Sunday, September 30, 2012

Two Poems for John Grochalski

at the vatican

they come in hordes
sweat soaked and stupid
to stare at the blood-soaked opulence
of the vatican
the mammoth dome of st. peter’s
some genuflect
cross themselves in spiritual wonder
stand stupefied
by the audacious
unapologetic grandiosity of the place
while others buy trinkets
of the dead popes
rosary beads and postcards
or angle for a better place
in the long line of the curious
and ignorantly devoted
you can almost smell the death here
the thousands years of oppression and deceit
the millions and millions of people
who traded away the only life that they had
for the anemic promise
of the next one to come
standing in the grand piazza of the vatican
and looking at a stolen obelisk
left over from roman times
i am hit with a wave of nausea
so hard it feels like a religious conversion
i feel i might get sick
right there on the cobblestones
so i hold on to the only solace that i can find
the page in my travel book
that tells me that at one time
this land used to belong to nero
and when he was bored
his minions would murder catholics
to entertain him
and suddenly i feel a whole lot better
standing in this gilded
chinese women on the train to rome
they are the new wealth
and people seem to begrudge them that fact
i guess letting go of an imperial legacy is hard
we should have a sit down
with france and england
ask them how they learned to cope
having to nickel and dime their way
across the twentieth century landscape
i don’t begrudge these women anything
i was born broke and i’ll probably die the same way
a pitiable circumstance fits me like a pair of comfy shoes
i just wish that this pack of banshees
would shut the hell up
just a little bit
stop the chatter and screaming at the landscape
the infantile giggling and barking over the shoes
that they bought in florence
there’s no need for such noise
on a hellishly warm day like this one
talk about han-shan or something else of value
i mean, shit, if you’re going to be the new kings of the world
don’t you think it’s time to start spreading around the cultural clout
instead of dolling out punishments
and making trinkets laced in lead?
ah, but who am i to criticize?
america has been abusing people for hundreds of years now
plus i have a bag full of shit made in china
resting right above me
and sometimes even i’m a slave for a good deal at wal-mart
i’m just angry because my cat is dead
and there are too many americans in italy
carelessly spending the remnants of their legacies
angry because i squandered this trip
hiding in irish bars and hot hotels
i don’t really care if these ladies laugh or chatter
squeal at the tuscan landscape as it pours on by
someone should be happy on this train
it might as well be them
besides i have my ipod with me
a big made in china sticker still stamped on its ass
full of enough music to block out their voices
a shenzhen suicide factory
or anything else as we all ride our way
toward the blazing roman sun.
John Grochalski is the author of The Noose Doesn’t Get Any Looser After You Punch Out (Six Gallery Press 2008), Glass City (Low Ghost Press, 2010), and the forthcoming The Sun Causes Cancer. Grochalski currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, where he constantly worries about the high cost of everything.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Poem by Travis Laurence Naught


Seeing others happy is a terrible booby prize
To the much more desirable making people happy
Which will brighten any do-gooders' day
From the simple recognition
That they have introduced a little positivity into the world.

It is often said that misery loves company,
But selfish purposes are often to blame for misery
So grouchy people have difficulty connecting
Due to simple head butting nature
Like bighorn rams on a cliff side battling.

Truth and parallels in nature are easy to find
Documentaries about the human race
Played out on screen and in books
As long as the individual receiving this information
Dives below the surface, reads between the lines.

Hyenas and vipers carry tattooed grins on their faces
In hopes of fooling careless prey
Using a predatory cover
With a false " how do you do "
Before destroying a life for their own gain.

Herbivores all look depressed though;
Food and abundant herd status come too easily
Leaving them less than content with life
In an endless repeating cycle
Where a fear of death is the only excitement.

Primates search out adventure and experience
Through camaradic outings aimed at fun
Understanding that boredom can be conquered
Given the right set of social circumstance
And a willing leadership.

Each person falls into one of these categories
Provided by evolution,
Not present day Darwinism,
But a cultural shifting of mindset
Focused on goal oriented outcomes.

