David Brehmer

232 THIS YEAR, SO FAR

I find myself lost in the news
of statistics. The economy glazes into
columns of indistinguishable symbols,
clouding into some grim portent under which my primitive
mind can only tremble and hope.
 
Polls tick off who might think what now and when
but math seems irrelevant in the shadow
of amoral calculus. Numbers wilt against the wall
of willful ignorance, like a dog forgotten in the sun,
still worthy but abandoned.
 
And the people. Counted. Dead.
Four or more (not including the shooter),
grouped and catalogued and added and subtracted
and piled on the fire, glowing hotter
and growing closer, leaving behind charred families
and chasms, but not yet large enough
to threaten us all.
 
Though smoke has infiltrated
the movies and the malls and the arenas
and the churches and the mosques
and the synagogues and the schools
and the businesses and the homes
and the streets, the entire world
is technically not yet on fire.      
                                                     
I find myself lost in math.
I understand what equals what,
but it doesn’t seem to mean anything.

Howie Good

Death Trains

 

Chimps living in captivity are known

to throw their poop at their keepers,

and so it is that as he looks out on the railyard,

where special police in black uniforms

enforce the loading of a long line of boxcars,

the inoffensive little clerk with a clipboard

is very glad that people aren’t like chimps.

Orman Day

Affection Bandit Blues
 
Decades ago my green canoe ran aground, 
so I’m slumpin’ on a sandbar surrounded 
by ardent bucks paddlin’ the River Amore
unwary of wakes, snakes, a treacherous shore.
I’m a retired Ol’ Man tryin’ to forget my regrets,
bouncin’ my shoes to the affection bandit blues.
 
Floatin’ down the River in my thirties, 
my squintin’ blue eyes searched the levees,
like a bald eagle seekin’ catfish and carp,
wantin’ to see a smilin’ gal wavin’ to me,
blowin’ red kisses, beckonin’ my boat 
to a ramp of crushed rock or a rickety dock.
 
Steered clear of nasty women lookin’ for screws,
but she could be oblong, obese, oddly hewed.
On the muddy bank, we’d bed down on a blanket
cushioned by cattails, blue verlain, coneflowers.
Touched ‘em feathery (no scratch or neck bruise).
A spiritual connection of an hour’s duration or two.
 
Even if they wanted a gown, a weddin’ cake,
I launched my canoe, left ‘em in a watery wake.
They had proved I was lovable. That was enough.
Beamed as I paddled past bluffs, huffin’ barges,
not realizin’ my fevered gazes and gallantry
expressed nuthin’ but my affection banditry.
 
No druggin’ pills like the funny TV father,
no job promises or threats like the producers,
no unzipped pants or grabbin’ like the Presidents.
Yet I wonder now if some women remember me
and shout “MeToo’s” to the skies. That’s why 
I blush and sing the affection bandit blues.
 
Memories come in a meanderin’ stream. 
Lonely gals who loved me for a night, 
then waited for a call that never came.
When a friend was liftin’ the trunk of her car,
I caressed the plums of her tree ‘til she swatted free. 
Names that make me feel guilty: Cindy, Cathy, Nancy.
 
Now I’m an Ol’ Man drained of pirate dreams,
watchin’ other fools comin’ unspooled
in the steamin’ whirlin’ pools of the River Amore.
Sure, I was wronged as much as I wronged,
but now that my paddle’s been termite chewed,
all I can do is bray the affection bandit blues.
.

Michael Lee Johnson

Poets Out of Service (V6)
By Michael Lee Johnson
 
Like a full-service gas station
or postal service workers
displaced, racing to Staples retail
for employment against the rules of labor,
poets are out of business nowadays, you know.
Who carries a loose change in their pockets?
Who tosses loose coins in their car ashtray anymore?
iPhones, smartphones, life is a video camera
ready to shoot, destroy, and expose.
No one reads poets anymore. 
No one thumbs through the yellow pages anymore.
Who has sex in the back seat of their car anymore,
just naked shots passed around online?
Streetwalkers, bleach blonde whores,
cosmetic plastic altered faces in the neon night;
they don’t bother to pick pennies
or quarters off the streets anymore.
The days of surprise candy bags for a nickel
pennies lying on the countertop for
Tar Babies, Strawberry Licorice Laces
(2 for a penny), Wax Lips, Pixie Sticks,
Good & Plenty are no more.
Everyone is a dead-end player; he dies with time.
Monster technology destroys crump fragments of culture.
Old age is a passive slut; engaging old age
conversations idle to a whisper and sleep alone.
Matchbox, hand-rolled cigarettes,
serrated, slimmed down, and gone.
Time is a broken stopwatch gone by.
Life is a defunct full-service gas station.
Poets are out of business nowadays.

