Friday, May 10, 2013

A Race of Lonely Giants

by Laura Behr

Maybe I’m waiting for nothing.
Maybe I’m unearthing instructions
to keep the sky from falling.
Maybe I’m just supposed to sleep here.
Maybe someone will wake me with a squirt gun.
Maybe the highest good, is always a parting guest,
just out of reach.
Maybe the edge of the wind diverts logic,
unveiling limitations.
Maybe limitations could be anything,
the best of days gone by, time punching a clock.
Maybe you’ll let me put our stories in a box.
Maybe I’ll let something good be said for you.
Maybe I’ll take you home and kiss your life-lessons.
Maybe you’ll soon forget lost loves and worn out Sappho.
Maybe at the appointed hour, just before dawn, the last night of August,
a race of lonely giants will arrive, like dark energy outlaws
becoming one nation, saving morning, pulling it through a tunnel of light.

bombs go off everywhere. i am tired

by Amy  Soricelli

everyone is tired.
sleeping head on their arms on their desk their papers
their papers are a pillow.
they tell me this - they say 'i am so tired'.
we carry hate like bricks in a lunch box the apple from 4th grade move over
there is death now - a little chocolate chip cookie of death -
it is easier to spin this on a sunny day but i am too sleepy to think.
three people in the morning said "i am so tired i could nap - i could nap right here
in this spot".
the arrow "you are here".
i would be there snoring away
soundlessly snoring we are all so tired of sorrow.
exhausts us all.
it is tiring to fall down and not get up.
everyone is tired.

Goethe’s Clock

by Brian Wake

Goethe’s clock is ticking in an empty room.
He sits quite motionless. All art, then peels
a curling strip of wallpaper from a dilapidated
wall, begins, he says, from what we know
and seeks connections everywhere. All poetry
gives probability to our disjointed world.
Goethe winds his clock each afternoon
at twenty five to four. I wind the present on,
he says, the shipwrecked man ashore. I will assert
my part in what, until a moment such as this,
has been concealed. I wind a dawn of flickering
light bulbs into something more meticulous.
Goethe winds his clock against the floodgate
swelling with the pressing weight of all he knows
but fears will forget, the force of instinct, reason
and the privilege of art, the walls of books.
I wind, he says, the unexpected footprints
in the newly fallen snow. I wind the barricades
set up against the odds of never growing old.
I wind the passive consciousness of such
impossibilities. I wind, he says, and pours
a quantity of wine into an empty glass,
the sum of almost everything I ever knew
into a time that, for the life of me, I hope
might never pass.


by Lauren Tivey

Budding in early April,
the bare-branched trees
are candelabras, their tips
flames of white, purple,
mauve, the rare yellow.

We are allowed to gush
over them, the event
of their opening cups,
their unfolding into
party gowns, as √Čtienne,

toiling in his arboretum
for the Empress Josephine,
must have wept with joy
over his hybrids, over
each individual angel.

Tonight, the maiden moon,
intoxicating scent;  I am
thinking of you, how seductive
and perilous the metaphor.
But it is spring, a time

of indulgence, and we are far
from France, under exotic skies,
flowers trumpeting their magic:
I cannot stop looking at them.
I cannot stop thinking of you.

Old City

by Stephen Jarrell Williams

Too many walls,
baloney smell

Our minds infiltrated,
with bogus facts.

slicing us
into stumps.

roots dangling...

We're mashed
heaped on their golden plates.

They're laughing
at us
spooning us down.

Closing us in
cardboard boxes
against the elements.

But when our babies weep,
we sprout thorns

Our old city shaking,
a thousand cities quaking,
dust rising to the sky.

Stones coming their way.

Stalking Horses

by Jeremy Marks

I send out at night
my stalking horses

They report to me
            at dawn
behind the firewood shed.

