Thursday, July 31, 2014

Friday, July 25, 2014

Jena Strong: Gestation


On my mind.
Name changes.
Circuitous history.
The weight of gold.
Single hawk soaring.
Road trip honeymoon.
Sweet-smelling babies.
Early morning bloodwork.
Mystery of the next moment.
Fragility and strength as one.
Euphoria induced by caffeine.
Gratitude for sleep embrace.
Not waiting for another day.
Saying hello to old friends.
Gestures of commitment.
Erring on the side of yes.
Embodied and ethereal.
Symbolic and physical.
Not turning my cheek.
Not wasting my time.
All the way here.
As it happens.
Loving life.

Jena Strong is the author of two collections of poetry and prose, Don’t Miss This and The Inside of Out. A 2013 Goodreads Newsletter contest winner and long-time blogger, her work has appeared widely both online and in print. She works as a career counselor and creativity consultant in Amherst, MA, where she lives with her fiancée and two daughters.

Tony Brown: Exam Questions For The Next World

Exam Questions For The Next World

Section One:

Explain intersectionality
as it relates to
systemic oppression.
Include in your essay
the following terms:

blood dugout.
pitted bone.
rape shop.
sharpened stone.

Section Two:

If you are assigned
the role scapegoat,
how will you survive
your turn in the wilderness?

Show your work.

Section Three:

What five words
ought to be erased or respelled
in order to lift their magic?
Defend your choices

without attacking others.

Section Four:

Define a process
for removing
the history
in your own eye.

Secton Five:

Will there be any room for any mercy
in the next world
that has not already been shown
in the present one?


Tony Brown is from Worcester MA. A four-time Pushcart Prize nominee. He front the poetry and music group Duende Project; a chapbook "The Embers" will be published by Tired Hearts Press in the fall.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Linda Saccoccio: Grit and Love

Grit and Love

Your black curly hair
was too dark
Your curls defiant
wiry springs that
recoiled in the fog
full, standing taller
than your confidence
small face
eyes like focused arrows
shaded under spirited locks
It was enough trouble
this shrub-like ebony halo
Not light, not straight
not preferred
Then year by year
white lines appeared
turning this crown silver
In the mirror
In photos blanched in sunglow
curls obscured
unstoppable loss of blackness
Is it okay for a woman
to sport a silver cloud?
Are you fading into oblivion?
Where is the comfort in being alive?
Can you be saved by pigments?
Do you join the club?
Bond with women who color?
Will it improve?
Will it heighten the quality?
Are you serious?
Do they think so?
This new color in your hair?
This flattening of curls
This culture delivers
whatever you want
In a salon named Harlot
in Venice Beach
You name it
Sure you’re at their mercy
Sure you haven’t a clue
What do you want?
You pay with time
You pay with surrender
You pay big bucks
For needle straight hair
Glowing red brown
A sister of Raggedy Ann
Yet you are no doll
Your hair grows
determined as bamboo
Defying the promises of restored youth
truly an uphill climb
When once the black reigned sovereign
Now the glistening silver obstinate
as any weed
Reminds you life is maintenance
Beauty is a burden
And women whose roots don’t show
are either more fortunate than you
Or they bow to a
different goddess

Linda Saccoccio is a visual artist and writer with a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA from the School of Visual Arts in NYC. She lives and works in CA, exhibiting painting in art fairs. Her inaugural book of paintings and poems is "Transitions and Translations", it is available at:

Monday, July 21, 2014

Alysse Kathleen McCanna: Chicago


He took a vow of
silence, chastity;
then the fall of man
to ecstasy: wine.

My father, the atheist,
likes a good scotch
after work, and steak
medium-rare, and eggs

Too much theology
can drive a man from God,
from brothers, to the ends
of the earth. Or at least
to Chicago.

I was brought up to trust
my heart and not a book;
my gut and not a preacher;
my strength and luck and
not someone’s benediction;

but on Thanksgiving
and Christmas
my father, the atheist,
still blesses the wine.

Alysse Kathleen McCanna was born and raised in the Midwest. She graduated from Smith College in 2007 and now lives between the mountains and the plains in sunny Colorada

