Sunday, April 29, 2018

Marianne Szlyk Runs Towards The Baseball Field Plane Crash

A Dream of November

The red, white, and gold belly
of the plane bulges above me.
November wind becomes roar of engines,
no longer October’s swoosh and swirl
of trees, of leaves, of hair.
I can no longer hear you.

I do not look up, knowing
I will see the cloudless sky
and the plane, the last thing
I may see.  Nothing good ever
happens on days like these.

I run away, denim skirt slapping
thick calves, bruising them, losing myself
on uphill streets past three-decker houses.
My heart races.  I brace myself,
escaping the city, the plane’s target.

Miles away, the plane crashes,
smashing against an out of season
baseball field.  Sirens throb, faster, faster
than my heart.  Someone else dies.

Catching my breath, I inch back
to the crash.  I find you,
still talking.

A Dream of Airports

I stand in line at Purdue’s tiny airport
on a brilliantly sunny day.  No clouds
to delay.   No turbulence to jar us.
No rain in the forecast.
I am going home from Indiana
with my bag of books and junk food.

I know this plane will crash
as it takes off from the airport.
Weighed down by hardback books
and granola bars, flaming,
it will fall into rows of soybeans.

As synthesizers play a peppy funeral march,
we queue up for the vehicle
that will take us to heaven or hell.
The thin ticket-taker wears a death’s head.

I step out of line.

September 10 in Indiana

Still newlyweds, we watched TV at your parents’.
In the background CNN hummed
a tune we’d never quite catch.

Perched on the scratchy couch,
we drank water—or tea—if
your mother was feeling festive.

Once again Chandra Levy surfaced
like the refrain everyone recognized
in a mumbled, droning song.

Your father thought that she was
his granddaughter snatched from
her husband and child in Chicago.

A woman my age, his granddaughter
looked like the missing girl
with bristling hair the color of

damp twigs and branches, taut arms,
a baggy sleeveless top with tights.
Both women leaned in for the camera.

Both women ran off gravel paths in parks.
You grabbed the remote from the table,
changed the channel to the local news.

A blonde meteorologist in a black dress
with long sleeves promised
blue skies until the weekend.

Marianne Szlyk edits The Song Is... a blog-zine for poetry and prose inspired by music (especially jazz).  Her second chapbook, I Dream of Empathy, is available on Amazon.  Her poems have appeared in of/with, bird's thumb, Cactifur, Solidago, Red Bird Chapbook's Weekly Read, and Resurrection of a Sunflower, an anthology of work responding to Vincent Van Gogh's art.  She has not flown in an airplane since Thanksgiving 2001.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Stefanie Bennett And A Star-Shaping Pencil Sharpener, A Speckled Bird, A Problem With Jules Verne, And A Looking-Glass War


         ... The burning tree quivers
         surrounded now by night.
         Talking to it I talk to you.

                              Octavio Paz

My misplaced pencil-sharpener,
How is it I’m to manage
The analogue without you!
Who beckoned you from
Your rightful place?
Was the act committed while
I was sleeping;
My head turned?
Did I simply
Neglect you
For too long?

Come back down... you don’t
Belong in the heavens.
Reshaping the stars
Is my judgement.
Forgive me. Forgive me.


Yet another one! The tongues click & off I go
demanding – this is no message – my
qualifications are shaky anyway...

The kind speckled bird has told me what depths
some will lean at. Whisperings. ‘Her trade’s
unisexual –& a would be blimp’ – & ‘don’t
you just know the poems flaunt a new left
set on self destruct?’

Well... that’s a bit much. As Dali
so pleasantly put it,

“instead of writing a history of art I am
writing the art of history.” Also, “If men go on dying,
blame Jules Verne – he was logical.” What I’m saying
is – I’ve no way of out-stating these things
& I’m not sure

if all of me wants to agree when I’m busily
being awed... YES, awed

by the sure flashes of colour – seemingly true – [dream
of a  Cosmic Unity] that I’d like to surrender myself
& would be cream-bun pacifists to. In full Spirit
can I again mime [Ah! manifestation] & toss this ‘other one’
... how the Great Speckled Bird rests

in the breast of each name-creed; that if – indeed – there
must be symbols, then best adopt this near divine invention

you need care for only when Unity stands its trial & much
is made of the perishing geometry; the detention of dance,
song, & fiction’s loss... the lingering anti-matter
we inspire – a whitewashed shy-hook & the Senses – hung,


What must word-play
Do with
A subject
That doesn’t exist!

