forked tongue / michelle red elk

of force, the forked tongue
and the engine stands panting on less known terraces
bears down on each strand of air.
long body
sail me sooner
shine me down.
or let the glint reach the ears heart of another
steer the far away hopeful defiance to sit
on the crest of another’s back
and wail, whisper, motion.
to see the pause in another’s eyeing gesture
and know the shadow of the cloud is moving
the flash of the firefly knows all obstacles
runs across the long knives of the grass
and strokes a red tint to each object of force.

A Habit About / Ralph La Charity

I got a habit about what America’s about

I got a habit about none of my business

I got a habit about having habits

America’s about having habits
America’s about nobodies, their habits
I got a habit about the nobody business
America’s about this business
         of nobodies having habits

being nobody, knowing nobody
having a habit about knowing nobody
nobodies’ business is my All-American habit
I, All-American nobody,
         know all about that

knowing about that’s what America’s about
knowing about that’s a habit everybody’s got
a habit everybody’s got’s what
     American business habitually knows
tho’ nobody knows everybody’s business
the business of knowing nobody knows
 is the business American business
  keeps nobodies from knowing about
I got a habit about
   what being kept from knowing about’s about

being kept’s what America’s about
every bit as much as being kept from is
being bought’s just as big a habit, too
& I got a habit about all of that
being a kept from nobody somebody’s
           trying to buy’s where
                             I’m kept
& hey, I got a habit about where

                they     keep     me.

Prosaic Andoline / Steve Robbins

I read you like a book, Andoline,
bending back the binding,
to stretch your taut, relenting spine.
I finger your creases back to the beginning
and palm your mounds, your mounds are mine,

Your 12 point pica smell, a cave smell,
the smell of soft stone red with hieroglyphic font.
It wafts violent against the pretty print.

I intuit the space between your 7 storied lines,
the room where I, your faithful reader, unpack my sack,
the space where I, your rough border
settle on sex perfumed sheets.

But know, Love, my going will be dog-eared
for I will return hoping to find you as I left you
soiled with my careless gray fingerprints,
the ash of rude cigarettes smudging your made up world.
I am your story's vital plot, Andoline,
the hands that hold your typeset soul,
the lips that wean your milky words.

Memory serves the midnight mind / Mark Bromberg

to keep the days right-side up
from colliding on one another
even as the pictures keep sliding
across the gray desk
at the midnight-mind detective agency

"we have a set of pictures
here, if you need reminding ...
d'you remember that one?"
Nah. This one, tho ...
how old is that one?
Really? Wow.

A picture in my Burroughs fedora
circa 1978 party high or
talking Syracuse-smack with Lou
at the record shop

the right three chords with Joey Ramone
in a Patti Smith snowstorm

gee I remember those now
(Andy Warhol voice,
a little shy)

Lookit that
there's the Polaroid
Joy took when
the nudnik in front of me
asked if Lou was
ever-gonna-play-with-Sting, ya know?
Whatta question!

What I really remember now
are the words
written in blotched ink on a napkin
folded in half on itself

evidence of serious gray matters
with the first words of the poems
about each one of those days
found in a forgotten box
in the attic

Real eyeball-kicks
Oh yeah

I remember those days now
but from this distance
somehow I like
the old word trails better
old pictures fade
the old words last

Ode to Dried Roses, for Michael / Julie Wells

You are everything, my darling, a white cloud flying past
the small airplane window, an amber ring set in sterling silver,
a yellowed book stained with age and dust and thoughts.
Occasionally, you are a two-liter of Sprite, your green plastic
shining against a muggy evening. Most of all, you are the world,
my love, and all its poetry: the psalms and songs and rosary beads
twisted around the wrist of a Catholic, a yarmulke on a Syrian head,
The Bible, all of it, the Torah or Old Testament or Jewish
Holy Book, and also its neighbor in piety, the Christian words
of the New Testament, and also a crucifix on the wall
of a Southern Baptist and a wool cap on an Irishman,
a plastic pencil wedged behind the ear of a mathematician,
the Qur'an, a turban seated next to a Hasidic curl on the subway,
a Korean woman throwing her beads across the street because she
has promised herself she will not curse and she cannot seem
to stop. You are my ancestors' ancestors, their ways and customs
and lines of thought. You are, in fact, a line from a poem
only you could have written, a note from a song only we have ever sung,
a smile from the face of a child we have not conceived yet. Yes,
your beard without moustache, the style you call the Abraham Lincoln,
it is a bleeding heart ripped from a dinosaur centuries ago but somehow
still beating, and your eyes are chocolate frosting whipped quickly
to go atop a cake which is already baking, but you, my dear, you are the sun
which wakes me every morning and the moon I address my Good Night's to
and the earth I will never lose sight of. You are the world, my love, and all its
poetry; you are the feet I stand on, the shoes I wear, and the gravity helping.

