Saturday, February 28, 2015

Robert Lavett Smith- A Poem


Increasingly, these past few years,
I have seen my father’s face
in the bathroom mirror:
in my thinning hair, my beard
dimmed to the color of dust.
My gaze, blue as cold weather,
has begun to shine with
something I can’t quite name,
a yearning I seem to recognize.
But now that he’s gone,
the worn out limbs
glowing at last like the matchsticks
they had come to resemble,
the brain, a spent vessel finally unable
to hold his cluttered memories,
reduced by the gas jets
to a smoldering puddle
and eventually evaporated,
I see in my matinal reflection
traces of the flames that claimed him,
the glint in my eyes no longer
hope but the beginnings
of a conflagration, as though
the spark of his death had lit a fuse
somewhere deep within me.
Someday perhaps I will be
cremated as well, my ashes
mingled with those of my late wife,
scattered on the winds above the Golden Gate.
But however distant that day,
I sense the combustion
has already begun,
merciless and inexorable.
It’s coming for me,
biding its time inside me,
and even my aftershave
cannot quite disguise
a hint of burning flesh.

Son of the noted ichthyologist C. Lavett Smith, 1927-2015, Robert Lavett Smith was raised in New Jersey, and has lived since 1987 in San Francisco, where for the past sixteen years he has worked as a Special Education Paraprofessional. He has studied with Charles Simic and the late Galway Kinnell. He is the author of several chapbooks and three full-length poetry collections, the most recent of which is The Widower Considers Candles (Full Court Press, 2014).Two poems from this newest book have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Pijush Kanti Deb- Three Poems

Hands and Their Committed Mistakes 
Hands and their committed mistakes
bear unknowingly a mirror
reflecting an image –
dark or luminous,
drawn by their mesmerizing power
on the canvas of the watchful eyes.
An ugly hand and its uglier image
assume the ugliest definition
of its micro  mistake as macro one
from the witnessing eyes
along with a bonus of scolding
from the babbling tongue
before these are sent back to restart.
A handsome hand and its beautiful mistake
ensnare the judging eyes
reflecting its luminous image
and win an affectionate definition
of its horrible mistake
as an innocuous mistake-
a simple slip of hand
though it pours hemlock into nectar.
The Law Of Compulsion
Standing of hair up-
an uprising form of hair style,
contemporary to the modern thoughts
and a proof too
to the law of compulsion
expressing one’s inability
to make neither head nor tail of the next
in its abundance or scarcity;
representing a shock
compelling a body to sit down
on the heap of unanswered queries
without putting two and two together
except frightening the hairs to stand up;
and thus verifying the law
exhibiting the inverse relationship
between a compelled body and its hairs
living in this plutonium age
allowing no tongue to rundown
the standing fate of hairs-
accepted and nurtured in the name of style
hiding stylishly the side effect
of diplomatic modernity and its dogmatic compulsion.

A Red-Letter Day
Time and again
extinguishing the sparking questions
left by me behind my every careless steps,
she is careful to save the face of a paradise
built in her heart for my heart
and wakeful to guard the blossoms-
bloomed all around in all colors.
Is she an angel or a true lover
or both of these?
A big question to me to find out the answer
from her staying hand and glove with me,
hand in hand in every walk or race of my life,
giving open ear to my babbling-
hard and fast or brand new
in cold blood
blooming a sweet flower on her lips,
making the dust in her dreamy eyes
thrown by my imp
non-sticky and non-irritating to her dream-
projecting an image of our intense intimacy,
ensnaring the escaping clouds
to float only in her sky
for raining cats and dogs
on me, the God and the Devil
making all cool and enchanted
to fight in combination against the dark sun-rise
which may bring about a rainy day one day
in her collocated married life-
wedding with me on a day ten years back
might be a red-letter day of my blessed life .
 Pijush Kanti Deb is a new Indian poet with more than 225 published or accepted poems and haiku in more than 68 nos of national and international magazines and journals, [print and online] like Down in the dirt, Tajmahal Review, Pennine Ink, Hollow Publishing, Creativica Magazine, Muse India, Teeth Dream Magazine, Hermes Poetry Journal, Madusa’s Kitchen, Grey Borders, Dead Snakes, Dagda Publishing and so on. His best achievement so far is the publication of his first poetry collection,’’Beneath The Shadow Of A White Pigeon’’published by Hollow Publishing is available on AMAZON visiting the link,

