RICKY WINTERS – 3 POEMS

“ghost”
    
my disguise is my only friend but at times it stabs me in the back too




“caraphernelia”


this portrait of beauty still remains upon my eyes 
the soft colors that dance around my sorrow and mock the ache in my chest
the blinding lights of the heart you have broken and carved out have dimmed their glow to an absolute fog
they too have fallen into the pits of regret and anguish 
just as I 




“damien”


‪his eyes were clouds and the rain never stopped

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MARK ANTHONY PEARCE – 2 POEMS

SEATON 
 
As we walk across 
Seaton Beach 
My Grandfather 
Asks me of my prospects 
‘I’m 75’ 
He said 
‘Soon I’ll be fucking dead’ 
He seems to think life will work out for me 
But for a brief moment 
We are lost 
Eventually we find my mother 
And grumpy Grandma 
Before eating fish and chips 
My eyes looking up towards the sun 
 
Bristol, August 2006 


GULAG 

Where he worked 
He lived 
And did not like 
To be reminded 
That he did 
He was always reliable 
But found others far from it 
He cursed them 
Under his breath 
As the days rolled by 
With cigarettes and coffee 
To try and ease the strain 
Sometimes it rained 
Sometimes it was windy 
And jobs would not be done 
He sat in his chair 
Made phone calls 
Annoyed 
Often cynical 
He would nonetheless 
Face his humiliation 
With a rare bravery 
One day 
One of his sons 
Wrote on a piece of paper 
‘GULAG’ 
And stuck it on the wall 
Of his office 
He snarled 
At his sons sense of humour 
Because by Christ 
It felt like one 

Colchester, April 2007 






Mark Anthony Pearce lives and works as a Receptionist in Bristol, England. His poetry has been published in University of Essex Poetry Journal, BS Poetry Magazine and online, Inefável, Coronaverses, Winamop, Horror Sleaze Trash, Duane’s PoeTree & Piker Press. Mark’s writing has also featured in ‘Anne Bean: Self Etc’ (Live Art Development Agency and Intellect Books, Autumn 2018) 






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Joey Nicoletti – To Razor Shines

To Razor Shines

Dear Mr. Shines: Razor,
do I have to live
a life others want
for me, just because
they’ve chosen it
for themselves?

When I look at your baseball card,
I see the back yard
of the house I grew up in,
where hubcaps bloomed
beside black-eyed-Susans.
I see myself

sitting at a round, burgundy
spray-painted wooden table,
slurping a glass of iced tea
as I read and memorize
the names of ballplayers
and the various cities and towns
they hail from. For instance,

Razor is your middle name.
Durham, North Carolina,
intrigued me: it was
somewhere and something different
from what I knew;
hundreds of miles away

from the constant yelling,
screaming, kicking, and punching;
from the rubber boots, pumps,
and knives the adults
in my family hurled
at each other
as well as me. Your name;
 
your career in The Show;
your time as a Montreal Expo
became a hope
that I could make
a different reality
for myself;

that I could find
my own way
to be present
in the moment
without knowing
precisely how
 
things would work out.
And I am grateful
to have this card,
this marvelous window,
where I can still see and hear
some chickadees, perched
on a clothesline; their gold chatter
cracking a concrete patio.

~

Joey Nicoletti is the author of four books and four chapbooks, most recently Boombox Serenade (BlazeVOX, 2019) and Counterfeit Moon (NightBallet Press, 2016). Of course we are partial to his collection THUNDERSNOW because we published it.

