"Even Though" - Larry Sheats

"Even Though" - Larry Sheats

Even though I deserve death 
You give me life 
Even though You give me peace 
I continue to fight 
Even though You hold my hand 
At times I’m still afraid 
Even though I know You hear me 
Sometimes I do not pray 
Even though the sun may shine 
I can only see the rain 
Even though You have forgiven me 
I can still feel the shame 
Even though You’re in my heart 
I can still feel the hate 
Even though You’re always on time 
I feel like You are late 
Even though I know I’m weak 
You’re strength You freely give 
Even though I want to die 
Your love makes me want to live 
Even though I hurt so much 
You comfort all the pain 
Even though all I feel is loss 
You tell me there is gain 
Even though all I see 
Is destruction from the storm 
You tell me to have faith in You 
And keep me safe from harm 
Even though I feel alone 
You are always by my side 
Even though the world is against it 
Your name I won’t deny 
Even though I don’t deserve 
Your love, mercy or grace 
You choose to bless me anyway 
And help me in this race 
So Lord I’m going to tell You 
Something You all ready know 
You love me not for what I’ve done 
But in spite of ‘even though’ 

"Ambient" - Catherine Zickgraf

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"Ambient"
(Catherine Zickgraf)



I’m demented from exhaustion again.
It’s 5 am, and my conscious mind
is scaling my skull to find its own kind.

            And I think I’m turning
wild in this wilderness,
tired of restlessness—
everyone’s abandoned the roads.

            The wind rolls in like tides, like sin—
            and I’m stalked by eyes inside these lines.
            I want to run, erase all of it—
            but I’m caged here till time unwinds.

                        So I’m fighting fear,
            fighting tears tunneling my ears,
            fighting demons that fill the stability
            they’ve prescribed me over the years.

And those screams in last night’s dreams
lead me past the graveyard path tonight
where my goals and plans once traveled my head.
I’m unraveling sanity, tossing in bed.

I’m desperate to settle down my bones,
desperate for eyes to close,
so I can float in my ocean of sheets.
But even when I finally sleep,
my mind still roams the streets.

And I’m trying to sleep.
But I run through rooms
where lights are flashing.
            I’m smashing through doors,
            soaring over the floor,
            twisting through carpeted corridors,

fleeing a roar, my folks screaming whore,
I’m unsure if I’m awake or asleep.
            And even weed doesn’t seem
            to work anymore. . .

Flooding blood swells around me.
Hell pulls me down to drown me
in the soundlessness of coffins
sliding out to sea.


"Ambient" appeared online at Red Wolf Press (Australia) in November 2013. Catherine Zickgraf, aka Catherine the Great, was February's featured reader at Word of Mouth. She has three spoken-word DVDs, the most recent being Burying the Clocks.

"Family Portrait" - Christian Trevor Lisa




"Family Portrait" 
(Christian Trevor Lisa)


The maniacal Netflix masturbator sits on his third generation Ethan Allen sofa at three o'clock in the morning earning his title. 
"Yeah" he grunts. You know exactly what I want. Start me off with three episodes of The West Wing and finish the job with the last ten minutes of The Breakfast Club."   

Skatters every cell of his body into the wind—school, binge-drinking, Bass Guitar, Radiohead, Kid Cudi, Peter Frampton, Johnny Cash, Johnny Football, 
Crossfit 
getting that perfect powerclean Olympic Weightlifting ass, 

Will Ferrel, Xbox, Eminem, Greek yogurt, Gorgonzola, Naked Juice
Networking, Scorsese, Shark Week, Ted Talks, John Mayer, he actually bought James fucking Franco’s collection of short stories and put it under his “books” section on Facebook. Family Guy, South Park, Seinfeld, Chris Farley and his wood louse of a side kick David Spade, David Sedaris, David Gilmour, David Foster Wallace, David Bowie, Larry David, Larry the lobster

Is there a person beneath this amorphous amalgamated monstrosity of stuff?     

No.

