Thursday, July 8, 2021

 

OBLIVIOUS

‘I could have a heart attack

or some kind of seizure

during the night and die

and you wouldn’t be aware

because you’re out of your

fucking head on drugs and

wine: crashed-out and

oblivious to everything

around you’

I agreed silently and

said ‘Yeah, okay’

‘So how would you feel,

waking up and finding

me lying cold dead next

to you?’

I paused for thought:

‘Pretty shitty’ I said:

‘So you wouldn’t feel

like a selfish, inward

careless asshole?’ she

asked:

‘I’ve felt like that for

decades’ I answered,

‘I’m a poet’ I said:

she shook her head

in doubt.

‘Another fucking

delusion’ she said.


THE TREE

He must have walked

by that tree countless

times,

noted a thick branch

high up and knew

that he would find

his freedom:

although related we

weren’t close but had

drank together on

plenty of occasions:

he adored

wild-life and

surrendered time and

money to this passion,

he worked and

wandered, loved and

lost and finally

found his life

empty, worthless,

useless, painful:

two young girls

found him one

morning,

hanging from that

tree, that branch

that took him

to a place where

he would hurt

no more.


DUST DARE

I’ve slept with too

many ghosts,

woken beneath

sheets damp with

ancient rituals,

showered in the

sleet of

morning and held

hands with

ancestors of

night

and now I am so

fragile that

even the dust

dare not approach

me, leaving me

safe as ever

in the shades

of a time when

beauty

was in her

infancy.


IN THE FIRST PLACE

‘Where are you going?’

his mother asked:

‘I’m going into town

to get drunk with a few

friends’ he answered:

‘Tell me, where are you

going?’ she asked again:

‘I just told you ma, I’m

going into town to get

drunk with a few friends’

he said:

‘I’m going to ask you

one more time, or else

 I’ll get your father’

his mother demanded:

‘Okay ma, I’m going to

sniff some glue and get

high in the park’ he said:

‘Well, why didn’t you

tell me that in the first

place!’ she said before

closing the door,

satisfied.


SMOKING HEAVEN

‘Do you think you can

smoke grass in Heaven?’

he asked seriously

and he repeated

himself endlessly

and one time he

asked me and I

told him:

‘Fucking sure,

you’ve heard the

story of the

weeding of the

5000?’

he nodded his

head furiously,

‘Yes, Yes!’

he said

and he never

asked that

question again.

John D Robinson

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Danger Zone

City people

grow lax and casual

provided with amenities

to get from place to place

and frequently don’t notice

hazards of the streets,

cracks, potholes, construction,

red light jumpers,

many tuned out

listening to IPODS,

many texting,

all at imminent risk

from unexpected dangers.


Perceptions

In 1980

Bryant Park was a cesspool

of illegal drugs,

junkies, dealers, muggers,

prostitutes, criminals,

concealed from the public

behind tall bushes

surrounding the park.

Only the unwary entered.

But if you time traveled

to 2018

you’d find a neat pocket jewel

that pleases all users

and you’d never know

the woes besetting the people,

the erosion of democracy,

the declining middle class,

the disappearance of jobs,

a growing poverty population,

on a warm, spring day

in Bryant Park.


Adaption

The temperature is almost 100F.

Some people are sniveling,

complain bitterly about the heat.

But it’s not the Sahara

and for one day, city folk

could stop griping.

Oases are everywhere.

Water is plentiful

and the odds are probable

that few will die

from one hot day.


Activism

All the protests we believe in

meant to improve the system

rarely change things for the better,

just allow us a means of complaint

as we passionately object

to a succession of abuses

by the lords of profit,

who do  not care

about the rest of us.


Continuation

The last week of summer,

hot, hazy, still full of life.

The birds are singing.

They may or may not know

winter is coming

and many will not see spring.

Soon the land will go to sleep

with no guarantee

it will wake up again,

just the thoughtless assumption

that life continues

despite the ravages of man.

