Damon Hubbs

Yellow Ashtray


on the night 
horns grow from my head


my father 
is on the back porch smoking
a Winston

the yellow ashtray 
like a runny egg of moonlight
on the cracked stone step

he looks 
at the horns 
but says nothing 

rolls up 
his shirtsleeves 
& stubs out the Winston

I follow 
the thread of violence 

& clip him
with a parting blow. 




Front Hook Spin


the kids 
with fishing poles 
& stolen Vodka 
decanted in 
hairspray 
bottles

find him first 
& pull him out 
of the millrace, 
lips blue & front hooked 
with the last night 
on earth  

pole dancing girls 
spinning go-go hard-ons 
at the Novelty Lounge

must’ve
taken the tracks home
& fallen in 

scared 
all the 
fish 

Ken Kakareka

William Taylor Jr.


There’s a poet
I admire,
William Taylor Jr.
He’s kind of like
the underground voice
of San Francisco.
He’s not aware
that he’s on
my radar
but maybe after
this poem.
If I get a chance
to talk to him
I’ll say
listen,
enough with
the references
to the old writers –
Kerouac, Ferlinghetti,
and Bukowski.
I’m guilty of it,
too –
I know
you miss them.
But all this
name-dropping
isn’t going to
bring them back.
It’s up to
you and me
now
to carry the torch.
We both live and write
in California.
You cover the North
and I’ll cover the South.
We’ll be correspondents
for the written word.
And if you get
a collection published
with City Lights,
would you mind
name-dropping
for me?


Howie Good

The State of Poetry


A poet whose work I admire announces on Facebook the recurrence of her brain tumor. Another has already been admitted to hospice care. A third, a clear case of burnout, is giving up writing to attend mortuary school. And people wonder if poetry is dead!

&

The doctor looks up from studying the x-rays of my battered and crumbling spine and asks, “Do you do heavy labor for a living?” I almost laugh. Do I do heavy labor? No – unless you consider sitting hunched over a desk every day for most of the day, straining to lift words onto a page, heavy labor.

&

Then there are the times when I feel cast out, abandoned, a mutineer marooned on a speck in the ocean and forced to watch from far off as words, like the black ships of Magellan’s armada, their sails puffed out and all their flags flying, plunge over the edge of the world.


Guy Roads

Atomic Blueprint


The molecules arrange themselves 
into human shapes

according to the elements of fate

in nuanced forms of expression
and blunt atomic reactions

colored by happiness and suffering
in the not so visible spectrum.

This all takes place
at the outer heart of inner space

where worlds collide and lovers lay waste

to the compound structures of fable

seated at the periodic table

with all creation’s carnal relations

jealous of eternity 

and her sex 

and her power

and her appetite for death

at the banquet of experience

where the earth spins naked

and the moon blows kisses

and the sun winks knowingly

and the stars dare us to be
more than what we see

on this inexplicable journey.




The Poetry Racket

     
A few nights ago I attended my first poetry reading.  ( I’m 67)  It was sponsored by a local poetry organization whose website I’d just discovered.  I liked their mission statement.  I knew nothing about the featured poets or the bar downtown where it was taking place, but after a little internet sleuthing it seemed like it might be the right opportunity to meet other poets and share a few poems during the open mic.

I was hesitant, but it was something I felt like I had to do after running alone in my own private poetry marathon for years.

Almost a dozen people attended, (mostly scruffy old men) and it was a little weird trying to read poetry in the backroom of a bar next to the biffy, with a shitty microphone, no mic stand, no podium, poor acoustics, and lots of boisterous noise competing from the crowd of beer drinkers in the next room.

But I’m glad I did it.  Winter’s coming, and I don’t think I’ll be driving into the city after dark again until spring.

I’m trying to be honest with myself.  What’s my motivation for riding through the valley of the shadow of poetry?  Is it the desire for public approval?  Love in the form of recognition?  Personal accomplishment at an affordable price?  Camaraderie?

I’ve worked hard to get my ego out of the way and write poems that are both cathartic and artistically satisfying.  I like exploring ideas, crossing internal boundaries, self discovery, becoming more expressive, less emotionally constipated.

When I first started charging down this road I was so naive.  I had just crawled out of a factory.  I thought poetry would connect me to a better class of people, enlightened rogues and mystics, explorers, brothers, sisters, bird men and women, a contemplative tribe of confidants and sun dancers celebrating life.  What a fool I was.

I’ve seen the stacks of unwanted chapbooks gathering dust in bookstore wicker baskets.  I’ve been patronized by academics, ivory tower sentries, and effete personalities hiding in their literary rabbit holes at credentialed membership clubs.

Not long ago I was reading some essays by Robert Bly, Wildness & Domesticity.  He spoke disparagingly about much modern poetry, about its emptiness, its deadness, how it took a wrong turn years ago.  He told a story about his friend James Wright being snubbed at a U of M  English faculty party for complimenting Walt Whitman.  WTF?

Yesterday I veered onto The Loft’s website.  They have many resources for aspiring writers.  I can get personalized help for one whole year while trying to get a book published at the low, low price of $7600.  Astonishing!

How many chapbooks would I need to sell to break even on that venture?  It sounds like a great vanity project for anyone with a lot of extra money to burn.

And so I continue to ride through the valley of the shadow of poetry, “bloody, but unbowed” as Invictus said.

I’ve had some poems published in various print and electronic magazines.  There were a few where I had to pay for the privilege of reading my own poems. 

