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.