A Poetry Showcase from Donna Dallas

photo from unsplash.com (Chirayu Sharma)

The Last judgment

I watched from the sides
tucked under countless souls
every shade of flesh
dimpled and sinewy
bent beauty in these tortured limbs
begging to be forgiven
pushing to the front line
as not to be overlooked
 
My lover and I tight knot
step over torn and broken wings
masses of angels swarm like hornets
and hummingbirds
try to decode dark and light
try to recall what Jesus said
what did he say?
something like thirst
is in the spring of life?
no no - as we are pulled apart in divine separation
 
Jesus said 
To the thirsty I will give 
from the spring of the water of life 
without payment
as I stood on the side 
parched and burning
and watched my lover flutter away
with glowing wings

Summer Carnival

Billy Joel bellows 
through the speakers
sausage and peppers
spilled beer
vomit
the world is back 
as if war and disease never happened
pigeons swoop in 
to feast
while the homeless still beg 
crackheads still lurk
undercut by all the laughter 
the short heavyset man 
kisses his baby girl a bit too much
a gawky teen lurched over a garbage pale
vomits his kabob   
the blonde stringy haired girl 
strung out in the last stall 
gets hauled out
in an ambulance 
after the EMS blasted her nostrils 
with Narcan
 
Still the Ferris wheel keeps moving
within this matrix
Billy Joel still reverberates 
among cackling passers by 
not one stops
nor looks 
a milk white hand dangles over the stretcher 
whirlwinds of people breathing
smiling
living 
as the girl hovers
suspended over her dead self 
aching  

Remember When We Had No Money

We cashed in all our change
for diapers and formula
scoured the car for loose coins
every cent a fiber of survival
every hand me down a gift
nothing purchased
items always given to us
to use with kid gloves
and carefully pass on to the next poor soul
 
Those valleys
we thought we’d never climb out of
with babies on our backs
bills snapping at our Achilles
money dripped in
like an IV
 
We were on pins and needles 
for that IRS check
laughed all the way to the bank
cuz it was pre-spent
 
Those moments of grit 
tested every muscle reflex
certificate awarded to us
for our rogue-ass survival tactic 
called juggling
 
You and I
we were the circus clowns back then
on the brink of a fire so intense
we didn’t realize we would have burned 
the entire lot of us
to smoldering cinders
had we slipped
 
We look back
cuz we on the peak now
laugh greedily
say it was nothing
never that bad
 
We just shimmied
out of that freak show
half nude
half crocked
yet still the clowns

Players

Because right now - at this very moment
		there is some poor sap
inhaling the very dread 
I escaped from

Right now 
that chosen victim’s sadness 
fills every cavity
from loin to breast
		
That pinned heart engulfed in woeful mist
that evaporates 
before
		my
		very
		sad
		eyes 



Bio: Donna Dallas studied creative writing and philosophy at NYU’s Gallatin School and was lucky enough to write under William Packard, founder of the New York Quarterly.  She has appeared in a plethora of journals, most recently The Opiate, Beatnik Cowboy, SpillWords and Phantom Kangaroo.  Donna serves on the editorial team of Red Fez and New York Quarterly.


A Poetry Showcase from John Grey

photo from unsplash

THE SHIP-LOVER

I love ships. I love true super liners.
I love all thirty-one thousand tons of the Lusitania.
I love its four funnels, steam turbines, 
that quadruple screw, the 25 knots at which
it traverses the water.

I love the Vestris though it’s only a single-stacker.
And the Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft
because its someone’s name, 
a name I would be proud to bear 
if I was making the Amsterdam-East Indies connection.

Of course, I love the L’Atlantique
because it sounds as French as coq vin and Andre Gide. 
It’s a dreamboat with insides that can’t decide
whether they’re Art Nouveau or Art Deco.
I just love dubiety in a ship.

I even love the President Hoover 
though Hoover himself is tough to like.
And the Paris…ah the Paris…
Moroccan décor, such fancy glass and metalwork…
if she was a woman I’d…but she is a woman.

And the Empress of Britain –
glamor and the Brits, 
an unheard-of combination and yet…
And give me the Bremen any day,
though it started out working for the other side.

I love the Viceroy of India – so exotic.
The Rex – those Italians sure do know how to
concoct a lido.
And the Empress of Canada, a little cold at first,
but eventually as warm and comforting 
as anything out there with a twin screw.

And then there’s the Andrea Doria.
I simply love the Andrea Doria.
If I ever met someone called Andrea Doria,
I’d propose on the spot.

And just because every time, I said her name
it would conjure up visions 
of her graceful lines, exquisite shape, 
and so smooth glide across oceans.

