Sunday, August 31, 2014

Two Poems by J.K. Durick


We chose sides years ago,
From the foot of the bed
I'm on the left, my wife
On the right, a half court
Each, goals are not easy
To score, the advantage
Goes to the one who gets
To sleep first, a matter of
Timing and then position,
On our backs we can roar
From the depths of our being
Asleep, whine and wheeze,
The tone and range depend
On the day we left behind,
Restless pausing, running up
And down the scales, solo,
Nasal passages and throat
Partially obstructed, playing
Disturbing tunes over and
Over to a captive audience,
Our opponent in this odd
Contest, breathing exercise;
Sleeping we get away with
So much, disturb even our
Love ones, sometimes drive
Them out to a couch, the one
The dog isn't snoring on,
To wait out the storm of it;
Snoring settles after awhile
To a soft almost soothing hum
That couples come to know
Over the years, a peace offering
Worth the wait, rhythmical,
Reassuring, a thing we'd find
Hard to sleep without.


We have set aside too many things
As if supply and demand had little
To do with everyday use, as if our
Demands could ever be satisfied
As if supply was the easy answer
We bought and brought, selected
And collected, this and that and yet
More to store away, let's just say
Until today, our day of reckoning
Of tabulating, getting the measure
Of our time spent, of our hoarding;

Here we have several shelves of
Canned goods, without opposing
Selves of canned evils, an obvious
Metaphysical flaw, a balance lacking
Like this explains the unread books
The recordings and tapes no one
Plays, like the tree falling way out
Somewhere with no one to hear it
Fall or call, and over here we have
Paper products, all useful things
Waiting us out, enough tissues to
Sneeze at, to wipe tears and noses
Soothe and suffer, paper plates and
Plastic cups, enough plastic knives
And forks to feed the troops, and
There are toys and games minus any
Children or anyone playful enough
Any more to find the sense in them;

There are cobwebs enough here too
And dust, as parts of our collection
Reminders of where all this is going
This supply and demand, our certainty
Our caution, our planning, inventory
Surrounded by cobwebs, turning to
Dust, as we sit here counting it all.

J.K. Durick is a writing teacher at the Community College of Vermont and an online writing tutor.  His recent poems have appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, Black Mirror, Third Wednesday, Thrush Poetry Journal, and Ink, Sweat, and Tears.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Two Poems by Robert S. King

Late Riser

Inside the irons of gravity
and long, heavy orbits of my years,
I bow my back upward
like a lost horizon, push up
and point my arms skyward
until they lock in place, shape
my hands into birds with open
mouths above me, where earth's
centrifugal spin no longer pushes
down, where gravity snaps and wings
sprout from shoulder blades.
Like a jet I fall upward higher
and higher at last, the dust of me
writing my name across the sky.

Rising Light

In the core of a sleeping seed
is a dream that wants to grow.

A blanket of dirt warms the will
that softly turns the soil to sky.

Even those too deeply buried
see flashes in the dark depths.

The inner eye shines
always toward the morning.

Robert S. King, a native Georgian, now lives in Lexington, Kentucky.  His poems have appeared in hundreds of magazines, including Atlanta Review, California Quarterly, Chariton Review, Hollins Critic, Kenyon Review, Main Street Rag, Midwest Quarterly, Negative Capability, Southern Poetry Review, and Spoon River Poetry Review.  He has published four chapbooks (When Stars Fall Down as Snow, Garland Press 1976; Dream of the Electric Eel, Wolfsong Publications 1982; The Traveller's Tale, Whistle Press 1998; and Diary of the Last Person on Earth, Sybaritic Press, 2014).  His full-length collections are The Hunted River and The Gravedigger's Roots, both in 2nd editions from FutureCycle Press 2012; One Man's Profit from Sweatshoppe Publications 2013; and Developing a Photograph of God, Glass Lyre Press, 2014.  Robert's work has been nominated several times for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net award.  He currently is editor-in-chief of Kentucky Review.  His personal website is

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Poem by Donal Mahoney

Weeds and Blooms

Alice, a mother and housewife,
watches her husband, the doctor,

out in the garden on weekends
weeding with a speed and ferocity

she can't muster, her energy spent
taking care of the kids.

