Thursday, March 2, 2017

RENUNCIATION, UKRAINE  After Tolstoy    [Stefanie Bennett]
Best forget why he’s here
And from where he came.
If his step
The blunt black
Of gunfire
Amid the roses...
The Crimea wasn’t a parking-lot – then.
A September suburb
Pummelled by
A double
Or nothing
These days, eavesdroppers
Find him
                             Servile, and
Tell-able words
Into ploughshares;
Into a peace
This vice I keep
is like a limb, blistered
and useless. I swallow
it down a bloody throat,
into a pocket of stubborn hurt. There,
it unmuzzles my scream
and shrouds the sun in tar.
Why do I harvest the fear, the desperation,
in dreams where the bonds of love
collapse and I convulse
in betrayal's shock?
Why won't it go when my lover is true,
and honest tenderness
is the substance of his heart?
This vice I drink like
a hallucinogenic, obscures a living vow.
It has a face like an abscess, reeks
like an earthworm's underground home.
This vice comes cruel
as a hunter's bullet, comes like vinegar
in the eyes, baptizing my nerves
in a thieving rage, until I am
overwrought, fractured, ambushed
by its primal illogical cry.
Chosen Kin
There is something
that binds us to share
our hardships like a team,
to talk for hours, burying
our inner enemies under the grass
of a richer shade.
There is a hawk riding our favourite
window, poems where our coffees sit,
warming our hands, the brittle veins.
There is you with your eccentric
brilliance, your diligent searching
and laughter of open endings.
There is this time given,
living on the same street,
a season in our lives graced,
an offering of salt and sun,
and a trust between that leaves
nothing up the sleeve, housing our hearts
where only family can tread.
Nights With You
After all the marvel has flown
and the egg is minced inside
its nest, I feel you in my sleep
as a babe feels its mother's breast,
or a tribe its evening song.
I feel my skin brushed with gravel,
feel doubt sealing me inside its zoo,
feel my hope sink like money into a reeling sea,
then you with your labyrinth of love,
discover new ways to restore me, to hold me
close to your taut belly and drown
my breathing on your flesh.
I cross through the cabin doors. I soar within
November skies. My secrets are no longer mine.
And morning finds me strong in my footsteps,
patient once more.
The Storm That Saves
So he lives,
watching himself bemused in the mirror.
He lives his life with flying
pine needles and emaciated toads.
He wants to surprise the careful one
who guards against letting go.
He wants to fall at the heels of morning, dive
from branches into the open mouths of children
first learning the meaning of "mine". He is willing
to wrap himself in snake skin, dip his
features in tar, anything to reach
within a scalp and raise perception from
its daily doings.
He is the grave digger, the bee in need of a flower.
He is the body's sex, the yearning
engraved upon each bone,
a doorway in the tenebrous, compelling unknown.
Of Body and Spirit
I seek your mouth
of sensual burning,
its sponge-soft pressure
merging perfectly with mine.
I seek its subtle textures,
its waxing and waning, the way
it condenses my being into
its single substance, into
a movement of focused bloom.
I seek your hair, your blessed smell,
your hip bone rocking like
the whole of the sea over uncharted sands.
I seek your voice sweeping the air
with its rich unconscious moan.
I seek the taking of your hand,
the tension of our bodies balanced
in mutual, animal awakening.
Today I am preserved from the withering chill.
I am held at a hair's length from misery,
but held and still frightened.
Frightened of my pulse
that beats (poor like it is)
in defeat's domain.
All my passions betray
the nurturing hood and spade,
drag me down to horrors that hound, that make
my spirit overflow
with nullifying waters.
But today I am spared
the snarl and self-pity,
spared the blank death that outruns
every attempt to breathe, spared
because I asked for a little faith and
was given.

Allison Grayhurst

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Before reason began
to change my tortured life
I succumbed to passions
that drove me to despair.
Fear, lust, anger, envy,
poisons that possessed me,
smashing my destiny
to shards of sorrow.
I barely escaped
an untimely end
through blind coincidence,
threads of providence
salvaging my future,
allowing opportunity
to  redeem tomorrows.

A mortgage is a contract
between buyer and lender
letting you possess your house
with monthly payments
for twenty or thirty years
until the borrowed amount
as well as the interest
is completely repaid,
Then you own your house.
This allows citizens
as long as they have credit
to buy what they can't afford
and live a better life.

As in all business deals
some flourish, some go broke
in search of the promised dream.
When a few lose their homes
there is little sympathy,
except from friends and family.
No one else seems to care.
When thousands lose their homes
and the credit market collapses
the lords of commerce grow rich
at the expense of the people,
so our feeble congress
gives taxpayers the bill,
while C.E.O's bail out
in golden parachutes.

American Retreat

Violence sweeps the globe
evoking sympathy
in concerned citizens,
but little response
from the overwhelmed.
Iraq, Afghanistan,
cancel the pleas
of Congo, Haiti,
who invoke the help
once shared with the world,
but are facily ignored
by a declining nation.

