Bio: Lindsay Soberano-Wilson’s debut full-length poetry collection, Hoods of Motherhood (Prolific Pulse Press LLC, May 2023) is a homage to women who had to learn to nurture themselves the way they nurture others. As the editor of Put It To Rest, a mental health magazine, she believes in writing poetry and essays to put personal stories to rest. Her hybrid poetry chapbook, Casa de mi Corazón (2021), explores how her sense of community, Jewish Canadian identity, and home was shaped by travel. Her poems have appeared in Fine Lines Literary Journal,Embrace of Dawn, Poetry 365, Fevers of the Mind, PoetryPause, Quills Erotic Canadian Poetry Magazine, Canadian Woman Studies Journal, Running with Scissors, Fresh Voices and Poetica Magazine. She holds a MA (English) and a BEd from the University of Toronto, and a BA (Creative Writing) from Concordia University. Find her on Medium,Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok. Lindsaysoberano.com
Like A Muse In A Cage inspired by Leonard Cohen (prev. published in Marlene in a Pub)
Like a muse in a cage like a drunk in a midnight choir I have tried in my way to be free.
Like a ballerina teetering on a music box like a skunk stuck in an hour I have tried in my way to be free.
Like an aloof armadillo in an explosion like a translucent paper nautilus exposed I have tried in my way to be free.
But even when my heart spills like black squid ink upon a page my essence remains chained.
But you swore on that song and all you had done wrong that you would make it up to me.
You said that together we would be free. But the world’s handprints are still on me.
Like Suzanne inspired by Leonard Cohen (previously published in Marlene in a Pub)
I always wanted to be like Suzanne feeding men tea and oranges by the river like a siren or one of Cohen’s lovers shacked up in Hydra like the Paris ex-pats buzzing around abstract words and images.
But then that would somehow mean that I would also be in love with a man who struggled to love because he struggled to love himself.
But does that matter?
Does it matter that he didn’t love in their way in the right way but in his way and was it not better than no way.
Is it not better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?
I still want to be Suzanne free to love how and whomever she wants because she’s tameless and irresistible… because “you touched her perfect body with your mind.”
When Purple Rain Is Falling As Dove’s Cry, Let’s Go Crazy In The Sky… inspired by Prince (previously published in Put It To Rest)
When purple rain is falling, falling, dropping, fast, furious, and then slowly maybe even a bit deliriously from the open sky…
Letting it all out just you, the little old world, and I.
That’s when we find it’s okay to say let’s go crazy despite the tsunami elevator we ride up and down side to side but that doesn’t mean we have to slide.
As Prince says: “I’m not gonna let de-elevator Bring us down Oh, no let’s go.”
Blood Orange Heart inspired by Portishead (prev. published in iPoetry)
She’s so tired, tired of being a temptress tired of playing, playing with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
That pierced her pierced soul draining her heart like the sweet juices of a blood orange in a serial killer’s hands
Until there’s nothing but dried fruit because her heart is of no more use just a fragmented fragment of what it used to be as she slips on an orange peel before locking it in the glory box:
“Leaving it to the other girls to play.”
Oh, it didn’t have to be this way, she laments as she eats the blood orange by the light of the full moon in full bloom.
Soak Up the Sun inspired by Sheryl Crow (published in iPoetry)
It’s quiet today but only because it was loud yesterday.
Will it be quiet tomorrow?
Or only until I hear a tune looming to some familiar doom.
Where I can easily grasp the will behind the deed. In the trick mirror: the figure reflects in pleated baggies. The nervous player the novelty shooter aims a breach load. At the steel blue ducks across a manmade lake. Where I lingered with a same whorl show on my finger. They tell me abracadabra they tell me hocus pocus. The rules only fall away after the paint’s chipped. Once I had a house once I had to laugh. Withdrawal from enmity is rocks and hard places. Copies of that substance smarten up a dead mind. It was early next it’s late. Walking Woodlawn Cemetery in the midst of another grave.
It’s the time of rising tide this time of day, tide rises. Have the time of your life during the rise of the tides. While I was much younger time came as a curved line. How a body adds on time Tim is a kind of world the world always sees. The only thing in the world that the world is sure to see. Loving as crooked, comely as unusual. Feeling best described, whenever you stalled. Goes hand in hand, with respect to age These are the entities whose tones of voice, go straight to the bone. They provide the opportunity for an argument with instinct.
