Picaroon Poetry - Issue #19 - November 2019

Well here we are, rogues and rebels, readers and writers - our last issue of Picaroon until the middle of 2021. I want to thank everyone who appears in this issue - poems about busking and goats, fruitcake and pawn shops, and Christmas and ghosts and so much more - and everyone who has ever sent something our way, been published in other issues, or read what our writers have shared with you.

Well here we are, rogues and rebels, readers and writers - our last issue of Picaroon until the middle of 2021. I want to thank everyone who appears in this issue - poems about busking and goats, fruitcake and pawn shops, and Christmas and ghosts and so much more - and everyone who has ever sent something our way, been published in other issues, or read what our writers have shared with you.


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<strong>Issue</strong> <strong>#19</strong><br />

<strong>November</strong> <strong>2019</strong><br />

Edited by Kate Garrett<br />

All poems copyright © <strong>2019</strong> individual authors<br />

Selection/issue copyright © <strong>2019</strong> Kate Garrett / <strong>Picaroon</strong> <strong>Poetry</strong><br />

Cover image is detail from an image of Ecclesall Road, Sheffield, UK by Shane<br />

Rounce via Unsplash, used under the public domain license.<br />



This Month’s Rogue Poems ● <strong>November</strong> <strong>2019</strong><br />

november // Nick Carding 7<br />

Tales // Rickey Rivers Jr. 8<br />

World’s Fair, 1939 // Victor Altshul 9<br />

He Makes Music // Simon Williams 10<br />

Frozen in Time // Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon 11<br />

Rummies // Todd Mercer 12<br />

Weather, Late Autumn Early Winter // Michael H. Brownstein 13<br />

Trappings // Sue Kindon 14<br />

Late Night Visit with My Father // Maureen Daniels 15<br />

Naming // Sheila Ronsen 16<br />

Exhale // Charles G Lauder, Jr 17<br />

Soul Notation on a Dark Night // Laura Wainwright 18<br />

Left Behind // Juliette Sebock 19<br />

Saturn Returns // Cynthia Anderson 20<br />

death song with goats // Kyla Houbolt 21<br />

from dog // Grant Tarbard 23<br />

Cosmic Blues // Howie Good 24<br />

Amarillo // Daniel Fraser 25<br />

Thelma // Hannah Wang 26<br />

Untitled // Gabriella Garofalo 28<br />


Woolf’s Stone // Elisabeth Horan 29<br />

An escape to anywhere // Patrick T. Reardon 30<br />

Semi-automatics in a series of haiku (murder most fowl) // Jordan Hamel 32<br />

Robins: a Wikipedia Entry // Beth Brooke 33<br />

Haunted // Craig Dobson 34<br />

Listen, universe echoes // Svetlana Avakumović 35<br />

The Narrative Eye // Simon Williams 36<br />

user manual page 19: cactus // Cecile Bol 37<br />

The Day I Tried to Sell My Soul to Satan // Clive Donovan 38<br />

Drawing the grotesque // David J. Thompson 39<br />

Pawn Shop // Robin Ray 40<br />

that year // Nick Carding 41<br />

Dispatch from the Monsoon // Beth Bayley 42<br />

Saving Christmas // Betsy Martin 43<br />


Nick Carding<br />

november<br />

sadness of rain<br />

pulping<br />

crisped leaves<br />

whine of wind<br />

rubbing<br />

the cornerstone<br />

buzz and snap<br />

of wood<br />

in the hearth<br />

legs bare<br />

stretched<br />

caressing<br />

your heart<br />

pumping<br />

in mine<br />

ways<br />

in which<br />

we love<br />


Rickey Rivers, Jr<br />

Tales<br />

The king is nearly dead. The queen has run off with the jester. On his death bed<br />

the king dreams of prosperity. The prince is off fighting dragons. The old witch<br />

conjures curses to control the castle. Her cauldron contains pieces, together they<br />

crumble into cookies. These are for the giants, those who roam the land. The<br />

cookies control their height. Digestion causes shrinkage, which allows for fairy<br />

courtship. Their dust helps grow the crops. The crops feed the monsters. The<br />

