Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

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.

FLOWER POWER

by Marc Carver

The man with the flowers in his guitar
and the can of holsten pils
said
he would play me a song
he never did
but i am sure
he wrung every last drop
out of that can of beer.

Psychological Trials

by KJ Hannah Greenberg

None of the late day spies were possessed with more than loyalty to handlers,
Until such thoughts made the rounds of bars, parked cars, drug dens, coffee shops.

One mighty example of espionage missed, altogether, the perspective of mothers,
Who regard teenagers as lingering liabilities, chow hounds, sources of domestic entropy.

Coupling clandestinely in a government apartment meant going AWOL,
Rejecting assignments, spoofing mentors, turning backs, paying hazard prices.

If only academic fervor might drive pawns like him toward collection points,
She would have had merely to ask for course corrections, without safeties.

Nonetheless, “helping restore political balance” brought along bikinied dividends,
Economic stimulus packages, disproportional amounts of bribes, buried treasure, laughs.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Old Maps, Wise Things

Robert Nisbet

In the nursing home, he’s jollied along by saucy Katies
but he’s dreaming half his time, his smile turning
half-aside,  half-inward,
to maps and days and tropics of his own.

The Council School, before the war,
meant strictures and the stick. Yet he, sometimes,
at eight years old, would wander off. We never quite
knew where, but somebody said they’d seen him
at the station, watching the upline trains go out.
In the end even the harridans let him be.
No caning any more, just, The wanderer’s returned.

Wartime, we were teenage and the bombs were falling
not too far away, that red glow at Pembroke Dock
at night. So he’d be in, but in that family, nine of them,
his sister said he’d sit aside, in all the noise and radio,
and write in a big notebook, drafts and charts and sketches,
a book he called Old Maps and Wise Things.

He got to Cardiff University, got a fair degree, I think.
But the girl Jane from Johnston, in his history class,
said he’d sometimes dream through a lecture, sketching
tropical birds and plants, and maps of reefs and islands.

He was in business nearly forty years, a stationer, a bookbinder.
He was a good craftsman (those books were beautifully bound)
but now and again he’d go. For the day.  Just disappear.
He had a hand-written sign, same one for years,
Re-opening tomorrow.

Archipelagos. Distant worlds.

All Alone

by Subhankar Das

The man who sits all alone in a coffee shop
who says he is sitting all quiet?
He babbles away
with himself
with you
with me
ceaselessly.
He is the one who never stops to listen.

I try real hard
to sit in silence
but fail every time
start babbling without even knowing
without any reason.

I have to practice
to keep quiet and stop being a blabber.
I will try to draw a void
a circle
without a compass.
Though
it does not mean much.

A Widower Dies

by Bobbie Troy

hopelessness and resignation
hung in the air
the smell of rotting flesh
hit me
before I opened the door
on the final tableau:
a corpse of loneliness
naked on the bed
as withered as
an Auschwitz prisoner
as spent as a deflated balloon

a neglected widower
in a silent, empty room

Stillness

 by J. K. Durick 

There’s a silence in human sound, despite
Its bravado – there, just beyond its bite, its
Bluster. A silence in highway sounds, all night;
The early throat-clear of trucks and trains; even
The light lapse of lawn the newsboy makes, his step;
The paper properly folded, finally, quiet in the door.

There’s a silence in human sound, a silence
Running down to a stillness I stretch, stammer
To avoid, talk aloud to myself, if I must, run radios
Televisions, anything, hum some, drum some,
But it’s there – call my friend, his dead silence
Frightens me, I can hear it in his voice.

DEAF MUTE

by Marc Carver

I wait to see
if the music will come
come soft
and slow.

People laugh with each other
they really enjoy being together.

I sit here with my beer
not saying anything.
If they didn't see me go up and order another beer
they could think I was a deaf mute.

After a while
the thought becomes more and more appealing
all you would have to do
is point
and look at people
and laugh.
What is wrong with that.

THE LAST DAYS IN THE LAST RESORT

by Bradford Middleton

Doors slam, mice run
It’s always fun and games
Here at the Last Resort
Where the building shakes
As people let doors slam.
The mice get jittery
As I do too with not even
The ubiquitous weed
Managing to ease my nerves.

It feels like I’m the one
The only one who can admit
What is happening and the
Horrible feeling that our
House is collapsing.
It needs major work
But it’s in an area where
That kind of work would
Cost a small fortune.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Story of a Small Southern Valley Town

by Joshua Martin

Here one doesn’t speak of irregularities in the valley
and so the river’s emerging underbelly isn’t addressed.
Its bedrock of bones stays whitewashed and hungry.

