3300 Club – 100 Thousand Poets for Change: Poetry Contest

 

THE STRETCH

I can no longer wake up and drink beer

And sleep thru the afternoon

Yoga = yes

Then jogging around Nob Hill

While the Railroad Kings laugh

Ha, ha

 

Poem on Broadway’s Sidewalk

“People

Are not

To be

Looked

Up to

Or

Down

Upon

They are

To be

Harmonized with”

*A found poem written with colored magic markers on masking tape;
each line was on a different strip of tape, placed on the sidewalk.

 

Buying Bamboo on Jackson Street

 

Time for some good luck with summer ending and autumn approaching

 

So I go to the mom and pop bamboo shop on Jackson Street,

And ask the mom for a piece of “Beautiful” bamboo, around five bucks worth

 

With her back to me while caring for her plants in vases by the wall,

“They are not beautiful or ugly; they are all the same”

 

Then turning around she appears with a nice piece of bamboo, around three feet, and

Hands it over to me, as I give her a fiver, which she takes and waves in front of my face,

 

Smiling, showing her teeth, eyes lit up, she waves the fiver, “This is beautiful”

 

all three by Jonathan Hayes

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3300 Club – 100 Thousand Poets for Change: Poetry Contest — 12 Comments

  1. MENTAL HEALTH CLINIC

    You’ve already told her who you are
    but the clerk at the county mental health clinic
    blinks, taps pencil to counter, isn’t listening
    to your pause as the wrong verb
    switches lanes with the noun of your name

    you want to see someone in charge
    talk to one of them about what is fitting
    complain about the graffitied elevator doors
    that lock from the inside, stink of pee
    and how, when the clients in the reception area
    see you exposed, stepping out
    which you do like a billboard, tilting
    ready to crash against something hard
    they all look up at you, then disappear
    like so many cockroaches in sudden light.

    your mouth swallows spontaneous combustion
    burns itself back to its unspeakable source

    you crane your neck at the impatient clerk
    the way small animals do when they smell danger
    “I know I’m real to you,” you whisper
    in slow degrees of release, over and over again

    until the words dissolve like snow on your tongue
    where tiny blooms of blood burst through its fire.

    by Eileen Malone

  2. Forgotten

    Dim & dusty antique shops harbor
    Old boxes crammed with postcards,
    Photographs, tiny bits of information
    Concerning the lives of the long-dead
    Strangers who stare out at us,
    Seeing only a shrouded photographer.

    What half-truths are contained
    In their brief messages that
    Sport the postage of long-dead empires?
    Who is John? Mary’s husband? Brother?
    Time has changed them all to dust.
    What of the address – a house re-fitted
    With modern plumbing once lit by gas –
    Now used by a higher class of citizen,
    Personal computers in place of Stereo-optician,
    Compact disc in place of the pianola.

    Minor mysteries will never find solution.
    Obscurity locks up any revelation.
    Although it is all there in the archives,
    There is no need to expose
    Their gentle existences.

    by J.B. Frame

  3. TOUGH ON TOUGH

    Well it’s TOUGH
    That’s just TOUGH TOUGH TOUGH
    Folks just love the word TOUGH
    TOUGH here
    TOUGH there
    TOUGH everywhere
    TOUGH cops
    TOUGH love
    TOUGH teachers
    TOUGH standards
    TOUGH talk
    TOUGH this
    TOUGH that
    Too TOUGH
    Too much TOUGH TOUGH TOUGH!
    Everyone loves TOUGHness it seems
    (and no wonder!)
    TOUGH is Tyrant is Terrorist is Torture
    is Traumatize
    Tyrannosaurus Rex
    The Tyrant Lizard
    Terrorized and Tortured other dinosaurs
    Tyrants Terrorize the people of their fiefdoms
    and expect everyone to love them for it.
    TOUGH talk—intimidation and bullying of others.
    TOUGH standards—tyrannizing students children
    employees subordinates
    TOUGH cops—Taunt and Torture and Traumatize
    those not like them
    the colors creeds religions sexual orientation
    and more
    and all expect the recipients to say thank you
    and when the recipients do not say thank you
    and they do not love their oppressors
    their masters their superiors their bosses
    and disgruntled employees striking out
    suppressed students vandal graffiti drop out
    Folks stoned out on pick your substance
    Crime, poverty, desperation,
    meanness, cynicism
    the terrorized last out and uprise
    with disrespect plus hatred for authority
    But of course rather than check their own
    culpable methods of the exalted Taskmaster
    our TOUGH guys
    TOUGH bosses
    call for
    TOUGHer regulations!
    TOUGHer laws!
    TOUGHer judges!
    TOUGHer penalties!
    TOUGHer scrutiny!
    And so here we are
    in a modern dinosaur age
    with everyone moaning groaning
    scapegoating and going with the flow
    preferring figurative prisons with the
    delusion of security to the risk of
    democracy and freedom.
    Such is a society
    whose most sacred
    word is
    TOUGH
    Sic semper TOUGH tyrannis.