Friday, February 27, 2015

John Swain- Three Poems

The River Sang

The moon in urn
between your breasts
hangs a casting amulet.
I seized for breath
when I threw myself
into the pool
of blue snow melt
on the mountain
in the darkness
of a silent brown owl.
The sky is patient
with the grief of leaving
the whole we destroy.
The river of fish
sang with one voice,
I heard you speak
painting the trees
until we wake in the grace
of a cloud fire.
A white deer sprang
from the jawbone
in my hand
then disappeared
into clear water.

The Turning Hawk

With lightning in my eyes
I watched the turning red hawk turn white
against the winter trees.
The sleeping earth wakes in crystal lines
as the river shatters ice
moving to flood the oak bottomland forest.
My chapped lips groaned to hold the sun
in a maiden song dawn
until the passing hours took its antler shine.
Deep in the snow like a sky of nix roses,
I remained in the blinding white, drowned
with a brook horse riding.
Then the mirror fields flow 
into a grey palace for our desired privacies,
the ring of your world floats like a candle.

Sycamore Field

In the center of a field
one sycamore spread
from her breasts
under the curved horn
of white branches
toward the darkness
of the horizon forest,
the seer is a woman.
I crossed the depth
of untouched snow
for the owl in the well
of this tree’s mouth,
the clipping winds
filled with glass
to speak the meaning
of the hollow within.
In the winter evening,
she lives her body
under tarot blue robes
for a fire
burning our histories
in a cleansing incense
to the seekers
of her unending heart.

John Swain lives in Louisville, Kentucky. Red Paint Hill published his first collection, Ring the Sycamore Sky.

Richard Schnap- A Poem


I see a grey ship
Blown by a bent wind
Over a poison sea

Under stars that weep
As they watch it fade
Toward a barren shore

Buried in shadows
That slowly open
Like a door that lies

At the end of a corridor
From which there can be
No returning

But high on its mast
Sits a silent bird
Beneath the darkening sky

As if it’s a guide
To find the last path
Beyond the edge of sight

Adreyo Sen- A Poem

The Muse

Does anyone ever know
a woman who is in repose?

Sitting, still, she could be
the delight of her graceful ease,
or the stern belief
in her rigid silences.

Standing on the touching slenderness of her feet
she may call the poet who resides in us
to admiring comparisons to an ageless
elm tree.  
But still be in the quiet arrest of her beauty,
a complete mystery.

In vain we read the elegance in her dress.
Vainer still are we 
in reading poetry in the wind's playfulness
with her hair.

Perhaps we know her only
when the faint melancholy of her lips
suggests the sweetness of a smile - 
a smile that perhaps is
the metaphor of her story,
or the first faint music
of a future she hopes to write.

Joseph Donnelly- A Poem

Creepy City trees
A tree touches me at night
Creepy shadows embrace my body
I shiver
Wanting to let go but he has too many arms
Pulling me in near the trunk
Showing me its bark
All moldy and grey
I’m too scared to tell the grounds keeper
Worried he will get chopped down
Made into fire wood
burned for everyone to see
The shadows hide other victims
They leap in and out of the darkness
Confident in a cowardly ways
Watching me struggle not to become them
In the day time I only see branches with blue birds
Singing sweet songs and making sounds of Spring
Last night’s thunder storm falls from their appendages
Making the ground too wet to walk on
People pass by and smile
Temporary daytime visitors
The ones who will never understand
Why the leaves fall to their own death

