Richard Brotbeck

IF I WERE A POET

What is the state
of waxing poetic;
‘Poetitude,’ and
the transformation
is a ‘Poetation?’

That little yellow
book, ‘Dummies
For Poetry,’ has
templates; those
standardized
stencils where
text plugs in,
but I don’t have
words that fit
any of the holes!

Poeting is hard,
I did like Hemingway,
went to war, went to jail,
went to work for the
Kansas City Star;
fist fights, fish fights,
riots, revolutions;

I’ve pen and paper,
a burning candle
to hold to it,
but I can’t, the
words escape me,
I have a poem inside,
one that mothers will
read to little babies,
I hope to have
it ready soon,
I am working
very hard.

Ross Vassilev

crank
the bar looks really long
when your head is resting on it
the Asian barmaid just went
to the bathroom
there’s a scratch on the bar
shaped like Elvis
I remember Bill Keckler’s poem
where he wrote
“the opposite of whiskey
is not God”
well, the opposite of hell
is not people
as I’ve sure found out
our universe is inside
a black hole
a black hole is a singularity
and the singularity is me
lost in time
and lost in meaning
(maybe).

Edward Lee

BOOM

 
Boom, boom, boom,
comes the noise
from the wrong side of my ear,
echoing and bouncing
across the jagged contours
of my cranium,
roughing the bone,
scraping, scratching,

cracking.

Boom, boom, boom,
is all I know now,
tonight,
as I feel the black oil
coat my brain,
feel it seep into my mood,
into my mind,
my heart,
my soul.

The whites of my eyes
are darkening now,
my nostrils bubbling,
my mouth filling,
while this insomnia dented night
stretches before me,
behind me,
over me,
falling back onto itself,
echoing

boom, boom,

boom.

 
THE DOUBTER DOUBTS HIS DOUBT

I am searching for a light,
though I know there is
no light.

I know,

and yet, yet,
I do not know,
or I wish not to know.

I wish to be wrong.
I hope
to be.

I want there to be…
something,
When I know there is nothing.

I want, I
want
to not know
what I know.

I wait,
as open as I can be,
for a light
to shine
where no light has ever shone
before,

where no light will shine,
I know.

 

John Blandly

Heavy Metal Narcissist

 

I invented narcissism.

I majored in narcissism.

Narcissism is me!

 

All smart politicians, artists and poets are narcissists.

Was Emily Dickenson a narcissist?
Joan of Arc?

Sure.

 

There is no narcissist hall of fame.

I don’t think you are surprised.

 

Descartes proved there are other people.

He was a narcissist.

If he had said,

I am a narcissist,

therefore, I am,

like he wanted to,

he wouldn’t get all the good publicity.

 

Don’t go “all in” as a narcissist.

That is the wise move.

 

Narcissist anthem?

There is none.

 

Narcissists must come clean and come out of the closet.

Don’t be a closeted narcissist.

Man up.

 

Face your fears—the fear of being accused of an unreal zeal.

Like a Houdini,

you may slip out of your straight jacket sometimes.

So, be cool.

 

Mr. Misunderstood, that’s your name.

Or, if you are a girl, Miss Misunderstood.

 

Me new navel—I mean, novel,

“The History of Narcissism,” is selling well in the gift shops of mental institutions.

“Brilliant! A work of genius!”

–Albert Einstein

 

This is my favorite blurb.

 

Competition is keen among narcissists.

This is about the only thing keen about us.

Outlier,

outsider, that’s us, the big Ns.

Be confident and undeterred–after all, you are the best!

 

We are very upset with all the single white gunmen among us.

We would like to eject them with extreme prejudice,

just to give us more favorable airtime.

We love airtime.

 

The lone white gunman academy diploma should be a ticket for admission to the prison for criminally insane.

 

Are we super paranoid—like folks are watching us?

Well, if you spent as much time in jail as us, you’d understand.

 

There are not many narcissist clubs.

 

All this delusions of grandeur crap–where is the grandeur vending machine?

We’d like to cash in some cans and get some real grandeur.

