Monday, July 10, 2017

Poetry By John Grey

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Stillwater Review and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Columbia College Literary Review and Spoon River Poetry Review.  


IN EARLIER TIMES

I found that romance
required a rich and vigorous vein
of artistry, virtuosity,
that peaked right at the moment
when true love came along
and killed it.

It was a magnificence
that I didn't see for what it was...
sunset.

Now, in my memory,
I have a superb set of women
who could have been the one
but weren't.

Looking back,
I see in chat-up, braggadocio, gesture,
and some showboat dance steps,
the same telling gestures
embedded in the long history
of novels, painting, music in fact every art form -
including the circus -
tricks, gags, routines,
yes, especially the circus.

And now. the circus has left town.
Of course, the cleanup afterwards is amazing. 



CHECK-UPS

I take a deep breath,
count to three,
then blow into the tube
until my face threatens to burst.
Lungs empty out
and the needle on the gauge
nudges its way hesitatingly toward
a passing grade.

Then, thanks to an octopus
with suction cup feet
and a meter for a brain.
my heart receives a glowing report.
As does my blood pressure
once that thin red python
is done squeezing my upper arm.

My blood has no dirty secrets to reveal.
My urine speaks well of me.
This grand tour of my body
stamps my passport for another year.

When I was younger.
there was no such thing
as an annual physical.
Life was stages,
not years.
And. barring a shot or two.
my body was its own doctor.

Now, once every twelve months,
I'm told that I'm good for my age.
That's like telling the dead
they're as dead as can be expected. 



WHAT TO DO

Maybe go over to the other side.
They do have a swimming pool after all
and today could be as hot as a spa in Hades.

Or maybe get into klezmer.
Nothing like a cimbalom
to get the toes a-tapping.

I could join the Rosicrucians.
Do they still exist?
Or chain myself to the White House gates.
But first I need to figure
what I'm really upset about.

I could always build a doll-house
though I'm useless with my hands.
But that's the point isn't it.
There's nothing as enjoyable
as what I'm hopeless at.

I might go have a tinkle.
But that's nothing new.
Win, lose or draw,
I'd be doing that anyhow.

Perhaps I could find myself a platinum blonde
with eyes mountain-lake blue.
And we could go swimming together
except the pool is on the other side.
And I can't do two things at once.

Today could top ninety
so the weather channel tells me.
Doing nothing should see some action. 




REMAINS TO BE SEEN

A photograph of an oven
filled with charred remains -
you've stopped to see -
now how do you extract yourself?

Bodies black
like spilled oil hardened
to be packed in tiny coffins
and buried unknown.

No identities,
just waste collected -
you can only look away
but you cannot keep it confidential. 



AS RELATIONSHIPS GO

You told me to watch out
because there were times you were out and out poisonous.
But I nibbled. I even ate.

And the longer we were together,
the more you declared that we were on
the point of collapsing.
I was happy enough to patch the walls, apply duct tape.

You were no great advocate of the future,
scoffed at marriage, often said that
no children in their right mind would want you as a mother.

To you, people were like a swarm of ants
attacking the one dead grasshopper.
You thought it crazy that one ant would take the time
to write a poem about what another ant is like.



INACTION

Goggles in our eyes, bandanas strapped to mouths -
welcome to the desert.
Better a convoy stuck in sand though
than an air-lifted body bag

This is rehearsal, so they tell us.
That's why we're on this long road
and Blackhawks are flying so perilously low
I can almost reach out and touch the undercarriage.

Today's takedown is a triangle defense system.
An old basketball strategy from what I remember
though the scattered snarling spectators make it plain
that this is not our home court.

Win this game, so the generals tell us,
and it will be our salvation.
But war doesn't even play by its own rules.
I live with that like a parental reminder.

Our Humvee is stuck in the sand
about a hundred miles inside the Iraq border.
We have yet to fire a shot as we await rescue
and our next round of plodding orders.

Ticks nibble on our flesh.
Cows crisscross the road.
We're instructed to be as patient as monks.
Maybe we can inscribe the Bible

on the head of a pin while we're at it.
We're like actors, hungry for applause,
except we don't as yet have a play.
Then, when it does appear, our excitement

is tempered by the fact that
many of our characters die long before the third act.
Meanwhile, our job is to believe it's real
while we wait until it is.

Poems By David Spicer

David Spicer has had poems in Chiron Review, Poppy Road Review, Mocking Heart Review, Alcatraz, Gargoyle, Midnight Lane Boutique, American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. The author of Everybody Has a Story and four chapbooks, he’s the former editor of raccoon, Outlaw, and Ion Books. He is scheduled to have a chapbook, Limbs From a Pear Tree (Flutter Press), released in the Fall of 2017.


