Eileen R. Tabios

CANDESCENCE
(May 2022, Napa Valley)

White roses bring
snow amidst
drought—

The same white
of ashed
cities—

The same white
of pages
emptied

of solutions with
consolation existing
only

by smoothening issues
into virtual
images—

flattening substance into
white roses
blossoming

as if wars
weren’t
inflicted

against the climate
against Kharkiv
against

Kyiv, against Chernihiv
against Mariupol
against

Kherson, against Mykolaiv
against Odessa
against

Sunflowers whose gold
whitened into
gray


Joshua Martin

Blind Spring Lilac Plunge

of an opera sandstorm
   last over breakfast
, rain summons a siren
knees, converging, an
El Dorado all down WaY,
   neatly brain HelD, felt,
drowned USA tune To
approach TuNa, shopping,
   best DreSSeD, baked IN
reserve. / Against light of
   recessive RIOT squad
that pinches, guts, stuck
SPOKE, speaking, lashed
grandiose stocking. / Wi
   ll & horn, a refusal
that, which, upsell,
SaIl OK-OK-OK-OK-OK,
[manic frothing against]
,   guess you refuse think
ing, witty as daylight
utters backbreaking. / He
art A total of TOTALITY,
   FOR Sake [needle as a
cream to SHAVE], loosen
ed grasping for low, a letter
IN a BaNk vault, red amnes
ia dropping substation TrIbE,
Famously, [slurping, slurping]
,   dangling PrAy follow knife.
/ As always ScHooL collects
gifts, taken FoR worse, in
reverse melted as a tail. / .

Tom Hibbard

HOMAGE TO UKRAINE

Is this the earth unlocked—Gog and Magog
The smashed logos of buried time
The coded universe’s familiar death pattern
Advancing furtively inflated metaphors
The ones about democratic Ukraine needing “de-Nazification”
As fuel depots explode from Russian missiles
Spewing oily plumes formed like Cyrillic script
With misspellings and war crimes
As arctic cold and snow linger in late March
And grocery shoppers return across mine-fields of words
Are those rock stars patrolling Kyiv’s outskirts on Tik Tok?
The sun without warmth. A people erased.
Could a virgin-spring be bubbling up in Blue-and-Yellow
Grave-markers stooped from undaunted chants of freedom
Dreams attacked continuously day and night
Dreams of terminologies and cyber-security
The coveted dimensionality of infinite children
Odessa—accountable violins playing the national anthem
In the face of pure destruction and random tyrannical storms
Is this the moment unreality becomes reality
With the Black Sea pounding the grand piano of world-wide globalism
An eternal NATO museum of artistic red rubble
Versus charred autos piled high in materialist forests
And obsolete myths of incontestable forevers

Ben Nardolilli

Satellites

The boys are back, bad for life,
It’s a new year for them, new contests to submit to

Hairstyle bans? They transcend them,
They know the stories everyone needs to know

Events are picked just for them to enjoy,
Our revolution has to be theirs, we all deserve better

Get on aboard if you believe them,
It’s the last chance to get a ticket to party on the subway

Michael H. Brownstein

DO NOT IGNORE THE SUN

to not wake up
to not see the mansions made of skin
the root of bone
the splashes of gum disease across graffiti littered lawns

a flux of heat
blisters and blistered lips
tongues swollen into heavy shipyard knots
scurvy and bacteria laden lemonade

a sudden loss of oxygen
felt paper and cellophane 
sweat and spit
an inability to scream

muscular turbulence
tendonitis 
a loss of self confidence
brain waves thin as spider venom and the hollowing of a fly

John Grey

POEM FOR CAMEL AND PIG

For my final act,
I played the camel on the pig’s back.
I clung to that sow
like a web without a spider.

All politics, the crowd said.
Progressive, reactionary,
we can’t tell the difference.

Please, I silently begged.
Don’t judge me by what you can’t understand.
I’m just trying to make a living as a camel.
The pig is fine with carrying its weight and mine.
It’s a pig.
And a cashier in real life.

Too abstract, cried the back row.
Too obvious, sang the center.
A man up front spat in my camel fur.
He wasn’t here for realism apparently.

