Friday, May 1, 2015

Syrian belly dancer
to Basher al-Assad

by Amir Darwish

UN. Fountain of blood. Ready.
The stage is set for you.
You appear
Men clap
Hips examined, re-examined again and again.

Belly-dancing costume not too revealing!
They shout.
You take off a layer
Then another and another,
Not yet nude, but you will be soon.

Up you jump, landing in the fountain of blood.
SPLASH!
You splash the watching men,
Their tongues slide out, roaming over aces licking blood.
Unreachable spots lickable by others next to them.

They enjoy it.
‘Do it again, again,’ they chant.

Up you jump, landing more firmly.
SPLASH!
Blood flies, reaching glasses, faces, food.
Glasses are emptied, food is eaten, faces are licked.
Loud clapping.

Jump, land, splash
Jump, land, splash
Jump, land, splash
There is no more blood left in the fountain.
But they still ask for more.

That Woman

by Sowmya Aaryanmenon

I saw a woman once
barefoot, very brown,
red ribbons in her hair.
Her back bent.
Hiding a handful of silver spoons
under her half-torn clothes.
A woman like that has no shame
she must have stolen it
from the house she worked.
Some days she clutches fresh roses
under her arms
red, red roses.
Sometimes, paper napkins
stuffed inside her blouse
drenched by the sweat flowing
between her heaving breasts.

And I wish I could be that woman.
Shameless.
If only I could carry love like that

Sunday, March 29, 2015

can’t play pictures out here

by Mike Foldes

jorge focused on taking the same photographs over and over. different people who all looked the same. mangold said “we can't keep writing the same poem, painting the same picture, shooting the same photo…. you must get out and away and come back with fresh flowers and wet sand.

i think there’s some down that alley.” jorge went to search for wet sand and fresh flowers. mangold never saw him again. when he returned, jorge was a different person, unrecognizable. his work was different, too. he’d taken up guitar and composed music for it that turned rivers green, the sky red and mountains mauve. when he put away his instrument, the world he played in went dark. mangold said, “let’s go inside. you can’t play pictures out here.”

The Other Muse

Nancy Gauquier

This is not about Pegasus,
but about a dark horse
born without wings,
& banished to an island lost
in the mists of Atlantis,
not a horse born to the sun
and bright soft clouds that
will never grow pregnant
with rain, but a horse born
in the sweat of your pain,
when you are too whipped
by work, by a world that
has a God but no Goddess,
a world that worships
its mountains of gold,
but never remembers the
nightmares of its buried soul.

When you are so sick & tired
& faith has leaked out of the holes
in your dream, that one in which
you are always treading water,
& thirsty for one sip of love,
she is surrounded by ravens
who caw & shriek &
fan her with their dark wings,
shielding her from the burn
of the sun.

Though you once longed for Pegasus
to take you up into his wings,
it is no longer Pegasus
you cry out for, but
an estranged dark horse
shrouded in the dust of Sisyphus.
If you are lying exhausted
under some dead indefinable tree
on an island lost, you may open
the soft eyes of the fog to believe
she has always been there,
like a dark wave,
waiting.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Found

by Savannah Stuitje

Love is, Her.
It is the feeling in your chest
When she is dripping from the shower
Combing her hair with patient strokes
Blue eyes trained on the liver spotted mirror
As you lay sprawled on her bed
Watching the water drip down her skin and roll over her nipples
Down her stomach
Not quite flat, the hipbones curved maternal to hold
Like offered palms, the well of her
A birthmark beaded with water glossy and distended
Looks to you like a cluster of stars
And you know if you kissed her, she would taste sweet
Where the soap was smoothed over her belly and between her thighs
Removing a tangy musk that you have breathed in, head pressed to her warmth
Eyelashes fluttering
She is automatic in her routine
But you are transfixed by her breasts moving as she does
Her shoulders softly rounded and peppered with freckles
Shielding herself without conscious thought as she continues to brush her hair
And from the bedspread you take in the lines where her bathing suit protects her from the sun
Wet fabric you have tenderly peeled down,
To kiss cold skin slightly gritty with sand, salty and pale
As your fingers ran up the flesh of her calves
Feeling the prick of dark stubble