BIG BANG DEPARTMENT

Sonofabitch! That idiot dwarf
just called Christ a bully,
a psychopath, a monster!
I watched skinny Lala smash
Mick with a bottle bigger
than a baby, knock him
on the floor, unzip and slip
off his blue jeans, and throw
him naked out of The Lucky Ape.
We’ll put a dress on ya next time,
scumbag, so I’m warnin’ ya,
run like a mad squirrel
and don’t come back.
Mick shrugged, flashed two
middle fingers at Lala
and the rest of us staggered away,
drenched with cheap beer
from a deaf mute drunk wearing
a blue lily in his lapel. Lala,
a born-again, pimpled ballerina
wearing paper wings, plopped
back down, her long neck a wolf’s
desire, a magnet for bad boys.
Brushing them off, she sighed
like a teacher needing a shower.
The owner called her a demented
magnolia, but Lala said, Who gives
a fuck? At least I’m not a runt
drowning in booze and a loser
in the big bang department!


TATIANA AND THE DOPPELGĂ„NGER HOTEL

The Russian gypsy collected porcelain
ashtrays and counterfeit matchbooks.
I’m Tatiana, she proclaimed without
an accent, welcoming me into her
honeycomb of a home. Fifty to sixty,
she held out her slender handshake
adorned with rings. Where’s your husband?
I asked. In prison waiting for a reprieve.
Rum and coke? she asked. No thanks.
I’m just looking for the antidote to death,
and someone told me you possess it.
Hah! she said. You may as well celebrate
life, for death is a myth. That’s my antidote.
Forgive yourself and blame nobody.
I glimpsed around the small room:
tchotchkes and pictures on the bookshelves.
My boy. He’s a cadet at West Point,
studying for radar engineer. What do you
do? she asked. I’m a carpenter, I said.
Oh, same job as Jesus. Don’t worry
about death, son, wash your soul
every day, recognize and reflect upon your
sins. Then one night you’ll find love
at the Doppelgänger Hotel, where
you’ll meet your other you. Now, please
go, I have another client, and leave
your three Jacksons on the kitchen table.


ON MY BRAND NEW SHACK’S RICKETY PORCH

I’ve craved bad girl Rhonda
much of my life, lingered
outside prison gates, longing
for the golden-haired felon
in a Panama hat who bragged
the Girl Scouts expelled her
for stealing a rhinestone uniform.
An usherette for the Malco,
she called men Sugar Pie
with a movie star smile and loved
the spotlight by belting out The Battle
Hymn and playing bluegrass
violin in the sunset symphony.
Rhonda raced a rusty black Studebaker
she carjacked—that impressed me—
from a speed demon and once wore
an organdy nightgown in a game
of beach volleyball with a fig in her
mouth. Oh, Rhonda, Tramp Duchess
refusing to loan me five bucks
for a protein bar and stranding
me in midnight mountains near
Tucson, come back, come back,
throw a malachite chess piece
this way as we lie on my brand
new shack’s rickety porch,
and I’ll undress past my
Ragged Andys, shed my virgin
skin: we’ll elbow each other
with kisses in tender, violent love
and then I’ll swig a shot of tequila
to toast you and your mother,t
he wild, cold moon.


RENT FREE FOR A YEAR

Archduke, our albino landlord,
invited us to indulge in apricots
and hash in his pavilion.
Cadillac, the cockatoo, tiptoed
on the dandelion floor of his cage,
blurted at Mimi, my wife,
Harridan, harridan, get yourself
a better gigolo. Then he farted,
Archduke ignoring him.
Bare-chested, the albino sported
henna tattoos of twin teardrops
down his gaunt cheek
and gryphons above each nipple.
He needs a nanny, Archduke said,
sliding down the pavilion banister.
I might put a bonnet on his plume.
Cadillac squawked, He’s horny
as a housewife, has blackbirds
in his butt. We laughed, Archduke
straddling a saddle on a sawhorse.
So how ’bout rent? Archduke asked.
Bang a dong, screw a pincushion,
Cadillac interrupted. Can we haggle?
I asked. How ’bout we take Cadillac
off your hands? Not on your harridan’s
ass! the bird squealed. All right,
Archduke answered. Rent free for a year.




Poetry By Megan Denese Mealor

I can best describe my poetic style as an erratic, eclectic, electric patchwork quilt of romantic, experimental, and innovative imagery and language. My work has been published in Digital Americana, 4 and 20, Midnight Circus, The Rathalla Review, Skidrow Penthouse, Deep South, Black Heart Magazine, Belle Reve, Obsessed With Pipework, Hello Horror, Dark Moon Digest, The Belleville Park Pages, The Bitchin' Kitsch, Rat's Ass Review, Better Than Starbucks, The Front Porch Review, Sick Lit Magazine, and The Scarlet Leaf Review, as well as upcoming issues of The Dying Dahlia Review, Down in the Dirt, and Jersey Devil Press. Having suffered from bipolar disorder for most of my life, I hope to inspire and comfort others plagued by mental illness with my words.


