Alx Johns

There’s more territory out there, don’t you know?

You, person who might have been you.

You used to want to roam

so far so bad you’d strangle yourself

on the leash to get to nothing but the need

to get to somewhere else, poor dog

or whatever you are.

Here you are forgetting where you just were

or where you want to be,

so present in the moment of relief.
What you’ve got left: your
ability to slowly eat, see

the liquid through your body, pee, recognize

shape and scene

though not what they mean

or connect you to, you
close-to-blind canine Buddha being

setting down your leg,

your tail already in a coma,

your nose playing tricks on you.

You are born again again.

"PISSING IN THE SAME SPOT OVER AND OVER LIKE A DOG WITH ALZHEIMER’S" is from Alx's new collection of poems DARWIN'S BOOK OF SAINTS, which is available for pre-order from Aurore Press in Cincinnati and will be published this month. "If you think you don’t like poetry, I bet you’ll like this poetry. If you do like poetry, you’ll need this book to carry on." — Matt Hart

"Hands, Nails, Singing" - Griffin Hamstead

"Hands, Nails, Singing" - Griffin Hamstead

After all these years
still rang the buzz
saw in his iron ears
still sang the blow
torch the song of
welding, whirring not
withstanding the strength
of once-calloused two
hands his greatest tool
and now his only
oath a bowl of mill
oats sat comfortably
his lap, his ass upon
his now new-clean work
bench, condition: used.

His hat hung up upon
the doorway, checked
out when his fingers
trembled, his feeling
troubled, his feeling mind-
muddled, his dear wife
kind-cuddled, yet she
face-to-back, his eyes
glass and out against
the window where rain
whistled, pitter-pitter-pat
-ting the pocket protecting
his keys, the key of them
marked by a ruby-red
rubber seal to the
gateway he had locked
himself out of.

Now, returned, a turn
to take once more
he looks, glances at
a room once more than
taking-up garage space.
His cracked-tobacco paws
glide across crumbling wall
gently, firstly, then pause
to grip the faded toy
hammer, given as his first,
then burst his boxed-in
heart, memories of every
sculpted part of many
monumentos de madera
hecho por manos, los miles.

A smile rises, se risa
his hands now clasped
eight nails, four boards
two-by-four under arm
-ed by a hammer:
1. grandfather clock, not his
2. bookshelf, oak, not his
3. coffee table, dark, not his
4. projects tabled, his
5. never able perfect, him
6. crib, a child, never his
7. playground fort, no longer his
8. lay plain forgotten, his
crafts outweighing always
his craft, now picks up the
frame, hangs it upon an un-
used wall nail and places
neatly in the center a ruby
-red key, and walks, step-
by-backwards-step, eyes
not shutting for even a
moment, shutting the door.

"Tat Tvam Asi = Thou Art That" - Jonathan Brown

"Tat Tvam Asi = Thou Art That" - Jonathan Brown

Seeing the god light
squeaking through the grey
clouds after the rain shower

reminds me how
when you die
you lose your body
but keep your soul,
and your soul is older
than all the oak trees,
but only the acorns know
how the elegy goes.

Last night is a past life.
Thou art that.
You used to be
a blade of grass
but then a cow
moseyed in
and grazed on you
and later
in the maze of truth
you turned around
and ate a steak.

You can count how many
seeds make up an apple.
But can you count the apples
in an apple seed?


We beg the infinite
to be consistent
as if time were listening.
We are made of god,
god light, light, water
and time; but time is man

and manmade. Seasons
don’t chase each other
because nature doesn't
get impatient. But we do.

Is it C’est La Vie or Déjà vu
or neither or some
variation of the two
when whatever we focus on expands?

You go places.
Places disappear.
You’ve been the plane
and the tarmac.
You’ve been the bus boy,

the bell hop, and the bar back.
You’ve been the market crash
and the Arby’s bag. You’ve been

apart yet been a part of all that.
You’ve been thirty and twelve
and seventy years old.
You’ve been told and you’ve told

and you’ve been told again.
You’ve dictated and you’ve been awaiting
instructions from something greater
than yourself but somehow
you still feel separate
as if there was such no such thing
as everybody else.

"my theory on going to bars" - Joe Milford


"my theory on going to bars" - Joe Milford

take twenty dollars worth of quarters
go to a place with at least two payphones
and one jukebox

you go in weighed down and loud
wear pants twice your size, at least
don’t adjust your belt and drink a pitcher

of Newcastle, you won’t have many quarters
left, but, on the jukebox play the Pretenders,
Social Distortion, the Clash, and get rid
of your twenty dollar lodestone

it is a dollar for a game of pool
or for a bowl of popcorn and you make two
calls you shouldn’t have and then
you are weaseled, bamboozled, or muscled out

then you slink home lithely, weightlessly
under the buzzing of an Iowa sky, steeples,
the skyline, the street guitarists, the closed
and locked-down bratwurst carts, and the train

is crossing the road two blocks
from your front door
as you watch it roar
and roar inside

