On July 1st I invited a number of poets whose work I admire to contribute one of their poems to what would be a one-off online publication to go "live" on August 1st. I also asked them to pass on the same invitation to a poet or poets they knew and admired. My plan was for the resulting collection of poems to be entirely chosen by the poets themselves, and for there to be threads of friendship and mutual admiration linking the work. I've done no editing or selecting. Poems arrived, and they are here to read.

It was also my (probably futile) intention to kind of take poetry publishing back to recapture something of the spirit of the mimeo age, which is where I began some 35 years ago: quick and simple publications that concentrated on the poem because the means of production gave you almost no alternative. Sometimes it's a relief to leave the flashy sophistications of state of the art websites behind, isn’t it? (Please feel free to disagree and/or to point out the paradox of saying all this here online.)

Anyway, what you have before you is the result. No frills, just the poetry - not even notes on the contributors. (You can Google them if you're desperate.)

I'd like to thank all the contributors for their support, and I hope you enjoy the poems.

Martin Stannard
Zhuhai, China
August 1, 2013





Sonnet exercise # 5: The Devotional Poem

There are airs and graces, graces, airs and lines
that dance, or at least seem to, until they fall.
There is music and that which music can’t mitigate.
There is shattered capitalism gradually undressing

to expose the ruins of its crumbling nudity,
while the poet, bent on refining defined experience,
writes repeatedly how it was the bird alit,
with fluttery poise, like an inkling, invisibly cradled

by under-scorings of sky and so on.  Now
for the crux: though you pour libations to the gods
who keep outrageous hours and behave
like animals, teenagers, the sundry dissolute,

still you will lift up your eyes to the skinny guy
suspended uncomfortably there in fickle daylight.

C. J. Allen  


poem from “A New Geography of Romanticism’

Inviting an embarrassing compassion
According to this you’re on your back in long grasses
Prayer roots deep in the soaking lungs
Not all coastal plants are made of communion wafer

Insular yet enormous plus conceptually hissing
Dust obstinate guest absurd and/or bored
Wheelie bin reeking of dance in mono
Pass Go then return to Basic Principals Square

On automatic pilot judging from your face
Post resurrection he was cranky and irritable
Sponge limbic Ponge rib-poke provocation
This says you resigned from a strong position

Tim Allen


The Air Scatters

the initial question is place
but also position
within that place
is it safe
can we speak
but then
events intervene
the air scatters
you gather a few remnants
you renounce those
who have opposed you
some of them
still around
the air is muddied
you no longer listen
into separate places
you have closed your mind
there is nothing else
I can say to you
so much air

Clark Allison



Someone said we needed a breezeway
to bark down remnants of super storm Elias jugularly.
Alas it wasn't my call.
I didn't have a call or anything resembling one.
You see I have always been a rather dull-spirited winch.
The days go by and I go with them.
A breeze falls from a nearby tower
finds no breezeway, goes away
along a mission to supersize red shutters.

Alas if that were only all.
There's the children's belongings to be looked to
if only one can find the direction needed
and stuff like that.
I said we were all homers not homos
but my voice dwindled in the roar of Hurricane Edsel.
We have to live out our precise experimentation.
Otherwise there's no dying for anybody,
no crisp rewards.

Batman came out and clubbed me.
He never did get along with my view of the universe
except you know existential threads
from the time of the peace beaters and more.
He patted his dog Pastor Fido.
There was still so much to be learned
and even more to be researched.
It was like a goodbye.  Why not accept it,
anyhow?  The mission girls came through the woods
in their special suitings.  It was all whipped cream and baklava.
Is there a Batman somewhere, who notices us
and promptly looks away, at a new catalog, say,
or another racing car expletive
coming back at Him?

John Ashbery


Joseph Wright

A lamp in a darkened room
picks out a folk memory

I know where the the mills were,
and the ironworks, the union banners,
a river that runs underground now,
the labour of children


Tax concessions and flexible labour
open up this town. The world is waiting,
crowded into Cromford Mills:
building workers from Poland and Croatia,
maids from the Philippines, competitive rates of pay.

Open up this town.

Arkwright, trailing smoke and sparks,
steps into Arcadia with engines and workers,
mills and ironworks, incidental light


Mechanics of perception,
a white canvas, ghosts
stalking the geographical wonders,
the great coaching inns fetching trade
along the routes of industry,
a Grand National Trades Union
a layered perception flowing underground,
science of hope, mechanics
of a new society.

Somewhere, the notion of a better life,
a river, a town, its ghosts,
a geography of common wealth,
if we could only find it.

I had a notion that
layered experience lay in this town,
lamp in a darkened room.


A notion of light
and mechanics of perception,
layered geography, ghosts
of past masters, open up a route
through the Derwent valley,
past the mills and forges
to landscapes of feeling,
alchemy of craft and enlightened views.
Under a dark outcrop an earthstopper
works by lamplight.
In the library of a great house
a philosopher is giving "that Lecture on the Orrery
in which a lamp is put in place of the Sun"
to work the motion
of light, swaying
through the minds of the people,
and gravity, in perfect balance,
energy, to pump the mills,
coal, smoke, sparks
strange machines in the lit air
of Derby's workshops, in place
of handwork “these cotton mills, seven
stories high and filled
with inhabitants, remind me
of a first-rate man of war,
and when they are lighted up
on a dark night look
most luminously beautiful”


Cars cross St. Mary's Bridge, office workers
lie in the sun at lunchtime, the mill
inhabits a silence, two girls
are dazzled by an ingot's glow

The crags of Derbyshire darken,
landowners pose for portraits, and the friends
of a young artist, his writers and poets,
are young still, in perfect balance,
with gravity, mechanics, the construction
of strange machines
out of canvas and painted light,
most luminously beautiful,
first-rate, and filled with inhabitants.

(Note: Joseph Wright of Derby lived 1737-1797. The best collection of his paintings is in Derby Art Gallery)

Alan Baker


(from Song of Chin , 1972)

                             poem for pauline

                             turned to me
                             in her eyes

                             in her naked


into her
I came

without hesitation

settled over the lake

tonight this winter-moon
is behind a cloud

animals went with certainty
           went to the water's edge

           & over

without the light
whose shadow will
the lake reflect

Ed Baker


Some Regrets That Will Attend You When You May
Have Kicked the Seat of The Patron In Front of You
at the Movie Theater Too Often

A sad milkman drops the milk
And enters a strange basement
To use the restroom. A repentant fox runs past,
Looking transparent like a slide of fire.

“A hell of an out,” they say
In these parts, referring to the green caterpillar
With brown spikes found exploring the chef’s salad
On two separate occasions, despite
The guardianship of saltines, and referring, too,
to the Galaxy that fell off its wheels

At the movies
You are disappointed at your failure
To stop kicking the seat
Of the person in front of you,
And take your leg outside, where it continues
Its protest.  The bath mat in your backpack
Is a lamentable gift
For your true love, a contrite ghost who has gotten
Lost in the dark, a guilty river that
Follows the concrete, a dejected sneeze
Gone free.

