garden

featured in the poetry forum November 15, 2019  :: 0 comments

lost & alone in the garden
of “give a fuck” i watch first rays
of light drift into a morning sky as my
barren feet crunch across grass frozen
in a thin frost, a lingering reminder
of a rampaging night –

leaves glitter & toss as a sullen wind weeps
through tall branches, rabbits alight from
hiding, eager to sup on morning gifts of
sustenance & life, w/cock in hand i piss
on dirt & rock, dreams still rattle in my skull –

he is gone, he is gone, he is gone –

i stretch & yawn, regain my cup & drink deeply,
steaming coffee burns my lips & tongue yet i
take it all in a single gulp; my head aches & moans,
but daylight inches up my skin, retrieving my
sanity as the warmth of life embraces me again –

yellow & orange & blue flowers bloom, their stamens
erect & eager; petals unfold to receive the gift of
a now risen sun; bees hover & dart before setting down
gentle, rubbing & inhaling the flowers’ scent, its taste sweet
sticky, trickle down your throat; remembrance of your
sorrow as you take me in again –

he is gone, he is gone, he is gone –

– Jack Henry

editors note:

Sweet, sad reminders in a garden of gone. – mh clay

Zuw Myon

featured in the poetry forum November 14, 2019  :: 1 comment

You gifted me a sorrow and forgot your gift
I remain so obliged, it weighs me down
– Faiz Ahmed Faiz
(Tr. Keki N. Daruwalla)

For A.S.Y.

I bottled that sorrow in a pretty glass jar,
see?
Sealed the golden lid shut with mellow
paraffin.
Labeled it ‘Zuw Myon’, and hid it under my
skin.
I carried its dull ache around for many a year,
until
one day its throbbing refused to give in.

So I retrieved it from under my
epidermis,
fed it wood smoke, bathed it in full-
moon magick,
carried it around like sun-kissed
bliss.

And this time, it accompanied
me like

a glowing talisman, a warm patronus,
so I
broke open the lid one night. Through
the sharp-
edged light I saw letters blossoming
like
fireflies, nouns clenching and declench-
ing inside
Mexican daisies, sharp yellow and
white.

And I knew just what needed to be
done.
I swallowed it whole, and a new
tongue
glided over the ghost of my last
one.

*Zuw Myon is a Kashmiri phrase of adoration.

– Nikita Parik

editors note:

Sorrow, simmered and suffered until something to talk about. – mh clay

waystation

featured in the poetry forum November 11, 2019  :: 0 comments

saw an old friend
at the waystation in chicago
said he just got out of jail
said the life
gets to a person
after a while
said he held strong
in his own way
but it just gets harder
said attending ghosts told him
angels don’t burn
said in the void
they sow nothing
& reap the same
said he was just passing through
on the way to
kansas city

– Jonathan Hine

editors note:

What truths have you learned in YOUR prison? – mh clay

After Dark

featured in the poetry forum November 10, 2019  :: 0 comments

A halogen haze
descends over the street
like a thought.
Every limb aches,
the signboards
flashing endlessly
grab the ends
of a city
still sprinting
at the speed of light,
its cacophony
emerges like smoke,

clutches in its sleep
my open nerve ends.

– Debarshi Mitra

editors note:

“…inspired by the works of William Gibson and ‘cyberpunk.'” Keep those ones and zeros flowing… – mh clay

MY NIGHT IN JAIL

featured in the poetry forum November 7, 2019  :: 0 comments

Time seemed to have stopped
as I clung to cold steel bars.
It felt like I was held in chains
in the Inquisition’s private hell.
Sleep was not a possibility,
and my shoulder still hurts
from a thwack by an angry cop
who hated me for marching
with “Veterans For Peace.”
I couldn’t get the stink of shit
out of my nose from a toilet
that wouldn’t flush, while I waited
for Lenny, my college classmate,
an ACLU lawyer, to get me out.