The intimacies of every day
Are in the blotched pink around her mouth
A cut healing raised on her tanned forearm
A towel slung unevenly
The frayed terrycloth damp

How she slips into your tee shirt, climbs onto the bed
Hands bracing at the old springs give to her weight
The droplets of water left in a trail on the white bleached sheet
Love is when she is stretched out beneath you
And her hands are in your hair
Still ropey from a day at the beach
And you know she wants you to clean up
That she’s wary of the grains on the soles of your feet that will cling to the old cracked linoleum and pressed wooden planks
But for now
She will let you lie against her
And the afternoon sun travel up your back
Warm and yellow
Her taste in your mouth

Seasons of the Ape

by John Pursch

Nylon captives creak
in thermogenic motor
hovel blister hiss
compaction rituals,
plugging matrimonial
defection sprints with
newly sweating
pontoon spins,
cycling wheezes
into mourning.

Minnows foment
religious hyperbole
by the sextant’s
lusty gleaming
intersection teeth,
hemming integument
with pinochle breath’s
lonesome punch line.

Eruptive sidearms
capsize in moaning
glaucous schisms,
clubbing for pale red
seasons of the ape.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Chiricahua December

by David Chorlton

Sparrows flash
between the junipers
while towhees rummage
in grass turned dry
and pale through which
a trail leads
up the slope. Snow
clings to the crevices
on canyon walls
above the jays
and sapsuckers busy
tapping and calling,
oak into oak; red cap;
blue wing; low sun
shining cool
through the evergreens.

*

A chill stands up
straight and runs
from an agave's root
through the stalk
to the gray light
carried on the morning
wind across level
ground that flows
into the foothills
to where a shrike
looks out from
a shiver
at the tip of a mesquite.

*

Winter's crooked bones
rise from the creek banks,
white against the oaks
and junipers filling
slowly with night. It begins
with the stream turning
water to sound
and moves up the mountain
until the peak fades,
the juncos have gone
from the leaves in the yard,
and the forest closes around
the white patch
on a flicker's back.

*

A woodpecker's tap
carries between the trees
with their arms full
of overnight snow
while conversation soaks
into the clouds
pressing low and cold
onto the road
and the ice
lining each stalk of grass.

Cordoba

by Simon Anton Nino Diego Baena

Everything becomes a painting of memories
as the vineyards tremble in the conflict
of song and silence. It seems I yearn
for the pearls of my lost archipelago—
the temple is a window of the mosque
and a door of the cathedral. Still I see
no horseman on the hill, not even the phantom
of Frederico, but Azahara exists
in my dreams, at least. Since I speak
for myself, I remain drunk in my own narrative
of loss. There in the east lies the river
of grief and in the west lies the garden
of Bacchanalian feasts. Here I became
more aware of the potential of death
and what it means to life. But of course
I hear the music of water coming
from the Gothic fountain, if only
it could cure my longing of maya birds
flying over a forest of bamboo trees.

The Prize

by Kelsey Bryan-Zwick

I had to explain to the surgeon
that I wanted to keep the metal
after it had been removed

It’s not that I wanted it
just knew that somehow
I had earned it, and couldn’t bare
to have it buried as biohazard waste
or in the ground before
and without me

This metal
bolts and washers
two thin rods
odd machined sculpture
bent to the curves
in the lean and slouch
of my posture
scaffolding to keep me
up-right, assembled
into and now out of
my muscled ribs

This collection of titanium bling
I will keep it with the other set
the stainless steel from the first surgery
that metal that I am allergic to, that
boiled and blistered
I have saved these             things
keep them in                      odd drawer

There are other relics
the neck braces, the x-rays
the wrist bands, cotton balls
Steri-Strips

It is the metal though that I must
clean methodically, soak in bleach
scrub with old toothbrush and rag
in my latex gloves, hold each piece
to the sun, see how it shines
in the light

I examine them
read the little
letters and numbers
imprinted in each
I will keep them
and maybe one day
melt them down

into a chalice                       for ceremony
into a vase                               for flowers
into an urn                                  for ashes
into a teapot                         for company

a paper weight                                charm
a music box                                   lullaby
a pair of scissors                               craft
a trophy                                            wins
counterfeit coins                             trade
a crown                                      glorifies
Eureka!

