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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“PUTTING YOU THROUGH NOW, CALLER.” – Christopher Barnes

“Putting You Through Now, Caller.” (13)

“What’s the checklist?

How soon before guts on the freeway?

The hood’ll be spattered.

We’ll be on overdrive six months.”

“By then deadwood’ll be birdless,

Whirlblast sparring Central Park.”

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COLEMAN HAWKINS – JOHN DOYLE

Coleman Hawkins

1:33 a.m. Tuesday night;

playing on my cable T.V.

it’s like we were destined to be entwined,

Coleman and me,

so basically, nothing ever happened in-between –

no J.F.K. boning half of Jersey

to get his mind off Bays with Pigs in them,

no Flock of Seagulls or gas shortages

for Austin Powers to mull upon,

just Coleman Hawkins finding his way to me –

commercial break,

first fade to black,

1:38am.

I’ve grabbed my spacesuit and enthusiastically attach it,

there is much for Coleman and I to catch up on when he returns

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JOHN GREY – 2 POEMS

THE EDGE

So there I was

standing at the edge of the cliff with Angela

and we made this vow,

like a wedding vow almost

but with the land dropping away at our feet

and bitter sea-wind blowing in our faces.

It was a pledge to be faithful until death.

I’d known Angela since childhood.

She read books, even difficult ones.

She loved to listen to music.

Her taste extended to jazz.

And she was drawn to the sea.

Not so much to be splashing around in it.

But to observe from a distance,

to feel its power not its playfulness.

The vow was more her idea than mine.

In fact, I was a little uneasy

standing in such a precarious position

on a chilly Fall day.

But she had grown into such a cute teenage girl.

And I loved the touch of her fingers.

And, oh yes, her breath on the back of my neck.

But, after we had repeated our affection so solemnly,

I could detect a certain sadness in her eyes.

It was as if she was saying, “Now what.”

As if dreams end by coming true.

Or a cliff, like the one we peered down from,

offered no opportunities to go any higher.

Or the sea was so vast, so deep,

it could only be indifferent

to two fifteen-year-olds trying to act older.

It was a week later, and in a less perilous setting,

when, with a tear or two, she released me from that vow.

I would have done the same but she beat me to it.

We were not a couple bonded for all time.

But we’d been exposed to the perils of such bondage…

not only bone-shaking and blustery

but at the very edge.

~

A HOUSEFLY REVISITS SYLVIA PLATH

I press against

the curve of glass,

peer out at my world

of linoleum, formica

and stainless steel.

Will I never sip

on the sugar crumbs again

or trot across the good china.

nibbling food-scraps

as I go?

I’m in this bell-jar –

yes, that’s right,

just like Sylvia Plath,

beating my wings,

buzzing loudly.

Well we know

what good that did

for her.

Soon enough,

the oxygen in here

will dissipate

until there’s not enough

to support the likes of me.

Sylvia, I know how

it was for you.

Someone trapped

you in their grip,

popped you into a container,

screwed the lid tight,

left you to choke

on your own imprisonment.

Just like you,

I’ll fall to the bottom eventually.

And yet I’m curious to see

what you have written there.

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TIM STALEY – 13 HAIKU

13 HAIKU   All the naked women turned out to be Barbies on the kitchen floor   ~   The spider grins when something crashes its web and breaks its connections   ~   A crystal airway blocked by a hot dog collapsed the operation   ~   Alone time in December is somber   […]

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JOHN D ROBINSON – THE SLAVE

THE SLAVE

In the back-streets and
public conveniences, in
amongst bushes and
bus shelters, in
abandoned buildings,
slums and plush
apartments,
she’d give head and
hand-jobs for the price
of a bag of heroin,
Joanna would sell her
clothes, her self-respect,
her dear mother’s
soul, her father’s
eyes, her sister’s heart
for a bag of heroin,
she’d blind the sun,
confiscate the moon
and rip the blood
from your veins
for a bag of heroin
and she did
until a fucked-up
batch of heroin
beat her down
forever.

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