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Subsync’s Poem of the Month

Poems chosen for our Poem of the Month are selected because we think they do a fine job of representing the sort of poetry we want for our print journals: an original voice, a sense of authenticity, a fearlessness. These works are culled, at the editor’s discretion, from submissions to The Laughing Dog and Veil: Journal of Darker Musings.

These poems will remain online on this page until the end of the Internet (or WordPress), visible and freely accessible to the general web-surfing public. Moreover, the content of this page is archived on two separate, external hard drives — so the poems are safely stored and will never evaporate into the ether of cyberspace.

All contributors will receive a .pdf of our limited edition publication, The Trove, which is our anthology of Subsync’s Poem of the Month series.  Each contributor will get the volume in which their poem appears; for example, Volume I is for contributors from 2010-2011, Volume II is for those from 2012. The Trove is to be published every April.

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~~~~~~2017~~~~~~

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~~ September ~~

So Plaid
William Doreski

Why are you so plaid today?
Not your clothes but expression—
a green and blue geometry
of repeated overlapping squares
like many half-open windows
ruled over your daily sneer.

The day beckons with icy roads
and trees groaning and dropping
some of their favorite branches.
We should drive to the landfill,
but if we crash with that plaid
all over your face the police
will arrest us for being surly.

Maybe a cup of Ovaltine
will temper the grid of nerves
that has wreaked this new pattern
where the old one was crude enough.
Maybe if I scramble four eggs
and douse them in Tabasco sauce
you’ll eat so cheerfully the ache
of warp and woof will lessen
and permit a tiny hint of smile.

I don’t understand the green and blue,
an unfamiliar design. Maybe
the Scottish Register of Tartans
in Edinburgh would understand
or at least identify this sample.
But you aren’t all that Scottish,
are you? When you dress to go out,
don’t wear competing colors
or fashion police will nail you.

Maybe as the day passes in slips
and slurs of ice, sleet, and slush
you’ll shed this obsession with plaid,
and will recover sense enough
to close those half-open windows
that however opaque promise
a future of picturesque views.

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~~ August ~~

Untitled In August
Joan Payne Kincaid

August when everyone is under pressure and despondent.
Birds are saying goodbye wondering who will return in spring .
Halfway through August he said it’s been a hot and dry one.
The sun shines less often and is never as bright.
It’s getting near the World Series.
Life is finite and you better hurry to make your point.
She thought it was important to get the dishes washed.
Summer is coming to an end tornado watches up.
Syndergaard still can’t deal with base stealers.
Seeing summer out so many years we never get enough
Of the little harbor so safe in storms.
Maybe I’ll lose my identity she said I have to take that chance.
We are pre-programed chemicals
Your body not quite certain what works outside or in.
Here again at the Shack with beer and lobster.
Surrounded by hills and clouds
The sun descends into watery secrets.

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~~ July ~~

Sun Worshippers
A.J. Huffman

line the sands at first glimpse of morning
sun. Spaced like iridescent sentinels,
they claim perches on rainbowed terrycloth,
fall like dominoes into prone position. Oiled
up, shades down, they offer their flesh to the light.
Thirty minutes later, this open-air oven triggers
internal thermometers, and one by one they turn
themselves over to brown the other side.

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~~ June ~~

Country Time
Ray Greenblatt

The sun’s across the road,
insects paused
             in their summer litany
even trees their in-place pawing,
wind’s later grasp of the arm
            will have night chill in it
ice cubes gelling
            you can hear their vise-like
            statements in the next room
bottles which gleam in a row
            your choice of poisons
            mine elixirs
the view across the valley
just shifting
            gold lucidity
            into dusk dreaming.

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~~ May ~~

Town of No Taboos
David Spicer

The sign with its square lettering
invited me beyond the ten-foot wall:
Ataraxia: Population 45, Where
Aquarius Dropped His Jug of Water.
My footsteps carried me
to an ambiance that nothing had
prepared me for: a hotel named
The July Inn, a bar called No
Worries, roasted acorns, caviar,
and a rare Merlot the main
course at Carol’s. Violets shrugged
as I shuffled past the drugstore,
and a blind roustabout scratched his
bald head, counting to ten,
holding a blue marble shoebox.
Beach waves reside
inside my rectangle, boy,
so open any door in the town
of no taboos, and you’ll die
happy, he said, empty eyes staring
at the cloudland above him.
I touched its smooth surface, and,
yes, sin didn’t exist, nor virtue.
What did I expect? I decided
to leave, not wanting to live in this
oasis where seals licked bricks, hags
lingered in lobbies, their rags more
tattered than mine. Did I stumble
in a fugue through the place I couldn’t
translate? Before I advanced much
further, trudging into the desert again,
I noticed a city of vices ahead, burned,
black, and, I thought, not yet purified.

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~~ April ~~

One Person’s Seriousness Is Another’s Colossal Joke
J. J. Steinfeld

Let me say right off the top
while I’m in this philosophical mood
this slight metaphysical delirium
about meaning and the meaningless
that one person’s seriousness
is another’s colossal joke
a prayerful joke like death—
God slaps you for such a thought
and when God slaps
it’s not like the strap at school
by a shy, secrets-burdened teacher
or a prizefighter’s knockout punch:
God’s slap barely makes a sound
but it hurts like the death of a beautiful bird
the recalling of which
will shape and sharpen memory for you
leave you fearful of death and loss
and making colossal jokes.

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~~ March~~

Solo Boxing
Michael Lee Johnson

Solo boxing, past midnight,
tugging emotions out of memories embedded,
tossing dice, reliving vices, revisiting affairs,
playing solitaire-marathon night,
hopscotch player, toss the rock,
shots of bourbon.