They never discuss his work
at the clinic where he digs

bulbs out of wombs, snuffing
any chance for blooms.

Donal Mahoney has had poetry and fiction published in various publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.  Some of his earliest work can be found at

Three Poems by Paul M. Strohm

'leaps with an awakening sound'

'leaps with an awakening sound'
    seems generational
    seems a ghastly obsolete
'bankrupt master, a fallen angel.'

'would that the ship Argos had never sailed,'
    symbolizing what,
    meaning that if
'perforated with holes,'

'what can they understand,'
    after all these words,
    fated to pass away
'our unofficial view of being.'

'flesh is weak but love'
    makes a myth permanent,
    wandering on waves
'he was but a good man.'

A Curse of a Sensuous Chair

Chair scrolling a metamorphic exaggeration
   a sensuous image
   a roundness heightened
   a curve within boundaries
   a slow moving line
   white and blue arms
   a grasping arm
   grasping and opening
   a darken background
   a thinness
   a thickness
   a stretching arm
   woman and man entwined
   a sudden hesitation
   hesitating and starting
   a soft pink lightness
   a briefness
   a shrillness
   a tendering arm

All the Bad Assed Bananas Have Spoiled

All the bad assed bananas have spoiled
their brown skins peeled
tossed out near Catholic thrift shops
attracting only the vomit of flies

These curving yellow pleasure wrappers
one hole in and no holes out
disgorged upon by cossack clowns
torn, sticky, evidence of carnal sin

Shared treasure trove for a kid's buck
dispensed within a rowdy gang
sculling dirty magazines for information
monogamous hands a guy's last friend

Each afternoon the streets are cleaned
All that's left is the next boy's dream.

Paul M. Strohm is a freelance journalist working in Houston, Texas.  His poems have appeared in, the Berkeley Poets Cooperative, The Lake, WiND, and other literary outlets.  His first collection of poems entitled Closed on Sunday is scheduled to be published in late 2013 by the Wellhead Press.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Three Poems by Carl James Grindley


The Young Fisherman waits
For the Old King's forgiveness, a replacement
Abalone license, and some sort of half-
Arsed tax deferment.  Crown
Askew, the Old King feigns wisdom
And sternly orders the return
Of a previously misplaced
VHS tape of his coronation,
But the King is going
On five years late with it
And since Red Hot Video went out of business,
The tape does not get
Re-shelved, but is instead dumped
In the trash.  The Young Fisherman returns
Breathless and sweaty, entering
The chamber on his knees.
He freezes in supplication.

Folio verso folio verso--every
Time a new page appears, a litany
Of Slack-jawed nonsense words--half
Thought out bullshitcrap--attempts
To scribble itself down in poorly
Remembered Greek letters, only to edge
Its way from a ruined and quite
Imaginary landscape and into the real world.
The only way to stop it is through
Unexpected violence.

As you guessed, Lora, no one
Is ever impressed, and smoking
All the cigarettes I have ever
Smoked, everyone I have
Ever met just stands
Around my front porch, waiting
For the collective news that all of our other friends
Have died.  After the telegrams finally
Arrive--bags and bags of them--the only
Thing left behind is a mere
A dunce cap of ash to spread
On some pebbly shore.

One quick
Question:  if I put on
My girlfriend's panties, can we
Go and see an opera?
I haven't been to one in so long,
And to tell you the truth,
I miss the shit out of going
To operas.

The Old King's youngest daughter used to snort
Ground up Oxy and cry rape every fifteen
Minutes, but he got the dumb bitch into
Rehab and now she's in sober living
And works nights at Tim Horton's.

In the end, none of it matters:
In my version of the Greek
Alphabet, it is unclear whether
Theta follows or precedes eta.
It is flexible in a way Greek
Is not supposed to be.


No one on television is ever going to live
My life for me--and it is both
Disgusting and disappointing
That it took so long for me
To figure this out.