Gary Beck

Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director and worked as an art dealer when he couldn't earn a living in the theater. He has also been a tennis pro, a ditch digger and a salvage diver. His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway. His poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and his published books include 31 poetry collections, 14 novels, 3 short story collections, 1 collection of essays and 4 books of plays. Published poetry books include:  Dawn in Cities, Assault on Nature, Songs of a Clerk, Civilized Ways, Displays, Perceptions, Fault Lines, Tremors, Perturbations, Rude Awakenings, The Remission of Order, Contusions, Desperate Seeker and Learning Curve (Winter Goose Publishing). Earth Links, Too Harsh For Pastels, Severance, Redemption Value, Fractional Disorder, Disruptions, Ignition Point and Resonance (Cyberwit Publishing Forthcoming: Turbulence). Forthcoming: ‘Motifs’ (Adelaide Books). His novels include Extreme Change (Winter Goose Publishing). State of Rage, Wavelength, Protective Agency, Obsess and Flawed Connections (Cyberwit Publishing. Forthcoming: Still Obsessed and). His short story collections include: A Glimpse of Youth (Sweatshoppe Publications). Now I Accuse and other stories (Winter Goose Publishing). Dogs Don’t Send Flowers and other stories (Wordcatcher Publishing). Collected Essays of Gary Beck (Cyberwit Publishing). The Big Match and other one act plays (Wordcatcher Publishing). Collected Plays of Gary Beck Volume 1 and Plays of Aristophanes translated, then directed by Gary Beck and Collected Plays of Gary Beck Volume II (Cyberwit Publishing. Forthcoming: Four Plays by Moliere translated then directed by Gary Beck and Collected Plays of Gary Beck Volume III). 

Monday, May 3, 2021

 

Zen Seagal

 

Just like your dreams,

Steven Seagal is Hard

to Kill. The slower he fights

the more the villain's punches

land in empty space,

as though he's throwing them

from a different time zone,

or an older edit of the movie.

 

Always one step step ahead

by being one step behind,

Seagal slo-mo's through a world

perpetually in fast forward,

until the bad guy moves

so fast that our hero becomes

invisible to his speed,

and he cannot separate Seagal

from a rock or a tree;

then wonders why he feels

the kick he never sees coming.

 

One day Seagal will make

a movie where he stands still

and says nothing: with no one

to fight and nothing to lose,

the villain will despair

and fall down at his feet.

 

Why in such a hurry

to wipe out the world?

Seagal will ask him.

All you have to do is wait.

 

Blame Game

 

 

Bucket of vodka,

twelve red bulls
and a pack of pro-plus

raise the stakes but not
the game: no matter
how fast you spin
one day you
ll wake up here;
a bust piece of scrap
mainlining oil and blood,
all the plasma they can spare
to keep you out there
calling the shots


till the line goes flat
and your connection
s dead;

you’ll check out
never knowing if
you played your hand
or it played you,

either way youre out of here;

through with bottled beers

and blow jobs.

 

Its not a matter of the good book
versus the bad look, Jesus grappling
with Lolita; just the uneasy reckoning
of how much you
re willing to lose
to get high: a long life sitting

like a waste basket
in the corner of the office

versus the shortfall pension
of flooding the tank
with a blindfold over your eyes
and telling yourself keep going.

Either way youll crash out

where you knew youd ditch

all along. Every mans
a brave coward, but every bed
s
a death bed. Every road
detours here behind the house
of ashes where you smoke


your last smoke,
but only the clouds are getting high.

 

Laughin’ Lenny

 

Leonard Cohen Live

 

 

Between ‘nearly dead’
and ‘not dead yet’
is a sliver of silence
thinner than a vinyl groove:

but here you must work
to prosper the IRS,
straightening your tie

and tilting your hat

once more from the top;

 

knowing there never is,

never was, such hallowed turf.

All of the now you stake a claim to
is here: the smile on your face

as they pronounce your name

as though invoking an old god,
believed long deceased.


Remixed by the asking,

the telling, the need
of the songs for someone

to sing them as they themselves

would sing. Once more

from the top, old friends.

