Gaby Bedetti – 2 POEMS

Motion

You speed through

the Minotaur’s labyrinth

hoping to avoid the monster.

The motor responds.

You have another

someplace to go.

You look into the wind,

a lop-eared hound

head out the window.

Complicit,

the GPS tracks your

departures and arrivals.

In your sonic life,

you are the hip hero pointing

toward the next adventure,

the lover with the ball
of thread to navigate

​the labyrinth.

~

Her Final Email

 

Days you stayed in bed.

Migraines. Texas heat

and medications

made you sweat. And then

another week had slipped away,

unlike your chores and wishes.

 

At your desk, a compost heap

of essays. You even began grading

and then Shadow would sigh

to say it was past feeding time

and you abandoned them. You called

him the best dog in the present world.

 

One son announced he was moving back

so you removed the sewing machine

from his room. You then grew angry

with your husband for leaving.

The other son mentioned downsizing

and you heard nursing home.

 

Your grandchildren were delightful.

In your final email, you acknowledged

you were lucky, but only so far.

And soon after, the fatal dose.

We could have reunited,

here in Kentucky or there in Texas.

 

We could have remembered,

and renewed, our luck.

 

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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 – Priorities

Priorities

Reincarnation.
One of those things
I’d like to believe in but can’t
Because of the logical improbability
And the pile of unanswerable questions
About who and when and how and why.

But just suppose
(It’s ok to have a little fun)
That after 200 years of conscious sleep
Some benign authority
Brought you back, age 20
In perfect health, memories intact.

What would you do first?
Eat! Steak—shrimp—
Something with creamy garlic sauce—
Strawberries—chocolate ice cream.

And then make love
Again and again and again, with every sense
On overdrive, and doze off
Smelling her sweat and hearing her whispers.

You’d almost forgotten
How sensuous sleep can be.

Wake up. Repeat,
But with a change of menu:
Coffee, hot eggs with cheese melted over,
Cold white wine, bacon,
Peaches and whipped cream.

Continue this for forty years
Then turn your attention
To intellectual growth and refinement.
Sit with works of Plato, Milton,
Kant, Chaucer, and St. Augustine.
Twenty minutes should do it.
Then get back to the important stuff.

JULY 2020

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ROBERT ALLEN BECKVALL – 3 COVID JAZZ POEMS

Jazz Inspired Writing Project

In the Time of Covid-19

May

Another lovely day because I didn’t take a header off the 12th story balcony. It would surprise the shit out of the folks washing their car down there. Blood, suds, brain matter and spinal fluid. About to die, I say very quietly that I need a drink like Dennis Hopper in True Grit. And luckily they had a hose handy, and they could wipe my brow with the shammy.

<jazz inspirations>

<Pravin Thompson-A Thoughtful Collapse>

<Herb Albert & The Tijuana Brass-Going Places>

This is like my DNA, played so many times in my house when I was growing up. We had whip cream too.

<Yazz Ahmed-Under Quiet Skies>

This life was lived to the fullest, including hearing your horn, young lady. Sublime.

<Yussef Dayes-For My Ladies>

Who profits from the revolution?

Chaos?

Death and destruction?

Who gets a kick, laugh, of their jollies from a million dead?

Hitler, yes.

Who is Hitler now?

Who grinds, for pleasure, under their boot heel?

<Arturo O’Farrill and The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra>

Mother’s Day Thank You/Mahalo/Gracias Letters to Mi Madre Y Mi Esposa (clarity of vision in the time of virus)

~

My Mom-Sandra Sue-The Red Headed Kid from Miami, Arizona

A swan ran right up to me and bit my stomach

Laugh-In, while we practically lived in Burbank. We were born in Burbank. We laughed in Burbank.

I fell out of a tree in Hollywood or thereabouts.

The Batmobile was on display.

The Rose Parade floats, floated past the laundry mat.

<Tito Puente>

We saw the Beatles “Yellow Submarine”

They baked a chocolate choo-choo train cake.

Tacos in yellow paper from Taco Bell, tacos from Jack-when there was still a jack-in-the-box on display

You teamed up with the lady from the Phoenix Library and changed my life forever with Dr. Seuss

Thank you for reading to us from the fairy tale book.

It was a pleasure staying up late with you and watching Johnny Carson.

We watched Walter Cronkite and Neil Armstrong “Take that giant leap for mankind”

Thomas Mall was wonderful with those fish and birds on display.

It was great going with Gram B. to the cafeteria.

We hung with Louis, Rudy, Auntie, Ray, Mickie, the cousins, and of course Gram J., where the slag lit up the sky like lava.