Ayaz Daryl Nielsen- Three Poems

two-fisted drinker
let me buy you 
the cab fare home

white moonlight
the color of her
late night prayer

no matter my words
this rock
isn’t interested

ayaz daryl nielsen, x-roughneck (as on oil rigs)/hospice nurse, editor of bear creek haiku (25+ years/125+ issues), homes for poems include Lilliput Review, SCIFAIKUEST, Shemom, Shamrock, Kind of a Hurricane, and! online at: bear creek haiku  poetry, poems and info

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Arif Ahmad- A Poem

Barack Hussein Obama

A person of color and you find the going a little rough
Feel a lot coming at you, some say tough luck

Now imagine you hold the top office in the world and that you are black

Welcome to the world of a man they call Barack

I cannot find a better example of the state of race in 2015 America than this one person

A man of color called unpatriotic, communist, liar, shown a finger in his face, that he was never a born American

Not to mention the new curse word, Muslim

If on the receiving end of all this is the President of the United States, what are the odds stacked against a child of color standing at a street corner

Yes when it comes to race in America we have come a long way and yet have some distance left to cover

Still the story here is not what has been hurled at him for the color of his skin

The story is his response or lack of to all this

The real story is of inspiration in the mold of Ali, King, and Mandela

That history would add another name to this distinguished list

That of Barack Hussein Obama

For carrying his color and poise the way he did

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Stefanie Bennett- A Poem

WEN & THE RED CANDLE ...Wen I-to, Executed in 1946    
Putting on my flag-ship colours,
My work boots, my worn gloves,
I go out to greet you, dark visitor.
You went by the way of the Western-bank.
You will rise, in that same place – this time
Carrying the whole of China with you.
Brother poet, the chronicles have been
Reshuffled: thankfully
Your works are no longer set alight.
No! I do not wish to cause discomfort, but
The news I bring is... desolate.
Millions now join you in exile.
Confidentially, there are no safe crossings;
And reason drifts with the river-wind.
We must turn again from the T’ ie-an-men.
All is circumspect, my dark visitor.
The garrisons of greed are treacherous and
Conduct slavery quite openly. The globe –,
The globe of precious change has shrunk
Ten thousand times since
You blessed it with your tears.
As you prophesised, the ‘dead water’ has risen.
Peking’s paper-ghosts are the same
As their Western counterparts.
You said... ‘build a bridge! ...cross over’ !
Instead, they built a star-ship to heaven
                    - A red sun so bright
None can see the way back...
I go out to greet you, dark visitor –,
Your old war-cry at my throat. Our white flag
Is no surrender,
                    Just a soiled heart
Tattered by grief.
{Previously published by Flinders University’s ‘Literary Responses to Asia’}
Stefanie Bennett has published several books of poetry, a novel, and a libretto. Her poems
have also been published by VerseWrights, Galway Review, Jelly Fish Whispers, Communion,
Shot Glass Journal, Aleola Journal, Bijou Poetry Review, IS&T, The New Verse News and
others. Of mixed ancestry [Italian/Irish/Paugussett-Shawnee], she was born in Queensland,
Australia, in 1945.

Martin Willitts Jr- A Poem

Coming from a Dark County
There is no fitting of silence, no secrets
in stones huge as doors.
There is a solemn weariness to the dark.
Pieces of the world the birds cannot sing
without being shot.
Leave the forsaken behind.
Do not look back. The past is burning.
A shade is pulled where secrets hide.
Someone swings a lantern in the fields
like a single firefly.
Huge stones open like fresh dug graves.
A crow sound flushes the woods.
A sorrel tilts its head towards that disappearance,
anticipating a week of tremendous loses.
The horizon of wind has overtaken breath.
Bitterness extends to the man in the yard
until his anger takes a turn for the worse.
Martin Willitts Jr won the 2014 International Dylan Thomas Poetry Award for the centennial. He has over 20 chapbooks, and 8 full length collections including forthcoming “How to Be Silent” (FutureCycle Press), and “God Is Not Amused With What You Are Doing In Her Name” (Aldrich Press).

