Greetings from...the Road to Nowhere

Greetings from...the Road to Nowhere

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Poems by Alda Merini

Translated by Claudia Rey

"I poeti lavorano di notte"

I poeti lavorano di notte
quando il tempo non urge su di loro,
quando tace il rumore della folla
e termina il linciaggio delle ore.
I poeti lavorano nel buio
come falchi notturni od usignoli
dal dolcissimo canto
e temono di offendere Iddio.
Ma i poeti, nel loro silenzio
fanno ben più rumore
di una dorata cupola di stelle

Poets work at night
when time does not press on them
when the crowd’s noise is hushed
and the hour’s lynching is over.
Poets work in the dark
like night hawks or nightingales
whose song is so sweet
and fear they are offending God.
But poets, in their silence
make a higher noise
than a golden dome of stars

"Ti aspetto e ogni giorno"

Ti aspetto e ogni giorno
mi spengo poco per volta
e ho dimenticato il tuo volto.
Mi chiedono se la mia disperazione
sia pari alla tua assenza
no, è qualcosa di più:
è un gesto di morte fissa
che non ti so regalare.

I wait for you and every day
I die down little by little
and I have forgotten your face.
They ask me if my despair
is the same as your absence
no, it is something more:
it’s an immovable death gesture
I can’t give you as a gift.

"Ho conosciuto in te le meraviglie"

Ho conosciuto in te le meraviglie
meraviglie d'amore sì scoperte
che parevano a me delle conchiglie
ove odoravo il mare e le deserte
spiagge corrive e lì dentro l'amore mi sono persa come alla bufera
sempre tenendo fermo questo cuore
che (ben sapevo) amava una chimera.

I met wonders in you
love wonders so new
they looked like shells
where I could smell the sea
and simple empty beaches
I got lost in that love as in a storm
but I kept my heart very still
because I knew so well that it loved an illusion.

Alda Merini was one of Italy's most important and beloved poetic voices. She won many of Italy’s major national literary prizes and was twice nominated for the Nobel Prize, once by France and once by Italy. She was born in Milan and died there in November 2009 at the age of 78.

Photograph by Giuliano Grittini. Use permitted under the GNU Free Documentation License.

White and Sun-Stained Flags

by Lyla Abi-Saab

There is something about it that is so rich. Heavy. Culture is cultivated into the dirt, intertwined with air and dust and piano keys of sunlight. The song sounds along tops of the mountains, sharp, cutting through the breeze and into layers of skin and bone and brick. The cracks in the stone and clay weather below my feet, the moths and mosquitos spiral slowly overhead, the clear sky is strewn with pink and orange in the distance and I can do nothing but kneel as my knees grow weak, nothing but submit my eyelids shut to powerlessness in a bittersweet surrender.

There is something about it that is so fleeting. The laughter that streams, like ripples of a stone-harrased river from opaque infant-white to the most sun-spotted wrinkles, the distance between year and face measured only in worlds, or maybe just shallow breath. The tears; unspoken but understood, fingers and bodies tangeled to one, sleepless eyes pressed tightly together holding back the blood of seas and stories away. Questions lit, ignited and burned to rubble like my father’s home in the face of no answers, the gaps in the story running deep like the lengths from wet grains of salt and sand to the most majestic of snow-capped summits. We can do nothing but breathe, the thick perfume of fruit and blossom seeping into us. The moon awaits dawn to dusk again and the dogs bark and things still go unnoticed as they do, but we are and we are anyway.

The Invisible People

by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal

The people were
The way they talked
without their mouths
was strange. On their
faces a new
foot-like appendage
supported their eyes,
noses, and mouths.
The entire head
was foot-like, but
they were mere ghosts,
I was able
to see them because
I have this gift,
to see things others
cannot see.
But sometimes I
just see what I
want to see and
that is a problem.

The Bitter End is a Bar

by William Shaw

Like sex,
Is best when it’s angry.

Sweetness loses its savor,
And if you’re that sorry slick type,
You’ll last about two seconds,
Before a real man,
Decks your sorry ass,
And makes you bleed like a bitch.

So come at me son,
Come the fuck at me.

In other news,

Fat lips squirm like a red worm,
Wriggling obscenely in screaming half seen memories,
And infuriating implications.
Pulse pumping like an eel crashing through my veins,
And eyes seeing nothing,
Besides the insides,
Of my head, and the other, that bled,
A bittersweet red.

Drugs only get you so far.
Blowing a line off her bare thigh,
At the Heart of Texas motel,
Off Highway 290.
A bottle of Jack in one hand,
And the other slowly sliding,
Steadily down,
The smooth flesh of today’s freshest catch,
To where I’m sure your imagination has already led.
And then out.
Into the warm night air.
Onto the pale moonlit street.
Where summer lounges in sultry heat.

And I light a cigarette,
With a silvery flick of my wrist,
And make my way down these city streets,
My streets, though cold, graying and old.
Like the bony grasping fingers of a lecherous mayor,
Fervently clawing at the soft young body of a dead whore,
Whose glassy eyes gaze at starry skies like rotting fish scales,
Reflecting pale will o’ wisps,
Suspended amongst the turbulent motion,
Of the merciless ocean.

And I’ll traverse these city streets,
Cracking his knuckles with every clacking impact,
Of the riding heels,
Of my black ostrich hide boots.
Or singe the Old Man’s sensibilities
In my daddy’s white truck
Too big to be softy slick, but just the size for a hard fuck
And to lie in afterwards
In dizzy sex sweat drenched dazed ecstasy
And marvel at the will o’ wisps
Watching beyond the fogged windows

At the Bitter End
There’s a bar, a bogie, and a light
Once you’ve gotten kicked out of the one
And smoked the other
There ain’t much left to do
But light yourself on fire
And then drown in the gutter
Ever burning soul outliving charred corpse
Remaining in eternal, beautiful agony

Friday, April 1, 2011

Anarchy of Dusk

by Bobbi Sinha-Morey

In the anarchy of
dusk, despair returns
each minute like a
drop of moonshine
and, with less salva-
tion, the voices of
birds quiver in each
song, shattering the
stillness that swallow
a man's spirit. The
heart's rainy darkness
is no solace for my
soul, only a map of
brightness, but I've
nowhere to go. The
distance that divides
us leaves me feeling
so isolated. My anger's
been buried and stolen
back from the soil.
Trust and love is white
dust on dark furniture;
layers of the past you've
shared with me without
any sign of you in the
future. If I wait, time is
nothing but an endless
bridge. Yet your memory
remains. You leave traces
of yourself wherever you


by Tatiana Ambrose


Drawn in a red sharpie-
encased with a plastic coat,
peeling from heart break
this happened months ago.

Bed Fellow

He looked like a rich brown beard,
as yawns snuck through his torn gap-
weaving off the bedroom boards,
until I slumbered off to sleep

Fire Water

by Subhankar Das

I am too sleepy my treasure. It is not that this fragile desire of the body is too tired. Just feeling sleepy in this tiresome living. You also must be sleeping now. You do not get up this early. When did you last get up to see the dawn breaking? I only learned it from you that if I want dawn I must stay awake the whole night. You know I also stayed up the whole night and at day break rushed out in the city. I always loved the cold morning air. Just like hunting the crows on the roof top days, when I was a kid. The wooden gun never made any sound or no bullets can be fired from it. So I tried making sounds like gun firing and aimed but not a single crow would die. ‘Why they are not dying father’? I asked. And my father gave that infallible reply – ‘They will go home and die’.


by Sarah Anne Stinnet

You’re dead now.
Your life spent
celebrating with cake, cookies, candies, Pi.
Math counted when you saw the numbers
under your feet,
under your legs,
under your hips curving up to the tip
top of your head,
now calculate your sum,
you’re dead.
As bees in honey drown
you take too much, you
take too much, you take
too much.
The persistent hum of your heart
You are a tire I slashed
a penny I placed on train tracks
the paint I spilled
on a canvas of your face
so I will always know
you’re dead now.
On your tombstone, iron cast,
It reads, “Thin At Last.”

I Hide the Core Heap Under the Bed

by Jessica Poli

Balsa hands and
red sugar on hot fingers;
you used to have a hold on me.

We loved caffeine and
made love under black lights.
Teeth glowing as they crashed together.

Lint behind the washer
tends to settle on my lips. Remember,
you used to brush it away. Used to call me things.

I’ve been a lot of things -
sea monsters and bridesmaids.
You said them all while you traced my thighs.

Let me melt, I always said.
You fed me apples in the morning;
you told me not to cry and fed me apples.

Kite Strings

by Sadie Harris

Having moved easily away
beyond the vitreous drink
past perpetual reefs
where choppy, lapping waves
laugh at old tales,

Cutting through effervescence
into an aubergine vast,
there, no delineation
or compulsions
define boundaries
or deprive the existence of
one's precarious balances.

Unfixed, sentient,
the shoreline
has receded from view.
Distance, but a blur.
Silence altering,
rippling this present capacity .
But a hand flying
with the wings of paradise.

