Poetry #122

Dorla’s note: I have been poetry editor at Gloom Cupboard for a little over a year. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some wonderful co-editors and read some fantastic poetry, as well as learn a few things about being an editor. But even good things come to an end. I am no longer able to give Gloom Cupboard the attention it deserves. So Poetry #122 is my last issue. The wonderful and talented Joseph M. Gant is taking over, and I look forward to the poetry he curates in future issues.

(P.S. – If you sent me a submission within the last month and have not heard back yet, your submission is still up for consideration; I have forwarded it on to Joseph.)

New poetry by Ashley Bovan, Alan Catlin, Richard Cronshey, Rachel Kalyna, Cindy Kelly, John Kuligowski, Lyn Lifshin, Michael N. Thompson, Liz Wells, and Lisa Zaran.

Lyn Lifshin

as if to keep pace
with everything turning
to stone in you much as,
when my mother was
so ill, becoming thinner
and thinner, something
in me, as if trying to
keep up, withered away.
I hear a clicking, a
reminder, as if what’s
coming past my teeth
might jolt and jar,
be harsh and metallic,
words that could scar,
tear lips and tongue,
words so tortured and
boiling nothing they
passed thru could be the

my mini skirts
are tiny. I gulp vitamins
vitamins, work out,
take ballet as if it was
whiskey. I may
try meditation next to
not grind my teeth
at night as if
mixing a dust of my
self to sprinkle
over your grave. But
I try to keep what
I can. In my drawer, the
photographs where
your hair was still
dark and curly
next to the azalea oil
my mother gave
me. I called
her that Sunday it
first sweetened the
afternoon, knew,
as I did that morning
I took you in the
kitchen leaning
against the dark wood,
replaced, but not
before you
wouldn’t be there
again, knowing what
seemed so normal,
ordinary, soon wouldn’t

Michael N. Thompson
Living on crusted bread,
The damned to God
Because nobody else
Seems interesting to them
Veterans of living hand to mouth
Congregate in the doorways
Of weekly hotels
Whose biggest draw
Is a color TV
A vagrant sleeps
Without any shoes
While wearing a carbon sheet
As a blanket
And he washes his face
With bilge water
The ghosts like this
Of North Beach
Echo through
Vacant eyes,
Grizzled faces
And barely audible voices
Of the damned
The daily soup line
Always draws a crowd
From the trodden-upon
Living in run down rooms
With Goodwill furniture
And the tobacco-breathed urchins
That hover like flies
Outside of the library
Though their body language
Screams of coal and cobalt,
These are pleasures
In their empire of coins
To the desperate
And the damned

Rachel Kalyna

Upon albino headlands, a hunter's halo 
expands the sky.
We stood west of wisdom,
unbalanced as glass. 
Nearly blind by breakfast.
Chemtrail steam is not constant, you say. 
But you say many curious things
(secretly believing in breath and midnight 
pavement levitation, shadowbox 
and buckshot lungs).
I refuse to trust a frenzy of ghost-words
and swear: the ground will howl your name
with implosive emphasis,
neck-kissing its nebulous parallel.
Quixotic, though, it may seem,
you secure red-slate on a skeletal crux;
promise cold contact to paper cut the child.
Protective, cryptic colors rush
inside the pinhole of my hidden room.
No necromancer
could resist a glimpse.
Now I wonder
about the echo of atmosphere
between our hands 
and how exotic animals walk 
on cardiac walls. 
Nothing can take this away
except tomorrow.

Lisa Zaran

How sad the self maiming
moon is.  Lonely hobbit,

even the owl doesn't see

whose very calling 
is to,

little gray, unpleasant
chine, a billion stars

surround you
and nobody 


John Kuligowski

He sucked the wisp of her
movement like an eggshell
and reached for the coffee. 
Her lips melted into the door. 
The meal arrived. 
She laid her perfect white neck
before him, cars flashed by,
a sussurus of voices. 
Their waitress glimpsed the
ten o'clock mouth,
What now?
That's it; we both know it.
Why not do this now?
What now? The tip-- 
The waitress takes the plates,
marvels at their refined
anonymity, the kind erosion
of their jackets in night.

Liz Wells
The moment you choose to abandon the boat
you’ve already become something else.
An entity that draws its breath underwater,
recalls the taste of rusted metal.
The moment you choose to lay down the old wood
that’s propelling you through the blue peaks
and valleys of the Willamette, you’ve already decided
the water looks more green than blue.
The moment you choose to drown out the cathedral bells
you’ve just noticed, you’ve already disappointed your father.
The river must now provide.
The moment you choose to swim or not
these moments do not apply.

Ashley Bovan
Just Outside Newport

My eyes letch around th
e contours and slopes o
f the river-bank both b
anks one eye left one r
ight following the shap
e as it bends widens na
rrows a loop a twist st
eep bank flat bank mudd
y dry weed-filled or ba
re on and on this train
trundles where am I goi
ng I wish I was back ho
me again looking at you

Richard Cronshey
All at One Time
the sound of waves
in a language
you can't remember
I keep for you
on a tray
High desert 
high tension
wire in wind
A horizon
only you can see
Silver line
beyond which
words cannot go
Thin white syllable
in which
your childhood lives
half asleep. 

Cindy Kelly

She was born close
to the clouds with a full head
of hair: Golden spun glass
hardened in the whip and wail
of the wind that tangled and matted,
stretched and pulled, carried her
in the breeze, and settled her down
in quiet places where her tears
dried hard and black
when they fell behind
her as she walked.

These shiny stones we steal
and she tells us in smoke signals
she does not like it.

Her back is straight as a cliff,
breasts round and cratered
like the moon, and she is good
at suitcases and making excuses
for sudden travel.

She keeps her little sister,
born in the shape of an egg,
black with pink spots,
tucked under her armpit,
hoping to hatch her.

Pele asks her brother,
a whirl wind of a fellow,
born with a shark's fin
on his forehead, to take her
and her egg sister far away.
They take a canoe
to the land of sugar
where she digs a house
on a mist-crowned precipice,
and sets fire to the trees.

Alan Catlin
Road Rash
The cast on his skin was
scarred and scabbed all
down the right side of his
face and arm where the tattoos
should be, presumably his side,
his leg beneath beat-to-shit jeans held
together by motorcycle oil and
grease, a length of rope through
loops, his one good eye focused
on the Black Jack's shot glass
he held in his left hand, long
neck PBR nearby for easy
accessing once the shot burned
its way to his rotted gut, "Marching
to the gallows is for pussies,
I'm a burn rubber right up
to the noose kind of guy."
He might have said, once they
removed the wires from his jaw,
the way he was drinking showing
how he got the worst case of road rash
anyone had ever seen on a semi-ambulatory
fool, you just knew he was hell bent
for disaster trying to outrace John Law
right into a wall if that's what it
would take to avoid a day before the law,
the hanging judge, who had a rap sheet a yard
long with his name on it and a mission
to see that the long, reckless ride ended here.

2 thoughts on “Poetry #122

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