Joan Mc Nerney
Chapbook # 4
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Milk and Honey
2. Letting the Old Cat Die
3. Double Take
4. The Dancer
6. Nature Boy
7. Going Home
8. Forty-four Years Together
11. The Mouths of Children
MILK AND HONEY
They say we need both, girls,
in order to survive,
and what we didn’t get as kids,
we’ll look for all our lives.
If we didn’t know love (honey),
we’ll be fools for candy shops
and sugar daddies.
If we lacked nurturing (milk),
we’ll suck on what makes us feel alive-
pop, pot, hooch, you name it.
I’m an old broad now and
don’t have all the answers,
but this I know:
If help’s to be found,
it’ll come from inside.
Somehow we must find the
the bread-of-Life, and feed it to
ourselves the way a mother would,
the way a mother should.
LETTING THE OLD CAT DIE
When his time drew near,
the old cat purred real loud as if to
aknowledge the coming of something mighty.
He disappeared into the woods for a few days
and limped home, elated from blood-sport,
sated with blood-taste, his paws and muzzle
stained brown. Then, eyes filmed beyond seeing,
ears folded beyond hearing, drawing down into
a dim memory and led by his whiskery antennae,
he crawled into the dark musky warmth of the closet
where fifteen years earlier his mother, purring real
loud to announce a mighty event,
had dropped her brood among the shoes.
After leaving his own wife and
fooling around with someone else’s,
after getting arrested on a DUI and
spending the night in jail,
my baby came home to me again.
He got a job and went back to
AA meetings and school again,
lost weight and started doing sit-ups,
had his teeth cleaned and his vision fixed.
In short, he turned his life around.
Once a week, we ate lunch out and
got to know each other again.
I asked for pardon for my sins as a parent and
he admitted he’d been a sorry son.
At the end of the year,
driver’s license in hand again,
he moved out and on to other things.
I cried and missed him and wrung my hands,
but was glad he was out the house and out
of my hair, and totally on his own again.
He could have been a great one,
his mother always maintained;
an Astaire or a Kelly, perhaps even a
Nureyev or Beryshnikov.
Well, I don’t know about that,
but he was a great party dancer. When
he went to town on “Light My Fire” or
“Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” people just backed
away and gave him the floor.
The only thing he couldn’t do
was partner a woman. Strictly a solo act,
he either danced alone or he didn’t dance.
I should know. I married him.
Once, when he was working on a roof,
he fell and crushed both feet.
“I doubt he’ll dance again,” the doctor said.
But he did, right into middle age, then stopped
when he joined a church that called it a sin.
Now, every morning when he gets out of bed,
he does a little soft-shoe shuffle as he puts on his
slippers, and hums a few bars of a tune I can’t
remember, or maybe never knew.
I eat the days whole, now.
I eat them alive.
All of them.
The good and bad of them,
the in-between of them,
the gourmet and garbage of them.
Nothing gets by me.
I strip the skin with my teeth
and devour the flesh.
I gobble the gristle, munch on the bones,
then lick the plate clean.
There’s not a scrap left behind,
nothing to turn into compost
or take to the dump,
nothing to put in the freezer or
save for tomorrow’s lunch.
I’m as indiscriminate as a pig
because, you see,
having reached my three-score and ten,
I can’t afford to waste another morsel.
That’s what we used to call him,
because he spent so much time outdoors,
walking in the woods and wading the
streams of our little suburban town.
He kept turtles in the bathtub and
had a pet raccoon named Raquel.
Each weekend he went fishing
or frog-gigging, coming home with
scratched arms and scabby knees,
his clothes covered with beggar’s lice.
“I want to be a forest ranger when I
grow up,” he always said. “Out west
or maybe even in Canada.”
But he got into drugs in high school,
and his dreams went up in pot smoke.
Now he has a computer business and
his wilderness treks are of the virtual kind.
A father of grown children, he visits
us at our country home and watches a herd
of deer grazing in a field next to the house.
“I love to see the deer,” he says quietly,
sipping mint tea. “I heard a fox in the
night and also, I think, a coyote.”
I started going back shortly after I left.
I went back and back and back again.
I’m not sure why, because when I lived there,
all I wanted to do was get away.
But maybe I was looking for something I’d lost,
or maybe I hoped to find something I never had.
Perhaps I was trying to solve the riddle of my
unstable life and unsettled mind.
Whatever the reason, it hadn’t worked and
the only thing I found were changes in the town
that rendered it un-knowable.
But that didn’t stop me. Oh no.
I went back after everyone I knew had gone
and the home-place had become a parking lot.
I went back after it had disappeared entirely
into housing for faculty at the local college.
On my last attempt I got halfway there
before turning around, convinced at last,
that the town and people I sought exist only
in dreams and the stories I tell about them.
FORTY-FOUR YEARS TOGETHER
When we met,
my love’s hands were as
small and soft as mine.
Across a kitchen table we
pressed them palm to palm, like
Romeo and Juliet hippies.
There’s a black smudgy print
on the kitchen door now,
made when he was fixing the lock.
A good housewife would wash it off,
but I don’t. I like to press my still small
hand into his, huge now from years
in the carpentry trade.
Since I have no grandchildren,
perhaps my poems can serve as such.
After all, I give them the best of myself,
as others say they do their own.
I fill them up, fatten them, spoil them
with all I have of wit, grace and love.
I baby-sit and groom them constantly,
making sure every hair is in place,
and there’s no dirt under nails or behind ears.
They are the part of me that goes on,
carrying my name, speaking for me.
And when I see that they are strong and sure,
I send them out into the world where they
will make their way, live their lives,
do their thing, as the saying goes.
I hope they’ll be liked and respected.
I know they’ll travel farther and faster
than I ever dreamed of doing.
They will be my globe-trotters, my little ones.
And there are so many of them.
A richness of progeny!
When I first saw you,
right after you were born
and you flushed from gray to red
with your first breath,
When you were held up for me to behold your
angry squalling grief-stricken maleness,
when they laid you across my shriveled belly
and I covered you with my hand,
shielding you from the light, the noise, the chilly air,
I foresaw, all of an instant, that in spite of
your great strength and beauty,
you possessed an inner frailty that would
lead you to attack your brother,
sass your father,
and demand of me-
though my love for you exceeded all others-
more than I had to give.
THE MOUTHS OF CHILDREN
They work so hard at words,
those round-whistle mouths
that are always open for bread
and breath and milk and mom.
An old lady now, I still see them as
open holes I must fill,
open wounds I must tend,
their thumbs only temporary solace.
I’m bound by their birth cries,
by the sounds that come from their
rose-bud mouths, the hold me/
help me/ love me sounds.
I feel compelled to answer them,
the neighbor’s children,
the stranger’s children,
the refugee children in the news.
A baby cries in the
canned-goods aisle of the supermarket.
I look around, trying to locate it,
my dry breasts tingling.
brush fire on the mountain
sunset lasts until dawn-
hot dry fall
quince bush blooming in autumn
Double Take, Milk and Honey, The Dancer, Aging and Forty-four years Together were first published in Cavalcade of Stars.
Nature Boy, Going Home, Letting the Old Cat Die, Progeny, Cain and The Mouths of Children were first published in Vox Poetica.
MIDSUMMER MADNESS E Chapbook Three
by Nancy Scott
June 21, 2017
TABLE OF CONTENTS
2. Billy Jean
3. To A Daughter Unknown
4. It’s Just Poetry
When we first moved to our old house,
we found an awesome pile of snake skins
in an ancient, underground crawl-space.
“Looks like they’ve been here since year one,”
my husband said with a chuckle.
“Eeew,” I said with a shudder.
Next spring I hauled some fertilizer outside
to spread on the garden.
As I dug bare-handed into the powdery stuff,
I felt something of form and substance in there;
something utterly foreign and loathsome to me.
And though my mind couldn’t identify what it was,
I believe my body recalled that long-ago garden
and perhaps the touch of the first woman’s hand
on a serpent who talked trash to her.
SSSSSNAAAAAAKE!!! I screamed.
Once, when I was leaving a 7-Eleven,
I collided with a woman coming in.
“Hey Billie Jean,” she laughed,
“watch where you’re going, girl.”
Catching my blank stare, she went on:
“You are Billie, aren’t you? You look just like her.”
I didn’t answer, stunned that I’d just been given a name for
the woman who lived in my mind and haunted my dreams;
the woman who’s all I’m not. The woman I’d like to be.
She’s an extrovert and I’m the opposite,
a risk-taker where I’m cautious,
the life of the party while I’m often the death of it.
Billie Jean does as she pleases. I try too hard to please others.
She’s a tough talkin’ mama and I can’t say boo to a goose.
Billie never gets old. I’ve stopped counting birthdays.
She’s the light-of-the-world to my dark-night-of-the-soul.
