"Hellwave" - Kayla Sargeson

(Kayla Sargeson)
Twelve tattoos and can’t stop want my body covered/
no space for that night at the fraternity house:
body cracked open like glass.

I want a needle in my skin.
I’m the queen wasp thick and pissed off.

My friends say girl you’re on the fringe/
father likes to get me drunk/show off:

This is my smart daughter. The pretty one’s at home.

I know the push of a hand on the back of the head/

faceful of cock/baby no teeth

do what I tell you
/stepfather’s raised fist: bitch I’ll hit you.
At the Rock Room, for a tit grab
it’s all-you-can-drink-all-night.

I’ll suck you off for a joint.
I’m looking for my studded Sid Vicious cliché:

skinny punk with the bass guitar.
He’s got the chain wallet, leans

against his amp and almost looks alive.
He rides a Fat Boy/he’ll get me out of here.

We’ll ride the hellwave screaming.

KAYLA SARGESON is the next featured reader at Word of Mouth, upstairs at The Globe, Wednesday, May 7. She  is the author of the collection Mini Love Gun (2013). She recently told an interviewer that "Mini Love Gun is important to me because it deals with a variety of tough subjects—rape, violence, sex, being a woman in the gritty/urban world, etc. I’m interested in pushing as many boundaries as I can, both in my work and my life, so I feel like this collection does that as well, but not without having fun. Most of these poems are really funny to me." Her work has been anthologized in the national anthology Time You Let Me In: 25 Poets Under 25, selected by Naomi Shihab Nye as well as Voices from the Attic Volume XIV, and Dionne’s Story. She co-curates the MadFridays reading series and is the poetry editor for Pittsburgh City Paper’s online feature Chapter & Verse. Her manuscript Hellwave is being submitted for publication.

"Roots and Weeds" - Emily Gundlach

Roots and Weeds
(Emily Gundlach)

Is every word so intentional 
that it must ring out like gunfire – buckshot
scattered across the hide of the intended kill?
Even now, curse words dropped like miniature bombs
-the irony of a classroom discussion on female power
and the patriarchy
being led by the sons of the daughters of the revolution 
is inescapable-
maybe this language is no snare but rather
remnants of a life pulsing between dingy bar walls
absorbing beer breath and cuss words all the same to her
middle of the afternoon drunk, wearing warm
around the middle

Late in the day, face upturned toward window pane
sunlight is poured against the glass, spills golden 
on our faces, but 
we are cold
Stunted growth presses against the ceiling
Why give us this much sun but not enough room to grow up toward it?
are we not meant to turn our faces toward the light?
Must every revolution start with rebellion?
I think God has no need for punishment
no hierarchal system of shame, consequences meted out
no God, no father, no Son, no holy ghost of conquering terror

A tenacious, dumb grasping of root toward grain of earth
has brought me this far
sniffing the air, refusing flower
pricking hands that grasp through greenhouse gloves 
with professed knowledge despite the barrier of skin
the bondage of a sexual dichotomy, the bone crunching boldness of answering every unasked question with authority
I’d rather shatter under blood stained glass of ceiling crash
then bend to garden shears and decorative life
Yes, I choose cramped quarters, the rubbing up against the sweaty backs of strangers, the gasped breath and sip of fresh air through the cracks in the glass as we train all our energy toward the bending of one beam of silent sun into interminable fire.

"Roots?" - Patrick Conley


Whose Roots
Yours Mine Ours
Whose Ties
And Who's Tied to Whom
What slow seeping sweeping tentacles 
Of Memory
Could Reach
So Far Back

Like That Book Your Grandmother Read
Soft with your Head
Nestled in the Ample Bosom
Of Security

Drifting Off to Sleep
Into Dream
Lusciously Numb

Unable to Tell
The Difference
The Truth & The Lie

So Softly Woven
Into That Magic Fabric
 of Memory

And the Memory of Really Feeling
Of Trusting the Hunch
That Turned into a Deep Secret Revealed
In The Blood and Sap
Of Both Glory
And Scorn

Displaying & Betraying
The Hero

And His Left Sides Thorn

You Know The One

The One that Digs So Deep
The One That Judges
The One that Replays
Over & Over & Over
 That Reaction 
To Some Unplanned Event
At The age of 8, 12, 16, 20
When you Thought You’d always have
So Many 
Pockets of Plenty


Then They Come
Those Days
When you See
 All Is Not Well
And People Do Die
Or Worse
They Just Fall Away
Flashing Seizures of your own Decay
To Become Food
For Your Childrens 
 Their Childrens Roots

And Then
It’s Not So Casual Anymore
Is It?

So You Start Pushing
Pushing So Hard Against Yourself
And Those Eyes
Those Fucking Eyes
That Look Back From the Mirror
Reminding You of All You’ve Done
And All that’s Been Done To You
And Every Other Prophet 
And Every Other Fucking Fool

Then the Many Years
In Utter Disbelief
You Really Took Them All So Seriously

 All Those Petty Tortures Received
Back In Water Boarding School
By Those Petty Tyrants
Those Burnt Out 6th Grade Teachers
And Everyone of those
God Damned
Mother Fuckin
Politicians & Preachers

Deconstructing Our Stories
In Our Memories 
Thick Shallow Pool

With Their Damnation’s Judgment
Feigned Monumental Praise
 Laid Level
 Face Down
On The Gravel Road of Truth
Gathering A Breathe
Rhythmically Saying 
Rhythmically Saying 
Rhythmically Saying
Occasionally Praying
Oh God Please
Just Get Me Through This Day
Without The Shame
Of All My Fathers Deeds
And Now Those My Own
 Done in his Name
 Beginning To Worry
Coming To Terms
With All the Days 
That Are Numbered

