Category Archives: POETRY

Tea and Symphony

 

Tea and Symphony

Marcia Goldberg

 

Give these poems a Third Symphony sound, Shostakovich.
I want a shrill whistle to shriek over a trestle
after the ending in each line with cargo of heavenly hooks
so majestic they’ll provide seduction for our Magic Kingdom family.
Call more folks to come right down, from Pakistan or India,
some city I’ve never seen, say Bombay, where the race for progeny
and feast of gluttony no less than the race for arms
has put us on the down-slide track Inside the seventh ring of an Inferno.
Shostakovich, here too, in the west, human traffic bleeds
all  over dreams we started at tea parties where we couldn’t guess
if nobody talks about limitations, sticks with banalities of short hauls,
pleasantries that connect lives envisioning no petroleum spills
blasting three hundred souls to a premature Eternity when unregulated
trains without night watchmen or brakes slam Into pubs after midnight.

Expose the hushed truths about battered women, sexually transmitted disease,
the psyche twisted by promiscuity, complicity in the talk talk arms race,
nuclear testing, dumping, stockpiling.  Wait!  That’s not even the short list.
Share first hand stories  of abortions, rape, incest, insanity, alcoholism,
indigenous people displaced, molested in their schools, and growing old,
turned away at the thrift store!  Mark drummed crescendos, clashing cymbals
to make a way to fix our world more energetic, and put a smile in here
because we have to laugh, want to think we’re rail hopping, tramp style,
Boxcar Berthas shrieking “It just ain’t good enough.”  Give us success

stories and dining cars, food stops, alternatives to beheadings, martial
evacuations, drone-driven air bombs and millions of refugees
helter-skelter starving, freezing, filthy without water.  Give us
our daily destinations to rejoice in what the Maker’s made
to avert stupid resentments—Shostakovich!—a better understanding
of the limits, generally, a better map before another train-full

gets that trapped feeling.  Let us hear the harrowing sounds of being stuck
in the chunnel under the English Channel and wake up!  Play asphyxiation
for our failure to recognize the sounds of false teas, illusionary teas,
mad tea parties forbidding travel to us, as indulgence for the rich.  We must go
if only in our heads! Bring back soft love!  Hard love like hard energy’s not
all that pays.  Bring the light clamoring lest we let misspent time bring us in cahoots
with terrorists out to finish us off with a dull thud.  Help us orchestrate
the truth in one woman’s Om to see her prayer to Mother Earth Mary Maimonides
is just another of the unnamed names of Hashem–What a girl! I’m thinking,
come down here, Girl, come look at us ride away on a bicycle
in the middle of a stronger challenge braced for such a situation, hoping
all the others who want to join may bring along the bison bone soup
and Turkey Tail Mushroom Tea to fight the cancer, shouting, “Freedom!
Freedom from catastrophe!”  as if the only breath we had left
after all-night arctic dancing that has steamed the lot of us, kettlelike,
might kick off a noisy protest against this learned, deliberate darkness.

I Call Your Name

I Call Your Name

Newton Smith

 

Before dawn I begin naming
the ten thousand things, one-
by-one, touching each with my mind
as they take their place in this world.
Orion, Cassiopeia, the moon hanging
like a scimitar over the horizon’s edge,
and the milky swoosh arching over,
all these find their places in the predawn sky.
Soon I call the crow out of the black nest
and the jay, blue against the rose light.
Then come the tall pines, needles and cones
and bark plates blackened from last year’s fire.
The soft whisper of the wind
rustling the dry oak leaves
and stirring the spiny holly
waken with the early light.
When the sun comes up, my words rush
to fill the land and space with forms,
lines, and shadows defining each thing
with its proper name and lineage.
Where are you in all these words?
I call your name to awake you
from the lures of the dark night.
I call your name. Come to me.

 

Dylan Thomas at the Whitehorse

IMG_0797Dylan Thomas at the Whitehorse

John Grey

We go there –
the Whitehorse –
to indulge ourselves
in the very same place
where Dylan Thomas claimed
to have knocked back
18 straight whiskies.

A lie of course.
In his shape,
half that amount
would have dropped him
like an uppercut.

