JOHN TUSTIN – SHOWER, SHAMPOO, SHAVE, SHIT

SHOWER, SHAMPOO, SHAVE AND SHIT

So I was drunk

And the big storm was coming

And I decided I wanted to hear Luke the Drifter.

I get up after a few songs and the darkness has fallen already.

It goes from light to dark in the time it takes

To shower, shampoo, shave and shit

In this place.

Luke gives way to The Stanley Brothers,

The Louvin Brothers.

The night will end with Bob Dylan telling me

The levee’s gonna break.

I look out my window and see nothing but calm,

Darkness.

The storm is coming. Or it’s not.

I can only wait.

Whatever happens,

Be it cleansing or drowning

Or nothing at all.

Let it happen.

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VERN FEIN – AUNT DeDe

AUNT DeDe

is dying to no one’s surprise.
88 and has been failing,
survived Parkinson’s for 15.
Meaningless numbers,
just like the spate of emails
and texts about her pending demise.
There will be no gathering
at her request.
Would be no gathering anyway.
Virtually everyone who would come
have had their own funerals
or live too far away.
The texts elicit tiny pebbles of sorrow,
barely a ripple in our ponds.

She had a vibrant life,
a noted audiologist,
world traveler with her doctor husband.
Then one daughter committed suicide,
another succumbed to a painful disease.
For that Aunt Dede is remembered.
Not her life—those deaths.
Oh, she was also afraid of cats.

Hibernating away at the edge of a Wisconsin burg,
she and her husband dealt in antiques
until they turned into them.
Today no one gave more than a sad
passing nod in their texts
to her going.

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ROBERT FORD – Towards the end of our knowing one another

Towards the end of our knowing one another

that infamous whisky-hour conversation ceased

its looping flight and fell from out of the clouds,

becoming more a string of painful retreats

from the same old mountain, with no guide

to navigate a way between the boulders,

the only choice to keep on going down.

But then I remember you telling me how

you always really preferred the plateau,

the big-sky possibility of the high moors

or the wide-open silence of the desert,

with the comfort of its horizons. How it

bathed you in a bottomless pool of space.

Where did it all disappear to? The quiet

sine-wave of your voice circling my ear?

Sharing your untold versions of the darkness,

pointing them with the tired light of our stars?

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TIM STALEY – A POEM FOR LANCE

DOOMSDAY JOGGING
(for Lance Leonard Gambrell)

Imagine a book
open to the black
depth of the universe.

Death is a wave of sound
you can’t wave off.

Sometimes instead of Lance dying
I imagine the tracks of a train
Vaselined and lit from behind
like an X-ray.

Sometimes instead of him dying
I imagine a steel-blue deity with 18 arms.
I guess 18 arms is how many arms it takes
to headlock something wrong.

I’m likely to round up a common stain
into a regional one or worse: a personal one.

The catch of crying is crying
kills bacteria, releases toxins,
improves vision.

Every white, elastomeric rooftop
in this desert town is haunted
by the dusty fingerprint of rain.
So much dust and blood work
between each papillary ridge.
The desert takes its time
showing us things die.

I was walking the acequia with my daughter
when she told me polar bears
have clear hair.

I was walking the acequia with my daughter
when a jellyfish of photons
came smearing across the tracks,
softening the steel.

I had a vision I went to see him
near the end in a hospital bed.
The walls were smoking
and we were playing dominoes
on a swiveling tray. It was horrifying,
I was still trying to win.

Lance writes poems on pizza boxes.
He gets to stay alive
a little while longer.

Last night tight ropes of light
crossed behind his eyes.
I wasn’t there. I was at home
looking for a dollar.

Last night in the pocket
of a yellow pillow, the tooth fairy
found my daughter’s 11th tooth.
The fairy came with a dollar,
dressed in mirage
except for his flip flops.
I heard in Mexico it’s a rat that comes;
it’s a rat that trades your tooth for cash.

I was walking the acequia with my daughter
when I told her polar bears have clear hair
because the air around those hairs
scatters light of every color
in every direction.
You could tell by her face,
the laws of light
were a let down.

Imagine a book
open on a table
only instead of pages
the black depth of the universe.
Now imagine
sunlight all spread out
on that same table.

Can you see him on a Tuesday in February?
Can you see him leaning
into the needles of wind like a vein?
Can you see him?
He’s walking there with me down Boutz
toward Avenida de Mesilla.
His curls so blond
they mirage.

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James Croal Jackson – 2 poems

Always

You paint a heron blue

on brown branch. You

always create.

Your violin blurs into

hand-written sheet

music. Sunshine tints

your hair red. In autumn

you bury yourself

in leaves, tune strings

in the shadows to

summon the sun

and feed violets.

~

Blown-Minded

      “I was born blown-minded

      with an eye on oblivion.”

                       –Young Galaxy

I’ve been sitting at my desk,

no artistic talent, drawing

a primate, the universe,

a fetus, a circus, and

with each I realize I’m

just drawing myself

over and over again–

hurtling through space

and time in my muddled

mind to conclude I don’t

know shit. So all these

lines connect where?

I don’t know whether

I’m looking to God

or to get laid. It’s both

the same, really, accessing

the part of the brain that

activates to a higher calling.

Whether that’s the faith

that I exist right now!

Or I must reproduce!

doesn’t matter.

I am a goddamn mess

made of star matter

and the more I try to

laser-focus my brain

at understanding,

the more I learn

there’s nothing

there. I feel as empty

between my ears

as the space between

Earth and the moon,

but then I learn that

all of the planets

in the solar system

can fit in the distance

between those bodies?

Gray matter.

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ERREN KELLY – A SIN

A Sin

i could go to hell
for what i’m doing
for looking at white thighs
in a pair of levis
mama preached hate
as gospel
don’t talk to white girls
don’t get friendly with them
don’t trust them
she said
even though her best friend
was a white woman
she didn’t want a white man
come to her home
in the middle of the night
complaining about his daughter
being ” corrupted “

you invite me to church
as you take off your blouse
i say, i’ll think about it
i never thought much of jesus freaks
if god is everywhere
then why do we need religion
or a church to get closer
to him
and jesus was not white !
you take off your bra
and your globes succumb to gravity
and they drop downward
and become covered by curly
long red hair
your crucifix makes an imprint
as i press against you
as i kiss you

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