Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Collar Men

by Manik Sharma

I crawled through the fashioned streets
Warding off eyes with grief pouring out
like the mailbag of the postman, i never think off
He waits under a borrowed umbrella
Waiting for the ink on his own letters to dry
He carries them around all the time
with names in them,
he wishes someone knows
The asphalt grass cleaves to his boots
Like a few torn pages from
his book of gods and their coming,
He lowers his head and disappears
among the dripping collars of grown men
that i live inside day and night
I stand behind glass doors,
It's not my sun that is setting

Magic carpet

by Claudia Rey

I’m sitting in my accountant’s waiting room, ready to discuss my yearly income tax. Nothing could be less inspiring. And while waiting, I look at the carpet on the floor and loose myself in its colours. The carpet has a lozenge in the centre, surrounded by arabesques: stylized red flowers, Paisley leafs, smaller oval patterns in gold and cream and blue. And there’s a landscape in the lozenge, trees and a tiny river, a couple of goats grazing, birds in the sky, white cotton clouds. All  is simple and sort of rough, as if drawn by a kid. And yet life looks so easy in this idyllic peace… I close my eyes.

When I re-open them I don’t recognize anything around me. Where are the Van Gogh print, the console, the shrieking phones, the wheezing printer? Where does this cold breeze come from, and the smell of burnt wood? Where on earth am I?

 “Afghanistan” says a voice. “Near Herat.”

I turn around. No one.

“Here on your left” says the voice.

And there, sure enough, there are the river and the trees, and one of the goats looking at me with wise, round eyes.  A peculiar kind of goat: dark, corkscrew-like horns and long whitish fur.

“You can talk!” I say stupidly.

“Of course I can. In a dream everything is possible.”

“But… but I understand you! And you’re an Afghan goat!”

”You’re dreaming” repeats the animal. “And besides I am not a simple goat” it adds proudly. “I’m a markhor. I eat snakes. I’m special.”

A talking, snake-eating goat. Disquieting. I must be dreaming for sure.

“Would you like a sip of water?” asks the goat. “It’s very clear and cold, it comes from that mountain over there.”
A goat with manners. Heavens. I look at my suit, at my high heels. I can’t see myself kneeling on the bank to drink directly from the river. “Hum, maybe… but how can I…?”

“Oh. Sorry, I don’t have anything for you to drink from. But I could ask my shepherd, he certainly has a water-bag

A  water-bag made with goatskin, I thing with a shiver. I shake my head. “Never mind. I have to go back anyway.” If I can go back, that is.

The goat laughs. “Don’t you like it here? Why should you go back? And to where?”

“Well, back home!” I say. I probably sound like a frightened baby.

“Are you really sure?” is the wry answer.

Is this crazy animal going to keep me here forever? I think in a fit of panic. I shake my head again, violently. And all of a sudden a gust of wind ruffles the trees and the goat’s fur and my hair… and I find myself in the waiting room again.

Safe. What a relief. And what an absurd daydream. I must be really tired – or really concerned about my income.

“Ms. F. can receive you now” says the secretary. Then she looks curiously at me. “Is it very windy outside?”

“Windy? No, not at all. Why are you asking?”

“Well, excuse me, but… you are not so well groomed as usual, and there are some strange leaves in your hair.”

The Today Show’s Just Been Swapped
For Kaptain Kangaroo
And Bunny Rabbit Seems
To Be Hung Over Too


by Richard Hartwell

Across an ashtrayed table scratchy eyes watch the boy
Open a cereal box from the bottom,
Set a purple Frankenstein against an upset wine glass,
And the milk somehow spill itself.

Quick elf-eyes listen for rebuke, but only hear the clash
Of liquid ivory and mountain red
Pooling in a walnut stain and single snores from a double bed.
No fetched sponge to wash the sin away.

Frankenstein tests my patience stirring the purple-white puddle,
But the yin and yang
Of wine and milk won’t mix, so his puppeteer leaves
For the world of rerun cartoons.

I once opened cereal boxes from the bottom
And played with plastic monsters and spilt milk,
But as Bunny Rabbit falls off the stage,
And cereal resettles in the box,
I find that I am hungry still,
But breakfast isn’t served here anymore.

                    *   *   *

It’s a freeway morning and caféd off-ramps beckon
   with coffee and toast.
However, there’s a place down the road a ways
That caters to cornflakes and wine.
I know the waitress there, and
Breakfast is served forever.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

UNIVERSE AND HER EXTENDED KISSES

by Taufiq bin Abdul Khalid

I am the purveyor of words,
And my speciality is love.
In the morning, it is best
To talk of nothing else but Love,
And at night it is better
To make love, under the cover
Of twilight, doing God's work
As only a man and a woman can.

I think I will continue
To write about love
Until the cows come home,
Boiled some water,
Had some tea
And turned in
For the day.

I think I will continue
To write about love
Until Elvis reappears
To wriggle his hips.

