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.

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.

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.

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.

 

 

ONE WAY WEST

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Excerpt from the novel Un passage vers l’Occident, by Didier Leclair, translated by Elaine Kennedy with Sheryl Curtis

The small fishing boat taking Africans to the coast of Spain was heaving in high waves. Each time the hull pounded the water, the passengers cried out in panic. None of them was used to being on a boat. For some, it was their first time out on the open water and they vowed it would be their last. Drenched with spray, they clung to their seats and the side of the boat, determined to set foot on Spanish soil. All seven were desperate to reach Europe and escape the poverty and fratricidal wars in their homelands. Some intended to stay in Spain; others hoped to go on to Italy, Germany, France or Belgium. Their final destinations varied, but their goal was the same—to flee to a rich country. Each of them had an infallible plan for disappearing into the night when they arrived. They would join an uncle or a brother who had already settled in the West. They knew the names of cities and streets, along with a few words in several European languages to help them find their way. The bolder ones even imagined meeting another African who would provide information, assistance or shelter. Yet all these schemes were no more than dreams until they managed to cross the Strait of Gibraltar. Their new life could not begin until they had completed this first leg of the journey across fifteen kilometres of water up to three hundred and fifty metres deep. Across a treacherous arm of the sea that can be smooth when it’s supposed to be rough and that can slam the cliffs when it seems to be calm. But then, this gateway to the Mediterranean separates Africa from Europe. A natural divide filled with age-old waters, it marks the boundary between two worlds of growing disparity: Western Europe, capable of providing for its citizens, and Africa, unable to meet the basic needs of the majority. This contrast, spawning envy and hatred, is mirrored in the rough and unpredictable waters of the strait. Continue reading ONE WAY WEST

BREAD AND SALT

Bread and Salt: What a Jewish Cemetery in Poland Taught Me about an Arab Cemetery in Israel

© Robert Brym (2014)

Department of Sociology                                                                                            University of Toronto                                                                             rbrym@chass.utoronto.ca

1977

On a wet spring morning, Marek drove southwest out of Warsaw toward my father’s hometown. During the two semesters he had spent as a postdoctoral student in Canada, he and his wife had rented the basement apartment of my parents’ house in Fredericton. My mother would periodically invite them upstairs for a meal, giving my father an opportunity to recount his youth in Poland and the war years in Russia. The two couples – one Jewish and in their mid-60s, the other Catholic and in their early 30s – liked each other, and when it came time for me to attend my first international conference, in Poland, I had little compunction about contacting Marek and asking him if he might be willing to drive me to Bodzanów, the little town 90 minutes outside Warsaw where my father lived until 1939. When I met Marek and his wife in their Stalin-era apartment bloc an hour before we set out on our trip, I saw immediately why my parents were so fond of them. They offered me bread and salt, a traditional Slavic welcome for a respected guest. Their intelligence and generosity of spirit shone.

Continue reading BREAD AND SALT

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

Sedalia, Missouri

Sedalia, Missouri

by
Jacob Potashnik

Winter, 1990. The walk from the hovercraft to the train station was short but left me wet and thoroughly chilled to the bone. The weather, a mix of wind and pelting rain and snow was an affront. On the quay for the train from Boulogne to Paris, Mr. Six/Four bent low and easily hoisted a limp sack of a young man out of a wheel chair and into his huge arms. A porter folded the chair and lead the way. A woman, grey-haired frail, thin, at least sixty-five, follows.

My seat was across the aisle from theirs and they were quick to smile and nod to me as they settled in. He who I had taken for a young man, was not a young man and his story was very clear. Forty, remarkably thick dark hair falling like a wave over his forehead, thin, gray, gleaming skin, Kaposi’s sarcoma, full blown AIDS.

At the first pass of the car snack service Six/Four ordered coffee.

“Teddy,” the woman stage whispered, “Will you look at that?”

It was the standard French train café filtre, a two stage plastic unit, hot water goes in the top, filtered coffee drains into the bottom. Six/Four was so pleased he was beaming but Teddy has seen it all before.

“Wait till you taste it,” he muttered, smiling gamely.

“Well, I never,” said the woman in admiration. “They make such a fuss.”

“Smells heavenly,” Six/Four agreed. “After the English stuff.”

Continue reading Sedalia, Missouri

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

by 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.

Nothing Will Suffice

Nothing Will Suffice

by Andre Narbonne

The Facebook notice follows the funeral in short order. Joan has just lost her husband, Bryce, and now the children she grew up with in a Northern Ontario mining town in the days before computers are back and posting pictures.

