Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Friday, April 29, 2011


by Andy Slade

By the flicker of an old paraffin lamp
In a well-used tent, on a moonlit hill
You gave in to cheap, warm beer
Fine food and a few African lies.

Your pale skin stretched and turned
Releasing a truth, you whispered
“If you say anything now, I'll believe it”
I said yes.

At My Brother’s Wake

by Len Kuntz

The meadow that used to be here has been scorched.
The tree fort cinders and nails,
charred stumps.
There are reasons for things yet
even the sparrows seem lost,
the sky too barren.
“Over there,” I say,
“is where we’d fight bare-fisted,
no one ever winning.”
She says I must have loved him then.
The wind runs its fingers across the slope
as the ground gossips
about events that never happened.
We head back to the old house
where the others are telling
tall tales
so that everyone
looks good.

The Bitter End is a Bar

by R.L. Elledge

Like sex,
Is best when it’s angry.

Sweetness loses its savor,
And if you’re that sorry slick type,
You’ll last about two seconds,
Before a real man,
Decks your sorry ass,
And makes you bleed like a bitch.

So come at me son,
Come the fuck at me.

In other news,

Fat lips squirm like a red worm,
Wriggling obscenely in screaming half seen memories,
And infuriating implications.
Pulse pumping like an eel crashing through my veins,
And eyes seeing nothing,
Besides the insides,
Of my head, and the other, that bled,
A bittersweet red.

Drugs only get you so far.
Blowing a line off her bare thigh,
At the Heart of Texas motel,
Off Highway 290.
A bottle of Jack in one hand,
And the other slowly sliding,
Steadily down,
The smooth flesh of today’s freshest catch,
To where I’m sure your imagination has already led.
And then out.
Into the warm night air.
Onto the pale moonlit street.
Where summer lounges in sultry heat.

And I light a cigarette,
With a silvery flick of my wrist,
And make my way down these city streets,
My streets, though cold, graying and old.
Like the bony grasping fingers of a lecherous mayor,
Fervently clawing at the soft young body of a dead whore,
Whose glassy eyes gaze at starry skies like rotting fish scales,
Reflecting pale will o’ wisps,
Suspended amongst the turbulent motion,
Of the merciless ocean.

And I’ll traverse these city streets,
Cracking his knuckles with every clacking impact,
Of the riding heels,
Of my black ostrich hide boots.
Or singe the Old Man’s sensibilities
In my daddy’s white truck
Too big to be softy slick, but just the size for a hard fuck
And to lie in afterwards
In dizzy sex sweat drenched dazed ecstasy
And marvel at the will o’ wisps
Watching beyond the fogged windows

At the Bitter End
There’s a bar, a bogie, and a light
Once you’ve gotten kicked out of the one
And smoked the other
There ain’t much left to do
But light yourself on fire
And then drown in the gutter
Ever burning soul outliving charred corpse
Remaining in eternal, beautiful agony

Thursday, April 28, 2011

If there had been magic

by Sandra Davies

If there had been magic
The cellophane I held up so that light could shine right through,
while tug of caramel and nut still sang sweetly in my mouth,
its twist-creased part smoothed clarity, its richly purple glow
would become a robe of velvet, ermine edged,
sweeping majesty across a stone-flagged floor.

If there had been magic
The king would overrule, stern voiced, his crimson foil dressed queen,
dark widow’s peak misleadingly heart-shaping whitened face.
She’d softly speak to her liege lordly spouse, not haughty swirl her skirts,
while cherried lips spat stoney words that teetered on the edge of taunt,
imperious, insulting in the thrusting of her pearl encrusted gown.

If there had been magic
The king and queen would be united in their choice of suitor for their daughter.
And she would acquiesce, sweet strawberry joy.
Instead her pink stained skin is stamped with teenage tantrums,
her flounces deliquescent, flirting with her mother’s pirate king
and her sulks incense her father’s fledged but not yet full grown prince.

If there had been magic
The turquoise and silver trappings of the adolescent Prince
would have stiffened his soft-fudged and yielding spine.
Instead of which the princess fell for Black Jack’s flashing eyes,
his treasure chest of gold moidores, maps and bones and rum.
Full failed to see the villainy behind his pantomime façade.


by Richard Hartwell

From booze to books and drugs to dragons,
The yin and yang of life explodes the myth
That we are what we plan to be.

No one plans to be an alcoholic.
No one plans to be a drug addict.
But the admixture of alcohol and opium
May open an unseen path to enlightenment.
The balance of what was and what is creates what will be.
You may turn aside on the path
Thinking you strike in a new direction,
You may halt in your tracks and refuse to advance further,
However, there is no turning back on your path.
The light and the dark of your self-reflection,
The good and bad of personal choices,
The calms and storms of life --

All these are merged into the days and nights of the journey
That becomes your autobiography.

