Friday, June 16, 2017

Michael Prihoda Leaves the Postcard City With the Medusa Map As the Gardens Scrawl


the munitions factory,
the postcard city.

contain regret
within definite prosperity

when compared
to grace appreciated less.

the nostalgia aware
of different dying

without even names

settled in connection.

what is necessary

these forms not become today
in age ideal. the same yesterday

corresponds to the medusa
reserved for a map. your empire

must be big, not equally real.

what is necessary is imagined.


the route wonders
in a different order.

the eye penetrates
the scrawl of gardens,

the prison, the slum.
the hypothesis

of the traveler
has nothing but doubts.

he is distinct

in existence.

Michael Prihoda is a poet, editor, and teacher, living in central Indiana with his wife and the dream of having a pet llama. He is the author of five poetry collections, the latest of which is The First Breath You Take After You Give Up (Weasel Press, 2016).

Gale Acuff Makes Kites and Chong Yen's P-38s Haunt the Hallways Like Amelia Stephens


While my dog sleeps at the foot of my bed
I tickle his ears with my toes and read
a comic book. The window fan's spinning
and tomorrow morning we'll run downstairs,
Caesar and I, to have breakfast--I'll fix
his first--then fly kites if there's wind. If not
we'll try again in the afternoon, when
the June air's warmer and makes a breeze
to raise our craft without us having
to race against the wind to create lift.
Caesar will bark as the kite rises and
I'll laugh at him for being so silly.
I'd let him hold the string but he'd drop it
and kites don't grow on trees--this one cost me
49 cents down at the Five & Dime.
(It's 1966; I'm ten years old).

Sometimes we make our own, sticks from branches,
glue I make myself, the Sunday comics
for the skin that stretches over the bones.
For a heart I give it mine. For a soul
--it picks that up from the sky, takes it in
if I can get it high enough up there
so that it dances by itself. That's what
I mean by soul. That's why Heaven's over
our heads. To bring it down again I wind
it in, hand over hand, a slow process
and contrary to Nature, I guess, but
I can't just release the line, or break it,
and watch it waft away, no matter that
I wonder where it's off to. Still, the link
has snapped on more than one occasion, but
that was the wind, not a boy and his dog,
who let it get away. When that happens,
we follow it as far as we can. And

one day, what holds me to the earth will break,
too, and I'll fall to the ground, later
be buried inside it, yet float away
and see everything my kite can see but
just as if it's all spread out before me
--much like my life is now . . . but without end.
I'll have lots to live for when I die,
but who will follow me to find out where

I've lighted? I suppose I'll find myself
--a neat trick, better than the loop the loop.


From my attic bedroom I see my school.
It's well and I'm sick--flu, or a virus,
something I caught from my classmates there. Now
it's my turn not to turn up. I feel like
heck. I can't keep anything down. Even
saltines and Coca-Cola. They come back
up. I have a fever and yet I'm freezing.
I get some sleep, in snatches, and have dreams,
nightmares by day, from which I jerk awake
to wonder where I am. Oh, yeah. My bed.
What day's today? Wednesday. Over the hump,
almost, of the school week. What time is it?
About 1:00. Time for recess soon.

I hear the students running to the playground.
Kickball. Jump-rope. Basketball. Ducks and drakes.
I wish I could be there, not that I'm good
at sports. But I like to run and play and
shout. I'm small for my age--I hardly get on base
or kick the ball out of the infield or
make a basket. But when my pals do
I cheer, and when I do they shout, Acuff,
you're oh-kay. Then we return to class and

draw. I like airplanes. I can draw them but
not exactly, not as well as Chong Yen.
He's from Taiwan. He can draw them as if
he's taking a photograph or building
a real bird, right before your eyes. I say,
Look, Chong, at what I drawed. He rolls his eyes.
Drew, he says. Look at what I drew. Then he
comes to my desk and picks up my drawing
and says, No, no, no, a P-51
doesn't look like this at all. Don't forget
the details. He returns to his desk and
I follow. He's drawn P-38s. Wow,
I say. You sure know your planes. I whistle.
He smiles--he's pleased--and looks away. He has