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~~ February~~

The Angel in Flight
Nina Clarence

is a thieving angel
snagging your heart
like a bright red kite caught
in a flowering tree the supple fingers
of its wild branches
holding gently entangling

all that you wish for
until that angel’s overbearing
blue-lipped conscience
blows your heart free
to fall to the hard earth lost
amid a whirlwind of blossoms
and lonely love-struck words

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~~ January ~~

Looking Back
B.Z. Niditch

When we hear a melody
a Coltrane solo on a sax
or tunes from an accordion
from childhood streets
a whistling calliope
near a city pushcart
the recorded voice of Sinatra
Peggy Lee, David Bowie
singing of a lost love
becomes alive in their notes
the day becomes a memory
and all night thoughts
dream visions,
all arguments of love
break-ups, new beginnings
familiar endings
challenge us
full of retraced letters
those echoes of good times
remembering those journeys
when I taught the classics
of an exile between two continents
as Odysseus remembered Penelope
at our table of grape leaves
and olives
surrounded by an absence
in being parted from a partner
not forgetting my own exiled life
loving evocations
near our favorite Greek cafe
drinking ouzo with lamb
and honey and almonds,
yet just as I am here on the Cape
in a slack season
without many vacation tourists
amid a rain spell
to review my pastimes
as nostalgic songs from a jukebox
seize me
in this enlightened night spot.

