
reassuring, thoughtful and affectionate –
distracted, slightly mournful –

bonding out of reflex:
painful lessons of half-sentient living
filtered through amassing glimmers

of a subsequent experience –
so glowing with unknowing that you’ve
yearned – and learned – to blink again –

maybe for a moment think again –
as if you were a child: mild and willing
and bewildered: wondering, beguiled.

It might be true whoever seems
to have decided now to lean on you
is welcome to.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Drop the Pitch

Stop persuading me.
It’s dissuading me.
Drop the pitch.
No one
is buying it.

Be curious
not spurious.
Shine, delight,
ignite, and glisten.


Monday, April 16, 2012


Life is carbon-based:
full of faces
who reflect it –
souls are shadowed
with innumerable

specks. Coal dust
makes us up.
The bluster
of abruptly azure day,
whose clarity we’d like

to think is destiny,
is merely punctuation
separating shrouds
of the condition
into which we came

and we will go:
charcoal – clay –
muddy when it isn’t
choking dry –
covering the sky –

the glow. But there
is glow, somehow,
beneath the black.
Maybe that’s why
we come back.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Because of You

There are those who’ll look you in the face –
and make you lose your place –
as if you’ve kept them from a state of grace –
as if you’ve done the one thing

that can’t be forgiven – perpetrated
the catastrophe that’s left their lives so riven,
their least hope is now unthinkable. Despair,
because of you, is certainty – unsinkable

despondency has now, because of you,
because of you, become the only cast of mind
they can imagine could be true –
and will be true – for them – because of you –

because of you. There’s nothing you can do.
Who they are depends arterially
and entirely on cleaving to this point of view.
Of course, perhaps you were the culprit, too.


ACT THREE ART SHOW - Guy Kettelhack's creatures to appear in THEATERLAND nyc - May 11, 2012 - September 2012

ACT THREE ART SHOW - Guy Kettelhack's creatures to appear in THEATERLAND nyc - May 11, 2012 - September 2012

Here's an artist statement & c.v. I've been asked to provide for an art show I'll be having at Gallery New World Stages, 343 west 49th street, nyc ny 10010, 10 a.m. - 6 pm, starting May 11 (opening) thru September 2012. I'll be taking up the 2nd floor gallery with 32 drawings & a bit of multi-media vids & stuff. Come on by.

for info (show will be advertised herein late April 2012):

("A Bee Than Whom" pic will appear on the postcard -- hence its having been affixed here)

ARTIST STATEMENT – “Act Three – Drawings & Poems”

As the child of two artists, I received two extraordinary gifts. One was a luck-of-the-draw DNA aptitude for drawing. But the greater gift was learning, in the demonstration of their lives, that art is essential. It is not a hobby, a minor pastime – something to do only when you’re not doing something more important. It can be the center of a life. Making it the center of my life took decades: the drawings you see here are the product of a very circuitous journey. As a kid, drawing was what got me the most attention. But writing, which by adulthood took the form of a good number of solo and collaborative nonfiction books – and music, specifically playing the violin – soon took over. For whatever reasons, art pretty much went underground from my 20s to – well, April Fools Day 2009, when, about a month short of my 58th birthday, I sat down to do the first drawing I’d done in years – aimed at accompanying one of the poems I had started writing about 12 years before. It wasn’t a big moment – just a matter-of-fact “I think I’ll do a drawing.” I’ve done one – with an accompanying poem – pretty much every day since. The drawing almost always comes first. Over the past few years, each of them has insisted on adding creatures to a menagerie of characters which is probably becoming loopier and loopier as I go on. A good friend of mine calls them supernatural. They come out of nowhere. The great adventure for me is to sit, as I do every day at about 4 p.m., in front of a blank sheet of paper without an idea in my head – let the pencil start moving. When I’m done I prop the drawing up next to my computer screen where – against all odds, as it seems to me – a poem begins to form itself – in the same strange half-conscious way. They don’t so much illustrate each other as agree to be seen with one another. But they do seem to want to share the spotlight. I don’t know what else to say about what I do – except that the experience of it, over time, has brought me to the closest understanding I’ve yet had that the essence of a good life consists in finding one’s work, and doing it. This is my work. I call this enterprise “Act Three” because I’m living my own third act, and every creature that keeps tumbling out of me wants to get on stage before the play ends. “Act Three” is dedicated to my muse, my confidante, my beloved soulmate Donna Boguslav, without whom my creative life would not, in the form it’s taken, be remotely possible.

Guy Kettelhack
April 12, 2012


Guy Kettelhack is the author or co-author of more than 25 nonfiction books. Among his solo efforts: “Easing the Ache,” “Dancing Around the Volcano,” “The Wit and Wisdom of Quentin Crisp,” the Hazelden recovery book series, “First Year Sobriety,” “Second Year Sobriety” and “Third Year Sobriety.” His poems have appeared online and in print in a variety of venues and quarterlies, including Van Gogh’s Ear, Melic Review, New Pleiades, Malleable Jangle, WORM 33, Das Alchymist Poetry Review, the PK list, The Rose & Thorn, Heretics & Half-Lives, Desert Moon Review, Hiss Quarterly, Juked, Anon, Umbrella Journal, Loch Raven Review, Mississippi Crow and The Chimaera. Several of his poems have placed in IBPC competitions since 2004, his poem “Alter Ego” was selected as a quarterfinalist in the Lyric Recovery competition in March 2004, and he won the Margaret Reid Poetry Prize for Traditional Verse in November 2004. 20 of his poems appeared in the New Pleiades Anthology of 2005.