But maybe
he scribbled some lines
on an napkin just like this one.
Or he farted and belched
and the stench hasn’t quite
removed itself from the cloistered air.

It’s romantic to suffer from
a fatty liver, swelling brain,
and gout and chest pains
and still summon up the bravado,
the fury, the fight,
to rouse, out of their
schoolmarm Keats and Wordsworth,
a couple of neophyte poets
who weren’t even born at the time.

We go there –
the Whitehorse –
celebrate the myth
as much as the reality –
a couple of beers each,
but so many more
to tell the folks back home.

Excavation

Õ
Õ

Excavation

Sophia Wolkowicz

 

At the bus stop where I wait, is a fenced off construction site
of what was once, an old age home.
Feel free to use the euphemism of your choice, however
wrecking balls and bulldozers are oblivious
to names given to brick structures.
In its place, a billboard advertisement gives promise to
‘sophisticated’ housing units going up
in prompt completion.
Feel free to name the development as you wish-
not that the previous building was worth saving:
Its darkened lobby was flanked with a caged parakeet, plastic hyacinths,
a paneled trough filled with dollar store tinsel, and, color marker displays heralding
upcoming festivities.
The residents who were still fortunate to totter by
my glass shielded bus shelter, would extend courtly greetings
in my direction.
They were mostly women, wearing print shift dresses and
the wispy curls of their hair, were hedged by parts.
For an assigned time, I had occasion to make acquaintance with them
in a designated basement craft room where
sunbeams and athletic shoes stole past the window view.
These participants had once been secretaries and engineers,
homemakers and teachers and by decades they
had arrived to this place to knead clay, grasp paintbrushes,
string beads and paste cut up images from magazines
to create forms that were remnants of what they did,
who they were or wished they would become.
It is said that artifacts can teach us about humanity.
Feel free to refer to a parallel existence as you wish, nonetheless
amidst the rubble of excavation, accidental discoveries
are sometimes made that converge with a valued culture.
Pools of water now collect in the crater landscape behind my stop.
The ripples reflect fast moving clouds and for a moment
I can see the previous dwellers gazing at the ponds with genuine delight.
Where I wait, there is no spot to record how it all looked beforehand-
about gentler souls and places that stand for home.

Charity Case

Charity Case

Howie Good

1

Swallowing a handful of pills solves every problem, although I didn’t necessarily want it that way. Nearby is another me that I can’t see but that sees me. It’s impossible when looking around not to imagine some prior tragedy, all the deserted cities the jungle overgrew. Whatever happened to the right to be lazy? I try to tell myself that if less is more, then nothing must be even more. A woman outside the Stop & Shop is collecting money in a can, her eyes like rusted bullet holes.

2

You look up from what you’re doing, interrupted by a chain of thunderstorms moving through the region, something that might mean something, broken people and animals, and the way they stand, and the trouble they get in. The wallpaper pattern repeats the image of a body hanging from a lamp post. It sounds horrifying, but that’s the idea. You and everyone else have begun to suffer the effects. Often eyes become red. So I press my eyes shut. This is wrong, I say and keep saying until my voice gives out.

3

A farmer and his wife, after their horse dies, want to carry machine guns so they can intimidate passing motorists. They go immediately to a lawyer. No skin off my ass. In the United States we have a curious relationship to death – a very crazy old man, unanchored by horizons, riding on a cloud beyond the beyond, where simple words look like galaxies.

4

Some years are bright and funky – and even reportedly saved a man’s life once. But she had a sad little funeral. It was rainy. It was all wrong. And I was thinking, God, she loved life so much, everything in the world, including the air. Like the Sufis say, “Life is a dream, and death is waking up.” Not that anyone will.

Source for #4: Allison Meier, “The Funeral of Artists” at <http://hyperallergic.com/179082/the-funerals-of-artists&gt;

Giuseppa’s wedding

Giuseppa’s wedding

Ilona Martonfi

It is said these are ancestors who come
during nissuin
– ceremony under a huppa
veiling of the bride

Hebrew blessing
recited for Giuseppa Mulè

here in this manor,
Baglio di Baarìa, Sicilia
gate of the winds –
slopes of Mount Catalfamo.

