Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tendai Mwanaka- Three Poems

rumour written on the wind

wet with dust
the wind is unleashing
wind-racking passions
unraveling spools of wire-flung
into the sky, shivering on top of
an open sky
into the space
opaque merry-go rounds
the tree’s branches are
stripped naked
by the dismal demented
Augusts’ winds
And in the pools of dust
the windows are wrapped
In wind’s dust
As we spent hours
in Augusts’ windy afternoon
walking on top of
yellow leaves,
 The wind
fiercely, the burn of
the wind on our eyes,
almost protecting us
like our next of kin.
Rumour written on
the wind
whispering of
no wind-holes offered
of ante bellum gentry
gone to the south
In the hazards of
the wind’s swishes.

love on this page

love, a hug
a thumping voice in my heart
exclaiming slowly
exclamation marks
in lighting the first star
are not punctual
punctuation marks
do not answer
question marks
of her untwisting heart
i am her footnote
when did I become this?
but she is still the text
a shredded cloud
re-gilding my heart
in my mind, of
all things necessary
i am a new text with strange
odd signposts;
i twirl in rapids.


Desire names this place
possessive about panic
like a shadow of time.
Prone to heart’s murmurs
shift shapes of desires
wagging through this time.
Storing this time like
into our own skins.
Our eyes pressed
to the keyholes
of our lives.
Time runs down
our spines
like a shiver.
As we rub seconds,
minutes, and hours
One against the other.
The friction
propelling us
Time falls apart
and breaks
into a puzzle.
Measuring this time.
by the mix of
these elements
Is that a poor
attempt at

Voices from exile, a collection of poetry on Zimbabwe’s political situation and exile in South Africa was published by Lapwing publications, Northern Ireland in 2010. KEYS IN THE RIVER: Notes from a Modern Chimurenga, a novel of interlinked stories that deals with life in modern Zimbabwe was published by Savant books and publications, USA in 2012. Revolution, Logbook written by a drifter, and Voices from exile were both short listed by the Erbecce press poetry prize in 2012, 2011, and 2009 respectively, nominated for the Pushcart twice, 2008, 2010, commended for the Dalro prize 2008, nominated and attended Caine African writing workshop 2012. Published over 200 pieces of short stories, essays, memoirs, poems and visual art in over 100 magazines, journals, and anthologies in the following countries,  the USA, UK, Canada, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, India, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Romania, Mexico, Cameroon, Italy, France, Spain, Cyprus, Australia and New Zealand.

Donal Mahoney- A Poem

Paradise Found

You have a choice, Abner.
You can drop your anchor 
in the foaming sea
and stand on deck

until you die 
and then fall overboard 
for eternity. 
But that's not me. 

I'll swing my anchor
above my head
like a madman's lariat
and let it fly 

above the clouds 
and beyond the sun. 
It will land, I swear,
in paradise

and take me with it. 
Paradise is the only place 
for curs like you and me. 
So pull your anchor up

and swing it round
and let it go.
If you believe, you'll soar 
along with me.

Robert Demaree- Poetry


1. Hoop Dreams

Come on, Granddaddy, he calls, age seven,
Dribbling the ball on the deck,
Play some D.
Shoulders that have seen better days
Struggle to get hands up on defense.
I no longer conspire to let him win.
He breezes by for a lay-up,
A moment I want to think
He will recall when his sons and grandsons,
Also North Carolina boys,
Begin to bounce a ball.

2. Playoff Game

Philip plays in the late game tonight.
We climb the stairs to the gym
Against the flow of those leaving,
Parents who had cheered earnestly
Or graded papers,
Half of them happy, half not,
An index, an approval rating
Of life at a given moment
Higher than some, I guess.
An hour later we emerge
Wearing our gladness,
A day to be seized,
Friday they play against a higher seed.

3. Hoops Haiku

Waiting for the game:
College kids with new cell ’phones:
Lanterns in the dusk.

“Hoop Dreams” appeared as part of “November Songs” in  Homestead Review, Spring-Summer 2008; “Hoops Haiku” appeared in Aethlon, Spring 2007.

Paul Tristram- A Poem


It’s a quarter past midnight
I’m hungry, off to the kitchen.
Two slices of extra thick Hovis bread,
four slices of chicken breast,
eight slices of cucumber,
two leaves of lettuce
some mayonnaise
and the eighth can of lager.
If that ain’t art
then you ain’t tasted art!

Published in Poetry Cornwall, Number Twelve, July 2005

Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories and sketches 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.