Denny E. Marshall- Art

                                                          Behind A Small Web

Scott Thomas Outlar- Two Poems

Cutting the Circle
Slaying the angels
one at a time
with fire, brimstone and bloodletting
then onto the archetypes
drained of all vitality
with a deathblow to collective consciousness

Leave the puddle of chaos
whimpering in defeat
with soggy tarot card enchantments

It’s out with the old and
in with the new

No cycles this time
as we march in a straight line
toward the future

Daily Bread
I will work for food.
I will work instead of food.
I will work in spite of food.
I will work because it is my food.

Scott Thomas Outlar spends the hours flowing and fluxing with the (sometimes chaotic) tide of the Tao River while laughing at and/or weeping over the existential nature of life. More of his words can be read at

Paul Tristram- Three Poems

No One’s Innocent

But the less Bad you think and do
…the more room it leaves for Wholesomeness and Goodness.

© Paul Tristram 2015

One Man’s Pie Is Another Man’s Pasty

I used to watch him sitting on the end stool
of the bar where the payphone lives.
(Just in case she called, she’d left 15 years ago
and had since been remarried twice!)
With his poachers flat cap, greasy from use,
old tweed suit-not quite in his size-
and a different walking stick every week or so.
On account of him breaking them on the wall
on his stagger home from the pub
whilst painfully screaming the name ‘Stephanie’
loudly up to the uncaring, unjust heavens.
Then the next day sober, he’d go into the woods
by the side of the stream and cut himself another one.
He would make roll-ups out of Old Holborn
using red Rizla papers, delicately, expertly,
with a craftsman finesse which was a joy to behold.
He only came into the pub during the daytime hours
of 12 noon until 4pm and he always drank Guinness
with a shot of Tia Maria right in the top of it.
Then a single neat shot of Jameson’s whisky,
drank standing up before taking his leave of us
and he would always say the very same thing
“One man’s pie is another man’s pasty!”

© Paul Tristram 2015

Augmented Anger

From schoolyard pushing and pulling
through adolescent street corner
gang scuffling and scrapping.
Up that inevitable crooked ladder to
football hooliganism and barroom brawling.
We followed his violent trail right onto
bloody murder, destruction and carnage.
He ruined many lives along the way
without a single care or thought,
and his very own with unchecked temper.
Now he sits mournfully alone
in a life-sentenced prison cell
his life completely robbed of all reason.
Only vaguely beginning to comprehend
that he, himself is the thief responsible.
Guilt and Shame and Self-Pity
are terrible, torturous shackles
which need strength of mind and character
not brawn to sensibly escape from.
You can poke a bull with a sharp stick
but it’s the bull’s own fault
if its still smashing into steamrollers
in 30 odd years time because of it,
then deserving nobody’s understanding.
The next time you want to point fingers
of blame and accusation to justify
your selfish acts of violence,
Have the decency to stand in front of a mirror
first and punch the disgusting face you see there.

© Paul Tristram 2015

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! 


Ally Malinenko- Three Poems

10 Years Later

In the restaurant that evening
after spending the morning
my new cancer doctor
with her heavy accent
and her assurance that
everything would be fine
even after
I started to cry

In the restaurant that evening
I picked up a glass of wine
and thought about the champagne
we had ten years earlier
just hours after
the reverend had us join hands
and promise
in sickness
and in health

In the restaurant I held that glass high
and clinked yours and
looked you in the eye
and said

“Here’s to our worse”

Allyson Stop It

I’ve graduated from just the regular mammo
to a sonogram because the doctor isn’t sure
and it’s been six months since the cancer diagnosis
and not being sure isn’t an option

as I lay back on this table
with the low lights
and they spread the cold jelly across my
other breast
the healthy one
the one that I pray hasn’t also gone bad on me

because I only finished radiation six weeks ago
and I’m going to be on drugs for the rest of my life
my ovaries shut down
and I can’t help but think of a dark empty room

as she starts running the wand over me,
and the clicking and clicking
in the same spot
which is just what happened last June
when that hurricane appeared inside me

and I feel it right there,
the stairs that I started descending back in June
go in only one direction and it is down
and they will never stop
and I squeeze my eyes shut and try to think
about anything but diseased cells
and how this is starting all over again
my life stuck on this endless cycle
that will spiral down to an early death

before the nurse says
you need to calm down
I can’t do this unless you stop,
do you hear me,
Allyson you need to calm down,

Allyson stop it. Stop crying.

