R A RIEKKI – 5 POEMS

The

My girlfriend told me her least favorite word is ‘the.’
I asked why. She didn’t know. Said words like ‘pool’

and ‘mouth’ and ‘night’ would kick the’s ass.
But it’s ‘the pool,’ ‘the mouth,’ ‘the night, I said.

Not necessarily, she said, it could be ‘our pool’
or ‘her mouth’ or ‘six nights.’ She went to work.

I sat there thinking about ‘the.’ I looked at ‘the lamp’
and ‘the couch’ and ‘the crack in the ceiling.’

So many the’s in the room. But all of them over-
shadowed by nouns. I looked at a shadow

in the corner. I thought of all of the evil of the world.

~

I Worked Eighty Hours This Week

I worked ninety hours once. On an ambulance.
I had a co-worker who fell asleep once,
driving the ambulance. You only do that once.
But he didn’t get fired though. By the way,
he told me he worked one hundred hours
that week. That’s what you do when you make
minimum wage. A lot of people don’t realize
you make minimum wage on ambulances.
Those ambulance companies rake in billions.
Five thousand dollars to take you from one city
to another city just two cities away. Five grand.
I remember one night when we were waiting
for a call. We were parked near some
telephone wires and a crow came and landed
on the wires and got electrocuted. We were
right there, staring, right at it, like we were just
waiting for it to happen. Strangest thing ever.
My partner called dispatch and reported it.
I remember him saying, just in case any kids
go near it. He hung up. I said, Kids can’t fly.
Then our radio went off. We had another call.
It was for a guy who sat on a pen. When we
got there, the pen was sticking out of him
like a little tail. He asked if he should yank
it out and we yelled no, that it was acting
like a cork. A cork? Yeah, a cork, I said.

~

On the Phone, My Mom Told Me I Should Write a Poem about Working with Coronavirus Patients

I said it’d be a boring poem.
She said, no, that’s not true at all.
I said that all I see is fog, that my mask
fogs up my glasses so I can’t see anything
all day long. I’m in the back of the ambulance
and we just drive them to where they need to go
and I can’t see nothing.
She said that I was exaggerating,
so I took a photo of myself
with my glasses fogged over
like the clouds at the top of mountains in places so high up you can see both heaven and hell at the same time.

~

My Dad was a Good Dad

He told me one time
about coming home
as a kid and finding his mother
passed out
on the kitchen floor.
He thought she was drunk
again
so he pulled her down the hall
to her bedroom and
tucked her in
and it wasn’t till the next day
that he realized
she was dead.
My Dad was a good Dad.
When I worked in the prison system
as part of the nursing station
one prisoner threw his piss
in my face.
He had saved it in a cup.
I remember
after I washed my face
in the prison bathroom
for like a half hour,
not joking,
I looked up,
my hair all wet,
just sopping,
looking like I’d been crying
at the bottom of the ocean
and I smiled,
because I was alive.
My Dad was a good Dad.
That’s all I have to say.

~

I’m Old and I Don’t Make Much Money so I Am Forgotten But I Write to Tell You I Exist Too and the Casino Near My Old House Where I Grew Up Caught Fire

so I went and looked at the ashes
and it made me think of when I was at the guard gate
in the hills
in California
where I’d just stand there
for hours
and hours
and hours
every night and
during the fires there
the ash was falling horizontal
like the world was tilted on its side.

 

 

FIND RON HERE

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ANDREW HUBBARD – 2 POEMS

Sharing the Bathroom

I over-analyze everything

I know it’s true

(And you’ve told me enough times.)

But why on earth

Would I find it sexy

To watch you shave your armpits?

Knowing me you won’t be surprised

To find I made a list:

  • Because everything you do is sexy
  • Because you touch yourself

With such unconscious concentration

  • Because you say you do it

To look pretty for me

  • Because I love the smell of your hair
  • Because it’s something nobody else

Sees you do

  • Because it’s commonplace

And mysterious and intimate

All at the same time.

  • And because the lines of your raised arm,

Your neck, and your wrist

Make me think of a Rodin sculpture.

~

Turn Down the Lights

Hey, it was more than kind of you

To come home with me

And you so much younger

And thinner and all.

And I’ll do my best

Not to disappoint you.

Honest to God, if I disappoint you

I don’t think I’ll ever

Go to a bar again.

But hey I’m going to be honest,

Only because there’s no alternative:

I look better dressed,

So I’m going to turn down the lights.

Those horrible white curvey smiles

On the skin behind my thighs,

They’re from the hip replacements.

The thick-soled shoes

Just bring me back

To the height I used to be.

I joke that my ears pop

When I take them off,

But it’s not that bad.  Yet.

I’m not tearing my eyeballs,

I’m just taking off my contacts.

Hopefully you can’t see me

The same as I can’t see you.

Now excuse me, I’m going to the bathroom

To take some pills.

