Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bird Watching

by James Babbs

I see blueblack feathers
on the backs of the blackbirds
as they strut and flutter
their way
across my backyard and
I listen to
the noises they make
sounding almost angry and
when I’m standing near the window
watching them
they spread their wings and
puff up their bodies
rising up
without leaving the ground
screeching at the other ones and
I wonder
if this is suppose to be
some kind of warning or
an admonishment
for something
one of them did wrong
but I don’t know
that much about birds
I just like watching them
from time to time and
these are some of the things I see

Assemblage of America

by Helen Vitoria

First, I tried to love you Dow Chemical
for you, I scavenged bone gears by DuPont
in my General Electric teeth
unfurled a BP burning trauma
of pulp fittings & United States Steel cogs
O Exxon Mobil, you were spitting
poisons on my doorstep


by Chris Butler

I’ve been to hell
and back
but I found the weather
to be better
down there
than it is up here
on earth,
even when I left
with a sunburn.

And although heaven
has the best view,
I know I’ll never rest
eternally next to you.

Peter, Pan and Mary

by Claudia Rey

Peter Pan has grown old
and doesn't fly around any more.
Last time he tried his old tricks
his back started to ache
his arms felt heavy
gravity went to his head
and he had to hurry back home.
He's fifty-seven, after all.
He still doesn't wear a jacket
or a necktie - for heaven's sake!
But his green elf costume
is shrunk and frayed at the edges,
so he had to accept jeans
and a green sweatshirt.
And desert boots.
Mary Poppins... well,
she aged more graciously.
Her hair is greying
but the new wavy cut
gentles her face.
She is still a bit stern
her manners are flawless
she's a real lady, after all.
But she smiles
from time to time
and she started to wear pastel colors.
Specially when she meets Peter for tea
in Kensington Gardens.

176. Testicles

by Taufiq bin Abdul Khalid

A creature torn
Between the mystical
And the testicles.

Staff Meeting at Auschwitz

by Donal Mahoney

We’ll tell the Fuehrer how we've tried
everything to make this lady say
where the rabbi lives but she won't talk
so now it’s time to call the plumber.
Tell old Franz to bring his drill.

We'll tell the plumber the prisoner won't talk
so now it's time to start rodding out Camille.
"When you're finished, Franz, bring her back
and we’ll see if she will yield. And if she won’t
you’ll try again, rodding out Camille.”

Remember, little Rachel?
Once she saw the plumber's drill,
she told us where to pick up 30 more.
If we had Rachel, she could warn Camille.
It would save old Franz a trip.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

jersey turnpike pornographic elegy

by Stephen A. Rozwenc

broken white lines
streak by
like horny laboratory rats

a mildly titillated Plymouth Neon car
careens through traffic
tough-in-cheek headlight beams
night licking
between gulping 18 wheeler thighs

the whiny dildo
swerves dildescent
onto an exit ramp's kinky black garter belt
only to halt
squealing vicariously
before the blood gorged pubic tollbooth
death mask

the nine headed penis of money
whips out
of the driver side window
and demands
eleborate punishments
for any congenital release

then squirts merrily off
for blonde strands of Walt Whitman Bridge lights

Phiadelphia bound
for more of dead Eric's playful dialogue

Le Morne

by Amit Parmessur

O my dearest friends, have
you ever slid down the back of a serpent?

It is the same going there, to Le Morne —
just that on the reptile’s back there is
no such wonderful, original scenery.

There are no such delightful breezes
to charm you and rippling waters
to whisper silent stories into your ears.

Le Morne is Le Morne.
Home to tired slaves,
grave to runaway rebels

its basaltic Le Morne Brabant, that
gargantuan bump in the soil that no wind
can flatten is still a lighthouse for fishermen.

If you go there you might just
sense, see and suffer for the slaves
who bled for us,
who worked for us,
who perished.

Le Morne has guided the blood of many
unsung heroes into the haven of its oceans.
Le Morne is Le Morne,
a serpent that can charm any snake charmer!

Its calmness, a tireless journey into infinity
will always mock any form
of man-made turmoil.

Le Morne is Le Morne.

