Archives for posts with tag: Poem

hunky-dory
Hunky Dory
by Harry Gallagher

I loved you from the very start,
from your first crackled groove
that hooked my thirteen year old,
want-away, inside-I’m-dying heart.

My fantastical androgyne,
you lit a fire under
a sleeping, fleeting,
heart skip a beating
would be Bewlay Brother.

To a world where cool dad
calls his boy Small z,
but you just knew he rhymed it
with bee and not bed.

And now your maker has turned out
to be merely human;
but you, my slice of perfection,
remain flawless to me.

With your tattering glam cover,
I sometimes catch your gaze,
like a poor forgotten lover
and we’ve both seen better days.

But my darling Hunky Dory,
you still speak to me.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Hunky Dorky was my first album and like many teenage boys (actually, it may just be me!) I grew to know the sleeve notes by heart. I love its code, where he reveals little bits and pieces of himself and his influences — I used to fantasize that only I fully understood it! Some of these details are referred to several times in the poem itself. More than 30 years later, it’s still there in my music room and is still my favorite album — what do they say about first loves?

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photo is the only one I can find of that period and also catches an 11 year-old me-quite horrifically trying to grow my hair like Mr. Bowie, turning out more like a wannabe Bay City Roller — sorry! I’m the one in the terrible brown cord thing.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Harry Gallagher has been published, in the UK and abroad, by The Interpreter’s House, Poets’ Republic, Rebel Poetry, Lucifer Press, Black Light Engine Room, Clear Poetry, and many others. He performs live regularly and is co-founder of The Stanza, a monthly North East poetry event.

Ken Pic
Crew Cut
by Kenneth Pobo

After the Beatles came in,
I was done for. Dad insisted that
I get a crew cut. While other boys
grew it long, mine was artificial
turf in a miniature golf course.

In junior high, I wore blobby clothes,
didn’t know what a jockstrap was.
Boys would flick my head,
mock the scalp, proof
that I was a shoe—what they called

unpopular kids. I retreated
deep into a cave called
Tommy James and the Shondells,
only came out when called, prayed
to God or Tommy, whoever was

more available, to save me from halls
and the locker room, that singular
place of torture. At last
dad gave in, said we were a sick
generation. My hair grew. It helped—

but too late. Still a shoe.
Almost 50 years ago—I’m back
to short hair, prefer it. Let people
say what they will—a shoe gathers
many miles. By now it’s comfy.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: The picture was taken after I grew my hair long, so this was a time after the crew cut.  I couldn’t find a pic of me with a crew cut, as I think my dad has those.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kenneth Pobo had two new books out in 2015: Bend of Quiet from Blue Light Press and Booking Rooms in the Kuiper Belt from Urban Farmhouse Press.

toasted marshmallows
Toasting Marshmallows
by Martin Willitts Jr

There is an art to toasting a marshmallow
over a sullen campfire, crackling with green twigs,
as the moon shifts over the coals.

First you need the perfect stick to stab into
the marshmallow. It has to be long enough
to hold over flame and sparks shooting in air.

You have to turn the stick as the marshmallow
spins in a tight axis. It will start sagging
this way and that. Don’t let it droop

or it will fall into the fire. You can’t eat that.
You let it brown. This hardens it
so it is less likely to fall. Don’t let it flame.

Holding to close or too long will do that.
Be careful touching it. It retains heat like a lover.
If you tug, it might cling to the stick and fingers.

I once shared a toasted marshmallow with a girlfriend,
like the part in Lady and the Tramp,
only it was gooey and our lips stuck.

IMAGE: “Toasted Marshmallows” by Elena Elisseeva. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: There is nothing to say about this poem: a boy, a girl, a marshmallow. I do not know how old I was, but I was a sly little guy.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Martin Willitts Jr is a retired Librarian. His poems have appeared in several of the Silver Birch series, as well Blue Fifth Review, Turtle Island Quarterly, Comstock Review, Kentucky Review, and others. He has eight full-length collections and over 20 chapbooks. His most recent collection is Before Anything, There Was Mystery (Flutter Press, 2014), and Irises, the Lightning Conductor For Van Gogh’s Illness (Aldrich Press, 2014), and Late All Night Sessions with Charlie “the Bird” Parker and the Members of Birdland, in Take-Three (A Kind Of a Hurricane Press, 2015).