Revisit the flaw
‘The Looking-Glass

Stefanie Bennett, ex-blues singer & musician, has published
several books of poetry & a novel & works with No Nukes, Arts
Action For Peace. Of mixed ancestry [Italian/Irish/Paugussett-
Shawnee] she was born in Queensland, Australia.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Matt Borczon With War In His Boot, The Cross Of Another Day, Dire Body Bags, And The Village Elders

Favorite  song

some days

this  song

is an

ace up

my sleeve

when the

war is

a loaded

gun in

my boot

and my


love is

the nail

I use

to hang


up on

the cross

of another


Compassion fatigue #4























Winter in Helmand

The first

night I

saw a

group of

village elders

asleep on

the ground

no blankets

or pillows

just paper

thin robes

on a night

the wind

cut so

cold it

hurt I

think I


we were

never going

to win

this war

Matthew Borczon is a poet from Erie, Pa he has written seven books of poetry so far. His new book Code 3 the prison blues is now available from Alien Buddha press. When he is not writing he is a nurse for developmentally disabled adults.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Mark Young Returns With Egregious Windmills, Circumsized USB Ports, Cosmic Emanations, And The Hubs Of A So-Called Civilization

geographies: Ciudad Bolivar

                   Now that the instruments
                           of the national orchestra
                have been turned into
                       mulch for the cacoa
                           plantations, it's easy to
                             see why US president
                  Donald Trump's decision
                    to send a task force of
             egregious windmills into
                   Venezuala to resolve the
                  country's political crisis
                           was anathema to the
                     local musical community.

geographies: Antalya

                              One of the hubs in this so-
                 called cradle of civilization is a

                           treasure house of circum-
                     cized single USB ports. It also

                         includes a kitchen that uses an
                   obscure cosmic emanation known

                as "fast radio bursts" to facilitate the
                  production of their artisanal craft

                          beers which are now available
                            in cans & bottles or on tap. 

geographies: Qaraghandy

                       CCTV allows the large
              Coyote Canyon framed print
                      currently occupying wall
                   space in a small Melbourne
                                  based design studio

                          to also be on display in a
                          place considered by many
                                  in the former USSR as
                   the middle of nowhere without
                having to be anywhere near there.

Mark Young's geographies have, over the years, been collected as e-books, chapbooks, & full-on collections from Argotist Ebooks, Dysphasia Press, Beard of Bees, & One Sentence Chapbooks, as well as being included as separate sections in The Codicils from Otoliths Books, & the eclectic world from gradient books.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Beau Blue With A Jade Dragon, A Cherry Nightstand, A Slender Syringe, And A Finale In The Mourning


     dried wine roses
     surrounding a jade dragon.
     the mantel's vase empty
     save a layer of dust.

     an urn, centered
     over the fireplace waits
     for its mate upstairs
     sleeping with tubes.

     a watch nurse prays
     into her black notebook,
     'the patient asks
     for more heat'.

     the cherry nightstand,
     inlay of rosewood,
     the brass handled drawer,
     a slender syringe.


     the moon reviews
     our tufted landscape
     dry spikes needle the air
     silence tills your desert
     bright night sands fill
     my retreating footsteps
     witness we were never there

Beau Blue has been around a while. Currently, he is the force behind 
animatedpoets.com, virtual stage manager at the Cruzio Cafe.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Leonard Gontarek Withstands Her Labyrinth, A Yard-Sale Military Lapel Medal, The Philosophy of Muggings, And A Lost Scarf

To Withstand Evil 

A Mistranslation

Live with Katerina. And marry her. And sleep with her.
And sleep with her again. She knows many more
things to do in bed than you. You are after all very
shy and inexperienced and reluctant to admit it.
In the climate of change it is as though
there is a second summer in the middle of fall.
Hydrangea re-bloom beside the peaked trees.
Hope that Katerina is still living with you in spirit
and not pretending to love you.
The light weakens. Keep in mind, Katerina has
nightmares too. Can we only replace a villainous
leader with another villainous leader?
This is not a good dream for her to be having.
The mice are sucked up like shadows
by light and the holes in the wall close.
And this is only the first part of the night.

Katerina goes out into the world.
She is committed to learning everything
about the world and falling in love with it again.
But there has been war. And she
must become a nurse in the land
of the dead where the chickens are frozen.
She celebrates healing, starts a garden,
grows cool tulips and swims
in underground rivers at night.

Far from her home and the man
she loved who is lost in a labyrinth.
Fuck him. I’m tired of getting
him out. It’s Sunday there
or Monday. She never understands
the time change. Katerina draws
a cross between a mandala
and black and white reproduction
of a Pollock abstract. She says
this is what the breath of
many years looks like. What she
knows the trees know and there is
not an ounce of God in it.
This is difficult to accept and
she must keep it to herself.
The stinging wind and morning of loneliness
she must bear too and bear alone.

