"Snapshot" - Emily Katherine


"Snapshot" - Emily Katherine

He held her face like a bowl of water, both hands
cupped around her cheeks, tilted her lips skyward
and drank deeply.

Around them the dusty chaos of a summer music festival swirled
Beer, boys and bare chests
the strutting and preening of young bodies
the cocaine made temporary gods of us all
our tattoos were compasses pointing the way to our transparent hearts
our shouts shook the tent poles
and the bass from the distant stage thudded like welcome thunder.

She was not beautiful
but this is irrelevant
In the sun shining down, he turned toward her
An exhale, a pause, a split second before lip met lip
Intentions stood like sweet soldiers behind their eyes
Squinting, she became a fountain, a waterfall, a spring brook
and he, in the Polaroid snap of summer, turned from granite to dry throat
sand trickling from the steel toes of his boots.

He must have been so thirsty, for so long.

Emily Katherine has been featured reader at Word of Mouth. Her poetry blog is Gut Punch Poetry.

"O', pen" - A poet bee

Authors Ridge in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery [Concord, Massachusetts]shelters the graves of Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, and more famous authors.

On grave shrines
fellow pilgrims
placed flowers.
pennies, pens,
'n poems scratched
on pebbles.
Emerson, Thoreau,
Alcott, even Salem's
grumpy Ha'thorne,
so honored,

Under blue sky,
Nature transcends.
Her canopy,
white, red and scarlet oaks,
red and sugar maples,
white pines,
towers above,
cloaks a carpet
of needles, acorns,
dappled, reticulate
Below the
authors' ridge,
in skins untrapped,
have returned,
flooded land.
Their dead trees,
stand tall.
No votive candles
need burn
in the clean
October air,
for glory be t'all.

I walk with friend,
no saint, Peter,
Don Pedro
de los Pajaros
We talk.
Here's Henry,
Louisa, Nathaniel.
Where's Waldo?
We laugh.

No quarters found
for Peter to steal,
so a pilfered pen
must do.
Neither poet
nor pilgrim giver
will know
or care.
We laugh again.

My friend,
grave robber
he now be,
sees me leave
a shiny copper
on Emerson's
He wonders why.
A small tribute
to the poet's life?
Or to inspire more
lines in mine?
the purloined pen
is under God's radar,
so it's not payment
for a thief's atonement!

Sleepy Hollow,
sleep some more.
Albeit corporal rest
is your endless fate,
your ideas will live on
way beyond this date.
Ours to read,
build upon.

We pay homage here,
inspired by your
aughtful words,
not deeds of
violent sacrifice,
as on Concord's
Old Bridge near,
two centuries ago.

So y'all should
steel a pen,
not a sword.
Spend its power
to better us all.

Think! Write!

And then
once more
we'll laugh
maybe even
be expiated.

"Under the Vulture-Tree" - David Bottoms


A poem by David Bottoms, with a note below borrowed from Michelle Castleberry's blog. Michelle's first poetry collection, Dissecting the Angel, was a selected finalist for Georgia Author of the Year in poetry, 2013.

"Under the Vulture-Tree" - David Bottoms

We have all seen them circling pastures,
have looked up from the mouth of a barn, a pine clearing, 
the fences of our own backyards, and have stood 
amazed by the one slow wing beat, the endless dihedral drift.
But I had never seen so many so close, hundreds, 
every limb of the dead oak feathered black,
and I cut the engine, let the river grab the jon boat 
and pull it toward the tree.
The black leaves shined, the pink fruit blossomed 
red, ugly as a human heart.
Then, as I passed under their dream, I saw for the first time 
its soft countenance, the raw fleshy jowls
wrinkled and generous, like the faces of the very old 
who have grown to empathize with everything.
And I drifted away from them, slow, on the pull of the river, 
reluctant, looking back at their roost, 
calling them what I'd never called them, what they are,
those dwarfed transfiguring angels,
who flock to the side of the poisoned fox, the mud turtle
crushed on the shoulder of the road,
who pray over the leaf-graves of the anonymous lost,
with mercy enough to consume us all and give us wings.

Michelle's note:

Georgia poet David Bottoms wrote "Under the Vulture Tree" during a time of calm in his life while living in East Cobb County. The house and pond there and the life and around them, informed his work during that time.

I remembered the poem yesterday when I went into my own back yard to look at the little creeklets that had filled up because of the rain. Behind me I heard one long "swoooof" of a wing beat. A buzzard flew over low. That's when I saw it - the dead pine and several buzzards roosting and spreading their wings. Large and silent, the grey day rendered them in silhouette.

"The Inconsolable Dog" - David Noah

"The Inconsolable Dog" - David Noah


Last night the dog got drunk

and peed on the dead Christmas tree,

maybe a sly hint that October

is late for Christmas.


I hate it when he drinks.

