Number 2

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American Dust

by Geordie de Boer

Then there were the wars, dragging on
like a trek across a bomb-blasted landscape
with no water at hand. You think you see an end,
but hope recedes as you approach just as if
you were pursuing the mirage of contentment.

 

On the news tonight were pictures
of burned out tanks, autos, assorted armaments.
The rubble of bombed buildings
created a Braqueist background for people
picking through the twisted tin and blackened bricks.

 

You called, mad as hell over my giving out
your phone number. I’m trekking a desert of my own
and having trouble making judgments.
I may have been wrong,
I have no way of knowing.

 

Families dissipate like mirages,
dancing away in a whirl of mad colors
as if borne on a breeze. There is no wind,
just the rapid breathing of anticipation,
or dread, like the final gasps of the dying.

 

I’ve become unafraid of dust stirred up
by war or the shattering of assumed bonds.
I become alarmed instead
when there is no dust, no tangible way
to make a return.


She left me

by Harry Calhoun

The baby wren lies broken-winged

by the roadside.  You want to cry,

not just for the certain death coming

but because you are helpless

 

to do anything about it. You wait

a minute, kicking at the curb, trying

to think of something to do. Then

you slowly amble on, clinging

 

to that hopeless desperate hope

that if you just leave well enough

alone, things will get better.

But is this well enough?

 

Looking back at the bird

dying, you realize that it certainly

is alone.


The Underbelly

by Valentina Cano

 

Underneath that smile lies a sewer system.

An intricate course

of hollow lines and watery tunnels,

dark and smelling of decayed metal.

I see it open before me,

casting its shadow of dust

all around me,

sinking the chair, the table,

the vase sitting there.

Sinking them into that mire

of teeth and shiny lips.

 

I clutch at the walls with shuddering fingers

but I feel my stomach drop

like a plate a second away from smashing.

My eyes roll upwards like coin slots,

and I fall, I’m falling

splashing and tearing into that

soup of dirt and chunks of hair.

Into that smile covered with gloss.


dead center

by Joseph Farley

the cross is blank space,

the intersection

of two roads

traveling at right angle.

 

we stand there

in the center

but we are not alone

the whole world is with us

waiting to see

what comes by


Snapshot Vulture

by Richard Fein

 

Late March snow and the snowbound sparrow

is hunched tight in a nook  between sidewalk and stone wall

with ruffled feathers bedraggled in the frigid breeze

as I pace around and around like a circling vulture.

Then my shivering fingers press the camera hard against my bended knees

to keep it steady as I’m primed for that absolute moment

when the dying sparrow’s unblinking eyes truly turn unblinkingly dead.

Then its right wing, tight against its torso,

is finally released and turns stiffly upward,

like a middle finger defiant against treacherous March.

My patience is rewarded, the whole process captured in pixels,

my prey’s death ingested digital frame by digital frame.

And later perched on my computer chair,

finger eager on the mouse, eyes rapt on the monitor,

I’m sated by the slideshow sequence of a sparrow dying.

I’m like the vulture with talons gripped on a leafless branch,

it’s gut filled, piece by piece, with that carrion bird.


Normal

by Ashley Fisher

i am back in Dane Garth for help
because i am Not Well

and me mam doesn’t want to know
and she says that i am A Disgrace
and i am An Embarrassment
and i am Not Normal
and how can she be expected to cope with
such a wretched freak after all she’s Been Through.

i hope that we can get Back Together
but i know you might not want to
so can you please come to See Me sometime.

i would come to See You
but i can’t because i’m on a 28 Day Section
and they won’t let me out even to the shop,
even if i promise not to be too long
and rush all the way there and
all the way back.

