End of Reason ☊
I hear the echo of instability slide
through the corridors like a plague
that just missed. I hear the song and flip
like a flock of tiny birds, upside down,
bellies flat against the sky.
I feel soiled by layers of complexity,
needing to feel again protection,
the stroke of a cool summer on my lips,
needing a puppy left at my door.
I know the sun will rise on my twisted frame.
I know a red petal thrown into a pale blue sky.
I know more than a parched mouth,
more than brick painted over
or prison bars dipped in rainbow hues.
I know of tongues basted in trembling glory,
my purpose -
core, settled and pure.
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Read the poetry of Allison Grayhurst
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When Og arose in the morning
he did not wake up
to easy listening
on his digital alarm clock.
He did not put on camouflage
to blend in,
but left the cave
determined to find meat,
or the clan didn’t eat.
So when Joe citizen set out,
this was not lower class machismo
maybe he couldn’t kill the boss,
but he could take out frustration
with a high-powered, 30-06,
laser aimed, telescopic sight
on overmatched animals
who couldn’t shoot back
It was hard to miss
an unsuspecting deer
not evolved enough
to defend against
death from afar.
A young Masai
had to kill a lion,
only armed with a spear,
to become a warrior,
one of the fairest tests
between man and beast
There were still plenty of lions,
not too many Masai,
so the balance of nature
was not disrupted.
greedy men killed more and more,
despite excessive waste
and threw away
what they could not eat,
perhaps driven to slaughter
by twisted natures.
Once, every bit of the animal
was used for survival
food, fat, fur, hide.
Then mighty hunters bloomed,
toxic growth destroying life,
and collected trophies,
heads, horns, entire bodies,
enhancing the castle
to molder on the walls,
relics of forgotten triumphs
over helpless creatures.
Then sport hunting began
and the heroic breed
shot anything that moved,
from far enough away
so there was no real danger,
just the illusion,
who thought it sport
to shoot an elephant,
minding its own business
grazing in the distance.
The modern hunter,
dresses his five year old son
in identical camis,
gives him a bb gun,
then the great outdoorsman
leads them on the trail,
to teach the young one
how to enjoy
the thrill of the kill
of diminishing species,
unable to protect themselves
from mindless assailants
Read the poetry of Gary Beck
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Carpet and Walls
Thirteen years in this house we built.
It is no longer new. Each room repainted,
faucet and toilets repaired so nothing drips
in the night except our hearts. The moon
rising over the mountain no longer
startles its cold beauty across the bed spread;
even that mountain out back is older, already
become part of our bones. Remember
how we made love in each room
that first year, soaking carpet and walls
with our own heat, physical, moist,
and more real than mortgage.
Read the poetry of Gary Metras
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Easter glows at crosswalks and CVS
while peeking through cellophane baskets
I see foil covered chocolates
that melted too soon in the almost summer sun.
on hot pavement.
Helicopter leaves-pinwheel trees
with blossoms of yellow paper confetti.
Dandelion nettles floating on warm breeze.
On the park bench I sat with tights that never fit
quite right around chubby thighs
-legs sticking out like pins in a cushion.
With folds of scratchy yellow lace about as I sweat
kicking the bare dirt and hyacinths
with the tips of my scratched white Buster Browns.
yellow purse suspended
Jeweled sun-tears as I wait
Read the poetry of Michele Riedel
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A Decent Butcher's
~First of "The Butcher Boy" Series
She never used the word ‘homesick,'
she merely complained that
“you can’t find a decent butcher’s."
We didn’t know that as she purchased
the weekly groceries, she was thinking
of a wink from twinkling blue eyes.
She couldn’t find a decent butcher’s,
for her heart was calling her back
to the butcher boy she left behind.
My body cries
my body gives a
I lack his latch.
Bottle beckons –
Gradual coaxing then
mother and son meet.
My body cries
milk tears –
joy of early
Read the poetry of Rowan Taw
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The Prize Winner
~ for Marilyn Nelson
At the ceremony, she read a poem
about wanting immortality,
questioning if that was all right.
Who can forget that hot wish
pushing through the skull
as demanding as sex?
Now I think: clown shoes, kaleidoscope glasses.
A wish like the last stain
of blood on my underpants.
I’ve no grudge against the future.
Anyone who likes my words can use them.