Christopher Oie Keller- A Poem


You reveal a will
in trickles of rain
on a car windshield.

You orchestrate events
into a masterful opus.

You roll your own dice,
weighted with justice,
across compassionate felt.

You topple idol after idol
behind their music
and in front of cameras.

You speak through booming voices
otherwise quiet and inconsequential.

BIO: “So You Think You Can Dance” reject Christopher Oie Keller earned his MAT from Western Oregon University. A former Victoria’s Secret supervisor, he now substitute teaches in Portland. In his "spare time," he directs student plays and performs in community theatre. His work has appeared in publications such as The Delinquent, TrainWrite, and Right Hand Pointing and will be appearing in The James Dickey Review and The African American Review. He managed to get married late last year to someone who understands the writing process.

Gene McCormick- A Poem

Arm Wrestling Championship
Of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Two beefy guys holding hands,
grunting, grimacing,
sit facing one another
on the VFW center stage,
contesting the Pipefitters Local Union 344
arm wrestling championship.

Evenly matched, locked in combat,
neither man can pin the other’s arm
to the table, nobody has an advantage
until a bone snaps.

Force, not will, has been compromised
as the defeated slumps from the stage
holding a forearm while the victor’s
hammy arms hoist his trophy,
a case of Miller Genuine Draft,
to the plaudits of a sparse crowd.
I wanna donate this to the family
of my opponent, says Big Ed.

Brief bio: Gene McCormick is a former world welterweight boxing champion, fighting under the name Mickey Cormicky, maybe. He lives in a converted in-ground swimming pool in Wayne, Illinois, where he teaches boxing to the blind ("First, you chain them together at the waist..."), maybe.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Tendai Mwanaka- Two Poems

When we were little, stars
The sun, the moon and darkness
Stayed longer as they
Cradled us, as we played
As we grew older
The sun became hotter
Hot we were, in failure
Anxieties and disappointments
And the moon, frail
Faint, it was a grown up
Hiding in the dark skies
Inside houses that were our jails
Now, as we lie isolated
In darkness, immeasurable
Its soft tide pulling us in
We wait and linger, a little
for Edie… I know how you feel
I am not going to give it up
Not for anything
Not anything worthwhile
I have come a long way
Some say, half the way
Half the way to sad manhood
For the first twenty years
I was a seed in the soil
Waiting for the rains to spring up
From twenty onwards
I was a sapling stem
Feeding, glowing in greens
Now forty, onwards
I will learn from lives,
Loves I have crashed
To reach here, where
I am just coming to
Half the way to sad manhood.
Voices from exile, a collection of poetry on Zimbabwe’s political situation and exile in South Africa was published by Lapwing publications, Northern Ireland in 2010. KEYS IN THE RIVER: Notes from a Modern Chimurenga, a novel of interlinked stories that deals with life in modern Zimbabwe was published by Savant books and publications, USA in 2012. Revolution, Logbook written by a drifter, and Voices from exile were both short listed by the Erbecce press poetry prize in 2012, 2011, and 2009 respectively, nominated for the Pushcart twice, 2008, 2010, commended for the Dalro prize 2008, nominated and attended Caine African writing workshop 2012. Published over 200 pieces of short stories, essays, memoirs, poems and visual art in over 100 magazines, journals, and anthologies in the following countries,  the USA, UK, Canada, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, India, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Romania, Mexico, Cameroon, Italy, France, Spain, Cyprus, Australia and New Zealand.

Friday, February 22, 2013

B.Z. Niditch- Three Poems


The gardener
in kid gloves
between two twin
Japanese maples
asks to play
with an easy
phlegmatic indifference
of nonchalance
shadows me
on the tarmac
and knocks me out
on the first round
blinded by quickness
and sleight of hand
we laugh over a beer
feeling a year younger
while dozing
under the sun.


In my absence,
remember the wind
flakes and first frost
on a red scarf,
the neon butterfly
along the bike path
on your left shoulder
rising on the curtain
of aspens
and revived
in a picture I still have,
the apricot muffins
you made for me
in cooking class
I murdered
in two minutes
at the gym
eating on the ropes
and sent up
to the principal's office
for another reprimand
and the trout caught
in the wilderness pond
and eaten by the fort
of native Americans
at the outside fire,
and sharing Casablanca
and the Treasure
of the Sierra Madre
without the locals
spying on us,
yes, in my absence,
recall the blizzard
of '78,
the long lists
and resolutions
for goofy vacations,
all the random
sounding echoes
of my alto sax
by the nearby pond
by Reggie, the rabbit
you kept alive.


