Two Poems by Pauletta Hansel

Why I Write

Always the hope
it is more artichoke than onion,
and I am heading toward
a plump, sweet mystery
the surface never can reveal.

Or like tapping mother's crystal goblets,
each resonating note heard only
in relation to the other--
yes this; not that; these together
make the tune.

Always Looking at the Wrong Thing

Not the sweet bruised flesh
but the worm's sharp wounding.

Not the fruit
but its weight.

Not the day
but the dark that frames it.

Not the garden
but the gate.

The Winter Carnival - New Haven, Connecticut, 1972 / Michelle Castleberry

                          For Matt DeGennaro

The fried dough vendor made the most money,
handing steaming, golden discs through the window,
while people in line stole heat from the side of the trailer.
The air was too cold to carry the scent
of red sauce and sugar very far.
Folks unloaded themselves from the Tilt-a-Whirl
with frosted eyelashes and blue noses.
A clump of teenagers punched each other warm
and swore the ice on the rails made  the roller coaster go faster.
Wind pouring through the streets gave couples an excuse
to hide their hands in the warmth of each other’s’ coats.
Head hung, the carnival agent counted the same few bills,
watched the same few faces make the rounds.
No one bought lemonade, but the bootlegger
in the black coat poured shots of limoncello and whiskey
for quarters all afternoon behind the animal trailers.
The big cats curled around their own heat in the cage corners,
refusing to rouse even for sausages thrown in by wheedling kids.
An hour before closing the mercury dropped further,
the voices of the dozen people left rose
on the strength of drunken bravery. They willed themselves
to remember the story they were walking in.
Promises and proposals were made, and babies, and beautiful
Legends of inspired impulse that echoed like carousel music.
The bootlegger and his quarters jingled home
under the strobe and throb of starlight and string-lights
duking it out in the December dark.
His wife rubbed his numb ears back to stinging life
as he laughed about ‘Gennaro’s best bad idea
and later fell asleep remembering the sight
he would carry for a lifetime—
of clouds of elephant breath,
fogging over Chapel Street.

Love is Luck / Jay Morris

Love is luck
And a lot of biology
I've never been good with fortune
And evolution has not been kind
But I know of poetry
And a lot of accidental chemistry
That I apologize for
When love became an apology
And I could feel your knuckles crack
When your hand was in mine
Your smile smelled of botox
And paralysis clamped onto your knees
Like a clingy boy who apologizes too much
I'm sorry
This has happened before
And you are just another bad poem
Trying to be as vague as possible
Screaming as generally loud as you can
Beating around a burning bush
prophetic in hindsight
Are you still here?
I'm sorry if my goodbye
Sounded like a hello.

Silver Louie / Ben Gulyas

Silver Louie dreamed through an open head bone,
tilted back, eyes rising inward,
a train igniting down the tracks…

all the faces,
the nameless in downpours,
round warmth, animal faces in dreams,
smeared eyes of the moon…
and Silver Louie,
dried apple sauce and ketchup in his pockets,
gas station towelettes
and bath water he carried in a bucket,
his lower lip quivering like a silver jewel
bright with tear,
ecstatic, lifting off the ground…

a note in his pocket,
as translated from the original gibberish, 
was written,
“To the King of the Deep Motion,”…
in his head the king was half Lee Marvin
as “Emperor of the North,”
half Anton Chekhov in a photograph,
turning time into fire,
and half
kelp bed of the sea,
embracing the underwater sun…
three halves, that locomotive grin, that camphor-champagne, that Kwakiutl rock weed
walking headlong into the depths…

the light endured on Louie’s bones...
spectral illumination…
in the night his voice,
explaining the underbed of thought…
in the night his little eyes, still sweet…
then in the night, the back of the shoulder push at the wide gate,
and gone…
the whole moment,
scattering, crashing through honeysuckle,
upaway through red berry,
the heart in dreamic pulse…

and the dream’s choice?
feathered legs,
stone open mouth,
and lung of moonlight—

brick pillow bone,
brick dream bone,
head askew and off the cuff
leaping from the clavicle,
226,951 miles from his toe bones
to the capping bridge of his nose…

Silver-plated Louie lifting his arms,
kneading his heart
into an iron mould of broken moonlight,
welded together,
stretching across counties, century miles,
street signs and land electric through the dark…

ah, here…
his heart pressed into the street,
unbound as galaxies
faintly colliding through a missing tooth…
as Silver Louie dreamed,
we are all
mostly space…

Two Poems by Alx Johns

The Whippoorwill

The dark's solitary sound
resounds unlike words but
so like language

even other birds
ignore him
by himself on a limb, so

maybe he's just calling out to anyone
who will listen.

