Monday, February 24, 2014

John Oughton


Audience stared into the open mouth
of the poet who stood, saying nothing.
She waited five minutes --
open-mic time, --then closed.

Someone muttered “John Cage rip-off.”
“No way” another said, “that was music,
not performance poetry.”
“What’s her message?”
“A complete waste of time.”

Babbling rose until the poet
retook the stage and said:
“The poem is whatever whipped
through your mind: What’s she doing?
When will this be done?  I want to
check my texts. Who does she think
she is? Will I ever
get laid?’

are the poem. 

All I did
was let you hear your part.”

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Paul Hoy


Today, I remembered a love poem with names of creeks
running perfectly to a river.
It is clear and cold as any and finishes with certainty.
It outlasts the pain of hope which grows inside unbearable words.
It opens and flows and holds for awhile the green tongues
of root and willow, and dead life from upstream, reliving itself.
It seems we have no trouble believing in the path it has cut.
Yet we lose faith in the shape of our metamorphosis.
We swim in the white swirls of rocks, an open flute that
echoes the artifacts of old joys, and we feel cold.
Let us instead be cold in the way that makes the sun brighter,
and in the manner you tell me, that I come to mind.
A thing gone is not always lost, and we may find it elsewhere
in order to love. We sing ruined worlds to rouse it,
or call for the stray dogs of old lives we left behind,
but we cannot.  Today has no precedent.
This morning, a ghost walked past the frozen river,
into the sun through our window, as if slipping through ice.
Winter brings them in from the cold, like mice
and other beasts and into our dreams' misty rooms.
Because we are as much ghosts to them as they are to us,
they rouse in recognition and undiminished joy above white sheets
under which our two figures make love. There is no temptation —
the river is a snake I choose. I choose the sins that take me
to love and the animal fruit of your mouth, and your tongue,
like another snake, that wrestles me down into you.
The river is glass up to my ankles and I will fight you for this,
and not let you vanish as you leave behind this fallen world we made.
A fish that springs from netted air can breathe astonishment
under the sun of that heart.

Buttercup Blues

You were warned,  weren’t you —
warning signs on the wayside
the wrong side of the tracks.
But I lack the reserve,
the shoulda oughta, the damn
you to meddle and sallie more.
So, know what, gitchygoo,
I’ll kiss you. Consider it reprimand,
My tongue, the worksong, all the
angles covered, hoop d’loop.
“Bah!,” you say. Open wide, you’ll see
and say “ah.” Nah, you heard
wrong. “Hallelujah” — ’til hooray hits
holy high water. Yes, I confess the
fuss, ballyhoo and mess but,
buttercup, I’m game if it’s play
by play, if we can huddle and
hullabaloo. Yes, I know — suddenly
I’m sentimental, a beggar buggering
it up because it’s for tongues and for
cheeks, and rigamarole, or better,
Just to butter you up.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Adam Abbas


The family went outside as it snowed softly
And the drunken father sang an ode softly

For their pet spadefoot toad who died of wanderlust
Whose gorgeous wise eyes always glowed softly

They buried its shoebox the home and the tomb
As girls and dogs atop sleds rode softly

Down rolling hills where the father once found the toad
Lying on one side by a stream that flowed softly

He had laid it in his canoe and continued his journey
Bearing the gasps for home as he rowed softly

At the right time
In front of enemies
You finally grew into your own

Time to
Bury angels
It takes little effort
They’re easily swept away with
Their wings

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Lori Gomez

I Think I Was Hatched

The first line is meant to intrigue you. 
The second line will establish the voice. 
The third line is grateful you've made it this
far, and will either be awkward and self-conscious, 
or cocky and boastful. The fourth line really doesn’t 
even acknowledge your existence, it just exists for
its own pleasure and runs on ahead. The fifth line
resents the first four, wondering why it's always
getting rooked and stuck in the middle of this.

