Haiku and senryu - David Oates

outdoor concert
after everyone’s gone
calls of tree frogs

alone in the house, 
little dog startles, then listens
answering machine

as we drive
down the highway she says, 
“All of this is an illusion.”                    
I say, “Still, I’ll keep my hands 
on the wheel.”

at the red light
three waiting drivers, all dance 
in their seats

from a pickup window
graceful bare feet 
with dirty soles

in the doorway 
at tap-dancing class
mother tries a step

little daughter watches 
as he rubs Rogaine on his skull –
“It’s not working, Dad.”

finishes her candy bar –
even on her back, 

small town South
 “Ah men” congregation
with an “Ā men” preacher

Athens, Georgia--
outside pawnshop 
he opens the car’s trunk
gets his bass drum

Ritalin kicks in
I want to alphabetize
my spice rack

David Oates is tonight's featured reader at tonight's open  mic at the Globe. Sign-up for open mic is at 7 pm and readings begin upstairs at 8 pm

"There Is No Time" - Lou Reed

"There Is No Time" - Lou Reed

This is no time for celebration
this is no time for shaking hands
This is no time for backslapping
this is no time for marching bands
This is no time for optimism
this is no time for endless thought
This is no time for my country right or wrong
remember what that brought
There is no time
there is no time
There is no time
there is no time

This is no time for congratulations
this is no time to turn your back
This is no time for circumlocution
this is no time for learned speech
This is no time to count your blessings
this is no time for private gain
This is the time to put up or shut up
it won't come back this way again
There is no time
there is no time
There is no time
there is no time
This is no time to swallow anger
this is no time to ignore hate
This is no time to be acting frivolous
because the time is getting late
This is no time for private vendettas
this is no time to not know who you are
Self-knowledge is a dangerous thing
the freedom of who you are
This is no time to ignore warnings
this is no time to clear the plate
Let's not be sorry after the fact
and let the past become our fate
There is no time
there is no time
There is no time
there is no time
This is no time to turn away and drink
or smoke some vials of crack
This is a time to gather force
and take dead aim and attack
This is no time for celebration
this is no time for saluting flags
This is no time for inner searchings
the future is at hand
This is no time for phony rhetoric
this is no time for political speech
This is a time for action
because the future's within reach
This is the time
this is the time
This is the time
because there is no time
There is no time
there is no time
There is no time

There is no time

"My Father Is a Retired Magician" - Ntozake Shange

"My Father Is a Retired Magician"
(for ifa, p.t., & bisa)

my father is a retired magician
which accounts for my irregular behavior
everythin comes outta magic hats
or bottles wit no bottoms & parakeets
are as easy to get as a couple a rabbits
or 3 fifty cent pieces/ 1958

my daddy retired from magic & took
up another trade cuz this friend of mine
from the 3rd grade asked to be made white 
on the spot

what cd any self-respectin colored american magician
do wit such a outlandish request/ cept
put all them razzamatazz hocus pocus zippity-do-dah
thingamajigs away cuz
colored chirren believin in magic
waz becomin politically dangerous for the race
& waznt nobody gonna be made white
on the spot      just
from a clap of my daddy's hands

& the reason i'm so peculiar's 
cuz i been studyin up on my daddy's technique
& everythin i do is magic these days
& it's very colored
very now you see it/ now you
dont mess wit me
                 i come from a family of retired
sorcerers/ active houngans & pennyante fortune tellers
wit 41 million spirits critturs & celestial bodies  
on our side
              i'll listen to yr problems
              help wit yr career     yr lover     yr wanderin spouse
              make yr grandma's stay in heaven more gratifyin
              ease yr mother thru menopause & show yr son
              how to clean his room

YES YES YES       3 wishes is all you get
     scarlet ribbons for yr hair
        benwa balls via hong kong
           a miniature of machu picchu

all things are possible
but aint no colored magician in her right mind
gonna make you     white
        i mean
        this is blk magic
you lookin at
          & i'm fixin you up good/ fixin you up good n colored
& you gonna be colored all yr life
& you gonna love it/ bein colored/ all yr life/ colored & love it
love it/ bein colored/

Spell #7 from Upnorth-Outwest Geechee Jibara Quik Magic Trance Manual for Technologically Stressed Third World People

"Wild Prayer" - Ciera Durden

"Wild Prayer" - Ciera Durden

An apology now starts to form
When I mention I still believe in something holy.
The acknowledgement of that week’s list of horrors shared through whatever media bubbles up,
And I find myself almost defensive,
Like I’m protecting a cruel friend.

There is always the “despite of” that comes before
Explaining how I can still feel the divine
Run up the hidden veins in my legs when I touch the earth,
How some miracle splits the sky open every morning,
Even in the middle of all this pain. 

At this point, belief is nearly embarrassing,
And I find myself avoiding prayer because of it. 

At this point, not even sure what method could I cast out into
The great, wide what-have-you
To be heard.

On hopeful, naïve days, this scene of confrontation becomes
A quiet knock on the door
To ask whomever is crowded in the house of the universe’s center
To come out for a walk with me
And talk things over. 