"The Degradation" - Joe Milford

"The Degradation" - Joe Milford

Waffle House, also known by the retired police officer son of the confederacy gun aficionado I currently live with in a haunted house as “awful waffle,” and in walks this guy, gaunt one, lanky, gruff, long-faced, an iggy pop-type if iggy had ever been a trucker and iggy at one point probably was, a gibby haynes type, a jesus lizard/david yow type, a ribcage and socket set kind of character, a tom waits jacket sleeve, etc. he crosses the grease and bleach brick floors of the establishment towards his niche at the grill and shortly after, no kidding, johnny cash finished playing, the relative easiness in playing a cash song, and he walks in and says, “here comes the degradation,” and he is wearing this please-don’t-shoot-me-I-am-not-venison blindingly orange hat and he fires up the grill and I realize he is bringing the degradation—I know I am about to eat the best goddamn hash browns of my entire life and in the local paper here in Moreland—the home of THE LEWIS GRIZZARD MUSEUM and the ancient towtruck parked in front of it—they have a spot where they transcribe witty exchanges on CB frequencies—so, with great enthusiasm out unto every airwave,  I say, “bring the degradation”—let it come scattered like stars, covered like atmospheric pressure, smothered like a dead moon, chunked like an asteroid belt—bring the degradation grease monkeys, bloodshot hellions with spatulas—yes—bring the degradation.—it’s about time the penalties of the known cosmos were brought forth by 135-pound shaven rusty-shears grill chefs—it was only inevitable—as good degradation should be.  bring it down like antifreeze suicide.  bring it down like acid rain southern rock festival.  bring it down like a demolition-derby tornado.  bring that degradation.  yep.

"The King Lear Glee Club" - David Noah

"The King Lear Glee Club" - David Noah

The only member of the King Lear
Glee Club and Dancing Society
meets this morning on a bus stop bench
in the Kroger parking lot to perform
the Off This Mortal Coil Shuffle.
His hair is ruffled,
his mouth is agape in an empty O—
O! O! O! O!—
while only his own fingers
play on his xylophone ribs.

He rises to scuttle crabwise among the Pontiacs
and Chryslers, peering into their windows
to sneer at the food wrappers and baby seats,
occasionally keying a perfect car door
with a precisely inscrutable line.  He bends
to see his hair-choked face in a side view mirror
and weeps to find it there.

The grocery store draws him in
and he makes his entrance with stiff pride—
the magical doors open at his kingly command—
but no one looks.  He bellows, retreats,
going out to go in again, sure this time
that the muzak plays for him,
that the florescent lights shine to ennoble his royal brow,
that the silver linoleum has been laid for his own bare feet.

He orders his sullen subjects to shop, 
to pick vegetables and push carts,
to edge away from him in silent awe 
and well-deserved respect as he stomps
and titters, rehearsing the arguments
proving his divinity—which is evident
in the cereal aisle where angels find bran flakes,
in the meat and poultry section where he sees signs
forked into the bare bodies of dead animals,
in the perfumed pharmacy stinking of corporeal decay,
in the candy treats on shelves too low to reach,
for what sane king would bend for mere sugar,
and in the narrow-eyed stare of his fool
who gathers baskets and mocks his own mockery with secret love.

Or does he?  What is the bottom of mockery,
where is its top?  Peel back the ordered linoleum tiles
and the abyss crouches, scissor open the roof
and find empty air, entangle the nerves with bargains,
and you will save nothing.  

Nothing in the parking lot
nothing among the vegetables
nothing in the dairy products
nothing in the empty registers.

He stumbles outside where a storm gathers
above the automobiles.  I forgive you, lightning,
he mutters, but not that bitch Cordelia.  
By his mad decree the winds roar
the sky boils and the clouds hurl their cataracts
till the power lines snap.
And then the darkness comes.

Crazy proud blind Lear staggers a two-step 
and opens the first unlocked car door he finds,
sits dripping on the plastic-covered throne,
places knuckled hands on the great wheel.
Turn, he begs.  Turn.

(photo by David Noah)

"A Weekend Concert for Copernicus" - Joey Connolly

"A Weekend Concert for Copernicus" - Joey Connolly
   “Listen dear readers with your eyes and ears
   And you shall hear the music of the spheres;
   Cosmic cha cha for millions of light years
   Use your imagination to shift mental gears.”

(the bands you'll miss on gravity-free Friday)
Red Shift and the Sonic Boomers
Martin Marietta and the Boeing Boeings
General Relativity and the Theorists
The Cosmic Cupcakes
Neut Rino and the Boson Particles
Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space
Simon L. Taneous and the Super Novas
Todd O’Globo & the Globular Clusters
Doctor Dud and the Dwarf Star Thuds
Red Giant and the Yellow Suns
Lead Boots and the Lunar Landers
The Duke of Drones with the Martian Rovers
Plutocrats Redux and the Planetoids
Singularity & the Thresholds
(bands on Saturn’s Day)
Galileo and the Galaxy Girls
The Milky Wayvers
Sailor Star and the Hawk Kings
The Oristas of Everything
Orbit Elliptico & the Copernicans
Asteroid and the Meteorites
Sunny Saturn and the Ringers
Tobor and the 8th Dimension Dudes
Iggy Imploder and the Big Bangers
Astral Project - Alive and On the Inside
Heavy Waters and the Light Years
Gravitas with Ambient Pressure
Dark Matter and the Right Stuff
Dirk Energy and the Unknown
(closing the concert stage on the day of the Sun)
The Doppler Gangers
Scrunch Up the Photons
Quirk Quark and the Fibonacci Storks
Trans Planckian and the Timestoppers
Kepler’s Katzenjammer Kids
Tycho Brahe & the Silver Nose String Band
Feynman’s Future Four
The Jetsons' Jug Band
My Favorite Martian Music Band
Interstellar Overdrive
Buck Rogers Photon Energy Band
Atomicritus and the Anti Particles
Fang Lizhi and the Celestial Dragons
Hubble’s See Farther Sextet
Nicolaus Copernicus was born in Poland on 19 February 1473. [The painting: "Astronomer Copernicus, conversation with God" / "Astronom Kopernik, czyli rozmowa z Bogiem" is by Jan Matejko, 1873]