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poems

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This Road Has Clearly Been on a Bender

by Marcella Benton

 

a flock of spandex cyclists take the unexpecting road like fighter jets

a blunt contrast to the rickety wheeled meth head
twitching towards them

cars oink by
quaking over that too thin white line
quivering to devour them all

because this road
has clearly
been on a bender

cars can barely hang on
as it jokes and chokes the hillside

with corn stalking the banks
wishing it was a river or the seaside in summer

just at the right time of day
when the sun and the moon shine down together like a cross-eyed girl

 

 

Hibernation

 

hibernation today
stuck in the warm fluffed bed
wreathed by domesticats and dogs snoring

made a sandwich of myself
I will live off the stored fat
until there is nothing but crumbs

the purrrrr of the skin and bone feline
king of the mountain

syncopates with the rumble of cars
patting down the street
rat a tat tapping my windows

unopened books and a revolver on the nightstand

not enough blanket to cover my cold feet

 

 

A Ghost in the Kitchen

 

I thought I heard you in the kitchen
running water dirty feet

saw the tip of a head above the door behind me
reflection of someone riding a bike in the hall mirror

must be the ghost you insisted we had

dog toys rolling uphill
the cat staring down the corner
but where are you now

maybe you just could see the future

so who is haunting who…

running each other over every day
sandwiched like a mack truck

maybe we made it
but no

no death comes early for the poor man
with a wink and a nudge

and vultures don’t give a shit

 

 

Whiffs of Nostalgia

 

we pass yawns back and forth
almost as intimate as french kisses on the porch swing

catching whiffs of nostalgia

of him
needling into that summer dress

and I was such a good girl
sit lay roll over

play dead
it’ll be over soon

 

 

Spring

 

so lily livered
swallowing poppies like candy

staining the grass with her perennial gardens

glads winking at her nose
changing her diaphanous mind
quicker than a soiled diaper

a little too late for the wrist cut roses
trickling warm and salty over her cuticles

telling her to replant before someone else does

 

 

BIO

Marcella Benton lives in Lakeland, FloridaMarcella Benton, with her husband and pets. She and her husband own and operate a screen printing and embroidery company, Whatever Tees.

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empty streets

Domenic James Scopa

Empty Streets…

by Bakhyt Kenzheev

 

Empty streets, deep gaps beneath the doors.
The autumn world is cool and fleshless.

The forty-year old poplar above my head
still rustles with its tinfoil foliage.

Its owner, by next summer, is bound
to saw it down—so it doesn’t block the sun,

so it doesn’t rustle, doesn’t sing above me,
doesn’t wreck the pavement with its roots,

and you can’t breathe deep enough—but want to—
of even the September bitterness, the final feeble sun…

 

 

Willow

by Anna Akhmatova

 

I was raised in checkered silence,
in the chilly nursery of the young century.
The voice of man was harsh−
it was the wind whose words were dearest to me.
I cherished burdocks and nettles−
most of all the silver willow.
And, gratefully, it lived
with me all my life, its weeping branches
fanning my insomnia with dreams.
−Strangely−I outlived it.
Out there a stump stands, and other willows
speak with foreign voices
beneath our skies.
And I am silent…as though a brother has died.

 

 

Someone Is Beating a Woman

by Andrei Voznesensky

 

Someone is beating a woman
in a car so hot and dark
only the whites of her eyes shine.
Her feet batter the roof
like berserk searchlight beams.

Someone is beating a woman.
The way that slaves are beaten.
Beautifully whimpering,
she yanks open the door and drops
                                    onto the road.

Brakes squeal.
Someone races towards her,
flogs her, drags her
face down in the stinging nettles…

Scumbag, how deliberately he beats her,
Stilyaga, bastard, tough guy,
his dashing shoes, as slender as a flatiron,
stabbing into her ribs.

Such are the pleasures of rebel soldiers,
the delights of peasants…
Somewhere, stamping under moonlit grasses,
someone is beating a woman.

Someone is beating a woman.
Century on century, no end in sight.
It’s the young that suffer this. Somberly
our wedding bells stir up alarm.
Someone is beating a woman.

And what is with the blazing welts?
Last-minute slaps?
That’s life, you say—how so?—
someone is beatin a woman.

But her light is steadfast,
death-defying and divine.
Religions—no,
                        revelations—no.
There are
                        women.

She lays there placid like a lake,
her eyes tear-swollen,
yet still, she doesn’t belong to him
any more than the stars to the sky.

And the stars? They’re pounding
like raindrops on black glass.
Slipping down
they cool
her grief-fevered forehead.

 

 

The Cemetery

by Miguel Hernandez

 

The cemetery lies close
where you and I are sleeping
among blue prickly pears,
blue ancient-plants and children
screaming full of life
if a dead body darkens the road.

From here to the cemetery everything
is blue   golden   crystal clear.
Four steps   and the dead.
Four steps   and the living.

Crystal clear   blue   and golden,
my son, out there, seems far away.

 

 

BIO

Domenic James Scopa is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee and 2014 recipient of the Robert K. Johnson Poetry Prize and Garvin Tate Merit Scholarship. His work was selected in a contest hosted by Missouri State University Press to be included in their anthology Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors, volume 3. He is a student of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA Program, where he studies poetry and translation. He is also a staff writer for the literary journal Verse-Virtual, a book reviewer for Misfit Magazine, and a professor of literature at Changing Lives Through Literature. His poetry and translations have been featured in Reunion: the Dallas Review, here/there: poetry, Touchstone Magazine, The Bayou Review, Three and a Half Point 9, The Mas Tequila Review, Coe Review, Cardinal Sins, Boston Thought, Howl, Misfit Magazine, Poetry Pacific, Untitled with Passengers, Gravel, Crack the Spine, Stone Highway Review, Apeiron Review, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Literature Today, Tell Us a Story, Verse-Virtual, Malpais Review, Les Amuses-Bouches, Shout Out UK, Fuck Art, Let’s Dance, Sediments, Birds We Piled Loosely, and Empty Sink Publishing.

 

 

 

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Images for Inga

by Kjell Nykvist

after Richard Aldington

 

I.

Ice encased the rosebushes—
The frozen flowers’ colors
Like fluorescent fish
In cloudy water.