Billie Jean drives a yellow convertible I was too shy to buy.
She’s behind the wheel right now, cruising in an alternate reality.
The top is down and her red hair is flying.
The radio’s blasting a country song about love and loss
and hooch and hormones and she’s singing at the top of her lungs,
not caring at all that she’s out of control and over the limit
and courting a speeding ticket.
When he was quite young,
my son showed me a fossil he’d
un-earthed in our yard.
It was a small gray stone with the imprint of a
tiny perfect shell recessed in it.
“This land was under the sea once,” I told him,
closing his hand over it.
“It’s a treasure. Keep it.”
The photograph of the woman jumping
from the World Trade Center,
pocketbook in hand,
will be engraved on my brain for life.
The morning you leave, we turn in bed,
hold each other hard together,
your beard searing my face,
your chest etching my breast,
steel press of parting rolling over us.
Some of my poems are inspired by
the remembered rhythms of
childhood verses and nursery rhymes,
of Mother Goose and Dr. Seuss.
Others come from a darker place and
speak of the stubbed toes, scraped knees
and torn hearts of experience;
of Vietnam and atom bombs.
But the best ones arise from beyond
the earth and all it’s beauty and horror.
Like dreams or answers to prayer
they wake me in the middle of the night,
and I must hurry to record their strange
and striking images before they
evaporate into soft air
drifting through the window.
It’s at those times that I most identify
with the old Sufi poet who wrote:
“I am a hole in the flute that God plays.”
TO A DAUGHTER UNKNOWN
When did it begin, the estrangement?
Was it when you were born and I,
high-as-a-kite on drugs,
insisted that you were a boy?
Or was it later, as a kid playing with a doll, I
gave you things I’d have died for at your age?
Perhaps it was when you were a teenager,
and I turned into my mother and became
the witch you had to leave.
I don’t know what you look like anymore
but I still carry you inside, and guess what?
I talk to you all the time.
The kinder gentler me talks to
the woman you have become.
Listen, I’m speaking to you now.
I’m speaking to you in this poem.
“IT’S JUST POETRY, IT WON’T BITE.”
When I was twelve, Mother read “Thanatopsis” to me
and I had to pinch my arm to stay awake.
A couple of years later I heard Daddy recite
“Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard,” and though
the first four lines are as lovely as anything written,
I got lost in it’s length.
Then when I was sixteen, my best friend sat me down,
picked up a book, said “listen to this,”
and read William Blake’s “The Tiger” to me.
You know the one I mean, right?
Tiger tiger burning bright, in the forests of the night.
The most popular poem in the English language, it
made an instant convert of me.
A spark shot up my spine and started a fire in my head,
a fire that has died down from time to time but never gone out
and will still be burning, God willing,
for the rest of my life.
He was my first love, a small town boy
who taught me many things, like how to
ride a motorcycle and drive a car,
change a tire and work a gear-shift.
Mostly he showed me how to get from
where I was to where I wanted to be.
He was wheel-crazy, and his favorite thing
was going someplace, anyplace, it didn’t matter
where or why. We might have married, but went
in different directions, he into the military,
I to the big city. Now, many years later and miles apart,
I hear he’s on his last legs, won’t see another day.
I wake at midnight, try to find his spirit in the dark.
He’s okay, I know, because journeys are what he’s about.
But maybe there’ll be a crossing guard at the intersection
like the one who helped my children
when they walked home from school.
dead of night-
awakened by the silence of
behind the mountain-
full moon rising
SNAKE, BILLY JEAN, and CROSSING were first published in Cavalcade Of Stars.
PRINTMAKING, INSPIRATION, TO A DAUGHTER UNKNOWN, and “IT’S JUST POETRY” were published in Vox Poetica.
E-chap Nancy Scott-McBride Two
EIGHT AT THE EQUINOX
by Nancy Scott
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Indian Summer
- The Light
- Dover Beach
- Monday Morning
and all the leaves haven’t fallen.
The maple’s still green.
Afternoon drops slowly into our laps
the ripened apples.
Songbirds have flown,
the shrill drilling of insects dies down, and everything goes quiet all at once.
Wild geese are leaving the lake;
all night long we lay awake listening.
The light has changed,
though I can’t say exactly how,
and buzzards float on air soft as gauze.
wildness comes to the back door—
fox, bear cub, little orphan doe—
and holds us spellbound in luminous eyes.
When I was a girl and lived in the city, I got up early to stand at the window of my tiny room and watch dawn break over the tall buildings.
I called my ritual “welcoming the light,”
and I loved doing it,
loved letting the day come to me with whatever it had to give, loved letting it happen.
Now that I’m older
I spend many evenings on the screen porch watching the sun set over misty mountains.
Buddhists call this practice “sitting with the dying day,”
and I love this meditation, love doing it, observing the mellow light for as long as it lasts, then letting it go, letting that be okay.
my friend and fellow poet were
discussing Matthew Arnold’s famous poem; how moving it is and how modern, though it was written in the nineteenth century.
Do you know what the last line means? she asked.
Of course, I lied.
She was better educated and I sometimes resented it.
Swallow your pride, I urged myself whenever we talked, ask her about the “ignorant armies” that “clash by night.”
But I didn’t, and now she has Parkinson’s and can’t speak to me at all.
I could Google it of course,
or ask someone else,
but I don’t.
That wouldn’t be fair to Peggy.
Once a week I go through this:
I wake up and ask myself what I’m doing here.
I question my purpose in life
now that the children are grown and I have no grandkids nearby.
I wonder why I’m still hanging around,
when so many “significant others” have gone on.
I ask myself what my job is,
now that the house and garden are maintained by someone else and my husband does much of the cooking.
Who am I when I can’t put pen to paper
because my muse is out of touch,
or when I can’t find anything in the library to read and there’s nothing I need or want to shop for?
Once a week I go through this,
and every time, right no cue, the answer comes to me.
I’m here on this Monday morning, and every other day of the week, to simply be who I am, and to know that the earth, with all its pain and problems, is still as good as God said it was when She made it.
He was very good at leaving.
It’s what he did best and
he did it all the time.
Leaving from the bathroom,
shutting off the water.
Had he nicked himself?
Better get the alcohol.
Leaving from the bedroom,
finding a coat, matching pants,
selecting a tie,
catching his act in the full-length mirror.
Leaving from the kitchen,
no time to eat.
Maybe some orange juice,
forget the vitamins.
In the hall now,
I remember him from behind,
the nape of his neck,
the back of his legs,
his step, one heel lifted,
car backing out,
He was very good at leaving—
daily, weekly, monthly—
it’s what he did best,
and he did it all the time.
sparrows at the feeder-
hungry hawk watching from the
tall pine tree
all night long
apples pelting our tent’s roof-
in my hand
abandoned cicada husk-
that curious silence
I studied poetry at NYU and worked on the editorial staff of the New York Quarterly,” the world’s most beautiful poetry magazine.” My work has appeared in numerous print magazines and anthologies, has won some prizes and been translated into several languages. I have read my work in bars and coffeehouses, on street corners and in homes, on radio and audiotape, in libraries, bookstores and theaters, in lofts and basements, and once in a chocolate factory, and once on the Brooklyn Bridge.
Thanks to editors Annmarie Lockhart and Jeanette Cheezum for publishing my poems.
“The Light” and “Indian Summer” first appeared in Vox Poetica.
“Dover Beach”, “Monday Morning” and “Ex-Husband” appeared first in Cavalcade Of Stars.
The three haiku first appeared in my self-published collection “Rappahannock Moment.”
E-Chap One Nancy Scott- Mcbride
THE IDES OF MARCH
by Nancy Scott
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Bees in the Cherry Orchard
- Over and out
- Ecclesiastical Harlot
- Hear Wave
- Mother’s Day
BEES IN THE CHERRY ORCHARD
A soon as the blossoms open, bees
come to gather the precious pollen.
They’re all business, the bees,
working the trees from dawn to dusk
until the petals fade and fall.
When my ears worked better, I could
hear the buzzing from the back porch,
fifteen or twenty feet away. Now I wait
for traffic on the road to slow, then walk out,
stand under the nearest tree, and let the sound
envelope and invade me, not so much hearing as feeling it.
It comes inside and takes me over,
the ecstasy of creatures doing the one
single thing they were born to do.
And in the this way, the ritual
becomes a part of me.
I am the singing and the song,
the humming and the honey.
OVER AND OUT
Better than we,
cell phones know
communication between us
We punch in numbers and are
sent straight to voice-mail.
We’re on the road and
don’t pick up, or
we’re in the shower and
Machines receive our calls/cries
and record our sad/mad messages.
Our ears are not in service
at this crucial time, or
have been temporarily
I was sprinkled as a Presbyterian baby,
then became a Catholic when RFK was shot.
Back in the day I played with pagans,
sat with Sufi’s, chanted with hari krishna’s and
danced with dervishes.
