Saturday, May 31, 2014

Craig Kurtz- Three Poems

The Newest Improvement in Failure

The dearly assembled congregated a circle
with incense amist and joined hands in a tryst;
incanting the spells of an ancient raindance
they chewed off their limbs in a foul brotherhood.
It was the newest improvement in failure, that act.

The pyramids and coliseums were burnt
as offerings to the unfathomable fog
that mells with the spheres in sulphurous heavens 
as the leperous doomed assumed jurisdiction.
It was the newest improvement in failure, that scene.

The castles all crumbled and the dungeons did flourish
as poisons and pistols turned blood into ghosts;
the sheriff’s department in absentia was tried
by harlots and vagrants appeasing cruel idols.
It was the newest improvement in failure, that play.

The eunuchs all feasted while the sultans all fasted
due to decrees erected by Bolsheviks;
dumbshows and puppets imitated mankind
while pontiffs and prophets filed patents on torture.
It was the newest improvement in failure, that schtick.

Vassals and serfs supported steam engines
which promised to mechanize the crushing of grapes;
satyrs and centaurs impounded the free press while
local economists rolled dice on split atoms.
It was the newest improvement in failure, that bit.

Sirens and naiads ensorcelled black pirates
who ransacked the skeleton of Cleopatra;
experts and scholars vilified effigies
but vandals and robbers blackmailed shrunken heads.
It was the newest improvement in failure; satire.

Adam and Eve had one last trick up their sleeve
automating childbirth with garlic and cloves;
in jungles and sewers centipedes multiplied
until an eclipse of the sun unleashed mutancy.
It was the latest innovation in folly; applause.

Mata Hari

Herein lies the legend of
   the Mata Hari mythos;
A ballad of deception,
   guiles and wanton eros.
Back in time skip we
   to a younger century;
A mere one hundred years-
   a dollar of eternity.
‘Twas an era of invention,
   steamships to the moon unfurled;
Marconi, Freud and Edison
   laid maps upon the world.
From isolate South Pole
   to the savagest Ubangi,
Zeppelins and submarines
   the globe condensed ingeniously.
Exotic were the lands,
   province once of fairly tale;
Deduced unto the Expositions-
   circus trifles and cheap ale.
Kingdoms were erected from
   sawdust, nails and staff[1];
To edify and entertain
   carriage swells and ne’er-do-well riff-raff.

But, to the text shall I attend,
   forswearing idle peregrination;
Our heroine, Margaretha Zelle,
   born to the Netherlands, town of Leeuwarden.
With swarthy skin and twirling locks,
   she was a child of especial charm;
Her father’s jewel, and pampered so,
   with an intelligence that did disarm.
A princess in her fantasy,
   a world of castles and of chivalry;
An exalted sire’s soft quiddity
   fostered M’greet’s acute coquetry.
And then, in bud of maidenhead,
   her father’s fortunes were bankrupted;
The luxury and indolence of this 
   blithe child was roused from bed.
To school she went to learn a trade,
   that of a kindergarten teacher;
Polylingual, mild and clever-
   “felicitous” leered the headmaster.
With a cherub’s bosom and a strumpet’s bum
   Margaretha’s fate in full begun;
Her natural scent, Venusian blossom-
   how many a man would come undone.

O what madness curses men
   when women they consider;
Their blood does quicken and too soon
   their yen becomes distemper.
And what can mere damsels do
   when lust’s phantasm’s misconstrue;
To be a mortal, assigned a shrew,
   or play the muse, and let wealth woo.
Why are men, who rule the world,
   so powerless before a lass?;
They speechify and pontificate
   while love songs make of them an ass.
And women who, like sovereigns,
   control the globe’s libido’s weal;
They own so little else unless
   a goddess pose provides a meal.
Procreation predicates
   a symmetry of purpose;
Recreation presupposes
   fancies passing otiose.
The marrow of the matter
   Shakespeare discoursed at length:
Women have been known to fall
   when men possess no strength.[2]