 

II.

The elk at the water’s edge,
Massive and horned and red,
Look back at the towering limestone
Adorned with lodgepole pines.
The highest of the green needles,
We think, seem to scratch
The azure sky. To this mountain
Of green and grey, the elk are like
Red sparks from a distant fire.
And we are even smaller—like
White specks floating in a cave
Filled with water.

 

III.

Seeing you there—blue on blue—
Your feet in the warm Adriatic
Is the licking of a pleasure-tongue
Inside my sleepy head.

 

IV.

The merry completion of anticipation is
An empire of catkins sending
Dreaming gleaming grains
Across tender fields.

 

V.

Fears from the past, at last, vanish
Like a swirl of angry blackbirds:
All that remains of self-loathing
Can fit inside a pyx.

 

VI.

The thinking of strange thoughts, and with a loss of words:
Faint shapes in a faded tapestry, on fire.

 

VII.

The darkness deflected merely by candlelight.
The scent of satiety. On a table,
The cool wetness of empty shellfish,
Bread crumbs, the remains of asparagus,
Two punch bowls of chardonnay.
In the background, a melodic web
Of Otis Redding. Close your eyes,
My dear, and you become Otis, singing.

 

VIII.

To a child of winter, the cattails of heat.
To a child of summer, a barrage of ice.
To a child of fall, a pint of pollen.
To a child of spring, a cup of colored leaves.

 

IX.

The rain falls round the patio
In clear lines ending in clear starbursts.
Here is a crystal architecture
Where what is built was never fully designed,
Where what is designed can never be built.


 

Melting Into Portraiture

 

The sun perches
On creamy clouds. The day
Through the oaks makes
An adagio. There’s the
Happiness of honeysuckle.
There’s mint. Birds skip about
And thoughts coalesce.

The mind drifts
On the eyes’ sea until
There’s a soft rupture:

Light yellow bleeds through
Fluffy white, pale blue
Descends on green leaves,
Everything moves more,
Moves more in a sudden breeze.

In my eyes and
Through the breeze

A woman stirs
On a green knoll, her flesh
Fusing with a shower
Of shadows sprayed onto
The ground by the oaks.
Her hair dances round her.
I can see

The amber of her eyes
When she stares back.

It’s a subtle refinement of nature,
The ability to shift, to sway,
To change eternally, to tower above
The mind and eyes, only to shrink
Into grains of thought.

And this new woman,
In the wind and sun-play,
Like the land itself,
Shifts and sways too.
As do I.

We each adopt the attributes
Cast upon us by the other. We each
Consent to the other’s vision.
If joined as one
We’d be a kaleidoscope revealing
A thousand moving shapes
Through a single lens.


 

What is Poetry?

after John Ashbery

 

A Melanesian girl, in Sami clothing,
On the road to Dushanbe? The glissandi

Of birdsongs, how they’re draped in carmine?
Lake Louise? Or this striving

Towards something? Something
Arcane? Though we plead

To know it and clarity too? Will no one
Envisage the different visions

We have envisaged? Perhaps
They will. But it’s all been shattered

Like a fish bowl striking wooden floors,
The wooden shelving having collapsed.

So what? Will an empire of palm leaves
Still fill the vision of she who sees?

 

 

BIO

NykvistKjell Nykvist was born in Kalmar, Småland, Sweden, but grew up in Butte, Montana. He earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in Museum Studies from Baylor University. Kjell is currently a museum curator in Houston, Texas. He recently married his long-time love, Inga Stefánsdóttir, who is a harpsichordist. Kjell’s work has appeared in such publications as Poetry Super Highway, La Noria Literary Journal, The Deronda Review, and Asinine Poetry, as well as in several American and Canadian anthologies. (Kjell Nykvist is a heteronym of Bryan Damien Nichols, who writes his poetry through Kjell, and another heteronym, Alexander Shacklebury. Kjell and Alexander’s debut collection of poems, Whispers From Within, will be published later this year by Sarah Book Publishing, a small, independent Texas press.)

 

 

 

 

 

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to the Utter East

by Josey Parker

 

If the ocean was
full of flowers,
how long would it
take for them to wilt?
How long before petals became chips?
Natural with sea salt.

And would they look
like bouquets
or accordions?

When you bite a clover flower
and press it between
your molars,
somehow that blossom
unfolds on the buds
of your tongue.

-no, the flowers
aren’t bouquets or
accordions but carousels like
sticky fingers, maybe?

But the ocean is full of them and so
is your mouth-
your lips spit pollen;
there is no ark to
save us.

Your head is a buoy,
bobbing in
stems, sepals, petals, seeds.
Close your mouth
before
your tongue
catches mine.
I told you I’m allergic to pollen.

 

 

Greensleeves

 

hand me that leaf
we rescued last fall
to press between the p’s

it paled anyways
with veins
like a dry wrist

all we have are the photographs
of our fingers
dusty with chlorophyll

 

 

what will we do with the princes?

 

It’s hurricane season
-so sue me for
boarding up my windows

you didn’t tell me you would
be here throwing
pebbles

 

 

BIO

Josey ParkerJosey Parker is a frazzled student and coffee enthusiast who somehow finds time to write copious amounts of poetry and flash fiction. Her work has previously appeared in the Claremont Review. Although she is an author, she is not in fact, dead.

 

 

 

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Tableau

by Karen Corinne Herceg

 

The world
scaled for living
presses against a zero-degree sky,
the day’s beginning light
opening like a book.
The morning so frozen
will not allow the gibbous moon
to retire,
hovering over still-waiting lamplights,
poor imitations,
all their nightly duty done.
And I: supine across the linens
before this scene
as in a Rousseau tableau,
lying like a cut-out
in my own jungle,
each part outlined clearly
like the white snow-capped roofs
against the icy blue horizon.
And still
I think that you will edge me off the canvas
and paste me to the section
where you live.

 

Hudson History

                            honoring Pete Seeger

We’ve assumed you
beyond your natural shifts and turns,
morphing historical perspective,
birthing ourselves into your river grace,
iron and metal bridged
across your girth,
wave against will.
Adaptable in a marketable world,
your iconic flow
no exception,
your pristine nature filled
with natives and intruders,
the lush natural and
the burden of the built,
from ambitious towers
to towering trees
to the tread of silence
near old wilderness.
You begin at the north,
the top,
and push your power south,
carrying all,
delivering in a democracy of spirit,
challenged, fierce then passive,
history glinting off your journeys,
truth remaining in your depths,
powering through the harbor,
your own story
obscured by ours.