My children feel that I turn
into a four-legged, centaur-like man
while they are sleeping

That my eyes are seated behind
a pair of large globes
catching the sinuous, roving robe
of equine landscapes

But they do not-

The horses are their own;
they stalk for themselves
through many a darkness
I know not

And they are not mine-
we merely share this patch of Earth

I bought off a man
-as I bought them

And all of us were then turned loose
upon ourselves.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Fantasy Island Redux: “De pipeline, boss, de pipeline!”

by Maureen Kingston  

a hot load, a hot shot
through the weakest vein

the great plains

where seldom is heard
a discouraging word        

where dissent is drowned out
by the global cash machine

he maketh me to lie down
in green pastures

the pipeline’s well-designed,
the engineers assure

a mighty fortress is our god,
a bulwark never failing

the promise of jobs & safety,
a universal hope or a uniscam?

The Good Life, Nebraska’s motto,

her citizens gracious to the end,
pouring pitcher after pitcher of tar sands

Subject Line Poem

by Anon Ymous

I’m a ghost; here, but never was. I’m a wisp of wind, a memory.

When The Gun Goes Off It Always Surprises You

by Anastasia Placido

Not like jade enamel:
Glazed and polished
Amore, love
Lots more than shine
And charmed
Like a snake in a basket
Cast over like a darkened sky
And awash in air
Insulated, head to chest
A murmuring of the heart
Crack the ribcage
Open up the breast
And let the light beam echo

Why Daniel Gave Up Painting And Took Up The Blues

by Joe Farley

When the dandelion wine,
farm fermented, ran out
you turned to whiskey,
and married yourself to a bottle,
adapted the drinking man's diet
and shed forty pounds
and with it all thoughts
of the lover who left you
for a woman and not a man.

You still saw her naked
when another model posed
for your brushes to dance
colors across a canvas.
The shapes came out
broken and tormented,
so you left the studio
and bought a slide guitar
and learned to paint music,
with blue the only pigment
left on your palette.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Campo de’ Fiori

by Bryan Murphy

Filippo was in pretty good shape, until they burnt him.

Of course, seven years of imprisonment had taken a toll – his leg muscles had atrophied and his eyes would water in sunlight – but for a man past fifty, well, he looked as though he’d be around for years to come. And that voice: loud and level, a debater’s voice. Not to mention the man’s mind, sharp and lucid as his tongue. Ah, his tongue.  The weakest part of his whole body, the only part he couldn’t control.  Even that was healthy enough when I examined it. They brought the friar to us, to our hospital on the island in the river. Wanted to be sure he’d survive until the end of his holy inquisition. Some of his holy inquisitors looked more likely to snuff it than he did. Tortured consciences. Brought him here regularly over the years. Always me who examined him, until – Holy Father!

Yes, we talked. Mostly he talked and I listened. No, I didn’t absorb any of his heretical ideas, all that rubbish about life on other worlds. He did teach me some of his memory tricks. No, it’s not witchcraft. Believe me, I’ve seen a few witches in my time. Tell you one thing, I’ll never be able to forget him. Never forget a word he said. And he says plenty. Dominican, he is. Was. Intellectuals. Not like us plain John-of-God people. We just tend to the sick. It’s true we learn anatomy and cures, but mostly we just talk and listen to our charges. And pray for them.

So, memory and anatomy and obedience. I’ll get by with them in the secular world. Saecula saeculorum. What a world. Sixteen hundred years after Our Lord came to it. And left it. Poor, forsaken Filippo Bruno:  our Brother Giordano.


by Susie Sweetland Garay

Surely, she thinks, they will
believe that a woman
with nothing on
has nothing to hide.
That she is harmless.

But they only seem to find her
more sinister for her

Snow Falls in Kansas City

by Al Ortolani

You are sleeping when
the first flakes fall, not rising
until the paperboy swings by
in his squeaking Durango.
You have coffee in the morning,
reading yesterday’s news, drinking in
predictions of more snow.
In the afternoon you wade out
into the gray light. A calmness
descends, drifting
in swooping bales between
shut doors. Your peace, punctuated
only by crows, begins
in the belly, extends even to 87th Street
where a single taxi churns
to the edge of town.

The Visitor

by Laura Grodin

I call you the phoenix lights,
but they only see blues and reds
reflecting on crumbled soil. Nothing above but miles
of hollow air. You hover without touch,
the buzz of air pushed beneath you, floating
above a sand dune you’ve never known.