If like metals spill the same amount of water
from a filled container, the body must transcend
its own internal displacement in order to maintain
a sense of wholeness, the hard immovable part
of the self that will in all ways needs every spare caress

The metal that appears the contents
of junk-drawer, through process of osmosis
has absorbed an intrinsic quality, has become
something precious, to me the metal, now
externalized, clutched to my chest, creates
a kind of pressure, reversing its alchemy
until I am only grasping straw

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Breathing Room

by David Klein

Death can come
and if I’m ready I’ll have him
under the sheets or on an asphalt
bed on a summer roof Rihanna
blasting to the max over street noise
a mongrel choir
fierce and clamoring
no psalm
no hymn rising
just What Is
Happening

On the Q train into Brooklyn
heading home from work
among the piled bodies on the Ferryman’s raft,
a life’s work
tallied on a MetroCard
we’ll shoulder ourselves breathing room
and do our thing, baby
just wail away
while the corpses dangle from handrails,
plugged into their music with its hackneyed ecstasies

I’ll give death a run for his money
kiss him on the mouth
blow breath into him
clasp legs hard around his waist
and past the end of time
we’ll dance

Elusive Alchemist

by Laura Kaminski

I bought a guide to local
birds, thought I might learn
to recognize a feathered
phrase or two. It is
a rainbow codex, organized
by plumage, begins with
redwing blackbird’s flashy
epaulets, woodpeckers’ helmets,
then proceeds with cardinal-
and robin-red, works through
to shades of jays and bunting-
indigo.

But it cannot guide me
now, three hours after
midnight, searching in
the darkness for a fiddler
and his echo. I am far
beyond the limits
of the rainbow. I am out
without a flashlight
and the moonlight keeps
its secrets, it won’t reveal
sources, and I cannot see
the whippoorwill.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Dogma

by Michael Friedman

See the language on the sign
yield to its meaning and be blind
in momentary air, flying fish chased
by ravenous thugs out into the open.
Sailing, slapping, flapping
across the spit-shined floor. The one
you cannot cross without permission from management.

Cause effect the correlative pejorative.
Dare ye be devil among the chosen idea
wrongheaded in tow-away zone
Tire boot clasps your goat
pecked by popular demands in fish school
turn as one dart as another sea within a sea
among reefs clean picked by God knows what
caused warming globe cannot deny
or be in the company of Jesus or Homo erectus,
splattered dung from tongues beatified.
Stand alone and eyes removed one at a time
so you can watch the other go. Warning to those
who defy the even flow, the school weaving the reef,
the mode stands out from the mean. When tools and application
trump investigation. When immediacy is all that matters
and further study boarded up as we’re through here.
Quikrete half used and solidified in the bag
buried at the construction site.
Look into the sun and see what happens.
Pick at scabs and watch the pink tender skin heal
just the same. Lock step, quicksand, narrow purpose
razor thick

The Burning Bush

by Ralph Monday

I do not know your god filtered
through you, speaking tongues,
where you sit like a broken Roman
statue reciting Etruscan.
How can I know this spirit language
that is plucked from thought’s burning
bush? Ask, and I will give you a god,
a great Grecian urn, cracked, singed
black by the fires of dead dialects
that does not speak language of the
living. Run your tongue over its fissures,
taste the waters pooled in dry desert
oasis. Fill it with all the dross of your
years: anger toward mother, father, husband’s
suicide, intoxicated philosophies only you
can decipher, days of cum and roses, black
spots on the heart singed from a welder’s torch.
Mix it all together like a spell in a witch’s
cauldron, write that ink on a granite wall,
let the god tongue split you open through
an aria’s incantations. You will be no more
whole than the butchered underbelly of a sow.
All the gods long ago retreated to the sky
when they could no longer replace the faces
of women shivered by their dark tongues.
Words do not fill emptiness. Words make
the empty, the infinite void spoke into
being before the tongues came through you.

