WES HOUP – 3 POEMS

Watch Out For Aardvarks

The high council of pissants
carefully reviewed your application
for permanent inclusion and finds that
you lack any clear sense of order;
you remain stubbornly and selfishly
anchored to ephemera
and take on balance
more than you generate and provide.
We acknowledge your curious disposition,
and your genuine affinity for activities
that promise no monetary gain
and thus no clear class mobility.
But this is just a footnote
in a much larger negative report.
We will not, in the end, recommend you
for tenure in our pismire.
Also we are unwilling to discuss
our recommendation
via chem-trail or antennae.
We wish you the best of luck elsewhere,
and watch out for aardvarks.

~

DIGESTATION

a.
Cool spring water shimmers
a narrow dissolution channel
between my legs.
Nearby a raccoon has passed
the entire exoskeleton
of a crayfish,
most likely Cambarus
(given the lack of suitable habitat
for Orconectes),
pincers folded up
in prayer, like Jonah.
Sun-bleached, it looks like
an obtuse piece of diggery,
equipment found in a junkyard
or moldering behind
the dead farmer’s barn.

b.
Where the spring’s flow disappears,
a great horned owl
has eaten a crow,
and from the crow’s feathers
sweet Betsy grows.
Crows die, crows grow,
I know, but woe is he
and she who doubt
the kind of hunger
that forces dominance in the wood,
to eat crow every night
and remain wise,
or the crow, for god’s sake,
the crow, to sacrifice itself
to fertilize trillium.
Pandemonium.
Harmonium.
Ad infinitum.

~

Custodial Testimonial

4:15am, Sunday,
the only other soul
on the road to Damascus
is a young preacher
in a Corolla
headed to the church office
for final revisions.
He’s worried about messaging,
and his left headlight is blank.
God-only-knows-what
he’ll fashion: surely love, hate,
forgiveness, avarice, charity,
or some other heavy cudgel
based on a verse from Acts
magically supported
by a verse from Isaiah.
See? Continuity.
Poof! Even vengeful gods
Change their minds.

I’m headed to work, too,
and I’m also worried.
A wedding party drank and feasted
all yesterday and now
the Forest Lodge sewer line is clogged.
A rough calculation suggests
each person must have defecated
2.3 times to impound (TVA-style)
an 8” pipe. Damn.
That’s a proverbial shitload.
Sadly, there was no child present
able to turn a shitload into wine.
But it’s Sunday morning—
time for forgiveness.
I am here to ease things
to the underworld,
and while I cannot perform miracles,
I know a snake who can.

Advertisements
Read more "WES HOUP – 3 POEMS"

Karen Mandell – YARD SALE

Yard Sale

Useless, I could tell instantly.

Baby toys in plastic orange and red, grimy fry pans,

bent hollowware burning in the sun.

I walk in past the woman and the baby sitting on the concrete stoop.

I’m on my way out before I see the books piled on the grass,

their pages soft with age, the damp dried out of them.

The Sun Also Rises, the striped Scribner edition.

Do I have this one at home?

I crouch down and turn limp pages, not reading, brushing off dust,

unwinding a tendril of cobwebs from my finger.

The odor of paper stored in boxes too long.

This one’s not worth it, broken spine, even for a quarter.

I put fusty Hemingway down.

The baby cries, his voice quavering and scratchy.

The woman picks him up and says it’s time for a nap,

you’re ready aren’t you, you’ll lie down for a little while.

I stand up, the sun hot on my hair.

I want to lie down, a baby, in a darkened room with only a thin cover.

An opened window with a fan going somewhere.

I’d close my eyes even if I didn’t really want to

because there’s not much fight left in me right now.

The baby whimpers.

I forget what city I’m in,

whether it’s Minneapolis or Boston before that or

Chicago back even further.

I’m a burnished nub, everything rubbed out of me,

clarified. Even so, I have to get back to the car,

do the things that make it go,

add on to myself the crumbled pieces

that fell off and lie there, in the grass.