Travis Laurence Naught is a poet who happens to be a quadriplegic wheelchair user. He earned a bachelor's in psychology from Eastern Washington University in 2005. His first book collection, The Virgin Journals, was released by ASD Publishing in March of the 2012. It received an honorable mention in the biography/autobiography category at the 2012 San Francisco Book Festival and was used as curriculum in a disability studies course at EWUniversity. Other poems by him have been published online at,, and as well as in print in the 2012 Northwest Boulevard and The Easterner, both released by EWU. You can follow his daily update page online at

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Poem by Jeffrey Park

From his place on the kitchen wall
he told me stories through the long
evenings, tales of his adventurous
youth in a faraway land.
Sometimes they made both of us laugh,
but occasionally they brought
a little hitch to his voice and then he
sounded old and tired.
Sitting there in the kitchen last night
I thought of my old friend, but his place
by the cupboard is bare now
even when the mosquitoes are there.
Still, if I close my eyes, sit very quiet
I can almost feel a breeze on my cheek,
can almost hear a soft buzzing
from the far-off kitchens
and garbage cans of Madrid.
Baltimore native Jeffrey Park currently lives in Munich, Germany, where he works at a private secondary school. His latest poems have appeared in Requiem, Deep Tissue, Danse Macabre, Crack the Spine, Right Hand Pointing and elsewhere. More information about the poet and links to all of his published work can be found at

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Poem by Denny E. Marshall

When Pigs Fly

She said she would go
Out with me
When pigs fly
I smiled at the reply
My slight fortune
I live on top
Of "Tornado Alley"
I dream of Kansas
Her and I
On the yellow brick road
On the grass
On the farmyard

Denny E. Marshall lives in the Midwest and has had poetry recently published and rejected.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Two Poems by Christopher Kenneth Hanson

Drank Of Stark Sap

Drink wisp in, gentle ear
And now, drink this 'gain.
Because for your worth, I would struggle
Or for your youth-
In so much as whichever: least valued by thee-
Currently, presumed-
took: a sip, lapping all-
{as cool disfunction}
ergo defeatist mentality-
willow train of time,
And now, you- dear one
Shall bow,
And bow through thy limb of concrete farce
thereof, we shall, only in times of slumber-
fall to whims of stark folly.

In Stuttered Line

Or in belief
as empty a shadow:
through thought-
Liquid livid as cleared
the dead panning laughter in
heaves mentality, of course
what which
buried of course-
that which may have kept Madam
cawing mellifluous tones;
She, whom now claims poetic justice
Above all other sociologists whom fawn over
pre-social network theory,
I left out here,
Such that, there was nothing left sacred to blame.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Poem by Susan Dale

Heartbeat of the World
Within a sleep
of the universal dream
dreaming me
I lean out in the darkness
to hear a heartbeat of the world
Listening wide
straining with sinew and soul
I hear flapping wings
Ah, it is the bird of scripture
The Vikings buried him
Remember, with your being,
he under layers of Arctic ice
Prophesy decreed
that a shrill brass sun
melt and free his wings
to thrash the skies to raw skin winds
Winds to push across
skies, deeply moving
Winds to push clouds
to gallop through the heavens
Wings talk around winds
But what words tell of winds
gasping with the sounds of dead things washing on shore
Ashes - bones
arteries clogged with oil
Oil - the black blood of our destruction
And in the air, a heavy scent of gone
West winds blow vapors cold on leaves, quivering
on trees with thin chests
and branches reach out in search of embrace
Oh, tired earth of heavy-lidded eyes
dusty clouds - weeping waters
of voices deafened by silence
Our words spoken with fingers
forming the telling
of living to die
existing to endure
We have filled
to fall out of ourselves
and so must we swim to the moon
But what will light our way?
Our shadows lengthening and widening
darken the moon
Souls of stars lie bare
The black V of wings beat the sun to shreds
Winds dip and roar
Yet stir up only pale raindrops
In this hollow rain
stands a girl with broken umbrella
She’s trading her memories
for a withered apple in a faded pocket
Her brother sells his poems
a penny apiece
All begin with the line …
life yearns to live
And end …
life is longing for itself
Susan’s poems and fiction are on Eastown Fiction, Tryst 3, Word Salad, Pens On Fire, Ken *Again, Hackwriters, and Penwood Review. In 2007, she won the grand prize for poetry from Oneswan. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Poem by Tiani Kennedy

The Kiss
Wrapped in his butterfly wings, she kneels on the edge of Eden. His voice, gardenias rustling. Tu es la plus belle fille du monde. Her eyes are drunk with Communion. The veins on his wings taste her silken skin as his hands drop anchors at her hips. She begs to be devoured, to whisper to him wishes made on wells. Don’t forget me. He catches her in his lips of Venus traps and they descend onto lilies floating in the valley below. Clawing through clouds, his metamorphosis comes undone. They are spun into a cocoon. Into a lily bulb they burst forth as they dip delicately into the stream amidst walls of teepee mountains. Their petals of yellow and blue bleed into green.