Behind the pulpit, there is a man speaking of
a coming and a going, how the unsaved will
soon be dropped liked dead persimmon

from the branches of a holy tree rooted
in homogenous soil, or spit out like
pokeweed, uncooked and pungent.

Enclosed between his upright mountains
is a belief in the throb of the tractor
linking his thighs, the groan of the engine

a crescendo in the serpent hiss music
of this fallen Eden. From the most righteous of their people
a call to prayer to bless this familiar
setting, with the dinner on the table

partially felled by a son’s rifle in a
rite of masculinity, mixing firepower
with absolution. Buried beneath

the floorboards of each home is a catacomb
of different tongues, a hundred years of
learning yoked to the wall, screaming for release

downwards into a hidden crawlspace where
someone’s forgotten son, a knees-to-chest
skeleton, a book still clutched in his

left hand, lays unresolved. Beneath him even deeper,
survived by a pocket of air, someone’s
hidden daughter can still see the minute

differences in the shades of the marigolds, can still
taste the immense sweetness in the fruit that has long since fallen,
who still holds a silent vigil for them all.

But then again, one doesn’t speak of irregularities in this valley.
Even the river knows that.

Czarnina Thieves

by Catfish McDaris

Tony called & said get your
tomahawk & gunny sack, I
asked, what’s up, czarnina

I knew it was duck blood
soup, Tony said goose was
better, he said I’ll be the
look out & you chop one
Of those big sonofabitch’s
heads off, try to save all the
blood, I asked him how in
the hell do I do that

Use your belt & make a
tourniquet, I thought we’re
going to jail for damn sure.

Flimflam Werewolf

by John Pursch

Limpy gimpy Jiffy-slobbering
lugubrious chupacabra impersonators
flex and flog their flimflam werewolf wherewithal
from warehouse warrens deep in hearty laughter’s
nomadic gnome aunt’s laudatory laundry lisp
of pure emphatic emphysema sailor exhalations,
spreading turtledove disease itch mothball
infatuation arches into ash receptacles
of shed potter blondes, sinfully cohabitating,
scrounging chalk for sashay wedding tables,
calling country castaways to ideal pressure
speakers in run-for-millstone milk-toast
hospice dome retraction fits.

Nervously Teutonic infantile psoriasis purveyors
scan the bedside aneurisms for cottage pleas and
clovered spreads of sandbox chunky psilocybin heresies,
propped again in handy cramps of fever issuance delay
to piled authentic couriers on lurching floes of tethered
Mylar tributaries, flung hairless and uncombed to
Grecian mortuary symptoms, orally replanted into
frozen youth display parolee accusation breasts,
despite an achromatic acrobatic undersea divan’s
imploding whistle.

Tinsel flowers desiccate in married furlongs
of Caspian capsize queens on second-hurdle
monkey swoons from Hegypped’em curses
of denial entendre hull the swayback machina
to angler machination bits of snorting amorphous
melodies of odious crank contemptibility,
comestible but surgically scoured for fully
bloated bile illusion specialists, complete with
spatial dicks and crockery tocks of loaded Glocks,
flocking into dockside frocks of plundered ageless
Aegean torpedo haunters, yearning to tease
tyrannically inclined supine duct tape chompers
with entailed regalia serotonin mist and
frail nervosa empathy hyphens.

UNDER A WANING

by Taylor Graham

No place to hide
from an old sliver-moon. It never
ceases from its questions.
Provocative as a lopsided smirk,
a basement creature
scuttling across the sky tonight,
bearing its hunger-tooth.
I imagine it passing over a hiker
benighted in a Sierra canyon, wishing
for home distant as a dream.
“Your own fault,” the moon says.
The human’s exasperated,
admits it’s true; maybe feels a rising
tide of panic, saline tug
of blood that proves he’s no more
special than saltwater.
The moon dangles above his short
horizon, tantalizing; gone
soon enough. How long a summer
night, with or without moon,
for a wanderer in search
of his own domicile.
A bat zigs overhead in its echo-
hunt for bugs, while
evening melts into conjecture
and myth.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

newsfront

by Ross Vassilev

watching a report on Al-Jazeera
about all the massacres
the NATO militaries have committed
in Afghanistan
wiping out whole families
whole villages
and I realized
there is no justice in this world
no God to protect the weak
and the innocent
there's only power
brutality
and bodies strewn across
so many floors.