Once a Boy

by Taufiq bin Abdul Khalid

Once a boy
I was once a boy,
And I came upon the shore of a mighty sea,
I tarried by her awhile,

But soon I grew scales and gills,
And swam in her depth, as a fish,

Then I sprouted wings,
Flying high across the sea,
Skimming over her waves,
As a seagull,

Later I turned into a fisherman,
Finding rich bounty in
Her deep blue mercy
To feed my family.

Finally I returned to the boy that I was,
And into the water I peered,
To see a reflection of myself
Looking back at me, and asking
“Who are you?”

Sacrificial Lambs

by Mike Perkins

not all die
but many do
they come back
sometimes whole in body
but wounded in the mind
or maybe in pieces
missing one ancillary appendage or another
such as an arm
or a leg
or some creative combination
or perhaps all four
it is all
subject to
the vagaries of war
all based on a spinning moment
a probability
of timed confusion
the moment
which becomes the epicenter
the fall from grace
youth gushing from the man made spring
of traumatic fluids
framed by odd angles
with boundary markers of unnatural holes
from which something emerges
as if from a cocoon
in swaddling bandages
something new
yet old and unchanged
a vague resemblance of something before
but nothing stays the same anyway
during the recovery
which is never complete
just scabbed over
rubbed raw by prosthetics
chemical as well as mechanical
how do you salute without hands?
march without feet?
there is no parade rest for the deboned weary
then a medal
some recognition
awkward silences
inane comments
a jolly brave laugh attempt at humor
the bystanders feel wounded
and are comforted
by the victims themselves
in a
punch and cookie reception
then a check
then perhaps a pension of sorts
before the big forgotten

Southern Boulevard

by Alan Britt

Give blood.

That’s right.

Donate blood: O negative,
B positive, A whichever way
the windmill blows,
but give blood to future governors
and presidents in incubators,
blood enough to clot glaciers,
razor-blue glaciers crumbling
daily into Eagle Lake.

Sure, you could legislate
the gradual demise of blueblade glaciers
crumbling into the Pacific,
raising sea level by a mere
twelve to eighteen inches,
(that’s one and a half feet, to you and me),
but blood, my friends,
my terrestrial brothers and sisters;
there’s simply no substitute
for good ‘ol red and white corpuscles,
generations in hindsight, of course, that end
with a fist and a sickle spilling blood like oil
through the plaster walls and Venetian blinds
and wooden frames of Afghan, Iraqi
and Palestinian apartments.

You think oil and blood
are the same thing?

Regular citizens crucified
for another 2,000 years?

Well, friend, and I say this
with critical sincerity,
our sand, like all sand,
struggles tooth and nail
through the hourglass hips
of a black hole,
or an outdated religion,
or whatever else you
might call it.

But the point is,
this newest bullshit version
of a monarchy, planetary domination
via your tax dollars and mine,
well, I just have to say
that plain speech is sometimes underrated.

Plain speech can alert us
to a whole host of priorities
(sometimes known as periodic corrections
to the moral market);
plain speech can deliver us
from the depths of wretchedness
not unlike Rapunzel,
Hansel and Gretel, the Emperor in designer nudity,
or those train tracks revealed one afternoon,
tracks buried in the front yard
of a dingy white clapboard house
just off Southern Boulevard.

The Vending Machine

by Robert E. Petras

Life is like a vending machine
the woman with the secret wrote,
you spin the shelves around
and choose what you want
just by pushing the buttons
of visualization and self-talk
and positive thinking.
The law of quantum physics is

At an ATM machine I visualized
a return of 40 dollars
for my 40 dollars in
and a $2.25 service fee
and received enough vending power for a week.
“I am in the process of spinning
the world around,”
I told myself.
“I am Atlas twirling a circle
of quarks upon my fingertips.”
I rubbed my hands together,
I licked my lips
and stepped into line.
When my turn came
to give the machine a spin
only baloney sandwiches remained.

Time Wears Away The Stone

by Patrick Walsh

net of fishes shores of plenty
cast of blind hooks for foolishness
words from farside going crazy
you mustn't look I mustn't see

so once you gave though I doubted
the song of truth if that's what was
others couldn't grasp your lightness
yet raged to live in fire's doublet

now the bells toll these old church stones
for message dulled need not be lost
years are fossils as hearts stonecold
no dreams indulged on hard life's coast

Wednesday's Soliloquy

by Emma Eden Ramos

Closing Wednesday's soliloquy in a pine box,
August's heat afflicts only the living for whom Demeter's willowy hands hold parched pupils.
Wednesday's lyrics have gone underground with black martian dresses and a sterling silver pentacle.
Above, Sunday's Arian daughter is tap dancing on grandpa's hedge stone.
Now words are pretentious and black is a flavor.
Funeral dresses taste like expired breast milk while an ancient tree lends her branches to horny pigeons.
A Catholic service.
The dead excrete only evaporated flesh and calcified bone.
Wednesday's words can't remember their meaning; they've simply become anorexic.
The trees are rapists and the wind has SARS.
A beggar's banquet, this here graveyard.
Wednesday swallows the cemetery pollution like a heavy sob.
The alphabet has now rearranged itself and there is a strong odor of mango shaving cream.
Words are useless because people are hollow.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Spirit Rock

by Peter Magliocco

It is whatever hardens
the nocturne of beauty
eluding you like a Tennessee Williams
heroine. Making your own play
up during life's boring moments,
at work in the pedestrian pawn shop
dominated by amber mugs & ashtrays.

Rising like pernicious Indian spirits at Red Rock
fast as febrile airs
perambulating through Vegas streets
you loved to cruise with boyfriends,
even your dialogue was premeditated
& meticulously scripted for
any routine noir felon

to emulate.
Long ago you figured out
the perfect crime
all thieves dream about
casing the expensive jewelry
so many customers ogled, daily.
Despite how common in-house theft is,

"we'll get away with it," you winked;
"we'll kiss this rat race adios, man,
& travel the Caribbean beaches forever."
Far from these deserts where scorpions
lurk under a plethora of chiseled rocks,
waiting endlessly, their crooked tails
yellowing from venom's excess.

One bit you in the form of a real policeman,
& whatever spoils esthetic distance
did you in, whatever illusions
real existence unkindly disseminates
to draw down a curtain on
a wannabe porn star
whose dreams

some disease vitiates.
Then security cams
catch you, red-handed
clutching diamonds,
to portray your final role
stealing a forbidden stone
eternal deserts burn.

Digging My Way to China

by Isabel Kestner

We dug holes. Before the home computer,
when there was only one TV in every home
and video games were only machines at the arcade,
we dug holes. Shovels went missing.

Constantly, all the kids in the neighborhood
taking their unscheduled turns dug into
the sandy dirt of the vacant lot three
houses from where I lived.

Sometimes we had several holes.
Not everyone always agreed on where
to dig and occasionally there was some
competitive digging. Our useless dent
in the earth is bigger than your useless
dent in the earth.

But they weren’t really useless.
Sometimes, scrap wood would cover part
of a bigger hole and they would often be
six or eight feet wide. It was not a useless
hole now. Now it had a roof. Now the
temporary runaways seeking shelter from
beatings for a few hours had somewhere
to run to, somewhere safe to call their own
and rest for a while.

We dug a lot of holes.

When they got so deep that the really
little kids couldn’t crawl out on their own
someone’s mother always made a few
older kids fill in the hole and thus
we had to start digging another.

We were going somewhere with our stolen
but sort of barrowed shovels. The kids my age
still thought we could dig our way to China.
We didn’t know anything about China.
I didn’t care about China. I just knew it
wasn’t Jersey and I wanted to get away.
I was digging to China. I thought
it would be better there.

We dug a lot of holes.

No one ever got to China. But every once
and a while one of the big kids would hand me
a broken shovel. Big kids never dug with little kids.
Age determined status. But every once and a while,
the big kids would let me dig a hole with them.
They knew I was trying to get to China.
They knew why I wanted to dig my way to China.
They knew I couldn’t dig my way to China.
But they gave me a shovel and hoped for my sake
I would find a way to dig my way there.


by April A.

I'm riding the cloud of bright blanket dreams,
The coconut smoke entwines with the mist,
The potion of madness in violet streams
Is carving the urge that I cannot resist.

The mysteries find me still lying in bed,
Enjoying the pleasures of drunken grapefruit.
Just several gulps, and a room painted red
Will turn to a princess' incredible suit.

I'm a swift errand girl of my fortunate fate,
When my fantasies leak, the reality hides
In the weirdest world I could ever create
With my eyes tightly shut, with my heart as a guide.

A rose with sharp yet invisible thorns
Will bloom in my gardens in endless July -
The country of fairies and pink unicorns
Beneath the enchanting and welcoming sky.

I trust in the might of the element Earth,
However, the Air attracts me much more.
I'm hovering free, and I feel the rebirth.
This madness is tempting like never before.

I'm a swift errand girl of my fortunate fate,
When my fantasies leak, the reality hides
In the weirdest world I could ever create
With my eyes tightly shut, with my heart as a guide.

I giggle and slap the reality's face,
I found salvation in madness' embrace.

