Mary Walker Graham (Boston, USA): "Bright People"

Bright people, they say, start in the cucumber's middle,

      there; I love the fragrance. Some say snakes

smell that way, and so I like to think of it (two things at once); first,

a snake's hot skin in August, under the tomato tendrils;
second, walking through the woods alone, alert for the smell
of cucumbers...

...oblate seeds that slide out from under the knife, or spooned and blithely massed
on the edges of the cutting board...

    I begin with skin; this one's green, yellow-mottled,
void of wax. I did not get it at the grocery store.

    If I started (brightly) in the middle,
I'd have to worm my way out.


c. Mary Walker Graham 2008

Adam Fieled (editor, Philadelphia, USA): "Ode: On Exile"

No bells strike at Saint Matthew's; midnight
   means lights out; across Fayette Street, windows
send slow signals; but for hope of daylight,
   no means of evoking, painted or not, halos.
Occasional cars; the 7-11 parking lot empties
   not completely, the night crew forced to spill
     laced coffee, pills, down throats, past painted
faces reflecting gloom, as they plan candies
   passed around to kill behind, enemies
      locked in basements, unwilling dross killed.

Dull, dense, reptile-laden world- nature's phantom
   side, scarred with imperatives to destroy- I
stride past Calvary Episcopal, its handsome,
   enchanted spires, trying to forge a "who" and "why."
Caravaggio's John the Baptist, crouched darkly
   in murk, I superimpose on Conshohocken at
     night, including the succession into severed head-
knowing that in there (7-11), warnings sharply
   uttered mean nothing, less than nothing at that,
     humanity is lost, then its corpse is bled.

This is not the world I was born for- Butler
   Pike, a Honda pulls into the abandoned
Dairy Queen lot, the young male driver scuttles
   out into the apartment complex, fear-flattened-
as to what John Milton would say about these
   suburban straits, everyone changing form
     like Satan, a poet singed by lost innocence
up all night on his own pills, thoughts, caffeine-
    I divine he knew all this, putrid fires warmed
       to kill brains, rigid rules passed on, idiot to idiot.

c. 2015

Chris McCabe (London, UK): "Rotgut Whiskey"

The last teeth I count
are in the hand, not to
mouth; truth is a dog
with kittens, drunk on
winter tequila. My
mirror lost its glass,
wrote me a Dear
John note in dust. It
said, look out, & I did.
Saw the night, with its
one eyelid. Fed up
with detritus? Move
to this vacancy. Here,
light your own. The
stars go on and off,
like women turning
tricks for rotgut whiskey.

c. Chris McCabe 2009

Leonard Gontarek (Philadelphia, USA): Two Poems

ON LOVE

The woman was talking about how she had maybe
three cigarettes a week now, cut down from twenty
on a good day, while the barista ground into earth
my French roast. She wasn't with me, she was
with the other guy in line. Yet I was lost in
the death sentence of her down-to-her-ass,
fairy-tale hair. Just as I was surprised
by Autumn moments before.


AUTUMN II

Autumn leaves rustle and crumple.
The sound heard is like earlier,
when children rolled plastic hoops (yellow and scarlet)
in full sunlight. He possesses the self-same heart
he has previously. It was broken. It mended.
It was broken. Now it is simply in disarray.
The laundry, fragrant with lemon, floats
in the first visible backyard, like ghosts.

c. Leonard Gontarek 2010

Stacy Blair (Indiana, USA): "Photo Experiments"

Blonde locks jut out over the tops of pigtails,
bleached beach/sand-color by the sun.
Time's short between this photograph and my regard.
Picture: no flower lays or shoes, just
young grass hips. She is, I am, we were,
very young. The entire page of this album
flanks history; under my mind, another
helpless time explosion. I was, we were, are,
naked newborns, as our little limbs on film.

c. Stacy Blair 2008

Mary Walker Graham (Boston, USA): "My Favorite Word is River"

The lady maples dip their long green fingers into their own reflections.

And the train goes by twice, toot and toot.

The okra was so tall this year, ringed with crimson,
the Japanese beetles like scary mobile jewels. Imagine if her necklace walked...
(and ate holes in her thin skin, and had to be trapped
with sticky pheromone ooze.)

It gets thin and salty near the marshes.

Now I'm dining alone on the Sonoma Coast...

River rhymes with liver, which has the meaning

both of filter and of one who doesn't die.

c. Mary Walker Graham 2008

Steve Halle (Illinois, USA): from Blackbirds

Under the desk-
red plastic box
of Legos, from which
things were built
demolished brick
by plastic brick,
a place of origins
lays in wait

behind blue blinds,
a red light, an imagining,
made real by imagination.
The memory of its glow,
the ghost apparatus,
rising mind at bedside dawn.

Etched in the marble
of a city's empirical consciousness,
a dead man eternally bleeds.
Voices plead with his blood
for certitude, and construct

a reply, feels real enough
to pacify the weary mind,
the dry throat forming words,
yet the body reaches after
its own and another's carnality,
only flesh memories pacify,
not scripted visions of fantasy.

The lampshade grants
the bedroom understated light.
A turn-dial color TV,
one-hundred faux-fur paws,
magnitudes of material,
when love is pulled from warm hands.


c. Steve Halle 2006

Mary Walker Graham (Boston, USA): "On the Banks of the River in Winter"

As if for the first time,
the long low sound of the water
and the train just beginning

to round the bend and blow
its way through the dark tunnel.
How many times I've sat here

in summer: considered the chicory,
drawn the blue bridge flung
from bank to bank, or wondered

the names of the red flowers,
their throats like trumpets.
How many times I've not

given in to the weeping:
I can almost see her- Mary- the one
who lifts the Potomac mud

to her face and smears,
as if it were a balm and not
the original problem,

or the one with the bucket of fish:
she should return them but that would mean
letting them slip, silver and whole,

finally cast out from her. I'd rather
let them wander in the waters,
cold and insistent and crying.

c. Mary Walker Graham 2008

Nick Moudry (Philadelphia, USA): "Victoria, High Quality Pt. 2"

Film hits me with an OK boys
don't like this story
is my favorite sequence of course
under the she is under the illuminating hello
you are programmed to act
of your own talking turned into
a speech which says "Hi"
of course we are here to see you doesn't
belong here turns out to be very proud acts
just like a play the agent role is fragile
will you play of course you will if it is written you will
love it everyone sings under the
always evolving she hits me with a
character's all I have ever written
of course I want to be like all over the place
but she said it's too
cold outside to be standing around
thinking why don't you go fuck yourself
& she says let's go home & fuck
& I am thinking hey yeah
it's great to be an American

The biggest fuck you
about life is I'd probably sound more
messages into your machine
but am not entirely sure you like people
as far as I'm concerned I wish I could
wake up & no one is there or is
pretending to be there she holds
my hand I have no idea what she means
when she is so friendly you can say I am
lost behind everything or
it has been a long time since I even
thought of America was up til four o'clock
looking at us only often in the act

c. Nick Moudry 2006