Sunday, May 29, 2016

Three Poems by A.J. Huffman

I Dream in Submission

to whatever monster my mind has
created.  Always a victim, I
cower in corners, shadows, in attempt
to escape manifestations
of yesterday.  Today and tomorrow
have not hatched yet, but will
join the hunt soon enough.
Their fangs, dripping with potential
failures, are honed to keep me

screaming for dawn.

Sleepless Eyes

hang like shutters of blindness.  Upstairs
becomes a directional house of unhappiness.  Fear
punches like wind against the fabric of being. 
Sunlight is the enemy, as is its sister,
the moon.  I howl at emptiness,
ticking like that bastard clock.  I envy
its hiding.  In shadows,
I crawl on unfeeling knees,
pray for numbness or death
to claim me.  I am willing
victim or bride.


            after Ascent of the Spirit by Vladamir Kush

Icarus’ wings were paper, not wax.
Made of wishing words and whispered taboos,
he drug them to the end
of a world he did not belong to. 
Wrapping them in noose-like knots to his hands,
he swung outward and upward, praying
for a dream to carry him.  His eyes
closed for a moment of utopian bliss
before he felt the fire of failing. 
Luckily, the doctors told his father,
his heart gave out long before he hit the ground.

A.J. Huffman has published twelve solo chapbooks and one joint chapbook through various small presses.  Her new poetry collections, Another Blood Jet (Eldritch Press), A Few Bullets Short of Home (mgv2>publishing), Butchery of the Innocent (Scars Publications), Degeneration (Pink Girl Ink) and A Bizarre Burning of Bees (Transcendent Zero Press) are now available from their respective publishers and  She is a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a two-time Best of Net nominee, and has published over 2400 poems in various national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, Bone Orchard, EgoPHobia, and Kritya.  She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Three Poems by Jeff Grimshaw


It was the golden age of swamp gas
There was "Green Onions" on the tape machine
There were dirty white socks
Tied in bows up and down the tent pole
For no reason at all
Bix paid me five dollars to buzz an Iron Cross in his hair,
Another five to call him Bix,
At the other end of the tent a little kid
Drew Martians on the empty McDonalds bag,
A big kid read Rosemary's Baby, and a
Crazy kid said What if the hippies dumped
LSD in the reservoir?
Would we even know we'd gone crazy?
We would know you were a moron said Bix
Let's talk about cattle mutilations
Hey you didn't buzz
The back of my neck

I'm not your barber I said
But if I had some silver paint
I could paint your iron cross silver.

When the revolution comes
Said the kid reading Rosemary's Baby
You two bastards will be
The first ones we put up against the wall

Because it was 1968
And people said that,
Evan at Boy Scout Camp

Sunday Morning Suggestions

First thing you gotta do is ear plugs
They won't block out everything you wanna block out
But they'll let you hear your own blood
Swishing around your head & it's good to hear sometimes
They make the air coming in & out your nose
Sound important too & remind you don't breathe thru your mouth

Eat something you left out on the kitchen counter last night
Or on the arm of the couch on a paper plate
Sunday morning you don't wanna be frying things up
Unless you got a girl there
Smiling, walking around in your tshirt
which not to rub it in or nothing you probably don't
Pot of coffee is okay if you need coffee to keep your head smooth

Now do the dishes, all of them, when you finish
Scrub the sink down too & open a window if it's sunny
Rinse off the sides of the sink, the last suds
Going down the drain make you feel like a sunflower tilting up to the sun
If not call a doctor you are sick

Check some crazy person's twitter feed while you drink a cup of coffee
Not too crazy, like Yoko Ono crazy
Put in as much milk as you want, don't be intimidated by people
Who call you a sad little girl if you don't drink
Your coffee black, the hell with them,
It is okay to take out the earplugs now

Think about a song you want to hear walking down the street
Then hear it when you go walking down the street
Remember you probably want to hear some songs when it rains
That you don't want to hear when it doesn't rain & vice versa

Check for milk crates in the alley next to the dry cleaner
People throw out milk crates on Saturday night
I don't know why, you can never have enough of them

Tick off the smells you pass through on the way home
Fried eggs coffee gasoline
Melted plastic
What was that all about??
Coffee (again) sawdust incense
Yeah the yoga girl's open window smells like incense
On Sunday morning wow

Mourn the state of Sunday comics pages
Do not be snotty about the music boiling out
Of the Christian church with the hand printed sign
Anticipate your second cup of coffee with pleasure
Call your sister
Draw a picture of a porcupine or
Something like that wearing pants &
Waving hello

Never mind why, just do it
It will make you feel better
I know what I'm talking about

Highway 71

12 days on the road with someone else's eyes
& nothing ever seen on earth in the side view mirror
Ever since I found the word "gelatinous" scrawled
On a scrap of paper in the glove box.