 

~~~~~~2016~~~~~~

~~ December ~~

From where?
written in the mountain region of Beipu outside Hsinchu
Tom Pescatore

Water drip from drop to rock
fallen bridges in its path
no way but now but through the brush
to be eaten by the darkening trail.

Lush a slink of slim beam of light
on the clear of stream below
cuts deep into and through dead rock
slick with moss and growth.

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~~ November ~~

How to Live With What You Have
Marjorie Sadin

Throw out torn socks.
Save scratch paper.
Meet friends for coffee.
Make love on the creaky bed.

Pick up the dog’s shit.
Hand wash dishes.
Watch TV without cable.
Use a cell phone without texting.

Use the metro instead of driving.
Travel light.
Let the dicey heavens win the lottery.
Die penniless writing poetry
.
Go nowhere.
And always be near.

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~~ October ~~

The Walk
Denny E. Marshall

See her by a blindside spot edge
Turn around as she disappears
She reappears soon with moon tales
Stories frozen in space and time
Arm in arm walk down road of doubt
When you take long deep journey home
Path is dark and worn, somewhat narrow.
Post hangs with an old singlewide sign

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~~ September ~~

Anonymous and Cool
Holly Day

slow leak, I’m running out of air
here, you are a deep blue ocean
I should have stayed out of, spending
too much time trying to patch up things
when I should have been running away

I would give anything to be able to stare into your eyes
dead-on and say, “I love you”
and mean it

put your fingers back on me, the one place
left unblemished—I used to say the words
each day
and now I don’t know what they mean
all this thinking
of what might have been.

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~~ August ~~

Devour
Jan Karlsson

today
on my way home from work
i almost stepped
on a dead bird

its face had already been
devoured and maggots were
struggling up to get air

and i thought about you
and how i miss
those drunken nights
in that tiny apartment of yours

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~~ July ~~

……Endless Love
Sabahudin Hadžialić

…………In a flash
…………awareness
brought about enormous pain
…………….when
…………he realised
…………that in her
………..he recognised
………….reflection
…………of himself.

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~~ June ~~

Fire Thief
Gregg Dotoli

great  Prometheus mixed his water and dirt
adroit like the corporate lab
found perfection, began molding
needed fire, pillaged heaven
a perfect execution
later unable to rise and extinguish his agony
as the vultures tugged and pecked
on a meal served by hubris

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~~ May ~~

Tequila
Michael Lee Johnson

Single life is-tequila with lime,
shots of travelers, jacks, diamonds, and then spades,
holding back aces-
mocking jokers
paraplegic aged tumblers of the night trip.
Poltergeist define as another frame,
a dancer in the corner shadows.
Single lady don’t eat the worm…
beneath the belt, bashful, very loud, yet unspoken.
Your man lacks verb, a traitor to your skin.

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~~ April ~~

Junkyard Wizard
Lenny DellaRocca

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What shall I do with all these words? Give them to the wizard who will take them apart. Let him unplug them from the electric wires, remove vowels, baste them with secret chemicals to make them glow in the dark of someone else’s mind. Watch him tap the glue on the backs of consonants with his hammer and chisel. In the end he’ll look at his work with glitter in his white hair and beard, on his purple robe, admire his new world made from a graveyard of syllables, how he rearranged the broken parts of speech into pyramids and crystal balls, into museums of human skulls and relics of burnt flesh and brooms, how people without memory bow with just a wave of his hand.

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~~ March ~~

Oratorio
Bobbi Sinha-Morey

The oratorio of birdsong
wakens in my memory
the peeping of hatchlings
under the bathroom window,
constant reminders of my
loss. When I think of you, birds
fly, sorrowing above the trees,
their songs, perfect phrases
of their grief. Once I heard
the sound of joy before silence
pierced the heavens and the
tapping of woodpeckers I
decoded into elegies. How
can I ever let your face evade
my mind when it sustained
me through the years like
the open window and the
dawn? There is finality in
obituary, but not true closure;
the essence of my heart is
still fastened to the past.
In the rerun of the sunless
sky I hear birds soaring,
wrapping you in the blueness
of their wings.

 

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~~ February~~

Be Natural Easy, and Relaxed II
Joan Payne Kincaid

Approximately like a trumpet or reed instrument
……….entertaining nostalgic encore rim shots out of nowhere
………………..where regulars converge seamlessly

to dine on arugula and Billy sings
……….knowing when to fake it–
………………..daffodils light the table

Filigrees of jazz clarinets
……….around you overlook the Sound’s white sky.
………………..You sigh the last passenger pigeon’s name

Important…speaking of rhetorical questions
……….lights camera say smile,
………………..now limited access to Martha

she died alone in her cage.
……….What I need is a glass of champagne
………………..and a tried and true recipe for fried potato chips

to cope with dark matter
……….survival of the planet sometimes you just need
………………..a ticket out

a syncopated sax sex-y talk
……….sense of life I’m a big believer in reason and facts
………………..he said and arugula. You become

vulnerable to the dark side of the Internet based;

go to <get a grip.org>–
……….Why I have my Iphone avatar function
………………..because it touches on a sensitive relationship

He says it’s all about joy, this voyage
……….of passwords called life–even at the end of the world
………………..the camera is on your boundaries

it was on Martha once upon a time.

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~~ January~~

If This Be Not I

The cars look like Kaiser rolls.
(Heroic designers with slide-rules, maybe wind-tunnels.)
No brown-brick sashweight street
without its bookstore, grocer, butcher,
and place to heal small tough electric things.
On the roofs, aerials, already rusty;
that’s as far as that gets. And among clouds
(here muffin-like, becoming lacier
above the Longshoremen’s Hall), two transport dirigibles
moving in opposite directions,
raising and centering the scene.

I finish my dime omelet
and smoke. If I stole the cowboy god
from Times Square, so he could puff his perfect circles
here, would that give aid and comfort
to the system I’m barely containing?
As well as to the sort of destructive habit
people in my world renounce and attack
so as to feel they exist?
Fuck’em … Outside the diner,
teasingly obscured
by the arc of peeling letters on the glass,
three girls carouse and flounce and giggle.
They’re wearing haltertops, shorts, flipflops.
No need to confine them in blouses and skirts;
only forbid them drugs, piercings, earbuds,
danger. Each fills her skin
in a way the eye knows the camera loves.
I brood on this a long time.
No need to have them, passing, see me smile.

The precinct house is modern, not even Deco.
At first I thought it was a power station.
Not wrong. No windows, beetling concrete,
and no one goes in or out.
Grander structures in the same style
fasten to empire places
nameless even to natives. In my long coat, broad hat,
shades and probably false beard I am
so much myself that I’m invisible;
and sat on the specified bench awaiting contact
but only nannies and strollers came.
It’s possible there is no contact,
that he too sank in universal sand …
Very well then, I will make my report to myself.

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~~~~~~2015~~~~~~

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~~ December~~

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In the Kitchen
Janet McCann

I always took too many shortcuts,
would substitute anything for anything.
Today’s Unpeeled Apple Pie
follows the recipe mostly but in the oven
it looks like a dumpster.

My mind slides back many years
to my mother’s kitchen. She cooked precisely
but not well. Described to the mild, mustachioed
dinner guest the steps she’d taken
to make the roast less leathery.
He liked it, because she had charm,
but I pictured the mallet, the tenderizer.

Grandmother baked pies with bacon grease.
After so many years we almost liked it.
Great-grandmother always overestimated
the cooking time, and sometimes there was buckshot.

I come from a tradition of bad cooks,
passing on a greasy copy of The Joy.
I always took too many shortcuts.
This poem is black on top and raw in the middle,
but I had good intentions. Here, have some.

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~~ November~~

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Hungry Angels
Mark J. Mitchell

They resemble the dead
……………..slightly―
Faces you almost know
……………..balanced
on bodies that don’t belong here―
……………..Today―
In Washington Square Park,
………………sun-washed,
they light on this planet in precarious
………………November.

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~~~October 2015~~~

Goldilocks
Mike Alexander

It felt just right,
last night.
Not so much in hindsight.

This morning, there’s
a bear’s
weight in my bed. Who cares?

It’s not the first
time, cursed,
I chose love for the worst.

My only peeve,
ho-heave.
I cannot make him leave.

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~~~September 2015~~~

Laon
Stephanie Spector

Multiply my pride, the clerestory,
by three.

I wanted choirs, to paint
as a Queen might

cast shade across broken cities,
bricks of proof that I survived.

This is how you build a church

pointed arches, arcades, triforiums
ceilings high as telescopes do reach

I have made a wrong choice

The ribbed vault is crumbling

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.~~~August 2015~~~

Epic
Glen Armstrong

Your mother gives you a name.
Your bully gives you another.

The undersides of some ceramic toads.
The unexpected human.

Genitals. Genitals. Genitals.
Ten cents buys you passage.

Your lover gives you a name.
Your boss gives you a title.

You bathe and you work on hobbies
to lose yourself.

The soles of your shoes wear thin.
Bits of paper absorb syrup.

And cheese. Some say
