Heather Sager – 2 POEMS

The Smokestacks of the Country

And my aunt, a farmer’s daughter,
did not live past 64.
And neither did her brother,
cancer-ridden also.
My farmer grandfather died, heartbroken,
a wheezing lung-diseased hunchback,
before aunt and uncle hit 40.

And the smokestacks of the country
still descend from below the clouds
to settle on the green hills
of the valley.
They puff invisibly, raining destructive chemicals
over the farms and people.
Puffing as they’ve always been
with the newest developments.

People in the neighboring valley,
too, have died.
From cancer of the brain
that afflicts dairy farmers
as well as the diseases
of the pancreas and lung
that affect them.

I lived on that farm.
After Grandpa lost it, Mom and Dad moved in.
A lynx once bit my brother
and the snows were wild
as the old farmhouse cellar was menacing.
Full of potatoes and the odd spiders, blasé-beige,
ball-shaped.
I thought the valleys so green
where I hiked for days and days
as clouds passed from one aisle of the sky
to another.
Little did I know
about the smokestack chemicals
hidden in the sky.
That truth
came out with the bodies, the funerals,
that sudden dismay.

I remember, too, the bees—
giant ones, with Homeric stingers—
and the nests, basketball sized,
humming in the idyllic trees
near the clear stream
where crayfish, perhaps,
still swim.

No, I am incorrect.
The chemical chimeras puff no more.
All the farms are dead.
The suburbs have expanded
and there is hardly any green left
to wander in. The chemicals have moved elsewhere,
into a craftier form.
The stream is paved over,
the field of mustard grass
blazed for new developments.

Was the wild ever really there,
or only in our hammering,
kept, dreaming hearts?

 

~

 

The Way

I neared bliss the way
coins
drop skyward from an open hand
I neared bliss
the way a gambler
lassos
his bartered pride
I neared bliss the way
airborne geese
circled your land
I neared bliss the way
your lips
touched mine

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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

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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 – 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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James Croal Jackson – 2 poems

Always

You paint a heron blue

on brown branch. You

always create.

Your violin blurs into

hand-written sheet

music. Sunshine tints

your hair red. In autumn

you bury yourself

in leaves, tune strings

in the shadows to

summon the sun

and feed violets.

~

Blown-Minded

      “I was born blown-minded

      with an eye on oblivion.”

                       –Young Galaxy

I’ve been sitting at my desk,

no artistic talent, drawing

a primate, the universe,

a fetus, a circus, and

with each I realize I’m

just drawing myself

over and over again–

hurtling through space

and time in my muddled

mind to conclude I don’t

know shit. So all these

lines connect where?

I don’t know whether

I’m looking to God

or to get laid. It’s both

the same, really, accessing

the part of the brain that

activates to a higher calling.

Whether that’s the faith

that I exist right now!

Or I must reproduce!

doesn’t matter.

I am a goddamn mess

made of star matter

and the more I try to

laser-focus my brain

at understanding,

the more I learn

there’s nothing

there. I feel as empty

between my ears

as the space between

Earth and the moon,

but then I learn that

all of the planets

in the solar system

can fit in the distance

between those bodies?

Gray matter.

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ERREN KELLY – A SIN

A Sin

i could go to hell
for what i’m doing
for looking at white thighs
in a pair of levis
mama preached hate
as gospel
don’t talk to white girls
don’t get friendly with them
don’t trust them
she said
even though her best friend
was a white woman
she didn’t want a white man
come to her home
in the middle of the night
complaining about his daughter
being ” corrupted “

you invite me to church
as you take off your blouse
i say, i’ll think about it
i never thought much of jesus freaks
if god is everywhere
then why do we need religion
or a church to get closer
to him
and jesus was not white !
you take off your bra
and your globes succumb to gravity
and they drop downward
and become covered by curly
long red hair
your crucifix makes an imprint
as i press against you
as i kiss you

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