Encipher / Andrew Zawacki (published in With + Stand)





A flag     in the front yard, fence
at the back,            a graphite-
lacquered cat that            keeps
appearing on the        devilgravel
path:          this is our neighbor
-hood aria          our community's
April aporia,             a mailbox
bent at a bend         in the road,
its little red        pennant still
up, up,              & oak branches
chafing                the shingles
to jangle,         coffee gone cold
in a Styrofoam                 cup,
as the pixels           divide like
pack ice--one       part threshing,
two parts              thrall--gray 
& greenish pink &         flashing:
global capital             's local
                             cater-
                               waul

For All the Angel-Headed Hipsters / Julie Wells


The female Casanovas, inspired by Aphrodite
and laughing in the face of the lord, Man, who has told other men
that female pleasure is a sacrilegious sacrament, holy enough to be sacrificed
but vulgar enough to be entered or excreted or ecstasied only
through the vagina. Our clits are your wombs and your mouths are our
children – hence we cannot make love to you but with you, and we cannot laugh,
either way, except in that one final moment of blind vigil.
We heard our callings but pretended dinner was ready, for sex has always been
a man's business, but our hips were meant for walking and our boots were meant
to be worn with lingerie. My therapist recommends Anais Nin so I stop seeing him
because I have felt the moonlight in my veins and it still hurts –
I have felt the light of daybreak bursting through my eyelids
when love came to town
and I am blind now, blind to beauty or vanity or ego, blind to dirt
and lust and intercourse of ether
but my body, my insides, my reproductive organs are crying out for him
who will fill me like a glass of wine,
him who will worship my cells like Aphrodite.
And I have looked all over the Western hemisphere, only finding two
who ever came close, but the many who tasted, who tried, the many who tired
of their lives of their insides, tried to fill me as if a plastic sippy cup.
You are not milk, I tell you, nor juice, nor water or formula or even
hot chocolate. If you are not wine, I do not want you.
If you do not pour yourself into me like a bottle of red,
you might as well leave still dressed, for I will leave naked
in the dark while you are sleeping to search for him. Him. And there were years
when I thought only a woman would do, a woman of vaginal proportions with a clitoris
the size of Venus – a girl with a heart of amber, perhaps
beautiful enough for a museum – and they were.
The women I knew, whose bodies I touched, the women
who kissed my lips and let me drink their milk
like we were all children and the mother, Mary, was Mother Earth, the
Puerto Rican-Italian-Irish-English-French-Dutch-German women
who allowed me to lift their legs or skirts or belts, I would not be alive
without the women I loved, the women whose breasts
absorbed my ravings of dust and hallways and never-ending sunlight,
my rants about the shadows behind Ani DiFranco lyrics –
this poem is for all my angels who walked me through labyrinths with feminine torches –
I loved you all, even the ones whose legs never opened, even
the ones whose lips never met mine. This poem is for the women who refused me
because she was named after a Buddhist Goddess or she was nervous around clits or she was
dating a friend or she was too tall or she hated the smell
of womanhood, the rising tide of her own scent, the way it split the room into a triangle
of splashing noise and her feet were wet
but her legs refused to wade deeper, to walk into the pool of salt
which would have quenched her thirst for the unknown
once and for all, but instead she waited for days with her feet bubbling against the sand
and her toes' skin mushing into leather. When she walked
towards the sun, she was blinded and drowned,
after all that standing around. This poem
is for the women who loved men more than I do, the women who would only touch me alongside one
or two or strangers of men, the beautiful girls whose hearts beat inside the cocks
of their beloveds, where I could feel them pulsing, all the hearts of all the beloveds
pulsing to the surface within my skin. And I tongued him because you loved him, really,
not because I was trying to get in your pants, but because I wanted to taste you, taste
your love – and it was butterscotch candies in clear plastic wrappers and whiskey
mixed with chocolate syrup. One love
tasted like orchids – and this was the love I envied,
for its sunrise, for its demise, the way it imploded
as a poetic meter bomb, iambic pentameter trapped in liquid
wires, leaving itself open to the chance of writing
a villanelle – I envied the taste of orchids
but also the wool with which they dried each other off after bathing in the stars.
This poem is for the poets I have loved and left, the poets
whose bodies tasted like paper, whose skin was ink, whose blood was made of words
and so had no immune systems. But the others,
oh, the other men and women, before and after and during love, lips parted
to show me the Light
or the Way,
but none of them ever told me where I was going,
so I shied away from tongues for years
and focused on the reliable parts, the parts I could hear
in my dreams,
waking or sleeping,
I could always hear when I hit upon
a string, for breathing is a tell-tale heart
and huh-huh-huh means a song is in the making.
The musicians let me play them, pretended to be investigating
art, writing notes in the dark on the pages of my poet-body, but I do not burn
like paper and so they ended disappointed, wishing they could have inflamed me
like a famous guitar. And I have tasted all these and more
and I do not envy the orchids now,
my beloved, for we taste like spring water, fresh
from the dirt of you, we taste
like a waterfall which becomes a river which will never be dammed.
Though I miss the tastings, miss filling the tiny glasses with different grapes
or differing liquids. You are my Pinot Noir, my darling, filling my cup
completely, but there still exists a body
inside me which aches for whiskey or bourbon or
chocolate milk to be poured over me in the night in my sleep
and I wish to taste the darkness of eyelids' insides. I wish
to scream behind umbrellas of alleyways and curtains of bicycle racks
for the city envelops me with its fingerings, with its men and women
and speeches – my skin waits for overexposure and even the winter twilight
makes me want to strip in the middle of the street. My body aches
for me, for heat, for hair
lapped over the edge of a stardust outline
and strung around my ankles
and the feel of hair on my feet is pepper,
fresh-ground and coarse, housed in a plastic
container, round and flat, the bodies
I have spit out or swallowed whole.