A mother-in-law’s secret family history
passed down over 500 years
the groom will present a gold ring

break a glass under his foot
left together alone in this chamber

skeletons around a bride
on a raised chair
the hóra circle folk dance

i morti –the dead
act out scenes from their lives:
weavers, potters, and dyers
blacksmiths and silver smiths

paint carob wood boxes,
boxes with two hinged gates:
duality of Crypto-Jewish life
on the inside a skeletal family
light a menorah on Friday night.

Sit shiva on a low stool
say the Mourner’s Kaddish prayer

Giuseppa’s eldest daughter
died of fever aged one.

Out of Place

Seurat Sunday on the LakeOut of Place

Kenneth P. Gurney

She kissed me a little less enthusiastically
than I wished for a Saturday night,
but her kiss’s voracity
would have been perfect for a Sunday
afternoon in a Seurat painting,
though her little black dress
would have been out of place
among the parasols
and the boats on the lake.

Gay Christians

Gay Christians

William Miller

 

Gay Christians parade
up Dauphine Street.

It’s a rainbow double
line: black, white, Cajun
with Indian blood.

A marching band,
bass drum and wild horns,
leads them all.

They mix gospel
with Cher and Lady Ga-Ga,
play their own
funky jazz.

Church people threaten
them with hell fire,
unless they repent
right here, right now …

They ignore their critics
as more people, far more,
clap and whistle for them.

A young guy shouts out.
“Was Jesus gay?”

His lover wraps his
arm around his neck,
kisses the boy
on top of his head.

But the question lingers
in the air …

The Bible never says
if Jesus was gay or straight.

He could have had
a boyfriend who went
with him to raise
the dead, heal
a passing leper …

They are dancing now,
joyful, silly, and saved
for all time.

Near Canal, the parade
starts to break up,
but one last bigot shouts:

“Jesus died for my sins
but not yours!”

Laughter is the reply,
though some wave as
if they knew the man—
the same God
made them all.

Danielle’s Dog Tags

Danielle’s Dog Tags

Ruth Z. Deming

 

A good postal team at the
19040 post office in
Hatboro, Pennsylvania, so-named
for the hats they made
in the American revolution
thousands perished but are
forgotten in this little town
no one’s ever heard of.

How quickly we forgive
the Brits, we slurp their
tea in fine Royal Albert
China, pinkies lifted

Danielle of the page boy
shining black hair I have
never seen at the post office
her short sleeved blue blouse
reveals a pair of jangling
dog tags upon her breast
A loved one, I am certain,
has died in one of our wars
most likely in the Afghan or Iraq
where we send our black men
to die instead of cherishing
these descendents of our
“peculiar institution” and
helping them become
architects or doctors or wealthy
entrepreneurs, it’s
only right

Danielle tells me
with a shy smile
her gleaming
teeth white as a
pearl necklace
that he is a victim
of another one of
America’s peculiar atrocities.
Her black brother was
shot
shot dead
by a sniper’s fire
not overseas
but here in Philadelphia
in what we call a
drive-by shooting
black turning on black,
cannibalization

“The worst day in my
mother’s life,” she smiles
her eyes brimming
like a river overflowing
Thirty-five. His whole life
before him. Danielle’s dog tags
clink together
a Hail Mary full of
grace, or
chimes on the old
clock tower tolling
twelve times
lest we forget
lest we forget.

Fishing in the Belly of the Whale

Humpback_whale_jumpingFishing in the Belly of the Whale

Joy Carter

I went fishing inside
the belly of a whale
just to see if I could find the bones
of a man one old book called Jonah
or the wreckage of the ship Ishmael sailed,
if he swallowed my religion,
if I could force him to vomit
his secrets of tomorrow, or yesterday
his sea stained eyes \\
so wise, so sad.
he held up the world and smiled so slow
I called him God,
he told me he saw the beginning,
the end too, and who was I
to call him Liar
while he lay beached, mouth wide
so I could fish in his belly,
old chair perched on his tongue
while he tasted the sand between my toes.