three brothers and two sisters. I know--I
met them at his birthday party. I don't
get invited much to birthday parties
but I did to his. I gave him a plane,
a model plane, a B-29, wrapped
up nice by my mother. Here, Chong, I said,
after we had cake and ice cream and it
was time for him to open his presents.
Chinese have birthdays, too, just like we do.
It's a small world, I guess. It's a small world
because it's so big. Anyway, he took
it--both hands. Thank you very much. I said
You're welcome, which sounded strange because I
hardly ever say that, much less Thank you.
He carefully unwrapped it and folded
the paper flat--he didn't wad it up

like I do. A B-29, he said.
I hope you like it, Chong, I said. Do you
like it? Yes, he said. I am overwhelmed
by your thoughtfulness. No one's ever said
anything like that to me before. Oh,
it's nothing, I said. I'm glad you're happy.
He didn't look at me because he was
crying, which confused me: Chong, if you don't
like it, I said, you can take it back or
I can take it back for you and get you
something else, or just the money. No, no,
he said. You don't understand. But I do.

And after drawing we have history
--Abraham Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth
and Useless Grant and all those men with beards.
Even when they're young they look like grandpas.

I fall asleep to the sounds of my friends.
I'm under the sheets and my eyes are tight
and it's like we're all here together.
I'm sweet on Amelia Stephens. Sometimes
I try to dream about her. It starts with
us in a yellow station wagon, really
more golden than yellow. I'm drawing and
she's sitting right beside me. We don't have
children because I don't know how that's done
and I guess she doesn't either, at least
in my dream. I don't know where we're going

but we're together and heading somewhere
so that's really all I know about love
but it's enough. I love her in my dream
and real life, too, but I'll never tell her
and spoil it. She wears pretty dresses and
socks that come up to just below
her knees. She's taller than I am so my
legs are about as long as her socks. Now

she's sitting beside me, saying, Poor thing,
I love you--when I'm sick my mind
plays tricks on me but it's really my heart.
Then I hear the three o'clock bell ring and
children being noisy as they get on
their buses. I walk to school--I've never
ridden a bus, not even a Greyhound.
It looks like fun, you and your friends going

home together though your homes are different.
When I'm well enough to go back to school
it will seem new again, like a friend
or an out-of-state cousin you see just
once a year, if that often. I mean that
you don't take them for granted anymore,
or at least not so much. That's what love is,

not getting so close that you ruin it all
or needing them so bad it makes you puke.

Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, Ohio Journal, Descant, Poem, Adirondack Review, Coe Review, Worcester Review, Maryland Poetry Review, Arkansas Review, Florida Review, South Carolina Review, Carolina Quarterly, South Dakota Review, Sequential Art Narrative in Education, and many other journals. Acuff has authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse Press, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse, 2006), and The Story of My Lives (BrickHouse, 2008).  Acuff has taught university English in the US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Sheldon Lee Compton At The Foot of The Hopi Language Mountain With The Bellwether Eye


Pia’isa, little ones. To learn of magnificence, the kind that comes from a long history. The turns of pure magic, through stories. How the moon and earth were once as close as leaves of a branch, how the sky tilted, a disc throwing colors of all kinds, or the dark marathon of the animal earth-diver  into the primal waters for a handful of mud here or a fingernail worth of sand there. The First People, as they’re called now, but who should be called by their own collective name for themselves - the people, or simply us. They are and were a fantastic people. If you asked them, Who is that over there, those strangers? Their answer would always translate today to the word enemy. Who are those people? Oh, they are enemy. The same goes for any other object or living being they might be asked to identify. Over there is a big mountain. What do you call that? Oh, that? We call that a big mountain. The First People names for me varied by immense and roaming tribes. To the Hopi, I was Kweo Kachina; to the Potawatomi, I was Chibiabos. The Metis called me Rou-garou, and the Shshone whispered Pia’isa to their children at night to frighten them into calming. Pia’isa is watching for your eyes to open, awâsis.    

