Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year

By Bei Dao

Translated by David Hinton, Yanbing Chen

a child carrying flowers walks toward the new year
a conductor tattooing darkness
listens to the shortest pause

hurry a lion into the cage of music
hurry stone to masquerade as a recluse
moving in parallel nights

who's the visitor? when the days all
tip from nests and fly down roads
the book of failure grows boundless and deep

each and every moment's a shortcut
I follow it through the meaning of the East
returning home, closing death's door

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Woman Dances

By Osvaldo Sauma

hidden in the night
a woman dances
like saying wings
she spreads her arms
from the air’s core
to the air’s rim
tilting between walls of shadow
to the voids of light

a woman whirls
like a star
     turns
on herself
     graphs
the paths of chance
and its declensions dances
     turns
like lifting a bird
from the earth’s grasp
raises a magnetic time
draws with a blazing coal
the red speech of the caves

spins
     shakes
the childish fears
that call to us
from our innerness

a woman dances
by herself
against adversity
at the wood’s heart
to quicken
the blind beat of life
dances on my wounds
to goad me
on the route of remorse

a woman dances
alone against adversity
on the tumbling planet
against a snag in memory
flees on that flight of music
turns on herself
and bares to us a desire
that was driven from Paradise

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Bohemian Roadrunner

By Jason E. Hodges


Drifting along the highways and backroads of America
are the Bohemian Roadrunners
Wandering without worry or a care in the world
Modern-day Aborigines
Dancing while dreaming
To a drum beat and the warm felt fire light of the night
The impatience and greed that fills the cities they fled from
Seems to be growing well without their attendance
That life was happily traded without hesitation
For a life of music
of arts
of crafts made from the land
made from discarded trash
that last week was so wanted by the hippest of hipster
For the Bohemian Roadrunner is unconscious to the outside
but awake on the inside
More than most they encounter on the road
They are workers of flint
connecting with the spirits of the past
while disconnecting from the material world
A people of purpose:
To have no purpose of all
But to live free
Far from the rules of the rule-makers
The hands of the takers
The fingers of pointing
Far from the judging of the judges
The Bohemian Roadrunner lives and drifts on the land.


Jason Hodges began writing in 1989. Shortly after he began, he saw the movie Drugstore Cowboy with William S. Burroughs. He would go on to discover Charles Bukowski, Harry Crews, Anais Nin, and Anne Sexton. His work can be found at The Fringe, The Camel Saloon, Indigo Rising, The Dirt Worker's Journal, Daily Love, The Rainbow Rose, Dead Snakes, Books on Blog, The Second Hump, and Cross TIME Science Fiction Anthonlogies Volumes 8, 9, and 10. He also interviewed Harry Crews for Our Town Gainesville Edition, Spring 2011.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Feast of Lights

By Emma Lazarus

Kindle the taper like the steadfast star
Ablaze on evening's forehead o'er the earth,
And add each night a lustre till afar
An eightfold splendor shine above thy hearth.
Clash, Israel, the cymbals, touch the lyre,
Blow the brass trumpet and the harsh-tongued horn;
Chant psalms of victory till the heart takes fire,
The Maccabean spirit leap new-born.

Remember how from wintry dawn till night,
Such songs were sung in Zion, when again
On the high altar flamed the sacred light,
And, purified from every Syrian stain,
The foam-white walls with golden shields were hung,
With crowns and silken spoils, and at the shrine,
Stood, midst their conqueror-tribe, five chieftains sprung
From one heroic stock, one seed divine.

Five branches grown from Mattathias' stem,
The Blessed John, the Keen-Eyed Jonathan,
Simon the fair, the Burst-of Spring, the Gem,
Eleazar, Help of-God; o'er all his clan
Judas the Lion-Prince, the Avenging Rod,
Towered in warrior-beauty, uncrowned king,
Armed with the breastplate and the sword of God,
Whose praise is: "He received the perishing."

They who had camped within the mountain-pass,
Couched on the rock, and tented neath the sky,
Who saw from Mizpah's heights the tangled grass
Choke the wide Temple-courts, the altar lie
Disfigured and polluted--who had flung
Their faces on the stones, and mourned aloud
And rent their garments, wailing with one tongue,
Crushed as a wind-swept bed of reeds is bowed,

Even they by one voice fired, one heart of flame,
Though broken reeds, had risen, and were men,
They rushed upon the spoiler and o'ercame,
Each arm for freedom had the strength of ten.
Now is their mourning into dancing turned,
Their sackcloth doffed for garments of delight,
Week-long the festive torches shall be burned,
Music and revelry wed day with night.

Still ours the dance, the feast, the glorious Psalm,
The mystic lights of emblem, and the Word.
Where is our Judas? Where our five-branched palm?
Where are the lion-warriors of the Lord?
Clash, Israel, the cymbals, touch the lyre,
Sound the brass trumpet and the harsh-tongued horn,
Chant hymns of victory till the heart take fire,
The Maccabean spirit leap new-born!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Psalm of Mattathias

From the Book of Maccabees, Book 2

There is no need for fear
of men dressed in threats of power
all their successes are masks

that will fade like words in a gust of wind
and though one walks as if he wears a crown
in a show of pride — the whole performance collapses

in an instant: one last breath
and his body crowns the dunghill
and his words have turned to worms

today he shines on everyone's tongue
tomorrow no one has heard of him
he's vanished quickly as a winter sunset
gone — turned back into dust
all his schemes turned back
into nothing.

but you, my children, take hold of your lives
by a stronger hand,
by the deep strength in Torah

your hearts unsinkable vessels
bearing its words: sustenance
for a day beyond mere dreams of success

it will bring you into the future
it will bring you courage
worn as surely as a crown.

Friday, December 23, 2011

"How beautiful are thy tents, Jacob"

By Yehuda Amichai

"How beautiful are thy tents, Jacob."
Even now, when there are neither tents nor Jacob’s
tribes, I say, how beautiful.

Oh, may there come something of redemption,
an old song, a white letter,
a face in the crowd, a door opening
for the eye, multicolored
ice cream for the throat,
oil for the guts, a warm
memory for the breast.

Then my mouth will open wide
in everlasting praise,
open like the belly of a
wide—open calf hung on a hook
in a butcher’s shop of the Old City market.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

miss rosie

By Lucille Clifton

when I watch you
wrapped up like garbage
sitting, surrounded by the smell
of too old potato peels
or
when I watch you
in your old man's shoes
with the little toe cut out
sitting, waiting for your mind
like next week's grocery
I say
when I watch you
you wet brown bag of a woman
who used to be the best looking gal in Georgia
used to be called the Georgia Rose
I stand up
through your destruction
I stand up

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Trees

By Robert Frost

A Christmas Circular Letter

The city had withdrawn into itself
And left at last the country to the country;
When between whirls of snow not come to lie
And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove
A stranger to our yard, who looked the city,
Yet did in country fashion in that there
He sat and waited till he drew us out
A-buttoning coats to ask him who he was.
He proved to be the city come again
To look for something it had left behind
And could not do without and keep its Christmas.
He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;
My woods—the young fir balsams like a place
Where houses all are churches and have spires.
I hadn't thought of them as Christmas Trees.
I doubt if I was tempted for a moment
To sell them off their feet to go in cars
And leave the slope behind the house all bare,
Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon.
I'd hate to have them know it if I was.
Yet more I'd hate to hold my trees except
As others hold theirs or refuse for them,
Beyond the time of profitable growth,
The trial by market everything must come to.
I dallied so much with the thought of selling.
Then whether from mistaken courtesy
And fear of seeming short of speech, or whether
From hope of hearing good of what was mine,
I said, "There aren't enough to be worth while."

"I could soon tell how many they would cut,
You let me look them over."

"You could look.
But don't expect I'm going to let you have them."
Pasture they spring in, some in clumps too close
That lop each other of boughs, but not a few
Quite solitary and having equal boughs
All round and round. The latter he nodded "Yes" to,
Or paused to say beneath some lovelier one,
With a buyer's moderation, "That would do."
I thought so too, but wasn't there to say so.
We climbed the pasture on the south, crossed over,
And came down on the north.

He said, "A thousand."

"A thousand Christmas trees!—at what apiece?"