II For the most part, it’s been expected, he will live longer. For lacking appetite any life can’t go on. Back to the wall, reaping the fruit of his neighbors. As ten commandments don’t cover everything. As the way he thinks pertains to his needs. Holding out the hope,
for things less sacred he wants you to give whatever he wanted. If you dare to accuse him he’ll get busy protesting, the last eclipse of the sun.
Bio: Michael Igoe, neurodiverse city boy, Chicago now Boston, recovery staff at Boston University Center For Psych Rehab. Many works appear in journals online and print. Recent: Spare Change News(Cambridge MA), thebluenib.com, minerallit.com. Avalanches In Poetry Anthology@amazon.com. National Library Of Poetry Editor’s Choice For 1997. Twitter: MichaelIgoe5. poetryinmotion416254859.wordpress.com. Urban Realism, Surrealism. I like the Night.
Bio: Colleen Wells writes poetry and creative nonfiction. Her work has appeared in several anthologies, magazines and journals. She is the author of Dinner with Doppelgangers – A True Story of Madness and Recovery and Animal Magnetism.
Out of Chaos Comes Art
Once dubbed manic-depression,
bipolar disorder is a potent malady,
that wreaks havoc, making the ordered
brain disorderly, a broken puzzle.
Of the psychiatric disorders
in the DSM-IV,
it is a machine gun.
Sadness engulfed in inertia
psychosis destroying marriages,
addled in fear.
A friend of mine who
shares the affliction
streaked through his yard
like a white, hot comet.
Lithium, Lorazepam, Loxapine,
Wellbutrin, Depakote, Haldol,
Mellaril, Seroquel, Abilify.
And don’t forget the Prozac.
I’ve swallowed them all
to regulate my moods.
Genetic or environmental factors?
The uncertainty belies the certainty
that without them,
some of the greatest writing
would be missing:
bled poetry in the blue hours
before dawn, then stuck
her head in the oven,
Two orphaned children,
left in her wake,
one to wonder,
another to follow suit.
Hemingway was silenced with a gun,
leaving behind his stark, limpid prose
and a family
to pick up the pieces
like gathered river rocks
that started as sand.
“Dearly Beloved, we are Gathered here Today…
An Homage to a Legend also on Nuvo.Net
By Colleen Wells
At ten years old, two records I probably shouldn’t have been listening to found me: Dirty Mind and Controversy. I’m certain when I saw the cover of Dirty Mind, my little girl eyes got as big as flying saucers. My experience with that record left me yearning for more. At the time, I wasn’t aware Prince was a burgeoning star with other records from the late 1970s already blazing trails behind him. His debut album For You was released in 1978 followed by Prince in 1979. This misguided notion evinced an intimate setting on a stage I’d be on for the rest of my life because I felt as though I had discovered him before anyone else.
After church on Sundays, I faithfully listened to Casey Kasem announce the weekly top 40 hits. I wrote all of the song titles and artists down in a series of little black journals and endured every cheesy long-distance dedication, sometimes so heartfelt they made me cry, to get to the number one song. I was always rooting for a specific artist’s song to claim that coveted position.
Once I placed the Dirty Mind album on my shitty record player, the kind that shuts like a small piece of luggage, sitting next to my Sea-Monkeys, everything changed. When I heard, “Uptown,” “When You Were Mine,” and “Head,” there was something sacred welling up inside me as if I were a plant discovering my own root system. Listening to Casey Kasem’s top 40 was a ritual I did after church, but this music I had tapped into was church.
A few years later, in 1984, “When Doves Cry” hit #1. The song reached the top ten again, coming in at #8, after Prince died. In numerology, eight is a power number and Prince was into numerology and astrology. He put a ton of thought into his symbol which has elements of both, including a backwards seven, which is known to be spiritual. Gemini, the sign of the twins, is also incorporated as the male and female symbols. Prince, born on June 7, 1958, is a Gemini, a sign marking creative, imaginative, communicative types.
