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poetry

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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).

 

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.

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.

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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