He felt some need of softening that to me:
"A thousand trees would come to thirty dollars."

Then I was certain I had never meant
To let him have them. Never show surprise!
But thirty dollars seemed so small beside
The extent of pasture I should strip, three cents
(For that was all they figured out apiece),
Three cents so small beside the dollar friends
I should be writing to within the hour
Would pay in cities for good trees like those,
Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday Schools
Could hang enough on to pick off enough.
A thousand Christmas trees I didn't know I had!
Worth three cents more to give away than sell,
As may be shown by a simple calculation.
Too bad I couldn't lay one in a letter.
I can't help wishing I could send you one,
In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Transformation

By Martin Rosner

I am old, but the marsh
Is so much older,
Yet we have bonded through
The years that I have aged,
And it remains serenely changeless,
Retaining the cosmic elixir
That endows it as a womb.
The spicy, musky odor it emits
Is that of life transforming
From decay encoded inexplicably
By some supremely mystic force.
I hope it operates for man
As well as the other creatures
Generated in the marsh and on this earth
That we vainly strive to understand.
At last I must accept
That like the marsh,
Earth demands decay
In order to create new life.


Martin Rosner, M.D. has been published in numerous magazines and newspapers including 17 poems in "The New York Times" and is currently part of the course in modern poetry at American International College. He lives in New Jersey.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Love

By Czeslaw Milosz

Love means to learn to look at yourself
The way one looks at distant things
For you are only one thing among many.
And whoever sees that way heals his heart,
Without knowing it, from various ills—
A bird and a tree say to him: Friend.

Then he wants to use himself and things
So that they stand in the glow of ripeness.
It doesn’t matter whether he knows what he serves:
Who serves best doesn’t always understand.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Atheism

By Richard Coughlan

Atheism offers nothing to me
It never has and it never will
It doesn’t make me feel good or comforts me
Its not there for me when I’m sick or ill
It can’t intervene in my times of need
It wont protect me from hate and lies
It doesn’t care if I fail or succeed
And it won’t wipe the tears from my eyes
It does nothing when I’ve got nowhere to run
It won’t give me wise words or advise
It has no teachings for me to learn
It can’t show me what’s bad or nice
It has never inspired or incited anyone
It won’t help me fulfill all my goals
It won’t tell me to stop when I’m having fun
It has never saved one single soul
It doesn’t take credit for everything I achieved
It won’t make me get down on bended knees
It doesn’t demand that I have to believe
It won’t torture me for eternity
It won’t teach me to hate or despise others
It can’t tell me what’s right or wrong
It won’t tell anybody that they can’t be lovers
It has told nobody that they don’t belong
It won’t make you think that life is worth living
It has nothing to offer me, that’s true

But the reason that atheism offers me nothing is because I’ve never asked it to.

Atheism offers nothing because it doesn’t need to
Religion promises everything because you want it to

You don’t need a religion or to have faith
You just want it because you need to feel safe

I want to feel reality and nothing more
So atheism offers me everything
That religion has stolen from me before

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The tao of touch

By Marge Piercy

What magic does touch create
that we crave it so. That babies
do not thrive without it. That
the nurse who cuts tough nails
and sands calluses on the elderly
tells me sometimes men weep
as she rubs lotion on their feet.

Yet the touch of a stranger
the bumping or predatory thrust
in the subway is like a slap.
We long for the familiar, the open
palm of love, its tender fingers.
It is our hands that tamed cats
into pets, not our food.

The widow looks in the mirror
thinking, no one will ever touch
me again, never. Not hold me.
Not caress the softness of my
breasts, my inner thighs, the swell
of my belly. Do I still live
if no one knows my body?

We touch each other so many
ways, in curiosity, in anger,
to command attention, to soothe,
to quiet, to rouse, to cure.
Touch is our first language
and often, our last as the breath
ebbs and a hand closes our eyes.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Solar

By Robin Becker

The desert is butch, she dismisses your illusions
about what might do to make your life
work better, she stares you down and doesn’t say
a word about your past. She brings you a thousand days,
a thousand suns effortlessly each morning rising.
She lets you think what you want all afternoon.
Rain walks across her mesa, red-tailed hawks
writhe in fields of air, she lets you look at her.
She laughs at your study habits, your orderly house,
your need to name her “vainest woman you’ve ever met.”
Then she turns you toward the voluptuous valleys,
she gives you dreams of green forests,
she doesn’t care who else you love.
She sings in the grass, the sagebrush, the small trees
struggling and the tiny lizards scrambling
up the walls. You find her when you’re ready
in the barbed wire and fence posts, on the scrub where you walk
with your parched story, where she walks, spendthrift,
tossing up sunflowers, throwing her indifferent
shadow across the mountain. Haven’t you guessed?
She’s the loneliest woman alive but that’s her gift;
she makes you love your own loneliness,
the gates to darkness and memory. She is your best, indifferent
teacher, she knows you don’t mean what you say.
She flings aside your technical equipment,
she requires you to survive in her high country
like the patient sheep and cattle who graze and take her
into their bodies. She says lightning, and
get used to it. Her storms are great moments
in the history of American weather, her rain remakes the world,
while your emotional life is run-off from a tin roof.
Like the painted clown at Picuris Pueblo
who started up the pole and then dropped into the crowd,
anonymous, she paws the ground, she gallops past.
What can you trust? This opening, this returning,
this arroyo, this struck gong inside your chest?
She wants you to stay open like the hibiscus
that opens its orange petals for a single day.
At night, a fool, you stand on the chilly mesa,
split open like the great cleft of the Rio Grande Gorge,
trying to catch a glimpse of her, your new, long-term companion.
She gives you a sliver of moon, howl of a distant dog,
windy premonition of winter.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Practical Mom

can go to Bible study every Sunday
and swear she’s still not convinced,
but she likes to be around people who are.
We have the same conversation
every few years—I’ll ask her if she stops
to admire the perfect leaves
of the Japanese maple
she waters in her backyard,
or tell her how I can gaze for hours
at a desert sky and know this
as divine. Nature, she says,
doesn’t hold her interest. Not nearly
as much as the greens, pinks, and grays
of a Diebenkorn abstract, or the antique
Tiffany lamp she finds in San Francisco.
She spends hours with her vegetables,
tasting the tomatoes she’s picked that morning
or checking to see which radishes are big enough to pull.
Lately everything she touches bears fruit,
from new-green string beans to winning
golf strokes, glamorous hats she designs and sews,
soaring stocks with their multiplying shares.
These are the things she can count in her hands,
the tangibles to feed and pass on to daughters
and grandchildren who can’t keep up with all
the risky numbers she depends on, the blood-sugar counts
and daily insulin injections, the monthly tests
of precancerous cells in her liver and lungs.
She’s a mathematical wonder with so many calculations
kept alive in her head, adding and subtracting
when everyone else is asleep.

By Amy Uyematsu

Monday, December 12, 2011

Afterimage

By Phil Lane

Here is a photograph,
a composite of youth:
boys race down a flagstone path,
bicycles rush over macadam streets,
the world is black and white,
uncomplicated.

In paper-thin portraits,
in auburn tomes,
the dead live on,
their monochrome faces,
their frozen smiles
filed and dated
like evidence,
pressed under glass
like fossils.

Here is a photograph,
an abstract of youth
that paints the past distort,
lithographs the lines
worth saving,
turns bitter experience
into something
you can frame—

Phil Lane's poems have been lost in cyberspace for the past decade. A very, very precise google search can uncover many of them. Mr. Lane lives in New Jersey and teaches English for a private tutoring company.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Shabbat

By Maya Pindyck

Dig the ditch for the dirt
and not for the hole, as does the man
who wishes to skirt the holy laws,
and whose sons, in the same spirit,
butcher open bags of potato chips
so that no bag remains, so that no one
can accuse them of reusing that bag
for some utilitarian purpose.

