Poetry #115

New poetry by Brandon J. Courtney, DB Cox, John Fleming, Shannon Pell, Echezona Udeze, and Anurag Rudra.

Echezona Udeze
and when i walked out the door i almost cried

i cannot claim to know you –
sparkle face stub
thick hipped juggernaut
your cigarette slim kool

we are not familiar with each other

still as if we are a deja-vu
we pass and nod in recognition

though not my familiarity in the least

is two buildings leaping to skies perfectly
perpendicular wall to wall without the cuddling

never really meeting
except to pass and nod in recognition

like two pigeons in a bevy of bread
peck peck pecking at the tiny crumbs

we are not exactly together in this feast

you silver tipped soarer
two footed two foot
umbrella half opening

like a ceiling you never grace the floor
two hands (yours more important) reaching
like we pass and nod in recognition

and it’s just like déjà vu

you all over again

Anurag Rudra

I love the smell of smoke in the mornings
The stony stupor of this vagabond mind
Sometimes in these macabre afternoons
I embark upon a lowly odyssey in some
Scarecrow alley, haunted by failed gods
Armed with this futile obsession to unearth
The ancient pain of this widowed night

I love to watch these hills in winter
Clothe themselves in ragged shawls
Of white. Like old women, these hills
Know things more important than
The fear of hunger or war, or love.

And as these lines die into the sounds
Of this breathless ramble, beloved
Let this evening wind confine you in
The lifeless thirst of our tepid  hearts.

DB Cox
passing for blue
– For D.N.K.

my best friend
died last year
in a 24-hour store-
shot by some shaky kid
when he walked
in on a 32 dollar holdup
to buy a pack of marlboros
he was a bluesman
he knew more
about robert johnson
& tampa red
than amiri baraka-
or leroi jones
he used up
most of his time
& all of his options
preaching to the blue
multitudes jammed
into cheap neon
playgrounds along
the whore-haunted streets
of late-night memphis
where no accusing eyes
ever questioned
the heartfelt disguise
he wore
like an invisible man-
& on the day
his ashes were
tossed toward
the rain-polished sky
there were no
sad fans weeping
no sanctifying poetry
from langston hughes
just a southbound
breeze to ride on
for a white boy
passing for blue

Brandon J. Courtney
Kick the Door Closed, Make a Plaster Cast

─And just because you’re done gathering the trash at the base of the chain link fence doesn’t mean I have to fold my words into water to pulp the paper.  When you told me to load a kitbag with oranges and cross the border, I didn’t expect to float them down the river in exchange for light bulbs or coat hangers.  Teach me to cup my hands so we can drink from the dish water, teach me to open the window, prop it with overdue books─ if last night was abridged it would read like this: pursed lips as you yawn, playing cigarettes like woodwinds on the corner of the bed, penciling in shadows with mascara brushes on every family portrait.

If last night was unabridged it would read like this: There are no such things as ghosts in Virginia, unless the ghosts breathe themselves into the shape of umbrellas on chairs made in prisons by a thief who stole oranges and sailed them down the river like a boat made from newspaper, there’s no such thing as lightning, until you stand by the lamp switch─ flip it on and off to the cadence of the rain which is overflowing the birdbath and washing the peanut butter from the pine cones.

It appears now, the only way to navigate through this room is to build a compass from my pocket watch and regenerate your sticker stars on the ceiling with my flashlight.

There is no playing with words concerning the sea─ Emanuel Carnevali
They gave you a tombstone promotion and cashed the dead horses you were collecting in the bottom of your coffin rack. I was carried to the clipper ship for a mandatory circumcision. They put drop-ether into a coffee cup and filled the remainder with strawberry bilge wine,
Careless talk got there first.
The green-hands read Dear John letters aloud, some through talking tubes that that led directly to the yeoman, who transcribed every word on an old Smith-Corona. Some dry shaved, others used white primer to paint makeshift movie screens on the hangar bay doors, most fell asleep on the fantail, coffin screws counter sunk and sealed with red wax.
The boatswain piped the peek-a-boo moon as the goldbrickers danced an echo pattern on the forecastle, so dark the men announced themselves by name.
Those mindful enough evaporated seawater by holding handfuls toward the sun.
They issued miniature bottles of milk, illuminating rounds called star shells, white pill box hats with ice water and raw eggs. Some of the sailors raided the captain’s stateroom and threw the furniture overboard. Some gathered in a ring holding towrope, saying:

Eternal father strong to save/ whose arm does rule the restless wave/ oh hear us when we pray to thee/ for those in peril on the sea

There is no need to pull dead bodies aboard with a boat hook when the ocean is an autoclave.

Shannon Pell
-he’s fifty-

and we’re not too different
but he’s been cut by management
cost of living rises
and the pay keeps going down
yesterday he was complaining about not making enough
today he’s being walked out by a fat lady
with a little box full of his shit
and tomorrow he’ll be complaining about not making anything

and that’s just the way of the world
isn’t it
the weak and old who don’t get paid enough
get fired in an instant so the young can pick up the slack
while he’s
twenty grand in the hole for medical bills
but they didn’t fix him, never will
they just gave him pills
to keep him alive long enough to buy more

but enough about him
I’m twenty-four now and I should be making more money.

We are lying in bed and there are soft snores but they aren’t mine. I am staring at the ceiling in a position that is uncomfortable because I cannot sleep on my side with you taking up half the bed. I am tired and feeling cranky but refuse to gently push you aside, possibly waking you for my own insensitive needs. I argue back and forth with myself over who would be the insensitive one if I were to push you over, me for waking you, or you for always rolling into the center of the bed? But I never come to a conclusion in this argument. I just stare at the ceiling in a position that is uncomfortable because I cannot sleep on my side with you taking up half the bed. We are lying in bed and there are soft snores but they aren’t mine. I run a pair of fingers forked through your hair and caress your cheek. I love it when you smile in your sleep. I want to wake you to make love and tell you you’re beautiful, but I never do. I slide off the bed and wander outside into the winter in my boxers to smoke a cigarette as the tears come. I do not wish to wake you with them.

John Fleming
Into the Stars

    In crazy lines
the wheat was cut
the farmer thought
    aliens but
late one night
    he hid awake
   and found two boys
    with hoe
       and rake
he ran them off
    into the stars
he ran with them
    into the stars

5 thoughts on “Poetry #115

  1. thanks to all for reading and commenting–

    There is a short story this month ( February) at Outsider Writers Collective… probably on page 2 or 3 by now. There’s a link for OWC at the right of this page, if you’re interested

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