the photograph begins like a song.

Most of what gets said
is not your name.

Sometimes you find yourself
in a strange city under a streetlight.

There are small, specialized knives.
There are coins with windows.

Your mother gives you another.
Your bully gives you hell.

You look for the name of a studio.
You forge ahead unknown to all.

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~~~July 2015~~~

Oily You
Alan John Campbell

When I first noticed you
you were a tendril
not a mullet, capybara or barracuda
and not opposed to aromatherapy.

We caught the eyes of others
when frolicking on the autumn
carpet, below
the stocky boughs of Brothertown’s sycamores.

I offered to wash your hair.
A half-answer you gave me only
and never held me to it.
The last remark I ever heard from you was ‘Employment is sinister.’

I’m growing more slippery by the day…but it’s still growth
that’s what counts.
Still getting my head around all that clinical business,
you brought into my life, and in a perfect world,
I guess you’d be owed some debt of appreciation

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~~~June 2015~~~

Gingerbread Lady
Michael Lee Johnson

Just plain
no sugar nor
cinnamon spice. She walks
in scandals; sometimes she walks in soft
night shoes.

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~~~May 2015~~~

And On
Rodney Nelson

October had been and I soon would have
and the hills I walked in were clear

no green remained to the done field beyond
and some to this tangled meadow

yellow butterflies went ahead of me
and were not too many to count

I took to follow a jig-jagging one
along the way I was headed

until it dove into the tired grass
and would not let me scare it up

its day had been and my own soon would have
and here I went fluttering on

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.~~~April 2015~~~

Common Word
Nikhil Nath

A common word
will emerge

not like a rose
but of a color

full of nothing
and slide into

the memory
of a tree

or the age
of its trunk.

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~~~March 2015~~~

The Abandoned Harems of the Soulless Ones
John W. Sexton

Like bruised fruit they over-ripen where they’re left.
In the shadows of the wharves and the creaking warehouses,
(where they are dared only by moonlight), they skulk uselessly.
Their blood tainted by immortality they bide the time that is no longer theirs.
They are the discarded, the half-bitten, the neither dead nor reborn.
Swollen in pregnancy they give birth to three-dimensional screams
that rise into the starry skies and echo forever into the deeps of space.
Amongst themselves they believe they have given birth to stars,
and this is the lie they find comfort with.
Forever fecund, immortal shoals of sperm still active inside them,
they are the eternal mothers, their lovers absconded or long dissolved.
In immeasurably distant galaxies, where only journeying light is without decay,
their children will begin to devour the fabric of space itself, but not until long,
long, into the futureless future.

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~~~February 2015~~~

Evening Dusk
Dennis Saleh

You finally say,
“no more.”

Close a door,
turn, and

take night
by the hand.

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~~~January 2015~~~

spying
Daniel von der Embse

The rock star
and his girl
in 1a and b
Her:
Outstretched,
lavishing upon his chest
all that she ever learned
about making a man
feel adored
Him:
devouring
like a banquet,
imbibing her mouth,
skin inhaling
till there is room
for no more
The mouth rests
but the appetite
never full

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~~~~~~2014~~~~~~

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~~~December  2014~~~

Particles of Me
John Szabo

Blake discovered the world in a grain of sand,
and I am now among those grains,
tossed from a blossoming, pale sweaty, soft palm
into the darkening surf;
my last wishes.

I am dissolved within
the seaweed and misty, salty air,
deep within a child’s sand castle
slowly eroded by the high tide;
particles of me mixed with coconut oil
rubbed into the brown skin of a Brazilian beauty,
more of me still at the bottom of a
black Labrador’s         joyous day of digging.

Particles of me
follow the rhythm of the tides,
taking me on a journey
into the deep green and blue ocean currents
leaving behind the beach of my youth;
hoisted high a top my father’s shoulders
before being catapulted into the oncoming waves,
time after time,
until my fear turns into giddy anticipation.

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~~~November  2014~~~

Poem Written in Early Spring (After Ou Yang Hsiu)
George Freek

In the clear water I can see
the fish, swimming near
the surface. There’s purpose
in their meanderings,
but I can’t say what it is.
Apple blossoms fall
like grains of rice.
Perhaps spring stirs the hearts
of fish and men alike.
But my hair is now white.
Some things are best
forgotten. I do remember
the fragrance of roses
and their color
against the lowering sky,
like the purest cotton.

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~~~October  2014~~~

Black Water
Vanessa Kittle

I feed this tender shoot
drops of sugar water
like a baby bird
It grows so fast

he has alien leaves
more black than green
has thorns for hands
and a bud
black fuzz
so black, so soft
so sweet, touch it
I dare

When I close my eyes
I think I feel
black vines and water
choked with leaves
rising inside me
I feel it will burst
from my mouth
like I’m an ancient fountain
of moss covered stone
more black than green
has thorns for hands
and a bud
black fuzz
so black, so soft
so sweet, touch it
I dare

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~~~September  2014~~~

Peacock Unplugged
A.J. Huffman

Tail of feathers fold into flaccid follower.
A shadow dripping colors like memories.
Quickly shifting head slowly lowers.
Regret weighs where pride flowered, regal
display now wears the whimpering sign of
simplicity. Nature’s show, forever closed.

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~~~August  2014~~~

House Painter
Ray Greenblatt

All day he stands facing a wall
questioning the verities

colors fit his moods
a dab, swipe, curlicue
decision upon decision

dizzy with aromas
of turps, latex, lacquer
heady as finest liqueur

he cannot help but look
through the dining room window
at a jumble much like his

he speaks dog fluently
has no time for cats
is fluent in many tongues

nose and ears sensitive
to velocity of winds
angle of seasonal suns

and as the afternoon wanes
he climbs higher on his ladder
to peer into the master bedroom

where piles of pelf crowd
the bureau so that he shakes
his head at wasted wealth

he brings the house back to life.

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~~~July  2014~~~

Jail
Joan Payne Kincaid

I would rather be there than here most of the time if I had any time to waste
Which I don’t because I must check out the mold on that large tree
Uptown maybe it means something rare and exotic which would add some
Excitement to this burg where we’ve been far too long making this and that
Including love even children all gone now except for the garden and the
Dead grass you refuse water after carefully planting seed that’s the thing
Plant but don’t nurture doesn’t make sense but I carried the water can a
Block away to a new village tree no one cares about but that’s the way with
Almost everything I think so I walked out for the dog’s walk alone again but
Of course there’s only one place available behind invisible bars to which to re-
Turn and it contains everything old and past that doesn’t matter anymore and
The others are in Maine where we used to be but of course cannot now because
Of too many negatives in the equation and I was always queer with math which
Probably has a lot to do with my idea to run away before it began and still do
Here there is only just so much that’s palpable and a lot of solitary blues
Still we stay and all the philosophers are wrong when they say leave, because
It’s like locking a door losing the key or being out on something already sawed
-off.

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~~~June  2014~~~

Ailanthus Altissima
Arnold Skeemer

A crack in the masonry,
an abrasion in the sidewalk
reveals a tiny bud breaking forth
that sucks up water and finds room
to live in the deepest pit
of the urban labyrinth.
And it thrives out of nothing,
growing on pediments, abandoned roofs,
behind the remote corners of an alleyway,
from a water drain, from a forgotten grating,
its urban palm spreading wide
in the terrain of the decaying city.

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~~~May 2014~~~

Kline’s “The Chief”
B.Z. Niditch

Figures of images
in totality of freewheeling
abnegation of space
being absent of any past
in your wooden canvas
we discovered under blankets
in the Village
on those Factory days
of Andy, Holly and Edie
finding bits of solitude
in unusual silence
at Kline’s “The Chief”
pausing at passageways,
soundless as pocket mirrors
always drawn into insight
admitting to remove
our sun shades
to starkly open up
at the attic gallery
to this new automatism
of abstract expression
by magnetic brush strokes
in commingled peeled off
tunnels of visionary light.

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~~~April 2014~~~

Ophelia
John Grey

Beyond winds reaping
the light of the sun’s zenith

she glided away like an unspooled rope
or a sail spun on spring’s secret breezes

or conception’s carefree, floral pose,
a lolled deity when she slept,
conceding movement to frail ripple –

a calm arcane repose —
a river island floating
as rainbows flutter
static drooping hands –

stream, white echo
of an unseen stroke,
the imagined truth it is

that stills wind, hushes trees
anchored in its reflection –

death –
it is the indisputable reply –
the next move no goodbye can follow.

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~~~March 2014~~~

Horoscope
Gary Maggio

After so many years you’d think
I wouldn’t be surprised
That you pounce when you’re ignored.

It goes back to a birthright
You think you have
When all creatures noticed and,
With nervous applause of
Tails and teeth,
Were truly afraid.

If it’s worth anything at all
After so many years—
Am I too late?—
It was more than just pride.
I know I’m afraid
The eager sorrow,
the patter of shame.

It was all about you,
your night prowls, your various ways
of being quiet, ferocious
in the cosmos.

.