There’s something odd when I look up,
I can’t finish my cereal, the bowl in my hands
is unlike grey plates circling. Vibrations in
my slippers on the wet grass, a button undone
on my flannels, near my neck so I can open wide.
You’re coming down soon.

Flying in V’s like birds of another species,
There is a notable emptiness between earth and soil.
Tufts of air brush my cheeks, hair static.
Stricken from memory you’ll land, nestled
on moonlit craters, cracked from the constant
beating of breath.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Half Day in Moon-Tone Room

by Jacqueline Markowski

We lie together never really
knowing who's there between,
or within, or even why, but there,
in that room, moments break open
into tiny little spasms of liquid—

tears and sweat— viperous guilt.
The moment we reach the place we can't
define we are sudden. The sounds of the birds
screech in and out of the lost stillness
we've created—  here?  Where
we are least passive, least sedentary,
of all places to make one
quiet consciousness of two
racing alligators.

As the awkwardness breaths heavily
upward in the smoky room, white
walls darken like wood paneling,
pupils dilate, become round moons
absorbing each other's shine,
each other's light—
and then they are one
Vermont moon.

Gravity rakes fiercely with its waves, the feelings
that shook my nerves, offering up
to the beach (with its reject
sand castles and moldy, forgotten
beach bags) all losses of
conscientious objection,
paradoxical notions
incased in glowing antique renditions
of nature verses nurture.

Our moon rang out a silent truth,
spilling dialectics
of truth in/honesty of
emotion; a wave of premonitory
nostalgia swept us both
under the rugged, hateful tide.
I could feel it, like salt water slapping
at my ten year old back (sun-kissed,
damaged; but young skin heals nicely)
pulling at my torso
just at the moment
you hugged onto me quietly,
the man in the moon is
thinking about it, too,
you told me.

What you didn't say,
what I didn't think
ahead to was that,
inevitably, this violent, sibilant tide
will turn its sights to the next light
house, our nautical parable
interpolated amid
the skeletons and the other
forgotten jewels.

Night Town Eden

by David Mac

Black windows
Black heart
Black soul to look through
The masterpiece has changed
The painting’s not the same

Town night air swirls
Don’t know no better
Drives you crazy

Bleeding ghosts of girls
Lips like cigarettes
Smiles like stars
Rats betray the dream
We’ll never change
We’ll never get over a thing
The love of snakes
The fear of apples

We’re a force to be reckoned with
We do not stand a chance

the naked soul

by Moriah LaChapell

is a collection
of polished stones
from roadside ditches
slack rivers
and corridor forests

these stones become
encased in our viscera
until we someday decay
and some body else
finds them

Working Five-Tens at the Plant I Heard Safety Man’s Story

by Jason Braun

Juarez bound, one night he disappeared
for a week. He emerged like a baby
might, in his underwear.  His skin
shrunken and raw in the outline
of the jailhouse doorframe. His wife
bailed him out and must have know
he spent a wallet full, before selling
first his boots, then his hat, shirt
and finally the Levi’s for something
to drink and sex. They hadn’t gave
him water yet that day and his wife
didn’t stop driving until the car
was parked in their Odessa garage.
On a hot day, I think of him and drink.

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 Gomez

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.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Shayira of Sorts

by A.V. Koshy

O Rumi
intoxication with the divine
is not the only way

O Ghalib
the way of the senses
is not the only one

Brothers, you know
the body of my love
also has on it cartography
that gives me the map:
I alone have the key
to open its hidden door
Before me spreads
the unending vistas
of her Keen Delight


by Michael H. Brownstein

My dear Cassandra, I must punish you. From this day on you will only speak the truth, but no one will ever believe you.
—Apollo to Cassandra after she broke one precept or another

My name is Cassandra,
But you believe me to be someone else,
And, yes, I am a woman.
Listen! My eyes are green,
My hair is black,
Greeks do hide in the belly of the horse.
I live here, behind that wall,
My bedding, that corner.
I need not latch my door
Nor do I need clothing during sleep.
Legs gapped open, I wait for you.

monster evening

by Mike Foldes

the monsters came from everywhere
to sing, to dance, to copulate,
to pen their poems in shadowy halls
where monsters go to procreate.

the languages they spoke were one,
a blend of blood and sand and snow,
of crystal skies and perfect fruit,
of guttaral, pachyderm and crow.

the monsters came from everywhere
and when the shiraz began to flow
unscheduled breaks, a spark, a spore,
their fecund minds, flint and steel

lay lightly on the feathered plain,
throats parched, riven to the core.