Said July to an August Afternoon

Said July to an August Afternoon

Joy Carter

“Did you know
You’re pretty?”
Said July to an
August afternoon,
Burnt umber in its skies
Bite in its air
Holding in autumn
Clinging to summer sun
No expectations
Of a flawless fourth of July
Or sweat mixed
With chlorine on your skin
Dandelions burned in those days
In Pentwater, Michigan
As the skies, the lakes
Dried away
Along with my skin
Still too white
From long winters
Whiteness turning to pink, to red
A flaming sun spot, dotted
With constellations
Across nose and cheekbones.

The Christians Arrived

The Christians Arrived

Michael Lee Johnson

Salvation Army and
the Christians arrived today,
Christmas, like every other Sunday morning
feed the homeless, chasing the rats from the bathroom,
basement, kicking the dead flies out of the corner spots
where the cat used to lounge-
clean the toilet bowl, a form of revival and resurrection.
I privately pastor to these desires though I myself am homeless.
I forgot what it’s like to be a poet of the cloth,
savior in street clothing with a warm home to blend into.
I watch them clamp the New Testament in one hand,
And pull a cancer stick out of the pocket with the other.
It’s all a matter of praising the Lord.
Everything is nonsense when you’re in a place where you don’t belong.
Even praying to Jesus from a dirty dusted pillow seems strange and bewildering.
Someday I will walk from this place and offer spare meals by myself to others;
feed the party in between the theology, the bingo of sins and salvation.
I forgot the taste of a Stromboli Sandwich with a six pack of Budweiser
with or without the Chicago Bears – it would make every Sunday a Salvation
Army holiday.
Today is a fairy creating miracles from the dust of the floor
multiplying fish and chips, baked ham, ribs with sauce Chi-Town type,
dark color of greens and veggies tip me to the Christian
clock on the wall peeking down on lost and unsaved.
I feel like a fragment.
A birth date the way again to begin, fragmented.
Pinto beans mixed with graffiti fingers,
Christians arrived on Christmas day-
they always do every Sunday morning.
I pastor to these desires.
It’s all a matter of praising the Lord.
The Christians arrived today.

St. Agnes Hospital Final Tableau

St. Agnes Hospital Final Tableau

Gerard Sarnat

“When I am laid, am laid in earth,
May my wrongs create
No trouble, no trouble in thy breast;
Remember me, remember me, but ah! forget my fate.
Remember me, but ah! forget my fate.”
— aria from Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas

My conference with Dad’s oncologist and infectious disease doc
goes as expected: Nothing suggests the sepsis which declared itself

is resolving. We reconcile not to further biopsy his medicalized life,

what to stop, what to begin to diminish pain, make breathing easier.
Brother-in-law inserted next to my wife — we shapeshift, share roles

seeing Poppy through. At the helm of the bed, I channel how to lean in,

lay on hands, where to kiss, when to cry, back off, exhort, forgive, let go.
MD finger on MD wrist, his pulse slowing, I guide Daddy’s journey

then posit everyone but my sister head out. She says to me,

“Gerry, you’re the overpriced doctor, so remove his nasal prongs.”
Just wanting to be a Father’s dutiful son, fingering

the room’s wondrous but alien crucifix, I try to hedge,

“Why don’t you check at the nursing station first?” Unmoved,
Sis counters, “Let’s take off the oxygen together.” We strip tape

from Pa’s mottled forehead. Other tasks fall to me — cut off

DNR bracelets. Shave. Change his gown. Detach paraphernalia,
daub his cheek. Wheel Mother in for last time alone. Regather.

Breakup Haiku

Breakup Haiku

Virginie Colline

the intimate words
they should or shouldn’t have heard
the lessons they learn

nothing specific
a minor change in the air
her phantom has left

yet another tear
cracking the rosy façade
demolition ball

suitcase on the mat
his own tabula rasa
in the nascent sun

Girl in “hygge” refugee hut

Crackling_Fire

Girl in “hygge” refugee hut

Ilona Martonfi

In the mountains on the
other side of a fjord
winter solstice, 60 degrees north,
where the sun sets before four
one room timber cabin, attic loft
Magyar refugee family from Budapest

what’s hygge about grandmother’s
homemade lingonberry compote?

hygge at Yuletime
it sounds like “hYOOguh
–it’s even harder to translate
now that we have a name for it
–warmth, togetherness, family
and in the Nordic darkness unaware
five children, four girls and one boy
we’re hygge’ing right now
around an oak table for a meal:
spiced meatballs. Potatoes, carrots and cabbage.
For all of you to cuddle around the woodstove
on a December evening.
Ah, så koselig –so cozy.

