"Sonnet 36" (William Shakespeare) - Franklin Abbott

Franklin Abbott performing "Sonnet 36" by William Shakespeare at 800 East in Atlanta.

He is tonight's featured reader at August Word of Mouth upstairs at The Globe. Readings begin at 8 pm.

"why I burn incense" - Franklin Abbott

"why I burn incense" - Franklin Abbott

the seller of scents
in the Mysore market
assured me:
only the best
sandalwood sawdust
mixed with honey
hand rolled onto
a sliver of bamboo

when I strike
a match
to make an
ember glow
on the tip
the smoke
goes straight
to my nose

inspiration is

a poem, a song
a solution to a puzzle
a prayer
breathed out
soaring over circumstance
now can I doubt
heaven will hear

and then I inhale
only deeper
the seller of scents
his sad eyes
meet mine
only the best
smoke rising
in roundabout rings
into the invisible

sooner or later
the ember is spent
the scent lingers
like hope
after a kiss
Franklin Abbott will be featured reader at Word of Mouth next week, Wednesday August 2 at The Globe. Open mic signup is at 7 pm at the bar and readings begin at 8 pm upstairs.

"Trance Dance Delight" - Joey Connolly

"Trance Dance Delight" - Joseph Connolly
descend below the subatomic
wedge between the quirks and quarks
rise above the cyber subway
hear the deejay’s whoops and barks
swim a swamp of bleeps and tweaks
in the sea of what I’m saying
tune in tympanic tidal waves
surf oceans of commotions swaying
fall into a frenzy of limbs akimbo
in a mosh pit of mellow tones
trip the loud and light fantastic
with high holy day head phones
spin and scratch the spinal vinyl
tick tick rip rip drip drip drop drop
sample a whole medley of soul
echo hip hip beep beep bop bop
rip the skin off the sound of rim shots
reshape rhumba into razor edge rags
beat the bass riffs to boogie band width
break to dance when tempo drags
psychedelic sounds some geriatric
mesmerizing moves magic in the night
Mad Hatter’s dancing an acid hat trick
streaming for a total trance dance delight
interstellar overdrive
transmitted through the night
on cruise control overload
all for your trance dance delight
Art: Flipper, by Fred Tomaselli [Leaves, photo collage, acrylic and resin on wood panel, 2008]


I dreamed of painted dogs in Beechwood canyon
and God’s voice saying you may live in a land
of no regrets
and you will never grow old
but first you must solve the riddle of the Sphinx
the answers have been changed   
I will make you invisible with the past at your fingertips

and a language all your own
I will pin your secret name to a single tear

and turn your legs to a mermaid’s tail
You will be the beauty in a beholders eye

but your mirror will be empty
I dreamed I swam through submerged cities and drowned carnivals
And God’s voice saying you may live in a land of heroes

but the battle will never begin
I will give you dreamless nights and perfect days

but the sun will be blinding
All the maps will be washed clean

and the sidewalks will be quicksand  
Nazis will march through your mouth
I will give your own anthem with all the words in the world   
I will attach string to your arms and teach you how to weave
All the threads will be white

and the pattern will tell your life’s story
I dreamed I was held captive outside the door to my house
And God’s voice saying you may lose all of your fear

and monsters will drink from your hands
but you will always have thirst
I will sew you a suit of sand and you will be the hourglass
Your days will be ram’s horns

and you will kiss the lips of your ancestors
Your wedding bouquet will bloom again
I dreamed of funerals in theaters and God’s voice saying
You will dance away your shoes and find lost treasure

but you will live in poverty
I will make your skin ice and give you a tower

but your body will be numb
Your name will be inscribed in the book of perfection

but water will blur the words
you will stand on tiptoe next to walls and be fearless
children will spring from your fingertips
I dreamed of steps covered in sand and God’s voice saying

I will give you the language of animals and the eyes of an owl
the universe will sing in numbers
and you will bathe in rivers of salt    
candles will grow from the sand your breath will be music

but you will have no voice
your mornings will turn to glass

your lovers will turn to drums
your eyes will turn to paper
you will kiss your enemy’s mouth    


