"At Night Like A Hothouse" / "The Ambulance Howls" - David Noah

"At Night Like A Hothouse" - David Noah

At night like a hothouse I dream orchids.
Under a sheet, under the sky, under a spell,
I cup my ear to the door
(beyond that door another door)
and listen to my dreams tell me
what it means to wake up.
While on the other side of the door
someone else listens to my heart beat
and refuses, from compassion, to speak. 

"The Ambulance Howls" - David Noah

The ambulance howls
high and long—it’s on the scent.

We pull over and crouch
like terrified gazelles by the roadside.

Let it pass by.
Let it find some other tragic avenue.

Let it sniff around the alleys
in another part of town.

Let it turn the corner on a far road
where I don’t love anyone.

Let it hunt in the dead ends,
in the hidden cul-de-sacs,

on the abandoned boulevards
where weeds crack the pavement.

No one I know lives on that street.
Everyone I know lives on that street.

(image: "Study for the Human Body," Francis Bacon, 1950)

"The Mother We Share" - Jay Morris

"The Mother We Share" - Jay Morris

As you breathe and crackle
With the fires of creation
Spontaneously combusting
Into greater circles of life
Walking in your orbit
Like you own the sky
A crown of brilliant light
Circled around your head
Waves of air bending hazy and obedient
To the authority of your solar sovereignty

And I, the lesser twin
Born from the cosmic trauma
Of celestial violence
Waxing and waning
Manic and depressive
Stumbling heavy and strange in my orbit
You own the sky, but I visit it
As the extradited thief of a greater light
I use to spin my halo of a lesser gold
Waves of water bending tidal and taunting
To the wavering rule of a lost and lunar king

And if we come from the same womb,
Why do you see life so free, and I see it as a tomb?
If we do indeed have a mother that we share,
Why do I see life as a chore, and you see it as a dare?

Do you love me, brother?

(photo by Michelle Castleberry)

"A Prayer of June in Green and Brown" - Bob Ambrose

"A Prayer of June in Green and Brown" - Bob Ambrose

To be present at creation
and wander deep time
weightless as the moment itself,
for eternity is an inbreath

of early June evening,
when life hums a low note
and late sun filters softness
through darkening shade;

or the pool of morning,
when buzz-trill and chirp-call
weave the tree tops, waking
whole days; or in the still-breath,

when slant yellow renders
shades of green to veins of gold
and the nervous house wren
pauses on a porch rail

regarding options.
He fans a tiny wing,
darts eyes, twitches
twice, flies. Action

breaks the idle spell, restores
the world to green and brown.
I do not trust a golden throne
guarded by pearl encrusted

gates. Just give me Now
in my outbreath and God
in the garden, trailing
dew beads to a new solstice.

(Photo by Michelle Castleberry, June 2014)

"Full Wolf Moon Rose" - Gabe Newman

Full Wolf Moon Rose - Gabe Newman

I took a shot looking at that blurry white line
It was clear to me, someone was talking to me
Full Wolf Moon, the smallest of the year
My stance was centered and at rest
She shown down a little to the right
A slight cut shot on the felt and to the left
Most would call a gimme, but sometimes they're missed
A few loved ones came to mind, but only for support
She stood above in my mind space
Under that night time sky, I was able to see
Her face was shining as always with glee
And, so it was that I kissed
Sister moon shined brighter as if it were a sun
With rays stretching outward, and downward
They reached to the ground
Touching precisely that blurry white line
My eyes do not see the way they once did
But, no spectacles are needed on the table I play
My sight is just fine as I shoot by the light
Full Wolf Moon Rose just last night

"Kentucky Towns" - David Oates

Kentucky Towns - by David Oates

Woodstock, Walden, Olympia, Ravenna, Argyle, Yuma, 
Heidelburg, Turkey, Savoy, Athol, Elba, Berlin, Paradise, Paris, Nevada, Nazareth, Corinth, Cordoba, Bagdad, Aberdeen, Egypt, English, Empire, Volga, Moon. 