Cutting off the head of a chicken
is another story. You think you can
cut off a chicken’s head for its beak
and the chicken won’t die? The rabbis
have decided that no such intention
can be true, unless the Jew in question
is really stupid. Such are the laws
hanging by a thread from the mountain.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Fight or Flight Response

By Sherman Alexie 

Years ago, in Spokane, a woman saved
A family of orphaned baby geese.
An amateur ornithologist, she raised
Those birds into adulthood, and then released
Them into the pond at Manito Park,
Where a dozen swans, elegant and white,
Tore the tame geese open and ate their hearts.
Of course, all of this was broadcast live
On the local news. Eyewitnesses wept.
My mother and I shrugged, not at death,
But at those innocent folks who believe
That birds don't murder, rape, and steal.
Like us, swans can be jealous and dangerous,
And, oh, so lovely, sure and monogamous.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Beauty of Things

By Robinson Jeffers


To feel and speak the astonishing beauty of things - earth, stone and water,
Beast, man and woman, sun, moon and stars—
The blood-shot beauty of human nature, its thoughts, frenzies and passions,
And unhuman nature its towering reality—
For man’s half dream; man, you might say, is nature dreaming, but rock
And water and sky are constant—to feel
Greatly, and understand greatly, and express greatly, the natural
Beauty, is the sole business of poetry.
The rest’s diversion: those holy or noble sentiments, the intricate ideas,
The love, lust, longing: reasons, but not the reason.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Approach of Winter

By William Carlos Williams

The half-stripped trees
struck by a wind together,
bending all,
the leaves flutter drily
and refuse to let go
or driven like hail
stream bitterly out to one side
and fall
where the salvias, hard carmine,—
like no leaf that ever was—
edge the bare garden.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Enemies

By Dante Micheaux

for Ishion Hutchinson

The thing about entertaining them,
about keeping their company,
about fraternizing,
is you must remember
they are bloodless
and have many faces,
though it’s easy enough
to walk in sunlight,
where either you or they
become invisible,
never together seen;
easy to get in bed with them,
to bed them,
to be seduced by them—
listing in their own dominance.
Remember what makes one human,
animal, is not the high road
but the baseness in the heart,
the knowledge that they could,
at any moment, betray you.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Serenity Prayer

By Reinhold Niebuhr

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Low-Tide

By Edna St. Vincent Millay

These wet rocks where the tide has been,
Barnacled white and weeded brown
And slimed beneath to a beautiful green,
These wet rocks where the tide went down
Will show again when the tide is high
Faint and perilous, far from shore,
No place to dream, but a place to die,—
The bottom of the sea once more.
There was a child that wandered through
A giant's empty house all day,—
House full of wonderful things and new,
But no fit place for a child to play.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Stars

By Douglas Polk

Stars uncountable in their multitudes,
decorate the sky above the Platte,
a river once sacred to Sioux and Pawnee,
vivid proof of the unknown,
and the unexplored,
seemingly eternal,
and so, so far beyond man’s understanding,
Space and time existing beyond the imagination,
Yet we humans rule the planet like gods,
A fool’s paradise
just ask the stars above the Platte.


Douglas Polk is a writer of poetry from central Nebraska. Feeling persecuted most of his life he has published three books of poetry; In My Defense, The Defense Rests, and On Appeal. He lives with his wife and two boys and two dogs on the plains of Nebraska.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

it's the way you play the game

By Charles Bukowski

call it love
stand it up in the failing
light
put it in a dress
pray sing beg cry laugh
turn off hte lights
turn on the radio
add trimmings:
butter raw eggs, yesterday's
newspaper;
one new shoelace, then add
paprika, sugar, salt, pepper,
phone your drunken aunt in
Calexico;
call it love, you
skewer it good, add
cabbage and applesauce,
then heat it from the right
side,
put it in a box
give it away
leave it on a doorstep
vomiting as you go
into the
hydrangea.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Eternity

By William Blake

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy
He who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sunrise

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Letter from Harry

By Carl Dennis

I guess I have to begin by admitting
I'm thankful today I don't reside in a country
My country has chosen to liberate,
That Bridgeport's my home, not Baghdad.
Thankful my chances are good, when I leave
For the Super Duper, that I'll be returning.
And I'm thankful my TV set is still broken.
No point in wasting energy feeling shame
For the havoc inflicted on others in my name
When I need all the strength I can muster
To teach my eighth-grade class in the low-rent district.
There, at least, I don't feel powerless.
There my choices can make some difference.

This month I'd like to believe I've widened
My students' choice of vocation, though the odds
My history lessons on working the land
Will inspire any of them to farm
Are almost as small as the odds
One will become a monk or nun
Trained in the Buddhist practice
We studied last month in the unit on India.
The point is to get them suspecting the world
They know first hand isn't the only world.

As for the calling of soldier, if it comes up in class,
It's not because I feel obliged to include it,
As you, as a writer, may feel obliged.
A student may happen to introduce it,
As a girl did yesterday when she read her essay
About her older brother, Ramon,
Listed as "missing in action" three years ago,
And about her dad, who won't agree with her mom
And the social worker on how small the odds are
That Ramon's alive, a prisoner in the mountains.

I didn't allow the discussion that followed
More time than I allowed for the other essays.
And I wouldn't take sides: not with the group
That thought the father, having grieved enough,
Ought to move on to the life still left him;
Not with the group that was glad he hadn't made do
With the next-to-nothing the world's provided,
That instead he's invested his trust in a story
That saves the world from shameful failure.

Let me know of any recent attempts on your part
To save our fellow-citizens from themselves.
In the meantime, if you want to borrow Ramon
For a narrative of your own, remember that any scene
Where he appears under guard in a mountain village
Should be confined to the realm of longing. There
His captors may leave him when they move on.
There his wounds may be healed,
His health restored. A total recovery
Except for a lingering fog of forgetfulness
A father dreams he can burn away.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Not Any Ist

By Velcrow Ripper

Got a ride with a logger’s boss on my way to a Sufi gathering

My chameleon self emerged
Took over

The veil dropped down
The armour went up


I accept his offering of a bottle of beer
“Where are you going?”

I cop out.
“To a drumming workshop…”

He puts on some reggae
“You’ll probably like this…”

His voice a trifle anxious
Trying to meet me halfway

Stopped off at his clearcut on the way down
Bumped through the rutted road gouged through the used to be forest
Lying on a pile of used to be trees were the loggers, sound asleep

The boss laughs: “those guys are always playing tricks on me…”

They jump to their feet as we pull up
Playing caught napping on the job

We get out of the truck
Laughter is exchanged

The fallers name is Roy
A little plump with rosy cheeks

An easy manner
A welcoming smile
A gentle soul

His father was a logger before him
The daredevil of the camp: a high rigger

The one who climbed three hundred feet up the spar tree
To chain on the skyline

Behead the giant
With his cross cut saw

Cling to the mad sway
As it creaked and groaned in helpless despair
And finally surrendered to a gentle wafting

The triumphant Lilliputan
Would chain the skyline to the naked tree
And return to earth.

“I’ve got a B.A. in pyschology,” says Roy
“But I like to work outside. I love the woods.”

But
Do the woods love him?

Just doing his job.
He knows what his job is doing to the land
He’d log better if he had the chance

If the company would let him

Just a foot soldier
But the questions arisen before:
Would there be wars
If there were no soldiers?

“What’s it like up in Canada?
I want to go up there to work.
You still got trees up there.”

“Only ten or fifteen more years of trees,
I’d say, and that’s it.”

“They’ll probably find one of them
spotted owls up there anyways.”

“Them environmentalists are probably up there right now,
painting spots on all the owls that don’t got any.”

They laugh and offer me a smoke.

I don’t mention that I’ve been called
One of them environmentalists

Though I insist
I’m not any ist at all

Just a human

A human
With epiphytes in my armpits
Moss and fern and lichen

The dust and heat and sadness and power of the blockades coursing and crackling
Through my nervous system.
Microreyzal fungi curling through my intestines.

Right now I’m one of the guys.
Shape shifter.

“Excuse me a minute,” says Roy, firing up his chainsaw.
He cuts down a tree.
It falls screaming to the ground.

I think of those native tribes that used to pierce their flesh
And hang
In days of ritual atonement
Before falling a great cedar

I imagine Roy
Pierced and hanging

He’d probably log a little more carefully.