Bellwether Eye

This boy breaks into a house and we find out it’s his grandma’s place,
that he’s stealing her pain meds. Next thing you know
the grandma’s on the floor with a busted head. Boys like that get shitkicked
by Sean Holly in lockup. Big Sean did it and didn’t care who knew it,
told the boy he wasn’t his mamaw and flattened his head against the cell wall,
jarred his eye loose so that it popped it out of his head,
left it swinging on the optic nerve. Thing is, that boy’s eye started moving
across his cheekbone, pushing itself toward the bridge of his nose
the way a snail does, using the exposed nerve like its body to inch along.
And it started growing. That’s the word Sean tried to say later. Growing.

Gig Night

Bird arrives as heroin.
Eyes lidded and soft,
steps like socked feet
on shag carpet,
he moves so lightly.
Five musicians
shadow the room
from center stage.
Buddy on drums,
but the rest are a

haze coffin out of sight.
The heroin is vein-rusted,
plants him to the stage.
It soaks through the skin
to mix with his sweat,
it screams into the sax
and blows out into the
club like shards from his reed,
a prodrug sprinkle
of notes exactly ragged.

Sheldon Lee Compton is the author of four books, most recently the novella A True Story (Shivelight Books, 2017). His fiction and poetry can be found in gobbet, Wigleaf, Live Nude Poems, Gravel, Anti-Heroin Chic, Unbroken Journal, Vending Machine Press, The Cabal, and elsewhere. He lives in Pikeville, Kentucky, with his partner, the photographer Heather McCoy.

Michael Tyrell Won't Offer The World To Eve In The Hydrangea and Mandrake

For the Descendants I Won’t Make

Sometimes during what they call Rain Stone Season
they lose me—the street green,
a kind of bread left out for weeks, not
what they’ve been taught to expect
so early in March—who knows how they know,
but when they find me, like almost all offspring,
they naturally become immediately disappointed
at the one who might make them.
How is it I’m just another of the umbrellas and phones?
Even if nobody else can hear their complaints
I shush them, in my own way, under the awning
of the bric-a-brac shop on Manhattan Avenue.
Rain Stone Season: yes. And yes, terrible, waiting
with the living and those somehow outside that category,
in raw weather, and the usual unanswerable questions
raised by children: why won’t you buy us arms?
I won’t tell them how on this side
the wars splinter into words so as to be easily conflated,
how the bric-a-brac shop isn’t a metaphor
because it’s true everything’s
for sale here. Entire snapshot families for sale,
right behind me! Under the awning, to keep
from getting soaked (soaked and then sick),
the children with unsubtle bodies,
blue before they were human, at the birth hour,
all of us. Here’s an apple I can’t share,
they won’t take, I say nothing; I can only listen.
Where we’re from they’re for stargazing.
I won’t be the devil, offering a world to Eve.
So I lose them again,
alone except for the food I hold,
faint stars on its skin forming like the sky above Mars.

Broken Record

Every day begins with this refrain:
I won’t die, I won’t die.
The sky in whatever tantrum or euphemism
seems to be singing it, and breakfast
follows, the honoring of broken shells,
eating the unborn, quaffing the milk of
another animal, its status unknown.

Every activity devised to change the subject,
or avoid it.
Photos under obits display the living only,
our slasher films elicit laughter
and culminate with the audience rising.
Secondary sources—the moon,
the brainy fronds of hydrangea,
imply that what we have is a cycle,
not a terminating line.

So the persistent hum,
the reverie that nothing will unravel.
Most comply—
they go out for the evening,
they put their hands together for the chasing of a ball,
the goring of a bull,
the handing out of an award.

Those who sit out the sing-along
are not easily accessed.
Somewhere behind shades
the color of enamel,
among concrete and institutional garden,
we might catch a note or two,
but it’s quickly dubbed over
with won’t die, won’t die.

We call out these words,
we call out whole sentences, into caves,
and the dead—the inheritors of echo,
the ones proved wrong—
mock us
by sending back
everything they’ve heard before.

