Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Three Poems by Ken L. Jones

Who Can Shrink to the Size of?

Twilight is a shadow box
The winter wind stares at me with a cat's eyes
Wile I watch a Bela serial movie
That I got complete at the 99 Cent store for a buck
The rain wants to happen so bad
In awhile I will watch The Time Machine
For the first time since Rod Taylor died
Which will no doubt make me sad
On this morning not yet born
Which will soon disappear in a whirlwind of poems
As if they were their own kind of storm.

I Don't Remember the Sad Songs

Oh the nocturne of the rain is as uncharted as a full length mirror
That leads us to burnt red pastures that elongate out like stroboscopes
Past the Lost Dutchman skylines where a ladder made of moonlight
Becomes a wandering ballet in the rainfall of my memory.

Iowa Ghost Man

The night sky is full of dreams
Sculpted by the slow motion of fruit
That is ripening in the canyons of the Milky Way
And everything is shivering in oceans of ice cream trucks
With all the music of a summer's day
Vibrating across the sunlight's antenna.

For the past thirty-five years Ken L. Jones has been a professionally published author who has done everything from writing Donald Duck Comic books to creating things for Freddy Krueger to say in some of his movies.  In the last six years he has concentrated on his lifelong ambition of becoming a published poet and he has published widely in all genres of that discipline in books, online, in chapbooks and in several solo collections of poetry.  

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Three Poems by Sharon Reddick

Scratch and Peck Life

I am a morsel grabber:
the hen who pecks the ground,
the dog underfoot at dinnertime,
the crawling baby reaching
for the lint she puts in her mouth.

I grab every morsel you toss my way
to make my meals.  Sometimes I go
hungry for a very long time.

A glance in a parking lot feeds me for weeks.
A note, months.
The last scrap, your boring
green-eyed gaze across a table,
your self-conscious grin,
could last another thirty years if necessary.
I'll chew it like a tasteless cud.
Cotton mouthed,
I'll stroke it like a lovey,
take it to my grave,
gray and threadbare,
some hopeless relic
I clutch instead of you.

Picture of a Boy-Man, 1982

My heart prances in its narrow stall
To see him slouched against a carrel wall:
One eyebrow raised over stabbing blue;
His fingers, idle on the guitar, loosely
Wait for his direction.
A chord, then music, all of him
Sure and ready for what comes next
When iron-on Dylan seems to murmur from his chest:
You can't be wise and in love at the same time,
Chaos is a friend of mine.

The Right Words in the Right Order

I have to believe they're out there somewhere.
That they can find each other and organize themselves into
what I've been trying to say.
But so far, no.
So far language is only

Words continue to bounce around
                  black, and blue, or red
                  Ariel, Times New Roman, Garamond,
settling into coherence
only briefly
then uncombining, self-destructing.

I swat at them.
I chase after them
try to step on them and pin them down
like sheets from a scattered folder on a windy day.
                  But a breeze pushes them out ahead of me
                  Or they drift off just out of grasp,
                  slip through my fingers and disappear.

Sharon Reddick practices law in Tennessee.  She has been an invited reader at poetry events in and around Nashville, where she lives with her husband, son, and a dog who thinks he's a cat.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Poem by Nina Bennett

Returning Your Granddaughter From Weekend Visitation

Head west on route 273, past the pond
where you skated in junior high.
Drive past Nutter's store,  You
rode your bike there on lazy summer days,
bought a popsicle, sped back down the hill,
hair flying out behind you, sticky cherry
slush on your cheek like blush.
Cross the state line into Maryland, drive
through horse country.  Past Fair Hill, where
your father took you to the Scottish Highland games.
Up and down hills, hope you don't get behind
a slow pickup.  Don't look at the Inn
where your parents hosted a luncheon
after your second wedding.