I think I will continue
To pluck words from
The Universe which
Doesn't stop talking
To me about love,
She often tells me about
The birds and the bees,
God and the Prophet,
And what delights we may
Find in our private embraces
And extended kisses.

Someone bumped into
The amphora of light
leftover from the Angels' party
last night. It spilled over
The clouds and slipped into
My heart when I was
Not looking...

I could write all day, I think.
But I am still delighted
Playing the role of
A human being.

Hehehe.

In My Sun

by Julia Biederman

I’ve lost my sight but I’m not blind
The shadows cannot steal my mind
I close my eyes when lights go out
To learn what dark is all about

Without a beam under my door
What would I keep them open for?
The room’s not mine for me to see
And the door is locked without a key

I looked around and tried to see
But could not tell my hands from knee
So I close my eyes when lights go out
To learn what the dark is all about

The light that’s taken from my eyes
Manifests in its own disguise
It’s sunshine of my own devise
And splinters all assembled lies

My vision has become a blur
Others’ words a languid slur
What was my day is turned to night
And what is done I cannot fight

The walls around are caving in
The air I breathe seems to grow thin
But with my eyes squeezed shut I might
Take this wrong and make it right

And in my sun I always find
That what I love will become mine
I close my eyes when lights go out
To learn what dark is all about

The sun is warm, the air is clear
And when I close my eyes I hear
The song of birds as they soar by
Into an uncorrupted sky

And in that hissing, dying ember
It was easy to remember
That darkness tried to steal my sight
But where there’s hope, there’s always light

I closed my eyes when the lights went out
I saw what dark was all about

Down to the Wire

by Jordyn Coats

Emotionally invested
with feet held to the fire,
crunch time for thoughts to unwind
quickly comes into focus as the clock ticks down to the wire.
This pen shuffling against previously scribbled ideas
makes my aching fingers grow weak and tired.
Deadlines await! I know! But, it's only minutes now
until my writer's block decides to retire.
Oh, but my years of training should have spotted
this tricky, yet well placed camoflauged trip wire -
set by some enemy of mine, I'm sure -
activating another dreadful round of live ammunition fire.

MEETING MR HAPPY

by Edgar Rider

At my job, I had become friends with, Tanya, the manager in training. She would change from here provocative outfits into her sleazy work attire. One day she asked me if I wanted to go to the strip club. This was the first time I ever met a woman who was asking me to go to a gentleman’s establishment. “I don’t know what the big deal is. Why women wont go to places like that. I would rather watch women dance anyway.” Tanya said twirling her hair.

“Okay.” I said of course ready to go.

We entered the strip club. Immediately, I noticed a huge poster, of a dancer,with the words now appearing in a movie with Charlie Sheen. This was when Charlie Sheen ,in the nineties, was making action pictures. This particular film was called "Terminal Velocity". I could see that this stripper thought she was high class and felt she was too good to be working this particular stage.

We sat at a table. Tanya began prodding me. “Give her a tip. Go get her stud.”

I fumbled through my wallet and picked out a bill. I walked over to the stage with her pointing for me to come over. I slightly slipped , while trying to put the dollar bill between her appendages.
She slapped me hard. “Dude what do you think your doing I’m not that kind of stripper.”

I walked back over to the table with Tanya laughing at me. I shrugged my shoulders. “ Should have given her a five.”

“C’mon lets ditch this place. “ Tanya said still laughing.

We ended up back at her apartment. “I need to get some thing out of the bedroom.” I immediately became excited and intrigued. Was this my shot. My hopes sank as she came back with a bong.

“Ed, Mr Happy. Mr. Happy, Ed.” She handed me the bong but I politely declined.
“BRB. Be right back.”

I stared into space thinking about my life. I don’t understand why I made such bad choices. Is this all there is. Is this the best I can do, working in a burger joint. suddenly, I heard a voice, a simple calm voice, calling me.

“May I ask you a question.”

I looked at the bong somewhat surprised. “Are you talking to me.”

“Yes just a moment of your time.”

“About what.”

“Your life,Ed. Your life.

“What about it?”

“What are you doing with it?”

“I’m in school.”

“One class a semester.”

“How do you know all of this?”

“I am a talking bong. I know all I see all.”

“So what should I do?”

“Take charge of your life, Ed. If you want to change your life. Get serious. Work hard. Stay in school. Graduate.” Mr. Happy smiled back at me encouraging. How strange that the talking bong was making more sense than myself.

Tanya came back into the room. She paused for a minute as she watched me talking to the inanimate object. I realized I had been talking to myself the whole time.

“You and Mr. Happy getting acquainted.” She looked back and smiled. “ You sure you don’t want any.”

I grabbed the bong. “What the hell.”

“Smoke me,” Mr Happy said with a grin. At this moment, Mr. Happy made a lot of sense.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

It's Almost Sunday Morning

by Donal Mahoney

In the summer of 1956,
any Saturday at midnight
when the moon was full
and the stars were bright,
you would see Grandma Groth
on her front-porch swing
waiting for her son, Clarence,
still a bachelor at 53,
to make it home
from the Blind Man's Pub
after another evening quaffing
steins of Heineken's.