 And Yet

there are still moments like this
where I am utterly still
and I can feel my hands moving in sync
with my mind
the way they were supposed to move.
Not like lighting followed by thunder.
Not separate.
Not like double vision,
a drunk missing the keyhole
the way I feel like my body
is no longer mine
but instead
the enemy
but not today
as I lift
the ice cream cone
you bought me
to my lips
and all of Manhattan
raises in one voice to
sing your praise, my love.

Donal Mahoney- Three Poems

A Low Voice and a Nice Walk

Gramps by the fire
in his rocker hunched over
is rolling his smoke with care

when Tom, his grandson, asks,
“What’s the most important thing
to look for in a wife?

Gramps stares into the fire intently
then finally says, “You want a wife
with a low voice and a nice walk,

a low voice because later in life
your ears give out but her odd jobs 
become more numerous 

and a nice walk because you want to
let her go first forever and make
all that extra work worthwhile.

No Paper This Morning

Most days the newspaper hits
the lawn by four in the morning
but it's six already and I don't see it. 

I'll have to pull on my pants 
and go out to see if it's hiding 
in my wife's flowers and bushes.

She keeps adding more plants
to the jungle she's created out there 
with parrots and macaws on the way.

But instead of going out  
I tell her it's a nice morning 
and suggest she check on her roses. 

In this heat, they may need water.
And while she's out there I suggest
she scan the garden for the paper 

in case it's held hostage by the foliage
After coffee she sails out the door
and returns with no paper but brings 

an armful of roses, a bouquet 
I welcome more than the poison ivy 
I find every day in the paper.

Two Funerals in One Day

The alarm clock screams at 5 a.m.
and I get up to attend a funeral
50 miles away, a long drive back
to a corner of Chicago once rife
with corned beef and cabbage but
redolent today with salsa and tequila.

I head for the bathroom to shower
and brush my teeth but when
I turn the light on, I see a long 
mahogany bug, species unknown, 
glistening and motionless
on the cap of my toothpaste.

As a former caseworker in the projects
and someone with a gardener for a wife,
I have seen a variety of bugs, urban 
and agrarian, and if they behave,
I normally don't bother them,
except for mosquitoes 

that land and happen to like me. 
So I tell this bug on the toothpaste cap
that I have a funeral to attend today
and it's 50 miles away so please, 
be a good bug and move on.
Of course he doesn't move.

Instead, he twirls his antennae
and rubs his pincers together.
Finally, he says somberly 
"Can you get this cap off? 
I've been trying all night.
I hear this stuff tastes good."

As I would do later that day
for my old friend at his funeral,
I say a prayer for the bug
and send him on his way, 
a burial at sea, if you will,
down, down, down he goes

to the hymn of a flushing toilet. 
I can still hear his last words:
"My wife had octuplets.
They're under your bathtub.
Tell them I said good-bye.
And have a nice day!"

Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

Robert Lavett Smith- A Poem


My father’s ashes came from the mortuary
in a black velvet box my mother
promptly hid from view in a closet.
They’re all that she has of him now,
after his ordeal by fire and grinding:
a thin gray dust as delicate as smoke.
The housekeeper responsible for her hallway
at the retirement community made a point
of mentioning she wouldn’t be disturbed
by the knowledge they were there.
Many apartments she cleans, she informed
my mother, accommodate the cremated
remains of the residents’ loved ones.
It wouldn’t be a problem, she insisted,
absolutely no problem at all.

