Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Jack Phillips Lowe- Three Poems


Dear Joe Bolton,

You played a cruel trick on me.
I pulled your The Last Nostalgia: Poems 1982-1990
randomly off a shelf at the public library,
opened the book in the middle and was at once
captured by your sharp eye, your immediacy
and your melancholy music.

I stayed with you, Joe.
I roamed at your side through all those pages—
pages that took us down flowing blue rivers
in western Kentucky and up Florida city blocks
glowing pink in the summer heat.
I sat with you and listened to those cicadas
singing in the muggy dusk of Houston.
I loved how you found a way to fit
the flamingos from the opening credits
of Miami Vice into a poem.
I smiled at how you crafted verse out of each
and every attractive woman you ever glimpsed—
no matter how briefly—
and made me feel like I’d ogled her, too.

I was so busy doing these things,
I overlooked your penchant
for elegies, odes and lamentations.
I was preoccupied with chiding myself
for not discovering a major voice sooner,
with planning on how I was going to track down
all of your books on and
devour them in chronological order.
I was anticipating, like Christmas,
reading your most recent poems.

When I happened to glance at the author’s biography
inside the back cover of The Last Nostalgia.
For sticking with you, Joe, through the whole book,
there was my backhanded reward:
“Mr. Bolton took his own life in March 1990
at the age of 28.”

Fuck you, Joe Bolton, for writing so uniquely
and then dying like a cliché.
Wish you were here.


She called herself “Passion.”
The name on her student i.d., though, was Karen.
She said she’d renamed herself when she’d been “reborn”
at an Earth Day rally at college. Okay, laugh now.
But this was serious business in 1992.

Passion had gone Green long before it was fashionable.
This meant: wearing only billowing hippy dresses
made of natural, undyed fibers;
forcing me to watch Running on Empty, a film starring
her “eco-hero,” River Phoenix, 101 times in a row;
and hauling me along on dates, where we spent
the evenings picking up trash along highways
in service to, as Passion said, “our Mother Earth.”

I wasn’t and never have been Green.
So why did I stay with Passion
for the few months that I did? It was simple:
she was the horniest woman I’ve ever known.
Passion used to call fucking “serving the life impulse.”
And between the two of us, I must say that
this impulse was one well-served son of a bitch.

Despite this, our relationship crash-landed
the day I presented Passion a love poem
I scribbled for her on a sheet of notebook paper.
“Are you shitting me?” she cried in outrage,
waving the page in my face.
“You barely used six lines! Do you have any idea
how many trees were sacrificed for this paper?
River Phoenix never writes love notes
to his girlfriend. He records them on tape
and sends her the cassettes—
which she then reuses to reply to him.”
When I scoffed at this idea, Passion added:
“Really! River Phoenix said!”

That ended us as a couple.
A few weeks later, Passion joined Greenpeace.
She left town on some ecological mission
and I never saw her again.
But thanks to River Phoenix,
I remember her fondly
whenever Running on Empty plays on TV.


According to reliable sources, a wealthy young film producer
from an undisclosed foreign locale paid $50,000
in a silent auction for an electric typewriter.
The typewriter had belonged to Orson Welles in the 1970s.

Upon receiving the precious artifact, the producer
was disappointed to find only a Smith-Corona 2200
typewriter in a slightly battered sky-blue case.
The typewriter, much to the producer’s chagrin,
did not glow in the dark or play music of any kind.
It merely hummed, impatiently, when you flipped
the “on” switch and clattered out letters on paper
when you pressed corresponding keys.

What frustrated the producer most of all, however,
was the failure of Orson’s ghost to return
to the machine to write a screenplay, a story
or one lousy fucking sentence,
despite the typewriter’s having been left out every night
in the company of a chilled bottle of French Chardonnay
and a box of Cuban cigars.

According to those same reliable sources,
Orson’s typewriter’s current home
is an anonymous storage locker,
where it rests among snow tires and winter clothes,
as forgotten as Rosebud at Xanadu.