But why should I imagine this
or care about posterity
with its swaggering, know-nothing ransack
through our personal histories?
Let the dead stay dead, ice thickening
over their tiny ears.
But since none of us
can want only one thing
I admit to a scribble of hope
jammed into a pocket, easily ignored
to be born again in a place like this--
almost exactly the same as this
except he loves me--
I just don’t see why
it should matter to me if my poems
are feted when I’m dust.
The poet has gentle eyes.
Fame becomes her.
She looks at stars seriously.
When she spoke, there was a hum in the air
as if thousands of gold and black
with their fat, furry backs
and inexorable honey
were under her skin.
I drank too much wine
at the reception and left early.
A five-year-old could draw my heart with crayons.
And that would be all
except the bees followed me.
Tucked in bed, I watch them crawl on the ceiling--
earnest wobble of sun and ink--
and write this poem.
Read the poetry of Margaret Diehl
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Night Descends (after Chu Hsi)
Snow drifts in the air
like a white fog.
Summer has now come
and gone. I know
life will survive.
New flowers will arrive.
Ice will disappear,
and the river will flow.
But I read the future
in the distant stars.
They cannot light
this harsh night.
Leafless trees are like
dead friends. They speak
of what was, or
what might have been.
Read the poetry of George Freek
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Outside an autumn Festival, stopped on a back, dirt road.
I slipped out of my car, finger touched lips to hush my family.
Aimed my awkward camcorder, big as the buzzard
perched in the naked tree, wings expanded,
ugly and beautiful, ominous as a storm.
Look! my kids exulted.
The driver behind, another kind of buzzard,
His horn blared.
Magnificence vanished, flew into a sun-sharp sky.
Read the poetry of Vern Fein
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~In Memory of Frankie Curran
We all eat our dead, if
we loved them, that is. They die
and we carry them on our backs
like flour sacks we take home, flour
to knead into bread. Our kneading
is physical, violent. We throw
the dough onto the countertop,
and pound it with our fists, a plaint
with each punch, “Why did you
leave me here?” We mold the dough
into a metal baking casket, cover it
with a cloth shroud, and sit down
to worry it through. Will it rise?
If it does, we wrench it from its
resting place and punch and pound it
again. “How dare you abandon me
like this?” Our tears moisten the mixture
while we heat the oven and wait for a temperature
that will bake our memories and shattered hopes
in the sweltering womb-bosom oven.
The last time I saw Frankie he was Army bound.
I was a conscientious objector in Denver—1969.
I tried to dissuade him from joining the service.
We sang Christmas carols in July.
When the loaf arrives from the oven, the house
breathes the fragrance of friendship, the kind
that would lend a bed in winter, pay a lapsed heating
bill, help a pal sing Jingle Bells in summer.
Read the poetry of Charlie Brice
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The tongue of the bell
does not strike the bronze
to make its noise; it strikes
the void within the shape
to evoke the voice
Windows in the house of time
flash black and white,
sun and moon,
day and night,
icy pane, hot screen
fall red, spring green,
rust and dust
Growth requires time
in cold and darkness,
without light or warmth
that runs long and deep
in the bone before
it can truly begin.
This is true in botany
as well as in poetry.
Read the poetry of Phil Boiarski
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We Renew Our Vows in the Pres-
ence of the Auto-Wed Machine
(The Camera Obscura & World of Illusions,
Edinburgh. 30 April 2017)
Exit through the gift shop, but not before
you’ve descended the staircase that resounds
with whatever tune your footfalls create,
or been waylaid by the wedding machine –
don’t mind us. We’ll only be a minute.
We’re renewing our vows in the presence
of said coin-slot operated gizmo
for the not-so-princely sum of one pound
and I wonder by whose authority
its powers are vested? The guy who made
the chess-playing Turk? Skegness’s Jolly
Fisherman, the chuckles under control
and a more dignified sense of purpose?
Robbie the Robot, redundant, heartsore
for Anne Francis and quietly stacking
the scales, one tourist couple at a time,
against the loneliness of tin, glass, lights?
(Note: Yes, the machine is real: click here.)
Read the poetry of Neil Fulwood
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Light says nothing in passing.
It cannot last, cannot endure.
Light burns when it is purest,
when it escapes the spectacle.
Light can never last or hold fast.