How to turn a train into a shark through G&T

by Sarah Louise Crewe

Slither his tail end
on smoke periphery.
Coin eyes conceal
sea dog soul window schtick.
Coach ends as scaled
parenthesis. Surge
thrust/pulse out of water
in your palms. Trans-postcode
pendolino dolly with
shark's eye poppy round her neck.
Watch wound up to dilate
Polysubstantial bite marks
and it's not just the quinine
That is setting her to burn.

you stain

by Linda M. Crate

your poured your bitterness
on me, told me it were a salve
for being lonely; you must have
thought I was born yesterday
or either I was a slave to your
heart, it doesn’t truly matter
for you’re a toy I’ve outgrown —
you taught me that I was a fool
to trust you, that wishing on pennies
is untrue, that I wasted my purple
Cinderella gown on someone that
wasn’t my prince; you proved to
me that you weren’t a star just
a glimmer of hope pretending to
be one, you were the smashed mirror
of Snow White’s wicked stepmother —
trying to project your bad luck onto
me; as if it weren’t enough that you
cut me to the core with your words
sharper than the ends of jagged rocks;
I want to wash out this damned spot
from my life, but Lady Macbeth it
seems to be giving me some issues.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Greatest Show on Earth

by Bobbie Troy

the circus came to town
in 1793
hundreds of years
after the birth of Christ

the Greatest Show on Earth
Kyrie Eleison

in the midst of circus preparations:

a meditation
among roustabouts
before setting up the tent
for the big event

a conversation
between two people
in the same act:
don’t go up
the wire’s not safe
it doesn’t matter
i’ve found what i want

and just before she fell
he saw that her eyes
were filled with relics

the Greatest Show on Earth
Kyrie Eleison

Chasing That High

by Chris Butler

I’ve been
chasing that high
for such
a long time,

like a dog
dizzyingly following
its stubby nub
of a snipped tail
in circles
until it burrows
into the earth,

that I’ve
what that high
ever felt like. 


by Randall Rogers

I tired
than half
    way through.

And the work
hate to say
more than
beyond genius.

The Night Players

by Kevin Ridgeway

darkness descends early
on autumn streets,
dim lights echo
from window to window
the players on the stage are
met to the wind’s fanfare,
dead leaves dancing in front of their
eyes marking their outdoor disguises
as they gather aluminum and glass
from the trash, Waiting for Godot
purgatory transcribed into one sentence
obscenities whispered breathlessly
across flannel chests chins drooped
inward looking down for fortune
that is hidden and scattered
across the bedroom neighborhood
and no where beneath the
spotlights of the street lamps
the daylight comes and the
shadow plays end for another
twelve hours until more
sequels are born.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Casper the Basking Shark

by Sarah Louise Crewe

storm in the Port
the rain could break
a bone shark's neck

you wade in
200 tiny teeth -set on edge
skin hisses fissures from

lampreys cookiecutters
scan for a dock
a place to caaaaaaalm

but you rarely rest
jaw is a cavern
flash your three bar
grill at Baby Blue

raise a crescent moon tail
to omnipotent sky

i cannot believe that you came here
                                           to die

My Mother’s Birthplace

by Amit Parmessur

is where I’ve learnt the contours of Bhojpuri
from the lips of the old people spending their
day bowing to the soil and their crops.

O Crève Coeur, I have run with my brother
in your beautiful ginger fields.
Your ginger smell still haunts my fingers.

From grandma’s house, we have flown
a kite that could tickle your mountain trees.

I have laughed at the old man
who swims naked in your river, with
a couple of naughty cousins stealing his
funny clothes away while he is in the water

which flows proudly along
redolences of bananas.

I have played in cow dung and performed
long jump in your soft, reddish brown soil.
I have scored goals on your football
ground and won the
rural trophies of sincere friendship.

The scissors of my mind still cut
through your rustling sugar cane leaves to meet
the places where my once nimble feet
would play hide-and-seek with the
village boys, until the time of solemn stars.

I have also disobeyed and slipped into
the stable to caress the beard of an old goat.
I have gamboled with naked neck hens

and chased the domineering roosters, dropping
my heart in the heart of your heart
in the process.
O Crève Coeur you
are the adorable place I really come from.

joy snatched away

by Linda M. Crate

solemn child without a smile,
I know her well; I was her at
her age, laughter left me years
ago; the topography of a smile
is still hard for me to find; I
wax nostalgia for the conversation —
not because the moments fill me
with joy; those times already
seem to have been spent by someone else —
yet I’m the one that feels the weary
seep into my bones, the marrow
sucked out; I wonder which old woman
used up my reserves of mirth for her
own sick pleasure and left me here in
her straights of lonely moon silver eyes

Set in Stone

by Bryan Murphy

The King
 The fortress refracts the silent scorch of noon;
here below, warriors scream and kill.
The King cannot endure this fate for his men,
torn at the roots by a maelstrom of greed,
short lives halved in his service.
Yet fate wills the fortress be his.

