Saturday, July 3, 2010
Night Chant

House made of dawn.
House made of evening light.
House made of the dark cloud.
House made of male rain.
House made of dark mist.
House made of female rain.
House made of pollen.
House made of grasshoppers.

Dark cloud is at the door.
The trail out of it is dark cloud.
The zigzag lightning stands high upon it.
An offering I make.
Restore my feet for me.
Restore my legs for me.
Restore my body for me.
Restore my mind for me.
Restore my voice for me.
This very day take out your spell for me.

Happily I recover.
Happily my interior becomes cool.
Happily I go forth.
My interior feeling cool, may I walk.
No longer sore, may I walk.
Impervious to pain, may I walk.
With lively feelings may I walk.
As it used to be long ago, may I walk.

Happily may I walk.
Happily, with abundant dark clouds, may I walk.
Happily, with abundant showers, may I walk.
Happily, with abundant plants, may I walk.
Happily on a trail of pollen, may I walk.
Happily may I walk.
Being as it used to be long ago, may I walk.

May it be beautiful before me.
May it be beautiful behind me.
May it be beautiful below me.
May it be beautiful above me.
May it be beautiful all around me.
In beauty it is finished.
In beauty it is finished.

 Cherokee Peace

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

by Jack Norworth (1879-1959)

Katie Casey was base ball mad.
Had the fever and had it bad;
Just to root for the home town crew,
Ev'ry sou Katie blew.
On a Saturday, her young beau
Called to see if she'd like to go,
To see a show but Miss Kate said,
"No, I'll tell you what you can do."

"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."

Katie Casey saw all the games,
Knew the players by their first names;
Told the umpire he was wrong,
All along good and strong.
When the score was just two to two,
Katie Casey knew what to do,
Just to cheer up the boys she knew,
She made the gang sing this song:

"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."

Charley Plays a Tune

by Michael Lee Johnson

Crippled, in Chicago,
with arthritis
and Alzheimer's,
in a dark rented room,
Charley plays
melancholic melodies
on a dust-filled
harmonica he
found abandoned
on a playground of sand
years ago by a handful of children
playing on monkey bars.
He hears bedlam when he buys fish at the local market
and the skeleton bones of the fish show through.
He lies on his back, riddled with pain,
pine cones fill his pillows and mattress;
praying to Jesus and rubbing his rosary beads
Charley blows tunes out his
celestial instrument
notes float through the open window
touch the nose of summer clouds.
Charley overtakes himself with grief
and is ecstatically alone.
Charley plays a solo tune.


Approbations 456 (after Ravi Coltrane’s Away)

by Felino Soriano
Found off
                        flocks of focal designations, imaginational
            versions of myopic segregations, whole in circular conjoining, alive.

Views dissipate
those of
                        varied physical amalgamations
            to influenced synopsis
creating raw of multiple
collaborating amid bodies whose visceral
            ratify slants of equaling
unintended beauty.  

Batless Vermont

by Rebecca Anne Renner
They hang from the rock face, tiny-
boned as pine needles: in September
—then in March, the cave is shellacked with carcasses.

Hanging from the ceiling, little mummies--
the spores have filled the air,
their white noses in the hibernacum, a dust
choked infection, leaving Vermont
batless for the spring.

Back nests are highly dangerous, sub-humous
or in the ceiling, scampering like mice to leave
their fungal shells behind.

The El Dorado Motor Inn
has jacuzzis in its rooms;
and cash for gold
brings homeless in
to barter teeth and spoons.

But in the batless, Vermont-fresh caves,
I'm crying out to you.
We leave by light, the cave mouth too
"could never be too soon."

The relics in the alley way, fallen from the attic,
were built of gold and meant to stay but traded in a panic,
growing roots and bricks and feelers
echolocate to the past--

this is Vermont in Autumn time,
too soft and fast
to cost or catch or be caught or captured--
batless Vermont is suffering cold,
lucifugus enraptured. 

The Spirit of '76 by A. M. Willard

Nihilistic Reality

by Catfish McDaris

the united??? states of america
democrats & capitalism & republicans
aristocracy & oligarchy
at its finest
a melting pot
becoming a pressure cooker
niggers fighting honkies
gringos fighting spics
cowboys fighting indians
wood niggers, prairie niggers
wiggers & oreos all in the soup
the rich stirring the mixture
red necks shooting cans
africans, puerto ricans, mexicans
let's change the motto on mr. $$$
from in god we trust to
let me get mine & fuck everyone else
rich doing the poor with
pork barrel kickbacks
nafta,gatt,wall street,savings & loan
health care, insurance
bussing children a polluting experiment
homo versus hetero
right to life, it's my body
atheists versus believers
gay versus sad
with liberty & justice
for all, but
don't tread on me.

Guided Tour

by Steve Prusky

Near this part of lower Michigan, outside of Grayling, one un-cut stand of defiant, yet delicate, pedigree White Pine remains. We’re coming up on the park surrounding it now. Most of the virgin timber is between 300 and 375 years old. Some trees tower up to 160 feet tall. The Potawatomi Tribe, who originally inhabited this area before its value supplanted its beauty, called these trees the Whispering Pines after the high needles that lightly whistled music in the wind. Their reddish-brown furrowed bark distinguishes them from the younger gray-green smooth second growth thriving around them.

Dawn is the best time to drive the dew soaked interstate that penetrates this side chapel of virginity. A verdant mass of cloud high trees flank the black top then. The highway meanders, like a simplified maze equipped with signage assisting you past every deceptive “S” curve or tricky side road nowhere. Mid-morning sun hovers here on clear summer days, drying the asphalt dense black, kissing the high needle tips pure jade green.

Forty-nine virgin acres are all that stand today. The rest of Michigan’s wealth was destroyed by fire, storms, mankind. Of course, the tall pines you see now were planted by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), in the 1930’s on “cutover land” as one of President Roosevelt’s pump priming projects during the Great Depression. Only walking tours are allowed through the virgin stand. No smoking is allowed.

Some guess over 160 million White Pines were cut and milled in lower Michigan between 1834 and 1897. This harvest provided the material for the Transcontinental Railroad, commissioned by the Lincoln administration, across the Midwest between 1863 and 1869. Omaha, Des Moines, Kansas City, Topeka, Wichita are all indebted to Michigan for its contribution to their growth along that railed path. Michigan White Pine also rebuilt Chicago after Mrs. O’Leary’s cow tipped the lantern over in 1871 and burned the city to the ground. Tragically, the Great Michigan Fires of 1871 burned a large part of Michigan’s natural wealth beginning just south-east of here from Port Huron to Tawas City on the shores of Lake Huron. Had the fire not occurred, 60 million more trees would have fallen, or maybe been saved. This lost treasure is now nothing more than fuzzy tin-type pictures placed on museum walls.

Should you speed through here some day, focused on more common, less delicate destinations, with no notice this forest passed, by mistake you may spot the pines shrink smaller in your rear view mirror, ignoring your anxious impatience to pass the hay farmer ahead, his overloaded, careening flat bed truck slow walking you with no regard for your haste. Then, later, peek back as the pines verdant tips appear like corks capping timber message bottles bobbing about on an earthen ocean’s horizon, each tree proffering a centuries old invitation for you to slow down next time through, stop, gaze a bit, but don’t step out and touch.

Now we go to the Leelanau Peninsula where Lakes Michigan and Huron mate.

Place of the Wild Apricot Vine

by John Swain

Mountainside like the shoulder
of a warrior
whose wound was
draped in mosses and ferneries.
In an opening of stone
I looked for wild apricot vines
beside the place
where three streams met and fell
into an opal pool.
My horse lowered
his muscled neck to drink water,
I felt rejuvenation
astride this wild throne.
In the distance
blue summits carry
the names of all who passed here.


by Shannon Peil

I didn’t agree with why he went
or that he was going back
but I could appreciate his stories
what he had gone through
the look in his eye that acknowledged he’d seen war

at times I empathized with all of it
and the closeness of death
but others I wanted to scream at him
tell him if no one agreed to go, none of this would have happened
so what came first, the soldier or the war?
what came before that
the patriotism or the fear?

and his friends that died
was it their fault they went
or mine that I didn’t?

we never mention any of this
but I have a feeling he knows I’m not necessarily afraid of death
I’m just terrified of dying for the wrong reasons
and for the sake of friendship we talk of anything else we can think of.

Strain was originally published by The Panulaan Review

five year plan

by Steve Calamars

i'm thirty years
old today

ten years from now
kafka was dead

coughing up blood
like sudafed-red

tuberculosis depleted
his lung-tanks and filled
them full of death
like helium

but i don't have
the patience to
wait on tb or ms or
any other disease
or natural cause

i have to much
ambition for my
own good

while others are
busy engineering
careers and constructing
small fortunes

i am hard at work on my
own five year plan

assembling stories and
poems as fast as my brain
can manufacture them

hurling words like
hand-grenades that explode
across the page like
gooey black insect-sobs

and when i have spilled
enough ink and constructed
my own meager fortune from
the meaningless materials of
throw-away jobs and
minimum wage

i'll empty my accounts and
invest in smith-&-wesson

with no need for a 401k
i'll go with a 357

i'll demonstrate my savvy and
opt for hollow-point slugs to
guarantee my success

i'm not delusional enough
to believe i'll ever escape the
shadow of kafka's
giant menacing words

but i have taught myself
to see in the dark

and after i have exploited
what little talent i do have
and my five year plan has
run it's course like any
other fatal disease

i'll know i did something
that not even kafka
could bring himself
to achieve

as the bullet fires
from the barrel like
a baseball
into my skull
tough as a
catcher's mitt