Princess Thor1
Hammer of My Name
by Sarah Thursday

My given name, Sarah, in Hebrew means princess.
A concept to which I have never once related.
A captive, a slave, a servant, even a stable girl,
though I’ve never been any of these, are more relevant.
A warrior, a victor, a thief, even a queen holds more meaning.
I am not a delicate girl, set up on a pedestal
in pink taffeta and tiara, helpless to captors,
endlessly in need of rescuing, protecting,
saving from fierce dragons.
I don’t know that girl.
So I choose my own name, Sarah Thursday.
Beyond the obvious, it’s the feel in the mouth.
Say it. You can feel the soft grit on your tongue.
Feel the breath form around the back of your teeth.
No frills, no helpless girl in pink tiaras.
Thursday is the day of Thor, god of thunder,
voice booms across the sky, across black clouds.
Together, I am Princess Thor, the girl who saves herself.
Lets her words of poetry be tiny spears,
lets her voice be her weapon,
sounding heavy across black skies.

PHOTOGRAPH: Princess Thor, May 2014, Santa Barbara.

 NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Hammer of My Name” was written to the All About My Name prompt. I already had one based on my given last name, Tatro, but I often get asked about the name I use for poetry. I felt this was a great opportunity to explain its significance.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sarah Thursday calls Long Beach, California, her home, where she advocates for local poets and poetry events. She runs a Long-Beach-focused poetry website called CadenceCollective.net, co-hosts a monthly reading with one of her poetry heroes, G. Murray Thomas, and just started Sadie Girl Press as a way to help publish local and emerging poets. Her first full-length poetry collection, All the Tiny Anchors, is available now. Find and follow her on SarahThursday.com, Facebook, or Twitter.

photo cat eye specks 001
negative exposure
by Wanda Morrow Clevenger

class photo poses of
animal vegetable mineral
in brutal black & white in
bad eyewear designed by
20/20 visionaries;
picture day kept secret for
incognito wearing me
melted into blank backdrop
believing the flash will expose
the cat-eye specs and
not one speck more

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Suffering from low self-esteem to the degree of invisible, this poem best describes how I viewed myself right up until I drank my first beer at age twenty. The rest is, as they say, history.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Wanda Morrow Clevenger lives in Hettick, Illinois – population 200 give or take. She has published over 300 pieces of work in 114 print and electronic publications. Her debut book This Same Small Town in Each of Us (Edgar & Lenore’s Publishing House) released in October 2011. A full-length poetry manuscript is currently stalking unsuspecting presses.

edwardes_park
Childhood in West Preston and Surrounds
by James Fogarty

I grew in West Preston,
a little wedge of Preston proper,
Melbourne’s best worst suburb.
Some called it Western DePreston
(Self-deprecation, I guess),
but it was always a special place.
J E Moore Park, with cricket nets sporting broken links,
and forgotten, sometimes broken balls resting on top,
which we’d take home anyway.
Sometimes we’d go the extra few minutes to Crispe Park –
when there was a game, or someone beat us to the Moore Park nets –
damped Merri soil there, my grandpa would tell me,
muddy in footy season.
Before that, Edwardes Park,
its black locomotive our gigantic playground,
worth six-hundred-forty in 1968 but
beyond price in my youth.
Nearby, we’d cut from Henty Street to the Wright Street Park,
between two leaning wooden fences,
when suddenly, a giant, rotating swing would appear,
a now-fading clown painted on top.
Once, an old lady across the road took us to W K Larkins Reserve,
where she told us: “There, a man died once”
and we believed her!
(The red paint on the rock a testimony to this day).
Back around the corner, through the laneway and up the hill –
back at home –
my newborn brother couldn’t have his name,
because that old lady’s dog already had it.
Throughout the years, with a new name settled,
the closest, J S Grey Reserve, proved favourite –
a bent tree our as goal posts,
later cut down and never replaced.
Later, I’d observe more from the bus,
and sometimes the car, like
that strip of yellow-green grass down Cheddar Road,
leading to those dustbowl ovals at J C Donath Reserve, or
H P Zwar Park, flashing between NMIT classrooms, or
G E Robinson Park, complete with spinning egg for play.
Still, the one I remember most
I’ve never visited:
Coburg Cemetery, on Bell Street.
“People are dying to get in there,” my grandpa would say,
without fail,
every time we passed.
I miss that joke,
and those parks,
but I don’t want to die in one,
like that man at Larkins Reserve.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Edwardes Park” (Preston, Victoria, Australia).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James Fogarty is a teacher and writer from Melbourne, Australia. He was going to write a panegyric about his childhood suburb, in Melbourne’s north, but ended up writing about the parks he frequented and the memories associated with them.

ottawa
Through my window
by A. Garnett Weiss

A slash-of-red finch
on the cedar bowed by ice.
Drifting snow, thigh-high:
I’m mad to choose to live here
and breathe such cutthroat air.