It is done. He staggers among those excised
from self-awareness. Is he the only soul alive?
His eyes burn with sweat and blood, his own,
sinuses aflame with the stench of others.
He tastes vomit, spills it, drops to his knees.
The fortress is his. This cannot go on.

He prays. There is no answer. Duty
lifts him to his feet, forces them forward,
up the grassy knoll toward stone walls
untouched by mayhem, aloof
yet vanquished, one strong link
in the chain he would see set
around his neck before it is severed.

The sun slithers toward the mountain backdrop,
mutates into two cold orbs in a female face
that pierce him, halt his steps, tell him
all he wishes to hear: peace in his time,
abundance, fertility, his name blessed.
He knows her provenance; the price
seems trivial.

The Actor

Midsummer sun lays siege; inside the fortress walls,
damp chill inhabits every patch of shade.
Costumed bodies move between two seasons,
today’s future and tomorrow’s past: self and role.

Seeing is believing: the dungeon walls ooze,
set-lights dazzle. I cover my grief,
but let it show, at my adviser’s grisly death.
We are all entombed below the Alpine stone.

From indestructible ramparts, my brother
heralds my kingship over all I survey.
For this, I have traded my children’s souls
with the Underworld queen.

I wonder about driving conditions
back to the city as I renege on that deal.
Mayhem will follow.
(They should be okay.)

Sun sets into stone; we shoot and shoot.
Every man-jack of cast and crew gives all:
it’s only a B-movie, but it’s our B-movie.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Emperor is Afraid of Zhu Yufu

gathered by The Camel Saloon

Media sources report that Zhu Yufu, 58, a Chinese writer and democracy advocate, was charged with subversion in Hangzhou earlier this week for writing a poem urging citizens to gather in public squares and create a Jasmine Revolution.
The poem, titled “It’s Time” appears here and in translation by A. E.  Clark:



It’s time, people of China! It’s time.
The Square belongs to everyone.
With your own two feet
It’s time to head to the Square and make your choice.

It’s time, people of China! It’s time.
A song belongs to everyone.
From your own throat
It’s time to voice the song in your heart.

It’s time, people of China! It’s time.
China belongs to everyone.
Of your own will
It’s time to choose what China shall be.

The Camel urges all of its readers to learn more on the repression of Chinese poets. For starters, see:

Sources for literature and news of dissident China include Ragged Banner Press at and the Transparent Chinese Translator at

Poem and translation used by the generous permission of Andrew E. Clark.

Naming and Re-Naming

by Michael Ceraolo

I am looking at a map of the watershed:
on one,
            the creek and its various tributaries
are complete and unobstructed,
                                                as they were
before man went to work and live by them,
are blue and thick like the veins of weightlifter;
on the other,
                   the creek and its tributaries
                                                             are thinner,
something easily explained by different graphics,
the second map also has a second difference:
it shows the hand of man
that are culverted are not shown on this map,
stream sections that seem to go nowhere,
look like varicose veins to boot
                                               It's unlikely,
as long as people live here,
                                         that all
the buried sections will ever be unburied
(though some will):
                                they go
                                                          municipal buildings,
                                                                                        shopping malls,
Even without being completely free-flowing
some of the streams are claiming,
                                                   or re-claiming,
                                                                         their names
(The watershed itself has begun announcing its presence:
signs have started appearing on the watershed's edges
informing people they are now entering the watershed;
some signs are a bit inside the boundary,
this is a case of something being better than nothing)

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names:
"the Board promulgates official geographic feature names
with locative attributes"
"Any person or organization,
                                          public or private,
                                                                   may . . .
request the Board to render formal decisions on proposed names"

in October 2007 the city of Richmond Heights
(briefly called Claribel Village when it was culled
from Euclid township nearly a century ago,
the town fathers decided the name
                                                     :is effeminate
and is not appropriate or suitable for a municipal corporation")
sought to re-claim,
                                           the original names
given to five tributaries or branches,
names that had fallen into disuse
on March 13, 2008,
                              the Board approved the five names
(did the other two tributaries never have names to be re-claimed?)
Those five were:

                             East Branch,
12,000 feet of the creek contained in the city limits,
a name already informally in use;
obeying the geographic imperative;

                                                       Redstone Run,
"storm drainage from Richmond Town Square Mall"
"flows through a culvert under Richmond Road"
"into an open stream flowing northwest"
"into twin 58" x 60" culverts"
eventually into Euclid Creek
(length about 14,000 feet),
for the Berea sandstone of the Devonian,
also known as red sandstone,
frequently shortened to redstone;

