Tuesday, December 30, 2008



Again the birds hide --it's waves
that are flying, that saw my mast
hauling away the Earth
--a hole struck my roof
and these joists again
dripping like the ribs Jonah cursed

--no bird noticed
though the notes in my throat
even the rain understands
and answers :the leak
meaty :a nest for a wasp
almost ready to sing like other birds
to eat without being cursed and bloodied

--for such a birth the sky
fills first, I climb
with blankets, milk, prepare my attic desk
--the wasp at least be taught like the hawk
to plumb, baptize its kill
to bang its head till the joists
tighten the roll in and out the sharp cornice
the sunken dark

then up and up and up
that it might hear its feathers --no bird
moves in or dives past
to teach the angle and the rate
--only these waves flying
from an Earth towed half under
listing, battered, swamped
as a migrant drenched on a ledge
will drift off from the crowd
from the grasping loneliness
that warps even water

--for such a beginning the rain
leans down instinctively
nursing these beams as if new leaves
would reach, hungry and fierce
and this wasp almost ready
almost a green song its tongue
already afraid to drink, to listen
afraid, as if making paper

--for such a beginning the word
comes too, reads from those leviathan jaws
the wasp dreads even in its egg :the leak
will stay! the wasp drink best it can
whiten its own teeth with feathers and bones
and my throat, write where it can.

These stones flattened
as feathers almost too heavy
lift the Earth to the dawn
it feeds on :another sun
eaten alive, by evening

a hill, stretching and the light
halfway down its throat --these gravestones
the sweptback wings
no light flies past, the moon
bundled in this dark
almost escaped --these birds

half stone, half wind
monstrous! the fire they steal
is never enough and looks at stars
more feathers, these birds

ache as if I were once one
and every morning the ground
lifts my eyes and I wake
not sure why it tastes like stone

or this churchyard
still cringing under my headlights
my skidmarks that claw
then blanket the cry for food
that couldn't wait for morning.

It was bleeding from both ears :each morning
lifts too much, takes on weight
and I crawl as snow carries its light
to where the Earth is already cold
and stays at our graves

--I must have been once a stone :a patch
still trying to muffle the Earth's first bone
its gagging moan everywhere --how else
will each morning stir into worth
into mercy and memory and bring

more fire :the Earth's first meal
as every stone still calls out
for breath, for mouths and kisses
--every stone gone deaf, never empty again.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Just a Place
by Robert Cardos

Talk about him. Why does he do what he does? How does he do it? Is he smiling, or is there a bit of crookedness that is upturned in his face to make the appearance? Jones was sitting in the museum, watching the janitor as he swept either carefully or without consciousness, he couldn't decide which. He was in the lobby, still outside the ticket vendor and unsure if he would even rise to purchase a ticket to enter. He had walked there from 123rd Street, but it wasn't really a destination so much as where he'd ended up after walking for a while. Though he had a curiosity about the museum, his first thoughts upon entering were to find a vending machine and a place to sit down (what is the museum? is the type of museum important? could it be symbolic in a postmodern sort of way? The distance of the museum from 123rd street could say numbers—or words). As he ate a granola bar, chewing laboriously, he noticed the museum janitor working. He was cleaning the floor, treaded upon by myriad tourists and academics alike and that would continue to be trodden after he was done and so it would go incessantly until he quit, was fired, retired or died. He thought about the life of the janitor. He performed a necessary task within the context of the museum—but what else? How could he justify his existence in the sweeping of floors and the sanitation of toilets? He didn't look enthused with his position—hell, he didn't even look aware of it.

"Excuse me, sir, what do you think?"
"Think what?"
"What do you think?" The janitor didn't reply, looking confused, and Jones walked away. It made sense.


"Excuse me, sir, what do you think?
"Think what?"
"What do you think?"
"What kinds of thoughts?"
"That's none of your business," said the janitor, and he turned away and returned to his work. And that also made sense. Jones turned around and looked at the bench he'd walked from, a marble protrusion rising from the ground into the rectangular polygon. The geometry was oddly stunning, and the angle a view and lighting of the instance made Jones wish he were a camera, that he might set the aperture small and the shutter fast and preserve the image sharp and crisp forever.
Jones went up a bought a ticket from a teller whose existence he found equally difficult to justify, though her occupation was a might more sterile than the janitor's, and walked into the Museum of Seminal Persons.

He looked at Beethoven, Charles Darwin, and Rothko—men of discipline, accomplishment and immortality. They'd each branded the world with their own seal and they would never die. Jones was fairly certain that he would never die himself—though it was difficult to say in which way he was certain: that of the naïve child untouched by death or the adult who has redefined what death and immortality is—and perhaps even during his lifetime he would become a seminal person in his own right, though he couldn't say through what.

What about Jones? Why should we give a shit about him? All he's done so far is infantilize other people without qualifying himself. He was tall and young, and sometimes that is enough. The education played a part, making him more eloquent and well-versed in the likes of Plato, Aristotle and Dostoevsky than most, and he even did well when he was being taught, earning high marks and the like, and that certainly played a part in his audacity. But mostly it was that brash youth, the thought that despite the overwhelming statistic Jones was not going to die, much less was he going to die unknown and unacknowledged. He was a student on his way to his doctorate, a dissertation started on latent connections between postmodern literature and ancient philosophical writings and myths. He would be an academic for life and publish groundbreaking critical theory that would dance and transverse the realms of literature and philosophy simultaneously, for though he felt the two were separate disciplines he always reveled in their intersection. He liked to say that ordinary things meant something significant when they didn't, because it sounded impressive and made the human experience seem richer. (Is the author being ironic?)
He wondered what the janitor thought. Did either conversation really happen? What if the second one happened? What were his thoughts? What went on in that mind that could hold him for eight hours a day all week long? What would Jones do if his life were something other than the study of literature, reading an array of books sporadically throughout the day, thinking about them during the interim and trying to malleate their meanings in new and interesting ways? Jones thought about what he might do if he had a nine to five, if he were relegated to performing the same tasks during the same eight hours each day—the grind. That's what they called it: the grind. Such a grotesque cliché.

He stared at a spreadsheet for eight hours with a look of stern criticism, as if to stare down the data before him into coherence and submission. He filed through a stack of papers and memos for the numbers he needed and typed them in whenever someone would walk by, but when no one was near he would just sit and stare bleary eyed at the computer screen and wait to lose his sight. He thought he might go blind and then maybe he wouldn’t have to plug numbers into hard drives like some kind of torpid peon, but then he also worried they may just give him a computer that operated in Braille—surely such things existed—and he would not be delivered from anything but his ability to see the beauty of the landscape, the concrete expanses of the city or the face of his wife, yet to exist even as a potentiality. His eyes darted down to the clock as his manager walked by and he rustled some papers looking for the next number he would enter. Five minutes had passed since the last time.
Some people who did such things had master’s degrees, Jones thought. Learning wasn’t a way out, and further it could only exacerbate if it wasn’t a solution to the drudge of daily existence and unjustified presence.

But all this pensiveness and no explanation. Character it’s all about. The struggle has only shown us one person and a vague interaction with the world around him. How can you care about a man who is not human? Oh an intellectual but that doesn’t necessarily make you nice or even interesting. It’s not all about the one hundred dollar words and transcendental struggles with self and other. Put him into conversation with the janitor. He walked up to Jones and said “You’ve a lot of balls to come up and pry into my life like that. Who the hell do you think you are?”
“Excuse me?” taken aback by his frankness.

“You know, I work pretty hard doing this. It may not be the most appealing job or the smartest, but I care about it, okay? How I make my living is my business, and maybe I take pride in it. Just because I’m not some kind of genius like you or whatever doesn’t mean I’m not a man.” So audaciously blue collar. There’s a lot more human and interesting about him if you’re only around him a while. His name is Hank, a classic, but his name tag says Henry because that’s more proper and he’s not personal with anybody in the museum. He who knows him calls him Hank—not just he, but she too, like his wife. He had a family in a small rowhouse in Brooklyn. It was just him and his wife now, but for a while his children were there too, and he had great ones—two boys—who liked the outdoors and went to the park and played baseball and catch with the dog, when the dog was still around, until they grew up and got wives and families and dogs of their own. He’d been at the museum as a janitor for twenty-five years now and could honestly say he was glad for it. Sure it was a bit of a dirty job but it was an honest one. He didn’t think he was better than anybody and somehow that made him better than everybody.

What could he say? He being either of them. Both were taken aback, Jones by the force of the janitor’s attack and the janitor by his own audacity. Jones would never do this but what if he complained, the janitor wondered? He could lose his job. He was old, there were always young men who could take his place. His dismissal on such grounds would exempt the museum from paying anything outside of a very basic unemployment. He knew what that would mean and didn’t think his wife or children would have it. His dog was dead now and he didn’t want to see his son’s dog daily for it might remind him.

