Archive for May, 2015

scene from a box by DB Cox

Posted in DB Cox with tags on May 23, 2015 by Scot

—For Mack H.

night comes down
like a gate on a chain
here is where i hide
from nameless things
a small lamp
lights the corner where i sit
there’s the sound again
a junk-sick headache
thumping & ringing
& raising hell
inside my skull

i bend forward in the chair
& lay my head on the kitchen table
waiting for the drugs to kick in
when it happens
the fog clears
& some of the bad things
i sit up
& stare at the cracked yellow paint
on the wall
i can feel the sweat
running down
from my hairline
i am sinking & rising
in slow, dark circles
my breathing is slowing down
& the nausea
is beginning to ease off
i let myself sink
like a rock
to the bottom of an abyss
where no one
can reach me

…in the mist-filled darkness
birds cry like human beings
alerting the viet cong
to our every move
the birds are like ghosts
that refuse to depart this world
above ground
threats come from every direction
any time i am moving
along a jungle trail
i can feel the holes below
tugging at the soles of my boots
the only place that i feel safe
crawling around in VC tunnels
with a .45 & a flashlight
inside, i am able
to lose the sense
of where i am
my underground sanctuary…

just to be moving
i get to my feet
walk over to the sink
& throw up
i turn on the faucet
& splash a handful of water
across my face
a sudden sense of dread
crawls along my spine
i let my hand
drop to the .45
strapped to my leg
i look toward the front door
the bolt is locked
i am safe

my headache pounds
like a runaway train
blood pulsing
through constricted veins
i take a flashlight
from the top of the refrigerator
& walk down the hallway
to the bedroom

the room is empty
except for a single throw rug
the walls are bare
no curtains or shades
on the windows
glass panes
all painted gray

i bend down
& slide the rug aside
i lift the trapdoor
& step down

the cellar is damp
& smells of mold
as i move across the floor
i use the flashlight
to scan every corner
of the concrete chamber

outside the night birds
are crying

when i get to my mattress
i kneel down
& roll over onto my back
i slide the pistol
out of the holster
& lay it on my chest
the weight is reassuring
i switch off the flashlight
& close my eyes

far away pinpoints of light
come & go
my mind cannot hold them steady
tiny doors opening & closing
vague reflections
of almost-remembered places
clean, well-lit spaces
that i can imagine
but never know

the flickering fragments
drift away
they are frail
& will not last the night

Five Poems by Amanda Oaks

Posted in Amanda Oaks with tags on May 23, 2015 by Scot

I Remember You 

I remember you,
your fingers on my back,
caterpillars crawling
across the dirty linoleum floor,
cold air whistling
through aged windows,
the rocking chair on the porch
creaking with each breath
from the sky.
I remember you,
flipping over that rock
& finding a beetle
stuck in the mud on its back,
legs running in place,
so much like a small town bride,
the hem of her dress
gathering water, darkening
her words.
I remember you,
heart made of whiskey,
that water of life
as valuable as gold.
I remember you,
the overturned trucks
in the yard, the rust staining
your cut-off jean shorts
when you would slink
between them
to get to the dirt road
where we would watch
the dust settle
as the cars passed,
twirling wheat stalks
between our fingers
while they hung out of our mouths like tightropes
for anyone but us
to fall off of,

I remember you.

As I Twist I Hold Tight

Drag her through the river
& she’ll come up dry—

she’ll beach herself
before she bows to bare

her swampland chest,
heart-soaked— bandages

dripping, a slow leak,
a roof holding years of weather,

a lamp that shocks the fingers
every time it is turned on,

the proof tucked away,
a rusty key broken-off

in the lock of a drawer
with no knob.


Messages for the Dead

They said you killed him.
Did you?

There’s a bicycle tire.
It’s sticking out of the heart
of a pond.

It waterwheels
when the wind
snakes through its spokes.

You have dirt in your eyes
& dirt in your hair.
Did you know?

There was hurt
& then a siren,
& the things the newspaper
would never say.

There was a pile of afghans
in a dark room
on top of a chair
sitting in a corner
for years
trapping dust

until we shook it all free.