monsters are not monsters, though they move the same. When games are played<br />

in playgrounds children give them names.<br />


Victor Altshul<br />

World’s Fair, 1939<br />

There were worlds all over the fairgrounds,<br />

though I knew nothing<br />

of the world or of worlds or fairs.<br />

The worlds were giant globes.<br />

Buses went back and forth<br />

among all the worlds.<br />

I think there must have been<br />

red buses,<br />

and blue buses,<br />

and green buses.<br />

I must have gotten on many buses,<br />

but not on all the buses.<br />

I had never seen so many buses.<br />

One day I would be a bus driver,<br />

with a blue uniform and peaked hat.<br />

How was I to know there were<br />

so many buses?<br />

So many worlds?<br />


Simon Williams<br />

He Makes Music<br />

The melodeon player<br />

by the tree<br />

in the square<br />

plays a shanty,<br />

looks like Joseph<br />

with mirror glasses.<br />

He shouts songs;<br />

you can’t tell<br />

if its persona –<br />

a stage play<br />

to get coins<br />

in his hat –<br />

or a condition<br />

where he must<br />

act the pirate.<br />

By the time<br />

he packs up,<br />

it doesn’t matter.<br />


Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon<br />

Frozen in Time<br />

She yanked at the iced-up car door.<br />

At first, it stuck. When it broke free<br />

it opened suddenly, caught her unawares<br />

and bruised her thigh, What the bloody fuck.<br />

She shivered, sighed in the sharp frost of winter,<br />

her first one without him. He’d always scraped<br />

her windows clean. She grabbed a CD, ‘Revolver’,<br />

remixed, her new de-icing tool, Congratulations,<br />

girl. Like your lateral thinking. It marked her survival.<br />

Her thought twists: haunted, she imagines his up-curled lip,<br />

mocking face, a look she’d seen him flaunt most days, for years.<br />

So unlike his hood-eyed smoulder as they kissed deep<br />

late at night loved understood why they’d stayed together –<br />

weathered bitter rows, for this brief bliss. Both, now gone forever.<br />


Todd Mercer<br />

Rummies<br />

“Better you than me” reads the post-it note<br />

affixed to the holiday fruitcake we’ve dropped<br />

off on each other’s doorsteps, lo these many years.<br />

It may be edible. At least as edible as it ever was.<br />

We can’t know, as I’m not checking<br />

and my friend won’t surrender<br />

this baked good cold war. Next Christmas<br />

she’ll be on guard. She’ll try not to<br />

take possession, when I deliver said fruitcake<br />

inside an innocuous trojan horse sculpture.<br />

Our friendly tradition perseveres, the pastry<br />

was preserved since Dubya’s Administration.<br />

Baked then, the cake, and not the friends.<br />

Been circulating since wrapper unopened.<br />

I store it in the Present’s Closet,<br />

my burden ‘til this time next winter.<br />

Working out precisely how<br />

I will unload this loaf.<br />


Michael H. Brownstein<br />

Weather, Late Autumn Early Winter<br />

Mudflats eek black varnish<br />

across strings of grass<br />

sunlit and prismed, dark<br />

vapor and shadow. Crayfish<br />

dig into earth, minnows<br />

slide from puddle<br />

to puddle. Nearby, fishing<br />

birds statue still. A wind<br />

comes in through the boneyard,<br />

shell and snail, rock and sand.<br />

Nothing wishes to move<br />

so nothing moves. You thought this<br />

a poem about weather.<br />

It's not. It's about the ecology<br />

of love, how a favorite place<br />

darkens inside out, how a mother<br />

in law's plants poison dogs,<br />

how the items we cherish<br />