When beauty least expects it,
light opens a door and escapes,
and after light, life goes out.
Beauty never plans for that.
Life leaves behind its ruin: death.
When light departs, life is taken
and happiness fails as well.
Light leaves both stars and lilies.
Both linger for a moment,
then go, like happiness,
into the twilight, the cold winter.
For just a moment light fills us,
burning purely, the summer in us,
but then comes evening, winter.
Light passes from us so silently.
Read the poetry of Will Reger
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A staircase waits to be stepped on,
skeleton keys linger to doors
which won’t open
and moss outlines present themselves,
newly-found under the welcome mat.
I’m haunted by the likeliness;
your movements swaying with the curtains,
and rings from coffee cups
A storm passes overhead
and crooked fence post eyes
follow us on the horizon.
Drag your fingernails through the night
swat them down like an astronaut,
For every sentence that resists
there is always a coin on your ear,
the dryness of your fingertips,
resting on some mantle,
a picture never to be taken.
I’ll trip on your wires,
mend them together
without my sewing needle,
stich ‘em up,
and drink from
And hope that
sooner or later,
on some other plane, another diagonal,
we’ll see each other again.
Read the poetry of Alyssa Trivett
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After Reading The Bell Jar
curl up like black paper,
burning like a moth;
a glove turned inside out,
trapped too under a house,
a circle hidden and musty;
fragile under steps,
let us escape the carrying,
legions of white coats;
corridors as long as life.
The Slaughter of Trees
searching for the perfect word on virginal paper
leads to the cut, to oaken tears, to a sorrow of yews;
then the unbalance; rowdy tracks of leaves and
branches: the pushing down against green bursts,
the mud and ways, as if we could find more truth
than the idle wind on a summer`s night, more than
just a hush, more than just a whisper, more than this
the night is the black down of a yearling
this sky a taunt of trailed stars,
let me spin in a frosty lane,
too fast to count
and throw the dark to ground
Read the poetry of Leslie Philibert
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Occasionally, in winter
Occasionally, in winter
I take a turn into some vast space
–an empty parking lot, a parade field–
shorn of summer frippery
and I’m there again, there
where each single blade of grass vibrates,
where every grain of sand trembles
and the sun,
terrible in its wintry beauty,
fights back the clouds,
never mind their insistence
on seasonal priority.
Hard to stay home on such days,
all the triviality of existence
concentrated in a mote of dust
poised by the window,
ready to make a run for it,
unaware of the relentless
inescapability of it.
Read the poetry of Mikels Skele
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What the Universe
Makes of Lingerie
It’s impossible to see a black bra
directly as no light can escape from it;
still there are supernovas, dark matter,
meteorites in its path. The black bra
understands its usefulness is overrated.
It’s problematic under a white
shirt of a white woman, unprofessional
peeking out of a blazer. To see
observational evidence of black bras
you do not need to borrow
the Hubble telescope to view the Hourglass
Nebula, their existence is well-supported,
a gravitational field so strong
nothing can escape. Black bras
can be found in the back of a Vega
between the vinyl seats. It is the star
the boy wishes on—he is never the master
of the unhook, Orion unfastening
his constellation belt. Let it remain
a mystery, something almost seen,
almost touched in a Galaxy. I’d call it
rocketworthy, but there is cosmic
censorship, naked singularities
to consider. The black bra has electric
charge, too close to the event horizon,
a man disappears in its loophole, escape
velocity equal to the speed of light.
Read the poetry of Kelli Russell Agodon
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The morning glory I cut in fury, wild tendrils
choking my careful plantings, strains to come back--
poking clover green through brown mulch,
making me pluck bad luck every week—pale
resilient stems and root hairs, deceptively meek.
I was meek, before I went mad—too easy to bury
in the shredded muck of my life. My variegated
mane, like a corpse’s, grew out in coffin darkness.
Tenacious follicles pulled me through rotting wood
and earth. I coughed up breath-bubbles of mercury.
Sixty percent water—and still I rise, I rise
with the carbon-paper blossoms of dawn,
the trammeled river glinting under new skies.
My face redevelops, a silver gelatin landscape
baring teeth like a mountain range,
pouring unforgiving sunlight from its eyes.
Read the poetry of Angele Ellis
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Lifts Her Like a Chalice
The weekday Mass at 6 a.m.
brings the old folks out
around the church.
