Alan Catlin

Another Day in Paradise

If Jesus lived now
his mug shot would be 
on the AP wire as the face
of the man who attempted 
to throw a live alligator into
a crowded bar in Florida.
He’d have done something
criminal on the tail end of
a three-day binge like driving
a stolen car into a line of
charity bike racers, taking out
bystanders, competitors and a
utility pole then, undeterred,
backing up for another go around
despite a steaming, leaking radiator,
detached bumpers and caved in
windshield. Deployed air bags 
don’t count.  His stained t-shirt
would have an AK 47 decal,
a slogan like “My rights doesn’t
end where your emotions begin.”
In his next life he would be a
Shotgun Judas with a sawed off,
infiltrating a political rally,
church fundraising event, for
the homeless. His chest tattoo of a
screaming eagle with a US flag
decal in its beak is where the 
service revolver bullets go.

Stephen Jarrell Williams

No Man’s Path
 
Fewer footsteps these last few months
Less trash from a foodless land
Empty backpacks left behind
 
Not a grave mound near
Songs no longer whispering
Behind the far trees lumps of decay and bones
 
Dust covering most of the bent grass
The path a thinning trail
Scavengers’ fur lies in lines from starvation
 
The wind dying
The dimming sun blends into the night moon
Man or woman hasn’t left a dream here
 
Something like smog in the air
The scent of losers everywhere
As a few of us still chase the glories of heaven
 
Birds have not flown high for years
Swirls of feathers lace the treetops
Tiny eyes like pin holes full of sand
 
Ants cover hilltops like dry beads moving
Swarms taking their time
Silent with their billions of mini legs
 
Scent of far cities crumbling
Hum of drums on the skin of earth
Now a nothingness of importance
 
No man’s path from one dead-end to the other
The way is not by foot
But by heart.

Daniel S. Irwin

Tapestry Tightly Woven
 
So is there a ‘how & why’ of it,
A life history writ in failure-ese?
Poor choices or no choices?
Genes, geography, lack of luck?
A tapestry tightly woven in woe.
Is it all down to kismet and fate,
Wholly the will of deranged gods?
The future revealed by moments.
Perhaps, the best is yet to come.
Perhaps not.  But, as ever, we try.
Boldly try in the face of adversity,
Fools driven on by blind ambition.
In essence, is not the very struggle
Just as exalting as the end goal? 
The fight as regal as the crown.
The warrior as revered as the king.
 

Gerard Manogue

burrowed in the rhododendron

burrowed into the rhododendron
the spiked drink gets me 
in a gravitationally bound state
barfing towards sagittarius a*
and rolling in the yellow dandelions
to dodge sun baked syringes where
the crocodiles die in lake mead

good 
great 
fantastic 
marvelous

burrowed into the rhododendron
i throw up big macs and shermsticks 
to a wackadoodle studying calculus 
and the black hole takes its time
forcing my two halves together like
mismatched puzzle pieces 
in a pot of bolied chicory 
the world will end 

bad 
awful
terrible 
horrible

burrowed into the rhododendron
i come out of the other side with eight arms
i come out of the other side wanting to shit 
i come out of the other side talking to 
the seventeenth coming of jesus
a toothless salvadorean man 
who runs a botanica
in south central 

the guy i talked to for five minutes 

11:15pm, christmas, lan kwai fong
i remember stone lions, furious
perched outside the crimson mansions

“i am waiting for my girlfriend” 
said the young man
pointing to the mouth
of the hungry club
hyperventilating 

“she won’t reply to my texts”
“she won’t answer my phone calls”
“she won’t talk to me”
“i’ve left 20 voicemails” 
“i’m going crazy” 

“here, drink this”
i offer my bottle of peach flavored soju
he takes a pull while
russians fight outside 7 eleven 
people crowd the street like doves

“are you sure she’s in there?”
“how do you know?” 
“are you sure?”  
“you want to go in?”

he won’t go in
the cover charge is 200 hkd
i tell him, “love 
is worth more than money”
well aware 
he has neither

John D Robinson

THERE, THEN

I was there when
the light burnt
eyes for the first
time,
when love
was felt,
I was there when
it turned ugly
and vicious 
and compassion
was near death,
when we
had almost
destroyed the
world’s beauty
and natural
resources,
I was there when
we turned
and looked at
each other
and wept
as our children
played games
long dead
in our hearts.




STEPPING

A step away from
victory
heaven
hell
beauty,
a step away from
war
peace
loneliness
 perfection
tranquillity,
a step away from
grace
harmony
failure
murder
fucking
riches
satisfaction
uselessness,
a step away from
hopelessness
genius
beginning,
always
one step,
a step away from
grasping
the preciousness
of this
life 
together.




TAKING AND HOLDING

I knew by taking
her hand
I’d end up in
places I’d rather
not,
but I reached
out anyway:
‘Hold on tightly’
she said with
a smile:
for a decade
or more 
our hands
were intertwined,
our heads
burnt like
roman-candles
and then she
closed her eyes,
forever
and now they
shine behind
mine.