When another day
will decide the matter
and harmony
will hit you
in your sun burn
go back to sea shore
by the dead waters
of your childhood
where salmon
once lived
and breathed
like these words
along the home harbor
by the granite
hot seat of stone
by picnic tables
of freshly baked
Italian bread
and salad
where you acted out
Marilyn imitations
trying  to be good
for yourself.

Alan Catlin- Two Poems

The Hard Life

began for him long before
birth: his insides mutated,
all those genes his mother
used as a kind of
perverse free-form
genetics experiment,
that began in the tail end
of the 60's and hasn't ended yet.  
You could sense his conception
as a riot of bad unprotected sex,
cheap booze, and more
pharmaceuticals than a well-
stocked, on-campus infirmary.
Nothing he ever did or said
made sense, nor had he never
achieved anything like focus or
anything like a interpersonal
relationship, most ending
before they began. 
His mother claimed he hardly
ever cried as a baby once she
started him on Similac and
homemade acid.
She could tell he was grooving
on the stars, the way his eyes rolled
behind the lids and his extremities
twitched just like he was dancing.

A Scanner Darkly

There wasn't a fire,
crime in progress,
drug bust, sexual
assault, homicide or
911 call he hadn't
heard about on his
all frequencies scanner,
and the next morning
he'd be at the bar,
with the sweeper,
for a cold pop to tell
the whole world all
about how your neighbor-
hoods were all going
to hell in a hand basket
and how your friends,
relatives, and casual
acquaintances were all
warm sacks of shit,
not worth the efforts
expended to keep them
alive and that, hell,
when he was growing up,
Albany wasn't a bad place
for a man to have a
family and for a kid
the way he did, playing ball
and chasing tail like any
other good old american
boy, until that 911 call
he heard, about a man down
in action, a drug bust
gone bad, and the kid
they were arresting,
was his own.

Alan Catlin was a barman for thirty-four endless years, a fact he draws upon in his written work.  Revenge is sweet, the truth harsh, so it goes.

Ali Znaidi- Two Poems

after Katie Acheson
He appeared very pale like a lemon,
when he told me let’s dance together.
I gave him a pair of woolen socks;
told him he couldn’t dance
with bare feet, but he insisted on
dancing together just for some minutes.
So I took the pair of socks back
and we made a bitter lemonade.
Cleo & Petra
Two beetles poised on the wall
beetling from one corner to another.
Of the order Coleoptera, they were
biting the wall’s flesh, searching
for that aesthetic appeal of Cleopatra—
a parody of beauty on the wall.
Cleo & Petra were standing for hours
waiting for beauty to gush from
the mural.
Contributor’s Bio:
Ali Znaidi (b.1977) lives in Redeyef, Tunisia where he teaches English at Tunisian public secondary schools.  He writes poetry and has an interest in literature, languages, and literary translations. His work has appeared in The Camel Saloon, Otoliths, The Tower Journal, streetcake, The Rusty Nail, Yes,Poetry, Shot Glass Journal, Ink Sweat and Tears, Mad Swirl, Unlikely Stories: Episode IV, Red Fez, Carcinogenic Poetry, Stride Magazine, and other ezines. His debut poetry chapbook Experimental Ruminations was published in September 2012 by Fowlpox Press (Canada). He also writes flash fiction for the Six Sentence Social Network—http://sixsentences.ning.com/profile/AliZnaidi.

J.J. Campbell- Two Poems

temptation slowly taking the stage

desire drips
off her lips
like honey

slowly taking
the stage

all the curves
in all the right

she must be
new at this

not a cynical
scar anywhere
on her

you tuck in 
a few dollars
knowing that
given some

she'll be beaten
like the rest of

broken down to
the point where

you think you
may just have
a chance

pure evil

i almost forgot
what pure evil
looked like

but then your
venomous head
popped back up
in my life

it's quite the fine
line you walk
being pure evil
while convincing
the whole world
you're the real

one fine line when
you don't possess
the motor skills
to walk and chew
gum at the same

and as i sit here
and ponder my
next move

simply ignore or
have you

i can't help
but think both
of us secretly
wish that killer
on the loose in
your state makes
his way up north

and does the right 
thing and put you
out of your misery

J.J. Campbell (1976 - ?) lives and writes on an 80 acre farm in Ohio. He's been widely published over the years, most recently at Carcinogenic Poetry, The Camel Saloon, Zygote In My Coffee, Thunder Sandwich, and Nerve Cowboy. His first full length collection of poems, Sofisticated White Trash, is due out in 2013 from Interior Noise Press. You can find J.J. most days on his blog, evil delights (http://evildelights.blogspot.com).

