Wade Fox – 2 poems

Apparition

            

An old woman and an old man, battered

by the years, had slept together for a lifetime,

through dark nights of dreams. One night,

when tired and dry, the woman groaned, rolled

from bed and shuffled to the kitchen, her hands before

her in the dark, turned on the tap, drank

some water from a tumbler, placed the glass in the sink

and died, falling to the floor, never returning

to bed. In the morning, the man awoke to find

her side of the bed empty, the blankets folded

back. He called to his wife without reply.

Staggering from bed, he donned his robe and slippers.

In the middle of the bedroom, he paused, listened for the bustle

of breakfast preparation and heard nothing.

Remembering his hearing aids, he chuckled to himself.

In the bathroom, he peed and farted, washed

his hands, and poked his hearing aids into

his ears with stubby fingers. He lumbered down

the hall to the kitchen, where he found his wife,

partner of a lifetime, crumpled on the floor

like a pale moth. He said her name,

as though he might summon her to rise,

and then dropped into a chair beside her

and said nothing. I am alone, he thought

in the moment before he felt her presence. He gasped,

seeing her familiar form before him

even as he watched her empty shell on the floor.

Her smell surrounded him, the vibration filled

the room. “How could you leave me alone?”

he thought. “How could you go?”

“I have been with you for a lifetime,

but I have never known your mind,”

said her voice, like faraway static.

“I see you now,” she said. “All

the things you never disclosed. How

lonely I always was and how empty you

were.” The man sat quietly and said

nothing, for there was nothing left to hide.

            

Fishing in the Dark

            

Sitting on a shore

a still lake

early morning

the sun not yet risen

            

stars are still

in the sky

shining on

the placid water

            

huddled in

my jacket I’m

shivering in

the damp cold

            

beneath the smooth

surface the fish

glide darkly

            

weeds wave

worms dig

in the sand

            

a mysterious world

            

I watch the glassy

two-dimensional plane

            

where I cast

my line

with a splash

that shatters

the universe

            

concentric circles

ripple outward

            

the baited hook

descends

from dark  

into dark

            

I am alone

            

with only

my thoughts

wondering

will I feel

            

the tug

on the end

of the line.

            

Wade Fox lives in Denver and teaches writing at the Community College of Denver. He is the founder of New Feathers Anthology, an online and print literary and art journal. A writer of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction,he has published poems in Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Cabildo Quarterly, Datura Journal, Occam’s Razor, Littoral, and R.K.V.R.Y, and short stories in Occam’s Razor, The Corner Club, and Minimus. He has also written book reviews and cowrote a chapter in the book Blues: Philosophy for Everyone. As an editor, he has edited many authors, including, notably, George Harrison, JK Rowling, Vladimir Putin and Kamala Harris.   

Glen Armstrong – 6 poems

Forever Shampoo

            

Here’s a picture 

of my sister

under the Arc de Triomphe,

            

her hair, 

flaring out 

to the entire universe.

            

There were things

that used to happen

each and every Saturday night.

            

We sang songs

that made us glisten

like roller skate keys.

            

Here’s a picture 

of my sister playing bass

with The Steve Miller Band.

            

She had a way 

of disappearing and popping

up where we’d least expect her.

            

Here’s one of her 

flipping off Chip and Dale

behind their backs.

            

Here she is reconsidering

the embroidery on her shirt,

turning a flower back 

            

to purple thread.

            

Year of the Sea Monkey XXXII

            

Americans tremble 

at a supervillain’s feet. 

The heart wants

            

what the heart wants.

My sweetheart reminds me

not to kink-shame

            

the Americans.

They run on different frequencies

and dream of chicken and cars.

            

That which they cannot fry,

they try to turbocharge.

The villain’s boot is large,

            

and it shines like morning dew

on a perfectly cooked thigh

or a finely tuned carburetor.

            

Americans like distractions:

club sandwiches and soda.

That which explodes must explode

            

internally, eternal.

The villain’s divine foot

must never be mentioned.

            

Summer Teeth

            

Newcomers and beachcombers 

occupy the pumpkin

            

seed of a Venn diagram.

Dry ethnographers attend

            

to sand on feet,

who is overlapping 

            

whom and such.

They stretch timeless summer 

            

across a graph

in a notebook that would rather

            

be a treasure map.

They fill pages with observations

            

that would rather be

holding hands.

            

House of India #81

There is spicy stew in front of me and spicy stew becoming me. I sometimes articulate a thought that seems to come from beyond. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Sometimes I touch my hair and realize my limits. Hard stops in spite of the world passing through.

The door opens and a chilly, unseasonal breeze scatters a stack of paid dinner checks. The new patron’s leather blazer and domino mask designate him as a crimefighter. Or a criminal. Or the shadow of a clown. This is not me.

To have a destiny, one must have a self / be a game piece. Be a racecar. Be a top hat. The thimble holds but a drop of stew. Though the waitress must know that I will not try it, she is obliged to describe the new item on the menu.

