April 30, 2009

DON’T NEVER GIVE UP

by Mather Schneider

I’ve already pawned the first half of this spring day
and now I’m driving my cab
slowly down Fourth Avenue
looking for a live one.
When I stop at a red light
a grime-rubbed bum waves
and weaves toward me.
I’m ready to bolt until he flashes
an inch thick wad of cash.
I unlock the door and he gets in.
“How ya doing?” I say.
“Fresh as the morning mail,” he says.
He smells like old leaves a bobcat pissed on.
“Where to?” I say.
“Motel Row,” he says, “any good
whores left over there?”
“I don’t know about good,” I say.
“I’ve got to get my nuts out of hock,” he says.
“Yes sir,” I say.
“Stop at a liquor store will ya?” he says.
He gets his bottle
and we pull into the Quail Inn,
twenty six bucks a night.
He pays the twelve dollar fare
and then gives me a twenty dollar tip.
I can’t believe it.
“Don’t never give up,” he says.
Then he gets out and staggers
toward a skin-and-bones woman
leaning outside room two,
her smile pure goldin the virgin sun.

April 29, 2009

It’s All A Matter of Madness

by Randall Rogers

when I think of all the women
Bukowski screwed
according to what he writes
in the book “Women”
which I am currently reading
I think, shit,
the power of the written word
done right
easy
slow
hard
brutal thrusts
teasing thrusts
as the man himself put it,
a speak to the sad reality I’ve known, or seen
or maybe read about, the last one picked for
the team in all of us
add alcohol
and lot’s of puking
and I guess that hairy must have had a drunken
locomotive breath Chinnok of a guster
mouth blast
having that greasy lipped thing
licking and sucking on the pretties
he says he gets
and that huge Hank of a thing he so purply wields
when he is able (not too drunk to fuck)
kind of makes me sick
I should have stopped reading after "Post Office" and
"Ham on Rye".
But, like screwing Chinaski
must be to German and other want to be writer women
(Lyn did you screw Buk while alive?)
the drunk fucker’s prose
and the topics and how he deftly frays the uncertainty on them
this ludicrous literocity makes me want to inform the National Organization of Women
about Buk if they don’t already know,
too, turn the Brothers onto this dude,
cool them out on Whitey
and for me self
I gotta get fucking typing
keep
cranking out shit
grunted out of a mind-anus

to entertain.

FAT GIRLS

by Lyn Lifshin

Once you’ve been one, you never aren’t. “Chubette,”
is a bullet that shatters a day of sopping. It is true,
isn’t it, that once you’ve seen your self fat in 3 way
mirrors, or photographs, cringed when someone yells
“Fatso” you see that image at 120 pounds, at 90. I
stood on the edge of the scale so gingerly, I bruised
my instep. In ballet, if someone is losing weight, they
wear a yellow leotard or pale lavender but switch back
to black when they’ve gained a few pounds. “zaftig”
only sounds nice but isn’t, I will never believe anyone
truly loves dragging enough fat to make a separate
person around with them. Say “fat is beautiful,” call
them plus sizes. Well though I know it’s not pc, I
think it’s a lie. Still, I think I shouldn’t be writing this
poem, that it could annoy or hurt somebody, someone
who has tried to leave what they don’t need to drag
around, what damages their heart. When you’re
surrounded by ballet babies, spider legs and arms,
one anorexic, or bulimic, what isn’t there seems to matter
more than what is. I think of my sister, once the skinny
beauty, who needed eggnogs to give her strength, until,
wounded maybe, she built a wall of flesh around her
you can’t get through. Don’t you think you’ve been
touched by all this? I think of the year I chewed gum to
not eat, got lots of cavities. Listen, I know this poem is
in trouble, in as much trouble as I will be if I finish it,
publish or worse, read it. Once when I read a poem called
Fat at a woman’s center, some walked out and the ones
who didn’t were angry. But like the Shakers who wanted
everything stripped to the barest essentials, like an aunt
emptying her house of what she didn’t need, I know there’s
a lot I could get rid of. Here I’m talking about pounds but
if you took a look at my closets you’d see they are stuffed
with what I should shed: 5 inch heeled boots, Betsey Johnson
skirts, so much black velvet you could imagine yourself
under an enormous midnight sky, lost in the dark with
no light or exit


*Lyn's website:
http://www.lynlifshin.com/books.htm

April 28, 2009

THERE’S A TRICK IN IT

by Mather Schneider

but we’re never going to figure it out.
I have a nightmare:
nobody’s talking to each other,
everybody is quiet as dreaming birds
falling from a night sky
through swords twitching like snakes
after the heads have been bitten off.
Like tongues torn
in storms of ether
fear stretches ear to ear
hate and love growl
over the same bowl
smiles are painted
in blood
on the empty white flesh
and history heaps doubt-wonder
over the way of things
life is a contradiction
like the sweet puke of bees
who’ve feasted on the flowers of hemlock.