Et tu, Brutus?

Folie a deux is twice as bad among us.

Delusions of grandeur are the je ne se quoi for a narcissist.

Come si,

come sa.

Come one, come all.

 

There is little to be gained by being a narcissist.

 

Who defends narcissists from unwarranted attacks?

Not me.

 

Who will be the last narcissist standing?

 

Me, I’m just a 10 cent narcissist.

 

Troy R. McGee Jr.

The 10th or 12th Greatest Story Ever Told (maybe).
 
When I was 16, I came home stoned one night. It was a strong, lingering high which I couldn’t shake, which would only lead to sleep. The kind of high where you swear you have a clown face, and you can in no way look into a mirror without giggling at your image. No one seemed to care that I was home late, and it was probably assumed that I was high, but it was fairly known that I had committed myself to living, shall we say, outside the grace of God. I grabbed myself a snack and moved toward my room in the dark.
It’s my room, it has been my room since I have lived here. It’s actually the parsonage of my grandpa’s church and my mom and my sisters and I are staying here rent free. Meanwhile, some old bitches from the church gripe and gossip and we never seem to get ahead and manage to get out, and the only lesson consistently learned is that poverty makes you hate yourself, makes you hate the people looking down at you, looking at you askance because yes, you’d steal, yes, you’d scam and break the law and yes, you’d sin if you could only get one step ahead of the hell you have to live in and work and make a little money and maybe one day rest and dream your ascent out of this hell or finish your damnation and maybe sleep another hour from your awful work and maybe get these goddamned eyes off of you and live the life others seem to be able to live in with such ease.
God! Everyone wants to have God in their life, God on your side, God as your Father (or Mother), but God doesn’t do that. God gave his Son. If you are a child, God gave his Son to be your brother, if you are a rebellious child like me, the comparison to Jesus will drive you crazy. If you are a parent, you can take Jesus into your heart and raise him like a little child, raise him up to be a man, to be a man unlike your own son, a son who will be what and how you want him to be, not a 46 year old “writer,” not the one producing this blasphemy, the one rambling because you won’t believe what I’m going to say, you won’t believe what I believe, but maybe I’m dreaming my own damnation, maybe this is a vision of my own hell and you should just check it out because it’s fire to my flesh, it’s scourge to my spirit and it makes me scream and it hides the music of death and I don’t want to die and die and die and suffer the tortures of the damned without you understanding a few minutes of what killed and killed and killed and kills me still and always will.
There he was in my room. Jesus. Yes, Jesus Christ, the Savior of Mankind, the guy in the Bible, that dude. He was in my room, and my parents were there with him. My parents have been divorced since I was 8, but there they were, together, with their Son, given by God. There they were, raising Jesus. There’s no way they would be hanging out, my dad always referred to my mom as “that cunt,” a fair assessment I suppose, as I have myself been an ex and can’t dispute that it probably feels good to be away from me after being with me. The point is, there they were together, they had somehow resolved their differences, despite their apparent hatred for each other, and they were raising a 16 year old Jesus. I don’t know how I knew it was Jesus, but you just know. Being raised religious; Pentecostal, actually as a member of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, I can say that we do know God and His Son Jesus personally, and on sight.
His homework was stacked on the little table by the door, you could see it was done and he was ready for school in the morning. Jesus had not dropped out like myself, and no GED score would have spared them that humiliation. Wait! Where were my posters, my stereo, my heavy metal tapes and records? Someone had cleaned out my room! My Slayer poster where someone had carved the logo into their arm! A feeling of dread overtook me as I noticed, the floor was cleaned and vacuumed. Certainly, my little tray was gone, you know the one. My mind raced for a moment contemplating what I would have had to explain about this room, and then I noticed it. The blackest rage overtook me suddenly, and I shouted “How come Jesus has long hair? How can he have long hair!?!” they were always fucking with me about cutting my hair. I ran away from my dad’s 3 times, including spending a whole summer living in Las Vegas at my friend Nick’s house and hiding when my dad and my stepmom showed up. I promised my mom I would cut my own throat rather than cut my hair, and just try it, the hair gets cut and the very next opportunity would mean a gruesome suicide, and it mostly worked because I made myself so much work for single parents, and the gossip began again, and “those poor people, that boy is in to something Satanic, and no, Johnny Dale, you can’t hang out with him, and no he’s not a good guy, but yes, she’s heavy handed and he left her and became a Mormon, (whispered) ball breaking bitch I heard . . .”
They looked at me with the predictable resigned look, like when you’re going to rehab, or a group home, or everyone in the house wants to do an intervention, or everyone got saved while you were out partying for the weekend and you can’t stay here and they’ve already had a really good cry about it and somewhere was a mound of Kleenex destroyed in your name, like an Old Testament sacrifice. “You only ever think of yourself,” my mother leveled the accusation (men don’t really speak in the family, unless in threats, and I assumed my Dad wanted to impress Jesus with how sensitive he was, how much he had, as a man, patiently endured). “We are raising Jesus in God’s will, not yours,” she pointed to the heavens. “You could never be able to get yourself ready for the nail. Would you ever sacrifice yourself for the World?”
Now, you can believe what you want about Jesus. I know what I saw, and I’ve made clear that I know how that motherfucker can be. I know many of you love him, always have. I know you don’t really know me. I’ve revealed myself to you as an unreliable narrator, and if you really know me, I may have lied to you or stolen from you or ripped you off on a lid or whatever, so you got no reason to go along with what I say, but that motherfucker was smirking that good son little suck up asshole face behind them, especially when I noticed the hair. “What the fuck are you looking at motherfucker!?! You better change your goddamn face when you look at me!” My Dad stepped in front of the Lord then, my ears were ringing by that time and I couldn’t tell what he was saying, some shit about respect and you know all that crap about the son against the father and the mother against the daughter and let’s not forget not peace but a sword and a house divided against itself and I could tell a decision had been made in my absence. I was leaving, that was clear, and it would be without my little tray, you know the one, and without my stereo or heavy metal tapes and records, and without the Slayer poster with the carved logo in the arm.