Many times when I was young,
I'd be coming home at midnight
from another pub just steps behind
staggering Clarence.
I'd always let him walk ahead
and listen to him hum
"The Yellow Rose of Texas."

But the last Saturday night
that Clarence and I came down the street,
I didn't see Grandma on her swing.
She wasn't waiting to berate him.
So far so good, I thought,
until, not far from his house,
Clarence fell into Mrs. Murphy's hedge.

When I finally got him up,
I moved him like a fridge on a dolly
down the walk and into his house
only to see Grandma, a wraith
in a hazy nightgown, swoop
into the hallway, screaming
and thrashing Clarence with her broom,
pausing only to tell me,
"Go home to your mother now
so you won't be late for Mass.
It's almost Sunday morning!"


After that sad night in 1956,
I never saw Clarence again,
either marching to work in the morning,
his lunch pail gallantly swinging,
or staggering home at midnight
from the Blind Man's Pub.
But many a midnight after that,
I'd be coming home
from the other pub,
lunch pail in hand,
and I'd see Grandma
reigning on her swing,
broom in hand,
waiting.

Tonight, however, many decades later,
as I stroll home at midnight,
I realize I'm older now than Clarence was
the night he disappeared
and even though Grandma's dead,
I can still see her regal on that swing,
broom in hand, waiting,
and so I give her a big wave,
hoping to hear one more time,
"Go home to your mother now
so you won't be late for Mass.
It's almost Sunday morning!"

(In This Lifetime We’ve Drawn This) Close

by Darryl Price

Together, this far toward warm
Promise with our sweetest written
Words done as deeds and offered as
Light set amongst shadow to burn
Glad away as full glasses of
Moon water poured freely out of
Love's dearly scruffed up mouth again
And again, that wants always to

Be bearing new forms, to be more
Often than not life's opening
Shot. That we find ourselves there at
All is a welcomed miracle
As common as finding one slick
Wetted cheek among a million
Rained on and yet we feel it; the
Overflow of climbing on top

Of one another ,sentences
In every language all crying
Out,“Spin gold, spin gold, or leave us
Alone forever!” I set the
Beautiful evaporating
Match atop their dry old heads and
Splash the sparks into my own face
With relish for the new verses.

small legends

by John Grochalski

i like drinking beer after beer
on a sunday afternoon with you
in this bar where ancient men
tell the same stories over and over again

i like drinking beer after beer on a sunday afternoon

it’s a good way to kill a day
that so many others are killing with god and polite house calls

we like that jeff is in the bar today

when jeff is in the bar the old soul music plays

the philly sound he says
then he starts to dance

he tells us that last night he was at a club in park slope

park slope, man, he says
as if it’s another planet and not just another section of brooklyn

i tell jeff that i don’t like going to park slope
i tell him the beer costs too much up there

maybe park slope is another planet

jeff laughs and tells us that he was at a rave bar last night

i don’t know what a rave bar is

he said the place was packed with young girls
young girls in tight clothes

jeff tells us that he danced and danced
fifty-three years old and he was out on the dance floor all night

the dj thanked me, jeff says.
he thanked me for getting the party started

that’s good, i tell him.
i’ve never gotten a party started in park slope, or anywhere else.

it’s either a defect or
i’m just better than everyone else

jeff smiles and wanders over to the jukebox
a song by harold and blue notes has ended

our tribute to teddy pendergrass

jeff puts in more money to play more songs

could it be i’m falling in love comes on

jeff turns to me
who is it? he says

the spinners, i say

jeff comes over and slaps me five

that old philly sound, he says.

then he stares off into space

we each take a sip on our beer as light cascades
through the bar window

as sunday works its way toward sudden death.

he thanked me for getting the party started, jeff says again
to me and my wife

to no one

when we leave, jeff will tell his story
to anyone who will listen

it’s like any other story in this bar
like the one where ivan found b.j.’s wedding ring
in his pants pocket after they slapped five during a jets game

it’s another small legend that no one will know about
except for a few of us

the kind of legend that gets clouded over by the bigger ones
vast, ordinary legends that are so boring
you need only hear about them once
to know what they are all about.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Stay Alert for Surprises

by Sonnet Mondal

The merry-go-round of life has started
And you don’t even give it an eye!
For they must be dreaming now
Speciously to share the future
With the blatant ways of the terrain
We wait for surprises from you but
You must be able to take in surprises
They come as bunches, sometimes as flowers
Let both hands be full of verve, one with pen
Other with sword.