WHERE ARE OUR GENIUSES?

by Mather Schneider

No genius in the air
just hashish skyscrapers
that vanish
like buckshot clouds
as copycat nature
repeats herself everywhere
lizards and bobcats and cactus and man
and the way the sand moves in the wind and the birds
spelling eternity in the sky
and the great fields
of love
and self doubt
abandoned fallow
and sprayed with the DDT
of overconfidence.
No genius in the air
today
to breathe like mint.

April 27, 2009

[Where for art thou…?]

by Russell Jaffe

Mechanical ancillary parts at
work again and again,
all night, pointing.
cranking out fields’ corn, where for? Using hydraulics and
workers on the night shift.
The factory is quiet at night:
thou, when it’s eaten, you eat it,
hand by mouth smiling
what for a snack wherefore art
that gold they labored for ultimately
watchful of rodents near the machine
living under the greasy belts where flashlights won’t see them.
Thou, this our sweet castle, protected by men patrolling
and earning peanuts for what’s ultimately in each box:
caramel corn, popped, glazed, machine tucked
in white and red print a
cardboard box small as a lottery ticket small
as a mouse’s coffin.
There’s a prize inside.


*Russell Jaffe is the editor of O Sweet Flowery Roses webzine.

April 26, 2009

Meditation Classes At the County Jail

by Elizabeth P. Glixman

Teach me to meditate white man
suit tie black leather jacket
clear eyes and two car garage
Black eyed peas are cooking
I was born in Dixie
along with white misconceptions about the color purple
yellow creamed corn and the crunch of okra


Was he good
does she jiggle like Beyonce that hooker on Main Street
Idiocy I say you can't teach that white man
any important thing
unless he becomes at least cocoa color or mud or stops watching Bill Cosby
Housing projects are not things you make in school
I look at the garbage
I don't need crayons pencils teachers and glue to do this
You know what I'm saying
In the hallway bricks crumble
ice cold sometimes a smell flows
through rotted eggs and peels

I dream in jail
dearly beloved gather together my sons
everyone wants to fly above the walls
can't climb the walls
pinched in our crotches deflated
no more contact visits to grab the ice
I am dying
Let me go


This jail is transcendent enough
superintendent
Guys transcend gender and color
Guards beat people until nothing is left but dust
Who needs to know silence
It is so quiet in here I can hear my three year old ask for more apple juice
the bottle is empty for the month



Meditation program rehabilitation
Mr. Man dawg Om Mane Padme what the
I need ice good as gold to make me touch the crystal cathedral and
make my balls shake in awe
make my wife rumble and whisper to me
That's all the peace I need
and a case of apple juice for my kid
so he doesn't cry at night


*blog: http://elizabeth-inthemoment.blogspot.com/

What To Think If Someone Is Dying

by Elizabeth P. Glixman

He smells of something dying
Something round and smashed
cells breaking apart
Rumbling pulling the sleeve off my robe
Cutting the halo that is mine
I am walking the circumference of a pit
That is damp and tepid
A hot bath of hounds elated at my demise
It is always like this when I look upward into your eyes
My eyes go red rimmed and I swell inside
Holding onto the edge of something round
So I won’t fall into oblivion.
I must walk the circle without falling.
I must walk the tightrope without giving in
I can be a clown
I can be the monkey that dances to music
The collar on my neck is pretty pink and I am laughing
They don’t know what I am thinking
I am thinking
A good banana would be nice

My Father’s Women

by Holly Day

my father was never taught how to love us
and I would never fault him that. Despite
not having any women in his life between
the death of his mother and meeting my mother
he dealt with us, his daughters, as adequately
as any angry, confused young man could.
Evangelical, he lectured on and on
about how we had only two choices in the world, we could either
grow up to be intelligent, independent, strong,
and, if we were lucky, alone
or we could concentrate our energy on being pretty
and appealing
be a whore, just like our mother. Two choices
with no gray area allowances.
I never faulted him his confusion
with us, his reasoning, his world
where family and love equaled obligation and
unbearable responsibility.
I just wish he was still here
to see how sad and wrong his vision really was
and how good the things he hated could be.

April 25, 2009

The Buddha said, or Freud.

by Kim Triedman

And life suckles
at the tit of something else. Or else
will, if it is quiet, or
did, when it was young. Something so
huge as to feel

intimate, like oceans—
the water, the salt; even
the sands giving away
like fact
beneath your feet.
There was nothing to say
back then; only the splutter

of milk. I dream
about touch.


*Kim's homepage: http://www.kimtriedman.net/

Preverbal

by Kim Triedman

Imagine the sun as it was, yesterday –
and the dog
barking

down a long and windy afternoon. Hours

extrapolate like bold ideas,
like nerves

branching,
and shadows stretching
taut
toward the cusp

of what will be. There is a
music you can hear
in a room

you never knew existed. Listen

to the dog.
Trip your fingers
down the ladder
of the sun
between the leaves. Close

your eyes—the wind is
talking up a storm.