~~~February 2014~~~

in her honour (for bee)
Sharkey Andrews

divulgence violation begrimation
a search of over ten thousand ways
to describe the source of your pain

vituperative contumelious cacophony
I’m surrounded by a million different syllables
word patterns of abused and manipulated
Latin and Greek roots
that grow nothing near to the tree upon which
our relationship has been lynched

I’ve sat for years in silence
hoping to find just the right thing to say
I thought time would tell me how
but given my chance now
heart tongue and mind all fail me together
I am left naked, nude, bereft of the elocation
necessary to say this right.

desole perdon scusa
Other languages have fallen short to this point
I’m trying, I swear
to be to the point
but the point is an emotion not placed in any collection of reference books

umbrageous despondent atrabilious
The hurt that has befallen me
the perpetrator and bearer of the burden
a blind man left in an open field forever seeking the light

I have grown old searching for the words
that I’ve found don’t exist
but to honour your pain with silence
bears insult to our history

Je t’aimerai toujours.
Je suis desole.
Te amare siempre.
Lo siento.
I will always love you.
I’m sorry.

.

~~~January 2014~~~

I Swear It
Tom Pescatore

All the fields of America
remain still and beat
as the road travels to them—
from out of broken asphalt tombs
and wired chariots
the ghosts of ghost towns USA
trek over farmland
hearthstone golden madness
toiling day and blessed night—
they’re never gone completely—
they’re in a chime barely heard
just beyond the next hill the next
cliff-side, the next ledge—they’ll
make it, they’ve made it—the path is
never easy and it’s never the same—
I will wash my hair under the
pacific sun.

.

~~~~~~2013~~~~~~

.

~~~December 2013~~~

Grounded
Lark Beltran

Caught in the world´s net, staring through it
at the sweet starthrong lightyear-fathoms distant,
we contemplate immensity with more perspective
than the starfish crawling his universe
of ocean floor, the bacterium in bloodstream
or dust mite lodged in pile of living room rug.
Though our passion to explore be a conflagration
to the candlesworth found in lower forms,
without another evolutionary leap
toward a paranormal bending of perception,
how astrally-remote are earthlings´chances
for ecstatic survey of a meteorite-studded
orange landscape out in Galaxy M81,
or marveling at triple moons in violet skies.
Caught in the world´s net, we cannot follow
our silver-minnow dreams always slipping through.

.

~~~November 2013~~~

Sundown at the Galaxy Diner
Anne Britting Oleson

How many lonely people does it take
to prove the Big Bang Theory?

In the flat sandy night of west Texas,
the flare of truckers’ headlights
appears long before one hears
the sound of eighteen wheels on tar.

Some drivers stop
at the buzzing neon sign,
while others, no longer
able to care, move on.

The rest of us, cups of coffee
in hand, stare blankly
out the window
at the trucks, at the road,
at the darkening sky, waiting
for the world to end.

.

~~~October 2013~~~

Black Spots
Dawn Schout

A ladybug flies toward the lights, crashes
into them repeatedly.

Last year I dressed up as her.
Spent the night at a boyfriend’s. Finally
heard I love you. Before bed he took off my wings.

This year I wore the costume again,
still carrying a faint scent of his house, the black
skirt now with a rip, the wings,
folded all year, a little droopy, then, by the end
of the night, a broken black
strap by my heart. He would have liked
to see that.

I wish I hadn’t seen the photo
of him with her,
standing in front of the house I thought we’d share.

When I get home, the ladybug, so small,
is blackside up, dead.

.

~~~September 2013~~~

Save My Seat
Joseph Friedrichs

Ah yes,
Hell is crowded
with angels.
And heaven
is so boring
I’d rather be alive.

.

~~~August 2013~~~

Stillness of Nebraska
Richard King Perkins II

In the often stillness of Nebraska
she contemplates the meaning of touch.

Around her,
she awakens the nimble beginnings of poems
immersed in the drag of vowels,

motes singing in the lumen of downcast eyes.

The somber promenade of her body
stares into negative radiance,
waiting to be written.

Into an ellipse of starlight, she births,
hemorrhaging soul greyer than storm clouds
in slicing rain

and the shiny little coppersmith hammers out
a new face for the moon
laughing at his good fortune

freed from a silent graveyard of maize.

.

~~~July 2013~~~

The Church in the Mountains
B.J. Jones

We picnicked under the rusted swing set.
No swings. Just a skeletal frame.
Beside the boarded up church.
No pews. Just an empty building.
Behind a wooden marquee.
No message. Just a blank face.
Eating strawberries and cheese.
Drinking water and wine.
Laughing and kissing.
Only the flies answered our call.

.

~~~June 2013~~~

Girls and Boys
William L. Alton

She plays in the dust
next to the house
with plastic soldiers,
too young to care
she should be burying
Barbies instead.

.

~~~May 2013~~~

To Be Clear
Janet Butler

the danger was not the tree itself
but its heavy, plump fruit

just out of reach
branches sagging with it.

Reds burst against green leaves
blues shadowed depths, skies were summer-scented,

it was all firm flesh waiting, patiently,
to fall ripe, into outstretched hands.

Snake stifled a yawn, perfectly bored
on this perfect afternoon, slithered

up rough bark with heavy grace
coiled the lowest branch

bent its suppleness to brush a passing cheek
and the rest, as they say, is history.

.

~~~April 2013~~~

I Think I Think About Billy Collins
MK Sukach

When there’s not enough left
in the bottle to bother pouring
a glass—meaning, you siphon
off what’s left by tilting back
in the chair, with everything
you have balanced on two legs
that aren’t yours but on which
you now depend for what remains.

I think I think about Billy Collins and curse
into the clutched body of the bottle
that holds the distilled stink of my breath
and all the inky words that stain and bite
into the glass that whistles by pursing your lips
and blowing where the bloated, lost cork will never fit again.

.

~~~March 2013~~~

The Woman You Can Never Place
Jeffrey C. Alfier

follows you out onto the bar patio
like music you didn’t want to hear,
takes a table several settings away.

Eyeing you slouched in a warped chair,
she raises a double Scotch to her lips,
her smile a curve locked in amber.

Fleeting clouds and high winds
modulate sunlight across you both,
casting the illusion of a sea voyage.

