Sunday, December 30, 2012

Brackish Street

by Rachel Lauren
Telephone wires cast its web to all the hungry houses. Connecting us. I know them not by name but the way they live. There’s the blue balloon always been filled with helium two houses to the left. He occasionally passes a nod to the walking wallet tip toeing on debt. Who sleeps with the gold mine at one of his other houses so the damp rag he married can absorb more fallen tears, the two houses across the street. A lonely house falling apart from heartache rots in its grave to the right. I sometimes lurk along its walls following flies. They tell me secrets. “He chops off the heads of crows and harvests them for the winter to wear them on the tips of his fingers.” Who are these people that share the same brackish street name as me? Trapped in this web.


by Sarah E. Alderman

Sweetest slut-puppy in the whole litter
With green eyes that echo the ocean
Its depth and uncompromising loyalty
To anything that is named love or disguised as
Did I fall out of the box?
Your favorite crayon
Your favorite hue of blue-green
Waiting for you to turn me over in your hands
Until I have turned
Purple, black, red
All the colors of bruised and bleeding
I am no longer my own
You make me wonder if I ever was
I am not a chameleon
But I learn to turn shades
According to your mood swings
The heat of your palms melting
Off such naive and silly things
Like ambition, like identity
Who needs self awareness, confidence, esteem
When in the presence of a supernova
Filling the sky with your temper
Temperamental heat
Eruptions, explosions

Sculpting spine until it is fragile and brittle
Like the burnt-out wick of a candle
Or the husk of the tallest pine
That cannot bend with the wind
Only sway in place
And still your hot heavy hands
Move over me

Flowering nights

by Reena Prasad

An earthen lamp sits in smoky vigil
Dusk spreads beyond the courtyard tree
Burning incense sticks smolder
till they crumble into grey dust

Come home, the roses are sparkling wet
The dew-drenched lady
is quietly walking by.

Night glances in
through the creeper-draped glass
only to look away and ponder at large.

The Nishagandhi has bent
under the will of the rain
drizzling sweetness even in defeat.

Warm breaths hush the talkative bangles
but naughty anklets continue to smile and peep
Drops of water dot the cool, mud pitcher
Drops of water break into sweaty beads
Reality whispers but sleep cajoles.

Waiting for a bee to return back to me
Spring of my soul, I bloom no more
When darkness embraces my curled-up toes
a gentle need seeps through my inner whorls.

A bud in precocious bloom, a butterfly sensing doom
a moth settling for a vagrant hue
or am I the colour of a summer night
fading too soon?

Crushed jasmine buds dot a bridal bed
as a tender night falls into a scented dream.

Metallica Records Its Debut Album in Rochester, NY, May 1983

by Daniel M. Shapiro

The four horsemen flashed the lights
before techs could adjust
the white/black ratio of sky.
In this land of Chuck Mangione,
listening would seldom go easily.

A studio by the name of Music America
knelt behind a green sign with white letters:
The City of Rochester Welcomes You.
Peeling paint nodded its long-haired nod
at the whiplash-quick thrashers from the West.

Even boogaloos had to stutter-step,
cowering in the cool basement
of the 50-years-dead social club.
The drummer insisted his cymbals
rotated from the callused ghosts.

The sweater-vested man enlisted to engineer
had worked the counter at Music Lovers Shoppe,
collected sweaty bills for vinyl at retail price.
He would translate the band’s seek-and-destroy riffs
into the soundtrack of zits that couldn’t be hidden,

zits that shielded braces, speech mid-voice-change,
threadbare denim or faux leather a daily coin flip,
weed-burned fingers contorting into devil horns.
This would be a symphony for the front window,
an opus to unite the lonely at breakneck speed.

Six weeks later, the band would flee for anesthesia,
for all the gloom-free cities. The tightly gripped hammer
would give way to blood, jump in the fire midsummer
to go three times platinum, a discarded mirror
of shrugged-shouldered East Avenue clouds.