Is this my Joannie Crebb? My name is Marie Benoit. If you’re the right Joannie you’ll remember me as Marie Boutin. I’ve married into a new B. LOL. The kids from Balmerville have formed a group and we’d like you to join – if this is the right Joannie. Can you be the first hit on Google? We’re all so hard to find except Geoffrey. LOL. Always in jail.

She accepts the invitation: clicks “Join Group” and scrolls through their lives.

The pictures are curiously similar. The girls she ran with the last time she ran for the sheer pleasure of it have grown into chubbier versions of themselves. In the seventies they came across as daring but the daring didn’t take. They housewife – or trailer-wife, depending on the northerness of the mining town into which they’ve gravitated. They proud parent twenty-year-old children or they adoringly grandparent toddlers. Their Facebook walls are the record of a generation enamoured of fantasy to the point of being prosaic. They have little interest in current events but post daily on the afterlife. Aphorisms substitute for self-evaluation, conspiracies for politics.

Continue reading Nothing Will Suffice

Right of Way

Right of Way

by Kate Sheckler

Two wrongs don’t make a right. Words her mother repeated so often that Holly cannot think of them without hearing her mother’s tone, the inflection of superior wisdom shaping each rounded vowel and clipping the T at the end with decision and a sure knowledge of the meaning of those two words – wrong/right. For Holly, it’s a distinction that is never obvious, one that hides behind details each of which changes the picture suggesting options and alternative views, details that remind Holly of all the reasons things have turned out the way they have – so it is with indecision that she stands at this counter covered with melamine, cool, chipped, and engrained with grime. She considers the embedded pattern of grunge as if it holds an encoded message, some decisive statement that offers an opinion on this thing she is about to do. But the grub gray lines, set permanently in the textured surface, offer nothing, and she turns her attention to the papers waiting for a signature. Her signature. Holly Baxter nee Holly Meredith. The forms sit, flat and unobtrusive, yet still Holly can feel their pressure and bites her lip, wincing as the cut opens again with an additional tearing of the delicate skin. The salt metallic of blood on the tip of her tongue, she considers the papers once more. Black and white, they offer no middle ground.

Continue reading Right of Way

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.

Waiting

Waiting

by Kerri McCourt

Late at night, I am up devouring various adoption blogs. A woman posts a video of herself as she receives the first peek of her soon-to-be daughter. I watch, voyeuristically, as the woman views the photo on her computer screen, and simultaneously talks with her social worker via speaker phone.

Seeing the photo, the woman’s eyes light up. She places a hand over her heart, staring at the photograph. She narrows her eyes, tilts forward. She peers closer, and suddenly gasps.

“Are those penguins?”

Around the photograph is a decorative border of distinctive black and white birds.

“Yes, I think so,” comes the voice of the social worker.

“You don’t know what this means! Oh my goodness!” She turns, gesturing to a shelf behind her that holds numerous ornaments. “I’ve gathered penguins my whole life.”

Earlier in her blog entry, this woman had pondered: upon seeing this child chosen for her, would she know, feel it in her heart that the baby was hers? Penguins confirmed the verdict with a resounding yes.

I close the lap top and pick up my latest cross stitching project. Stitching centers me, passes time in a meditative way. Over the years, I stitched many designs: birds, flowers, landscapes. Many Christmases ago, I finished a stocking for my baby-to-be. It sits, unused, on a shelf in a closet filled with never worn clothes, waiting. Now I work on a ballerina, the most intricate of the pieces I’ve done. The kit contains many colors and hues, including metallic threads that catch the light, sparkle in the sunlight when it pours in the windows. In the stillness of the night, I thread the needle.

Continue reading Waiting

Little Light of Mine

Little Light of Mine

by Kerri McCourt

I am visiting my brother at his house. Tired, hurting, Jon rests in bed. Rain splatters against the bedroom window like messy tears. Mom’s here too. She sits on the edge of his bed. Absentmindedly, she picks at a cold crust of tuna melt left over on Jon’s plate, and pops a piece of cheese covered bread into her mouth.

“Look at me. I shouldn’t be eating this. I’m not hungry. Nibbling isn’t going to help me lose weight.” Light conversation is a facade, a cling to normalcy.

“You’re about to lose a hundred and sixty five pounds,” Jon says.

Snapshots of a shared childhood come into focus. Trips to the lake, games of hide and seek. Now, a brutal nightmare finds us. There’s nowhere to hide.

