You Just Never Know…

where your life will take you or who you will meet along the way.  More importantly, you never know who will touch your heart and lead you down a new road.  Before you decide to dive over the side of this blog and drown yourself in the wordpress or blogger sea because you fear I’ve lost my crass ability to humour you, hang on, I’m going to discuss something important.


On August 1, 2001, I lay bruised and broken in the driveway of a shack on an Indian Reservation in the United States.  My four year old daughter vanished down the road, brutally abducted by a man who had abused us for nearly five years.  The shack we had to live in was full of rats, mice and snakes.  The only source of heat a woodstove that remained a constant source of labour for me as I tried in vain to keep it fed with wood I had to cut nearly constantly.  Within this harsh and hopeless milieux, I used up nearly every scrap of self esteem and tolerance I possessed.  At the end, there was no hope, no light, no sense of myself anymore.  Death and I stared at each other daily and it altered me forever.  Never in a million years did I expect to be here, talking to you about such things that at the time I thought I would never survive and if truth be told, and you know I like my truth, I wanted to die out there, more than once, such was the despair that enveloped me.  Then, I looked at her, my daughter and I kept breathing.


Today I opened up my email again and this time it was from someone I love and respect.  You may know her name Jessie Carty and you may also know about her magazine Referential.  A while back I sent her a poem she liked, called Cockroaches and White Bread.  I was flattered that she liked it and touched too, because I think Jessie truly understood what I was trying to translate to the reader.  It was a harsh story about a joyless moment in time that happens to too many children and Jessie has nominated it for a Pushcart.  I’m beyond words.  Twice, something I had to say about those things most people won’t discuss one on one, let alone in mixed company, have garnered respect for what I believe is more about others than about me.  It’s about Jessie Carty and Bryan Borland, both visionaries and mavericks with regard to self expression and art.  It’s about the people who are abused, bullied, confused, gay, straight, men, women, teens, all colours and all cultures.  You see, I was there, in the driveway of a shack, alone, and terrified with nothing but the clothes on my back and a broken heart.  Now, I’m here, telling whoever needs to hear this:  Stay alive.  Fight the good fight.  If you believe in nothing, then let that nothing guide you to something.  I’m proof.  I’m here and so are you.



Now go forth and publish and nominate other shit disturbers because I need some company.    🙂

P.S. Jessie…Ma would have loved this, being the diva she was, it was attention for something, even it was unflattering, someone was noticing her.  😉


I Opened My Email Today And…

you will  never guess what was waiting for me, an email from Sibling Rivalry Press’s head honcho, Bryan Borland.   Bryan sent this email to inform myself and the others mentioned, that we had been nominated for a Pushcart prize by Sibling Rivalry Press.  Yep, I’m shocked.  Yep, I’m blown away.  Yep, I’m feeling incredibly honoured.  Now, for the complete list of nominees and the work for which they/we have been nominated:


“The Touch” by Ocean Vuong – originally appeared in Burnings.

“Surrogates” by Joseph Harker – originally appeared in Fag Hag: A Scandalous Chapbook of Fabulously-Codependent Poetry.
“Billie” by Val B. Russell – originally appeared in Fag Hag: A Scandalous Chapbook of Fabulously-Codependent Poetry.
“A Distant Memory: Andrew Bifrost and Mouth of the Dragon” by Perry Brass – originally appeared in Ganymede Unfinished.

* I would like to add one last thing.  The poem “Billie” for which I was nominated is dear to my heart because the young man who was the subject of the work was a very special friend to me when I was younger.  Thank you Bryan, on behalf of both Billie and me, for keeping his memory alive on paper and in the minds of those who read about him.

Two New Podcasts

These are poems that were initially a major creative component of my memoir, however I’ve since expanded other stories to make the end result more marketable to the mainstream, leaving me free to use the poems for a chapbook.  Bryan Borland has read these and his critique has been instrumental in helping choose which path to follow.  If you are interested in hearing them, from my lips to your ears, then go here:  Val’s Podcasts

Just Some Shameless Self Promotion…

as well as promotion for the publishers of the following, in which I have been honoured to appear.

First up: Publisher extraordinaire  Bryan Borland, has just released a chapbook entitled Fag Hag, a scandalous chapbook of fabulously co-dependent poetry. Please click the link and buy a copy, you will be supporting so many things, such as freedom of expression, poetry, poets etc.  I’m lucky to have my work included with so many talented writers.

Second up:  Referential Magazine has posted two of my photos and this online publication is a brilliant concept, having poetry and photographs refer off one another.   Poet and Editor Jessie Carty is the mastermind of this publication and you MUST click the link and visit. Also, please feel free to comment and submit and whatever turns your crank, floats your boat, flips your switch, rings your bell or lifts your lever!

IF You Wanna Have Some Poetic Fun Then You Just Have To

mosey on over to Bryan Borland’s blog and participate in a nifty little brain cell workout.   All you have to do is visit his blog, follow the instructions and post it.  There there now, wasn’t that easy and not a bit of pain, just do it!  Bryan will love you, I will love you and the poetry gods will love you and bestow wondrous gifts of  effortless verse.  🙂

Here are Mine!

Sugar heaven

My mother had a sugar fixation

A bitter hunger so deep for something so sweet

Her insatiable hunt for the perfect jelly bean

Copious amounts of sweet white grain sand

Shovelled on fruit and berries and bread with milk and honey too

Pancreatic temples built to worship her god Hershey

Insulin sacrifices on her brown vinyl lazyboy chair

Made holy with cigarette incense and a tea cup chalice

Her eventual heaven sent reward



Forklift Finale

My uncle had an accident when I was fourteen

No, not the bad acid trip that left him toothless and alone in New York City

Or the one where he drove into the tree when the police were chasing him down the highway

No, it was the final accident

When he was 29 and left a good looking corpse

He was standing at the dock, waiting

He thought for a truck to unload

Before he finished for the day

But what he was really waiting for was the forklift

That would drive savagely into his belly so he was finished for good


Blood of the Lord

my grandmother had consumption

Tuberculosis of the lung

An epidemic, all the rage in the jazz age

A veritable hemorrhagic life changer

Life liberator

Her life devotion to the lord

She sought him out among the sick

To seek redemption for the lame

Gonna make sainthood by thirty

But bled to death at twenty eight