The man who breaks dirty dishes
And buys new ones is as mournful
As were bewailed the happy campers
Who threw their smug song up our penitent noses.
But when Brenda Lee’s record falls,
When Brenda Lee’s record falls,
She is commissar of sorry.

Angela Ball


Portrait of Edith Murtone, fiction writer

Scarlet nail polish and lipstick.

Plastic surgery on her once-prominent nose.
Edith summers in Cornwall,
winters in Athens.

Her latest novel is selling well.
The cook and the gardener
will each receive a Christmas bonus,
compensation for enduring
Edith’s moods and temper
when she finds living
harder than writing.

Characters like Clarissa and Harold
appear to her
as she drives,
as she walks along the river.

eldest of two daughters,
an amateur botanist and watercolourist,
infatuated with her piano tutor.

a neighbour’s only son,
asthmatic, excused from sport.
Interested in astronomy
and the treasure underneath Clarissa’s skirt.

the primary emotion that moves plot and pen,
stirs the serpents in the garden,
coiled in the shade of the family tree.

Images crafted into words,
words crafted into images.
Truth and fiction,
lying down in the same bed,
no longer strangers
to each other.

The white heat of writing—
thoughts, visions
becoming words,
lifting the writer and the reader
beyond the page,
to where the self is seen,
an ant
struggling with crumbs,
one day to be crushed
beneath a wind-blown twig.

On a good day, five thousand words.
On a bad day, the snapping in half of pencils—
the study mirror reflecting
Edith asleep on the sofa,
one shoe missing,
an empty brandy bottle
in her lap.

Edith waking
with hangover—
legs of straw on which
to inch and tilt
towards the horizon
of the kitchen sink,
a much-needed glass of water.

straightening cushions on the sofa,
lighting the day’s first cigarette,
asking the walls
what post-war England could be
if Nigel’s plane hadn’t been
shot down over Berlin.

The roulette wheels spins,
the white ball
comes to rest on zero.

Not every player
will risk as much again.

Edith alone
with her characters.
Maybe in the next book,
Harold, through his telescope
will view the flare and fall of a comet,
an arc of light that once scarred the heavens,
now reduced to a photo, data in a journal.
Clarissa will disturb his ordered world
by becoming pregnant. 

The characters’ world changed by
a birth,
a wavering allegiance,
an affair revealed.

All that threatens and excites,
asks us to consider again
human nature
as it slithers away
from definition,
Edith will examine
in her next book.

Already she knows its title,
writes it out neatly
on a fresh sheet of paper.

Tomorrow will be a good writing day.

Peter Bakowski


Highlands Blowback

The you recedes
And now I’m not sure who the you is
But as far as poetry goes
Who cares about that
Maybe even makes the work better

Carried away
Yes, me I eat miles like air
With a Super-Saver advance return or
Two singles
It depends on which is cheaper

Though that can’t be right surely?
No, it was the highest road we took
Remember, we rolled in the heather stoned
By a loch / Or at least
By some other large expanse of water

This can’t have been forgotten

I got such bad sun-burn

Richard Barrett


The Long Time                    

It was a long
time.  What day
was it?  I
didn’t know.

O little while, while
you last,  
as somebody
who doesn’t know meets
somebody who does,

and the rooms’
crack of wind
tinted glass
across from the
stone-piled well into
the church’s field:

to grip the telephone
with my neck,
over a light
I loved you

Don Berger


Professor Dobrowski

Professor Dobrowski's fingers
made no mistakes upon the keys,
not in June, July or December.

Michael Blackburn


Lines on a Luggage Label

leaning on the bus
in the supermarket
makes it laugh

crocuses daffodils

shaven campus grass
return hay

perfect egg
lightly poised
in the middle
of the carriageway
by traffic

the pastels of

just so
a line suggests

entwined in
one’s own

and fiscal sense

we need
nine mice that are

is all prime

the poem pops


Tilla Brading



So here I am
some morning in the future
buying tomatoes
& picking each one up
to examine it
to see if this one is for me
as meanwhile people die
in terrible car crashes on the M6
& the people who run the world
rub their hands
while I'm buying tomatoes
wishing you'd come up behind me
or if I went down the escalator
you'd be on the way up

Brendan Cleary



After your mother died
I shuffled around the kitchen in her slippers
boiling water
            for sips of instant coffee                     cactus tongue.

You told me that when you were 12 you sucked ice cubes
so your tongue would feel
                        like someone else’s.

I keep thinking your mother is in the bathroom mirror

or has organised
the cutlery drawer and the spice cupboard –

                        I can’t find anything.

Meredith Collins



That evening, a gull stepped up to my table
on the roof terrace of Riyad el Medina,
as if to speak, but bent its neck instead
and began to peck from a bowl of green olives
set beside a bottle of wine from Meknes
before stepping off again and taking to air
as if it was its emperor, millennia
turning in the clock of its wings
wheeling high in jet stream winds
peeling back the surface of the Atlantic
and where those stones fell lies karma,
a dark stain spreading through a single
sheet of paper folded into the book of life,
the one that has your name running through
it like a well-dressed fugitive, and me
waking late with my face in the fountain
and head full of music, gut strings
occupied by touch and vibration,
costume jewellery that sticks to the skin,
our spirits disputed like the weight
of our luggage and the limits of knowledge,
the clicks and knocks that live inside doors
and the wings of seabirds swinging like padlocks
in a universe without keys, or universal laws.
I attend to the wind intoxicating itself
in stairwells and windows and the wings
of sea birds spreading themselves around
the world as we do to hide and seek each other

Tim Cumming


On The Road Ode

In the Ocala Red Roof Inn,
next to the ‘free Continental breakfast bar,’
a TV makes of the disparate, One.

“And now, on Wall Street yesterday, the Dow—”
Mouths spit bits of bacon, calling
for seconds, “with coffee”; & a biker

in chaps & a Hawaiian shirt recites
some sort of mantra over his eggs.
“At Fenway, the Yanks rally in the ninth—”

Near a rack of real estate pamphlets,
a mother in a flowered pajama top
spreads cream cheese on a bagel,

while some tourists from Syracuse
stack their trays at the same time,
& an Appalachian man—

smoker, long hair short at his ears—
gazes shyly at a wife made
weary by all his good times;

their burr-headed son, ten, chews
his corn flakes with a thoughtful look …
“The recall of tainted fish sticks has spread—”

Jim Cummins


--for Samantha Brick

Seems I can’t go anywhere without some dude
trying to get inside my frontal lobe.  Just once
I’d like to go to a hotel bar without hearing,
“Nice brain stem! Can I buy it a drink?”
Or “Did anyone ever tell your cerebellum
it could be a model?”  Whenever I pass
a construction site, the hardhats
whistle at my bouncy left and right hemispheres.
As I scurry away, I get, “Stuck up, neocortex!”
At work, Mr. Smith ogles my limbic system
and the administrative assistants with small brains
ignore me in the lunch room.  I guess it’s true—
I flaunt my high IQ.  I can be a tease
when it comes to anagrams and spatial reasoning.
But, hey, don’t we all use whatever we have?
Unlike most women, I’m actually looking forward
to senility, so everyone will stop seeing
only my brain and except me for who I truly am.

