Thursday, December 29, 2016

Donal Mahoney and the Xmas Big Bang by the Picketed Planned Parenthood and Willie, Tom, and Mabel

Big Bang for Little Billy

This was the first Christmas
Billy was old enough to speak
when he saw his gifts
under the sparkling tree.
His parents were waiting
to hear what he’d say.
Billy laughed and jumped
and clapped his hands.
With a big smile, he shouted
“Santa brought me these!”
Then Daddy picked Billy up,
bounced him on his knee
and whispered softly,
“There is no Santa, son.
There was a Big Bang
while you were asleep.
And all your gifts landed
under the tree.”

Ambulance Lights

Willie McKee works
second shift
gets home at midnight
makes hot cocoa
flops in his recliner

and counts the stars
through the blinds
nods to the moon
and every week or so
sees ambulance lights
pull up at Tom’s house
blink for an hour
while the crew goes in
and restarts him.

But on Christmas Eve
the ambulance lights
pull away in minutes
and a hearse pulls up
two men go in

bring out the gurney
as old Tom's wife
stands on the porch
and smokes
and Willie McKee
tells his wife
neighbors will never
hear Mabel curse
old Tom again.

Christmastime in America

You see the oddest things
at Christmastime in America.
The bigger the city,
the stranger the sights.
I was driving downtown
to buy gifts for the family
and enjoying bouquets
of beautiful people
bundled in big coats
and colorful scarves
clustered on corners,
shopping in good cheer
amid petals of snow
dancing in the sun.

One of them, however,
a beautiful young lady,
had stopped to take issue
with an old woman in a shawl
picketing Planned Parenthood.
The old woman was riding
on a motor scooter
designed for the elderly.
She held a sign bigger
than she was and kept
motoring back and forth
as resolute as my aunt
who had been renowned
for protesting any injustice.
Saving seals in the Antarctic
had been very important to her.

On this day, however,
the beautiful young lady
who had taken issue
with the old woman
was livid and screaming.
She marched behind
the motor scooter and
yelled at the old woman
who appeared oblivious
to all the commotion.
Maybe she was deaf,
I thought, like my aunt.
That can be an advantage
at a time like this.

The letters on the sign were huge
but I couldn't read them
so I drove around the block
and found a spot at the curb.

It turned out the sign said,
"What might have happened
if Mary of Nazareth
had been pro-choice?"
Now I understood
why the young lady
was ranting and raving
and why the old woman
kept motoring to and fro.
At Christmastime in America
people get excited,
more so than usual.

When I got home
I hid my packages
and told my wife at supper
what I had seen.
I also told her that if Mary
had chosen otherwise,
I wouldn't have had
to go shopping today.
That's obvious, she said.

Donal Mahoney has had work published in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Some of his work can be found at http://eyeonlifemag.com/the-poetry-locksmith/donal-mahoney-poet.html

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Michael H. Brownstein Sighs Acid From Fingertips Knotting Chickenwire Barbs At The Foot of the Eroding Dolomite


How many lives have you touched
acid sighing from your finger tips,
or is it instead sodium hydroxide?

You with the liquid nitrogen heart,
cotton mouthed tongue,
sharpened canine teeth of an asp.

Everything about you
small enough to cuddle,
and then the redesigning begins...


Stress lines are not the stretch marks of love
the way a man is more notable on the outside
and I who have seen guns used in violence,
lift a knife, yes, to cut blood wrinkles
across outstretched hands. Geography
comes in handy sometimes, a history
of place names, semantics of color.
Chicken wire can be knotted into barbs;
barbs can be thrust into tender parts of skin,
wrapped around scrotums, around wrists,
the one point arteries open like clothing,
passion an anger we do not need to know,

a simplicity of milk, a pot boiling over.


the house facing the end of the road,
the pole dividing the path into fractions,
the thousand thousand crows clouding the sky,
the witch tree and the bewitched tree,
the time Sunday was the first day of the week,
the shadow of the suicide girl and the pickers
picking cans and other trash a week
before the first day of spring

and the line of light in the distance moved,
not the shadow,
not the twigs on the branches
perfect brown grass flaking green against the palisades,
sandy dolomite eroding in the heat of winter,
ice splinters: ice storms, a curvature of cloud,
the race against stain, thread, and conscienceless,

the way scar tissue feels against your tongue.

