"Lost" - Alex Johns

"Lost" - Alex Johns

I was so focused on writing
that a roach had lighted,
ninja-quiet, unnoticed

on my bald skull, 
my lightbulb with ears:

an armored astronaut now perched 
upon a virgin surface.

At least a minute had passed,
at least a day in a bug's life,

before I felt it make its way
from my crown down my spine.     I 

flailed and raged like a ninja on Xanax, and
when it fell, despite its skill, revealed there

on the arm of the chair for what it was, 

alien, exoskeletal,
almost black,

I slammed down my fist
and in the process hit the black X
in the corner of the screen
to end the software's session,

and I lost the poem,

the best one I've ever written.

This story is literally true.

The poem would have been truer,

the way stars each scream
a secret,

the way every dream
seems to be an example of something, 
but you can't know what
just yet, 

perhaps primordial chaos,
perhaps of future times,
perhaps of something
psychic, extinct, or otherwise divine.

Then you forget.

"Ciera as Artemis" - Gregory de Rocher

"Ciera as Artemis" - Gregory de Rocher

At dusk she rises, ghost-like, from beyond the forest.

Ascending, slow to assume full posture
yet all the while hunting, she studies for hours
the rising tides and the restless movements of men,
before quitting her vigil.

She then regains her couch, concealing
herself, and all she observed, from the hungry eye of Apollo
and the ever-curious Morning Star.

Gregory de Rocher will be reading "Ciera as Artemis" at Goetry #3, the monthly open mic held this Monday night 9 pm, at Go Bar on Prince Ave. Artemis is the Greek goddess of the hunt. The illustration is a detail of a vase, circa 470 BC, Artemis drawing her bow; the goddess wears a head band, a deer-skin shawl, and a quiver strapped across her back.

"Lovers and poems" - Shafkat Khan

"Lovers and poems" - Shafkat Khan

Maybe poems are like lovers.

That when you meet a new one,
you forget about the old one?

The tingle you feel from the novelty 
of this meeting, of this romance,
makes you oblivious to 
the thrill and depth of passion
you felt for the last.
The new expression of love
somehow makes the old
redundant, although the old still rings true.

Maybe lovers are like poems.

The new one demands that
you love her just like
you loved the previous one, if not more.
The new one demands that
you create new dreams with words
and forget the old dreams
though they also were of truth and beauty.

With you,
I can't ever know
if I am your old lover
or your new poem.

Shafkat Khan was the featured reader at this month's Word of Mouth open mic event. The illustration is by artist Fumitake Uchida.

"Heading South on a January Adventure" - Bob Ambrose

"Heading South on a January Adventure" - Bob Ambrose

In memory of Marcus Borg, and appreciation for Epworth by the Sea
Athens, Georgia
January 24, 2015

There are sullen winter spells
that settle heavy on the soul
like overcooked comfort food
on two hour naps through

half dark days, stuck
in a string of gray thirties,
when wet descends in cold
drifts; when stoic dogs

slink tail down and humans
trudge a step behind,
shoulders hunched, as both
begrudge the grim task;

when songbirds are silent
fluffballs decorating bare
branches, and muffled crows
cast about, listless. But, yes —

when the cold cloud lifts;
when morning frost makes fractal
arcs and silver whorls tag windshields;
when the sky dome glows blue again

I shall head south on a state road, past
brown fields of dog fennel when backlit
tips are tan halos behind stubble ditches
and broomsedge shoulders. I shall sail

over silhouettes of distant cattle plying
well trod pasture; beyond tin-roof sheds,
strewn about with farm machines; above
wet lawns anchored by scotch broom

and lonely oak; over ordered rows of old
pecan outside the town where Remus
broods; through the strip past Andalusia,
set apart from the way to Walmart.

I shall crest the fall line and roll the frozen
swells of an ancient seabed that stretches
out to the blue-green horizon of barren
plantations in cash-crop pine.

Will you come too? Shall we tune
our souls to a mellow song? Can we
‘Let it Be’ ‘Sweet Baby James’ down
‘The Long and Winding Road’ again?

So calm we are energized by Enya.
So centered we bless the car that cuts
us off and love the occupied driver
inside. For there are kind winter

spells, and we are heading south,
cutting through noon shadows
to a land of graybeard and ghosts,
confluence of earth and sky, river

and sea, where brackish channels
braid marsh and mudbank, porpoise
feed the peaceful waters, and mist
mingles with heaven at dawn.

