Friday, June 29, 2012

The Genius Of The Crowd

By Charles Bukowski

there is enough treachery, hatred violence absurdity in the average
human being to supply any given army on any given day

and the best at murder are those who preach against it
and the best at hate are those who preach love
and the best at war finally are those who preach peace

those who preach god, need god
those who preach peace do not have peace
those who preach peace do not have love

beware the preachers
beware the knowers
beware those who are always reading books
beware those who either detest poverty
or are proud of it
beware those quick to praise
for they need praise in return
beware those who are quick to censor
they are afraid of what they do not know
beware those who seek constant crowds for
they are nothing alone
beware the average man the average woman
beware their love, their love is average
seeks average

but there is genius in their hatred
there is enough genius in their hatred to kill you
to kill anybody
not wanting solitude
not understanding solitude
they will attempt to destroy anything
that differs from their own
not being able to create art
they will not understand art
they will consider their failure as creators
only as a failure of the world
not being able to love fully
they will believe your love incomplete
and then they will hate you
and their hatred will be perfect

like a shining diamond
like a knife
like a mountain
like a tiger
like hemlock

their finest art

Thursday, June 28, 2012

What I Would Give

By Rafael Campo

What I would like to give them for a change
is not the usual prescription with
its hubris of the power to restore,
to cure; what I would like to give them, ill
from not enough of laying in the sun
not caring what the onlookers might think
while feeding some banana to their dogs—
what I would like to offer them is this,
not reassurance that their lungs sound fine,
or that the mole they’ve noticed change is not
a melanoma, but instead of fear
transfigured by some doctorly advice
I’d like to give them my astonishment
at sudden rainfall like the whole world weeping,
and how ridiculously gently it
slicked down my hair; I’d like to give them that,
the joy I felt while staring in your eyes
as you learned epidemiology
(the science of disease in populations),
the night around our bed like timelessness,
like comfort, like what I would give to them.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


By Paula Meehan

The tide comes in; the tide goes out again
washing the beach clear of what the storm
dumped. Where there were rocks, today there is sand;
where sand yesterday, now uncovered rocks.

So I think on where her mortal remains
might reach landfall in their transmuted forms,
a year now since I cast them from my hand —
wanting to stop the inexorable clock.

She who died by her own hand cannot know
the simple love I have for what she left
behind. I could not save her. I could not
even try. I watch the way the wind blows
life into slack sail: the stress of warp against weft
lifts the stalling craft, pushes it on out.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


By Lisa Levine

I wondered
On the day of the counting
Why my husband
And his brothers
And their sons
Were numbered among
The stars of heaven
But my daughters and i
Were not even noticed
Doing the washing
Baking the bread
Raising our children
I wondered
Why I
The womb that held them

Monday, June 25, 2012

What to Do When Your Wife Comes Out As Gay

By Ryk McIntyre

The first thing you do is...  get out of the way, 
this isn’t about you. Don’t stop loving her, but
let go of the shape of marriage. It won’t be easy.
That’s the reason hard songs say "love hurts...
it’s a wide river, a high mountain made of hope
and looking like sunrise." And this is
every bit a new day for her. You love her.
Of course you do. That won’t change,

everything else will. If you’re angry, OK.
In a way, you were lied to all these years
when she late wept, “I don’t know
what's wrong." Was she lying? Maybe.
Forgive her anyway, think how hard it was,
living in a world that told her,
“You can have your dream of a daughter...
just marry a man and don’t be you.”
Imagine feeling like the loneliest girl in the world.

You were family before this, be family still. Cuddle up
on the couch to watch movies. You left hands will adapt
to the strange weight of missing rings. Remember
the day you swore “For better or worse”? I bet
you didn’t imagine this, but welcome to Life,
with all its color shifts. Rainbows
don’t make sense, either, but there they are.

Oh, and you live with a lesbian now...
... Get used to rainbows...