Though born in Jamaica, West Indies, Tiani Kennedy grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y. She is currently pursuing an M.F.A. in Creative Writing at Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus. There, she works as a tutor in the Writing Center and will teach a freshman composition course this coming fall. In addition to writing both fiction and poetry, she is also a studio artist who paints and draws mostly surreal images.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Two Poems by William Wright Harris

dali nude
in contemplation
before the five
regular bodies
into corpuscles
in which suddenly
appears the
leda of leonardo
by the visage of gala
the mood of now
eplodes in instants
in the span of a sneeze or
in the tender vacuum of an orgasm
stains of
resting on sheets
seconds breathing in loud silence
1928 oil on canvas
William Wright Harris wakes up for poetry. His poetry has appeared in twelve countries in such publications as The Cannon’s Mouth, Ascent Aspirations, generations and Write On!!! A student at the University of Tennessee- Knoxville, he has studied poetry in workshop settings. As a hobby, he collects places he has already been published.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Poem by Zach Fechter

Damaged Souls

It is me,
And it traveled hundreds of
Miles to get here,
And here I stand,
Alone on an endless parking lot,
Vast and flat and hot,
Piles of mortar and trash,
The dust flat upon the harsh blackened crust,
Laid dead by the rolling heat.

There are shimmering dancers in the distance
And beads forming on my brow,
Cement trees rising up,
A concrete parting of the Red Sea,
A distant horizon,
A wasteland of brick and stone and glass,
A hot city;
There is no heart here,
There is no love song here.

A radio lies broken

Next to a pile of stone,
Like the kind from modern Athens,
And I hear it
Coughing up the last words of man:
“Oh sweet damaged souls,
Sweet damaged souls,
Hold hands and cry tonight,
So that we may finally have some rain.”

Zach Fechter lives in Southern California and has been published in multiple editions of Poetry Quarterly. He studied accounting at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia. He is 24 years old.

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Poem by Sarah Edwards

Boxed Alive in Trash
I hear vacant tears

small talks
of small things
are not
always forgotten

I do not fly
I do
not hear

Sarah Edwards currently lives in Montreal, Canada. She has poetry/visual poetry published in various online and print journals. She has had 12 books/chapbooks of work published. Her visual poetry can also be found in the Avant Writing Collection at the Ohio State University Rare Books & MSS Library.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Poem by Joe Massingham

The Great Wall of Silence
The first wall kept out invaders
seeking spice, silk and porcelain.
This second wall’s a ring that
keeps people ignorant, compliant,
the old wall’s fortresses replaced
by watchtowers in cyberspace.
Joe Massingham was born in the UK but has lived the second half of his life in Australia.  Major employment has been as a Navy officer, university student from first degree to PhD, tutor, lecturer and Master of Wright College, University of New England, NSW, Australia.  He has run his own writing and editing business but retired early because of cancer and heart problems and now spends time waiting to see medical practitioners, writing poetry and prose and smelling the roses.  He has had work published in Australia, Eire, India, NZ, UK and USA.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Poem by Nina Adel