It’s always like this
when I’m four-legged, hoofed,
and goofy-looking.
The audience is stuck with being human.
Their costume doesn’t always suit them.

They boo at the camel.
They’ve kind words for the pig.
But the pig wrote this skit.
His script said,
“Camel on top, the heavier the better.”

Morley Cacoethes

Pebbles Upon the Narrow Road IV
 
The twenty-seventh boat,
part of the twenty-seven
cherry blossoms of the night
accompany me with emotion.
 
I set out on the boughs at dawn.
The sky was misty. The early morning
moon had lost its light to see
the long journey ahead.
 
My dearest friends had all come
to my disciple’s houseboat
the night before, so that when
I set out on them, my dearest
friends had lost their third month light.

Sheila Murphy

2 Sections from “October Sequence”




119/

Behold revanchist urgency reptilian 
Cold along the lifeless streets
The eyes erasing what eyes know
A spiral delving into wanted earth 
Now fallow land broken as claimed
And charred and ruined aftermath 
Of smallness unimaginable the lust 
To self-broker into coveted history 
As if what mattered was destruction
As a way of hiding impotence 
No one is interested no one glances 
At the metric meant to pierce and shame
Those forced to flee 
The horror of deformed psychology
Of the eternal infant squawking 
To fill emptiness embedded in the DNA
That bespeaks the shallow end 
Of the bell curve shunned by norms 
And normalcy and people wanting peace

 



120/
Low light template rids attractive nuisance
From the row of homes still orderly
Yet stained by personality
One and another see through whole note 
Opening and owning a soprano reach
To match the bass tone audible 
To the young steepling purported worship
As if feedlines were palpable 
To wild caught communities of thought
Still feeling warp and woof 
Of canines defining family categories 
As real as these uneven steps 
Someone ought to smooth to artificial evenness 
As short planes descend 
To levels that mean something 
As dictionaries spill into the street 
Where muffler delete deceives
Inhabitants arguing the merits 
Apart from factual considerations 
And the weeds play through
The yards of growth versus development

Martha Deed

The Points on Your Star

I loved you when I was young and when you told me
to “remember this,” I almost always did. The moon's eclipse
at the bottom of Clinton Avenue. We sat on the seawall,
the moon shadows mirrored in the Hudson River.
It was a cliché, but new to me and lovely.
We played checkers on the piano stool that swiveled
so I could make my moves without stretching my six year-old arms.
You waited without visible impatience while I considered
how best to beat you. And you respected me, did not lose on purpose.
Badminton in the yard. We had to avoid the old cherry tree that fell over
of its own accord one peaceful night years after our games were memories.
When Mom suggested there might be money for only one of us to go to college
and it would be a brother because girls can marry men with jobs, I tattled
and you said I would be going to college no matter what. No woman should depend
upon a man's support. You had learned that lesson well, growing up as you did
with a father you would not talk about, a father who was there ‒ and then ‒ not.
You said, A girl should not count on a boy's loyalty but make her own way.
You didn't care that this was not a thing to say in the 1950s. You knew better.

Of course, this was all helpful and useful and good,
and so I accepted your other advice and beliefs without question:
Your family is your greatest ally. Our family sticks together.
Once you step outside this house, you are vulnerable to betrayal
and mischief. Do not trust anyone except a member of this family.

But your father was a secret. Your mother was always sad.
Your aunt threw up her hands while driving
when she saw a snake in the road. Nearly killed us all.

There were cousins I saw only once when I was too young
to remember their names. Two little girls who lived in Brooklyn,
all the cousin families in one building. I envied how easily they
could run down the hallways and into each other's houses without knocking.
Why did we never see those people again? Why did I have to wait
until after you died to begin looking? Why did I feel that finding them
would be disloyal to you? And your father also? Why did we find
a cache of his postcards to you and letters and photographs
tucked into an old wooden chest in the attic, but not until after
Mom had died as well?

I did know when your father died, then your mother, and her effects
came to our garage to be sorted and discarded. I remember Mom holding
up that box of your father's and you saying in a harsh voice I would not
like said to me, “Burn them.” Which she did not do. And how many
years has it taken me to realize that if a fire was so important,
you could have set it yourself?