Denise Duhamel


Does this poem pay its way?

The UK Government's Culture Secretary Maria Miller said the arts world must make the case for public funding by focusing on its economic, not artistic, value (BBC News 24/4/13)

While reading or listening to this poem you should decide
if it gives you value for money.
Please tick or indicate all that apply.

Does it:
a) reap the reward of your reading investment time?
b) merit further reading investment?
b) make you want to read the poet's new collection?
c) persuade you to investigate the poet's back catalogue?
d) stimulate the wider literary economy through purchase of:
·         tickets for readings
·         CD recordings
·         poetry apps
·         library memberships (only available to purchase)
·         works of criticism
·         stationery items
·         visits to writers' houses
·         computer hardware
·         office furniture or back supports
·         magazine subscriptions
·         competition entry fees
·         a shed to write in
·         a writing retreat/holiday
·         editorial support
·         copying, printing or binding facilities
·         the services of an amanuensis
·         a waste paper bin?

Sue Dymoke


Wild Dog

My dog was wild – not quite the wolf
chained up under Uncle Clyde’s porch in that town
where you had to collect water from a pump and
shit in an outhouse the local boys would push
over whilst you were performing – but it was
obvious the day I got home and found my tamed
red squirrel torn to pieces. So it was time to let
the dog go, doing unto another like that unacceptable
even in my childlike take on the rights and wrongs
of things [and a double tragedy in such a concurrent
loss] but it was around a week later when the farmer
returning its lead said his dog now was chasing sheep
and running free and living a life that eviscerating my
other pet was just the manifestation of what should be.

Mike Ferguson


Under the Lime Trees

All that glitters
is not glass, but lots and lots
of it is, mused
the helmeted cyclist … o you fast-
spinning tyres, so delicately ridged, so like the scales
of a young crocodile – avoid
whatever sparkles, and that
straggle-haired woman weaving
her way briskly against the traffic, her hands
a jiving blur as she belts
out snatches of We’re just
two little girls from Little Rock … the one who broke
my heart …
in Little Rock … Are these
I spy the deserving
poor, fully adrift, or breast-fed bohemians (weird
thought of the day!) jostling on a street corner beside
an all but emptied rack
of Boris bikes? Wolves
living on wind, sur le Noël, morte
saison …
                we do not feel
the speck of dust that alights
on our shoulder, nor
its fatal cousin, the germ we inhale, unknowing,
and cannot spit out. It slides
through the unmapped city
within. Responsive
cells divide or move, suddenly
restless, alert, driving, dragging
from the abyss an image
of myself cowboy-hatted, aged three, proudly astride
an East African zebra. The spongy marrow
buried in our bones
enriches the blood that unites, as it flows, nerve
and muscle, tissue and tendon, propelling
all smoothly forward like a river swirling
over its unseen bed; while every
active capillary, if challenged, or opposed, or howsoever
aroused, dilates
in bold defiance, in outright
scorn of the cold footsteps creeping like mist …
and click your heels one-two-three, and the yellow
brick road is thigh-
deep in nettles and willowherb. Even
when it’s invisible the sun
flings into space its gassy flames, each day
enthrones itself, and we, too, must purge our minds of the inert
and confining, dwell
in thoughts that breathe, and words that burn, or shine
brightly as a falling
guillotine … blink
again and the fantastical
flow of money
and data bursts like a blood vessel, scattering
the crowds gathered beneath the weeping
limes. It happened
I fell in with one kicking wildly
at piles of sticky, heart-shaped leaves – his cheeks were furrowed
with scars, and his left ear seemed torn: ‘Follow,’
he confided, ‘the scent to the vixens’ lair … take up
your broken bicycle, and with both hands hurl it as far … as far …’

Mark Ford


Talking to Patrick Heron

At a random gathering
you throw amusing quotes, ‘roughly, sea from the balcony
window’ to yourself even when things wrong stare back
like ‘Japanese moons kept in mind’
shuffling up a Cornish field
waiting to paint late
                                as you said in the Tate that day
with your tiny camera
snapping away at your own work baffled by my careless

Your toy-box of colours, floating arms, hands and wrists
in front of an audience you’re an expressionist
showing erudition, important when
embraced by just about everyone, so
                                                          I want to follow
in your footsteps
                           charge at my canvas
be fresh,
spontaneous, dreamlike
                                     tremolo shapes from old poems
as wind
            wall-like in themselves
            never to wear thin

as lines of a railway bridge, as three hallways on
three floors of any St. Ives hotel.
Rhythmic patterns of carpets
against the glare
of over-used doors.

everyone wants a blend of history and art,
a montage in at least seven colour ways
your sporadic insomnia must be an end-life crisis, not forcing
the talk
            not a colour out of place
     arriving at final words
for the day, still with the ability to laugh …
          ‘do you have the capacity to break out of your routine?’

back at the beach where they’re all sitting down
your reach is sugar minus salt plus flesh,
rounded gestures live, feet let go.

Freed out of blankness, your sea is purple-black,
your ground is green-black, a page
is dropped into air.

Peter Gillies


All Said

All said.  Knowny known.
Ovvious, so ovvious, it’s all so ovvious:

mutabilitude, mortalitude –

houses of ash
towers of toothpicks and paste
manuscrip-manuscrude-manuscraps in your closet
Pulitzer puff pastries staled in the bragbox
spotty sunken oldsters once very presentable
now wobble toward dementia or a busted hip
dozens of lemonade trucks from decades back
now entoiled with ferns beside the airport garage
um hum mutabilitude mortalitude ovvious
all said all knowny known

so then – so now – now what –
humiliated silence?

Somehow that won’t do;
                                                  the day
replete with Beckettish crazed persistence
grief memoriousness fantasy
beauty in tight jeans
email from someone stirringly wishful
earnestness of Chris Hayes
disguised outrage of Stephen Colbert
Republican greed in bald or sly forms
injustice in New Orleans Thailand Syria Chicago
Florida Bangladesh the next town over
brave optimism of strollers in Washington Square
a quietly serious Korean movie
the comic-desperate yowling of Kim Shattuck
all the flick-fly-fine stuff you care about
memory of dancing with Marcia to “Party Doll”

demands reply . . .
So I will confect new-ish ways to say
yesterday’s gone and we’re all going to die!
Better trite than self-surrenderedly stifled
though that’s not quite the credo
I ran up my secret flagpole
in my decades of Keats-n-me castle hunger.

Mark Halliday


The Answers To The Questions

                                    For that rainy day reading at
                                    the bookstore in the mall

Where do you get your ideas?
From a guy named Howie in Philadelphia.
They’re $19.95 a dozen, less if they’ve been used.               
I used to get some from my family’s horrible holiday
dinners, but they won’t let me in the house anymore

Who are your influences?
Any number of colorful obscurities whose
names you feel bad about not knowing
and this is because
I am inventing them as I speak. 
And Frank O’Hara.
You always have to say Frank O’Hara.