BOLLOCKS

by Marc Carver

I leave the pub and walk past a house to my car
"It is all a load of bollocks, bollocks bollocks bollocks."
I hear someone say from behind the curtains.
"You are right about that."
I say
but get no reply

8 years old

by Ryan Hardgrove

we were trying
to get this old lighter to work
so we could light
another one of those
tank-shaped fire crackers

his dad was inside
smoking a cigarette on the couch
lounging in the
ceiling-fanned summer gloom

he heard our struggle
with the old lighter
and called us in

he grabbed his son
and said
     don’t you be puffin’ on this
then to me
     you neither, I’ll tell your old man

he took a long drag
on his Winston
and held it out to his son
he took it
and back out we went to the porch

he bent down with the cigarette
it looked awkward and big in his fingers
the fuse caught

a bright spark
flew out of the barrel and bounced off
a half-used paint can

his father lit a cigarette
somewhere inside

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

by Donal Mahoney

Nothing is anywhere anymore,
Dad shouts over the phone.
His reveille again at 4 a.m.
Will I come over and find it?

What's missing, Dad, I ask.
It's midnight and I'm in bed.
It'll take awhile to get there.

Your mother went to make
pineapple upside down cake
hours ago and still no cake.
She's nowhere to be found.
I called the neighbors.
They won't come over.
It's just me and the dog
and he's asleep.
Son, I need your help.

Mom died 10 years ago, Dad.
You and I went to the funeral.
We buried her at St. Anthony's.
Remember all the rain?
And then the rainbow shining?

Son, you're right again
Sorry I woke you but where's
the pineapple upside down cake?
I've been waiting for hours.
A little snack and I'll turn in.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

VISION

by Taylor Graham

Almost blind now,
he walks out under the night sky
that used to guide him through the dark
fields. The moon – closer
than it will ever be again in his lifetime;
bigger, brighter than he remembers;
a super-moon – is arcing into August,
peering down at him through oaks.
Above the house, a ghost-gold arrow.
Comet? It doesn’t move, but holds
its place as comets appear
to do, until like eyesight they’re gone.
And now the forward point extends
farther to the east, lengthening
its flight. What can this be?
He calls his wife, who gazes up to see
the TV antenna, vestigial skeleton,
almost prehistoric. Who has
a TV antenna on the roof anymore?
The old man has forgotten.
Moving above the oaks, finding gaps
to shine through, the moon
stretches that pale arrow farther
dimming as it grows, each instant,
older.

DAY GO BY

 by Dario Jimenez

Joe did not know
he was going to die that very same Sunday.
In the morning
bought a blue Chevy, sedan.
For lunch
had a double cheese sandwich with beer
as he always did for his birthday
and sat in the porch
to watch the day go by.

the promised revolution

by J.J. Campbell

another morning
spent waiting
for the promised
revolution

these are the days
i wish i had joined
a gang or had long
enough arms to
properly use a
shotgun

one day the blood
will flow in the
streets like money

generation after
generation finally
ready to stop
surrendering

in the meantime

i'll simply sit
back and keep
adding names
to the list

Highball Innuendo

by John Pursch

Cerebellar misadventures of the windshield shot
graze lead-lined pillbox hatteries of chilly ragged coat lines,
dangling in the breezy contender’s waistcoat pocket,
foiled by rubber ink extravagance and
mutually eschatological neckline plunges,
drenching mossy torpedo bellies in
floozy underwear rewetting blots
of cobweb dancer pinafores glazed patiently
with greenery and grainy droppings
from a salutatory duckling’s pejorative
incantation of runaway tarmac blues.

No one could stand, let alone sit still for,
handy moral outrigger netting of the kind
so biliously cobbled from worn mosquito handiwork,
so expertly spurted by schlong-lust mustard seeds
in scenery disputes with top-dog hopscotch periphery’s
nunnery exposition welts, promised dryly in vague
retreat cordons to plumage spurners nationwide
in cackling car door commissary kumquat squatter rites,
deep within Groin Zorro’s missing tantrum of jacked
ten-wheeler recompense and tartan misconception’s
ill-defined crowned taro punch line, flicking August
into rigged mulatto terminals of situated empties.

Time danced round apostrophes
in pearly canned sedation, flirting mirthlessly
with two-armed shifty-bottomed botulism vendors,
hoping for a Frisbee tourniquet detachment tray,
traipsing with intestines dangling over catwalk silence impresarios,
meowing under waterfall suffusion’s highball innuendo.