The Path Cracked / Bob Brussack

Behind her,
The path cracked.
A fissure opened,
Estranging all
That was
From whatever
Will be.
No device
Recorded a tremor.
She heard no sound
But her doctor’s voice.

On the Other Hand / Grady Thrasher

Christine O’Donnell, Republican candidate for 
Senator from Delaware,
thinks the Earth is a few thousand years old,
and further believes that the science-based account 
of the evolution of our species
is a myth.

On the other hand,

she embraces a religious dogma
that was founded upon
an array of primitive superstitions,
taken up and organized
by the Caesars of Rome
as an effective instrument of repression,
then honed by
medieval ignorance and torture,
and refined by modern denial,
as the embodiment of Truth.

Unfortunately for America,
her beliefs appear to be shared
by many in her political spectrum,
and she could very well become
part of a future wing nut majority
in the United States Senate.

Looking back,
I suppose our country
has survived worse.
But Christine poses a unique threat,
which, to my knowledge,
never before has been faced
by the American electorate.

She wants to take away one of our
“inalienable rights,”
one clearly implied, if not clearly stated
in the “pursuit of happiness” clause
our Founding Father, Thomas Jefferson
(a man of diverse happy pursuits),
so thoughtfully included in
the Declaration of Independence.

Like an explorer
in the Age of Discovery,
my teenage self
acted with impunity
in repeated reliance
on this particular right,
which, as Jefferson so aptly put it,
was “Endowed by our Creator,”
continually satisfied that I was being faithful
to our country’s founding precepts.

And after nagging worries about
sudden onset blindness and hairy palms
proved unfounded,
I fearlessly maintained
a swollen sense of pride
as I welcomed each eruption of
unabashed and intensely passionate patriotism
brought forth by my labors.

On the other hand

Candidate Christine wants to take from us
this one inalienable right,
the one within easy reach
of almost all people,
regardless of income, creed, color, national origin
or political persuasion—
a right the people can exercise on demand
in the privacy of their homes, offices or automobiles—
a right that some, especially teenagers,
can exercise sometimes just by
exercising their minds.

Christine would make
this cherished inalienable right illegal
because she believes it to be a sin,
likening it to “cheating,”
although she is unclear
as to who or what
is being cheated, or how.

Could it be just an exaggerated fear
of the left hand
not knowing what the right hand
is doing?

Recently, attempting to clarify her position
on this issue, she announced
that the greater sin
she is trying to inhibit is “lust,”
stating that that one cannot commit the sin
she wishes to proscribe
without lust being its handmaiden.
Well, Christine,
here’s where you definitely
could use a helping hand.
Clearly, you speak from
a lack of experience.

Now, there are probably some of you
who might agree with Christine
from a religious
or even the unwanted hair viewpoint.
If so, you might find comfort in
novelist Christopher Moore’s succinct
resolution of his theological concerns:

If this is a sin, then at least it is one
which takes hours and hours of practice
to get it right.”

To paraphrase Shakespeare,
Ahhhh, that’s the rub!!

On the other hand

In fairness to all,
I believe it is up to each individual
to get his or her own hands
around this controversy
and find their own conclusions.
If we can get a good grip
on the questions,
then we may find that answers
 will come easily.