Parting, she drifts back to her apartment,
her upstairs window shut for the first
time in all the years you’ve passed by.
.

~~~February 2013~~~

Port of Call
Afzal Moolla

Barefoot on a talcum beach,

alone, not lonely,

with the breath of the ocean a caressing balm,
soothing pained memories away,
to the swaying of a solitary palm.

Barefoot on a talcum beach,

alone, not lonely,

feeling the brushing away of all past turmoil,
on a quest for solace, ever so hard to find,
yet comforted by the crashing of the waves,
as the tide cleanses all pain,
and leaves despair far, far behind.

Barefoot on a talcum beach,

alone, not lonely,

drenched in a sea-breeze of mist,
that hushes the ache of bygone moons,
tasting the salty tang on my lips,
as the burnished sun,
over the distant horizon,
swoons,

and dips.

Barefoot on a talcum beach,

alone, not lonely,

searching, ever searching,
for a slice of solitude,
as memory bids a final adieu,
reaching under the sea so vast,
and seeking comfort in the depths,
while embracing,
the tomorrows to come,
wishing that they be true.

Barefoot on a talcum beach,

alone, not lonely,

seeing my truths drown,
as they slip beneath the turquoise waters,

feeling my heart ablaze,
with a passion that rarely falters.

Barefoot on a talcum beach,

alone, not lonely,

yet knowing that I am home at long last,
wishing the waves would wash away,
the defences that once stood,
like an impregnable wall.

Barefoot on a talcum beach,

alone, not lonely,

I have found, at long last,

my final port of call.
.

~~~January 2013~~~

If At Last You Would Have Me Enter Your Home
Jason Visconti

Will you wear the evening
on your dress?

Mind me like a garden
you have tended?

Lead me into rooms
that have yet to guide me through your soul?

Oh, I’ve lived like a porchlight above your door.

.

~~~~~~2012~~~~~~

.

~~~December 2012~~~

That Slapstick Tumble
J.J. Steinfeld

this poem like my life will fail to have
a suitable, adequate or revealing
metaphor despite my yearning
for worth-their-weight-in-gold metaphors
you can trade at the end, the very end,
for a ticket on an ocean liner
sailing the seas of existence
to somewhere half senseful
maybe with a modicum of laughter
but as beautiful as a beautifully
shot-on-location film of eternity
with a happy yet thought-provoking
ending that is not to be this time
because my life like this poem
has fallen on its metaphoric face
fallen hard and with more bafflement
than in a hundred cloaked-in-mystery
galaxies spinning out of control
and I’m still looking for the words
to describe that slapstick tumble
a traveller falling into nothing
suitable, adequate or revealing

.

~~~November 2012~~~

Rough Sailor
Jessie Woods

Words like quick-rise dough under moonlight.

I want I want, she coos. Inside her the silence proofs.

Soliloquies by the steering wheel are not his thing, he says.

His ship leaves by crack of dawn. His hands are rough coasts

off an island of discounted honeymoons. She cannot fathom tasting

the interior of his absence, the legun of longings. How far down?

As a girl, barely adrift in unpredictable tides, she watched her brother’s

toy sailboats float over reflections of sun, of evergreens, of her own face

from the outskirts of winter. Walking home, wishing her name was Rosemary

or that she was made from chocolate confetti with just a pinch of salt–

she forgot the chill at the bottom of the pond. She forgot the frozen smiles of toy sailors.

.

~~~October 2012~~~

when I leave here
Michelle Hartman

.                 I will wear dragon laughter — fiery tresses spilling down my back

it will always be morning
diamond pave frost
under new sun’s panache

and words shall come easy
lay on skin as fairy sighs

when I leave here

.                they can burn the sack cloth and distribute the ashes

.

~~~September 2012~~~

I Know It’s a Bad Bad World But . . .
John Grey

Come on honey,
let’s throw these old newspapers out
of our heads.
Nothing turns yellow quicker
than yesterday’s headlines.
Let O.J. Simpson crinkle and die.
Osama Bin Laden…
he’s in heaven with the virgins now
or was that hell with the sturgeons?
Fact is, all that’s stacked up behind us
and who has time to turn around.
So come on,
love me for the middle of the day
and the lawn fresh cut
and the lilac bush blooming.
Don’t love me war on terror,
on drugs, on women’s rights.
Love me couch and bed
not battlefield and earthquake.
You’re hung up on how many died.
But if two live
you can stop counting.

.

~~~August 2012~~~

The Love Song of Billy du Bois

Charly Wood

I have tasted manna, yesterday and today,
perhaps will nibble on mañana,
or may have eaten all my tomorrows.

I have honey dew been fed from a silver spoon,
sipped ambrosia through a golden straw.

I have kissed a goddess naked in the moonlight.

I have danced the antic lay,
a lilt that lasted for never and a day.

I have held a faery in my arms
night long in her elfin grotto.

I have lain beside a star child,
a time traveler,
here a day gone a month.

Now I cannot eat
ordinary meat,

hunger most the time.

.

(From Charly Wood’s collection, Dark Laughter: Some Reflections from a Myriad Mirrors, read at the Make-a-Date-With-a-Poet reading series. Tucson, AZ, 1998. Reprinted here with the permission of his estate.)

.

~~~July 2012~~~

Redoubt
Dennis Saleh

More words assail my peace.
But they are about nothing.
They have no authority.
They are not in the least,
“poetic.”  I shall muster
calm, and confidence, and
withstand them.  My paper
is virginal, inviolate.  I am
unrelenting in my tedium.
My boredom is my castle.

.

~~~June 2012~~~

The Swarming Dreams of  Visible Utopia
Arnold Skemer

The swarming dreams of visible utopia,
soft breezes drifting over the mountainous heights,
images of hamlets hidden in nature’s grasp
by sylvan expanses in floral green.
There is a soft languor in the peaceful imagery,
in longing for a refuge from torment,
a place of unthreatening stasis
with beneficent dwellings in pastoral valleys,
in landscapes of perpetual peace.
In the images of the waking mind
and the rhapsodies of the daytime reverie.
Such places exist in the soft breathing
of twilight slumber and pre-oneiric drifting.
They are there if you will them to be
when in escape from the torments of the day.

.

~~~May 2012~~~

Across Mud Flats
Diane Webster

I envy killdeer
dashing across the mud flats
revealed by receding
reservoir waters
leaving a heritage
of slender footprints
to bake in the sun
unlike my slogging,
wallowing pits sucking
the last underground
reserves to the surface
until an unbalanced splat
reverses my dinosaur-
death trap plods,
and the ashamed earth
oozes over my path.

.

