Archive for May, 2011

Two Poems by Michael Grover

Posted in Michael Grover with tags on May 23, 2011 by Scot

Crack

I had a friend a long time ago
His name was Peter
He told me the first time he smoked crack
He heard distant, cosmic train horns
Every time he did it after that
Was just to see if he could hear them again
Peter said he was chasing the train
Money hungry
Trying to appease a greedy Cuban wife
& a crack habit
Peter got progressively crazier
As the pressure built inside him
Pressure he had self inflicted
It kept building & building
Until his wife moved out
He was smoking more & more

I used to work with Kenny
In a shitty phone room in L.A.
He would go in the bathroom & smoke crack
We would hear him banging on the walls
He’d come out & start calling everyone names
Kenny would sit at his desk
& shoot us all with his fingers
I always hated Kenny
Until I got to know him
He became my best friend in the office
We were cruel to him though
We made jokes about crackhead Kenny
Kenny would laugh & play along
Kenny told me about MacArthur Park
I had to see it
I could not live through him
So I walked through it time after time
I didn’t do anything I just witnessed
It was like a prison
Police snipers on the building across the street
To keep the sick contained
People smoking crack
Right in the open
As long as they did it
In this area
It was like walking into hell
Or something like it
Only I was allowed to leave
& returned by choice

I know I cannot live vicariously
But I have seen so many lost in it
Peter & Kenny included
I have seen so many people
Lost . . .
____________

For America

I have seen you
Passing through windows
Of cars & Greyhound buses

I have seen you
Sea to shining sea
Only took three days

I have seen you
Through eyes of visionary hallucinations
Into other dimensions

I have seen you
Sun or snow for christmas
East coast or west

I have seen you
I sit on my Mid West perch
Watching men speak for you
Corporations speaking for them
One that says he is the voice
Of you & all of us
But that’s all just talk
I was working the polls
When he was elected
I watched women cry
After they voted for him

I have seen you
Men think they can buy you
& buy US all your children in the process

I know you’re not
Conservative
Liberal
Control freak
Violent
Aggressive
Patriarchal
A plantation
A reservation
A ghetto
A prison
Abusive
A pit bull watch dog with lipstick
Actin’ all friendly but you’re really watchin’ US

I know you’re not
Military intelligence
Endless war
Embargoes
Oppression
Slavery
An arizona law
& the abuses
I know you’re not
Because I have seen you

I have seen Arizona
& wondered why those rocks over the road
Didn’t just fall down on my car
I have seen you

I know you’re not
Christian
Jewish
Muslim
Buddhist

But I have never seen
A for sale sign
Over your ass or mine
Guess it was there all along
We never saw it
We never saw it coming

When I write Poems
They’re not for you
But it’s okay
They were not love Poems
They were way out political rants
That cursed you with a lower cased a
Some of them bad
Some of them good
But all of them for you
But they weren’t for you

They were for something sinister
I couldn’t see
Projected itself as you
Did evil in your name
Acted like it desecrated itself
Then acted like it did something about it

But that wasn’t you
I have seen the true you
& I pray that vision never dies
I live for these sessions of word play these days
I feel like its all that keeps me going

Reflections In The Bathroom Sink by Mike Meraz

Posted in Mike Meraz with tags on May 23, 2011 by Scot

brushing my teeth
this morning
I realize
the older I get
the less I can handle.

Booger McNulty and Me by Donal Mahoney

Posted in Donal Mahoney with tags on May 23, 2011 by Scot

In 1948 Booger McNulty’s coal yard stirred
constant gossip among the citizens who lived
in little bungalows on narrow blocks
in my far corner of Chicago.
That was more than 60 years ago,
a time when families took Sunday walks
and went back home in time to hear
Jack Benny on the radio.
A Sunday walk didn’t cost a cent,
a price my parents could afford.

When my parents took a Sunday walk,
my sister and I always had to go along,
and every time we’d pass Booger’s place,
I’d hear my mother ask my father
what could possibly be on the other side
of Booger’s 10-foot fence.
Hoping to avoid a conversation,
my father always said he didn’t know
but he believed it couldn’t just be coal.