Reading Brainard 
He jumped up onto
the linoleum surface of
the kitchen counter
which had held, the night before
a knife
chopped things like onions,
the plastic bag
for overnight absorption of
the marinade
and he smoked
a cigarette from a white box
as we talked and drank a
coffee as light
as the strange milkiness I’d seen below
my car as I crossed the Ohio last
time at the border bridge,
the Ohio, habitually blue-green
I told him I’d read
Joe Brainard and now must undertake
to write rememberings
like“I remember being allowed
only sparklers (and I remember only wantingsparklers)” (Brainard 71)
and suddenly the work felt unapproachable and silly he is
shadowed and loping and beautifully wolf-like,
claims he
doesn’t do things silly - but he said
in that voice called ‘dripping
with sarcasm’
“like this, you mean?
I remember
The warm, hot apple pie my grandmother made…”
And I added,
“every Sunday afternoon.” And he said,
“I remember the
warm hug she gave me as she
patted her apron”
and I added,” just before she
handed me the plate of pie topped with vanilla
ice cream from the local
dairy and told me
she loved me, “
so I contributed,
“Dear, sweet Grandma!”
And he said,
“I remember the first time I
a joint,
my very first cheap, sneaky whiskey,
that first bolt of
that snaked its way so deeply
through my teenage body”
and I said, “I
remember the very, very first time I
got the crap beat out of me behind the
nice, big, red-brick school building
where I learned to read those Spot stories”
and he said,
“I remember passing out in an
alley behind
a northside bar with a copy of
Hamlet in my
pocket, and the policeman who
found me and gave me a ride home to
that Apple-Pie Grandma on his
brand spankin’ new official
police department motorcycle”
and I said,
“I remember the clever little stinging poem of
humiliation that all my classmates chanted for me
as I stood up
to wipe away the gravel that
had been ground into my face on the playground
after school when
no adult was around to
appreciate the sonorous and melodic
and he offered,
“I remember the burning scent of the bleach
they used to clean the vomit off
the floor in the public rehab which
I came to know so intimately and familiarly
after six or seven relapses”
And I, needing to offer something now, added,
“I remember being trapped between
the bribing of a snarling dog at a warehouse at the end of a block and
the destructive embarrassment of being found on the doorstep of
a man, young then, like me, who I’d gone to visit and
who drove up in
the van of another woman and was making out
with her like
those were the only two tongues left on the whole goddamned planet
and all I could do was
attempt to crawl out
of the yard before I was discovered,
maybe head down the street to face that
dog till I could hitch a ride
to the relative safety of my college dorm
on the other side of a
town in
New Mexico.“
And he said, “I remember
waking up chafing and sober and aware
that I could never go
back to live with the wife and children
I loved and
had no choice but to accept the life I’d led
which was the only one I had,
which would never be the same,
which I would have to orient somehow
toward some other
beckoning nova”
and I tried to offer something else, but
all I remembered was that
I was never one
to top someone else’s
and later that night,
I remember
in the light of a
candle we’d named Lupe for the Virgin whose picture
had been glued to the side with
some cheap kind of sparkle paint,
a candle
bought between laughter
at the dollar store because
it was better than the alternative
blackberry pie-scented option.
I remember the silent moment after,
the taste of the marinated chicken
eaten quietly together
during the careful
of forgetting.
Nina Adel –writer, singer-songwriter, educator and teaching artist - .was educated at the Berklee College of Music (vocal performance, composition), University of New Mexico (Spanish, English, TESOL) and Belmont University (MA in English/Creative Writing). She received training in aesthetic education from the Leonard Bernstein Center and The Wolf Trap Foundation She has worked as a Spanish-English-Portuguese translator, released three studio-length recordings of original music and founded and directed an arts-based nonprofit community organization. Amongst her recent published works are fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, music, translations and academic articles in the Louisiana Folklife Journal, New Sun Rising, 100 Stories For Haiti, the Tennessean, Belmont Literary Journal, Journal of Postcolonial Cultures and Societies and Poets for Living Water. She lives, teaches and writes in Nashville, Tennessee., where she resides with her two children.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Poem by Adukuri Jagganath Rao

Poetry of the broad daylight

The night we had hung our boots
And wanted to be asked to explain
Nobody asked poetry with mind.

Now is poetry less mind, a mind
Of mere bird calls, a lonely cuckoo
Calling to rain from a leafless twig
Unusually enlarged to our vision
Consequently dissipated in a sky.

Cuckoo went hoarse with no rain .
Freshly wet with poetry less mind,
We went hoarse with construction.
Our poems will go down their throats.
Adukuri Jagannath Rao is a retired banker who lives in Hyderabad,India. His poetry can be found at

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Poem by Joseph DeMarco

Secrets of the Subconscious

Secrets of the Soma

We don't wear our mind on our sleeve
We wear our mind.
Our body is an extension
Of mental characteristics and environmental dynamics,
Like a suit custom-made from our past,
Each scar a sovereign of pain and knowledge,
Each flaw a feeling not forgotten.
"Fat thighs packed with childhood anger,
Baldness from trying to control everything,
Breast problems from refusing to nourish yourself,
Indigestion from gut-level fear, dread, and anxiety,
Halitosis from a rotten attitude."
As we speak, our cells are regenerating,
We are rewiring ourselves
According to what we THINK
The replicated cells are all confused;
They think MONEY is the same thing as WORRY;
The circuits have been crossed;
They think TIME is the same thing as FEAR.
You must synergize your synapses;
They have reconnected all crippled.
They think LOVE is the same thing as DISAPPOINTMENT.
They got all these ideas from patterns in your behavior,
And now like a run away disc drive, these patterns can't be stopped
Rather they are difficult to stop,
Because you can't just change what you do,
You have to change the way you think,
You have to change the way you live
Or suffer your untimely demise.