Jones for his own part, the part he must play, was thinking about just “who the hell he thought he was,” and his “balls” (he would have preferred “nerve,” but vernacular is what it is) and why he was here in the first place. The postmodernist would eschew the meaning, but then they would always do that, and in truth if all they do is eschew meaning then they’re just writing a lot about nothing and then why is Jones so concerned about connecting the postmodern to ancient philosophy, which was so concerned with finding out something with the meager pith of the mind about life? Garbled tenses, rough drafts are shit. These are things to think about sometimes.
The stare down, the timidity:

They look at each other confused because neither knows what the other will say next. No one wants to make the move because none knows what the move will be, let alone what it is supposed to be. Jones gets caught in the fading eyes of the janitor, once a deeper blue, and the janitor focuses on the stubble of Jones’ chin, unwilling to look into the dark auburns for fear of the incendiary bombs exploding within them. He’s trying to humble himself while taking a stand. And no, it doesn’t mean anything important really, not in the long run. But how this turns is going to affect both for the rest of the day latently at the very least and overtly at the most extreme. The mood is everything and it doesn’t matter how trivial its origin for it is often that a paper cut does the worst damage. Days weeks months from now this may be forgotten but it will have always happened to them it will have always existed even if it ceases to exist in their minds.
One thousand cells die; one thousand cells duplicate. The janitor scratches his arm and Jones runs his hands through his hair. They do an awkward laugh that is rather comical and most assuredly contrived. “Sorry” the janitor says, playing humble, “I shouldn’t have snapped at you like that.”
“The more I think about it, the more realize it might have been rude of me to ask you that.”
“It was rude, but I was rude also.”
“I guess that means we break even.”
“I guess so.”

They stare at each other again, figuring the math, and the janitor ran his hands over his balding head and Jones scratched his arm. They laugh awkwardly again. They could end it, say “see you” and move on into their disparate lives, but for some inexplicable reason (could it be explicable? What should be explicated—this could be important) their eyes stay concentrated, now at one another and now the janitor sees those dark auburns that have softened since their first encounter.
(Too late) “You don’t come here often. I know all the regulars—the professors and students and such—and I’ve never seen you.”
“No, this is my first time here.”
“What brings you?”
“Nothing really. I was out. It was just a place.”
“You’re right. It is just a place.”
A little bit about myself in the third person: Benjamin Nardolilli is twenty three years old and lives in New York where he looks for work and inspiration. He is originally from Arlington, VA. His work has appeared in Perigee, Farmhouse Magazine, Heroin Love Songs, The Delmarva Review, The Houston Literary Review and Perspectives Magazine. He maintains a blog at mirrorsponge.blogspot.com.

1. Back Into The Dynamo

Dropping sparks and embers
All conversations break
All footsteps pile upIn the name of wantWant spins this place
Want comes even to the sleeping
Affects those in dark windows
There are screams
Bed turnings
Sheets toppled like despots
It serves them rightHow an they sleep
While so much is bright
While these streets
Refuse to release the day? Want and Want
Trampling need
Simple desire
Complicated demands with no rest
Ears want musicLoud, loud music,
For lack of a heart to listen to,
They all turn to thumps
And humps of sound around me,
Loud pillows, but no rest for them
Each one occupies a corner
And the corners multiply around them
Until the whole worldPasses them by, but not
Without looking at them first,
And what they have transported.
Who revolts?
Only the one with three dollars?
No mouth reaches outs
No throat warms with a song
To tempt three dollars,
To pierce the heavy pocket.

2. December Night Street to sneakers

Beat the night air,
Beat it until the moonlight is bleeding
I’ve got a family of strangers
What savings we have
We let out
Into these streams
Some sing together
And a few dance
Slow and groping,
The conductor
Is absent,
I keep up the percussion.

3. Our Discontent

The Kremlin in flames,
Onion domes roast in the distance,
They are the lucky ones,
Prepared for the winter.
Prague’s streets are empty,
Chicago won’t bother
About the blood and Paris
Returns to work.
One of their own dead,
They sing Latin and dig around
Until they find soft enough earth
To lay his bones in place of another.
A victory from a cloud,
Beakers held carefully,
Goggles worn in earnest,
White coats still not questioned.

4. Shelter From Beautiful Things

The earth is even now,
And the winds blow back with me,
With such warm breath,
Gently untying coats, removing
Gloves from hands, and everywhere
The world is covered in sweet
Soft flames, this is a place
For my beloved and I.
I give you Lilies of the Nile,
Your eyes opening up to the world,
All over a single stalk,
Like in your head,You smile, and we embrace
Under the shade of living things.
And by myself I walk through the fields
To home, clear skiesAnd no rains, but no rain
Would be a burden now
As a red amaryllis hangs over the gate
To welcome me home,
There is too much to do,
My bed is a dull place, although
It gives shelter
From so many beautiful things.

5. Return to Hesitation

In the town,
You gave me a larkspur gaze,
Those same blue violet eyes,
But also something toxic,
Too much of you perhaps,
A call for darkness,
then,We can feel each other, hear
One another fine,
And keep sight away for a while.
Back in the citySo many grow
In so many places
Even as I feel Like giving off fruit,So many still
Wish to bloom
To pollinate and spread,I walk with seeds
In my pockets already.
I’m overwhelmed,
Too many faces,
The orchid people burrowing
To explosions on rooftops,
You must understand the frustration,
As they bring out for each
A seduced
Specially crafted for a deception,
I close my eyes and think of the grass,
Simple, pardonable grass,
The teeth of the world,
Hair of the earth,
A resting place for us both.

Friday, December 26, 2008

no matter that me entries will yield little no pay
i offer a small sample of my literary efforts to date
forsooth whence there might arise that day
renown may find me swamped with financially successful fate.

matthew harris

A Bend In The River

The serpentine and ageless liquid

predating antediluvian flood whence zarathustra spoke

commanding phoenix like mercurial possessed snake

eternally swallowed

since the beginning of time

one unquenchable thirst to gorge and slake

slurping up an icy cold mountainous pebbly shake

yet fresh as an irish spring

using thy tongue o gaelic spake

then tumbling down into the cavernous abyss

subsequently carving

a deep criss cross patchwork

across the rock hard rugged topography

like the handiwork of some invincible force

commandeering a humungous rake

affixing legendary signature

quasi-indelible grooves

only for the near indomitable

chiseled masterpiece

to be erased, twisted then wrenched

by that natural landscape altering phenomena

identified as an earth quake

creating a fresh tabula rasa to begin anew

inviting waters from on high to carve

from the ebbing and flowing millennial currents

which eventually find a more direct course

beginning as trickling creek

swells from winter rains

and thence in summer while the sun doth bake

when flora blooms and fauna prance

the firmament then abandons

bent elbow oxbow lake

as a former bend in the river.

2. bartender - oh bartender!

mine eyes espy the glory of the ending of another day work

with no clue what role my efforts play in within the large scheme

and (psst) just between you and me...that new supervisor a real jerk

assigning my exemplary skills and talents what appears as a losing team!

no way out of this death sentence nefarious trap

except to drown displeasure downing booze or even house brand beer

which drunken state the only way to prevent axons and synapses to snap

and quickly cause tenuous grasp on sanity to become rent asunder and tear!

now, not a moment to delay

for this conga line employer manned gravy train

departs the tracks seven minutes to five – hip hooray

whereby i can anesthetize this sorely overtaxed brain!

these remaining 420 seconds tick by like the pace of a snail

to this myopic eyes the clock seems to reverse itself in time

this must be some cruel cheap trick holding hostage this randy male

whose manly fuels excitement meeting babes reason i be like busta rhyme!

hop on the bandwagon the aim

to get out from this cramped cubicle and make a made dash

for fermented elixir cherished like some infatuation with a female flame

which magic to forget cares of an uncertain world wrought immediate in a flash!

now the cogs, gears and wheels that turn, whir and spin

within me mental discerned centrifuge come to a grinding halt

as the modern day whistles blows closing time in that barely audible din

which means the motley crew will be heading to a favorite watering hole for ale or malt!

ah, that cool amber liquid of the gods soothes the palate and the tongue

nothing (nada even bling) compares to dulling the senses under the sun

sipping high proof fermented beverage worth price of a headache to be stung

come the morrow (being closer to week-end) flirt with getting drunk equals fun!

upon drowning sorrows that cascade like some emotional waterfall

inside thine own rocky mountain psychic terrain gets numbed by liquor

until the next morning will find frame of mind obliterated akin to a major squall

finding me embarrassed at previous nights' antics that found me to laugh and snicker!

3. Capitol Hill

house and senate dutifully ply their craft

then end up with the president filibustering their hen pecking bill

submitting unanimous opinion in their legalese drawn up draft

which veto power from the elected chief of the white house doth send a chill

that sometimes warms his cockles vis a vis by a bit of turn the other cheek graft

which comes as little or no surprise to those in the shadow of the hill

whence upon trying to assert their rights seemed scored and laughed

especially when taking a tumble like nursery rhyme characters jack and jill

feel the sharp dejection analogous to receiving the so called shaft

which demonstrative obliviousness to needs and wants prompts the urge to kill

experiencing that sinking feeling like being submerged in a rickety raft

from feeling caught up in the maws of some human like puppy mill

if history serves me correctly, the blame taken out by assassinating mckinley and taft

whereby those who grovel along the boulevard of broken dreams with nil

nowadays sense of security breached by financially levees springing leaks that waft

thru the continental air inspiring this ditty from a figurative quill!

