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Friday, January 10, 2020

Stefanie Bennett And Anthrax Spores, Objurgation, Homeric Underpinnings, All Of Us Tossing Salt Over Our Shoulders

UNDISTORTED EXPERIENCE   


It’s growing up diagonally
At 64 and remembering
September 11
(Not specifically because
Cousin Ricki
Was there...)

It’s the tick-tacking accuracy
Of whether anthrax spores
Are absorbed
In our
Hung-over
Morning coffee

... Pseudo market forces,
PC hackers
                (Con amore)
Or trilingual brokers
Ensnared by
A crust of
Bullion rising

That collars the phrase – we
Become
What we deplete.



MACHIAVELLI REVISITED      


No one lives here any more, so how
Is it you found me
Thwack-happily accosted by chores?

Yes. It’s  the Sabbath – and dare
I objurgate your
Sunday best’s just too solemn

For my taste. Wise up. The young
Could do with a good rumble
Just ask that

Punk berating parrot how Homeric
Underpinnings took flight
The day I evened old scores.

Still – why not
               Cut to the crux
                             Of the crime...

Ah! Mentoring is narcissism’s
Elixir. Naturally
I’ll give it spin

Only next time
Send me
A new-born.



RADIO FREE EUROPE & BEYOND  “KISS”  


Dexterity was put on hold
As the bombs dropped.
Submissively, the woman
Tossed coarse salt
Over both shoulders,
Steadied the cut-glass pitcher
And folded curd
In a spotted napkin.

When the panting corridor of air
Spiralled
It slapped
The courtyard-child
(Her child)
Oblivion-bound.
Omitted is the sound
Of love’s collision.


Stefanie Bennett, ex-blues singer & musician, has published 12 books of poetry, a novel, & a libretto & works with NO Nukes: Art Action For Peace as well as ‘Equality.’ Of mixed ancestry (Italian/Irish/Paugussett-Shawnee), she was born in Queensland, Australia. Stefanie is currently working on New & Selected Poems.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

John Grey Sober At The Jukebox, Wary Of The Dear John Letter, And The White Man's Blues


THE DESIGNATED DRIVER

I'm drinking in a pathetic way
My fingers take up the task.
They drum on the table.
A friend jokes, "How's the Sarsaparilla?"
Actually, it's flat cola.
I'm the designated driver.
My thirst has been elected.
It must stay away from quenching
while my companions
double down on their happiness
with every sip of ale.

Tumblers of the stuff arrive,
froth enough to give birth
to Venus on the half-shell.
The beer glows melted gold.
The table rocks with filthy jokes.
Only I know they're not funny.
Jukebox blares and the singing commences.
Raucous bellows compete with booming beats.
Harmonics take a beating.
Melody tanks.
My ears are sorry
they were ever volunteered.
My buddies flirt. They roar.
They argue loudly but nothing comes to fisticuffs.
Mostly they're out of it.
Some collapsed across the table.
Others taking S curves to the men's room..
It's up to me to tell them
what a good time they're having.
Eventually, the bar closes
and my amateur, unpaid taxi
drops them at their house, one by one.
When I'm done,
I really do need a drink.
Out comes the whiskey bottle.
Click goes the glass.
I'm the designated driver
who drives himself to drink.

LOOKING IN ON THE AUTHOR

She wrote ferociously with one hand
while the other tapped slowly, softly, on the desk.
And then her pen slowed
as the tapping sharply increased velocity,
became almost violent as it thumped
relentlessly into the wood.
Finally, she began to write at a moderate pace,
and tamped the tapping to an equal speed.
Her creation, her fingertips, in perfect equilibrium, 
gave “Dear John” all of the kiss-off he could handle,
all of the kiss-off he deserved.


 BIT BY THE BLUES BUG

He was a white American boy
with one incessant problem.
He wasn’t a black American boy.
No, not the poor kid
dodging bullets on his way home from school
in some inner-city ghetto.
But the stylish, dazzling kind
he heard on the radio,
saw, now and then, on television,
when the Southern censors allowed.

He was troubled by his own skin.
Not because it paved the way or anything.
But, when he picked up his guitar,
the shade of his hands
didn’t go with the chords he played,
And when he opened his mouth,
the tonsils gushed sweet as a soda fountain,
not rough and lived in.
No grit in the tongue. No blood in the notes.
Not even when the tune dropped
from major into the 7th.
Just a vapid imitation of a standard blues progression.

He was a white American boy
obsessed with what he wasn’t.
He tried writing songs.
They came out like the Archies not Muddy Waters.
He even made some black friends.
They thought the Blues were a corny as Fat Albert.
They remained friends however.