Declining Days
As the sun begins to set
on another fading empire
that grew with war and theft,
brutally crushing resistance
while calling for democracy,
the world is without pity
for the sufferings to come
in the good old U.S.A.
Despite all our denials
of territorial intent
we held sway over the earth,
proclaiming benevolence
as we consumed the fruits
of other people's labor,
oblivious to our decay.
Rome, Holy Roman Empire,
British Empire, all controlled
the destiny of  nations,
now relics of history
awaiting our presence,
as we rush to join them.

Gary Beck
This Is Crazy Talk

Weird how crazy
can take you in her arms
like a baby,
shake you till blood
pours from your ears
and your bones are as soft
as silver;

but after a few quietened days
peace turns bland
and the silence becomes
a scream and your mind
becomes a carnival

so you need her again,
fingers sewn with razor blades
and a quiet voice whispering

- you know this is real,
don’t you? I am the truth
the world whispers is a lie,
you need me
like to need to breathe -

so you call her up
make a date
soon you’re crying
in her arms again


Snow bruised the black earth
at eight, at nine, 
then ten ‘o’ clock; but by midnight’s bell
it was sliding from the roof
in clumps of iced rain
gleaming under the streetlights.

At two a.m, lacking all sleep 
and all dreaming,
I bare-footed out to breathe
the last breath of another
freeze-dried winter, packing my hands
with dirty ice till they shivered
like the wings of birds
shivering in their sleep:
while the snowball moon 
dripped sour-milk light

I threw snowball after snowball
deep into the snow-black,
hearing nothing of their landfall
over the steady avalanche
slouching from the gutter.

Shuffling indoors to demand sleep
from a bottle, I wondered
how many more mis-fired winters
I might limp through before
the rain froze hard enough
to icebox me away. And while 
the white-toothed moon
laughed at my back
I dreamed of a factory
that stored snow in paper sacks

while winter died,
and my iceberg drifted away.

A Delicate Operation 

Doc, I need a scalpel
to ooze away the fat,
slice through
the anxious membrane.
Scalp the terror
of my own front door,
sever the nerve in my tongue 
that makes it stutter
and creep, prune the dictionary
to a few choice phrases
pared to the brittle bone:

but all you prescribe
are tiny white snowballs,
solid lumps of clay
mouldering at their core.

I need a marksman, 
but instead you fling grenades
into the infected zone,
hoping one of them
takes out the enemy
without exploding 
in my hands. Doc I need 
a scalpel; but you only 
give me a hammer.


we are the people
born without skin

light rain storms us
words lightning us
breezes dash our ships
onto rocks
we are birds pelted
by spit from trees
your eyes are anchors
we cannot raise
your smiles
barbed wire lashes
your world a cemetery 
your laws a babel

you need us
to try so hard
to come in

but we are the people
born without skin
we cannot bear to loose
the little we have left
so we hide in the shadow
of every raindrop
every punishing glisten
of snow

we attract no reward
if found wandering in the street

all you can do
is judge yourselves
by how little
you leave us alone

In The Black 

I step inside and close the door,
leaving the light switch alone.
There’s a faint blue glow
from the printer by my desk,
a envelope of light under the door, 
but that’s it: I’ve locked myself 
in the windowless office
and stand as part of the gloom. 
The telephone is road kill with two legs
in the air, the computers
microwave ovens with nothing
left to roast: the corner desks 
are fresh-dug graves, those lamps 
bend their heads to rest 
beneath the stars, floodlights so distant 
we’ll never know whom 
they light.

But here I stand breathing out
the light, crying out
look at all this folly you have made;
listen to how fast you make
your heart beat, how deeply
you knife-wound yourself with weapons
the daylight pays you to make.
Why not hide them away
in the backs of those that need them
and come out in the night
to play? I wish I could; 

but they have made me
so well, these daylight men, 
that the only night I own
is here at the end of the day,
when the sun bleats its little light
like a sheep whose dam has died,
and the little pride I feel 
is little enough to stand me here 
in this imaginary gloom, where I fill 
the abyss of promised slaughter 
simply by holding my breath when a stranger
knocks on the door, hello, hello?
- there’s nobody here but me.

Wishing Well

I wish I had no eyes
- the blind man said:
then I wouldn’t raise my brow
when I feel the sun on my lids
and remember how it felt
to walk into a summer morning
and see the rising heat
ripple women’s bodies
like skirts of summer winds.

I wish I had no ears
- the deaf man said:
then I wouldn’t turn my lobes
towards the blur of your lips
and scatter words like seeds;  remember
car doors slamming at midnight,
the whispered kiss of a glove; the blessed silence
when you hush the light
and hear your heart beat
its soft waterfall beat.

I wish I had no legs
- the man in the wheelchair said:
they’re a ballast weight
in a hot-air balloon
I can never throw over, never feel
that one pure moment
when clouds run at you like morning breath
no-one has breathed before you;
and you wonder why skies never have names
the way seas and rivers do, 
and how you might name them
if only you knew them.

I wish I was dead
- the live man muttered: I have eyes,
I have ears, I have legs
but I never see far into those skies,
never hear a silence louder
than my breath; never walk
further than I need to
on perfect summer days
when the rippled sun is bodied heat
and tears freeze before they fall
on my hands, my precious hands;

- my hands are open wide.
Ian Mullins