'Joining the Global Voice' -St. Louis, Missouri

ORGANIZER: Kristin Sharp, Amanda Wells,  Susan Spit-Fire Lively and Michael Castro
CONTACT:silsharp@yahoo.com
DESCRIPTION: We have asked all of the coordinators of the local STL poetry shows to collaborate on a show called ‘Joining the Global Voice’ at the Regional Arts Commission in University City.

100,000 Poets for Change – Joining the Global Voice

Time
Saturday, September 24 · 11:00am – 4:00pm

Location
Regional Arts Commission
6128 Delmar Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63112

Created By
Susan SpitFire Lively

More Info

“Joining the Global Voice” is an offshoot of the world-wide event 100,000 Poets for Change (created by Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion). 100,000 Poets for Change, the largest poetry event in history, will be televised and also recorded by Stanford University for placement in their LOCKSS System. Held at The Regional Arts Commission, the daytime show (the first of two St. Louis events) will feature a marathon number of performers, with the goal being 100 poets in 300 minutes, focusing on voices both heard and unheard. Organized by Kristin Sharp with assistance from local Poets and Producers such as MK Stallings, Nicky Rainey, Lisa Odak-Ebert, Byron Lee, Michael Castro, and myself, this event will be hosted by Amanda Wells. “Joining the Global Voice” is free and open to the public, and refreshments and snacks will also be provided. Some of the features include my dear friends Mali Newman (Poet and award-winning Playwright) and Black Falcon (Spoken Word Artist and Multi-Slam Champion). To learn more, please visit the website http://www.100+pc.org/


St Louis Flyer Pdf

ADDITIONAL ST. LOUIS ARCHIVES: http://www.100tpcmedia.org/index.html

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'Joining the Global Voice' -St. Louis, Missouri — 25 Comments

  1. Regional Arts Commission 6128 Delmar Boulevard Saint Louis, MO 63112
    100 Thousand Poets for Change: Joining the Global Voice
    Regional Arts Commission in the University City Loop
    September 24th
    11:00am to 4:00pm
    100 Thousand Poets for Change is GLOBAL gathering of poets to speak up and out for CHANGE and PEACE. In St. Louis there will be two shows on September 24th at the Regional Arts Commission during the day and in the evening at The Way Out Club (more information about the evening event TBA). For the ‘Joining the Global Voice’ daytime event our goal is to get 100 poets to read in 300 minutes. This marathon of poetry will feature poets from the local poetry community and those who are not often heard. They will be sharing what they think, care about and what changes are needed on an individual, community, national and global level. Some topics examples are social, political, environmental, war, healthcare, racial and global issues and peace (just to name a few). Feel free to look at the website http://www.bigbridge.org/100thousandpoetsforchange/ This show will be documented by audio, video, photography, and zine and Stanford University has decided to archive the event pages at http://www.100TPC.org as part of their LOCKSS program. Poets can post on the 100 Thousand Poets for Change website “Event Location Blog” and the “Community Poetry Wall” which is shared globally and is a great way to get the energy flowing for the big event. . Posting and sharing is open for all–even for those who cannot attend the show. So join the effort for CHANGE AND PEACE. Hope you can stop by on September 24th for a listen!

  2. The Ego

    The Ego
    Needs to be broken into tiny little pieces
    and fed to billions of people
    so that all can be equal and share a common thought
    =Compassion

    The Ego
    Needs to be pierced in the eye
    with acupuncture needles and twisted
    until the meridian flows of milky nectar
    =Love

    The Ego
    Needs to be melted and smeared across continental lines
    and flushed through sewers pouring into the center of the earth
    where molten lava can scorch and harden around it like an island
    =Hope

    The Ego
    Needs to be transformed by understanding and acceptance
    shared through finger tips, crossing lips and forgiving arms
    so that all can live together
    =Peace

  3. Here is the list of those reading/performing so far…

    *We are asking participant to pick a 1 hr time slot to read and there will be a sign-up sheet at the show. We will try to accommodate everyone’s time preference but ask all to be flexible.

    Poets:
    Michael Castro
    Elva Maxine Beach
    Matthew Freeman
    Mali Newman
    Jon Dressel
    Ann Haubrich
    MK Stallings
    Phil Gounis
    Kamau ‘Black Falcon’ Baruti
    Nicky Rainey
    Howard Schwartz
    Taylored Poet
    Amanda Wells
    K. Curis Lyle
    Pamela Garvey
    Stephine Russell
    Maria Massey
    Susan ‘Spit-Fire’ Lively
    AP Pearson
    Billy Foster
    Susan Throwbridge Adams
    Ben Moeller-Gaa
    Lisa Odak Ebert
    Katerina Canyon
    Erin Wiles
    Shane Signorino
    Dena Molen
    Deborah Mashibini
    Erin Quick
    Wanita Zumbrunnen
    Alexander Balogh
    Maria Balogh
    Michael O’Brian
    Kristin Sharp
    Melissa Singleton
    Hari Sky Campbell
    Todd Woodruff
    Shirley LeFlore
    Marcia Cann
    Percy Wells
    Brett Underwood
    Ruth-Miriam Garnett
    Paul Thiel
    Pat Piety
    John Samuel Tieman
    Kevin Cameron
    Daniel Eberle-Mayse
    Anna Ross
    Byron Lee
    Chris King
    Louis Confliction
    d katz
    JoyCe Blue
    Jennifer Fandel
    Suzanne Roussin
    Mary Ann Kelly
    Michael Sullivan

    **More TBA

    • THE BALANCE OF EQUILIBRIUM
      (Saint Louis, 2003)

      Phantoms and comrades play backgammon
      and one more teenager holds a gun. I yawn
      at the clock ticking in the pale kitchen I am in
      and the boy kills himself after

      he kills himself.

      Capitalists and priests walk
      hand in hand licking fingers that flip
      pages of sacred books made of ashes
      while the desert dies and dies another
      child sent off to blow out the candles.

      Rain falls on these dark Saint Louis streets
      and even the lights are wet with grieving.
      I stay up and wonder if I could recycle
      my choices, what would become of these bodies
      that keep breaking like old trees in a storm?

      I leave you in our crowded bed
      sleeping and slip out of the room.
      I can’t stay away from awake.

      And I remember the other day when I found
      one thousand pounds of Lebanese Liras
      stuffed in my pocket since I can’t remember when,
      and thought— even that’s not worth
      a single American dollar.

      HEAVY
      (Gaza, 2009- day 13)

      A child’s head
      rests on the rubble,
      body-less.

      Blood-dried hair
      sticks to her face,
      eyes closed,
      dreaming of peace
      that comes too late.

      FROM ACROSS THE ATLANTIC I BEG MY PARENTS TO LEAVE BEIRUT
      (Saint Louis, 2006)

      They’re afraid to lest
      their homes are taken.
      “It’ll be over soon
      not that bad we’ll be okay,”
      they lie over phone lines fat
      with supervision.

      They lament the tragedy of others
      ashamed of their own safety
      and for once religion expires
      in the face of this temporary harmony,
      where south is north,

      and west Beirut becomes a mirror for its east.
      And just as I begin to feel guilty for asking,
      another echo explodes in the background
      of our conversation,

      and all I catch on CNN are glimpses of enormous
      clouds of sky and earth suffocating,
      and calls for sympathy away from the wounded,

      ‘measured responses’ said the news,
      show me where and where and where
      and where and where—

      BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
      (After Rachel Ray’s “controversial” scarf episode)

      They come in blue and pink and yellow these days
      Green and red also;
      These scarves, perhaps, more to the point.

      What happens when meaning loses the cause?
      You wear it around your neck and pretend
      You are “with it.”

      Wait. First you buy it from a souvenir shop
      In the Cedars or the capital city
      Where the men killed their brothers for the sound of
      Blood. Where they raped and dragged
      These strangers by the hair.
      Oh, I’m sorry, was that too painful to hear?

      What I meant to say
      What I meant to say
      Was
      I’m still trying to understand
      How this is suddenly okay.

      I sit in a brown café at the corner
      Of Saint Louis and Beirut, a regular
      Coffee with room for cream on my right,
      Red fingernails typing,
      And behind these windows
      A black man runs to catch the bus.

      What was that again about the thirty-minute chef?
      Where the news and hands up
      To point in accusation
      At the checkered scarf she wore
      Promoting fear when all she wanted
      Was to sell me a donut.

      The threads of resistance don’t smell like perfume.

      SENSE OF BI-LONGING

      Generation of Kolthoum
      And Radiohead.
      Fairuz and Julie Andrews.
      Sage-leaf tea bags and vodka/Redbull
      Solar evenings and red armies
      Headphones and ipods and ice-cream colored
      Cases I belong to generation Bi-longing.

      Generation of long distant phone-calls and distances
      Traveled in cars and cigarettes blurred
      Into prayer.

      Generation of double tongues and double shots
      And a large Starbucks to go.
      Slippery apples and cage free eggs
      Vegetarian carnivores and carnivorous
      Pets.

      We sit together high fives and sixes and sevens
      Bracing ourselves from the towers of these stilettos
      Raw and pink and these albums are bent
      All crammed into finger-sized shufflers
      And we

      All crammed into finger-sized fingers
      Shoved down our thoughts to throw up
      What we read for dinner to keep our bellies
      Flat, our nails manicured to cover the yellow.

