"My Story" - David Noah

"My Story" - David Noah

My story grabs a hobo’s name
out of a boxcar and stabs it on my tux with a safety pin.
It draws blood with every breath.

My story is embarrassed
to see lovers fight in an elevator.
It is the Mammoth Cave National Park gift shop, but not Mammoth Cave.

My story is retired and lives on a pension in a small Mexican town, for tax purposes. 
Like a zen master squirrel, it is always on the other side of the tree.
Or it wears aftershave on a full beard.

My story is napping and wants to be alone.
It is six years old and runs by a snow-melt creek in Flagstaff AZ. 
It lurches when it walks, and sports a shy grin.

My story is about the women I have loved and the men I haven’t. 
It is a flag I wave when I forget to be alive. 
My story my story my story

goes bump bump bump down the stairs,
followed by a library of books
making narrative arcs all the way down

like a herd of feral slinkies.
My story is homeless, and uncertain about its future. 
My story won’t shut up.

"April at Hark’s Bar" - Gregory de Rocher

"April at Hark’s Bar" - Gregory de Rocher

In the further afternoon, at Hark’s Bar,
April stares through her beer.
Her slouch aims her gaze into the blond cosmos
where snow is falling upside-down.
It explodes and disappears on the yellowing mirror.

April, who was fairest of them all, April without showers,
before her flowering, when the gardens of Eden
were as nothing to her perfumed bowers and irised spendor,
when her eyes were life itself contemplating new life,
love enshrined, grace in the flesh, joy oblivious of its bounds,
before hops were summoned to make her new again . . .

That April is gone,
so she will now have time for yet another.

(photo by Michelle Castleberry)

"A Mundane Pride" - Jay Morris

"A Mundane Pride" - Jay Morris

You woke up this morning
And even though your body
Felt like it had suffered a small death
In the dark, sleeping hours
You got out of bed.

You took a shower
And even though the pounding water
Echoed panic, panic, panic
Can't you see the world is flooding
Go back to bed
You stepped out, shook yourself dry
And were clean. 

You got dressed
And even though your reading hands
Said there was too much here
Or too little here
Or this stretch of skin just won't do
You put your clothes on with 
A mundane pride.

You made breakfast
And even though your appetite
Felt like a loss of control
You ate.
You felt your food hit the bottom of your stomach
And took comfort in the solid sound of the reverberation.
You are not the dark center of the universe
You think you are.

You went to work
And even though 
The frantic sound of typing fingers
Sounded like the lurid language
Of frenzied dragonflies whose 
Vocabulary consisted only of the words
Not good enough
You made it through.
You were good enough.
Even if it was just for today.

You went home.
Undeservingly exhausted
You crawled back into bed
Pulled the covers over your head
Made no promises for tomorrow.
You measure your lifetime in days now

And there are still hours left in this one.
There are still minutes left in this one.
There are still seconds left in this one.
And every tick of the clock is a step forward
On the lifelong road to recovery.

Jay Morris read "A Mundane Pride" on the Poets' Porch during the Prince Avenue Art Crawl on Saturday, October 11. (Photo by David Noah).

"My younger self talks to my older self after meeting me at the coffee shop" - Mark Bromberg

"My younger self talks to my older self after meeting me at the coffee shop" - Mark Bromberg

"... but you don't go hiking any more?"
"Oh sure, the urban canyons are pretty exciting too."

"No I mean the mountains and the woods."
"At this age it's all mountains and woods. The streets are filled with beasts and wonders."

"Well that seems like a cop-out for some kind of old book-reading hippie."
"But you see, that's the pleasure of it. After awhile, to a certain age, the fun is all up here."

(my older self taps noggin.) "I have friends."
"Not only imaginary ones, I hope."

"Real ones. Just because I'm older doesn't mean my brains don't work."
"Still a hard head, though. Putting your head through a windshield ..."

"No, that was you, remember, freshman year in Toronto,
riding shotgun in a '65 Mustang."

"Oh yeah, right. Well, your memory's good."
"I'm still a writer, smart-ass. Now I just topple over occasionally."

"Ouch. Well, the falls still haven't knocked any sense into you."
"It's a gift. I'm still more surprised by imagination than reality."

" ... well, gotta run. I'm heading to the bookstore for more Burroughs."
"See you there ... still reading. Some things don't change."

"Anything I haven't done yet? I'm surprised I'm still around at 60 plus."
That question stops the older me for a minute. Finally, I have it.

"Only one thing. ... you still haven't met Keith Richards."