And he became a white American man eventually.
Accepted what came with it.
Not privilege exactly.
But a willingness to leave his guitar
shuttered in its case for months on end.
When he did bring it out,
it reminded him how dumb he must have been
to want to be some old black bluesman
with the world on his shoulders
and the sound to prove it.
Instead, he picked out some of the latest pop songs.
Sang along to who he had always been.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in
That, Dunes Review, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work
upcoming in Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, Thin Air, Dalhousie
Review and failbetter.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Joe Balaz Sings of the Caracal, What's Beneath the Waves, and a Kite on the Moon

SLOW DOWNFALL


Dere’s da lynx and da caracal
by da cheetah and da cougar

standing next to da margay
and da leopard

along wit da serval and da jaguar

while da lion and da tiger
play tag wit da ocelot—


You get da idea
I like big cats

da moa wild da bettah.


Da key word heah dough
 is “wild”

cause I no like look at da buggahs
in wun cage.


Turn da prisoners loose
if you ask me.


Dose setups in city zoos
are just scientific circuses

witout da whips
and flaming hoops.


Dats why I no mind
da nature programs

filming da huge felines
in dere own habitats.


Even dough dey stay endangered
dey are bettah off

being wheah dey supposed to be.


If da buggahs go extinct
den dats da way it is.


It’s not like dis planet
nevah see radical changes before.

Go ask da saber-toothed tiger
about dat.


As da world is squeezed

in da face of development
and technology

some wonderful  tings
are gonna be lost.


While all of dis happens

I rather be wun neutral observer
to da slow downfall

rather den wun animal keeper
holding nature against its will

so dat its creatures
can exist as side shows

in pay to see jail cells.




CHALLENGING AS IS

Christine no can do it anymoa

visiting and trying to help out
wen she’s not even wun relative.

She feels kinnah bad
and hates to sound distant

but she knows
she gaddah tink about herself.


It must be wun very confusing
state of being

wen da sun is blotted
out of da sky

and all da familiar faces
no longer have any names.


Sitting deah
wit her ailing acquaintance

and observing da restless sea
from da surface

Christine fully realizes

dat she has no idea
wat is going on beneath da waves.


She’s struggling wit her compassion

and by no means can she imagine
wun halo above her head

cause lately she feels
as if she’s drawing inward.


Her world is hectic
and is challenging as is.

Dere’s no silver spoon
in her purse

dat she can fling at da clouds
to induce wun rainfall of plenty.


Christine has given everyting she can.


Wen she gets back to her own place
and accesses da  new reality

she rationalizes and lets go
like many people eventually do.


Opening her refrigerator
Christine finds

dat wit all of her recent running around

she needs to get some fast food again

cause da only ting worth eating
is wun box of uncooked chicken

but da pieces are frozen solid
harder den her newly changed heart.




LIKE LOTS OF TINGS

Like Buddha
taking wun selfie.

Like hunters
eating vegetable soup.

Like eternal peace
aftah da bomb explodes.

Like Santa and Satan
wit da same letters.

Like ants
in wun birdcage.

Like wun priest
in wun whorehouse.

Like wun kite
on da moon.

Like wun refrigerator
in wun igloo.

Like virgins
wit experience.

Like feelings
to wun robot.

Like wun monk
wit wun Mercedes.

Like convictions
made of vapors.

Like silver spoons
in wun orphanage.

Like wun praying mantis
witout claws.

Like dyslexia
to wun blind man.

Like light
to wun black hole.

Like concentric ripples
reversing.

Like mirrors
in wun parallel universe.

Like wun elephant’s trunk
searching through papers.

Like lots of tings 
dat keep you blinking and tinking.




Joe Balaz has created works in American English and Hawaiian Islands Pidgin (Hawai'i Creole English).

He presently lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and he is the author of Pidgin Eye.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

James Diaz Tells Of The Boy Who Threw His Words At A Train, A Negligence of Bandages, And The Warp Of Trauma


Shiver n' Shakedown

Put your ragged heart
in the red dirt

some boy threw
his words against a train
outta town
never made it

calls you sometimes
says; iowa, portland,
mexican border,
i still love you

probation officer
at the door again
late on rent again
had a using dream again
again again

torpedo heart
listen to the town go dead
at night
against the chain link fence
wrapped around
motel six

blue sky kids kicking dreams up in their veins
feel this god make or break you
down into laughter

why,
you don't ask why
anymore

you let the world have at you
take; liver, gut, limb
take what you're gonna take
and shout about all the rest

I need to sleep
dear god, I need to remember
where it is I come from
but never mind that now
I see the lights
I hear the heat
it's all over except it's not
ever
over.


I've Got You, Hold on

what it's like
and no one has stopped

My, that's quite a wound you've got
I know
I really do

to help you
all evening
it's been like this
people pretending no one is bleeding
no one human
can you lift your leg for me
does this hurt, here, try this way
lean into my hand, I've got you
fuck is wrong with these people
I'll go get bandages, hold on
I'll be back

and you tell me it's been ten years since you've been home
and what happened was...
and it still haunts you
and sometimes this feels better
out here, all alone
better that the wounds are now only accidents
and I know, I really do
what it's been like
I see you bleeding
no safe place and so completely human
you're not foreign to me -I've got you, hold on.



