Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Happy St David's Day

Patron of Wales, poets and vegetarians

What We Are

by Amy Soricelli

If I screamed down some tunnel - hollow air;
like marbles, like pearls -
the slippery spiteful tongue would get caught like lettuce in the spaces in between -

I would not love you still.
The air would squeeze my heart into dust.

If I stepped on some glass - slivers sharp edges like broken promises
sawed off wheels in the snow - the thorny rims would pierce my toes -
they'd slip aside one another/teasing tiny drops of blood into place like grammar.
I hold the pain to my heart like cotton.

I would not want you still.
The sound of fear would choke me like a restless snake.

I have hated the sounds a bad marriage makes on trains -
on line buying milk.
How the still air gets crowded with black cloud wings - how the
rain bolts down a thousand hungry chains - their spoiled disappointment
groans like poverty - then settles like fleas on a dog you cross the street from.

I shut my hand against you like a black jellybean -
the screen door buzzes a thousand lonely bees..

We live like this now, you and I.
A rough terrain of rocky spots; land that catches in our
throats like a dare.
We are a map.

You are Here - it says.
This is you.

not worth it

by Linda M. Crate

"it's not worth it," you said
you're right,
but how do i get out of this fog?
does anyone really want to work at a
sub shop?
i need to pay my bills
somehow,
but i've never felt so dismayed
all my dreams are anywhere but here;
i love my family,
but this place has always been bad for me
i'm always happier elsewhere—
can't take all the isolation of being buried in snow
and all these painful memories,
i know everyone has hell to go through
but these flames hurt so badly
i can scarcely focus on anything else but the pain;
just want to know that all this suffering
was worth it—
they tell me love is the only healing magic in this world
i have always loved only to be left behind
certainly could use someone's love
to sew me back together
now,
and i'm an emotional wreck over the stupidest things
right now;
just want to breathe but find that i cannot—
wish i could be so brave as you to just quit but i'd have
nowhere to go and the bills would still need paid
i'd get evicted from my apartment
and the government wouldn't let me live freely again
tell me,
does anyone deserve to suffer?
all i want to do is close my eyes, and when i open them
for all the misery to have washed away

Mailboxes Tipped like Cows in a Field

by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

The horn is tooted,
yours or someone
else’s

and from that moment on
there is no going back
(and no wanting
too)        

the mailboxes tipped
like cows
in a field

humility
never had a chance

as the grey gosling
wails

and three fingers
pretend to be
four.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Red and the Gray

by James Babbs

I’m really good at it
sitting at the kitchen table
gazing into the dying light
I see the red and the gray
mixing together in the sky
and there’s a half-emptied bottle of wine
on the table next to my glass
I reach over and slowly
pour myself another one
feel the heat crawling on my face
thinking about
how most things don’t really matter
the sound the sump pump makes
coming from the laundry room
down in the basement
reminds me of an elevator
moving up through the floors
the light on the pole outside
switching on automatically
it shines across the dead grass
lights up my whole back yard

FINGERS ON THE PIANO KEYS

by Lana Bella

You still miss me from the time:
I drew upon your lips with my whiskey-
laced fingers;
the fingers that I'd danced across smooth
dual-toned piano keys,
to the tattooed flesh with engraved beast
on the strapping bicep.
Your breaths came through heavy and sweet
stirring gone the cigar smoke,
so close I could taste your frothy scent.
You leaned toward, both arms resting
on the console grand,
where throbbing veins ached rhythms of
the briny sea.
There, at the scarred shadow of your funny bone:
clear echo of painted ships
and pine-knot smokes,
a well-dressed suit of slate-flawed skin;
dusky light swept gold the blunt-cut fingertips,
slow whirl of the ceiling fan skimmed across
your brown hair cool.
Into the whiskey-varnished air and against
the wisps of smoldering mist,
my fingers flirted with the familiar refuge of octaves'
crunched desire
upon the ivory white and charcoal black
keys of the piano.

