Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Stephen Mead In the Protozoa of the Centrifugal Church of Rain Forests Whose Resonance Quells All Amnesiac Zeitgeist

Rain Dreams 

With the sun
subliminal but
a constant
foothold on
protozoa, yeast,
hot springs, these
seeds of life streaming
beneath an oil spill's hemorrhage.

gushing over
the purple heather

Thunder claps, cracks of veined
neon yellow bright
in this dry drought
stricken village
the militia slashed
like a pregnant rain forest.

That too is
somewhere else
is it not
Big Daddy War Bucks,
another place

the pockets dropping
coins like bombs
while some  (in the book
of many) Plain Jane
Old Maid saves the day,

mindful, eyes on news,
in a crusade of watering,
singing to

Sitting Still

We are centrifugal, impelled with the inward faith of a tree.
Can you believe it, that these leaves shaping space
Are really rooms filled with furniture, air open
& wide?

Here we are
Either five years old or one thousand,
All ages overlapping, lost tracks of meaning
Still resonant as a church.

Who’s singing?
What voice is calling”  “Follow, follow,”
As though the mind’s eye must be guided
Through both memory & the real?
Do I see, hear as I think, or is each sense simply
Made up along the way?

A café now, or, no, just our old kitchen,
Two lovers glimpsed between summer
Breathed curtains, your lit candle, my cigarette,
Our faces read by that imperceptible
Leaning into
The light cups
Like a moth.

My darling, I haven’t been as centered since,
Though the contentment which brimmed is an ocean
Moments, motionless, still carry.

Testaments (for Anna Akhmatova)

Beyond misery and madness, beyond
blitzes, tartars & prayers
for death, my life
dissolving autobiography
infinitely interchangeable
along time's constant zeitgeist, the radium
of amnesia killing memory until, by surprise,
posthumous breaths again stoke the vision,
refute evidence of destruction:
TB, blacklisting, the beloveds taken away...
What is this, this something
which twitches like a cat
or snow slowly fanning to reveal,
in clear moments, Leningrad rooftops?
Hands, gazes, embrace chocolate earth,
the rich silt massaged and tossed forth
toward a sky bursting titanium.
Dark flakes hit the whiter,
a mixed squall against blue——
Knowledge, experience outlasting all which sought
to drive spirits down,
& succeeding in part
with the encampment of skin...
Here survival is not virtuous, but a fact
which nearly refrains from rejoicing
yet does not   does not
for the soul is an oath swearing to witness
the sting of strife
(in the lungs)
and still
(with whatever voice is left)

A resident of NY, Stephen Mead is a published artist, writer, maker of short-collage films and sound-collage downloads. His latest P.O.D. amazon release is an art-text hybrid, "According to the Order of Nature (We too are Cosmos Made)", a work which takes to task the words which have been used against LGBT folks from time immemorial. In 2014 he began a webpage to gather links of his poetry being published in such zines as Great Works, Unlikely Stories, Quill & Parchment, etc., in one place: Poetry on the Line, Stephen Mead

Allison Grayhurst Licks Skin Acid For Alchemical Purposes While Loving Those Centuries Gone

Steel and Spice

Inch across
the bell-cups of lilies
in the dead oblivion
of decades of reality’s denial.

Inch into the sweetness
of a lilac’s centre,
nourished on imagination everytime
over the bite of bitter soup.

Gather the crows in your morning sky,
ask them to envelop you and then ask
their forgiveness.

Hiding your panic
in the promises of miracles, licking the acid
off of your skin to make for a good story,
for the belief in an undamageable surface.
Mistaking silk for bread, counting on
God’s kindness to come on the brink
of desperate need.

Will you now
be a slave to the feast of worms or
strip-mine until what little gold you find
feels like abundance?