The flatulence ones work pretty well

And the little blue one

Had damn well better work.

What’s that look you’re giving me?

It better not be

The “I-made-a-mistake” look.

I have many fine qualities.

You said so yourself

Not two hours ago.

Now hang on,

I’ll be right back.

SEPTEMBER 2018

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ELAINE WEBSTER – BORDERLINE

Borderline

 

Quiet along the border,

Stars and moon reflect on water,

Who would have guessed the effect Power had,

On woman, man, and beast?

 

Six hundred fifty miles,

Not long enough to stop the mix,

Of peoples, of places, of life.

Must build stronger and longer,

Wider and higher until the heavens can’t see,

The love of a boy and girl,

Divided at the Borderline.

 

Katrina learned early to be silent,

When asked about family.

She joked about her father wolf,

Uncle coyote and mother earth.

Shy smiles and giggles hid the fears,

That invaded her nighttime dreams.

 

Dash worked cattle and lived to ranch.

He’d seen them take the water,

From here and put it there.

The Power knew nothing

Of natural flows and the thirst,

The thirst of creation.

 

“Buenos Dias,” she said one morning,

To a pickup and a cowboy hat.

Kat knew better than to smile big,

The way he did, with such swag.

 

“Good morning,” he boasted,

Chest out and head high.

“Dash and Kat have a good ring,

Don’t you know?”

They met at sunset in a cabin,

In the shade of the Borderline.

The morning brought a sense of place.

Kat spied a wolf couple and two pups,

Through the pane-less window.

“Dash, that will be us,” she whispered.

“Kat, then let it be,” he answered.

 

Bingo came under a full moon,

His eyes filled with shooting stars.

No wonder he grew so tall,

So fast; to see beyond the Borderline.

 

The night the ICE-men came for Kat,

Dash and Bingo had no choice.

They stood back as the van took their own,

And howled in despair.

 

Soon many joined the pack,

Peering through the wall of fences.

At the Borderline both sides ran the gamut,

Back and forth in emotional and physical despair.

 

The wall extended further,

By the decree of Power.

Families divided—couldn’t get through.

Except to touch snouts or fingers,

Before the Borderline militia threatened,

With freedom denied or death.

 

“There have been walls like this,

Built to deny and control,” said Dash.

“Yes, I know and they did not last,” Bingo pondered,

With the strategy bouncing in his head.

“We will bring Kat and Los Lobos home,

On the next full moon.”

 

The Power ordered a cover-up,

Of how a Dreamer could be deported.

Kat faced the Press from her refuge,

In the church near the Borderline.

She could see the wall of fences,

From the pain-filled window of her soul.

 

Dash and Bingo gambled all they had,

To spread the word of wrongs to be righted.

Their travels took them places,

Where anyone would listen to the pleas of families divided.

No one knows how it happened,

How a Wolf Pack and a Mujer came to Power.

The Press swarmed the White House lawn,

To report the confrontation between Ruler and Ruled.

Bingo led the Mass of People—

Until they filled the World with new understanding.

He stood tall and saw Beyond the Borderline.

~

Find Elaine online here. 

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POETRY: MARLENA CHERTOCK – CEMETARIO GENERAL

Cemetario General

Cemetario General is one of the largest cemeteries in Santiago, Chile. Patio 29 is a plot used to bury the disappeared, the homeless, the unidentified, and victims of the Augusto Pinochet military dictatorship.

 

What’s left of them is arranged in boxes,
fifty or so line a wall.
He turns off the leaf blower,
passes a woman kneeling, her head lowered.

Even in death there are mansions.
Glass criptas encasing tías.
He coaxes leaves away
from the marble structures.

In a narrower section
ice cream and chip vendors push their carts.
Crowded together are plots of dirt, maybe some hierba,
a Nescafé bottle filled with wilted hydrangea.

He asks families to give more.
Sometimes there’s no response. So he digs up the land
and transfers what endured to a mass plot, Patio 29.
He’s so close to the body then, touching its bones.

At home he holds his esposa’s hips
as she cooks dinner, the smell of her sweat and the humitas
mixing in the kitchen air,
holds her as she undresses and they lie down together.

Find her at marlenachertock.com or @mchertock.

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poetry: Joseph Somoza – Hasta La Vista

Hasta La Vista

Here I find myself again,
in the company of
trees and sunshine,
a quiet workday morning.
It’s like emerging from a tunnel
where my mind was cloyed
with mundane matters such as
providing food, doing dishes,
and having to
respond to others—

who are my family,
who have gone back now
to being themselves
in the far distance where I can
make out the details better,
hear their words more clearly
in the sparse air between
here and there, as if minds can’t
co-exist in close proximity
and must always be
sent on their way.

Order Joseph Somoza’s new volume of poems As Far as I know (Cinco Puntos Press, 2015).

