Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Daniel Yaryan


An empty revolver’s smoke
Lay upon the ghost town of seasonal cheer
All the bullets are shot
No one left to kill…

Even with shopping carts in aisles
Ramming ankles of civilians
Seeking half-off calendars
When the spirit is going, going, gone…

Spellbound by slashed prices
Until the trance is broken
Money-shot galleries of frivolity
Leave whores wandering – stranded in empty rows

Shadows of the new west
Flee in modern stagecoach stature sleds
Across boxy plains
Streams of faded memories dance

Sounds rattle
From invisible fingers
On rickety keys
Upon the abandoned saloon piano of our consciousness

Monday, December 14, 2009

Alice Pero


Living forever is difficult
when you are a blond housewife wearing pearls
pushing a vacuum cleaner
The dust could blow up accidentally
and cloud your vision
Your perfume might wear off
even when imagined by the children watching you
on a thin screen 25 years from now

Living forever is difficult
when you are a cute kid
posing for a diaper ad
Although you are sure this has happened before
they are applying powder and paint
annoying your eyes with light
and attacking your ears with cooing noises
Being cute could affect your judgement

Living forever is difficult
when you are a beautiful actress
with a perfect figure
and exquisite white teeth
playing a model part
on a syndicated sit com
Although your glow will last in Technicolor
Your wisdom might be limited by shades of lipstick

Living forever is difficult
when you have an obsession with bodily slenderness
and you weigh your existence on bathroom scales
You'll prove yourself dead in your clothes closet
Measure your life with a tape measure
Breathlessness moving your pictures
into a certain set pattern preserved
only as long as the film

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Brenda Petrakos


The little boys giggle as they brush their teeth
the new fruit flavored tooth paste
tastes "like poop" the 8 year old declares!
his brother can't stop laughing
Their auntie tells them the tooth paste is "healthy"
then the two boys declare in unison "Healthy Poop!"
which sends
the two kids on a morning
tangent of giggles
a 10 year old boy and his 8 year old brother
find a blissful moment of laughter
"It's good luck - to giggle in the morning"
they tell their old auntie
She makes their eggs and giggles herself.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Ellaraine Lockie


All of them at Starbucks on Thanksgiving morning
Solo men whose women don't exist
Or are home cooking in concert with a country
of women and a hick town of men

Surrounding families speaking German and Japanese
who will later eat turkey and cranberries
at someone else's house
Secretly wondering why the ballyhoo
The British couple trying not to think too hard
about pilgrims and revolutions
A man wearing an embroidered kufi

Yet why not an international day of gratitude
A day away from differences, right here now
Push tables together, carve up a pumpkin cake
Dress the morning in coffees from other countries
and celebration of the one we're in
Hold hands in a blessing that bars
bloodshed, politics and religion
Cheerio, ohayo, salam, dankbar

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Heather Haley


(Copy either address and paste in your browser window to view videopoem.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Jeffry Jensen


As I slice sacrificial limes under
a barbecue tree, balls of tar ride
angry waves onto the beach.

A dilapidated beard carries out its tribal
duties under a full moon with empty
hands running up the rearview mirror.

As I slam a stone into a garbled circle
three bumps from a bridge, Sunday
motorbikes surround a forest going deaf.

A disappearing chin counts the number of
clueless tree trunks splashing images in
the bottom of a turbulent conscience.

As I slide down the dark side of a dirty
morning scratching post with cat attached,
thunder puts the paranoid back in best-sellers.