Hi, I’m Killing Myself…How Are You?

by Paul Tristram

I walked into The Market Tavern
upon the left hand side of the main drag
at exactly noon on a sunny, Autumnal day.
I spied no one employed behind the bar
but there was a female customer sitting
along the otherwise empty stretch of wood.
I walked on over and stood close by,
glancing sideways at her, late fifties,
un-brushed hair, grey bags under her eyes,
smudged traces of yesterday’s make-up.
Also a strange pungent aroma coming
from her which really was quite stunning
in its ferocity and eye-watering thickness.
A mix of stale urine, cheap perfume, grief
(I know this one well, it is unmistakeable!)
rolling tobacco, wet clothing (even though
she appeared dry?) and old library books.
She was drinking a pint of Export lager
and a shot of something whisky coloured.
I was about to ask her where the bartender
was when she turned to me and said
“Hi, I’m killing myself…how are you?”
“Nice to meet you and good luck with that!”
I answered before turning upon my heel
and exiting the building, crossing the street
and strolling into ‘The Virgin & The Gypsy’
Where I was greeted by 3 bleach blonde
21 year old smiling barmaids whom I soon
discovered were named Sian, Sam & Billy.
Who served me several pints of Adnams
Broadside Real Ale and a full roast dinner
complete with Yorkshire puddings, pigs
in blankets and all three available meats.
We’re all killing ourselves, every waking
moment of our lives, some days are better
and some are worse but right now I was not
in the mood to trade scars with anyone at all.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Found

by Savannah Stuitje

Love is, Her.
It is the feeling in your chest
When she is dripping from the shower
Combing her hair with patient strokes
Blue eyes trained on the liver spotted mirror
As you lay sprawled on her bed
Watching the water drip down her skin and roll over her nipples
Down her stomach
Not quite flat, the hipbones curved maternal to hold
Like offered palms, the well of her
A birthmark beaded with water glossy and distended
Looks to you like a cluster of stars
And you know if you kissed her, she would taste sweet
Where the soap was smoothed over her belly and between her thighs
Removing a tangy musk that you have breathed in, head pressed to her warmth
Eyelashes fluttering
She is automatic in her routine
But you are transfixed by her breasts moving as she does
Her shoulders softly rounded and peppered with freckles
Shielding herself without conscious thought as she continues to brush her hair
And from the bedspread you take in the lines where her bathing suit protects her from the sun
Wet fabric you have tenderly peeled down,
To kiss cold skin slightly gritty with sand, salty and pale
As your fingers ran up the flesh of her calves
Feeling the prick of dark stubble

The intimacies of every day
Are in the blotched pink around her mouth
A cut healing raised on her tanned forearm
A towel slung unevenly
The frayed terrycloth damp

How she slips into your tee shirt, climbs onto the bed
Hands bracing at the old springs give to her weight
The droplets of water left in a trail on the white bleached sheet
Love is when she is stretched out beneath you
And her hands are in your hair
Still ropey from a day at the beach
And you know she wants you to clean up
That she’s wary of the grains on the soles of your feet that will cling to the old cracked linoleum and pressed wooden planks
But for now
She will let you lie against her
And the afternoon sun travel up your back
Warm and yellow
Her taste in your mouth

Downtown Men

by Peter Franklin

They knew more than I, these old ones sitting seemingly
idle on the benches.  Downtown icons…
human slow motion statues.
I didn’t know that when I was younger, for I had a feeling that I knew it all.
And that which I didn’t know, I didn’t know I didn’t know…therefore it was not important to know.

“I remember when” used to make me wince and look for a way out.
Oft repeated stories, tales, memories
were lost on my youthful ears.
I was in too much of a hurry to slow down and listen.  I was too concerned about what was ahead of my next step, and had no interest
in what was behind me.
I moved fast.  They moved slowly.  There was no similarity.
Or so I thought.

The old ones had names that seemed funny to me.
Red.  Skip.  Cleo.  Kenny.  Bud.
Names from another era.
Not mine, therefore, not important.

They had seen wars and hunger.
They had seen slavery and freedom.
They had seen peace and prosperity.
They had seen storms wash away their town, and like tenacious starfish clinging to an exposed reef, they waited until the waters had calmed,
and then patiently rebuilt.

They’re gone now.  The benches are quiet.
No more waves and hellos.
No more nods of acknowledgement.
No more tales of when “things were different.”