Unlock your arms and practice the skill of letting go.
Love is energy, Love matters. Like all energy & matter,
change is the only thing that stays. This can’t be easy
for you either. Yet – you’re still here, helping
her break cocoon even if only by standing on the side
of love while it changes shape. For better or worse,
you will always love her. So love her differently.
Share girlfriend stories. Hold each other, like family should.
Now your daughter has two beds she can crawl into
when she gets scared at night. She feels safe
in her world because she sees her parents changing
but still loving each other.  For better or worse,
you loved this woman as your wife,
before she needed to butterfly.

Why would you stop loving her now?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Each of us has a name

By Zelda

Each of us has a name
given by God
and given by our parents

Each of us has a name
given by our stature and our smile
and given by what we wear

Each of us has a name
given by our mountains
and given by our walls

Each of us has a name
given by the stars
and given by our neighbors

Each of us has a name
given by our sins
and given by our longing

Each of us has a name
given by our enemies
and given by our love

Each of us has a name
given by our celebrations
and given by our work

Each of us has a name
given by the seasons
and given by our blindness

Each of us has a name
given by the sea
and given by
our death.

Translated by Marcia Falk

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Spray of Water: Tanka

By Tada Chimako

the hot water in
the abandoned kettle
slowly cools
still carrying the resentment
of colder water

Translated by Jeffrey Angles

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


By Margaret Atwood

Love is not a profession
genteel or otherwise

sex is not dentistry
the slick filling of aches and cavities

you are not my doctor
you are not my cure,

nobody has that
power, you are merely a fellow/traveller

Give up this medical concern,
buttoned, attentive,

permit yourself anger
and permit me mine

which needs neither
your approval nor your surprise

which does not need to be made legal
which is not against a disease

but against you,
which does not need to be understood

or washed or cauterized,
which needs instead

to be said and said.
Permit me the present tense. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Hay for the Horses

By Gary Snyder

He had driven half the night
From far down San Joaquin
Through Mariposa, up the
Dangerous Mountain roads,
And pulled in at eight a.m.
With his big truckload of hay
          behind the barn.
With winch and ropes and hooks
We stacked the bales up clean
To splintery redwood rafters
High in the dark, flecks of alfalfa
Whirling through shingle-cracks of light,
Itch of haydust in the
          sweaty shirt and shoes.
At lunchtime under Black oak
Out in the hot corral,
---The old mare nosing lunchpails,
Grasshoppers crackling in the weeds---
"I'm sixty-eight" he said,
"I first bucked hay when I was seventeen.
I thought, that day I started,
I sure would hate to do this all my life.
And dammit, that's just what
I've gone and done."

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Spelling Father

By Marshall Soulful Jones

Last night I had the most interesting dream.
In it, I was six years old in a National Spelling Bee.
Complex words like...
All spelled with ease up until the final round
One word between me and victory
The spell master clears his throat
“Young Man, your word is...FATHER.”
The crowd began to chatter amongst themselves
Upset of the simplicity of this final word
I looked for those eyes
Those eyes that say everything is going to be okay, do it!
And I realized I dazed off
“Young man, your word is FATHER”
I stood up straight, licked my lips and began
Father, M-O-T-H-E-R, Father…
The spell master looks at me, looks back at his flash card and says
I’m sorry,  you’re incorrect
I don’t think you understand
my father is sitting right in the audience
“Excuse Me!”
I’m sorry son but you are incorrect
Well then  you sir can save your sorry apologies
because you must mean incorrect
as within the parameters of being right”
Let me explain something to you
Cuz obviously you aint grow up where poppas are rolling stones
down the hills of women’s backsides
and when he cums all he left us...was alone
Where minstrel men strolll on bikes
And fathers balanced their menstrual, 2 jobs, 2 kids and a life on a unicycle
And It looks something like this
Breastfeeding with one arm, phone on the shoulder, cooking with the other arm, cleaning with one leg, tying sneakers with their teeth
Young Fathers who make mistakes who could have aborted us or put us up for adoption but opted to carry us,
deliver us
Teach us to be better than they ever were
Do better than they ever did
But they’re not perfect, they do fall short
But the one mistake they do not make is abandoning their seeds
You see fathers are master gardeners
They Tend to every leaf
Removing the weeds
placing us in the windows of opportunity
so that we can lean towards the sun
So that we never forget that the sky is the limit
planting kisses on our cheeks
hugs on our backs
Growing their love on us the best way they know how
Like my father
My father sacrificed having nothing, so that I can have everything
My father walked a daily nightmare so that I can live my dreams
My father watered me with blood, sweat, and tears so that I can be ripe for the harvest
And I hope that one day I can be as great as a father as she was for me
You did not ask me spell to deadbeat sir!
but if you’d like dead beat here it is
F-a-t-h-e-r, d-a-d, p-o-p
P-o-p-s, if you’d like the slang
You asked me to spell father and father is, always has been, and always will be spelled
So Google it, show me your flash cards, open your dictionaries
What Webster says don’t mean shit around here, round here
my father is sitting right there
And I love her.