Which brings us back to the tale
   of Margaretha Zelle;
Compromised and then disgraced
   by the man she did enspell.
Fortunes waned but with ardors spry
   our nimble nymph unto marriage hied;
Captain Rudolph John MacLeod, Dutch East Indies officer,
   as a drunken prank did advertise for a young mail-order bride.
Stationed on the misty isle
   of Java with her lord and sir;
A reprobate, immodest cur,
   M’greet was married to disaster.
Vile ingrate, perverted knave,
   he made his wife a bedroom slave;
Dark arts did corrupt her acts,
   begetting wiles as her enclave.
A Hindu-Buddhist paradise at sea
   infused M’greet’s muliebrity;
Subservience suborned, nourished and transformed,
   the slave did master slavery’s diabolic artistry.
Sarong-attired and Malay-bejeweled
   she learned the Dance of Seven Veils;
How to bottle hearts and encask souls
   as recompense for dire assails.

‘Tis now the era of La Belle Époque,
   Edwardian Gilded Age;
When neon absinthe cheered the fops
   and laudanum drove poets sage.
Thus to Paris this narration moves
   introducing our gay divorcée;
Now rechristened Mata Hari,
   “Eye of the Day” — fey, recherché.
‘Twas Little Egypt who brought in vogue
   the hoochie coochie from Cairo[3];
But Mata Hari, mistress to the illustrious Guimet, 
   had a museum in which to make her debut show.[4]
And, she, Guimet’s exotic exhibit,
   a Javanese parvenue,
did intoxicate the hoi polloi with 
   carnal charms and abstruse taboo.
Not original in particular
   nor especially beautiful;
But sensually refined,
   Mata Hari was amenable.
From Monte Carlo to Madrid
   she ensorcelled aristocrats;
Her belly ballet salon-renown
   and finely-priced, howe’er ersatz.

For Dukes and Counts, gentlemen of leisure,
   will have unhallowed wassailing pleasure;
Games of chance, splendid repasts, then aperétifs and tapers quelled,
  the evening’s pearl submits her treasure.
Affection — or affectation? What
   difference cares jejune coition;
Jealousies and rivalries are aphrodisiac libations
   when oblation is volition in courtships mephistophelian.
A lavish life, epitomized by opium,
   perfumes and continental infamy;
Hormones heed no sovereignties,
   courtesans ply internationally.
But now the compass of geography is aggrieved
   with the apparatus of colonial conquest;
Contending nations, murderous statesmen
   machinate the pestilence only seas of blood arrest.
Thus Mata Hari, flitting to and fro,
   from Switzerland, Paris, Berlin,
et cetera, found herself increasingly
   in offices athwart some tedious captain.
Passport stamps more frequently became
   bureaucratic currency requisite;
That is how the serpentine intrigues of war
   cast into motion the involvement of our heroine maumet.

Cruel though it is, ‘tis true
   time moves at different tempos for each sex;
Men’s fortunes gain with age while women’s wane
   thus pheromones lose their puissance to hex.
‘Tho Mata Hari could always love a man
   (as long as he was someone new)
she finally found one unsusceptible to her
   narcotic charms — French counter-espionage agent George Ladoux.
Her mission was the vendible seduction
   of German high command Moritz von Bissing;
But, missing aim, she compromised with a middling Major Kalle
   who grew suspicious of the queries which accompanied her kissing;
Wherewith code name H21 was publicized a double spy
   condemned by both warring sides, femineity to no avail.
What tragedy, for only then
   the courtesan did find true love;
A Russian captain, twenty years her junior,
   would have wedded her save crimes convicted of.[5]
And so, imprisoned in Saint-Lazare, 
   her trial contrived, defense a fraud,
did Mata Hari face, blowing kisses at her captors, true, 
   the firing squad.
Here is where we quell this tale
   with admonitions quashing cheer;
No one loves a Ferris-Wheel
    in dark December drear.

[1] A composition of plaster and fibrous material used for a temporary finish and in ornamental work, as on exposition buildings.