Thanks for tennis, ping-pong, the yellow radio, running/exercising/salads/yogurt, movies late at night, Disney records, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, popsicles, seeing the dog go crazy and tear up the trash and get on the kitchen table, and taking Bill home because he got too scared for the tent.

Thanks for taking my side when I had to smash that kid with a stick in the woods after he pissed on me.

Thanks for the interesting mixed bag of an honors student who was also the student that got in the most trouble.

Thanks for taking me to football and baseball and YMCA.

Thanks for camping trips and trips across the country.

Thanks for cabins, chalets, trips to Disney, trips to Juarez, seeing Elvis’ Graceland, and for helping me take the bottles in from construction in Memphis.

Thanks for letting me spend hours in the record section.

Thanks for letting me play Kiss, Elton John, and Queen too loud.

Thanks for swimming in the swimming pools.

Thanks for the meals, meals, meals, and the cool lunchboxes.

Thanks for halloweens, and Casper masks, and dressing like a bum.

El Paso Tennis Club, Ahwatukee Racquet Club, Kiwanis Tennis Center, Tempe Racquet & Swim, & Corona del Sol.

Thanks for being there when I scored some touchdowns in El Paso & Globe.

Thanks for being there when we baptized the little Chinese kid.

Thanks for the Christmas & flowers & John Wayne.

Thanks for the green enchiladas off Mill at the City of Tempe.

Thanks for the love & thanks for being there for 56+ years.

 

~

For My Beautiful Chinese Girls on Mother’s Day 2020

I am sorry about today and everyday, that was a heaven & hell. As you can see I was an honors kid, who fought, lit fires, smashed windows, stole things, smoked, drank, raised hell at school, and was generally a little shit. There is something wrong under the hood of the car of me. The engine is astray, and it runs very well at times, and at others it sputters and chokes, and makes loud explosions and belches smoke.

This early morning it is running cool and fast, with your favorite music, and on the way to your favorite destination. So let us listen and ride:

Poor mom got so sick when she was with you. Throwing up with regularity, even as she ate so many vegetables so that you could be smart and strong.

When you were born, they had to sew mom back up. It was harrowing. Of course I made it back from the hospital cafe for the great event.

You slept on my chest that night as mom recovered.

OK world, let us announce that Xiao Yi J. Wang-Beckvall is here. The Chinese Viking. AKA, Eir Wang-Beckvall. The Valkyrie Healing Goddess. Did we have some fun?

Running down the birds by the ocean, on my back for Waikiki adventures while mom played tennis, hanging with cousin Matty T at the Turtle Bay.

Rainbow School and checking you in every morning with the armed guards at the federal building. You were VERY safe.

Little outfit for Sacred Hearts, in the dance class and your first piano lessons with the Sister.

Good fun in Arizona at the club, at the Reid Park Zoo (giving a Marine a Barbie for the Toys for Tots), the Desert Museum.

Mom was so nervous at the baseball game, that ran long as the D-backs took so long to beat the Cardinals. The babysitters were up while you cried.

How about some terrorism? Some 9-11? Some Luis Gonzales hitting the winning shot in the bottom of the 9th?

Damn, it’s hot in Tucson & Phoenix. It was light and nice at Mt. Lemmon, in Sedona, in Flagstaff, and eventually in Prescott. In Heber and the Mogollon Rim, it was pine smells and breezes.

Waikiki School was wonderful, and you were a hit to boot. Accompany the singers on piano, play your part in Carmen, and you were what? No, we were what? The student of the year for 5th & 6th grade, while we were named family of the year too? With a certificate from our legislator, still on the fridge as I write? (your damn straight)

You were a thoughtful kid, a quiet kid, a solid kid, a loving kid, a smart kid, with a tough mom, a mom that could go from medicine to education to real estate. A couple of real winning attitude women, and the world needs you now more than ever, as fools of men want to blow up the world because “they can’t have it”, WWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!

It is and was a team effort, mostly with mom and you, but I was there always with a quiet tear in my eye as you sang in broadway numbers, and were named “bestest” young woman of Hawaii. I enjoyed helping you drop off things for the homeless kids, making cards and singing with the old folks at Christmas, and you gave tennis lessons to the little kids here and there.

Mom, like moms around the island, USA, and world are, the backbone of the family, the thoughtful ones, the tried and true ones. The ones that pick up the shit, when the shit hits the fan. Probably thrown by the dads, or sons, or brothers, or other foolhardy souls that inhabit this same realm.

