ANOTHER PIECE OF USELESS ADVICE
The same rain falling on us
with dreary sincerity
fell on the Great Dead, so-called
despite there being nothing
great about being dead.
Write every day, I was taught.
Better yet, the rain said,
trigger various car alarms,
and whatever the point of two
or more exclamation points in a row is,
browse the pawnshops
and the green spray of hills,
forgetting, if you can, the children
at the gates of the orphanage.
AFTER THE LAST RAIN
hiding in the damp.
in the spent orgies
of starfish leaves.
shreds of birches
and too the frayed gauze
of shorn aspens.
the lake lapping
like a mule under a load.
crows at the flanks
cackle into a ring of char.
a cloud, turgid and mean,
with a double chin
of despots for a hide,
hogs the swimming hole,
inflicting the weight
of its doppelganger;
and hardening the monocles
of ten thousand
LATE NIGHT BLOCK
my hands folded, boney.
corpse-still on my lap.
the fingers not
clog dancing over keys.
only a still ridge
the dark side of the moon.
at two a.m., the dim lamp
is hitting them that way.
shading the bulk of the skin
to pale the knuckles.
each round bump
a bloodless face
of a solider lying near the Marne,
if they moved now,
it would be sweet magic.
make their fiancées
in distant homelands cry.
but the lamp is heavy.
cold as a gibbous sky
soon to cast sleet.
it’s hard to think under its siege
of anything the dead
want to say.
guzzling like a drunk,
vision gets sucked
into your unborn navel,
then whirlpools of torsos
and a nova of dreams.
you ride bright landslides,
snaring creatures of stars:
red mammoths in yoked orbits,
clydesdales of plasma
tethered to a feverish pace.
your sharp cusp
butchers worlds down to gluons.
no blood left,
not even a twinkle.
whatever they saw,
hoboing through the light years,
stretches into a fast-forwarded
movie of everything―
then vanishes like a rubberband
that takes no time at all to snap
and never be.
NIGHT SKIES IN THE DESERT
I have walked the plains of sand and piercing winds
Seeking the places carried upon the winds
The dry desert speaks through a silent darkness
Of the mystery within the hollow winds
Caked river beds reminiscent of the sea
Ache for freedom from storms and surging winds
The moon in coolness like steel and pearl aflame
Rides the mystery of change within night winds
Here in this complex silence, the mind and heart
Speak of momentary stars and ancient winds
Moss on a cypress.
Clouds in a dream.
Silence, the messenger
Silence, the most eloquent
ARS POETICA HAIKU
To talk like the rain.
Words the color of oneself.
This is poetry.
CHOICE, TRAVELING TO A PARTY
Either road is fecund,
ending in wide tables:
one lined with pastries
the other only flowers.
SCALEBOR PARK (1980)
No-one seemed to notice as you shuffled by,
past the white coats in the office,
through the green swing-doors,
that winter’s afternoon, on your way to the river.
And you’d left your cigarettes
on your bedside locker,
like a man not intending to be gone for long.
Later someone told me he’d passed you on the road,
left side rolling, pushing on,
like a man with an appointment, in your leather mules.
It was almost spring when they found your body,
washed up on the sandbanks, a bloated thing.
I think about you often.
And of the things men leave behind.
I kept the faith you gave me ─ may it see you home.
I have been here a month,
sitting in a circle with others,
reading copy and writing heads.
Today I’m convinced
crime in the streets
will never stop
as long as
someone can write
and someone can read.
I spell “ukulele” for Ulrich
and a strange continent of sweat
on the back of my shirt.
“It’s as big as Australia,”
At that moment I know
I’m letting another July
die in Chicago,
reading copy and writing heads.
THE CITY EDITOR
he sits at his desk,
lights a cigar,
starts looking around
like a bear on a waterfall
looking for salmon. He growls
for raw copy, anything typed,
anything with errors in it.
Each day he comes to the office
honed to rectify wrongs.
Suffer the little stories
to come unto him.
they sat by the water
languid bodies on bored sundays
eye frames and red soup cans
they spoke of school yards
bent golf clubs
the price of gold
and the weight of kissing
measured by silver
and rubbed their wrists
WHEN YOU LAUGH BY STARLIGHT
after the golf and champagne glass game is over
empty soda bottles, crumpled cocktail napkins
and the food musters
there is no use, for hands to hold
under running water, you say
ten speed bikes
and long scarves
and missing steps, buzzed
i turn, shuffle
thinking of the empty bottles
the wet book of matches
and you ring my telephone
in the morning
like a classified ad
or looking for a lost pet.