Later on I prayed with Pentecostals,
messed around with Methodists,
quaked with Quakers and was
baptized by a one-legged Baptist.
You get the idea. I was faithless.
For years now I’ve been a musician
in a tiny country church, and here’s
what I think of my checkered past:
All those twists and turns in the road
that so shamed ad embarrassed me?
They were really, all of them,
so help me God, signposts showing
the way to Heaven.
Rising before dawn to do a
I try to repeat Green Planet
with every breath I take.
But brown grass underfoot distracts me,
and Global Warming worries keep
interrupting my chant. My thoughts
are more Revelations than Zen.
Is this it then, I keep wondering,
the point of No Return?
Have we gone and done it,
murdered Mother Earth?
Wearing a blue bikini
and whizzing around the yard
on a rusty old riding mower,
she deftly steers with one strong arm
while the other holds her naked baby
boy on her lap.
A modern-day madonna and child,
making circles and figure eights
under the glorious halo of the sun.
banks of the
raising our cabin-
under the stacks of lumber
mice building their nest
Bio: See my first chapbook, “Eight at the Equinox” here on Cavalcade of Stars.
“Bees in the Cherry Orchard”, “Over and Out”, and “Raising Our Cabin” first appeared in The Camel Saloon.
“Daffodils” was published first in the Plum Tavern and “Ecclesiastical Harlot” appeared first in Cavalcade of Stars.
“Heat Wave” was first published in Vox Poetica.
E-chap Joan McNerney
A glimpse of the seasons e-chapbook of poetry by Joan McNerney May 23, 2013
The Muse in Miniature
A cup of coffee warm fat pancakes bubbling up my haiku breakfast.
Green blue soft rain warm sun. Springtime.
Moss crawls over mudstone while squirrels skip around tree stumps.
All the greens of spring are opening our eyes.
After the long rain pine trees bending with cones.
Our woods are half dressed in fragile buds as dandelions sprout from nowhere.
What does this cat think strumming his tail with such ease to fugues of Bach?
Green new leaf fits hand perfectly—the future lies in your palm.
Cool bright delicate. Let me wear it around my neck, this soft splash of rain.
It is the white hour between deep night and soft dawn. Even the wren stares.
This carpet of spring to cuddle my toes in. Such a fragrant rug!
If I could only save this bundle of breezes for hot summer days.
Hallow mouth of the moon. Clouds cross forming an airy handkerchief.
Luncheon by the lake. How lucky we are to have such a large finger bowl!
Summer evening. Sun and moon share the sky in perfect symmetry.
Splash. One word in oceans of sound.
Who threw a ladle full of moonbeams on my celery green grass?
Inquisitive… the gingersnap cat stares as I get undressed.
Calculating…. a fish leaps to capture bite of heaven.
This fugue of soft rain concert of lush leaves… butterfly ballet.
If I were queen who could reign on a breezy cloud… castles in the air.
Today’s work is done. The sun fell from the sky for a bowl of stars.
Black and white kitten lying under clothesline in soft circles of sleep.
Try to catch the wind. Count the ripples in the sea. Become a child again.
A flying carpet of sugar maple leaves unfurls along my road.
Winds pause while one last strip of sunset paints pines.
Just enough light to glimpse silhouettes of yellow trees against the dove grey sky.
With evening comes the dawn of night time.
Shy autumnal bird did you brush against the moon to get that pale down?
Winds sway maple trees leaves drop like butterflies falling to the warm earth.
Rain spills over November nights like black ink stains.
What discus player threw a tangerine moon on top of Main Street?
A Prussian blue sky, willow weeps golden threads, silver snowdrifts in brown earth.
The morning mist roams back and forth like a voiceless wanderer.
The longest journey is to your loved one’s grave.
Came home just in time for the first dizzy dance of December flurries.
Crystals spin together in joyful pirouette…a cool ballet.
Snow spinning in miniature galaxies. Soft stars brush my face.
Straining twisted arms trees stretch to trap me in their bare branches.
More starling than that windowpane red with sun are your ice blue eyes.
Shooting stars write poetry across the sky.
A snowflake falls in my surprised eye …all is black.
Deep winterset night. Sleepless stars glide through heaven in aerial ballet.
Calico cat curving corners against the cold.
Winter enchanted of iced lakes, nude trees, fierce winds I am a witness.
Snow shapes rose bushes into giant white mums.
Stopping to see the shape of a snowflake.
Even Goya’s portraits are less intriguing than faces of frost on my window.
Joan McNerney’s poetry has been included in numerous literary magazines such as Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Camel Saloon Books on Blog, Blueline, Vine Leaves, Spectrum, three Bright Spring Press Anthologies and several Kind of A Hurricane Publications. She has been nominated three times for Best of the Net. Four of her books have been published by fine literary presses. She has recited her work at the National Arts Club, New York City, State University of New York, Oneonta, McNay Art Institute, San Antonio and other distinguished venues. A recent reading was sponsored by the American Academy of Poetry. Her latest title is Having Lunch with the Sky, A.P.D. Press, Albany, New York.
E-chap Harris Tobias
Crown of Thorns
I must have been a genius when I was my original self but, of course, that was quite a few jumps ago. All I have left of that original me is my memory of the jumper box and the crowns. The me that made them must have been awfully smart. He must have known a lot about neurology, biology, physics and a half a dozen other disciplines but, as fate would have it, the world is not likely to know of this invention.
Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Benjamin Donald Dapp, I think I was Doctor Dapp at one time but who remembers? What I did was build this device that switches minds from one brain to another. I’d been working on it for years and I’m sure it was Nobel Prize winning science but there’s little likelihood that I’ll ever see any reward for my breakthrough. Sometimes it’s best not to experiment on yourself.
The principle of the jumper is simple even if the actual electronics are not. One crown goes on one head and one crown goes on another. A button is pushed and the consciousness are switched just like that. No big crackling machinery, no lights dim, not even a hum. The jumper is smaller than a pack of Marlboros and uses regular double A batteries. Pretty neat invention if I do say so myself.
I was so focused on the equipment I never even considered the psychological toll switching minds would have on the individual. When the jumper was ready, my first volunteer was my faithful and loving wife, Myrtle. She trusted me completely. We lay side by side on the bed and put on our crowns and pushed the button together. In an instant, I was Myrtle and she was me. I saw the world through her big blue eyes, I had access to all her memories and, I assume, she had access to all of mine. Almost simultaneously our hands rose to our mouths as our most hidden thoughts and actions were revealed.
I saw Myrtle’s youthful indiscretions, her torrid affair with the milkman, and her frustration at our marriage. Her loneliness and pain while I frittered away our relationship spending more time in the basement than with our daughter, Doreen, who it turned out, had none of my DNA.
Myrtle saw my masturbatory fantasies and addiction to Internet porn. She knew my curious proclivity for sock puppets and my real opinion of her poetry. Needless to say, we switched back as soon as we could. The marriage has never been the same since.
I went back to my workbench and rewired the box adding a few filters to keep deep secrets from rushing in immediately. When it was ready, I was eager to test it out and went next door to my friend and neighbor, Reggie Phelps. Reggie is a good guy, quite a bit older than me but supportive in my work and flattered to be of help. We sat side by side in his living room and put the crowns on our heads. In a second I was Reggie and he was me. It only took an instant to see that I made a terrible mistake. Reggie’s life was a horror show. What was worse was that he wouldn’t switch back. He grabbed up the jumper and the crowns and ran off to my house leaving me stranded in his shoes, his life and his aging body.
Almost immediately his enormous shrew of a wife, Josephine, came home angry at the world and heaping abuse on everyone and everything. I could see that Reggie loathed her and the rest of his life. “What was that weasel Dapp doing here?” Josephine sneered.
“Nothing, dear,” my cowardly answer came out reflexively.
“I don’t trust that creepy little snot. I want you to keep away from him.”
“Oh Ben’s not a bad guy,” I said.
“Like you could judge,” Josephine bore down on me like a freight train. ”Go change your clothes, the Dimmerman’s will be here at three.”
I wanted to get back to my house and get my jumper back but Josephine had spoken and I disobeyed at my peril. Dinner with the Dimmerman’s was excruciating in both its length and mind numbing dullness. I made a mental note never to jump into Dan Dimmerman’s head. Dan was an insurance adjuster with a side interest in algae. When dinner was over Josephine dragged me upstairs and demanded I service her. I found her body revolting but she seemed to enjoy herself saying, “I don’t know what’s gotten in to you, Muffkins, but I like it.”
As soon as I could I slipped out of bed and snuck over to my house. I stole up the steps to find my body in bed with Myrtle. I was immediately consumed with jealousy. I left them sleeping and began searching my house for the jumper. I must have been making more noise than I thought because I heard Myrtle wake up and send me downstairs to investigate. What transpired was an ugly confrontation between Reggie and myself in barely suppressed whispers.