4. Barack Obama

this epistle per mine choice of heir apparent presidential throne
composed from one liberal minded non-conformist rolling stone

prompted awareness that one voice can affect which contestant will win

and occupy the white house after the votes get tallied from political spin

aware thy missive from an anonymous fellow and a self anointed scribe

will be carefully screened no matter opinion already cast with nada bribe

personal opinion of this sole american male of two score and nine years

that barack obama possesses that je ne sais quois diplomatic state craft

despite disparaging broadside starring paris hilton plus britney spears

the land of lincoln candidate exemplifies (to myself) a charismatic charm

in tandem with a relaxed persona and gait akin per a commoner on a farm

that nonchalant easy going affinity speaks nonverbal volumes to this chap

cringes when espying or hearing from opposing challenger whose lips flap

meaning john mccain whose hidden motives and agenda include his trap

to plant seeds of doubt per un-decided electorate causing lead to get a zap

unknown how trials and tribulations rival democratic senator from Illinois

will weather local nor global challenges and said solution he might employ

i opt for said captain to steer ship of state and exclaim to drop anchor ahoy

if via cosmic divine intercession the galloping newcomer in this horse race

ushering biracial as nominal winner televisions would show a beaming face

the political ramifications analogous to betting square outcome on this ace

i gently beg, decry, fulminate counter attack advertisements fast and quick

against those subliminal sly messages that at first blush appear airily slick

and please reach deep in that magic bag resorting to retaliatory artful trick

lest burning from the madding crowd extinguished like jack’s candle wick!


Profuse precipitation populated Philadelphia

meteorological heft wrought pinkish glow

plentiful polygons pin wheeled and pirouetted

landscape imprinted pure as driven snow

diminution of visual acuity

accrued from two plus four birthdays

still marvel at freeze-dried raindrops

reaction toward crystalline phenomena continues to grow

kaleidoscope of multitudinous hydrospheric blitz krieg terrestrial show

metaphor wrapped in supreme whiteness

from singular semi-liquid entities high to low

Mother nature imbues testament for rapt observer

teaches to offer rare self for world to know

as individual corporeal of flesh and blood

we forget special identity among human row

subtle riddle well hidden in molecule

two hydrogen atoms against one oxygen in tow

offer quiet sermon to cherish beliefs and personal paradigms vis a vis status quo.

The various and sundry trials and tribulations that buffet my psyche interpreted and processed in the form of poetry and prose. Perhaps on account of many years self-absorbed between pages of well-written book, I tend to express feelings, ideas, thoughts, et cetera in a rather atypical and innovative manner. Literary contests offer me a creative opportunity to communicate this love of English language and hopefully (someday-most likely posthumously) receive even a little bit of recognition.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hello, my name is Aaron Brendan Jackson

Title: Democratic transition




In speeches





Of blue

Broken ballots

Placed in forgotten states


Black in White House

Change of politics

Racial mirror

Movie made

No bullets fired

Title: Mixed me

Black man

White woman



Moving the line of normal

Creating family

Looking for legacy

White woman

Black man

Votes forgotten in two places

Votes made by meeting

Votes made by mail

I am sending in a poem for submission. It refuses to rhyme sometimes, but I think you will find that it is a masterpiece.

Thank you for your consideration, take care, and bless you, and bless all!!!!....,
Daniel C. Jackson

A Poem Without Direction

In the ancient land the truth was covered up

Through a corrupt hand insanity grew in those unknowing of the plan

Cities grew on land of those they killed

Mass amounts lived for no purpose

drifted to be happy at the end of the day

Toiled for a ladies breasts and various amounts of pay

Inside the prisons, asylums and of course the homes, cries cried their plea

And this was evidence their souls were against themselves

Yet the carriers of these souls suppressed what inside did dwell

They would say sayings like "oh, it's not so bad."

Or tell you that it's worth it

While everyone once and a while some people's rage cried for mercy... for death

Many grasped hold of a self who seeked peace and an end to their breath

But they were forced to go on and live to help others

Great care in them the powers inspired

It turned out to be required

Soon the mental hospitals came about

They watched daily, they watched the miserable shouts

Oh, I've seen this more than you would believe

Inside these places I've seen and inside me were the same silent screams

The hospitals were required to keep these people who cleaved to death so they could continue on with their plans for life

All had to treat the other as they would themselves and so they did fight

Many suspected the fight for life was based on vengeance

That's what I would have guessed

Then again, their plans created the insane who prayed for people to be happily blessed

At first I would say "surely you jest".

And yet it all seems so true

What are you fighting for, Christianity?

Do you place mass amount of beings with feelings inside into a bomb filled fire?

Do you do this for happiness is what you desire?

Relationships, most set up to live without the care for another

While the children, the shame is upon the mother (although seemingly contradictory to what Jesus said)

An entire society seems to be based upon hate

And it seems another day I will have to wait

While it's been years and somehow the corrupt men and women's prayers are accepted

My hope and yes my faith is dying daily for every morning I'm rejected

Jesus claimed to be so perfect and true

While I look into a Biblical eternity and a blessed few

I arise to the second floor of my house and I've ascended many mountains

To seek of God help while 2000 years ago many sought blessed fountains

Oh but the fountains are few and the anger of the sick is great

But the present and the defenses, the past cannot erase

My prayers I pray to everyone last one of you

Maybe someone will accept, but instead I see so many seeking to sue

Maybe mercy will find that place empty in so many's hearts

Men with hate who never let go what they should have long ago at least

Men who from their very selves would not mind escape

So in these days so many say the generations have gone bad

And yet the children are the best we've ever had

Listen if you can for the children have come to value mercy

Oh, they touched on something when they labeled sex wrong in a certain way

And yet to be married is all fine to them to this day

They expect their children to follow until this earth is put to an end

Pain is hardly a crime while other issues the vengeful defend

To call pain wrong is to accept something other than "create! create! create!"

This is the Christian agenda and certainly the Catholics while we wonder what will be of these babies eternal fate


To end excessive creation and live for the universe oh so ever present

I still feel the Ultimate Powers have it under control but a hand to us they have not lent

So we must continue in a way

But not the current way

All the while thunder makes such an obnoxious noise

Ah, well this is what a righteous man feels, yet if it's yelling at the corrupt it's obviously not enough

As a matter of fact it's asinine to yell at a creation given a random will

To consider all and everything and inside you, shock should fill

I call silent yells every day while every night for me is hard

My rage inside, my helpless, hopeless hands I pray will take hold of this universe

To end pain and set it on a better course

I could go on but you see this poem is called A Poem Without Direction

Lest we put that right-will in and then we'll find protection

Friday, December 19, 2008

Dear Mr. Logan:

Attached are five of my lighter poems. I hope you enjoy them.

Mike Berger, Ph.D.


Food captures me.

It holds me for ransom.

I woof it down;

it’s never enough.

I can't leave bread alone.

I sit and stuff myself

till my eyes pop and

my legs turned into stumps.

The cravings grab me

and wrestle me to the ground.

I snarf down chocolates,

till the last piece is gone.

Can't be concerned about weight

though I look like a balloon.

Don’t ask when it goes up cause

I’ve schedule another liposuction.


I found a marvelous technique

to avoid arguments with my wife.

We never shout or throw things.

She pouts while I walk away.

We pleasantly disagree on many things.

She likes things to be spotlessly clean.

I myself am more laissez-faire,

aound me there is chaos everywhere.

When walking away just doesn’t work

this technique is fool-proof and never fails

I simply slip off all of my clothes

she doesn't get excited, she laughs.


Few things in this world, I detest.

There are those over arching things.

Like war, starvation and genocide.

But I hate when the cell phone rings.

Your feet throb as you stand in the grocery line

The woman behind you talks incessantly.

She shouts into her phone more than you want to know.

As she openly discusses her kinky sex life.

In the movie to come to that dramatic part

Where the hero and villain confront each other

Then, just as the hero is about to prevail.

The guy in front of you answers his phone.

You're late, you hurry and pushing it.

But you're afraid to pass the car ahead.

This guy is weaving all over the road.

He is doing business on his cell phone.

Quiet people aren't the only ones who don't say much.

Teenage girls talk for hours and don't say a word.

Our society is driven by conspicuous consumption.

Flashy automobiles have been replaced by cell phones.

I have a fix for this glaring problem.

Conscript all the cell phone users.

Gather up all their evil devices.

And send them to inhabit the moon.

Take $10 billion of taxpayer money.

Construct a lunar cell network.

Let them talk; they will produce their own air.

With them gone, you won't get hit by a truck


As a new poet, I haven't developed a style.

I've tried rhymed and metered and haiku

I've dabbled with Tanka and odes too

I would like your feedback and opinion.

Tell me about your images and how you feel.

As I experiment with blank verse.

I'm not sure I understand blank verse

It leaves so much to the reader's imagination

There give me your honest feedback

What did you think of my experimental lines?


Editors hate cowboys and sagebrush

and heroes that ride off into the sunset.

They cringe at the handsome face

that wears a white over-sized cowboy hat.

Editors laugh at the hero bursting through

the swinging door and the inevitable gun-

fight in front of a saloon, where the villain

takes aim only to be shot by te comic relief.

So don't dress up your cowboy in rhyme

or burnt victuals from the chuck wagon.

Forget the sounds of thundering hooves

or sleeping under a million stars.

Why would anyone write such drivel?

It would never be published; it would

stink up pages like a fresh cow pie.

Poets, please avoid writing such tripe.

There is, however a publishing axiom

that says if your poetry is bad enough;

it will fascinate and capture an editor

and he will end up publishing the stuff
Love Me, As Well

By Michael Weems

“It’s my turn now”, said Annie. She turned slowly away from Dan and removed her gloves. Dan’s attempts to gaze over her shoulder were quickly thwarted as she turned back to him, presenting him with a small envelope. “Remember the rules”, she continued. Dan tentatively took the card, looking into her blank expression for any clue of what would be detailed within the note that lay inside. In return, he only received a hint of a smile, developing gradually from her lips. Annie had been waiting for her turn ever since Dan created the game. He wasn’t sure he liked being on this side of anticipation. It had been fun to watch her guess and follow his clues but now his mind raced as he waited for her to walk away and the game to commence.

