Welcome! You’ve reached the website of Les Gottesman,

Poems and Photographs, and of Omerta Publications. You can

browse and purchase chapbooks from Omerta at the Bookstore.


August 26, 2016—Haiku & Co., new from Bill Zavatsky


In Bill Zavatsky’s new book of very short poems, the attitude ranges from charming to sarcastic—but always playful. In Haiku & Co., Zavatsky’s eyes are wide in the narrow corridors of New York City, and in the narrow form of haiku (and some variations).

To purchase your copy of Haiku & Co., go to Bill’s page or to the Bookstore to browse all of Omerta’s authors. And while you’re browsing, check out Bill’s pyrotechnic translations of Arthur Rimbaud’s best-known poems in the chapbook, Rimbaud 10 Poems, published by Omerta in 2014.


August 11, 2016



A reading series to celebrate the 10th anniversary of OMERTA PUBLICATIONS


SEPTEMBER Readings at Bird & Beckett Books & Records, 653 Chenery Street, San Francisco

Monday, September 12, 7:00—from Washington, DC DAVID ANDERSON
from Boulder, CO BRUCE KAWIN from New York, NY BILL ZAVATSKY

Sunday, September 18, 2:00—an afternoon with DIANE DI PRIMA


OCTOBER Readings at The Green Arcade Bookstore, 1680 Market Street, San Francisco

 Thursday, October 6, 7:00—HERBERT GOLD interviewed by HILTON OBENZINGER: “HOW I WRITE”


Thursday, October 20, 7:00—SHARON DOUBIAGO & JACK HIRSCHMAN

Events are free (but please support the bookstores, buy books, and donate to the artists at each event, if you can)


 August 5, 2016—Coming soon from Omerta Publications


• Haiku & Co. by Bill Zavatsky


• Outtakes, unpublished poems by Diane di Prima


• OMERTAPALOOZA! Six readings in San Francisco, celebrating Omerta’s 10th anniversary, in September at Bird & Beckett Books & Records, and in October at Arcade Books. Readers: David Anderson, Herbert Gold, Les Gottesman, Jack Hirschman, Bruce Kawin, David Meltzer, Denise Newman, Hilton Obenzinger, Julie Rogers, Ellen Teicher, Bill Zavatsky. Musicians: Bill Crossman, Zan Stewart. Full details soon!


July 26, 2016—We get letters!


Enthusiastic comments keep arriving for Ellen Teicher’s chapbook, Some Times Some Poems—in the mail today these words from Gerald Nicosia, best known for Memory Babe, his monumental biography of Jack Kerouac:

ellen_cover_new_bigger_type“In Some Times Some Poems Ellen Teicher makes the most of being an ‘unreliable witness,’ in an imperfect world. These are ‘at ease’ poems, devoid of literary pretense, making peace with all the little indignities and struggles of daily life, from one’s favorite chocolate melting on a hot day to having to sneeze out ‘I love you’ when one has a bad cold. The amazing thing is that Teicher seems to be having fun all the time, and the FUN is in the language, which seems to have an inexhaustible capacity to play with itself. And yet when it’s called for, as in a poem like ‘Remember,’ which takes on mortality head-on, she can be dead-serious too.”


Get your copy of Some Times Some Poems at the Bookstore.







July 26, 2016—Meltzer-Rogers update


Check out the updated schedule of the events and activities of David Meltzer and Julie Rogers—see their pages at the Bookstore.




July 17, 2016—New chapbook from Les Gottesman



BLACK BOUGH is Les Gottesman’s first new

chapbook since 2014. Get your copy on the

Les Gottesman page at the Bookstore.




 July 15, 2016—More praise for Some Times Some Poems


Scroll down to the very very bottom of this page for another wonderful comment on Ellen Teicher’s Some Times Some Poems. Thank you, Eugene Berson!

If you’re unable to borrow Eugene’s, get your own copy of Some Times Some Poems at the Bookstore!


June 20, 2016—New poetry from Ambush Review


Email ambushreview@gmail.com to obtain your copy




June 19, 2016—Praise for Some Times Some Poems


About Some Times Some Poems, poet David Meltzer writes, “Ellen Teicher’s
chapbook was a delight. Quirky & insightful; marvelous tone.” 