“Where is it?’ I wanted to know. “It’s mine and I want it back.”
“I hid it,” Reggie said, “I’m never going back to that harridan. I like Myrtle. I like your body, I like your life. What’s that old expression about walking a mile in another man’s shoes?”
I was steaming mad. Our voices must have been rising because I heard Myrtle call down the stairs, “Is everything all right honey?”
“Everything’s fine,” we both said together. Then I glared at myself and reached Reggie’s old hands up to strangle my neck.” Reggie simply brushed my attack aside and whispered, “Get out of my house before I call the police.”
“Your house? Why you, you henpecked old fart,” again I lunged for his throat and again he batted me aside. He grabbed my pajamas in a tight fist and pulled my face until we were nose to nose.
“Listen up Dapp, you’re me now and I’m you and nothing’s going to change that. Now be a good little Muffkins and go back to Josephine and leave me alone. Oh and one more thing, what’s this with the sock puppets?”
I was totally humiliated. The next few weeks revealed just how awful a life can get. Josephine was a bully and a sexual tyrant. I felt like one of those exotic fish that are reduced to nothing more than a pair of testicles on the body of an enormous female. In addition to his haranguing wife, Reggie’s grown children hated him and he hated them. Reggie’s only joy came from working in his yard. Digging and weeding along side his friend, Jesus, a laborer dropped off by the lawn service twice a week. I personally never cared for gardening but I soon came to appreciate the respite it gave me and Jesus did seem like a nice guy although our communication was limited by our poor knowledge of each other’s language.
While I planted tulips, I plotted how to get my life back. I kept a close watch on the house. Reggie was having fun that was obvious. I could see him being a good father to Doreen and a caring husband to Myrtle. I hated his guts and planned my revenge. I waited until Reggie took my family on an outing and my house was empty. I let myself in and ransacked the place looking for the jumper. After hours of searching, I finally found it in the garage under a pile of old Hustler magazines. I was just about to take the equipment back to Reggie’s house when the garage door popped open and there they were. Reggie, Doreen and Myrtle all staring at me stuffing something in my shirt.
Reggie acted outraged and demanded his equipment back. Myrtle hustled Doreen inside to call the police. Reggie attacked me and easily overpowered me, ripping the jumper out of my shirt while sitting on my stomach. He let me up when Myrtle called out to tell him that the police were on their way. Indeed I could hear a siren waling in the distance. In desperation I grabbed a big wrench off the wall and fetched Reggie a mighty blow on his head. He went down like a bag of cement. There was a lot of blood, Doreen fainted, Myrtle screamed, the siren was only a few blocks away. I grabbed the jumper from Reggie’s hands and ran down the street toward his house. What had I done? I might have killed myself or was it Reggie? There was no time to examine the philosophical implications of what I’d done. I had to escape.
As I ran home I saw Jesus weeding the azaleas. I went up to him and pantomimed and gesticulated that I wanted him to put on the crown. “Bueno para los flores (good for the flowers)” I said in my high school Spanish. Good friend that he was, Jesus put on the crown and I did the same. In less time than it takes to tell, I was in Jesus’ head and the cop was coming over to arrest the bewildered guy. Jesus turned out to be a fortunate choice, as he couldn’t really explain that he wasn’t Reggie. The cop cuffed him and put him in the back of the squad car while the poor guy jabbered away in Spanish. They probably thought he was crazy as well as dangerous.
For my part I had a lithe young body, brown skin and a craving for tortillas. Best of all, I was free of Josephine and that hate filled family. It was a nasty thing to do to Jesus but I was sure it would all get straightened out in the end. I went back to weeding and after a while Josephine came out looking for Reggie. She asked me if I’d seen him. It was a real pleasure giving her a big dumb shrug like I didn’t understand a word she was saying.
Jesus’ life was dirty and unpleasant. The lawn service treated him like dirt stealing half his wages because he was illegal. What little he earned he sent most of it back to his extended family in Honduras. The only bright spot in this whole mess was that I had the jumper back and, if my body survived, I might be able to make things right.
I continued working for the lawn service and watching the comings and goings of both families. Josephine hired a lawyer to defend Jesus against the assault charge. She and the hateful children visited him in jail. I even saw her studying Spanish so that she could speak to him. She practiced some phrases on me but this time I really didn’t understand a word she was saying.
Myrtle and Doreen went to the hospital daily to visit the unconscious Reggie. I wanted to know how he was doing so I asked Myrtle in my most heavily accented English, “how Meester Dopp doing?” Myrtle said, “not good,” and burst into tears. I thought about going to the hospital myself and switching back into my own unconscious head. If I had to be a vegetable for the rest of my life then so be it. But before I could formulate a plan of action, fate intervened and I became even further removed from myself.
Fate materialized in the form of the INS. I was arrested in an immigration sweep and taken to a crowded holding cell somewhere. My jumper was taken away and I never saw it again. I was at more of a disadvantage that the ordinary illegal alien as my rudimentary Spanish made me seem especially stupid. I could speak to the immigration lawyers in fluent English but that would only blow my cover. The long and short of it was that I was deported to San Espirito, Honduras where I was warmly received by Jesus’ family.
So here I sit in my mud hut in San Espirito. I have six children and a host of aging aunts and uncles. We all live together in a single room with a dirt floor and an open fire. We go to mass on Sunday where I fervently pray for a miracle. I work our pitiful plot of land but life is very hard. One bright spot is that my Spanish has considerably improved. I often wonder how my old body is doing. If Reggie regains consciousness, I hope that he and Myrtle have a good life together. As for Jesus, stuck in Reggie’s old body, it has to be a pretty weird scene. If he gets off with good behavior he might enjoy living with Josephine. I don’t expect to see him show up here anytime soon.
As for me, well I am tired and undernourished. I may very well be a genius but there’s no opportunity to use any of my talents here. I suppose there is a moral in this tale someplace and maybe with enough reflection it will come to me. In the meantime there’s corn to plant and a dozen hungry mouths to feed.
Harris Tobias lives and writes in Charlottesville, Virginia. He is the author of several novels and dozens of short stories. His fiction has appeared in Ray Gun Revival, Dunesteef Audio Magazine, Literal Translations, Fried Fiction, Down In The Dirt, Eclectic Flash, E Fiction and several other publications. His poetry has appeared in Vox Poetica, The poem Factory and The Poetry Super Highway. You can find links to his novels at: http://harristobiasfiction.blogspot.com/
Links to his books: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/harris-tobias
A small bit of recognition for one of my collaborations.
E-Chap A. J. Huffman
Welcome to Frankenstein A.J. Huffman August 20, 2013
From Madness To Delight
I am so easily lost in your eyes, and you are so easily God in mine that together we are a kiss so deadly, the sky blinks black against not our light but its own.
A Shift of Realities
Can the world be lost in a touch? Yes, when that touch is yours. I can feel it flying through my life like a flame. It’s heat seeking my soul. Consuming it wholly. Holy, I give in. It isn’t a sacrifice. The light in your eyes is enough to fill and refill me with an eternity more expansive than any I could ever dream.
Hanging from Nothing
One look and I am your instant addict, dependent — wholly — upon your smile and the golden ring you choose to wear around your neck. Though, often, it seems pale — more yellow than not. It reminds me of a tie or a halo that has missed its mark. It never misses mine. I can feel it stretching – closing in around my neck like a noose, but far less forgiving. It just holds there, heavy, threatening, still.
In Empty Eternity
Here I am: a wasteland, waiting to collect the scraps you throw at my feet. Will they build me or break me behind this tired wired fence? No others will pass over. Your marks are too strong. And I miss the traffic. Those footprint-bruises that testified: I was alive. And worth something more than dust.
Essence is Everything
Fire . . . water . . . salt. These are the elements of our love. Our game: Light one; Drown two and grind the pain over all. Master versus master. We have each other covered. We could play for ever or for never. It all depends on whose scars crack first.
The Flood of Returning Sin
Your echo looks like me. All dying in wavering circles. And I am its soundless scream. (Growing louder in your absence). Touch me, and watch the silence break. But only for a second. That much pain cannot be interrupted for long. The cycle must complete. Or it cannot compete with itself. As I race headfirst for your shore.
Welcome to Frankenstein
Here is my finger. There is a tired piece of skin. Now watch closely. I can weave you a monster that will eat out of your hand, or I can weave you a monster that will eat your hand. It’s your call. And you’ll be surprised by your choice. (I know I was). But nobody’s perfect, and real evil they say, like beauty, is nowhere . . . but in the eye of the [be]holder . . .
Courage of the Eye
Hell is not easily conquered. Nor am I. When, twice as hot, you turn me against your face, and blow — hoping I will crack or crackle and float off like so much ash. I am sorry. I am not the dream you wished for. Rather, I am the nightmare you are stuck to. Here, let me pinch you. Too bad, it is too late to wake up.