They move like caterpillars
some with canes,
some on walkers.
Father Doyle says the Mass
and then goes back to the rectory
to care for his mother
who cannot move or speak
because of a stroke.
And every Sunday at noon
when the church is full,
Father Doyle, in full vestments,
wheels his mother
in a lump
down the middle aisle
and lifts her like a chalice
and places her in the front pew
before he ascends to the altar.
Sometimes at night,
when his mother's asleep,
Father Doyle comes back to the Church
and rehearses in the dark
three hymns she long ago
asked him to sing at her funeral.
He practices the hymns
because the doctor said
she could go at any time.
When that time comes,
he doesn't want to miss a note.
The last thing she ever said was
"Son, I'll be listening."
Read the poetry of Donal Mahoney
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to my love forever remaining:
we are temporary fluorescents in the downpour
in rhythm with the land,
whispering of dreams or passing as leaves
nightfall's vagabond breath
slips over the frayed orbit of its cares
with our kiss that melts the brightness of moon
i do not depend to live outside her witnessing
to the furious hours, the heart's alchemy, the
blood that runs through one for the other;
the bare torment
to feel real poets break each other
i want pulsing bodies 'neath smouldering
Read the poetry of Michelle Sho
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The doves visited every morning
in the spring and summer
came to the window sill and cooed
till we stopped what we were doing,
gave them our full attention.
Shy in their presence, I refused to kiss you
while they peered inside, shifting
from one leg to the other
bearing messages we couldn’t understand
until they grew bored
and flew away.
Nonetheless they comforted us—our day went better.
When you died, they stopped coming.
I haven’t seen them in years….
so much went out of my life when you ceased to be.
Read the poetry of Judith Dorian
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Cast Your Own Mountain
Mallory said, "Because it's there,"
Beckoning, an ageless pennant among
breathless air, that it should surrender.
Its presence, however, was nothing
outside Being. Mallory's invitation
was a recitation of desire,
The mountain swallowed him like a thought
on the verge of betrayal: un-ended portrayal
of the searching ire that
bewitches all but the best.
Look up to the North Col,
to the North East ridge and summit;
the frosted rocks and snow like a torn blouse
sheltering the scripture of that skin beyond time,
beyond fascination of one life
that alone of all the powers,
imagination can devour.
Read the poetry of Gareth Spark
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Your voice was
frozen in acid,
thawing out at dawn
in the Nevada desert.
Your embrace was
a pair of gravity boots within
an exercise in weightlessness.
Your walk was
like a time machine slowing
detail, casting a magnifying lens
Your wit was
like one magpie being joined
broken shells hanging
from beak as the sun sets.
Your words rest
within this vacant mansion
of my heart;
marionettes with their strings
laid to rest.
Inanimate but present.
Read the poetry of Rushika Wick
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On a clear night
I should see the moon full silver
in a sky shot by moonbeams.
Not greyed by a smoky mist
and dust clouds rising from the ruins.
I should see a black, black sky.
Not bright from the orange glow
from the fires of hell on earth.
Which send sparks high enough
to compete with the stars,
the pinpoint moonbeam spangles.
Not beamed by lasers.
I should hear the silence
in the depth of the black night,
not the explosive cacophony
brought by the masters of war
and the silent screams
buried in the rubble.
I should hear people talking in the street
and the music and laughter of the night.
I should see them walking home
to feel firm flesh loving and soft
unsplintered and unblemished by shrapnel,
unbroken by the metal clad monsters
masquerading as humanity and
wrapping themselves in the uniforms
of a thousand years old myths
dressed up as history.
These should be my rights.
But they aren’t.
I have no rights.
Nor do you.
Only what they give us,
the men of the flags,
Read the poetry of Lynn White
Read a profile of Lynn White
they say of shame that it's capacity stays with you forever
and that's why I keep my poems in boxes. Because you never
know when you might rise from the gurney they've strapped you
to before lethal injection needing an Al Green or
Coltrane album, only to stumble across something you've loved.
Only that what you thought was black pepper was
mouse droppings, but for that brief moment you pretended
that black pepper could magically walk itself into your
upstairs attic, course through the shackling of those last words
and sprinkle itself onto what remains of sentiment and confession.
What unwilling role will I play in the afterlife?