Thank you, David!


Get your copy of Some Times Some Poems at the Bookstore.




June 17, 2016—Bill Berkson (August 30, 1939-June 16, 2016)



Bill Berkson, a prolific San Francisco poet who also forged a career as an art critic and beloved teacher, has died.

Mr. Berkson suffered a heart attack Thursday morning, said his stepdaughter, Nina Lewallen. He was 76.

Linked to the New York School of poets and artists, Mr. Berkson collaborated with Frank O’Hara, Ron Padgett, Anne Waldman, Bernadette Mayer and Philip Guston, among others. He wrote more than 20 collections of poetry, beginning with Saturday Night: Poems 1960-61, published in 1961. His most recent book, a travel journal titled Invisible Oligarchs: Russia Notebook, January-June 2006 & After” was published this year.

“Bill Berkson affords the pleasures of raucous refinement and epigrammatic élan in lyrics, translations, gleanings, and reflections,” wrote Charles Bernstein in his review of Mr. Berkson’s Expect Delays. “Like dissolving into a ’40s movie or then again a dream of a conversation about new art and old jazz standards, these poems are sad and wise.”

Professor emeritus at the San Francisco Art Institute, where he taught art history, critical writing and poetry from 1984 to 2008, Mr. Berkson regularly wrote reviews for prominent art journals, including Art News and Artforum. His critical work appeared in The Sweet Singer of Modernism and Other Art Writings 1985-2003 and Sudden Address: Selected Lectures 1981-2006.John McMurtrie, SFGate.com, Friday, June 17, 2016

Snippets, Bill’s twenty-second book of poetry, was published by Omerta in 2013.


June 1, 2016—New from Omerta: Some Times Some Poems


Some Times Some Poems is a brief selection from fifty years of Ellen Teicher’s astonishing poetry.

Get your copy of Some Times Some Poems at the Bookstore.



February 2, 2016—Collectible postcards


Postcard Set #1

Every copy of Sharon Doubiago’s new chapbook, I, Poet, comes with a collectible (or sendable) postcard, shown here, with a message from Sharon regarding survival of the Imnaha wolf pack in Oregon.

These postcards are also available for separate purchase.

5 Imnaha postcards $2.95

Postcard Set #2

Assorted postcards of Omerta chapbook covers—collectible, sendable, tradable, framable!













Reading at Bird & Beckett, San Francisco, February 3, 2013scan0014starting_over_CVR_scrn_shot


Assortment of 5 Omerta cover postcards $2.95 


January 15, 2016—New from Omerta Publications


I, Poet is Sharon Doubiago’s passionate, self-questioning sequence of poems about (and evolving into the saga of) friends, family, ancestors, lovers, and haters—now available from Omerta Publications.


Order your copy today at the Bookstore



December 31, 2015—From Les




December 24, 2015—From Les, for your consideration


It’s “Best Of” season! Of books by and about poets, published in 2015, these are my flavor faves:


  • How We Write, by Hilton Obenzinger (The “How I Write” Project at Stanford University)

  • Immortality, by Alan Feldman (University of Wisconsin Press)

  • Mayakovsky: A Biography, by Bengt Jangfeldt (University of Chicago Press)

  • On Time: Poems 2005-2014, by Joanne Kyger (City Lights Books)

  • The Visit: A Poem, by Sharon Doubiago (Wild Ocean Press)

  • Two-Way Mirror: A Poetry Notebook, by David Meltzer (City Lights Books)


October 12, 2015—New from Omerta Publications



PoemSite: Songs in the Landscape

Omerta’s second book by Laurance Wieder, selected by Andrea Korotky from nine years of his poems, with art by Korotky.







Visit the Bookstore for more information and to order your copy of PoemSite.