The Burn of Colors
Can I watch the end of the world from the center of a desert overgrown with hate? Or will these pillars I have constructed lock me in my state? Worse than death, this life of solitude and heat has conquered me. Twice. With nothing less than nothing, I have surrendered myself to the view: Falling. Falling. Fallen is still an improvement from gone.
The Cry of a Mistaken Soul
Is there a choice for you other than me? Is there another nail waiting, empty on your wall? No. Don’t answer. I have seen its blood in your eyes. I understand. You still cannot set me free, and I could not go far without my wings anyway. Just turn me around. Please. I prefer not to see. Screams in the dark are enough to make me believe you are still real.
Running Through Delirium
I disintegrate inside my own thoughts every time your eyes leave me. So alone. Inside this space of a second, I cannot touch. I cannot breathe. My body falls: lame; turns to ash and scatters with a syllabic whisper: Good-bye.
In the unmade bed of the world, you left me. Crawling and crumpled among the unwashed sheets of my lifetime. Stained red, I am as guilty as they are. (And twice as silent).
In repentance, I am praying. [I know] I am paying for your sin as well as my own.
A.J. Huffman has published five solo chapbooks and one joint chapbook through various small presses. Her sixth solo chapbook will be published in October by Writing Knights Press. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, and the winner of the 2012 Promise of Light Haiku Contest. Her poetry, fiction, and haiku have appeared in hundreds of national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, Bone Orchard, EgoPHobia, Kritya, and Offerta Speciale, in which her work appeared in both English and Italian translation. She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press. http://www.kindofahurricanepress.com
E-Chaps-John Kaniecki One and Two
Cantos (The Lost Cantos of Life) Chapbook Two
By John Kaniecki
Poetry without a word The look in your eye heard Gently I kiss your lips Slowly we sway our hips In and out, out and in Where do you end and I begin?
My name to put with others A book massive speckled with dust Thousands of unknown lovers I hope it is more than lust For I open to you my soul I invite you into my life Abandon your will yet gain control Won’t you come and be my wife From the affairs of the heart I’ve never know success And that alone tears me apart Plunging my mind into dark distress Ah to kiss her lips so sweet To hear her gentle heart beat Can you relate you person unknown Can you share my restless moan? For though my words seduce To all the people who will hear I still say what’s the use Without the one I hold dear In sadness which all can relate The hour is not over though it’s late Good things come to those who wait The truth of it I cannot debate And wait I have, yes indeed You will know if I succeed For this book is my reflection It speaks of all my affection And for a moment that is this I show my horror and share my bliss With weighty words genuine and true A gift from me given to you Alas together in my bitter grief I know not you and your relief Are you as the one I love dear Whom I adore whom I fear Yes in terror I picture her face In agony my heart does race For when you love beyond yourself As I Love her more then I am When you’re through I’ll go on the shelf If you do or don’t give a damn She is real yet not here And you are genuine my reader dear Why the difference I don’t know Neither of you could I let go Sadness is a bridge over pain And tears are wholesome as rain For man who does not feel He cannot tell what is real And tears are a sweet reward More powerful then a savage sword For a blade it can only kill But gentle tears could break one’s will Yet I pretend too be proud To bitterly weep and wail aloud Some are so serious they never smile And these same people are in denial Nor do these folks shed a tear Even God himself they do not fear Yet I will cry in darkest night When I exist only in God’s sight Yet the revelation I did share To you dear reader are now aware Do you think me less or perhaps more Too lost to feel that’s what this is for To strike the chord that’s common to all To be understood by great and small Yes for her I feel terror’s grip See the tremor of my quaking lip In fear also is the audition Yes this fear has its suspicion My love I’m afraid lovers we’re not But in your heart I won’t be forgot More then a well spent Monday night More than the story of my plight This is a poem this is a tale If you had to think I did not fail We are humans and share that bond I hope that you will gladly respond In summary I want you to know this I have not a love but I have bliss You who read this poem understand On your shoulder I rest my gentle hand Though we’ve never met we are one But I must leave for my time is done Do not cry and please feel not rage If you need more than turn the page And if you my love you perhaps may be The one who is so special to me This sonnet may it charm your day And know I love you that I pray
You came and made a home inside my soul I’ve loved you madly since they day we met And though it’s been hard I have no regret My troubled spirit who else could console Who else could come and take subtle control When you are near my troubles I forget You are the ocean I want to get wet To finish the race is every man’s goal But with you near I have nothing to prove I’ve already won, I need not compete For it’s not by works only by grace Yet in rapid movements my heart does move It bothers me not this hellish heat For the glory of God I run the race Not for the prize but for devotion true Oh my sweet Lord Jesus how I love you
When is the road too rough? And when have I said enough? What is the purpose? Is the meaning deep Or is it a circus A thrill so cheap Why is poetry at all? Why some hear its call? While others don’t hear And mock and smear If I could touch one soul If I could brighten one life That is my worthy goal To rise above this strife To warm one heart cold With my story told That would be worth any pain If I could live not in vain To create but one smile It would all be worthwhile The road is too rough When you can’t go on I’ve had said enough When I’m gone
These words I use them well For this tale that I tell The masters before me In poetic story They have tried to express Both how to curse and bless But all that they can say Though they try as they may All is but a shadow Of the things that I know In this incarnation Of grace and salvation I have come to comfort To Love you and support Your tender fragile soul To help make you now whole And one day in some class Waiting for time to pass These words you will read And if I do succeed My hand firm and gentle Will squeeze slightly your soul And truly I am there To answer your deepest prayer That you don’t even know If but to answer no And now I shall address Why the world is a mess How with disease and pain With futile wars insane While babies starve to death With their life but a breath Life it seems so cruel God, he must be a fool Or perhaps lacking power To help in this dire hour But before you pass blame And curse God’s holy name Let me please now explain Why God he does refrain For in one whim of might God he could set it right Truly one day He will We wait for that day still But now it is today And once we pass this way In the mirror look deep See the reason we weep What have you ever done To help to touch someone You see such suffering Yet all you do is nothing What are you waiting for Become part of the cure There is so much to do The world it waits for you Your love is in great need So in Love do a deed Smile upon each other See each man a brother It is your life to live To gain you need but give You wait for a deed great Forever then you’ll wait A small step it’s begun Say hello it is done Give the vagrant a meal Ask him ‘how does he feel?’ All this, this is not new It’s what Jesus told you The Bible it will train It will speak and explain And I firmly believe What we give we’ll receive You will reap what you sow So open up and let go But these words of wisdom That so easily come They are but a facet Of the Holy Spirit For God is beautiful The soul is wonderful Anarchy in control Both the start and the goal See the works of his hand The universe so grand The flowers, birds and bees The tall mountains and trees To ocean wide and deep The dreams when we do sleep But now to your surprise I will open your eyes To the finest thing ever true That my friend it is you A creation unique It is to you I speak You were designed in care You’re an answer to prayer Only you can be you Just to yourself be true You have purpose in life To rise above the strife But before you get proud And shout glory so loud Open your two good eyes And then come to realize Each member of the race Why they are in your place The servant he will rule And the proud are a fool The future will not wait If you don’t love you hate It’s feast or famine It is virtue or sin From the heart you will speak Either proudly or meek You are finer then fine That a mystery divine Hear the answer from me It is your destiny To live and to do good Like as you know you should And though you stand alone Do not whimper and groan Because God knows life’s hard He will give a reward And finally know this That if the mark you miss If you hate and destroy And live in dark with no joy Important as you be You have done evilly If you don’t walk God’s way You will grow old and decay And you will leave this place Then you will see God’s face Truly then you shall fall For God, He gave you all You were God’s greatest joy Something you did destroy Listen to what I say Truly sinner you’ll pay
A clever man knows what to say A pious man knows what to pray Death must you always consume? No man lives inside a vacuum The standard the true weight Is show by a man’s fate Longevity life long and true Why then that speaks well of you But if a man is never to die Then truly he spoke in lie Perhaps not in elegance But certainly not by chance So read these words well As my story they do tell And as long as I’m alive These words they’ll survive For blessing or curse For better or worse It is but a point of view And both sides they are true
Canto 7 (Thinking of Hypo)
Even a mountain goes under change And as I see you it is all so strange For yesterday in the moment I now live The transcendental time to you I give Flooded by memories and vivid sensations Pieces of history give presentations Like a play changing scene by scene Each moment so special with Love in between Let us forget any difference there may be What was long ago is no longer me Though the past does shape and mold I pick the fond memories as I grow old And I can see your smiling face I am in a different place Not the past for you are now present Not the future but this very moment I wonder if our path shall again cross If they did not I’d count it as a loss But it is a long time this eternity And I say with absolute certainty What you and I had my dear old friend Once more we’ll meet before the end
It’s something too wonderful to know Them voices they tell me that it is so And no one believes so I am quiet Perhaps the truth would incite a riot But in the moment of the night still When your presence reveals your will No words could even begin to explain And that my friend is the source of pain Can a child speak unless he is taught But all of man’s teachings come to naught So here I am unable to express And my mind is turned into a mess It affects the very essence of me If nothing more it has set me free When they take everything all away Then you can go without having to pay Yet truly in every thought and act Prove that the love you give is a fact It’s a certainty that one day you’ll see I am in God and God is in me
What can be done what can you say When they come to take you away And you pray to God Allmighty That the neighbors won’t see
From the window I saw an eagle fly Soaring in the heaven’s azure blue sky Said my friend with pipe in his withered hand The universe’s mysteries I do understand My gaze lowered to view his wrinkled face If I wasn’t high I would leave this place But the Earth pipe he passed to me And I inhaled then I did disagree To admit omnipotence is a fatal sin Humility is the place to begin For knowledge alone solves no mystery at all True understanding is answering God’s call Then the wind whipped and sang a moan And I understood, yes I alone I looked upon the fool with great pity How futile is the chase to infinity Counting one by one is how they go Me I simply divide by zero It’s nothing special and nothing at all True understanding is answering God’s call The wine in my glass was once full to me But long ago I have made the vessel empty My friend was stoned and stoned I should be For to some being high is heresy