 

A Wake of Frogs

An early April day, arms full of grocery bags,
frost in the air not yet done,
I walked toward the house, stopped,
shocked by the sudden sight,
their gleaming bodies
laid out across rocks rimming the fountain
like civil war soldiers
waiting to be recognized and buried.
The porch where I sat evenings
watching the small waterfall
leech through rocks,
frothing into a pool rimmed with tiger lilies,
was far from soothing now.
How to know the autumn before
that ice would seal a wet tomb
before those innocents could escape?
A city girl, I couldn’t warn them
of nature’s ways.

Bags fallen at my feet, I spotted him
through our picture window,
sitting casually, New York Times in hand.
How he loved the crossword puzzle,
its setup of boxes, the clean, neat lines,
the completion of tiny words,
the supposition of victory.
This was complete, too:
death at the end of long years,
memories frozen over with no future,
laid out to view.
He thought those frogs were a warning
but they were only seeking a proper burial,
an affirmation
of what was long deceased.

 

Betrayer

The truth is
this is a fearful place,
constant trembling
flanked with platitudes,
with magical thinking,
failure drowning in cocktails,
lust laughing in a sophomoric comedy
and smoke curling
the clouded forbidden air.
There’s a lot of leftover
hippie love
and broken philosophies.
We assent to camouflage,
a whimsical toast,
a sea of well wishing,
the rejuvenation of a spa weekend.
Before the dusk of empty bottles,
pill prompted memories,
a closing door,
we consider praying again,
measures of redemption
kicking us back onto the cross,
always just shy of resurrection.

 

 

BIO

karen hercegKaren Corinne Herceg graduated magna cum laude from Columbia University with a B.A. in Literature/Writing. In 2011, she received graduate credits in an advanced writing curriculum with emphasis on editing and revision. She has published in independent, small press publications and has published a book of poetry, Inner Sanctions. As a recipient of New York State grants, Karen has read at various venues, universities and libraries on programs featuring such renowned writers as Pulitzer Prize winner John Ashbery and has studied and read with such well-known poets as David Ignatow and Pulitzer Prize winner Philip Schultz. Publications include Literary Mama, The Furious Gazelle, Immortal Verses, From A Window: Harmony and Inkwell. Her short story, “Knitting In Transit”, was published in Chrysalis Magazine, and she has completed her first full-length novel, Diva! Her current writing projects include a new volume of poems and co-authoring a memoir with award winning music producer Glenn Goodwin. Karen is a featured poet on the Hudson Valley poetry scene. She resides in Orange County, New York.

Visit Karen on Facebook and at her Website: karencorinneherceg.com.

 

 

 

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alan reese

So Alive

by Alan Reese

 

how do we bend the mind
to fit the sound of what is?

what is the tone and notes
of the chords of our dreams?

who asks the questions we
struggle to answer?

when do mind and memory
marry and live happily ever after?

where are we and what are we doing
when they come for us?

why do we vibrate like bees in a glass jar
when we are so alive with love?

 

 

TEOTWAWKI

Fish will walk on land, and frogs drop from the sky,
zeppelins will explode and rain fire,
newscasters will turn a blind eye to joy,
and meteorologists will forecast non-existent weather patterns.
My sweater is too tight, and my pyjamas don’t fit.
When Archduke Ferdinand starts out in his armored vehicle,
the world, at prayer and unsuspecting, will be caught off guard
and wobble off kilter the rest of its days.
Signals from space will be misinterpreted
as cosmic static and interstellar background noise.
My nose will be elected president
and declare a state of apathetic disenchantment.
Black ants and red ants will form an alliance
that will elevate water cooler small talk to metaphysical
speculation and force governing bodies to take stock
of entomological trends as socio-economic indicators.
Masturbation will become a national sport.
Hand towel stock will skyrocket.
Personal declaration will be denounced as capitalist claptrap.
My undershirts will go in hiding with the Witness Protection Program.
Pensive moments will be outlawed outright.
Last one to leave will be expected to turn out the lights.

 

 

BIO

alan reeseAlan C. Reese owns and operates an independent subsidy publishing business, Abecedarian Books, Inc. He is the author of the chapbook Reports from Shadowland. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Smartish Pace, Gargoyle, The Baltimore Sun, Maryland Poetry Review, Potomac Review, Delaware Review, Welter, Grub Street, Attic, Bicycle Review, Danse Macabre, and the Loch Raven Review. He teaches writing at Towson University.

 

 

 

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bruce mcrae

Perception Management

by Bruce McRae

 

How it is and how it isn’t…

We look for you as if a lost key,
retracing our steps, constructing models,
comparing the right eye to the left.
We employ statistics, the blunt instruments
of guesswork and guesstimates,
and see little harm in chicanery.
Lies can be good for you.

We’re building a better monster,
history airbrushed, the rain holding off,
sin considered an accomplishment.

Now we’re tapping the collective consciousness,
a ready source of gods and archetypes.
We’re instructing you in the art of complacency,
the law on the side of the lawyers.

A hush falls over the Earth
as we prepare our presentation,
including suitable lighting and soothing ambiance.
Even the dead are invited to dine.
Even the living.

 

Identity Crisis

You were the Wife of Bath
and I was Claudius Ptolemy.
I was your sixth or seventh husband
and you were my invisible lover, Mrs. Succubus.
We played games in the sack by candlelight.
We crossed deserts.
Some days we didn’t even know each other.

Little wonder I was so confused.
How does one label their experiences
when rampaging Visigoth’s are at the gate?
With biblical floodwaters rising?
In these damnable firestorms?

One minute we’re Bedouins in a Saharan caravan
and the next we’re planting tomatoes back in Omaha.
“Now you see me, now you don’t,”
you cried out from behind a burning mulberry bush.

And I couldn’t have said it any better.

 

Step Forward

They wanted a volunteer.
I brought them a head on a silver salver.
I pulled your name out of a hat.
I gave them my neighbour’s phone number.

