Greetings from...the Road to Nowhere

Greetings from...the Road to Nowhere

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Black Gold, or The Sea of Tears

By Raphaelle O'Neil

My heart, an open wound once flooded, and since recovered,
Bleeds again, and now is covered in Black Gold.
Not the black and gold that brought us the victory
That signaled our new place in this city’s history,
But the Black Gold whose poison bleeds as the world watches
A new nightmare, slowly, but surely, unfold.

Something wicked this way comes,
Leaving a trail of tar baby birds in its wake,
As it gushes, seeping endlessly into the sea.
Not even our sea of tears can jerk us awake,
Nor help us unmake this mistake.

As the tides bring us closer to this unfurling disaster,
The winds carry with them a toxic scent that whispers,
And begs us to remember,
The shrill promise of “Drill, baby, drill!”

But, no, all is not well.
For even while I can still make believe that it is,
This endless well from hell, spills, and spills.
Black Gold has only begun washing up on our shores,
On our beds, on our schools,
Washing away with it the dreams that used to fill
Our bellies and our hearts,
While what was once our dearly beloved way of life,
Turns, yet again, into strife.

Yes, some of us can still pretend, but till when?
As horror draws near, how are we to defend
That which is most dear? As lies try to reduce our fears,
It becomes clear (unlike our waters),
Things won’t be the same again, at least not for years.

Meanwhile, the men who tried cutting corners,
All in the name of saving time and some dollars,
Are now trying to save their own collars.
The Black Gold is theirs, as well as the shame,
Yet still they try to keep their good name,
By dispersing and hiding the evidence,
And pointing fingers, displacing the blame.

How exactly are we supposed to take comfort
When asked to trust those who unleashed this mess,
To tell the truth, for once, and do what’s best
Letting them lead in the effort to recover?
Time and time again has shown, when left to their own, They only protect their self interest!

So, waiting for this sad story and toll to be fully told,
We hold our breath,
As worthless Black Gold approaches,
And encroaches its tenacious fingers into our harbors,
And engulfs our Gulf, and that of our neighbors.

O, would that our sea of tears be enough to replace this sea of death!

Love Song

by Rebecca Gaffron

Bottle blue rolls over dirty walls, now primed and waiting for Pictish patterns. You are the only Scot in me. And you are in me, deep in my bones and blood. We are held together by sparkle and spit, by old songs sung by pixie children. Us, couched in resolve and pain, a single hair’s breadth standing between sweet-perfect union and oblivion. But that is as it ever was. Nothing’s changed except the clarity of our vision.

Bottle blue coats my fingers. I smile at this Scot-like brand, relieved to have found it, to know it blazes even when I’m too blind to feel and too hurt to see. You still warm me like Lagavulin. I squeeze my fist shut, longing for your opposite polarization. I thirst for purrs. Or gray-green tears. Whichever you choose to offer. And know that I have fallen in love again.


By A.J. Kaufmann

Virtue clouds expand
think, serve symphonies
obliquely well, black yawning
aspiration – world through birth with mountain-billows immortal
iron scraps, white and hot, scarlet in fire and hail
restless boats pass, quiet
through a steely, sudden motionless Night
melting, sour squeamish pretence to fail
retorts, boom city noise
pierced misty rainbows
bleed their leaves all over the station,
drag forces, cleft smoke, haste love
spare dusks bend, crack pavement roses
in putrid sleep, dark tops of greed
against the poet’s distance, folk immune to infection
blur transfers, monotonous books
smell like time, licking the smoke
while somewhere beside the shops, hate-lives healing rain
jokey beggars ooze across the years
with the boatmen of seasons


by Glen Binger

When the dusty fifteen inch television grows boring
And the three day old magazines smell of sweaty palms
I tend to doze off into
The most deranged and completely
Insignificant dreamscapes.
No matter where my mind
Goes, there is always this desiring notion to
Repair something that isn’t really broken.
Or ruined.
Or even damaged at all.
Maybe it’s because of this haunting
Dependence I have on medication that isn’t mine.
Recently, however, I’ve been filling my stomach with violet-blue pills before I get to the
Emergency room with a piece of tattered paper stapled to my shirt that
Advertises the stench of day old vomit each time. And
Maybe each time this note says, “Please…
Save me,” but I can’t ever remember what I write; I’m too busy trying to breathe.

The Patron Saint of Unaccountable Muses

by Jessica Otto

The lady is an iron vulture, a
drunken shadow teetering

on the edge of the shore line,
voted most likely to trip

over a horseshoe crab.
She was throttled and hung

from a phallic cactus when
the stock market crashed

for the second time.
No one stayed around for her

resurrection, no one
watched her catch a crow in mid

take off, stick two fingers down
its throat and pop her eyeball

out of its broken beak.
She kept the noose for its neo-hippie look

and moved into an alley off of
Capitol Street. Last I saw of her

she was feeding the stray cats
slightly green slices off her right

arm and passing out cigarettes
to the working girls.


By Loretta Franta

When Doe got out of prison I saw her on the street and she said
--What’s up, my little white bitch?
That’s how she talked to me so I didn’t blink.
Five foot three, bright skinned, beautiful till she opened her mouth.
Like they say, drop dead beautiful.
Short for Doretha.
Nobody was supposed to know.
She’d been set up.
Some violation.
Probably about money.
She went to downstate women’s prison when six months pregnant.
It was nothing new—jail or pregnant.
When her time got close, she got transferred out of general population to Cook County Jail Hospital.
She delivered a boy.
Then they called Shorty the father.
Shorty: because whenever he went to buy a bag he was always short.
Nobody cared because he was such a good customer.
He put his driver’s license in his back right pocket, borrowed my car and took two women.
They both worked for him so they didn’t really have a choice.
Shorty parked on California Avenue.
Nita and Millie didn’t come in.
They waited in the car, high as kites.
At the hospital, Doe and Shorty had ten minutes together, tops, without the three-inch glass between them.
It wasn’t much of a conversation.
Shorty signed a Department of Corrections receipt and swore he had someone in the car to hold the baby home.
Then a deputy handed Shorty the baby.
He smiled at the baby until the elevator hit the first floor.
He walked back to the car and handed the baby to Millie in the back seat.
Nita was in the front to keep Shorty awake for the drive back.
42 minutes, start to finish.
That’s what they give you.
On the way home, Shorty burned out the clutch.
--What’s up, my little white bitch?
--Not much. You owe me six hundred bucks.