Andyville, Bobtown, Fredville, Dabney, Artemus, Melvin, Thelma, Roslyn, Zoe, Valerie, Maizie, Milo, Minnie, Olga, Hector, Lothair, Etty, Inez, Charley, Wilbur, Martha, Everman, Judy, Nancy, Yancy, Twila, Seymour, Vernon, Exie, Naomi, Zachariah, Mozelle, Hosea, Isom, Jeremiah, Elihu, Meshack, Jabez. 

Blaine, Deane, Yerkes, Slade, Mize, Frakes, Scalf, Pryse, Totz, Kerz, Strunk, Dwale, Roark. 

Helton, Yeaddiss, Botto, Sibert, Benge, Panco, Chavies, Bulan, Darfork, Fisty, Leburn, Littcarr, Fleming, 
Hellier, Dorton. 

Seventy-six! Eighty Eight!
Mook, Cropper, Alpha, Apex, Bond, Antepast,  
Confluence Combs Sassafras Salmon Saylor. 

Haddix, Grethel, Gulnare, Keaton, Mima, Yocum, Alva, Bowen, Nippa, Sitka, Kimper, Millard, Trosper, Keavy, Nebo, Siler. 

Kite, Bruin, Primrose, Dykes, Quail, Magnolia. 
Canoe Flat Shoulderblade Mummie Herd. 
Grade, Pointer, Crocus. 
Gatliff, Cundiff, Cottle, Conkling, Tyner, Nuckols, Elys, Himyar, Bybee, Trimble, Faubush, Dubr, Gridler, Crider, Colmar, Cubage. 

Subtle Highway Breeding: 
Hogue, Frogue. 
Coalgood; Chevrolet, Crummies. 

Alza, Liggett, Bardo, Hollard, Evarts, Putney, Gilpin, Vester, Knifley, Molus, Nerinx, Burgin, Rumsey, Browder, Beda, Esto, Sudith. 

Parrot, Black Gnat, Newt, Badger, Monkeys 
Eyebrow, Duckers, Honey Bee. 
Happy-Viper Bush Quicksand/Sublett Neon Democrat. 

Parnell, Garrard, Lerose, Arnett, Depoy, Ezell, Mattoon. 


Saloma, Williba, Chenoa, Avawam, Mariba, Tallega, Labascus, Moberly, Yamacraw, Kuttawa, Matanzas, McAfee, Allegre, Camargo. 

Goldbug Peoples Black Snake.
Dwarf Dukes Lackey. 
Flippin Custer Cutshin Ledbetter! 
Bent Magnum, Blaze Cannon--Pomp! 

Elkatawa. Helechawa. 

Raven, Torrent, Sharkey, Vortex, Furnace, Nada.  

Drip Rock, Cub Run, Salt Gum, Mud Lick, War Branch. Wofford, Saxton, Gausdale, Oddville, Curbsville, Hiseville, Shopville. 

Slusher Meally, Add Boreing.
Drift. . . .

Preachersville, Tollesboro, Ewington, Elamton, Fogertown, Ringos Mills, Dycusburg. 

Ordinary Hope--Relief. 
Ages, Wisdom, Joy.  

"To the Women I’ve Never Met" - Elsa Russo

"To the Women I've Never Met" - Elsa Russo

My dear Aralee
I’m sorry to say you are not the first
Nor I suspect far from the last
Woman that I have wanted to meet
And simply showed up too late

My family has legends
And they are great legends
Of women of great wisdom and power and humor
Given different circumstances they could have been veterinarians or fashion designers or better
Sadly, I was born, simply too late

I have heard stories
Of the women that I saw
As older more settled creatures
Wrinkled and smelling of avon skin cream and age
And I was too late to see them young

I have been told
Of my first best ex’s mother
Who was the first to tell his father he could do whatever he wanted
Pushed her children to believe that too
But I found John too late

I have been shown photographs
Of friends, lovers, mothers, grandmothers
Cousins, sisters, teachers, mentors,
And poets
You would have loved her and she would have loved you, I’m sorry that I showed up too late

But I can assure you
The memory of you has never withered nor faded
From the minds of those who have told me about you
Through them I hear the echoes of you
And I wish that I hadn’t shown up too late