His memories clouded. Dan had found his own clues to be ingenious – tracing a note in the snow that had fallen onto her windshield. Annie had to run outdoors to make sure his message wasn’t erased by freshly fallen snow. He watched from his apartment across the street as she kneeled on the hood of her car, frantically scribbling. “You’re on the clock, buddy”, Annie reminded him, her once hint of a smile turning into a sarcastic grin. Dan nodded and extended his hand to take the card, knowing that once he touched it, that by his rules he would not be able to contact her for twenty-four hours. “Come on”, she prodded, “you can do it. Just take the card, keep your eyes open, and I’ll see you in a little while. Or will I?” She made no attempts to hide her laughter or pure enjoyment of the moment. Dan stood before her, wide eyed, now at the whim of his much smarter and more clever mate. In a quick moment he took the card and immediately placed it in his back pocket. Annie stood on her tip toes, inches away from Dan, and kissed him lightly on the nose and then his lips. Without a word, Annie strode away lazily towards the town’s center. Dan waited for her to turn around and hoped for one last glimpse to decipher any lingering clues he could gather.

Normally, Dan would’ve enjoyed this act – being able to unabashedly gaze at her legs and the natural sway her hips provided as she moved about his apartment. He would feign sleep just to watch her move in natural light – sauntering around his apartment on a Sunday morning in sometimes nothing more than a t-shirt. Lately, Annie had been astute at his attempts to gaze at her. When pressed for an answer, Dan simply admitted his astonishment at how beautiful she was. Annie shrugged off his reply as cheap flattery and let the moment pass. What he meant to say was just how awestruck he was with her. Dan lived in simple amazement at her beauty, grace, and sense of humor, but his inability to express this was deeply set into his self confidence. In his mind, these superfluous poetic words he wanted to express would woo Annie and put him on par with just how she made him feel. When he tried to let them out, he became tongue tied or created new words. His flustered attempt to compliment her one late night in bed came out as “prettyful” causing Annie’s laughter to make the mattress shake and her sides ache. “You amaze me”, she giggled as she stretched her arms and legs simultaneously in her own cat like way while looking into his eyes. In that one comment she had achieved what he had tried to do, without even using big or imaginary words.

Dan created the game as a last ditch effort to put them on an even playing field. At first, he felt like the notion itself had elevated his status. A single post it note placed strategically in Annie’s wallet was all it took to get her imagination running. Her voice message placed on his answering machine contained the curious tone he’d anticipated. “Daniel, what are you up to?”, she purred, “Am I really going to have to wait until I get home for a clue?” Upon opening the door she was greeted with yet another post it note, simply indicating ‘banister’. The initial goose chase brought her to the hamper, the mailbox, and finally to her lap top. She opened the email as he peeked around the corner, happily gazing at her wide eyes. Once she had finished, she closed the computer and without looking at him remarked “I’m in.” She proved to be even more astute than Daniel anticipated, picking up clues at a rapid pace. Her intensity and competitive nature led her to put any other tasks aside and focus intently on his hidden message. Dan scrambled to keep up with her, rashly inserting additional steps just to buy time.

In the last hour, Annie slowly stepped into Mason’s Bar. Her last hint, found underneath the toaster, instructed her to find the final puzzle piece here. Her final clue, inevitably turned out to be Dan. He sat alone at the bar with a drink ordered for her. “My twenty-four hours are up.”, she said with a gloating tone. “Here I am.”. He silently nodded and motioned for her to sit. “Didn’t think I’d figure it out did you?, she asked. Dan motioned his drink to hers in a toast. She raised her glass to his and with an arched eyebrow. “Vodka, Danny?”, she asked. “I haven’t had vodka since I got really sick that one time…”. She paused and held the drink close to her almost as if it were a precious doll. “Our first date,” she said, moving her glass to clink with his.

Once Annie had disappeared from sight, Dan immediately ripped into the envelope, pulling out the note and tossing the envelope mindlessly aside. He hesitated, envisioning twenty-four hours of Annie’s wildest tricks and was sure she’d send him up and down town. Dan hadn’t anticipated Annie wanting a turn in his game. He folded the card back and forth mindlessly in his hands as his nerves took hold. He removed his glasses to wipe them on his sweater, Dan’s glasses slipped and fell into the snow. Blindly he crawled towards where he estimated they had fallen. He scanned all around but the glasses had disappeared. He sat still and the snow fell all around him, slowly covering his hair, sweater, and pants. A serene feeling overcame him and he decided to simply sit and watch the snow. The only noise came from a few cars passing in the distance and he realized that his heart beat and breathing came much more slowly than usual. His glasses had only fallen a few feet to his side and he picked them up, again brushing them against his shirt, only the snow collected there only made them worse. He sat up, shaking the snow from his sweater and his short, graying hair and finally wiped the glasses dry. He inched closer to a street light to read the note.

As he read Annie’s delicate cursive, the panic returned. The calm, slow steady heartbeat and feeling of control flew away. The note simply read ‘One if by land, two if by sea.’ His memory landed then flew from any possible explanation within moments. He thought of dates, clocks, American History, special places in town and his leads all fell flat. He stood quickly and stuffed the note into his pocket, hoping it might provide some insight later on. He looked both ways down the empty street and as he started to pace, realized he had been sitting on the envelope. Dan carried it over to a trash can and as he crumpled it suddenly froze. He opened the small ball he had made of the envelope back up to see a small notation on the front of it, where a stamp usually resided. It read ‘Any light bulbs yet?’. “Damn it!”, he shouted. His pacing took on a longer stride as he pondered her scribblings and as he stood beneath his apartment he noticed one light on. Panic set in again wondering if someone had broken in. He quickly took out his phone and pressed the number one speed dial for his home phone number. Annie’s voice immediately came onto the voicemail.

“Hello,” it started, “to anyone calling for our dear Dan, rest assured he will be back shortly and will return your message ever so promptly. However, if this is Dan. Congratulations! You truly are a smart cookie and I applaud your putting the pieces together so quickly. I also have to tell you that I’m not as clever as you, and this game will be a true struggle to keep up with your wit! I mean, who would’ve thought to assign numbers to each letter in reverse! I think you’re going to win but it’s fun to try right? I really have no idea what ‘1 if by land, 2 if by sea’ means. I made that up to be cryptic and throw you off the trail long enough to record this. Danny, I know you don’t always think I notice the little things, but I really do. I like when you make up words. I can’t help but keep about my business when I catch you gazing at me, but it’s not that I don’t care. I do. I just feel so beautiful and special when I see that look in your eyes, I really just don’t want that to stop. And I can’t tell you how touched I am that you still think about our first date. Getting sick on vodka and having you hold my hair back. Great first impression right? But here we are. Daniel Rivers, I love you. In the interest of spending a little more time together tonight, I say we call it a draw. Deal? Oh wait, I can’t tell if you’re nodding or not. Or can I?”

Dan felt a soft tap on his shoulder and turned to see Annie, smiling and rosy cheeked from the cold. Annie pounced on him, making him fall in the snow. The two lay together and kissed as the snow fell around them. Dan stuffed his phone in his pocket and laughed at her ingenuity. “Still love me?”, Annie asked pulling him up to his feet. “Wondertastically”, said Dan with a smile. Annie smiled and took his hand, leading him back upstairs into his cozy apartment with the one light shining.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Used to be the one settled for the last.
Ran the race that took the human.
Promised so hard to be soft.
Pleased the masses and quit the church.
Gave the torch to the stronger arm.
Cared not for harm or way.
I lived in the cracks people blamed.
Sorted out the quick and painless.
Gave money for lights that twinkle.
Pushed Jack closer to that mountain.
Drank from the well coins tried to reach.
I did everything right to see you go wrong.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Charles Michael Craven is a 23 year-old with many problems, one being writing. He occasionally falls asleep in a town outside of Austin, Texas. Usually, he can be found indoors, wearing a t-shirt, mesh shorts, and a smirk. He has been published in magazines such as Boston Literary Magazine, Churches, Children, and Daddies, The Common Line Project, and Speed Poet. Also has a Chapbook available at scars.tv He also has a popular blog at cmcraven.blogspot.com if anyone would like to read more.

the Nod

sober in a world
full of drugs
because my address book
contains all the dry numbers.

if the government would make it legal
I’d go to Wal-mart
or H-E-B
or a local gas station
and boost the economy.

but because the judges
and the jailers
and the and the county clerks
would be unemployed
I walk up and down a sleeping sidewalk
looking for a fix provided by the broken people.

I hear the early 90’s were better,
opium everywhere,
for everybody,
no questions asked
but at that time
I was still swinging on the playground
and wasting quarters at the video arcade.

now I see the playgrounds and the video arcades
but along the way they stopped being enough.

now it comes in a bag
and with a lighter
and a spoon
and a dropper in my pocket
I’m left as a street soldier carrying a gun
with no bullets for protection.

Fuck an English Degree

you can become a writer too;
just suffer through
a miserable relationship
alcohol or drug problems (an addictive personality is great)
learn to spend torturous nights alone and
hate normal people
normal thoughts
and normal happiness
deal with more substance abuse
maybe a near death experience
and then find real love out of nowhere (but fight it with everything you have).

after all that
pick up a pen
and jot down each emotion
that pours onto the paper.

you are now a writer,
just know
it sucks ass.