Back then, every kid in the neighborhood
wanted to climb that fence and look around.
But Booger didn’t feature visitors.
According to the boy whose keister caught
a chunk of coal from Booger’s slingshot,
there was nothing on the other side
except for pigeons and a lot of coal.

In the bungalows surrounding Booger’s place,
immigrants from everywhere slept off beer and garlic
when they weren’t working, which was pretty often,
according to my mother. My father always worked,
digging graves with the other men,
most of them, like him, from Ireland.
He dug graves because some Bulgarian
broke his nose, after which my mother ruled
no more boxing. He’d been undefeated until then.

I was ten in 1948 and I’d climb Booger’s fence
when I was certain he was gone for the night.
Inside the yard I’d climb the piles of coal
until I got tired and then I’d go home
and take a bath before my father saw me.
My mother never let my father see me
cloaked in the soot of Booger’s coal
and she always made me promise
never to go back to Booger’s again.

But on Easter Sunday in 1948,
I went over Booger’s fence a final time.
My mother had taken pains that morning
to get me dressed for the Children’s Mass
and sent me off with a caution to be good.
I always went to Mass, every Sunday,
and I would pray and sing the hymns
and usually I was good but this time
the weather was so nice I decided
to go to Booger’s instead.
He wouldn’t be there on Easter.
It would be just me and the pigeons.
But I was gone for hours that day,
and since no one knew where I was,
a furor in the family flared up,
as I’ll explain later.

.

At school on Monday, Timmy Duffy,
unlike me a favorite of the nuns who taught us,
told me every other boy in class had made it
to the Children’s Mass on Easter.
“And where were you?” he asked.
I told him I’d been sick and thought
with all the polio going around,
I didn’t want to cripple anyone on Easter.
Timmy accepted my excuse because
we were all praying for Mickey Kane,
who’d spent a year in an Iron Lung.
“And so,” said Timmy, “even though
you weren’t there to help, we sang
as loud as we could on Easter,”
something our class always did to keep
the nuns in the aisle from paying us a visit.

I may have sung no hymns that Easter
but I probably looked pretty spiffy
scrambling over Booger’s fence
in my new blue suit, white shirt and tie.
I had a wonderful time in the sun
with pigeons careening in the air.
I was free to climb my favorite pile of coal,
toboggan down on my duff,
and then climb a different pile
and toboggan down again,
far more fun than any sled in winter.
Hours later when I got hungry,
back over the fence I went
and headed home for dinner.

Every Easter Sunday, we’d have
ham and yams, Brussels sprouts
and rutabaga, favorites of my father
from his youth in Ireland.
But when I got home that day,
we didn’t eat right away
after my father saw me.
As I recall, his reaction was
more Neanderthal than usual.

“Molly,” he roared to my mother,
with his hand on the back of my neck,
“the little bastid says he went to Booger’s!
He never went to Mass!”
And then, despite my mother’s protests,
he grabbed from behind the attic door
a belt that had been hanging there for years,
waiting for a felony like mine to happen.
I knew right away what I had to do
and so I dropped my pants and bent
over at the waist as far as possible.
Without a word, he stropped my arse.

I didn’t cry, gosh no, since tears
would have brought additional licks.
We were Irish, don’tcha know,
so we didn’t cry and we didn’t watch
English movies on TV, either.
The accents of the actors would remind
my father of the Black and Tans,
the English soldiers who imprisoned him
on Spike Island, off the coast of Ireland
when he was just 16.
They grabbed him barefoot in a stream
sneaking guns to the IRA.
In 1920, Irish boys ran guns for the IRA
barefoot through the bogs and streams,
provided they were big enough.

Decades later in Chicago, a stranger,
dressed like a Mormon on an urban mission,
rang our bell and told my father
he was from the IRA and had a medal for him
in honor of his service 40 years earlier.
He said “It took a while for us to find you.”
My father hung the medal in his closet
next to the tan fedora he wore to Irish wakes.
He always went to wakes, hoping to meet
someone “from home.”

