So Still the Day

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Contributor: Deborah Guzzi

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I leave the eggplants on the vine this year, unpicked, forlorn. They hang bloated on blackened stalks, the ugliness dusted gratefully with snow.

ice melt
rattles down the drain pipe –
a sparrow sips

Parsley and mustard greens battle daily for life, peeking, bright green from the sleet-sheet covering their bed. Stalwart sage vies for vertical dominance, remaining the refuge of dirty white. Spring cannot come soon enough.

quarter-sized flakes
drift on a chill northern breeze –
chimney smoke


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Drifter

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Contributor: Richard Schnap

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In my back yard I saw over the weekend
A man sleeping beneath the hot sun
Shirtless and shoeless upon the green grass
Surrounded by the stumps of cut down trees

And I felt that he had also been cut down
Reduced to the realm of shelters and soup lines
Driven to find some secluded place
To forget for a time his wretched fate

By morning he’d vanished without a trace
Back to the shadows where lost souls dwell
As I wondered if he had been just a ghost
Wandering the earth with no place to haunt

But I have seen him in the world before
In a different shirt, different coat, different face,
But always the same longing look in his eyes
Wondering where his broken road will lead next


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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.

Mostly Basie with a Little Bach

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

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Whenever I see a new woman, I know
I should look at her hair and her eyes and her smile
before I decide if she's worth the small talk
and the dinner later
and whatever else she may require
before she becomes taffy,
pliant and smiling.
But that never works for me.
Whenever I see a new woman,
what matters to me is never
her hair or her eyes or her smile;

what matters to me is her saunter
as I stroll behind her.
If her moon comes over the mountain
and loops in languor, left to right,
and then loops back again,
primed for another revolution, then
I introduce myself immediately
no matter where we are,
in the stairwell or on the street
and that's when I see for the first time
her hair and her eyes and her smile
but they are never a distraction since
I'm lost in the music of her saunter.

Years ago, tall and loping Carol Ann
took a train to Chicago,
found a job and then one summer day
walked ahead of me on Michigan Avenue
while I surveyed her universe amid
the cabs screeching, horns beeping,
a driver's middle finger rising.
Suddenly she turned and said hello
and we shook hands and I saw her smile
dart like a minnow and then disappear
as she frowned and asked
why was I walking behind her.

I told her I was on my way to the noon Mass
at Holy Name Cathedral and she was welcome
to come along. The sermon wouldn't be much,
I said, but the coffee and bagels afterward
would be plentiful, enough to cover lunch.
And Jesus Christ Himself would be there.
She didn't believe me, not at all,
and she hasn't believed me since.

That was thirty years ago and now
her smile is still a minnow
darting here and there but now
it's more important than her saunter
which is still a symphony,
mostly Basie with a little Bach.

And I no longer traipse Michigan Avenue
as I did years ago looking for new moons
swirling in my universe. Instead,
I take my lunch in a little bag
on a long train from the suburbs
and I marvel at one fact:
It's been thirty years since I first heard
the music in her saunter
and Carol Ann and I are
still together, praise the Lord.
Who can believe it? Not I.
Carol Ann says she knew
the ending from the start.
Lord, Almighty. Fancy that.


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Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

Rheumatic Fever

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Contributor: Kevin O'Donnell

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While goldfish fight in bowls on wooden benches I sit
among the youth with my shoes off and a common
cold. Some days you feel your years doubled, should I be
heavier or lighter on the third floor? Gravity never seems

to lose interest, a loving mother amongst the concrete pillars
and the hum of air-conditioned light, easing now at the start
of winter. I had risen early like a farmer needing to milk his cows,
a mouth dry from breathing and came to study. A student shrugs

into their jacket amid polished laptops, the parents
now unused fonts. One student speaks into a phone
in a foreign language, soft modulating tones, as though
giving directions to a stranger’s house or how to back

a car in a narrow alley, the sunlight orange on
the highest building while the youngest daughter
sits thin and heavy, listening to her distant brother’s voice,
a saint Jude’s valve needed for an uneven heart.


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Kevin O'Donnell has been writing for a few years and completed a Masters In Creative writing at the IIML at Victoria University, New Zealand.

Eight Years Gone

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Contributor: Roy Blokker

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Eight years gone and I
Still try to hold on.
I gave you my words,
My precious gifts,
A warm water cascade,
A tumble in the shower,
And I don’t remember
What I said.
I wrote them down, no back-up,
One copy just for you.
Did you toss it away
On your wedding day?
Did you place it
Like a rose pedal
Between the pages of
Your favorite book?
Did it disappear when you did?
Did it live within your heart
Until the end
Or did you place it
In some ante-chamber
Of your mind under lock and key,
The key fed in small bites
To your husband
For security?
We lost touch centuries ago
And therefore I don’t know,
And I don’t remember
What I said
But I do remember when
And why.


