Words have a way of staying put even after they have escaped the mouth of someone, even after the speaker or writer has long-since passed away.
In this way, words are a sort of magic or sorcery (as a friend describes them: that they posses the power to evoke things from within people, similar to summoning entities). And it holds true, still, that words don’t need to wait for their creator (or conveyor) to die.
Some of us who have the privilege to speak or write for others that cannot, or that do write but their work is withheld from us. Or they themselves are withheld from us, like detainees. Or “not like” but actual detainees, prisoners, like the ones that are on hunger strike in Pelican Bay and Guantanamo Bay.
I agree with this.
Imagine what the world would’ve been like if we were taught to read poems instead of the alphabet or the pledge of (imperialist) allegiance in grammar school. I say it purposefully in the past-tense since it’s safe to say we are past the point of no return, buckle your safety-belts, hug your loved ones – or the closest ones to you, for any matter – the Earth is getting ready to wake up and shake off all its capitalistic parasites like the bothersome fleas upon the ass of a sleeping dog.
In this issue I am proud to say that although some of the poets and their characters featured here have altered their physical being, their crystallized thoughts live on – like a friendly haunting. In that, honor that, bare through this rambling intro and read the poems below.
Once last thing:
Better late than never, right? I apologize for the lack of consistency in publishing Gloom Cupboard poetry issues. I should be able to publish regularly now, once a month.
For the poets that want to get publish, and I know it’s somewhat misleading because of the name of the website, but please stay away from gloomy poetry – unless, like, you’re Silvia Plath or your entire family was misplaced due to an ongoing war in your motherland.
The Last Remaining Poetry Editor to Stand Up and Walk through the Apocalyptic Burning Streets of Los Angeles
NO THANKS, JESUS
By Judith Mensch
You didn’t do us any favors
By being the perfect human
Couldn’t you have shown some imperfection—
Flaw to catch
Limitation to hail
Vulnerability to warm our hearts
as if there could ever be a perfect human
whose idea is this anyway?
To hold us to the torture
Of impossible standards and
Encourage our hearts not to faint
When we grow weary of never being
What we can never be
Bio: Rev. Judith Mensch served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church. She began writing poetry in the last years of her life, as a way of responding to and coping with breast cancer. She passed away in 2003.
THE MERMAID OF KURLA
By Aftab Yusuf Shaikh
In her town, Kurla of Bombay,
She was rushed to the
A life squeezing pain, the
Final one after months of hurt.
As a result of which she gives birth.
Boy or girl, it was asked.
Its mermaid, said the hospital
Worker, even so her own mother,
Sirenomelia, the doctor in
His language said.
Legs joined as one, the baby
Born of prayers and hopes.
Destined to breathe maybe two more
Days. Not human to live
But in many ways, shall
Stay fresh in the memory
Of a distraught mother.
What Makes Sense and Doesn’t Make Sense
By Jon Bennett
On the third day sober
there’s nothing to do but go fishing.
I buy frozen grass shrimp
at a liquor store that sells bait.
The perch used to take shrimp
but either there appetites have changed
or there aren’t any fish
under the cigarette butts and styrofoam cups at the pier.
There’s a seagull watching me.
It’s perfect, statuesque, vigorous.
I start feeding it the shrimp.
“All you want,” I say to it,
“is to eat and fuck.”
It makes sense I’m bored and cold
and the fish are gone from the pollution
but it doesn’t make sense
I would want anything more
than that seagull.
By Dane Karnick
He played Solitaire
like eating breakfast
mandated by MS
his motor control
unable to match
the shift of weight for
to comply with his
at forty years
so many body parts
against rugged terrain
intersecting the clock
his legs opposed
during lift-off from
the Lazy-Boy to
pursue the bathroom
the toilet could be
by his return trip
grasping the rails
in the hallway
to the living room
blessing him with rest.