      She was like the Pyramids they said, and Fairuz
      To Beirut was a landmark.
      They had drunken-ness in their voice and tears
      And timelessness in their song and rapidly
      Shifting oceans and glitter and the maddening
      Eyes of lovers.

      We speak in monochromes and these new art collections
      Photographs store them
      In black and white and color and color
      The ones that fade and keep them

      Only these will remain after more trees
      Are demolished and buildings are planted
      And more bricks are watered
      And painted green and brown and blue birds
      Where the world is perfect and the sky

      Will eventually get used to it.

      SAINT LOUIS, SUMMER 2006

      Smoke crawls out of our mouths
      When we gather around dinner with friends

      and speak about religion only
      we’re not speaking about religion

      it’s politics we fight over and
      that large bearded man who’s going

      to hold our hand and walk us to the depths
      of falling or the heights of palm trees

      One by one O Jesus must save us then!

      There’s Merlot and tabbouli wrapped
      in lettuce leaves wrapped in the juices

      that make it our own. And us wrapped
      in our own thick waters and our own

      hornet nests yearn to spill wine all over
      the carpet, put down our plates of rice

      and fish— but instead we smile at each other like adults
      taught us when we were younger

      to smile at each other and give each other
      breaks and let go of the snakes that come

      creeping from inside our mouths like tongues
      leaking corpses across the coffee table

      because now we’re having dessert and the hour is late
      and the news channel is off but we’ve all come

      prepared with reading
      from our different sources reading only the pages

      that we find applauding like us—
      so clever like the governments we lack

      and what’s wrong with mother America and what’s wrong
      with Babylon and like the tower wanting to reach heaven

      we all stand against each other arms folding knees whispering
      small screams in each other’s ears

      pulling and tugging— pushing and dragging
      at our cigarettes— but no one smokes in this tired red room

      we throw our fears at each other quietly apologizing quietly
      drowning our bodies in our own dead seas.

  4. Poets reading at the RAC:
    Michael Castro
    Elva Maxine Beach
    Matthew Freeman
    Mali Newman
    Jon Dressel
    Ann Haubrich
    MK Stallings
    Phil Gounis
    Nicky Rainey
    Howard Schwartz
    Taylored Poet
    Amanda Wells
    K. Curis Lyle
    Pamela Garvey
    Stephine Russell
    Maria Massey
    Susan ‘Spit-Fire’ Lively
    AP Pearson
    Billy Foster
    Susan Throwbridge Adams
    Ben Moeller-Gaa
    Lisa Odak Ebert
    Katerina Canyon
    Erin Wiles
    Dena Molen
    Deborah Mashibini
    Erin Quick
    Wanita Zumbrunnen
    Alexander Balogh
    Maria Balogh
    Michael O’Brian
    Kristin Sharp
    Melissa Singleton
    Hari Sky Campbell
    Todd Woodruff
    Shirley LeFlore
    Marcia Cann
    Percy Wells
    Brett Underwood
    Ruth-Miriam Garnett
    Paul Thiel
    Pat Piety
    John Samuel Tieman
    Kevin Cameron
    Daniel Eberle-Mayse
    Anna Ross
    Byron Lee
    Chris King
    Louis Confliction
    d katz
    JoyCe Blue
    Jennifer Fandel
    Suzanne Roussin
    Mary Ann Kelly
    Michael Sullivan
    Jim McGowin
    Becky Ellis
    Kd Washington
    Ken Brown
    Lenny Smith
    Jim Mroczkowski
    Perry Barrow
    Janie Ibur
    Scottie Addison
    David Claire
    John Macenulty
    Uncle Bill Green
    Vincent “Ackurate” Manuel
    Treasure Williams

    **More TBA

  5. Multi-Breed: Past, Present or Future
    (Realizing there was no box for multicultural persons on American Census)
    What if one day you look in the mirror
    and you are nothing like the person
    you have portrayed yourself to be in society?
    That you are
    A multi-breed of a human being with
    No country
    No ethnicity
    You embody a culmination of heritage from many different
    Continents
    Bloodlines
    The lines of who you are now have blurred so
    Clear
    Transparent
    A culture that no one can
    Tag
    Label
    Because nothing like you has ever existed
    Oh, the people’s fear of mixing liquids is so great
    Although, many have fought to do so quietly in their
    Beds
    Homes
    Blending silken woven eggs in warm shells of womb
    Not Permitted
    Taboo
    Yet all of these creations passed down through
    Genes
    Generations
    The one that was believed to be damned for sins committed for not
    “staying with your own kind”
    Doctrines
    Beliefs
    If you look close enough in the mirror
    Look deeply into you own eye
    Around the pupil
    Into the various colors streaming from the
    seamless circular line that forms the globe
    You will see that you are
    All
    One
    Past sacrifices for love given in a single moment created
    You

  6. Man Wearing White Shirt & Dark Slacks in Tiananmen Square

    He is a man of courage, who does not run away,
    but remains at his post and fights against the enemy.

    ~Socrates

    A dull image on the television in ‘89
    & I jumped, startling my friend
    Who sd, Fuck man!—I turned
    the volume up.

    I perched, a quiet bird watching
    the parade of tanks heading east
    Beijing’s Chang’an Boulevard.
    Avenue of Eternal Peace
    Near Tiananmen Square,
    South end of the Forbidden City,
    Yesterday’s blood drying,
    on the concrete.

    Gritty pictures—
    Of red-starred PLA tanks
    Saluting cannons, rolling
    Toward the man wearing a white shirt & dark slacks,
    with grocery sacks, standing
    in the lonely street.
    God himself
    Shuddered & everything

    Fell apart. I began to cry.
    Me & my friend stayed
    Glued to the screen. This man,
    Unknown to anyone,
    Held sway over us, the tanks,
    the whole God damned planet.

    Eerie quiet so complete,
    We could hear electricity in the TV,
    Our dark eyes drawn, the scene
    Unfolded, focused—
    Hypnotized by the man wearing a white shirt
    & dark slacks carrying his grocery sacks.
    Rumbling tanks pivot right,
    & so he shuffled right
    Thundering tanks pivoted left,
    & so he shuffled left
    then
    the tanks
    just
    stopped.

    He climbed up the lead tank, stooped
    To its port—called inside, no one today
    Knows what words he sd.
    I like to imagine, something:
    Go away, you’re not welcome.

    Around the square, students &
    Carnivals of workers—hotel persons, shopkeepers, & street vendors, confusion—
    —Panic in the streets
    Shot-up bodies lay twisted in bicycle metal, blackened buses, blood-soaked
    Pavement—the occasional pop-pop-pop of gunfire
    Echoing, chanting:
    We are the Beijing Journalist,
    We demand press freedom—
    We demand the right—
    to tell the truth!
    We thought the old regime would fall,
    It wouldn’t.
    Something uncontrollable happened.
    The man on the tank disappeared in a flash, pulled from the street
    By men in blue?
    By the government?
    Jailed executed disappeared
    By the people?
    Shuffled to safety

    I don’t know, still don’t know,
    May never know—
    Wang Weilin
    The Tank Man
    Man wearing a white shirt
    & dark slacks, carrying grocery sacks
    Spoke for the masses, silenced
    An enduring image everyone heard.

    - T.R. Woodruff

  7. The Fog of War
    Susan Lively

    How can you see
    through this blood haze?
    Oh, if you could only,
    freeze the frame.
    Oh, it must make you crazy -
    the fog of war.

    How can you see
    through this blinding hate?
    Do you tell yourself
    that this is fate?
    Oh, it must make you crazy -
    the fog of war.

    How can you see
    through this crippling pain?
    Is this how you’ll do it,
    again and again,
    the fog of war.

    How can you see
    through these lies?
    When you cover your ears,
    and close your eyes -
    the fog of war.

    How can you rationalize?
    Torture, and murder, and death,
    evil, and greed, and threats.
    Who is this you?
    Why is this so new?
    Don’t act like you’ve never met
    the fog of war.

    How can human beings,
    choose to kill all their humanity?
    Why do human beings,
    want to kill all of humanity?
    Why didn’t I see it before?
    We’re just here to settle a score.
    Ah, it is the fog of war.

    Life, life it isn’t a game.
    Filled with passions
    you cannot tame,
    and enemies that
    you cannot name -
    the fog of the war.

    There is no one,
    no one to blame.
    Can’t you see?
    We’re all the same.
    Can’t you see?
    We’re all insane -
    the fog of war.

    Taking your last breath,
    choking and choking
    your heart to death.
    Ah, my friend,
    it is the end,
    it is the fog of war.

  8. The Pac Man
    by Michael O’Brian

    I am the Pac Man.
    I eat all I can.
    Consuming the whole earth is my master plan
    We dam all the rivers to catch all the fish.
    Damn those people whose only wish
    is to get one full meal every day
    or to make two dollars in daily pay.

    I am the Pac Man.
    I eat all I can.
    Consuming the whole earth is my master plan.
    I scoop mountain tops to burn the coal,
    and I want all the copper, the silver and gold.
    Where there once was a mountain
    now there’s just a big hole.