Documentary for Eleanor Manzano, Who Was Mistaken for the Kidnapped Lindbergh Baby in March, 1932

It would have to be reenactment disguised as newsreel

Winthrop Park, Seventeenth Ward, Brooklyn

shot of the lawn filmed in black and white

and gunmetal benches close-up on the first cop’s

mutton-chop face after the title card fades

his cockeyed twitch that seems to say I know this scene’s absurd

a pram pulled over by the cops like some bank robber’s getaway car

and medium shot of your reenactment mother

in cloche hat and spring coat too shocked to argue  

(have they made baby walking a crime?)

conflicting accounts your mother police-

stationed for her questioning for your own good

and you given to the doctor and then they hand you back

OR it’s fast simple the second cop sees the wrong sex

under the pins of your cloth diaper

and he almost drops you handing back

That handing back—again and again,
even if you can’t possible remember,
you know they might have kept you,
filed you with the other
mistaken identities and counterfeit dollars
all the wrong wrongfully kept
as if to have an alibi 
in case the actual never materializes

It would have to include  

a montage of other baby carriages

getting pulled over all across America

Lindbergh Lindbergh  every infant in America changeling 

mandrake Lindbergh 

Interview excerpts:

I too am one of history’s deleted scenes,
but I remember it 
do you?

Sound is only recently invented and no talkie can convey the moment—not the last—
the world insisting This is Mine,  no match, but what you are will do just as well. 

silvery cousin, blind acquaintance— 
I don’t know who gets taken
and returned safe, 
why even the globe stunt flying
doesn’t shield others. 
The baby I’ve chosen
to play you in the documentary
will not stop crying, 
which by all accounts 
you did not do even then.

Michael Tyrell is the author of The Wanted (The National Poetry Review Press, 2012) and his poems have appeared in many magazines, including Agni, The Canary, Fogged Clarity, The New York Times, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, and The Yale Review. With Julia Spicher Kasdorf, he edited the anthology Broken Land: Poems of Brooklyn (NYU Press, 2007). He teaches at New York University and resides in Brooklyn, where he was born.

Owen Anderson Shipwrecked In A DMT Honeycomb Hallway Watching The Dance Of Kitsune

-Treasure Island-

In youth,
I threw a bottle to the tide,
and pretended to be
But it washed back to shore,
as if to say,
“No one even knows
you’re gone.”


Exhale the dream:
jazz beats of kaleidoscope shrapnel.
Familiar smiles framed and hung on honeycomb hallways, dripping endlessly into this black hole honey pot.
Fall into constellations.
Glow bugs powered by suns
take shape as Giant cats
knead the edges and need
melts away down stairs and slides,
Taking root in reality
There is no reality
There is no holy
Order is the blemish on chaos
Beauty is the unbridled
Fading into time
As I fade back to life.

-Golden Teacher-

This is the cocaine binge
I’ve been hunting
for so long. These are onion
petals on the island of Lotus,
where I lose my ability to speak.
Toes and star gazers
are lit by fire and my fingers
cracked like 4000 tombs built by 4000 cherubs
and their tears and ejaculate spatter the walls.
I don’t want imaginary super heroes, and tales and tails
of Kitsune dancing for the torch mob.
Going back again to stop genocide in my lap.
I don’t want to fight
but can only seem to stop
the feeling under my fingernails
long enough to exhale as I am swallowed in amber and ale.
I need to control the music that never dies.
Jet set radio never dies.
Foxy foxy foxy Japanese never dies.
Ahoy sailor!
Fuck her once over on the hill top where she dies.

Owen B. Anderson is a 29 year old traveling car salesman residing in the third notch of the Great Southern Bible Belt.  An avid psychonaut, he hopes to put to words the worlds he visits on his various vacations from reality.  