They have given me tablets for my depression
and tablets for The Voices
and tablets for the side effects
of the tablets for The Voices
and they have taken the bandages off my wrists
and the doctor said that it was Sad
that they were scarred.
But The Voices say that she is lying
and that i am Pathetic
and i am Stupid
because if i wasn’t Stupid
i could be Dead

and i wouldn’t need voices to tell me what to do.

i haven’t tried to Burn Myself for three days
because i’m being Good and i am trying to be Normal

so i am hoping the doctor will let me back
into the Day Room because i am Not Dangerous anymore

i am only Poorly
and i should be allowed to have a lighter
because now i have to Ask A Nurse
if i can have a light for a cigarette
and be allowed to talk to other Poorly People
and not have someone watching me
when i eat or when i piss or when i just want to be Left Alone.

Please come and See Me sometime
because i Love You and i want to See You
and they will let you See Me
if i have been Good and Normal

and i am trying
and Claire and me mam won’t come See Me

and all i want to do is come home
and be Normal.


This Angel and That

by Ricky Garni

This angel doesn’t have breasts, and

that angel doesn’t have chest hair. 

I bet you didn’t know that all angels

weren’t girls. It’s true. Some are.

I bet you didn’t know that all angels

are fully grown. Fully grown yes

until they die. Although…

Suddenly on Earth a man named

Tim sneezes.

And an angel has chest hair. Tim

wipes his nose. It’s Sunday…

Alison has an orgasm of some sort, 

it’s a good one, actually, she feels nice,  

and an angel somewhere

grows breasts. It’s like abracadabra, 

only without a tuxedo and top hat white…

gloves or mustache and knowing that it isn’t a trick

at all, it’s a craft, like whittling tiny boats but lasts forever

like angels do but that’s not true. Did you know

that most angels die before they are born? No

Of course not. I didn’t, either.  They don’t. Why should they?

When I see them there looking out for me and they look

worried, I always change the conversation but isn’t that hard… 

It’s easy: we are already out of breath anyway.

The coachman is yelling FASTER FASTER all the time.

He’s got whips and things. How he beats. He says terrible things 

and we believe him. We are scared because he is so big and fat.

The Shepherd Has No Staff

by Kevin Heaton

 

A miscreant presence defiles

the blush of vestal virginity,

 

submitting her virtue to abuse,

and deceit. A white robe

 

without spot or wrinkle, rent,

and torn, her shame supine,

 

and splayed upon perfumed

sheets; stained scarlet by an ancient

 

profession. Remnants of Eucharist,

received on blasphemous lips,

 

digest inside green bowels of self-

proclamation. Quilled, founding

 

fingers; dipped in communion wine;

lopped from hands placed on holy

 

leather; sworn to uphold

appointments of higher calling.

 

The children of freedom abandoned;

banished to wander the wilderness,

 

led by a shepherd with no staff.


KO

by Eric G. Müller

Across the track

in the trailer park

lot 58

a voice-plagued pugilist

forgets his losses

slumped in the corner

of the stained settee

reeking of urine

near the TV

where he gropes with his fists

for one last bout 

with the bottle

round eleven

sobbing when the sitcom

takes a sentimental turn

and the laughing tracks

fly into a roar

roping him in

 

His killer left

silences the crowd

with one deft jab

of the remote

and still he parries through the channels

till he lets down his guard

to satisfy an unzipped itch

during a commercial break

leaving him shuddering

on the floor

as the night train

rings its warning bell

and sounds its

long-long-short-long whistle

thirty seconds

from the intersection

where tomorrow he’ll wait


oldyellownotebook #1

1 Comment

France

Is France getting more and more familiar with me
or has Paris been transported to another country
that even the Seine is deceiving me as a black sea?
This little black fish
 no longer bites the bait you threw in my heart
the wind has hurriedly driven north
the seaside gives no water
and the sea gives no wave
and the rain the probable rain
no longer rains down on my hair like your slender fingers
so if in Paris
or another country in Paris
you ever saw me arm in arm of another girl
don’t think I’m cheating you

Ali Abdolrezaei (translated from the Persian by Abol Froushan)
 