The seagulls pretend not to notice, but I know they do.  They would never come this close…out of a certain gull-like reverence.
But that reverence has now gone downtown, too.

Oh, father…Were you sitting on this bench with me now.
I should have asked more questions when I had the chance.

A PARENT SPEAKS OUT

by John Grey

Beware stray dogs, don't you know that.
Okay, so I harped long and often
about avoiding strangers, but I meant
to include the mangy cur, the dumb
luck mutt scrambling in and out of
traffic, and especially the brute with
teeth bared and mouth foaming.
No, what I really meant was
be wary of the cute, fluffy stray,
the one that rubs against your leg,
looks up with sorrowful eyes,
skewers not only your childhood
fascination with all things small and living
but even borrows from your future feelings,
waylays you with how you will someday be drawn
to anything so unabashedly loving.
In other words, if in doubt, just
keep clear of anything and anyone.
And, whatever you do, don't carry it home
or let it follow you,
For now, make believe we are all you'll ever need.
More to the point, we already live here.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Faulting

by Nikki Harlin

The space between us
is short
winded.
A sticky breath
slow in the humidity
just before August
rain. I can't wait
for the slip any
longer than the stench
between Colton and Berdo.
I swore to exile you
from that freeway
after seeing you at the swap
meet. But there were strollers
and crosses everywhere
naked Barbies in piles of Vs
their eyes and teeth black out
with crayon
so I took it back
and planted it between the cracks
in an arid prayers plain
watched it shrivel in my palm.

Crazy O’Shea On Storms

by Jerry McGinley

The low moan of nearing thunder
Swells and blusters, groans closer,
Stern clouds loom and roil in the west,
Angry Thor growls dour warnings,
The moon is swallowed, winds snarl,
Storm sirens blare, screen doors slam.

Lightning lashes the black sky,
Windows rattle, raw winds slash,
Frail branches snap and crash to wet earth,
Hail and rain slap-patter against
The metal shed, slippery black streets
Reflect snake-like white streaks skipping
Helter-skelter across the sky.

And from my own dark storms I cower,
Head pulses with each tremulous roar,
Mind flashes between half-dreams
And the real world, body quivers,
Pants in shallow gasps as though
Some weight retarded the movement
Of my chest.  I search the sky
For hope of let-up, but ill-omened
Clouds show no sign of surrender.

Bin Lady

by Marc Carver

The bin lady walks toward me\
as i sit in the mall.
She comes out me with her brush and bin.
"I saw you coming for me." I say
She starts to brush next to my feet.
"You don't think I am rubbish do you!"
"No, you are too big." She says and off she goes

Lines

by Nancy May

fallen leaves
icy branches
twilight years

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Bradley Beach

by Amy Soricelli

Somewhere she would find me a bargain basement bathing suit in yellow loud screaming shiny –
a cap to match/my brother simple blue trunks;
we’d  pack our Bronx bullshit into one suitcase then a bus.
She didn't have a lot of boyfriends but I knew she wanted them like cigarette smoking movie stars in bars with their pointy bras/pouty lips –
the olives twirling around their fingers like dice.
My mother drank like them with her ankles crossed just like that –Smoked too.
Salem cigarette smoke like a genie dancing around my head in utero.
Didn't matter then, no one knew.
She was smarter than they were so they never took her home.
Not pretty enough to climb over the IQ test she tossed at them in the high balcony of the Loew’s Paradise on Fordham Road.
They scrambled for the last drops of perfume hidden with her pin money.
She took us to Bradley Beach long after my father got kicked to the curb his suitcase dangling from his open mouth –
bees buzzing around his head like guilt.
We stayed in a room that was all bed – next door her friend with the drawn on beauty mark by her lip – her high hair waving in the wind stuck to her side;
settling her sad child into the flat carpet squares knee deep in broken dolls with lipstick across their faces.
I clung to her like the sand was glass/the sand dunes the last lonely place to climb over.
Hearts like hollow echoes lifeguards white noses  -lose me in the ocean I would think
Return me tangled in odd sea weed let me die on the shore a skinny mermaid all arms and legs.
Lost in the ocean forever like the rope that holds the moon down- lose me in the space between the broken glitters of sand.
She bought me a pail and shovel and sat me by her feet to dig away the ground up hate.
I looked up at her while she smoked /drank with her high haired friend on the hot sandy
glassy broken beach.
The sun and waves crushing me slowly with a million lonely fingers.