I am dedicated to Jon’s health; to loving, supporting, and spending precious time with him. Devotion is a burning torch. Simultaneously, it ignites an additional, deeply personal commitment. A long held desire flickers, illuminating more brightly than ever before. A leap of faith, an invitation to believe. To believe in the power of dreams, miracles, and hope. To believe in a future that holds all that and more.

Tomorrow is a smug assumption; there are people to embrace, dreams to fulfill. Here. Now. Priorities shift, instantly. The essential and important is seen anew, with sudden clarity.

A seed dropped into soil, takes root.

Continue reading Little Light of Mine

LISTENING TO THE DIVINE SHOUT BEFORE DRIVING AROUND THE FROGS THAT LEAVE THE LOAM

LISTENING TO THE DIVINE SHOUT BEFORE DRIVING AROUND THE FROGS THAT LEAVE THE LOAM

by Brian Michael Barbeito

 

I went to the place where the urban meets the rural and walked down sandy pathways to see ponds. The dusk was going to announce itself there. I had been trying to escape the day because the day had been a lurid artifact- too bright, too angled, and in point of fact, too new. I just needed to see the tree lines where the difficult storms had grown vexatious taken the leaves and branches ragged across tornado –like skies fluttering like a bat can seem to flutter. At the bottom of summits I watched the rocks grand and small. There was a great stillness, a preternatural quietude and so I, in turn, to honor such a natural silence, remained quiet. It wasn’t difficult as I was alone. I had the queer idea that some metaphysical presence might make itself known. Not a deva or sprite, no, nothing like that. And not a guardian angel or whispered message from the large Bur Oaks, Pines, or feral shrubs. Then what? To tell the truth, I did not and do not know. I just thought something might happen there. It did and it did not. I didn’t hear or see anything, and cannot tell a lie. But there was something in the silence. Maybe it is something they speak about in the perennial philosophy, if the perennial philosophy speaks anywhere of a silence that seems to shout the divine. It was. It was. It was. It was a grace that rang out from the quiet dusk pond by the crescive and verdant meandering path walls, from the thunder miles and miles away that did lightly erupt into the air across pregnant and warning cumulus, and from the dense thicket making a perimeter around the outside of the back of the water that sat still and stoically as a rooftop for the water spiders. I was grateful. I had not seen God A Person or a burning bush, but I had received through the agency of nature some calmness. That is how I felt after hearing the sum of the sound of the forest and water. Afterwards, it started to rain. I had to use my high beams or ‘Brights’ as some people used to call them. I noticed that the rain disturbs the frogs and they begin to come out to the roads, the one-lane highways I had to traverse. I tried to maneuver around them so as not to hurt even one. Difficult. I managed well enough. I was glad, even a bit heart-swept to arrive home.

Jonah, or My Whale

Jonah, or My Whale

by 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 Death at the Hands of

 A Death at the Hands of

by Meghan Rose Allen

“I don’t deserve this,” she might have said. “Do I?”

***

    They shot her in the head and buried her on the beach where the dunes meet the sand. Wrapped and weighted. I wasn’t there when they dug her up. Someone must have been. Someone must have found her. The Garda in Ireland or the army or a man walking a dog, a big dog as hairy as a Shetland pony, digging in the brown sand until it found something. A piece of plastic. A hand. I don’t know. I wasn’t there.

***

    Mary goes on the news.

“I don’t care,” she tells the newscaster, her accent muddled about from all those years in London and then Sydney and then Montreal. “They can retaliate all they want to. I saw who came to the door that night. Three of them had masks, but two didn’t. I saw and so did half the people on the estate. No one’s been willing to speak up for forty years. Fine then. I will. I’m only back here for one more week. Let them try.”

Mary says she will talk to the police, if they ask.

“No one in power wants to rehash all that, especially for some poor washerwoman from West Belfast,” Mary says. “Derailing all the good work that’s been done since then. I do understand. But in another way, they killed my mother. Why shouldn’t someone answer to that?”

***

    Mary calls my mobile from the cab driving her back from the studio.

“They’re going to shoot you too,” I say. “You know that.”

“It’s all a bluff,” Mary says. My phone crackles and I lose the connection. I never remember to the plug the damn thing in. I only have one because Mary insists. For emergencies.

    ***

Continue reading  A Death at the Hands of

A Series of Disjointed Images by Roxy Hearn

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

writing from the soul and the mind

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