So there I was that Easter Sunday,
standing in our tiny parlor with my pants
napping at my ankles, the result
of a wonderful morning at Booger’s
and a terrible afternoon at home.
Now, 60 years later,
when that Easter Sunday comes to mind,
no matter where I am, I whisper,
just in case he still can hear me,
“Pops, I haven’t missed a Mass on Sunday
since I got that Easter stropping.
I guess I learned my lesson.”

And then I tell him, as politely as I can,
that if he can get a pass from wherever
the Lord has stored him, he can verify
my Mass attendance with my wife and kids,
the last of whom, a son, moved out on us
Christmas Eve, 2010, even though
the boy promised his mother and me
a ride to Midnight Mass in his new Hummer.
Two feet of snow we got that evening.

My father would have loved that snow.
Back in ’67, when we got 30 inches of it,
some of it in drifts as high as Booger’s coal,
he was just delighted by the winter scene,
so much so that he had the two of us
shovel frantically for hours,
albeit in our usual Trappist silence.
When we got back to the house,
he told my mother,
with more than a dollop of flair,
the hairs in his nose were frozen.
Thank God my mother had his tea ready,
steaming hot, as it should be, in its cozy
next to his favorite chair.
And she gave me lots of cocoa,
swirling hot with marshmallows
floating on the top.

Now every New Year’s Eve at midnight
(and this has been going on for years)
I see those same marshmallows
when it’s time for me to hoist a glass
and make my toast to Holy Week 1948,
the week that I absorbed without a tear
Booger’s slingshot and my father’s belt.
“Praise the Lord,” I shout,
“and pass the ammunition.”

As the years go by,
fewer guests know what I mean.
But most of them
never had a chance to hear
Jack Benny on the radio.
The young ones always ask
where I got my old fedora.
A couple of them have even said
they’d have it blocked and cleaned.
But most of them, I’m certain,
even though they went to college,
never saw a relic.
They think the old fedora’s
just a hat.

Doing Time by Pris Campbell

Posted in Pris Campbell with tags , on May 19, 2011 by Scot

Midnight. The whomp of a police ‘copter.
I drift up from a dream, sink back,
ask the Dream Man if there’s a support group
for Vietnam wives, marriages dead,
not their husbands.

But you appear, wearing dress whites
from our Pearl Harbor wedding,
wife in red satin on your arm.
I forget the Dream Man, slink away,
Birkenstocks slapping the pavement
in my haste.

I thought you were lucky in your
supply ship assignment.
No jungle
No upriver
No Napalm
Shelled once, your letter screamed
‘They were trying to kill me. They were
trying to kill me!’

I never saw the war in your edginess after
or in the wall you erected between us.

I was too young then to know that it takes
only one knife at the throat, one car wreck,
one rape to change a life and that the wall
you built was your prison, not mine.

Drunks In Heaven by Christopher Robin

Posted in Christopher Robin on May 15, 2011 by Scot

She mentioned
That she’d read somewhere
That people who drink
Can’t get into heaven
and I don’t really go for
That crap
But I replied:
“I want the drunks to go
to Heaven too, geez…
I’d feel like an elitist..”
And anyway,
Who would write the poetry?

-taken from Who Will pay The Royalties for The voices In my Head And Other Poems.

Politics by Neil Ellman

Posted in Neil Ellman with tags on May 15, 2011 by Scot

Although she didn’t know
The difference between
A Socialist and socialite
My mother would sing
“The people’s flag is deepest red
It shrouded oft our martyred dead
And ere their limbs grow stiff and cold
Their blood had died its every fold”
With the joy of the child
She was when she learned the words
Her father taught to her
After he crossed the ocean
With thousands of others like himself
On a freighter
And not a dollar to his name,
Joined the union
Picketed for just a dollar more
And voted as he was told—
And so did she.

the fountain of youth by Carl Miller Daniels

Posted in Carl Miller Daniels with tags on May 15, 2011 by Scot

the train
left at 7 a.m.
**
everybody aboard was unconcerned.
**
they’d eaten cranberries for breakfast,
and rejected the canaries.
**
passengers
often
sniff at stuff they don’t eat,
but could, if they
wanted to.
**
pond scum is really just algae.