"In sorrow of Victor" - Shafkat Khan

"In sorrow of Victor" - Shafkat Khan

The first flowers of spring
wish for breaking winter's shackle.
I, then, step outside
for a lonely walk,
wishing for your touch.
much as the spring's warmth
surrounds me.
I want to sing of you
as the warblers sing of spring.
Unlike theirs,
my song remains unsung.

The first colors of fall
brings respite from summer's burn.
The cool air and the blue sky
framed by rainbow leaves
make me wish of your vibrance.
Inside me,
the drought of summer singes
and the drab of winter reigns.
Walking in the hues of fall,
I, a blank canvas,
wish of your colors.


You surround me,
not touching.
You paint around me,
not coloring.
I walk towards you
in the fall,
in the spring,
with tears dark,
and a mourning song unsung.

Shafkat is tonight's featured reader at the monthly Word of Mouth open mic, upstairs at The Globe beginning at 8 p.m. "In sorrow of Victor" was inspired by "Demain dès l'aube" by Victor Hugo (1802-1885), considered one of the greatest and best known French writers. More oShafkat's poetry can be found on his website.

"Feeling Fog Feeling God" - Eugene C. Bianchi


"Feeling Fog Feeling God" - Eugene C. Bianchi

“Just sit there right now.
Don’t do a thing. Just rest.
For your separation from God
is the hardest work in this world.”
--Shams-ud-din Muhammad Hafiz (1320-1389)

Sounds awfully pious like a preacher 
bent on getting our lapsed hides back 
into synagogues, mosques and churches. 
Yet that sainted excommunicate Jew 
Bennie Spinoza, grinding his lenses 
in The Hague, found God everywhere 
as did Persian poet Hafiz and Catholic Aquinas, 
who thought getting separated from the divine 
impossible or at least a very hard chore 
especially if you don’t block nature from 
seeping into your soul, aware or distracted.

Today a soft Georgia fog rose from the Oconee
gently spread over oaks, dogwood, sweet gum 
over scampering squirrels and my garden 
bench to tap on my chest for re-entry. 
This is an old man’s fog less rushed and 
insistent than its cousin that streamed over
the San Francisco Bay in my youth, cascading 
through hills and hurrying by me to 
push inland for new ventures and dreams.

Just then three clean-cut young Mormons in dark ties 
and short-sleeve white shirts interrupted my musings 
to tell me about the splendor of the latter days. 
I offered them a vaguer mist as maybe godly 
though bright with doubt, when they were ready.

Later I explained all this to cat Max who 
mumbled assent, but wondered where he could buy 
Spinoza’s glasses, so I reminded him of his built-ins.

"Feeling Fog Feeling God" is a selection from Gene's new collection, Chewing Down My Barn: Poems from the Carpenter Bees. His website is http://www.bianchibooks.com

"This is (one year later)" 
- Ciera Durden

"This is (one year later)" 
- Ciera Durden
(for Ellen)

This is 
You have come into my home
After all the locks have been eaten
And all the dogs run off.
This is 
I am still hungry and the windows are open—
Come here. 

This is still a promise
And it still waits, a year stronger,
A much louder howl—
If the villagers weren’t scared before,
They sure are now.  
This is a fearsome, mighty thing
Cradled in good, rough hands and in the belly of the witch,
Fed on laughter, smoke, river water, and chasing feet, 
But it is also a tender, gentle thing: 
Charmed, kept, 

Sweet spirit,
Come here.

That is:
Touch me and I will grasp you.
A year later, this is still dangerous 
And even more raw.  
But we are older women for all our youth,
And I still want you in a rain storm, 
Make a specter lightning streak out of this and 
Let every ghost and shock make their mark.

Haunt me— 
I am not afraid.
We know what we are doing. 

This is 
I have circled our promise with torch fire
And you have sang away every dark threat,
This is 
You are my jade and every other precious thing. 

This is 
We have traded a thousand mile dance 
For a stumble across the kitchen floor,
And I am incredibly grateful for your scent in my sheets and your laughter in my ear,
Come here,
Make me the coyote at night and the old woman in the morning,
I am always ready for the next kiss and the next ravage, 
Every corner of your body,
Come here, 
The door knob has been eaten too,
Every twist and curse rattle swallowed 
And I am still starving,    
And a staunch atheist 
And some wild mystic once agreed on the power of intention—
What a hungry energy.

This is twelve months and two voices 
And three hundred ways
And more than three days.

This is tired and triumphant fever, 
Hard hours and good work.

Is a love letter
And a thank you note.

[art by Charley Seagraves]