Back then, in Noblesville, Indiana, my small hometown, I could count the number of black people who lived there on my fingers. It was the polar opposite of Prince’s Minneapolis, a major city and fertile ground for musicians and artists. What exactly had I discovered behind my bedroom door in 1980? First, I recognized the guitar was different. There was this thunk-plunk-funk sound as if he was not only playing guitar but getting ready to bitch slap the strings at the same time. It felt playful, experimental, and confident all at once. I knew, but in the moments of joyful listening I forgot that something unexpected was just around the corner, like being startled in a fun haunted house.
I began to understand that when Prince was playing an instrument it was an extension of himself, emanating from his soul. I would later learn he could play twenty-seven instruments, some say as many as forty, with prolific genius. Even as a child, I felt like a puppet when I listened, the music pulling me by an invisible string, commanding movement.
Second, his rich, sexy voice was unusual. I knew he was using it in a manner I had never heard on Kasem’s lists. What I now understand to be range, and Prince had a wide one, explains why he could sound so animalistic. His transitions from hyena to lion were seamless. Prince.org explains it this way: “Prince had the technique to reach G1, as his lowest note, and C7, as his highest note.” The site has a chart that illustrates how other notes which “aren’t necessarily a part of his vocal range, as they weren’t reached with reliable technique… makes Prince's vocal range a total of 5 octaves and 5 semitones. If we count questionable notes, it would be 6 octaves and 4 semitones.”
As if his vocal calisthenics and mastery over his instruments weren’t enough, at the top of the trinity were his lyrics. While Dirty Mind and Controversy had albums preceding them, the two records were the perfect introduction to my lifelong relationship with Prince.
MUSIC & LYRICS
Many of Prince’s early songs open with a story of an impending, scandalous hook-up. The very first time I heard those songs, I anxiously awaited what was going to happen next.
“When I met you, baby, you were on your way to be wed. You were such a sexy thing. I loved the way you walked, the things you said,” the singer croons in “Head.” Those lyrics struck me, in part, because the Catholic church I attended every Sunday taught us to take the holy sacraments seriously. Prince was about to crash a wedding in a whole new way.
The narrative in my head of Prince and me was blossoming. As a young girl crashing into early adolescence, I was more than aware of his sexual appeal, and I felt he was teaching me through his lyrics how one day I too could feel just as sexy and free.
Dressed in only high cut black underwear, a jacket with studs on one shoulder, and a bandana, it was easy to assume what the guy on the cover of my Dirty Mind album was singing about. He was about to do it with the woman in the song. In some sense, I wanted to be that woman.
If “Head” was an instruction manual for ways to view sex, “Uptown” was an anthem for how to be free to express who we are and harness the power of non-judgment, not just in terms of sexuality, but in attitude, style, and in one’s human essence in general. And it was packaged as an invitation; I felt like I had been invited to a huge dance party in the streets, and even though the people would be different from me, I was still welcome.
“Uptown,” with its upbeat tempo, helped reinforce the golden rule that we should love one another despite…despite what? Despite nothing else. There is no reason not to. This is the purity we are born with before we get polluted by what we are exposed to. “Now where I come from, we don’t let society tell us how it’s supposed to be. Our clothes, our hair, we don’t care. It’s all about being there.” I didn’t know where “there” was, but I wanted to arrive at that place, and the sooner, the better.
My life as a kid pretty much sucked. I sometimes compare it to The Brady Bunch on a bad acid trip. Prince became my lifeline into the world of imagination. I learned to question things and not buy into fear and bias.
In the album, Controversy, Prince wears a mauve jacket, again with silver studding on one shoulder, a white tuxedo style shirt, and a black tie and vest. His gorgeous doe-like eyes pop against all these accents and he looks serious, maybe even a little upset. Behind him is a hodge-podge of newsprint with headlines referencing some of the content on the album. There’s an attitude exuding from his countenance which was different from his image on Dirty Mind. The title song opens with the lines: “I just can’t believe all the things people say. Controversy. Am I black or white, am I straight or gay? Do I believe in God, do I believe in me? Controversy.”
