"Everyone steps in a bear trap" - David Noah

"Everyone steps in a bear trap" - David Noah

Everyone steps in a bear trap,
and wears it as an anklet, painful,
invisible to the eye, but making a clanking
nevertheless, and audible even when
we speak of the stars.
Everyone bears a crown, unseen,
a hat with a hole to the sky,
a bit of panache as the world goes by,
and the light falls in, even when
we speak of the dark.

(Self-portrait by David Noah)

Saturday DECEMBER 14: Celebrate the release of "Everything Mad with Love" by Athens author, artist, poet and photographer David Noah @ Normal Books, Prince Avenue in Normaltown.
"Everything Mad With Love" is a collection of street photographs taken in New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Athens, GA. The photos are unconsciously made fables sprung in an instant from the spaces in our ordinary world. Circus artists, lovers in parks, mirrors in Times Square, cement dinosaurs, and tragic pedestrians all find a home in these images. David will hold a brief chat about his book and photography and then sign books.
David Noah has been a photographer for many years and lives with his wife in Winterville, GA. He has worked as a printer, an art teacher, and an academic. His work is often included in local juried exhibits such as the yearly shows at Lyndon House and OCAF.

"Her Rage" - Aralee Strange

"Her Rage" - Aralee Strange
If anybody can save this world she’s a woman
and is she pissed
pre-fabricated domesticated deformed and suppressed
underdressed depressed obsessed with herself
seduced made ashamed and treacherous
made less.
She will raise her voice in hallelujiah!
she will raise her eyes and equal to
she will raise her fists if she needs to
she will know how.
And she will ask:
How if we waste the children who will lead us
shall we endure?
Why must they atone for the sins of the fathers
who sacrifice to their false gods all life
for the sake of pride and poor judgement
for who owns what
who own nothing
who know nothing
who would have us murder and destroy
them and how many of us
to save face
to prove whose god is great
who owns the night
whose mighty fist is biggest?
And she will say:
Let my will be done
for a change
my ways my means
my benevolence my praise
my rage
my rage.

Aralee Strange was the founder and guiding light of Word of Mouth. The first open mic was held upstairs at the Globe on December 2, 2009. Aralee, a poet and playwright, was born on December 5, 1943 in Macon, Georgia, from where at a young age she moved to Birmingham, Alabama. After living and working in Atlanta, Georgia, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and New York City, Aralee then settled for more than twenty years in Cincinnati, Ohio. In March 2007, she moved to Athens, Georgia, and lived there until her passing on June 15, 2013.
THE ROAD ITSELF, the first collection of her work, was published in October 2018 by Dos Madres Press in Cincinnati and is available here.
"The Road Itself rambles through a singular poet’s life and distills the world through her unflinching gaze; its author taking her own measure and the world’s without romantic filters. A 2 a.m. prophet, Strange declares to America, the mean and beautiful, I am an alarm clock / and I am ringing. Even so, there is the medicine of dirt and train song; there is the bandoneon and the saxophone; there is Strange, inviting you, step into the center / shall we dance?” In her life, Aralee drew a circle wherever she lit and pulled in poets from every which way." - Michelle Castleberry 

[Photo of Aralee by Bob Brussack]

"Brushwood and Thorns" Cleo Creech

"Brushwood and Thorns"
Cleo Creech

If you are brushwood and thorns,
you have been forced to become so,
to survive, to live, tough and twisted.
Your branches borne against ravages
the harsh unyielding elements
roots searching through barren soil.

Yet the roots of smallest weeds
can over time turn rocks to dust.
The miserly old trees above.
whose roots suck the soil dry,
though tall, find themselves corrupt,
rotting, hollow from within.

The storm approaches, winds shift;
sounds of cracking wood, crashing trees,
falling under their own dead weight.
Then upon gentle rains and a new day,
the brushwood and thorns leaf green
Remembering that they are roses

CLEO CREECH has been published online in White Crane and other journals. He is the founding editor of Java Monkey Speaks, a continuing anthology series of Atlanta-area poets, and is a past editor of Georgia Poetry Association. About "Brushwood and Thorns," Creech comments: In an effort to dismiss the protesters the president of Iran referred to them all as mere "brushwood and thorns." This has now been taken up as a ralllying call, and point of pride among protestors. Governments should be careful what they call their detractors, it may come back to haunt them, just ask the Cuban gusanos." 