Dirty Secret

by Chris Butler

I am her
dirty secret,
by our
dried fusion
of sweat
and cum,
until I am
washed off
in the shower
the morning
once one
thing led to


by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal

The sober morning
put me in a foul mood.
The birds awoke me
and snapped me from my dream.
The clear sky needed
rain and clouds, maybe a
strong wind. I wanted
a fever to make me
go back to sleep and
dream again of her warmth.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Without You

by James Babbs

all it takes is
this record that I’ve kept
for the last 20 years to
bring you back again
when I start playing it
I’m the same person
I was before
you’re dancing
next to me
moving your body
slowly to the beat
you’re laughing
your long hair
twirling in the air
you brush
your fingers lightly
across my cheek
when the music ends
I’m still here
listening to the silence
getting drunk
without you


by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal

Here I am below the weather
as the sky pelts me with rain.
I am injured by life’s poor luck,
immobile to love’s desire.
In silence I lick my wounds as
she exists, but is out of
reach. I never been so afraid
to lose something I have no
chance to attain. Her love is for
somebody else. Even I have
to admit it to myself.
Here I am below the dark clouds
taking a shower of rain.
I could hide my tears this evening.


by Michael H. Brownstein

to the soft end
of a question mark,
your cheeks,
thick and salty,
the ember
of your skin.

the grand inquisitor of the office

by John Grochalski

the grand inquisitor of the office
wants to know why
i’m eating peanut butter again
on my lunch
wants to know what that stack
of paper is in my hand
why i haven’t shaved
the hair off of my neck in weeks
why i look down on such a sunny day
why i have gray hair in my beard
at my age
because her husband’s hair is still
a beautiful blonde
wants to know how old i am anyway
when my birthday is
wants to know how my vacation was
what did i do
how my niece is
what my wife is like
why i hate kids
isn’t satisfied when i tell her the vacation
was all right

the grand inquisitor of the office
wants to know if i want to order take out
with everyone else
if i eat pizza or chinese food
or just that peanut butter all of the time
wants me to throw a few bucks into the office
lottery pool
is still curious about that stack of paper
in my hands
or why i’m always reading one of those books
while she flips through her cell phone
and the new york post
wants to know why i bought those pants
that shirt
those shoes
questions why it is that i keep going to europe
when america ain’t so bad
gets nervous when i tell her that i hate disney
and intelligent design

the grand inquisitor of the office
says america love it or leave it
asks me why i don’t own a car
asks me more questions than my wife
wants to know
what would make me say something like that
has no sense of irony
no humor in her soul
tells me that she’ll still come to work
if they win that lottery pool
has probably never read dostoevsky
alone on a rain soaked day
wants to know why i come to work
with a hangover
and hide in my office for hours
gets confused when i ask her
where it is that she keeps her
pitchfork and horns
when she comes into the office
every morning.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal

The people were
The way they talked
without their mouths
was strange. On their
faces a new
foot-like appendage
supported their eyes,
noses, and mouths.
The entire head
was foot-like, but
they were mere ghosts,
I was able
to see them because
I have this gift,
to see things others
cannot see.
But sometimes I
just see what I
want to see and
that is a problem.

Guitarra Señorita

by Amit Parmessur

Your hair is so intoxicated in inspiration
that it has fallen all over your left eye.
I can see the golden guitar in your face;
I can see your fantastic face in the guitar.

There are so many mad musical notes sparkling
and waltzing all along your beautiful brown hair,
without your permission. There’s a simple
dream in your right eye too but
I know that you’ve learnt life’s not a simple song.

On your innocent cheeks the scars
of past tears and sufferings are still visible,
but now your melodious smile is flourishing
smoothly, making you a better woman.

Always be as melodic and strong
as your Taurus guitar, poetic Señorita.

Above your head it’s blue paradise, see,
full of pretty little windows to choose from.
Whatever window you choose you’ll
meet your dreams, and your scars will smile.

Your sealed lips covered in pale pink lipstick
are singing so many songs nowadays— let me
hear you a bit tonight, before you start dreaming,
charming Guitarra Señorita.

Remember, many men would love to be the
lucky chain that you have around your tender neck,
without your permission.

Substance Abuse

by Chris Butler

Substance abuse
is my excuse

not to live,
not to die,
but simply exist.

So get me a tall glass of ice
and the strength
of a drink

to put me to sleep.


by Shannon Cassady

Mid-conversation with myself, the world stopped spinning.

“Sh! Do you feel that? …The walls are tumbling down.”

I am now afraid knowing that time is limited, as well as actions.

Today things changed.

Women Laughing

by James Babbs

women laughing from
the table in the corner
I’m sitting alone
drinking my beer
eating boneless buffalo wings
trying to concentrate on
the big-screen TV
well-dressed women
with their perfect hair
getting together after work
drinking tall glasses
filled with brightly-colored drinks
I hear their voices
all blending together
another burst of
their laughter rising up
I feel like getting up
from my table and
walking over there
waiting for them to
stop talking when
they see me standing there
before asking them
what it is they want
demanding them to tell me
I really need to know

Thursday, April 21, 2011

36 years, 360 days….and counting

by John Grochalski

i don’t care
i sit here drinking cheap red wine
before the workday
and i do not care
i listen to the radio
read the fiction of peter stamm
and a biography on patrick henry
awaiting the late shift again
and i drink the cheap red
with exhaustion and resignation
and do not care about myself
or anything else
i think about the gray skies outside
and april showers bringing may flowers
for us to stand on
i marvel at the way wine burns
the empty stomach
and i have stories out there
useless stories written on useless mornings
poems easing down the information superhighway
seeping into third rate rags
like japanese radiation flowing into
the green ocean
and i drink the cheap red wine
just to feel the burn
and i do not care about the poems, the stories,
or the radiation
for i am hardly a man
hardly a poet
i am muted and hungry
i specialize in picking out lettuce and daffodils
on hungover sunday afternoons
i am no patrick henry
but i have a dumb, american confidence about me
that i just can’t quell
it shows on my face
and i have a new tube of toothpaste
to take away the wine taste
when my free time is all used up
and a sink that almost drains it all away
when i spit out the wine and blood
and peppermint flavor
so i must be doing something right
after all of these years.