*Kim's homepage: http://www.kimtriedman.net/

April 23, 2009

make me forget

by J. J. Campbell

i still recall your
two lovely lips
dark haunting eyes
and a body that
wouldn't quit

that was long over
a decade now

and i sometimes
have to force these
poems out before
the evil forces in
my brain make me
forget i ever had
any happiness
or joy

let alone a time
in my life where
i was regularly
having sex

you're married
now and happy

you got what you
always wanted

one of us
deserved it
i suppose

one for isabella

by J. J. Campbell

another rainy
afternoon

just me and the
anal sex toys

colombian women

a little social d in
the background

and a shitty dial-up
internet connection

they say patience
is a virtue

but so is plenty of
available credit

the flexible ones
always cost more

April 21, 2009

EVERYDAY SOME PEOPLE ARE GOING HOME TO SEE WHO IS DYING

by Lyn Lifshin

my graduate school office mate
with her father and grandfather
alone in a big Victorian said,
“I never know who’ll be living,
who’ll be dead when I come
home.” For weeks, small girls
in pink pajamas are dying in
wrecked trail under a heavy
pervert’s garlic stinking breath
or hog tied behind a rusty pick up.
Death shall have dominion Thomas
said but lately it’s the main thing
on TV. The line between the living
and dead keeps moving. What
does it mean when you start to
read the obits? Every morning the
ambulances streak by the park
I walk thru. Someone tells
me “lost at war” is easier to live
with than certainty of death. When
Arthur Miller died, who didn’t
think of Marilyn going before him,
staying beautiful in our minds
as those who linger won’t


*Lyn's website:
http://www.lynlifshin.com/books.htm

April 20, 2009

NEVER UNDERSTOOD

by Randall Rogers

WHERE THE HELL
HAVE THE FROZEN
MISTS OF IMMEMORIAL
TIME SHUT THEIR PORTALS
TO MATTER AND MIND
PONDERLESS
SPECULATION
IN A BASKET
WITH FRIES
AND COLESLAW?

I SAW MYSELF SLOWLY DYING
THEN WAKENING TO LIVE AGAIN
BEFORE
AN ABILITY TO ACHIEVE
JOY, HAPPINESS, COMFORT OR SATISFACTION
LEFT ME
ALONE
AND UPON WAKENING
I ASKED WHY?

They Say

by Randall Rogers

they say
smoke less
enjoy more
or “too much of everything is just enough”
and denial fueling your thought “might as well, might as well”
time spent not
smoking, a bore
especially the older you get
when the years seem to fly by
like a growing teenager
and it’s been so long your
youthful smoking
propaganda Dragnet fueled episodes
and young seventies growing up kid
‘guilt’ vanished or vanishing
facing more yesterdays than tomorrows
your early experience with the herb
morphed into a six spliff
five pack
a day habit,
and you’re like the unBeatling of George Harrison
challenging
lung cancer or heart attack
to “come and get you”
saying to friends with a deep breath
and a loud exhale
“ah, I can feel the cancer in my lungs already”
and lighting up another one
of a non-stop burning of thirty or fifty of them
resting in astray, though mostly
dangling between lips being sucked on
while the lunged creature is
typing
puffing
imaging the personification of George Orwell
dying of your habit
from your habit
shot through the neck but
still smoking, writing, dying
prone though propped up
puffing and hand written scribbling
in a note book
or typing on an old Royal
in bed
getting it down
till dead

April 19, 2009

Crones

by George Anderson

At the Caltex
pump a white
Toyota veers
sharply up a one
way entrance &
pulls beside the #7
petrol pump
blocking my
exit. A fat
greying woman
slams her door.
I’m sick of self obsessed
crones like her & yell out
thrusting out my middle
finger, ‘Read the
fucken sign next
time. This is one
way only!’ She is
disgusted. ‘Who do you
think you are swearing
at me? My husband’s in
the car. He’ll fix you fast’.

I stare in the car. He’s in
the back. He’s not going
anywhere. I’m 6’2’’210.
I’m not as fast anymore
but still hard to take down.
‘I don’t give shit lady,
the point is you’ve driven
up a one way lane & you
are blocking my way. There
are signs everywhere! Now
I’m going inside to pay for
my petrol & when I come back
out you better be fucken gone’.
Her husband, about 40, winds
down the window & apologises,
‘Sorry man, she always does this
to me. Please ignore her. She’s
receiving professional help’.

As the automatic door bolts
open I hear the quick churn of
tires, the crone’s defiant wrinkled
face snarling from the window, her
horn an emblem of her impotent fury.


*George Anderson's blog:
http://georgedanderson.blogspot.com/

five minutes

by The Poet Spiel

twenty five cents worth,
picked up from goodwill,
a full bridal veil,
clinging to your lost eyes
like used cheesecloth,
wetsopped in the salty brine
of hopelessness, dripping
downward to your weary shoulders,
drooping past your knees, bent
to the beaten toes of your tough
old cowboy boots, peeking out
like tarnished trophies
of better times

and you are slumped to the kitchen floor,
a lump of pissed-off mudhead,
talking inside your oven door
how lately you’ve been spreading
dead seed on spent ground,
slobbering yammers of
who you used to be.

oh yeah, big deal, quite a guy.
all the ass you’ve scored.
lines of fans in wait
just to see you pen your artful name.
oh how dear the fame
(five minutes not fifteen).

ahh, but here now, the smell of rotten egg
seeping from this oven’s wavering pilot.