When do you put in the hidden meaning?
I usually write that first, then cover it up
with mud and leaves so that it’s totally
obscured, then I forget where I put it so
your guess is as good as mine.  You can
bring your own meaning and just slather it on.

Can you stay for the open reading?
I’d like to stay, I really want to stay
I’d do anything in the world to stay
I’ve dreamed of staying,
I would have definitely stayed but
now I’ve fallen into past tense so
I’m afraid it’s impossible to climb out. 
And I think there’s a terrible storm coming.

What is that buzzing sound?                        
I wonder if I’ll get home faster if
I get on Route 80 and take the bridge.
I see myself speeding down a deserted highway
What is that annoying sound?  Oh.
It’s me.  I seem to be reading.
I wondered why they turned the music off.

Robert Hershon


Joe’s Barber Shop

                                                after a photograph by George Tice

There’s a Christmas Santa Claus holding a holiday reef in the center of Joe’s Barber Shop window in Paterson and the light outside slants to the Linoleum from a smaller side window and the shadows of the words “Joe’s Barber Shop” can be seen spelled out instead of reversed on the glass. It is a cold sunlight and the shadow of the smaller window frame makes a cross on the floor above his name. What can be seen outside through the window is a truck and a couple of stores and a car.  It could be winter, but there is no snow and no people.  Joe’s is empty, a newspaper lies folded on the table next to the waiting chair in front of the window by the porcelain sink. An apron hangs from a hook by the smaller window.  I can’t make out the month or year on the wall calendar or the date on the newspaper, but I know it is decades ago, and the floor is free of hair and a barber towel drapes over the arm of the old porcelain base swivel barber chair with a cracked leather seat and porcelain arms.  A few bottles of after shave and tonic line the counter in front of the chair in front of the mirror.
I wonder where Joe the barber is?  Is he standing somewhere inside, or did he leave?  It looks deserted. It looks as if he left and never came back, as if he just got in his car and started driving one day to escape having to stand all day cutting men’s hair.  And like the rest of us who wake not wanting to go to in because we can’t stand going back to what we do, wouldn’t it be nice to say “fuck it” and leave forever.  I know what it feels like to have my hair cut by an old barber.  I’ve been getting my hair cut this way all my life and the barbers were always old men, mostly Italian from the old country who would whip the apron and snap it in the air like a matador snaps a cape and twist tie it tight like a noose around my neck, and I would listen to them talk because what else was there to do. And you can learn a lot from listening to people and I imagine Joe had a lot to say and talked to every customer about his life, his son who left home and joined the army and never returned and the wife who got sick and died and how hard it was to make a living cutting hair.  And I wish I could ask him what was the strangest thing that ever happened to him with the customers that walked in and asked to get their hair cut.  The odd exchanges, the boring ones, the sad, the funny.  And did he ever give a bad hair cut and did a customer ever refuse to pay or walk out?  I know I got some bad hair cuts when my mother took me to the barber to get crew cuts and the barber put me in the toy car and I cried when I was six because I hated my naked head and now at sixty not really caring about hair seeing how bald I am and trying not to care anymore because the scariest thing in the world is seeing yourself from behind the way someone else sees you as if you could be a stranger to yourself and step outside of who you are for a moment as if you could give yourself a hair cut which I do now anyway standing at the mirror with an electric buzz cutter and wonder who that old man is in the mirror who is always standing there in front of me and I try to push him out of the way.

Mark Hillringhouse


Petrarch Sonnet 188

S'una fede amorosa, un cor non finto

if I can keep my head while all around
lovers lunge at each other’s attributes
queue up for more Q8 chrysanthemums
& gift wrap inventive new vibrators

& if a face can launch a thousand ships
then why does she insist on sinking mine
not to mention her habit of snipping
through the strings of my acrobatic kite

if I were a carpenter I’d knock up
a wooden horse to park in your garden
& if I can’t have you I don’t want no

if I were a boy I’d do it again
I swear I wouldn’t be a better man
if you’re happy & you know it fuck off

Peter Hughes


Third Ear
after Stelarc

I’m an unborn mouse
curled on the side of your face
suckling on sound waves

Father pinned his ear
to my dress like a corsage
when my boyfriend called

strange listening fold
lift me: I drop from your cheek –
soft pink telephone

Sarah Jackson


The Stone Of Destiny

I. Conor

The Stone of Destiny,
y’ know? My granddad
smashed the portraits of
his enemy’s ancestors
& burned them in the ol’
Faerie Ring.   
Blasphemy of a level you
cannot understand. We’ll go
to the Hill of Tara, you’ll see
yourself. You’re my first Jewess.
Okay to call you that?
A Jewess—
that’s what my granddad
called them, a man
who never met one,
was from a small town
& married his cousin.
In return,
you’ll cook me some
chicken soup, so.

II. Alisha

Unsurprisingly, it’s a rainy
night when I walk home on
Merrion Row, not knowing
Conor will never take me
to the Hill of Tara. As I pass
an old man, he sets his eyes
upon me & he warns,
Beware of the Jew!
Excuse me? I say.
The dew, he says,
Beware of the dew.

Alisha Kaplan



I am part of the governing body which consults with the professional regulator on the closure of your advisory panel, but in its official role your advisory panel counsels my governing body on the burgeoning malpractice of the professional regulator and I haven’t slept in forty days. There is something I have done which I feel guilty about, completely unrelated and in a different time-zone; the recollection bounces from conscience to storage with a dull report. My self-disgust in an ember.

I am part of the Krispy Kreme doughnut which accompanies the strong black coffee on your closed laptop, but in your eagerness to counter her claims of malpractice you spring open your laptop like a jack in the box and Jennifer is too scalded to accept your apology and a tiny cliff-face-shaped fragment of white chocolate falls down your suit, bouncing twice against your leg and landing in your oversized shoe, reduced almost immediately to a liquid. Here he comes with his dull report. The health inspector doesn’t remember.

I am Zart of the Intergalactic Munitions Association and we regret to inform you that your Star Glider X3-20 has been towed by an inter-planetary advisory committee to counsel the League of Species on the rampant corruption in communications between the reporting structures established under 7.2 (b). But you cannot support your family without it and our new policy cannot locate your savings account. Your life is a wing-nut fumbled by a distracted mechanic suspended above a strip-mined cavern, currently bouncing from girder to rock, and escaping into genre fiction offers little-to-no comfort. Your first instalment is due in December.

I am a barely a fart in a windsock to the west of an abandoned runway. I am playing back the notes I made on my Dictaphone: self-deprecation … dyspepsia … easy enemies … despair. I mean saxophone. Something has been lost in transubstantiation, or an erratum slip flying from the pages of the completist’s terrible joke book, I mean who cares? Jargon, syrup and fly. I’m sorry I’m like this.

I am Stuart, vocalist for a post-punk band called Trip Hazard. This is a name we thought would be funny, we explain to the tech support as he gaffer tapes the mic lead to the dusty floor. I hate oppositional art because I have too much empathy. In a horror film I am the victim, in a game of chess I am the piece which rolls off the stone table and gets picked up by an off-the-leash jack russell. Therefore in oppositional art I am that which is opposed. But, says the drummer, have you considered that oppositional art such as the punk movement was and is actually opposing the bullies in the equation you posit? But punks used to spit in old lady’s faces, I tell him. In this equation I will always be an old lady’s face.

