J.T. Whitehead

What Works No. 25.


“If you go carrying round pictures of Chairman Mao . . .”


Some kid came to our bargaining unit,

talked Marx, socialism, lots of bullshit.

We said, listen, man,

we’ll get what we can,

but as for your politics, forget it.

Don Clark

The cold alone



You are a grinning madness,
standing there in chill moonlight.
Why then so much sadness?

The bottle drained inside a mess,
howling there through sleepless night.
You are a grinning madness.

When these are gone I’ll have some rest,
the cold alone and hidden from sight.
Why then so much sadness?

I must consume drink-drink to dress,
a boy now lowered, cornered in fright.
You are a grinning madness.

Red peaks through the changing crest,
bringing forth the snarled fight.
Why then so much sadness?

You carry off the iron-warm west,
hunting breath lit up as light.
You are a grinning madness.
Why then so much sadness?

Matt Borczon

The year my father lost his job


I was


the hallways

of my

high school

all winter

to get

ready for

track season


I was

always either

the slowest

of the

fast kids

or the

fastest of

the slow

ones but

I didn’t

really care

about track

or who

was fastest


I just

didn’t want

to go

home that

year my

mother never

spoke above

a whisper

our house

was silent

as a grave


and I

was only

running really

just training

to get


for a

future I

felt was

coming hard

and heavy


and certain

as the




Old girlfriend


I still
calling you
by phone
in the
middle of
the night
just to
hear your
voice in
high school
it was
an exquisite
kind of
pain I
sought like
God when
I was

I thought
of this
as I
ignored your
friend request
unsure if
I wanted
to smile
or cry.


J.T. Whitehead

Dream on, bourgeois baby 



By day

the bass player’s

a C.P.A.


By morning

the drummer’s



His nose

is nestled in

her hose,


at her calf,

or her shin,

peeled half-


way down

her legs, his ten-

sized shoes


thrown to the

corner, a playah,

& down he goes.


In this town,

4 different bars

host their shows,


throw in booze,

tune guitars.

Smiling Mars,


The Back-Door,

O’Leary’s, & Ho Ho Ho’s.

& that makes 4.


The mixer/


was a lawyer.


You insist

you’ll let your kids

do this, too,


unlike tight 

parents before you,

always right.


One guitarist

sells property, stock,

(a capitalist).


Unlike you,

he rocks.  They rock.

& you just want to.


& his echo,

& his flanger,

each rush to go


faster & faster

than his thumb & finger,

& each of them


likely knows

more about picking

than he does.


This volume

you’re hearing

makes you deaf.


You don’t know

a treble from a clef.

You just assume.


But I assure you,

at least 1 of you,

in this very venue,


swimming in rhythm,

dancing, overcoming blue,

wants to be them.


Michael Lee Johnson

Dance of Tears, Chief Nobody 



I’m old Indian chief story

plastered on white scattered sheets,

Caucasian paper blowing in yesterday’s winds.


I feel white man’s presence

in my blindness-

cross over my ego my borders

urinates over my pride, my boundaries-

I cooperated with him until

death, my blindness.


I’m Blackfoot proud, mountain Chief.


I roam southern Alberta,

toenails stretch to Montana,

born on Old Man River−

prairie horse’s leftover

buffalo meat in my dreams.

Eighty-seven I lived in a cardboard shack.

My native dress lost, autistic babbling.

I pile up worthless treaties, paper burn white man.


Now 94, I prepare myself an ancient pilgrimage,

back to papoose, landscapes turned over.


I walk through this death baby steps,

no rush, no fire, nor wind, hair tangled−

earth possessions strapped to my back rawhide−

sun going down, moon going up,

witch hour moonlight.


I’m old man slow dying, Chief nobody.


An empty bottle of fire-water whiskey

lies on homespun rug,

cut excess from life,

partially smoked homemade cigar-

barely burning,

that dance of tears.

Dr. Randall K. Rogers


Living breathing

life like a ticking

time bomb defused

by bitter existence


desire, hope, time,

into discrete

passages of

lived through


aggregated like

death notices

brought back

from the front.


What Started It All?


The being inside me

fathoms not

life’s mysteries

yet knows it

thinks something

vast surrounding

and engulfing

is both so large

so infinitely complex


so intricate and

small it all fits

neatly inside me



Say It Ain’t So


Is the hypocrisy

louder nowadays

the lying purer deceit

shades of gray

always skewing black

mendacity peaking

Janus-faced upon

an Everest of

moral decline?

Don’t tell me abortion

ain’t murder.