It
Is No Act, To Love You Here


Trauma
warp

round
the root

I
rot, you call-

I
come running

feel
the furrow

the
shakes

scan
my insides

all
rut and ribbon

say
this life

will
not escape us

will
turn into

a
porch light

in
the deep

mountains

and
when you cry

an
angel loans its wings

we
beat the earth

we
drink deeply

from
that ground

open
up- something is coming

through,

bigger
than light

higher
than dope

come
drop these chains

come
hold this wheel

steady,
scarred

and
beautiful

wishing
well

belly
whispers

break
the night

and
our hearts wide

open.

More
than

father's
return

this
time,

our
instinct for love

and
deserving-

the
retching along the highway

spilling
its own light,

and
such hands as these to catch it.


James Diaz is the author of This Someone I Call Stranger (Indolent Books, 2018) and editor (along with Elisabeth Horan & Amy Alexander) of the anthology What Keeps us Here: Songs from The Other Side of Trauma (Anti-Heroin Chic Press, 2019). In 2016 he founded the online literary arts and music journal Anti-Heroin Chic to provide a platform for often unheard voices, including those struggling with addiction, mental illness and Prison/confinement. His most recent work can be found in Moonchild Magazine, Occulum, Drunk Monkeys and Thimble Literary Magazine. He resides in upstate New York, in between balanced rocks and horse farms. He has never believed in anything as strongly as he does the power of poetry to help heal a shattered life.   

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Andrew Shields as a Human Bench, as a Witness to a Tom Waits' Homicide, and as Thunder in the Sun

Bench

Most of the time, nobody sits on me
or even notices I'm offering
everyone a chance to take a break
on their way from someplace to someplace.

I'm used to it by now. I take what comes:
two teenagers who scratch their names on my back.
An overweight old man with a tiny dog.
A Dad who sits to watch his children playing

in the cul de sac. The sunshine of
the early spring that warmed my slats last week.
And now more snow than I have ever had
weighing me down after a late-winter storm.

Like everyone else, it, too, will leave me soon.
Even that Dad has stopped coming by for a rest,
his children now older and playing other games.
Like I said, I'm used to it by now.

I Dreamed Tom Waits Killed His Brother

accompanied by
a walking bass
and a little high hat

Took him out in a canoe to the lake's center
and there under the full moon
offered him the choice of death
or murder and in the drowning
shooting knifing or strangling
one of them died and the other
the other rowed back to shore
climbed in the car but the keys
were at the bottom of the lake
he had to hotwire the car which
fortunately he knew how to do

and while he was driving home
a cop pulled him over for going
a bit too fast down the road
cop didn't like the look of this guy
noticed he didn't have any keys
took him out of the car and cuffed him
he's doing time for stealing his own car
after killing his brother

but nobody ever found out about this
until I had this dream one night
wrote it down Tom Waits
killed his brother and is doing time
for stealing his own car
stealing his own car
stealing his own car

Thunder

The thunder rolls from clouds on the horizon,
although the sky above is hazy blue.
No rain is falling, but the wind is rising;
the leaves are talking, but not to me and you.

Let's sit down and listen to the thunder.
We cannot see the lightning for the sun.
But now a flash begins to make me wonder
whether we'll be dry when this is done.

Let's leave the yard and make our way inside.
The weather's good to watch behind the glass.
The branches sure are bending in this gale!
Twigs and leaves are blowing across the grass.
Pity those without a place to hide
from the torrent and the pounding of the hail!


Andrew Shields lives in Basel, Switzerland. His collection of poems "Thomas Hardy Listens to Louis Armstrong" was published by Eyewear in 2015. His band Human Shields released the album "Somebody's Hometown" in 2015 and the EP "Défense de jouer" in 2016.

Twitter: @ShieldsAndrew
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andrewshieldspoems/

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Matt Borczon's Dropped Quarter, Heaven-Neglected Animals, and Smiles Like Spiderwebs


Hope

Hope is
a prayer
said out
loud in
an empty
house
it's the
sound of
a quarter
dropped in
a Catholic
church
It's a
dog wearing
a muzzle
and a
gun without
bullets

it is
love with
no expectations
beyond the
way it
makes you
feel

right here
right now.

Animals have no souls

Beyond
the gates
of Eden
an elephant
sits alone
in a
room
a wolf
howls in
a shopping
mall
as crows
scatter across
neon lit
cities
we are
all just
dreams
waiting to
be born
just thoughts
unexplained
then lost
in the
glow of
everything

we are
all just
animals
who are
not allowed
in heaven

destined
to obey
a master
we never
asked for.


Lover

your
kiss
is
a
wolf's
howl

an
ocean
wave


and
your
touch
is
a
spider's
web
big
enough
to
encase
me
like
a
mummy

smiling
into
the
face
of
death



Matthew Borczon is a nurse and Navy Corpsman from Erie Pa. He served in the busiest combat hospital in Afghanistan from 2010-2011; he writes about his experiences on Camp Bastion and about the difficulties he has had since coming home.