"Maxwell Demon Bottle" - Ezekiel Black

"Maxwell Demon Bottle" - Ezekiel Black

Bleach [ME blechen < OE blæcan “whiten,”
deriv. of blāc “radiant, ablaze,” originally,
“without hue,” e.g. “He saw the firelight,
the brilliant beams that brightly shone.”
blāc alt. sp. of blæc, cf. BLACK]
An argument in barefoot
to track a rabbit in the young snow,
a rabbit smoking a tavern pipe.
Lampblack from the gaslight,
marrow and pitch, the portcullis.
Sirrah, sirrah, sirrah, obelus.
Black [ME blak < OE blæc, “jet, dark,”
also n. “ink,” e.g. “The guest slept inside
until the black raven, blithe of heart,
bode Heaven’s bliss.”] Black and white
tap the root, the salamander’s tongue.

"Maxwell Demon Bottle" orinally appeared online at N/A. Ezekiel Black is the featured poet at the next Word of Mouth open mic, Wednesday November 6 at the Globe in downtown Athens. Sign-up for open mic is 7 p.m. at the bar and readings begin at 8 p.m. upstairs

"Everyone Gets Lighter" - John Giorno

"Everyone Gets Lighter" - John Giorno
(December 4, 1936 – October 11, 2019)

Life is lots of presents,
and every single day you get
a big bunch of gifts
under a sparkling pine tree
hung with countless balls of colored lights;
piles of presents wrapped in fancy paper,
the red box with the green ribbon,
and the green box with the red ribbon,
and the blue one with silver,
and the white one with gold.

It's not
what happens,
it's how you
handle it.

You are in a water bubble human body,
on a private jet
in seemingly a god world,
a glass of champagne,
and a certain luminosity
and emptiness,
skin of air,
a flat sea of white clouds below
and the vast dome of blue sky above,
and your mind is an iron nail in-between.

It's not
what happens,
it's how you
handle it.

Dead cat bounce,
the falling knife,
after endless shadow boxing
in your sleep,
fighting in your dreams
and knocking yourself out,
you realize everything is empty,
and appears as miraculous display,
all are in nature
the play of emptiness and clarity.

gets lighter
everyone gets
everyone gets lighter,
everyone is light.

"My Father’s Meaningful Season" - Clifford Brooks

"My Father's Meaningful Season" - Clifford Brooks

A ruby ribbon
of fleeting light
passes over pecan trees.
Vacant of leaves
and shell-wrapped gifts,
dad and I can see the sky.

There was work,
with necessary silences.
We ticked-off our time
with the kind of cursing
that turns kids
into men.

It isn’t a secret
that those years
outdoors with my father
are only
family affairs
in Athens
that made an impression.

Pop implanted:
Good luck is a lie.
Success is not a soap opera.
Wisdom is freedom from worry.

Worked with strangers in wind,
and in snow with kin.
We all outgrew my ego,
need to be simpatico,
and in the end,
like daddy said:
Piss on it.

"My Father's Meaningful Season" appeared originally at Porridge. Clifford Brooks will be the featured poet at tonight's Word of Mouth open mic at the Globe. He was born in Athens, Georgia. His second full-length poetry volume, Athena Departs: Gospel of a Man Apart, as well as a limited-edition poetry chapbook, Exiles of Eden, were published in 2017. His first poetry collection, The Draw of Broken Eyes & Whirling Metaphysics, was re-issued in August 2018. Evergreens, his second chapbook, will be released by Lucid House Publishing in 2019. His website is www.cliffbrooks.com

"No One Called My Father a Whore" - Arianna Page

When you hear the word “prostitute,” you always think of a sultry woman sucking men into seedy, smoke filled rooms with stiff, stained beds that have no softness, no give.

But no one called my father a whore because he dropped out of art school to work until the blue collar around his neck weighed down his back that is now bent bending soon to be broken–
All for a woman with curving hips, curling hair, and the fullest lips.