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Night at the Interstate Diner

December 10, 2010 5 comments

by James Brush

I ran in circles that turned into spirals leading me
back to the same crowds I hoped to escape.
These crowds gathered around holes in the ground,
at truckstops and on famous San Francisco street corners
where they offered drugs and hookups. Did you know
a straight line inscribed on a sphere is a circle?
Driving deep into the night chasing headlights
flickering with bugs, the circles became too much
and I sought crowds in muddy-tile interstate diners
offering tired-eyed cigarette and coffee warmth.
Not conversation, rather a simple acknowledgement
that we’re all of us out here, millions, a crowd
dispersed along asphalt lines and stretched so thin
we hardly seem a crowd. But at night, we’re
all in the same place. Tired alone worn out
and looking for others to remind us that we’re
not the last ones left. Out there, beyond the pooling
rest stop lights, there is nothing. Nobody
you’d want to meet. It’s warm here. Stay with us.
Listen to these whispered stories. We’ll all be moving on
come morning, a crowd stretched again to the breaking,
forgetful and perhaps just a little embarrassed
that we needed to come together in the long last night.


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James Brush lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, cat and two rescued greyhounds. He teaches English in a juvenile correctional facility. He doesn’t mind crowds if the music is good or the game is well-played. A list of publication credits and links can be found here. You can find him online at Coyote Mercury.

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Crows of Still Creek

December 9, 2010 9 comments

by Robin Susanto

Countable Stencils, by Robin Susanto
Countable stencils

Darkness falls bird by bird
As strokes of charcoal on the canvas of evening
Where light has abandoned its outline
A vision that fills in the blank in the matte of the pupils

The crows of still creek are marking the spot
Where night will open its first eyes

Where alpha meets atlantic
Avenues that have shed their names
To be no one’s ocean or alphabet
But the first furrows on night’s dark brow
Where no sun cuts shadows into countable stencils
Where the last light has bled its dye
From the ledge of twilight
Down the face of a shut warehouse
The vastness of space in pools at ground level
Where the city has broken its blocks

The crows of still creek are boarding up the night

Shutting down the stars the city’s fluorescence
The sidewalk slat by slat
Until they themselves are no longer
Feathers by the thousands
But one shadow under one roost

Night at last

But the night the crows bring down is not the night we burn
In the indoor fires by the flicker of the screen

True night is light

In the puddle of the iris
All that we have put out of sight
The garbage routes they have memorized
The blown kisses that have fallen
No longer love but crumbs that can take flight only in the guts of scavengers
In the puddle of the iris
Where our vision meets its mud
The crows have lit their light
A new city from the scraps of what we have put out of sight
(This is why we hate them)

But most of all the crows want to show us flight
A true bird to us who still give wings to the angels
Cheating as we do when we don’t take away their arms
As if the sky had a substance we could grasp
A clutch of grass to prove where love has been

But to be winged is to love armless
With no limbs to entwine
No palms to cradle a face
Or a paw to lightly rest on a breathing belly

The crows of all birds have envy in their eyes
They are black with knowledge and it drives them mad
Cawing for our sight
True darkness where we are blind
Vision one bird’s eye view at a time


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Birds are too showy/ Robin Susanto prefers to look for flight in low-lying shrubs/ where gravity climbs by its own weight/ like syrup up the capillaries of the quietly growing.

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Seas Between Us

December 8, 2010 3 comments

by Donna Vorreyer

And seas between us broad have roared
(“Auld Lang Syne,” English tradition)

New Year’s Eve holds no charm for me, one year blending seamlessly into the next by a simple tick of the clock, all this nonsense about resolutions just a way to make excuses. But my husband loves the pageantry, especially when we are traveling, each country with its own insanities and customs he wants to experience. And so we venture out, join in — we eat twelve grapes at midnight in Madrid, buy our small son marzipan pigs in Vienna, dodge a firecracker battle in Paris, tiny sticks of gunpowder spitting sparks onto our faces, our coats, our mittened hands.

And now in London, I would much rather be wrapped in a blanket, watching the spectacle on television with a cup of tea. My son is thirteen, would rather be sleeping or listening to his mp3 player. But here we are, layering fleece and sweaters to hop on the Tube toward the Eye, to watch the cars of the ferris wheel tumble like a giant firework that refuses to leave the sky. We exit the station, and I can tell it will be bad — streets packed shoulder to shoulder, one undulating mass pulsing toward the square. Some, in a burst of British impoliteness, shove through like a snake with a poisonous head, the leader creating space, the rest slithering behind before the hole can close.

