Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Sunday, September 21, 2014

THEY SAY

by Jennifer A. McGowan

the course of true love never did run
marathons.  It’s more a heptathlon:  long, pointed
remarks flung out of bounds; hurdles; measuring up;
half-naked women and a load of balls.  Only the most elite
athlete will finish with an ego, or companion.  Even
you won’t remember the names of the pack.

Seascape
Newgale, Wales, Winter 2014

by Robert Nisbet

The village: a pub, a forecourt, a camping site,
a few houses on the hill, two shops, a café
where we, so many of us, have watched
the steam rise from coffee cups, the butter
trickling through toasted teacakes,
looked out to see spring warm the cliff tops,
mused on the natural world.

And then (as now) the moving water and a foul wind
will rise, shattering, hurtling through the village.

Resurgence then, repair, the fresh paint licked
on window frames and gables.

And again and again,
when the village is spruced and sweet again,
the wind and the water will rise again and shatter.

And again and again,
when the water has crashed,
the village will return to lick with paint,
renew,  
toast teacakes.

A Banquet in Autumn

by Donal Mahoney

In the wind
a butterfly clings

to a marigold while
a bee hovers.

A hummingbird stops
then darts away.

The garden is still
a banquet in autumn.

try to hide the shock

by J.J. Campbell

muddy waters
on the jukebox

a pretty woman
alone at a table
in the corner

i walked over
and asked if
she knew she
was going home
with me later
in the evening

she laughed
and told me
to start buying
the drinks if
that was going
to happen

two of something
strong on the rocks
i tell the bartender

like i know what
the fuck i'm doing

i try to hide the
shock that this
might actually
happen

of course, my
credit limit isn't
that high

so here's hoping
she's a lightweight

PAGEANT

by Richard Schnap

The magnolia trees have blossomed
In explosions of purple and pink

As the theatre of spring lifts its curtain
For the drama of summer to unfold

Next come the magical fireflies
Their lanterns like earthbound stars

A company of tiny ballerinas
Illuminating the stage of the night

Then finally the hidden cicadas
Singing their sad lament

A bittersweet finale
To another season passing by

And when they all have vanished
As the cold wind withers the leaves

I watch the birds flying southward
Carrying their songs away

Thursday, September 18, 2014

BLUE BAYOU

by Don Campbell

6
am

asleep
on
her
mattress

red
hunter's
sleeping
bag
pulled

over
our
naked
flesh

white
plastic
G.E.
clock
radio
clicks

KIIS
comes
on

Linda
Ronstadt
sings

my
eyes
slowly
open

it's
1978

I'm
18

Lydia
will
be
pregnant
soon

Drinkers' Heaven

by Tony Peyser

Bartenders know what you like. Your
Cocktails are always free
And happy hour is twenty-three hours
Longer than it used to be.

SPUME LAW

by Dave Migman

Whole street’s screaming drunk
for the duration of the weekend
taking it in turns to vomit outside the pub
kids smash empties on the road.

There is an air of abandon here
across the tracks the trash spills
like lava down the embankment.
The train rumbles by
and hardly anyone glances out the carriage
they can’t beat it past their own reflections

“God you look so fucking good.”
Hot.

All the boarded up houses are burning.
They no longer send out demolition crews,
the youth’ll do it for free. To keep warm
kicked out the house along with the dogs
they don’t give a fuck what you do, or
where you go.

Across the rooftops, echoing along the avenues
rival football songs ingrained into baptised flesh.
Bottles will break tonight. Blades with flash tonight.

They’ll be pavement blooms
all across this town tomorrow. God, you look so good.

Last night a storm moved around the city
we turned out the lights
watched it strike out against us
with brilliant jolts, power hungry
flashing and rumbling
like a living thing that you feel in your veins

KISS

by Anuradha Bhattacharyya

A seed
Sown in my heart,
The birth of desire
In sawana.

A lamp
I’ve lit in prayer
Provoking fury in god
Kama.

Wine,
A draught of which
Ignited the fire
Of trishna.

A dance
Of the thundering heavens
Clapping to the tune
Of rasa.


Author's note:  Sawana is the rainy season in India, good for romance, Kama is the god of love, trishna means thirst with sexual connotations, also Rasa, the famous dance of Krishna with his female devotees.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

THE ROUNDABOUT

by Jennifer A. McGowan

when you get angry
one of two things will happen

you will break
or you won’t

if you don’t
you gain momentum
until people point and say
You, You

at which point
you will break
or you won’t

and if you don’t
you’ll go further
sweeping all before you

until you reach
the roundabout
at the end of the universe

gridlocked in lorry traffic

a thing which makes you
so mindbogglingly angry
you will either break
or you won’t

and if you don’t
fuck knows.

