Another Kodak Moment by Kevin Ridgeway

Posted in Kevin Ridgeway with tags on October 1, 2019 by Scot

 

Dad kept tripping
on the fact that
he created me
from out of his scrotum
while we passed
the tin foil of heroin
between each other.
He shook his head
and intoned in a deep,
scary voice that he was
my demented master.

Three Poems by Pris Campbell

Posted in Pris Campbell with tags on October 1, 2019 by Scot

Floral Rearrangements

In my Portnoy-like adolescent years,
feet too long, clumsy elbows —
my resemblance to a towering
sunflower was most obvious in my bathing suit.
Thick yellow blossoms sat on my cap.
Stick thin body, supported by knobby knees,
lept awkwardly into out town pool.
Search as I might daily, not a hint
of a curve was to be found anywhere
in this damp suit, sewn, I’m certain,
by some sadist somewhere
strictly to reveal my imperfections.
I envied the short, flirty girls
with their tight cashmere
sweaters, rounded butts,
colorful bracelets from boyfriends
jangling on proud wrists.
How I longed to be like them,
held by some sexy boy in the erotic night,
fumbling for my breast, breath hot on my neck,
fingers reaching for another kind of petal,
as he begged ‘do it, let’s do it’.

____________

 

A Better Dream

I wake in my glass house,
coach restored outside,
slippers sparkling by the bed,
but the prince is still missing.
I flip through my album
of dreams gone wrong,
find him in torn jeans,
hair long and scruffy,
arm wrapped tight around
a blowing in the wind sort of gal,
the type he fantasized having
when he tired of my ballroom
gowns and perfect hair.
I wonder had I stepped
into another fairy tale,
would I have survived
the wolf, still awakened
from my needle-pricked
slumber, regrown my plait.
The glass castle fades
and I sleep again, prince
pushed out of mind for now.
Cinders float to blanket me
from that long-doused fire.

____________

 

Rise and Fall

He could have starred as Rhett Butler,
had there been a remake,
making his fortune in the hotel business
rather than uncivil wars, Atlanta on fire
in his checkered background.

Closets, big as my bedroom, were filled
with hand tailored suits for his broad shoulders.
Gemstones, locked in a safe,
were for his four children’s inheritance.
Two convertibles for his own use,
took barely a third of the garage,
but everybody knew he had sex
with men barely out of their teens,
keeping them happy with baubles
and rent free rooms at his hotel.

When we sat on his sofa after
my much younger cousin’s funeral
holding hands, retelling stories,
weeping off and on, I never thought
about his wife’s icy silence
from the rocker squeaking
across from us.

No reason for jealousy over one
of a gender he would never cheat with.

When our eyes were dry,
he took out his Caddy convertible
to drive me home. Stars, Highwayman-bright,
lit up the country road.

He pulled over
for a closer look, then suddenly kissed me.
Not the kiss of a gay man.
A kiss that made me feel like Scarlett.

After that night I never saw him again
during my visits back to relatives,
heard years later his wife had died.
His business, his home, the gemstones,
the closets packed with expensive suits,
and convertibles all were lost,
gone with that elusive wind,
and he was sharing a trailer
with an equally impoverished son,
dependent on dad for his future.
This man we all thought we knew,
but didn’t.

THE MAGIC by John D Robinson

Posted in John D Robinson with tags on October 1, 2019 by Scot

Nothing to write about
except
the decay of humanity and its
implosion of violence and
selfishness and self-hatred,
nothing to write about
except
the awesome wonder of a
bee or the feeling of the
sun or rain, exploring,
touching your skin,
the infinite majesty of
Beethoven, Bach and
Sibelius, the hand-work of
Basquait, Pollock, or
Goya and the rants of
Olivier Larronde,
Shelley and Kerouac,
nothing to write about
except
the magic of
everything.

