Poetry # 140

I was standing in front of Bar 107 on 4th Street in Downtown Los Angeles, smoking. A man approaches me, admits he’s homeless and asks if I would like him to write me a poem for a modest contribution. The idea struck me as sad and beautiful (although, admittedly, if you are going to offer your services, writing poetry for strangers is probably not the most sought after service; maybe if he could sew or cook, he’d be better off, but, alas, some talents you do not ask for; they follow you forever like an unwanted child). I politely refused and we both walked away, but I am bothered, nagged by a feeling that things should not have ended this way.

It’s getting unusually colder, especially for LA, with temperatures dropping below 40, or at least it felt that way. Cold, bitter winds numb my feet and hands. I can only imagine how those without warm rooms or homes to go to feel; I think of the poet in front of the bar.

Then, I see him. For a second, he doesn’t remember me and begins to ask if I’d like a poem for a modest contribution. I stop him. He remembers me. I let him know that although I have no money, maybe if his poems are good enough, I can publish one on this little Internet magazine that I volunteer for and ask if readers, if so moved and able, can contact him directly and see if anyone can help through this arrangement.

So, that’s the story. His name is Kenneth Towler. His email address is: kentowle@aol.com. If anyone can help in any capacity, please do.

The rest of the poems in this issue supplement Kenneth’s story: loss, defeat, desperation and beauty and our attempt at crystallizing it by using cold, restrictive barriers, by using the fascism of words.

Luis Rivas

Henry Ajumeze

Amber Bromer

Poetry Editors at Gloom Cupboard

Memory
By Kenneth Towler

This is my plight, and
it isn’t right—what has
become me. I see all beings
and I know what grows in
the realm that finds no
peace.

I grind the wickedness into
nothingness and in my
ignorance, it loves me so.

This I know, that I am
worth a million you’s,
and you are worth a
million moments,
memorized for the sake
of time

Bio: I was born in Evansville, Indiana in 1969. I was a very serious child. My mother told me that when I was very young, if I didn’t like the problems that the math teacher put on the board, instead of solving them, I would make up my own problems to solve. I moved to California in 1979, to Los Angeles, then, very quickly to South Pasadena. I went to Marengo Elementary School, and South Pasadena JR. High and High School. I went back to Evansville for my senior year and graduated from Harrison High School. My greatest loves are the pen and the piano. I love to write music. Poetry is my first love though, and always will be. I went to college sporadically, majoring in Human Services. My hope is to be able to sell my music eventually, on a regular basis, as a supportive income. I would like nothing more than to be in a studio all day every day, creating music for the rest of my life.

Mission
(For Charles)
By Keith Charles Dovoric
This town around us
is collapsing
dissolving
into droplets
one hydrant at a time
and all you and I
can do
is stay inside
and make love
When the town officials
come by
to evacuate us
you will not stir
and I’ll politely
answer the door
in my swath of modesty
thanks but no thanks
we aint goin
too much to do
right here
Let the immigrant bakers
have the island
& keep their ovens full
to feed the masses
Let commercial realtors
express their pain
on woebegone For Sale signs
& wonder tremulously
at the city gates
O why o why
does no one visit
our beloved town
any longer
We’ve not such discomfiting concerns
our plan is set
right here
in this home
its poor foundation
atrophied by tiny waves
that mirror the helicopters
which hang in the sad late-August sky
Let’s get down to business
though the power goes out
there’s still some day left
just enough light
to begin the ritual
& start the mission
to repopulate this city
But you are already pregnant
I touch your belly
it is heaving jumping swimming
a mystery lies beneath
my son being sculpted
and I wonder,
In which town will this child
take residence
perhaps no town,
perhaps all the towns
One day,
he will lie
in comfort, smiling
waiting to begin
a mission of his own
such as this.

Bio: Keith Charles Dovoric is always up to something. New Jersey born-and-based, he is/has been a writer, teacher, musician, songwriter, singer, would-be poet, dutiful husband, and expectant father. His credentials are solid: Poems published in national anthologies as well as on the internet.  Songs registered under Federal Copyright. A prize from the prestigious George A. Jones Writing Award for the poem, “Slaughterhouse Hooks.” CD recordings with local NJ rock ‘n’ roll bands such as the SUDs and Palomino. Countless videos of his works-in-progress on YouTube.