    by Garret Murphy

  4. breath taking

    if you,
    a baby tree frog
    who just lost your tail
    and you really miss it,
    hop
    from one leaf
    to
    the next,
    could be
    your finest
    moment

    if you,
    an out of shape shaman
    with an obstreperous feather
    regalia sleeping in,
    soar
    from one mountain
    to
    the next,
    could be
    your finest
    flight

    if you,
    an extra-virgin poet
    with a wildfire in the heart
    even the kindest fireman
    can’t seem to put out,
    sigh
    from one poem
    to
    the next,
    could be
    your finest
    line

    by Marvin R. Hiemstra

  5. American Nature Poem

    Come on, it’s just your opinion
    the TV disagrees with—do you know how
    human beings disappear? I hear
    silence in the pause of a trash truck
    backing up, when the hairdryer’s blown a fuse.
    This program contains violent content.
    Natural mango body butter–
    it’s new, I just picked it up from the store.
    Lean in closer, you’re my brother
    so I want you to know,
    statistics show that there’s not
    much hope—what’s that buzzing?
    The microwave radiating–
    it would be nice to do something so well.
    Yesterday, through the window, I saw
    the most beautiful thing—balloons tied to the
    neighbor’s mailbox. The yellow of thick paint,
    a raw stalk of green, black like a sore
    before blue. The world’s termites outweigh
    the world’s humans ten to one.
    Can you picture it?

    by Leigh Lucas

  6. Alphabet Soup

    My mother is sixty
    She plays tennis
    And wears pearls
    Lately, the words have started
    Falling out of her head

    We read Emily Dickinson
    It’s my idea
    I can never tell if she knows
    What the words mean

    The sticky letters
    Fling like pearls when she
    Rounds the stairs and drip
    When she stands
    In the kitchen

    If I don’t collect them quickly
    She wipes them up with a sponge
    She has always been deft with a sponge

    When she’s on the phone
    Or is salting the pot on the stove
    I try to slip a few back in
    Words like carriage and scarcely

    I think she would appreciate what I’m doing
    But I don’t want to embarrass her
    So I recite words clearly
    And watch as some of them catch
    And others bounce and trickle into soup
    Immortality
    Civility

    I used to look for letters in soup
    Now I look for words
    She looks for the salt
    The phone is ringing

    by Leigh Lucas

  7. Know

    In the studio she likes your work.
    You’re serious. She looks like a child.
    You go out for coffee and talk.
    Outside your room stars fill the sky.
    She gets the house. You send the checks.
    Your kid says no. You move out west.
    Into the emptiness
    you said “I love you.”
    You know what’s coming.
    There’s nothing you can do.

    Long as you did the best you could.
    Bred well and built, played safe, got along.
    Composted forty tons of food.
    Picked up some tricks like writing a poem.
    A soul sees its temple turn to paste,
    or a beast sits dumb in its own waste.
    Count the domino days
    cause there remain so few.
    You know what’s coming.
    There’s nothing you can do.

    Once we could speak against the war,
    hold a hand out to those in need,
    work so our kids had something more.
    Few things were good. One was not greed.
    Now we shop in the company store
    that owns the words worth living for.
    Secure us from the terror
    of what lies inside the true.
    You know what’s coming.
    There’s nothing you can do.

    We spent sunshine saved for eons
    on nine billion mouths talking at once,
    took a few small steps upon the moon.
    Our numbers made us little suns.
    The sea is dead. The ice is gone.
    Left the Stone Age. We’re going home,
    cause we lived off a loan
    with the balance far past due.
    You know what’s coming.
    There’s nothing you can do.

    by Tim Van Hook

  8. LIPS ARE NEVER NEUTRAL: end our (un)civil war

    Small parcel
    of flesh, paired
    upper & lower
    no big deal, certainly
    not the vessel
    of the soul,
    as the eye would say.

    Yet, at this precipice
    you remember
    your grandmother
    kindly with conviction
    telling you, a 5 year-old
    brat, “Mind your lip, child.
    A sneer is a loaded weapon.”

    You listened.
    The lesson
    took. Why
    have so many
    elected
    officials
    forsaken
    their matriarchs?