September 11, 2015—Keep your eyes on the site

     New books coming soon from Omerta Publications:

  • PoemSite: Songs in the Landscape, Omerta’s second book by Laurance Wieder, selected by Andrea Korotky from nine years of his poems, with art by Korotky
  • I, Poet, by Sharon Doubiago, multiple-award-winning author of Hard CountryLove on the StreetsMy Father’s Love, The Book of Seeing With One’s Own Eyes, and Psyche Drives The Coast
  • 13 Ways of Looking at Petals on a Wet, Black Bough, by Les Gottesman
Keep your eyes on this site, or (better) email omertapub@comcast.net to be on our email list—no junk, just announcements of each release.



August 26, 2015


We hope you can join us at our CD Release Party this Thursday night, August 27, 7-9 pm, at Bird & Beckett 653 Chenery Street, in SF. We’ll be jamming poems with Zan Stewart on saxophone, and our friends from Vancouver WA, Poet Laureate Christopher Luna and Toni Partington. It’ll be fun! Plus, see our pages at the Bookstore for David’s free, upcoming classes, and a couple of events lined up for the fall, including our reading with Jane Hirschfield at Petaluma Poetry Walk!

Love from us!


August 14, 2015—Now available from Amazon 


Les Gottesman’s The Cases, winner of the 2012 Clockwise Chapbook Competition, is now available from Amazon. Get your copy of The Cases at the Omerta Bookstore, or NOW from Amazon.com.

“In The Cases, Les Gottesman gives us an allusive and witty poetry of jarring juxtapositions—a minimalist and somewhat surreal landscape in which ‘a blond Cyclops scuttles/like a crustacean late for a manicure,’ in which ‘space darkly jangles,’ and where ‘the roses sweat mercury.’ It’s William Carlos Williams in a madhouse of the imagination.”—Gail Wronsky, judge of the Competition.


August 8, 2015—Now available from the publisher 


Les Gottesman’s The Cases, winner of the 2012 Clockwise Chapbook Competition, is now available from the publisher, Tebot Bach, in Huntington Beach, CA. Get your copy at the Omerta Bookstore, or NOW directly from the bookstore at Tebot Bach.

“Les Gottesman’s lines stack up brilliantly like frames in a comic strip or animated cartoon. The poetic intelligence that put them there is subtle, investigative, a bulwark against both self-seriousness and anyone’s (the reader’s) generalized assumptions. Gottesman the Gentle Ironist sees the world’s well-worn limitations as imprinted still on dance cards, no matter how rumpled, of possibility, the likelihood that the words, so precisely chosen, will see us through. Negative Capability rules, a talking doorway, fervent and freshly coated: “These are close, more or less, to my thoughts” says it all.”—Bill Berkson.




August 5, 2015


Bird & Beckett Books and Records presents: 

Two-Tone Poetry & Jazz

David Meltzer & Julie Rogers

with Zan Stewart on Saxophone


CDs & books will be available  

with special guests
Clark County, WA Poet Laureate Christopher Luna & poet Toni Partington
Thursday, August 277:00–9:00 p.m.
653 Chenery Street, San Francisco


May 28, 2015—New from Omerta


The Haight-Ashbury in the fabulous ’60s…yeah, yeah.

But the neighborhood itself is not a fable, and lives its peculiar identity in the 21st century. In Positively Haight Street Herbert Gold, 91-year-old novelist and beloved San Francisco scenester, finds the clear words, as photographer Dennis Letbetter finds the faces of Haight Street’s denizens today, to show how the “survivors and victors” of the past “have found ways to scavenge and even thrive in a new economy.”





Order your copy of Positively Haight Street at the Bookstore.


May 25, 2015—New from Tebot Bach 



Les Gottesman’s The Cases, winner of the 2012 Clockwise Chapbook Competition, is just off the presses from Tebot Bach, in Huntington Beach, CA. Get your copy today at our Bookstore, or direct from Tebot Bach.

“In The Cases, Les Gottesman gives us an allusive and witty poetry of jarring juxtapositions—a minimalist and somewhat surreal landscape in which ‘a blond Cyclops scuttles/like a crustacean late for a manicure,’ in which ‘space darkly jangles,’ and where ‘the roses sweat mercury.’ It’s William Carlos Williams in a madhouse of the imagination.”—Gail Wronsky, judge of the Competition.