break, how one day we wake,<br />

look at one another and find<br />

ourselves gasping for love,<br />

our hands bound into tight fists,<br />

our eyes watering, our nose,<br />

our mouth, the shape of the way<br />

we walk, different somehow<br />

and we don't know it,<br />

yet the life we held<br />

all of those many years<br />

mortar between good brick,<br />

drywall that does not mold,<br />

paint that does not peel,<br />

the glass in the upstairs window<br />

that does not clatter in the wind.<br />

The sun rises. Yellow light<br />

floats over the bed. The dogs<br />

bark, a cat meows, and somewhere,<br />

in the distant, a chorus of song.<br />


Sue Kindon<br />

Trappings<br />

We have taken her clothes<br />

so she goes naked.<br />

We have boxed up her books<br />

so she has nothing to think.<br />

We have bagged her Japanese prints<br />

and the painting of Llanthony Abbey<br />

done by someone she once knew:<br />

her nicotine walls draw blank.<br />

We have lifted her weight<br />

in paperclips, scissors, spectacle cases<br />

so she can breathe.<br />

Bronnley boxes, empty of soap,<br />

broken wristwatches, tissue-wrapped,<br />

and keys. Keys to passages<br />

long-gone: the forgotten<br />

of the black and white photo.<br />

We have offloaded her piano,<br />

to make space.<br />


Maureen Daniels<br />

Late Night Visit with My Father<br />

After fighting with my husband,<br />

I ran out of the apartment<br />

crying hard. Snow gathered<br />

on my hat and shoulders<br />

as I dashed through yellow<br />

cab traffic and hurried<br />

toward my father’s<br />

nursing home. I signed<br />

my name at security,<br />

slunk around the bend of<br />

the empty nurses’ station and<br />

into the dark two-bed room.<br />

He was lying on his side,<br />

drug heavy, breathing slow<br />

the view of the Hudson<br />

shuttered closed. I lowered<br />

the guard rail, climbed<br />

into his bed and spilled<br />

my face into the shallow<br />

ridge of his spine, my arm<br />

wrapped around the taped<br />

diaper across his hips.<br />

And even though he had not<br />

known my name for years,<br />

I held on tightly to the last<br />

months of my father’s life.<br />


Sheila Ronsen<br />

Naming<br />

I feel my tongue curdle and deform<br />

when I’m called upon to say my name:<br />

“Ronsen.” “Johnson ?” they ask. “Bronson?” “No.<br />

Ronsen, with an ‘e’ not an ‘o’ like the lighter,”<br />

I respond. My name held hooked to the tongue,<br />

I can’t pull it out without ripping out pieces<br />

of flesh. The remains of a bloodline betrayed,<br />

leave my mouth with the sour taste of shame.<br />

My father never spoke about the war.<br />

He took speech lessons to eradicate his Yiddish<br />

accent. With surgical precision, a tiny incision,<br />

he took a single consonant ‘n’ and inserted it<br />

after the ‘o’ of ‘Rosen’: safety stitched up.<br />

The one name he feared most was Jew.<br />


Charles G Lauder, Jr<br />

Exhale<br />

In my dream your father dies<br />

and I suddenly feel the gap,<br />

his eyes open but empty,<br />

and a sheet is pulled over<br />

as if we shouldn’t look upon the dead.<br />

Don’t look for him here,<br />

because he’s not.<br />

All we have is<br />

a volume of space<br />

that should be taken up by his bulk,<br />

a cocoon of air manifesting someday<br />

a standing lamp, a bureau,<br />

a chair against the wall.<br />

All forces, all life, all sides<br />

close around this gap,<br />

crush the bubble,<br />

and you swallow to preserve it.<br />

*‘Exhale’ appears in Charles’s new collection The Aesthetics of Breath (V. Press,<br />

