"Tasks" - Robert Lee Kendrick


"Tasks" - Robert Lee Kendrick

End day sun 
seeps through primer gray 
clouds, gives 
the last of its warmth 
to the rain 
swollen creek, as a hook 
necked buzzard 
picks flesh from a possum
behind my truck. 
One thing has to die 
for another 
to eat, I say to the leaves.  

Some man's 
shirtless son takes aim 
at a headless 
torso he's hung from a tree, 
makes music 
with knives, going straight 
to the heart.  

Driving home to my wife, 
I'll spread  
tailpipe smoke on young trees. Two years  
since she miscarried.
Some chromosome rot in one of us, or both, 
& no luck.  

A small wake drives water 
apart. A beaver
gathers mouthfuls of branches & mud, 
his daily work
of patching the dam.

Robert Lee Kendrick will be featured reader at next month's Word of Mouth open mic on Wednesday, July 5. In a June 2016 interview he said of his writing that "place does it for me. The roads, creeks, and lakes of Pickens County, South Carolina, and the fields and towns of central Illinois where I grew up. I see so much road kill that I get a lot from decay and rot, as well — that’s been a big thing for about six months. Natural decay is a miracle, the biological process that nature uses to heal and renew itself. There’s no unfinished business, and I don’t know that humans can do that with loss, even with rituals, therapy, art, whatever."

"Ode to Aralee" - Bob Ambrose



On the passing of Aralee Strange, founder and host 
of the Athens Word of Mouth open poetry community,
June 15, 2013 at her home, "Timberdance"


        In some place primeval
the priestess holds court 
where rhythms take form 

your spirit’s reborn  
as sirens sing in sotto voce, 
the Sibyl raves a praise to Gaia, 

long-mute furies chant 
in tongues, and fiery nuns
rap truth to knaves. None

can name the kind of faith 
that rocked your soul 
in the bosom of Timberdance,
but a warm spring bathed 
your late years, submerging self 
to nurture words in perfect strangers. 

It’s just the broken way 
of things that what we love 
will leave too soon. 

Authentic poets never die, 
they just transcend. Their words 
become their epitaph 

their thoughts a meme, 
their spirits, muse. Unburdened 
of body returned to the source

to the place beyond words 
where they go to be born,  
your essence awaits: 

A brief note, held sweet 
                against silence 
echoes forever 
        the memory of grace.
Bob Ambrose will be reading from his collection Journey to Embarkation on Friday, June 23, at Avid Bookshop [Prince Avenue location]. The joint reading with Gene Bianchi, another Word of Mouth poet, starts at 6:30. Bob's website is Reflections in Poetry.

"One More Gift" - Mark Pentecost

[Aralee Strange Dec 5 1943 - June 15 2013]

"One More Gift" - Mark Pentecost

Suddenly, the strange world is less strange,
quieter, stranger. The wheel is turned,
the finger pricked, the spell will not break.
Shhh. Listen up to what is missing:
The sound of doors locking in the dark
or unlocking. Words placed like long-stemmed
flowers in the barrels of silence.
A mouth. A voice. Beautiful. Bruised.
Friend. I did not know you long or well.
My arc was altered by our meeting.
I forced my feet into these odd shoes
and, limping, dance, clumsy and comfy.
Your cheek kissed by some goddess of storm,
you showed us, brood of anonymous
geniuses, to follow our footsteps.

Above the Ohio far away
sun and cloud are making a movie.
Backs to us, a woman leads a mule
toward the river, in step, through the
hush of mist over the bottomland.
My tongue tries to keep up, slithering,
a blind baby snake with no purchase
on the damp grass they tread so surely,
then stumped by the dross they have sloughed off:
Fabric, leather, a plow, a pump, books
and bandages and empty bottles,
a feedbag, all passing into earth
like a long outbreath of the Buddha.
On the other shore, lights and music.
“Aralee, old friend,” the boatman says,
“The mule rides free. From you a penny.”
Her jagged, full-force laugh. No problem.
From the skinny pockets of her coat
her practiced hands bring forth a lifetime:
A bib. A doll. A slingshot. Apples.
Dog treats. Cigarettes. Keys. A Zippo.
Colored pencils. Makeup. Photographs. . . .
The boatman’s eyes are big as the moon.
The river and the mule pulse gently.
The patient ferry rocks and drowses.
The woman’s laughing and the treasure
from her pockets look to have no end.
He thinks, she can’t go on. She goes on.
Brittle brown letters. A flashdrive fat
as a bullfrog. Laden vines of film
stock. Drawings. Sketches. Glitter. Stardust.
And, covered in script like fingerprints,
paper, papers, folded or in scraps,
an avalanche of words, shy children,
wadded ones unwadding in her hands.
She pauses, mother hawk sizing up
the fitness of a chick. “Not this one.
This one’s for Mark.” Thanks for one more gift,
generous Aralee, this poem,
written in the lightning from your face.