April 5, 2015—Book launch


Two-Way Mirror—A Poetry NotebookDavid Meltzer’s newest publication, will  be released at City Lights Books, 261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco on Wednesday, April 8 at 7:00 p.m. Come early to get a seat—it’ll be wonderful!



April 1, 2015—New from Omerta


Starting Over


Poems by Bruce F. Kawin



Bruce Kawin’s Starting Over is a suite of romantic poems remarkable for their sharply-drawn moments, precise emotional observations, and unabashed sincerity. Order Starting Over today at the Bookstore.



March 30, 2015


Backstory by David Anderson


New from Omerta, our first fiction publication. See details and order your copy at the Bookstore.




March 29, 2015

Check out the goings and comings and readings and new projects of the fabulous David Meltzer and Julie Rogers, poetry’s First Couple. See their pages at the Bookstore.


March 24, 2015—Poems from recent travel:


Some Oregon Wines

            Portland, March 2015


           1-Sauvignon Blanc


 We hate the
            square-jawed pricks in this




Love falls
            and rain wrongs.
                        Extra November.


           3-Pinot Noir


Are you
            ready for winter sex,
                        mostly spanking?



March 5, 2015


If you’re going to San Francisco,  be sure to wear flowers…

and don’t miss this great event!


Wednesday, March 11, 2015, 7 PM
Bazaar Café
5927 California Street,
between 21st and 22nd Avenues
San Francisco
(415) 831-5620



January 20, 2015


Here. It. Is!…Jack Hirschman’s Quintet.




Jack Hirschman was San Francisco’s fourth Poet Laureate (2006-2007). Hirschman has published more than 100 books, including translations of Mayakovsky, Neruda, Djafer, Pasolini, Celan, Gogou, Glik, and Gjakova.


The five new Arcanes in Quintet are a stirring addition to Hirschman’s ongoing masterwork, The Arcanes.


Order your copy of Quintet today at the Bookstore.


January 4, 2015


Watch out! Coming soon from Omerta Publications


  • new Arcanes in Jack Hirschman’s ongoing Arcanes masterwork


  • a thriller from fiction writer David Anderson


  • poems of sweet precision from Bruce F. Kawin


November 26, 2014


Lists beget lists. Top ten poetry titles I’ve read in 2014: 

  • Dante Alighieri, Inferno (Mary Jo Bang, trans.)
  • Dante Alighieri, The Inferno (John Ciardi, trans.)
  • James Baldwin, Jimmy’s Blues and Other Poems
  • Bill Berkson, Expect Delays
  • C. P. Cavafy, The Collected Poems (Evangelos Sachperoglou, trans.)
  • The Complete Poems of Cavafy (Rae Dalven, trans.)
  • Diane di Prima, The Poetry Deal
  • Alan Feldman, Flowers in Wartime—January-May 2003
  • Collected Poems of Lenore Kandel
  • Taylor Mead, On Amphetamine and in Europe: Excerpts from the Anonymous Diary of a New York Youth, Vol. 3
  • Tracy K. Smith, Life on Mars
  • Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass: The First (1855) Edition

Still a month to go; the list may change at the actual close of the year.


November 24, 2014


A few months ago, Hilton Obenzinger posted on Facebook a list of ten books he has found  himself returning to, decade after decade. As a poet-novelist-scholar and enduring friend, Hilton often inspires me to think about this or that, in this case, my own list:


  • The Merchant of Venice—Shakespeare had things to say about capitalism, sexism, racism,  anti-Semitism—all in one play—in 1596
  • Leaves of Grass (1855 edition)
  • Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass—witness
  • Poems of Emily Dickinson
  • Moby Dick—like Hilton, I read it every few years, usually on a long trip
  • The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton—her most brilliantly entertaining and surprisingly class-conscious melodrama
  • Early short stories of Hemingway and Fitzgerald—the young are different from you and me
  • The New American Poetry 1945-1960—I don’t pick up my fragile copy very often these days: it’s printed in my mind
  • Ginsberg’s Howl and Kaddish
  • Busy Dying by Hilton Obenzinger—nostalgia and narcissism (mine)


