Detached Retinas: Unintentional Outsider Poetry By Thomas L. Vaultonburg

After putting Jack to bed and reading about parts of the eye, then having a cluster migraine and not being able to see for over an hour, it’s appropriate I should start work at 1 a.m. tonight and do a profile of my own book, Detached Retinas. This is my favorite book, because it was written before I started working in the service industry and while I was in a relationship and going to college. The poems are all rather optimistic and lack the fatalism I have been unable to shake after encountering humanity outside of the ivory tower of the academic world.

The last grouping of poems I wrote for this book were written on the porch at Quincy Street when I was living there with a rotating band of characters and working doing delivery for Sears. I still pick this book up and feel good about having written it. That doesn’t mean I consider it Earth-shaking, just that I’m proud to own the poems in it.

I did the cover art myself when the only artist in the world I knew pulled out at the last minute, and I did the typesetting in three days and sent it off on actual paper to an actual offset printer and was surprised when they returned it to me weeks later looking exactly the way I had hoped it would look. Publishing was very different before the digital age. I was promptly fired from my job at Sears when I brought a copy of the book to work and a co-worker saw another co-worker reading it. In retrospect I understand that was my fault. I’m not sure which poem might have gotten me fired, but maybe it was one of these…

New Years Eve 1995

It gets small again
So we order a pizza.
In March we were in love
With the classifieds
And in October picked apples.
But last week I found her in bed
Eating pizza with the delivery boy.
Tonight Dick Clark orders a huge
Ball to drop on New York City.
Shit, that was a year of my life.


Singing Lessons

The King’s critic was sent out to execute
all singing birds and by a creek spotted
a deformed bird-like creature and immediately
seized it by the throat at which time
the pathetic creature croaked, “There’s no
point crushing my larynx, I’m of the species
vocus restrictus, a rare breed of songless
bird indigenous only to this creek.” The
executioner, convinced by the ugly but
persuasive creature’s explanation, removed
his hands from its throat at which time
it began singing the most beautiful song
anyone had ever heard which led directly
to the villagers overthrowing the evil king
and delicious, syrupy beverages flowing
from the public fountains. When asked in
a later interview how such an ugly beast
could sing such a glorious song, the bird
replied, “Singing lessons.”
– See more at:


The night is so clear
Dolphins swim through it.
All the noises in the world
Become my noises and
Even the stars tiptoe
Across the sky
To shine brighter in Texas.
Some of us deserve more pain
Some more happiness
I just deserve more
And I get it in small but
Potent doses throughout the night.

– See more at:




Making a Mess

The Surgeon General now approves

Of our condition. We hear the news in a secret

Telecast to the formerly afflicted

And decide to celebrate

Our new-found normalcy

By making another mess,

One even America can’t clean up.

Night one finds us aiming the machine

Imprecisely at ecstasy-

We reel in the city

And end up in debtors’ prison

Squeezing our blood into the toilet

We poison the entire populace

Repaying America for its hospitality.

Cover Detached Retinas

I was really proud of myself because I asked them reverse the negative on the cover, and I save several thousand dollars by not having color, and I thought it just looked awesome. I ordered 1,000 copies, and I can tell you several boxes of this book have moved from basement to basement to basement getting moldy for almost twenty years now. Perhaps I should have a mass mailing to reviewers or a bonfire or shoot them out of a cannon at Russia.

Well, that’s the last book of mine I’ll be writing about on this blog, but I may profile some of the other books I’ve published at Zombie Logic Press.


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