October <strong>2019</strong>).<br />


Laura Wainwright<br />

Soul Notation on a Dark Night<br />

Before starting this medicine<br />

Citalopram (Celexa, Cipramil) gasp of a yawn with abdominal flutter<br />

first read this information<br />

Fluoxetine (Fontex, Sarafem) anxiety apostacy apathy coda<br />

Do not discontinue suddenly<br />

Sertraline (Lustral, Zoloft) sleeplessness syncope nausea tremor<br />

Talk to your doctor if<br />

you take<br />

Diazepam (Valium, Amiprol) alcohol CBT samadhi poetry yoga<br />

too much<br />


Juliette Sebock<br />

Left Behind<br />

I drink coffee for amnesia,<br />

tensing up at thoughts of milk<br />

laced with honey.<br />

I left a pile behind,<br />

mugs that hadn't yet been stained<br />

by caffeine rings,<br />

but made sure to pack<br />

an extra shot glass<br />

because I knew right away<br />

I'd need a double.<br />

Still, I drip rum in my coffee cup,<br />

fast-food Coke with the good ice,<br />

a cure-all for thoughts of pain.<br />

Memories feel less like abandonment<br />

when you take away the sting.<br />


Cynthia Anderson<br />

Saturn Returns<br />

The sky’s taskmaster arrives before dawn<br />

blinding my window like an oncoming train.<br />

I hide my head, but when I look back,<br />

he’s still there—bigger, brighter, higher.<br />

What does the sun of the night want?<br />

All week I watch him ride the window.<br />

Saturn doesn’t understand no. At twilight,<br />

dressed in army camouflage, he rings<br />

the doorbell, selling magazine subscriptions.<br />

He wants to open a martial arts studio,<br />

claims, I don’t need luck. It’s true—<br />

lord of death, time, and karma,<br />

he already has what he needs.<br />

It’s New Year’s Eve. Does the world<br />

reflect our thoughts, or is it trickier<br />

than that? No matter. Saturn’s gone—<br />

I’m unsettled and relieved.<br />

*’Saturn Returns’ appears in Cynthia’s new book Route (Cholla Needles Press,<br />

August <strong>2019</strong>)<br />


Kyla Houbolt<br />

death song with goats<br />

levitate.<br />

it might be worth<br />

learning to do this.<br />

once I die,<br />

the goats will eat<br />

anything leftover<br />

including<br />

an owners manual<br />

if I had one<br />

I want to make<br />

of my death<br />

something so beautiful<br />

it brings all the goats<br />

to the graveyard<br />

so beautiful it lifts<br />

up out of the goats' reach<br />

so nothing is left<br />

behind but a crowd<br />

of frustrated hungry<br />

goats<br />

they will sing out<br />

their outrage<br />

they will be so angry<br />

these graveyard goats<br />

their singing will somehow<br />

ascend into magical harmony<br />

and the sound of it will become<br />

so damn glorious the goats<br />

themselves will begin to levitate<br />

imagine, clouds of flying goats<br />

singing an angel chorus<br />


zooming along the airways<br />

changing the weather patterns<br />

because of harmonic resonance<br />

and altered albedo<br />

and so if all goes<br />

according to plan<br />

my beautiful death<br />

can heal climate change<br />

by means of goats<br />

and their levitation<br />

which is because of my own<br />

levitation by means<br />

of the beautiful death<br />

I conjured in the absence<br />

of any owners manual<br />

at all<br />


Grant Tarbard<br />

from dog<br />

12.<br />

Dog had a theory of colour that he enjoyed<br />

shouting out of motor cars, a drawn idea<br />

to stuff a balmy head into. He says “the solidarity<br />

of red is calming, if you don’t look outside the iris.<br />

The pursuit of blue has one rooting around<br />

for pocket change, milking unfinished speeches<br />

for pigments; thus a chalk drawing is an act of rebellion.<br />

There is nothing insignificant in the suggestion of colour.”<br />

13.<br />

Dog, once, lost the power of speech. He mimed that<br />

the intellectual convenience was well worth his voice.<br />

Enlightened hunches transfigured his earthen face<br />

into a boy holding a question mark like a prized balloon.<br />

His throat was a swarm of pins, unforgiving like wasps.<br />

Dog winced: “if I could get a foot higher I could thrust<br />

for treason.” This was a typical Sunday afternoon with dog,<br />

after tea he’d fall asleep with eyes open, staring out the window.<br />

When he awoke he’d imagine how many bicycles he’d seen.<br />

15.<br />

Dog was a dizzy vacuum wearing mongrel fur—<br />

a fainting goat feigning a pantomime death every afternoon.<br />

He’s stitched together with a tincture of vertigo<br />

and laudanum. His nimble feet resuscitate dead suns<br />

abubble with frolic, questioning a bolero on your best linen.<br />

The mechanics of his nimble feet were moths in the disguise<br />

of butterflies. He’s rather proud of his pink mouth,<br />

with its malaise of crowded pearly teeth. When he smiled<br />

you’d run the risk of being absorbed by chest height ghosts<br />

in de rigueur white sheets. Flossing was a small vanity.<br />


Howie Good<br />

Cosmic Blues<br />

I’m not really into cosmic things, but I don’t have a choice. Salvador Dali is forever.<br />