Inside the Mind of a Phony

by Julia Biederman

People see you as stronger than you actually are.
We don’t realize it, but they do. They believe you are brighter, cooler, and more confident than you could ever dream of being in reality.
That’s why instead of empathizing with your misfortune, they resent you and see your mistakes as evidence of malice.
And we bemoan our bad luck and wonder why the people who used to be our friends don’t see our struggle and pity our plight.
We assume they see our vulnerability the way that we can feel it.
We think our insecurities and sadness appear like a feature on our face.
But those things are hidden far below our surfaces, revealing themselves only to those who care to look or who are insightful enough to notice, and those people are far and few between.
Most assume that every action, every decision is made with a clear head and a full understanding of the potential consequences.
They think the way we appear is the way we choose to appear.
If we choose, we could find this denseness, this fundamental human blockade of understanding as frustrating and we could let ourselves go mad with the fury of not being understood and the pain of being persecuted when we should be cared for.
Or we can take this flaw and use it for ourselves.
We can utilize that assumed confidence, take our fabricated power and control it.
Be as in control as we are perceived.
Because when you hurt instead of inspire pity and when you are cold instead of helpless
You have won.

THE GOLD FINCHES

by Robert E. Petras

As though panned and sifted
from the sky
two gold finches appeared
at my bird feeder,
a male in bright courting plumage,
a female in drab coyness.
As they flitted and flirted
around the mesh basket
of black sunflower seeds,
I knew I had played matchmaker.

They skittered off beyond pine
boughs, flew into the velvet
blue of my memory, landing
years ago in a kiosk at a park
where two young lovers of ice cream
met.
I have often wondered:
was our meeting by random chance
or by grand design?
As I hand-fed more seed
into the feeder,
I knew the answer.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Auto Erotica

by A.g. Synclair

On those long, loping, summer afternoons
when the air has turned a thick, milky, mess

when breathing suddenly becomes a negative proposition
I stop my breathing so I can die for a few moments.

While dead
I promise not to write between our lines

I won't be dead long enough to write
just long enough to live

just long enough
for one last startling act of contrition

I can't be resurrected like some faux Jesus
but I can always rise to the occasion

then I'm reminded of France, circa 1955
and your little brown dress.

The peaceniks up north wave signs
"Make Love, Not War"

yet we all fight and die
in wars fought on mottled streets

where some fool once said
no heart beats alone.

Why do the leaves turn their backs on us
just before it rains

faster, faster
we don't know what it means to be slow

your sex wraps around me
like a swirling backbeat

rewind, play
repeat.

SHE IS THERE

by Anahí Arana

I think of her always
Of being child, of still being child
Of sheets, red, brown, green, patterned, the squares on the ceiling, counting across
The poster, the dead woman who no longer sings
She is alive and there, I see her there
Not at home anymore because we’re all gone.

I never saw the empty house but I see it now in my dreams
I feel the breeze, I open the window and close it in my dreams
I see the green, I see the white, the little flowers growing down the wall
Her nuzzling against it, smiling, I swear she is smiling
The door shuts fast and loud.

What a breezy day that makes so much nice noise
I don’t want to do anything but hear that noise, the silent one that dead one the one that knows it’s being listened to
God I think I remember being held
I think I remember her breath

I think I remember it but
We all went away
I cry now and I cried then and I don’t think I’ll ever not cry
It’s much too hard not to cry
But I remember the tree and the pears we never ate
And falling down and bleeding and getting up and showing her my--

I have two scars
I am the other one
She is my true love the only thing I understand by love
Everything else is love too
Love too

Holding her hand
I think of her too often
I remember her everyday
Today I didn’t speak with her
Because I have too little to say.

Progression

by Gary Beck

Illness suspected,
you visit the doctor.
The diagnosis is grim,
a fatal disease.

You go to the hospital,
try different drugs
that debilitate,
but don't do much good.
Your condition worsens
and can't be treated at home.

You go to a nursing home
where you won't last long enough
for them to profit,
so you're sent to a hospice,
but no one looks sincere,
although they talk good caring.

Your body and mind
begin to falter,
you soon lose touch
with the world around you.
You are in transit
from life to death,
no longer able
to question what comes next.

You no longer notice
how the hospice treats you,
only your loved ones care
about your condition.

You have outlived usefulness,
yet social values demand
you remain alive
as long as possible,
despite the burden
on caregivers,
whose concerns only end
when you are transported
to the final resting place.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

it was just a place

by John Grochalski

i have walked passed it
nearly every day
since the new york city board of health
slapped a sticker on the place
and shut the joint down
touched the sticky metal of the door handle
looked inside the dusty window
with the unplugged beer signs
hoping for a sign of life
but the old pint glasses are still on the bar
half-filled the way that they were
when the company man came by
and did his civic duty by kicking everyone out
bottles of alcohol are now out on the bar
sitting next to cardboard boxes
the booze glittering in the sunlight
like a stained glass window
waiting to be packed away
one of the television sets are down
the pictures of ireland are off the wall
and the jukebox is black
i think of nights of staggering desperation
of pointless joy and stunted conversation formed
in the afterglow of whiskey shots
and beer draft illuminations
i think of high drama on a sunday afternoon
johnnie walker infidelities
fueled by the futility of this american life
i think of nowhere else to go but here
and i am as sad as i’ve been in a long time
these people watching me stare at this dilapidated shack
the ugly ones walking along the street
with ice cream cones and yapping dogs
them and everyone else
the ones who are glad to see this place gone
to them it was just a glowing nuisance
a festering hole in the wall
that kept its lights on year round
to them it was just a place
but to me, it was a gershwin tune
paris in the spring
the sistine chapel
with little michelango scribbles
splattered on the ceiling.