totem animal

by Joe Milford

as a child told of beasts
as a boy reading of beasts
as a boy being a beast
as a man killer of beasts
as a man eater of beasts
as a man maker of beasts
as a beast afraid of men
as a beast masked as a man
as a beast killed to mask beasts
as a beast becoming a man
as a man recalling ancient beasts
as a man a dying beast
as a man an archive of beasts
as a beast shedding a man’s skin
inside this skin a beast and a man
inside this skin the child taught by beasts
who exited the womb with those masks

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Dervish Your Hours

by D. Russel Micnhimer

We dance our beginnings forward
our future is behind us, following
us we cannot tell what it will be
when it catches up to us

Our past we see in front of us
we can see clearly what it has been
by keeping an eye on it if we are
alert we can learn

We are Janus perpetually cast
in the middle of time, gates open
and close to meet our gaze

Dervish your hours, you may have
more than it seems

Lines from Siddhartha

by Matt Morris

A ferry transported him
up the sacred stream.
He was fleeing from the self,

the agony of being
this incarnation.
Going into the forest,

into the oneness,
the river flowed everywhere,
singing & happy.  Listen,

the ferryman said.
Siddhartha listened.  He heard
the river laughing,

its thousand voices laughing.
The bird in his chest laughed too.

Spider

by Kelley Jean White

This diner is haunted. The waitress says the paper towel machine in the bathroom starts unwinding all by itself and more than once she’s felt a little tap on her behind as she bends over the sink.And it doesn’t surprise anyone, afterall June’s father Spider died right there at the grill. Massive heart attack. (They’re always massive aren’t they.) No one remembers his real name. Except June. But he was the cook here forty some years. Fast, a real flyer. And before that at The Bay. And the Shore. And the Sea View. He was good with his hands. Ask his second wife. Ask his third. Always building something.  And that bass fiddle. Those hands of his on the strings. More than an octave on a piano. And did you know he did clockwork? Fixed all those little springs and cogs? Built that fence out of gears and chains and bicycle wheels and pulleys and arrows all painted red and black and gold? He was a master. Arms, hands, everywhere.  Had at least a dozen arms. No one could move a job faster. Not even the quickest autumn wind.

Three Pigs and Wolf

by Laura Kaminski

Dreadlocks: Three young javalina, trotting line behind sow-mother, up the embankment, across the road, fast-moving. Born with all their hair full-length, short little hoofed haunches not yet grown into their hides. Strands hang down into the dust, rusty gray-brown and wiry black rodent dreadlocks, a row of escaping Rastafarian wigs.

Too North: Strange to see them this far north in land that has grown cherries and seen snow. Drive up slow and stop the Jeep, get out and stand exactly where they crossed, look down the crease they’ve left in the middle of the field, flat trail to match one worn by the Mexican wolf in the Phoenix Zoo.

First Wolf: He is a river of instinct carving a path to a soap-bubble sea held delicately in his mind. Perpetual walkabout, his trail a curving figure-eight, he never pauses or hesitates, never looks around or up or out. Wonder if he is pounding down the path to ease the way for the rest of the pack. He faces forward, never sees the ones behind him who follow single-file, each paw-pad placed exactly in the foot-falls of First Wolf.

Mobius: Perhaps, instead, he’s hay-wired late, wakes each evening, begins running, perpetually tries to catch up with his pack. He cannot see them. They move impossibly ahead each afternoon while he is sleeping.

Darwin: Contemplate the javalina strait, straight parting of the mountain grasses, half a mile. Fast, they’ve vanished into a scattering of rocks and juniper, fast. Fast like the wolf, and faster. Have a caricature vision, bearded Darwin, fraying track-suit, watching from the hill. He has a stop-watch timing laps, advises them to step it up, reminds they must clock it faster than a wolf-trot or their furry little bacon will not make the team.

Source: Gaze south, pick up the sweet dusty scent of pollen, follow it backward, trace the migratory river to its source. Wonder how many generations they have been running, these piglets, since they began south of the border, set off at the pop of a gun from some sun-drenched village. Mark mileage generations in the changing shades of green. Agave lime tequila grasshopper. Taste for salt.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

eye contact

by larry jones

the cop pulled me over
for speeding,
65 in a 45.

he whipped out his little flashlight
said,

"i'm going to look
into your eyes."

he was thinking about
writing a ticket

however,

he gazed a tad too deep.