Read more "Karen Mandell – YARD SALE"

Robert Allen Beckvall – MAYBE IT’S FREEDOM

Maybe It’s Freedom

 

Maybe we got souls that crave

The dream of the wild west

With saddlebags and campfires

Teepees and wigwams

Some say we are living a national nightmare

Maybe, just maybe the crazies and druggies and alkies,

Tent dwellers and unbathed, unloved, unlucky,

And the squeezed by technology/big brother/international conglomerates

Want to have fights in saloons

Want a girl from a brothel

Want to ride the plains after the Great White Buffalo

Maybe they want pistol packin’

Vest wearin’, neckerchief tyin’ sheriffs and outlaws

Maybe they want to tan hides and touch their enemies

Or, make love under the stars

While the spirits of the ancestors circle the night sky

Maybe that gal diggin’ bottles and cans from a trash can

Wants to ride with Wild Bill like Calamity Jane

Maybe the guy with oozing diabetes legs

Wants to catch and tame a wild mustang

Maybe they like to dream

That their stolen Safeway cart is a covered wagon

And you’re either driven’ it or attackin’ it

On the wide open plains

Read more "Robert Allen Beckvall – MAYBE IT’S FREEDOM"

STEPHEN MEAD – CORNERS

Corners

I like to imagine not having them,
maybe finding myself in the country,
a ranch hand’s kid who really believes.
I saw it all once on film:
up at dawn tossing hay, carrying pails,
riding flats toward hills wide as far
can exist without sirens,
those usual howling squares.

Yea, that’s the picture I used to hold
while under some strange man, waiting out
the performance in a farm large as Coney
before the hurting would begin & I learned
to coat it, changing my face
to a new line:
“Hey, got the time Mister?”

Sooner than forever it was all over.
I kept eyes on the bed stand’s lamp
& bolted another drink, chinks
of what was happening only a numbing
kind of rush
no match for the stallion-carousel
bright & far away…

Then it turned into a turnpike,
this corner, that,
picking up streams of green paper, cash, fast hands,
ragged breath & more & more concrete.
Now I make sure to only do it in the dark,
keeping my gaze off headlights, off neon,
& I’m afraid to have dreams,
for what if the stables are just a different district
with the stalls all ready &, even there,

this will still be my life?

Read more "STEPHEN MEAD – CORNERS"

JERI THOMPSON – HOPING MAYBE

Hoping Maybe

They always said “Maybe” when they didn’t want to
take my brother and me to Knott’s Berry Farm,
Ringling Brother’s Circus, Disneyland, Marineland.

Then there was Mackinac Island in Michigan.
Our visit, full of grandmothers, grandfathers, uncles and aunts.
They had all been to Mackinac Island.
We asked if we could go this visit, this trip, this time, this place

Mackinac Island. My mother would talk of going there as a girl
where she saw a Pyranha fish in a tank, ate
cotton candy then puked on the next
directionally confused roller coaster going just the right speed.
I got to watch the Banana Split’s Show while pouting
when “Maybe” waved as it passed us on the calendar, as
days fell away too quickly in Michigan. My heart was broken
many times by disappointments from maybes.

My mother didn’t want to say “No,” yet wanted
us to “shut the hell up.” Everyone’s parents mess their kids up
and even as a kid I knew “I’m sorry, no” is easier than another “Maybe.”
“Maybe” taught us hope is a four letter word.
“Hope” taught us not to count on her because she lies.

Read more "JERI THOMPSON – HOPING MAYBE"

JACK FREEMAN – IBRAHIM

Ibrahim

 

Go past the doorway—

past the knitter’s frame,

and the farmer’s wife,

naked in the sod

as if draped in linen—

walk on, into

the dunes, into out-

croppings cut by

ice, into a basin

of dark knots and

ribbons— an oasis

without water (palm

trunks flaking, scalped

dates scattered, half-

buried like scarabs)—

return to the port,

to the foreign stores

peddling screens,

scraps of lithium,

and plastic zip-ties—

place your prayer

rug under your bed,

your prayer book

under your pillow—

on your side, trace

the minaret with

your thumb.

 

Read more "JACK FREEMAN – IBRAHIM"

JOAN MCNERNEY – THE SEARCH

The Search

 

We are the lost who have

climbed hillsides…gathering

innumerable and unnamed

stumbling over sharp rocks

searching for our long shadows.

 

Tracing darkness with

vagrant fingertips

tasting the disdain of dust

we are long shadows

moaning with open mouths.

 

 

Eating bitter food grown

on the wrong side of this moon

our hearts caged in fear

fearing we have been cast off

fearing we have no destination.

 

 

Sands burning our feet

whipping our unnamed faces

we are long shadows crossing

this desert longing for

an end to our thirst.

 

 

We are losing our shadows

entering empty caves

now listening for echoes

now finding wells of memories

innumerable and unnamed.

Read more "JOAN MCNERNEY – THE SEARCH"