My date has lost her wallet, her phone and her keys and is still bravely trying to enjoy the evening. This is pretty funny because the slogan on my t-shirt is YOU’VE LOST YOUR WALLET, YOUR PHONE AND YOUR KEYS! – the title of Trip Hazard’s post-reunion album. How sweet to escape from the duties and responsibilities of work, domestic maintenance and family via a costly and distracting legal battle. The established pattern has fallen apart and only the typos were deliberate and/or I only respect monks and they don’t want it. Preferred it when I thought it was that. The jack-lead was accidentally plugged into your speech-centre, now I can remember, now I can remember. May you never lose you timbre.

Luke Kennard


Becoming double sonnet

The Jealousy Box says, “I am jealous of humans with both
Dicks  and twots.” I say, I am jealous of humans
With neither dicks nor twots. I am jealous
Of ghosts, shadows, clouds. There is a without me
Within me. It is immaterial (Buddhist joke).
Sonny Berman was a hell of a trumpet player.
Just listen to “Woodchopper’s Holiday.”
Neither dicks nor jokes. Hey, I’m just a dude, devalued.
I am jealous of this and that and them and those, ghosts,
Shadows, clouds. Now it is Les Brown & His Band of Renown,
I Got the Sun in the Morning,” vocal by Doris Day.
It gives me the Milky Way. I am jealous of the Milky Way, and
The Multiwavelength Milky Way, Sampsonia Way, and Niobe Way.
Who has been studying the social and emotional development of
Girls and boys for over two decades, hashtag dicks and twots.
And I remember John Davies and Brian Way, English professors,
Blind as bats, so drunk at the Royal St David’s hotel in Harlech,
Planning the scholarly article competition they would manufacture
Between themselves regarding Moby Dick, published in
The Critical Quarterly, just for the hell of it.
And I remember Channing Way in Berkeley where Andrea and I
Lived for four months in 1974 at the Rapa Nui apartment building,
Almost getting evicted for swimming naked in the pool at night,
Before we moved up to Jane Saunders’ house in Kensington, with
Tom Fogerty living next door and the miracle of cable TV in the bedroom.
Yes, sometimes there are miracles in the bedroom, but
No, not when I am around. When I am around there are reverse sexual
Epiphanies and Dadaist jokes…

Doug Lang


The Laffer Curve

On the back of a restaurant napkin he composed
the definitive exposition of the theory
that the economy is driven or decisively
restrained by the federal income tax rate,
and a lot of people went along with that, because
it was in their interest to do so but also because
he made the argument so casually and lent his apt name
to the diagram describing a direct ratio
between tax rates and the rate of unemployment.

That was an economist named Laffer, Arthur Laffer.

But I heard the news on the radio and in my mind
there was a curve that a mathematician had devised
to measure the success or failure of a comic endeavor
with highest honors awarded to practical jokes
that turn out to have a major influence on history
despite their intent to be just funny, a harmless
diversion, demonstrating that the last laugh,
whether bitter or hollow or even downright mirthless,
is always at the expense of the losers.

David Lehman



We are walking through windows,
we are playing with air. We are
heating it up, but learning
to cool it all down. We are practicing wisdom
on a ten inch screen in a bolted room,
and sending a message to God
and his heavens: we can no longer believe.             
We are herding millions of other magicians
into the schoolrooms to learn to be better.
And giving them tests, and carefully
making our judgments. We are passing by
the graveyard gardens, where every year more                  
stones appear. But we’re inscribing the morals:                  
A meaningful life, a life of adventure.
We are eating our ice creams, examining our bellies,
and wearing contraptions to hide all that flesh.
We are disappearing—but oh very slowly—until one day
we are hurtling through windows: Please
hold my hand, it is all I have left.                                        
We are moments. Then we’re not.—Was that                  
blood on those pages? Never mind—we
are scattered.

Kathryn Levy


The Museum Of Drowning

It’s difficult keeping
your head above water,
harder to not use cliché.

I surface occasionally
from paperwork and marking
at the end of another year.

Orange rooms above
purple and blue water;
a pineapple island

with boats on the lake:
the first time for
several centuries.

Two inches of water
are enough to drown in
if you lie face down;

a hundred essays
can trigger anxiety
and problems breathing.

Rupert Loydell


Six Windows Of Waste
We meet
eye to eye
many years after
our ripe lives turned to tomato soup –
the colour of your finger nails,
the veins in my feet -
for what forensic evidence in our neurology
remains of then?
What can we recoup
from a sandbagged cerebral cortex,
save the twitch
from holding onto an opening too long?
And what of you?
All hair and heels
to hats and Kipling bags;
from skinny dips to varicose;
from seaside one-liners
to frowns ploughed deep?

I want to sleep.

We meet
for a meal
a lifetime later,
cold plaice and a cold potato.
I talk of my Mediterranean stomach,
you, your new tropical hips.
I long for chips.
My faecal smear is in the post.
You twist your head
And forty years evaporate
For a nano-second of testosterone
To just before Nan’s corset broke
Against a reversing milk float.

But hey, six little windows of waste are in the post.

Rupert Mallin


Assemblage, Moeity, Propinquity

A boy and a girl, both violet-eyed, insouciant, with incipient wings, sitting by a chimney.

The girl with violet eyes and incipient wings, in love with a beleaguered, brooding boy with carved-rock cheekbones.

The brooding boy with carved-rock cheekbones — lissome, sweet, summery — in love with a girl penumbral in color, mellow and super happy in a bungalow.

The mellow girl penumbral in color, in love with a bucolic boy who lithely jumped off a bus after a young gazelle and got hit with a tranq bullet.

The bucolic boy who, after recovering from getting hit with the tranq bullet, fell in love with a fetching ingenue — umbrella haircut, eyes chatoyant — who strode unhindered in opulence toward a perfect good.

The fetching ingenue who strode in opulence toward a perfect good because she was in reality moving in unison with a furtive, comely boy twerking it to the future between two moonlit lagoons.

The comely boy who, while twerking it to the future between the two lagoons, became inured to an imbroglio involving alien cyborgs in the offing and his life-long nemesis: a boy sporting a gossamer ‘fro of mysterious abilities and cheeks efflorescent with joy  — his secret cynosure.

The boy whose cheeks are efflorescent with joy because he is beside his beloved girl-cousin Dalliance as she chooses, with forbearance, from a plethora of magical tools and talismans, one of which — The Shield of Desuetude — she must use to dissemble an evil, ineffable destiny.

The girl named Dalliance who experiences an epiphany and chooses correctly The Shield of Desuetude and so produces a boon for humanity, and then, as part of the panacea, asks a demure boy named Halcyon (his burlap-y dreadlocks wafting an evocative petrichor and swinging like rope around his shoulders), “What is the felicity of this harbinger Earth, this redolent green seraglio moored in the stars, and of the Moon which lilts the air like a sussurous evanescence, so soon to unravel, and with what stars has God imbued this night, and why?”