[2] Romeo and Juliet, 2:3.
[3] Fahreda Mazar Spyropoulos, professionally known as Little Egypt, popularized the belly dance at the “Streets of Cairo” attraction, held at the 1893 Columbian Exposition Midway in Chicago.
[4] Émile Guimet, a millionaire industrialist from Lyon, was commissioned by the French Minister of Public Instruction to study the religions of the Far East and with ample colonial spoils to his credit, founded the Musée Guimet in 1879.

[5] Vladimir Masloff, under duress of military discretion, publically repudiated his relationship with Mata Hari during her incarceration.

Carnival Pigeons

Come along and revel, I’ve got a tale for you;
(Excuse the carny humor; what can a tent mouse do?);
A sentimental story, fit for kids and grown-ups too;
I’ll ringmaster this lyric (and, for now, louche rhymes eschew).

You may think pigeons are all alike —
and you’d be wrong. A rube, in fact.
Louie is my handle and I’ll tell you off the cuff
location sets the destiny —
there’s creeds and breeds and sects; indeed,
classes. Me, I’m from the roughest town
and I’m the crown of the riff-raff.
I take no guff, I’m puffed and loud,
I’ll peck and gouge. (This here eye-patch?
You mind that I prevailed that flap.)
I assume the center perch in gothic spires
where I reside. I eat first and I sleep higher.
Quasimodo Corners is my alma mater
and gargoyles are my gauche ancestors.
I’ve sat on saints, I’ve crapped on kings,
I’ve commerced in convents and jails.
I’m the hoi polloi,
I ain’t your pretty boy.

Louie rules the rooftops like a kingpin, that is true;
A scrapper, a truant, an author of hullabaloo;
Your food, your nest, your mate — adieu!;
He’ll strut on your beak and then coo when he’s through.

What do I spy, from my one plaguy eye?;
A situation has come into view.
A traveling circus has rolled into town.
Oh, might this be rich! May not this be loot?
There’s whistles and bells and hot blinking lights
and popcorn aroma which fires my flight.
There’s banners and gears and ramshackley tents,
calliope noise and peanut brittle segments.
Damn! I love this country!
I hit the jackpot, the vittles are grand,
I better chow now; this secret won’t last.
But, waitaminute, pal — I smell something else.
Oh, yes. Ring-a-ding-ding. Soft focus, maestro.
A ravishing femme, with powdery plumes,
the fluffiest tail, the dreamiest wings.
This is a goddess, an avian Venus!
But, hey what the hey, she’s cooped in a jail!
What sort of crumbum imprisons a female?

My name is Francine and I’m awfully fancy,
a pedigree circus bird, avian artist,
a delicate mechanism of nature.
I ride the tightwire on a unicycle
and somersault through a hoop,
twirling midair.
Then there’s the polka with fantail
refinement, engaging in curtsies
in a spinning ballroom. It’s immensely terrific!
Carny life, wooden nickels, travel by wagon,
up past our bedtime to glitter like gypsies.
And it’s a swell life … although there are times
I look to the sky and it whispers to me.
The clouds curl and surge forming fantastic shapes
of chariots pulled by aerial dolphins
through comets that rocket with unfettered colors.
The sky is a dream, a mirage of chimera
but … then again, my dinners are here.

So here we are, my friends, acquainted with our characters;
A boy, a girl, an obstacle, the rudiments of literature;
Few themes soothe our sensibilities as the labors of young paramours;
Such impractical endeavorments define love’s fine surrender.

LOUIE (Leaping on top of Francine’s cage):
Splendiferous bird! Inimitable girl!
How could you be so cruelly boxed in a trap?
What purposes such malefactions as this
and how do I get my heartbeat next to yours? 

My! But I say! You’re a froward old rogue!
Besieging and rattling a damsel’s reserve,
audaciously preening and importuning,
I ween I have never seen such a bluff!

Calm down my dear, my intent is sincere
for here is the paladin who sets you loose!

Loose! I should say! Who’s looser than you
presuming I petition such liberties with you!






I dare say!

I love you!

I know that!

LOUIE (Grasping cage bar with his beak):
Accursed cage!

Release me now! Notarize love;
alight, alight, and clear me for flight.

LOUIE (Grappling with the cage door hook):
Grr, vexatious vault!
Capitulate this treasury
and yield me my mate!