you slip your hand beneath the veil
between your legs for one last consideration.
shall you strike the match you grip there?
but oh shit, if you don’t strike it
you’ll be wedded to the stink of you,
bridled for one more day, and still another,
to face the sham you know you really are.

but ahh again, your fortune has turned
as you savor and suck the odor of gas so deeply;
you discover the match, like the quite a guy,
anxiously waits to spark the big deal fire


*check out The Poet Spiel's 5-page website at:
http://www.thepoetspiel.name/

April 18, 2009

Sell My Soul

by Chris Butler

Sell my soul
and strip my bones
bare,

because I’ll
just have to swallow
whole

any inanimate
object or animistic
stone,

some sustenance
for my invisible iron
core,

to feel full-filled
of immaterial matter,
alone,

of this essentially
senseless essence,
absent,

lost in limitless
limbo of inseparable
selflessness
and unsubstantiated
substance,

while I am too
busy being a human
being,

breathing dust
into stuffed nostrils,
bleeding,

because I don’t
need it no more.

Hate

by George Anderson

Hate is dark. Guttural.
Largely unfathomable:
A surging, tearing, choking rage.
Seething, mashing

through clenched teeth.
Reeking,
of hot hunched shoulders.
Lurching callous fists.

The hard quick crunch
On soft fearful faces.
Cleaving open wounds-

like flower petals
or mushroom clouds
multiplying upwards
in soft ripening rays.

April 17, 2009

Aphorisms to Guide Your Life

by George Anderson

My old man expressed
his attitude to me in aphorisms

in little kernels of wisdom
usually after guzzling
between 12 and 24 beers.

‘I wanna tell you something’,
he’d begin,
pointing to the kitchen chair,
‘Sit down’.

It was a kind of ritual.
Firstly, he’d scowl at my
earring and throw in a jab,
‘You didn’t need another
hole in your head’.

I would generally nod
dumbly in agreement
moving the inquisition along,
drinking his beer.

'You think yer tough?'
'No', I’d tell him
for the 100th or so time,
not wanting to provoke
a senseless argument,
‘I’m weak as shit’.

After a few treadless jokes
he’d tell me tersely,
‘You don’t know fuck all’.

I would nod & smile
tell him he was right
& slip into my room
when he was distracted.

Later, in night I’d often
find him sitting in his chair
or sprawled on the floor snoring
sometimes in piss or vomit or shit.

I’d think of another of his aphorisms,
‘When my wife died, I died too’.


*George Anderson's blog:
http://georgedanderson.blogspot.com/

April 16, 2009

smoking weed with my name

by D.C. Porder

i sink into my skin
like a scalpel.
i slice veins of thought.
daylight stalks me
across the room.
i want to vanish.
i close the curtains.
i take another hit.


*D.C. Porder's blog:
http://www.dcporder.blogspot.com/

DO I HAVE TO REALLY WRITE ABOUT WHAT SEEMS MOST SCARY?

by Lyn Lifshin

Isn’t it enough I’ve fought against
it, ballet classes every day,
often more than one. Do I have
to tell you I was stunned by the
letter from a woman who says “now
in the gym the men stop looking.”
Do I have to joke “pull the plug if
I can’t do ballet,” laugh when a
friend says “I didn’t sleep with him
because I’d have to get undressed.”
Do I have to remember my mother
saying she’d rather be dead than
lose her teeth? Have to know if I
stay slim, size zero in ultra sexy
Victor’s Secret jeans without
more fat my face will look less
lovely. I think of that friend who
says she doesn’t worry about what
poem she’ll read but what she
will wear. Another says she wants
plastic surgery but doesn’t think
it’s right for someone in the arts,
shouldn’t she care about loftier things?
I think of another woman who will
only be photographed in certain
positions. Do I have to tell you what
I’m thinking about isn’t death?


*Lyn's website:
http://www.lynlifshin.com/books.htm

April 15, 2009

Houses of Decay

by John Rocco

In the bar
again
Chris is buying for a change
and he tells me he just
went to the dentist
who told him his teeth
were all loose
but it was the same
with everyone else
all his patients over
the last year coming
to him with loose teeth
cracked teeth, teeth on edge,
unhappy houses of decay.
He told Chris he had
twenty-year-old
patients with cracked teeth
from tension, teeth
grinding breaking
against each other
because of the global
economic collapse
tooth decay bailouts for the banks.


My tongue to my teeth
hard and unloose
eating dollars
cracking coins
punched with vodka breakfast
washed in beer for lunch
colored with the smoke of dinner
my houses of decay
pulsating in rot riot
tight and happy
because I will stick
my tongue in her mouth tonight.


*John Rocco at MySpace:
http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=292819823

5 minutes for fighting

by John Rocco

Hammer in my heart
I’m at a hockey game
in good seats I can’t afford
drinking drinks I can’t afford
in Madison Square Garden
$39 for two Jacks
but they were doubles
Orson Welles doubles
and almost worth it
with Steve paying.
Drinking I remember
I had asked Amanda
from Colorado
earlier
what was the biggest
thing she ever killed
and she said: “A big moose.
I had to shoot him 5 times
in the heart to bring him down.”