Ignorance / Patrick Bishop


I’m tired of IGNORANCE…
Tired of having to use IGNORANCE
To reach the IGNORANT
While being IGNORANT
Of the IGNORANCE I am using
So as not to become IGNORANT My Damn self…
All the while, ever reminded of the Words of Neitzche
‘Be careful not to become the Monster that you are battling not to become.’
In witnessing all of this IGNORANCE
I have learned that ‘IGNORANCE is Truly Bliss’
Because… if those that are IGNORANT
Were aware of its Bliss
They wouldn’t want to be IGNORANT any longer
But, then again…That’s why it’s Bliss

I’m tired of IGNORANCE

poem / bellah sparxx


All my dreams lie within a bed of words
Composed of letters, made up of curves.
Strung together to make a thought finally real
Written by dreamers to convey how we feel.
Given by lovers to pause and savor
Read by others to feel the flavor.
Cut into couplets to make it easier to read
Like a chef to food, words are what we feed.

we coalesce / andrew mandelbaum


we coalesce
the dark between the stars
the breast of your motherland drank from our mouths
oath-drained we wash the borders
from the maps carved upon our desires
we coalesce
the dark between the stars

stretched out upon the half ruined
counting the feathers on an ivory billed hope
we are a mix breed litter of
constellations blacked-out
foundations over-turned
the dark between the stars

loyalty to species
to caste, to class
the most useful lies
teaching the sallow and the tremble
letting life channel death
huddled beneath an overhang
dripping safety
cold and wet down our spines

the crematoriums rose
on the stone of our promises
we honored the breadlines
we touched the knee

thick sinews of life
drawn-out thin
blood parched
but unbroken
can tightrope us back

between war and capitulation
between the state and the deep blue sea

we can learn the balance
single file
to cross over
into the dark sky
empty of wardens and searchlights
hand fasted to each other
in sight of no one
drinking the black gravity of collapse

without certainty or blueprint
laughing into a terrible sadness
called civilization
we coalesce
the dark between the stars

No Nights for the Bright Ones / Fiona Sheehan


Fire blows night away from the trash can
A relentless wind flattens grass on an Irish shore
Bodies huddled around a desire to stay warm
Break into me and steal what you can find
I’ve got no mind tonight
No thought, no being
Only numbness
A beautiful stillness presses on my skull
However I lived or died
cannot be judged against
the manner in which I lasted through this peace.
These vibrations through the air, a scream from every
Terrified
Devastated
Wasted
Hopeful
Soul.
I hear the elephants roar at night
Cats howl in the chill.
Space closes ‘round me
Like origami boxes
We’re in the shadow of the moon
Our sun’s set too soon
A coffin’s passed through many strange hands
To the electric serenade of bagpipes.
This life is
Shut up
Shipped off
And, eventually,
Quietly returned from whence it came.
With a label reading “return to sender”.

P.S. Please recycle.