Jack Phillips Lowe is Chicago-born and raised. His poems have appeared in Clark Street Review, Nerve Cowboy and The Bitchin' Kitsch. His chapbooks include So Much for Paradise (MuscleHead Press, 2000) and Cold Case Cowboys (Middle Island Press, 2013). For the latest on all things Lowe, check out this interview Jack did with Christina Anne Taylor at Poetica-Place:

Alan Catlin- A Poem

Too Drunk to Walk, Sober Enough to Drive

After the four course, tip-included
meal, the splits of cheap champagne
toasts, the well drink, call brands extra,
open bar. After the chicken dancing,
Macarena contests, hokey pokey
marathons. After serious make out
sessions with perpetual bride to be,
off again-on again girlfriend, office
whore.  After slamming the door to
the included-in-the-package room
for the duration of the night. After
stumbling half-dressed, with flip flops
instead of shoes, fumbling car keys,
sliding on treacherous-not-salted
sidewalk ice, too drunk to walk
but sober enough to drive. After
crawling on all fours to the vehicle,
the scraping of a few square inches
of windshield ice and climbing up
behind the wheel and wondering aloud
when this already turned on, motherfucking
vehicle is ever going to start. After
finally negotiating blind no left turn, left
turn, and the closing of one eye to better
locate and reduce the divergence of
double yellow lines in early AM sleet
freezing rain, now fully engaged for
the ole bump and grind involving parked
cars, stationery poles, road signs, picket
fences. Nothing deters him. Not curbs,
road flares, emergency lights, not men
with fire hoses dousing a smoking car,
nor waving men in yellow slickers and
side arms. The whole scene lit up for him
like a giant pinball machine, only the final
score waiting to be rung up on the tote board,
waiting to be finalized.

Douglas Polk- Two Poems

Deja vu

fifty years ago in the Soviet Union,
the media,
state run,
would hid the lies,
and tell only one side,
while the people suffered,
in America,
in the twenty first century,
the government and media,
now share the same beds,
pillow talk,
consists of political strategy,
planning stories,
to hid the lies,
and tell only one side,
while the people suffer.
A Plan

lives of patriots,
lost in a hundred countries,
in Cuba, Iraq and Afghanistan,
mean nothing,
for the President has a plan,
ideals and values are relative concepts,
changing over time,
but his wisdom infinite,
stable and secure,
he shall define right and wrong for the world,
and the country,
dismantling law and order,
Lady Justice can no longer be blind,
she must be allowed to see,
to pick the winners and the losers,
democrat or republican,
black or white,
laws relative,
instead of absolute,
along with his foreign policy,
and defending the weak from the strong,
the President has a plan,
but he,
the only one,
intelligent enough to understand,
it is not the political horse shit,
it appears to be.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Joe Balaz- A Poem


By da name you could imagine

supercharged eels
or stingrays in da currents

but it wuz nutting like dat.

Da beach wuz known as such
because of da nearby power plant
at Kahe Point.

Two giant cooling pipes offshore
outflowed clean warm watah

so all da surrounding marine life
wuz attracted to check it out.

Dats why da place

wuz so popular wit snorkelers
and scuba divers.

Reggie wuz familiar
wit Electric Beach too

but he didn’t have
any fish on his mind

wen he sat at dat bar
in nearby Ko Olina.

He wuz moa interested
in da tourist chick
dat wuz looking back at him.

Dere wuz wun mutual tingle
on da brainwaves

and at first Reggie’s plan
wuz foa the two of dem

to drive dat night
back to his apartment in Waianae

but suddenly dey stopped
at Electric Beach instead

and disappeared into da dark.

Needless to say
dey lit it up on wun towel

and wuz headed
to wun explosive surge

wen wun synthetic sun
blazed on dere startled eyeballs.

Behind wun flashlight

wun voice like God
in da Garden of Eden

spoke and revealed
two okoles gleaming in da glare.

Da cop
wen cut dem wun break

right deah on Electric Beach

wen he told dem to leave
and go get wun room—

lucky foa dem
dey won't have to pay
wun utility bill

foa misusing da premises.

okole Rear end; buttocks.

Joe Balaz writes in Hawaiian Islands Pidgin (Hawai'i Creole English) and American-English. He edited Ho'omanoa: An Anthology of Contemporary Hawaiian Literature. He presently lives in Ohio.

Tamara Turner- A Poem & Photo

Some days I get so chilly
People say snow is lovely and sweet
I think it’s metallic and dirty
I’m not so beautiful in this season
At least not in my own eye
I prefer colors of spring  
Smells of summer
I care not for this time
When it comes around
Bringing death and greyishness
I must endure
Blessedly my splendor will not perish
As long as I keep moving
Sometimes halting
For a while
I must
Frozen in fear
Though not for long
Comforting sunshine
She is my friend
Giving me warmth
To flow once again

Scott Thomas Outlar- Two Poems

One More Page
It spills out from the corridor
from the depths
from the high lofty perch
It crawls out from under the leaves
up in the trees
beyond the fire
It dies with a sudden hiss
a blanket comfort
a broken dream in the ditch
It does not cry
nor weep
nor laugh
nor dance
It is a stalwart stoic
languishing away
in a deathbed of stagnation
It is the child of evolution
born in retardation
never meant to see the sun
It is the dark curse of frustration
a liar’s haven
the place where chaos can rehearse
It comes forth with a mask on
scared of daylight
scarred from a million years of war
It holds out at the table
playing aces
not even knowing what the game is
or where the game goes
or why the game ever began
It sucks dry
its own poison
receives a dose of passion straight to the grave

