SEATON As we walk across Seaton Beach My Grandfather Asks me of my prospects ‘I’m 75’ He said ‘Soon I’ll be fucking dead’ He seems to think life will work out for me But for a brief moment We are lost Eventually we find my mother And grumpy Grandma Before eating fish and chips My eyes looking up towards the sun Bristol, August 2006 GULAG Where he worked He lived And did not like To be reminded That he did He was always reliable But found others far from it He cursed them Under his breath As the days rolled by With cigarettes and coffee To try and ease the strain Sometimes it rained Sometimes it was windy And jobs would not be done He sat in his chair Made phone calls Annoyed Often cynical He would nonetheless Face his humiliation With a rare bravery One day One of his sons Wrote on a piece of paper ‘GULAG’ And stuck it on the wall Of his office He snarled At his sons sense of humour Because by Christ It felt like one Colchester, April 2007 Mark Anthony Pearce lives and works as a Receptionist in Bristol, England. His poetry has been published in University of Essex Poetry Journal, BS Poetry Magazine and online, Inefável, Coronaverses, Winamop, Horror Sleaze Trash, Duane’s PoeTree & Piker Press. Mark’s writing has also featured in ‘Anne Bean: Self Etc’ (Live Art Development Agency and Intellect Books, Autumn 2018)Read more "MARK ANTHONY PEARCE – 2 POEMS"
IMPRESSIONS OF THE SICK HOUSE
I watch in the world,
amused by massacre and gin,
homeland walls, holiday wars.
Viewed from the barred gate
darkened surveillance cars prowl,
aimless under winter afternoon skies.
Cold weather tramps straggle past
construction generators, pavement gaps,
work order water leaks.
I take into consideration
the symbolic and the sin.
I deny memories useless to me—
week-long binges, wives I’ve cheated with.
Unsettled by panic attack, I leave
a dark bedroom for couch and cable tv.
Lessons located in news video,
detention gangs scour migrant dives,
mercados, work warehouse.
I look away, watch the ceiling fan
swirl shadow circles on the blinds.
In jeans, a Steely Dan tour tee shirt,
almost ready for silence,
I allow days clear of music.
There Is Still Time
There is still time, to park at Marc and Vic’s.
I don’t care what they say, I love summer best, in Las Cruces. Better yet, stop the time machine at Tim and Suzanne‘s, in the summer of dub.
Half of my friends, work for a shitty local pizza chain. The others work for the dream machine called academia. Arguing about another Pablo Neruda poem. And the value of locally sourced Pabst Blue Ribbon.
I wake up due to declining levels of ABV.
Lucas is about to go to work because we’re done poking his Suzuki 50cc belly. But, I’ll be back, for dollar lunch, and my first class at 11:30, still AM.Read more "LANCE GAMBRELL – THERE IS STILL TIME"
On this mountain,
we built likenesses of ourselves
as human beings.
We sent them down to the valley to mingle
with the townspeople.
We went to Dairy Queen, ordered
a Blizzard, bought Megadeth
at the music store, and visited Army gun shows
that exhibited tanks and other
to be one of them, for this and only this
made them happy.
We walked into banks
instead of robbing them.
We took out accounts in fake American names
and sipped free cucumber water.
We went to the movies
carrying tubs of popcorn and 22 liters
of Coke, and pretended we were beautiful
for two hours.
As we rode back up the mountain,
the radio played a country song
about football, pick-up trucks and rebel flags.
We were made to understand these things
An SUV drove across from us, with
an American family. In the front,
a husband and wife took a look
at us. I tried to read the husband’s lips.
I’m pretty sure he was saying, “Stay
away from our borders.”
In the back, a little freckle-faced boy
with a coonskin cap fired a pellet gun
at his kid sister—imagined killing her.
The Washington Monument
shoots up at night like a giant rocket ship to the moon.
The Lincoln Memorial glows majestically.
Dead Presidents stare out through stone eyes,
their heroic expressions rendered masterfully.
Arlington Cemetery overflows
with soldiers who died in their honor.
Rats in subway grates
raid garbage bins for half-eaten Chipotle burritos.
Tourists walk past homeless men
whose hands are swollen
like catcher’s mitts.
A new Whole Foods opens around the corner.
Liquor stores sell lottery tickets
and menthol cigarettes.