Mourning the lost poems of an unknown poet
Hurt- spoken to Vincent

by A.V. Koshy

i know, vincent
this one is going to be as raw as your later ones
and as bitter, angry and ugly
you know those friends, birds of the same feather
but they were not friends
and i would write poems
and poems after poems
and they would say silently
but you are not as good as the ones who write in malayalam
we are better
or the ones who write in usa or uk
or the ones who got prizes
or got published
or the great ones
and i would say nothing
write, read it out
to a few
who would not laugh -
like you had theo
i had them -
and then tear it up
confetti on the sidewalks, so many countless pieces
littering the streets of the city of my cri(m)es

all my life they have followed me, vincent
and i kiss my girl and say, to her i'm more than vincent
and they say why don't you stop this madness
and i say
is there god's hand's imprint on my heart
am i not like dostoevsky
and they say megalomania

vincent, sit here, paint with me in my loneliness
while i make love to your golden cornfields and bluest of skies
and let me read out to you my poem
and we can tear it up and let it like blackbirds fly
into your painted sky
for one thing i know of you, vincent
you would not laugh as the gutters fill with boats for boys
made from paper taken from my left-behind poems
alone of all mankind, you would sit and cry
with me and give me your canvasses, to write -


by Rebecca Gomezrueda

She enters the spectrum
With ease
And not even the voices
Will scare her away

She shushes the meanest of them
For she has tired of 3-D
And in this place of bright lights and swirling walls
Her mind is at peace
And she can successfully
Think of only one thing at a time

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Austere Lights

by Ali Znaidi

No moon tonight. Instead, only bits of
golden fleece adumbrated by mist.
The light faded away bit by bit
to the rhythm of the lunar eclipse—
something akin to distant lights of a plane
swallowed by a hungry sky’s mouth.
Thunder. Lightning. & a cigarette
between two frigid fingers—
I was beginning to wonder if
these lights would hold;
if I would hold.
I wonder if light tonight was
administered to fit into
the austerity measures.

Folk Remedies for Blue Throat

by Tracy Koretsky

Grasp tongue in clean handkerchief
for four fingers’ breadth; press
a rock against your fish border:
these, they say, will all cure
Blue Throat. Some hold the belief
that mud is responsible, so to kiss the eye
is beneficial. It will, they say, make
it pulse red so that the blue might
surprise into purple. Upon this point,
there is important wavering by our venerated authorities
whose sharp and public disagreements
also include whether swinging a bag
of frogs might help.  Obviously, to hug
a dog will free the epiglottis,
but should no dog happen along
it is best to dream of the perfect curve
of the waning moon and the song she might
whisper if she sang only for you.


by Alyssa Nickerson

Henry, I had only wished for your
body made mine in twilight, some
heat beside me. The scattered factors

crammed in your theses were made
moot by moon and Southern midnight.

In the youngest moments of a year, performed
twice, your thin limbs (scraggly as mountain pine)
caught mine; and, draped over wrought balustrade,
I could see Venus through your kiss. And if, boy,

I saw your lines draped across Carolina
skies, I might subscribe to novel alphabets
of bliss. But even so, you are not missed.

Not Just A Name

by Vinodkumar Edachery

It is not just a name
A passion, a synonym for resistance
Against oppression
It seethes once again
With utter rage
Shouting fiery slogans-
Always proud of its brave sons
You, the last of martyrs
True inheritor of the spirit
No lesser than an idol
Posed a menace to the corrupt
Never compromised with principles
Sacrificed all  prospects for the ideal
Throughout your life
They followed you like cowards
Under cover of darkness
To inflict 51 gashes on the face
In a calculated move
Giving no chance even to scream

Oh! Brave Martyr
They really feared you
Your idealism, steadfastness
Integrity, compassion, commitment
And the indomitable will
You inspired the crowd with frenzy
You were riding a bike, they, an Innova
That shows the difference, true
You wanted them to correct their ways
To stick to the ideals
Like true Marxists
For you felt they had gone too far
From its fundamental tenets
But it was hard for them-
A going back to fundamentals.
So they took the easiest way
They decided to eliminate you
With brutal barbarity
You were hacked to death
There were 51 stabs on your lovely face.

You were not ready to relent a bit
They too….
You will not deviate from tenets
They, from rashness
You could attract the crowd from their fold
Like a magnet
Mingled with laymen like old comrades
Came to their help in all their needs
No matter whether wedding, feast or funeral
Shared their joys and their woes
Like one of them, you were a brother to them all

They began to lose parliament seats
The party had to bow its head
All arrogance gone
You reminded what they had forgotten
A going back was hard for them
So there was no other way
They did just what they could.