It seems queens and princesses will have to teach and nurse and doctor, and lead their countries out of this black time we call life 2020.

Those beautiful ones that eat vegetables, sing to their stomachs, and stay up at 3 a.m. throwing up because it has to be done by the strongest ones. She is them. Thank you girls. Chinese girls. Strong Chinese girls. Let’s swim.

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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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John Anthony Fingleton – Moorlands

Moorlands

A soft wind blew across the moor,
And the heather danced in tune,
Some grouse flew up to test the air,

Then snuck back, into its sweet perfume.
A sparrow hawk circled low,
In anticipation of its prey,
Then attracted by some other thing;
It quickly flew away.

A beauty haunts this desolate place,
With its contours shaped by ice,
Where beasts can still roam wild and free –
A small touch of paradise.
Bracken on the moor-edge slopes,
Mixed flora in the glens,
All produce their radiant colours,
Without the help or seed of men.

The walkers-path is overgrown,
Not many came this year,
The changes in the weather,
Have brought many summer storms to Clare.
There are some patches now of topsoil,
I hadn’t noticed at first glance,
Just a small sign – like so many others –
That we are on our final chance.

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Julia Gerhardt – The Invisible Stranger

The Invisible Stranger

I love lying,

in my own bed,

with my hands

stretched above my head

and my fingers barely touch one another—

as if they are unfamiliar,

as if they are unknown to the rest of me.

And now it’s not just a touch, but a graze,

an affectionate line drawn onto one finger

by the other.

I wait.

The line ends

and becomes a hook,

an unwillingness to part;

a stage to go through,

a grief.

I don’t want to let go

of the unfamiliar hand,

lying next to mine

The invisible stranger,

I hope to see again.

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Alexus Erin – MAKING SANDWICHES

Making Sandwiches

Me & my brain are making sandwiches for the first time in years
& I remember
I like sourdough. I wonder
whose hands made the bread & if this cooking,

this creation, is a kind of holiness. My brain laughs.
We’re having a sleepover on a school night
& I wonder
whose mother authorized it

By the grace of God
I am with my brain
& by the grace of God,
this brain’s a scrappy one

Which is to say, she is still sprinting: I’m impressed-
she did a lot of math this month. I joke that
she looks like she’s here
to eff the party up.

Brain tells Body (my body’s here too)
The first rule
of any effective love practice
is to synthesize its thoughtwork

with its bodywork: “Classic
substance-presence query, honeybee,” she sighs
& I know
that sigh was for me

I tell them, “First rule
of the big city
is to mind ya own damn business.” My body sets up
a cot at the foot of my bed

Gingerly removes her stockings, that they won’t rip
& I know
mishandling must be a violence
in which the body keeps score. She, of all people,

must be keeping score- I could stand
to learn a thing or two from this inclination
of tenderness, alone
My mouth, every morning,

famously reaching,
rooting ‘round any regional iteration of the daylight
To inhale a verbose evidence
& then exhale, like

my photosynthesis must be scheduled
to kick in any day now
As though this were the only thing
I knew how to do

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Latha Kottapalli – An Ode to Black Gold

An Ode to Black Gold

Roots pulled from hiding

Soothe my soul like soup.

Into you, I empty their skins.

Crucifers crisped to crunch,

Laced with lemon, linger on my tongue.

Into you, I empty their stalks.

Egg whites whipped to stiff peaks

Greet my lips with kisses of meringue.

Into you, I empty their shells.

Coffee beans roasted to an aroma

Titillate my nose to chase the whiff.

Into you, I empty their grounds.

Drupes drooping from stems

Satiate my sweet tooth.

Into you, I empty their stones.

Autumn’s burst of hues,

A muse for my eyes.

Into you, I empty its leaf litter.

Into you, I empty all the refuse.

Off you stir and cook them to a new birth.

Lo and behold, Black Gold tumbles out.

Gold that crumbles to the touch.

Smells like the parched earth

When kissed by the first rain spells.

Gold that soaks up like a sponge, springs up

As the roots, stone fruits, and all that nourishes.

O Earth, your kindness knows no bounds.

 

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Tohm Bakelas – end of an era

end of an era
 
outside the pawnshop
i held those rings
in
my
hand
like
autumn leaves
on the turn of winter—
i felt the beautiful times
crumble in my palm
like
withered november leaves—
how could two rings
represent so much happiness
and then
so
much
pain?
like the last leaf
on an oak tree
winter winds shook me loose
from a numbing reminiscence—
i took a deep breath
went inside
and made the exchange
it was that simple
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