Michael H. Brownstein – A VALLEY CAN ALSO BECOME A DEPRESSED STATE OF MIND

A VALLEY CAN ALSO BECOME A DEPRESSED STATE OF MIND 

Everything you wear,
you wear to its grave,
your gray stockings\
a small hole near the big toe,
its color an undistinguished gray
your shirt with a stain
your pants frayed at the bottom,
a rip in one pocket,
change falling freely
creating melodies you are always
too busy to hear.

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Robert Allen Beckvall – Complete Freedom

Complete Freedom

No past lurking like a phantom

The future?  Not tricking me today into possibles and impossibles

All untrue, untrue

The caffeine I am weaned

Booze, a distant memory of last weekend’s 3 pints

Gordon Biersch with a Chicago teacher

Aches and pains from my beloved sport?

Not a knee, ankle, wrist, back, Achilles, shoulder, or calf

No Advil in sight

Worry about the wife and kid-no way!

They more likely to worry about me…the Chinese Queen and Princess

Arizona clan?  They got their pine breezes, lakes, and Trader Joe’s

Worried about living on an island?

Teaching and coaching?

Writing in the mornings?

You see, I would have to make up some ills and blackness

Like an actor

Why?  When real life is so sweet, and the freedom you can taste

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99 PROBLEMS – by 47 teenagers and 1 teacher in Southern New Mexico

99 Problems

  1. homophobic parents
  2. I had to give my dog, Monster, away, we had him for 5 years, I had to give him away because he’s a pit bull and our new apartment is racist against pits.
  3. bullying–girls tearing girls down, why can’t girls build girls up?
  4. low grades, you got to make them high grades, that’s a problem
  5. always tired
  6. anxiety
  7. anxiety
  8. people underestimating just how overwhelmed I am
  9. I don’t know
  10. you scared me
  11. trouble with communication
  12. family and school
  13. soap collapses like egg whites when you beat at it for too long
  14. Bev Courtney
  15. Bev Courtney doesn’t think she’s a problem and that’s a problem
  16. no left over pasta
  17. leaky shower
  18. squishy floor
  19. I’m too moody, maybe it’s because of the damn squishy floor
  20. not having a raincoat when it’s raining
  21. not having an umbrella when it’s raining
  22. only having Old Navy stupid sandals when it’s raining
  23. when your taking your long, beautiful time in the shower and the water suddenly gets cold
  24. a teacher trying to put problems in student’s mouths
  25. moving to a new school
  26. my coach says we can’t throw cheerleaders in the air
  27. Deanna says that’s not really a problem
  28. Deanna says everybody’s gonna know the cheerleading problem is hers because Cesar A’s the only other athlete in here, and football players don’t throw people in the air a ton
  29. If you clench wads of toilet paper in your fists while you’re hiking, you’ll leave little tissue trails like so many scattered breadcrumbs across the forest floor
  30. my sister’s wet the bed
  31. this 2 dollar food is too delicious and it’s making me fat
  32. taking notes everyday is bad for my carpal tunnel
  33. notes, what notes? we were supposed to take notes?
  34. when you miss one day of school and you go from an A to a F and your teachers don’t give you time to make it up
  35. everyone on Varsity wants to be a star player all by themselves
  36. everybody’s looking at MaxPreps instead of the scoreboard
  37. Oñate has 3 really good teams, Freshman, JV, Varsity but we just stink in games
  38. too many books, too little time said one girl out of 4065 girls
  39. the fact that women are afraid to walk alone
  40. men who make us feel that way
  41. the senators and congressmen who think all the rape victims are lying
  42. the senators and congressmen who think how dare this woman drag a man’s name through the mud
  43. the hundreds of thousands of rape kits sitting in a police station closet that never get processed
  44. the children who go to bed hungry because our country can’t get its shit together to care about all the people here
  45. just violence
  46. the ginger teacher in training says, what isn’t a problem?
  47. hi, welcome to Chili’s
  48. people don’t work together
  49. Waluigi not in Smash
  50. love
  51. people who have problems when other people objectify themselves
  52. My Chemical Romance broke up
  53. Justin Bieber
  54. nothin’s true
  55. I asked Nate what a problem was and he looked at me like a tired boulder and Joseph C, his neighbor, said people
  56. overplayed pop songs
  57. the school smells like fish
  58. the school smells like Joe’s Crab Shack on the 5th of July, after hours, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  59. North Korea
  60. guinea pigs, I had 3 guinea pigs, one died and the other 2 ate him and then the other 2 died from eating his poisonous guinea pig meat, true story
  61. relationships
  62. lack of responsibility
  63. hypocrisy
  64. feelings
  65. grandma forcing me to eat more
  66. puberty
  67. puberty some more
  68. still puberty
  69. mumble rappers
  70. going to school all damn early
  71. hitting your small toe against something
  72. hand stuck in a pickle jar
  73. there’s no more marching band
  74. not having the liberty to go out with friends
  75. waiting until December to celebrate Christmas
  76. waiting until October to celebrate Christmas
  77. dad jokes you can find when you search “dad jokes” on Google
  78. educated people are hot because they have more degrees
  79. did you hear about the kidnapping, don’t worry he woke up
  80. weed laws
  81. white women pulling their kids closer when someone of color walks by
  82. poverty
  83. people in poverty when they say they chose to live this way
  84. small toilets
  85. losing course credit after 5 unexcused absences
  86. bubble gum that tastes like Pepto
  87. I asked Juan for a problem and he just smiled at me with these sweet brown eyes and shook his head, it’s like he doesn’t have any problems on the tip of his tongue, it’s almost like he’s the buddha on top of A Mountain, it’s like he doesn’t have a single issue reverberating from his vocal chords, and I guess that’s a problem, I’m the teacher and I told the students to tell me a problem and dammit, Juan should have a problem and he should have it quick, I’ll flunk him
  88. teachers who flunk Juan because he doesn’t have a problem
  89. teachers who use grades against kids like a piano wire cold around their necks, just barely pressing into their skin
  90. my daughter was crying hysterically over something stupid and I told her, I’ll give you something to cry about, and she said, I already have something to cry about
  91. maybe that’s a problem
  92. the church choir that couldn’t hit the highest notes, the most heavenly notes  
  93. Maria G says, you’re in my seat
  94. I say, why are you late
  95. she says, flu shot
  96. everybody knows if you got the flu shot, the flu’s not a problem
  97. the white lady that says, can I talk to your manager?
  98. stepping in water while you have socks on
  99. talking about problems on Lemon Haze