Bio: Dane Karnick grew up by the Colorado “Rockies” and lives in Seattle. His poetry has recently appeared in madswirl, Otoliths, Emerge and Gloom Cupboard. Visit him at www.danekarnick.com.
bottom shelf whiskey
By Marie Nunalee
you are over the
age of twenty-one.
you enjoy bottom shelf whiskey for some unfathomable reason.
you enjoy bottom shelf whiskey best when it is free so much
that you drink the unattended bottom shelf hundred proof whiskey someone else left sitting
on the kitchen counter though you are
well-acquainted with the concept of property being the citizen
of a capitalist nation; to
prevent the owner of the bottom shelf hundred proof
whiskey from deducing your red-handed thievery
you make a note of the approximate
fire water level before you pour any,
perhaps it drips seductive, ocher into
your half-empty lukewarm can of Co-Cola,
perhaps you take a sip and cannot taste it,
pour s’more. when
you are done you release the lever
of the kitchen sink faucet your landlord installed in 1975,
hold the ersatz half-gallon carafe under its flow until you are satisfied that it looks about right,
just as you did when you were high school age
living under the same roof as Mother,
who assumed she must
more than she had realized.
TONIGHT THE N TRAIN
By Mary Murphy
should i have raised my hand
when the man on the train searched for sinners
to save like shells on a beach
shoved in deep pockets
to recover as souvenirs when he can’t remember
how to save himself
never mind the ocean
or how it can be blue
we prefer to think in simple terms
but even the bible ends
even he walked past
when my lungs dragged air
like a tidal pull
and i wanted to know love
By Saleem Patterson
I have all the makings of a bad writer.
Grammar, punctuation, spell and talent
I have little to none in each of these categories
the one thing I do have is vision
I can see
the world I’d like to live in
I can see the world I’d like to create
I see the world around me
I don’t know what makes a “good” writer
without vision all you are left with is the ability
to win a spelling B, use a semi-colin, make a sentence,
Write a correct essay and have an abundance words
to pick from.
Hindsight, foresight, insight, perspective…
you leave the readers world
If you can’t truly see what you
want to portray how can you
truly explain it?
I don’t know what makes a “good” writer
I know I have all the makings of a “bad” writer
at least I have the
to see that
Bio: Saleem Patterson is a San Fernando Valley scumbag who makes his living selling alcohol to other scumbags at local bars. When he’s not writing poetry, he’s in jail. When he’s not in jail, he’s painting, smoking, drinking, fighting and capturing the beauty of a pornographic world.
Of Some Man
By Jessica M. Wilson
A criminal – someone. Making crime committed against social expectation.
Crime of action:
deliberate… when a hand reaches to take bread,
stretch farther than comfortable,
there is silence that recognizes action of hands,
mind made to reach harder decisions.
Imbalance to society…
But when a hand lashes down to punish a criminal,
there is no tolerance, or redemption to be found.
Enforcers carry gloves, so their hands will not bloody,
so they won’t spoil their appetite
to dine with their families,
shake the fragile palm of a plump baby girl,
weigh down into another person’s face – watching the water
drip from their eyes; tolerance removed.
Tyler calls them “The Keepers”, earning a living to watch and mitigate the torment of
bastardized sons and daughters of the “system”.
There is nothing left to assure ourselves – atrocities of the night –
So glad police took them away – purged the streets,
but how far does it go: detainee, parolee, criminal and incriminated…
How long does punishment last? How much time makes it fair?
For 10 years you are punished.
For 25 to 50 years you are taken through a labyrinth carved out in cement and jagged razors, tainted blood spills over the sheets
until more time passes the ageing faces of judgment.
No purgatory could sit still enough to outlast this prison system
ridiculed “just deserves”.
How so… when the hoses turn on,
and the nozzles are broken
so the stream aims wrecked in the face of incarceration ——— and these
are the nationals. Citizens of America.
In the land of Guantanamo the heads are hoisted on top of “Old Glory”,
as lady loves fly over to witness the deaths of their many men –
boxed up by pedigree,
held only by their bones, in spindles
of mummified cloth,
varnished strands of hair, to blink in the air,
or whatever’s left of the tapping body of National distrust.