The sixth line is the start of a new paragraph, or
maybe it's a stanza that stands alone. The seventh
line has given up on all of this, and rides the subway
home. Once home, it takes off its shoes, pops open
a bottle of something red and fortifying, then lets you
draw your own conclusions.


Under the eaves of a tall building
we pant and shudder, shaking off
pieces of sky as we dry, and the
dream fades faster. You're gone

I'm in the lobby of an office tower
I stumble into an elevator and press
the first button I can reach, there
are no numbers on them, and I know

It doesn't matter. Nothing does.
I walk out of the elevator naked
and self-conscious, the floor rolls
Itself open like a red carpet for me

A sterile grey air hits my lungs
I am now thirsty as well as naked
lost as a light beam on the surface
of the sun, I wonder where you've gone

A green silk robe appears loosely covering
me, the sash is unwrapped. In one hand are
my jewels, in the other a cellphone, I never think
of calling you. Not once. The walls become mirrors
I become another. She does a reverse Narcissus. 
A triple backflip with a twist that torques at the speed
of want and dives out of the gene pool and into a mirror

Without a splash.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Heather Rose Babcock

In Transit

 My boobs hurt.
Every time that this train stops, I want to scream.  It's 8:04 p.m.  I've been riding the subway from Kipling to Kennedy station and back again for three hours now and I still don't know where I want to go.   That doesn't really matter though; the important thing is that no one on this train has the slightest idea who I am.  To these people, I am just a copper-haired girl in an itchy, inappropriate sundress and chewed up flip-flops.  With the notable exception of the hawk-nosed old man in the seat across from me, who is staring at my bare knees with a frightening intensity, no one here takes any special notice of me. Anonymity is nice when it's expected.
I swing my legs over the empty seat beside me and begin to pick at the newly formed scab on my right knee.
My parents and I hadn't heard from Derek in over a week.  His cell was turned off.  He wasn't answering our e-mails.  None of this was out of the ordinary.  I went on Facebook and all his friends had changed their profile pictures to photos of him.  I thought that maybe he had an accident skiing or something.  It was August.  I don't know why I thought that.  The phone rang and I didn't answer it.
This afternoon I went to the movies - a prequel to Planet of the Apes.  I laughed out loud when the apes, all pumped up on the viral drug ALZ-113, released the chimpanzees at the San Francisco zoo.  I don't know why I thought that was funny.  The lady sitting in front of me turned around and gave me a dirty look.  I wonder what she would have thought of me if she had known that I had just come from my brother's funeral. 
Kipling station again.  I've been digging at my scab and now it is bleeding.  With my finger, I begin to smear a thick brown-red line over my knee and up toward my thigh.  I look up at the old man to see if he is grossed out by what I am doing, but he is now looking at my face and smiling, one eyebrow cocked like we are sharing some sort of joke. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Merle Nudelman

Trucking at the Scottsdale Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction                    

Even in tinted glasses you squint.
Desert light shimmers the beckoning
saguaro arms, clusters of palo verde trees
beside the long, white tents, barrel-chested

exhibition hall boasting Barrett-Jackson signs.
Inside, heaven on wheels with chrome.
Rows of glossy, muscled machines stand
rare and proud as kings –

            Jaguar, Mustang, Thunderbird,
            Karmann Ghia,
            Austin-Healey Sprite.
            Corvette legions.

Hefty trucks shoulder into the pack –
            Ford Ranchero, Bronco,
            custom models too.
            A bevy of Chevies, Dodges. 
            And there, in pinup lipstick-red,
            a glossy '46 Studebaker pickup:
            snout like a perky beagle,
            big-eyed headlights.