I'm a swift errand girl of my fortunate fate,
When my fantasies leak, the reality hides
In the weirdest world I could ever create
With my eyes tightly shut, with my heart as a guide.


by Claudia Rey

At five in the morning the sky is black and clear over Amelia’s courtyard, and peppered with a million stars. Plastic chairs are arranged in front of a niche, where the Virgen de Guadalupe stands surrounded by flowers, palm leaves and candles. Bananas and oranges are scattered on the floor among the candles, red and green plastic balloons hang overhead – the pagan token in an otherwise Catholic celebration.

We sit in the first row, huddled against the cold. Other people smile their greetings, or whisper a shy Hola. They know who I am, but the moment is probably too solemn for the occasional chit-chat.

A scrawny dog wanders around, and today no one chases it off. But when sacred music blasts all of a sudden from two loudspeakers arranged on a windowsill near the statue, it runs away with a yelp.

The music sounds like popular songs rather than hymns, and after a while I realize that they are songs: they tell the legend of La Virgen appearing to a Juan Diego six centuries ago, or they wish her happy birthday, or ask for her blessing.

“Todavía esperamos los Mariachis”, We are waiting for the mariachis, explains Amelia. Apparently they have been singing in the nearby village but should be here any minute. And they soon arrive, four men with guitars and four more to sing along. No black costumes studded with round knobs, no gold trimmed sombreros. Today they wear civilian clothes.

As they start singing – beautiful tenor voices – everyone stands up and joins them in an impromptu chorus. “Tu crees que yo puedo cantar con ellos?” I ask Carlos. His face brightens. “Claro que sí!” So I do, and sing the lines that I’ve learned earlier: Desde el cielo una hermosa mañana – la Guadalupana – la Guadalupana – bajó el Tepeyac... An old lady near me smiles approvingly.

When the music stops half an hour later, the same lady steps in front of the altar and collects from a vase a branch of small white flowers. She murmurs a prayer, then chooses someone among the crowd: a pregnant girl, a boy wearing a SALVAVIDA sweatshirt, a kid. She brushes the branch over them, from head to toe – a sacred metal detector against misfortune – chanting what must be a special blessing.

The spell breaks when Amelia starts handing around glasses filled with hot chocolate and big, oblong brioches obviously called guadalupanas. I nibble at mine, I drink some chocolate, then Carlos, my son-in-law, decides that it’s time for him to go to work. Amelia gives me a second guadalupana for my daughter, and I thank her with a hug. It’s nearly seven, and in the pink sky hundreds of birds sing and chirp.

In spite of my cynicism, I feel a sort of peace. And I will sing La guadalupana, la guadalupana... for the rest of the day.

Cry African Girls

by Handsen Chikowore

Up in the azure sky
Shoots the sun’s rays
Rises to meet another day
Another promise
To me it’s not yet any hope
As each day brings more problems
Which trouble a thirteen year old girl
Setting alight fire early morning
Sweeping the sheets of dust and dirt early morning
A beast of burden for firewood so I am bound

All those long distances I have to walk
A throbbing ever throbbing pain to my foot
With the baby clinging on my yonder back
The thorn infested forests
The meandering long walks to boreholes and wells
The back breaking dreary buckets full of water
It's so tiresome my body sweats
It's so punishing my body cannot endure

All African girls
Cry for your rights
The rape, torture and victimisation
Our life an eerie furnace of denied paradise
A sad song of denied education
I am so weary, Oh weary, So weary
A breath for fresh air cometh not
Don’t fall African girls
Up and fight
Yearn for another life

(after William Blake)

by Rachel J. Fenton

I drive wrong way on one-way streets
along the harbour front and docks
and note the locals in bare feet
and tourists in white sports socks.

On every corner buskers sing
while people wait at traffic lights
and hear the crossing buzzer ring
but do not know their human rights.

Free of children, free of prams,
not for infants or the old
and the stores do not have ramps:
cripples left out in the cold

though one in seven claims to have
some form of disability.
Auckland's pride rests on the grave
of pioneer not charity.

The Temple of Poseidon, Sounio, Greece

Photography by Panos Panagiotopoulos

The Childless Couple

by Margaret Beaver

The oceans lap lovingly at their feet, gifts of
a white froth; sea birds converse in the distance.

She stands by his side; small transparent fish curl
in the rivulets around their toes.

There is a distance between them the size of a
small child. She is a photograph never taken:

by her absence, a presence. His youth is gone
as the wool from the heel of his socks.

He holds a slight shell to his ear, listening for
the child's voice as if a contained wind.

The sheer sash of the woman, wrapped loosely
about her body, lifts lightly in the air so like

freedom. She opens her mouth, embracing the
ocean, wraps her arms around a body only hers.

Hiking to Goose Lake

by Michael H. Brownstein

threads of grass
thin as hair,
breath thick with light,
a path, stone,
one dark green river
silk weed and thorn.

light snuggles into the green,
rough hewn and knotted,
thick and crusted,
the softness of color,
the threadbare,
threads of grass.

Earthquake in a Glass House

by A.J. Huffman

He comes
in the darkest hours
of the seventh sun.
Carrying the sweet black candles
that sweep through my soul
like a half-finished dream.
And whispers the softer touches
of a forbidden god
across my lips.

The moonlight frees his hands.
And I am left
with a stone tongue.
And too heavy
to weep
for a broken world.

The Seamstress

by Len Kuntz

Our bathtub is filled with buttons--
mother of pearl and metal,
plastic pea coat shapes with
embossed anchors,
wooden toggles from Holland,
horn and hemp.

Your hair is a gray dandelion gone to seed.
Your eyes flit like a startled squirrel
and saliva webs your mouth when
you open the door.
“What on earth?”
you ask.

In bed that night
I listen to your coarse breath, your frail bones moaning when you toss and turn.
But we were young once,
and you stitched beautiful things then.
You dressed queens and saints,
men with money.

I slink off the mattress now,
and click on the bathroom light.
As I slide inside the tub
the buttons chatter and gossip,
their color shimmering.

Perhaps you clipped them
because they reminded you of better days,
or maybe you overhead me on the phone.
Either way, I grab handfuls and watch them clatter
across the great heap.

When I look up,
you’re there,
naked but smiling.
You ask, “Is the water warm?” Then,
“Got room for two?”

This, This is an African Moment

by Amit Parmessur

Lighting a crooked cigarette in a bus overfed
with bushed Sunday people. The young conductor
too effeminate to bring back order, with the smoke
stirring silent angry looks.

Sipping some stale
Coca-Cola while being already drunk, with the
body swaying to every whim of a hungry bus driver.

Watching then the tragic landscape
for a bit of elusive escapism.

Feeling too hot, and a bit frustrated
with someone’s beautiful wife sitting just in front.
Trying to swear in a language not resembling the
mother tongue but that of a faraway father’s habit.

Falling asleep after a few drags on the cigarette
that rebels and falls down
after being left alone between stinking fingers
as good as dry ladyfingers without balls.

Being laughed at by neighbors,
by well-dressed and perfumed neighbors
with intentions darker than lethal black ants.

Waking up to have a second drag on a cigarette
that is missing. Starting to
swear heroically, searching for the cigarette that
has rolled into someone else’s temporary territory.

Aggravating the situation by releasing
from the pocket a handful of stolen,
old and bent coins onto the ground, with them rolling
everywhere like the rapid shells of paralyzed tortoises.

the fall

by walter conley

i had a friend
named tim
who shot up
with his brother
then woke
in a
coachella vineyard

thought the
crosses bearing
stripped-out vines
were rows
of people
eyeing him

scared to move
he stood stock-still
till he couldn’t
hold up
dropped again
back down and gone
a false dawn
paler than he was

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Facing the Uncanny in the Chow Kit Market

by Anna J. Fitting

I have kept that first sensation of thinking
That I had existed a whole six years
Not having met
a grin so extensive as the cow’s skull
resting on the metal tabletop of the wet market.

the intrusive stare of the cow’s head,
now attended shoppers with his itching grin,
of teeth as sparse and left-over seeming
as the struggling patches of vegetation on
an August stricken lawn.
Neither gums nor lips remained to dull it.

He was tormented.
torn to a hanging, peeled sinuousness.

Here is what a cow can be, I thought,
that once lived fused to rough minute hairs,
crooking legs, mobile feet,
set stationary,
an accidental spectacle of blooming mottled pink,
the discard among the butcher’s spread.

spinal tap

by Panos Panagiotopoulos

so bring your wings on me
make each flutter meaningful,
make it matter to yourself,
it's possible that I am one who should not
be trusted or relied on,
I am not your friend nor lover
but still, talk to me, pretend I am either
talk to me, I'm fed up with all this crying
all I read about is tears and hearts enduring
bodies under word and dot stampedes
I'm tired and I need to see
a crack, somewhere,
the foramina of days
as they press their patent grim against my skin,
the sun retreats and I'm more or less sitting
by my self,
writing radioactive verses
[for us]
on my self
I wanted to be the book you'd read one day
handed to you by a friend or lover
or sometimes both, you'd lick your fingers and
rummage through me
because your life is the party I'm crashing
observing your guests from the coffee table
until their rude potential sits on me
so quiver and make it matter
make it meaningful, if only
to yourself

The bars are closing

by Mathew Richard Carter

and only stranded patrons
linger along with all this
precipitation, like the remnant
petals of a peony following these hours
of darkness caused by pervasive tempest.