Notate bene, you people of the cold Pacific:
I have been repeatedly woken up
By all sorts of irritating
Noises:  rusting buses idle interminably
Outside my apartment in Little India;
Nearly ask and my laundry room
Window, a thin woman with brown, rotting
Teeth slurpily sucks cocks in the alleyway; George
Bowering angrily writes shitty poems
In rathole that passes for Kelowna;
My downstairs neighbors actually stay
Drunk for weeks on end.  The guy who got
Evicted rather than break
Up with his girlfriend, returns
Every other Friday to sell me
Illegally-caught sockeye
For five bucks a fish.  Virtually worthless
Knowledge continuously washes
Down on me like fire.  It no longer
As much as stings and I miss
That sting in much the same
Manner that I miss the cold
Ocean and all those dank
Mats of stinking cedar needles.

If Floyd showed up, by God,
I would wave away the flies
And buy a fish--the Crown
Be damned.


Sterile weapons, dead and yoked
To a horsey mist of regret:  this poem is a meat.
Missile, one you cannot possibly
Recall--recall, by the way, meaning
That a) you cannot take any of it
Back and b) in a few years, you will
Not remember any of it, even
If you wanted.

Life is a salad of doubt
And fate and as everyone grows old
And misshapen, a whole
Bunch of ruthlessly random
Maladies conspire
To crop the edges away
Until everyone is either content with
Everyone else or too miserable
And too drunk to care.

No amount of arugula is ever
Going to change
Anything.  Frisee avec lardoons is ultimately
Pointless with or
Without Southern Ontario chevre.

Ballcocks and razorblades and
Two young people screwing
Every single chance they get--
If there is more to life than that
You are going to have to work much
Much harder than I did and even if you
Do, you are never going to convince me
That I should care.

Carl James Grindley grew up on an island on Canada's pacific coast but now lives and works in the south Bronx.  His last book of poetry, Lora and The Dark Lady, was published in 2013 by Ravenna Press.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Poem by Paul Tristram

Sherbet Lemons, Pineapple Chunks, Rhubarb & Custard Or Pear Drops

With icy cold teenage fingers
I would pull free
from the front right pocket
of my black school trousers
a corner of a paper sweet bag.
It had been ripped in half
by the mean old shop lady
to penny-pinch by making two.
The paper would be pinkish
and yellowish in places
where the 5 or 6 knobbly objects
inside dimly shone through
the wrapping that was now
stuck and moulded around them.
I would pick off the loose bits
of tobacco and pocket fluff
with my evenly bitten fingernails.
Then I would start the delicate
operation of removing the sweets
from the complicated cluster.
I would eat them one by one
but only after freeing them
completely from their sticky prison.
It was about a mile and a half walk
home from school and I would
often stop in my concentration
and dawdle along busy in my work.
I would still be sucking upon the last
Sherbet Lemons, Pineapple Chunks,
Rhubarb & Custard or Pear Drops
when I finally reached the front door.

Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories, sketches and photography published in many publications around the world, he yearns to tattoo porcelain bridesmaids instead of digging empty graves for innocence at midnight, this too may pass, yet.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Poem by Marianne Szlyk

After the Summer of Young Men in a Hurry

The young men in a hurry played
all that summer in Manhattan,
the once black and white city
ripened beyond lavender into red.

The piano sounded
like storm clouds on the horizon
in a neighborhood
with only fans and open windows.

The high-hat shivered
like the taste of ice chips
about to melt.
The saxophone slipped

into the tightly-packed room
and across rough brick walls
like the last breeze
before September.

Listening to them, you wonder
how they would have sounded
in winter when clouds mean warmth
and storms spawn the steady fall of snow.

Marianne Szlyk is an associate professor of English at Montgomery College and serves as an associate poetry editor at Potomac Review. Her poems have appeared online and in print, most recently in Jellyfish Whispers, churches children and daddies, Poetry Pacific, and Kind of a Hurricane Press' anthology Tic Toc.  She keeps a poetry blog at and hopes that you will consider submitting a poem or two to her "contest":