And yet all of my loves are dead.
Some blown up in warfare.
Others destroyed by fire 
or wrecked in a collision.
They lie on the seabed
or have long been scrapped,
their parts reused or discarded.

But I still love to stand 
atop the Newport cliffs
and look out to where 
my refined and nimble, 
elegant and exquisite lovers run.
I do not love death.
But I love whatever it has to show me.


THE CIGARETTE SMOKER

There was a time
he lit a cigarette  
the moment his eyes opened.
Before coffee.
Before shaving.
Before his shower.

He’d totter downstairs
trailing that tiny glow,
his face a cloud of smoke.
He’d puff between sips of java.
The razor would have to cut its way
around the dangling Camel.
He didn’t smoke in the shower
but there was always a lit one waiting 
on the sink.

He’d smoke in the car 
on the way to work.
Even in speeding traffic on the highway,
he’d find a way to light another.  
Butts littered the floor.
Ash dropped like fall leaves on his shoe. 

His hands, his teeth,
boasted a permanent yellow stain.
But he never shook hands, never smiled.
He was too busy getting his nicotine fix.

He smoked during meals.
He smoked watching television.
He smoked just before bed.
He even smoked in bed,
singed his lip more than once.

In hospital, 
he had to sneak a cigarette.
When that didn’t work,
he puffed on the tube in his mouth
and imagined.
On his last day,
he begged the nurse 
for one more cancer stick,
the first time he had ever used that term.

SOMEONE JUMPS FROM THE BRIDGE


The moon lurks high above the town.
Its indifference is a thing of wonder.
It saw the boy leap but after that…nothing.

The woman with her apartment window wide open
only thought she heard something.
A guy working late in his fish store 
figured it was some louts dumping garbage.

The surface has settled back to stillness.
Trees stand tall, even in shadow,
prime examples of long-lived lives.
Only the willow droops in sympathy.

The moon settles into a slow arc,
dispenses scattered light
that illuminates the bridge, darkens the waters.

USUAL HEADLINES

Another climber dead on Denali.
So the highest is the deadliest.
Mist lifts.
Mountain emerges.
For a moment I can feel
the lofty aspirations.
Don't try for that summit
and you may as well
be a convenience store clerk
in Anchorage.
The vista may be heaven
but the story is human.
Had to do it, planned for weeks,
nothing would stop him.
Lost his grip, fell from a ledge,
took a week to retrieve his body.
The news is stunted
like tundra spruce,
the implication as long as the days.
There's a risk
even to paradise.
Bui the death's more certain
in what might have been.

MY MOTHER WORKED IN A CANTEEN


she brought home
folded cash
in an envelope

every note 
carefully allotted
for food or rent
or utilities

with a few coins
tossed my way
for pocket money –

she never held
a check in her hand

I never paid 
for anything
with paper –

we were poor –

we had the money
to prove it


Bio: John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Stand, Washington Square Review and Floyd County Moonshine. Latest books, “Covert” “Memory Outside The Head” and “Guest Of Myself” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in the McNeese Review, Rathalla Review and Open Ceilings.

Poetry Showcase from S.C. Flynn

from pixabay

SALT LAKE

Sometimes the future’s flight is straight and smooth
like shining summer runways
but then it brings you way out here
where the ground is endless crust
that snaps underneath your feet
to free the thick black sludge that lurks below
and where the trees are pale dry prisoners
thrust deep in permanent winter,
their bony arms stretched wide in pleading
to whoever might have put them here.
Perhaps they come alive each night and clash -
giant skeletons under polished moon shield -
sharp cracking blows breaking a silence
that no one has ever heard
but then as dawn approaches they stiffen,
joints crunching as their backs grow rigid
and their hands lift once again in agony
as they stand to face the sun’s cruel gaze
like driftwood carved with strange inscriptions.

This is my forever world. I walk in,
crunching through the flat white sheet
to sink in the squelching dark below
so my footsteps stretch behind me
like black ink spattered on a page;
no wind will ever shift them,
so when one day you reach this place
you’ll know just what they mean.
I belong out here where nothing changes;
soon I’ll be just a dense heart of decay,
an elemental core of toxic life waste,
my attention span shrunk to a painful dot 
while random dreams circle round my head.
I take my place among the guilty naked;
my roots were poisoned long ago
and now my limbs can harden and set.

TWELFTH VIEW OF THE SOUTHERN CROSS
Uluru, central Australia, tomorrow night

The sky kite must be much the same
but looking up has changed;
war in space is the new theology.
Rocket junk floats like so many heresies
and orbiting communication links
have shouted down the angelic orders.
Any old poet who versed to paradise now
would have to dodge the pieces
and when they start shooting
each other's things down with missiles
we'll all end up in inferno.
Every species on earth
is a sacrificial victim
slowly bleeding to death
in the branches of this blurry tree.