So much white-on-white.
My street, a single lane ploughed
like a country road,
brings to mind cancelled schooldays
and skiing down avenues.

Weekends back then meant
heavy rubber boots, snowsuits,
walks to the café
hand-in-hand with my mother
for tea and patisseries.

Today, narrow paths
between steel and glass towers
create wind tunnels
I watch my neighbors rush through
to reach that place of their own.

I’m at home, here; but,
abandoned by youth and warmth,
I squint at the day.
The brutal wind, the raw light
assault me. I close the blind.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This piece was written after the temperature and winds combined to create a wind chill of minus 38 Celsius in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, where I live. (At minus 44 degrees, Celsius and Fahrenheit temperatures are the same, I believe.) On that day, my city gained the distinction of being the coldest capital on earth, beating out Mongolia’s Ulan Bator. headlineHere’s a link to a media report. Ottawa, a city of parks and avenues, prides itself on the way it embraces winter. From an outdoor festival that runs for three weeks into February to a 7.8-kilometre canal (= 90 Olympic-sized rinks) that is cleared for skating, there’s a lot invested in making people find good reasons to enjoy the snow and the cold. Snow clearing, though, is not where the city excels! I grew up in this climate, looked forward to sheltering from blizzards, to drinking hot sweet teas, and to wearing winter-warm coats, hats, and mitts. I built snowmen, tobogganed, skated, and skied. I never have felt as alienated by the winter landscape as I did on that arctic-like day. I chose the discipline of the tanka form for each stanza in this poem to capture my views “through my window.”

PHOTOGRAPH: Winter lovers were out skating on the Rideau Canal during a snow storm in Ottawa on Jan 29, 2015. (Tony Caldwell/Ottawa Sun/QMI Agency)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Poems by A. Garnett Weiss, writing either under her name or as JC Sulzenko, have been featured on local and national radio and television, online and in anthologies and chapbooks. Her centos won a number of recent awards. Various newspapers have carried her creative nonfiction. She has appeared often on behalf of the Ottawa International Writers Festival, which launched both her play and her book about Alzheimer’s disease, What My Grandma Means to Say. In 2012, she served as poet-mentor for The Gryphon Trio’s Listen UP! Ottawa music and poetry composition project.

middletown
EXTREMELY MIDDLETOWN
by Kenneth Pobo

Where all trails lead,
our motto, though
some trails lead to madness,
others to blossoming cherry trees

in Japan. I live on Barren Road
with my spouse who loves
crossword puzzles more than me.
I’m fine with that. I love
The Addams Family more than him.
Mama married Fester, that’s us.
In Middletown, this isn’t a problem
provided we mow our lawn.

No sidewalks. Cars go 50 mph
in a 35mph zone. Neighbors
wave to each other, about
the best we can do.
The mall died, kid-free apartments
and a super metroplex
with toney restaurants in its place.

Founded in 1686–when
people burned witches
but before the Age of Oil.

94% white. Quite straight.
We take out the trash, weed,
the trail like a comet
on an evening sky, fading,
brilliant for a moment.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Yes, there is a real Middletown.  I think Pennsylvania has three different ones.  This one is near Philadelphia.  The population is around 16,000.  I like living here.  Much of Middletown used to be farms.  When the farms became suburbs (as happened all over America) in the 50s and 60s, our house was built. Barren Road isn’t really “country” but it feels like it’s not just one house after another, all boxed in.  And the houses don’t look like cookie-cutter houses — we like that too.  We’re both very much into gardening and our land is big enough to have good gardening beds. Middletown is convenient.  I’m 13 minutes from work in Chester and Stan gets to work downtown in Philly by taking the train.  I don’t see us moving.

PHOTOGRAPHS: “Middletown, Pennsylvania” by Kenneth Pobo.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kenneth Pobo has a new book forthcoming from Blue Light Press called Bend Of Quiet. His work has appeared in Floating Bridge, Indiana Review, Mudfish, Nimrod, and elsewhere.

Micanopy Palms
COAST TO COAST BLUES
by Mary Bast

Sequoias drummed a riff
across the miles
through swaying chants
of cornfields, psalms of snow,

to sea, flat cool-
white sand, jazzed
waves, the syrinx song
of oystercatchers.

Edward Hopper days:
palm trees etched
on turquoise sky, a painting
lonelier than death.