16 minutes and 20 seconds
into the first period
when the first fight breaks out.
They pull their helmets off
and stare before
throwing down their gloves.
Punching until the ice
punches them.

A moose’s heart blown up
my double shot gone
and Sean Avery gets
5 minutes for fighting.

April 14, 2009

Duck and Cover

by Paul Hellweg

I had lunch with Kumari today
and reminisced about my childhood,
how we had “duck and cover” drills
in grade school back in the 50's,
and we both got a good laugh
at the absurdity
of hiding under a desk
to save oneself
in a nuclear blast.

I should mention
that Kumari’s mother,
a 12-year-old schoolgirl
at the time,
survived Hiroshima,
otherwise the K. and I
wouldn’t have had lunch
today.

And I guess it’s always easier
to laugh at horror
than it is to go insane
embracing it,
anyway,
K. proposed that so many
people died at Hiroshima
and Nagasaki
because Japanese tables
are only a few inches high
and tens of thousands
must have perished
in nuclear holocaust
while attempting
to duck and cover
under tables
too short for anything
but the house cat.

April 12, 2009

Things You Should Know About The Girls

by Cassandra Dallett

You should know
that The Drink Team was so good at what we did
most of us were sober by our 21st Birthdays.
You should know
that we never “fit”
but we were always “in”
We hung with
Punks in the pit,
Skins on the stoop,
Head bangers at house parties,
Cholos in low riders,
Bloods off the block,
freaks and fiends
funding our highs.
Misfits at every phase
I was the only white girl
Winnie & Juju the only Chinese
and Passion the only Hawaiian on the scene.
We were every man’s dream.
Galileo High in 1985.
Me fresh off a plane from Vermont.
Judy approached me first
in the hall
I was a towering skinhead in doc martins.
Judy in all blue-black
liquid liner expertly applied,
layers of torn hose webbing her legs.
“What’s up?” She said with a generous smile
On her pretty moon face
and invited me out to "The Wall"
where the white kids and “The Others”
loitered and smoked
refugees from a sea of typical Chinese
and Black teens.
There I met Wendy and Passion.
Wendy cute in a reddish brown perm, converse and leather.
Passion in her Silent Bob overcoat rhythmically swaying.
The shape of a bell always tolling.
We cut out
to boost diet pills and ended up
In Chinatown at Wendy & Judy’s.
They introduced me to huffing Wite-Out
from small paper bags.
Me clinging to my Mickey’s 40 ouncer.
thinking these girls sure were weird.
It wasn’t long till we were inseparable.
Wendy liked her liquor hard
and we were pros
at the five finger discount
two of us hiding the booze
the other two lifting it.
We drank Jack, 151, Seagrams 7, and Peppermint Schnapps.
Wendy only showing her drunkenness
By the redness of her face
I only showed it
trying to fuck or fight.
Over the years we kept journals describing our perfect men
too often believing we needed one to define us.
We navigated the city on buses and hitchhiked rides.
None of us knew how to drive.
But we knew the rooftops of Chinese projects
Had a pigeon’s eye view of Broadway’s lights
Knew every stairwell and park bench on Haight.
Our crew grew and dwindled but it always
came back to us.
Four-
dropping out of school
and re-enrolling.
I finished
only because I kept showing up
looking for direction
loving the access to brothas
I brought down the hill,
teaching them how to fuck.
My bedroom a tall box
the Old English 800 tiger
roaring down at us.
In unlikely combinations
guys who supplied highs
and those we were really digging
God help them.
In that beer sticky, smoky room
slept the likes of
Terry Bash and Toby Rage
Cisco and Flaco, Headley (R.I.P.) and
Smoke n’ Raym from the block.
Everyone stayed at my house
Some stayed for weeks
Our drunken guests leaving
vomit trails down the hall.
My aunt threatening to kick us out all,
A few pushed, some stumbled straight through
our front door’s glass
or pissed slamming the metal gate
leaving the whole flat shaking in their wake.
Passion always on the run from a cramped studio
her parent’s intoxicated madness bouncing off walls.
Instead she chose to sleep in the back of a camper truck
in Kezar’s parking lot.
where other runaways and homeless hippies lived.
All of us crowded in, frying on acid
freezing mid-sentence every paranoid time
“Rollers” was loudly whispered.
In the dark and quiet each of us tripping
pictured the black and whites rolling silently by
waiting for their flashlights,
our stiff legs stretching to scatter.
They never did come and eventually
we lapsed back into important conversations
of where we would pull a runner on breakfast
or other feats of robbery and petty theft.
You should know
that we are all artists.
Even if our talents
lay dormant for decades.
Together we toted
Wendy’s canvas
painted with ladies high heel
on our backs.
We cried and laughed
the four of us.
Wendy’s boyfriend and his fatal ex
-fought us all, strengthened
by her obsession with that white boy
something we could all understand.
When she grabbed the phone
and called Wendy a bitch
we crossed town fast
swinging through his door we threw
bottles, speakers, bitches and motherfuckers,
as if he had cheated on all of us.
Later that night after storing
the painting at my house
and heading off to a party.
We danced and sang
“We are family, I got all my sisters and me”
His tubal baby almost killed Wendy,
but we survived
accompanied each other
through future births
and abortions.
Passion the first Mom
At 19, she suffered through labor
kicking me and my rustling classifieds
from her hospital room.
I thought, that with the birth of our first
I would get a job and stop fist fighting
with my boyfriend.
Some of us were strung out on dope,
some of us on love.
Through breakups and clean ups
spiraling depressions and near suicides.
We woke to three little birds
singing each other back to life.
We did that,
And you should know.
All of us were born in the fall.
Three roosters and a dog.
True to our horoscopes.
Balanced in our differences.
We are family people,
loyal to each other and to our blood.
All of us damaged
but grown up survivors.
We four
mothers
hope for children
not to go through all
that we did.