Paul Koniecki Gets His Tetanus Shot From The Devil's Sister And Navigates Orchids And Drug Cartels


the first words my first wife
ever said to me in person were
hi this is victor he is my boyfriend

slash pimp and he will be in the
adjoining room if there are any problems
she actually said boyfriend slash pimp

and i was impressed by her use of the
word adjoining and her bottom and how
the green of her eyes didn't seem to have

three years later leaning against the
bathroom sink in my apartment with a
grapefruit knife sticking out of my thigh

like an old telephone pole on a flat and
hairy stretch of road i laughed and i
sweated and i looked for some peroxide

or rubbing alcohol and i hoped i wouldn't
pass out on the way to the hospital and
that my new couch wouldn't be permanently

stained but most of all i thanked god i
had dressed to the right and that my thigh
had taken one for the team and i don't

know if it was the blood loss but i really
wondered waiting in the care-now clinic
if i would ever be able to trust again

then she walked in my nurse my angel
a vision in chapstick looking like a
girl-next-door stripper gram or the devil's

sister with a tetanus shot in one hand
and my leg in the other she possessed
the all time best sad bad broken love at

first sight i can't resist you beaten by life
but back for another round look in her eye
really ever -- the first words my second

wife (the nurse) ever said to me in person
were - wow would you look at that
and i told her my story and she told

me her's and love springs eternal in
the hearts of us still even when it
walks with a limp

Bazooka goes to the Ft Worth Botanical Gardens in the dark

My makers had
access to 3D printers,
fiberglass reinforced nylon,

munitions, instructions, and profitable conflicts. Personally
I abhor 'field of battle'

brown and the
mixing of gold
and red as it relates

to spoils of war.
When they went
out again to order

more safety deposit
box keys and crystal
chandeliers I made my escape.

Here is the poem
I wrote as I jumped
the garden fence,

the first night I fell in love.

The moon slept
In the pond
Beneath the pagoda

Russet and ochre
And manila flags
fluttered in the breeze

They seemed varying
Shades of gray
To dogs and men

I held trigger
To petal with
My new love

Bulbophyllum Nocturnum
The only orchid able
To flower before the dawn

love in a time of commerce

and the lap-dancers
call it flex messaging

that futile attempt
by men to communicate

through blue jeans
and disregard

beautiful girls wipe silver poles

with tattered bills
and tempered haunches

she chooses me and comes

so close
i cannot stand

from apex
to impost

i whisper
i am not a poet

she swears
she is from somewhere else

Connect the wild dots

-for Mark J Kilroy

Sara came from Texas.
I crossed over for Spring Break.

The circus has a juggler.
The border has a war.

The street has a taco vender
two lamp posts and a trick.

The air is hot and sweet.
Breathing is a pilgrimage.

I need a bag.
Breathing is inalienable.

I need a bag.
The hoarders have a brick.

Obliterated on cerveza fria
we cross the street to get a bag.

The sunlight slits the darkness
like a razor on the bias.

In the shadows brick stacking
hoarders pause to ask my name.

Adrenaline is a blessing.
Breathing is circus work.

Breathing is an artifice, a subterfuge,
an almost involuntary trick.

The circus has a juggler.
The boarder has a war.

El Padrino has a farm outside of town.
Matamoras has a witch.

Dirt cannot be shoveled
by the sleeping and the dead.

I need a bag. I need a bag.
I need a bag.

Sara came from Texas.
La Madrina is six foot one.

The names have not been changed
because the innocent are dead.

I looked for God twelve times.
Twelve times in a hole I looked.

I love you the perfectness of death.
Her lips are soft on soft.

Beyond torture. Beyond pain. Beyond
clean blood and the integrity of maggots.

Twelve times in a hole.
Spooning in dirt

and worms and the ends of lost
mistaken things and machetes in the neck.

Little tarot boy of Mexico City thank
you for not burying me alone.

The border's war is drugs. I need a bag
I need a bag I need a bag of air.

When Paul Koniecki isn’t shoveling peanut butter and jelly sandwiches down his throat, he hosts Pandora's Box Poetry Showcase at Deep Vellum Books in Dallas, Texas. His chapbook, Reject Convention, was published by Kleft Jaw Press. Richard Bailey's film, "One Of The Rough" contains several of Paul's poems and was shown at The Berlin Experimental Film Festival in December of 2016.  He once featured at the Fermoy International Poetry Festival in Fermoy, Ireland where he saw a real live unicorn walk into a bar. Paul’s poetry has been published in multiple online and print publications.

