POETRY: NELS HANSON – KING OF CARROTS

King of Carrots

 

As my father and his friends drilled

with their wildcat rig at the first line

of arid Sierra Nevada foothills my

 

young brothers and I saw a boy our

age by a great overturned silver tank

that winked in the sun near a peeling

 

house with wrinkled green shingles,

asphalt at their curled edges, a couple

rooms with lean-to screen porch. We

 

hiked into waist-high golden oats and

sharp foxtails until we found a door

cut in the dented metal. In the cooler

 

dark the child sat on the dirt strewn

with hundreds of orange carrots still

with feathery leaves. “Why do you

 

pull them up?” I asked. “You should

save them to eat.” I don’t remember

what he answered. Maybe they were

 

his toys or treasure, his only friends,

each yanked like a spirit from its bed

and carried to his round silent house.

 

He was prince of carrots, general of

an army, their god, powerful and rich

enough to let them waste. We didn’t

 

eat any but sat without names inside

a realm of dying vegetables, nothing

to say. We said goodbye and returned

 

down the hill and in my father’s truck

waited in the heat, watching the derrick,

its casing sinking into the ground, our

 

father’s and the others’ arms stained with

yellow drilling mud. No oil gushed and

we drove home from the solitary king

 

in the castle and his fallen subjects like

strange fingers his mother let him gather

and rule in doomed rings all around him.

 

 

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POETRY: Marianne Szlyk – Rocky Mountain High

Rocky Mountain High

I don’t remember mountains in Denver.
I mistook them for clouds steeped
in shadow, soaked in wind, hugging

the horizon, limiting the distance of
our spectacled vision. Without a car,
the road through the mountains was

something to imagine, not to travel.
I remember walking wide streets, past
empty storefronts and flickering neon cacti.

Cutting through the university quad free
of weeds and students, we talked
about books we’d read and then

ambled to Safeway and the apartment.
I remember watching Seinfeld in black
and white. We drank Crystal Pepsi,

ate toasted bagels, the frozen kind,
smaller than my fist. Cynthia drew the
smoky drapes against night’s noise, against

mountains in the distance, the future
of endless beginnings and false starts,
our late twenties, the nineteen nineties.

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POETRY: Sheri Vandermolen – Brown Dog

Brown Dog

 

Brown Dog sleeps in a trash heap

beside the Bière Club,

awaiting exiting patrons,

barley-hopping to Friday night’s next stop,

who might spare her a handful of chicken bones,

a scrap of leftover pork fat.

 

Unable to snub the small dab

of creamed spinach and mashed potatoes

she spies on the broken-slabbed sidewalk,

she consumes the gray-flavored calories

that will sustain her night’s prowl.

 

She watches with maternal fret

as her small companion

dares to dart, despite bum back leg,

across the beehive-alive side road,

avoiding auto-rickshaws and motorbikes

buzzing through their corner

of the pocked urban sprawl.

 

An agile navigator, she joins him.

They give a few quick sniffs,

then trot into fractionated night,

where they’ll blend into the blurred scurry

of Bangalore’s nine million people

and three hundred thousand other street dogs —

a population gone astray.

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POETRY: Ryan Quinn Flanagan – Paging Doctor Numbnuts

Paging Doctor Numbnuts

There was this drunk at the bar
many years ago
who wore a stethoscope around his neck
so everyone would think him
a doctor.
He was in rags otherwise, begging drinks in the worst way,
but always with that stupid black
stethoscope.
One day
a regular decided to screw with him
and wore a stethoscope of
his own.
The drunk drank beside him
for seven straight hours
and did not say
anything.
Then everyone wore a stethoscope,
even the bartender.
Waiting until the drunk went to the crapper
before putting them on.
When he returned
he walked about four feet
then his eyes got really
wide.
Like almonds split with a mallets.
MALPRACTICE!, he screamed,
MALPRACTICE!
MALPRACTICE!
Running out of the bar
so that everyone could share the same
dumb laughter
for once.

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POETRY: JOEY NICOLETTI – SOMETHING IN THE WAY

Something In the Way

When I heard the news that Kurt Cobain died
by shooting himself, stacks of bedpans trembled
in my hospital room. Lyrics of saline

dripped in my arms. I saw an image of Kurt’s face,
his scruff blurry on the TV screen. I recalled
a concert I attended months earlier. I went

and saw Nirvana, Kurt’s group. They performed
an acoustic, hoarse rendition of one of my
favorite songs: Something In The Way.

The puncture marks on my arms were almost
almost completely strummed away
with the memory of each chord. I thought

of his music’s rawness; his screams and whispers
expressed how I felt: frustrated
with the world at that time:

love was never free. I studied hard,
just like my parents and professors told me,
only to find that my degree was a weathered shingle

in a job market of aluminum siding.
I unloaded trucks, and Kurt, Dave Grohl,
Krist Novoselic, and Pat Smear unloaded

their music. I finally felt
as if someone understood me.
And then Kurt’s suicide. And then
my diagnosis: a condition that would

be with me for the rest of my life,
no matter what medical advances were made
or how it was treated. My pre-procedure meal

of ice chips—no dip—melted
in a metal dish. I thought of the mist
of second hand smoke above the stage,

hands in the air as Nirvana played,
me on a friend’s shoulders, singing along,
in my quiet, raspy voice. Before the nurse gave me

my final shot for the day, she explained
what the doctors had in store for me
to my father. I stared at the TV in disbelief.

My father changed the channel. We watched
a documentary about Jupiter, its Great Red Spot
a storm. Lightning crashed in its atmosphere:

my thoughts swept up in its off-key, cloudy air,
no sign of solid ground anywhere.

 

Check out Joey Nicoletti’s blog.

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POETRY: Michael Bartelt – Don’t Try To Escape

Don’t Try To Escape

The empty beer glasses remind me
to take a break from this conversation
I’m having on the nature of impulse
with this girl I didn’t think had it in her.

I stand up, find out I’m drunker
than I thought I was, more open
to this environment
I thought wasn’t for me.

“Not divey enough,” I had said.
“Too many artsy fartsy types.”

New emptiness is being met by the band
playing that familiar song, this feeling
the bartender’s mustache is my own
and I like it, despite the joke I made
to Jack when we walked in.
I think I might have been
bullying myself.

Everything is becoming
too sentimental.
I think I might puke,
so I resolve to slowly kill myself
with a cigarette and some air.

I take my place
by one of those cigarette dispensers,
which I suspect has no need
for the process of emptying and refilling
because around it

there must be a hundred or more
cigarette butts becoming one
with the communist grass.

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