    I am the Pac Man.
    I eat all I can.
    Consuming the whole earth is my master plan.
    Chop down all the trees, pollute the seas,
    It’s all in the name of the GDP.
    We’ve got to grow the economy
    in this consumer society.

    I am the Pac Man.
    You can’t spoil my plan.
    Not Batman, Superman, Spiderman, any man
    or human race can slow my pace.

    I am the Pac Man.
    I eat all I can.
    Consuming the whole earth is my master plan.
    I don’t give a damn.
    I’m American.

  9. RECIPE FOR HALLELUJAH

    Take Mississippi after
    its native peoples have all been disappeared,
    lynch the intelligent men
    of color, form the women into a choir,
    add the Bible, translated,
    assassinated African idioms
    disguised in murky backbeats
    no white man in Mississippi could fathom
    (let’s leave Elvis Presley out
    of this …) and make it sweat its ass in the sun
    until it ripens, or explodes.

    -Chris King

    [Written in the 7/11 form innovated by Quincy Troupe.]

  10. by Deborah S. Katz (Debi)

    Certain phrases in this found poem were influenced by the
    Constitutions of Iraq, Iran, and the United States of America.

    We are the people

    We are ocean, coral, and setting sun horizon
    upon this land, upon this soil,
    we are ancient forests, sunrise, seeds,

    and harvest of the land between two rivers
    just risen from our stumble,
    pioneers of civilization, crafters of writing,

    looking with confidence to the future,
    promoting progress,
    we are inhabitants of horizons of oceans,

    we establish justice and cast aside politics
    of aggression.
    The constructive role of this belief,

    upon this sunrise upon this land, ordains
    and establishes this Constitution,
    in order to form a more perfect union, we,

    inhabitants of habitats between horizons,
    spread a culture of diversity,
    we take lessons from yesterday, we defuse

    terrorism. We are the inhabitants of habitats
    between horizons.
    We are the writers and poets of the land

    between two rivers. We of habitats between
    oceans between horizons,
    we inhabitants are gaining peace and strength

    striving to reject violence in all forms. We are
    the responsibility.
    We are the planet. We, the terra firma, air

    and water. This land this soil this harvest.
    Between horizons, between oceans,
    we are the habitats, we are the inhabitants.

    Advanced Search

    You can apply garlic paste
    on the affected parts directly
    to accordion pleated overload
    causes tiny cracks minimally
    in 3,000 degree heat when
    each button plays two different
    old English pantomime
    modifications usually founded
    upon the first European known
    to step foot in Newfoundland
    fiercely in search of livestock
    and a 27 percent increase
    in second-quarter income
    to pillage and plunder parasitic
    behaviors in the outcome.

    Funding and experimentations
    of mind control
    have been part of
    the Departments of Defense,
    Labor, Veterans Affairs,
    and the CIA swears to this day
    that nothing beats the smooth
    smoking experience
    of a genuine corn cob pipe. The key
    is perception. The fantasy of one
    exciting rail ride transformed
    some 1,200 applications filed
    each year in the course of
    a term of the Supreme Court
    of the United States.

    By Deborah S. Katz (Debi)

  11. Sentinels of the Sky
    By Wanita Zumbrunnen

    In a sky, night dark with a half moon,
    with street noises forgotten
    fading in the vast
    vertical thrust as the sentry stands high,
    its floors stacked
    its edges balcony rounded
    only an random lighted open window
    for most remain closed,
    still, looking up
    towards the sky

    This silent alien life force towers above
    the street, the open bar, ignoring
    people as if they were mere insects
    milling about, attracted by lights
    given grace to move around
    flit along surfaces
    to the music in the night

    Beneath giant granite behemoths stand
    in homage to who knows
    what power waiting
    as the collection of them
    scatters through the city sky
    in night-trained armed units,
    at the whim of a warlord
    way beyond the wistful keening
    of those
    who would ask why

    When a sufficient number are attached
    to the earth’s surface, will they lift up
    it’s wayward children
    or explode
    the earth into pieces
    endlessly wafting
    in the weightless waters of the sky.

  12. “wholly holy holey”
    by Jim McGowin

    there are those adept at seeking out the alien and different,
    blind to similitude,

    those who so easily run into the buzzsaw maw of
    rent anger and smoke filled sky, fueled only by vague mythos
    and monster truck intent,

    ignoring the downtime possibility of dream, of exhilarant pow-wow
    and pillow, trading instead for pill-pops and cheap thrills
    hidden in the dark of windows and drawn shades,

    would rather tear down the mountain
    just to obliterate all the other paths to the top,
    find it better to torch the grain that feeds one mouth to keep from another,
    divvy out the chaff to the unbelievers.

    always the talk of love and peace, and piety and pity,
    but demonstrated only thru superior blunt force trauma,
    diameter of bullet crater, length of flesh parabellum.

    “we are the chosen alphas of this dirt pile!” cries the reptilian brained
    nylon sack from the pulpit, red faced, the pack roaring in delight,
    pupils dilated and fixed upon salvation thru salivation,
    terrorists of the worst sort, hijackers of choice,

    grown so big and strong, sucking the paranoia marrow of
    militant ancestors, gulping crude, belching racist jokes,
    one hand on sacred tome of choice, the other on silicone jiggle.

    blossomed into fearful beasts ready to claw and break jaw
    at the most minor offense or incidental glance.
    ‘what are you looking at boy?’

    banded together, a psychotic beehive, stinging the air,
    singing gleefully ‘only the like minded thru these golden doors,
    others need not apply, now bring us some whores!’

    violent pathologies settled for,
    celebrated with copulatory undulations of squeaky clean sheet and genitalia,
    fabric softener fresh w/the scent of false flowers
    to offset guilt-ridden dirty mind projectors.

    hypocrisy? lies? surprise!
    what should be expected from devout followers
    of imaginary paradox and pseudo sound waves,
    bullet for your thoughts? as you hang there on your cross?
    make sure everyone can see the nails are real!

    all worship the day glo man!
    spray paint images of prophets onto warheads with cute humanitarian slogans such as
    ‘hey hey the BANGS all here!’
    coordinate automobile bumper sticker gangs promoting
    agenda of white wash triumph and paper tigerisms.

    every raindrop that falls from their sky is ambivalence,
    all their pretty rainbows are colored with
    blood, bile, jaundice, gangrene, cyanosis and fresh bruises.

    mouth bullhorns, blasting out polished jackboot conformity,
    in the guise of being liberated
    rally up the group mind, you, the sheep!
    the more the merrier, the more the scarier!

    to all of this, i can only say one thing:
    let them all drown when their blessed flood waters come
    o lordy lord,
    let them all drown in their own holy gravy

    and leave the rest of us alone

  13. Well Rested
    by Elva Maxine Beach

    How do they sleep at night?
    Soft skin wrapped like jewels in silk and satin pajamas, heads resting on feathers
    in their oversized beds, which cost more than months of daycare
    for a struggling parent, who shares her room with her children,
    who is grateful for last night’s leftovers.

    How do they find peace, alone, before sleep,
    knowing their bonuses,
    their short-sighted decisions,
    their cheap labor in foreign lands,
    their abstractions handed to us like facts,
    crash markets, kill families, foreclose homes,
    push people to the brink of bankruptcy, suicide, desperation.

    What do they dream about?

    Do they sleep soundly, waiting for the next day’s golf game?
    Have they shielded themselves well enough to not know,
    to not care, the people’s backs whom have built their mansions
    are breaking? Don’t they know nice clothes, long vacations,
    big houses, private schools are
    laid on the foundation of working class people
    who worry at night about their mortgages, rent, safety, food, utilities…
    don’t they know
    their foundation is cracking?

    Do they say prayers of thanks for bailouts and blind eyes and ignorance and apathy?

    How do they awake? Refreshed, and full of vigor,
    ready for the next behind-closed-doors meeting
    with a senator or congressman, who’s campaign trail
    needs paving with their well-rested greed.

    Shock Treatment
    by Elva Maxine Beach

    When I was thirteen
    skinny legs, pigeon toes,
    tow headed and innocent
    looking, like the girl next door,
    I listened to the Ramones’
    “Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment”
    and vowed to never ever
    become victim to the 9-to-5 world
    my parents revered.
    I swore I’d rather be crazy
    than be sane enough to sell
    my soul to the soul-less.
    Black leather clad Joey, Johnyy, DeeDee sang my anthem.
    I stopped wearing bras, cause
    no institution was gonna dictate
    to my nipples.
    I coined the term “store-bought punks”
    to refer to those middle-class kids
    who bought their torn jeans at shopping malls.
    I was the real deal, the holes in my clothes were authentic.

    That was many moons ago.
    Varicose veins now wind up my thighs,
    my big belly bursts beneath my oversized shirts.
    Daily I pluck whiskers, gray eyebrows, discover new wrinkles.
    The Ramone men are falling down dead.
    I’ve been on and off the grid at least 10 times.
    I’ve pretended to buy the corporate plan;
    I’ve traded in my politics for that easy
    escape hatch from the working class dead
    end I was born in to.
    I’ve also played the bohemian, hippie chick
    whose laid back, go with the flow attitude
    is nothing but the beard I wear to hide my
    Type A tendencies.
    I listen to NPR and Billie Holiday
    and pray I’ll land another job
    that pays ALL my bills
    and offers health benefits.

