Poetry

Two Poems: “ageing” & “reborn”

by Dan Jacoby

ageing

sometimes at the end of the day
just before giving up on waking
trying to gather thoughts
about the next day
failures, victories
like a preening tom cat
going over old ground
listening for a sound, a chance
to minister some resolution
a figment like gatsby
fresh to the scent
of daises and coke bottle glasses
found in barbwire wastes
I hear the house move
just so in the hard wind
cat hears it too
he hears much more than I
ears still ringing
from a 1960’s firebase shelling
back cramping, flinching
hears my heart racing
sensing an incoming old terror
mind no longer in neutral

reborn

where does one catch
the moon taxi for the bayou
you think you know
you have no idea

brother, you don’t know the road
its’ roots go deep
hidden in the kudzu of time
a thin line between genius and delusion

destructive power in blind ambition
when you’re ankle deep in horseshit
with that three on a tree
in high gear on bald tires

early lunch, tacos and beer
moonshine in the trunk
trying to find spirituality
on a tractor or in bottom pasture

one can always go back to that place
and pull the pain back up
sitting with a bottle of sour mash
making obscene coyote calls

momma said it was just a phase
growing up southern baptist
a little too rigid, just elohim
too low on air

like an old stern wheeler
trying to capture the rhythm of the river
navigating the snags of mussle shoals
to avoid an early grave

an all too fast tequila boogie and
jukebox playing chautauqua hymns
left over from an old medicine show might
leave enlightened cab fare to gather at the river

Dan Jacoby was born in Chicago in 1947. He has published poetry in Indiana Voice Journal, Haunted Waters Press, Deep South Magazine, Lines and Stars, Red Booth Review, Wilderness House Literary Review, Steel Toe Review, and Red Fez. He is a member of the American Academy of Poets.

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“Early Education”

by John McKernan

I would only read
Books on spiders and butterflies

During religion class
I often fell asleep and dreamed
Of meeting God at a baseball game

The first time I watched
A classmate draw an image [of an ant]
On a blank sheet of paper
I said I don’t believe that

At recess the nun
Would randomly show us some thing
A dead baby hummingbird
Or a monarch butterfly
Wrapped tight in a spider web

She never stopped whistling on the playground

John McKernan – who grew up in Omaha Nebraska – is now a retired Comma Herder / Phonics Coach after teaching 41 years at Marshall University. He lives – mostly – in West Virginia where he edits ABZ Press. His most recent book is a selected poems Resurrection of the Dust. He has published poems in The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review, The New Yorker, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Journal, Antioch Review, Guernica, Field and many other magazines

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“Found Poem”

by Mark Jones

a snapshot
of someone’s dad
lying on the sidewalk,
fallen maybe twenty feet
from home

Mark Jones is an English professor and amateur jazz pianist who lives in Blue Island, Illinois. His most recent creative work has appeared or is forthcoming in Bewildering Stories, Crack the Spine, Lantern Magazine, and Vine Leaves Literary Journal.

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“Keep It Terse”

by Beverly Cummings

Walking becomes deeper with the daffodils, crocuses, tulips and hyacinths.  The magnolia tree in full blossom.  A lost lover in front of the building.  Realize it is an illusion.

Waking up in intensive care, clinging to life; a suicide case.  My mother says we almost lost her a few times.  My once upon a time husband tells me when he visited in hospital I was totally insane.  The doctors said I might never recover.  He left in tears.  Recognizing psychotic thoughts is more than a pastime.  I have been ill for years at a time.  It is by a miracle I am sane again.

Flesh on the bone, is growing old the realization of how much time you waste and have wasted?  The need for probity, yet wanting to atrophy. I am losing the generation that spawned me.  Try for quiet but the mind rumbles.  Am I winning or losing this battle?  Things have changed.  I don’t know where I’m going.  Growth is like a tumour.

This week deranged; the unexpected careening up, full of turmoil and disorder.  I watch the evening news and my psyche  calms.  The planet so crazy.

Even paper flowers wilt.  The nacreous evening sky arcane.  The downtown sirens.  Keep it terse.  Like pointillism the world is visible between the atoms.  Swarms of  red ants clot the sidewalk.  Crazy touch, the way the moon moves in and out of your fingertips.

Beverly Cummings was born and lives in Ottawa, Canada.  She has previously published poetry in a number of little magazines, most recently the online journals The Steel Chisel and Monday’s Poem. She has been a frequent contributor to The Voice and Open Minds Quarterly.  She has three times placed as an Honourable Mention in Open Minds Quarterly’s annual Brainstorming poetry contest.  She has five self-published chapbooks.  She now has a trade book:  A Good Death.

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A Series of Poems

by Michael Estabrook

Fate

I step over a penny in the street
Dad you can’t leave it there
bring it home save it
it’s bad luck if you don’t

Okay honey I didn’t know
I pick it up promptly & drop it
through a sewer grate

Dad No!
she stops and stares
her hand over her mouth

Bring it on you bastard!
come and get me
I yell to whoever this vindictive
petty penny-pinching god might be

Nothing happened
(but you already knew that)

Heat Wave

When you get to be my age
95 degrees is dangerous
stay indoors
in front of the fan
hydrate obviously

Time for me to get up
on the ladder shirtless at mid-day
finish painting the gutter and overhang
I enjoy taunting the gods
they’ve been doing it to me
for 65 years already
the sons of bitches!

Inanity

He doesn’t watch the news
because it’s awful, sad, frightful
and frightening, depressing
and mindlessly redundant
and most of the “anchors”
are clueless idiots
more concerned
with their own celebrity
than reporting the news.
Although many of
the “newswomen” are pretty
some even have long legs
and cute bottoms.

Progress?

Decades ago
as a traveling pharmaceutical sales rep
I managed to take care
of my customers
perfectly fine without
the urgent necessity of laptops
cellphones, iPads, tablets
email, voicemail, texting and tweeting
by frequenting an old-fashioned pay phone
in the Howard Johnson’s lobby
in the Cranford rest area off exit 136
of the Garden State Parkway.

Recess

Swaggering, shoulders swinging
thick-legged golfers clomp
into the clubhouse lobby
after their games are done
glaring this way and that
in their shorts and baseball caps
brash voices bellowing
their exploits on the links
so everyone within earshot
can enjoy their triumphs too
and notice them in their post-game splendor
big-baby boys really
still playing king of the hill
in the schoolyard at recess
trying to impress the little girls.

Michael Estabrook is a recently retired baby boomer poet freed finally after working 40 years for “The Man” and sometimes “The Woman.” No more useless meetings under florescent lights in stuffy windowless rooms. Now he’s able to devote serious time to making better poems when he’s not, of course, trying to satisfy his wife’s legendary Honey-Do List

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“Twenty-Something in Los Angeles”

by Morgan Nikola-Wren

we’ve transplanted
our gargantuan movie collections
into bigger apartments now

the previous tenants have left behind
a lifestyle that we are still
growing into
like a hand-me-down sweater
from an older cousin halfway across the country
a college drinking game
splays across a glass table
that we’ve only just
been able to afford

now we
host devilry
turned dinner parties
and the concept is as new
as this popping in our joints
now we
crick like this
tick like this
we are time bombs
counting shitty drafts
sub-par songs
and scathing reviews
until our dreams
reach their expiration date
and we sour
into stereotypes

this silicon city
gives you an eternity
to grow up
but only a second
before you grow old
so i fight time
like some climactic battle scene
stifle the ticking inside me
soak the burning fuse
in fast-chugged beer
till my belly swells
round as a cartoon bomb
till all the stories i burn to tell
drown in questions

like how many
writers
actors
songstresses
found words
ten times as sharp as whiskey
in their throats
by my age?

and how the hell
my hair has begun to thin like this
before i’ve even
been to Europe?

Morgan Nikola-Wren attended college to study Theatre Arts, but ended up scribbling manically until 3 AM for many-a-night. She favors sweeping, lyrical prose with a satiric bite, and moments that stir you from a place inside you can’t even name. Morgan lives in Los Angeles’ backyard and swims in fountains when she has writer’s block. Follow @WrenAndInk on Twitter.

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“Repentance”

by Jared Pearce

In the spirit of coming clean
I confess that, as a boy,
I played video games and
was never once very sorry

To be pirating seas
or slicing imaginary cosmos—
to fall so far into the dream
that I could be as wonderful

As I could make my avatar be.
But now such wasted
hours damage the fragile
years of youth, the experts

Explain, drawing a bead
with their laser pointers
on a three-dimensional graph
much like a maze I’d like

To solve on a rainy Sunday.
Still, since my priests say
I’ve got to realize my inner life,
my latent talent must

Be rendered to Jesus
(though I wonder if God plays
us like real-time),
who sees through all the screens

To the heart’s truth. Yeah,
I’m pretending to practice
my guitar (I stink); hallelujah,
I’m back in shape by running

The mile (I stink); Praise Him,
His Holy Word like cinnamon
erupts in crimson poems
off my tongue (that stink);

Love me Jesus, say
I’m holier as I drift
image to image to image,
from level to level to level

Of holiness—let my High
Score of Divine Grace
demolish that of the other guy
so the me you make

Is the token you played,
dragged through a dungeon,
resurrected to perfection, and,
frustrated by the puzzle, lost

When you crashed the whole
damned machine, angry
that a mere scene outwit you,
then hurrying back for a revision.

Jared Pearce often teaches literature and writing at William Penn University. Just as often he teaches how to get life to mean something. His poems have recently appeared in The Deronda Review, Of(f) Course, Marco Polo, Tiger Train, Hospital Drive, Earth’s Daughters, and etc.

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