March 2019 (90 editions in total)
38th edition as a webzine, see below.
Poets listed in surname alphabetical order.
* * *
Dictate – Gary Beck
Vermin – Holly Day
Old Crocker – Michael Jennings
American Beauty – George Cassidy Payne
Low Rider – David Pike
Roughing It – Fabrice B Poussin
Foundry – John Timothy Robinson
Cottage Song – Roger Singer
Unskilled – Ian C. Smith
prefer to be told
rather than asked
to do this or that
at the behest of someone
with the needs of the people.
New York, USA
I think to the cockroaches that squish under my boots
as I walk home along the roaring breakers of ocean surf
on a thin strip of sidewalk crumbling slowly to sand. In the darker shadows
cat-sized rats scurry over concrete pilings, carrying greasy chip bags
hamburger wrappers and bits of rotting fruit in their mouths
claiming the fetid remains of the day for a midnight feast.
Years before, these rats and roaches would have been in hiding
in the ramshackle brick houses and empty warehouse spaces that used
to line this part of town, but now that all those old buildings are gone
and the new buildings, mostly condos, are too brightly lit for vermin
the rats and the roaches have all come down to the beach. The new condo owners
might have chased away the junkies and the whores
and the homeless drunks with their overflowing shopping carts
but the rats and the roaches are here to stay.
Old Crocker brought us coal.
His blackened, scary face
had bulging bloodshot eyes
which stared below a greasy cap.
From lorry to his leather-aproned back
he heaved each sack and humped it
down the concrete path
in battered blakey-studded boots,
which as he thudded through,
until the thunder of black fuel
tumbling in the bunker.
Such was the fearsome ogre
who brought us warmth in winter.
Is mermaid legs of
silk noodles and storm
trooper boots. It’s pant
less. A hemmed blouse
of Amazonian orchids.
Tattooed neck. Marine
haircut. A chair made
of wolf pelts. Dressed as
a lemon meringue pie.
tea and giggling at stars.
George Cassidy Payne
Rochester, NY, USA
Opt me out
of anything spontaneous, spectacular
but don’t let me stop you
having a bash
on the scariest rides
that thrill making engineers
design and provide
for fun seeking fun seekers -
persons who enjoy a thrill
to show they’re alive
though nearly being killed,
and queue for the privilege.
It’s their bag you see
to be at the peak of anxiety
screaming out loud –
but leave me out,
I’ll be taking a step back
to realign my inner self,
addressing a wealth
of calm idiosyncrasies.
A rough dress forgotten, designed for a lady, worn by
a mother who never took much to the traits of stars.
Modelling hands of ruby nails and soft lotions, bare
no likeness to the digits crevassed by cold and rain.
Mouths needed feeding, food to be planted
and dirt soiled the folds of a skin still trying to be young.
No time for jolly waltzes in the dusty, musky ballroom
only a moment to turn from oven to table at work.
Eyelashes faded, braids unravelled with the passing days
the make-up hardened to become cement in a tight jar.
When death came at last beauty was allowed anew
she lay still rosy cheeks, peaceful under deep foundation.
The little girl had dreamed of a cover glamour shot
success indeed; that it is the last memory of her.
Fabrice B Poussin
When I first saw the place one summer
it looked like someone dropped a bomb.
Through a chain-link fence
sheet metal siding charred black as coal
hung on steel girders.
From the car window
you could only look through one end
where furnace number nine made silicon.
When they tapped, a fiery glow exploded,
split darkness in a shower of volcanic light.
Waiting in the gravel parking lot
after dad’s shift,
the car was an oven of three o’clock heat.
They walked from the small building
covered in black steel-dust
like old photographs of miners.
Covered with fine filings,
this dust that resembled glitter
inside through a shaft of light,
you cleaned from your nose an hour after shift.
Black snot. Black spit.
Steel was in their blood.
Fifty years, my father worked
through changing names, collective bargaining,
a strike, an employee buy-out.
Lines on his face and in his hands
were other stories.
He drove almost an hour every day to work.
strung electrical wire,
checked switches, relays, transistors.
Sunflower seeds and cigarette buts on the plunging station floor.
Mess hall cuss and days of jokes.
Once in a while someone brought food.
Talk of mortgages, political snares.
One summer on furnace number two,
Miller looked at me and said,
“Welcome to Hell.”
Everybody just wanted a better life.
Many years later
one of them was pulled over;
a rumor of cocaine in his trunk.
After all this time,
here and there they fall,
felled by life;
alcohol, heart disease and cancer.
John Timothy Robinson
Gallipolis Ferry, WV, USA
I remember shadows
and the long arms of strength.
I see smiles and pain
Voices over a river
one I’m familiar with -
thoughts provide a healing,
of scars no longer visible.
I recall the aroma of lilacs
in the morning,
dew covering canvas awnings
and red wing blackbirds
heading to the tidal basin.
Old Lyme, Connecticut, USA
I have an apartment lease to offload, need a foxhole
after another upheaval in the hum of these days,
discovery, escape, possibility, blood fizzing.
I recognise the canny suit who responds to my ad,
taking me back to the cages of earlier restless times.
He was my boss when I quit, storming out offended
by tactless remarks criticising a distressing call,
a medical emergency halting sweaty work.
No phones in pockets. Work scarce. Bosses ruled.
I had vowed to find another job before day’s end.
He remembers me, an emotional boy-father
of an injured child, who showed up the next morning.
Smug, compassionate, I couldn’t tell back then,
he assumed I would retract my notice, was shocked
I landed a job that day I told him where to stick his.
He wants the apartment for his student daughter.
I mention my language studies, enjoy his surprise again,
omit shameful wreckage bobbing in life’s wake,
the married girlfriend, cheap drama like a bad movie.
We all want our hazardous lives to turn out magical.
Ian C Smith
Sale, Vic, 3850, Australia
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