To halt the salty
appetite of blue
I think of
risqué words,

of robin’s eggs
and Bessie Smith
no one to tell
your troubles to.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: For most of my adult life I swore I’d never live in Florida, picturing the hot sun, flat vistas, and sinkholes. California’s Sequoia National Forest was the rich and redolent landscape of my dreams. Then life happened, gradually taking me from the West Coast to the midwest and eventually to north central Florida. I’ve come to love the terrain and wildlife that inspired Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, but wrote this poem when I first arrived, still grieving the losses that brought me here.

IMAGE: “Micanopy Palms” (Micanopy, Florida), painting by Mary Bast.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Bast writes poetry, found poetry, and creative nonfiction. Her poetry chapbook Eeek Love and two found poetry collections – Unmuzzled, Unfettered and Toward the River – are available at Amazon.com. A Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest finalist, Mary’s work has been published in Bacopa Literary Review, Blue Monday Review, Connotation Press, right hand pointing, Shaking Like a Mountain, Six Minute Magazine, Slow Trains, The Found Poetry Review, The Writing Disorder, Pea River Journal, and Poetry WTF!? She’s also an Enneagram coach, author of seven nonfiction books, and painter of landscapes, waterscapes, and animal portraits.

cherry-auction2
Fresno’s Cherry Auction, 1979 and now
by Patrick Fontes

Windows rolled down smudge-marked greasy
little fingers writing inscriptions
backseat in Tata’s 62 Nova rattled
monster-like engine speaking in tongues
as a Valley Sierra sunrise awakened
floral-scented air danced meringue in my nose
fresh life across fields in all directions
moved to nature’s rhythm unlike us
closed eyes to wind hair blown massaged
dawn-kissed taste of dew in my open mouth
on rich Valley mud baptized by manure
brisk against my face I breathed deep savored
soul San Joaquin blessings erased boyhood sins
for a moment angelic free flying I spied
Tata’s hangover bloodshot eyes rearview mirror smiling
at me through cigarette clouds and matchstick sulfur
down Cherry Avenue at 630 am sunray sanctified

An avocado-faced old black man hawked
fresh honeydew golden-fleshed presents
yelling as we passed his stall juice dripped
from a rusted paring knife as he slurped
between words from a paint-worn tailgate
of a 1942 Dodge pickup
tender smiled white-haired overalls
crow’s-feet carved into flint face
his unkempt Saint Bernard rope-tied drooled
to a loose bumper held fast by twine
he whittled a crucifix when silent
paying close attention to Christ’s wounds
while his wife hummed Amazing Grace as I passed
wiping early morning sand from my eyes

Hmong refugees grew giant strawberries
as big as my dirty fists succulent
in bright-colored Christmas ethnic dress
gnome-like they seemed from another world
they came from maybe a secret garden
where fruit grew monstrous on fairy dust
stoic they stared at us unblinking
twenty-five cents later red magic
coated my tongue as foreign words flowed
down my cheeks dripping onto my shirt
stained and sticky I didn’t notice
I ran my forearm across my face
devouring five luscious berries more

Pocket full of sugar coated quarters
strolled aisles fine dust floating midair
“Wait for me Mijito!” Nana begged
searching each stall for treasured junk
washboard corduroy chubby pants rubbed
pantalone accordions accompanied
screeching Jalisco mariachi horns
chimichangas sizzled in greasy pans
mixed with an old amplifier’s cackle
from the Okie auctioneer shouting
rapid-fire English kind of words
with a Fresno County Southern twang

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I was a child my grandparents often took me to a country flea-market and auction right outside the city, still within the city limits. I think the auction really sums up Fresno, its people, the ag-based culture and economy and the various ethnicities that have come to live here. The auction is still there and has become an icon for Fresno.

IMAGE: “Old pick-up overlooking country road, hardened, stoic, like the area’s folk — near Highway 41 on the way to Yosemite, Fresno County” by Patrick Fontes.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patrick Fontes grew up in working class Chicano, Fresno, California. During the Mexican Revolution Patrick’s great-grandfather, Jesus Luna, a Yaqui, immigrated from Chihuahua to Central California. In 1920 Jesus built a Chihuahua-style adobe house in Fresno. Nearly one hundred years later it is still the center of Patrick’s cherished Mexican identity. Other influences include 1980s hardcore punk rock, Mexican folk Catholicism, and photography. Currently Patrick is a PhD candidate in history at Stanford University. His research involves Mexico-USA transnational history, Latin American religion, and the Criminalization of Chicano culture. Patrick’s poetry has appeared in The Más Tequila Review, the Acentos Review, The James Franco Review, as well the online poetry site La Bloga.