Poetry #121

New poetry by Lisa Marie Basile, Jeffery Berg, Steve De France, Joseph M. Gant, John Grochalski, Ivan Jenson, Laura McKee, Shannon McKeehen, Mangesh Naik, Felino A. Soriano, Echezona Udeze, Joseph Veronneau, Joanna M. Weston, and John Sibley Williams.

Mangesh Naik
Your name

Try raising your hand, without
knowing the answer, in the assembly
of gods – your name will echo forever,

in the goosebumps on your neck &
the name that is ultimately chosen
will be what will kill you. A name

trapped in ice. It’s identity buried
in snow , death cold in head. A name
to be blown out until it’s fire is required again.
Till then pretend to hide behind the mashed sun
that burns ever so sweetly upon the skin
& let pigeons, crows or doves stare at you;

those nameless little rats from the sky , spread
on the branches without trees . Their stares –
like cold nameless kisses inside your brain.

Eye Festival
This is only eyeballs eclipse.
But forever might be the darkness
Crows with sharp beaks making red
glass like scratches. The eyes
remain hurt not dead,
for them , in the morning
it was just another day
with themselves  before
a woman who thinks specs
are eye handcuffs made them hang
downside  up on the pole and dropped
like marbles on the silk floor
& now clever crows  throw
them like pebbles in the pot to
quench their  thirst, only there
is no water. Echoes of eyes
hitting the pot base and
wails of pain as the father eye
weeps. For pleasure of
the crows the mother eye sleeps.
Joanna M. Weston
ON THE TRACKS
mesmerized
by steel ribbons
gliding into distance
oblivious to
the train
hunting his back
he sees only
the rails
curving away
until the roar
overtakes
Echezona Udeze
golden tracks
each molecule of sugar made
sound bird is a harmony of jolting
i am fanatically obsessed
with your vibrational stigmatism
notes ascend staircases
glued with ecstacy each step
raspectability rings from throats
tone waves rise to fall at your ear
fiercely cute
they bare sharp teeth
these gritted mouths
trying to find
the well deserved buzz
trying to deliver god
Shannon McKeehen
Lake Merit
I watched the turtle in the water,
not knowing if it was alive.
He had to remind me that even death is useful.
Once we no longer need this skin,
something else can use it,
be nourished by it, appreciate it.
I only thought about the turtle,
not about the scavengers, the slight waves
in the water that made the turtle move.
I was happy to see it at first, innocent.
Just like I was when we first
saw the rabbit by our stoop.
“So cute,” I probably said,
not knowing any better.
Later, we found it in the same spot,
frozen, and we grieved.
What do we do with our love but spend it?
I stop making connections beyond
the larger creature, beauty stopping
before the cosmos but after the pulse.
The microorganisms deserve a fair shake;
they’re here too, feeding and yearning,
and Jesus, aren’t we all.
John Grochalski
die with dignity
they stop on the street
and watch
as the con edison worker
climbs a ladder
up to a streetlight
he begins scrapping away
with a long brush
pushing out old leaves
and other sundry items
that have gotten caught
in there during the winter
people are amazed by this
i don’t know why
i can’t get through them
to where i need to go
so i stop as well
i watch a man do his work
pushing and scrapping
as more debris falls over the street
there are pieces of twig
falling to the ground
onto parked cars
feathers of all types
paper and dust and plastic
we continue watching
the con edison man
has to work harder
something is stuck in there
he goes at it for a while
those of us on the street can
see the mass begin to move
we clutch our chins and anticipate
soon he has it loose
it falls to the ground
two dried bird carcasses
they look like pigeons maybe
when they hit the ground
they bust apart like a cracker
bits and pieces of their bodies
swirling around the street
void of form and dignity
like sawdust on a barroom floor
when somebody opens the door
on a windy, gray day.
Joseph M. Gant
Growing Young
abducted by the space where
shadows lie and wait to scare the old
with laughter and with joy.
this penance held in protest’s palm
with no escape. like Gacy’s
basement garden grown, youth now
buried, clown’s delight—
but children do not frighten well,
lacking cellular-rot insight.
Travel Logs
for all the breaths taken
to fill the balloon,
it deflates in the quick
turning of a boy’s
daydreaming eyes. limp
rubber of a joy
laying dead on the floor.
no more trying for that top shelf high reach,
promised in mirror’s fortune-
telling light. hands are washed of all that stood
to tell with promised eyelids
hawking loud a bill of goods . . .
. . . gone foul in transit.
Laura McKee
about the mirror and its pieces
I woke up on Sunday
To find my bed
Full of broken glass
A failed delivery to heaven
By the devil’s trolls
Had showered down
Shards and grains
Into upturned eyes
Embedded open hearts
And I realised
My entire life
Had been a trick with mirrors
Ivan Jenson
Word for word
Earth
means the
world to me
and I love
love
and hate
hate
but
could
care less
for carelessness
and negativity
has a negative
effect on me
I don’t
want to
want
and it
hurts
to hurt
so I
walk
the walk
and talk
the talk
take
each
day
a day
at a time
and
it ain’t
over
till it’s
over
and the plus-sized
lady sings
John Sibley Williams
Cross to City