POP! (Door swings open; they both fly up into the sky.) 

So … this is the sky
and my wings engine it;
The further I fly, the more it expands.
And you, at my side, dilate it above
any speculation I had of ‘above.’
It’s truly numinous! 
And, here, the magnet’s momentum dissolves
whilst I feel the springs of your pinions near mine.
This is abandon, my only location
is flying with you …  illimitably.
How little I knew before in my bounds,
exertions in jest, exercises of sham.
This is quite unexampled.
The unknown astounds me
as I quiet my vision
to ken that of yours.
Destination immoment,
intuition profound.

Now, where shall we dwell
and who shall we be
once we arrive? 
We are renewed,
creatures of 
fused design.
Where do I love you,
my intrepid partner?
Where ever we land
we double our lives. 

Ending this lay, I’ll just have to say 
our protagonists twice made a circle of earth; 
Exchanging a glance and vanishing hence, 
they multiplied futures with uncontrite mirth.

Craig Kurtz lives at Twin Oaks Intentional Community where he writes poetry while simultaneously handcrafting hammocks. Recent work has appeared in Outburst, Regime, Indigo Rising, Harlequin Creature, Otoliths, Randomly Accessed Poetics and Reckless Writing. Music work featured at FishFood & LavaJuice.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Jennifer Lagier- Three Poems & Photos

Lover’s Point Dream House
A cluster of Spanish adobes
march downhill toward
concrete jetty, protected beach,
children’s wading pool, ocean.
One nonconformist cottage flaunts
pink stucco walls, purple porch,
a gold and turquoise front door.
Scarlet bougainvillea climbs
the lavender chimney.
Stained glass transom depicts
a needle beaked, crimson hummingbird
framed by mauve wisteria spill,
wings spread, caught in mid-flight.
Turn-of-the-century, Pacific Grove
Methodist summer camp denizens
would most likely have been offended
by the blatantly psychedelic color scheme.
While they mutter from their graves,
this eye-catching home with its
playful hues and public whimsy
make every passerby smile.

Primrose Cottage
Beyond the white gate arch and picket fence,
eggs fry sunny side up; bacon strips sizzle.
Blueberry pancakes brown on the griddle.
June Cleaver bustles; Ozzie peruses the paper.
She wears low heels, a starched shirt dress,
frilly bibbed apron, hair combed, makeup perfect.
Perky Debbie Reynolds warbles “Good morning”
from a vintage radio station. They live in a time warp,
untouched by troubles of unfortunate strangers.

Fog Bank
This is the art of stealth; exhalations of dolphins
rise like ghosts between rocking wave sets.
Reek collects upon damp granite boulders.
Mist cascades down mountain ridge, pools
above dunes, nearby dripping meadow.
Gauze packing insulates colorless morning.
Relentless white rolls ashore, erases cypress,
dispirited harbor seals, low-cruising sea gulls.

Jennifer Lagier wanders the Pacific coastline each day in search of inspiration, images, snakes.

Pijush Kanti Deb- A Poem

 A paradise

My keen longing for a paradise
maybe, a dream or a pet always
but the sky alone is incapable and helpless
to germinate even a tiny flower plant.
A paradise- a luminous and tumultuous garden,
full of blissful flowers and feathery singers-
exhibiting the colours and beauties of fresh life –
and singing the triumph of life as the best.
Paradise – assumed already as a belonging
of life-less heaven- a world of fantasy
but well appreciated and valued
only in the real world of blood and sweat,
well co-operated by open hands and hearts,
germinated on no-where other than the land-
Nurtured, enjoyed and glorified by the mortals
adding the sky to the land---fantasy to the reality
for a spontaneous intercourse -quite significant
for blooming a life in the paradise
and a sweet smile on the thirsty lips
as a consolation- bestowed upon by mother-nature
against the pains and strains of tough reality.