Before the dark midnight hour
suffocates and squeezes all life from the day
I stand out near the edge
of a fiery abyss
looking over
and pissing down
to quench the flames
for I will not be afraid
of the lowly sounds
that rumble below
trying to rise up
when the hour grows late
and Satan thinks
he has a free ride
on Humanity’s tab
My glass is full
of red wine
but it is born of salvation
not blood, not fire, not lies
I am the antithesis
of compromise
I cannot be tempted
because I have already tasted
the worldly pleasures
that try to sell
the immortal soul
for a dollar
What a disgrace
I’ll leave it be
on Wall Street’s doorstep
and sleep tonight
in eternal peace

Kelley Jean White- Two Poems

I want a 1963 red VW beetle with a nubby wayback and four-on-the-floor.
And a midwife who can calm my palpitations with peppermint and lemon.
Oh, cursed jockey-shorts and racing bikes! I could say how much I love
my car. I could say I love her wheels and her adjustable seats. Her headrests
and cupholders. Oh, her cupholders! Adaptable and wise. If only I were that
to those I love! To drive them safely to their wants and needs. To tell my truth
in the harshest light. Beneath the glare of the bathroom mirror. The glow of
porcelain and stainless steel.
A laceration would be honest pain. An amputation. A trepanation.
But I have a sadness heavier than an engine block straddling my chest.
Could you lift it with clapping and chanting? A dozen teenagers in séance circle whispering the story of my death? Child forgotten in the sound proof booth?
Lord of mercy, I’d forgotten. That was me. Three ears and not a one can hear. And a thousand blind eyes in the palm of your hands. Kiss their lashes, kiss their lids.
One tiny buzz of your breath and I breathe.
I have lost speech, I have lost logic, I have learned hope. For one moment today I saw
the supermarket shelves were forever.Shampoo. Soap. Toothpaste. A sponge
shaped like a fish. Last things I would see. Sixty-three cent counted into my palm and I’d be gone. A woman with a bag of chocolates and a bottle of shampoo. Forever.
I’m dying, don’t you see? That pain in my chest when I climb the hill. And I can’t
even remember what music was playing. I should be seeing patients today.
It’s weird to feel so guilty when I’m home sneezing and dripping
and miserable. And everyone will think it’s because I’m pissed at JP.
Well, lord, I considered being out sick—look how wishes come true.
(Be grateful it’s a small one.)
Fire, lord, children on fire! Am I losing this gift, poetry? Have
I lost it. This certainly isn’t a poem. I have a VW Passatt wagon that won’t start
and it’s piling up bills. My daughter’s Jetta’s broken too. Oh, sweet beetle, how
you fail! Will I ever write about the lies in my life? If I could see them for what they are.
For nosebleeds, drop keys down the back. For bee stings, burn with a cigarette.
Oh, darling, you can always make me cry. Or laugh. At your confusion. Both.
Do I ever listen to you? Is what I hear always in my own twisted consciousness?
Oh sweet, sweet heat of your skin. Oh if only magnetism could cure my lonely ache!
Say, sweet forgiveness, say, save the wretch, say me. And I’ll get on my knees.
He held me for nothing in his arms. And I woke to a blank sheet of paper and an empty
cup. I was dreaming. I forgot about what.
The Cat Anthropologist
twitches his tail from his observation post
behind the thornbush, fur on end,
watches dog’s grovel and leap
at the master’s voice, smooths
a paw over his own sleek coat, begins
a sunbath, watches them eat cat food from his dish–
they eat his food, but alas, he cannot stomach theirs

