People have been trained like circus tigers
To do the unnatural, jump through the narrow circles
Of iron hoops sprinkled with gasoline and set afire,
And then praise the way the fire reddened
The naked upper torso of their whiplash trainers
Who received applause and income from
The volunteered victim’s discomfort and terror. After the agony,
The trained go home to become free
With gin and tonic. Pretend, when drunk,
To be a happy family, even pretend to love
Their children, and show their love by
Taking the children to walk inside the submarine
That was used to kill in one of the many recent wars
But is now docked with a flag by the art museum.
The trip for the edification of children
Is called “freedom,” for it is an escape
From daily life in the public performance cage,
And their isolation at home from each other
In their individual cages called “homes.”
WALLFLOWER DEBUTANTE ON MY NEIGHBOR’S FENCE
I see a Datura flush against the wire fence,
exiled from a warm desert dung heap and transplanted to this New York garden.
White, dark-night blossom, exuberant and hopeful, open petals trumpeting seduction.
Its fragrance wafting under moonlight but seducing neither sphinx moth suitor
nor any night pollinator at all, a wallflower debutante.
For up here September’s hint of evening chill sweeps all twilight courters from the air.
And at first sunlight this Datura rolls its petals into a bolt of pale cloth until evening
when once more it unrolls and trumpets its corolla, only to sit out the night
an old maid in a redolent bridal gown
until October frost snuffs out its midnight perfume.
An enforced chastity, a seedless end for this angel’s-trumpet.
My first job was selling ice cream on the beach,
a peddler in a sea of bare, sandy skin,
and I saw many rough men with eagles or sexy ladies
engraved on their arms or shoulders.
In those days few women dared sport such nonconformity,
lest they be called freak-show ladies.
But the world is a freakish place,
so also on the beach were too many women
with hideous blue numbers seared in their arms,
which they did not hide.
Today the stylus is in fashion among many ladies.
Flowers are engraved on legs and arms,
and blue designs sit seductively on the small of many backs.
Tattoo is a homonym,
for it’s also a kind of taps, a lone bugle summoning the end of day.
The number of ladies with numbers on their arms dwindles towards zero.
Today, let skin flowers bloom on human limbs
and beautiful patterns grace the backs of all ladies.
But never again let those cruel scorched numbers become the fashion.
The Port Authority Bus Terminal is not crowded at midnight. The night laborers going home to small houses in New Jersey, the servicemen displaced in their uniforms, returning to bases, the teenagers in couples, or in noisy herds, huddling together, bellowing about some glorious incident of the exciting evening in ‘Sin City,’ the shabby loiterers, leftovers from another age, standing with hands in pockets, looking for tomorrows, and the eternal cripple of all public places, dragging a reluctant body to somewhere, blinded by yesterdays. They are the poem of the midnight bus depot of cities.
The shops of unfriendly store keepers, swallowed by too many thousands in a hurry, are closed, along with their flowers, books, cigarettes, liquor, drugs, all to speed you on your way and ease you through another day. The huge rush-hour crowds are gone, with no sign of their passing, but gum-wrappers, cigarette butts, trash, left by what hand, what face, in this drab funnel to another place. The gays lurking in the public toilets, fearful of violence, but wooing it in their pitiful trust in luck, as they fulfill some need in a passing suck. The gravel-voices announcing departures in indifferent mumbles, directing to so many gates, people nowhere bound, blindly hoping to be found. Too warm, or too cold, walls too bare, a functional driveway of directions, and everywhere people untouched by loveliness, leaving no mark, or monument, pushing, sweating, arguing, farting, rushing, rushing, eyes closed to imaginings, except for frantic fantasies of sex, sleep, food, any detour from the starkness of this place, the midnight bus depot of cities.
Where do they go, the faceless thousands who step up to the ticket counter, pushing money through the slotted windows, mumbling a name to a tired clerk in shirtsleeves, pushing buttons on an aging machine that produces suddenly a ticket, to where? A thousand towns, villages and cities conjured to existence in this dark, consuming depot, by the restless fingers of a bored clerk. What do they do in the towns and cities? Are they returning home defeated by the great disinterest of the city, to remain, or lick their wounds and venture out again? Visiting family, friends, a school holiday, vacation, some loved-one’s or unloved one’s funeral, a new job or home, a salesman conserving expenses, or someone drawn across this land by the strangeness and mystery of a name of a village, town, or city.