In just a few lines Prince hit on the most divisive identifiers of people—race, sexuality, and religion. I was too inexperienced to really understand how these themes were so deeply rooted and interwoven into our culture. If ever there was a song of the times in response to the signs of the times, “Controversy” would be it. Yet “Annie Christian,” another track on the album, would have a hauntingly more meaningful impact many years later.
IF THERE AIN’T NO JUSTICE, THEN THEIR AIN’T NO PEACE
As an adult who adopted three black children, I became well versed in how racist some Americans can be. I awoke to a higher level of awareness on May 25, 2020, when in Minneapolis, the city where Prince lived and died, George Floyd, a citizen, was murdered by four police officers.
When I was younger, I sensed the discord in the Annie Christian song: “Annie Christian was a whore always looking for some fun. Being good was such a bore, so she bought a gun, she killed John Lennon, shot him down cold. She tried to kill Reagan, everybody say gun control. Gun control!” At that time, all I knew was Annie Christian was not a good person. Now I recognize one interpretation of the song as the tale of what happens when individuals strive for some sort of recognition through killing.
While the motivation for killing Floyd may not have been the same as the interpretation of those lyrics, a white cop killed a black man, and the video went viral. I could not comprehend what kind of Annie Christian lurked in the souls of Chauvin and the three other police officers responsible for George Floyd’s death.
Floyd’s death triggered memories of racist events that have occurred in the lives of my kids who are now young adults. From the time a soccer goalie said to my daughter, “Get out of here you little n***er” as she approached the net, to when my son, who wasn’t driving, was asked to get out of the car at a traffic stop while his white friend, the driver, was not.
Minneapolis, Prince’s beloved hometown, is forever stained by George Floyd’s murder.
Prince was a fiercely independent individual and just the kind of visionary and citizen Minneapolis could use right about now. I wonder how he would have responded. His family’s roots are in the Louisiana slave trade. He spoke out about MTV’s policy of only playing videos by black musicians late at night. Part of his mission was to fight for artists to gain control over the rights to their music. He appeared with the word “slave” on his face and went by his symbol–the artist formerly known as Prince–in protest of such. He spoke out about chemtrails and other controversial issues before his untimely death.
According to Dan Piepenbring, who co-authored his memoir, The Beautiful Ones, Prince planned to use his scaled back microphone and piano tour in smaller venues to speak out against oppression and corruption. He would have responded publicly about the death of George Floyd. His song “Baltimore” was a rallying cry to end police brutality there after Freddie Gray died from injuries while in police custody.
I wish we could hear what Prince would have had to say.
Prince, who largely taught himself everything he knew about music, used his artistry to express what he wanted for himself and for the people. He wasn’t part of a broken-up boy band battling for more fame than the disenfranchised members, more hit songs or the procurement of one another’s girlfriends. He made music for the masses. He “wish[ed] there was no black and white he wish[ed] there were no rules,” and he definitely made up his own along the way.
I WANT MY MTV
“When Doves Cry” hit number one on the music charts in early July, 1984 and ran for five weeks in that coveted spot. The MTV music video gave me a bird’s eye view of my hero emerging from a white claw-foot bathtub beckoning with his finger. It also included footage from the movie Purple Rain: Prince decked out in black from head to toe riding his motorcycle with Apollonia, his character’s love interest. I longed to be Apollonia and visualized that it was me riding on the back of his bike.
As time went on, Apollonia played not only Prince’s love interest on screen, but off. When I had to select a saint’s name to receive the sacrament of confirmation, I chose her name. At first, I was kidding, then I was delighted to discover Apollonia is the patron saint of teeth! To this day I can say “Look Mom, no cavities!”
My family did not have cable television, but my best friend Susan’s family did. I would often get off the school bus at her house, eat Buddig meat and Cheez Whiz sandwiches on Wonder Bread, and fill up on the eye candy of MTV. She was bonkers for Duran Duran and had her own faux romance with the band’s front man, Simon Le Bon. If it makes me look like less of an idiot for choosing Prince’s girlfriend’s name, Susan’s confirmation name is Claire, chosen because actress and model, Claire Stansfield, was LeBon’s fiancée at the time. For a couple of teen girls who, prior to this, had Shawn Cassidy and before that Jimmy Osmond to consider, things sure were getting a lot more interesting.