LEAVING THIS PLACE

by Byron Beynon

The door sounds
the same as it closes
behind us, and for a moment
our steps are simple and quiet,
as uprooted shadows
recede across the front.
We are leaving this place
for the last time.
It is autumn,
the radio is turned on
at this hour for the news.
Outside the bay
continues to draw the eye,
a sharing of tides
with the air carried aloft
touching the names of stars.

Big Walleye for Emma

by Donal Mahoney

Never a man to dawdle
Gramps got around,
he reminded his Emma,
until gout told his foot
to marry his ottoman.

So he paid for a cab
to visit Doc Morton,
a man he hated to see,
then stayed off his foot
for another two weeks.

Neighbors came over
and Sally next door
brought a big apple pie
and a case of the flu.
Gramps sampled both.

In a matter of days
he developed pneumonia,
went to the hospital,
faded away after
telling his widow-to-be

no reason at all to worry.
He just had a bit of the flu.
Come summer, he’d catch
a mess of big walleye
only his Emma could fry.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Piano Man

by Stephen Jarrell Williams

He plays the piano remembering
Stirring his fingertips into a rhythm
In the dimly lit corner he sits
Bent into it
Quiet bar

A gathering crowd
He’s unaware of their presence

He plays with closed eyes
Tired eyes

The music nursing memories
Everyone still
Entranced

Making the lonely whole
He smiles to himself
Lifting his head
Blind
To the crowd caught in his heaven.

THE SAME

.by Marc Carver

Some days
you know
that nothing you do
is going to amount to anything.

You may as well go back to bed
and stay there,
counting the hours until night comes.
And you can go to bed
and wait for the next day to begin.
Where it gets tricky is
when the next day starts
and you feel the same.

BEAVER UTAH--- PROUD HOME OF 3,041 WATER AWARD WINNING CITIZENS

by Larry Jones

The article stated,

"On Monday afternoon
the body of a teenage girl was found laying
on the bathroom floor
of her high school
next to a gun.

Cops say,
cause of death
gun shot---

manner of death
under investigation

no further comment.

School superintendent says
suicide is a very complicated act.

School faculty wonders
could they have missed a sign."

The article continued,

"Beaver  is known for its 2006 best tasting water award in a rural area."

An eerie silence
over this tiny hamlet
of 3,040 residents.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Bruises Like Flowers

by Robin Dawn Hudechek

Bruises bloom on her body
this one floating like an iris petal
curling above her eyelid
a warning blow given by her husband
the second time she salted the soup too much.
Her husband took one sip
and slammed his soup bowl to the floor.
Another bruise is a lily pad hovering below her thigh
where once the thigh was exposed to sun
and the eyes of men who saw her for the first time
in a bikini.  She was so modern and stylish
she did not even look up when her husband
bunching a towel in one hand,
tossed her a tee shirt.  Cover up now!
They’re looking at your chest
and she dared to peek below her sunglasses
at surfer boys with their laughing eyes
and frisbees looping in graceful arcs above her head.
Maybe one would land one day.  Maybe one would land now
while her husband was at the refreshment stand
buying yet another beer he would
hide in a paper bag and sip slowly
until his tension spilled over.
She would step off that towel
onto the sand and go with the surfer boys
shouting for her to join them.
She needed only a good wind to lift her
and a Frisbee spacious enough to ride in.
She would gather her skirts like living flowers,
look back at her husband shouting at her
from the open door frame of the beach café
and never look back again.

A Ticket to Somewhere

by Donal Mahoney

When I was eight
I jumped off a roof as if
I had a parachute
and broke a leg.
He was there when I landed,
told me to be careful,
said I was too young
and then disappeared.

In a high school game
I went up for a rebound,
came down on my head
and got a concussion.
When I landed
he was there again,
said I was still too young
and had better be careful.

In my late forties
I almost got hit by a truck
but jumped back in time
and landed on the curb.
This time he told me
I was no longer too young
and if I wasn’t careful
I might see him again.