Monday, December 29, 2014

Stefanie Bennett- Three Poems

On the day the sun cried
An epicurean
Semiquaver hung
The good red earth,
The cornflower-blue
The jasmine’s diminutive
Austerity, and
The vanished
Coming[s] and going[s]
Of providence...
Words, overheard, as
A crop of
Ashes fell –, tell
‘It’s the “bee’s knees”
Of B-grade movies
In toto with
VX re-routed
Now –, did you... do you
From behind
Our cautionary
It is I see?
In a dim lit cabin the aged Sachem sits crafting
Another finely beaded belt that
Will tell coloured histories of the salmon run,
Moose, and coyote trilogy.
Wisdom’s deft fingers
Flex to rearrange a knot
... Here ... There.
Prized by collectors, his Wampum
Carries a mission prayer.
Simply annotated,
There’s the need for
I keep my own company
And it’s
Kept very well –,
Breezy and
Boxed on
Distant fields:
... Somehow by-
The Janus-Faced
Deal of
An eye
For a patch
Of another’s –:
No. Never
Here –.
It’s the company
I keep –,
The oxymora
And the relish
That makes
The difference.
Stefanie Bennett has published eighteen books of poetry and one novel. She has acted as a
publishing editor and worked with Arts Action for Peace. Of mixed ancestry [Italian/Irish/Paugussett-Shawnee], she was born in Queensland, Australia, in 1945. Her latest poetry title ‘The Vanishing’ is due at year’s end. Publisher; Walleah Press.


Tim Laffey- A Poem


When much younger I ‘d read
those old guys who’d argued strictly
from authority, made assertions,
never testing a conclusion against the facts.
I’d cut classes and smuggle Greeks,
Romans, early church fathers,
off university bookstore shelves,
stealing master works on ethics.
After all it wasn’t like I was using
the money I’d paid them for tuition.

Here’s one gem of decision without data:
Polycarp of Smyrna tried and failed
to persuade Anicetus that
Passover should be celebrated on 14 Nisan.  
Waged quite a battle. Some people died.
As I went through life, that proved as useful
as any estimate of the angel population
inhabiting a pinhead.

So forty-five years of hard living later,
knowing the way I see things had been
torqued a bit by heavy use, a bumper
abused by mortal sins against traffic,
it seemed time to take another tour,
through Plato, Anselm, Spinoza,
from Anaximander to... Ivehadenough.
My conclusion didn’t change much.

So I went back to reading known fiction,
the truth as told by Ross Macdonald,
Elmore Leonard, Dennis Lehane and others.
It seemed that these would cover
most issues of common ethics
and we were going to need good crime
detection. Because we’d invented
empiricism; they hadn’t. And
likely its efficient misuse
would windup killing us
in growing numbers
and we’d want to
know who
to pin it

Neil Ellman- Three Poems

Homage to the Square: Ascending

(Joseph Albers, painting)

It is everything
the four means to ascendancy
providence framed in
yesterdays, todays, tomorrows
and beyond
earth, wind, fire and water
north, east, south and west
at every corner of the universe
its edges aligned to stars—
the square is the root
of everything known
all things rising from the sea
to bathe the day in yellow light.

The Last Judgment

(Wassily Kandinsky, painting)

When two dimensions meet
there is an awkward silence
as they circle around
each other’s other
space and time              
like brother and sister
at arm’s length
hesitant lovers afraid to touch
wary of the other’s secret intent    
each recognizing in the other
something of itself
too murderous to hear
the fate of its existence
in a war between themselves.

The Violence of the Machines

(Yves Tanguy, painting)

Clockwork angels
disemboweled from Hell
they have learned
from their makers
the meaning of deceit
how violence flows
from flesh
to metal and wire
and burns the inside
of the mind
how the world must end
how it ended
in paroxysms of pain
in the arms of the deity
a moment too late.

Neil Ellman, a poet from New Jersey, has published more that 1,000 poems, many of which are ekphrastic and written in response to works of modern and contemporary art.  He has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize, twice for Best of the Net, and for the Rhysling Award.

Linda M. Crate- Three Poems

bittersweet october

is here
so winter is coming
to beat the
flowers back into the dust,
but for now
i will accept the transferring of leaves
and their colors
watch them dance;
for they are never truly
i have watched them dance in the wind
like these memories of mine
of you and me and me and him and of
a friendship with her once
streaming alive with life
now a broken chord,
and sometimes in the remembering it seems
that october not april is the cruelest
month mixing memory
with desire;
flowers wilt and petals fall
like these leaves
dancing in the stream and i want nothing more
than to lose my leaves, to fall into a slumber
and only wake when the flowers
like these leaves
dance again.

flower of the flames

i will be a flower
that refuses to be beaten back into
winter's dust
petals of the prettiest lily
surrender so willingly
in rivers of peace,
but i cannot do the same;
for now is a time
of war
against everything they tell us is truth
because they are dancing
with the devils
they always told us to run from—
i will burn with ultraviolet
not even the brightest summer's light
can touch
for i have star dust in my veins
i was not meant to shrink back into the shallows
comfortable and deep,
but to lash out like a cobra
for everyone
too weak and too old to fight against all the wrongs
in this world;
and i will not rest until i've righted some of these
evils in this plane of existence—
for everyone deserves
to live a life of peace and love should they desire to
no one deserves to die
just as no one is asked if they wish to be born;
my petals will forever burn
rough around the edges for all those who remain
voiceless and afraid
because i know what it's like to tremble at the
rustle of my own shadow
but i'm tired of holding back when i was meant
to shine—
i will be a flower of flames and my petals
will never die
no matter how much water they try to use to douse
me out.