When the film Purple Rain was released later in July of 1984, I saw it over the next several weeks 17 times, and it was not easy for a 14-year-old kid to get into an R rated film back then. I was creative and I was dedicated.
APRIL 1, 1985, MARKET SQUARE ARENA
The year was 1985, and I was going to see Prince and his Purple Rain tour in downtown Indianapolis at Market Square Arena. Apollonia 6 and Sheila E. were going to be with him. Unfortunately, he was rumored to have dated both of them. I had gotten tickets and a ride, but there were issues. I was going with my boyfriend and my best friend, Susan, but I wasn’t allowed to date. I was only 14.
Moreover, I had to come up with a reason why I was going to be gone so long, so I just told my parents I was going to stay at Susan’s and let her deal with deluding her dad as to where we were going. She told him we had to go to a classmate’s choir concert. It was as close to the truth as we were going to get.
My boyfriend seemed nervous. He knew we weren’t allowed to go to the show, plus Susan and I can be a handful. He was also well aware of my near Prince obsession, which could sometimes be awkward.
Inside MSA, we found our seats; I was in seat 4, section 16R, Row AA. Prince mesmerized me from the time he took to the stage, opening with “Let’s Go Crazy.” It was an explosive show, and he ended with a second encore, singing “Purple Rain.” At one point he was gyrating on the floor, just like in the movie. I loved how he grabbed the microphone like he was pissed at it.
PAISLEY PARK IS IN YOUR HEART (OR THERE AREN’T ANY RULES IN PAISLEY PARK)
Fast Forward to January 2017, roughly 30 years after Paisley Park opened, Susan and I went to Prince’s beloved home in Chanhassen, Minnesota. The hulking 65,000 square foot structure looked like a cross between the headquarters for a high-tech company and living quarters for a contemporary cult. The exterior was white with a round dome at the top of one of the building’s wings. It seemed mysterious and endless.
In 1987 when he moved in, it would have offered more privacy, but the area is now built up with office parks and residential areas nearby. I can’t picture him riding his motorcycle nude in the early dawn hours as he is said to have done there.
Inside an entryway, we gathered with our cheerful tour guide who led us past a wall of gold and platinum albums to a grand foyer where the ceiling looked like it joined with the clouds. I felt an odd pull to a central part of the floor and stood shrouded in energy. That’s when the guide told us his ashes were housed straight above us. I moved silently aside and turned away when the tears came.
I felt pockets of energy throughout Paisley Park. There was a heavy contemplative feeling in his office, less so throughout the more museum-like areas such as where his cars are on display, or various exhibits related to epochs of his career. I paused at a display of one of his custom-made outfits. He was so small and yet so fiercely mighty.
There are music studios inside Paisley Park. In fact, recording at home and having the ability to jam with friends was a major goal of Prince’s when he had Paisley Park constructed.
It was in the largest studio where I had my meltdown. We were ushered into the huge room with gleaming floors and beefy sound equipment. There were partitioned mini sound studios in the corners where Prince could collaborate with others, but those musicians could be in their own studio within the large space. I was overwhelmed, and felt he was in the room standing next to me. Had he really jammed with both Lenny Kravitz and Stevie Wonder in this studio?
I walked to a corner and wept.
Because he had such an impact on me throughout my life, when Prince died I compartmentalized my grief. When I learned of the tragedy, I was unable to cry. Shock lasted for a while. In fact, my sister-in-law, Betty, lives not too far from Minneapolis. I asked her for the local newspapers recounting his death. Knowing how well he was loved there, I decided that would be the first news I would digest. And yet, once the papers arrived in the mail, it seemed too official; I did not open the envelopes. To this day, I have not read the Minneapolis papers outlining what was lost on April 21, 2016.
Prince’s discography consists of thirty-nine albums. He was nominated for 38 Grammys and brought home seven. There is said to also be enough music in his vault to release a yearly album for 100 years according to the New York Daily News. In that way, his music really does live on.