Secrets of a Small Synapse

It starts when you're young:
The bountiful brainwash,
Careful coloring books,
Rules, regulations, rituals, routines,
Wristwatches and Bedtimes,
Watching time.
"At 6:30 AM We wake up,"
"At 9:00 PM We go to bed."
It doesn't matter if you're tired,
Just Follow,
Don't question
"At 8:00 AM We go to school,"
"At 12:00 PM We eat lunch."
I don't need a clock to tell me
I'm hungry or tired;
I don't need the television
To tell me
What time it is.
The writing seems pretty clear,
The possessive propaganda,
Eat three meals a day,
Five food groups,
Fully functioning Fear
Those that operate outside the box
Are shunned and sequestered,
Denigrated and denied
Gifts suffer and
Dreams deflate,
Dying in the stomach,
Where they grow into something Else.

Secrets of the Psyche

"All learning is remembering
What we have forgotten."
At the blessed birth,
At the dharmatic death,
The elusive Ego,
Not dipping deeply enough
To uncover ultimate understanding.
The original origins,
The destiny of the final destination
Is blocked by biological needs,
The message muted
Sounding like stale static
As harmony brushes by beneath us.
We vaguely feel the familiarity
Like a long lost home
We never knew we had.
Truth teases time,
Testing us,
Knowing the soul is forever,
Telling us
The body will soon expire.
We know ALL
Yet we
Only believe what we want to believe
And our frail bodies will die
Because of the fear that it is an inevitability.

Joseph DeMarco was born in New York City; he grew up in Buffalo, NY. He has taught seventh grade on the island of Oahu, Hawaii for the last ten years. He is the author of the novels Plague of the Invigilare, The 4 Hundred and 20 Assassins of Emir Abdullah-Harazins, At Play in the Killing Fields, Blind Savior, False Prophet, and Vegans Are Tastier. He worked on the restoration of Pu'u Kohola Heiau

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Two Poems by Michael H. Brownstein

the puncture wound in the ceiling
a rupture in the plaster
and the limbs of the house
settles to its bones
every house has tendons,
an outline of flesh,
a foundation rooted to earth.
So it came as a surprise
when the chimney began leaning
and the mortar between bricks
eased away from itself.
Weather beaten, the joints let go,
wood warped into driftwood
stone began its journey into sand
and we watched everything
not comprehending why now,
why this summer, so hot,
the sun unforgiving, never
a breeze, even the well drying up.
It was not a surprise at all.
A spur entered the foundation concrete
and a burr angled itself to a copper pipe.
The door swelled with the heat,
paint chipped in daylight,
and we went to the roof
to begin the healing.


I decided to follow your advice
and chase my missing soul down the track.
Outside the temperature not water into ice cold yet,
but cold enough for a heavy coat, long scarf,
and Scooby Doo gloves you gave me ten Christmas's ago.
You told me stay awake for five nights so I could die
as if an almost week's lack of sleep could kill.
I didn't know your sadness (anger?) took up that much of the mesa.
Already the concrete path echoes through my shoes
and I feel lopsided as if I have suffered a stroke,
but everyone knows stroke victims do not know their disfigurement
until someone points it out to them.
Sadly, I have a lot more to say, a lot more to do,
but not now -- now I walk -- the wind dandruff and stain --
my soul already five nights ahead of me.

Michael H. Brownstein has been widely published throughout the small and literary presses. His work has appeared in The Café Review, American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, Free Lunch, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, and others. In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks includingThe Shooting Gallery (Samidat Press, 1987), Poems from the Body Bag (Ommation Press, 1988), A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004), What Stone Is (Fractal Edge Press, 2005), and I Was a Teacher Once (Ten Page Press, 2011). He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam (2011).