                                                  Stevenson Brook,
"flows from a retention pond"
"and from storm sewers north of the Mall"
flows along one of the newer developments
"into a 91" x 58" oval culvert running north"
and eventually empties into the East Branch
(a length of 10,000 feet),
for the Stevenson family who came here,
from various places,
                              in 1837;

                                              Verbsky Creek,
"begins in farm ditches"
"flows westerly through a 42" culvert"
"then northerly through a scenic ravine"
"and through a 72" culvert under Highland Road"
                                                                       and then
meets up with the East Branch and flows into
Euclid Creek
(a total length of 6,000 feet),
for the Verbsky family who came here from Bohemia
in 1861,
             and operated a sawmill
and had vineyards on the west end of the city;

Claribel Creek,
"comes from a small retention pond"
"that collects a series of drainage ditches and storm sewers"
from the city of Highland Heights to the east
"flows north through a box culvert under Highland Road"
"then flows westerly in an open ditch"
flows past several City buildings,
           and then exits,
                                  a heavily-silted Mayfair Lake,
eventually empties into the East Branch
(length about 10,000 feet),
for the daughter of one of the first postmasters of the city
             unlike cities,
                                                    can be effeminate)

There are other tributaries in other cities
that have no formal names,
some may have informal names
                                                (I seem
to remember reading of a study of water quality
in a tributary called Meadowood Creek)
Some are marked as
Tributary to the West Branch
or Tributary to the East Branch;
others haven't even merited such generic designations
(naming a tributary Tributary
is like titling a poem Poem),
have culverted sections and flow through
similar landscapes as the named creek above
                                                                     Let's first
find names for all those unnamed branches,
let's put signage
                         (in the correct places)
                                                          broadcasting the names,
and then,
               wherever possible,
                                           let's work
toward restoring the streams to free-flowing form-------

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Cart Pusher at Wal-Mart

For my brother
by Zach Fishel

Struggling with
frozen gates and people who drive
while texting,
he pushes on.
Making due in the sleet,
downpours of misery in the small
town that only
equals dead end opportunities
except he
doesn’t get the benefits of
the Postal Service.
He gives a damn,
making sure people aren’t
trashing the lot
with their fast food wrappers
and commodities,
he doesn’t know hot water
tanks or gas bills
that exceed warmth.
He gives a damn,
like a priest celibately struggling
through a whorehouse.
One day when
he leaves that town,
he will take his work ethic
with him,
and nobody can take that
away as the carts
pile up
in parking spots like corners
of never
cleaned houses.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Postman’s New Mouth

by Robert Ridley-Shackleton

A chain to hold
The square together
To stop me falling out of myself.
The sun is beaming to the spine,
I watch in envy as I sit
Among an air of silver axes,
Only a postman for company.
He looks at me from down in his world
Even though were light years apart.
The axes hurt him to much
That he tells me to lift his arm.
I do so but it only makes things worse.
His stomach splits in half
And through the split,
Razor sharp teeth snarl,
His nipples become eyes
And he loses his mail.
I do what any bone would do,
I cuddle him
And send him off to sleep.


by Andrew Harrell

The few simple shapes that make a face.
Only a matter of perception.
Only a matter of existence.
I lied about reading your letter.


by Douglas Polk

As if I finally found a home,
between her legs,
She in my arms the only times,
my soul untroubled,
even though her eyes could look upon my soul,
yet after a time her ability to do so became uncomfortable,
I no longer wanted a home,
but would rather wander the world,
Free and alone.

Celestial Discharge

by Kevin Ridgeway

the angry sun
beats against parking lot tire streaks
that lead to the
linoleum, fluorescent hell
of a suburban emergency room
one person after another
wheeled back
into curtained rooms
semi conscious
the ripple effect
of injury and disease
rolling into
the fuming theater
of medical science
a man screams
as injections
are plunged
into every orifice
of his defecating
ruptured body
another man had
the post-holiday blues,
and leaped
from a freeway off ramp
dressed in his
Christmas presents
his skull caved in
and unthinking
the hawk nosed doctors,
the male nurses
admonishing doomed drunks
the flying man made his exit
from the world
"celestial discharge"
one doctor muttered
scribbling notes

the doomed man's
family will buy him
a new gift
a neatly wrapped
plot in the earth
or a stocking stuffer
cremation urn,
dust and teeth
rattling against tin