Maybe you are safe, living in this
burning garden, protected with a poet’s peace
and by a faith that bypasses gravity’s consequences, but
has consequences and demands of its own – ones
you must live by and dedicate yourself to keep

turn a blind-eye to practicality,
and press all fear into a resounding prayer,
existing on the substance of
divine gifts, gifts that are final,
that have no price to pay except that you
leave yourself leaning, tied and planted only
to this holy dreamscape liberation.

Alchemy Completion

Far enough
to line the bed with
lavender clouds,
pull off the covers
and be entombed.
Fine sleep and soft
tenderness warming limbs,
wetting where it warms,
soon to cool – breathing like
singing, lines smeared into
unified devotion, matching frequencies,
backward, forward leading toward a tower
to leap off of, a bed to stretch on, sink into.
It is holy, mud-caked, drawn curtains torn
from their rod. It is thinking in intonations
and shades, a cascading buzz riveting from
bone to bone – two spliced and joining opposite halves,
a power equal in its mercy. Far enough,
just there, drawing breath on the summit, dissolving
boundaries in sensual elevation, far enough
continuing, collapsing, swallowed
into the pitching current.


Held still
like apple butter held
smooth on the tongue, catching
grief in a cage, on the surface
of a name – would it be
kissing or pinning a broken coat-zipper
together – once the fog has left is there
anything left to hold out for? Hold still for,
like a hooked fish releasing the struggle?
Being alive in the dream-state ambiguity,
meaning full then meaning naught and
how old are you?

Your horse, Dee, steady
in the sunlight, glinting a wild connectivity,
intelligence gleaming across a chestnut coat,
bowed head, permission to pet granted and then
sleeping in a stall, talking out loud when everyone else
had gone home. It was not a dream,
not until she was gone and then it was a dream
lost, and maybe never there.

People love their trees
the ones they think they own. But I never loved a tree like
I loved the willow tree in my Montreal backyard. I never
loved anyone who hadn’t died at least a hundred years
before I was born until

there was you, rounding up the stones from every table,
sitting alone only to stand up again before the seat
warmed, and ‘perfect’ made sense but nothing ever expected.

Dee and the willow tree. I left my body and flew
into the sun.

Why can’t I leave my body and fly into the sun,–
meals take care of,
sex and you, a beautiful summer star.

Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Three of her poems have been nominated for Sundress Publications “Best of the Net” 2015, and she has over 950 poems published in more than 400 international journals and anthologies. Her book Somewhere Falling was published by Beach Holme Publishers, a Porcepic Book, in Vancouver in 1995. Since then she has published twelve other books of poetry and seven collections with Edge Unlimited Publishing. Prior to the publication of Somewhere Falling she had a poetry book published, Common Dream, and four chapbooks published by The Plowman. Her poetry chapbook The River is Blind was published by Ottawa publisher above/ground press December 2012. In 2014 her chapbook Surrogate Dharma was published by Kind of a Hurricane Press, Barometric Pressures Author Series. In 2015, her book No Raft – No Ocean was published by Scars Publications. More recently, her book Make the Wind was published in 2016 by Scars Publications. As well, her book Trial and Witness – selected poems, was published in 2016 by Creative Talents Unleashed (CTU Publishing Group). She is a vegan. She lives in Toronto with her family. She also sculpts, working with clay; www.allisongrayhurst.com

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Ryan Quinn Flanagan Rattles the Truncheons in Bloodshot Gangsta Rap Arthritic Frazzled Rain as the Naked Woman Lingers

Carpenter Bees in the Deck Wood Starting Over  

the pulsing drill bit man
riot police forming lines like ants to sugar
and volleys of tear gas, the outdoorsman’s fog machine,
truncheons knocked against shields in rhythmic violence
store awnings protruding like the entrepreneur’s hanging blue foreskin
little men in barbershop chairs getting the forest of their hair cut away
straight razors across the face in cold metallic precision
I love this land, not out of some waving idiot patriotism
but because the sand between my toes is grainy
and tangible
the grass blades sharper then glass refusing to harm you
green knives like walking across a bed of nails
the sprinkler wet laughter of hurried children
carpenter bees in the deck wood starting over
and this is the moment you choose
to come to me with your plan,
the whites of your eyes
murder-for-hire bloodshot
with effort.

