Balls

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Contributor: Maureen Kingston

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A whole new ball game. He was all balled up
about it--shaking over home plate. What if
he dropped the ball? Made a fielding error?
Lost focus? He must keep his eye on the ball.

He’d been trying to retrain his body for months,
to unlearn the lifelong habit of sleeping
on his stomach, a routine established in the crib.
So far his efforts had been a bust,
the objects of his failure in full view--
an assortment of odd balls on his bedside table.

The ping-pong ball in his pajama pocket
was an early casualty, his first cratered skull.
The slippery golf ball next, rolling silently
out of his pocket in the middle of the night,
breaking right in the rough under the bed.

The tennis ball appeared to be the perfect size--
big enough to irritate, to coax movement,
but not so big he couldn’t sleep through it.
No matter. Size didn’t affect the result.
He awoke, as before, on his belly,
the tennis ball drenched in sweat, suffocated
by the weight of his chest.

He envied his wife, already modified, sleeping
on her side. She’d retrained her body
with a basketball. Nine months pregnant,
she’d been lying on her side for weeks.
She no longer shared his nightmare of crushing
the baby in his sleep. The shot clock was running
down. He’d have to step up his game.


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Maureen Kingston lives in Nebraska.

Dark Clouds of Spirits Rise

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Contributor: John Evans

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Darkness clouds the vastness of sky
Of cactus and vine in a south Texas air,
And from its thorny depths of brambles rise
Within its midst the old wooden cross of
San Juan Capistrano…asks “why?”
A white-washed mission of centuries ago
With three arched bell towers
Ring as thunder hugs the sky.
A house of faith where the desert traveler dwells…
And days since past the contemplative’s hell,
Where the dark nights of many souls
Gather to confess in all their sins,
Seeking absolution from life’s bitter regrets
And so many men.
The journey of one, though, lie in this hand –
Of days and decades old, as old as this man…
With wrinkled brow and shoulders of hair
In the demons eyes squarely he stares,
But the ages of dust bring memories of
A deep rooted old,
Where men of virtue, against all the odds, as
Strong may be bold.
And one thing stands clear in life’s challenges so high
Are the dark clouds of despair
Upon the spirits which rise.


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A former US Marine and Rifle Range Coach, John has much to share of his days as a US Marine. Poetry being the genre of choice, John enjoys sharing his military life having proudly serving his beautiful country and the freedom of democracy!

Just Saying The Words

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Contributor: John Ogden


Should I have been cruel
to soothe your ego?
Should I have been as a wall
unmoving
unwilling
pure and stony
while she blundered through your bludgeonings
the cudgels tossed
from Texas
to here?
Should I have left her
left her standing alone
cold, shaking, afraid?
Should I have left her
to lift her
own boxes
her
own luggage
and only then
when the ashes had cleared
when the years had opened
all the barred doors
you were locked behind
give you all those chances to beat her with words
to bend her
to twist her
until at last she relents
again
and you can go on living
in your angry rut
loving
but not really loving
saying the words
while never touching
saying the words
just saying the words.


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John Ogden was conceived of a government form and a passing mailbox. He lives somewhere out in the woods of a rural land more akin to the fantasy realms of literature than real life, and his favorite dirt bikes will always be the broken ones.

I Believe in Faeries

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Contributor: JD DeHart

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Anyone can see from the decor
on the binder and locker,
she's a true believer,
right down to the spelling choice,
"Faerie," next to the lipstick message
about her boyfriend and the bubblegum
pop music lyrics she's scrawled down.


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JD DeHart is a writer and teacher. His first chapbook, The Truth About Snails, is due Fall 2014.

The Merits of Tea

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Contributor: Ben Riddle

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I brought her tea one night
when she had told me
that the trees were whispering
secrets about her;

that they knew the name
of her jaded lovers
their kinks
and the colour of their eyes.

I boiled the water at home;
taking it in a flask
along with two tea cups
and waited
after knocking three times
so she could clean her room
twice more.

When she let me in
I poured two cups of tea
put them on the table
and then hugged her
held her

for a very long time;
until the tea was cold
the wind was quiet
and she didn’t need me anymore.


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A nineteen year old aspiring poet and athlete from Perth, Western Australia, Ben Riddle studies Political Science and English and Cultural Studies at the University of Western Australia. You can find more of his work at riddlesocialcommentary.tumblr.com

America’s Ghost Signs 2

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Contributor: Maureen Kingston

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Today I’m overseeing
wall dogs as they restore
T.J. Eckleburg’s eyes.
My Gatsby will live
to plunder East Egg,
pluck Daisy from her
petal-strewn mansion,
spirit her to a magic
kingdom in the glades.
Amazing how quickly
Fitzgerald sold
his rights to me,
even offered to throw in
“The Crack-Up”
as a bonus, seemed hurt
when I declined--
not a big market
for confession
in the amusement game.

***

A rookie starts to muff
the doctor’s left lid.
I step in, guide
the hobo marker.
Soon the entire
billboard’s filled,
top to bottom,
with spray-painted eyes--
a wall of hot-coaled
possum eyes.
Cenophobia,
the smart-mouthed
rookie says,
flicking his cigar ash
into my cap.
You fear blank spaces.
The cops come,
make a fuss.
Court-ordered therapy
my punishment
for vandalizing
a literary icon,
for daring to dodge
erasure, for saying
I am here
with an aerosol can.


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Maureen Kingston lives in Nebraska.

America’s Ghost Signs 1

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Contributor: Maureen Kingston

- -
An ecstatic woman
on downtown brick
holds a white jar
to her cheek. It cools
her blush.
What’s in the
mysterious jar?
I won’t know
for months,
until the restorers
raise the tagline
from crumbling stone.
All the rage--
saving faded script
from swaybacked signs,
resurrecting
maimed words
from country barns
centuries on their knees.
Why the sudden passion
to preserve?
More American
to tear down or paint over.
Our digital age perhaps,
our sense of touch
so deprived
we’ll reach for
cold-creamed faces
on concrete walls.


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Maureen Kingston lives in Nebraska.

Remission of a Drug Fiend

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Contributor: Timothee B.

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At first I was fed
With mild meds
Then I grew up,

I drank a cup,
I smoked some pot,
Did both a lot
And some Aces
Later I faced
Popper ecstasy speed
And amphetamines
Ketamine
And psilocybin

Then I took Opium
And Valium
At the asylum,
Then I grew up again
I took cocaine
For I thought this world was vain
And thus, took it with no refrain.

I had a few lines
Of heroin
While on Haldol
Natural or not Phenols
And Alkaloids
Amongst other -ids
-ols and -ins
Then I decided life was worth living


I was a bit bewildered
And discouraged,
I tried wild mushroom:
Happy bloom,
Not even charged.

Then I quit.

But also by then I had found a lover.
A young, fresh and beautiful flower
In my bed, as if we were together.

Release! Far better!
Joy and wonder! 24 hours!
Love, dreams of a dreamer!

And now I prosper
I’m a webmaster

And I’m clean!

Thanks,

How have you been?


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I am a 30 years old french poet and artist, interested in different myths, crafts and traditions.
This poem sums up my journey through drugs. Blessed be!

Belief in a Sky

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Contributor: Jude Conlee

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It is midnight exactly, and
you point to a patch
of nothing and say,
“Do you believe in the moon?”
and I nod,
very absently,
the word “vacancy” printed
upon my face;

I have trouble enough as it is
believing there’s a sky.


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Jude Conlee puts words together and finds certain things interesting, including human minds, the universe, and other irregular, unexplainable things. The combination of these facts often results in the creation of poems and fiction.

Decline

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Contributor: Richard Schnap

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I remember the days of terminated dreams,
Of alcoholic neighborhoods, of suicidal rivers,
When home was a bar serving bottles of amnesia,
Cans of oblivion, shots of forgetfulness,
While down by the shores sat bitter factories,
Confused wastelands, desperate scrap yards,
Haunted by a century of hoodwinked phantoms,
Mislead spirits, deluded ghosts.

Now it’s a realm of anonymous restaurants,
Faceless chain stores, identical cafes,
Where a new generation who’s forgotten the past
Consults their cell phones, examines their laptops,
And sometimes at night you can hear the voice
Of a forsaken forebear, an abandoned ancestor,
But if you listen closer to the mournful cry
It’s only the wind, it’s only the wind.


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Richard Schnap is a poet, songwriter and collagist living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His poems have most recently appeared locally, nationally and overseas in a variety of print and online publications.

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