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


by Sarah E. White

He walks in with her
Defeated, deflated
Dragging his head low
It scrapes the asphalt
As he puts one foot in front of the other
Upon the asphalt
At least this feels real
Stinging his face
He wants to hide his tears
To collapse in a quiet release
In the defeat of surrender
A battle lost in silence
Fought by a brave man
Yet he walks in with her again
The same thing every other day
The focus is her, married to her mania
Surrounded by her selfish attempts
Wondering when she’ll succeed
When he won’t be able to save her
Every other day, he walks in
He sits, he waits
For her to recover
From her reality, or not
While he slowly withers
Patiently waiting for whatever happens
Waiting to begin a new day of his own
A day where he doesn't walk in with her
A day like tomorrow, which is his
Like it should be
Real doesn’t have to feel like scraping asphalt

66. Love That Has No Reasons

by Taufiq bin Abdul Khalid

Lock my heart in love for Thee
With love that has no reasons
So my mind can never sway me
With words all wise but treason.

Lock my heart in love for Thee
With love that has no seasons
So neither snow nor sun in spring
Will steal me from my Loving King.

Lock my heart in love for Thee
And chain me to Your Ocean
Throw away the prison key
And take away my freedom.

Lock my heart in love for Thee
And make my soul Your Garden
Plant in me Your Jasmine Tree
With roots that reach Your Ocean.

Lock my heart in love for Thee
With love to awe this heathen
Make AHAD my beating heart
And make Ahmad my passion.

Walking the Sugarloaf on a January morning

by Cath Barton

On the upward our hearts pump,
Feet squelch in mud,
Muscles contract in effort and sweat. Seeing us tramp past,

Sheep pause in their chewing
Bemused, then resume. Above it all our vision clears.
We catch the flail of the wind

And the savour of the day. We have walked the circuit,
The moon gate,
Hearts’ ease.

Editor's note:  (to visit the Sugarloaf, click here)

Ode to an Irish Bumm

For Caroline,
for the back of her sock drawer
by Eldon (Craig) Reishus

The road is nothing like the map.
The map shows a straight red line.
Yet here it is, the road,
half washed away by rains,
and the half left over hooks,
twists, jags, swipes,
bends, knuckles,
every wicked which way.

A drunken road engineered by a pickled brain.
And the map maker some pied mad hatter!

Inside of nine weeks
you went from my housemate slash
daughter to slash
sister to slash
lover to slash
slut fucking her least favorite son.

Your bumm as perfect as that narcotic afternoon
you improved upon timeless Keats:
Beauty aches to be truth, truth beauty.
And deep within my graspless self
I suffer to hold on to this
even as your right hook floors me (nearly).

Early the next AM,
striking out alone again,
rounding yet another bend –
beyond some man tossing sticks
into the daybreak for his dog –
I glimpse, blushing behind the glorious mist,
the spitting image of your bumm comely dewed with Irish parting.

Tá áilleacht sa bhóthar ólta
'is tá ciall íontach sa léarscáil chacach.
The drunken road is beautiful.
And the shite map makes brilliant sense.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

In the Dunes
After reading The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles

by Ray Sharp

2 a.m., 2-below, bivouacked downstairs
under the south window, adrift
in the dunes with Port and Kit.
We’re bouncing in the back of the truck
from El Ga’a to Sbâ , sirocco blown grains
of snow, typhoid fever death chill gale –
only one of us will return.
Down, down the deep well of night
paralyzed by the thought that
the sky hides the night behind it,
shelters the person beneath
from the horror that lies above.
Consulting Madame La Hiff’s Gypsy Dream Dictionary
waiting for a sign in the indolent heat.
Later – has it been minutes or weeks?
– the full moon breaks through the ground blizzard
like a midday Sahara sun. I wish I were
on the terrace of the Café d’Eckmühl-Noiseux
under the awning a-flap in the soft evening breeze
reading the maps, or on the surface
of the immaculate moon aloft
in the center of the sheltering sky.

I can see my breath

by Roger Butterfield

I will
Point to a Glorious Moon
That may not be
(T)here at all

And hope
That many friends will follow
My red fingers
At the sky.

Won’t Write You a Love Song

Linda M. Crate

you asked me to write you a
love song, but scoffed when

I reached for the pen, you
cut me with words jagged as

rocks so I could paint it in
blood, but I’ve always been

a substandard painter which
is embarrassing given my

uncle’s talent; the one I told
you about that passed away,

but you insist upon me doing
this, demand it, as if all your

joy depends on this appendage
of words that remains in the

valley of things not constructed —
I decided it was time to cut you

loose; I will not sacrifice every
thing I have for someone that

never cared about me to begin
with, choke on your arsenic lilts;

you won’t wilt my lilies anymore —
you have no power over me now.


by Stephen Jarrell Williams

Too much magic in the mess we've created...

