A Murder is a Mistaken Name for a Group

By Francis Raven

your name was not the name of a tree
but of a bird
for political purposes
as a cudgel
to weigh down on another’s head

said Personally.  That is, the backhand
stuck far from the ass
to which it is still attached: nothing typical
from the inside, a finger’s sadness
noted vocation, moved on

 to agree his misreading the ending, especially

*Author’s bio: Francis Raven is a Washington, D.C., based poet whose books include the volumes of poetry Provisions (Interbirth, 2009), Shifting the Question More Complicated (Otoliths, 2007) and Taste: Gastronomic Poems (Blazevox, 2005), as well as the novel Inverted Curvatures (Spuyten Duyvil, 2005).  Her poems have been published in Bath House, Chain, Big Bridge, Bird Dog, Mudlark, Caffeine Destiny, and Spindrift, among others, and her critical work can be found in Jacket, Logos, Clamor, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, The Electronic Book Review, The Emergency Almanac, The Morning News, The Brooklyn Rail, 5 Trope, In These Times, The Fulcrum Annual, Rain Taxi and Flak.

Published in: on November 4, 2009 at 4:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

this ain’t no tango

By John Grochalski

on the morning ice
i’m carrying two
magnum bottles of red wine,
and one of scotch.
it isn’t even noon yet.
i step carefully
because each step i take
could mean the end
of my bundle
on these neglected streets.
and then what?
coping with the day
like everyone else?
to hell with that.
i’m nimble like a ballerina.
unemployable
and i don’t care.
on potomac street
i pass an old lady
who’s in a hurry.
she’s sliding on the concrete.
i want to do the right thing
and catch her
if she falls,
but i know i won’t
because i can’t lose
the booze, man.
thankfully she makes it.
i give her a sympathetic smile
and she frowns at me.
i’m just another of
society’s letdowns to her.
then i do a pirouette
and head up
the apartment steps
to get to work on the first
bottle.

*Author’s bio: John Grochalski is a writer from Brooklyn, New York, whose poems have appeared in the publications The Smoking Poet, The American Dissident, Lilliput Review and Blue Collar Review, among many others. His column “The Lost Yinzer” appears quarterly in The New Yinzer (www.newyinzer.com), and his book of poems The Noose Doesn’t Get Any Looser After You Punch Out (2008) is out via Six Gallery Press. His chapbook, Meditations On Misery With Women, is due out this fall from Zygote In My Coffee Press.

Published in: on September 28, 2009 at 12:55 am  Leave a Comment  

beer, wine, and a basement life

By John Grochalski

i hear two women from my building
talking outside
my living room window.

“have you seen the basement today?” one asks.

“no.”

“there are mountains of wine bottles
down there again, all with french names,
and not the good stuff, either.”

“rotgut?”

“yeah. and bags full of beer cans.
just the worst kind of swill.

“i wonder who it is that can
shove it all down?”

“i don’t know. but it’s a damned
shame, wasting their life like that.”

and then the women get to talking
about their kids, the weather,
and grocery shopping.
their conversation becomes mundane
as all conversations become mundane
until there is no more to say
and then it stops.
they have forgotten all about the
beer and wine bottles in the basement.
but i haven’t.
and as i continue to sit there, listening
for their next word, nursing a scotch,
and a beer and wine hangover,
i think i’ll probably fix another drink,
and then when that bottle is done
i’ll go and place it
with all of the others that i put
in the basement that morning,
and tomorrow those ladies will have
something else to talk about
to enrich their day.

*Author’s bio: John Grochalski is a writer from Brooklyn, New York, whose poems have appeared in the publications The Smoking Poet, The American Dissident, Lilliput Review and Blue Collar Review, among many others. His column “The Lost Yinzer” appears quarterly in The New Yinzer (www.newyinzer.com), and his book of poems The Noose Doesn’t Get Any Looser After You Punch Out (2008) is out via Six Gallery Press. His chapbook, Meditations On Misery With Women, is due out this fall from Zygote In My Coffee Press.

Published in: on September 28, 2009 at 12:51 am  Leave a Comment  

the way it should be

By Ivan Jenson

 

someone younger

some home larger

definitely more money

clothing finer

spirituality more starkly divine,

loads of time, like clean clothing stacked

body firm

skin pulled tight

eyesight sharper

feedback positive

incoming calls frequent,

visitors

inquiries

checks

and praise

flowing

 

this is the way it should be

 

*Author’s bio: Ivan Jenson is an artist/writer/poet born in Los Angeles and raised in a family of artists. He produced his first sculpture – which was ultimately used as a model for a poster for the National Museum of Costa Rica – at age 9. Drawn to New York City, he began creating and selling his “Picassoesque” portraits on the streets of SoHo at the age of 15. A friend of Malcolm Forbes, late publisher of Forbes magazine, Jenson was commissioned to paint what was to be his last portrait. Jenson has also been commissioned to paint for an Absolut Vodka advertising campaign and has had work purchased by Philip Morris for its corporate headquarters. Having collaborated with Keith Haring and having works recently sold at auction at Christie’s New York, it is Jenson’s intention to expand into other markets both stateside and abroad.