Brownstein taught elementary school in Chicago’s inner city (he is now retired), but he continues to study authentic African instruments, conducts grant-writing workshops for educators, designs websites and records performance and music pieces with grants from the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs, the Oppenheimer Foundation, BP Leadership Grants, and others.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Two Poems by John Grey

To present,
to smile.
to the country church,
its stem spire
to the light
to the shapely shape,
to wear our blood,
tonight's totally naked.
Today I sport a smile.
Today it's too far over the top...
tree hole trucks start up
with truest respect
Trust you
try some of
turns on the
two buildings up
under the bridge,
undoing, just so,
vin rose.
Vive les grues—
wanted to die.
Was an object of
was trees
washed through me
waves goodbye
waves of nausea
we look stupid as a half-door half-open
Where I found
where my father thought he'd take up preaching
while the other hand whispers to me,
white dove appears,
white trash wins another prize.
with its sun across
with my indignity rising
with the germs
within his
womb as I am,
You should come over
You want to
One said the oath,
or just windows,
or martial music melodies
Other said
out of thin air,
out the half-door,
page humbly
pay it anyhow;
predictable habits,
ridicule the price,
Screams the light:
she can find the...
She gave me,
She kneels softly
she sweats,
shining, shot,
silver waters
simultaneously dreamt
stand out in a crowd.
stillness in the last red
stood my fingers
straight-ahead walk,
strapped to street
stuck under my own subconscious...
Such does its
such lessons
Swallow me
take drugs,
the garden of first sips, second chances.
the limit of the dream.
the sum of people
their hooves
this bloom,
this missing
this one tastes
this too shall pass,
Through the angle
Thumping the window pane
to dry -
to lift into the clouds,
to meet here Wednesday.
John Grey has been published recently in the Echolocation, Bryant Literary Review and Caveat Lector with work upcoming in Clark Street Review, GW Review and the Potomac Review

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Poem by Bryan Murphy

Bar Londra
I’ve done it. I’ve made it.
Look at it. This café is all mine!
Tough being an immigrant in London, it was. I can tell you.
Don’t often get a chance.
Margery already knows the details.
MyMargery. Best babe in Brixton,
she truly was.
Saved me from a gang of skinheads. How we met.
Course here it’s different. We don’t really need all these people, got nothing to envy them for, not like Londoners envy us.
Italians do it better!
That lot
have learned: we’re all Europeans now, even them.
This lot,
well, they work bloody hard, when they get a job. If. Like I did over there.
It’s not easy for them either, but there are limits:
our women, our jobs.
This guy,
banging at my door,
I’ve already locked up. Screamin’ blue murder.
Could be San Mercurio,
gotta let him in,
show some Christian compassion.
if our people are after him, he must have done something.
What am I supposed to do, have them
smash my door and windows?
Could be customers among them.
Bloody hell, let Margery decide.
I’ll never hear the last of it.
This land is my place now. “Home”
is somewhere else; far away.
I took that boat, survived, got jobs, a contract, a stay permit.
I’m legal.
I send money back there to my wives and children.
When I’ve learned the language, become a citizen, I hope I can bring them over here.
If they want,
if they’re still alive,
if they remember who I am.
It is all too easy to run foul of drunken louts
ready to attribute the misery of their own lives to someone else’s skin,
to shed your blood to assuage
their own impotence.
Who is this man
who opens his café’s locked door,
offers me tea and safety,
brags about a life in London,
toys with me and rituals of drinking,
is ready to let the louts in on me,
as long as his wife will let him?
He’s a good man, really, my Carlo.
Just forgets himself sometimes.
Always asking for things,
but ready to give as well.
It’s true he had a hard time in London, but not that hard. There was prejudice against Italians, but try being black!
Does like to talk. On and on, if you let him. What an opportunity when that poor man came shouting for shelter. Let him in, sat him down, droned away, drowned him in tea, then threatened to let the mob in to do him.
Asked me to open the door.
Knew I’d never.
They’ve invented phones. I know the police’s number.
He’s a good man, really.

Bryan Murphy is a man of Kent, though he comes from a long line of Irish peasants. He has worked as a fruit-picker, kitchen hand, road-sweeper, bar-tender, wages clerk, teacher of English as a foreign language, translator and copy-editor. He recently retired from a job within the United Nations system, and now concentrates on his own words, as a writer and an actor. He divides his time between, England, Italy and the wider world. A sample of his novella of ideas, Goodbye, Padania, is available here: