Thursday, 21 September 2017

THINGS TO DO WHEN YOU HAVE NO HOME

by Lorri Jackson


Be sure to have enough
friends w/ spare sofas
wake up, quietly put on
the same T-shirt
worn 7 days consecutively
and smellin quite like you
creep out into the mornin
the bones in the bottom
of yer feet and knees
are still achin
from walkin the day before
so head to yer fave diner
where a bowl of soup is less
than a dollar
drink 7 cups of coffee
and the mornin is spent
pick up yer bags
and walk slowly
no sense in hurryin now
sit on a bus bench for a while
and talk a long time
about jesus to the woman
next to you
or the black man in the alley
who says he used to play percussion
with the rollin stones
drink beer on a park bench
if someone else buys it
go back to the diner for more coffee
yer calves ache
and yer knees ache
and the small of yer back aches
and yer belly aches
and yer lungs ache
and yer arms ache
and yer heart aches
ride the train to the end
of the line a couple of times
and if you have the money
see a double B feature
and if it’s rainin
read a book in the library
it’s evenin now
and too cold to sleep in the park
go to a bar
and try to meet a nice man
make sure it’s dark enough
he can’t tell how shabby yer clothes are
maybe he has his own apartment
and a well stocked refrigerator
and he doesn’t have a girlfriend
a sweetheart, a wife
show him yer dimples
even if it hurts
the scars on yer heart
and the bottom of yer feet
when the sun comes up
put on yesterday’s T-shirt
worn 8 days consecutively
yer crusty socks and stuffed boots
creep out into the mornin
the bones in the bottom
of yer feet are still achin
a cupa soup is less
than a dollar
write a letter to yer grandma
while yer waitin for the bus
you never get on
tell her yer fine
and not to worry
but don’t tell her the worst part
of livin day to day
is not havin a place to cry in privacy
don’t tell her the greyhound urinals
suffice for now
don’t tell her the bones
in the bottom of yer feet
ache like you were a hundred years old
just tell yer grandma
yer doin fine


* * * * *

"Things To Do When You Have No Home" is from So What If It's True: From the Notebooks of Lorri Jackson, edited by RW Spryszak and published by Thrice Publishing 2017.

Lorri Jackson died in 1990 at the age of 28. She suffocated after injecting heroin. Some of her powerful work survives and tells her grimy truth without obvious complaint but with merciless accuracy.



Wednesday, 20 September 2017

LETTER TO DAWN

by Lorri Jackson


shed the remnants of the day
the hard bright sun, the grilling heat
blast of a hell ladened year. It is
summer, my friend, are you surfing
as you read this? I am thinking
about you: off go
my shoes, my shirt,
panties. i’ve already smoked
some hash, and eaten a big
meal of noodles, raw cucumbers
feta cheese on the side. see, i am
trying to take care of myself.
and get this; when i can remember
i take vitamins in the morning
to ward off the demons
of yeast infections, fleas, garbage
flies, cotchrot, toto. too much
pestilence leads to thoughts
of retribution. too much
of the white stuff and i am really
starting to hear detectives at the door.
funny, when i was a kid it was
angels. so between the falls
i am really trying
to get up consistently and not feel
like shit. ‘mortality
is reality. and graveyards
a reminder.’ to quote
my own damned self

3:30 this afternoon and it’s 100 degrees
plus, and i’m walking around in a black
dress. sweat pours in rivets, riverlets
rivelets. i think of blanche
dubois and other southern fried graces
sure, i’d like a slow gin fizz, right now
no fan is gonna blow
this grit from my skin
no north wind is gonna breeze
in from the cool sea
HOW MUCH HONEY?
one thousand to lick the bottom
of my shoe sucker
the rican boyos in the neighborhood love
the tattoos, something to do with
gangs, prisons, promises
BENITO AND INGLIO, PAPO AND MUERTO
muerto the man with brown bags and
a demon dog with the face of a rat
he did it to himself, in ‘college’
as they like to call the penitentiary
with a stereo needle and an electric razor
YOU DON GOTTA LEH DEM TOUCH
              YOUR ARM LIKE DAT
Papo whispers to me JUS TELLEM DATS YORE OLE
               MAN DERE ACROSS DE STREET

now, though, like i said
i’ve been trying to take care of myself
layin low. ‘chillin’ as george says.
he’s the reason i had to get off the phone
and we weren’t doing what my sigh implied; instead
just as i say hello he pulls out
this well over a gram bag singing
no blow no show. suddenly i got the blues
and i can’t help my skin
starts to itch and my asshole stricts up
you feel like the bottoms gonna drop out
and you grin seemingly against your will
and you get this urge to fall
to your knees

so we sat on the back porch and listened
to the el and the alley cats, eyes buggin out
drinkin liquids like crazy
he talked about these old blues guys
from the mississippi delta who sold their souls
to the devil to play with all their heart
how do you know, i ask, blasting
IT’S IN THE WORDS he says JUS LISSEN

sometimes i feel
i just gotta jump
i don’t like this life right now
i don’t like where it’s going
because it’s going nowhere
all this shuffling from place to place
is pointless, all
this drifting leaves a sticky film
clinging to my memory. i need
to sit and sort out all my lives

this life; cancer of bad memories, want
of revenge, CUT IT OUT, make it clean...

have i complained about the heat and humidity yet?
drains a person, i feel so ill
chewed my lips to pieces yesterday wondering
why i haven’t started bleeding yet
only to discover i miscalculated by a week
everything is dream to me i don’t punish
my nightmares for being nightmares. i love
them too
(i hear my paranoias before i see them
when i was a kid my dad used to call me
cornhead because i had big ears)

the next probable cause of this everyday
nausea bloat is disease. DISease, rotting female
parts, dave the tattoo man says
DON’T BE SO NEGATIVE
or you’ll give yourself tumors
pessimistic or realistic, that is
the question. at least
i’m still walking

because really, the underlying reason for every ache
and pain is not the devil shorn spit of frolicking
on the wrong side, paying for excess thru body
malfunctions but is really the very quickly deteriorating
OZONE LAYER. that’s why it’s so incredibly hot.
i remember the twilight zone
i’ve read jg ballard
so can we expect every summer to be as nasty
100 degrees by 10 o’clock
it’s the heat that drags you down
sweat drips, it’s the cause
of the clogged sinus, the numbed left
big toe, the pinched nerves in my back, the way
my legs feel so heavy sometimes
i’m not so sure
i wanna walk – see, i’m doing alright
with this life, grand in its own way
so that big blue minnesota sky
with a lone kite and the distant rumble
of a young boy’s dirtbike
that i keep looking for
on el platforms, walking down milwaukee avenue
always looking for in sunsets, flashing lights
crooked lines, that something
that is always bright, new, inspiring


* * * * *

"Letter to Dawn" is from So What If It's True: From theNotebooks of Lorri Jackson, edited by RW Spryszak and published by Thrice Publishing in 2017.

Lorri Jackson died in 1990 at the age of 28. She suffocated after injecting heroin. Some of her powerful work survives and tells her grimy truth without obvious complaint but with merciless accuracy.



Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Great Lakes Light House

by Laura Tarasoff


As she patches another gaping hole in her soul
She realizes the warning lights were as bright as
A light house beacon on the Great Lakes.
So sure that she knew how to navigate these waters
The warnings went ignored. Now she sits,
Smashed into the rocks of one shallow soul after another,
Inspecting the damage done by past groundings,
Some still leak, if the conditions are right.
So patch she does, while people stand on the shore pointing out
Where she went wrong or laughing at her.
The laughter is preferred,
It makes better tar for the patch.
With the new tide lifting her up, she sails away.
Not waiting for another’s ship to come in.
She is the captain of her own destiny.
It’s just a matter of keeping her ship a sail
And only her bourbon on the rocks.


* * * * *


"Great Lakes Like House" was previously published at poetrybytheshot.wordpress.com

Monday, 18 September 2017

Investment Lesson

by Laura Tarasoff



“I bought myself a new coat.”
My mother announced
As if she had bought a diamond ring.
“That’s nice.”
I was happy for her
“You don’t understand,”
Distress in her voice,
“I bought MYSELF a NEW coat.”
I got it
My mother hadn’t had a brand new coat
In, what, years? Ever?
“That’s Great, Mom!”
Her smile shone over the phone line.
The lesson was not learned until,
I bought myself a new coat.
I have become my mother.

“Someday we’d like to travel.”
My mother sighed.
“You should go.”
There was never, what?
Money? Time? Health?
They never went.
Lesson learned.
I went, and plan to go again
I will learn from my mother’s mistake
She taught me by example

There will always be reasons not to,
They drain your soul of hope
When you do
You realize the reasons to go
Are the life your soul has been missing
There is joy.
Take the trip.
Buy the coat.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

HE THINKS IT WAS JUST YOU HE MARRIED

by Judith Offer


Without any warning
He has broken all our words,
Carried them around his town
Leaving them at doorsteps:  Unattached,
They hop whatever breeze and rustle off,
Unconnected, with nothing to mean by.
Is that why you wander your yard,
Collecting the floating autumn leaves?
            We will basket them with you
            If you show us which ones.

The night that you told us
We burned your pain in our fireplace
And when it was ashes
Buried it in our love. We would have
Slept with you between us like a baby,
And on into the next day
Which grayed over and teared quietly,
Like you, trying not to disturb.
            It’s too late:  We’re long past not caring
            And we have to cry, too.

In the cold sunrises
Your fair child sleeps uneasy
To dreams of Daddy
Coming home. We want to hold her
And tell her he will soon put his clothes
Back in the closet. But last time he came
He lined it with leaves
And told her to sleep in it.
            After a while will we all get used
            To your small daughter on a shelf?

With winter coming in
We could bring you candles by the armload.
But the light you look for
Would come in his eyes. At least we can
All build a fire so the child won’t freeze.
Clean the ash heap from your heath;
We will take it outside
And throw it at the wind.
            Whatever catches in our eyes
            Will wash with tears.


* * * * *

Judith Offer has had two daughters, five books of poetry and dozens of plays. (Eighteen of the latter, including six musicals, have been produced.)  She has read her poetry at scores of poetry venues, but is particularly delighted to have been included in the Library of Congress series and on “All Things Considered,” on NPR.  Her writing reflects her childhood in a large Catholic family—with some Jewish roots—her experience as teacher, community organizer, musician, historian, gardener, and all-purpose volunteer, and her special fascination with her roles of wife and mother.  Her most recent book of poetry, called DOUBLE CROSSING, is poems about Oakland, California, where she lives with her husband, Stuart.




Saturday, 16 September 2017

Monsoon

by Lee Nash


I don’t want this to be
another poem
about the rain.
There are many good poems
about the rain.

Rather
I want these words to fall on you
like rain,
like monsoon rain.

On you – that dry, cultivated
one
who never stands out
in the rain.

On you – that desert full of seeds
that longs
for life-giving rain.

Yes, these are only simple words,
not rain.
But simple were the words
that made you run for shelter.

Rain.
These drops of water
fall,
these drops of brilliant
rain
fall faster,
faster
and you are standing still
under the rain.

Under heavy rain.

You know what it
is saying
and you are soaked
to the skin.


* * * * *

"Monsoon" was first published in Wildflower Muse, 2 September 2016.

Lee Nash lives in France and freelances as an editor and proofreader. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in print and online journals in the UK, the US and France including Ambit, AngleAntiphon, Mezzo Cammin, Orbis, Poetry Salzburg ReviewPresence, Sentinel Literary QuarterlyThe Interpreter's HouseThe Lake and The World Haiku Review. You can find a selection of Lee’s poems on her website: leenashpoetry.com.


Friday, 15 September 2017

Picture of Marilyn

by Julia Carlson


She smokes a daisy
The stem bruised by her perfect teeth
Her skin is smooth as a petal
She inhales the petals with a sigh
She should comb her hair
But she doesn’t care
Marilyn smokes a daisy
Marilyn bites the stem
Marilyn smiles for a while
Marilyn smokes a flower
Delicate as life
Up in smoke.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

THE LACEMAKER

by Julia Carlson


Thin fingers tat thread
web for a silky bride.
How long ago she was young.
Agile.  Limbs like saplings.
Green.
Never thinking of this day.
Clicking needles in a wood frame
bending, to see the flowered knot
the feathered wing
the curling vein of leaf
vine rushes spindly shoots
slow wave of thread
undulating hems necks sleeves.
Limbs tangled with another’s.
Fingers, arms. His too.
She remembers
her hair floating twisted in his hands
auburn river down her back
web for a silky bride.







Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Family Photo

by Gail Rudd Entrekin


In the old photo of people no one here remembers
the bride, slim and wistful in her pillbox hat with veil,
stands beside him at the coffee urn in a sleeveless,
belted summer white, nothing especially bridal but the veil,
and gazes off, slightly smiling, into the middle distance,
bemused, almost knowing.
                                                   And he, in a good suit, white cuffs
with shiny links, handsome, tall, saying something funny
to someone on her other side, off camera, lightly holding
her uplifted finger tips above her wrist corsage, is unaware.
He has one eye patched, the first thing you notice in the photo,
and you have to wonder what reckless moment brought him that
(he looks like that kind of guy), what unconsidered acts are yet to come.

She looks forward, right through the camera, her lips vaguely curved,
but on a different plane, sensing, almost comprehending, her mistake.


* * * * *

Gail Rudd Entrekin is Poetry Editor of Hip Pocket Press and Editor of the online environmental literary magazine, Canary (www.canarylitmag.org).  She is Editor of the poetry anthology Yuba Flows (2007) and the poetry & short fiction anthology Sierra Songs & Descants: Poetry & Prose of the Sierra (2002).

Her poems have been widely published in anthologies and literary magazines, including Cimarron Review, Nimrod, New Ohio Review, and Southern Poetry Review, were finalists for the Pablo Neruda Prize in Poetry from Nimrod International Journal in 2011, and won the Women’s National Book Association Award in 2016. 

Entrekin taught poetry and English literature at California colleges for 25 years.  Her books of poetry include The Art of Healing (with Charles Entrekin) (Poetic Matrix Press 2016); Rearrangement of the Invisible, (Poetic Matrix Press, 2012); Change (Will Do You Good) (Poetic Matrix Press, 2005), which was nominated for a Northern California Book Award; You Notice the Body (Hip Pocket Press, 1998); and John Danced (Berkeley Poets Workshop & Press, 1983).  She and her husband, poet and novelist Charles Entrekin, live in the hills of San Francisco’s East Bay. 



Tuesday, 12 September 2017

FADED VELVET

by Susan P. Blevins


By the window keeping lonely watch stands
my Mother’s favorite armchair,
velvet faded from the sun that tentatively
reached into the room to warm her suffering body
years ago, when courageously she faced the
demons of cancer that ate away her body

How can I ever part with this armchair?
Memorial of a conversation we had as she
approached the fated end of life on this earth, in
this incarnation, at this time, with me,
her only child

She sat in this chair, and I leaned against her knees
while she lovingly stroked my hair. Looking up at
her, I listened while she poured out her grief and sorrow,
expressed the horror she felt at seeing the ravages of
cancer slowly but surely erupting all over her body,
consuming her flesh like the stinking sulfurous 
Phlegraean Fields of Pozzuoli in southern Italy

Then in a moment, demon transformed into angel
and she said to me, “Darling, all the suffering, all the pain of
surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, it’s all been worth it to
bring us together as close as we are in this moment, today.”
The blessing of our tears is held in that armchair, the tender
words of love we spoke echo around it like a cloud of angels
singing throughout eternity the ultimate song of love


* * * * *

"Faded Velvet" was first published in Mused BellaOnline Literary Review.