still hanging on by aging threads by J.J. Campbell

Posted in J.J. Campbell with tags on October 1, 2019 by Scot

 

another night spent
talking to myself

pretending this world
still has a place for me

all the right women
found some other
perfect man

now, i’m staring
death in the face

alone

remembering the child
that lost all hope by the
age of eight

thirty-five years later
still hanging on by
aging threads

but it’s on these nights
where the question for
what has no fucking
answer

i look in her eyes and
wonder why i could
never find the chance
to have one of those
moments a life is
built upon

i look at the shotgun
in the corner

and understand one of
these nights a neighbor
will be calling the police
for what they believe to
be fireworks

Four Poems by Jack Henry

Posted in Jack Henry, Uncategorized with tags on August 26, 2019 by Scot

setting free
1.
when my ex died unexpectedly
alone in an apartment she
could not afford;
in a city where conformity
ruled & no one dare stray
from the dotted line;
in a state of financial ruin
brought on by a cancer she
blamed on me;
i thought that day, that moment
i would return to sanity;

but i was wrong –

2.
her ghost haunts me,
still
& i know i should let it
go, but this ghost is real;

she follows me around,
lets me know she is watching;
in all honest i have grown
used to it –

3.
her ashes sit on a shelf of
tchotchkes, at the top
next to smaller cedar boxes
of dead dogs;

her box is colorful, secured by
a small diary lock, the kind
you could crush with your
fingertips;

she left no instructions on a proper
burial and my daughter didn’t know
what to do, so she sits on a top shelf;

watching –

4.
it’s cold
at the top of Mount Baldy;
a few people gather
in clusters of twos and threes;
i came with my ghost
and a backpack holding
a gray paper box
filled with ashes;

i started at 4am,
made good time,
hit the summit in 5 hours,
a record, for me;

at the far edge of the rounded
peak i reach into
my backpack and pull out
the gray paper box,
set it down on behind a large
stone, used as a wind break;

the sun slowly arches across
a bright, blue sky; it is a perfect
day; i remove the lid, pull out
a bag of gray ash;
it is heavy, nearly three pounds,
all that remains;

i kept tablespoon of ash, put it in
a beautiful crystal jar, placed it back on
the shelf, for my daughter, for the
day she wants to remember;

but on the mountain i let it fly,
emptied the bag into the wind,
a temporary cloud rising and
falling on the breath of god;

a ranger approached, but i caught
him in the corner of my eye,
i had a permit, she would have liked
that, being prepared for a change –

____________

 

excuses

the ringing
in my
ears
never leaves
just as
the icy hand
of
my past
never lets
go of
my
throat –

words,
long forgotten,
drift
back
to the shores
of my solitude,
whip-cracking
my skin,
fresh wounds
from which
to draw –

i do
not recognize
who this
person was
nor the
words
written
on stolen
paper &
the backs
of bar top
napkins –

ten years gone
not a word
to sell or
show,
i lay
down my
sword,
surrender,
i know
not
from where i
come –

nor where i
shall
go –

____________

timeless

she sits
on a park
bench
tears stream
from her
eyes
she dabs
them away
with a worn
handkerchief
given to her
years ago
by a man
she
barely knew

every night
in the kitchen sink
she washes the
handkerchief
let’s it dry
on the countertop
and
every morning
she folds the
handkerchief
places it in
her pocketbook

some days she
wanders out
onto the streets
and sidewalks
of los angeles
stares up at the
skyscrapers
wanders out
past the old
bars
and shuttered
retail stores
past the
angry young men
propped
against
concrete walls, the
ones littered
with flyers and
poster board
advertisements
eventually she
finds herself
on a park bench
in Pershing Square
alone
watching
the city change
morph
evolve

she knows
no one
other than
doctors
nurses
and pharmacists
her neighbors
speak in a
language
she does not
understand
her children
have forgotten
everything

some days
she cries
pulls the
handkerchief
from her
pocketbook
dabs at her
eyes
dries her
tears

that day
a man walks up
nearly as old
as she
offers her a
handkerchief
one very like
the one hidden
in her pocketbook
he is gray and
old
riddled with age

she smiles
as he sits next to her

____________

 

eventually

memory fails
when i try to remember
our first embrace –
a strange two weeks
rolling across a jungle –

you filled gray folds
of my mottled brain
with something more
than a quick hello, goodbye,
yeah,
you were okay –

little things cling to a here and now tap dance –
cheap perfume –
a femme fatales eyelashes –
an innocent touch –
tears formed from a dream you could not share –

and when you left,
when you finally left,
a note remains –
a sort of explanation,
a sort of apology,
but you need not worry –

everyone leaves

eventually –

Four Poems by Mike James

Posted in Mike James with tags on August 24, 2019 by Scot
  • Night School for Cartographers