Laced ankle boots, wool mittens
tobogganing on a snowy hill

tucked under sheepskin,
sipping tin cup of hot cocoa,
hygge by curling up on a bench
with a fairy tale book
mother brought from the old country,

teddy bear, a rocking horse
the glow of a log fire

spruce bright with white candles.

 

 

The Once That Was

The Once That Was

Joe Renzler

Your smile
Slit my throat
From ear to ear

The time it took
Was the brief forever
Of a child on a swing

Just a tick
Not even a tock.

I’ll never feel the joy
Of sadness again.

The fairy tales have sprouted wings
Their pages blind as kites
They now wander among daylight’s invisible stars

As darkness descends with its burning lights
I sit in the slow rush of traffic
From inside my car
The rain’s gallop sounds distant
While windshield wipers wave warily
As if sweeping the glass for mines.

 

*photo image: Wikimedia Commons

The Good Air of Buenos Aires

The Good Air of Buenos Aires

 James F. Olwell

The waves of sun shine dance
upon the leaves, under the floss silk tree,
fall in the pond in the Japanese garden ,
given by the Japanese community
to commemorate it’s own founding.

The enormous Koi carp (goldfish) there,
perceiving movement upon the pink arched bridge,
arrive as a multi-colored mob, open mouthed,
Certain there will be food.

While the Plaza Allegmana
presents it’s park, perhaps,
in honor of whom it was permitted
to let in, to keep out.

Elsewhere, even the pigeons seem
to have isolated the weak.
You can recognize the unsleek,
over-scratching, immobilized
while they rot in the corner.

Little green mountains of bags
appear at end of day,
neat and clean upon the sidewalk
‘til they meet a small army
of families or young boys or men,
pregnant women, an inclusive world,
to pick through, pluck any edible
combine into a meal, no
assurance here for open mouths.

No country from which tourists come
gave a park or leafy garden
to honor the hungry, ill begotten,
disrespectable mobs of mouths, worthless
to the great buildings, as of Europe,
great avenues of eleven lanes of cars.
No, no country gave, neither here nor home,
—in honor of the hungry families,
nor Argentina neither that,
oh one of many, one of many,
let in Nazis, didn’t let in Jews.

 

 

photo: by Luis Argerich, Buenos Aires, licensed by Wikimedia Commons

In Passing

In Passing

Violet Neff-Helms

In the quiet moments when you pause above your books,

Lifting slowly your wine glass, casting back your looks at times now gone.

Watching firelight dancing shadows on the hardwood floor,

Smiling slyly, shaded eyelids, savoring Golden Never Mores.

Sifting like sand your memories where Time and Thought are kept,

Will you recall as I shall recall, or will you just forget.

A meeting of minds so long ago in a corner of this Earth,

A sharing of thought in passing there,

A moment of Peace and Mirth.

Brief as the breath of the living,

Quick as the flight of a dart,

I left with a smile and a memory,

You left with the wind and my heart.

She brings you down

DSCN0156

She brings you down

Louise Carson

She brings you down to her level,
splits with a flick.

Personally,
I don’t mind her house of moods.

Trumpets swell,
chocolate boxes rattle, full of shells.

Once you’re there, give up;
there won’t be any signals.

And what’s so funny about dipping your knife in tea,
when what you wanted was honey?

The fields begin to sheathe themselves

The fields begin to sheathe themselves

Louise Carson

The fields begin to sheathe themselves in some
soft metal underfoot as they ripen
into hardness. The air quiets. Except
for Christmas’ three-week hum, traffic thins.
Some life has left the earth, been driven down
and in. The metal spreads its silent hymn
that sings of hardship, night; of frozen beings,
their signals lost; records the broken keen
of almost dogs. They spread out as they run
for meat. Under the trees their lines bisect
the rabbits’ shorter curves. Life joins life:
gray fur, brown fur, metallic scent of blood.