"i'm letting you off
with a warning," he said.

works
every
time.

Normal

by Jennifer A. McGowan

It was the kind of
fukkit-what-hit-me,
who’s-driving-unlicenced-elephants-
at-this-hour day.
The sort where open
eyes are an affront,
and you realise that yesterday
you only shaved one armpit,
or one leg, or in fact
somehow dyed your leg hair.
And hungry.  So finding the ingredients
for pancakes; then having
the brilliant idea of something
to make them flame coz
it cooks off and anyway
it’s fun; serving them up
to have them leap and
take off your eyebrows, completely
ruining that thread job,
ah fukkit, they taste good,
and I look good in dark glasses.
That kind of a day.  Normal
since you’ve been here.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Day Go By

by Dario Jimenez

Joe did not know
he was going to die that very same Sunday.
In the morning
bought a blue Chevy, sedan.
For lunch
had a double cheese sandwich with beer
as he always did for his birthday
and sat in the porch
to watch the day go by.

Floating a Reunion Plan

by Todd Mercer

Dusty Springfield singing Son of a Preacher Man
inside the clock radio, between queens
in a two-queen special at the Ramada.
The day began with idol-smashing, smoothed
to ritual, to sacraments. It sweetened.
She said Let’s come back
after ten years. Future talk
is healthy for you. Clean up
whatever you’re predisposed to
muck-up repeatedly. Stop
serial stupidity. Don’t rip
head-boards from their moorings
out of enthusiasm. The desk clerk,
that jaded atheist, will smirk
and add sixty-nine bucks and tax
to the MasterCard. Before they split
he over-tips the maid. It’s justice
for the muss left. Dusty wraps the song,
the one that makes this woman
in the future wonder
what became of a pastor’s son, the one
who reached her, here.

Give and Take

by Miranda Stone

In sleep, the fight has left you.
Face slack, lips parted, you gasp
as if taken aback in your dream.
With sprawling limbs you encroach
upon my side of the bed. A wrist bone
prods my shoulder. A toe grazes my shin.

I press my palms against your ribs
and push. You roll across the dividing line,
the sheet gliding over your bare skin.
I marvel at the distance between us.
You have relinquished half a foot of space.
In sleep, you are the picture of compromise.
Awake, you refuse to concede a single inch.

Spectrum

by Kindra McDonald  
                                                                               
Black list, black board, black
tie, panthers, black sheep, magic black
and blue blood, blue streak, blue in

the face, blue laws, blue
collar, hair, blue plate special, agent
orange, blood orange winter

green, belt, green with envy,  green-eyed
monster tickled
pink movies, caught red

handed, seeing red, red cheeked,
alert, blood-red silver
screen, silver-tongue, silver

spoon, lining, silver fox,
quick brown nose, brown
sugar, derby, how now brown cow

yellow bellied coward, mellow
yellow man, white as a ghost, a sheet,
white supremacist, lie, white on rice

The Dodo’s Gone To Sleep

by Amit Parmessur

Each step up the staircase and each heartbeat brings
me closer to you, like a black magnet.
The only good I can do in this city’s emptiness
is to anticipate your squawk;
remember, when the sun sets, we’ll borrow wings
and fly into the night full of fast clouds.
Strumming my sitar I’ll watch over
your yellow feet, green beak and curly feathers,
with you preening in Wonderland.

Reaching the rooftop I meet only a ghost
as your name means fool. With each memory
of you I shed a cold tear. I go down.
The nuts in my hand, the seeds in my pockets
I wish to see you in my room and
fool the whole world, cracking jokes with you,
rolling on the ecstatic floor.
But the butterfly clock on the wall
whispers to me that you’ve gone to sleep
early today with the dogs and monkeys.