 

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POETRY: Yoni Hammer-Kossoy – Scrawled on a Yosemite Park Map

Scrawled on a Yosemite Park Map

To the couple from the orange tent

whose amorous shushes

crept around the campground

long into the night like a bear

looking for leftovers,

I’m sorry if my kids

happened to slam the car doors

a few too many times

on our way out to an early morning

Ranger-led flora and fauna walk.

 

Staring at a lineup of RVs

crammed with wildlife-gawking

selfie-stick swinging day-trippers,

he said: the valley

had become a petting zoo.

Better head for the high country

if you’re looking for something wild.

 

So we did, and found more people and cars

but also endless pine, something blue

called sky, and mountains rising up

with a shrug that said: if not wild

then closer. Maybe it was the thin air,

or not showering for five days,

but I’d recommend the ice-clear lake

I dove into, for once not wondering

how much time was left on the clock.

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poetry: catherine wolf -hack attack

Hack Attack
Finally! Obama shot back at the Russian hackers
who attacked our computers, the Democratic National Committee,
Hillary’s email, and just fun Vermont’s power grid.

But shot with a BB gun, it could shoot someone’s eye out,
leaving him dazed and bloody, not like a nuke
which could destroy a country or a world,
leaving the scent of smoke no creature could smell.
Obama, did you smell the flaming planet?

Trumpeter tweeted Putin putting off his own retaliation,
shining “very smart.” Treason is giving aid and comfort
to an enemy. Is the president-elect dipping
into treason like chocolate mousse?

Trumpeter sided with WikiLeaks founder
who said “Nyet, not a Russian hack.”
Does dumpy Trumpy want to build a golf course
in Siberia? It’s all about money.

With his glowing bare muscular chest,
Putin must have a dozen women
Trumpet can grope.

~

Bio
Catherine G. Wolf studied language development in graduate school, and was fascinated by this unique human ability. In 1997, when she was stricken with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, her ability to speak was taken away by this disease. She found poetry had a special capability to express her innermost feelings. By losing her physical voice, Catherine found her poetic voice. Catherine has published in the 2016 Rat’s Ass Review edition of Love & Ensuing Madness, Rat’s Ass Review, Front Porch Review, Verse-Virtual, Cacti Fur, and Bellevue Literary Review. She uses assistive technology to communicate, and raises her right eyebrow to type.

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poetry: catherine wolf – the faithful faithless

The Faithful Faithless
After signing 37 petitions, I dreamed
Sunday night 37 faithless members
of the electoral college, but faithful
to the national popular vote,
defected from the orange Rump
and voted for Hillary.
Russian hacking couldn’t turn
our election upside down.
America was great again!
But when I turned on the TV Monday night,
America was raped again.
Two electors dressed in camouflage
fatigues snuck away from the orange Slime
and voted for Kasich and Ron Paul.
On the blue Pantsuit side,
three deranged defectors voted Colin Powell,
one voted for Bernie to keep our revolution alive,
one flew to Native American
Faith Spotted Eagle’s perch.
Hillary won 2,800,000 more than Tiny Fingers,
why isn’t she the President-elect?
Because the electoral college uses
nonsensical rules of assigning electors to states.
It tilts power to small population states.
It’s hardly a college, more like doggy daycare.
Now we’re stuck with climate contrarian,
women-groping, Muslim-hating, Putin-loving,
nuke-hawking, lying-tweeting, cancerous Lump.
Time for a Lumpectomy!

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poetry: catherine wolf – magic spell against trump

Magic Spell Against Trump
Orange Trump,
You rump!
You love Putin,
here’s my sputum.
You brag about women groping.
You’ll end up in jail I’m hoping.
You orange vampire,
you suck blood from those you hire.
You lie about everything, the height of Trump Tower, the popular vote.
Don’t gloat!
You want to deprive us of civil rights.
Hell no! We’ll fight!
You say climate change is a “Chinese hoax.”
Save that for your Florida grandchild when she croaks .

Pugnacious pug!
You’re asking for a slug.
Your businesses, we’ll investigate.
You’ll drown in corrupt-gate.
This country won’t tolerate you.
We’ll impeach, get rid of you.
No sociopath fascist will be president.
In the White House, you’ll no longer be resident.
We will put you in jail.
The end of “Hail
Trump!”

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POETRY: JIM ZOLA – EUGENE

Eugene

I wrote about his death until he died.
Then I became my father. The shift
was gradual, the way a house might inch,
year by year, down an incline towards the street.
Bushes feel the nudge. Sidewalk cracks
could tell a tale, but who would listen?
Eventually the house will tumble

beam to basement. Unless contractors
come in to bolster floor joists, add girders.
When my mother visits for Christmas,
his name isn’t spoken. But in photographs,
I feel his eyes follow my movements.
My oldest son lumbers into the kitchen,
comes to lean against me. I pull away,
afraid of what is already happening.

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