It’s been over six years since his death. Prince would have celebrated his 64th birthday on June 7. It’s still hard to fathom he is gone. I know I’m not alone. No musical icon I know of in recent history has been grieved so expressively as Prince. From the Forum in Los Angeles to the Eiffel Tower, cities across the world lit buildings purple for Prince. Niagra Falls turned purple. A Delta flight from LA to Minneapolis bathed the cabin in purple light, and countless billboards sprung up around the country paying homage to Prince. Closer to home, the Indianapolis Power and Light Company went purple, and so did the South Bend river lights.
I like to hope the opening lines from “Let’s Go Crazy,” of one of his most beloved songs are prophetic:
We are gathered here today
To get through this thing called life
Electric word, Life
It means forever, and that’s a mighty long time
But I’m here to tell you
There’s something else
A world of never ending happiness
Where you can always see the sun, day, or night
Within the palm of Miles DavisFrom a 1986 photograph by Irving Penn
You can feel the grooves
all the notes created from
exhausted breaths, of his
lips chapped gold on his
glowing instrument, gripping
sounds trying to capture music—
by coloring the air canvas
with new notes he creates
in the gust of improvisation,
always chasing the rhythm that
eludes him— under the sweat
of spotlight, overcoming
calluses, he reaches for
creations exhale, when
he blows, Davis loves
the taste of inspiration
inside his mouth, making
out with masterpieces
in the middle of his solo—
with so many miles to go
his trumpet never sleeps.
Midnight at Newnham Gardens
Sylvia loved speaking poetry
to the sculpted boy and dolphin,
splashing in Cambridge winter
silence, as she moved her shivered
lips speaking to something who
could listen without accents. She
loved to daydream within the snow
globe shadows. Plath would make
up naturally blessed Ariel verses
and the boy would glow statuesque—
frozen marble eyes would attract
her night after night, not saying
much ears open waiting to hear
her sneaker footsteps, standing
in front of her quiet friend was
her favorite solitude, conversations
sharing December breaths alone, when
she spoke in whispered Winthrop,
Massachusetts rhymes, Plath
would beautifully melt icicles.
Chewing midnight sojurn,
Sylvia loved listening
Trying to decipher all
the frozen London voices—
buried in the moonlit snow.
Driving us, Floating Uptown
Bluntly passing joints
watching the street
car, car stereo loudly
imagines Bob Dylan
between us, almost floating
on the grassy median
while on this short
mind trip, you drove us
Uptown on St. Charles
Avenue, the trees
are colorful carnival
with Mardi Gras beads
hanging on every
branch. As I reach
from the car window,
wishing I could grab
one but as you signal
to turn the car onto
your street. I can feel
my munchies kick in,
remembering the laughter
when we smoked out,
it was not just getting high,
passing me the joint,
there was this unspoken
joy of two buddies
lifted, sitting on his
couch listening to Dylan’s
Man of Constant Sorrow,
two po boys munching
down on our favorite
Magazine St. sandwiches,
minds stoned sharing
so many silence of moments—
although I’ve forgotten
so many NOLA nights,
shows at Tipitinas, State
Palace Theatre raves,
free movie passes at
Canal Place Prytania,
pizza slices/ SIN discount
drinks at Club Decatur—
I always remember
cotton mouth contagious,
like howlin’ wolves
lifting our spirits,
bottled beers next
to a buddy in a smoky
room, with minds in
the clouds, always
missing the jubilant
uptown banter, bongs
between us, lyrically
lighting one up,
in an afternoon daze,
with my buddy Keefer
the high always transcends.
Only the wind can truly kiss me
“I was coming apart. / They loved me until/ I was gone”
— Anne Sexton
Some nights, I sleepwalk
on the beach, waking up
quivering, knowing this
is where my often maltreated
body loves to feel the chills
rippling against my robe,
my naked skin. My face loves
the way the gust could reach
deeper, each breeze against
my cheeks, the gale kisses
wildly like no man’s lips
never dared to reach—
the wind never takes me,
she blows inviting thoughts
so cool, revealing the only
time I feel naturally blushing
without make up, just me—
my eyes closed loving how
much the tempest winds match
each storming burst tempting
so beautifully disrobing me
from my inside.