I’ve never seen such torrential waters
forcing down its weight, its power,
an ambitious fountain cascading at
warp speed. We’re mere ants who scramble in an empty
bucket’s bottom, filling fast, faster. No choice aside from

punching forward, each direction is entirely
identical. The splash of rainfall over blurred
pavement – ah, too much, washing the scene
to black and wet. Drawn side-to-side with

sweeping charcoals. Our sodden clothing established
presence by its drape, we scamper to the car
misplaced in labyrinth-city quadrants.
Still, no regard in this most beauteous

of waterfalls – imagining these pools
below us foster fish … as profound as
ocean gullies – with depths to imbibe
the rest of this deluge.

The Devil, A Long Spoon, and a Serious Error in Judgement

by Carmen Taggart

She said come dine with me,
I hold the answers to a more vibrant life.
She was rockin’ the red dress and the stiletto heels.
Who could resist?

We discussed a contract over tea and cakes.
I didn’t need my really long spoon,
She tasted sweeter than honey.

Whispered promises, unslakable desire,
Our entwined bodies reflecting in the window glass,
Her reflection craggy, wrinkled, and withered,
The darkness of her soul no longer contained within a youthful facade.

She turned as red as her dress, heels stomping, you can’t walk away from me!
Oh, but I can, you have no power over me.
Yes, I do!! You need me! I am a celebutant! I hold the answers! Only me!
I laughed as I walked away.

The Rain

by Zaina Anwar

The wind
has spoken tonight.

Stars shudder
while the moon

has quietly
slipped away.

Soon, the sky
is swallowed

by savage clouds.
A thick film

of moisture
heavily clings

to every leaf
and languid root.

Children laugh,
their tiny feet

caked with sludge.
Through the streets

they run,
half naked

and oblivious

'The rain has come,
the rain has come.'

Sunday, January 16, 2011


by Bryan Murphy

The envelope disgorges a faded photo:
my erstwhile drinking buddy’s younger bro’,
aiming a pre-draft grin into the future
as though he had one.

Whatever did you do
to those choiceless defenders of our freedom,
chosen to manoeuvre apartheid’s army
into check?

Were your jeans a shade too western?
Did you hand them to the sergeant too slowly?
Was your accent not quite right, an exile twang?
Did they just loathe your love of life?

Or was it your large, city-boy’s body, so easy
to pierce with pen-knife, machete, bayonet,
so light to lay out, silent, torn,
unable to accuse, or dance?

They all had a share in your murder,
the other new recruits. Your blood
bound them deeper than any enemy.
Those who lived “won” that war.

Do they still stab conscripts to death
now that peace and playstations rule?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

my gods!
and other theories on the origins of man

by Mike Foldes

just add water

a very large man in a white coat
and glasses, a very large man who
somehow resembles einstein, or
your favorite 8th grade science teacher type,
attaches a patch of solid material
to a plastic orb and sets it spinning
like a tiny top. only up close
it looks much larger. up close
it doesn’t look like it’s moving
at all. and in fact the large man
in the white coat who set it spinning
can slow it down and even stop it,
and at one point he does this
to check out how the patch
of solid material on the plastic surface
held up under the centrifugal force
of the spin and finds that several pieces
have split off and formed related
shaped masses here and there
upon the plastic. and with a very
long and finely pointed pair of shining
titanium tweezers he carefully places
fourteen items of genetic code
on different facets of the developing
project, and with a warm breath
of humid air that quickly condenses
onto the plastic surface of the orb,
sets it spinning again so fast
it no longer appears round, but
kind of flattened at the poles.
and that’s about the time things
really begin to change.


by Anita McQueen

Falling from
night sky


my head back

eyes open

water from the gods.

The Imperfect Guitar

by Amit Parmessur

Sitting on the wild rocks I marvel at the periwinkle,
fully forlorn in the nearby receding tide pool.

The whistling of the dry coconut leaves in the wind
has been accompanying my pregnant thoughts of you,
with the large and strenuous pelicans surveying the sky,
right above my bewildered head.

I have never ever thought you would leave the
land of our bond and ships would become my enemies.
How dare that elderly ship steal you from me,
making my eyes scarlet in the indifferent crowd.

Sitting on the rocks with my wild guitar I
sing sweet songs of your improbable return, sometimes
dreaming of you dancing, dancing lithely in a ring
of violets, with frisking lambs, piping shepherds.

This evening I have broken a string
as my fingers are a bit too drenched in anger. I close

my eyes and imagine of you sleeping
on a bed of daisies in our favorite valley over there.

I secretly cut a hair from your peaceful head,
fixing it in my excessively grieving guitar.

I start playing again but the other remaining strings
cannot be as melodious as your versatile holy hair,
rendering my guitar uselessly imperfect.

When I open my briny and heavy eyes,
the tranquil sea surface has turned orange,
the sand is a stretch of yellow lawn
and the periwinkle is gone,
leaving the tide pool as good as a forlorn desert. I go
home like a brave camel ready for an endless journey.

What's On Television?

by Julie Kovacs

Grunting and braying
two donkeys fought over
who was in control of the remote
for the plasma screen.

both wanted to watch one or the other
sitting inside the spacious
living room
next to the Nile.

Eyes glazed over from
reading the Rosetta Stone
mistaking it for a television schedule
they finally decided to
give up and use the remote
to change the weather
clicking buttons
and more buttons
until they saw rain on television.

Pirate Night at The Space Pub

by Nicole Taylor

Friends call him
Awesome Austin,
and his Hair poem
and about his brain as a toy prize
and it was an awesome tale.

Tip or Die reads the jar on the bar.
Brutal Brutus stickers on the
cannon ball Moe is turning.

Bondage in my Brain reads
another poet, another freeing soul,
not a stealer of words, stories.

You can say fuck you, and it may not mean anything.
Angst not anger to a person.
Why do we get so offended by these words
or the middle finger?

Ashley reads a great tale, poem,
Wanting, and I am.

Instigate the ones I hate,
reads young Nick.

Candace reads, Dead men tell no tales.
in her pale dress reminding me
of the illustrated man, the heavily tattooed man.

Her guy Moe reads, sings
Fertile Floozy, Sea Hag Wench.

Row, row your boat, matey,
reads Rich
with his pirate arr style.

Time to leave soon but the stickers near me read
Never Sleep. Almost Friday. (But it's Monday.)
Breaking Death. Gladiators Eat Fire. (No
Gladiators or Fireeaters Here.) Dumb Free
Liberty For All and No Moral Chords.

BC Woman

by Paul Vincent Andrews

When she first arrived upon the scene

before the loquaciousness of the crowd
before raspy metal machine music
before the bone yards of fallen empires
before Gods
before I

her feet must have felt strange
planted in the hot arid sand

her eyes compelled to focus
on distant green lights of ancient
phosphorescent plankton
dancing on the rim
of a purple sea

did those green lights spell hope

Or, did she look upon this stage
as the worm devours it’s love the rose

the scrubland behind her
harboring megafauna
with bored opaque eyes

looking down with machinations
of the potential of the rock
next to her

as she skipped
the smaller disc shaped
stones in the sea

the first numbers

I imagine she turned
and looked back

hard eyes squinted
hungry, and fixated
upon the small furtive
creatures dancing
beside still pools

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dusting off the Blood

by A.J. Huffman
Do you love the color
of my hair?
Do you miss it
as it turns?
From red.
                To gold.
                              To black.
You hope for gray.
But that’s not the way I rot.
Conventions --
such as life --
shun me.
I don’t belong in any of their light.
And yet I cannot disappear.
I am the slate of a mistake.
Wash me.
Trace me.
Re-erase me.
I rise again and again.
I am a phoenix of misuse.
I dream of abuse.
Not mine.
It is my desire.
To be the devastation.
Without the fire.
Though this dream too will fade.
In time,
I remain:
a stain. 
And the ash in your mind
is my sin.
You will hear it calling.
Long after night
has claimed my skin.


by Jessica Otto

She has black dirt on her face.
The ruins of a garden plucked
for winter stain her hands.
She has scratched that greenery free
and bathed in the empty
soil, praying for next year’s harvest
with touches
of bare arms and thighs.

She rubs the flesh of the earth,
places stones in her mouth
careful of her teeth
though she knows
this is ritual.
Her tongue rolls in the grit,
Hips turn the ground like a spade.
She says, “I will starve myself for the gods
so I can grow poison in the spring.”


by Stephen Jarrell Williams

They say it will be the end of the world

Cities blazing with blue flame

You're swallowing hard sitting in bed
Staring across the room at the mirror

I'm massaging your bare back
Window fan blowing in cool
Outside blur of what will come

You whisper
There's no way out of this

Our house between dying
Memories and desperate hope

Only some will survive
In the new garden of ashes

You sigh
Turning to me smiling

Swishing your breasts side to side

Let's burn the bed down.