Published in: on March 16, 2009 at 2:17 am  Leave a Comment  

the perpetual flux

By Ruth E. Dominguez

 

the spiritual bargain

was enigmatic,

regal views

of

vicissitudes and platitudes,

dusk –

            a sacred thing…

purple moods

bubbling like

champagne

and

our betrothed ideas –

            allusion, not illusion,

            contemplate, not complicate –

languored

in gusty daylight…

your weighty

gifts

spoke to me

in their

lavish sobriety,

I aligned

myself

to your

inner stories

with haphazardness

and cunning,

you responded

in deft

motion

of alacrity,

and I could no longer

know the difference

between our

half-cooked emotions

and flighty embellishments.

 

together,

shedding our

dismal vernacular,

we caught our breath

in perpetual flux.

 

*Author’s bio: Ruth E. Dominguez is a published author of nonfiction, short fiction and poetry. Her works have appeared in The Hub, Crossing Rivers in Twilight and The Common Line Project, among other publications. She has a B.A. in Latin American studies and performance and a M.A. in sociocultural anthropology. She currently works in education.

Published in: on March 13, 2009 at 2:29 am  Leave a Comment  

Woman of the Hour

By Ruth E. Dominguez

 

I woke to find you as a woman of the hour,

abstractly raised to the new standard,

inflated as a Thanksgiving Day parade balloon –

the new pop song, rhythmical and cute,

the marshmallow in my boyfriend’s cereal,

the Andy Warhol subject –

trying to frame me in a Joni Mitchell song,

            when really,

                        she was my friend before she was yours.

Your fair play is harmless like nursery school animal crackers

and draws blood like a stab in ultra-slow motion.

You measure my failure as if it were

the square-feet in your apartment;

evaluating me like a cheap ticket to the latest show.

            You would maybe tell me one day

the subtle techniques you use in phallacio

that are so sugary and gooey,

your worship of the phallic

that is hidden in contracts

and subtle negotiations,

that waste my time

            and send him

            limping home

            like a puppy hit by a truck,

the mental gymnastics that keep you entertained –

            the with-her-tonight, the with-me-tonight,

the on-the-bottom or on-the-top?

            The schoolgirl dream,

            the older man.

And I would believe you and say

“Yes, you are a page in my life…”

and this would perhaps leave you wondering

whether you are happy.

 

*Author’s bio: Ruth E. Dominguez is a published author of nonfiction, short fiction and poetry. Her works have appeared in The Hub, Crossing Rivers in Twilight and The Common Line Project, among other publications. She has a B.A. in Latin American studies and performance and a M.A. in sociocultural anthropology. She currently works in education.

Published in: on March 13, 2009 at 2:20 am  Leave a Comment  

[sic]Sarah(Lot)

By Torrence R. O’Haire

 

(he was also) too young for

love, she spent her

afternoons on the crowded

streets of West L.A.

dancing (with him – she was better)

in the evening and the requisite gossip

involved, (her friends liked him too)

but alas, she now lives too far from

the waves, (it was the best we could do)

out where the sun meets the cold concrete

three months in – and still walks in a

(he used to love when she wore)

midriff top(s) which she will

soon outgrow (but he forgets to look sometimes)

how strange it is to see a little girl making

dinner for her husband

(he forgets to thank her – remembers later, but alas),

who now works late hours

(and is too tired to go dancing)

they still make love

sometimes, yet (he) does not

catch her eyes (he looks away)

licks her cheek (it means “thank you.” Please understand.)

            she looks past him

and does (tries) not (to) notice how

it tastes of salt

(he will not lift his eyes.

(S)he will not lift his eyes.)

 

                                    (It means “I’m sorry.” Please understand.)

 

*Author’s bio: Torrence R. O’Haire is a Grand Rapids, Michigan, local. A successful playwright, he studied linguistics at Grand Valley State University and currently resides in West Michigan, where he teaches theatre and dance.

Published in: on March 12, 2009 at 3:28 am  Leave a Comment  

Requiem

By Torrence R. O’Haire

 

It was a Tuesday (I think)

When poetry died.

The lady in the tweed coat walked quickly by

And her husband sniffed a “Sorry, no…”

And so it was left sitting

Slouched against the

Dirty brick building

With just a paper cup

And a sign:

 

WILL ANALOGIZE FOR FOOD

 

But it tossed its last empty bourbon bottle behind it

And heard it pop in the alleyway.

