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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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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JACOB BUTLETT – ASPIRING GAY POET

Aspiring Gay Poet

after Han Yongwun

I’m no Walt Whitman but in bed

I can write with my felt-tip pen

his penis his chin his lips,

and those dimples that hover above his eyelashes as he yawns.

 

When my roommates are away

and even the late hours hush,

I’m still too scared to share

the verse his tongue gave me

to the yawning stars.

 

I’m not an experienced poet, but I can write

his gaze, his laughter,

the way he sneaks across the campus lawn

before walking to my open window,

even each blade of grass

on the path that runs

the many steps from there to now.

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HOLLY DAY – KISS IT ALL AWAY

Kiss It All Away     

 

I crumble under the weight of your wings

as you leap from the balcony and find that you’re only human

and the two of us fall.

 

There are gods burning in the fire place

painfully smiling through bruised lips

I’ve got runs in my hose from their fingernails; they need us, too.

 

What a disappointment it was to discover

that you still have one foot stuck in the real world

and it’s the foot that counts.

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Joe Benevento – Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy

The petite young blonde assigned to guide

me through exercises for relief of my shoulder

pain has cold hands, but a well-trained friendliness

I believe she mostly means.

 

I could be embarrassed by how much stronger

she is, could fit the bill of the old guy, who

brags about how far he could once throw a football

or get grumpier still and say, “Let’s wait ‘til you’re 61,”

 

but of course I won’t be around to see how that works out.

A right “shoulder impingement” is hardly unbearable,

shooting pain only when I reach too far or long

for something over my head, or behind my back,

 

and with my family’s history (three siblings

have already beaten cancer, one has not),

I complain though most would agree I can’t.

Even now my younger brother, prostate cancer

 

gone, has three worse ailments than my single woe.

My mother-in-law has her own cancer battle,

unfair to pick one with an eighty two year old,

but she’s still fighting.  My nephew will lose

 

his stomach in a few days, will hope it takes

its cancer with it. I was aware long before

I met 60 that aging means debilitation, loss;

I’ve already been a regular, with regular lapses

 

visiting nursing homes, in vain efforts to cheer

any of us up. I still have two children at home,

though, and another two out of the house

who might miss me even more than they imagine.

 

Beyond blood, for as long as I keep my job

as a teacher, some young people will have to accept

me as mattering, at least for a term, and those

terms are still acceptable to me, since I’m certain

 

I can live with the pain, or better still,

avoid it almost entirely, if I remember

nevermore to reach too far above

or for anything behind.

 

 

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