the fall

by Manisha Anand

put my sins out
with your cigarette,
i said, i need a saviour
on my cross tonight.
burn me,
sear my eyelids,
make me blind,
make me see.

mesmerized,
i pick my way
through the debris,
in the red-hot glow
of flickering tongues
and smouldering stones.
smoke fills my lungs,
but your hair
is a handful of fire
and i find i can't
let go.

i am ablaze,
running on
yesterday's time.
beyond reason,
past caring,
and you,
you try to douse
this pyre
with gasoline.

standing under
poison trees,
flames still licking at
my throat,
i watch them
throw their bouquets,
as you try and nail
your feet
to the ground.

your shoes are
stained with ashes,
old whispers,
silent screams,
and as the hammer
thuds on, i know
that this
will leave a scar.

Abstract

by Juliet Wilson

I experiment with texture, shape,
play with shades of colour,
explore the theory of art.

Never meant for show
outside the college studio
these pictures hid in storage.

While work for exhibition
never sold, too mundane
so many critics said.

But then some dealer fell in love
with my series ‘Shades of Grey’
and I am now the ‘New Sensation’.

Petals

by Alison L. Peoples

cherry blossom tears
filled the ocean
blue
surging in pain
across the Ring of Fire
our shore
your shore
connected with tears
we see you
finally
amidst the Imperial tide.

MI AMOR, MI AMARGURA

by Claudia Rey

If I ever write a book
no doubt
I’ll dedicate it to you.
You, who inspired me
but gave me insecurity
along with happiness and tears
doubt and laughter
love and bitter loneliness
in the end.
Amor y amargura
like a Mexican song.

DOWNSTREAM

by Steven Gulvezan

Old broken crone
How the young men
Swooned
Under your window
On the hot
August nights
Of your youth
Time has a way
Of passing
But maybe not
Remember
How sweet the ice cream
Tasted
Strolling along the boulevard
Twilight falling
Your hand in the hand
Of that certain someone
Who flavored your fancy
That summer night
So long ago
Memories have drifted
Downstream
Dip your hand into the water
Close your eyes
Remember
Biting into the cone
The frozen confection
Deliciously
Cold
The feel of his arm
Brushing on yours
A cool breeze
Stirring
Your white cotton gown
Did you stop?
Did you kiss?
Hot tongues flicking
In each other’s mouths
Time has a way of passing
No more

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Poetess Entreats Her Beau

by Robert Laughlin

Please help me to commemorate
The thrill I had on our last date.

To shape it into perfect rhyme,
I need a minute of your time.

We had our dinner with champagne,
Then parked your car in Lovers’ Lane.

That night I wore my sheerest dress
And fragrance that imparted Yes.

You reached out with your gentle hand
As to some unheard saraband.

So…what rhymes with ‘octopus’?

Typowriter

by Chris Butler

I’m typing typos
on my typewriter,

so I have no
spell check to correct

the mistakes
I have made

on not only paper,

but every surface
of this earth.

Thus, I write
with white-out.

Omnia Ab Uno

by Joe Milford

The seed of the four elements
Under the tree of Pansophia
Its roots in fire of the smelting core
Macro and micro forged into spore
I plant in the fecund dirt of my soil
Terra-theo, philo-cosmos, sephiric
Roots and limbs forming a circle
Roots growing into the limbs’ laurels
Each leaf a hand and each limb
A genealogy—brede and bastion,
Blood and stargifts—a completion
In me—my four winds about the curtains
These windows center essence
Burn the eyes and the flesh—still
The contemplation remains, the steady
Stare of the hermetic eye upon the edge.
I am the seed upon the ledge, as designed
Haphazard, the wind will plant me next.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

SAPPHO IN THE KITCHEN

by Kallima Hamilton

Repetition and toil, slaves enough
but the woman in me grows fond of dishes
and something central

sends me back into baking and brooms
in this room lit with sun and cinnamon.

A blue fire burns at the core of me,
each poem of love buffed over sudsy water.
Too often I dream of your ankles.

The soufflé sinks. Still, I go on
with my island view dotted by dolphins.

The universe curves like a green slice of melon.
We observe our need to nest

and nourish. Let me rub sunflower oil
on your belly, give you tonic juiced with lime.

All I can do is recite the syllables of your name,
become entangled in the blonde glass of your wild hair.