Dad’s Room

by Cassandra Dallett

On his wall hung ponytails
still in their rubber bands.
He cut them off once a year
and hung them, petrified by grime
like horns of some strange beast.
A beaded knife case next to them,
as if this buck knife was responsible
for the slaughtered hair.
Below the tails a bookcase,
dust on top of greasy dust,
paperbacks lined up,
Sci-Fi, and Beats
things he liked to dig
but I never saw him read.
Only papers and magazines
at the Kitchen table
Penthouse, Playboy,
National Geographic.
The dirty mags he kept,
boxed up next to the bed.
A dingy white radio
side curled up,
yellow melted plastic, from
balanced burning cigarettes
played around the clock.
From my bedroom I wondered
if the Bee Gees were boys or girls,
what a douche was and why
someone would be wrapped up like one
in the middle of the night.

April 11, 2009

THE FIRST TIME

by Lyn Lifshin

not in a marriage bed but
in a motel I could walk to
from that raised ranch my
husband and I played house
in. Virgins for years after
the wedding until I taunted
a man with words, the only
way I knew, got him to
slither in broken shoes from
another coast. I didn’t know
if he really was an ex con.
He looked like a stud. He
couldn’t believe he had me
first, rocked back on his
knees in the motel as cars
honked by. I didn’t know if
he could kill me, what I’d
get from him. Or that I
would not feel different,
would not feel much. I
looked in the mirror, felt
his tongue along my mouth.
Already I was longing for
quiet afternoons alone
while this large man who
wouldn’t fit anywhere
slogged a beer, grinned,
said he kept tasting me


*Lyn's website:
http://www.lynlifshin.com/books.htm

THE COUSINS' PARTY

by Lyn Lifshin

A Sunday every August my mother’s cousins
came with photographs from summers they
camped out on North Pleasant, my grand
mother making lemon meringue pie my mother
ordered in restaurants, always found wanting.
The last time I drove up, a lover’s scent
still in my hair, my lace smelling of him,

leaves tipped with red. Suddenly, the cousins
began to go, my mother couldn’t swallow.
Someone went into the hospital for something
minor but didn’t return. Kay, who loved my
poems, had fought so many parts of her being
poked at and sliced away but always made up
-- with a new wig, smiling and dancing,

suddenly couldn’t go on anymore. They skipped
the party for one year while another cousin fell
and couldn’t remember his name and Kay’s husband,
always her lover, the one she talked about putting on
sexy lingerie for even while having chemo, wore
a wig to go to sleep, falls over in a day and uncles
start coughing, gasping for air they never get again.

Like birds migrating as if they got a signal, some
radar, or something in the leaves and they’re on
their way, like they did other summers, packing the
old Ford for Atlantic City, Chicago World’s Fair 1939
in Panama hats and Navy middy dresses, everyone
going, not wanting to be left behind

April 10, 2009

Posing as Rimbaud

by William Doreski

A French-speaking city plain
and geometric as Saigon
but lacking tropical languor.
The boulevards sigh as a breeze
from the south excites the plane trees.
The war receded long ago,
leaving pockmarks and a hole
in my body too subtle to fill.

You don’t remember armies glinting
in the streets, gunfire voicing
a thousand objections. Too young
to register the angry verbs
that closed the theaters and cafes,
you slept away the atrocities
and grew up in a silence
to which aggrieved parties agreed.

I had volunteered to pose
as Rimbaud, a figure outlined
in smoke and history. My wound,
a theoretical effect,
bled only when someone observed.
Yet unlike the soldiers buried
under white crosses outside
the city, I lived an epic
without self-sacrifice, and thrived
in the details of my retelling.

You grew up to smile on this city,
invoking its primary colors,
while to me it will always be gray
as a sunken ship. But meeting you
on the boulevards and sharing
café au lait encourages
my belief that only fiction
ennobles us, polishing the scars
until they shine like nickel plating,
endearing us to the psyche
that’s otherwise eager to kill.

A Chirping in the Brain

by Luca Penne

Not Emily Dickinson’s “giggling” but a chirping in my brain, like a smoke detector whose battery is failing. I feel this, but refuse to panic. The light in the trees is summery. The rasp of a distant chainsaw asserts a human presence. Already, though, swamp maple and sumac redden along the road where marshland sprawls unashamed.