i would be autumn

if i had my choice i would
be a tree in autumn
leaves of coppery red, brilliant peridot,
bright gold, and fiery orange
fierce and magnificent
with my array
of leaves;
and i would create good memories
to erase all these bad ones
i have of autumn;
am i repulsed by thanksgiving or of october
or november for all these painful
but i would like to create some moments
with people in my life that will last
so these fall months are
more sweet than
and my leaves would dance
twirl around walkers and lovers as they
dreamed and lived and laughed—
it would embrace friends and enemies and
give even the crying ones peace,
and if i had my choice
it would be now;
but i am but a girl trapped in these limbs
of humanity and so i will be the
vibrancy of autumn
in my heart and radiate the light outward
to burn away all the darkness
haunting everyone
including me.

Joe Brennand- Three Poems

in a cool breeze
butterfly's wings unfold
our first date

clouds float
in a warm morning

spring morning
a dove's wings unfold
we start over

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Donal Mahoney- A Poem

The First of the Year

Anyone who has had poetry published by an editor over the years has a relationship with that editor whether one knows it or not. 

Sometimes the relationship is lukewarm, other times bordering on friendship, occasionally deep. Over time, writer and the editor notice mannerisms in each other that are often never discussed since these insights have nothing to do with the work and time may be important to one or both. That's happened to me with editors over the years but never with such impact as happened in an incident that occurred not long ago.

This editor has accepted my work on a regular basis and has kept his distance, a safe place to be for anyone dealing with writers, most of whom know how good they are. Every once in awhile, however, he would tell me that my writing reminded him of some author I had never read. I had always heard of the authors, some of them alive, others recently dead, all very good writers by the standards of this era. He would usually recommend a book or two by each author that he would say I should read. This was the only time he would border on the imperative. Otherwise he would sound as if he had been reading The New Yorker since birth. 

This kind of response from an otherwise detached but intelligent editor is invigorating. To be compared to a good writer one has never read has a double benefit: One must be writing some things well. And one must not be subliminally plagiarizing the style of the author mentioned since he has never read him or her.

In the last couple of months, however, this meticulous editor hasn't published a new issue, something he has done every month in the years since I first encountered his site. I had no idea what might be the matter. Stranger still, I had heard nothing from him and he was always one to respond. 

I began thinking that maybe his failure to write might have had something to do with the last two pieces I had sent him. The content of both would be politically incorrect in his eyes but not in mine. I sent the pieces because it's good at times to get a reaction from someone whose taste you admire but who may not agree with you on the issues of the day or on the bigger issues of life. 

Not hearing from him on the controversial pieces, I decided to send him a short story and a poem I thought he would like. Not too hot, not too cold, perhaps just right. Maybe he needed copy. Maybe for some odd reason submissions to his site were down.

A week later he wrote back and apologized for the delay in getting back to me. He said he liked the work I had just sent, did not mention the controversial pieces, and added that he would be putting his site on hiatus till "after the first of the year." Then he said, almost as a casual afterword, that he could not recall if he had told me that he has Stage 4 cancer. The email ended on that note.

No, he had not told me that tremulous fact and I mentioned that in my reply. I took a chance and said that if he ever simply wanted to sound off about something, I'd be happy to hear from him. I knew nothing about him or his life so I might be a safe place, I thought, for him to air whatever goes through the mind of someone with Stage 4 cancer.

So far he has not written back.

It will be hard waiting for the "after" that I hope comes "after the first of the year.” 

Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri. 

B.Z. Niditch- A Poem


Flowers eaten by dust
sleep for another season
as the last petals on unsuspecting
wind, warmth,dark rain
disappear in groves and dunes
by the once greensward grass
our sandals barely get through
the wood animated pine combs,
yet we listen to shore voices
who linger at the ocean edge
among the last gulls 
my memory drifts by 
remnants of powdery flowers
detoured by a rock garden
as you tiptoe this new year
on what faces you
as another child of earth
steps and glows on leaves
red, yellow and orange
in the first sunlight
on echoes of morning
of a clear geography
between hedges of grackles
witnesses your presence
you are able to speak and draw
a line of the sandy beach
for your new canvas
being a part
and attached to nature
after a jog in miles of landscape
before the yellow jacket threshold
with sensitized words and colors
accessible to all
yet feel an artist's language
embracing a transformed season
into an infinite profile 
by a laughing river run 
as a few unscratched wild petals
still wave to us at the shore's edge.