You and Me

by Aashish Thakur

And you said “window is not a window, it’s a door”
And I opened my heart,
Then you said “sky is an empty bowl, lets fill it with our love”
And we have done our prayers on bed
Then you said “some years don’t give birth to spring”
And like a fallen leaf, silently I sang the autumn
Then you said “the spirit of seed lies in its longing and pain”
And you walked away;
And then I said “what is falling on your palms, are my tears not the rain”

The Feeling of Mountains or Your Body

by A.K. Jackson

Beauty makes me feel trembling and small.
This morning I lay like an infant, clinging
to the safety of breasts but was a woman
again by the time I fully rose.
I held your soft fistfuls and felt a closeness,
as if blood was running from one girl
to the next. You are the beautiful things
in the world. Your heart beats all
the plants and animals into my brain.

And now I am leaving you, driving
through mountains that fill me with fear.
Life is such a fragile moment, pressure
in my ears and a long way down.
But I see your shape in the landscape,
mountains peaking like a girl on her back
and danger is suddenly as safe as comfort.
There are new birches growing, saplings
springing from cracks in the rocks.
They start out soft, and pale green
some to bend and some to snap.

the lake grows

by David Mclean

the lake grows its untiring expectation,
though the expectation is projected
and the lake just is, like birds singing,

and the fell rain fell, like years fall
into a missing god's empty pocket,
consciousness stops because of bodies

and the way they always die forever,
but the lake is growing its autumn
and the rain is feeding the contented trees

so they grow another years obligation
though soon there is no memory left
and no live body for me to be

the rain sets history free

My Black Pearl

by Carmen Eichman

I can breathe at the bottom
where bubbles burst from boiling surfaces
blacker, deeper places where I have not reached.
Sun light moves, sways me, above me,
people walk, sometimes hurried, sometimes languid
from this angle, but I hear nothing
as I watch from underneath, holding
my breath, waiting, waiting, waiting
for the dream, the black pearl, I swallowed
long ago, won’t digest, safe keeping in
the oyster of my guts, without it I die, again
and again, and again. Down here I gulp hope,
settle into a mechanical movement along
sandy bottoms, my blink a salute to the dry stars,
slip among the ordinary pearls
that just won’t do.


by Ricky Garni


According to what I saw on the Mutuscope in O-Naught, a bonk on the head and then scram. A policeman runs up to see where the fire is, looks around, sees the coast is clear, steals the dough off the limp body. The whole movie lasts exactly 25 seconds, a masterpiece and one cardboard set. Yet with all the suffering in this world, I cannot bear to see it again.

In the sequel, the policeman buys a pistachio ice cream cone. He admits he is a homosexual in court joins the foreign legion and in order to avoid legal prosecution for his crimes against nature and because he likes the Frank Sinatra song but unfortunately gets trampled by elephants in Nepal. Back home in Brooklyn, the chief of police calls up to the apartment to tell the family the news. His mother leans out the window and says SERVES HIM RIGHT but she really is his son. And he gives birth again, and his mother says I DO. My brother is my uncle is my sister is my mother hijinks ensue. This is one funky family. The chief of police doesn’t bother with it because it isn’t his beat. One year til retirement. There is no honeymoon and no funeral and it rains blood.

HEY. It’s my sequel and I can do whatever I want.


According to what I saw on the Mutuscope in Naught-Naught, a bonk on the head and then scram. A constable runs up to see where the fire is, looks around, sees the coast is clear, steals the dough off the limp body. The whole movie lasts exactly 25 seconds, a masterpiece of the era and one cardboard set. Yet with all the suffering in this world, I cannot bear to see it again.

So I make a sequel.

In the sequel, the constable waits on the curb for the man to regain consciousness. The constable presses a cool hanky to his forehead. “What th--?” the man asks. “Everything will be OK,” he replies “you were robbed, but you will be fine. Rest here for a moment. Then you must come to my house. I insist. It’s almost time for dinner now and my wife makes a terrific beef stew.”

We don’t know all this because it is a silent film.

And since I hate subtitles there are none of those either.

Some people will be reassured by the hanky and the smiling but if you are deaf than this is the movie for you. The constable has beautiful, supple lips, and he speaks slowly. The man enunciates clearly and deliberately, perhaps due to the injury. There is more smiling in the end than there is in the beginning. And there seems to be happiness there.

But when the movie ends and the lights come up, some of the audience is confused, and some look a little bored, but there are some people, a very few people, who are walking out into the night with their mouths watering and smacking their lips. They turn to each other to discuss the movie. Their fingers are moving like crazy. They loved it! They feel wild! This movie is really just about them.

But what happened to the money? Did the wife really make a terrific beef stew?

Sorry: there will be no sequel.


According to what I saw on the Mutuscope in OH NO-Naught, a bonk on the head and then scram.

It just keeps happening.

And then, as usual, a constable runs up to see where the fire is, looks around a little but not much, the coast is clear but what else is new, steals the dough off the limp body that just wants it all to be over with.

Enough already. The whole movie lasts exactly 25 seconds, but it seems a lot longer,

I mean, it takes forever, and I guess it is a masterpiece of the era but I don’t care anymore.

But I should care. I want to care. I need to care. So I make a sequel.


A Mid-Winter Revolt

by Melanie Browne

Finding crows in a
church yard is bad

luck, one -thousand
surrounding us
in a theater
of gravestones

is a nightmare,
I run at them,
waving my arms
wildly about,

they fly nowhere,
I yell that I have
no bread,
nothing to satisfy,

I watch as they
break the beauty
of a mid-winters silence
with their ghastly 'caws,'
pulling the repulsive


along for the ride


by M.P. Powers

A beggar with dreads and bloodshot eyes

except for a fang
raps on the window of my truck. "Goz any
change?" I look in the console, shake my head

no... He trudges

off. The light changes. Miami is a different
for everyone, at any given time, but today,
on NW 27th

Avenue, the beast seems only evil.

I see it in the three
grimacing faces at the bus stop,

dark faces

like "rainbeaten
stone," and the heavy stormclouds.

There's an old
mural pealing, and a place where nothing
grows: the one-story motel
the railway, a soulless
agglomeration of no-frills
overlooking a glorious
empty parking lot.

As I pull near, I imagine
some of the dark secrets
those rooms

know. Make up a few scenerios of my own.

And then a door opens. A skinny white
creeps out, barefooted, hair a mess, purse slung
over her shoulder. She limps
up the sidewalk,
bony jaw
working, eyes, wild. A man howls
at her
from up on the trestle.

A train shears by. 11 a.m.

on a Monday, and the naked
light jiggles.

Birds of agony,

Earth moves
softly in its soiled wingless

Monday, November 1, 2010


by Ana Vidal-Guardia

In my absence
white powder owned the hours
and the minutes were given away free
attached to rented bodies,
ephemeral divine power
exhorted in some filthy hotel room.

The sweaty sheets
begged for laundry treatment,
while the bodies,
choleric trapezes oblivious to mercy,
performed night after night
balancing synthetic life
inside dehydrated fish bowl spaces.

On the long black nights
I waited for you
sewn to the kitchen table.

And anger replaced sadness.
And I wished death would plunge
inside your adulterous bones,
for no diamond
will ever sweeten

the bitterness of your sinful lips,
the same ones you will use
to kiss our children
when tucking them in bed,
the sheets smelling all so fresh


by Alan Britt
That’s the funny thing about heart disease;
no matter what, it always reserves season tickets
to the local symphony,
Beethoven’s String Quartet in Hellish Existence,
or even his Eroica, sans Bonaparte. 
Imagine Beethoven on his deathbed 
celebrating life,
remembering stories
about black rains
Venetian canals 
and mildewing the cobblestones 
of 17th Century Vermeer townhouses;
or, perhaps, you’d prefer, instead, the movie star type
that Dion DiMucci sang about.
Hell, you might even dream
about a superficial solution to all the world’s problems.
The fact is,
the perennial court jester,
a la Hamlet,
held his own
for quite awhile,
until a CEO discovered him
wiling away his time
in a boxcar
bound for glory 
filled with 50-millimeter new-age cannons.
I believe that love is still, however, willing
to climb the lattice
of windy eyelashes,
instead of using
a glass elevator;
it’s merely what
our god-forsaken culture 
requires of silly humans. 
But who am I to question
Darwin’s heroes of the Industrial Revolution?
What’s that you’re hiding
inside the worsted wool pockets of your soul?
A second ago,
I saw you!
Sometimes, standing here in Ophelia’s moonlit grave,
waving my wooden sword through ironic lamplight, 
I hope I’ll be around long enough 
to kiss your crumbling headstone.

The Banshee

by Sheldon Lee Compton

At night he drinks pints of black and throws spit from the mountaintop, cupping his hands at his mouth, the old dirt of the ridgeline pinched beneath his fingernails. Hours spent digging for ginseng.

The ridge is his property line, is the edge of his world. The family pushed him off the porch years ago, boot-toed him across the yard until he could stand and make his way into the hills.

When he speaks, the words leave him as spring rain leaves the clouds in sunlight.

And when he speaks it is with words tied by strands of wind. He says mostly these words in this way – love, hurt, mother, father, babies, mine, marriages, children, babies, woman, mine, women, hurt, alone, nothing, mother, father. The words weave into one another and in the end they become a single wail across the valley.

To the knuckles he pushes his fingers into the overgrowth at the base of the cliffs. The roots are there. He pushes into the old earth with his muscles, the bones of his arms and shoulders, tearing away the bloodline of the plant.