Hardhat and Harness

by Jon Bennett

All the fire trucks are out there,
the hazmat truck, two long ladders,
an ambulance and cops
the hotel over the bar caught fire again
but Frank still tends bar like a sleepy cat
“I’ll go when the water starts
coming through the ceiling,” says Frank
wringing out the bar rag.
We all go out to watch
the men in hardhat and harness
on the fire escape
break through a window
while some doofus
with a brick in his hand
gets arrested for cursing the firemen.
We are working men, for the most part
but we watch the heroes
like we've never worked
a day in our lives,
bottles to our mouths.

Astronomy

by James Babbs

tonight
out here
looking at the stars
scattered across the sky
but I don’t know their names
maybe
if I had to I could find
the big and the little dipper
but I never took the time
to study the constellations
not the way other people have
no
for the most part
I just stayed inside
drinking
as much of the wine
and beer as I could
while the lovers held hands
and strolled together
into the darkness
I heard they made wishes
and sealed them with a kiss
maybe
they were hoping for something more
but I always felt better
after I’d been drinking
when I was drunk I felt like
I could float above the ground
I wonder where they are
now

Free Speech Canto XXXVII

by Michael Ceraolo

And the robber barons founded colleges,
which were endowed by their Creators
to hire a variety of professors,
                                           and
then some of those professors were fired
in deference to the supposed wishes,
or the actual wishes,
                               of those founders,
or members of the founder's family
A few examples:

"If the railroads would expect their men
to be law-abiding,
they must set the example
Let their open violation
of the interstate commerce law
and the relations to corrupt
legislatures and assessors
testify as to their past in this regard"
was part of a speech on the Pullman strike
given by Edward W. Bemis,
                                          a professor
at Rockefeller's University of Chicago
                                                        And
this speech prompted William Rainey Harper,
the president of the university,
                                            to say:
"It is hardly safe for me to venture
into any of the Chicago clubs
I am pounced upon from all sides
I propose that during the remainder
of your connection with the University
you exercise very great care
in public utterance about
questions that are agitating
the minds of the people",
                                     and
despite the dubious claim
that this wasn't a threat,
Bemis was fired at the end of the school year


"I cannot with self-respect decline to speak
on topics to which I have given
years of investigation
It is my duty as an economist,
to impart,
               on occasion,
                                   to sober people,
and in a scientific spirit,
                                   my conclusions
on subjects with which I am expert"
was said by Edward A, Ross,
a professor at Stanford,
                                  and
though Leland Stanford was dead,
his wife remained a prime mover
in university affairs,
                            saying:
"There is a very deep and bitter feeling
of indignation throughout the community . . .
to partisanism and even to dangerous socialism"
"Professor Ross cannot be trusted,
and he should go",
                            and he did


All professors
                      "should make a contribution
to our students and the University
but also to the society at large"
said Scott Nearing,
                             an instructor
in sociology at the Wharton School of Finance
at the University of Pennsylvania,
                                                  the school
from which Nearing had earned his
undergraduate and graduate degrees,
                                                       and
he backed his words with actions

When his appointment was up for renewal
the Dean of the Wharton School,
the chair of his department,
                                        and
a large majority of the faculty
recommended re-appointment

                                              But
the trustees disagreed,
                                  saying
that Nearing "aroused class prejudice"
                                                         that he
"advocated the ruthless re-distribution of property"
that his views were
                              "wholly
at variance with those of the founder
[Mr. Wharton],
                       and
                              in defiance of
the conservative opinions of men of affairs"

                                                                And
those 'men of affairs' did not re-appoint him

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sweet Residue

by Martha Landman

Deep into the darkness,
Malayan gods sat saturated at
the seams of a conversation,
passion forbidden and hushed
into dangerous proportions,
their hearts titillated by
the platonic equivalent
of fire in a cocoa pod,
                                     when

rising enigmatically, like a symbol
of sweetness wrapped in gold, utter
pleasure quickening her heartbeat,
a goddess from Ghana exploded
inexplicably —
a paroxysm of bittersweet
obsession
descended
into green
                 & black

Later she huddled together with those in rehab
they bathed in the milk of camels and sheep
their chocophile badges soaked in lemon grass
their neural pathways rebooted and programmed:
                                                                   Cherrie Ripe
moments delirious with desire

They flaked divine prayers like a 12-step rosary
and bowed deeply to the master —  Forrero Rocher —
as they chanted:
                        Toblerone Tiramisu
                        Give us your bounty on Mars
                        Rolo in aero crunchie your
                        Galaxy, a twister of KitKats
                        Give us our Ghirardelli, our Lindt
                        On a baker’s tray

And all they received for lunch, filled with
lettuce and spinach, was a Klondike sandwich

The Mayan gods laughed with pleasure
and rolled like maltesers on the ground.