Two Poems by Jose Padua


I am a passenger on a train called Gravity,
my feet are plunging toward the Earth,
my moustache is losing its hairs as I fall,
my nose feels like it’s being inflated.
No wait, I am the pilot of a ship called
What the Fuck, and I don’t know how
to steer and I don’t know where I am
going. Or I am an infection on the ass
of that percentage of America’s youths
who are clueless. I don’t kill them
but I make them do dumb things to
relieve the annoying pain, like listen
only to music that has a certain number
of beats per minute, or sniff bath salts
to get high, or stay awake all night being
revolting with thinking about revolt.
Sometimes I am a sponge, soaking up
the lotion, the spilled nail polish, the
sickly sweet soft drinks, the bodily
fluids that somehow escape the hold
of industrial strength adult diapers.
Man, that’s gross, and I’m gross, too.
But I’ve been a puppet, a pauper,
a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king,
which means I was once Frank Sinatra,
telling you to get out of my face, Jack,
after a show, and while you’re up get me
a martini, and I was also a woman in Vegas
dressed in nothing but silver dollars
and a smug, almost witless grin. And
I was Mothra, Godzilla, the Hideous
Sun Demon, a killer shrew from
the island of The Killer Shrews,
but best of all I was King Kong.
Ah, Kong, he was huge, he was scary,
he was a monster. I was huge, I was
scary, I was a monster. But above all
I was a love story, the only kind of
love story you’re going to get nowadays,
the only love story you can afford,
so close your eyes, rest your hands
in your laps, my friends. Yes, listen
closely to these words, because I am
your friend, and I am sitting next to you
here on this train.

Ride a White Swan

It’s 1968 and I’m high on something
someone said today in class about
dinosaurs, how Tyrannosaurus Rex
was the king of them, how he seemed
to soar into almost space with his head
full of teeth and hunger. These words
make me feel like the end of a long
equation that used to confuse me,
the response to the question to which
I could never listen because I was
busy thinking about the distance
between me and the door. And
the person speaking was me,
at about the age of eleven when
for some reason, maybe it was eating
more mangoes and less cheese,
I stopped staring out the window
and looked at my teacher because
I didn’t have to hide and because
I knew what the answer was all
along. If this were today, before
I’d achieved the clarity of mangoes,
the doctor might have recommended
that my parents pump me up with pills
to make me focus, to make me take part
in the society of youths who pay proper
attention to the more boring parts
of their childhood. But in 1968 the air
is becoming breathable again, and my love
for the world that surrounds me
is becoming a car, driving away
from all the other children, leaving them
behind like the dust the people who used
to live in the house I lived in then
left behind when they left and
we moved in.

Jose Padua's poetry, fiction, and non-fiction have appeared in many journals, newspapers, and anthologies. After living in big cities like Washington and New York all his life, he now lives the small town of Front Royal, Virginia where he and his wife, the poet Heather Davis, write the blog Shanondoah Breakdown

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Paul Tristram: Glue-Sniffing in Neath Castle Gatehouse

Glue-Sniffing in Neath Castle Gatehouse
It was the late afternoon of a school night
at 26 Pendrill Street, The Melyn, Neath.
The house was packed full as usual,
my Nana was sat in the living room
reading The South Wales Evening Post
and shouting bits of interest into the kitchen
where my Mother was, over the sound
of the TV blasting out the new kids show
‘Thomas The Tank Engine & Friends’
whilst at the exact same time upstairs
could be heard the ‘Our House’ 7” single
by Madness blaring loudly again and again.
“Listen now love, have you heard this?”
my Nana shouted over to the greasy kitchen.
“They’re complaining about glue-sniffers,
messing up the Neath Castle remains
with their glue-bags and cider flagons.
It’s bloody disgusting, don’t you think?
they should be whipped the bloody lot of ‘em!”
My Mother strides into the room all neurotic
and waves a dripping saucepan around
the room at me and my brother and yells
“I bet you two pair of Bastards are involved
in this bloody palaver, you and those stinking
yobo’s you’re always hanging about with!”
“Leave it out Mam, for Fuck Sake!” I yawn.
My Nana jumps up out of her seat and yells
“Don’t you fucking swear at your Mam,
like that then now mun, you little swine!”
My Mother comes rushing back livid
into the room with a different saucepan
dripping 5 pence beans juice everywhere.
“Mind you now boyo, I’d give you what for
if the last time I hadn’t have broke my
big toe kicking your brother and my thumb
punching you in that fucking head of yours!”

Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories, sketches and photography
published in many publications around the world, he yearns to tattoo porcelain bridesmaids
instead of digging empty graves for innocence at midnight, this too may pass, yet.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Three Poems by Rose Solari

Another Shore

It is essential to imagine
one thing as another — as when
the small hard winter apple becomes
a globe for the dollhouse schoolroom

where the rubber children learn
their geography; as when a pan of mud
is really quicksand, and in it G.I. Joe
is sinking, sinking, until a buddy

pulls him out in time; as when the old
round wooden drying rack, with all
its bare arms up, is your helicopter,
rising over the shores of Okinawa,

where you will find your brother,
not yet broken, and carry him home.

After All

So it’s just you and me, sad ghost
dissolving so quick by my side.
And we’re all down to senses – beer snap,
smoke taste – and the handful of photos

boxed on a high shelf that I’ll never climb.
Farewell, then, to the love and the hate
of it, to the shattered vase and the purple,
predictable vine. Now the stories you could

not tell will never be spoken, the demons
you never named all blanks on the line.
Brother, it took me twenty-three months
and four countries just to be here –

where I stand, with one foot by
your grave, and one in the clear.