That Those Times
Swinging From The Branches 
Like The Number Of Leaves on the Tree
 The Same Number Of Chances
And  OHH
It’s Late September

And All These Leaves
They Start Dropping 
Like Newton’s Apples 
Falling and Flowing 
To a Will Beyond Our Own 

 Our brief time in the Free Fall
Well That 
That My Friend
Tells All

The Panic 
The Grace

When those Moments
 Make easy
The Surrender 
To The Roots
To The Free Fall of This Round 
Releasing to the Ground
Coming to Terms with the Undeniable Fact
That We Will
If Our Time Falling Meant Anything
Good Food
Really Good Food
For the Dead Memories Fire
That Our Stories
 Our Influence Will Remain
Living in the Grain
Of Each Roots Ring 
In The Joy and The Pain
Of All Our Pieces
From The Roots to The Sky
Of All Our Lives
Even Those That Slip In between
Till The Birth, The Life And The Death
 Become a Reoccurring Dream
In Our Collective
 Cellular Memory
Our Collective Unconscious
 Calls To You
Like a Ghost
From Your Roots
My Roots
Our Roots
With The Memory 
Of Being 
The Leaves
Of Holding So Strong to the Branches
Spreading Like Sails
 In the Gentle Wind
 Of a Crisp

So What Will
 Your Roots Say?
I Know We All Still Carry
 The Pain & The Praise
 Of All Those by Whom We Were Raised
For these are our roots
They Do Sink deep
 And Grab So Hard
They give the strength
Of Generations
 That allow
 Our Trees to Sway
To Deposit the Seeds
To Ensure a Future
And Hopefully
Another Fruitful Day

So What Must
 Roots Say
To All the Leaves
And All the Branches
 The Spirit Sponsors
And All Those that Rest In Their Shade

They Will Say
 Open Yourself
Without Fear
Spread Yourselves Wide 
Stretch Yourself 
Beyond Your Belief

To the Full Light Of The Noon Day Sun
& The New Moons Night

And Relish
The Un-judged Glory
Of A Simple Leaf 
On the Branch
Like a Sail
 In the Gentle 
 Of a Crisp

(2013 photo of Patrick Conley by Grady Thrasher)

"When I heard the learn'd astronomer" [after Whitman] - Mark Bromberg

"When I heard the learn'd astronomer"
(after Whitman)

When I heard the learn'd astronomer
declare he had reached the end of the universe --

that there were no more worlds to discover
nor stars to count --

that he had numbered and catalogued them all
and given the habitable planets the names of his grandchildren,

I realized how lucky I was still to have the mystery
of what I should do tomorrow

and the day after that. How intriguing
the uncertainty of the here and now,

undefined and with days still unnumbered,
still to be able to gaze up

even at the numbered stars
thinking there must be one he missed.

That one's mine.

(photo by David Noah)

"What If the Gun Says No" - David Oates

What if the gun says no
what if the fist won't clench
what if the bombs won't let go
of their grip on the bomber's wing
What if the bomb stays whole
in the bomber’s vest
and the policeman's club
turns soft as feathers
in his palm
What if tear gas turns sweet
and a vegan shark
carries a sailor to shore
and the guard dog licks
when the man said kill
Yes, What if the gun says
(in the middle of the argument)
the gun says
(when he finds that he's been cheated)
the gun says
 (in the crucial instant)



A sonnet for an early spring morning.


Of yellow bells and daffodils I sing,
their trumpets herald coming warmer days
as fields and forests turn from brown to green
and all the earth will soon be set ablaze.
Now winter's sky so somber and so gray
begrudgingly begins at last to wane,
and snow and sleet reluctantly give way
to gentle springtime' s warm and welcome rain.
The chickadees in small black caps fly free
to spread the word to all both far and wide,
they sing and chirp and dart from tree to tree,
the time is now, come celebrate outside.
All hail the coming of another spring!
All hail the coming of another spring!

© 2014 Charley Seagraves. Photo by Grady Thrasher.


"Listen to the Silence" - Eugene C. Bianchi

“How then does one speak of God?
Through silence. Then why do you speak
in words? The Master laughed out loud.
When I speak, my dear, listen to the
silences.”  (One Minute Wisdom,
Anthony de Mello, pg. 124)

Away from the roar of cutting firewood,

partly to tell myself I can still do it and

okayed by my overseer if I stay off the roof,

I settle on the old bench by the Oconee to

watch a silent movie at this

unlikely outdoor nickelodeon,

with light and dark clouds moving fast

against blue sky as the green river

carries its quiet waters across Georgia

into the Altamaha and on to the Atlantic.

It’s one of those between-times when the

heat and stress of effort gives way to

a sudden shifting of gears in the universe.

Now the Buddhist prayer flags dance

in the wind as it whips young cedars

like pompoms at a game or parade.

Then in a flash he appears on the screen,

lovely red-tail hawk swooping all grace,

now slow, now quick riding the currents,

one eye on me – I swear it – the other on

his supper menu, all the while enjoying

this free ride on nature’s carousel. Back

and back he circles down to a few yards,

as I wave to this avian Nureyev

pausing with wings full spread,

flashing his ballet style for unsung

bravos, encores and merited bouquets.

Now no noise in my breathing, just in and out

with a virtual mantra: Buddha, Jesus, Red

Hawk, water, sky, trees, here, now, enough.