ATTLE CHEE ATTLE / Ralph La Charity

when chee qualmie me Attle Seacomish
chee qualmie come stillish
come stillish sno Attle cheecom

when chee qualmie homish see agua sno Attle
chee qualmie agua   agua qualmie
Seacomish snoguamish guano qualmie
snocomish guano guanatchee
at chee guamqualmie guanatchee still

          Attle chee Attle / chee Attle cheecom

cheecomcomish cheecomqualmie
when at come quacheecomish
homish chee Attle me guamqualmie
sno homish   when at chee
come at chee sno, come at chee gua
at chee still a guamish omcomish
come at chee sno guamish, at chee come coma comagua
omcomish   at chee agua   comqualmie qualm

          Attle chee Attle / chee Attle chee gua

gua comagua omcomish
gua guamish Seacomish still Attle
sno guamish guanatchee gua homish still
when chee qualmie, chee qualmie homish sno guamish

chee comish guamcomish when Attle
omcomish still Attle comagua, still Attle a coma
when chee qualmie, me chee guamish
when chee comish, me chee Attle

          gua chee Attle
                         Attle me guamqualmie
          Attle me guamcomish
                               qua chee Attle
          chee comish Attle
                             chee guamish Attle

qualmie sno homish               qualmie when at chee

          Attle chee Attle / chee Attle chee Qua

Privacy Is A Courtesy / Ralph La Charity

there are many ways to say it:

they got some ignorant mother
fuckers walkin the face of this earth
they got some ignorant mother
fuckers walkin the face of this earth
they got some ignorant mother
fuckers walkin the face of this earth
& the world is a funny place
& the world is a funny place
& the world is a funny place

haven't known many dancers
but I imagine
away from the stage
some are absolute zombies
while the intelligence of others
accommodates a full host
of rich wisdom
& variation

you for example
are a spectacularly
erotic lady on a stage
if you're at all
like that in private I

just don't know what you do

in private.

My Am Easy / Ralph LaCharity

Sing Songs Allied Am Ever We May
Sing Songs Am Easy & E'er Easily We

Salam Alas My My Am May
Salam Salam My My Am We
My Eye Am Thine Aye Aligned

Song Am Eye & Aye Am Blind
Song All Am E'er & May We Am
So All Am May & We Am Aye

Sing Am My Am We Am & More
Sing We Am Each Finality Eased
Sing We Am Sensed & Easily Each

Mine Am We Each Evening Seen
So Every Here We Am My May
My Mere Am Each Sang Since Thee

Since My Am Easy My Am Easily Thine
May We My Am So Easily Be
Sing My Am Each Each Eve Since Thee

Here Bind Mine Am Am May & Mere
May Am Me My My Thine Align
Thy My My Maybe Mind Am Eyed & Mine

Since Song Am Eye & Aye Am Blind
Since Song Alas Am E'er We May

Cadence / Steve Robbins

O for the cadence of wild rivers
unperturbed, unquestioning, unimaginative
a-roil in grand erosive bliss
who tinker, spit and string along the cool incline
with un-refrained tongues benign
rivers who sing their duets with wolves
rivers who whine along corridors of descent
descanting, deriding, doubting quells of conscience
stone focused, burrowing holes into un-molten dross
they go, flow and unfold a destiny foretold by gravity
wending their endings in occult communal ecstasies
slapping, lapping, flapping on the shores of lake-front
cottages men design to mind their own boastful cadence,
the cadence of rivers impounded, weighting waves
at the obfuscated end of natures ignored.

About Her Zebraic Arcane / collage by Ralph La Charity

the sacred / michelle red elk

the wordless acts
yellow beams reunion
an eternal procession beyond reverence
the naming
rock paintings in all places
soothing soil
translators of caves
sharp winters when black timber cracks
the architecture of the sacred circle
stones hand picked for their songs
domes of stars colliding
a low elegance of mountain flowers
the four directions
stitched with earthworms and moss
sand and thorns
voices of the dead rustle
our bones and fingertips
words begin to swell
a simple chant carries itself out
it rolls into corners
lays its hands across generations
calls the horse to the circle
extends its honor into our own veins
roaring through us we feel the chant
pick up on the chords of truth
that the heart of the horse reveals
we become one
we sing
“Behold, a sacred voice is calling you;
All over the sky a sacred voice is calling.”*

*Black Elk