To the killer hiding
in the back seat of my car at 10 p.m.

by Jessica Otto

Who’s back there?
Lovely night, isn’t it?
I was going to go home
but now
I want to treat myself
to an adventure;
something I can sink
my teeth into.
Get away from me! Stupid
driver! I hate it when people
get right up my ass
like that. I hate it
when people don’t get out
of the way for ambulances
and fire trucks;
Mr. Tough Guy
with a cigarette behind his ear
and an elbow sticking
out the window like the
biggest asshole in the world.
Wait till you start speeding 90,
100 miles in the wrong direction,
am I right? Splatter
brains all over the highway!
Seriously, you need to
speak up if you’re back there
because I hate it
when people call me crazy.

Sunday, September 30, 2012


by M.N. O'Brien

I know about scarcity, I know
the dreamy truths that fact cannot pervade
on both wings. Man is left to fly and think.
The television is American
and eccentric. I must be on my guard.

Standing on the fringe of contradiction,
a quiet life bellows at a funeral. The weather never says
a thing. It says hello and asks about your condition without
caring, expecting good and nothing more.

The crumbs of concrete
lie on the side of the road, lost in thought,
resisting the automatic life. Shopping carts, faded signs,
hotels, shadows, and the hot car seat
presses back into yourself.

I was in Newark long enough
to know the color dark blue and the comparison
of white light and yellow light, and the rumors
that white light can only be felt. I have heard
more serious charges in my lifetime of watching.

I was in Newark long enough
to know clouds behind a neon light,
funeral homes, police cars, trains,
discount fires, and believe
little boys still love
spikes and explosions.

I was in Newark long enough
to know the planes fly low, shaking
all the buildings down and throwing
the garbage in the air like a child celebration,
to know how the people walk dry mouthed
and await the opening of fire hydrants.

Science Experiment

by Kait McIntyre

Every scalpel has a silver lining
and I take it sterilized
with vodka and a blue lighter.
Glass rings grin from your oak
counter. Nothing counts.
Not even your tender.

A woman serves me and I take it
on the rocks, on the house,
on a wink and a whim
to explore a man-
like woman.

I swallow, not spit
her juice, knowing
it will curdle by morning.

With You on Rainy Days

by Shenan Prestwich

With you on rainy days, I always think
of Alstadt-Lehel in September.
Just like that, I feel its slick stones
like I still feel the summer’s swamp upon my eyelids these days
when they close beneath your shadow in July.
Still hear the buzzing of the air
filtration motor, like a swarm of flies.

Though it’s never repeated
its incredible feat, its coup de grace,
not a single pass of your palms over my hips
from June to August goes without stirring
in me how I saw my head split open,
crown to nose, and felt myself burst from it,
floating in the still blue without a sound
except the distant buzzing of the flies
from miles below me somewhere.

But when with you on rainy days,
I think of Alstadt-Lehel in September.
I make a point to think of it.

Because someday when the rain has shepherded us in
by plinking on the windows and the air
conditioning like mallets on a xylophone,
tinny and uneven,
and your hands are tired and my eyes are tireder
because the kitchen’s sat there darkened, dumb
for three days because we haven’t changed the bulb,

I’ll feel my right arm spattered damp,
my unprotected side opposite the one
beneath the shelter of your rib,
our shared umbrella.

I’ll look upon our house as one of sustenance,
cultivated and consumed with every day,
like full, fat pumpkins, like tomatoes,
like the bierhauses—Weissen, Hacker,
Fischer Vroni—we waded into then,
floored by warmth, by the embrace
of ancient tender arms.
By the ache and creak of wood, the sting of salt on lips.
The sweat of wheat and water curving
down the belly of the glass and pooling
in the wet feathers of napkins.

Wooden Songs

by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal

The wooden owl
opens its beak
and sings
wooden songs.
I can’t tell you
how well it sings.
The trees
like the songs.
The trees bleed sap
like blood and tears.
The owl
bleeds as well.