Murmur

Murmur

by Jill Talbot

 

I have a heart murmur—they say

I’ve had it since birth, not to worry.

 

I’m afraid I have the same

off beat arrhythmia as you—

a beat no one can dance to—

 

awkward.

 

I tried to rid of your

crooked smile

but instead forgot

how to smile.

 

I tried to use reason

to put this off-beat-heartache-out—

damn straight.

I failed, again.

And again and again.

I didn’t even try to dance.

 

I don’t want to miss you

but it’s the only way to not

lose you completely.

 

Born with a murmur at St. Paul’s,

downtown,

a pink beaded bracelet.

 

And that was the end of the beginning—

until I got on my knees

and begged to have it back.

 

Again and again.

Beating, beating,

I missed you

again.

 

I missed you until

 

I could face a mirror,

beating harder,

I needed you.

MEETING THE ONE

MEETING THE ONE

by John Grey

 

So loneliness is an airless, colorless, dungeon

and nowhere drearier than in the heart,

with, as a food source, the worms at the base of the well,

slithered up by kiss-less lips.

 

And the joining up is what they will remember,

when they feel gratitude from all directions,

these young men marching hi full light,

chests swelled, arms reaching out.

 

Each one may have been a martyr to his ditch of darkness,

in the depths of a crevasse, in the shadows of the blind.

It could have been be a black hole maybe twenty miles deep,

with only the rats who occupy their minds.

 

And then there’s the one –

and that’s the last they’ll see of all that darkness.

For dungeons and wells, ditches and crevasses –

only the pit of a heart resembles these.

But press it soft against the breast of a lover

and shoot and explode, destroy and sabotage all dark places.

 

So here they all are, happier for being proudly selfish.

It’s a great day. It apologizes for the days not like this.

Jonah, or My Whale

Jonah, or My Whale

Sheryl Halpern

I used to think that

I could tell the whale

Where to go

That, joggled in damp

Krill-swarmed darkness

I was still prophet, brain

Heart of the problem

Now I know

The whale goes

where it wants to go

Up, down grey ocean wide

And takes me blind

My up is the whale’s up,

My dizzy down is the whale’s dive deep

My steady rocking its stilled sleep

Its long whistling songs

What I hear most

I cannot see, just feel

Despair on my fingers

I could be near shore

Or on far sea mountains

Who knows but whale

Who needs no prophet

Who heeds no call

From me, within

Its mucky ribbed walls

Of fleshy, warty well

Black black black

bleak always

Somewhere outside,

The bible goes on

And I’m not even cited,

buried alive in sea paragraphs

I cannot speak here

Or be heard out

over low moaning

I am whale, no

I am in whale and

Whale is all

Godot Asks For Directions

Godot Asks For Directions

by Steven Mayoff

 

 

a confusion of arrows pointing to bliss, damnation,

childhood, fortune, remorse…

 

he unfolds his map reads between

the creases fraying into nonexistence and stares

 

out at the world through a tear in the fabric of cartographic

nightmares where beyond the edges be

 

dragons guarding our most treasured

islands: an archipel-ego of biblical distortions and revisitations…

 

in a rare flash of insight he realizes he is naked and pushes

his head through a torn crease wearing

 

the map like a poncho smoothing down

the edges to keep them from flapping against the hot winded

 

changes of sameness… we are here as

they are there as he is everywhere in the lostness of not now

 

and it keeps getting later according to the pocket watch chained

around his neck being in servitude to

 

his own reclusive nature scribbled

in the margins of an appointment book taped to his inner thigh…

 

excuse me would you be so kind he practices in his not right

mind as those equally faceless as he

 

walk briskly by at the busy intersection of smart street and drive-by

boulevard… wetting a finger to the wind

 

he circles once like a dog and settles on

an oblique north easterly direction straight into a cul-de-sacreligious

 

signpost warning of his imminent arrival… pardon me would you be

so good he inquires of the neighbouring

 

hoodlums who strip him of watch, map,

appointment book and all notions of a redeemer who liveth in the

 

bloody heart bombs lobbed in migratory fashion toward a bloodred

sunset… sorry to bother but could

 

you direct he asks the operator before

the disconnected line hums through his circulatory estimations

 

of how long…

how long…

how long…

Breaking the Surface

Breaking the Surface

by Harry Rajchgot

 

