Russell Streur

BECKON HILL

Saigon fell
And still too young for bars
Annette and Cumberland   

Climbed Beckon Hill     
And smoked away the afternoon
With a couple joints

Promised to each other
Forever to stay high
And sealed that vow

With a shotgun kiss
Until the future unfolded into the past
From the projects to the nether dunes

And she flew too near the moon
Playing dice left-handed
With Circe and the crones

And he flew too near the sun
Bowling with the Devil and his crew
Chasing stones in the South of France

And all those years
In the upper atmosphere
Took their toll on bone and lung

Now she is singing underwater
And cannot catch her breath
In the sea off Samothrace

And he cannot take another step
Legless in Cyrenaica
Crippled in Saharan waste.

Sayani Mukherjee

Hide and Seek 

My moon has faced up. 
Gone are the days of sledge sleep Snow
Of winter's river bed, dug and caved 
upon the mighty vast
Of poplar heights. 
There little beads of seed flowers
play Hide and seek
Over the hill berry row 
In the dark dusty chimney doors. 

Three summers have rushed out
And I come back-
To a valley sponged with flying kites
The lake there blue and shivery 
With smallest touch 
And transparent cello whines 
from dark underneath. 

Knitted and stretched among woollen shades
The trails that jingle for more warmth
The fishermen there makes a circle
And offer sacrifices
For the star shaped maiden face
Who ensnared my vision
With a giant net of coloured stones
And paper bag boats. 

Far away, tip top beats 
of cascade mountains
Honk my tunnel vision
This is a path I chose
Of clovers and germanium bloom
And Lullabies of mother's dream. 

Michael Lee Johnson

Poetry Man

I’m the poetry man, understand?
Dance, dance, dance to the crystals of night,
healing crystals detox nightmares, night tremors.
Death still comes in the shadow of grief,
hides beneath this blanket of time,
in the heat, in the cold. 
Hold my hand on this journey
you won’t be the first, but
you may be the last.
You and I so many avenues,
ventures & turns, so many years together
one bad incident, violence, unexpected,
one punch, all lights dim out.

 

97, Coming to Terms & Goodbye
(An atheist faces his own death)

Wait until I have to say goodbye,
don’t rush; I’m a philosophical professor
facing my own death on my own time.
It takes longer to rise to kick the blankets back.
I take my pills with water and slowly lift
myself out of bed to the edge of my walker.
Living to age 97 is an experience I share
with my caretaker and so hard to accept.
It’s hard for youngsters who have not experienced
old age to know the psychology of pain
that you can’t put your socks on or pull
your own pants up without help anymore—
thank God for suspenders.
“At a certain point, there’s no reason
to be concerned about death, when you die,
no problem, there’s nothing.”
But why in my loneliness, teeth stuck
in with denture glue, my daily pillbox complete,
and my wife, Leslie Josephine, gone for years,
why does it haunt me?
I can’t orchestrate, play Ph.D. anymore,
my song lyrics is running out, my personality
framed in a gentler state of mind.
I still think it necessary to figure out
the patterns of death; I just don’t know why.
“There must be something missing
from this argument; I wish I knew.
Don’t push me, please wait; soon
is enough to say goodbye.
My theater life, now shared, my last play,
coming to this final curtain, I give you
grace, “the king of swing,” the voice of
Benny Goodman is silent now,
an act of humanity passes, no applause.

*Dedicated to the memory of Herbert Fingarette, November 2, 2018 (aged 97). 

Ian C. Smith

Afflicted

 

When I hit the road, not for roadwork this time, morning light thin like my shakily packed bag, it was the end of winter, time to go.  A scrapper since boyhood, neurals now explosive, I left my treasured boxing scrapbooks behind with the sad-eyed girl I married.  After my seventh bout, concussed, untreated, I knew I must box no more.  Subscribing to Ring Magazine at first, scissoring action shots to paste in pages beyond my meager cuttings, I continued flirting from afar with what I realized was an uncaring, brutal sport.  I fretted for the ersatz feeling of glory entering the ring ducking between ropes, referees’ ignored instructions, nervous tap of gloves before combat.  I also left training behind: contest posters pasted on the gym’s walls, liniment and leather’s waft, soft slap of skipped rope, the speedball’s thrummed tattoo; instead, learned to read to overcome depression, a different kind of obsession taking root.  Trapped in a neutral corner now, alone with nothing left of that faded time except my developed yet weakening brain, memory’s slippage like an unwanted heirloom after these quiet years afloat in the world of literature, art, this unaccountable loss, those grueling days of damage done, that sad-eyed girl, stagger me, a rip to the solar plexus.  I feign nonchalance, keep on the move, defence stoic yet porous, want this tempo of rapid decline to slow, dreaming back, wondering what became of my youth during this still life, those scrapbooks, crave to trace their pages’ yearning once again.

Fabrice B. Poussin

 Living at 55 

 

It is all a matter of time 

as he watches from the windows 

darkened by years of abandon 

an old cinemascope movie at twenty-four frames per second 

a super high definition at twenty-nine 

lives moving by at fifty-five miles per hour. 

 

They come and they go without a sign 

making not a trace upon the present 

no memory of their passage remains for the future 

no story to be told for these unknown ghosts 

in a rush to reach the next stop sign 

another supper with friends becoming strangers. 

