Daniel S. Irwin

Second Thoughts

I see the bug on the floor.
First impulse is to step on it,
Crush the vile creature.
Then, second thoughts of
Rebirth and reincarnation.
Could this actually be the
New life form of a friend?
A relative?  My mother?
Or, on the other hand,
Maybe it’s the asshole bully
From my youth, or, ahem,
Mrs Robinson, my second
Grade teacher who gave
Me Hell every school day.
I think she dented the back
Of my head with multiple
Backhands with the ruler.
Could be that crazy neighbor
Who stole and ate my dog,
Worms and all, last summer.
“Damn you!”  I cried as I
Heavy-boot smashed the
Wretched living entity.
“Damn you all to Hell!”
But wait…could this be
My old drinking buddy
From Minneapolis?
“Brother Bain is that you?
Sorry, Jerry.  Damn, your
Guts are all over the place.”

John Knoll

for Ravi

I’ve been walking inexact dimensions, expanding towards
odiferous sunsets, bedazzled by the contours of skin and sin
driving my bones towards shadowed balconies since time
was invented.

This morning you asked me if I believe in God?
Me, an old mammal daddy, spouting whale song and bullshit
between bites of egg and gulps of black coffee.
Yes Rav, I believe the divine intelligences are just like you
and me. They have no idea what they’re doing and they too
are consumed with joy and terror.

We are cursed prophets inhabited by maps of Vietnam..
The word sighs an ancient shadow, breathes the flesh and
bone of first love. Fish tracks on our breath. The scent of
roses drained blue by time.

My love rocks you in the luminous arms of the sea.
Be bedazzled son, wear rainbows in your hair. We dance
to the eternal rhythms of life-death-mystery-love-terror.
Heirs to dolphin joy.

Fatihah Quadri

In a circle

At times, I try to cling to acuity
But there comes motions through thoughts,
Beating the love of adagio out of me, and a calamari,
For the obscure things are yet to be enmeshed.

Life is a dead metaphor; not ready for a cathartic canvas.
I am always seeing birds perching incessantly,
On bits of dried grass to make their tattered nests.
Everyone writes about grief,
Grief too is a cliché that haven’t halt salivating,
Like a mucus on the tongues of mothers,
As well as children, lovers, birds, counties; everything.

Everyone has a blue sky above their heads.
Termites never stopped their pinching on sand,
Purposely to make a magnificent hill for themselves.

Human races helter-skelter after more than you can list,
Glasses, bricks and lands to project a house.
Isn’t life overused?

Everyday, the moon reinstates itself with the sun,
To extract another scene to be called a day.
Animals reproduces to oblige hungry stomachs,
Time fades as that old, slack and wrinkled fabric.

Grandma dies, father comes home drunk, Mother cries,
We re-paint the same grief everyday.
Shedding tears for pains that has catapulted our lives,
Hmm… the circular geometry it seizes us to stretch.

We bade good-byes, singing dirges too often
And had become a body for the dirges too.

John Grey


Sickness is my secret place,
like this virus that keeps me indoors,
away from all others.
Sure there could be complications
but none of the heart, the head.
The chills inure me.
The headache hones my self-awareness.
And my stomach may roil
but interruptions don’t.

No point denying sickness.
Another virtue
when some unseemly microbe
wants temporary use of my body.
I’m flat out on the couch.
My brow sweats.
Three blankets flow like tide
up to my throat.
But I’m not worried.
No bills are in the room with me.
The phone’s not ringing
with someone who has great need of me.
At least, I won’t be answering it
if it does.

I’m taking pills.
I’m downing medicine.
I’m becoming more and more myself
with a cough and sniffle
underlining the fact.
And I’m drowsy (my personal favorite.)
Nothing can touch me
that isn’t inside of me.
Illness is more of a cubbyhole than writing.

Sure, in a day or two
this will all pass.
No more aches. No more mucus.
I’ll be back out into the world.
The word is “cured.”
The end of a medical condition.
Or a method of preserving dead meat.



What did they find when they dug up
the floorboards of the old high school
but promiscuity, adultery,
and even a pregnancy or two.

In the old store-room,
besides filthy couches and broken chairs,
there were twenty bullies, a hundred wimps,
and even two suicides.
Mice sure but also sadism.
And stagnant air to preserve the lot of them.

From the gym, men haul battered equipment.
Did interstate abortions and drinking sprees
really stumble off that wretched pommel horse?
And look at that greasy mat.
You could write your name with one finger
in all those alcoholics.