I suppose it would do no harm to try the jacket on. There is ample room in the shoulders, and though it looks odd buttoned up, there is room through the waist as well. I have recently lost some weight, and the weightless have been treating me with more respect. More affection. I meant to say the “waitress.” This is not me.

            

Antonyms for “White”

            

I’m not home when you show up

with the box

            

full of colorful socks

for the white 

            

elephant sale.

It’s, accordingly, a big box,

            

and you leave it in the driveway.

It’s a sudden rain,

            

the sort in which religious types

find meaning.

            

I am more tempted to invent 

a character who would 

            

cherry-pick a pair 

of the donated socks for himself

            

than I am to cherry-pick

a pair of my own.

            

He walks around,

his poorly hemmed pants revealing 

            

the pink and yellow stripes. 

            

Among the Forgetters #17

            

Strange blue brightness. 

            

Red brick house. 

            

Yellow taxis still wait

for us to break

things off.

            

No one loves the Bride

of Frankenstein

            

more than my cousin,

who lives

            

in Chicago.

            

Shiny white police

motorcycles

make

            

the rainclouds 

seem like swear words

that when uttered

            

seem like forbidden tunnels.

Few dare enter.

            

It’s enough today to seem,

enough to glow

in such

            

subtle ways that no one

notices. 

            

Glen Armstrong (he/him/his) holds an MFA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and edits a poetry journal called Cruel Garters. He has three current books of poems: Invisible HistoriesThe New Vaudeville, and Midsummer. His work has appeared in Poetry NorthwestConduit, and The Cream City Review.

John Maurer – 4 poems

Synthesizing Honestly in Aggregation

            

Oligarchies and dictatorships 

have fallen all the same

If two heads were better than one

evolution would have seen to it

            

The auteur theory sustains, no matter 

how hard deep-pocketed studio owners disagree

If greatness was measured by financial success

than Van Gogh is the worst painter to ever pick up the brush

            

If riskless perfection is the goal, Hendrix should’ve never 

picked up the flaming guitar by his LSD dripping teeth

I’d rather break my bones to break down the door 

then wait for it to be opened

            

I’d rather speak with meaning 

and be ignored than placate.

            

Confidence is the Infrastructure

            

There’s no doubt in my mind, there certainly shouldn’t be any doubt in yours-Bob Ross

            

Doubt will kill the poet before the Plath Syndrome gets a chance

If you don’t believe you have something worth saying, what are you saying?

If you speak for a response, you aren’t an artist but a reaction

The bard does not differentiate between love and hate

That is not his lot in life, that is the lot of everyone else

Some people will love you, some people will hate you

If you change to be loved by those who hate you, those who loved you will hate you

            

As they should, as you deserve, you are not a model, not meant to be beautiful

You are a heart bleeding and beating at an exponentially slower meter

This purpose is being the maggots on the street rot

This purpose is being unapologetic on how horrible you are

In hopes that someone will see and maybe say I might just try being me too.

            

A Pick-Pocketed Identity

            

Prison is only a trade school 

for black market occupations

School is only a ceremonial entrance 

into the magic trick that is distracting you for your entire life

            

Assembling your life like cheap Swedish furniture

Step-by-step, bullet point by bullet point

and somehow after following every detail perfectly

the puzzle you’ve assembled doesn’t look like the picture on the box

            

Note to Self:

You did what you were told to by those who didn’t care about what you want 

and you are now surprised that your life isn’t what you wanted

There is design and there is following a template of a designer

You have lived a greyscale, milquetoast, Chinatown knock off of a life

            

No wonder, now it’s falling apart.

            

Trash Compacted to a Diamond

            

If you channel invert the night 

sky transforms to acid rain

There are sketches more masterful 

than molasses thick paint 

on canvases larger than walls

            

I’ve heard a man use a ballpoint pen 

and a wooden banister to compose music 

more intricate than any orchestra

Gravity has laws, beauty doesn’t even have a guideline

Not to those who dedicate their lives to studying it

            

Who know how hard it is to see

It doesn’t hit you like a mortared wall

It hits you whenever it’s too late, whenever that may be.

            

John Maurer is a 26-year-old writer from Pittsburgh that writes fiction, poetry, and everything in-between, but his work always strives to portray that what is true is beautiful. He has been previously published in Claudius Speaks, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Thought Catalog, and more than fifty others. @JohnPMaurer (johnpmaurer.com)

Julian Cason – 2 poems

Patch

            

When I was playing,

the decrepit neighbour approached

the gloss of laurel  

and pointed at the unruly flowers

squatting on our path.

My grandfather called forget-me-nots

‘remember-me-forevers’-

his own grandmother taught him that!

            

Getting up close,

talking like this

she would no longer see me,

her azure mac bobbing so near

as to briefly patch 

and mend

the coarse weave of leaves dividing us.

            

She would often repeat that 

stub of a tale

planting the shrunken smudges of prairie-blue

renamed and unwanted

in my head.