No wonder that when dozing off for a few minutes in slanted heat I recalled the post office of childhood, where I discovered in the trash sample drugs discarded by local physicians, who never dreamed that demented children would poison themselves to induce a possible high. Of course I didn’t take the drugs but sold them practically at cost to schoolmates who ingested them without achieving anything except a giggling in the brain. Not that the nineteenth century notion of madness applied. Seventh graders never quite go mad; they get even. One stole my lunch, another told the principal I’d sold phony, ineffective drugs.

Twenty years later this crime returns as a chirping so faint I’d mistake it for a fledgling, but the fledglings all have flown. The sloped August light is too stiff to heal parts of me I’d rather forget. When I check the mirror I’m still there, although my unwilled expression seems fixed like a daguerreotype, proof against what’s coming.


*Luca Penne is just an ordinary guy whose work has appeared here and there.

April 9, 2009

Something To Wander About

by Randall Rogers

Some mornings a few years ago
but rarely now
when I go to sleep at
night
I don’t want to wake up in the morning
back then, when dawn came
I was already depressed
thinking about the depressing
day ahead of me
and all the other ones I’ll suffer through till I die
it is at this time
the individual needs
the solace and escape-invigoration-inspiration
of mostly the illegal drugs
to my way of thought, suicide could be the result of the patient’s lack of the beneficial restorative (of the will to live) of illegal
drug treatment
“I’ll tell you one thing,” the youngish guy from Alabama told me, a guy who sounded like and I’m almost sure had more than his share of cracker in him. The intelligent un educated American said, pointing to my stash of methamphetamine “that there is the best cure for depression.”
Nowadays nary a day goes by
when I don’t take his hillbilly advice
and I don’t imbibe in this supposedly most noxious
of life destroying evilest most sinister and detestable in its powerfully addictive effects chemical – hell bathroom cleaning product, Vick’s inhalers and battery acid consisting of the most feared lethal dangerous deadly destructive of our youth and the older folk illegal drug substance
and taking this “Nazi Speed” I’m like Mr. Confidence and poem essay short story producing like a madman, like a Philip K. Dick and Ginsy
it’s kind of like in Cowboy times with me and writing, back then it was the whiskey talkin’
here in the Twenty first of these centuries we got the tweakers poeticizin’
I believe sort of firmly in this
the idea of safe irresponsible drug use to offset the plastic fake phoniness effect of our consumer propagandist and TV movie defining unable to self actualize in a false values, pitch person shaped desires, created fake unfulfilling even when the wants desires expressed as needs are abundantly met/filled social organizational goal
Wealth accumulation as the ultimate goal and retail therapy make for a full unfullfillment in the beginning and end
the great Walter Benjamin was not wrong when he suggested
the anomic and egoistic disruptions of a person’s life
the detrimental effects causing social and psychological states inimical to the continued survival of the tormented dude or dudette, may be offset by the effects of drugs. Mostly the drug effects of what are currently (2009) considered drugs of the illegal kind.
Personally I suggest the use of strong marijuana, type
cannabis sativa, soil grown, from Jamaica.
Show me a higher breed of cat than the Rasta? As energetically and I suppose happily bursting into song so suddenly it makes one jump startled a people I’ve ever come across.

Burning in Hell

by Alan Catlin

Riverside fog and swamp gases
in the low lying marsh, bulrushes
and the thin brown reeds where
the smokers inhale blue clouds
and slow burning tips, glass pipes
and low moans from the jackal faced
stoners, petty tipsters and penny ante
johns stumbling in the dark, lighting
their Zippos now that the scarred,
bent necks of the pole lamps have been
shot out, are irreparable, the damage
done negligible in the lives of the terminally
lost, blundering their way down blacktopped
walkways leading to where the wrought
iron railings have been ripped away,
sold for salvage, twelve pieces of crack,
the weight of one soul on fire along
the muddy banks of this overflowing
river cutting through the heart of hell.


*email: thecatlins@msn.com

Like a Postman Ringing Twice

by Alan Catlin

she bought me Schenley's and ice,
love in strange places, furious sex,
desperate and wanton as if we were
partners in some crime story as yet
unwritten, James M. Cain characters
on the run from laws we hadn't broken,
our uncommitted crimes as unsavory as
our hearts and our minds addled with
all the cheap gin and late night movies
we watched, the black and white shadows
moving on stained walls in unlighted rooms
we shared on the edge of industrial strength
nightmares we couldn't stop dreaming
so gone on life's poisoned drinks
we thought the sun rose at night leaving
heat rashes on our skin cold showers and
lotions could not assuage all the empty
days and nights of the moonlight and mayhem
of our lives.

April 8, 2009

so long as humans cut a path

by Justin Hyde

there will be the poor

and those dutifully helping the poor

and those laughing

while turning both of them

into yachts.

on being asked about parental influence on my creative development as a child

by Justin Hyde

my mother
brought home a birthday card
for my half-sister
down in missouri.

write something nice
for billie-joe,
she said
handing me the card
and a pen
as i sat in front of the tv.

that summer
i'd spent a week down in missouri
with billie-joe and her mother.
she'd introduced me
to all her friends:

there was frog
a star wars geek
who worked in the video store.

i doodled a picture of him
on the back of the card
with the caption:
use the force you must
happy birthday
from the frog.

then there was her boyfriend jared.
he was on steroids
wore ridiculously tight t-shirts
and was always asking people to
touch his guns.

i drew a picture of him
with the caption:
i know it's your birthday baby
but tell me
how's the flex?

then i did two or three others

filling up
most of the blank space.

my mother said:
you ruined the card.

she ripped it down the middle

tossed it in the garbage

and i was
sent to my room for the night.