I’m Trying To Find A Stepladder To Get Out Of This!

by Paul Tristram

He kept repeating frantically
to the other confused patients
in the afternoon common room.
Until the sectioned bag-lady
screamed and attacked him
with the bottom of a fruit bowl.
The teenage boy and girl
on suicide watch in the corner
both felt guilty immediately.
The blind retired magistrate
scared to death of loud noises
began crying and pissed his pants.
The school dinner lady with OCD
started to fix and rearrange
the curtains whilst naming all
of the Disciples backwards.
Dancing Edna began discreetly
flashing her lemon panties
and Billy ‘False Teeth’ started
turning into a werewolf again.
Whilst mean old Tilly 2 Canes
stood by the side of the TV
watching John The Baptist
with anger management issues
who had been for 5 days solid
tenaciously playing ‘Donkey Kong’
finally make it to the last level.
And as he stuttered and bounced
excitedly towards the finishing line
she pulled the plug from the wall
and drown him with her screaming.

Country Dancing

by Brian Wake

There is nothing to be frightened of, she said,
but come along and lie here on the bed.
She spoke of country dancing and of how so very sad
it was for one to dance alone; to move in time with no-one’s steps
and music but their own.

There is nothing to be frightened of, she said,
but come, my dear, and lie down on the bed.

For country dancing was the only time I ever moved.
A solitary shuffler, shadow-partnered, I improved.
I danced the days away from wall to wall
and, although I often stumbled, she had taught me how to fall.

There is nothing to be frightened of, she said,
but come along and lie down on the bed.

   And when the dancing ended I could always hear
her voice that told me there was nothing there at all to fear.
There is absolutely nothing to be frightened of my dear.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Doll Maker

by Shuly Cawood

Limbs and heads of a hundred dolls
crammed your mother’s store, and you
showed me the shelves of wigged
heads and half-painted eyes
one night after hours. Legs, strewn
everywhere, lay waiting to dry.

You said you loved me
there in her shop, when the shades
drooped over windows, and the dolls
stood, sat, tilted over, so wide-eyed,
naked.

You leaned me up against the register,
and the keys pressed cold and small
in my back, like fingers touching,
searching for a heart.

Give and Take

by Miranda Stone

In sleep, the fight has left you.
Face slack, lips parted, you gasp
as if taken aback in your dream.
With sprawling limbs you encroach
upon my side of the bed. A wrist bone
prods my shoulder. A toe grazes my shin.

I press my palms against your ribs
and push. You roll across the dividing line,
the sheet gliding over your bare skin.
I marvel at the distance between us.
You have relinquished half a foot of space.
In sleep, you are the picture of compromise.
Awake, you refuse to concede a single inch.

Family Reunion

by Ben Rasnic

The men find shelter
under the tin roof pavilion,
slice of watermelon
on a discount paper plate.

Sweet smoke
from the pig barbeque
tickles wind chimes.
The women gather
around picnic tables,
arranging covered dishes,
exchanging recipes.

A distant cousin on my father’s side
holds a captive audience,
tells the familiar fish tale
of the 20-pound catfish
& the trolling boat
with fifteen cases of Budweiser
that sprung a leak.

The self-appointed emcee
delivers the benediction,
reads aloud the list of names
of those who are no longer
with us.
spitting out seeds
we take notice.

Countdown

by James Babbs

full moon bright
in the early morning sky
and I’m out in the driveway
pissing into the wind
when I’m finished
I zip up and
stagger back inside
nine empty bottles
on the kitchen table
all in a row
like tired soldiers
standing at attention
waiting to be dismissed
I walk over to the fridge
and pull out number ten
bouncing the cap
neatly into the garbage can
I lean back
take a long slow drink

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Spectrum

by Kindra McDonald    
                                                                                 
Black list, black board, black
tie, panthers, black sheep, magic black
and blue blood, blue streak, blue in

the face, blue laws, blue
collar, hair, blue plate special, agent
orange, blood orange winter

green, belt, green with envy,  green-eyed
monster tickled
pink movies, caught red

handed, seeing red, red cheeked,
alert, blood-red silver
screen, silver-tongue, silver

spoon, lining, silver fox,
quick brown nose, brown
sugar, derby, how now brown cow

yellow bellied coward, mellow
yellow man, white as a ghost, a sheet,
white supremacist, lie, white on rice

white noise, white
flag.