Snow
By Kristina Moriconi
I am driving when it happens. From the passenger seat,
my daughter plays with the radio.
Traffic halts in all lanes.
We are close enough to see the body in the road,
the blood on its fur, four legs twitching.
Two police officers tie rope around the front legs,
then the back, securing the knots.
We are gapers, wide-eyed,
watching as they drag the deer off into the snow
plowed to the side of the road.
I do not think to shield my daughter from this—
sixteen, her first experience with death, so violent.
I think back—I am ten or eleven,
catching butterflies with my father,
mounting them on boards like prizes.
At least she is not complicit. At least she does not hold
the killing jar, push pins through the thorax.
She is a silent witness.
One police officer draws his gun.
A single shot, close range, to the skull.
We shudder as the bullet jolts the body,
lifts it from the blanket of snow, now sanguine,
until finally it is still. My daughter sighs
then asks urgently if I remember the three-legged deer
we once fed in our backyard.
That winter, a record-breaking snow fell.
Along the fence, we left carrots and waited.
Arms latched, we lowered ourselves onto the snow.
As our breath fogged in the night air,
the three-legged deer loped toward us.
We watched his jaw move from side to side,
crunching the carrots until they were gone.
I stole glances of my daughters’ faces:
Their red cheeks and noses,
their eyes seldom blinking.
I knew then we would always remember that night.
I know now my youngest daughter
will never forget
the skull-crack sound of a bullet.
The stillness of a body. The blood-red snow.

Bio: Kristina Moriconi lives and writes in a small suburb outside Philadelphia. Both of these facts keep her from sleeping at night. She has published her work most recently in The Smoking Poet and Splash of Red.

The Shape of Everything Else
By Peycho Kanev


I will wake up when the sun is high in the sky,

and I will drink nothing but water.

And I will walk under the trees

until they become indignant of my eyes.

 

I will enter some old and big house with 22 doors

that will lead to nowhere.

And after that, I will go back to the point

where it began.

The old books give me some minor relief

that evaporates slowly in time.

I promise to all the small gods that I will be different,

and I will not carry too much cash in my pockets.

When I start to write all the words of the future,

I will not pray to Buddha or Christ, but to the potted plant.

In some holiday, I will go to the cemetery

to light a candle for all the dead of the future.

The sea will befriend me only as the deep water that it is

and not like the place where I engaged old age.

And this lonely view through the windows of the world

will not make me shiver any more.

Let me mention all of my former loves and tell them

that I don’t remember anything else but the quietness.

Because the poetry of silence, my dearest,

is all that you have received, but never deserved.
Bio: Peycho Kanev is the Editor In Chief of Kanev Books. His poems have appeared in more than 500 literary magazines, such as: Poetry Quarterly, The Monongahela Review, Steam Ticket, Midwest Literary Review, Third Wednesday, The Cleveland Review, Loch Raven Review, In Posse Review, The Penwood Review, Mascara Literary Review and many others. He is nominated for the Pushcart Award and lives in Chicago. In 2009 his short story collection Walking Through Walls and in April 2010 his poetry collection American Notebooks both were published in Bulgaria. His poetry collection Bone Silence was released in September 2010 by Desperanto, NY. A new collection of his poetry, titled Requiem for One Night, will be published by Desperanto in 2012.

Independence
By Elias Van Son
when i was twelve, my older brother
got a flat tire on his bike.
he made the mistake of taking my bike,
and when he returned, told me
with his right foot
that i was to fix his flat.

i walked into the yard,
unhooked the dog from his line,
and began to swing the chain over my head
in broad circles.
when he turned his head toward the sound,
i swung the chain full-force
and knocked out his right eye.
it was hanging off his face,
dangling by the optic nerve,
and he screamed like a woman being raped.
after that day, he never raised his voice or asked me
for anything.

About the window
By Krishna Balachandran Nair

Someone had
shut my window,
i opened  it.
when i kept it closed,
someone fancied
keeping it open.
–i want it shut.
I am glad
the window is there
either opened or closed.
what time is it?

Bio: Krishna Balachandran Nair writes poetry and short fiction in English, Malayalm and Tamil. A one-time news journalist, he draws from the fading memory of his news-hunting days to fuel his creative engine. He lives in Thiruvananthapuram, a quaint historical town by the sea in Kerala, in the southern tip of India, the original spice country where miracles never cease to happen.

Customer Service Representative
By Matthew Byrne

 

Your voice looks like a brunette

with a repressed domination fetish.

Oozing like ectoplasm from some strange

dimension, your words expose blistered

heels, arches aching for massage.

I can’t help but notice a dark blastula

gestating inside your cheeriness,

but that is for another time.  Now

the picture flowing into my ears reveals

earthy eyes above flaring nostrils you find

ugly, but I disagree.  I hear freckles

slithering suggestively in places even

your own gaze has yet to traverse

until you transfer me to the party

you call “appropriate,” and disappear.

Bio: Matthew Byrne has appeared in some journals, most notably Best American Poetry 2007, edited by Heather McHugh.  He received his MFA from the University of Montana in 1999 and, naturally, now works in insurance.

Published by peace is illegal

I am a writer of pornography, of politics and murder.

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