Monday, November 21, 2011

I Continue to Dream

By Langston Hughes

I take my dreams and make of them a bronze vase
and a round fountain with a beautiful statue in its center.
And a song with a broken heart and I ask you:
Do you understand my dreams?
Sometimes you say you do,
And sometimes you say you don't.
Either way it doesn't matter.
I continue to dream.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Refusing at Fifty-Two to Write Sonnets

By Thomas Lynch

It came to him that he could nearly count
How many Octobers he had left to him
In increments of ten or, say, eleven
Thus: sixty-three, seventy-four, eighty-five.
He couldn't see himself at ninety-six—
Humanity's advances notwithstanding
In health-care, self-help, or new-age regimens—
What with his habits and family history,
The end he thought is nearer than you think.

The future, thus confined to its contingencies,
The present moment opens like a gift:
The balding month, the grey week, the blue morning,
The hour's routine, the minute's passing glance—
All seem like godsends now. And what to make of this?
At the end the word that comes to him is Thanks.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Chayei Sarah

By Laurie Patton

Ishmael:
I was thirteen,
and I remember the music
and my mother whispering,
"Why such a party, when
it is only a weaing?"
And the smell of lamb
and the hand drums;
and the involuntary sound
coming from my own throat -
half laughter, half-sob -
after I saw my mother's face
in the firelight;
and I knew
my little brother
was now my rival.
But God was still good to us -

Isaac:
- and I was three,
and I remember
starinh out in the dark
of the morning
and seeing two shadows
and then the clear outline
of your mother
clutching a water bottle,
and watching her wave
in the air,
as if she were talking
to Someone.
But God was still good to us -

Ishmael:
- and now we stare together
into the cave
that holds our father -

Isaac:
- our father's bones
and his memory,
in the place before Mamre -

Ishmael:
- and yet I fear
for the future -

Isaac:
- since perhaps
the only thing
we can do together

Isaac and Ishmael:
is to bury
and to mourn
our dead.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Times They Are A-Changin'

By Bob Dylan

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’
For the loser now will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’

To hear Bob sing this song, go here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Killing the plants

By Jane Kenyon

That year I discovered the virtues
of plants as companions: they don't
argue, they don't ask for much,
they don't stay out until 3:00 A.M., then
lie to you about where they've been....

I can't summon the ambition
to repot this grape ivy, of this sad
old cactus, or even to move them out
onto the porch for the summer,
where their lives would certainly
improve. I give them
a grudging dash of water – that's all
they get. I wonder if they suspect
that like Hamlet I rehearse murder
all hours of the day and night,
considering the town dump
and compost pile as possible graves....

The truth is that if I permit them
to live, they will go on giving
alms to the poor: sweet air, miraculous
flowers, the example of persistence.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Implosions

By Adrienne Rich

The world’s
not wanton
only wild and wavering

I wanted to choose words that even you
would have to be changed by

Take the word
of my pulse, loving and ordinary
Send out your signals, hoist
your dark scribbled flags
but take
my hand

All wars are useless to the dead

My hands are knotted in the rope<
and I cannot sound the bell

My hands are frozen to the switch
and I cannot throw it

The foot is in the wheel

When it’s finished and we’re lying
in a stubble of blistered flowers<
eyes gaping, mouths staring
dusted with crushed arterial blues
I’ll have done nothing
even for you?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ghosts

By John Middlebrook

When we moved from our old home,
     we thought our memories moved with us.

Still curious, one day, we stop for a look.

We see the new owners
have made it all different,
and we shake our heads in disbelief.

Through the windows, in the willow,
we see their kids playing—
unaware, no doubt, of the very best limbs.

Outside, we whisper
and sidestep their prunings.
We are amazed at how small
            it all has become.

Their son, a toy cowboy,
grabs his lasso
      and plastic play gun.
He claims we never lived there;
      we agree and move on.

Like a somber procession of grainy photos
we carry away our remains within us.
We are migrating spirits
tethered together by a story as shared
      as the air that we breathe.

Up the road, we look back,
and through a keyhole we see
that the place we once lived
      is no longer there.

It slips like a dream
into the maze of memory.
There, it keeps our common past.

Its dormant scent lingers
with artifacts left in trunks
      and envelopes of lace -
the traces of what we were,
      and what we hoped to be.

John Middlebrook lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where he manages a consulting firm focused on non-profit organizations. He has been writing poetry since he was a graduate student at the University of Chicago, where he also served on the poetry staff of Chicago Review. His work has appeared in Writers' Bloc, Foundling Review, and Yes, Poetry, and he can be found on the web here.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Hymn of Not Much Praise for New York City

By Thomas James Merton 
 
When the windows of the West Side clash like cymbals in the setting sunlight,
And when wind wails amid the East Side’s aerials,
And when, both north and south of thirty-fourth street,   
In all the dizzy buildings,
The elevators clack their teeth and rattle the bars of their cages,   
Then the children of the city,
Leaving the monkey-houses
   of their office-buildings and apartments,
With the greatest difficulty open their mouths, and sing:
“Queen among the cities of the Earth: New York!   
Rich as a cake, common as a doughnut,
Expensive as a fur and crazy as cocaine,
We love to hear you shake
Your big face like a shining bank
Letting the mad world know you’re full of dimes!

”This is your night to make maraccas out of all that metal money
Paris is in the prison-house, and London dies of cancer.   
This is the time for you to whirl,
Queen of our hopped-up peace,
And let the excitement of your somewhat crippled congas   
Supersede the waltzes of more shining
Capitals that have been bombed.

“Meanwhile we, your children,
Weeping in our seasick zoo of windows while you dance,   
Will gobble aspirins,
And try to keep our cage from caving in.
All the while our minds will fill with these petitions,   
Flowering quietly in between our gongs of pulse.   
These will have to serve as prayers:

“ ‘O lock us in the safe jails of thy movies!
Confine us to the semiprivate wards and white asylums   
Of the unbearable cocktail parties, O New York!   
Sentence us for life to the penitentiaries of thy bars and nightclubs,
And leave us stupefied forever by the blue, objective lights   
That fill the pale infirmaries of thy restaurants,
And the clinics of thy schools and offices,
And the operating-rooms of thy dance-halls.

“ ‘But never give us any explanations, even when we ask,   
Why all our food tastes of iodoform,
And even the freshest flowers smell of funerals.
No, never let us look about us long enough to wonder   
Which of the rich men, shivering in the overheated office,   
And which of the poor men, sleeping face-down on the Daily Mirror,
Are still alive, and which are dead.’ ”

Friday, November 11, 2011

Lower East Side

By Harvey Shapiro

On Houston street, walking west,
the moon coming up over Katz's Delicatessen,
we pass a synagogue ancient as Tiberias.
You don't have to be touched
by the hand of God
to pick up on these New York cliches.
We get finished walking the dog
and climb to your Catholic-kitsch apartment
where your Mother of God helps me out of my clothes
and history and the ruined smell of these lives.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dr. Burnout

By Millie Niss

Is not in he’s taking the afternoon off
To vacuum his office barcalounger
And test the springiness of the upholstery
With the new Jamaican receptionist
He’s been eyeing for the last two weeks
Dr. doesn’t want to hear about your feelings
After all, they’re immaterial the fall
Of psychodynamic psychiatry is well-past
So please stick to symptoms, side-effects and such
And leave the feelings for your twelve-step group
On overcoming therapy addiction.  Diagnosis
Is a mere formality useful for insurance purposes
We wouldn’t want you to read in any more
Meaning than can be coded in ICD-9 instead
We’d rather characterize your condition
By the characteristic response you have to
Certain pharmacologic agents so rather than to say
That you’re depressed which has so many extra-clinical connotations 
better to say you have
Prozac-responsive syndrome.  Don’t bother to detail
The depths of your despair how you want to throw yourself
In front of the number 104 bus and end it all, enough
To say you have suicidal ideation and not waste
The doctor’s time he is busy preparing his suntan
For the Psychiatric Association conference in Acapulco
Where it wouldn’t do to have pasty skin so please be brief
And to the point and pay your bill promptly the dr.
Is running a business not a charity so have your
Visa or mastercard ready (sorry no American express) as
You leave and please do not forget your next appointment
Careful follow-up is essential to correct treatment.