(2013 photo by David Noah)

"LAND USE" - John P. Wares

"LAND USE" - John P. Wares

Time is dragged out. Long. A lot of potential. 
Lets go night build a trail 
with a Subaru and a shovel.
The shirts unbutton on lower limbs
and fragments of glass reflect 
what was back then and now is gone
layers of what we call now become then
society ends as the architect.
Taproot after cutting so deep around, 
rogue hoe in big swings
Dirt flung left and back
And the attachment, long tooth,
Reaches for the creek that has run
Longer than we can count 
and through more people's lives. 
Cotton fields, train hands, 
homeless, homestead. 
House burned and collapsed. 
Roads swung past. 
Train gone. 
Woods get thick. 
Televisions abandoned, 
toys and mattresses dumped. 
Dogs walk and discovered 
by new pathways, 
we dig down to the mineral 
and leave rust ribbons 
through flowering woods. 
Sawtooth yucca, 
magnolia, privet, pine. 
This stump will need a saw, 
blade into clay, 
to come away clean. 
For the long term, we think: 
another layer is still coming. 
And then:
Not the same as riding boxcars
But this path requires the gap
Between trains and bulls
A vigilance for trespass
The shared utility with beer drinker
Can huffer, night fucker. 
And it shimmers with blackberry,
Web, possum print, ivy. 
It sticks to you. The day ends and
Red blood has identity
Feeling the next day 
I'll sleep when I'm dead
Pack life into life
Not three years on a toilet,
not if you can help it:
Shit outside when you can. 

Word of Mouth @ the PRINCE AVE ART CRAWL

Let's all go to the ART CRAWL and get ourselves some art! 

Saturday from 5 pm-9 pm, the PRINCE AVE ART CRAWL is happening  from the Go Bar to Piedmont College campus. Art / music / spoken word / poetry / fashion / theater / sights and sounds celebrating and benefitting the Athens Area Arts Council. Be sure to stop by the "POETRY WHILE U WAIT" table and get a poem created on the spot by an idea you give the poets! 

Here is the schedule for the Cobb House:
Spoken Word Performance 1
5:00 - 5:15 - WoM - Bob Ambrose
5:15 - 5:25 - Rabbit Box - Elsa Russo
5:25 - 5:35 - AWA - Katherine Cerulean
5:45 - Underground Dance Society
Spoken Word Performance 2
5:55 - 6:10 - WoM - Sharon McCoy
6:10 - 6:20 - RB - Ivan Sumner 
6:20 - 6:30 - AWA - Trevor Lisa
6:30 - Underground Dance Society
Spoken Word Performance 3 
6:45 - 6:55 - WoM - Mark Bromberg 
6:55 - 7:10 - RB - David Oates
7:10 - 7:20 - AWA - Rob White
Open Mic
7:20 - 9:00

And starting at 5 pm, The Poet's Porch at 545 Prince [next to the old Athens Art + Frame location] will feature readings by Word of Mouth poets Jay Morris, Bridgette Barton, Alex Johns, Shafkat Khan and others .. Come on by and get a poem created on the spot at the "Poetry While U Wait" table, too!

Here is the interactive map for the event: http://www.map-dynamics.com/athensartwalk/

"Hotel Luciano" - Lucian Horescu

"Hotel Luciano" - Lucian Horescu 
(translated by Katrina Horescu Kovac)

My heart is a cheap hotel, with 365 rooms
open year round.
no Taliban accepted, no bourgeois or petrodollars ...
only Athenian bohemia

Nichita left me an empty Stolichnaya bottle,
Kenna a strand of her hair.
Aralee and Don, a strong odor of Marlboro.
Theodor, Constantin, and Ioan, 3 books of poetry ...
Who reads anymore?

The last visitor, Emilia, asked me:
How much for 1 night, 3 people, 1 bed?
A photo of your black eyes, bellissima.

Once a month, on the first Wednesday,
I rent out all the rooms.
I set up tents in my lungs.

And our breaths, Terrapin-scented, rise to the sky ...
a sacrifice for Aralee and her Muses,
to protect us from bad poetry.

Inima mea este un hotel ieftin,  cu 365 camere,
Deschis tot anul.
Nu primesc Talibani, Burghezi, sau Petrodolari ... 
Numai Bohema Ateniana.

Nichita mi-a lasat o sticla de Stolichnaya goala,
Kenna o suvita din parul ei. 
Aralee si Don, un puternic miros de Marlboro. 
Theodor, Constantin si Ioan, vreo 3 carti de poezie.... 
Cine mai citeste, astazi ?  

Ultimul vizitator, Emilia, m-a intrebat:
Cat costa o noapte, 3 persoane, un pat ?  
O fotografie cu ochii tai, bellissima. 

Odata pe luna, prima miercuri, 
Inchiriez toate camerele. 
Asez corturi in plamanii mei.  

Si respiratiile noastre, cu miros de Terapin, se ridica la cer....
Un sacrificiu pentru Aralee si Muzele ei, 
Sa ne fereasca de poezie proasta.

("Hotel Luciano" was read at Word open mic in the original Romanian by Luciano and in English by Emily Gundlach on October 1. July 2014 photo by Michelle Castleberry.)

October Word

Thanks to all the readers at October Word and to Nick Barrows, who brought the big noise from Cincinnati last night. (photo by Charley Seagraves)