Battlefield

by Bette Hileman

None of us thought
we would die.
We knew we would.
But we didn’t feel it.
Our friends were alive.
They were in good health.
They were planning for
the golden years.

Now, across the border,
the golden years are a battlefield.
So many dead around us.
And the rest?
Most are seriously injured.
Those who walk,
tread with guilt.
We wonder why we move without pain.

THE CHAMPA TREE

by Anuradha Bhattacharyya

A crow sits
On the branch of a champa tree
That extends towards the south window
Where Dadu often stands sipping tea,
That freshens with its sweet fragrance
Dadu’s stale study
And it shits.

Dadu flustered
Vows to chop off the Champa tree
That has grown over years
To reach the first-floor window
And burst into moon blossoms
Colliding with the opaque wall
Inviting curious kids.

There stands the champa tree
Astute in loveliness
Charming passers by
Enhancing homeliness
Where but occasionally
The crow
Leaves its droppings.

i don't want to set this world on fire

by Leeroy Berlin

the world bursts at the seams
with hookers and blow:
it sings
like brunhilde in a whalebone corset
leading us to dash our minds on rocky shores
chasing the second hand banality
of our borrowed thoughts and rented lives.

we walk through streets turning grey with dawn
losing every shade that haunts our past
and gaining nothing in the deal.

desperate men fuck desperate women
because it's all they can get from each other
with the mountains leveled and the villains assassinated
there's nothing left for sigfried
except to feed himself to tigers twice a night and
three times on saturdays.

the ivory tower is built of innocents.
their bones form buttresses and their ignorance
of the mud and the blood and the beer
holds the whole thing up.

because those of us who have assaulted the memories of our fathers
and given them their due
paid them back three-fold for the names they left us with:
taker-not-maker-whoreson-fool-classwarrior-onepercenter-sue
have found the truth far from your platonic realm
your clean smelling ideals have no home and no meaning in this dungeon
of blood and piss and sweat and jizz.

i am drooling with your lyssaphobia.
the poison that fills my blood colors me insensate
and its fever cooks my soul
until it's ready to serve, medium-well.

i don't want to set this world on fire, besides
it's too late for the little matches i keep in my hat
to mean anything to anyone.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday Drive

by Miranda Stone

The leaden sky, pregnant with rain
makes our heads throb, as though we have
barometers inside our skulls.
The car’s lowered windows offer no relief
from air thick as a pot of lukewarm soup.

We are lost. We have driven past
the same clapboard house three times.
The German Shepherd in the yard
barrels toward us, tail wagging
as it chases our car down the dirt road.

Cruel words are barbs resting on our tongues.
The brutal heat forces them from our mouths.
You’re selfish.
You make me sick.
I can’t stand the sight of you.
I don’t love you anymore.

We make another circle. The German Shepherd
no longer gives chase, for we’re old friends now.
Above us, the sky splits open. Fat drops strike
the windshield like small stones.
We leave the windows down, preferring the storm
to the silence between us, weighted heavy
with words as yet unsaid.

brook once was moonrise

 by Michelle Villanueva

gears trip the slightest shine fans say
chopping this air bold with difference
when will too strained colors prevail
sleet spreads its tattered sheen around you

chipping visions from my windshield
reminds me you played when these last stars
sang through the masses relevant hymns
and the firmament whispered your eyes
ever love this rain streaked monument

piles of aluminum cans reveal
capillaries bright with polishing
the office staff busily tells them
management may never know my plans
fields white with care beckon just beyond

overtime leaves me thirsty with schemes
seeing your kitchen light thrills me
you bring me outside the water you know
excitedly we chase sky petals

afterward settled beer awaits us
together we could scale these girders
as though whirlwinds were not our home

The Dodo’s Gone To Sleep

by Amit Parmessur

Each step up the staircase and each heartbeat brings
me closer to you, like a black magnet.
The only good I can do in this city’s emptiness
is to anticipate your squawk;
remember, when the sun sets, we’ll borrow wings
and fly into the night full of fast clouds.
Strumming my sitar I’ll watch over
your yellow feet, green beak and curly feathers,
with you preening in Wonderland.

Reaching the rooftop I meet only a ghost
as your name means fool. With each memory
of you I shed a cold tear. I go down.
The nuts in my hand, the seeds in my pockets
I wish to see you in my room and
fool the whole world, cracking jokes with you,
rolling on the ecstatic floor.
But the butterfly clock on the wall
whispers to me that you’ve gone to sleep
early today with the dogs and monkeys.