Son of the noted ichthyologist C. Lavett Smith, 1927-2015, Robert Lavett Smith was raised in New Jersey, and has lived since 1987 in San Francisco, where for the past sixteen years he has worked as a Special Education Paraprofessional. He has studied with Charles Simic and the late Galway Kinnell. He is the author of several chapbooks and three full-length poetry collections, the most recent of which is The Widower Considers Candles (Full Court Press, 2014). Two poems from this newest book have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Rose Mary Boehm- Mungo (16-22)


Procrastination used to be Mungo’s great motivator.
He would always tap into it and rely on it as an unfailing source
for tomorrow’s creative plans. So nothing can be more inconvenient
than to learn of the immediate end of the world. Forces him to prepare
for the absence of himself and all his good ideas, especially
the ones he had always for tomorrow. Mungo finds
that tying up loose ends is exceedingly time consuming.

From a German aunt, Mungo inherited
a bag full of prepositions. Hinter, vor,
oben, unten, neben, zwischen, gegen, von
After much soul-searching, Mungo decided
against donating them to the library.
Where they would be of service, he concluded,
would be at the shelter for abandoned poets.

Mungo has learned to play the Richter scale.
The effects on his audience are immediate and
work every time. As soon as the crescendos
fill the concert hall, men in tuxedos
and women in evening gowns shriek
and begin to scramble over seats and each other
to reach the exit. Mungo is not a little dismayed
but calms himself like any other man
by using the fault line for a little fishing.

Mungo learned from Gran that time must not be wasted,
lost or killed. He therefore keeps an eye on it and puts both
on the mantel, making sure that not one second remains
unused and not a single minute gets left behind
in dark corners where no-one will ever find it again.
When Mungo finally goes to sleep at the end of a busy day,
he ties time tightly to his left toe to be alerted to its escape
should such be intended. He uses a hangman's knot.

Mungo suffers from insomnia, sadness and wet pillows.
He doesn’t need a psychiatrist to know what
is overwhelmingly obvious: no texts are coming in
on his new smartphone. He soon finds the internet
folks who spread good will, especially around the festive
season, and subscribes to their daily service. They send
him messages around the clock full of kind thoughts.
Mungo now sleeps every night with a beatific smile.

Mungo decides to have his horoscope prepared
by Alicia Arcadia, astrologer of local fame. Much aggrieved
by its content, he thinks about a way to make up for
its unacceptable predictions by acquiring a better one. One night,
just before dawn, Mungo raids Miss Arcadia’s filing cabinet
and finds one he likes, keeping it henceforth
in his personal strongbox. Mungo can’t tell by the stars
whether his ruse has worked, but Miss Arcadia has taken on
a position as housekeeper for the archdiocese.

Mungo states the obvious
and hangs it over the mantelpiece.
Pilgrims come from afar to behold
the evidence of indisputable truths
which they all interpret
in their own way and soon come to blows.
Mungo repents his action and moves
the work to a Swiss bank deposit box.

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), was semi-finalist in the Naugatuck poetry contest 2012/13 and has been a finalist in several GR contests, winning it in October 2014.

Robin C. Pinkman- A Poem

Drives one into
 the earth like
 thirst, inertia,
 you can re-
 your head,
 your hands,
 all of you
 into the an-
 cient well for
 the filthiest of

   Portland 15

Manny Yon- A Poem

The Little Damages and Remember

You are inherently Sundarbans
canoe rental, flashing stripes.
If it were ever about the
dragging, you'd opine. And
the tracks that remain can't
hear the weakened decry from
the marsh. I didn't notice

what you'd think. It wasn't
the stabbing pressure at
the base of my skull, as
much as it was the scraping
of mangrove roots across
the tops of my feet when we
exited the murk. Wasn't it?
The little damages
                        and remember.