What nomad will I meet carrying large cakes of salt
to trade for the poem I wrote in 86 of thirst? I dreamed.
I loved, sometimes hard. I cried out loud with the
others who's fragile hearts the mouse too, treaded on.
Read the poetry of Dana Rushin
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from Selected Haiku
listen to the sound
silence echoes all around
quiet in the wood
moon between pine trees
silence echoes all around
quiet in the wood
no need to see it
hear the rain on tall grass
air is electric
sun slid down the sky
slow moon rising takes it's place
respite from the world.
Read the poetry of Thomas Canull
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You left your eyes on my mirror in the hall.
Maybe you forgot to take them, you know, when you left.
They follow us sometimes as we leave the room
or enter it.
We stare, as if in a contest, you and I,
as I get myself out the door.
You see me there, you know, that part of you.
Your touch is hanging around on my couch,
by that pillow, you know,
the one from that woman who sewed while you drank wine.
It folds now, that pillow,
divides into itself all lumpy and clayish,
molding one by one into who we are right then,
In case you're missing your soul, it's hanging
around your bookcase keeping company
with Henry James, all dusty and uneven, you know,
like a Summer Afternoon,
It mingles at times by the radio
or gets tangled by the cat like a kite in a tree.
Your voice is saved on my phone.
I should take it and hide it somewhere.
Can I store it in my head and will it stay?
I believe the things you've told me
in wordless words and nothing said.
The sky is still on top, I can see it you know,
the cloudless clouds all real and not,
misty, fresh, always there.
Read the poetry of Amy Soricelli
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This is the land of freedom of choice:
Coke or Pepsi,
light beer or dark,
less filling, tastes great,
Republican or Democrat,
horse manure, cow manure,
America is now a pie
divided into eight slices,
but, there are twelve at the table,
and three of them want seconds.
It’s all a game.
George and Martha never had a son.
Truth and illusion;
it doesn’t make a difference,
we still sit in the waiting room
Money is the new Messiah,
greed is the national creed,
“In G-O-D (gold, oil & dollars) we trust,”
but, credit cards are accepted.
The government of the people
has been bought and sold.
It’s strictly business,
The heart of America
the blood clotted,
no longer red,
by the pacemaker
of public opinion.
And still there are those that believe
that the only real American patriots
are true blue and white
or least act white,
and all the stars
are in Hollywood.
Read the poetry of Peter V. Dugan
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What keeps me awake at night
lulls you to sleep at ten.
There are ten bars more,
but I can’t sleep.
There is a key change,
but I won’t hear it.
I can’t keep up with the tempo
I have forgotten all the words.
Things are changing too fast for me
shifting when I’m sitting
I’d get up, but I’m so down.
That’s how the blues go: I’m so down.
Who knows what repeats--
what keeps me away at night,
Lulls you, lullabies you.
Read he poetry of DeMisty D. Bellinger
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A Poem Found
Beneath a Tree
I like to think of it as
A king in a bed who
Never wakes up. A kiss
Good-night and then that is
All… slipping away in
The dead of night. A
King, once. Or
The lone splash of lines falling
Into cold mountain water that
Came from a frozen pond by
A mill that ground stone from
An old mine with loose, lean
Floor boards. So much
Time and memories of trains
On tracks that creep across
Mountain-sides that we cannot
Take anymore. Just the sound
Of birds in bushes and the
Soft rustling off of little pale
Forms that whisper of
Time in bottles that we float
Read the poetry of Matthew Henningsen
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At the Edge of Vision
How does one walk
with her body appropriated
for use in pieces?
My skin makes me a caricature
passing through your streets,
a stereotype of humanity;
my sex, my skin-
make me a conquest,
a curiosity. I have
the anonymity of the homeless-
The person most watched,
but never seen. The invisible one
of greatest visibility.
Presence without belonging,
I remain at the edges
of knowing, without
finding a center of power.
A mind whose ideas
are not formed or presented
in the mandated format.
A mouth without a voice. An artist
of Life, without an exhibition.
I stand at the border,
at the convergence of all things,
under the protection of the night,
where you cannot see
my otherness. And I stay here-
shedding my hopes
like so much clothing of a size
arranging fragments into
something that resembles a woman.
Once again. Looking for the door
that will make me feel-
Read the poetry of Marie Anzalone
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