The demure boy with dreadlocks who trails a length of diaphanous petunias tucked into his underpants, at the end of which sits his pet fungal onion Susquehanna, in love with a tiny pony with a vestigial head hanging languorously from its neck, a head that is, in reality the woebegone ghost of some erstwhile Surrealist.

And the woebegone ghost of this erstwhile Surrealist, in a previous life one ingredient in a bitter elixir but in this one nothing more than a fugacious mote, the least scintilla of a long-lost palimpsest, but whose mote-love is the emollient ripple in the ether that suspires a wish in the heart of all things to bring the violet-eyed boy and a girl, insouciant, with incipient wings, to configure in miraculous imbrication by a chimney.

* * *

A note about the poem: I was recently accused of writing "ugly" poetry.  This poem contains a selection of the "fifty most beautiful words in the English language" (according to, you know ... someone).

Sharon Mesmer


Snow Rescuers in Their Own Words
"It seems strange in the 21st century that we're still at this type of game."
                        – Red Cross volunteer, quoted by BBC NI news, March 2013

Belshaw came to the rescue of a couple who had been snowed in for five days.
‘The wind's blowing and it's burying lambs and ewes.
It's just putting the tin hat on it.’

It's just putting the tin hat on it. ‘We’ve also used helicopters.
Nothing works. It's hard to even walk in it.’
The weight of the snow.

‘The weight of the snow took the trees down
and the trees came down over the lines and that took the lines down.’
We put snow in buckets.

‘We put snow in buckets and let them lick it.’
Belshaw came to the rescue,
and McCullough opened the road to a dairy farm in Carnalbanagh.

Martin Mooney


Crooked Spire

Are you giving me the come on?
you, beckoning like that –
misplaced apostrophe
above the town –
and leaning,

leaning over everything:
the Smirnoff-Ice sky,
weather in slow motion,
trees like children’s drawings
of themselves

and all the girls I used to be
queuing at Riley’s
for the night ahead,
the snowflakes falling
through them.

Helen Mort


(Com)modify with Me

Tree house splinters seam heaven-and-hell
within in the infant
psyche, trebled by incessant
lack of rest.

One leg of the restitution
journey segues into
marginal relief, unless
“you, too, can perform like

Helen Bitters, the renown
acrobat who (y)earned
(st)ripe old (st)age
fright in her (c)lean

way living in tan
dem with one’s own
(s)mall mown freshness
again(st) the (g)rain of daylight.

Sheila E. Murphy




the loft, detritus
I used to be so small
as a boy I used to be
so like a boy

Ladybird Learnabout the world
technology was pre-science fiction
except the Doctor Reverend Dobbs
his simple electronics
M.E.S bulb holder, capacitor mounting

in worlds of science
we have the electronic organ
mountable on three pieces of wood

mountable on loft beams
hanging pendant fittings
amateur hour in the house Jack built
the house Jack re-wired

Ladybird, Ladybird
fly fast 
your children Ladybird
they’re calling you

Martin Myers


The Pounding Rabbit

                     After a clock design by Neya Churyoku (1897-1987)

If you know the Japanese folk tale
about the rabbit that ended up
on the moon, you will not be puzzled
by a table clock depicting a rabbit
pounding rice cakes on the moon,
but if you do not know this story
you will look at the clock and pound
your own head in disbelief,
as if to knock from it the spirit
you wish to offer to the gods
who munch the rice cakes
and never turn to say thank you
except by sending down the genius
to create such a clock, such a rabbit.

Ron Padgett


Stay There So You Remember


Stay there so you remember
Blinded on the roof
Caught in the accretion
Stay calm and wild
And hot and blind
Haunting in your lover
Haunted on the roof
Stay there so you remember
The night we nearly came
A night caught in a bottle
All ether hazed protruding
Availing an existence
Of two relating dues
Where-when the lovers love
The claim is always two


It’s summer
Here again
The wind shakes
Up the path
It goes so
You’ll remember
The night we
Nearly came
It stays and
It remembers
It’s shaking up the path
And it is caught
And wild and
It stays warm
And blind


He says summer without Julia
I say summer without Mark
Two names approximate the other
Like in two mirrors of two sides
I say Mark and it is through my edge
Not with but through the mouth
I do not want to sleep
Until we are together Friday
It’s summer here again
In the summer without Julia
And in the summer without Mark

Julia Pello



This morning I could taste blood
in my mouth.  Toothpaste,
I thought, or the flavour
of the freshly risen.

But when I spat
my spit was valentine red,
landing on the ground like a surprise,
throwing me off guard.

I spat again
and once more the watery
warning sign slap-landed
on the pavement.

Of course I instantly thought of Keats,
coming home late that night with curdling lungs.
Then the image of bed-sheets
drenched in claret,

soaking in the kitchen sink.
I spat again and again,
and each time the spit
became more and more orange,

like the sunrise, I thought, strangely.
Though I could feel no sickness
in my body, I only just stilled
the butterflies, and it made me wonder

how young John Keats
must have felt,
first feeling the saliva rise
in his mouth,

raising a hand up to signal
pardon to a friend,
spitting love's colour
on to lush green blades.

Matthew Rice


Lounge Ghazal

I miss the excess of youth. So deep I used to drink of it—
Love till dawn, all night long, the double-cream stink of it.

The blues is just a skin too small for our flesh
But lately there are days when I’m past the brink of it.

Love also has its anthems and its flag:
The sepia and red and the pink of it.

More than the kick of liquor, more than the wiry taste,
I like the toast and the clink of it.

Did you do something so human you can’t even tell a friend?
Well, you can always tell your shrink of it.

Don’t get trapped in your past, Zack,
Not for a second, don’t you even think of it.

Zack Rogow



There was a mottled snake which made its home under our kitchen sink. If it was venomous, I would have to kill it. Otherwise, we could keep it as a pet.

There was a woman upstairs with smoothest skin who lay naked in her bed at nights, but I wasn’t sure it was me she was waiting for.

Around the corner was a small store no one went to anymore. I felt I must go there soon. I would buy a bottle of wine and chat to the Indian owner the way I used to. But first I had to decide upon the snake and the woman.

Ian Seed


Something That Was Not Fragmented

I contemplate a part of
your beauty that is
like having a new key, or
like holding a snake that
has had its venom emasculated.

The battle with that serpent is
almost over, and the
joys of the fruit will soon
be settled.

You are the designer of
my limitations. You are the
root of my fervour, and
I am caught in your days.

I spent too much time on
the reckoning and not
enough on the shoreline—or
so it was mentioned to me.

You knew the sea would
cure me, though, but not
for how long.

Jeffrey Side



Old age, Tolstoy wrote, is the biggest surprise
In a man's life. So true! Childhood hours
In the ancient car I now recall, the hot months,
Sox game on the radio, soporific Bob Elson
Mumbling in the microphone, "Um, strike one,"
And at bat Sherman Lollar, sloth-like catcher,
Elson droning, "Ball four. It's a base on balls,"   
Henri Bergson called this perceived duration,
The sense of time as elastic phenomenon
Stretched or compressed by stoic's fortitude
Or child's impatience: "Are we there yet?"
And this is where the surprise comes in.
Yes, my good man, you have arrived there.
Yes, you are there all right, ya big dummy.