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Quincy Staley – November 3

good morning.
I hope it is, at least.
as it feels like the world is looking at the sky,
one foot hovering over the threshold of their bomb shelter.
and suddenly I’m caught between feeling
extremist for calling it a bomb, and
guilty because I know others are actually being bombed, and
suffocated by the idea that –
if I just repost one more graphic
if I can just memorize the right data
if I have “the hard conversations”
– maybe I can fix it.
good morning.
maybe it can be, if we let it.
the sun is so bright this morning
(that’s not a metaphor, it literally made me squint)
and yes, it’s a sun that is piercing our ozone
and giving weight to the smog we create
but it’s shining.
and drawing the shades tight,
tugging on the top of our twitter feed like a toddler at a hem
trying to get what they want,
will not change that.
we have tried to change so much.
and we have.
as companies proclaim “BLM” across the street from the house of a man
who fights back with “all lives matter”
we can see change.
as grandparents and uncles and siblings and friends soften to new ideas of justice
and switch the sign in their yard
we can see change.
as metal straws clang in reusable bottles
and wedding cake is smushed by a man into his husband’s mouth
and The Daily is a suggested podcast
even for people who “don’t get political”
we can see change.
and finally, as the number of people voting this year soars past 2016’s record, yes
we can see change.
so let’s rest.
just for a day.
battering our own mental health as some sort of penance
won’t change the outcome.
and the outcome won’t necessarily
change the fight.
so let’s allow ourselves a moment
to just be.
be kind to ourselves, to our neighbors
to those who feel unsafe, to those who may have gotten too comfortable.
give yourself and others grace,
if just for today.
we’ve posted and protested
we’ve pleaded and prayed
we’ve scrolled (and scrolled and scrolled)
we’ve lost friends and learned facts,
each point of data chosen meticulously
to help others understand.
politics have become deeply personal
and our emotions are somehow partisan
so today, on this most political day
let’s protect those emotions.
keep them safe, snuggled up away from what’s been weighing on them for
weeks, months, years.
for one day
one good morning.

~

Find Quincy here

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Robert Beveridge – 2 POEMS

ALKALINE


amethyst on your chin
secret recipe for hot brown
last time you grocery shopped
brown leaves in the hall
state halfway between sleep
bottom of the bedsheets
last time Toto had a hit
movies released last Friday
wakefulness against your toe
maze of ice crystals
unbearable weight of your skin
frozen stacks of bills in the basement
life unexamined
scent of guava in Tiffin
last thing you need


* * *


LIVE AT NAPA STATE MENTAL HOSPITAL


I was thinking more about muscles
than I was about rockabilly
but the end result was the same,
two uncontrollable legs
and a pair of chopsticks
across the room, chili sauce
and shrimp splattered
on the wall. There has
to be some fiberglass around
here somewhere, my brain
conjures up out of nowhere
as my seat rockets backwards
and I head face first for the floor


* * *

Robert Beveridge (he/him) makes noise (xterminal.bandcamp.com) and writes poetry in Akron, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in Blood and Thunder, Feral, and Grand Little Things, among others.
Social Media:IG: @ebolaisthesaviorDiaspora: shorturl.at/pqzRV

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Joel Schueler – Glass for the Looking

Glass for the Looking 
 
And daybreak lifts from the Pacific 
Like tracing paper from a hairdryer 
Low setting. 
There is not any living object 
Of this world that turns to you, 
Your honeycomb tiles 
In your desert/dessert—depends what day it is—citadel. 
Marram grass like wind-bent strands 
Of floss coloured olive gesticulate to a 
High tide 
Reacquainted with a rusting fringe, 
Flames for eyelashes 
Medium burn. 
A dribbling of gulls across the skyline — 
Gunned down from sight at sundown. 
 
Kindling has evaded all eyes of this day 
Eyelashes have entered 
Begrimed brown, 
Toes made unlovely 
Like those on ends of foot-bound quondam souls. 
Panache of catwalk like hollow death. 
I saw it all 
Or did I? 
A seascape for threadbare eyes looking out 
The window 
Of neither 
A glass of truth nor self-reflection. 
 
Then what? 
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RAUL DORN – I WROTE THIS LAST NIGHT

I wrote this last night. 

“How ya doing?” asked a dear friend of mine yesterday. I told her that I felt like there was a room within me (as I patted my chest) where there’s a man crying, all day long. If it were the challenges and horror of the Pandemic alone, I’d tell myself that this is a rare potent time to create, to go within, to tap into the introspective blue. But if one feels empathy, it’s overwhelming. Another man in another room simply goes about making tea and speaking softly about hope while whispering the many names we have given God. Crying man sits unceremoniously at the end of the bed like the subject in a Edward Hopper painting, looking towards a wall that used to have a window. He’s predictable now and heavy company, so I don’t visit him often. I can see him from here. I get the internal nudge to create, to wake up from the inside out, to cultivate inner peace, to work to uncover truth, to protest in the streets, but I keep myself busy fixing everything around the house, my lists are long.  I drink too much, smoke too much. Some nights it feels like everything is for nothing; that what was worth something wears only the clothes of memory. I’d like my life stirred, not shaken I murmur to myself as I wake in a dream. How does one care for one’s self when so deeply focused on caring for another? I place my ear up to the door of the crying mans room as I shove a love note beneath the door and wait.

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Kushal Poddar – Daughter Draws

Daughter Draws


"Can I watch Pokemon on phone?"
"No, draw a chair, colour something
on the papers lying on the table."