You couldn’t forgive their deviation
They couldn’t forgive your fervour
Your death created a furore
You grew in stature, bigger than ever
Ready to devour them all
It exposed the wicked, the selfish
The vested interests
The betrayal with a wedding letter
How your name turned a hymn of hope for all
Deemed more dangerous than the bourgoise
The common enemy of all Communists-
Racked none their brains to analyse
They tried  hard to deceive the cops
And blindfold the eyes of Truth
With all wiles, like the sticker ‘Masha Allah’
To  shade it all a communal hue
Maligning air with blatant lies
Sieging courts for trying convicts
Blocking normal life with hartals
Snubbing  martyrs as renegades-
Sheer gimmicks to calm the sheepish ranks
How vile it’s all, what a shame!
That you were called a renegade, how perverse!
Fie upon them! They are incorrigible.

They unleashed terror to destroy you
Disfigured your face with 51 stabs
Which really disfigured their own faces
True, it is they who really lost their face.

I always wondered at your power
Listened to the speeches in amazement
Anxious to see how you challenge a Titan
A David against Goliath
You started soon the mending work
When they derailed from the tenets
Still you could do more than Hercules did
Who had really inspired you
But who can trust they will mend their ways
As Hercules did?
No, they can not.
You said to them, ‘this is not the way’
Certainly, you had the right
You were in their fold from your teens
You were well-versed in Marxism
Instructed the rank and file about true path
They cut you into pieces in your 51st year
When you turned a rebel
You were the true son of Onchiyam
So you could not compromise like others
They were aware of your prowess
Feared the welcome you enjoyed
They in jeopardy found their ways
When you formed a new outfit
And people flocked round the pen
Seeking shelter under the roof
And saw a saviour in your words
Then they came to win you over
With a lot of allurements
But you stood adamant
Refused to make adjustments
To you, ideals were more important
Than anything else.

That night I couldn’t sleep
For several nights sleep didn’t come to stay
The evil had the victory-heart throbbed
It is as if they plucked the Sun from the day
Moon from the night
You knew the murderers were after you
Still you took no caution
They came in a group with weapons
You travelled alone, armless
Riding a bike, that made things easy for them
The whole state was terrified
Everyone deplored the act in severe terms
The mighty tree was felled
But your death was not in vain
It exposed the real culprits
Brought their ugly faces to light
The fire it instilled in raging hearts
It will take time to extinguish
You became a martyr
Like a true comrade of Onchiyam
The land of martyrs
For denouncing corruption in strong words
You lashed at the vices
From toe to crown
They tried to make you look like them
A ploy that didn’t work, like Masha Allah
They didn’t think that you are invincible
That you had no death-your ideals
That you had a charmed life
Like Caesar you proved stronger in death
You are not just a name
A symbol, a stone, a stubbornness.

The Drought

by Ayeni Tolulope

shadowy lies,
drawn across the skies,
a darkened temptest,
brewing on for miles,
the threat of an out-pour,
the air; still yet charged,
our herds, look on longingly,
children scamper for safety,
we hope, pray, then beg all gods,
a few drops, the earth groans,
the shrill cry of our shaman,
joy, rejoicing; finally rain,
lightening draws from the heavens, our ancient groove struck,
songs stolen in second stanza; speechless,
the rain trickles then stops,
sighs..... moans....... sobs,
the drought never ends.

You breathed my name into the air
I never knew I existed until then

by Trina Tan

Maybe we exist only in exhalations maybe
there is no us. Maybe we are six billion people
surviving on the voices of (six minus one) billion people
each of our breaths a consequence of
someone else uttering our names in stories of
sometime adventures. There is no gravity we exist in a flux
of cause and effect. Suspended in the middle of cotton quilt
and stone graphite we are always reaching towards the red-hot baton of
another’s sorrows, they say warm air rises and we are not cold. Our names
condense in the winter and crystallize into signboards of love the way
angels clothe themselves in air, navigating us into one another’s arms. (Today
I met a man who pinched nail-deep into his elbow every ten minutes
to stop the pain and I imagined that
no one had uttered his name in a long time.) I thought maybe
this is why poets say they are immortal maybe
God is powerful simply because so many people have uttered His name
since time immemorial maybe
the moments I felt I could not breathe was the result of someone
censoring my name from the screening of a filmstrip memory. There is only
a world whose song is a recurrence relation of an infinite number of names
articulated in a finite number of breaths. We die the moment
our names are said for the last time, our souls finding
a deficit of memory and there is little choice but to default upon
bankruptcy. There is no life or death no rich or poor        only
the number of breaths we have conquered        only
the melody of our names on
each other’s lips.