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I was born in Holland in 1950. Now retired, I am concentrating on the art and craft of writing. I am the author of six books, including four volumes of poetry, as well as numerous articles, stories and poems published by magazines as diverse as "Black Heart," "Clever," and "Highlights for Children."

17 Haiku

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Contributor: "Wired Clues" Abe

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Damn, he did it again;
he hit the delete button,
and all his files were gone.

My laptop screen can't
keep out all of those damn bugs
trying to get through.

My computer purrs
with activity amok—
cicadas' voices.

The music I make
is a quiet tip-tapping.
I play the keyboard.

I need a new mouse.
Mine's by the same company
as my computer.

My programming stinks,
because I have spilled Java
all over the place.

They're cutting down trees
in order to make books @
Amazon-dot-com.

I'm being turned on
by somebody's warm fingers:
control-alt-delete.

You are not my type.
When I hit the print icon
I get an error.

He sat high upon
the chair before the counter,
as the rocket launched.

The radiant moon
is slowly going away
from the earth's orbit.

Plate techtonics crash
below; above one can see
snowy Mount Fuji.

Blue plums, purple grapes,
and red raspberries gleam on
the computer screen.

My smart phone still shows
the weather in Kaua'i,
and I understand.

While I move my mouse,
the cat rubs its fur head on
my laptop's top. STOP!

On the bed at last
after hours of working,
doing sudoku.

I drink from the stars.
The arc of the Big Dipper
curves above tree tops.


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"WIRED CLUES" ABE is a poet of Japanese haiku in a postShiki world. His kigo, or season word, is a word or phrase associated with the particular season Postmodernism. He is friends with Chinese leaning Li "Web Crease" Du and American webster Esca Webuilder.

Run-Off

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Contributor: Hillel Broder

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Tearing down the face of my building, dripping from fire
Escapes, catching on my window’s blinded eyes. Bickering cats
Hushed, muffled horns and sirens, all the sharp city’s
Sounds all stilled, while the murmur of the sky’s sighs drips onto

Brick, pavement, glass, into punctured puddles. My dim lamp hangs
Its head and weeps in the window, running-off forever into the roaring
Rivers beneath these streets, about this island.

Drizzled drips collecting in stilled
Browned pools on
Worn, bumpy yellow lips:

Gold stepping stones clutch loosely
The edge of this yawning abyss.

Later, the sky is still alight when street lamps flicker on
Spotlights stray cabs, headlights brighten and cross-walks
Darken on shadowy faces in the glow of cornered stones

And stores. Only the very tips of towers are still splashed with a
Coat of deep orange, catching a falling sky along a line that recedes
As rapidly as the dull navies swallow the purples and reds.


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Hillel is a doctoral candidate at the CUNY Graduate Center and a high school teacher in the Bronx.

Fast Food

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Contributor: J. K. Durick

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We make such easy targets of ourselves
Waddling away, with a big mac and fries
On our breath, evolving in our stomachs
Comforted, satisfied, our fast food slows
Us down, makes the best of our obesity
Our measured gait, our treasured weight
Enough for us to stop to smell the roses
But bend down just so far, to a whopper,
Double-whopper, junior whopper, all
All with cheese, digesting as they please;
Our fast food solves the day, the dilemma
The where, the when, how much, and why
Of our almost casual dining, part lifestyle
Part guilty pleasure, part choice, part reflex
Fast food becomes us, as we become what
We eat, super-sized, with special sauce
Hold the lettuce, hold the tomato, plenty
Of mayo, and all that on a sesame-seed bun.


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J. K. Durick is a writing teacher at the Community College of Vermont and an online writing tutor. His recent poems have appeared in Eskimo Pie, Pacific Poetry, Ink Sweat and Tears, and Muddy River Poetry Review.

Undocumented Zombies

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

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The nice thing about being dead
is you no longer care if the doctor
mucked up your diagnosis and the

pharmacist gave you the wrong pills.
You're cozy now in a comfy casket
six feet below all the carnage

in the world, without a worry, when
a mastodon tsunami rolls over your
peaceful cemetery and uproots

thousands of caskets, tossing them
high in the sky and forcing you
and all the other zombies to float.

You discover no port will take
undocumented zombies.
You have no papers, after all;

you can't prove who you were or are
so you and the other zombies float
for God knows how long since

God may not believe in zombies.
This is a rupture not a rapture.
And while you float, your lawyer

meets with your relatives who
no longer weep about your passing.
They smile as he reads your will.

They plan on taking a family cruise
with the proceeds from your estate.
They'll dine on lobster and steak,

lay waste continuous buffets while
you and the other zombies float
further out, unable to find a port

where citizens will bury the likes of you.
Property values will drop, they shout.
They can't drop their signs and let you in.


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Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

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