Mark Pentecost, 64, died January 16, 2017 in Athens, GA, surrounded by his family. The cause of death was ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. During two years of illness he demonstrated amazing courage, graciousness, and generosity of spirit for caregivers, family and friends.




The bright moon made the night into an eerie day

moving shadows showed

the children played

vague animal noises echoed.

People’s memories memorialized passed on only as feelings long forgotten

Grandmother’s walk in the park barley recalled

The cats, so proud no longer walked the wall.

Swirls from dances longed for

Thoughts on random nights flowing slow.

The moon so very bright now sits in shadow

Fogging up its eerie day

En– vel- oping  rec- ol- lec- tions of the olden days

Mind’s ideas vivid,

Swirling thoughts now moving forward,


"Gym Zen" - Eugene C. Bianchi


"Gym Zen" - Eugene C. Bianchi

Rather than complain, I try to focus
on feeling in and out breath in my nostrils,
since X-ray plus diabetes fatigue won’t quit,
I turn it into a Zen-lite med,
walk slow as an old turtle
around the indoor track at UGA,
just floating from site to sight,
hoping my monkeys of judgment
will stay in the trees.

Down below four courts of basket-ballers
flash in an out of vision,
one girl among them,
Asians grouped alone,
the shouts and big-ego dribblers,
(oops, a monkey loose.)

Cut off from command and control,
I circle like a tired drone
taking snap shots of repeated moves
to score for the hell of it, a kind of
muscular Zen from emptied minds.

Just now, just here with quick takes
of female shapes – short, wide, tall,
tied hair bouncing behind, some
even gorgeous by runway standards,
an overweight gray-hair chugs by
with desperate wheezing (away, monkey, away),
while young men run on behind iPhones
with the best looks they can muster for
this circulating harem, hardly noticing—
pure perfection —two amazing hunks,
biceps bulging from wife-beater tee shirts,
racing like the wind.

As mnemonics I count the laps in Italian
to the mile marker, sit on a bench, here, now
with the circus swirling, I contemplate
a round of tai chi in the dance studio with
kind dancers who make room for an
ancient Zen-ner, just here, just now,
with monkeys quiet.
"Gym Zen" appears in Gene Bianchi's third book of poems, The Hum of It All. He is the featured reader at Wednesday's Word of Mouth event, June 7, at The Globe. Sign up for the open mic is at the bar beginning at 7 pm and readings begin upstairs at 8 pm.

Bob Dylan, born May 24 1941


Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, where have you been, my darling young one?
I've stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I've walked and I've crawled on six crooked highways
I've stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I've been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I've been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it's a hard, and it's a hard, it's a hard, and it's a hard
And it's a hard rain's a-gonna fall

Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what did you see, my darling young one?
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin'
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin'
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it's a hard, and it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard
And it's a hard rain's a-gonna fall

And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
And what did you hear, my darling young one?
I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin'
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin'
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley
And it's a hard, and it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard
And it's a hard rain's a-gonna fall

Oh, who did you meet, my blue-eyed son?
Who did you meet, my darling young one?
I met a young child beside a dead pony
I met a white man who walked a black dog
I met a young woman whose body was burning
I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow
I met one man who was wounded in love
I met another man who was wounded with hatred
And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall

Oh, what'll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what'll you do now, my darling young one?
I'm a-goin' back out 'fore the rain starts a-fallin'
I'll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
Where the executioner's face is always well-hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I'll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I'll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin'
But I'll know my song well before I start singin'
And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall

video: Dylan, 1964



Bow down before me
I will become one with your soul
One with the people
I will humble myself
Live off the Earth
Dance in the moon light
and feed the children.
I will humble myself to become one with you
To be loud and unique amongst my fellow humans
To be one with one and
everyone around me till I disappear into sameness into every other fellow citizen.

I will humble MYSELF
Bowing down to MY people
Becoming one with THE souls
Becoming one with THE people
I will humble myself
Dirtying my hands to feed myself
Tightening my muscles to sweat and toil to feed fellow citizens
I will humble myself-
Days gone
Towering over
To truly see
The only reward-
End of the day as
Work Fulfilled
Bone Tired.