And he’s so caught up in Postmodernity and self-reflexive semiotics that he left his Jeep Laredo running outside of Planet Fitness


Dad.
The parental pylon.
He declares that he is a father in the same way that chartreuse declares itself to be a color.
Dad is bad.
Dad has a girlfriend. 
Hop on Pop. 
He has a girlfriend and a library of cologne and secret apartment. It sounds much worse than it is, plus he can justify it. 
You see, dad is sad.
Dad is housing this infinite sense of longing and regret 
contingent on things and people he has never seen
He wants something indefinite and shapeless
something he does not have.
something he has never had.
This is a fleeting feeling that establishes itself in vague, concentric pulses that orbit around his solipsism.
Dad is alone. 
Dad is sad. 
Dad is bad. 
Life is sad. 
Life can be bad. 
Heretofore Life is Dad. Et Cetera.

This prompts him to take action
    
He goes on LinkedIn while he’s drunk and attempts to maneuver an interview for a sales job at Godiva, despite the fact that he is lactose intolerant and has a master’s degree in Psychology.

He gets red-carded by his secretary for sexual harassment after watching too many episodes of The Office, and then tells his wife so that she will trust him.

He uses his connections and fourth generation smartphone to teach a class at a local college and type a syllabus, respectively.

Hi! My name is Roger Fairfax, but you can call me Roger. My office hours are MWF from 3 to 5 inside of my Kia Rio which is currently parked in lot purple 22 at Sea World.

Between class he exchanges self-serving pedagogical philosophies for cigarettes and oral sex, but only until he gets bored with the job and resigns after one semester.  

In a few years, he will retire to the third generation Ethan Allen and spend his days idly retweeting articles from The New Yorker in an attempt to bridge the gap between cultural relevancy and pretentious worldliness.


And then the daughter.
The self-involved, static-haired, sandle-faced, asshat academic suckup
Everything she says coming out in that really irritating
overtly blatant 
exposition-of-a-high-school-play type of manner 

She sets her entire resume as an email signature, like a passive-aggressive reminder that she is alive  

Toes dipped in paint, face in wax, head inside of a trash can listening to NPR on the way to the animal shelter 

She looks like a Barbie doll that slept in the dishwasher

But take her seriously because she’s the recording secretary of her high school chapter of National Honors Society

Can’t you tell by her Princeton Lacrosse sweatshirt that she is going places? 

But Mom
Mom’s New Year’s resolution is to shed all notions of self and image and any conglomeration of the two and become a skeleton,

So that finally, without eyeballs or organs or life, she can sleep and forget about that family portrait hanging in the attic, getting uglier by the day.  

from "Waiting for Ralph at the Milner Grill" - Aralee Strange



from "Waiting for Ralph at the Milner Grill"  (1992) - Aralee Strange


... Just goes to show you the power of words why you can build bridges with them if you just believe I believe I believe in love I believe in the innocence of animals I believe in dancing one two-three one two-three to a world waltz beat I believe lame Beauty could tame the beast in me but all I can say is May I have a cappuccino please? And Ralph commences jamming bandy legged and jive in another tongue Can you clap your hands (clap our hands) Can you stomp your feet (stomp our feet) Do the right words come when you need ‘em? Well drum! jump and cook a gumbo Free! all the deep down held back among you Allow it release! the one thumb piano plunk on a Sunday tambourine thumping ring around the shakey Pole who is unafraid exposed whose language transcends All do lament! another good man gone (to hell probably)  Whose slit throat bleeds Whose black skin’s unseen bruise pains deep and overwhelms and  I may be high on cheap wine and caffeine but I swear I see pale Death flying out the win­dow flying over the used car lot flying across the unbridged flood muddy river headed west. Even Death has a home. And Ralph (yet untuckered) still stalking the wild improbable However you can man do you dig it oh ain’t it dandy (and I do) in all simultaneity and with silver tongue to sing “livid and aloud” ipso facto is allowed on the open read but try as I might I am just one more white cat on the conga line dancing to another man’s drum. Am I sufficiently engaged? Does my conscience work? When the right words come crude rude and dead on will I need ‘em? I have two good ears and listen. I have two good eyes and see. I have a mind that wanders how much pull blue yonder the wild turkey’s song (strong as gravity). ... And now Ralph’s working his way out there where the sun don’t shine and if we’re lucky he’ll come back singing looking to shake things up shaking things up better watch your back when Ralph’s around better mind your poetic skew and hew a new one everytime or why bother brother for we are Us here now and they are Them there then and the question before us is not when but How do we cross over if the bridge is blown in three sections and according to plan?