A defeated spine goes Baroque on the back of
a beast that had scrubbed up real big in
the hands of a theologian on augmentation day.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Sharmagne Leland-St.John


Quietly she listened,
With a subtle Mona Lisa smile;
As he ever so softly whispered,
"I finally figured out your style."
"Oh what is it?" she ventured
Her voice now growing thin...
The lacy curtains barely stirred
And the smile became a Cheshire grin
In the passive Ticonderoga wind.
Then with the lightest of eagle feathers
You could have knocked her dead.
"You use a lot of adjectives,"
He matter-of-factly said,
As he lay there, Pasha-like
Upon her pillowed bed.
Is that good or bad she wondered,
Her soul and body bared,
As she anxiously and deeply pondered
The information that he shared.
And as she leaned back to listen to the raucous blue-jays sing
She was eminently aware of one extremely important thing –
Without a myriad of adjectives and verbs
She'd never reach the required one hundred and fifty words!
Then she provocatively turned towards him with gentle nips
And licked the words right off his tender, smiling lips

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Eric Lawson


1 blood-stained, sliced up clown costume

3 pairs of rainbow-striped socks

1 pair of neon-yellow parachute pants (“It’s Hammer time!”)

1 pair of knee-high “fuck me” boots

1 over-sized, multi-colored sweater. A Cosby sweater!

1 pair fingerless gloves I stole from a bum

2 shredded cop uniforms (don’t ask!)

1 zebra striped sleeping bag

4 pairs of boxers, complete with skid marks

6 pack of Heineken

2 napkins with smeared phone numbers from drunken girls I bought drinks for at some local bar last night

1 blood-stained bed sheet. Gotta wrap that dead clown in something, right?

1 pair of matching tee shirts with the giant, bold letters FBF (Fuck Buddies Forever) written in glitter across the chest

1 Gin and pasta stained Twister mat

17 blood-stained rags (dying clowns just keep on bleeding!)

Your mom (MILF!)

1 formerly felony-free record


It is a clear, crisp autumn night
The curtains are tightly closed
The living room lights are turned low
My favorite late-night TV show
Makes me laugh and smile
I am alert and resting comfortably
In my favorite recliner
A fan oscillates a welcomed breeze
I lift an ice-cold Heineken from the
Coffee table to my mouth
The soothing brew eases my mind
And my thoughts drift idly
My girlfriend, ever the trooper,
Hands me a slice of pumpkin
Pie with a side of ice cream
She gives me a gentle kiss before
Settling into her book
I take another drink and ask myself
Why there aren’t greeting
Cards that cover occasions
Such as this
My girlfriend mumbles something
Rhetorical about a weekend
Getaway with friends
The wind picks up and dies down
My mind wanders randomly
I recall childhood adventures and
Silently wished that I owned
Some mementos as keepsakes
I vow to create my own greeting
Card to commemorate this
Perfect moment, here, tonight
A log turns in the fireplace and
Crackles as the glow intensifies
And just when I thought it couldn’t
Get any better, my girlfriend
Drops to her knees in front of
Me, unzips my fly, and smiles
From ear to adorable ear


In retrospect,
Mixing crack-cocaine
Into the dancing bears’
Pre-show meal
Was not wise


From wise

It was a
Poor business decision,
Morally bankrupt,
Mentally uNsOuNd

The silver lining
Is that the

a - c - r - o

b - a - t - s

Have somehow learned
To do their
Death-defying routine

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Lauren L. Kimmel


I am glad that I didn’t have to see
what she saw. Last night. The way

you love yourself, child, you’ve no need
for enemies. Lord knows the boy hurt you.

Must you finish the job? Mamas don’t
let your babies grow up. All they do

is find clever ways to cut the cord,
and send blood spattering like a silent

movie firehose, out of control. Unstoppable.
And hilarious.

Isn’t it hilarious? I could scream it, I
could clench my eyes shut and swallow

the rubbery pink ball of pain and anger and
sadness and more. I could scream red

spittle on the surface of your smooth round face
and I’d have better luck spitting at the moon.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Jeffry Jensen


The girls stick to a bald guy like Elmer’s glue.
Burgers buried in grease sizzle on a side street.
20 arms stretched out behind a plastic curtain
donate blood for some sex money.
While a laid-off bus driver downs his first drink,
the bald guy leans on a sticky handrail and fingers
pesos like they are being devalued on the spot.
The girls bust out laughing as they each
grab for the arm of a pressed white sailor
who has testosterone calling the shots.
Slices of yellow cheese bubble over the
horizon as the laid-off driver stumbles into
one last strip club for the night.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Brandon Cesmat


Of old the world on dreaming fed;
gray truth is now her painted toy.
--W.B. Yeats

After Ted Turner laid-off my little brother who
color-keyed black & white films,
I consoled him by buying the beers while
silently and with ecstatic guilt I rejoiced for the classics,
flashes in the dark for new generations.

As soon as my brother stopped lamenting, I planned to preach that
Turner’s dream of Charles Foster Kane in Christmas red & green
cost a fortune in imagination, more than any tycoon could truly afford.

The psychological fact that most dreams play in black & white with
no source of light haunts my brother: the gray
sparkles off steel and glass and all those shadows.

He, however, tied a rainbow around my eyes,
insisting Bedford Falls is more wonderful with
Mary and George Bailey jitterbugging into a pool of blue
and Zuzu's petals, pink in extreme close-up.
These colors awoke me not to Pottersville’s squalor but
to Pleasantville’s nightmare of technological firepower and
the smug pigmented engineering of contemporary enlightenment,
present-tense delusion being more dangerous than any nostalgia.

“Black is not the only evil color,” my brother said with a wink.
In The Maltese Falcon, I made Brigid O’Shaughnessy’s eyes
the same green as yours for all those pranks you pulled on me.”

I didn’t speak but poured us more amber glasses to see through:
on the bar TV, a general’s khakis had the same tint as my $20 bill.
I closed my evil green eyes while listening to more horrifying tales of
the Frankenstein creature tortured with real orange flame
and taking Dorothy home forever to a Kansas
with fields of emerald in spring but still
no escape for Toto when he finally faces Mrs. Gulch and the Sheriff.
Let’s assume the little dog’s blood is red.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Michelle Angelini


The stars are so close over your head you could reach up to them and stir them around.
--paraphrase of a Clark Gable quote from It Happened One Night

Hands don’t reach quite as far
as imagination leaping
into an unclouded night sky
blooming with constellations

I dream of a place
an island where
crystalline waters
reveal secrets
I never believed
had veracity to exist
and white sand beaches
meet star-crowded skies
so that my hands can reach up
to this galactic playground

I can
shake hands with Orion
pet the ruff of the Cat’s Eye
unchain Andromeda
make a request of Cassiopeia
ride Pegasus to Crux the Southern Cross
to say a prayer for renewed prosperity

Each star sends me on my way
diminutive bits of star shine
cling to each hand
and illuminate a heart where darkness
sometimes crowds radiance
They let me discern at the end
of shadowy tunnels
stars watch from a sky
where someone greater
created them

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Radomir Luza


cinema is not film
cinema has no actors braying like rabbits for background work

all those performers looking for vouchers and membership in the
screen actors guild so many mouths at the trough

the tender red blanket of black daisies suicidal steps and cold knuckles

the cinema i know is more
cinema you haughty toidy toy you live in the transparent galaxy
film noir paintings bridget bardot sliced wrists and at times a great contradiction

heroine reversed the sky and hand grenaded wedding rings and picasso paintings

please saint film do not come to me with dying agitators using to use to
get a point across or a movement or a silly silly catholic kaballah vegetable soup

or actors studio or est or no money down or even scientology buying time on screen
to hype everything but film

saliva on sale

and engagements rings cut like steak on a gurney below hell

cinema lets the autumn leaves take care of themselves
film turns them into wet pillows with no halos

film turns thanksgiving day piles into nasty memories of studios and electric shock of garland taylor and monroe and how they slowly faded into 20 foot faces and one inch hearts into the morning rain

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Enrique Souffle


It was shot in black and white,
but it would have looked the same in color –
the gray, fleabag motel
chosen by the young film maker
for his desperate robber.
A night on the lam before skipping town.