Just me, the janitor, and a few Crickets

this poem right here
could cost me a job
but fuck it,
fuck them,
the words will last
much longer than their blindness.

if I didn’t write them down
the words would pour out of me
on top of a college tower
onto unsuspecting and unforgiving
innocent students attending their three o’clock lecture.

I try not to write about drug use
or alcohol abuse
or strippers turned girlfriends turned prostitutes
but I’m just a man
jotting down the stimuli carried to my frontal lobe
in a simple way
in a simple world
full of simple men
and simple pleasures
paid for by complicated currency
created for those that strayed from the flock.

where is God?
where are you?
where is the next bottle
that will make the first two questions obsolete?

all lost.

and the prospect of sleep
scares me sober
and I search for glue
for paint
for resin
but they all laugh
and sing together,

“Sober, Sober, S O B E R
deal with it,
grow UP,
it has to be time
you useless pile of Tuesday’s garbage.”

and with a smirk
even the Devil would laugh at
I find some pain killers
in an ex-girlfriend’s prescription bottle,
pop the top
and swallow
with the dirty enthusiasm
of a $10 whore
at 4:15 a.m.

Monday, December 15, 2008

jeff pancer

Junta Johnson
That polecat from the Texas plains
Can't wash out those bloody stains
That Dallas day in '63
And the phony inquiry
He gave the warlords what they want
With a Gulf of Tonken
Tens of thousands died in vain
For a cause that was insane
Landslide Lyndon was his name
Go back under whence you came.

When Moses split the sea in two
He made me proud to be a Jew
And when the tablets he did raise
He once again did earn my praise
A shepherd's staff could serve the Lord
When we were under Pharaoh's sword
But times have changed within my world
As actors views become unfurled
And so he's chucked that cosmic way
To sell guns for the NRA.

The desperate trees have no place to go
But true to their nature, their feelings don't show
The cows are now grazing, which suits me just fine
But too many people have no place to dine
Diverting the water was also a coup
What salty solution did they leave for you
This menu we've chosen
To kill and be killed
Who pays for the damage
Our children are billed.

Jew With A Cross
While struggling with financial woes
I stood before a baby's clothes
Exhalted then and through the years
Could this tot assuage my fears
A voice inside directed me
From this scene nativity
To buy a cross and wear it proud
Though it would make some furrow browed
The Lord explained with language terse
What Jesus suffered was much worse.

shaunte pasley

Faith; the size of a mustard seed part 1

At the age of nine, living was the least thing I looked forward to on a daily basis. My biological mother gave my sister and me up for an adoption because she didn’t want us anymore. I felt angry because of that and was willing to kill myself if things didn’t work out. “When you kill yourself, Hell is where you will open your eyes,” said the woman that took custody over us. I didn’t want to go to hell because I didn’t want to see the devil and plus I didn’t want to see her (my new mother) neither. I told my sister that because the woman was mean, she was going to hell for beating us for no reason. My sister agreed that she would not be in hell with that mean old lady. I grew closer to my older and only sister when we were taken away from our birth mother. I didn’t want to lose another person I really cared about. I was nine and my sister was ten. We were young in the game and didn’t know how to react to such violence so we didn’t.

It was a stormy afternoon, and every second the lightening would strike a sharp light towards our house. Following behind the lightening, would be a loud roll of thunder. Our house vibrated because of the harsh thunder. I sat in the attic crouched in the corner. Momma (my new mother) had once again locked me into the attic for no apparent reason. All I had was a pot to piss in and a book to read. Being locked in the attic was like a nightmare that unfortunately came true. The attic was dark and smelly with a portion of light that came from a small window that led to the roof of our house. I could see various insects crawling around on the walls and by me.

“Get your butt in that room!” I heard momma yelling at my sister Brendies. My momma always abused my sister and me. Just standing by her, would result in momma hitting one of us. I hated living in that house everyday. I had fantasies of running away to a land unknown to men where I could be “free,” as some people would call it. As I sat in the dark and smelly attic, I reflected back when my biological mother had custody of us. I never dreamed that such a monster would adopt us. Monster was a term I used throughout my years of staying with my new guardian. I called her what I thought of her which was a monster.

I could still hear my mother’s soft voice when she said, “Remember to seek ye first, the kingdom of heaven and God will direct your path.” Forgetting that bible verse would be as if I forgot about my birth mother. I hated the fact that momma was on drugs and released her anger out on us by leaving us. Rocking back and forth in the attic, I started to cry. I cried tears of hatred, tears of anger, and tears of joy all at the same time. I was hungry and confused ready to kill myself any minute. I didn’t know how to adapt to an environment so terrible. Besides, I was only nine years old. I heard loud footsteps coming up the stairs to the attic. “BOOM . . . BOOM!!!” went someone’s feet. Out of fear, my heart pounded ready to jump right from my chest- splattering its-self on the ground.

Then . . . then . . . then . . . the door came flying open with great force. “Get up!!” said my mother as she marched towards me with a long horsewhip. “Get your butt up right now!” As I stumbled to my feet, she drew back her hand and swung the whip towards me causing the whip to go across my face. All you could hear was the whip forcing its-self into my skin. I stumbled once more and then fell. Holding my face and looking up, I said, “Momma please spare my life” Momma raised that whip once more and repeatedly hit my body with it. I found myself rolling all on the floor trying to avoid those painful gashes. The pain felt like someone had taken an ice pick and stabbed me constantly all over and I never died. At this moment, I was seeking death but didn’t find it. As she beat me for what I thought was an hour, I heard her breathing extremely hard. She had stopped. I guess she was tired. “Now get up and go to your room,” She said. I could see that I was lying in a puddle full of blood.

I could barley get up but I did. As I walked, my footsteps caused my whip gashes to sting. I felt the need to cry but nothing came from my eyes. As I walked down the stairs, I skipped a step and fell. I couldn’t afford to fall especially while in the situation that I was in. Finally making it to my room, I changed into some dry clothes because the others were wet with blood. I could still hear that it was storming outside. I walked to my window and looked into the sky. I then opened it because I was happy to be back in my room. Momma had gone into her room too. She was in the process of smoking weed. My sister and I knew that every time she went onto her room; she was smoking or shooting up. “God you know my heart. I am tired of this” I discussed my problems with my Lord. “Shut the hell up in there!” I heard mother yelling to me from out her room. I was quiet because I didn’t want her to beat me anymore.

My skin was stinging. I knew I couldn’t take the pain so I prayed. I prayed out loud. You see, momma didn’t believe in a God so when she heard us talking about him, she would hit us. I knew mother would beat me some more on the outside if she heard me talking about him. I found that situation so ironic because she knew that I would go to hell if I tried to kill myself yet, she didn’t believe in God. “How ignorant,” I said to myself. Soon my pain was decreasing. I was on my way to the bathroom to get some alcohol for my whips. As I neared the bathroom, the house lit up from the lightening and then shook because of the thunder. I was scared so I by passed the bathroom and went into my sister room. I found Brendies sitting on her bed reading. “Dang Tay, what did she do to you?” my sister looked at my body as if she was looking at someone dead. “You didn’t hear? She beat me while I was in the attic,” I responded back. “Momma would have never hurt us like this,” said Dee. “Do you need help putting alcohol on?” My sister asked because she was concerned. “Sure let me go and get it,” I said. I got the alcohol and took it to my sister. While she rubbed the alcohol on me, I couldn’t help but jump because it burned really bad. Suddenly, I heard momma calling for us. “Shaunte`. . . Brendies”. She sounded angry. My sister’s door flung open. I was lucky I wasn’t by the door or I would have been knocked unconscious.
Then all of a sudden . . . To be continued


On frozen nights, your heat
steals my conversation
and turns it into condensation -
once it covers us, I cannot form it anew,
stanzas becoming drops of sweat
that slip from me to you
with the challenges unmet.
Impossible to capture them
and bend them to my will again,
so what will they become
beneath the fire of your sun?
Dear words, Dire words,
Fear and fresh Desire words
were once my sole possessions;
now they bloom as indiscretions
and nocturnal perfection.
I make no true impression
but for my expressions,
so I'll write my next masterpiece
with kisses and caresses,
moments of release
acting as the printing presses.
Your clavicle will be the place
for pencil shavings and false starts;
I may not find the time to erase
the inkblot that marred the heart
lying beneath the parchment skin.
But the seven slightly injurious sins
tempt our poetry into pornography
and I'll make the somber stanzas rest
form-fitting on your naked chest.
The metal armor of epics shine
with tattoos of tricep triolets;
I'll watch as free verses intertwined
replace your swirling fingerprints and
odes glimmer on your golden brow.
Sonnets on cheekbones wash off now
like whore makeup on Halloween,
yet idylls stay to line your eyes
while hopeful smiles internecine
paint crude limericks on your lips
and haikus scrawled across your hips
seem to beg for kisses and soft bites.
The poesy of sybaritic nights
cannot be written while my words are dying;
but, my boy, we will have such fun trying!
Carlos Lanazca

Humanity & my pride of being one inspires me to write.

A Firm Quintain

This is bard with poems that inspire

& too motivated to feel tired.

You’re not a liar

So God hear my prayers. I’m rich

In ideas so writing will be my last ditch.

Better Than Me

I’ll ask him if he thinks

He’s better than me then I’ll

Tell him “Be better than me”.

I’ll ask her if can find

A boyfriend like me

Then I’ll tell her that “There

Is only one me”. I’ll ask them

If they can imitate me then

I’ll tell them that “I’m unique”.