Now decades later
I have been very careful
but I still watch for him
because the last time he said
every one of us has
a ticket to somewhere
with choices to make
and moments to decide.

Oh to be in Puerto Rico!

by John Yohe

Oh glorious morning!
Oh women in sexy underwear!
Oh sexy underwear!
Oh wildfires in California!
Oh Big Ten football Saturdays!
Oh French people with their cheese!

Oh dogs and garbage trucks!
Oh neighbor with psycho girlfriend!
Oh pot smoking!
Oh beer drinking!
Oh crystal meth!

Oh gunshots last night at two in the morning!
Oh hip-hop bass drum vibrating in my chest!
Oh no sleep!
Oh apartment with no furniture because I’ll just be moving in a few months anyway!
Oh loneliness!
Oh loneliness that is only loneliness!
You still suck but so what! Who cares?! Fuck you!

Oh rock on day!
Oh rock on joy!
Oh rock on God even though I don’t believe in you!
Oh how I long for a lost sonnet from John Donne to be discovered!

Oh sheet!
Oh son of beach!
Oh hijo de la chingada!
Oh la chingada!
Oh let me remember this forever so I can share it with you, Captain Morgan
so that we can walk on beaches of forever
forever
watching chicas in bikinis
and dolphins
talking about good times and singing the blues
and we could join them in talking about good times and singing the blues
they would invite us to their bonfire
and we could live together forever in Puerto Rico
or at least for the weekend!

Pointer Arithmetic

by David S. Pointer

             C Pointer is an address
D. Pointer is an unzip code

readability in the laser guided
                              illuminations
shush-ability in the cylindrical
                               coordinate
                                system

exclusionary zymology yacht
                                       floats
          like a forever ocean home
          without the parenthesis of
           unjust obstacles, hijacked
                                       poetry

over android nurse’s
parametic curves on
asylum admissions
                                  computer
for indigent, who can’t keep
reapplying deep-pocket face-
paints to other folks madness

Saturday, February 14, 2015

THE SECRET ADMIRER

by Roy Dorman

Another relationship has ended.
Though he had seen it ending
long before she had,
he had done nothing to try to save it.

Now he was at the florist,
his florist,
choosing some flowers to have sent.

Would the card have the usual message?
Yes, of course,
the usual message:
From Your Secret Admirer.

He’s at home when the flowers arrive.
They are beautiful.
And the card;
the card is so…,
so full of possibilities for the future.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Shop Owl Ease

by John Pursch

Distal ascent imagination crackers
startle cupcake filigree with spoon
retardant miscellany chokers,
facile and incendiary to a fallen
centennial levitator’s celebrated
winch correction shellfish trait,
cloned seriously from tapir assays
of syrupy loquacity.

Extraneous cloudtop kneelers
punctuate evenly bulbous atrocities
with sink-skin shoveled hammer urges,
sifting seedless needles in tornado chats
for peacenik artichoke investment dolphins,
soldered at sunset to carpool odium lapels.

Barfly hints rewind reclusive
forelocks of slum legato pleasure scans,
pinching shop owl ease in teeming carrot
salt initiation, caulked before a bubbling
khaki graduate collides with fetal umpire
trigonometry excuse reiteration mix.

halcyon days

by Ross Vassilev

world full of
powerless, penniless
revolutionaries
screaming their ideas
onto paper
while serial killers
and outlaw bikers
roam California highways

disillusioned Trotskyites
feeding their hunger
on the stale bread
of frustration
while junkies sit in alleys
brains shredded
by LSD

a tear for the lost
is a wet brown leaf
in Autumn

those who know
sit in hot empty rooms
in the cancerous summer
tubes in their arms
pumping them full of
insanity
and stark raving loneliness

they sweat the blood
of the Gods
so remember them
as the sky fills with sulfur.

Friday Night

by Robert Nisbet

Evening kick-off, pub afterwards,
Kev gave them hell.
Home by twelve, fair walk, he’s not too pissed.
(He’s thirty-two now, remember).

First feeds the dog, a short-arsed Sealyham.
(Never slavered a jaw in earnest, this dog.
No pit-bull legend, he).
Kevin heats up some Ovaltine,
remembers to set the alarm.
(His uncle’s by nine tomorrow, fixing that motor).