He had a suitcase of money,
a gun, dark sunglasses,
was trying to break out,
and you could clearly see across the street –
the Triumph motorcycle shop
basking in the California sun.

On Washington Boulevard
I found that bike shop
and looked across the slick black street –
empty lot,
motel gone,
the mud in living color.
I had a suitcase of ticket stubs,
the Ray-Bans, was trying to break in.

Damn! Where was I going to sleep?
Joanne Merriam


If God did anything,
He invented comedy, so
you could take her hand, maybe make love,
maybe make smaller versions of yourselves,
watch the breeze flip the hem of her dress
and then she goes off with a man with a mustache.
You're on your fire escape in an undershirt crying
and it's the end of the world, I know.

If God did anything,
He threw away the plans.
We had to figure it out for ourselves:
plants using their bright stamens as tuning forks,
mammals using their thighs as spark plugs.
You can't help but imitate Him,
but whatever you throw away of yourself
you're still left with yourself,
everywhere, stumbling beauty, interconnected.

If God did anything,
He went away.
You take a walk by the old river,
ignore the whores and pawn shops
in favor of the soft fog making the bridge's arches
look like a world war two postcard of Europe.
You're just tired. You pretend you're in a movie,
an old movie, tipping your hat in the rain.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Jeffry Jensen


If it is the Paris Henry remembers, it
is not the one that June claims to inhabit.
He followed all the skinny legs across the
melting snow until he had rope burns at the knee.
Henry recuperated in a trapdoor apartment with
a photograph on the bed of June as
a burglar with her legs living in a penthouse.
It was the Paris Henry could not know in
his corrosive days inflicting bruises on a typewriter.
Mani Suri


Stay the projector,
Freeze that frame,
Let shine that single still,
The solitary, celluloid cell,
Stained with the colors of life,
On the argentum screen:
A landscape,
A portrait,
A still life.

Stop the flow of life,
See life's image still
The bee in mid-buzz,
The hover now a vision
Of suspension
In mid-air,
The fluttering petals
Of its intended blossom
Suddenly quiet,
Expectant, the brimming nectar
Stopped in mid-brim.

Hold a glass to this moment,
Not so singular
And yet particular;
Examine the squint in her eyes,
Know the sun, too bright,
Hides her lover's approach,
His intentions cloaked in the curl of his smile.
Note the shadows of her cheeks and chin and nose,
Their interplay with the dappling light.
They would not be, were it not for their shadows.

The director saw this frame
But only vaguely
In the kinema of his mind,
Shrouded in veils of imagination,
Unsure of the author's intentions
For this scene.
Now, it was a real image,
Yet an imitation
Of reality:
The reality of a moment
In a fictional saga.
Sharmagne Leland-St.John


Every song I ever wrote for my father
had the word twilight in it.
And I wept with every word
every phrase
every conjugation
of every single verb.

Every song I ever wrote for my father
had the word twilight in it.
And I wept as each and every memory
swept over me.

of a father at twilight
that first year I came to live with him.
During those hot
thirsty Tarzana summers.
Memories of him teaching me
to always plant three seeds
at a time, into each and every hole
we had dug, scratched out, and weeded
row upon row
with his own father's hoe.
He said it gave each plant
two extra chances to grow.

I was his tomboy
his youngest child.
The son my mother couldn't
or wouldn't give him.
Running wild
living high up
in the fruit laden branches
of a sprawling old fig tree
in our back garden.
Shaded from the sun
and prying eyes
by giant leaves.
Spending entire days there
reading and dreaming
until he called me down
at twilight
to set the table for supper
in a home devoid of
a mother's love
a home devoid of
the feminine touch
but full to bursting
with the two children
she had loved so very much.