When I left home, you were still mostly loving and kind.
I tried to forget your rage when I was maybe 7 or 8, had talked back
to Mom, who reported to you. You came home that day after I had
gone to bed. I was asleep when you awakened me with your rapid footsteps
on the stairs, and I went off the far side of the bed and lay in the dust underneath
as you came into the room and bellowed at me to come out. I stayed silent.
You tried to reach me, but you couldn't. And then you left.
And I remembered.

Maybe I was lucky. I was the oldest, and I left home first, stepping out
into a world I did not trust. Now I know the worst was yet to come,
and most of it I wouldn't learn until after one of us grabbed your ashes
and deposited them far out of reach for cemetery visits on the summit
of Cadillac Mountain,an act I failed to understand until the younger ones
confided that in your later years you were angry and mean, said mean things
about me, too, without the benefit of my presence, told others I had taken loans
and never repaid them, trashed my reputation, in fact. Mom intervened
and made everyone know This Did Not Happen, but we were also trained
not to believe her in any dispute with Dad . . .

The worst discovery of all was you were openly, crudely antisemitic. Which I
never heard or knew. And racist also. You, the father who instructed us
about the horrors of slavery and the Civil War the year we lived in Maryland
when I was 9 and 10 ‒ and told us never to speak about it.
What happened to you?

Were you even aware of how ironic this was? You, who were so careful
to instruct us about the tragedies the Jewish refugee children
in our school classes had endured? How important to be kind to them?

Did you know that your own grandfather was the illegitimate son
of a Dutch Jewish mother whose family emigrated to France, and so
you were quite Jewish yourself ‒ although you probably could not
have been officially Jewish unless in a reform congregation
since your Jewish connection was through blood and not also
through culture or religion? And did you know what took me decades
to discover,that while you were telling us about the evils of Hitler
and the crimes that had happened to the children in my second grade class...
your close cousins had been taken to concentration camps
in Poland and Germany, that few of them had escaped?

Grateful for later discovery, I ask you again. What did you mean
by family loyalty? Or perhaps more to the point, What did you mean by family?

The first kayak was red and sleek

I couldn't get out of it by myself.
The Woodcock hides deep in the woods.
(Dreams of children can come at any time.)

Randy, he dances ‒ swirls high in the air.
The second kayak was red and handy.
(Finding the essence of the matter is a challenge for a dull mind.)

The lady he wishes to impress looks away.
I wore urban black for two years afterwards.
(Often, child's play appeals more to adults than children.)

The family's star does not have to be a man or boy.
The oldest child is often the star of the show.
(I doubt the innocence of a child.)

Does the star have five points or six points?
Black was my favorite color.
(Is black a color or is it almost like white ‒ absence of color.)

Essence tastes mean.
Essence is the core.
The first kayak was red and sleek.






Poem constructed from a prompt by Eileen Myles:
Write a letter to someone who makes you feel deeply uncomfortable, in which you say the most awkward things that you’ve not had the courage to say. Then put 5-6 pieces of paper on the table and write down the name of one pathetic thing/word on each one. Then turn over them over and write 3 sentences/lines each. Then bring them all pellmell together into an assemblage of pain, awkwardness, discomfort, embarrassment.

I used a random number generator for the poem.
https://wordwall.net/resource/4142699/1-18-spinner

Vincent Cellucci

rear-ended by a song in zona solari 

 
akin to a skeleton
chain of keys & trinkets
left in public’s plain sight 
for us that so often lose
an interlude we wish would repeat
and suspend the required mood
a host lucky enough to have already 
kicked me to the streets 
so I’m walking through milan
a city robed in the finest designs 
I behold a disrobed vision at the fountain
a modern lympha squats to piss   
awakening a small perversion
the ancients knew as madness
its drizzling slightly but not enough
for a song to reprise willingly 
I leave the card of the rental apartment 
on the bench after writing: one free wish
I time the cars charging
count the spoils overflowing 
from the neighboring trash bin
returns the favor of neglecting
four boys kick their footballs 
two girls wrestle over a phone teasing
to send something to devastate the other 
her baby sister I suppose by the stronza
shrieked    I can’t even begin to switch off 
the uncertainty it takes to continue 
this freefall or the certainty it takes 
to build a balcony up brick by brick 
our birthmarks burn like wildfires  
the forgiveness we seek 
in every face
our mistakes same old song 
we immerse ourselves in
masking our fingerprints
with pruney bone
 
it’s autumn in italy 
and everywhere else 
in the northern hemisphere
I’m here after witnessing the summer
beg for its death
successfully 
before the plague goes on spring tour
another agnostic in the manger 
amazed by the expense of myth 