I used to see seagulls everywhere. Then a mirror unrolled from the sky, and the<br />

seagulls were just skeletons. None of it made a lot of sense. Someone said to me,<br />

“It’s simple. A black hole is where time and space disappear.” Simple?! Solid<br />

objects are melting into air at an alarming pace. It’s not an unknown future. It’s<br />

almost here. I think it must be like a wasp nest in a barrack in a German<br />

concentration camp or 634 minutes inside a volcano.<br />


Daniel Fraser<br />

Amarillo<br />

Rented room with a blue cactus mural<br />

and the solemn folds of a Texas flag<br />

shower curtain lolling through saloon doors,<br />

reminding us that some things fit too well.<br />

Sweet evenings on bourbon without ID,<br />

losing ourselves to open plains and highway talk,<br />

the asphalt diction of our adopted tongue,<br />

while bats chew at papery moths<br />

and guano thuds like moon glue in the dust.<br />

A man named Chris we met on the road,<br />

had a three-drink misunderstanding and<br />

took straight to brawling, one fist hollowed out<br />

another’s cheek: cracked plywood, loose teeth<br />

and muffled cheers, sometimes it<br />

feels good to see a man fall down. Shattered<br />

long-necks, muscles assembled round a white<br />

Dodge, open at the back, brows pressed with<br />

menace, motor oil clagging up the night,<br />

the word posse bandied about like time<br />

meant nothing. A few half-hearted bullets<br />

scurried through the pasteboard, embedding<br />

like hot fossils beneath the banded rock.<br />

In the morning we crawled from beneath<br />

the bed, insects rising from troubled dreams,<br />

and headed east, each one $70 lighter for failing<br />

to eat the biggest steak in the world.<br />


Hannah Wang<br />

Thelma<br />

There are two things I love more than everything else in this world:<br />

giant turtles,<br />

and you, babygirl.<br />

Sitting behind the wheel on the edge of forever,<br />

I can’t take my eyes off the canyon<br />

between your collarbone and<br />

your curls,<br />

spines erupting from the pulp<br />

of your inverted cactus body –<br />

darling, you have never<br />

glittered more resistant.<br />

Iridescent. Darling, you are<br />

irresistible.<br />

If you are my everything and my world,<br />

I want to see turtles<br />

all<br />

the way<br />

down.<br />

I will gouge out the eyes<br />

of everyone who has undressed you<br />

and looked you<br />

wrong<br />

My valley burn,<br />

my desert rose,<br />

let me kiss the sepia off your petals.<br />

My miracle, how fresh you still look<br />

beneath the rays of the carcinogenic sun.<br />

For you, I would inhale<br />

all these rusted ashtray men<br />


into our forsaken sky.<br />

and breathe them back as clouds<br />

Ruby raindrops shall bead<br />

the threadbare edges of your wounds.<br />

My index and middle fingers –<br />

the sound of thunder,<br />

release.<br />

Thelma, the lights are whooping<br />

for our blood for our blood<br />

for our blood.<br />

We were born jailbreaking.<br />

We have already seen the inside of a cell,<br />

and it looks like<br />

Mount Rushmore,<br />

a convenience store with empty shelves.<br />

We scream flash floods<br />

no stern pillar can dam –<br />

so put your smoking gun lips on mine.<br />

Tell me to keep going.<br />

Eat my heart as the roaring wind<br />

flays us, as we<br />

fly.<br />

When they find us<br />

at the bottom,<br />

we will have fused into thunderbird steel.<br />

No one but this wreckage can ever touch our flesh again.<br />