Darren C. Demaree Swears The Apocalypse Isn't Coming While The Evil Governor Holds Five Thousand Poems In His Small Fists


This fire sharpens box corners.  These boxes cannot be stacked without a body count.  I am still counting bodies.  It would easier if I just stopped counting, but I’m not willing to give up that oxygen for nothing.  This fire wants my oxygen.  If I thought I could slow it down I would lay my oxygen as a present and a distraction, but that would only give a small jump to this fire.  Unfettered consumption and the willingness to lie about what is consumed, that is their entire agenda.  I will not be a part of that agenda.  I’m writing down all of the names.  I’m listing everything I lose.  If we still have insurance companies when he is all done, I will present to them all five thousand of these poems.


Faint copper, still working its way through the Ohio countryside, giving a glisten to each county line, I appreciate what it is you think you’re doing, but we don’t want to be shiny right now.  That will only catch his gaze, and even though our evil governor hates this evil president he cannot stop him from trying to fit us inside his small fists. 


The apocalypse isn’t coming.  We’re going to have to deal with all of this.  An ending would be too easy.  We are owed the whole of this process.  We will have to carry him the same way we carried the rest of our original sins.  How uncomfortable he will be riding America’s back right next to the corpses of so many native, enslaved, and marginalized peoples.  Great horrorman, meet the rest of our horrors, and speak to them about the American choice.  We are lazy and evil, yet we sing almost all of the time.  We have fired so many bullets into the heart of beauty because we thought gun smoke was the same thing as an early morning fog.

Darren's poems have appeared, or are scheduled to appear in numerous magazines/journals, including the South Dakota Review, Meridian, New Letters, Diagram, and the Colorado Review.  He is the author of six poetry collections, most recently "Many Full Hands Applauding Inelegantly" (2016, 8th House Publishing). He is also the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology and Ovenbird Poetry. He is currently living and writing in Columbus, Ohio with my wife and children. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Howie Good Within The Walls Of Jesus Signals To Us To Read The Brad Pitt Cookbook

Assemblage of Damaged Goods

There was sea.
There were rocks.
I used to fish.

All there are today
are 185 empty chairs.

Have you seen Betty?
She has disappeared.
She has big boobs.
They’re beautiful shapes.

I’m so lucky
I talk a lot.

Sex is also
a great form
of exercise.

And it doesn’t
require a lot
of knowledge.

Now I’m the one
behind the window.
The walls are covered
with pictures of Jesus.
This is being offered
as evidence. This is
supposed to be proof.

God, I was stupid.
But here's what I think about it now:
the earth protects, man destroys.

When Fake News Becomes Real

It’s important to test during the day whether or not you're dreaming. You probably won't look like the real you. Chances are you will be in somewhat of a panic. Check that the doors and windows of your house are locked. Start naming the things in the room. Is there a window where a painting is supposed to be? Remind yourself that you are not going crazy. Try to notice the cold, wet sensation. If you can't after fifteen minutes, just sit or stand there. Signal to somebody to help you as best you can.

A Loss of Faith Brings Vertigo

What kind of conclusions can you draw when you’re watching the sun go down? Or you’re watching the sea or the forest? They’re certainly things that keep me up late. I want to go totally nuts, shout “Fuck yeah!” But, of course, what happens? I begin to feel dizzy. There’s now a cookbook of everything Brad Pitt has eaten in a movie. The guy who runs the souvenir shop in the basement next to the bathrooms seems unimpressed. He pictures himself lying in the shade of beautiful trees. It’s a place I’d go as well if I just knew how to get there.

Howie Good's recent books include A Ghost Sings, a Door Opens from Another New Calligraphy and Robots vs. Kung Fu from AngelHouse Press. He co-edits White Knuckle Press with Dale Wisely. 