I forgot to shave today

As if I do things for you

That do things for me

Independent yet

Held to you by thoughts

Lost musings buried in dissociation

Automatic

Until

Thinking what is there

Beneath a transparent broken surface

Not aware of you perhaps

In your subtlest touches

Until you are gone

They break through

Like whales sounding

IT’S A DOG’S WORLD

IT’S A DOG’S WORLD

by John Grey

Why shouldn’t I jump from the roof?

The evidence:

coffee spills, bills, talk radio, canned food, clichés.

As for the last of these,

I’m always either dog-tired or sick as a dog.

Not forgetting the dog-eat-dog world

and the sleeping dogs within me

that I tease too much,

and have no one else to blame

when they snarl and bite.

As Hank Williams once sang,

“I’m in the dog-house now.”

And yes, my face never varies from

“you look like somebody just shot your dog.”

Forget the coffee spills, the bills, the talk radio, the canned food

I’m a trembling mess of canine clichés.

So why shouldn’t I jump from the roof?

Ok, so it makes more sense to chase my tail.

Or sniff somebody’s butt.

Or drink out of the toilet

Or tree squirrels. Or bark at strangers.

But I’ve done all that. None of it helps.

Besides, it’s a very low roof on a very low one story home.

I can easily land on all fours.

It’s just a show after all.

And if that’s what the pretty bitch next door wants…

ADDICTION

ADDICTION

by John Grey

I despise habit,

these patterns that won’t let up; my body keeps doing everything

my brain warns it against;

I’m combining cough syrup with cheap vodka;

I’m floating like a butterfly

where butterflies don’t belong;

I’m having sex

with the kitchen floor

and my body is molasses sticky –

let’s not quibble –

it’s really molasses sex;

and now I’m drifting above myself,

looking down at ordinary life,

a superior being

on a Wednesday afternoon

in August;

and there goes my brain again,

repeating over and over,

it really is up to me;

but my body is oblivious –

for all the addition my mind invokes,

I’m down with the subtraction.

Your Situation

Your Situation

Blossom Thom

 

I don’t know your situation.

Are you too busy with someone else,

too happy in your solitude,

too long alone to see me here?

To hear what I have to say? Your words fall tangled

from your mouth,

crushing any meaning.

Hear me now.

Know that I speak the truth from

my heart.

If my dreams are not yours, they are still mine. I love

them and me, then you.

 

A Series of Disjointed Images

A Series of Disjointed Images

Roxy Hearn

I’m not sure how to say this.

I

My life consisted of a little green bundle

Of memories all rolled up into

One nicely packed joint.

And then I smoked it.

Through the dull haze I

Remember that it happened in chunks.

The time I lived in Nova Scotia, dancing

The lead in The Nutcracker and thinking

That it couldn’t get any better than this.

Realizing shortly after that perhaps I was right.

The time I lived in Toronto, knowing

What I wanted to do but not how

To do it. I trudged forward through the slush

Being heaped onto me

Accepting the wet socks for what they were.

Wet socks.

When I feel control slipping

Away I crawl into bed, sheets

Pulled up over my face. As

I lie there I look at my life backwards,

Examining every moment that led to

Each moment. What I did and

What I could have done.

But when I can no longer feel the words fall into order,

I rely on images that can barely express what

I am trying to say.

II

The cards can be stacked in

All the right places, and the

Unforeseen wind can still

Knock them over.

Through this muddled mess of

Cards I rebuild myself time and time

Again. Each time being careful to close

The window. To shut out the obtrusive breeze

That no number of bolts can hold

And will always find its way back in.