Multiple paintings
far reaching
shore to shore, cities to walls

our click clicking thousands

hordes roaming
mad in our dreams,

changing our style

we can't stop the flood
lightning jagged in the night
rumblings of thunder shaking windowpane
glass breaking us awake,

who's there?
the loud quiet in our ears
leaking linseed oil,

sitting up in our beds
we're a tribe of selling artists

paint brushes and pencils under our pillows

we're miles from the sea
sketching nudes in waves
tying down the sexy ones with wet sheets in the sand,

moon warm
pastel skin
gleaming highlights on an endless canvas,

we never finish night after night
assembly line
rain dripping
sometimes smearing our best lines drawn,

the sun's spotlight showing our tricks of living forever
in the paint.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

blues for Janus

by Jack T. Marlowe

a bare bulb
lends its im-
light to the
work of

hands on
the grave-
yard shift
the shift
key, they

type an
for yet
that has

the usual
medley of
nods and
rated by
in lieu of

a paper to
file away
and a new
year to
face, they

pop the
cork of

a new
half full
of mis-


by Savannah Stuitje

I liked you because you were the ken doll I wanted when I was little.
People say we marry our fathers, but it’s not true, we marry the
people that fit into the dry cleaners bag of the life we think we
want. We grow up and grow out our bangs and learn to drive but we
never leave the past behind us no matter how we fill out. You reminded
me of tan lines and cheerleader skirts and prom dresses, stereotypes
no one is supposed to want. We came together at the stroke of twelve
like cake batter mixing. Mellowed out and willing to ride out any wave
that came at us simply because our schedules needed filling. Maybe if
we hadn’t found each other so quickly, it wouldn’t have gotten boring
so fast. Basking in your rays I could feel the heat of jealous eyes
sliding over me and maybe even leaving something different behind, the
most gorgeous tan. My ken doll, holding your plastic hand in the
hallway, the accessories you came with, cars and acknowledgments,
chocolate on Valentines Day. It’s too bad you didn’t come with a
matching heart and voice box too, but what can you expect from mass
produced perfection? It’s hard to come home to someone that isn’t home
but I wonder who stopped showing up first? You, with all your other
plans, or me, who always figured it was too good to be true.

Joan of Arc

by Daniel Wilcox

of Arc
on the deluge
of history to us,
feminine ‘noahing’
opening up a window
to heaven
i don’t
no, Joan,

*Reverse of Miguel Unamuno’s infamous
statement in The Tragic Sense of Life that
a sword is like a cross

The Tender Years

by Cynthia Ruth Lewis

I've been told
that I'm far too intense about things;
that I'm much too negative, bitter
and cynical regarding people, situations
and life in general
they say
it's a shame to view everything in a bad light,
to always be doubtful of outcomes,
expecting only the worst
they tell me
to attempt putting things
in a different perspective;
try looking at the world
through the eyes of a child
I tell them
that depends on the child

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Dissatisfied Mirror

by Glenn Cooper

A mirror grew dissatisfied with its human.    
Another mirror said, a man cannot help his own reflection.    
That may be so, the dissatisfied mirror said, but nor can I help the desire for something more.    
If you break your human you will endure seven years bad luck.    
Who said anything about breaking him?     
It’s in your tone.    
I think the silent treatment should more than suffice …

Hand-Powered Ventilators

by KJ Hannah Greenberg

Hand-powered ventilators, like so many geese chased from corporate lawns, or
Comparable to planograms’ incipient arguments for placing housewares near hosiery,
Seem to exist for purposes suiting the parvenu best.

City parks, chess sets, sandboxes, feral dogs, share contentions, plus lice. Otherwise
They occupy crossing guards, eyes fixed on whirling lights, least lucidity interrupt clerks’
Orders of eschbeche alongside “Freedom Fries.”

Sibilant law makers frequent bondage appointments, act insane when named, whine
For hot spots’ provision of antimony runcibles, horns borrowed from goats, also tails
Used to dress down rascals intent on taking money from the critically ill.

Overheard in the Shop Rite Parking Lot

by Annmarie Lockhart

We laughed when I bit you,
remember? Joking about
taking that to your Puerto
Rican girlfriend in the Bronx.
I said no bitch is stupid
enough to mess with
you once she sees the
marks I put there.
Do you remember?

She was sitting in her car,
windows half-closed, the pitch
of her voice carried across two
empty spots and the street
light shone on her flayed heart
pulsing in sync with her sobs.

I didn't know she was real.
I was teasing, didn't believe
you could do that to me.
And you have the balls
to tell me it wasn't even
some cute girl in the Bronx
but some horsey side of beef
way up in some New England
bullshit? Are you fucking for real?