Artwise, a collage and art book of his appeared in a book art exhibition at Leslie/Lohman Gallery curated by Norman Shapiro in 2002. His drawings and poems have appeared in Mississippi Crow, Autumnsky Poetry, Loch Raven Review and Rattle. Some of his drawings will appear in an upcoming inspirational book by Barry Lipscomb. He’s currently working on the first of a series of his own poem and art books.

Guy is a violinist who plays mainly with the Broadway Bach Ensemble in New York City. He’s a graduate of Middlebury College and has done graduate work at the Bread Loaf School of English and the Center for Modern Psychoanalytic Studies. He studied (briefly) at the Juilliard School of Music in his teens and (briefly) at Lincoln College, Oxford University in his 20s. He is besotted with New York City and cannot imagine living elsewhere. He is also besotted with Prismacolor markers.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The New, and You

Discovered a new creature! –
unexpected calm –
fathomable plenitude –
existential balm.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Idea Tartare

“I'm so far inside the way my life turned out, I can't see the edge.” Alice in Bed, Susan Sontag

Ideas are bad.
They make you sad.

They’ll trap you 'till
they drive you mad.

They make you think
that in the end

they will be all
you ever had.

Unless you catch
one fresh –

make it flesh –
raw meat

to eat. Discrete.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Strange Surprise

Perpetrating thought inside,
upon, and through the Universe
is fraught with the inevitable curse

of having chosen to think one thing,
not another. Two cognitions
fight like brother against brother:

fratricide is guaranteed: fear
turns into greed: blood is always spilt.
The survivor quickly dies of guilt.

Then other thoughts emerge
and drive themselves back to the verge
of the impossibility of coexistence.

But sometimes in the brief persistence
of a stand-off , thoughts will catch
each other’s eyes and for a moment

undergo the strange surprise
of shared uncertainty. They’ll take
an unaccustomed breather.

But that won’t last long either.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mort and Andrew

Two conditions of Existence manifest
in Mort and Andrew: friends who seek
contrasting ends.

Mort disseminates a chronic spectacle
of skeptical distress.

Andrew spreads a fine complacency
beneath, above, beyond and over all
his fraught companion’s nervousness.

Each intends a clear corrective
to the other’s limited perspective.

It gives them something to address.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

These Three

These three fit together nicely
in the Spring:
malleable, close – meandering
to bring

their camaraderie outdoors.
Nothing like
the close encounter of a triad
in the spike

of sudden sun in April: flexible
as flowers –
regaling one another lightly
with their powers.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Three Points of View

Considering the situation
from three points of view:
appealing to hypothesize –
alarming to pursue.

Three angles of the prism
screw up vision more than two.
Soon you have forgotten
what on Earth you came to do.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Profile Pic

Baroque bone structure –
recalls Bernini’s Rome –
a glamour so regaling
it becomes the only home

for your eyes. Startling, fine:
the shock of its surprise
cajoles – persuades you
to uncover the disguise –

find out who’s behind
the portrait’s sizzle, fizz.
You try. You sigh.
Alas, nobody is.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

In a Rabbit’s Ear

Science tells us we’re debris
from an exploding star.
Christianity’s far
more bizarre.

Its pious narcissism paints
a human face on God.
I like my inexplicabilities
less shackled and less shod.

Whisper "Happy Easter!"
in a rabbit’s ear
and it will hop
away in fear.


Friday, April 6, 2012

Until We Don’t

Like demons
in the Spring,
we ingenuously

a thickened 
sense of what
below is
what above is.

We know,
until we
don’t, what
love is.


Thursday, April 5, 2012


a find
he found! –

a thoughtful

He thought
he’d show it

and talk
with it
in bed.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Waiting for the Bunny or the Seder

Hearing that our species hasn’t been here
longer than two hundred thousand years
does not encourage any sense of continuity.

Easter’s coming in a kind of kindred malleable
unreliable and lunar way. Sometimes,
by the measure of what childhood memories

tell you ought to be in bloom, it comes too soon
or comes too late: but sometimes Easter
comes on time, and once again, although

we’ve only been here for two hundred thousand
years, we feel we rhyme and conjugate –
and everything about Eternity appears

to reconnoiter with the Soul. Aaron Copland’s
Appalachian Spring plays on the radio:
Jewish gay New Yorker telling everybody

what it sounds like to be utterly American –  
waiting for the bloom – for the bunny
or the Seder – for the holy feast or for the least

of Easter’s promises of continuity. Yearning
for it nears – hearing that we’ve only been
here for two hundred thousand years.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

“How Are You?”

as different from –
and yet related to –

as any bird

to and from
a dinosaur:
she’s a thrush’s

minor thirds –
rushing into dissonances
vaguely recollected –

heard before:
a mournful harmony
becoming funny –

charming –
and alarming.
Hard to say

just how
she is:
strange task

to try.
People ask.
She’s not sure why.


Monday, April 2, 2012

Gong Show

Confess –
egest –
barge in
and spew?

Address –
suggest –
the larger

No one
like that
for long.

some ass.
the gong.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

No Explanation Here

My presences arrive unbidden in the afternoon:
random as the quantum bits I must assume
they are – but possibly evincing probabilities

of interaction, even threading through like family –
not unlike the heretofore unfathomed German
cousins I just learned I have in Hamburg

on the Internet. Internetting ranges like the spray
of the Unconscious: jacked-off cyber semen
yearning without aim, and breeding everything.

Sometimes unity will not dissuade itself
from coalescing. I do not know what in it blesses,
curses or coerces. I do not know what

Purpose is, and yet depictions of a thing
that isn’t not like God abound. By now you’ve left
the room: you will have found more measure,

sense, direction, pleasure elsewhere. No
explanation here. My presences arrive unbidden
in the afternoon. I doubt I’ll know more soon.