The meaning is obscure but not the chocolate kiss
In the dimple of the bucket seat beside me.  See, the moon
In the mirror is not the moon I like to see in the mirror.
I have ignored too many butterflies, I have

Removed too much copper from the basement next door.
Surely I have stepped over the line, or snorfled it up.
It is one lunar landscape after another outside my window and
The mirror shows me a cryptic palimpsest.  Jesus

Christ, who talks like that?  I guess me.  Let's talk about
They eyeballs in my shirt pocket & their incredible journey
Which is far from over.  Let's talk about the statute of
Limitations.  Or is it too late for talk?  There are

Two moons over the mountain and nothing on the radio
That I couldn't dance to, if I felt like dancing.

Jeff Grimshaw has had poems and stories published (among other places) in New York Quarterly, Asimov's SF, and Chiron Review.  He's the co-writer of the screenplay for Michel Gondry's movie The We & The I (2013).  Chapbooks include Lazy Boy v. Crazy Girl (2007) and the upcoming Wallace Beery Wrestling Dream.  He generally makes his living as a baker, and lives in Milford, NJ.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Three poems by Tom Montag

The Immense

wind and sky,
stars through

the trees.
The night's

What I seek,
what I haven't
found yet,

it's there
and I'm still

This is
not the end
of anything.

If Not This Light

If not this light,
December wind

winding its way
to morning,

the birds resting
on the promise of

warmth, the grass
still green beneath

blue-green sky.
We have never

been here before,
exactly.  The heart

is ripe with
the fullness of

things.  This is what
love looks like.

The Curtain

I have seen the red
curtain shimmering,
almost dream-like.

What's the other
side of it, I don't know--
dream, or death, or

fierce remembering.
I hear my father
calling.  "Boys," he says,

"time for chores."  It is
not time for chores.  My
father is dead.  The farm

belongs to someone
else.  He calls out
from the other side.

Wind shakes the curtain
between us.  Day dawns,
glowing.  The things

I love are moving
in this soft shine of
morning.  Of hope

greater than death.
"Father,"  I say,
"the chores are done."

Tom Montag is most recently the author of In This Place:  Selected Poems 1982-2013.  He is a contributing writer at Verse-Virtual.  In 2015, he was the featured poet at Atticus Review (April) and Contemporary American Voices (August) and at year's end received Pushcart Prize nominations from Provo Canyon Review and Blue Heron Review.  Other poems will be found at Hamilton Stone Review, The Homestead Review, Little Patuxent Review, Mud Season Review, Poetry Quarterly, Third Wednesday, and elsewhere.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Poem by Carole Mertz

In Defense of the Catkin

For a new dictionary
they took away such words
as cowslip, newt, and bluebell
to make space for cut-and-paste,

chatroom, and bullet-point.
PC elements favored
over Nature's own--
how dare they?

A poet might offer these words
for wet places
near rivers:  allan, eyot, haft,
feorainn, halh and holm.

To write of nature we need
Nature's own vocabulary.
In my dictionary feorainn
is lacking, but fern seed is there,
holm is there, and hollyhock too.

But "river" words are all too few
with space reserved for halogen,
anodize, and such.  Without
broadband, I-cloud and block-graph
we'd manage,

but how would we describe
real clouds, the garden, and rivers flowing?
Against this corruption if we listen, we'll hear
Nature talking back.

(Long live Macfarlane, Lopez, Thoreau,
Muir, Stafford and Stevens!)