Bio: Manny Yon is a poet from the Southern U.S. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Daniel Wilcox- Three Poems

The Modern Covenant

Bad rituals
Lost religion
Of disengaged couples
Uncoupling on
Rail lines that never join
Not a traveling union
Scabbed and only
Repeating ing ing
Copping a plea
The feeling of deeply
Not populating
Only copulating
Urinal leavings
Not the spurt of life
Too precious in the growing
Not passion
But passive lust
Over and over
Lost rituals
Destructive routes
Routing ing ing
Through the ‘mine’ field
Worn to the ‘marrow’
Rigor mortis

Reprint: First published in The Cerebral Catalyst
April 2008

Iraqi Temples

A masked gunman in black stands
On a smoky street corner in Mosul.

Palms rear up, in the background,
With green branches like hands to Allah.

His left rubber sandal hangs ripped,
Red spots dribbled on the blue plastic;

One hooded jihadist—the signet of the guttered streets
Of 23 armies ruling the smudged smog of 33 million.

The Euphrates and Tigris rivers steel with sheen
Like the blades of historic scissors—Closing…

The threat of the cutting,
The bleeding of a people.

A Kalashnikov rifle fingered in his raised hands;
On the ground prone, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

Most of the streets lay as desert; it's Friday the day of worship,
God is Great! blares in triumph from the minarets;

A wretched Toyota, bombed, metal--wrenched and contorted
'Lies' in front of him, its bodies, idols of the fly;

It's Ramadan, the month of ultimate submission to Allah,
And the Islamic State Caliphate fasts from sweets and melted cheese

And roams the streets, masked, hungering for infidels and Shia,
But far back down a scarred, sharia-strewn alley

Behind the modern, sacred mosque, blindfolded bodies
Lay prone in endless prayer, red circles in their temples.

Reprint: First published in different form
in The November 3rd Club
Spring 2007

On Visiting Hemingway’s Mansion

Next to the mansion Pauline’s money bought
Where Hemingway wrote
Timeless stories
Of skill
And luck
And Nothing…

Next to this blocked hard beauty
Of coral rock,
Survivor of hurricanes
Their dissolute lives
Of lust and liquor
And divorce…

Next to the survivors, the 54 cats
Including the 6-toed ones
And a 150-year-old Banyan tree…

Stand the Key West lighthouse and the mortuary.

Light and death…
Suicide at 61
Hemingway spoke of writing one true sentence.
Why not live one true life?

Reprint: First published in The Rogue Poetry Review
Winter 2007

Brief Bio: Daniel's wandering lines have appeared in many magazines in the United States, Canada, and overseas including Word Riot, Centrifugal Eye, Write Room, Static Movement, Camel Saloon, Fish Food, Poetry Pacific, Counterexample Poetics, and Unlikely Stories IV.

Before that Daniel hiked through the University of Nebraska, Cal State University, Long Beach (Creative Writing), Montana, Pennsylvania, Europe, Arizona, and Palestine/Israel. He now lives on the central coast of California with his quilting wife.

John Swain- A Poem

The Snow Moon
for William Taylor, Jr. 

Moon night in the white snow,
snow moon of the field forever
caught with barbs
where the hill splintered
into running deer.
I followed the dug trails
to an opening in the black creek
flowing downward
from the moon’s intimacy
for the hungry coyotes to scour.
Wine like a cut on my tongue,
this color of sustenance
paler than the boulders
a poet rolled to build his tower
on the shore of California. 
I claimed nothing
beyond a glimpse of a shadow
of this midnight with the snow
on my hands red as blood.

