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


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