Wesley's will be on your left.  You had
a steak there, with your first husband,
the night before your son was born.
The package store just sold a winning
128 million dollar Powerball ticket.
You drive this way eight times each month
and never stop.
Creep through Rising Sun, home of the KKK.
Navigate the roundabout before 273 curves
to an end, turn left onto route 1.
Speed past a shabby bar, wood siding faded,
battered motorcycles lined up by the door.
Ease across the Conowingo Dam, fingers clenching
the wheel.  Floor it up a steep incline, pull
into the parking lot of the Harley dealer.
As you hug her, smell the crisp apple scent
of the shampoo you used on her hair this morning.
Your bathroom will smell like fruit salad
for days.  Take the Tinkerbell backpack from your trunk,
hand it to her stepfather, thank him
for meeting you halfway.  Pull away first,
so you don't have to watch her leave.

Delaware native Nina Bennett is the author of Sound Effects (Broadkill Press Key Poetry Series chapbook #4).  Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies such as Kansas City Voices, Big River Poetry Review, Shark Reef, Bryant Literary Review, Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine, Philadelphia Stories, and The Broadkill Review.  Nina was a 2012 Best of the Net nominee.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Poem by Hillary Lyon

Boredom of the Beautiful Hour

the wet kiss of a breeze arousing the curtains
the sun stretches out across the hardwood floor
like a silky-haired dog lazing
the blue butterfly flowers in the empty wine bottle
the melody in D minor from another room
after awhile the beautiful hour

begins to pall
and you want the pictures on the shelf
to fall out of their frames
your glasses to crack prismatic
the veins in your wrists to shoot up
ropes for climbing shear cliff walls

you want charity to hang like veins
in your jungle within reach if you fall
you want stars to flutter through the night like moths
drawn to the only porch light
for miles the only sign of life
in your darkening world

Hillary Lyon is founder of an editor for the small poetry house, Subsynchronous Press.  Her work has appeared in EOAGH, Shadow Train, Eternal Haunted Summer, Red River Review, Red Fez and Shot Glass Journal, among others.  She lives in southern Arizona.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Poem by Sarah Thursday

To Hello Kitty from My Little Pony at WE Labs

It's Christmas outside, green/red lines stretch out like a cat at noon.
I am galloping in the stars, cutting holes in the sky like crescent
moons.  But it's almost morning and I need a place to rest, be quiet
and color my pages in rainbows, like silver trees in purple lakes.
Hey, Kitty, did you get over your grudge?  Green/red eyes you keep
blinking at me.  I'm not listening to it anymore.  I'm choosing to
throw my reins out the window and not look back.  I can bring you
back flowers from windowsills stolen from dreams of honeycombs
and lucky charms and horseshoes (yes, I get the irony.  I always get
the irony, it's what I do).  So are you in or out?

Sarah Thursday calls Long Beach, California, her home, where she advocates for local poets and poetry events.  She runs a Long Beach-focused poetry website called CadenceCollective.net, co-hosts a monthly reading, and just started Sadie Girl Press.  In addition, she co-founded Lucid Moose Lit, a small press focused on social justice issues, with Nancy Lynee Woo.  Her first full-length poetry collection, Aall the Tiny Anchors, is available now.  Find and follow her on SarahThursday.com, Facebook, or Twitter.

Friday, April 17, 2015

A Poem by Jason D. DeHart

Child of the Rebellion

a poster loaded with anachronism,
cry of the hawks,
a young person with fresh complexion,
gun thrown over the shoulder.
I grew up with guns, rifles like artwork,
watching the men clean barrels
with long, strange brushes.
I do not listen to their hollow metallic
sounds now.
I barely notice the flag over the child's
shoulder, but I do make mention
that the clothing is pristine, not yet
stained with fear or age or wisdom.