Every song I ever wrote for my father
had the word twilight in it.
I remember him during those lazy summer days
teaching me how to swim
in the fast, icy, clear waters of the Kern River
and at twilight, catching fireflies
in a dusty mason jar with a rusty screw top lid,
looking for arrowheads along the banks
and showing me, where the water moccasins hid.

I remember a father
who could not live with the woman
he had once loved to touch.
The woman who gave him
his two black-eyed daughters
but not the son he craved so much.
I remember all the tears she wept
the secrets she kept hidden
deep inside her Lakota heart.

I remember how all the men I loved
in my early years
were the same age he was
when I first came to live with him,
on that cold, slate-grey, February day
in nineteen-hundred and fifty-eight.

Every song I ever wrote for my father
had the word twilight in it.
And I remember him taking us to the drive-in
in his ancient, battered, blue Ford pick up truck.
A mattress and soft pillows
thrown in the back
for all us kids,
friends, and cousins
to cuddle up
under the warmth of
an antique patchwork quilt.
I remember Jujubees and Dr. Pepper
Popcorn, Milk Duds, and Cracker Jacks.
At twilight
giggling and waiting
for some scary movie to begin.

I remember him in the August twilight
when the chickens had flown
up into the cottonwoods to roost
pushing me on the sturdy rope swing
way out over the swirling, singing river
as he called me his "little black-eyed papoose"
or sitting quietly on the banks next to him
in the twilight, leaning against his strong, brown back
and together watching the hatch, and the rainbow trout
leaping out of the fast, icy, clear water to catch
a mayfly on the wing.

I remember him smiling and laughing
in the twilight, in his sweet and gentle way.
He died at the turn of the last century,
in the year two thousand
in an emergency room on New Year's Day and
in the twilight of my life
I remember all the things he was to me
with each passing
fading, fleeting

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Michelle Angelini


An angel and a human fly
His wings hide
She has no visible feathers
and soars on a trapeze

While human beings
wish for heaven's immortality
it's not so much
the other way around
Love knocks down barriers
as the desire to experience it
makes even the discomfort
of being human again
a minor ache
against the heart's hunger

It's a terrible beauty
for immortals with no afflictions
It's an intricate decision
to leave perfection
and cross back to a physical plane
It's a journey of more than miles
which divides this distance
between death and life

The desire to love
to be loved is strong
—stronger than the wildest
natural occurrences—
because if adoration leads
a heart from death back to living
than those who love and
become separated by demise
can still be connected through such power

Monday, January 26, 2009

Jeffry Jensen


Dennis could not live with Anne in
Mexico for more than a month without
going bonkers to the enth degree.
It was not that he didn’t love her to
death as he had all the other women who
had come down the pike, but Anne had
a way of getting under his skin like
no other sexy woman could.
She had made herself more than famous with
her caustic tongue and disdainful thighs.
On one fine Friday, Dennis came up for
air at daybreak like a drowning dog and
hightailed it back across the border
before Anne could turn over in
bed and go hunting for Dennis’s heart.
Laura K. Deal


Rarely, yearly, by some magic
she would open the oven
beyond its usual limit
laying the door down flat
against the cupboards below.

Seated on her swivel stool,
hands encased in yellow
Playtex gloves, armed
with brush and Easy Off
she painted.
Not portraits, or landscapes
but long steady rows
of caustic paste that
abraded my nose unlike
any other smell ever
to dwell in the oven.

Her patience, uncomplaining,
astonishes me now,
though then it was only
one of the odd rituals
of adulthood, another reason
not to grow up.

After an hour,
the smell permeating the house,
the baked-on black
of daily dinner splatters
turned to goo, to be
dragged away on a paper
towel, brown sludge on white,
on yellow gloves
on my memory.

Inside the oven,
clean speckled gray walls,
smooth tracks for shelves,
all evidence of past
unpleasantness wiped clean.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Aaron Blair


It's the lack of reason
that keeps us awake at night,
glued to the blankets with nervous sweat,
a gleaming in the dark.
And still, it all means nothing:
a universe full of stars we'll never touch.