This wood table anchors me with roses and grape hyacinth,
these words become the fresh bread of our long afternoons.

Soon, sundown will turn in its coppery shadows
and my ache, like a thing possessed, will wander for its form
until you return with apricots, sweet plums.

Long Distance

by Darryl Price

Here's the thing. I never thought you'd
Be swept away from me forever. Some
Grain of you still seems to catch
In my eyes from time to time.
What I'm trying to say is I'm

Sorry that we are no bigger than
flesh. I'd give anything to be in
Your presence without history or seasons having
Been hammered to your heart. I understand
That oceans will continue to live and

Die in our veins, but also clouds
Will rise out of our deeds to
Drench us sooner or later. I want
You to let go of me completely
Now and know that you are loved.

Her Bamboo Grove

Taufiq bin Abdul Khalid

You tricked me,
Leading me deeper
And deeper into
Your bamboo grove.

It was not love
That drove me,
It was you.

And you are not love.

You swayed in the breeze,
Your stalks stood high,
Casting a shadow over my life
And over my overcast skies.

Your grove hid
A nest of snakes,
But I did not kill them,
For they were your pets.

And my very last thought
Was that of your face,

A vision of pain and grace,
Perishing as I did
In your everlasting embrace.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

THE WINNER LOSES ALL

by Randall Rogers

THE WINDS
OF YESTERDAY
BLEW
BITTER.
HIS PAST
WAS
CATCHING UP.
BEST THE TIME
FOR DYING
IS SOON
HE’D SAY.

TIME
IS A
PRINCESS.
NEVER
A QUEEN.

LIVING LIFE
ROUGH
YOU KNOW
HEROIN
METH
NEVER A
GIRLFRIEND
CRIED THE DAY
GARY COLEMAN DIED
IS NOTHING
RATHER
THAN
SOMETHING
AND IT
COULD HAPPEN
TO YOU.
OR NOT.
BINARY BRAIN.

I SEEN SO MANY
STRANG THINGS
IN THIS WORLD
THIS LIFE
WEIRD SHIT
NO SEEMINGLY EXPLA-CAUSATION
BET YOU HAVE ALL TOO.
WE JUST
DON’T TALK
‘BOUT JOE’S
BLOWING
HIS HEAD
OFF
SHOTGUN BARREL
O WHAT LEFT OF HIS
HEAD
IN THE MOUTH WE
ALL SUPPOSED
TRIGGER
CAUGHT ON HIS TOE.
WEIRD SHIT LIKE
‘’WHY’’, JOE?
MUCH LESS
THAN WE TALK
ABOUT
THE DRUG
SHIT,
AND
THAT WE
ALL
MASTURBATE,
THAT IS,
IF WE STILL CAN.
ALL I GOTTA
SAY
IS
FUCK YOU WORLD
WHO LOVES YOU. BABY?

ARROGANT BASTARD

I ALWAYS SAY
AN INTELLIGENT
PERSON
WILL
SEE THAT
QUALITY
IN ME.
AND NOT BE JEALOUS.

Ambiguity

by Richard Hartwell

I overheard someone refer to her as an
adolescent sitting on the cusp of maturity.
Blind language, that; for I know her and
from what I know and have seen of her,
she vacillates between woman and child,
balanced precariously, standing, not seated,
on a scimitar’s finely-honed edge, dividing
her slashed realities of what others expected,
wanted of her, cajoled and then demanded, and
her sharply-imagined desires and dreams of self,
attempting to regain her virginal self-confidence.

Tears course down her face, gain mass, and drop
upon her arm – not wrist, not yet, perhaps never –
mixing with parallel lines of blood newly yearned for,
until interrupted by the intrusive demands of now:
bells, chatter, rumors, directions, instructions, demands.
Each moment her mind reels from the consequences of
decisions she believes she cannot reveal nor contain.
Surreptitiously, she pulls her sweater sleeve up and,
slicing neat, new, parallel lines drawn towards infinity,
allows the focal point of pain to acknowledge her reality.

Days are Long, Life is Short

by Carmen Taggart

Hurry
Hurry
Grass needs mowing
Weeds need tending
Bills paid.
Slow down
Kids are growing
Love is fleeting
Fireflies won’t stay.
Hurry
Chores are calling
Phone is ringing
Crops harvested.

Slow down
Roses falling
Laughter surrounding
Taste of your lips

Time
waits for no one
A fickle mistress
Hurry,
Hurry,
Slow down,
Slow down . . .

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Two-Day Drive

by Mike Foldes

Leafless trees
With steel trunks
And stars in their eyes.
300 miles between words.
An Appian Way
Where all roads
Lead everywhere
And you don’t know
Where you’re going
Until you get there.
The old roads aren’t
Where they’re supposed to be;
drive for years,
the landscape never
looks the same
As what filters
thru memory.
A veil of fog settles
on the valley.
We drive into it,
As if opening a book,
Suspending animation:
“There are other planets
in the universe,
But none like earth …”

You Have Always

by Darryl Price

The mirror of
The universe
With the vastness
Of everything
In it staring

Back at you—so
You will never
Be the last one
In my friend. I
Know I’ve thought that
In the past. I

Was wrong. It’s one
Life going off or
Turning on. Let’s
Enjoy seeing
Each other reflecting
Back.

