Archive for August, 2019

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

Two Poems by Ramsha Ashraf

Posted in Ramsha Ashraf with tags on August 22, 2019 by Scot

Having Sex with the Author of the Hindoo

The dream of the nazi-Muslim woman died
Of welcoming you to the kingdom of peace
In the club when you asked:
“I know you get a lot of hits by other men but
I’d sing the Smiths to you in your eternal moments of darkness”
That night I didn’t stumble-walk to your place from the club
Night would’ve longed a little more
Only if it was not our parting night
The winter-town sulked over the fact
That your religion won’t be welcomed in my country
You were left alone after we explored
the protagonist’s indecisive shifts
from Seattle riots to Lahore’s Shahi Mohallah
After when you read the Hindoo and covered the Rafi’s vocals
Now I look back and curse the moment
I should’ve loved you and not the author of the Hindoo.
The nazi-Muslim woman who killed herself
for a minute hadn’t died and when I see you come back
in my dreams, I gasp.
I could be more loyal to your body
but you see you had read from the manuscript
the title of which my inner self loathes.
Such a perfect hypocrite I am.
Iqbal Bano’s record still plays
in the backdrop but in my dreams
I can have sex,
not with you but,
with the author of the Hindoo.

———————————-

 

Oblivion is the Word

Can I shake you a little
before sleep lulls you
and you hide your lips
in my breath.

Oblivion is destructive
it kills the peace
and sleep too at times.

I’ve held you against myself
in small square hotel room
with bright transcendence
that bridged mahogany light
with the gloomed darkness.

I have wondered so far
what ecstasy looks like
if it is not our lips
tracing the brackets
of distorted shadows,
our hands anxious
at the spontaneity,
our feet embracing
the enigmatic silence
dissolved within curves
of flesh, joints & bones.

Oblivion is the word,
and may be a woe too,
hard to recognise
yet easy to love.

I have left pieces of you
wandering alone
in the spilt and aroma
of those sheets
where once I have stayed
with you.

____________

 

Ramsha Ashraf is a poet and playwright who lives in Pakistan. She has published a collection of poetry, Enmeshed (2015), and she was a 2017 resident at the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa.

 

Three Poems by Marc Olmsted

Posted in Marc Olmsted with tags on August 21, 2019 by Scot

CALIFORNIA BURNING

I saw the clouds rainbow’d
from the air & then then saw
the fires & when the plane landed
the beautiful horror of the setting sun
an angry red ball
on the tarmac horizon

____________

 

FIERCE GLOW

 

In the public restroom
I am startled by my newly
bleached-out hair
but I’m still old –
now back in the ER
with suffering wife stretched out
in the harsh light
at the end of time
where nurses march through & little happens –
glare down o hospital light!
– fierce bardo glow –
suffering’s end is just a gap
between thoughts
– bedpans & ultrasound cables, her plastic veins to IV bag
suspended cool translucent
from the space
probe rack

 

PRAYER FOR THE ANTS I DIDN’T ASK KILLED

 

the ants were exterminated
the prayer beads broke
I like hamburgers
prayer flags across my roof
how many thousand insect ghosts
blacked out in a white hot scream?
eat your carrots
recycle in the red smog
the plastic bottles
they no longer take

Three Poems by John Patrick Robbins

Posted in John Patrick Robbins with tags on August 20, 2019 by Scot

Package Deal

 

She said to me .

“We are a package deal me and my kids .”

I looked at her and was tempted but one thing I never lost from all the damage I have encored from drinking was my mind .

I took a stamp from my desk and stuck it upon her forehead .

Gave her some extra cash and pointed her down the street towards the post office .

I closed the door and locked it .
And knew I was a selfish prick .

Cause I should have given her more .

But who the fuck knows what postage is on woman and her kids .

And I had a serious drinking problem to support .

You have to get your priorities straight in life .

I chose to return to sender .

A life is something I have grown accustomed to living without for awhile now .

Besides the bear traps had managed to keep the kids off the lawn guess I needed some for the house also .

The true bachelor is becoming an endangered species these days .

____________

 

Fin

 

I find late nights and bad thoughts usually make great bed partners .

I hadn’t been sober long .
And for once I didn’t have a excuse for my bad choices .

It’s hell when there is nobody to blame but the devil.

Course saying Jesus made me do it really didn’t sound right , when busted with a sack of cocaine and a hooker .

Looks like play time was over.

____________


The Coyote And I

 

I’m like that worn out coyote that howls long through the night.

Just to let you know he still exists.

Fueled by bourbon and regrets .
Miles that taught me that isolation is never a bad thing.

And when it comes to other people it’s always better for me to keep my distance.

Drinking my comfort, the page my escape .
Tomorrow does not breathe hope .
But tonight the winds carry my existence .

Howling in spite of the rejections.

In this void I call my home .

____________

 

John Patrick Robbins

Is the editor of the Rye Whiskey Review , Under The Bleachers and Drinkers Only .
He is also the author of Once Upon A Nervous Breakdown from Soma Publishing and Sex Drugs & Poetry from Whiskey City Press .
His publications include . The San Pedro River Review , As It Ought To Be Magazine , Punk Noir Magazine , Ariel Chart , The Mojave River Review , Red Fez , Angry Old Man Magazine, Blognostics ,

His work is always unfiltered.

Four poems by Rob plath

Posted in Rob Plath with tags on August 19, 2019 by Scot

incoming nails

when i was a boy
for a year
my room was
an unfinished attic
from up there
the bloody fights
below were muffled
but still i lay
for hours
on that old narrow
fold-up cot
w/ broken springs
gazing up
between rafters
at incoming nails
& praying to dream
of something soft
___________________

 

one for the lost

the critics will
never take
this knife away

this blade w/ which
i carve
these things

some call them poems
i’m not sure
what they are

& it doesn’t matter
the label
b/c they seem
to save some
of those who are lost
or foaming at the mouth
or so alone
they get vertigo
etc…

the critics
will never take
this blade
from my hands
never get me
to quit carving

b/c for all
their sloppiness
for all their
lack of technique
these poems seem
to save a little

& that’s enough for
my hand to never
let go of this knife

___________________________

over the walls

the nature paintings
my mother hung over
all the fist holes
was too simple a fix
i preferred sneaking
out of my window
& running thru woods
a happy vagabond
blending into shadows
of maples & in love
w/ the rings of oaks
_______________________

grave hands

i want to sink
both hands
into the wet
cement
of my future
tombstone
before it sets
& hardens
like those
dish shaped
plaster casts
we made
in kindergarten
for our mother
no name
no date
no epitaph
just palms
w/ cigarette
burns