If you squint hard enough, everything is beautiful–except you. A squinting face is fucking ugly.
Poems. Here. You are welcomed.
Poetry Editors, Gloom Cupboard
By John Grochalski
the girls sit on the bus
making each other laugh
they are doing
entertaining each other
caught up in their own world
they are not aware
of the puerto rican boys
watching them giggle
or the old men
watching them kick
their creamy legs
in catholic skirts
are not aware of their breasts
of mankind’s hunger and cruelty
they are sharing ear buds
and laughing out loud
the girls are sending
text messages to each other
working out a routine
that only they know
i love you
to each other
and hold hands
laughing the whole time
the evening doesn’t
want them to leave
but when they do
with cackles of youth and joy
and when they are gone
a cloud settles over the night
those of us remaining
are left with nothing
but this world
the hum of the bus
and the slim hope that something
better awaits us all.
By Raud Kennedy
In bed, prolonging the moments
before pushing back the covers.
The voice on NPR, a reporter in Afghanistan,
refers to the spring fighting season
as if he’s announcing the opening
of ski season at Mt. Hood Meadows.
I brush my teeth, minty fresh, extra whitener.
Death tolls from suicide bombings.
Toweling off after showering, it’s total US casualties,
a number that could be the population figure
of a small city. A city of dead young men and women.
The refreshing lather lifts my beard
as my triple bladed razor shaves my face kissable smooth.
Tell me again why we are there while I am here.
Bio: Raud Kennedy is a writer and dog trainer in Portland, Oregon. To learn about his most recent work, Portland, a collection of short stories, please visit www.raudkennedy.com.
This and that
By Peycho Kanev
I had rejected the whole discipline of
the arts and the governments, and I
understood everything that was
understandable for others:
I lift my whiskey glass now –
in this mist,
in this grey night
and I get everything:
the gentleness of the morning, the silence;
the walls weep like old paintings
burning in the bonfire; the sky, the black sky
Everything is real, unbent, and
shining and burning, like the fire in my
this thing in me:
screaming, wailing, wanting, demanding;
black as the night, eternal
as the face of the mountain, long as
the rope at the gallows, regal as the
dance of the fly in the web.
But I have a little more whiskey
and therefore a chance.
Bio: Peycho Kanev has been writing poetry for the past 10 years. His poems have appeared in more than 400 literary magazines, such as: Poetry Quarterly, Contemporary World Literature, The Copperfield Review, Ann Arbor Review, Midwest Literary Review, Third Wednesday, Burnt Bridge, Istanbul Literary Review, Loch Raven Review, In Posse Review, The Penwood Review, Mascara Literary Review, The Mayo Review and many others. He is nominated for the Pushcart Award and lives in Chicago. His collaborative collection “r”, containing poetry by him and Felino Soriano, as well as photography from Duane Locke and Edward Wells II was published in the spring of 2009 by Please Press. Also in 2009 his short story collection “Walking Through Walls” (Ciela), and in April 2010 his poetry collection “American Notebooks” (Ciela) both were published in Bulgaria. His new poetry collection “Bone Silence” was released in September 2010 by Desperanto, NY.
reading frost sober
By Leeroy Berlin
if designs of darkness govern in things so small
as spiders, moths, and the occasional heal-all
you could be forgiven for wondering
at the source of this feeling welling up
no empty bottles collected around
no bartender wiping the counter down
no prescription sedatives within reach
as if apple picking could get you sloshed
(he does mention cider in there the old
lush) numb your sense and senses, really
an honest mistake, easy to make when
every point’s dimpled until it pierces
nothing. while the sound of haze clouds your mind
you won’t forget that reality is
ambivalent and ambiguous, but
remember that emotions aren’t and
poems shouldn’t be–sure it rhymes and it’s kind
of, sort of, maybe in meter, but that’s
like playing tennis with half of the net.
maybe there’s something to be said for ill-
fitted order, but i don’t wear bad suits
or write Mussolini’s fan mail, so I
don’t see it, and rhyme’s like salt: my blood pressure’s
high enough already.
Bio: Leeroy Berlin lives in Southern California where he writes about the things that keep him from sleeping at night.
Quest for the Perfect Typewriter
By Paul Hellweg
Quest for the perfect typewriter,
lightweight, portable, possible to take backpacking.
I have one cached up in the Sierra Nevada,
five more standing by at home,
none just right, all too heavy,
unreliable, batteries don’t last,
ribbons impossible to find, or
worst of all,
incapable of producing great art.
I’ve just ordered another.
I know in my heart
with the right typewriter
I’ll soar above my self-imposed
limitations and insecurities.
The typewriter of my dreams,
the poetry of my soul
beckon like the Lorelei,
all I need is a credit card not over its limit,
faith in myself, and the courage
to give my heart to the hawks.