The critic said to me I’ve never seen such beauty And in all my humility I had to agree For the sun does shine And the moon also glows And it is divine What nobody knows The secretes of the universe The finality of the hearse But you are not gone Your words carry on From the grave deep You move me to weep I know who you are You are near and far And if it shall be Heaven is not fantasy On the other side of time Where life is a rhyme And God is the poet master In a place full of laughter In that holy place When I gaze on your face Could you make of me A line of poetry Beautiful to behold And pure never to grow old
The oyster shell I did cast aside For not a pearl did it hide But the meat was good to eat And for a time it was a treat
A day’s weather what could it be The wind and the rain felt by me And of course the beautiful sun Not elite but what’s done is done
The baby was before the man And anarchy exists with no plan What then shall we celebrate That perhaps sages shall debate
Insanity such a gentle muse Dangerous to touch delightful to use Guiding poets speak though dead I hear their voices in my head Not with words that say to much Still in communion we do touch
Be kind to me tomorrow’s history Mark me as more than a mystery What I am is what I be My words I speak freely
In my private world oh so fine Where love is not a crime With friendship sweet and divine In a place where I can rhyme There I the poet dwell Come and join me there God he’ll hear your prayer Even from the depths of hell
Have you a cigarette Here is one for you I truly regret It’s all I can do
I am righteous to care To love those who hate For I am truly aware All man God did create And what would I be To say to the Allmighty The work of his hand I have damned Damned in word and deed Those who are in need
I’m the flower that grew From the seed planted by you Hear as I softly explain You have not labored in vain And when it is my turn I pray that I can learn To give the all of me And to give my all for free
The man’s clothes were dirty worn and torn His hair was white as a winter morn I was sitting on a bench in a park When the man came up and did remark “All my life I’ve chased the morning breeze” “And when I do catch it I am at ease” I said to myself ‘Who can conquer the wind?’ Not I so this is surely a grievous sin I said my dear friend you’re just getting by I am confident you are telling a lie He looked upon me in a frigid gaze He said son I’ve lived many a days And by your answer I see you don’t know The secrets hidden in both high and low And the king he envies those carefree And the peasant looks up to the monarchy Me I once dressed fine with style In the past I had money for a while And I’ll admit it was my idol But I lost it all and found my soul I suffered yes I suffered hell But my pain it served me well Because when you reach the lowest low You only have up for you to go I said yes that’s one way for a person to see Call it what you want it’s still poverty He replied yes indeed yes indeed I too chased the demon called greed Yet here I am with just what’s on my back But you know what nothing I do lack With anger growing I hastily spoke Take your freedom it’s a joke He said son someday you will live to see That I am you and you are me I’ve no money but I am rich for sure You’ve got money but you are poor
It was later I was sipping my wine Thinking of everything that was mine Outside my window I heard the wind blow And I wondered where the homeless go Where do they sleep and how do they eat Where do they get clothes and shoes on their feet I suppose everything it has a price And I may have hell to pay for my paradise I would chase the wind yes I would But to be honest it would be no good For the breeze it has no start or end So I thought of my beggar friend Perhaps every word he said was true But then again what can I do So I raised up my crystal glass I took a sip and let the thought pass
These words set me free These words make me a slave Won’t you please remember me When I am beyond the grave Life is an endless chain Pass love from father to son And nobody no not one Has a life without pain Surely I feel hell’s fire I suffer cause things ain’t right And it is my desire To turn darkness into light So much words cannot say Like the joy of a sunny day Or the sweet blessed bliss That’s from a lover’s kiss For truly I will not die I will rise to heaven high And then you will all see That today’s tomorrow is a memory These words just cannot say About that holy blessed way
His lips gently caressed her cheek She tried but could not manage to speak Tears swelled up in her eye Why is it so hard saying goodbye
Day after day a more haunting face Death could be seen creeping up so We know God is good and full of grace But still we knew father had to go
To make love once more this starry night It won’t make it better but it must do The dawn came his arms still held her tight What was to last forever was through
Your such a loving mom sister said Fifteen minutes later she was dead A life of torment reached its end Now we have broken hearts to mend
It was for the best they did agree After all they were to be far apart They would both want to be free So spoke words far from the heart
In the coffin she looked at peace Sometimes you’re just better off dead At least all the agony will cease So the last goodbyes were said
Eyes, why do they seem never to meet You see me and then cross the street Equality you agree that it’s something good But not now not in your neighborhood And for everything is a season and a time But it’s been far too long for this crime
The preacher man with lines on his face, hair snow white Standing at the pulpit he was fully in the light My dear brother don’t you know it’s a sin Hell is full of things that might have been And in the pew in front of me a babe cried The lesson he gave it could not be denied I looked at the child and wonder what would be Maybe a doctor, president or judge, maybe he’d make history Then I thought, probably not, just an ordinary man And I smiled, that too is wonderful in God’s plan For just living life is a cause noble and true You take what you get and you do the best that you do Well the minister his voice was loud and clear And the words he spoke filled me with cheer Brethren you got to realize and understand The more you’re given the more God will demand I gave it all my heart and even my soul The tears fled my eyes rapidly out of control For deep in my mind the thought occurred to me In my small way I have made God happy For giving yourself is not a little thing In fact giving yourself is really everything
Written on recycled paper to save a tree A journal of his personal poetry Thoughts he’d never would want to share But still a desire to make us all aware With cryptic tongue he does compose Confusing us with what only he knows The rarest secrets of the universe They lay hidden deep in the verse I now do quote from the sacred source “Like a river true love takes its course Always moving in peaceful tranquility Filling forever the infinite sea The sea of Love without end or start In the deepest depth find my heart” He has the truth and the holy word But his voice will never be heard His poems safe and secure in his book Open only for himself to take a look He could never expose his soul The price to pay is too high a toll So his book which could bless and save Will be silent, secret to the grave
The heavens were a threatening gray So the man took a detour to a café He walked in despite the thin light His eyes adjusted giving him sight The place was empty as a barren womb But still fairer then the heaven’s gloom Past the vacant tables he sat at the bar In the shadows he noticed a man with guitar The barkeep said stranger welcome here The stranger sighed and ordered a beer The stranger asked can you play very well The guitar man said let your own ears tell Music flooded the room so ever so sweet The stranger said ah good sir what a treat The bartender applauded and called out loud The two of them were a delighted crowd The guitar man took a sip of red wine He said I’m looking for a particular line Something righteous but not too strong It will finish my work on my song The stranger spoke let me hear you play It will cheer me on this dismal day The guitar man tuned his instrument Then he spoke words heaven sent Love to me is the best of all Like a light in a lonesome night Nothing is sweeter than love’s call Nothing fills me with more delight Who could count the drops in the sea Who could number great infinity Who could reach heaven’s high Who could live and never die I tell you with certainty If I had your love it would be me Then the music stopped as if dead It’s not quite there the musician said Now I will give you your closing line Tell me if you find it to be fine Yes I could have it all it is true But it would mean nothing without you The barkeep spoke well done well done Guitar man won’t you play another one
The attic so dusty and gray With memories lost and hid away The old varsity football jacket A broken wooden tennis racket The wedding dress torn and white Then above it came to sight It was a wooden case tiny It was curious to me So I opened it with care A yellow letter was in there To Abigail it was addressed From ma to pa I guessed Sweetest of sweets you are My love knows no limit at all You are a shining star Into my arms you must fall It’s bigger than me and you It is love and love true Love it is eternal And love it is before all Ever before time began I was destined to be your man So put down your guard And don’t make things hard It was signed your love true Be still and know that I love you I closed the box so gentle And had a tear sentimental I thought about my style And I grinned a great smile And thought that maybe someday Some one will find hid away These very words I now write And on that chance that one might Let me say with certainty I love you and you love me
I see the light with my eyes Is it sun set or sun rise? Are you coming or are you going Is there any way of knowing Are you just a fantasy Or are you a reality
In my tribulation I dreamed of you I hurt so badly that’s all I could do Still is night coming or is it to be day I lick my wounds and I earnestly pray
I sailed on the sea of madness In solitary solitude I knew sadness Is that land on the horizon Or it is simply another illusion
They say God is proper and just And my only choice is to trust That there was reason for the pain That my suffering was not in vain
Not loving you is my one regret For all forever I’ll never forget Is it happiness or sorrow Won’t you share my tomorrow
It’s like swimming upstream But hey I can still dream I’m getting nowhere real slow But where else could I go Work for some Wall Street firm Transform from a man to a worm To hell with that I’d rather die Life is worth nothing living a lie So I hope for an illusion Is it fantasy or delusion But yet I shall carry on I’ll be famous when I’m gone Though my rhyme’s not so clever Still it will live on forever
Canto 27 (for Donna)
Mother died and you’re all alone with your Rosary Wondering why has God abandoned me You were always nice if a little slow And the children they would tease you so But there is a God I am certain And I realize that you are hurtin’ And endless life of confusion and pain With day after day bringing only rain But the end isn’t here there’s still time to live And perhaps God in His mercy shall forgive For he knows your turmoil and sorrow I pray for you and a better tomorrow And Donna I look at you and I see So many others like you in misery May I be a friend to all those alone To the multitude of people unknown True love is something hard to find Certainly most of the world has gone blind The crowds all running in a sick race Never really going to a particular place They have their riches you have your poverty But ask now you are a part of me Feel the warmth of arms holding tight O Donna, sweet Donna it’ll be all right
I open my soul And despite my pain I strive to the goal That I must attain
Will you share Your deepest prayer That you dare not say In the light of day
I’m a sinner true But no worse than you Say different you lie So sad I can cry
So dark your fetish Ecstasy my wish For better or worse A blessing or curse
When you think of me Are your thoughts kinky? Some one to lean upon Do I turn you on?