99 PROBLEMS – by 47 teenagers and 1 teacher in Southern New Mexico

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Michael Lee Johnson – Leonard Cohen My Friend

Leonard Cohen My Friend 

 

Death is a bitch and a whore

comes with hat on or off,

Jewish, Christian or lover years ago called Nancy.

Death is a passport, a left behind baggage note.

My leverage sinks, I see you pass human.

These my fears, your fright, being broke, old-royalties stole Suzanne.

Now branches, extended limbs, point outward nowhere-

doors Montreal collapse tomb, dance with me,

end perfume love, a few dead flowers.

 

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GARY BECK – ROTTING SYSTEM

Rotting System

Politicians fulminate
in the run for office
condemning opponents
for dishonesty,
lack of a plan
to help the country,
spending billions
to get elected,
forget campaign promises
until reelection time,
serve those who funded them,
ignore needs of the people,
unless it suits their masters,
always present themselves
as loyal Americans
serving the nation,
although we do not know
who owns their loyalty.

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POETRY: MARLENA CHERTOCK – CEMETARIO GENERAL

Cemetario General

Cemetario General is one of the largest cemeteries in Santiago, Chile. Patio 29 is a plot used to bury the disappeared, the homeless, the unidentified, and victims of the Augusto Pinochet military dictatorship.

 

What’s left of them is arranged in boxes,
fifty or so line a wall.
He turns off the leaf blower,
passes a woman kneeling, her head lowered.

Even in death there are mansions.
Glass criptas encasing tías.
He coaxes leaves away
from the marble structures.

In a narrower section
ice cream and chip vendors push their carts.
Crowded together are plots of dirt, maybe some hierba,
a Nescafé bottle filled with wilted hydrangea.

He asks families to give more.
Sometimes there’s no response. So he digs up the land
and transfers what endured to a mass plot, Patio 29.
He’s so close to the body then, touching its bones.

At home he holds his esposa’s hips
as she cooks dinner, the smell of her sweat and the humitas
mixing in the kitchen air,
holds her as she undresses and they lie down together.

Find her at marlenachertock.com or @mchertock.

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poetry: Joseph Somoza – Hasta La Vista

Hasta La Vista

Here I find myself again,
in the company of
trees and sunshine,
a quiet workday morning.
It’s like emerging from a tunnel
where my mind was cloyed
with mundane matters such as
providing food, doing dishes,
and having to
respond to others—

who are my family,
who have gone back now
to being themselves
in the far distance where I can
make out the details better,
hear their words more clearly
in the sparse air between
here and there, as if minds can’t
co-exist in close proximity
and must always be
sent on their way.

Order Joseph Somoza’s new volume of poems As Far as I know (Cinco Puntos Press, 2015).

 

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