Interstate, Idle

It cost the moon
and its coterie of stars
to resist your polish
your laurel wither
your celadon stirrings
ripening, undaunted
ripening, because

It took a highway
and its gridlock hysteria
to unleash your eclipse
your fragile granite
your aphotic strikes
darkening, unsparing
darkening, despite


Ode to Anonymous Annulment

nothing more to unearth
by the boroughs of Mexico City
Tolsa bronze, Rufio Tomayo, Reforma Avenue
the onslaught of star-strung shores
shipwrecked in the azure breeze

nothing more to retract
by the thirsty plains of Peru
Colca Canyon, triple-tiered waterfalls
the grape grappa’s stinging bite
pottery porn, Chicha in the shantytowns

no more to seek
with fuming fever
by the indigenous lace
of erogenous Paraguay

parted paths
along the Pocosol River
exacting Costa Rica’s coral kiss

those Ultimate Lights of Havana
rectifying all renunciation



Suicide Attack

I raised the dead once,
by the handhold of a coma,
beneath the ruin of our grave.

They came stumbling
with their graceless marrow
clamoring from cobwebs,
gasping for the breath
reserved for my last rose.  

They sobbed with transient twilight,
choking on severed shadows
from terminal sunsets
and blood-boiling moons.

They asked me, voiceless, waning,
how did I see the sky?

I answered:

in every battling, burning color,
in every flicker of foaming fire
beyond his storming seas.



Cave Art

the runes remembered
this cliff face charnel house
harboring celibate snakes
feral pirates eroded by waterfalls
a porous pottery tomb
enameled with windows and reflection
arsenical bronze atonement
work-weary malachite odes
paleolithic princes chiseled
and chiding in charcoal
red ochre epochs outlined
with torch marks and eventide
megafauna manganese
bellowings of bison bones
whittled wartimes and reindeer relics
embroidered clashes with the sea
hematite harlots inciting
horseback holocausts
the extinction of aweless echoes
within this null necropolis
within this elegiac eve



Now Lucid

What we took from each other
were not counterblows,
but inspiration and blue fire.
Diamonds line our memories
like sizzling constellations.
There will be no more of our
bareback alleyway love,
raw scars ripped open
on rippled shoulders,
mutiny in our mutuality.
We forge the illusions
of our idols, chant to gods
of earth, lust, lions, wars.
There are no more calamities
to weather our shivering nights,
no more bee stings to relish.
If we suffer at all,
we suffer in phantasms, chimeras,
paling next to statues.
If sedition ever spread
its incestuous seed
into the trenches
of our feral gardens,
our tatter would never
traverse the war.  
Our malice melts history,
boasts itself in buoyant headlines
forged of burning gold.  
We shallow our heartbeats
with gaudy show tunes
and campfire ghosts
from the embers
of childhood convolution.
We steady our heartbeats
with the whispers
of our grandmothers,
breathing endless farewells
through stubborn vintage phones.



Wednesday Night on the Ward

you listen to them
rave and riot and rehearse
long enough
you start to sprout wings
take flight
inside your own sedated hell
you begin to repine
all of the footholds
you chose to omit
not so very long ago
the distinctions
escorting you to the gallows
when you were smoother
and more wondrous
illusion still glazing your enamel eyes
in your cousin’s attic
channeling saffron and cedar
we opened fire
against the lemon-scoured walls
atop a quilt fussy with foxgloves
forever shed to should have never
the altitude of a scalawag star
when they snatch the lights
the nurses haunt the doors
imposed unspecifics
whitewashed in the bowels
of the disenchanted tower
where i first wounded my mother
where I whispered good-bye
too late once again
to my well-founded father
two disfigured decades later
too intemperate to contemplate
his silently roaring absence
until it struck me like a startled viper
inside a coward’s waking dream
leaving me with rotting ambition
a mummified marriage
strung out on the spinning night
a powerless undoing in my belly
unwinding me into the warring sea
ships collide inside my heart
I have been here before
in this defiled unmarked cell
in this perfectly-polished prison
wielding unspoken weapons
where they shuffle us
into conga lines, resuscitations, recitations
I will swim continents and car lengths and cataclysms away
we embrace the embroidery
of our grandest wild gardens
calendula spice, canterbury bells, pink-bellied anemone
the ones we water only
in the momentary moonlight
when the winter branches
are free of opulence
for once unencumbered
by nature’s every last
daredevil whim


A Distant Relation

dexter ain’t no butterfly
hacking open baby lizards
in the craggy kansas sun
taking ole tammy lynn
for hair-trigger spins in the
flowing molten cornfields
his granddaddy abandoned
to narcoleptic scarecrows
wallowing in wireworms
five or six cyclones ago



White Light

the river remembers nothing new

i regret
that i regret nothing
at all

the savages of your solace
the donnybrook you opined
sweep their bitter boiling smoke
up toward the fasting sky

lotus blossoms inherit no meadows

balladry wanes with faith
and what fathoms of remorse
haunt the bottom of your heart

no one grieves for harlots
turned to rust
nor weeps for wizards
bespelling dust

fortune-tellers of amour
we weave our astrometry
into stars seen only

from your tower