Between putative parental mountains
of diamond and gold Trapananda
nestled down, swaddled in Patagonian
fog, a tender Sleeping Beauty inside
She is a
legend never lost, never to be found
until apocalyptic hurricanes
drive every sublunary mist away.
Rumors sent two and a half centuries
of expeditions seeking for her, greedy
men and credulous, having learned hope and
cruelty from their fanatic priests.
end, enlightenment seeped down even to
the barren foothills of the Andes, the
world contracted to a filled-in map,
and Trapananda, el Ciudad de
los Césares, fog-bound Elelín
never knew the lust she aroused; oblivious,
she never was surprised or kissed or raped.
TIMOTHY JOS. NELSON
Seven Seas Speak
Swoosh, swoosh – some say I sound like a downpour storm: subtle then rising to screaming
the roar of soaring jet Do you hear me? my mumbling; I am a mumbler
Tumbler stumbler rushing rolling salty thunder but you don’t hear me because you don’t
listen I’ve had whales of tales to tell
Listen – hear the trees dancing with the …. you thought I’d say breeze but is that wind a
breeze or an ill wind cracking limbs like cinnamon sticks
Would the ice caps, the North Pole, sit by and just die
Wouldn’t they gather with the once ocean and say –these ants are digging too deeply and
spreading too widely
they would say we’ve been too patient too long
I will melt – now – but will rise my nature is to survive; I will not compromise
Rise up their concrete foundations
Drown their ignorance
I will wash away this second-, third-, fourth-, and one-thousandth-hand smoke
Their stacks rise like trees of disease
We will dampen, soak, saturate, and ruin all the precious memories
We will make water mains a main problem their neglect will be our gain
We have been pissed on, shitted in, and spilled upon all in the name of pleasure
And their parchment document written in indigo ink spurring on all forms of self-
indulgence and self righteousness at any cost freedom to take, get, buy, use, sell, destroy,
hunt, maim, make dust all that is deemed open game
Since their work is built on hypocrisy, we the seas shall teach them hypocrisy
The seas shall send gusts of great gales which shall teach true justice
That sound – that is the lusty laugh of salty seas as they listen to gulps and gasps
The seven seas will be free and will be one we are only reclaiming what was once ours
F. JOHN SHARP
I sit on a three by six
piece of land I have
purchased for myself,
whose tallest structure will
one day be a squat granite
marker bearing my name and
a bon mot I’ve yet to write.
I am dying but not
from anything specific.
I look up and down
the row, to get a
sense of the neighborhood.
I don’t make friends easily and
I wonder if there will be
anyone I’d care to know, or
who would care to know me. Maybe
I should look up
the ones who’ve made reservations,
call them, plan a get-together,
go into things with eyes open
so to speak.
There is a tree next to
my little place, planted
within the last year I’d guess,
scrawny branches with leafy
fingers reaching away from
the field of single occupancy units.
Diggers will have to cut through
roots to make mine;
I touch the tree gently,
apologize aloud. Leaves
wag in the breeze with a sound
I lay back my head but
am yet to feel like napping.
FELINO A. SORIANO
—after Clifford Brown’s Joy Spring
Smiling oaks signify
altered anonymity, spiraled shadows
proliferating conversational silence, grass
costumed with black beetle convoys,
sliding. Muted tones
associated with an April fire
release, rhythms breathe and
brigade, highlight quarter of annual
return, spectrum of cold wind
warming into prelude of a Summer’s
—after Bobbi Humphrey’s Rain Again
wear leaf hands, clap a windy
cadence, calling forth
from which cultural difference
does this sound become heritage? Air
extricates limbed dilemmas
fashioning obstacle concepts
into an erased version of life’s
becoming valid. Horizontal
ride atop wet bodies
landing near circles of targeted
distance, drawing with hands of
reversible motion, delicate
cradles of instilled mothering.
STEPHEN JARRELL WILLIAMS
You have told me part of your sadness.
The blue trumpet playing in the background
as we talk, filling me in
with an overpowering urge to hold you,
hours in a swaying spell of comforting…
Your voice wants to moan
through the phone…
My brain clicks into the present.