I search for the light though,

In hope that one day I will

Get it right. I know I

Have all the cards, even

Counted all fifty two, making sure.

The problem is in finding

That precarious balance

That I need. I crave.

When the frustration becomes too

Great, and at the end of the day

I am still left with a pile of

Mixed up numbers and faces

At my feet, I look for other

Ways to relieve the pressure.

A place where It’s okay to

Feel out of control.

Where I can allow myself to coast to the top,

And in that moment of suspension

Accept the fate that I caused,

Then fall.

Sometimes arms raised in elation.

Sometimes gripping the bar

White knuckled with fear.

Like that time I just said yes,

Rather than sitting there debating.

Instead, I packed my bags and was

On a plane the next morning,

Off to the island destination of

Rotan, Honduras, where I spent

A week with my feet in the sand.

But I digress.

While on these rides I can’t

Always control who is

Going to assume the seat

Next to me. These chance

Encounterings have the power to

Inflict change, start a watershed to

Whisk me into the next scene of my play.

It has been my experience

That these actors, without permission,

Simply write themselves in. Sometimes

(Rather always) they lack the Same sense

Of poetics that I myself prefer to

Weave, yet it provides a nice break

For the audience, just as the play

Starts to drag on.

And just when I think I’ve adjusted

To this change, and my writing has adapted

To their offbeat syntax, they quit.

Not even giving the customary

Two weeks notice.

III

And yet they were still there

No matter how brief.

So in my program

These extras take their

Credit:

The childhood sweetheart I’ll never see again.

The pot head I never could change.

The bad boy I never wanted to change.

The music man on top of that mountain.

The European who literally found me when I was lost.

The German whom I was forced to regret.

The jock I hate to love.

The Cabana boy under the stars.

The American boy under those same stars.

The friend who was there for it all.

They are only a small part of the

Stanza that make up my pieces.

Ink is expensive, after all.

And even when the theatre empties

The ballet continues.

For example:

I met a man last week

A faceless smudge from

Across the bar somehow

Standing out from the rest.

It starts with a point

That I’ve always needed to prove.

The competition I compete in

Alone.

So, High on the liquid cocaines

Pulsating steadily through me, I

Perform my well-oiled routine:

Starts with the eyes peeking out

From under long lashes.

Knees accidentally brush,

Lingering for the perfect

Amount of too long.

Head remains cocked

Quizzically, feigning Interest.

One suggestive bite

Of the lip later and

They are ready for

The grand finale.

But this time it didn’t work

The way it usually does.

This time it wasn’t feigned interest.

He had something to say.

Now I’m the one stuck.

He won. I lost.

Then one day he will be gone

Just like the rest of them.

And at that time

I’ll take a single moment

Erasing him from

My pages even though the grain

Of wood has already left

It’s print but I will continue

To scrub until the lead is

Only a phantom trace

And easy to ignore.

And then move on.

It’s usually for the best anyways,

I enjoy it while it lasts.

Besides, there is always another one

More than willing to take his place.

IV

I say this not to brag,

But to set in ink the girl

That I am today

Or yesterday

Because I do not know

Where she is going to be

In a year, or if I’ll miss her

When she’s gone.

V

For now, I suppose, I will continue

On my way,

Noting that the faster I walk

The more important the

Thing I have to do becomes.

That’s what it’s all about

I think

Seeing how much stuff

I can get done

In this short amount

Of time that doesn’t

Feel all that short.

So until that time I will fill my

Rhyme with senseless boys and

Useless toys.

I’ll float from job

To job, traverse the

Waters, allow myself

To be seized by the

Passionate throws

Of opportunity.

Maybe start a family simply

Out of unadulterated boredom.

Worse comes to worse,

Maybe I did miscount

And will be

Forced to improvise.

Forced to handcraft

New cards just so I can finish

My masterpiece,

Move into my castle, and then

Promptly move away.

I’m pretty handy like

That anyways.

But back to the socks:

Socks which are wet defeat the purpose

Of wearing socks in the first place. Yet

At least they have a set purpose,

A predetermined point.

I never liked socks much anyways.

Photo by Harry Rajchgot, Museum of Modern Art, NYC, 2005