Bruce Mundhenke

Finding Treasure

I used to see sounds,
Hear colors, and feel,
Quite deeply about things
Most folks thought unreal.
In those days I learned things
I never could tell,
Like ecstasy hearing
A robin bird sing,
Or the depths of desire
That a longing could bring,
Or finding an answer
That could never explain,
The caress of the sunlight,
Or the sound of the rain,
Or the feelings that come
From sensing your touch.
So much beauty 
In such a short time,
More here than any
Could see or could know,
And more to be found
Wherever we go.



A Breath Gone By

So your tears were silver,
And your smiles were gold,
And you laughed and cried,
And watched your life unfold,
And the hearing of silence deafened you,
But the silence made you bold,
But before you ever said a word,
You found you had grown old,
By the time you could have spoken,
To tell the tale you knew,
Your will to tell was broken,
And the time came that you flew.

Yuan Changming

I Hate Winds Simply Cuz 
            (for Qi Hong)
 
They are always bullying, preying around 
Wildly & invisibly
Upon the weak on the prairies &
 
   Swooping down on
Every tree trying hard to meditate
 
While trespassing the territory of 
My most private feel & thought 
About everything, or about you alone





(R)e.volution: Scissors of Nature/Nemesis
 
Not really randomly
               But always resolutely 
 
Ready to prune the trees of life
 Plant or animal
 
With one blade as blunt as the human brain
                                                      But the other much sharper than the edge of time 




Self-Semantics: a Bilinguacultural Poem 
 
1/ I vs 我: Denotations
 
The first person singular pronoun, or this very
Writing subject in English is I, an only-letter
Word, standing straight like a pole, always
Capitalized, but in Chinese, it is written with
Lucky seven strokes as 我, with at least 108
Variations, all of which can be the object case
At the same time.
     Originally, it’s formed from
The character 找, meaning ‘pursuing’, with one
Stroke added on the top, which may well stand for
Anything you would like to have, such as money
Power, fame, sex, food, or nothing if you prove
Yourself to be a Buddhist practitioner inside out
 
2/ Human & 人: Connotations 
 
Since I am a direct descendant of Homo Erectus, let me
Stand straight as a human/人, rather than kneel down
 
When two humans walk side by side, why to coerce one
Into obeying the other like a slave fated to follow/从?
 
Since three humans can live together, do we really need
A leader or ruler on top of us all as a group/众?
 
Given all the freedom I was born with, why
Just why cage me within walls like a prisoner/囚? 


Alan Catlin

la vie en rose

In a former life, she imagined
she’d become a rock star like Janis.
An icon with a household name but
Southern Comfort gave her migraines,
beer made her sick as a shit house rat,
and the one time dropping of acid,
made her feel as if her hair was on fire
and her fingers were tongue depressors
that needed to be continually shoved
down her throat. There was a special
place for people like her and it sure
as hell wasn’t Cleveland.

Spent six months in an alien nation
called Catatonia where bread
and water was considered fine dining.
When she finally returned to a place
she once called home, everyone asked her
where she’d been and she replied,
“Bergen Belsen.”
No one disbelieved her.

Rocío Iglesias

the human body is a nightmare 
 She said, “the human body is a nightmare“
and I thought of my body embracing,
laying relaxed on the chair like a ghastly cartoon

The human body is a nightmare
and I thought of my body waking with blood between its legs,
stretching
decaying
I see my ancestors, ghost, and spirits
my body that asks, “how else should I behave—
when I know the body is the home for our shared stories?”

The human body is a nightmare
And I stick my finger in the wound
think of my body swaying like a stuffed animal 
occupying even mundane spaces in the most fascinating ways
the simultaneous disorderly beauty and sublime embarrassment of having a human body

She said, “the human body is a nightmare”
and in that moment I almost believed her
 
 
What I mean when I say that I love you
I want to unfold
like the raft that carried me through the deadliest storm
like your mother’s face
like the everyday mug
I want to unfold and be true before you
when I tell you that I love you
I mean that I love you infinity
I love you like it’s written in the stars
I love you like I can trust that what leaves will come back
like I didn’t meet the God of my seaside city on a dark night and watch all the stars burn out in the sky
like instead I looked up and saw a smoke signal shot into the sky
and it was you and the compass of your hands
I love you like although I am perched on the very edge I do not know how to plummet
I love you despite the prepossessing tragedy that we are given this one life 
and told nothing beyond
I love you like it’s my birthright,
like I wrote you in poems before I met you
I love you like a neither one of us will ever die

Catfish McDaris

Her Taco Tasted Like Rain
 
 
 
Our love making was like a spaghetti
western; good, bad, and ugly
 
Her freckles were devil’s kisses
showering down from purgatory
 
She used to striptease, while a monkey
played viola and the organ grinder did just that
 
Stumbling through time, I wished I’d never
eaten her shit sandwich lies
 
She drove stakes through my
obsidian oblivious soul  
 
Slipping and melting through my fingers
like mawkish snow and raging wind.
 
My cheeks were wet rivers,
tears swimming from Nagasaki
 
My heart imploded and exploded
in the fiery pain of Hiroshima
 
Blood in the salt, lime, and tequila
I know now I should’ve cared more for you.