From cross to city
courthouse, still morning
shouts yellow
against the brownstone façade.
Still blinded a moment
by the fresh emancipation
I know only as open space, wind,
pour the congregation
clutching to chest
their official white papers.
Still ash marks their foreheads,
smelling of gunpowder.
The married and divorced mingle
together in the glass lobby,
acting drunk and sanctified
and wiser than who they devour.
Someone in black is shooing black
and white geese from the lawn.
Roses swallow the courtyard gate.
Above its cold secular iron
still hang holy words.
And I’m composing an answer
to a dead man’s question:
“Is there anything sillier in life
than to be called Pablo Neruda?”
Jeffery Berg
Zombies
In the cemetery, right before rainfall,
a man lumbered towards us
with a bad leg and a wrecked face.
You told me he was coming to get me
and there, before our father’s plot,
I thought the man a widower
who had just placed flowers in front of his wife’s grave,
until the sky broke into thunder,
and he came upon you, strangling you
to the freshly clipped grass.
I kicked off my heels,
scrambled past the tombs,
towards the Dodge.
From the second story of an abandoned farmhouse,
before the light runs out,  I stand
in my gray trenchcoat and bare feet.
Through a space between the boards on the window
I look out onto all those people
staggering on the front lawn
from out onto the hills where the sun sets,
desperate to see your black frames.
Later tonight, I will be attacked,
I will wake to stumble
through overgrown fields, back to the cemetery
of our father’s plot
where we will find him: all bones and together,
the vultures won’t bother us
and we will just walk.
Steve De France
BLACKBIRDS
A dappled brown sparrow rests
on a kitchen towel. Neither young nor old
but of some indeterminate age.
Death would not be your first thought
but her breathing comes in short spurts of life,
her feathers ripple as if in a wind, yet the air is still.
She can neither sit nor stand but tilts dangerously
as if taking a curve in the road
or making a steep skyward sparrow-bank,
one that bends time and slides on wind currents
in some larger sky. I press the towel to prop her up.
For a moment she looks at me, not afraid
but with assessment.
Buttressed by the towel she can not
tilt to either side, so she falls backward
her head inclines sharply
wings extended high
eyes looking out from some
parallel sparrow universe
some place knowable only to birds.
Startled by a sudden wind gust
blackbirds swirl in expanding circles
their shadows marking the edges
of hemlock trees. Through the sun
it begins to rain.
Lisa Marie Basile
The Dream
I dreamed last night
that I wrote down the words
the world is a mask
of symphony and death,
and when I woke up,
there he was,
Marquez, in a suit,
smoking a cigar,
laughing with spitty lips
right in the moon’s way.
Amen, I understood.
Joseph Veronneau
Filing The Report
Where do they go
when the last quarters have been
dropped,
when the counter is wiped clean
one more round with the same tattered cloth
that appears like a knee high sock
used in a ’50’s gym class.
Why sweep at all?
Squad cars at the middle,
awaiting good reason
to draw questions to passers.
Sometimes, none are needed,
other times, the reason is too clear
and a hearty smile holds
the pleasure of a proper macing,
a good swift swing of a nightstick.
Why go home
or have last call at all?
They will return tomorrow
to fill drawers of prosperity
food is not even an option here
as it is in some
and you have to win the same
pool table
from the same players
night in
and out.
Leave the mop in the bucket,
no one needs shoes that clean.
Leave the televisions on
so news broadcasts may be heard
even when there are no attendants.
Put the tip back on the counter,
say this one is on me, thanks
anyway sir.
Forgive yourself the anguish
of reported vagrants,
violent fits of rage
before your eyes
over
ones who believe they are in love.
Grab your coat,
say farewell to the lost ones
on your way out.
As you take in your own last shot
of the evening, ask the cab driver
sitting at the end if he will give you a ride
for the free ones you tossed him earlier.
Sit in the cold winter of
a northeastern backseat
eyes flashing of movement–
no one there.
Felino A. Soriano
Approbations 403
—after Red Garland’s Soul Junction
Approbations 403
Partial sincerity of obliged conjectural
pseudo-imitation of gilded happenstance,
here, we’ve become
semblances of duotone, delicate
togetherness called
modified signatures, written
handheld manifest, participating wholly
permission towards leaning whisper we
give and withhold, manage and manipulate.  As
we strive
to hold onto liaison’s version of
accidental connection,
the whole of us continues
gathering breaths full of anxious,
cross-time patterns of inoculated
passions.
Partial sincerity of obliged conjectural
pseudo-imitation of gilded happenstance,
here, we’ve become
semblances of duotone, delicate
togetherness called
modified signatures, written
handheld manifest, participating wholly
permission towards leaning whisper we
give and withhold, manage and manipulate.  As
we strive
to hold onto liaison’s version of
accidental connection,
the whole of us continues
gathering breaths full of anxious,
cross-time patterns of inoculated
passions.

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