My foolish existence
flows through the river waters
with plastic bags
dancing on it’s head.
THIS IS NOT A POEM ABOUT ICARUS
As if he didn’t fly toward that sun when the sky was sliced in two,
Choosing instead to turn north toward colder climes, whereupon
His wax and feathers froze and Odin spoke saying “all curious boys
Commend themselves to wrong turns sometimes, but you flew
Right and straight this time, handing off the burdens of avarice and
Infamy.” Icarus, not knowing what to say really, surveyed the heights
To which he had aspired. He counted one: I am going to cast out all
My hopes of warmth, and two: freedom’s just another word for
Nothin’ left to lose. The song ringing true in his head, Icarus looked up
And saw his blood blue number written on the sky. “When I am 33,”
He said, “I will die then and all the world will love me.”
ALIEN, MY LOVE MONSTER
Far away, you dream my belly
The one with the line down the middle
Through which babies came sprawling into the world
The one you’ve neither seen nor touched
Years ago I went to New York in spring
And bought you a book, first edition
Signed by a poet you loved and emulated
Your lines like his held out only so much
Until restraint took over
Secrets back in the box, yours, his, mine
The book my small offering to what you wanted
As March took over from the longest winter of our lives
Now we walk such different streets, you and I
My drum is syncopated to the only rhythm I know
Yours to everyone else’s
I like my drum better than yours
Now when the sky streaks toward the West with cold pink fingers
Pointing “come home” I will think of you and the book I put away
Sarah Ahmad lives in Pakistan and is a photographer by profession. Poetry has appeared in Mad Swirl, Full of Crow, Otoliths, Stone’s Throw Magazine, and elsewhere. Chapbook, Unfulfilled Doubts, has recently been released by Artistically Declined Press.
Chris Crittenden teaches environmental ethics for the University of Maine. Much of his writing is done in a hut in a remote spruce forest. Acceptances reinvigorate him now and again, among the hurdles and pitfalls of his obsession to express. He blogs mordantly as Owl Who Laughs.
Howie Good, a journalism professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is the author of 18 print and digital poetry chapbooks as well as a full-length collection of poetry, Lovesick (2009). His second full-length collection, Heart With a Dirty Windshield, will be published by BeWrite Books.
David Kowalczyk lives and writes in Oakfield, New York. His poetry and fiction have appeared in seven anthologies and over one hundred magazines and journals, including Istanbul Literary Journal, California Quarterly, St. Ann’s Review, and The Buffalo News. He has taught English in Changwon, South Korea and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, as well as at Arizona State University.
Donal Mahoney, a native of Chicago, lives in St. Louis, MO. He has worked as an editor for The Chicago Sun-Times, Loyola University Press, and Washington University in St. Louis. He has had poems published in or accepted by The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Commonweal, Public Republic (Bulgaria), Revival (Ireland), The Istanbul Literary Review (Turkey), Poetry Friends, Poetry Super Highway, Pirene’s Fountain (Australia), and other publications.
Joe Montalbo enjoys mint ice cream, naps, and poems by Sharon Olds. He is 22 and currently working towards an M.A. in creative writing.
Christina Murphy’s poetry has appeared or is forthoming in a number of journals including, most recently, ABJECTIVE, Pool: A Journal of Poetry, Splash of Red, Counterexample Poetics, and Blue Fifth Review.
Patricia Murphy received her Doctor of Arts in English from Idaho State University in 2003. She is an Assistant Professor of English and the Writing Program Coordinator at the SUNY Institute of Technology in Utica, NY. She teaches Freshman Composition, Business Writing, Analytical and Research Writing and Creative Writing. Originally from New Jersey, she lives in Clinton, NY, where she spends her spare time organizing creative readings, supporting the After Breast Cancer Group, and participating as a proud member of the Mohawk Valley Peace Coalition.
C.P. Stewart lives with his family in North Yorkshire, England. Formerly singer/songwriter with the cult band Laughing Gravy, his poetry has been widely published in England, Canada, Australia, and the United States . He was a former poetry editor for Sotto Voce Arts and Literary Magazine (U.S) His first poetry collection, Taking it In, was recently published by Koo Poetry Press.
Stephanie Valente lives and writes in New York. One day, she would like to be a silent film star. She can be found at her blog: kitschy.tumblr.com.