Poems by Carole Mertz appeared in Every Day Poems, Indiana Voice Journal, Lutheran Digest, Page & Spine, Rockford Review, WPWT, WestWard Quarterly, and in various anthologies.  Her poems placed  first in several of Wilda Morris' Poetry Challenges.  Her poetry reviews are printed in Arc Poetry Magazine, Ascent Aspirations, Copperfield Review, CutBank, Mom Egg Review, and World Literature Today.  Carole enjoys teaching piano to young children.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Poem by Carol Amato

Man Walking, in Spring, 
Singing, With Umbrella

A sweet vibrato.
Stone-gray sky.
A shrouded sun deciding
perhaps to dim its
conflagrations to watch
other giant stars collapsing
dramatically onto themselves
into black holes

those wormy tunnels
like Alice's tailspin
fury-swirling to multiverses
and the point of singularity
in which all physical worlds
    cease to exist.

the unpredictable;
the dark energy.
Man, walking, singing, with umbrella.

Carol Amato's poetry has appeared in several magazines and journals, most currently:  Avocet, A Journal of Nature Poetry, Blue Line Journal, the Chaffin Journal, The Aurorean, Jellyfish Whispers, Poem, Storm Cycle 2014 (Kind of a Hurricane Press); Prey Tell:  A Collection of Raptor Poetry, Pudding Magazine, Owl Moon, A Raptor Anthology, and others.  One of her goals is to express the interconnectedness between humans and nature and to explore the mysteries we share.  While her first love is poetry, she is also the author of several nature-based children's books and is a natural science educator in the greater Boston area.  Her 'Let's Find Out' program carries her across the state in pursuit of the wonder of children!

Friday, May 20, 2016

A Poem by John Sierpinski

These Boots

I found the boots in the back of my closet,
again.  Rich black leather, up to nearly

my knees.  Sturdy zippers had been installed
in the sides, long ago.  New heels, twice,

and soles, once since.  I recall the Saturday
afternoon they were given to me.  I can't

remember the guy's name.  He had wild
brown hair that matched his eyes, a bushy

mustache, tight black T-shirt.  We had just
finished moving another guy I worked

with at Papermate in Santa Monica.  "Here,
take these," he had said, pulling the boots

off.  "They're almost brand new."  He slipped
on a pair of sneakers.  "Nah, I can't do that,"

I said.  "No, go on.  Try them on.  I just had
the zippers put in."  He rode a Harley, they

were biker boots, shiny leather.  I sat down.
After sliding off my tennis shoes, I pulled

on the boots.  "Whoa man, they fit like . . .
Like a . . . "  We were passing around a pipe

and a bottle of beer.  "Like a tight you know
what," he interjected.  "Yeah, well, something

like that."  I was thinking of a better word
for glove.  "How much?"  "Nothing, man."

The sun had that California, Saturday-afternoon
bend.  Somebody else opened more cold beers.

Pete, the guy we helped, rearranged his things
in the small Venice apartment.  There was

the salty smell of the ocean and sand mixed
with the sweet odor of pot, the harshness

of car exhaust.  The stereo suddenly cranked.
the Moody Blues, "Threshold of a Dream."  I

had to get back to the cottages, my toddler,
the wife, but I also had to linger.  Today,

I hold the two boots up with one hand.  I know
they still fit.  I've worn them on rare occasions.

My toddler daughter is married with children
of her own.  My wife is remarried, to a minister.

I drop the heavy boots in the back of the closet.
I'll wear them one more time.  In a manner

of speaking, I'm wearing them, right now.

John Sierpinski has published poetry in over fifty literary magazines and two anthologies.  He studied poetry at the Vest Conservatory for Writers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2013.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Poem by Joe Krausman

The Light Bulb Died

He tried to dial the bulb man,
the phone died.
He went to his car,
the battery died.
His wife fried eggs,
she died.
He ate his hamburger,
the burger was dead.
The refrigerator croaked,
the buttermilk died.
He opened his wallet,
the wallet was empty.
Goldfish expired
in the water.
The water died.
The firing squads
killed thousands.
The squads died,
the bullets died.
A star went out,
a man died.
The funeral was arranged
by the will be dead.
The cemetery died.
The dead died,
from the dust
a bud bloomed.

Joe Krausman was the MCA Fellow in Playwriting at Smith College.  He has an MFA in Fiction writing from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, where he held the Massachusetts Fiction Writing Fellowship.  He has taught ag Grinnell College in Iowa and the University of Massachusetts.  In 2015 his poem Shipwreck, won second prizein the Raynes Prize contest.  It was selected from hundreds of poems.  He was a finalist in the contest in 2013 and 2014.