Dream & Reality

I want to fall into peace

Because life feels obscure.

Endurance plays a part in

My character. Enemies are

Safer being my friends.

My pen is my tool to



I escape into myself & hit

Every corner of my mind to

Discover my ability.Time

Gives me the chance to perform

Such a journey. I’m getting

Older & wiser so I fear

Not being like my grandpa.

Mr. Expression

My poem will touch your awareness

While people either love me or fear me.

I know that the world is not perfect

& that peace usually comes to those who deserve it.

I say a prayer for good luck

To the one I trust.

My persistence is a must

Because I know where I’m from

So don’t be numb.

My Dove

I’ll show her how to be strong

So her love can last long.

Her nature is to be sweet as

I behave like a student in the streets.

I’ll tell her that there’s only one me

So she can make me feel free

& we will become a team.


I sing you to sleep every night
Although you know it not –
Your mind is full of muses,
Too full to hear what mine have brought.
In those grey hours when you rest
And all your pains take flight,
If you’d listen you would know
That I sing you to sleep every night.

What do you hear when your day is done
And starlight sonatas play in your head?
Whispers of lines we once revered
Are ones I will not leave for dead.
When the violet visions impress
Their hell upon your heaven-heart,
Know that unless mine ceases to beat,
My songs the path to yours will chart.

Yes, my love, when you recline
And the lucky moonbeams stroke your hair,
My voice can cross the distances
And strain to fill your haunted air.
Those virgin roads and missing hours
Are my sole causes to weep –
But instead of tears, I offer this:
Every night, I sing you to sleep


Time-honored home of nigh a century,
here do I locate peace not simply found;
the raiment of the trees is all I see,
Nature's green tegument the only ground.
Soft grass, my friend in sunlit somnolence
is the verdant pillow to soothe my aches.
I am born again, a summer-kissed girl
and on days of unrivalled indolence
my inner child, laughing, springs awake
and together we feed the scamp'ring squirrels.

On Summer's final evanescent nights
I wander through the ethereal fog,
rejoicing in the charm of misty lights,
smitten with each passing songbird and dog.
For whom does your staid, slender Willow weep?
Not I, even upon the darkest days
for I come to her with my plaintive sigh.
She listens and in night-tones ever sweet
tells of bright, new pleasures at which to gaze:
rows of roses that bring to mind Versailles.

And when Autumn's chilled hand caresses all,
I will sit and sketch the untainted grace
of the September-hued leaves as they fall.
Day by day with bright eyes and upturned face
I will welcome Winter's bleak vehemence
and place myself beneath the breath of snow
without too much mourning for Summer's end.
Portage Park, you are in your timelessness
Nature's prime servitor, with whom I slow
and wait, assured, for Spring to come again.

TO -- AND --

To the perfect couple that never was,
I say this: squander no more time in thought
alone, not when misery holds a love
for company. Sure, it may be for nought
but self-deceiving hearts too quickly fall
to a jaded, hollow-chested decay.
If you cannot share everything and all,
find comfort in the coming of the day
upon which yearning eyes shall meet again
and comity is made of common grief.
If your lips cannot to sweet kisses bend,
at least in confession find some relief.
Sit not idle in self-restrained desire
but fain allow your heart its wistful fire.


Doubt not my heart, though it may run from thee
when mine eyes have tired of all the tears
that stream o'er the life that can never be.
Though it will live on in my song for years
and remain the only true thing to me,
it is wiser to hold it less than dear;
it is better that from these thoughts I part
and at least attempt now to doubt my heart.

I flit careless from man to memory;
I have let time and wisdom interfere
with our dream's lovelorn, half-cocked guarantee
that mine hand to thine would e'er be adhered.
That mine heart from thine would ne'er long to flee
is a promise that's seemed to disappear
though it should have not. But as we're apart,
I must brush aside Cupid's fatal dart.

Someday these bare walls will fall to debris,
thy lips bent to mine vulnerable ear,
beating at the door of Melancholy
and drawing me back from the mouth of Fear.
But until that day, let the the crowds not see
further than that which a smile makes clear;
thy hands alone hold the key to my art
that tells thee e'en now: "Love, doubt not my heart."

a poem i wrote last night...

there was a lark.. perched on the edge of a branch
obsequious to promise.
precarious to a certain revelation.
exhalation on the whims of cold wind and remembrances of a robin it had once loved.
a nest made of branches and shredded shopping bags
left by people who would never know the adulation such a material thing could hold for a bird of inspiring wings
the lark kept his promise of reconnaissance .. a constant surveillance of surroundings... a soaking in of human and avion sadness, emotion and loneliness as each circles around in hopes of finding that which fills a certain emptiness.
drifts of snow and winter exhaustion enter his tiny heart.
a burst of promise nonetheless of something other than an empty nest.
he circles...
looks down
sees a homeless man smelling juniper and fir with a faint smile, remembering youths folly, old ornaments, and carols through snowy air
and realizes...
though tragic, life held specific and personal meaning to everything.
the fir tree sensing the man's remembrances, the shopping bag with a sense of warmth against bird down, branches creating tesselations against an ashen sky, cold wind caressing blushing children holding their parent's unassuming hands.
the lark kept this secret...
and knew that even in the darkest of times,
a certain poetry would pervade his heart
this unequivocal moment.
cold winter.
lovely smile.
warm nest.
soft wings.
an undulating affection of life's desire.

by: julia haw

Good Evening. My name is Amanda. I have an interest to contribute a submission for your review. I would like to ensure the submission is with in your needs. I do understand your requirements regarding what you are seeking. I would like to know what is the word count for your copy? Is there a limit for a minimum or maximum? I hope to hear your reply, as I am willing to do several at no charge in order to establish my personal endeavor of becoming a free lance writer. I would like to do an entertaining piece on perspectives of my wonderful city and the dining experiences that can be had with good company while sharing a great bottle of wine. It does not have to be reflective of a particular restaurant or locale, just a generalized experience to intrigue the reader. I would like for the audience to believe they too can recreate this atmosphere anywhere they happen to arrive in my wonderful city. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration to this matter. I hope to enjoy a long and mutually beneficial experience with your publication.
Christopher Hopper

Cleaning out
I found
a poem I’d

It’s lines
across a white
years in
a dark drawer
it spoke
its mind.

My mind
tried to reach
back to
when pen
met paper,
like a crime
in the night.

But time
stole that
and now
the poem
that was,
is in the dark
to be forgotten
once more.


Time has
been unkind
to my mother.
Her strength
hides inside
a frail shell
of what once was
and movement
is now a trial
with no peers
for a jury.

This woman
who birthed me
struggles to
breathe, fighting
for each day
that remains
in this place
where much
is taken
for granted.

I wish she
could run
with my child,
the mountain wind
with a kite string,
and find peace
beside a river
in the desert.

But some
things never
come to pass
and time
has been
to my mother.

Pike’s Peak, 1992

The sun adds warmth
To the cool mountain air.
I sit on the edge
Of the world, or
So it seems from my
Fourteen thousand foot perch.
The dropoff tumbles at my feet,
A vertical pile of scree
Stretching two hundred yards.

The Great Plains start here,
Reaching eastward over
The curve of the earth.
Fort Collins and the Air Force
Academy are beneath me now.
I’m as high as some fly
And watch a plane’s silver
Wings reflect light upward,
Starting its flight to elsewhere.

Later, I learn my grandfather
Once stood here staring east
Toward Pennsylvania and
This mountain’s little sisters, but
Today I reach into a black case
For my requinto, my tiny
Travel guitar. She’s a
Warm Spanish built, nylon
Strung instrument loved
By mariachis for her high
Voice that sings across rooms.

Now, on Pike’s Peak, the Prelude
From Bach’s First Cello Suite
Struggles forth from fingers
And an oxygen starved memory.
Moving through the arpeggios
We three celebrate the day in song.


Is a lead gray
Sky for days;
A ceiling pushing
Down on shoulders
Slumping under
The weight
Of everything

Months of gray
Pile up over
Snow and rain
Slicked streets;
Capping struggles.
The sadness of
Everyday gray
with gray soaked
Tree trunks,
Limestone walls
And rain blackened

The Midwestern
Lake Effect
Makes Seattle
Seem like a
Winter haven
For sun-lovers,
And here
Early spring
Is just another
Shade of gray.

Breaking the Drought

Yesterday the drought broke.
Clouds rolled in from the southwest,
a steady stream of roiling darkness
that pulled moisture into the valley
and up against the mountains.

When the rain came it pelted streets
into run-off rivers carrying desert soil
through backed up traffic and mingling the damp
earth smells with ozone. People lined up under
covered walkways to see water flowing from the sky.
Some waltzed under the iron gray, smiling
into the rain as it struck their faces, plastering shirts to shoulders.

Deep in the valley a roof was lost to the wind
and trees twisted under the screech of nail loss;
water ran over lintels into first floor apartments
and sifted through sliding screen doors while the renters
pushed brooms with sodden swish-scrapes,
trying to bar the flood from their living rooms
and keep it on the television where it belonged.

Lightning struck the dried grasses
out by the air-field and fire trucks laid out their
snaked hoses, choking the pulse of the fire out
after it caught five acres. The rain drenched
the damage while eyes turned to the kindling
stretching straight through the mountains, and watched
it soak liquid deep into tap-roots, trunks and limbs.

No one complained.

