2 POEMS – Jeffrey Zable

NEVER AGAIN May the burning embers twirl around your mustachio and become a river itching itself into a fit of melancholia, while the pumpkins with metal teeth snap at the Christ-like pomegranates. And when the eternal crying begins, may the faces without eyes suddenly profess, “My God, I have no idea how you found me!” […]

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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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SCOTT LAUDATI – THE SANTA FE TRAIL

the santa fe trail

you can read maps by starlight

in places i’ve been

and you sleep like shit

off the mexican beer

and wake up covered in bites

in hotels where

life is impossible

and everything still alive

wants blood.

did you know what you wanted

at the taco truck in dale hart?

do you know that there’s a

whole country out there

that doesn’t care about new york?

i do now.

i might know everything now.

i’ve drank from the shallow creeks.

i’ve chewed the tacos rellenos with

fire still in the seeds.

i looked up for god and every grackle

in the tree followed my gaze.

next time i’ll follow the trails in the sand

and the small streams will lead me to the window rock.

or maybe the other way –

to lay down in a graveyard

where desert rats use cow skulls as ashtrays.

and if the rains ever come again

maybe white petals

will bud up from my bones

and a lost rabbit can

spend a day

sleeping under my shade.

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TERRY HERTZLER – NAPALM

NAPALM

The boy wears only a pale green shirt,
no pants or shorts or shoes–a six-year-old,
fat stick in hand, squatting in the dirt.

He glances up as our convoy passes,
eyes dark and blank, and shifts his weight
to favor his left leg, ridges of scar
from ankle to hip twisted and shiny as plastic.

Yellow dust, kicked up by our truck
hangs in the air, thick and choking.
But the boy, face calm as a cat, just stares,
only his eyelids moving, up and down
up and down. Finally, he looks away and
raising his club, resumes his task,
pounding ants.

~

This poem was originally published in Second Skin by Terry Hertzler (Caernarvon Press, 2003)

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Chella Courington – I SPEND HOURS KILLING CHICKENS

I Spend Hours Killing Chickens

Not with my hands like mom
who swung the bird round
till the neck popped
My machine chops off the head
splatters blood every five seconds
fresh blood that tastes
salty & sweet
Pay is good
What disgusts me is the line chief
During break he tells me he knows
when a girl is on the rag
claims he smells her
says he dumped
his girlfriend
cause she bled too much
He makes me want to
wash with lye
Thursday he follows me to the car
says he dreams about me
eats me in his sleep
I don’t tell him my dream
where the hook curls
through his neck
rips the vessels
as he swings closer to me
operating the blade

~

Find Chella online. 

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ZAC VAN PELT – 2 POEMS

Movie Theater

Stained seats from a plethora of spilt drinks,

that stain might even be melted butter,

surely the brown stuff is melted chocolate.

The floor squelches when you walk,

adhering to your shoe, trying to take it from you.

Faded movie posters promote the blockbusters

come and gone. Dust layers the counter where

butter and sugary sweets used to reside. Sugar to dust,

almost the same but different in color and taste.

Actors still smile where kids ran laughing

the happiness their movies brought still lingers here.

Coffee Shop Vignette

A bell rings softly as the door pushes inward,

outward pushes the smell of bittersweet coffee.

The typical soft jazz of a coffee shop wafts

through the air alongside smells of savory food.

Buzzing chatter underlines the music

with the soft whir of espresso machines adding to

the symphony of the cafe.

Voices talk from walls where no bodies sit

a collection of the conversations absorbed

like the coffee stains the barista hates.

The large glass windows reflect back the

faces of colleges students that haunted the tables.

Rusty circular stains mark the growth

of coffee groups that grew and shrank,

through the years.

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