To hear this poem read aloud, click this link.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Advice to Young Poets

By Martín Espada

Never pretend
to be a unicorn
by sticking a plunger on your head.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

car poem

By tnasis

i think we find ourselves in our cars
i think we find owe are exactly the same
i have seen cars which groan and shout
out and demand the road's attention cars
that hug the asphalt beneath them cars
that dart between other cars cars that
hit themselves and cry my car has been
every one of these.

it is human nature to want to feel
contained our bodies hold us together
our clothes are the same the car we drive
is one more shell what if we all let go
let free if we all really knew what
everything was about what if we never
found our way back in what if we could fly?

once when i was very small too small
to drive i crept into my mother's car
and turned the key i sat alive to the
hum and knew instinctively that this
was all i really wanted to do i can
sit car in limbo i can sit very still
and continue to respect myself i do not
have to be anywhere anything soon this
place is only a waiting room this place
does not count against you.

imagine this: the car beside yours sits
like a knife on the road the one beside
it is exactly the same you know your own
car and the others around it sit in exactly
this way they are silver and exact and
they are all cutting machines doesn't
anyone know how scary this
sounds doesn't anyone know how scare this sounds?

i drive in radical spurts of stop and
go i learned the acceleration is on the
right the brake is on the left you
drive on the right side of the road
you can make a right turn on red and some
left turns are protected it is a metaphysical
belief that the right side of
a body releases energy and the left
side draws it all in       this makes sense.

there are the roads which curve into
other roads and there are the ones
that stretch so flat out and reach
without one glance back these are the
roads i like to drive i want to drive
foot on the gas drive with me right
foot on the right pedal drive until
i break through the gentle green skin
of the earth because they i will be flying.

Previous published in Bullseye, literary magazine of Douglas MacArthur High School, 1993

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

In Time of Silver Rain

By Langston Hughes

In time of silver rain
The earth
Puts forth new life again,
Green grasses grow
And flowers lift their heads,
And over all the plain
The wonder spreads
      Of life,
      of life,
      of life!
In time of silver rain
The butterflies
Lift silken wings
To catch a rainbow cry,
And trees put forth
New leaves to sing
In joy beneath the sky
As down the roadway
Passing boys and girls
Go singing, too,
In time of silver rain
      When spring
      And life
      Are new.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Little Boy and the Old Man

By Shel Silverstein

Said the little boy, "Sometimes I drop my spoon."
Said the old man, "I do that too."
The little boy whispered, "I wet my pants."
"I do that too," laughed the little old man.
Said the little boy, "I often cry."
The old man nodded, "So do I."
"But worst of all," said the boy, "it seems
Grown-ups don't pay attention to me."
And he felt the warmth of a wrinkled old hand.
"I know what you mean," said the little old man.

