In the switchblade of the night
The freezing jewel of barracuda delight
The tempting fate of failing light
The falling rhythm of dismay from this train
Of thought to obey the trunk is hidden in the back of time
The amulet is prised in line
The liberation a dance of swans
Some with beacon some with songs
A marching army of choruses
Bitter winds of self regret
From sands of time the tidal wave
The room of being the bloody knave
The haunting of the bloody cave
From which the nazi hunter gave
The Jew his freedom’s only grave
Atonement splendid in the light of days.
Take that tie off, for Christ’s sake –
you’ll get us both killed.
Then he’s elbow-deep at the bar
and I’m staking out the snug
as bloodshot eyes return to racing pinks,
no female weekday drinkers here.
I miss the ashtrays and pre-smartphone
boredom as a round was fetched,
the risk of eye contact with strangers,
the former marine and that disabled tutor
who urged me not to write,
there being too many words already.
Through it all comes lucid dreaming,
revealing the lie of the land.
We get out while we can
Having stalked the outer fjords of Greenland
and caught the spring on an altiplano breeze,
I am banned from climbing Mount Shuksan
in Cascading footsteps of Snyder and Kerouac
while young hares dance across the meadow,
having lost the latest six-dollar state lottery
for a federal wilderness area access permit,
and not holding a creative writing PhD.
Condemned instead to urban fairgrounds
from a cathedral spire I put my penny in the slot
to watch a thousand matchstick lawyers
dance their way along cobbled boulevards
as though life itself has rhyme or reason,
and if arranging an altarpiece offering
is allegedly a redeeming gesture of faith,
aligning cloth colour, God and sacrificant,
then climbing a mountain is no less a ritual,
the placement of both gear and flesh
a prayer towards a dialogue with rock,
subject to the proper paperwork, it seems.
There is always someone carving out an empire
from the flesh and joy of whoever occupied
a particular piece of administrative estate before,
library corridors and bookstacks ripe for realignment
as crosshairs narrow on still surviving native pine
and slipping loose from the holy matinee
to survey the latest map revision in Dylan’s Bar
is acceptance this love always was a losing hand
in a dying game which was long since rigged,
but still, even diesel-soaked horizons beckon
and so we get out where and while we can.
Bio: Laurence Morris works in academic libraries and is a fellow of the UK's Royal Geographical Society. His poems have been published in Confluence, Snakeskin, Shot Glass Journal, Dodging the Rain, The Broken Spine, 192 and elsewhere. He lives in the north of England and if not in a library is probably out walking in the rain.
Bio: James Schwartz is a poem, slam performer and author of various poetry collections including The Literary Party: Growing Up Gay and Amish in America (Kindle, 2011), Punatic (Writing Knights Press, 2019) & most recently Motor City mix (Alien Buddha Press, 2022)
So which one are you troubadour?
With your guitar and lyrics
The joker who sits as witness?
There are many here among us
The tarot cards laid out upon our tables
The watchtower chosen :
Deception Destruction Ruin
Perhaps it was all a joke
Perhaps we did not listen in time
Hendrix gone all too soon
Never understanding the words
But the businessmen kept coming
Drinking up our wine, corporations
Destroying this earth
And all along the watchtower
The princes kept view
But the hour is now
And the voices were ignored
So what songs should we sing?
If not the songs of troubadours
And the prophets who told us all?
The poets of lost time and
Darker days who came &
Bared witness to all
Forever with the dust of time
~ R.M. Engelhardt
BIO: R.M. Engelhardt is a poet, writer & author who’s work over the last 20 years has been published in such journals as Thunder Sandwich, Full of Crow, Rusty Truck, Writers’ Resist, Dry Land Lit, Rye Whiskey Review, Hobo Camp Review & many others. He currently lives & writes in Upstate NY and his new books of poetry are entitled “DarkLands” (Published By Whiskey City Press 2019) & “We Rise Like Smoke Poems Psalms & Incantations” (Published by DeadMansPressInk 2021)