New Father Time (to Allen Ginsberg) / Mark Bromberg


Dear Allen

I'm proposing you the new Father Time
     for this third millennium
          a thousand-year party
               no more blackrob'd old man icon
                    no more ancient doddering fool
                         no more hourglass or crook'd scythe

in Prague 1965
     you were King of the May
          this should be a piece of cake
               what d'you say

you in your top hat stars & stripes
     with harmonium at your side
          bearded smiling (or serious too
               in hornrimm'd glasses)
                    with a young man always there
                         St. Peter Orlovsky
                              ready to hoist yr pump organ

the new millennial hip Father Time
     what d'you say
          satisfaction guaranteed
               or your millennium back

. . . . .

Dear Allen

I wonder what you would do
     if you were here this new years eve
          I'm happy to report
               handsome boys still ride the crosstown bus
                    read poetry and smile
                         at strangers who smile back
 jazz still plays in basement doorways
     (Miles
          Monk
               Coltrane giant
                             steps)
streetlights bestow halos on panhandlers
     this last december week
          in a cold december year

America never gets enough hope
     like America never gets enough of anything
          all America gets is more
               but it never gets enough
two world wars not enough of wars
     terrorism not enough of terror
          bank bailouts not enough of money
               civil rights not enough of civil rights

America never gets enough
     not enough saints in Dallas and Memphis
          not enough saints in Oklahoma City bombing
               not enough saints in World Trade Center collapse
                    not enough saints from Katrina flooding

America never gets enough
Congress sex talk not enough of sex talk
     Reagan/Bush not enough of sweet talk
          Bush/Cheney not enough of false talk
               Obama/Biden not enough of tough talk

America never gets enough
good drugs not enough good drugs
     rock & roll not enough rock & roll
          all America ever gets is more
               but it never gets enough
                    enough is never enough
                         in this American millennium

. . . . .

Dear Allen

I wonder what you're doing this new years eve
must be some crazy scene
Jesus & Mohammed
     Coltrane blowing "Ascension"
          Walt putting the moves on Neal
               Jack and Gutauma discussing the dharma
                    you and Peter rolling the joints
                        (finest gage at low low prices)
imagine the conversation
     poetics and transcendence
          a love supreme ... a love supreme ...
(pls tell Mr Whitman we share the same
          birthday     May 31)

later
     it's no time for talk
          party hats askew after serious drink
               give Jack that bliss'd out sloppy kiss
                    let Bill cop the immaculate fix
                         keep Neal away from the hydrogen jukebox

                              but let him drive the bus

most of all New Father Time
give America the dope of hope
this new year's eve

give America the big-hope kiss
     to last a thousand years
          to last a thousand years
               to last a thousand years
                    let it be enough
                         to last a thousand years

Let there finally be enough
     enough America to get it right
          enough time to get it right
               enough love to get it right
                    enough hope to get it right
                         enough daylight to get it right
                              enough night

I missed it. The story of my life. /Showyn Walton aka "Buddah"


Romantically hopeless, the hopeless romantic. I've dreamed on both sides of the Atlantic and didn't panic.
Off guard and stranded, you act like I planned it.
Killing me softly as usual. So organic is your love.
Now, you can say the game was called on the account of stupid, even if you say I command it.
I broke most of the Commandments, so we are no longer inseperable.
Everything seems higher when you lay face down in your pity.
I blame my ego problems on gravity.
Why can't I fall up?
I took lovers for granted and just didn't understand it.
I flew and never practiced the landings, Dammit.
So, now I get flustered and frantic.
Between the last and the next, I'm hopelessly sandwiched.
What's really on the menu.
If not the good stuff, I'll still continue,
to taste the lonely burger with sad sauce. No pickle.
It's all we are serving at this time.
Now, I know what heart burn feels like.
Don't go shopping for a new lover on an empty stomach.
You may throw up something better than what you find.
Time and oppurtunity, never working at the same rate.

what we'll be do / ralph la charity


the whole of what we do here won’t be done again
...makes you wonder why we remember what we do

I walked off with things in hand I couldn’t drop
I knew I’d bring it back but maybe not

the whole of crossing over’s
the whole of what we do here

stutter-trills & hop-slides fare thee well
the echo’s cadence till namore remains the same

staying put’s not what we’ll be do
no, tis not what we’ll achieve

the urge to stop still waits upon the rise
caught our breath in teardrops where they ran

these shadows stride askance & dip askew
the crossing bears namore the tilting shade

reverberate head bones these tones we do
each line of every song escapes in vain

all rhythms hold all breath & hearts the same

the whole of what we’re doing’s
all the whole of crossing over

tis the patch of light briefly where we stood
tis the is of this that winks away