 

They hit the asphalt in the early hours 

to slide by again as the skies darken 

hoping for a smooth journey to their temporary homes 

while some will crash into an unseen oblivion 

remembered for a few lines in the morning news 

most will merely perish asleep at high speed. 

 

Fixated on the lights ahead, their dreams too are in slumber 

fleshy robots they no longer ask those puerile questions 

of those years when still attempting to survive 

their souls have been subdued by the unavoidable race 

intoxicated by the unbearable sleeping agent they call a life 

they continue on the path unable to rediscover their extinct fancies.  

John Tustin

JENNIFER

 

Jennifer wants the world to live by the rules she has provided.

Jennifer doesn’t like to be called Jenny.

Jennifer doesn’t want to hate me but she does even though she loves me, too.

Jennifer doesn’t understand The Beatles, The Stones, Bob Dylan. She doesn’t want to.

Jennifer wants the world to be good and doesn’t see that when I argue I give her her own words back to her.

Jennifer is so sad and so beautiful I could weep.

 

I imagine that she masturbates thinking about the good and bad things about me.

If Jennifer and I were children together we would be sitting in a tree and kissing.

We are not children and we have lived already so all we do is fight.

Jennifer inside herself is a child who has witnessed war and I am a lot like her.

 

Jennifer kisses ghosts. Jennifer embraces barbed wire.

Jennifer wraps her legs around fantasies and listens intently through the wall.

Jennifer gags on the thought of being conquered with tears in her eyes and likes it.

Jennifer’s eyes were meant to be admired.

Jennifer was meant to be used in the most loving way imaginable.

Jennifer’s lips were meant to be kissed.

Jennifer’s body is scarred with a life of decisions.

Jennifer’s heart is a sieve.

Jennifer doesn’t want to make decisions anymore.

 

Jennifer makes me feel upside down.

Jennifer makes me think things at night when I’m alone.

I want Jennifer and she wants me but

Neither of us can be had. It’s not that easy.  

I only want Jennifer to love me

 

But I also understand. 

Alan Catlin

A Real Story

She delivers mail
every day to the bar

The new day guy
asks her out

They click

Make plans to
move in together

Get married

They’ve narrowed
down honeymoon options
to two or three
She makes plans
to move her son,
from a previous
marriage, to a new school

Drives him to
the airport for a
pre-relationship, no cancel,
extreme vacation in
the mountains

Kisses him goodbye

Says she’ll see him
in a week

He meets the perfect
woman while rock climbing

Claims there is nothing
more romantic than
making love on a
mountain ridge after
a strenuous climb
as the sun goes down

Proposes to her
though there are already
clear signs she is
an absolute bitch
on wheels

The mail carrier picks
him up at the airport

When asked later why
he didn’t give her a
heads up about his new plans
he says, “She was my ride.”

Her world as she knew
knew it ends

His goes on as usual

Daniel Klawitter

Preface to an Ontological Cookbook

 

For me, the cooking life has been a long love affair, 

with moments both sublime and ridiculous. 

—Anthony Bourdain 

 

It may be that hunger and love

Are twins from the same Mother—

An eternal longing to lull our lack.

And the presence of an absence

Is the recurring attack of history.

To be struck by such fictions or facts

Is a recipe beyond all reverie & endurance:

As you step back to your private kitchen

Where no snack can bring assurance. 

 


It’s Inevitable

 

For now, the buzzards float

Counterclockwise 

In a sky of exceptional blue.

But the inevitable

Shall come to pass:

A carcass and a rendezvous. 



Take It All Off, Slowly

 

Some leaves are the color of lust,

Or speckled gold & burnt sienna.

The spectacle of Fall is a carnival:

Bold flashes among the branches

In this sun-freckled fiesta of autumn.

The aspens turn & then they shimmer,

As the leaves peel off like garments—

Flung at the feet of a stripper.


Shiva Neupane

Loneliness is my ultimate friend:                                In my search for a companionship                      I have toured my heart in many places,              But I didn't find anyone                                          who understood me?                                                                                                                       After finding no one                                               I slouched beneath the azure sky of my Solitude,                                                              from where I found my truest friend - Miss. Loneliness.                                                                                                                                           Miss. loneliness perched me on the ground of philosophical enlightenment,                          and lectured me the ups and downs of those romantic- mercenaries in the battle of futile love.                                                                                 Miss. Loneliness gave me a key to open       the door of pluralistic-reality of the world, where love is ambushing the hearts of many with a romantic- mantra. 

Daniel S. Irwin

Bullshittin’

Late at night, when confronted by
A gun-totin’ fool outside the bar,
You just know the gutless wonder
Demanding money is bullshittin’.
But then, Messieurs Smith & Wesson
In a shaky hand, might not, in fact, be
Bullshittin’.  So, bye bye wallet and
Bye bye my whole last two bucks.
Which, when my robber checks
The take, he laughs and gives it back.
“You need this more than me, dude.”
Out of the goodness of his evil heart,
He hands me a crisp new Jackson,
Then disappears into the darkness.
Truly a fine gentleman.  Perhaps, I’ll
Meet him later, in the slammer,
Since I got arrested for, sucker that
I am, trying to spend a crisp new
‘Counterfeit’ twenty dollar bill.