They required donations;
all for a good cause, we were assured.
So I took the loose change out of your pocket,
the gold fillings out of your mouth,
the two pennies reserved for your eyelids.

The gods demand a sacrifice, they insisted.
Of course, we nodded in unison,
jostling for the honour of being first,
taking turns jumping into the bonfire.

Unrestrained in our passion.

 

 

BIO

bruce mcraePushcart nominee Bruce McRae is a Canadian musician with over 900 poems published internationally, including Poetry.com, Rattle and The North American Review. His first book, The So-Called Sonnets is available via Silenced Press and Amazon. To see and hear more poems go to ‘BruceMcRaePoetry’ on YouTube.

 

 

 

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Jon Riccio poet

Streaming

by Jon Riccio                                                                                                     

The revenue a chat room derives from a duodenum
and a stapled pouch,

a stomach’s subculture of gain, cleanse, loss
                                                in the bypass
gifted to me when I turned nineteen.

The buffets it wrested,
            the domain I registered,
all those ethers clamored around a meme,

            the social word-shit one types
“like my lap band”      “tweet my gout”
            streaming on alt-dot haunts.

My searchability full-blown, I’m a phoenix
gone gastric with more boyfriends than you
have optic nerves       and that’s Ohio alone.

Mother, I’ve macerated my tract,
the live feed of a chafing dish
less invasive than bariatric.

Father, meet Evan from Ashtabula.
He crowd-funded my flab,

one download from betrothed.


 

Prompt

 

The writer wearing a mercurochrome corset
gives you a picture of half-eaten pie,
you inure a blood phobia,
the transitive inferred.

She sends the angel
with candy-wrapper wings.
The Rapture is a dinner bill, you
are its Andes mint. You jostle a trinity:

the abortion building
next to the Weight Watchers
near the Flapjack Shack,

rev the Z in Nazareth, smite its arcade.

 

 

Separate Recyclables

 

I am the nightmare of every environmentalist
turned conversion therapist
hoping to biodegrade
the gay away.

Woe to the zealot
who’s chained himself
to my landfill, its damnables
poking out of a cardboard pond,
diorama forsaken because I ran out of tape.

Each morning,
tribunals and a tin glade.

My handrail, on eulogy,
saying, “absence of rings kept me
beautiful, self-realization drained him alone.”

 

 

BIO

Jon RiccioJon Riccio studied viola performance at Oberlin College and the Cleveland Institute of Music. A recent Pushcart nominee, his work has appeared or is forthcoming in Paper NautilusQwerty,RedividerCutBank OnlineWaxwing and Switchback, among others. An MFA candidate at the University of Arizona, he resides in Tucson.

 

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Rockoff Lizut

April Fool

by Sandra Rokoff-Lizut

 

Why did I believe
our milkman
was leading a cow
down our city street that spring morning

First, weird things
happen. (After all,
it was 1971 in Santa Fe).

Second, we had our milk
delivered then, by a local dairy—
glass-bottled, cream-topped, unpasteurized.

Third, my ex-husband
was absolutely convincing.
I never doubted a thing he told me.

 

 

 

On Pollywog Pond

 

The young girl’s ankles
bend to greet each other.

Red nose drips
colt-legs wobble
mittened hands pose
to hold ice at bay.

Lips and cheeks chap
toes loose ability to twinkle.

But her mind glides,
spins, jumps,
stops so fast
silver blades spit shavings.

 

 

 

As Oregon winter begins

 

autumn weeps
its last leaves
on dark dank
afternoons

bare limbs
bravely
bare
their vulnerability

grey sheets
unravel
in an
unfailing
cacophony
of rain drops

 

 

BIO

Sandra Rokoff-LizutSandra Rokoff-Lizut, retired educator and children’s book author (published by Macmillan, Holt Reinhart & Winston, and Hallmark Inc.), is currently both a printmaker and poet. She is a member of Oregon Poetry Association and first place award winner in their Spring 2014 contest, Mary’s Peak Poets, Poetic License, Gertrude’s, and a weekly writing salon. Rokoff-Lizut volunteers by teaching poetry to middle-schoolers at the Boys and Girls Club in Corvallis. She also studied poetry through OSU as well as at Sitka and Centrum. Previous publications include Illya’s Honey, The Bicycle Review, Wilderness House Review, The Penwood Review, Wild Goose Poetry Review and Verseweavers.

 

 

 

 

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Spent Grains

by Kent Kosack

 

Once it was salvation, that

First cold sip, the bitter notes.

So bitter!

The malty sweetness.

The bubbles in my nose.

The sun playing across the

Lot, shimmering with heat,

The empty chairs, the

Barrels of spent grains.

Once it was just so.

Then, things went astringent.

Bad end notes.

So bitter.

The way you stormed out,

Theatrical, past the grains,

Spent.

So bitter.

 

 

The attic

 

Youth is what you loved.

Yourself too. And maybe the

Margaritas we used to drink

Naked and close, in front of

An old air conditioner. Our

Own world, that patch of

Cold in an otherwise

Sweltering attic.

 

 

Your hair

 

Close-cropped it falls,

Thick and full and defiant,

Escaping through my greedy,

Searching fingers.

No one likes

Goodbyes.

 

 

Commute

 

Barreling down the hill towards (a job, I’ll say it, but who cares? It’s not me. It’s life in the cracks that counts) downtown, a piston, Barry Allen, a demi-god.

Yelling, straining more with the song of it than anything else, a half-remembered tune (from the Muppets?) humming inside me somewhere.

Approaching now, the road narrowing, options narrowing. The winnowing of a day. I, the chaff. And silence. Waste. A day-long suffocation.

Stepping heavily up each stair. Each. Stair. A change in atmosphere. Pounds of pressure per square inch, pressing, bearing down. Like astronauts in training.

Astonishing. A vast wonder. Lost in it. You can hear it—or not. What is it? (a tether to an unseen weight) All about, the void.

 

 

BIO

Kent Kosack teaches English and writes poetry and prose. He lives in Seattle.