An ocean away, a butterfly spreads its wings,
a bullet lodges in the flesh of a citizen of another world,
one so distant it wouldn't matter,
if it didn't somehow have the same name.

Always, the explanation eludes us.
It either doesn't exist, or
it only speaks in words we haven't heard.
We haven't listened.

When we wake up,
we're still the same people we ever were,
doomed to the mobius strip approach to mistakes,
our tails firmly clasped between our teeth.
And we will never sleep peacefully.
When we die,
you'll have to weigh down our eyelids to keep them shut.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sharmagne Leland-St.John


No firefly summers for my child
No mountain air clean and mild
Barrio born and bred
Unlike her milk fed
Country cousins
She's paid dearly
For our earthly
No skinny dips
In crystal clear,
Glacier chilled,
Spring filled
Swirling creeks
No rosy cheeks
No weekends by the sea
Ollie, Ollie, Oxen free
Never passed my child's lips
No daisy-chains or sweetgrass whips
Blind man's bluff, hide and seek
Were games she never played
For this round eyed, streetwise waif
I nightly knelt and prayed
Oh, Jungle Gods you have my soul to take
Just keep her safe
In every way
For one more god damned blessed day
No summers in a cabin on Moon Lake
For my latchkey child
No cool ocean breezes sweet and wild
Life in South Central was cruel and tough
And violence never seemed enough
This quiet witness, silent mourner
Faced a thousand deaths each day on every corner
One can't ignore the crackheads, pimps, and whores
That lined the streets in droves and scores
No matter how she tried
She could not overcome my fears
She watched while winos died
Drowning out their tears
In their own vomit and filth in the churling gutters
She has seen the squealer as he stutters
Out his litany
And the skinhead dealers dealing tragedy
The gangs that travel wolf like in their packs
The hollow eyed junkies
With the monkeys
On their bleeding backs
With morbid curiosity
She views this horrid scenery
Uzi's, AK 47s
Bloody glinting blades
No idyllic glens
Or faery glades
This my child your legacy
Este mi niƱa su herencia
Mea Culpa
Me hija
Mea Culpa

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Mary Torregrossa


Selling candy outside
the Washington Mutual
is not working out,
the boy tells me, hunched
in layers of clothes like
he's waiting for the school
bus on a cold morning,
shoulders like a wire
coat hanger, face tanned
by the winter sun.

He lies about the soccer team
to customers lined up at the ATM
who clutch their money
in the holiday rush home
to bunuelos and tamales.
He plies Raisinets in a box - two bucks.

Candy labels look like crayons
stacked inside the cardboard carton.
I take whatever he hands me.
I give him three bills - two ones and a five.

See if you can't use it for bus fare, I say.

He bends and slips the five into his sneaker.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Katherine Norland

(from a druid creative card)

They tied me to a pile, petrified, my chest is heaving;
Told me I'm a sacrifice for a dragon, fire-breathing.
I would be bar-b-qued, no chance for survival;
Counting down the seconds to Air Dragon's arrival.

The villagers chanted, cut themselves and danced;
The king came off this throne, the harem pranced.
I, a stranger to this city, somehow felt to blame;
Unanimously decided I was the reason for no rain.

I was on a hill above the crowd, more or less a mound;
Can't differentiate between the drum or my heart's pound.
Then I saw him from a far, the Dragon of the Air;
Cried out to God and wailed in my despair.

He, a stately creature, swooped down and with one breath
Of fire from his nostrils sent all the villagers to death.
Then turned and looked at me, like I was set apart ration;
Smoke left his nose and his eyes full of compassion;

He carefully used his sharp tail to break me free;
Then on his back carried me softly to my destiny.
Oh Dragon of the Air, composed of fire and zeal;
I don't even know today if that experience was real.