The long kitchen ends into a child drawn
rill trilling on the crags until its evanescence
means a lost picnic, a fishing rod streaming far.
"Cannot you draw anything else?"


She draws a Pokemon with father's face
down in the dirt flashed from the stroke
and sketches trees screaming and a bird
tired to be any bird specific reduced to a V.

~
A poet and a father, Kushal Poddar, edited a magazine – ‘Words Surfacing’, authored seven volumes of poetry including ‘The Circus Came To My Island’, ‘A Place For Your Ghost Animals’, ‘Eternity Restoration Project- Selected and New Poems’ and ‘Herding My Thoughts To The Slaughterhouse-A Prequel’. Find and follow him at https://www.amazon.com/Kushal-Poddar/e/B07V8KCZ9P

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Gaby Bedetti – 2 POEMS

Motion

You speed through

the Minotaur’s labyrinth

hoping to avoid the monster.

The motor responds.

You have another

someplace to go.

You look into the wind,

a lop-eared hound

head out the window.

Complicit,

the GPS tracks your

departures and arrivals.

In your sonic life,

you are the hip hero pointing

toward the next adventure,

the lover with the ball
of thread to navigate

​the labyrinth.

~

Her Final Email

 

Days you stayed in bed.

Migraines. Texas heat

and medications

made you sweat. And then

another week had slipped away,

unlike your chores and wishes.

 

At your desk, a compost heap

of essays. You even began grading

and then Shadow would sigh

to say it was past feeding time

and you abandoned them. You called

him the best dog in the present world.

 

One son announced he was moving back

so you removed the sewing machine

from his room. You then grew angry

with your husband for leaving.

The other son mentioned downsizing

and you heard nursing home.

 

Your grandchildren were delightful.

In your final email, you acknowledged

you were lucky, but only so far.

And soon after, the fatal dose.

We could have reunited,

here in Kentucky or there in Texas.

 

We could have remembered,

and renewed, our luck.

 

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LANGSTON HUGHES – FREEDOM TRAIN

Freedom Train

 

I read in the papers about the Freedom Train

I heard on the radio about the Freedom Train

I seen folks talking about the Freedom Train

Lord, I’ve been a-waitin for the Freedom Train!

Washington, Richmond, Durham, Chatanooga, Atlanta

Way cross Georgia.

Lord, Lord, Lord

way down in Dixie the only trains I see’s

Got a Jim-Crow coaches set aside for me.

I hope their ain’t no Jim Crow on the Freedom Train,

No back door entrance to the Freedom Train,

No sign FOR COLORED on the Freedom Train,

No WHITE FOLKS ONLY on the Freedom Train.

I’m gonna check up.

I’m gonna to check up on this

Freedom Train.

Who is the engineer on the Freedom Train?

Can a coal-black man drive the Freedom Train?

Or am I still a porter on the Freedom Train?

Is there ballot boxes on the Freedom Train?

Do colored folks vote on the Freedom Train?

When it stops in Mississippi, will it be made plain

Everybody’s got a right to board the Freedom Train?

I’m gonna check up.

I’m gonna to check up on this

Freedom Train.

The Birmingham station’s marked COLORED and WHITE.

The white folks go left

The colored go right.

They even got a segregated lane.

Is that the way to get aboard the Freedom Train?

I’m gonna check up.

I’m gonna to check up on this

Freedom Train.

If my children ask me, Daddy, please explain

Why a Jim Crow stations for the Freedom Train?

What shall I tell my children?

You tell me, cause freedom ain’t freedom when a man ain’t free.

My brother named Jimmy died at Anzio

He died for real, and it wasn’t no show.

Is this here freedom on the Freedom Train really freedom or a show again?

Now let the Freedom Train come zooming down the track

Gleaming in the sunlight for white and black

Not stoppin’ at no stations marked COLORED nor WHITE,

Just stoppin’ in the fields in the broad daylight,

Stoppin’ in the country in the wide-open air

Where there never was a Jim Crow sign nowhere,

And No Lilly-White Committees, politicians of note,

Nor poll tax layer through which colored can’t vote

And there won’t be no kinda color lines

The Freedom Train will be yours

And mine.

Then maybe from their graves in Anzio

Black men and white will say, We want it so!

Black men and white will say, Ain’t it fine?

At home they got a Freedom train,

A Freedom train,

That’s yours and mine!

 

 

(1947)

LANGSTON HUGHES

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