Baghdad Redux

by Donal Mahoney

I saw Quinn again tonight,
first time in years, sailing the streets,
weaving through people,
collar up, head cocked,
arms like telephone poles sunk
in the pockets of his overcoat,

the brilliant pennants of his long red hair
waving over the stadium
where years ago he took my handoff,
bucked off guard, found the free field,
and heaved like a bison into the end zone.

Tonight, when Quinn wove by me muttering,
I should have handed him the ball.
I should have screamed, “Go, Quinn, go!”
He would have stiff-armed the lamppost,
found the free field again,
left all in his wake to gawk

as he hit the end zone
and circled the goal posts,
whooping and laughing,
flinging the ball like a spear
over the cross-bar,
back to Iraq.


by Claudia Rey

Oh, to understand
the why and because
to forget the we and us
to accept the never again
to see the here and now
to learn the where and when
to be the what and who
the yes, the why not,
the me and I.


by Michael H. Brownstein

How do you go someplace with nothing?
We have different memories, you and I,
entering the room of other thought,
a rude space strong as dripping water,
a lapse of memory, a lasting envy,
whatever this is sitting next to me
cursing into the yellow darkness.

I never lose sight of responsibility.

On the train platform of predators,
I do as the wolves taught me—
stare into them until they leave me go.
But none of this has any real importance.
Twice I lost my way. This is what is important.
Once in the snowfields, Northern Montana
and again in the bogs, Southern Wisconsin.
Last night I felt my place slip again.
Where do you think you are going?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Two Poems by April A.


I'll paint your sweet portrait with tightly shut eyes
With pleasure whenever you ask.
Though hands ever shaking and colder than ice
Do find it a difficult task.

I'll cherish the portrait and hang it above
My empty not warm enough bed
To guard all the secrets of mystery love
And clear the mess in my head.

The mirror that's placed on the opposite wall
Will certainly add to its charm,
My room and your portrait will turn to one whole -
This place will incur no more harm.

Madness So Sweet

Pearls of fantasies shine in the waters of hope
That February turned tears to.
We will certainly free weakened hands from the ropes
If wonder is all that we do.

Let us build a small ship as a shelter-to-be
And paint it in colors of spring.
It is madness so sweet to spend life on the sea;
I will turn to a siren and sing.

In the song of my heart that will beat twice as fast,
Your own inner voice will reveal.
Reminiscence I'll crave is for ages to last,
I'll gift you a moment to steal.

Author's note: I want the whole world to know that there are still people on planet Earth who can inspire the most sincere poetry and who are worth devoting it to. And these two pieces are unique twice, as they are written not only for such a special person, but also about him.

Inland Seas

by Richard Hartwell

A vast, unbroken, even, barren horizon extends forever behind me.
I have been traveling for hours, for years, and have defeated monuments,
Problems from my past, firmly burying them in the background of my life,
Then running like hell, or at least driving extremely fast in my getaway car.
Ex-wives, ex-jobs, ex-bills, and ex-responsibilities have all been reduced,
To uniform monotony as I travel farther eastward, further backward in time.
I have crushed the newness of the Rockies and only the ancient plain and prairie,
The great American Middle, now surrounds me. The horizon line in my rear-view
Mirror lies unbroken and receding. Ahead appear occasional contours,
Undulations created by trickles and freshets, created by brooks and streams,
Whose courses will evenly wear down these slight elevations and acclivities.

This expanse has been referred to as leaves of grass, seas of grass, oceans of
Rooted grains heaving and undulating as zephyrs and storms play back and
Forth over colored surfaces. Like the Great Lakes and greater salt water oceans
Change mood and color, so these inland seas variously paint calm and anger,
Rage and rest. Great ships ply this surface too, released across but anchored
Still to set courses plotted by asphalt, concrete, oil, and rutted dirt. Only in
Seasons of plenty do the green, orange and red harvesters turn aside, allowed
Off course, trolling the shallows back and forth relentlessly, leaving the horizon
Vast again, unbroken, even, barren, extending before me -- seemingly forever.

Belle on Soft Belly

by Amit Parmessur

Your smooth body lying on the smooth lawn
Stunning brown eyes looking for a safe horizon
You look like a belle flying in the green sky.

There’re fierce flames burning in your calm heart.
Your lovely navel kissing the grass in melody,
Your village hair caressing your sunny sweet back,

Your soft hips badly need their purity again.
O Bella, I know you love my poetic words.
Let your ears hear me; this world will see your beauty.

Don’t ever fall on your belly in times of despair—
Remember, your fine feet want to dance in heaven
And winds of happiness want to kiss your lips,

I’m sure, the wings of my poetry will help you
take off;
So fly, run, swim, laugh and just be your beautiful
Let’s weave some real magic in this mysterious life.

Buddha’s Ghost

by Raymond Keen

Can you
give up the ghost
of a time
and a place
and remember
Can you
move freely
in and out
in neither direction
not counting?
Can you hold warmth,
forgetting it is
slipping through your fingers
because it really is
Because there is no forgetting,
and there is no holding.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Clowning Around at the IRS

by Linda Gamble

Behind the desk, wire frames pinch
the tip of his nose, a pile of 1040s
sit neatly before him. Phone rings,
he sighs, braces for the onslaught,
then SLAM!

Next file surprises, Occupation: clown.
A white face looms before him, voiceless,
happy to see him. Large gloved hands attempt
to pull his slack mouth into a smile. a horn
is honking somewhere, a happy horn,
not the blare of the street. Confetti falls
to his desk, he smells popcorn, there are
jugglers. They balance files on their heads,
toss wireless phones, a calliope is heard
in the men's room. He investigates.