Previously published in Yale Journal of Health and Medicine

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dispatch

By Alfonso Quijada Urías

I content myself that some day
the owner of this poor grocery store
will make paper funnels
out of my writings
to wrap up his sugar and his coffee
for people of the future
who now for obvious reasons
cannot savor his sugar or his coffee.



Translated by Darwin J. Flakoll

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Thoughtful Son

By Hal Sirowitz

I can't kill myself, Mother said,
because it's prohibited by Jewish law,
so I'm relying on you to do it for me,
& you've been doing a good job. You
already took a few days off my life
when you got mud on your shoes,
& left a trail of mud all over the house. I had
to get on my knees to scrub the floor,
& I thought to myself, My son is
only trying to be kind, he's shortening
my life so I won't have to worry
about old age, but if he really cared
about me, he'd put an end to me right now.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Meditation on the Adjournment of Congress

By Robert Laughlin

A rolling stone
gathers no moss
and
a vacant Capitol
codifies no idiocy.



Robert Laughlin lives in Chico, California. His poems have appeared in Bryant Literary Review, Camroc Press Review, elimae, The Orange Room Review, and Pearl. His website can be found here

Sunday, November 6, 2011

"And these are Hagar's poems to this very day"

By Anda Pinkerfeld-Amir

There in your tent, carpets are spread out,
caressed by the palms of your feet.
Every cord and thread, I wove myself,
every blossom raised from the mass of
      threads -
my song of fingers for you.
Every flower, made magic by my love
to gladden your soul.

And how can these carpets soften for you,
how can your eyes drink the bounty of their
      colors?
How is it that the petals don't burst
into blazing flame,
consuming your legs?
How can you walk complacently
on the blessing of my hands,
sent to you in my carpet,
your tranquility unconsumed by the wailing
      of leaves,
weeping over my disgrace?

Translated by Wendy Zierler

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Because You Asked about the Line between Prose and Poetry

By Howard Nemerov

Sparrows were feeding in a freezing drizzle
That while you watched turned into pieces of snow
Riding a gradient invisible
From silver aslant to random, white, and slow.
There came a moment that you couldn't tell.
And then they clearly flew instead of fell.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Careful with that axe, Eugene

By Bob Kemp

Careful with that axe, Eugene,
Don't let it split your shin.
You are mad and very sick;
Don't let it fall again.

Don't take it near the dog.
Don't you bash your brain.
You know you killed the pesky cat;
you diced it in the rain.

You've been to Salem once,
Don't want to go again.
They shock you with electricity;
and make you, oh, so sane.

So be careful with that axe.
You never want to fall.
Or bleed great pools of crimson blood;
and die right in the hall.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Eulogy

By Paul Guest

So that this will seem like words between
old friends, I'll say it was painless
And quick. I'll say it was mercy
and behind my face where I put
things like The Truth and dreams about
supernovae, I'll try to mean it
But it was his time, we should all admit
Shouldn't we, who loved him
the way we love traffic
and cell phones during spectacular sex
and the degradations of puberty
shouldn't we all feel
as though light were swelling within us,
inflaming us? Tell me where
you were when you heard
but tell me later, much later,
the kind of later mathematicians get excited about
By then memory will have torn
away from my body like a scab
I'll no longer have to pick at
and I'll listen to you like a stethoscope.
It will be good for my heart.
It will be good for your heart.
In the air of that deferred spring
we'll be healthy, speaking
of an ancient wound neither of us
really remember, except
that by starlight we promised
to honor this question mark
in the periodic sentence of our lives.
Whatever you say, remember
that we cried. The dead love that we weep.
that we stain ourselves with
salt, that we become for a moment
indistinguishable from the sea,
that our shining faces rock with grief.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Familiar

By Eve Lyons

“I just know I’m going to hell,” she says.
because she can’t help staring
at all the young studious men
wearing kipot.
She’s fascinated, and I don’t blame her,
even though if I were gawking at all the
strong Black men strolling,
she’d be offended.
But I’m staring, too.
I’m so in love
with the idea that even in this country
where I often feel at war
I can see my own tribe,
recognize it, smile, know that it’s there
whether I show up or not.
In college in Portland, Oregon
I’d wander the mall with David.
It was the only place
he could find dark skin,
even if there were very few
named Morales or Garcia.
He couldn’t stand to be around
a sea of white faces,
any more than I can live
surrounded by churches
without feeling something choking me.
It’s like coming across a map,
finding your way to
diversity flags and pink triangles
in a city you’ve only known three days.
It’s good to find yourself
far from where you left her.

Previously published in Contemporary World Literature, February 2011

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Noah

By Rivka Miriam

Noah installed wheels on his ark
dragging it after him
in case the flood suddenly returned.
Grapevines, noticing fins on his temples
and shiny scales at the opening of his shirt,
turned into raisins, dried out their juices
to ease his fear of their drowning wetness.
Noah installed wheels on his ark
and when the children hung from its side-poles
    for a ride
Noah lovingly offered them brittle clods
    of Ararat.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Mexico City Blues [113th Chorus]

By Jack Kerouac

Got up and dressed up
     and went out & got laid
Then died and got buried
     in a coffin in the grave,
Man—
     Yet everything is perfect,
Because it is empty,
Because it is perfect
     with emptiness,
Because it's not even happening.

Everything
Is Ignorant of its own emptiness—
Anger
Doesn't like to be reminded of fits—

You start with the Teaching
     Inscrutable of the Diamond
And end with it, your goal
     is your startingplace,
No race was run, no walk
     of prophetic toenails
Across Arabies of hot
     meaning—you just
     numbly don't get there

Thursday, October 27, 2011

At a Window

By Carl Sandburg

Give me hunger,
O you gods that sit and give
The world its orders.
Give me hunger, pain and want,
Shut me out with shame and failure
From your doors of gold and fame,
Give me your shabbiest, weariest hunger!

But leave me a little love,
A voice to speak to me in the day end,
A hand to touch me in the dark room
Breaking the long loneliness.
In the dusk of day-shapes
Blurring the sunset,
One little wandering, western star
Thrust out from the changing shores of shadow.
Let me go to the window,
Watch there the day-shapes of dusk
And wait and know the coming
Of a little love.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hero

By Jason E. Hodges

Vietnam was a bitch
That war slipped home in the spirits of our fathers
Our brothers
Our uncles
Stepping off that plane your shadow seemed to be a little darker
For darkness was consuming your shadow turning it a different shade of black
Your smile had all but faded
Your eyes constantly combing the treetops afraid a shot would ring out
Yet we kept loving you unconditionally
Even when the madness danced in your eyes
Long wooded walks with you were almost an impossible feat
For even as a child I could see the shadows call out to you
You did what you had to do
At least this is what you told yourself to make it seem right
But there’s nothing right about war
Then came the drinking
Trying to wash it all away
Drown out the voices you heard in the night
Stop the snakes from coming out of the walls of our home
A home that was supposed to protect you, could protect you no longer
For the beast at the bottom of the bottle only fueled the nightmares
Then came the outburst of tears at dinner
if it tasted too much like rations
But hell, beans were all you could afford after the war
The war that never stopped in your thinking
Like a road without any end and no stop sign in sight
Like a sea without land the flashbacks kept coming
Relentless in the depths of your mind
Until the flag was folded into the triangle of honor
Given to our family to smooth the teardrops of sadness
One more hero gone from the fight.

Jason Hodges began writing in 1989. Shortly after he began, he saw the movie Drugstore Cowboy with William S. Burroughs. He would go on to discover Charles Bukowski, Harry Crews, Anais Nin, and Anne Sexton. His work can be found at The Fringe, The Camel Saloon, Indigo Rising, The Dirt Worker's Journal, Daily Love, The Rainbow Rose, Dead Snakes, Books on Blog, The Second Hump, and Cross TIME Science Fiction Anthonlogies Volumes 8, 9, and 10. He also interviewed Harry Crews for Our Town Gainesville Edition, Spring 2011.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Why We Are Truly a Nation

By William Matthews

Because we rage inside
the old boundaries,
like a young girl leaving the Church,
scared of her parents.

Because we all dream of saving
the shaggy, dung-caked buffalo,
shielding the herd with our bodies.