BAMBOO DISCIPLINE
(remembering my father)

by Don Campbell

a belt

a coat hanger

a rolled-up magazine

a shoe

a strip of hot wheels track

a plastic wand
with a magnet
on the end
to move figurines

a wood paddle
with a hole
drilled into the center
painted blue
(for Webelos)

and

a bare hand
with a size 12
ring

RIDE TO HEAVEN

by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal

Do you want to take a ride to Heaven?
I’ll blast you right up there with my six-shooter.
They’ll hold a memorial with much pomp
and circumstance for you, all your friends and
family will be there too, showing their love.

Do you want to take that ride at high noon?
Your spirit will leave the body and despite
the gruesome way you’ll look your pain will
be gone, as your blood spills out of you,
and the life goes out of your eyes.

Do you want to make a choice?  Do I have
to decide things for you?  I aim to please
myself more than you.  I could be bargained
with.  Give me your sob story and maybe
we’ll take that ride together.  I want to go too.

BILLY NO MATES

by Marc Carver

The guy who lives around the corner
who never talks to me
got on my bus.

As we got to the last stop
I could see he was fast asleep.

I thought about waking him up
and telling him it was the last stop
We could walk to the pub together
and share a beer, become friends.

Ten minutes later
I am sat in the pub with my beer
and he is probably back to where he started.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Sycamore, Early November
after a photograph by Amy Soricelli

by Marianne Szlyk

Half-erased, picked-at, leafless trunks rise
past the chain link fence
and over the tenants’ parking in back.
These trees are not
the mossed-over, well-hydrated
trees out west or down south.
These trees are not
the mellow summer trees
out on the island of festivals.

If someone were to sit beneath
these sycamore trees,
he’d be in some beater
used only to drive out of the city
and to the big-box stores
for the items
he cannot bear to buy
one by one at the bodega.

He’d be hiding
from his apartment,
his roommate, his friends,
all that he stores without closets,
from his bad job, from his worse one.
He’d be plotting
to find someplace better,
someplace other
than the space behind
this building the color
of rancid butter, welfare cheese,
some soundtrack other
than a cassette tape’s tinny
horns and strings,
the vocalist’s Midwestern rebuke.

Or maybe, just maybe
he’d be grateful,
having found this place,
his place for now,
behind the chalk-yellow building
and beneath the trees
at the center of everything,
not that far from
where Ella once sang
Dream a Little Dream
of Me.

Moonstruck

by Gwen Monohan

When the moon is full
from reflected light
left by our sun
as we slip into dark
toward another night,

I’m reminded
how things are often
not apparent
to the naked eye
or even an aided one.

How we may be duped
by sly magicians
with a deck of cards,
a sleight-of-hand, or
bunnies in their hats.

Or pigs-in-pokes
on romantic nights
when promises are made
by almost strangers.
When the moon is full.

THE NAUGHTY STREAK

by Anuradha Bhattacharyya

It was preserved
Like pickle,
Tight lidded, marinated
In a jar, in the sun
To gather the full force
Of its aroma
When opened.

Qiezi

by Jon Bennett

I lie there sleepless
with an incessant hard-on
wondering, hoping.
“You’re so cranky,”
she says in the morning
as I watch her
take a birth control pill
pull off the t-shirt
and cover what I want
most in the world.
I leave
walk through Chinatown
the bustle of produce shops
the piles of qiezi
the long purple eggplant
chopped off at the stem.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

NORMAL

by Jennifer A. McGowan

It was the kind of
fukkit-what-hit-me,
who’s-driving-unlicenced-elephants-
at-this-hour day.
The sort where open
eyes are an affront,
and you realise that yesterday
you only shaved one armpit,
or one leg, or in fact
somehow dyed your leg hair.
And hungry.  So finding the ingredients
for pancakes; then having
the brilliant idea of something
to make them flame coz
it cooks off and anyway
it’s fun; serving them up
to have them leap and
take off your eyebrows, completely
ruining that thread job,
ah fukkit, they taste good,
and I look good in dark glasses.
That kind of a day.  Normal
since you’ve been here.