I'm a little in awe.
Heaped in a pile below my junior year
are blackboards, dusters, wife-beaters, drug abuse and incest.
A globe drops from a high place
explodes into splinters of Europe, Africa,
racism and dread.

They're going to tear the whole place down
and there's not much to salvage.
The old library bookshelf might have some use
but the soap opera?

The brand spanking new high school
opens in September.
And it is September.
So let the spanking begin!

Ian Mullins


I love the scrape, the scar,
the damp rush of blood
the moment before
the skin breaks; when
my body and its disease
hold each other
like two people fucking
in the dark, pissing
in each other's mouths
to feel how much
we can dirty ourselves
but still come clean:

revel in not knowing
why it all makes sense
under the sheets
the way it never does
in daylight, when I pick
the stale scabs of evidence
from the pillow
in a worthless shame
I decry as discretion;
pad the red wounds dry
to scab another night
scraping myself down
to my favorite size.

Don’t apologize; never
explain. My body
is the only one who never
turns me down,
but I do it to be bloody,
I do it to be alive:
to spite the worthless shit
that says no
every day in the mirror.
Take a look at him;
he hasn’t a drop of shame
to spare. That’s why
I take him undercover;
to teach him a lesson
he’ll never forget.

Yahuza Abdulkadir

Sketches Of Grief

my mother yelled at me for not ferrying
a pain to trace my grief on her body,

I was waiting in the wings for the night
to darken the skies, revering her thoughts

and then sketching different names
of grief on her body.

I wrote every line of torture on her skin,
chanting the elegies of my father into her eardrums.

I strive to fetch hope from the memories written on our wall,
but my eyes shift into a room of burnt onions,

and my tongue fled in search of voices
submerged into my father's throat.

every morning, I gulp down depression
from a cupful of tears, set down

and goggle my heart bleed gloomy verses
to the world.

yesterday, I trudge on the highway
and discerned someone,


you either shed your emotions in the air
& become a poet

or else you die a coward.

someday, you would hear the story
of a boy who moulded his emotions
into a poem,

& throw his heart into a flower pot.

Dark Days

when dark days creeps,
we saw a strand of hair
on our skin, dashing away.

we watched our bodies
become tissue papers,
our cracking lips
giving up to its doom,
as we felt the slight change
of beats in our hearts.

when the moon 
embraces the darkness,
stuck stars glitter no more,
as the songs of peace echo not,
and birds with broken wings
find not their way home.

Wisdom Adediji


The day I turned into you,     you saw me first.
You were there, breathing petals like lilies,     plucking stars
from my heart, to the earth on your palms.
I whisper to the wind      to whistle songs to you,  & 
you —a bright shard from the sun— eats up the darkness
on my tongue. I pray the hook in my throat  unfurls
Into lyrics     of old starlings   hymning your name.
I search your name in the sky of my heart,   & all I harvest is memories
of you as an angel,   &  I am incomprehensible 
for dishing void from my voice. 
Demons are fallen angels, &  oh!  what do we call fallen demons?
But you  are the clean waters,  shattering darkness
from my bones. & I moult from dirt    to your kisses 
wrapping my tongue with your molars,     making my 
breath as quiet as a sepulchre.

Ian Copestick

That Famous Black Dog

Sadly, I have
to admit that
depression is
getting the better
of me.
Everything is really
hard work.
Just getting up,
and dressed tires
me out more than
an 8 hour shift at
work used to.

I've lost interest in
nearly everything.
I used to love playing guitar.
I was never very good,
but it was something I
I haven't picked it up
for over a year.

The amount of poems
I've had published in
the last year,
I used to have that
many published each month.

I need help,
I know that.
I've known it
for a long time,
but now I've
reached enough
of a low point
to accept it.

Tomorrow morning,
I'll be phoning the
doctor's surgery.
Hopefully, I'll get
the help that I've
finally acknowledged that I need.

Laszlo Aranyi


Cooking a scrawny, hairy newborn...
- What the fuck are you doing, cummer?

"We'll boil the nine devils out of him."
Nine precocious, duck-legged gnomes,
born by God-tempting practices of witchcraft.

This brat is not even mummified.
(parchment-coated, peeling, scaly-skinned) he is a
disgrace to the crib.
His shrewd, bow-legged hounds chase
and hunt the stray deers' akasha image.

Nine paces from the river, nine moons sit
above the motionless water.
Usurer, the sevenfold crouching creator rules
the real and the imagined world.

He deals zinc-clad cards
while fertile scribbles guard
the nine crystal-structured Villains.

(Translated by Gabor Gyukics)