Archive for August, 2018


Posted in LYNNE SAVITT with tags on August 28, 2018 by Scot


there are three leaks in my bedroom
ceiling as winter keeps us unbalanced
springlike one day alaskan cold the
next like first fourteen year old heart
break you cling to sharp ache of the
boy whose ring you wore round yr
neck caught kissing cheerleader with
long dark ponytail tears like broken
soda fountain poured you bleached
yr hair blonde & never looked back
then on his knees begging for second
chances you’d never fall again pain
kept you safe all the other males vying
for yr yellow head of fluff remember
how good it felt to smash his class
ring with a hammer & throw it into
river of the dripping ceiling reminds
me slow healing makes you strong
enough to break yr heart again & again
each crack cementing grief & joy staining
yr brain like the circles of peeling plaster
i vacuum sad brown carpet waiting for
the roofer who never comes

Four Poems by Kristofer Collins

Posted in Kristofer Collins on August 25, 2018 by Scot



The Departed

for Larry Levis



Behind the corner gas pumps someone has blessed
the late morning traffic with a mural, a procession
of skeletons sagging against the eastern face
of a remodeled bar, and back of that McConway
& Torley adds its daily share of poison to the air.
Larry Levis once intimated loneliness is undignified
then whistled a Billie Holiday tune into his own
last darkness. Did he slip his feet into the water
before walking away? Did he see these white
doses swallowed up by the trusting sky? In the end we all
become timid accountants tallying what we gave and all
we still owe. I come here for the noise and rabble
and a chance at that white horse. I sit at the bar,
lose myself not in the drink but in that river of voices.
Like the other three this river is contaminated,
but still I long for it and, though years will be taken
from me, I bury my head in that deep red rushing.
If I’m very still and listen closely my father’s voice
will surface like flecks of gold in a prospector’s
sieve. It’s true those who remain must carry the departed,
Larry. And there is no shame in that. Hell, it’s good to know
there’s something I still have to offer the so many
I have failed. Alone as I am there is much work to be done.



The Suicides of Paris

It’s spring again and the suicides of Paris are all the rage.
Twin sisters bound at the wrist and twined by bad blood
were pulled from the Seine. Here the Allegheny

is dredged and a stray B-52 becomes the new museum attraction.
Think of it, an atomic bomb right there in the river. Look
at the bodies on the shore. Taste the ash on the air. I know

an artist who insists on leaving the erasures apparent in his pencil
sketches. They fetch good money in Shadyside galleries
where we feel the ghost lines glowing. Old home movies

of Lawrenceville are shown. The colors of the neighborhood
soak into the shoreline soil. Men in old Steelers jerseys
and sometimes bare-chested dive from wobbly canoes,

their children delighted and terrified by the enormity
of the river. The mothers are witnesses to infinite hunger
and the white sky droops across the faces of white buildings.

All of it the same smooth white of scars across the wrist
floating there on the dark and heaving water.


Acts of Contrition

for Jason Irwin

The bell tower burned down the same year my father busted his right wrist
chasing a wobbly foul ball right off the garage roof near Butler and 62nd
and the bells we hear this evening chiming Vespers were first recorded
closer to Cincinnati than to Morningside Avenue, nearer the whispering
west than to these brown choppy waters that take tugs and all the scrap they haul,
concealing them in the shade of metal towers, dark as Washington in funeral regalia
who said too much suffering is never a good thing for any city, his cold eyes
falling across the scabby wet knee of Millvale broken out in blood and beer
and the warning we hear watching the bruised hands of Maxo Vanka in prayer,
and just as it took only one good day for James Wright to declare the impossibility
of death so this one good shot of whiskey absolves us of the burden of our days,
as you become a shadow now fallen across the still surface of your glass, happy to risk
the undertow, foolishly assured I or some good stranger here is strong enough
to carry you should your will give out.


Apology to John Dorsey for Missing His Reading

Let’s blame it on being middle-aged. Let’s say
the languid bodies of the crowd kept me
from coming. My own starched skin prickled
at the touch of the sun and my eyes at full-squint
could not find the way. Let’s say I am a liar.
Strange to think we spend our time this way,
but writing these poems is no different
than drinking at the bar. It’s in our blood, I suppose.
It required generation upon generation of bullshitters
to contort my tongue in this precise fashion. Perhaps
you suffer from this same genetic malady. Instead
I made my way through the dry brush and potted
re-bar to the water. When you get down to its level
it’s black as mirror backing. Nothing but shadows
in there, and the garbage floating down from Blawnox.
Look all you want you’ll never have to confront
your own image here. The muck just won’t allow it.
On days like these I prefer the river to our poems.
If I had to see myself, as I so often do in your words
I don’t know how I could return home, go back to my wife
and believe that yes everything will work out fine.


