Monday, January 26, 2009

Jeffry Jensen

SOUTH OF NOIR, NORTH OF NUANCE

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

MOM'S CHORE

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

UNTITLED

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

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
Sins
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
Maxima

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Mary Torregrossa

UNTITLED

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

AIR DRAGON
(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.