I could not hear the sorry words
of her errant man on the other side
of the shaking phone. She gagged,
covered her mouth. I saw red
nail polish chipped and glittered,
blue eyes drowning. I tried to look
away, to listen to Jingle Bell Rock
on the radio, but her wrecked
voice could have been my own,
her wild hands clawing through
the ice and hurt to rescue
my own bruised heart.


by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal

I stood beside the dead man.
He did not know he was dead.
I could not hear him talk.
He did not know he was dead.
A little girl in braids held his hand
and this comforted him. This
was one of my strange dreams.
Last week I dreamt I was a fish.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Paper Chaser

by Sarah Gamutan

They wake up by their selves and
pull one another from their pale cozy
beds. They jump off the wooden chairs
and start to impress us with their faces as
they start to light the room which was left
by its owners two scores ago. They turn their
heads to the window and rhythmically throb
the glass screens and start to rip their thin bodies

as if they are nothing but a paper. At first, I
appear like a fairy and slyly slap their red faces;
yet, they uncontrollably cut their skins like they
are not at all torn. In fact, they only light a cigar in
a hot summer night with some fellow wee papers,
drink beers, talk their own paper language and cry
until they melt their fragile skins. They insist their skin
is made of gold- though they are lethal. These creatures
brag that they live rarely but barely find their counterpart.


by Summer Qabazard

I’m scared of this dark
in blood cells
in space
in skulls
felt it flutter

I’ve seen the base of it
its taproot
wire bone
stone gray

trunk grows
around grave

I grow a foot
hold it to the ground
I’ve known it struggle
pathetic wing-pinned
flailing, flapping

smoke snakes in breaths
turning tones of ash
of such force, a storm

even in darkness
want shadows

I have to

“How do I get to Elm?”

by Joseph Hargraves

A thin, black-haired, blue-eyed
girl stopped me on
High and Main Streets.
She asked me “How
Do I get to Elm?” Because I say
whatever pops into my mind
I told her I once stabbed
a guy on Elm because he
called me a “faggot.”
I explained how easily
the knife entered
up under his rib-cage.
She asked: “How
do I get to Elm?
I told her I would
exchange good directions
for her phone number.
She wrote “Becky: 327-9553.”
When I got home
I dialed knowing
she gave me the number
to Luigi’s Pizza Parlor.
The phone rang and
a sweet voice said:
“Hi Joe, this is Becky
I was hoping you’d call.”

Always remember:
People are unpredictable.

The Reason That Drunks Dont Recycle

by Jenny Catlin

Humiliation, morning seven am embarrassment.
The clanking of cans
chirping clank, too many bottles compete for space.
Hang dog slide down the fire escape. gotta wait. for the right moment
No neighbors in the hall
smiling maintenance guy. judgment eyes
party in a one room apartment, 105 no ones invited!
Clink clang click…nothing good ever comes in or goes out in a black bag.
Porn and booze and bodies.
Space out the symphony with folded pizza boxes.
Sunday morning functioning, the church bells of shame
But Wednesday, that’s another thing entirely.
Rock paper scissors, who gets the job? Three days a week of pile up and stock up
Gotta go.
Gotta go down all five flights no matter how careful the tip toe
The side step
Still the shame-siren wails in the parking lot
Neighbor’s pit bull head cock. No chicken bones, or other forbidden goodies.
No food for days, just bang-smash the bottles and cans…I can identify the brand
the sound of opening, parlor trick in a parlor-less walk up…but still.
the old woman who swims the dumpster for these lost fortunes
one more guilty verdict for her jackpot.
Think about global warming, the trash island.
Guilty gap mouthed purple plastic is giving me the eye again,
While I feed it’s too full neighbor up with all that broken music.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Redheads With A Guarantee

by Richard Hartwell

Received the call at school,
called from the classroom
with a P.E. teacher to cover;
said it was an emergency call
from my wife; had to answer.

Took it in the library, publicly,
surrounded by young literature,
out-of-date encyclopedias, old
card catalogues, and wood tables;
“Royal’s dead,” she said. “What?!”

“Royal’s dead,” she repeated,
adding that he hanged himself.
She said hung, but the teacher
had to correct her; stupid to do it,
the hanging too, and she grew angry.

Later, when reaching his sister,
learned that their younger brother
found Royal hanging in his closet
after the weekend when he didn’t
show up for the graveyard shift.

