JOHN GREY – 2 POEMS

THE TRUNK

I nudge aside some old poems

to get at the real poetry:

love letters from a former flame.

I’ve no idea why I’ve kept them

only that I’m a hoarder,

even of affection.

 

There’s something of nostalgia

to them,

like the Marvel comics

in very good condition,

or the copy of Sports Illustrated

with Larry Bird on the cover,

celebrating a championship.

 

The writing is neat,

the passion likewise,

nothing, I’m sure,

like the long-trashed missives

I sent in response.

Reading between lines is called for.

But, to be honest,

I find more neatness,

only it’s invisible.

 

From memory,

there was no great passion

between the two of us.

It’s what comes of listening to Yes together.

And decking ourselves out

in bell-bottoms.

But they’re part of history.

And, to my mind,

must be preserved.

 

But I throw in a few

more useless items,

bury those letters deeper

going forward.

It’s enough to know they’re there.

No place else would have them.

 

~

 

THE CIGARETTE LONG AFTER

A double downer:

I feel dirty as soot,

sheets smell like dumpster fires.

 

And here,

on a motel side table,

one cigarette burns a long, neglected ash.

No need to smoke it.

 

This room’s like a cigarette

with me cocooned inside it.

You and I shared this roadside hideaway.

Years ago.

Before there were flat-screen TV’s.

Before there was flat anything.

 

Now I lie on a lumpy mattress.

staring up at the nicotine-stained ceiling.

 

My teeth grind the grit

of what was once desire.

Read more "JOHN GREY – 2 POEMS"

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. 

Read more "ELAINE WEBSTER – BORDERLINE"

John C. Krieg – The Bells of the Mission Santa Ysabel

The Bells of the Mission Santa Ysabel

The bells of

The Mission Santa Ysabel

Ring no more

To most parishioners still living

They never have rang in their lifetimes

Being stolen in 1925

The whereabouts of the bells are unknown

Yet it’s expected

That this was an inside job

And that the bells are holed up

Not very far away

Forgotten about in some old shed or barn

The parishioners pray

That this is true

That God will work a mid-level miracle

And see to the safe return of the bells

In 1700 Peter the Great

Of Russia

Melted down all of his homelands’

Church bells

To make cannons for warfare

They fired church bell cannon balls

Which killed people

Did they suffer a holy death

That granted them immediate entrance

Into the kingdom of Heaven

Was this the fate of the bells

Of the Mission Santa Ysabel

The bells

Of the Mission Santa Ysabel

Have remained silent

As to their whereabouts

And to what they may be mixed-up in

The hostage syndrome

They identify with their captors

And don’t try to escape

Who would steal church bells

What kind of a low-life would do such a thing

You would think that they would feel guilty

Every time they heard a church bell ring

Wracked with inconsolable guilt

And with every ding-dong

That ever reached their ears

For the rest of their lives

Cringing on Sundays

At the noon day

At quitting time

The bells

Of the Mission Santa Ysabel

Ring no more

For us

But for their captors

They ring all the time

Clanging out “Thief, thief, thief!”

It must be tough to hold up

Under that kind of condemnation

God must have a hand in this

He keeps the thieves names on His black list

Nothing good could ever come of this

Those bells are surely missed

There’s only one way to escape eternal damnation

Bring back the bells

Of the Mission Santa Ysabel

Buy your way out of hell

God’s not buying what you have to sell

And one can never tell

When things will no longer go so well

Someday the bells

Of the Mission Santa Ysabel

Will chime in joyous rapture

Across the Santa Ysabel Valley

Summoning parishioners to appear

And perhaps shed some tears

Over the long-awaited return of the bells

God being in his Heaven

And all being right with the world

The bells

Of the Mission Santa Ysabel

Don’t ring currently

But even a blind man can see

That God will put an end to this travesty

He will solve the mystery

The bells of the Mission Santa Ysabel

Will once again clang loudly

Ding, dong

No longer gone

The bells of the Mission Santa Ysabel

Will clang loudly

Over the Santa Ysabel Valley

God being in His Heaven

And all being right with the world

Ding

Dong

Ding

Dong

Read more "John C. Krieg – The Bells of the Mission Santa Ysabel"

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.
Read more "R.T. CASTLEBERRY – 2 POEMS"

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.

Read more "LANCE GAMBRELL – THERE IS STILL TIME"

LISA DAY – 6 POEMS

▪️

calmly i look down and see myself low as you could go slow as
light seeping under
a door

i bow to sleep and color
shapes enigmas frogsong
they scoop me into their center and together we live
not selfishly or excludingly
in the pagan arroyo
behind the house under the waxing mormon
tea bush

there was a time i wanted to be you
the lizards and jackrabbits keep this to themselves.

▪️

EVERY COIN WASHES CLEAN AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WELL
july twenty eight
you shattered all illusions

you jerked them off my face in a dry
riverbed tossed my rosy glasses
i kissed my minced
heartflesh twice
ground the
lenses
into fine desert sand
where i buried you

later i dug everything up
renamed it and stirred it
into my hot morning

tea
with honey

can you feel the passion of your indian summer staining every step?

i had my daughter take a picture of me that day
so i could feed the swollen-eyed ghosts
whenever i felt their hot current

struggling
beneath my breath.

▪️

this just surfaced in my heart a foreigner and recluse
so i vowed to write it down in my native
tongue

my last lover short-lived as he was
was neither short nor tall and left
when i had my hardest time
he rearranged his
priorities until
i wasn’t

this is how i understand love
after sixty star-pale mother flesh
years you
teach your eyes
to bless all they see
exchange water for air fire
for earth and never sit until time
tricks you into your own deep embrace

late seasons and all-surrounding grace coordinate as birdwings

i never meant to be alone forever i don’t know what i meant
thinking too much as a child alone in a cactus
garden
that belonged to someone else
about the lives of royalty
faraway places
ugly unfeathered things falling from the sky settling
on pitiless sidewalks
a tiny finger placed softly
upon each heart until
it stopped

when i heard the cry
of doves i knew
i was alone in a desert

nothing is more fully served
the impetuous heart
and nothing has changed
at all

▪️

i trace the rivers
because i am right
handed most of my tributaries
are on the left
hand dug
a brown recluse ran fangs through my middle finger 48 hours ago and i’m waiting for it to fall off

manual labor
true labor of love
the trail of water is white
upon my pale skin
this is what happens when you’re two
four
and sixty

my eyes won’t shut

i’ve known men who can hear the stories
but none who can live with the consequences
because there are some

one is i don’t know if i can still live
here
but it’s home
my body is
home to
me
the falling apart house though
the see through blinds
old cholla laid out
sexy on a bed
of sand to
rot

a forgotten neighborhood built
by elders now crumpled
under kmart quilts
in rest homes

jesus
my finger is throbbing and i cannot watch
another
telenovela tonight

▪️

rolled my window down
hollered is there still a cat under my car
the woman across the street just
stared as she pulled
a lighter from under
her belly and lit a cigarette
i never saw her lips move except to take a drag
as she said
just left

▪️

everything is nothing and god
is alone this way you hold more and feed
the magnetic parsing of the dialectic soul under
a triple eclipse’s simple moon mantra. cloud-water
obscures but it is also helpful. look deeply into it and you will
see no one is ahead nor are they behind. the myth is we all dream naked when everything silent begins
to whisper. the truth is we have
forgotten to listen.

Read more "LISA DAY – 6 POEMS"

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.

Read more "JAMES P. ROBERTS – 3 POEMS"