November 20, 2014


David Meltzer East Bay Fundraiser


Saturday, November 22, 4:00 p.m.
Mythos Fine Art and Artifacts at Firehouse North
1790 Shattuck Avenue (at Delaware), Berkeley


  • Readings by Jack Hirschman, Owen Hill and others

  • Zan Stewart on sax


Refreshments will be served – donations at the door
For more info go to: http://www.mythosfirehouse.com/




November 10, 2014



Les Gottesman, Hilton Obenzinger, Julie Rogers, David Meltzer at ONWARD! A Celebration and Fundraiser for David Meltzer’s medical expenses last night at Bird & Beckett Books & Records, San Francisco. For more Meltzer activities and appearances, see David’s page at the Omerta Bookstore



November 3, 2014


Thanks to Andrew Joron for creating this poster.

Reading at Bird & Beckett, November 9, 2014



October 11, 2014

If you’re in the Bay Area don’t miss this show!


Sunday, November 9, 7:30–10:30 p.m.

ONWARD! A Celebration and Fundraiser

for David Meltzer’s Medical Expenses


with Clark Coolidge, Les Gottesman, Andrew Joron, Julie Rogers,
and Sunnylyn Thibodeaux
and two Bay Area bands, Cloud Shepherd and The Rabbles!
and a possible surprise guest!


Bird and Beckett Books and Records

653 Chenery Street, San Francisco
$20 at the door—no one will be turned away for lack of funds
A new broadside will be available – a David Meltzer poem and drawing
For more Meltzer activities and appearances, see David’s page at the Omerta Bookstore


September 22, 2014



Please help a great poet with pressing medical needs


David Meltzer, in his seventh decade, continues to be one of the major figures of the Beat generation and of American poetry. David is the author of more than 50 books—poetry, fiction, essays, interviews, and anthologies (see below).

For the past three years, doctors have been watching a lesion on David’s liver. Despite a healthy liver, for people with hemochromotosis, the blood disease that David’s dealt with for most of his life, a lesion can be problematic. Recently, the lesion changed. This past summer, he underwent several tests and finally a biopsy, which was positive for liver cancer.

David is scheduled for surgery on September 22 at Kaiser Hospital in Oakland. The plan was to remove a portion of the liver. A successful surgery would mean David’s hospital stay would be relatively brief, a couple of days. He’ll be cared for during the healing process by his physicians and his wife. Any unexpected complications down the road will be closely watched for. Due to his other physical issues also caused by hemochromotosis, such as the need for routine phlebotomies and lab work, his chronic osteo-arthritis, and Type 1 diabetes, he will continue to need and receive ongoing medical care, both conventional and natural/alternative.

Though Kaiser does cover some costs, David still has monthly bills and now larger co-pays. There will be ongoing tests, doctor appointments, and the repair of his stairway chairlift to pay for. He’d also like to continue with alternative medicines and there’s no insurance for that.

Though David Meltzer was a humanities and poetics professor at New College in San Francisco for thirty years, when the school folded several years ago, he received no pension and his main income is social security. This is one reason why fundraising is needed.

To donate, please go to David’s fundraising page at GiveForward.com

Thank you so much for being there for David—he is a treasure and has selflessly given to the literary and educational communities of the San Francisco Bay Area and across the United States for decades. The support of family, friends, and those who have met him through his work will help to ease the current difficulties and provide means to benefit him in the future. David just wants to continue writing and creating, and those who know him or his work will agree, he’s extraordinarily gifted and loved.

And be sure to check out David’s work, old and new. David’s Copy: The Selected Poems of David Meltzer (Penguin) appeared in 2005. Other books include No Eyes (Black Sparrow), poems on Lester Young; and a book of interviews, San Francisco Beat: Talking with the Poets (City Lights). Meltzer’s Beat Thing (La Alameda Press) is his epic poem on the Beat generation. David’s most recent books are When I Was a Poet (City Lights, 2011) and Stunt Man (Omerta Publications, 2013). City Lights will reissue Two-Way Mirror, A Poetry Journal later this year, a profound guide to reading and writing poetry, now with an addendum recently written, almost forty years after the original publication. David was also a guitarist with his band The Serpent Power during the 1960s, and is a Cabalist scholar, raconteur, and spellbinding reader of his work. Check out his website at www.meltzerville.com.