"street music" - Robert Lee Kendrick


"street music" - Robert Lee Kendrick

summer stars left our names
off the marquee moon
as renuka’s congas & matt the cat’s bass
opened the locks for a river of groove
fat tino’s trumpet
skipped ricochet cuts
& leapt to the sky
as ‘toine’s tenor sax hugged
the muddy bank’s funk
pulling the brass back to earth
I threw swamp flowers down
comping chords on my guitar’s rosewood neck
& john firefly rapped from the sidewalk
calling all down to our river
baptizing with baraka & MOVE
& mad dog 20 20 was his meat
the town of normal gave us wide berth
so we played for june heat & streetlights
let the water rise over our heads
small sidewalk trees did their slow juke
& we swung with the shadows of leaves on our skin

"street music" by Robert Lee Kendrick originally appeared in his 2016 chapbook Winter Skin published by The Main Street Rag. Kendrick is the featured reader at tonight's Athens Word of Mouth.

"The Birds of America" - James Broughton

"The Birds of America" - James Broughton

Said the Birds of America
   quak quek quark quark, hoo hoo
   rarrp rarrp, gogogogock
   feebee, cheep cheep, kakakaaa
   coo ahh, choo eee, coo coo!

And what is the meaning of that?
said the solemn Birdcage Maker.

O nothing at all, said the Old Turkey,
we just enjoy the noise.

Why not do something that makes some sense?
said the serious Birdcage Man.

  We do, we do, all there is to do,
said the Eagle, the Lark, and the others:
  We eat and sleep and move about
  and watch what's going on.
  We mate and nest and sit and hatch
  and watch the young get on.
  We hunt and preen and sing and wash,
  we take long journeys and local jaunts
  or simply sit about and scratch
  and watch what's going on.

But that's quite pointless! said the Birdcage Man,
You'll never get anywhere that way.

Maybe, said the Magpie. Yet when this continent began
we birds were the only two-legged creatures
and we're still very much around.

What's more, the Woodpecker added,
everything man knows he learned from us birds
but he's never enjoyed it as much.

The Cagemaker scoffed: What could I learn from you?

  To do, to do, all there is to do,
said the Heron, the Crow, and the others:
  To eat and sleep and move about
  and watch what's going on.
  To mate and nest and sit and hatch
  and watch the young get on.
  To hunt and preen and sing and wash,
  to take long journeys and local jaunts
  or simply sit about and scratch
  and watch what's going on.

O that's absurd! said the Birdcage Maker,
Don't you know the real meaning of life?

Of course we do, said the Birds of America:
   quak quek quark quark, hoo hoo
   rarrp rarrp, gogogogock
   feebee, cheep cheep, kakakaaa
   coo ahh, choo eee, coo coo!

“Who Said It Was Simple" - Audre Lorde


"Who Said It Was Simple"  - Audre Lorde    

There are so many roots to the tree of anger   
that sometimes the branches shatter   
before they bear.

Sitting in Nedicks
the women rally before they march   
discussing the problematic girls   
they hire to make them free.
An almost white counterman passes   
a waiting brother to serve them first   
and the ladies neither notice nor reject   
the slighter pleasures of their slavery.   
But I who am bound by my mirror   
as well as my bed
see causes in colour
as well as sex

and sit here wondering   
which me will survive   
all these liberations.
Audre Lorde (February 18, 1934 – November 17, 1992) said that "Those of us who stand outside the circle of this society's definition of acceptable women; those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference -- those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are Black, who are older -- know that survival is not an academic skill."

The first night of the riots at the Stonewall Inn took place in New York City on June 28, 1969. In David Carter’s book Stonewall (2004), he quotes witness Michael Fader: “We weren’t going to be walking meekly in the night and letting them shove us around — it’s like standing your ground for the first time and in a really strong way, and that’s what caught the police by surprise. There was something in the air, freedom a long time overdue, and we’re going to fight for it. It took different forms, but the bottom line was, we weren’t going to go away. And we didn’t.”

One of those who didn't go away was Marsha P. Johnson, a transwoman. Robert Heide remembers in the Stonewall book the role Marsha played the first night of the riots: “just saw her in the middle of the whole thing, screaming and yelling and throwing rocks and almost like Molly Pitcher in the Revolution or something."