Like the conscience
a thorn in the flesh of the night

If you are stilled enough,
you can make out the song:


A mantra to remember your flimsiness inside.

But good luck
finding him in those black pines
to make him shut up.

He can show up
and sing all night.

No way to fight it.

Nature will empty you out.


“You know what they say,”
he said,
“There are two kinds of people in the world...”
No, there are not.  There are billions.

Bad adage.
And it's time to get rid of a few.


Loose ships
just sink.

Tight lips sting eventually.

Blood is thicker than water,
but everyone's blood is relatively
as thick as everyone else's.

Don't look any horse in the mouth.
Horses are dangerous.
Don't beat a dead one or a live one.

A cat has one life, idiot.
I saw a kitten crushed by a car.

You get more flies with honey, but what fool wants flies around.
Put out some flowers for the bees.

Stop to smell them.  Does that mean every single one?
That would make you poor and mentally ill.  Which ones should
one stop and smell?  How many per day?

You can be too careful:
Let the right woman go.
Stay in a stupid job.
Hide in your body.

All's fair in love and war
if one's willing to make war
on love and love in war.

We've heard this all before,
and here's one
I'd like to add.

Feel free to use it:
You've got to climb the mountain to meet the monk.

Two poems by Andrew Mandelbaum

Museau de Singe

Between the skimming talons
and the unswearable,
those mutinous hearts

flotsamed free,
we tie ourselves to what we will
and sing asylum down.

By pelagic twilight,
salted close, we sieve a crib
from the monkey's muzzle:
song of untranslatable custom,
vestigal heat cupped
in half-webbed hands.

The empty hips of the whale
rise beneath our treading feet--



Your long-ribbed notes uplifted beneath the blade,
sing no children from the land, only stone and stump
a sprig of bile, the sniffling of the spade.
The empty sockets in the earth where olive trees once

will never comb the honey but they will gather blood,
the curdled milk of memory in cisterns of dark rage.

Behind the western wall, the wound a gilded god,
they strain the night for watchwords; they dream of

     Aaron's rod;
but Zipporah seeks asylum from the binding oaths of ash;
she listens now in Sinai for the breath of Aaron's calf.

You're a Grand Old Flag / Grady Thrasher

 You’re a Grand Old Flag
(unless you’re a fag,
or you’re poor, or you’re sick
or you’re lame).
It’s the lapel pin of
bullshit that’s shoved
down the throats of the poor
every day.
Working folks get screwed
‘neath the Red, White and Blue
when Republicans get their way.
 Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
Vote Democrat election day!

In the Aftermath of an Engineering Binge / Bob Ambrose

My muse flipped me off last week
after too many midnights, head caught
in code, tweaking time step solvers
on an engineering binge.

She said you left that years ago
for herons, shoals, and metered lines
and who but those like you could find
your mind entranced in strings of code?

I said it’s just a short-time thing
      an algorithm coding fling
      my simulation fantasy
to make a number cruncher sing.

Just fine she said, half out the door
      composing raunchy metaphor
it’s art, I argued, and what’s more
my colleagues all swear, and you know’em

my programs resemble a poem:
      they tend to abort
      a syllable sort
ambiguous functions the normmm.

As I said, my muse
      flipped me off last week.
Took up with a wild-eyed type,
      my evil twin Sal

who drives a souped-up symbol –
      nineteen sixty seven
      or eight mustang
which has nothing on my hybrid

when it comes to efficiency.
She was last seen riding shotgun
      top down, streaming
      raucous lines, the kind

she knows I never use. To choose
      the wild, a touch
      obtuse and bad
career move for a muse

‘cause reptile brains just cannot write.
      So I propose
      a compromise
pour tu, cher muse, inverse haiku:

     “Wake up soon and savor dawn
             engineer by day             
       after sunset, yield to art”

So ready now to channel
      phrases, randy words  
      stoked in the queue
long overdue, when can we start?