THE FURNACE ROOM

by Victor Enns

To the left of the stairs
the green fire-breathing
furnace, eating coal.

Insatiable,
the flames
call to me.

The shroud of dust
rises from the coal bin,
cloaks my invisibility.

No-one knows I’m down here.
I like to play with fire.
Sometimes I get away.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tornado for Two

by Mathew Richard Carter

We lay
shrouded underneath the kitchen table,
darkened by the power failure, only
illuminated during
dramatic sheets
of lightning,
blanketing
our anxious faces
as a flat crack
of thunder
follows.
We lay
cowered under the scent of our own fear, only
one more hour, we thought it would never end.
Suddenly, down came
the rain like the sound
of trains growing
louder, closer
as a monster’s
hand sweeps
the land.
We lay
frozen under panes of pressure. Our immobile
bodies sliding in and out of consciousness,
the sheer horror of
finding ourselves
less fortunate
the next day
was very near.
Silence became
our long, lost
friend.
We lay
pensive under sturdy roofs, the broken century
void insurance claim no longer applies. Our
dumbfounded thoughts
race to the hope of
this storm’s
conclusion,
counting
seconds
between
final claps
of thunder.

I Think About My Father

by James Babbs

I think about my father
every time I enter this garage
I remember him coming here
working on all those cars
and I think about him
every time I’m holding the hammer
preparing to drive the nail
or when I use the saw to cut the board
and sharpen the blade of the lawnmower
I think about my father
every time I start another project
thinking about what he would’ve done
before the diabetes made him blind
and I remember him
always working with his hands
the scent of sweat following him inside
I think about my father
every time I enter a hospital
and I remember him
when I’m walking those long corridors
through the empty spaces
going past all those rooms
that to me, still, look the same

Wedding Dance

by Kip Hanson 

Despite the freshly waxed dance floor,
the floral centerpieces and crooked boutonnieres,
the air is redolent with memories of catered buffets,
ancient spilled beer and stale cigarettes,
and the lingering sour smell of sweaty guests
dancing in uncomfortable formal wear,
the ghosts of weddings past. I stand
at this cheap wood-grained podium
the father of the bride, delivering
his obligatory speech. I stare out
at in-laws and cousins, friends of family,
uncles and aunts and withered grandparents,
a bored sea of shiny faces, half of which are unfamiliar
and will hopefully remain so.
The paper shakes, the spotlight burns,
my reader glasses slide down my sweaty face,
yet I’m bolstered by occasional polite laughter
and the two beers I quaffed within minutes of placing
my little girl’s hand into that of the stranger with whom
she’s been sleeping for months.
When the girl’s mother and I were married,
nobody slept together; there were but
occasional urgent moments in the back seat
of a car borrowed from her father,
at least until that night the cops caught us
in the park, tap, tap, tap on the window,
and she lost her nerve forever.
Our wedding reception? It was nothing like this,
with its chocolate waterfall,
potato croquettes, half a cow’s worth,
of carved roast beef, and enough chilled shrimp
to sink a small sea freighter.
All we had at our reception were three cases of beer,
two bottles of cheap champagne for the toast,
a bowl of potato salad and some finger sandwiches,
reluctantly  prepared by my new mother in law,
grumbling in the kitchen over her new son in law
how will he ever support her daughter
on his measly salary?
The best man Greg stumbles in
through a propped open fire escape door, carrying with him
a whiff of fine cigars, his face red from the cold,
and a spatter of brown vomit
dangling from his chin. His itinerary carries him to the men’s room
for a long groaning piss, then over to the open bar
for rum and coke number seven,
before moving on to some unnamed bridesmaid,
whose dress I paid for with a portion
of my dwindling retirement account,
which will be cheerfully flung by Greg later that night
to the hotel room floor. The syncopated rhythm,
thumps, thumps, thumps
as the deejay tries to erase the last bit of my hearing.
There they go, dancing, the bride and groom,
thrashing like frantic lovers,
where did she learn to move like that? The disco
ball spins, a headache looms as I
calculate the balance of my 401K,
then take my wife’s hand, and hope
our daughter will be okay without us.
Where is that little girl, she with the skinned knees,
painter of refrigerator Rembrandts,
maker of lumpy pottery?
That girl, who once cried in my arms
on the steps of the elementary school,
afraid of some strange second-grade boy until
I put her head on my shoulder,
whispered her name, and she looked up at me,
smiled, and said I love you Daddy.
Here she comes now, the music has slowed, the lights have dimmed,
she takes my hand, knows I’m no dancer
but still I go, it’s okay,
the dance floor is scuffed with boot marks
like hieroglyphs, warning of the dangers:
small twinkling pools of spilled vodka tonics,
rice like snow and occasional bits
of pink and green and yellow confetti.
We sway to and fro, round and round
in monotonous dwindling circles,
my hip hurts, my knee aches, we bump
into anonymous smiling strangers but we’re so alone,
all alone out there, my little girl and I,
her head rests on my shoulder,
my tears fall into her two-hundred dollar hairdo
but she doesn’t mind, only looks up at me,
smiles and says thanks, Dad. I’m glad you came.
 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Tree