Before the mirror, startled hands fly
to his whitewashed face, squeeze
a rotund red nose, stroke rainbow hair,
snap a polka-dot bowtie. a smile
he recalls spreads across his face.
He carries it back to his desk,
challenges the incessant phone.

"Are you the clown who sent me this letter?"

"Why, yes, yes I am. Listen
have you heard the one about...."

Sunday, April 17, 2011

White and Sun-Stained Flags

by Lyla Abi-Saab

There is something about it that is so rich. Heavy. Culture is cultivated into the dirt, intertwined with air and dust and piano keys of sunlight. The song sounds along tops of the mountains, sharp, cutting through the breeze and into layers of skin and bone and brick. The cracks in the stone and clay weather below my feet, the moths and mosquitos spiral slowly overhead, the clear sky is strewn with pink and orange in the distance and I can do nothing but kneel as my knees grow weak, nothing but submit my eyelids shut to powerlessness in a bittersweet surrender.

There is something about it that is so fleeting. The laughter that streams, like ripples of a stone-harrased river from opaque infant-white to the most sun-spotted wrinkles, the distance between year and face measured only in worlds, or maybe just shallow breath. The tears; unspoken but understood, fingers and bodies tangeled to one, sleepless eyes pressed tightly together holding back the blood of seas and stories away. Questions lit, ignited and burned to rubble like my father’s home in the face of no answers, the gaps in the story running deep like the lengths from wet grains of salt and sand to the most majestic of snow-capped summits. We can do nothing but breathe, the thick perfume of fruit and blossom seeping into us. The moon awaits dawn to dusk again and the dogs bark and things still go unnoticed as they do, but we are and we are anyway.


by Hall Jameson

Maggie stood by her mother's shins at the airport, her five-year-old self, invisible. When her father emerged from the tunnel, she saw him as a brown paper bag. Her mother, a tuna sandwich with the crusts removed.

A sorceress handed her a carnation on the way to the cab. Her parents shuffled ahead, unaware that she has paused by the glass doors. Smiling, the Sorceress hummed a private tune. She held Maggie's hand and they danced to the beat of the magic doors, as they whooshed open and shut.

Maggie decided to go home with this woman, instead of the strangers by the cab. She could not belong to them—with their matching slacks and brown turtlenecks. Surely, they stole her from this woman with the tangerine robes and bundle of fragrant carnations.

Her mother discovered that she was no longer in tow and scooted back through the doors. She frowned at the Sorceress, because she knew that Maggie had chosen her to be her real mother.

The sorceress waved. In the cab, Maggie held the carnation to her nose to mask the smell of stale sweat and cigars, and hummed her own private tune.

Hanging Moon

by Richard Hartwell

One quick twist of the neck.
There it is. Hanging high
Amidst the branches of the
Eucalyptus trees. Moon glow
Through speckled leaf shadows
Sprinkled on the patio beneath
My feet. Me swinging slowly
Back and forth; night time,
Outside with the dead again

Vanderbilt, Tequila King and Father

By Dylan Davis

His name is Vanderbilt. Or at least his last name is. No one knows his first name. The living only know him as Vanderbilt, or the Tequila King. He earned the title when he out drank four bikers in faded leather jackets from Utah, each man weighing slightly less than a hippopotamus.

Vanderbilt loved music and even more to play it. He had a Stratocaster, one with flames that flickered turquoise under the strumming of his wrist. Music didn’t pay the bills, so he traded his picks for screwdriver heads and his guitar for a hammer. The hammer rusted on the top, growing like a cancer down the hilt.

Sometimes, Vanderbilt would play a show or two at the bar, under cheap stage lights burning violet and collecting moths like street lamps. His friends would cheer, spilling their drinks and falling out of bar stools. He knew the crowd was biased and drunk and aged, but as was he. Women that were part of the audience looked at Vanderbilt lustfully. They said his beard, one that wisped up like a tongue, similar to a goat’s, was what made him. He would choose to be with whomever he found attractive that night, but never would he find himself in a relationship or in love. Vanderbilt was in love once, and would never love another.

His wife had played stand-up bass and smelled like crushed rose petals. She and Vanderbilt tied the knot when they were young, nineteen for Vanderbilt and one year younger for her. There were nights spent on his slick ’78 Monte Carlo’s hood gazing at stars with their eyelids half shut, the light glimmering off their lashes and raining down like fireworks. Moments like that confirmed for him that she was the one.

They were poor. With no high school diplomas, they didn’t have an income to support a child. So when she bore him, they chose adoption, in hopes they could forgot the terrifying feelings they had when he came crying and reaching and squirming from the womb. Vanderbilt reassured her that one day they would meet him again, when he was older and understood their decision.
Vanderbilt spent thirteen years in jail for drunk driving and killing his wife in a car crash. They had drank, tequila, and tried to drive the ’78 home on a rainy April night in ‘92. When Vanderbilt dozed off to the sound of pattering rain, a tree branch punched through the windshield of the car and drilled a hole through his wife’s skull. Her head, after the accident, looked like the apples on trees he used eat from as a child. They were blood red, glistening planets that hung from the branches and orbited around the trunk. Now, the apples wouldn’t be the size of his fist, but when he was young they were bigger, more filling.

Two years after he got out of jail, he met his son. The night he appeared on Vanderbilt’s porch, they had an exchange, one no louder than the crickets rubbing their wings in the shadows of towering grass.

“So you’re my Dad, huh?”

“Biological, yeah.”



“Somehow I expected this. This porch, this dog, you.”

“Well, you have smart genes.”


“Want a drink?”

“No, I’m only eighteen.”

“Oh, I gotcha.”

“So your names Vanderblit or something like that? The file only said your last name.”