I might begin,
“You have done some really beautiful work here.
The cold fog rising up at dawn saved my life today.
And last night, I kissed someone who loved me as much as I love her.
I know you did that, 
But why this mess over here?
Why that suffering, that grief, that death?”

On other days, this scene falls apart,
The trap that prayer
Has never been a stroll in the park
As much as it has been tossing coins down the well,
Words bouncing in cheap copper plinks into the dark mouth
Of something that only gapes mutely back.

But this too falls apart
In the infuriating, but honest moments
When I feel something did answer back—
In how the car swerved that day and righted itself,
In the unexpected but certain press of comfort from a friend long-past,
In how you and I met that night, despite all of it,
During these times, I know
Just as I do not speak every language of every bright soul I meet,
Or understand immediately what the dog wants
In his wordless but earnest twitch of body—

Maybe this, too, shapes differently,
And to expect what or who made this all,
Every way to speak, to signal, to reach out and gather,
To answer in my one, small way
Is not how any of this works.

This is not the old excuse—
God works in mysterious ways—
This is not the final answer or any answer
To what evil we all felt yesterday.

This is only turning everything that the unknown made in me
Back to it
In love, and in fury,
Prayer a whole-body experience,
Worship a life of seeing and seen,
Every breath a question mark,
Every gesture a waiting, open hand.

It's time to celebrate fall at October's open mic! Featured will be poet Ciera Durden in a welcome visit back to Athens Word of Mouth.

Ciera has been a member of Athens Word of Mouth since 2011. Currently, she lives in Anderson, SC, and is looking to tap into the poetry scene in the South Carolina area. Her poetry focuses on confessional pieces, as well as themes on sexuality, religion, gender, and mysticism.
Open mic sign-up at the Globe is Wednesday October 3 @ 7 p.m. and readings begin upstairs at 8 p.m. See you there for this special night! [Photo by David Noah]

"Help define these hands" - Ciera Durden

"Help define these hands" - Ciera Durden

Good work has already been taught to them:
How to clasp a button to its home, 
How to write the language of my mother and father,
How to knead water and flour into something worthy of the mouth,
And how to stay what violence could rear up in them long enough to settle.

But these are old lessons, and solitary ones.
And when around you,
These hands move for something new, 
Something beyond the work physics of mundane hour-to-hour,  
Clock-job arrangements.  
Around you, they want to take on forms 
Outside of what was ever taught to me.
They want to share with you a strange greatness, 
By the thought of you alone, they become the support of a new religion,  
Something with no son, no white-haired god, but plenty of holy 
And holy,
And holy,

Help define this prayer:

What, exactly, do these hands clasp for, and with, at night?  
What new words my bloodline couldn’t hold are coming?  
When we are this way, how is it, to be full? 
What leavens up and over? 
Who consumes, 
And who gives? 

So then, make with me the come-together.
Pass this motion.
Take it from my hands,
To your mouth,  
From your mouth,
To my hands,
Give it 
A voice.
Give it
A name. 

"Note to High School Reunion Committee" - David Noah


           "Note to High School Reunion Committee" - David Noah

I won’t be attending the fiftieth high school reunion,
or queuing up to tour the old place,
though I thank the committee for its invitation.
It’s not fear of showing my wrinkled face

that will keep me from the happy event—
we all look like a sheet the morning after.
It’s just that my years in high school were spent
in pursuits ill-suited to stories and laughter.

I could mention the drugs and the sex, I guess,
or tell tales of madness and family drama,
before getting round to the French teacher’s kiss.
Madame, who taught the intro to love and trauma.

Who knows where the years have gone?
Let’s just say it’s time I moved on.

"Honky-Tonk Milk" - Rupert Fike

"Honky-Tonk Milk" - Rupert Fike

    - Run get your father. His dinner’s going cold.

I am maybe eight, dispatched to “the joint”
up at the corner, a job I know well,
one of his buzzed buddies, as usual, hoisting
me to a stool, the shiny red seat where
I can see the barman’s long stained apron.
A drink for me is proposed, seconded,
milk produced from somewhere, quite suspect,
already warming in its just-washed mug.
The milk sits becalmed, contaminated
by the glass whose life’s work is to hold beer,
and there is so much of it, topped off
by the barman who surely has no kids.
The talking goes on. I stare at the milk,
now mine, an unwanted social fate.
His friends keep the strong-breath questions coming -
do I have girlfriends and how many?
Any answer I give is well received.
The pin-ball machine makes modern noises
over in the corner, begging for quarters.
I want to play but too shy to ask.
My mother is waiting. The milk is waiting.
My father is talking to somebody else,
and now my own food is going cold
in the quiet light of home at the table
where I am fed, where I want to be.
I put my lips to the glass for one sip.
It’s awful. I manage a Mmmmmm. They cheer.

Atlanta in the 1950s was like a collection of small towns, each with its own little grocer, drug store and sometimes a bar. I like to refer to this as my “Dickensian” chore, running to tell my father that dinner was ready. The bar is still there, barely changed - Moe’s and Joe’s. Now though it’s mostly home to Emory students and hipsters basking in some imagined retro-land. I never go there. This poem too grew from positive reactions to my stories of having to “have a drink” with my father’s buddies when I really did not want to. It’s kind of an end to our childhood when we first do something just to make another person feel good. - Rupert Fike