Richard Schnap- A Poem


Some become lost in themselves
Wandering through the corridors
Of a house lined with mirrors

Where if they speak the story
Of their lives they will hear
Only a chorus of echoes

While some become lost in others
Their hearts so bound together
They share the same shadow

Like a candle with both ends burning
That hopes the wind will leave it
To go out in a single flame

Paul Tristram- Three Poems

It’s Funny That?

I used to fall out of bed
3 or 4 times a week
at least
when we were together.
Now I’m on my own again
it never happens?
I reckon
it must have been my
wise old soul
trying to get away from you
while my stupid
feelings were resting!

© Paul Tristram 2014

Irascible Old Me

All sharp edges and cranky on the inside,
morning madness hangover bashing,
midnight moon howling craziness.
Shadowboxing my own reflection
and sneakily sticking a real one in.
The street kids don’t trick or treat
our door after the third great explosion.
The neighbours scurry away crab-like
whenever they see me stamping
and a-raving half naked into town.
I keep the Local Constabulary in business,
I give the Magistrates a real reason
to get up and go to work of a morning.
They broke the mould when they made me
I tell thee, I’ve been an handful since
my birth and I’ll be an handful until I die.

© Paul Tristram 2014

Servicing The Soul

Sometimes it’s a Night out on the Lash with Friends.
A Sunday Roast at noon in a Country Pub.
A lazy afternoon indoors watching favourite movies.
A kiss full of nothing but love and truth.
A Christmas Tree bursting with magic.
A walk down by the river, up a mountain or in the woods.
Sharing a bottle with your dreams and wishes
upon that beach at Midnight.
A dog with big brown smiling eyes.
The once tall clock of your Hometown.
A corned beef pasty and a bag of cockles from Neath Market.
A child with furrowed brow of deep concentration and wondering.
Your Lovers deep arms holding you warm with gentle caring.
There are many ways to Service the Soul
Each one Special and Unique.
Be wise and do not let Life ever distract you
from any of them for too long.

© Paul Tristram 2014

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.

You can read his poems and stories here!

Gene McCormick- A Poem

The Caption: A Christmas Carole
Quiet lays over the chapel as the stout man sits at the piano, pulls the bench an inch closer to the keyboard and waits for the even-stouter star soloist who dramatically hesitates for thirty seconds before heavily walking to her music stand as hot lights gleam on the pianists bald head highlighting a pattern baldness which he used to hide with a comb-over but now has shaved the remaining semi-circle of hair which emphasizes the nakedness but not the gray stubble which is of no matter because the fifty people in the audience are there to hear Christmas season songs of a nature not usually heard (“See Amid The Snow,” “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”) and the singer doesn’t have to clear her throat, launching immediately into a festive, tinkling tune.
The pianist is intense, fingers precise, their movements reflected in the backboard as his head bobs down toward the keys, then sideways in actions belying his reverent appearance of a dark blue blazer and dark grey slacks, playing with a competence that draws attention from his shiny head while the singer, her performance costume being an above-the-knee maroon dress that looks like a Hefty-bag smock and is partly covered by a tied-at-the-front black cardigan…all while standing in black Soviet charwoman shoes, a look which a necklace of dull gold-plate and indeterminate cabochon fails to revive, and is not enhanced by a deep v-neckline but she does have long, mouse-brown hair that lays straight on her head and past her ears until it comes to rest on her unample bosom, where a few curls have been imposed and drift slightly when she moves her head for angelic emphasis or nods to let the pianist know that she is ready to begin the next song and he looks at her wishing not that he could sing like a neutered harem slave but instead have her long hair and the mousey color be damned.
Brief Bio: Gene McCormick is reputed to have once dated 18 female members of the Morman Tabernacle Choir at the same time. There is likely little truth to the repute.

Kelley Jean White- Two Poems

Jumping to

You got to give it to Arthur:
he’s spry.
and he’s dancing.
And he’s got
an old wife. Well of course
he does.
Didn’t mean anything
by it.
Not that you’re old
or anything.
Arthur, he leaps out on the dance
floor and
maybe he
falls down
and maybe
he takes his wife’s arm and they both
fall down.
Men have
brittle bones too. Ever thought of
that? You’re the one
on his back
arms and legs jerking
in the air like a bug. Think you’re
funny. Circle forming
around us. Yeah.

