"Bless Their Hearts" - Richard Newman


"Bless Their Hearts" - Richard Newman      

At Steak ‘n Shake I learned that if you add
“Bless their hearts” after their names, you can say
whatever you want about them and it’s OK.
My son, bless his heart, is an idiot,
she said. He rents storage space for his kids’
toys—they’re only one and three years old!
I said, my father, bless his heart, has turned
into a sentimental old fool. He gets
weepy when he hears my daughter’s greeting
on our voice mail. Before our Steakburgers came
someone else blessed her office mate’s heart,
then, as an afterthought, the jealous hearts
of the entire anthropology department.
We bestowed blessings on many a heart
that day. I even blessed my ex-wife’s heart.
Our waiter, bless his heart, would not be getting
much tip, for which, no doubt, he’d bless our hearts.
In a week it would be Thanksgiving,
and we would each sit with our respective
families, counting our blessings and blessing
the hearts of family members as only family
does best. Oh, bless us all, yes, bless us, please
bless us and bless our crummy little hearts.
"Bless Their Hearts" by Richard Newman appears in his most recent book of poetry, Domestic Fugues, Steel Toe Books, 2009.

"The Harmonics of Fall" - Bob Ambrose


"The Harmonics of Fall" - Bob Ambrose

When social loops resonate 
to unholy harmonics in a world 
wired close and wound tight; 

when the soundtrack of triumph 
sweeps your people, and sweet 
ideals are wielded as weapons; 

when the grievance is just 
too great to ignore and your mind 
is gripped in anger: go. 

Go into the autumn afternoon 
where out of stillness, peace 
descends as dry leaf flurries; 

where a thousand starlings speak in tongues 
of tiny angels timeless blessings 
to life, joyfully borne; 

where echoes of ageless minds 
penetrate prepackaged lives, 
and strife recedes to hush. 

When impelled by honor to act 
on a cause, engage as you must 
but withhold your own soul, 

for you are so much more
than your role. In the middle of winter
remember, remember:
you have felt the autumn breeze 
and sensed the inner harmony.
You have been blessed by birds.
Photo: Leaves and Light by David Noah. "The Harmonics of Fall" originally appeared online at Bob's blog Reflections in Poetry.

"A place" - Shafkat Khan


"A place" - Shafkat Khan

You like the sense of a place.
How the spring blends into summer
and into fall and winter,
and the memories you make
with your loved ones
in all these seasons
in this place
stays with you
even as you go far, far away.

You long for this place.
You long for the sound of the river.
You like the wetness of the air.
You like the strength of the sun.
You like how the snow blankets your beloved place.
And you like how the forests and prairies
sing again in the spring.

You remember your first kiss on that lovely walk
with that crazy boy
who wrote poems
and sang for you.
You remember the time your friend held you close
because you couldn't stop crying.

Your memories of self blend with nature
in this place.
In this place, you're more than you.
You have a root, memories of a lifetime,
you have tears and laughter,
friends and families and lovers,
the two oak trees, mulberries,
maples, sycamore, milkweed, blazing stars,
green, bright green, and yellow and red,
spring peepers, a snapper,
a lonely runner passing you by,
kids on their bikes.

All these pull you back
as you mercilessly pull yourself away
to go to a distant shore
as if only to divide you again,
only to become less than yourself,
and only to carry the memories of a lifetime
in your quiet heart.

"Webs of Life" - Eugene C. Bianchi


"Webs of Life" - Eugene C. Bianchi

As I approach the end of my journey
after eight lucky decades of a long dance,
I notice small stuff ignored in a faster day.
This morning I walked up the driveway
to collect the Times between showers
as sunlight at a perfect angle hit the spider web
strung across the road like a pendant of
lacy wet crystals with the orange-brown
arachnid builder waving her go-slow sign
(nor did I want that net slung across my face).
So I stopped to look and marvel at
this art piece defying gravity and expectation.
Then I bowed to its beauty to avoid unseen
tie lines that kept the godly apparition suspended
like a fragile model of our inner and outer linkings.
We pride ourselves on mind as our unique gift
without respecting patterns of life deeply set
by the unifying matrix of the lovely and not.
So, forgive if I wander too far in musings
of an amateur entomologist and talk about
my old friend a large cockroach who has
lived peaceably in a corner of my kitchen
minding his own business, as they say.
If you are now grossed out ready to
throw this poem against the wall in disgust,
pause, dear reader, and defer at least to
the longevity of his ancient tribe
scrambling around the feet of dinosaurs,
and observe our parting after a long encounter.
He wandered out slower than usual to say hello
and scoffed at the roach box with small holes
near the phone which rarely rings for him.
He seemed to pray for liberation, moksha,
wanting to return to the damp forest of liriope
knowing his time had come for the trek.
So I wrapped him gently in Kleenex and we
processed like two old sadhus on pilgrimage
to the banks of the Ganges, to the edge of the garden
where he scampered off perhaps to meet the spider.

