Bruce Mundhenke

Oatsy,

Met him in homeroom class
In high school,
He was cooler
Than James Dean,
Even then.
No stranger to drinking
And fighting,
Known to the baddest around,
Loved by the coolest of girls,
And any who called 
Him a friend,
Never a bully,
Not one to start fights,
But if you wronged him,
You’d best make it right.
We drank in bars
All over the county,
We were known quite well
In those days,
We drank tequila 
South of the border,
Smoked pot a lot
And we took several trips,
Explored inner space together,
Laughing in unknown lands,
Survived the excesses of youth,
Like others, we mellowed
With time..
Now we are getting
Kind of long in the tooth,
Still friends,
And both, still alive,
I work with words
And I write...
He works on his Norton bike,
And a 49 Ford
He still drives.

Howie Good

Golgotha
 
You who believe the most astounding lies, 
who shake hands and then greedily sniff 
your fingers, who shrug as the last of the 
old-growth forests succumbs to mass su-
icide, any day now your streets will fill up 
with dancing grannies, and you will smile 
and nod, but when you look in their eyes 
for confirmation, all you will see is Christ 
being murdered over and over and over.

Hunter Hodkinson

Vendetta 


I feed my gluttony 
to the page,
white and bottomless
it takes and takes
and takes;
its favorite meal is
yearning stew
and the big fleshly 
ladles that stir,
turning 
turning
turning
the contents
to a thin 
paint gleam
like the effulgent 
blood of angels.





In Response To Prestigious Literary Journals


I’m sure you 
expect me to sit
patient and crumb 
upon your nine 
month response
to words that weep
from my fingers,
as you take 
your sweet and careful 
time to tell me
no your tears are too sour.
I’m sure you 
expect me to smile 
when I send you money 
I do not have
for an automated 
rejection;
we wish we could 
offer a more personalized
response, but we simply
don’t have the time 
or numbers… 
I also,
magazine,
do not have the money 
for button click heartbreak. 
I don’t have the time 
for your 
no simultaneous submissions policy;
so yes,
I shall continue 
to carpet bomb
every magazine I see,
no matter how 
“rude” it seems.
Like all pain,
mine demands 
to be seen.





Emerging 


Last month
it was Ginsberg who 
uprooted my flowery words
and replanted them
in the spry soil
of famine India. 
Beginning of October 
it was Sylvia 
who beat nails 
of rhythmic craft 
into my paper mâché
soul. 
Now it is Anne 
who’s Sexton stories 
of fifties madness
and feminine isolation 
strangles my stanzas 
like the mellow fists 
of monoxide.

Donna Dallas

Seek Dolphins along the Crest
Miami Beach sucks me in
with tequila
and tits
and I - always so easily enraptured 
duck into a bodega
seek the black door
find a plastic lover 

Get caught in a rainstorm
laugh wildly
run through the sweltering streets
meet my death
it sucked me in

While dying 
in Miami
pulled again through the black door
find solace in the needle
wake to the waves
wonder about dolphins
and if they will disappear
by the spear
or the many propellers
worry in such turmoil
as if this 
is my only problem

Again 
black doorway
run into my death
for the third time 
we become friends
he (death) asks 
why I’ve been a cunt all my life
I
not knowing the answer
reply
just give me more time
to get another hit

The wave 
more immense and glorious
than before
pulls me back to the beach
to see a school of dolphins 
and think this is what
I’ve searched for 
stumble to the shore
under speckles of sunlight
I bathe in it

I see a double rainbow
hovering over the Atlantic 
such vivid stripes
of purple
yellow
blue
red
it arches right into a sailboat bobbing
along the crispness of the sunset 

How lucky to capture this bundle of color
while battling horseflies
in fear of dolphin extinction
I croon
over someone else’s double rainbow
dip greedily into their pot of gold

 
I See What the Drugs Have Done 
I.
Hunch back 
postulating sores
the nagging itch
white jeans
low hung ass
red long sleeves
it’s eighty degrees
wiry hair 	
try to bouffant it 
to take away from your neck
but my eye goes directly to the loose skin
almost see the tracks
ever so light around your collar bone
face more of a hull
less of a face
around your mouth – smokers jaw
those wrinkles crown the lips like an army
when cigarette meets lip the lines craft together
in an origami of wrinkles

II.
Those mid-heeled pumps give you some height
the heels are wrecked and the top lifts
worn down to metal 
when you walk that hard tap echoes
so loud
you just kind of slide into your step
zombie-like
this is what becomes of the life
after drugs
life after paradise

III.
You’re sad about it
about not having “it”
anymore
I’ll start to shoot again you say
if they tell me I’ve got it
cough a deep and guttural phlegm hack
light another
and pucker for that deep 
lung-spray drag
whichever way will kill you best

 
High School Dropout
if I told you in my heart I wanted to go to High School - to finish - to graduate with a diploma and go on to a college, perhaps Ivy League…..if I said this I would be a dead-ass liar as I lay out in the sun on the roof of the old movie theater five of us would climb the fire escape to the top floor we kicked in a window found our way through a storage room to a ladder and out onto the slanted roof with pitch black tarp we smoked angel dust then cigarette after cigarette  we’d lay our dreams across the black someone would have to make the long haul back down to buy some bagels and a Pepsi for us to share our throats dry as sand the sun melted us into each other we could share two bagels between four or five of us we broke them carefully like the bread from the last supper what did we know then but nothing we didn’t have a watch we told time from the sun from the passersby down below we would trudge home guilt ridden glazed eyes to the ground when asked how school was we would croak out a word or two through a rasp next morning we’d meet at the bodega and do it all again
 

Charles Rammelkamp

What’s Love Got to Do with It?
 