 

Stop The Count

 

 

See this towel? I threw it in

years ago to spare myself

another beating; but the crowd

is still screaming and the cornerman

whos watching my back

yells attack, attack!

as I back away from the barrage,

wondering how much more

my body can take before

it sinks to its knees

 

or I can throw myself down

and out, judging the crowd has

smelled enough blood

to offer mercy; hoping they wont

look too closely as I climb from the ring

knowing the real fight

has barely begun; that the bell they ring

before they announce the verdict

is only calling out my next bout.

And every judges scorecard will agree

I lost to the better man.

 

A Small Price

 

 

I dont take it

to get high

 

I take it to feel alive

briefly one of you

instead of one

of me

 

someone who might

reach through

the mirror

and come out

the other side

feeling so alive

theyll never want to

come back

 

  until one day

Ill be done with dying

the same way

Im done with living

 

and Ill find out

how you feel

when you launch a firework

from a high window

I can only fire

from the ground

 

 – find if death seems

a small price to pay

to finally be free

of the dreaming

 

Along For The Ride

 

 

Whos in charge here?

Not me; all I do is

ride the runaway horse

and heave on the reins

till he comes to a halt

and I can pretend

my pulling stopped him;

 

when the truth is he runs

where he wants to run,

and the best I can do

is coax and drag

 

till he gets bored and stamps

to a halt a few yards

from the cliff both of us

are tempted to plunge over

and lie motionless

on the shoreline; rocking horses

going nowhere fast. 

Ian Mullins 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

 Consecrated

 

 

In a murky limpid place

you speak to me, vanquish my

anxieties with your radiant flame,

speak and say

the circumference is the sphere, is the line

and the space beyond

the sphere.

 

Cruelty is natural, mercy takes effort,

choice, consciousness.

Accepting mercy takes even more, a leap

out of the perpetual karma-shadows, a daring

to be without a past or a people or pebble stones

in your shoes.

 

You speak and say

succumb, and I will take your greed of self-knowledge,

all of your knowing, intelligence, reduce it to vapour,

collapse your preconceptions with the tranquility of

the first morning, and you will praise me with the wonder

of all who are newborn, without guise or storages.

 

Fall down, you say, to your hands and knees.

Look up, you say, to the charity of the sky.

Your being that was before is burned.

 

You say, love,

and I will be your restitution,

your water, your vortex, your art.

 

 

 

 

 

Episodes, cascading

 

 

Phoebus Apollo, cascade your light

around the dreary onlookers singing,

singing for the smooth edges of their many cracked bones,

for their children moving off the jagged rocks,

for the perishing of wasps in autumn,

and for the loss of those who pretended their hearts were pure.

 

Twice I fell away from all I knew.

Twice in one year the earthquake-volcano-tsunami

erupted, sickening my house, my loved ones

and all my belongings.

 

There I bent like a moist twig,

rose out of the waters, slug-like, cold like

the first touch of hot hot fire.

 

Once more God’s name is intricate, exact,

washing me aimless in my once

spiritual certainties.

 

Once more, every bridge is broken, the waters

swell, jut onto, swallowing, the shore.

 

My fear is a razor frantically cutting.

My panic is plural, multiplying,

tightening its barb-wire around my chest, throat,

and my eyes are hurting, pinprick pain when they open,

my eyes when they open

have gone silent, silent, blank.

 

 

 

 

 

Down Stream

 

 

Savage poison

eclipsing the Wolf moon.

Time is putrid, embracing me

like an impending slaughter.

 

Can’t stop the attack no matter

how hard I strain, or promise

to defend the purity of my thoughts.

It will come to no good end, going on

to this end, head in a block wrench,

dreams staggering crippled

out of sight.

 

Come back before

I smash my back

on a long fall down the stairs,

into the darkness, past purgatory,

past the tragically resigned.

Come on, enough of this fated disaster.

For months now I’ve held my own,

held my head high, praised

every morning with directed action.

I can’t go back, picking through the rotting carnage,

pretending, giving energy to the pretense,

when my energy is sacred, belongs

to you O God and nothing else.