by Danny P. Barbare

Roots, trees  stripped
Of their bark, limbs, no leaves,
No twigs, no shade, no flowers,
Fallen trunk, sawdust,  sap
Splinters, kindling, firewood,
Knots, logs, quarters, smoke,
Smell, crackle, and ash.

My People

by Damion Hamilton
 
I have been searching for most of them,
My whole life,
I'm self educated, and have never related
To the so called college educated or the middle class
I’ve read a great deal of the classics: Poetry, Fiction, Philosophy and
History
 
But it never help me relate to the educated ones
 
Hell, they don’t even read most of that shit
 
But sitting in a holding cell, and being surrounded
By my kind
 
They could care less about Tolstoy, Kant or
Pablo Neruda or Whitman
 
And that’s quite all right with me
For they welcome me, even when they do not say a word
 
They wear their opinions on their face
 
And we are all being fucked by something greater
Than ourselves
The oppressed ones, the abused ones, the poor ones,
Mentally unstable
Just trying to get by, and being booted in the Face by The
System
 
Alot of them have low paying jobs and want to get outta
Jail and to those jobs in the morning
 
Or else they may be fired.
 
Their violations so fuckin minor
A car issue-- a speeding ticket or parking issue
That they could not may or afford.
And then having a warrant placed of arrest,
 
Then having the police pick them up on traffic
Violation
 
And it’s back to the fucking jail
 
The majority of the jails or like this
 
Hand cuffed and frisked, hoping to make a collect
Call to anyone in the middle of the night,
So they can keep their jobs in the morning

Mountain Peaks My Interest

by Z.M. Weiss

Look at the texture.
Look at the form.

Volcanic rock and sandstone
Smothered over giant mounds of land.

Look at the trees.
Look at the flowers.

Green glows with the sun
and blossoming buds mature.

Listen to the wind.
Listen to the coyotes.

Both howl with delight
and disappear into the chilled night.

Touch the side of the plateau
and feel mountain spirit.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Places Are Spoken Of

by Darryl Price

In leaves this time of year. Another
Language that like every other tongue argues
More existence please with lots of everything
In regular doses--sun and wind and
Rain and room to throw one’s arms
Around each new day, but a deliberate

Emerald will green from within. Greed gets
You acquisitioned next to the wall. Someone
Is bound to have a pair of
Scissors sooner or later with your name
On it. Is this what’s happened to
Me? I exploded over the time with

A beard twined of wild flowers and
Swept the local moths into a volcanic
Disappearance of dust-Like proportions which choked apart
Any chance of making new friends with
The surrounding scenery? Too bad. I couldn’t
Help filling my legs up with all

That fresh pleasure and carrying it back
To the hive of my purest dreams
For later offering to the Muse herself,
An organic moisturizer she might easily dab
On between gigs as a silvery pulsating
Star or the mature breasts of the

Moon goddess. Let us celebrate moments like
These that conquer us so elegantly. Why
Let the circles close in all around 
Us when we are made of the 
Stuff that keeps strumming into the
Eternal one’s palmed ear canals?

Penchant for Silence

by Mathew Richard Carter

Awakened
by a sun
burst
through
the window’s
venetian eyes,
the hazy luster
of an early
morning’s light
too present to eschew.
I am wrenching and rising
the sum of these tired bones
to attempt to reach and stretch,

resting my seat
upon the chill
of iron chairs,
painted white
for
that elegant appeal.. blah blah
I am always alone at the tableside –
not filled,
not fabled
with stories of our time;
plain fare was well liked.

I’d have lingered thoughts
of quondam days,
before the phlegm
and relentless
ruckus,
increasingly
unable to ignore
every day of
each morning.

Re-flexing my palette
to enjoy
the simple fare,
I reach for the spoon,
held in glare
by the glazing
of the sun.

I’ve declared
a cease-fire
upon the burnings
of my appetite,
cringing for lungs –
stressed, hunched
over kitchen sinks.

Joint Custody

by Donal Mahoney

You were gone
when I got home

at midnight
from a double shift.

Now you’re back,
two years later.

I had no idea
where you went

so I packed up
and got a room.

Long ago,
I begged you

not to leave
but that was then.

You can keep
the house, the car.

I'll come by
some starry night

when the moon is bright
and you're asleep.

I promise not to
wake the dogs.

When you get up
you'll find

I used my key
to take the kids.