(If I had) Five Minutes with Marilyn MonroeFrom a 1955 photograph by Ed Feingersh at Costello’s Restaurant, NYCI would light up more than her cigarette,
and her soft inquisitives smile. I would
sit across the booth and encourage her
not to only focus on silver dreams, attractions
becoming only on theatre screens. Instead
of centerfold, photoshoots, exposing more
than skin, show all your body, volumes
printed from the spine. Remember Sandburg,
Miller, Capote’s gift? You too can expose sharing
every imperfect scar, have your legacy so brave
on the page, each line you bare engraved like
a lyrical kiss. So many dreaming to touch
you, why not reach out with words from afar?
Reflecting your verses connecting so much
closer, circulating each of your most secret
fragments, pieces, crumpled ink stains
see through markings; underneath your flashing
beauty reveals the most captivating poetry
a voice of siren, that star is you.
At Marilyn's grave
like the roses glowing
on your wall, despite
everyone who doubted
you, those who could
never see beyond your
beauty, your life, a poem,
like the most perfect
rhyme, in eternity’s
spotlight, Norma Jeane even
my shuttering camera knows
you will outlive us all.
Bio: Adrian Ernesto Cepeda is the author of Flashes & Verses… Becoming Attractions from Unsolicited Press, Between the Spine from Picture Show Press, Speaking con su Sombra with Alegría Publishing, La Belle Ajar & We Are the Ones Possessed from CLASH Books and his 6th poetry collection La Lengua Inside Me will be published by FlowerSong Press in 2023.
Adrian lives with his wife in Los Angeles with their adorably spoiled cat Woody Gold.
Bio: Jason Ryberg is the author of eighteen books of poetry,
six screenplays, a few short stories, a box full of folders,
notebooks and scraps of paper that could one day be
(loosely) construed as a novel, and, a couple of angry
letters to various magazine and newspaper editors.
He is currently an artist-in-residence at both
The Prospero Institute of Disquieted P/o/e/t/i/c/s
and the Osage Arts Community, and is an editor
and designer at Spartan Books. His latest collection
of poems is The Great American Pyramid Scheme
(co-authored with W.E. Leathem, Tim Tarkelly and
Mack Thorn, OAC Books, 2022). He lives part-time
in Kansas City, MO with a rooster named Little Red
and a billygoat named Giuseppe and part-time somewhere
in the Ozarks, near the Gasconade River, where there are also
many strange and wonderful woodland critters.
The Island of Lost Personal Items and Effects
He told us he came from the Island
of Lost Personal Items and Effects
and handed me an ancient cigar box
lined and padded with crumpled receipts
and scraps of scratch-paper with phone numbers
and addresses hastily scrawled on them.
In it were nested keys, gloves, driver’s licenses, sunglasses,
and three fairly expensive-looking Zippo lighters.
Whenever he closed and reopened the lid,
different items would be contained inside:
pens, cell-phones and wedding rings, earrings
and cufflinks, pocket-knives and pocket-watches.
He carried a fancy oriental parasol
which he claimed gave him the power of flight
and wore hip-waders which he said allowed him
to stroll freely around in the fabled River of Time
as often as he liked (and with little fear
of being pulled under and swept away
by its notorious undercurrents).
He also had an old cane pole
strung with telegraph wire which he baited with
glittering baby dreams to lure variations of the Truth
(in all its slippery countenances and for his own
personal and unspecified use, I would assume).
The candlelight in our kitchen made his shadow
dance a curious dance along the opposite wall and
made his face seem like the face of a grinning
bone china Buddha.
When he got up to leave he stopped and said to us,
I wouldn’t put too many of my eggs (golden or
otherwise) in with planets and stars, nor with lucky
numbers and fortunes, no more than I would
on dogs and horses ...
We never saw him again.
Big Sister Wind
Man oh man, only 10am and I can tell you already, gonna
be one o’ them days when the temperature’s climbin’
steady and the air is a thick and heavy sludge. One o’ them
days when the neighbor’s always-yappin’ mutts lay
neutralized and sprawled about and all the birds refuse to
budge, when the sun and the ground aspire to conspire to
boil us down and sweat us out into the churning, bubbling
atmospheric soup above. But Big Sister Wind with her
gears and cranks and her cast-iron tanks and her pneumatic,
automatic, operatic bellow-fulls of cool basso-profundo
aint never gonna let it go that way (well, not today, anyway).