“It’s Vanderbilt. Adolfo Vanderbilt.”

“Adolfo? Some name you got there.”

“Yeah, tell me about it.”

“Have a light?’

“You smoke?”

“I’m eighteen.”

“Right. Here you go. Menthol lights?”

“Yeah, makes it taste better.”

Vanderbilt is still the tequila king, and in fact, is now titled the Miller king. He still plays shows under violet moth winged lights for a crowd that will never boo him off stage. The hammer is still clenched in his hand and the beard that hangs from his chin still twirls, curls, and tangles. When he smokes now though, he chooses Menthol lights, because they taste better

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Poems by Alda Merini

Translated by Claudia Rey

"I poeti lavorano di notte"

I poeti lavorano di notte
quando il tempo non urge su di loro,
quando tace il rumore della folla
e termina il linciaggio delle ore.
I poeti lavorano nel buio
come falchi notturni od usignoli
dal dolcissimo canto
e temono di offendere Iddio.
Ma i poeti, nel loro silenzio
fanno ben più rumore
di una dorata cupola di stelle

Poets work at night
when time does not press on them
when the crowd’s noise is hushed
and the hour’s lynching is over.
Poets work in the dark
like night hawks or nightingales
whose song is so sweet
and fear they are offending God.
But poets, in their silence
make a higher noise
than a golden dome of stars

"Ti aspetto e ogni giorno"

Ti aspetto e ogni giorno
mi spengo poco per volta
e ho dimenticato il tuo volto.
Mi chiedono se la mia disperazione
sia pari alla tua assenza
no, è qualcosa di più:
è un gesto di morte fissa
che non ti so regalare.

I wait for you and every day
I die down little by little
and I have forgotten your face.
They ask me if my despair
is the same as your absence
no, it is something more:
it’s an immovable death gesture
I can’t give you as a gift.

"Ho conosciuto in te le meraviglie"

Ho conosciuto in te le meraviglie
meraviglie d'amore sì scoperte
che parevano a me delle conchiglie
ove odoravo il mare e le deserte
spiagge corrive e lì dentro l'amore mi sono persa come alla bufera
sempre tenendo fermo questo cuore
che (ben sapevo) amava una chimera.

I met wonders in you
love wonders so new
they looked like shells
where I could smell the sea
and simple empty beaches
I got lost in that love as in a storm
but I kept my heart very still
because I knew so well that it loved an illusion.

Alda Merini was one of Italy's most important and beloved poetic voices. She won many of Italy’s major national literary prizes and was twice nominated for the Nobel Prize, once by France and once by Italy.  She was born in Milan and died there in November 2009 at the age of 78.

The Camel thanks Claudia Rey for bringing her voice to the Saloon.

Photograph by Giuliano Grittini. Use permitted under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


by Raymond Keen

Desire had opened him
To what he really was.
Once a piece of his soul,
Now a glittering demon
Swirling in furious circles
Around what he was not,
Looping and diving in wild ellipses,
Infects what he could or might become.
Although his desire contains the
Ever-moving demon inside him,
It can offer no resting place.
And he grows afraid of his desire.


by Amit Parmessur

Your sunglasses tucked in your wavy hair,
your gracious elbows resting on the table,
you look almost like a modern Mona Lisa,
except that your smile is more charming.

The river of beauty flows in you.
Behold! Behind you the young coconut trees
look like excited fireworks in
brown, yellow and tender green sparks,
celebrating your rustic beauty.

Your veins are the strings of a calm guitar.
Having met misery and life’s dark demons,
you seem now ready to enjoy
long hours of luck and eternal joy,
just like any other pretty woman.

Your cheeks want to move like a merry piano.
And it’s good that the painting does
not show your feet; now you
just cannot run away.
So, live in this prison of delight!

God made you with very special hands.
Take care of your heartbeats.

My mind says it wants to forget everything

by Darryl Price

it thinks it knows about getting as far as we
have, to the here where we are now resting our
weary chins. How else can I slap this into a

clay pot for you? All those things that are constantly
being remembered as true love by me are gone for
good and that part of me that even remembers them

is daily fragmenting into some kind of reconditioned paper boat.
I'm seriously beginning to think I might be dangerously low
on the ink of the ages.Maybe that's just the

way it goes. You start missing tablets of vital information
so you start having several troubles getting from here all
the way to there with any kind of finesse or

comfortable ease.The picture changes.The picture changes. The picture changes. I don't know me. I don't want to know
you.Who am I? There's three little mutations for you

all in a crisp plastic row.. no, now it's a
pretty piping foursome. See how quickly things do change? I'm
not here to write you of anything. You'll feel everything

eventually without any help from me. Oh once upon a
time maybe I thought I might actually help you to
get in touch with the living essences of beauty's walking

tour visits without calling it a new or the old
memory kicking in. I'm talking about a real hand to
hold onto yours. Not a movie handholding to longingly watch

on the big screen. Not a novel without an end.
Not a strange message written on a hitchhiker's cardboard destination
sign, but real pungent bunches of fresh flowers growing by

the side of the any road in your own sweet
imaginations. You could just put your own two trembling hands
through the poem's gauze and touch them all if you

wanted , or just enjoy them freely. And then maybe you'd
pull yourself all the way through at last and realize
that it's not a paid for magic that belongs to

you at all but the ability to think for yourself
and create a better world out of nothing. One that
is only partly made of dreaming. One that is surely

there for you to discover and explore according to your
own screwed up courage. One that is neither completely wild
nor polluted beyond poetry's help. I've written this same love

letter to you out of what I've been able to
muster but it sounds like a suicide instead of hello
again. That's because I'm a sad stick figure in the