~~~April 2012~~~

Singing
Gerald Grubbs

As evening fills
Its sanctuary
With darkness
And the moon
Begins its sermon
About giving
Unto others
The stars
In their
Assigned pews
Start singing

.

~~~March 2012~~~

Amsterdam
Dahlia Rosenwasser

hash den of the world
axis of non-ordinary reality’s wheel
turning-turning-turning
pick-pockets lift graffiti
from the chilled monuments
painters squeeze the thin tubes
lime-hunter-emerald
the green and slender throats of tulips
until they burst
cough up sweet smoke and stars
stars to connect the outlines
of our internal constellations

.

~~~February 2012~~~

Fissures
Steve Snyder

Early morning liquid turquoise,
sunlight slanting emerald off
the glassy surface of a pool where I swim
laps. Deeper hues of blue impart
tranquility while I churn the surface
beyond pain, flowing in the zone of second wind,
calculating the distance I’ve traveled.
I know that she’s gone, far as a woman can be.
I’ve accepted this and a following sadness
that’s lodged in the deepest part of me,
part of the soul’s foundation.
Water seeps into cracks, freezes and expands,
loosening bedrock, underpinning set perspectives,
preparing for healing, freshly new.

.

~~~January 2012~~~

Serigraph
Joseph Pytko

She was by the window,
singing.
But I heard the cry
of an extinct bird
in the horizon tree.

The hours slipped
on the profiles
of frozen shadows,
and the song spilled
like seeds into stone-old
nests.

And I felt myself emerging
from the woman’s song,
and returning to her heart
as an arrow.

.

(This poem previously appeared in The Laughing Dog, Issue 18, 2009)

.

~~~~~~2011~~~~~~

.

~~~December 2011~~~

Inventory
B.Z. Niditch

What remains
of tapers burning
our words
a catalogue invoices
forgetting soliloqueys
fragments
finger and footprints,
imagistic lines
always in preparation
of futurism
inkblots which draw us
to answers and ancestors
out of lexicons
we never suspected
on continents
javelined to time
an absence
from undertones
from alien waters
by strangers
on a train
with abstract
conversation
in geometric paths
like our own
recollections
whispers,reprisals
uninspected
body counts
speaking in tongues
outside our door.

.

~~~November 2011~~~

The Crystal Street Prism
for Michael Comberiate
David Stone

1953: the execution of the Rosenbergs
for atomic espionage;
the exhibition of congressional
folly in the provenance of howl,
cloaks forgotten in bugle wars
from the battle of Gettysburg
to the Battle of the Bulge.
Satellite surveillances,
orbital debris,
the beautiful blue planet,
viewed from shuttle orbit,
my rocket scientist friend
discovered was annealed
in cinematic heaven.

.

~~~October 2011~~~

Truths
Ray Greenblatt

Lately
I’ve been watching friends die
putting my head down
on the clean crisp white hospital sheet
right next to theirs
we communicate
two pumpkins in a patch
back to vegetable matter
animal
a handful of minerals
we commune
more me I guess
a story
a whisper
a wish
a kiss
until time for my 10-4
wondering what I’ll get back
all those deeds
receded to pinpoint
it makes a walk down the street
a mystical experience.

.

~~~September 2011~~~

What Was the Question?
Joan Payne Kincaid

I’d rather just let it go to sleep
after sweltering in a too hot fall;
days spent and mesmerized
in pills, balance exercises laundry monologues;
nothing too explicit please
a warm compress to erase boring juxtaposition.

There are always places to go to enter and eject from
down beneath the moon and Jupiter;
still there are a few vague ideas
glowing close enough for a love affair-
how come you never speak of it?
An after-thought like laughing mermaids
who refuse to sing from little fishy lips.

Let’s find some time for a suggestion box
outside the boundary of  robotic culture;
we can watch yellow leaves and butterflies,
while awaiting something unknown,
savoring crispy creams.

.

~~~August 2011~~~

Ran Away to Join the Circus —
Suki Klassen

–because he was an expert
in the art
of throwing knives
at pretty ladies–

.

~~~July 2011~~~

Flesh and Blood
George Gott

We believe in the abstract.

And we believe
in the clothes on the line.

All those shirts
and all those socks.

We never get enough
of cleanliness.

We like to breathe it.

We like to eat it.

We taste of each other
when we are alone.

Was it Tacitus
who said:
The Jews were never Romans
and the Romans
were never Jews?

Yet all men long
for a union with God.

Oh how innocent we are.

How innocent.

We fail to love each other
as we attempt to be attached
from all things.

Even the laundry on the line
decorating the sunless afternoon
in harmony and in bliss.

.

~~~June 2011~~~

(the second larjest extinction)
Robert Head

the second larjest extinction in earth’s
history not counting the present
defines the triassic-jurassic boundary
& the rift between west Africa & North

America coincides. it would be also the opening
up of Pangea. perhaps hwen it
opend up & crackt the continental
crust it released methane hydrate

& that might explain the generic extinction.
this rift strata outcrops at the Virginia
Solite Quarry hwer the oldest dinosaur
tracks in eastern north america are found.

the intense late triassic-earliest jurassic
rift, deep enuf for the ocean to cum in,
coincides with the intense extinction of
marine, shelly organisms & amphibians.

they are one & the same it must be
that the rift opend up the gates of hell.

.

~~~May 2011~~~

Like in One of Those Movies
Lyn Lifshin

you know the kind,
someone falls in love
with a man from an-
other time, years
before. Some house
triggers the ghostly
connection. A letter
delivered 60 years
late. It can’t be but it
takes the woman out
of her real life. She
forgets to eat or sleep.
Leaves swirl, the
fire wilder in her.
So you think it’s me?
Mahogany eyes go
thru me as the music
swells on the dance
floor. It’s like in the
film: fantasy takes over.
Who cares if the
laundry isn’t done. In
his arms I’m transported
as the woman on the
screen was. We’re in
two worlds, even
touching, held in gauze
in the hour lesson,
bodies pressed into each
other. He thinks he has
fallen in love with
my words. I think it’s
photographs when I
was younger than he is
now. “Your number 1
fan” he says, I will
follow to all your readings.”
It’s what the ghost said
to the woman in the
movie, meet me at the
house. Tho there is no
thing, still, there is no
high like this

.

~~~April 2011~~~

When Your Doppelganger Acts Like a Dumb Ass
(for Xander Harris)
Hillary Lyon

then he takes a swig takes a swing
at a gaggle of cops gathered
in the club’s piss-murky parking lot
a collie in the midst of coyotes

when the tasers come out
he bucks like a bull against the ignominy
of a red-hot brand but ends up
doing the electric puppet dance

for the gathering audience
of paparazzi in the parking lot tussle
he wets his pants wiggles his ears and giggles
at the size of his royalty checks

.

