Jared Avila

And it came to pass on the morrow


Look around your lonely America,
        the merry-go-round carnival deaths
        in the wasteland desolate rows—God bless!
Look, I was in that angel city sky silence—
	that vulgar cold—Monterey—
	the alleyways—the melting hills—
	& I was with the plowmen & reapers—
visions I saw of California: the Inquisition—
	the golden gates—Solomon’s pool—
	divided lines—wings to fly—
	I’ll die in polluted lands—
Adam’s children clung to pennies
	yet, the Lord smote us equal
                in all his common glory.
Visions! visions! look to me through 
	with a wilderness heart
	in desolate California visions—
look further! I was chasing the blues
	in Athenian groves—in room 109
	swallowed up on a moondust shore
	sniffing inhaling & drunk &
	impaling my heart rhythms
	feeling alone—cold & testifying—
look around your lonely America
	& I’ll find your eyes golden
	with candle flames in them—
with castles in them—ashes buried in them—
	with crimson sweaters & your laughing
	silent courageous—laughing gracefully—
I was with you in your lonely America,
	in the dancing voices of California,
	in the mountains burned with fire—
	with darkness—clouds—thick darkness.

George Gad Economou

how to lose your job


the party was dull; they all nipped on 
weak cocktails and danced to 
awful noise. I drank top-shelf overproof bourbon 
just to make the party livelier. 
a woman approached me, we talked over 
some beers and shots; she held her 
liquor like a heavyweight. 
I liked her. we chatted the night away, ended up
at my place. in the morning, she sneaked 
away like a thief. it took me  
a week to realize I’d slept with 
my boss’s young wife and crawled 
back to the job market. 

Damon Hubbs

Il Duce at the Dog Park


although we agree on the Sox game my son 
takes the remote and yells Paw Patrol 
into the voice activator 
as if he’s Ryder ruff 
roughing tv commands to his team of obedient pups. 
I’ll tell you something, pups 
Ryder doesn’t need you. Never has. His go-getter American exceptionalism 
is just a smokescreen for an Adderall problem. 
Ryder is one bender away from a stint at Promises
but I don’t tell my son any of this. Let him be a kid, right. 
As it is he’ll never understand the emotional design of a cassette mixtape
the highs & lows of handwritten liner notes, how to use pause 
to soundmix the thump click oomph of the record button 
or play video games 
at places that double as names for metal albums 
like dragon’s den & dream machine & the electric carousel 
& I don’t have the heart to him tell Paw Patrol is Authoritarian Propaganda &
Ryder isn’t a Robin Hood vigilante 
but just another il duce at the dog park

John Tustin

ALL THE OLD POETS

 
All the old poets are dead
All the new poets are dead
Look at them stripped of their skin
And looking like piles
Of bloody firewood
 
All the words that can be written or spoken
Have been written and spoken already
And they fall to the ground in flames
Spiraling in mad disintegration

Time is up
It’s all gone
Falling overboard
And drowning in the endless nothing at all
That truly surrounds us
 
We drew the shit cards
And the dealer dealt from the bottom of the deck
But no one will believe us
We’ve already bluffed too long anyway

Can’t unring a bell
Can’t roll over and find love and understanding
Waiting for you on the other side of the bed
Can’t turn on the lights
With the flick of a switch
Can’t can’t can’t

In a darkness
This deep

Daniel S. Irwin

It Wasn’t a Lie

It wasn’t a lie when I said
That I’d be pleased to recite my
Work at the local poetry reading.
I thought it a great opportunity
To spend some time with her,
Although we both had others,
And it would be no more than
A pleasant, enjoyable evening
Of laughing and drinking and
Spouting our words of wisdom
Though some of it be mundane,
Meaningless, garbled trash that
A few were afraid others might
Steal and claim as their own.
Hence twice a fool thieving
Another fool’s foolishness.
I just enjoy her company,
Her ready wit, and creative,
Open, free verse writing style.
My weakness: beauty and brains.
So, it wasn’t a lie when I said
That I’d be pleased to recite my
Work…just that I didn’t have any.

As the poetry reading was set for
the next night, in dire desperation,
I wrote my first poems that day.