latest story so far. I know a lot of things
about how things work but I've been drowning in my
own words several times a day. And when I've finally

been able to free myself from the need you've always
been forever gone. My heart must look like a pin
cushion by now. A porcupine on a deserted stretch of

road looking for a leaf to curl under and sleep
tightly wound into a pointy ball until the darkness and
the night are finally become one. Then we'll rise again.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Big machine

by Tyler Bigney

I used to be young and naïve enough
to believe you could be anything you wanted
if you put your mind to it.
For the longest time, I wanted
to be a bad guy wrestler,
like Zeus or the Iron Sheik.
I bought wrestling magazines
and saved money for a weight bench
and for the tattoo of a red dragon
I was going to have inked on my chest.
Late at night, I replaced my father’s snores
with the standing ovation of a crowd
and the sound of them chanting my name.
But my father said I didn’t have
the right body type and at the time
I didn’t know what steroids were.
So I gave up and started saving money
for a guitar. It took a year,
and I plucked and strummed
alone in my bedroom, imagining
the sell out crowd singing along
to the songs I wrote
about not accomplishing the goals
I had set out to achieve. But my fingers
wouldn’t move the way
I wanted them to move.
As I grew older I turned my attention
to writing poems, short stories,
and dreamt of a novel. I dropped out
of university and found a job that paid
three dollars above minimum wage
at a plastic factory. A job that gave me
routine, and time alone to write.
I sat on stools tying knots in the tiny strands
of plastic, feeding them through
a big machine, and dreaming of what
I was going to go home to write about.
That was eight years ago, and
I still haven’t written anything,
except the words to this poem
and the acknowledgements
to a novel I couldn’t finish.
So that’s another dream gone to the wayside,
but you should see how many knots
I can tie in under a minute.

Twang and Dissonance

by Adam Carson Hales

headlights whitewash a narrow road
angular silhouettes dance in a rearview
while soft Lunar noises slip through grey

i let a midnight breeze sing across my face
the melody is sharp and cool
i whistle along to the Virginia solitude

grass blades rattle in approval
six cylinders hum beyond view
i am submerged, for now, and breathing

My Beauty

by Ian Mullins

The most beautiful thing
about death
is that it never ends.
There is no question mark
hanging on a life sentence
like a sober friend
dragging the drunkard
down. Imagine the joy
of retiring to bed
knowing you’ll never need
to wake.

Now imagine the terror
of the God brigade,
armouring themselves
with crosses
and whips
and bodyguards of tears,
knowing that only terror
and judgement awaits;
followed by eternal torment
on a scale so gross
that forty years
of nine till five
will seem like sunburn
beside it. Where’s the glory
in living forever
when you’ll spend it
on your knees? You’ll beg
through the afterlife
the same way you begged
through this one.

I’ll cut you a deal, old man:
you don’t pray for me
and I won’t pray for you.
And if God demands
my contrition
tell Him to pray for mine
and I’ll see what I can do.

36. Yes AND No

by Taufiq bin Abdul Khalid

Do not ask a Sufi anything,
For he will often reply;
Yes and No,
Do and Do Not,
Stay and Go,
And while it matters a lot,
It matters naught to God,

For many times,
He will perceive
What you really wish,
And will say that
Just to please.

For verily,
He will know your capacity,

And what value is truth
If you cannot bear it?

Rather than force you to disobedience,
He will send you on your merry way,
Thinking you have gained some wisdom,
When in truth, he gave you nothing,
But what you find pleasing.

Lake house

by Susan S. Keiser


No one thought to question this,
that Tom would skip start off the dock
at 2 am, overserved and belligerent.

"You need new friends," Jill told him,
concerned about water safety.
Was it their first date? I think so;
he would have thought it a dare.

Did I mention moonlessness?
Makeshift slalom with a dropped ski?
Jack skippered the cigarette boat
with bat-like accuracy that night,
eyes closed, for all we knew.


How you spun Two Princes in my
brain that hot Wisconsin summer;
B-15 on the old jukebox at Morton's.
Sweet, if not quite comparable to
Paradise by the Dashboard Light:
that legend lives on, some say.

A. I didn't need to 'know right now',
nor did I hope to champion the world,
then/later, in mercurial requiem.

B. A minor point, but I always meant to
apologize for teaching you Macarena,
and for the endless salsa evenings.


Stealthy magic leapt like quicksilver,
bluegill flashing in mill pond shallows.
Watery stories hardened to durable lore.
We even built a family on it, briefly.

A. Yes, we did burn down the dock on the
Fourth of July: it was a freak accident.

B. Sheila always said that Eddie looked
taller standing on his wallet. True.

C. No Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.
(It was the 90's; people exaggerated.)

When the lake magic evaporated we all
either married or divorced; some did both.
Sonar Jack held out the longest, last man
on the dock when the spells ran dry.


Stories arrive predictably post-season.
My water-under-the-bridge reckoning
would be years in the making, characters
emerging ghost-like on the dock, though
mouthy with opinions. They have shiny
new names but old faces.

Only faithful Max would cross the tale's
blood-brain barrier intact, as an older
Black Lab sometimes will, out of innate
loyalty or from long-ingrained habit.

The narrative cannot yet declare itself
fact or fiction, but it's a hard water story.
Given plot, characters, and point of view,
I'd have to say my money's on the Lab.