Vision

by Taylor Graham

Almost blind now,
he walks out under the night sky
that used to guide him through the dark
fields. The moon – closer
than it will ever be again in his lifetime;
bigger, brighter than he remembers;
a super-moon – is arcing into August,
peering down at him through oaks.
Above the house, a ghost-gold arrow.
Comet? It doesn’t move, but holds
its place as comets appear
to do, until like eyesight they’re gone.
And now the forward point extends
farther to the east, lengthening
its flight. What can this be?
He calls his wife, who gazes up to see
the TV antenna, vestigial skeleton,
almost prehistoric. Who has
a TV antenna on the roof anymore?
The old man has forgotten.
Moving above the oaks, finding gaps
to shine through, the moon
stretches that pale arrow farther
dimming as it grows, each instant,
older.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Do Thee Bidding

by Marc Carver

I see a man in a pin striped suit wearing a bowler hat
He has been crucified to a cross mid way through hailing a cab
and running for it
His legs are astride one arm in the air showing his expensive watch.
The other is lower behind him umbrella in hand
They are at ten to four
I can't see the nails but I hope they are rusty
The top arm is nailed below
the bottom arm above.
He is frozen
no expression on his face
stopped in motion
he will never get that cab home.

Farm Sale

by Robert Nisbet

The notice just gave details of acreage,
of arable and pasture. In The Journal’s later piece,
the interview, Owen’s phrases seemed to have halted
within him before they were written down. He simply said,
It wasn’t just a livelihood. He made some reference
to the obvious things, the shearing, branding,
calving, milking, the haymaking when cousins
and neighbours came, swigged brown ale from flagons
in the top of the barn as the heat built up.
But Owen did not mention, could not explain,
the one green image haunting him, those last few days:
the centuries’ clump of foliate oaks,
up by the main road, overhanging the milk stand,
the churns, the milk leaving for the creamery.

Islamic Greens

by Steph Walker

Islamic Green trees
– sick mottled eucalypts
burn against International Klein Blue sky

where dark nights cry
upon snaggletoothed pillars, wrecked by movement
and wind-torn gestures

prolonging, a tint of the past
fear of future:
blazing bright colour with cool degrees of difference

as satellites drift
and beach waves beach, biting and fermenting
along limiting shores

rich rations ripen
with hands that turn cards

the greenest, tartest apples
fracture amongst voices

the whitest of noises
as gravel rests on grass
with cold dust and sand-smoothed glass, once sharp

water lashing warm faces
the high-pitched wail, the sound of soil-wrung hands
ringing themselves

only in footprints
of the past could we recall
the moments before:

fractures, steps of elevation, falls

steps over swollen beaten country
borders running courses, running
from one end of the atlas
to the other

as broad dusty hands
stretch

hands stretch – over cards and hips,
the way you think of wings, shoulders
and jaws
as broad and powerful

a diversity of fear
mottled, grafted, fused like vines
the strain of wrists and fingers

feel this: a flutter of wings meeting
torn torsos
warm hearts beating

clawing young stems with course leaves floating
rising to the sun

not for Islamic Green vines
but for gloveless,
dirty hands, wrenching
in fracturing caress

soil rung hands, draped and wrenched
and clawed down,
swollen beating – beatless

beach waves beach
and bleary eyed satellites drift away
from wind-torn jetties that remain
toothless, motionless, beneath
International Klein Blue
sky

Learning to Touch

 by Marilyn Hammick

I stand and watch, minding
that everything is very hot.
With oven gloved hands
Grandma slides the cake tin
onto the kitchen table.

There's two minutes to go
but this oven cooks quick
The top is like the inside
of my satchel, its edges
sneak from the metal.

Good sign, she tells me,
and sniffs, that's cooked,
but                   she takes
my middle finger in her hand,
hover, press, release

you’re not ringing a door bell,
or poking your brother’s arm.
The depression rises, the surface
levels, the sponge is ready
for the cooling rack.