– Milton P. Ehrlich

editors note:

Pitched into the pokey for proffering peace. – mh clay

The Miracles of Money

featured in the poetry forum November 6, 2019  :: 0 comments

I see him while I grind away
at penny keno, hoping to turn
$5 into $15
He’s wizened, thin
a smoked hock baking
in cigarette smoke
and he has 1,000s,
odd in this backwater town
One day I sit beside him and watch
“You live in Lakeport?” I ask
He blinks in amazement
that someone has chosen
to talk to him
“All my life. Are you
an angel?” he asks
He’s serious, and I realize
he is insane
“No,” I say,
as he hits
another jackpot
“Good one,” I say
“The miracles of money,” he says
looking toward the heavens
and the angels
forever circling
his head

– Jon Bennett

editors note:

Believe or bet; it’s a gamble all the way. – mh clay

delivered

featured in the poetry forum October 30, 2019  :: 0 comments

we often had bonfires at that place
we’d ride around collecting
busted skids from factories
in the nearby industrial park
& toss them into the back
of the pick up truck
on nights like those the fire
would soon be roaring
& we’d all be smoking & drinking
i remember my friend’s ten year old son
had this obsession w/ slugs
he liked to hunt them
& then impale them w/ a stick
he explained to us they were evil beings
& his mission was to destroy them
you’d be drunk shooting the shit & laughing
& then the boy would run up
& pitch another slug into the flames
you’d hear it hissing as he ran into the dark
in search of another
i’d felt a certain peace there
at those gatherings
opening one can after another
the cherry of my cigarette always aglow
glad for the warmth & the banter
& the boy who was delivering us from evil

– Rob Plath

editors note:

Sanctuary comes in all forms… so does evil. – mh clay

UNFORGIVEN

featured in the poetry forum October 29, 2019  :: 0 comments

The smoke from a cigarette bleeds exultant and haphazard,
its white length a smooth segment of time during which
the celebrant takes their pleasure, as with a cheroot,
notionally after sex, or before gunfights
in The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly.

Once we had no option but to be casually asphyxiated
by the thick rolling upper deck smog
if we couldn’t find a seat below
on the 19A to school.

Now outlaws gather outside Grogan’s
in reduced and disenfranchised bands.
Music wails, the camera frames each in turn;
disgruntled, twitchy, about to fire.

– Alan Murphy

editors note:

The shoot-out between smoke and smoker. Smile and draw. – mh clay

When the grieving mother asked, the rabbi replied

featured in the poetry forum October 26, 2019  :: 0 comments

We are not jazzless angels
every harp note perfect and predictable, every chess game
a draw. Freewill cannot dazzle if every foul choice turns gold.

Hunger gnaws and starvation
waits
a mountain lion invisible against the rocks.
Claws celebrate emaciated flesh
so we plow and plant
but the god equation is not so simple as
a good life equals a good life. Rains turn
on a butterfly’s hiccup.

Sometimes children lose hair to chemo because water flows
through lead or perhaps a gamma-ray spun off from a distant star—
capricious freedom. Mothers could die
young enough they never pose difficult questions nor lose
young names in setting sun.

Suppose the world a coke commercial, everyone
singing, holding hands, and sweet fizzy drinks didn’t make you crave
another and another until insulin shots circle like vultures.

Beauty sans purpose is boring as certainty. Healthy forests
need wildfire and satisfying years need
2nd period bullets, outlawed loves, unjust lash. Bombs clinging
to hopeless chests, desire for more more
trumping children of the poor.

And what of love?
Imaginary, impossible
if we did not throw while the coin spins high
all our money on the table.
Place your bets; hold your breath.

We do not have to, crust will not collapse. We get to
say maybe, just maybe, bend the universe imperceptible—
hallelujah a prayer of sweet,
sweet sweat— muscles obeying best they can or not.
Revel in unpredictable effort.
Pity jazzless angels— no reason to wake except to praise.

– Alan Gann

editors note:

Natural selection or improvisation? Yes, place your bets now. – mh clay

Arks

featured in the poetry forum October 23, 2019  :: 0 comments

I drop a pebble in the pond
and watch a gnat
heaved toward the shore
by forces it does not understand,
a two-centimeter-high ripple
carrying the creature and its tiny fears

the same way those baffled humans
got swept one mild Sunday morning
from fishing villages and tourist resorts
into the wide, pitiless sea,

the same way we are all carried
by the rolling tide of history

except that—

we are the gnats
who build boats

and when asked by a voice
whispering down from the high country
to do something desperately different

to set ourselves apart
from the blind cacophony of chaos

we have been known
to build

arks.

– Scott Waters

editors note:

And unafraid to pick our pairs… – mh clay