At Five Guys, a family huddles
over burgers and Cajun fries, peanut shells on the floor
swept away by Central American teenagers.
Their pimply-faced son
watches the teens work while he chews.Read more "MILES LISS – 2 POEMS"
(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,
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.
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
You paint a heron blue
on brown branch. You
Your violin blurs into
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.
“I was born blown-minded
with an eye on oblivion.”
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!
I am a goddamn mess
made of star matter
and the more I try to
laser-focus my brain
the more I learn
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.Read more "James Croal Jackson – 2 poems"
FLOW POETRY IN HUE, VIETNAM
You speak to your ancestors
lying in shallow graves
mulched over by jungle.
You speak to alligators
and elephants, creatures
life spans longer than yours.
You speak to huddled mothers,
black-eyed babies who utter
never a word or cry.
You speak to bamboo winds,
hollow temples, dynasties fallen
and long forgotten.
You speak to fog-shrouded mountains,
roiling muddy Mekong River,
a black market dog tag.
You speak to rows of mildewed books
in a dozen languages, histories
yearning to be heard.
The raucous birds speak to you:
Go back home or we will use your dreads
to feather our lonely nests.
AND IF PAIN BECOMES A POEM . . .
I am full of poetry.
Poetry screams from every pore of my body.
My right ankle cracks poems so loudly
a microphone twenty feet away picks up the sound.
My left elbow tightens hard enough
I cannot bend it to write a poem without a rough
shake. Electric pings course through my chest,
irregular rhythms, like free verse, thrum inside a fat breast.
(man tits . . . the worst kind of poetic pain!)
Clumsy fingers struggle to write a refrain.
Dimming eyes spill tears, these inky words,
bright flashes of images vanish, go unheard.
Yes, I could continue this medical literary litany
and if pain becomes a true poem, I will die saintly.
I see them on the news.
The scary people.
The scared people.
The people who think of nothing
Who watch as the chaos mounts.
The people who have built
their survival tombs,
stocked with enough food and ammunition
to last as long as necessary . . . until
the last not-one-of-us has fallen
and they can come out again.
These are the cowards.
The true cowards,
for they have the means to change
to take charge
and avert the damnation.
But they won’t.
Because they are hollow.
They are too selfish.
They are too scared.
It is their own fear
that will doom them.
They will become nothing
a destroyed land.
I knew a woman in a wheelchair,
lived in a clapboard house,
with a lawn she somehow trimmed.
and a garden she kept well-tended.
And another had breast cancer.
She wrote letters to all her friends
in the brief nauseous pauses
between radiation treatments.
Another had five kids
and a husband who walked out
but somehow put food on their table
and a roof over their head.
Another got a degree in some branch of science
and the consensus of her male friends was that
“I didn’t know women went in for
that sort of thing.”
Of course, there was the one
who was forever trying to hide
the bruises on her face with makeup,
stayed with her abuser.
And another who hated herself so much
she sat around the house all day,
getting fatter and fatter
so she could hate herself the more.
From the start, there was need for women.
And a physiology to go with it.
Life was incomplete. There was a vacuum.
And then all kinds started filling it.Read more "JOHN GRAY – I KNEW A WOMAN"
lethal as any fire. burning
quietly to smolder
and the flashpoint
which happens when, feeling safe,
you open something up. then
screaming somewhere. people outside. property
gone. handfuls of ash
in a display of some sort
of significance. collapsed up lungs
from falling asleep
too relaxed with a cigarette.
or lighting a candle, even. they’re deadly,
too. electric wires – a slight sign
which lights fires
and kills her
and kills you
and kills you
and goes out.Read more "FALLING ASLEEP – DS Maolalai"
KEEPING MY APPOINTMENT WITH MY ATTORNEY ON A GORGEOUS DAY
School is in session,
Time for another life lesson on the living of life:
Small trees bend from the pressures of an invisible partner,
The wind takes the lead during an unrehearsed tango—
A day of bouquet beauty.
Two young men skate board warriors with tattoo armor
Scroll down the steep asphalt city hill.
I look to the pastel blue sky.
Am I looking at it or looking through it?
Its beauty is my bookmark.
I chose my attorney by the appearance of his desk,
The picture story relief, an atlas of events carved into wood,
Tree rings of life beneath layers of dark stained beginnings.
When will this fiasco end? I ask
And the answer he knew I wanted to hear,
Soon, with hopefully attached loosely.