The wooden owl
smiles and opens
its beak
and sings for

the bleeding trees
who gave birth to
the owl
long ago.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


by Ayeni Tolulope

sound the gong, call forth to meet,
the five and half men who rule our meat,

sound the gong, call forth corruption,
the marauding bastard milking our nation,

sound the gong, call forth poverty,
the eater flesh and taker of purity,

sound the gong, call forth theft,
the beast, high and lowly takes all that we've kept,

sound the gong, call forth murder,
the masqurades with guns who make widows our mothers,

sound the gong, call forth the sick preachers,
the maker of bombs with leeches as teachers,

sound the gong, call forth the half,
a hope for tomorrow? We five scoff and laugh.

Cliches Get Stuck Under Your Fingernails

by Jennifer Recchio

I didn't believe you when you stood
on your toes, said, "Hell is other people
when I only want you," and I told you not
to quote things you don't understand.

I didn't save you when you held out
the smooth palms of your hands,
your tears in your mouth, med school
dreams dead at your tennis shoes.

I didn't come for you when you called
that morning from the side of 260,
everything you knew in the trunk
of your Honda, except the hairclip
you left with me.

You didn't believe me when I said,
"Hell is us together," and you didn't
understand that what Sartre really
meant is, hell's full of people like
me running from people like you.

Drinking with El Greco

by Seth Jani

In Spring you slowly sip a porter,
One Sunday night
While the voices in the wind
Are grave and rocking.
You grow intently
Upwards from below,
The root-sop of the soul
Surging to your mouth.
You kiss a poster
Of some dark city in Spain,
Tracing the lineaments
Of steel light
Which seem to slip
Through chinks inside
The photo,
Reaching out
To touch you
In your room.
You look out
At your own
Most haunted city,
The old jazz-blare
of traffic
Dipping and diving
Through the night,
The same uneasy darkness
Nodding from above.

Pixie Talk

by Rafi Miller

Lie with me
                        to me
Beneath a phoenix sun
lend me your magnifying glass
let’s burn ants and watch them struggle up
from their ashes
Blue smoke curls from our lips as
The ash from our shared cigarette falls
on their dead little heads
Dmitri, dahling, isn’t it just so wonderful
-ly pointless?

What should we do with our day?
There’s another bottle of wine left
there has to be
No?  Well let’s just run to the shore
To stare at the sharp steel of the horizon
let it laugh at us
remind us
we mean nothing, we are
Where the salty winds will
burn my cuts
Shift the seas
in my favor
                        my favor

Do me a favor? 
Rub your buttercup
On my chin
                        you dirty bastard
Imbue hues of crumbling pollen on bare skin
                        tell me you love me, liar, liar!
Let’s just lie
Let’s stick spoons in the lemon chiffon
Lick white-hot sugar from our lips 
make faces at the fat maid
behind her fat back
Come on
It will be fun
cum on

Saturday, August 4, 2012


by Elisabeth Smith Wood

I didn't want to want him
just because he never called me someone else's name.
I wanted to snub his squared off fingertips that
covered his winter face.
I needed those hands to feel lizard commanding and
that face should have been goombah stupid or
truculent or a little too feminine.
I needed to remember that no dignified human
would sit on his sofa no matter how the cushions were turned.

I wanted him to be damaged, diseased and resistant to
my music. He should've used pretentious words that
would make me itch to slap him.
He should've smelled of sweat and cynicism or
filthy laundry and
he needed to never reach for his wallet
or my hand.

I willed him to be a lamb, a wuss or just
some fat Buddhist with a limp ponytail and
Oh God, I really needed him to be a lousy lay so
I could move on, relieved that I'd escaped the
ridiculous mistake that he would certainly become.

I wanted him to be haggard and spent, jaded
and unforgiving. I set out to hate him or ignore him,
to run from his crumbling corpse but
I haven't gotten what I wanted at all.