He’d kicked over a chair, but had
not broken his neck, only strangled
slowly with lots of time to think
about the last time his wife left him,
taking the kid and his truck with only

eight payments left, on the truck,
many left yet on his young son;
asked, “Did you call his wife?” in
innocence; “That red-headed bitch
hung up when she heard my voice,”

his sister told me; that’s right,
recalling, his wife was a redhead
just as he is, was, had been, his
kid too; that’s how he found her, a
website to match and join gingers.

They guaranteed compatibility;
Royal’s still waiting for a refund.

Gum Chewing Not Allowed

by Annmarie Lockhart

I don't like gum chewing
you said
Yeah, well I don't like
being overlooked
I replied

We pondered these
limitations, wondered
what they meant

I will make you feel safe
you said
Yes, and I will make
you feel strong
I replied

And so negotiations began
and preliminary terms
were struck

I added
a monitoring clause
that wouldn't pass review

and the unseasonable storm
wound down, sunshine through snow
flakes, light, heat, bed, bear

and I wondered why any woman
would ever consent to a man
who didn't love her hair

The Beauty Part

by Robert R. Bell

Older and uglier by the day
…and damn proud of it.
Life has done this to me
… and damn sure of it.
Not important what you see here.
Everything needed is out there.
Plastic, silicon, dye, and ink.
But rotting corpses will always stink.
Spending fortunes to make a change.
All of these parts we can rearrange.
Before long you won’t need to wonder.
Resembling neighbors six feet under.
The truth was there from the start
…and that’s the beauty part.

Hopeless Romantic

by Chris Butler

I write her love letters
without a signature,

while falling for her
on tendon bended knee

after tripping over
my stuttering words,

as I present flowers
to grim reapers,

sing love songs
with my one man band,

and offer rings
to quadriplegic mistresses,

by proposing engagements
for dates set by fate.

I’m a hopeless romantic
claiming to be a poet. 

After the Fall

by Sarah E. White

My own personal apocalypse
Losing all power
All control that I thought I had
Metaphorically and physically
My mind and my reality
Colliding in perfect unison
Dancing dangerously close to crazy
Spinning like a top
Twirling off this hard wooden table
Spinning into a collision carefully predetermined long ago
By someone other than me
I have watched my life, like that top
Shoot off sideways
I never really realized that the table was that tall
Or that the distance to the floor was that great
I am now mesmerized by the reality that I am about to collide with
My own aching truth
Stunned like that deer in those damn headlights
Then the crash
Then what?
What comes after that?
So I start to wonder as I lazily plummet
Is there anything after this fall?
Could this really be the ultimate of ends?
I hope for a new beginning
I hope, as I fall
As I spin straight off the edge
Straight off the end
Cataclysm or clarity await

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal

I wake up with tired eyes.
The morning light blinds me.
I shut all the doors and all
the windows and return home.
I fall back into bed to rest
my tired eyes. The world can
wait. I fear the light of day will
kill the little life I have inside.


by Brian Rosenberger

Her face hidden as is yours
turned away most likely not from shame,
but pleasure.
Her mouth swallowing your cock anonymously
The road sign in the background signals
a curve ahead.
I see only art.

The Open Air And Empty Spaces

by Michael Palmer

What time
this open door Her
buried eyes averted
bitter end

Small chance holds
when all else would have us running
fired from this

Stop pacing
Stop sulking
How long do we have
Not long enough

Bury this truth with your pride
beneath the tree in the yard with blossoms

and black
red again
shining white

This life will take us fighting against it

But they yet remain

Those hands
and fingers so bare and frosted
quite unusual
more real than the walls the open door
and air between alive with misdirection
a magician’s game
the truth yet hidden with each new telling
each fresh face
pulled down and turned away
pushed up and to the left of here

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Twenty Seconds with God

by Taufiq bin Abdul Khalid,

One - and I am undone,
Two - then I thought of You,
Three - I said that wanted to be free,
Four - so You showed me the door,
Five - I was born and I am alive,
Six - I was fooled by my ego's many tricks,
Seven - So I turn to You, yearning for heaven,
Eight - Wishing o' Lord that I was dead,
Nine - And You answered, "You will return to Me when it is time.."
Ten - To which I reply, "O' Lord... But when?"

One - "When the moth returns to the Sun."
Two - "When you cease to think only of you."
Three - "When you stop climbing the money tree."
Four - "When you come knocking on My door."
Five - "When you find the Prophet's honey in his bee hive."
Six - "When you can fast weeks upon weeks."
Seven - "When you look for Me and not My heaven."
Eight - "When you serve the living and honour the dead."
Nine - "When you learn to be kind..."
Ten - "...And remember Me in any circumstance."