    (shhh…you can keep your soul if you’re quiet about having one;
    you may lose your soul if you tire of trying.)

  14. Music In The Air
    By Phil Gounis

    Keeps slept under the stairs
    he did not speak
    a word
    in his mind
    Keeps would repeat
    the same Prayer
    night after night

    it was night most of the time
    & freezing when it rained
    which was all the time
    still
    Keeps was faithful
    to the duty
    of keeping hope
    & bright expectation
    intact

    the day after Thanksgiving
    as dawn cracked
    Keeps awoke on his knees
    & heard a commotion
    up above his head
    he reached upward
    & felt the belt
    of an escalator,
    then he knew
    that his petitionary days
    were over

    ( first published in Soulard Culture Squad Review #1 ,1986)

    workers in the world
    By Phil Gounis

    the bus was parked out by the tree
    we were inside where we could see
    the people walk, the people pass
    the money men first, the torn children last

    we are all workers in this world
    we all labor, we all toil
    your boss is my boss
    your lay-off is my job lost

    the only pay, the only dough
    is to understand & know that I know
    that there’s no contract or no plans
    except to share the burden & do what you can

    I was out in the rain looking for work
    aimlessness you can’t ignore or shirk
    I was out in front so I knocked on the door
    it just opened & closed, nothing more

    we were all searching, we were all in need
    people’s faces said,” I’m human… I bleed.”
    there was grime on their hands & tears in their eyes
    there were people joking & laughing in suits & ties

    we are all workers in the world
    we all labor, we all toil
    your boss is my boss
    your lay-off is my job lost

  15. Where Leo is now
    By Nicole Rainey

    As soon as the BP oil spill began, my cousin Leo started finding fishes in his dedicated spaces — an anemone in the bathroom sink, krill wiggling out of his ear, a baby shark flopping around in his underwear drawer. The dreams were worse. One night he got chased by clansmen through a post-apocalyptic coral reef. The next, eyeless cavefish replaced his teeth. Like many of us, Leo’s nightmares led to insomnia, gluing him to CNN live — you could see it refracted in his eyeballs during the daytime as he played cards or ate a sandwich. The ticker tape, talking heads, looping stories, the endless ebbing and flowing of black gloss and sea.

    On day 43 of the spill, Leo found a handful of oysters in the urinal at work. By 55, kelp fingers untied his shoelaces. Soon, he completely stopped sleeping and the dream animals took over. As the disaster worsened on his television, the wildlife in his reality thickened and buzzed. His house became a clam-shell, a pile of turtle eggs replaced his lover. And so, Leo left. Remembering 1980s images of EarthFirst! teenagers scrubbing herons with toothbrushes, he packed modest supplies and caught a Greyhound bus to Baton Rouge where he’s staying by the seashore, calling me on the payphone collect to say, “Tell my boss I’m not coming back, Nicky. My heart is aligned with this filmy tide.” I said: “Do you need me to send a tent, baby?” He laughed, asked about our mothers, and hung up to plot his revenge for us all.

    A Song of Passing
    By Billy Foster

    How can the end of time,
    Of human existence
    Be a joyous song?
    Not a dirge—but a round,
    Happily sung
    By the voiceless atoms,
    The tiniest specks of creation?

    It will be a song of revolution,
    Of freedom and life—
    Of release,
    Creation ready to revel
    In the lifting of a smoggy shroud,
    A cleansing baptism
    Approaching at a run,
    Wind-fanned flames,
    Laughing conflagration,
    An impassioned and fiery breath—
    New life from ashes—
    Our ashes.

    We are not the phoenix,
    Nor are we the flames.
    We are the imperfections
    Burned away
    By singing tongues of fire
    That once blessed us
    As favored children.

    It will not be
    A sad passing—
    Not for our siblings, at least,
    Those we have pushed aside,
    Treated as orphans,
    Denied.

    Rather, we will pass,
    Dust washed from soiled skin,
    Leaving—when removed—
    A fresh and fragrant body,
    Whole, healed, lovely, and new,
    Virginal again,
    Awaiting another lover.

    © Copyright 2009 Bill Foster

    Banning Weather Vanes
    By Billy Foster

    I’m all for banning the weather vane,
    Gallop poll of the windy population.
    It seems like the place to start
    In the revolution of free thinking.
    Someday we may graduate to
    Thermometers, barometers, and all meters.

    But why stop there!
    After that, we can move to the “ists”
    You know, psychiatrist, podiatrist, chiropodist,
    Gynecologist, oncologist, ists, ists, ists.
    It will take a while to rid them all
    They are so insidious,
    Multiplying like rabbits with unleashed libidos.

    We could cull the isms, too, those pesky,
    Ideological vermin pestering our souls:
    Let’s start with Protestantism and Catholicism,
    Move onto Judaism and Muslimism.
    That takes care of much of our woes.
    Maybe we will leave off with Buddhism and Taoism,
    Innocuous by comparison.
    Paganism can stay, too, for a while,
    So long as it behaves
    And stays within its cast circles.

    This being our first attempt
    To remove the goop that clogs
    Our once-sentient brains,
    Perhaps we can extend our season of prunings
    With all the how-to books pre-empting
    Our own discoveries.
    I think marriage guides must be the first to go—
    Who needs them with the psychologists gone?
    Let’s cash in the get rich quick schemes, too,
    Those guides for funneling money to the already rich.
    House repair and embroidery made easy can stay—
    I’m all for hard work and do-it-yourself.
    Perhaps we will spare a while,
    Those lovely, though essentially useless,
    Garden books—
    If only for aesthetics.

    Sex manuals will fall, for sure,
    Letting us decide for ourselves
    Whether last night’s lay was good or bad.

    Finally, let’s do away with media—
    You know, the television, internet, and cellphone,
    Probably ipods and headsets, and iphones.
    They turn your brain to cottage cheese.
    Let’s replace them with you and me
    And a host of others—talking and meeting—
    Communication of the living
    Brought back into fashion,
    When we complete our scouring away
    Of the mental muck and deafening distractions
    Foisted upon us as must-have accessories
    For something other than living:
    For an empty-headed existence.

    © Copyright 2009 Bill Foster

    RUMINATION ON SHELLEY
    (In Memoriam, James Brown)
    by Ruth-Miriam Garnett

    “…what happens when a new work of art is created is something that happens
    simultaneously to all the works of art which preceded it”
    — from “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” essay, T. S. Eliot.

    “…the stock of such seventeenth-century poets as John Donne and Andrew
    Marvell went sky-high in the early twentieth century while the stock of the
    Romantic stalwart Percy Bysshe Shelly plummeted and has never fully
    recovered.”
    — from The Oxford Book of American Poetry, David Lehman, Editor

    “A heavy weight of hours has chained and bowed
    One too like thee: tameless and swift and proud.”
    —”Ode to the West Wind,” Percy Bysshe Shelley

    You have to have suffered,
    crossed the water and seen
    the slayings, the violations.
    You have to have been
    at the vanishing point,
    under water drowning.,
    gurgling your last breaths
    without gills, cursing the air
    you were made for.

    You have to have had your belly full,
    then emptied through retching,
    had your skull ache from rotund imaginings
    made mockery of by the daylight’s
    cordoned dreams, by nightmares, ensconced
    in the face of cohorts brandishing knives.

    You have to have known these things
    and swallowed guilt whole, felt its oozing
    swathe the gums and repulse the tongue,
    to know that what is joined is joined,
    that in all life grief harvests joy,
    that apart from the hard bones eroding
    and apart from agony, the soul lingers,

    the soul opens up.

    CONCERNING VIOLENCE
    (for Frantz Fanon)
    by Ruth-Miriam Garnett

    Because of how we are wed, enjoined, huddled;
    our herd of faces and eyes
    to one of ascots and blunt hairs,
    we do not recognize this war.
    We are merely the survivors
    who have slept in the crevices of God’s palm.

    There are reasons for our madness, its explication
    notches down the length of a totem;
    for our fear of iron dogma, and of the mask
    that spits and smiles alternately,
    transporting us noiselessly to burial.
    For such offense, we kill with our bare hands.
    This war is like no others.
    I have stood to face them, talking their language.
    I have stood, facing them,
    with squared repugnant shoulders.

    I have been a cough more silent than breath,
    awaiting shares of a religion that rants and rages and spits
    its fanaticism of debris, of paper weighted greater than rock.

    I have said: My People, come with me under these leaves,
    this civilization. Burial is all the same, though bereavement
    is sent by the wrong gods, and the hand held out to supply us
    is emptied of touch. I have rehearsed feeling,
    preparing for wars that history deadlocks.

    I have in the same skull grown two minds.
    One is the other’s warden.

    BROADWAY & 110TH
    by Ruth-Miriam Garnett

    The century is bearing down on wanderers.
    The puffy wino has a story just short of deadly.
    In the din, everyone steps over him.
    In the consensual rot,
    no one wants to hear his language.

    Chortling, he rises, falls again
    onto the concrete. The people inch away,
    arguing over his right to madness.
    While he clarifies his demons, I listen for his poetry.
    Like his stench, his madness is assured.