It's how he gets to sleep before daybreak, tiring himself out before the stirring moon has a chance to remind him again of all he has lost.

And when he remembers, it is the throwing up again of sunlight words in the darkness.

The Bottom

by Abigale Louise LeCavalier

The strain of sobriety,
the glossy look
in my eyes;

And the plastic
feels like glass.

As I wash down
a few hours of sunshine.

Taking slow, deep, breaths.

the bottom
drops out.

Your Departure Left Me in Pain

by El Habib Louai

Sometimes there were cries
I hear somewhere long before
They arrive to my open door
On a lonely long empty road
Cries from a distant void
I hear them as they echoed
In the bushes of my dreams
Dreams I dreamed in empty
Curves of a labyrinthine well
Other cries of people I knew
Met them high before they vanished
I saw souls of members dismembered
And I cried alone as you left me
Your face I saw between two wings
It smiled to me before it faded
Will you ever come to me again?
A question formed on a sand grain
Your departure left me in pain
And I wish I could be then
As you wanted me so near
Melancholic, I sit wherever I dare
I count little moments and flick away flies
As time mercilessly in phosphoric bubbles flies
Sister moon comes to journey the night
Again alone just as it did, unceasingly
To somewhere I will never see
Will you be there for me?
Among those weary travelers
Formed in brown scattered clouds
Tinged by curving caravans of dreams
Borrowed from unfinished Arabian nights
Will you be there for me?
To leave fresh parting kisses
On my scorched sweet lips
I beg you as I perpetually did
To have mercy on me
My brown-eyed lady
The only one who walks really
In such never-withering beauty


by jkdavies

You have knocked the life out of me,
I shovel dead things into my mouth
but I only taste the fermented stuff.
Honesty looks good on me, but on you?
I didn't need to know how easily
you put me out of your mind.
You made me feel alive and I hate
to think how long ago that was now,
I want to quicken myself but it does not come,
I can not come, it is an exercise in friction and
though the flesh is willing the mind is freaked.
Reject, side dish, bit of fun, reject,
slut, tease, reject; words bicycle in my head.
Dead mould, mushrooms for tea.
Yes, on the side, by the pallid fish flesh. I will
shrivel up in the non-weight of your disregard.
This time, can I make the silence stick?
Can I pour in enough alcohol to make
me tongue tied and not voluble?
Bitter exudations, oozing failure, and
in the morning, sweet rancid sweat.
Success and failure both are counted
by apathy, not talking to you.
Your life goes on, maybe to her you will
seem a little distracted, maybe?
Maybe not even that, after all, she didn't
even notice when you went to her,
rubbed raw from our exertions.
I try another tentative rub, but no,
rejected by my own flesh. To drink
to sleep; to sleep perchance to weep.
You have knocked the life out of me,
and now half digested dead things
come back out of my mouth.

Of Wilderness and Philosophy

by Rebecca Gaffron

If I wait in the rain and you don’t show, does it mean something? And would the meaning change if the evening weren’t so wet. Or cold. Or green. My wilderness is green. But I have always longed for rugged, stony greys. It’s human nature to covet that which we are not. To crave poison in the form of delightful dissimilarity. And so I’ve been drawn up steep granite slopes. I’ve felt the wind lift my feet from razor backed fells where I believed I’d found myself, even as golden curls whipped my eyes, casting them downward, back to the patchwork of verdant emerald and olive and jade. Back to geographies more akin to my own. Or yours.

If I wait and you don’t show, is it because you’ve chosen to be a lone wolf? That is an anomaly. Wolves are pack animals. But you are not. Not a pack animal. Not a lone-wolf. This is clear, at least to me. You speak of wilderness. Of pines that spire like church steeples into starlit skies. Of rivers rushing, coursing, bursting in abandon before turning still and soft. Of quiet unspoiled by human chaos. You seek these out in small doses. Not allowing yourself to stay over-long. Avoiding too much stillness, afraid it might keep you. Or deliver the message you’ve been seeking. Something about finally allowing the wound to heal. Something about strengths found in vulnerability.

And if I wait by not waiting, will it change things? If I escape the lonely rain and cloudy shadows by settling into the warm glow of some social wilderness, surrounded by cheerful noise, might I find clarity? Or faith. Enough that when the phone vibrates in my pocket, I will know without hearing that it’s you. You, whispering the delicious promise of intentions-kept in my ear before appearing at my side. Then we will examine our philosophies. We will seek hidden meaning in IPAs and old Bluegrass songs. You will decry false rhetoric, calling out for more joy. More romance. More beer. While I argue the metaphysical merits of jokes unfit for mixed company.

If I wait and find you walking me out, away from the safely of the purely theoretical, will your wilderness envelope mine? There, in the wet and cold, where our greens still pulse under oily black darkness, will I convince myself that us is not something I’ve longed for? Will I see my hopes and fears reflected in your eyes? What if the pull is too great? What if we fall and in the descent lose ourselves, like pebbles dropped in a bottomless cave, plunging on and on forever, into nothing?


by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal


Where the book of hallucinations
begins, a shadow turns the pages
and another shadow highlights
the words. Rocks have voices and
the sun is cool. The shadows fill
with sadness when the book is
closed. There is a secret poem in
the book of hallucinations. A
heart beats for a moment and each
shadow could hear it. They don’t
know what a heart is. They don’t
know for what purpose this heart
beats. How could a shadow know?
The book of hallucinations is not
for the faint of heart. There is no
form in each poem. The rocks who
speak give way to muteness. Their
hardness dissolves to dust and
the grass in the book of hallucinations
calls out to each reader. It calls out
to each shadow, who have trouble
understanding it. The book of
hallucinations puzzles each shadow
and the secret poem begins to beat
suddenly. It is a dazzling poem,
which makes one’s eyes water.
Suddenly, the book of hallucinations
quotes from the Book of Revelation.


Blue birds recite verses from the book
of hallucinations. The blue birds sing
and swoop in the celestial skies. All
through the day the blues birds sing
off key. The book of hallucinations
devours the blue birds. The verses
are highlighted blue by the shadow
who turns the pages. The other shadow
could not remember what color it
always highlighted the book of
hallucinations. Without memory
the shadow which highlighted the book
of hallucinations gave way to serenity.
Both of the shadows felt the beauty
all around. They started to measure
each drop of beauty in the world.
The cool sun dropped rays of light
throughout the morning. The light
rays navigated through each page of
the book of hallucinations and the
blue verses were wiped clean. The
shadow which turned the pages did what
it always did. It left the highlighting to
the shadow which highlighted the pages.
There were fragments of blue wings
throughout the book of hallucinations.
The shadow which turned the pages and
the shadow which highlighted the book
of hallucinations could not remember in
what part of the book the secret poem
was hidden. The blue birds walked from
page to page, through each verse, looking
for a love that flight could not reach.
Waves of blue birds walked on. The cool
sun set their hearts aflame and tore
each of their wings from their bodies.
The secret poem gorged on the blue birds.


In the book of hallucinations there was a
shadow which desperately sought a new
body. The shadow read every single
word in the book of hallucinations hoping
there was some kind of clue there, a place
where it could live in harmony. There was
a shadow which had similar ideas, only
it was not as desperate. It would highlight
every other word in the book of hallucinations.
This shadow was looking for a body with
a pink head. It would highlight every
word from pink to red to white. The shadow
which turned the pages observed the other
shadow and feel a certain uneasiness. In
the book of hallucinations there was no
guaranteed harmony. Each shadow kept its
hopes and dreams alive as best they could.


Words would dissolve without warning in
the book of hallucinations. Sometimes
blood would spurt out of certain pages from
time to time. The cool sun would release rays
of light and wipe the blood off. The cool sun
was always around in the morning and in
the afternoon. By the time evening settled in,
the cool sun would be gone. It would always
return the next day. Inside the book of
hallucinations, there was an old heart which
would beat on and on. The old heart would
beat faintly. The cool sun behind the moon
would drop rays of light toward the old heart.
It would go silent. The old heart did not like
being silenced. It would start beating louder
and louder the moment the cool sun was
not around to silence it with its rays of light.


The rocks in the waves would speak, but no one
understood what they said. One particular
rock in the book of hallucinations could throw its
voice. It could sing like a blue bird. This rock
had great range, but only for a few hours. In
the book of hallucinations, there was a shadow
which turned its pages. It did not understand
what each poem said. However, the shadow would
recite each word. There was another shadow which
highlighted every other word. It would never
recite each word. In the book of hallucinations
the shadow which turned the pages had a pronounced
stutter, which was dreadful. Fortunately,
the shadow lost the stutter and eventually its voice.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

My Blood

by Jenny Picciotto

My blood runs
thick and red
between my legs.

teeth bared,
eyes flashing.

Red fear,
Red anger
Red Danger.

I place my red
into your hands.

My heart, exposed,

My blood flows,
recirculating in my
No Where
for the anger
to go.

An image.
A woman:
eyes glazed
in the
pose of the harlot.

Why do you love
this way. Not myself.
The image of self effacement.

What is the harm
of acting out
your fantasy?
Your precious fantasy.
is the way

Stripped of self awareness
out of touch with my own
A puppet of your desire.

My heart cries out
against the invisible
you place around me.