Straight Outta Compton, Straight into Soaker Tubs

What to make of gangsta rap
at fifty?

Everyone in mansions
in the Hollywood Hills
with someone to do their shopping
and someone to do their thinking
and $10 000 poodles
named after obscure
French butlers.

The prenup long

now the largest

And property tax, of course,
that shit keeps going up
each year.

New Digs

I like the new neighbourhood.
Nary a dull moment.

There’s the electrician in his van taking pictures of small children
and many dogs in traffic
and the crack whores falling out of the crack house
one after the other like frazzled rain…

Hell, just the other day a man ran down the street.
He was completely naked.
Then a woman ran past after him.
She was naked as well.

I took a long swig of beer
and watched.

I guess it’s true what they say;
behind every naked man
there’s a naked

Though anatomically speaking
you imagine it the other way

I watched them round the bend in the road
until I could not see them anymore.

Then I went back inside
and let a chair sit on me
for a change.

Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his other half and mounds of snow.  His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, Word Riot, In Between Hangovers, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.

Changming Yuan Among Beijing Willows, Unpolluted Night, Dusty Pasts, Snags and Wounded Crows

As Plants Grow around Us

As more plants grow around us, they will 
Show what we cannot show ourselves

A blade of grass that has been trodden many 
Times still continues to hold a dew at dawn

A Huyang tree manages to stand long after it dies
And never gets rotten even longer after its fall

A Beijing willow is always ready to bend in grace
To hold winds with its arms, despite its naked scars

A rotten snag with a new twig 
Growing against all the broken rings 

Tender Was Once the Night

How fondly you often miss, recollecting 
The shredded darkness of a primitive night
Like your native village (or first love)
So pure-hearted, full of natural charm
Without being disturbed by wood fire
Candle light, let alone electric shine
When fireflies had fun above
The thick bushes, where primroses
Bloomed towards a meditating owl 

O for an unpolluted night! And let trees
And flowers have a sound sleep 

Once Picking up a Powerful Country 
This Little Poem of Mine Goes Right

Only recently did I become alert to how
I resemble uncle Sam. They – it? – don’t 
Like China. I don’t like China either 
(Though not for the same reasons.) They try
To reap cash in all prospering economies; I 
Try to gather every penny from the corner
Wherever I can see and lay my humble hands
They hold high their banners of democracy
And human rights; I like my rights and detest  
Dictatorship (though perhaps for different 
Purposes.) In particular, they enjoy bullying
The weak, dodging the strong, disturbing
Waters to fish and using dirty tricks to keep
All others down; I am ready to say foul words
To do whatever possible to rise above myself
In this harshest human condition, although I 
Was not born to be a villain. The only difference
Lies in the degree to which I am selfish, villainous
Hypercritic, and they--it? -- are way more so

Getting Ready: for Liu Yu 

Lastly, remember to burn this box with me, Son
It contains all my most precious pictures, letters
Certificates, awards, notebooks, manuscripts
Which do not sell anyway. As for my clothing
And furniture, I have donated them all shortly after
Your dad was gone. Help me to mop the floor and
The dusty versions of my pasts, sunbathe my quilts
As well as the one extra set of clothes which have
Covered my inner and outer being for the last ten
Years. Now I finally have everyone to think of
In light of light that illuminates the darkest composite of 
My consciousness. The departure is due soon, and I am
Fully prepared to set off on this final trip. As you know
I really hated it when we threw all your father’s 
Belongings, soft or hard, away as garbage the other day 


It’s like a snag in the Yangtse River
Being pushed towards me
By an indifferent wave

While struggling in the water
I flapped my arms high 
Only to see it drifting around
About a yard away

Sitting on the snag is a wounded crow
With eyes widely open
As if to appreciate my last dance 