 

 

 

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Ain’t Got No

by Claudia Putnam

 

In grade three Scotty said I ain’t got no
lunch money. We were delighted.
We crowed, That means you do.
If you don’t have none, then you have
some. Mrs. Cole, otherwise kind,

had just taught us the double negative.
But Scotty, one of those kids always
moving, dirty, in trouble, starved for food,
kisses, laughter, anything and everything,
still had no money for lunch.

Some languages would let Scotty
have his doubled poverty. Russian,
for instance, negates everything.
U nevo ne bylo nichevo. Literally:
In his possession nothing of anything wasn’t.

U nevo is interesting. With him, beside him,
near him, in his possession, in his situation,
in his position, he is characterized by.
Most common English translation: he has.
U nevo nichevo. He has nothing.

English gathers round Scotty, jeering.
Don’t you know how to talk? Haven’t
you learned anything? Can’t you think?
Russian isn’t concerned with that logic.
Russian is concerned with nyet.

Nikovo nikogda nigde nichevo ne bylo.
No one never nowhere nothing was not.
A person with no lunch money could say,
U menya nichevo, ni deneg, ni obeda.
I am characterized by nothing,

nothing of money, nothing of lunch.

 

 

This Isn’t Really Happening

 

My black bird was bigger,
my mountains were burning.
The snows stopped coming

sometime around 1999. The wells
dried. The shower sputtering
with soap in my hair

so I was always late. That tame crow
someone set loose spying
through the skylight, jeering.

How many ways is that? Each year
the river running thinner,
fleeing its shrinking glacier.

The Arapaho said the thunderbird,
black as any bird
gets, lived just west of here.

Someone must have seen it,
the day it flapped away.
We don’t get regular afternoon

stunners the way we used to.
You could set your heart on
those 2 PM monsoons. Biblical

lightning, all that water. Now: rusting
Ponderosas, centuries old,
disrobing. All good things

must end. Perhaps nightmares
also end. Not perhaps
in our lifetimes.

Poor lost crow, these are not
the best of times
to be falling asleep.


 

Sync

 

A few months with other women,
a woman bleeds.

Ten years’ time, a woman synchronizes
with her man.

Over thousands of miles, your arousal
brings my body astir.

Men make movies, you said—now they loop
through my head.

Golden locks on our dark headboard,
naked ass raised.

If I were making this up, I’d be watching you
both; the camera’s on her.

Your currents churn through my body;
don’t think I don’t know.

 

 

 

BIO

Claudia Putnam’s work appears in I-70 Review, Weber: The Contemporary West, Literary Mama, Barrow Street, Artful Dodge, Cimarron Review, Confrontation, and in many other journals. A chapbook, Wild Thing in Our Known World, came out last year from Finishing Line and is available from Finishing Line Press and on Amazon. In 2011-12, she had the George Bennett Fellowship. In 2015, she’ll be at Kimmel Harding Nelson. www.claudiaputnam.com

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Kelly Thompson poet

Legacy

by Kelly Thompson

 

My mother always said
(Giving me a look)
“You’re just like my mother.”

I see Grandmother’s ghost
In the corner of my eye
At the supermarket again today
Rounding the bend of an aisle, she
Pushes her shopping cart in rage
Her wet heart calls – Escape! I follow her
Path among the produce; she steals a grapefruit
Offers me an illicit berry – “Here take it”

Mother washes a dish, sighs
“My mother was not domestic.”
Dries a plate, “You should never get married.”

Back at the supermarket, Grandmother runs, crazy
Through the aisle, throws jars of pickles, relish, capers
Crashing to the floor. She screams, “No more!”
I bend down among the vinegar, the rolling
Olives, pick up the red pimientos.

“You’re just like my mother,” she would say.
My mother, dusting the piano, looking off
In the distance, wistful.

The chill air prickles my arms, sleeveless
The condiment shelves empty, price tags
Intact as if to remind us of the cost
All the jars
Smashed – ketchup and mustard, salad oil, peppers –

Grandmother and I bend
Reaching for the same jagged shard of glass
Her eyes my mirror, I kneel
Before the shadow of her early death
Her aborted
Passion.


 

Colorado

Denver is the capital city of Colorado. My heart is the capital of a small frozen pond.

All of the “Beulah red” marble in the world went into the Capitol. It cannot be replaced.

Flower – Rocky Mountain Columbine (1899)

Left on my porch in Blue Jay, California for my 42nd birthday.

Colorado was admitted to the Union August 1, 1876. I was admitted to schools, hospitals, psych wards.

Tree – Colorado blue spruce (1939)

Hunkered down in Alaska, blue spruce between me and the neighbor.

Colo. is the abbreviation for the state. My mind abbreviated by grief.

Bird – Lark Bunting (1931)

Sorrow my sparrow, as soon as I left: a murder of crow, a kindness of raven.

The area of Colorado covers 104100 square miles. Circles I made in the snow.

Animal – Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep (1961)

Exposed on the cliffs the day I got up from the table. The world’s largest flat-top mountain is in Grand Mesa.

Colorado was the 38th State to be admitted to the Union. I admitted, at last, only to failure.

Gemstone – Aquamarine (1971)

At the western base of this ancient chain of granite peaks was once an inland sea. Still,
I kept trying to get out of the boat.

The three largest Cities in Colorado are Denver, Colorado Springs and Aurora. Minus 47 murdered in Denver.

Colors – Blue and White (1911)

I said yes to the stretched out hand and walked on water.

The Colorado State Motto is “Nil sine Numine,” translated as “Nothing without Providence”
And just it is that I should pay the rent.

Song – “Where the Columbines Grow” (1915)

I shall already have forgotten you when the river runs red.

 

 

Shape of a Song

 

Who stole it from me father?
Fear of the water is inborn in some.
Your great-grandmother was a witch. You’re just like her.
Her power lay in the words she controlled. She had a pack of wolves, a swarm of bees, a murder Of crows.

Father said she read his fortune in tea leaves but when she looked into Gene’s cup she turned, Refused to tell.   She wanted a pair of silver shoes.
It’s a gift, she told him. You’d have to sell your ____ to the devil.
But even she was afraid of the dark.

The witch’s daughter told the great-grand-daughter how it would be. She sang her into the shape Of a song.
She lived so long that a little girl could outwit her.
Father would not spill the water though the creek ran high.
The Wicked Witch of the West was destroyed by water.