In fact, you've already been there for a while
Except "there" is not "where" or even "what"
You would have imagined. "There" is "here,"
Wherever you happen to be at the time.
As the snail everywhere bears its shell, 
You and the destination are one now,
Not where you're going but what you are.

But we will grieve not, as Wordsworth wrote.
Or perhaps we will grieve. Shall we? No matter,
It doesn't really amount to a hill of beans.
That's just how the cookie crumbles, 
That was the funeral of Hector.

Mitch Sisskind



At the bus stop in front of the mall
but there might be too many people there
it's not a very good place to meet we might miss each other
but it's easy to find the 69 bus runs every 13 minutes
the first one being at 06.36 or 06.41 on Sundays
and the 10A is every 16 minutes the first one is 06.25
seven days a week but it goes the long way round.

Outside the library if it's not raining I'll be
holding The Consolation of Philosophy I've read it four times
now I'm on my fifth Boethius was in prison when he wrote it
in AD 524 mine is the Penguin edition it cost 30 yuan.

In Starbucks I'll try and get a couch
but it's not always possible if I don't get
a couch I'll be I don't know where I'll be how could I
know Starbucks now has more than 750 stores
in the People's Republic of China two years ago there
were none in this city now we have three.

The lobby of the White House Hotel  you don't need to
be a guest to go inside a room there costs
from around 800 yuan and up but it's cheaper
if you book online there's a site I use all the time it's good
although I don't trust the hotel reviews unless
I write them myself which sometimes I have done.

Round the back of the Zhu Ying supermarket
where they stack used cardboard from boxes
stuff comes in nobody goes round there in the evening
it's dark the girls especially steer clear but it's too near the bins
I saw a family of rats there last time it was a family of five
one rat for each bin they were very well organized.

At the entrance to the cemetery a resting place for
at the last count 972 souls partaking of glory.

Martin Stannard


emu park, qld. 

tonight, within this slab of sauna heat we 
sprawl like flattened toads on grass as warm 
as breath & eat. we feed each other wide-hipped 
prawns from bowls hand-crafted by the children 
of xi’an. our fingers taste of brine & lime, the syrup 
cloy of over-ripe mangoes. we hungrily kiss, 
devour our feast & then each other’s burning
skin. the beer we drink will cool our lips. we have

grown adept in silences, in naming constellations,
have learnt humility from the weight of their light. we
have conjured sunrise in far-off darkness; launched
prayers into this dome of sky & sung; each fragile note
or lyric swarm like billiard balls they kiss the glow of the
southern cross, careful trajectories guiding them home.

Paul Summers


Targets and systems, for morality

Where is the breeding end of all this talk,
by a flickering, long dead monitor,
crammed with insane systems, to plan and splurge
tainted glories onto a savage class,
which grasps and sleeps and stuffs and is not me.

People become targets, assigned at night,
when the emails arrive unasked between
two waves, flint water hard as failure.

Always he is punctual. The sound
of his shoes, his showergel aroma.
All the world to his child. Held,
towel-warm and safe, under his chin.

At work, one man crying, to another -
shameful such decline. Blame is important,
I spent a year in Moscow, the basements
of pain, ledgers with targets for slave camps.

Alice Threadlee Brown, wrapped in her deadsheets,
can garner evidence for damnation -
she tiptoes into rooms as the air leaves,
her accurate judgements based on nonsense.

When I questioned the socialist zeal
for measurement, I was canned with corn beef,
reminded of centuries of turnips,
matchgirls leaving their jaws at the altar.

Often when I drive through these endless towns
I hear a lonely family pray and sing,
bird voices raised above the roar,
just half understood, tears in the dawn;
as I slept I had cried about something
but forgot it all when I awoke.

Though much is stolen, bits of it are left.
But the place is unrecognizable -
still and whatever, it is what it is:
wrecked by targets and sadistic systems,
the pure intellect abides in its cave,
to think and know and see and hope to write.

Paul Sutton, 3rd July 2013


images become aspects of the real

which burns the streets treats of itself white hot in love
lined avenues beating red eyes downcast cigarette butts
cluttering drains the head of purpose
                                                                   explains the system
works by pressing levers into sockets till they hurt
no-one except bare-back riders of bad news

or      when it stops
                                       music wrung out
for every split second      changing course
you are weeping      which seems irrelevant but
sentiment’s stuck at the heart of it
                                                             (all the fun of the fair)

and like you say      stumps bleeding off the wheel
relax      who knows how fast we’re moving really

Nathan Thompson


The Indian mystic

Once in a dream an Indian swamiji
came to the bad daughter, arms outstretched.
In actual fact the swamiji was dead
he’d had a heart attack
three weeks before she arrived at the ashram,
she couldn’t help but think
his death had something to do with her,
the way her mere presence in the family home
would cause her father’s horses
to come fourth or fall at the final hurdle.
In the dream the Indian mystic
wore an orange robe and smelled
the way Sundays should smell,
without the looming dread of Monday morning,
like I say he approached with arms outstretched
while she took hesitant steps towards him
wondering what she’d have to give up
this time but when he folded his arms around her
she lost nothing, nothing was sucked from her,
it was all give on the part of the swamiji
and the bad daughter let out such a breath of relief
she was afraid she’d blow him clean away.
But he held fast, not in a clingy or desperate way,
no, he held on and he kept giving, it was a miracle,
it was as if she actually deserved all this love,
and she drank it all in although she kept glancing
over her shoulder, waiting for the catch,
waiting for the waiter to sidle up to her table
and hand her the bill she’d never be able to pay.

Lorna Thorpe



you thought that the
argument could have got
out the pattern edged
through the gut punched
on both fronts wanting
reconciliation at the price
of supplication took its
toll to bespoke overtures
and retrievals troubled
inequities across a costed
bound to flip a tense
bird macho man
thought to bury thought
to contest whilst dis-
avowing ego ignominy
attention unfolded full
mediocrity in the median
mode is not a judgement
that manipulated your
ambitions the exact
opposite of what you de-
clare to tamp turned
out and over ashes of
survival in a crumb of
burned out porcelain
simple sonnet something
beyond the pale could
not advance your artificial
objectives to have your
art and eat it out

Scott Thurston



            “Can’t / you believe she’s your sister?”
                        “The Eel,” Eugenio Montale, trans. David Young

A belt from the sea,
pure long appetite.
Its kind clusters in pits,
darkened glass,
all snout
but filled with riches:
Cleopatra unrolled from a rug
or lowered in a stocking.
Or this one is
slippery as galoshes,
slub skinned, slick affidavit-bearing
absolute lawyer of pliability,
a lawyer’s lawyer’s lawyer,
a slippery bait,
a river shriven and twisted,
and recently more likely found in ditches--
a tongue on its own
that does not
respond to us
with sympathy
never will be
my sister.

