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,
                          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


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.

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
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.