Michael H. Brownstein has been widely published throughout the small and literary presses. His work has appeared in The Café Review, American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, Free Lunch, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, Poetrysuperhighway.com and others. In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks including The Shooting Gallery (Samidat Press, 1987), Poems from the Body Bag (Ommation Press, 1988), A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004), What Stone Is (Fractal Edge Press, 2005), I Was a Teacher Once (Ten Page Press, 2011), Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Press, 2012), The Possibility of Sky and Hell: From My Suicide Book (White Knuckle Press, 2013) and The Katy Trail, Mid-Missouri, 100 Degrees Outside and Other Poems (Kind of Hurricane Press, 2013). He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam (2011).

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Michael Lee Johnson Shoots Tequila While Solo Boxing at the Hermitage on a Pillow of Sand Awakened by the Metropolis

Little Desert Flower

Out of this poem
grows a little desert flower.
it is blue sorrow
it waits for your return.
You escape so you must from me
refuge, folded, wrapped in cool spring rain leaves-
avoiding July, August heat.
South wind hellfire burns memories within you,
branded I tattoo you, leave my mark,
in rose barren fields fueled with burned and desert stubble.
Yet I wait here, a loyal believer throat raw in thirst.
I wrest thunder gods gathering ritual-prayer rain.
It is lonely here grit, tears rub my eyes without relief.
Yet I catch myself loafing away in the wind waiting fate
to whisper those tiny messages
writer of this storm welded wings,
I go unnoticed but the burned eyes of red-tailed hawk
pinch of hope, sheltered by the doves.
I tip a toast to quench your thirst,
one shot of Tequila my little, purple, desert flower.

Solo Boxing

Solo boxing, past midnight,
tugging emotions out of memories embedded,
tossing dice, reliving vices, revisiting affairs,
playing solitaire-marathon night,
hopscotch player, toss the rock,
shots of Bourbon.

Alberta Bound (V2)

I own a gate to this prairie
that ends facing the Rocky Mountains.
They call it Alberta
trail of endless blue sky
asylum of endless winters,
hermitage of indolent retracted sun.
Deep freeze drips haphazardly into spring.
Drumheller, dinosaur badlands, dried bones,
ancient hoodoos sculpt high, prairie toadstools.
Alberta highway 2 opens the gateway of endless miles.
Travel weary I stop by roadsides, ears open to whispering pines.
In harmony North to South
Gordon Lightfoot pitches out
a tone
"Alberta Bound."
With independence in my veins,
I am long way from my home.

Hazy Arizona Sky (V4)

Sonoran Desert,
sleep, baby talk, dust covering my eyelids.
No need for covers, blankets,
sunscreen, sand is my pillow.
morning fireball
hurls into Arizona sky,
survival shifts gears,
momentum becomes a racecar driver
baking down on cracked,
crusted earth-
makes Prickly Pear cactus
open to visitors just a mirage,
cactus naked spit and slice
rubbery skull, glut open
dreams, flood dry.
Western cowboy wishes, whistles, and movies
valley one cup of cool, clear, fool's desert gold
dust refreshing poison of the valley.
Bring desert sunflowers, sand dunes, bandanas,
leave your cell phone at home.

Lion in my Heart (V2)

There is a heart embedded inside this male lion, I swear.
I eat leaves and underbrush, foliage of the forest, I belch.
Then I fall in love with birds, strangers and wild women.
Tears fall into the lush forest green below,
like Chinese crystal glass beads, shatter.
Then I realize it’s not the jungle, but I that am alone.
In the morning when the bed squeaks, both alarm clocks erupt,
I realize I’m alone in my jungle.
I hear the calls of the wild-
the streetcars, and the metro trains,
wake me in my sleep in my jungle alone,
let me belch in my belly with my Tums,
let me dream in my aloneness I swell.
There is a heart embedded inside this male lion,
I swear jungle man, lion lover, and city dweller.

Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era. He is a Canadian and USA citizen. Today he is a poet, editor, publisher, freelance writer, amateur photographer, small business owner in Itasca, Illinois.  He has been published in more than 915 small press magazines in 27 countries, and he edits 10 poetry sites.  Author's website http://poetryman.mysite.com/.  Michael is the author of The Lost American:  From Exile to Freedom (136 page book) ISBN:  978-0-595-46091-5, several chapbooks of poetry, including From Which Place the Morning Rises and Challenge of Night and Day, and Chicago Poems.  He also has over 103 poetry videos on YouTube as of 2015:  https://www.youtube.com/user/poetrymanusa/videos  Michael Lee Johnson, Itasca, IL. nominated for 2 Pushcart Prize awards for poetry 2015 & Best of the Net 2016.  Visit his Facebook Poetry Group and join https://www.facebook.com/groups/807679459328998/  He is also the editor/publisher of anthology, Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/1530456762