The place we would step into the current will not come again.
But first, she starved the Cowardly Lion.
In the wagon they carried their most prized possessions, a guitar and a fiddle.
The witch’s daughter rode shoeless.

The witch foretold that men would land on the moon.
She saw the writing on the wall.
She named their firstborn but they declined the gift.
They preferred a new rhythm.

In time and space, they gave their children something blotted, blank, something human,
Where before, a melting witch lay steaming on the floor.
Father, said the daughter, I still carry her bequest.
The remnants of fires lay banked around them.

You were born without a ____, he said. Consequent bastard, he said.
The silver shoes I have thrown in the ocean.

 

 

BIO

Kelly ThompsonKelly Thompson’s writing has been published in 49 Writers, Manifest Station, Metrosphere, Limp Wrist, and Reflections: Narratives of Professional Helping. She has won awards for her poetry from Writer’s Digest and was awarded funding to attend Key West Literary Seminar based on her short fiction. She is currently working on a memoir entitled Oh Darling Girl. Just as the narrator gets sober, one of her two barely adolescent daughters descends into addiction and rebels against her mother’s new found lifestyle of recovery. As the narrator struggles to save her daughter and face down a transgenerational legacy of violence, addiction, and shame, the lives of grandchildren hang in the balance and heartbreaking choices must be made. Kelly is also currently working on a chapbook of poetry focused on the themes of ancestry, transgenerational trauma, and legacy. Besides writing, Kelly is a psychotherapist who primarily works with soldiers returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and their families. Kelly lives in Denver, Colorado, in the sunshine of the spirit. You can follow her on Twitter @stareenite.

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Lowther

Selections from 555

by John Lowther

 

*

You know, this stuff you put four drops in a pot with boiling water and feel like a koala bear goin’ wild on drugs.
And even more starkly, there’s a very clear trend in the data, where each step up in waiting time results in a higher risk of death.
It all looks more than a bit scruffy; there is nothing along the road to soothe the eye, no riots of flowers to cheer the heart.

I get off where thought addresses the unthought and articulates itself upon it.
The occasionalist argues that all events are radically independent of one another.

*

Only through communism can we come to experience our bodies again.
Despite the title this is not about finding your soul mate.
The preamble explains why this matters and where this is going.
This is non-reg, but the cops have better shit to worry about, especially when it doesn’t impact the corporati.
Death is a black camel that kneels unbidden at every gate.
Frosties are just corn flakes for people who can’t face reality.
If the tweetstorm is right, this is a pretty grim situation.
The ego is the theology of free enterprise.
All theory of knowledge has sexual connotations.

*

I welcome the dead into my soul.

It uses many of the genre tropes, little kid, estranged family, nobody who believes, creepy house in the woods.
The world is its own best model.
The problem with all of my dreams is that I don’t speak the language.
Here’s some Swiss cheese and some bullets.
Don’t fall in love with yourselves, with the nice time we are having here.
It’s a fast-paced sci-fi trip.
The ride to complete the loop from the mine was on a diesel engine, which blew out lots of debris.

But what about those things out there.

*

A revolution without dancing is not a revolution worth having.
They were too close to the door to close it.
In the back seat was a fur coat, and in the street was blood mixed with car fluid, nail polish, lip gloss, baby booties, a toy piano, condoms, and a collection of music on compact disc by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Vacuous suavity remains the abiding deficiency of self-consciously ‘good’ writing.
One is always responsible for one’s position as a subject.
Thus, by building robots, our intention is to learn something about intelligence, and not so much to build technologically sophisticated robots.

*

Judging from your pictures, you hate facts like poison.
The wind tunnel tells them all the same thing.
Sometimes I text myself a little pick me up.
I like knitted hats and I like vinyl records.
This is the traditional modus operandi of the sophist.
Without judgment, because it is judgment that defeats us.
Please try to stop shaking now and just breathe.
Don’t ever be yourself, it’s the kiss of death.
Let’s talk about spout fluid beds, fundamentals and applications.

Desire is the crucible within which the self is formed.
If you’re on board you’re on board all the way.

 

 

BIO

John LowtherJohn Lowther’s work appears in the Atlanta Poets Group’s anthology, The Lattice Inside (UNO Press, 2012) and in Another South: Experimental Writing in the South (U of Alabama, 2003). Held to the Letter, co-authored with Dana Lisa Young is forthcoming from Lavender Ink in 2015. John also works in video, photography, paint, performance and other mediums as the need arises. He’s writing a dissertation to reimagine psychoanalysis had intersex and transgender lives been taken as foundational for understanding subjective possibility. He blogs as Lowtherpoet at WordPress.

 

 

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THE THIN SCAR ON SUSAN’S RIGHT WRIST

by John McKernan

 

Under silver jewelry & light
Would point at a thread of moon

White shadow
High in a midnight sky
Off-white woven blue thread

In a red background
If ever she noticed me
Noticing that scar
She would whisper some thing

“A beautiful body
Deserves a gorgeous tattoo”

“At least it’s not a rusty bullet
Through a left ventricle”

“It’s me but it’s also not me”

 

 

 

WHY DO SOLDIERS

 

Carry
Brass knives

Where do they get
All those silver axes
In leather holsters

Who gave them
Buckets
And buckets
Of waterproof melanoma

And how come
Those gold pitchforks
With oak handles
Monogrammed
Sparkling in sunlight

When all it takes
Is a thick tree limb
Or a stone
The size of a small hand
To send a neighbor
A million miles away

 

 

 

BIRTHDAY NUMERO 47

 

My father died
When he was forty-seven

I still love chocolate cake
Chocolate frosting
Candles in a dark room

My name is
My father’s name
The same sound
But the silence is different

Spools of tomorrow
In green slats
Of sunlight
The letters are identical
Written in granite

 

 

 

PUBLIC PARK

 

A dog trotted over the orgasm sunbathing on a towel and lifted his right leg

The woman in the black dress walked up to the orgasm and kicked it

The professor whispered “Thank you   The word for orgasm in Braille is orgasm

Waving a shovel in the sand the child might have been screaming at an orgasm

An orgasm snored in a Dell computer box under the foot bridge to the Rose Garden

A large boy bounced the orgasm down the hill as if it were a soccer ball

When shadows of an orgasm floated past the young man’s heart he began running

An orgasm disguised as a prayer floated from the old woman’s lips

Twin orgasms pulled off their see-through bikinis and began giggling

An assortment of daylights loitered calmly   Each one bearing an orgasm

The man with the propane tank & a lighter waited to become an orgasm

The orgasms hovering on the motorcycle mirrors winked twice then vanished

One idea of orgasm flew from the apple blossoms to the eye of the old deaf man

 

 

BIO

JohnMcKernan2John McKernan – who grew up in Omaha Nebraska in the middle of the USA – is now a retired comma herder / Phonics Coach after teaching for 41 years at Marshall University. He lives – mostly – in West Virginia where he edits ABZ Press.  His most recent book is a selected poems Resurrection of the Dust.  He has published poems in The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review, The New Yorker, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Journal, Antioch Review, Guernica, Field and many other magazines.

