Greetings from...the Road to Nowhere

Greetings from...the Road to Nowhere

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