    Everyone stands by, inhaling other than air
    and wondering what can rout the sewers reeking below the skin,
    or the bodies slumping on the landscape,
    nearer to despair than today’s final, pointed edge
    to tomorrow’s evidence of beginning?

    Someone is naming the days of the week,
    is citing the hour in a contest of evil.
    Violence is our small universe.
    Foul as dogs squatting,
    we fail to please our neighbors.

    The way of the world is the way of war raging in us.
    Wretchedness is our race, is all we inherit.

    RITES AFTER VICTORY
    by Ruth-Miriam Garnett

    So little is left of green grass
    On the slopes of these hills,
    Where we have come to squat and fire clay pots.
    The others are all gone; our fathers tell tales
    Of spilling the blood of women and infants
    Over rock. We took no slaves, all things began new.

    There are none of them to shove and move in corners
    While our own paramount lives take center stage;
    No signs of their hair. Only some night winds
    Carry sounds of their squared speech and tuneless voices.
    And only our old ones can hear these sounds
    And wince from guilt arising like belches
    Of scorched meat. They shake their heads;
    There was no other way to go about the settling
    Of now ancient questions. No waft of spirits,
    In breezes bearing music strains, that staved our fear.
    We turned the harsh side of our faces
    To ensure at least our standing
    If not our singing.

    Next season we plant grass
    And rains will wash the bloodstains
    From the bed of rock and softer earth
    Below us. We have divided up our numbers:
    The ones with plaited hair are to descend these hills.
    They will live down there.
    We with our hair in tufts remain
    Atop the scalps of trees. We will darken
    From the proximate sun, beauty will be named
    Our black limbs slashing through the emerald stalks.

    The ones below
    Will lighten to a color like dried mud
    At first, then take on the hue of sandstone
    Or light bark. They will be fishermen while we
    Hunt game and gather berries from the slopes
    To eat our strength, the rest to store in pots
    And harbor for the months of feasting.
    When we will smear our cheeks with clay
    And dry them in the sun and head downhill.
    Toting beads of berries, racks of meat
    To give our friends, as they ascend with baskets
    Full offish, They have streaked ash
    Across their brows, to show that they
    Have sanctified our darkness.

    Anxious eyes of women
    Will confirm the presence of the drums
    And blowers of reeds, watching their sons
    Whose strides become the drumbeats
    Yearly, when we cluster on this terrace
    A point halfway.

    Else we come again to spilling blood
    To despise the lost reflections of our sense.
    The pale ones, whose voices would become
    A shudder in our winds.

    We have learned to never turn from music,
    And the music is our hearts.

    Dilemma
    By Byron Lee

    Should my pants peak at my thighs?

    Should I dangle participles?

    Should a smile be rubber-stamped on my face?

    Should I broadcast every thought unfiltered, or should a bitten tongue clamp down every concern?

    Should my neck snap to the drums, or should my head bang to the riffs?

    Should I choose between store-bought brands of black and white, or should I mix my own gray?

    Losers
    By Byron Lee

    She lost weight.

    I lost interest.

  16. WILL YOU FEEL SAFER
    by María T. Balogh

    If I don’t linger
    in your bookstore aisles
    flipping pages
    or taking extra time
    finding the correct
    size or color in your
    department store
    if I don’t feel
    the fabric texture
    of the pants you sell
    forcing you to pretend
    to work nearby
    neglecting your job
    to keep an eye on me

    Will you be at ease
    if I don’t call your
    business phone
    and ask you in
    accented tongue
    to clean my house
    to fix my washer
    to mow my lawn
    to work in my yard
    to mend my shoes

    Will you be surprised
    if I reveal to you
    my occupation
    if I tell you
    of my hobbies
    if I am not pushing
    a custodian’s cart
    or holding a mop
    broom or brush
    and I am instead
    about to lecture
    at a science convention

    Madison
    by John K. Blair

    She has a smile
    meant only
    for me
    I think

    As we laugh at another one
    of my silly jokes
    over the lettuce
    she chops for dinner

    A good catholic girl
    from back east
    she attends Sunday mass regularly
    and offers grace before meals

    I feel uncomfortable
    when she nods her head for prayer
    an eternity of silence
    that lasts for only a few minutes

    It reminds me of
    the absence of words
    that led to my parents’ divorce
    in the winter of ’79

    I’m amazed at the two years
    we will have together
    next month
    in our little duplex in Madison

    Her folks have become ardent
    in their suggstions
    that we set a date
    for the wedding

    sweet apple tea (for linda panikowski)
    by John K. Blair

    the hint of sweet apple
    she adds to my tea
    compliments the cinnamon
    i was afraid would overwhelm
    my simple taste

    her sensibilities, as usual
    prove more reliable than mine
    it’s very good, i mumble
    embarrassed by my earlier remark
    that i wanted coffee instead

    she hints at a laugh
    but chooses to smile instead
    while offering me a piece
    of her homemade sugar cookies
    that are my favorite

    in an hour or so
    we will be attending
    an art show that contains
    some of my photographs
    she doesn’t know are of her

    they are from our trip
    to bar harbor last june
    watching the sunset
    over the docks
    where i told her i loved her
    for only the umpteenth time
    that day

  17. (america)?
    By Michael Sullivan

    America, half blind to speak
    half deaf to hear—

    your sights
    unseen by lauders,
    unheard by faithful.

    America what a pernicious fulcrum you’re resting on:

    what listless actors,
    what hollow audience.

    America your rouge is smudged,
    your mascara drippy.

    ‘America woke me up
    in a dream,
    said I had been writing
    in my sleep.
    It made Her cry.
    There was an academic
    executioner turned exiler
    and America left me
    for my best friend.’

    Something’s been lost;
    the world is trembling—
    my skin is trembling
    from hearing words
    that can never be written again…

    (and there was so much else that needed to be said then,
    and now—nation of perpetual noise—
    now—June 3rd, 2011—
    now, words have learned to fly off
    on wings of lacerated tongues.)

    Look, this responsorial
    need not be an empty page,
    and even if it’s true that nothing can ever really be said,
    I’d sooner suffocate from manic exasperated attempts of expression
    than become a drunken hermit
    in my cave of things and cynicism.

    You’ve stiffed yourself
    America.

    America,
    America?
    are you imaginary?
    are you Santa Claus?
    are you Hallmark?
    are you Disney?
    are you Pornography?
    are you a Rock?
    a Dimesack?
    a Used Bottle of Hair Bleach?

    America are you dieing?
    America why aren’t you answering?

    America I saw you disregarded
    in a thrift store bin.
    America I hear an echo.

    America no one cares about flying or burning
    your flag anymore;

    cops are no longer pigs,
    except we are all still niggers and spics.

    America can’t you write a love song anymore?

    Is it true that only bad guys carry guns?
    America have you come up with a good enough slur for the muslims yet?

    ‘Have you heard?
    They stopped playing
    America on the radio.’
    America will you turn that shit off!?

    America my car’s broken down again.
    America yesterday your stock was up 26 and ¾ points.

    Hey
    America! your children can buy adventure on the internet now.

    America are you a sum of people—
    of personal minimum wage celebrities?
    America I don’t want to pay taxes;
    I want a 3D HD Flatscreen TV.

    America what’s a suspension bridge?
    America what is a bundled derivative?
    Wikipedia can’t quite tell me…

    America what do tulips look like?
    Who you callin’ fagot
    America?

    When did you start wearing a bra
    again
    America?
    America when will dinner be ready?

    America when did you get “GRIME”
    tattooed on your placid thighs?
    Did you stop working out?
    You’re arms are getting pretty flabby.

    America I’m having problems
    keeping my eyes open,
    how much for a cup of coffee?

    America,
    America?
    Why aren’t you saying anything?

    Though tainted and diseased
    with corn manure poison,
    your aquatic veins are still pulsing
    and I swear I’ve heard them sing
    before…

    but the speakers are blown out
    and the repairman’s out of business.

    Poetry is not commodity,
    America—
    MFA will not save you:
    MFA—Mother-Fuck
    America.

    Love is not commodity,
    America:
    I lost
    rose lip
    idol eyes
    in a sea of
    rose lip
    idol eyes

    and it only cost me 11.99
    and one day perusing boutiques,
    treading through malls,
    wondering why they don’t hire life guards
    to protect 14 year-old catalog girls
    and their “are you going to rape me now?” mouths.

    God is not commodity
    America:
    I see you, you naïve atheist,
    you capitalist christian bastards.

    Words are scary
    but please, please listen to them again,
    please speak them again.

    You’re gonna leave me looking foolish,
    America,
    begging for your lips and earlobes

    …please
    America, please.

    Value
    By Deborah Mashibini

    One little life
    Just ended
    on my windshield.

    If multiplied
    by the number of specks
    I see
    the toll is staggering.
    A toll that has nothing to do
    with turnstiles
    or highway maintenance fees
    and everything to do
    with the speed
    at which I move.

    Weighing the cost,
    in lives,
    is something I somehow
    neglected
    to consider
    until now.