Explosion in the afternoon

by Marian Veverka

Our old man can explode with anger
Over the smallest dumb thing
Like a gallon of milk left sitting on
The table
The fridge door not closed all the way
Someone’s shoes sitting empty in
The middle of the living room
And the TV still on

He’d use real cuss words
So loud the neighbors could hear
And scream back for him to shut
The ----- up
And our baby sister woke up crying
And mom yelling because we woke
The baby

I’d take off running through the back yard
Down by the old bridge where the train
Tracks crossed the swamp
And imagine myself a hobo swinging aboard
A slow train to China
Or any place far enough away
Where all you’d hear was the chatter
Of crickets in the tall grass

The ghost of a whistle from the days
The trains still ran.
There weren’t so many babies
And Mom and Dad would shut
The doors and be as quiet as the night.

galileo’s finger

by John Grochalski

the two shithead americans
touch 18th century artifacts
in the galileo museum
then laugh when they get yelled at
by one of the docents
it’s hard to imagine a time
when intelligence
and artistic license ruled the earth
stranded here in florence
and tripping over every cobblestone along the way
i try to picture leonardo walking around
with math and science on his mind
or a young michelangelo
on his way to worship at
the basilica of santa croce
but i’m inundated with american boys
strolling down the street
wearing boxer shorts showing
the david’s cock on them
chanting and laughing
and making a spectacle of themselves
in that absolute american way
so it’s hard not to think of the these giants
as more ancient myth
than actual flesh and blood
but they must be real
or else the history books be damned
and all of this architecture and sculpture be for not
i like to think of these masters
in the florence of their day
donatello watching the sunset over the arno
dante sitting in his spot and brooding
galileo tinkering with telescopes
and seeing the moon for the first time
instead of dead and cut to pieces
by the catholic church
his middle finger and one tooth
left for posterity in a glass jar
for american girls to ewwwww at
before begging their mothers
to buy them a gelato and a leather handbag
from the san lorenzo market.


by Quinn White

I paint my face like a duck and you
you paint your face like a mouse and you
you paint your face like a dog.
Don't forget drop cloths.
Keep an eye on the trash. At all costs avoid
Penny's beach trinkets: the wooden sailor, the Ziploc
of ocean water, a dried seahorse, a snow globe.
You brought the beer?
Right, a duck would bring brandy. Hold on,
she's got my snifters stuffed with newspaper.
Faces on. Episodes queued.
Nobody take a picture.
Well, somebody has to take a picture.
Why can't we be duck, mouse, dog
and not tell?  Do your Donald.
            Who's got the sweetest disposition?
            One guess, that's who!
I stand, wag my white ass feathers.
            Who never, never starts an argument? 
            Who never shows a bit of temperament?
Penny needs to put in air purifiers or something. I'm winded.
            Who's never wrong, but always right?
            Who'd never dream of starting a fight?      
Take over. I need my inhaler.
Mouse-face pops up, brandy in hand.
            Who gets stuck with all the bad luck?
            No one... awawawhahaha!
You're nailing it. For a mouse, you're classic duck.
            But Donald Duck.
This is a good one. We all sit down.

Names in My Phone

by Jordan Jamison
















by Sana Khalesi

beneath the spell of your hazel eyes breathing
when right-or-left choices of
death or dying
a glare
a caution
with a respite on the cushion of your lips
or when
the innocence of your heart
my only belonging
and departs
with a 4-foot hole
in my still stale moth-eaten soul

oh trail me
regale me
seek this sick-me
with your equilateral longing legs
seek your poison snogs
on my lost-in-smoke-and-ashes lungs
and turn this crude cremation
into Louisiana Iris
all the bridges
from Shiraz to Paris
memories, reveries, treacheries
all gracious photos
and post-hardcore songs of EMERY

while nodding your hideous head
while sipping your afternoon coffee,
while listening to your only insanity-plea
peering to your vicious voice, uttering:
"oh oui oui!"
there's no ME,
and you are propelling
another mistress, Dionysus
with curly creamy short-cut hair
lost in her castle-in-the-air
peeling avocado pear
with your tender solicitous care

and I –
now dust –
beneath your steps
and missteps
giving an ear to Joan Baez's "Diamonds & Rust":
"...smiling out the window of the crummy hotel over washington square"
I dare
I dare you
pretermit me
by giving your fictitious look
a more factual gloss
in my loss!