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And harrowing was the fear of coasters coming at

‍             or onto us from our rear

‍ Cow plowing us before we could climb down 

‍             and explore the stanchions for the nomadic inscriptions

About the Author

Fred Rosenblum is a ‘Left Coast’ poet, residing in San Diego with his wife of 46 years.  He is the author of two previous collections of poetry (Hollow Tin Jingles and Vietnumb) and has appeared in a variety of publications throughout the US and Canada since 2009 — most notably, Consequence Magazine, Cirque Journal, and the Aurorean. 


Review in The VVA Veteran Books in Review II

“Ginsberg, Hughes, and Wolff move over!  Fred Rosenblum’s latest poetry collection, Playing Chicken with an Iron Horse, follows a boy’s misadventures and tomfooleries while “corn stalking the minefields of juvenile tragedy.” Engaged in Chinese checkers, mumbly peg and discovering girls don’t have penises, the boy matures and much later joins the Marines “to keep our country safe from the commies” but still “laughing about the stupidest shit.” For those who’ve nearly reached the exit ramp of life, Rosenblum’s poetry brings “crafted echoes” from a place so close to our own, we feel the splinters he describes as the “tickling torture” in the back of a ‘53 GMC flatbed. “

—Kate Porter, author of Lessons in Disguise

“This book is a gritty time machine into 1950s and 60s El Cajon, San Diego, Los Angeles, where urchins pelt a “little red Austin Healey” with loquats, panic at a floating turd in De Anza Cove, suffer a father’s practical joke in “The Hotel Cecil,”  toss revenge eggs at houses and school, and relish in mostly hidden sexual energy. Dirt clod fights in “eucalypti / & groves of pepper and oak / [. . .] bulldozed-over / by the murderous machinery of time” come alive in these pages.  “Ice Cream Bandits” innocence is lost when El Cajon police leave “handcuffed, bone-bruised wrists” to be rubbed by a father’s salve. These honest, bold, revealing poems delight in scenes of teen mischief before initiation in “the farcical war in Southeast Asia.” 

‍  — Scott T. Starbuck, author of Carbonfish Blues, Hawk on Wire, and Industrial Oz 

Playing Chicken with an Iron Horse evokes the vivid image of a mischievous, blue-collar childhood from the ‘50s and ‘60s, recapturing the reckless abandon of adolescence while simultaneously alluding to the future loss of America’s mid-century ethos, over the horizon and across the ocean in Vietnam.  Rosenblum laments this passing free spirit of youth via the free-style, hybridized verse he employs — a requiem for innocence.  

— Katt Blackwell-Starnes, Educator, Lamar University 

My wife and I play a little game when an author is being interviewed on the radio about his or her working class background. Will the author say at some point … and then I went to Harvard?  If not Harvard another elite college. Very few fail to do so. It gives us a good laugh. Fred’s college was the U.S. Marine Corps followed by graduate study in Vietnam. His background is working class, and his poems reflect that vanishing world. They will make you laugh and cry. Fred is, as young people say, authentic.   

— Tom Sexton, former Poet Laureate of Alaska, whose latest collection is entitled Li Bai Rides a Celestial Dolphin Home