            

These flimsy strands

of ancient inconsequence,

orphaned words

she had lovingly long shepherded.

            

The last time I saw her

was from my window,

before college 

(she died during that first term)

her pulled door coughing into a final slam,

the same coat enveloping her

like a piece of misplaced sky,

though now tellingly 

freshly stained.

Piss-me-not, I whisper:

the remembering of her 

already twisting in my cruel hands.

            

Park

            

I am by the arbour,

under the small square plaque

screwed deep

into bare wood,

a school friend’s name, 

and two 

far away dates.

            

Sometimes 

these arches course with rose-blood,

but today 

they protrude painfully, 

like ribs.

            

I tell my almost attentive son

a little about you 

and realise:

I am all you ever were

and now can ever be.

            

My pruned sentences

are dishonest and incomplete;

you remain ungrasped.

            

The living can propagate the dead

but thick-gloved

and clumsy,

only as a stunted 

bloomless lie.

            

Before we depart, I notice

the empty benches surrounding us.

Each bears nothing more

than the rigid certainty 

that someone,

not here, 

always loved this place.

            

Julian lives in Cardiff with his wife and son.

The bulk of his professional life has been spent working with the terminally ill.

His poetry can reflect this but is equally often inspired by the minutiae of relationships.

Published in Envoi, Pulp Poets Press, Nine Muses, The Dawn Treader and Black Bough Poetry.

Christopher Barnes – 5 poems

ZIP 16

      Ada unclutters table
                                  wedlock roses nip ringlets
    dotted swiss crimped
                                  olivesheen mules ticktack
      meticulous yardstick
                                  foundation’s huffish
lumbar-ease chair twirls
                                  moxie jolts the room
    alcove obscures work

ZIP 17

        unyielding duck cloth
                                        how-do-you-do floor manager
                    Polly’s smitten
                                        whacked is mere la-di-da
  blue jay flicks in hawthorn
                                        ingots on choker
needle clamp lodges – ready
                                        crimpers teeter – lassoed

ZIP 18

              lace on gingham
                                    keen eclipsing of a bleb
    seam ripper’s all drama
                                    amplifying smirk
                    feed dogs run
                                    primper urges on culottes
Joe’s tardy with mortgage
                                    whim-wham the model prowls
  overhears himself brood

ZIP 19

cozy flannel backslides
                                logo on camisole
      Sara dwells on tryst
                                hesitant flump into gown
pincushion absconded
                                overshot wires
  foot controller’s trusty
                                manikin torso ignored
    zigzag stitch waltzes

ZIP 20

Meg’s back from canteen
                                    wattle and flax on brow
      veers damask at angle
                                    kiss curl set
                bias tape firms
                                    hip-hop loosens
        menu screen dayglo
                                    buyer tilts specs
              frock coat builds

In 1998 Christopher Barnes won a Northern Arts writers award.  In July 2000 he read at Waterstones bookshop to promote the anthology ‘Titles Are Bitches’.  Christmas 2001 he debuted at Newcastle’s famous Morden Tower doing a reading of poems.  Each year he read for Proudwords lesbian and gay writing festival and partook in workshops.  2005 saw the publication of his collection LOVEBITES published by Chanticleer Press, 6/1 Jamaica Mews, Edinburgh.

On Saturday 16Th August 2003 he read at the Edinburgh Festival as a Per Verse.

Christmas 2001 The Northern Cultural Skills Partnership sponsored him to be mentored by Andy Croft in conjunction with New Writing North.  He made a radio programme for Web FM community radio about his writing group.  October-November 2005, he entered a poem/visual image into the art exhibition The Art Cafe Project, his piece Post-Mark was shown in Betty’s Newcastle.  This event was sponsored by Pride On The Tyne.  He made a digital film with artists Kate Sweeney and Julie Ballands at a film making workshop called Out Of The Picture which was shown at the festival party for Proudwords, it contains his poem The Old Heave-Ho.  He worked on a collaborative art and literature project called How Gay Are Your Genes, facilitated by Lisa Mathews (poet) which exhibited at The Hatton Gallery, Newcastle University, including a film piece by the artist Predrag Pajdic in which he read his poem On Brenkley St.  The event was funded by The Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Institute, Bio-science Centre at Newcastle’s Centre for Life.  He was involved in the Five Arts Cities poetry postcard event which exhibited at The Seven Stories children’s literature building.  In May he had 2006 a solo art/poetry exhibition at The People’s Theatre.

The South Bank Centre in London recorded his poem “The Holiday I Never Had”; he can be heard reading it on www.poetrymagazines.org.uk/magazine/record.asp?id=18456

  In August 2007 he made a film called ‘A Blank Screen, 60 seconds, 1 shot’ for Queerbeats Festival at The Star & Shadow Cinema Newcastle, reviewing a poem…see www.myspace.com/queerbeatsfestival  He has also written Art Criticism for Peel and Combustus Magazines.