B.Z. Niditch- Two Poems


At my poetry reading
a blue Bird is watching

under a lambent sun
I'm eating strawberries
on Cape Ann
where you gaze
by sails waking the light
at the last high tide
before you chose to be
exiled as an expatriate
to England,
your "Mother Country"
like Henry James,
but you too were formal
only to art
with words to make alive
and to play immaculately
with a vagary and sensibility
unlike your country's literati
as you sit on a bench
by Plum Island winds
long enough to hear
the sea going voices
by the whiplash 
of the waves
in your wing beat of a soul
in your transfigure strings
to change an epoch
with episodic breath
away from all your
crumbled demons
of a knotted
immediate green
in a harbinger of survival.


That May locked you out
in a pinned depression
as you left Cambridge
and us for a season
for fine rainy Brazil
yet there was peace in
your silence, half heard
when you were asked
in a full auditorium
of poetry admirers
to recite from a collection
of dark blinding verse
as I peered at the doors
at your sheltered smile
as mount the podium
and austere gray rugs
as a high wired editor
of the Crimson asks you
after your reading
during the Q and A session
if you were really
in love with Robert Lowell
and your brief answer
so appropriate
with a brush of time
in your hands
sealing your world
at unknowable isolation
as you will soon allow 
a South American
wisdom to capture you
away from personal demons
of your own loneliness
as you meet someone
who became a life partner
beyond bypassed waves
in a blue aired saltiness
signed between lines
of my book
suspecting a friendship
by a fireplace aflame
at Memorial Hall
not forgetting how
memory embraces
into the guiding sunlight
of Harvard Square
in your stoplight eyes.

Bradford Middleton- A Poem


It was the best time of our lives we said back then
In the glory days of youth
It had been the worst of time we now acknowledged
From the depths of middle-age
There are only the remnants of memory to draw on now
As too many were destroyed when the good times rolled

But I remember some of the fun we used to have
The drugs, the girls and the rock’n’roll
But I also I remember the true horror of it all
The night the police raided to postpone our fun
We could have also done without all the overdoses
But it is one of the risks of pushing it too far

The music was loud and bludgeoning
But coupling it with the drugs it kept us
Uptight on a Saturday night in Angel town
At the end of the old millennium
But we seemed to love it when wired up
And it kept us dancing to the thud-thud-thud

It had been the best of time
It had been the worst of time

Wayne Russell- Three Poems

the mad ones 

oh give me the mad
any day over the sane
give me 
the drunks 
the wanderers 
the reckless recluses
the homeless vagabonds 
the thieves of the night
the wreckers of cardboard boxes 
in the virgin dawn
the catchers of beer buzzes at 9 a.m.
to combat last nights hangover. 
give me the stars 
not painted by the normalcy 
of the great 
"I am".
give me the belly laughs of lunacy
found inside the roadside juke joints 
that my father used to reside in 
night after night after night
not the pseudo throaty chuckles 
that you may find in business seminars
after the stalest of jokes. 

freeing the caged bird 

the music pulsates without 
bondage seeping in to my heart 
slowly tying the noose of 
cryptic metaphor  
and killing my soul 
it shatters like a wave upon a stony shore 
plummeting to the floor 
it scatters into a million pieces 
the music still doesn't care 
it blares methodologically
from computer speakers  
the blood still slides across white tiled floor 
frozen thought 
seizing the moment of exile 
death can't be that far away now 
oh but 
can it really free this bird
far to long? 

Passing Through Andorra

The ghost of the past 
swim through branches 
naked and reaching.
Fog swirls like a horrid 
dream never ending 
painting a ghastly 
tapestry. An ominous 
sun fades from view
it seems to be playing 
gorilla war fare within 
thin veiled clouds of both
luminous and treacherous
meanderings. Emotions stirred 
so richly cloaked in the 
brilliance and indifference of
dancing infusions. The innocence of
shadows at play upon a lake beneath 
that mirrors the soul of silent splendor.

Her eyes awoke in the morn and wept 
paralyzed by the dawn.  


Wayne is many things a singer, a poet, a believer, a wanderer and a vagabond soul. He started writing poetry as a child to help combat an unhappy upbringing.

Wayne has been published about forty five times over the years in such literature anthologies and magazines such as Quill Books, Fat City Review, Harbinger Asylum, Greek Literary Review, and Far Off Places.