Mark Young

from 100 Titles from Tom Beckett

#31: The Logic of Senselessness

It was just a kayaking trip, but
some recent media coverage
suggests that the subjugation of
women is based on the same logic
as the subordination of nature. "Taut-
ologies & contradictions lack sense,"
wrote Wittgenstein. Seems like there's
always a 'logical' reasoning behind

the belief that things are the way
they are, even though that may
make no sense. "Say nothing except
what can be said," wrote someone
else. "Should I make an electronic copy
of that for use in my e-book archive?"






#93: We Feel Approximate

Linda said that she'd pick me up at sixish.
I felt the need to incorporate my personal
experiences into the conversation, how I'd
reduced my food intake, but now felt I was

missing out on something. I'm having a psy-
chotic episode. I feel strange & cut off from
the world. One in fifty of us is a victim, left
feeling like a robot. It's an uncomfortable sen-

sation: but forecasts suggest that 47% of U.S.
jobs could be automated within the next two dec-
ades. Maybe there'll then be a job for me. I know

I wouldn't need much training to approximate
a robot. Walk, talk, enter stage left. But would
I then be able to approximate a human being?

James Croal Jackson

Anytown, USA

this country music’s gunshots slinging through the wind wrapped around Anytown, USA where I’ve never been anywhere outside my own mind traveled everywhere within this bag of skin and blood bound to family I become further and further away from each day I bleed out my own legacy owned by money by the river by the body bags I see everywhere I see a witness

Marco Giovenale

shells on a bed of salt

girls, i ordered shrimplastic ham. we all chopped the subwoofer.

then went into the last car we bought, ts eliot and me. we had a fair amount of space. went to comics connection. out for a week or so.

his girl was funny, she wore an adorable copper gown and sang yodel gospel vowels.

all those european coins around. i finally just wrote a letter to athena. I'm getting tired, phantom, just take the train and come here, hun, cleverly hide yourself in a plastic easter egg, do not speak, we’ll make their hair turn white. the ninja egg.

i know how to wrap the cheese in foil, squeezing lemon on a spoiler on the back.

come and hate her fried vampires. follow my instinct.

a cool stereo system implies suicidal jumping from the bridge, down to the easton immortal portal.

so i accidentally shot ts eliot in the head. for i was twelve or maybe thirteen and I couldn’t know how to handle a cow-shaped gun. consider your age. the aquarium in genoa is the most relaxing thing in the world.

it makes you think of the death of god, and all those related songs.

Yrik-Max Valentonis

A Whim

A whim guides an
optimistic phoenix beside the annoyance
the chickens have escaped
fool afternoon fields

familiar rice mediates
admire equity among
the country status
the flesh a smiling populace

distance solves the flower
night shall pipe
analog method smart
oil thirsts under graveyard mettle

hair up let her in arms
carpet cupid cemetery snake

Charles Perrone

Sea Side Advice

Oh dear friend,
You should shun
the deceptions of the ocean.
Reject the Sisyphus
of eternal tides.
Wave goodbye to rides
out and back in again.
Act as if pride were
the special portion of potion
of your rectified reception
in the sea of being
yourself.