MULTIPLE PERSONALITIES

by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal

Who will want us?
There is evil in our hearts.
Our heads don’t think right.
My prospects dwindle.
Your blue heart splinters.
It does not get easy.
Heaven and Hell attacks us.
We have no shelter.
Our arms hang on us limply.
At midnight we lurk at sea.
The sand covers our eyes.
The moon shines on.
A flash of lightning strikes us.
We cannot defend ourselves
from the angels and demons.

A POOR MAN'S UNDESIRE.

by Marc Carver

I hear a ice cream van's music
but it is six in the morning.
I don't think any kids will be up at this hour
then I realize it is a memory
or a trick,
something in my mind
like rusty nuts and bolts
rattling around an old tin can.
I don't even have any real desire for ice cream
not anymore.
Even when I was a kid, I could run up to the ice cream van
but rarely had any money.
Poor then
poor now
not much changes.

The Parish Carnival

by Donal Mahoney

That's Bernie's wife on the carousel
laughing and waving her arms.
Once again she won't get off
even though Bernie is yelling
next to the concession stand
jumping around in his wheel chair.
He's finished his cotton candy
and wants to go home.
He probably has to pee.
He never goes anywhere
except to the parish carnival.
He loves the cotton candy.
He says it's the same as when
he was a kid years ago
before he fell out of the tree.
He needs Stella more than ever now
to push his wheel chair and she does
except when she comes to the carnival
and gives old Bernie a big plume
of cotton candy and hops on the carousel
laughing and waving her arms
once a summer every year.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Intersection Of Despair Drive & Fate Blvd.

 by Tony Peyser
                                                     
True story: in 2007, this guy in Ohio
Crashed his car into a storefront.
Miraculously, no one was injured.

Even more miraculously,
The business was a rehab facility &
The driver had a needle in his arm.

It would appear unseen powers
Took control of the vehicle
And guided him technically

On a wrong path which
Happened to be completely
In the right direction.

Should any of us find ourselves
In such dire straits, one hopes a
Similar divine hand will intervene.

(In a pinch, the human hand of a
Front seat passenger may be substituted.
Your results may vary.)

Day Labor

by Deborah Bayer

In July’s heat I go blackberry picking
and come upon a bounty,
warm and swollen with juice.
My hands grow sticky and purple,
arms scratched, mouth asking
for just one more.
It is a leisurely hour or two.
Queen Anne’s Lace, stout yarrow,
and bold thistle tumble
across the scrubby field.
A Common-Yellowthroat calls.
My response is a round of
open-throated Hallelujahs.
Innocent clouds hover over the river.

As a child I peeled ripe Red Havens
for father’s breakfast.
He couldn't bear to touch a peach.
Two seasons of migrant work
and a lifelong repulsion.
He never said much about it.

I grow satisfied, my labor is my pleasure.
With two bulging quarts nestled
in a sturdy bag, I leave thorny
plants behind, begin the walk
to my destination, a lap of luxury.
In the bean field by the dirt road,
two figures crawl on hands and knees
between bean rows.
Their movement startles me,
ragged long-sleeve shirts and
dirty ball caps.
Their backs, rounded.
Their weeding, confident and swift.
At last they stand and stretch.
Middle-aged, maybe man and wife.

A strong urge flushes my face,
shyness seizes me or maybe it’s shame.
I do not approach the weary pair,
bow, and offer them bright berries
from a briar patch near muddy water.

Black Watch

by Gwen Monohan

Buzzards roosted high
in our aging oaks last winter,
dappling the tall, bare,
branches near the road
which overlooks farm land
and beyond, a lake.

Where air currents
rising over water
kept them kite-sailing
with ease in daytime sun.
watching for dead remains
on land or partly floating.

Late afternoons they curled
back home alone.
Dark tatters, drifting
down to higher limbs.
Perching, like huge blackjacks,
plaid-draped against blue sky.

Love Letters & Kisses

by Paul Tristram

Written Thoughtfully
upon Prison Headed paper.
When Tempers & Wild Sides
are now Dormant & Sleeping.
Alcohol has been Removed
from the Equation & System
for some months.
The Hecticness & Chaotic Struggle
of the busy Outside World
has slowed down
and you are settled
into the Daily Routine
of ticking away
Days from your Sentence.
Can, often times
be more Honest
& Trustworthy.
Than a Nervous
Fight or Flee hand
grasping Heavenward 
a worn black Bible
and Swearing so, Adamantly
from a Crown Court Dock
with a Severely 
Wigged & Justice-Robed 
Audience in full Attendance.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

eye contact

by larry jones

the cop pulled me over
for speeding,
65 in a 45.

he whipped out his little flashlight
said,

"i'm going to look
into your eyes."

he was thinking about
writing a ticket

however,

he gazed a tad too deep.