Kristofer Collins is the publisher of Low Ghost Press and the books editor at Pittsburgh Magazine. He lives in Pittsburgh, PA with his wife Dr. Anna Johnson and their son Cassidy.

Not an age nor an era by D. A. Pratt

Posted in D. A. Pratt with tags on August 20, 2018 by Scot


This is not an age
nor is it an era
and everyone should stop
using these terms: they exaggerate
the mini-moment the world is enduring
and we definitely don’t want to do this —
it truly is “fake news” to call
this an era or an age …

We’re experiencing a period … yes …
a period … this is exactly what it is …
and clearly what the world needs
are tampons worthy of the situation … yes …
tampons … tampons to handle
what we’re all going through …

The world’s collective endurance
of the forty-fifth president
of the United States of America
will ultimately end up being seen
for what is really is: just a period …
not an age … nor an era …
there will be light days
and heavier days —
the tampons we need
will have to be versatile
but that’s all we need …
the flow will end
and we’ll all quickly realize
that the whole damn thing
wasn’t an age
nor an era …

Smoking in the Rain by Jonathan K. Rice

Posted in Jonathan K. Rice with tags on August 14, 2018 by Scot


The road dips ahead of me
beneath a train trestle
with a low clearance,
where an eighteen wheeler
got stuck once years ago.

It widens in a few blocks
where cracks in the asphalt
stretch aimlessly
across intersections.
Potholes dot the way home.

Gears ratchet loudly
as engines rumble
through diesel exhaust.
My hands grip
the steering wheel,
keep my place
in the flow of traffic.

Delivery truck turns a corner
near a drycleaner
and neighborhood grill,
where breakfast aromas
mix with odors
of cleaning solvents.

Muddy water splashes
on a man at a crosswalk.
It’s raining and he has
no umbrella, no hat,
just a flimsy coat
he can’t button up.

He lights a cherry cigarillo
with a disposable lighter
that’s losing its spark,
but manages fire
in the blowing rain.

Racing Thru this Life by Ben Rasnic

Posted in Ben Rasnic with tags on August 8, 2018 by Scot


in shiny metallic
steel pods
illuminating broken yellow lines
on grainy black asphalt,
screaming wheels
careening chaotic
past the silent sway
of white sailboats
in the harbor;
hurtling hell-bent
past concrete walkways
& urban greenbelts
with breakneck abandon
cutting blind bargains
with split second decisions
to arrive at what
final destination,
sometimes sadly
Death’s frayed doormat.

WAITING FOR A SIGN by Michael Minassian

Posted in Michael Minassian with tags on August 8, 2018 by Scot


She waits for me in the garden
without reproach
though darkness gathers
in the tops of the coconut palms
as words are sawn off;
arrested conversations
sway in the wind.

Holding a fistful of fish
she prays to the corporeal
cockatiel, the bishops
and cardinals of dance halls,
theatres, and tambourines.

Night approaches –
birds fall from the sky
feathers and skeletons
beaks and claws,
a currency of flight
and no escape.

Violence by Jeff Nazzaro

Posted in Jeff Nazzaro with tags on August 8, 2018 by Scot

In the ’70s on Main Street
in my little Massachusetts town,
black spray paint on two small
signs—one for the Rotary Club,
one for the speed limit, 45—the
first said “Stop the Draft,” but
by the second the graffitist/protester
had upped the ante to “Fuck the Draft.”

My mother drove to Stadium Pizza,
just over the line in Lowell, then,
coming out with the cardboard boxes,
two young men—my mother called them kids—
spitting F-bombs in each other’s long-haired faces
in the parking lot. My mother hustled
me into the station wagon as they went,
gunning the Chevy’s V8 like the fight
would engulf us all. It did me.

What struck me, watching the narrowing
scene out the rear window, was how
unlike any TV fight I’d seen it was—
flailing fists to the face, thrusting knee
to the ribs, hair everywhere—the mutual
violence, the abject lack of control.
“Don’t look, they’re nuts,” my mother said,
and catching the light sped us for green grass
suburban home.

“What’s stop the draft mean?” I asked her
that day, afraid to use the other word. She
wouldn’t say. She just tsked her tongue
off the roof of her mouth and said,
“Probably the same kid who wrote
‘Eff the draft’ back there.”

She never said the F-word itself then,
either, my mother, so later, when she did,
gratuitously or in anger, it stained
like violence, it hurt like war.