Because grief unites us,
like the locked antlers of moose
who die on their knees in pairs.

Friday, October 21, 2011

For Strong Women

By Marge Piercy

A strong woman is a woman who is straining
A strong woman is a woman standing
on tiptoe and lifting a barbell
while trying to sing "Boris Godunov."
A strong woman is a woman at work
cleaning out the cesspool of the ages,
and while she shovels, she talks about
how she doesn't mind crying, it opens
the ducts of the eyes, and throwing up
develops the stomach muscles, and
she goes on shoveling with tears in her nose.

A strong woman is a woman in whose head
a voice is repeating, I told you so,
ugly, bad girl, bitch, nag, shrill, witch,
ballbuster, nobody will ever love you back,
why aren't you feminine, why aren't
you soft, why aren't you quiet, why aren't you dead?

A strong woman is a woman determined
to do something others are determined
not be done. She is pushing up on the bottom
of a lead coffin lid. She is trying to raise
a manhole cover with her head, she is trying
to butt her way through a steel wall.
Her head hurts. People waiting for the hole
to be made say, hurry, you're so strong.

A strong woman is a woman bleeding
inside. A strong woman is a woman making
herself strong every morning while her teeth
loosen and her back throbs. Every baby,
a tooth, midwives used to say, and now
every battle a scar. A strong woman
is a mass of scar tissue that aches
when it rains and wounds that bleed
when you bump them and memories that get up
in the night and pace in boots to and fro.

A strong woman is a woman who craves love
like oxygen or she turns blue choking.
A strong woman is a woman who loves
strongly and weeps strongly and is strongly
terrified and has strong needs. A strong woman is strong
in words, in action, in connection, in feeling;
she is not strong as a stone but as a wolf
suckling her young. Strength is not in her, but she
enacts it as the wind fills a sail.

What comforts her is others loving
her equally for the strength and for the weakness
from which it issues, lightning from a cloud.
Lightning stuns. In rain, the clouds disperse.
Only water of connection remains,
flowing through us. Strong is what we make
each other. Until we are all strong together,
a strong woman is a woman strongly afraid.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Our Spot

By Tammy Ann Burley

Dust surrounds the area that once was.
Our spot now lies under ash.
I look at our place.
And remember what once stood.
A big tall tree.
Where acorns would fall.
A bench underneath.
Were we would sit and talk.
Hours would pass.
Neither of us wanted to make that walk.
We hated saying goodbye.
You hated seeing the tears I shed as we cried.
We know it’s over.
I walked back to our spot.
I look around and close my eyes.
Remembering the past.
Wishing what we had could have last.
Now that dream is dead.
I set fire to that tree.
I killed our spot.
Along with you and me.



Tammy Ann Burley is an undergraduate student studying English. She was published in The Anthology of Poetry when she was 15, and a few other poetry sites online since then. She loves writing and hopes to continue to write throughout her life. She hopes people enjoy her work.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Exquisite Politics

By Denise Duhamel and Maureen Seaton

The perfect voter has a smile but no eyes,
maybe not even a nose or hair on his or her toes,
maybe not even a single sperm cell, ovum, little paramecium.
Politics is a slug copulating in a Poughkeepsie garden.
Politics is a grain of rice stuck in the mouth
of a king. I voted for a clump of cells,
anything to believe in, true as rain, sure as red wheat.
I carried my ballots around like smokes, pondered big questions,
resources and need, stars and planets, prehistoric
languages. I sat on Alice's mushroom in Central Park,
smoked longingly in the direction of the mayor's mansion.
Someday I won't politic anymore, my big heart will stop
loving America and I'll leave her as easy as a marriage,
splitting our assets, hoping to get the advantage
before the other side yells: Wow! America,
Vespucci's first name and home of free and brave, Te amo.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Equinox

By Joy Harjo

I must keep from breaking into the story by force
for if I do I will find myself with a war club in my hand
and the smoke of grief staggering toward the sun,
your nation dead beside you.

I keep walking away though it has been an eternity
and from each drop of blood
springs up sons and daughters, trees,
a mountain of sorrows, of songs.

I tell you this from the dusk of a small city in the north
not far from the birthplace of cars and industry.
Geese are returning to mate and crocuses have
broken through the frozen earth.

Soon they will come for me and I will make my stand
before the jury of destiny. Yes, I will answer in the clatter
of the new world, I have broken my addiction to war
and desire. Yes, I will reply, I have buried the dead

and made songs of the blood, the marrow.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Perfect

By Christy C.

She drives an hour away
So she can work in a diner
For some extra cash
And not have the other moms know
She isn’t perfect
He walks to school every day
So his classmates won’t know
That he lives in a trailer park
And isn’t as well-off as he seems
He isn’t perfect
They cover their faces in make-up
To pretend they are flawless
So everyone will notice their beauty
A lie they don’t need to tell
They aren’t perfect
The rows of colored houses
Spaced evenly apart
So seemingly perfect
They hide people inside
Ashamed of their imperfections.


Previously published in Teen Ink magazine.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Untitled

By Mary Bowen

I put the grey fur on. Some folk say
just playin possum: no see the cling
from the weakest branch, hold
and sway, whimper and sweat.
Only a smudge in the dust too still,
with a silent body and a rat-like tail--
all too quiet not to be baby doll cries,
my voice box livin at the end of a string.


Mary Bowen is a Boston-based writer with a background in theater and film studies. Her film reviews have appeared in the journal Cineaste and her poetry in Seton Hill University's art and literary magazine Eye Contact.

Monday, October 10, 2011

How a Synagogue Board is Like a Sukkah

By Michael Jackman

Reconstructed annually,
sometimes made with butt ends,
points hammered in.
Occasionally you want to screw it,
and always, it seems, the roof must be fixed.
If badly constructed it leans to one side;
splinters form.
When it sits upright and is kosher,
it’s open-ended, and lets in air and light.

Published by Scribblers on the Roof, Oct 20 2010

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Archaic Torso of Apollo

By Rainer Maria Rilke

We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast's fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.