"i'm letting you off
with a warning," he said.

works
every
time.

Twin Girls, 1948

by Donal Mahoney

Beth was always different
marching as she did
to an armless drummer.

Her sister Kate marched
to another drummer,
one with arms on certain days

but never with a drum
that caught the sticks Kate
kept in the air flailing.

When the girls were young
their mom and dad took them out
for walks on Sunday

afternoons in summer.
The girls waved to butterflies
but never to anyone else.

It was hard for other kids
peering from porches
to understand the problem.

When the twins were small
they didn't call it autism.
It had no name on my block.

Now the illness has a name
and different medications
that sometimes temper

but never cure.
The girls are women now
old and living in a big home

with others in a small band
some still playing instruments
no one else can see.

All The Answers

by Jonathan Ojanpera

A man can ask so many questions
Prying, cutting, gutting  every one
His queries grow into vast webs
Finds not if truth or rest exists

He will brush the dust from old stones
Mine gold, elements, with fingernails
Frames his findings to sate the musings
Stripping his soul to the lining for more

What he fails to remember in this life
The questions without answers quite
The gods, the seer, the mystic won’t tell
Every answer comes with his last breath

In Here
for Spencer

by James Babbs

he comes in here
almost as much as I do
he doesn’t drink as many beers
but he sits down and has a few
talks a lot about the Packers
you know
the Green Bay Packers
Lambeau Field
the National Football League
he knows I’m a Bears’ fan
and that’s why he does it
but it’s all in good fun
and he always talks about Bart Starr
he can’t go just one time
without mentioning his name
and I’m not really sure why
I know the Packers have won
more championships than the Bears
but I say to him
look
I don’t want to hear about
Bart Starr anymore
I tell him
you can talk about Brett Favre
you can talk about Aaron Rodgers
anything at all
just don’t mention
Bart Starr anymore
hell
I don’t know why
it bugs me so much
then he laughs and asks me
what I think of
Cutler’s new contract
I tell him well
it’s probably worth it
if he can get us to the big game
then I buy him a beer
and say look
at least we both hate the Vikings
he slaps me on the back
and says oh yeah
you got that right

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Kafka Variation

by Tony Peyser

I didn’t wake up as a bug but as myself
With 12-foot long arms.

 I’m way past,
“How? Why me?”

Yeah, I get stared at and hear
Some stupid comments

But I focus
On the upside.

If I lose the TV remote,
I’m able --- without getting up ---

To easily change
The channels by hand.

I can wipe the car windshield and pump my own gas
While still hunkered down behind the wheel.

If my wife and I arrive late at the movies
And can’t sit together, I can still

Put an arm around Kathy’s shoulder
Even if she’s a few rows away.

I don’t have to struggle to make eye contact
With my local barkeep for a refill:

Even from the farthest end of the bar,
I can politely tap him on the shoulder.

My office window right now is wide open.
I hum to myself as I trim the dead roses

In my garden, clean away some pesky cobwebs
And pick a piece of lint off of your shirt.

Slave Girl

by Victor Ehikioya

I have left the gong,
The drum...
And those sticks that strike
The dead log,
To my mates, who yet, tarry
At the square with amulets
Flung around their necks.
My soles ache from trekking,
And my waist, too weak to
Jerk,
To the erroneous sounds of
Tumid timber.
Mama sees not these things
For I too foretell the seer's
Prank.
The letters on the gate,
Scare my thought.
It seeks refuge from
Swollen speeches
Bamboos and knives--
Belligerent folks.
I am the lad with a
Tattooed tooth,
Woven on the left breast.
The child with a soneri
Made to nimble on bare feet
As the tambour swells with
Rage;
To somersault and swirl,
Like the Eagle, with
Unintended misfortunes.
But now, I see their faces,
Gaunt!
Blurred with hate,
A smug with no smile.
They sit and scorn
Mimicking my rhythm,
And the runes from my
Charcoal-gray Mother.
The tin gods bear my step
Witness,
And my snivelling, the fools
That clamp my feet to Metals.
I am the gray child,
The voice beneath the sea
The monster in the man.
These things they fear,
For now the mountain,
Has fallen in the lake.