R.T. CASTLEBERRY – 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.

 

~

 

SLIVERS
After Creeley’s The Flower
 
I think I layer tensions
like bottles shattered
in ditches the thirsty
refugee hides.
 
Each faulting gesture
blocks breath,
catches in my chest,
cracks knees in a fall.
 
Tension is a wasting blade
It slices that one
and that one
and that one.
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LANCE GAMBRELL – THERE IS STILL TIME

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.

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MILES LISS – 2 POEMS

Aliens

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

war machines.

We pretended

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

with customers

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

meant home.

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.

~

Monuments

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.

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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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JAMES P. ROBERTS – 3 POEMS

FLOW POETRY IN HUE, VIETNAM

                                                        for Adam

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.

COWARDS

I see them on the news.
The scary people.
The scared people.
The people who think of nothing
but themselves.
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
the situation,
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
but shadows
wandering
a destroyed land.

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JOHN GRAY – I KNEW A WOMAN

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.

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