    Published in the Harwood Anthology, Old School Books, Albuquerque NM 2006

    25 Cents
    By Deborah Mashibini

    All the man asked me for
    was a quarter,
    and here I am tripping.
    All caught up in my assumptions
    about who he is
    where he’s been
    and what my little 25 cents
    or lack thereof
    might do
    to change his destiny.

    The man did not ask for
    my opinion.

    He didn’t ask me to save him
    or damn him
    all he asked for
    was a fraction
    of what it costs me to wash one load of clothes
    and I ain’t even going to the laundry mat today.
    I know I lost at least
    that much in gas
    the last time I filled up
    trying to squeeze one last drop
    in the tank.

    It makes me wonder
    what exactly it is
    about this man
    that makes my little 25 cents
    mean so much more to me
    just because he asked.

    Published in Untamed Ink. Lindenwood University, 2008

    To Have Peace
    By JoyCe Blue

    I got arrested for peace disturbance yesterday morning,
    I went to get my unemployment check
    and they said I had depleted my allowance
    that I was not eligible for any more funds
    so I got angry, got loud and got no results
    then I went crazy and to jail,
    didn’t get no peace there either.
    when I got out and got home,
    I found that the public was selecting at random
    the remains of my life’s pieces,
    cause while being in jail and unemployed
    I got evicted.
    so I took the left-overs and a bus
    to go to my mother’s home
    for shelter, comfort, and warm mother’s loving strokes
    to help sooth me so I could continue to seek peace
    but mother was being taken away
    by white men in white clothes
    to a place where people get peace from pills and needles
    and the county pays, providing she don’t stay too long.
    so I went to a pay phone to call a blast from my past
    cause I was gonna beg for peace
    but the number had been changed again.
    realizing how many things have so drastically changed,
    I hung up the phone and my bright ideas
    and went to sit in the park to think for awhile
    but a man with a knife came up to me
    and demanded of all things
    a piece of my female anatomy
    so with a knife at my throat
    I gave up a piece of myself
    and when the white men in white clothes found me
    I was well on my way to meet the peace maker
    at heaven’s gate
    to get some for-real peace
    for absolutely free.

    Published in Where we can read the wind, VSA Missouri, 2011

    My First Lay Off
    By JoyCe Blue

    Friday the 13th, birds are chirping, the sky is clear
    it’s my last day on the job
    we’re having a barbeque
    old friends are here.

    the food tastes delicious,
    good-bye, good luck and best wishes;
    I’m smiling all the time
    so no one can see what’s really going on inside of me,

    I feel like a kid
    when your mom decides to tell
    that there is no real santa claus
    she thought you’d take it well,
    and she is surprised to see you cry.

    What They Didn’t Say
    By Dena Molen

    It’s what THEY say, they say, if you accept the technology, your
    descendants will grow a nub, this is what they say when they say
    cut out the carbs-no-digest the word, they’ve said so, so they say
    listen to Oprah and they will have a say, on who gets the Oscar, of
    course, they have never asked him- who they are, though they might
    live in Hollywood or D.C., they have been known to say not to smoke-
    and we fume, weren’t they those who struck the match while
    breastfeeding they say, will grow wiser children than those who
    listen to what they say, and they say, and they
    have said, to accept what they say,
    so as to,
    forget to ask,
    who are they?

    THESE STATES
    By Pamela Garvey

    Honey faced and hoarse, our children
    throw small pumpkins like grenades
    to take down signs, splatter
    strangers’ yards. One trips an alarm.
    Skeleton masked, they bolt
    daring one another to set fire
    to a full trash can.
    Next to it, the nursing home’s
    bed bound peer through the latticework
    of a fire escape, their absentee ballots
    like kindling amid magazines and old news
    around the edges of their beds.
    It is election night and so wind swept
    the pollsters forecast low turnout, a landslide.
    Sugared up with his friends, my son
    said he never meant it to happen. His lantern
    was the first to explode against the can.
    His friends were playing war like on television.
    They elected him president.

    INTERVIEW WITH A MOTHER OF PLAZA DE MAYO, ARGENTINA
    By Pamela Garvey

    What was it like then?
    In the plaza my anger turned
    into a long skirt, glasses
    and slippers.

    What did you think of?
    Not hoods or heavy chains, not the bearable
    truth of a body, not cold,
    not planes over the ocean, sharks, cold waters.

    What was that like?
    I hovered always
    at the epicenter. As if gravel
    were suddenly winged.
    I had to march.

    What did you think then?
    I was a slit down the belly.
    Nothing.

    Could you speak then?
    The white kerchiefs blazed.

    Could you speak out loud?
    I walked a billboard.

    And now?
    Once I felt joy. This was as old as
    pots on the fire, straw in the mattress.
    There was a boy

    whose laugh was diamonds.
    He was my breath’s arrow.
    A creature wild as a river. I wish

    I could drown in his rushes.
    A log, loitering. A wind, less
    than a whisper.

    By John Samuel Tieman

    if asked to judge
    my age I’d say we wasted
    our best years on war
    from Nam to Iraq we saw
    the whole world through sniper scopes

    A Concise Biography Of Original Sin
    By John Samuel Tieman

    I’ll tell you a little horror story.
    There’s nothing people won’t do.
    We’ve seen the squad snap
    at attention, heard the colonel
    cry “Ready!”,
    and though we looked away,
    we too took aim at the heart.
    It’s always been like this,
    the muzzle, a puff of smoke,
    someone muttering “Justice, justice …

    __________

    You ask me why times are worse.
    In just a moment of utter stupor
    we ignore the beggar’s gray sore,
    ignore the slow tolling bell,
    skim over articles on death.

    I hear there’s fresh air somewhere
    or a woman I might someday love,
    but here I smear my door with blood,
    for wise men pray for the plague
    and a black fog fills the streets.

    __________
    Having failed in similar endeavors –

    the 2nd wife, the last war, even
    some tortures — the colonel turns

    to you for help.
    A single wick still flickers.

    In a corner cell, there at the wall
    your prisoner stares — the priest

    for hours without a sound;
    an executioner be shadow light

    watching this one breathe
    in, out.

    But that’s last night’s story.
    The creature is no more; now you

    look weary, very weary from your work.

    __________

    Now climb the next rise and stand back.
    See — who would have guessed?
    Shadows so frail they fade,
    a small boy plays a requiem
    flute, ivory white, while you knot
    promises of venom, chants, wet grass.

    At My War’s Wall, A Vietnam Requiem
    In Which The Veteran Accepts The Dead

    By John Samuel Tieman

    Your resurrection destroys all
    our years of silence. Still it
    happens, a hang-round, Chi-Com grenade,
    an AK maybe, RPG, these initials scribbled

    in that last after-action report, your DD forms
    that slam closed that file like this, that
    silver casket. Now your name forms part of a wall,
    the final record, as if Taps is static.

    As if my days groan on now
    like some beast of burden
    drawing the plow through the padi.
    The padi has a name I remember

    no one knows now, no one remembers
    that my burden is a name, your name
    simple as black granite — Hank,
    Pete, Greaser. No one speaks

    as we spoke of home then, a woman,
    a commune for dope smoking Nam vets.
    Our clothes clean. Our skin healed.
    Our languor brutal, brutal and pure.

    I pause. I walk away.
    I am so alone, so alone
    with the wall that became your name.
    Let the years do with us as they will.

    Let the birds of prey alight.
    Who can kill you?
    I will wear your name like a bracelet.
    I will make flutes from your bones.

    For A War Buddy After Taps

    By John Samuel Tieman

    What can we say, buddy?
    So much we could tell
    we’ll never tell –
    the look of wheat after
    we ate bullets to come home,

    the look of a woman for who
    you’d kill to love again,
    the way the sun falls on
    that patch, so they say,
    nailed to the dink kid’s skull.

    Listen. Maybe we’ll say
    What’s it like, a theater
    of war, I’ll tell you: the hole
    in his throat measured
    only a fraction and tags

    they IDed measured
    say a square inch each;
    the citation resembled
    his diploma
    and the VA donated

    a simple modest slab;
    some pals paid respects
    from all across town
    and all the way from LA
    his fiancée. Around the grave

    they formed a circle of pain
    which made infinity
    small. And I’ll not measure
    that last lament
    heard only by God that night.

    Or maybe we’ll say–Listen!–
    we’ve never seen a C-section
    and cancer, but we’ve seen
    this innocent kid in shreds
    and we know it was no mistake.

    Passchendaele

    By John Samuel Tieman

    A party of ‘A’ Company men passing up to the front found … a man bogged to above the knees. The united efforts of four of them with rifles beneath his armpits made not the slightest impression, and to dig, even if shovels had been available, would be impossible, for there was no foothold. Duty compelled them to move on up to the line, and when two days later they passed down that way the wretched fellow was still there; but only his head was now visible and he was raving mad.

    Major C. A. Bill
    Fifteenth Battalion
    Royal Warwickshire Regiment

    A man raves against God. And war
    among its faces
    turns just one to you, the face
    which is your own, your own.

    It’s not the kind of place that would worry
    you in the usual June, your uniform manly,
    your brass polished, sharp, so proud you
    would recite your unit’s history as if
    it were a canto in its own Iliad.
    But that was 1914, when freedom was measured
    in the medals instead of the dead.