Canto 30 (The final words on the matter for now)
I’m gonna kick the dragon in the face Then I will go to heaven and leave this place Have your celebration and rejoice that I’m dead But when I arise remember the words I said I am the wind I am the hurricane I am the gentle breeze Don’t come a beggin’ don’t come a beggin’ please Obedience is not a sin but I still feel I must hide If I spoke plain I would surely be crucified So take it as an art form and don’t get mad Say this poor boy what a unique angle he had Yes indeed I make you think, your brain reels Yes laugh out loud but no else knows how it feels
If God I was a mad man I’d be But I’m not angry I’m not angry I am just a man as you can plainly see If God I was a mad man I’d be
Did you think? Did I challenge reality? Could a man be god or god be a man If Jesus did then other people can If maybe to kiss a moment infinity For a second to know true divinity If God I was a mad man I’d be So here my good friend is the conclusion I certainly hope you enjoy my illusion I will once again speak my lonely decree If God I was a mad man I’d be
Some of the Cantos were published separately by Whisper Poetry Magazine.
John’s new anthology of science fiction stories.
John Kaniecki e-Chapbook One
A Day’s Weather By John Kaniecki December 29, 2013
Water of Life
A son, a son I have a son My wife has given Birth to a living child Someone to teach Someone to reach To show him all of life’s joy My blessed little boy Daddy I Love you Yes it’s really true I lifted my small one My precious son Rubbed my unshaven face Next to his tender face Great beauty, laughter Brought by my little daughter Dad I Love you Yes it’s really true So I lifted my girl And gave her a gentle whirl Oh how I Love you Yes it’s really true The eagle did rise High into the skies Fly, fly, fly away fly Ever up on high Past the reddish Mars Beyond the distant stars Fly, fly, away high Ever on high You are forever free Just like the truth Let it be free
Down the rains came, Splattering heavenly tears Mourning over sinful years Mankind is still the same Playing the part of the fool Same today as yesterday We cannot even obey The simple Golden Rule
Hollow Echo of the Rain I contemplate the child* Starving in places wild Tightened skin showing bone Sad and solemn all alone No sunshine in his day No one is there to say I love you Terrible and true
The Water Washes
We are beasts
Like foolish cattle led to slaughter While we revile in drunken laughter They starve as we feast
The Dark Clouds
The peacock struts so proud Singing his song out loud Saying, “Look at me, look at me” “Gaze upon my beauty” Like Lucifer forgetting his place He’s nothing without God’s grace
Can’t See the Sun
At the candidates debate A noisy crowd gathers The masses come to hear Their leaders relate What do the people get? Routine speeches From past preaches Is there a solution yet The politician searches his feeble mind Searching for the right line So he may shine Rhetoric is so unkind
A crash and rumble Will the sky tumble? Is it day or night? All is black in sight Lightning illumes the sky A blaze from up high Now the flash is gone Darkness carries on What a deep grave howl Like a wailing owl The trees are thrown down Water floods the ground Crash, Thum, Kerboom Is it the time or our doom? A pitter patter What is the matter?
The lion springs His roar it sings To the unsuspecting flock They feel terror Disaster All immediately attempt to flee To a distant safety But the young, elderly And the lame Are abandoned by those scattered in fear The beast swiftly came Already too near There is one His life is done He withers about In the lion’s bloody mouth Slurp, crack, munch The lion has his lunch Red over his mane As he starts the hunt again
God bless you please Gentle breeze A west wind whistles Through the thick thistles The fog has blown We’re not alone The clouds move Just to prove There is a simple change Life can rearrange So do not mope There is hope
Hey will you be my friend We’ll be loyal to the end We can share our toys Laughs innocent boys They are guiltless when they Forget their father’s way
Colt arise Open your eyes Life has just begun Soon you will run Nuzzled by mother’s nose How graceful a horse grows Walking in but a day Soon galloping on his way Gittup, gittup and run Life has just begun
Where Does It Blow?
United Nations It takes such patience See, the entire world come together Blah, blah, blah Yah, yah, yah Well at least for the moment they’re not killing one another
Clean as air Sky everywhere No more rain Clouds have passed again The breeze blew the fog by Such beauty revealed on high See the moon, the starry choir In sweet harmony
Freedom of speech All may preach Trial by jury All to be free
They gather around the fraternity table All of them a bit shaky Some outright flakey But somehow together they are stable Brothers each and every one To share a bit of beer In celebration they cheer Poking fun over each other It’s just fun brother to brother In the end they will all awake Each from a drunken state Forgiving with no hate All moaning with a headache
Sunshine on Saturday
Easy going Let’s all sing We’ll have a band to play Picnic in the green grass Good fried chicken Finger licking Watch the day slowly pass Good friends around Singing laughter’s sound It reaches me Happily
Blessed Brilliant Room
Bluebird Your song is heard Softly You sing to me Tweet, tweet, tweet The melody is complete Chirp, chirp, chirp, chirp
Glowing ball of fire Rising ever higher Light glowing all around It is brightness a simple sweet sound Oh today, what a day Let love come shine my way Warmth all over my face Wonders of God’s grace Life from the sun you know It makes everything grow Come let us give God praise For the wonderful days The Light is a delight Shining forever bright
Happy birthday Today’s your special day How old are you? It don’t matter now
Here have a lift This is your gift It fits you just right Why don’t you wear it tonight? As we go out And drive about Very near or far In your brand new car
The floods came and there was a drought But it is not the same Help was sent out Gifts from about Food to feed the poor We’ll suffer no more
Thank you o’ so much For a Loving touch I think about the child How sweetly he has smiled His whole life to live All his Love to give Thank God for the child Thank God for the child Tears I silently weep Tears of joy as I watch the babe sleep
The puppies suckled together Receiving milk from mother Warm, close, never to be alone Comfortable in their happy home
Rejoice in the Rain
Ring the bell The whole world I will tell Today blessed is my life For I now have a wife One to share all my joy We will build and not destroy Our Love will grow How I want her to know I Love her so On this joyous day Praise God for all his Love Praise the Lord high above O the wonders I’ll tell Ring the bell, ring the bell
The Sun Shower
Come and see the sun is shining Yet water is showering Behold this very great hour We have a sun shower The water cools me down I have a smile and no longer a frown Blue is the sky today Happiness without delay
The prodigal son took all and left leaving none behind To search for glory, but what in lust did he find? False friends and pleasures carnal that did not satisfy So in hunger and poverty he gave out a cry To return to his Father the son gave it a chance The Father ran when he saw his precious one return He killed the fatted calf and they partook of a merry dance The lesson of forgiveness and redemption is one to live and learn
What could be better than this? A day filled with overwhelming bliss Look up in the heavens with a glow There lies a glorious rainbow Sevens rays a colored delight Fills my heart with unending light
We are children All of one kin Gathered we came To praise his name Songs of joy in our voice Greatly we rejoice Hallelujah praise Jehovah Praise the Lord Hallelujah We knelt to pray In thanks for the day We ate the bread and wine Proclaiming the Lord is mine And proudly we declare The Lord is near
God is Love Love is the most excellent way Love is patient Love is kind It does not envy It does not boast It is not proud It is not rude It is not self-seeking It is not easily angered It keeps no records of wrongs Love rejoices with the truth, Always protects, always trusts, always preserves Love never fails What more can I say unto you Then may God greatly bless you.