You are not physically here;
your voice inside the plastic phone.
You’re not in my arms…
You’re in your car driving
to a place I’ve never been.
Is it too late to call you into my life?
Are the women I’ve known destine to suffer?
If only that were true.
You don’t own a car.
You’re not watching
a John Wayne movie.
If I know sounds, it sounds
like I am going to
the hospital kind of
Your engine was groovier
at home. Watching movies
not by John Wayne with
sounds like HYAAAAA
none of those at all. Humm
ing Souped Up Jitney and
Cherry Red ‘53. You know.
More like kissing sounds.
And little softer engine sounds.
And falling to the pavement.
And smiling sounds that
abound like flowers do
There is a position called “The Anvil”, a variation on the “Missionary” in which one’s legs are thrust high into the air in order to achieve maximum penetration but here’s the problem: (1) it would make me feel ridiculous, (2) I agree with famed prostitute Xaviera Hollander that this position achieves minimal g-spot stimulation and maximum fertilization, and worst of all, (3) it makes me reminisce about happier times, being a little girl in the park somewhere in New England squealing WHEEEE on the bright red swing as my legs rose high in the air towards your thick white summer clouds that fucked me ever so much more gently.
SERENA M. TOME
Sketch #15: Seamus Heaney-Mid-Term Break
“…When I came in, and I was embarrassed
By old men standing up to shake my hand
And tell me they were “sorry for my trouble.”
Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest,
Away at school, as my mother held my hand
In hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs… ”
It was Spring and everything
Was covered in caterpillars
The black hairs on their backs
Were like parachutes guiding
Them into enemy territory
The survivors found rest
Wrapped in silk burkas, expanding
Like a pregnant womb
By summer the yard was filled
With a plethora of color,
Majesty in flight
Sketch #16: Felino A. Soriano-Approbation 8
“…Focus, Miss, my want finds your constant leaving.
Allow my throwing arm’s bruised ego
to boomerang leverage around
waist of your windy skin
falling in love squared along
with the mind of my lavish
fire soaked follicles waft
hands on hips blank stare into night’s
green sequin vestments-firefly
air reeks of algae infested pond water
Coltrane’s physics bellow around wooden limbs
as clouds of smoke linker from Newports
stilettos drill decimal points into dirt floor
Brown legs crisscross leather shoes as
dogs bark at cyclic mayhem
Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director, and worked as an art dealer when he couldn’t earn a living in the theater. He has also been a tennis pro, a ditch digger, and a salvage diver. His chapbook Remembrance was published by Origami Condom Press, The Conquest of Somalia was published by Cervena Barva Press, The Dance of Hate was published by Calliope Nerve Media, and Mutilated Girls is being published by Bedouin Press. A collection of his poetry Days of Destruction was published by Skive Press. Another collection Expectations was published by Rogue Scholars Press. His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes, and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway and toured colleges and outdoor performance venues. His poetry has appeared in hundreds of literary magazines. He currently lives in New York City.
Richard Fein was Finalist in The 2004 Center for Book Arts Chapbook Competition. He will soon have a Chapbook published by Parallel Press, University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has been published in many web and print journals, such as Southern Review, Morpo Review, Perigee, Skyline, Oregon East Southern Humanities Review Touchstone, Windsor Review, Maverick, Parnassus Literary Review, Small Pond, Kansas Quarterly, Blue Unicorn, Exquisite Corpse, Terrain Aroostook Review, and many others. He also has an interest in digital photography and have published many of my photos. Samples of his photography can be found at: http://www.pbase.com/bardofbyte
Ricky Garni is a graphic designer whose poetry (what? poetry? what’s the connection?), anyway, whose poetry can be found at Anemone Sidecar, Tinfoiled Dress, Modus Operandi, and other places, but most especially at: www.tinyurl.com/rickygarni.