Mike Zone With Solar Hair Ignites Shaman's Flight Singeing Cherry Blossoms In A Vodka Haze

Teenage Space Sex-Dream

The ship is alive!
we switch organs
sleek chrome vulva shape
stretching toward- the galaxy
disturbing black holes, disentangling quasars
celestial energy spiraling deep
into heavenly speared egg-shell minds- cracking
the perceptions of exploring- tongues along arched bodies
cold laughter- searing adrenaline
“they won’t make our movie
with our candy colored rooms.”
it’s the herald ordeal all over again
the letdown of a cosmic saga
solar hair ignites the bedroom
perspiration secrets the deadly milky way
stardust rain upon Kansas plains
the Sentrynauts strike!
They hide in our schools! Bag our Groceries! Wait our tables!
Jerk our sodas! Wash our cars! Nympho at the funeral parlor!
Watchers of Worlds- Explorers of Emotions
Mushroom delights- Alien orgasms
Among the trees
behind pastel colored
bug zapping subdivisions
incendiary planetary mania 


There’s a whole bunch of transmissions
from out the noise- the funk
it can’t happen here
the plot against Amerika
when the plot should be-
EXIT- the borderlands
Establish the free-zone
kiss the tips of psychic cosmo percussion tendrils
devour sunflower cacti
hooting and hollering at commerce carnage
inducted viruses
hammers are for war
hammers are for building
I’m the madman
speaking to the grass and the trees
let the others suckle
at the foundations of glass
and concrete towers
mindless definitions
some will speak to the elements inside
invoke the natural chain of being
climbing down Mount Meru
flowing down the jeweled river- Nirvana
maybe, that’s what all the suffering
is- was
chaos never flows without order
perception, just
a sliver of fractal reality
rays of sunlight
bless the skin
ignite fire of mind
souls unite
in grand evolutionary manner
in the triumph of doom laden might
shamans’ flight
a vulture overhead- inspecting
were not dead…yet

Green Tea Bedroom

Lost in the moment
 the sight of C’s saucer shaped eyes
void dark
anything but desolation
millions of galaxies
splendid illumination
entwined nudes like a cosmic serpent
staring at cherry blossoms
on a blue canvas background

Rigid Clarification

Gnarled tree
attempt to hug the Aztec sun
encased figures
glass and steel- sealed
pay no mind- sip coffee
stuck in screens- trivial talk
a sign informs me
“cascara is the fruit of the coffee cherry”
a blonde fidgets in her chair
short skirt- bare thighs
eyes wandering toward the painted sun
on this pitch black night
informs me the desire
 of that cherry pie
vodka cranberry on the side
I get up and leave

in a safe but uncomfortable haze

Mike Zone is the author of Fellow Passengers: Pubic Transit Poetry, Meditations & Musings andBetter than the Movies: 4 Screenplays. His poetry and stories have been featured in: Because Eileen, Horror Sleaze Trash, In Between Hangovers, Synchronized Chaos, Triadae Magazine and The Voices Project. He scrapes by in Grand Rapids, MI

John Dorsey Explores Ghost-Shaped Things Even Though Stars Are Not Miracles And There Are Never Enough Bricks To Pave The Way To Heaven

Missouri is a Ghost Shaped Thing

conventional wisdom says
that missouri is a ghost shaped thing

that your heart has no straight lines

that chain-smokers dot the landscape
with the blood of kings
& 9th grade charcoal barons
who collect dust in our memories

that the meek
shall inherit the earth
& sell our dreams
for their mineral rights

that stars
will fall short
of becoming miracles

it says everything
very softly.

On Eva’s Birthday
(for annie menebroker)

we drank red wine

ate flourless chocolate cake
for cardio

sunlight beamed
like a commodity

our hearts grew strong
with love.

15,000 Tulips

spring up from the earth
give song to bluebirds
& palsied spaniards
swilling mixed drinks

while 13,000 bricks
can’t even pave
a single driveway.

John Dorsey lived for many years in Toledo, Ohio. He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Teaching the Dead to Sing: The Outlaw's Prayer (Rose of Sharon Press, 2006), Sodomy is a City in New Jersey (American Mettle Books, 2010), Appalachian Frankenstein (GTK Press, 2015) and Being the Fire (Tangerine Press, 2016). He is the current Poet Laureate of Belle, MO. He may be reached at archerevans@yahoo.com.

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.