Fashionable Words 11-13-20

I was almost fifty years old when I added the word sartorial
to my supposedly-superior vocabulary. If I am not mistaken,
I was wearing on that occasion the legendary T-shirt and jeans,
or something of that sort or of those means.
Nicely-tailored lexical item that I was fortunate to befriend,
for it even provoked rumblings in the well-worn memory banks.
So, like, I was truly a motley teen, in myriad ways.
I even had a sartrian phase, though I would've spelled it Sartrean.
I'd barely begun to shave on a daily basis, yet I was reading,
what was the title? ... The Transcendental Ego I do believe.
Uh, no, sorry, that should be The Transcendence of the Ego.
Get beyond it and for that matter your self while you're at it.
There's a difference, a coated voice says, you dressed-down dope.
Next, little hope for you, averred a former college roommate
upon our unplanned reunion, you still take the prize
for worst-dressed person in the room and in the class.
And on did he babble about some disheveled playwright from Spain
named Alfonso Sastre who sewed together versions of Irish plays
and came to publish dramas in New York even though in Spanish
plus a few scissored translations with such endearing titles as
"Death Thrust" and "Tragic Prelude". Morbid stage mood indeed.
At least you've avoided that level, mumbled, decades later,
my exquisitely-clothed physical therapist while he tried to sort out
my real sore maybe torn tendons, as I lay in my grey jump suit,
adding that I was lucky, sort of, not to have aggravated the sartorius,
a connective upper-leg muscle about which I learned
absolutely nothing in my philosophy, drama, and anatomy courses.

AG Davies

sad, fallopian aquariums decay in my cyclical anemia,
fibrous and fleshy pumpkins hemorrhage sunny, purple symptoms
the anger of controversial emotions disguised as vulgar poems tied between dirty
slums:
your body, my body
we burn all your precious words
we eat in the poisonous temple satirically,
and let the cautious beggars pass the sweetest nectar within their imperial cages

the air around the sharp funnel captures your laughter,
as the side dish discharges the bitter filling of the final orchards,
slack temples camouflage in the neatness of your cuts

this address is in dire need,
can you tell?

and then-

spraying medical sheets as low-body catacombs, reproaching the attitude of
material flight in comatose 'whys',
daring artificial combustion rests between your thoughts
the covered gauntlet of tangled cadaveric beams sloughs high in sterile surfaces
of lava-like snowstorms

loop freely a healthy relaxation:

she walks around under his brusque torch

she ignites the vintage lights spinning around your somnolent hips

and the position escapes as tightly as wrapped gifts in kettle boiled
tombstones

DAH

Invention Of A New Meaning

 Humans are in the wrong place
 , we don’t belong here
 , this is not our home , we must
 disengage from gravity .
 We’ve been tricked into believing
 otherwise
 , we don’t belong here : disengage .
 We are in the wrong place
 : recharge your imagination , let go .
 The truth has been lying to us
 , take comfort in knowing this .
 If we stay here
 we’ll lose our sense of logic .
 The truth has lied
 , we don’t belong here . This is
 not our home .
 We need a new truth : use your
 imagination .
 We need to silence language
 ––use your imagination
: the truth is lying. 

Martha Deed

A Lethal Mutation

Intelligence is a lethal mutation,*
Ernst Mayr says, but bird
watching, say I, is soothing
in its certainty. You see it.
You take its picture.

When you look again,
it stays the same.
It does not slither around
like expedient Truth
ready to escape its skin
and don another.


*Ernst Mayr. What Evolution Is.
Interview. http://www.edge.org

Mark DuCharme

Winter’s Crucial Mischief

 One table for your favorite griot
 Who would soon dance
 Like rhinoceroses in haciendas
 Somewhere east of the posthumous Sahara
 Of the seas, to celebrate the lost
 Art of instructional videos
 Downloaded coldly on a night in
 Winter’s crucial mischief
 Like Nicholson on a nitrous oral
 The truth is a matter for noxious strangers
 & The way you look when night
 Is a metaphor for crowd control
 & The wind looks just the same
 Cauterized by rain

Mark Young

The Night of the Caribou

 There are fewer than ten days
 left. We are heading out for a
 post-dinner stroll before contin-
 uing on to breakfast. The status
 quo has rusticated & cows now
 graze along its edges. In exchange
 for food we have been given
 shovels to clear away the expanse

 of bovine shit that has accumu-
 lated since the last patsies they
 could find departed. Our native
 land recedes in memory as the
 inability to return there increases.
 So far we have seen no caribou.

Eric Mohrman

Aftermath

 There is a stately brick
 home. there's a breeze. there's a breezeway. there's a bronze
 stairway spiraling
 up to a balcony with a balustrade. The
 night wraps ringly around her
 finger. inhale. the fire
 at the tip of her cigarette crackles and grows
 briefly brighter. exhale. the
 smoke sinks like a semisolid. There is a
 broken promise disguised as a broken
 bottle. the
 shards float freely away.