Dinner With the Devil (Sleight Return)
Without so much as a warning, an unwarranted weather-front
of attitude is just now swoopin’ down; yes, a dark and snarly
storm (with roots reaching deep beneath the norm) is about
to come biblically floodin’ out from some meta-psychic-al
steel drum into this tiny china tea-cup of a town.
wind is nervously squirming and moaning and pacing around,
lookin’ for a quiet corner to piss in. And over at the Congo
Room (way out there by the tracks), the Stoics are demanding
that the Taoists let them pass, but the Taoists are just hangin’
ten, man, cuz those guys know when it’s all been done and
said, neither they nor we nor you nor them ever beats The
House: naw man, no one ever really wins (you just hope to
cut your losses and call the whole thing even).
knows (that is, everyone that’s in the know), the Devil, he’s out
there cat-scratchin’ somewhere, shuckin’ and jivin’ and makin’
the rounds, hemmin’ and hawin’ and playin’ the clown in the
ever-increasingly sinister most interior of a broken-down
He’s rackin’ balls and talkin’ trash, punchin’ tunes
and pinchin’ ass, tryin’ to sniff out a good time or maybe just
shadowin’ the sidelines, sippin’ on a scotch-and-soda, chewin’
out a toothy grin.
Yeah, he’s rode into town on crow’s wings
and a cloud of Oklahoma dust and he knows just what to
say and do to turn the burner up a touch (beneath a city
already close to boiling over with ids and egos and ill-
And the wing’d monkeys are circlin’, and all
your sources and connections are layin’ low, and the cops
are all out in force tonight, and the city’s fixin’ to explode.
But, as everybody knows (that is, everyone who’s anyone
who’s even slightly in the know), Taoists never spill their
drinks crossin’ a crowded room, and if you’re gonna dine
with the Devil, brothers and sisters, better bring yourself
a long motherfuckin’ spoon.
Truly a Feast
a serious swinging
in her stride,
a flurious fountain
of sparks in her skull,
and a rich ruby radiance
through her veins:
truly a feast
for the hands,
and the mind’s
x-ray eye, as well.
will someone tell me
how the hell
I’m supposed to crack
of her hypnotic
Mr. Grey Skies (Sleight Redux)
Don’t you come ‘round here, no more, Mr. Grey Skies,
Mr. No-Heart-And-All-Lies, Mr. Fork’d-Tongue-And-
Snak’d-Eyes, with your no-more tomorrows and your
low-down tonights, your goat’s feet and your crow’s
wings and your icicle-daggers always refracting a, some-
how, unnatural light, your gibbering devil-monkeys and
third-rate conspiracies and your spindly spider-web
dreams spinning from the fat, under-belly of night. No
one wants to see your cockroach of a heart pinned to
your sleeve. No one wants to smell the unhealthy funk
of your ragman’s bag of miseries. No one here wants any-
thing to do with what you got to offer, Mr. Black Hand
Man. So, get your shit-house rats and your loaded dice,
your hangman’s noose and your butcher’s knife, then,
take two steps back and turn away, turn away, turn away
from the river of life (in which you may never, ever again
step twice). Now go get your shine-box, boy, pack your
bags and PUT THE GLASS DICK DOWN! Go wait
shamefully at the station (with a dumb look on your
face) for the last bus out of town. And you best not be
seen creepin’ ‘round here no more you dirty little whore,
Mr. Grey Skies, Mr. River-Of-Tears-And-Halo-Of-Flies,
Tries. No-sir-ee, Stagger Lee, from this day forth I break
with thee, I break with thee, I break with thee. I reclaim
the body, mind and soul that I once mortgaged to thee.
I spit fire at your cold fish’s eye. I kick hot sand at your
sly gargoyle face. I kick dog shit on your fancy shoes. Not
one more time will I hand over my money and my keys
to you. Not one more time will I sacrifice my precious
time for you. Not one more time will I follow you like a
little, lost lamb or a red-headed stepchild into your forest
of black, creaking skeletons. Now take it on the heel-and-
toe, motherfucker, before I whack ya one!