Map

by J. K. Durick              

Now we know the distances and begin
To measure the time we’ll spend;
This is the mother-lode, the raw
Materials of journeys, of visits, of
Getting away, of arriving there at last;

Its legend and lines, place names
And route numbers, the slight color
Variations to mark mountains and
Forests, various forms of water,
Rivers, lakes and the like, assure us,
Provide us with a plan to go on;

We unfold it, and then lay it out full
On the floor, on the kitchen table,
Draw a line with our eye, set up
The trip in our minds, imagine all
The turns and towns along the way,
The best places to stop for food, for
Gas, for just stretching, walking a bit;

Things like these can’t be left to chance,
We rarely just set out as if destinations
Didn’t matter, as if we were explorers
As if guidance wasn’t always available,

Instead we head out, catch 189, then 89
Heading east, call ahead for reservations,
Watch mile-markers and exit signs, and
Keep the map, folded just right, handy
Ready to consult, always ready to confirm
We are exactly where we need to be.

Monks in the Orchard Picking Peaches

by Donal Mahoney

Young monk
and old monk
in the orchard
picking peaches,
sunny and plump,
ready for canning.

Carrying bushels
to the wagon cart,
the young monk
asks the old monk
what to look out for
when growing old.

The old monk
pauses and says
not much.
Life stays the same
for the most part.
Monks work and pray
but an old monk
works slower and
prays faster.

But not to worry,
the old monk advises.
He admits he's
going deaf
but that's just
an inconvenience
since God uses
sign language.
Peaches like these
have no need to talk.

Rolling the Joy

by Tapeshwar Prasad Yadav

Sphere the morning light
Rolling through the hills
And wheeling the fields
Horn the buzz, chirping
And twittering the sequel
Swaying live the delight
Leaning golden rocks
And ocean waves dear

Wiping the fading grief
All spotless and clean
There comes jolly joy
Full of golden gleams
Bursting and thrusting
Pattering the ground
Propelling life rhythm

Mingle universal fraternity
With harmony blend
Distancing the enmity
In a bag full of tinkling coins
And storey skyscraper
Feeding the belly
With a pot full of jelly
Rolling towering joy!

Saul

by Michael D. Brown

surely my son not
my son in law, even if
I must hurl a javelin;
for what is the death
of one destined for my
crown, the end of
succession, my line
my heir, my son, my Jonathan;
surely one who killed ten thousand;
who skinned the foreskins;
who leveled Goliath,
needs no more honor,
no purple seat, or robe
but how to justify the
death of a hero,
a musician, a psalmist,
a would be future king
of Israel, a son in law.

Venus at the Drive-Thru'

by Stephanie D. Rogers

Her hand suspended
hung lazily from a
pearl pale arm

palm up
index out
not quite pointed
not quite crooked

disinterested
disengaged
detached

DeMilo's
lost appendage
awaiting tribute
or change

whichever
comes first

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Didn't Miss a Light

by Todd Mercer

Me and Ingenue
cross the distance of the city
on the surface roads. A couple blocks,
then stop, we roll
a couple blocks more.
This ain’t the speed round.
Don’t waste worry,
we’ll get there when
night falls from under-slung clouds,
while you tap your watch’s face
certain of superiority, while you vent
and stew, Ingenue and me
are living better, cataloging
truth on the ground you’ve missed
from the vantage of the
sometimes-efficient toll thruways.
We’re a mile out, in-bound,
humming with soul, seeing all
and blessing the details.

Even the Rainbow Tank’s Fish Saluted

by KJ Hannah Greenberg

Even the rainbow tank’s fish saluted,
As the secretary determined which,
Among languages, best suited
Environs, where civics, education,
Like so much fashioned violently
By a disgruntled minority (aided
With roads, healthcare, employment,
Hope, sustenance), altered relevance.

Every six months, the landlord collected,
No matter if young children’s toileting,
Or parents’ clear beverage cans silently
Witnessed intruders pry open windows’
Bars, cut door latches, abscond, disappear,
Carry away utensils, rugs, rings, computers,
Transform humble dwellings, structure new
Caravansaries for safehousing loutish men.

Draped in an ulster, Grandmother called
Quietly, assigning chores, classes, meals,
Forced political revenants to again dissolve,
To disband “community” broadcasts since
Tainted factotums composed rumors,
Networked citizens, planted falsehoods,
Drank up tears plus orbital motions, life;
Expectorated happiness, safety, gratitude.