John Swain lives in Louisville, Kentucky. Red Paint Hill published his first collection, Ring the Sycamore Sky.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Melanie Browne- A Poem

The middleweight

one of them weighs a little less
he is shorter and so is his arm length
but he still remains,
the announcer says "uppercut" a lot,
now his nose is bleeding,
the announcer says he shouldn't
try to blow the blood from his nose,
boxing is fascinating
exotic like an albino tiger
or a stink flower
but the blood-
the blood is real
I love the drama
of the pep talk
they speak in a foreign
language but it means 
the same things,
don't give up
just one more round
the tissue is sticking
out of their nose
the redness on their brows
the towel around
their neck
they are patted and stroked
ice is merely symbolic
and serving no purpose
they are ready to rumble
ready to tremble
or pounce

Neil Ellman- Three Poems

Sounds at Night
(after the painting by Adolph Gottlieb)

With a black cat’s shape
in a black cat’s night
it can still be felt
a spider crawling
on the skin
a shadow
passing through the walls
its wake
barely perceptible
like the pull of stars
but it can still be heard
scratching on the air
soft words
whispered in my ear
as if it were alive.


(after the painting by Joan Mitchell)

Not of a place or time
nor with the hard wood of reality
there are trees that grow
anywhere they wish
on barren, idle ground
and in consecrated stands
a consequence of mind
they can take any shape
have any color they will—
blue elms like soldiers in a row
against an obdurate sky;
red and yellow ash
fleeling from the wind;
some soft, leafless, reaching
for the sun;
others stiff, gray and resolute
like statues carved in stone—
there are trees that take
impossible shapes
and some of them are real.

Two Reasons Birds Sing

(after the screenprint by Robert Rauschenberg)

If for no other reasons
birds sing because they can
and must.
It is not as if they have a choice
to roar, grunt, maw, neigh
pant-hoot and bray
at the moon like mules;
or like machines, grind
hum, bubble, kreen and whir
and chugga chugga chug
to their potential mates.

All they can do is sing    
churree churree churee
tsweet tsweet tsweet
po-heet and cuckoo
every hour on the hour
of every day
as if they were a clock.

And they sing, of course,
because they must
for reasons of their own.

Neil Ellman, a poet from New Jersey, has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net and the Rhysling Award.  Close to 1000 of his poems, many of which are ekphrastic and written in response to works of modern and contemporary art, appear in print and online journal, anthologies and chapbooks throughout the world. 

Donal Mahoney- Three Poems

Answer Now

I was just a boy  
but I remember Hitler
at the start

and how too few 
understood his plan to
do away with Jews.

I’m a codger now
certain that too few  
understand ISIS 

so let the word go forth
for all with eyes to see
and ears to hear:

We have another genocide,
this one more inclusive.  
We must answer now

or else Christians, Jews 
and Muslims too will keep 
dying in the sand.

The Skinny on Fatty's Cafe

Here's the skinny on Fatty's Cafe,
a grubby diner on a snaky street 
under the El in dark Chicago
where street lights flicker
and the hungry descend from 
the flophouse above the store.

If you have a yen for a BLT 
and Fatty is workin' the grill,
the hungry say don't go in,
be patient and wait outside
for Fatty's brother, Skinny,
to wield the spatula.

Skinny has a way with BLTs,
piling bacon and tomato high 
on a triple decker, with a hint
of lettuce and a swipe of mayo 
on all three slices of bread.
No extra charge to toast it
when Skinny's workin' the grill.

Ignore the rain, sleet or snow  
and wait outside with the hungry 
till Skinny starts flippin' the bacon
He takes over at midnight when 
Fatty flops into his Lincoln 
and heads for his castle.
Then Skinny lays out the bacon
and the hungry outside march in.

Income Equality

Wilbur’s always lived 
in the navel of society,
lost in the lint
of the middle class.

His parents lived there too.
So will his children if they
fail to win the lottery.
Not a problem for Wilbur.

From his navel he can
see the poor sweat 
at jobs they died for.
When he looks up 

he can see the rich bet 
on stocks and then relax 
with wine and caviar.
That's the way the world works.

Wilbur's father told him
it’s always been that way
and always will be.
And like his father 

Wilbur knows the world 
will always have its Castros 
wanting to parcel out 
what Donald Trump has.

No wonder, Wilbur says.
Income equality can’t reign
until the world ends or 
pygmies play in the NBA. 

Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.