I grab my husband’s jacket, insist that he keep my son in front of him, fearing the drunken disarray looming beneath the surface of the crowd. We inch ahead, unable to see where we are going, and things get louder, uglier. People move back against the grain now, some drenched with sweat, a few with bloodied scalps, bottles thrown in irritation across the sea of heads. We decide to move sideways, escape to a cul-de-sac where we cannot see the Eye, but maybe can glimpse the fireworks. Birthed from the stream of people, I sigh until I notice my son is nowhere in sight. Not normally prone to hysteria, my whole body convulses with panic as I turn toward my husband — find him, find him now. I wait alone outside a closed coffee shop, berate myself for my lack of mothering skills, my poor judgment, my hands cupped over my face like an oxygen mask, as if I have forgotten how to breathe. When they emerge from the crowd, my son in front, I leap to hug him. Seeing my panic, he doesn’t object.

This is when I crack, turn and sob with red-faced ugly gulps into my husband’s chest. I hate this, I hate this, I mumble, over and over like a mantra that will mystically erase this feeling, this one moment where I understand, for the first time in my life, how a woman could (pockets weighted) walk into the sea, could climb high atop the Tower Bridge and throw herself willingly into the Thames.


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Donna Vorreyer lives in a house with a spacious yard and plenty of breathing space for her husband, her son, and her dog. Visit her and view her work at her website or her blog.

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Niggun for the Hand-Drum

December 7, 2010 Comments off

by Jane Rice

Taste of soil
sings in the throat

solo clarinet

chin lifts
to listen

this, then
on the alphabet
of sound
on the nature of questions

keep and remember
this tree
this meeting place

now
is now
no other

welcome
to our land

angel, clearly an angel
greeted with kisses

light in danger
of darkening

earlier with people
finishes dusk

intricacies breathe
flaxen cloth

empty street
hangs
on every word

to learn
what fails
what balances

hour that listens
hears

sun and moon
together

how golden the sky

field of barley
ripe for the scythe

counting memory
wakes lunar dream

crowd is river
blue discussions

only the angel is barefoot
arm passes under the wing

and forward loosens
my hair

living water
enters
holds

a second so fast
the world turns

shadow upon shadow

so that little lanterns
of tambourine
fan and multiply.

*

Note: Niggun in Hebrew means humming tune. It is a short, wordless melody sung in a group to invoke a prayerful state of mind. The tune is often repetitive and improvised.


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Jane Rice lives in San Francisco and pursues her interests in poetry, art and art history. Please visit Propolis Press for information about her letterpress chapbook entitled Portrait Sitters.

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Crowd

December 6, 2010 Comments off

by Gordon Smith

Crowd by Gordon Smith
Click on image to see a larger version.

 

Gordon Smith (website) is a Southwestern internist physician and a part-time landscape photographer who’s also a lifelong poetry fan, and says he continues to read and compose poetry during inspired moments.

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Happy Hour

December 3, 2010 3 comments

by Lynda Fleet Perry

Breasts thrust from tight
dresses, the sharp
features of forty-something
party people perfectly
coifed and lacquered,
ubiquitous dark-manicured
toes gleaming from black
sandals. Everyone miles tall,
nibbling straws
at the edges of their glasses.
Gloss and tussle, harsh
talk and laughter,
everyone louder than
the other, life at a dull
roar. The ice clinks
in the glass. The red
wine seeps into upholstered
barstools. The muscled
bartender with tattoos
smiles politely, not very
brightly, explaining
four hundred thousand dollars
in renovations. This grotto
could be someone’s comfy
basement—sofa, pool table,
and bar—but the edges are
hard as the eyes of the thin,
determinedly sober women
who drink like pros, alternating
muscular martinis and geometric
glasses of iced water and
lemon. Always with lemon.
They laugh while their husbands
gaze, with each drink
tossed back the gaze a bit
emptier, the talk lingering
on coke-soaked parties, ski
bums, and mountain biking.
The breasts tilt towards them, always
peaking, pushed by wired bras,
miraculously expanding spandex.
Conversation grows more about
less as the evening pours on. A
handsome-as-a-model man
whispers his lust for women
who look like tramps—his
words, tramps—with slits
in tight skirts up to there. They
must be blonde, with bodies
to kill for
, he says. I lean back
against the excavated columns,
palming the same glass of wine
I have sipped all night. We are
way past happy hour now.


