Two Poems

Poetry
John Grey


Photo Credit: Stéphanie Crombé/Flickr (CC-by)

The Hustlers

He’s out there on the sidewalk.
determined to save all souls.
I drop a quarter in his cup
but I refuse his pamphlet.
I never took Jesus for a beggar.
Or someone who grabs my arm,
regales me to repent.
I’m in a hurry, I tell him.
He replies that there’s no hurry
in eternity.
Yes, and my boss
only thinks he’s God.

A block further
and some guy’s handing out pamphlets
to a strip club.
It’s easier to take one
than be badgered.
It finds its way
into the nearest trash bin.

And let’s not forget
the restaurant owner
who’s on the sidewalk
poking a menu in my face.
Or the guy selling knockoff handbags.
Or watches. Or art books.
Or his sister for all I know.

This city figures it needs to
be in my face.
Then I pass a woman I’d like to know better.
She’s the first one all day
who shrinks from the sight of me.

I got little money
and everybody wants it.
I got a lot of love
but there’s no walking those streets.

 

The Female Poet in the Book Store

She read what seemed to be
an enormous number of her poems,
but there were none that showed
any insightful observation of society.
If her work was any guide,
she was indifferent to the outside world.
There were enough words in her own condition
to fuel a lifetime of poetry.

She shared with us her addictions,
her broken love affairs,
her deadly relationship with her family,
even the travails of her monthly period.
Defeated most times, angry often,
unrelentingly pessimistic
and with body parts to match,
she was like a patient
in an operating theater
who does the cutting open herself.
Blood and bile,
spit and choler,
we got everything bar her stomach contents.

Of course, I applauded
when she was done.
It helps set a guy apart
from whoever he’s applauding.
Then I bought one her books.
Surprisingly,
her intestines were not included.

pencil

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Stillwater Review and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Columbia College Literary Review and Spoon River Poetry Review. Email: jgrey10233[at]aol.com

Little Murders

Poetry
Liz Dolan


Photo Credit: Ed Schipul/Flickr (CC-by-sa)

In the summer of soap
you are ninety-nine
and 44/100% pure-hearted,
Your feet barely
sweep the floor.
You sit tall and
listen. Nothing you do measures up.

Each week you begin again
with a fresh bar of Ivory
carving the head,
breast, wings, the beak.

Sweat clouds your glasses.
Your fingers stiffen, bleed.
Bearing your wingless gift home,
you dig in your nails and scrub
from your hands the ruby stains.

pencil

Liz Dolan’s poetry manuscript, A Secret of Long Life, nominated for a Pushcart, has been published by Cave Moon Press. Her first poetry collection, They Abide, nominated for The McGovern Prize, Ashland University, was published by March Street. An eight-time Pushcart nominee and winner of Best of the Web, she was a finalist for Best of the Net 2014. She won The Nassau Prize for Nonfiction, 2011 and the same prize for fiction, 2015. She has received fellowships from the Delaware Division of the Arts, The Atlantic Center for the Arts and Martha’s Vineyard. Email: lizrosedolan[at]comcast.net

Confined to Thought

Poetry
Holly Day


Photo Credit: Oliver Quinlan/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

If all of our conversations existed only on postcards, if we only
communicated through tiny messages wrapped around the legs of pigeons, if
we were only allowed to speak to one another in carefully-planned semaphore
then, perhaps, we would work. These things we say to one another
need too much planning, carry too much weight for spontaneous voice.
These things are too heavy to be propelled by irresponsible breath.

If you could only give me the time, I could formulate an answer to your accusations
write them down on origami paper, fold them into a swan
push it across the kitchen sink to you as I wash the dishes. Your retort
could come to me in pre-ordered letters of airplane exhaust
spread across the sky, where they make perfect sense.