E-Chap Alexis Stolis
All my lovers have given me music July 24, 2013
Table of Contents
The One Night Stand
The Punk Rocker
The Bird Lover
The Bartender=Leonard Cohen & Arctic Monkeys
broad strokes of red her mouth close to my nipple air crowding into my lungs I’m parched hungry There was her kid’s first day of school, the safety of her grandmother’s house. There was a Father, Son and Holy Ghost breathing down my neck. We were straight up and straight down, knocked out loaded and ready to roll. The Actress=Kate Bush & Johnny Cash bold slashes of spring cramped bellowed wings that beat in time with the tick tick tick of grandfather’s watch her eyelashes flutter on my cheek and I bleed For her birthday we did it in a church. We weren’t who we wanted to be. We weren’t where we thought we’d be. We lived in a storybook house on a fairytale street; it was easy. There was a subtle shift in gravity, a void so pillow-soft we could sleep forever.
The One Night Stand=The Pretenders & The National
long-legged dreams black duffel-ed wandering into highways under tunnels hoarse from making love always thirsty from the sweet and salt of her She’s a double locked door, a secret agent and I wanted her sex so badly the guilt stuck to the back of my throat. She said she needed it slow, like a honeyed cloud breaking up in the sky. We delude each other. We ended the way we began; anonymous and blurred.
The Waitress=Dylan & U2
I’m lit up ashen she’s lipsticked armed dangerously as leaves float waver into desire want the trees cover our escape We used to be simple, second nature, like sucking in your breath at sub-zero temps or falling in love with the wrong person. We definitely needed to not see each other anytime soon. We never forgot where we were. The grass stopped growing; it was lonely in the shower that morning.
The Optimist=Ike Reilly & The Kinks
we’re fading & unsteady fixtures made of wax filled with bones & rag going nowhere together believing anyone but this moment We never got it quite right. The way things used to be. No going back to that last moment, the one that counted for nothing. She was lying next to me, all mine, she said. Unsheathed, pale white in the first hour before it became light. I got up, opened the shade; waited for thunder.
The Revolutionary=The Clash & Big Star
we’re marked & willing to fall & get up again & again permanently stoned she kisses she’s silent she’s everywhere but here We were flammable and combustible. Strung out and hard wired to implode with a moment’s notice. Back then it was folk songs and green fields, bright leaves and ripe fruit on the ground. We created bedtime stories to tell our fortune, washed our past clean in the hollow glow of sinful flesh.
The Idealist=Aimee Mann & The Jayhawks
gravel roads her hair in my eyes winter frost her shoulder on my cheek a red barn her breasts against my back yellow fields her lips to my ear We belonged to whatever emptiness happened along. We were a carnival, she was the knife-throwers wife; I sawed her in half to prove my worth. We were stone out of luck, sobered and all ready to hit the road. We knew how it was; bitter, complicated, we needed a pinch of regret to soften the blow. The Punk Rocker=Sinatra & Miles Davis she was a loaded gun-shy girl she was an every time always girl car-bombed & priceless she kisses me kisses me now or maybe then her hair shorn goodbye stranded me We called it an awakening, a quickening, so frighteningly unreal it had to have been real. Two hemispheres worth of stars collected at the bottom of the earth. We attributed our sins to misfortune; if only we had the right translation we could have become heaven-bound and free.
The Bird Lover=Billie Holiday & Death Cab for Cutie
one two no one could know three four we keep hidden & unforeseeable five six the last time we met seven eight she was on my side & now it will never be then There was a shine to the highway; a red-tail hawk perched atop the exit sign; an abandoned Cadillac marked the left turn. She was a suicide girl, a runaway kite in a gust of wind. She told me there is more to a picture than words. I wanted to save her but it would’ve been saving her from me.
The One=The Replacements & Nick Cave
I want to swallow you whole feel you dissolve I want to see you taste you wake to the cruelly soft crush of never The bed is unmade, we are undone; you break silence with a breath and become the sky, dark blue and even, smooth against rough clouds. The bedspread is forgotten on the floor, leg shifts over leg and every new touch turns into another prayer. We feel the weight of knowing.
Bio Alex lives in Minneapolis
E-Chap Joseph Farley
CROW OF NIGHT
by Joseph Farley copyright 2013 by Joseph Farley
An E-Chapbook for Jeanette Cheezum’s Cavalcade of Stars April 24, 2013
There is a fire in me And it is burning Soon I will become ash, But not before I glow Bright and red For a moment or two Bringing warmth and light To this cold dark night.
Conversation with a Nuclear Engineer
“Christ, an earthquake that size? A tsunami that strong? Who designs a reactor to withstand anything like that?”
I thought you did until now. Now, I just pray, and try to remember all those lessons I learned as a school child about ducking and covering,
useless except to redirect your mind while the world around you disappears in a flash.
The Criminal Element
Pickpockets are out for your vote. They stick their fingers in your ears and force you to read their lips, claiming they are saying words of truth and meaning while making faces at you. When you are thoroughly confused they will hand you a ballot already marked with a skull and crossbones. Then you may feel a cold hand shoved deep in your pocket or lower still against blushing skin, grabbing as much as they can, at least your vote, if not your soul.
For Those Whose Pens Have Been Broken
In the land of the iron fist poets are feared by those who hold the chains and loved by those wear them.
Of course these menaces must be squelched. Broken or dead their bodies bleed ink, their words staining more than prison walls leaving their black smudge on the pages of history and the consciences of readers.
The wolves wait in silence for our tears to end.
“Stiff upper lip,” they whisper, as we lament our wounds
and the memory of being beaten and abandoned in a drainage ditch.
“What is gone is gone,” They remind us,
Their fangs appear so gentle as they reassure us
of the deepening night. and what will come with it.
The wolf has got me in her jaws.
As I die, this love must end.
Bless her teeth and her paws,
and all her pups with starving eyes.
A heavy sack
You can not take back your words. You can not take back your deeds. You can only carry your memories, both good and bad, in a heavy sack upon your back as you climb hills and stare at the sun wondering where the path you are on leads, and if it will circle and bend so you can begin again.
There was an old priest who taught theology in my high school. He always had a bottle of 7 – Up on his desk. He taught that grace was a gift from god that can be obtained from partaking in the sacraments.
One day we had a new teacher. Our priest had been sent to a rehab center. His 7 – Up bottles had been filled with gin.
What grace comes from this? A drunken man’s sense of balance as he weaves along the street, negotiating the pitfalls that arise from the cracks in the sidewalk?
Maybe that is all the grace we need, and a strong drink the only blessing we can obtain.
To Be Is To Go
the light was green so you kept going
driving through city streets
farmer’s fields, forests,
over mountains from sea
to gulf to ocean
if someone were to holler “stop”
It is there
indefinite and insubstantial
as faces carved in clouds,
less certain than the wind
blowing sand against mountains;
the vast canvas of creation,
waiting for granite sculptures
words are needles, a momentary sting triggering pain and pleasure, memory and emotion.
these needles sew together bits of our lives, and would bind them with thoughts and dreams, and make a tapestry
of cobwebs, shattered as easily as the small bridges linking grass blades in the morning dew.
Mist and Dew
In the vanishing mist that was our lives try to cling fast to every blade of grass so when sun beams burn us away some small part of us yet may stay.
a grain of sand
one grain of sand among infinite granules
one grain of sand longing
for a single drop of grace
to create an oasis in an endless desert
one grain of sand one grain of sand
lost in the desert of hunger and doubt
Crow Of Night
black crow black sky feather fingers beating dark carrying the seed of the sun in yellow beak
About the Poet:
Joseph Farley is a graduate of St. Joseph’s Univeristy and Temple University. He edited Axe Factory form 1986 to 2010. His books and chapbooks include Suckers, For the Birds, Longing for the Mother Tongue, Waltz of the Meatballs, and Her Eyes.
Variations of “To Be Is To Go,” “On Fire” and “Learning Grace” appeared previously in Sketchbook.