Duane Locke lives hermetically by ancient oak, an underground stream, and an osprey’s nest in rural Lakeland, Florida. He has as of January 2010, 6,535 different poems published in print magazines, American Poetry Review, Nation ,etc. and e zines, Counter Example Poetics, Pen Himalaya (Nepal), and 21 books of poems. His three latest books, 2009, are Yang Chu’s Poems(376 pp.) Crossing Chaos, Canada( order from publisher or Amazon); Voices from a Grave (40 pp.) erbacce, England (order from erbacce), and Soliloquies from a High Wall Hidden Cemetery(37 pp.) Differentia Press, California. His first book published is 2010 is 53 paged A Marble Nude Pualine Borghese with a Marble Apple in her Marble Hand, Scars press, http://scars.tv. He has interviews in Counter Example Poetics, Eviscerator Heaven, Pen Himalaya, Ann Arbor Review, and Bitter Oleander. He is also a painter and photographer. An account of his painting is in Gary Monroe’s Extraordinary Interpretations ( U of FL press). His sur-photos are scattered throughout the internet, and he has done many book covers. Has a Ph. D, specializing in English Metaphysical Poetry (Donne to Marvel). His interest are philosophy (PostModern, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Martin Heidegger), insects, butterflies, birds, Opera, Mahler, and Viennese music.
Timothy Jos. Nelson received his bachelor’s degree in communication from Towson University, and a master’s in professional writing, also from Towson. In addition to his freelance writing and editing, Tim teaches college composition as an English adjunct in Maryland. A diverse writer, Tim has published both fiction and non-fiction. His homage to Kerouac, and the city of its title, “A San Fran Serious,” was published by Sacramento Free Press as part of its Poems-for-All chapbook series. Other poems have appeared in Poets’ Ink, a Maryland State Poetry & Literary Society broadside, and Grub Street. His music and cultural reviews can be found online at PopMatters.com and Glide magazines (www.glidemagazine.com), among others. Tim was an invited poet presenter to Towson University English Department’s 2008 Spring Reading Series.
F. John Sharp lives and works in the Cleveland, Ohio area. His poetry and fiction have been widely published in both print and electronic form, and he is the fiction editor for RightHandPointing.com. He can be found at FJohnSharp.com, usually having a sandwich.
Felino A. Soriano (b. 1974, California ), is a case manager and advocate for developmentally and physically disabled adults. He has authored 23 collections of poetry, including Altered Aesthetics (ungovernable press, 2009), Construed Implications (erbacce-press, 2009), andDelineated Functions of Congregated Constructs (Calliope Nerve Media, 2010). His poems have appeared at Calliope Nerve, Full of Crow, BlazeVOX, Metazen, Heavy Bear, and elsewhere. He edits & publishes Counterexample Poetics, an online journal of experimental artistry, andDifferentia Press, dedicated to publishing e-chapbooks of experimental poetry. Philosophical studies collocated with his connection to classic and avant-garde jazz explains motivation for poetic occurrences. His website explains further: www.felinoasoriano.info.
Serena Tome launched an international reading series for African children to connect, learn, and participate in literary activity with students from around the world via video conferencing. She has literary work published and/or forthcoming in Ann Arbor Review, Breadcrumb Scabs, Word Riot, Calliope Nerve, Counterexample Poetics, The Stray Branch, and other publications. Her first chapbook is forthcoming with Differentia Press. You can find out more about Serena at: www.serenatome.blogspot.com.
Robert Wexelblatt is professor of humanities at Boston University’s College of General Studies. He has published essays, stories, and poems in a wide variety of journals, two story collections,Life in the Temperate Zone and The Decline of Our Neighborhood, a book of essays, Professors at Play, and the novel Zublinka Among Women, winner of the First Prize for Fiction, Indie Book Awards, 2008.
Stephen Jarrell Williams has been called “The Poet of Doom,” “A Voice in the Wilderness,” and “A Minstrel for Love.” He was born in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. His parents are native Texans. He has lived most of his life in California. His poetry has appeared in Aoife’s Kiss, Aphelion, Blue Collar Review, The Broome Review, Camroc Press Review, Censored Poets, Chronogram Magazine, Deuce Coupe, Fissure Magazine, Freefall, Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, Hawaii Review, Heroin Love Songs, Hungur, Is This Reality, Kalkion, Liquid Imagination, Mad Swirl, Metazen, Mirror Dance, Neonbeam, Nerve Cowboy, Nomad’s Choir, POEM, Poesia, Posey, protestpoems.org, Purpose, REAL, Rusty Truck, Scifaikuest, Sex And Murder, Shoots And Vines, Tales from the Moonlit Path, Thieves Jargon, Zygote In My Coffee, and others.