Matt Borczon

What they take away
So I’m
arguing
with my
mother
about politics
when she
says stop
getting so
worked up
you will
end up
shooting somebody
I don’t
even own
a gun
I tell
her yes
you do
you got
it in
Afghanistan
I stop
and say
mom
they gave
me gun
in Afghanistan
just like
they gave
me nightmares
about spider
webs across
dead children’s
eyes
they gave
me a
gun like
they gave
me angry
ghosts and
PTSD and
a paycheck
but they
took back
my gun
before
they sent
me back
here never
thinking that
I slept
with it
like the
first stuffed
animal you
ever bought
me like
my first
blanket
like something
you don’t
let go
of until
someone
takes it
away.

Tanya
Was the
new girl
in gym
class bottle
blond hair
almost white
she wore
shorts and
stockings
told me
she had
skipped most
of her
freshman year
just sort
of forgot
to get
on the
bus since
her mom
worked early
and didn’t
know until
the school
sent the
police to
their trailer
she told
me she
was dropping
out as
soon as
she turned
16 in
about a
week which
was good
for me
since their
wouldn’t
be enough
time for
me to
fall in
love.

Band reunion
You laugh
at hair
lines and
waist lines
then count
your kids
jobs divorces
dead parents
and dead
classmates
eventually
you tune
up and
play one
you all
remember
and for
a few
minutes you
do remember
rock and
roll rebellion
young love
and the
police shutting
your practice
down early
you remember
it like
everything else
life taught
you later
Didn’t mean
anything
at all.

Strider Marcus Jones

POETS IN THE BACKFIELD

Stay a while?
The subliminal cuts are coming through
These days of deadly boredom,
And poets in the backfield
Writing
Something
Interesting.

Hardy, would not like today,
Life’s become an angry play;
And our deoxyribonucleic acid
Carries no imagination,
That’s not already put there
By a rival TV station.

I can hear you saying,
Yes, but we have the right to choose:
A colour and a ball of string-
Or poets in the backfield
Writing
Something
Interesting.

You said:
“The Golden Bird eats Fish
In South America
And most of the peasants let him,
Because of Bolivar.”
Yet, millions starved in Gulag camps,
And Czechs cried fears when Russian tanks,
Thundered through their traumoid streets
Pretending not to be elite.
As one old soldier put it:
“The West and East preach different dreams,
But ride the same black limousines.”

Stay a while?
These sheets are cold
Without your sighing skin;
And this poet in the backfield
Is writing
Nothing
Interesting.

J.J. Campbell

from too many years ago

a light breeze
saunters into
the room

you finish off
a glass of scotch
and think about
an old lover from
too many years
ago

loneliness is when
you actually care
about being lonely

this is something
different

an apathy at an
expert level

each night you
fade to black

accepting that the
morning is never
a given

Steven Croft

Firefight

Apache helo guns blister out green beads into a dark sky
through our night vision lenses, splitting the metal of cars
by this Iraqi police station taken by insurgents.
Exchange of fire lessens between our semi-automatics
and the IP station’s shot out windows. Radio crosstalk while
a room clearing team readies — time slows, then, “Go” —
they jog, weapons ready, one by one along the line
of blasted cars, until — frag grenade tossed in doorway
and they’re in. Time moves fast. More tap-tap shots.
Quick talk sitreps over the radio: “many enemy down”
“no casualties” — and soon, officers start on after action
reports as the scene of corpses is handed over to Iraqi soldiers.

And for us, the lowering dark of an Iraqi night falls back
into a long, usual rhythm of winding street patrols.

Wayne F. Burke

Closing Time

and George, the bartender
shuts me off
and I throw my handful of coins
down behind the bar
and some guy
a stranger in town
cracks wise and
I try and sucker punch him
but miss
and he hits me twice as
two of his friends grab my arms
and the guy bashes a billiard ball down
on my skull–
“fuck this,” I say to myself and
throw both guys off
as WHOOSH
WHOOSH my buddy Leno with
a pool cue, swinging it like
a baseball bat
breaks the billiard-ball guy’s arm
as a cop
runs in
spraying mace from a can
and everyone, six of us
are brought to the
Police Station where
I am allowed to sleep
in a bed in the break room,
instead of in a cell
because
my Uncle
is mayor of the
rinky-dink town.

Stephen Jarrell Williams

Dead Time

Gangs

roam
ransacked streets

soldiers squat
around the governor’s
mansion

churches filled
praying

protected

skies streaked
mini drones
peek

some of us
ready
ripe
stockpiled supplies

armed
ourselves
hidden
defenses

we’ll fight
survive
new beginnings

a blood drenched parcel, acre, country, earth.

Dream?

My direction seems set
unchangeable


hypnotizing
numb


yet exciting
like watching a movie


I’m in
my mind


all the world scene
everyone


my brother and sister
dream


should we scream
awaken


realize
someone is pulling the strings?

Those at the Top

They
can only look
down
from
their fortress
towers
and up
from
their periscopes
from hell.

They’ve been
too long
removed
from the daily
truth of living
and struggling
in a world
they control
at long range.

But they’re getting
the message,
we’re breaking
their code.
Soon coming
after them
with butcher knives
and bare hands.

Run,
you little weasels,
run!