Lee Upton


Free Ache

fools pull
pure hearts from bridesmaids’
warm breasts
trying to break relations

and weak and magnificent
bleak adventurers ramble

owners of hearts remember
the indifference of
jeering doves
who bring peace

plain echoes
harshly shatter silence
and the rain hides chasms
in every verse
and stamps on love letters

austere and deafly red
the earth grows
while singing trees
in clear profane dreams
meekly embrace swaggering vipers

defiant the hostage’s soul rises
in a free ache

Daniela Voicu


American Coffee

Dare I open my mouth to sing
wake to the sound of taxi cabs
something about weather   about
the smell of jazz art   and   and
you’re looking pretty tasty tonight
like bagels and lox   hold the mayo

always what’s not said   opportunity
no not that   it’s like everywhere
goes out the window   you’re sharp
in those jeans   as the Empire State
holy as new penny   your smile
may be a dream of New York
knock me down with a    one day
I’ll be amased   feather in Manhatten

and probably not appropriate   like you
Times Square shines in the movies
I’m always criminally shy   Harlem
jitterbugs   head all musical affect
you’re probably not interested but
Batman climbs the side of a building

I’m really not that kind of guy
in the rain   this will be swept away
but I can’t help notice   and avert
(when the storm comes I wake up)
my eyes from your chest   which is
let’s face it   lovely   I’ve never been
to New York   something appropriate
American coffee   hot dogs stands

Steven Waling


Clay Feet 

Yesterday, when I was walking
as exiled humans do, in clay feet,
outside the garden of the knowledge
of good and evil in the cool of the evening,
God slipped into a pair of clay feet too.
We walked foot to foot for some time
and being that close, I noticed that
God is:

More earth than air.
More of here than of there.
And all of now.
Bounding in and out of ifs.
Abiding boundless
inside is.

Transcendent most
in immanence hiding
 in nooks of creation.

He’s  as much of a she as a he
and She is also we, and God
forgive me, also me.

Creeds cannot catch Him
Nor churches house Him.
                                    He keeps no throne in Rome.

He has no test for us to pass.
No will for us to bow to.
                                    He burns no hell.

He yawns when He hears “O God” intoned
by preachers over the pews, but He
cups His ear when

someone alone in the pews whispers
“O God, help me
                   make it through the night.”

Listen then and you may hear His hum of
Nothing to do but
be, dear.
 Nowhere to go but
here, dear.

Michael Whelan



What do you want girl 
between your breasts 
and jutting hips – a ravine, a cutting, 

or a valley’s slopes? 
Soft stays that work like muscle 
or a harness made of steel, bone? 

Jackie Wills



The oceans drink the rivers.
The smoke replaces the sky.
Then the gospels tell of the origin
of the birds and how the birds flew
too close to the cockpits and how
the planes then crashed. And that
is how man came to know about
the split between nature and artifice.

The dietary laws are strict up here.
They call for men to dress in gigantic
black overcoats when they are killing
something to eat. Everyone lives
in a settlement where the beautiful
maidens are kept out of sight.
Whenever there is violence, the precepts
recommend that you riff on your horn.

Down below, there are tinkers
hiding in the forest. There are runaways
cooking dope in the alleyways. It’s cool.
It’s very fucking cool, yo. The banks
are open for business, burning your
credit rating in a rusty oil drum. You could
fry a chicken over that hot flame.

Terence Winch


On Death Condoms

            after Jean Genet

You would look divine in a cape on a divan.
(Just maybe drool or purr or coo anon.)

We’re songs on a gorge on a samsara veranda.
Oh no. You can see where this is going.

A baby a professional a gulag Cassandra.
Souvenirs can claim oh no & pathos & veni vidi vici.

Let’s now soothe lemurs—or let lemurs soothe Lionel Richie.
The point shaking up the front the up shaking point the.

Hello—is it me, the man too bizarre in the sun
or him looking four-eyed from my tourist binoculars?

Save these eyes, unruly piggies.
A musk escapes with you.

Cold watering holes vs. solar holes,
Mouth vs. anus, gauche vamp of ages.

Brrrrrrrrrrrr, Heads of Unctuous Gauze,
said a post-it put on every big bank casket.

Any dropped visage claims l’aissez-passer
any leap a lop-eared earthquake.

Ugh the frisson of the crude mother without clothes
of taboo scents in the mall, pantyhose a tone of baggage.

What a grand plunge she has sung—
what muff, what loofah, what flotilla

A person can kiss anywhere any time of the day.
A song can pass the evening in a balloon.

Yo, matador. Yo, Pluto. For real please stop this. Ok.
The dreams of Monopoly cannot keep looking

& claiming love anymore. Much more real: a moose
convincing leaves of his majestic knife pontoon.

Elisabeth Workman


In The Cloak Room

Except to hang up our coats in the morning
or to retrieve them when school was over,
the only time we went into the cloak room
during Sister Maria Rita’s sixth grade
was by her express permission. “Cloak room”
even back then was a strange phrase, since
none of us wore cloaks, and because the “room”
wasn’t really a room at all, but a huge closet
filled with hooks and darkness. Perhaps
there was a ceiling fixture there, but I
never remember seeing light. One day
I raised my hand and asked to get something
that I had left in my jacket, or maybe
it was simply an excuse to remove myself
for a couple of minutes from the tirades
of the nun who was nicknamed “Monkey.”
Her sallow skin was horribly shriveled, and she
jerked her body about as if strings were pulled
that made her move. There I was in the cloak room
when some kind of freaky feeling seized me,
and I, always the Good Boy, found myself
standing in the dark among the coats and jackets
that hung like so many disembodied children,
all slightly hunchbacked.  I clawed the air,
making my most horrible monster face,
my gestures timed to parody the shrieking of the nun.
I must have thought that if I could make physical
the ripped-up feeling inside me, the feeling
of being shredded by the hatchet of her voice,
I might wipe it out—the screech like the sound
chalk sometimes made on the blackboard.
Sister’s other nickname was Captain Tiptoes:
up she’d go on the balls of her feet, unheard
by her next victim, only to slam him unawares
into the top of a desk or the side of a wall,
or to smack him with her pointer. And now,
as I clawed and gnashed at the black cloak room air,
I turned to see Monkey heading for me, her spectacles
catching glints of light as she moved in to grab me.
I don’t know what she thought I was doing. I
didn’t know what I thought I was doing. I don’t
even remember what she did—maybe she shook me
to bring me to my senses. But the thought
crosses my mind that maybe, at that moment,
I was beginning to come to my senses, to protest
in my crazy way the daily insanity that all of us
were made to live with—the rule of fear
and physical punishment that hovered
like the statue
of the crucified Christ
in every room of the school,
as if from his own cosmic hook
on the classroom walls.

Bill Zavatsky



The tide goes out
Revealing mud
And amorphous shapes
Half-covered in mud.

A gull swings by
With a shell in its mouth—
Clam or mussel—
Then drops it from on high.
It splats
and doesn't break.
The gull picks it up
and drops it again.
And again.
The fine line between stubbornness
And stupidity.

Little air bubbles
Signs of life
At your feet.
Your ankles, actually.

Larry Zirlin


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