Gabriella Garofalo<br />

Untitled<br />

Cause he was born first, cobalt,<br />

Then you, then fear,<br />

No hunter no hustle you’ll mourn,<br />

Soul –<br />

So what? He gets away with it?<br />

He nicks that many moons and gets off scot-free?<br />

Yes, look at him, standing at the corner<br />

Bragging about same old evenings,<br />

Same old tales of blood girls and whiskey –<br />

He, the sky.<br />

Careful, luvvy, if the wind looms around<br />

Ready to sweep away wisdom and sins,<br />

Those shadows on the sill<br />

Only fields can eye –<br />

Blossoms or wolves, don’t ask,<br />

It’s a matter of sight<br />

When only fields get eyes.<br />


Elisabeth Horan<br />

Woolf’s Stone<br />

I want to start again<br />

With the same stone<br />

Weighing me down<br />

Holds my legs together<br />

Deep underground<br />

Under ocean arms, blue lady<br />

Kills me. Blue lady loves me<br />

Takes my air and drowns me<br />

Her friend brown angel<br />

Is the reek of death all around<br />

Me. The black and hag the fang eel<br />

The tentacles up my nose. Wanting---<br />

Standard living. Standard dying.<br />

In the ocean. With a rock weight I tied<br />

My legs together, must not open<br />

Ever again. For anything. Anyone/<br />

Expect that --- to remove organs<br />

As they fail one by one. Innocent<br />

Enough, until it becomes<br />

The entire line up of<br />

Liver kidney stomach intestine.<br />

It won't be a problem<br />

Remember. I have already<br />

Drowned under the thick<br />

Crude stench of water.<br />

All that's left is the smell of<br />

An ancient Orgasm -<br />

A wet grave - a woman’s shirt<br />

Unbuttoned.<br />


Patrick T. Reardon<br />

An escape to anywhere<br />

(1)<br />

The armless hand writes on the wall my name. Am I<br />

the sin? Or the prophesy? Or the sacrifice? I am<br />

marched to the Temple where the King demands<br />

I solve his problem.<br />

I whisper:<br />

“The pulsing el runs in the dark past the blind backs<br />

of houses. The Lake is a Buddha to the east, as silent<br />

and fat and as empty of ambition. In the backyard on Leamington, David and I,<br />

still innocent of school, steal<br />

a shovel and begin digging our escape to China. We<br />

were spanked twice for that antic.<br />

“Sixty years later, David creeped out his back door to<br />

his tiny backyard and found flight by digging a sudden<br />

tiny tunnel through his sorrow-soaked brain.”<br />

The King brought in his slit-eyed soothsayers to parse<br />

my dream of his dream of the hand of God on his wall<br />

of pain, and they divined that it was an undigested<br />

piece of beef. Don’t look behind the bed curtain. I<br />

left my name held hostage as I skedaddled to some<br />

other cosmic Chicago where David is alive and we<br />

don’t have to dig an escape to anywhere.<br />

Did you know God writes left-handed?<br />

(2)<br />

Remember that Greek myth of the<br />

mother who, each darkness, would<br />

descend with regal grace the stone<br />

stairs to the dungeon to dine, her<br />

teeth into the flesh, on the entrails<br />

of her toddler son who, each light,<br />

would heal to be ready again a<br />


maternal meal?<br />

At Troy, he fought. In Sicily.<br />

On the Plains of Abraham. In the Pass.<br />

On the beach. In the Wilderness.<br />

At intervals, he would slip from the field<br />

to the dungeon<br />

to serve again as repast.<br />

(3)<br />

I told the King to bury me under the altar.<br />

I am in no rush. Still, it is good to know the terminal point. My sovereign made no<br />