My sexuality

The mindlessness of a
without self determination.
Her moods
dictated by the man.

Why is this an attractive image to you?
Do you so enjoy me
of my strength,
of my sense of self.

Sex with my body
is not
making love.
For there is no
of the individual
to love.

Fucking my body
is an unconscious act
animal passion. But
am not there
with you.

My blood flows red,
into my eyes,
down my thighs.
this body,
by the rhythms of nature.
this body,
for the development of my children.
this body,
for your pleasure.


You leave me to bleed-
the anger of my heart
in the ecstacy
of your orgasm.

A Cheer for the Dwarf Clown

by Jay Coral

thank you dwarf clown
if i were a child again
i will invite you on my birthday party
and you will be playing man-child with us
you and your man's body and short limbs
will be dolls and toy soldiers to our delight
you will be a walking sphinx to gape-struck mothers
haha imagine the circus of confusion in their faces
your face will be covered by a mascara
but us children will not see through your bulging eyes
the ugliness you hide nor your soul's lacerations
after i blow the candle and make a wish
i will tell you you are a clean shapen creature
then i will smash the cake in your face
you will growl and show us your pointy incisors
but it will be a happy growl.


by Randall Rogers






It's Sunday

by Joan McNerney

Your laughter
comes in cascades when
I toss your curly hair
tickling those big ears
with long blades of grass.

We stop at the lake startling
frogs just before they leap
away. Listen to squirrels brush
over carpets of crunchy leaves.

You turn to hold me hold me
hurry it's late. O Michael
pink clouds ribbon heaven and
I want your arms around me forever

Il Piacere (Pleasure)

The Second Hump invites its friends to view Il Piacere (Pleasure), a work of words and art by Leila A. Fortier at:

or Algebraic Sequencing of
Double-Helix Nightmares Told in Real-Time
Minus the "Whole Truth & Nothing But the Truth"
All the While Dreaming of a Future in Astroscience

“To be young, to have a thirst for society,
to be hungry for a woman” Balzac in “Le Père Goriot.”

by J. R. Pearson

You have two fingers & a wall socket
full of lightning. Insert. Repeat
until an unexplainable thirst for iron holds.
Take a short break. Get to know yourself a little.
Body image fading down corridors of television night.
Bright ghosts burning blue haze thru the sky's broken bones.
Welcome back!.. to your muted mouth glittered in hot gold.
To liquid sand from a poisoned silver skin.
You must believe this can all be summed up by the deaf
immensity of snow & your hatred of anything dead-white.
Instead, imagine a new body. A whole new you
plus no additional charge nocturnal cinema!
Dreams that come on in desert night like live-wire voodoo.
Think: braille bred in the bone
the texture of flowers that open tombs of suspect sentences.
Picture: sky tablecloths into 9 volt verbs
pressed to taste-buds.
Speak: this feels so unbelievable
without some kind of chemical dependency!
Wonder: do you have to sell skin to the sunrise?
Answer: no fine print written on the underside of eyelids.
Promise: as a fact all that's possible is a hard blink.
A tongue contorts into your arms
just the right distance apart.
Your heart is an eyelid curled with fingers.
Your heart is a snow-bright cataract.
Your heart is opening a large wet eye.
Your heart is an oven. You're ignition.

Just think of it as the blind bandwidth
of tongue touching tongue.
The riddled rain in bubble casting of innocent falling light.
Thru an open iris the desert swims into mind
& unseen hands prepare volcanoes
for a distinct country's recasting.
It's serious. Thoughts full of august shade,
you forget that black boils
into moons rising beneath fingernails
into spoons over an open flame
into an addict's wish-sharpened needle
into ignitable veins clawed up arms
into this whole thing that keeps gibbering
a voice in my head and if I focus
on its mouth I can change the words
but they never never stop coming out
so I just form syllables into smoke rings.
Do you remember what mountains felt like as a child?
Do you remember what the skies were like as a child?
Wait! The moon's shade just arrived, watch starlight fall
like rhythm behind the eye for missing breath.
Don't worry, this can all be healed
with a scalpel's width & lungs spread like wings.
We're talking genetics honey.
Double-helix cash money.
Pain-pink pills & the cotton-crawl of a quasar
thru your chest. Put the universe to your mouth.
It's ignition. Decapitate your cybernetic girlfriend
with riffs from a lightningaxe. Ignition.
Maybe a sigh of the times?
That was rhetorical.
How many Richters will it take to raise the dead:
you're two adjectives away from the great American Killer.

Born gutter smoke, wing welt & dance done,
nothing left on the dream hill leaves you felt washed.
Be whatever you have.
Harp-fisted angel of naked death for one.
Ephemeral scream fleshed to a golden
brown velocity for two. Open your mouth: a nation
of fireflies lift off from teeth bleemed to a smolder.
It was then I knew you would eat me alive.
It was then I knew the pleasure of drowning.
My burial plans include evaporation.
My burial plans include doppelgängers.
My burial plans include space-time.
My burial is the "blind crease in the song."
This poem has a pulse, proud as a spine.
Hold it! I remember you clear as an ice-age sold into sunlight
:whisp of c4 unfolded thru the flick of an eye
:nitro rubbed into lipstick a shade higher than plasma
:tar-dark loadstone in eyeliner: left a phrase in my head
:bones are a beach-blank canvas dreaming a still life;
tell me the sweet taste of twilight won't hold
in the second coming of your last breath.
Don't kid yourself honey. I know the temperature
that turns ice to fractured femurs.
Anger swims clear under its own weight.
Smoke flowers in your mind.
Brain full of bush flame. A dance detonates down limbs.
Seamless as a held breath that pulls fingers into fists.
Your iris blooms rivers.
It was at this time I knew you as the sharpened wind
in my chest. It was at this time we both saw this leading
to an event of perfect negative motion....
like nightmares without all the drama.
I have an irrational fear of dying kindly.
Promise: you'll shoot me into the sun.

One by one a year of nights flash thru your face.
One by one I am a thousand untouched pages.
One by one syllables creep from your mouth in socks,
careful not to wake the brick of shade
with eyes like snow-drowned caves in the corner
of your mind. Volcano behind the hairline.
It's the lifting laughter that seeds the feral storm.
Glacial grift of the desert's slow advance
ripens in us like a haloed anger & heat stammers
into memory. This encrypted silence between us
is troubled with sun. For a moment, let's examine the topography
washed up on the corners of your mouth.
All opulence reduce to surf.
It cannot shake tomorrow; we are just recently a pattern!
Let's cycle thru this sequencing
& become the sole survivors of inertia's mistaken verve.
We're talking planetary erasure here.
Sol finally turns off its megaphone, we can sleep.
We've shaken the dice together.
It's all written before the advent of thought:
Pre-prophetic post-apocalypse melody-strung notes
by hoofbeat, heartboat, & heft that won't float
plus (for the first 30 callers) a sing-sung muffle
of prayer beads abstracted
from winged deified, mummified, exemplified
curious corpse that resists eyesight.
The cicadas are building in my spine
to heaven
to madness.

Cure me honey & recant your favorite speech:
I, anonymous uterus of the universe
gave birth to you.
Four score & 15 minutes ago
(I am talking universal minutes!)
you were nothing without me:
a brilliant paper cut
a bloom in the blank between dreams
a vertigo curled around my cortex
a polyphonic thought passed into cloud
a S dash O dash S spelled in blind need
That not withstanding, there you were.
All choking wet & focus of light.
Arithmetic or arrhythmia? Doesn't matter.
After that I couldn't stop talking
about your unbelievable torso.
After that your exhale hit
me right between the eyes.
After that you were leftovers blown to bones.
After that you were banked
evangelical particle chances of ascension:
a placid face dropped in ripe ponds:
floods gushed thru the gate
left unlocked in your chest.
For now. Sleep. Beautiful, sleep.
Rumor acts like a mirror.
When we k ss your eyes d sappear.
When you walk that swing
my abdomen turns to mud. Again.
Your flesh, the last isthmus.
Your flesh, the last desert.
Your flesh, the last fossilized footprint.
Your flesh, the last ripe peach.
Your flesh, the final blackbird.
Copper sands crawl hand-pressed cliffs;
boulders never roll uphill
so let's trade minds & talk about me:
there he is blind lips in midnight shade.
Said he wants to feel your skull
on his fingertips. When lips meet
he whispers to his hands
that know your spine like a memory.
Says when you touch his ears fill with surf.
Wants your fingers to pound him into ivory
like an old-fashioned pianola...
& that's just about everything you'll ever need.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Bob Dylan is Dead

by Melanie Browne

He got tangled
in truth

Folk Angels
wearing pink
hot pants
hitch rides
across the desert

The fuchsia flowers
drip from
their hair

Dead rock gods
fly over
the night sky,

sad & blue

palm trees
& beat
their tambourines

Rain in L.A.

by Sean Pravica

a rain cloud over Los Angeles
brooded like a rebel
boasting a storm
and taunting the drivers
who are suddenly young children again
taking baby steps
not quite sure what to do
and a little scared
though they’d rather not admit that
except maybe to their mothers

depends on what kind of car they drive
what job they hold
and how much gas is in the tank of their gut
that is
how much of their lives
they can actually stomach
if we could run away forever
or drive on an endless highway
we might still fear we’d slip
and let up the ghost
of our vulnerability
before a sky that knows better
knows that already

in this hot place
a sun bright enough to illuminate the buildings
mirrors everywhere for smitten people
examining the objects of their affection
in passing glass surfaces
the sky can’t always hold back its tears
even though it’s tougher here
having seen the dreams lost
and others become
only to slip away
back into the reflective face of a bank
and lost
behind the fake marble
while the rain begins to fall
and drizzle along the sidewalk
the smell of the street rising
time to go home
and face the traffic

Soul Effort

by Brenda Blakey

His was a fool’s dream
To wish for her requited love.
He had failed before but
This time he would succeed.
One last whisper in prayer then,
While his body slept on goose down,
His spirit hovered over her house;
He wrenched out his heart completely.
It salted over her sleeping form.
Now she would return his love.
But, unfortunately, he would no
Longer have the heart for it.