"Webs of Life" is online, and is also included in Gene's most recent poetry collection, Chewing Down My Barn: Lessons from Carpenter Bees.

"Ain't Nothing You Can Do" - Charley Seagraves



"Ain't Nothing You Can Do"  - Charley Seagraves

Ain't nothing you can do 'bout where or when you were born
   (that's ancient history).
Ain't nothing you can do 'bout the price of peas or the price of corn
   (unless you're in the commodities market big time)
Ain't nothing you can do 'bout the buzzing of a bumble bee
   (I'd yield the right of way).
But tonight you can do whatever you want to do
   (you're free -- you'll see -- let it be).

Ain't nothing you can do to slow the march of Father Time
   (go ask your Mother).
Ain't nothing you can do 'bout a word that just won't rhyme
   (there's always free verse).
Ain't nothing you can do 'bout the salt in the deep blue sea
   (stop trying to talk underwater).
But tonight you can do whatever you want to do
   (yippie -- oui oui -- sweet tea).

Ain't nothing you can do 'but a check that is in the mail
   (pray that it's not a rubber one).
Ain't nothing you can do if the sight of blood makes you pale
   (don't vacation in Syria).
Ain't nothing you can do to make peaches grow on an apple tree
   (no one wants fuzzy apples anyway).
But tonight you can do whatever you want to do
   (excuse me! -- gluten-free -- long time no see).

Ain't nothing you can do that's gonna make me change my mind
   (I'm set in my ways).
Ain't nothing you can do if your credit card's declined
   (Don't look in my direction -- I'm not a bank).
Ain't nothing you can do that's gonna make me disagree
   (I guarantee),
That tonight you can do whatever you want to do
   (whoopee! -- hassle-free -- potpourri --
      you're telling me -- Tennessee -- you're fancy free).

[photo of Charley Seagraves, July 2014, by David Noah]

"Florence and The Machine (My Boy)" - Red Stripe

My boy he's young, he's__
Innocent and sweet. He__
Doesn't know better so__you shouldn't treat
Him__like a toy__candy to eat
My boy's my friend and__
Oblivious, naïve.
I too was fooled, pulled__
Through the webs that you weave.
Like an unsuspecting fly, I__
Was caught in your neat
Presentation of beautiful__,
Of fabric, of sheets
To__be wrapped up  and had by__
Your hunger, deceit.
A joy to have love__,
But you got to be picky
With the words to define "love__",
With the girls, and the geeks
For the world is a bad cup__
Of morning coffee
When you realize what you had done__
Last night in your sleep.
With the teacher that had come__
To the student to "teach",
The preacher, the stepson__,
The daughter-the fiend__!
The moment you "had some__"
Was the moment he
Was confused__, was cast out,
And kept recalling the scene__.
Wanting more__but having none__,
Getting lost in the streets
Searching for__the woman__
To do what the previous
Devious vermillion vixen's deeds
Could only be described as __
"Wonderful heat".
Cause my boy is bad now__,
Why would I let repeat
My boy I have now__
Down the same painful sweep?
A toy he's not now__and never shall be
Cause I'm there__to back up__and guide where he needs__.

"SARGON'S HIGH SCORE" - Wyatt Anderson

Oh, I’ve had it!
But honey I’m not
hav-in’ it.
Cuz half of all
the words you spit
are wet judgment.
And all thought
to which you commit
is defined by peons
on the outside-
fickle, venomous.

Ever wonder why
hungry war porn flick
appeals most to obese,
passive audience?
Cuz the haves want
what they’ve not
gotten yet;
to recollect oppression
or fair recompense.

And just what
was the sentiment
behind Sargon’s then
high score that he set?
Remember, back at Uruk
the walls cried- halls bled.
He profess from death mask
direct to Gilgamesh.

“They’ll never beat this!”
and he chokes.
“Wherever I went,
let the next one go.”

And I had friend
who said life is stroll
through lush garden.
So when I lose my way
and fuck up the flowers
I guess I’ll beg
your per-dón.

No matter how far
and wide you roam
on God’s green earth
by the seeds we sow,
though we choose codes
to which we conform-
Yeah, you’re just a
new schmuck tryna
set a high score.

And the overuse
of the word ‘genius’
builds insecure organisms
all around, all abound.
Men grow
speckled exoskeletons to
goad all-too-attentive

Both in one reporter’s
professional opinion might
uncover greater fulfillment.
Like we’re all just crushed up
breath mints left
in this restaurant
of existence.

I grasp it.
But babe I’m never
fathomin’ it.
Cuz all the thought
balloons that I prick
emit bullshit.
And though I’m known
to bitch and resist, I’m
defined by peons
on the inside-
civil, hesitant.