I've written in rabbits; a memory of Max
chases them in cornfields while I work.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Off Center of a Copernicus Universe

by Chris Butler

I am
just slightly
off center of a
where pictures
chaos is perfect,
signified as an
equivalent to the
of Arizona
my blissfully

The Shelf Life of Skin

by Robert E. Petras

In the barbed wire magic of dragonhood,
you say you want to express yourself
with constellations of ink,
an iron cross on a shoulder,
a golden condor on the chest,
rattlers entwining your navel.

Write a poem instead.
Poetry lasts. Poetry lingers
like the strong finish of wine
as it goes down the empyreal.

On your upper back
“Dick and Dana” was encastled by a heart,
the Goddess of Eternal Pledge
now blotted out by Harley Wings.

That rose on your calf
is not a rose by any other name
but the constellation non sequitur.
What is the color of real?

The stars suddenly flicker
then go cold in the darkness.
Time tattoos us all,
but the word keeps on turning.

The Woman

Jason E. Hodges

The woman I see day after day
In the city we both call home
With its twisting freeways and buildings scraping the sky
She walks with elegance
With grace
With legs of a runway model
With calves that dance upwards with each passing step of her heel
She drifts like a leaf in a gentle spring breeze
To me, she seems, almost a dream
Perfectly defined in every way
With her beautiful smile and flowing blond hair
That sways gently side to side
Her green eyes, so mysterious when caught in her gaze
A gaze that peers into my soul as she passes me by
I wonder, will she ever speak
Or will I be the one to say the first word
But wait
Today could be the day that the silence between us is broken
She’s looking right at me, like never before
Butterflies danced in my stomach as she reached for my hand
Letting go of my cardboard sign I took what she was giving
A smile and a dollar
A smile that filled me with hope
If only for a brief moment
A moment I’ll cling too like the life I once had
A moment that faded with her as she stepped out of sight

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Great War

by Panos Panagiotopoulos

“Qui plume a, guerre a. Ce monde est un vaste temple dédié à la discorde.”
“To hold a pen is to be at war. This world is one vast temple consecrated to discord.”

There is a war,
and this war goes on forever.
You won’t know it’s there;
no one will tell you about it.

Survivors of the war have no scars to show,
they have no limbs missing.
In their eyes, one could see,
if one would choose to,
the battlefields, cities in ruins,
endless nights under a red sky,
and when they speak,
if one would choose to listen,
one could hear the distant echoes of gunfire
and explosion.

Walk the streets;
ride the subway;
somewhere along your journey you will find them,
you will hear them whispered, maybe,
you will see them on a wall about to crumble
from their weight;
you will finally know the words,

verses of spoken poetry,
spoken bullets of war poetry,
pronounced fiercely,
words that roll like tanks on tongues of gravel,
words in neat piles,

ammo for the war that is fought within.

There is a war,
and this war goes on forever.
You won’t know it’s there;
you won’t know that you are fighting it.

The war leaves no scars to show,
no stories from the battlefield to share.
Only the distant echoes
of gunfire and explosion,
in your voice.

American Hades

by Mike Foldes

We was scammed.
30 years working
at the bottom of the well
in the oil-thick fluid drive
of American Hades,
where newcomers start
at the bottom, societal
recruits, plebes, and
pledges, scummies
seeing the rise to the top
as a struggle, but always
with hope, and an eye
to the light above.

We was scammed,
The light got brighter,
came at us faster
… for a while it seemed
the muck was thinner,
the surface nearer,
and with lungs aching
for the oxygen
we workers, schooled
in appropriate behavior,
moved more quickly
in the fashion of herds
toward the light above.

We was scammed.
The surface seemed nearer,
the light seemed brighter,
uncertainty went the way
of memory, fading as if
what made those memories
never did exist, and the whorl
of anticipation carried
days to extremes where
dreams are extinguished.
Where the last race
is the next race, but with
no time to train.


by Chris Butler

I’m clean,

showered with
dirty urine, holy water
and christ’s merlot blood
raining down from
her heaven.

I keep

reading the
devil’s bible,
as a higher power
any mention of
with marijuana
allowing me
to forget
good words
the self-help of

I’m clean,

still my veins
pump mud.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


by Mark Blaeuer

Exhausted every
night, 70 mph
to and from a lousy job
every day,
year after year,

he prays for death.

Next day
his car battery dies.


 by Robert Halleck
A wise dog lets the leash go slack.
So, what am I thinking?
Hope you can't tell. 
Keep talking. Everyone digs a hole.
I just put the shovel
where you can find it.


by M. Elaine Moore
The voices surround me,
    some quietly tugging
         at my subconscious,
              others screaming loudly
                   for my attention.
In the midst of it all
    I sit with pen in hand,
         trying to capture it all,
              listening intently
                   as the story unfolds
                        around me.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


by Panos Panagiotopoulos

There is a great fire,
a great fire in the desert
and animals gather on the dunes,
watching it from afar.

We converge around it,
oblivious to the eyes on the dunes lying in the distance,
oblivious to the ever-changing landscape around us.
We dance in homocentric circles, our faces painted red
by the fiery glow, wet faces painted red,
flames claiming the glistening surface of tears on our cheeks.

Coming from all directions,
we meet where the flames are high,
bearing no names,
no identity.
The past is an unnecessary burden,
so our feet go deep in the sand wherever we walk
but we bear no names for others.

Tears on our cheeks as we dance around our sun,
flames read our names to ourselves as they graze
our faces, turning them into steam, forming clouds.
Still, no redemption for the past; there is no need for that.
Future is the need that we have. We need a Future.
And time;

time is animals gathering on dunes to watch planets
orbiting the great fire in the distance.
Each of us, a planet of memories and words buried
in the ever-changing landscape of the desert
in our hearts.


by Richard Hartwell

The millions of minions of men hurry to the sea,
Like the erred myth of the marching lemmings,
They are drawn silently back to their source.
None turn away from the sea and all,
All are drawn forward to the edge of the abyss,
Lapping against the yellowed shore.