I said in a recent poem
How I believed time travel could be possible
Through the stitches sewn into a garment
I also think it’s possible through the stitches of a memory
And the memories that stitch each person to another
And by following the stitches back
Through the people that knew you
I will achieve my task and find you waiting there
With a smile on your face
And maybe then I’ll realize that I've never been too late

(photo of Aralee Strange by Bob Brussack)

"White Privilege" - Trevor Lisa

"White Privilege" - Trevor Lisa

Jesus’s biggest miracle was probably his own ethnicity.
Jesus Christ, our lord and savior, was white.
Jesus Christ, our lord and savior, born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania was white. 
Jesus was white and he spoke English. 
Jesus was white and spoke English and was a self-identified Anglo-Saxon, descent of the Mayflower. 

Jesus Christ, our lord and savior, born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania was white and spoke English and was a self-identified Anglo-Saxon, descent of the Mayflower and an articulate, good-looking, athletic, moderately conservative white person, very fortunate to have a hard-working father able to fund him in the areas of private kindergarten at the Goddard school, summer accelerated reading classes, competitive travel sports, and easy-going day care to keep exactly 3-4 sets of eyeballs on him while he, himself was earning a living teaching classes on civil engineering at Penn State, and his wife quite literally making history as the first female VP their country club homeowners association, just outside of Princeton, New Jersey.

In elementary school Jesus’s parents pushed him into getting involved with Unicef and Habitat for Humanity, where he spent months at a time groaning about ‘how stupid this was’ and that none of his other friends were doing anything like this, and that he just wanted to stay home and play on the weekends like any normal kid. In 1989 Jesus’s parents made him write an essay on the importance of helping others for the annual 4th grade social studies essay contest. It won third prize, and on the drive home from the end-of-the-year award ceremony at St. Anthony’s Elementary school his parents told him that he had ‘a big heart’ and that life would be good to him.  
In 1993 Jesus enrolled in a prestigious Catholic Boarding school in southeastern Pennsylvania and was one of exactly three Freshman to make the varsity hockey team, eventually wowing the coaching staff when he scored his first goal on a breakaway with a side-to-side deke that was so fluid and well-executed and fucking impressive that it lived on as its own autonomous thing. This, along many acts of similar substance—afforded him a starting spot during the 1993 season at right wing, as an utter lefty. Jesus was 14, turning 15 in December.

In practice he was known for ripping wicked wristshots from the top of the circle, once catching his goalie off guard, and giving him a nasty shiner on his collarbone. His older teammates, totally floored with what one would later describe as ‘a feeling of impotence’ started doing the requisite teenage-male faux-inquiry into whether or not Jesus had been taking any sort of anabolic steroids. Of course he hadn’t. But from here spawned the moniker ‘Jesus: King of the Juice’ and the name stuck and faded like a bruise. 

The 1993 season ended with an overtime loss to Holy Ghost in the third round of the playoffs. Don’t get me wrong, everyone was bummed, but with Jesus averaging in excess of 10 shots a period, the remaining three years of his tenure were going to be pretty eventful.

But the whole story becomes really unfortunate from here. At the school sports banquet, after being crowned offensive player of the year, the jealous and scholarship-dependent Judas was tired of this over-achieving freshman. He was a senior going on to play at Dartmouth and this whole thing was just bullshit. Ra-Ra favoritism. He and his cronies took Jesus out into the courtyard and roughed him up a good bit and broke his nose in the faltering coldness of the April evening, and they hung him by his underwear from the outstretched hand of a statue of the school’s founder,  flailing, shouting, the King of the Juice. And everybody laughed.

"Sign up, mouth off, pay attention"


Thanks to everyone who made June's Word of Mouth open mic such a warm tribute to Aralee!  There were many shared memories (and new milestones made too -- Trevor reading onstage and his parents in the audience  may be a first!) ... Aralee would be happy to see the Word of Mouth community of poets thriving and so filled with Athens' creative energy. 

Be sure to link to the Athens Word of Mouth Facebook page at the link below and leave a message if you would like your open mic poem posted here on the blog during the month of June.