 

You start out tracing your hand, which is the first map any of us know. That’s the lesson plan for nine straight years. After that, you begin drawing your heart in all its many directions. People often drop out about this time. Some go back to the faucet drip of their old lives. Some run away to gag on swords in the circus. A few take enlightenment’s easy path as illustrated by matchbooks and local restroom graffiti.

The struggle to draw the heart comes from having to juggle with one hand while you draw with the other. Jugglers who love globes do best in class.

Stay a student long enough, eventually there’s no lesson plan. For your last seven years, there’s not even a teacher. If you make it to graduation, your diploma confirms you are lost.

____________

 

“Where Do You Hide Your History?”

 

In the top hat of magicians. Sound too easy? It is. There’s a little box at city hall which says, Glass Broken for Emergencies. Like Medusa’s sleep cap, no one thinks to look there. Also, ditches. The more worn down the better. The best hiding-spots are in parts of town no one wants to go. A few say history is kept in a river. If that’s true, it’s a long and dirty one. Fish have short memories, but that’s often enough. You would think dreams are good storehouses. They aren’t. Images molt in first light. Plus, there’s a chance someone can read every dream a face holds.

____________

 

Fallen Angel

 

The first job he took, after he quit Heaven, was at a butcher shop. His halo sliced meat pretty well. The shop owner liked the novelty, as did customers used to nothing more interesting than sausage plumpness. But, like even the best Broadway performance, the gig ended. The health department sent him out the door, amid the owner’s sobs and sighs. Halos are hard to clean, no matter how strong the disinfectant. Slicing with one violates regulations which date back before phone book popularity.

After the butcher shop, he became a cowboy. He tied a rope to his halo and called it a lasso. It worked almost as well as Wonder Woman’s golden lasso. Though she was from a different place.

____________

 

A Good Day

 

That game where we pretend to be strangers and get married anyway. I think it’s called Paradox Heaven. Normally, it ends in a draw. Most days, we try to be angels though it’s hard not to curse in our prayers. Neither of us has a pedigree longer than a postage stamp. Family history is mainly a secret no one wants to share. On days when we don’t shoot stop signs we like to research circuses to run away to. Elephant riding is something we might enjoy. Like good cowboys we practice our gallop on broomsticks. If we don’t get splinters, we call it a good day.

____________

 

Follow the Ground, Not the Sky

 

If I know where I’m going, I don’t get there faster. My pace doesn’t change.
I’m slow, unsteady. I can follow the sun, like on a mission, and still lose my way.

My past makes a trail I circle back to. Often, I meet an old self. Normally,
Look away. My satchel, stuffed with unsaid things, gets heavier and heavier.

Thunderstorms tell me the Devil is real. Lightening reminds me to shut
My eyes. Sometimes, I count or hold my breath. Sometimes, I play pretend.

I never gave the Devil up. He’s always around the next corner or ready
To steal my shadow if I turn away. He carries the long list of my fears.

In a way, the Devil is my oldest friend. If that sounds sad, it is. There’s
Never been an angel on my shoulder. Not once. And my shoulders are thin.

a better class of drugs by J.J. Campbell

Posted in J.J. Campbell with tags on August 24, 2019 by Scot

 

there’s this endless
madness inside of
me that never rests

i wouldn’t describe
it as insanity

unless of course,
that gets me a better
class of drugs

but i often wonder
when i close my eyes
each night

why do i even bother
to wake the following
morning

the grind isn’t worth
it

the squeeze isn’t
good enough

and the hope if random
nudity doesn’t excite
like it used to

the end is surely near