Like a thought, sinking slowly 
To the bottom of my being 

Changming Yuan, nine-time Pushcart and one-time Best of the Net nominee, started to learn English at age 19 and published monographs on translation before moving out of China. Currently, Changming edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan in Vancouver, and has poetry appearing in Best Canadian Poetry, BestNewPoemsOnline, Threepenny Review and 1249 others worldwide. See more at:

Friday, February 10, 2017

Catherine Zickgraf Screams Every Time She Gets Ready For Church

Pills Don’t Hurtle Drawers/Roll Away

You are broomlike, stablest on your head, 
all toe hair and sawed nails, sold broken, 
an unarithmic puzzle, reasonless, lacking 
panic at your betrayal, a porcelain stomach 
spinning waves, an addict’s raw lips, ooze-
dripping veins like peeled plantains, antiqued 
in a sealed store front—oh, thinned liar, 
skinned open.

You are yourself alone, the lover you fondle, 
not cheek against untweeding cushions in 
some traphouse, squeezed instead between 
your own soul and my own sofa where you’ve
crashed, a houseguest where you found my
medicine you stole.  


I don’t mind your ex-wife stretched out in your penthouse
or your girlfriend’s speakers in the suite down the hall—
as long as I can settle my cheek in your chest 
on a tiny cot closeted under your stairs.  

Hiding under the Bathroom Sink

I slid in through the under-sink door.  
There, behind the Lysol, were the crackers 
I hid the week before since I knew when they 
pounded the floor chasing their insolent child, 
I’d want to be safely gone. 

They searched the place out, 
looking under the beds—
then realized I could be headed to the creek.  
They swept the place out, 
scanning all the corners, 
like a matriarch scrubbing out her household’s sin—
then realized I could be past the creek 
and deep in the trails, out of reach.

But I was nine and hiding under a sink, 
blue smocked dress crushed in with the darkness, 
legs bent up, my head on my knees, 
and I really had to go to the bathroom.

In there in white tights and only one shoe—
a rubber-soled brown, strap buckling the foot.  
It frustrated my folks and slowed us down 
that the other one was simply gone.

So much screaming while getting ready for church.  
Scary words while getting ready for church.  
They looked for me till I chose to emerge 
and then didn't even try to make it to church 
that Sunday I’d prepared for the week before. 

Catherine Zickgraf has performed her poetry in Madrid, San Juan, and three dozen other cities, but now her main jobs are to hang out with her family and write poetry. Her work has appeared in Journal of the American Medical Association, Pank, Victorian Violet Press, and The Grief Diaries. Her new chapbook, Soul Full of Eye, is published through Aldrich Press and is available on Amazon.com. 

Read more and watch more of her poetry at http://caththegreat.blogspot.com

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Joe Balaz With Aiplane Emogi Kabooms Pandas in Moa and Moa Revelations as Jive Scammers are like Sharks Under the Surface


Happy emoji                                                                                                                                   stay in da deep freeze.
                                                                                                                                                        No moa confetti                                                                                                                                no moa champagne
no moa flying through da clouds                                                                                                    on wun carefree airplane.
                                                                                                                                                        Da engine stay all broke                                                                                                                  and no can achieve anykine lift
sitting on da runway in da dark                                                                                                     like wun dead pigeon in da park.
                                                                                                                                                    Doom and gloom                                                                                                                           wit wun big kaboom
dat no one else can hear
as dat insidious blues ting                                                                                                                                      wit da sad mood dat it brings
takes you down inside da mind’s ear.

No moa pretty colors                                                                                                                       no moa dancing bear in wun tutu
no moa radiant neon news                                                                                                            from wun cheerful laughing clown—
No wondah whiskey goes down so easy.
                                                                                                                                                      Dats why                                                                                                                                      moa bettah just lay low
while everyting is all no go
cause happy emoji                                                                                                                        stay in da deep freeze
like wun big tuna                                                                                                                             all stiff on da ice.


                                                                                                                                                Bamboo Harvester
wuzn’t wun panda in China

or wun man in da Philippines

cutting stalks
to make wun house.