    Kit Kennedy

  9. Beneath the Big Oak Fall 1995 by Sherron Smith CR

    I was waiting for my ride and noted, today, grass growing between
    the bricks!

    the grass, a promise, a new spring–

    the muted oak leaves are piled on the rise of the past —

    all askew–

    how the bricks seem to be neatly stacked up next to each other,

    Contiguously–

    one brick, one end slightly downward

    and I am wondering why and what happened to make it so different?

    a few drops of rain on my face and the gray skies and cold breeze,
    all reminds me of college in Idaho in the Fall–

    the sounds of the chattering students,

    bronzed team players with their animated
    cheerleaders,

    and someone at the golf course is yelling, “Fore!”

    parking-lot noises, rumbling of engines, tires
    squealing

    all students rushing for a cozy coveted parking spot and
    dash off to class– Hurry! Hurry!

    Did anyone notice the grass growing between the bricks today?

    tiny velvet leaves, just budding…

    Did anyone see that one brick is slightly downward at one end?

    When the sun begins to shine again, maybe they will find the time
    to stop and look at the new tiny grass growing between the bricks–

  10. To Women in Love.
    Craig Rouskey

    Little Red Hen,
    the sky is falling from loosely knit ropes which bind the fabric of
    hours and infinity.
    Love, Red Head!
    Let the heart beat like the tribal drum that burns between your
    well-toned thighs.
    Let the marks of beauty buried beneath endless onion skin lined
    leathery layers shine with the glory your maker bestowed upon you.
    by my heart I swear that you will burn with the timeless passion that
    grants us prophecy, the ability to feel in the future!
    Run, crimson flowing daughters!
    Bleed with the uncovered spirit that courses through your veins!
    Sound the siren song of pain as you crash blindly into love’s rocky shore!
    Stand boldly at the precipice and scream reflectively at the jagged
    blades as they cut away fleshy coats to expose the gospel according to
    life!
    Embrace the sun’s burn as it penetrates the deep and stirs autonomy,
    heaving growing hopeful cells of endlessly replicating joy.
    Drain the expectation from your mind as post-pubescent clay melts from
    your eyes and war paint emerges dripping from your chin to your core.
    Turn your head to hear the brilliant echo that beams from wall to wall
    within your cavern,
    know your sound as you pound your way to eternal glory,
    sanctified and spent,
    burnt and broken,
    whole and happy,
    you will be loved.

  11. Through

    (From the unbounded past the energy of everything and everyone
    focuses through each life into everyone and everything in the unbounded future.)

    The clouds can’t cling to the raindrops, and the drops can’t capture the sun,
    In a lens they bend the rainbow as they plummet to the ground,
    And the souls who drink in their water release them again when they cry
    to the lake flowing to the ocean, who must breathe them back to the sky.

    ‘Cause you can see the colors of the sun, and feel the tears in rivers run,
    Only as they flow through you, only passing through.

    The sun penetrates the timeless temple on a singular morn
    And illuminates never ending columns waiting to be born.
    The babies flower and fade away. You can’t steal the scent of their sweat,
    But the blossoms of generations of children entwine with you yet.

    ‘Cause you can whisper love to ones soon lost, and play back prisms of the past,
    Only as they flow through you, only passing through.

    Notes played before memory still reverberate in the song.
    Syllables spoken long ago will reincarnate in the poem.
    After dinner friends and the family linger long but then all go home.
    Later they gather to remember every word that’s not carved in stone.

    ‘Cause you can laugh the language of delight, and sing lullabies to the night,
    Only as they flow through you, only passing through.

    by Tim Van Hook

  12. Working Class Changes by Nancy Keane

    “May the road rise up to meet you.”

    Quaint Celtic cliches,
    black and tan pints,
    Tamony Hall died long ago.

    Beneath working class archaeological
    ruins, rusty union buttons, black metal
    lunch pails, only plastic wrappers survive
    from then to now.

    Skeletal remains of men who labored
    away their lives. Pride in eyes now
    hallow sockets for nesting roaches.

    Wall Street companies spring up,
    gluttonous CEOs, sedentary computer
    techs, do palates, spinning, keep in
    shape.

    In corners and bends of working class
    neighborhoods, laborers continue to
    bend re-bar, build, paint, repair,

    and on St Patrick’s day in this city of
    St. Francis, they hoist pints, devour
    hearty plates of corned beef, cabbage,

    sing along to rousing songs that image
    their past, give hope to futures of work
    filled days, love filled nights,

    pride in a job well done.

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