A year ago I read a poem on Rattle.  It was an outstanding confessional poem by a dead author who confided how it took him 40 years to make 15 dollars for his troubles.  “Why" by Robert Funge.

A couple of months ago I submitted poems to an online publication.  I received no acceptance or rejection response, then I sent a query letter.  Crickets.

Maybe real poetry has and always will exist only on the margins of society where touched individuals from all walks of life talk in crazy fractured heart bursts attempting to convey whatever divine message streams in through the broken windows of their psyches.

Maybe that’s what poetry is, a lonely lifelong marathon of men and women who belong to no tribe but their own.  Consider the old Chinese poets who walked into the mountains and disappeared in the clouds. (Hello Gary Snyder!)

Poetry is an ancient art, as old as any.  You’d think that with all the billions being spent on endowments, museums, institutes, public parks, commemorative statues, etc. that some visionary philanthropist would have thought to construct a dedicated poetry pavilion in a city park or attach a small quiet annex to some public building in a central location where poets could easily have readings, share, discuss, and hear themselves think above the din. Perhaps I’m still a fool.


Guy Roads

November 12th, 2022

Steven Leake

Amethyst / Doomsday Clock


Without knowing 
Exactly what living is

these days of quiet abundance 
Are spent with
Frugal abandon 
In 
Sparkling Amethyst daydreams

Keeping true to the visions
Of 
Rolling in the grass
With
Our toddler and dog

In kaleidoscope wonder
Of 
A new age utopia 
Of our own making

The fading glory
A rapture of declining return 
Like
Fluttering digits
On the doomsday clock





Forever Young


Cadillac smokes
And
Old timey chimney sweeps

Singing “Sweet Jane”
In raspy crackling harmony 

In bed 
As soft morning light leaks through 

vivacious breath
Explores the rhythm of your hips
In languishing daylight  as time approaches infinity 

Between the synapses
The image of your breasts
Takes hold
Of
Giddy plans

Reveling in
new traditions 

handing out pamphlets on Election Day 

staying up the rest of the night
in candle lit revelation 
Of the meaning of trust
And best practices 

Laying out a protocol 
For 
Bad mental health days

Romantically insured
For
Mornings I have to throw you in the shower 

After a week of sleep

Opening the pores with sultry steam
As the eyes dilate
Focusing on the new day

Damon Hubbs

Timetable


dropping 
by the depot 
on Saturday afternoon

few games 
of pool, pitchers of beer
a girl

it’s cold in the back 
room & the baggy wool cardigan 
banking her neck

is as familiar 
as the bar’s wood stove—  
a half-empty flickering, unattended

passengers ticketed through here 
for almost a century, weekend trips
to Kingston Point 

they’d sing all the way back,
the Catskills echoing 
with music & laughter

as the U&D railroad
linked the last 
terminal 

bad luck 
to look 
back 

just a spot 
for nine ball 
on Saturday afternoon 

& pitchers of beer 
with a girl whose cold breath flutters 
like pompoms on game night

Alan Catlin

Black Hole of Bombay Bomber

"The Devil Follows Me Night and Day
Because He Hates to Be Alone"

After hours he could be found
hunkered down in a back
booth, far away from picture
window prying eyes, house
lights turned almost all the way
down, a hard pack of butts
flipped open on the scarred
Formica table top, a pile of dead
and dying stubs amid the ashes
and spent matches of a new day's
morning as the man caresses
his beloved: the queen of midnights,
running his fingers down the cool
sides of her body, fondling the neck,
tasting the sweet juices of her essence,
her liquid dreams of oblivion, 90%
fool's proof, so much more than a
semi-precious gem, as valuable as
Sapphire, Bombay's Best, the queen
of dark continents, new world's explored
on the other side of delirium/ dreams,
a black sink hole closing around him
as all the beasts of the jungle converge
in his mind.

Daniel S. Irwin

I Don’t Own a Gun

I don’t own a gun.
With the ups and downs
Of life,
I might just blow
My brains out.
Then again,
Maybe not.
There’s always
The chance that
I’d screw it up
And just blow out
An important
Chunk of my brain.
Yeah, like the part
That controls
When to stop
Sassing the cop
When ya get
Pulled over.

Ken Kakareka

Second-hand Smoke

 
It’s a chilly night;
I’m sitting at my desk
by the window.
The poetry is flowing
like booze from a tap.
My neighbor is smoking
on the patio out back
and smoke wraps around a corner
and drifts in.
My senses are pleased.
It’s been a while
since I’ve had a smoke
and second-hand
is never unwelcome.
Sometimes I prefer it.
I lift my head
from my page
and let the smoke coast
beneath my nostrils
like a snake.
Sirens cry far away
in the lonely night.
I get up to check the commotion,
press my flared nostrils
against the screen
and beg for more.
But when I peek through
the curtain of the window
that my desk faces
she is gone. 

Daniel S. Irwin

I Don’t Like Gin

 
I don’t like gin.  It tastes like pine needles.
But, when that’s all ya got, that’s all ya got.
Mix that with a little of that cheap ass wine
The boys drink down behind the railroad depot
Where they hang out late at night being barred
From any club.  Savages, some say.  Deadly,
Booze soaked naked apes missing teeth,
Talkin’ shit like it’s stone God fact.
Maybe it is.  Who the fuck really knows for sure?
Cousin Jimmy might know.  He’s gone now.
He was well known by all the regulars at the
Green Door.  Day shift, night shift, everybody.
Hadn’t seen him for years.  I miss his humor.
I miss him.  A lot of us do.