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Michael Marrotti in the Paths of Identical Footsteps, the Cost-Efficiency of Poetry, Parasitic Chemicals, and the Possible Lies of Cyber Congratulations

'The Cleansing'

will pass on
like a spirit
to the

Playing with
myself to
nullify the
of touch

Using my arm
as an ashtray
wrapped up
in white sheets
that once held
your scent
now reek of
burning flesh

Playing fast
on this old
blue guitar
I'm three
songs away
from finishing
this set

Living my way
is a deserted
path of

After the
of filthy
parasitic drugs

This little
should be
easier than
a cam-girl
and clean
as a virgin

'F.D.A. Approved Poetry'

a book is
more cost
than attaining
the chemicals
needed to
conceive it

My bank account
has been rendered
insufficient by
the time it took
to publish this

I'm talking
cold sweats
in the summer
hot sweats
in the winter

An abundance
of time spent
waiting to get

A mind
on hiatus
when deprived
of the sustenance

Drugs sweat
and digital
went into
the making
of this poetry

My debut chapbook
that spanned
the time of
a life spent
for the better half
on a hedonistic journey

I was thinking
bigger than
my high
or stockpile
of orange bottles

Aiming for the sky
with the way
I was feeling
at the time
you couldn't
blame me

has been
by liking
the status
of my latest

These people
of digital entities
are always there
to hit the like button
as a courtesy
a cyber congratulations

That's great and all
but the last thing
I need is
a showmanship
of kindness
on my book entitled
F.D.A. Approved Poetry
that hasn't sold
more than five copies

'Orange Is The New White'

is the
new white
I'm much
to have
made your

I apply
like a

White residue
on my hands
the stabilization
of shaky fingers

Three strikes
down the


It says
to take one
every four
to six hours

I'm lonely as is
and terrible at
following directions

 Michael Marrotti is an author from Pittsburgh, using words instead of violence to mitigate the suffering of life in a callous world of redundancy. His primary goal is to help other people. He considers poetry to be a form of philanthropy. When he's not writing, he's volunteering at the Light Of Life homeless shelter on a weekly basis. If you appreciate the man's work, please check out his book, F.D.A. Approved Poetry, available at Amazon.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Caleb Puckett Ducks the Wide Grandpa Scythe, Taunts the Mute Idols, and Knows the Apollo Placebo

Unacknowledged Legislators

In both letter and spirit,
how close to peon poem
seems of late.

Why’s advice:
Go with peony, then.

Paeon as paean—
Apollo on all fours—
doctoring the gods,
a placebo winning the day.

Yes, but dirt stains
your fingers either way.

Broken Ballad

If stable,

speech lacks labor.

Once bonny,
I had thought on love,
become feeble in finding
the approximation of.

I understood need,
yet would not change
my fear of want,
wanting too much, dearest X.

Did believe. The steps.
Did harm. The ascension.
None turned nonetheless.
Fall deepened.

Alone, a banished man, I traveled
through the great green-wood
with brow beaten
to reclaim nature’s succor.

My causeway crumbling,
a mockery built of shining rock.

Go on to the gone side, gypsy lord,
I cried.
So courteous behind it all.
The intent crystalline in supposition.

She. Anointed.
She. In case appointed.
A baron’s day took me footman.
Pretty little brogues with money
twinkling, she danced for Johnny.

She, likewise, must go.

Testify. Her eye passes wonder
Hair feathered with ash.

The joy of counsel to part
ever again.
Averring peace
in the burning plain between.
The whole span of hope collapsed.

Strange, still
I must believe in moon talk, that love,

no matter its twisted manner, blame, pain,
comes end-wise for salve or salvation.

Beside time in the bedside kneel,
the rainfall runs to ague.
Odd flash of steel blade. Promises beyond.

A lowland day,
an empty castle
and my wanton
lady drowned at sea-strand,
tangled in broken mast.

Inquire, understand and yet—

a gold ring
sorry for its finger.

Alone at last grasp, she and I.
Laws of memory twine
Darkened, sheets seem vines, anchors.
Prayers folded, shaped for windfall,
set for no man’s landfall.

A kiss captured for a moment’s glamor.
Good for once and only.
The art of haste.
Grief’s delighted maid
trampling the heather, rutting reunion’s field.

Cloak kept, will to sustain taken in spite.
Winter’s white blast sickens.

So now I switch a sexton’s head for a doctor’s,
dearest X.


Red moon city,
rat city,
city of reproaches
whispering mad omens
from solitary corner
to choked square.

