Michael Lee Johnson – OPEN EYES LAID BACK

Open Eyes Laid Back

 

Open eyes, black-eyed peas,

laid back busy lives,

consuming our hours,

handheld devices

grocery store

“which can Jolly Green Giant peas,

alternatives,

darling, to bring home tonight-

these aisles of decisions.”

Mind gap:

“Before long apps

will be wiping our butts

and we, others, our children

will not notice.”

No worries, outer space,

an app for horoscope, astrology

a co-pilot to keep our cold feet

tucked in.

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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 – POSTCARD FROM PHANTOM RANCH

Postcard from Phantom Ranch

The sights of the inner canyon are breathtaking. Color changing rocks, reflecting the rays of the sun. Each layer opens a chapter of the Earth’s history, and with our friends Merrell, Kelty & MSR we travel back in time. The rocks around me can be as old as 1.8 billion years in age. FYI – A billion seconds is 31 years! But now, in this moment of time, I am on the screened-in porch of the bunkhouse; listening to the wind play with the leaves of the cottonwoods! Join me for a trip next year!

Tonight’s inner canyon menu:
personal Caesar salad,
backpacked steak,
Tecate X4.

wish you were here,
Lance

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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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JOHN TUSTIN – SHOWER, SHAMPOO, SHAVE, SHIT

SHOWER, SHAMPOO, SHAVE AND SHIT

So I was drunk

And the big storm was coming

And I decided I wanted to hear Luke the Drifter.

I get up after a few songs and the darkness has fallen already.

It goes from light to dark in the time it takes

To shower, shampoo, shave and shit

In this place.

Luke gives way to The Stanley Brothers,

The Louvin Brothers.

The night will end with Bob Dylan telling me

The levee’s gonna break.

I look out my window and see nothing but calm,

Darkness.

The storm is coming. Or it’s not.

I can only wait.

Whatever happens,

Be it cleansing or drowning

Or nothing at all.

Let it happen.

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VERN FEIN – AUNT DeDe

AUNT DeDe

is dying to no one’s surprise.
88 and has been failing,
survived Parkinson’s for 15.
Meaningless numbers,
just like the spate of emails
and texts about her pending demise.
There will be no gathering
at her request.
Would be no gathering anyway.
Virtually everyone who would come
have had their own funerals
or live too far away.
The texts elicit tiny pebbles of sorrow,
barely a ripple in our ponds.

She had a vibrant life,
a noted audiologist,
world traveler with her doctor husband.
Then one daughter committed suicide,
another succumbed to a painful disease.
For that Aunt Dede is remembered.
Not her life—those deaths.
Oh, she was also afraid of cats.

Hibernating away at the edge of a Wisconsin burg,
she and her husband dealt in antiques
until they turned into them.
Today no one gave more than a sad
passing nod in their texts
to her going.

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