If this was how we talked, it would be so quiet in this house.
I could concentrate on all of the things that make you so perfect to me
your smell, the way you walk, the feel of your hands
rough against my back. I could hold my tongue long enough
for the tulip bulbs and crocuses out in the garden
to push through all those layers of frozen dirt
to sprout and bloom
and scream for me.

pencil

Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Oyez Review, SLAB, and Gargoyle, while her recently published books include Music Theory for Dummies (3rd edition), Piano All-in-One for Dummies, The Book Of, and Nordeast Minneapolis: A History. Email: lalena[at]bitstream.net

Dry Rope

Broker’s Pick
Timothy Pilgrim


Photo Credit: maciekbor/Flickr (CC-by)

Hiking in, her weight, constant,
seven pounds, be it rain,

snow. Tented on glacier,
summit above, always curled,

her, sinuous pillow for my head—
not left out, laid straight, wet

under anemic stars, knots
pre-tied tight, night icing

each coil and twist. I confess,
I love my dry rope,

pamper her when we go down—
a warm bath, rubbed dry,

draped across the bed,
sinuous, supple, brown.

pencilTimothy Pilgrim, a Pacific Northwest poet and emeritus associate professor of journalism at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash., has published over 300 poems—with acceptances from journals like Seattle Review, San Pedro River Review, Third Wednesday, Prole Press, Cirque and Toasted Cheese. He is author of Mapping Water (Flying Trout Press, 2016). His work can be found at timothypilgrim.org. Email: pilgrimtima[at]gmail.com

Real Man Howls

Poetry
Timothy Pilgrim


Photo Credit: Neha Viswanathan (CC-by-nc)

Armpit hair with darkened curl
announces a soulful,

acoustic woman. Organic.
Escapee from brotherhood

of jockstrap. I sense hope
within black growth, believe

she might, indeed, be free—
doesn’t love beauty contests,

riding horses, can make
a decent quiche—will teach me

how to knit, read Munro aloud,
show me how a real man howls.

pencilTimothy Pilgrim, a Pacific Northwest poet and emeritus associate professor of journalism at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash., has published over 300 poems—with acceptances from journals like Seattle Review, San Pedro River Review, Third Wednesday, Prole Press, Cirque and Toasted Cheese. He is author of Mapping Water (Flying Trout Press, 2016). His work can be found at timothypilgrim.org. Email: pilgrimtima[at]gmail.com

Pulling the Tooth

Poetry
D.W. Moody


Photo Credit: Ben Grantham/Flickr (CC-by)

for days
my jaw my bones my face ached
occupying my waking thoughts
alone in bed I’d stare at the emotionless white ceiling
struggling for a few moments of rest

one morning upon waking
I could feel it slowly letting go of me
it sagged and jiggled in my mouth
alone
with mom working
everyone else
outside playing
not waiting for me to tackle the day’s adventures
even by bus too far the clinic
yes alone
my bare feet padded quietly through the house
till I stood in the cool shadows of the kitchen
hand trembling
hot sauce spreading through my mouth
blood and condiment swirling together
strings of nerves dangling in the crevices of my mouth
a crimson river flowing into the sink
shaking trembling holding my prize of bone

pencilD.W. Moody grew up between California and the Midwest, lived on the streets, hitchhiked around the country, and held a variety of jobs in Kansas and Southern California until settling into life as a librarian. His poems have appeared in Shemom, The Avalon Literary Review and Foliate Oak Literary Magazine. As a new father, life is busy juggling the demands of work and being a committed parent: he writes when he can. Email: d.w.moodysmailbox[at]gmail.com

ChicagoProtestsMarch2016

Poetry
Rose Knapp


Photo Credit: nathanmac87/Flickr (CC-by)

Stale cold black coffee rings
Disintegrating ceramic cups
Ghostly pepper spray mists
Burning blonde-haired chills
Molten smeared ink blotters

pencilRose Knapp is a poet, novelist, electronic music producer, and multimedia artist. She has an experimental novel forthcoming and poetry publications in Chicago Literati, PDXX Collective, BlazeVOX, OccuPoetry, Danse Macabre, and others. She currently divides her time between Brooklyn and Minneapolis. Email: knapp_rose33[at]yahoo.com