April 6, 2009

ESTELLE, STAR STONES

by Lyn Lifshin

That summer on the sea porch, Winthrop, was
it July? My sister crying. Estelle,
even your name a bracelet, star stones

stars I put on and let the dark waves crash
on the bed. We were drifting into your 19 year
old life, imagining your boyfriends on the
other edge of your skin. Nipples on the beach, your

tan. You brought blue bowls of raspberries,
cream fingers. Estelle, Estelle, you wanted
to be what your name was and sang weekends on
the radio, sang brushing my hair in the
bathroom light. The white tiles cool.
My sun burnt skin. You said

you’d never stop singing, wouldn’t marry and
hummed something that both our fathers heard
on that boat from Lithuania, heard in a
strange tongue. We couldn’t understand
you said but would later and how
you’d dance as those children
had. Black pines.

Russia glowing in the sea. Night. We were
wrapped in cats and velvet. Moon on
the stones. You told us of dreams hidden
in the stone, got out that—I remember
the gold around the latch—

jewel box, it was what went with wishes
in old books and moonstones. Dream
fur. Choose one for later.

The smoothest stones. Your long thick hair.
Goodnight. Your name a charm still
though you married in some split level,
your throat stuffed with china
and none of the things you
promised would happen happened


*Lyn's website:
http://www.lynlifshin.com/books.htm

Whip-It

by Chris Butler

After hours,
a mound of discarded cream
melts in the Stop ‘n Shop parking lot
on a cool, cloudless August night
under the mumbling neon lights,
illuminating the chilled aluminum can
seized by my shivering hand.
The mass leaks in milky streams,
running off in random directions,
as the cans hiss with emptiness
from my pointer pressing the tip.
I am sodomized by the next nozzle
by inhaling the numbing nitrous,
and my brain cells swim in circles,
just to drown in puddles.

April 4, 2009

KEROUAC DRANK HERE

by John Rocco

The bottle to my lips
I see it like a shadow
in the bar, the tall urinals
and the day drinkers.
Leaving the
Kettle of Fish
they followed him
Shrouded Traveler
and beat Jack up
punching his saint face
and pounding his head
to bleed a Mexican night
of Tristessa’s morphine
the crash of Big Sur
Dr. Sax on the sidelines.
They beat him up
Manhattan walloped
him and wrote on
Village bathroom walls:
KEROUAC GO HOME.
You’re no good for us.

So he went home to
his universe mother
cooking for him
while he sat in the
living room
drinking
watching baseball
Dracula on the late show
dreaming of roads
trains
Neal doing hard time
a year for each joint.

The night is a poorboy
of Tokay wine
Jack drank
hopping freights
years ago outside
some city
headed to the next.

Bone told me
that when he was alone
in New Orleans
he was very happy
to have LONESOME TRAVELER
with him to share it.

I went to the bar
Gunther’s Tap Room
where Kerouac used
to drink when
he moved to
Northport, Long Island
with his cosmos mother
to get away from it all
and write. It all came
to him anyway
on his face on the picture
on the sign in the bar window
telling me
KEROUAC DRANK HERE.

April 3, 2009

jeramiah

by nila northSun

3rd day of spring
snow flurries and whipping wind
i see a mama pushing a stroller
barefoot baby no hat no gloves
i circle the block and park
go looking for this mama
and say 'where's your baby's socks?
where's your baby's shoes?'
she says 'you don't know me'
i say 'i don't but i'm a gramma of
a 1 year old and a 2 year old and a momma of others
and this isn't right'
and take off my gloves and put them
on his feet
he's not fussing or crying
he's just accepting the freezing
'what's his name?'
'jeramiah' 'how old?' 'one.'
i say 'come with me' and she does
i go to my car where i have my
baby car seat and rummage among
the toys to find a hat and blanket
and snackie foods and a toy
she says bless you and goes off
i run up to my apartment find socks
find a warm coat and run back down
but she's gone
i drive around looking for her
all gone
i stand on my balcony looking
over the city blocks
nothing
'jeramiah!!!!!'
nothing
jeramiah may you find warmth
in the cold
coolness in desert heat
and food for your tiny belly
give your momma strength
to make a life beyond homeless.


*nila northSun at Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nila_northSun

April 1, 2009

long hair professor

by The Poet Spiel

this dreary has-been
smears his creed on his left bicep
like a tattoo engraved in blood
drawn from a once-impassioned war

unaware
that when he flexes that muscle
its peace and love message is scattered
to snips of radical gibberish

revealing that his intolerance
might be better served
facing his own closet mirror
engulfed by moth-ridden doves

their feathers fallen to a heap
at his battle-booted feet


*check out The Poet Spiel's 5-page website at: http://www.thepoetspiel.name/