    To look at it, there isn’t much
    of a ridge to speak of, 250 feet high,
    its only claim to fame being
    a splendid view of Flanders for which
    544,897 die (maybe 4,700 a day)
    give or take a half-dozen divisions.

    What you have heard is true.
    3:10 AM, 7 June 1917, Messines Ridge.
    In preparation for the larger offensive,
    1,000,000 lbs. of TNT detonated
    along 5 mi. of galleries dug
    under the Germans. By 3:11 AM,
    20,000 dead. Survivors
    mindless, infantile, gibbering.
    The opening round. Then Passchendaele,
    a funeral cadence of muffled drums –
    Hill 60, The Death Trench, Blood Chapel,
    Ypres, Whitesheet, Hill 70, Goldfish
    Chateau, the Vlamertinghe-Wipers Road –
    a map no longer than a Mass card, requiem,
    the litany of the dead angel of lead.
    4,250,000 artillery shells fired
    during the 1st 19 days alone. Alone.
    A fact. And the fact of the matter is
    simple: God is not on your side tonight.

    And a man raves against God, earth,
    man. To think of you decomposing
    even as you speak, humus once more,
    once more a few pounds of ground,
    earth, the many faces of earth, one
    of which is a tomb and the tomb is
    at once both earth and man.

    Like vertigo, you twist into the earth
    and beg the sun to blind you. Instead
    a sun spot burns a hole in a vision
    you would kill if only you could
    hang on till your mind gets right.

    Who but a madman? Who but a madman?
    Who but a madman would have imagined mud
    enough to die in? Who but a madman would
    put guns in the hands of all God’s children,
    tell them stories of glory then kill them?
    Who but a madman would imagine Ypres salient?

    A man raves against God. And war
    among its faces
    turns just one to you, the face
    which is your own, your own.

    Your captain has his gas mask on,
    standing near the sniper’s nest,
    advising the sergeant-major never
    to show his face here again.
    Your sniper has no face, no mask. You
    too will learn to burn out your eyes,
    to take it like a man, to smother
    under mud, to go mad like a man.

    But what you thought was only darkness
    has its own kind of light, like being
    caught in a flare where the only terror
    belongs to you: a German mortar crew
    with nothing better to do than take aim
    at you, just you, only you — there.

    Besides the madness, there’s the woman,
    there’s always the woman, delicate as a lie,
    clean and white, someone the mud doesn’t touch,
    not someone who runs like the meaning
    of speech, but a woman, a woman, your woman,
    the one woman in the world who could save you.
    The one woman in the world you wish to die with.

    Adrenaline. The word burns the very marrow.

    In a moment no longer than a flare,
    in the time it takes a scream to reach
    Sweet Jesus, among a hundred dead, another,
    another man trapped in mud, another man then
    another, another sniper takes aim, another
    bullet goes astray and finds a home, the heart,
    and the bullet will burst like a mortar in the gut
    and the gut will turn to lead and the lead
    to the rain, always a slow assault of a rain,
    speechless as incest, shrapnel like a rapist,
    definite as barbed wire, permanent as the front,
    always the past turns its face to ebony rain
    and tomorrow will be just like today.

    __________
    __________

    Note:

    Following the capture of Messines Ridge, the Battle Of Passchendaele, also known as the Third Battle Of Ypres, properly began on 31 July 1917 with a British push toward the Belgian coast. After four months, the British penetrated a total of only five miles into the German lines, this end point being the village of Passchendaele. The Germans recaptured all this within six months. The British pronounce this place “Passiondale”.

    valhalla nirvana heaven
    By Treasure Sheilds Redmond

    we all saw the egg
    at various stages
    of its descent:

    me from my lower window. the kids
    from higher.

    it hit the sidewalk
    and as the shell
    broke open, and life
    spilled out,
    i knew this was truth:

    we are opague
    and fragile as we zoom
    past our lives
    toward an inevitable
    breaking,

    toward a reason to leave
    our shell behind,

    to seep miraculous
    into the valhalla
    heaven
    nirvana.

    into a word that is only
    a corruption of the original word.

    into god’s blouse
    as she cracks us open
    like mussels on an otter’s chest.

    transition is painless;
    we are made of cracks –
    it is our built in obsolescence . . .

    and then we will see each other
    shed of what separated us

    our yolks will become one

    and we will know heaven
    heavenheavenheaven
    heavenheaveneavenea
    venevenevenirvenir
    vana

    ROTATE YOUR TIRES
    Brett Lars Underwood, 2011

    Negative Nellies and Sweet Polly Purebreads,
    He-Men, bullhorns, underdogs, clicking mice and fraidy cats,
    Cronkites, security cams and helmets, safety goggles and empathy
    true love and gravel fucks
    don’t stop the wars hawks drop and
    the rain of bloody injustice in the dustbeltistan
    as you flip through the channels and pages
    looking for the rest
    of the wrestling of your mind
    in the high definition specs that
    fail to capture the cosmic slop.

    A wedding ring and the keys to the minivan
    when daddy’s taken for a goose ride
    and we’re all conked out like Mr. Van Winkle
    makes no nevermind to the vortex or the fish tails because
    The Viet Cong didn’t watch the Waltons
    and Good Times so you could buy
    cheap tee shirts and the scrap metal Coca-Cola cans
    from a ground zero china shop away from the bull
    of Wall Street.

    So flit around in the mind of Billy Pilgrim
    or pretend we fed turkeys to helpless savages
    and that the radios help us
    consider all things in mid-commute from
    cubicle to air-conditioned podcast twitter feed
    facsimile of life.

    Change your tires
    Change your oil
    Change of scenery
    Change your mind
    Change for a dollar
    Loose change?
    Sex change?

    Feel better?
    Well, if you weren’t full of shit,
    you’d be changing your pants.

    So there’s something.

    If you think too much about the difference
    between the damage you have done and the
    frugality that you promise yourself,
    remember that shrink-wrapped vegetables
    and leaf-blowers ARE FUCKING RIDICULOUS!
    …and so are you.

    Ha!

    Manageable decisions and necessary delusions
    at all other times.
    Or…
    Is it reality for you?

    History confirms our banality
    stupidity
    and destructive proclivities.
    …and all the time pimpin’ is in effect.
    You know what I’m sayin’
    Bitch better have my money!

    Take a dose of satire when needed.
    Baffle the dumb-ass.
    Kiss a smart-ass of your liking.

    …and prepare to be chastised.

    Take care of yourself.
    The only real control we ever
    have
    and need
    is with self…

    and the self is a fallacy.

    …BUT! when you can manage,
    remember
    the only commandment,
    according to that bag lady in the cathedral:
    DON’T BE AN ASSHOLE!

    Oops!
    Too late?
    Well, here’s this:
    Focusing on what you don’t want
    brings it to you.
    So watch out!
    You’re gonna die.

  18. Self-Portrait with Personal Notes for Miss Lucille
    By Melissa Singleton

    Dab the oil behind your ears.

    Two drops on each side.

    Clary sage, Palmarosa,

    Bay, Mugwort, and Clove.

    Add a touch of patchouli and grapefruit.

    Assert the force within you.

    You’re still breathing.

    Forget there are such things

    as death, disease and fear.

    Forget decay. Forget

    a chest heavy with rocks,

    back heavy with slime.

    Know this: no matter what

    (chaos, horror, despair) happens

    in between,

    some days you will rise

    and walk the earth

    and be the Strongest Thing

    you’ve ever seen.

  19. Los Alamos
    By Debra L. Edwards

    They applauded themselves
    for their timing,
    to be a part of history
    in the making,

    taking leave of their sanity
    to excess their senses
    for the goodness of state.
    They dug themselves a cesspool

    and rendered the ultimate thrill,
    a 56 million dollar blow job,
    and a guilty conscience still
    trying to buy forgiveness.

    ©Copyright Debra L. Edwards 1998

    I’m Tired of Turning the Other Cheek
    By Debra L. Edwards

    I always thought that I was born gifted.
    and if given space to adventure, maybe I’d find
    a certain peace of mind to help lift
    the burden of being born in the wrong time.
    You see, I searched far and wide and did not seek
    to hide what I am and trying to be.
    In fact, the further I went the closer I came to me.
    to the four corners of the earth and back I would fly.
    I experienced the senses of every race.
    and almost believed I achieved universal love.
    But the grand façade cost a price I chose to rise above.
    For the right to be nice I refuse to debase.
    And though the gifts I bear are still intact,
    I can no longer deny the fact that I am tired
    of trying to love, and be loved by a white world
    which has no heart to visualize the power and beauty
    of one well intentioned black girl.

    ©Copyright Debra L. Edwards 1998

    The Orphans
    By Debra L. Edwards

    They roam the highways and byways,
    Outlaws, bandits and desperadoes,
    in search of escape from flight.
    Riding their winged stallions
    with motorized hooves
    they speed along through vast wastelands.
    Conquering wind, air and dust
    blazing trails of hope
    and trampling pasts of trust,
    repeating their journey over and over again
    until all direction is lost.
    And where once stood a clear vision
    now stands erected a maze of trails
    with no destination.