Alan Catlin

God and the NFL


Were the twin pillars
Of his religion. Don’t
Get him started on the AFL.
The biggest regret of his
life was not being able
to play organized ball.
He had the size, the ability,
the desire but a world war
got in the way. Then a heavy
accelerated course load of
highly technical subjects.
As an adult, he taught
Sunday school, then
worshiped at the church
of football, like a mad priest
in an ecstatic frenzy.
He preached on the vagaries
of zone coverage and
the pure visceral thrill
of brutal contact, venerating
crippling tackles, knock out
blocks, venerating the courage
of tight ends who took hits
over the middle and never
dropped a pass. He bestowed
upon them his highest praise:
hard nose. Said they were
warriors. Real men. Knew
the meaning of big balls as if
the more macho you were,
the better man you would be.
I often wondered how he felt
When the baddest of them all
came out. Said he had struggled
with his sexuality all his life
and that he had been secretly gay
all through his career. That he was
dying now and it didn’t matter
who knew. I wondered if that
meant he had AIDS, that he no
longer had great hands, true grit in
the crease where manliness
mattered.

Sayani Mukherjee

Red

Hands on my night brimmed pockets-
Diamonds and rusts as the song said
Penny for unkempt days
Diaries and flash fictions
Dreary and turbulent
Easy enough to pass on the moving choir.

Lullabies of my frisky fall days
My eyes on the outside autumn
A wishful longing
To taste the over brimmed autumn
In a soulful cup
Oversoul and honey quartz,
And homecoming with conjoined hands.

Sometimes my vulnerable steps
Paint ducked off lines
I want to make mandalas of 
Saturated bliss 
As poetry says bliss and autumn come
together.
Two red hats sun beamed musk roses.

Across the new building
A new wall of a graffiti of a modern art
Mon amor days of scented candles
I wanna stick chap sticks
And Paper flowers on my fragile necklace.

My red veined fear 
No more fear of the vulnerable steps 
Autumn will dress us for growth
To make a saturated redness 
Under the heavy fall
And the striped stream that calls on me
Come over and drape in bliss.

John Grey

A NEW RELATIONSHIP


You're my lover,
self-congratulations, a high five,
beneath the slap,
a heart's tremor,
every woman I've ever known
gathered in a corner of this room -
how could this one stay with me?
why did she leave?
how come it went nowhere?
I want to know why the past
lies so heavy,
that even my triumphs
are the sorry slaves
of that first unwanted wet kiss.
The way ahead summons
the smells of fairgrounds.
cow dung, lakefronts.
This is sweet perfume
with the bitter odor of yesterday.
It's cool ocean breeze
atop hot sticky asphalt.
Even before we start,
I know where this is going.
It can't work because
I once thought it could.

 

 
THE CHANCES OF A CHILD HE NEVER KNEW EXISTED

 
Less than fifteen years of age but more than fourteen,
the fact of her standing before him is beyond comprehension,
with all the years between snapping like violin strings
in the presence of blue eyes fixated in him,
as he proffers a trembling hand that’s grasped by no one.

An unexpected meeting on the street. What are the chances?
She retreats behind her mother. What are the chances?
Tears well up in his eyes. What are the chances?
And who’s taking them? And why now?

What are the chances of a teenager graven with his old image,
of sudden lineage thrust in her face and his?
It’s as if they each in turn have discovered a new species.
But it’s already named…and by someone else.




CAR THIEF


A rock, a hammer, a lead pipe…
busting windows is a cinch.
Only you have none of these.
And the car is just standing there,
aching to be taken for a joy ride.
Why didn’t you bring some tools?
What kind of a car thief are you?
If only you had a couple of grand,
you could buy some beat-up piece
of crap to go driving around in.
You wouldn’t have to steal then.
And now, you’re so frustrated
you want to smash the glass with
your head. Over and over and over.
One over for the lack of tools.
The second for the paucity of cash.
The third because it’s never over.

J.J. Campbell

just hard enough
 
the spanish princess brings
me a cup of coffee as i sit
at her kitchen table, her
bulging breasts falling
out of her lingerie
 
she blows me a kiss
as i take my first sip
 
she gives me the look
that we both know means
are you up for another
round of what we did
last night
 
i call her over to me and
kiss her, biting her lower
lip just hard enough to let
her know you're damn right
i'm ready for another round
 
we race off to her bedroom
like lustful teenagers
 
two broken souls finally
getting to relish the joy
of being truly alive
 
usually this is wasted
on the young that have
no fucking clue how
to use it