DAVE SLAGLE – KNOWING WHAT YOU WANT

Knowing What You Want

It’s complicated,
helping somebody.

What am I after?
What do you want?
Who goes first?

Notes passed in school.
How to weed this garden?
What are the others like?
Can only try.

Have to dress for work,
and understand the garden
and get really dirty.

Have to be willing
to see flowers fail.

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TERRY HERTZLER – NAPALM

NAPALM

The boy wears only a pale green shirt,
no pants or shorts or shoes–a six-year-old,
fat stick in hand, squatting in the dirt.

He glances up as our convoy passes,
eyes dark and blank, and shifts his weight
to favor his left leg, ridges of scar
from ankle to hip twisted and shiny as plastic.

Yellow dust, kicked up by our truck
hangs in the air, thick and choking.
But the boy, face calm as a cat, just stares,
only his eyelids moving, up and down
up and down. Finally, he looks away and
raising his club, resumes his task,
pounding ants.

~

This poem was originally published in Second Skin by Terry Hertzler (Caernarvon Press, 2003)

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Chella Courington – I SPEND HOURS KILLING CHICKENS

I Spend Hours Killing Chickens

Not with my hands like mom
who swung the bird round
till the neck popped
My machine chops off the head
splatters blood every five seconds
fresh blood that tastes
salty & sweet
Pay is good
What disgusts me is the line chief
During break he tells me he knows
when a girl is on the rag
claims he smells her
says he dumped
his girlfriend
cause she bled too much
He makes me want to
wash with lye
Thursday he follows me to the car
says he dreams about me
eats me in his sleep
I don’t tell him my dream
where the hook curls
through his neck
rips the vessels
as he swings closer to me
operating the blade

~

Find Chella online. 

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RIC MASTEN – THE ENLIGHTENED

THE ENLIGHTENED

when i was younger
i would shoot the rapids
on any subject
showboating in the shallows
and later on
enjoyed being in over my head
discussing the depth
of wider deeper places

however
having spent half my life
working both sides of this river
i feel i know the pools and eddies
fairly well
and when the conversation flows these days
i find it impossible
to wade right in

but don’t misunderstand
the silence
for i do enjoy being here with you
listening
to the things you have to say

and in some small way
comprehending perhaps
why the so-called enlightened
simply stand
by the water
smiling
vacantly

~

This poem was originally published in VOICE OF THE HIVE in 1978 by Smithmark Publications.

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ZAC VAN PELT – 2 POEMS

Movie Theater

Stained seats from a plethora of spilt drinks,

that stain might even be melted butter,

surely the brown stuff is melted chocolate.

The floor squelches when you walk,

adhering to your shoe, trying to take it from you.

Faded movie posters promote the blockbusters

come and gone. Dust layers the counter where

butter and sugary sweets used to reside. Sugar to dust,

almost the same but different in color and taste.

Actors still smile where kids ran laughing

the happiness their movies brought still lingers here.

Coffee Shop Vignette

A bell rings softly as the door pushes inward,

outward pushes the smell of bittersweet coffee.

The typical soft jazz of a coffee shop wafts

through the air alongside smells of savory food.

Buzzing chatter underlines the music

with the soft whir of espresso machines adding to

the symphony of the cafe.

Voices talk from walls where no bodies sit

a collection of the conversations absorbed

like the coffee stains the barista hates.

The large glass windows reflect back the

faces of colleges students that haunted the tables.

Rusty circular stains mark the growth

of coffee groups that grew and shrank,

through the years.

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