            Curved as autumn apples
            around the sturdy wheels,
            she's a calendar princess
            road-perfect for her auction prince.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sonia di Placido

American Cliché

 And taking the road, yonder—
without the tears of Hollywood
or 1985, Thelma & Louise snuffed out
Innana and sister dancing at the cliff, but

there aren’t any edges here, just dry
dust and my underworld of underwear
the car’s oil spilled, walking into
the Nevada brown, no, red not brown

earth, one jug left bearing the grace of
without water            When’s it gonna rain?
No one does anything together here for
better or worse–

just all dis-jointed/discombobulate/
disembodied parts just like my wheels
Stationed-in-the-hot-horizon–just parts:
mufflers, metal strings, exhaust again

Olson’s “America is just a complex of occasions”
Hitch               ride                 stop
at the nearest Texaco [Gas] station.


it is      the work         of progress
(em)braced  teeth
American dream-gloated
a whored  inter-national Atlantic
combination  skins
forgotten  olive  tongue
tenderized moose and duck–squacking:  
verbose          loon(ied) identity      lost
cult culture depraved to seven days
in a psychiatric hospital—missing pieces,
places, un homed.

Fatherland, I am native wine.
the soil here bears no salt, alpine glow,
only mushroom grows, ever popular
you now, a poplar great-laked tree.
Remember us with Plastic pins, poppies.
We say whom? What is this?  
New World.

A mob of finger licking concrete
brick beaten jovial constructions
steeled fences, forty years rusteen
aligned to nineteen seventy one,
Homeland security found in farmed divisions
A tower above treatise, a dome without roof.

Matri                     Patri
This is hard work Man-Bitch
Father Forensic, driven to Thunder Bay
vibrating over oboe rubber rings,
no tar highways in 1980 Chevy Oldsmobile
fermenting in to Wino bubbled trunks,

Damn the Father forest hunt
adjacent to wine sweat
Strega [Witch] had claimed me
from the eighteenth year
of levis jeans, baby denim wash,
corrupt slave cotton. 

I am (not wanted) sweet potato placenta
Phoenician princess coagulating
A panini and a cooked ham—Prosciutto
with late night Chamomile tea.

At airports collecting loads of luggage,
Customs lamented be fore 9/11
wandering in and out of visitations to
Water falls:
Americas Fatherland.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Clara Blackwood

Psychic Surgeon

He cures by spiritual means –
channels instructions from
a team of deceased doctors
in the astral.

Begins the incision,
presses flesh and
passes fluid fingers
through tissues, organs, glands.

A red substance oozes from his palms.
He holds up
the culprit – a growth resembling
chicken liver – in
his jellyfish hands.

Waving a towel in the air
like a kerchief,
he seals the patient’s stomach.

Amazing – no stitches!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Elana Wolff!

The Man With the Perfumed Moustache

You wouldn’t know the moustache was perfumed—
if not for the up-stretched neck of the woman,

sniffing it, smiling like briar rose. Nothing of the
unusual happens. But the man has held across his chest

a vintage ukulele. So you assume he plays the good
old tunes: I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,

Camptown Races, Buffalo Gals Won’t You
Come Out Tonight, Amazing Grace,

America > which is the same as God Save the Queen
with different words. This alignment,

together with the veracious way the woman
conveys the rose scent of that moustache, strikes me

as expertly metrical. It is a copacetic moment. I’m happy,

surprised I’m not happier...

When You’re Done Touch the Screen (Like a Seer)

The image shows externals only—
                                                onto rather than into.

Form assuming shape according to that which is growing in soul.

The tone invoked before the screaming starts.

Mauve because of dark/light mix and superimposition >

                                                                        What the truck!

I’ll kill myself and make it look like you did, says the text.

In other words, I hate my psyche more than I love the kids.

The image shows a face with chalked-out eyes and slivered lips.

            What the poem is lacking is the back:

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Yaqoob Ghaznavi!

Dragon Feast

in front
of the balcony
on opaque air
above the clothesline
a snake charmer
is dancing
to the heartbeat
of his cobra

his jealous wife
is not pleased
starts a big fire
flames destroy
the illusion
of a dance floor

oncoming traffic
splashing into the smoke
comes to a sudden halt

the snake charmer
into oleander bushes
barely avoids heart failure

witches of the north
cobra’s distant cousins
hold counsel
debate lawsuit

before consensus is reached

the night-well dries up