Friday, November 7, 2008

He sits at home and continue to drink. He sits alone and continue to drink.
It finally dawned on him, his hopes and dreams… It dawned on him, no one is coming. He wants to scream and rage. And cry. He would, the rest he could only see himself doing and doing no good. Try as he might to fight it, the loneliness just ate away at his heart and mind until he simply fell over where he sat
And the glass in his hand, falls from his hand. He’d never see love again.
It would kill him and still no one is coming.

Happy Birthday

Colby Cuppernull

In the morning the rain fell in bursts and there were no clouds, only the sun shining on the wet grass and the sky blue and empty over the brown mountainsides. Ethan woke to the sound of the rain slapping the road and through his bedroom window he could see the large drops dimpling the dirt driveway. His first thought was that he did not feel any different. His second was to wonder if the rain had ruined the day. He rose stiffly and dug in the top drawer of his dresser until he found his bathing suit. In the bathroom he brushed his teeth and found a large beach towel in the back of the linen closet. He rolled it tightly and laid it over his shoulders. There was an orange tube of sun block behind the bottles of shampoo and mousse but it was light in his hand, greasy still from the previous summer and nearly empty.
There was a knock at the door and he wiped his hand off on his shorts and opened it. His grandmother stood leaning against the wall, still wearing her nightgown and robe but holding a cigarette so that the smoke trickled up her forearm. She wished him a happy birthday and stood for a moment without a word, watching him brush his hair and rub a small circle of sunblock onto his hairless leg.
“You should wait and put that on when you get there,” she said. “It’ll wear off.”
Ethan snapped the lid shut and put the tube on the sink. “It’s empty anyway.”
The old woman stood up straight and took a long drag on her cigarette. She blew the smoke out smiling and raised her eyebrows. “Do you feel like an old man?”
Ethan rolled his eyes and shook his head no.
“What time is your Dad supposed to pick you up?”
“He just said the morning.”
She did not say anything and he grabbed his toothbrush and ran his thumb over the bristles to dry it.
“You’re spending the night?”
“I don’t know. Maybe.”
“When will we have your cake?”
“I might be back tonight. But we can do it tomorrow too.”
The old woman stood still in the door and watched him moving about the small bathroom, arranging his things and looking over everything to be sure he hadn’t missed something.
“Is Toby going?” Ethan asked.
“He says he doesn’t want to.”
Ethan shrugged and fidgeted with the odds and ends he had lined up on the sink. His grandmother stepped forward and reached an arm across him to tap the ashes from her cigarette into the sink. She turned the faucet and let the water take them down the drain.
“You don’t have to go, you know.”
Ethan did not look up from his gathering but nodded his head. “I know.”
“You don’t owe him anything.”
She waited for the boy to respond but he did not. She stood up straight and tried to catch his gaze.
“Hey,” she said and waited for him to look at her. “If at any point you want to come home, if you don’t want to be there anymore, just call me, okay? We’ll come get you.”
Ethan nodded. She waited a moment longer before leaving, hugging him and saying, “Happy birthday, Bub.” She closed the door behind her.
From where he stood balanced on the rock wall that divided their yard from the next, he could see the road bend and drop below the line of the horizon. No car approaching and no movement to disturb the wavering of the air above the steaming pavement. They waited in their bathing suits and their sandals, wearing old tee shirts and long, sun faded beach towels rolled and draped over their shoulders. Jimmy sat silently with his legs hanging over the wall and bouncing off of the piled stones. From time to time he fingered a pebble out of the dirt and flung it at a chipmunk darting out of the crevices. Ethan stood and watched the road and when he caught himself waiting he turned on his heels and picked his way over the uneven rocks, balancing with his arms straight out at his sides. He walked up and down the wall, the division between their yards. On one side Jimmy’s garage and the glinting bits of decades-old glass that shimmered in the dusty driveway. Just beyond it his house, where they spent so many of their days watching the Expos and rooting for the other teams. On the other side was their grandmother’s home and a brown rectangle of deadened grass where a trailer had been, where Ethan had lived with his parents before his father had left. He stumbled now on a loose stone and regained his footing, pacing back toward Jimmy, who sat bent over his knee, scratching a spot in the dense brush of hair on his shin.
“What did you get?” Jimmy asked. He did not look up from his leg.
“Nothing yet.”
“How come?”
“My mom wants to wait until I get back.”
“I thought we were spending the night.”
Jimmy looked up and let his leg fall back over the side of the wall. He squinted in the sun as he sought out his cousin’s face.
“I don’t think that she really thinks he’s coming.”
Jimmy turned his eyes to the wall.
“Gram’s making a cake,” he said.
Ethan nodded.
“My mom says she owes you thirteen spankings.”
Ethan laughed. “Bullshit she does.”
“Where’s Toby?”
“He’s not coming?”
“Nope. Doesn’t want anything to do with him. He’s hiding out in the back of the house with Mom.”
Jimmy sat up straight and pulled on the ends of the towel, stretching his neck back and closing his eyes to the sun.
“Why are you going?” he asked.
Ethan did not answer.
Jimmy leaned back and looked out over the damp yard. “All I care about,” he started, a broad smile growing on his face, “is seeing Pam Macy up on that lifeguard tower. I swear to God if I could just have five minutes…”
Jimmy stopped and smiled to himself. He scratched again at his leg.

When the maroon station wagon pulled into the driveway the sun was hanging high above them and their cheeks were pink and just starting to sting. A stone popped under one of the tires and the engine rattled with the change in gears. The engine didn’t stop and no one emerged from the car. In the front seat a woman sat with her arm dangling out of the open window. She wore dark sunglasses which covered most of her face. Her hair was dark brown and pulled into a tight pony tail. She looked young and bored and she tapped her fingers on the side of the passenger side door and cracked the gum she chewed. The boys looked at each other. Neither of them recognized her and they climbed into the backseat without saying a word.
Jimmy brushed aside a stack of newspapers and slid across the seat. The vinyl was hot and burned the backs of his thighs. He hissed and rocked his weight toward the door, lifting each leg in turn from the hot seat and trying to find a way to sit so that his legs were not exposed to the burning. The woman did not look away from the dashboard when Ethan pulled the door shut. His father lifted his chin and looked at him in the rearview mirror.
“Where’s your brother?”
“Well go and get him.”
“He doesn’t want to come.”
Jesse held his eyes on the boys in the backseat for a moment, watching them in the mirror. Finally, he dropped the gear shift and threw his arm over the woman’s shoulder and craned his neck to back out into the road.
“Fair enough,” he sighed. “He’s missing out.”
When they were on the road the boys rolled down their windows and let the rushing air cool their skin. It roared in their ears and the woman in the front seat kept lifting her hands and pushing back the little wisps of hair that danced like windsocks over her face. She let out an annoyed sigh every time and kept moving in her seat to avoid the air. For a long time no one spoke.
“This is Erin,” Jesse finally announced, shouting to be heard over the rushing air.
Ethan and Jimmy nodded, but the woman did not turn around. She was dressed nicely, in a pair of jeans and a light yellow shirt with buttons up the front, the last few of which were left undone so that from a certain angle the edge of her tan bra could be seen.
“So where do you want to go, birthday boy?” Jesse yelled. “Anywhere you want.”
“We could go to the pond,” Ethan said.
“The pond!” Ethan shouted.
The woman turned her head and looked at Jesse. He dropped his eyes from the mirror and laid his elbow on the edge of the window. “Really?”
Ethan did not answer.
“Why don’t we go out to Burlington or something?”
Jimmy looked at Ethan and flicked his eyes at the towel in his lap.
“Does that sound good?” Jesse called back.
Jimmy bounced his knee and stared at his cousin. Ethan looked at him as if to ask, “What do you want me to say?”
“That’s fine,” Ethan shouted.
Jimmy looped his towel around his neck and tugged at the ends. He looked out the window.
“They got a hotel out there we can stay in,” Jesse shouted. “They’ve got a pool and a hot tub in the back. You guys can hang out there all you want. We’ll go out to the mall and then I’ll take you over to the toy store; you can pick out anything.”
Ethan stared straight ahead and when he looked up from the back of the woman’s seat Jimmy was staring at him with a sarcastic grin on his face.
They hit the highway and drove east toward the Vermont state line. No one spoke and the only sound was the wind through the open windows and the clicking of the pavement beneath them. At one point, Jimmy gently flicked Ethan’s knee with the back of his hand. Ethan sat up and Jimmy raised his eyebrows and tilted his head toward the front seat where Erin sat. The wind rippled her shirt and the thin yellow fabric rose and ballooned away from her skin. She sat with her head leaned back and resting against the door, exposing the long curve of her neck and the soft skin of her chest. Jimmy leaned toward his window so that Ethan could scoot over and see. Ethan slid slowly over the seat, careful not to draw attention to his movement, and when he’d gotten beyond where the seat could block his view he saw what his cousin was looking at. Each time the wind caught her shirt in just the right way it lifted it away just enough so that Jimmy had a clear view of her right breast. Her bra was lace and tan, and as she was sitting it was loose against her skin so that the pink edge of her nipple was clearly visible.
Ethan looked at Jimmy who sat grinning with his elbow out the window and his head resting on it, never taking his eyes from her dancing shirt. Ethan looked again and waited for the shirt to move. She was only a little older than some of the girls who had baby sat him a few short years ago and she was beautiful. He watched her chest move up and down with her breath and felt bad for doing so. He slid back toward his own door and watched the other cars along the highway.