BETWEEN MEATH AND KILDARE

I wander, a solitary forager
like Australia’s formidable Bull Ant,
a creature that refuses to abandon
existence no matter what it suffers,
but my mind keeps going back and forth,
asking if life is just a random line
on a map without scale or direction,
as the Royal Canal I’m following
passes from Meath to Kildare and back again.
Maybe these kinds of thoughts were useful once,
when contemplation could find solutions,
but now they are unnecessary tortures
that drive me on with ant-like stings and pincers
through Kildare to Meath and back again.   

APRIL 23RD

I must have often walked on death unknowing,
but at Clontarf the mail coat presses my shoulders
as I wade ashore at dawn, spear and shield in hand.
Our fleet’s square sails flap behind me in the breeze
while the dragons’ eyes seek our enemy
and their little spears that swarm like flies.
By next high tide our leader will be king as promised
or the battle-watchers will have claimed us all;
the water leaves us no retreat, but none is wanted.
Today I weave a strand in history’s tapestry.


Biography: S.C. Flynn was born in Australia of Irish origin and now lives in Dublin. His poetry has been published in many magazines, including The Honest Ulsterman, Cyphers, Abridged and Orbis.










A Poetry Showcase from Judge Santiago Burdon

Black Moon Promise

Bathroom confessions
backdoor redemption
Black moon promise
made to a leather winged Angel
Afterglow addict disciple of dawn
woman standing at the edge of love
listening for the silence in between the words
whispered by an ambidextrous tongue.
Loiterer in dim luminescence
under bloodshot skies.
beautiful visions reminding her of horrible things  
knowing the best part of truth are the lies
casualty of kindness twilight apostle
feeling what is not her favorite color
the song of flawed perfection 
its taste bitter on her lips
The melody fading with the last smile of summer

An Addicts Lament

I'll just have to start over 
After ten months of being sober
My weakness proved to be stronger 
than my determination to stay clean
Searched for a valid reason to get high
That didn't sound like an excuse
Resulted in a list of lies 
I used to bribe the truth 
I deserve a  reward 
for all the progress I'd made.
Listen to me trying to justify my actions
for what I had just thrown away 
I'll blame my sponsor say 
it's all his fault 
For being out of town 
When I needed his help most 
he wasn't around 
Temptation befriended me 
encouraging my decision
Where the hell is it now 
That I've become guilt ridden.
What am I thinking 
who's gonna know
That I relapsed and got high
Unless I tell them so.
I can live with the lie  
Big deal it's not the first time
After all I'm just a junkie and addict
Fighting a losing battle
with my habit 

The Hole In My Life

There's a hole in my life 
where all the happiness leaks out 
Doctors tried to fix it with medication                             
Which produced poor results     
So I made a hole in my arm 
to replace what I had lost            
Used all of everything I could find                                    
Nothing succeeded to fill the void.
Next ambition, compassion gratitude and pride                   
also spilled out and exited my life.                                              
A toxic depression filled the  emptiness inside
What remains is a hole I made in my arm                                   
And an addiction I struggle to satisfy                                   
created from a madness            that I prescribed

Temporary Sherry

The diamond in her wedding ring has lost its glimmer
Gone is the sparkle that once danced in her eyes
Left with a basket full of  laundry
Every memory a thief that has robbed her smile
A hostage of irresistible misfortune
She keeps telling herself it's a bad dream 
The sink full of dirty dishes
her laughter trapped in a scream
She stares out the kitchen window
sees a future of muffled thunder in broken skies
Her conversation with silence disrupted
By the sound of the baby's demanding cry

Two Dollar Talisman

I have never professed to know much, although what I do know,
is the distance between want and need is measured in sacrifice, the road that must be traveled to obtain this awareness is plagued with fierce storms, lightning crackles with Catatumbo intensity, rain slowly rusts your ambition, the wind's sharp corners cut through a frail confidence, causing your ego to bleed, your desire starves for just a morsel of encouragement, but your hunger doesn't entitle you to take part in the soul feast, you believe no one's pain is greater than your own, convinced you've paid your dues, now fate owes you, but you've defaulted on the loan, your want is a demand, its sole purpose is to please the image reflected in a selfish mirror,  you're damned to keep counting blessings, coming up short, then feeling cheated, out of what was never yours, yet you ask why your prayers go unanswered, your self-indulgent wishes are ignored, worshiping a two dollar Talisman, purchased at a thrift store, it has exhausted any cosmic goodwill it never had  before, turns out to be just another poor choice, as your last resort, if a line between  right and wrong ever existed, you snorted it long ago, and conscience you considered an encumbrance, was shedd in liabilities shadow.
I've lived a deplorable existence  inside the underbelly of life, my reward for addiction and a twisted mind, been in places where Satan would be afraid to visit, acting on some drug's bad advice, I've learned the more I denied my want, I discovered how little I need, I've heard it rains diamonds on Neptune, there's blue sunsets on Mars, but as I mentioned, I don't know much, I'm just an imitation of me.