Emily as an Attempt at Gun Control #17

Poetry
Darren C. Demaree


Photo Credit: Rémy Saglier/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

Under her bones
& in the middle
of making love

to me with her lithe
body, I am confronted
by the idea,

that though I am
experiencing pleasure,
it’s pleasure enhanced

by the safety
of her body’s cover.
There is no clean shot

at anything other
than my tensing limbs
when Emily is on top.

pencilDarren C. Demaree is the author of six poetry collections, most recently Many Full Hands Applauding Inelegantly (2016, 8th House Publishing). He is the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology and Ovenbird Poetry. He is currently living in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children. Email: darrencdemaree[at]yahoo.com

Night

Broker’s Pick
Richard Dinges


Photo Credit: web4camguy/Flickr (CC-by-sa)

Photo Credit: web4camguy/Flickr (CC-by-sa)

Flesh and breath,
sweat and oily sheen,
bald head, freed from
hair and gray,
muscles bulge then
fall flat, sag into
flatulence, hips
once were hills
to be explored, now
rounded mysteries
under frayed comforters,
night no longer
an exploration,
now a dark cavern
in which to hide.

pencilRichard Dinges has an MA in literary studies from University of Iowa and manages business systems at an insurance company. Abbey, Pulsar, Rio Grande Review, Studio One, and Common Ground Review most recently accepted his poems for their publications. Email: rdinges[at]outlook.com

Alcaics: on a hashtag

Beaver’s Pick
Judith Taylor


Photo Credit: baldeaglebluff/Flickr (CC-by-sa)

Photo Credit: baldeaglebluff/Flickr (CC-by-sa)

What happened? Who knows? No one can read a mind
scroll back the thoughts like seismograph traces, see
just where the quake struck. We are left here
sifting the wreckage for scraps, for reasons

—some prop that gave way, broke under sudden shock,
brought down the whole house. Then we could make ourselves
safe, make our own house safe: the next quake
won’t pull us down, we’ll be ready for it.

It’s that we’re human. That’s what we do. We make
home, shelter; fire, hearth. Structures to keep us safe.
Crops, pasture, fields hacked out of dark woods;
calendars, numbers against the vast sky

that drifts above us. Patterns of when and why:
verse; music; carved stones. Pictures and glossaries.
Faith, hope and love. Just law and mercy.
Everything keeping us sure of our selves,

each other’s selves. So much we can only take
on trust, and walk as if we believe there’s ground
to bear our weight. We have a place here,
that’s what we say in the frightened, quiet time

we try so hard not ever to give ourselves.
We have a home; if not a place, a tribe.
Kith, kin. Or one heart somewhere for us.
Structures we build on a spinning planet

we need to tell each other we trust in still.
If one looks down, looks over the edge, we might
all fall. We need these explanations
—not why a house tumbled down, but why ours

still stands. That hashtag, something we need to hear:
depression lies, we tell ourselves. Something struck
this house or that; some monster drew this
person or that to their self-destruction.

Sounds like a glib line, telling you what you feel’s
false: silence once more slapped over what you know.
More, though, it’s our own mind we talk down,
begging it, almost, to give us good news

tell us we’re part of a world we think true,
can live in, can think we belong in.
We build the house still, tremulous as the ground is.
Stay, please, we say. Stay. Help us to keep it standing.

pencilJudith Taylor comes from Perthshire and now lives and works in Aberdeen, Scotland. Her poetry has appeared widely in magazines and she is the author of two pamphlet collections — Earthlight, (Koo Press, 2006), and Local Colour (Calder Wood Press, 2010). Her first full-length collection will be published by Red Squirrel Press in 2017. Email: j.taylor.09[at]btinternet.com