There’s a tree
growing up towards the sun
in a forgotten silo.

you’ll be able to see her crown
from the road.

You Can’t Hold What I Hold 

There’s a city on my chest,
skyscrapers built of apologies,
guilt— piled in boats
in the river running
by its stadium
hosting the game
of heart vs. brain,

the crowd
had no fuckin’ idea
what is was getting into.

You told me once
that my heavy was easy,
that you spent years
building your arms sturdy for it,

I said, but I was born
to break them down,

there’s nothing easy
about street corners

with busted out streetlights,
or the lonely,
or the high cost of living
with me.

How To Tango 
Demimonde, half-world,
underbelly, rhythm
of a city
with too many men.

in the shadows,
in the streets
& the brothels,
out of thirst
for possession,

a marriage
between two bodies
speaking the language
of survival.


had her pick
from the men,

said, this
is how you tango
in a world where

when we leave you

you take

Unveiled by Sissy Buckles

Posted in Sissy Buckles with tags on May 23, 2015 by Scot

And now looking me
dead straight
in shell shocked eye
the SDPD officer’s last
two words
before handing over
the DV pamphlet were
“be safe” and
blown away that a
mere stranger would
care enough
expressing to me
the consideration
that you can be beautiful
and untouchable
at the same time
coexisting with
the fragile art
of knowing
who has your back
even cold-hearted
statistics report victims
leave and return
an average
seven times before
the final
while in Afghanistan
the shelters are filled
to the brim with
desperate runaway women
seeking sanctuary,
maimed mutilated broken
by the very ones
entrusted to protect
their innocent souls
from harm in collusion
with hell-bent authorities
perpetrating crackdowns
on women wearing
“bad hijab”
one sixteen year old
young beauty’s face dissolved,
once proud Pashtun nose
disintegrated from
corrosive acid flung by her
own mother and
don’t bother inquiring
what she did to provoke
having her perfect skin
melt from delicate bones
I’ve been asked that question
all my life however
I think we can all agree
the brute capable
of such atrocity
has a heart as arid
as Meursault alone
on that barren stretch
of Algerian beach
with the Arab and a gun,
another girl survived
an horrific attack
hunted down by
ax wielding brother who,
after slitting
her beloved’s throat,
took to chopping her up
like a piece of meat
in an abattoir
she’d committed
the ultimate crime
and escaped from an
arranged marriage
with a vicious old man
sullying her families honor
‘I was like a thing
that they sold
he was beating me
with everything near to him,
with his glasses,
mobile phone,
with wood and stones,
his rough bare hands”
and as for me,
you can believe it
there were a lot more
hard revelations
to be had one long ago
sad and bloody
Sunday afternoon.

Three Poems by Doug Draime

Posted in Doug Draime on May 23, 2015 by Scot

 Buck The Fuck Up:
Surf Reflection

There is a scene in Planet of The Apes,
where the Statue of Liberty’s
huge head is decapitated and
all fucked-up and half imbedded
in the sand,

as the surf of the Atlantic
is gently splashing against
the enormous rocks and steel girders
and concrete destruction of
New York City, that is
spewed willy-nilly all along the shore.

Charlton Heston, mis-casted, looking
bewildered without the NRA
and a rifle, comes wandering down the
beach looking for the blood
of those responsible. Heston’s agent,

if he was ever honest with the man,
could have told him, that he (Heston)
and those who think like him
were responsible, are responsible.

But everyone has a starring role in their own movie,
and we all gotta play our part with or, unfortunately,
without, honest agents, or other
greedy, back stabbing assholes.


3:26 P.M.
for Johnny Cocktails
The sunlight
flashes in

when the
double doors

swing open
like a rotating

beacon into
a furrow tomb.

Over At Facebook
The self-proclaimed
outlaw poets
are all over at
snuggling up and
sharing photos
of their kids and pets,

exchanging recipes,
and juicy tidbits
of their
and pseudo-non-
conformist lifestyles.