https://www.biopage.com/judge722









A November 2022 Poetry Showcase for Elizabeth Cusack

Dragonfly

inspired by writer’s prompt “The Artist Never Sleeps”

It was a dream
The sand, the wind, the future
It was always only you
My eyes are prisms now
And that is all
I am tripping through the universe
Where love began
You have the power
To throw me off
And you don’t
You are a hard man
With your bit in my mouth
I hang on for one more ride
I am your kind
I am welcome 
In the lost and found
I am crazy
I hold on tight 
Am I irrelevant now
Am I going blind
Am I seeing double
Am I going clear
Baby, we’ll be alright
Baby, you’re whispering
What are you thinking
Baby, I’m not blinking
Everything’s tied up
In a little bow
Baby, keep relaxing
No need to ask me
Anything further
Dinosaurs feed us
Fumes of death
Fumes of greed
I love that I love
I am that I am
I watch the centers come and go.

That is All

We write, we waste, and we suffer
That is all we do
There is nothing
There is just you
Someone has made a hell out of heaven
That is all
Stray dogs love us
They guard and follow us
Mountain goats call our name
The world is turning
And no one’s to blame
Hell is here, and we don’t know why.

Already Dead

When you know you are already dead
That’s when life begins
Before was all a dream
We visit the graveyard in Paris
Or the graveyard in the desert
It’s all the same
We are living on the graves of sheep or kings
That too makes no difference
When you are born already dead
The undead, well, they just harvest
The bodies of the poor
The dogmen keep crying
But it’s just for the show
The fraud is most dangerous
When he’s exposed
The world is more dangerous
When it’s exposed
Dangerously complicit
Like Cohen on the wire
I will return to Ireland to expire
The last champignon bitten
With love in my mitten
I will follow love home
I do not screech into the void
There’s no point to getting a cross
You were born this way
Your children are lambs of the damned
There is no place for a poet on your street
I get enraged because I know
You earned your place from a slave in her grave
Your screaming hives will not redeem
Your lives spent tossing the poor another bone.

Lost and Found

Going to sleep with games in the lost and found 
All the artists have their knives drawn
Ashes, ashes, that is all I am fed
So what? I am spent
The darkness cannot come too soon for me
Nor for you and your thickening lovers
Averaged by comparison.

But I have eyeglasses, and I can pretend to begin again
But right now, I’d rather sleep
I am much more than an emollient 
A fly on your window screen
An unfortunate consequence waiting in the hereafter
But it’s so hard to make ends meet until we are complete
And the whales are circling around our boat
It can’t make up for my heart that’s broken
So I sleep with vultures from the beyond
And I catch them in radiators on Highway 1.

I am used to all this
There is nothing you can do to surprise me
I was born this way, with Morrison and Grandma Jane
Out on the highway, the suspense is killing me
But I’ll wait awhile longer, just until I die
To see once again your outlaw smile
Who cares, I’m just a lonely flame in the fire
Looking for an ash in a funeral pyre
It’s been a day for licking trash cans
And finding what’s true
It’s a bloodborne disease, and I’m feeling blue.

Its Eyes

Its eyes are extraterrestrial
But its mouth is from this pissing planet
Its nose has no consequence
And its hair is perfect
It is a werewolf
Ready to bite
Cracking lines with cheeks
The color of pie.

Love is a phantom dancer
An illusion with a voice
It spins you around
It’s a cruise, a fantasy
Just close your eyes
It’s a window that is viewless.

Just stay inside
Don’t blow its bubble
Or it’s up in smoke
Don’t kill it
Before it kills you
Just take a pill
And have another drink.

Bio: Elizabeth Cusack is a recovering actress. Ever since playing Rhoda Penmark in “The Bad Seed” as a child, deservedly, she has endeavoured to keep up her end of the bargain. Elizabeth has been blessed with the best of teachers over the years, mostly from the school of hard knocks. She has championed and performed in fringe theatre in America. Elizabeth edits her favourite poet while not otherwise inspired by her muse to write.