Time now for Butch’s walk.
Round the block, dog rooting, fervent
only about smells and snorts and urines.
Kevin’s aware of a three-quarter moon,
the light spreading an opulence,
over the jumbled roofs and chimneypots,
grained walls, gardens, the Indian grocer’s
(shuttered now), the chapel, Midway Motors,
still the drenching moonlight,
the place, the peace.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Park in Winter

by Taylor Bond

We drive through Hubbard Park
  and I wonder if he wishes they were the lights of the city
stars constructed of concrete dreams I can’t coax from
  his eyes, are they only reflection of windows somewhere else?
He smiles
  and I cannot help but peer beyond
  to the places he has smiled that I have never seen
  the people who have witnessed his lips curl in masked joy
  (it is rare and delicate, tender tufts of winter, don’t let it melt)
 I’m a suburban shell filled with fear
and he is brimming with the blare of taxis and 2am subways
Our car, his car, a red relic in a black and white silence
can’t hold us both, we burst at the seams with two separate places
and it is filled with the promise of the future and the touch of our smiles
  In his mouth I taste happiness
  I only wonder what he tastes in mine.

Bank Shot

by Denny E. Marshall

Earth is like an eight ball
On a giant black pool table
After a few hits and misses
Eventually some shark
Will make the final shot
In the corner pocket
Banking it off perfectly
The orange sphere number

Driving Blind

by J. K. Durick

Before the ultimate - the mountain road
at midnight, downtown traffic, midday -
you should practice, take 'er out
on a familiar stretch, like here to the store
or even more, from home to cousin Farley's,
just beyond the one lane bridge in Bethel,
the way you've been over and over
like a cliche you say so often
the car could do it without you.

It's worth the risk you spend -
you close your eyes, give way to sounds
and a falling; you fall into cozy darkness
that's yours, a pleasure you relax into
with time - your grip loosens;
your body begins to dream, lighten, lift....

Here's a privacy, almost complete -
Beethoven's ninth with full chorus plays;
the tires hiss, bump slightly, hum;
breezes stir, you move further along,
teeter on the edge of dreams; you float, then fly;
beyond the bounds of sight
you become a part of the night -
as startled, as aware.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Seasons of the Ape

by John Pursch

Nylon captives creak
in thermogenic motor
hovel blister hiss
compaction rituals,
plugging matrimonial
defection sprints with
newly sweating
pontoon spins,
cycling wheezes
into mourning.

Minnows foment
religious hyperbole
by the sextant’s
lusty gleaming
intersection teeth,
hemming integument
with pinochle breath’s
lonesome punch line.

Eruptive sidearms
capsize in moaning
glaucous schisms,
clubbing for pale red
seasons of the ape.

The Intersection

by Kevin Ashburn

We played dares with a basket of snakes.
Deep fried birds nest among
the express trains while the driver
whistles in a minor key
pissing into a field.

The lady selling cakes is younger
than her history.
“You speak Cambodian”
“Tik tik” as we hand her strange
notes in her tongue.

Francis of the Poor
For Pope Francis, who visited the Philippines, January 15-19, 2015

by Jonel Abellanosa

As he walks among them
Clouds gather and say to each other
Let us bless him.  Let us bless them. 
                    Let us bless their nation.
And so it rains lightly all day
And drizzle never feels as good
As water heals

They who have less of the world
Have this one moment
This is their place of inheritance
In their hearts
To shelter in
When storms return
Their futures remain uncertain
But one man who obeys
The two commandments to love
And rises
To live by example,
Whose life unfolds like
Pages of Holy Scripture,
Shows them they matter,
That they are important to him
So they love him in return
Millions of them
In his humility he is honored
To be embraced
As one of their own

Charles

by JD DeHart

lumbering figure,
a once-friend who could never
quite hold a job.
not for long.
now gone, no longer walking
down the street, looking
for a ride.  no longer
making his jokes, pretending
to be young even though
his temples were graying.
we had not talked in years,
the last communication
vague thoughts of a gathering,
a few reminisces.
a reminder of the inevitable
loss of the list of remembered
names and places.