I used to do the holidays
years and years
I made things
covered a huge
christmas tree
since childhood I saved all my money
made things for it
bought supplies and a few other things
made stockings for the children and their father
and for friends and neighbors and family
I made cookies
I baked and crocheted and made gifts
now the children don't even want
to decorate the tree
oh I've got to have one
they wouldn't like it at all if I didn't have a tree
their father has a huge tree
we might go out to the country to get one in New Hampshire
but grandfather's not there to chop it down
there will be an artificial tree at my mother's
I've spent a thousand dollars on nothing
nobody wants
and what's the use
why don't I just do got to sleep
why do I care
I used to live for it
I want it to go away
John is Santa because his birthday is December 24th
I know where he will end up on Christmas morning
and I hate it
I am sick and jenny is sick and john's sick
and I can't wait
send us home and for a week
what will I do but pick up after the kids
and feel bad and used and angry
and why and why
I think I'll go to the the supermarket and buy some lights for the porch

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Douglas Polk- Three Poems


serene the waters,
in the mind's eye,
a Victorian painting,
of years gone by,
open the eyes,
technology documents the chaos,
nervously people wait to be reassured,
sheep with no will of their own,
hoping to be comforted by the corrupt,
and the obscene,
unable to imagine,
waters serene.


black lives matter,
but not Christians or Jews,
kill them as quick as you can,
before the world tries to see,
our cameras in other places,
at moronic events,
on ignorant faces,
trying to warp the reality seen,
while people still being murdered,
in mind boggling numbers,
livestock to be slaughtered,
no thoughts involved,
it doesn't really matter,
if not covered or seen.
state of Mind

do not speak,
or think,
read no books,
God forbid,
we would want to offend,
dangerous to demand one's rights,
for terrorists may not agree,
and the government professes everything must be equal,
everything free,
so lets all sit in darkness,
safe and secure,
equally free,
in our self made cells,
offending no one.

D.N. Simmers- A Poem

            Drinking a Dangerous Body

            Out there. Nights.
            Evenings' skulls facing drunks.
            Skulking in pubs.
            A venue with slurring words and names.
            Puking places where a few toes
            dance and
            pool halls' smashes
            against a face of last calls.
            Peeling off costumes.
            Painted heads with faces falling.
            Picking up the calls 
            and hoots of shadows.
            Darkness pisses in alleys
            behind skin and hot breathing.
            Wanting and
            singing and going
            down rat tailed nights.
            Crashes. Bashes.
            Broken jaws and clashes. 
            Teeth with ambulance sirens' flashes.

Tim Laffey- Two Poems

What We’d Do Again
when we lived in dark jungles
when we huddled in cities
when we ambushed from bushes
when we built our first factories
when we defined some as owners
when we got riches past reason
when we corrupted our stories
when we blamed it on others
when we sullied our sisters
when we cheated our brothers
we’d steal identities
we’d drug restless children
we’d poison their porridge
we’d make workers poorer
we’d hold their heads under
we’d deny what we’re doing
we’d deride what was worthy
we’d ride roughly on horses
we’d stack skulls as warnings
we’d plow down our forests
we’d drain off some species
we’d catapult corpses
we’d starve the walled castles
we’d assault lonely women
we’d blog of our hates
we’d post naked pictures
we’d soak them in smallpox
we’d wrapped them in blankets
we’d house them in boxes
we’d heat them on street grates
we’d hound them through alleys
we’d dump shit in our oceans
we’d drive by guns howling
we’d hypertext nightmares
we’d deny obligations
we’d mass market symptoms
we’d leave them all empty
we’d say god said do it leave
nothing worth stealing we’d
twitter words bitter
twitter words boldly
we’d counteract kindness and seal our fates
we’d repeat our worst histories
as war again war again war again
Beautiful Girl
We need to seed the fertile soil,
      there is anything to say
or do, and in it
find a commitment
to animal modesty that speaks
      clearly and easily
           as one would walk
and naturally whistle
     on a fine day
          with smells of
bright flowers
dancing through air.
-all this is alive and we
are in it
      also alive-
And it would have me speak to you
of the way it works
and why
so that you
beautiful girl might shoot
     your sidelong glance at me
and pierce my heart.

Tamara Turner- A Poem & Photo

Old men hold ground
Numbers grow sparse
Broken and beaten down
Humanity equally brutal
As blazing sun
Hammering storms
Every effort made
Strength and beauty
Living uncertain which
Day may
Be the last

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Joe Balaz- Three Poems

Joe Balaz writes in Hawaiian Islands Pidgin (Hawai'i Creole English) and American-English. He edited Ho'omanoa: An Anthology of Contemporary Hawaiian Literature.
He presently lives in Ohio.


Dats da last time
dey going hiking li’dat.