Our captains sometimes misappropriated
The Holy Land’s reliable ingredients,
Invited outworlder bandits to capture,
To record, to film transpirate feelings.
Mistakenly, officials summoned “truths”
Beyond reason, vitriol-shaped stories,
Hurtful movies, bile-laden sound bites,
False, bitter, representations. Mendacities.

Never mattered whether media made sense.
Faith’s valuable raw properties advance us,
Bring constructs revealing universal blueprints,
The Almighty’s hand, heavenly master plans.
Immense earthen openings still engulf rebels,
Sort out lesser baddies with quick death by
Divine fire. There’s no consolation elsewhere;
Service to The Boss means enforcing limits.

General Strike anywhere matches
Funeral Ghat, Varanasi

by Miriam C. Jacobs and Unisa Asokan

                      A red box of matches,
                      a ten pound stick of butter,
                      a 20 pound sac of sugar, the river.
                      The body covered in yellow cloth, embroidered
                           with a gold pattern.

Down to the river we carry you,
by holy Ganges’ ghastly rush.  Bathers in sun
flame, at sunrise, rub their skins with ash,
press hands to foreheads dotted
with bright pigments, bend into water –
no waiting for a reason to let go.

                        Flies. More flies.
                        The family touches the skin of the dead
                             for the last time.

Here, to the ghats, we bear you on our shoulders –
bier tented in swaths of red,
tented in fire, hands pressed to your navel.
When we tilt you into the water, flame
rises from your open mouth like prayer – press
of current, chimera – rush of nothing you need.

                          The fire negotiates an exchange of light,
                               overnight.
                          A crew of the cremation caste sifts through
                               the ashes and remains.
                          Fingers find a wallet chain, a septum ring,
                               a flask of whiskey,
                          an anchor made of copper.

Holy city, where temples shoulder one another
under an ashy sky and bodies drift in the flood,
your mourners, idle now, lower hands,
stand and brush clay dust from trousers,
opening mouths to paper cones of puffed rice.
Holy water, holy river, carry me.  Let me go.

Hunting with Masai

by Charles Bane Jr

Dawn is spear and
shield and gun recklessly
left behind. We move in a
single line. Last night
they chased away a
missionary and we lay.
Mine is the god of the Hebrews
I explained, mountain born
like N'gai. He is not desirous
of you and only one
of mine has seen his face.
His mountain had boiled gravely
and he built a vessel of lava
rock for a climber overcome
to voyage fire home.

The Blue God

by Joan McNerney

The blue god
    is so strong
he can twist trees
with the tip of his tongue.

You better not defy him
              scream at him
              lie to him.
He'll explode and beat
      the hell out of you.

He lives on nothing
   will die for nothing
   makes us children
   shivering all night
   crying in empty winds
   turning our tears to ice.

The blue god
    is so strong
northern winds bow to his will.

He doesn't dig
           your moaning
           and groaning.
You better shut up or he'll
make mincemeat out of you.

He laughs at everything
has respect for nothing
makes us afraid to fight
when he spits in our faces
turning our tears to ice.

So we watch in silence
waiting for the coming light
when he will hold us
in his burning hands
and we will be born twice
    once by fire
    once by ice.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

WHAT THE SCHOOLS TEACH

by Vanessa Raney

So the secret
– what the schools teach –
is rolling the
meat with oil, fingers
wet, before
you slip it in, warm, the
pan covering.

The Illusionist

by BethAnn Caputo

Show me how you do that trick.
The one where the stars in your mouth
turn to black holes and lost to them are
my tongue and the words you are too afraid to hear me say.

Somewhere,
there is a perfect ending where I know exactly what you are thinking
and I am more sleight of mind than ever.
I have mastered this game of hide and seek
and can make things appear out of nowhere,
long after they have vanished.

I can dive head first
over
and over
and over again
into shallow waters that spell words like
mistake and forsaken
and float to the surface, unscathed.
I am not shackled or hanging upside down
drowning in a pool of dazed morning afters, silver linings
and obstacles like the New Jersey Turnpike
that make it hard to get to you.

Saw me in half before you go this time,
and take with you the parts of me
that can’t let go.