Translated by Stephen Mitchell

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Bippolo Seed

By Dr. Seuss

One bright sunny day, a young duck named McKluck
Had a wonderful, wonderful piece of good luck.
He was walking along when he spied on the ground
A marvelous thing that is quite seldom found.
'Twas a small silver box. And it looked mighty old
And on top of the box, it was written in gold:
"Who finds this rare box will be lucky, indeed,
For inside this box is a Bippolo Seed!
Plant it and wish! And then count up to three!
Whatever you wish for, whatever it be
Will sprout and grow out of a Bippolo Tree!"
"Well!" thought the duck. "Well, now, what do you know!
I just have to wish, and my wishes will grow.
Now, what'll I wish for...? Now, what do I need...?
Don't need very much...only food for my feed.
So I wish," said the duck as he opened his beak,
"I wish for some duck food. Enough for a week."
Then he dug a quick hole. But before he could drop
The seed in the ground, a loud voice shouted, "Stop!"
The duck looked around and he saw a big cat.
"Now why," asked the cat, "did you wish for just that?
One week's worth of duck food! Pooh! That's not enough.
Why, I'd wish for five hundred pounds of the stuff!"
"But, gosh," said the duck with the Bippolo Seed,
"Five hundred pounds is much more than I need."
"But that's just the point," said the cat. "For you see,
When you grow all that food on your Bippolo Tree,
You can go into business...in business with me!
We'll sell all that food. You'll be rich!" laughed the kitty.
"Why, you'll be the richest young duck in this city!"
"Hmm...," said the duck, and he wrinkled his brow.
"I never thought much about money till now.
But, golly, you're right.
With some money, gee whiz,
Why, I'd be the happiest
duck that there is!
I'll wish for that food." But the cat called, "Not yet!
We'll think of some more things to wish for, I'll bet.
Why, I know a very nice thing you could wish . . .
A tree that grows duck food could also grow fish!
Wish six hundred fish to grow out of the ground
And we'll sell those fish at a dollar a pound!
Now, a dollar a pound is a very high rate.
Say, you'll be the richest young duck in this state!"
"Why, sure!" smiled the duck. "I most certainly will!"
"But, Duck," said the cat, "you can be richer still!
Why wish for a little? Why not for a lot?
The bigger the wish, the more money you've got!"
"That's right!" clucked the duck, and he chuckled with glee.
"I'll wish for some oysters to grow on my tree!
I'll wish for my tree to grow doughnuts and crullers!
I'll wish for my tree to grow skates and umbrellas!"
"Fine," cheered the cat. "Now you're doing just grand.
Say! You'll be the richest young duck in this land!"
"You wait!" bragged the duck. "I'll do better than that.
You listen to this!" he called out to the cat.
"I'll wish for ten bicycles made out of pearls!
And eight hundred muffs that we'll sell to small girls!
I'll wish for some eyeglasses! Nine hundred pair!
And one thousand shirts made of kangaroo hair!
A ton of stuffed olives, with cherries inside!
And ten tons of footballs, with crocodile hide!
We'll sell them for cash in our wonderful store
In the Notions Department. The forty-ninth floor."
Then he took a deep breath, and he wished for still more...
"I wish," yelled the duck, and he started to scream,
"For eight thousand buckets of purple ice cream!
A trunk full of toothpaste! A big kitchen sink!
And lots of brass keyholes! And gallons of ink!
I wish for two boatloads of Baked Boston Beans!
And, also, nine carloads of sewing machines!"
Then his mouth started steaming, his tongue got so hot.
But the more that he wished, the more greedy he got.
"I wish," shrieked the duck, "for a million silk towels!
And three million cages for very big owls!
And forty-five thousand, two hundred and two
Hamburger buns! And a bottle of glue!
And four million satin-lined red rubber boots!
And five million banjos! And six million flutes!
Oranges! Apples! And all kinds of fruits!
And nine billion Hopalong Cassidy suits!
Yes, that's what I wish for, by Jimminy Gee!
And when they sprout out on my Bippolo Tree,
Say, I'll be the richest young duck in this world!"
And he got so excited, he whirled and he twirled!
And that duck got so dizzy and crazy with greed
That he waved both his arms, and the Bippolo Seed
Slipped out of his fist and flew high in the sky
And it landed "Kerplunk!" in a river nearby!
Then it sank in the river and drifted away.
And that cat and that duck, all the rest of that day,
Dived deep in that river, but never did see
A trace of the Seed of the Bippolo Tree.
And the chances are good that this greedy pair never
Will find such a wonderful seed again, ever.
But if they should find one, that cat and that duck
Won't wish for so much. And they'll have better luck.


Excerpted from The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Subterranean Homesick Blues

By Bob Dylan

Johnny's in the basement
Mixing up the medicine
I’m on the pavement
Thinking about the government
The man in the trench coat
Badge out, laid off
Says he’s got a bad cough
Wants to get it paid off
Look out kid
It’s somethin’ you did
God knows when
But you’re doin’ it again
You better duck down the alleyway
Lookin’ for a new friend
The man in the coon-skin cap
and the big pen
Wants eleven dollar bills
You only got ten
Maggie comes fleet foot
Face full of black soot
Talkin’ that the heat put
Plants in the bed but
The phone’s tapped anyway
Maggie says that many say
They must bust in early May
Orders from the D.A.
Look out kid
Don’t matter what you did
Walk on your tiptoes
Don’t try “No-Doz”
Better stay away from those
That carry around a fire hose
Keep a clean nose
Watch the plain clothes
You don’t need a weatherman
To know which way the wind blows
Get sick, get well
Hang around a inkwell
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin’ to sell
Try hard, get barred
Get back, write braille
Get jailed, jump bail
Join the army, if you fail
Look out kid
You’re gonna get hit
By users, cheaters
Six-time losers
Hang around the theaters
Girl by the whirlpool
Lookin’ for a new fool
Don’t follow leaders
Watch the parkin’ meters
Get born, keep warm
Short pants, romance, learn to dance
Get dressed, get blessed
Try to be a success
Please her, please him, buy gifts
Don’t steal, don’t lift
Twenty years of schoolin’
And they put you on the day shift
Look out kid
They keep it all hid
Better jump down a manhole
Light yourself a candle
Don’t wear sandals
Try to avoid the scandals
Don’t wanna be a bum
You better not chew gum
The pump don’t work
’Cause the vandals took the handles

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Without a map

By Lori D'Angelo

He likes to play with wrappers.
We've used his Playskool cardboard box
               as a dumping place.
In some city, somewhere, people are starving.
Our refrigerator seems always to be filled
with moldy cheese. My son is ripping up
directions, likes to discover on his own.
I tell myself I can't write here.
That is my excuse for the long stretching
noise of television that strains our living
room, most days. My son is teaching me
about line breaks. I never know when
a thing should end.


Previously published in Literary Mama, September 3, 2011

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fortunate one

By DJ Bobozurdia

Fortunate son,
lucky and I know it.
Once a long time ago
loved, and loved ever since.

Fortunate one,
not making the best of it.
Thrice in a lifetime opportunity
lost, when will another come?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Yell Fire!

By Michael Franti

A revolution never comes with a warning
A revolution never sends you an omen
A revolution just arrived like the morning
Ring the alarm we come to wake up the snoring

They tellin' you to never worry about the future
They tellin' you to never worry about the torture
They tellin' you that you'll never see the horror
Spend it all today and we will bill you tomorrow
Three piece suits and bank accounts in Bahamas
Wall street crime will never send you to the slammer
Tell all the children in the arms of their mamas
The F-15 is a homicide bomber

TV commercials for a pop a pill culture
Drug companies circling like a vulture
An Iraqi baby with a G.I. Joe father
Ten years from now is anybody gonna bother?

Yell Fire, yo, yo, yo
Here we come here we come
Fire, yo, yo , yo, yo
Revolution a comin'
Fire, yo, yo, yo, yo
Fire, yo, yo, yo, yo

Everyone addicted to the same nicotine
Everyone addicted to the same gasoline
Everyone addicted to a technicolor screen
Everybody tryin' to get their hands on the same green
From the banks of the river to the banks of the greedy
All of the riches taken back by the needy
We come from the country and we come from the city
You play us on the record, you can play us on the CD

All the shit you've given us is fertilizer
The seeds that we planted you can never brutalize them
Tell the corporations they can never globalize it
Like Peter Tosh said Legalize it

Girls and boys hear the bass and treble
Rumble in the speakers and it make you wanna rebel
Throw your hands up, take it to another level
And you can never, ever, ever make a deal with the devil

Yell Fire, yo, yo, yo
Here we come here we come
Fire, yo, yo, yo, yo
Revolution is a comin'
Fire, yo, yo, yo, yo
Fire, yo, yo, yo, yo

Video of this song found here.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Zucchini Shofar

By Sarah Lindsay

No animals were harmed in the making of this joyful noise:
A thick, twisted stem from the garden
is the wedding couple's ceremonial ram's horn.
Its substance will not survive one thousand years,
nor will the garden, which is today their temple,
nor will their names, nor their union now announced
with ritual blasts upon the zucchini shofar.
Shall we measure blessings by their duration?
Through the narrow organic channel fuzzily come
the prescribed sustained notes, short notes, rests.
All that rhythm requires. Among their talents,
the newlyweds excel at making
and serving mustard-green soup and molasses cookies,
and taking nieces and nephews for walks in the woods.
The gardener dyes eggs with onion skins,
wraps presents, tells stories, finds the best seashells;
his friends adore his paper-cuttings—
"Nothing I do will last," he says.
What is this future approval we think we need;
who made passing time our judge?
Do we want butter that endures for ages,
or butter that melts into homemade cornbread now?
—the note that rings in my deaf ear without ceasing,
or two voices abashed by the vows they undertake?
This moment's chord of earthly commotion
will never be struck exactly so again—
though love does love to repeat its favorite lines.
So let the shofar splutter its slow notes and quick notes,
let the nieces and nephews practice their flutes and trombones,
let living room pianos invite unwashed hands,
let glasses of different fullness be tapped for their different notes,
let everyone learn how to whistle,
let the girl dawdling home from her trumpet lesson
pause at the half-built house on the corner,
where the newly installed maze of plumbing comes down
to one little pipe whose open end she can reach,
so she takes a deep breath
and makes the whole house sound.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ave Maria