Acknowledgment: Last line based on Robinson Jeffers.
Bio: Paul Hellweg has had over one hundred poems published since his debut in 2009. He won the 2009 Coatlism Press full-length poetry book contest, and he has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. For more, please see: www.paulhellweg.com.
Battle in Heaven
By Laurie Mackenzie
When does my soul, lover
Go back toward God
I ask her.
And fall out into the sea up there?
Between two waves of time with the names
Knowing… and not knowing.
When going toward his own death, she answers,
The father who has forgotten his child, receives forgiveness
For not pulling him out when the child was drowning in thesea which lies beneath us.
And he cries afterwards, in wonder
Where his own life has gone and
What his only seed has grown through thorns to breathe.
But does the child really breathe or is he only choking?
Knowing and not knowing.
That this is hell, this life, inside the stone he’s carried.
That these are flames of fire he has swallowed from it
By squeezing the life from the stone with his hands
Which after years, those hands, have become like stonethemselves.
The flames flow through to his stomach to tie a burningknot.
But it can be untied, she says to me. He knows that.
Everyone whose seen him when under fire knows it too.
It can be untied, and unravel, she says, voice of God in herthroat.
Become a thousand pieces, what had been one, whole.
God will come down and untie the knot.
The child from his room, bound by his father there,
Where ghosts are killing one another to have the boy’s onetrue thought.
There he will see God coming down,
And terrible angels who trail behind his running garmentsand white horse.
They will come also, with blind faces, affectionately,
Slaughteringthe ghosts in the room.
Toss their empty, hollow bodies from sealed windows.
Crack the glass in the child’s ears so he can hear again
As one sees after shedding tears.
I know the father will rise again also,
She says to me.
In the very way all his life, he’s dreamed of.
But you have to unbind yourself from the spirits
Of men and women
Whose bodies flow in the river beneath your feet.
You can see them, she says, as one looks into glass
And sees the shadow standing behind his own reflection.
Yet the mirror is untrue, she tells me,
And that we will have to shatter it, together.
As the father tries with his heart to shatter the son
And the son, in his turn, will try to kill the father, butcannot.
And these two go on wrestling inside one another,
Till God comes down sometimes to tear them apart
And demands there be a moments peace from the war in heaven.
By Kevin Ridgeway
The sizzling asphalt of the back roads
twisting and turning as we blast
old rhythm and blues and freewheeling anthems
the soundtrack of our ongoing manic banter
misquoting enigmatic lyrics lost in the sonic fuzz
but the guitar solos were never to be misunderstood
My scars are healing nicely, nice enough to
continue on with my fledgling scribble frenzy
of surreal comic strips detailing society’s
untimely demise in the guise of fur covered
creatures being devoured by harrowing Yeti’s
my fan club is a trio of soul sisters who
file my nails and fan my smoking ears
and dump out my collection of bottles
with a playful tsk, tsk
Sing a triumphant song at the mountain peaks
fading in the night, the moon reflecting spotlights
on our burlesque here in the rural Section 8
housing cubicles nestled on the edge of
bumpkin woods arguing sociopolitical terms
with the blob of sunburned stockcar fanaticism
who blasts fist-shaking burn the world down
blood gushing slaughterhouse symphonies
It won’t be long until she sends me away
back to the sunburst doom of California
trapped in a cage of unwanted hometown nostalgia
suburban childhood haunts to revisit
for many years striving to reclaim the
glories of those heated angry days of
When California breaks apart from
Arizona, Nevada, Oregon and Mexico
to its grave at the bottom of the sea
that will be my ticket back to that
drunken transient paradise
stored in the hidden hole-in-the-head safe
of intoxicating memories.
Bio: Kevin Ridgeway is a writer from Southern California. He studied creative writing at Goddard College and Mt. San Antonio College. Recent publications include The Left Coast Review and Insomnis Veritas, with a forthcoming publication in Breadcrumb Scabs. He lives in a shady bungalow with his girlfriend, one-eyed cat and overdue library books.
By Georgia Kreiger
My sister and I plant daggers
in the pliant ground that is our mother,
plant daggers in rows
with a smooth arcing motion.
A dagger is not a seed,
but more like a cell that divides itself
and multiplies itself and spreads
and becomes a house,
rows of houses and fires within,
a village that stretches to the edge,
the place where the sun disappears.
My sister is a fire, a stoked fire
in a window far across fields and roads
and rows of houses, a red blaze
like the first rush of blood.
Bio: Georgia Kreiger lives in Western Maryland, where she teaches literature and creative writing. Her poems have appeared in Earth’s Daughters The 2River View, poemmemoirstory, The Orange Room Review, Literal Latté, Poet Lore, Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Outerbridge, Backbone Mountain Review and others.