Thursday, February 21, 2013

D. L. Tricarico- Three Poems


gypsy, doe-eyed poet
with the hippie clothes
and the naughty mouth,
is it just your sensory
language I'm drawn to,
the raw images
that speak of the body
as if it were a cathedral
or is it maybe the false
bravado, the longing to
be thought of as tough
when you are nothing but
hot lava inside, in that secret
place where you quiver
with both lust and fear?


on a cool sunny
the pain hits
and medicine
doesn't help
and lying in a soft
bed in a dark room
doesn't soothe
and hot coffee
doesn't comfort
and the soft
fur of your best
dog doesn't
lift the veil of
suffering.  So what
in the hell
do you expect me
to do about it?


The world is spinning
out of control
around us--
the clowns are running the circus,
the children are starting
their newest adolescent
cult in the garage,
the creditors stalk us
as if they had knives in their palms
and we were celebrities
bloated on our fame,
and lastly, and most sadly,
our love has become nothing
but a casualty of
these soulless suburban ruins.
What can we do,
I ask?  My voice is weak
and my heart slams
against the inside of my chest
like a prisoner clanging
on the bars of his cell.
You think for a moment.
Wake me
in an hour, you say,
your eyelids heavy with pain
and the honey-tongued promise of sleep.

D.L. Tricarico lives in San Diego, but you could visit him here:  www.danslitcafe.blogspot.com

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Donal Mahoney- A Poem

In Certain Matters of the Heart

It's a matter of the heart,
the doctor says, 
and he can fix it 
with catheter ablation. 
"It works miracles," he says, 
"in certain matters of the heart."

He's been a cardiologist for years.
"Take my word for it," he says.
"You'll be sedated. Won't feel a thing."

No excavation in my chest, either. 
Instead, he'll make little holes 
in my groin and snake tiny wires 
to the surface of my heart 
and kill the current that makes 

my heart race like a hare 
at times and mope 
like a turtle other times.
He's never lost a patient.
"You'll be fine," he says. 
"Trust me."

Nine out of 10 ablations work.
I'll save hundreds a month, he says, 
on medications. No more Multaq. 
No more Cardizem. And I'll never 
have to wear a heart monitor again.

"Shall we give it a try?" he asks.
"I've got an opening 
two weeks from Monday.
It's an outpatient procedure.
You'll go home the same day,
rest for a week and then resume
your usual activities, even bowling.
Do you like bowling? My nurses do.
I prefer woodcarving."

"Okay, Doc," I tell him. 
"I'll give it a try, but tell me
where were you 40 years ago 
when the kids were small
and I was young, like a bull, 
and a different matter of the heart
dropped me like a bullet.
Are you sure my heart's still ticking?
Where's your stethoscope?
I haven't felt a thing in years."

James Babbs- A Poem

This Could Be My Last Poem

it’s true
none of us
can ever really know
when our time’s
finally going to come
this could be my last poem
these could be
the last words
I will ever write
I should ask forgiveness
for some of the things I’ve done
but it’s probably too late
and it wouldn’t make
any difference now
the sun warm on my face
there’s a good breeze around
and this could be my last poem
these could be
the last words
I will ever write
I should say thanks
to all the people
who helped me along the way
I’ve forgotten some of them
but they know who they are
so this could be my last poem
these could be
the last words
I will ever write
I guess
I should try to
say something important
before I get up
and walk around the yard
something profound like
life has no meaning
so good luck
have fun
so long

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Michael Keshigian- Three Poems


He crossed 42nd to get to Fifth
towards mid-town
and just paces in front of him
an old lady pushed a shopping cart
full of identity.

Bags of cans dangled
from each elbow
and clanged as she waddled,
dressed in clothes
worse than a country scarecrow

though her straw gray hair
hung longer,
tied in a tail with brown hosiery
to match her stoic, weathered face
and it pained his heart

when suddenly she squatted
in a deep knee bend,
like she was picking
something off the sidewalk,
and there she froze

as he quickly approached
to help,
unaware of the problem
till a puddle formed
and its river flowed around his shoes

down the curb
and in the privacy of her mind,
she transformed
his sympathy
to confused helplessness.


