Michael Salinger

Michael Salinger is a poet/performer and educator living in Northeast Ohio. He is an early participant in the National Poetry Slam, former board member of Poetry Slam inc., and current director of the organization's summer writing and performance conference. He is a frequent speaker at teacher conferences and in schools in the US and abroad where he uses performance poetry as a means to better literacy and comprehension skills.

Father, poet, performer, author, director and playwright. He has been involved in promoting creative writing through performance and education in places as interesting as Fairport Harbor, Ohio - Anchorage, Alaska-Saigon, Vietnam and Manama, Bahrain. He is the originator of the Nova Lizard Project, a performance art troupe and has served on the board of Cleveland Public Theater, the Poets and Writer’s League of Greater Cleveland, and Poetry Slam Inc.

He has presented writing and performance instruction in schools, universities and museums as well as hosting visiting authors. He has been active in the National Poetry Slam, both as participant and organizer since 1991.

Poetry collections

  • Big Machines and Wheeled Things - 1986 Burning Press
  • RiZZ – 1989 Burning Press
  • The One That Got Away – 1994 Wee Albert Press
  • Sunday Morning – 1999 – Burning Press
  • Neon – 2002 – Bottom Dog Press ( BGSU Firelands)
  • They Call it Fishing Not Catching – 2004 – Wordsmith Press

Official site:


Wikipedia entry:



by Michael Salinger

hate is extremely flammable
its vapors may cause flash fire
hate is harmful if inhaled
keep hate away from heat, sparks and flame
do not breath the vapors of hate
wash thoroughly after using hate
if you accidentally sallow hate
get medical attention

prejudice is an eye and skin irritant
its vapors too are harmful
do not get prejudice in eyes
or on clothing
prejudice is not recommended for use
by persons with heart conditions
if prejudice is swallowed induce vomiting
if prejudice comes in contact with skin
remove clothing and wash skin
if breathing is affected, get fresh air immediately

violence is harmful if absorbed through the skin
keep violence out of the reach of children
do not remain in enclosed areas
where violence is present
remove pets and birds from the vicinity of violence
cover aquariums to protect from violence
drift and run off from sites of violence
may be hazardous
this product is highly toxic
exposure to violence may cause
injury or death.


Vespula vulgaris (Common Wasp)
by Michael Salinger

The boy paid no particular attention
to the pear tree that he hid behind
sprawling branches
twisted above his head
or the legion of
yellow jacket wasps
buzzing in drunken circles
around fallen
fermenting summertime fruit
turning brown on the ground
nor did he bother to contemplate
the rough reptilian bark slipping beneath
tufts of grass becoming root
nerve tendril clutching the earth like
wooden shocks of lightening
frozen in time
the fact that he had
his father’s chin, his grandfather’s wit
his mother’s almond eyes
his brother’s Swiss army knife
illicitly in his pocket
and the family posture
shoulders sloped as if by weight
never crossed his mind
the boy did not notice the curl of dust
kicked from behind automobile
headed to horizon
the driver in yellow sundress
determined to escape
and never come back this time
or the whistle of the gopher
startled by the car’s passing
a full moon
cut from translucent tissue
still visible in the daytime sky
went equally ignored
the flash of slick tanned skin
of black haired
neighbor girl
had become the entire universe

to him


Fidel Castro at Birdland
by Michael Salinger

Fidel Castro
playing jazz guitar at Birdland
in New York City
on April 26, 2006
his acoustic guitar made by a Japanese man
living in Brazil
where the mahogany for the neck
of the instrument grew
fingerboard crafted from
imported Indian ebony
the front
Oregon cedar
back and sides
the wood of
trumpet shaped blue flowered
jacaranda tree
the machinehead
ivory tipped peg and gear assembly
holding eight strings
in tune
precision fabricated in Japan
by computer numerical controlled lathe
and Fidel Castro is singing in Portuguese
laughing at his own lyrics
his left hand crab crawling
up and down the frets
his right bouncing about the strings
as if he were counting the notes
on an adding machine
back up guitar and bass players
nod and crack jokes
behind his back
and Fidel Castro sings about love
and he sings about losing love
and he sings about finding another love
and he sings about the love he thought he’d lost
but was merely hibernating
in places he had failed to look
til this very instant
Fidel Castro spits a bit
when he sings
droplets backlit by blue stage light
reminiscent of time lapsed film
of dogwood flower
shooting pollen into the air
all the while
drummer accentuating downbeats
on cowbell muted with duct tape
and we sit at our manhole
sized table
exorbitantly priced drinks
soaking semi circles into white linen
and we listen
to this
Fidel Castro
this Fidel Castro
who in 1945
while a law student at the university
of Havana
the black spike-heeled blonde
wearing that blue sequined dress
into the Tropicana Club
where he listened to Dizzy Gillespie
completely forgetting about his date
with the redhead
at the communist party meeting
this Fidel Castro
for whom music
is the revolution.