Which goes to
prove that even the
most superficial
among us, have not
lost the basic need
to communicate
with like-minded

Two Poems by John Grochalski

Posted in John Grochalski with tags on May 23, 2015 by Scot

vanity fair

the poet
had a display for her new book
up at the old squirrel hill barnes & noble

but that wasn’t enough for her

she found me working the circulation desk
in the midst of another hangover

contemplating my fourteen thousand a year salary
and the fact that no one wanted my writing

she said, there’s a display in the lobby
for black history month

okay, i said

i knew the poet from seeing her around campus
back when i went there and thought that college
meant that you’d amount to something in life

other than being a guy with a hangover
working the circulation desk for 14K a year

she said, where’s my book?
you have all of the usual suspects in there
baldwin, hughes, dubois, wright, douglas, and ellison

all men, she said

if you look closely, i said,
i think there’s some rita dove

the poet said, that’s not the point
the point is i’m a woman, a black woman

i’m an artist in this city and a teacher
i do readings, i sit on committees

i’ve written three books in twenty years
and none of them are in your display

i want to know what
you’re going to do about this?
the poet asked me

i shrugged
i said, lady, i think you’re overvaluing
my place in this institution

they check my bag when i leave here
to make sure that i don’t steal anything

oh please, the poet said
because she wasn’t buying my oppression

i wanted to tell her all about hangovers
and fourteen thousand a year
rejection letters and manuscripts fit to burn

but she said, well, something has to be done about this

i said, why don’t you go
up to the barnes & noble
stare at the display of your book for a few hours

maybe that’ll help

the poet rolled her eyes
she said, this isn’t finished

then she stormed out of the library
into the bright cold of an early february afternoon

to go and teach people
how to become poets just like her

while i stood there and checked my wallet
found that i had three dollars left

almost screamed out hallelujah
then wondered what it was i’d do for lunch.

emmylou harris

when i turned thirty
i told my wife
when i turn forty
i’m going to start a punk band
with some old warriors
with teenagers and kids in their twenties
we’ll be the fuckheads
last night she reminded me
that was eleven years ago
i told her time flies like time flies
plus kids in their teens and twenties
are dull substitutes for humanity
they know everything
and they know nothing
they always have their heads buried
in some device made in china
plus i always hated punk music
and i never learned how to play guitar
but would if i could now
i wouldn’t start a band
the idea of collaboration is so foreign to me
i’d just want a bunch of yes men around
to carry out my ideas
my each and every whim
or maybe i’d go it completely alone
record my old man jingles on a computer
give emmylou harris a call
and have her sing background for me
like she did for dylan and neil
and practically everyone else
old emmylou has to be pushing seventy now
but i’ll bet her voice is like a fine wine
more refined than
some twentysomethings
who’d spend their breaks in the recording sessions
smoking e-cigarettes and texting
looking up videos
of people cracking each other in the nuts
instead of coming outside
to get high behind the trash bins
with the rest of the fuckheads
in the band.

Listen Up, Liberals: In the Matter of Eric Garner vs NYPD by Angela Consolo Mankiewicz

Posted in Angela Consolo Mankiewicz with tags on May 23, 2015 by Scot

Beware establishment’s media –
Yes, of course, you know all about it
Of course, nothing they say/print/read would surprise you
Of course, you rail against it day after day

I repeat: Beware the scourge of establishment’s media

Like sweet sounding cicadas
until they transform into locusts, soft tapping
sounds into scratching sounds into sounds
too deafening to be heard.

Listen up, Liberals, before you’re enveloped
by pods of active verbs becoming passive phrases,
where limbs are animated like a cop’s “arm find(ing)
its way around” a black man’s neck*; where scenes
are painted of “noisy” “throngs of (protesters)
scream(ing) at (cops)”…. “who had nothing to do
with this case”, who “feel betrayed” and “demoralized,,
misunderstood and ‘all alone’”**
I repeat: Beware the scourge of establishment’s media

Sleep just a moment today, another moment
tomorrow, a little more next week,
and they will consume you until you believe
that cop’s arm was finding its way around
a black man’s neck, until, betrayed, you’re no longer sure
who is demoralized, misunderstood and all alone.

They can get you – It can happen
I know.

*New York Times, 12/3/14 and **Associated Press, 12/5/14, both as reported in EXTRA! Jan-Feb 2015