 

Please save me from this hissing atrocity,

this lethal succubus and the flashing behind

my eyes - the gigantic war inside,

knife wielding, piercing, rein-less

and the dark blood pain.

Please O God and Jesus, breathe your light

into me, fully. Let me love you the best I can.

Is there anything I can do? Is there any chance

for a miracle?

 

The shades are being pulled. The dungeon steps

are steep and I am heading down,

into that familiar filthy chamber.

Please take my hand, O God, lead me

into the open air and say “Go on your way -

you are mine, no longer a stranger.

 

 

 

 

 

No grief, No madness

 

 

See yourself with real eyes,

there is no need for useless mythology.

The winter has come, the plants have died.

In spring they will take root and begin

to show promise. Just like you,

nothing magical –

 

You swell in times of joy

and deflate in times of sorrow,

stitching the inflatable boat.

 

This is your seat, accept it.

The struggle is the dream,

a hot order of suffering, unnecessary.

 

Stand up, kiss the Buddha and sit down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What were you as a man Aristotle?

 

           Bend the mind in fifteen different places

to pull out a particular, that

at the moment of capture,

shifts form and demands further

adaptation.

           Summersault

through definitions, substances,

entities - modeling God

on unity, and evil on chaos.

           What genius generates such a mind,

dilemmas purely in abstraction -

a voice swimming in a multi-layered

vortex of ideas and sophisticated vocabulary,

adept at defining, circulating, making movement,

unparalleled density in each paragraph,

in each line of unmatched cerebral dexterity?

           So I found you and I don’t know how

to take you in, if I can, but your observations

of elemental spirituality are exciting, and each read

is a like long dive into a living coral reef-barrier -

colours alien, animals sublime - both prey and predators,

proficient in the art of survival, and the energy!

Take me in -

           if what I thought would take a week,

takes months, and I sift through

your summits and grooves slowly, tasting

sugar, sour wine, touching

the tips of wings from the flight of many birds zipping

around my atmosphere at capacity - sometimes

as shadows, sometimes showing their bright plumage,

and those times I can glimpse, participate

in your singular reasoning, hear a man’s voice

labouring under metaphysical complexities

and bend my mind to the cyclone of your gospel,

spinning, upside down but in perfect order -

           maker of an intellectual sermon,

thinker uncorrupted, unlike your mentor Plato was

with his didactic prejudices, with his what-fors

his where-fors - but you!

           piecing out the divine,

making meals, ideals without rigidity,

chaptering out the primitive and the holy combined

with your plying, delving, ricocheting symphony

investigation.

 

 

 

 

 

The Peace of Angels

 

 

I will release to receive

the peace of angels.

 

I will count the changes

as realizations, tip over

the radicalized, and be singular

in my transcendence.

 

Purpose is a translation. Within

are experiences discarded

or validated by memories.

 

Floating or being summoned

are counterweights, dangerous to stand

anywhere

but in the middle.

 

Loss is a hot vapour - burns as it first rises

and then, no more.

Love is everything - fills a moment

with the breath of eternity.

 

I will find the colour that draws me

the closest and I will choose it.

I will release the rest, know this surrender

as an exhale, a baptism to witness

that splits the sky.

 

 

 

 

 

Blinding

 

 

Unyielding heat

joined to the glowing trees

and take-away flowers.

 

My pleasure is broken

like a dream when waking.

 

Today I vanquish my delusions, eat

the green strawberry and circle

my loneliness, ghostly but growing

bones and ligaments.

 

My choice feels like a crime

when there are only some I can help save,

when my soft embrace must yield to stiff arms

 

and August has just begun -

no shade, no signs of rain.


Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Five times nominated for “Best of the Net”, 2015/2017/2018, she has over 1300 poems published in over 500 international journals. She has 21 published books of poetry, five collections and six chapbooks.

  OBLIVIOUS ‘I could have a heart attack or some kind of seizure during the night and die and you wouldn’t be aware because you’r...