Growing in popularity
instead of growing in da jungle

he wuz certainly good
at creating wun splash

cause you can get
pretty well known

wen you make people laugh.

He wuz silly
and outrageous

and you knew him
wen he became famous

wit his big eyes
looking at you.

Funny hay and wild oats
wit wun occasional crazy apple

helped to feed da absurdity.

Just like Lady Gaga
and Bruno Mars

his name wuz changed too
so he could be moa cool.

Ask his friend Wilbur
cause he knows all about it.

Mister revelation
going give you Ed in da shed.

A horse is a horse
of course, of course—

You can now start singing                                                                                                               da  program’s catchy song

anytime you like.

BITE DA HEART OF DA ANGLER                                                      
You gaddah stay alert in dis town
cause everybody                                                                                                                               is eidah trying to con you
or dey going take advantage                                                                                                             of any misstep.
                                                                                                                                                       It’s twenty-four-seven                                                                                                                    and crazy eight swings
every day of da week.
                                                                                                                                                        So heah comes                                                                                                                          anadah round of jive scammers
each of dem casting me wun pitch
and tinking                                                                                                                                      dat dey going reel me in
to flap helplessly at dere feet.
                                                                                                                                                        Da invisible hook is plain to see
and I going tactfully spit it into dere faces                                                                                before I draw blood
cause my fins glide                                                                                                                  through da watah
and undah da surface                                                                                                                      you no can see my teeth.
                                                                                                                                                   Sharks no take da snagging bait—
Dey just bite da heart of da angler.    

Joe Balaz writes in Hawaiian Islands Pidgin (Hawai'i Creole English) and in American-English. He edited Ho'omanoa: An Anthology of Contemporary Hawaiian Literature.  Some of his recent Pidgin writing has appeared in Rattle, Juked, and Unlikely Stories Mark V, among others. Balaz is an avid supporter of Hawaiian Islands Pidgin writing in the expanding context of World Literature.  He presently lives in Cleveland, Ohio.                                                                                             

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Sanjeev Sethi on the Ferris Wheel of Wuthers Above the Private Demons as the Jingoistic Spiels Whoa Nellie


You are itching to be opened
aching for tendresse to begin her twirl.
You’ve chosen to cache in cauldron
of uncertainities. That may well
be the way. Or is it?

Waiting for wuther will not help.
It is fighting its own fog.
Baby steps to ferris wheel of options
will bring you to the roster of results.

Paradox of preaching:
the schematizer
is trapped in his own snarl.



Day opens her legs unlike my
love the previous night. Will
fog of failure seal the midmost?
In sublimation lies my savor.


Your murmurous paternoster
more fluent than the feints
stalking me. I sent myself
searching for certitudes, in
your thigh I met my moksha.


When his portfolio actualized
he surmised some of his private
demons could never be exorcized.
He sensed he couldn’t alter the
mess his offspring was in. He
weaned his heart to ache only for
the nation. Ache in a drawing room
sort of way. He moved his guests
with   jingoistic spiels: politicos
would be happy to co-opt him.


God knows me. Let this one know or
claim not to. Certes, rhythm of breath
realizes my innermore sarment is lit.
I dread no dusk. Carrier of catatonia
I know not your motive. Draw your
drapery: energize your environment.


Your weir is a whoopsie wave. Early at
sea one learns grief of gudgeon, quickly
one gathers when to yell, Whoa Nellie.

SANJEEV SETHI is the author of three well-received books of poetry. His most recent collection is This Summer and That Summer (Bloomsbury, 2015). His poems are in venues around the world: 3:AM Magazine, The Tower Journal, Peacock Journal, The Penmen Review, Red Fez, Indiana Voice Journal, The Penwood Review, Easy Street, Soul-Lit, Visual Verse, W.I.S.H. Press, Novelmasters, Poetry Pacific, Transnational Literature, Otoliths, and elsewhere. He lives in Mumbai, India.