promises and looked into my eyes,<br />

searching for what he didn’t know. I knew he was looking<br />

for the boy who has been a hostage inside me.<br />

Look, that boy is in a choir loft singing the Credo<br />

in a voice that fills his head from the vestibule to the altar.<br />

He is blameless and pained in his cassock and surplice.<br />

He pours his weights into the voice that escapes him<br />

as he would escape himself, riding up and out,<br />

past the painted ceiling, to the wide sky, empty of chains,<br />

linked to the crab-apple tree in the weedy backyard.<br />

(4)<br />

I don’t want to hear it.<br />

I am solid as the rock that is the mountain.<br />

I bottle my pain to an ugly vintage.<br />

My son drinks the bile through the barrel of his gun.<br />


Jordan Hamel<br />

Semi-automatics in a series of haiku (murder most<br />

fowl)<br />

Guns were created<br />

to protect families from<br />

wild animals.<br />

Semi-automatics<br />

fire 90 rounds per minute,<br />

seems quite excessive.<br />

Last night a chicken<br />

flew into my bedroom, I<br />

shot it 90 times.<br />

Chickens are small.<br />

Don’t need to shoot them 90<br />

times a minute<br />

or 90 chickens<br />

in a single minute.<br />

Fuck your convenience.<br />


Beth Brooke<br />

Robins: a Wikipedia Entry<br />

The robin is seen as a martial bird,<br />

disputatious.<br />

It has a reputation for belligerence,<br />

being able to spark an argument<br />

in an empty tree.<br />

Its plainsong ticking<br />

asserts a right of occupancy,<br />

communicating a simple message:<br />

Off. Off. Off. Off.<br />

Its more melodic songs are<br />

variations on a single theme,<br />

which may be summarised<br />

as invitations to have a go -<br />

if you think you're hard enough.<br />

Yet when evening comes<br />

these birds are slow to roost.<br />

In the dark they are small,<br />

their dreams uneasy,<br />

troubled by visions<br />

of jabbing beaks and<br />

the fierce beating of wings<br />

in landscapes where<br />

the night is always<br />

cat-shadow black.<br />


Craig Dobson<br />

Haunted<br />

A kind darkness covers everything.<br />

When dawn teases another shore<br />

from this blind tide, you’ll wash up<br />

among the wreckage on rocks of light.<br />

Lie here now, invisible to the hidden<br />

edges whose morning will show you<br />

all you’ve done or not done, clear as<br />

household mess. Bless whatever brief<br />

reprieve hides you from their unsparing.<br />

Wait, curled alone in bed, as night dies,<br />

leaving you with your fear of the valid<br />

imaginable day. Desperate for the fading<br />

imperception to stay, first light’ll find you<br />

here, willing and willing the dead to appear.<br />


Svetlana Avakumović<br />

Listen, universe echoes<br />

Jump from the Super space<br />

On the super-earth<br />

Where everything is super<br />

Supermarkets<br />

Where people dream<br />

About Superman<br />

Completely superior<br />

Jump from Super space<br />

Only<br />

Jesus Christ is a superstar<br />

and we are super ridiculous.<br />

Without heads,<br />

and no souls,<br />

so superior.<br />

Lost in the darkness, vanity leads to madness.<br />

Listen, universe echoes,<br />

echoes ...<br />


Simon Williams<br />

The Narrative Eye<br />

I tell you what I see<br />

and though you can interpret<br />

images,<br />

you can’t argue with what I present.<br />

‘What about hallucinogens’ you say.<br />

I give you that,<br />

but we have never been into<br />

anything stronger than Hobgoblin.<br />

So here’s the thing:<br />

pebble, bunting, wrinkly dog.<br />

I’ll show you every angle<br />

I can capture,<br />

but you must do the 3D scan,<br />

match it up with what you have<br />

in memory,<br />

decide if it’s real or fantasy.<br />

Once you’ve made decisions,<br />

pulled it all<br />

into your bouncy bubble,<br />

I will tell you this:<br />

there are two of us<br />

in constant dialogue with you,<br />

out of focus at best,<br />

bending everything to two, sweet stories.<br />


Cecile Bol<br />

user manual page 19: cactus<br />

time will not kill it<br />

it may display brown spots here and there<br />

but it won’t die<br />

in fact it will thrive and prosper<br />

on surprisingly little water<br />

you see, neglecting its nettlesome nature<br />

may result in clumsily reaching past it<br />

for instance to grab an empty mug of tea<br />

only to have you wonder two days later<br />

when your hand unwittingly brushes your jeans<br />