    They sail the seas and oceans
    pirates riding the waves of expectations
    searching for another horizon
    to give meaning to endless movement.
    Neither loving anchored sanctuary,
    nor foundations of wants needs, compassion,
    dwelling only to excrete their haste.
    And where once glistened a sea of hope
    an ocean of love,
    now arises a bottomless mass
    of drained aspirations.

    They are not to blame
    for their journey starts from whence they came.
    All that lies within their paths
    are their shadows distorted by their fury.
    Their anguish, their lust for
    their lost and secret treasure.
    They are the orphans of fate
    in search of silver phallic and golden wound
    their faith in humanity that was tossed to the winds,
    Scattered and abandoned unto obscurity.
    They are their mysteries questing peace
    from silver phallic and golden wound,
    legendary creators of hearth and home.

    ©Copyright Debra L. Edwards 1998

    Change
    By Debra L. Edwards

    It is said to be all that is constant
    But I know no such truth.
    I have been as I am for so long.
    I do not know how I was before.
    Or shall be later.
    I know my imperfections.
    Some of them I like.
    They give me character.
    But I want to lessen the flaws.
    To lighten the load.
    Of belonging to this world.
    Yet loving the individual.
    For the solitude.
    That so often enraptures me.

    I perceive change as evolution.
    And I am where I started.
    When I discovered I was here.
    And that movement is only secondary.
    To motivation.
    You have to care.
    Or there is no purpose.
    Just empty actions.
    But my caring has not gone.
    Beyond questioning.
    Has not taken physical form.
    In action or influence.
    I have not touched or been touched.
    To the point of change.

    Perhaps I am too lusty.
    And should flow.
    From a simple touch.
    Rather than wait and wait.
    And wait for the heavy impact.
    Wait until my stomach
    cracks from hunger.

    Wait until I too
    can not afford the heat.

    Wait until I am barren
    because I can not afford it either.

    Wait until diplomacy
    has united world corruption.

    Wait until the bomb
    drops ay my doorstep.
    How can I be so personable?
    About what is not mine?
    I think perhaps the only time
    my life was mine
    was when I survived birth.
    And my will to live.
    Gave me life.
    But from that point on
    I became “everybody”.

    I laughed, I cried
    I hungered, I feasted
    I was cold, I was warm
    I hated, I loved
    I gave, I received.

    So what is change?
    To do it all better.
    To even the odds for
    the “not everybody”
    To market and distribute the good
    and recall the bad.
    To create a balance of humanness.

    I have come to know the problems,
    An evolution of our better selves
    will solve them.

    ©Copyright Debra L. Edwards

    Utoya
    By Cris Gualberto

    Upon the waters,

    my life closes

    falling into blackness

    waves

    screams reverberating

    my silence lisping

    Eliza, Eliza

    Faces now obscured

    Crashing into voids

    Is this dying?

    Is this death?

    Submerging into the depths

    Mother

    I see you.

    I see everyone.

    Drowning

    Thoughts becoming whispers

    Eliza, Eliza

    I am reaching outwards

    A last

    Touching

    Wait for me

    Await

    So faint

    Light

    Eliza,

    Eliza

    I am coming

    From Misrata
    By Cris Gualberto

    Our arms upraised
    Our voices a single scream

    We have set the world ablaze
    Now, there is a new dream.

    No longer will we suffer.
    No longer shall we cry.

    Once, they called our homeland, “Mother.”
    Now, we only see their lies.

    We do not fear their hatred.
    We shall not conceal our pain.

    We stand before their bullets.
    We stand before their flames.

    Our hopes are the chasm.
    Our lives are the call.

    The past is ever a phantom.
    Let all tyranny fall.

    We have seen our fathers die.
    We have seen our children weep.

    Our beloved dead now lie
    within the vast desert’s sweep.

    Yet, our struggle is only beginning.
    The dream shall never cease.

    Libya’s blindness is now ending.
    Now is the season of her release.

  20. Triptych: Crows
    By Jon Dressel

    i

    They came roistering through the city
    every day at dusk, finished with
    their pillaging in fields of corn

    to east, and bound for woods out to
    the west to make a roost for night;
    they were part of the darkening of the sky.

    They came at first by fours and fives
    but soon great squadrons filled the air,
    circling, swooping, rasping caws,

    descenders peeling by the drove
    to rest in clusters like black fruit
    atop the shade trees of our yards.

    We watched through windows, then went out,
    like shamans of some threatened tribe,
    to drive them on with banging pans.

    ii

    When the virus hit, West Nile they named
    it, brought to our parts harboring plague,
    they took the brunt. Better they

    than we, we it struck us, as they died
    by thousands in the woods and fields;
    we read it in the papers, heard it

    on the news, stood witness with each
    twilight as they wasted down;
    then they were gone. We did not miss

    them them early on, we still had starlings
    robins, sparrows, brilliant cardinals,
    mottled doves, birds of the neighborhood,

    not intruders, little in their presence
    to stir rufflings of unease.
    The pans hung silent on our walls.

    iii

    We sensed it slowly, vaguely, a strange
    vacancy at dusk; we almost
    grieved lost clusterings of blackness

    in the trees. And when at last
    by twos and threes, we spied them
    in the evening sky again,

    we felt a quickening of heart,
    as if something gone vagrant in
    our being was returning, tentative,

    probing, bent on repossession of
    its place in our blood scheme.
    And now, as dark matures each day

    we mark their slow and sure increase,
    at peace with their resurgent presence,
    armed against it, pans to hand.

    Let’s hear It for Goliath
    By Jon Dressel

    who never asked
    to be born
    either, let alone
    grow nine feet

    tall and wind
    up a metaphor;
    fat chance he
    had of avoid-

    ing the shove
    from behind;
    his old man
    no doubt gave

    him a sword
    to teethe on,
    and a scout
    for the Philistine

    host probably
    had him under
    contract by
    the end of

    junior high;
    it was a fix;
    and who wouldn’t
    have cursed

    at the sight
    of that arr-
    ogant runt with
    the sling, who,

    for all his
    psalms, would later
    buy one wife
    with a hundred

    bloody pecker-
    skins, and another
    with a King’s X
    on Uriah; bah,

    let’s hear it
    for Goliath, a big
    boy who got
    bad press but

    who did his job,
    absorbed a flukey
    shot, and died
    with a thud.

    Day in the Sun
    By Leonard Smith

    Dedicated to the alien and other intelligences in a planet much like Earth

    Introduction

    Accept the dichotomies or wear them, embody them, be them.

    once, common knowledge knew
    Xtians atheists were, god deniers.
    thought changed: Xtians claimed their square.
    common knowledge knew new atheists and accepted
    heresy as a babe in arms

    So conditions worsen—it can only get worse on the downward path.

    Silly me—waves surge if winds will;
    strength ascends as weakness falters;
    the spiral around somewhere is here.

    its one planet, many people, as
    blue Tara celestial space-bus powered by whale song
    glides her present route in the Milky Way
    arriving here every moment

    sure as pulse, true as tomorrow
    misadventures and accidents
    join the fossil record.
    Atlantis the space shuttle

    enters the past with vinal Jeffersonian starships
    tagging about fat thick rockets and heavy footed dinosaurs
    are heavy fun so high til expansion
    ends with a “Pop” and our tents

    and our cities need clean water, and this is natural
    and we are natural, we are nature’s eye,
    controlled or controlling, moving out in
    trains planes cars and boats material excretion

    as true as the chambered nautilus shell
    moving up or down substantial earth at sea with itself
    and wholely spirit so naked so invisible
    so into every breath, each passage, each sweep

    of the long arm of the fan doing the wave
    divisible as errant pathways, divergences, curiosities
    odd seeking dreams take flight, take wing like
    feathered beings learning to flock

    like us on a good day in the sun
    riding in blue Tara celestial space-bus
    powered by whale song in the Milky Way
    whether you want to or not.

    9/21/11 lds

  21. By Ben Moeller-Gaa

    afternoon heat
    wasp shadows
    in the curtains

    By Ben Moeller-Gaa

    cicadas

    tornado sirens

    cicadas

    By Ben Moeller-Gaa

    tornado sirens
    finally
    something to talk about

    Audobon
    By Susan Trowbridge Adams
    September 2011

    The answer to violence is not silence.
    The need for peace is not met by tact.
    (Music is honest always, but that’s a code).
    Stare. Get out your binoculars, your microscope,
    and develop an eye problem. Look but don’t touch.
    You break it, you buy it.
    Say what you know, with your cheek turned.
    Be what the radio broadcast ought to be,
    News:
    I am white, and American.
    No one can celebrate a difference
    they refuse to notice.
    “All men are created equal” is not “We are all the same.”
    If you are a physicist, if you are black, or Latino,
    if you speak Tagalog, if you have raised sons,
    If you till your fields behind a water buffalo,
    If you have been married, if you are male,
    If your hips do not ache in your sleep,
    Then you are not me.
    This is a beautiful thing.
    When we choose to bird-watch the rest of humanity
    we can celebrate.
    We can become xenophilic, we can leave others tranquil
    to do as they must.

    Philistines:
    By Susan Trowbridge Adams
    1976

    The idiot who told the story
    to the moron who reported it
    must have been insensible
    or dreaming
    Perhaps he was not even attending
    because obviously
    Goliath won.

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