Jason D. DeHart is the author of the blog, jasondehartjustliving.blogspot.com.  His writing has appeared in a variety of publications.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Poem by Judith Skillman

Below the Snow Line

The maid wields her duster.  She
Wears the apron you love to watch,
The one that bares her thighs.
She is meticulous, and young--too young
For such difficult work:  keeping
Each and every flake of snow from the needles
Of trees called Evergreen.  She smells
Of Paper whites, calls out your name
In a husky, Aussie accent--are you home?
Have you arrived back from the office,
Mission, dock, island, market where you
Picked up a crusty bread and a bottle of white,
Some cheese aged perfectly, the texture
Encaustic as if Brie were hot wax and we
Could bite into our portion of the painting,
Savor a glazed light.

Judith Skillman's new book is Angles of Separation, Glass Lyre Press 2014.  Her work has appeared in Tampa Review, Cimarron Review, Tar River Poetry, Prairie Schooner, FIELD, Seneca Review, The Iowa Review, Southern Review, Poetry, New Poets of the American West, and other journals and anthologies.  Skillman is the recipient of grants from the Academy of American Poets, Washington State Arts Commission, and King County Arts Commission.  She has taught at City University, Richard Hugo House, Yellow Wood Academy, and elsewhere.  Visit www.judithskillman.com

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Two Poems by John Grochalski

holding my wife after another bad night

i wish i could remember
what we'd been arguing about the night before

there'd been so much lately
loud neighbors and lights being left on
medical bills and inches of dust on countertops

things we shouldn't been have been arguing about
in the first place

cancer and mammograms
and federal jury summons
coming on the first day of vacation

it seems the arguments happen like magic

a bottle or two of wine and neil young on the couch
then poof we're going at each other's throats

another good night turned to shit

this morning
i'm holding my wife in bed
after another bad night between us

rubbing her stomach as we let the tears come

in between apologies
i'm searching in the dark for answers
but i'm only getting snippets

defiant pulls on wine
the sound of her feet stomping across corroded wood

idle threats
that sound like promises that should be kept

it's true that we do more damage
to the ones that we love

i wouldn't be caught dead talking to strangers
the way that i've talked to my poor wife

sometimes love
gives you the license to be a complete bastard
when it should put you at your most cautious

love is funny that way

still i wish i could remember what it was
that set it off last night

then this morning i'd have a better frame of reference
for the soothing words that i'm saying

for the tears she's streaking down the bedspread

just some inkling of what went down
so that we can begin to forgive and forget

get out of bed
make coffee or make love

get on with this business of living
for better or for worse.


telly kept all kinds
of fast food bags in the office

he had the bags full of free trinkets
that he got at trade shows and other events

one of them held several hundred pens in it
although the bags still held the odor of food

the office smelled of rancid meat
and french fry grease whenever telly was there

in the spring the fast food bags attracted ants

some days there were just a few
but on most a line of thousands of ants

some days there were just a few
but on most a line of thousands of ants
went single file behind computer stands and desks
to reach the fast food bags on telly's side

instead of doing my job
i'd watch the ants scale the height of a bag

they looked like mountain climbers working in tandem

then they'd fall of the edge into the bag
as if committing a mass suicide into a volcano

there were many days where i had to take a broom
and get rid of hundreds of the ants

i felt like a grand executioner
killing entire colonies in one sweep

i knew i'd never be a buddhist doing this business

i felt for the ants
they were only doing what came naturally to them

at my worst
i'd have to take several
fast food bags and squash them

to the ants i imagined
it was like a bomb going off
one second fast food bliss
the other second mass annihilation

by the time telly came to work
both the bags and the ants were gone

he'd put his things down and then circle around his desk
looking at all of that negative space

where are my fast food bags?
he'd ask me, in that lispy way of his

but i'd just shrug and turn back to my computer

or i'd get up and go to the bathroom
to stare at my sinister self in the mirror

a mass murderer if ever there was one

before turning on the hot, brown water
trying my best to wipe the blood from my hands.