March 28, 2014


New from Omerta Publications

Beginning: The Immigration Poems, 1924-1926, of Nachman Obzinger

Translated from Yiddish by Benjamin Weiner
Edited by Hilton Obenzinger



Now available at the Bookstore



February 19, 2014


Just published by Omerta: Arthur Rimbaud in a new translation.



Rimbaud 10 Poems

Translated from the

French by Bill Zavatsky

See more info (and a poem from the book)

and buy your copy at the Bookstore


 February 1, 2014

diane-289x300Please donate to the campaign  that is raising money for Diane di Prima’s fight against Parkinson’s Disease. Go to POETESS WITH PARKINSON’S, a campaign on the Give Forward website. Let’s help Diane collect greatly needed funds!








  January 31, 2014






Buy Sluggo’s Backyard at regular price of $14.50 and get Complete Poems 2005-2013 and SAVE $5.50!

Buy Les Gottesman Twofer now!

For details on these two NEW books by Les Gottesman, go to the Bookstore.


 January 30, 2014: Poem by Les


Night Hawks

Once immortality equaled
being on the guest list
and immaculate phobias had
their own lascivious cubism.

Let’s, we said, syndicalize
our irritation, yours with
mine, in 1984.

And I slept.

And Sophocles in a dream
was ghostwriting
thermonuclear daybreak
on Columbus Avenue.



January 5, 2014


Check the authors’ pages at the Bookstore to see what Omerta

writers are doing in 2014.


 December 24, 2013


NEW Bookstore!

NEW Authors!

NEW Books!

Go to the Bookstore NOW!















May 10, 2013


3 new chapbooks now available from Omerta Publications!

Order now at the Bookstore.






Haiku d'Etat cover version 2




April 10, 2013


Bruce F. Kawin comments on

Misuses of Poetry and Other Poems 

at The Best American Poetry blogspot. 



March 11, 2013


Tebot Bach announces the

Clockwise Chapbook Competition 2012

winner: The Cases by Les Gottesman,

coming soon. http://tebotbach.org/



March 10, 2013


Shut up and buy a chapbook

from Omerta Publications!

Click on Bookstore at the top of this page.


Omerta has published Les Gottesman’s chapbooks since 2006, and in 2012 began adding new authors to the catalog. The chapbooks are designed, printed, and bound by Les; he has touched every copy! To buy books online using PayPal, click on Bookstore at the top of this page.


Look for new chapbooks and new authors in the coming months.




February 10, 2013


Finishing Line Press

announces a chapbook

Misuses of Poetry and Other Poems

by Les Gottesman.

23 pages $14. Available now at


or click on the Bookstore at the top of this page.


And now available at amazon.com.




Here’s a sample from Misuses:

The Tempest


To whosoever’s body
walks in circles,
the safety of us all is the stairchild of our loss.


Just say your human speech in a slanted pool
till the doctor’s fired, or morphine
attenuates the argument.


In Golfe-Juan
all observable teeth are extracted
and placed on a blue dish by Picasso.


There’s mama in a Russian play
in a harness of bricks
to speak as the scenery.


Land and sea and
a shrunken moon over the story,
including this instant.

  1. Les, Thanks for sending! Glad to see that you’re continuing to cast doubt on whether we live in the “real” world. In China, near Great Wall, I saw a sign in the men’s room above the urinals: Please Stand Close to the Center of Civilization. Alan

  2. Les

    Many thanks to Megan Lehmer and Lisa Roth for making this web site possible.

  3. Gostei muito desse site!

  4. Gene Berson

    Ellen Teicher poems are delightful. So Quick and seemingly effortless! Tip of the iceberg, I’m sure. Another great anonymous poet — in a world of billions of people! How can we be so lonely with wonderful poets like this! Well, given Fukushima, you’ve gotta miss Grizzlies in Golden Gate Park. And Julie Rogers too!

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