John Grey

IN CARNIVAL

 

The city went everywhere I did.

It was not about to end on my account.

There were mountains sure

but far in the distance

and painted I expect.

 

It’s enough to make a man

throw up his flag in horror,

while swearing fidelity to another race.

No, make that sweating fidelity.

 

I saw the new century arrive

while marking pages in a book,

amused, amazed., by my own handwriting.

 

Fireworks, raucous sulfur,

a float reached six thousand feet –

mambo, samba,

nothing was invisible

but everything needed fire

to not be dark —

a man danced right by me

in his dead father’s only suit

down the streets of the village

and a woman in a tutti-frutti hat

reddened my brow with lipstick.

 

Something deeper was required

but everybody was too consumed by carnival

to leave the surface.

I was peppered with flame and homesickness.

 

Not knowing the local dialect,

no one had ears for me.

Even at a parade’s sincerest moments,

the truths could not take over.

 

Just sensual and loud,

the easy road to destination.

 

Ian Copestick

A Big, Fat Hit

I haven’t had a drug habit
For nearly 20 years, and for
All of that time it’s never really
Bothered me. But, just lately
In the last couple of weeks
I’ve been having cravings,
Psychological cravings. O.K.
So, I’m tense, I’m stressed. My
Shoulders are full of knots. If
I wake at six in the morning,
That’s it, I’m awake. As soon as
I’m conscious, that’s it, I’m
Stressed. So many things in My life are going wrong at the
Same time. So,  yes sometimes
I crave a big, fat hit of smack.
To make me not feel, to make
Me not fear.
Of course, I’d never want to get
A habit back.
Just something to numb me,
So I don’t crack.

 

Anthony Dirk Ray

Fairhope Pier

 

it was a humid end of December day

gray and dreary tones abound

clouds thick with sunshine peeking through

parting the floating cotton

 

shrubs and trees

greener than green

absorbing life they’d been without

 

no breeze to disturb the water

which lay flat and motionless

so still

 

every color of rose

available to the eye

their fragrance in the air

 

the long pier seemed to disappear into the fog

 

boats lined up like soldiers

awaiting their next deployment

 

latino men on the bench

speaking spanish I assume

 

young couples fishing

old couples walking

 

I was walking

 

then at the end

which seemed

the middle of the bay

 

fish jumping

birds flying

 

me in awe

 

seagulls prancing in front of me

on the old weathered cracked wood

 

pelicans seemingly diving to their death

only to retrieve a morsel of heart pumping goodness

 

my girl recalls a story about pelican deaths

 

they go blind and die

 

the constant smashing onto

the top of the water

causes them to go blind

and starve to death

 

I replied

 

save the pelicans

 

invest in tiny goggles

 

 

 

 

Birthday 2005

 

I went to a parade downtown

saw floats, saw tits, saw drunks

drove to my folk’s rental in spanish fort

my mom, taking tequila shots

my dad, working shift work at the mill

a great meal offered and ingested

a great day

I thought

“is it hot in here?” my mother asked

“not to me,” I replied

as I searched for drum and bass ringtones

for my new phone just purchased for me

“I’m having trouble breathing,” she said

time is of the essence I thought

I called 911

I put a leash on the dog

as my mother went to the back

to get dressed for the ambulance

she returned with fear in her eyes, asking

“when will they be here?”

at that time

I assume

realizing she had no heart beat

I was unaware of this at that point

looking back

I should have called again

but I was in complete denial and comforting her

 

I watched my mother die a fast death

 

to her

I’m sure it was slow

suffocating, turning purple, and scared

no breath to be had

despite trying

I said, “I love you.”

somehow between gasps of air

she was able to get out

“I love you too

tell your dad”

I said, “I know, save your breath.”

no heartbeat

no breath

no hope

no help

flailing and convulsing upon the floor

not a goddamn thing I could do

but stare in shock

where the fuck are the paramedics I thought

finally they arrived and began working on her

at the hospital questions were answered

blood pressure skyrocketed

heart stopped

and lungs slowly filled with fluid

my mother had drowned from within

the lungs drained

the heart revived

but consciousness had not returned

her brain had been without oxygen for about an hour

left in a vegetative state

we waited two weeks for a miracle

or at least

any sign of improvement

or life

kept alive by machines

that’s no life

that’s not life

the machines were switched off

and I watched my mother die

for the second time

 