The red wheelbarrow rusted, and

Its real owner took it to the hardware store for a new left handle. Now it

carries flats of

his wife’s petunias. Only petunias, no metaphors. Annabel’s seaside is now

prime real

estate, though I think they may have slapped a plaque on a post in a park

somewhere

around there. The two roads are paved; the one less-traveled is now a toll

way heading

toward Ohio and the other leads to the local Wal-Mart, where Pablo is a

greeter and

Longfellow is “employee of the month” (though I hear he only got it because

his manager

drank too much one night and told him things she shouldn’t have about her

marriage, and

now feels awkward). It was a Tuesday, or so (you always remembered better

than I).

But, for Tuesday’s sake, I suppose everything is fine. Cars still run, locks still

change,

new keys are cut, and there are new sheets on the bed – not to mention the

bakery on the

corner still makes those hazelnut things that we really like (although I find now

that I

lack the best words to describe them).

I stop there after work one rainy Wednesday evening, and pick up a

half-dozen, and a

loaf of bread. At home I chop onions and sage, boil pasta, and open wine –

just a cheap

Italian red, nothing special. I set out the rust-colored dishes, and the two forks

that don’t

match

A pair of wine glasses (that also don’t match)

And keep dinner warm for the next few minutes that I know you’re taking

To walk up the wet, ash-colored front steps of our building.

Tomorrow I have to run to the Wal-Mart

 on my way home from work

(I make a note of this)

But for now I’ll just wait for you.

And just before I hear your new key turn in the old lock,

I realize

That I’ve (accidentally) written a poem.

 

*Author’s bio: Torrence R. O’Haire is a Grand Rapids, Michigan, local. A successful playwright, he studied linguistics at Grand Valley State University and currently resides in West Michigan, where he teaches theatre and dance.

Published in: on March 12, 2009 at 3:20 am  Leave a Comment  

Promising, Tomorrow

By Terra Brigando

 

The morning sky offers little to hope for,

just another day reciting the different ways to conjugate

haben or sein. What ugly

words – not the France I wanted,

croissants at noon, a sheet of white silk

draped over a tanned shoulder, the elegance

of red wine on an evening swimming

in stars. My mother

 

is worried about me

and I know this. Even across the Atlantic I’m still

a little girl, crying in bathrooms with peeling wallpaper,

staring at the words on the edge

of the stall, “Anna fucked like a dog.” Such elegance.

Elegance being the idea of grace. The idea of a word

brought to life. Fucked

 

is what I say. My mother writes me e-mails –

don’t do anything to yourself, she says. I write

back, “I’m just waiting for the snow to melt, I just want

to go swimming.” Today starts out normal

 

but by nightfall my skin will have become transparent

and all lucidity will have left through my fingertips.

And slippery, these days, just doesn’t cut it. I slipped.

I’m slipping. Slipping to where? My mother asks. Not into

grace, that simple fool of a word. My heart

 

is slipping

slowly toward my feet. I can feel the weight of it

against my thighs, then my shins, the small triangles of bone

that are my ankles. Sopping heart. “I’m just waiting

to go swimming.” I’m just waiting for the sky to lift

from the ground, to offer me some sort

of hope. Like elegance wrapped in tissue paper, like the sun

peeking through the white, white sky, saying:

 

“No, the snow won’t hold you here for long,” and promising

“Tomorrow,” and “Yes, tomorrow you can go

swimming.”

 

*Author’s bio: Terra Brigando recently graduated from the University of Redlands with a B.A. in creative writing and had a poem published in the February issue of “decomP: a literary magazine.” She was the fiction editor of the university’s literary magazine, the “Redlands Review,” and has published various works in “Giraffe,” the university’s underground literary magazine.

Published in: on March 2, 2009 at 11:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Almost Incandescent Line

By Terra Brigando

 

And so, this is how I learn about myself – crying

in a bathroom stall at the Frankfurt train station in Germany.

My small breath hangs ghostlike in the air – it’s too cold

to breathe here, my body hurts from the mere exhaustion

of it, the trying to perform something so instinctual, yet

so hard.

 

And what do we learn of our bodies?

I can stay awake for 48 hours, even with the sour

taste of metal on my tongue, your blood

in my heart. I can miss you a thousand times over. The color

of the moon, even here, is yellow, a harvest moon,

so big and full in the clean-scoured Nordic sky.

 

And so I’m crying in Frankfurt, trying to pull

myself together amidst the unfamiliar snow, the ache

in my bones, the strangers’ faces

I almost recognize as my own, scared and unwilling.

 

Noon breaks its way through the cold and the ice,

and now I’m sitting on the train, my head heavy

and I’m thinking a thousand times over

of how we learn about ourselves: the instinctual part

and the almost incandescent line between

teeth and bone,

soul and heart.

 

*Author’s bio: Terra Brigando recently graduated from the University of Redlands with a B.A. in creative writing and had a poem published in the February issue of “decomP: a literary magazine.” She was the fiction editor of the university’s literary magazine, the “Redlands Review,” and has published various works in “Giraffe,” the university’s underground literary magazine.

Published in: on March 2, 2009 at 11:08 pm  Leave a Comment