By Frank O'Hara

Mothers of America
                                         let your kids go to the movies!
get them out of the house so they won't know what you're up to
it's true that fresh air is good for the body
                                                            but what about the soul
that grows in darkness, embossed by silvery images
and when you grow old as grow old you must
                                                                          they won't hate you
they won't criticize you they won't know
                                                           they'll be in some glamorous country
they first saw on a Saturday afternoon or playing hookey

they may even be grateful to you
                                                          for their first sexual experience
which only cost you a quarter
                                             and didn't upset the peaceful home
they will know where candy bars come from
                                                              and gratuitous bags of popcorn
as gratuitous as leaving the movie before it's over
with a pleasant stranger whose apartment is in the Heaven on Earth Bldg
near the Williamsburg Bridge
                                             oh mothers you will have made the little tykes
so happy because if nobody does pick them up in the movies
they won't know the difference
                                                  and if somebody does it'll be sheer gravy
and they'll have been truly entertained either way
instead of hanging around the yard
                                                       or up in their room
                                                                  hating you
prematurely since you won't have done anything horribly mean yet
except keeping them from the darker joys
                                                                      it's unforgivable the latter
so don't blame me if you won't take this advice
                                                                         and the family breaks up
and your children grow old and blind in front of a TV set
                                                                                  seeing
movies you wouldn't let them see when they were young

Monday, September 26, 2011

Security

By William Stafford

Tomorrow will have an island. Before night
I always find it. Then on to the next island.
These places hidden in the day separate
and come forward if you beckon.
But you have to know they are there before they exist.
Some time there will be a tomorrow without any island.
So far, I haven't let that happen, but after
I'm gone others may become faithless and careless.
Before them will tumble the wide unbroken sea,
and without any hope they will stare at the horizon.
So to you, Friend, I confide my secret:
to be a discoverer you hold close whatever
you find, and after a while you decide
what it is. Then, secure in where you have been,
you turn to the open sea and let go.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Traffic Jam

By Maria Sudibyo

Which side do you choose?
To the left, or to the right
Don't say you're still in your place
We should solve this problem
Or stuck in this bloody road
Do you think I want surrender?
Or you plea me for forgiveness
Don't underestimate me
Because I still have the power to control
Where are you going?
Should I step first,
Or you gonna move forward
We are facing each other like mirror
And second later it will be shattered
I can escape from you
But I need to surpass and see if I could
So let's break the ice and fight
Which side do you want to move?
We are two stubborn people
I live in my world, you live in your world
Our meeting is an irony
Go get out from my way
Or should I push you from this game
We running out the time in this passageway
Where are you going to choose?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Can You Say Kaddish For the Living?

By Keith Tornheim

Can you say Kaddish for the living? -
the living who lost their lives
through broken synapses
or neurons clogged or tangled,
whatever it takes
the let the memories leak out.
Can you mourn with them,
holding their warm hands,
seeing their eyes that know sometimes
or maybe have forgotten you
and all they did before?
Can you grieve while they still walk,
run out of tears before they leave,
so the Kaddish is an echo
from its time within your heart?
When should you speak the words aloud,
praising God in your anguish?

Can you say Kaddish for the living?


Previously published in Poetica, Fall 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

Why I Unplug On Shabbat

By Eve Lyons

It's not out of Orthodoxy,
It's the kavanah
not the halacha
which moves me.
It's good for my soul
to turn off Facebook,
Blogger, Gmail, Skype
for one day.
It's good to go out into the salt marsh
where the frogs croak louder
than any person, bird, or car
It's good to remember what
we came here for,
to this refuge
of wildlife
herons, chipmunks, deer,
muskrat, hawks, and us.
This keeps me going
This sustains me.

Published in Poetica, Fall 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My Final Journey

By Ronald W. Clark Jr.

I'm strapped to a gurney
For my final journey
For all to see
Premeditated homicide
is what it will be
The liquid will flow
Through the I.V. below
My eyes will shut
My lungs will collapse
and my heart will burst
and my body will be driven off
in a pearly white hearse.
In the name of Justice
is what they will cry
but the justice they seek
was nothing more than a lie.
For it was all quite phony
with False testimony
the trial was a sham
yes, one big scam.
For I had no support
From the U.S. Court
who assigned me Mr. Davis
an incompetent attorney
and that's why I'm off
on my Final Journey.


Previously published in Poems from Death Row

Ronald Clark is on death row in Florida.  With the cooperation of someone on the outside, his experiences are documented here.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Polymastic Goddess

By Eric G. Müller

Hardly anybody bothers
to come here much
and the few who do
step off the bus for seconds
then quickly retreat
to the tinted interior
of AC cooled comfort
or get chased away
by hissing geese
that guard the grounds’
grassy threshold
of toppled pillars and
abandoned boulders
with gendarme authority

Hard to think
this morass of a place
midst nature’s budding sprawl
topped the mythic list
of the ancient world’s
seven wonders
where only one solitary column
crowned with a scrappy nest
of sentinel stalks now remains
to remind us of Artemisia’s temple
the polymastic goddess
(sometimes said to be laced with bulls’ scrotal sacs)
who housed in its hallowed hidden cellar

Swallows swirl
and dive for insects
above the swamp
were turtles, frogs and water snakes
keep something alive
of the mysteries
that glow in the slow
revolving zodiac
behind nature’s wrap
which the hierophants
of Leto’s lush daughter
Apollo’s chaste sister
knew how to loosen and unravel
but now are lost


Eric G. Müller was born in Durban, South Africa, and studied literature and history at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Currently he is living in upstate New York, teaching music, drama, and English literature. He has written two novels, Rites of Rock (Adonis Press 2005) and Meet Me at the Met (Plain View Press, 2010), as well as a collection of poetry, Coffee on the Piano for You (Adonis Press, 2008). Poetry, articles and short stories have appeared in various journals, anthologies and magazines. www.ericgmuller.com.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Faith

By Eve Lyons

I envy them
their faith so clear,
their path pre-destined,
uncomplicated.
I see them
walking to and from shul
wearing their black hats
black blazers
white shirts
and peiyot.
I see the women in the supermarket
They always looks serene
even with four children in tow,
even without access to the Torah
where, for me,
the excitement is.
I understand the appeal
Jonah saw in their life
Yet it seems so far away,
so impossible.
I too went to Israel
studied with the Orthodox,
heard the urgency to make aliyah.
Yet I walked away
knowing if I didn’t,
it would reject me.
Whether because of the woman
by my side
or her Catholic upbringing,
or my own father’s
lack of membership in this club,
one way or the other
I would be rejected.
There can be no faith
without acceptance.
There can be no acceptance
without faith.

Previously published in Contemporary World Literature, February 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

Some keep the Sabbath going to Church

By Emily Dickinson

Some keep the Sabbath going to Church --
I keep it, staying at Home --
With a Bobolink for a Chorister --
And an Orchard, for a Dome --

Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice --
I just wear my Wings --
And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,
Our little Sexton -- sings.

God preaches, a noted Clergyman --
And the sermon is never long,
So instead of getting to Heaven, at last --
I'm going, all along.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I Ran Out Naked In The Sun

By Jane Hirshfield

I ran out naked
in the sun
and who could blame me
who could blame

the day was warm

I ran out naked
in the rain
and who could blame me
who could blame

the storm

I leaned toward sixty
that day almost done
it thundered
then

I wanted more I
shouted More
and who could blame me
who could blame

had been before

could blame me
that I wanted more

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Maybe He’s Grateful but Get Out of His Way

By Deborah Keenan

The Siberian tiger leaps from the back of the truck:
He’d been caught in a snare, rescued by Russian students
Deep in the forest, tranquilized, observed, fitted with a radio
Collar, woken up as if from a human dream for tigers,
Driven back to the forest, the cage opened, the leap,
And gone.

Four hundred left. Poachers demented with greed
Want every part of the Siberian tiger but never
The whole tiger.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How Many, How Much

By Shel Silverstein

How many slams in an old screen door?
     Depends how loud you shut it.
How many slices in a bread?
     Depends how thin you cut it.
How much good inside a day?
     Depends how good you live 'em.
How much love inside a friend?
     Depends how much you give 'em.