Spell for Vanishing

That clatter of plates is her
warming up to the old story. The house
in Hawaii that wasn’t. Pineapples
growing on cartoon trees she’ll never
see. Brad is the name of the ghost,
and you already know his sea-color eyes,
the size of the ring, but still
you keep listening, wiping the same pot
over and over.
Then, just like that,
she’s wished you all away — four kids
not born, your father dispensing
the sacraments  in a parish by the bay.
You’re his, not hers, you’ve always
known it. Which means,
right now you don’t exist.

Rose Solari is the author of three full-length collections of poetry, The Last Girl, Orpheus in the Park, and Difficult Weather, the one-act play, Looking for Guenevere, and the novel, A Secret Woman. She has lectured and taught writing workshops at many institutions, including the University of Oxford's Centre for Creative Writing at Kellogg College.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Karren LaLonde Alenier: Refuge


On the porch of this house a nest
Grows not fabricated by bird
Like the painted bunting houseguest
To Carolina banks sheltered
By low lying shrubs pines anchored
Less by roots more by seaward dunes
No this flat little disk cankered
Into the wood this day in June
Belongs to a wasp jejune
Pest of the insect world vying
To control working to impugn
The peace we rented here flying
About this space we want to claim
My love man of calm spoils reclaims

Karren LaLonde Alenier is the author of six collections of poetry, including Looking for Divine Transportation, winner of the 2002 Towson University Prize for Literature. Forthcoming in late 2015 from MadHat Press is a seventh collection of poetry, The Anima of Paul Bowles.

Three Poems by Dwayne Martine

Red Rock Meditation  

I collect shadows
   as I walk
into the twilight
   ridden piñon,

lulled into the sky,
hushed by work strangers
   each of us

hauling armfuls of
   the quiet
like gathered cedar

We climb towering
red sandstone cliffs near
   my birthplace,

along a razor
   wire fence,
carting a backpack
   of sixers

and a liter of
up a trail not

for uninducted
ascending until
   only gas

refinery lights,
   the risen
moon and our closing

compel us forward.
   We do not
look down because there
   is nothing

else, gathered around
   the fire
with each other, but
   this first drink,

this last imbibed dark
to lives lived edge close,
   burden free,

balanced between work
   and future,
memory and night,
   not yet reeled

into tragedy’s
device. We drink and
   laugh as each

devastation of
   a failed
transmission or a

four-hundred year old
   hurt melts and
is forgotten in
   the liquid

warmth of precipice’s
   darkened clutch.
In a still moment,
   as the wind

shifts and the laughter
   stops, I pray
this night to never
   end, I pray

to halt our peace-flight
   march to the
   red stone brink.

Imperial Nostalgias
a Navajo Film

Looking into the mirror, I could
be anyone:  an Italian, Latin,
dirty Burt Reynolds in another
feather. I’m sweating under

these thousand stage lights, my
skin burning and dripping like
wax, yet still I return for revenge,
for a white man’s love, for

easy justice, for a place where
civilization’s word does not
apply but my anger does. Just
because there are no real

redskins here doesn’t mean it
shouldn’t be about a semblance
of us. Just because I’m not real
doesn’t mean the hot, mineral

redness I’m painted with comes
off easily or that revenge isn’t
the reality. They want to shoot
my eyes out so I do not rise

from the dead, hungry for more
revenge. They want to bound
my hands so I do not strike them
down hapkido style. They want

my broken English to mean I am
real, that I am not immediate to
the nightmare hiding under my
beaded headband and black hat.

They want my studio silence so
these screams will seem rehearsed.
They want movie justice so this
burning reality is the real illusion.

Autochthonous Tercets

I take the material of this tired, burdened life
and fret it with my thumb until the edges fray
and the weave tears into stops and longs strips

of midnight. These long unraveled segments
have just enough strength left to strangle
my enemies, tie and burden my family, hang

me from something tall. Shimásani, my
Grandmother was a sheepherder, a divorcée,
a Harvey Hotel waitress and a weaver.

She lived through Riverside Boarding School,
her first husband, broken stories and the loss
of a child. She wove and wove:  the language

of her birth, the rudeness of the bilágaana,
the places of her life and the private spaces
in her mind. I weave the language of my

alienation, the rudeness of white people,
the places of my life and the private spaces
in my mind. She wove the loss of another

child, a husband, knowing the world. She wove
her grandson’s face. She kept the hundred
by hundred foot rug of her life by her side,

leaving one imperfection in the august weft
to be teased out and questioned. I weave anew
into this newly unwoven life the carded dawn

of her memory, the few threads, patchworks,
imperfections of a woman whose life is to be
remembered obliquely, without her name spoken.

Dwayne Martine is a Jicarilla Apache/Navajo poet living in Tucson, AZ. He has been published online and in print. He works as a professional writer and editor.