Just a Penny

by Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt
You know that trouble what ironed me
last year? I went to that place you told me--
there’s this red carpet like I’m some kinda King
o’ somethin'. There’s some posh chair 
in the waitin' room, clay pot o' red flowers, 
silk, I think, smellin' up the space
with that fakeness. I see the man, that lawyer,
he says to me real serious like,
“How much justice can you afford?”

I can’t afford nothin'.
I got somethin' like a penny
slid under the railroad, all flattened
out by that train gone south, that nasty screech
runnin' the poor thing over, that little money
pitched off the track to the woods,
chippin' off the grass,
driven into dirt,
sinkin' rotten copper back to Earth.

That’s you ‘n me. 

Rome Burns

by Mike Meraz

Rome burns,
America burns,
I burn...

I think
if we all just
reserved ourselves
for that special calling
we were meant to do
that unique voice
that burns inside
every one of us
we would all be better off,
rather than prostituting ourselves
to every whim and person
who calls our name.

this poems for you.

Rome Burns was originally published by Chiron Review

Amicalola Falls, Georgia, by Dave Posluszny

Superman Wore an Armani Suit and Spoke with a Thick Sicilian Accent

by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

They used to come by in their expensive suits
and everyone looked up to them;
feared them,
respected them.
They gave us kids money
for no reason at all
and handed out turkeys at Thanksgiving time.
They helped old ladies across the street
and didn't take shit from nobody.
Even the cops stopped coming around
because they got their envelopes
at the end of every month.
We used to call them wise guys
but I don't know what they called
They took care of the neighbourhood
and no one complained.

One time, they came to collect
as I was buying candy
and they put the shopkeeper=s head through a plate glass window.
They also broke three ribs and cracked a few more
with a tire iron
in anger
because the shopkeeper had forced them to wrinkle
their suits.

When they were done,
they gave me money and a loaf of bread
and told me to go home.

These wise guys from the neighbourhood
were my superheroes
growing up.

They were not sold as action figures
and never appeared in comics
but they should have.

Starscream for Bumblebee

by Ray Succre

People moved about those nooks of residence with an excellent speed,
though most were rare to stop, to talk or trade or haunt the place.
Each new location to me was for new people soon out of sight,
led into nonexistence when I’d leave.

There was always the presence of boxes, packed, and a parent
looking over a map for the next place.
There was always the one way of leaving, no matter how you arrived.

My first childhood friend:
“Hey you, black kid,” I called across the parking lot.
“Fuck you,” he said.
“You have any Transformers?”
“Wanna trade?”
“Maybe. What do you have?”
About a dozen. In a toybox. My room of the month.
We went in with an excellent speed.
I knew him ten minutes and was cured of being racist.
He traded Starscream for Bumblebee.
It was just one place. One more kid. One month in a dozen,
over the barter of myth and plastic.

Sault Tribe

American Diner

by Len Kuntz

Beneath the skin
she is so many stars blinking and pulsing.
Shadows from her waitress cap
cast bold stripes across her cheek and chin,
glowing blue in the mirror.

Mornings she still smells of pan smoke and salty bacon.
Even after a bath or
bad dream
her fingers feel sticky
with syrup.

She kisses the boy at her mother’s,
his face so similar, the long jaw and dimpled grin
that twists something sharp inside her
when he salutes and says, “Happy Fourth.”

At the diner
the manager has left her rolls of red and blue streamers
which are gauzy like bandages.
She ties bows along the wainscoting, the juke box, a row of stools.
She recalls the day he left, him looking like another man in that uniform,
old yet not,
brave but scared.
Two hundred twenty-three days from yesterday.

The first couple through the door
shake off rain and tell her
the weather is a bitch.
The little girl orders pumpkin pie but
her Mom says it has to be apple,
pumpkin is Thanksgiving.
The girl beats the vinyl seat,
beats it like a war drum,
her little fists pounding to be noticed.

Maid Rite

by Jeffrey Miller

Just down the street from Adrian’s Skelley Station
the ancient diner, its weathered clapboard sides
a peeled and faded reminder of better days
is opened for lunch with regulars already in place.

Seated elbow to elbow around the scarred stained
Formica top counter, on wobbly stools that have
long since stopped swiveling, it’s the usual lunch chatter
about the weather, politics, and the economy.