They spent two hours at the mall while Erin tried on clothes and shopped. The boys were embarrassed to be walking around in their bathing suits and sandals. Groups of girls their age gave them strange looks when they passed.
“I feel like a fucking dipshit,” Jimmy said.
They had asked if they could walk around and meet up with Jesse and Erin when they had finished. They wandered the mall uninterested in any of the stores, simply walking to pass the time. Jimmy watched the girls and tried to get Ethan’s attention when he saw one he liked. He did so in ways he thought subtle, and every time a girl’s eyes darted quickly to them and away with one of Jimmy’s elbows or coughs Ethan felt ashamed. Eventually they reunited with Jesse and Erin at the food court where they ate an almost completely silent meal of greasy pizza.
“Have you ever been to an Expos game, Uncle Jesse?” Jimmy asked.
Jesse nodded and grunted, chewing his food quickly so that he could answer. “Couple times.”
“How far is it from here?”
“Just a couple of hours.”
“Too bad they suck,” Jimmy said.
Jesse laughed. “That’s why you go see them when the good teams come.”
“Who have you seen?” Ethan asked.
“Who’d we see, hon?” Jesse turned to Erin.
She had pulled the cheese off her pizza and was pressing her napkin down on top of the crust, sopping up glowing orange grease.
“I don’t know.”
“The Dodgers,” Jesse said. “The Dodgers, the Giants, and the Cubs.”
Jimmy put down his pizza. “You saw the Cubs?”
“Sure. Couple of times. Just as bad as the ‘spos for God’s sake.”
The boys looked at each other.
“Is that your favorite team?” Erin asked. She held up the greasy napkin with two fingers and dropped it like a handkerchief onto the brown tray in the center of the table.
“I don’t know,” Ethan said.
“You ever been to Chicago?” she asked.
No one said anything.
“When do they play them again?” Ethan finally asked.
Jesse shrugged and picked up his pizza. He chewed it quietly and took a sip from his soda.

They crossed the parking lot on foot to the toy store and in spite of Ethan and Jimmy’s protests that they didn’t really have to go, Jesse insisted.
“Don’t you want a present?” he asked. “Seriously, just pick out anything you want.”
The store was full of parents pushing kids in oversized yellow carts or slightly older children running around with Nerf footballs and packaged GI Joes. When they walked through the front door Jesse and Erin sat on a bench by the bathrooms.
“We’ll wait here. Just come get me when you figure out what you want. Anything.”
The boys walked away, turning their shoulders to pass through the lines of parents and stopping suddenly to dodge scampering kids.
“Anything you want, big boy,” Jimmy said.
“Shut up.”
Jimmy picked up a Barbie and held it out to Ethan. “I think I found it!”
Ethan didn’t look and Jimmy tossed the box onto a shelf.
“What are we supposed to do now?” Jimmy asked.
“I don’t know, pick something out.”
“Beats me, but I can’t just tell him to screw off.”
“So that chick is his girlfriend now?”
“I guess.”
Jimmy shook his head and whistled.
“Not too shabby.”
“Have you seen her before?” Ethan asked.
“She must not be from Mineville,” he said. “Where do you think they met?”
Jimmy grabbed a yoyo from a wire bin and started to fling it around. The string got tangled and he put the mess back into the bin.
“He probably met her out here or something.”
“What’s he doing all the way out here?”
Ethan shrugged and dragged his hand along a shelf of model cars. “How should I know?”

They walked until they found the boys’ section. The shelves were filled with cars and action figures and fake weapons. Jimmy picked up packages and laughed at them while Ethan apathetically looked through the Star Wars figures. He picked a package up off of the shelf, a scale model of one of the jets, and handed it to Jimmy.
“What about this?”
“What are you eight?”
Ethan snatched the package back and tossed it onto the shelf. “I don’t know. What the hell am I supposed to get?”
“Don’t they have any sports stuff?”
“Just grab a baseball mitt or something. A football.”
“He took me all the way to a toy store. I can’t just get a football.”
“Why not?”
“I don’t know. It seems ungrateful.”
Jimmy did not respond. He just stared at Ethan and Ethan looked away. He suddenly felt angry and just wanted to be home.
“Let’s just grab the goddamn football and get out of here,” he said.
At the checkout counter the girl asked Jesse if he wanted gift wrapping and he looked at Ethan. Ethan shook his head and Jesse told her no. He paid for the football with cash and handed Ethan the bag.
He slapped Ethan on the back and said, “Happy birthday, kiddo.”
Ethan thanked him and followed him to the car.

By the time they arrived at the hotel the sun had set and it was too cold to swim. The hot tub was covered in yellow caution tape and there was a piece of paper stuck to it and flapping in the wind. “Out of Order.” Jesse and Erin checked in while the boys wandered around the pool area. It was dark but for the dim lights beneath the water. They cast eerie shadows on the bottom of the pool and caused patches of the dark surface to glow. The air by the pool was cool and the boys folded their arms over their chests and waited until Jesse waved to them from the lobby doors.
The room had two double beds, one for Ethan and Jimmy and one for Jesse and Erin. The boys dropped their beach towels on top of the dresser, and Erin put two bags she had carried up into the closet. The bathroom was in the front of the room just next to the bed and between the beds was a small table with a telephone and a remote for the TV. A table on the far wall under the window had a small blue binder with the room service menu and a list of television channels and pay-per-view movies. The long rectangular window was covered in a heavy forest green curtain that pulled away with a thin plastic rod. Ethan pulled the curtain part way open and looked at the parking lot.
“Could we keep that closed for a few minutes,” Erin said. “I’m going to take a shower real quick.”
“Oh sorry.” Ethan said. He pulled the curtain closed and sat down on the bed next to Jimmy.
Jesse was rifling through a duffel bag on the far bed, and in the bathroom they could hear the shower turning on.
Ethan watched his father toss a shirt onto the bed. “We should go for a swim,” he said. Jesse wrapped some things in a towel and tucked it under his arm. “That’s a good idea.” He smiled and looked up at Ethan.
“Do you think it’s too cold?”
“Nah. It’s perfect. You should go.”
Ethan looked at Jimmy and then back at his father. “You gonna come?”
“I don’t think so, bud. Too cold for me.” He stepped toward Ethan and tousled his hair. “Well what about the hot tub?”
Jesse stood up straight and ran a hand through his hair. He shook his head. “Not tonight.” He grabbed the remote from the table and flipped on the TV. He tossed the remote into Jimmy’s lap.
“You guys should order a movie or something,” he said. “Don’t worry about it. Just pick whatever one you want.”
Jimmy took the remote from his lap and started flipping through the channels.
“I’ll be right back,” Jesse said, “Erin forgot something.”
He opened the bathroom door and slipped inside, closing it behind him.
Jimmy looked at Ethan and started to laugh. He leaned back and propped himself up on his elbows, flipping through the channels and shaking his head with a dumb grin on his face.
“Your dad’s the man.”
Ethan took the remote from his cousin’s hand and turned up the volume on the TV. He started flipping the channels. There was no sign of Jesse coming out of the bathroom, and Jimmy stood up and moved to the table under the window. He sat down and started flipping through the room service binder. Ethan sat looking at the television but not watching it. He could hear Jimmy flipping through the pages and the sound of the shower. After a moment he started to hear different sounds. Jimmy sat up in the desk chair, a page stuck in his fingers mid-turn. He looked toward the bathroom and then to Ethan. A broad smile broke out on his face and he got up and tip toed quietly toward the bed. He took the remote from Ethan’s hand and muted the TV.
In the silence there was no doubting it and Jimmy elbowed Ethan and opened his mouth wide in a silent laugh. He dropped the remote back to the bed and stood. Every step he took was slow and he lifted his knees high, padding across the floor. When he got to the bathroom door he turned his head and leaned toward it, his ear hovering just over the surface.
“Knock it off,” Ethan hissed.
Jimmy waved an arm at him frantically. He mimed for Ethan to “shh” and leaned his head back toward the door.
In the middle of the room, Ethan sat and stared at the television. He could hear it and he tried not to listen. He could see out of the corner of his eye his cousin standing with his hands against the door, his head cocked to the side, smiling. A car alarm went off in the parking lot and continued bleating into the night for a few moments before the owner turned it off. Ethan watched the commercials on the television and felt a knot in his throat. When he looked up Jimmy waved for him to come over. He ignored him and took the remote up off of the bed and unmated the television. The sound rushed back into the room and Jimmy bolted upright. He put his hands on his head and waited for Ethan to say something. When Ethan did not speak Jimmy walked back to the center of the room and sat down on the other bed.
Ethan stood up and walked to the table between the beds. He was about to pick up the phone when the bathroom door popped open. The shower was still running and a gust of steam blew out and fogged the mirror on the wall opposite the door. Erin stepped out with a short white towel wrapped around her. She held it close to her chest with her hand and looked at the boys. Her hair was wet and dark and slicked back tightly against her head. She ran a hand over her forehead took a long deep breath. Ethan turned his eyes away as she walked across the room.
“I forgot my hair dryer,” she said, crouching down to unzip one of the bags she’d brought. Bent over the bag, the towel slid far up the back of her thighs and Ethan saw her wet skin and again looked away. She stood up quickly and scampered back to the bathroom with the cord dragging behind her. The door clumped shut, and Jimmy keeled backward, falling onto the bed with his arms spread out wide.
“Awesome,” he whispered.
Ethan could hear his father say something behind the closed door but he could not make it out. Just the sound of the shower and Jimmy laughing to himself. He picked up the phone and dialed his grandmother.

Helpless I do not know if good intentions prevail among the elected, among the appointed, leaving me apprehensive that the fate ...