He tries to do tricks but just falls down,

and slobbers all over me

while we watch old movies from the eighties.


I tell him life is unfair.

He howls and lays his head in my lap—

which is unnerving,

especially if you’re trying really hard


not to remember something important—

because it’s not easy

to cultivate amnesia

when an inconsolable dog is weeping in your crotch.


I promise him treats,

swear we’ll go to the park,

but he laughs the way only

a shit-faced dog can laugh,

which is to say,

like a bitter heartbroken animal,

with a collar around his neck.


What can I do but open another bottle,

pour it over the Kibble and Bits in his bowl,

and put on Howlin’ Wolf—

that’s his favorite—

while snow dribbles out of the television

and the cat rolls another joint.
[above: self-portrait by David Noah]

"Trump ... " - Eugene C. Bianchi


"Trump …" - Eugene C Bianchi

is a state of mind
gone berserk,
tethered to toddler emotions
of the self-centered bully,
the ultimate puzzle
of extreme capitalism
squeezing the poor
to enrich the rich,
while deluding the underclass
to see themselves as somebodies
in an illusory white America of 1950,
to worship the idol of having over being,
of appearance over meaning,
to imagine their kids riding up
the Tower’s escalator of wealth
to look down on undeserving masses,
necessary losers, while winners
adore gods of deception,
and threaten to destroy the Republic.

"Technician"- Zach Mitcham

"Technician"- Zach Mitcham


Willa’s son died of a heart attack

on a Los Angeles highway two years ago,

same age as me. She's going next week

to his grave in St. Louis, says she'll move soon

to be near him. "Nobody understands that,"

she tells me before bed, handing me wires

to drop down my sweatpants, that odd

intimacy of clinics. I think of a poem

I could only bear to skim, a woman

eulogizing her son, a death star too bright

for my eyes. I'm quick to the remote

when some toddler is walking alone

on the edge of a pool, or mortally fevered

in obvious plot point. I turn away, wanting

my own little faces looking back, breathing

boy noises for trucks, or Christmas songs

still new. But Willa has introduced her lost son

like a shiver she can't hold back. I'm two eyes

and a body, potential warmth. I tell her

there's no greater pain, my words empty.

We move on and I learn that she was a nurse

in Saudi Arabia for seven years. She offers

some Arabic and we talk of foreign food,

religion, race, her youth in Mississippi

in the early 60s. Before long, I'm wired up

for the sleep study bed. She brings me

another blanket and a fan for white noise.

The sensor keeps falling from my nose,

and I'm woken by this woman

tending to me with tape. She watches me

from the control room, long hours of a body

fighting with oxygen, this bulb of me flickering

light, dark, light — my snores breaking

her hours of silence. I fill out the morning survey

with no mention of mother and son,

but that's all I can think about.
Zach Mitcham is tonight's featured reader at Athens Word of Mouth. Open mic sign-up is at 7 pm and readings begin at 8 pm, upstairs at The Globe, corner of Clayton and Lumpkin Streets in downtown Athens.

"Athens, you never cease to amaze me!" - Charley Seagraves

"Athens, you never cease to amaze me!" - Charley Seagraves

Athens, you never cease to amaze me!  What a piece of work you are!  Small, progressive island adrift in a sea of intolerance.  College town, townie town, Normaltown, downtown, Athenstown.  City of bars and beer and more bars and more beer, and people of every ethnicity and creed and hue.  Caring people and bright people and sharing people and tattooed people and unglued people and shiny, happy people holding hands and sad, unhappy people slumped on sidewalks holding crumpled cardboard signs, asking all who pass for quarters and nickels and dimes, and undocumented people who want nothing more than the opportunity to study and learn at your great university.

Athens, where academics and athletes walk side-by-side down downtown streets.  City of dreamers and beauty queens and poets and artists and chefs and waiters and waitresses and teachers and preachers and so many more, and, lo and behold, musicians galore.

Athens, foodie town, from 5&10 to the Varsity Drive-In, to those born-again biscuits at Mama's Boy, and Donderos' fried potatoes and fried green tomatoes, and the chocolate torte at the Last Resort, and Allen's hamburger steak smothered in onions, long gone but forever etched in my craw and in my memory, as is Poss' Barbeque.

Athens, music town of great renown, from the  40 Watt to Hendershot's to Little Kings to the Foundry to the miracle of the Georgia Theatre.  To Terry "Mad Dog" Melton to the Jesters and the Normaltown Flyers, to the B-52s and Stipe and the boys and Vic Chesnutt and Elf Power and the Drive-By Truckers and so many more.

Athens, so full of memories, good and bad, ugly and beautiful, happy and sad.  You are indeed a classic.

Athens, you drive me crazy!

Athens, you never cease to amaze me!

© 2016 Charley Seagraves

[photo of Charley Seagraves by David Noah, September 2015]