An excerpt from the prose poem "Waiting for Ralph at the Milner Grill" by Aralee Strange, which appeared in Evil Dog and is dated  8-27-92. The full text is  posted online with the following note, and appeared after Aralee's passing in 2013:" .. there was a piece by Aralee that could be described as a prose poem or a non-fiction narrative. I remember hearing her read it at a literary event. Where that reading took place I can’t say, and visually I can’t recall a single detail. I still remember, though, what it sounded like when she read it—and I’ll bet that anyone who’s heard her read can imagine what it sounded like when she delivered these words."

"Bomb Shelter" - Jay Morris


 

"Bomb Shelter" 
(Jay Morris)


I'll ask you if you think it's possible to love a bomb shelter

You'll ask me why

I'll say it's because that's what I pretend to be

When I feel like the world is closing in on me

My meditative happy space

To meditate or medicate

That is the question



These hands are not my hands

These feet are not my feet

This heart is not my heart

They are the brick and mortar

I bought with my defense budget



This skin is not my skin

It's 7 inches of hard, cold obsidian

To fend off the inevitable irradiation of an erroneous environment

You'll laugh at me because you think I'm making a joke about my dick

I'll tell you not to interrupt my existential crisis

It's serious

It always will be



I'll tell you how some days

Every word said over me



And not to me

Whistles like the mouth of a warhead through the air

Terminal velocity until its detonation of impersonal conversation

Around me

When other eyes register my perimeter and then quickly look away

I feel like the landscape is splintered around me

The bombs go off in my vicinity

Barely missing me

Intentionally

Disguising this test of endurance

As a test of luck



I'll tell you how some nights

I can sit in a room full of people

And feel as desolate

as the aftermath of a nuclear fallout

The ruins of my city

Populated by the inevitable irradiation

This erroneous environment reeks

Of a macabre miasma

The smell of spoiled vintage

And silver aura radiating

Around the halos of skulls long in the tooth

No longer aged and wise

Just decomposing

As our vitality pretends we won't

As our mortality portends we do



I try to ward off the vapor

With the salts and silver smelted in

The enamel of my too short teeth

But they stay rooted in their canals

Guards of show, not of action

Wanting for hands to cover my mouth with

Wanting for feet to walk away

Wanting for a heart to pump life and color

To differentiate me from this silver haze

I have become a macabre monument

To edify this radiated ruin



Populated by you

Fluent in the language of light

Clairvoyant future demystifying the fog

I stood still in



You stand at my barricade

You look me in the eye

Then down at the weeds encroaching on my perimeter

In your presence, the weeds whisper flowers

Forget-me-nots if you’re romantic

Roses if you’re not



You rub your fingers gently along roughness of my rocky walls

Spread your warmth on the coldness of my obsidian facade

Press your lips against my door

Reminding me of my mouth

And with it, newly formed I ask you

Do you think you can love a bomb shelter?

You say yes

I've even made it my home.


"Catkin time" - Bob Ambrose, Jr.



"Catkin time"
February 25; March 14, 2014
(Bob Ambrose, Jr.)



When catkins swell the tips of alder 
red fringed auras 
of river side maple 
soften the bare edge of winter 

In air set sharp 
against the stale drift 
and sullen throes 
of late stage February. 

You would not call this tame day 
mellow – that is past and yet to be – 
but buried deep in dead brown 
sameness, spirits gather. 

I wish these days would hurry on – 
my mother’s presence 
pierces years to conjure sun 
and wrap the world in warmer tones. 

And I hear his gentle rejoinder 
that soothing faux-scold timbre 
tinged with a twinkle – 
Don’t wish your only life away. 

Dad was the ever-enduring hills 
she an effervescent air-kiss
the smiles and dreams of springs to come.
Now both are gone. 

So I throw on a warm layer 
zip inside my black hoodie 
and huddle out back 
in a broken pool of light 

Wishing with mother for 
ever warmth and winter’s end 
and feeling my father’s calm 
as if from distance – stay, stay 

Spirits of the earth and air 
are washed clean in cold breeze 
beneath the bare-branch starling tree 
on catkin edge of winter time. 



(photo by Michelle Castleberry)