 

Jonathan Hine

the shining blast spirit seems dark

 

if restricted feelings each play with the universe it can color low a clear array of humming to

the slow clash of souls

 

a light ethos among condensed pastoral

light palettes

a very amplified fold of sinister space driving feelings

a fear viel of unavoidable light

inducing extreme humming geometry moment by moment

in cartoonish and sudden transformations

of one dimensional misfortunes and lost personal flashes

thousands of clouds broader among the colors

 

the crisis flame projectiles from house radio whisperings burst into extreme facades of street smoke

 

signal spatters vast and unreal

David Sprehe

Colors lighted in my eyes

stream flow twirling and ricochet.

I blast tracked in a monkey trap seeing in mind

a number of good things such as

a beautiful woman with an unpracticed smile,

tellin’ the boss “I quit”,

and a child’s conception.

Shift back forth

sought meaning underneath worm bellies,

rose to heavenly height,

then shattered by an alien existence

childlike in the best and worst

crushed and berated

laughter and kindness.

Ain’t it strange way we build our worlds?

Constructed unknowingly dangerously feeling our little tendrils into spaces

Filling ‘em with our dreams and cruelties

weeping guts and smiling

heart pounding thinking this is it

why

why

why

swallowed into a mucky shadow.

Wishes not realities, though we build ‘em such ways and forget.

Then we hurt

less we get lucky and meet soul tuner who twiddles like me.

Collaboration on highest ground until flecks appear dusty

and foundation cracks

refusal to yield

can’t meld

evolve

save ourselves.

Whole thing’s towered up

then struck with different tongues

suddenly like “What the heck happened? I used to love you.”

It’s second law of thermodynamics,

universe hates energy input,

nature’s silly complexities,

just wants some tasty flat.

Then why, you know?

Who knows?

Kerryn Tredrea

 

howl if you must.

 

 

 

take me now
while we’re dancing,
you choose the music
while i play something
sexy and evil.
within this skin
lie the secrets of the visceral,
i drag them out
and lay them at your table.

 

take me here,
where the mercies
that you seek must be fought for,
muscles must melt and
beasts must bay at the moon
before this is finished.
it is an irresponsible moon
that watches over
our dark acts.

 

take me to the brink as
the whole darkness
consumes us,
sink your talons deep
into my breast, for my
sweet meats lie within.
show no sorrow,
plunge deep to scoff
upon my entrails
before the palsy happens.

 

take me to the point where
i am tipping

 

wicked is the sin
that trips us
as st. vitus dances
up my spine and our loins
explode with truth serum,
howl if you must.

 

bill.

 

 

it’s five minutes to midnight
and i’m taking a clown’s advice,
it’s laced with ennui and cynicism
and dick jokes that
we can both laugh at.

i buy him a meal because
i can see that he has been crying,
and over his black coffee steam
he tells me to abandon the tightrope
and hitch myself to a carny
cos the best any of us
can expect is mud.

outside the world remains
ringleader distant, and it’s late but there
is still news to deliver.
i promise to plant mushrooms
on his grave so he can carry on
entertaining the living.

 

 

Alex Salinas

Lingering rainstorm, September 2018

 

Hear it,

this lingering rainstorm like a lover’s goodbye.

Remember it,

breezy and gray like a Russian’s eye.

 

Visit the cemetery.

Kneel by your grandfather’s grave.

Tell him dirty jokes.

 

Then stop by Wu’s for fried rice.

Say a prayer before your meal.

Taste your dripping self in the steamy grains.

Say a prayer after your meal.

 

The humidor should still be open; buy a cigar.

 

Return to the cemetery.

Kneel by your grandmother’s grave.

 

Light your cigar.

Puff it carefully.

Drift away, slowly.

Apologize to Grandma for smoking in her presence,

though she smoked her whole life.

 

Appreciate the soaking your skin’s endured.

You’ll realize later you won’t need to shower.

 

But don’t be fooled for one second.

No flood can wash away your color,

your blood.

 

You’re like a star unable to hide from the cosmos.

 

One day,

you’ll tear a black hole in the fabric surrounding you

like a knitter with a shaky hand.