Monday, June 11, 2012

New Blues

By Peaches Ostalaza

Angered by the distance
Fearful of the truth
Not nearly as strong as you thought you were
So now you must deal with your self-made truce

Is that love in the back of your mind?
Pretending you don’t see it

You still have to face yourself when darkness falls on the skies
And there lies no one at your bedside—
You passed up true love for pride.

Hidden behind an identity you outgrew,
Evolution continued but you decided to wear the same old shoes
Didn’t want to face the news
But a different sound came when you sang the blues. 

Peaches Ostalaza is a West Indian studying English Literature and Psychology in the arctic of Western Pennsylvania at Seton Hill University. She was born on the island of St. Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands. Her poetry has appeared in The Nexxuss Vol. 17 and Quantum Poetry Online Magazine. She also has publications forthcoming in the summer issue of Black Magnolias Literary Journal, Eunoia Review, as well as the October issue of Milk Sugar.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


By Natasha Trethewey

What's left is footage: the hours before
     Camille, 1969—hurricane
          parties, palm trees leaning
in the wind,
     fronds blown back,

a woman's hair. Then after:
     the vacant lots, boats
     washed ashore, a swamp

where graves had been. I recall

how we huddled all night in our small house,
     moving between rooms,
          emptying pots filled with rain.

The next day, our house—
     on its cinderblocks—seemed to float
     in the flooded yard: no foundation

beneath us,
     nothing I could see tying us to the land.
     In the water, our reflection

when I bent to touch it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

How to Dig Nina

By Regie O'Hare Gibson

Abandon what you know about voice, brother-
What makes it and women beautiful…
And just put your hands into earth,
Close your eyes, and listen to alluvia, indigo root,
Coals bituminous narrative speaking the fossil wet womb.

Place an ear to your grandmothers back-
To where it bends at its most incurable angle.
Hear the holy conflagration of tambourines -
The orgied boot stomp holler - the sermoned ring shout
of ripened hands.

Wait. Wait until language un-shackles a tongue flame
Above your head. When this happens (as it always will) -
Your mouth will germinate a naked song.

That night,
Go bury that song in your lover
Until her breasts opalesce with milk, until her belly
Becomes blossom and mother note.

Monday, June 4, 2012

It gets More than Better

By James Caroline

Tall, southern, wetland eyes
pulled up from the kiss of mud
my favorite door swung open.
He walks in again and I can smell
the buttermilk
the slow rise of his mother realizing
she had something special.
Something to rise from the war and set
to the world and I imagine her, like my mother
teaching him to fight–

First, you remember everything. You watch
and you wait, angel
until their back isn’t turned.

He orders a dark beer, claims it’s
spiced, a wash of currant in common glass.
I can see the kitchen heave
blackened catfish, the new cock ring
a sheet-less air mattress where we leave it
dripping piss and cum.
There is a hollow in the cheek of those broken
a slick to the palm of those who grew up gun
drag race, cliff dive, who thought
they might kill me if I tell.
A black eyed prayer
just let me make it out of here alive
and here, this bed
moved between all those flight trails
gas stations and the truck drivers, kind
enough to say
Heading back to your family or running away from them?
Not that it matters.

Not that it matters.
But I wanna say, Mamma
he knows how to shoot.
I can smell the stilled wind in his chest hair
the thick a tide would leave.
I can feel the claw trap of his ass from 5 feet away
the way his nipples would butter my lips
his rise when I cross my legs to stay.

I am not afraid.
I am body and body and body.
I could be gone.
I am so far from gone.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Poem That Took The Place Of A Mountain

By Wallace Stevens

There it was, word for word,
The poem that took the place of a mountain.

He breathed its oxygen,
Even when the book lay turned in the dust of his table.

It reminded him how he had needed
A place to go to in his own direction,

How he had recomposed the pines,
Shifted the rocks and picked his way among clouds,

For the outlook that would be right,
Where he would be complete in an unexplained completion:

The exact rock where his inexactness
Would discover, at last, the view toward which they had edged,

Where he could lie and, gazing down at the sea,
Recognize his unique and solitary home.