how the hell you got that pin under your skin<br />

no need to kiss it<br />

or to cut off its spines with a knife<br />

be gallant though<br />

don’t fear the prickly returns – ask<br />

what it was you did that made me cry<br />


Clive Donovan<br />

The Day I Tried to Sell My Soul to Satan<br />

Was just another grindingly frustrating day.<br />

I laid down the terms:<br />

You can have my soul [whatever that is]<br />

If in return you provide me with<br />

– Draped on that bed right there –<br />

A luscious girl<br />

Dressed perhaps in a short flared skirt<br />

And ankle socks.<br />

I was a sixteen year old virgin<br />

But I knew what I wanted.<br />

I closed my eyes.<br />

When I opened them my bed was still blank.<br />

I was telling all this to Suzie figuring she could use it<br />

Maybe as material for a short story or poem.<br />

Besides, she wanted to know everything about me.<br />

She said:<br />

'Why didn't you just pray to God?'<br />

That stopped me – made me think.<br />


David J. Thompson<br />

Drawing the grotesque<br />

I have taken a job modeling<br />

for the Art department<br />

at the local community college.<br />

It’s only part-time and minimum wage,<br />

but all I have to do is drop my robe,<br />

ignore the gasps, and sit there naked<br />

as still as can be. The class is called<br />

Drawing The Grotesque; it meets<br />

on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.<br />


Robin Ray<br />

Pawn Shop<br />

I’d swallow uncoated pills to<br />

believe you if trust meant<br />

propping a chopped oak<br />

against my back, preventing it<br />

from falling through the detritus.<br />

Palm every bible in a 100 mile<br />

radius; see if that sways me.<br />

What are these shoulders for?<br />

Chances? Carting turnips to<br />

farmers’ markets where<br />

sympathetic eyes scan visible<br />

scars? Heathen, snatch your<br />

suitcase and be gone. All I own<br />

I’ve already pawned.<br />


Nick Carding<br />

that year<br />

winter came early<br />

caught us in autumn colours<br />

shivering<br />

murdering<br />

late blooming roses<br />

blood red petals<br />

tumbling tears<br />

to chilled soil<br />

sullen in defeat<br />

came calling<br />

at your open door<br />

awaiting answers<br />

and you<br />

hospitable as ever<br />

invited winter in<br />

took him<br />

in your loving arms<br />

to dance<br />

enchanted him<br />

and when he left<br />

went with him<br />

leaving next spring<br />

when she arrived<br />

dressed all in black<br />


Beth Bayley<br />

Dispatch from the Monsoon<br />

Monsoon season sounds terribly dramatic—palm trees bent double in the wind<br />

and lashing rain, the frightened faces of farm animals as the floodwaters bear<br />

them away. But here in this apartment, it just means the bedroom door rattles at<br />

night until we lock it, the clothes whip themselves off the line, and the bag of<br />

empty soda water cans slides across the kitchen floor. In the U.S. right now,<br />

people are freezing—here in Singapore we are just enjoying the breeze.<br />

There are other problems, of course: the eight-meter-long reticulated python (shy<br />

unless provoked) slithering up from the canal that runs under the main shopping<br />

street; coiling itself beneath a bench outside a mall; biting the pest control worker<br />

who tried to put it in a small bag—such a small bag! The pest control company has<br />

no comment, but we all have a new collection of images in our heads: not only the<br />

snake curling around the bench; the ineffectual men; but the canal underneath us,<br />

and all those silent travellers slithering beneath our feet.<br />


Betsy Martin<br />

Saving Christmas<br />

December darkness like licorice<br />

could make even sadness<br />

sweet. Red and green<br />

traffic lights blink from wet<br />

pavement as we hurry<br />

to the nursery for a new pot—<br />

our Norfolk Island pine,<br />

houseplant transfigured<br />

by slow-wave chaser lights,<br />

has crashed to the floor.<br />

The nursery is decked with holiday radiance.<br />

A rainbow-hued Buddha ornament<br />

sprinkles the world with iridescence.<br />

A gray wolf stalks<br />

with silver-glitter snow underfoot,<br />

its ruby eyes haunting pinpoints<br />

of red pity that beg,<br />

Let me prey no more.<br />

Wolf and Buddha lie down<br />

together on a sack<br />

of soil and come home<br />

with the pot<br />

to save Christmas.<br />


Thank you for reading!<br />


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