Streets eat buildings
while buildings bite at the air.
The air is an armory waiting to blow.
The wind smelled of sugar, now sulfur.
The old carapace erodes.

Mute idols
and eyeless portraits dissolve
with fevered touches
as we seek vestiges of solace.
Behind the walls, the claws
of rats carve epitaphs
among heaps of black excrement.

Matchsticks for tinder,
promises to be kept,
we pace out the night captive
to the moon’s rasp.
Wrapped in sackcloth,
we repent of our injuries,
history, presence.
Too late to change the signs,
stay the wrath.

Red moon city,
rat city,
city bereft of stability.
The whole of tradition will collapse
with a single, distant gesture.
Our gates cannot be defended
against grave stars.
Look away, stranger.
Know us only by myth.


peonies doze
offhand beyond
the nutritious grids.
Grandpa scythes wide.
The agent plays doctor,
sewing the Bard’s lips shut
as he says, “Bread’s the thing.”
Shirts on the line drip red with dusk.
Ask not what your country can/ did for art.

Caleb Puckett lives in Kansas. His books include Tales from the Hinterland, Market Street Exit and Fate Lines/ Desire Lines. Along with writing, Puckett edits the literary journal Futures Trading.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Thomas Zimmerman and Cleopatra's Dung Beetle, Fogged Bourgeois Mirrors, and a Radioactive Sexual Road-trip

Double Burn

I’ll burn the work. It’s just no good. “It creeps
me out to hear you talk like this”: your life
is drinking. I am deep in toxins. Sleep’s
a promontory gleaming, moon-steeled knife
to slice the seared but bloody muscle of
a dream. The smoke cleaves like a helmet, like
a halo. Tomb and womb. Aroma? Love
and loss, as usual. My muse won’t pysch
me out this time. The weak, the bad—I’ll cut.
And then the luck. Hemp strands of muddled lit.
I’ll braid it like a rope to hang us all.
The buzz? It’s ditch-weed bad. Time was, my gut
preached patience. Now, it screams, “What is this shit?!”
The dawn breaks chill and raw. Like spring. Or fall.

“Male secrecy and women’s need to know:
Remember Bluebeard.” So you say. I see
at least three meanings there. Who cares? Spring snow
and bitter blossoms. Burn that journal, free
the energy. Like masturbation? Worse.
In front of me, a half-full pint of stout,
and Monk is on the stereo, his curse
like mine, but darker, deeper. Primed, he’ll shout
his demons down, let Coltrane raise them up
again. Past lives come spooling out, from dung
beetle to Cleopatra. If I cup
a breast, I might remember verses sung
on burnished barges, drunk enough on life
to hail my exiled muse, make her my wife.


You rub the window clear, scratch your balls.
Coffee’s on. The sky can’t get off
the ground.

Maybe you’ve made a baby: one star swimmer
is all it takes.

Where’s the ibuprofen?
Where’s the calamine? Where’s that gal
of mine?

Asleep. Or lolling. Your bourgeois ease.
Your imported cheese.

Your newly manifested
wheeze. If you don’t try to help others, maybe
you will die.

Gauze blocks your thoughts. Painful,
all that thinking. High-school humping, that’s
the thing.
Crass new term: fuck buddy. You heard
your old friend John has one. Beautiful wife
left him. There’s another term: comfort
women. Bad history there, before your time.

You hear the water running, go back upstairs.
She’s in the shower. You grab your razor. Pause.
The mirror’s fogged.

Peach Fuzz

The harvest moon, my dear, is God’s ass when
we’re coming down from high or buzz with three-
day stubble. Call it love. Reactors’ glow:
your breasts. And I’m a toxic spill. But will
it last? You used to tell me I was closed,
my poetry was constipated: dry-
turd verse. I’ve tried so hard to loosen up,
bolts moaning, hinges whinging. Yes, it’s just
a vision that we’re whole. You’ve got a hole:
thank God for that. Let’s get back in the car
and gobble up more miles. “Play anything
but Dylan . . . . I was joking.” So you say.
We’re crossing borders that the money’s made:
past truck stops, peep shows, toll gates, cop blockades.
Our ever-reimagined love-song, “Life
Is Just a Slow Slow Death,” still radiates
above the interstate, breaks over us in waves.

Thomas Zimmerman teaches English, directs the Writing Center, and edits two literary magazines at Washtenaw Community College, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His poems have appeared recently in Dime Show Review, The Drunken Llama, and Sick Lit. Tom's website: http://thomaszimmerman.wordpress.com/