~~~March 2011~~~

Mind Storm
Charly Wood

From where this mind storm,
This freakish wind erasing reason?
Not from nil, a denying thus of will,
But from in, generations deep.
My grandfather’s rage, my father’s anger
Generationed down to a silent pain with me?

Is this some Darwinian progress of the psyche,
Some bettering-but-not-very-damned-much of spirit?
Is withdrawing in silent pain, a self-hurt anger,
Better than exploding in heat and light?
Perhaps to innocent bystanders, only me wounded,
but within the pressure all-taken double-agonies.

This storm does not brew from nothing
but from some slight hurt or hurting slight
from a drive-by word shooter
aiming perhaps not at me
or perhaps an aim at slighter slighting,
translated from depth to heavier artillery saying,
“You do not measure up to a man’s height
breadth
depth.

It’s not that I am not the man my father was.
Worse, I am the man my father was, exact measure,
and he the man my grandfather was.

How many generations does it take to grow an inch of soul?

.

~~~February 2011~~~

Your Body Writes Love Letters To Me
Norberto Franco Cisneros

Your body writes love letters to me
It speaks in tongues in which I am the world’s most expert linguist
Your touch communicates in syllables from profound distances
Lying between our lips

Soft white orchid petals unfold their rose colored striped leaves
Embracing yellow gold splashes sparkling off your jade green eyes
Emitting unwritten love sounds aimed straight at
My racing open heart

The sun cannot encircle the penumbra of the moon as readily
As when your skin encircles mine, enlacing my veins,
Stripping them bare
Only to replenish my inner being with your love’s life-force
It is then I know I can never be a stranger to your love letters,
The language of your skin consumes me
Fervently.

.

~~~January 2011~~~

Grieving Dog, Searching, Always Searching
Warren Andrle

sniffs
the weeds the gravel
the neighbor’s leg

seeks the cat
the cat will not talk

inquires of other dogs
searching under tails

around his yard
all day he sniffs

kibbles he crunches
cautiously always aware

by night he rises
to question the moon
who
oh who
oh who has
his testicles

.

~~~~~~2010~~~~~~

.

~~~December 2010~~~

Ek Balam
Black jaguar emerging from the underworld
Gary Every

Ek Balam, fang and boulder, stone paws,
mountain peak eyes, cavernous bottomless belly.
Like a deep deep gorge the open jaws yawn
erupting with a jungle growling yowl
like an explosion of magma.
Stone spotted ghosts emerge from the underworld
beasts of rock and shadow
taking on a feline sorcerer form,
as they slink through the jungle underbrush
Brujo gatos hunting, silently stalking in ambush.
In Arizona they are claimed to be extinct
but they keep being seen,
only males
as if they are spawned solely from mountain stone
Rest assured that somewhere amidst all this beautiful scenery
there is a hidden jaguar queen
a regal female feline ruling from her stone throne
as she cleans and preens
Rest assured there is still wildness in our wilderness

.

~~~ November 2010 ~~~

In Great Detail
Holly Day

they’re all there, the family
I used to have. The camera
scrolls over the faces of
my former brother-in-law, sister-in-law
mother-in-law, husband.
Nieces and nephews I never got to meet
a photo of a new baby in a silver picture frame.
I don’t want to be in that movie
because I’m in a much better one now
but I can’t help but feel I should still be
in the picture, somewhere, a big piece of the puzzle
one that never really fit.

.

~~~ October 2010 ~~~

Siesta Dream
Mather Schneider

The trees are upside down
and the molten belly of my trouble
burps with the viciousness
of a million fallen kings
and a million castrated court jesters
laugh like hyenas
with the keys to the
future
hidden in tiny
notes
in the bells of their
hats.

.

~~~ September 2010 ~~~

The Choice
Nina Clarence

The caravan trekked the route obscure
with syncopated hoof-tred,
unhurried, sand-hushed –
numbed drumbeats hailing an approach
anticipated in the long days
of cloud-shadows,
in the deliberate slow folding of wings,
in the ancestral murmurs
of the blood.

Passing through your gate
sabled merchant burdened
with dolorous tapestries,
onyx boxes with keyless locks, bundles
bound with corded knots riddled
without answers. Grant them respite
with your walls, and silence,
that dull currency, they will spend freely:
the drop will sway along the copped lip
yet stay; the owls will forget
their compulsive question; sleepers
will bind their cries beneath the moon-
shimmered surface of their dream.

A thimble of wine,
a taste of darkest solitude, a tear
of the lone sailor lost at sea, of the conqueror
counting by torch-light his legions
of loyal dead, passes from hand to hand.
When it comes to you — brimming,
opaque, scented with the dust
of sepulchers — your courtyard trembles,
your walls buckles, your gargoyles shift
on precarious perches.

This sullen caravan will move on
before the morning star surfaces;
drink, and you go with them.
Abstain, and the flowers deep-
rooted in your garden
will breathe their fierce colors
into your being; the man you love will unfold
his frail wings; the dire portents
will drown in the surging blood force
feeding your heart’s desires.

.

~~~ August 2010 ~~~

Untitled
Lee Frank

You bet your life
is what we do
forgetting
Death owns the house

x ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ x

Creative Commons License

 This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.
Subsynchronous Press 2017

.

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5 responses »

  1. Only you, Gary, can spin a tale of the mydterious Arizona wilderness. Great write.

    Reply
  2. Dear Gary: Thanks for sharing these great poems. Keep ’em coming! Suzy

    Reply
  3. Thanks Gary Keep ’em coming! Suzy

    Reply
  4. Good company here. NIce to be aboard. JP Kincaid

    Reply

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