Their shadows and pasts are cast behind them,
As they silently stare into the star beyond the sea.
Is the sun rising or setting, the day coming or going,
Are these watchers arriving or departing?

Perhaps our views are ever changing, one moment to the next,
Much as the basic truths of our visual psychology,
Shaken and altered by perspective and proportion,
Are made liquid to acknowledge the limits of our perception.

Shadowed figures, hooded as monks;
Even the yellow ones appear
Clad in saffron robes or foul-weather gear.
What can be more foul than not to know
If you are coming or going,
Regardless of the time?

Cynical spring

by Claudia Rey

A black bird parades in my garden
wings partly spread, tail in a fan,
yellow beak half open,
while his future partner
combs her feathers under a bush
and pretends not to see him.
At last he takes wing
and she follows suit.
So he did win her over, I smile.
Soon there’ll be a new nest.
Don’t think so, quips my daughter.
I’d say she simply had enough
and chased him off.

The Christmas Spirit Tree

by Charles Langley

When I bought my acre of contentment in Randolph County, North Carolina, and built on it, I was separated from Jim Garn, my nearest neighbor, by a patch of hard-rock land on which only a scraggly, sparse lone pine tree grew. At its very top was a silver plastic star. A single red Christmas ornament graced a lower limb. When Jim came over to welcome me, I commented on the tree.

"Christmas is long gone," I told him. "Why don't you take the ornaments off your Christmas tree?"

"It isn't a Christmas tree," he answered. "It's a Christmas spirit tree. Christmas is just one day a year. The spirit of Christmas should last all year long."

Weirdo, I thought. I wonder what other far-out theories he has. But year long Christmas spirit wasn't a theory to him. It was a way of life. When I fell at work and was laid-up for three weeks I regularly found gifts on my doorstep. Fresh vegetables. Fruit. A can of blackberries. A green tomato pie. I knew they were from him, because anyone else would havehad to use my long driveway and would have been seen. When I was back on my feet, I broached the subject with Jim.

"Why didn't you wait when you brought the gifts so I could thank you?"

"I was only the deliveryman," he said. "You should thank Him who made the gift

Over time I heard of other acts of kindness on his part. Always anonymous. Never waiting to be thanked.

One day the tax assessor came to his door. The door was ajar. Religious music came from a radio within. He knocked, but got no answer. Pushing to door open, he saw Garn, sitting lifeless in his rocking chair.

"What a horrible way to die," someone said. "Alone and deserted."

I didn't answer. But in the quiet of my home I bowed my head. "Lord, take his soul and be gentle," I prayed. "He was one of the good ones. You and I know that the good are never alone and deserted."

Friday, April 1, 2011


by Robert Halleck

It's Saturday.
I'm going to the antique shop
to buy relatives.
Granddad went to college
Colby, class of 1910.
Few of his kind did.
Old photo, hard to see. He's the one
back row on the ledge
before sailing to WW 1.

Wedding Day. Grandma in white
Here's the boat they took that night.
Stock certificates from companies he sold.
Rotary president's pin
golf club trophy.
Quite a guy. I'm very proud
of the family I'm in.


by Howie Good

Between her thighs
a golden evening

300,000 flags fluttering
from the windows

One Word

by Carmen Taggart

One word, he described me with one word?
Really, just one!
What is it?
Is it persistent?
Is it crazy?
Is it complicated?
No, none of those?
Come on, what could it be?
What could it be?

I look in your eyes to divine the word.
Certain I can read it if I stop to look closely.
All curiosity drains away.
I see that I don’t need to know.
No, I don’t want to know.

I see that what I want to know is your word.
I want the word you would use for me.
I find it waiting on your lips,
a gift as you kiss me.

One Celt, Armed

One Celt, Armed
by Donal Mahoney

Poetry by priests?
Who gives it more than mock attention?
We read their poems, yes,

author first, then the title,
finally the verse itself.
Not much, except for Hopkins.

We wait for Rome, you see,
to give us in addition to its saints
one more decent poet.

A sot once said
“When things get bad enough,
you will see a Celt,

armed with a quiver of poems,
ride flaming out of the hills,
soaring over the lakes,

wearing a rainbow for a Roman collar.”
Things are bad enough right now by half.
We need to hear his gallop soon.


by James Dye

Amidst devils in a lonely bed,
I rest with chimeras only in my head.
Still, a nightmare breathes in adamantine chains.
Spake the grisly terrors of Amyclaeans,

"Psst, what never breathes desires
to march against the hours
from those who write down the rhyme
of history time after time.
Adonis, Apollo, and Venus
are as old as Methuselah.
Our history once said they were true
and so did you, and so do you."

Still Me

by Karen Ostrom

I wish I could reveal to you
The inner workings of my mind
Could you see my hidden thoughts?
My desires, fears that I lock away
Why do I tremble, am I not still me?
Perhaps I no longer dance till three A.M
But that doesn’t mean I no longer dance
Maybe I have no one to walk hand in hand with
The memory of his touch, I can still feel
The burning hues of the setting sun in summer
Still captivates me though I watch it alone
Ghost of yesterday haunts my waking hour
I still see his face when I pass by the mirror
We thought time was endless, something to laugh at
Why do you refuse to see the person I was, is still me?
Like a picture ripped in two, one half tossed away
The life I face is now a solitary one, my shadow gone
Convincing others of my existence is futile
When I’m not finished proving to myself who I am