Battle For The Soul Of The Country

Panel a

He would go back when
the first gun was guided into his hands.

He has filled in a heart
with black and cut it

and pinned it inside his coat.
A yard-sale military medal on his lapel.

A memory of his mother saying,
Look, it is a carpet of flowers.

Panel b

I sit between two men in a diner booth.
On my left, the man is on
a talking jag, wooing me
with anecdotes, arm around me,
spitting and narrating, salting my food,
while the one on the right lifts my wallet.

Panel c

The storm approached.
They removed the stained glass
windows from the church
and placed them safely

in their basements.
After the bombings and the rain,
after the mist cleared,
they emerged from their homes

as though into a new world.
They replaced the windows,
but they were never the same.
At times, the wind whistled through.

Panel d

I say to the mugger:
What of the one town,
the god’s or devil’s pocket
in all of the madness,
does this not suggest
that the country is good
and there are riches beyond
our beliefs, homes with
true works of art?
What about the child
who has drawn a peanut
shape with a worm in it
to indicate the earth?

Federal Land Grab

Dream 1

I left a beautiful scarf
in a restaurant
that closed within a year
which I saw trailing
from the antler of a deer
in a field.
I didn’t make much of it.

Dream 2

He had hoped it would
rain and it did when
he was on the plane
returning to the desert.

Dream 3

I wept about something I read
in a newspaper.
I say wept but I mean
I froze and was able
to step out of my body
and walk a long distance
till I came to a stream
and sat down and wept.

Leonard Gontarek is the author of six books of poems, including, Take Your Hand Out of My Pocket, Shiva and He Looked Beyond My Faults and Saw My Needs. He coordinates Poetry In Common, Peace/Works, Philly Poetry Day, The 
Philadelphia Poetry Festival, and hosts The Green Line Reading & Interview Series. He has received Poetry fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Mudfish Poetry Prize, the Philadelphia Writers Conference Community Service Award, and was a Literary Death Match Champion. His poem, 37 Photos From The Bridge, a Poetry winner for the Big Bridges MotionPoems project in 2015, was the basis for the award-winning film by Lori Ersolmaz.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Adrian Slonaker Chronicles Epistolary Embraces, Undulating Longhand, Hotel Mattresses, and Psychobiddy Melodramas


For as long as she'd filled out her census forms,
Shirley had been a one-person household,
and she wasn't a hugger, concluding that,
unless a kid is clutching you to
prevent plummeting to a painful death,
a hug is superfluous.
Yet she posted epistolary embraces to
a penfriend named Ahmet,
the fiftyish Turkish typing teacher who wrote in
dreamy undulating longhand
and sent selfies of a mustachioed face with smiling eyes
and a solemn mouth.
His warmhearted words, eagerly gulped down-
like cloudy lemonade with clinking shards of ice in a heat wave,
sustained her in stoic solitude as her humdrum haze
of postmenopausal puttering progressed
from tolerable to acceptable.
Their correspondence continued until year six, when
Ahmet vouchsafed that he'd be visiting her,
snaking a romantic route from Izmir to Yonkers
by ship and by train.
On April 12th she put on her chartreuse shift dress
and Chanel No. 5
and waited at the railway station
for a passenger who never stepped onto the platform.
Shirley shuffled back every morning
for nine Ahmetless days
before she shrugged her sloping shoulders
at the ninth shrinking caboose
and silently slaughtered hope. 

“The Hotel Mattress”

The mattress is long in the tooth,
if mattresses could masticate,
having dazzled in its debut in the city's haughtiest hotel,
bolstering the sweat-blotched backs of visiting VIPs
and their lovers.
But mattresses, like Hollywood honeys,
have a best-before date,
so as Joan Crawford and Bette Davis were found featured
in psychobiddy melodramas in the sixties,
the mattress was next cast in a mid-range motel,
braving ravioli smudges, incontinent seniors, sick anklebiters,
and cursing couples cross at the requirement to rise
at three fucking a.m. for cheap Continental flights.
The mattress continued its descent
down to a roadside flophouse,
suddenly smeared with hookers' rouge and vodka-scented vomit
and grossly groped during demoralizing drug busts.
The mattress is beyond knackered,
yet pleased with its red-letter rips, stains and sags
as a valiant vet is proud of the Victoria Cross or L├ęgion d'Honneur.

Adrian Slonaker works as a copywriter and copy editor, dividing time between Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA and St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada. Adrian's work has appeared in Squawk Back, The Bohemyth, Queen Mob's Tea House, Pangolin Review, The Honest Ulsterman, and others.