Four Poems

by Suchoon Mo


a cat barks
a mouse farts
the sound of awakening
in silence
the buddha meditates


whenever she sings
she omits "g"
she sins


ever since she met david and married him
she has been stuttering at d

d-d-d-damn you!



together two women sing
one sings a serenade
the other sings an elegy
they sing a same song
they sing a requiem

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Hermes' Dream

by Christina Murphy

Hermes was a clever baby god stealing his brother Apollo’s cattle and
     hiding them in an Arcadian cave
Apollo seeking revenge took Hermes before Zeus for judgment, but Hermes
     even so young placated
He offered a tortoise shell and leather strips as a lyre to Apollo who
     recognized the music within 
Apollo the Sun God and Hermes the infant god created music from a theft
     and a deception
Hermes understood and Apollo agreed that the earth was the place for song
     so filled with promise and sorrows
So they asked Iris, daughter of Electra and creature of celestial energy, to create 
     the rainbow and fill the clouds with light
Iris, running with the wind, knew in her heart that the stars and the earth were
     one with the music of the lyre
So she placed the rainbow in the sky above the earthly broken dreams
     of humankind— 
The rainbow to split the clouds and free the songs of the heavens as 
     rain fell and rose from the earth
In appreciation for the gift of the lyre, Apollo gave Hermes a golden rod,
     the sign of the peace maker
Asleep in his cradle in a cave on Mount Cyllene, Hermes dreamed the
     dream of rainbows and stars
As Iris, the night for her companion, kept watch in the heavens, filling
     the sky with light before the dawn 

Wet April Flows through Fleece

by Rebecca Anne Renner
mops the yellow
scent of rejection
off its thighs.
clings to daybreak
like a perfume
sodden whore,
fat, docile,
a tigers claws
and serpent's
tongue once grew,
with years of lying
down in rutted soil
too paltry for a summons
or a call to tea,
a simpering
orchard is born
and withers.

Real Beauty

by Len Kuntz

I made it look like an accident, an iris happenstance, tearing the blue out of my eye, first one pupil then the next. The sun was the only thing that went down that day, stayed there, head in the dirt, glowing in the ground like a brim but nothing more, blinded, not even breathing. After the fire, you said I’d never love you the same, your face full of scar melt now. But you were wrong: here are my eyes to prove it.


by Lynne Hayes
Hey you? 

Looking for something perhaps,
to erase the fears or by chance can
help you launch face first into my
Sweet Oblivion.

Nights become days become nothing,
but a Wicked spiral of ins, outs
Sideways, slide ways of messiness.

Trade me your usefulness 
and I will return to you a bounty of sloth 
then let me Rape your smile 
and replace it with a line on the horizon. 

Allow me to assist in your flat line of Vitality.
Please, keep taking from my claw the 
sweet poisons of eternal voids 
and I will offer the demise you so 
Unconsciously Crave.

Retreating into the abyss 
without ropes, tethers or any ground beneath
your feet I can ensnare the future you
so willingly offer for my economies.

Hey you? 
Let me assist in the Remains of your day. 


by Kenneth Pobo
Villa Park, Illinois found out
I was gay, the whole town
caught fire.  The mayor ran
down Oakland Avenue beating
a pan.  Respectable Repubdads
dashed outside naked,
carried their kids’ bikes back
inside, careful to lock each door
and bolt all windows
even if meant burning
alive.  My friend Dippy had
blurted out my secret.  Firetrucks
clanged from street to street,
evaporated.  Fire shaved its legs,
slowly devoured everything.
I thanked Dippy on smouldering
ashes, gave him my
peanutbutter and jelly sandwich. 

On the Last Tube Train to Tibet

by P.A. Levy

Let the barbed wire whistle
laments of breezes caught on CCTV;
phantasmic fluttering plastic

and a song bird tapping a beat
on a window twenty floors high;
caught in the wink in a daisy’s eye
from downhearted-lands, concrete lands,
where crushed diamonte of broken bottles
twinkle in the star-shine of Telstar’s offspring.
On the other side of the pane
speed queen Susi never shuts up.
Six stone six of jaw and bone
rolls over, pants, begs for wraps
pouts in a tea stained T-shirt
and moody Nike trackie bottoms
she nicked from Roman Road market.

Bass rhythms. Base rhythms.
Resonates in the hungry cries
of her cunt spew brat;
a free gift that came with a drunken fuck,
but she loves her little SMA junkie to bits,
sings lullabies of far away places
where twilight swoons
with nightingale voices
instead of sirens wailing
and the undulating rumble of another tube train
heading east
beyond Barking.
Skunk farms. M25 raves. Pirates rule
underground air waves.
Worshipping at the twin deck altar
DJ MDMA plays wicked tunes for his
faithless bong children.

Loved-up Susi
looking for someone
searches the acid house attic, looking
for someone in laser lights, someone
to hold, euphorically hold
in drum vibrations,
riding vibrations,
riding the last tube train to Tibet.

Regarding Kay

by Robert Vaughan
She sits there just
waiting just sitting
and waiting...

She talked two lifetimes
worth in fifty years
despite his insults:
blabberpuss, motormouth,
and so on
and so on

In one ear and
out the other

she followed siren
screaming fire trucks
to their destinations
she had a drive
about being perfect
and two critical eyes:

you're not wearing that,
do you have to be such a slob?

A gifted pianist
she would yell corrections
A sharp! Or E Flat!
preparing dinner as
I practiced daily lessons

She couldn't live 
with him
but she did
just as she had
with her abusive father

she couldn't live
without him
but she did
she disappeared daily
more and more in 
his house long before
the home at St. John's

she held grudges
she could be kinder
to strangers than 
loved ones
her letters needed
deciphering with a
fine tooth comb
to discover any warmth
more like tombs
her words
in preparation of a

vacuum into which 
her life fell

she loved Frosted Flakes
quiet family walks
on Sunday afternoons
into Park Lane fields
later developed
raspberry picking for
her notorious berry pies
Swimming and
skiing keeping
her shapely and fit

her breasts shriveled under
husband's insults

Laundry, vacuuming,
cleaning was laborious
and we heard the
laments: the victim,
the oppressed, the
creative juices eeked 
out of her mundane
existence, reduced to
conversations with Rose,
coffee with Shirley,
or Sally

not the life she envisioned
as a promising young 
musician meeting a
divorced dapper doctor
at the ripe age of 21

She fought the move to
the farm in Macedon
much like she fought
the alcoholic husband or
the disappointment of
her children, or the
onslaught of a disease
with a german name
which would rob her
of her august years

not even able to protest
she slipped beneath
the surface of ice
into an abyss
I cannot comprehend
I did not know her
I never really knew her

I never knew her
although I am her
we are all her
in life, and in death 

On Fate and Fortune

by April A.
This northern city with headlights-eyes
Has buried me in its cold and gloom;
You'll see this place in a dreadful guise
And once sweet home will seem a tomb
Once you're aware there's no way out,
Once dreams of youth say goodbye and grin.
It goes farther and makes me doubt
In all the things I have ever seen.
Its blood has turned into ice and snow -
It's endless winter in every heart.
The winds of grief never cease to blow,
The art of grief is the greatest art.
And once in this cradle of dirt and despair
A wandering stranger demanded my mind.
He asked me about this damned northern air
I'd better not breathe - I would leave it behind. 
He said: "I'm in love with this misery, miss.
Destruction is right what we need to create.
True art is in grief, I've been dreaming of this.
My yesterday's fortune's tomorrow's fate.
I know all secrets my destiny knows,
So this boring dwelling won't be a surprise".
I thought: "He's my twin, and it clearly shows".
That evening he opened my widely shut eyes.
A perfect stranger has built a wall
To be a shield from this gloom and lies,
From endless rains of this city's gall 
That falls on me from the shattered skies. 
The wave of feelings can warm the days
Of dull existence in Bitterland
And melt the ice in this rotten place,
In every heart that it's due to mend.
This northern city with headlights-eyes
Has turned us down in its nasty voice
And... brought together. We've paid the price
Of fate to fortune. We've made the choice. 

Tropical Dangers [jaguar 1, whiteman 0]

by Devin Streur
Things that eat whiteman

Things that whiteman eats

Things that leave whiteman alone