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Lynda Fleet Perry lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband and daughter. She has worked as a freelance writer and communications consultant for nonprofits. Her poems have been published in Lumina, New Zoo Review, and The Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering.

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Today my shower came from the heavens

December 2, 2010 5 comments

by Alex Cigale

Lying very still, my ear to the ground,
I can hear voices, what the river said,
water lapping stones: I love you, love you.

Was it just yesterday that I was rain?
What will become of me tomorrow? Lake?
I move a single stone for how many years?

Fricative sibilants of the vast wind,
particles of mist jostling for position.
There would be no hush were it not for the trees.

Round after round the rain rings out its song.
I stay awake all night grateful for the sounds.
Today my shower came from the heavens.

Interesting people we meet along the way and
intersecting with them sense connectedness,
the world a safe place: I feel I belong:

not having, had, or to have; becoming.


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Alex Cigale’s poems recently appeared in The Cafe, Colorado, Global City, Green Mountains, and North American reviews, Gargoyle, Hanging Loose, Redactions, Tar River Poetry, 32 Poems, and Zoland Poetry, online in Contrary, Drunken Boat, H_ngm_n, McSweeney’s, and are forthcoming in Many Mountains Moving and St. Petersburg Review. His translations from the Russian can be found in Crossing Centuries: the New Generation in Russian Poetry, in The Manhattan, St. Ann’s, and Yellow Medicine reviews, online in OffCourse, Danse Macabre and Fiera Lingue, and forthcoming in Crab Creek Review and Modern Poetry in Translation. He was born in Chernovsty, Ukraine and lives in New York City.

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Revolution Day parade, Ticul, Yucatán

December 1, 2010 Comments off

by Steve Wing

Revolution Day Parade, by Steve Wing

 

Steve Wing (PBase gallery) is a visual artist and writer whose work reflects his appreciation for the extraordinary in ordinary days and places. He lives in Florida, where he takes dawn photos on his way to work in an academic institution. He’s a regular contributor to qarrtsiluni, as well as to BluePrintReview, where he has a bio page with links to some of his other publications.

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Stonewall

November 30, 2010 2 comments

by Julene Tripp Weaver

I still mourn Judy Garland
with the queers at Stonewall—
I was one of the flamboyant ones
who’d had enough. Salt-sweat
mascara running my face
getting on with my grief for
my girl. Cop raid ire-fire
this is my right, my life,
you bet I snapped.
Don’t push us
when we mourn.

Judy Garland (June 10, 1922 – June 22, 1969)


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Julene Tripp Weaver lives in Seattle. Finishing Line Press published her chapbook Case Walking: An AIDS Case Manager Wails her Blues, with poems inspired by her work for 18 years in HIV Services. Her poems are published in many journals and several anthologies, including Hot Metal Press, Gemini Magazine, Chicken Piñata, Outward Link, Blossombones, The Smoking Poet, Drash and Future Earth Magazine, and in the anthology A Dream in the Clouds, featuring art inspired by the 2008 Presidential Election. Her first full size book will be published next year. She does wordplay on Twitter @trippweavepoet.

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The Station

November 29, 2010 8 comments

by Hannah Stephenson

In all of this turning, the station remains still,
stationary. The stairwells and platforms are teeming
with bodies. These people are projectionists,
time travelers. Their minds beam forth
like the steady light cast from miner’s helmets
into the future: thirty minutes, an hour,
three hours, twelve. Busy human shells
flood the turnstiles, spin the metal racks
volunteering magazines, brochures,
postcards, correspondence. Autopilot
propels each person to a destination.
bodies arrive into humming, taupe offices,
fall into slate blue pneumatic office chairs
and find their minds already sorting inboxes.
What a relief, to sit alone and spin
in the privacy of ergonomic bliss.


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Hannah Stephenson is a poet, writer, and instructor living in Los Angeles. Her poems have appeared in ouroboros review, Mankind Magazine, Spoonful, The Birmingham Arts Journal, and Artsy!Dartsy!. You can visit her daily poetry blog, The Storialist, at www.thestorialist.com.

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