Accident

Paradise is passing the pavements
London has taken off its woolens
and the rain 
having forsaken us has come back
so I took my umbrella out of the boot
to reach a restaurant at grandmother’s house
which turned her car into a homing pigeon
pulled over in the midst of the highway
before having laid the table,
or laid the bed
she was into spoons and knives and multiple forks
me into eating with my hands
like an apron put on before breakfast
she mothered me 
with a condom she brought me as a gift
and after she played love with me
a lorry had run into her car
accidentally - 
no transgression or pain involved
she was screaming for no reason
I was merely putting my umbrella 
back in her boot

Ali Abdolrezaei (translated from the Persian by Abol Froushan)

Magic Lantern

Good
My mind is at ease
Now go be happy
You wanted enough money
to pull your nose up a tad
implants to raise your cheeks
and to set eyes on a house 
all of your own
now you got it
go enjoy the now of it
and have some fun
If you like we’ll go to Venice 
in the next couple o’ weeks
drop in on Madrid
purchase a v-nice lingerie from Paris
and what fun would it be - on a private plane to yap away
order what your crinkled heart might ever want
I have left a blank page too
so wish no matter what from this genie
you can ask of this magic lantern
and in the space of the next two pages if you wish
behind the house I bought you in the lines above
I’ll build a swimming pool with a sauna
Then we can get out of water like vapour
you no longer nag at me for the money I have not
shuffle me not with a thousand dog gone expletives
and let me
write my own story too.

Ali Abdolrezaei (translated from the Persian by Abol Froushan)

With the FairiesOff with the fairies” mime 
his stock response,
next thing you know
she’s wandering the streets 
the worse for wear, 
nudge – wink, 
in underclothes.
Well that’s the storyboard
they consummate.
What price the matriarch 
you call to mind: 
wallpaper, curtains, furniture 
replaced near spanking new; 
a paint brush close to hand 
and pot of brilliant white 
for touching up 
her spotless widowhood? 
The son is blunt 
with rage: “End of the day 
she doesn’t know 
my bloody name.” 
Soon she is diagnosed, 
concealed from view. 
He never visits, come 
what may. Alive 
or dead, house sold to pay
her dues, she’s with 
the fairies either way. 

Peter Branson

The Film You Deserve

Dreaming up the plots of movies,
 I cast you as private eye
 in a cozy involving friendly
 if sinister gangland-types,

an abandoned theater, a café
 owned by a blind man, a pair
 of glasses left at a table
 by a man who turned up murdered

in a bloodless but decisive way.
 You’re not amused. You’d prefer
 to play a sexual carnivore
 in some French New Wave production

from the late Fifties, the role
 Anna Karina perfected
 so naturally she learned only years
 later what havoc she’d wrought.

I lack the production company
 to generate the film you deserve
 so you’ll have to accept the plot
 I recount, the café owner

stroking your hair as you weep
 over the dead man’s glasses
 and vow to nail his killer.
 Of course the blind man did it,

and the audience spots the clues
 before you do. But since you’re blonde,
 athletic, and witty, even
 the cops forgive you for helping

the killer escape to Florida
 where after an arduous bus trip
 dear friends treat him as family.
 You can play a blonde, can’t you?

Yes, the German tanks that rumbled
 over your grandmother’s village
 featured handsome curly blond
 drivers of unspeakable cruelty;

but that’s a different movie,
 and when you play your grandmother
 you can wear your natural dark hair
 retouched a sentimental gray.

William Doreski

The City

The creature gave birth to a city.
It pulled away the caul,
leaving its offspring in the valley.
The city grew and grew,
soon there was malevolence in its streets.
The inhabitants were riotous,
unruly, fighting amongst each other.
The creature would return,
pick out the bad elements
and throw them away.
Then it would leave,
travelling to the far side of the valley.
The city grew stronger,
with villages springing up around it.
A King appeared in one of the villages,
declaring himself master over the city.
All followed him
as he travelled far and wide,
making war on other towns in other valleys.
The creature returned,
urging caution on the King and his wars.
But the King carried on,
refusing to listen.
He conquered lands upon lands,
never satisfied.
The villagers exclaimed,he must stop and leave us to enjoy peace.’
The King did not stop,
until someone put a knife in him.
The creature returned,
taking the city in its arms,
mourning its child.
Then it moved away to another valley.