Tina wrote her signature hit
at the age of forty-four,
eight years after she’d left
the abusive relationship with Ike,
six after the divorce.
 
My friend Rita tells me
her tits have exploded in middle age,
from the estrogen patches
she’s used since the hysterectomy,
which had caused night sweats.
“I’ve gone up a cup size,” she exults.
 
Recently divorced – likewise
from a bully –
Rita’s in the market for fun,
but doesn’t want a “boyfriend,”
much less a third husband.
It’s just about using her resources
while they last.

Howie Good

Autumn Elegy
 
Rather than reasons for hope, 
we’re given pills of all shapes 
and sizes and colors. Not much 

here can be regarded as natural. 
Fifteen billion trees a year are 
sacrificed to make toilet paper. 
 
The Wampanoag, the tribe that 
helped the Pilgrims survive their 
first Thanksgiving, still regret it 
 
400 years later.

Daniel S. Irwin

A Festival of Belly laughs

Well, here it is again,
A festival of belly laughs.
Ha, ha, ha! It’s the deaf guy.
Big laughs at the voting station.
He’s missin’ every other word.
Holler at the dopey dude.
I should be used to it by now.
But, it still pisses me off.
Lost most of my hearing from
Iraqi artillery fire invading Kuwait,
Crossed the border from the south
Leading the Marines in.  Like the
600, cannons to the right of me,
Cannons to the left…on again, on again.
So now, being nearly totally deaf,
I’m the butt of jokes by the good citizens.
If I came back missing an arm or leg,
It would be, “Aww, poor man.”
I don’t wear the uniform that was
Ripped up by shrapnel that, somehow,
Fortune smiling on me, missed my flesh.
So now, it’s just rude jokes and laughs.
Makes one proud to be an American.

Stephen Jarrell Williams

The Answer
 
I never thought
Doing nothing
Could take so long
 
TV on
Sound off
Blur of news
 
Slump sitting
Silent squinting
Saturday sunset
 
Grunting to get up
From my soft chair
Heading to the front door
 
Hurrying down the stairs
From my smelly apartment
Leaving the door open
 
Halting at the corner
Winded but pretending I’m not
Getting old bends your back
 
But I straighten up
Eyeing the lights of traffic
So many souls trapped
 
Forcing my mouth to open
Screaming
For freedom
 
All the world
Peaked to hear
Understanding perfectly
 
The doom of us
Escalating
Near panic
 
Weeping
Down inside
Hollow chests
 
Crying
Prayer
After prayer
 
And many of us
Deeply feeling
The answer is
 
Coming soon
Feeling it
Feeling now!
 
 
 
The Grip
 
The grip
Has an invisible whip
 
Media
Zip
 
Numbing
Speed
 
Lashing
As we sleep
 
For we have become bloodless
Not knowing how deep the cuts
 
Disturbed and wounded
We fight against ourselves
 
Politics
Cripple us
 
Divide
And conquer us
 
Spinning what’s right
And wrong
 
A few
Thinking they’re little gods
 
Control
Controlling
 
Forgetting
They’re outnumbered.

Emalisa Rose

That poem that won't happen
 
It’s been carried through continents.
Stuck to my side and my psyche,
engraving its stench with its syllables.
 
Cruelly, deleting me, when I try to
recycle its dips dots and scribbles that
ping through insomnia, in all of
those vertical places.
 
Unleashing its verbs, nouns and
adjectives, undangling its participles.
 
It peeks to pop up when I’m grounded
in dialogue’s dribble, wishing for air
and a place to just leave the convenience
store and write it already.
 
The one you can’t slip off the pen, 
forever, in plaguing both you and your
muse, stalling it utero.
 
Your masterpiece poem, that won’t happen.

Noel Negele

I pity the un-betrayed


When I was a small boy
I was a shy boy,
but I was blonde and cute 
and other little girls liked me.

It was like this up until high school.
There was no abuse other than alcohol
back in those days.
But girls, girls liked me.

I was very conceited as a young man
so you can imagine 
how much I DIDNT get laid
when opportunities were offered 
left and right.

I was up there in my head.
Not a good place to be. 
Not in such frequency.

Finally, I was betrayed by a girl
and my best friend at the time.

I remember it feeling 
as if someone was knifing me
from within
but the blade never reached 
skin surface 
so the injury was never apparent to anyone but me.
No one understand the gravity of hurt.

It’s in the eyes, 
in that dour look on a man’s face
that hides anger and bitterness
It’s the eyes of the man 
who’s survived 
and is cautious of the battlefield now.

Betrayal.
The mother
of all
lessons.

I pity the people 
who haven’t been betrayed yet,
at least once.

Because
there’s betrayal everywhere
and from everyone.
Behind every corner
or sly smile or
half-convincing promises —
It lurks behind 
every love story 
ready to ruin itself.
There’s betrayal in your fucking
telemarketers at night.

I pity the unbetrayed.
For theirs betrayal
will echo louder
and hurt more
than the rest of us.

We already know.