Dr. Randall Rogers

Dust Rescind

 

Imagine

death is

gonna

be

like a

well-staged

play,

as life is

an unrehearsed

funeral.

Dread the

unthinkable

thirteen-foot

tapeworm

inside

and

out.

Oye vey,

oye vey,

the rabbi say.

 

Help

 

It’s

my truth

but it’s not

necessarily

reality;

masturbation

is making

me blind!

 

Poetic Genius Hole

 

Poems come

to me

almost as often

as hearty, deep,

throaty, under-

wear billowing,

flammable,

gaseous, methane,

farts thud machine-

gun rat-a-tat-tat

outta my

open gaping

dingleberry-wreathed

asshole…whole.

 

Go! Trump Go!

 

Writing poetry

classics

is easy if you

don’t know

what you’re doing.

Just like being

President.

 

War

 

I remember

the day

not least

adumbrated

liberated

ingratiated

in pieces

shoot

it was bad;

heart, spleen,

stomach, lung,

splattered

chest shot

machine-gunned

during war,

what is it good for?

Ask anyone nowadays

and

they’ll tell you;

absolutely nothing!

 

Coiffed Crown Confusion (Crystal Blue Persuasion)

 

I can’t wait

to

die

and

reincarnate

as a guy with hair.

 

The Fleeting Now

 

We may find

the point in

space

but not in

time,

I imagine.

But someday

mathematics will

allow us to reach

a non-present now

outside the mind

Where was x

throughout history?

And where shall it be

in future?

 

Escape!

 

Float mystic wings

into the silence

of a noisy yawn.

 

Life

 

is a picked grape

wilting,

wrinkling into

a raisin

dangling

into mouths

hungry

for existence.

Long live

and bless

those able

to resist it’s

charms

its pains

its heights

of joy

despair

or perhaps

grant them

an early death

the shining darkness

from where peace

triggers the heart

from yesteryear

and before

to lay flat upon

the unburdened

plane and echo

mysteries of

coming surfeit.