Jeff Weddle

The Poet’s Carnage

At the typewriter
in a white cotton undershirt
and torn boxers

the struggle to create
like a fist fight
between milquetoast poseurs
stuttering curses
on a broken hayride

sometimes Bach on the radio
water glass half empty of bourbon
ashtray overflowing with butts
blood smeared postcards
bearing cryptic messages
mailed from a dozen
small Midwestern towns
each one tacked
to a map of the US

an old Bowie knife
and visions of starving Jesus

somewhere a dog barks
somewhere out there
is the one
attempting contact

somewhere in a corn field most likely
somewhere under a harvest moon

Life and Death are Everywhere

Gin drunk boy
stumbles along
the winter sidewalk
counting angels
in his head
sometimes
forced to rely
on fingers and toes
because angels
multiply fast
die faster
and are often
too tricky
for anybody’s
good.

The old lady
riding the number 9 bus
removes a
halo from her purse
and tosses it
out the window
as the bus passes by
striking the gin drunk boy
on the head
to the delight
of her fellow
passengers

while she smiles
and moves closer
to her funeral
only a week away.

She does not care
that in the whole world
there is no one
who will remember
any of this
longer than
the life
of a mayfly.

The angels
remain far away
and unaware
of the old lady
the boy
or the bus

and go about
their killing
of innocent dreams
as though nothing
in heaven or earth
could ever matter.

The old lady
exits the bus
at her regular stop
takes three flights of stairs
to her small apartment
where the memory
of an old cat
claws her heart

and dreams
of all the sins and comfort
to be found
in a hot and loving
cup of tea.

Yoana Tosheva

The Devil’s in the Details

I sleep well alone.
Your ghost is just a texture on the walls now – a shadow,
the slow drip from a leaky faucet,
the loud – creek – when I try to tiptoe in the middle of the night.
My face is a Cubist painting.
It is what’s left when you examine every perspective but your own.
Is there a definitive before and
after?
How did you become this way ?
The grief rearranges your features until they are unrecognizable.
I’m scared you’ll never figure out how to put them back,
I’m scared it’ll be like assembling a puzzle with pieces from different puzzles.
I come home to yelling / or a fist / most night.
I want to live in the heart of that summer
the egg yolk in the sky / the whistling wind / whispering through the open windows / the cicada stilled nights / doused in whiskey.
The smell of smoke took three days to wash out,
I slept for eighteen hours,
You are still gone,
I am still here
and yet,
do my hands belong to me?

meditations on the first of another month in the same continuum

All my months are bullet / train to the end of / the year / and no one is waiting there for me / but myself / and I still don’t know how to be alright with that / all my laughs come out sounding choked / and strangled / like they don’t mean it / even if they think they do / and what’s the use again / when everything feels like a lesson in impermanence / the truth is / I would have sat outside with you all night / for every night of that summer / and every summer after that / if it meant we got to see another shooting star / together / if it meant we would be sealed in a pocket of fleeting burnout / and break apart in some other atmosphere.
I almost wish / I never hugged that first cigarette to my lips / the entire room smelled like / my mother / used to / and now I am a portrait reimagined.
I wonder if the moon will always hang so heavy / no matter what phase it’s in / and what window you’re watching it out of / and the girl / with the pearl earring / was looking at something over your shoulder / never right at you / only through / and somehow you knew this / too.
You knew everything / so you didn’t have to wait around to find it out from me.

Blissful Nightmares

You are putting me back together again like gluing a vase you broke at your mother’s house,
like fixing the hole in the drywall
You are moving like molasses,
like everything is a slow motion timestill,
and I break knives trying to cut through the tension
You know I care too much,
I still need you when I say I don’t, but I like to entertain what it would be if I didn’t
How easy it would be to walk out of your car
and not look back
How simple it would be to unlove you, if I were anyone other than myself.
But you know these are the worst of the nightmares.
I averted my sight from the moon last night
That kind of dripping darkness remains invisible even when you open your eyes
and keep looking
And then I became a dead thing,
And the wind was a home, like my breathe, both settlers of the land,
And I did not let the stray dog lick my scraped knees, but instead caged myself in alone
The trees are all immovable weight, quintessentially rooted in place
We have nothing in common,
You are a break in the sound barrier,
and I only want silence.

Mark Tulin

Inside the Boarding Home

My father won’t tell me
what happened in Vietnam,
he just asks me to roll him
another joint,

and likes to talk about
the Beach Boys
and other music that mattered
in the time of exploding
shells, and dirt flying

At the Veteran’s hospital,
my father gets therapy
and all the medications
he needs to survive another day
in his boarding home,

where he cooks breakfast
on an old iron skillet,
balanced on a hotplate
I taste his scrambled eggs
and two strips of bacon
and thank him for his service.

Wheeling in a Supermarket

Rolling steady
Do it over a curb or uphill
I find it easier to wheel backward
in Ralph’s parking lot

Just hope someone sees my flag
and my Vietnam veteran cap,
so one of those 16-cylinder Maserati’s
don’t accidentally leave me for roadkill

Once inside of Ralph’s,
I wheel around the fruits and vegetables,
get wedged between the soups and pasta,
and grab a sample of nachos and avocados

Sweat pouring down my brow,
can’t carry these groceries on my lap
I have to tie it to the back of my chair—
weighing me down

I keep rolling past the check-out counter,
saying hello to the boy who collects carts,
and saluting the security guard
who keeps order in the parking lot

As I make it over a steep hump,
I keep my wheels steady
I’ve flipped over more than once,
but always manage to get back up.

Emalisa Rose

19 vintage autumn leaves

57 figure eights..calloused
twigs intertwined..18 wings
that bring the greens..the
grass, the seeds, along with
19 vintage autumn leaves

along the railroad’s park and
ride..treetop tall..the flying
artists’ sky design for the
winter weary window eyed

they’re making a nest for the whole world to see