Jethro Dykes

Compulsive
the loneliness of a tv playing in an unfurnished room
the circle of friends getting smaller 
and the days harder and harder to remember
waking up at the same time
eating at approximately the same time (sometimes not eating)
no turning back no possible improvement
and then only this:
the safety of precisely calibrated objects
the satisfaction of the cube that perfectly fits its frame
the familiar stimuli of one’s own laboratory
cholesterol
the pleasure as I taste new foods
the way the dishes squeak washed clean in hot water
the way I clone voices and make them mine
saying “yeah” with my mouth full
and suddenly the urge to be crushed by something huge 
no side effects
nothing essential left behind 

Gabi Eftimie (translated from the Romanian by Adam J. Sorkin and the poet)

Tatterdemalion
 
Deep in furrow of no hope,
clad in hole-soled shoes,  
torn cotton sweater, scratchy wool dress,
she stumbles towards Charles River bridge.
Rotten fish smell rises from river water,
snake into her nostrils,
cold river breeze caresses her skin.
She plunges into icy Charles River,
bobs to surface a time or two
until soaked clothes
draw air from lungs, 
energy from limbs.
She waits for icy water
to wash her new and clean.

Margaret Fieland

Cool Cat

 The quarterback’s brother disappeared into the river –
 while being pursued by police, the radio said. I return
 home with snow in my shoes. No one’s there but you, and
 you were named for a serial killer. You look at me as a
 diamond merchant might, or the Milky Way, or a suspicious
 early-morning fire.

Howie Good

Border Town near the Sea

The village was spent 
potassium nitrate, 
carbon and sulfur—
dust and ash.

The priest broke bottles of champaign
upon unhinged doorways
and the falling shards 
created the only music.

A stranger entered 
rigor mortis,
his backbone exposed
to the crystalline air.

A dog sniffed 
letters carved in tombstones,
the fresh turned sod,
the meaty bone near the surface.

The ocean stared through
the broken window 
of a painted landscape,
patiently waited 
for its turn to rise.

Kenneth Gurney

the flesh 

the flesh wrapped around the homely bone
defiles the whole house the skeleton is
with star-burst decay and suns
fading away tried as mourning
orgasms

it deliberately smells like dead men
with all their apathetic malice and massive
absence; living is a charmless cancer
heart, a fish darting under the flesh
called life and consummate
anxiety, it swims in time
and the tired sexuality

that defiles time. by definition
man is the animal
that does not deserve to live;
and time is a channel in him
under his cautious skin
where anxious fish swim

David McLean

A Breath Shy 
 
Things are pretty lousy for a calendar girl,
the boys just dive right off the cars
and splash into the street.Tom Waits
 
I see the parade of boys
plunging from silver skyscrapers 
dropping down stories
like so many bad pick-up lines
until bodies collide with the street
draped in January suicide 
weather and you.
 
Knuckles twist crumpled
against faces on the avenue
your name tattooed on index fingers
where suitors hope to tell you how to be.
Diamonds fat as spoons
on ring fingers of prostrate boys,        
a breath shy of asking you.

Dave Malone

To Rescue The Night From A Cheap Hotel

hush her name was on the windowsill in desperation so he found he
could not just knife his just desire just out of prison and back on the
street to rescue the night from a cheap motel shut in he said I know
about said soul she said I’m a baby back in black the meet was of the
fell she felt the same and so she wouldn’t give him her real name for
the life of me he said sincerely man I don’t know a cat from a wire

satnrose