© 2021 . All rights reserved.

Greg Masters reads from It Wasn’t Supposed to Be Like This


A year ago, I heard Greg Masters read new work at the Parkside Lounge. The poems he read then are now published in It Wasn’t Supposed to Be Like This. The art work on the cover by Ava Fedorov makes one want to pick the book up and open it to find poems as short as haikus and as long as epics, one that spans the poet’s lifetime, and the other his four decades living in the East Village, history I can vouch for because I was there. As I’ve said before, I enjoy Greg’s work because it makes perfect sense in an imperfect crazy world. Below he reads some of the poems. Enjoy.



Here are a few poems from It Wasn’t Supposed to Be Like This, examples of its variety:

Alphaville Revisited

Wrong World

I’ve been working on a
unified theory
to make sense of my
uncertain perspective
in a universe 14.8 billion
years old, to concatenate
the vectors.
You know: Alonso hits
a ball to the right side,
the grinding of stone
down in the air shaft,
the moment of this pen
on paper making
thoughts tangible.


Fishing Line

Fishing line.
Amazing, right?


Tomorrow’s headlines today

Poet Topples Trump

Earth Renamed Rolling Stones


For those with intention but little talent

Who am I to judge?
Get up on that stage.

Leave me out of it.


I used to recant
now I decant


If I were
to think of you
it wouldn’t be
because I
wanted to



I had madras


Us at Our Best

I heard a
NASA scientist
that the Cassini
space mission
was us at our best.
I’d add the pyramids,
the music of Bach, Miles Davis
and John Coltrane,
the choreography of
George Balanchine,
the 12 two-reelers
Charlie Chaplin made
for the Mutual Film Corp.
in 1916-17,
and a video clip
shown on TV today of
a man shielding his
fallen partner with
his body amid a
crowd scrambling
as a domestic terrorist
opens fire.
What would you add?
[audience input]


Before There Was You

I stared at the ceiling
people crowded me
my blood pressure was high
my expectations low
now I shop for fish
and watch the skies
by your side


Dream with commercial

I had a dream
with a commercial.
Who do I have to pay
to get my premium
dream channel back?


Every glimpse
worth capture
in the Catskills


2 a.m.?
5 m.g.


Mild Verdict

Brünnhilde defied her old man, it’s true
Doing what she wasn’t supposed to do


Not Ready to Die

There are still some
Terje Rypdal albums
I haven’t heard


The swallows
build nests in the barn,
Keith the farmer is
saying at a dinner party.
Before flying south,
the new flock, could be
dozens, all line up
on the barn roof.

Harry James

An untamed girl
is standing on a desk.
I think we’re between
classes when this
episode of fury unfolds.
An adult appears and
attempts to restore order.
“What’s your name?”
he demands of my classmate,
Lincoln Junior High School #4.
“Harry James,” she responds,
exacerbating the challenge
to all decency and propriety.
I remember her long, dark hair
(Italian? Downtown?)
and wanting to know more
about her as I stood back
admiring her stance.
She and I both know who
Harry James is, I’m thinking,
some big-band leader
our parents used to listen to.
I’m envying her feral grace
that likely landed her in
detention, but for that
moment, at least, reminds
us more timid of the
natural state we all once
inhabited, from which
we all were forcibly weaned.
Just one more display
of resistance I somehow
recall 50-plus years later –
and salute.

from “My East Village”

7. Ted Talk

Despite his large-framed bulking mass
I never saw Ted Berrigan
consume anything other than
cans of Pepsi and diet pills
(the pills were a cheap form of speed)
and 90 percent of the time

I spent in his presence he was
horizontal, propped up in bed
like a downtown maharajah
welcoming visitors to the
digs he shared with Alice Notley,
a poet not much older than

us – to whom we were just getting
acquainted – along with their two
young boys, future poets Anselm
and Edmund (Eddie’s first volume
of poems, Dinosaur, debuted when
the Triassic expert was eight).

Their walk-up railroad apartment
at 101 St. Mark’s Place was
a comfortable salon, sort
of annex to The Poetry
Project, where locals dropped in and
those more distant made pilgrimage.

After growing up distrustful
of elders, wary of contact,
Ted was the first adult in whose
company I felt comfortable,
accepted immediately
into the household as a peer –

a silent acknowledgement that
worked wonders for my self-esteem.
Like dozens of other poets,
I could bring over my new poems
for Ted to examine onto
which he’d scribble encouragement.

Talking with Ted was easier
than anything I’d ever done.
Camaraderie fueled his being
and set loose his talk show of the
streets and parlor, a fusillade
of pertinent data, gossip,

persuasive opinion flowing
in a way that cursed out no one
(except the occasional “jack-
off”) and instead discerned what was
“terrific” in the process of
being alive at the present

moment or something peculiar
or laudable, intangible
or physical, that ensnared his
focus from another time, we
valued each word from the
mom-loving hippie Socrates.

With his Roy Orbison glasses,
full beard and straight, shoulder-length hair,
absorbed in a conversation
the ash from Ted’s Chesterfield would
be poised to sputter to his chest
igniting the physical realm

the way his poems affected the
synapses, setting circuitry
off in one’s brain to rattle the
senses and coordinate an
agreement between what you know
and what might be aspired to.


It Wasn’t Supposed to Be Like This is published by Crony Books. The author can be contacted at


and will mail signed copies within the U.S. (via PayPal).

The book is available via BookBabyAmazon and other online retailers.

Book Baby: https://store.bookbaby.com/bookshop/book/index.aspx?bookURL=It-Wasnt-Supposed-to-Be-Like-This

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Wasnt-Supposed-Be-Like-This/dp/0999894722/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1604031057&sr=1-1



The painting on the book’s cover is by the artist, Ava Fedorov. A work of hers that I like is from a series called Encaustics. Of this series she says, “My encaustic paintings are inspired by non-linear ideas of life and time — the play between the frailty and the infinity of nature.”

Encaustic I, Resilience


You can learn more about Ava Fedorov here:


and here:


and here:



Cloud Grid by Ava Fedorov


Here is the YouTube video of Greg’s online Zoom Party that launched It Wasn’t Supposed to be Like This on November 15, 2020.




Leave a Reply