John Grochalski is the author of The Noose Doesn't Get Any Looser After You Punch Out (Six Callery Press, 2008), Glass City (Low Ghost Press, 2010), In the Year of Everything Dying (Camel Saloon, 2012), the novel, The Librarian (Six Gallery Press, 2013), and the forthcoming collection of poetry, Starting with the Last Name Grochalski (Coleridge Street, 2014).  Grochalski currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, where he constantly worries about the high cost of everything.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Poem by Pattie Palmer-Baker

Color Lesson

I am brown --
tree trunks
gold leaves curling into brown death
a sixty five million year old dinosaur
caught in a desert bronzed grave
brown teeth snarl-frozen.

I am white --
piled clouds
frosted maple leaves
yellow-drained winter sunlight
a dying mother's hair white-
whorled on her neck.
I am the clarity in the eye
of a sixty five million carat diamond
where the mother curls
around the salt-sculptured father.

I am black --
sightless sky
rain-slicked slate
panther foot falls
coal glittering on buckled rock walls.
I am the black hole sucking in
and sixty five million shades in between
even the color of death
cannot escape.

Over the years of exhibiting her work, a combination of her poetry in calligraphic form and collages of paste paper, Pattie Palmer-Baker discovered (to her delight and surprise!) that most people, despite what they may believe, do like poetry, and in fact many like poetry better than visual art.  She now concentrates on poetry.  She still creates artwork but not as often.  She finds poetry is more engaging.  She loves words.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Poem by Mercedes Webb-Pullman

Tane, Tu and Rongo

Ignore the Water Maiden
gnawing at corpses.  For her it's always
clouds or stars.  She thinks
her grandfather invented the world,
something to do with forestry.
His old friends still live out west;
one a paid albino assassin, the other
a cross-dressing macrobiotic
moon-planting earth-mother
who grows great dope.
If monsters walk out
of the waves and sing,
don't listen.  Weapons are
everywhere.  Her aunts
are into birds because
of all the trees, sixty-three
generations of light canoes.
The Water Maiden has no idea
her grandfather is a hero.
To some, he's the sun.
She thinks he's a horny
old has-been.

Mercedes Webb-Pullman graduated from IIML Victoria University Wellington with MA in Creative Writing in 2011.  Her poems and the odd short story have appeared online, in print and in her books Food 4 Thought, Numeralla Dreaming, After the Danse, Ono, Looking for Kerouac, Tasseography, Bravo Charlie Foxtrot and Collected Poems 2008-2014.  She lives on the Kapiti Coast, New Zealand.  www.benchpress.co.nz

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A Poem by henry 7. reneau, jr.

breath of fire

for breanne sparta

its nucleus seething
ambition in chains
because living landscapes
constantly shift & earthquake
are just the truth of us
as once
we had all been flesh together

hunters & gatherers
now epithelium
in eruption more than mute perishing
a film of stratified cuboidal strength
that once lined
the inner & outer surfaces of us
contrived a conjugated dream of freedom
marking time in an expanding universe

we could never
get far enough away from ourselves
to see all the parts at once
the whole the sum of
stardust pinpoints of life
a fevered galaxy of tight
pavement-like cells
awakened from a stasis of dispossessed &
shouts their free will:
it is us!
           it is us all along!

connexin-ed together:
the surging omen
of water gathering force
the susurrus sound of wind
between silence &
the metamorphosis of becoming
gale force hurricane
its presence in a different sense
or at least
on a different plane of be-ing
wholly the Al Green color
of nothing except elemental

henry 7. reneau, jr. writes words in fire to wake the world ablaze:  free verse illuminated by courage that empathizes with all the awful moments, launching a freight train warning that blazes from the heart, like a chambered bullet exploding inadvertently.  His poetry collection, freedomland blues (Transcendent Zero Press, 2014), was released in September of 2014.  He also has an echapbook, entitled physiography of the fittest (Kind of a Hurricane Press), which was released in December of 2014.  Additionally, he has also self-published a chapbook entitled 13hirteen Levels of Resistence, and is currently working on a book of connected short stories.