 

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Sniper’s Rhythm

by Tamer Mostafa

 

lay belly down
arms overhead
and palms flat
lift shoulders
expand rib cage
move belly
so the dome
of diaphragm
clenches the guts
line rifle on side
of dominant eye
fit butt and guard
into proper pockets
of the body
keep eyes open
relax forehead
jaw lips eyelids
in that order
recognize wind
speed and direction
adjust accordingly
hold breath
identify target
and begin counting
one                  two
and                  pull

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walk to the Coffee Shop

 

Under a crabapple tree
a black cat
lies on its side
absorbing the leaves.
The stench undeveloped.

A crusted napkin
once red in added color
is picked up by the wind
carried to the tunnel’s
graffiti and halogen light bulbs.

On the unmarked street
a truck runs over
sets of rubber rumble strips
that mimic the sound
of premeditated rapid fire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dealers are Sleeping

 

The lessons become redundant,
how to cover when you crush
on the clipboard. No credit cards
or crisp bills.

It’s minutes before closing
in the Walmart ammunition
aisle. I haven’t been this light
in years.

Here’s the deserted road behind
the river and all those abandoned
houses that come to life after
midnight.

We shoot bullets to the moon
and hope its shattered craters
land at our feet.

There’s talk and scheming
on how to live righteous
when our numb nostrils
and teeth regain feeling.

You’d forgive anything
in this state, unless it’s only
residue lining the inside of my
cigarette pack’s plastic pouch.

I’m sorry. I mistook you
for an old friend. Can you give
me directions to East Manchester?
I have a pickup to make.

 

 

 

BIO

Tamer MostafaTamer Mostafa’s work has been featured in California Quarterly, The Rag Literary Magazine, Poets Espresso Review, Confrontation Literary Magazine, Stone Highway Review, and No Infinite. He was the recipient of the 2011 CSU Sacramento Bazzanella Literary Award in Creative Non-Fiction and the 2013 Lois Ann Latin Rosenburg Prize for Poetry.

 

 

 

 

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from 244 Passivity

by Tim Roberts

 

*

 

I want this work to appear in the place where it says nothing will

break through. Where subject matter is the action of doing, what

you are given, the act of writing. We are going to be reciprocating.

The budget and bread of the day. But still, open water, as you

contemplate the happening, it is happening. So that if subject can

only be impossible, only that, then, in front of you. Because of our

motion.

 

*

 

The table makes us simplify. When we get to a question of anger.

When we move through the atemporal, we’re saying “must be,”

I think. That’s all. It’s no more than what you do to lay out the

questioning, which is taking that preeminent place of value, which

is the place of value, writing it out, that is, or are you dragging it

in, something about you that did not want you, to be touched by

you, to be remembered so that it forces you to forget, if you try,

writing it out, to put it down, memorialize it. It won’t be.

 

*

 

There’s fear related to thinking. In the box set on marginal

cities. There’s a right way to rhyme, so and so having chosen, the

element. You study and are not chosen. Why not? It’s the material,

which under certain conditions bends, or doesn’t bend but is

molten. Or then, time passing, you go back into the shade, an

attitude, colorless swamp. Is that you? I have stretched the motion

of contemplating. What I seem to be lifting is story itself. The best

of old behaviors, night birds, quiet flying roaming, and a perch,

one eating another one. There is also a bend in the rain. Forced.

 

 

 

BIO

Tim Roberts is a writer and editor living in Denver, Colorado. He is the author of Drizzle Pocket (BlazeVox, 2011) and the director of Counterpath.

 

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Robert Lavett Smith

Robert Lavett Smith

 

SABLE

       “Out of darkness, to begin again…”
Charles Simic

W. B. Yeats, the story goes,
young and impecunious in London,
rubbed lampblack into his stockings
to hide the rends in his boots.
Barely a century earlier, sailors
burned cauldrons of pitch on deck
to keep water-sprites at bay,
and I’m assured the India ink
generations have counted on
is nothing more than midnight’s tallow
fat with the leavings of guttered fires.
In the middle ages, sable showed—
dare we say it?—its darker side:
blood pooling beneath fevered skin
lent a name to the scourge
that tested the piety of saints.
Notwithstanding, I trust the darkness:
moist flannel enfolding a summer night,
stars pinned like disappointments
to its unblemished mystery.


 

AFTER THIRTY YEARS

        Helmer’s, Washington Avenue, Hoboken

Carved wooden bar darkened by the weight
of a ponderous century, ornate scroll work
to which the grime of the late Victorian era
still clings: how little changed it all seems
since I lived nearby decades ago, although
the pert, twenty-something bartender says
everything was refurbished after a fire upstairs,
smoke and water having scarred the walls.

I savor again familiar smells of old varnish
and sunlight. The same elegant antique mirror,
silvered crystal brimming with shadows,
runs the length of the counter, behind the bar.
But whose is this stranger’s face, skin wrinkled
and loosening, that peers incredulously back
through the glittering bottles of aged whiskey,
imported tequila, Fernet and Tanqueray?

 

 

AN ACCIDENT OF WEATHER

        A.T. S., Oberlin, Fall 1977

Try, if you must, to persuade me
that this street so slick the asphalt
shouldering the morning mist
shines as it might after rain,

this street where a cataract sky
is mirrored, featureless
as though it secreted some meaning
beyond an accident of weather,
cannot possibly lead us to any future
save for the one that you foresee.

I will listen to what you tell me
without speaking, perspiration chill
on my face in the breaking dawn.
I will contradict nothing.

And when you’ve said your piece
and turn to go, I will study the way
your footprints linger an instant
on a film of oily moisture
before they disappear, healing
behind your retreat like wounds.

 

 

BIO

Robert Lavett SmithRaised in New Jersey, Robert Lavett Smith has lived since 1987 in San Francisco, where for the past fifteen years he has worked as a Special Education Paraprofessional. He has studied with Charles Simic and Galway Kinnell. He is the author of several chapbooks and two full-length poetry collections, the most recent of which is Smoke in Cold Weather: A Gathering of Sonnets (Full Court Press, 2013).

 

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John Ronan

John Ronan

 

Every Day is Garbage Day, Somewhere

 

Garbage Guy
Stops, spots
A red sticker
And hauls off
The wasted week,
Full remission
A buck a bag:
The usual suet
And newspapers,
Bluster, bromides,
Embarrassment
Of bottles, rinds
Of every kind.

 

 

Hanky Panky

(A love song.)

 

Loopy looks,
proximate hips,
a clumsy hook,
insisting lips.

        Mannered mores sum with tact:
        hanky panky, the marriage act.

Slip of tongue,
Jack-in-the-box,
A lecherous yawn,
“Ahhh” at the doc’s.

        Mannered mores sum with tact:
        hanky panky, the marriage act.

Frantic round’s
lust abrupt,
pleasure-bound,
headboard butt:

        Mannered mores sum with tact:
        hanky panky, the marriage act.

Second’s affection,
lazy play,
aging attrition,
slow matinee.

        Mannered mores sum with tact:
        hanky panky, the marriage act.

Impeach of reason,
love apart,
gender’s engine,
driven heart.

        Mannered mores sum with tact:
        hanky panky, the marriage act.

 

 

 

BIO

John J. Ronan is a poet, playwright, movie producer, and journalist.  He has received national honors for his poetry and was named a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow for 1999-2000.

In 2009 John published a new book of poems, Marrowbone Lane.  He is also a former poet laureate of Gloucester, MA, and remains committed to the importance of civic poetry. Also a playwright, his works include The Yeats Game and The Tease of Eden.  A pioneer in electronic publishing, in 2002 he introduced Damned If I Dotagea humorous e-book on the trials of turning 50.

John is also the founder of the media production company American Storyboard, a teacher of film, and host of the cable talk show The Writer’s Block with John Ronan which will celebrate its 25th anniversary in the 2014-15 season.

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Kim Suttell

Kim Suttell

AS A SKINNY GIRL

My father showed his love
with Indian burns
on a dish-rag arm I pretend to pull away,
a downy chicken-foot arm wrung raw
to even the ulna.

To love him back I perched
dollish hands in a struggle grip,
scrunched all my weight for nothing.
His skin stanch against my tiny twists
while his love for me still stinging pink.

He finds fun this ineffectiveness
and makes me run away.
Eventually I skirt his reach,
learn the feebleness of trying.
I wait for many years
to match his earnest clench.

 

PIERRE

Wet and fine weather depend on him now.
Or so it seems to me and my feet.
I have such trouble with boots

that are never warm enough. He’d demand
my coat unzip, his suede grip
accord weightlessness to me,

with free, spreading toes and flaps of coat.
I’d look down on leaded clouds
begging to rain.

Daisies and hot grass sway above.
There is nothing
like the heat of grass
that is still so cool
I pull my coat closer.

 

ACCEPTANCE

She doesn’t need you now.

She has a mesh bag for razors
and facial scrubs,

a comforter set, and

hooks affixed with
removable adhesive.

 

PIECES

Teeth, tongue, gums, gullet,
palate, lips, spit. Kiss.

Palms, arms, muscles, knuckles,
nails, wrists, pits. Hug.

Skin, kidneys, knees, nerves,
veins, brains, breath. Love.

 

 

 

BIO

A poet for the pleasure of it, Kim Suttell lives in New York City where she likes not having to drive.  She writes poems in the subway.  Some of her poems have found homes in Right Hand Pointing, The Cortland Review, Forth Magazine and other journals. They are compiled for you at page48.weebly.com.

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New Work by R.A. Allen

 

      Disclaimer

 

the objects of your desire
may be more distant
than they appear

across-the-room eye contact
holds no guarantee
of future performance

levels of requited attention
are subject to change
without notice

your views on life and love
are not necessarily the views
of this attraction,

who assumes no responsibility
or liability for your stunned hopes
or lovelorn suicide

play at your own risk.

 

      Future Bright

 

Dying at the sidewalk’s edge
beneath the Tuscaloosa sun,
the young entrepreneur
is persuaded by mom & dad
to man a lemonade stand.
Old Mrs. Grandberry
from next door
bought one glass,
but proclaimed it piss
and poured it into
the gutter.
His aunt Candy sent him
to buy sanitary napkins,
—whatever they were. Death
may have snickered at
Prufrock, but that’s nothing
next to a hooting chorus
of Jitney Jungle cashiers.
For confessing to onanism
the penance from Father O’Grady
was ten Stations of the Cross.
The sarge always put him on point.
A shrink triple-charged him
for a visit to his inner-self.
He was cuckolded by
his cable guy’s wife.
Browsing bookshelves for the answer,
he considers at length
The Power of Positive Thinking
but ultimately settles on
The Wit and Wisdom of Charlie Manson.

 

 

      Side Work Sonatina

 

Afterhours
I water down a top shelf Bourbon
with speed rail hooch
while watching you
marry the condiments—
mustard to mustard,
the salt, and the pepper,
respectively.
(Heinz is the only ketchup
worthy of the term.)
You roll your flatware
in black linen napkins.
Your waitress legs ache for me, I like to think,
but then, they might just be tired,
or maybe you’ll be wrapping them
around someone else tonight
in the TV light
as it dulls into
dawn.

 

 

BIO

RA AllenR.A. Allen’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in New York Quarterly, Night Train, Mantis, RHINO Poetry, Gargoyle, The Recusant (UK), and elsewhere. His work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He lives in Memphis for the humidity. More at http://poets.nyq.org/poet/raallen

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