Brian J. Alvarado

lighting a wet match

i tossed my sin sticks and hurricanes 
into a sacrificial heap: 

am i free?

i’ve given up singing the lies in
liederkreis:

am i free now?

i’ve not doused my hair in chemicals
for a brood of old months:

shall i be free?

i seldom leave the
great indoors anymore

a prisoner to myself, in 
shambles and shackles 

for better 
and worse

an altar-less shrine 
for mourning and rue  

where you may toss
your faulty matches

and decimate your
glass of spirits


Ian Copestick

The Pain And The Violet Sky


The violet sky
with pale grey clouds
feels oppressive overhead.
The trees on the horizon
seem to linger with intent.
I remember walking this same
route 20 years ago. 
At two in the morning to score
some smack.

I imagined serial killers
hiding in the trees.
I ran as quickly as I could,
to get back home,
holding the gear tightly
in my hand.

At least then I knew the pain would
go away as soon as I got home.
Now, I know that the pain will never go away. 

Bruce Mundhenke

Seasoning

Been watching a few of the Monarchs
Pass through,
Reminds me that life goes on...
And puts me in mind of a Monarch
I saw,
About 52 years ago.
What I saw in those days
Looked different for sure;
It was a time when my heart was young,
Before any real darkness
Had come...
A time before I began
To be seasoned,
More learned,
With more knowledge of pain.
Since those days
I have learned to know thirst,
And have patience,
And wait on the rain.



Ian Copestick

Serious Help

My animals, my cat and dog
have both been playing up
today.
My dog took a shit on the
kitchen floor, even though
I'd put her lead on.
So she knew I was taking
her out.
She should know better
than that, it's not like she's
a puppy.
She's 11 years bloody old.

My cat hasn't eaten a thing
all day, no matter what I have
tried to tempt her with.

Then I noticed the date.
It's 4 months exactly since
their ' mother ', my Missus 
died.

I'm not suggesting that they
can tell what date it is, but
it's strange that they don't
usually act this way.

Looking back, reading this
poem again, I realise that I
am the one who is really
suffering, and I am acting
completely insane trying to
involve our animals in this.

I think I might need serious
help,
maybe I should try the vet.  

Scott Cumming

One of those what does it all mean things 
 
The only dreams I ever remember 
are about women I have known 
nothing sexy 
just a lingering 
as though visited upon 
by spectres 
of younger selves 
 
Hours spent dazed 
spaced out conjuring old faces 
inserting lives into imagined spaces 
subconscious 
a cunning trickster 
my mind 
a willing victim 
 
Bizarre to think 
any of them 
would ever read 
this shit 
A budget Rob Gordon 
A Championship wanker 
A what does it all mean thing. 

#4 
 
Living in pulp 
Means less holding up the mirror 
the few times I look 
see past my chin fat 
the blood thickens 
in my veins 
everything hollowed 
weighed down 
with impeding pain 
squinting at the reflected light 
auras and blurred sight 
vivid dreams 
of things once been 
new fad anxiety 
at walking through doors 
I no longer comprehend 
what I am looking for 
no longer understand 
the end. 

Daniel J. Flore III

THE INSANE GUY BELOW THE DECK


the insane guy
made a lot of sense
standing below my deck

but it won’t keep him
from being picked up
by the cops
before nightfall

he’d didn’t seem like a threat
so he’ll probably end up
in the mental hospital

which I hope doesn’t make him go
completely nuts



Talking to my mom when she isn't there

a strong gust of wind mom
like your spirit
and I'm so tired
seems like the gold on my cross has gone pale
and I wish you were here mom
the world needs turning
and laughter isn't making a sound
I guess I'll talk to the nite lite
as if it were a lullaby 
and I could sleep
I remember swimming with Cally at White Clay
her paw underwater stretched out to paddle
just like she was made for
and I feel like I was made for nothing
just these words 
fuzzy in the poor lighting of my eyes
and the traffic won't stop
I can feel the noise in the bottom of my legs
remember how they would run mom?
seems like I'm just all out of breath
I need to get some air though it's sickly and coughing
what stars are you wishing on
what ray of sunshine set you free
why am I in this fermented jar
I should save these questions for God
I guess you just remind me of Him
I'll say goodbye now mom
Goodbye!!
my knees need the chapel floor
and my lips need the sacrament 
like no thirst they've ever had before