He felt as if he were born
to the sawdust and nails
of writing, working daily
in hours of solitude
to construct an architecture
which at times
seemed like a pointless task,
devoid of shelter for any dweller,
a paper house
easily toppled in a stray breeze.
On many afternoons
he abandoned the work,
meandered outdoors
to view the project from afar,
somewhat defeated yet relieved
once he soaked his head
in the light of the sun
which cleansed the metaphors
from his brain,
allowing a bit of respite
while the half house
toppled in a sigh of wind.
He could hear the creaks
of settling rubble.
Fallen walls,
once separated by nouns and verbs,
were now splintered by light
in puffs of dust,
carried off with a gust,
floating until an alternative blueprint
penciled in his head,
a new rhythm of nails
that bonded another design,
stirring his desire
to return to his desk.


Beneath the dock
from which he casts,
the water is shallow and clear,
the sodden earth
that bears the weight of liquid
is speckled with shoots
that will eventually surface
into a stage upon which
the basso bull frog
will perform his aria.
Occasionally, a cloud of dirt
smokes the clarity
of the transparent lake
and his searching
reveals the tail fin
of a scampering bass
near the shore to spawn.
He sits and watches
amid the Spring warmth
and delicate breezes
which incite the lake
to gently slap the dock.
He no longer dangles the bait
to tease the unsuspecting,
no longer allows temptation to linger,
that same lure
which spurred him to seek
refuge and the simple poem
this silent swimmer
strokes with her fin.
To read her verse
within the enclosure of this cove
is the remedy by which
he turns from the commotion
in his own life,
a commotion he has no desire
to impart.

Michael Keshigian’s poetry collection, Eagle’s Perch, was recently released by Bellowing Ark Press. Other published books: WildflowersJazz Face, Warm Summer Memories, Silent Poems, Seeking Solace, Dwindling Knight, Translucent View. Recently published in Red River Review, Illya’s Honey, California Quarterly, Boston Literary Magazine, and Foundling Review, he is a 3- time Pushcart Prize and 2-time Best Of The Net nominee. 

Donal Mahoney- A Poem

The Whole Thing Over With
From her side of the bed
the wife suggests he get dressed,
go out in the night and
purchase a piece. She’s
not in the mood.  Or
if he must, he can
go ahead, stick it in,
shoot it off, and get
the whole thing over with.
She doesn’t care any more
where he pours it
so long as he’s quiet
and doesn’t wake the kids.
Too tired to dress,
he sticks it in, explodes,
rolls off, finally spent.
Maybe now the beasts
that will never creep
within his crosshairs
can get some sleep.

Ryan Hardgrove- A Poem

Virtue is Red

The tower on the hill pulses red at its tip
as I sip dead water
and chew on fingernails
The black winter sky
holds still and deep
as that red bulb blinks
so patient
never rushing
Its persistence
will not cease
It will still be there
after she leaves me
It will be there long after
and she may think of it
as she paints her toe nails
that same blazing red
some dreary evening
across town

And I will resent her
for the memory she keeps
although, I should not

but it’s not really that easy
is it?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Ben Adams- Two Poems

the truest thing

one way to imagine it
is that hemingway, at the end
looked back not with despair
or regret

but only with the knowledge
– real and heavy
and beautiful, in its way –
that those few short paris years

had been the truest thing
he would ever know
had given him the truest things
he would ever write.

one way to imagine it
is that hemingway, at the end
was sitting once more
on the boulevard st. michel,

a young man with longish hair,
sipping hot coffee
because it was morning,
and carefully finishing one more story:

that was not the truest thing
he would ever write.
but would have
to do.

the final page
an echoing
blast, and then


the gaps between us grow
as the sun fails
over snaggletoothed pylons

the gaps between us grow but
we swim there
in that place for an ever

and the salt weathered jetty wreck
like a fading mistress into night.

the examined life falters
at the last,
when its light bleeds mute and gray
between the moon
and shoreline

and the stars are uncut stones

and there is love stopped
and buried somewhere
like a dropped pocket watch
in mud-flat sand.

Ben Adams is a writer and political ranter currently studying for his PhD on the poetry of Charles Bukowski. He comes from Adelaide in South Australia, which Salman Rushdie once called a sleepy conservative town (of .. million) and “ideal setting for a Stephen King novel, or horror film.” Ben takes this as a compliment, much preferring King’s work to that of Mr Rushdie. Ben has also worked as state ambassador for Express Media’s National Young Writers’ Month, a Buzzcuts arts reviewer and coordinator, and had several poems appear in the online small press. He proudly served among those last few video store clerks to hold their ground against the coming of Netflix.