Seven dummies
from ten to twenty-one

and you tink da oldah one
would have some sense.

Talk about
screwing up da game plan.

Dey wen go trekking in da valley
foa go swimming

wen bad weather wuz coming.

Call 911 on da cellphone!

Everybody going drown!

Dats why it’s called wun flash flood.

Stuck by da waterfall
clinging to da banks

dey wuz lucky
only backpacks

went rushing downstream.

Da Fire Department
had to come to da rescue.

Dey found out latah
four of da hikers wuz Boy Scouts.

So much foa da motto
“Be Prepared.”

Hammajang gang—

add ‘um to da long list

of deaf ear
and green behind da gills.

hammajang Messed up; screwed up.
li’dat Like that.
deaf ear Unattentive.


If da magic words
evah existed

he would nevah even tink
about writing dem down

cause he no like
leave wun paper trail.

Big bulai

offering bull crap
and wilted roses

while casting wun spell
wit wun empty incantation.

It’s wun lame trick
not telling da truth—

presto change-o

and see da transformation
in all da people dat no believe.

He might
have wun golden lamp in his head

but da genie
is all mouth and no action.

Big bulai

you know he stay lying
cause his lips stay moving.

bulai Liar; to lie.
stay Is; to be.


I just love dis stuff

and it’s so good to eat
wen you get da munchies.

I get all wired too
aftah chomping down on dese grinds.

Wen I do my buggy dance
foa my honey

she spread her wings
and tink I funny

and fly away
before I can attack her tree.

She no like share
da experience

of both of us
chowing down together.

But I kannot help
being how I am

cause I like to work dat hole
and crawl inside

and get to da core
of da bean—

I not kidding
I got wun big appetite.

You might tink I wun pig
or even wun pest

but I’m just wun average
boring beetle

and everybody gottah eat.

So sorry about da prices
going up in Kona

I know I stay cutting into da crop—

but maybe dose growers
ovah deah

should plant bananas
or someting else

cause all of dese coffee berries
are just everyday heaven to me.

Kona Land area on the island of Hawaii known for coffee growing.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Rose Mary Boehm- Three Poems

It’s a five-star alright
Come in… datang datang dalam.
It’s Orchard Road and Singapore
and Raffles and sand on the wooden floor
of the bar and four-posters and lithe women
and rich men. We only made it to the bar
but were shown around, just in case,
you know--hanya dalam kes. You find
rich man, melady. Orang kaya.
Even the orchids look scrubbed. I am
pleased that they named the ugliest
one after Margaret Thatcher. Not one chewed
out gum, not one beggar on the pavement,
the sick and old hidden from view. Don’t
look closer, stupid white men, orang putih
, you’ve never seen us.
The guide bows deeply.

I am a snake killer

It wasn’t a very pretty one. About a meter long,
undulating on the blue plastic pool winter liner.
Looked at me. We saw each other often. I wasn’t

sure what to make of it. The reputation
of snakes, you know. And Adam and the temptation
and black mambas, rattlers and cottonmouths.

Even though this was Europe, and even though
I knew there were those and others, they do have
a bad name. It looked at me again.  Calm.

I used to grab grass snakes when my brother
had convinced me I would live after. Frogs too.
Frogs became princes. Not sure I ever really

believed it, but I did stroke one simply
because I liked the way it stopped under my probing
finger, panting.  Princes, men…

Most of them are relatively harmless. And even
though my mother’s warnings rang in my ears,
as I felt this meter-long muscle resist

under the sharp edge of my spade
I wanted to undo the murder.


You must remind me of the good times. Before
we went to sleep and turned away, before you asked me
not to leave you, before I had to get drunk on those
nights I knew I couldn’t say 'no'. Remind me
of the times you walked naked to the kitchen
at three in the morning in that awful flat you shared,
just to take all the pips out of watermelon slices and feed me
cheese and juicy sweetness singing teddybearspicknick,
of the day you came to meet me at the port and how
you rested on the embankment while I cleaned the spark plugs.
Remind me of the scary film when you held my hand
or of the laughter when we married. You got a potted plant
from the pet shop and cut off the flower so I would
have a bouquet. Remind me because how else can I tell
the children they were conceived in love.

A German-born UK national, Rose Mary Boehm lives and works in Lima, Peru. Author of two novels and a poetry collection published in 2011 in the UK, ‘TANGENTS’, her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in a good two dozen US poetry reviews as well as some print anthologies, and Diane Lockward’s The Crafty Poet. She won third price in in the 2009 Margaret Reid Poetry Contest for Traditional Verse (US), and has been a finalist in several GR contests, winning it in October 2014.