Outside a line stretches halfway down the block.
It’s a simple menu Maid Rite sandwich—
finely ground beef cooked and piled on a bun,
served with mustard, pickles or chopped onions.
A bag of chips and a Coke on the side.

“I’ve been coming here for 30 years,” says one patron
to another. “Best darn sandwiches in McDonough County.”
The waitress behind the counter nods, takes another order.
What’s tradition and history got to do with it, she thinks,
when she’s making three dollars an hour plus tips?

It’s only a sandwich for crying out loud.


By Mather Schneider

It is impossible to know
who you are
a thousand different people
in a day
criminal to one
lover to another.
It is a hot desert day and you wear
a purple robe
like an ice sculpture that melts
at 111 degrees.
When you go to bed you are not the same person
you were when you woke
smiling from a dream
of snow caps and lichen.
Morality is not meaning.
The curtains billow like philosophical bullfighters
different each moment
even the cowboys on the pictures
on the hotel wall
age and change
and nothing will be


by Raphaelle O'Neil

My body is my country,
My dear beloved land.
Every inch is what I live for,
"Freedom!" my demand.
"Respect" my expectation
From each and every man.
With the power to strike or nurture
That lies in both my hands,
Yes the strength of my being
Is nothing short of grand.

Yet, some may see its bareness
As vulnerability,
And view it as a weakness
On which to lay cruelty.
But those who are so blinded
By hateful animosity,
Who wish to rape my sense of self
With primitive barbarity,
Will not destroy my sense of pride,
Nor dilute my humanity;

For the light they try so hard to fade
Burns safely, deep inside of me.


It Means Much More

by Pat St. Pierre

A banner often slighted
as it blows in the breeze
taken for granted
and pledged in the line of duty;
it isn’t just a symbol for
and a nation proud and strong,
it means much more to me.
It’s the loss of a brother,
a soldier to the end.
Letters from him
said he didn’t understand
but he fought for his country
in a foreign land;
others turned
and blamed the nation,
he struggled for freedom
and for peace.
The flag isn’t just a symbol
it means much more to me.

It Means Much More was originally published by Boston Literary

St. Louis Cathedral , Jackson Square, New Orleans by John Swain

hi mama

by Shannon Peil

Got himself a shiny new box
All wrapped up in red white ‘n blue
Here all pretty to see mama again
After he got blown apart four thousand miles away
In some desert shithole
He couldn’t even pronounce
Put back together again to see mama

hi mama was originally published by

Stepback Bombardier

By David S. Pointer

from a bulk oil box footlocker
comes the wash board blues fest
with rake hand hammer thrash
& thimble strikes to Chicago-
no Gladiator clarinet stomps here
at this hay knife style hoedown
but this guy's spilling lava delight
over our frosted orange sunsets

Stunning Sky by Pat St. Pierre

the 4th Reich

by Ross Vassilev

the whole world
is sending troops
to help the Americans
fight their dirty war
in Afghanistan
where fat American
soldiers kill pregnant
women, pull children
out of their beds
and execute them
the West European
cocksuckers are there
the East European
cocksuckers are there
when the American
military finally leaves
Afghanistan the same
way it left Vietnam--
with its tail
between its legs--
Glenn Beck and the
rest of the insane
idiot neo-Nazi
White Right are gonna
impose fascism
and all the cocksuckers
in Europe will be on
their knees
blowing the trumpets
for the empire.


The Ball Park Creed

by Russell Streur

I believe in Cobb
The batter almighty
Demon of furious grace.
I believe
     in Fenway Park
     extra innings
     & the Homestead Grays.
I believe
     in the high fly ball
     the called third strike
     the double off the wall
     the sacrifice bunt
     & the suicide squeeze.
I believe
     in Alibi Ike
     the vines of Wrigley
     the Mudville Nine
     & the fields of Elysia
          where the runner scores for keeps.
I believe
     in the hanging curve
     the peg to first
     the hit and run
     Bambino's Curse
     the swing and miss
     the stolen base
     the play at the plate
     & the diamond everlasting:
I don't care if I never get back. 


by Mather Schneider

and the day sticks to me
like dust on sweat.
I walk the trash and tumbleweed streets
of downtown Tucson
at 3 o'clock p.m.
July 4th.
The fireworks are prepared on the
and children practice looking up
though it hurts the eyes
the sky and sun so piercing
but never perfect
always waiting and leading
into the next sky
and the next sun.
I am a different person now that I was
when I woke up this morning
alone and half buried
in the wash
and I will be another man
when I get to where I am
walking to
through this heat like the tips
of matches under my tongue
and when the night finally falls
like a false mercy
I will find a place to sit
at the foot of the mountain
and no one will
know who I am
when the darkness